Sermon 2081. Truth Stranger Than Fiction
DELIVERED ON LORD'S DAY EVENING, MAY 30, 1886,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten." Joel 2:25.
LOST years can never be restored literally. Time once past is gone forever. Let no man make any mistake about this or triflewith the present moment under any notion that the flying hour will ever wing its way back to him. As well call back the northwind or fill again the emptied rain cloud, or put back into their quiver the arrows of the lord of day. As well bid the riverwhich has hastened onward to the sea bring back its rolling floods, as imagine that the years that have once gone can everbe restored to us. It will strike you at once that the locusts did not eat the years-the locusts ate the fruits of the years'labor-the harvests of the fields.
So the meaning of the restoration of the years must be the restoration of those fruits and of those harvests which the locustsconsumed. You cannot have back your time. But there is a strange and wonderful way in which God can give back to you the wastedblessings, the unripened fruits of years over which you mourned. The fruits of wasted years may yet be yours. It is a pitythat they should have been eaten by your folly and negligence. But if they have been so, be not hopeless concerning them."All things are possible to him that believes." There is a power which is beyond all things and can work great marvels.
Who can make the all-devouring locust restore his prey? No man, by wisdom or power, can recover what has been utterly destroyed.God alone can do for you what seems impossible. And here is the promise of His Grace-"I will restore to you the years thatthe locust has eaten." By giving to His repentant people larger harvests than the land could naturally yield, God could giveback to them, as it were, all they would have had if the locusts had never come. And God can restore your life which has upto now been blighted and eaten up with the locust and sin, by giving you Divine Grace in the present and in the future. Hecan yet make it complete and blessed and useful to His praise and glory. It is a great wonder-but Jehovah is a God of wondersand in the kingdom of His Grace miracles are common things.
We shall go into this subject, which I think will be very interesting to those here present who have wasted years to mournover, since they have up to now done nothing for God, nor even for themselves. The locust has eaten everything. The prospectof recovering the wreckage of a life must be full of interest to them.
I. I shall first speak upon locust-eaten years. YEARS WHICH THE LOCUST HAS EATEN-what sort of years are
First and darkest of all, there are the dead years of sin, of reprobation, impenitence and unbelief. Those years without Godand without Christ. Those years without life as to spiritual things! What a condition to be in! Oh, how many, many years havesome passed in this horrible state! We, all of us-those of us with whom God has dealt very graciously-always feel sorry thateven our most early days should have been spent in sin. I was brought to know the Lord when I was fifteen years of age andI have often said that I could wish I had known Him fifteen years before. Oh, that one could, from the very earliest openingsof one's eyes have seen the light of the Eternal!
Oh, that the first pulsing of life had been with Jesus! Oh, that the first flowing of the blood had been consecrated withthe life of God within the soul! But yet I fear there are very many to whom the idea of conversion in boyhood and youth seemsalmost too good to be true. They have now reached thirty, forty, fifty years of age, and are still unregenerate, unrenewed.I could weep over you! We frequently meet with people older, still, whose many years have all been graceless, locust-eatenyears. Ah me, how sad to be old and unsaved-feeble with age and yet without strength unto
Now remember. That eating of the locust-that devouring of everything by the caterpillars, meant a laborious year, becausethat year the people plowed and sowed and watched their crops, and their labor was all in vain. So, he that does
nothing for God and has no spiritual blessing, still has to work and to labor. None toil harder than those who are the slavesof lust, pleasure, self and Satan. These people often labor as in the very fire. The way of transgressors is hard. They haveto toil and slave and tug and strive. The yoke of the world is not easy and its burden is not light. And nothing comes ofit. This is the gall of the bitterness. One does not mind working when there is a good reward for it. But to plow and sowand then to reap nothing because the locust has eaten it! This is misery.
The wage sweetens the toil. But when the wage is death, the toil is horrible. Yet this is the way of unregenerate men-theyspend years in laborious rebellion and the harvest is not after their desire. They toil under the impulse of some strong desireand their desire perishes. They work, they slave-but nothing comes of it. It is a year of labor but it is labor in vain.
The locust year was particularly a year of great disappointment. The people looked for a harvest. In fact, they seemed tosee it spring up and then it was devoured before their eyes. Even so, the ungodly man-the man who has no faith in Christ-isoften charmed with the prospect of a happiness which he never reaches. A little more and he will be content. He gets a littlemore. And this increases his thirst for yet another draught from the golden cup. Run as we may when the heart shoots withits far-reaching bow, still the arrows are beyond us. The student must know a little more. The ambitious must climb a littlehigher upon the ladder of honor and then he will be at ease. He learns, he reaches the honor-but the ease is still as distantas ever-perhaps it is even further off.
Earth's cups, when they seem most sweet, only hold salt water which beget a growing thirst. We swallow the horseleech whenwe drain the chalice at the feasts of this world and an insatiable craving follows. The locust-eaten years of sin are yearsof labor and years of bitter disappointment.
And, alas, they are fruitless years. O Sirs, what have some of you ever done in this world? I heard of one who had made ahalf a million pounds of money and he died. A Christian man said, "Now, I call that man's life a dead failure. What has hedone? He has accumulated what he could not enjoy. He has scraped it together and he has made no use of it whatever." Suchpersons remind me of crows who will hoard, I know not what-all kinds of treasures and trash. And what do they do but hidethem in a hole behind the door? They cannot do anything with them. They have no sense to use them-whether they steal the abbot'sring or a bit of wire, it is all the same to them. And to misers what can be the difference between a thousand pounds or athousand pins, since they use neither? Alas, many have the power to get, but have not the faculty to use what they have gotten.Their years are eaten with the locust.
Think again-are there not numbers of men that are just living strainers of bread and meat and beer and that is all that youcan say of them? They go to and fro in the world but if they were tied neck and heels together and flung into the Atlanticnobody would miss them, except perhaps the poor wife and children who would be more comfortable without them than with them.I speak not too severely, for we meet with many such persons who are nature's blot-creation's blank. These are clouds withoutrain, wells without water-the wrapping and packing of what should have been useful lives. Why have they burdened the earthat all?
Others who are decent, respectable and quiet people-what does their whole life come to? It is like some of those sponge plantswhich appear very large when you have them in your hand but you can compress them into the tenth part of nothing. Are notmany mere blown-up appearances? It is a biggish sort of life-especially when the man himself describes it. But if it comesto the reality of it, the good that is done is nothing. God is not glorified, broken hearts are not healed, holiness is notextended-nothing is in the whole performance but the very reverse of what should have been. It is a drawback rather than anaddition to that which is good in the world.
What an awful thing for a man to have lived to be forty-five and to have done nothing! If we will not spare a fruitless treein the orchard, which, year after year has brought forth nothing-if we quite understand the justice of the verdict, "Cut itdown. Why cumbers it the ground?"-surely such a sharp sentence followed up by a swift blow of the axe, might go out againstmany here present! For up to now they have been wasters, cumberers, doing nothing worth the doing. The locust has eaten upevery year that they have plowed and sown. Nothing has come of the whole of their lives. Yet, listen to me-if you are ledby Divine Grace to confess your sin and turn unto the Lord your God and "rend your hearts and not your garments"-even to youGod can restore the years which the locust has eaten! I beseech you, hear this marvelous promise. And think of it and do notmiss it from want of effort.
Now, very briefly let me mention that there is another sense in which the text can be used. There are some whose years havebeen eaten by the locust through great sorrow, depression and disappointment. They remember those happy springtide days whenthey greatly rejoiced in God. But for some reason they dropped their confidence and lost their hope. Their sky was darkenedand the wintry winds of despair howled around them. I am grieved for dear friends on whom the chill of long depression hasfallen with terrible power. I frequently meet with these sons and daughters of melancholy and my sorrow is that I am so oftenunable to deal wisely with them.
It has been my privilege in many cases to be the bearer of comfort but in the very act my own soul has often been heavilyburdened. Very precious children of God may fall into the Slough of Doubt. Diamonds may be hidden away in dark mines. Someof God's rarest pearls lie deep in the dark waters. Now you that are thus losing year after year and sighing-
"Where is the blessedness I Anew When first I sa w the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view Of Jesus and His Word?"
do not lose all heart about it. Prisoners who have been confined till it almost seemed that the moss would grow on their eyelidshave yet been set free. Do not utterly despair, for here stands this gracious promise-"I will restore unto you the years whichthe locust has eaten." God can give you back all those years of sorrow and you shall yet be the better for them.
You shall have to thank God for all this sadness of heart. It is a strange story that I tell you. Perhaps you will not believeme tonight, but you shall live to see it true-God will grind sunlight for you out of your black nights-in the oven of afflictionDivine Grace will prepare the bread of delight. I said this to a friend with whom I have often conversed-an earnest Christianwoman who for three years had defied all attempts to comfort her. We had prayed with her. Her godly, gracious husband, a ministerof Christ, had laid out his heart to cheer her but she had refused to be comforted.
And yet to my great joy, the other day I received a letter saying, "The Lord has opened the gates of my dungeon. My captivityhas ended. And though I am sick in body, that does not matter, for I am restored in spirit." Yes, the Lord can loose the captivesand He does it. There are dear children of God who have been ten or twenty years the victims of despair to whom, nevertheless,this promise has, in the fullness of time, been sweetly fulfilled, "I will restore unto you the years which the locust haseaten."
And now, having given you those two versions of the text, let me give you another. I speak of those whose years have beenwasted by their being in a low state of Grace. Many Christians are barely Christians. We may not be judges of our Brethren.But if some professors are Christians, it is in a very small way. They remind me of the answer given by the American boy whenhe went to Sunday school and the teacher asked him, "Is your mother a Christian?" "Yes, Sir," he said, "she is a Christian.""Is your father a Christian?" The boy answered, "Well, Sir, he may be a Christian but he has not worked at it much lately."
We know quite a company of that kind-perhaps they fear the Lord but they have not worked at it much. Their religion has nopractical power over them. Salvation is not by works. But when a man is saved, then straightway he begins, by God's Grace,to work for the Lord. And therefore where nothing is done for Jesus we are apt to fear that nothing has been done by Jesus.There are talkers around us whose years are eaten up by the locust of idleness, the worm of worldliness, the worm of frivolousamusement. They seem to be like Hosea's "silly dove" without heart. I do not judge them-but I look at them with pitying wonder.How can they be content to be such useless things? How can they be satisfied to be so neutral, so double-minded, when allaround them the stern conflict rages?
I wish they would give us a little more evidence upon which to judge whether they are for us or for our enemies. They attenda place of worship. They come to a Prayer Meeting once in twelve months if any friend calls in and asks them to do so. Theyare glad that there is a Sunday school connected with the Church-they do not know what it is doing. They have never enteredit. They love their minister but do not contribute to his maintenance. They admire the Doctrines of Grace but never attemptto spread them. In fact they spend their time in diligently doing nothing and in quietly wearing the cloak of a professionwhich has nothing in it.
Well, now, dear Friend, this is a wretched kind of thing. If you are a Christian, be a Christian. Let your heart be warm towardsholy things or else let them alone. Cold meats are well enough but cold religion is the sickliest diet upon which a man canlive. Serve up religion hot, Sir, or not at all! If it grows lukewarm, neither God nor man will have it. For Jesus, who isboth God and Man, has said, "I will spit you out of My mouth." He cannot endure it, who is the most patient of all beings.
The years which the locust has eaten in some professors are far too many. And I would earnestly exhort any Brother or Sisterhere who has had the locusts at him for a long time-remember the promise stands, if you will avail yourself of it, "I willrestore unto you the years that the locust has eaten." It is high time that you saw to it, for your case is a bad one. Itis ill to be trading so ill, when a merchandise so precious as time is being lost.
Once more only, lest by these varied instances I should weary you. There are some in whom their years have been eaten up bythe locusts in a worse way than that of mere idleness, namely, by the sin of open backsliding. This is one of the plaguesof the Church of God. Alas, for the many who did run well but have suddenly stopped and run no longer in the Divine road!This is our frequent sorrow, even to heartbreak. We believe in the perseverance of the saints but many are not saints andtherefore do not persevere.
Nominal saints exhibit no final perseverance. Saints who have only the name of saints last but for a time and then die away.In too many, the life of God rather lingers, than grows-their religion is so very weak that they exhibit the signs of diseaserather than of health. They wander away from their Lord and Master because they do not sufficiently feel His attractive power.Oh, that the Lord would be gracious in restoring such wanderers! Do I address any who have almost given up attendance on themeans of Divine Grace? I know you have no comfort in such a course. I am sure, if you are a child of God, you cannot be happyin the world-you cannot be content while leaving Christ, but are in a miserable way.
Grace has spoiled you for the world and it is of no use your attempting to get comfort out of it. Your only hope of happinesslies Godward. You must come back. You must come back to the good old way. Do not linger, but return at once. Every hour thatyou linger the locusts are eating up every green and fruitful thing within your spirit-why give the Destroyer so much space?You are doing no good. You are getting no good. Why remain as you are? You are doing mischief. You are grieving the Spiritof God-wake up from so deplorable a state. You are not winning souls but you are ruining souls by your inconsistency.
God have mercy upon you! Come, and receive His restoring mercy. He will not cast you away but He bids me say to you that ifyou turn to Him according to the teaching of this chapter, He will yet restore to you the years that the locust has eaten.It is a great wonder. But you shall see it-if you will seek the Lord yet again. So much then about locust-eaten years, forI want to get at a happier subject.
II. What does God say? "I will restore unto you the years that the locust has eaten." This is our second head-
LOCUST-EATEN YEARS RESTORED.
Notice, this is Divine Work, "I will restore unto you the years that the locust has eaten." You cannot get them back. Nobodycan give them back to you. But the Omnipotent Jehovah says, "I will restore them to you." Can you believe that? All thingsare possible with God. Those dead years, those doleful years, those desponding years, those idle years, those backslidingyears-all the harvests of them, God can give them back to you. Look away from yourself and trust in the miracle-working Godwhile you hear this word of promise, "I will restore unto you the years which the locust has eaten."
But notice that this restoration follows upon a true and genuine repentance. Let me read the Words of the Lord to you andyou listen to them and obey. "Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn you even to Me with all your heart and with fastingand with weeping and with mourning: and rend your heart and not your garments and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is graciousand merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness and repents Him of the evil. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord,weep between the porch and the altar and let them say, Spare Your people, O Lord and give not Your heritage to reproach, thatthe heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealousfor His land and pity His people."
Repent, then. This is the great teaching and operation of the Gospel at its commencement upon the heart. "Repent and be baptizedeveryone of you," is its first cry from the wilderness. "Turn you every man from his evil ways." "Turn you, turn you, whywill you die, O house of Israel?" To go on in impenitence is to miss the blessing of my text. To go on
in spiritual deadness-to go on in backsliding-will never bring the restoration of lost years. But he that shall genuinelyconfess his sin-shall heartily hate it and shall turn unto God through Jesus Christ, trusting in the precious blood of Hisatonement-shall receive the unspeakably precious benediction of the Lord, the Restorer. Such a man shall plead this promisewith God and have it graciously fulfilled-"I will restore unto you the years that the locust has eaten." It is a very remarkablepromise but you see to whom it is given.
Yet linger a moment over this mystery of love. Picture the spirits of evil, year after year, bearing away from the fieldsof human life all their harvests. Where have they borne the precious products? Ask where has the fire carried the forestsit has devoured? Or where has the flood borne away the navies it has swallowed up? To call back these harvests would be atask which only madness could attempt. Fly, swift-winged angels! But you cannot overtake the spoilers-neither could your eyesof fire detect the caverns in which the robbers have stored their wealth. The fruits of wasted years are gone, gone past hope.Yet, behold, the Lord who called light out of darkness and will yet bring forth life from the tomb, declares that these long-lostspoils shall be restored!
And shall it not be done? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Does not the very difficulty, yes, impossibility of the enterprisemake it the more worthy of the Almighty? Here is a marvelous thing and here is, therefore, a work fit for Him who does greatmarvels. To him that believes all things are possible and this also is among the "all things." Never was a fairy tale morestrange, or a dream of Arabian nights more romantic. Yet here it stands in sober words and many a time in solid fact thesewords have been true. When we come into the region where the Lord works, we come at once into contact with miracles and walkin the midst of marvels. Then as we see Grace upon Divine Grace, we have to cry, "O world of wonders! I can say no less."
This promise is only fulfilled by the exceeding Grace of God. And it shall be my business for a minute to show you how theGrace of God works it out. We take, for instance, a man or a woman who has been living for many years in known sin. Thoseyears have all been wasted. How can God give us back the fruit of those wasted years? He can. He can. See that woman? Sheis a sinner, a common sinner of the town. She has spent her days and her nights in wantonness. She comes into the room wherethe Savior lies reclining at the dinner table and His feet are not far from the door. She bears a choice box of ointment.She has, besides that, eyes full of tears and she stands behind Him weeping.
She washes His feet with those tears. She loosens the luxuriant tresses of her head, those nets in which she had entangledmany a living soul and she bows down and wipes those feet which with her tears she washed. While she kisses them with herlips, she wipes them with her hair. Now, that woman, in that day, had through Grace restored to her the years which the locusthad eaten. Who shall dare to say that she stands second to anybody in the service of her Lord and Master? She loves much becauseshe has had much forgiven. And though I say not that the greatness of her sin could ever be an advantage, yet I do say thatthe greatness of her love that springs out of the greatness of her Lord's forgiveness did put her in the very front rank ofthose who served and loved Him.
She had been last but mighty Grace placed her among the first and she has never lost that leading position. And you, too,my Hearer, though you may have been so many years a sinner, can yet be so transformed as to overtake the saints. God can giveyou such a true repentance, such a burning love, such an enthusiastic consecration that during the rest of your days you shallmake up for all those wasted years. The prey shall be taken from the mighty-years seized by evil shall be dragged back fromthe devil's den. And all the memory and outcome of them transformed by the action of Divine Grace and gratitude shall be laidas treasure at your Redeemer's feet. By giving you a deeper love, a more tense passion, a fuller consecration on account ofthe greatness of your sin, the Lord can restore to you the years that the locust has eaten. Did Paul lose those years in whichhe was a persecutor and injurious? Did not his quickened pace and his deeper self-knowledge make all the after years of hislife ten times more full of power for good?
I will suppose the locust has eaten many years by your being in great sorrow-and I believe that the Lord can easily make upto you that grievous loss. The wear and fret of grief are very great but there is a remedy. Have I not seen some that havepassed through years of deep soul distress who have been all their lifetime much the better for it? They have been more ableto sympathize with poor, tried saints. They have had a truer, deeper, richer experience. And, as a rule, they have known theGospel of Christ better and they have had a more tender love to Him who brought them up out of the horrible pit and out ofthe miry clay.
Personally I have been much the gainer by my sad hours and my sick days. I reckoned those times lost in which I was unfitfor service. But I think I was in error-for I perceive that the fields which have lain fallow repay the unfertile season sevenfoldwhen the bearing time returns. Do not think, dear children of God, if you have been for years in despondency that it needturn out to be a total loss to you. It is a great evil and mischief. But God can restore to you the years that the locusthas eaten. Your ills may become wells of comfort for others. The Lord can bring so much good out of the evil, so much lightout of the darkness, so much joy out of the sorrow that you shall one day say, "I thank God that I was shut up in DoubtingCastle. I thank God I did sink in the deep mire where there was no standing for He has restored to me the years that the locusthas eaten."
And if, again, the locust has eaten up your years through your being cold and indifferent and idle, God can recover you fromthis sad mischief. He will grant you Divine Grace to repent bitterly of this great sin. For a great sin it is to lose a momentwhich should be used for Jesus. But yet, if the Lord shall visit you with an intense hatred of such idleness and sting youinto action and at the same time draw you by the cords of love into full consecration, you will, perhaps, by redoubled zeal,recover the lost seasons. Oh, that God would make it so with those who up to now have sadly loitered in the race! Oh, thatour smoldering logs would become flaming firebrands! Oh, that our sluggards could be aroused into enthusiasts!
I have known men living orderly and regular lives for many years and yet they have done nothing for their Lord. Such soberpeople move on and on and on and on. But they make little progress. Steady, steady, steady, steady, jog- trot-life has nofire in it for them and they know no reason for ardor. They never get out of breath with zeal. They never exhaust themselveswith excitement. They accomplish little from want of fire. I have known a great many Christians about whom I have never hadany fear of their being consumed by their vehemence. They are such proper people that even if the Lord Himself were to comethey would never cry "Hosanna!" in the street. They are never warmed into anything like enthusiasm-as soon hope to warm amarble statue.
These are the folks who, after a while, grow negligent and the locusts eat up the years of their regularity and all the gainsof their sobriety. I am sorry, indeed, to hear of a broken reputation, or a profession openly disgraced. But what a mercyit is when, even by this terrible means, dead professors are driven to turn to God with full purpose of heart! When these,who slept in all the chill propriety of spiritual death are aroused to seek the Lord penitently, we see no more of their dullcommonplace. If restored by a renewal of spiritual strength before they have openly declined into sin, the change is equallymanifest.
Now they must fly like the wind, though before they could only creep like the snail. They must do everything at a great heatwith all their heart and soul and strength. A month or so of such quickened, intense work full often effects more result thanyears of slow, feeble, formal routine. Oh, to live while we live! Once fully charged with the Divine Power we can achieveas much in a day as before we performed in a year! If you, as a preacher, come back to God and get the Holy Spirit to anointyou, one sermon preached in the power of the Holy Spirit will be worth ten thousand preached without it.
If you, as a worker, go to your Sunday school class with a Divine Anointing resting upon you, there will be more childrenbrought to Christ by a little of your living, loving, teaching than ever would have been by whole years of your unspiritualtalk. Thus the Lord God can, by His endowing us with greater power and firing us with fuller zeal restore to us the yearsthat the locust has eaten. The strong swimmer will soon recover the space through which he has drifted- when omnipotence isin every stroke the man is soon back to his right place, and before long he is ahead of where he would have been.
Do not invite the locusts to come, I pray you, in the hope of getting back that which they devour. No! No! No-a thousand timesNO! We do not want the locusts at all-we cannot endure sin, or doubt, or trifling. We want every year to be fruitful-fruitfulwith a hundred-fold increase. But if the evils have come, let us turn to God with penitence and faith and He can yet restoreto us the losses they have caused.
I think I said, also, that in certain cases the locust has eaten up much of the fruit of life through backslidings. Many arein this case. But if they will return from their backslidings, the Lord can give them back whatever they have lost. I haveknown persons backsliding very sorrowfully, very much to the grief of the Church. But God has visited them in Divine Graceand brought them back and they have been better men afterwards. Yes, I venture to say, even better men
than before they actually offended. I have not been thankful for their open offense. But I have been very thankful for theirrestoration and for the humility and other graces which have been the result of their bitter experience.
They used to be very top-lofty once, but now they carry no flags and banners. Such grand fellows they were! But after theirwandering, when they came back, they were willing to be in the rear rank and to do commonplace work. They were once very reserved-youcould not get near them. But now they value a kind word and return a loving salutation very gratefully. They are now morelike their Brethren and more willing to be on a level with them, and yet their religion is a great deal deeper and more sincere.They do not carry so much sail-but they have more cargo.
I have known some that, at first conversion, have not been very clear in the Gospel but who have been made evangelical bytheir discoveries of their own need of mercy. They could not spell the word "grace." They began with a "G" but they very soonwent on with an "F," till it spelt very much like "free will" before they had done with it. But after they have learned theirweaknesses-after they have fallen into serious fault and God has restored them-or after they have passed through deep depression,they have sung a new song. In the school of repentance they have learned to spell. They began to write the word "free," butthey went on from free, not to "will," but to "grace" and there it stood in capitals, "FREE GRACE."
By coming to know themselves they came also to understand what Divine Grace meant and they began to read their title writtenin the blood of Christ, instead of reading it in themselves. And they became clearer in their divinity and truer in theirfaith than ever they were before. I do not want you to know the locusts of backsliding but if they have ever come and youhave been eaten up by them, I pray that God may restore to you the years that the locust has eaten. I want you to lay holdof this promise and go home and plead with God that it may be fulfilled to you so that the rest of your life may be so brightand so clear, with the light of the Spirit of God, that as much as possible, you may make up for lost time. God grant thatyour desire may be fulfilled!
III. I have done when I have said just a word or two upon a third point. Here are locust-eaten years and here are those locust-eatenyears restored-and now, WHAT IS TO COME OF IT? If God restores to us the years that the locust has eaten, He has done a greatdeal for us. But notice that He is able to do more and will do it, for what does He say? He says, in the twenty-sixth verse,"And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that has dealt wondrously with you:and My people shall never be ashamed."
What a promise! You half-starved professors-you that are moping and mourning-who rise from the tables of the world unsatisfied-devouredwith a griping hunger! If you turn to God with full purpose of heart He will fill you with heavenly bread and give you asreal enjoyment as ever He gave to the best of His people. You, too, shall have your mouth satisfied with good things and youryouth shall be renewed like the eagle's. The Lord does nothing by halves-if He receives a prodigal back, He does not sendhim down into the kitchen to be fed with broken victuals-He receives him into the best parlor and puts on him the best robeand kills for him the fatted calf.
O you cast-down and troubled ones, you do not know how near you are to joy! O sad Hearts, the morning is breaking in the eastfor you! You are heavy tonight. And well you may be! You know your sin and that may well make you mourn. But ring the bellsof Heaven, the sinner is repenting! And if he turns with repentance to God, the richest joy, the choicest Covenant blessingsthat belong only to the chosen family shall be his portion at once! Is it not written, "You shall eat in plenty and shallbe satisfied and shall praise the name of the Lord"?
What shall come of it? Why this shall come of it-that you who have had the most to mourn over shall be among the loudest singers.You shall praise the name of the Lord your God that has dealt wondrously with you. You will cry, with tears running down yourcheeks, "Who is a God like unto You, passing by transgression, iniquity and sin?" I was a sinner up to the neck in filth.A despairing soul shut up in the blackest darkness. But He has washed me and He has brought me out into the light and puta new song into my mouth. He is a glorious God-this God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I pray you may haveintense enjoyment of His marvelous Grace and may pour forth your whole souls in His praise.
Next, you shall have most clear and sweet communion with God. Hear what the Prophet further says, "And you shall know thatI am in the midst of Israel and that I am the Lord your God and none else and My people shall never be ashamed." Wonderful!Wonderful that a far-off outcast sinner should know his Covenant God and should say, "He is my God," and should enter intofellowship with Him and should enjoy all the privileges of a friend of God. Wonderful that
all his fear should be gone and that he should, instead, be full of holy confidence and have a right to hold up his head andnever be ashamed! It shall be so, dear Hearer. True repentance shall bring rest to you. Only trust in the Lord Jesus Christand your fellowship shall be with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ henceforth and evermore.
And then, best of all, the anointing shall come upon you. You remember how the chapter goes on to say that God would pourout His spirit upon all flesh so that even the handmaiden and the servant, the very least of the people of God, should bemoved by the Spirit of God to speak in God's name and should be enabled to realize things which before had been deemed merevisions and dreams? I hope that the Lord has some here, at this hour, who did not know Him when they came within these walls,who, at this time, shall be called by His Grace and before long shall begin to tell to others what the Lord has done for them.
O Lord, find ministers among these miserable sinners! Raise up for yourself witnesses from among these careless youths! Ithink I see the angel even now, and hear the voice from off the Throne, crying, "Whom shall I send and who will go for Us?"Oh, that one of the seraphims might take from off the altar the live coal and touch some unclean lip and inflame some coldheart and make the purified man to answer, "Here am I, send me." Then shall you be sent to tell abroad the riches of the DivineGrace of which you have tasted-the freeness of the love which has been manifested to you. May the Lord grant it!
May the locusts all be blown away by a strong north wind and never darken the air again! May these wasted years all be givenback to you and may you become the Lord's living, loving servants from this time forth. Oh for the highest form of spirituallife! Oh for the greatest possible usefulness! Oh for grace to fill out our poor shriveled lives till they arrive at a heavenlyfullness! Oh for the sacred breath of God to fill out all the canvas of our capacity! Lord, the sail flaps. The boat scarcelymoves. We lie becalmed in indolence! Send us a breeze, my God! Grant us the wind of Your Spirit to fill out every sail thatby Your Grace we may fly over the waves. Amen.