Sermon 1414. No Difference
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MAY 12, 1878,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on thejust and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45.
[On this night the Tabernacle was free to all comers, the regular congregation having vacated their seats.]
You see our Lord Jesus Christ's philosophy of Nature. He believed in the immediate Presence and working of God. As the greatSon of God, He had a very sensitive perception of the Presence of His Father in all the scenes around Him and, therefore,He calls the sun, God's sun-"He makes His sun to rise." He does not speak of the daybreak as a thing which happens of itselfas a matter of course, but He traces the morning light to His Father and declares, "He makes His sun to rise." As for therain, our great Lord and Master does not speak of the laws of condensation causing the vapor to become fluid and fall to theearth in a beneficial shower, but He says of His Father, "He sends rain upon the just and upon the unjust."
Jesus knew far better than any of us all the laws by which the great Creator governs the world of matter and yet He neverspeaks of these laws as though they operated without the Divine power making them to be effective. In Christ's philosophy,the Lord God Himself was everywhere present, working all things-yes, even numbering the hairs upon the heads of His chosen-andmarking the falling of a sparrow to the ground. Let such be your philosophy and mine, for it is the true one! Dr. Watts taughtus to sing when we were children-
"My God, who makes the sun to know
His proper hour to rise,
And to give light to all below,
Does send him round the skies." So our mothers taught us and they taught us the truth. But the very wise men of this proudlyenlightened age seem to be spinning all sorts of theories to get rid of God, to turn our Benefactor out of His own world andput man's best Friend as far away as possible.
I am sometimes reminded by these schools of philosophy and science of Tom Hood's, "I remember, I remember." Here is a verseof it-
"I remember, I remember, The fir trees dark and high I used to think their slender tops Were close against the sky. It wasa childish ignorance, But now 'tis little joy To know I'm farther off from Hea ven Than when I was a boy."
It were a good thing for our skeptical teachers who have banished God out of His own universe if they could go back to theirmothers' knees and learn to talk simply and naturally after the fashion of the wisest man that ever lived, namely, our Lordand Master. Then would they also confess that our heavenly Father "makes His sun to rise and He sends the rain," for so itis. Laws of Nature can do nothing without a power at the back of the laws. What is Nature, about which many infidels speakso very plentifully? Ask them to tell you what Nature is and they will reply, "Why, it is Nature." Well, but what is that?And they can only say, "Why Nature, you know, you know, you know, Nature is Nature."
Some such sensible reply was given to certain of our friends on Kennington Common by one who was there reviling his Maker.Now, if men did but understand Nature, they would know that Nature is simply God's creation, workshop, laboratory, storehouseand banqueting hall. In Nature, what God has made and what God is doing are made visible before our eyes. God is among usstill, blessed be His name! Believing this, we at once perceive that the Lord has been talking with us during the last fewdays very sweetly and delightfully. The merciful Father speaks to us with charming eloquence on such a day as this, of whichGeorge Herbert would have said-
"Sweet day so cool, so calm, so bright, The bridal of the earth and sky." Coming just in the middle of this fair season ofhope and promise, concerning which he sang-
"Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses, A box where sweets compacted lie," it has a still small voice which all shouldwish to hear.
What a blessing to have enjoyed such a May day as this has been! We have had God speaking to us according to the exact styleof our text-He has made His sun to shine, and He has us sent rain. Our days, for some little time, have been made up of sunshineand shower with, every now and then, that wondrous masterpiece of glory in the sky which we call the rainbow, of which Godhas said, "I, even I, do set My bow in the cloud," "whose warp is the raindrop of earth and whose woof is the sunbeam of Heaven!"Glorious symbol of His Grace and faithfulness, who hung it in the clouds! Now what does God say to us in the sunshine andthe shower which come, the one after the other, in such pleasant alternation, making the grass so green and causing flowersto deck both tree and herb? What does He say in all this?
There is a voice full of the music of love, to which we shall do well to listen. There is one instruction in it and only onethat I shall be able to expound tonight. It is the fact brought out in the text, "He makes His sun to rise on the evil andon the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." One of the most considerable heights anywhere near London is LeithHill, near Dorking. And if you have ever stood there, as I often have done with delight, you may, perhaps, have thought overour text. You see far around the distant lands, pasture, parks, woods, with here and there the laughing water. And beyondthe blue hills the distant sea. Up comes a gleam of sunlight, where all was cloud before. By-and-by the sun bursts out infull beauty.
Do you notice how impartial it is? Men have mapped out the country-so far is allotted to this squire, so far to that-withhere and there an insignificant patch pilfered from the wayside or the common which may belong to some industrious peasant.But the sun shines on all, glances into the halls, peeps into the cottages, gleams from the white spires of the churches andflashes from the tavern signboards swinging in the breeze. It shines on the wayside and floods the green with its golden lightwhere the children are at play-it sweeps over all, in fact. Now that farm over yonder belongs to a fool who is sure to rakehis stubble after the harvest, lest the poor should glean an ear or two-a man who fights and quarrels with his neighbors,yet the sun shines on his selfish heritage!
Yonder farm belongs to one who would, if he could, rob the orphan and fatherless and the widow-a heartless wretch unworthyto gather a sour apple from the sharpest crab-yet the sun shines on his wheat and barley just the same as on that portionof land which belongs to the generous-hearted and the free, to the gracious and the godly. There is no distinction made betweenthe meadows of the righteous and the pastures of the wicked! As you see the sunlight bathe the whole of the scene before you,the entire landscape smiles with universal joy. While you are watching, that cloud which all day long you had suspected wouldturn to a shower, comes rushing up with the wind-the Great Father blowing with His breath this traveling fountain of the sky!
Then it begins to pour. We seek the shelter of the lofty tower of Leith without a murmur, for we know that the rain is seasonable.The land needs it. It has been dry and parched for weeks. Down comes the blessed shower that shall fill our barns with plenty.Yes, yes, the Lord is pouring forth a shower of food-creating moisture and, look, it is raining on the fool's piece of landjust as much as on his liberal neighbor's! It is watering the farm of the man who would rob the fatherless of his shoes ifthe law permitted him. It is making his broad acres teem with plenty just as surely as it is fattening the poor man's patch,or falling upon the widow's scanty plot, or on the farm of the gracious godly man.
As though He did not regard human character at all, God bids His sun shine on good and bad. As though He did not know thatany men were vile, He bids the shower descend on just and unjust. Yet He does know, for He is no blind God! He does know andHe knows when His sun shines on yonder miser's acres that it is bringing forth a harvest for a fool. He
does it deliberately. When the rain is falling upon yonder oppressor's crops, He knows that the oppressor will be the richerfor it and means that He should be. He is doing nothing by mistake and nothing without a purpose. It is of His own will thatHe thus scatters sunlight with both His hands and pours the bounteous shower on all things that grow. He knows what He isdoing, blessed be His name! He sends forth, on purpose, sunshine and shower on the evil and on the good-and that is the onelesson we want to bring out tonight.
What is the meaning of this boundless generosity? Why this impartial bounty, this indiscriminate liberality? What does Godsay to us when He acts thus? I believe that He says this-"This is the day of free Grace. This is the time of mercy." The hourfor judgment is not yet, when He will separate between the good and the bad, when He will mount the Judgment Seat and awarddifferent portions to the righteous and to the wicked. Sheep and goats, as yet, feed together and He gives to them all theirfodder. Wheat and tares grow in the same field and He ripens both for the harvest. This is not the Day of Justice, but theperiod of mercy-free, rich mercy-mercy to the undeserving, Divine Grace to the worthless, sunlight of love for the evil andshowers of blessings for the unjust!
That is the teaching of the great Father to us tonight and, in trying to bring it out, I shall first show how forcible itis made to appear by its being placed as an example. Secondly, I shall dwell upon the act, itself, drawing inferences fromthe impartiality of sunshine and shower to encourage all who long to receive Grace at the great Father's hand. And, lastly,I shall let the plants and grass and trees talk to you a little.
I. First, then, this which is spoken concerning God's causing His sunshine to fall on the evil as well as on the good is setbefore us as AN EXAMPLE AND HENCE THE EMPHASIS OF ITS MEANING. We are, according to the verses which precede our text, tolove our enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do good to them that hate us, to pray for them which despitefully use usand persecute us because, if we do, we shall be like our Father in Heaven who blesses with sunshine and showers the bad aswell as the good. It must mean, then, that He, in causing His sun to shine upon the bad, is rendering good for evil, is wishingwell to those who treat Him ill, is intending favor to those that despitefully use Him and persecute His cause.
That is what the text means. God would not command us to do what He will not do, Himself, if placed in similar circumstances!He bids us forgive because His sunshine and showers teach us that He is ready to forgive. He bids us do good to those whodo us ill, because in sunshine and showers He is doing good to those who hate Him and despitefully use Him. Now suppose, myBrethren, that we were all enabled, by Divine Grace, to follow out the precept which is set before us? Our conduct would beregarded by most men as being very extraordinary-for most people say, "Well, I will do good to a man if he is a deservingcharacter, but you cannot expect me to help the undeserving. I will cheerfully render a measure of assistance to a personwho is grateful, but to the ungrateful and the evil you do not expect me to be kind? Yes, I will be kind to my neighbor, butthat man who the other day was so contemptuous in his behavior as to treat me worse than a dog and seemed as if he would treadme under his feet like dirt-would you have me do him kindness?"
Now, suppose that you are able to rise to the example which is put before you and that you persistently do good and only goodeven to the worst of men? And when you are treated with evil, let us suppose you are able to do only more good and thus heapcoals of fire upon the offender's head by being more generous to him than ever-that will be very extraordinary conduct, don'tyou think? You think so, I know, for you feel the proposal to be too hard for flesh and blood to carry out and so, indeed,it is! And if you are enabled to rise to so great a height, you will astonish all around you and become a wonder to many!Admire, then, with all your hearts, the marvelous conduct of your God!
He is prepared to put away all the offenses of the past and He is ready to forgive and to do good to those who have been doingill all their days. Yes, to take into His very heart of love and make into His children the very persons who have hated Himand spoken evil against Him! Will it not be extraordinary if He does that to you, dear Friend, if such has been your character?Know, then, that the Lord loves to do extraordinary things! "Who is a God like unto You, passing by transgression, iniquity,and sin?" "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are His ways above our ways, and His thoughts above our thoughts."God is prepared to save extraordinary sinners by an extraordinary act of love, wiping out the past and causing them to begina new life in which they shall be enriched with His favor and preserved by His love.
Again, if a man should carry out what I have tried to set forth-the continuous rendering of good to the undeserving-he wouldbe regarded by all thinking persons whose judgment is worth taking, to be very noble. When a
man has been abused, misrepresented and slandered, and he simply smiles and says, "If you knew me better you would not treatme so." And, if the first time he finds an opportunity, he helps the man who injured him and still gets no gratitude, but,on the contrary, worse treatment than before, and he is still able to persevere in doing good-most of you would say, "Whata noble fellow he is!" Even the man who does not praise him is obliged to feel his greatness. There is about such a man asuperiority which covers him with honor in the consciences of those who observe his gentle spirit!
Now, listen, you that are conscious of great sin against God! If the Lord were, tonight, to put all your sins behind His backand would take you into His family, as He took the poor returning prodigal and make a great feast for you as He did when Hisson that was lost was found, would it not be noble of Him? Would you not feel that His thoughts are far above your thoughts?Of course you would! Yes, but my God does noble deeds such as make the harps of Heaven ring with ecstatic music as the cherubimand seraphim behold His Grace. O thrice noble God, there is none like You, so ready to pardon and to receive each returningpenitent and restore him to Your favor! To pardon you, my sinful Brother, would be extraordinary and honorable to the lastdegree, but God is prepared to act after that noble fashion! Will you not accept such boundless love and be at peace withsuch a Lord?
Do you not all feel that if you could act in so noble a style it would be very pleasurable to you? No doubt there is somepleasure in knocking a fellow down who insults you, but it cannot last long. When the fire of passion goes out, a man beginsto think whether it was a good thing to do, after all-but not to do it, to turn the other cheek when you have been struck,to do good instead of evil-have you ever tried that? If you have done so, you have heard music in your heart at midnight atthe remembrance of your forbearance! When you have been lying awake, you have thought it over and you have said to yourself,"It makes me happy to think that I did not reply to that angry man in an angry tone-to think that I did not, after all, givehim a smart blow when he gave me one-but that I showed patience and good temper and endured ill treatment for Christ's sake."It is a pleasure as deep as it is noble! To be Christ-like is to enjoy a Heaven within your breast!
And even so, it is a pleasure to God to have mercy upon sinners. He delights in mercy! Nothing gives God greater delight thanto save those who have offended Him. He is always ready for a gracious deed and freely, of His own will, He meets those whoseek His face. He does not want you to melt His heart with tears in order to win His love and He does not require the lacerationof your body by penance, nor a long period of agonizing doubt before He grants full and effectual pardon. It is His joy topardon! He meets returning sinners when they are yet a great way off and kisses them. So rejoiced is He to receive them thatif they are glad to be received, yet He is the more glad of the two! Joyous is the great Father's heart when He presses HisEphraims to His bosom!
Did I hear somebody say, "But this that you are talking about is not justice"? Listen-it is not unjust. Look at the conductwhich our Lord commands us and see if that would be unjust. If a man has insulted me and I forgive him, am I unjust? If aman has slandered me and I overlook it, am I unjust? If a man has done me an injury and I refuse to take any revenge exceptthat of doing good to him, am I unjust? Certainly I am not acting according to the laws of justice, but then I am not thejudge-and not being the judge-why should I undertake an office to which I am not called? God is the Judge of all by necessityof His Nature, but He will not fully display that Character till the day when in the Person of His Son He shall come withall His holy angels to summon men to His bar. For the present He does not deal with living men after the rule of justice,but He deals with them according to His Grace.
If anyone should question why He should give His Grace to the undeserving, here is a sufficient answer for them- "May I notdo as I will with My own? Is your eye evil because Mine is good?" If you choose to show kindness to those who do not deserveit, who shall say to you, "no"? May not a man be as generous and forbearing as he pleases? What Law, human or Divine, forbidshim? And if God, with infinite sovereignty of mercy, chooses to dispense His favors even to those who deserve nothing at Hishands, let Him be adored forever, but let Him not be questioned for so doing! At any rate, it ill becomes the undeserving,themselves, to raise such a question-rather let them eagerly accept the bounty of the pardoning God!
And then note this thought-that to do good to the evil is, after all, promotive of righteousness. To be good to the unjustis to help on the cause of right, for goodness to the evil is one of the most wooing things in the world, wooing them, I mean,to repent and do good in return! Let me give you an anecdote. There was a farmer who lived in one of the new settlements ofAmerica. We will call him Mr. Wrath, for he was a man of a horrible temper and everybody who lived
near him was made to know it. He had an excellent Christian man living near him-a gentle, good, easy-tempered soul-and onone occasion this good man's hogs strayed into the bad man's wheat and caused damage. Mr. Wrath came down in a tearing rageand said what he would do and what he would not do.
The other offered to pay for the damage and said that he was very sorry for his neglect and would do his best that it shouldnot happen again. However, it did happen again, and the owner of the wheat was in a great passion. He caught the swine andkilled them all, put their bodies on a cart and took them back to his neighbor. "Your hogs," he said, "got into my wheat-herethey are." And sure enough there they were, all dead. Of course, the owner of the hogs might have gone to the authoritiesagainst Mr. Wrath and obtained damages at more or less the cost of trouble and temper, but he merely said that he was exceedinglysorry that his hogs had transgressed again and there ended the matter.
Some time after, it came to pass that Mr. Wrath's pigs went astray, as pigs will do, and they damaged the Christian's wheat.What did he do? He had not sought a legal remedy against his adversary-would not it have been fair and straightforward tobutcher Mr. Wrath's hogs on the principle of tit for tat, as the proverb puts it? Of course it would have been, but a Christiandoes not act upon that worn-out legal principle! Instead of killing the creatures, he caught them all, tied their legs, putthem on a cart, drove up to the door and said, "Friend Wrath, your hogs got into my wheat. I have brought them to you. Herethey are"-the very words that Mr. Wrath had used to him.
Mr. Wrath went to the cart, of course expecting to find his swine all dead. But there they were, all right enough, gruntingin proof of their continued existence. "There," the neighbor said, "hogs are always troublesome. I dare say you could nothelp their getting into my wheat." Mr. Wrath's temper was changed from that very day. How could he behave badly to such aneighbor who had vanquished him by forgiving him the injury that he had done him? Now, just as men can win upon men by theirkindness, so does God win upon the hearts of men by His love when the Holy Spirit leads them to see and feel that He actsgraciously towards them. There is no power to win a man like the power of love! If you have ever been converted, dear Friends,I think that you have felt that you could say-
"I yield, by Sovereign Love subdued- Who can resist its charms?"
The thunderbolts of God might have broken you down, but they could not have forced love into your terrified soul! Yet, whenJesus came in love and mercy, you were compelled to yield and that most gladly and heartily!
So God's goodness to the unjust is aiding and assisting the cause of righteousness and justice and who, therefore, shall saya word against it? "Ah," says somebody, "but it is very liable to be abused. If you go and help the bad and benefit the unjust,you will find that they will take your charity and spend it wrongly, or perhaps they will turn, again, and harm you." Thisis very true, but still, the Master says, "Love your enemies and pray for them that despitefully use you." He does not inserta clause to the effect that we are only to do this where we are sure that it will not be abused. No, it is absolute! If theymake bad use of it, that is no business of ours. Your heavenly Father knows that the fool, when he reaps his harvest, willsimply spend it on himself, yet He sends him the sunlight and the shower. He knows that yonder oppressive wretch will, withhis wealth, go on to grind the poor, but He sends his crops the warm, genial sun and the refreshing rain, notwithstandingit.
But, dear Friends, there is this thing to be said about Divine Grace, that if God gives it to you, you cannot misuse it, forGrace will change your heart and renew your nature! And if He is so ready to give to men those benefits which they can anddo abuse, much more will He bestow that Grace which is liable to no such ill usage. Let me add, however, if anybody does abuseGod's mercy, just as if any man abuses your practical kindness, it involves him in great guilt. Men cannot do despite to goodnesswithout becoming exceedingly vile. You will soon see this if I mention one anecdote. In Holland, in the days when the Baptistswere persecuted, it happened that the canals were frozen over and one poor despised Baptist escaped from a person who wasseeking to drag him before the magistrates to get blood money for his head. He ran across the river, which was wide and frozen.The ice was strong enough to bear him and he got safely to the other shore.
The person who was seeking his life was a heavier man and he slipped through the ice and went into the water. And what didthis poor hunted Christian man do? He turned round and at the peril of his own life he helped his persecutor out and landedhim on the bank. And what did the wretch do but seize him and drag him before the magistrates-and he was burnt as the resultof his own act of generosity! There is not a man in the world who does not feel that the wretch
deserves universal condemnation! Everybody denounces him at once. So if, after God's mercy to the unjust and the bad, theystill go on to sin against Him I will leave the universal conscience of mankind to cry them down!
I heard, the other day, an instance of a dog's returning good for evil and this places the matter in an equally strong light.A man had taken a dog with the intention of drowning him-a large Newfoundland dog. He went into a boat with a big stone intendingto throw the dog out of the boat into the stream with the stone about his neck. Somehow or other, before he had securely tiedthe stone, the dog had become free and in some little scuffle between them the boat was upset and dog and man were both inthe water. The man sank and was nearly drowned, but the dog, noble creature, swam up and seized hold of the man and drew himsafely to shore.
Now suppose he had drowned the dog after that! Did I hear some indignant person say, "Let him be drowned himself? He wouldnot deserve to live, surely. I would take such a dog as that home and say, "While I have a crust, there shall be a bit foryou, good dog who saved my life when I was destroying yours." Now, if even a dog, when it renders good for evil, gets a claimupon us, what shall I say of the great God who, with generous liberality, continues to feed and keep in life and health theundeserving sons of men? And who, more than this, has given His own Son to die and sent a message of amazing love to mankind,in which He says, "Come to Me: I am ready to forgive you. Come and accept My love and mercy. Let us be friends, for I delightto forgive sin"? Is it not clear that to abuse such love is black-hearted baseness? I beseech you, be not guilty of it!
II. Now, secondly, we may gather fresh hope and encouragement from THE FACT ITSELF. When the sunlight comes upon a wickedman's field and the rain descends upon the farm of a blaspheming atheist, the man has done nothing to deserve either showeror sun, but yet they favor him. And, blessed be God, He gives His Grace to those who have done nothing to deserve it! If allyour life long you cannot think of one good action you have ever performed, nevertheless the Grace of God is free to you ifyou will have it. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" is preached to you-deserving and merit are outof the question! God gives freely even to the evil and the unjust!
Showers and sunlight from Heaven come to those who have not sought them at the Lord's hands. That fool, there, never prayedfor the sunlight. He does not believe in praying-not he! And that oppressor over yonder, that we spoke of, never asked Godto send the rain-he said it was a matter of chance and he did not see the good of praying about it. Yet it came. And oh, whata wonder it is that God is often found of them that sought Him not! Persons have come into this Tabernacle and the last thingthey thought of was that they would be saved that night-and yet they have been! God's infinite mercy sometimes comes to thosewho do not ask for it, according to the text, "I am found of them that sought Me
Look at Colonel Gardiner. He had made a commitment and was about to perpetrate a gross act of vice, but the person whom heexpected to meet had not come and, therefore, he had to wait an hour or two. While he waited he saw or thought he saw, a visionof the Savior who said to him, "I did all this for you, what have you done for Me?" That question, with the sight of the LordJesus Christ, by Divine Grace, changed his heart! He never kept that appointment but, as most of you know, he became one ofthe most devout Christians in the world! Oh, tell it the wide world over that as the rain tarries not for man, nor waits forthe sons of men, but comes according to the good favor of God, so often does His Grace visit those who knew not God and soughtnot after Him! Let Him be praised and extolled forever and ever because of this.
Now, if Grace sometimes comes to those who have not asked, do you not think that it will come to you who are asking for it?Oh you that are groaning for it, sighing for it and longing for it-do you think it will be denied to you? God forbid! He willbe sure to bless you. Believe in the Lord Jesus and it is yours at once! The rain comes to those who do not even acknowledgethe existence of God. It waters the atheist's fields and refreshes the pastures of the fool who says in his heart, "Thereis no God." Even so, I have known the Grace of God descend on those who have loudly denied His very existence. In our Churchthere is one, at least, who not long ago was a loud spokesman against God, but upon his dropping into this house, the Wordcame with power to his soul and again, and again, and again it described his case, till at last he said, "There is a God,for He has found me out. The preacher seems to know my case and character." Every time he came, something was said which soaccurately described himself that he could not understand and interpret it in any other way than that God had spoken to hissoul!
Now, if God calls by His effectual Grace some that even doubt His existence, how much more will He look on you who have beenmade to tremble before Him and who desire to be reconciled to Him? Surely He will hear the cry of the humble and grant yourpenitent request! The Lord sends the rain to some that never thank Him for it. "A heavy shower, William," says the fool. "Yes,Sir," says his pious servant, "God be thanked for it." "I do not know much about that, William. I dare say the wind had agood deal to do with it. I knew it would come, for the glass was down." So he ends that talk. Yes, but, dear Friend, if Godsends temporal blessings to those who do not thank Him, will He not give His Grace to those of you who feel that you wouldbless Him forever if He would but save you?
A good woman said, when she sought the Lord, "If He saves me He shall never hear the last of it, for I will praise Him aslong as ever I live and then to all eternity." Well, now, you may reckon quite surely that when a soul feels after that mannerthe Lord will not deny it the sun of His love, or the rain of His Grace! He gives rain even to those whom He knows will remainthankless-will He not give His Spirit to those who will become His grateful children? Remember, too, dear Friends, that Godgives this rain and this sunshine year after year! If I were very kind to a man and he treated me unthankfully I should thinkthat I had a good deal of Grace if I kept on being kind to him for a year. And supposing I kept on seven years, I fancy thatI should think that I had endured a long enough trial of him and should get a little tired of being grieved by him-wouldn'tyou?
Yet, look, God has sent sunshine and showers upon the fields of the wicked all their lives long! He has continued to be kindto them and He has not grown weary. Perhaps some of you are 50 years old and yet have never yielded to the love of God. Ah,you have been hearing sermons these 50 years. Perhaps you are getting on for 70 now. Why, you have heard tender words of lovethat went further than your ears and touched your conscience-but you have still held out against God! Oh, the patience ofGod to have borne with you from day to day! Now, if He has suffered you so long, and if tonight you turn to Him with purposeof heart and say, "I have had enough of this rebellion. Lord, I would be at peace with You," do you think that He will refuseyou? Far from it! For His mercy endures forever!
One more remark on this. The sunshine which you saw today, I do not doubt, was as bright a sunlight as that which Joshua sawwhen he bade the sun stand still. And the showers that fell the other day, especially as it fell in these quarters and atBrixton, I should say were quite as plentiful as any downpour which our grandsires can remember. It is evident that the sun'sfire is not burnt out and that the clouds are not exhausted. Well, it is so in heavenly things, for there the eternal fullnessdwells! God has as much love as ever and as much Grace as ever-and as a thousand years ago He poured forth His Grace to convertthe bad and the unjust-He is just as able to pour them out now upon the most guilty and the most worthless.
His Grace in conversion, pardon, adoption and preservation is as large as ever! Glory be to His blessed name, He still rainsHis bounties on the unjust! And that Christ who, when we were dead in sins, died for us, and who, while we were yet sinners,manifested His great love to us-that Christ who came into the world to save sinners-still abounds in power to save and bless!And if you will go to Him (and oh, may His Grace make you) you shall find it to is so!
III. Lest I should weary you, I will finish with the last head, under which I should like to MAKE THE EARTH, THE
FLOWERS AND THE TREES WHICH HAVE BEEN WATERED AND WARMED, SPEAK TO YOU A LITTLE.
And, first, I will suppose, dear Friend, that you are here tonight and feel that you cannot pray-feel as if you could notcome to God, could not do anything. The flowers say, "We are cheered by the sun and refreshed by the rain. We do nothing todeserve these blessings, but we do long for them." The little flowers say, "We do long for the rain." Look at them-they drooptheir heads during a long drought. See the grass, how brown it gets! See the leaves, how dry they are! See the earth, howchapped it is after a dry season.
Now, Soul, do you long for the mercy of God? Do you pine for it, sigh for it, cry for it? God help you to do that! To be forgiven,to get the love of God shed abroad in your hearts-is not that worth having? Do pant for it, I say, as the flowers sigh forthe rain and the sun! And next, the flowers seem to say, "Do turn to it." If you keep a plant in your window, see how it growsthe way the sun comes! Notice the trees, how they put out their branches sunward. See the sunflower how it turns its headin the direction of the sun. The flowers love the sun! If you cannot do anything to get Divine Grace, at least turn your headthat way! Look that way! Long that way! Grow that way! You will receive it-it will not be denied. It will come to you. Ithas already come to you if you have begun to turn to it with longing gaze!
And then the flowers seem to say, "Drink it in when it does come." In January there was the crocus just peeping up from thesoil and the sun shone on it and in gratitude it brought up from the deeps-from its cellar somewhere-a gold cup and set itout to catch the sunbeams till the sun smiled and graciously filled it to the brim! And have you noticed when the soft Aprilshowers fall, how the flowers seem, each, to have a cup to hold a share of Heaven's bounty? And certainly beneath the soileach flower has its little traveling rootlets sucking up each drop of moisture they can find. Now, dear Hearers, when Gracecomes specially near to you, drink it in! Is the sermon blest to you? Do not go away and lose its influence! Do you feel sometender movements in your conscience? Yield to them! Is there an invitation? Accept it! Is there a threat? Tremble at it! Openyour bosom and say, "Come in, my Savior, come in and reign and save my soul from the wrath to come."
But then the flowers say, once more, "Do thank God for it." The last two or three days I have seemed to live in a temple!When I go into my garden I have a choir around me in the trees. They do not wear surplices, for their song is not artificialand official. Some of them are clothed in glossy black, but they sing like little angels! They sing the sun up and wake meat break of day. And they warble on till the last red ray of the sun has departed, still singing out from bush and tree thepraises of their God! And all the flowers-the primroses that are almost gone-these bring into my heart deep meanings concerningGod till the last one shuts his eyes. And now the forget-me-nots and the wallflowers and the lilacs and the guilder rosesand a host of sweet beauties are pouring out their incense of perfume, as if they said, "Thank the God that made us! Blessedbe His name! The earth is full of His goodness!"
Now, dear Hearers, if you get the Lord's Grace, thank Him for it. Grow by it, blossom with it, be fragrant with it. If youonly receive a little Grace, be very grateful for it, for a little Grace is worth a great deal. If God gives you Grace enoughto be called starlight, thank Him for it and He will give you moonlight! And when you get moonlight Grace, thank Him for itand He will give you sunlight! And when you have obtained sunlight Grace, thank Him for it and He will give you the lightof Heaven which is as the light of seven days!
Lastly-and this the flowers cannot teach you, because the flowers cannot do it-pray for Grace. It will come. It will come!Do you remember George Herbert's pretty verse. With that I will finish. He says-
"The dew does every morning fall- And shall the dew outstrip Your Dove? The dew for which grass cannot call- Drops from above."
See his point? The dew comes every morning. The grass cannot ask for it, but it comes. And shall the dew be more free andswift than the Holy Spirit? No, says the poet-I can pray for that holy Dove-will He not come to me, who prays, since the dewcomes to the grass which cannot call for it? Behold He visits the earth and waters it with the river of God which is fullof water and flings back the curtains of the sky and bids the sun shine out with genial face upon the poor dead soil! Andif He does all this for the fields that cannot pray and for flowers that cannot speak, how much more will He do it for youwho seek His face through Jesus Christ?!
Come, then, to Him! He will gladly welcome you. Come and trust His Son. Come and rest in the merit of Jesus' blood and youshall find eternal life! May God bless you all, for Jesus' sake. Amen.