Sermon 980. Hidden Manna
Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, March 12th, 1871, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called bythy name, O Lord God of hosts,"-Jeremiah 15:16.
Jeremiah was a man of exceedingly sensitive temperament; the very reverse of Elijah. Yet he was sent of God to execute a dutywhich apparently required a person of great sternness and slender sensibility. It was his unhappy duty to denounce the judgmentsof God upon a people whom he dearly loved, but whom it was impossible to save; for even his deep anguish of heart and meltingpathos were powerless with them, and rather excited their ridicule than their attention. Eitherthey did not believe that he was sent of God at all, or else they neither cared for Jehovah nor for his prophet. Naturallymild and retiring, his strong sense of allegiance to God and love to Israel made him bear a fearless testimony for the truth;but the reproaches, insults, and threats, which were heaped upon him, sorely wounded his soul; and even deeper was his anguish,because he well knew that his rejected warnings were terribly true. He carried before his mind's eye at all times thepicture of Jerusalem captured by her foes, and her wretched sons and daughters given up to the sword. There is no linein the whole of his prophecy more characteristic of him than that exclamation, "O that my head were waters, and mine eyesa fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."
He was eminently the man that had seen affliction, and yet in the midst of a wilderness of woe he discovered fountains ofjoy. Like that Blessed One, who was "the man of sorrows" and the acquaintance of grief, he sometimes rejoiced in spirit andblessed the name of the Lord. It will be both interesting and profitable to note the root of the joy which grew up in Jeremiah'sheart, like a lone palm tree in the desert. Here was its substance. It was an intense delight to himto have been chosen to the prophetic office; and when the words of God came to him, he fed upon them as dainty food. Theywere often very bitter in themselves, for they mainly consisted of denunciations, yet being God's words, such was the prophet'slove to his God, that he ate every syllable, bitter or not. This also was evermore a consolation to him-that he was knownby the people to be a prophet of Jehovah. This distinction, whatever persecution it brought upon him, was his joy "I amcalled by thy name." God's word received, God's name named upon him, and God's work entrusted to him, these were starswhich cheered the midnight of his grief. However hard his lot might be, and none seem to have fallen upon worse times, therewere secret sweetnesses of which none could deprive him. When he was "filled with bitterness, and drunken with wormwood,"he still drank of that ever-flowing river, the streams whereof make glad the city of our God. The basis of faith's joy liesdeeperthan the water-floods of affliction; no torrents of misery can remove the firm foundations of our peace.
May our hearts be so moulded by divine grace that the words of the weeping prophet in this verse may be proper language forus to use. Especially do I speak to those who during the last few weeks have found a Savior; my prayer and cry to God foryou, beloved friends, is that you may say sincerely, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me thejoy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts."
I. In considering these words, we shall begin by dwelling upon A MEMORABLE DISCOVERY-"Thy words were found." As Jeremiah meant them, they signified this: that certain messages came to him most clearly from God, and he recognised themas such; he ascertained how far the thoughts which passed through his mind were originated by the Spirit of God, and how farthey were merely his own imaginings; he separated between the precious and the vile, and when he hadfound, discovered, and discerned God's word, then it was that he fed upon it.
But the words, as we may use them, may signify something more. Beloved, it is a great thing to find God's word, and discernit for ourselves. Many have heard it for years and yet have never found it. I may say of them as of the heathen gods, "Eyes have they, but they see not: ears have they, but they hear not." Contentwith the outward letter of the Scriptures, the inner meaning is hid from their eyes. O that they had known the life-givingtruth! O that they hadfound the "treasure hid in the field!" The word of God to them might as well be the word of King James the First, whosename dishonors our authorised version, for they have never felt that its truths proceed immediately from the throne of God,and bear the sign-manual of the King of kings. Hence they have never felt the weight of authority with which its authorshipimpresses holy writ. What is meant by finding God's words! The expression suggests the mode. A thing found has usually beensought for. Happy is that man who reads the Scriptures and hears the word-searching all the while for the hidden spiritual sense, whichis indeed the voice of God. The letter of the truth contains a kernel, which is the inner life of it. Like some tropical fruits,which are very large, but in which the actual life-germ is a comparatively small thing, so within the sacred volume are manywords and books, but the living secret may be summed up in a few syllables. The mystery which washid from ages, is a secret something which flesh and blood cannot reveal unto us. "Understandest thou what thou readest?"is a vital and heartsearching question, meaning more than appears at once. The chosen of God dig into the mines of revelation,believing that "Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it;" therefore they give theirhearts to meditation, and cry mightily unto God to reveal himself unto them. Such seekers winnow sermons as the husbandmanwinnows his corn; they care little for the chaff of fair speeches; they desire only the fine wheat of the Lord's own truth.Solomon tells us the method of finding the true wisdom, in that cheering word at the commencement of the second chapter ofthe Proverbs, "My son, if thou wilt incline thine ear to wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criestafter knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searches for her as for hidtreasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." Though occasionally the Lordin his infinite sovereignty has been pleased to reveal his salvation to those who sought it not, according to his own word,"I am found of them that sought me not," yet there is no promise to this effect; the promise is to those who seek.
To find God's words, means that we have been made to understand them. A man may be well versed in Scripture, both in the English and in the original tongue; he may be accustomed to read the bestof commentaries, and be acquainted with Eastern manners, and yet he may be quite ignorant as to the word of God. For the understandingof this Book, as to its depth of meaning, does not lie within the range of natural learning and human research; reason aloneis blinded bythe excess of light, and wanders in darkness at noon day; for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spiritof God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Before my conversionI was accustomed to read the Scriptures, to admire their grandeur, to feel the charm of their history, and wonder at the majestyof their language; but I altogether missed the Lord's intent therein; but when the Spirit came with his divine life, andquickened all the page to my newly-enlightened soul, the inner meaning-shone forth with quickening glory. The Bible isto many carnal minds almost as dull a book for reading as an untranslated Latin work would be to an ignorant ploughman, becausethey cannot get at the internal sense, which is to the words as juice to the grape, or the kernel to the nut. It is a tantalisingriddle till you get the key; but the clue once found, the volume of our Father's grace absorbs our attention, delights ourintellect, and enriches our heart.
To find the word of God means not only to understand it, but to appropriate it as belonging to yourself. To read a will is not an interesting occupation-repetitions, legal phrases, tautologies multiplied to utter weariness; butif there be a legacy left to you in that will, no writing will be more fascinating; you will trip lightly over the lawyer'sfences and five-barred gates, and rejoice as one that findeth spoil when you reach those clauses which leave certain"messages, tenements, and hereditaments" to yourself and heirs. In such a case every repetition becomes musical, and technicalphrases sound harmoniously. After this manner we learn to enjoy the word of God by discovering that we have a part and lotin it. When we perceive that the Lord is calling us and blessing us, then have we found his word. When the divine promise assures us personally that our sin is forgiven, that our spirit is clothedin the righteousness of Christ, thatheaven is for us, that we are accepted in the Beloved, then the word is found indeed. I will ask each hearer here, whetherin this respect he has found God's word. Have you an ear to hear gospel truth as the voice of the Infinite God addressed toyour own soul? The Dutch farmers at the Cape, at no very distant period, considered the hottentots around them to be littlebetter than beasts, quite incapable of anything beyond mere eating, drinking, stealing, and lying. After our missionarieshadlabored among the natives for a time, one of them was found reading the Bible by the roadside. The Dutchman enquired ofhim, "What book are you reading?"-"The Bible." "The Bible! Why that book was never intended for you."-"Indeed it was," said the black man, "for I see my name here." "Your name: Where?" cried the farmer. "Show it to me."-"There,"said the Hottentot, putting his finger on the word "sinners." "That's my name; I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came to save me."It were well indeed if men would but read the Bible, saying, "In this volume the great God condescends to speak to me,and bids me come and reason with him that my scarlet sins may become white; therein he appeals to my weakness that he mayremove it, to my wilfulness that he may subdue it, to my distance from him that he may bring me near!" Happy is that man whohears or reads the word of God for himself, feeling evermore a living power witnessing within his soul, and operating mightilyuponhim. Unapplied truth is useless. Unappropriated truth may condemn but cannot save. The word of God to an unregenerateheart is like a trumpet at the ear of a corpse: the sound is lost. Beloved, I pray that you may discern the truth, and thenmay grasp it as your own. May your interest and title to the promises be clearly made out, so that not presumptuously, butwith the full approbation of your conscience, you may know yourself to be beloved of the Lord.
"Thy word was found." Yes, indeed, it has been found by many of us, and a blessed find it was! Recollect, my brethren, thetime when you first found God's word. Recall the period of your conversion; let the remembrance kindle in you anew the flameof gratitude. Magnify the divine grace which revealed the heavenly word to you. What a removal of darkness, and bursting inof glory you then felt! It was a discovery far more memorable than the finding of a new continent byColumbus, or the discovery of gold mines in the southern continent-you found eternal life in God's word. May you who havenever found the life-giving word, be led to desire it. We pray for you, that the Lord may open your eyes to see wondrous things in hislaw.
II. Secondly, our text testifies to AN EAGER RECEPTION. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them."
It is not "I did hear them," for that he might have done, and yet have perished. Herod heard John gladly, and yet became hismurderer. He does not say, "I did learn them by heart"-hundreds have committed chapters to memory, and were rather weariedthan benefited thereby. The Scribes fought over the jots and titles of the law, but were blind leaders of the blind not withstanding.It is not "Thy words were found, and I did repeat them," for that he might have done as aparrot repeats language it is taught: nor is it even, "Thy words were found, and I remembered them;" for though its anexcellent thing to store truth in the memory, yet the blessed effect of the divine words comes rather to those who ponderthem in their hearts. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them." What is meant by eating God's words? The phrase signifies more than any other word could express. It implies an eager study-"I did eat them." I could not have too muchof them, could not enter too thoroughly into their consideration. He who loves the Savior desires to grow in knowledgeof him; he cannot read or hear too much or too often concerning his great Redeemer. He turns to the holy page with ever newdelight; he seeks the blessing of the man who meditates in God's law, both day and night. It is pleasing to notice the sharp-set,spiritual appetite of a new convert; he hungers and thirsts after righteousness; he will hear a sermon without fatigue, thoughhe may have to stand in an uncomfortable position; and when one discourse is over, he is ready for another. O that weall had our first appetites back again! Some professors grow very squeamish and proudly delicate; they cannot feed on heavenlytruth, because forsooth they see defects in the style of the preacher, or in the manner of the service. Some of you need adose of bitters to keep you from quarrelling with your food. When the word was found by my soul I did not stand to remarkupon aninelegant expression or a misplaced word, but I seized at once the marrow of the truth, and left the bones to the dogs.I drank in the expressed juice of the sacred clusters, and left the husks to the swine. I was greedy for the truth. My soulhungered even to ravenousness to be fed upon the bread of heaven.
The expression also implies cheerful reception. "I did eat them." I was so in love with thy word that I not merely held it, rejoiced in it, and embraced it, but I receivedit into my inner man. I was not in a frame of mind to judge God's word, but I accepted all without demur; I did not ventureto sit in judgment upon my judge, and become the reviser of the unerring God. Whatever I found to be in his word I receivedwith intense joy. The stamp of divine authorityupon any teaching is enough for the believer. Proud self-will demands to have doctrines proved by reasoning, but faithlets the declaration of Jehovah stand in the place of argument. Others may cry, "Let us spin our creed out of our own bowelslike the spiders; let us find in the easings of the great the grounds of our beliefs, or let us remain in a state of suspense,to be moulded by fresh discoveries;" but we are committed to revelation, our minds are made up; we confess that we haveeaten God's word and intend still to feed upon it-upon the whole of it, and upon nothing else. Open your mouths, ye wildasses of the wilderness, and snuff up wind; our food is more substantial, and we will not leave it to wander with you.
The expression signifies also an intense belief. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them." He did not say, "Perhaps it is true, and if it be so it is of no great consequence,"but he made practical use of it at once. He set about testing the power of the word to nourish his soul; he brought it intothe most intimate contact with his being, and allowed it to operate upon his vital parts. We have heard that God's word islife; be it ours to possess that lifeabundantly. The truth makes men strong, free, pure, god-like. Let us then eat it, that it may purify, strengthen, liberateand elevate us. Whatever God's word by his Spirit can do for man, it should be our desire to experience for ourselves. Blessedis that man who is so humbled as to become like a little child in the submission of his mind, his judgment, and all his facultiesto the operation of the word of divine truth; he has eaten it, and shall live by it.
The language before us means besides both the diligent treasuring up of the truth and the inward digestion of the same. Food eaten does not long continue as it was; the juices of the body operate upon it, and the substance is dissolved and absorbed,so that it becomes a part of the man's body. So when we find God's truth, we delight to meditate, con template, and consider.We let it dwell in our hearts richly till at last its sustaining, upbuilding,nourishing influence is felt, and we grow thereby. It is not a hasty swallowing of the word which is blessed to us, buta deliberate eating of it. Our inward life acts upon the truth, and the truth acts upon our life. We become one with the truth,and the truth one with us. I would to God we were all more given to feeding and lying down in the green pastures of God'sword; the sheep fattens as it chews the cud at peace, and so do we. Establishment in the gospel is the result of meditation,andnothing is more desirable at this present crisis than that all believers should more constantly study and weigh the wordof God. Neglect in this matter has weakened, is weakening, and will weaken the church. We want at this time not merely personswho have been aroused by solemn exhortation, and led to give their hearts to Christ under the influence of deep emotion, butChristians well instructed in the things which are verily believed among us, rooted and grounded in gospel doctrines. Manyprofessing Christians think very lightly of Scriptural knowledge, and especially of an experimental acquaintance withdivine truth. Few nowadays have studied the doctrines of grace so as to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them.Too often converts are made by excitement, and, as a consequence, when the excitement is gone, they grow cold; some of themgo back to the world, and prove that they were never taught of God, and others linger on in a half-starved condition, becausesoul-sustaining truth is hidden from them. The man who knows the truth, and feels that the truth has made him free, isthe man who will continue a free man at all hazards. There are enemies of the faith about nowadays; error is put in very temptingforms. Those who try to subvert the gospel are exceedingly dextrous, and know how to make every falsehood fascinating. Thesewill rend and devour, but who will be their victims? Not the instructed saints, not those who can say "Thy words were found,and I did eat them," but the mixed multitude in nominal union with the church, who scarce know what they believe, or knowingit merely in the letter have no inward vital acquaintance therewith. We read in the word of God of certain deceivers who would,if it were possible, deceive the very elect, from which we gather that the elect cannot be deceived, and that for this reason-thatthe truth is not held in the hand of the elect man as a staff which can be wrenched from him, but he has eatenit: it has entered into his vital substance. You cannot tear away from a man what has become assimilated to himself. Youmight draw the silken thread out of a piece of tapestry, and in so doing injure the material, but you cannot remove the truthwhich is interwoven into the fabric of our new-born nature by the Holy Spirit. A Christian is dyed ingrain with the truth-hewears no flying nor fading colors; he can as soon cease to be as cease to believe what he has learned by the Spirit'steaching. In olden times, the fury of persecutors has failed to make the servants of Christ deny the faith. The saintswere taken to the stake, but the fires which devoured their bodies only burned their testimonies into the hearts of otherwitnesses. They were faithful even unto death. This glorious firmness in the faith is greatly needed now to resist the insidiousnessof error. Besides, dear friends, it may in the providence of God happen that some of you will be taken away from the ministrywhich now feeds you, and what will you do if the word of God be not in your inmost souls? I have observed many who didrun well when under a gospel ministry, who, when they have been removed into a barren region, have lagged and loitered inthe race. Some whose principles were never very deep have given them up when placed in society which despised them. I prayyou get such a hold of the gospel, that you need not be dependent upon the preacher or upon earnest companions. Let not yourfaithstand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. No truth will be of any use to you unless it is branded into you;yea, and made to penetrate the marrow of your being. If you could give up truth you have never received it. He only has the truth of God who so holds it that he could never part with it.A person takes a piece of bread and eats it. He who gave it to him demands it back. If he had put that bread upon a shelf,or laid it in a cupboard, he can hand it down; but if he canreply, "I have eaten it," there is an end to the request; no human power can reproduce what is already eaten. "Give upjustification by faith and trust in sacraments," says the Ritualist. "Give up faith and follow reason," cries the Infidel.We are utterly unable to do either. And why? Because our spiritual nature has absorbed the truth into itself, and none canseparate it from us, or us from it. To live upon the truth is the sure method to prevent apostacy. "Be not carried about withdiversand strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have notprofited them that have been occupied therein." May you all be rooted and built up in Christ Jesus, and established in thefaith as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Besides, good friend, you cannot be very useful to others if you are an unintelligent Christian. To do much good, we musthave truth ready to hand, and be apt to teach. I desire that you may grow up, you who are new-born into the Christian family,to become fathers and mothers in Israel; but this cannot be, unless you as new-born babes desire the unadulterated milk ofthe word, that you may grow thereby. O for a race of Bible-reading Christians! We have long had a societyfor selling the Bible, but who shall found a society for getting the Bible read? A young man who never had read his Biblewas tempted to do so, and led to conversion by the gift of a bookmarker, presented to him by a relative. The gift was madeupon the condition that it should be put into his Bible, but should never stop two days in a place. He meant to shift it,and not to read the book, but his eye glanced on a text; after awhile he became interested, by-and-by he became converted,and thenthe bookmarker was moved with growing pleasure. I am afraid that even some professors cannot say that they shift theirbookmark every day. Probably of all the books printed, the most widely circulated, and the least read volume, is the wordof God. Books about the Bible are read, I fear, more than the Book itself. Do you believe we should see all these partiesand sects if people studiously followed the teaching of inspiration? The Word is one; whence these many creeds? We cry, "theBible, andthe Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants;" but it is not true of half the Protestants. Some overlay the Bible withthe Prayer-book, and kill its living meaning; others read through the spectacles of a religious leader, and rather followman's gloss than God's text. Few indeed come to the pure fount of gospel undefiled. A second-hand religion suits most, forit spares them the trouble of thinking, which to many is a labor too severe while to be taught of man is so much easier thanto waitupon the Holy Spirit for instruction. Remember ye, my beloved children in Christ, the words of David, and make them yourown. "I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word." "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeterthan honey to my mouth." "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart." "Mineeyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word." "My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love themexceedingly. I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee."
III. Thirdly, the text tells us of HAPPY CONSEQUENCES. "Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart." He who has spiritually found God's word, and consequently feeds upon it, is the happy man. But in order to get joy from God'sword we must receive it universally. Jeremiah first speaks of God's "words," then he changes the number and speaks of God's"word." We are not only to receive parts of the gospel, but the whole of it, and then it will afford usgreat joy. That man's heart is right with God who can honestly say that all the testimonies of God are dear to him. "But,"saith one, "that is impossible: parts of the Bible are full of terrible denunciations; can they afford us joy?" In this way,brethren. If God appoints that sin should be punished, we are not to rebel against his righteous ordinance, nor to close ourminds to the consideration of divine justice: God's judgments are right, and what is right we must rejoice in. Moreover, bythe threatenings of the word many are led to forsake their sin, and thus the warning itself is a means of grace. To tender-heartedJeremiah I have no doubt it was a trial to say, "Your city will be destroyed, and your women and your children will be slain."But when he considered that some might be led to repentance he would with tearful vehemence deal out the thunder of the Lord.But, brethren, God's word is not all threatening. How much of it consists of exceeding great and precious promises?grace drops from it like honey from the comb. How would even Jeremiah brush away the falling tear, while that face usuallyso clouded would beam as the sun when he spoke of the Messiah? Surely, if there be anything in the whole range of truth whichcan make our hearts leap for joy, it is the part of it which touches upon the lovely person and finished work of our adorableRedeemer, to whom be honor and glory for ever. Receive the whole of God's word. Do not cut a single text out of Scriptureordesire to pervert its meaning. Hold the truth in its entirety and harmony, and then as a matter of certainty it will becometo you the joy and rejoicing of your spirit.
Allow me to interject another thought. No word of God to Jeremiah would have given him joy if he had not been obedient toit. If he had kept back a part of his Master's message, it would have been a burden intolerable to his conscience. What awound it makes in the heart if we have inwardly to confess, "I have been unfaithful. I have neglected a command of the HostHigh." Never, I beseech you, allow any text of Scripture to accuse you of having neglected its teaching ordenied its obvious meaning. There are ordinances to which some of you have not submitted yourselves which you know tobe the will of Jesus Christ. How can the Scriptures be a joy and rejoicing to you when their pages accuse you of disobedienceto your Master's will? In order to have the full joy of the testimony of God, your mind must yield itself to what God revealsas the plastic clay to the potter's touch, your willing spirit must be prompt to run as with winged feet in the ways of obedienceto all that Christ commands. Then the word being found, and you having eaten it, it will be to you a song in the houseof your pilgrimage.
Let me refresh your memories for a moment by reminding you of certain choice truths in God's word which are brimming withcomfort. There is the doctrine of election: the Lord has a people whom he has chosen, and whom he loved before the foundationsof the world. I will suppose that you have found it out for yourself, and have read the riddle, and like the apostle Paul,can say, "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son; andwhom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified." I will suppose that you knowyourself to be called, and therefore know yourself to be predestinated. Is not this the joy and rejoicing of your heart? Isit not to you a very heaven below to believe that ere the hills were made God loved you, ere sin was born or Satan fell, yourname was in his book, and he regarded you with infinite affection? Could any doctrine be a more abundant table, spread foryouin the presence of your enemies? Take the other doctrine, the doctrine of the immutability of divine love. Before youknew the secret of it, it was a mere dogma; but now you understand that Jesus never changes, and therefore the promises areyea and amen, you will, you must rejoice. Having loved his own, he loved them to the end. Is not this music to your ear? "Ihave loved thee with an everlasting love," is not this a heavenly assurance? As you sit down and consider for yourself, "Godhasloved me, for he has given me salvation in Jesus Christ, and the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed, but thecovenant of his grace cannot depart from me;" will not your cup run over, and your soul dance before the ark of God? Of courseit will not be so till you have found the word for yourself, and have eaten it, but then it shall be marrow and fatness toyou. Thousands of God's people live in doubts and fears, because they have not eaten God's word as they should; they do notknowthe fullness of the blessings of the gospel of peace. How many are in bondage through the fear that after all though theyhave been for years believers they are not yet saved, whereas if they read the Scriptures, and received their meaning, theywould know that the moment the sinner believes in Christ he is saved in that very instant he has passed from death into life,and shall never come into condemnation. If they read the Scriptures, would they endure such doubts about being left to perishafter having believed? The thing is impossible. The people of his choice Jehovah cannot cast away. No members of Christ'sbody shall be suffered to perish, or else the body of Christ would be mangled, and he himself would be the head of a dismemberedframe. To have a clear understanding of the gospel, to know the covenant which like a mighty rock underlies all gospel blessings,to know Christ and our union with him, to know his righteousness, his perfection and our perfection in him, to knowthe indwelling of the Holy Ghost, these things must inevitably make us strong in the joy of the Lord. Half our doubtsand fears would vanish if we had more acquaintance with the Lord's statutes. Other knowledge brings sorrow, but this wisdomis the joy and rejoicing of the heart.
Beloved, if there is a quarrel between you and any text of Scripture, end the dispute by giving way at once, for the wordof God is right, and you are wrong. Do not say, "We have always been of one way of thinking, and our parents were so beforeus." Have respect unto God, and sit at Jesus' feet. The Lord's teaching is in this Book, and may be opened to you by his Spirit.Test everything by the word; prove the spirits whether they be of God. Do not be such fools as to takeyour religion from fallible men when you may have it from the infallible God. Some who do so are not fools in other matters,but in this case it may be said of them as it was once said of the people of an Italian city, "They were not fools, but theyacted as if they were." Persons who would not take the opinion of anybody else as to the goodness of a half-crown, will leavetheir religion to be settled by an Act of Parliament, or by convocation, or by conference. What are brains given to us for?Are we for ever to be the slaves of majorities and follow a multitude to do evil? God forbid! Stand upright, O Christianman, and be a man. God has given you a judgment, and his Spirit waits to enlighten it. Search the Scriptures! See whetherthe things handed down by tradition came from the devil or from God, for many an ancient maxim may be traced to the infernalpit. To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them. Maywe havegrace given us like Ezekiel to receive the roll from the Lord's hand, to eat it, and to find it in our mouth as honeyfor sweetness.
IV. The fourth point is A DISTINGUISHING TITLE. "I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts." This may not appear to some of you a very joyful thing-to Jeremiah it was pre-eminently so. In Jeremiah's day the name ofthe Lord God of hosts was despised. The God of hosts was the subject of derision among the rabble of Jerusalem, and the weepingprophet of mournful countenance, who spoiled their mirth, came in for his full share of scorn. Now. Jeremiah, instead offeeling it a hard thing to be associated with the Lord in this contempt of the wicked, was glad to be so honored. Thereproaches of them that reviled the Lord fell upon his poor servant, and he was content to have it so. O you who love JesusChrist, never shun the scandal of his cross! Count it glory to be despised for his sake. Let fear be far from you. RememberMoses, of whom it is written, "he esteemed the reproach of Christ to be greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt." Itdoes notsay he esteemed Christ to be greater riches, an ordinary believer would do that; but he reckoned the worst thing connectedwith Christ to be better than the best thing about the world. The reproach of Christ he esteemed above Pharaoh's crown. Disciplesof Jesus, be willing to bear all the contumely the wicked pour upon you for your Lord's sake, for in so doing they help tomake you blessed. Through the mire, and through the slough, march side by side with truth, for those who share herpilgrimage shall share her exaltation. Be content to abide with Christ in his humiliation, for only so may you be surethat you shall be with him in his glory. It was a comfort to Jeremiah that he bore the name of the despised God. It made himthe object of very much persecution as well as contempt; the king put him in the dungeon; he was made to eat the bread ofaffliction, and was in tribulations oft, but he took it all joyfully for the Lord's sake. And if to serve Christ to-day, andbear hisname, should entail suffering extreme, as in the days of Rome's tyranny, yet, my brethren, we ought to be cheerful inthe bearing of it, and glad that we are counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.
Yet I am afraid I am speaking to some who do not count it a fair thing to bear the name of the Most High. I gather this fromtheir conduct. They have a belief in Jesus, they hope they have, but they have never avowed Christ's name. You have missed,then, that which was a comfort to the prophet. Why have you missed it? Because you imagined that it would be a source of discomfortto you? Are you wiser than the prophet? To him it was consolation that he was called by God'sname. Do you think it would be a sorrow to you? "Oh!" saith one, "I could not bear the world's rebuke." Can you bear Christ'srebuke, when he will say to those who did not confess him before men, "I never knew you"? But you say you could not live upto a profession; you are afraid your life might fall short of what it should be-a very salutary fear; but do you hope to improveyour life by beginning with disobedience! If I own my Savior's name, it is Christ's business to keep me; but if I amso overwise that I think I am safer in the path of disobedience, then I cannot reckon upon grace to preserve me. The warfareis arduous, but we do enter upon it at our own charges, there is one who has promised to help us. Well, if you will be cowards, I will part company with you. If you were every one of you this day enemies of Christ, or if you were allof you lovers of Christ in secret, and none of you gloried in him, I, for my part, could not fire a moment without being anavowedChristian. I say not this in egotism, but as fact. My heart might sooner cease to beat than cease to own the Lord. Itis a sneaking thing, and utterly degrading that my Lord should die upon the cross for me to save my soul from hell, and Ishould be ashamed to wear his livery; that he should honor me by redeeming me with his blood, and I should deny to him thelittle honor that my poor name could give when it is enrolled with his people. Nay, though least of all his followers, putdown my name,O recording angel, and there let it stand, and if all men revile and devils rage so let it be. It shall be my heaven tosuffer hell for Christ, if such must needs be. I cannot comprehend how so many believers remain outside the visible churchof Christ. I would not question the safety of any man who has believed in Jesus, but I do avow that I would not run the riskthat non-confessors run. For what is the gospel? "He that with his heart believeth, and with his mouth maketh confession ofhimshould be saved." How dare you leave out one half of the gospel command? What was the gospel which according to the EvangelistMark is to be preached to every creature? It runs thus: "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved." I do not questionthe safety of the soul that has believed, but I do say again, I would not run the risk of the man who, having believed, refusesto be baptised. It is plainly his Master's will. I question the genuineness of his faith if he starts back fromobedience to the known command of Jesus Christ. My dear brother, to confess Christ is so easy a burden, it involves sotemporary a loss, and so real a gain, that I would have you say, "I have found God's word, and I have eaten it: it is thejoy and rejoicing of my soul; and now from this day let others do as they will, but I will serve the Lord. I bow my willingback to his cross. I will be buried with him in baptism unto death, I would die to the world, and rise to newness of lifethrough hisSpirit." Blessed are they who go to their Lord without the camp, leaving the world's religion as well as its sin, in obedienceto that sacred call: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." The Lord deal graciously with you, beloved, and leadyou in a plain path, because of your enemies, for his name's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Jeremiah 15.
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