Sermon 2055. The Trial of Your Faith
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, DECEMBER 2, 1888,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The trial of your faith." 1 Peter 1:7.
IT is a great thing if any man can truthfully speak to you, my Brothers and Sisters, about "your faith," for all men havenot faith and wherever faith is found, it is the token of Divine favor. True faith is, in every case, the operation of theSpirit of God. Its nature is purifying, elevating, heavenly. It is, of all things that can be cultivated in the human breast,one of the most precious. It is called, "like precious faith," and it is styled "the faith of God's elect." Wherever faithis found, it is the sure mark of eternal election, the sign of a blessed condition, the forecast of a heavenly destiny. Itis the eye of the renewed soul, the hand of the regenerated mind, the mouth of the newborn spirit. It is the evidence of spirituallife-it is the mainspring of holiness-it is the foundation of delight-it is the prophecy of glory-it is the dawn of endlessknowledge.
If you have faith, you have infinitely more than he who has all the world and yet is destitute of faith. To him that believesit is said, "All things are yours." Faith is the assurance of sonship, the pledge of inheritance, the grasp of boundless possession,the perception of the invisible. Within your faith there lies Glory, even as the oak sleeps within the acorn. If you havefaith, you need not ask for much more, save that your faith may grow exceedingly and that all the promises which are madeto it may be known and grasped by you. Time would fail me to tell of the powers, the privileges, the possessions and the prospectsof faith. He that has it is blessed. For he pleases God, he is justified before the throne of holiness, he has full accessto the Throne of Grace and he has the preparation for reigning with Christ forever.
So far everything is delightful. But then comes, in this word, which somewhat startles and, if we are cowardly, may also frighten-"Thetrial of your faith." Do you see the thorn which grows with this rose? You cannot gather the fragrant flower without its roughcompanion. You cannot possess the faith without experiencing the trial. Nor eat the lamb without the bitter herbs. These twothings are put together-faith and trial. And it is of that trial of your faith that I am going to speak at this time, as Godshall help me.
It may be, my Brothers and Sisters, that words said at this good hour shall comfort you while you undergo the sorer trialof your faith. May the Holy Spirit, who nurtures faith and preserves and perfects it under its trial, help our thoughts atthis hour!
I. And, first, let me say of it, YOUR FAITH WILL BE SURELY TRIED. You may rest assured of that. A man may have faith and befor the present without trial. But no man ever had faith and was all his life without trial. That could not-must not be. Forfaith, in the very nature of it, implies a degree of trial. I believe the promise of God. So far my faith is tried in believingthe promise, in waiting for the fulfillment of the promise, in holding on to an assurance of that promise while it is delayedand in continuing to expect the promise and to act upon it until it is in all points fulfilled to me.
I do not see how that can be faith at all which is not tried by its own exercise. Take the very happiest and smoothest lives.There must, at any rate, be the trial of faith in taking the promise and pleading it before God in prayer and expecting thefulfillment of it. Be not mistaken, God never gave us faith to play with. It is a sword but it was not made for presentationon a gala day, nor to be worn on State occasions only, nor to be exhibited upon a parade ground. It is a sword that was meantto cut and wound and slay. And he that has it girt about him may expect, between here and Heaven, that he shall know whatbattle means.
Faith is a sound sea-going vessel and was not meant to lie in dock and perish of dry rot. To whom God has given faith, itis as though one gave a lantern to his friend because he expected it to be dark on his way home. The very gift of faith isa hint to you that you will need it-that at certain points and places you will especially require it and that-at
all points and in every place, you will really need it. You cannot live without faith-for again and again we are told- "thejust shall live by faith." Believing is our living and we, therefore, need it always.
And if God gives you great faith, my dear Brethren, you must expect great trials. For, in proportion as your faith shall grow,you will have to do more and endure more. Little boats may keep close to shore, as becomes little boats. But if God makesyou a great vessel and loads you with a rich freight, He means that you should know what great billows are and should feeltheir fury till you see "His wonders in the deep." That God, who has made nothing in vain, especially makes nothing in thespiritual kingdom in vain. And if He makes faith, it is with the design that it should be used to the utmost and exercisedto the full.
Expect trial, also, because trial is the very element of faith. Faith is a salamander that lives in the fire, a star whichmoves in a lofty sphere, a diamond which bores its way through the rock. Faith without trial is like a diamond uncut, thebrilliance of which has never been seen. Untried faith is such little faith that some have thought it no faith at all. Whata fish would be without water, or a bird without air, that would be faith without trial. If you have faith, you may surelyexpect that your faith will be tested-the great Keeper of the treasures admits no coin to His coffers without testing.
It is so in the nature of faith and so in the order of its living-it thrives not, save in such weather as might seem to threatenits death. Indeed, it is the honor of faith to be tried. Shall any man say, "I have faith, but I have never had to believeunder difficulties"? Who knows whether you have any faith? Shall a man say, "I have great faith in God but I have never hadto use it in anything more than the ordinary affairs of life, where I could probably have done without it as well as withit"? Is this to the honor and praise of your faith? Do you think that such a faith as this will bring any great glory to God,or bring to you any great reward? If so, you are mightily mistaken.
He that has tested God and whom God has tested, is the man that shall have it said of him, "Well done, you good and faithfulservant." Had Abraham stopped in Ur of the Chaldees with his friends and rested there and enjoyed himself, where had beenhis faith? He had God's command to leave his country to go to a land which he had never seen, to sojourn there with God asa stranger, dwelling in tents. And in his obedience to that call his faith began to be illustrious. Where had been the gloryof his faith, if it had not been called to brave and self-denying deeds? Would he ever have risen to that supreme height,to be "the Father of the faithful," if he had not grown old and his body dead and yet he had believed that God would givehim seed of his aged wife Sarah, according to the promise? It was blessed faith that made him feel that nothing was impossibleto God. If Isaac had been born to him in the days of his strength, where had been his faith?
And when it came to that severer test, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and offer him for a burnt offeringupon one of the mountains which I will tell you of." When he rose up early and gathered the wood and took his son and wentthree days' journey, setting his face like a flint to obey the Command of God-when at last he drew the knife, in faithfulobedience to the Divine Command-then was his faith confessed, commended and crowned. Then the Lord said, "Now I know." Asif, even to God, the best evidence of Abraham's faith had then been displayed- when he staggered not at the promise throughunbelief, reckoning that God could restore Isaac from the dead if need be-but that it was his to obey the supreme Commandand trust all consequences with God, who could not lie.
Herein his faith won great renown and he became "the Father of the faithful," because he was the most tried of Believers andyet surpassed them all in childlike belief in his God. If God, then, has given to anyone of us a faith which is honorableand precious it has full surely been submitted to its own due measure of trial. And if it is to be still more precious, ithas yet more trials to endure.
We remember, also, two reasons for the trial of faith. The trial of your faith is sent to prove its sincerity. If it willnot stand trial, what is the good of it? That gold which dissolves in the furnace and disappears amid the flame is not thegold which shall be current with the merchant. And that faith of yours, which is no sooner tried than straightway it evaporates,are you not well rid of it? Of what use would it be to you in the hour of death and in the Day of Judgment? No. You can notbe sure that your faith is true faith till it is tried faith. You can not be certain that it is worth having till it has beenfitly tested and brought to the touchstone of trial.
It must also be tested to prove its strength. We sometimes fancy that we have strong faith when, indeed, our faith is veryweak. And how are we to know whether it is weak or strong till it is tried? A man that should lie in bed week after week andperhaps get the idle whim into his head that he was very strong would be pretty certain to be mistaken. It is only when hesets about work requiring muscular strength that he will discover how strong or how weak he is. God would not have us forma wrong estimate of ourselves. He loves not that we should say that we are rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing
when we are the reverse. And therefore He sends to us the trial of our faith that we may understand how strong or how weakit is.
And besides that, dear Friends, the trial of our faith is necessary to remove its dross. There are many accretions of sordidmatter about our purest graces. We are apt, ourselves, to add to the bulk of our graces without adding to the real value ofthem. We mistake quantity for quality. And a great deal of what we think we have of Christian experience and Christian knowledgeand Christian zeal and Christian patience is only the supposition that we have these graces and not the real possession ofthem.
So the fire grows fiercer and the mass grows smaller than it was before. Is there any loss therein? I think not. The goldloses nothing by the removal of its dross and our faith loses nothing by the dissipation of its apparent force. Faith mayapparently lose, but it actually gains. It may seem to be diminished, but it is not truly diminished. All is there that wasworth having. "Why, a week ago," says one, "I used to sing and think that I had the full assurance of faith. And now I canscarcely tell whether I am one of God's people or not." Now you know how much faith you really possess.
You can now tell how much was solid and how much was sham. For had that which has failed you been real faith, it would nothave been consumed by any trial through which it has passed. You have lost the froth from the top of the cup but all thatwas really worth having is still there. It must be so-for as faith is not born of earthly things-neither can earthly thingskill it, nor even take from it one true particle.
Understand, then, dear Friends, that for many necessary purposes there is a needs be for trial. Peter says here, "If needbe" that there should be a trial of your faith. You will get that trial, because God, in His wisdom, will give faith whatfaith needs. Do not be anxious to enter into trial. Do not fret if temptation does not come just now. You will have it soonenough. Between the day of our new birth and the day of our entering into our inheritance, we shall have quite sufficienttrials of our faith. We need not be uneasy if for a while we are at ease, for there are months enough left to the year togive winter its full measure of frosts and storms.
II. Now, secondly, YOUR FAITH WILL BE TRIED IN VARIOUS WAYS. The trial of our faith does not come to all persons in the sameway. There are some whose faith is tried each day in their communion with God. They pray this prayer- "Search me, O God andknow my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there is any wicked way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting."That prayer is heard constantly. The visitations of the Lord are granted to them and as the Lord comes, He tries them. For,believe me, there is no surer trial of our souls than the drawing near of God to our souls.
Apart from any outward affliction, that searching thought, that inward feeling which is somewhat more than thought, that holy,secret trembling which comes upon our spirit when God draws near, is God's constant trial of our graces. If you walk awayfrom God and live without fellowship with Him, you may retain in your heart much falsehood and fancy that you are full ofspiritual gifts and graces. But if you draw near to God and walk with Him, you will not be able to retain a false opinionof yourself. Remember what the Lord is. Our God is a consuming fire.
I have often reminded you of the way in which people try to improve upon the Scripture when they say, "God out of Christ isa consuming fire." The Bible does not so speak. It says, "For our God is a consuming fire." That is, God in Christ, who isour God, is a consuming fire. And when His people live in Him, the very Presence of God consumes in them their love of sinand all their pretentious graces and fictitious attainments so that the false disappears and only the true survives. The presenceof perfect Holiness is killing to empty boastings and hollow pretences. You need not ask for any of those various forms oftrial which God sends in the order of Providence-you may rest quite satisfied with His Presence, as the most effectual purgation.For "His fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His floor."
Whenever Jesus abides with us, "He shall sit as a refiner." Whoever He may leave alone in their defilement, "He will purifythe sons of Levi." It is the Lord Himself that will be as a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. Who may abide the day ofHis coming? Who that loves holiness would wish to escape it? Our prayer should be-"Refining fire go through my soul." Yes,let the devouring flame go through me and through me yet again, till this earthly grossness shall begin to disappear. As Mosessoon put his shoes off from his feet when he beheld God at the burning bush, so shall we put off the superfluities of oursupposed spiritual experience and come to the real, naked foot of the Truth of God, if we are permitted to stand before Godin accepted sincerity. Thus you see there is a constant trial of our faith, even in that which is its greatest joy and glory,namely its power to make us see the Lord.
But the Lord uses other methods with His servants. I believe that He frequently tries us by the blessings which He sends us.This is a fact which is too much overlooked. When a man is permitted to grow rich, what a trial of faith is hidden away inthat condition! It is one of the severest of providential tests! Where I have known one man fail through poverty, I have knownfifty
men fail through riches. When our friends get on in the world and have a long stretch of prosperity, they should invite theirBrethren to offer special prayer for them, that they may be preserved-for the thick clay is heavy stuff to walk upon and whenthe feet slip into it, and it adheres to you, it makes traveling to Heaven a very difficult thing.
When we do not cling to wealth, it will not harm us. But there is a deal of stickiness in money. You that have no riches mayyet find a test in your daily mercies-your domestic comfort, that loving wife, those dear children-all these may tempt youto walk by sight instead of by faith. Yes, and continued health, the absence of all depression of spirit and the long abidingof friends and relatives may all make you self-content and keep you away from your God.
It is a great trial of faith to have much for sight to rest upon. To be in the dark-altogether in the dark-is a grand thingfor faith. For then you are sure that what you see is not seen of the flesh but is in very deed a vision of spiritual faith.To be under a cloud is a trial, truly-but not one-half so much a trial as it is to have continually the light of this world.We are so apt to mistake the light of carnal comfort for the light of God, that it is well to see how we fare without it.
One form of this trial is praise. You know how Solomon puts it-"As the fining-pot for silver and the furnace for gold, sois a man to his praise." A Christian minister may go on preaching very earnestly and God will help him, though everybody opposeshim. But when the world comes and pats him on the back and pride whispers, "You are a fine fellow. You are a great man!" Thencomes the test of the man. How few there are that can endure the warm atmosphere of congratulation! It is dangerously relaxingto the spirit. Yes, nobody can keep himself right under it, unless the almighty Grace of God shall sustain his
When the soft winds blow they bring with them the temptation, "Now preach the doctrines that tickle men's ears!" "Go in tobe scientific and learned and clever! Get the approbation of the great ones of the world and the leaders of advanced thoughtin the Church." And unless you say, "Get you behind me, Satan: for you savor not the things that are of God," such a trialof faith may be too much for you. "Oh," says one, "that will not fall to my lot." No, no. You will not be a popular preacher,perhaps. But then, you may be very acceptable in the company wherein you move and worldly people may flatter you to the vergeof ruin.
You sing very nicely, do you not? Well, they may want you to sing them a song that is not one of the songs of Zion. Becauseof your natural attainments and the amiability of your temper, you may become a great favorite with ungodly people. And thatis an intense trial to the faith of a child of God. The friendship of the world is as much enmity with God as it used to bein Apostolic times. It is a bad sign when a courtier is in great favor with the king's enemies. Stand up and stand out asthe servant of God and in whatever sphere you move, make it your one and only business to serve your God, whether you offendor please. Happy shall you be if you survive the trial of your faith which this will involve!
Another trial of faith is exceedingly common and perilous nowadays and that is heretical doctrine and false teaching. Thereare some who are carried away with this wind of doctrine and others carried away with the other-and blessed is he who is notoffended in Christ. For, naturally, the Cross of Christ is offensive to the minds of men. There are temptations that riseout of the Gospel itself, yes, out of its very depth and breadth. There is a trial of faith in reading the Scriptures. Youcome across a doctrine which you cannot understand and because you cannot understand it, you are tempted not to receive it.Or, when a Truth which you have received appears to be hard and speaks to you in an unlovely fashion, so that your naturalfeelings are aroused against it-this is a trial of your faith.
Remember how our Lord Jesus lost quite a company of disciples on a certain occasion. He had taught a doctrine about eatingHis flesh and drinking His blood. And from that hour many went back and walked no more with Him, till the Savior had to say,even to the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Truth is not always welcome to our ignorance-or to our preju-dice-and hereinis a trial of faith. Will we believe ourselves or our God? Do we want to believe God's Truth, or do we wish to have the Lord'smessage flavored to our taste? Do we expect the preacher to play our chosen tunes and speak our opinions?
Beloved, it does us good to be well rasped sometimes. To have a word come to us, not as a sweet wine but as a purging medicinethat shall search us through and through and make us enquire before God, "Are we true men, or are we aliens?" If we run inthe same line with God's Truth, we are true. But when we run counter to the Truth of God, we are ourselves untrue. It is notthe Book that is to be altered-our hearts need altering. Happy is that man whose faith can endure the trial of the Book. "Isnot the Word of the Lord like a fire or a hammer?" This is so even to the Lord's own people.
But the trial of our faith usually comes in the form of affliction. Our jealous Lover uses tests that it may be seen whetherhe has our heart. The trial of your faith comes thus-You say, "Lord Jesus, I love you. You are my best Beloved." "Well," saysthe heavenly Lover, "if it is so, then the child that nestles in your bosom will sicken and die. What will you say then?"If
you are indeed true in what you have stated concerning your supreme love to Jesus, you will give up your darling at His calland say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord."
The Lord is very jealous of our love. I do not mean that He is so towards all of you-I speak of His own people. The more Heloves us, the more He tests us. Whatever it may be with us poor creatures, it is always so with Jesus, that His love goeswith His jealousy and His jealousy with His love. Sometimes He says, "Good woman, I shall take away your husband, on whomyou lean, that you may lean the more on Me." I remember Mr. Rutherford, writing to a lady who had lost five children and herhusband, said to her, "Oh, how Christ must love you! He would take every bit of your heart to Himself. He would not permityou to reserve any of your soul for any earthly thing." Can we stand that test? Can we let all go for His sake? Do you answerthat you can? Time will show.
My Lord sometimes comes to me in this fashion. He says, "I have made you to trust Me these many years. I have supplied thewants of your work by liberal friends. I am about to remove a generous helper." I go to the grave of my friend and the suggestiondogs me, "Who is to provide for the Orphanage and the College, after other dear Friends are buried? Can you trust God then?"Blessed be the name of the Lord, this fiery trial has never even left the smell of fire upon me. I know whom I have believed.
Then a dear Brother, our best worker, our heartiest helper, comes to me and says, "Goodbye, dear Pastor. Perhaps I may neversee you again on earth." He is very ill and about to lie under the surgeon's knife and the fear is that he may not rally.I go home and say to myself, "What shall I do without this useful man?" And then I have to say, "Do? Do what I have done before-trustin the living God." If you once get to walk the walk of faith, the Lord will often try you in this way, to see whether youcome up to your own confession-whether you really trust in the Lord and have your expectation from Him alone. Can you trulysay-
"Yes, should You take them all away, Yet would I not repine"?
If every earthly prop were knocked away, could you stand by the lone power of your foundation? God may not send you this orthat trial but He will send you a sufficient amount of trials to let you see whether your faith is truth or talk, whetheryou have truly entered the spiritual world, or have only dreamed of doing so. Believe me, there is a great difference betweena diamond and a paste gem. So, you see, the trials of faith are very varied.
III. In the third place, YOUR FAITH WILL BE TRIED INDIVIDUALLY. The text says, the trial of your faith. O dear Friend, itis an interesting subject, is it not, the trial of faith? It is not quite so pleasant to study alone the trial of your faith.It is stern work when it comes to be your trial and the trial of your faith. You have not gone much into that particular department,perhaps. Well, I say again, do not wish to do so. Do not ask for trials. Children must not ask to be whipped, nor saints prayto be tested. There is a little book which you will have to eat and it will be bitter in your mouth, but sweet in your stomach-thatbook is the trial of your faith.
The Lord Jesus Christ has been glorified by the trial of His people's faith. He has to be glorified by the trial of your faith.You are very obscure, perhaps, dear Brother. You have but few talents, my dear Sister. But, nevertheless, there is a particularshape and form of trial that will have to be exercised upon you rather than upon anyone else. "Oh," say you, "I know it, Sir.I know it." Well, then, if you know it, do not complain of it. Because when you have your own trial and the trial of yourown faith, you are only treated like the rest of the family. What son is there whom the father chastens not?
You are only treated like the Head of the family. You are only treated in the way which the great Father of the family knowsis necessary for us all. God had one Son without sin but He never had a son without trial and He never will have until Hehas taken us all Home out of this world. Why should we expect that God should deal better with us than He does with the restof His chosen? Indeed, it would not be better, after all, because these trials are the means of working out our lasting good.But if it were not so, who am I, and who are you, that God should pamper us?
Would we have Him put us in a glass case and shield us from the trials which are common to all the chosen seed? I ask no suchportion. Let me fare as the saints fare. I only wish to have their bread and their water and love their Father and followtheir Guide and find their home. We will take our meals with them, whatever God puts upon the table for them, will we not?The trial of our faith will be all our own and yet it will be in fellowship with all the family of grace.
IV. YOUR FAITH WILL BE TRIED SEARCHINGLY. It will be no child's play to come under the Divine tests. Our faith is not merelyjingled on the counter like the shilling which the tradesman suspects but it is tried with fire. For so it is written, "Ihave chosen you in the furnace of affliction." The blows of the trial of tribulation are not given in sport but in awful earnest,as some of us know who have been chastened sorely, almost unto death. The Lord tries the very life of our faith.
Not its beauty and its strength alone but its very existence. The iron enters into the soul. The sharp medicine searches theinmost parts of the belly. The man's real self is made to endure the trial. It is easy to talk of being tried but it is byno means so simple a matter to endure the ordeal.
V. Let me yet further observe, that YOUR FAITH WILL BE TRIED FOR AN ABUNDANTLY USEFUL PURPOSE.
The trial of your faith will increase, develop, deepen and strengthen it. "Oh," you have said, "I wish I had more faith."Your prayer will be heard through your having more trial.
Often in our prayers we have sought for a stronger faith to look within the veil. The way to stronger faith usually lies alongthe rough pathway of sorrow. Only as faith is contested, will faith be confirmed. I do not know whether my experience is thatof all God's people. But I am afraid that all the Divine Grace that I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happyhours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows and pains and griefs, is altogetherincalculable. What do I not owe to the hammer and the anvil, the fire and the file? What do I not owe to the crucible andthe furnace, the bellows that have blown up the coals and the hand which has thrust me into the heat?
Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister's library. We may wisely rejoice intribulation because it works patience, and patience, experience, and experience, hope. And by that way we are exceedinglyenriched and our faith grows strong.
The trial of our faith is useful, not only because it strengthens it but because it leads to a discovery of our faith to ourselves.I notice an old Puritan using this illustration. He says you shall go into a wood when you please but if you are very quiet,you will not know whether there is a partridge, or a pheasant, or a rabbit in it. But when you begin to move about, or makea noise, you very soon see the living creatures. They rise or they run. So, when affliction comes into the soul and makesa disturbance and breaks our peace, up rise our graces. Faith comes out of its hiding and love leaps from its secret place.
I remember Mr. William Jay saying that birds' nests are hard to find in summertime but anyone could find a bird's nest inwinter. When all the leaves are off the trees the nests are visible to all. Often in the days of our prosperity, we fail tofind our faith. But when our adversity comes, the winter of our trial bares the boughs and we see our faith at once. We aresure that we believe now, for we feel the effect of faith upon our character. "Before I was afflicted I went astray," saidDavid, "but now have I kept Your Word." He found that his faith was really there by his keeping God's Word in the time ofhis affliction. It is a great mercy, then, to have your faith tried, that you may be sure beyond all manner of question thatyou are a true Believer.
Besides, when faith is tried it brings God glory. Oh, how it honors God when a man can say with a smiling face in prospectof death, "Good-bye, dear Sir, I may never see you here again but we shall meet above!" We who are in health envy the Brotherwho has such joy amid sharp pain. I went the other day to see a dear Brother who has since then gone above. He was swollenwith dropsy and was close to the brink of the grave. But to hear the song of assurance and the utterances of his joy was mostsweet and cheering. It made me feel how good God is to His servants. He never leaves nor forsakes them when they come to theirmost painful times.
This trial of our faith does good to our fellow Christians. They see how we are supported and they learn to bear their troublesbravely. I do not know anything that is better for making us brave than to see others believe in Christ and bear up manfully.To see that blind saint so happy makes us ashamed to be sad. To see content in an inmate of the work-house compels us to bethankful. Sufferers are our tutors. They educate us for the skies. When men of God can suffer-when they can bear poverty,bereavement or sickness and still rejoice in God-we learn the way to live the higher and more Christ-like life.
When Patrick Hamilton had been burned in Scotland, one said to his persecutors, "If you are going to burn any more, you hadbetter do it in a cellar, for the smoke of Hamilton's burning has opened the eyes of hundreds." It was always so. Sufferingsaints are living seed. Oh, that God might help us to such faith that when we come to suffer in life, or to expire in death,we may so glorify God that others may believe in Him! May we preach sermons by our faith which shall be better than sermonsin words.
My time has gone and I have much to say to you. I wanted to say to you about the trial of your faith, dear Friends, that SOMEARE TRIED VERY SPECIALLY. Some endure many more tests than others and that is because God has a great favor to them. Manymen God does not love well enough to whip them. They are the devil's children and the heavenly Father does not trouble them.They are none of His and so He lets them have a happy life and perhaps an easy death-"there are no bands in their death, buttheir strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men."
But they are to be pitied and not envied. Woe unto you that laugh now, for you shall weep! Woe unto you who have your portionin this life for it shall go ill with you in the world to come! God's children are often much chastened because they are
much loved. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Men take most trouble with that which is most precious. A common pebblewill be let alone but a diamond must be fretted on the wheel till its brilliance is displayed.
Some persons are also much tried in their faith because they are very fit for it. God has fitted the back for a heavy burdenand the burden will be sent. He has constituted them on purpose that they should be helpful in filling up "that which is behindof the afflictions of Christ, for His body's sake, which is the Church." Men build strong columns because they are meant tocarry great weights. So God makes great Christians on purpose that they should bear great afflictions for His Glory.
He does this also because He would have some men do Him a special service. What an honor it is to do the Lord a special service!When some man in our army behaves himself very grandly and wins a battle, what will her Majesty do? Why, she will send forhim next time a war arises. If any of you are brave in bearing affliction, you shall have the honor of enduring more affliction.Does not every soldier court the opportunity of service? He that looks over his soldiers says of a certain one, "I shall notsend him-he is feeble and faint-hearted. Yonder veteran is the man for me."
Do not think that you would be honored by being allowed to ride to Heaven on a feather bed. True honor lies in being permittedto bear and suffer side by side with Him of the bloody sweat and of the five open wounds. This is the reward of the saints-thatthey should on earth be decorated with-
"Many a sorrow, many a tear." They shall walk with their Lord in white, for they are worthy.
Yes, dear Friends, the Lord often sends us greater trials than others because He means to qualify us for greater enjoyments.If you want to make a pool capable of holding more water, you dig it out, do you not? And many a man has been dug and enlargedby affliction. The enlargements of trial enable us to hold more Divine Grace and more glory. The more a gracious man suffers,the more he becomes capable of entering into fellowship with Christ in His sufferings and so into fellowship with Christ inHis Glory by-and-by.
Come, let us be comforted as to the trial of our faith. There is no hurt in it. It is all for good. The trial of our faithis entirely in the hands of God. Nobody can try us without God's permission. He will try us just as much as we ought to betried and no more. While He tries us with one hand He will sustain us with the other. If He gives us bitters, He will giveus sweets in full proportion. A dear Sister said to me this week, "When I used to be in poverty and in trouble, the Word ofGod was much more sweet to me than it is now that I am prospered."
I do not wonder at it. I have made a similar remark when I have been long without an illness. Some of us have cried, "Takeme back to my sickness again. Take me back to slander and rebuke again." A Scotch saint said that when they met in the moss,or by the hillside, and were harried by Claverhouse and his dragoons, Christ was present at the sacraments in the heathermuch more than He ever was afterwards when they got into their Church and sat down quietly. Our worst days are often our bestdays and in the dark we see stars that we never saw in the light. So we will not care a pin what it is that may befall ushere, so long as God is with us and our faith in Him is genuine.
Christian people, I am not going to sympathize with you but congratulate you upon your troubles, for the Cross of Christ isprecious. But you that do not love my Lord and Master, if you roll in riches, if your eyes stand out with fatness, I mournover you. Bullocks fattened for the slaughter, your joys are but the prelude to your woes. Oh, that God would have mercy uponyou and that you would have mercy upon yourselves and flee at once to Jesus and put your trust in Him! Faith in the work,offices and Person of the Lord Jesus is the way of salvation. May He help you to run in it at this hour, for His name's sake!Amen.
LETTER FROM MR. SPURGEON.
DEAR FRIENDS-In answer to a general desire that I should let my beloved Readers know of my condition, I will write a lineor two each week. Owing to extreme weakness it has taken me the whole week to reach my sunny retreat but at each stage I havefound myself a little better and I can now walk a little-a very little. Yet for this I am deeply grateful to Him "who restoresour life." I hope, by rest in this genial climate, to recover tone, strength and freshness of mind and then I trust all willbe spent, in future days, for God's glory.
Through the blessing of God upon the labors of Messrs. Fullerton and Smith a cheering work is going on at the Tabernacle.I beg my readers to pray that the Lord may be glorified among the people in the absence of the usual worker and that the printedsermons may speak with power when the preacher himself is silent. Yours, dear Friends, in Christ Jesus, C. H. Spurgeon.
Mentone, Nov. 24, 1888.