Sermon 1623. Wholehearted Religion
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 9, 1881,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them, and of their children afterthem." Jeremiah 32:39.
THOSE of you who were present last Lord's-Day morning will remember my sermon upon "Mongrel Religion," [Sermon #1622] in whichI dealt with those who feared the Lord and served other gods. Their heart was divided and, therefore, they were found faulty.They had, as the Hebrew puts it, a heart and a heart-a heart that went this way and a heart that went the other way. And so,as a matter of fact, they became, as the Prophet says, as "a silly dove that has no heart." The discourse of this morningis intended to exhibit wholehearted religion which is the opposite of the sad mixture which we have so lately denounced. Wewish to look upon persons of Caleb's stamp, who followed the Lord fully- in whom, by the Grace of God, the divided heart hasbecome united-so that with their whole heart they serve the Lord their God.
Our text is an extract from Jeremiah's copy of the Covenant of Grace. The Lord promises to Israel, "They shall be My people,and I will be their God." And in the 40th verse He says, "And I will make an everlasting Covenant with them, that I will notturn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me." This, then,is the Covenant of Grace which God has made with His people and it is highly suggestive that the first blessing of it relatesto the heart, for God, when He begins with men, does not begin with the outward way, but with the inward spirit. He puts it,"I will give them one heart and one way"-the way is second-the heart comes first. Understand, then, that in all true godlinesswe must begin with heart-work.
It is no use hoping to polish the outside until, by degrees, you enlighten the interior. No, but the light must first be placedwithin and then, as it shines through, spots on the exterior will be discovered and will all the more readily be cleansedaway. God works not to the center, but in the center, and then from the center into the outer life. In reference to the heart,one of the earliest works of Divine Grace is to unite it in one. Strange to say, but I would be equally truthful if I saidthat one of the first works of Grace is to break the heart-but so paradoxical is man that when his heart is unbroken, it isdivided-and when his heart is broken, then, for the first time, it is united, for a broken heart, in every fragment of it,mourns over sin and cries out for mercy.
Every shattered particle of a contrite spirit is united in one desire to be reconciled to God. There is no union of the heartwith itself till it is broken for sin and from sin. Early in the morning of Grace, the man comes to himself and is restoredto the unity of his manhood. The effect of this inner reunion is very salutary. We read of the prodigal, that, "when he cameto himself," he said, "I will arise and go to my father." The heart is united in itself when it is united to the Lord! Evenas the Lord has said by the mouth of the Prophet, "I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shallbe My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart."
It is of this unitedness of heart that I shall speak first. And then I shall go on to those other Covenant blessings whichcome after it, according to the text. These are placed after it, in order to show its great value, since it is the first stepto exceedingly precious blessings. First, then, we will consider unitedness of heart-"I will give them one heart." Secondly,the blessing which immediately arises out of it, consistency of walk-"I will give them one way." From these two come the thirdblessing, "steadfastness of principle-"that they may fear Me forever." And consequent upon all this comes personal blessings,"for the good of them." And attendant upon that favor, relative benediction-"and for the good of their children after them."Our program is very extensive-may the Spirit of God help us to fill it up.
I. We begin, then, at the beginning, with UNITEDNESS OF THE HEART. Our first statement under this head shall be that it isnaturally divided. Sin is confusion and at its entrance it created a Babel, or a confusion, within the heart of
man. Until man sinned, his nature was one and undivided, but the Fall broke him and destroyed his unity. Within him, now,there are many voices, many imaginations and many devices. Within him there is strife and contention, wars and fights, whichcome of his lusts, which struggle with each other and with his understanding. Observe the contest which is constantly visiblebetween his conscience and his affections. His affections choose that which is evil, while his conscience approves that whichis right. The desires go after that which appears to be pleasant, but the judgment warns the mind of its folly and, therefore,a controversy between the two powers of the soul.
The lusts crave for that which the intellect condemns; the passions demand that which the reason would deny; the will persistsin that which the judgment would forego! The ship of our manhood will not obey the helm; there is a mutiny on board and thosepowers which should be underlings, strive for the mastery. Man is dragged to and fro by contending forces; conscience drawsthis way and the affections drag in the opposite direction. Our propensities and faculties are, by nature, like the crowdin the Ephesian theater of whom we read, "Some, therefore, cried one thing and some another; for the assembly was confused."
We sin not without some measure of compunction and we do not quit our sin, thoroughly, even when we yield to conscience, forthe heart still hankers after that which the conscience disallows. To many a man it is given to admire things that are excellentand still to delight in things which are abominable! His conscience bids him rise to a pure and noble life, but his baserpassions hold him down to that which is earthly and sensual. Frequently, too, there is a very great division between a man'sinward knowledge and his outward conduct. Men are often wise in the head and foolish in the hand-they know the right and dothe wrong! The Law of God is read in their hearing and written upon their memories and yet it is forgotten in their lives.They are men of great discernment in theory and yet in their actions they put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; darknessfor light and light for darkness!
They sin against the Light of God-"They love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." Often and often theman is as right as Justice, herself, in his opinions, and clear as the day in his information-and yet he gropes as the blindand stumbles at noonday as in the night! His knowledge goes one way and his will another. He knows the consequences of sinand, therefore, fears! He perceives the pleasureableness or profit of sin and, therefore, presumes! He is sure that he willnever be so base as to fall into a certain fault, but, by-and-by, he rushes into it and defends himself for so doing, tillhe changes his fickle mind-and then he denounces that which just now he allowed! How can he be right with God when he is noteven right with himself?
All through the carnal man, if you look at him, there is confusion and mischief! We would call that creature a monster whichhad its head towards the earth and its feet towards Heaven-and yet the carnal man lives in that position! He ought to treadthe world beneath his feet, but he places it above-while the Heaven to which he should aspire, he daily spurns! He lets hisanimal passions, which should be treated as the dogs of his flock, become his lords and masters. He reverses the order ofNature and bids the beast within him to have dominion over the spirit. Appetites, which in their way are good if they arekept in with bit and bridle, are permitted to become evil because they have unlimited indulgence and are allowed to be thetyrants of the soul! The Ishmael of the flesh mocks the Isaac of the conscience and is unreproved! Solomon said, "I have seenservants upon horses and princes walking as servants upon the earth." And the same may be seen in the little world withinwhere appetites rule and grander capacities are placed in servitude.
Man is a puzzle and none can put him together but He that made him at the first. He is a self-contradiction, a house dividedagainst itself, a mystery of iniquity, a maze of folly, a mass of perversity, obstinacy and contention! Sin has made the heartto be so inwardly divided as to be like the troubled sea which cannot rest, or like a cage of unclean birds-every one fightingits fellow-or like a den of wild beasts which cease not to rend each other. When man cast off the yoke of the One God, hefell under bondage to many gods and many lords who struggle for supremacy and make the one kingdom into many rival principalities.
Since sin became natural to man, it became natural that man's heart should be divided. But it must be united-that is the pointand, therefore, the Covenant promise, "I will give them one heart." For, dear Friends, in the matters of godliness, if ourheart is not whole and entire in following after God, we cannot meet with acceptance. God never did and never will receivethe homage of a divided heart! Alexander, when Darius proposed that the two great monarchs should divide the world, repliedthat there was only room for one sun in the heavens. What his ambition affirmed, God declares from the necessity of the case.Since one God fills all things, there is no room for another! It is not possible for a heart to
be given up to falsehood and yet to be under the power of truth! It is idle to attempt to serve two such masters as holinessand iniquity.
God cannot smile upon an unhallowed compromise and allow men to bow in the house of Rimmon and yet worship in His holy Temple.God will have all or nothing-He will have us only, wholly, altogether and always His or else He will have nothing to do withus! False gods can bear a divided empire, but the true God cannot have it. You may assemble a parliament of idols, but Jehovahsays, "I am God alone." It was once proposed to the Roman senate to set up the image of Christ in the Pantheon among the gods,but when they were informed that He would not agree that any worship should be mingled with His own, the senate straightwayrefused Him a shrine. In this they acted in a manner consistent with itself-but those are altogether inexcusable who swearby the Lord and swear by Malcham!
We provoke the Lord to jealousy when we offer Him a corner in our souls and allow our vain thoughts to lodge within us. Errorscan lie down like sheep in a field, but no error can lie side by side with the lordly lion of the Truth of God! There is nogod but God. Jehovah, He is God! There is one Mediator between God and man-the Man Christ Jesus. Whatever a man sets up inhis heart as the object of his affections in opposition to God is a vain, a vile, a vicious thing-and that man cannot be acceptedof the Lord! Would you, then, serve God, O man? Him only must you serve. Would you bring unto Him an offering? You must firstgive Him your heart-your undivided heart. He cries, "My son, give Me your heart," and He says not, "Give Me a share of it."
He will not call that house His Temple where other things are worshipped as well as Himself. Abhorrence, not acceptance, shallfall to the lot of that man who is half-hearted with God! And is not this as it should be? Does not the love of Jesus deserveour wholehearted love in return? His love, which made Him become Man, deserves man's entire homage! His love which led Himto the Cross deserves that we be crucified to the world for His sake! His love to death demands that we be dead to sin forHis sake! His love which now rules all Heaven for our sakes deserves our soul, our life, our all. He gave Himself for us-Hiswhole self-and we must give our whole hearts to Him.
In the chapter before us the Lord says, "Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this landassuredly with My whole heart and with My whole soul." Shall we give half a heart to our wholehearted God? Shall we be double-mindedwhen He is so intense in blessing us? Shall we love the world and hope to have the love of the Father in us at the same time?God will not have it and we do not wish it. The heart must be united! We have seen that it must be united for acceptance.We now note that it must be united for sincerity-a divided heart is a false heart. Where there is no unity of heart thereis no truth in the spirit. Tell me that you love the world and I will tell you that the love of the world is enmity to God!Declare that you will serve Belial ever so little and I know that your service to Christ is but Judas' service-mercenary,temporary, traitorous! Sincerity does not open the front door to Christ and the back gate to the devil.
Our heart must be united, next, for intensity of life. True religion needs the soul to be always at a fervent heat. "The kingdomof Heaven," says our Lord, "suffers violence and the violent take it by force." None climb the hill whereon the New Jerusalemis built except such as go on hands and knees and, laying aside every weight, give themselves wholly to the divine ascent.The pilgrim who hopes to reach the better land and makes a pleasure trip of it is under a mistake-it is hard traveling andrequires ardor and perseverance. It is so in every good word and work. A lazy prayer requests a denial and shall have it.Half-hearted praise is an insult to God and everything in religion that is not done with all our heart, with all our soul,with all our strength-is a sin-however much it may look like a virtue! When we are most intense, we do not come up to thezeal which these important things deserve-how can we, then, imagine that we can please God with less than our best?
Know you not that our Lord has said, "Because you are lukewarm, I will spue you out of My mouth"? No stronger expression ofdisgust can possibly be used and this disgust is not for the bold and hardened rebel, but for the moderate disciple who servedGod without fail, but without zeal! God loves a whole heart, but half a heart is His abhorrence. Only those who run with alltheir might will win the race and, as the man of divided heart is lame in both his feet, he can have no hope of the prize.Lord, make my heart one that I may give it all to You and spend and be spent in Your one service, since You, only, are theOne in whom my soul delights!
The heart must be united to be consecrated. Will God be served with broken cups and cracked flagons? And shall His altarsbe polluted with torn and mangled sacrifices? All the things in Heaven and earth which the Lord acknowledges as
consecrated things are dedicated to Him and to Him alone. Can you imagine that within the Holy Place there would be an altar,part of which was used for sacrifices offered to Jehovah-and another portion for victims presented to Molech? The idea cannotbe endured! The Lord said of old to Ezekiel, "Son of man, the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, whereI will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever, and My holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neitherthey, nor their kings, in their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their posts by My posts." God will not accountthat to be consecrated to Himself which is used by another. Brethren, we must be wholly consecrated unto the Lord, or we cannotbe consecrated to Him at all! We are unconsecrated, we are polluted, we are as things accursed if we are divided in heart!
Once more, we must have our heart united or else none of the blessings which are to follow in Covenant order can possiblyreach us. For, look, "I will give them one heart." And then it follows, "one way"-no man will have a consistent, uniform waywhile he has a divided heart! Read next, "That they shall fear Me forever." But no man will fear God forever unless fear hastaken possession of his whole heart! The convert may profess to follow the Lord for a while, but he will soon turn aside.He who does not begin with his whole heart will soon tire of the race. "Forever" is a long day and requires our whole soulto hold on and to hold out!
The Lord also promises that this shall be "for the good of them, and of their children after them." But those who give Goda part of their heart neither win a blessing for themselves nor for their posterity-they are not among the seed that God hasblessed, neither can they be. Oh men and women, if your hearts run here and there and your aims and desires are scatteredlike a flock of sheep-running abroad according to their own willfulness-the Good Shepherd will not feed you! When He comesto visit you, He will gather all your desires and aspirations into one fold-and then He will lead you into green pasturesand make you to lie down therein. As under the old Law men might not sow with mingled seed, nor wear garments of linen andwoolen mixed, so neither can those of divided way and heart come into the favor of God.
So I leave the first head when I have noticed that, according to the text, God will give His chosen this unified heart-"Iwill give them one heart." Ah, we shall never obtain this blessing other than as a free gift of God's Grace! Teachers mayput holy thoughts into our heads, but they cannot alter our hearts. We may unite our thoughts in some system of divinity,but we can never unite our desires upon the Divinity, Himself, except we experience a work of Grace upon our souls. The oneLord must make our heart one! He who once made the heart, must make it anew to make it one. "There is one body and one Spirit,even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is aboveall, and through all, and in you all." But none of these seven ones would ever be ours unless it were added, "But unto everyone of us is given Grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ," and only that Grace can make our heart one!
This the Lord does, in part, by enlightenment through the light of His Holy Spirit. He shows us the worthlessness and deceptivenessof everything that would attract our hearts away from Jesus and from our God. And when we see the evil of the rival, we giveour heart entirely to Him whom we worship. The Lord works this, also, by a still more thorough process, for He weans us fromall idolatrous loves. He makes our carnal delights to become bitter to us, so that we turn aside from them with disgust, evenas the Egyptians loathed to drink of the waters of the river which they formerly idolized, for the Lord had turned it intoblood. He puts gall upon the breasts of the world and then we look elsewhere for comfort. It takes much to make us cry withDavid, "My soul is even as a weaned child."
Disease and death are summoned to shoot their fatal arrows at our dearest ones before we will give God the whole of our hearts.It is hard to love the creature much and yet not too much-it is a great thing to love our beloved ones in Christ and in subordinationto Christ. Many a mother has had to lose child after child because she had stirred the jealousy of the best Beloved by dividingher heart between Him and her little ones. Many a man in business has fallen from wealth and prosperity because God saw thatHis heart went astray after His possessions. Doubtless many have had eloquence, talent and gifts of various kinds-and theydoted upon these things until it has been necessary to remove them to unite their hearts upon God and so they have been laidaside by sickness, or the mind has lost its vigor, or the voice has failed and the gift has become a plague, rather than acomfort-and thus their heart has lost its idol and has turned unto the Lord.
If Christ is married to us, He will have use chaste unto Himself. What would we think of a man who is engaged to a woman andis found spending his love upon another as well? We say he is false and treacherous, and we utterly despise him. He oughtto give his heart to her whom he has espoused and to love her with constancy, or he cannot be esteemed a pure-minded man.Even so, in our dealings with the Lord Jesus, we must be watchful lest a single desire or affection should prove false toHim. Such a glorious Object of affection must fill the whole horizon of the soul, even as the sun fills all the heavens withhis light and the stars are quite forgotten. All the rivers run into the sea and so must all our love run to Jesus. Oh Brothersand Sisters, shut the gates of your hearts lest any steal away by night from the Lord! The heart must be whole and whollyHis.
Remember that you may have a great gash in your head and yet you may live. But if but a pin's point should divide your heart,you will die. Ask for Divine Grace to say with the Psalmist, "O God, my heart is fixed." Then, indeed, will you sing and givepraise. This is not only important, it is essential! See, my Hearers, whether you have received this choice blessing of theCovenant of Grace, each one for himself-this holy, uniting work of the Spirit of God.
II. If we have this, we may now advance to the second blessing of the Covenant here mentioned, which is CONSISTENCY OF WALK-"IWill give them one way." When the heart is united, the man lives for a single objective and that alone. Running in one direction,striving for one purpose, he keeps to the one way which leads to Heaven. As Christ is our one life, so is He our one way.Without this unity, there can be no truth in a man's life. If he spins by day, and unravels at night, he is acting out a falsehood.If he runs to the right while men look at him, but trudges back, again, to the old post, as soon as men's eyes are taken fromhim, his life is double-talk-which is but a fine word for a lie!
It is a dreadful thing for a man's word to be a lie, but for a man's whole life to be a lie is still more horrible. We mayhave much more of the liar about us than we dream. Let us see to it and pray God, that, like Nathanael, we may have no guilein us. We may patch up our life with bits of religion and remnants of profession till it becomes like the beggar's coat, ofwhich no man knows the original-such a garment may be fit for a beggar-but shall we wear it? The seamless garment of the Truthof God, woven from the top throughout, adorns a Christian, but motley raiment proves a man a fool. Unless we follow the Lordwith one heart and one way, we shall be found to be liars, after all, and if all liars have their portion in the lake thatburns with fire and brimstone, which is the Second Death, what will be his lot whose life was false to itself and false toGod? Inconsistency of behavior shows that the Truth of God is little set by in the heart.
We must, dear Friends, have one walk, or else our life will make no progress. He who travels in two opposite directions willfind himself not moving forward. How is it that some professors are at much the same place as they occupied 20 years ago?Years have made them more gray, but not more gracious! At night they fastened up their boat in a little creek of the riverand when the tide ran out, they waited and waited until, close to the end of its running-and then they went down a littleway with the tide but very soon the stream ceased to turn-and so they drifted back with the flood and hitched up near thesame muddy shore as before! Like a pendulum, they travel far, but get no farther! Growth, progress, advancement-none of thesecan they know, for they are double-minded-and so run to and fro in the earth and wear themselves out with vanity.
Multitudes of people are doing this! They make such progress one Sunday that they resolve, from now on, to live unto God.They begin at a steam engine rate! They plow the sea of life in their eagerness-they are like a vessel which has had new boilersput into her! But by tomorrow where are they? They have burst their boilers, or they have allowed the fires to go out-andfrom now on they are without spiritual life or motion and lie like logs upon the stream. This will not do! We must have oneway of uniform vitality. I do not say that we can always make apparent progress at the same rate, for powerful under-currentsaffect our life and a man may be doing much who is successfully over adverse influences.
When a fierce wind is blowing, a captain at the will may be driven on shore if he does not steam right into the teeth of thehurricane. If he does this, is he not making the surest real progress if he manages to stay where he is and avoid the fataldanger? I say, then, that if we do not seem to advance, we may, nevertheless, in the judgment of God, be making true progressif we resist the mighty impulses which would otherwise hurry us on to destruction. But if we have two ways and steer thisway and that way and every way by turns-with the view of pleasing men and making things easy all round-we cannot speed towardsthe desired haven. We must choose and keep to one way or we cannot attain to usefulness.
What influence has a double-minded man? If a man speaks for God, today, and so lives, tomorrow, that he virtually speaks forthe devil, what power has he over those around him? How can he lead who has no way of his own? If your actions play fast andloose with truth. If your life is a checkerboard of black and white. If you are everything by turns and nothing long, whatforce, for good, can you possibly exert? Consistency and unity of life are necessary to usefulness! And I am sure it is necessaryfor anything like assurance. The best of Believers may, through holy anxiety, question their own state, but the man who hastwo ways may well sing-
"'Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do Ilove the Lord or no?
Am I His or am I not?"
O you who are inconsistent in life, I must be bold to tell you that many of your friends are even more in doubt about youthan you are about yourself! 'Tis a point we also long to know, for we cannot tell whether you love the Lord or no, whetheryou are His or not! Sometimes we see happy signs about you and our charity hopes all things. But when we see you falling,again, into evil ways, we are distressed and even our charity weeps over you! How can we be assured of your change of heartwhen we see so little change of life? What a pity to lead such a life that it puzzles those who love you best to form anyjudgment as to your condition! If you were to die as you are, we should not know which way you would go, for your presentpath is dubious and intricate.
Would you go to Heaven or Hell? Common judgment would depend upon whether you died in one of your good fits or in one of yourbad ones! Is this a pleasant way of putting it? O you who blow hot and cold, you are strange beings! You seem, to the commonobserver, to be too good for Hell and not good enough for Heaven! You cannot be divided at the last and, therefore, you mayrest assured that the powers of evil will seize you as their own! No person can come to any true personal assurance whilehis life is of a double character. But if I know that I have one heart and that my heart belongs to my Lord-and that I haveone way, a way of obedience to Him-then may I be assured that I am His!
If I cannot make such progress as I would, yet if I follow my Lord and keep my face steadfastly set towards Jerusalem, thenI know where I am, what I am and where I am going! Holiness of life proves our faith and faith ensures our salvation-and salvationbegets joy, peace, and confidence! "Hereby we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments." A plain way will make ourcondition plain. This unity of way is a Covenant blessing-it comes not of man, neither by man, but God gives it to His ownelect as one of the choice favors of His Grace-"I will give them one heart and one way."
III. Briefly we notice, in the third place, the next Covenant blessing, STEADFASTNESS OF PRINCIPLE-"That they may fear Meforever." Get the heart and the way right and then the spiritual force of the fear of God will abide in us in all days tocome. Notice the basis of true religion-it is the fear of God-it is not said that they shall join a Church, make a professionand speak holy words forever. No, it is that, "They may fear Me forever." Oh Brothers and Sisters, our religion must havethe Lord in the very heart of it! We must be in constant contact with God and possess in our souls the true fear of God, foras this is the beginning of wisdom, so is it the only security of perseverance!
When God has given us a true spiritual fear of Him, it will abide all tests. Outward religion depends upon the excitementwhich created it. But the fear of the Lord lives on when all around it is frostbitten. What happens to many converts? Therevivalists have gone and they have gone, too. But if God has given us one heart to love and obey Him and His fear is in us,we do not depend upon the mental thermometer! Like salamanders, we can live in the fire-and like seals, we can live in Arcticice. We are not dependent upon special services and warm-hearted exhortations, for we have a springing well within us! Welive upon the Master and not upon the servants- the Spirit of God does not leave us because certain good men have gone elsewhere.No, God has given us to fear Him forever.
Persecution comes, Christians are ridiculed in the workshop, they are pointed out in the street and an opprobrious name ishooted at them! Now we shall know who are God's elect and who are not! Persecution acts as a winnowing fan and those who arelight as chaff are driven away by its blast. But those who are true corn remain and are purified. Careless of man's esteem,the truly God-fearing man with one heart holds on his one way and fears the Lord forever! Then, perhaps, comes a more serioustest, the trial of prosperity. A man grows rich. He rises into another class of society. If he is not a real Christian, hewill forsake the Lord. But if he is a true-born heir of the Kingdom of God, he will fear the
Lord forever and consecrate his substance to Him. A heart wholly given to God will stand the wear and tear of life in allconditions, whether in honor or in contempt.
Poverty is a severe test to many and I have known numbers of professors forsake the House of God because, as they say, theirclothes were not fit to come in. That is a poor excuse! I fear their hearts were not fit to come in! The fear of God wouldmake the godly man swallow his pride and follow Christ in rags-he will bear a famine of bread and a famine of water-but hecannot endure a famine of the Word of God! His soul must be fed and so he must and will be found where the Lord's Table isspread with the Bread of Heaven. When God stripped Job of all his riches, it was then that his integrity was seen and proven.
With some of you old age is creeping on, but I rejoice to know that your Grace is not decaying! You are becoming deaf; eyesightis failing you and your limbs are trembling-but you can still hear the voice of the Lord and behold the beauties of His Wordand run in the ways of His statutes! If God has given the young man one heart and one way, he will fear God forever and willnot forsake the Lord when infirmities multiply upon him. He will bring forth fruit in old age, to show that the Lord is upright!If our soul is wholly Christ's, we can never go back to perdition-"Who shall separate us from the love of God?"
The Lord has cast such cords of love about us that He holds us fast! We can lose father and mother, yes, and our own lives,also, but we cannot forsake the Lord whose blood has bought us from the lowest Hell! We are bound for the Kingdom-who shallkeep us out of it? We have been shot like arrows from the bow of God and we must speed onward till we rest in the target ofeternal bliss! Oh what a mercy it is to have within us a fear of God which is not to last for a period of years, but forever!
' IV. Very hurriedly I mention the next thing, which is PERSONAL BLESSEDNESS, "for the good of them." Where God gives us oneheart, one way and steadfast principle, it must be for our good in the highest sense. Tell me who are the happiest Christians.They will be found to be wholehearted Christians! When heart and life are divided, happiness leaks through the crack. We mustbe steady in the pursuit of righteousness if we would abide in the enjoyment of peace. Brothers and Sisters, if you want toknow the sweetness of religion, you must know the depth of it! The foam upon the top of the sacred cup is often bitter, butat the bottom lies the essence of sweetness. I will not say, drink deep or drink not at all, but I will say this, that thosewho are content with superficial godliness have no idea of the delights which dwell in the deep places of communion with God.
Plunge into the River of Life! Let body, soul and spirit be immersed into its floods and you shall swim in unspeakable joy!Lose sight of the shores of worldliness and you shall see God's wonders in the deeps! In intense devotion to the Lord youwill find the rare jewel, satisfaction. "O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord!" Sweetcontent never dwells with half-heartedness. This shall be for your good every way-for your guidance in business, for yourdirection in devotion, for the good of your mind here-for the good of your spirit hereafter. To be endowed by Grace with oneheart and one way is to be rendered fit to live and fit to die! I am sure if you read the biographies of men, if they arefairly written, you will find that the good, the true, the great, the noble were single-minded.
Those who have the clearest sight of God are the pure in heart and the undivided in heart-and those who enjoy a Heaven beloware those whose hearts and lives are engrossed with heavenly things. The blessed life is that of fervent love and thoroughconsecration. Do these things abound among you, Brethren? I believe that in this assembly there are more wholehearted Christianmen and women than I am likely to meet with in any other gathering. And yet, for all that, I cannot help fearing that evenhere there are professing Christians who never knew what it was to give their hearts perfectly to God's work, or to the loveof Jesus!
When these people come to the hour of trouble, they are dispirited and rebellious. Would it be so if they were perfectly resignedto God's will? These people are often short of spiritual comforts. Would they be short of them if they had made a clean andclear surrender to their God? I believe they would not. Men who will not eat are starved and weak- and many a disease findssoil within them through the weakness of their constitution. But those who feed on Christ, the Bread of Heaven, are nourishedand strong-and are preserved from a thousand ills by that very fact. O God the Holy Spirit, I cannot talk to Christ's servantsas I wish to do, but You can move them, now, to aspire after a complete giving up of themselves to You, for this shall befor their good!
V. The last is a RELATIVE BLESSING-"And for their children after them." Wholehearted Christians are usually blessed with aposterity of a like kind. Consecrated men and women live to see their children following in their steps. When sons and daughtersforsake the ways of godliness, do you wonder, when you spy out the home life of their parents? If religion is a sham, do youexpect frank young men to respect it? If the father was hollow-hearted in his profession, will not the children despise it?The genuine, thoroughbred Christian is often hated, but he is never the object of contempt. Men may ridicule him and say thathe is a fool, but they cannot help admitting that he is happy! And the wiser sort among them wish that they were such fools,themselves!
Be thorough and true, and your family will respect your faith. The almost inevitable consequence of respect in a child towardshis parent is a desire to imitate him. It is not always so, but as a rule it is so. If the parents live unto God in a thorough-heartedway, their sons and daughters aspire to the same thing. They see the beauty of religion at home around the fireside and theirconscience, being quickened, lead them to pray to God that they may have the same piety, so that when they, themselves, commencea household, they may enjoy the same happiness. Certainly if any of you are the children of eminently godly parents and areliving in sin, your parents' lives condemn you!
Are they in Heaven? Dare you go to their grave and sit upon the grassy hillock and think of how you are living? It will forcetears to your eyes to contrast yourself with them! You may well tremble to think that you neglect your mother's Savior, thatyou forget your father's God! It will go hard with those who leap into Hell-fire over a father's prayers and a mother's entreaties-yetsome seem desperately resolved on such suicide! I hope these are comparatively few and that it is still true, "Train up achild in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Temporal and spiritual blessings come uponhouseholds where the heads of the family are completely consecrated to God. Try it! Try it! I will be bound that you willfind it profitable! If at the Last Great Day you shall find that consecration to Christ is an error, I will be willing tobear the blame myself! I am not afraid that anyone among you will ever censure me for having excited you into a too ferventzeal, or a too devoted life!
Brothers and Sisters, I am afraid of those of you who go ankle deep into religion and never venture further-I am afraid lestyou should, by-and-by, return to the shore! But as for you who plunge into the center of the stream and find waters to swimin, I have no fears! You shall be borne onward by a current ever increasing in strength till in the ocean of eternal loveyou lose yourselves in Heaven above! I can wish you no greater blessing than that the Holy Spirit may make you wholehearted,consistent, persistent, ardent, established and persevering in the things of God! On you and on your household my heart pronouncesthis benediction-the Lord give you one heart and one way that you may fear Him forever. Amen.