Sermon 795. Joshua's Vision
Delivered on Lord's Day Morning, February 16, 1868, by
C. H. SPURGEON
at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Portion of Scripture read before Sermon-Joshua 6:10-27.
"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, thathe lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a Man overagainst him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, Are You for us, or for our adversaries?And He said, No, but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship,and said unto Him, What says my Lord unto His servant? And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose your shoefrom off your foot; for the place whereon you stand is holy. And Joshua did so." Joshua 5:13-15.
The Lord divided the Jordan that His people might pass through dry-shod. This miracle greatly dispirited the Canaanites, andso prepared the way for an easy triumph for the invading Israelites. You would have naturally expected that the Lord wouldhave bid His people avail themselves immediately of this terror to strike a heavy blow at once, and press on with might andmain before the enemy could take a breath and so sweep the land clear of the adversaries in a single campaign.
But it was not so. Instead of immediate activity, the children of Israel pitched their tents at Gilgal and there tarried fora considerable season. For God is in no hurry. His purposes can be accomplished without haste, and though He would have usredeem the time because our days are evil, yet in His eternity He can afford to wait and by His wisdom He so orders His delaysthat they prove to be far better than our hurries. Why were the people to delay? That they might be obedient to commands whichhad been forgotten. In the desert, for many reasons, circumcision and the Passover had been neglected. They were not visitedwith any chastisement on account of this neglect, for the Lord considered their position and condition, and winked at theirerror. But before He would use them He would have them fully obedient to His will. It cannot be expected that God should toleratedisobedient servants, and therefore they must stay awhile, till they had been attentive to the two great precepts of the MosaicCovenant.
Dear Friends, let us pause and ask ourselves, as Believers, whether we have been in all respects conscientiously attentiveto our Master's commands. If not, we may not expect Him to send a blessing to the Church or to the world through us, untilfirst of all we have yielded our willing obedience to that which He has prescribed for us. Are any of you living in the neglectof a known part of the Divine will? Are you undesirous of knowing some portions of God's will, and therefore willfully blindto them? My dear Brother, you are cutting the Achilles' tendon of your strength? You can never overthrow your enemies likeSamson while your locks are thus shorn. You cannot expect that God should send you forth to conquer and to bring to Him renownwhen you have not as yet conquered your own personal indolence and disobedience!
He that is unfaithful in that which is least will be unfaithful in that which is greater. If you have not kept the Master'ssaying in the little vineyard of your personal history, how much less shall you be able to do it if He should entrust youwith a greater field of service! Here, then, is the reason for Israel's delay, and it is a reason why at the commencementof our special services [month-long services and Prayer Meetings for conversion of souls] we should make diligent search forneglected duties, and promptly fulfill them. The two precepts which had been overlooked were verysuggestive. The one was circumcision. Every man throughout the whole camp of Israel must be circumcised before God would beginto speak about Jericho.
Not a word about the walls falling flat to the ground. Not a syllable concerning compassing the accursed city seven days,until, first of all, the reproach of Egypt had been put away and His people had received the token of the Covenant. We aretold in the New Testament that Christians must partake in a circumcision without hands, not of the flesh, but of the spirit."He is not a Jew which is one outwardly...but he is a Jew which is one inwardly." In the Colossians the Apostle tells us thatthe true circumcision is the putting away of the body of death by the circumcision of Christ, by which I understand that theChristian must purge himself, in the power of the Spirit and in the name of Christ, of every fleshly defilement, of everysinful thought, of every wrong ambition, of every carnal desire.
If he is to be used by his Master it is imperative that this be done, and be done at once, in the name of the Most High. "Beyou clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." God will not fight His battles by the uncircumcised! He will have His peopleclean from the sin that does so easily beset them, or else He will not use them. Stop, then, my Brethren, and let me beseechyou to search your own hearts and see what there may be within that might render you unfit to be blessed. If I, as God's minister,have no conversions, I dare not attribute the fact to Divine Sovereignty. It may be so, but I am always afraid to make DivineSovereignty the scapegoat for my iniquities. I rather think that if God withholds the blessing, there is a cause-and may notthe cause be in myself, that I do not live as near to God as I should-or am indulging in something which His holy eyes cannotlook upon?
I speak to you who are Church members. If in the Sunday school. If in your tract distribution. Or if in any other work youare doing you do not win souls to God, cry unto Him, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: andsee if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Sin blocks up the channel of mercy-the stream isstrong enough, but you restrain its flow-your sins separate between you and your God. And, therefore, I beseech each one ofyou, if you are the Lord's, shake yourselves from the dust, sanctify a fast unto the Most High and come before Him with supplication.
Sit before Him in sackcloth and ashes, in the silent dejection of your abashed spirits, and confess before Him all your sins.Arise, pour out your hearts like water before the Lord! Acknowledge your sins and offenses, and then, being purged from theseby the water and the blood which flowed from the riven side of Jesus, you may arise to service and expect to be made a blessing.
But circumcision was not enough, they must also keep the Passover. This, it appears they had only celebrated twice, once inEgypt, and once at the foot of Sinai. But they were now to begin a Passover which was to be kept every year without cessation.Brothers and Sisters, you know the meaning the Passover has to us-it represents feeding upon Christ. He is the Paschal Lamb.We must put away the old leaven of sin and we must come with pure hearts to feed upon our Lord. You will never be able tofight the Canaanites till you have fed on Christ. A spiritual man who tries to live without feeding upon Jesus soon becomesweak. He who has but slight communion with Christ, he who day after day has no sight of the King in His beauty, who is nevertaken to the banqueting house, and sees not the love banner waving over his head is not likely to be a hero. If you do noteat the bread of Heaven, how can you do the work of Heaven? The farmer that labors must be first partaker of the fruits. Andif we would labor for God with success, we must first of all feed upon the Christ of God, and gather strength from Him.
"Son of man," said the voice from Heaven to the Prophet, "eat this roll." He must first eat it, and then speak concerningwhat he has handled and tasted. We must enjoy true religion in our own souls before we can be fit exponents of it to others.How shall you be heralds of a message which has never been spoken into your inner ear by the voice of the Lord? How can youexpect to bring others to life when your own soul is all but dead? How shall you scatter the live coals of eternal Grace whenthe flame upon the hearth of your heart has almost expired? Brethren, let us keep the feast! Let us draw near unto our LordJesus with pure hearts! Let us renew our first faith and early love, taking the great Son of God to be once more the groundof our hope, the source of our joy, the object of our desires! Let us come near, yes, nearer and nearer still to Him, pressingto His embrace-so shall we be prepared to brave the conflict and earn the victory.
After the ordinances had been kept, you will suppose that at once the trumpet sounded for an assault, and the valiant menof Israel, with their scaling ladders, and their battering rams, gathered round the devoted city to attack and carry it bystorm. Patience! Patience! You are always in a hurry, but God is not. Joshua himself, that bold, brave spirit is in somehaste, and therefore he goes forth by night, meditating and patrolling. And as he is meditating upon God, and gazing everynow and then at that huge city, and wondering where would be the best point of attack, and how it would be captured, he isastonished by the appearance of a stately personage who bears a sword in His hand.
Brave Joshua, unconscious of anything like fear, advances at once to the apparent interloper and demands of Him, "Are youfor us, or for our adversaries?" He little guessed in what august Presence he was standing until a majestic voice said, "No,but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." Then Joshua, discerning the Divinity of the celestial Warrior bowedand worshiped and humbly inquired what he should do. And then after he had been instructed, he rose and went according tothe Lord's directions to the capture of the city of palm trees. The children of Israel may be likened to yonder gallant vessel,prepared for a long voyage. All the cargo is on board that is needed. All the stores are there, and every man in his place.In all respects, the good ship is fully equipped, but why does she linger?
Why do not the sailors weigh the anchor? If you ask the man at the helm, he will tell you, "We are waiting for the captain."A good and sufficient reason, indeed, for till the captain has come on board it is idle for the vessel to put out to sea.So here Israel had been circumcised, and the blessed feast of the Paschal Lamb had been celebrated, but still they must notgo to the conflict until the Captain Himself had arrived. And here, to Joshua's joy, the Angel of the Presence of the MostHigh appeared to claim the presidency of the war and lead forth the hosts of God to certain victory!
Brethren, this is precisely the condition of this Church at the present moment! We have endeavored, I think, to draw nearunto God and to abide in His love. We have sought to purge ourselves from sin, and to be holy even as He is holy. But stillthis will not suffice-we need the Divine Presence, and we are now bid to pause awhile and to seek it, prayerfully-that inits matchless power we may go forward successfully.
I. I shall ask your earnest attention, this morning, to two or three brief rules for our present solemn engagements. First,realize the fact of the Divine Presence. Jesus Himself comes to this holy war. Joshua saw a man clad in armor, equipped forwar. Cannot the eyes of your faith see the same? There He stands, Jesus, God over all, blessed forever, yet a Man. Most surelyGod, but with equal certainty bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He is in the midst of His Church. He walks among thegolden candlesticks. His promise is, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of theworld."
I do not wish to talk, but I desire rather that you should exercise your own minds, your faith, your spiritual powers, andvividly believe that Jesus is here-so believe it, that your inner eye beholds what you believe. The Son of Man is here, assurely here as He was with the disciples at the lake when they saw coals of fire, and fish laid on them, and bread! He ishere to talk with us by His Spirit as He did to Peter and to the rest of the disciples on that memorable day. Not carnally,but still in real truth, Jesus is where His people meet together.
Joshua saw Him with His sword in His hand. O that Christ might come in our midst with the sword of the Spirit in His hand!Might He come to effect deeds of love but yet deeds of power! That He might come with His two-edged sword to smite our sins,to cut to the heart His adversaries, to slay their unbelief, to lay their iniquities dead before Him! The sword is drawn,not in the scabbard, as alas, it has been so long in many churches, but made bare for present active use. It is in His Hand,not in the minister's hand, not even in an angel's hand, but the sword drawn is in His hand. Oh, what power there is in theGospel when Jesus holds the hilt! And what gashes it makes into hearts that were hard as stone, when Jesus cuts right andleft at the hearts and consciences of men!
Brothers and Sisters, seek this Presence, and seeking it, believe it. And when you hear the Gospel preached, or when you meettogether for prayer, think you see in the center of the assembly the Champion of Israel with uplifted sword, prepared to dogreat exploits, as in days of old. The glorious Man whom Joshua saw, was on his side. The day shall come when the ungodlyshall see this Man with his sword drawn. But in answer to their question, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" they shallfind Him to be the fiercest of their foes!
In the midst of His Church Christ carries a sword only for the purposes of love to it. Oh, how blessed it will be if you canknow that out of His mouth there goes a two-edged sword, like unto a flame of fire! And to know that if you dare to bringyour heart near to that sword, that it may cut and kill in you everything obnoxious to the Divine will! And then bring yourchildren and kinsfolk and those that sit in these pews side by side with you, and say, "O Master, let Your sword of fire gothrough them according to Your Word-'I kill and make alive, I wound and I heal'-O kill, that they may live! O wound, thatthey may be healed"-
"Your arrows sharply pierce the heart Of foemen of the King, And under Your dominion's rule The people down do bring. O youthat are the Mighty One, Your sword gird on Your thigh, Even with Your glory excellent, And with Your majesty."
The Divine Presence, then, is what we desire, and if we have it, Brethren, faith at once is encouraged. It was enough forthe army of Cromwell to know that he was there, the ever victorious, the irresistible, to lead on his Ironsides to the fray.Many a time the presence of an old Roman general was equal to another legion-as soon as the cohorts perceived that he wascome whose eagle eye watched every motion of the enemy, and whose practiced hand led his battalions upon the most salientpoints of attack-each man's blood leaped within him and he grasped his sword and rushed forward, secure of success.
My Brethren, our King is in the midst of us, and our faith should be in active exercise. "The shout of a King is in the midstof us," it is said, for where the King is there the people shout for joy and because of confidence of victory. The preachermay preach, but what is that? But if the King is there, then it is preaching in very deed. The congregations may have met,and they may have gone again. "The panoramic view which has dissolved," you say. Ah, so it may seem to you, but if the Spiritof God was there, all that as been done will abide, and remain even to that day of judgment, when the fire shall try everyman's work of what sort it is.
"Nothing but a simple girl sitting down to talk to a few little children about their souls." Just so, but if the Lord is there,what awe gathers round that spot! If the King Himself sits in that class, what deeds are done that shall make the angels ofHeaven sing anew for joy! "Nothing but a humble man, unlettered, earnest, but not eloquent, standing in the corner of a streetaddressing a few hundred people. His talk will soon be forgotten." Precisely so, but if the King is there it shall never beforgotten! The footprints of every true servant of the Lord shall not be in the sand, but in the enduring brass-the recordof which shall outlast the wreck of matter! When the King is with us, faith is confident because God girds faith as with agolden girdle, and from head to foot clothes her with a panoply of armor and puts a sword into her hand which is all-destroying,and with which she cuts through coats of mail.
"If God is for us, who can be against us?" When the King is with His people, then Hope is greatly encouraged, for says she,"Who can stand against the Lord of Hosts?" There must be conversions! It is no longer a question of trust and expectation,but of absolute certainty when Jesus is at the preaching! My Brethren, if by earnest prayer we shall really bring the Kinginto our midst today, as I am persuaded we shall-and if we keep Him here, holding Him by our entreaties, and by our tears,which are the golden chains that bind Christ to His people-then we need not think that there shall be good done, nor hopeso, but it must be so! It shall be so, for where Christ is, there is the manifestation of the Omnipotence of Deity and thehardest of hearts feel its influence!
Where Jesus is, love becomes inflamed, for oh, of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothinglike the Presence of Jesus! A glimpse of Him will overcome us so that we shall be almost ready to say, "Turn away Your eyesfrom me, for they have overcome me." Oh, but a smell of the aloes, and the myrrh, and the cassia which drop from His perfumedgarments! But a smell of these, I say, and the sick and the faint among us shall grow strong! Oh, but a moment's leaning ofthe head upon that gracious bosom and a reception of His divine love into our poor cold hearts, and we shall be cold no longer,but shall glow like seraphs, being made equal to every labor, and capable of every suffering! Then shall the Spirit of theLord be upon us, and our old men shall see visions, and our young men shall dream dreams-and upon the servants and the handmaidenswill God pour out His Spirit!
If we do but know that Jesus is here, every power will be developed and every Grace will be strengthened-and we shall castourselves into the Lord's battle with heart, and soul, and strength! There is not a single part of our inner man which willnot be bettered by the Presence of Christ! Therefore is this to be desired above all things. Brethren, suppose that Christis here, this morning-His Presence will be most clearly ascertained by those who are most like He is. Joshua was favored withthis sight because he alone had eyes that could bear it. I do not read that even Caleb saw this Man withHis sword drawn. Only Joshua saw Him, because Joshua was the most spiritual and the most active. If you desire to see Christyou must grow to be like He is, and labor to serve Him with heart, and soul, and strength.
Christ comes not in the visions of the night to those who toss upon the bed of indolence. He reveals Himself in the nightwatches to those who learn to watch and war. Bring yourselves, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ's desires,and motives, and plans of action, and you are likely to see Him. I would that all of you were Joshuas, but if not, if butsome shall perceive Him, we shall still receive a blessing! I am sure this Presence of Christ will be needed by us all. Allof you who love Jesus intend to do Him service during this next month, and indeed, I hope as long as you live. Now, thereis nothing good which you can do without Christ. "Without Me you can do nothing," is a great and undoubted fact. If you meetto pray, you shall not pray acceptably unless He is with you. If you teach, or preach, or whatever you do, however small thelabor, you shall accomplish nothing unless it is through His power, and through His manifested Presence with you. Go not towarfare at your own charges but wait upon your Master, tarrying at Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.
But, Brethren, Jesus Christ's Presence may be had. Do not despond and say that in the olden times the Master revealed Himselfbut He will not do so now. He will, He will, He will! His promise is as good as ever. He delights to be with us even as withour fathers. If He does not come it is because we hinder Him-we are not straitened in Him, but straitened in our own heart.Let me persuade you that all the great things which were done at Pentecost can be done again, in this Tabernacle! Let me persuadeyou that all the wondrous conversions which were worked in any of the ages of the Church may be repeated at this hour! Donot say that Luther, or Calvin, or Whitfield, or Wesley were great men and therefore around them great things gathered!
My brethren, the weakest of men may be more honored than the greatest, if God so wills it. Our weakness, lack of learning,lack of eloquence, and what not-I look upon these as advantages rather than not-for if we were eminent, we might, perhaps,claim some of the glory. But if we are "less than nothing and vanity," then is there a clear stage for the Divine operations!And why should we not so see in this place such a revival as shall shake all England and stir the dry bones in the Valleyof Vision at this day as they never were stirred since Apostolic times? We have but to expect it, to believe it, to pray forit, to work for it, and we shall have it!
God's clouds still pour down the water floods as plenteously as when Elisha went up to the top of Carmel. The Lord thundersmightily against His enemies at this day, as when He went forth with His people in the days of yore. Think not that the Almightyhas ceased to do marvels-the Lord of Hosts is still the King eternal, immortal, and invisible-with an arm which does wonders.You have still only to plead the power of the precious blood and the meritorious death of Christ to see wonders in this yearof Divine Grace which shall even eclipse any that your fathers saw, or heard of in the old time before them!
May God grant to each Believer among us the vision of the God-like Man with the sword drawn in His hand, and then may we goforth in the strength which He alone confers.
II. In the second place, understand the Lord's position in the midst of His people. "As Captain of the host of the Lord amI now come." What a relief this must have been for Joshua. Perhaps he thought himself the captain-but now the responsibilitywas taken from him-he was to be the lieutenant, but the King Himself would marshal His hosts! I feel it no small relief tomy own mind to feel that though I have been at your head these 14 years, leading you on in God's name to Christian service,yet I am not your Captain, but there is a greater One, the Presence Angel of the Most High, the Lord Jesus-He is in our midstas Commander-in-Chief.
Though my responsibilities are heavy, yet the leadership is not with me. He is a leader and commander for the people. Brothersand Sisters, wherever Christ is, we must remember that He is Commander-in-Chief to us all. We must never tolerate in the Churchany great man to domineer over us. We must have no one to be Lord and Master except Jesus. Christ is the Field-Marshal, theCaptain of our salvation! And if you are a member of the Church of God, you must admit this, not as a general fact only, butas a fact particularly in your case. Christ is your Master. You are not to say, "I prefer this or that doctrine." What haveyou to do with likes or dislikes? Believe what He tells you. You are not to say, "I prefer a certain form of worship." Whathave you to do with preferences? Worship as the Master bids you.
Alas, for the day when whims and tastes and fancies come into the Christian Church to lead the people. All this Puseyism whichwe hear so much outcry about is simply the putting up of taste into the place of simple obedience toChrist. If we would but just keep close to Christ's Word we should be right enough. I pray each Believer here to rememberthat he is in no respect his own master in the things of God, but that Christ is Commander-in-Chief. "Is it of any use tosend missionaries to India?" said someone to the Duke of Wellington. "What are your marching orders?" said the Duke. "Go youinto all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."
Those are our marching orders. We have nothing to do with whether they are prudent orders or not. They are sure to be goodif they come from Him! Our duty is to do as our Commander bids us to do. Every word of Christ, if we would see Him do wondersin our midst, must be obeyed! Not the great precepts only, but the little ones, too. It behooves Christians to have done withthat cant about non-essentials. My Brethren, every command of Christ is essential to us as servants! Not essential to oursalvation-we are saved-that is not the question for us to raise. But being saved, and being servants of Christ, every commandwhich comes from the great Captain is essential for every soldier to keep. It matters not though it is simply a ceremony,yet still we have no right to alter it.
What would the court-martial say to any of the private soldiers, who, having received an order from a captain, should say,"Well, I did not consider it to be exceedingly important?" "Drum him out of the regiment, Sir, there is an end to all disciplinein the army when soldiers criticize their orders." So is it with Christ's Law. We have no right to say, for instance aboutBelievers' baptism, "Well, it is a non-essential." Who told you so? If Jesus commands it, obey it! And if it is the Lord'sLaw, make haste and delay not to keep the Master's statute. I single out that one precept, but there are many others whichare, perhaps, of greater importance, if we are allowed to say greater or less about anything which Christ has bid us do.
My Brothers and Sisters, let us seek, now, to put our minds into the hands of the Holy Spirit to be taught what the greatCaptain's will is. And when we know it, let our souls bend under it, as the willow bends in the breath of the wind, and asthe boat upon the sea is driven to and fro in the gale. Down with you, Self, down with you! Carnal judgment and foolish reason,lie still! Let the Word of God be paramount within the soul, all opposition being hushed! Brethren, if we do not act withthe Captain, disappointment will be sure to follow. The Lord had issued orders that none of the tribes should take of theaccursed spoil of Jericho. Achan did so. I have often wondered that only Achan did it, but that one Achan brought defeat uponIsrael at the gates of Ai.
I wonder how many Achans there are here this morning. I should feel myself very much at ease if I thought there were onlyone, but I am afraid that there are many who have the accursed thing hidden within them-the love of money, or wrong ways ofdoing business, or unforgiving tempers-or an envious spirit towards their fellow Christians. Now, if the possession of thesebad things by one will stop the blessing, we are in a very evil plight-but he is in a worse plight, by far, who is the occasionof the evil. Where are you, Achan? God will find you out even if we do not! He will bring us all by our tribes, by our families,by our households, and then man by man-and woe unto the son of Carmi if he is taken! Brethren, the violation of the Law ofthe Captain may bring defeat upon the whole company. And where the law is not obstinately and willfully violated, yet itsneglect will cause much trouble.
They were commanded to make no covenant with the Canaanites, but in a thoughtless hour, the Gibeonites came like persons froma far country. The Israelites believed their deceitful story and made a covenant with them-and this became a trouble to Israellong afterwards. If as a Church we forget the Law of Christ, even though we do not contemptuously break it, if we ignorantlyforget it we may expect no small amount of evil to flow from it. Do not tolerate the idea that God punishes His people forsin in the sense of punitive justice. But always hold it for certain that the Lord chastises His people for sin as a fatherchastises his children, and that the great Head of the Church will not suffer His Laws to be broken with impunity by His ownpeople.
I wish I could speak to you with the earnestness which I feel boiling up within my soul. I would, my Brothers and Sisters,that we should keep our Master's commands in every jot and tittle, depending upon His Presence, feeling Him to be here, notdaring in His Presence to offend, but yielding up to Him the reins of government in all respects that we might then have Hisblessing. I want that we should all keep to the Word of God, minding each precept as far as we understand it. I want, moreover,that we should be attentive to that mind of Christ which is often expressed by the Holy Spirit in Divine monitions in ourminds, that the Law of the Book may be with us, and the Law of the Spirit within us. If we are obedient to both these, weshall be prepared, like Joshua, to advance to the war.
III. Thirdly, and very briefly. Our third rule is worship Him who is present with us. Joshua, it is said, fell on his faceto the earth. Worship is the highest elevation of the spirit, and yet the lowliest prostration of the soul. If Christ is here,Brothers and Sisters, when you reach your homes get a little time of quiet and worship. And when you come up again, this evening-inyour songs and prayers truly worship the ever present God-bow down in the lowliest reverence of your subdued spirit as thoughyou were actually in Heaven.
If you have no wings with which to veil your face, still cover it with shame. If you have no crown to cast, yet such talentas you have, lay it all down reverentially before Him. Worship the Son of God! Then, when you have so done, give up yourselfto His command. Say to Him, "What says my Lord unto His servant?" I wish you could spend this afternoon, those of you whoare not actively engaged, in trying to get an answer to this question: "What says my Lord unto His servant? What is therefor me to learn, for me to feel, for me to do? And as I would help my Brethren during this month, Lord, what part of the workam I to take?"
When you have done this, dear Friends, I want you to imitate Joshua in the third things, namely, take off your shoes fromyour feet. Joshua, perhaps, had not felt what a solemn thing it was to fight for God, to fight as God's executioner againstcondemned men. Therefore he must take his shoes off. We never can expect a blessing if we go about God's work flippantly.I shudder when I see any sitting at the Lord's Table who can indulge in light remarks or in wandering thoughts on so solemnan occasion. What have you to do here, not having on a wedding garment? There are some of us whose besetting sin is levityof spirit. Cheerfulness we are to cultivate, but we must beware lest levity become a cankerworm to our Graces.
Brethren, this next month must be a holy month unto us. I ask our young and our old friends, alike, to seek a quiet and soberspirit. To seek to save souls from going down to the pit is no pastime. To talk of Jesus is no trifle. We do not meet to prayin sport. We do not gather together in supplication as a mere matter of form. Angels are in our midst observing us. The KingHimself is here! How would you behave if you actually saw Jesus with your eyes? If I were to vacate this pulpit and the CrucifiedOne stood here, stretching out His pierced hands and looking down upon you with the mild radiance of His sovereign love-howwould you feel?
Ask to feel just so, for He is here. Faith can perceive Him. Ask to feel just so at this present moment, and so to go outto your work this afternoon and all the remaining days of your life, as a servant of God who is standing in the Presence ofhis Lord upon holy ground, and cannot, therefore, afford to trifle since he has solemn work to do and means to do it in hisMaster's name.
IV. To conclude, let us now, even before we separate, advance to action according to the Master's command. Unconverted menand women, you are in our Jericho-we wish to conquer you for Christ. Our desire is to win you to Jesus for your own good andfor His glory. Now, what are we to do with you? Joshua was bid to go round the city seven times. We would preach to you theGospel of Christ, not seven times, but 70 times seven. They were to blow the rams' horns. The rams' horn was most mean asto matter, most dull as to sound and the least showy as to appearance. So, we say with the rough sound of our ram's horn thatunless you repent, you must perish!
Sin must be punished. Sin is upon you, and God must punish you. Heaven and earth may pass away, but not one jot or tittleof His Law can fail, and this is one part of His Law, "The soul that sins, it shall die." You have sinned, you are alwayssinning, and die you must. Some of you are going from bad to worse. If you do not live in outward sin, yet the sins of thoughtand heart will condemn you. You will die before long and when you die the Lord will cast you into the place which He has preparedfor the devil and his angels. Be not deceived, there may be but a step between you and death-or if your life is prolongedfor a little season, yet how soon will it be over.
Eternity! Eternity! How dread to you if you plunge into it unprepared, to face an angry Judge-no righteousness of Christ toplead, and no blood in which to wash your guilty soul! You are standing, some of you, between the jaws of perdition. The Gospelhas been preached to you and you have neglected it. You have been brought up by godly parents and you have despised theiradmonitions. Therefore wrath will come upon you to the uttermost. As sure as you live you shall be driven from Jehovah's Presenceinto the place where hope cannot follow you and where mercy will never seek you.
We must sound this ram's horn! We only pray that God may bless our warning voice to you. After the rams' horns came the ark,which the priests carried round and round the city. That ark was the type of Christ. We beg to bring Christbefore you, you unconverted ones. Jesus Christ came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. God smote Himinstead of us. He took the sins of His people and God punished Him for our sins instead of punishing us. Christ is the greatSubstitute for sin. If you trust Him you shall live. If you will take Him this day to be your Savior, and to be your Masterand your Lord, you shall never perish, for God has pledged His word for it, that if you believe in Him you shall be saved.
that you would look to Christ, and live! Your good works are nothing, your tears and prayers all go for nothing as to merit,but if you look to Jesus hanging from yonder Cross, you shall live! If you will trust yourself with Him who is now at theright hand of the eternal Father, crowned with many crowns, sooner shall Heaven's high throne be shaken than your soul besuffered to perish! Only believe in Jesus, and you shall live, for this is the Gospel, "He that believes and is baptized shallbe saved. He that believes not shall be damned." We seek not to mince matters with you-damned you will be unless you trustChrist! Damned you never shall be if you will come and cast yourself before Him. "Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you perishby the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little."
Suppose that in the visions of the night, this night, when you are on your bed you should suddenly see in your chamber theMan with a sword drawn in His hand! You would not need to ask the question, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" for yourown conscience would soon tell you. Suppose you should hear a solemn voice declare, "The harvest is past, and the summer isended, and you are not saved." "Because I have called and you refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded...Ialso will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes." Suppose you saw that sword uplifted and about to strikeyou? Would you not start in your dream, and your face be covered with a clammy sweat, feeling horrors indescribable? Yet suchis your case today and unless you repent such will be your case eternally.
I bless God that now our Lord Jesus has no sword drawn in His hand, but He comes to you with open hands, and says, "Come untoMe all you that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." With tears He invites you to come to Him, persuadesyou to come. O why do you tarry? Why do you turn your backs upon your own mercy, and seal your own death warrant? God grantthat you may come to Jesus, and before He grasps that sharp destroying sword.
Lastly, Brethren, we are not only to sound the ram's horn of warning, and to bear round and round the sinner's consciencethe ark of Christ's Grace, but all the host must engage in the work. Did you notice that the whole of the people were to compassthe city! It would not fall otherwise. And they were to shout, too, at the last. I want you, my fellow members, to unite inour earnest efforts to win souls for Christ. I have a right to claim it, and now I entreat you to fulfill the claim. You professto have been bought with the Lord's blood, and to be His disciples. I ask you all, if you are sincere in your professions,come with us round about this Jericho, every one of you!
If you cannot all come up to the public Prayer Meetings, yet send us your hearts-pray for sinners, plead for the unconverted-givethe eternal Leader no rest till He is pleased to use His great power for their conversion! I am almost inclined to fall onmy knees to ask you Church members to rally round us at this hour. If you owe your conversion to me, under God, as many ofyou do, I charge you by every filial tie you feel, desert me not just now! If you have ever been comforted, as I know someof you have. If I have ever been God's voice to your souls, I beseech you return to me this kindness by drawing very nearto God in prayer for the souls of others!
For your own children's souls be very earnest. For the souls of your servants, and kinsfolk, and neighbors, wrestle with Godeven unto tears! And if you will not do it, I had almost said I had sooner you were not with us. If you will not pray-if youwill not join in the common supplication-why do you cumber us? O Meroz, take care lest you be accused if you come not up tothe help of the Lord-to the help of the Lord against the mighty! But you will come. God will be with us, and show us His bareright hand resplendent in our midst, and unto Him shall be the praise forever and ever. Amen.