Sermon 1311. God of the Hills and God of the Valleys
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 27, 1876,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And there came a man of God, and spoke unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus says the Lord, Because the Syrians have said,The Lord is God of the hills, butHe is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into yourhand, and you shall know that I am the Lord." 1 Kings 20:28.
THE Syrians had been defeated by the Israelites whom they despised. This victory had been achieved by so small a number ofmen over so vast a host that the Syrians were driven to the conclusion that there was something supernatural about it andthey ascribed their defeat to the God of Israel. They were right in doing so. Brothers and Sisters, let not these heathenshame us! They knew to whom the crown of the victory belonged and, little as they understood Jehovah, yet they recognizedthat His right hand and His holy arm had gotten for His people the victory. Now, if the Lord has prospered you, if in yoursouls peace and joy are reigning, or if you have enjoyed success in Christian service, take heed that you do not lift up yourhorn on high and take honor to yourselves!
Render all the glory to God, to whom it is most justly due. Let that Psalm, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Your namegive glory," be always on your heart and often on your tongue. The tendency of the human heart towards pride is very strongand Satan, the great usurper, is always eager to stir us up to rob God of His Glory. Yet nothing is more fatal to peace, nothingmore sure to provoke God, nothing more certain to bring upon us times of disaster and distress! "The Lord your God is a jealousGod," and He is jealous of this thing, among others-He will not give His Glory to another! He will not allow those whom Heuses for His purposes to ascribe their victories unto themselves! The Lord, alone, must be exalted. Whatever has been doneby us, the great Worker who used us must have the praise. We have been nothing more than the axe in the hand of God if wehave felled the cedar! We have been nothing more than the net if we have brought the fish to shore. Unto Him, therefore, bepraise forever!
So far let us learn from the heathen Syrians. While the Syrians thus ascribed their defeat unto Jehovah, they made a greatmistake as to His Character, for they supposed Him to be a local God, like their own imaginary deities. They had gods forthe mountains and gods for the lesser hills, gods for the rivers, gods for the fields, gods for their houses, gods for theirgardens and these so-called gods were powerless out of their own sphere. They imagined the only living and true God to bea god like their idols. Let us abhor this dishonoring of God and avoid the sin by never daring to make unto ourselves a godafter our own ideas.
The art of god-making is very common among men. Instead of going to Revelation to see what God is and humbly believing inHim as He reveals Himself, men sit down and consider what sort of God He ought to be and, in so doing, they are no wiser thanthe man who makes a god of mud or wood or stone! If we make a god in our own thoughts, after our own ideas, we have virtuallymade a similitude of Him to whom no creature can be compared. We have tried to comprehend the Incomprehensible and limit theInfinite-and in so doing we are idolaters, for we have made the likeness of something that is in our own mind and, consequently,in the earth beneath-and even though it is not a material image, we have broken in spirit the First and Second Commandments.
No man knows what God is, save only as He has revealed Himself-thoughts and imaginings apart from this are idolatrous. Believewhat He reveals, but do not, after the fashion of the Syrians, begin to conceive of Him according to the darkness of yourown feeble and foolish mind! Benhadad's counselors were led in their error to utter a blasphemy. They said, "He is the Godof the hills, but not the God of the valleys," and I know not into what profanities our own proud thoughts may lead us, also!It is worthy of notice that because of this blasphemy of the Syrians, God was pleased to
deliver His people Israel. It is not the only time, but one of many, in which the blasphemies of the adversary have workedgood for the people of God.
You might have supposed that God would have said, "It matters nothing what these ignorant heathens say. Who cares for theirslanderous falsehoods?" But our God is jealous-He is ever represented in Scripture as being tender of His own Glory and, therefore,though Israel was guilty, and Ahab, their king, was detestable, yet God determines that Ahab and Israel shall smite Benhadadand Syria because of what Syria had said. I would invite all of you who tremble for the Ark of the Lord to draw courage fromthe evil language of the ungodly. When the infidel scoffs at God, you are sorry for his sin, but you may take heart and hopethat, perhaps, God will now interpose. "It is time for You, Lord, to work, because they have made void your Law."
When you see a skeptical philosophy growing, as it is at this day, more and more daring and insulting towards the Truth ofGod, do not be downhearted because of that, but rather say, "They will provoke the Lord, and by-and-by He will pluck His righthand out of His bosom-He will rend the heavens and come down and make the mountains to flow at His feet-He will give to HisGospel great power, so that His Truth shall be triumphant and His adversaries shall know that, verily, there is a God in Israel."As choice flavors are by a happy chemistry extracted from poisonous substances, so may we draw comfort from the blasphemousletter of Rabshakeh and from the impious language of Benhadad, for God will be provoked against them and will come forth tothe avenging of His chosen nation and the establishment of His own cause.
Now, this morning I have one lesson to teach, which is this-As the Syrians fell into a great and blasphemous sin by thinkingthat God was a local God, a God of the hills and not of the valleys-we may fall into much evil by the same surmising. Thesubject of this morning's discourse will be a warning against imitating the Syrians by limiting the Holy One of Israel underany circumstances whatever. We may do so on several occasions and in several ways.
I. WE MAY LIMIT THE LORD BY MISTRUSTING THE SUCCESS OF HIS CAUSE. We are very often tempted to tremble for the Ark of theLord and to stretch out a presumptuous hand to steady it as Uzzah did. Our fathers tell us, and we are getting a little intotheir modes of thinking, that we have fallen upon evil days and degenerate times. We have seen them shake their heads andcall the present age a day of blasphemy and rebuke. And although we have not quite thought so, for there has been enough ofyouth left in us, still, to look more hopefully upon things and we have said, and we think we are not wrong in saying, thatthese are good times and hopeful-and that there are many things which should make the Christian wear a cheerful aspect andrejoice in the hope of better times.
Yet we have, in a measure, shared in their fears. The temptation is at times heavy upon us to think that the Gospel cannotconquer the world, that the Truth of Jesus cannot spread in the midst of the thick darkness which surrounds us, that the goodold cause is falling into a desperate condition and that, perhaps, the victory we have looked for will not come, after all.Here let us convict ourselves of having thought God to be the God of the hills and not the God of the valleys, for we havegenerally based our fears upon our perception that the front of the battle has changed! In the olden times the Church of Godwas persecuted beyond measure-the furnace was heated seven times hotter.
Destruction was the word-the emperors of Rome determined to stamp out Christianity as though it were a dis-ease-and they vowedto put an end to its very name. But the Church of God triumphed over all opposition. Like a good ship in stormy waters, shemounted the waves which sought to engulf her and made headway by the winds which howled around her. We all perceive that Godwas with His Church in those tempestuous times, and yet we are apt to fear that the petty persecutions suffered by our villageChurches and the cold contempt that is often poured upon Christian men in polite society will prove too much for the faithful.God, who could help Christians to play the man in the amphitheatre at Rome and enable them to die at the stake, or on thegridiron, is yet mistrusted!
And we dare to suspect that He will not gain the victory in the battle which is waged by a few poor peasants in a villageagainst a popish priest and a persecuting squire? For shame! Do we really dream that He is the God of the hills and not theGod of the valleys? We have heard good men argue mistrustfully from another point of view. They say that persecution, afterall, does not hurt the Church-it only winnows her and drives away her chaff-and these are far worse days, for prosperity underminespiety. They say Christians take things easy and there are so many false professors, so much of a name to live while spiritualdeath abounds-all of which is deadly to the Church of God. Depend upon it,
since Satan could not kill the Church by roaring at her like a lion, he is now trying to crush her by hugging her like a bear,they say!
There is truth in this, but it is not all the truth. Do you really think, my Brothers and Sisters, that God cannot preserveHis Church in the particular trial through which she is now passing? Is He the God of the hills of persecution, but not theGod of the valleys of prosperity? Chase away the thought! Besides, you are in great fear, my Brother, because a new heresyhas sprung up, or an old one has revived. Dreadful doctrine dismays you. You are saddened by teaching which assails the vitalityof Christianity and is so insidious that it is hard to meet it, and you say, "Any other than this, the Church could have resisted,but this will deaden her very soul-it eats as does a canker." What? My Brethren, are you now afraid? Do you not remember whenthe Church was full of Gnostic heresy and when, afterwards, Arianism afflicted
Have you not read of the times when the Deity of Christ was almost universally denied and yet the Gospel lived on? Every Truthof God was, in its turn, assailed, and the professing Church, itself, for centuries was almost universally apostate! And yetthe Gospel is not dead, nor its voice silenced! The Lord was the God of the hills and put these heresies down and trod themunder foot as straw is trod for the dunghill! And let new heresies come, let men assail the Gospel with fresh errors-God isGod of the valleys as well as God of the hills-and He will defeat them one by one as they arise! Ritualism, Spiritualism andMaterialism will go the way of all the other adversaries of the Lord-into smoke shall they consume away.
"But," says one, "infidelity is now so rampant! It takes the form of science and philosophy and calls into its aid the verythoughtfulness of man which once seemed to be on the side of the Gospel! There is cause for great alarm." Yet will we notfear, for many infidelities have shone forth and have died out as meteors of the night. They come like shadows and like shadesthey vanish! As successive summers have brought forth new harvests of leaves upon the trees of the forest, which in the followingautumns have faded and gone, even so new infidelities have flourished and decayed, but God's eternal Truths shine on the sameas ever, like the sun in the heavens, without variableness or shadow of turning! Trust in the Lord forever! He who shamedthe first races of blasphemers against His holy cause and turned their craftiness into folly and made the wise men mad cando the same, again, yes, and will do it even unto the end.
If the Church is assailed in any novel method by new modes of Satanic influence, or fresh inventions of human craft and philosophy,let us never entertain a doubt concerning the cause whose banner Christ has stained with His heart's blood, and whose honorthe eternal power and Godhead of the Almighty are sworn to maintain! Let the times shift and change as they may, but God ismaster of the times! Circumstances alter cases, but they do not alter God! New modes of attack may threaten us with new fears,but they do not really involve any new dangers, for God, who knows all things, can meet the new adversary and foil him asHe did His foes of old.
I have known this despondency of heart arise from another cause. "Ah," say some, "I do not know what is to become of the Church,because in those olden times which you have mentioned, it is true she had great enemies, but then she had great men in hermidst. Look at the Fathers and how they fought! Remember the Reformers and the men who took up their descending mantles, thegodly and learned Puritans! Consider the great names of Church history and where do you find such men in these days? Havewe not fallen on an age of little men and nobodies?" Well, suppose we have. I do not anticipate any ill results from that,since great men are only men, and little men are still men! The God who used those men whom we call great, first made themgreat! They were nothing of themselves and He is just as able to use the men whom we call little, and to make them so efficientthat the next generation will think them as great as those who went before!
The so-called greatness or littleness of men must, after all, depend on the power of God which is shown in them. I dare tohope that if the instruments grow less and less likely to claim the honor of success for themselves, they are growing moreand more fit to be used by the Lord our God! For this reason I look for even greater displays of Divine power in this timeof supposed decline. He is the God of the hills and truly, He is the God of Augustine and Luther, the God of Knox and Whitfield!And He is the God of the valleys, also, and, therefore, our God and our confidence! He can use the men of our own time tobuild up His Church and convert the nations!
"Ah," says one, "I do not so much lament the lack of eminent men as the absence of the grand old spirit of the early Church."What was that spirit, do you think? There was a freshness, an enthusiasm, a heroism about the first Christians
which we do not see now. I grant you there was-but if it were real power, from where did it come but from the Holy Spirit?And has the Holy Spirit ceased to illuminate, quicken and strengthen the minds of men? Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?Do the heavens no longer drop with dew? Is the horn of anointing oil emptied? Is there no sacred breath with which to fanthe gracious flame in the Church? No, my Brothers and Sisters, the Spirit of God has not ceased to work! If we cannot manifestthe enthusiasm of the Church's youth, we will cultivate the undying perseverance of the Church's manhood and strive and struggleon, God helping us, till our Lord appears!
The day must and shall come when the Truth of God shall prevail and the God of Truth shall be exalted and to the moles andbats the demon gods and their images shall be cast forever. Dishonor not your God by unbelief, faint-hearted soldiers! Bringnot defeat upon yourselves by your cowardly fears! Believe in God and so shall you be established! God waits till you believein Him-and when His whole Church shall, with brave confidence, be sure of victory-victory shall certainly come to her! TheLord increase our faith and, from now on in this respect, let us never dream that Jehovah, the God of the hills, is not theGod of the valleys!
II. WE MAY COMMIT THE SIN OF SYRIA BY DOUBTING THE HELP WHICH THE LORD WILL RENDER
TO US. Sometimes we are brought into sore trouble and then we imagine that the Lord will not help us as He helped the oldsaints of whom we read in the Bible. We can believe all about Abraham and Moses and David-but we question whether the Lordwill help us. We look at those men as the great hills and we regard ourselves as the valleys-and we dare not hope that theLord will deal with us as He did with His servants in the days of yore. Now, don't you think this is making God to be a localGod? Ought we not have the same faith in God as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had?
And if we had such confidence, should we not see same wonders? Not miracles, perhaps, but something quite as marvelous? Godwould perform His purpose by ordinary Providences, but the purpose would be quite as surely achieved as if miracles were worked!Let us never admit the thought that the Divine promises are now fictions and that Divine aid will not be given. The God ofthe Patriarchs and Prophets faints not, neither is He weary-He is our God from generation to generation-and is the same yesterday,today, and forever. Now that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, the Lord has not become less gracious! He still shows Himselfstrong on behalf of those who trust Him and there is no reason for doubt.
When we get into deep trouble we are apt not only to forget the days of old, but even to overlook the Lord's former lovingkindnesses to ourselves, or to regard them as exceptional cases, the like of which we cannot again look for. We unbelievinglythink, "The Lord helped me when I put my trust in Him at first, but I cannot expect Him to help me now. In my young days Iwas full of vigor-the Lord was very gracious to me and worked wonders. But now I am less vigorous, my youthful energy is failing,I cannot cope with difficulties as I once did, and I cannot expect the Lord to help me now." I am almost ashamed to mentionsuch fears! They are utterly unworthy of a Christian, and he who has indulged them ought most heartily to repent of them!Has the Lord changed? Because you are older and feebler is He weaker? Does He only help us when we can help ourselves, andleave us in our extremity? God forbid!
He said, "I am God. I change not. Even to gray hairs I am He. I have made and I will bear, even I will carry." Yet so it is-wereadily imagine that the difference of time alters the hope of Divine deliverance! Oh fools, and slow of heart, thus to mistrustImmutable Love and Infallible Wisdom! In every time of need God will work our deliverance, for having loved His own, He lovesthem to the end. The circumstances of our troubles, also, form occasions for unbelief when we are in that vein. "The Lordhelped me when I was very poor," says one, "and if I were poor, again, I could trust Him concerning it. But now I am passingunder slander and reproach which is far more bitter to my soul." Your heart unbelievingly supposes that now you will fallby the hand of the enemy, but, dear Brother, do you really think that God can only help us in certain sets of troubles andthat when we enter upon new trials we shall find Him fail us?
"Oh, but the scene is so changed! I could trust Him if I had to suffer as I did before, but this is so surprising to me."Is it also new to God? You are perplexed-is He perplexed? You are now at a nonplus-is He nonplussed? Think this over and donot imagine that He who could help you yesterday will leave you today or tomorrow. If your condition alters for the worsea thousand times, it will signify little if your faith can but maintain its hold upon the unchanging God! I have even knownChristians to say, "I cannot go to God about my trials, they are so ordinary and commonplace. I can pray about spiritual things,but may I pray about temporals? I can take my sins and burdens of serious care to Him, but may I pray about little domestictroubles?"
How can you ask that question? He tells you the hairs of your head are all numbered- surely those are not spiritual things!You are told to cast all your cares on Him. Is He the God of the hills of the higher spiritual interests of His children andis He not the God of the valleys of their hourly troubles? Does He not bid us ask Him to give us, day by day, our daily bread?Has He not given His angels charge to bear us up lest we dash our foot against a stone? Has He not said of His people thatthey shall lack no good thing? Oh, what mistakes unbelief makes about God and what questions it raises which ought never tobe raised at all!
Troubled One, you may go to your heavenly Father about anything, about everything! He will help you in every trial whereveryou may be! Though the thing is little, yet remember everything is little to Him and the difference between an archangel anda sparrow is not so very great with God. The difference between the ruling of a kingdom and the guidance of your Sunday schoolclass may seem great to you, but it is almost invisible to God, to whom the nations are as a drop in a bucket! As you feelyou could trust Him with great troubles, so be sure that you rely upon Him as to the minor ones. Yes, tell Him all your griefsand cast all your burdens upon Him. Truly He is the God of the hills, but He is the God of the valleys, too.
Sometimes this fear that God will not help us arises from a change in our inward experience. "Oh," said one, "I have beenin deep waters of soul-trouble before now and the Lord has helped me. I have fought with dragons and done battle with thePrince of Darkness in the valley of the shadow of death, and Jesus was with me. I do not wonder at it, for the fight seemedworthy of a God! But now it is only a little thorn in the flesh that worries me and I hardly dare beseech the Lord to removeit, or help me to bear it. I have experiences of a different sort, altogether, from that of former days. I grow cold, torpid,indifferent, careless. I do not seem to live the grand struggling life I once lived when I was familiar with gigantic spiritualdifficulties and tasted exalted delights!
"Can I expect God to help me now? Will He awake me from my lethargy? Will He stir me to devotion when I feel that I cannotpray? Will He bring back my spiritual feelings when I feel numbed and dead to all but pain? Can the Lord revive Laodicea?Can He heat, again, the lukewarm? Will He quicken such a dead lump, such a mass of lifeless flesh as I am?" O my Brothersand Sisters, do not ask such questions! There is no condition into which a Believer can fall but God can and will deliverhim out of it! There is no trial or temptation, though it is low, degrading, base, but what the Lord can as much assist youwhen laboring under it as in the more sublime struggles of the most noble life. Commit yourself to God and entertain no fearsas to His all-sufficiency and faithfulness.
But you say, "I would not entertain any of these fears if I were like eminent saints. But I am far inferior to the godly menof whom I read and hear. I am obscure and insignificant. I have little talent and even less Divine Grace. I am a nobody."Be it so, but is our God the God of the hills and not the God of the valleys? Will God help Oliver Cromwell and not help aprivate soldier who trusts in God and keeps his powder dry? Will God aid a Whitfield and not help a poor local preacher holdingforth upon the green? Will He assist the earnest minister who addresses thousands and desert the simple girl who teaches adozen little children the old, old story of the Cross? Is this after the fashion of God, to patronize the eminent and neglectthe lowly?
Does Jesus despise the day of small things? Surely you have misread the Scriptures if you think so, for the Christ of theGospels took note of a widow's two mites and was pleased with the hosannas of boys and girls! He rejoiced that His Fatherrevealed His great things not to the wise and prudent, but to babes! And He called to His work, not the high priests and thephilosophers, but the fishermen and the publicans! So do not, because you see a difference between yourself and others, anda change in the circumstances of your trials and all the rest of it, begin to think that the Heavenly Father will desert you,or else I shall again have to tell you that He is God of the valleys as well as the hills!
III. IT IS VERY EASY TO FALL INTO THIS SIN BY COMPARING AND CONTRASTING THE EXPERIENCES OF OURSELVES AND OTHERS. Some mindsare rugged and craggy, broken up and tossed about. In them you are astounded by seeing great rifts of conflict and terriblechasms of unbelief. Their hearts wear awful scars where the tempests of trial have swept all before them and laid bare theroots of their being. And then, on the other hand, they show such wonderful elevations of thought. Their soul mounts aloftbeyond the clouds into the blue serene sky where God dwells, among the things unlawful for a man to utter. Everything aboutthem is stupendous, majestic, sublime, or amazing-and little men who have heard of their awful experiences suspiciously enquirewhether such feelings and conflicts can be consistent with the Grace of God.
Yet who would say off the bleak and desolate mountains that the Lord is not there? Was He not on Sinai? Did He not come fromParan? Is not the strength of the hills the heritage of the Lord? Among the cloud-capped Alps, Jehovah's voice is often heardand the rocks are split by His flames of fire. The thoughtful soul may often hear the rustle of the hem of Jehovah's garmentsin the stillness of those lone hills. God is in rugged souls, in the ravines of a broken heart, and in the caves of dreaddespair! He overrules the whirlwind of temptation and the tempests of Satanic blasphemy, and soon He is seen in the bow ofhope and the sunshine of full assurance. The Lord is in every heroic struggle against sin and in that eager clinging to HisWord which is seen in so many tempted souls. Yet men judge their fellows and say, "The Lord cannot be there," even where Heis most mightily!
On the other hand, I have known persons fashioned in this rough mold look down on the gentle, quiet life of the useful, lessthoughtful and perhaps less intelligent Christian, who is like the valley, and they have said, "Lord, what shall this mando? He does not sympathize with my soul-troubles. He has had little or no law work. He does not understand my grand conceptionsof truth. He enters not into the deep things of God." Remember that this may be true and yet the Brother may be a far betterman than you are! He may be one of the fields which the Lord has blessed-a low lying valley-cultivated by God's Spirit tillit yields golden sheaves by which multitudes are fed! If He blesses many by his quiet menial life, who are you that you shouldcondemn him?
Brother from the valley, do not misjudge the dweller in the mountain and inhabitant of the crag! Do not look down with contemptupon the tenant of the plain, for God is in both your lives! God is in the stormy life of the afflicted and God is in therestfulness of the humble and contented. In the tried life and in the useful life God is variously but equally manifested,and I beg you always to see God as far as He can be seen in all His people. Recognize the virtues of your Brothers and Sisterswherein you are deficient, and not the Graces wherein they fail. Condemn not the man whom God has approved. He is God of thehills and He is God of the valleys-take your delight in both.
Then about yourself, dear Friend, do not mournfully complain, "Alas, I have never experienced what I perceive has been thelot of my Brother in the Lord. He has had a deep, rugged, amazing experience of fights with the devil and of contests withhis own corruptions-I know very little of these matters." Do not desire to know them, for if you know Christ it will suffice!Or if, on the other hand, you are much buffeted and tossed about, do not condemn yourself and say you are no child of Godbecause you have not the constant enjoyment, the sweetness and rest of other Believers-it is enough for you, too, that Christis yours! You are a crag Christian, be satisfied to have your feet upheld upon your high places! God is the God of the hillsas surely as He is God of the valleys.
Thus I have shown how, in a third way, we may fall into this error, but time fails me and I cannot enlarge. May the Holy Spiritfurther instruct you in all wisdom and prudence.
IV. A VERY COMMON SHAPE OF THIS SIN IS LIMITING THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. Listen to this, you
who would gladly be saved but fear you cannot be! I have known you to limit the power of the Gospel by supposing that it willonly save certain sinners. You heard of a great drunk who was converted, of a swearer who turned to God and you said to yourself,"I do not wish to be a drunk or a swearer, but I have seen many of that sort of people saved, and I, who have led a morallife, have not been renewed in heart-it makes me envy them."
Dear Friend, why should you not, also, obtain salvation? Is Jesus the Savior of open and gross sinners and not of the moresecret offenders? Is the very foulness of sin an aid to salvation? Impossible! There is certainly no need of adaptation inthe Gospel to meet the case of the naturally moral and excellent-and you must not think there is! Jesus, who saves publicansand harlots, also blesses the seeker of the Truth of God and sows the honest and good ground. When you read of such-and-sucha person who has been a great offender being suddenly struck down and turned to God, you do not wish that you were like hein his sin, but you could endure that evil if there might but be in you as manifest a change as can be seen in him. I knowthe feeling, but it is based upon an error and tends to foster the idea that more of God's Grace is displayed in one casethan in another.
True conversion is in all cases the work of God and, consequently, a display of Omnipotent power. The Lord presents the Gospelto every creature and whoever believes in Jesus, whether he has been a gross offender or only a common sinner, shall findsalvation through the blood of the Atonement! Jesus is not the Savior of a class, but His power is unto all and upon all themthat believe. To men of all sorts, His Grace extends-He blesses both hills and valleys. "Ah," says another, "I could believein Jesus, whatever my sins had been or had not been, if I had known the awful conviction and
painful sense of sin which some have known! I read of one that he was ready to lay violent hands upon himself when tormentedby conscience! I have never felt like that. I know that sin is a dreadful thing, but I do not feel driven to despair by itas I have heard others say, or else I could believe."
Friend, do you think that Christ's ability to save depends upon your fearful apprehensions of your guilt? O Soul, He is notthe God of the hills, only, but of the valleys, also! He saves a Saul of Tarsus, whom He strikes down as a proud hill sinner,but He also saves Lydia, whose heart He opens to His Truth, as one of the dwellers in the plain. Those who are gently broughtto Christ, if they do but rest in Him, are as truly saved as those who are driven to Him by fierce terrors and terrible forebodingsof the wrath to come! Jesus is essential to every saving experience, but no form of experience is essential to fit a man forJesus.
"Yet," cries another, "I am afraid that the Lord Jesus will never conquer the kind of sin which has set up its dominion inmy soul. I believe He can drive out of men their great and crying sins, but my tendencies are more subtle and injurious. Ifeel a dreadful indifference stealing over my spirit-where shall I find awakening and enlivening?" I answer, you will findhelp to overcome your sin just where the blasphemer and the drunk find theirs, namely, in Christ Jesus and the sanctifyingpower of His Holy Spirit. Jesus can overcome one sin as well as another. There is no sin in the whole catalog but what theblood of Christ can wash its guilt away-and the water which flowed with the blood can take away its power over the soul! Jesuscan give us the double deliverance, both from the criminality and the bondage of sin, whether the sin is of the mountain orof the valley! Only trust Him, and the dominion of sin shall be broken.
Christian people, I shall now speak to you and remind you that too frequently when you are about to tell of Jesus and Hislove, you feel a desire to select your hearers. In your heart you dream that certain persons are more conquerable by the powerof God than others. "It is of no use trying after the conversion of So-and-So," you say. You put certain characters down onthe black list and regard them as hopeless, while for others you feel more hopeful and work among them with more spirit. Haveyou not, in a measure, fallen into the sin of Syria?
Is not your Christ, evidently, the God of the hills and not the God of the valleys? Your business is to tell the Gospel toevery sort of sinner, to every class of mind, and to every rank of persons. And when you do so, believing that the Gospelin the hands of the Holy Spirit has an Omnipotent power and works on all sides, and among all classes of people, then shallyou see the hand of God working mightily with you!
V. Upon the last point we must only give a hint or two. WE CAN, AFTER THE FASHION OF SYRIA, LIMIT
THE POWER OF GOD BY NOT EXPECTING HIS DIVINE AID TO BE GIVEN TO US IN HIS SERVICE. When we
are urged to labor for the Lord we are tempted to excuse ourselves upon various grounds. We speak as if we could not reckonupon Divine assistance. Often the plea is that gifts and talents are scanty with us. This may be quite true, but it does notprevent our being used of the Lord for His gracious purposes! God is the God of the many-gifted and gracious man, but He isalso the God of the one-talented man who seeks to glorify Him. We are accepted according to what we have-not according towhat we have not.
"But I have such peculiarity of disposition! I am so retiring that I cannot hope for a blessing." Brothers and Sisters, isthis an argument which will hold water? Is God the God of the impudent and bold, but not the God of the modest? Is Grace givento bronze faces, but not to those who are meek and lowly? I am sure it is not so! Cease from such vain excuses. "Ah, but mysphere of life is a very difficult one. I dwell among such strange people. I find no sympathy and very few back me up in whatI attempt." Ah, you would like a sphere made on purpose for you, would you not? And when you had it, there would be no necessityfor your entering upon it, because all the good would be done already! Here is a lamp well lit! It objects to be placed whereit is dark. It would like to be hung up in the sunshine. But what is the good of a lamp in the daylight? And what is the useof a Christian in a place where everything is already as he desires it to be?
If the servant of the Lord is wise, he will look at the needs of the people as a call for his labors! He will regard disadvantagesas advantages, and difficulties as things to be overcome. Indeed, to the Believer, even impossibility is only another namefor a matter in which the power of God is more than ordinarily to be manifested in answer to believing prayer! The man whoknows his God is strong and performs great exploits, judges all things to be alike easy with the Lord-he knows nothing ofa God of the hills who is not, also, God of the valleys! "Ah," says one, "but I cannot expect God to bless me, for I feelso unworthy." Do you suppose, then, that those whom God greatly blesses are worthy? If you ever meet with a man who feelsworthy to be blessed, he is the very person whom God does not bless at all! The most fa-
vored feel most their unworthiness of such favors. Your sense of unworthiness must not be taken as a reason why God cannotbless you! It may, rather, be regarded as, itself, a blessing.
"Still," you say, "I do not know how it is, but I feel such a trembling about my work and the place in which I live, and thepeople among whom I labor." Now, to be brief, this feeling is your great hindrance and you must get rid of it! There is noreason for trembling if you look the matter in the face. Has God sent you? Then God is with you and why should you fear? Ifyou give yourself up to God, entirely, desiring that He should use every atom of you exactly as He pleases-and where He pleases,then there can be no cause for fear. All things are equally possible with God and every sphere is equally hopeful when Godleads the way! Every time, every age and every man are all in the hands of the Omnipotent and eternal Lord! If God sends youto prophecy to dry bones with Ezekiel, or to preach to Ninevites with Jonah, He will be with you in either case! And you,Brother, will be quite as happy in your preaching as if He sent you to expound the Scriptures to Bereans or tell of Jesusto devout and honorable women.
Your surroundings should not be the cause of fear to you, for they are of small weight in the scale. Is the Father with you?Is Jesus with you? Is the Holy Spirit with you? Then though you are one man, like Samson, the lone champion, and have no weaponto fight with except that which your enemies compare to an ass's jawbone, yet lay hold of it, Brother, and throw yourselfupon the whole army of foes-and heaps upon heaps shall they lie before you! Greater is He that is for you than all they thatare against you. "Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a
Do I hear you sigh, "Would God I could get to this faith and stay there." I pray the Lord to help you, for if you believethe utmost you can concerning the Lord, it will not be one whit too much! If you trust Him most implicitly, you will not trustHim too fully. You shall often be ashamed of your unbelief, but never of your hope! You shall often have to blush to thinkyou doubted, but never because you trusted! Nobody shall ever meet you, not even a devil, and say, "You fool, you have reliedon the Lord too much!" Time will prove otherwise-therefore rest in the God of the valleys and in the God of the hills-andglory in Him forever and ever!
It is possible for unconverted men to fall into the sin of which we are speaking and I would like to give them this cautionbefore dismissing them. Do any of you unconverted ones hope to escape from the punishment which God will bring upon the ungodly?If you do, your reasons are vain and will turn out to be lies! God punished Pharaoh and others in this life and He will punishall the ungodly in the life to come. As surely as He smote sinners of old, He will smite you before long. You may say, "Iam not a thief or a drunk." Very well! But He who is the God of the hills is the God of the valleys, and if you remain unregenerate,even though you have never been an open offender, you shall be visited for your heart sins!
God will smite the valley sinners as well as the hill sinners, and though you say, "I have always attended the House of Godand used the outward means," yet assuredly, unless you believe in Jesus, God, who smites the thoughtless heathen, will smitethe yet more guilty hearer of the Word who rejects the blood of Christ! God will deal out equal justice to all mankind. Heis the God both of the hills and of the valleys, and no impenitent sinner shall escape the rod of His Justice! If you believenot on Christ you shall be lost, whoever you may be! If you will now trust Jesus you shall be saved, whether you dwell inthe hills or the valley! God grant you Grace to believe at once, for Christ's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-1 Kings20:1-30. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-92, 212, 499.