Sermon 1475. Crowning Blessings Ascribed to God
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MAY 18, 1879,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"You crown the year with Your goodness." Psalm 65:11.
(The second Sermon in commemoration of the completion of 25 years of his Ministry in the midst of the Church assembling inthe Tabernacle).
GODLY men in olden times felt God to be very near them and they attributed everything they saw in Nature to the direct operationof His hand. They were not accustomed to speak of "the laws of matter," "the operation of natural forces" and "the outcomeof different causes." They thought more of the First Cause, the foundation and pillar of all existence-and they saw Him atwork on all sides. Hear how the Psalmist sings, "You make the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice. You visit theearth and water it. You prepare them corn when you have so provided for it. You water the ridges thereof abundantly; you settlethe furrows thereof: you make it soft with showers; you bless the springing thereof. You crown the year with Your goodness."
God was very near in those days. As Herbert says-
"One might ha ve sought and found You presently At some fair oak, or bush, or cave, or well." If the result of our philosophyhas been to put God farther off from the consciousness of His creatures, God save us from such philosophy and let us get back,again, into the simple state in which we were children at home and God, our great Father, worked all things for us! Let usnote the distinct mention of God throughout the Psalm, for it is well worthy of notice. And let our speech be more after theolden sort-with less of our supposed knowledge in it and a good deal more concerning the Presence and the goodness of God.
I am not about to use our text in reference to the outside world and to the husbandry of man, but we shall see how true itis within the Church, which is the husbandry of God. The language was meant to describe the field of Nature. but it is equallytrue of the garden of the Church. I am going to use the text in this way because of the peculiar circumstances under whichwe meet, celebrating, as we do, the 25th year of our happy union together as pastor and flock-a period which has, to the fullestextent been crowned with the goodness of the Lord! If I use the text for spiritual purposes I shall not err, for there isalways a most striking analogy between the world of Grace and the world of Nature so that it would be hard to find anythingsaid by Inspiration concerning the visible world which might not be correctly spoken with regard to the spiritual world.
But I do not depend upon that fact for my justification-I refer you to the Psalm itself. It is clear that it was written topraise God, not alone for His works in the harvest field and abroad upon the sea, but for His wonderful goodness towards Hispeople, for thus the Psalm begins, "Praise waits for You, O God, in Sion." It is Zion's hymn which lies before us and, therefore,the Church which Zion represented may well appropriate the language and use it for herself! She may well say, concerning allthe Lord's mercy to her in her plowing, her sowing, her watching and the glad harvest of her spiritual husbandry, "You crownthe year with Your goodness."
The spirit of the text is joyful gratitude and my soul is so filled with it that I do not need so much to preach to you asto lead you in holy adoration of God for the great mercies with which He has surrounded us as a Church and congregation fromthe first day even until now!
I. And so our first head is DIVINE GOODNESS ADORED. "You crown the year with Your goodness." Whatever of acceptable servicewe have rendered and whatever of real success we have achieved has come from the Lord of Hosts who has worked all our worksin us! Whatever holy results may have followed from earnest efforts and whatever honor
has redounded unto God from them is the Lord's doings and it is marvelous in our eyes! "Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord,but unto Your name be glory for Your mercy and for Your Truth's sake." Your goodness, not ours, has crowned the work! Yourgoodness, indeed, makes every good work good and gives to every good its crown. From its first conception, even to its ultimateconclusion, all virtue is of You. From blade to full corn all the harvest is of You, O Lord, and to You let it be ascribed!Let us, therefore, praise the Lord with all our hearts for 25 years of prayer and effort, of planning and working, of believingand rejoicing which He has crowned with His goodness!
We will try to follow the run of the Psalm and our first note shall be this-praise must be for God alone. "Praise waits forYou, O God, in Sion." Not for men, nor for priests, nor for pastors, presbyters, bishops, ministers, or whatever you chooseto call them-"Praise waits for YOU, O God, in Sion." Whoever shall have done well in the midst of the Church, let him havethe love of his Brethren, but let all the praise be unto You, O Most High! Far be it for the axe to exalt itself and forgethim that fells therewith, or for the sword to deprive the conqueror of his glory. Praise is silent while the best of men arepassing by-it lays its finger on its lips till the Lord approaches and then bursts forth in gladsome song because He appears!
Whatever else you do, my Brothers and Sisters, be sure that your soul magnifies the Lord and abhors the very idea of self-glorification.If the Lord has blessed you, shake off, as Paul shook off the viper from his hand, any idea of ascribing praise to yourself!We are mere vanity and to us belong shame and confusion of face-these are, so to speak, our belongings-the only dowry ourfathers have left to us. What are we that the Lord should bless us? Did you bring a soul to Christ the other day? Bless theHoly Spirit who helped you, by His power, to do so Divine a deed! Did you bear bold testimony for the Truth of God but yesterday?Bless Him who is the faithful and true Witness, that at His feet you learned how to be true-and by His Spirit were enabledto be brave! "Not unto us! Not unto us!" With vehemence we deprecate the idea of honoring ourselves!
Again and again we put away the usurper's crown which Satan proffers us. How can we endure the base proposal? Shall we robGod of His Glory? Even He from whom we derive our very existence? Perish, O pride, abhorred of God and man! O Lord, keep mefrom the approach of that shameful evil! Brothers and Sisters, if you have any esteem among men, cast your crown at Jehovah'sfeet and there let it be for the honor of God only! In this spirit every action of the Christian Church ought to be done,for what says the second clause of the Psalm? "Unto You shall the vow be performed." Brothers and Sisters, we ought to praiseGod in all that we do by doing it to His praise! There must be no motive of this kind-"I must give because others give. Imust attend such-and-such a meeting because otherwise I should be missed." Cast away from you, I pray you, the service ofany master but your Lord in Heaven, for you cannot serve two masters!
Honor the Lord in all that you do. Whether you teach the classes of the school, or preach at the corner of the street, orhand a tract to a passerby, or preach to the multitude, let the vow be performed as unto the Lord. It is wonderful how sweetit is to do service when it is expressly done for Him. I do not marvel that the woman broke the alabaster box over Him. Breakingprecious boxes and spilling priceless nard may be hard work of itself to selfish flesh and blood, but it becomes a self-gratifyingluxury to do it unto Him. When our whole life shall be doing service unto the Well-Beloved whom to serve is honor and delightand for whom to die were an unspeakable bliss -then shall we have learned how to live! Lord, You crown the year with Yourgoodness and, therefore, we would do all things as unto You, expecting Your Grace to assist our service; Your love to acceptit; Your pity to forgive it and Your power to make it effectual to Your own Glory! Oh, that I had but power-and God the HolySpirit has that power-first to take away from each of us all thought of self-glorification! And then to consecrate our entirebeing, even to our pulse and breath, to His praise whose love has made us what we are!
Further, Brothers and Sisters, in praising God we may be helped to do so and to see how He crowns the year with His goodnesswhen we remember our answered prayers as a Church. What says the second verse? "O You that hears prayer, unto You shall allflesh come." I say it and there is no boasting in the saying of it, but there is a glorying in God that prayers have beenheard which have been put up by this Church in ways and manners which have not been less than marvelous! Such of you as havebeen with us from the beginning will remember times when, in our weakness and in our poverty, we cried to the Lord for helpbecause of our need-and He heard us! Especially was this the case concerning the building of the house in which we are nowassembled. Ah, how speedily He helped us! How liberally! How like a God!
When we have needed means to feed the children of our Orphanage, the Prayer Meeting on Monday night has been followed by aresponse before the week has gone round! When two or three of us have met together, unknown to all the rest, to lay specialsiege to Heaven upon the appearance of troubles which we did not wish to tell to others, we have seen the arm of God madebare among us and we could no more doubt it than we could doubt our own existence! Oh, you that have had your prayers answered,praise the Lord who crowns your supplications with His acceptance! Remember that it is because of prayer that, as a Church,we have continued to advance from strength to strength-and shall not our praises balance our prayers? If the Lord gives goodness,shall not we give gratitude? Our prayers confessed our dependence-we felt that our years could never be crowned unless theLord drowned them-and now that the blessing has come, let our praises prove our thankfulness while we cry, "You crown theyears with your goodness."
And, beloved Friends, it may greatly increase our praise of God for all His goodness if we think of our many sins. Have wetried to serve Him? Alas, how often have we failed! The iniquities of our holy things might long ago have provoked the Lordto wrath. Among us has there not been much that His pure and holy eyes must have grieved over? The watchers of the Churchhave sometimes come together in sore dismay over this and that which they have seen among the brotherhood and they have criedto God that He would put away the evil thing from among us, or help us to overcome the Evil One and reclaim the wandering.Nobody knows but God all the cares and anxieties which surround those that watch over such a flock as this! Who is sufficientfor these things? Have we been made sufficient? Then infinite Grace has done the deed!
The best of us, whoever they may be, will be the first to bow before the Lord. And those among us who have exhibited a Christlycharacter and have served the cause of Christ heartily will the most deeply feel that if the Lord had taken the candlestickout of its place and left us in the darkness, we had well deserved it. Eternally blessed be the name of the Ever Merciful!When we have sinned, we have always had an Advocate before the Throne of God and the blood of sprinkling has ever been uponus to make us clean in the sight of the Lord! Blessed be His name! Though iniquities prevail against us, yet, as for our transgressions,He has purged them away and still does His Church lift up her face and live in the smile of His love, rejoicing and triumphant!Beloved, this ought to make us praise God with all our hearts and the Psalmist manifested the wisdom of Inspiration in remindingus of it.
And once more, the sacred privileges which infinite mercy has bestowed upon us should compel us with glad alacrity to magnifythe name of God! See how the Psalm proceeds-"Blessed is the man whom You choose, and cause to approach unto You, that he maydwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, even of Your holy temple." Many now present firstlearned in this house their election of God, for here they were called by almighty Grace and enabled to approach their heavenlyFather! Blessed be the choosing and calling Lord who now gives us access to Himself and nearness to His Person! Do you rememberwhen you first drew near to Him with weeping eyes and melting hearts because His love had broken down your rebellious wills?Oh, it was a sorrowful coming, but it was a true coming, for God was calling you!
And do you remember, afterwards, when you came to Him with glad hearts and rejoicing eyes, for the Lord had put away yoursin and you stood "accepted in the Beloved"? Oh, that glad day! Last Sunday we sang-"Happy day, happy day." And we may singit every day and every morning and evening of our lives and not sing it too often! The Lord who chose us and called us andmade us to approach Him has not, since that day, become our enemy, for He has allowed us ever since to dwell in His house!We are His children! We have not called upon Him like strangers, but we have dwelt in His house as sons and daughters! Hehas been abiding with us and we have been made to abide in Him! Shall we not praise Him for this? This very house of prayerhas been, to some of you, a quiet resting place. You have been more at home here than when you have been at home.
I am bound to say that you remember more happy times you have had here than anywhere else-and these have put out of your memorythe sad records of your hard battling in the world even for a livelihood! I know that many of you live by your Sabbaths. Youstep over the intervening space from Lord's-Day to Lord's-Day as if the Lord had made a ladder of Sabbaths for you to climbto Heaven! And you have been fed in the Lord's house as well as rested. I know you have, for he who deals out the meat hasbeen fed himself and when he is fed, he knows that others have like appetites and need like food and know when they get it!You have clapped your hands for very joy when redeeming Grace and dying love have been the theme and infinite, sovereign,changeless mercy has been the subject of the discourse!
You have been blessed every happy Sabbath you have had, my Brothers and Sisters-every holy Monday evening's Prayer Meeting-everyoccasion on which God has met with you in any of the rooms of this building when a few of you, at early morning or late inthe evening have met together for prayer! Every time, the visits of Jesus' love have charmed your soul up to Heaven's gate!By all of these bless and magnify His name who has crowned the years with His goodness! There had been no food for us if theLord had not given us manna from Heaven! There had been no comfortable rest for us if He had not breathed peace upon us! Therehad been no coming in of new converts, nor going out with rapturous joy of the perfected ones up to the seats above if theLord had not been with us and, therefore, to Him be all the praise!
I do not suppose that any stranger here will understand this matter. It may even be that such will judge that we are indulgingin self-acclamation under a thin disguise-but this evil we must endure for once! You, my Brothers and Sisters, who have beentogether these many years, know what is meant and you know that it is not within the compass of an angel's tongue to expressthe gratitude which many of us feel who, for these 25 years, have been banded together in closest and heartiest Christianbrotherhood in the service of our Lord and Master! Strangers cannot guess how happy has been our fellowship, or how true ourlove! Only eternity shall reveal the multitude of mercies with which God has visited us by means of our association in thisChurch! It is to some of us friend, nurse, mother, home all in one!
If we sing more heartily about ourselves as recipients of Divine Mercy than some might think comely, we can only say thatwe cannot help it. If you drop in at a marriage and there is much said at the wedding feast about the family and its history,you need not go and put it in the papers, nor even criticize the family greetings too closely. Very likely they do seem tolook too exclusively at home affairs, but pardon them for once. Well, whether men forgive me or not, I must and will speak!But all I have to say is to ascribe every good thing unto the Lord, alone, even to the God of Abraham, "the God of the wholeearth shall He be called."
II. Now we will turn to a second point. In the second place, THE ENCIRCLING BLESSING OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS IS TO BE CONFESSED.The Psalmist sings-"You crown the year with Your goodness." As though God circled the year and put a coronet about its head-agem for every month, a pearl for every day-a matchless crown of unceasing goodness which surrounds the whole year! Now I ventureto say that the period of 25 years, or a whole quarter of a century, wears its royal crown even more conspicuously than anysingle year! From the first day even until now God has enclosed the whole time with His goodness. I make no exceptions! Wehad a dark day, once, when we were scattered with sorrow, but as I read the fifth verse of the Psalm, it is easy to work itinto our praise-"By terrible things in righteousness will you answer us, O God of our salvation."
Standing happily among you, addressing you in this calm and quiet manner, recall that night in which the multitude seemedto be taken with sudden panic and to rush madly from the house-and then we heard of dead and wounded in our congregation-andthe preacher's heart was broken till he felt it would be well to die! Yet out of that calamity, with all its unspeakable grief,there sprang a blessing, the fruit of which we still continue to reap. Yes, I make no exception to anything! Sick and ill,oftentimes, has the preacher been, but valued lessons have thus been taught to him and through him taught to the people. Sicknesshas fallen here and there and sometimes affliction and poverty-but you have, all of you, learned something under the rod andyou have blessed God for His fatherly discipline filled with eternal benefits! Yes, Lord, it is true in our case, "You crownthe year with Your goodness."
Now, let us just look at this all-encircling goodness of the Lord which we have seen from the first day till now. I saw it,first of all, in inspiring the few Brethren that met together as a Church with confidence in God at the very outset. Our firstmeeting for prayer was, I think, more largely attended than our first sermon. The Church was diminished and brought low, butthe Brethren prayed with great reliance upon God and showed no sign of distrust. They did not say, "Die." They did not believein becoming extinct, but every man seemed resolved to set his face like a flint to win prosperity at the hands of God-andfor this I thank Him! Is He not said in our Psalm to be the confidence of the ends of the earth? This confidence was the beginningof an endless chain of goodness!
Then the Lord was pleased in infinite mercy to prepare men's hearts to hear the Gospel. It was not possible, they said, thatgreat places could be filled with crowds to hear the old-fashioned Gospel! The pulpit had lost its power, so unbelievers toldus, and yet no sooner did we begin to preach in simple strains, the Gospel of Christ, than the people flew as a cloud andas doves to their windows! And what listening there was at Park Street, where we scarcely had air enough to breathe! And whenwe got into the larger place, what attention was manifest! What power seemed to go with every
word that was spoken! I say it, though I was the preacher, it was not I, but the Grace of God which was with me! There werestricken down among us some of the most unlikely ones! There were brought into the Church and added to God's people some ofthose that had wandered far away from the path of Truth and Righteousness-and these, by their penitent love, quickened ourlife and increased our zeal!
The Lord gave the people, more and more, a willingness to hear and there was no pause in the flowing stream of hearers, norin the incoming of converts. The Holy Spirit came down like showers which saturate the soil till the clods are ready for thebreaking! And then it was not long before we heard on the right and on the left the cry, "What must we do to be saved?" Wewere busy enough in those days in seeing converts and thank God we have been ever since! We had some among us who gave themselvesup to watch for the souls of men and we have a goodly number of such helpers now, perhaps more than we ever had and, thankGod, these found and still find many souls to watch over! Still the arrows fly and still the smitten cry out for help andask that they may be guided to the great healing Lord. Blessed be God's name for this! He went with us all those early daysand gave us sheaves even at the first sowing, so that we began with mercy and He has been with us even until now-till ourlife has become one long harvest-home!
I am bound to acknowledge with deep thankfulness that during these 25 years the Word has been given me to speak when the timehas come for preaching. It may look to you a small thing that I should be able to come before you in due time, but it willnot seem so to my Brothers in the ministry who remember that for 25 years my sermons have been printed as they have been delivered.It must be an easy thing to go and buy discourses at sixpence or a shilling-each ready lithographed-and read them off as hirelingsdo. But to speak your heart out every time and yet to have something fresh for 25 years is no child's play! Who shall do itunless he cries to God for help? I read but the other day a newspaper criticism of myself in which the writer wondered thata man should keep on, year after year, with so few themes and such a narrow groove to travel in!
But, my Brothers and Sisters, it is not so! Our themes are infinite for number and fullness! Every text of Scripture is boundlessin its meaning! We could preach from the Bible throughout eternity and not exhaust it! A narrow groove? The thoughts of Godnarrow? The Divine Word narrow? They know it not, for His commandments are exceedingly broad. Had we to speak of politicsor philosophy, we had run dry long ago-but when we have to preach the Savior's everlasting love-the theme is always fresh,always new! The Incarnate God, the atoning blood, the risen Lord, the coming Glory-these are subjects which defy exhaustion!Yet we bless the Eternal Spirit who gives both seed to the sower and bread to the eater, that we have had spiritual food forour people as often as the season has come round! I must render my special praise and if at any time you have been blessedby the Word of God I have spoken, you must render your tribute, too.
All these years He has crowned us with His goodness by giving us the good Word to preach in His name. But, dear Brothers andSisters, I am most happy to thank God for crowning the years with His goodness by helping us in the reaping and gatheringin of souls. I say, "us," advisedly. Here we have had a Church which from the first began to seek the souls of men. If anyof you do not work for Christ, I should think you have a hard time of it among us, for one or another is pretty sure to usethe ox-goad upon you! Both by example and by precept and by the general spirit of the brotherhood, idlers stand rebuked! OurBrothers and Sisters from the first began working for the good of men as best they could. Not in a fine, artistic manner-Ido not think we ever tried that-we did it in a very bland manner, but we went at it with all our hearts.
Our young Brothers tried their hands at teaching and preaching-very likely it was intellectually very poor preaching-but itwas full of heart and it did good in spite of its many imperfections. The teaching and the looking after converts; the tryingto form new churches; the opening of Prayer Meetings and all sorts of holy works were not done after any set fashion-but somehowthey were done and often done with a desperate valor and a simple faith which surprised and cheered me! Often and often haveI brushed the tears from my eyes when I have received from some here present offerings for the Master's work which utterlysurpassed all my ideas of giving. The consecration of your substance by some among you has been Apostolic! I have known thosewho have so given from their poverty that they have sometimes given all that they had-and when I have even hinted at theirexceeding the bounds of prudence, they have seemed hurt and pressed the gift, again, for some other work of the Master whomthey love.
The Lord knows every one of your hearts-where you have come short He knows and may His Grace forgive-but where, as I mosthonestly bear witness, many here have gone up to the measure of their ability and even beyond it, He knows and will reward!For your zeal, industry and consecration I must bless the Lord who crowns the years with His goodness! There are few amongyou, I should think, who have worked for the Master who have not seen most encouraging results in the conversions of thosefor whom you have cared. Certainly there are many among you between whom and myself there might pass a telegraphic glanceawakening glad memories. You have brought to me one after another souls that you have won. You wanted me to speak to thempersonally because you have an idea that I might be more tender than anybody else. I am afraid you think too highly of mein this respect. Still I have been right glad to see those you brought to me because they were your children.
How glad I have been that, inasmuch as I brought you to Christ through His Grace, when you have brought others to Christ Ihave seemed to be a sort of grandfather in your midst, rejoicing in your joy, triumphing in your success! And I mean it sincerelywhen I say that I look upon many of you with an intense love and satisfaction because God has made you great winners of souls.You have not sat here to listen to me and to enjoy your Sundays, but you have been sowers of the good Seed. You have manytimes denied yourselves the privileges of God's house that you might go and look after others-and the Lord has given you yourwages! How many you have brought back whose feet had almost gone! How many you have helped by sweet encouragement when theyhave been depressed! I know not all your labors of love, but God knows!
This much I do know, that the pastorate of this Church is practically carried out by the Church itself! Beloved elders laborwith a diligence which I cannot commend too highly, still it were impossible with 5,000 persons to care for, that a few menshould fulfill the service. You watch over one another in the Lord and for this I bless Him, to whom must be rendered allthe praise. I feel the more free to speak about what He has worked by you and in you because you will not take any glory toyourselves but lay it at His feet. Lord, You have blessed us exceedingly beyond what we asked or even thought-and in returnwe bless You!
When I remember how, as a boy, I stood among you, Brothers and Sisters, and feebly began to preach of Jesus Christ and howthese 25 years without dissension, yes, without the dream of dissension, in perfect love compacted as one man, you have goneon from one work of God to another and have never halted, hesitated or drawn back, I must and will bless and magnify Him whohas crowned these years with His goodness!
III. Now I come to my closing point. It is this-THE CROWNING BLESSING IS CONFESSED TO BE OF God- not only the encircling blessingbut the crowning blessing. What is the crown of a Church? Well, some Churches have one crown and some another. I have heardof a church whose crown was its organ-the biggest organ, the finest organ ever played-and the choir the most wonderful choirthat ever was. Everybody in the district said, "Now, if you want to go to a place where you will have fine music, that isthe spot." Our musical friends may wear that crown if they please. I will never pluck at it or decry it-I feel no temptationin that direction!
I have heard of others whose crown has been their intellect. There are very few hearers. Indeed, not as many people by one-tenthas there are seats, but then they are such a select people, the elite, the thoughtful and intelligent! The ministry is suchthat only one in a hundred can possibly understand what is said and the one in the hundred who does understand it is, therefore,a most remarkable person! That is their crown! Again I say I will not envy it. Whatever there may be that is desirable aboutit, the Brother who wears it shall wear it all his days for me. I have heard of other crowns-among the rest, that of being"a most respectable church." All the people are respectable. The minister, of course, is respectable. I believe he is, "Reverend,"or, "Very Reverend," and everybody and thing about him is, to the last degree, "respectable."
Fustian jackets and cotton gowns are warned off by the surpassing dignity of everything in and around the place. As for aworking man, such a creature is never seen on the premises and could not be supposed to be-if he were to come he would say-"Thepreacher preaches double Dutch or Greek, or something of the sort." He would not hear language which he could understand!This is not a very brilliant crown, this crown of respectability-it certainly never flashed ambition into my soul.
Our crown under God has been this-the poor have the Gospel preached to them, souls are saved and Christ is glorified! O mybeloved Church, hold fast what you have, that no man take this crown away from you! As for me, by
God's help, the first and last thing that I long for is to bring men to Christ! I care nothing about fine language, or aboutthe pretty speculations of prophecy, or a hundred dainty things! I desire only to break the heart and bind it up-to lay holdof a sheep of Christ and bring it back into the fold is the one thing I live for! You, also, are of the same mind, are younot? Well, we have had this crowning blessing that, as nearly as I can estimate, more than 9,000 persons have joined thisChurch. If they were all alive now, or all with us now, what a company they would be! Some have fallen asleep and many aremembers with other churches, working for the Master where they are probably more influential than they could have been athome. Some of our members we were glad to lose because our loss was the gain of the universal Church. We sent them out tocolonize and so to increase the Master's kingdom. For these 9,000 and more let God be praised! It is a crown in which we mustand will rejoice.
But another crown to any Church, I think, is when its members are maintained in their profession. If many are added and thenthey are scattered again-if they do but come to go, if they are found and then straightway lost-what is the benefit of it?But this has been our crown of rejoicing, that we have seen the young converts matured in Divine Grace. The blade has becomethe ear and the ear has become the full corn in the ear for which God is thanked! And there has been this about it, that aswe built together as living stones, so we have remained together! I have a great many faults and I often wonder how it isyou put up with me, but we have not thought of parting-the mortar which holds us together in the building is very binding.I am not so much surprised that I put up with you, for it is my duty and office to bear with all and none of you have causedme grief except such as have walked unworthy and grieved the Spirit of God. We have gone on well together, under God's blessings,these many years and have no hesitation about continuing in the same loving unity.
During these 25 years I have had to attend to the quarrels and differences of scores of little Churches where their weaknessshould have been the strongest argument for union. Men usually divide when they are already too few for the work and thisis a most grievous evil under the sun. Churches torn apart with contention have laid the wretched differences before me andI have had many a heavy burden to carry while trying to set things right. But I have not had to spend one five minutes inseeking to heal a breach in this Church or maintain its unity! The Lord has given us brotherly love and unto His name be praise!Brothers and Sisters who have been members of other Churches where you have seen trouble, you know what a comfort it is tobe connected with a Church where we endeavor to walk in love to one another and where the noise of war has not disturbed ourgates.
Truly I must say and I do say it, "O Lord, You give peace in our borders and You fill us with the finest of the wheat. Youcrown the years with Your goodness." But is this all? We ought to bless God for the fruit-bearing ones that have been amongus. Workers of all sorts are found for the different agencies of the Church as they are required and God has given us somewhom He has honored exceedingly who are our strength for home work. But, besides that, this Church has, this day, an armyof above 400 ministers trained at her side who are now scattered all over the globe preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ,while as a militia we have some 80 or more disseminating godly books! Best of all, we have a growing band of missionaries!My heart leaped within me on Monday night when I heard the young people and saw how one and another of our Brothers were devotingthemselves to mission work. This I reckon to be the brightest crown of all! If the Lord will but infuse the missionary spiritinto us and force out many to go abroad to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ our cup will run over and we shall again haveto say, "Praise waits for You, O God, in Sion, for You crown the years with your goodness."
Last of all, and never to be forgotten, during these 25 years there have gone from us to the upper realms about 800 who hadnamed the name of Jesus. Professing their faith in Christ, living in His fear, dying in the faith they gave us no cause todoubt their sincerity and, therefore, we may not question their eternal safety. Many of them gave us in life and in deathall the tokens we could ask for of their being in Christ and, therefore, we sorrow not as those that are without hope. Why,when I think of them, many of them my sons and daughters now before the Throne of God, they fill me with solemn exultation!Do you not see them in their white robes? Eight hundred souls redeemed by blood! These are only what we know of and had enrolled.How many there may have been converted here who never joined our earthly fellowship, but, nevertheless, have gone Home, Icannot tell.
There probably have been more than those whose names we know, if we consider the wide area over which the printed sermonscirculate. They are gathering Home, one by one, one by one, but they make a goodly company! Our
name is Gad, for "a troop comes." Happy shall we be to overtake those who have marched out ahead of us and entered into thePromised Land! Let us remember them and by faith join our hands with them. Flash a thought to unite the broken family, forwe are not far from them, nor are they far from us, since we are one in Christ! This, too, is our crown.
And now I want one thing more. There is such a thing as a greed that is never satisfied and I have a great greed upon me now.I frankly confess my covetousness. Whenever the Lord gives us any great spiritual gift we want more, nor are we blamed forthis, but bid to covet earnestly the best gifts! This, then, is my further desire. I should be rejoiced beyond measure if,on this night and during the next two or three days in which we keep holy day and bless the Lord for His goodness, some Brothersand Sisters were moved by the Holy Spirit to undertake some new work for Christ which they had not thought of before. Come,my Brother, may the Lord crown this year this day with His goodness by putting it into your heart to break up new soil andsow a fresh field for Jesus! Have you been an idler? Buckle up! Today join the laborers and leave the loiterers! Get to theMaster's work!
Have you already been diligent? I have more hope in appealing to you! Brother, Sister, try something more- something moretonight! Roll over in your mind what there is that is left undone in the branch of holy service for which you are fitted,or for which you might get to be fitted and engage in it at once! Come now! Consecrate yourself to the Lord anew tonight andpray Him to lift you to a higher platform and into a nobler state of consecration! That would be a blessed crowning of theyears with His goodness! And what if some young men here were to say, "We shall prosper in business, no doubt, for we feelup to the mark for it. God has given us brain and skill and a fair opening, but inasmuch as we have capacity we will consecrateit"?
I hear the sorrows of China borne on the wailing of the wind and the sighing of the sea! Millions upon millions are perishingfor lack of knowledge-will no one pity them? The need of India's teeming population cries to us in voices which pierce theheart-will no one listen and help? A voice comes forth from the excellent Glory, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?"It were a crown to end the year with if there came from this and that set of useful, earnest Christian men the reply of individualhearts, "Here am I! Here am I! Send me!" The Lord give us this crown!
One thing more. Oh, if some hearts would yield themselves to the Savior tonight! If some were converted tonight, what a crownthat would be to finish up these years with! Testimonial, Sirs? No testimonial can ever be given to the preacher which canequal a soul converted! These are the seals of our ministry and the wages of our hire! Socrates, on his birthday, had a presentgiven him by each of his students. Some brought less and some brought more. Among the rest there was one who had nothing inthe world to bring and so he came to Socrates and said, "Master, I give you myself. I love you with all my heart." The sagejudged this to be the most precious of all the tributes.
Will not some of you cry, "I do not know that I could be a missionary, or that I have any gifts, or talents, or substancethat I could contribute, but, Lord, I give my heart to You to be renewed by Grace"? God bring you, poor sinner, to Jesus'feet to surrender your whole nature to His sway that He may wash it in His blood, fill it with His Spirit and use it for HisGlory! He says, "My son, give me your heart," and when the heart is yielded, He accepts the gift! May the Eternal Spirit leadmany to give themselves thus to Jesus this night and it will be the crowning joy of all the years! Amen and amen!