Sermon 1358. All the People at Work for Jesus
DELIVERED ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, MAY 9, 1877,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT
CHRIST CHURCH, WESTMINSTER BRIDGE ROAD.
[On Behalf of the London Missionary Society.]
I HAVE taken two texts from two successive chapters of the book of Joshua. The first is from Joshua the seventh, at the third verse. The spies who were sent to Ai returned to Joshua and said to him, "Let not all the people go up; but let about two or threethousand men go up and smite Ai." This policy led to a disastrous defeat and our other text gives us the Lord's command concerningthe new attack. You will find it in the eighth of Joshua and the first verse-"The Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be dismayed: take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai; see,I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land."
The two texts may be condensed into-first, the advice of the spies, to employ only a part of the people in the assault uponAi-"Let not all the people go up." And, secondly, the command of God to let every fighting man go forth to the war-"Take allthe people of war with you." Brethren, like Israel, we are called to war and we have a greater than Joshua at our head, inwhose name we conquer! There is an inheritance which as yet has been held by the adversary and in the name of God we haveto drive him out. We are likely to experience difficulties very similar to those which were met with by the tribes and I doubtnot that their history, (is it not written for our learning?), will prove exceedingly interesting to us if we have a mindto consider it.
We shall meet with the same defeats as they did if we fall into the same sins. And we shall win like victories if we are obedientto the commands which God has given us, which are very similar to those addressed to Israel of old. As in a glass we see ourselvesin the 12 tribes, from the first day even until now, and in the texts before us there is a lesson for us, which may God, byHis Grace, enable us to learn. I pray the Holy Spirit to illuminate our minds while we read in the book of the wars of theLord and as soldiers of Christ learn from warriors of old time.
I. Let us consider THE ADVICE OF THE SPIES which led to such a shameful defeat. And here we shall have to deal with the errorof supposing that only a part of the Church will be sufficient to perform the work of the whole-that a large proportion maybe idle-and that the rest will be quite enough to fight the Lord's battles. I feel it to be an error which, though not perhapstheoretically held by any of us, is practically to be seen abroad in our Churches and needs to be met and put to an end.
In Joshua's day this error sprang up among the Israelites because, on account of their sins, God was displeased with them.The commencement of the chapter tells us that the Lord God was angry because the children of Israel had committed a trespassin the accursed thing. Because of the sin of Achan, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people. That was the realreason of their defeat before Ai, but out of that secret cause grew the more manifest source of defeat-because God was displeasedwith them, they were left to themselves and, therefore, they adopted a fatal policy. When God is in the midst of a Church,He guides its counsels and directs the hearts of men to go about His work in the wisest manner.
Is it not an old saying that, "Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad?" And is not the heathen proverb the shadowof the fact that men become foolish when they have broken the commands of God and thus they are chastened for one fault bybeing permitted to fall into another? Even upon the Lord's own people a measure of judicial blindness may come. You may dependupon it that when it becomes a doctrine that only special classes of men are to be expected to work in the Church, there issome great wrong in the background!
It is that Church which most of all has fallen into this fallacy and has drawn the sharpest line between those called theclergy and the poor unfortunate laymen, who, perhaps, may do something for God, but who cannot be expected, or, indeed, allowedto do anything in particular. In that Church, I say, the deadliest errors have found a home! We, too, may take it for grantedthat when we begin to leave Christian work to be performed by a minister, or the visitation of the
poor to be solely done by a paid missionary, we have some Achan in the camp with a goodly Babylonian garment hidden in histent.
There must be an accursed thing somewhere or other which has caused us to be left to so gross a folly! Either worldliness,or lukewarmness, or love of ease, or deep declension of heart must lie at the root of this slovenly and sluggish policy. Itis not God's mind that it should be so and He has evidently left us to ourselves when this fatal method is adopted. When theHoly Spirit rests upon the Church, this folly is practically avoided. No, it is not even thought of! God grant to the Churchesrepresented here today that they may walk in such soundness of doctrine and have such spirituality of life that they may befull of the Divine Presence and never dream for a moment of sending only a portion of their members out to war and leave therest to sit still! We cannot leave the battles of our Lord to be fought by mercenary troops! The whole army of men made willingin the day of the Lord's power must go out under the command of our Divine Joshua to meet the foe!
Furthermore, this evil policy arose out of presumption engendered by success. Just a little while ago all Israel had marchedaround Jericho for seven days and on the seventh day, when they shouted, the city walls fell flat to the ground! Perhaps theybegan to say, "Did those massive walls fall when we compassed them about? O Israel, you are a great nation! And did they fallwith nothing but a shout? Then the Hittite and the Hivite and every other enemy shall flee before us like chaff before thewind! Why, can there be any reason to carry all our baggage up the hill to Ai? What need to march so many men? Two or threethousand will be quite sufficient to carry that small city by storm. We can do wonders and, therefore, we need not put forthall our strength!"
Brethren, many dangers surround success! It is not much of it that any of us can bear. The full sail needs much ballast lestthe boat is swamped. When in this, or any other part of the world, the Church sees many converts as the fruit of her labors-whenthere are great gatherings and a good deal of shouting, great interest excited and multitudinous conversions, it is very naturalto calculate that the work has been easily done and needs no very severe or general effort. The idea is fostered that thereis no need, now, for continued house-to-house visitation. There is no need for more missionaries. No need for regular ploddingservice in school and house meetings. No need to set our young men and women to work for Christ! The drill and organizationof the regular army is in danger of being lightly esteemed. Blow the trumpet and the walls will come down easily enough! Jerichohas fallen with shouts and marching-let us gather ourselves together and show that we are a mighty people who no longer needto go up unanimously and laboriously in rank and order to fight the fight as our fathers did!
Ah, Brothers and Sisters, this evil spirit must be exorcised, for it comes from the devil! God will not bless us if we toleratethis spirit. Why, some of us are altogether too great for our Lord Jesus to use in His work! Like Saul's armor, we are unfitfor our David to put on if Goliath is to be slain. We must be more sensible of weakness, more mindful that the conversionof souls is the work of Omnipotence, or we shall see but little done. We must, ourselves, believe more fully in the need ofearnest work for God and put forth all our strength and strain every sinew for Him, knowing that it is His power that worksin us mightily when we strive with all our hearts. We must learn that our great Leader means us not only to shout and blowrams' horns, but to employ all the strength of every man in our ranks in His glorious cause. May we be delivered from thepresumption which leads to the foolish course which Israel pursued.
Let us not forget that these children of Israel were forgetting their commission and violating the command of God. It is aterrible Truth of God that the tribes had been brought out of Egypt that they might be the executioners of Divine Vengeanceupon races which had committed capital crimes for which the Lord had condemned them to be rooted out. The reward of the ministersof justice was to be the land which the infamous ones had polluted. They were charged to make no alliances with them, norto intermarry with them-but to execute them for their crimes-and the commission was not given to some of the Israelites, butto all of them, for all were to be rewarded by a portion of the land. The charge was not given to Joshua and to the eldersonly, but to all the tribes.
As they all expected to have a dwelling place in Canaan, so they were all expected to conquer the territory by their own exertions.They were all an enlisted host for God and He never ordained that only a part should go forth in His great controversy withthe condemned Canaanites. If we ever neglect to render universal service as a Church in the cause of Christ, we shall departfrom our trust and call, for the Lord has sent all His disciples to testify of Him and contend
against sin. He has sent us all to make known, everywhere, according to our ability, the glad tidings of His salvation! AndHe has not given this command to this or that man, or to this or that body of men, but to all His chosen!
Every member of the body has its own office and no part of it can be allowed to lie dormant. To none has He said, "Go yourway, eat the fat and drink the sweet and find fault with those who do the work." But to all His saints our Lord Jesus says-"AsMy Father has sent me, even so I send you." Every Christian is described in Scripture as being a light, a light not to behidden, but seen of men. Every child of God is described as forming a part of that "city set on a hill which cannot be hid."It is not only the ministers who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world-but "you are the salt of the earth.""Fou are the light of the world"-all of you without exception!
Each one, in his own proportion and in his own place, is to be used as a vessel in the great house of the Lord and we shallget away from our true position and our high calling if we excuse ourselves or our brethren from personal service and thengo and take part in public meetings and thank God for what other people have done on our behalf! These Israelites, in thenew fashion which they were trying to set up, were departing from their own model. That model was, doubtless, the siege ofJericho. In that siege there was much dependence upon God, but there was no neglect of instrumentality! And, though all theydid was to go round the city and shout, yet in so doing they were literally fulfilling orders and doing all that was commanded.
Yes, if this would bring down the walls they did it thoroughly-they marched as bid and shouted as desired. They all went roundJericho! They did not, some of them, sit in their tents and look on while the others paraded-they all filed out in order.It might seem to be a perfectly needless procession, but it was commanded by God and they all united in it. In martial arraythey all compassed the city and all gave the shout-and down came the walls-and then and there every man went up to them, leapingover the ruined walls to strike his foe in the name of the Lord! That was their precedent and pattern and they were departingfrom it very sadly when they said, "Let not all the people labor there."
What, then, is our model as a Church? Is it not Pentecost? Is it not those earliest days, that dawn of Christianity, thatgolden era to which we always look back as the heroic age of our holy faith? In that day did they not break bread from houseto house, all of them? Did they not sell their lands and lay the price of them at the Apostles' feet? Was there not a burningenthusiasm throughout the entire company of disciples? We know it was so! And if we are to see, again, the triumphs of thoseprimitive times, we must go back to primitive practice and every man and woman and child in the Church must be consecratedto the Divine service!
"Child," did I say? Yes, verily, for, "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise." I suppose thereis not one person present who heard that famous sermon by Matthew Wilks upon the universal service rendered by idolaters totheir false gods, from the text, "The children gathered wood, and the fathers kindled the fire, and the women kneaded theirdough to make cakes to the queen of Heaven." The preacher's argument on that occasion was that which I would now press uponyou, that all should take part in the work of the Lord! Distinct offices but united aims! Diverse operations but the samespirit! Many and yet one-so let it be! Would to God that the Church would recognize this more fully and so come back to thegreat precedents of her warfare.
Again, this error which we are carefully to avoid was, no doubt, the dictate of carnal wisdom. Spies were never of much useto Israel-two, only, of the first 12 were faithful-what did Israel want with spies? Better far had it been to walk by faith!To Ai they must send spies instead of going up at once in the confidence of faith? Evil came of it, for these spies counseledthat only part of the people need labor up the hill. And, Brothers and Sisters, the best ministers of Christ, worthy of allhonor, would be the cause of great mischief if once their carnal wisdom should make them think that they can supersede primitiveplans with wiser inventions! I dare say the men-at-arms would have said that Israel's numbers were a hindrance to efficientfighting and that the common sort were in the way of trained warriors and encumbered the battle.
I know that some able Brethren are of this mind. Have they not said in acts, if not in words, "That young man is preaching-wewish he would be quiet! He makes such blunders in the Queen's English! He has a great deal of zeal, but there is no littledanger in it. And those good Sisters-we know they do a good deal of work which was never done before, but-"and they shaketheir heads at them." That is often the main contribution of the more prudent sort to the service of God! They generouslylavish upon the younger folks their grave looks and their shakes of the head at
innovation and zeal. There is the Sunday school-well, that is a proper thing because it is a recognized agency-but if it werestarted today for the first time, many would shake their heads at that, also!
City mission work, again, is a tried and proved mode of operation, but in days gone by there was thought to be peril in layagency, especially as the men were not college trained. Well, my Brothers and Sisters, there are many more holy agencies yetto be invented and though they will, none of them, be perfect, our wet blankets will not improve them! Better far will itbe to help the good and, as for the little mischief which may come of imperfect agencies, let the wise men supply the antidoteand rectify the blunders. Anything is better than lethargy and death! Thank God that our people have a mind to do good! Iftheir zeal is inclined to wildfire, let us not quench it, but try to use it for holy purposes! After all, fire, wild or otherwise,is what we need!
If we have the fire from Heaven in the form of zeal for God's Glory, it can easily be regulated, but the most terrible calamityis to have no fire at all. "But," says one, "may not the ignorant and indiscreet advocacy of the Truth of God, by unqualifiedpersons, do a great deal of harm to the cause we love?" It may. But is the Truth of God you believe so weak as to be in anyserious danger from such an occurrence? Is not the Truth of God invincible and fully able to take care of herself? All shehas to fear is the cramping and imprisoning agency of excessive prudence! With Weakness for her guardian, and Folly for herdefender, she is yet safe! The God who protects her from her foes can assuredly save her from her friends! The danger liesin our carnal wisdom which would cover the light with a bushel to prevent its being blown out-and wrap the talent in a napkinbecause it is only one.
We very frequently hear it said that there is no need for so much excitement and exertion and this, too, has come from ourprudent men. We ought to take it coolly, they say-the thing went rightly enough in our grandfather's days- the great men ofthe past did very well without all this stir! Well, we have observed those wet blankets are still on sale and may be had atwholesale prices! Now, Brothers and Sisters, I do not know what you think about it, but I, for one, feel that there is muchwork to be done and very little time to do it in. If I plunge into the work with all my might, I shall do none too much, but,at any rate, all my little might is demanded by such a cause. There is a blessed leisure of the heart which sits at Jesus'feet, but I am sure that it is not inconsistent with that violence which the kingdom of Heaven suffers-"and the violent takeit by force."
There were people who complained, in the days of Wesley and Whitefield, because their zeal caused a great deal of fanaticism.But, thank God, the blessed fanaticism spread throughout the land and it is not extinct, even now, nor shall it be, by God'sGrace, but it shall go on increasing till Christ shall come! Let us bring up our men, the whole of the tribes, weak thoughthey are-and though their weapons are no better than the axes and coulters with which Israel fought the Philistines! Let usspring upon our foe as one man, even as in the days of old! Let us all go up to Ai and, as surely as God was with His people,then, so surely will He be with our compacted hosts today-and the world shall learn, again, that there is a God in Israel!
Only once more upon this point. These children of Israel, in sending to the war only part of the men, were breaking in uponthe Divine design. The Lord never intended to have two peoples, but one. And so we read that the Reubenites and the Gaditescame over Jordan to the war, although their portion was already conquered. It was the Divine intent that they should be onearmy of the living God, each separate son of the seed of Abraham belonging to that army and fighting in it. He meant thatnot some, only, but all should see the mighty works of His hands working with them to overthrow their adversaries. When Jerichofell, all saw it. And if Ai should fall before the Divine power, they must all be there to see, with their own eyes, the gloryof the Lord!
I am sure it is so with the Church of God today. Our Lord means to keep all His chosen ones as one army and to instruct themall as one unit. And when are we most manifestly one? When we get to work! If you come to declamation upon your own peculiarpoints, I shall wish you good morning. But if you are going to work for Jesus, suffer me to go with you. I have marked thehistory of organizations formed for no practical purpose and they have invariably come to an end-and I do not know that weneed weep over the fact! But work to be done for Jesus is a mighty bond of union. Our God does not mean that His ministersshould, alone, see all the deathbeds and be the sole spectators of the dying triumphs of His people. No, our Brothers andSisters must visit, too, and have their faith strengthened and their prospects brightened!
He does not wish that preachers, alone, should see all the converts and encourage all the desponding ones. No, His wisdomperceives that it is good for all His servants to behold the trophies of His Grace and know how to use the encouragementsof His promises! The Lord does not ordain that one or two, alone, should mourn over the evil of the hearts of men and do battlewith sinners. No, He means all His servants, in their measure, to learn the lessons which holy warfare would teach them. Notto deal practically with souls is perilous to ourselves! Men who spend their time providing us with marvelous essays and papersin the reviews are, most of them, unsound in the faith. But if they went out into the world of real life to save men. If theyhad to battle personally with hard hearts and evil passions in actual conversion work, they would find that their fine-spuntheories are of no use.
They would learn that the Puritan faith of our forefathers is the sturdiest of all weapons and the best adapted for the worldas it is-and that the old Truth of God is the sword with which, alone, you can pierce the hearts of men. Work for Jesus isan education for a Christian! What an education it would be for the philanthropist to see what the agricultural laborer eats,or rather does not eat! What a lesson for the sanitary reformer to see with his own eyes where the people lodge! What an educationfor a man of wealth to spend a night or two in the crowded chambers where our London workmen dwell!
And in the same way, holy service is a training for us. In order to really know man's Fall and the way of redemption we mustgo among the people and labor for their conversion. Therefore our Lord will not excuse any of us from service in this warbecause it would be to our great damage to be away from it! It is for our encouragement and growth that we should take ourshare in it. I will finish this part of my subject with a parable. In the days of chivalry a certain band of knights had neverknown defeat. In all battles their name was terrible to the foe. On their banners was emblazoned a long list of victories.
But in an evil hour the leader of the knights summoned them in chapter and said-"My Brothers, we cause ourselves too muchtoil. We have a band of skilled warriors versed in all the arts of battle. These are quite sufficient for ordinary conflictsand it will be wise for the many, that they tarry in the camp and rest, or furbish their weapons for extraordinary occasions.Let the champions go alone. Yonder knight with his sword can cleave a man in two at a single stroke. And his comrade can breaka bar of iron with his axe! Others among us are equally powerful, each one being a host in himself. With the terror of ourname behind them, the chosen champions can carry on the war while the rest divide the spoil."
The saying pleased the warriors well, but from that hour the knell of their fame was rung and defeat defiled their standard.When they came together they complained of the champions because they had not sustained the honor of the order and they badethem exert themselves more heroically. They did so, but with small success. Louder and louder were the notes of discontentand the demands for new champions. Then one of the oldest of the knights said-"Brothers, why do you blame us? The mistakelies here-in the old time, when the enemy assailed us, a thousand men were up in arms and we who led the van knew that a gallantarmy followed at our heels. But now you have made us solitary champions and the adversary takes heart to defy us, findingus unsustained. Come, all of you, with us to the fray, as before, and none shall stand against us."
Brothers and Sisters, you need not that a man interpret this for you.
II. In the second place, my text contains THE COMMAND THAT ALL ISRAEL SHOULD GO FORTH TO THE FIGHT. "Take all the men of warwith you." I will mainly address myself to my Brothers in Christ and what I have to say to them I say humbly, speaking mainlyto myself. Brothers, we must have all our Church members go to the war. I know this is our theory, but in practice we do notaccomplish it. The baggage of our army is too heavy. The camp followers are too many. We need to turn out the drones and weneed an increase of true working bees. How is it to be done? We must be, ourselves, deeply impressed with the evil broughtupon idle Christians by their idleness and the evil which they bring upon the rest of the Church.
Only suppose a Christian-I will treat it as a mere supposition-living an idle life. Give him nothing to do and he will becomemorbid with introspection, or he will grow quarrelsome, contending with all who hold opinions contrary to his own. Or he willdishonor the name of Christ by sin. You know when it was that David fell with regard to Bathsheba. It was at the time whenkings go forth to battle and he tarried at Jerusalem. He had not fallen into that sin if he had not played the sluggard athome. Where was his duty as commander-in-chief? Was it not in the camp? Indolence is temptation! Certain of our Churches aresuffering from unsound teaching, but they are suffering as much from lack of
work. The moss is growing upon them, the rust is eating them up. The gold is becoming dim, the silver is losing its brightnessand all for lack of use!
Oh, Brothers, if we stand at the foot of a barren tree in the vineyard of Christ, we know what must happen. As we look uponit and see no fruit, our emotions ought to be those of bitterest sorrow for the axe is prepared for those that bear no fruit!Alas, that we should have Church members, not inconsistent in moral character, but excellent in many ways and yet cumberersof the ground! There is a great deal of charity about, of an evil sort, because it does not face the truth in honest desirefor men's good. Let us be too truly charitable to indulge in such fatal charity! Let us sigh and cry when we think of ouruseless Church members as branches of the vine that bear no fruit, of whom the Master has said that they shall be taken away-"Forevery branch in Me that bears not fruit He takes away." "Men gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned."
What sorrow will fill our hearts if we reflect upon this! If we regard fruitless professors in this light, it will go furtherthan anything else to make us successful in exciting all our Brothers and Sisters to active service! We need to be impressedwith the mischief which idlers cause to others. One sickly sheep infects the flock! One member who does nothing lowers thetone of the whole body! The indolence of prominent professors is not merely the waste of their own labor, but of that of scoresof others. Leading persons are looked upon as a sort of model for the rest and if So-and-So is content merely to fill hisplace in the pew and subscribe so much or, rather, so little, per annum, then others will say, "We shall be up to the standardif we do the same."
Every man in an army who is not efficient and really serviceable is on the enemy's side. What can the enemy more desire thanthat the opposite army may be encumbered with the sick? What can be better news for them than to hear that the hospitals arecrowded, for then they know that a large number of men are occupied with the sick and detained from the fight. The enemy clapshis hands and cries, "These sick men are worth many a gun to us." Oh, useless professor! You cannot serve the devil betterthan by joining a Church and doing nothing! I want my Brothers to feel all this most keenly. I doubt not they do feel it,but I want to feel it more vividly myself, for when we get into a truly sensitive condition- when we who are ministers arealive upon this point-we shall stir up the people of God, all of them, and we shall see greater things than these!
Moreover, Brothers, we must hunt out the sin which leads to the evil against which we contend and I believe it is lack ofvital godliness in many cases. I do not know how my friend, Mr. Newman Hall, finds it-I suppose he does not suffer much fromit. But I know pastors who say they have very respectable members but nothing can be done with them. In some cases, PrayerMeetings are given up because the rich members come home from the city and dine at the hour which is usually selected forthe Prayer Meeting and so they cannot attend. Dining is a most important business-it would seem to be more important thanpraying! Businessmen are so fatigued! It is a fact that we find carpenters and bricklayers and other workmen delighting inour Prayer Meetings. Is this because they do not work so hard as your city men?
In some quarters it is found impossible to carry on Church work effectively because the very persons who should be workersand officers are resolved that their liberal giving and Sunday worship shall be the whole of their assistance to the causeof Christ. As to laying themselves out for holy work, they look in your face with wonder-as if they thought you had lost yoursenses when you propose any very arduous service to them! Now, this shirking of prayer and service is to be exposed and denouncedin all faithfulness! It is often the sin which grows out of too much ease, self-indulgence and luxurious living. It seemsas if the more God gives a man, the less return he is inclined to offer. Whatever the secret sin of the Church may be, letus try to discover it and then, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, endeavor to educate all our members to work for the Lord. Theremust be a continual insisting upon the personal obligations of Christians.
We who are known as Baptists are of opinion that Baptism, as the personal act of a Believer, is a good lesson to our peopleas to their personal responsibilities. But I will not, for a moment, suppose that my Paedobaptist Brethren are less earnestin enforcing the same Truth of God. You, also, believe firmly in the personality of true religion. You teach the need of personalfaith and consecration. Then we are agreed upon the great benefit of urging upon each man the duty of personal work for Christ."What are you doing for Christ?" is a question to be asked of all! We must make every Believer feel that he is not his own,but bought with a price-that no amount of giving can compensate for personal labor for his Lord-that even he who, by sicknessand infirmity, cannot actually work should render his contribution to the general
effort by continual prayer. No one must appear before the Lord empty, but either by active or passive service must prove hisgratitude to God!
And then, while each is responsible, neglect by one is injurious to the common service of the whole. I saw a cart standing,this morning, on the roadside with one wheel chained-there was no fear of its moving with that one wheel fast. Sometimes onechained wheel in a Church will hinder all. We are all parts of a great machine and the stopping of one part does not simplymean the one stoppage, but the hindering of the whole organization! If a piece of bone in the body becomes dead, it is notsimply useless, but it becomes the focus of mischief and the cause of pain. It begins to decay, disease forms and seriousevil comes of it to the entire frame. A dead professor who is content to enjoy the doctrines without fulfilling the preceptsof the Gospel becomes a source of serious danger in the Church of Jesus Christ-and we know it, indeed, to be so!
My Brothers, dwell upon the importance of the enterprise in which we are engaged and so act as to make others feel its importance.Why take all that trouble about furbishing up a doubtful point of divinity, which is of no earthly use when it is furbishedup? Why all that Sunday morning spent in discussing far-fetched points of belief? What is this but sheer trifling? Some aregreatly given to what they call, "thinking"-"dreaming" is the truer word! Better by half, plunge the old Gospel sword at onceinto men's hearts and slay their sins in the name of the Lord, than stand quibbling about certain characters upon the hiltof the weapon! One sermon about nothing will do more harm than all your speculations will do good!
Men come to forget that the Gospel is meant to save souls and look upon it as a mass of interesting subjects. Certain sermonsare said to be "intellectual treats"-I think that is what I have heard them called. Our religion does not mean that! It meansfighting with sin! It is, if anything at all, one of real downright practical work for Jesus Christ and we must show thatit is so. Our teaching nothing in elaborate language will make our people think that practical godliness is a small matterand that intellect is better than piety! We must make men feel that to save a soul is better than to possess all knowledge,or even to gain the whole world! While others are making a new gospel with a little "g," let us labor to save souls by theold one. May God enable us to preach in awful earnest and by this means, God the Holy Spirit quickening us, we shall get allour people to march forward to the battle of their God!
Above all, let us pray for more Divine Grace. We must never read the story of old times and say, "What a splendid denominationours has been! Can we not rest on our laurels?" Impossible! You must win fresh ones! Napoleon used to say, "Conquest has mademe what I am, and conquest must maintain me." And it is so with Christians. You must advance! You must outdo the exploitsof the past and eclipse the deeds of your sires, or you will show yourselves unworthy of them. The battle thickens, and howshall we meet the growing demands upon us except by seeking for sevenfold Grace? Our spiritual stamina needs to be increased!
If we were to collect a number of men all wheezing and coughing and only fit for the Consumption Hospital, and set them towork upon a railway, we might commend them for their diligence, but they would never accomplish much. On the other hand, gathertogether a company of burly, brawny men and they will say, "Who are you, O strong mountain?" and, before it can answer, itwill be turned to a plain! See how they use the pick and the shovel! Vital strength is their motive force. O God, strengthenus! We are willing, some of us, but our strokes are feeble! Grant us, we beseech You, more of Your Holy Spirit and we shallaccomplish great things! Strength delights in work, feebleness is afraid of it. Spiritual strength will produce universalspiritual service for the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have done when I have looked into the future for a moment. If it should ever come to pass that the minister and all hispeople went forth to the war for King Jesus, what would happen? I seem to be in Paradise when I think of it! If all, withoutexception, who name the name of Jesus, went earnestly into His vineyard, what life there would be and what unity in all theChurches! There would be no longer a name to live, but real living! There would be no divisions if all were, alike, zealousfor the Glory of the common Master! You would not hear of Church meetings which are scenes of disturbance and Churches wherepastors are unhappy-such things would be regarded as extinct animals of the ages gone by! Then we should hear no complaintsof our not being strong enough to do the work of our great cities and scattered hamlets. The most feeble Church, if everyonedid his share, would be strong enough for its position.
Moreover, there would be no lack of funds for any holy enterprise. Ah, if God's treasure received from all as it receivesfrom some, we should almost have to tell the people to stay their hands because we should scarcely know how to
use all their gifts! But the wealth which belongs to Christ and the service kept back from Him canker in men's coffers- andthe amount of which the Lord is robbed is almost beyond computation! The Missionary Societies, very well sustained on thewhole, do not receive more than a tenth or a hundredth part of what God's people ought to give to so wonderful a work! Ifthe merchant prince who contributes what is thought to be a handsome sum to Christ, only gave in the same proportion as manya pious girl who has to earn her living at so many stitches for a penny-and if all gave as the few are giving-we should soonsupply all nations with missionaries!
And if this were the case, what enterprises would be undertaken? What overflowing of Christian zeal should we perceive? Weshould be sending out messengers to discover every region which remained unconquered and we should at once be up and doingit, too! Then the mission field would be strong with men of most noble fitness. I do not know what you think about it, butit seems strange to me that we, here in this little island, are so closely packed together and yet a few scores or hundredsonly go into the mission field. "Some of us have large spheres here and we cannot be expected to go, can we?" I answer, theablest preacher that ever lived is not too good for missionary work! The most useful man at home is probably the fittest forthe foreign field.
Let us each question his own heart as to the claims of the heathen. For my own part, I dare not sleep till I have honestlyconsidered whether I ought to go or not. We tell our young men in the College that they must prove that they have not to go,or else their duty is clear. If some of the men of Israel had said to Joshua, "We cannot go to Ai," Joshua would have replied,"You must prove that you cannot go or you may not be excused." All other things being equal, ministers should take it forgranted that it is their duty to invade new territory unless they can prove to the contrary. When I think of the number ofyoung men who are well educated and can read a capital paper at the Mechanics' Institution and profess to be regenerated bythe Holy Spirit, it grieves me to see their talents dedicated so largely to meaner ends!
Oh, bleeding Lamb, it does seem strange that we have a greater passion for literature than for You! We care more for fleetingthan for enduring things! France is needing the Gospel. See what one beloved Brother in Paris has been able to do-are therenone who can do the same for other cities in that neighbor country? Here and there a good man can say, "I have made a competency"-whynot live and employ it where you can lay it out personally for the spread of the Redeemer's Kingdom? Such a thing is beingdone by a few-it is not, therefore, impossible-and you who follow the grand example shall have your reward.
Look what Pastor Harms did in the village of Hermansburg, how he stirred up all the people until they gave themselves andtheir property to the Lord and built a ship for the mission and went forth in it to Africa-company after company-to evangelize!Should it not be the ambition of a minister to feel that if he stays at home he will at least, by the Holy Spirit's help,produce missionaries by the scores in the village where he labors! I know the day comes that he will be thought most happywho suffered and labored most for Christ. When this great fight is over, he who is most scarred will be most honored, andhe who dwelt at home at ease will think himself but sparsely blessed because he did not do his share in the war.
Let us be all at work for Christ and His redeemed Church! All at work, at all times and in all ways for Christ! It is forthat I plead-and then we will take another motto and say-The world for Christ and Christ for every nation under Heaven! Thiswill be accomplished when the Spirit has awakened us all. O blessed Spirit, convert the Church and it will convert the world!