Sermon 690. A Lesson From The Great Panic
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 13, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."Hebrews 12:27.
IT is a most popular error that the world stands still and is fixed and immovable. This has been touted as an astronomicaltheory, but as a matter of practical principle it still reigns in men's minds. Galileo said, "No, the world is not a fixedbody, it moves." Peter had long before declared thatall these things should be dissolved. At last men believed the astronomer-but they still doubt the Apostle, or at leastforget his doctrine. Though it is clear as noonday in Scripture and in experience that stability is not to be found beneaththe moon, yet men are foreverbuilding upon earth's quicksand as if it were substantial rock, and heaping up its dust as though it would not all be blownaway.
"This is the substance," cries the miser, as he clutches his bags of gold. "Heaven and Hell are myths to me." "This is themain chance," whispers the merchant as he pushes vigorously his commercial speculations. "As for spiritual things they arefor mere dreamers and sentimentalists. Cash is thetrue treasure." Ah, Sirs, you base your statements upon a foundation of falsehood! This world is as certainly a mere revolvingball as to human life as it is astronomically! And hopes founded on it will as surely come to nothing as will card housesin a storm. Here we have noabiding city and it is in vain to attempt to build one. This world is not the rock beneath our feet which it seems to be-itis no better than those green, but treacherously soft and bottomless bogs which swallow up unwary travelers!
We talk of terra firma as if there could be such a thing as solid earth! Never was an adjective more thoroughly misused, forthe world passes away and the fashion thereof. Every now and then, in order to enforce this distasteful truth upon us, theGod of Providence gives the world, in some way orother, a warning shake. The Lord has only to lay one finger upon the world and the mountains are carried into the midstof the sea, while the waters of the ocean roar and are troubled until the mountains shake with their swelling.
The most solid fabrics of human skill and industry are dissolved at the voice of the Most High. Though they appear to possessthe firmness of earth and claim the sublimity of Heaven, yet one Divine word shakes earth and Heaven in a moment. Lookingback through history you will observe many periodsof very tremendous shakings-the records of which are indelibly engraved upon human memory. An empire has been piled up byconquest and cemented by policy and power. Monarchs of gigantic mind have been sustained by armies of indomitable valor andgreat dynasties have beenestablished whose reign promised to be as enduring as the sun. But God has shaken, and the diadem has fallen, and the kingdombecome desolate.
Babylon sat as a Queen and said, "I shall see no sorrow," but she became desolate and her palaces crumbled into a heap ofruins. The power of Persia wore the aspect of permanence and proudly claimed universal dominion, but the iron rod of Alexanderbroke it in pieces as a potter's vessel. Nor couldthe Macedonian empire long continue but soon gave place to the mightier power of Rome, which, with all its valiant legions,lasted but its time and then, like a bowing wall, fell headlong to the ground. Even as a moment's foam dissolves into thewave that bears it and is lostforever, so dynasties, republics, empires all pass away. As a dream, when one awakes, their image is gone forever.
Between the intervals of these great revolutions there have been changes less extensive but still of the same warning character.Every now and then in our commerce God gives a serious shake to our affairs. Men usually have a degree of confidence in theirfellow men, and on the strength of thislegitimate confidence, business flourishes. But, all of a sudden, as though seized with madness, they say in their hastewith David, "All men are liars," and clamor for their gold. The boat is quite able to ferry them all across the stream ifthey will have patience-but theyare carried away with the notion that it will soon be swamped.
And therefore they push and fight to get on board all at once and bring to pass the very evil which they feared! Had theybut a little patience and a little forbearance-were they much less greedy and much more considerate of others- things mightstill go well enough. But selfishnesstakes fire at the least suspicion, blazes into mistrust, and setting its neighbor's house on fire to save its own candle,soon finds its own dwelling in flames, too. Greed is so afraid lest one brick of its house should be stolen that it pullsout the cornerstone to keep it safeunder the bed-and the whole building tumbles about its ears.
Few of us ever dreamed of seeing such a panic as that of the last two days, and now, pausing in the midst of it, it may bewell to look around. What about these commercial shakings? How can we account for them? Are they not results of the law ofchange and instability which is stamped upon everycreated thing? Instead of wondering at panics, we may well wonder that they do not come more often! In considering the bodyof the commonwealth, we may say of it as Dr. Watts does of our natural body-
"Strange that a harp of thousand strings Should keep in tune so long."
No wonder that the machine of commerce sometimes gets out of order! The wonder is that with so much dirt of trickery, deceitand covetousness, it goes on at all! Considering the depravity of the heart of man, it is perfectly marvelous that human governmentsare so stable and that mortal affairs runso smoothly. We can only attribute it to the presiding Providence of God that there are not many more crashes and disasters.But still what of these shakings? If they must come, what must we say of them? Why, this much-that ultimately they are amongthe greatest blessingswhich God sends us-for with all their attendant calamities they shake only the things which may be shaken. While the thingswhich cannot be shaken remain, and remain in a healthier state because the unsound and rotten things have been discoveredand removed.
We shall regard our text as declaring a great general principle, that God shakes in order that the things which can be shaken,may fall. And that the things which cannot be shaken, may remain. We will try to carry out that principle to practical purposethis morning.
I. First the original drift of the statement refers to THE OLD JEWISH DISPENSATION. The ceremonial law was a very wonderfulsystem of types and figures. To the spiritually-minded Israelite it was an illustrated book full of precious teaching. Prophetsand kings delighted to study it. Such men asDavid and the like perused its sacred pages both day and night with ever fresh delight. But, after all, the Jewish dispensation,with all its outward splendor and inward meaning, was still a thing that could be shaken-and therefore when its time of shakingcame, all thecreated part of it passed away-and only its eternal truths remained.
Today we find the Jew, but we do not find the Mosaic economy. Israel has neither priest, nor sacrifice, nor altar, nor temple.Jerusalem is trod under foot by the Gentiles and Zion's hill no longer echoes to the voice of Psalms. Judah's sons are banishedfar away and her daughters dwell in exile.The outward economy was shaken at the coming of our Lord and as an external thing has ceased to be. How was it that it couldbe shaken? One reason was that it had so much to do with materialism. It needed an altar of earth or stone and such altarsthe hand of the spoiler canoverturn. It required a bullock that has horns and hoofs, and such sacrifices the plague may slay. It demanded a priestof the house of Aaron and a race of men may be cut off from the families of the nations. It needed a tabernacle or a temple,and a building made with hands isreadily demolished-it could be shaken.
The veil of the temple has been rent. The great stones of the temple are thrown down. A priest with Urim and Thummim no moreappears and a consecrated altar no longer smokes. Where is the ark with its mystic cherubim? Where the table of showbread,and the golden candlestick, and the tables ofstone? These were but things which are made, and they have been shaken and removed. But the things which cannot be shakenstill remain. Our spiritual altar still endures. Our great High Priest still lives. Our house not made with hands is stilleternal in the heavens. Our spiritualfaith depends not upon materialism.
We have no altar of brass or stone-our Lord Jesus sanctifies our offerings. We have no incense of frankincense and onycha-themerits of our Savior are sweeter by far. We need no temple nor holy of holies within the veil, for we worship God in spirit,and-
"Wherever we seek Him He is found, And everyplace is hallowed ground.
We have given up all that which binds unseen realities to the shadows, which are seen. And now we are no more as to our faithin bondage to the beggarly elements of matter, time, and space. The Jewish religion could be shaken because it could be combatedby material forces. Antiochus could profaneits altars. Titus could burn its temple and cast down the walls of the sacred city.
But no invader can pollute the heavenly altar of our spiritual faith by brute force, or destroy the celestial bulwarks ofour hope by fire and sword. Material forces are not available in our warfare, for we wrestle not with flesh and blood. Thetyrant may burn our martyrs and cast our confessorsinto prison, but the pure Truth of Jesus is neither consumed by fire nor bound with chains! It has within itself essentialimmortality and liberty. The doctrine that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners is no more to be wounded by thesword of persecution than is theocean to be scarred by the keels of navies.
When winds may be manacled, when waves are fettered, and when clouds may be shut up in dungeons-then, no not even then-maythe Word of God be bound. The free spirit of the Cross of Christ cannot be vanquished by armies, nor can legions tread itdown. If our devotion hovered around anearthly shrine and could only be presented by a certain order of men robed in a peculiar garb and chanting a peculiar ritual,then the Truth of Christ might be put down for awhile, if not extinguished. But we depend on none of these things! We canas well worship God in barns as inbasilicas, in catacombs as in cathedrals! Farmers and paupers are as much priests to God as presbyters or prelates-and solemnsilence may yield as true praise as the voices of the sons of music with all their pipes and organs. Our religion is so spiritualthat Death itself, inridding us of these material bodies, shall rather assist than injure our devotions! We laugh to scorn both spear, and sword,and buckler! Our holy faith is beyond the reach of carnal weapons.
Moreover, the Mosaic economy passed away because it could be affected by time. The ark was made of long-enduring gopher wood,but it has yielded to time. The veil was one of the most costly and durable fabrics, but it yielded to the strain and wasrent from top to bottom. The temple itself, if ithad not been destroyed by the enemy, would have grown gray with age, for age strikes with impartial hand buildings bothholy and profane. "Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away."
But see the doctrine of the Cross of Christ! No time affects it. The message of salvation by Divine Grace is as fresh todayas when Peter preached it at Pentecost! The great command, "Believe and live," has as much life-giving power about it as whenit was first applied by the Holy Spirit. No timeaffects the promise of the Father, the merit of the blood of Jesus, or the energy of the Divine Spirit-therefore our faithremains.
Beloved Friends, many more shakings may come. Romanism, which is a spurious reproduction of the materialism of Judaism, needsa shake to destroy it. Puseyism, an equally gross and carnal combination of the outward and visible with the inward and unseen,will also pass away when its hour comes. Butthe faith once delivered to the saints will outlive every change! The symbol is transient, the spiritual Truth of God iseternal! Over every form of material worship there shall be pronounced the sentence, "Earth to earth, dust to dust, ashesto ashes"-but the pure spiritualfaith of Jesus Christ can never die-the blessed doctrine that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, andall those glorious doctrines which cluster around the Cross of Christ shall survive "the wreck of matter and the crash ofworlds."
They shall not only remain, but remain in greater clearness and in fuller power because the things that could be shaken aretaken away-created things only dim the luster of the Cross-and art made by human sin is a veil to hide the Redeemer's glory!The more completely they are removedthe more plainly shall we see the Cross of Christ in open vision. "They shall perish, but you remain. And they all shallwax old as does a garment, and as a vesture shall you fold them up, and they shall be changed: but you are the same, and youryears shall not fail."
II. We now turn the light of our text upon another subject. ALL THAT IS TRUE IN OUR PROFESSED CREEDS AND STANDARDS WILL STANDWHEN MERE OPINIONS ARE SHAKEN. Some of us, though young, are old enough to recollect a great many theological panics-panicsvery nearly as foolish as that in LombardStreet-for there are other old ladies besides those who rush to the bank to draw out their deposits.
It is not so very long ago that we had a certain "Rivulet" controversy. Then came the noisier battle of the "Essays and Reviews."By-and-by a live bishop fired off an arithmetical cannon at Moses and now all sorts of writers are hammering away at the "Lifeof Christ." What may be next we cannottell. When these attacks occur there is generally a very great alarm among timid Believers. They say, "What will happennow? People do not respect authority. They used to receive sound teaching because they were taught it. Now they want to knowthe reason of everything. Alas,Master, what shall we do?"
It is true that men are beginning to raise very serious questions, and some which will not be answered today nor tomorrow.They want us to prove that the Bible is the Word of God instead of accepting it as such. The skepticism which questions everythingis very rife and cannot be stifled, for itpersists in putting its questions again and again, and saying, "No, I will never be quiet until I get an answer." Is thereany real cause for fear in all this? Will the Truth of God, as it is in Jesus, suffer damage from these attacks? My Brethren,I believe that it has not sufferedand will not sustain an injury, but, on the contrary, will be made the more triumphant!
I cannot excuse or even make an apology for those who make these attacks upon the Word of God-to their own Master they standor fall. Above all I cannot say a word in the defense of certain professed ministers of Christ who only exercise their callingto undermine that which they profess tohave been called to defend. But, Brethren, whoever may be the instruments-whether they are professed men of God or overtservants of the devil-I do not believe that controversial shakings can lead to the destruction of a single Truth, but to thebringing out of thatwhich is true and separating it from falsehood.
During the Reformation period the pulpits resounded with the doctrine of justification by faith and little else, and manyheresies arose until attention was directed to other Truths equally necessary to edification-so that a more complete Gospeltestimony was promoted. Just now the tug of warseems to gather around the doctrine of future punishment which I believe to be as certain as the existence of God and theinspiration of Holy Scripture! Struggle against it will only bring out that Truth of God more and more clearly, and will makethe ministers of Christ thunder itout with greater certainty, and so, by God's Grace, sinners will be alarmed and driven to the Cross of Christ for comfort.Never be afraid, my Brethren-the Truth of God will bear threshing and lose nothing but the husk which surrounded it!
Fear not for the Truth of God because of the ability and education of its foes! The wisest man living is a fool when he fightsagainst the Truth as it is in Jesus, and you will be a match for him when he is on the side of wrong. Do not give infidelitycredit for a vast amount of sense andlearning-it is only folly masking itself under the garb of philosophy, metaphysics, and outlandish jargon. If I cannot defendwhat I believe, I am afraid I shall begin to doubt it myself-and therefore, for my own sake, I will make myself master ofthe point, if possible.And if in the study of it I do not meet with an answer which may satisfy my opponent, if I meet with one which satisfiesmy own conscience, I shall be all the better and stronger a Christian for it, and so good will come out of evil.
Shake away, Sir! Sift away! Not one grain of wheat will fall to the ground! I stood this week by the side of a church whichonce was a considerable distance inland but now it stands just by the ocean side. Almost every year a great mass of the claycliff falls into the sea, and in a year or twothis parish church must fall. It stands now in quietude and peace, but on a certain day it will all be swallowed up intothe sea, as certainly as the elements still work according to their ordinary laws. I could not help thinking that the edificewas a type of certain ecclesiasticalbodies which stand upon the clay cliff of State-craft, or superstition.
The tide of public enlightenment, and above all the ocean tide of God's Spirit is advancing and wearing away their foundationtill, at last, the whole fabric must go down. What then? Will you hold up your hands and cry, "The Church of God is gone?"Forbear the foolish utterance! God's Church issafe enough. Look yonder-there stands the Church of God upon a stormy ridge where the sea always dashes and perpetuallyrages on all sides-and yet she fears no undermining because she is built on no clay cliff, but on a Rock against which thewaves of Hell shall notprevail! Then let your earth-born, State-propped churches go! Swallow them up, O sea of time! Swallow them all up and leaveno wreck behind!
But the Church of the living God shall stand all the more glorious because of the ruin which has overtaken her rivals anddiscovered their human origin. I need not, however, enlarge, because you can all see it is so, if you look back in history.And you may rest assured that what was true a hundredyears ago will be true now, and that the more there is of strife against the Gospel, the more the Gospel will prevail! Thereforelet us not fear, but rejoice confidently in our God.
III. The principle may be applied in a third direction: THE REAL IN OUTWARD PROFESSION STANDS, NOTWITHSTANDING TIMES OF SHAKING.There are seasons when the professing Church undergoes fearful trials.
She suffered in olden times the ordeal of persecution. Edicts and writs were issued forbidding all worship in the name ofJesus. Cruel penalties were the reward of those who were faithful to the doctrine of the Cross. The rough wind howled dreadfully,and the result was that the Church, which hadbeen overgrown with hypocrisy, was speedily freed from pretenders and only those remained whose faith could bear the fire.
The Church was thus refined by persecution and might have thanked her persecutors for having put her through the blessed process.Nowadays we are not so much subject to this test, but the world still hates us. It now fawns upon the Christian-it inviteshim to share her joys and bids him be nolonger rigid and strict. It offers him rich rewards and soft speeches if he will but compromise a little and not be toosternly pure and upright.
What of this? Is it not the same purifying process? By all means let those who love the world go to it! And let those whovalue the world's pleasures have them! If it were possible for me to put a hedge all round this church so that none of youshould be tempted to enter the theater or enter intogiddy company-if I could put a wall all round so that none of you should ever be tempted into the gin-palace or the playhouse-Ishould not dare to do it! For what would you then be? You would only cease from these things because you could not get atthem-the tastefor such vanities, if it is in your hearts-would be uncured.
If you were hypocrites you would not be so likely to be found out, if never tried. And those of you who are genuine wouldnever grow into strong men, but remain Christian babies-nursed and dressed by others-but not at all able to run alone. Theblandishments of the world are onlyanother form of that fan which is in Christ's hand, with which He purges the great visible heap lying upon the threshing-floorof His Church. When some of you fall into temptation, though we cannot but weep over you, yet we do not know but what youroutwardly falling into temptationmay only have discovered the rottenness and wickedness of your heart-and so we may be well rid of you! And you yourself,in the long run, may have your eyes opened to much secret evil which otherwise you would never have detected.
At certain times discord has marred our churches. Blessed be God we have not felt it here, but when it does come I am notcertain that that is altogether a matter of regret. There are parties and strife-and all this is sin-but when the Church isshaken, those that can be shaken will beshaken. And they will slide off, some this way and some that. But those who cannot be shaken will stand fast in their integrityand defend the faith once committed to the saints. There may also happen great fallings into sin. Some who have been prominentin the Church may makeshipwreck. When this occurs, woe, indeed, is it to the whole community, and sorrow to every member.
But still I am not certain but what there may be a gain even in the loss, for then those are discovered whose faith may havestood in the wisdom of man-who have been depending on human countenance and not following holiness for its own sake-and otherswho have merely been led byassociations and not by principle, are led to great searching of heart. I would sorrow in all cases of failure, but notas though I had no consolation, for, my Brethren, those only are shaken that may be shaken. But those who are rooted and groundedin Christ and are truly what theyprofess to be will stand fast unto the end.
That old oak in the forest is one of the noblest works of God. Look at it just now bursting into full leaf, bearing well itsverdant honors and making a picture worthy of the artist's rarest skill. What are these dry pieces of wood which strew theground beneath it? What are these large brancheswhich rot under its shade? It is needless to ask, for we all know that they fell from the tree during winter's storms. Isit a cause of regret for the sake of the tree that those rotten branches were broken off? It may be a lamentation as far asconcerns the broken boughs, but thetree itself would never have been so healthy, and never looked so complete if the rotten branches had been suffered to abide.When the hurricane came howling through the woods, the old tree shivered in the gale and mourned as it heard the crackingof its boughs. Yet now it isthankful because the sound healthy branches with sap and life in them are all there, and the withered ones no longer encumberthe trunk.
Summing this matter up in a word or two, I do not think times of storm to a Church are in the long run to be regretted-a calmis much more dangerous. The plague-bearing mist settles and festers in the vale till the atmosphere becomes deadly, even tothe casual passenger. But the storm fiend,as men call him, leaps from the mountains into the sunny glades of the valley and with terrific vigor hurls down the habitationsof men and tears up the trees by the roots. But meanwhile all is superabundantly compensated by the effectual purging whichthe atmosphere receives. Menbreathe more freely and Heaven smiles more serenely now that the heaviness of the death-damp is gone, and the poisonousvapor clings no longer to the river's bank and the valley's side.
IV. We will further apply the principle to OUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. Beloved Friends, this principle, which is true without,is equally sure within. There will come to every sincere Christian a time of inward shaking, testing and convulsion. We haveincluded much in our experience which is notreal. We think we know a great deal which is nothing better than boastful ignorance. How many times we have imbibed theconceit that we were becoming very humble when we were never more proud than when we thought so! We have felt as if we wereconquering all our besetting sins andat that very moment Satan was laughing at us because we mistook a sleeping sin for a dead sin!
We are puffed up with the fancy that we are rich and increased in goods, whereas all that we have put in at the front doorhas been stolen at the back door, and more. We have put our spiritual money into a bag that is full of holes. We have beenheaping up that which is not bread and spending ourlabor for that which profits not. The soul's conflict comes and we are troubled because we do not care to be disturbed inour false peace! But ah, how much we need disturbing! I know some of you do not relish soul-searching sermons. When I giveyou one which acts like the refiner'sfire you can scarcely endure it. You want to have the soft pillows of the promises laid under your head, and savory meatplaced by your side.
Searching sermons you wish to be few and far between. But these times of self-examination are fully as necessary as timesof nourishing and comfort. And when they visit your inner man they are loaded with blessings and are to be received with gratitudeand thanksgiving. Dear Friends, let me mentiona few methods of soul-shaking. Affliction is one of them. The man thought that he had resigned everything to God-death cameand took away his child. Where was his resignation then? Perhaps it stood that trial. But lo, the Lord removes another-hownow, good Sir? A secondtime- do you still bear it?
Alas, the third shaft smites another beloved one! Can you still, in all things, own His hand? Do you still stand to the surrender?You say, "Yes." May it prove so when the trials come! You said the other day, dear Friend, "I do not think I am worldly-minded.I hope my affection is set upon thingsabove, and not on things on the earth." How have you found it during the last two or three feverish days? You sang the otherday, as we sang this morning-
"Let mountains from their seats be hurled Down to the deep, and buried there. Convulsions shake the solid world- Our faithshall never yield to fear." How stood your faith on Friday when the banks suspended payment? Did you play the man or playthe fool? When the great waters were let loosewas your ark seaworthy, or did it prove a poor leaky hulk?
We have, I fear, much more resignation in name than in fact, and more faith in fancy than in reality. You think sometimesthat now you really do love God with all your heart and soul, and strength-and that nothing can come in to make you thinkharshly of Him. But will not a sharp blow fromthe rod alter your tune? Do you kiss the rod, or do you begin to kick like a willful child? Can you say with Job, "ThoughHe slay me, yet will I trust in Him. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord"? Tribulations,losses, crosses, sicknesses andbereavements are very stern trials-and the things within us which may be shaken will be shaken by them.
But if we can bear them well and trustingly, and yet praise and bless God for all-we have evidence of possessing graciousqualities which cannot be shaken and therefore will remain. What a shake temptation gives us! We spoke of that last Sundaymorning. How commonly is it the lot of God'speople! Temptations will assail us of a sort that we never dreamed of. We are tempted to deny God, to doubt the Deity ofChrist, to mistrust the Truth of Scripture. We are tempted to presumption, to every form of sin-and there are times when temptationsfollow each other soquickly that we do not know which way to look nor where to turn!
We use the great shield of faith as best we can, but it seems to us if it could not avail us to ward off the innumerable darts.Ah, what shall we do then? Why, Brethren, we shall then know whether our grace is the Divine Grace of God or the grace ofman! We shall now see whether we have the faithof God's elect or not! The faith of God's elect can write "Invicta" upon its shield! It is unconquered and unconquerable!But the faith which springs from mere human reason will speedily give way like a pasteboard helmet, or a wooden sword. O sharpTemptation! Terrible as you are tome, yet I thank God for you because the trial of my faith, which is much more precious than that of gold which perishes,though it is tried by fire, shall redound to the glory of God and to my own comfort!
There is a time of shaking coming which none of us shall be able to avoid. If we could live without affliction and withouttemptation, which I think is impossible, yet we cannot enter into the Promised Land without passing through the river of death,unless the Lord shall come. What a test will thehour of death be! Beloved Friends, certain professors cannot endure to have a suspicion raised concerning the sincerity,vitality, and power of their godliness. They say, "Why should the minister set me questioning myself as to whether I am savedor not? Is it not best for me tobelieve that I am saved and so go on cheerfully till I die?"
Beloved, may this tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth before I shall knowingly assist any of you in being comfortable inpresumption. True faith can bear examination, and even courts it! The preaching which says to its hearer, "You are not toexamine yourself. Take it for granted that it is allwell with you," is a preaching that comes from the bottomless pit and does the devil's work-it is not a ministry which Godhas sent! If my faith will not bear human examination it will never bear God's examination. And if when I am in health I darenot sit down by the hourtogether to look over my soul's estate, what shall I do in the swellings of Jordan?
If even now I am half afraid, what shall I be then? And if I dare not now look certain texts of Scripture in the face, butam obliged to forget that they are in the Bible in order to be at peace in my own heart, oh, what shall I do when those textswill force themselves upon me, and will not takemy indifference for an answer, but will demand of my conscience that it should feel their power? Let me beseech you whileyou rest simply and alone upon Christ-be sure that you rest sincerely and with your whole heart upon Him. Do not make mistakesabout your soul's eternalmatters, for mistakes here will be fatal! Be built upon the Rock, and be surely built on it!
Do not be afraid of being shaken now, because you must be shaken before long. That silent chamber must be inhabited by youand on that bed you must be stretched. You will hear the warning voice of Death in the silent tread of those who expect yourdeparture, and in the faint whisper of thephysician as he warns your friends that there is no hope.
You will be compelled to gaze into worlds unknown. You will hear the booming of the deep sea of eternity. And oh, if a fearshould molest you, then how dark will your descent be into the valley!
But oh, Beloved, if you can be confident then, with what joy will you face your last hour! And with what triumph enter intoeternity! How can you expect to be confident then if you are self-indulgent now, and will not dare to try your estate? Come,have a friendly suit, as it were, in the heavenlychancery between your soul and your hopes today, lest there should be a fatal suit against you-a suit brought on by DivineJustice-which shall end in your total bankruptcy throughout eternity!
God grant that we may not be afraid of being shaken. For if we cannot bear shaking now, what shall we do at the last? Whathas been the result of all the shaking through which we have passed up to now? I think it has been this-we have had a greatdeal removed from us which was of no use tous. We could boast once rather more loudly than we dare to do now. I must confess that the longer I live the more of a foolI feel myself to be. I am in myself weaker, more distrustful, more conscious of sin-more hopeless of self-assistance thanever. The more strength I getfrom God the weaker I discover myself to be in and of myself.
There were a few things that I thought I knew once, but except those things which God has taught me, I now find that I knownothing. I suppose that the further we proceed in the way to Heaven the more we shall be dissatisfied with ourselves becauseour daily trials and troubles have the effect ofbursting many of those bubbles in which we once put our confidence. All the wooden centers must be taken away from our masonry,for God builds His arches so that they will stand without supporting frameworks. The dog-shores must all be knocked away fromour ship, for it is not meantto be high and dry on the shore-it is to be launched upon a sea of everlasting glory.
The dross is consuming! Blessed be God for that, for the precious metal gains by the loss. Our outward man decays, but theinward man is renewed day by day. Go on, Great Shaker of Heaven and earth, and shake from me my mere pretensions, my presumptionsand empty professions, for the genuine work ofGrace will be helped!
V. I must now bring before you ALL THAT YOU HAVE IN POSSESSION. The things, which can be shaken, will be removed, but thingsthat cannot be shaken will remain. We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and itill becomes a Christian man to set much store bythem. The poorest man among us has many providential blessings for which to be grateful this morning, but the richest amongus has nothing earthly upon which he can depend.
Wife and children make glad our hearth. We have a little place which may be very homely, but it is our home and we love it.Some of you are prospering and thriving traders. Others are merchants who have almost accumulated a competency-be gratefulfor all this-but do not forget thatthese are things which may be shaken. The cheek of the wife may grow pale. The lustrous eyes of the little ones may soonbecome dim. The house may be left a heap of ashes. The property may take to itself wings and fly away-there is nothing stablebeneath these rollingskies-change is written upon all things.
Yet, my Brethren, some of us have certain "things which cannot be shaken," and I invite you, this morning, to read over thecatalogue of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away you may derive real comfort from the thingsthat cannot be shaken and will remain. In thefirst place, whatever your losses may have been you enjoy present salvation. You are, this morning, standing at the footof His Cross, trusting alone in the merit of Jesus' precious blood-and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with yoursalvation in Him-nobreaking of banks, no run upon your credit can touch that! A sinner saved!
I remember the time when I thought that if I had to live on bread and water all my life, and to be chained in a dungeon allmy days, I would cheerfully submit to that if I might but get rid of my sins. When sin haunted and burdened my spirit, I amsure I would have counted the martyr's death to bepreferable to a life under the lash of a guilty conscience. Now, your sins are all gone! There is not one left in God'sbook! Through Jesus' blood you are clean, and that is a comfort which cannot be removed-
"Once in Christ, in Christ forever; Nothing from His love can sever."
In the next place, you are a child of God today. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob you of that.If you were a peer of the realm you might be degraded. If you have walked among the rich you might be thrust out from theirsociety. Father and mother might forsake you but youcan never lose this joyous fact-you are an heir of God, joint-heir with Jesus Christ! Coming out of losses and poverty,stripped bare, you can say, "He is my Father still. Naked I came out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return-but to myFather shall I return, andin my Father's house are many mansions-therefore I will not be troubled."
You have, this day, another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. He who is God and Man loves you with allthe strength of His affectionate Nature. Now, nothing can rob you of that! You can look to the Cross and know that He whodied on it died for you! And He who reigns in Heavenreigns for you and pleads for you. No catastrophes can deprive you of that. Austria and Prussia may go to war, if they please,and Italy or France may join in the turmoil. Blood may flow like water. Established rule may be shaken by revolution and afierce mob may ride roughshodover the world. But these things shake not the fact that Jesus loves you: "My beloved is mine, and I am His."
Cattle plagues may come and mildews may blast the rising corn, but though the fig tree may not blossom, and the flocks maycease from the field, and the herds from the stall, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, for Jesus loves me still! Jesus is stillfaithful! Jesus is still true! Beloved, you haveanother thing, namely this Truth of God that whatever may happen to you, you have God's faithful promise, which holds true,that all things shall work for your good. Do you believe this? You need it just now and therefore let me recall it to yourrecollection. It is true that youcannot see the good in the trouble itself, but it works for good. Sometimes deadly poisons may be antidotes against otherpoisons, and the worst afflictions may be antidotes against far worse ones.
The ship rocks! What a wave was that! What a sea the vessel shipped! She rocks again, the sails fly to ribbons. How the yardsare snapping! The masts will go by the board! The frail ship will be wrecked! The danger is imminent, she must be wrecked!The rocks are ahead and she must be dashed uponthem! Not so, you passenger in the ship of Providence, not so! Do you see who it is that is at the helm, and do you notknow that He who steers the ship also wings the winds and gives force to the waves? God is not the God of the vessel only,but also of the stormy sea! Therefore gowhere you may be quiet. Take yourself to the hind part of the ship near to the Steersman, and go to sleep in peace. It isthe best thing you can do, for the ship is safe-
"Though winds and waves assault her keel, He does preserve it, He does steer. Even when the boat seems most to reel, Stormsare the triumph of His art. He will not close His eyes, nor yet His heart." Once more. If everything should melt away, yetyou have "a city that has foundations, whose Builderand Maker is God." Sometimes foreign princes, when they have been afraid of a revolution, have invested all their moneyin the English funds, and then they have said, "Now come what may, my prosperity is safe." Ah, well, it is a blessed thingto invest all your wealth in theheavenly funds and then let the earth go to ruin-our treasure is safe. Let the world, like an old water-logged hulk, godown if she will-it is a wonder that she keeps afloat so long-let her go, I am in the lifeboat which can never sink! And Ishall soon be on shorewhere tempests cannot blow.
Oh, to rest in assured hope, the hope that makes not ashamed! The hope that shall never be confounded! The hope that whendays and years are passed, we shall see the face of Jesus and dwell with Him forever! Courage, Brothers and Sisters-our bestportion and richest heritage remains-andcannot be moved. Rejoice in this, and be of good cheer this day!
Ah, but there are some of you who have only what may be moved, and you are, therefore, sure to lose your all! Go away andmourn and lament. Better still, go to the Cross, stand under the foot of it, and you cannot be shaken there. Look up to theflowing of the Savior's blood and trust Him, fornothing can ever shake you then! As for those of us who possess the things which cannot be shaken, let us stand fast andbe of good courage. Whatever may happen during this week, let us play the man. Let us show that we are not such little childrenas to be cast down by what mayhappen in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel's land! Our hope is above the sky and therefore calmas the summer's ocean! We will see the wreck of everything and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation. The Lord fill us withHis peace for Jesus' sake. Amen.