Sermon 994. The Prayer of Jabez
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!"-1 Chron. 4:10.
WE know very little about Jabez, except that he was more honorable than his brethren, and that he was called Jabez becausehis mother bare him with sorrow. It will sometimes happen that where there is the most sorrow in the antecedents, there willbe the most pleasure in the sequel. As the furious storm gives place to the clear sunshine, so the night of weeping precedesthe morning of joy. Sorrow the harbinger; gladness the prince it ushers in. Cowper says:-
"The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the place where sorrow is unknown."
To a great extent we find that we must sow in tears before we can reap in joy. Many of our works for Christ have cost us tears.Difficulties and disappointments have wrung our soul with anguish. Yet those projects that have cost us more than ordinarysorrow, have often turned out to be the most honorable of our undertakings. While our grief called the offspring of desire"Benoni," the son of my sorrow, our faith has been afterwards able to give it a name of delight,"Benjamin," the son of my right hand. You may expect a blessing in serving God if you are enabled to persevere under manydiscouragements. The ship is often long coming home, because detained on the road by excess of cargo. Expect her freight tobe the better when she reaches the port. More honorable than his brethren was the child whom his mother bore with sorrow.As for this Jabez, whose aim was so well pointed, his fame so far sounded, his name so lastingly embalmed-he was a man ofprayer.The honor he enjoyed would not have been worth having if it had not been vigorously contested and equitably won. His devotionwas the key to his promotion. Those are the best honors that come from God, the award of grace with the acknowledgment ofservice. When Jacob was surnamed Israel, he received his princedom after a memorable night of prayer. Surely it was far morehonorable to him than if it had been bestowed upon him as a flattering destinction by some earthly emperor. The best honoristhat which a man gains in communion with the Most High. Jabez, we are told, was more honorable than his brethren, andhis prayer is forthwith recorded, as if to intimate that he was also more prayerful than his brethren. We are told of whatpetitions his prayer consisted. All through it was very significant and instructive. We have only time to take one clauseof it-indeed, that one clause may be said to comprehend the rest: "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" I commend it asa prayerfor yourselves, dear brethren and sisters; one which will be available at all seasons; a prayer to begin Christian lifewith, a prayer to end it with, a prayer which would never be unseasonable in your joys or in your sorrows.
Oh that thou, the God of Israel, the covenant God, would bless me indeed! The very pith of the prayer seems to lie in thatword, "indeed." There are many varieties of blessing. Some are blessings only in name: they gratify our wishes for a moment,but permanently disappoint our expectations. They charm the eye, but pall on the taste. Others are mere temporary blessings:they perish with the using. Though for awhile they regale the senses, they cannot satisfy the highercravings of the soul. But, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" I wot whom God blesseth shall be blessed. The thinggood in itself is bestowed with the good-will of the giver, and shall be productive of so much good fortune to the recipientthat it may well be esteemed as a blessing "indeed," for there is nothing comparable to it. Let the grace of God prompt it,let the choice of God appoint it, let the bounty of God confer it, and then the endowment shall be something godlike indeed;something worthy of the lips that pronounce the benediction, and verily to be craved by every one who seeks honor thatis substantial and enduring. "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" Think it over, and you will see that there is a depthof meaning in the expression.
We may set this in contrast with human blessings: "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" It is very delightful to be blessedby our parents, and those venerable friends whose benedictions come from their hearts, and are backed up by their prayers.Many a poor man has had no other legacy to leave his children except his blessing, but the blessing of an honest, holy, Christianfather is a rich treasure to his son. One might well feel it were a thing to be deplored throughlife if he had lost a parent's blessing. We like to have it. The blessing of our spiritual parents is consolatory. Thoughwe believe in no priestcraft, we like to live in the affections of those who were the means of bringing us to Christ, andfrom whose lips we were instructed in the things of God. And how very precious is the blessing of the poor! I do not wonderthat Job treasured that up as a sweet thing. "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me." If you have relieved the widow andthefatherless, and their thanks are returned to you in benediction, it is no mean reward. But, dear friends, after all-allthat parents, relatives, saints, and grateful persons can do in the way of blessing, falls very far short of what we desireto have. O Lord, we would have the blessings of our fellow-creatures, the blessings that come from their hearts; but, "Ohthat Thou wouldest bless me indeed!" for thou canst bless with authority. Their blessings may be but words, but thine areeffectual. They may often wish what they cannot do, and desire to give what they have not at their own disposal, but thywill is omnipotent. Thou didst create the world with but a word. O that such omnipotence would now bespeak me thy blessing!Other blessings may bring us some tiny cheer, but in thy favor is life. Other blessings are mere tittles in comparison withthy blessing; for thy blessing is the title "to an inheritance incorruptible" and unfading, to "a kingdom which cannot bemoved."Well therefore might David pray in another place, "With thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever."Perhaps in this place, Jabez may have put the blessing of God in contrast with the blessings of men. Men will bless thee whenthou doest well for thyself. They will praise the man who is successful in business. Nothing succeeds like success. Nothinghas so much the approval of the general public as a man's prosperity. Alas! they do not weigh men's actions in the balancesofthe sanctuary, but in quite other scales. You will find those about you who will commend you if you are prosperous; orlike Job's comforters, condemn you if you suffer adversity. Perhaps there may be some feature about their blessings that mayplease you, because you feel you deserve them. They commend you for your patriotism: you have been a patriot. They commendyou for your generosity: you know you have been self-sacrificing. Well, but after all, what is there in the verdict of man?At atrial, the verdict of the policeman who stands in the court, or of the spectators who sit in the court-house, amountsto just nothing. The man who is being tried feels that the only thing that is of importance at all will be the verdict ofthe jury, and the sentence of the judge. So it will little avail us whatever we may do, how others commend or censure. Theirblessings are not of any great value. But, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me," that thou wouldest say, "Well done, good andfaithfulservant." Commend thou the feeble service that through thy grace my heart has rendered. That will be to bless me indeed.
Men are sometimes blessed in a very fulsome sense by flattery. There are always those who, like the fox in the fable, hopeto gain the cheese by praising the crow. They never saw such plumage, and no voice could be so sweet as yours. The whole oftheir mind is set, not on you, but on what they are to gain by you. The race of flatterers is never extinct, though the flatteredusually flatter themselves it is so. They may conceive that men flatter others, but all is sopalpable and transparent when heaped upon themselves, that they accept it with a great deal of self-complacency, as beingperhaps a little exaggerated, but after all exceedingly near the truth. We are not very apt to take a large discount off thepraises that others offer us; yet, were we wise, we should press to our bosom those who censure us; and we should always keepat arm's length those who praise us, for those who censure us to our face cannot possibly be making a market of us; but withregard to those who extol us, rising early, and using loud sentences of praise, we may suspect, and we shall very seldombe unjust in the suspicion, that there is some other motive in the praise which they render to us than that which appearson the surface. Young man, art thou placed in a position where God honors thee? Beware of flatterers. Or hast thou come intoa large estate? Hast thou abundance? There are always flies where there is honey. Beware of flattery. Young woman, art thoufair tolook upon? There will be those about thee that will have their designs, perhaps their evil designs, in lauding thy beauty.Beware of flatterers. Turn thou aside from all these who have honey on their tongue, because of the poison of asps that isunder it. Bethink thee of Solomon's caution, "meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips." Cry to God, "Deliver thoume from all this vain adulation, which nauseates my soul." So shalt thou pray to him the more fervently, "Oh that thou wouldestbless me indeed!" Let me have thy benediction, which never says more than it means; which never gives less than it promises.If you take then the prayer of Jabez as being put in contrast with the benedictions which come from men, you see much forcein it.
But we may put it in another light, and compare the blessing Jabez craved with those blessings that are temporal and transient.There are many bounties given to us mercifully by God for which we are bound to be very grateful; but we must not set toomuch store by them. We may accept them with gratitude, but we must not make them our idols. When we have them we have greatneed to cry, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and make these inferior blessings real blessings;"and if we have them not, we should with greater vehemence cry, "Oh that we may be rich in faith, and if not blessed withthese external favors, may we be blessed spiritually, and then we shall be blessed indeed."
Let us review some of these mercies, and just say a word or two about them.
One of the first cravings of men's hearts is wealth. So universal the desire to gain it, that we might almost say it is anatural instinct. How many have thought if they once possessed it they should be blessed indeed! but there are ten thousandproofs that happiness consists not in the abundance which a man possesseth. So many instances are well known to you all, thatI need not quote any to show that riches are not a blessing indeed. They are rather apparently thanreally so. Hence, it has been well said, that when we see how much a man has we envy him; but could we see how littlehe enjoys we should pity him. Some that have had the most easy circumstances have had the most uneasy minds. Those who haveacquired all they could wish, had their wishes been at all sane, have been led by the possession of what they had to be discontentedbecause they had not more.
"Thus the base miser starves amidst his store,
Broods o'er his gold, and griping still at more,
Sits sadly pining, and believes he's poor."
Nothing is more clear to any one who chooses to observe it, than that riches are not the chief good at whose advent sorrowflies, and in whose presence joy perennial springs. Full often wealth cozens the owner. Dainties are spread on his table,but his appetite fails, minstrels wait his bidding, but his ears are deaf to all the strains of music; holidays he may haveas many as he pleases, but for him recreation has lost all its charms: or he is young, fortune has come tohim by inheritance, and he makes pleasure his pursuit till sport becomes more irksome than work, and dissipation worsethan drudgery. Ye know how riches make themselves wings; like the bird that roosted on the tree, they fly away. In sicknessand despondency these ample means that once seemed to whisper, "Soul, take thine ease," prove themselves to be poor comforters.In death they even tend to make the pang of separation more acute, because there is the more to leave, the more to lose. Wemaywell say, if we have wealth, "My God, put me not off with these husks; let me never make a god of the silver and the gold,the goods and the chattels, the estates and investments, which in thy providence thou hast given me. I beseech thee, blessme indeed. As for these worldly possessions, they will be my bane unless I have thy grace with them." And if you have notwealth, and perhaps the most of you will never have it, say, "My Father, thou hast denied me this outward and seeming good,enrichme with thy love, give me the gold of thy favor, bless me indeed; then allot to others whatever thou wilt, thou shaltdivide my portion, my soul shall wait thy daily will; do thou bless me indeed, and I shall be content."
Another transient blessing which our poor humanity fondly covets and eagerly pursues is fame. In this respect we would fainbe more honorable than our brethren, and outstrip all our competitors. It seems natural to us all to wish to make a name,and gain some note in the circle we move in at any rate, and we wish to make that circle wider if we can. But here, as ofriches, it is indisputable that the greatest fame does not bring with it any equal measure of gratification.Men, in seeking after notoriety or honor, have a degree of pleasure in the search which they do not always possess whenthey have gained their object. Some of the most famous men have also been the most wretched of the human race. If thou hasthonor and fame, accept it; but let this prayer go up, "My God, bless thou me indeed, for what profit were it, if my name werein a thousand mouths, if thou shouldest spue it out of thy mouth? What matter, though my name were written on marble, if itwerenot written in the Lamb's Book of Life? These blessings are only apparently blessings, windy blessings, blessings thatmock me. Give me thy blessing: then the honor which comes of thee will make me blessed indeed." If you happen to have livedin obscurity, and have never entered the lists for honors among your fellow-men, be content to run well your own course andfulfill truly your own vocation. To lack fame is not the most grievous of ills; it is worse to have it like the snow, thatwhitensthe ground in the morning, and disappears in the heat of the day. What matters it to a dead man that men are talking ofhim? Get thou the blessing indeed.
There is another temporal blessing which wise men desire, and legitimately may wish for rather than the other two-the blessing of health. Can we ever prize it sufficiently? To trifle with such a boon is the madness of folly. The highest eulogiums that can bepassed on health would not be extravagant. He that has a healthy body is infinitely more blessed than he who is sickly, whateverhis estates may be. Yet if I have health, my bones well set, and my muscles wellstrung, if I scarcely know an ache or pain, but can rise in the morning, and with elastic step go forth to labor, andcast myself upon my couch at night, and sleep the sleep of the happy, yet, oh let me not glory in my strength! In a momentit may fail me. A few short weeks may reduce the strong man to a skeleton. Consumption may set in, the cheek may pale withthe shadow of death. Let not the strong man glory in his strength. The Lord "delighteth not in the strength of the horse:he taketh notpleasure in the legs of a man." And let us not make our boast concerning these things. Say, thou that are in good health,"My God, bless me indeed. Give me the healthy soul. Heal me of my spiritual diseases. Jehovah Rophi come, and purge out theleprosy that is in my heart by nature: make me healthy in the heavenly sense, that I may not be put aside among the unclean,but allowed to stand amongst the congregation of thy saints. Bless my bodily health to me that I may use it rightly, spendingthe strength I have in thy service and to thy glory; otherwise, though blessed with health, I may not be blessed indeed."Some of you, dear friends, do not possess the great treasure of health. Wearisome days and nights are appointed you. Yourbones are become an almanac, in which you note the changes of the weather. There is much about you that is fitted to excitepity. But I pray that you may have the blessing indeed, and I know what that is. I can heartily sympathise with a sister thatsaidto me the other day, "I had such nearness to God when I was sick, such full assurance, and such joy in the Lord, and Iregret to say I have lost it now; that I could almost wish to be ill again, if thereby I might have a renewal of communionwith God." I have oftentimes looked gratefully back to my sick chamber. I am certain that I never did grow in grace one halfso much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain. It ought not to be so. Our joyous mercies ought to be great fertilizers toourspirit; but not unfrequently our griefs are more salutary than our joys. The pruning knife is best for some of us. Well,after all, whatever you have to suffer, of weakness, of debility, of pain, and anguish, may it be so attended with the divinepresence, that this light affliction may work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and so you maybe blessed indeed.
I will only dwell upon one more temporal mercy, which is very precious-I mean the blessing of home. I do not think any one can ever prize it too highly, or speak too well of it. What a blessing it is to have the fireside,and the dear relationships that gather round the word "Home," wife, children, father, brother, sister! Why, there are no songsin any language that are more full of music than those dedicated to "Mother." We hear a great deal about the German"Fatherland"-we like the sound. But the word, "Father," is the whole of it. The "land" is nothing: the "Father" is keyto the music. There are many of us, I hope, blessed with a great many of these relationships. Do not let us be content tosolace our souls with ties that must ere long be sundered. Let us ask that over and above them may come the blessing indeed.I thank thee, my God, for my earthly father; but oh, be thou my Father, then am I blessed indeed. I thank thee, my God, foramother's love; but comfort thou my soul as one whom a mother comforteth, then am I blessed indeed. I thank thee, Savior,for the marriage bond; but be thou the bridegroom of my soul. I thank thee for the tie of brotherhood; but be thou my brotherborn for adversity, bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. The home thou hast given me I prize, and thank thee for it; butI would dwell in the house of the Lord for ever, and be a child that never wanders, wherever my feet may travel, from myFather's house with its many mansions. You can thus be blessed indeed. If not domiciled under the paternal care of theAlmighty, even the blessing of home, with all its sweet familiar comforts, does not reach to the benediction which Jabez desiredfor himself. But do I speak to any here that are separated from kith and kin? I know some of you have left behind you in thebivouac of life graves where parts of your heart are buried, and that which remains is bleeding with just so many wounds.Ah,well! the Lord bless you indeed! Widow, thy maker is thy husband. Fatherless one, he hath said, "I will not leave youcomfortless: I will come to you." Oh, to find all your relationships made up in him, then you will be blessed indeed! I haveperhaps taken too long a time in mentioning these temporary blessings, so let me set the text in another light. I trust wehave had human blessings and temporary blessings, to fill our hearts with gladness, but not to foul our hearts with worldliness,orto distract our attention from the things that belong to our everlasting welfare.
Let us proceed, thirdly, to speak of imaginary blessings. There are such in the world. From them may God deliver us. "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" Take the Pharisee. Hestood in the Lord's house, and he thought he had the Lord's blessing, and it made him very bold, and he spoke with unctuousself-complacency, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are," and so on. He had the blessing, and well indeed hesupposed himself to have merited it. He hadfasted twice in the week, paid tithes of all that he possessed, even to the odd farthing on the mint, and the extra halfpennyon the cummin he had used. He felt he had done everything. His the blessing of a quiet or a quiescent conscience; good, easyman. He was a pattern to the parish. It was a pity everybody did not live as he did; if they had, they would not have wantedany police. Pilate might have dismissed his guards, and Herod his soldiers. He was just one of the most excellent personsthat ever breathed. He adored the city of which he was a burgess! Ay; but he was not blessed indeed. This was all hisown overweening conceit. He was a mere wind-bag, nothing more and the blessing which he fancied had fallen upon him, had nevercome. The poor publican whom he thought accursed, went to his home justified rather than he. The blessing had not fallen onthe man who thought he had it. Oh, let every one of us here feel the sting of this rebuke, and pray: "Great God, save us fromimputing to ourselves a righteousness which we do not possess. Save us from wrapping ourselves up in our own rags, andfancying we have put on the wedding garments. Bless me indeed. Let me have the true righteousness. Let me have the true worthinesswhich thou canst accept, even that which is of faith in Jesus Christ."
Another form of this imaginary blessing is found in persons who would scorn to be thought self-righteous. Their delusion,however, is near akin. I hear them singing-
"I do believe, I will believe
That Jesus died for me,
And on his cross he shed his blood,
From sin to set me free."
You believe it, you say. Well, but how do you know? Upon what authority do you make so sure? Who told you? "Oh, I believeit." Yes, but we must mind what we believe. Have you any clear evidence of a special interest in the blood of Jesus? Can yougive any spiritual reasons for believing that Christ has set you free from sin? I am afraid that some have got a hope thathas not got any ground, like an anchor without any fluke-nothing to grasp, nothing to lay hold upon. Theysay they are saved, and they stick to it they are, and think it wicked to doubt it; but yet they have no reason to warranttheir confidence. When the sons of Kohath carried the ark, and touched it with their hands, they did rightly; but when Uzzahtouched it he died. There are those who are ready to be fully assured; there are others to whom it will be death to talk ofit. There is a great difference between presumption and full assurance. Full assurance is reasonable: it is based on solidground. Presumption takes for granted, and with brazen face pronounces that to be its own to which it has no right whatever.Beware, I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If with thy heart thou dost trust in Jesus, then art thou saved; butif thou merely sayest, "I trust in Jesus," it doth not save thee. If thy heart be renewed, if thou shalt hate the things thatthou didst once love, and love the things that thou didst once hate; if thou hast really repented; if there be a thoroughchange of mind in thee; if thou be born again, then hast thou reason to rejoice: but if there be no vital change, no inwardgodliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then thy saying, "I am saved," is but thineown assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee. Our prayer ought to be, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed,with real faith, with real salvation, with the trust in Jesus that is the essential of faith; not with the conceit thatbegets credulity. God preserve us from imaginary blessings!" I have met with persons who said, "I believe I am saved,because I dreamt it." Or, "Because I had a text of Scripture that applied to my own case. Such and such a good man said soand so in his sermon." Or, "Because I took to weeping and was excited, and felt as I never felt before." Ah! but nothing willstand the trial but this, "Dost thou abjure all confidence in everything but the finished work of Jesus, and dost thou cometoChrist to be reconciled in him to God?" If thou dost not, thy dreams, and visions, and fancies, are but dreams, and visions,and fancies, and will not serve thy turn when most thou needest them. Pray the Lord to bless thee indeed, for of that sterlingverity in all thy walk and talk there is a great scarcity.
Too much I am afraid, that even those who are saved-saved for time and eternity-need this caution, and have good cause topray this prayer that they may learn to make a distinction between some things which they think to be spiritual blessings,and others which are blessings indeed. Let me show you what I mean. Is it certainly a blessing to get an answer to your prayerafter your own mind? I always like to qualify my most earnest prayer with, "Not as I will, but asthou wilt." Not only ought I to do it, but I would like to do it, because otherwise I might ask for something which itwould be dangerous for me to receive. God might give it me in anger, and I might find little sweetness in the grant, but muchsoreness in the grief it caused me. You remember how Israel of old asked for flesh, and God gave them quails; but while themeat was yet in their mouths the wrath of God came upon them. Ask for the meat, if you like, but always put in this: "Lord,ifthis is not a real blessing, do not give it me." "Bless me indeed." I hardly like to repeat the old story of the goodwoman whose son was ill-a little child near death's door-and she begged the minister, a Puritan, to pray for its life. Hedid pray very earnestly, but he put in, "If it be thy will, save this child." The woman said, "I cannot bear that: I musthave you pray that the child shall live. Do not put in any ifs or buts." "Woman," said the minister, "it may be youwill live to rue the day that ever you wished to set your will up against God's will." Twenty years afterwards, she wascarried away in a fainting fit from under Tyburn gallows-tree, where that son was put to death as a felon. Although she hadlived to see her child grow up to be a man, it would have been infinitely better for her had the child died, and infinitelywiser had she left it to God's will. Do not be quite so sure that what you think an answer to prayer is any proof of divinelove.It may leave much room for thee to seek unto the Lord, saying, "Oh that thou wouldest blessed me indeed!" So sometimesgreat exhilaration of spirit, liveliness of heart, even though it be religious joy, may not always be a blessing. We delightin it, and oh, sometimes when we have had gatherings for prayer here, the fire has burned, and our souls have glowed! We feltat the time how we could sing-
"My willing soul would stay
In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away
To everlasting bliss."
So far as that was a blessing we are thankful for it; but I should not like to set such seasons up, as if my enjoyments werethe main token of God's favor; or as if they were the chief signs of his blessing. Perhaps it would be a greater blessingto me to be broken in spirit, and laid low before the Lord at the present time. When you ask for the highest joy, and prayto be on the mountain with Christ, remember it may be as much a blessing; yea, a blessing indeed to bebrought into the Valley of Humiliation, to be laid very low, and constrained to cry out in anguish, "Lord, save, or Iperish!"
"If to-day he deigns to bless us
With a sense of pardon'd sin,
He to-morrow may distress us,
Make us feel the plague within,
All to make us
Sick of self, and fond of him."
These variable experiences of ours may be blessings indeed to us, when, had we been always rejoicing, we might have been likeMoab, settled on our lees, and not emptied from vessel to vessel. It fares ill with those who have no changes; they fear notGod. Have we not, dear friends, sometimes envied those persons that are always calm and unruffled, and are never perturbedin mind? Well, there are Christians whose evenness of temper deserves to be emulated. And as for thatcalm repose, that unwavering assurance which comes from the Spirit of God, it is a very delightful attainment; but I amnot sure that we ought to envy anybody's lot because it is more tranquil or less exposed to storm and tempest than our own.There is a danger of saying, "Peace, peace," where there is no peace, and there is a calmness which arises from callousness.Dupes there are who deceive their own souls. "They have no doubts," they say, but it is because they have little heart searching.They have no anxieties, because they have not much enterprise or many pursuits to stir them up. Or it may be they haveno pains, because they have no life. Better go to heaven, halt and maimed, than go marching on in confidence down to hell."Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" My God, I will envy no one of his gifts or his graces, much less of his inward moodor his outward circumstances, if only thou wilt "bless me indeed." I would not be comforted unless thou comfortest me, norhave anypeace but Christ my peace, nor any rest but the rest which cometh from the sweet savor of the sacrifice of Christ. Christshall be all in all, and none shall be anything to me save himself. O that we might always feel that we are not to judge asto the manner of the blessing, but must leave it with God to give us what we would have, not the imaginary blessing, the superficialand apparent blessing, but the blessing indeed!
Equally too with regard to our work and service, I think our prayer should always be, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!"It is lamentable to see the work of some good men, though it is not ours to judge them, how very pretentious, but how veryunreal it is. It is really shocking to think how some men pretend to build up a church in the course of two or three evenings.They will report, in the corner of the newspapers, that there were forty-three persons convinced ofsin, and forty-six justified, and sometimes thirty-eight sanctified; I do not know what besides of wonderful statisticsthey give as to all that is accomplished. I have observed congregations that have been speedily gathered together, and greatadditions have been made to the church all of a sudden. And what has become of them? Where are those churches at the presentmoment? The dreariest deserts in Christendom are those places that were fertilised by the patent manures of certain revivalists.The whole church seemed to have spent its strength in one rush and effort after something, and it ended in nothing atall. They built their wooden house, and piled up the hay, and made a stubble spire that seemed to reach the heavens, and therefell one spark, and all went away in smoke; and he that came to labor next time-the successor of the great builder-had toget the ashes swept away before he could do any good. The prayer of every one that serves God should be, "Oh that thou wouldestbless me indeed." Plod on, plod on. If I only build one piece of masonry in my life, and nothing more, if it be gold,silver, or precious stones, it is a good deal for a man to do; of such precious stuff as that, to build even one little cornerwhich will not show, is a worthy service. It will not be much talked of, but it will last. There is the point: it will last."Establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." If we are not builders in anestablished church, it is of little use to try at all. What God establishes will stand, but what men build without hisestablishment will certainly come to nought. "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" Sunday-school teacher, be this yourprayer. Tract distributer, local preacher, whatever you may be, dear brother or sister, whatever your form of service, doask the Lord that you may not be one of those plaster builders using sham compo that only requires a certain amount of frostand weatherto make it crumble to pieces. Be it yours, if you cannot build a cathedral, to build at least one part of the marvelloustemple that God is piling for eternity, which will outlast the stars.
I have one thing more to mention before I bring this sermon to a close. The blessings of God's grace are blessings indeed, which in right earnest we ought to seek after. By these marks shall ye know them. Blessings indeed, are such blessings ascome from the pierced hand; blessings that come from calvary's bloody tree, streaming from the Savior's wounded side-thy pardon,thine acceptance, thy spiritual life: the bread that is meat indeed, the blood that is drinkindeed-thy oneness to Christ, and all that comes of it-these are blessings indeed. Any blessing that comes as the resultof the Spirit's work in thy soul is a blessing indeed; though it humble thee, though it strip thee, though it kill thee, itis a blessing indeed. Though the harrow go over and over thy soul, and the deep plough cut into thy very heart; though thoube maimed and wounded, and left for dead, yet if the Spirit of God do it, it is a blessing indeed. If he convinceth thee ofsin, of righteousness, and of judgment, even though thou hast not hitherto been brought to Christ, it is a blessing indeed.Anything that he does, accept it; do not be dubious of it; but pray that he may continue his blessed operations in thy soul.Whatsoever leads thee to God is in like manner a blessing indeed. Riches may not do it. There may be a golden wall betweenthee and God. Health will not do it: even the strength and marrow of thy bones may keep thee at a distance from thy God. Butanything that draws thee nearer to him is a blessing indeed. What though it be a cross that raiseth thee? Yet if it raisethee to God it shall be a blessing indeed. Anything that reaches into eternity, with a preparation for the world to come,anything that we can carry across the river, the holy joy that is to blossom in those fields beyond the swelling flood, thepure cloudless love of the brotherhood which is to be the atmosphere of truth for ever-anything of this kind that has theeternalbroad arrow on it-the immutable mark-is a blessing indeed. And anything which helps me to glorify God is a blessing indeed.If I be sick, and that helps me to praise him, it is a blessing indeed. If I be poor, and I can serve him better in povertythan in wealth, it is a blessing indeed. If I be in contempt, I will rejoice in that day and leap for joy, if it be for Christ'ssake-it is a blessing indeed. Yea, my faith shakes off the disguise, snatches the vizor from the fair forehead ofthe blessing, and counts it all joy to all into divers trials for the sake of Jesus and the recompense of reward thathe has promised. "Oh that we may be blessed indeed!"
Now, I send you away with these three words: "Search." See whether the blessings are blessings indeed, and be not satisfiedunless you know that they are of God, tokens of his grace, and earnests of his saving purpose. "Weigh"-that shall be the nextword. Whatever thou hast, weigh it in the scale, and ascertain if it be a blessing indeed, conferring such grace upon youas causeth you to abound in love, and to abound in every good word and work. And lastly, "Pray." Sopray that this prayer may mingle with all thy prayers, that whatsoever God grants or whatever he withholds thou mayestbe blessed indeed. Is it a joy-time with thee? O that Christ may mellow thy joy, and prevent the intoxication of earthly blessednessfrom leading thee aside from close walking with him! In the night of sorrow, pray that he will bless thee indeed, lest thewormwood also intoxicate thee and make thee drunk, lest thy afflictions should make thee think hardly of him. Pray for theblessing, which having, thou art rich to all the intents of bliss, or which lacking, thou art poor and destitute, thoughplenty fill thy store. "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." But "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!"
Letter from Mr. Spurgeon, read at the Tabernacle on Lord's-day, June 11th:-
BELOVED FRIENDS,-Whom I have in constant and affectionate remembrance I am obliged again to take up the note of mourning,for I have been all the week suffering, and the most of it confned to my bed. The severe weather has driven me back, and causeda repetition of all my pains.
Nevertheless, the Lord's will be done. Let Him have his way with me, for he is Love. I have been wearying to preach again,but it may be my dumb Sabbaths are appointed for my chastisement, and their number is not yet fufilled. We must work for Godwhile we can, for not one of us knows how soon he may be unable to take a share in the service. At the same time, how unimportantwe are! God's work goes on without us. We all need him, but he needs no one of us.
Beloved, hitherto I have had much solace in hearing that the Lord's work among you goes on. I pray you make earnest intercessionthat this may continue. I hope week-night services will not droop. If you stay away, let it be when I am there, but not now. May the Deacons and Elders find themselves at every meeting for worship surrounded by an untiring band of helpers.
May abundance of grace rest on you all, especially on the sick, the poor, and the bereaved. Pray for me, I entreat you. Perhapsif the church met for prayer I should be speedily restored. I know thousands do pray, but should not the church do so as a church? I fear I must give up all hope of preaching on the 25th; but I trust the Lord will be merciful to me, and send me among youon the first Sabbath of July.
Next Sunday there should be a collection for the Association, an object very dear to me. With deep Christian love,
Your suffering Pastor,