Sermon 2004. The Lover of God's Law Filled With Peace
DELIVERED ON LORD'S DAY MORNING, JANUARY 22, 1888,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Great peace have they which love Your Law: and nothing shall offend them." Psalm 119:165.
THIS forms part of a devotional passage. It is not merely a statement that great peace comes to those who love the Law ofGod, but it is uttered as part of a hymn of praise unto the Lord. We cannot praise God better than by stating facts concerningHim and His Word. If you desire to praise God, you must speak of Him as He is. If you would pour out an acceptable libationbefore Him, you must fill the vessel from Himself, as the wellhead of all excellence. Our Te Deums are simply declarationsof what God is-there can be no higher praise. His praises can only be the reflection of His own light. All glory is alreadyin Him, none can be added to Him.
And so, when we are adoring Him for His Law and blessing Him for giving us His Word, we cannot do better than observe howthat Law operates upon the heart and praise Him because it so works. We have no need to heap up flattering titles as men dowith their kings. We have no need to invent exaggerated expressions. We have but to speak the simple Truth concerning ourGod and we have praised Him. By the word, "Law," here is intended, not only the Law of the Ten Commandments but the wholeof Divine Revelation, as it was in David's time and as it is now. Whatever God has revealed is loved by saintly men.
This sacred Book, which we commonly call the Bible, contains the mind of God so far as He has seen fit to reveal it to men.It is the Law of holiness as the guide of our actions and the Law of faith by which we receive of His Divine Grace. Here wehave the Law of the kingdom of Heaven, the Law of life in Christ Jesus. As a Law of works, this holy Book convicts us of sin.As a Law of love it leads us to Jesus, to find forgiveness through His blood. In David's day the Law was a smaller Book thanours but he found great peace in the reading of it-it was even then competent for the highest spiritual ends. We have thatBook at greater length but it is one and the same.
The same Gospel is in Genesis as in Matthew. The Old Testament was perfect in itself as the Law of the Lord and the New Testamentis but an expansion of the same Truth which the Old contains. We rejoice to find that our larger edition of the Word of Godcontains nothing which lessens that great peace which the earlier Scriptures were able to produce. As the light is clearer,the joy is brighter and the reasons for great peace are more clearly seen.
God's Law comprises all His precepts and in keeping these we have peace of conscience. It contains all His promises and theseare our great peace in the hour of need. And it comprehends all those great doctrines which surround the Cross of Christ andthe Covenant of Grace and each one of these is a fountain of peace to our hearts. We take this Book as a whole and in thisway we have peace. We dare not rend it, we would not leave out any part of it lest we miss the blessed effect which, as awhole, it is calculated to produce. Sitting as learners at the feet of Jesus our Master, submitting our hearts and minds tothe infallible teaching of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all Truth, we find that the peace of God, which passes all understanding,keeps our hearts and minds by Christ Jesus.
Three things in the text are worthy of earnest attention. May the Spirit of God bless all we say! First, here is a spiritualcharacter-"they which love Your Law." Secondly, here is a special possession-"great peace have they." And thirdly, here isa singular preservation-"nothing shall offend them"-or nothing shall be a stumbling block to them. Oh, that we may know ourtext experimentally!
I. First, here is A SPIRITUAL CHARACTER-"they which love Your Law." Love lies deep-it is in the heart-it is not a thing ofthe surface, it is of the man's own self. As a man loves so is he. To love God's Law is to have the very nature and essenceof our manhood in a right condition. To love the Word is something more than to read it, even though we should study it dayand night. It is more even than to understand it. For the cold light of the intellect is of little worth
compared with the warm sunlight of love. Many, no doubt, perceive the Truths which are taught in God's Word and so becomeorthodox in their professed creed.
But without love their faith is dead. You cannot learn the Law of God as you learn the laws of nature. Your heart must beaffected by it and you must obey it in your life or you do not truly know it. Only he who does the will of God can know ofthe doctrine. Mere knowledge brings no peace to the man. The Truth must go from the head to the heart before its power isknown. Some even try to keep the Law of the Lord so far as to make the outward life conformable to morality and religion.But this falls far short of the love of the heart. To stand in slavish fear and dread of God is better than to be utterlyindifferent but it is a poor thing compared with love.
Slaves obey their masters because of the lash and so do many outwardly follow the Word because of the spirit of bondage whichwill not permit them to rebel. But there is something lacking-nothing in religion is sound till the heart goes with it. Godsays, "My son, give Me your heart," and He cannot be satisfied with anything short of it. Search, then, my Hearers and seeif you really love the Law of the Lord.
He who loves the Word would not wish to have it altered, enlarged, or diminished-it reveals enough for him and no more. Forhe is content with what God chooses to teach him. If he finds any want of conformity in his own thoughts to God's thoughts,he throws his own thoughts away and sets up the Divine thoughts in their place. As he is reconciled to God in Christ Jesus,so is his mind reconciled to the teaching against which he at first rebelled. He loves the Law of the Lord just as he findsit. And instead of judging it and daring to set himself up as a dictator of what it ought to be, he is humble and docile andcries, "Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears."
He loves every Truth which the Lord declares-yes, and the very style and method of the declaration. Every word of God's Bookhas in it music for his ears, beauty for his eyes, honey for his mouth and food for his soul. The teachings of God's Wordare to the instructed Believer not only articles of faith but matters of life. Our faith has imbibed them and our experiencehas assimilated them. We could part with everything except what we have learned out of the Sacred Book by the teaching ofthe Holy Spirit. For that flows through our souls like the blood through our body and it is intermixed with every vital partof our being.
Like wool which has been made to lie long in scarlet we are dyed ingrain. As certain insects take their color from the leavesthey feed upon, so have we become tinctured to the core of our nature with the living and incorruptible Word. It has provedits own inspiration by inspiring us with its Spirit. Now we live in the Word as the fish in the stream. It is the elementof our spiritual life. This may suffice to set before you the sort of people who obtain great peace from the Law of the Lord,because, in the truest sense, they love it.
This inward and spiritual love to God's Word includes many other good things. Permit me to use the connection in order tohelp myself as to order and to help you as to memory. Read the first verse of this octave-the 161st verse- "Princes have persecutedme without a cause: but my heart stands in awe of Your Word." The love of God's Law includes a deep reverence for it. Thatman is blessed who trembles at God's Word. This Book is not to be compared with other books. It is not of the same class andorder. It is inspired in a sense in which they are not.
It stands alone and is not one among other books. As towers an Alp above the molehills of the meadow, so Holy Scripture risesabove the purest, truest and holiest literature of man's composing. Even if all those other books are purged of error andare corrected to the highest degree of human knowledge, yet would they no more reach to the degree of the Book of God thanman can become God. It is supreme and of another quality from all the rest of them. Other writings we feel free to criticizebut, "My heart stands in awe of Your Word." The man who loves God's Word does not trifle with it. It is far too sacred tobe toyed with. He does not mock it. For he believes it to be God's Word.
With a docility which comes of true sonship, it is enough for him that his Father says so. His one anxiety is, as far as possible,to know the meaning of his Father's Words-and, that known, all debate is out of the question. "Thus says the Lord," is toevery true child of God the end of the matter. I have often told you, my dear Friends, that I view the difficulties of HolyScriptures as so many prayer-stools upon which I kneel and worship the glorious Lord. What we cannot comprehend by our understanding,we apprehend by our affections. Awe of God's Word is a main element in that love of God's Law which brings great peace.
This advances to rejoicing in it. Read verse 162-"I rejoice at Your Word, as one that finds great spoil." As a conqueror inthe glad hour of victory shouts over the dividing of the prey, so do Believers rejoice in God's Word. I can recollect as ayouth the great joy I had when the doctrines of Divine Grace were gradually opened up to me by the Spirit of Truth. I didnot
at first perceive the whole chain of precious Truth. I knew that Jesus had suffered in my place and that by believing in HimI had found peace. But the deep things of the Covenant of Grace came to me one by one, even as at night you first see onestar and then another and by-and-by the whole heavens are studded with them.
When it first became clear to me that salvation was all of grace, what a revelation it was! I saw that God had made me todiffer from others-I ascribed my salvation wholly to His free favor. I perceived that, at the back of the grace which I hadreceived, there must have been a purpose to give that grace and then the glorious fact of an election of grace flowed in uponmy soul in a torrent of delight. I saw that the love of God to His own was without beginning-a boundless, fathomless, infinite,endless love-which carries every chosen vessel ofmercy from grace to glory. What a God is the God of Sovereign Grace! Howdid my soul rejoice as I saw the God of love in His sovereignty, immutability, faithfulness and omnipotence!
"Among the gods there is none like unto You." So will any young convert here rejoice if he so loves the Law of the Lord asto continue studying it and receiving the illumination of the Holy Spirit concerning it. As the child of God sees into thedeep things of God he will be ready to clap his hands for joy. It is a delightful sensation to feel that you are growing.Trees, I suppose, do not know when they grow, but men and women do-when the growth is spiritual. We seem to pass into a newHeaven and a new earth as we discover God's Truth. A new guest has come to live within our mind and He has brought with Himbanquets such as we never tasted before.
Oh how happy is that man to whose loving mind Holy Scripture is opening up its priceless treasures! We know that we love God'sWord when we can rejoice in it. We wish that we could gather up every crumb of Scripture and find food in its smallest fragments.Even its bitter rebukes are sweet to us. I would kiss the very feet of Scripture and wash them with my tears! Alas, that Ishould sin against it by a thought, much more by a word! If it is but God's Word, though some may call it non-essential, wedare not think it so. The little things of God are more precious than the great things of man. The Truth of God is no trifleto one who has fought his way to it and learned it in the school of affliction. "O my Soul, you have trod down strength!"And that which you have gained in the battle is your joyful spoil.
Further than this, we receive Holy Scripture with emotion. David says, "I hate and abhor lying: but Your Law do I love." Heregards all that is opposed to the Law of the Lord as hateful lying. Those are hard words, David! Surely you are sinning againstthe charity of our cultured age! Yes, but when a man feels strongly, he cannot help speaking strongly. "I hate," says he andthat is not enough. He says, "I hate and abhor lying." His whole being revolts at it. He means not only that lying with whichin common life men would deceive their fellows-that is hateful enough. But he refers especially to that kind of teaching whichgives the lie to the Law of the Lord. For he adds, "But your Law do I love."
A good man's hate of falsehood is as intense as his love of the Truth of God. It must necessarily be so. He who worships thetrue God detests and loathes idols. In these days there are many men to whom the Truths of Scripture are like a pack of cardsto be shuffled as occasion suits. To them peace and quietness are jewels and the Truth of God is as the mire of the streets.It does not matter to them what this man preaches and what that man writes. Hold your tongue-it will be all the same a hundredyears from now-and really, nobody can be quite sure of anything!
To the man that is loyal to his Lord and faithful to his convictions, it can never be so. He hates the teaching which belieshis God. He that has never felt his blood boil against an error which robs God of His glory does not love the Law, nor willhe know that great peace which comes by having the Law enshrined in the heart.
One other virtue is included in the love of the Word. According to the context, great gratitude to God for His Word is formedin the believing heart. "Seven times a day do I praise You because of Your righteous judgments." God's judgments written inHis Word are matters of praise-
"This is the judge that ends the strife Where wit and reason fail."
God's judgments actively going on in the world which tally with those predicted in His Word are also matters for adoring praise.The God of the Word is the God of the deed. What He says He does and every day and all the day we praise Him for it.
Beloved, God may do what He wills and we will praise Him. He may say what He wills and we will praise Him. We read in HisWord stern things, words of wrath and deeds of vengeance. Shall we try to soften them, or invent apologies for them? By nomeans. Jehovah our God is a consuming fire. We love Him, not as He is improved upon by "modern thought," but as He revealsHimself in Scripture. The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob-"this God is our God forever and ever-He will be our Guide,even unto death." Even when He is robed in the terror of His judgments, we sing praises unto His name. Even as they did atthe Red Sea, when they saw Pharaoh and his host swallowed up in the mighty waters-"Sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphedgloriously: the horse and his rider has He thrown into the sea."
Our hallelujahs are "to Him that slew mighty kings; for His mercy endures forever." It is not mine to improve upon the characterof Jehovah but to reverence and adore Him as He manifests Himself, either in judgment or in Divine Grace. I, who am less thannothing, and vanity, dare not scan His work, nor bring Him to my bar, lest I hear a voice saying, "No, but O man, who areyou that replies against God?" What am I that I should be the ultimate judge of truth, or of justice, or of wisdom? WhateverGod may be, or speak, or do-that is right-it is not mine to arraign my Maker but to adore Him.
Extenuations, explanations and apologies may be produced from the best of motives. But too often they suggest to oppos-ersthat it is admitted that God's most Holy Word contains something in it which is doubtful, or weak, or antiquated. It looksas though it needed to be defended by human wisdom. Brethren, the Word of the Lord can stand alone, without the propping whichmany are giving it. These props come down and then our adversaries think that the Book is down, too. The Word of God can takecare of itself and will do so if we preach it and cease defending it. See that lion? They have caged him for his preservation-shuthim up behind iron bars to secure him from his foes!
See how a band of armed men have gathered together to protect the lion. What a clatter they make with their swords and spears!These mighty men are intent upon defending a lion. O fools and slow of heart! Open that door! Let the lord of the forest comeforth free. Who will dare to encounter him? What does he want with your guardian care? Let the pure Gospel go forth in allits lion-like majesty and it will soon clear its own way and ease itself of its adversaries. Yes, without attempting to apologizeeven for the severer Truths of Revelation, seven times a day do we praise the Lord for giving us His judgments, so righteousand so sure.
I have shown you now, dear Friends, how this love lies deep in the heart and how it includes much of honor and reverence.Let me further remark that this love is productive of many good things. They that love God's Word will meditate on it andmake it the man of their right hand. What a companion the Bible is! It talks with us by the way, it communes with us uponour beds-it knows us altogether and has a suitable word for every condition of life. Hence we cannot be long without listeningto our Beloved's voice in this Book of books. I hope we realize the character described in the first Psalm-"His delight isin the Law of the Lord. And in His Law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers ofwater."
Love to the Word of God creates great courage in the defense of it. It is wonderful how the most timid creatures will defendtheir young, how even a hen becomes a terrible bird when she has to take care of her chicks-even so, quiet men and women contendearnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints and will not tamely submit to see the Truth of God torn in pieces bythe hounds of error and hypocrisy.
The love of the Law of God breeds penitence for having sinned against it and perseverance in obedience to it. It also begetspatience under suffering, for it leads the man to submit himself to the will of God whom he loves so much. He says, "It isthe Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him." The Word of God begets and fosters holiness. Jesus said, "Sanctify them throughYour Truth; Your Word is Truth." You cannot study the Scriptures diligently and love them heartily without having your thoughtsand acts savored and sweetened by them. A gentleness and kindness will be infused into your spirit by the very tone of theWord. A sacred delicacy and carefulness of conduct will surround your daily life in proportion as you steep your mind in Scripture.
Let me commend to you, my beloved Friends, that you live with the Law of the Lord till even men of the world perceive thatyou keep choice company. The trashy lives of most people are the fit outcome of the trash which they read. A life fed on fictionis a life of fiction. A life fed on Divine fact will become a life of Divine fact. I have no time in which to show you allthe sweet uses of the Law of the Lord-it does much for the formation of a perfect character. No molding force is so much tobe desired as that of the Word of the Lord in the love of it.
This much, however, I must add-if in any of us there is a love of the Law of the Lord, this is a work of the Holy Spirit.Nature does not love God and hence it does not love God's Law. Human nature is in open and active rebellion to everythingthat is commanded or commended by the thrice-holy God. If, then, you love God and His holy Law, the Holy Spirit has been atwork in you. And by this new love it is proven that you are a new creature. The old nature delights itself in everything whichis of the earth earthy. It is only the new and heavenly life which can appreciate and love heavenly things. My Brothers andSisters, let your love of the Law be to you a proof of your regeneration-you have passed from darkness into marvelous light-foryou love light. Let this be to you the evidence of your election-you had never loved God and His Law if He had not loved youfirst.
What can your love to God be but a reflection of His love to you? Hear Him say, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."See, also, in this love of God's Law the prophecy of your ultimate perfection. We do not keep the Law as we would. But ifwe desire to keep it, that which holds the will is the real Law of our life. If there is in us a strong and passionate desireto
accept and obey God's Word in everything and to be conformed to it in thought and life, that desire will ultimately get thevictory. Use well the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God-and by the force of your love give sin sharp and heavythrusts and you shall conquer until every thought is brought into captivity to the Law of Christ.
II. We have spent too long a time upon our first point and shall have to be brief upon the other heads. Our second divisionis a very sweet part of the text. Here is A SPECIAL POSSESSION, "great peace have they which love Your Law."
When Orientals meet each other their usual salutation is "Shalom"-"Peace be to you." The word does not mean merely quiet andrest but happiness or prosperity. Great peace means great prosperity. Those who love God's Law have great blessedness in thislife as well as in that which is to come. In loving the Law of God we have intense enjoyment and real success in
Let us, however, take the text as we have it in our Bibles. By peace here is not meant that a man who loves God's Law willhave great peace with everybody, for that is not at all true. If David penned this sentence, he certainly was not an instanceof great peace with men flowing out of his love to the Lord's Law. He was a man of war from his youth. He had peace as a shepherdboy but even then he had to kill lions and bears and soon after he had to meet a giant in single combat. Neither in his familynor in Saul's court was he at peace. He was hunted like a partridge upon the mountains and had to run for it from day to day.He had not much earthly peace.
When he had done with Saul, the Philistines invaded the land. If it is possible, we are to live peaceably with all men. ButHe who has put enmity between the serpent and the woman never meant that we should enjoy the friendship of the world. Thegreat peace which they have who love God's Law refers to a peace which can exist when strife rages all around us. Does notit mean this-first, great restfulness of the intellect? If we love God's Law in the sense in which we have explained it, soas to stand in awe of it and rejoice over it, the result will be great peace of mind.
Everybody must find infallibility somewhere. Some think it is with the Pope at Rome, others dream that it is in themselves-thesecond theory is no more true than the first. Others of us believe that infallibility lies in the Word of God-this Book isto us the final court of appeal. When God's Holy Spirit leads us into the Truth which He has revealed in this Book, we feela full assurance that we know the Truth of God and we speak from experience when we say that the loving belief of the Wordbrings us great intellectual repose. I care nothing what supposed philosophers may discover-they cannot discover anythingtrue which is contrary to God's Word. I know that I am speaking that which is best for my fellow men in the highest and bestsense, when I am not venting a theory but setting forth a Revelation from Heaven.
He who gave us the infallible Book has all the responsibility for its contents. If I believe what God tells me and do whatHe bids me, the results are with Him and not with me. He is the ruler of the universe and not I. And if there are any terriblemysteries, He must explain them-not I-if they ought to be explained. I am like a servant who is sent to the door with a message.If I deliver the message which my Master gives me as I receive it, you must not be angry with me, for I did not invent themessage, I only repeated it to you. Be angry with my Master, not with me.
That is how I feel when I have done preaching. If I have honestly preached what I believe to be in God's Word, I am free fromall responsibility for my ministry. My responsibility lies in endeavoring to interpret the Word as clearly as I can. I amnot accountable for its teaching. I have not before me the unbearable burden of composing a Gospel. I remember well a minister,whom I much respect, saying to me, "I wish I could feel as you do. You have certain fixed principles about which you are sureand you have only to state them and enforce them. But I am in a formative state. I make my theology fresh every week."
Dear me, I thought, what a hopeless state for progress and establishment! If the student of mathematics had no fixed law asto the value of numbers but made a new multiplication table every week, he would not make many calculations. If a baker wereto say to me, "Sir, I am always altering the ingredients of my bread-I make a different bread every week," I should be afraidthe fellow would poison me one of these days. I would rather go to a man whose bread I had found good and nourishing. I cannotafford to experiment in the Bread of Life. Besides, there is an intellectual unrest in all this kind of thing which is escapedfrom when we come to love the Word of the Lord as we love our lives. Oh, the rest of knowing within your very soul that theTruth of God you rest upon is a sure foundation!
Those who love God's Word have also a great peace which comes of a pacified conscience. Conscience is as a terrible wild beastwhen aroused and irritated by a sense of sin. Nothing will quiet conscience effectually and properly but the great doctrineof the Substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. When we see that God has laid on His only begotten Son all our iniquities andthat the chastisement of our peace was exacted of Him as our Substitute, then conscience smiles upon us. If God is satisfiedwith regard to our sins, we are satisfied, too. We see in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ that which must satisfy Divine
justice and therefore our conscience receives a safe and holy quiet and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,by whom also we have received the atonement.
And the same conscience also brings great peace when it bears testimony to renewal of heart and life. When a man knows inhis own soul that he seeks to do that which is right in the sight of God, and that he is aspiring after a pure, gracious,useful life, he has great peace even when others ridicule him. If you have taken your own way and acted dishonestly for gain,peace will not visit your heart. But if you have loved God's Law and kept to the way of strict integrity, you will have withinyour own bosom an angel of peace to strengthen you in the hour of sorrow. "The testimony of a good conscience is like thesong of the angels to the shepherds at Bethlehem."
Beloved, what a peace the love of the Word brings to the heart! All hearts require an object of love. How many hearts havebeen broken because the thing beloved has disappointed them and proved false to their hopes? But when you love God's Word,your love is not wasted upon an unworthy object. It introduces you to Christ and you love Him intensely, and however muchyou yield your heart to Him, you are always safe. Jesus is never a Judas to His friends. Jesus cannot be loved too well andhence the heart has great peace when it comes to Him.
To love God's Word gives great peace as to our desires. You will not be grasping after wealth when the Word is better to youthan the most fine gold. You will not be ambitious to shine among men when to you the Word of the Lord is a kingdom largeenough. Your desires will be regulated by true wisdom when your heart is garrisoned by the Word of the Lord which dwells inyou richly. When Christ Himself is our All in All, we are harbored in the haven of peace. When our desires find their pasturagearound the Great Shepherd's feet, our ambitions cease to roam and we abide at home in peace. Content with a dinner of herbsin our Lord's company, we no longer pine for the stalled ox of the wicked who prospers in his way. To love the Law is to ceasefrom covetousness and to cease from covetousness is great peace.
When we love God's Law, we reach forward to the peace of resignation to God, acquiescence in His will and conformity to it.It is of no use to quarrel with God. Let me say more-it is disgraceful, ungrateful and wicked-for a child of God to do so.When we perfectly yield to God our heart's sorrow is at an end. The sting of affliction lies in the tail of our rebellionagainst the Divine will. When we love God's Word intensely, we take pleasure in persecutions, tribulations and infirmities,since they instruct us in the Divine promises and open up to us the hidden meanings of the Spirit. Our mind is so near toGod and so pleased with all that pleases Him, that we do not desire to suffer less, or to be less weak, or less tried, thanthe will of God ordains. To love the Law and the Lawgiver goes a great way towards loving all that He appoints and decrees.And this is a garden of peace to all who know it.
Besides, the love of the Word breeds a happy confidence in God as to all things in the past, the present and the future. Whatsoeverthe Lord does or permits must be right, or works right. "We know that all things work together for good to them that loveGod, to them that are the called according to His purpose." This is a very peace-breathing belief. When we love God's Word,we see God at the beginning of everything, God at the end of everything and God in the middle of everything. And as we seeHim present whom we love, we cease from anxious thought. "My soul is even as a weaned child." Of such a man is it written,"His soul shall dwell at ease." The Lord whom he takes to be his Shepherd makes him to lie down in green pastures and he asksno more.
III. I am cramped by want of time. I must, therefore, in a very few words sum up what deserves to be spoken at length uponthe third point. Here is A SINGULAR PRESERVATION-"Nothing shall offend them." There shall be no stumbling block in their way.
Intellectual stumbling blocks are gone. One asks me, "Do you mean to say that you read the Bible and do not find difficultiesin it?" I regard the Word of God as being infallibly inspired and therefore if I find difficulties in it, which I must dofrom the very nature of things, I accept what God says about those difficulties and pass on. The Word of God does not professto explain all mysteries-it leaves them mysteries and my faith accepts them as such. When out in a yacht in the Clyde we cameopposite the great rock called the Rock of Arran. Our captain did not steam right ahead and rush at the rock-no, he did whatwas much wiser-he cast anchor for the night in the bay at the foot of it, so that we were sheltered from the wind by the vastheadland.
I remember looking up through the darkness of the night and admiring its great sheltering wing. A difficulty it was-it becamea shelter. Every now and then in Scripture you come before a vast Truth. Will you steam against it and wreck your soul? Willyou not, with truer wisdom, cast anchor under the lee of it? Do we need to understand everything? Are we to be all brain andno heart? What should we be the better if we understood all mysteries? I believe God. I bow before His Word. Is not this betterfor us than the conceit of knowing and understanding? We are as yet mere children. We know in part.
Of course, we are blessed, in this enlightened age, with some wonderfully great men who understand more than the ancientsand either know the unknowable, or think they do. In a sentence I will give you the result of my observation upon men andthings-"No man knows everything except a fool and he knows nothing." I have not yet met with any exception to this rule-no,not even among the superior persons who prefer culture to Scripture. If you love the Word of God, you will see no difficultieswhich will in the least cause you to stumble. Love to the Word is the abolition of difficulties. Things hard to be understoodbecome steppingstones on which to rise and not stumbling blocks over which to fall.
"Nothing shall offend them." Does not this also mean that no moral duty shall be a cross to them which shall cause them toturn aside? They will not turn away from Jesus because a sin has to be abandoned, a lust denied, or a pleasure given up. Theman who has counted the cost will not be offended by his Lord's requirements. Does Jesus say, "Do this"? He does it withoutdemur. Does Jesus say, "Cease from that"? He withdraws his hand at once. When a man once loves the Law of God, albeit it involvesself-denial, humiliation, loss-he shrinks not at the cost. Self-denial ceases to be self-denial when love commands it. TheCross of Christ is an easy yoke and soon ceases to be a burden. A duty which for a little season is irksome, becomes pleasurablebefore long to a lover of the Law of the Lord.
Moreover, the man who loves God's Law is not offended if he has to stand alone. To some persons it is impossible to traversea lonesome way but he that truly loves God's Law resolves that if all men forsake him he will cleave to the Lord and His Truth.Can you not stand alone? Does solitude offend you? As for me, I am resolved, by God's grace, not to follow a multitude todo evil. I will keep to the old faith and the old way if I never find a comrade between here and the celestial gates. I donot think a man loves God's Word thoroughly till it breeds in him a self-contained peace so that he is satisfied from himselfand drinks water out of the cistern of his own experience.
Paul was not offended though at his first answer no man stood by him. What have we to do with other men as supporters of ourfaith? To their own master they stand or fall. As for our Master in Heaven, let us follow Him through life and unto death.For to whom else could we go? He only has the words of Eternal Life.
Neither will such persons ever be so offended as to despair of God's great cause. The night grows darker and darker but theman who loves the Divine Law expects the sun to rise at its appointed hour. Oh, that the Lord would hasten it in His own time!If He delays we will not, therefore, doubt. Divine Grace has produced, in past ages, men who were confident as to the triumphof the Truth of God when others feared for it. Look at the dauntless courage of Luther, who, when everybody else despairedof the Gospel, trusted his God and cheered his people and would not hear of drawing back. He could not pronounce the word"despair." "Luther, can you shake Rome? The harlot sits enthroned upon her seven hills, can you hope to dislodge her, or loosethe captive nations from her bonds? Can you do this?"
"No," said Luther, "but God can." Luther brought his God into the quarrel and you know which way the conflict turned. Nottoday, nor tomorrow, nor in twenty years, may God's Truth win-but the Lord can afford to wait-His lifetime is eternity. OStruggler for the Truth, make sure that you are with God and with the Truth and then be sure that God is with you in Truthand will deliver you. "Nothing shall offend them."
It is wonderful, if you love God's Word, how things which are stumbling blocks to others cease to be injurious to you. Supposeyou enjoy prosperity-if you love God's Law you will not be puffed up by deceitful riches or honors. You will be humble whenall men admire you and all comforts flow in upon you. The Lord's Word in your heart will be as a salt to your estate so thatit breeds in you neither worldliness, nor forgetfulness of God, nor pride. Your goods shall be your good, if you learn touse them for God's glory.
The same will be true of adversity. He that can stand on the hilltop can stand in the valley. If you love God's Law you arethe man to be poor, to be sickly, to be slandered. For you can bear it all because you have meat to eat that the world knowsnot of. Your love to God's Law will furnish you with a ceaseless stream of consolation. Nothing will dampen the flame of yourspirit because the Lord feeds it secretly with a golden oil. O Servants of God, let us be glad together in this day of rebuke!The thunder is heard but it is mere noise. The sea roars but it is only roaring. Let us laugh at those who would silence faithfultestimony. For the Lord God omnipotent reigns and great is the peace which He gives to the lovers of His Law.
As for you who love not God's Law, who know nothing of Jesus, because you have never submitted to the Law of faith- thereis no "great peace" for you. There may be the deceptive cry of, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace." But may the Lord saveyou from it! Soul, there is no hope for you, you can not rest till you are at one with God. As surely as God made you, youmust yield to your Maker and accept your Redeemer and be renewed by His Holy Spirit, or you are lost forever.
I pray God the Holy Spirit lead you to accept what God has revealed and bow yourself to the supreme majesty of His Word-especiallyto the power and grace of the Incarnate Word, the Lord Christ Jesus. Then will you have great peace for this world and thenext. God bless you, Beloved, for Christ's sake. Amen.