Sermon 937. The Profit Of Godliness In This Life
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 19, 1870,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, andof that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation." 1 Timothy 4:8,9.
YOUR attention will be the more readily given to this passage, because Paul declares it to be a "faithful"-a most true andcertain saying-and "worthy of all acceptation," that is to say, worthy to be received and practiced by us all. Paul has fourof these faithful sayings. The first, occurs in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." The secondis our text. The third is in 2 Timothy 2:12, "It is a faithful saying, if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." And the fourth is in Titus 3:8, "This is a faithful saying, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."
We may trace a connection between these faithful sayings. The first one lays the foundation of our eternal salvation in thefree Grace of God, as shown to us in the mission of the great Redeemer. The next affirms the double blessedness which we obtainthrough this salvation-the blessings of the upper and nether springs of time and of eternity. The third shows one of the dutiesto which the chosen people are called-we are ordained to suffer for Christ with the promise that "if we suffer, we shall alsoreign with Him." The last sets forth the active form of Christian service, bidding us diligently to maintain good works. Thuswe have the root of salvation in free Grace.
Next, we have the privileges of that salvation in the life which now is, and in that which is to come. And we have also thetwo great branches of suffering with Christ and serving with Christ, loaded with the fruits of the Spirit. Let us treasureup these faithful sayings. Let them be the guides of our life, our comfort, and our instruction. The Apostle of the Gentilesproved them to be faithful. They are faithful still, not one word shall fall to the ground. They are worthy of all acceptation,let us accept them now and prove their faithfulness. Let these four faithful sayings be written on the four corners of yourhouse.
Today we consider the second of the four, and we will read the text again, "Bodily exercise profits little: but godlinessis profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." In the days when Paulwrote this Epistle, the Greeks and others paid great attention to physical culture, the development of the muscles, the proportionof the limbs, the production of everything in the body which might conduce to the soundness of manhood. The philosophy ofGreece all looked that way, and therefore at the various gymnasia bodily exercises of an athletic and even violent kind wereundergone by men with the view of developing the body, and so assisting the soul.
It may be that Timothy, being yet a young man, fancied that there was something in this philosophy. And something, indeed,there is. In the original the Apostle Paul admits that it is so, for the passage might be read thus-"Bodily exercise verilyprofits a little," or thus, "Bodily exercise profits for a short time." Physical training is of some service- attention toit is not sinful nor to be condemned. It is of some use and has its proper place, but still it has no very eminent positionin the Christian system. It occupies a place far in the background in the teaching of Christ and His Apostles. It is but aminor part of a complete education. It profits a little, a little, for a little time.
But godliness, the worship of God, the fear of God, has a long and wealthy entail of blessing, having the promise both ofthe life that now is and of that which is to come. Its profiting is not little but great. Its benefit is not confined to thebody, but is shared by the body and the soul. It is not limited by this mortal life, but overleaps the grave and brings itslargest revenue of profit in the world where graves are all unknown.
This morning I am about to try and speak upon the profit of godliness to a man in this life. We will consider its having thepromise of the life to come, in the evening, if God spares us.
With regard to this life, let it be remarked that the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ neither undervalues nor overvaluesthis present life. It does not sneer at this life as though it were nothing. On the contrary, it ennobles it, and shows therelation which it has to the higher and eternal life. It does not overvalue it by making this life, and the secular pursuitsof it, the main object of any man. It puts it into an honorable but yet a secondary place, and says to the sons of men, "Seekyou first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you."
It is not, however, very easy to keep to the middle point of exact truth as to a due estimate of this present life-he whodoes so is taught of God. There are many who undervalue this life-let me mention some of them to you. Those undervalue itwho sacrifice it to indulge their passions, or to gratify their appetites. Too many, for the sake of momentary gratifications,have shortened their lives and rendered their latter end bitterly painful to themselves. They conceived that the pleasuresof the flesh were better than life. They were mistaken in their estimate. They made but a poor exchange when they chose lustand death, rather than purity and life.
The drunkard has been known to take his cups, though he knew that in so doing he was virtually poisoning himself. The manof hot passions has been seen to plunge into uncleanness, though the consequences of his folly have been plainly set beforehim. Men who for a morsel of meat, or a flash of merriment, are selling this world as well as the world to come, are fools,indeed. He that would have pleasure must not pursue it too furiously. Temperance is the rule here- moderation and the use,not excess and the abuse-will secure to us the pleasure even of this mortal life. Value not, I pray you, the transient joyswhich the animal appetites can bring to you. At least value them not so much as to shorten life for their sakes.
Some evidently undervalue their lives because they make them wretched through envy. Others are richer than they are, and theythink it a miserable thing to be alive at all while others possess more of this world's goods than they. They walk, they say,and toil while yonder person, who has no more deserts than they, is riding in his chariot. So, indeed, they count the chariotthe main thing and not the life, and they will not enjoy their life because they cannot have a certain coveted addition whichanother possesses.
Haman is not grateful for all the mercies of life while unbending Mordecai sits in the king's gate. He counts his honey tobe bitterness because he cannot lord it at his will. God gets no thanks at all from the man for the innumerable mercies whichhe has. These are nothing. He pines for some particular supposed mercy which he has not. He considers that the fact of hisbeing alive, and being favored of God in many respects, is nothing at all to be considered, because he has not all that bigavarice might wish for. O poison not life by the envy of others, for if you do so, you miserably undervalue it!
The slaves of avarice undervalue their lives, for they do not care to make life happy, but pinch themselves in order to accumulatewealth. The miser who starves himself in order that he may fill his bags may well be reasoned with in this way-"Is not thelife more than the meat, and the body than raiment? Skin for skin, yes, all that other men have will they give for their lives.But you give your life for this wealth, this glittering dust. You are willing to forego all the enjoyments that this lifemight afford you, that you may have a heap to leave to your uncertain heirs, who will probably squander it, and certainlyforget the hands that scraped the hoard together."
Why should I throw away myself for the sake of dying rich? Is it true success in life to have enjoyed nothing, to have poisonedall my existence merely that the world might be informed in a corner of the Illustrated News that I died worth so many thousandsof pounds? This is to undervalue life, indeed.
So, also, do they undervalue it who in foolhardiness are ready to throw it away on the slightest pretext. He that for hiscountry's sake, or for the love of his fellow creature, risks life and loses it, truly deserves to be called a hero. But he,who, to provoke laughter and to win the applause of fools, will venture limb and life without need is but a fool himself,and deserves no praise whatever. He undervalues life who will display an art which endangers it, or who will run the riskof it for anything whatever short of the laudable motive of preserving liberty to his country, or life to his fellow men.
Holy Scripture never teaches us to undervalue our own lives. He that said, "You shall not kill," meant that we were not tokill ourselves any more than others. We ought to seek by all we can do in the surroundings of our habitations, by our cleanliness,by carefully observing sanitary laws, by never encouraging dangerous exhibitions, and by every other means to show our careof the life that now is, for it is a precious thing.
Yet, my Brethren, there can be such a thing as overvaluing this life, and multitudes have fallen into that error. Those overvalueit who prefer it to eternal life. Why, it is but as a drop compared with the ocean, if you measure time with eternity. Seventyor eighty years of dwelling here below-what are they when compared with infinite ages of existence in the Presence of theMost High? I reckon that this present life is not worthy to be compared with the Glory that shall be revealed in us.
When men in fearful moments have denied the faith for the sake of saving their lives, they have overvalued this life. Whento preserve themselves from the sword, or the fire, or the tortures of the rack, they have denied the name of Jesus, theyhave made a mistake and exchanged gold for dross. Alas, how many of us, in like condition, might have fallen into the sameerror? They overvalue this life who consider it to be a better thing than Divine love, for the love of God is better thanlife-His loving kindness is better than life itself.
Some would give anything for their lives, but they would give nothing for God's love. If their lives were in danger, theywould hasten to the physician, but though they enjoy not the love of God they yet sit at ease, and seek not the pricelessbenefit. They who feel aright think it a cheap thing to die, but an awful thing to live apart from God. They recognize thatlife would be but death unless God were with us, and that death itself is but the vestibule of life while God is our joy andour strength! Let us never set the present life before Divine love, and never let it be compared even for a moment with thepursuit of God's Glory.
Every Christian man is to feel that he is to take care of his life in comparison with any earthly glory. But if it comes toa choice between God's Glory and his life, he is to have no timorous hesitation in the matter, but at once sacrifice his lifefreely at his Lord's altar. This has been ever the spirit of true Christians. They have never been anxious to die, nor havethey been fearful concerning the loss of life. They have not thrown away their lives-they have known their value too well-butthey have not withheld their lives for Christ's sake. They have esteemed Him to be better than life itself. So you see theScripture teaches us that there is a proper middle course in estimating this present life, and if we follow its instructions,we shall neither undervalue nor overvalue it.
It appears from the text, that godliness influences this present life, puts it in its true position, and becomes profitableto it.
I. First, let me observe that GODLINESS CHANGES THE TENURE OF THE LIFE THAT NOW IS. It has "the promise of the life that nowis." I want you to mark the words-"it has the promise of the life that now is." An ungodly man lives, but how? He lives ina very different respect from a godly man. Sit down in the cell of Newgate with a man condemned to die. That man lives, buthe is reckoned dead in Law. He has been condemned. If he is now enjoying a reprieve, yet he holds his life at another's pleasure,and soon he must surrender it to the demands ofjustice. I, sitting by the side of him, breathing the same air, and enjoyingwhat in many respects is only the same life, yet live in a totally different sense. I have not forfeited my life to the Law.I enjoy it as far as the Law is concerned, as my own proper right-the Law protects my life, though it will destroy his. Theungodly man is condemned already, condemned to die, for the wages of sin is death. And his whole life here is nothing buta reprieve granted by the longsuffering of God.
But a Christian man is pardoned and absolved. He owes not his life now to penal justice. When death comes to him it will notbe at all in the sense of an infliction of a punishment. It will not be death, it will be the transfer of his spirit to abetter state, the slumbering of his body for a little while in its proper couch to be awakened in a nobler likeness by thetrump of the archangel. Now, is not life itself changed when held on so different a tenure? To live because I am now protectedby the Law-is not that better than to be living at the sufferance of the Law?
To live the life of an absolved man, of a free man, the life of God's own child even in this present life-is not that a differentthing from living the life of one to whom each hour measures out a nearer approach to the capital sentence, and to the executionof well-deserved punishment? The first is a life of pleasure-the second, disguise it as you may, is death in life, a lifeovershadowed with the darkness of eternal wrath.
"Godliness has the promise of the life that now is." That word changes the tenure of our present life in this respect, thatit removes in a sense the uncertainty of it. God has given to none of you unconverted ones any promise of the life that nowis. You are like squatters on a common who pitch their tents, and by the sufferance of the lord of the manor may remain therefor awhile. But at a moment's notice you must up tents and away.
But the Christian has the promise of the life that now is. That is to say, he has the freehold of it. It is life given tohim of God, and he really enjoys it. He has an absolute certainty about it. In fact, the life that now is has become to theChristian a foretaste of the life to come. Do you say that it is uncertain to the Christian whether he shall die or live?I grant you in one sense his remaining here is uncertain. Yet this is certain to him-he shall never die until it is best forhim to die. He shall never depart this life till he is ripe for the life to come-he shall never, in fact, be removed fromhis present tabernacle till he himself, if he knew all, would be perfectly willing to be removed.
Willing! Yes, far more! Overjoyed that his tabernacle should be dissolved that he might enter into his "House not made withhands, eternal in the heavens." The tenure is very different between the uncertainty of the ungodly who has no rights andno legal titles, and the blessed certainty of the child of God who lives by promise.
Let me add that this word seems to me to sweeten the whole of human life to the man that has it. Godliness has the promiseof life that now is-that is to say, everything that comes to a godly man comes to him by promise. Whereas if the ungodly manhas any blessing apparent, it does not come by promise, it comes overshadowed by a terrible guilt which curses his very blessingsand makes the responsibilities of his wealth and of his health and position redound to his own destruction. It works as asavor of death unto death through his willful disobedience.
Everything that comes to the Christian comes by promise. He sees his daily bread, and he says, "It has my Father's mark onit. He said my bread should be given me. Here comes the water from the crystal stream, it is flavored with the love of God.He said my water shall be sure." He puts on his raiment, and it may not be so comely as the dress of others, but be says,"This is the livery my Father promised me." He sleeps, and it is beneath the canopy of Divine protection. He wakes and hewalks abroad with angels, according to the promise, bearing him up in their hands.
Afflictions come to him by promise, the broad arrow of the great King is set on each one of them, for was it not said of old,"In the world you shall have tribulation, but in Me you shall have peace"? He can see everywhere the trace of Divine faithfulnessin the keeping of the Covenant promise. He lives not the life of Ishmael, who by-and-by may be banished to the wildernesswith the bondwoman, his mother. No, he lives the life of Isaac, the child of the promise, who is before long to inherit allthings, and who even now is the darling child of his father, and rejoices in his father's love.
There is a vast difference between having the life that now is, and having the promise of the life that now is-having God'spromise about it to make it all gracious, to make it all certain, and to make it all blessed as a token of love from
II. It is time that we pass on to THE BENEFIT WHICH GODLINESS BESTOWS IN THIS LIFE. Perhaps the fullness of the text is thefact that the flower of life, the crown of life, the highest blessedness and bliss of life, is secured to us by godliness.I have no doubt you have often heard interpretations of this text, very excellent-and it is not for me to judge or censurethem-which lead to the belief that the way to make the best of both worlds is to be a Christian.
I also subscribe to that, but I must demur to the way in which it is generally put. There is an excellent sermon by that notableDivine, Saurin, in which he urges this text as a proof that the best hope of success in the world is enjoyed by the Christian.I demur to that being the teaching of this text. There may be some truth in it, but I do not think it is much to be insistedon. It has been said that he who fears God has the best guarantee of health. It is true, there is nothing in godliness todestroy the health of the body. The true Christian is preserved from many of those passions, and excitements, and indulgences,which tend to produce disease and to bring on early death.
That much is true, but I do not believe that godliness inevitably ensures good health. I believe, rather, that some godlymen absolutely require for the highest perfection of their godliness, that they should be visited with sickness. It seemsto me to be a very strange theory, to teach that godliness guarantees health, for it would lead to the supposition that allpeople who are unhealthy must necessarily be or have been deficient in godliness. And this is all the more untenable whenwe observe that some of the best people we have ever met have been those who have for years been bedridden by affliction whichthey certainly never brought upon themselves by any kind of sin.
I would say to every young man, there is nothing in the pursuit of godliness that can injure your health, but I would notsay to him, "If you are godly you have the promise of being a healthy man," for I do not believe it, since unhealthi-nessmay come from a thousand other sources besides impropriety of conduct. I will go farther, and affirm that godliness, whencarried to its highest and most honorable degree of excellence, might sometimes render it necessary for a man to
place himself where he would of necessity become unhealthy. I know that it was the highest godliness which made our missionariesfix their abodes among the fever marshes of Fernando Po and Old Calabar to preach the Gospel.
When I heard from one of our missionaries, as I did personally, that he had at last become so acclimatized that he did nothave the fever oftener than about two days out of three, I could not think that godliness in his case necessarily involvedhealth. But I gathered that it might so happen that an eminently godly man might feel it necessary to go where he might say,"Farewell, Health, you are not, after all, the promise of the life that now is. I can bear to suffer, I can bear to creepabout this world sick and ready to die if I may but have what is better than health-the luxury of winning souls for Christ-thehonor and joy of instructing the ignorant in the faith of the crucified Redeemer."
It were wicked to think that a man has less of godliness who sacrifices his health for Christ's sake. He certainly would notbe the man to miss the promise, and yet if health were such a promise he would evidently have missed it.
Again, we have heard it argued that the godly man has the best prospect of wealth in this world. Now I will also grant thatas godliness delivers us from a multitude of expenses into which riot and dissipation would lead us, and as godliness createshabits of sobriety and economy, as godliness begets honesty, and honesty is even in a worldly sense the best policy, thereare some reasons why Christian traders should grow rich, and godly men have much in their favor.
But I also cannot help recognizing that while trade is as it is, there are many things which a Christian man cannot do, anddare not do, which some have done, and are to this day rich for having done them-dirty acts, mean, low, and groveling-whichhave brought wealth to the creatures who have practiced them. And yet more-I have known the best of Christians, and men, too,whose outward conduct has been fully conformable to their profession-who have lived and died poor. Now, if wealth is the promiseof the life that now is, I venture to say that godliness does not infallibly or even generally secure it. The God-fearingman may have as fair an opportunity as any other in the race of life, but all things considered, this is all we can say. Itmay be that the godly man may be a poor man, and from a dozen circumstances not connected with his religion or his morals,may live and may die poor in this world, but rich in faith.
It has also been said that godliness has the promise of the life that now is, in the sense that a Christian man is the mostlikely to have a good name, fame, and reputation among his fellow men. That also is true in a measure. In well-regulated society,the believer in Christ, through the holiness of his character, will be had in esteem, and even among the worst of men theexcellence of his conduct will command a measure of respect. But for all that, I do not believe that repute among men is thepromise of the life that now is-for what is it after all? Good repute among men, if it is deserved, I shall not decry. Butif by any chance slander should come and take away the good man's name-and it has often done so-shall I say pity the calumniatedsaint as one who has lost the promise of the life that now is?
I dare not think it! Far rather would I bid him rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for so persecuted they the Prophetsthat were before him. And who is the most likely person to be slandered? Is it not the man who is most consistent with hisprofession, and most zealous in the spread of the faith? The Apostle Paul certainly never accounted riches to be the promiseof the life that now is, for he had nothing. He had learned to be poor, and to labor with his hands. He certainly never reckonedhealth to be the promise of the life that now is, for he was in such circumstances of peril by land and sea, and among falsebrethren, that his life was in jeopardy for the Gospel. And as to a good name, he never regarded that as the promise of thelife that now is, for he was willingly accounted as the offscouring of all things-some thought him mad, others thought himbase, his repute with the multitude was gone.
I will repeat what I have said, lest I be misunderstood. Under ordinary circumstances it is true that godliness wears a propitiousface both towards health, and wealth, and name-and he who has respect to these things, shall not find himself, as a rule,injured in the pursuit of them by his godliness. But still I disdain altogether the idea that all these three things togetherare, or even make up a part of the promise of the life that now is. I believe some persons have the life that now is in itsfullness, and the promise of it in its richest fulfillment, who have neither wealth, health, nor fame. Being blessed withthe suffering Master's smile and Presence, they are happier far than those who roll in wealth, who luxuriate in fame, andhave all the rich blessings which health includes.
Let me now show you what I think is the promise of the life that now is. I believe it to be an inward happiness, which isaltogether independent of outward circumstances. It is something richer than wealth, fairer than health, and more substantialthan fame. This secret of the Lord, this deep delight, this calm repose, godliness always brings in proportion as it reignsin the heart.
Let us try and show that this is so. A godly man, my Brethren, is one who is at one with his Maker. It must always be rightwith the creature when it is at one with the Creator. The Creator is Omnipotent, All-Just, All-Holy. When the creature isout of gear with the Creator it will always be dashing itself against the pricks, and wounding itself. As the Creator willnot change, if the creature runs not parallel to the Divine will, the creature must suffer, must be unhappy, must be restless.But when godliness puts our will into conformity with the Divine will, the more fully it does so, the more certainly it securesto us happiness even in the life that now is.
I am not happy necessarily because I am in good health, but I am happy if I am content to be out of health when God willsit. I am not happy because I am wealthy, but I am happy if it pleases me to be poor because it pleases God I should be. Iam not happy because I happen to be famous, but I am happy if, being all unknown, I count it my highest fame to be acceptedin the Beloved. A heart reconciled to the Divine will has full possession of the promise of the life that now is, for suchpeace with God is perfect happiness where it perfectly exists-conformity to God's will is Heaven below. I pray that godlinessmay work in all of you a conformity to the Divine will, and then I am sure, whatever your outward lot may be, you will winthe promise of the life that now is.
The Christian man starting in life as such is best fitted for this life. He is like a vessel fittingly stored for all thestorms and contrary currents that may await it. The Christian is like a soldier who must gladly go to battle, but he is protectedby the best armor that can be procured. He wears the helmet and the breastplate. He wears the entire Divine panoply whichheavenly wisdom has prepared to protect him from every dart of his adversaries. He has the promise of the life that alreadyis, just as the man with a good sword and good armor has the best promise of success in battle.
O that God may grant us Grace to know and feel that the best instruments and weapons of the warfare of this life are to befound in the arsenals of holiness, in the armories of confidence in God! In this sense we have again the promise of the lifethat now is. With a Christian all things that happen to him work for good. Is not this a rich part of the promise of the lifethat now is? What if the waves roar against him-they speed his boat towards the haven! What if the thunders and lightningcome forth? They clear the atmosphere and promote his soul's health.
He gains by his losses, he grows healthy by his sicknesses, he lives by dying, he is enriched by being despoiled of his goods.Do you ask for any better promise than this? Is it not better that all things should work for my good, than that all thingsshould be as I would wish to have them? They might all work my pleasure, and yet might all work my ruin. But now if they donot always please me-yet if they always benefit me-is not this the best promise of the life that now is?
The Christian enjoys his God under all circumstances. That, again, is the promise of the life that now is. I spoke of hisbeing reconciled to God-he is much more than that-he delights himself in his God. He finds God in Nature. The landscape glowsfor him with a more Divine color than any other eye can see. As for the heavens, with their starry glories, there is a lightin them which has not yet been beheld by the natural man. He sees God in his solitude, and peoples his loneliness with thespirits that are akin with the Most High. He is, wherever he may be, never debarred from the society he loves best. A wishwill find his God, a tear will bring him his best Beloved.
He has but to sigh and cry when on the bed of sickness, and God comes and makes his bed for him. Blessed man, he has, indeed,the promise of the life that now is, for in it all, and over it all, he sees the Divine love shining for him with a supernalsplendor and making earth but the porch of Heaven. This is to have the life that now is in the fullness of the promise. Iam sure you will agree with me that the genuine possessor of godliness has the promise of the life that now is in his freedomfrom many of those cares and fears which rob life of all its luster.
The man without godliness is weighted with the care of every day, and of all the days that are to come-the dread remembranceof the past, and the terror of the future as well. The godly man knows that all the past is forgiven, his transgressions areblotted out. As for the present, he casts that burden on the Lord. As for the future, he would not pry into it with anxiouseye, but he leaves God to rule and govern as He wills. He sits down, calmly content that his Father's will is right and goodtowards him. And as he is thus free from care, so is he free from the fear of men.
Ungodly men, many of them, are servile to their fellow men. It is to them a most important question whether they are smiledupon or frowned at by their fellow worms. The godly man has learned to lift his head above the common race of mankind, andwhen he lives as he should, he neither thinks a thing the better because men praise it, nor the worse because they censureit. His rule is not popular opinion, nor the dictates of the philosophy of the hour. He believes what
God tells him to be true, and what God prescribes he knows to be right. And he does this careless of man's judgment, for nonecan judge him but his Master.
That man has the promise of the life that now is who is in full enjoyment of the sweets of a clear conscience. He can affordto snap his fingers in the face of all mankind and declare that if the heavens themselves should fall, he would do the right,and dare all things for God. Oh, to have the yoke of human judgment from off your neck, and the bondage of man's domineeringopinion from off your spirit! This is to receive the promise of the life that now is.
Moreover, the fear of death has gone from the Christian. This with many deprives the life that now is of everything that ishappy and consoling. They are afraid in their merriest moments that the skeleton will disturb the feast. And when the danceis merriest, they think they hear the sound of the trumpet that will silence all. But the Christian is not afraid. To himthe prospect of departure is rather joyous than grievous, and the breaking up of this mortal state is an event he looks foras the clearing away of multitudes of sorrows and the bringing in of mighty joys.
Brothers and Sisters, to be free from the fear of death is to make life truly life-and he has it who leans wholly upon Christ-andknows that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Put these things together-peacefulness with his fellow men, peace withGod, a sense that all things are working for his good, fearlessness of man's judgment, communion with the Most High-and surelyyou have described in a few words the very flower of life-the thing that makes it worth while to live.
This does not lie, as I have said before, in accumulated treasure. It does not blush in the rosy cheek. It does not dwellin the trump of fame. It resides within, when the man walks with God and subdues the earth beneath his feet. When the soulcommunes with the spiritual, and makes the visible to glow in the light of the unseen. When the man's peace and joy all streamfrom the deep springs of God's love, and the man lives in God, and God lives in him. Herein lies the highest kind of life-itis the flower of the life that now is-and GODLINESS it is that has the promise of it.
I must not detain you longer, except to make an application of the subject to the present assembly. Brothers and Sisters,you who have godliness, and live in the fear of God, let me entreat you to believe that there is provided for you in godliness,comfort, joy, and delight for the life that now is. You need not postpone your feasting upon Christ till you see Him faceto face. Feed on Him this day. You need not wait for the joys of the Holy Spirit till you have shaken off this cumbrous clay.The joy of the Lord is your strength today. You need not think that your peace and rest remain as yet in the future, hiddenfrom you. Eternal life with its blessings is a present possession.
They that believe do enter into rest, and may enter into rest now. The clusters of Eshcol are before you, brought to you bya Divine hand before you cross the Jordan-
"The men of Grace ha ve found Glory begun below, Celestial fruits on earthly ground From faith and hope do grow."
We do not say that godliness has made all Believers rich, for some here will be content always to be poor. The whole bodyof the faithful cannot claim that godliness has brought them earthly treasure, for some of the greatest of them have writtenthat if in this life only they had hope, they would have been of all men the most miserable. But without exception, the wholeof us can unanimously declare that we have found in godliness the highest happiness, the supreme delight, the richest consolation.
I pray you, therefore, who profess godliness, be not content unless you have the promise of the life that now is. Believethat you can not only make this life sublime, but make it joyous. Believe that you can now be raised up together and madeto sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. You cannot find a Heaven in things below, for the moth is there, andthe rust that corrupts. But you can, while here, if you set your affections upon things above, and not on things on the earth,find Glory begun within you, and a young Heaven already shining about your path. The life that now is- claim it! Up, you sonsof Israel, and slay the Amalekites that would take away from you your comfort! Arise, you men that fear the Lord, and demandthat doubts and fears, like the accursed Canaanites, shall be chased from the land. For the promise of God ought to be believed,and in the believing of it, your peace shall be like a river, and your joy shall overflow.
Another application of the text is this. There is a bearing of it upon the sinner. It is quite certain, O ungodly man, thatthe promise of the life that now is belongs only to those who are godly. Are you content to miss the cream of this
life? I pray you, if you will not think of the life to come, at least think of this. You desire to be happy. You have intelligenceenough to know that happiness does not consist in externals, but in the state of your mind. I assure you, and there are thousandsof my Brethren who can affirm the same, that after having tried the ways of sin, we infinitely prefer the ways of righteousnessfor their own pleasure's sake even here, and we would not change with ungodly men even if we had to die like dogs.
With all the sorrow and care which Christian life is supposed to bring, we would prefer it to any other form of life beneaththe stars. There is no man like the Christian, after all. Happy are you, O Israel, a people saved of the Lord! We do not cometo you and tell you that godliness will make you rich, although there is no need that it should make you poor. We do not tellyou it will make you healthy. It certainly will not make you the reverse. But these are not the things with which we wouldbribe you-these are inferior blessings, which we dare not set before you as worthy of your seeking after in the first instance.
But we do tell you that if you will but seek the Lord while He may be found, and put your trust in His Christ, who came toput away sin, you shall have the happiest, best, noble, most desirable life that can be enjoyed on earth! Now many of youbelieve this. I know you do. In your hearts you envy Christians-even poor Christians. You feel that you would gladly be assick or as poor as yonder pious saint, if you might have his hope, if you might have his God. Well, if you know which is best,have which is best. "May I have it?" says one. Who said you might not? Does not the Lord invite you to taste and see thatHe is good?
Has not He even commanded you, and are not these His Words, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved"? Simplyto trust, and to rely-this is to begin the Divine life, and this will introduce you into a nobler sphere than mortals knowof. They rejoice when corn and wine fill their barns and their vats, but you will say, "Lord, lift up the light of Your countenanceupon me," and in that you will find a richer joy than they. "Seek you the Lord while He may be found, call you upon Him whileHe is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and Hewill have mercy upon him. And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." God bless you, for Christ's sake.
[Sermon #946, The Profit of Godliness in the Life to Come, is the sermon Brother Spurgeon preached in the evening of June19, 1870, and is the companion sermon to this one.]