Sermon 1286. A Weighty Charge
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MARCH 26 1876,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Keep yourselves in the love of God." Jude 1:21.
JUDE gives a very terrible picture of what will happen in the last days. He describes apostates and paints them in the blackestcolors. And he then informs us that there will come, in the last time, mockers and with them separatists and sensualists,all of whom will assail the Church of the living God. It feels very natural, that after foretelling our adversaries and describingthem, and so bidding us view the hosts assembled for the war, he should next instruct us how to prepare our defenses and setour forces in battle array. In the 20th and 21st verses of his epistle, Jude mentions the great Christian Quadrilateral, thefour forts which must be well manned and carefully maintained if we would battle the advancing foe.
I shall call your attention to the four important points, though I must do so with the utmost brevity. The Apostle says, "Youbeloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith." Edification is a grand defense against the assaults of skepticsand heretics. These prey upon the ignorant and unestablished, but fail to overthrow those who are rooted and grounded in theTruth of God. We need to be continually built up-learning more, loving more-and living more the grand Truths of the Gospel.We must see to it that the foundation is right, for it will be useless, or worse than useless, to be built up upon false principles-itis "on our most holy faith" that the building must be based.
We should be so established in the Doctrines of Grace as to recognize their holiness and to imitate them in our own lives.Only a "most holy" faith is safe for the soul and woe unto the man who rests content with any other. See, then, Brothers andSisters, that to ward off the ills of these last times we must labor to know the Truth ourselves, and must endeavor to instructour Brethren in them. Personal and mutual edification in the Church should be zealously maintained as one of the most valuabledefenses against the invasion of error.
The second most necessary defensive principle in the Church is devotion. "Praying in the Holy Spirit" is the weapon with whichthe hosts of the Lord will put to rout the armies of the alien. The prayers of saints are the mighty artillery with whichthe walls of our Jerusalem are protected. Supplication is a cannon which throws tremendous bolts against the advancing foe,as Sennacherib knew when Hezekiah pleaded with God. The prayers, however, must be deeply spiritual, written on the heart bythe Holy Spirit and presented with energy of His creating. Formal, lifeless petitions are but a Chinese painted fortress-whilepraying in the Holy Spirit is an impregnable castle!
Those "groans which cannot be uttered" are pieces of ordinance which make the gates of Hell tremble. But we must put our heartsunder the influence of the blessed Spirit of God, to have this, and then lift them up in continued intercession before God.Then there can be no fear about the preservation of our minds from the error of the wicked. A praying Church soon tries thespirits of false Prophets and casts them forth as evil. I have far more faith in prayer than in controversy. Keep the PrayerMeetings going! Maintain private prayer with earnestness and we may laugh to scorn all the sophisms of unbelievers and deceivers!
Jude next mentions as a third important matter the affections of the Church. If the hearts of the members of the Church areright, mockers and scoffers can do very little against them. "Keep yourselves in the love of God," for a warmhearted companyof Christians who love the Lord with all their hearts and with all their souls, are not likely to be overcome by mockers andsensualists. Love to God will be as a wall of fire round about them. In dull, decaying Churches, errors spread like ivy onthe crumbling walls of an old abbey. But life, zeal, earnestness, warm-heartedness throw off these evils even as a red-hotiron plate evaporates the drops which fall upon it. Love God and you will not love false doctrine. Keep the heart of the Churchright and her head will not go far wrong. Let her abide in the love of Jesus and she will abide in the Truth.
The fourth point to which he calls attention is the brightness of our expectancy. "Looking," says he, "for the mercy of ourLord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Expect that Christ will come and come with blessings undeserved, which shall displaythe mercy of God to us! Expect that when He comes it will be to end our conflicts, to tread Satan under our feet and to revealand perfect that eternal life which He has already implanted in us! Looking forward to the sure coming of Christ, the Churchwill not be afraid of the great swelling words of men, nor dread their murmurings. She will have an answer to the tyrant'squestion, "Where is the promise of His coming?" She will reply, "Behold the Lord comes with 10,000 of His saints to executejudgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed,and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against
First, "building," and then, "looking" from her watchtower, the Church will defy the powers of evil, confident of victoryat the appearing of her Lord. Brethren, if the darkest times should come, if these four points are diligently maintained weshall be perfectly safe against the cunning assaults of the arch enemy! O servants of the living God, seek with all your heartsthe edification of the saints! Keep your devotions warm, keep your affections pure and keep bright your expectancy, for soshall you stand fast in the tempest! In prospect thereof we may sing with Jude, "Now unto Him that is able to keep you fromfalling, and to present you faultless before the Presence of His Glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior,be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
At this time we take the third of the four exhortations as our text-"keep yourselves in the love of God." This may refer,and I have no doubt it does, to mutual oversight. Christians are to labor to keep each other in communion with God. If theysee a Brother grow cold in his attachment to the Lord, it is their duty to endeavor, by gentle rebukes, consolations and admonitions,to restore the heart of the backsliding one to a proper warmth. "Keep yourselves in the love of God," that is to say-exercisea mutual oversight and practice watchfulness over each other, lest any of you should, by little and little, lose your senseof the love of God. Let not the wolf steal here a lamb and there a sheep, and so diminish your numbers as a Church, but askfor the Spirit's aid that you may keep yourselves and your Brethren near to the great Shepherd, for so shall you be safe.
Mutual oversight will not, however, be the theme of this morning's discourse. I must narrow the text down to a personal duty-leteach man keep himself in the love of God. To many minds, this exhortation will appear to be somewhat unguarded. I am quitecertain that if I were the author of the sentence, my very sound Brothers and Sisters would seriously object to it and wouldsay, "We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation-to exhort us to keep ourselves is useless, carnal, andlegal." To whom I reply-dear Brethren, I am not the author of the phrase and, therefore, if you have any quarrel with it,will you be so kind as to remember that your dispute is with the Holy Spirit and not with me? I find it in the Inspired Volumeand I have no power or wish to blot it out!
Moreover, I find in the Word of God many other exhortations against which the same objection may be brought and I do not intend,either to twist them to mean something else, or to avoid expounding them from fear of being thought unsound. With half aneye, one can see that while in Holy Scripture we are taught that we can do nothing without Christ, we are, at the same time,exhorted to do all sorts of things and are even bid to be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect! If this is inconsistentit is the inconsistency of Scripture and I bow before it and leave others to quibble if they choose. All power to do goodcomes from the Holy Spirit and all will towards good is from the same source, yet are we bid to perform right things as freelyas if we could and would do them of ourselves.
Nor are the exhortations of the Word of God couched in guarded language and hedged round with limiting phrases. Holy Scriptureseldom guards its own utterances, but speaks freely, and whereas men are so fearful lest they should be mistaken that theyfrequently interject parentheses and explanations and so spoil the effect of what they are saying, we find the Holy Spiritspeaking out what He has to say and leaving it to the instructed minds of Believers, themselves, to remember those other Truthsof God which balance the doctrine in hand. We are too fearful about Truth-she needs no armor-her naked beauty is better protectionthan a coat of mail.
As no one thinks of wrapping the sun in a blanket on a winter's day, so we need not anxiously guard and protect the Truthof God-let it shine forth and it will be its own interpreter! Yet look at the connection and you will see that it lends nosanction to the proud idea that a man can keep himself apart from the Grace of God, for the sentence which precedes the textis, "praying in the Holy Spirit." Remember to keep yourselves, but do so by praying in the Holy Spirit,
and so confessing that you are dependent upon His Divine power. The following sentence also lifts my text out of a legal atmosphereby saying, "Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life"-showing that your eyes are to be on Jesus andto the mercy of God and not to yourself-and by no means to any merit or power of your own.
My Brothers, we must never be afraid to exhort one another because of the Scriptural doctrine of the work of the Holy Spirit!This should urge us forward and by no means hold us back. We are not to feel ourselves muzzled and gagged when we preach practicalprecepts because we believe comforting doctrines. Let us speak the whole Truth with a gracious liberty, resting quite assuredthat the Lord can reconcile His own Truth in the hearts and experiences of His people and does not need us to be perpetuallyagitated with the fear of damaging His Truth, as if it were some delicate eggshell china which we might break with a touch,or a cobweb which would be swept away by the movement of our hand. Let us speak the Truth with all boldness as we ought tospeak and say as the text does, "keep yourselves in the love of God."
This implies, however, beloved Friends, that you are in the love of God. It is not an exhortation directed to every man, forsome men are not in the love of God. It is directed to those of you who are in that love to keep yourselves in it. Let me,then, begin by enquiring, are you in the love of God? Not, are you an object of Divine benevolence, for that He exercisestowards all His creatures-but do you know His love in Christ Jesus? Have you believed in Jesus Christ unto eternal life andseen the Father's love beaming in the face of Jesus? If you have believed it, you have also enjoyed it, for the love of Godhas been shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit which is given unto you-and you have been conscious of a joy superiorto anything which this world can create.
Well, then, continue to believe in that love so deep, so strong, so true! Abide, also, in the enjoyment of that love and prayfor more. Do not lose the sense of it by careless living. If you have ever known that love, it is quite certain that you loveGod in return. Therefore continue to love the Lord. This is, probably, the particular meaning of the exhortation before us.The love of God in you is made manifest by the love which you have towards God-and the consequent affection which you feelto all His people. Endeavor, then, to always love God and to love Him more and more. Feed the sacred flame of Divine affectiontill it becomes an all-consuming fire. "Oh, love the Lord all you His saints." With all your heart, with all your soul andall your strength, love the Lord and love your neighbor as yourselves!
Especially cultivate love unto all the saints, for this, also, is the love of God. "Let brotherly love continue." "Walk inlove as Christ, also, has loved you." Keep yourselves in the love of God. You are in that love-you believe it, you enjoy it,you reflect it, you manifest it to others-then continue, both to believe and enjoy it and persevere in displaying and manifestingit in your love to God and your love to men. Two things this morning, and only two. The first will be motives for keepingourselves in the love of God. And the second will be means to assist us in so doing.
I. First, MOTIVES for "keeping yourselves in the love of God." It is as though a courtier, having gained the favor of hissovereign, should receive, upon his entrance into court, this good advice from a friend-"You are now, yourself, in your sovereign'sfavor, so act as to retain your position, that you may never be sent away from his presence and made to occupy a lower place.He is not capricious, but he is jealous, therefore be careful, so you may dwell in the light of his countenance."
Believers are always God's servants, but they are not always smiled upon. Let them so live as never to lose that smile. Whenwe go to the sunny south in the winter for our health, we are advised by the physician to keep ourselves as much as possiblein the sun. We are told to let our rooms look towards the rising sun and to keep clear of sunless streets and courts. Thisis the advice of wisdom, for if you lodge in rooms upon which the sun never shines, you might as well be at home in our ownchilly land. The sun is the great physician and, by basking in his beams, we find healing beneath his wings.
It is even thus with the love of God, "Keep yourselves in it," sun yourselves in it all day long. The flowers teach us this,for when the sun shines upon them, they open themselves and turn their faces towards its light. They love him and they delightto be kissed by his beams and, therefore, they keep themselves as much as they can in his brightness. When trees are plantedin a spot where the sun only reaches them in one direction, they put forth their boughs towards the sun's quarter and seekhis beams. Do you the same! You are in God's love, continue in it, grow towards it, keep yourselves in it! Your Father lovesyou. Do not, like the Prodigal, go away from that love, or forget it, or slight it, or grieve it. Enjoy it, be warmed by itand be sanctified by it evermore.
What is to be the motive for this? It is clear that all the motives which led you to desire God's love at first should leadyou to keep in it. If it is to me-a poor broken-hearted sinner-of the utmost importance to find the love which heals my wounds,then, being healed, it is equally important that I should keep in that love lest I should be wounded again. If being my father'sprodigal child, it was a great thing to get back and once more receive the kiss of love, and hear him acknowledge me as hisson, it must be equally good for me to stay at home and never play the prodigal again. The true son abides in the house foreverand dreads the very idea of going forth from it. You know, Beloved, with what earnestness you were formerly pleaded with thatyou should not rest without the love of God in Christ.
Now, I have but a few minutes, this morning, to spend on any one argument and, therefore, I shall leave it to you to rememberwhat those arguments were and to enforce them upon yourselves. That which is worth getting is worth keeping. If Divine lovewas worth seeking, even if you had been called to lay down your lives in the search, it must be equally worth retaining, costwhat it may. I have heard that many who have been shrewd at making money, have not been able to keep a fortune after theyhave gained it. And I fear there are many Christians who, with much zeal, obtain a high degree of enjoyment of the love ofGod-and become very warm and earnest in the ways of God-but they cannot retain their fervor and, after a while, relapse intolukewarmness.
Many get into the sunlight of full assurance, but they soon leave it and are darkened with doubts and fears. They are chilledwith insensibility and indifference and so they do not keep themselves in the love of God as they should do. Let it not beso with you, but hear your Master's words, wherein He says, "Abide in Me." If love within the soul is worth the getting, itis worth the keeping-continue in it.
Next, we should continue in God's love because it is His due. Brethren, that I should know that God loves me and should rejoicein it-and then should love Him in return-is His due under the Law. This is the substance of His Law to Israel, "You shalllove the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength." And that because He had revealedHis love to Israel-for the preamble of the Commandments runs thus-"I am the Lord your God that brought you out of the landof Egypt and out of the house of bondage." He claims their love because of His love to them.
Much more is it so under the Gospel. That matchless display of Divine mercy should exercise upon us a Divine influence. Itshould be permitted to melt, renew, restrain, constrain and govern us. Receiving its blessings and meditating upon its glories,we ought to be as much affected by it as wax by the flame. Touched with its flames of love, our hearts ought to burn withloving gratitude, as with coals of juniper. See God in the Gospel and not love Him? It is monstrous!
Brothers and Sisters, if you have a part and lot in the Covenant of Grace, the love of God with all subduing power must andwill hold you beneath its sway. That God's love should be felt and returned is a duty, but at the same time a privilege unbounded.Remember that God's Nature makes love to be His due. Such a Character as His engrosses the love of every intelligent and right-mindedcreature. Not to love such an one as God is, would be impossible to renewed hearts! He reveals himself as Father, Son andSpirit, and in each Divine Person displays a sacred form of matchless goodness, so that not to love Him is baseness and profanity.
God's Nature claims it and our nature, also, cannot rest without it-I mean, of course, our regenerate nature. Grace has madeus the children of God and true children must love their Father. It cannot be that the life of God is in your soul if thereis no sense of the Divine love and no return of that love to Him from where it came. As the sparks seek the sun, who is thefather of flame, so in warm affections and communing, the love of God in the soul seeks the God who gave it. You cannot beGod's children and yet not love Him! Well, then, since Law and Gospel, since His Nature and your renewed nature, since Father,Son and Spirit all have claims upon your hearts, oh, if you love the Lord Jesus, "keep yourselves in the love of God."
Remember, too, dear Brethren (and this is a strong argument) that love is the evidence of faith and the Grace by which faithoperates. The faith which saves the soul is always attended by love. It is written, "Faith works by love." "Faith withoutworks is dead," but faith without love is faith without works, therefore faith without love is a dead thing and cannot possiblysave a soul. If you say, "I believe in Jesus Christ," my dear Brother, if that is true, you have proved it already by lovingGod. Therefore prove it, still, by loving on, even to the end! May the ever blessed Spirit help you to do so.
Another argument lies here-the love of God is the spring of all our Graces. I include in the term, "the love of God," bothGod's love to us and our love to Him, for they are very much the same. Let me use one illustration-You have a burning-glassand hold it up before the sun till you focus the rays upon a piece of dry wood and set it on fire. Now, while you see thewood burning to ashes, will you tell me what it is that burns? Does the heat of the sun burn the wood or does the wood burn?The heat which you feel while the wood is burning, is it due to the sun or to the wood? Of course, at first, the fire is purelyand simply the flame of the sun. But afterwards the wood, itself, begins to burn. The sun burns the wood and then the wood,itself, burns. Even so, the love of God comes into our heart and then our heart loves, too, and in both cases, "love is ofGod."
No man is a Christian unless he, himself, loves God with his own heart, but yet our love to God is nothing more nor less thanthe refection of God's love to us-so that it comes to the same thing. The love of God, whether from Him to us or from us toHim, is, practically, one and the same thing. This, I say, we must retain in our souls, because it is the source of everyvirtue. No man can do anything aright if he does not love God. Without love to God, where is zeal for His Glory? Where ispatient endurance for His sake? Where is cheerful obedience to His will? Without love to God where is true knowledge of God?Can any man know a God whom he does not love? Without love to God can any action be acceptable in His sight?
Brothers and Sisters, if you have more love you will have more of every Grace-your love will be the test of the healthinessof your condition. When love burns, the whole of our nature blazes with holy fire, but when love smolders, every Grace islike a smoking flax. Love must be maintained as a primary necessity of the Divine life if we are, indeed, to glorify God.Keep yourself in the love of God, because though your love is all you can give, it is very little. Suppose you loved Christmore than any saint that ever lived, more than any Apostle or martyr? Yet I put it to you-What is the highest supposable lovecompared with the love of Christ to you?
If you regard the excellency of the Character of God, does He not deserve a vastly more intense admiration and affection thanwe have, as yet, been capable of? Our whole heart is all too little, let it not be divided! Daily increasing in love, giveHim all your affections. Consider that if you do not give Him all your love, you have given Him nothing. If you give yourbody to be burned and have not love to God, it profits you nothing. Though I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels,though I should traverse the whole world to preach the Gospel of Christ, though with dauntless courage I should brave thegates of Hell, yet if I loved not God what would it all be but a dead sacrifice which could not be accepted upon His altar?Keep yourselves, then, dear Friends, in the love of God, for it is the least you can do.
Remember, too, that we must give the Lord our love, or else that love will go somewhere else. We are so created that we mustlove something or other. If the Ever-Blessed One does not win our love, the world, the flesh, or the devil will gain it. Theworst witch in all the world is the world herself-and she soon casts her spell over the man who grows chill in his love toJesus. You are hankering after some idol or other, my Brethren, if God is not all in all to you! If His love is not very sweetwithin you and if it does not cause you to love Him intensely, you will fall under the dominion, either of some lust or passionor corruption, or else your heart will be cankered and consumed with the rust of care, covetousness and worldliness. Yourheart cannot be kept from loving-its only safety lies in keeping it in the love of God.
As a motive for loving God, I should remind you that here lies happiness. Without an exception, this is the rule, that hewho loves God most, is happiest. "But there must be exceptions," says one. "If a man is in prison, if he is on the eve ofa cruel death, will love to God fill him with delight?" It has done so many a time! "But if a man rolls in riches, if he isblessed with good health and every comfort of life, surely he can be happy without the love of God in his soul." There isabundant evidence to show that it is not so, for the most favored children of this world become, before long, heart-sick ofits joys. And the more honest among them have declared that they could find no satisfaction in all their possessions.
It scarcely needs a Solomon to tell us that all the world, apart from the love of God, is "vanity of vanities." A Christianat his worst is really more to be envied than a worldling at his best! I would sooner have a dram of the love of God thanbe loaded down with the wealth of nations. When the soul is filled with the love of Christ, it seems lifted beyond ordinarymanhood. It burns with holy fire and, as it glows, it mounts on wings of flames and soars towards Heaven! Love's feet arelike hinds' feet, so that it treads upon the high places of the earth and leaves care and doubt below it, even as the hindsof the mountains leaves the marshes of the plains for those who cannot climb.
The love of God breeds an enthusiasm and a sacred fervor within the soul which lifts men out of themselves and bestows onthem a sort of celestial other-life, a Divine furore, by which the soul is borne up as on eagle's wings and triumphs in unspeakablejoy! This makes them 10 times stronger, braver, grander, happier than they were before. I suppose to make us equal to theangels, we have but to love God more. And to make us superior to the angels, as we shall be in Heaven, there will be nothingmore needed than to fill us with a superior love to that which angels feel.
Brothers and Sisters, this shall be my last argument. Get love to God and keep it, because it will make you like Jesus. JesusChrist, your Lord and Master, dwelt in the love of God and was full of love to God. And, consequently, of love to men. Thismade it His meat and His drink to do His Father's will. The secret of the life of Christ lies in the supremacy of love withinHim. He was, indeed, embodied Love-into His heart no selfishness, ambition, anger, wrath, or any gross or sinister motivehad ever entered. The Prince of this world found nothing in Him, because God had everything in Him. Love shone in His eyesand spoke from His mouth.
The Father's love upheld Him and His own love to the Father covered Him with zeal as with a cloak. Get love, much love, healthylove, sacrificing love and you will be like Jesus-and so you will be fit to dwell with Him in Heaven. Love is the very atmosphereof Paradise, it is the odor of the flowers of the new Eden. Put on your beautiful garments, O bride of Jesus, the garmentsof glory and beauty which become your rank-the garments which the Bridegroom's love has worked out for you! Gird on the sandalsof love, which are fairer than the lily and more precious than the gold of Ophir. Robed in the love of Jesus, you shall shineas if you were clothed with the sun, while your love to Him shall make you fair as the moon in His sight!
Wear love to Jesus as your jewels and your adornments and, when you put them on, take care you never lay them aside, but wearthem evermore, for so shall the King greatly desire your beauty. These are some of the motives out of a mass, but having notime to mention them all, we must leave to your own instructed minds the easy task of arguing for love.
II. Secondly, THE MEANS for calming out the exhortation of the text shall now be considered. "Keep yourselves in the loveof God." I am not going to dwell upon prayer because that is in the sentence before my text. Nor will I, at this moment, insistupon the necessity for the Holy Spirit's aid in this work, for that Truth you all know and believe, and we have frequentlydwelt upon it of late. The text does not make that doctrine prominent and, therefore, I forbear to enlarge upon it. Not becauseI undervalue it, but because, just now, it is not our theme.
"Keep yourselves in the love of God"-how are you to do that? Well, first I should say, Brethren, endeavor to be full of thatlove at this present moment. If I were told that a city was about to be besieged and if I were commanded to keep the peoplesupplied with provisions during the siege, I should lay in a plentiful store, at once, to provide for the famine. So, if youdesire to continue in the love of God, have much of the love of God, now, and pray for more of it. Oh, to know the love ofGod as much as ever it can be known! Be greedy, be hungry, be covetous after it! Store it up, fill your soul full of it asa man would fill his storehouses and granary if he knew that a dearth would be in the land.
Notice that just before my text these words occur-"You, Beloved, building," which means increasing and growing up. The wayto keep yourselves in the love of God is to obtain more and more of it. Love is like a fire which, if it does not consumemore fuel, burns low. You cannot stop where you are-to retain you must annex. Napoleon used to say, "Conquest has made mewhat I am and conquest must maintain me." O Christians, remember that you must advance or backslide! You must build higherand higher! Love must become more and more supreme in your souls, or you will decline. If you would remain warm, be warm now!
Alas, what a little stock of love some Christians have! You may look into their hearts long before you can spy it out. Theyare true Believers and, therefore, there must be some love in their bosoms, but their cruse of oil is almost run out. Thereis just a little at the bottom, hardly enough to cover the wood of the barrel. We ought not to be in so evil a case, for ifwe have so little Grace in prosperous seasons, what shall we do in times of temptation and trial? If the heart is full tooverflowing, there is a likelihood that its stores will hold out. But scant affection makes us fear that it is a transientemotion and not the love which is born from above.
If you desire to keep yourself in the love of God, avoid everything that would dampen your love. Avoid sin, especially, forsin is the poison of love to God. Love of sin is the death of love to God! I mean by sin, not merely the grosser forms ofvice, but everything which has a tendency to tarnish the virgin purity of your soul. I know some Christians who complain
a good deal about their need of love to Jesus and the smallness of their faith, and so on. When I track them to their haunts,I find that they keep ill company and frequent amusements and assemblies where love to Christ is sorely wounded and almostslain. I put it to their own consciences whether they are ever likely to increase their love to Christ by going where Hisname is not adored and His cause is not befriended.
I heard of one who professed to be a Christian, that he claimed to be able to attend the theater and yet to live very nearto God. And I remembered the remark of a minister who said, "When I see great Grace in those who frequent the theater, I shallat once grow prize roses in my coal cellar." Just so! I shall cultivate not only roses, but palms and oranges in the vaultunder my house when that is the case! He who says that gay amusements help him to grow in the love of God utters a lie! Consciencecondemns the worldly professor-he cannot come home from a place of amusement, where the ungodly congregate, without feeling,"I have been where I had no right to be."
I am not now judging the outside world, but I am dealing with the members of our Churches who profess to be separated fromthe world. If a worldling loves worldly amusement, I do not wonder at it, nor wish to deny him his enjoyments. Just as onefeels about the swine, that they ought to have their pig wash, for it suits them, but none of us want to share it, so saywe of the unconverted and their frivolities! But the case is otherwise with the children of God! O man of God, run not withthe multitude! Wantonness, chambering, lewdness and unclean mirth are not for you. No, "let them not be mentioned among youas becomes saints."
I would also have you avoid, as much as possible, the company of those who deaden your spirituality. I like to drop into thehouse of the poorest Christian man whose conversation will edify me. But though a man may be richer than I am, and his companymay be desirable to me in many ways, if I find, on coming out of his house, that he has insinuated doubts into my mind, orthat his language has tainted the purity of my conscience, I am bound to avoid him. If business calls me into connection withhim, I must go, or else I must go out of the world, but I will not seek, as my companion, any man who in any measure takesme off from keeping myself in the love of God.
Neither should we read books which have an injurious effect upon the mind. I wish some of our younger friends would take goodheed to this remark. You have little enough of the love of God in your souls-you do not need to pour cold water on it by emptyingtrashy novels upon it. Go not into the chill, cold air of irreligion and vanity! Brothers and Sisters, put everything asidethat would hinder your loving God and knowing that He loves you. And if you have erred and you find out, this morning, thatyou have done so, do not be angry at my rebuke, nor yet be led to despair of your-self-for the times of your ignorance Godwinks at and forgives!
Go to your heavenly Father and say, "O Lord, help me to make this the rule of my conduct-that whatever prevents my feelingthat You love me, and prevents my loving You, I may withdraw from at once and have nothing more to do with it, for You havebid me keep myself in Your love." If you would love the Lord, meditate much upon what He is and what He has done for you.Your debts to Him are overwhelming-try to feel them and you will love Him because He first loved you. See your daily dependence,your hourly indebtedness and the patience, constancy, faithfulness and tenderness with which He cares for you! Here I neednot enlarge, for you will not fail to do this if you are, indeed, the subjects of Divine Grace.
Next, dear Friends, if you want to be kept in the love of God, follow earnestly the means of Grace. Do not neglect the hearingof the Word, nor the reading of it in private, nor secret prayer, nor the assembling of yourselves together. Come often tothe Lord's Table-you will find it a very blessed means of quickening the pulse of your soul. There are God's appointed ordinancesfor stirring up your love-do not be so proud as to think you can do without them. I fear there are some Christians who areso busy in doing good that they do not allow themselves opportunities of getting good. Incessantly do I urge Christian peoplehere to be engaged in some work for Christ and I would urge it again and again. But some of you young people ought not toabsent yourselves from public worship in order to go and teach in ragged schools or elsewhere-you have not yet enough knowledge,nor enough strength to be able to bear the frequent loss of the instructive ordinances.
And even those of you who can bear to go upon half rations will be wise not to do so, for a man who works so long every daythat he does not sleep enough, or eat enough, will, in the long run, be less capable of labor than if he had attempted lessand had taken more time for the feeding and resting of his body. Do remember that Martha, though she was very busy, was notso much commended as Mary, who sat at Jesus' feet. Be busy as Martha, but be devout as Mary and so
will you keep your heart in the love of God! You will do this very much, too, by communing with the Lord. Never spend a daywithout hearing your Master's voice! Do not come down from your chamber to see the face of man till you have seen the faceof God. Do not let week after week roll by without communion with Heaven.
There is no trading like it-send the ships of prayer to the gold coast of communion with the Lord and they will come backto you with priceless treasures! Hold high communion with the supreme Invisible and your soul will be sure to love Him, fornever man drew near to God without the love of God flowing into his soul. Then I would say next, if you would love God, besure to work for Him. If I wanted a man to love me and I had my choice of two things, either to do something for the man orto let that man do something for me-if my sole object were to secure his love, I know which I would do-I would let him serveme.
If you do a kindness for a man, he may be ungrateful and forget you, but if you let him do something for you, the more hedoes for you the more he will stick to you through life. For this reason, therefore, you will not only love God because ofwhat He has done for you, but you will love Him because you have been allowed to do something for Him. Read the song of Deborahwhen she and Barak had chased away the adversaries. You do not read much in Judges about love to God, but at the end of hersong you find it appearing-"So let all Your enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love You be as the sun when he goesforth in his might."
She felt that she loved God because she had bravely led, with Barak, the host of God, and love to God had been kindled whileshe was battling for Him. Go and teach the ignorant, visit the sick, help the poor and guide those that are out of the way-andthough you thought you did not love Christ, you will soon discover that you do. Laziness is a bolster with which to suffocatelove, but honest service of Jesus Christ is a platform upon which love shows herself in all her beauty and there, also, shegathers her strength. O love the Lord, all you His saints!
And if you need yet another means of keeping in His love, then live in expectation of seeing Him. Nothing inflames a Christian'slove more than feeling how much he owes in the past and how much he expects in the future. Jesus is coming! You are soon tobe with Him! Perhaps before another week is over you will behold His face! Surely you feel, even now, the kindling of warmdesire-a passion for Him springs up within your spirit and you long for the lagging days to fly- that you may be in His arms!Keep yourselves thus in His love. May God help you so to do, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-John 15. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-766, 804, 811.