Sermon 2188. Entangled in the Land
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1891
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON. ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 21, 1890.
"For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in." Exodus 14:3.
ISRAEL was clean escaped from Egypt. Not a hoof of their cattle was left behind, nor foot of child or aged man remained inthe house of bondage. But though they were gone, they were not forgotten by the tyrant who had enslaved them. They had beena very useful body of workers, for they had built treasure cities and storehouses for Pharaoh. Compelled to work without wages,they cost the tyrant nothing but the expenditure of the lash. His exactions of forced labor had grown intolerable to the people,but the buildings erected had been a joy to the lord of Egypt. When they were quite gone, Pharaoh woke up to a sense of hisloss and his attendants felt the same. So they cried, "Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?"Then they resolved to drive them back, again, and they thought it easy to do so, for they said, "They are entangled in theland, the wilderness has shut them in." They knew that the Israelites had no spirit for war and they felt sure that they hadonly to overtake them and hurry them back like a drove of cattle. They had found them such submissive servants that they expectedto fit their fetters on them, again, and rivet them forever. Perhaps their God had shot His last arrow and Egypt might captureHis people, again, without fear of plagues. Thus men thought-but the Lord thought otherwise.
Do not I speak to some at this hour who, during the last few months, have, by the power of the Lord's gracious hand, escapedout of the bondage of sin? You have got clean away from your old master. With a high hand and an outstretched arm has Godbrought you forth into liberty! You remember the sprinkling of the blood and the eating of the Paschal Lamb-and you are nowon your way to Canaan. But your former master and his friends have not forgotten you. You were once a valuable servant toSatan and he will not willingly lose you. Some of you whom God has saved by Grace could drink for Satan, lie for him, swearfor him, lead others into evil ways and you could do other things, cheerfully, which I need not mention, which he always desiresto have done in his kingdom. You were a trained servant and knew your master's way so as to answer his purpose better thanmost. Servants of Satan usually serve him greedily and you were very eager. Nothing is too hot or too heavy for men who arethoroughly enthusiastic for evil. Sins that should be thought degrading are followed by men under the notion of pleasure andgaiety. "A short life and a merry one," is too often the cry of persons who are preferring death to life.
The devil has the knack of making his bondsmen boast of their freedom and they follow with eagerness that which is to theirown loss and ruin. Poor slaves! Their slavery has blinded their minds. Thanks be unto God, certain of you have lately fledfrom your former bondage! But the point I am to speak of is this-the great tyrant has not forgotten you and he designs inhis heart your capture and re-enslavement. He and his are continually looking for opportunities by which they may bring youback into the thralldom of evil, fasten the manacles of habit upon your hands and fit the fetters of despair upon your feet.By the Grace of God I hope that the Prince of Evil and his helpers will be disappointed, but they will leave no stone unturnedto effect their purposes. One of their hopes of driving you back is the belief that you are entangled by your circumstancesand surroundings. They conceive that you have got into serious difficulty through your conversion and that you cannot findyour way out of your perplexity. Now the enemy says, "I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil." The Pharaohof the infernal regions thinks to drive the fugitives back, again, like a flock of sheep and, notwithstanding all that Godhas done for them, he hopes, again, to bring them under his yoke. If Jehovah has
brought you out, His work will never be undone, but the enemy's hope lies in his belief that you are hopelessly entangledby your present environment.
I speak, just now, mainly to new converts, and I trust I may encourage them. Satan has less hope of getting back those whohave escaped from his tyranny for many years. If he can trip them up or worry them, even now, he will take a delight in doingit, but he begins to see that the older pilgrims are really the Lord's and cannot fall into his hands. Of those who have onlylately escaped from his power, he has greater hope, for they have not yet proven, by the test of experience, that the workwithin them is Divine. He hopes that possibly theirs is only temporary reformation and, if so, he can soon make them slipback into the mire of sin from which he hopes they have only half escaped. I am going to speak to the raw recruits, "fromEgypt lately come," hoping that, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, they may be cheered in pressing forward and may feelthat they can never go back to their old sins.
The early period of Christian faith, like the infancy of life, is crowded with dangers. Literally, new-born life is so precariousthat it is a wonder that any infant survives! Infant spiritual life is so full of weaknesses and diseases that none wouldsurvive were it not for Almighty Grace. Hence the need of the special precept, "Feed my lambs." It is our bounden duty tolook well after beginners in the ways of God. The moral mortality in our Churches is mainly among the new converts. If theysurvive the first years of temptation, as a rule they continue with us. Our Church Roll shows that the leakage is throughthe unseasoned timbers-
"When they have conquered early fears,
And vanquished youthful wrong,
Grace will preserve their following years,
And make their virtues strong." If we leave them without help and comfort in their beginnings, we cannot tell how much theywill sin and suffer. With the view of helping them, I shall speak, first, upon one of our early dangers and, secondly, uponour security against that danger.
I. ONE OF OUR EARLY DANGERS is this-we may become entangled in the land-the wilderness may shut us in. That entanglement takesa great many shapes. I will only hint at a few of them.
Dealing with old friends is a frequent one. The man is a new creature in Christ Jesus and since his friends find that he isso, they trouble him. His foes are they of his own household! How is the youth to make an open confession of Christ beforehis infidel father? Possibly the convert is a wife. How is she to be a Christian if she is married to an ungodly husband?Our earthly loves have great power over us and it is right that they should-but herein comes a hindrance to spiritual life.Satan says to himself, "Ah, he cannot break away from my kingdom, for his brother, his wife, or his betrothed will keep himin my service!" It may not only be one member of the family, but several may combine to draw back the half-escaped one. Itmay be that parents, brothers, sisters, friends of all sorts will unite in their efforts to jeer the young Christian out ofhis faith and lead him off from the road of uprightness. We hear much of the Salvation Army, but, alas, there is an Army ofDamnation, too! Very zealous and crafty are these followers of the Evil One. Cruel mockings, accusations of hypocrisy, slandersand unkindnesses are not spared, to turn the young Christian from the right way. Because of household opposition, Satan says,"He is entangled in the land." The adversary thinks that you have not the courage to stand up against your relatives and youwill not dare to confess your Lord before your wife, or your father. We shall now see whether the Lord has brought you out,or whether you are running off on a mere whim of your own-the devil will not be slow to apply the test!
In some cases the entanglement is not so much that of the family as of society. I have personally known one or two friendsmoving in high circles who have said to me, "As soon as I am known to be a Christian, my friends will cut my acquaintance.I do not know what I shall do when I have to visit at certain houses. Assuredly I shall have to run the gauntlet." It hasbeen a quiet pleasure to me when I have found that they have been banished from such "society" altogether, for it could neverhave been of any spiritual advantage to them and it might have proved a snare. Their loss was a real gain. But, oh, how manyare afraid of Sir John and of Lady Mary, or of some wealthy neighbor! These fine folks may be nothing very great, after all,but, still, weak hearts are all too apt to dread the loss of their patronage and are ready enough to make a great cross ofbeing frowned out of their society.
In other circles the same difficulties occur. The workshop has its trials as well as the drawing room. "Ah," says Satan, "theman came out and confessed himself a Christian the other night, but I know where he works and there is not a
man in the place who will sympathize with him! He will be entangled in the land." It happens that one begins in the morningwith a joke. A second comes on with an oath. A third follows suit with a sharp and bitter observation. All day long they givethe new convert such handfuls of mud as they can find-and the hope of the Evil One is that thus he will be forced back intohis old ways. The same thing happens on the farm, or on board ship, or in the barracks-old companions want to have our societyand are not pleased with the silent rebuke which is implied in our separating from them. You know more about this than I do,but I wonder not at Satan saying, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in." Why, some of you canscarcely descend the steps of this Tabernacle, convinced of sin and awakened to seek eternal salvation, before an old friendmeets you and, by his careless salutation, he makes you forget the emotion which just before was so manifest! Or if you getover the first attack, you are so warmly assailed indoors that you are greatly inclined to give in. Alas for the many whoare speedily entangled in the nets of human associates and never gain the liberty of Christ! The demands of business, of position,of self-interest, of custom-these all hold men as birds are caught with bird-lime, or as the needle is held by a powerfulmagnet-and so they are prepared to listen to evil entreaties and return to the country from which they came out.
To some, the entanglements come from having to deal with new matters. All things have become new and among the rest, eventheir ordinary business wears a different aspect. It used to be conducted in such and such a way, but now, on examination,the man says, "I am a Christian. I cannot do as I have done and yet, how can I alter it?" It is a very simple matter to fallinto those ways of trade which are questionable-but it is not quite so easy to quit them and to gain a livelihood. When youalter one custom of trade, another matter hangs upon it, and needs a change. And it is not easy to bring partners, clerksand workpeople out of old ways into new. They are very apt to be sticklers for former methods. Moreover, there are peoplein the trade who think you more nice than wise and will even refuse to do business with you if you are so particular. It isno small thing for the convert to set himself right with the world in his changed mode of dealing, yet this has got to bedone and done with decision, too, or there is no escaping from evil! At such a time the struggler feels-"I am entangled inthe land, the wilderness has shut me in"-and the enemy of souls is of the same opinion. Now is his opportunity, but if youescape him, now, he will never again have such an advantage over you.
At the same time, our young Brother may be alarmed about the other side of his new associations-namely, joining the Church.It seems an ordeal to young beginners to come to see the pastor about uniting with the Lord's people. I am sure they neednot be at all terrified of me, for no one will more heartily welcome any sincere seeker after Jesus! All that I shall askis a simple confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ-and if that is given, even with fear and trembling-I shall be wellcontent. Yet, to the timid beginner, it seems very solemn to be spoken to by the Elders of the Church. Mr. Bunyan puts lionsin front of the Palace Beautiful, by which palace he means the Church. I have been told by a facetious person that Mr. Bunyanmeant by these lions the Deacons and Elders! Well, I can only say that I find them brave as lions, but even if they were terribleas those monarchs of the forests, there is no just cause for fearing them, for Mr. Bunyan adds, "The lions are chained." Ifany of you are afraid of our Deacons and Elders, you are so without reason, for the lions are chained by the intense lovethey bear both to their Lord and to all pilgrims to Zion.
A guard is set before the door of the Church for a necessary purpose, for we would have none enter who are self-deceived-butnone of the Brothers in office among us will harm anyone who desires to serve the Lord and dwell with His people. If you havebeen troubled about your admission to the Church, I hope that fear will come to an end by your pushing forward and being enrolledin our ranks. Get right in your position, both towards the world and the Church, and let not the Evil One say with regardto either of these matters, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in."
We have known others bewildered with doctrinal difficulties. When a man's soul is renewed, he begins to think, and he desiresto understand many things which, before, were indifferent to him. He meets with that most plain and precious Truth of Godthat, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," and he is well satisfied with that declaration. Still, as he grows,he seeks more knowledge and longs to understand the deep things of God. Possibly, as a young beginner he goes beyond his depth.He perceives the Doctrine of Election in the Bible and he asks, "What is this?" It may be he is greatly puzzled with thisdoctrine, for though it is rich with comfort for those who, by reason of years, have had their senses exercised, yet it isa hard nut for babes in Grace. It is simple enough when seen from one side of it, but from another it is a bottomless mystery.We have seen minds quite bewildered where, to us, all things have seemed plain.
I have known people stumble over hard texts. "What does this text mean? What does that passage mean? What does this otherScripture mean?" You would be astonished if you knew how many people are disturbed in mind, lie awake at nights and are likelyto lose their faith in Christ over Scriptures which are as cheering as can be when once they are understood! These peopleneed that some man should guide them, for, like the Ethiopian nobleman, they will not otherwise understand what they read.In former periods, many lost themselves in meditations upon free will, predestination, Irresistible Grace and so forth. Itwas a pity that they dwelt so much upon the decrees of the Father and so little upon the work of the Lord Jesus! They gottheir heads muddled by things too high for them. People are more frivolous now, as a rule, and this evil is rare. Still, thereare to be found, here and there, thoughtful persons not yet fully instructed in the faith who are puzzled and confused asthe Infinite Glory of revealed Truth opens up before their astonished gaze!
They will know, hereafter, but for the present they are sorely troubled and perplexed-and their cruel enemy rejoices that,"They are entangled in the land." Nothing contributes more to this than the divisions in the Christian Church. One preachercries up one thing and another quite the contrary, till young converts cry, "Who are we to believe?" And they stand as ifthey had come to crossroads and do not know which way to take. I am sorry it should be so, but there is a promise to the familyof faith, "All your children shall be taught of the Lord." You shall not lose your way if you will accept the Word of Godas a little child. Be of good courage, for it is written-"He shall guide you continually."
Far worse is the case of those who are entangled through strange discoveries. They came in among professed Believers and theysupposed that all Christians were perfect, (which, by the way, is a mere supposition), and now they have met with a certainloud professor who has acted very dishonorably and unkindly towards them! And they cry out with astonishment, "How is this?"We who know by experience and observation that Judas may be looked for among common dis-ciples-since he appeared among thechosen 12-are not so staggered when we see a hypocrite! We expect to see black sheep even in the choicest flock-but the newconvert is sorely grieved and stumbled when he finds out the melancholy fact that all men are not what they seem. Great mischiefis worked among young Christians by hypocritical or inconsistent professors. God grant that none of us may be of that kind,for the blood of souls will lie at the door of such persons!
It may be that, in his earliest days, the young convert finds out with surprise that his own heart is brimming over with sin.He thought that he was so changed that no sin remained in him and no temptation from without could move him. He hoped thathe was so sure of the Truth of God that he would never doubt. But now he has to cry, "Lord, help my unbelief," for he canhardly decide whether he believes or not! He has discovered another law in his members warring against the law of his mindand bringing him into captivity. He finds that when he would do good, evil is present with him-and this inward conflict betweenthe flesh and the spirit comes upon him as a terrible surprise. "Why am I like this?" he cries. "Can I be a child of God andhave such dreadful thoughts? Could I feel so wretched if I were, indeed, a possessor of Grace?" When young beginners get intothis rough road, they are taken by surprise and know not what to do. Then is it that the adversary of their souls hopes that,"They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them
Akin to this are their amazements at painful experiences. It may be the Lord withholds the light of His Countenance from themand then they walk in darkness and see no light. If they were always to enjoy calm and comfort, they would, with self-complacency,boast, "My mountain stands firm! I shall never be moved!" But the Lord hides Himself from them to slay their pride. If theywere always at ease, they would fall into living by feeling, instead of walking by faith. Therefore the Lord tries them, leadsthem by a desert path, clouds their sky and burdens their backs. Then they enquire, "How is this?" Some of us know that whenGod shuts us up in the dark, He loves us as dearly as when He pours sunlight upon us, but beginners in the Divine Life donot know this-and they are terribly put to it since they judge God's heart by His hands. "Can I be a child of God, and yetbe so afflicted? And why is my light so dim?" These frames and feelings, which come of our being frail, foolish and feeble-minded,are a great perplexity-and when we cannot make them out, the adversary cries, "They are entangled in the land, the wildernesshas shut them in."
What if, at the back of all this, we should be assailed with special trials? Suppose it should be true that ever since youhave been a Christian, you have not prospered in worldly concerns as you did before? It will seem strange. When you were aman of the world and were an enemy of God, you had plenty of money and a host of friends-but now that you have become a Christian,your means and your friends are gradually melting away. It may be the case. I have known such
an instance. Yet it is not hard to explain this in several ways. The Lord would not have us follow Him for the sake of whatwe get from Him. He would have us men, against whom even Satan could not say, "Have You not set a hedge about him and allthat he has?" Our Lord desires followers who will cling to Him at all risks, for no other reason but their value of Himselfand His Truth. He would have servants who, having counted the cost, would lose estate and repute, yes, and life, itself, soonerthan turn aside from the way of their Lord! Perhaps you are being educated to this point of faithfulness. Do not, therefore,doubt because of your exercises and tribulations. but take these things joyfully! The path to Heaven lies by the dens of theleopards and the haunts of the young lions. Dream not that God has forsaken you! Leave it to the devil to say, "They are entangledin the land, the wilderness has shut them in."
Possibly, once more, some may be much beset on the road to Heaven by mental difficulties. I do not often say much about thesethings because there are plenty of preachers who, by mentioning difficulties, are really spreading them. Certain clever gentlemenof the cloth may think it their duty to sow doubts among their hearers, but I have no such ambition. They may imagine thatthey are answering the questions which they suggest, but it seems to me that they are merely advertising them to many of thosewho were previously unaware of them. This is an age when men assail the Inspiration of the Bible, the atoning Sacrifice andthe Election of Grace. I need not enlarge. Everything is now attacked. There is no part of the Bible which some critic wouldnot take away from us. It may be, young Friend, that you cannot answer all the objections which you hear. Do not wonder ifyou cannot! You would be wiser than Solomon if you could reply to all objections that quibblers may invent!
A friend came to me with a great difficulty, supposing that I could answer it off-hand; but I replied, "He who fashioned thispiece of criticism took time in the making of it and you must allow me the same time to demolish it. I will do my best withit, but remember, if you find a thousand difficulties which I cannot meet, that fact will not prove that they cannot be met,for I do not profess to be Omniscient, nor do I assert that faith is a Grace which has no difficulties to surmount." If therewere a thousand more objections which could not, at this present time, be answered, they might confuse our feeble minds, butthey would not shake the eternal Truth of God, itself! God's Word is sure, be the difficulties what they may! Know what youknow and believe what you believe-and get a firm grip of undoubted Truths of God-and though, when you are worried with thedoubts and hypotheses of philosophers and the like, Satan will say, "They are entangled in the land," let him see that yourworry is soon ended by a childlike faith in the living God! Real faith will find a way out of perplexity, or will make one!True faith will sooner set aside the conclusions of human reason than the declarations of God. In fact, faith teaches reasonto be reasonable by setting before it the highest of all reasons, namely, the Testimony of God! God send us such a childlikefaith and then we shall not be "entangled in the land"!
II. I have thus shown you what our danger is. Now, secondly, let us think of OUR SECURITY UNDER THIS
My text is, "Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in."Upon this I make the first observation, that this is not true. It is only what Pharaoh said. And so when Satan says, "Theyare entangled in the land," it is not true! It is only one of the sayings of the Father of Lies. "They say"-says one. Well,what do they say? Let them say it-their saying it will not make it true. A troubled one comes to me and complains of a certaincharge which has been made. And he adds, as the sharp edge of it all, "Sir, it is not true." Well, then, do not fret aboutit! One cries out, "They are taking away my character and I feel it keenly because what they say is cruelly false." Friend,do not feel it at all! You ought to feel it only if what they say is true.
Now, what Pharaoh said was not true and his speech did not cause the children of Israel to be really entangled in the land.Pharaoh's tongue speaks his wish-but his wish will not be realized. Our adversaries say that our cause is defeated. Is it?"Ah," they say, "we have shut him up. The man cannot answer us! We have crushed his faith and argued his confidence to death."Have you? By the grace of God we stand fast in the once-delivered faith, after all your sophistries and boasts! You say thatwe are entangled, but we are not. "Show us," they say, "the way in which you will get out of the wilderness." No, that wecannot do, but, if you will wait a while, the Lord will show you-by leading us graciously through the divided sea-and, itmay be, by also drowning you therein, as He did the Egyptians when the waters overwhelmed them! Israel could not guess herway, but Israel could wait till God revealed it. Newly-emancipated one, you are shut in with doubts and difficulties suggestedby carnal reason, but, I pray you, believe your God! By the blood of the Cross, I entreat you, believe the Lord Jesus! Bythe eternal judgment and the Great White Throne, believe your God.
"Let God be true but every man a liar." Wait till He shall clear your way, through the very heart of the sea if need be-away which will conduct you in safety to the other shore, where, with timbrel and with song, you shall proclaim His victory!
My next observation is this-though Pharaoh said, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in," yet theyhad a Guide. Look at the surroundings of my text and you will see that they were guided by a pillar of cloud by day and apillar of fire by night, so that they had no need to be in any perplexity as to their road. We, too, have a Guide. In Providencewe are not left without a Leader and in spiritual things we are not left without the Spirit of God who shall lead us intoall Truth. Young traveler, you are not turned out alone into a wild wilderness to find a path-the Good Shepherd goes beforeyou! Follow Him as the sheep follow their shepherd. He never led His flock in the wrong direction yet! Do what He bids youand you are safe. Do as He did when He was here below-His example is your safe direction. Believe Him and obey Him. Keep tothe narrow path. Hold fast your integrity and never let go of your faith. You have a heavenly Guide. You are not left aloneand, therefore, you cannot be entangled in the land-the wilderness has not shut you in!
Remember, next, that the Lord had appointed a way for these people. There was not only a Guide, but a way. But where was thatway? Mountains blocked them on either side. They could not turn back, for Pharaoh shut up that route. Where should they go?The reedy Red Sea rolled across their front. Listen! Their way is across the bottom of that sea and up from its depths tothe other shore! A strange path! "It is no way at all," cries unbelief. Have you never read, concerning God, "Your way isin the sea, and Your path in the great waters, and Your footsteps are not known"? Tried Believer, the Lord will make a wayfor you where no foot has ever been! That which, like a sea, threatens to drown you, shall be a highway for your escape!
I once had a friend, an upright gracious man, a gentleman whom God had prospered. He had, when engaged in a bank, acted uprightlyin a matter in which his superiors judged him to be foolishly scrupulous and, therefore, dismissed him. He could not do wrongand so he was left with a wife and family, without a job and, as everybody told him, irretrievably ruined because of his "foolishconscientiousness." He was for years the head of that very bank. In a singular way, the Lord made his discharge the meansof his advancement so that he rose, step by step, to be the master where he had been the rejected servant! And this, humanlyspeaking, would not have come about had it not been for the incident mentioned. Have faith that God can turn the evil intogood and that which threatens to annihilate you will be the means of your enlargement! Look well to your integrity and theLord will look to your prosperity! The way of faith is not a common turnpike road which every careless traveler may traversewithout care or study. It is a mysterious way which no fowl knows and the lion's whelp has not trodden. Those who inheritthe special glories of Heaven must encounter the special perils of the deep and of the desert-and in their amazing journeythey shall behold the glorious arm of the Lord working wonders for them!
Note well that the Lord would not only find them a way, but, at the same time, overthrow their enemies. You have come up outof Egypt, O young Believer, but the taskmasters are at your heels! There may come a decisive moment, after which they shallnever pursue you again. These who seek your soul are to be destroyed, so that there shall not be one of them left. I believethat many a young convert hates sin and hates all evil habits, but these evils keep dogging his footsteps and seem as if theywould master him-and then there comes a time of great struggle and tremendous battling without and within-on that one desperatefield he fights the matter out. His adversaries are drowned in that Red Sea! His old sins and his old habits lose forevertheir former power. The Red Sea rolled between Israel and Egypt and whatever else might trouble the pilgrim host, they werenever, throughout the whole 40 years, molested by Pharaoh, or any of the Egyptians.
It is a grand thing when a man gets clean away from the world and is reckoned as dead to it. He has burnt his boats and haslanded on the shore from which he never can go back, again, but must fight out the battle against sin even to the end. Whena man is sworn into the army of Christ for eternity and the world has cast him out, there is nothing for him but to go rightahead. Everything that he has is now staked on the Cross of Christ. Happy man to have come to such a pass-to be once and forall crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him! The Egyptians of sin which had so fiercely pursued him are drownedand the rest of the Egyptians of evil have given him up-and he may go on his way to the promised land in peace so far as hisold taskmasters are concerned.
Remember, also, dear Friends, that when these people were thought to be hopelessly entangled, they were about to see the Lordperform for them a work which would be most helpful to their ultimate conquest of Canaan, for when Pharaoh and his chariotswere drowned in the sea, Palestine heard of it and all the natives there began to tremble. Thus sang Moses in his famous song,"Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of Your arm they shall be as still as a stone. The people shall hear,and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold of the inhabitants of Palestine." That day in which a convert has to fight out the battle,once and for all with himself, shall give him strength for all future conflict and smooth his pathway into the land that flowswith milk and honey!
You must not think, young Christian, because you are saved from guilt, that everything is done and the warfare ended! Thereis a life-long conflict for you before you obtain possession of your inheritance and, it may be that, if now, when you arein special trouble, you are found faithful, all the rest of the road will be cleared from similar troubles. Now shall theEgyptians be drowned in the sea! Some of us can remember the time when we had to stand still and seriously ask, "Can I nowbe true to the Lord and His Law? I am advised the other way by a very prudent friend. Can I reject this advice? I can seethe worldly advantage that I should gain through acting in a crooked course. Can I forego that advantage? I can see that Ishall have to suffer if I am conscientious. Can I take up my cross?" When, after hours of anguish and prayer, you have comeout of every entanglement pure and free, from that time forth the Lord may lift up the light of His Countenance upon you,and your victory over all other adversaries will be easy. Will not this comfort some of you who have just come to the RedSea? The place of test and trial shall be the place of the ending of the foe!
Why had the Lord led the people so far if He would not still help them? Do I hear someone say, "I fear that I shall neverget out of my difficulties"? Yet you believe that the Lord has brought you out from the dominion of Satan? Tell me, has Godbrought you so far to let you perish? He has broken off the yoke of sin. He has given you a hope in Christ and you are a changedman. Do you think that He would do all this for you and then leave you? Come, my Brother, has the Lord brought you out ofEgypt, by the precious blood of the Lamb, that you should die in the wilderness? Do you believe that Jesus has redeemed youto let you be lost, after all? I would speak personally to any elderly Christians here who begin to think that they shallone day fall by the hand of the enemy. How old are you? "Sixty." Sixty? How long do you expect to live? Answer: ten years.Then if God has taken care of you for 60 years, can you not trust Him for the odd ten? "Well," says one, "I am eighty." Eighty?How long do you reckon to remain on earth Are you going to doubt for the few years that are yet to come? Have you trustedyour God for 80 long years? Do not doubt Him now, I pray you! Do not please the devil by distrusting your faithful God! Assurely as Jehovah begins, He will finish! It shall never be said of any work of God, "He began to build and was not able tofinish." If He has set you on the way to the eternal inheritance, He will surely bring you into it! God is never defeatedor turned aside. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged." Comfort one another, therefore, with such words as these.
Lastly, the Lord must bring Israel out of all entanglement, for how else could He be glorified? Suppose that the Israeliteshad been left to perish when Pharaoh said they were shut in? What then? What would the Lord have done for His great name?Would not the Egyptians have exulted over Israel's God? A Scotch minister tells the story of an aged saint who, on her dyingbed, said that her Savior would never leave her to perish. "But suppose that He did not keep His promise and you were to belost?" She answered, "He would be a greater loser than I." When asked what she meant, she answered, "It is true that I wouldlose my soul, but God would lose His honor and His Glory if He were not true."
Brothers and Sisters, if we have trusted in God, and have come out of the Egypt of the world through His Grace, and have leftall its sins behind us-if we were left to die in the wilderness-the Lord Jesus Christ would lose His Glory as a Savior, theDivine Father would lose His name for immutable faithfulness and the Holy Spirit would lose His honor for perseverance incompleting every work which He undertakes! The Lord God of Israel will never stain His Glory- therefore be confident thatHe who brought you out of Egypt will bring you into Canaan! How I delight in that verse which we sang just now-
"My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase; Impressed on His heart it remains in marks of indelible Grace.Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is given; More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits inHeaven." "Ah" murmurs one, "I don't believe that!" Then I am sorry for you, for, "according to your faith be it unto you.""I believe," says one, "that men may fall away and perish." It will be an evil thing for you if it should be to you accordingto
your faith! If you have Grace enough to grasp the whole range of blessing which the Covenant of God offers you, then the wholeshall be yours by a covenant of salt. He that thinks he can be off and on with God-saved today and lost tomorrow, and thensaved again-has a comfortless creed to defend and a world of absurdities to meet! You are born again! Suppose that you couldlose the new life which comes by the new birth? What then? I have heard of people being born again, but could they be bornagain, and again, and again? According to the notion of some, certain persons are born again, and again, and again, and again,and again I do not know how many times! There is nothing in Scripture to warrant such a strange idea.
If you, my Friend, will come and cast yourself on Christ and take Him to be your Savior, once and for all, He will save youright now with an everlasting salvation! He says, "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springingup into everlasting life." Jesus, Himself, has said it, "I give unto My sheep, eternal life, and they shall never perish,neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." Believe for this with heroic faith! Believe for eternal salvation in JesusChrist, who is able to work in you a livelong escape from sin! According to your faith, so shall it be.
Oh, no! The devil may say that we are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut us in! But we shall get out of the labyrinthright enough. Is it not written, "Sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under Grace"? Weshall yet sing unto the Lord who has triumphed gloriously. He has thrown our sins and our fears into the sea. So be it! Hallelujah!Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Exodus 13:21,22; 14.