Sermon 885. Serving The Lord
Delivered on Sunday Morning, AUGUST 15, 1869, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Serving the Lord."- Romans 12:11.
THE harmony of Scripture is admirable. Everything is proportionate and balanced. He who weighed the mountains in scales hashad a clear eye to the adjustment of truth in His Word. Within these pages you find a sufficiency of doctrine, for it is thebasis of practice. You read abundance of promise, for it is the support of perseverance. But, you meet, also, with frequencyof precept, for it is the spur and guide of holiness. We could not afford to dispense with a verse of Holy Writ. The removalof a single text, like the erasure of a line of a great epic, would mar the completeness and connection of the whole. As wellpluck a gem from the high priest's breastplate as erase a line of Revelation.
Absolutely perfect are the proportions of inspired Truth and it is noteworthy that practical Truth has the greatest prominence.It has been remarked by an able Divine that for every exhortation that we have in the New Testament to pray, we have fivecommands either to work or to give. While the doctrinal part of Scripture is exceedingly full, the practical part is not onewhit less copious, and, indeed, the proportion which, in Christ's ministry, was given to instruction in practical godlinessis vastly larger than the share allotted to it in most modern ministries.
God has given to us in Scripture something concerning every necessary thing, but most of all upon the most necessary, namely,holy living. As the Lord distributes, so must we receive. We are not to neglect the knowledge of the Doctrines of Grace. Weare diligently to feed upon the promises, but we are also, with affection and reverence, to regard the precepts.
In the verse before us, this same harmony is noteworthy. "Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."The ordinary duties of our calling we are not called upon to forget-we are not to neglect the shop for the sanctuary-or thecounting house for the class meeting. The legs of a fool are not equal, but the holiness of a Believer should always be wellarranged. Whatever our position in life may be we are so to order our conduct in it as to commend ourselves for diligenceand uprightness both to the Church and to the world. The Christian is not to be a worse tradesman because of his religion,but a better! He is not to be a less skilled mechanic, but he is to be all the more careful in his work.
It were a pity, indeed, if Paul's tents were the worst in the store and Lydia's purple of the poorest dye. At the same timeobserve how the next clause calls our equal attention to the higher and more spiritual matter. "Fervent in spirit." We mustnot neglect the spiritual because of the pressing demands of the temporal. Perhaps we are more likely to forget this preceptthan the former, therefore let us lay it the more to heart. We are to maintain the holy fire within our souls constantly burning,for that is the meaning of "fervent." Our love to God must not merely be there in a small degree, but it must exist as a vigorousflame. Our spirit must be kept warmly zealous, burningly affectionate. Our spiritual nature is to glow like coals of fire.
The keystone of the arch of life is to be a desire for God's Glory. At this point the public and the private, the bodily andthe spiritual, are to be as one-both in business diligence and spiritual fervency we are to set the Lord always before us.Our everyday labor is to be consecrated into priestly sacrifice, our inward fervor is to be like temple incense and so, ourbodies being temples of the Holy Spirit, we are ever to remain "serving the Lord." My aim in this sermon will be to call uponmy believing Brothers and Sisters to fulfill in their lives the meaning of the words which we have now selected as our text,"Serving the Lord," or as it might be rendered, "doing the part of servants towards God." "Servantizing"- waiting as servantsupon the Most High.
I. And first, I shall have to notice THE ESSENTIALS OF ALL TRUE SERVICE TO GOD. NO one will fail to see that the very firstessential must be that the man who would render service must beforehand be accepted as a servant. If a
stranger should, of his own accord, visit your farm and should commence driving the horses, milking the cows, reaping thewheat and so on-if you had never employed him he would be fulfilling the part of an intruder rather than the office of a servant.
Now, it is not every man who is fit to be a servant of God. In fact, in our fallen condition, none of us can be received intoHis household, even as hired servants. How should the thrice holy God be served by hands unwashed from sin? Lepers cannotstand at His altar, or the deformed dwell within His gates. Unregenerate man cannot serve God-their thoughts and ways areevil and defiled. Unto the wicked God says, "What have you to do to declare My statutes?" No form of homage rendered by thewicked can be acceptable. Until the person is justified, the work cannot be received.
Dear Friend, think of this! You must, first of all, be taken into the Lord's employment before you can render Him service!Let me ask you, then, are you in very deed and truth a servant of the Lord? Have you been bought with the great Master's money?In other words, have you been ransomed by the death of Jesus Christ? Have you been redeemed, not with corruptible things aswith silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus? For only the redeemed ones are reckoned by the Lord as servantsin His household. The ungodly are slaves to Satan and even in their attempts at religion they display their vassalage to thepowers of evil. You must, first of all, be loosed from your natural bondage and set free with a price! And then, and then,only, can you be the servant of the Most High.
Answer this question to your heart and conscience, dear Hearer! He that is God's servant has been won by power as well asbought with price. How does this fact strike you? Has a strong hand snatched you from servitude to your former tyrant? Haveyou been compelled by Divine Grace to leave your sins and to commence another course of life? No man comes to Jesus excepthe is drawn of the Father. No man leaves the service of folly unconstrained by Divine Grace. Have you been so drawn?
Israel would forever have made bricks in Egypt if the Lord had not brought forth His people with a high hand and an outstretchedarm. Do you know what the mighty working of His power means? Has Sovereign Grace subdued you? Have you in very deed been translatedout of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son? If you know not these things, little avails it that youpretend to hear the Lord, for your profession is hollow and vain. True servants of God, again, are always such as are bornin His house as well as bought with His money-"You must be born again." Preliminary to all holy service must be regeneration.The fruit of the wild olive will still be wild, water it as you may. That which comes from the crab will still be sour, plantthe tree where you will.
Man's nature must be changed. A lion cannot plow as an ox, or carry a rider as a horse. A sinner is unsuitable for servicetill he is newly created. Have you received, then, from God, a change-a radical change which has affected your nature andmade you a new man in Christ Jesus? If so, then you may not only talk of service, but joyously enter into it! But if not,to labor to perform holy works is to try to bear flowers without roots, to build a house without a foundation, to make a garmentwithout cloth. You must begin with faith in Jesus. You must first experience a work done within you by God before you cango forward to work for the Lord.
Next to this, it is vitally necessary that in all our service we sincerely and simply render our obedience to the Lord Himself.Much that is done religiously is not done unto God. A sermon may be preached and contain excellent truth and the languagein which the Truth of God is stated may be everything that could be desired and yet the service rendered may be to the hearers,or to the man's own self and not to God at all. You may go to your Sunday school class and with great perseverance you mayinstruct those little children, but yet you may have served your fellow teachers, or the general community rather than haveserved your God.
To whom do you look for a reward? Whose smile is it that gladdens you? Whose frown would depress you? Whose honor do you seekin all that you are doing? Remember that which is uppermost in your heart is your Master. If your deepest motive is to seemto be active, to appear to be diligent and to win commendation for taking your share in the Church's work, you have not servedGod-you have sacrificed unto others. O Beloved, this is a point which, though it is very simple to speak of, is very searching,indeed, if it is brought home to heart and conscience-for then much of that which glitters will be found not to be gold-andthe glory of much apparently excellent serving will dissolve in smoke.
The Lord must be the sole object of your labor! The pursuit of His Glory must, like a clear crystal stream, run through thewhole of your life, or you are not yet His servant. Sinister motives and selfish aims are the death of true godliness. Searchand look lest these betray you unawares. Furthermore, in all true service of God it is essential that we
serve Him in the way of His appointment. You would be grievously plagued if you had in your house a woman who was continuallyrunning up and down stairs, roaming into every room, opening every closet, moving this piece of furniture and dusting thatand generally keeping up a perpetual stir and worry. You would not call this service, but annoyance.
All that is done contrary to orders is disobedience, not service. And if anything is done without orders, it may be excessiveactivity, but it certainly is not service. Alas, my Brothers and Sisters, how many think they are serving God when they havenever looked to the Statute Book-they have not turned to the Commandments of the great King as we have them written in HisWord-but have rendered to Him will-worship? They worship after their own fashion and fancy, thinking this to be good becauseit is artistic. Believing that to be proper because it is usual. Conceiving a third thing to be right because it is antique,but forgetting that the Word of God is the standard and nothing is service which is not commanded in Holy Scripture.
O that the Church, in all her activities, would look to this, for she cumbers herself with much serving and for the most partthe cumbering does not come from duties prescribed for her by her Lord, but from observances which she has invented for herself.Upon you, dear Friends, I press this point. How are your lives ordered? I ask you the question, for I desire to ask it ofmyself. Have you had an eye to your Master's mind in what you have done in religious matters? Has it occurred to you frequently,and does it occur to you constantly to see what the Lord would have you do? Otherwise I warn you that you may be borne alongthe rapid stream of Church activity in the channel of mere tradition and may never render acceptable homage to your Lord.
Or you may be restlessly busy on your own account and after your own will, but your exertions will not be service to God becauseyou consulted not His will. As a disciple you must bow your neck to the yoke of Christ! As the eyes of handmaidens are totheir mistress, so must your eyes be unto the Lord for direction and command. What the King bids you, you must do. What Hedoes not bid you has no power over your conscience, even though pope and prelate decree it. Have you all had respect untoHis Commandments? I will ask concerning one of them-have you, as Believers, been obedient to His command to be baptized? Haveyou given this answer of a good conscience towards God? "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved."
As plainly as anything in Scripture, it seems, at least to us, that Believers' Baptism is commanded! Have you attended toit? No, some of you know your duty, but you do it not. I pray the Holy Spirit to convince you of your sinful neglect and tolead you into all the commandments of your Lord. Our will must bow and our heart must obey, or otherwise we shall be strangersto "serving the Lord." Furthermore, it is essential to all true and acceptable service that we serve God in His strength.Those who attempt to perfect holiness without waiting upon the Holy Spirit for power will be as foolish as the Apostles wouldhave been if they had commenced preaching at once and had forgotten the Master's exhortation, "Tarry at Jerusalem until powerbe given to you from on high."
"You cannot serve the Lord," said Joshua to Israel-they were very earnest, they were very intent upon it, but he knew theweakness of their nature and he said to them-"Fou cannot serve the Lord." None of us can honor the Lord except as we dailyderive strength from the Fountain of all power. My dear Hearer, are you accustomed to fall on your face before the livingGod, conscious of your weakness? And do you plead with Him to gird you with strength and then, in that God-given vigor, doyou go forth to the field of labor? If not-if your work is done in the strength of the flesh- it shall be but fleshly workand shall wither as the green herb. You will be sure to give yourself the honor of your own doings and therefore God willnot accept or confirm what your own strength has worked.
The last testing hour, which shall try every man's work, of what sort it is, will be certain to consume all that came fromcarnal nature. Solemn thought! Nothing will last but that which was worked by Divine power. All the works of man shall beburnt up. No achievement of our own will appear on the record of celestial fame. Whatever we may have thought we had done,if it has been performed in the strength of the flesh, shall as certainly dissolve as the iceberg floating in the warm currentof the gulf stream melts as it is borne along. O Holy Spirit, help us, that our works, being done in Your strength, may beestablished of God!
Once more, it is essential to the perfection of Christian service that we stand continually ready to obey the Lord's willin anything and everything without distinction. We cannot serve the Lord if we pick and choose our duties. He who enlistsin the army of the Most High surrenders his will to the discipline of the army and the bidding of the Captain. Whatever Christbids any of us do in the future, we must unhesitatingly perform. It may be that His finger will point to distant
lands-there we must go cheerfully. We must follow the pillar of cloud without repining. We may be called to posts of laborfor which we feel ourselves to be inadequate. We may be bid to attempt work from which our spirit as yet recoils- but if weare called to it, it is not ours to ask the reason why-it is ours, if necessary, even to dare and die in serving the Lord.
What have you to do with finding strength? It is His to give it to you in your hour of need. What have you to do with likesor dislikes? Servants must like that which their masters bid them! Man, your will must be subdued! Your prejudices, insteadof being pampered, must be destroyed! You must be as willing to be a hewer of wood and a drawer of water as to be a princeand a standard-bearer. You must be as content to teach a little child his letters for Christ as to testify the Gospel beforean audience of kings. To you it must be equal whether you shall sit on a throne for Christ or rot in a dungeon for Christ!He only is a sincere servant who is intent upon doing the whole of his Lord's will, let that will be what it may.
I wish I could, in more attractive style, describe this service, but let this suffice-I am persuaded, Brethren, that servingthe Lord is not a merely external and outward religion-it is a matter of the heart and of the soul. It is a matter of theconscience and of the affections. Serving the Lord is not a thing of fits and starts, spasms and excitements-it is a constant,thorough, practical, universal subservience to the mind of the Most High. Serving the Lord is not mere thought, scheme, plan,resolution-it is actually spending and being spent! It is the exercise of all the energies of nature and of all the energiesof Divine Grace in the cause of Him from whom all energy is derived. May a life of holy diligence accurately expound in ourcase what it is to be "serving the Lord."
II. I shall now mention, in the second place, for the help and guidance of earnest spirits, SOME OF THE MODES IN WHICH WEMAY AT THIS DAY SERVE THE LORD. It was an ordinance of king David that all the soldiers in the army should share in the spoil.Certain of the warriors did not go down to the fight, but guarded the supplies, as guards of the baggage. But these were accountedto be as true soldiers as those who joined in the actual conflict. Therefore I would say a word, first, to those of you whocannot serve the Lord in the direct activities which are required of the most of us-I mean those who are prevented by theLord's own Providential act from fulfilling all that is incumbent upon others.
Dear Brothers and Sisters-if from sickness, lack of education, or from your position in life you have had no opportunitiesto preach the Word or even to teach it to a few-well, be it yours to remember that a quiet holy example is true service ofGod! If the tongue speaks not, yet if the life speaks, you shall have done God no small homage. If your actions are so guardedwith holy care that your character in your station adorns the doctrine of God your Savior, though you shall scarcely be ableto utter a sentence of actual Gospel Truth, yet your life shall ring in the ears of the unconverted! They shall take knowledgeof you that you have been with Jesus and your example shall be blessed to them!
If you cannot help the great cause of God in any other mode, at any rate there is open to you that of fervent prayer. Howmuch may be done for the Master's kingdom by the "king's remembrancers," who put Him in mind day by day of the agonies ofHis Son and of His Covenant and promise to give Him a widening dominion! I doubt not that many sick beds in England are doingmore for Christ than our pulpits! Oh, what showers of blessings come down in answer to the prayers and tears of poor godlyinvalids whose weakness is their strength and whose sickness is their opportunity!
In all buildings there must be some unseen stones and are not these very often the most important of all? In the very foundationof a Church I should place those who are mighty in prayer! They are hidden, as it were, beneath the soil of obscurity wherewe cannot see them, but they are bearing up the entire structure. My dear afflicted Brothers and Sisters, when at any timeyou are cut off from the active ministries which have been your delight, solace yourselves with this- that your sacred patienceunder suffering and your fervent prayers for the promotion of the Redeemer's kingdom are a sacrifice of a sweet smell-holyand acceptable unto God!
But surely it will be possible in some way for the very weakest and those in the worst circumstances to add something to this!Can you not speak, at least now and then, a word for Christ? Opportunities must occur to those placed in the most difficultpositions. Will you not seize them? I think once, every now and then, to the most ungodly husband, brother, or son, theremust be an opportunity of saying a gracious word. At least sometimes to the friend visiting your sick bed there is an opportunityof dropping a word of consecrated admonition. I can conceive some of you who are
servants to be so placed that it would be wrong for you to be attending many assemblies for worship, or to be spending muchtime in evangelizing others. You are never to offer to God one duty stained with the blood of another.
But I imagine that even under the worst conceivable circumstances there must be opportunities which I hope you do not findit in your heart to neglect. Dear Mother, with those babes around you, you have a field of labor among them. Their littlehearts, tender as they are and so deeply susceptible to your influence-surely you can operate upon them! Nurse girls, governessesand household servants-you need not go abroad for sacred labor! You have your proper spheres at home and if you love God youcan serve Him right well in your position. You whose occupations engross your time from the first hour of the morning tillthe last at night-I cannot imagine that God has given, even to you, a light which is covered with a bushel!
You must have at least some cranny, some little slit from which your light may shine upon a dark world! Look for it and rememberthat if your holy living and your prayers can only be accompanied with the smallest possible service-if it is all that ispossible-you shall be as much accepted as those who do far more. They who give thousands to the cause of Christ do well-butthey do no better than the widow who, having two mites, gave all. Take care that you give all, and giving all you have offeredas much and more than some of us whose opportunities are ampler and whose responsibilities are greater.
But while we have thus made room for comfort for those who stay with the supplies, we do not desire to console the idle, andtherefore we remind you that few now present are among the class so graciously excused the rougher conflict. We have herea goodly company who are quite able to go down to the battle-unto those I shall now speak. Brethren, the form of service ourMaster most desires of us is comprehensively this-that we make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been said that itis not our duty to convert nations, nor even to save a single soul. and I believe there is truth in the assertion. It is notour duty to do what we cannot by any possibility do, since only God Himself can convert or regenerate a soul! Jesus did notcommand us to make men accept the Gospel, but He has bid us to make known the Gospel to every creature.
In this London of ours, there ought not to be a single man or woman ignorant of the letter of the Gospel. It is a sad proofof our idleness, our gross lack of zeal, that London is still so grossly ignorant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! In theseBritish Isles there ought not to be a child that has attained the years of responsibility and yet is not instructed in thethings of the kingdom-not one! For if Christians were but a tenth as numerous as they are, they would be sufficient for theevangelizing of the United Kingdom. Yes, Brethren, had the Church in the past been faithful and were the Church in the presentfaithful to God and to His Christ, there is no reason why there should remain a district upon the surface of the globe, thatis accessible to trade, which should not speedily be enlightened by the clear shining of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are not responsible that the Hindu worships his idols. We are not responsible that the African adores his fetish. But weare responsible that the Hindu does not know the Gospel and that the African has not heard of the atoning sacrifice of Christ!We are to preach the Gospel, and whether it is a savor of death unto death, or of life unto life is left in God's hands. Whethermen receive it or reject it is not with us-it is ours to preach to all men-to sow, though the wheat falls among tares, thoughit wastes on the highway, though it perish ultimately on the stony ground. To sow everywhere is our duty and the whole worldis our field.
I ask, then, every Christian man here to listen to the voice of his risen Lord, and let His command appeal to his conscience.It is your bounden duty, every day of your life, to be making men to know the mystery which has been hid for ages, even theGospel of Jesus Christ-the glorious fact that He came into the world to save sinners, even the chief! How much are you doingfor Christ, my Brother? How much have you been doing for His cause today? How much are you going to do before the sun hasset?
Now, under this and through this, if we would serve the Lord Christ, we should, every one of us, aim at the conversion ofsinners. I said that to convert them was not our duty-but I append to that statement this other assertion-that to aim at theirconversion is our duty and our privilege and we are not to be self-complacently content with having merely spoken the Truthof God-we are to look for signs following. I am to deliver the Gospel message come what may. But I may well suspect some faultin myself or in my testimony if the conversion of sinners does not follow upon it in some measure-for a true Gospel is a soul-savingthing. When it comes, though all men are not saved
by it, yet some are! And a company whose hearts God has touched will surely be brought out where His Truth is honestly, earnestly,faithfully, prayerfully dispensed.
It is a Christian's duty to be seeking always the salvation of all who come in his way. But I think especially of certainindividuals who are laid on His heart. I shall now put a question which I daresay has passed through your minds before, butwhich I would like to tarry there. How many, my dear Friend, were you ever the means of bringing to Jesus? You believe thatthey must perish everlastingly unless they have faith in Christ. How many have you personally prayed for? How many did youever break your heart about? You believe that they must love Christ or be damned. How many have you ever talked to concerningHim who is the only Savior? To how many have you borne your testimony of His kindness and His Divine Grace? Upon how manyhave you laid the tender hand to press them to follow after the Savior?
Ah, well, the questions sound so trite as I put them and perhaps as they come to your ears you are weary with them as beingso commonplace. But by the great day of the appearing of our Lord, when He shall require of you an account of your stewardship,I implore you answer these enquiries, even if they humble you in the very dust! If the answer is painful, seek in the futurethat your course is mended, and as servants of Christ yearn over souls and long and sigh and cry until at last you shall beable to say, "If they perish I have done my best and their blood will not be required at my hands."
I think I hear the devil whispering to some of you, "But that is the preacher's business." No, Sirs, it is no business ofmine to do your work. My work is stern enough. My responsibility is heavy enough-I cannot undertake yours. In the winningof souls no Christian can be proxy for another. The idea of supporting a missionary or supporting a minister to do my workfor God is an idea that never ought to have crossed the Christian's mind! Jesus did not save you by proxy! He did not diefor you in the person of another! He gave His own Person-body, soul and spirit-wholly for you. And by the love you bear Him,if, indeed, it is sincere, I pray you consecrate yourself this day anew to the bringing home of His banished ones, that Jesusmay see of the travail of His soul.
A third form of usefulness must not be forgotten and it is this-it should be the aim of all Believers not merely to bringin the ungodly, but to endeavor to reclaim backsliders. Some backsliders, I fear, are apostates for having brought dishonorupon the Christian Church. They nevertheless are far from being humbled, but impertinently thrust themselves and their supposedclaims to attention upon the Church whom they have grieved and injured. Their much-talked-of repentance appears to us to bemore early than deep and to be more pretentious than true. But at the same time, if a man has fallen and even if the Churchis obliged to put him away, we do not deliver such a one to Satan that he may blaspheme, but that he may learn not to blaspheme.
The object of Church discipline should always be the good of the person who has to endure it. There is no more Christ-likework anywhere than for elder Christians to be watching over the young ones, checking their first declensions, nipping theevil in the bud-no nobler work unless it is the restoration of those who have actually gone astray. Oh, as you would thatothers should seek you in a similar case, Beloved, seek the wandering sheep, remembering that there will be more joy in thepresence of the angels of God over one restored wanderer than over 99 that went not astray!
Another mode of usefulness is for Christians to seek the edification of one another. It is as great a good to the State tomaintain a citizen in health as to introduce a stranger into citizenship. How much might some of you do for the edificationof younger Christians if you would but seek opportunities? Ah, Christian Man, I fear you accumulate experience and you gatherknowledge-but the whole of it becomes unprofitable because you are not diligent in its use for the good of the Church! Furthermore,Brethren, some of you may not be able to accomplish these things to any large extent, but God entrusts you with wealth. Thenmake use of your substance for Him-and in truth, whatever the form of your gift, let your work correspond to it. Accordingto the Grace given let the work rendered be. Let each pound yield its own interest.
As you are set in the body as a member, exercise the office of your peculiar membership and be not slack in it. Let therebe no sluggishness, but let us all, in the name of Him who on yonder tree poured out His life, endeavor that from this day,with double zeal, we may be found "serving the Lord."
III. So I shall pass on very briefly, indeed, to notice, in the third place, THE COMMENDATION which is due to this service.To serve the Lord is surely the natural element of godliness. Heavenly spirits enjoy unbroken rest, but they find their restin serving God day and night. If you could restrict the Christian from the service of God, you would debar him
from his highest joy. Surely it is as much the element of a Christian to do good as for a fish to swim, or a bird to fly,or a tree to yield her fruits. Oh, then, if you would let the new-born nature fully develop itself, you must be serving theLord!
To serve the Lord is the highest honor. How men pride themselves on being attached to the train of great men! How proud theyare of wearing the livery of princes! But what must it be to have God, the Eternal, for your Master? To have Jesus Christas your gracious Helper? To have the Holy Spirit as your Divine Guide in all that you are called to do? To serve the Lordis to stand on a level with the angels-to worship the same Master as they do who are in the Presence of the Divine Majesty!
It is better to serve God than rule a kingdom! No, he is both a king and a priest who has thoroughly entered into the serviceof the Most High. To serve God is to enjoy the highest pleasure. I will guarantee you that the happiest members of any Churchare the most diligent. Those who sit still easily imagine sorrows. Idlers are those who indulge in criticism of other people'sservice and find themselves most happy when they can pull other men's work to pieces. This bitter spirit dies in the atmosphereof hard work. Doubts and fears fly before sacred activity. There is a kind of spiritual indigestion which seizes on the greatproportion of professors so that they never appear to enjoy life at all. It were a pity that they should-it were a pity thatthose should have happiness who will not render unto God the tribute of grateful labor.
The Prayer Meeting is neglected by them. They are not teaching children nor exhorting grown-up people. They are neither helpingothers to work nor working themselves and yet they reckon that they are to have the rewards of Divine Grace. A whip for theirshoulders is surely a portion far more suitable than a promise for their souls! God usually takes good care to give a manthe file if he will not brighten himself by service. He that will not keep off the filth by the constant scour of activityshall find himself cast into the pungent lye of trouble-wherein he shall be fretted and consumed until the rust is removed.
If you would educate your soul, you must be active! No man grows to be a perfect Christian by lying on the bed of sloth. Ourmanhood is developed by exercise. The soldier grows into the veteran amidst the smoke of battle. Sailors learn not their cragon dry land and Christian men can never be educated so that the whole of their spiritual manhood can be developed by merelylistening to sermons or witnessing the holy example of others. That strength which is to be increased must be used. That knowledgewhich is to be multiplied must be communicated. To be content with what you have done is to go backward! To use what you haveis to make progress and to be enriched. Onward, then, for perfection lies ahead of you!
My dear Brothers and Sisters, there are 10,000 things that I might say with regard to Christian activity, all of which oughtto excite your minds to present action. Are you patriots? You cannot serve your country better than by serving your Lord!Are you philanthropists? You cannot bless the human race more effectually than by seeking to extend the kingdom of Jesus Christin it! Do you sigh and cry over the woes of others? You cannot better redress them than by the Gospel, which is the universalremedy. Do you deplore the abundant ignorance around you? No light can scatter it like the knowledge of Christ's Gospel! Areyou afraid of the future? Do you dread revolution and anarchy? Nothing can settle the pillars of order like the testimonyof Christ Jesus! In fact, there is nothing you can do that is holier, more worthy of your best nature, more filled with blessingthan "serving the Lord."
' IV. And now, to close, I shall speak for a minute upon THE PRESENT NEED OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE. Brethren, there is alwaysneed to be serving the Lord for your own sake. You cannot be holy and happy. You cannot be what a Christian ought to be unlessyou are evermore engaged in Jehovah's cause. There is great need for you, my dear Brother, to serve God, because I fear sofew professors are doing so. I would not judge harshly, but as I look down the roll and notice the number that have giventheir names to the Church, I cannot help fetching a sigh over one and another as I remember that the name is all that we atpresent can call our own, so far as we can judge.
Oh, if only the Christians in London who are joined in fellowship in our Churches were all zealous, I am sure we should seebrighter and better days than we do now. Do not, however, be quick to accuse others, but seek to be aroused yourself. Thereis need enough of diligence in this wretched city. I was reading but the other day that thrilling book, "The Seven Cursesof London," and any one of these seven curses is enough to give a man heartache if he will thoroughly understand it. Thatcurse of drink, especially-what is to be done with it? How few Christians take to heart the abominable intoxication whichpollutes the masses of our population!
While again our social evil, the very mention of which is enough to make a man sick-are we forever to shut our eyes to itand talk as though we were dwelling in a Jerusalem-when this city is infinitely more like to Sodom? Why, the ignorance, thepoverty, the misery, the iniquity of London reek and stink in the nostrils of Almighty God and yet we gather in a little quietplace by ourselves and we use the rose water of self-complacency and think that everything goes well. The devil is swallowingmen wholesale! Hell enlarges herself! The Christian Church scarcely makes any progress at all-certainly no progress at allcomparable to the advance of the population. Souls are not saved! Error is rampant! On all sides there are signs of greatdegeneration and if Christians do not arouse themselves now, we might almost say to them, "Awake, arise, or be forever fallen."
If you could but stand by one deathbed where a soul is taking its leap in the dark. If for once in your lives you could hearthe cries of a spirit as it enters into the thick darkness which is to be its everlasting abode. If you could but have paintedbefore your eyes in truth the last tremendous day and the multitudes on the left hand! If you could but gaze for a momentat the Heaven which your own children, I fear, may miss through your indifference. Or if you could but look but for a secondupon that Hell to which multitudes of your neighbors are descending every day, surely you would be down on your knees saying,"Forgive me, great God, for all my past neglect and from this hour cleanse me from the blood of souls by the blood of Jesusand help me to be instant in season and out of season in instructing my fellow men. Never from this day until I die may Ineglect an opportunity of telling men how they may be saved."
Ah, dear Friends, I had hoped to have spoken to you most earnestly, but I fear I have been to you, myself, only a model ofthat coldness which I have condemned. Woe is me that I, too, should be guilty! I chide the evil far more in myself than inyou and pray to be saved from it. May we all, as pastors, deacons, elders, members, Sunday school teachers and workers ofall sorts, be, indeed, from this good hour much more with God in prayer and much more zealous in our labors, that it may neverhave to be laid to our charge, again, that while we were not slothful in business we were unfervent in spirit and were notserving the Lord. God bless you. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Romans 12.