Sermon 2195. The Obedience of Faith
A SERMON DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 21, 1890,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; andhe went out, not knowing where he went." Hebrews 11:8.
THE part of the text to which I shall call your attention lies in these words, "By faith Abraham obeyed.''" Obedience-whata blessing it would be if we were all trained to it by the Holy Spirit! How fully should we be restored if we were perfectin it! If all the world would obey the Lord, what a Heaven on earth there would be! Perfect obedience to God would mean loveamong men, justice to all classes and peace in every land! Our will brings envy, malice, war-but the Lord's will would bringus love, joy, rest, bliss. Obedience-let us pray for it for ourselves and others!-
"Is there a heart that will not bend
To Your Divine control?
Descend, O Sovereign Love, descend,
And melt that stubborn soul."
Surely, though we have had to mourn our disobedience with many tears and sighs, we now find joy in yielding ourselves as servantsof the Lord-our deepest desire is to do the Lord's will in all things. Oh, for obedience! It has been supposed by many ill-instructedpeople that the Doctrine of Justification by Faith is opposed to the teaching of good works, or obedience. There is no truthin the supposition! We preach the obedience of faith. Faith is the fountain, the foundation and the fosterer of obedience!Men will not obey God till they believe Him. We preach faith in order that men may be brought to obedience. To disbelieveis to disobey! One of the first signs of practical obedience is found in the obedience of the mind, the understanding andthe heart-and this is expressed in believing the teaching of Christ, trusting to His work and resting in His salvation.
Faith is the morning star of obedience. If we would work the work of God, we must believe on Jesus Christ whom He has sent.Brothers and Sisters, we do not give a secondary place to obedience, as some suppose. We look upon the obedience of the heartto the will of God as salvation! The attainment of perfect obedience would mean perfect salvation. We regard sanctification,or obedience, as the great design for which the Savior died. He shed His blood that He might cleanse us from dead works andpurify unto Himself a people zealous for good works. It is for this that we were chosen- we are "elect unto holiness." Weknow nothing of election to continue in sin! It is for this that we have been called-we are "called to be saints." Obedienceis the grand objective of the work of Divine Grace in the hearts of those who are chosen and called-they are to become obedientchildren-conformed to the image of the Elder Brother, with whom the Father is well pleased.
The obedience that comes of faith is of a noble sort. The obedience of a slave ranks a little higher than the obedience ofa well-trained horse or dog, for it is tuned to the crack of the whip. Obedience which is not cheerfully rendered is not theobedience of the heart and, consequently, is of little worth before God. If the man obeys because he has no opportunity ofdoing otherwise and if, were he free, he would at once become a rebel-there is nothing in his obedience. The obedience offaith springs from a principle within and not from compulsion without. It is sustained by the mind's soberest reasoning andthe heart's warmest passion. The man reasons with himself that he ought to obey his Redeemer, his Father, his God and, atthe same time, the love of Christ constrains him to do so, and thus, what argument suggests affection, performs!
A sense of great obligation, an apprehension of the fitness of obedience and spiritual renewal of heart work an obediencewhich becomes essential to the sanctified soul. Therefore, it is not relaxed in the time of temptation, nor destroyed in
the hour of losses and sufferings. Life has no trial which can turn the gracious soul from its passion for obedience! Death,itself, does but enable it to render an obedience which shall be as blissful as it will be complete. Yes, this is a chiefingredient of Heaven-that we shall see the face of our Lord and serve Him day and night in His Temple. Meanwhile, the morefully we obey at this present, the nearer we shall be to His Temple gate. May the Holy Spirit work in us, so that, by faith-likeAbraham-we may obey!
I preach to you, at this time, obedience-absolute obedience to the Lord God! But I preach the obedience of a child, not theobedience of a slave; the obedience of love, not of terror; the obedience of faith, not of dread. I shall urge you, as Godshall help me, in order that you may come to this obedience, that you should seek after stronger faith-"For by faith Abrahamobeyed." In every case where the father of the faithful obeyed, it was the result of his faith-and in every case in whichyou and I shall render true obedience-it will be the product of our faith. Obedience, such as God can accept, never comesout of a heart which thinks God a liar, but is worked in us by the Spirit of the Lord, through our believing in the Truth,Love and Grace of our God in Christ Jesus. If any of you are now disobedient, or have been so, the road to a better stateof things is trust in God. You cannot hope to render obedience by the mere forging of conduct into a certain groove, or bya personal, unaided effort of the resolution. There is a Free-Grace road to obedience and that is receiving, by faith, theLord Jesus who is the Gift of God and is made of God unto us, sanctification.
We accept the Lord Jesus by faith and He teaches us obedience and creates it in us. The more of faith in Him you have, themore of obedience to Him will you manifest. I was about to say that that obedience naturally flows out of faith-and I wouldnot have spoken amiss-for as a man believes so is he-and, in proportion to the strength and purity of his faith in God, asHe is revealed in Christ Jesus, will be the holy obedience of his life. That our meditation may be profitable, we will firstthink a little of the kind offaith which produces obedience. And then, secondly, we will treat of the kind of obedience whichfaith produces. And then we will advance another step and consider the kind of life which comes out of this faith and obedience.
I will be as brief as I can upon each point. Let us look up to the Holy Spirit for His gracious illumination.
I. First, consider THE KIND OF FAITH WHICH PRODUCES OBEDIENCE.
It is, manifestly, faith in God as having the right to command our obedience. Beloved in the Lord, you know that He is Sovereignand that His will is law. You feel that God, your Maker, your Preserver, your Redeemer and your Father should have your unswervingservice. We unite, also, in confessing that we are not our own, we are bought with a price. The Lord our God has a right tous which we would not wish to question. He has a greater claim upon our ardent service than He has upon the services of angels,for, while they were created as we have been, yet they have never been redeemed by precious blood! Our glorious IncarnateGod has an unquestioned right to every breath we breathe, to every thought we think, to every moment of our lives and to everycapacity of our being! We believe in Jehovah as rightful Lawgiver and, as most fitly, our Ruler. This loyalty of our mindis based on faith and is a chief prompter to obedience. Always cultivate this feeling. The Lord is our Father, but He is,"our Father which are in Heaven." He draws near to us in condescension, but it is condescension and we must not presume tothink of Him as though He were such a one as ourselves. There is a holy familiarity with God which cannot be too much enjoyed,but there is a flippant familiarity with God which cannot be too much abhorred! The Lord is King. His will is not to be questioned.His every Word is Law. Let us never question His Sovereign right to decree what He pleases and to fulfill the decree-to commandwhat He pleases and to punish every shortcoming. Because we have faith in God as Lord of All, we gladly pay Him our homageand desire in all things to say, "Your will be done in earth, as it is done in Heaven."
Next, we must have faith in the rightness of all that God says or does. I hope, Beloved, you do not think of God's Sovereigntyas tyranny or imagine that He ever could or would will anything but that which is right. Neither will we admit into our mindsa suspicion of the incorrectness of the Word of God in any matter whatever, as though the Lord, Himself, could err. We willnot have it that God, in His Holy Book, makes mistakes about matters of history, or of science, any more than He does uponthe great Truths of salvation! If the Lord is God, He must be Infallible! And if He can be described as in error in the littlerespects of human history and science, He cannot be trusted in the greater matters!
My Brothers and Sisters, Jehovah never errs in deed, or in Word-and when you find His Law written either in the Ten Commandments,or anywhere else, you believe that there is not a precept too many, or too few. Whatever may be the precepts of the Law, orof the Gospel, they are, altogether, pure and holy. The Words of the Lord are like fine gold-
pure, precious, and weighty-not one of them may be neglected! We hear people talk about, "minor points," and so on, but wemust not consider any Word of our God as a minor thing, if by that expression is implied that it is of small importance. Wemust accept every single Word of precept, or prohibition, or instruction as being what it ought to be-and neither to be diminishednor increased. We should not reason about a command of God as though it might be set aside or amended. He bids-we obey. Maywe enter into that true spirit of obedience which is the unshaken belief that the Lord is right! Nothing short of this isthe obedience of the inner man-the obedience which the Lord desires.
Furthermore, we must have faith in the Lord's call upon us to obey. Abraham went out from his father's house because he feltthat whatever God said to others, He had spoken to him, and said, "Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, andfrom your father's house." Whatever the Lord may have said to the Chaldeans, or to other families in Ur, Abraham was not somuch concerned with that as with the special word of command which the Lord had sent to his own soul. Oh, that we were, mostof all, earnest to render personal obedience! It is very easy to offer unto God a sort of "other people's obedience"-to fancythat we are serving God when we are finding fault with our neighbors and lamenting that they are not so godly as they oughtto be!
Truly, we cannot help seeing their shortcomings, but we should do well to be less observant of them than we are. Let us turnour magnifying glasses upon ourselves. It is not so much our business to be weeding other people's gardens as to keep ourown vineyard. To the Lord each one should cry, "Lord, what will You have me to do?" We, who are His chosen, redeemed fromamong men, called out from the rest of mankind, ought to feel that if no other ears hear the Divine call, our ears must hearit and, if no other heart obeys, our soul rejoices to do so. We are bound with cords to the horns of the Altar! The strongestties of gratitude hold us to the service of Jesus-we must be obedient in life to Him who, for our sakes, was obedient untodeath. Our service to our Lord is freedom-we will to yield to His will! To delight Him is our delight! It is a blessed thingwhen the inmost nature yearns to obey God; when obedience grows into a habit and becomes the very element in which the spiritbreathes. Surely it should be so with every one of the blood-washed children of the Host High-and their lives will prove thatit is so. Others are bound to obey, but we should attend most to our own personal obligation and set our own houses in order.Our obedience should begin at home-it will find its hands full enough there.
Obedience arises out of a faith which is to us the paramount principle of action. The kind of faith which produces obedienceis lord of the understanding, a royal faith. The true Believer believes in God beyond all his belief in anything else andeverything else. He can say, "Let God be true, but every man a liar." His faith in God has become to him the crown of allhis believing, the most assured of all his confidences. As gold is to the inferior metals, such is our trust in God to allour other trusts. To the genuine Believer, the eternal is as much above the temporal as the heavens are above the earth. TheInfinite rolls, like Noah's flood, over the tops of the hills of the present and the finite. To the Believer, let a Truthof God be tinctured with the Glory of God and he values it. But if God and eternity are not there, he will leave these triflesto those who choose them. You must have a paramount faith in God, or else the will of God will not be a paramount rule toyou.
Only a reigning faith will make us subject to its power, so as to be in all things obedient to the Lord. The chief thoughtin life with the true Believer is, "How can I obey God?" His great anxiety is to do the will of God, or acceptably to sufferthat will. And if he can obey, he will make no terms with God and stand upon no reservations. He will pray, "Refine me fromthe dross of rebellion and let the furnace be as fierce as You will." His choice is neither wealth, nor ease, nor honor, butthat he may glorify God in his body and his spirit, which are the Lord's. Obedience has become as much his rule as self-willis the rule of others. His cry unto the Lord is, "By Your command I stay or go. Your will is my will. Your pleasure is mypleasure. Your Law is my love."
God grant us a supreme, over-mastering faith, for this is the kind of faith which we must have if we are to lead obedientlives! We must have faith in God's right to rule, faith in the rightness of His commands, faith in our personal obligationto obey and faith that the command must be the paramount authority of our being. With this faith of God's elect, we shallrealize the object of our election-namely, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
Dear Friend, have you this kind of faith? I will withdraw the question as directed to you-and I will ask it of myself-HaveI that faith which leads me to obey my God? Obedience, if it is of the kind we are speaking of, is faith in action-faith walkingwith God, or, shall I say, walking before the Lord in the land of the living? If we have a faith which
is greedy in hearing, severe in judging and rapid in self-congratulation, but not inclined to obedience, we have the faithof hypocrites. If our faith enables us to set ourselves up as patterns of sound doctrine-and qualifies us to crack the headsof all who differ from us-and yet lacks the fruit of obedience, it will leave us among the "dogs" who are "without." The faiththat makes us obey is the only faith which marks the children of God. It is better to have the faith that obeys than the faithwhich moves mountains. I would sooner have the faith which obeys than the faith which heaps the altar of God with sacrificesand perfumes His courts with incense. I would rather obey God than rule an empire, for, after all, the loftiest sovereigntya soul can inherit is to have dominion over self by rendering believing obedience to the Most High.
Thus much upon faith. "By faith Abraham obeyed." And only by faith can you and I obey.
II. Let us consider, secondly, THE KIND OF OBEDIENCE WHICH FAITH PRODUCES. This I shall illustrate from the whole of the verse.
Genuine faith in God creates a prompt obedience. "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed." There was an immediate responseto the command. Delayed obedience is disobedience! I wish some Christians, who put off duty, would remember this. Continueddelay of duty is a continuous sin. If I do not obey the Divine Command, I sin-and every moment that I continue in that condition-Irepeat the sin. This is a serious matter. If a certain act is my duty at this hour and I leave it undone, I have sinned. Butit will be equally incumbent upon me during the next hour-and if I still refuse, I disobey again-and so on till I do obey.Neglect of a standing command must grow very grievous if it is persisted in for years. In proportion as the conscience becomescallous upon the subject, the guilt becomes the more provoking to the Lord! To refuse to do right is a great evil, but tocontinue in that refusal till conscience grows numb upon the matter is far worse.
I remember a person coming to be baptized, who said that he had been a Believer in the Lord Jesus for 40 years and that hehad always seen the ordinance to be Scriptural. I felt grieved that he had so long been disobedient to a known duty and Iproposed to him that he should be baptized at once. It was in a village and he said that there were no conveniences. I offeredto go with him to the brook and baptize him, but he said, "No, he that believes shall not make haste." Here was one who hadwillfully disobeyed his Lord-for as many years as the Israelites in the wilderness, upon a matter so easy of performance andyet, after confessing his fault, he was not willing to amend it, but perverted a passage of Scripture to excuse him in furtherdelay! David says, "I made haste and delayed not to keep Your Commandments." I give this case as a typical illustration-thereare a hundred spiritual, moral, domestic, business and religious duties which men put off in the same manner-as if they thoughtthat any time would do for God and He must take His turn with the rest.
What would you say to your boy if you bade him go upon an errand and he answered you, "I will go tomorrow"? Surely you would"morrow" him in a style which would abide upon his memory! Your tone would be sharp and you would bid him go at once. If he,then, promised to run in an hour's time, would you call that obedience? It would be impudence! Obedience is for the presenttense-it must be prompt, or it is nothing. Obedience respects the time of the command as much as any other part of it. Tohesitate is to be disloyal. To stop and consider whether you will obey or not is rebellion in the germ! If you believe inthe living God unto eternal life, you will be quick to do your Lord's bidding, even as a maid hearkens to her mistress. Youwill not be as the horse, which needs whip and spur-your love will do more for you than compulsion could do for slaves. Youwill have wings to your heels to hasten you along the way of obedience. "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not yourhearts."
Next, obedience should be exact. Even Abraham's obedience failed somewhat in this, at first, for he started at once from Urof the Chaldees, but he only went as far as Haran, and there he stayed till his father died. And then the precept came tohim again and he set off for the land which the Lord had promised to show him. If any of you have only half obeyed, I praythat you may take heed of this-and do all that the Lord commands-carefully endeavoring to keep back no part of the revenueof obedience.
Yet the error of the great Patriarch was soon corrected, for we read that, "Abraham, when he was called to go out... wentout." I have only omitted intermediate words which do not alter the sense-and that is exactly how we should obey. That whichthe Lord commands we should do-just that, and not another thing of our own devising. How very curiously people try to giveGod something else instead of what He asks for! The Lord says, "My son, give Me your heart," and they give Him ceremonies!He asks obedience of them and they give Him will-worship. He asks for faith, love and
justice-and they offer 10,000 rivers of oil and the fat of fed beasts. They will give all except the one thing which He willbe pleased with! "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." If the Lord has given you true faithin Himself, you will be anxious not so much to do a notable thing as to do exactly what God would have you to do. Mind yourjots and tittles with the Lord's precepts. Attention to little things is a fine feature in obedience-it lies much more asto its essence in the little things than in the great ones. Few dare rush into great crimes and yet they will indulge in secretrebellion, for their heart is not right with God. Hence so many mar what they call obedience by forgetting that they servea heart-searching, rein-trying God who observes thoughts and motives. He would have us obey Him with the heart and that willlead us not merely to regard a few pleasing commands, but to have respect unto all His will. Oh, for a tender conscience whichwill not willfully neglect, nor presumptuously transgress!
And next, mark well that Abraham rendered practical obedience. When the Lord commanded Abraham to quit his father's house,he did not say that he would think it over. He did not discuss it pro and con in an essay. He did not ask his father, Terah,and his neighbors to consider it, but, as he was called to go out, he went out. Alas, dear Friends, we have so much talk andso little obedience! The religion of mere brain and jaw does not amount to much. We need the religion of hands and feet! Iremember a place in Yorkshire, years ago, where a good man said to me, "We have a real good minister." I said, "I am gladto hear it." "Yes," he said, "he is a fellow that preaches with his feet." Well, now, that is a capital thing if a preacherpreaches with his feet, by walking with God, and with his hands by working for God. He does well who glorifies God by wherehe goes and by what he does-he will excel 50 others who only preach religion with their tongues. You, dear Hearers, are notgood hearers so long as you are only hearers-but when the heart is affected by the ears and the hands follows the heart, thenyour faith is proven! That kind of obedience which comes of faith in God is real obedience, since it shows itself by its works.
Next, faith produces a far-seeing obedience. Note this. "Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he shouldafter receive for an inheritance." How great a company would obey God if they were paid for it on the spot! They have "respectunto the recompense of the reward," but they must have it in the palm of their hand. With them-"A bird in hand is better farthan two which in the bushes are." They are told that there is Heaven to be had and they answer that if Heaven were to behad here, as an immediate freehold, they might look after it, but they cannot afford to wait. To inherit a country after thislife is over is too like a fairy tale for their practical minds! Many there are who enquire, "Will religion pay? Is thereanything to be made out of it? Shall I have to shut up my shop on Sundays? Must I alter my mode of dealing, and curtail myprofits?" When they have totaled up the cost and have taken all things into consideration, they come to the conclusion thatobedience to God is a luxury which they can dispense with-at least until near the end of life! Those who practice the obedienceof faith look for the reward hereafter and set the greatest store by it. To their faith, alone, the profit is exceedinglygreat. To take up the cross will be to carry a burden, but it will also be to find rest. They know the words, "No cross, nocrown," and they recognize the Truth of God that if there is no obedience here, there will be no reward hereafter! This needsa faith that has eyes which can see afar off-across the black torrent of death-and within the veil which parts us from theunseen. A man will not obey God unless he has learned to endure "as seeing Him who is invisible."
Yet, remember that the obedience which comes of true faith is often bound to be altogether unreckoning and implicit, for itis written, "He went out, not knowing where he went." God bade Abraham journey and he moved his camp at once. Into the unknownland he made his way. Through fertile regions, or across a wilderness-among friends, or through the midst of foes, he pursuedhis journey-he did not know where his way would take him, but he knew that the Lord had bid him go. Even bad men will obeyGod when they think fit-but good men will obey when they know not what to think of it. It is not ours to judge the Lord'scommand, but to follow it. I am weary with hearing men say, "Yes, we know that such a course would be right, but then theconsequences might be painful-good men would be grieved, the cause would be weakened-and we ourselves should get into a worldof trouble and put our hands into a hornet's nest." There is not much need to preach caution nowadays-those who would runany risk for the Truth of God's sake are few enough. Consciences, tender about the Lord's honor, have not been produced forthe last few years in any great number. Prudent consideration of consequences is superabundant, but the spirit which obeys-anddares all things for Christ's sake-where is it?
The Abrahams of today will not go out from their kindred! They will put up with anything sooner than risk their livelihoods!If they do go out, they must know where they are going and how much is to be picked up in the new country. I am not pronouncingany judgment upon their conduct, I am merely pointing out the fact. Our Puritan forefathers thought little of property orliberty when these stood in the way of conscience-they defied exile and danger sooner than give up a grain of the Truth ofGod! But their descendants prefer peace and worldly amusements-and pride themselves on "culture" rather than on heroic faith.The modern Believer must have no mysteries, but must have everything planed down to a scientific standard. Abraham "went out,not knowing where he went," but the moderns must have every information with regard to the way-and then they will not go!If they obey at all, it is because their own superior judgments incline that way, but to go forth, not knowing where theygo, and to go at all hazards, is not to their minds at all. They are so highly "cultured" that they prefer to be originaland map out their own way.
Brothers and Sisters, having once discerned the voice of God, obey without question! If you have to stand alone and nobodywill befriend you, stand alone and God will befriend you! If you should get the evil words of those you value most, bear it.What, after all, are evil words, or good words, as compared with the keeping of a clear conscience by walking in the way ofthe Lord? The line of the Truth of God is narrow as a razor's edge-and he needs to wear the golden sandals of the peace ofGod who shall keep to such a line! Through Divine Grace may we, like Abraham, walk with our hand in the hand of the Lord,even where we cannot see our way!
The obedience which faith produces must be continuous. Having commenced the separated life, Abraham continued to dwell intents and sojourn in the land which was far from the place of his birth. His whole life may be thus summed up- "By faith Abrahamobeyed." He believed and, therefore, walked before the Lord in a perfect way. He even offered up his son, Isaac. "Abraham'smistake," was it? Alas for those who dare to talk in that fashion! "By faith he obeyed," and to the end of his life he wasnever an original speculator, or inventor of ways for self-will, but a submissive servant of that great Lord who deigned tocall him, "Friend." May it be said of everyone here that by faith he obeyed! Do not cultivate doubt or you will soon cultivatedisobedience. Set this up as your standard and, from now on, be this the epitome of your life- "By faith he obeyed."
III. Just a moment or two upon the third point. Let us consider THE SORT OF LIFE WHICH WILL COME OF THIS FAITH AND OBEDIENCE.
It will be, in the first place, life without that great risk which otherwise holds us in peril. A man runs a great risk whenhe steers himself. Rocks or no rocks, the peril lies in the helmsman. The Believer is no longer the helmsman of his own vessel-hehas taken a Pilot on board. To believe in God and to do His bidding is a great escape from the hazards of personal weaknessand folly. If we do as God commands and do not seem to succeed, it is no fault of ours. Failure, itself, would be successso long as we did not fail to obey! If we passed through life unrecognized, or were only acknowledged by a sneer from theworldly-wise-and if this were regarded as a failure-it could be borne with joy so long as we knew that we had kept our faithtowards God and our obedience to Him! Providence is God's business, obedience is ours. What comes out of our life's coursemust remain with the Lord-to obey is our sole concern. What harvest will come of our sowing, we must leave with the Lord ofthe Harvest, but we, ourselves, must look to the basket and the seed-and scatter our handfuls in the furrows without fail.We can win, "Well done, good and faithful servant"-to be a successful servant is not in our power, and we shall not be heldresponsible for it. Our greatest risk is over when we obey. God makes faith and obedience the way of safety.
In the next place, we shall enjoy a life free from its heaviest cares. If we were in the midst of the forest with Stanley,in the center of Africa, our pressing care would be to find our way out. But when we have nothing to do but to obey, our roadis mapped out for us! Jesus says, "Follow Me," and this makes our way plain and lifts from our shoulders a load of cares.To choose our course by policy is a way of thorns-to obey is as the King's Highway. Policy has to tack about, to return uponits own courses and, often, to miss the port after all. But faith, like a steam vessel, steers straight for the harbor's mouthand leaves a bright track of obedience behind her as she forges ahead. When our only care is to obey, a thousand other carestake their flight. If we sin in order to succeed, we have sown the seeds of care and sorrow-and the reaping will be a grievousone. If we will forsake the path and try shortcuts, we shall have to do a deal of wading through mire and slough-we shallbespatter ourselves from head to foot-we shall be wearied to find our way and all because we could not trust God and obeyHis bidding.
Obedience may appear difficult and it may bring with it sacrifice, but, after all, it is the nearest and the best road. Herways are, in the long run, ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. He who, through the Holy Spirit, is always believinglyobedient, has chosen the good part. He it is who can sing-
"I have no cares, O blessed Lord,
For all my cares are Thine.
I live in triumph, too, for You
Have made Your triumphs mine." Or, to change the verse, he is like Bunyan's shepherd boy in the Valley of Humiliation, forthat lowland is part of the great Plain of Obedience! And he can also sing-
"He that is down, need fear no fall,
He that is low, no pride.
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his Guide."
Although he may not reach the heights of ambition, nor stand upon the giddy crags of presumption, yet he shall know superiorjoys. He has hit upon the happiest mode of living under Heaven-a mode of life akin to the perfect life above! He shall dwellin God's house and be still praising Him.
The way of obedience is a life of the highest honor. Obedience is the glory of a human life-the glory which our Lord has givento His chosen, even His own Glory. "He learned obedience." He never struck out an original course, but He always did the thingswhich pleased the Father. Be this our glory! By faith we yield our intelligence to the highest Intel-ligence-we are led, guided,directed-and we follow where our Lord has gone. To us who believe, He is honor. To a soldier it is the greatest honor to haveaccomplished his sovereign's command. He does not debase his manhood who subjects it to honorable command. No, he is evenexalted by obeying in the day of danger. It is no dishonor to have it said-
"Theirs not to reason why;
Theirs but to dare and die."
The bravest and the most honored of men are those who implicitly obey the command of the King of Kings. Among His children,they are best who best know their Father's mind and yield to it the happiest obedience. Should we have any other ambition,within the walls of our Father's house, than to be perfectly obedient children before Him and implicitly trustful towardsHim?
And, Brothers and Sisters, this is a kind of life which will bring communion with God. God often hides His face behind theclouds of dust which His children make by their self-will. If we transgress against Him, we shall soon be in trouble. Buta holy walk-the walk described by my text as faith working obedience-is Heaven beneath the stars! God comes down to walk withmen who obey. If they walk with Him, He walks with them. The Lord can only have fellowship with His servants as they obey.Obedience is Heaven in us and it is the preface of our being in Heaven! Obedient faith is the way to eternal life-no, it iseternal life revealing itself!
The obedience of faith creates a form of life which may be safely copied. As parents, we wish so to live that our childrenmay copy us to their lasting profit. Teachers should aspire to be what they would have their classes to be. If you go to schoolto the obedience of faith, you will be good teachers. Children usually exaggerate their models, but there will be no fearof their going too far in faith, or in obedience to the Lord! I like to hear a man say, when his father has gone, "My dearfather was a man that feared God. And I would gladly follow him. When I was a boy, I thought him rather stiff and Puritanical,but now I see he had a good reason for it all. I feel much the same, myself, and, with God's help, would do nothing of whichGod would not approve."
The bringing up of families is a very great matter. This is too much neglected, nowadays, and yet it is the most profitableof all holy service and the hope of the future. Great men, in the best sense, are bred in holy households. Godfearing exampleat home is the most fruitful of religious agencies. I knew a little humble Dissenting Chapel of the strictest sect of ourreligion. There was no culture in the ministry, but the people were strong Believers. Five or six families, attending thatdespised ministry, learned to believe what they believed and to live upon it. It was by no means a liberal creed which theyreceived, but what they held operated on their lives. Five or six families came out of that place and became substantial inwealth and generous in liberality.
These all sprang from plain, humble men, who knew their Bibles and believed the Doctrines of Grace. They learned to fear Godand to trust in Him-and to rest in the old faith-and even in worldly things they prospered. Their descendants of the thirdgeneration are not, all of them, of their way of thinking, but they have risen through God's blessing on their grandfathers.These men were fed on substantial meat and they became sturdy old fellows, able to cope with the world and fight their way.I would to God that we had more men today who would maintain the Truth of God at all hazards. Alas, the rubbery backbone iscommon among Dissenters-and they take to politics, the new philosophy and, therefore, we are losing the force of our testimony-andare, I fear, decreasing in numbers, too. The Lord give us back those whose examples can be safely copied in all things, eventhough they are decried as being "rigid" or "too precise!" We serve a jealous God and a holy Savior-therefore let us mindthat we do not grieve His Spirit and cause Him to withdraw from us.
Lastly, faith working obedience is a kind of life which needs great Grace. Every careless professor will not live in thisfashion. It will need watchfulness, prayer and nearness to God to maintain the faith which obeys in everything. Beloved, "Hegives more Grace." The Lord will enable us to add to our faith all the virtues. Whenever you fail in any respect in your lives,do not sit down and question the goodness of God and the power of the Holy Spirit-that is not the way to increase the streamof obedience, but to diminish the source of it. Believe more, instead of less. Try, by God's Grace, to believe more in thepardon of sin, more in the renovation by the Holy Spirit, more in the Everlasting Covenant, more in the Love that had no beginningand will never, never cease. Your hope does not lie in rushing into the darkness of doubt, but in repentantly returning intothe still clearer light of a steadier faith. May you be helped to do so and may we, all of us, and the whole multitude ofthe Lord's redeemed, by faith go on to obey our Lord in all things!
I leave this word with you. Remember, "By faith Abraham obeyed." Have faith in God and then obey, obey, obey, and keep onobeying until the Lord shall call you Home! Obey on earth and then you will have learned to obey in Heaven. Obedience is therehearsal of eternal bliss! Practice by obedience now the song which you will sing forever in glory. God grant His Grace tous! Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 109:33-40.