Sermon 1962. The Friend of God
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MAY 8, 1887,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"You, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend." Isaiah 41:8.
"And he was called the Friend of God." James 2:23.
ABRAHAM was called the Friend of God because he was so. The title only declares a fact. The Father of the faithful was, beyondall men, "the Friend of God," and the head of that chosen race of Believers whom Jesus calls His friends. The name is rightlygiven. We read that "whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And we may be much more sure thatwhatever name the Spirit of God has given to any man, that is his proper and right name.
James says not only that this was Abraham's name, but that he was called by it. The name does not occur in his life as givenin the Book of Genesis and it has been questioned whether it occurs anywhere else in Holy Scripture, for many have preferredto translate the word in Isaiah and in 2 Chronicles 20:7, as, "lover," or, "beloved," rather than, "friend." However this may be, it is quite certain that among the Jewish people,Abraham was frequently spoken of as, "the Friend of God." At this present moment, among the Arabs and other Muslims, the nameof Abraham is not often mentioned, but they speak of him as Khalil Allah, or, the "Friend of God," or more briefly as El Khalil,"the Friend." Those tribes which boast of their descent from him through Ishmael, or through the sons of Keturah, greatlyreverence the Patriarch and are known to speak of him under the name which the Holy Spirit here ascribes to him. It is a nobletitle, not to be equaled by all the names of greatness which have been bestowed by princes, even if they should all meet inone. Patents of nobility are mere vanity when laid side by side with this transcendent honor.
I think I hear you say, "Yes, it was indeed a high degree to which Abraham reached-so high that we cannot attain unto it.It would be idle for us to dream of being accounted friends of God." My Brothers and Sisters, I entreat you, think not so!We, also, may be called friends of God-and the object of this morning's discourse will be to excite in you the desire to knowthis matchless friendship! Let me read to you the words of our blessed Lord in the 15th chapter of John- "You are My friendsif you do whatever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows not what his lord does, but Ihave called you friends, for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you." It is, then, within reach!Jesus, Himself, invites us to live and act and be His friends!
Surely, none of us will neglect any gracious attainment which lies within the region of the possible. None of us will be contentwith a scanty measure of Grace when we may have life more abundantly. I trust you are not so foolish as to say, "If I maybut get to Heaven by the skin of my teeth, I shall not care about what I am on the road." This would be wicked talk and, ifyou speak thus, I am afraid you will never get to Heaven at all! He that is being prepared for Glory is always hungry afterthe largest measure of Grace. He who is born of God desires his Father's love while he is yet a child and has no idea of waitingfor it till he comes of age and enters upon his estate. Let me have as much of Heaven, even now, as I can have! Yes, let menow be the friend of God!
The other day there landed on the shores of France a boat full of people soaked with rain and saltwater. They had lost alltheir luggage and had nothing but what they stood upright in, but they were glad, indeed, to have been saved from a wreck.It was well that they landed at all! And when it is again my lot to cross to France, I trust I shall put my foot on shorein a better plight than that! I would prefer to cross the Channel in comfort and land with pleasure. There is
all this difference between being "saved so as by fire" and having "an abundant entrance ministered unto us" into the Kingdomof God. Let us enjoy Heaven on the road to Heaven!
Why not? Instead of being fished up as castaways, stranded upon the shores of mercy, let us take our passage on board thewell-appointed Liner of Free Grace! Let us, if possible, go in the first cabin, enjoying all the comforts of the way and havingfellowship with the great Captain of our Salvation. Why should we think it enough to be a mere stowaway? I would stir youup at this time, dear Friends, to aspire after the best gifts! Grow in Grace! Increase in love to God and in nearness of accessto Him, that the Lord may at this good hour stoop down to us as our great Friend and then lift us up to be known as His friends!
I have many things to say to you this morning and, therefore, I must speak upon each one with great brevity. I am half afraidthat I may be driven to a brevity which will render me a little obscure. I ask you, first, to notice the title to be wonderedat-"Friend of God." When we have meditated and marveled, I shall then speak to you under a second head- the title vindicated-itwas a fit and proper title for Abraham and we can see it to be so. Thirdly, I shall speak of the title sought after. May weall win it and wear it! After all this, I shall conclude with a few words upon the title used for practical purposes. Maythe Holy Spirit help me graciously at this hour!
I. First, may we be Divinely instructed while we look at the name, "Friend of God," and regard it as A TITLE TO BE WONDEREDAT.
Admire and adore the condescending God who thus speaks of a man like ourselves and calls him His friend! The heavens are notpure in His heart and He charged His angels with folly-and yet He takes a man and sets him apart to be His friend! What isman, O Lord, that You are mindful of him? Or the Son of Man, that You visit him? Who among our sinful race can be worthy ofthe friendship of Jehovah? Only His Grace can make it possible for any man to walk with God in high companionship.
In this case the august Friend displays His pure love, since He has nothing to gain. Surely God does not need friends. Youand I need friendship. We cannot always lead a self-contained and solitary life-we are refreshed by the companionship, sympathyand advice of a like-minded comrade. We are very foolish if we commit ourselves to a host of acquaintances, but we are wiseif we have found a faithful friend and know how to make use of him. Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life! Many spiritsmight have failed beneath the bitterness of trial if they had not found a friend. No such necessity can be supposed of theall-sufficient God.
We know how sweet it is to mingle the current of our life with that of some choice bosom friend. Can God have a friend? CanHe also find it in His heart to unbosom Himself to another? Can the secret of Jehovah be with a frail creature? Does the HolyOne desire to commune outside of Himself? It cannot be that He is solitary. He is, within Himself, a whole, not only of unity,but of tri-personality-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-and herein is fellowship enough! Yet, behold, in infinite condescension-theLord deigns to seek the acquaintance of His own creature, the love of a man, the friendship of Abraham! I dare not go so farin speech as my thoughts would lead me-it is certainly a great marvel that the Creator of the heavens and the earth shouldlook to Ur of the Chaldees for a man and should separate him to Himself, to tutor and train him till He made him His friend-anhonor which even the cherubim and seraphim have never reached!
Friendship cannot be all on one side. In this particular instance, it is intended that we should know that while God was Abraham'sfriend, this was not all, but Abraham was God's friend. He received and returned the friendship of God! From one point ofview, Abraham was always the object of God's pity and mercy, but, by His Grace, the Lord also lifted him into another conditionin which he became the object of the Lord's complacency and delight. God gave Abraham His heart and Abraham gave God his heart.They were knit together in love. To use expressive Scriptural words, the soul of Abraham was bound up in the bundle of lifewith the Lord, his God. Not only did the Lord speak to Abraham as He did to Moses, "face to face, as a man speaks unto hisfriend," but He continually treated Abraham as His friend and communed with him as such-
"Stupendous Grace of the Most High! What has the Lord on worms bestowed, Called to the council of the sky And numbered withthe friends of God!"
Friendship creates a measure of equality between the persons concerned. I say not that absolute equality is at all necessaryto friendship, for a great king may have a firm friend in one of the least of his subjects. But the tendency is towards anequalizing of the two friends-the one comes down gladly and the other rises up in sympathy. Friendship begets fellowship andthis bridges over the dividing gulf. There can be no idea of equality between God, the Lord, and man the servant. Indeed,it is only as we see our true relation as servants that we can be friends. Did not Jesus say, "You are My friends if you dowhatever I command you"? We must keep our place, or we shall not be friends. Yet see how the Lord comes down to Abraham andcommunes with him at his table while He lifts up Abraham to His own state, so that he sees the things of God, yes, even seeswith gladness, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ! When we say of two men that they are friends, we put them down in the samelist, but what condescension on the Lord's part to be on terms of friendship with a man!
Again I say, no nobility is comparable to this. Parmenio was a great general, but all his fame in that direction is forgottenin the fact that he was known as the friend of Alexander. He had a great love for Alexander as a man, whereas others onlycared for him as a conqueror and a monarch. And Alexander, perceiving this, placed great reliance upon Par-menio. Abrahamloved God for God's sake and followed Him fully-and so the Lord made him His confidant and found pleasure in manifesting Himselfto Abraham and in trusting to him His sacred Oracles. O Lord, how excellent is Your lovingkindness, that You should make aman Your friend!
I also want you to note the singular excellence of Abraham. How could he have been God's friend had not Grace worked wonderfullyin him? A man is known through his friends-you cannot help judging a person by his companions. Was it not a great venturefor God to call any man His friend? We are led to judge the character of God by the character of the man whom He selects tobe His friend. Yes, and though a man with like passions with us, and subject to weaknesses which the Holy Spirit has not hesitatedto record, yet Abraham was a singularly admirable character! The Spirit of God produced in him a deep sincerity, a firm principleand a noble bearing. Although a plain man, dwelling in tents, the Father of the Faithful is always a right royal personage.A calm dignity surrounds him and the sons of Heth and the kings of Egypt feel its power.
His character is well balanced. He is what is commonly called an all-around man. He walks before God and is perfect in hisgeneration, so that God is not ashamed to be called his God. I might almost say of Abraham's general life that, like the Lord,he was light and in him was no darkness at all. Of course I only use the expression in the sense intended by our Savior, whenHe spoke of the whole body being full of light, "having no part dark" (Luke 11:36). Father Abraham is a man fit to be the head of the believing family! His quiet son, Isaac, is like a valley, above whichhis father rises like an Alp in the greater strength of his character. He is equally superior to his notable grandson, Jacob,great personality as Jacob is. There is a fuss, worry and worldly craft about Jacob which somewhat beclouds his undoubtedlygreat faith, but you do not see this in Abraham-he moves majestically along his course-shining like the sun in mid-Heaven,before whom even clouds are made into chariots of glory!
I say not that Abraham was worthy to be called the Friend of God in the sense of merit, but I do say that the Grace of Godhad made him meet to be a partaker of fellowship with the God of Light. While he was justified by his faith, the Lord's callinghim just was also justified by his works. James asks, "Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works when he had offeredIsaac, his son, upon the altar?" Indeed he was-by this great deed of obedience, Abraham proved to be in a right state beforeGod! His justification was justified. God was just, even in a legal sense, in declaring such a man to be righteous, for righteoushe evidently was. Oh that the sanctifying Spirit may prove in us the truth of our faith by the holiness of our works!
Follow me while I note some of the points in which this Divine friendship showed itself. The Lord often visited Abraham. Friendsare sure to visit one another. We read, "The Word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision." "The Lord appeared unto Abram."And again, "The Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and He sat in the tent door, in the heat of the day." Threemysterious persons came to Abraham and he entertained them in his tent under the tree and provided a banquet for them. AndAbraham waited at the table. Was he not honored above all men to entertain God, Himself? The Lord sojourned with the Patriarchas in a strange land and heard the prayers and praises of His servant day by day. On the other hand, Abraham was prompt tobuild an altar unto the Lord and, besides this, he had his chosen spot
for private communion with God, for we read, "Abraham get up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord."Often did the great Lord and His trustful servant draw near unto each other.
In consequence of these visits of friendship paid to Abraham, secrets were disclosed. The Lord informed Abraham as to Hisdesign concerning the Canaanites who were ultimately to be destroyed, but their iniquity was not yet full. He revealed tohim the birth of Isaac and His intent that the Covenant blessing should run in the line of the child born according to promise.And when He had determined to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord said to Himself, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thingwhich I do?" I suppose it is but a gloss, but Philo quotes this text as from the Septuagint and puts it thus-"Shall I hidethis thing from Abraham, My Friend?" The present copies of the Septuagint say, "Abraham, My servant," but the other readingis a very natural one. It was a special proof of Divine friendship that the Lord would not execute judgment till He had heardwhat the Patriarch might say upon it. Abraham, on his part, had no secrets, but laid bare his heart to the inspection of hisDivine Friend. Visits were received, secrets were made known and thus friendship grew.
More than that, compacts were entered into. On certain grand occasions we read, "The Lord made a Covenant with Abram." Once,with solemn sacrifice, a light passed between the divided portions of the victims. At another time it is written that Godswore by Himself, saying, "Surely, blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." The two friends graspedhands and pledged their good faith. Here was a faithful God and faithful Abraham bound in an immovable Covenant! God trustedAbraham, for He said, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep theway of the Lord." And Abraham knew his God and trusted Him without suspi-cion-and thus there was firm friendship between them.
This friendship resulted in the bestowal of innumerable benefits. The life of Abraham was rich with mercies. We read, "AndAbraham was old and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things." Friends bless their friends, orat least wish they could do so. Abraham's Almighty Friend denied him no good thing. Abraham was rich, but his riches wereblessed. We may say of him, "The gold of that land was good." He was singularly favored in all things to which he set hishands. Jacob, comparing himself with his grandfather, said, "Few and evil are the days of your servant." And his life wascertainly acted out upon a far lower level than that of the first of the three great fathers of the chosen seed. The Lordis a Friend who can never know a limit in blessing His friends! Having loved His own, He loves them to the end. To Abraham,through the Grace of his Divine Friend, difficulties were blessings, trials were blessings and the sharpest test of all wasthe most ennobling blessing!
Since Abraham was God's friend, God accepted his pleas and was moved by his influence. Friends always have an ear for friends.When Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom, the Lord patiently listened to his renewed pleading. How instructive is that storyof the Patriarch's pleading for Sodom! How humbly he speaks!-"I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, even I that ambut dust and ashes." Yet how boldly he pleads! He ventures to say, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" The strainof his pleading is worthy of special note. It was not an intercession for Sodom so much as an expostulation with God-friendwith Friend. If we were pleading for London, we would naturally appeal to God's mercy, but Abraham takes the bolder courseof pleading Divine Justice. In fact, his plea is not only for Sodom, but for God, Himself-"That be far from You to do afterthis manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from You."As much as if he were more earnest to prevent the name of God from being dishonored by what might look like an injustice,than he was, even, for the saving of the guilty people!
This was a bold stroke. He pleaded rather as a friend of God than as a friend of Sodom-and the Lord recognized to the fullestthe force of his friendly appeal! Lot was rescued and Zoar was spared in answer to that prayer; just as Ishmael had been endowedwith earthly blessings in response to the pleading, "O that Ishmael might live before You!" And just as the household of Abimelechhad been healed in answer to Abraham's supplication.
There was also between these friends a mutual love and delight. Abraham rejoiced in Jehovah! He was his shield and his exceedinglygreat reward. And the Lord, Himself, delighted to commune with Abraham. The serenity of the Patriarch's life was caused byhis constant joy in God. I cannot now enter into this choice subject for lack of time.
Observe, however, that this friendship was maintained with great constancy. The Lord never forsook Abraham. Even when thePatriarch erred, the Lord remembered and rescued him. He did not cast him off in old age. Until he was laid in the Cave ofMachpelah, God was his God. Yes, and He is his God at this day, for did He not proclaim Himself to Moses as
the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob? Abraham lives and God is still his God! Constancy is also seen on the human sideof this renowned friendship-Abraham did not turn aside to worship any false God, neither did the Lord turn away from the manof His choice.
More than that, the Lord kept His friendship to Abraham by favoring his posterity. That is what our first text tells us. TheLord styled Israel, even rebellious Israel, "The seed of Abraham, My friend." You know how David sought out the seed of Jonathanand did them good for Jonathan's sake. Even so does the Lord love Believers who are the seed of believing Abraham-and He stillseeks out the children of Abraham, His friend, to do them good. In the latter days He shall save the literal Israel-the naturalbranches of the olive which, for a while, have been broken off, shall be grafted in again. God has not forgotten His friendshipto their father, Abraham, and, therefore, He will return in love to Abraham's seed and again be their God.
Thus I have glanced at sufficient facts to cause this title of, "The Friend of God," to be wondered at. You have all admiredthe friendship of Damon and Pythias. Behold here a greater marvel! The friendship of the Lord God with Abra-ham-a friendshipin which Abraham gave more than his own life in proof of his fidelity-and the Great God still surpassed Him in faithfulness!
II. And now let us notice THE TITLE VINDICATED. Abraham was the Friend of God in a truthful sense. There was great proprietyand fullness of meaning in the name as applied to him.
First, Abraham's trust in God was implicit. To show what I mean, I will bring before you the Patriarch, Job. Now Job was agrand Believer-under some aspects he has "attained to the first three"-but Job had a controversy with God and found it hardto think that the Lord dealt justly with him. He was able, despite all questions, to say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trustin Him," but he was much tossed about and tumbled up and down in his soul-and those three friends of his suggested no endof doubts. Their philosophy worried him and Job was not so fully established in the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty as he mighthave been. Abraham had no such controversy-"he staggered not." David, too, was sometimes plagued with unbelief, so that healmost came to infidel conclusions. He was perplexed to know how it was that the wicked prospered while he, himself, was chastenedevery morning. He descended into the mists of the valley, but Abraham habitually walked the hilltops. Bathing his foreheadin the sunlight of Jehovah's love, Abraham dwelt beyond all questions and mistrusts. O happy man, to know no skepticism butheroically to believe!
There is a blessed ignorance which my soul covets. To know is not always gain. Fool that I am, I have too often eaten thefruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I wish that I could forget all that has ever been told me which suggestsa doubt of my great Lord and His faithful Word. I will forget, if I can, all the thoughts of man, for they are vain-I am determinedto know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Abraham possessed that higher knowledge which treads unbeliefbeneath its feet as unworthy even to be argued down! He was a perfect child towards God and, therefore, a complete man. Unlessyou are converted and become as little children, you shall in no way enter into friendship with God, for this is God's chiefrequirement in His friends-that they shall entertain no doubts of Him, but un-questioningly believe Him. Abraham "staggerednot at the promise through unbelief," for he knew that what the Lord had promised He was also able to perform.
Next, there was joined to this implicit trust a practical confidence as to the accomplishment of everything that God had promised.He went childless for many a day and the temptation came to him and, for a moment prevailed with him, that he must use humanmeans to effect the Divine promise. But even then he did not doubt that the promise world be effected. His great mistake plainlyshowed that he believed the promise would be fulfilled-the fault lay in his interference with the Divine method of fulfillment!When he was commanded to slay his son, he never doubted that God would keep His promise-he reckoned that God was able to raiseup Isaac from the dead, from which he also received him in a figure. Faith is to credit contradictions and to believe impossibilitieswhen Jehovah's Word is to the front. If you and I can do this, then we can enter into friendship with God, but in no otherway, for distrust is the death of friendship! If the Lord brings a man near to Himself, it is absolutely necessary that, atthe very least, there should be perfect confidence on the man's part. "He that comes to God must believe that He is and thatHe is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." If you think God can lie, you cannot be His friend-you are dividingyour interest from the Lord's interest and committing a breach of friendship when you distrust. Between man and man, confidencemay be unduly placed, but to-
wards God, you may carry it to the utmost and know no hesitancy. Believe without limit and then shall you enjoy fellowshipwith the Lord!
Next to this, Abraham's obedience God was unquestioning. Whatever God bade him do, he did it promptly and thoroughly. Whenthe Lord said to him, "Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land thatI will show you," he went forth, not knowing where he went. And when the Lord bade him go to the unknown mountain and offerup his son for a burnt-offering, he rose early in the morning and through three days of sore travail he journeyed to the placewhere his faith must be tested. When both moral and parental instincts might have held him back, he went onward, feeling thatit was not his to question when once the command was clear. Jehovah's will to him was law. Not everyone has yet learned thatit is God who is the Author of all law and that it is His will which makes a certain course to be right-and the contrary ofit to be wrong. He was God's servant and yet His friend and, therefore, he obeyed as seeing Him that is invisible and trustingHim whom he could not understand.
Abraham's desire for God's glory was uppermost at all times. He did not what others would have done, because he feared theLord. I think that Abraham comes out grandly when he had pursued the kings who had plundered the cities of the plain. He overcamethem and recovered all their spoils. When Melchizedek met him as the priest of the Most High God, Abraham at once gave himtithes of all. But when the king of Sodom proposed that Abraham should keep all salvage that he had taken and only restoreto him the persons who had been captured, it was grand of Abraham not to touch a particle of the prey, but to say, "I willnot take from a thread even to a shoe lace. I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abramrich." He did not want that a petty prince, or, indeed, anybody, should boast of enriching Abraham! He trusted solely in hisGod and though he had a perfect right to have taken the spoils of war which were his by capture, yet he would not touch themlest the name of his God should be in the least dishonored.
Abraham's communion with God was constant. O happy man, that dwelt on high while men were groveling at his feet! What blisshe knew in those morning communings with God! What peace he felt all day long in the tent and in the plain, since he walkedbefore the Lord and was perfect towards Him! Whether with the Bedouin or with his own servants, you see the man of God ratherthan the sheik-and the friend of God rather than the prince. Oh, that you and I may be cleansed to such a pure, holy and noblelife that we, too, may be rightly called the friends of God!
III. Thirdly, dear Friends, you will have patience with me while I stir you up to regard this name as THE TITLE TO BE SOUGHTAFTER. Oh, that we may get to ourselves this good degree, this diploma, as, "Friend of God!"
Do you wish to be a friend of God? Well, then, first you must be fully reconciled to Him. Of course you cannot remain Hisenemy and be His friend-that is clear enough. If you are pardoned through the sacrifice of Jesus. If you are justified byHis righteousness. If you are regenerated by His Spirit, you are no longer God's enemy, but that will not entitle you to becalled the Friend of God. It will entitle you to call God your Friend and your Helper, but you must go further than that,if you would be His friend. Love must be created in your heart! Gratitude must beget attachment and attachment must causedelight! You must rejoice in the Lord and maintain close communion with Him.
To be friends, we must exercise a mutual choice-the God who has chosen you must be chosen by you. Most deliberately, heartily,resolutely and undividedly you must choose God to be your God and your Friend. Beloved, there can be no friendship betweenyou and God without your own full consent, nor without your ardent desire. What do you say to this? If sin is pardoned, allground of enmity is gone-but now Grace must come in to reign through righteousness unto eternal life-and bring you into acondition of tender love and fervent desire towards the Lord our God.
But even then you have not gone far enough. If we are to be the friends of God, there must be a conformity of heart, will,design and character to God. Can two walk together except they are agreed? Will God accept as His friend one who despisesholiness, who is careless in obedience, who has no interest in the purposes of Divine Love, no delight in the Gospel of Christ?Beloved, the Holy Spirit must make us like God or else we cannot be friends of God! We must love Jesus the Son, or we cannotlove the Father! We cannot rise to the standard of friends of God if self is our ruling force. God is not selfish and He isnot the friend of the selfish. Unless we love what God loves and hate what God hates, we cannot be His friends. Our livesmust, in the main, run in parallel lines with the life of the gracious, holy and loving God, or else we shall be walking contraryto Him and He will walk contrary to us.
If we have got as far as that, then the next thing will surely follow-there must be a continual communion. The friend of Godmust not spend a day without God and he must undertake no work apart from his God. Oh, to live with
God and in God and for God and like God! You cannot be a friend of God if your communion with Him is occasional, fitful, distant,broken. If you only think of Him on Sundays or at sacraments, you cannot be His friend! Friends love each other's society-thefriend of God must abide in God, walk with God-and then he shall dwell at ease. What do you say to this? Has the Grace ofGod made your feet like hinds' feet to stand on such high places? He can do it. Let us seek after the blessing.
Brothers and Sisters, if we are to be the friends of God, we must be copartners with Him. He gives over to us all that Hehas-and friendship with God will necessitate that we give to Him all that we have. It has been well said that if God is ours,we cannot be poor because God has all and we have all in having God. On the other hand, the cause of God should not be poorif we can make it rich-and His work should never be in straits if we can find supplies. If we are, indeed, the Lord's friends,we count His cause our cause, His work our work-and we throw all that we have into a Joint Stock Bank with the Great All-in-All.
Friendship, if it exists, will breed mutual delight. I cannot explain to you the joy that God has in His people-we shall knowthat, by-and-by, but He calls His Church His Hephzibah and He says, "My delight is in her." I believe our Lord takes infinitedelight in a soul which He has new-created and which He has fashioned after His own likeness. He was glad to see man at thefirst and yet, afterwards, it saddened Him that He had made man. But the Lord is always glad to see the new-created man andHe never repents that He has made him upon the face of the earth. The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear Him. I am sureif we are God's friends, our greatest joy is to draw near to God, even to God our exceeding joy. I have sometimes wished thatI had nothing else to do but to dwell with God in prayer, praise and preaching. If it were not for the thousand worries andcares which come to me in connection with the lesser matters which arise out of the weaknesses of His Church and people, whata happy life mine would be! Indeed, I do not complain, but I only mean that holy service in constant fellowship with God isHeaven below.
Alas, one has to come down from the Mount of the Transfiguration and meet the lunatic child and the quarrelsome scribes atthe bottom of the hill! Our delight is in God. "Yes, my own God is He." He is my All-in-All. Whatever comes from Him is perfumedwith myrrh and aloes and cassia. Even His very threats ring like music in the ears of them that love Him! There is nothingthat He does but we will take delight in it. We come, at length, to love even the rod which He yields-the blows of such afaithful Friend are infinitely better than the kisses of our deceitful enemy. The cross which Jesus lays upon us is a lightburden because we delight in Him. The God of Love has our love and He has become the light of our delight. He rejoices overus with singing and we rejoice before Him with the voice of melody.
But, Brothers and Sisters, I do not mean to go any further, for we must not tell the secrets of love in the open streets.I see a curtain-a veil shrouding the Holy of Holiest-I dare not lift that veil. Into the Most Holy Place, ordinary worshipperscannot come. Neither can they look therein till the Lord anoints their eyes and purges their spirits. O Lord, reveal Yourselfto the half-opened eyes of Your people! Within that curtain there are choice manifestations, secret witnesses and ravishmentsof supreme delight of which I must not speak because I feel towards these things as Paul felt concerning that which he sawand heard in Paradise! He said it would be unlawful for a man to utter them! Beloved, may you know these special joys by personalexperience, even as he did who is called, "Friend of God!"
IV. I have done when I have said a word or two upon the last point which is THE TITLE TO BE UTILIZED for practical purposes.The practical purposes are just these.
First, here is a great encouragement to the people of God. See what possibilities lie before you. The other Sabbath morningI tried to say something about the future possibilities of saints, since he that was faithful with his pound was made a rulerover ten cities It does not yet appear what we shall be-we have not even the beginning of an idea of what we shall be in thenext world if we are found faithful to our Master here, nor what the Glory will be that shall transfigure us in the day ofthe coming of Christ-and during the thousand years of His glorious reign on the earth.
But I want you now to notice the prize of your high calling in this life. You may become the friends of God and may be somanifestly in league with Him that men may call you the friends of God. How few attain to this! Do you know one such person?Let your eyes travel over all the Christian people you know and tell me how many might be called the friends of God. I knowone such man. I will not mention his name. I fear he may not be long on earth, for he is well
stricken in age. He is a man who has trusted God, walked with God and been faithful to God and has, in consequence, been greatlyhonored of God to carry on a vast work of usefulness.
I wish I might grow to be like he, but I feel a mere babe in his presence! He is a rare man. Why are there not more such?Because God's arm is shortened? No, but because our iniquities hide Him from us. We might be and we ought to be such men andwomen that those who know us at home and in business would discover us to be the friends of Jesus. I would like, as a preacher,to have it said of me that I maintained the Glory of my Lord and defended the doctrines of His Cross-and was the friend ofthe old Gospel while others were gadding after novelties. In some form or other we should aspire after this heavenly friendship.See the possibility that lies within your reach-and make it a reality at once!
Next, here is solemn thought for those who would be friends of God. A man's friend must show himself friendly and behave withtender care for his friend. A little word from a friend will pain you much more than a fierce slander from an enemy. Rememberhow the Savior said, "It was not an enemy; then I could have borne it: but it was you, a man My equal, My acquaintance." "TheLord your God is a jealous God" and if He brings any of us so near to Him as to be His friends, then His jealousy burns likecoals of juniper that have a most vehement flame! He will save you, Brothers and Sisters, despite a thousand imperfections,but He will not call you His friend unless you are exceedingly careful to please Him in all things.
Shall we draw back from the honor because of the responsibility? No, we delight in the responsibility! We thirst to be well-pleasingto God. Though our God is a consuming fire, we aspire to dwell in Him! To our new nature this fire is its element! Even nowwe pray that it may refine us and consume all our dross and tin. We would gladly be baptized with the fire baptism. We wishnothing to be spared which ought to be consumed, or which can be consumed. We accept friendship with God on His own terms.I tremble while I speak. We are willing to bear anything which will make us one with God!
The Spirit of God is the Spirit of judgment and the Spirit of burning-do you know what you ask when you pray to be filledwith Him? I trust you will reply, "Be it what it may, I desire to feel that heavenly influence which can make me, forever,the friend of God."