Sermon 1992. Song for the Free-Hope for the Bound
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1887,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces. Oh that men would praise the Lordfor His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of brass and cut the barsof iron in two." Psalm 107:14-16.
MY anxious, prayerful desire this morning is that some who have been in the condition described in the text may come out ofit into full redemption. They have been too long in prison and now the silver trumpet sounds-liberty to the captives! Jesushas come into the world to break the gate of brass and to cut the bars of iron in two. Oh, that my prayer might be heard forthose who are in bondage! I trust that some of those who are now immured in the dungeon of despondency will say, "Amen," tomy prayer and, if they are praying inside and we are praying outside-and the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, comes to open theprison doors, then there will be a Jubilee before long.
This passage, of course, literally alludes to prisoners held in durance by their fellow men. What a sad world man has madeof this earth! With superfluity of evil, man has multiplied his Bastilles! As if there were not misery enough to the free,he invents cells and chains! One's blood boils when standing in those living graves in which tyrants have buried their victimsout of sight and hearing! Could the most fierce of wild beasts display such cruelty to their kind as men have shown to men?By the horrors of such imprisonments, one must estimate the joy of being set free. To God it is a glory that, in the orderof His Providence, He often provides a way of escape for the oppressed. Cruel dynasties have been overthrown, tyrants havebeen hurled from their thrones and then enlargement has come to those who were shut up. Liberated ones should, indeed, "praisethe Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men."
But the various scenes in this Psalm were intended to describe spiritual conditions. The second verse is a key to the wholesong-"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." The deliverance here intended is one which is brought to us by redemption-andcomes by the way of the great Sacrifice on Calvary. We are redeemed with the precious blood of Him who surrendered His ownliberty for our sakes and consented to be bound and crucified that He might set us free. My grateful heart seems to hear Himsaying again, as He did in the Garden of Gethsemane, "If you seek Me, let these go their way." His consenting to be boundbrought freedom to all those who put their trust in Him.
I shall endeavor, as God shall help me, to speak of the text spiritually-and we will consider it under the heading of threequestions. First, Who are the favored men of whom the text speaks? Secondly, How has this remarkable deliverance been worked.Thirdly, What shall be done about it? The text tells us how to act. "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness!"
I. First, let us ask, WHO ARE THESE FAVORED MEN?
These favored persons were guilty men, as you will see by the context-"Because they rebelled against the words of God anddespised the counsel of the Most High." Hear this, you sinful ones, and take heart! God has worked great wonders for a peoplewhom it seemed impossible for Him to notice. If they came into prison through rebellion, you would expect Him to leave themthere. Yet rebels are set free by an act of immeasurable Grace! The Redeemer has received gifts for men, "yes, also for therebellious." These men were despisers of God's Word-was there a Gospel of freedom for them? Yes! It is for them that Jehovah,in abounding Grace, has worked miracles of mercy.
The persons described by the Psalmist were guilty of overt acts. They were in actual rebellion against the commands of theMost High. Their rebellion was not a single hasty act-their entire lives were a continuance of their wicked revolt. From theirchildhood, they went astray. In their youth, they provoked the Lord, and in their manhood they disobeyed
Him more and more. They were in open opposition to their Creator, Benefactor and Lord. I have no doubt that I am speakingto many who must admit that they have been actual and willful transgressors against the Lord of Love. They have turned untoHim their back, and not the face-they have not been servants, but rebels.
The persons here spoken of were as evil in their hearts as in their lives, for they, "despised the counsel of the Most High."Perhaps they intellectually rejected the teaching of Holy Scripture and scorned to receive what the Lord revealed. They refusedto yield their understandings to Infallible teaching and judged their own thoughts to be better than the thoughts of God.The counsel of the Most High, though marked by the sublimity of Him from whom it came, appeared to them to be less high thantheir own soaring theories and, therefore, they despised it. To some men, any doctrine is more acceptable than that of Scripture.They gladly hear what doubters say, but they will not hear what God the Lord shall speak. His counsel of instruction, Hiscounsel of command, His counsel of promise-His whole counsel they cast away from them-and they take counsel of their own conceit!
Now this actual and mental sin, when it is brought home to a man's awakened conscience, fills him with dismay. Because hehas transgressed with hand and heart, the convicted sinner is in sore dismay. O my Hearer, are you in distress this day throughyour own fault? Do you wonder that you are in trouble? Did you expect to go in the way of evil and yet to be happy? Did younever hear those words, "There is no peace, says my God, unto the wicked"? Know you not that they are "like the troubled seawhen it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt"? Now that you find yourself taken in the thorns of your own folly,are you at all surprised? The Scripture says, "Have you not procured this unto yourself?" Are not these the wages of sin?Thank God you have not yet received more than the earnest money of that terrible wage! But, depend upon it, sin is a hardpaymaster! Sin and sorrow are wedded in the very nature of things and there is no dividing them. They that sow iniquity shallreap the same. Turn as it may, the river of wickedness at last falls into the sea of wrath! He that sins must smart unlessa Savior can be found to be his Surety and to smart for him.
So, then, these people who were set free were, by nature, guilty men who could not have deserved the Divine interposition.Hear this, you consciously guilty, you that are condemning yourselves and confessing your faults! This is good news for you,even for you! The Lord sets free the men whose own hands have forged their manacles. This is Free Grace, indeed! These marvelsof delivering love were performed, not for the innocent in their misfortune, but for the guilty in their rebellion. "JesusChrist came into the world to save sinners."
Go a little further and you will notice that these persons were doomed men, for they "sat in darkness, and in the shadow ofdeath." It means that they were in the condemned cell, waiting for execution. No light could come to them, for their condemnationwas clear. No escape could be hoped for. Not a ray of hope came from any direction. In a short time they must be taken outto execution, so that the shadow of their death fell with its damp, dread, deadening influence upon their spirits. Do I addressany such this morning? Ah, my Friend, I can sympathize with you as you sit here and feel that you are doomed! I, too, havefelt that sentence of death within me! I knew myself to be "condemned already," because I had not believed on the Son of God.I recollect how those words, "condemned already," rang in my ears as I should think the bell of St. Sepulcher's used to soundin the ears of the condemned in Newgate, warning them that the time was come to go out upon the scaffold.
When the shadow of eternal wrath falls upon the heart, nothing worse can be imagined, for the conscience bears sure witnessthat God is just when He judges, condemns and punishes. When a man feels the shadow of death upon him, infidel arguments aresilenced, self-conceited defenses are banished and the heart consents to the justice of the Law of God which declares, "Thesoul that sins, it shall die." My Brothers and Sisters who remember being in this state of conscious condemnation will joinme in praying for those who are now in that condition, for they need our pity and love. O my Hearers, condemned in your ownconsciences, take heart and hope, for you are the sort of people whom Jehovah, in His Grace, delights to set free! Those doomedones were the men of whom our text sings, "He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death." It is your condemnedcondition which needs free mercy and, behold, the Lord meets your need in His boundless Grace!
To the doomed, the Lord God in Christ Jesus will give free pardon this morning! I speak with great confidence, for my trustis in the God of Love. The Lord is going to hear prayer for you sinners. You shall be brought from under the black cloud whichnow threatens you with overwhelming tempest-you shall come forth from the condemned cell, not to
execution-but to absolution! Blessed be the name of the Lord! He passes by transgression and does it justly through the Atonementof His Son!
But next, these persons were bound men, for they, "sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction andiron." Their afflictions were like iron, hard and cold, and such they could not break from. The iron entered into their souls.The rust cut the flesh and poisoned the blood. They were bound in a double sense-addiction within and iron without. It isa terrible thing when a man feels that he is lost and that he cannot get away from destruction. An evil habit has got himwithin its iron grasp and will not relax its hold. Even though he would, he cannot loosen himself from the thralldom of hissin. He has become a slave and there is no escape for him. "O my God!" he cries, "what can I do?" The more he strains, themore the iron seems to hold him. His attempts to be free from evil only prove to him how much enslaved he is. What an awfulcompound is described in the text-"affliction and iron"! The bondage is mental and physical, too. The enslaved spirit andthe depraved flesh act and react upon each other and hold the poor struggling creature as in an iron net! He cannot breakoff his sins. He cannot rise to a better life.
I know that some of you who are here at this time are in this case. You long to be delivered, but you are unable to cut thecords which hold you. You are greatly troubled, day after day, and cannot rest-and yet you get no farther. You are strivingto find peace, but peace does not come. You are laboring after emancipation from evil habits, but the habits still hold you!Friend thus bound, to you I have to tell the glad news that Jesus Christ has come on purpose that He might proclaim the openingof the prisons to them that are bound! "He has broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in two." God is able toliberate men from every bond of sin over which they mourn! Would you be free? He will open the door! There is no habit soinveterate, there is no passion so ferocious, but God can deliver you from it! If you will but trust in Jesus Christ, theSon of God, His Grace is a hammer that can break your chains! Let Jesus say, "Loosen him and let him go," and not even devilscan detain you! Christ's warrant runs over the whole universe and, if He makes you free, you will be free, indeed!
To advance another step, these persons were weary men, for we read of them, "He brought down their heart with labor." Thisdoes not happen to all in the same degree, but to some of us, this labor was exceedingly grinding and exhausting. Our heartswere lofty and needed bringing down-and the Lord used means to do it. With some, temporal circumstances go wrong-where everythingused to prosper, everything appears to be under a blight. From abundance they descend to need. Perhaps the health also beginsto give way and from being strong and hearty men they become sickly and feeble. How often this tames proud spirits! If itis not outward sorrow, it is within that they labor till their heart is brought low. They cannot rest and yet they try allearthly remedies for ease-they go to the theater, they sport with frivolous companions, they laugh, they dance, they plungeinto vice-but they cannot shake off the burden of their sin!
It will not be removed. As the giraffe, when the lion has leaped upon him, bears his enemy upon his shoulders and cannot dislodgehim, even though he rushes across the wilderness like the wind, so the sinner is being devoured by his sin while he madlylabors to shake it off. While the unconverted seek to rest themselves, they do but increase their weariness. They labor, yes,labor as in the very fire, but it is labor in vain! In vain do they hasten to every religions service and attend to everysacred ceremony! In vain do they try to mourn-how can they put feeling into a heart of stone? If they could, they would maketheir tears flow forever and their prayers forever rise, but, to their horror, they accomplish nothing! The whip of the Lawsounds and they must get to their tasks, again-but the more they do, the more they are undone. Like one that, having falleninto a slough, sinks all the deeper into the mire through every struggle that he makes, so do they fall lower and lower bytheir efforts to rise!
I understand those awful struggles of yours, so desperate and yet so unavailing. God is bringing down your heart with labor,but have you not had enough of this? Do you not remember that love word, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy-laden,and I will give you rest"? Sweet promise! Will you not believe it and avail yourselves of it? Will you not come to Jesus andtake the rest which He gives? How I wish you would come this very day! I beseech the Holy Spirit to turn you to Jesus. TheLord has come forth with power to draw you and to bring you away from your weariness unto the sweet rest which remains forthe people of God! Poor doves, fly no further! Return to your Noah! These of whom we speak at this time were as weary menas ever you can be, but Jesus gave them rest-why should He not give rest to you? Though bad, and banned, and bound, and burdened,there is yet hope, for the Lord can set you free!
Again, these persons were downcast men-"they fell down, and there was none to help." "We cannot go on any longer," they said."It is useless to exert ourselves. We cannot escape God's wrath and yet we cannot bear it. We are at our wits' end. Thereis no use in our trying to be better. We must give it up in despair." "They fell down." This shows that they were quite spent.The captive has been grinding at the mill till he cannot go another round. Even the lash cannot make him take another step-hefalls in faintness-as though life had gone. So have we known men forced to acknowledge that they are, "without strength."This was always true, but they did not always feel it. Now they have come to this, that if Heaven could be had for one moreeffort-and Hell escaped for one more good work-yet they could not do it! They fall down and there they lie, a heap of helplessness,dead in trespasses and sins! Where is the boasted power of their free will?
Now it is to you who have fallen down, even to you, that the word of this salvation is sent! The Lord Jesus delights to liftup those that lie at His feet. He is a great over-turner-"He has put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them oflow degree." He that flies aloft on the eagle's wings of pride shall be brought low by the shafts of vengeance. But he thathumbles himself to the dust shall be lifted up! He that has fallen down and lies in the dust at the feet of Jesus, lies onthe doorstep of eternal life! The Lord will give power to the weak and increase strength to those who have no might. I rejoicewhen I hear any one of you acknowledge his weakness, since the Lord Jesus will now show forth His power in you!
In fact, these persons were helpless men-"They fell down and there was none to help." What a word that is-"None to help"!The proverb says, "God helps those who help themselves." There is a sort of truth in it, but I venture to cover it with afar greater Truth of God-"God helps those that cannot help themselves." When there is none to help you, then God will helpyou. "There was none to help"-no priest, no minister, not even a praying wife, or a praying mother could do anything! Theman felt that human helpers were of no use. His bed was shorter than that he should stretch himself upon it and his coveringwas narrower than that he should wrap himself up in it. Now he saw that there was no balm in Gilead, there was no physicianthere-and he looked to a higher place than Gilead for balm and medicine! The balm for such a wound as his must come from Heaven,for on earth there was "none to help." This is a fitting epitaph to be placed over the grave of self-righteousness! This alsois the death-knell of priestcraft, birthright membership and sacra-mentarianism. The conscience sees that there is "none tohelp." Is this your case? Then you are the men and women in whom God will work the marvels of His Grace-and bring you outwhere you shall walk in light and peace!
There was only one good point about these people-they did, at last, take to praying-"Then they cried unto the Lord in theirtrouble." It was not much of a prayer to hear. It was too shrill to be musical. It was too painful to be pleasant. "They cried"like one in sore anguish. They cried like a child that has lost its mother. "They cried" like some poor wounded animal ingreat pain. Do you tell me that you cry, but that your cry is a very poor one? I know it and I am glad to hear you say so,for the less you think of your cry, the more God will think of it! Do you value yourself according to your prayers? Then yourprayers have no value in them! When you think that your prayers are only broken words, hideous moans and wretched desires,then you begin to form a right estimate of them and thus you are on true ground where the Lord of Truth can meet you.
"They cried." Was it any credit to them to cry? Why, no, it was what they were forced to do! They would not have cried tothe Lord, even then, if they could have done anything else. They cried when their hearts had been brought so low that theyfell down. It is a good fall when a man falls on his knees. O my dear Hearer, whatever else you do, or do not do, are youcrying to God in secret for His Grace? Then, as surely as the Lord lives, you shall come out into liberty! A praying man shallnever be sent to perdition. There is that about prayer which makes it a token for good, a pledge of blessings on the road,a door of hope in dark hours. Where is the man that cries? Where is the man that prays? That is the man of whom it shall besaid, and of others like he, "The Lord brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces."
May the Lord bless the description which I have given, so that some of you may see yourselves as in a mirror and be encouragedto hope that the Lord will save you as He has saved others like you! If you see yourself in the text, take home the comfortof it and make use of it. Do not look at it and say, "This belongs to somebody else." You Brothers and Sisters in bondage;you self-despairing sinners-you are the ones for whom Christ went up to the Cross! If you saw a letter directed to yourself,would you not open it? I should think so! The other day a poor woman received in a letter a little help sent to her by a friend.She was in great distress and she went to that very friend begging for a few shillings. "Why,"
said the other, "I sent you money yesterday, by an order in a letter!" "Dear, dear!" said the poor woman, "that must be theletter which I put behind the mirror!" Just so-and there are lots of people who put God's letters behind the mirror and failto make use of the promise which is meant for them! Come, all you that labor and are heavy-laden, come and taste my Master'slove, yes, take of it freely and be filled with heavenly rest!
II. Secondly, may God's Spirit go with us while we answer the question-HOW HAS THIS DELIVERANCE BEEN WORKED? You that havebeen set free should tell how you were emancipated! Let me tell my story first. It was the best news I ever heard when itwas told me that Jesus died in my place. I sat down in my misery, hopeless of salvation, ready to perish, till they told methat there was One who loved me and for love of me was content to yield His life for my deliverance! Wonder of wonders, Hehad actually borne the death penalty for me! They said that the Lord of Glory had become Man to save men and that if I trustedHim, I might know assuredly that He had suffered in my place and had blotted out my sins. I marveled much as I heard this,but I felt that no one could have invented news so strange! It surpassed all fiction, that the offended God should, Himself,take my nature and, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ should pay my debts, suffer for my sins and put those sins away!
I heard the blessed tidings-there was some comfort even in hearing it-and I believed it and clutched at it as for life. Thendid I begin to live! I believe that Truth of God today-all my hope lies there. If any of you wonder that I show zeal for thesubstitutionary Sacrifice of Christ, you may cease to ponder! Would not any one of you stand up for his wife and children?This Truth is more to me than wife and children-it is everything to me! I am a damned man for all eternity if Christ did notdie for me! I will put it no more softly than that. If my Redeemer had not borne my sins in His own body on the tree, thenI would have to bear them in my own body in the place of endless misery! I have no shade of a hope anywhere but in the Sacrificeof Jesus! I cannot, therefore, give up this Truth of God-I had sooner give up my life!
I heard that the Son of God had suffered in my place that I might go free. I believed it and I said to myself, "Then I haveno business to be sitting here in darkness and in the shadow of death." I shook myself from my lethargy. I arose and wentout of my prison-and as I moved to go out, a light shone round about me and my fetters fell clanking to the ground! What gloriousmusical instruments they were! The very things that had galled me so long, now brought me joy! I found that the iron gate,which I thought could never be unlocked, opened to me of its own accord. I could not believe that it was true, it seemed toowonderful! I thought I must be dreaming. I very soon knew of a surety that it was I, myself-the cold night air blew down thestreet of my daily care and I said, "Oh, yes, I am still on earth and it is true! And I am free from despair and deliveredfrom the curse!" This is how I came out to liberty-I believed in Jesus, my Redeemer. Today, my dear Brothers and Sisters here,hundreds of them, would, each one, tell the story in a different way, but it would come to the same thing.
Follow me while we go a little into Scriptural detail and learn from David how the Lord sets free the captives.
First, our deliverance was worked by the Lord Himself Listen-"HE brought them out of darkness." Write that, "HE," in capitalletters, Mr. Printer! Have you in the house any specially large letters? If so, set up that word in the most prominent typeyou have-"HE brought them out of darkness." Read also the 16th verse-"HE has broken the gates of brass." Did the Lord sendan angel to liberate us? No, HE came Himself in the Person of His dear Son! When the Lord Jesus Christ had paid our enormousdebt, did He leave us to accept our quittance entirely of our own free will, apart from His Grace? Ah, no! The Holy Spiritcame and made us willing in the day of His power! "HE." "HE." "HE" worked all the work for us and all our works in us! "HEbrought them out of darkness and the shadow of death." "Oh that men would praise the Lord, for HE has broken the gates ofbrass." It is the Lord's doing! It is marvelous in our eyes. There is no salvation worth the having which has not the handof the Godhead in it. It needs Father, Son and Holy Spirit to save a soul! None but the Trinity can deliver a captive soulfrom the chains of sin and death and Hell. Jehovah Himself saves us!
Next, the Lord did it alone-"He has broken the gates of brass." Nobody else was there to aid in liberating the prisoner. Whenour Lord Jesus trod the winepress, He was alone. When the Spirit of God came to work in us eternal life, He worked alone.Instruments are condescendingly used to convey the Word of Life, but the life of the Word is wholly of God. As to the DivineFather, is it not true, of "His own will begat He us by the Word of Truth"? He is the Author of our spiritual life and He,alone. None can share the work of our salvation with Him and none can divide the Glory. Ho, you that are captives, are youlooking for some man to help you? Remember, I pray you, that there is "none to help."
"Salvation is of the Lord." Remember that verse, "Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God,and there is none else." That is to say, there is no one else in the work of salvation except God! O Soul, if you have todo with Christ Jesus, you must have Him at the beginning; you must have Him in the middle; you must have Him in the end andyou must have Him to fill up every nook and corner from the first to the last. He alone has done it!
Note, too, that what He did was done by the Lord's own goodness, for the Psalmist says, "Oh that men would praise the Lordfor His goodness!" His goodness took the form of mercy, as it is said in the first verse of this Psalm, "O give thanks untothe Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever!" It must have been mercy, because those whom it blessed were as undeservingas they were miserable! They were guilty-guilty in action and guilty in thought-they had rebelled against the Words of Godand despised the counsel of the Most High. Yet He came and set them free! You and I are always needing to know before we givealms to beggars, "Are they deserving people?" God gives the alms of His Grace only to the undeserving! We respond to thosewho have a claim upon us-God remembers those who have no claim whatever upon Him! "Ah," says one, "but the people cried!"I know they did, but they did not even do that till He first of all brought down their heart with labor! Prayer is a giftfrom God as well as an appeal to God. Even prayer for mercy is not a cause, but a result! Divine Grace is at the back of prayerand at the base of prayer. These prisoners would not have prayed if God had not worked upon them and driven and drawn themto pray.-
"No sinner can be beforehand with Thee. Your Grace is most so vereign, Most rich and most free."
So it has been with others and, therefore, have I hope that it will be so with you, my beloved Hearers! In the greatness ofHis goodness I trust my Lord will come and save you. It is not your goodness, but His goodness, which is the cause of hope.It is not your merit, but His mercy is His motive for blessing you. How greatly do I rejoice to remember that the Lord delightsin mercy! It is His joy to pardon sin and pass by the transgressions of the remnant of His people.
Note, once again, that while we are describing this great deliverance, we cannot help seeing that the Lord effected it mostcompletely. What did He do? Did He bring them out of darkness? That was to give them light. Yes, but a man that is chainedis only a little better off for getting light, for then he can see his chains all the more! Notice what follows-"and out ofthe shadow of death"-so the Lord gave them life as well as light. That "shadow of death" is gone. It can no longer brood overtheir darkened spirits. Yes, but when a man has light and life, if he is still in bondage, his life may make him feel hisbondage the more vividly-and his light may make him long the more for liberty. But it is added, "and he broke their chainsin pieces," which means liberty. The Lord gave light, life and liberty-these three things. God does nothing by halves. Hedoes not begin to save and then say, "I have done enough for you. I must stop midway." Dear Heart, if the Lord comes to yourprison, He will not merely light a lamp in your dungeon, though that were something. He will not merely revive your spiritand give you more life, though that were something. But He will break your chains and bring you out into the liberty withwhich Christ makes men free! He will finish His emancipating work. Do it, Lord! Do it now! Help men to believe in Jesus atthis moment!
There is one more point which I want you to notice very carefully. When the Lord does this, he does this everlastingly. He"broke their chains in pieces." When a man was set free from prison in the old times when they used iron chains, the blacksmithcame and took the chains off and then they were hung up on the walls. Have you never been in ancient prisons and seen thefetters and manacles hanging up ready for use? Yes, for use upon those who have already worn such jewelry-if they should comethat way again! This is not the case, here, for He "broke their chains in pieces." Note this right well, O child of God! Youwere once shut up as with gates of brass and bars of iron-and the devil thinks that one of these days he will get you behindthose gates again! But he never will, for the Lord "has broken the gates of brass." All the powers of darkness cannot shutus up with broken gates! Satan thinks he will imprison us again, but the bars of iron are cut in two! The means of our captivityare no longer available!
My mind carries me to a certain scene and my eyes almost behold it. Behold Samson, the hero of Israel, shut in within thewalls of Gaza. The Philistines boast, "Now will he be our captive." He slept till midnight and then he arose. He found thathe was shut up within the city and so he went to the gate. That gate was barred and locked, but what difference does it make?Israel's champion bowed his great shoulders down to the gate-he took hold of both the posts, gave a tremendous heave-and inan instant tore up the whole construction from the earth in which it had been firmly placed!
"He lifted the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, and put them upon his shoulders,and carried them up to the top of a hill that is before Hebron." See in this thing a symbol of what our Lord Jesus Christdid when He arose from the dead. He carried away all that which held us captive-posts and bar and all! "He led captivity captive."
When our Lord had led us forth from our prison, He said to Himself, "They shall never be shut up again, for now I will makesure work of it," and therefore He broke the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in two. How then, can any child of Godbe shut up within the Gaza of sin again? How shall we be condemned when the Lord has put away our sin forever? No, the libertyreceived is everlasting liberty-we shall not see bondage any more. Oh, dear Souls, I want you to lay hold on this! You doomedand guilty! You downcast and wearied, there is everlasting salvation for you-not that which will save you today and will letyou go back to your bondage tomorrow-but that which will make you the Lord's free men forever! If you believe that Jesus isthe Christ. If you believe in Him to save you, you shall be saved! It is not said half-saved, but saved! "He that believesand is baptized shall be saved." That cannot admit that we should go to Hell. Jesus says, "I give unto My sheep eternal life;and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." "He has broken the gates of brass, and cutthe bars of iron in two." Lord, help some poor souls to sing this song today and receive, at this moment, everlasting salvation!
III. I close with a practical question-WHAT IS TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS? If such people as we have described have been broughtinto liberty, what is to be done about it? I do not want to tell you what to do. I would have you do it by instinct. Gladlywould I, like Miriam, take a timbrel and go first and bid all the sons and daughters of Israel follow me in this song-"Singunto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously. He has brought out His captives and set His people free." It naturally suggestsitself to the liberated spirit to magnify the Lord. So the Psalmist put it, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness!"
First, then, if the Lord has set any of you free-record it. See how David wrote it down. Write it in your diary. Write itso that friends may read it. Say, "The Lord has done great things for us."
When you have recorded it, then praise God. Praise God with all your heart. Praise God, everyone of you! Praise God everyday! When you have praised God, yourselves, then entreat others to join with you! The oratorio of God's praise needs a fullchoir. I remember, years ago, a bill connected with a religious service of a very pretentious character, and on this billit promised that the Hallelujah Chorus should be sung before the sermon. The friend who led the singing for me at that timecame in to me and asked if I could spare him. "See here," he said, "a person has come from the service which has been advertisedto say that they have nobody to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. The minister wants me to go down and do it." I answered, "Yes.By all means go! If you can sing the Hallelujah Chorus, alone, don't throw yourself away on me."
Then we smiled and, at last, broke out into a laugh-it was too much for our gravity! Surely, for a man to think that he cansufficiently praise God, alone, is much like attempting to sing the Hallelujah Chorus as a solo! The Psalmist therefore uttersthat great, "Oh!" "Oh that men would praise the Lord!" I do not think he said, "men," for the word, "men," is in italics-thetranslators are accountable for it. He means, "Oh that angels! Oh that cherubim and seraphim would praise the Lord! Oh thatall creatures that have breath would praise the Lord for His goodness!" Even that would not be enough-let the mountains andthe hills break forth before Him into singing-and let all the trees of the forest clap their hands. Let the sea roar and thefullness, thereof, the world and they that dwell therein. With a great, "Oh!" With a mighty sigh over the holy business whichwas far too great for himself, David felt moved to call upon all others to praise the Lord!
I close with that, my Brothers, my Sisters-you that have been saved, praise God! Praise Him with the blessings He has lavishedon you. I described them in three ways. With your light praise Him-the more you know, the more you see, the more you understand-turnit all into praise. Next, with your life praise Him-with your physical life, with your mental life, with your spiritual life-withlife of every sort, even unto eternal life, praise the Lord. Liberty has been given us-let our freedom praise Him. Be likethat man who was made straight, who went out of the Temple, walking and leaping and praising God. God has made you free, feelfree to praise Him! And if men will not give you leave to praise, take French leave. Yes, take heavenly leave and praise Godanywhere and everywhere!
Listen how they sing the songs of Bacchus and of Venus in the streets and even wake us up in the night-therefore why may wenot sing God's praises in the same public fashion? We must praise Him! We will praise Him! We do praise Him! And we shallpraise Him forever and ever!
Praise Him with the heart He has changed, with the lips He has loosed, with the lives He has spared! A little while ago youcould not speak a cheerful word, but now you can rejoice in God. Let those lips, from which He has taken the muzzle of dumbdespair, be opened in His praise. Praise Him with all the talents He has lent you. If you have any power of thought, if youhave any fluency of speech, praise Him! It you have any voice of song, praise Him. If you have health and strength, praiseHim. Let every limb of your body praise Him-those members which were servants of sin, let them be instruments of righteousnessunto God! Praise Him with your substance. Let your gold and silver, yes, and your bronze, praise Him! Praise Him with allthat you have and with all that you are-and with all that you hope to be. Lay your all upon the altar. Make a whole burnt-offeringof it. Praise Him with all the influence you have. If He has delivered you from the shadow of death, let your shadow, likethat of Peter, become the instrument of God's healing power to others!
Teach others to praise God. Influence them by your example. Fill your house with music from top to bottom- perfume every roomwith the fragrance of living devotion! Make your houses belfries and be, yourselves, the bells forever ringing out the loudpraises of the Lamb of God. He bore your sins-you bear His praises. He died for you, therefore live for Him! He has heardyour prayers-let Him hear your praises! Let us together sing "hallelujah to God and the Lamb." Let us stand upon our feetand with one voice and heart let us sing-
"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, you heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!"