Sermon 2168. The Test of Taste




"If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." 1 Peter 2:3.

I THINK there can be very little doubt that Peter is here quoting from Psalm 34:8: "O taste and see that the LORD is good." As I read you the chapter just now, I could not help observing the constant tracesof Old Testament language. It endears Peter to us when we see how he prizes the ancient Word of the Lord and, at the sametime, it puts honor upon the Old Testament itself when we see the Holy Spirit in the New thus quoting from the Old. It isnoteworthy that in Psalm 34:8 the Lord God is spoken of. The passage actually runs-"O taste and see that Jehovah is good" and Peter does not hesitate fora moment to apply the passage to the Lord Jesus. The word, "Lord," is here used in its utmost fullness of meaning as the equivalentfor Jehovah and it is applied to our Savior Jesus Christ.

That Peter is here speaking of Jesus we are sure from the context: "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeedof men, but chosen of God, and precious." The chosen foundation stone is, beyond question, the Lord Jesus and Peter uses wordsconcerning Him which were written by Inspiration concerning Jehovah Himself. Evidently to Peter the Lord Jesus was Lord andGod. He remembered the voice which he heard in the holy mount, when he was an eyewitness of His majesty: "For He receivedfrom God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent Glory, This is My Beloved Son,in whom I am well pleased."

Let us continually pay Divine honor to our Lord Jesus Christ! If He is not God, our faith is vain and our hope is gone. ButHis Deity is no cunningly devised fable. His own works, as well as the Holy Scriptures, attest to His Godhead-the whole Churchof Christ believes in Him as very God of very God and on this Rock we build our everlasting confidence. Peter had specialknowledge of His Lord, for you remember that on one occasion he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. AndJesus answered and said unto him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, butMy Father which is in Heaven" (Matt. 16:17).

The Father had manifested the Lord unto him as His only-begotten Son. We little wonder that he speaks of tasting that THELORD is gracious, for by Revelation he was made to know and understand to a very high degree the Glory and Majesty of theIncarnate Son of God. That he should speak of His graciousness is also very natural, for he had himself tasted of His DivineGrace. This same Peter had denied his Master with oaths and curses and when, after his Lord was risen, he sent a message tohim by Magdalene-then he tasted that the Lord is gracious. Afterwards, when the Lord met him by the sea and put the questionto him three times, "Do you love Me?" He betokened perfect reconciliation and Peter knew, then, that he was wholly pardonedand completely restored. By Jesus giving Peter, His once false disciple, the charge to feed His sheep and lambs, then Petertruly "tasted that the Lord is gracious."

When Peter was made so useful at Pentecost, was made to work miracles, was released by an angel from prison and on many otheroccasions, Peter tasted "that the Lord is gracious." It was Peter who used those explicit words concerning the SubstitutionarySacrifice of our Lord Jesus, "Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree," for right well had he beheld theLord Jesus as full of Grace and Truth and in his own personal experience he had tasted that the Lord is gracious. Taking thesewords out of the mouth of Peter, I shall ask you, my Brothers and Sisters, "Have you tasted that the Lord is gracious?" Thereis no doubt what is insinuated by Peter's use of the word, "if-for he believed that those to whom he wrote had feasted uponthe love of the Lord Jesus.

Assuredly I would suggest no doubt concerning my Brethren by the use of the same words, yet I would put you upon a searchto make assurance doubly sure. Dear Friends, have you tasted that the Lord is gracious? Is this fact past conjecture? Canyou say positively, "We know in our own hearts the Grace of our Lord Jesus"? To help you to a happy conclusion, I purposeto handle my text in the following manner. First, here is a royal dainty- "The Lord is gracious."

Here is, secondly, a special sense, namely, taste-"If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." Then, thirdly, weshall ask a searching question-Have we tasted that the Lord is gracious? Oh, for Divine Grace to answer truthfully! In thelast place, we shall consider a series of practical inferences. If so be we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, then suchand such things follow. Throughout the whole discourse may the Spirit of the Lord rest upon us!

I. First, then, here is A ROYAL DAINTY-"The Lord is gracious." Jesus is full of Divine Grace. Jesus flavors the mouth withGrace when we feed upon Him. In Him is Grace which can be tasted by us while here below. Once tasted, this Grace is remembered.Let me remind you that the Lord is gracious in His Person, Nature and Character. He would never have been Immanuel, God withus, if He had not been gracious. What brought Him from above to take upon Him our frail humanity? What held Him here whileHe endured "such contradiction of sinners against Himself? What but His natural and innate graciousness as "the Only-Begottenof the Father, full of Grace and truth"?

What did He here that was not gracious? Was He not always feeding the hungry, healing the sick, teaching the ignorant, comfortingthe mourners, or raising the dead? If you read His life-take which you will of the four Evangelists-you cannot help feelingthat you have beheld the face of One who was altogether love, goodness, graciousness. "He went about doing good." From Hislips poured gracious words and from His hands streamed gracious deeds. Our precious Christ is gracious both as God and Man-graciousin His tone and manner and spirit. He is gracious in every office. He is gracious to all sorts and conditions of men. He isgracious in the promise of His coming and gracious in delaying it-that by His longsuffering men may be saved. The Lord isgood-blessed are all they that put their trust in Him!

We know that our Lord Jesus is gracious by Nature. But, Beloved, we have found Him exceedingly gracious in the manner of dispensingHis salvation. He is most free, spontaneous and generous in His gifts of Grace. He needs not to be prompted or persuaded inorder to make Him gracious. We do not drag Grace from Him as from an unwilling giver, but He delights to bestow His mercy,for the Lord is essentially gracious. Remember His great love whereby He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses andsins. "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." When we were His enemies, He reconciledus to God by His blood. And when we had neither thought nor wish to come to Him for salvation, He came to us with salvation.

Many of us are living trophies of His conquering Grace-Grace unsought and utterly undeserved. "Herein is love, not that weloved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son to be the Propitiation for our sins." Though we now love the Lord our God,we cheerfully confess that "we love Him because He first loved us." When we lay polluted in our blood-cast out and ready toperish-it was with Him a time of love. And He passed by and said to us, "Live," and we did live through His eternal Word ofLife. He began to deal with us when we had no dealings with Him. Remember His coming to the grave's mouth when we lay wrappedin the grave clothes of trespasses and sins and were, like Lazarus, even beginning to stink. He came and by His mighty VoiceHe called us forth and we arose to newness of life! Gracious, indeed, is He who, in the freeness and sovereignty of His Grace,is found of them that sought Him not and is made manifest unto them that asked not after Him.

Beloved, as we know He is gracious by Nature and gracious in manner, so is He gracious in His gifts. How gracious was He whenHe gave Himself for us! This was a gift unspeakable. What priceless gifts follow! He gave us pardon and life. He took us frombeneath the gallows and lifted us up to justification and acceptance. God-condemned and self-condemned, we stood shiveringbetween the jaws of doom and then did Jesus come and speak our pardon-perfect, clear and irreversible-sealed with His ownblood and spoken by His own Word. He gave us His pierced hands in token that we were accepted in the Beloved. Beloved, youknow all about this, but I would stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.

The Lord is gracious in blotting out our sins. Once we had not obtained mercy, but now we have. Because He is gracious Hehas put us among the children by the gift of adoption and has made provision for us as members of His family. We are clothedwith His everlasting righteousness, nourished upon the Bread of Heaven. We are led and taught, and trained by His wisdom.We are preserved, sanctified and prepared for the mansions of Glory by the power of His Holy Spirit. Oh, the gifts that Hebestows upon worthless good-for-nothings like ourselves! Where sin abounded, Grace does much more abound. Oh, the wondersof love! Truly the Lord is gracious!

Since we have come to know our Lord, how gracious have we found Him to be! "He gives more Grace." No word can express allthat Jesus has been to us, but this word, "gracious," goes some way towards it. We have had many inward struggles and conflictsand much we have needed Divine Grace and as our need such has been our supply. It has sometimes gone hard with us, my Brothersand Sisters, while pressing on to God. But whenever we have been ready to slip with our feet, the Lord has held us up, forHis mercy endures forever. Yes, and when we have stumbled, He has set us on our feet again, for He is always gracious. WhenHe might have chided us sharply, yes, and might have laid on the rod, yet has He sweetly smiled and reminded us of His greatlove and restored us by His graciousness.

We have been full of faults, but He has removed them, all for He is gracious. We have been full of wounds, but He has healedthem by His own stripes. We have been full of wanderings, but He has brought us again to His fold. Even now, sitting in thishouse, some of us feel ourselves to be the most unworthy creatures out of Hell-and yet we know that Jesus is ours and we areHis. We cannot but cry out, "Depths of mercy!" We are the chief of sinners and yet in the matter of obtaining Divine Gracewe are not behind any of His saints. We are both vile and precious-black as the tents of Kedar-and fair as the curtains ofSolomon. Oh, the wonders of Free Grace, in its continuance and perseverance! Truly, "the Lord is gracious."

The Lord is gracious, for He hears prayer. Our course is set with memorials of the Lord's answering our pleas. That bedsideof ours is a witness that the Lord is good. That old armchair, where you are likely to kneel, could tell strange stories ofwhat you have sought and found. Everything has gone cross with you in business, but you have bowed the knee and found DivineGrace to help in time of need. You cried unto the Lord when the child was sick and you were comforted! You sought the Lordwhen the dear one was dead in the house and you found the living God to be your consolation as you went to the open grave.When your wounds were bleeding through bereavement they were stanched in answer to prayer. When your soul's windows were darkened,Grace was the sun which came shining into your gloom.

You have knelt before the Lord at times when you have been weighed down with a heaviness which you could not explain-and nonecould remove-but you have not knelt in vain. Dark night seemed settling down upon your spirit and neither moon nor star appeared,but even then-

"Prayer made the darkened cloud withdraw,

Prayer climbed the ladder Jacob saw." You came forth from the closet rejoicing, for the Lord was gracious to you! He put offyour sackcloth and girded you with gladness. Now you can sing-

"In all my trials here below

I'll humbly kiss His rod,

For this, through Grace, I surely know,

He's still my gracious God."

I hardly need remind you of these things because they must be ever present with your soul. The Lord has been gracious, verygracious to you.

Beloved, some of you have been favored with choice times, "as the days of Heaven upon the earth." You have climbed the mountand been alone with God-and there you have seen your Lord and heard His voice in your soul. Oh, the rapture of intimate fellowshipwith God! Those to whom the Lord is gracious often enjoy an experience which they would not dare to tell lest they shouldseem too familiar. If we were forced to tell our joys, we should have to use expressions like those of Rutherford, or say,rather, those of Solomon's Song which alone can express the high, mysterious joys of those who lean their heads upon the bosomof their Lord-

"When in my heart His heavenly love He sweetly sheds abroad, How joyfully He makes me prove He is my gracious God!"

Possibly your experience has been of a sadder kind-you have backslidden and He has restored you in His Grace. You grew cold.You took less delight in the things of God. You began to absent yourself from the House of Prayer. Your Bible grew dusty andyour closet was forsaken. Perhaps you were almost carried away captive by the world. Though you had tasted of the heavenlygift and the powers of the world to come, you had almost fallen away-and if you had altogether done so, you know how it iswritten-"It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance." But Jesus held

you back from that fatal step, for the Lord is gracious! Your eyes were opened, your heart was broken, you were laid low inthe dust of self-abasement and you began to cry unto the Lord-"Return, O Holy Dove, return."

The Holy Spirit did return, and He brought you back to Christ and to peace and holiness. Then you sang sweetly, "He restoresmy soul." In that day the Lord was seen to be a gracious God. Your face was black because the sun of this vain world had lookedupon you and yet the Lord saw comeliness in you and still kept you in His heart. Though you had broken the holy vows whichbound you to Himself-He would not cast you away-but still declared that He had espoused you unto Himself in faithfulness andthat therefore you should know the Lord. Oh, the graciousness of our Lord to His erring ones! How kind is He to those whofall! And you do not know and I do not know, to the full, how gracious the Lord is.

Remember that He is preparing us for a Glory inconceivable. Everything is working out His perfect design. Here in this worldwe look upon the wrong side of the fabric that is being woven in the loom of Providence. When we ascend to Heaven we shallsee the true pattern to which Christ is working by all His dealings with us and then we shall perceive that He was carryingout a plan of Divine Grace by which we were made meet for Glory. Beloved, the Lord is preparing us for perfection of holinessand bliss! He is working us into the image of His Son and we shall be like He when we shall see Him as He is. He is makingus fit to dwell among the angels of light and to drink eternally of the rivers of God's pleasure. We are being educated byall the processes of His Providence and of His Grace to dwell in that celestial land where the Lamb is the Light and the LordGod is the delight of His people.

"The Lord is gracious"-gracious to the uttermost! There is enough for a sermon in this one sentence! It is a great dish totaste of-"that the Lord is gracious." Before we go to the next point, I hope you have begun to enjoy the fragrant savor ofyour Redeemer's name and the exquisite flavor of His Word. Blessed be the name of Jesus, He is gracious! Grace is poured intoHis lips! His hands drop the sweet-smelling myrrh of Divine Grace and perfume all they touch!

II. But now let us think of A SPECIAL SENSE which is exercised in tasting that the Lord is gracious. Faith is the soul's eyeby which it sees the Lord. Faith is the soul's ear by which we hear what God, the Lord, will speak. Faith is the spiritualhand which touches and grasps the things not seen as yet. Faith is the spiritual nostril which perceives the precious perfumeof our Lord's garments, which smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia. Faith, also, is the soul's taste by which we perceive thesweetness of our Lord and enjoy it for ourselves. Taste is an inward sense, a private, powerful, personal appreciation. Totaste is to know a thing in the essence, outcome and enjoyment of it. To taste is to exercise discernment, to make discoveryand to gain assured knowledge of a thing. Apply this to the fact that the Lord is gracious and what a weighty matter it isto taste thereof!

In answering the question, what is meant by taste? I would bid you notice the likeness of the word, "taste," to another, namely,"test." Taste is a test as to things to be eaten. We prove and try an article of food by tasting it. He that goes to the marketto buy cheese, draws out a piece and eats it, that he may judge of the bulk by the taste. So it is with anything the valueof which depends upon the flavor-it has to be tasted that it may be tested-and taste is the best test. If you desire to knowthe graciousness of God, you must taste and see, by accepting His Grace and all its blessed influences. No test is superiorto this. Experience teaches as nothing else can. The charlatan moves in danger, speculating at every step-but the man of experiencewalks on solid ground. Even so, we do not speculate upon the Grace of God, but "we have known and believed the love whichGod has toward us."

In order to spiritual taste, there must be apprehension. We must know and believe that the Lord is gracious. If I do not knowthe fact and believe that it is so, I cannot begin to taste it. We must have some idea of what being gracious means and someconviction that this is truly the Character of our Lord Jesus. The clearer the knowledge, the more distinct the taste maybecome. Some of you have come as far as that-you know and believe that the Lord is gracious- though you fear that He may notbe gracious to you. This is the first step, but it is evident that more is needed.

After apprehension must come appropriation. Martin Luther said-"And this I call tasting, when I do with my very heart believethat Christ has given Himself to me and that I have my full interest in Him-that He hears and answers for all my sins, transgressionsand harms-and that His life is my life. When this persuasion is thoroughly settled in my heart, it yields wonderful and incrediblegood taste." In order to taste, we must make a very close appropriation. We

place the gift of God, not in our pocket, but in our mouth when we taste it. That is the closest appropriation-when we tastea blessing.

my Hearers, I fear that many of you have heard of our gracious Lord for years and yet have never tasted that He is gracious!You believe that He is so, but you have never personally tried Him for yourselves. See, there is honey! Jonathan saw the woodsto be flowing with it, for it dropped from many a bough! But this was not enough-he tasted and his eyes were enlightened."O taste and see that the Lord is good." Take to yourselves the blessings of His Grace! Appropriate Christ, I pray you! Leteach one take Him to himself and then you will know what tasting means. But taste further means appreciation. You may havea thing within yourself and yet not taste it, even as Samson's lion had honey within its carcass, but he was a dead lion andso could not taste it. A man may get the Gospel into his mind, but never taste it.

It needs a living man and a living appropriation, and a living appreciation or else the royal dainty is not tasted.

Have you ever enjoyed the Truth that the Lord is gracious? "Oh," you say, "not as I should like to do." You have well spoken,but I only asked about a taste-I did not enquire about feasting to the full. "To be filled with all the fullness of God" isour inheritance. But just now it will suffice if we so taste as to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. Just nowwe are talking about tasting-and a taste of Divine Grace, though it bring us but little joy-is a great thing as an evidenceof more to follow! Have you tasted enough of your Lord to know that He is incomparably gracious? Have you taken enough ofthe Lord to yourself to be assured that there is none like He? Have you found all fullness dwelling in Him? There is no Gracelike the Grace which comes from a dying Christ, a risen Christ, a reigning Christ, a coming Christ! Jesus is All in All toall who are in Him!

III. So, having considered the spiritual sense which tastes as heavenly meat, I now come to press upon you A SECOND QUESTION-"Ifso be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious"? Dear friends, this is a very simple elementary question. It is not, "Ifso be you have preached that He is gracious"? Many of you will never preach, nor even write for others. Nor does it say, "Ifso be you have laid it all down doctrinally in theological form." No, no! Some of you will never be theologians, but thatis not the matter in hand. Have you tasted that the Lord is gracious? I may not know what a dish is made of, but I may havetasted it for all that.

1 may be grossly ignorant of the mysteries of cookery, but I can tell whether a dish is sweet to my taste. Our self-enquiryis about a primary matter in which even new-born babes in Grace are concerned. I put it to everyone here, whether babes orstrong men-Have you tasted that the Lord is gracious? However simple is the question, it goes to the root of the matter-ittakes in the whole case of a man's soul. Have you tasted that the Lord is gracious? Do you know Christ by personal receptionof Him? If not, you are in an evil case! If you only know the Lord Jesus in the Book. If you only know Him by the ear throughthe preacher, what good will it do you? You are sick and there is the medicine-you can interpret the doctor's Latin and soyou ascertain every drug in the mixture. Will this heal you? No! you must taste the medicine! You must receive it into yourinward parts or you will derive no benefit from it.

Suppose you are hungry and before you is spread a meal. There is the menu and you read it through. Yes, you approve of everycourse. Will this satisfy you? No! You must sit down and handle that knife and fork and get to work or you will remain hungry.I do not need to press you-you are a willing guest at the table. But when I set forth the Truth of God that the Lord is gracious,many of you are content to hear about it and do not proceed to make the test and taste that the Lord is good! Oh, that youwould come to the feast! Oh, that you would eat that which is good and let your soul delight itself in fatness!

Every man here must answer that question for himself. I hear a good wife say, "I hope my husband has tasted that the Lordis gracious." My good Friend, go on hoping-but your husband must know the Grace of God for himself or your hopes will be vain!A father here says, "I hope my daughter has tasted that the Lord is gracious." I am pleased that you have such a hope forher-but your daughter must taste for herself. We cannot, in this matter, be sponsors for one another! Tasting is an operationwhich must be performed by the individual palate. There is no other method of practicing it. No man can say that he has tastedmy food for me and none may dream that they have tasted Christ because their friends have feasted on Him. We must know theLord for ourselves or die in ignorance of Him!

I am afraid this question will have to be answered in the negative by many hearers, for they have never tasted Christ. Thisis an extraordinary thing with some of you, for you are very sound in the faith, religious in your conduct and moral in yourlives. You would not be content with any preaching which was not the unadulterated milk of the Word, for your

mind would reject the concoctions of heresy. And yet, though you know the Truth of God, you have not tasted this particularand all-important fact, that the Lord is gracious! What is the good of knowing that food is good if you leave it untasted?It must be a wearisome business to sit at a table and have the dishes all brought before you-and then taken away again! Itmust be tantalizing to have a sniff of the food but never to have a morsel in your mouth! Many hearers remain in that wretchedstate. The river of God is at their feet and yet they are dying of thirst! The banquet of Grace is spread at their door andyet they perish with hunger! Alas, the mass of mankind have never tasted, do not know what it means to taste and do not careto know! Ah me, this is woe upon woe!

There are also those who rejoice that they have tasted that the Lord is gracious, yet confess it with a deep blush becausethey have only tasted. Still, there is a great deal in the tasting, for he that can taste will desire more. I would to Godthat all of us would go to Jesus and feed upon Him to the full. Oh, for a Divine hunger which would make us eat abundantly!I would be ravenous for Christ! Would God we thirsted after Him as the hart pants after the water brooks, for then we shouldsoon be filled! I fear the most of us must confess that we have only tasted that the Lord is gracious, whereas we might havebeen sitting in His banqueting house, having our souls satisfied with the rich provisions of His house. Yet, blessed be theLord, we have tasted. We have tasted that the Lord is gracious!

To us this taste has come through the Word. Have you not often cried, when you have gone out of this house, "Blessed be Godfor what we have heard today"? So, too, in reading the Scriptures, we have felt that the Lord is gracious. When we have enjoyedassurance of our salvation we have tasted that the Lord is gracious. In answered prayer, in Providential supplies, in graciousrenewals we have tasted that the Lord is gracious. In our work or suffering, in our joys or sorrows, in our meditations orpraises we have tasted that the Lord is gracious. There is no getting this Truth out of our soul's creed-we are sure of it.If a man has tasted a thing, he knows the flavor of it and is not to be argued out of his knowledge.

I have eaten sugar and I find it sweet. Here comes a philosopher and declares that it is sour. Go on, philosopher, and philosophizeas long and as much as you like, but my palate defies your philosophy! When last I took quinine I held very dogmatic viewsas to its bitterness. Men who have tasted are inclined to be positive. But, cries one, "It must be wrong to be dogmatic."I care nothing about hard words-I will be dogmatic about what I positively know. When a man is sure of things, why shouldhe pretend to be undecided? There are some matters about which I am past argument, past the power to doubt-and the graciousnessof my God is one of these things. This I have seen and handled, and tasted-from now on let no man trouble me-the die is cast.

Let me tell you when we have tasted the graciousness of the Lord. We have done so after great bitterness. Our Lord, as GeorgeHerbert would say, has put His hand into the bitter box and given us a dose of wormwood and gall. We have drunk the cup insubmission and afterwards He has made us taste that the Lord is gracious-and then all bitterness has clean gone and our mouthhas been as sweet as though wormwood had never entered it! It is wonderful how the delectable Grace that is in Christ Jesusdrowns the offenses of life and makes us say, "Surely the bitterness of death is passed."

When a man is ill, he often loses his taste. The most delicious food is nauseous to him. "His soul abhors all manner of meat."But such is the flavor of the Truth of God that the Lord is gracious, that it is more pleasant to us when we are sick thanat any other time! The love of Christ is a delicious refreshment for a sufferer. When our pains multiply and our spirits aredepressed, then is a gracious Christ more precious to us than in the day of health and joy. We get fresh sips of sweetnessand new tastes of delight when our tribulations abound.

The taste of Divine Grace is always on some men's palates-their mouths are filled all the day with the praises of the Lord.These are happy beings-let us be of their number! When a man grows old he sometimes loses his power of taste. Barzillai atfourscore years, said to David, "Can your servant taste what I eat, or what I drink?" Age had dulled his palate. But the naturallaw is not law in the spiritual world, for the older we get the more do we relish the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! Believersgrow more heavenly as they get nearer to Heaven, or at least they should do so. As earth goes, Christ comes. Christ is verychoice to us when we are young, but when we are gray-headed He is sweetness itself! We realize our Lord more than ever andwe have a keener perception of the Grace which He has manifested towards us. Shortly we shall be with Him where He is andshall behold and share His Glory-then will He be surpassingly delightful to our perfected taste.

Again I put the question-Do you know anything about it? I fear that some of you are quite at sea as to what I mean. You knowthe taste of fine old port, or sparkling champagne. You know the delicacies of the season-but you have never tasted that theLord is gracious and you smile as you hear the question, for it seems to you too absurd. Why, you have no taste which couldapprehend such things and, indeed, you have no spiritual life! Dead men cannot taste the food of the living! So men who arespiritually dead cannot taste spiritual delights. The Lord quicken you! May you this morning find Christ who is the resurrectionand the life! The moment you live unto Him you will begin to crave the milk of the Word and soon you will have tasted thatthe Lord is gracious!

IV. So we come to our last point which is A SERIES OF PRACTICAL INFERENCES. I have seen by the glances of many of you thatyou feel you have been made to sit at the table of salvation. You have not partaken so fully as you hope to do, but yet youhave, at least, tasted that the Lord is gracious. Well, then, as the text puts it, "Desire the sincere milk of the Word."If you have tasted it, long for more of it! Do not hanker after the dilutions and concoctions of "modern thought," which youwill find vended in many a pulpit. Beware of dangerous foods compounded of speculations and heresies! If you have ever tastedthe true milk of the Word, you will not desire any other, for there is none like it.

When the other foods come into the market, say to yourself, "The best is good enough for me and Christ Jesus is the best ofthe best. The Lord is so gracious that none can compare with Him for a moment and therefore I shall not leave Him." Let othersfly to poisoned cups of error, or intoxicating draughts of superstition-we will keep to that which is so grateful to our taste,so nourishing to our souls. Next, expect to grow and pray that you may do so. You, dear Friends, have tasted that the Lordis gracious and now you desire to be nourished in sound doctrine that your whole nature may be developed. How do Christiansgrow? If they grow aright, they grow all over.

Some grow in knowledge, but they do not grow in virtue-this is as if a child's head should get bigger and bigger and the restof his body should remain as it was-he will become a hideous creature or will die of water on the brain. Some say they willmake their hearts grow and never mind their heads. This also will not do. If your head remains as a pimple while your handsand feet increase, you will be deformed. We must grow up into Christ in all things. How? Why, by drinking in the unadulteratedmilk of the Word! To feed thereon makes us grow. Why are some stunted? Because they do not take enough spiritual food, orelse because it is not the true Word of God which they hear. It is sad that there should be so much evil teaching-it is thepest of our age.

One of the most active agencies in London for the spread of certain diseases is milk-and though persons take in their milkcarelessly and think it is an innocent fluid, there may often be death in the can-and the pint of milk may be a pint of poison.The Gospel is the most sustaining food for the soul, but if it is adulterated it may convey spiritual disease and death intothe soul. More mischief can be done by the pulpit than by all other agencies put together! Brothers and Sisters, pray forministers, for if they preach the Gospel and water it down so that the Gospel loses its power-or if they preach the Gospeland poison it so that it ceases to be pure Truth of God-then the people cannot grow, nor even live! Brethren, let us prayfor more faith, more hope, more love, more zeal and so let us grow. "Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow."

Next, "If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious," abhor the garlic flavor of the world's vices. I mean those alludedto in the first verse-"malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies and all evil speaking." If the Lord is gracious to you, be graciousto others. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, do not carry about with you the bitterness of malice, or the sournessof envy. Have no savor of cunning about you, nor the least taint of hypocrisy, nor the foul tongue of evil speaking. Is noteven a smack of evil too much? A man that has tasted that the Lord is gracious ought to have a sweet mind and a sweet mouth.He should judge charitably and speak kindly of others. If you do not do so, I advise you to taste again and again that theLord is gracious till the powerful flavor of Divine Grace shall abide in your mouth and cast out all the noisome savors ofhate.

I want you also, dear Friends, if you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, to lose the taste for all earthly trifles. Someamusements we are supposed to condemn, but we have not condemned them indiscriminately. We have nothing to say about theirsuitability for those who can be satisfied with them. Many diversions may be suited to those whose natures can be gratifiedwith them. As to the children of God, we judge them by quite another rule. Let the ox have its grass and the horse its hay,but souls must feed on spiritual meat. A farmer takes me over his farm. I see that he keeps swine and I see the men bringout for them barley-meal and mash. The farmer asks me what I think of it. I think it is capital stuff for

those for whom it is prepared. I do not condemn the swine for enjoying it, nor the farmer for providing it for them. But ifhe asks me whether I will have some of the mash, I am quick at answering, "No, farmer, not I." "Why not?" "Well, I have othertastes. In your own house I have eaten bread and beef, and other foods are not what I hunger for." That is all I say.

Those who want vain amusements may judge themselves by their likings, but if so be that we have tasted that the Lord is gracious,our tastes are from now on spoiled for the world's impure delights. To dispute about taste is acknowledged to be unwise-andwhen sin and holiness become matters of taste with men, we shall soon see what manner of men they are. The taste of the worldwill never be our taste. I hope it never will, for if it were, we should have grave cause to fear that we were of the world.If we were of the world, the world would love its own and we should love the world's own as much as the world loves it. Mayyou lose all taste for the apples of Sodom and the grapes of Gomorrah!

Lastly, if you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, taste again. For what does the next verse say? "To whom coming, as untoa living stone." You have come to Jesus-keep on coming to Jesus. You tell me that you trust Christ-trust Him again, my Brothersand Sisters! "He is all my hope." Hope in Him yet more! "He is my joy." Rejoice in him still more! "He is my love." Love Himwith all your soul! If you have tasted and enjoyed, then feast and enjoy. "Eat you that which is good and let your soul delightitself in fatness."

There is no stint at my Lord's table and you need not restrain yourself from fear of surfeit or sickness. You can never partaketoo freely of the Grace of Christ Jesus your Lord. No man was ever made ill by feeding too freely upon heavenly things. No,the dainties of Heaven create an expansion of soul and as we receive we gain capacity to receive yet more of holy gifts! Wefeast on when once we have tasted that the Lord is gracious! The Lord feed you to the full, for Jesus' sake! Amen.