Sermon 879. An Assuredly Good Thing
Delivered on Sunday Morning, JULY 4, 1869, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"It is good for me to draw near to God."- Psalm 73:28.
WHEN a man is sick, everybody knows what is good for him. They recommend remedies by the score-salts from the earth, herbsof the field, drugs from the east, minerals from the rock, extracts, compounds, cordials, concoctions, quintessences and Iknow not what besides-as many medicines as there are men-all these are cried up as good for our complaint. Amid such a Babelit is well for a man if he knows on his own account what is good for himself.
Certainly in spiritual things, whatever others may recommend, it is of the first importance in all our trials to know by personalexperience for ourselves what is in the highest sense good for us. One of your friends may commend a course of vigorous actionand another may bid you sit still. One may persuade you to contemplate your trial from its darkest side and another may callyour attention solely to the brighter lights. But if you know, through having passed through the trial before, what is trulygood in such a case, it will be best to take your stand upon it and not be led away by every "lo! here," and "lo! there."
The Psalmist, although he might have been surrounded by a thousand counselors, puts them all aside, and strong in the confidencewhich his experience gave him, he declares, "It is good for me to draw near to God." It may seem good in the worldling's eyesto go his way to his wine cups, and to make merry in dance. It may seem good to yonder truster in an arm of flesh to seekout his friends and his kinsmen and entrust his case to their discretion. It may seem good to the desponding to retire inmelancholy to brood over his sorrows, and to the dissipated to endeavor to drown all care in vanity, but to me, says the Psalmist,it is good, pre-eminently good, that I should draw near unto God.
I. Now, in this statement, the Psalmist, first of all, TACITLY CONDEMNS OTHER COURSES OF ACTION. Take the text in connectionwith the Psalm of which it is the conclusion and you will see at once that he repents of a certain course of thought to whichhe had given way and the recoil from his error is the exclamation, "It is good for me to draw near to God." It is as if hemeant to say, "It is not good for me to do what I have done, it is infinitely better for me to draw near to God."
We learn from this that it is not a good thing for us to try and fathom the mysteries of Providence. What have we to do withmeasuring the great depths of Providence? Is not this meddling with things too high for us? It should be enough for us tocommit our boat to the Great Pilot, trusting all to Him who rules all-being well assured that He will bring His own belovedto their desired haven. We need not be curious to know the exact depth of all the deep places of the earth- it is enough thatthey are in His hands. Nor need the strength of the hills provoke our anxiety, for it is His, also. Yet such is the tendencyof the human heart, that we crave to comprehend all things in the little hollow of our hand. We aspire to calculate the infiniteand sum the total of the immeasurable. It is with us as though foolish children should determine to measure the great andwide sea and therefore should push off from the shore in a little boat to drift away, they know not where, in imminent hazardof their lives.
Theories upon predestination, followed up by speculations upon the facts of Providence-these are enough to drive men mad andare certain to drive them into wicked thoughts-unjust towards God and depressing towards themselves. Gotthold in his "Emblems"tells us of the adventures of his child. The father was one day sitting in his study and when he lifted his eyes from a bookwhich had engrossed his attention, he saw standing upon the window ledge his little son. He was troubled and frightened tothe last degree, for the child stood there in the utmost peril of falling to the ground and being dashed to pieces. The littleone had always been anxious to know what his father was doing so many hours in the day in his study and he had at last, bya ladder, managed to climb with boyish daring till there he stood outside the window, gazing at his father with his littleeyes.
"So," said the father, as he took the child into his chamber and rebuked him for his folly, "So have I often tried to climbinto the council chamber of God, to see why He did this and that. And thus have I exposed myself to peril of falling to mydestruction." My God, it is not good for me to pry into Your secrets with curiosity, but it is good for me to draw near untoYou in sincerity.
In connection with this Psalm we may also learn that it is not good for us, under any circumstances, to get very far fromGod. The verse that precedes the text runs thus-"They that are far from You shall perish." Now, the tendency of repeated affliction,is, in the carnal mind, to drive us away from God. "Surely He deals harshly with me," says the sufferer. "No good has cometo me since I began to attend a place of worship and to become religious. Evil after evil has happened to me in connectionwith my profession of godliness." Because of this the ungodly man, who was a formalist in his religion, gives it all up. "Itwere better," says he, "that I should find what pleasure I can in sin since I can find none in godliness."
If God treats His hypocritical servants roughly, they soon turn against Him. When the loaves and fishes fail, the admiringmultitudes go away. Two or three tosses upon the waves make bad sailors hate the sea and a trial or two will soon drive emptyprofessors into an utter dislike of godliness. This is often the sieve in which God tries His people and discerns betweenthe chaff and the wheat. A dog may follow you as you pass by, if you offer it a bone-but if you give it a stroke from yourstaff-see if it will follow you, then! Yet, to its own master, the faithful creature will cling with even greater tendernessif it is beaten. If you are God's own child, affliction will not make you fly from Him but to him, saying, "Show me why Youcontend with me."
But if you, in mere formality, follow at God's heels, as the dog pursues the stranger for a bone, then you will readily enoughturn against the Lord if He chastens you. By this may we judge ourselves whether we are God's servants or not. Beloved, itcan never be a good thing to take offense at the dealings of the Lord. His ways are the best for us-to forsake them is alwaysevil. Whatever temporary comfort we may gain by following the paths of evil, it will be shallow and short-lived-and soon aconsequent and terrible darkness will cover our spirits. To depart from God's Law is always hazardous traveling. By-Path Meadowis never good for pilgrims. You may seem to gain in this world by walking apart from God in the indulgence of a dishonestpractice, but the gain will be loss in the long run.
You may find a temporary deliverance from your pressing sorrow by a sinful step, but you will purchase the deliverance atan awful price, since sorrow will return to you multiplied sevenfold and will find you naked, because your clear conscience,which was once your shield, has been vilely cast away. He that, amidst a thousand troubles, keeps his heart whole by standingfirm in his integrity, may battle against all the world and all the hosts of Hell and not be afraid! But he who gives wayfor the sake of policy shall find that a wounded spirit none can bear and the weakness that shall come upon him, through havingturned aside to crooked ways, shall be such as shall cost him a far more dolorous lamentation than all his afflictions couldhave wrung from him.
Thus, at the outset of this sermon, we are warned that to peer into God's secrets is not good and to depart from God on accountof His dealing severely with us, is the very worst policy that we can follow.
II. Coming more closely to the text, we observe WHAT IS IN THE TEXT PLAINLY COMMENDED-"To draw near to God"-what does thismean? To draw near to God, Brothers and Sisters, implies first that we are reconciled to Him by the death of His Son. Fora man to attempt to draw near to God while God is angry with him would be a species of insanity. As well might the moth drawnear to the candle, or the stubble approach the flame! God is "a consuming fire," and while our hearts are evil there cannothing come of an approach to God but destruction!
Before any one of us can draw near to God in acceptable prayer and praise, we must wash in the fountain that Christ has filledfrom His dying veins. Do you believe in the Atonement, my Hearer? Believing in it, have you also received it? Do you restyour soul's salvation upon the accomplished mediatorial work of Jesus Christ? If not, you are such an enemy to God that youmay by no means even think yourself capable of drawing near to Him. Your back is towards Him and the faster you walk, thefurther from God will you journey, and your end will assuredly be to hear from Him the word,
You have been departing all your life! You shall go on departing throughout eternity-departing from the God whom you havehated and despised and forgotten. Before, then, we can draw near to God, we must have come with
repentance and faith to the Cross and have looked up to Him who bled there and we must have accepted Him as our salvation.I ask you whether you can accompany me in the first step? Have you laid hold on eternal life in Christ Jesus?
Next, in order to draw near to God, the soul must grasp the thought that God is near to it and the soul must have a clearsense of who and what God is. Ignorance is an effectual barrier to any approach to God, seeing that our drawing near is notphysical since God is always equally near to our bodies. It is mental and spiritual, and therefore, to such an approach theremust be an intelligent knowledge and apprehension of the Lord. We must know Him as good, as great, as just, as holy, as merciful,as true, as faithful. And, knowing Him-understanding something of His Character-we must then grasp the thought that He iseven now here, close at hand, nearer to us than any earthly friend could be, for He possesses our heart and compasses us onevery side.
As nothing can be nearer to the fish than the water in which it lives, so nothing can be nearer to us than God, in whom welive and move and have our being. The Lord is not round about us merely, but He is in our souls, filling their every cornerand chamber, entering into the core and center of our physical and mental nature. Now, when our mind is filled with thesetwo thoughts-God near us and reconciled to us-we have become capable of spiritually drawing near to Him. As yet I have notsucceeded in my description. How shall I tell you what to draw near to God is? It is prayer, but it is more than prayer.
I bow my knee and I begin to ask the Lord to help me in my time of trouble. I tell Him what my trial is. I put up my requests,uttering them with such words as His Holy Spirit gives me on the occasion. But this, alone, is not drawing near to God. Prayeris the modus operandi, it is the outward form of drawing near to God-but there is an inner spiritual approach which is scarcelyto be described by language. Shall I tell you how I have sometimes drawn near to Him? I have been worn and wearied with aheavy burden, and have resorted to prayer. I have tried to pour out my soul's anguish in words but there was not vent enoughby way of speech, and therefore my soul has broken out into sighs and sobs and tears.
Feeling that God was hearing my heart-talk, I have said to Him, "Lord, behold my affliction. You know all about it. Deliverme! If I cannot exactly tell You, there is no need of my words, for You see for Yourself. You searcher of hearts, You readme as I read a book. Will You be pleased to help Your poor servant? I scarcely know what help it is I need, but You know.I cannot tell You what I desire, but teach me to desire what You will be sure to give. Conform my will to
Perhaps at such a time there may be a peculiar bitterness about your trouble, a secret with which no stranger may intermeddle,but you can tell it all to your God. With broken words, sighs, groans and tears, you lay bare the inmost secret of your soul.Taking off the doors of your heart from their hinges, you bid the Lord come in and walk through every chamber and see thewhole. I do not know how to tell you what drawing near to God is better than by this rambling talk. It is getting to feelthat the Lord is close to you and that you have no secret which you wish to keep back from Him, but have unveiled your mostprivate and sacred desires to Him. The getting right up to Jesus, our Lord. The leaning of your head, when it aches with trouble,upon the heart that always beats with pity. The casting of all care upon Him-believing that He cares for you, pities you andsympathizes with you-this is drawing near to God! It is good for me to draw near to God if this is what drawing near to Godis.
Let us make a further attempt at the definition. Drawing near to God may assume the form of praise. It were a sad proof ofselfishness if we never approached our God except to ask for something. Brethren, I hope we often feel that our heavenly Fatherhas been so bountiful and kind and tender to us, that our cup runs over and our heart pours itself out in the language ofsome grand old Psalm, or we sing like the Virgin, "My soul does magnify the Lord, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."Thus to draw near to God in song is something, but there is a still further approach. The soul will sometimes climb so nearher God in thankfulness that words fail her and she sits down, like David, in the Lord's Presence, wondering, "Why all thisfor me? What am I and what is my father's house, that You have brought me here? O Lord, Your mercy overwhelms me! Come, then,expressive silence, speak the Divine praise."
You have seen a little child when it is greatly pleased with a gift from its mother. It says but little by way of gratitude,but it begins to kiss its mother at a vehement rate, as though it never could be done! Such drawing near in love exists betweena regenerate soul and its God. True saints fall to close embraces of gratitude, exhibiting thankfulness
inexpressible, real and deep and, therefore, not to be worded-weights of love too heavy to be carried on the backs of suchpoor staggering bearers as our words. This is drawing near to God and it is good for us.
As when on a sultry day the traveler strips off his garments and plunges into the cool refreshing brook and rises from itinvigorated to pursue his way, so it is when a spirit has learned, either in prayer or in praise, to really draw near to God!It bathes itself in the brooks of Heaven (streams branching from the river of the Water of Life) and goes on its way refreshedwith heavenly strength! Still, I have not fully described drawing near to God. To draw near to God has in it the element oflooking at the matter in the Divine light. Our light here below is nothing better than candlelight at its best. Now, by candlelight,there are many things of which we cannot judge. Colors are not truly seen by candlelight. Only by sunlight is the brightnessof the tints apparent.
We too often judge our afflictions and the Providential dispensations of God by the candlelight of human reason. Oh, if wecould draw near to God and get into His light and begin to look at things in their eternal bearings, how good it would be!To take the sacred picture of Providence and, with our eyeglass, look at the canvas inch by inch, is practically to see nothing.But to view the work of the Divine Artist as a whole-with all its lights and shades and all the fair proportions which manifestthe matchless skill! That would be to see, indeed! The fault of us all is this-we judge Providence by the moment instead ofregarding it in its true magnitude, stretched upon the framework of that eternal love which knows neither beginning nor end.
Your dear child dies. Yes, and what calamity could be heavier? But if the death of one shall be the salvation of others andif the child's death is but the child's admission into Paradise, the matter wears another aspect. It is no longer such a subjectfor tears as it otherwise might have been. Poverty scowls in your house-yes, and a sore ill is poverty-but if this povertyof pounds, shillings and pence should mean the reclaiming of a lost soul! If this trouble should be really needed to get usout of an ill position and to bring us into a holier and happier state-preparatory for Heaven-what would the loss of all earthlyriches be compared with the winning of Heaven?
Brothers and Sisters, we do not know how to judge! But if we must indulge our propensity to sit upon the bench, it would begood for us to get so near to God that we should weigh events in His scale and consider matters according to His measurement.Further than this, a man may be enabled not merely to draw so near to God as to see things in God's light, but he may evenrise so high as to be pleased with anything and everything that pleases God. This is a high attainment when a soul can honestlysay, "If I could have my will, it should be my will that God's will should be done. Let Him do wholly as seems good in Hissight. If it is for His Glory that I pine in sickness, then I would not wish for health. And if it is for His honor that Ishould be poor and despised, then I would not wish for comforts or for esteem."
The heart has need to pass through many a furnace before it attains to this, yet, my Brethren, we very soon reach this pointwith regard to those we love on earth, for we would very cheerfully give up our own wishes to please some dear one. In fact,it is with very many their highest happiness if there is anything that is needed by the object of their affection, to denythemselves anything and everything, if but their dear one's wish may be fulfilled. And shall we thus yield up ourselves atthe shrine of a wife, or a husband, or a darling child-and shall we not rejoice to surrender self for our gracious Lord? Shallwe put our idols higher than our God?
Shame upon us if anything in Heaven or earth is hard to do or suffer for our Lord. Let us ask to be able to say, "Neverthelessnot as I will, but as You will. If it pleases You, my God, it pleases me." No, let the Lord have His way. If we could standin His place, if we could have our way in opposition to Him, yet should it not be, but we would petition for the privilegeof denying ourselves in order that His eternal purpose might be fulfilled. Brothers and Sisters, may we learn to draw nearto God in such a sense as this! May the secret of the Lord be with us! May the Spirit of the Lord overshadow our spirits!May His will be our joy, His light our delight and Himself our all in all!
We must now leave this point. We can go no further. Words are scarcely the proper medium by which to instruct you in the artof drawing near to God. We must show you our fruit ripened under so Divine a sun! You must know the sweetness of communionfor yourselves and knowing it for yourselves, you will subscribe with heart and soul to Asaph's commendation, "It is goodfor me to draw near to God."
III. Thirdly, we shall occupy a little time in enquiring THE GROUNDS FOR SUCH AN UNQUALIFIED COMMENDATION-"It is good forme to draw near to God." First, it is good in itself. How can it be otherwise than good to have access to Him who is the highestgood? The courtier counts it a high honor and satisfaction to sun himself
in the presence of his monarch. He basks in the royal smile. Shall not the courtiers of Heaven count it an equal good to standin the favor of the King of kings and to delight themselves with the glory of His majesty?
It is a pleasure to draw near to God. As the enlivening breath of summer awakens the joyous emotions of creation, fillingthe gardens with beauty and the groves with song, even so the Countenance of the Lord is the source of the highest pleasureto the renewed soul, enlightening it with celestial happiness! Out of Heaven there are no such joys as those discovered inliving near to God. Albeit, everything that is pleasant is not, therefore, good-yet for once here is a good thing which issound as well as sweet, as holy as it is happy, as Divinely excellent as it is humanly desirable. Besides, to draw near toGod is elevating. He that draws near to the earth grovels and becomes earthy. He that draws near to the heavenly One is changedfrom glory to glory into the image of the heavenly.
You shall know a man by his company, for we are all much shaped by our acquaintances. And he that has an acquaintance withGod shall be discerned of all men, for his face shall shine and all his life and character shall be transfigured with holiness!Let but Jehovah dwell in a bush in the desert and lowliness is forgotten in glowing glories! And even thus let the Holy Spiritrest upon the earnest of His servants and the fishermen of Galilee shall become royal wonder-workers, whose names shall beas the names of the great ones that are on the earth. Approaching to God is, therefore, good in itself. For a chosen creaturethere is nothing better than to draw near to the Creator. It is so elevating, so honorable, so delightful!
Brothers and Sisters, it is good to draw near to God if you consider for a moment our relations to God. Remember gratefullythat we are His children which have been born into His family-and who shall deny but what it is a good thing for the childto come near to its parents? Where is the babe happier than on its mother's breast? There its cares are at an end, its sorrowscease-it cries itself to sleep upon the warm breast of love, when elsewhere it had been disturbed with rude alarms. It isgood for me, my God, like a babe to come nestling into Your bosom. It is always good for the chickens to shelter beneath thewings of the hen. The hawk may be in the air, but they are perfectly safe from cruelty- and when the child of God cowers downbeneath the everlasting wings and learns the meaning of David's words, "He shall cover you with His feathers and under Hiswings shall you trust," oh, then it is good, indeed!
We are the sheep of His pasture and none shall doubt but what it is good for the sheep to draw near to the Shepherd. In HisPresence is fullness of joy and nowhere else but there. He makes His sheep to lie down in green pastures because He is nearthem. It is His transporting Presence that leads them beside the still waters. It must be good for those who are of the familyof Christ to live very near to their elder Brother, through whom all the inheritance comes to them. We are the disciples ofour blessed Teacher and Master, and where should a disciple be but near his Lord? He wishes to be taught- let him sit at theTeacher's feet.
The Believer is an imitator of Christ. He that would imitate his copy must keep his copy near him and before his eyes. Weare "imitators of God's dear children," and therefore shall find it most helpful in our labor after the heavenly image, todraw very near, study very closely, and habitually dwell near to the Lord. Brethren, it is good for us to draw near to God,again, because of our pitiable character and condition. We are weakest of the weak and where should weakness lean but uponHim who delights to put forth His power for the upholding of the feeble? We are exceedingly foolish-even the wisest saintsare foolish, apt to be deceived and prone to error. Where, then, can our folly be safer but under the careful guidance ofInfallible Wisdom? It must be good for us when we get into dilemmas, to enquire at the Divine Oracle and ask which is theway that we may walk.
Besides, we are many of us so prone to despond that if others of more elastic step could afford to live without their God,certainly we could not. Timorous spirits will find it especially good to cultivate intimate communion with God, for unlessthey do this, depression of spirit may grow upon them and despondency may degenerate into despair. It is good for such toplume their wings and mount above the clouds, if the clouds have such deadly effect upon their joys. I cannot imagine a singlequality in the child of God which does not argue for the necessity and benefit of drawing near to God. Search yourselves throughand through and what will you find in your original nature that you can depend upon?
O you who live nearest to God, take care to examine the secrets of your heart and see if there is not within much to disgustand little to content you! See if there is anything in you by nature that you can rejoice in, or that you can lean upon! Nowby your weakness, by your folly, by your sinfulness, by your unbelief-by every evil quality that must ruin
you unless Divine grace prevents-I urge you to draw near to God! And as each of these evils shall be overcome, you shall findincreasingly that it is good to draw near to God.
Dear Friends, the correctness of the commendation in our text might be proven to you in many ways. We must trouble you witha few more arguments. It is good for you to draw near to God because of the removal of many evils with which you are constantlysurrounded. You business people have to be busy in the world from Monday morning till Saturday night and a man who is calledto business ought to be diligent in it. There is no sin in diligence-in fact, it is a virtue. But the tendency of businessis, in many cases, to make a man covetous. In others, fretfulness is the great failing and all worldliness is a strong besetment.You are unmindful of your Lord very frequently and too greedy for gain. In fact, unnumbered evils rise from our daily avocationslike dust from our dry roads as we make our pilgrimage along them.
In what way can a Christian shake the dust from his garments? How can he wash his face from the grime of his daily labor?Why, only by drawing near to God! Maintain with earnest regularity your morning and evening prayers. Do more than that-demandfrom time that it shall yield a little space for eternity. Force yourself to be alone. Pray God that your heart may be withHim while your hands are in your daily work. See to it that while you are in the world you are not of it, because your aspirations,your thoughts and desires are going upward, and your communion is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. You willfind that business becomes less dangerous. You shall find that the cares of it are less bitter and the joys of it are lessintoxicating if you draw near to God.
I do not know what may be the peculiar position which your affairs are in this morning, but I venture upon the remark thatfrom the evil which springs out of your present condition there is no cure like drawing near to God. Are you solitary andalone? Have you much leisure? Great temptations lurk in leisure-draw near to God and they vanish and leisure becomes spacein which to serve your God! Are you suffering today under very severe trials? Ah, it will be sweetly good to you to draw nearto God, for then you will not become impatient nor will you be permitted to think hard things of your gracious God and Father.
Beyond the evils which drawing near to God will remove, there are many good things which drawing near to God will confer.These I cannot particularly instance, for they comprehend everything. There is no blessing in the Covenant of Grace whichprayer cannot obtain, which close approaches to God will not ensure. Let me gather them up under these short heads-Are youa worker for God and do you lack strength? Draw near to God and get it. Are you struggling and wrestling against a mightyinward sin or outward error? Then draw near to God and you will learn the way to victory. Like the old fable of the giantwhom Hercules would gladly destroy-who rose every time he fell to the ground stronger than before because he touched his mother,earth-so the Christian, every time he is overcome, if he falls upon his God, rises stronger than before!
Take care, O tried Believer, that you get near your God and you shall be strong. Are you a minister? Do you preach the Gospel?It is always good for an ambassador to receive his orders fresh from court-and good for us it is when we come into the pulpitwith a message all glowing from the Master's mouth! Oh, I can say, if no one else can, it is good for me to draw near to God!Nothing else could keep my soul standing in the midst of responsibilities so overwhelming and trials that are neither fewnor small! I had long since been utterly confounded were it not that I have been taught by experience to draw near to Godand breathe the bracing air of Heaven before I come among you to talk of the things of
Perhaps, my dear Friend, you are conscious of having fallen into sin and you say, "Do not talk about drawing near to God tome! I am so unworthy." Well, if there is one to whom it is good to draw near to God above another, you are the man! You whohave the most sin have most need of Divine Grace. Where will you obtain pardon but by drawing near to God through Jesus Christ?You who are the foulest with inbred corruption-how will you win the victory over your natural depravity but by drawing nearto the Strong for strength through the blood of the Atonement and seeking the power of the Holy Spirit? I say to you, Brothersand Sisters, whether it is sin or sorrow, whether it is temptation or depression-whatever may be the evil which assails youthis day-it must be in the highest degree good for you to draw near to God!
We have said enough, I think, to prove our point, but this much more must be added. This drawing near to God is a remedy forevil open to every child of God by the assistance of the Holy Spirit. You are poor, yes-but you can draw
near to God without a golden bridge! You are ignorant-you can draw near to God without Latin or Greek! You are not giftedwith rhetorical powers-you tell me you cannot put six sentences together. Remember our gracious God does not require you tobe a Demosthenes or a Cicero! You can draw near to God even though you cannot say a word! A prayer may be crystallized ina tear. A tear is enough water to float a desire to God. Yes, and if you cannot even weep, the very bitterest tears are thosethat drop inside the head-and these the Lord will cherish!
When parching grief will not let the eyes relieve the heart with tears, the Lord can and will deliver. When no other balmwill avail, it will be good for you to draw near to God-and you have the Lord's permission to do so. Yes, in the long hoursof the watchful night in the sick chamber you can draw near to God and in the sultry hours of the busy day you have no needto seek your oratory or your closet-you can draw near to God in the field and the shop. Here in this pew, or there in thestreet! Yonder in your lonely attic, or in your miserable cellar, or in the midst of the ribald talk and the coarse societyof wicked workmen with whom you are toiling! Anywhere, even though it were at the gates of Hell, you can draw near to God!
There is never a possibility for Satan to block up this road, nor rob you of this privilege. Thus you bear about with you,O Believer, a charm against every ill-a weapon that will stand you in good stead against every foe. And when the waters ofthe last black river shall roar in your ears and your blood shall be made to freeze and your heart and your flesh shall failyou-then as you draw near to God by committing your spirit unto Him, you shall find that He is the strength of your life andyour portion forever! It shall always be good for you to draw near to God. There is no need that I should say more in conclusion,except to finish by a word of practical advice. If it is, indeed, so good to draw near to God, let us do it at once!
Children of God, have you been living at a distance from your Father? The silver bell rings this morning and invites you toreturn. An angel voice cries, "Come back! Come back! Come back!" Will you not answer, "I will arise and go to my Father"?Have you had a little prosperity, a thriving time in business and have you ungratefully forgotten the God who gave you this?Oh, now that the prosperity is for awhile removed, out of the darkness let the voice of longsuffering Mercy be heard, forit calls to you, "Return unto Me, backsliding child, return." It shall be good for you to acquaint yourself with God, now,though you have lost the privilege of communion for awhile. The privilege has not lost its sweetness. It will still bringyou countless blessings to approach your God.
Do I address any dear friend here who is very happy and rejoicing? I hope his joy will abide with him and that he will rejoicein the Lord always! But it will be good for him, at this bright hour, to draw near to God. Communion with God will give adeeper and healthier tone to your joy so that it shall not intoxicate you. You shall have all the true mirth that lies inearthly comfort, but the evil element shall be neutralized-your feet shall stand on your high places, but your soul shallnot be puffed up with pride. Fellowship with God is good for you! O seek it now! Draw near to God at once!
I would suggest to each Believer the propriety of trying to get between now and the next Lord's-Day, a special season alone.Strain after a devotional vacation. Surely if you can spare time for holidays and recreations, you can clear a space for specialdrawing near to God. I believe this Church would be visited with a very great ingathering if all the members of it made ita solemn matter of duty to draw near to God especially and particularly. I feel persuaded the ministry would revive in freshness,converts would be more numerous and the people of God more rejoicing if we did this. We might expect to see a general revivalof religion if all the faithful in Christ's Church drew near to Him with greater vehemence of supplication, a higher expectationand a greater boldness of faith. May God give us Divine Grace to attempt this!
Alas, I have been very conscious, while preaching this morning, that my subject has small attractions for a great many presentbecause they never did draw near to God and what I have spoken will seem to them to be an idle tale. Ah, my dear Friends,if you live and die a stranger to God, as you have lived up to now, God, whom you do not know today will not know you in anotherworld. No love-knowledge will He have of you. You will ask of His Son for mercy, but He will reply, "I never knew you. Departfrom Me, you cursed." You will need an interest in Jesus' blood in the next world! You will need to have a part in the loveof Christ when He comes in His kingdom.
But as you do not know Him here, He will not know you there. Woe is me that I should have to tell you this! Do you know whatbecomes of those that forget God? The Scripture is very plain, "The wicked shall be turned into Hell and all the nations thatforget God." Shall that be your portion? Will you always be forgotten of God? Oh, it would be good for
you to draw near to God! And you may do so, for Jesus welcomes those who desire forgiveness! You have but to ask Him to acceptyou and He will!
In your pew this morning, the prayer may successfully assault His ear-send it up-"You Son of David, I desire to draw nearto God. Introduce me to Your Father's Presence by the merit of Your sacrifice." You shall not seek in vain, dear Heart! Christwill have pity upon you and you shall be saved! O that today, today, TODAY you might learn, for the first time, that it isgood to draw near to God!
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFOFE SERMON-Psalm 73.