Sermon 2190. Bit and Bridle-How To Escape Them
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 15, 1891,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with My eyes. Beyou not as the horse, oras the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near to you." Psalm 32:8,9.
THE joy of full forgiveness is described in the first two verses of this Psalm-"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity and in whose spirit there is no guile." Oh,the blessedness of sitting at Jesus' feet, a sinner washed in His blood! Outside of Heaven there is no greater joy-and eventhere they sing of blood-washed robes!
After a man is pardoned, anxiety is awakened as to how he shall be kept from sin in the future. The burnt child dreads thefire and, although his burns have all been healed, he dreads the fire none the less, but all the more. These who have beenscorched by sin tremble at even a distant approach to the flame. You will always know whether you are delivered from the guiltof sin by answering this question-Am I delivered from the love of sin? He who lost his way yesterday feels his need of a guidetoday and tomorrow. How can the pardoned one endure the thought of sinning, again, against the Lord? David's great anxietyon this score is met by the gracious answer of the Lord-"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go."
Another thing is noteworthy-David was now rid of guile as well as guilt. Orientals pride themselves on their cunning and David,by nature, had a considerable share of craft about him. But he now drives it from his spirit-he will not, from now on, toleratehimself in deceit. When he had thrown away this false wisdom, this carnal prudence, he felt that he must look elsewhere forguidance. If he is no longer to plot and plan with the cunning which he had shown in the matter of Uriah, he will need otherdirection-and he looks up for it. See how our gracious God comes in with the promise of guidance. "The meek will He guidein judgment: and the meek will He teach His way." "The Lord preserves the simple." The upright, who can no longer trust theirown deceitful hearts, shall find the Lord an all-sufficient Guide. Happy is it for them that He has spoken such a word asthis-"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you
One other observation. We find David, in this Psalm, reaching to a high state of joy on account of his being forgiven. Heexclaims, in the seventh verse, "You shall compass me about with songs of deliverance." A very proper state of mind to bein! It is meet that the pardoned sinner should leap for joy. But, at the same time, the wisdom of God comes in, not to checkthe joy, but to render it more deep, more sure-and to prevent its coming to an untimely end. David is in ecstasies of delight,but he is to be reminded that he is not yet in Heaven, and that he is compassed about with other things besides songs. Thevoice of God commends his joy, but also reminds him that there lies before him a future full of perils and a life strewn withtemptations. He is, from then on, to be a disciple as well as a singer! He needs to be instructed and taught in the way, forhe is still a pilgrim and not yet at his journey's end. Sound the timbrel, if you will, and shout for joy and sing unto theLord, for He has triumphed gloriously! But remember that on the other side of the Red Sea there is a wilderness and you willrequire much Divine Grace to traverse it-such Grace as only the Shepherd of Israel can give you. You will be wise to addressyourselves to your journey and resolve to follow Him whose eyes discern the way, and whose hands can help you in it. A pilgrim'slife is not all feasting. He has something else to do besides praising God upon the high-sounding cymbals. We must sit atJesus' feet, as well as look to His Cross. We are to bear His yoke and learn of Him, that we may find rest for our souls.
This may stand as an introduction, for now I need to conduct you further into this grave business of the saved man. You arepardoned, my Friend, you know you are, and you feel the joy of that knowledge. God grant that your joy may abound yet moreand more! Sitting in your seat this morning, you are saying, "Oh, the heaped-up blessedness of the man whose transgressionis forgiven and whose sin is covered!" Yes, but you are not yet in Heaven! Something more is needed-not to secure the loveof God, not to complete the work of Sovereign Grace-but to educate you for the skies, to make you meet to be a partaker ofthe inheritance of the saints in light! About that matter we are going to talk as the Holy Spirit shall enable us.
That I may set before you, to the fullest, the teaching of the text, I would have you note, first, a privilege to be sought-Divineinstruction, practical teaching and tender guidance. Secondly, a character to be avoided-"Be you not as the horse, or as themule, which have no understanding." This will bring us to consider, thirdly, an infliction to be escaped-"Whose mouth mustbe held in with bit and bridle." If you do not wish to be bitted and bridled, be readily obedient to the direction of yourLord! We will come to a close by reflecting that there is a freedom to be attained. You may be free from bit and bridle andguided by the eyes of God. You may find your way to Heaven without the need of these rough chastisements which compel obedience.Oh, for the help of the great Teacher in this matter!
I. First, here is A PRIVILEGE TO BE SOUGHT. I will proceed at once to set it forth from the words before us.
This guidance is very full in its nature. Three words are used to describe it-"I will instruct you and teach you in the waywhich you shall go: I will guide you with My eyes."
The first word is, "I will instruct you"-a promise more full of meaning than would appear upon its surface. God is preparedto give you an inward understanding of spiritual things, for His instruction is intensely effectual upon the mind. The Lordis prepared to teach you in His Truths-to make you wise in heavenly matters. Though saved, you are, as yet, a mere child,and unfamiliar with great Truths of God. You know but little of Divine things-you know little of yourself, little of yourdanger, little of holiness and little of God-but the Lord promises, here, to take you for His pupil and to be, Himself, yourInstructor! He instructs so effectually as really to build up the mind and, therefore, the Psalmist says, "Through Your preceptsI get understanding." Other instructors can awaken that measure of understanding which is already ours, but God gives understandingto the simple. A good understanding is one of the gifts of His Grace and blessed are they who receive it!
The second word is, "I will teach you." And this teaching is most practical, for the promise is-"I will teach you in the waywhich you shall go." God adds the precept to the doctrine and instructs us in both. Eminently precious is that practical teachingby which you are made to know what to do and how to do it. Theoretical teaching is of small importance compared with thispractical learning. The Lord will teach us the art and mystery of holiness. He will apprentice us to the Lord Jesus as theMaster of Righteousness-he will make us journeymen, one of these days, and turn us into fullblown "workmen that need not tobe ashamed." Our great Teacher sends forth fine workmen, whose good works are seen of men and cause them to glorify the Fatherin Heaven.
The promise of the Lord, in the third word of the verse, goes even further than doctrinal and practical instruction, for weread, "I will guide you with My eyes." Herein is fellowship as well as instruction, for the guide goes with the traveler,and thus will God, in the process of our instruction, give us fellowship with Himself. Blessed are they who follow the Lambwherever He goes-they have both the privilege of holy walk and heavenly company. It is our high privilege that, while ourShepherd goes before us, He calls us by name and we follow closely in His footsteps, as His well-beloved sheep. We are notonly to be told the way and led into the way, but to be accompanied in it by our Teacher and Friend. The education which theLord provides is complete in all its branches-mind, life and heart are all under the Divine tuition! This is no pauper school,or merely preparatory seminary-the text describes a high school of holiness, a grammar school of Grace, a University of holiness!In this place of sacred instruction, you may take high degrees, if you will, and also become teachers of others! He who forgaveyou provides everything for you that you can need to make you a disciple, indeed, a learner who in the ages to come shallmake known to angels and principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God! Who would not be a scholar in such a Universityas this?
Note, next, that this teaching is Divine in its source. See how it runs-"I will instruct you." How delightful! "I will instructyou: I will guide you with My eyes." The Lord will not put us in a low class, where some half-instructed usher or pupil-teachershall look after us. No, we shall, all of us, be taught by the Lord Jesus, Himself, and His Holy Spirit! It is
written, "I will instruct you: I will guide you." Our Lord may instruct us by men who are taught of Himself, but, after all,the best of His servants cannot teach us anything profitably except the Lord, Himself, teaches by them and through them! Healone teaches us to profit. What a wonderful condescension it is that the Lord should become a Teacher! Sunday school teachers,adore the Head of your sacred college, even God Himself! "I will teach you, I will instruct you." They are well taught thatare taught of God and this privilege is common to all the family of love, for the Scripture says, "All your children shallbe taught of the Lord." It is not said that a portion of them shall be left to be trained by angels or archangels, but theyshall all be taught of the Lord! Jehovah, Himself, will be the Instructor of every soul that comes to Him through Jesus Christ!
Observe how wonderfully personal is this promised guidance. While the address in the ninth verse is in the plural, "Be younot as the horse, or as the mule," the promise is in the singular to each individual-"I will instruct you and teach you inthe way which you shall go; I will guide you with My eyes." Wonder of wonders, the Infinite focuses Himself upon the insignificant!We who are less than the motes in the sunbeam, are, nevertheless, individually considered by Him who fills all in all, whois greater than all that He fills! "I will instruct you." Yes, Jehovah will condescend to instruct that Believer who is feeblestof all the company. Rejoice, my Brothers and Sisters, that though your understanding is a commonplace one, and though yourposition is very obscure, yet the Lord does not say, "I will send you to a preparatory school kept by some inferior teacher."But He does say, "I will instruct you." God instructs each Believer as truly as if He were His only child. It is delightfulto reflect that while Christ's death has a sufficient efficacy in it to save a believing world, yet if His design had beento save only me, He would have to have offered the same Sacrifice as He has done. His death would have been necessary to provethat "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." So, while our Lord's teaching would suffice to instruct myriads of men who arewilling to learn, yet does He condescend to bring all His teaching to bear upon each single person-"I will instruct you andteach you in the way which you shall go." I note with comfort, in the text, what the French call tu-toi-age. Speaking to oneanother very familiarly, they say, "you" and, "you." How sweetly is this seen in this passage-"I will instruct you and teachyou in the way which you shall go. I will guide you with My eyes"! Hear you not the great Father talking to His dear child?Yes, I hear Him speaking to you and to me! Blessed be His name for such familiar love! Let us profit by its promise even tothe fullest.
Furthermore, this teaching is delightfully tender-"I will guide you with My eyes." That is to say, if you are willing to beso directed, the Lord will guide you, not by the rough means of bit and bridle, muzzle and cord, but with His eyes-a way whichimplies understanding on your part and love on His part. It is a recognition of confidence in us when He promises, thus, toguide us. The mistress at the head of the table gives a nod to Sarah. She knows what it means and the will of the lady isdone at once. The master has not to enter into details with old John, who has been with him for so many years. John knowshis wishes and a wink or a look will speak volumes! Well-trained children of God have their faces toward Him and soon perceiveHis mind-and this secures their prompt obedience. They see much in little and they make great account of every Word of theLord. When we are what we ought to be, the guidance of the Lord is not sent us in thunder, but in a still small voice! AndHis instruction comes, not in tempests and hailstones, but in sunbeams and dewdrops. Some saints can be effectually led witha thread of hair. Cords of love and bands of a man are at once the most tender and the strongest bonds for a sanctified soul."I will guide you with My eyes" is a charming promise, but it is of no use to the blind, the stubborn, the careless, or theself-willed. What a pity that any should debar themselves from so choice a privilege!
See, dear Friends, you that have been lately pardoned, and you, of older years, who have long been forgiven, see what guidancethere is for you all the way from your starting point to the gate of pearl at the end of the road! I say this because I meanto wind up this point with the remark-This teaching is constant. "I will instruct you and teach you; I will guide you." Hethat has begun to guide will not suddenly desert! He that has commenced to teach you will never dismiss you from His class!He that has, in a measure, instructed you and given you an understanding, will continue to teach you until He has perfectedyou in the knowledge of Himself and conformed you to the image of His Son! I feel most happy to think that such a privilegeis promised and provided. I have heard of some who dream that, once forgiven, they may live as they wish-but to such I wouldsay, "You know nothing about the matter. You are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity." The man who believesin Jesus for salvation, believes in Him so as to be set free from his sins-and his great anxiety is to be saved from all iniquityand to be led in the ways of righteousness to the glory of God!
Here is comfort for you that are really seeking a holy life-God has made provision for your being led in it! He who has madeyou His child will put you in school and teach you until you shall know the Lord Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life!You shall soon know your Father's name and Character and sing unto His praise among the bright intelligences that surroundHis Throne!
II. I now ask your attention while I show you A CHARACTER TO BE AVOIDED. We are told that since the Lord is ready to instructus, we are not to be stubborn and wayward. It is ours to be docile and obedient. "Be you not as the horse, or as the mule,which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near to you."
We are not to imitate creatures of which we are the superiors. Man is made to have dominion over the horse, the mule and thewhole animal creation-let him not seek his models among his servants. I have sometimes heard speeches which have looked inthat unwise direction. One said, in my hearing, as an excuse for a passionate speech, "I could not help it. If you tread ona worm it will turn." Is a worm to be the example for a saint? By a worm in that case, I suppose, is meant a serpent-and areyou to follow serpents in their malice and venom? I have heard the same thing turned the other way- and it has been made toappear as if an animal might be all the worse for copying a man. The driver of an omnibus was using his whip pretty freelyupon one of his horses, and a gentleman sitting on the box-seat observed, "You never strike the horse on this side." "Blessyou!" said the driver, "if I were to touch that mare, when I went near her in the stable at night, she would kick me likea Christian!" What a remarkable simile, was it not? "Like a Christian!" Is that so, that Christians kick? That Christiansare found taking revenge? Here is a matter about which we would urgently cry, "Be you not as the horse, or as the mule." Neverrender evil for evil, railing for railing, for that is to copy the beasts of the field! Let us look upward to the highestfor our model and never go down to the beasts of the field for models.
We must mind that we do not imitate creatures to whom we are so near akin. The mule has a touch of the ass in it and I fearit is not the only creature of which this may be said. Is not man, as unredeemed, likened to the ass in the types of the MosaicLaw? Ah, Brothers and Sisters, we are likened in Scripture to many strange beasts, and not without reason! St. Augustine andother ancient writers discuss, at length, the likeness which exists between men and mules. I am not going to follow them intheir observations, but would simply say with Dr. Donne, "They have gone far in these illusions and applications. And theymight have gone as far further as it had pleased them-they have sea-room enough that will compare a beast and a sinner together-andthey shall find many times, in the way, the beast the better man." I am afraid that it is so. David himself says, "So foolishwas I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before You"-and yet he was so good a man that he could add, "Nevertheless I am continuallywith You." A large part of us is animal and its tendency is to drag down that part which is more than angelic. How abjectand yet how august is man! Brother to the worm and yet akin to Deity! Immortal and yet a child of dust! Be not the prey ofyour lower natures-as children of God, yield not yourselves to that which it is your duty to subdue! Have the horse and mulein subjection-keep under your body-do not bear the burden of the animal but make the animal your burden-bearer. "Be you notas the horse, or as the mule," but rise superior to flesh and blood. May the Spirit of the Lord help your infirmities in thismatter!
I believe the Psalmist here alludes to the horse and mule as creatures naturally wild and needing to be broken and trained.We are by nature as the wild ass that inhales the wind of the wilderness-"he scorns the multitude of the city, neither regardshe the crying of the driver." These wild creatures we can make nothing of till we break them in-be not like they-useless,untrained, unbroken. Yet this is how we begin life naturally and spiritually. It is good to get broken in early in life-"itis good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth." It is an ill thing for a man to have no restraint in youth and no troublein manhood. When men and women follow out their own sweet wills, the end is seven-fold bitterness. A mind uncorrected is avine unpruned, which yields no fruit, but trails along the ground and rots as it trails. It is a grand thing to learn themeaning of the word, "obey." It is ill with these who remain unsubdued. They are of little worth to themselves or to others.The Holy Spirit would not have any of the Lord's people to be of that wild, untamable character, for which there is neitheruse nor hope.
Furthermore, we are not to imitate creatures devoid of reason. "Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding."He especially lays stress on this-that they are without understanding. What does he mean by that? Horses and mules have beenso trained that they have needed neither bit nor bridle and have performed marvelous feats at a word. It is possible for theseanimals to be brought to so high a training that they obey the word of command without
the use of force. They come to have an understanding of their owner's intent and act as if they really entered into theirmaster's designs. With the horses and mules of our streets-and of David's day-this is not the case. These display little understandingand we are not to be like they. You are a reasoning man-act reasonably! You have understanding-do not act under mere impulse,blind willfulness, or ignorant folly. Here is the point, Brothers and Sisters-what we need is to come to an understandingwith God and to stay in that condition. The horse does not understand his driver's wishes, except as he intimates them throughthe bit and bridle. When he is to turn, when he is to quicken his pace and when he is to stand still, he must be told throughthe rein, for, apart from the bit in his mouth, he has no understanding of the man's mind.
That thought which works in the mind of his driver is not working in the mule's mind and, therefore, he has to feel a pullat his mouth to make him know his master's desire. We need to come to an understanding with God. "Be you not unwise, but understandingwhat the will of the Lord is." Be sensitive to the Spirit of God! So dwell in God that He shall dwell in you and His indwellingshall cause you to feel at once what it is that He would have you to do. May your will be so in accord with the Lord's willthat you will only what He wills! This is the highest form of understanding that I know of-may we never rest till we haveit. "Give me understanding and I shall keep Your Law." You know how we say, "I should like to come to some understanding withthat man," for you feel that without it your relations are unsatisfactory. When two friends really understand each other'spurpose and enter into each other's design, then they act as if they were one. Be you so near to God in heart that you canbe guided with His eyes because you understand the mind of your heavenly Father and are in full sympathy with Him!
But the Psalmist also adds, concerning the horse and the mule, that having no understanding, they are creatures with muchself-will and waywardness. "Their mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near to you." If you look at theRevised Version, you will find it is, "else they will not come near to you." And Calvin has it, "lest they kick at you." Thisis a very obscure passage as to the words, but it is not at all doubtful as to its sense, for the point is that the animalwill not do what it should do, but it will obstinately do what it ought not to do-until it gets the bit in its mouth to compelit to do its master's will. So is it with ourselves, but so it should not be! At one time we find men rashly rushing nearto God-they have no reverence, no holy trembling and awe. Some appear to be as familiar with God as if He were one of them.Thus the Lord complains in the Psalm, "You thought that I was altogether such an one as yourself." Such vain people need abit, lest they come near to God. They need to hear the voice which cries, "Draw not near here: put off your shoes from offyour feet." Oh, for more holy reverence!
Others will not come near to God at all and need a bit because they run off from the Lord into infidelity, blasphemy, or openvice. These endeavor to carry out their own wild wills, throwing up their heels as they please, and prancing over hill andplain with a defiant contempt of rule and order. We know that kind of people-let us not in any measure grow like they. Thereare horses and mules that will kick, bite, and do grievous harm to these round about them unless they are restrained withstraps and harness. I am afraid I know some kicking saints as well as kicking sinners and I am more afraid of these kickingprofessors than of the outwardly wicked. I would sooner be bitten by a wolf than by a sheep, that is to say, I could morereadily bear injury from an ungodly man than from a professed Believer. A kick from a Christian causes very serious woundingto a gracious heart. "It was not an enemy: then I could have borne it." Remember the question and answer-"What are these woundsin your hands? Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." These are wounds, indeed, which our Lord receivesfrom a traitorous disciple. "Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lestthey kick at you." Kick not at the will of your Lord! Kick not at the doctrines of His Word. Kick not at the precepts of Hishouse. Kick not at His servants. Kick not at His Providences. Kick not at His Cross. Surely, I need not further urge you toavoid this unlovely character. None of you would wish to be as the horse, or as the mule.
III. I will now dwell for a few minutes upon AN INFLICTION TO BE ESCAPED. If you mean to be like the horse or the mule, youmay readily be so, but you will have to pay the penalty. If the Lord means to save you, He will use a bit and a bridle uponyou, if you render them necessary by your willfulness. If you will be guided by His eyes, there will be no need for such sternwork-but if you are stubborn, He will not spare you.
I may say of this bit and bridle, that such trappings are a curb upon freedom. A man would not endure to go about wearinga bit and a bridle, yet many a child of God is in that condition spiritually because he is not subdued to the will of
the Lord. Because he is not tender of conscience, because he is frequently disobedient, because he does not carry out hisLord's will, he has to suffer severe discipline and labor under serious disadvantage. If the man were willingly obedient tothe Divine will, things would go more happily with him.
The bit is not applied unless it is found necessary, but it will be applied if necessary. My text says, "Whose mouth mustbe held in with bit and bridle. Mark that, "must." That must arises out of the nature of the creature dealt with. Some men,if they are to go to Heaven, must be poor on the road, or must be sick, or must be defeated, or must be misunder-stood-notbecause there is any real necessity, apart from their obstinate, cross-grained nature-but because they, themselves, renderit necessary. God is resolved to save them and, therefore, he will drive them to salvation with bit and bridle rather thanleave them free to rush downward to Hell through the indulgence of their own passions and ambitions!
Dear Friends, what a wretched descent is this from being guided by God's eyes! In the first case we have an intelligent servantso in accord with his Lord that a look suffices to set him running in the way of obedience. And in the second case we havean avowedly Christian man so out of accord with God that he has to be treated like a mule which will only yield under compulsionand only obey as it is made to smart! I do not know, dear Brothers and Sisters, if this description applies to any of you,but if it does, kindly take it home-and if I seem to be personal to you-well, I intend to be personal and, therefore, I darenot apologize. I am afraid that many of us ought to make it more personal to ourselves than we are likely to do. There isa hair of the mule's tail in every one of us!
"Be you not as the horse, or as the mule," or you shall have your mouth held in with bit and bridle. That is always a veryunpleasant matter. It is not comfortable, even to a mule, to wear bit and bridle, and it certainly must be very unpleasantto a man. I have known Brothers and Sisters whom God could not use in the conversion of many souls, for they could not bearprosperity. The Lord did bless the preacher, once, and he grew so great in his own esteem that he was not bearable to thesearound him. For the man's own sake the good Lord saw that it was not safe to let him be useful. Here is a man who formerlysucceeded in business, but he grew so worldly, so purse-proud, so forgetful of God, that it was necessary to take his wealthaway from him! And it has been done-and now he is devout and lowly.
Another man, when he is in health and strength, is so full of levity and carelessness that he plays the fool. And, in orderto keep him right, it is necessary to let him have a sluggish liver, or an aching head, or a sick home, or something elsewhich may sober him. My Friend, if God means to get you to Heaven, He will lead you there gently if you will freely go. Butif you are obstinate and hard, He will thrust the bit between your jaws and drive you there. The less willfulness the lessharness, but if need be, you shall wear all the paraphernalia of an unquiet horse, for the great Trainer will have the upperhand of you and thus He will save you! The Lord would be glad for you to go without these disagreeable things, but if youwill have them, you shall have them.
I know a person who is always grumbling and I do not wonder that he always seems to have cause for it. It is like the childthat I heard crying and its mother said to it, "Hold your tongue! If you cry for nothing, I will soon give you something tocry for." Many a child of God has found something to cry for as the result of wanton murmuring. Some Hearers even go to theHouse of God and complain that the preacher says this, and does not say that, and omits the other. Before long the Lord removesthe preacher they complained of and they have nobody to feed their souls-and then they begin to wish they had the old preacherback again! Well, well, if you make rods for your backs, God will use them upon you! It is His custom not to let anythinglie idle in His House. So, if you are busy making a rod, He will be busy in putting it to its proper use.
But all this is unnatural to the child of God. Your children do not go about your house with bits in their mouths and bridleson their heads. God would not have his own regenerated ones going up and down in the world all bitted and bri-dled-but itshall be so sooner than they shall be lost! Disobedience is ruin-from that He must deliver His people. If we take delightin holiness, we shall not need rough usage. Here is the sweet alternative-"I will instruct you and teach you in the way whichyou shall go: I will guide you with My eyes." This is God's way! Oh that it may be our way! May the good Spirit lead us intoit! Do not drive your Savior to be stern with you. Do not choose the way of hardness-the brutish way, the mulish way. "Beyou not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding," for then you will become sad, gloomy, dull, stupid andfull of disquietude. It is essential that your iniquities should be subdued and they shall be. He will save you-save you fromrebellion, save you from self-seeking and self-will. He will bend you to His holy will.
And if it cannot come to pass anyway else-then the bit and the bridle shall conquer you! O Souls, submit yourselves to God.Vex not His Holy Spirit by hardness of heart.
IV. Now I close by noticing A FREEDOM TO BE ATTAINED. There are children of God who wear no bit or bri-dle-the Lord has loosedtheir bonds. To them, obedience is delight-they keep His commands with their whole heart. The Son has made them free and theyare free, indeed!
They are free, first, because they are in touch with God. God's will is their will. They answer to the Lord as the echo tothe voice. Happy is he who can say, "Whatever You desire, O my Lord, I would desire it because You desire it." Then is itsafe for the Lord to leave the man free from compulsion. It is written, "Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall giveyou the desires of your heart." This large liberty can only be promised to these whose desires are in accordance with theirheavenly delight. When the desires run towards God with delight, they shall surely be granted. When you and God have cometo a good, clear understanding with each other, so that you yield to Him in all things. Then He will hear your prayers andgive you the blessing which makes rich and adds no sorrow. When you rejoice in Christ Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased,then will the Lord be pleased with you! When you cry to Him in the day of trouble, coming to the Mercy Seat, where He delightsto dwell, then He will meet with you and lift up the light of His Countenance upon you.
You shall be free, next, because you are tutored. The Lord cannot trust our wild nature-He gives freedom where He gives HisSpirit-"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." How does our Lord put it?-"Take My yoke upon you, and learn ofMe; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls." He gives rest through His blood. He makesyou find rest through learning of Him and bearing His yoke. It is only a horse that has been long taught and trained by greatskill that can be trusted to go through a performance without bit or bridle. I sometimes hope there will come a day when thesewho drive horses will not need to carry whips, because the noble animals have been so trained by kindness as to answer toa word. I fear that time is a long way off but I have greater hope of you, beloved Brothers and Sisters, that you will beso trained that no constraint but that of the love of Christ will be needed to be put upon you. The Law was not made for arighteous man. I hope we shall not need Church discipline, or Providential discipline, because we have been trained to joyful,watchful, exact obedience. Oh, that it were so! Teach me, O Lord! Teach me Your way. Show me what You would have me to do.Make me to know the perfect love which casts out fear. When we are thus instructed, the Lord will leave us by His sweet Graceto be encompassed about by mercy and to be guided by His eyes.
We shall be free, again, because always trusting. Look at the 10th verse-"He that trusts in the Lord, mercy shall compasshim about." Faith gives life and more faith gives light and liberty. When we completely trust in God, we shall do His willcompletely. When we raise no questions with God-when our reliance upon Him is without reserve; when we know by faith thatHis will and way for us are perfect-then we shall run in the way of His Commandments because He has enlarged our steps. Whenwe have received life more abundantly through a growing faith, it will be safe for our Lord to take away all bits and bridles-butnot till then. When, through Grace, faith has triumphantly mastered our whole being, we shall be victorious over the law ofsin and death which dwells in our members and tends to unrighteousness. And then shall the yoke be taken away and the burdenbe removed. Blessed freedom this!
Especially free because tender. "Be you not as the horse, or as the mule"-these are thick of skin, tough of mouth- and sothey are mastered by hard means. If we become as tender as the apple of an eye, God will guide us with His eyes. If we avoideven the appearance of evil and shun every false way with delicate sensitiveness of mind, we shall hear little about bitsand bridles and the many other sorrows which shall be to the wicked. Ah, dear Brothers and Sisters, what a difference thereis between one man and another even in the same Church, holding the same faith! One Christian man needs repeated and urgentwarnings, while another is distressed with half a word of admonition! It is hard to stir one to generosity, or to any exertionin the Lord's cause, while another is earnest at once. Love works more in some than fear can produce in others. We have touse strong arguments and sharp cuts of the whip with certain sluggish minds, while others are all sensitiveness and take tothemselves censures which were never meant for them.
Oh for a tender heart! May the heart of stone be taken away and a heart of flesh be granted! May we be to the Lord's willas sensitive as the mercury to air and heat! The wave is flowing and a cork upon the water is carried wherever the currentmoves. That same wave merely ripples at the side of a man-of-war-it does not stir in the least degree. Saintly souls feelthe ripples of the Holy Spirit, while self-sufficient professors know nothing of anything less than a tornado!
Crave as a choice gift the renewal of a right spirit within you and that right spirit will be eminently tender and pliantto the will of the Lord. My Brothers and Sisters, my longing is that you and I may stand with our faces towards the Lord,watching for the faintest indications of the Divine will. May we be humble, teachable and mild! May our soul be even as aweaned child!
All this will lead to high joy. See how the Psalm ends, "Shout for joy, all you that are upright in heart"! When the bit istaken from the mouth, the tongue will show forth the praises of the Lord! When the bridle is gone, the mouth is free to singto the Most High! If the heart is well adjusted, there will be music in the life. When we follow the Lord's guidance withalacrity, peace shall be our companion-and joy shall hover over us like a guardian angel! This world will be the vestibuleof Heaven when we begin, even now, to rehearse that perfect obedience which is the essential condition of bliss. Beloved,all this the Holy Spirit must work in our hearts, or it will never be there. Cry to Him for it in the name of Jesus, and theLord will give you an answer of peace!
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 32.