Sermon 2234. The Best Donation
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, DECEMBER 13, 1891,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, APRIL 5, 1891.
"And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." 2 Corinthians 8:5.
HERE we see the Apostle Paul disappointed, though he was never discontented. God had taught him how to abound and how to sufferneed. In the School of Grace he had learned contentment, but at this time he had met with disappointment. Things had not happenedas he thought they should have done and now he tells the Corinthians how the Churches of Macedonia have disappointed him."This they did, not as we hoped."
Paul's disappointment, too, was concerning money, although that was a thing the Apostle never cared about at all. He neverlived with any idea of gain-he held it almost in contempt. Yet here he is disappointed about money matters and he is writingof his disappointment. But do not run away with a mistaken idea of what Paul meant. Though this is one of the many unexpectedthings which happened to him, it is different in its character from most of his other disappointments. His expectations werenot realized on this occasion because they were exceeded! He was disappointed with the Churches of Macedonia because theydid a great deal more than he ever expected them to do. "This they did," he says, "not as we hoped." He had only hoped thatthey would give a little, for they were not rich people-and a little would show their generosity to the poor saints in Jerusalem.And he was ready to make much of that little and thank God that they were willing to remember those who were more in needthan themselves. But they went far beyond anything he expected of them. Paul bore record that their liberality was up to theutmost limit of their power, "yes, and beyond their power." A little from them would have been more than a much larger sumfrom richer people. Our gifts are not to be measured by the amount we contribute, but by the surplus kept in our own hands.The two mites of the widow were, in Christ's eyes, worth more than all the other money cast into the treasury, for, "she ofher want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Not only did those Macedonian Believers give much, but they gave it willingly. "They were willing of themselves." This addedfragrance to their gift. They needed no pressing or urging-the Apostle did not have to organize a "Fancy Fair" to wheedlethe money out of them, nor even to preach loud and long to awaken them to their duty. "They were willing of themselves." Ithank God that you, my people, have always abounded in "the same Grace, also." Still, what we have done is nothing comparedto the need which lies before us. May those who have, up to now, been ready to bestow their goods, be found even more willingnow to contribute to the cause of God and generously give towards the spread of the Gospel, the education of ministers andthe needs of the orphans! Let there be no necessity laid upon you except the sweet compulsion of love, remembering that "Godloves a cheerful giver."
But these Macedonians gave more than money-they gave themselves. Paul writes, "They first gave themselves to the Lord, andunto us by the will of God." This was the best donation-better, even, than the two mites of the poor widow. She gave her living,but they gave their lives, their very being! They also gave the best donation in the best way. They did not stop with givingthemselves to the Lord, they also gave themselves to the Lord's people. This is the will of God, that those who yield themselvesup to Him should join those who are already His.
In speaking to you concerning these Churches of Macedonia, I would say, first, that these people are an example to us in severalparticulars. And when I have spoken a little upon that subject, I will say, in the second place, Let us follow their example.
I. First, then, THESE PEOPLE ARE AN EXAMPLE TO US. The Grace of God seems to have been so largely bestowed upon them thatthey, of whom but little was expected, sprang at once into the chief place of honor. Sometimes we see this in Churches today-poorand despised communities suddenly excel all their Brothers and Sisters. "The lame take the prey." The great works of the worldare not done by the great people of the world, but as the tiny coral insects, patiently working unseen, produce large results,it often happens that the weakest Brothers and Sisters bestow a large legacy of blessing upon us! This was the case in Macedonia-"Theabundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." As an ounce of example is wortha pound of precept, let us study the conduct of those early Christians very carefully.
First, they are an example because they followed the right order. They did the first thing, first. Paul says, concerning them,"This they did, not as we hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord." You know that it spoils even good things when youreverse the right order in which they should be done and, as we commonly say, put the cart before the horse. Did you everhear of the servant who was told to go and sweep a room and then dust it, who went and dusted the room and then swept it?She did not obey her orders because she did not observe the right order. Her work might as well have been left undone! Greatmischief always comes of departing from God's method in spiritual things. When the Lord tells you to believe and be baptized,if you are baptized, first, and believe afterwards, you have upset the Scriptural order and have practically disobeyed it!You have not kept to God's Word at all. There is nothing like doing the right thing in the right order. Do what Christ tellsyou and do it as Christ tells you. These Macedonian Believers put the first thing, first. They first gave themselves to theLord and afterwards they gave themselves to the Church of God!
This is the first thing, because it is of the first importance. If you are Christ's, join Christ's people. But the first thingis, see to it that you are Christ's! Yield yourself unto Him. Trust in Him. This is the first thing and everything else isa poor second in comparison with it. Dear Friend, have you given yourself to the Lord? Can you truly say, "I am my Lord's,and He is mine. I have, by His Grace, made sure of that"? Especially you young people who are just starting out in life-letthis be your prime care. May God give you Grace to yield yourself to Christ even now, before you meet the fiercer temptationsof the world! Stand still and consider the matter, and say, "I will now unreservedly yield myself to Him who died for me-
'Now that my journey's just begun, My course so little trod; I'll stay before I further run, And give myself to God."
Yielding ourselves to the Lord comes first and thus makes the second thing valid. If it does not come first, the second isgood for nothing! If a man gives himself to the Church, he must not, therefore, suppose that he has given himself to God.To give himself to the people of God, before giving himself, first, to God, will do the man no good. It will, indeed, do hima positive injury. The man who acts in this way is either self-deceived, or else a deceiver-he does wrong to God, to the Church,to himself and is thus a threefold offender! You have no right to either of the ordinances of Christ if you do not belongto Him-they are only for Believers-and until you first give yourself to the Lord, you have no right to be reckoned among thepeople of God! If you come to the Lord's Table as an unbeliever, so far from getting any good there, you will eat and drinkcondemnation to yourself, for you cannot discern the Lord's body and, therefore, you cannot rightly use the bread and cupwhich are the emblems of His broken body and poured out blood. Dear Friend, do that first thing, first! First give yourselfto the Lord and then give yourself to us by the will of God!
This is the first thing, again, because it leads to the second. I do not think that those Macedonians would ever have thoughtof giving themselves up to the Church if they had not first given themselves up to God, for in those days, you know, to jointhe Christian Church meant enduring shame, persecution and frequently death! They had to steal away by night to the privateassemblies of the saints-and if they joined the Church and it was once known-there would probably soon be the cry, "Christiansto the lions!" And they would be taken to the amphitheatre, first to be exhibited, and then to be devoured by wild beasts!
Men did not care about joining Christian Churches in those days unless they first gave themselves to the Lord. The persecutionof the early Christians was a wonderful means of keeping the Churches pure. Church officers, then, did not need to examinethose who sought fellowship with them as we are obliged to do, for not many were likely to present themselves unless theyloved their Lord and His Gospel better than life, itself. But even then some hypocrites did profess
to be the Lord's people, though their heart was far from Him. In these soft and silken days I would be the more earnest insaying to you-Do not give yourselves to us. Do not think of joining any Christian Church, until, first of all, you have givenyourselves to the Lord. Make a very searching enquiry into your own spiritual state before you offer yourself as a candidatefor Church fellowship. Many of you do this. I have been struck, again and again, with the fact that the results of our specialservices in this place are not garnered quickly. Sometimes people come in numbers to join us who trace their first impulseto some special effort put forth here a year or two before. I fear that many wait too long, but there should be no undue hastein the matter. Make sure that, first, you are the Lord's-then come and be baptized, confessing your faith. Now, do you trustChrist? Have you become Christ's servant? Have you taken His Cross upon your shoulders to bear it after Him? Then come andwelcome, and join with His people! But you must not do it until, first, you are the Lord's.
These Macedonians are examples, next, because they were free in what they did. They "first gave themselves to the Lord, andunto us by the will of God." They did not come to God by compulsion. There was a gentle pressure put upon them by the HolySpirit, which made them willing in the day of God's power-and they willingly and cheerfully gave themselves up to God. Areyou doing so, dear Friend? Is your religion a thing which has been impressed upon you by your surroundings, by your Christianfriends, or by the demands of society? Such a religion is not worth having! To be truly the Lord's, there must be a voluntarygiving up of yourself to Him and to His service. You must be able to say-
"'Tis done! The great transaction's done;
I am my Lord's, and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice Divine." Then you will be able to sing the chorus at the end of it-
"Happy day! Happy day,"
and you will not feel it to be a misery to have given yourself up to God, but your soul's greatest delight! And so be likethose who gave themselves to the Lord and did it cheerfully and freely.
They gave themselves, also, wholly and unreservedly. This is proved by the fact that their money followed the gift of themselves.The dedication of their persons was followed by the consecration of their purses. It was no half-hearted offering of a languiddevotion, but a real and practical yielding up of every bit of their being to be entirely and forever the Lord's. Now, thisis the sort of conversion that delights both God and His people-when the whole man is all aflame with love to Christ-whenthere is no attempt to compromise matters, or to keep back any part of that which is the Lord's. When we are able truthfullyto sing-
"Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take myself, and I will be
Always, only, all for Thee."
These Macedonians were so eager to be out-and-out for Christ that they, without any constraint, gave themselves to His people.I delight to see young Believers coming forward promptly and cheerfully, feeling, "Yes, I belong to Christ, and I should liketo join those who also belong to Him." To have it pressed upon you by one and another and to be urged to do it almost spoilsit. I think that it is with our gift of ourselves to Christ and His people as it is with plucking a peach-if it is handledmuch, or pulled off the tree by a rough grasp of the hand-the beautiful bloom is quickly gone from it. Christ loves to haveour hearts with the bloom on them! He delights to see us willingly yielding ourselves!
I remember the difficulty that I had, when I was converted and wished to join the Christian Church in the place where I lived.I called upon the minister four successive days before I could see him. Each time there was some obstacle in the way of aninterview and, as I could not see him at all, I wrote and told him that I would go down to the Church Meeting and proposemyself as a member. He looked upon me as a strange character, but I meant what I said, for I felt that I could not be happywithout fellowship with the people of God. I needed to be wherever they were and if anybody ridiculed them, I wished to beridiculed with them. And if people had an ugly name for them, I wanted to be called by that ugly name, for I felt that unlessI suffered with Christ in His humiliation, I could not expect to reign with Him in His
Glory. Beloved Friends, give yourselves, first, to God and afterwards to His Church, as these people did, cheerfully and promptly,without pressure or excitement. They came forward, not even as the Apostle hoped, but they went beyond all that!
In the third place, these people are good examples, not only in following the right order and doing it willingly, but becausethey had a sense of obedience in both. What they did, they did because they found that it was "the will of God." It was thecalm decision of hearts made sensitive by the Holy Spirit. Their faith was a living one and produced these good fruits. Theywere not carried away by emotion, but led by reason and conscience to give all to Him who deserved more than all they couldgive.
They felt that it was right to give themselves first to the Lord. They said, "How can we do otherwise? Christ has bought uswith His blood-we must give ourselves to Him. God has chosen us from before the foundation of the world-we must choose Him.The Holy Spirit has renewed us. This new nature of ours must belong to Him. We are God's by election, by creation, by Providence,by redemption, by new creation, by adoption-and His we will be forever and ever." They felt that they could not do otherwise,but must be wholly the Lord's because of what the Lord had done for them. This is the Apostle's argument when He says, "Forthe love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge that if One died for all, then were all dead: and that He died forall, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." Iwish that, under the sweet constraint of Divine Love, many of you might be led at once to give yourselves to the Lord!
Well, then, they felt the same thing about giving themselves to the Apostle and giving themselves to the Church! They said,"We will give ourselves up to this Apostle who has brought the Word of the Lord to us. He shall lead us. He has been a messengerfrom God to us-we will let him be our captain. What he bids us do, we will do, for we are persuaded that he is a man of Godand he seeks not himself, nor ours, but us! He seeks to glorify God by leading us to nobler deeds of Grace and to greaterheights of excellence. We will give ourselves to him and to the Church." Surely, dear Friend, if a man of God has been usedto bring you out of darkness into Christ's marvelous light, you may well feel that such a man shall still lead you on! Aslong as he is faithful to his Master, you may very naturally and gladly be faithful to him. "They first gave themselves tothe Lord, and unto us by the will of God."
They also had a sense of obedience in helping the poor, especially the poor saints, and, most of all, the poor saints at Jerusalem.Perhaps, mindful of that ancient promise, "Blessed is he that considers the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble,"they recognized that the care of those in poverty and distress was specially pleasing to Him to whom they had given themselves.For that reason they would gladly make their contribution to the utmost limit of their power. Doubtless, they had heard theword that the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples, "You have the poor with you always, and whenever you will, you may do themgood: but Me you have not always," and as they could not directly bestow their goods on Christ, they willingly bestowed them,out of love to Him, upon the poor who knew His name! If we cannot give gold and silver to the Head of the Church in Heaven,we may help His poor members on earth. The reception of Christ into the heart and the yielding of the life to His sway hasalways been fruitful of beneficence to the poor.
Zacchaeus has not been the only one who, when he received Christ, has said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give tothe poor." Some men, today, in their zeal for the poor, deliberately shut their eyes to this fact that before the time ofChrist the poor were left to their hard lot-and that any alleviation which has come to them has come from disciples of thelowly Jesus who was so poor that He had not where to lay His head. Christ is the poor man's truest Friend-and those who givethemselves to Christ must always see to it that they also give of their substance to the poor and thus lay up "treasure inHeaven."
Paul distinctly states that these Macedonian Christians gave themselves to the Church "by the will of God." Beloved, it isthe will of God that you who love Him should be numbered with His people. It is for your comfort. It is for your growth. Itis for your preservation. If you belong to Christ, you should belong to Christ's Church. You already owe something to theChurch. By its means, the preaching of the Gospel has been kept alive in the world. Through its preaching you have been converted.Through someone of its members you were brought to Jesus' feet. It is your duty and the Church's due that you should giveyourself to the Church by the will of God! Think it over and see if it is not so. I say not that you should join this Church.You may be quite a stranger to us, but there is a place where God has fed your soul. There is a company of people somewhere,among whom you have often been taken up to Heaven's gate. There is an as-
sembly where you first of all found the Savior. Go, I pray you, and, by the will of God, give yourself to that Church, asyou have given yourself to Christ.
You cannot tell the joy I have had today in visiting one who is lying grievously ill. My dear friend, in talking with me justnow, as I sat by his bedside, said to me, "Pastor, do you remember what you said to me when you baptized me?" I said, "No,I do not." "Well," he said, it was 35 years ago, and when I was stepping into the water, you said, 'Let us praise God forthis, Brother. I hope He will make you a gift, a precious gift, to this Church.' And then you stopped before you baptizedme, and said, 'Lord, make him useful, grant him Grace to serve You for many years to come!' It was 35 years ago," he said,"and yet I remember it as if it were but yesterday, how you prayed for me, and how you finished up by saying, 'And, when yourfeet shall touch the cold waters of the river of death, may you find it firm beneath you!' Oh, dear Pastor," he said, "itIS firm beneath my feet! I was never so happy or so joyful as I am now, in the expectation of soon beholding the face of HimI love."
Our Brother also added, "How little does modern theology supply to a man on the brink of eternity! I want no theories aboutInspiration, or about the Atonement. The Word of God is true to me from beginning to end and the precious blood of Jesus ismy only hope." I said to him, "My brother said to me, the other day, what John Wesley said to Charles. He said, 'Brother,our people die well.'" "Yes," my friend who is ill answered, "they do, for as an elder of the Church, I have visited verymany, and they always die with sure and confident faith." I never see a doubt in any of our friends when they come to die!I have more doubts than they seem to have. Alas, that it should be so! But I expect to play the man when I die, as they do,resting in that same Savior! But, Brothers and Sisters, we would have been great losers if that Brother had not, 35 yearsago, having given himself to the Lord, also given himself to me and to the Church over which the Lord had made me overseer.Blessed be God, who has kept him and us even to this day!
Thus you see that these people of Macedonia are an example to us.
II. Secondly-and this I will urge very strongly on you all-LET US FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE. What use can we make of that exampleif we do not follow it? Let us make those Philippians, who are now citizens of a better city, glad when they hear that some,even in this 19th Century, were fired by their example to yield self and substance to their Lord and ours-to give all to Himwho is the King of the country where they now have their blessed abode and where every man who now gives himself to Christshall also reign with Him! Do you think that, if they came back to earth, they would behave differently? Do you think thatthey would give less, now, that they know their Lord more? No! Had they a chance of living here, again, they would even morewillingly yield themselves and more ungrudgingly give of their substance to their dear Lord and Master!
First, imitate their example in this particular-give yourself to the Lord. You who have done it, do it again! And you whohave, up till this moment, kept back that which He claims, make a full surrender right now! Do not wait to make yourself better,or to feel better, but, just as you are, determine to be His and to be His forever! Say, "I do now, first of all give myselfto You. I trust in the death of Christ as my only hope of eternal life and I give myself up to Him, believing that He willsave me. There are many reasons why I should do this, but the chief reason is that Jesus gave Himself for me-shall I not,then, give myself to Him 'who loved me, and gave Himself for me'? What is there that I should like to keep back? I know ofnothing. No, let Him take all."-
"Savior! Your dying love You gave me-
Nor should I anything withhold, My Lord, from You. In love my soul would bow, My heart fulfill its vow, Some offering bringYou now, Something for You."
The best offering you can bring to Christ is yourself, for until you have given yourself to Him, He cannot accept any otheroffering at your hands. Unless you are really Christ's, you cannot be truly happy. Surely, this is a motive that will appealto you! You wish to live a happy life, do you not? There is no happiness without holiness-and no holiness without faith inthe Lord Jesus Christ! Give yourself to Him and He will make you holy and happy, too. True joy will never be yours until "thejoy of the Lord is your strength." To abide in Christ is Heaven begun below. "Blessed are they that
dwell in Your house: they will be still praising You." Those who know the Lord best, praise Him the most! Therefore wouldI urge you to give yourself to Him at this good hour.
Furthermore, we are only safe as we are given up to Christ's keeping. Only His power can save us from our adversary the devil,who, "as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." If you give yourself to the Lord, you will be "safe inthe arms of Jesus." He will hold you despite all the assaults of your foes and none shall pluck you out of His hands, so thatyou may exultingly say with Paul, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I havecommitted unto Him against that day."
Some of us gave ourselves to Christ 40 years ago. Oh, how thankful I am that I can say, "Forty years ago"! Some of you came30 years ago; some 20; some ten. Some of you only gave yourselves to Christ quite lately, when my dear Brothers Fullertonand Smith were at the Tabernacle. Well, do you wish to run back? If any of you do, I know one who does not, but who says,"Lord, I come again, as if I never had come before, and my heart's desire is to be fully Yours, more entirely Yours than Ihave ever been! Take heart, and hands, and feet, and eyes, and ears, and tongue-take life, and will, and all my powers ofbody, mind, and soul! Take all I am, and all I have, and all I ever shall have-take it all, for it is all Yours!" Will younot say so? While I am speaking, say it in your own souls! These Macedonians, "first gave themselves to the Lord." May somedo this for the first time, even now! Each one of them shall then be able to sing-
"Oh, I am my Beloved's,
And my Beloved's mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His 'house of wine.'
I stand upon His merit-
I know no other stand-
Not even where Glory dwells
In Immanuel's land."
In the next place, follow this example and give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not foundit perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one thatwas perfect, I would never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiledit, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearestplace on earth to us-
"My soul shall pray for Zion still, While life or breath remains; There my best friends, my kindred dwell, There God my Saviorreigns."
All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord's people.How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is rightfor everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world! As I have already said, the Church is faulty, butthat is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord's. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church isnot an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinnersand need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers. The Church is the nurseryfor God's weak children where they are nourished and grow strong. It is the fold for Christ's sheep-the home for Christ'sfamily.
It is due to the minister that you should join some Christian Church. If the Lord has blessed you under our ministry, tellus. I think that I once told you the story, which I know to be accurate, of a Church clergyman, a sincere, earnest Brother,who had preached for years and, to the best of his knowledge, had never seen a conversion and, therefore, concluded that hisministry had been useless. On the day he was buried, a gentleman was observed to stand and weep much at his grave, and someoneasked him why he did so. He said, "Nobody can tell what that man was to me. He led me from darkness into the Light of Godand his word has been my comfort for years." Yet that gentleman had never told the minister! He had never spoken to him ofthe blessing he had received under his ministry and he had let the good man die under the impression that he had been useless!When someone told him how the clergyman had grieved over his apparent
failure, he said, "Oh, I did not know that he felt like that! I wish that I had told him what a blessing his sermons wereto
Now, if we say anything foolish, or if we are reported to have said something silly which probably we never did say, we haveplenty of friends to write and correct us, to whom we are greatly obliged, of course! But there are some who are so afraidthat we might be puffed up that they will not tell us even though they get a blessing from us. At any rate, be just, be gratefuland let the servant of God know that his Master has blessed his message to your soul.
If it is not due to the minister that you should join the Church and help in its work, I think it is due to our fellow workers.Some of them are working for Christ with all their might and in the schools and elsewhere they are fainting for lack of helpers.Let me tell you what you are like. It is a hot autumn day and a man is reaping. The sweat pours from his face as he bondsto his task, and he fears that he will never get to the end of the field. And all the time you are pleasantly occupied leaningover a gate and saying to yourself, "That is an uncommonly good laborer." Or, perhaps, instead of doing that, you are saying,"Why, he does not handle the sickle properly! I could show him a better way of reaping." But as you never attempt to showus, we have only your own word to go by-and you must excuse us for being a little skeptical on the subject! The work of theChurch is generally left to a few earnest folk. Is that right? Is it right that a few should do all the work, while many others,who profess to belong to Christ, are doing nothing at all? Let that not be your case-if you have given yourselves to the Lord,give yourselves to His Church-according to His will.
Think again, what a lack of fellowship there will be if those who have given themselves to the Lord do not also give themselvesto His people. Possibly you ask, "What should I gain by joining the Church?" That is a miserable question to ask! I will answerit by asking another-Do you know how much you will lose by not joining the Church? You will lose the satisfaction of havingdone your Lord's will. You will lose the joy of fellowship with your Brothers and Sisters in Christ. You will lose the opportunityof helping, by your example, the weak ones of the flock. Your question should not be, "What should I gain for myself?" but,"What can I do for others?" And the answer should be, "I will join the Church because this is the will of God and there Ishall be of benefit to my fellow Christians."
In the third place, you should follow the example of these Macedonian Believers and give yourself both to the Lord and toHis Church. Put the two together and thus begin to place yourself wholly in the line of God's will. Joining the Church withoutbeing the Lord's, no matter from whatever motive it is done, is a course of action fraught with great danger to the soul,for none are more dead than those who only have a name to live. On the other hand, much blessing is missed if those who arethe Lord's do not unite themselves with His people.
If you have given yourself to the Lord, give yourself, next, to His people, that you may, with them, bear witness for Christ.Here is a certain number of people who, with all their faults, are the true followers of Christ. Join them and say, "I, too,am a follower of Christ." That is what membership with the Church means. It is as if you should say, "If the world is dividedinto two camps, I am on the side of King Jesus, and under His banner I will fight as one of those who bear witness to theTruths of God that He has revealed."
Do it, next, to spread the Gospel. Everybody is needed in this service, today, for the clear light of the Gospel is sadlyobscured in many places. We cannot all be preachers, for if all were preachers, where would be the hearers? But we need everybodyto be talking about Christ, by lips and life, by the printed and the spoken word-telling about salvation by the precious bloodfor all who believe, forgiveness through the Grace of God for the guilty, renovation by the Holy Spirit for the depraved.Come, then, and give yourselves to the Lord, and then to His Church in order that you may spread the Gospel!
Do this, again, to maintain the Church. Nothing in the world is dearer to God's heart than His Church. Therefore, being His,let us also belong to it that by our prayers, our gifts and our labors, we may support and strengthen it. If those who areChrist's refrained, even for a generation, from numbering themselves with His people, there would be no visible Church, noordinances maintained and, I fear, very little preaching of the Gospel. Therefore follow the Macedonian example for the sakeof the Church.
And finally, do it that you may grow in love and continue to prove your love to your Lord and His Church. And also that youmay continue to live unto the Lord and increase your life by mingling with others who are alive unto God. My dear friend,who is now lying so ill, of whom I have told you, does not regret that he joined the Church, for, being a commercial traveler,he had opportunities of preaching Christ in different places. And that he might render the best possible
service to his Lord, he always lived wherever his pastor told him to live, seeing that his business interests did not tiehim down to any particular place. If there was no Church in a town, he went and lived there till he had raised one! Then hemoved off to another spot and founded another Church. And so he continued to spread the knowledge of his Lord and Master!He is now lying between life and death and if he is raised up, again, it will be a miracle-yet perhaps the Lord will do thatwork of healing if He has yet further service for our Brother on earth. [The Brother referred to has been raised up, as bya miracle. His recovery was a great encouragement to many as they prayed for their Pastor's restoration.] Though he is soill, he does not regret anything that he has done, but only wishes that it had been in his power, as it was in his will, todo still more for his Master! Those who are about to be welcomed into the Church, as we gather around the Communion Table,may regret it if they are not good men and true, but if they have first given themselves to the Lord, they will never regretthe step they are now taking in identifying themselves with His Church.
The sum of all that I have said is this-let all who are not the Lord's come and, first of all, give themselves to Him andthen give themselves to His people and to His service. And let those of us who are already Christ's, keep together and fulfillour vows more than ever we have done-and so prove continually that we have given ourselves to the Lord and to His people,according to His will. Thus shall God be magnified, Christ glorified, His Church increased and the world blessed. God grantit, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-2 Corinthians 8.