Sermon 1080. Our Gifts and How To Use Them
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Therefore I remind you to you stir up the gift of God which is in you by the laying on of my hands." 2 Timothy 1:6.
I SUPPOSE that Timothy was a somewhat retiring youth and that from the gentleness of his nature he needed to be exhorted tothe exercise of the bolder virtues. He is bid not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord and to endure hardness as a goodsoldier of Jesus Christ. He is called to the front, though his modesty would have kept him in the rear, and he is exhortedto command and teach, suffering no man to despise his youth. Perhaps, also, he was not a man of very vigorous action and needed,every now and then, a little touch of the spur to induce him to put forth all his dormant energy and keep himself and hisChurch thoroughly up to the mark in labor for Christ.
His was a choice spirit and therefore it was desirable to see it strong, brave and energetic. No one would wish to arousea bad man, for like a viper he is all the worse for being awake. But in proportion to the excellence of the character is thedesirability of its being full of force. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy, in his first Epistle, not to neglect the gift thatis in him. And in the text before us he bids him stir up that gift-in each case he is sounding the trumpet in his ear andsummoning him to intense action. He speaks of the gift that was conferred by the laying on of hands, and in the former Epistlehe connects that with the hands of the presbytery.
Now it was no doubt the custom to lay on hands at the ordination of Christian ministers by the Apostles and there was an excellentreason for it-for gifts were thereby conveyed to the ordained. And when we can find anybody who can thereby confer some spiritualgift upon us, we shall be glad to have their hands laid on our heads. But we care not for empty hands. Rites cease when theirmeaning ceases. If practiced any longer they gender to superstition and are fit instruments of priestcraft. The upholdingof the hands of the eldership, when they give their vote to elect a man to the pastorate, is a sensible proceeding, and is,I suspect, all the Apostle means when he speaks of the presbytery. But empty hands, it seems to me, are fitly laid on emptyheads-and to submit to an empty ceremony is the most idle of all idle waste of time!
If Paul were here and could confer a gift, we should rejoice to receive it. Yes, and if the meanest man in Christendom, orwoman, for that matter, could confer the smallest drachma of Divine Grace by the putting on of their hands, we would bow ourhead in the most humble manner. Till then we shall beg to decline submitting to the imposition, or assisting in it. For thisreason, and others, we cannot use the text exactly as it stands in addressing this congregation. But leaving out the referenceto laying on of hands, we may honestly, without violation of the current of Inspiration, proceed to exhort each one of youto stir up the gift that is in you!
There are many kinds of gifts. All Christians have some gift. Some may have but one talent, but all have one at the least.The Great Householder has apportioned to every servant a talent. No single part of a vital body is without its office. True,there are some parts of the body whose office has not been discovered-even the physician and the anatomist have not been ableto tell why certain organs are in the human frame, or what office they serve-but as even these are found to be necessary,we are quite sure that they fulfill some useful purpose. Truly, there are some Christians who might be put in that category-itmight puzzle anybody to know what they are capable of-and yet it is certain they have some charge committed to them to keep,and, if true Believers, they are essential parts of the body of Christ.
As every beast, bird, fish and insect has its own place in Nature, so has every Christian a fit position in the economy ofGrace. No tree, no plant, no weed could be dispensed with without injury to Nature's perfection. Neither can any sort of giftor Grace be lost to the Church without injury to her completeness. Every living saint has his charge to keep-his talent overwhich he is a steward. A measure of gift is in all of us, needing to be stirred up. Some have gifts outside of them ratherthan within them-gifts, for instance, of worldly position, estate and substance. These ought to be well
used, and considering that in these times we have a starving world to deal with, and that one of the great impediments tothe spread of the Gospel is, with some of us, the lack of means for the maintenance of those who should preach the Word, itdoes seem a strange thing that professors should store up God's money and use it as if it were their own.
When for our orphans, our students, our tract distributors and our missionaries we need funds, how can men love the Lord withall their hearts and yet keep their thousands cankering at their bankers, or their tens resting in their purses? They havenot learned to provide for themselves bags that wax not old. They do not understand that to keep their money they must giveit away-that truly to preserve it they must dedicate it to God-that which is kept by the miserly for themselves is not reallypreserved, but wasted. That which is expended in the Master's service is laid up in Heaven where neither moth nor rust cancorrupt.
But I am not going to speak about that. I have not much reason to speak upon that subject to those who are immediately connectedwith me, for I have rather to praise you than to upbraid. Most of our dear friends here serve the Lord with the gifts thatare outside of them-not all as we should, but many with more than ordinary liberality and some up to the full measure of theirmeans, if not beyond them. There are, however, exceptions to all rules and there are a few who attend this place who needmore than a gentle hint to excite anything like generosity in them. But we must go at once to the point in hand-"the giftthat is in you," we have now to speak of. First, the gift that may be in each one of us. And then, secondly, how we are tostir this gift up. And in conclusion, we will give reasons for the stirring of it.
I. First, then, WHAT GIFT IS THERE IN US? In some here present there are gifts of mind which are accompanied with gifts ofutterance. It is no mean thing to be able to read the Scriptures and to see their inner meaning-to be able to compare spiritualthings with spiritual and to be so taught in other matters so that we are able to see the hand of God in history and can,upon all such subjects, speak to edification. It is not everyone who has a mind who has also the gift of utterance, but whereGod is pleased to give to any man mind and mouth, he possesses a gift which he ought abundantly to use.
Many a man is mighty in the Scriptures but not eloquent. When the two things meet, as in Apollos, and are combined with afervent spirit, a man of God has power, indeed! May I suggest that every Christian man here who is possessed of the facultyof eloquent discourse is bound to use it for Jesus Christ? Some young men spend their evenings in Debating Societies and thelike, and I have not a word to say against that, but I have this to say-whatever you may do with this talent in other directions,the Lord, who has bought you with His blood, if you are a Christian man-has the first claim upon you and you are bound touse your powers of utterance in His cause.
"But I am not a minister!" What do you mean by that? Do you find anything in Scripture about clergy and laity? If so, youhave read it with different eyes from mine! There were men called especially to the oversight of the Church and the preachingof the Word, but everyone, according to his gift, also had a call-and there is no man in the Church of God who has abilityto speak who has any license to be silent. Not only the golden-mouthed orators, but the silver-tongued speakers-men of thesecond as well as of the first order-should serve in the Gospel of the Son of God. I shall not ask any young man whether heought to preach, but whether he can prove that he ought not.
Every man is bound to tell another who is in danger, to escape from that danger. Everyone who has recovered from a dreadfuldisease is bound to tell others what remedy was made effectual in his case. Nothing can excuse us from, in some way or other,spreading abroad the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And if we have the ability to speak, it will go hard at last with us if we havebeen silent with our fellow men. The stones in the street might surely cry out against some religious professors who makethe Houses of Parliament, the Council Chamber, the Courts of Justice, the Athenaeum, or the Mechanics' Hall ring with theirvoices, and yet preach not Jesus-who can argue points of politics and the like, but not speak a word for Christ-eloquent forthe world, but dumb for Jesus?
From this may God deliver us! If you have any gift, young man, come out and use it-or old man, also, if you have laid it bytill late in the day. In these straitened times when the harvest is ripe and the laborers are few, let every man that hashis sickle come forth into the field. Let no man say, "I pray you have me excused," but by the blood that bought you, if youhave tasted of the Water of Life, cry aloud and spare not, and be this your message-"Whoever will, let him take the Waterof Life freely."
There are numbers of Believers who have not the gift of utterance with the tongue, who nevertheless can speak very fluentlyand admirably with the pen. If, then, you have the gift of the pen, are you using it for Christ as you ought? I need
to stir up the gift that is in you. Letters have often been blessed to conversion! Are you accustomed to write with that view?Perhaps you are a great contributor to the postal revenue. Let me ask you what sort of matter it is with which you burdenher Majesty's mails? Do you write letters to your children and friends full of loving testimony to what the Grace of God hasdone for you? If you have not done so, dear Friends, try at once! Jesus wants consecrated pens and in His name I claim yourservice!
The writing of tracts and the dissemination of holy Truth by means of the press are most important-any person who has anygifts in that direction should be sure to use them. Why are writers upon religion often so dull, while the world commandstalent and vivacity? Many thousands of pens are running every day upon the most idle nonsense and mailing booksellers' shelvesgroan with the literature of fiction! Are there none who, with splendor of diction or in humbler guise, could write interestinglyof the Gospel and tell of its power among the sons of men? If there is, in the tribe of Zebulon, any that handle the pen ofthe ready writer, let them not keep back from the help of the Lord-the help of the Lord against the mighty!
Another form of gift that belongs to us is influence. We have all of us influence of some sort-some more, some less. Whatan influence the parent has! To a great extent you mold your children's lives. Some of us owe what we never can repay to ourmothers. What they have done for us shall make us grateful to them even when they shall slumber in the dust. The nurse girlwho has the care of little children should be very careful, for a remark she may make without intention may shape the character-yes,mar or bless the child's character throughout eternity! And you who associate daily with working men-is there enough amongChristian masters of earnest zeal to use a holy and affectionate influence among the employed?
If classes are alienated, one from the other, as it is to be feared they are, is it not because we meet each other just asa matter of business and that there is little of anything like Christian affection and communion between the one and the other?Indeed some laugh off the idea as ridiculous and tell me I know very little of the world to dream of such a thing! I willleave that question to the day which shall reveal all things, and I think I know who will prove to be right. Let every oneof us reckon up what influence he has, and having done so, let us ask God's Grace that we may use it aright. I shall not gointo details here. You are all affecting those round about you for good or evil. As Christian men you are either leading othersto Christ even unconsciously, or else you are deadening their consciences and leading them to think there is not much in religionafter all-and surely you would not wish to do that! If you have the gift of influence, I would stir you up to use it.
Many of the elder members of the Church have another gift, namely, experience. Certainly, experience cannot be purchased nortaught. It is given us of the Lord who teaches us to profit. It is a peculiar treasure each man wins for himself as he isled through the wilderness. An experienced Christian is put in the Church on purpose that he may guide the inexperienced-thathe may help those who are distressed with a word of comfort derived from his own experience of God's helping hand in timeof trouble-that he may warn the heedless by the mischiefs he himself has suffered through carelessness. Now, when an experiencedChristian merely uses his experience for his own comfort, or as a standard by which to judge his fellow Christians, or makesuse of it for self-exaltation as though he were infinitely superior to the most zealous young men-such a man mars his talent,does mischief with it-and makes himself heavily responsible.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I, who am so young in years compared with many of you, beseech you who have long walked in theways of godliness to use your experience continually in your visitation of the sick, in your conversations with the poor,in your meetings with young beginners and in your dealings with backsliders! Let your paths drop fatness! Let the anointingGod has given you fall upon those who are round about you! May you be of such a sort as a certain clergyman I heard of theother day. I asked a poor woman "What sort of man is he?" She said, "He is such a sort of man, Sir, that if he comes to seeyou, you know he has been there." I understood what she meant-he left behind him some godly saying, weighty advice, holy consolation,or devout reflection which she could remember after he had left her cottage door. May our venerable friends always have thissaid of them!
Another gift which many have is the gift of prayer-of prayer with power-in private for the Church and with sinners. Thereare some who have learned by long practice how to knock at Heaven's door so as to get a readier opening of the door than others.Numbers of these have coupled with this the gift of utterance in public prayer. Such dear friends ought not to be absent fromthe Prayer Meeting except when absolutely necessary. They should not only be content with
coming to Prayer Meetings that are established, but they should stir up the gift that is in them and try to establish othersin neglected places. There was never a period when the Church had too much prayer. "The Sacraments," as they are called, mayhave been unduly exalted but who has ever unduly exalted prayer? Bible-readings may degenerate into mere discussion, and evenpreaching into a show of oratory-but prayer has vital elements about it which survive many an injury.
Alas! Alas for Churches that have given up Prayer Meetings! You shall judge of the Presence of God by the Prayer Meeting asaccurately as you shall judge the temperature of the air by the thermometer. It is one of the truest signs that God is withthe people when they pray-and it is one of the darkest signs that He has departed when prayer is lacking. You who have sweetcommunion with God in private, look upon your prevalence on the knee not only as a blessing for yourselves, but as a giftthat is bestowed upon you for the good of others. There is another gift which is a very admirable one. It is the gift of conversation,not a readiness for chit chat and gossip-(he who has that wretched propensity may bury it in the earth and never dig it upagain)-but the gift of leading conversation, of being what George Herbert called the "master-gunner."
When we have that, we should most conscientiously use it for God. There lived, some 50 years or so ago, a set of great table-talkerswho were asked out to dine because of their lively conversational powers. Now if this is in any of you, never waste it inmere pleasantries, but say something worth saying and aim at the highest results. Remember Jesus was a mighty table-talker,as the Evangelists take care to note. I wish I could, with discreet adroitness, break in upon a conversation in a railwaycarriage and turn it round to the Savior-turn it round to something worth speaking of. I often envy those of my Brethren whocan go up to individuals and talk to them with freedom. I do not always find myself able to do so, though when I have beenDivinely aided I have had a large reward.
When a Christian man can get hold of a man and talk to him, it is like one of the old men of war laying alongside a Frenchship and giving her a broadside, making every timber shiver and at last sending her to the bottom. How many a soul has beenbrought to Christ by the loving personal exhortations of Christian people who know how to do it? To be able, like Elijah,to stretch yourselves upon the dead child-to put your hands upon his hands, your feet upon his feet and breathe the life byGod's help into the dead-oh, some of you can do this better, perhaps, than those who are called to speak to hundreds and thousands!Do use it if you have the ability, and try to get the ability if you have it not.
Perhaps you possess it and have not found it out. No unconverted person should come to this place without your speaking tohim. And as to a person attending the Tabernacle three Sundays without being spoken to by some Christian, it ought to be animpossibility and would be if all were in a right warm-hearted state, earnestly desiring the salvation of others! May Godteach us, if we can converse personally with individuals, to furbish up the gift, keep it in good condition and continuallyuse it. My inventory of the gifts which are in us is not complete, nor is it intended to be. Each person may have a separategift. Even the gift to be able to lie still and suffer is not a small one. The gift of being able to be poor and content isnot to be despised. The gift of nursing the sick or of interesting children should be lovingly employed. Neither ought anytalent to be wrapped in a napkin. But, whatever it is, the word is, "Stir up the gift which is in you."
II. And this brings us, secondly, to the consideration of HOW WE ARE TO STIR UP OUR GIFTS. First, we should do it by examinationto see what gifts we really have. There should be an overhauling of all our stores to see what we have of capital entrustedto our stewardship. May I ask you for a minute to sit quietly and take stock of all God has given you? Remember you shallassess yourself, for I am sure your manhood, not to say your self-esteem, will not let you put yourself down as utterly withoutgifts.
If somebody were to speak of you depreciatingly, you would very soon defend yourself and argue for your own capacity in manydepartments. I would put you on your mettle and bring you to acknowledge your capabilities. Now think of all the abilitiesyou have, dear Brother, dear Sister. What has God trusted you with? Add up each item and compute the total sum. What trading-moneyhave you of your Lord's? To whom much is given, of him much will be required. What, then, has been given to you? Such an enquirywill help you to stir up the gift that is in you. The self-examination of every mental faculty, every spiritual attainment,every form of characteristic force or individual influence will be an excellent commencement for a more vigorous course ofaction.
Enquire what you can do, what more you could do, what more you might learn to do, what more you ought at least to attempt.Diminish nothing from the just amount of your possibilities and it will greatly tend to stir you up, if you then
enquire, "How far have I done what I could do? How far have I used all that has been committed to me? How much of my lifehas been allowed to rust and how much has been made bright by wear and tear in the service of my Master?" It is not a pleasantduty to which I have invited you. You would be much more gratified if I asked you to consider some precious promise of theCovenant and certainly I should find it more consolatory to myself, but this is necessary. Sweet things are pleasant, butsharp things are often the more beneficial. Pillows for our heads are not our main desire-we wish, as soldiers of the Cross-tobe found faithful, first of all and above all! We shall have to give an account before God. Oh, let us give an account beforeourselves, now, in the forum of our own conscience and so stir up the gift that is in us!
The next mode of stirring up our gift is to consider to what use we could put the talents we possess. To what use could Iput my talents in my family? Am I doing all I could for the children? Have I labored all I ought for my wife's conversion-myhusband's conversion? Then about the neighborhood-is there nothing more that I could do for the salvation of my poor godlessneighbors? Perhaps I see them drunk, profane, unchaste, irreligious, full of all manner of disobedience to God-can I not,by God's Grace, uplift them? They never come to a place of worship-have I done all I could to get them there? I was not placedin that neighborhood without an object. If it is a dark part of London, I am put there to be a lamp if I am a Christian. AmI shining, then?
Some people prefer to live where there is light and for themselves the choice is wise, but I think, for usefulness, lovinghearts might prefer to live in bad districts that they might do good. Are you doing all you can for Jesus? Come, answer likean honest man! Having done so, I have more for your self-inspection. Will you examine yourself in every relation in whichyou stand? As a master, stir up your gift in reference to those you employ. As a servant, stir up the gift towards your fellowservants. As a trader, stir up your gift in reference to those with whom you come in contact. Are you a sailor? Have you steppedin here tonight? What an opportunity you have, my Friend, in landing on many shores and doing something for Christ here, andthere and everywhere!
Are you a commercial traveler and do you go to many places? Surely you might travel for our Lord with Gospel wares to be distributedwithout money and without price and yet attend to your own calling, none the less. If our Churches were in a right state ofspiritual health, men would not first say, "What can I do to make money?" but, "What can I do to serve Christ, for I willtake up a trade subserviently to that." But if we cannot bring men to that point, we must at least say, (to all of you whoprofess to be Christians, at any rate), in whatever condition you are placed, high or low, rich or poor, you should live untoChrist! You should each enquire, "What can I do for the Lord in my present condition? What peculiar service does my positioninvolve?" In this way, dear Friends, stir up the gift that is in you.
But, next, stir it up not merely by consideration and examination, but by actually using it. We talk much of working, butworking is better than talking about working. To get really at it and to do something for soul-winning and spreading abroadthe Glory of God is infinitely better than planning and holding committees. Away with windbags! Let us get to acts and deeds.None of us know what we can do till we try. The sportsman will tell you that there may be many birds in a field, but you knownot how many till you walk through and then you discover them and see them on the wing. When the wheel turns you will be ableto see the force of the current. You will see the speed of the horse when you put him to his best. Work, work and the toolthat is blunt will get an edge by being used! Shine, and the light you have shall grow in the very act of shining!
He who has done one thing will find himself capable of doing two, and doing two will be able to accomplish four- and havingachieved the four will soon go on to 12 and from 12 to fifty! And so, by growing multiples he will enlarge his power to serveGod by using the ability he has. Does this tire you? Does my subject seem too much like salvation by works? Nothing is furtherfrom my thoughts! I am not, now, speaking upon salvation at all! Neither am I addressing those who are seeking after salvation.I am speaking to you who have been saved already by the Grace of God! You are saved, and on that point all is done. You areresting in the finished work of Christ. Should it ever seem hard to you to be stirred up to serve Him? Let the vision of Histearful face come up to you.
Behold His crown of thorns! Let Him turn His back to you, and count the gashes the Roman scourges made! Look at Him-a spectacleof blood and love! And is it possible that any service for Him can, by you, be considered difficult? To burn at a stake! Ifwe could do it a thousand times, He well deserves that we should make the sacrifice! To give Him every pulse and every dropof blood and every breath we breathe-He well deserves it, glory be to His name! He merits all our
love a thousand times over. I shall not fear to press upon you again and again and again that you use the gifts which arein you by actual service of so precious a Master.
And then, dear Friends, in addition to using our gift, every one of us should try to improve it. We have for years endeavoredto stir up the young Christians of this congregation to educate themselves. By our evening classes it is intended that youngmen who preach in the street may get education in order to better preach the Gospel of Christ. And out of this congregationhave gone hundreds whom God has owned as ministers of Christ and many such are being trained now. I would have every man puthimself in training. I think every man ought to feel, "I have been Christ's man with a talent; I will be Christ's man with10 if I can. If now I do not thoroughly understand the doctrines of His Gospel, I will try to understand them. I will readand search, and learn."
We need an intelligent race of Christians, not an affected race of boasters of culture-mental fops who pretend to know a greatdeal and know nothing-but we need hard students of the Word, adept in theology like the Puritans of old. Romanism will neverdo much with people who know the doctrines of the Word of God-it is a bat and hates sunlight. Every one of us ought to bestudents and learners, trying to get more ability for usefulness as well as to be built up ourselves in our most holy faith.To the younger members of our Churches, especially, we speak this. Give yourselves to reading, study and prayer. Grow mentallyand spiritually. You teach in the class-you do well-but could not you do better if you knew more? And if you address childrenin the Sunday schools we are glad of it-but would you not do that better if you studied more perfectly the Truth of God?
Apollos was not ashamed to be taught, nor need the most successful laborer be ashamed to learn! Improve your gift, for thatis one way of stirring it up. And then pray over your gifts-that is a blessed way of stirring them up-to go before God andspread out your responsibilities before Him. In my own case I have often to cry, "Lord, You have given me this Congregation,and O it is hard to be clear of the blood of them all, and to speak with affection and prudence, and courage to all so asnot to leave one unwarned, unhelped, untaught. Help me, my Lord, that I may leave no one without his portion of meat in dueseason. Who is sufficient for these things? Only Your Grace is sufficient for me."
It stirs one up to preach with all his might when he has laid before God in prayer his weakness. And the ability which Godhas given him, too, and asked that the weakness may be consecrated to God's Glory and the ability accepted to the Lord's praise.Should we not do just the same, whatever our calling is-take it to the Lord and say, "Assist me, great God, to live to You.If Your Grace in me is only as a handful of meal and a little oil, make it hold out-make it hold out! It is not much I cando, my Master. Help me to do it well and to continue steadfast and unwearied in it"? Pray over yourself, as it were.
Put your whole self upon the altar and then let the drink-offering be the pouring out of your tears before God in prayer thatHe would be pleased to accept you, to qualify you, to anoint you, to direct you and bless you in all that you do. This wouldbe the most excellent manner of stirring up the gift that is in you. O Spirit of the living God, lead all Your people to downright,earnest and actual service of the Redeemer, and especially work in us to that end!
III. I will not linger longer there, but close with the third observation-WHY IS IT THAT WE SHOULD STIR UP THE GIFT THAT ISIN US? There are many replies to this. One or two will answer our purpose. We should stir up the gift that is in us becauseall we shall do, when we have stirred ourselves to the utmost and when the Spirit of God has strengthened us to the highestdegree, will still fall far short of what our dear Lord and Master deserves at our hands! Ah, what must Jesus think of uswhen He remembers His own love? Was there ever such a contrast between His furnace seven times hotter and our iceberg spirits?
He spared not Himself but we are always sparing ourselves. He gives us everything to the last rag and hangs naked on the Cross.We keep almost all to ourselves and count self-sacrifice to be difficult. He labors, is weary and yet ceases not. We are alittle weary and straightway we faint. He continued to preach on, notwithstanding all the ill return men made. We take offenseand throw up our work because we are not appreciated as we should be. Oh, the little things which put some workers out oftemper and out of heart! Oh, the looks or the not-looks! The words, or the silence that will make some spirits give up anyplace and any service and any work!
"Forbearing one another" seems to have gone out of fashion with many people. "Forgiving one another even as God for Christ'ssake has forgiven you," is forgotten. Brothers and Sisters, if being doormats for Christ for all the Church to wipe theirfeet upon would honor Him, we ought to think it a great glory to be so used! Among genuine Christians the
contention is for the lowest place-among sham Christians the controversy is for the higher positions. Some will ask the questionnow-a-days-"Which is the higher office-that of elder or deacon," and so on. Oh, what triviality!
When the Master was going up to Jerusalem to die, there was a contention among the disciples which of them should be the greatest-andso it is with us. At times when Grace is low, our opinion of ourselves is very high, and then our love to Christ is so littlethat we soon take affront and are quick to resent any little insults, as we think them to be, where perhaps nothing of thekind was meant. Beloved, may we be saved from all this littleness of soul! And remember what obligations we are under to ourMaster-how we should have been dead in trespasses and sins but for Him-how we should have been in Hell but for Him-how ourexpectations tonight would have been "a fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation" but for Him. But we arewashed and cleansed and on the way to Heaven-and we owe it all to Him. Therefore let us stir up the gift that is in us andserve Him with all our might.
Another reason is that these are stirring times. If we are not stirring, everybody else is. The Church of God, it seems tome, is traveling along the road to Heaven in a broad-wheel wagon and all the world is going its own way by express speed.If men become at all earnest in the cause of God, worldly critics shout out, "Fanaticism! Excitement!" Did you ever standon the Paris Bourse-ever hear the raving, raging excitement of those stock-jobbers as they are trying to buy various formsof scrip! Nobody says, "Look at these men! See how fanatical they are!" No, they expect to see excitement on the Bourse. Butif we were half as excited for God and His Gospel, there would be a hue and cry all over the country, "Here's a set of madmen!Here's a set of fanatics let loose."
Of good Mr. Rowland Hill they said, "The dear old gentleman's too earnest." "Why," said he, "When I was at Wotton-Under-EdgeI saw a piece of a gravel pit fall in upon two or three men when I was walking by, so I went into Wotton as fast as my agedlegs could carry me and I shouted with all my might, 'Help! Help! Help!' and nobody said, 'the dear old man's too earnest.'"Oh, no, you may be as earnest as you like about saving people's lives, but if their souls awaken your sympathy, some lukewarmprofessor or other is sure to be ready with a wet blanket to cool your ardor. And yet were there ever times in which the wheelsof life revolved so swiftly as now? The world marches with giant strides! Everybody is up and awake, but the Church is asleepto a great extent.
For other things men labor, and tug, and toil and make sacrifices-for an idea they slaughter their fellow creatures! For theunity of a race they fatten fields with blood and make rivers run with gore. But to preach Christ and snatch sinners fromthe jaws of Hell they require of us to be chilled-and insist that we must not be too earnest-we must not go too fast. We mustbe prudent! We must be cool! From "prudence" and "coolness" good Lord, deliver us! From "decorum" and "propriety," (whereinthey stand in the way of our winning souls), good Lord deliver us! And from every conventionality and every idol that hasbeen set up among us which prevents our being thoroughly useful and grandly serviceable to the cause of God, good Lord deliverus! Because these are stirring times, we ought to stir up the gift that is in us.
And then, again, we must stir up our gift because it needs stirring. The gifts and Graces of Christian men are like a coalfire which frequently requires stirring as well as feeding with fuel. You must not stir it up too much-the poker does notgive heat, and stirring up a man of itself does not make him better-indeed, it is as injurious to a weak man to stir him upas it would be to an expiring fire in the grate. But yet there must be stirring and fires go out sometimes for the lack ofit. There are times with us when we become dull and heavy, doing little or nothing-restless, indifferent- and then it is thatwe require rebuking. If there is a solid bottom of real Grace in us, we only need the poker that we be stirred up and straightwaythe fire begins to burn.
How I like to stir up some of you! I remember a dear Brother dropping in one Thursday night to hear the Word preached-an excellentChristian, but sluggish-but the Lord touched his heart with the spoken Word and he began to preach in the streets of the citywhere he resides! He has now one of the largest houses of prayer and God has given him hundreds of souls! He only needed stirringup! Is there no other Brother here, who, hearing this earnest word shall find it like a live coal from off the altar, touchinghis lips and moving him to go forth and preach the Word and serve his Master according to his ability? We must, then, dearFriends, stir ourselves up because if we do not, we may lose the faculty and rob ourselves of the power of usefulness! Theknife which is not used loses its edge and the man who does not work for God loses much of his ability to do so in the future.
I shall give you another reason, and that is this. If we will but stir ourselves, Beloved, or rather, if God's Holy Spiritwill but stir us, we, as a Church may expect very great things! I can hardly tell you how comforted I felt last Monday evening.I said on Sunday, "The Elders and Deacons will meet to pray, and those of you who love souls and are concerned about themwill kindly come, too, at six o'clock." I was glad to see many of you who I know love the Lord fervently, and through thatwarm Prayer Meeting which we had before our more public gathering, we felt that we had laid hold upon our God. I know thereis a blessing coming! I am sure of it! I hear "a sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." The Lord is with us!He never made His people agonize in secret and join together publicly in deep soul earnestness without intending to blessthem!
We might as well fear, when the months are warm, that there will be no ripening of the wheat as to say when Christian's heartsare warm towards God that there will be no conversions. It can't be! Enquiring saints always make enquiring sinners. If weenquire of God for sinners, sinners will soon enquire for themselves. Up, therefore! Up, therefore, Beloved! Stir yourselves,for God is stirring us! And remember, there will be a great stir by-and-bye. Business will all end, politics will be donewith and all the matters in which you are concerned will be eternally closed. What a stir there will be in that day! Fallenwe shall stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account of the deeds done in the body!
What a stir about ourselves! What a stir about others! Where will they be? Will they be on the right hand, or on the left?Shall I see my boys in Heaven, or will they be cast out? What a stir there will be about your husband or your wife! What astir there will be about your neighbors! Think of it! Think of it, I say, and be stirred now! If they die as they are, theywill be damned-they must be. They must sink into Hell! There is no hope of their escape if they die unsaved.
What a stir there will be throughout all the nations in that day! And, surely, if we look at it in the light of eternity-inthe light of that tremendous day when Christ, with clouds, shall come-we shall feel that there is nothing worth living forbut serving God! We shall surely feel that the very core and center of all life is to bring glory to God by bringing sinnersto Jesus Christ! God grant you may live as if you expected to die! We ought always to preach as though we should go out ofthe pulpit into Heaven and we should always to pray in that way. And we should always spend every day as if we had not anotherday to spend. For this we need much of the Holy Spirit's power.
And He rests upon His people! May He come and rest upon us, now, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.