Sermon 1848. The Looking Glass
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JULY 5, 1885,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For if anyone is a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for hebeholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect Lawof liberty, and continues in it, he beingnot a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessedin his deed."James 1:23-25.
LAST Lord's Day I tried to show the right way of hearing the Word of God. We spoke of how to behave before the sermon, atthe sermon and after the sermon. May God grant that the word which I then spoke may continue in your minds and bring forthgood fruit! At this time I shall draw a distinction between the true and blessed hearer of the Word and the person who missesthe blessing because he hears to forget. You will forgive my coming back to this subject when I confess that I groan in myown heart with unutterable longings to be a channel of blessing to all who hear or read my discourses. To what purpose doI stand here so often and pour out my soul before you, if you are not the better for it? I am an unhappy sower if all thehandfuls of seed which I scatter must fall upon unbroken soil, to be devoured of birds and never take root. Blessed be God,it is not altogether so! We, by His Grace, have reaped many harvests in this place. But still, our hearts ache for largerresults!
There remain among us, still, those who are impervious to the Truth of God, in whom the Divine Word has taken no lodging-willthese never be saved? They still continue to listen and to listen with kindly respect, but they are not yet doers of the Word.Our lament is that of Paul, "They have not all obeyed the Gospel." They have heard it and, in a measure, appreciated it, butthey have not obeyed it. It has not come to them with power, compelling them to yield to its commands. It will be a sad thingif, when I give in my account, it shall be with grief and not with joy-for this will be as unprofitable for you as it willbe grievous for me. I know that I shall meet my hearers at the Judgment Day and I know, also, that an account will be demandedof me-much more searching than any through which my conscience can put me even when it is most awake! How will you stand inthat account? It will be read in the seven-fold light of that Great Day for which all other days were made! And what willthe record be?
I earnestly desire to present you all as a chaste virgin unto Christ, but I fear it will not be so. Concerning some of you,I fear that I shall have run in vain and labored in vain. I am bowed with grief at such a prospect! O my Hearers, do not killme by destroying your own souls! Oh, that you may now turn to our Lord Jesus and, in Him, find acceptance with the Lord inthat day! The Lord grant it for His infinite mercy's sake!
Two things are very obvious in the text-the first is the hearer of the Word who does not profit by it and is represented aslooking into a glass. And then, secondly, we see the man who does profit by the Word, for he is represented as looking intothe perfect Law. May the Holy Spirit help us to see these clearly!
I. First, then, here is LOOKING INTO A GLASS. Looking into a glass is a trivial business. In all areas men, not to say, women,have been fond of seeing themselves. In the earlier days they had no reflecting glasses as we now have, but they used mirrorsmade of brass and different metals, highly polished. These mirrors yielded a sufficiently clear image of the beholder. Albeit,the children of Israel came out of Egypt in a great hurry, yet we find that the women carried their looking glasses with theminto the wilderness. (See Exodus 38:8). It was according to their womanly nature-whatever else they forgot, they must have the indispensable looking glass forthe purpose of their toilet. It is to their praise, however, that in the desert their devotion overcame their vanity, forwhen the bronze laver was to be made in which the
priests should wash, it was made of the looking glasses of the serving-women who were accustomed to meet at the door of thetabernacle.
Still, the use of the mirror must be ranked among the trifles of life-I see that you are half-smiling at the playfulness whichglitters around a glass. Is not this a hint at the light in which many regard the hearing of the Gospel? They crowd to heara preacher if he has some sort of name-not that they desire to get a blessing, but merely that they may say that they haveheard him-or that they may gratify their curiosity by seeing what he is like. Truly the burden of our lives is a pastime tosome of you! Sirs, this reminds me of the fable of the frogs. When the boys stoned them, the poor creatures said, "It maybe sport to you, but it is death to us!" You may hear me, this day, with the most idle curiosity and judge my message withthe coldest criticism, but if you do not receive the blessings of the Gospel, it strikes a chill at my heart! Your unspiritualhearing is sport to you, but it is death to me! A deadly shadow like a Hell-mist hovers over my Spirit while I suppose itpossible that I am, with all my earnestness, ministering to your condemnation!
Can it be that I am laboriously doing nothing? Worse than that, are my instructions, persuasions and entreaties to be so treatedas to increase your responsibility and bury you under a heavier load of sin? As God's servant, I tremble at so dreadful aprospect! We live if you live unto God-but if you do not turn to God, we wish that we had never been born! It were betterfor us to plow the thankless sea than to utter Truth which will be a savor of death to you. O Sirs, to hear the Gospel willone day appear to be the most solemn of exercises! Indeed, it is not the trivial matter that many make of it! It is infinitelymore than gazing into a mirror. How long will it be before you know this?
Upon my first head of looking into a glass, let me say that to every hearer, the true Word of God is as a mirror. Certainpreachers dream that it is their business to paint pretty pictures, but it is not so. We are not to design and sketch, butsimply to give the reflection of the Truth of God. We are to hold up the mirror to nature, in a moral and spiritual sense,and let men see themselves. We have not even to make the mirror, but only to hold it up! The thoughts of God-not our own thoughts-areto be set before our hearers' minds-these allow a man to discover himself. The Word of the Lord is a revealer of secrets-itshows a man his life, his thoughts, his heart, his inmost self.
A large proportion of hearers only look upon the surface of the Gospel-and to their minds, the surface, alone, is operative.Yet, even that surface is sufficiently effectual to reflect the natural face which looks upon it and this may be of lastingservice if rightly followed up. Brethren, the chief blessing cannot come to us by surface work-he that would be enriched bythe Gospel must dig for it-and must dig deep. He must sink shafts into its fathomless mines, that he may bring up "the muchfine gold." Let not our thoughts glide over the surface of the Word like swift birds that touch the crests of the waves, butlet us plunge into the depths of Scripture like pearl-fishers who seek for hidden treasures.
The Scripture gives a truthful reflection of man's nature-it lets the man see himself, not as others see him, for others makemistakes, nor as he would see himself, for he is very apt to be partial to his own soul-but the Scripture makes him see himselfas God sees him. Look at the Scriptural portrait of a sinner. That is you, O man! Look at the depraved heart, the rebelliouswill, the darkened understanding-that heart, will and understanding are yours, O my Brother! What a sight it is which meetsthe sinner's eyes when he is hearing the faithful Word! "I thought," he says, as he looks into the Word, "that I was muchmore comely than this. I had never dreamed of these freckles and spots! I was not aware that I suffered from such a twistof features, such an exaggeration of one and such a deficiency in another."
The Bible does not flatter human nature, neither does the true preacher attempt so base a work-but in plain and downrighthonesty of truth the witness is given, "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there isnone that does good, no, not one." When conscience is awakened and the man sees himself as the Revelation of God declareshim to be, he can hardly think that this can be the same self with which he was upon such excellent terms! If God blessesthe sight, he is led to abhor himself and to seek for cleansing and renewal! But if not, the man has at least seen himselfand has had the opportunity of knowing his true state.
The reflection of self in the Word is very like life. You have, perhaps, seen a dog so astonished at his image in the glassthat he has barked fiercely at himself. A parrot will mistake its reflection for a rival. Well may the creature wonder, sinceevery one of its movements is so accurately copied-it thinks itself to be mocked. Under a true preacher, men are often sothoroughly unearthed and laid bare that even the details of their lives are reported. Not only is the portrait drawn to thelife, but it is an actually living portrait which is given in the mirror of the Word. There is little need to point the fingerand say, "You are the man," for the hearer perceives on his own that he is spoken of. As the image in the
glass moves and alters its countenance, and changes its appearance, so does the Word of the Lord set forth man in his manyphases, moods and conditions.
The Scripture of Truth knows all about him and it tells him what it knows. Many a time the hearer has said, "Somebody hastold the preacher." Yes, somebody has told him-that which you do in your bedchamber the Lord has revealed unto His servant.The Holy Spirit "aides our hands wittingly," so that we lay them upon the right heads. I have sometimes said to you that peoplefrequently wish that the preacher knew their experience in order that he could preach to it. But it is not necessary to tellGod's sent servant anything about it, for he will speak to you with all the more power because he does not know! You may goin to hear the sermon-and be wearing a disguise-but even a blind Prophet will find you out and say, "Come in, you wife ofJeroboam, why do you feign yourself to be another woman? I have heavy tidings from the Lord for you." The Chaldean soothsayerssaid to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Tell your servants the dream and we will show the interpretation"-but Daniel knew the dreamand the interpretation, also, and that marked him out as being sent of God! When the preacher's description of the man's heartis true to life and yet no human mouth has whispered it into his ears, then the man cries, "This is the finger of God!" Agreat part of the self-evidencing power of the Gospel lies in the way in which it discovers to our minds that which, before,lay within our bosoms, hidden, even, from ourselves!
The glass of the Word is not like our ordinary looking glass, which merely shows us our external features, but, accordingto the Greek of our text, the man sees in it "the face of his birth," that is, the face of his nature. He that reads and hearsthe Word may see not only his actions, there, but his motives, his desires, his inward condition. As the butcher cuts downthe carcass and reveals all the innards, which never could have been seen but for his knife, so is the Word of God "quickand powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the jointsand marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." The secrets of the man are opened up to himselfand he is astonished to see his inward depravity, his carnal tendencies and his corrupt inclinations. As a man sees his outwardself in the looking glass, so may he see his inward self in the Word of God. But if this is all, to what purpose is it?
Secondly, many a hearer does see himself in the mirror of the Word. We are told so twice in the text-"He is like a man beholdinghis natural face in a glass, for he beholds himself." He really does see himself, for he cannot help doing so. He is not sucha careless hearer as to be utterly blind to the Revelation of God-he beholds-he beholds himself. He beholds the face of hisbirth. He is thoughtful during the discourse. He spies out the application of the Truth of God to himself and marks his ownspots and blemishes.
Oftentimes he sees himself so plainly that he grows astonished at what he sees. He cries, like the woman of Samaria- "Come,see a Man that told me all things that ever I did." Barbarous people, when they first of all see looking glasses, are quitetaken aback. "How can these things be?" is their first question. Now, have not you, dear Hearers, who are unconverted, beenoften staggered at the home-thrusts of the Word? You have seen yourselves so unmistakably that you have been unable to escapefrom the truth, but have been filled with wonder at it. But what is the use of this if it goes no farther?
Such observers have been known to praise the excellence of the mirror and speak well of its faithfulness. You may hear themsay, "The man is a true servant of God and preaches in all honesty and courage." So far so good. But, alas, there are manypreachers who will win no such praise! As I have seen glasses which have elongated my face or broadened it-so that it wasby no means my true image-so have I known ministers whose description of human nature is flattering and false. But after all,if the face is not to be washed, to what purpose is it that the mirror faithfully shows the smuts and stains which are uponit? O my Hearers, I desire to be always faithful to you, but how will my faithfulness benefit you if you are not faithfulto yourselves?! Why should I show you your blots if you do not seek the Lord Jesus to have them removed?
Many of our hearers go somewhat further, for they are driven to make solemn resolutions after looking at themselves. Yes,they will break off their sins by righteousness; they will repent; they will believe on the Lord Jesus-and yet their firmresolves are blown away like smoke and come to nothing! The sight of their natural face leads to a natural resolve but thestrength of nature suffices not to carry the resolution into practice. O Sirs, you must be born again! And, for lack of thatnew birth, your goodness is as a morning cloud and as the early dew! Both of these soon vanish and so do
your fine feelings and resolutions! What a multitude of dead resolutionss fall in this House of Prayer! The blossoms uponour fruit trees give great promise of a heavy crop of fruit, but, alas, the most of them do not knit, but drop from the treeand powder the ground as with snow! So the flowers of promise are upon our Hearers, but they come not to real soul-fruit.O Spirit of God, make it otherwise with my congregation! Save them from their own inconstancy! Let them not resolve and re-resolveand yet die in their sins!
But what follows? Observe, "He beholds himself, and goes his way." Many hearers go away from what they have seen in the Word.There are two, "ands," in the text, following quickly one after the other, but they have a force which I cannot very wellconvey to you. They show that the man looks at himself hurriedly and, as it were, in passing, and so goes his way, straightwayforgetting what manner of man he was, because his glance was hasty, casual and soon over. He heard the Word and that was theend of it-no echoes lingered in his soul. The sermon was over when it was over. Many a man, having seen himself in the glassof the Word, has no time for any further thought about himself. Tomorrow morning he will be over head and ears in business-theshutters will be down from his shop windows, but they will be put up to the windows of his soul. His office needs him and,therefore, his prayer closet cannot have him! His ledger falls like an avalanche over his Bible. The man has no time to seekthe true riches-passing trifles monopolize his mind! Sirs, you call earthly things, "business," but the salvation or the damnationof your souls is such a biding matter that any stray hour will suffice for it. Is it not so? Do you not propose to put offthe Lord till your last gasp? The Lord deliver you from this madness! Oh, that you would no more allow your earthly businessto crush your souls!
Others have no particular business to engross them, but, having seen themselves in the glass of the Word with some degreeof interest, they go their way to their amusements. Their principal difficulty is how to kill time and spin the weary hoursaway. What will become of some of you who are going down to Perdition with all your time to spare? You will not be able tosay that you went your way to your farm, or to your merchandise, for you have neither farm nor merchandise and do not knowwhat to do with your time. And yet, for all that, you cannot spare an hour to think upon your souls and upon your God. Oh,that it were not so! May infinite mercy make men wiser than to go their way while their souls are going down to Hell!
Alas, there are some who go their way to sin. It is not mere pleasure, or business, but it is an overt act of transgressionto which they go! It is an awful thing, to my mind, that men go from hearing the Word of God to speaking the word of the devil-theygo from God's House to the house of sin! They go straight away from the holy to the profane, from the pure to the foul. Theygo from the Mercy Seat to the seat of the scorner. I do not wonder that no good comes of such hearing as this! When a mansees his face in the glass and then goes his way to defile that face more and more, of what use is the glass to him? If youreturn to sin, to procrastinate, to live in willful neglect of God and eternity, you would derive no benefit from such hearing,though all the Apostles should, in turn, preach to you, or even their Master, Himself!
This going is always followed by forgetting all they have seen. This forgetfulness is, indeed, very mischievous. How differentis this from that word of David, "I will never forget Your precepts"! The wicked forget God, but the favored of the Lord "rememberHis commandments to do them." Forget the words of man, but be zealous to remember the Word of the Lord, for forgetfulnessleads to inaction. Those who forget, forget to do! They follow not the Lord's command in the Book of Numbers-"Remember todo all My commandments." In Purchas' Pilgrim, we read of certain Spaniards of the olden time who were often pinched with hungerand yet immense shoals of fish passed along their shores. They saw the fish, but were too idle to take them! Are there notmany Hearers of that kind? The Truth of God shines by them unappropriated, unused, unpracticed-and all because they take noearnest heed to make it their own by personal obedience to it. They say, "I go, Sir," but they forget to go. They see thepearl of great price, but forget to buy it. They are mere players with the Lord's message and never come to honest dealingwith it.
Forgetfulness of the Word leads to self-satisfaction. Looking in the glass, the man felt a little startled that he was suchan ugly fellow, but he went his way, mingled with the crowd and forgot what manner of man he was and, therefore, he felt quiteeasy again. The sweep thinks he is as clean as his neighbors, for he has forgotten the soot upon his face. By the force ofsheer ignorance a man can climb to a desperately false assurance of his own excellence. He can cry, "Peace, peace," when thereis no peace, till, at last, a blast of trumpets will not alarm him! What can be more fatal than this? One may as well notknow, as only learn and straightway forget!
This forgetfulness leads to a growing carelessness. A man who has once looked in the glass and afterwards has not washed,is very apt to go and look in the glass, again, and continue in his filthiness. He who thinks his conscience has cried, "wolf,"in mere sport, will think the same till he takes no heed when it cries in earnest. When men get to playing with the Word ofGod, they are near to destruction. Beware of hearing the Gospel as a pastime-it is the next stage to eternal ruin! When thatwhich God designs to be to our salvation becomes a pastime to us, then, in all likelihood, that it will save us is gone. Hewho sports with Heaven and Hell will soon lose all hope of the one-and be hurried down to the other.
Yes, but let me remark that this forgetfulness of the Word leads to increased sin, for we do not hear the Word of God withoutsome result coming of it. As I am responsible for preaching, so are you for hearing. O unconverted Hearers, you to whom theGospel has come as a revealer of yourselves, but not as a renewer of your hearts, you have grown harder in sin and you havesinned against more Light and against more knowledge-and thus your sin grows blacker!
Thus have I sketched the hearer of the Word who is not a doer of it. I do not wish, personally, to apply this to anyone here,but I beg that every person who does not know the Lord will make a personal application of it to his own conscience and Ipray God, the Holy Spirit, Himself, would now come and press these Truths upon each conscience. O, my dear Friends, will younot invite His sacred operations? You have seen your faces in the mirror of the Word-do you not desire to have them cleansedand beautified? You know your impurity-do you not wish to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus from all sin? Will you go yourways as if there were no Law to accuse you, no Gospel to invite you, no Christ to forgive you? Will you live and die as ifthere were no Heaven, no Hell, no eternity, no God? May the Lord deliver you from being triflers with the Word and forgettersof it, lest, at the end, your religion should turn out to be vain and you should find yourselves accursed by that which mighthave been a blessing to you!
II. May I have your further attention while I speak upon the true and blessed hearer? He does not look into the glass, buthe is represented as LOOKING INTO THE LAW-"Who looks into the perfect Law of liberty, and continues in it, he being not aforgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
The picture I have in my mind's eye at this moment is that of the cherubim upon the Mercy Seat-these are models for us. Theirstanding is upon the golden Mercy Seat and our standing is the Propitiation of our Lord-there is the resting place of ourfeet and, like the cherubs, we are joined there and, therefore, continue therein. They stand with their eyes looking downwardupon the Mercy Seat, as if they desired to look into the perfect Law of God which was treasured within the ark. Even so dowe look through the Atonement of our Lord Jesus, which is, to us, as pure gold like unto transparent glass, and we beholdthe Law, as a perfect Law of liberty, in the Person of our Mediator. Like the cherubim, we are in happy company and, likethey, we look towards each other by mutual love. Our common standing is the Atonement; our common study is the Law in thePerson of Christ and our common posture is that of angels with outstretched wings prepared to fly at the Master's bidding.Oh, that we might, in this sense, be as the cherubim and like they, abide in the secret place of the Most High, where thelight is the Light of God and the Glory is the Divine Presence! We are not to look casually at the Word as though it werea mere looking glass, but we are to gaze earnestly upon it as our law under the New Covenant. As the Apostles stooped downand looked into the sepulcher, so are we to search diligently into the blessed Law of the Lord and delight in it after theinner man.
Note well that the Law of God is worth looking into. I understand by the, "Law," here, not merely the Law of the Ten Commandments,but the Law as it is condensed, fulfilled and exhibited in Christ Jesus. The Gospel Law, the Law of the Spirit of life inChrist Jesus, that Gospel which we are called upon to obey, is worthy of deep meditation! I mean that holy Law which the Lordhas promised to put into our inward parts and write upon our hearts-the Law of faith and not of self-righteousness-even thecommand of Grace which bids us believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and obey His commands. A law is always worth considering,for we may break the law unwittingly, and involve ourselves in penalties which we might have avoided. An unknown law is apitfall into which a man may fall without knowing it. It is the duty of all loyal subjects to learn the law, that they mayobey it.
Better still, it is a perfect Law. All human laws are imperfect, but the Law of the Lord is perfect. The Law in the hand ofChrist is perfect in itself, having no excess and no deficiency. And it is a Law which makes those perfect who obey it. Itis a Law which is set forth in the Person of the perfect Christ and worked in us by the perfect Spirit. It is a Law
which touches our whole nature and works it unto perfect beauty. Who would not wish to look into a Law which, like its Author,is love and purity itself?
It is called the "perfect Law of liberty." Now, the Law under the Old Covenant genders to bondage, but the Law in the handof Christ is liberty. We never walk in liberty till we walk in the Lord's commands! He that wears the yoke of Christ is theLord's free man. Oh, Brothers and Sisters, I do trust our eyes will be turned to the "perfect Law of liberty," for freedomis a jewel and none have it but those who are conformed to the mind and will of our God!
The true hearer looks into this perfect Law of liberty with all his soul, heart and understanding till he knows it and feelsthe force of it in his own character. He is the prince of hearers, who delights to know what God's will is and finds his joyin acting out the same. He sees the Law in its height of purity, breadth of comprehensiveness and depth of spirituality. Andthe more he sees, the more he admires. He cannot have too much of it, but meditates on it both day and night and, therefore,he cries, "Oh, how I love Your Law! It is my meditation all the day." His most frequent prayer is that he may be conformedunto that perfect Law in all respects. And in proportion as his prayer is heard, he enters into perfect rest. I pause andask you whether you belong to the blessed company who look into the crystal glass of the Law. If you can answer that you aresuch, then please follow me for a minute or two.
As I stand here, I look into the mirror of the Word and see myself. But this is not enough for me-I will look till I see more.I continue looking into the mystic glass until, to my great surprise, I see another form appearing. Evidently some mysteriousPerson is reflected in this mirror. How beautiful and majestic is the Stranger's visage! I look till the image of my countenancemelts into the reflection of His countenance and He, alone, is seen. I only appear in Him. Is He not lovely? Indeed, He isthe Chief among ten thousand! Now I see the meaning of that word, "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the Gloryof the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the
"This is the thankful glass, That mends the looker's eyes; This is the well That washes what it shows."
Surely this is the mirror that Mercy, in "The Pilgrim's Progress," longed for! Does not Master Bunyan say of it, "Now theglass was one of a thousand. It would present a man one way, with his own features exactly, but turning it another way, itwould show one the very face and similitude of the Prince of Pilgrims, Himself. Yes, I have talked with them that can telland they have said that they have seen the very crown of thorns upon His head by looking in that glass. They have thereinalso seen the holes in His hands, in His feet and His side"?
A man looks into the Law of liberty and he sees all perfection in Christ-he looks and looks till, by a strange miracle ofGrace, his own image dissolves into the image of Jesus! Surely this is a thing worth looking into and infinitely superiorto any looking into a glass merely to see yourselves! We are compelled to say, "Come, see a Word which tells me all thingsthat I ever did: did not this come from God? "No, more! We said this at first, but now we see Jesus and we cry, "Come, seea Man that told me all things that I ever did: is not this the Christ?"
He that looks into the perfect Law of liberty will not only see Christ, but he will begin to see the Eternal Spirit of Godbearing witness with that Law of liberty and operating by that witness upon his own soul. "Oh," says he, "this is a blessedLaw, indeed, now, for I have it written upon the prepared tablets of my heart!" What a sight is that which lets us see theHoly Spirit working in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure-and making us conformable to the Law of His own declaring!
Yes, and he that looks into that perfect Law will, by-and-by, see God the Father-for the pure in heart shall see God. Thosewho love and live the Law of God become like unto God-they are "imitators of God as dear children." They that are familiarwith God's will, love it and study it, gradually receive the likeness of God their Father till they are called the childrenof God! Thus the sacred Trinity are seen and known by those who do the will of the Father in Heaven. Is not this a joy, tohave our fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ? Oh, to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfectwill of God!
Dear Friends, I cannot speak to you as I should like to this morning-my theme masters me. I cannot make you see all that Isee, myself, but you must look into it for yourselves in the Light of God. Look, and look again, till what you see
in the Word is also to be seen in yourself. Transformation of character will follow upon meditation upon the Truth of God,by the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
Note carefully that our text says, "He continues"-"who looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues." Our translatorsinsert the word, "therein," but it is not in the Greek text. "And continues"-that is, he continues to meditate in the Lawand he continues to own his allegiance to it. The Law of the Lord is always Law to him. He also continues to practice it-hedoes not begin and then turn aside, but he continues to make advances in holy living and gracious conformity to the Lord'sstatutes-and he continues by a final perseverance to follow on. This is the hearer that shall win the blessing-not you whomake a profession one day and then disgrace it the next! Not you who are all hot for Christ today and lukewarm tomorrow. Theman who obtains the blessing of the Lord is, by God's Grace, made to continue in it! I have heard of a famous King of Polandwho did brave deeds in his day and confessed that he owed his excellent character to a secret habit which he had formed. Hewas the son of a noble father and he carried with him a miniature portrait of his father and often looked upon it. Wheneverhe went to battle, he would look upon the picture of his father and nerve himself to valor, When he sat in the council chamber,he would secretly look upon the image of his father and behave himself right royally, for, he said, "I will do nothing thatcan dishonor my father's name."
Now, this is the grand thing for a Christian to do, to carry with him the will of God in his heart, and then in every actionto consult that will. We ought to ask-What shall I do, as a child of God? What course shall I follow as a man of God, boughtwith the precious blood of Jesus Christ? It is thought, by some, that you cannot always continue in the will of God-they dreamthat you are to hear a sermon and then be very pious-or go to a Prayer Meeting and then be very devout. But they think thatthis piety and devotion cannot remain with us all day. Brothers and Sisters, we must continue in the Law of the Lord or wehave no true religion! Living godliness is for the shop, for the kitchen, for the parlor and for the street-it is a continuousstruggle for holiness. Looking at the perfect will of God is for every day and all day! We are to believe for holiness; lookingto the Lord to become like the Lord. I would gladly have my Savior's image painted on my eyeballs so that I could not seeexcept I saw everything through Him! It is well to have Christ's portrait hung up in every chamber of your soul-I do not sayof your house-that might lead to idolatry, but in every chamber of your mind and heart!
I once saw a room so covered with mirrors, that when I looked, I saw myself some 15 times, certainly, to my taste, 14 timestoo often. But oh, I would have my whole being to be such, that whenever Jesus comes into it, He may see Himself everywhere-above,below, to the right, to the left and on all sides! Oh, to have Him shining even into the innermost closet of our nature soas to have no dark part! Oh, to become new editions of the life of Christ! We would not only look into the mirror, but wewould be our mirrors reflecting the beauties of the holy Lord Jesus! But remember, this must not be occasional, but continual,for the true heart continues looking into the perfect Law of liberty.
To conclude-you notice how it says, "this man shall be blessed in his deed." Mark-"this man," "this man." These demonstrativepronouns act like fingers. A man has gone up to the Temple to pray. What a fine gentleman he is! He wears a striking phylacterybetween his eyes and he boasts a broad blue hem on his garment. He is a very superior person! You can see that at a glance.He stands in a prominent place in the Temple and he most pompously cries, "God, I thank You that I am not as other men are."Curious that the Bible does not make much account of him. But yonder is a poor weeping creature who does not dare to comeinto a prominent position, nor even to lift up his eyes towards Heaven. Every now and then he beats upon his breast as ifvery much depressed. At last he cries, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"
Look! The Savior points out the publican and says, "this man-this man went down to his house justified rather than the other."He lays His hand on him as one near to Him and says, "this man." In my text there is a person who has seen himself in theglass and he has gone his way, but we need not mind about him-he is of no account. But here is a man who has been lookinginto the Law and has continued to look into it-and the Holy Spirit has selected him from all others and marked him as, "thisman." This man is blessed! Perhaps he does not wear the best broadcloth. Perhaps he is arrayed in a fustian jacket, but heis selected and distinguished as, "this man!" Perhaps he has received no elaborate edu-cation-you will not see him at theAthenaeum, or hear him discussing Evolution with the learned, yet he is "this man." "This man," says the text, "is blessed."Where is this man? Where is this woman? Judge whether you are the persons thus called and chosen-whether you are abiding inlove to that Law which has won your heart.
"This man shall be blessed in his deed." "Oh," says one, "I do not see the blessedness of true religion!" No, my Friend, youare not likely to see it, because you do not do it. This man is blessed "in his deed." "In keeping His commandments thereis great reward." Much of the blessedness of godliness lies in the practice of godliness. Not in consideration of doctrine,but the blessing lies in obedience to precept. "This man shall be blessed in his deed." In the very act of serving his Lordand Master, he shall be blessed-not for it but in it. The doing of the obedient deed is the evidence that God has blessedthe doer from before the foundation of the world! His practical godliness is the evidence of his election; his actual holinessis the evidence of his redemption; his keeping close to the will of God is the evidence of his adoption. Holiness is the witnessthat its possessor shall be blessed in the day when Christ shall glorify His people!
You who do not get a blessing by hearing the Gospel may now see why it is so. You glance into a looking glass and that isall. Much good may it do you! After having seen your pretty selves, you go your ways into the world to live as you lived beforeand, therefore, you get no blessing. If you had gone to the Divine Law, that heavenly mirror of the will and mind of the MostHigh, it had been better for you. If, instead of making the Word a mirror to look at, you had made it a window to look through-andyou had seen God in Christ and perfect holiness in Him-and had put your trust in Jesus, He would have given you a higher andbetter life, so that you would have become like Jesus! Then you would have been blessed in your deed!
Behold I set before you, this morning, as they did of old upon Ebal and Gerizim, blessing and curse-the curse for those whopeek into the looking glass, but do no more-the blessing for those who attentively look into the perfect Law of liberty andcontinue to do so until they are transformed into the image of the Lord! Which shall it be? May God the Eternal Spirit decidethat question by leading you, now, solemnly, seriously, earnestly, to close in with Christ and His perfect Law of liberty.And to Him be glory forever and ever! Amen and amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Matthew 7:13-29.