Sermon 2239. "Is God In the Camp?"
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JANUARY 17, 1892,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL 9, 1891.
"And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! For there has notbeen such a thing before" 1 Samuel 4:7.
ISRAEL was out of gear with God. The people had forgotten the Most High and had gone aside to the worship of Baal. They hadneglected the things of God and, therefore, they were given up to their enemies. When Jehovah had brought them out of Egypt,He instructed them how they were to live in the land to which He would bring them, and warned them that if they forsook Him,they would be chastened. His words were very plain-"If you will not, for all this, hearken unto Me, but walk contrary untoMe; then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins." In fulfillmentof this threat, the Philistines had been Divinely permitted to make great havoc of the idolatrous Israelites and to hold themin cruel slavery.
The only way for them to get out of their trouble was to return to God, who, by His judgments, seemed to say, "Hear you therod, and who has appointed it." The only cure for their hurt was to go back with repentance and renew their faith and theircovenant with God. Then all would have been right. But this is the last thing that men will do! Our minds, by nature, lovenot spiritual things. We will attend to any outward duty, or to any external rite-but to bring our hearts into subjectionto the Divine will, to bow our minds to the Most High and to serve the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul-thenatural man abhors! Yet nothing less than this will suffice to turn our captivity.
Instead of attempting to get right with God, these Israelites set about devising superstitious means of securing the victoryover their foes. In this respect, most of us have imitated them. We think of a thousand inventions, but we neglect the onething necessary. I may be addressing some who, at this time, are passing through sore trials and who, therefore, think thatthey must have forgotten some little thing in connection with external religion, instead of seeing that it matters littlewhat outward observance they may neglect, so long as they do not possess the faith, without which, it is impossible to pleaseGod! They forgot the main matter, which is to enthrone God in the life and to seek to do His will by faith in Christ Jesus.Get right with God! Confess your sin! Believe in Jesus Christ, the appointed Savior! Be reconciled to God by the death ofHis Son-then all will be right between you and the Father in Heaven. We cannot bring men to this, apart from the Spirit ofGod.
In this sermon I shall have to show you how often and in how many ways men seek other methods of cure than the only one, namely,to take the case to God. They heal their hurt slightly. They cry, "Peace! Peace!" where there is no peace, and adopt a thousanddevious devices rather than accept the only remedy provided by the Great Physician for sin-sick souls. Instead of seekingto become right with God, these Israelites thought that if they could get the Ark of the Covenant, which had been the symbolof Jehovah's Presence, and bring it from the tent of Shiloh into the midst of their camp, they would then be certain of victory.So they sent and fetched the Ark-and when it came into the camp, they were enthusiastic as if their banners already wavedover a victorious host! They lifted up their voices so loudly that the earth rang, again, with their shouts, while the Philistines,hearing their exulting shout and finding out the reason, were greatly afraid. With fearful hearts and trembling lips, alreadycounting that all was lost, their enemies turned to one another and said, "God has come into the camp. Woe unto us! For therehas not been such a thing before."
In considering this subject, we will think, first, of the great mistake which both Israel and the Philistines made. In thesecond place, we will consider the great truth of which their mistake was a caricature. God does come into the camp when
His people go forth to fight in His name. And when He really comes, the tide of battle is turned. When I have spoken on thesetwo things, I shall close, as God shall help me, by speaking upon the great lessons which lie almost upon the very surfaceof the narrative.
I. First, then, let us consider THE GREAT MISTAKE which both the Israelites and Philistines made. The Israelites, insteadof seeing to God, Himself, went to Shiloh to fetch the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was the sacred place where God revealedHimself in the days when His people truly served Him. But it was devoid of power without the Presence of Him who dwelt betweenthe cherubim. The Israelites were mistaken, for they shouted long before they were "out of the woods." Before they had wonany victory, the sight of the Ark made them boastful and confident. The Philistines fell into an error of a different kind,for they were frightened without any real cause. They said, "God has come into the camp," whereas God had not come at all!It was only the Ark with the cherubim on it-God was not there.
The mistake they made was just this-they mistook the visible for the invisible. It has pleased God, even in our holy faith,to give us some external symbols-water, bread and wine. They are so simple that it seems, at first sight, as if men couldnever have made them objects of worship, or used them as instruments of a kind of witchcraft. One would have thought thatthese symbols would only have been like windows of agate and gates of carbuncle through which men would behold the Saviorand draw near to Him. Instead, some have neither looked through the windows nor passed through the gates, but have ascribedto the gates and the windows that which is only to be found in Him who is behind them both! It is sad, indeed, when the symboltakes the place of the Savior!
Man is by nature both an atheist and an idolater. These are two shades of the same thing. We need, if we worship at all, somethingthat we can see. But a God that can be seen is no God-and so the idolater is first cousin to the atheist. He has a god whichis not god, for he cannot be a god if he can be apprehended by human senses. This Ark of the Covenant, which was but a chestof wood covered with gold, with angelic figures on the lid, was simply a token of the Presence of God with His people. Butthese Israelites transformed it into a sacred object, to be highly reverenced, to be worshipped and, as it appears, to betrusted in. The elders said, "Let us fetch the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it comesamong us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies." They ascribed to the Ark what could only be done by God, Himself!
This is the tendency of us all. Anything which we can see, we pine after. Hence we lean upon the arm of flesh! We trust inman, though it is written plainly enough, "Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heartdeparts from the Lord." Yet, we still need some symbol, some token, something before our eyes-and if it can be something artistic,so much the better! We lay hold of something beautiful that will charm the eyes and produce a kind of sensuous feeling and,straightway, we mistake our transient emotion for spiritual worship and true reverence! This is the great mistake that manystill make-they think that God has come into the camp merely because some outward religious rite or ceremony has been observed-orbecause some sacred shrine has been set up among them.
These Israelites fell into another mistake which is also often made today-they preferred office to character. In their distress,instead of calling upon God, they sent for Hophni and Phinehas. Why did their hearts turn to them? Simply because they werepriests and the people had come to hold the sacred office in such superstitious reverence that they thought that was everything!But these young men were exceedingly great sinners against the Lord-they were not even moral men, much less spiritual men!They made the House of God to be abhorred and dishonored the Lord before all Israel. Yet, because they happened to hold theoffice of the priesthood, they were put in the place of God.
Dear Friends, this is a kind of feeling which many indulge. They think they shall be saved if they have a Levite for theirpriest! They imagine that the worship of God must be conducted properly because the man who conducts it is in the Apostolicsuccession and has been duly ordained! You shall see a man eminent for the holiness of his life, for the disinterestednessof his character, for the fidelity of his preaching, for his power in prayer, for the blessing that rests upon his ministryin the conversion of sinners-but he is counted a mere nobody because he lacks the superstitious qualification which deludedmen think is so necessary! Here are Hophni and Phinehas, two of the grossest sinners in all the land of Is-rael-but then,you see, they are in the line of Aaron and so they are trusted-and, indeed, are put in the place of God!
Now, God forbid that we should say a word against the house of Aaron, or against any who speak the name of the Lord whom Godhas truly called unto His work! But, Beloved, this work is not a mere matter of pedigree-it is a question of the abiding Presenceof God with man and in a man! Unless God is with the minister whom you hear, to what
purpose do you listen? If the leader of the Church is not one who walks with God, where will he lead you? "If the blind leadthe blind, both shall fall into the ditch." The blind man may wear a badge on his arm to show that he is a certified guide,but will you be saved from the ditch simply because he belongs to the order of guides and has his certification with him?Be not led away by any such vain notion! Yet this is the error into which many have fallen in all ages of the Church.
But these people who faced the Philistines made another mistake-they confused enthusiasm with faith. When they saw the Ark,they shouted so that the earth rang again. "These are the kind of people I like," says one, "people that can shout." If thatis all you need, why do you not go among the bulls of Bashan and make your home in the midst of them? They can make more noisethan any mortal men can make. These Israelites shouted, but there was nothing in their noise any more than there is in theirmodern imitators! Anyone who had passed the camp of Israel, that day, might have said that they had "a bright, cheerful, happyservice; just the kind of service the people like-you know-nothing dull about it." Listen! How the glad sound rises! Surelythese people must have great faith! No, they had not a scrap of the real article! They were mistaken all the time and, shoutas they might, they had very little to shout about-for in a short time their carcasses strewed the plain! The Philistinesput an end to their shouting.
Now, Beloved, when you are worshipping God, shout if you are filled with holy gladness. If the shout comes from your heart,I would not ask you to restrain it. God forbid that we should judge any man's worship! But do not be so foolish as to supposethat because there is loud noise there must also be faith! Faith is a still water-it flows deep. True faith in God may expressitself with leaps and shouts-and it is a happy thing when it does-but it also sits still before the Lord and that, perhaps,is a happier thing, still. Praise can sit silent on the lips and yet be heard in Heaven. There is a passion of the heart toodeep for words. There are feelings that break the backs of words-the mind staggers and trembles beneath the weight of them!Frost of the mouth often comes with thaw of the soul and when the heart's great deeps are breaking up, it sometimes happensthat the mouth is not large enough to let the torrents flow-and so it has to be comparatively silent. Do not, therefore, makethe mistake of confusing enthusiasm with faith in judging the externals of worship! Otherwise you may fall into a thousandblunders!
He may worship God who shouts till the earth rings, again, and God may accept him, but he may worship God as truly who sitsin silence before the Most High and says not even a word. It is the spiritual worship which is most acceptable to God, notthe external in any shape or form. It is the heart that has fellowship with the Lord and it needs little in the way of expressingitself-neither has God tied it down to this way or that. It may find its own methods of utterance so long as it is truly "movedby the Holy Spirit."
Another mistake these people made that day was this-they valued novelty above Scriptural order. "The Philistines were afraid,for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! For there has not been such a thing before." The Israelitesprobably made the same mistake, fixing their hope on this new method of fighting the Philistines which they hoped would bringthem victory. We are all so apt to think that the new plan of going to work will be much more effective than those that havebecome familiar-but it is not so. It is generally a mistake to exchange old lamps for new. "There has not been such a thingbefore." There is a glamour about the novelty which misleads us and we are liable to think the newer is the truer. If therehas not been such a thing before, some people will take to it, at once, for that very reason. "Oh," says the man who is givenup to change, "that is the thing for me!" But it is probably not the thing for a true-hearted and intelligent Christian, forif, "there has not been such a thing before," it is difficult to explain if the thing is a good one, because the Holy Spirit,who has been with the people of God since Pentecost, and who came to lead us into all the Truth of God, has not led the Churchof God to this before.
If your new discovery is the mind of God, where have the Holy Scriptures been all these centuries? Believing in the InfallibleWord and the abiding Spirit, I rather suspect your novelty-at least I cannot say that I endorse it until I have tested itby the Word of God. "Oh, but we had such a meeting! There never was the like of it," you say. Probably you ought to pray thatthere may never be the like of it again, for, after all, the meetings in which hearts become broken before God-and in whichmen believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the same Savior who saved their forefathers, who have entered into Glory-are no novelty!Those meetings in which men come and give themselves up to God, where "the great transaction" is done, where they become theLord's and He becomes theirs, are very old-fashioned things-they have been before.
"We have heard with our ears, O God. Our fathers have told us what work You did in their days, in the times of old." And ifwe could only see the same, we would not ask to be able to say, "There has not been such a thing before." Philistines maylike a thing that has not been before, but we like the thing that has been since the days of Pentecost, the things that comefrom Him who is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever"-the workings of that God who changes not, "with whom is no variableness,neither shadow of turning." Let Him work His blessed will and if He chooses to send a new thing on the earth, we will glorifyHis name! But because there are new things in the world, we will not ascribe them to Him, for they may come from quite anotherquarter. We remember that, "Lo, here is Christ, or there!" was the cry against which our Lord warned His disciples! Concerningsuch a cry, the Savior said, "Believe it or not." To you, dear Friends, I would say-"Stand fast by your great Leader, theblessed, unchangeable Christ, and by the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, or else you will be on the road toa thousand blunders!"
The mistake made on that battlefield is a mistake which nowadays is frequently imitated. It assumes many forms. We fall intotheir error when we confuse ritual and spirituality. Now, every form of religion has its ritual. The Quaker, who sits stilland does not say a word, has a ritual so far. And he that has a thousand rites and ceremonies has a ritual so much farther.But if I have gone through the general routine of the worship of my Church and then think that I have done something acceptableto God, while yet my heart has not communed with Him in humble repentance, or faith, or love, or joy, or consecration, I makea great mistake! You may keep on with your religious performances for 70 years or more. You may never miss what our Scotchfriends call, "a diet of worship." You may not neglect a single rubric in the whole ritual-but it is all nothing unless thesoul has fellowship with God! Godliness is a spiritual thing, for, "God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worshipHim in spirit and in truth."
So far as our forms or worship help us towards this spiritual communion, they are good, but no farther. "Oh, well," says one,"I never worship beneath a cathedral roof. I am quite content to meet with a few friends in a barn." Do not suppose, my Friend,that the meagerness of your accessories has necessarily secured true worship! If you have met God in the barn, it is well.And if your brother has met God in the right spirit, I care but little for your barn, and I care even less for his cathedral.What does it matter how you have garnished your offering if it is not a living sacrifice, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ?A dead thing must not be brought to the altar of God! Remember, that under the Jewish law, they never offered fish upon thealtar because they could not bring it there alive. Everything brought to God as a sacrifice must be alive. Its blood mustbe poured out warm at the altar's foot. Oh that you and I might feel that lifting of the soul to God and that buoyancy ofheart which true spiritual worship alone can bring to us! May our ritual, whether we have much or little, be our guide toGod and not our chain to hold us back from God!
We fall into the same blunder that the Israelites and the Philistines made if we consider orthodoxy to be salvation. We havesecured much that is worth keeping when we have, intellectually and intelligently, laid hold on that Divinely-revealed Truthof God, "the Gospel of the Grace of God." But we have not obtained everything even then. O Sirs, if it were possible for youto believe every word of Christ's teaching. If it were possible to hold with only an intellectual faith the teaching of theApostles, rejecting all besides, and to hold it with an accuracy so great that in no jot or tittle you had made a mistake,it would profit you nothing! For "except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." He may understand these thingsso as to be a theologian, but he must have them worked into his soul by the Holy Spirit so as to make him a saint, or elsehe has not really understood them at all!
Unless these are your meat and your drink, they are nothing to you. Unless you find Christ in them, you will find in themyour ruin-they shall be the "savor of death" to you. Remember, it was a beautiful tomb in which the dead Christ was laid,but He left it, and there was nothing there but grave clothes after He had gone. And, in like manner, the best-constructedsystem of theology, if it has not Christ in it, and if he who holds it is not, himself, spiritually alive, it is nothing morethan a tomb in which are trappings for the dead! It is nothing better than a gilded ark, without the Presence of God and,although you may shout and say, "God is come into the camp," it will not be so.
We fall into the same error if we regard routine as security and think that because we have often done a thing, and have notsuffered for it, therefore it will always be well with us. We are all such creatures of habit that, at length, our repeatedactions seem to be natural and right. Because sentence against their evil works is not speedily executed, therefore the heartof the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil! But though Pompeii may slumber long at the foot of Vesuvius, at lengthit is overwhelmed. It behooves every one of us to try our ways and specially to call in question things
which have become a sort of second nature to us. This is the fault of which Peter gives warning concerning the scoffers ofthe last days who will say with regret to the blessed Truth of Christ's Second Advent, "Where is the promise of His coming?For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." The Apostle says of such,"they are willingly ignorant" and, therefore, are they willfully ignorant of the terrible and unalterable doom that awaitsthem at the coming of their Judge!
Thus, like the Israelites, we may shout as we see the Ark of the Covenant, although our sins have driven the Lord far fromus! Or, like the Philistines, we may say, "God has come into the camp," and yet He may not be there at all in the sense inwhich they meant. Thus I might continue to illustrate my text, but time would fail me and I have yet to speak upon two otherpoints.
II. Having considered the great mistake these people made, I will draw your attention, in the second place, to THE GREAT TRUTHof which their mistake is a caricature. Though what the Philistines said and what the Israelites thought, on this occasion,was false, it is often true. God does come to the camp of His people and His Presence is the great power of His Church. OBrothers and Sisters, what joy comes to us at such a time! I will briefly sketch the scene that takes place when God comesinto the camp.
Then the Truth of the Gospel becomes vital. The Doctrines of Grace have, then, with them, the Grace of the Doctrines! Thenis Christ not only to us the Truth, but He is also the Way and the Life. The Gospel then becomes a sword with two edges andit does marvelous execution. The Word of God then shows itself to be both a hammer and a fire, smiting and melting those uponwhom its power is proved. Whoever preaches the Gospel, when God has come into the camp, speaks with power! He may have littleeloquence and less learning-but if God is with him and if his heart is all aglow with Divine Love-he will speak with powerand the people will say, "Surely, God is in this place, and we know it."
When God comes into the camp, new life is put into prayer. Instead of the repetition of holy phrases in a cold, feeble, lifelessfashion, the soul empties itself out before the Lord like water flowing from a fountain! And men and women cry mightily untoHim, laying hold upon the horns of the altar-and they come away with both hands full of Heaven's own blessing-for they haveprevailed with God in mighty wrestling!
By the Presence of God in the camp, fresh energy is thrown into service. There is a way of serving the Lord in which men dothe proper thing while they are fast asleep. I am afraid much of our service for God is done while we are asleep and thatit is accompanied by a kind of celestial snoring, instead of being performed when our spiritual faculties are all alert andthe whole man is wide awake. But when God comes into the camp, how He shakes men up and awakens the slumberers from theirdreams! What a quickening, what a vivifying, the Presence of God gives! I remember a picture on the Continent that strangelyrepresents the Resurrection. Some of the people who are pictured as being raised from the dead have some of their bones comingtogether. Others have their heads covered with flesh, but the rest of the body is a skeleton. Nothing seems complete in thisstrange, wild conception of a mad artist. But there are hundred of Christian people who seem to be spiritually in as incompletea stage as those people were supposed to be! They are, I hope, quickened from the dead, but they are not yet fully alive intoGod! Some of them are still dead in their head-their intellect has not yet been sanctified. Some of them are dead at theirhands-they cannot get them into their pockets, or if they manage so much as that, they cannot get them out again! Some ofthem are dead at heart-they seem to know things very well with the brain, but not to feel them in the soul. But when the Lordcomes to us with power, He makes us alive all over-every part of the man is quickened with a Divine energy! Then men reallywork for Jesus and work successfully, too.
When God comes into the camp, His Presence convinces unbelievers. Sinners turn to the Lord on the right hand and on the leftin so marvelous a way that our weak faith is often quite astonished! The last persons in the world that we expected to beconverted come to our services-and there find Christ! And many who have been hearers for years, but seem harder than the lowermillstone, become soft as wax to the Divine Word! When God comes into the camp, the Holy Spirit convinces men "of sin, ofrighteousness, and ofjudgement." The arrows of conviction fly fast and far-and pierce the hearts of the enemies of the King-andthe slain of the Lord are many!
The Presence of God, moreover, comforts mourners. When God comes into the camp, those who are troubled and tried begin towipe away the tears of sorrow and feel strengthened to bear their burdens. Or, better still, they cast their care on Him whois so manifestly near! Our hearts are also cheered by seeing anxious sinners turn their eyes towards the
Cross of Christ. Then Jesus reveals His love to them and they perceive it-they fly into His arms and find salvation there!Oh, what joyful times we have had of late in talking with many who have yielded themselves to Christ and taken Him to be alltheir salvation and all their desire! May God stay in the camp with us till every sinner that comes within our ranks and many,also, who are outside, shall come to Jesus and be saved!
When God is in the camp, His Presence infuses daring faith-feeble men begin to grow vigorous, young men dream dreams and oldmen see visions! Many begin to plot and plan something for Jesus which, in their timid days, they would never have thoughtof attempting! Others reach a height of consecration that seems to verge on imprudence. Alabaster boxes get broken and theprecious ointment is poured out upon the Master's head, even though Judas shakes his moneybag and cries, "To what purposeis this waste?" Adventurers for God are raised up-men like the Portuguese navigators who passed the Cape of Storms and calledit, afterwards, the Cape of Good Hope! Men begin to mission the slums, the lodging houses, the dark streets and, after a while,those very places become happy hunting grounds for other Christian workers! Because God is in the camp, many take up the workwhich, at first, only the truly brave Believer dared to try!
The fact of God being in the camp cannot be hidden, for in a delightful way it distils joy into worship. People do not thinksermons dull when God is in the camp! And Prayer Meetings are not, then, called, "stupid affairs." The saints enjoy fellowshipwith one another and when Christian people meet each other, and God is in the camp, they have many a happy word to exchangeconcerning their Master. Many such seasons we have enjoyed! It has been with us as with the people mentioned by the prophetMalachi-"Then they that feared the Lord spoke often, one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a Book of Remembranceswas written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name." They had such holy talk that God, Himself,turned eavesdropper to listen to what they had to say! He liked it so well that He put it down and He thought so much of itthat He said He would preserve it-and a Book of Remembrances was made for them that feared the Lord and that thought uponHis name. May there be many more such Books of Remembrances in our day!
I cannot tell you what innumerable blessings come to the camp of the spiritual Israel when God is there! I hope that we knowa little of this, even now, and I am sure we want to know a great deal more of it. It is hard work preaching when God is notin the camp. It must be slavery to teach in the Sunday School when God is not in the camp. And any of you seeking souls musthave a heavy drag on your spirits when the Lord is away. We might pray on Sabbath mornings, indeed, every day, and beforeevery duty, but, "If Your Presence goes not with us, carry us not up from here." But if the Lord is in the camp, then thewheels no longer drag heavily, but, like the chariots of Amminadib, we fly before the wind! Everything is done gladly, happily,thankfully, believingly, when "God is come into the camp." May He abide in our midst and may our eyes be opened to see Him!-
"Thrice blest is he to whom is given The instinct that can tell That God is in the field, when He Is most invisible."
III. Now, in closing our meditations upon this passage, let us try to learn THE GREAT LESSONS which this incident teachesus.
The first lesson is that which I have been insisting upon all through-the necessity of the Divine Presence. Dear Friends,you acknowledge this. There is not one among us who does not know that the Holy Spirit is necessary to effect any work. ButI am afraid that it is something which we know so well that we have put it up on a shelf-and there it lies unheeded. But itmust not be so with you, my Brothers, nor with me. We must pray in the Holy Spirit, or else we shall not pray at all. Andwe must preach under the influence of the Holy Spirit, or else we shall chatter like sparrows on the windowsill in the morning-andnothing will come of the chattering. Only the Holy Spirit can make anything we do to be effectual! Therefore never begin anywork without the Holy Spirit and do not dare go on with the impetus that you have gained, but cry again for the Holy Spirit.The "amen" of the sermon needs to be spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit just as much as the first word of the discourse-andevery word between the first and the last. Let all your service for God be in the Spirit, or else it is all good for nothing.
Learn, next, that we should do all we can to obtain the Presence of God in the camp. If there are any preparations which wecan make for His coming, let us set about them at once! You who are out of Christ must not think that there is anything foryou to do before you receive Christ. All the doing has been done-
"Jesus did it, did it all, Long, long ago."
But I am now addressing the people of God and if we would have God to come very near to us, we must prepare the way of theLord and make straight in the desert a highway for our God. What can we do to obtain the Presence of God in our midst? Mytime has so far gone that I can only give you a few hints as to what we ought to do if we want to secure that end.
We must confess our helplessness without God and honestly mean the confession. The first thing that is required of us is tobemoan the fact that, by and of ourselves, we can do nothing, even as our Lord said to His disciples, "Without Me, you cando nothing." The sooner we recognize this Truth of God, the better! Our half-doing is our undoing-but when we cease from self,then we make way for God.
We must, next, have a universal desire for the Presence of God with us. I mean by that, that every Christian man and everyChristian woman must agonize with God that He would come into the camp-not merely some few of us desiring it, but all of usvehemently crying unto the Lord, "Come, Lord, and tarry not."
We must also be very careful in our lives. God will not come to an unholy Church. The sacred Dove will never come to a foulnest. There must be a purging and a cleansing, or else He will not come.
Moreover, there must be a conscientious obedience to His Word, a strict adherence to His Truth, His Doctrine, His Precepts-tothe whole of Christ's Rule and Law. He will not prosper us unless we are careful to follow every step that He has taken. Godhelp us to have this conscientious care, this coming out from those who may not be thus careful, according to His Word, "Comeout from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and willbe a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
If we desire this special sense of God's Presence, there must be unbroken union. The Spirit of God does not love fighting.He is a dove and He will not come where there is constant strife. We must be as one man in our love to one another. It waswhen the disciples were "with one accord in one place" that the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost-and thus itis in all our Pentecostal seasons. Often a stone seems to lie at the well's mouth of our choicest blessings-and it cannotbe rolled away "until the flocks are gathered together."
To crown all, there must be a hearty reliance upon God and a childlike confidence in Him. I would recommend you either believein God up to the hilt, or else not believe at all! Believe this Book of God, every letter of it, or else reject it! Thereis no logical standing place between the two. Be satisfied with nothing less than a faith that swims in the deeps of DivineRevelation! A faith that paddles about the edge of the water is poor faith and is not good for much. Oh, I pray you, do believein God and His Omnipotence!
Such are the conditions of obtaining the blessing of God's abiding Presence. If these things abound in us, we shall be ableto shout without making any mistake about the matter, "God has come into the camp."
When God does come to us, we should seek by all means to retain His Presence. How can this blessing be secured?
First, by humble walking with God. If we grow proud because we are honored by our King's company and begin to think that theremust be, after all, something in us to attract God to us and cause His face to shine upon us, we shall not long have the Lordamong us! Seek, then, to be lowly in His Presence.
Next, let much grateful praise be given to Him from loyal hearts. If God is saving sinners, let us give Him the Glory of it.If He is at work among us, let us not go and talk about what we have been doing, but let us tell to men and angels, too, whatHE has done! Let us never dare to handle God's jewels as if they were our own.
Moreover, there must be perpetual watchfulness. If God is with us, He may give us a great victory and yet, tomorrow we maybe defeated because Achan has hidden the goodly Babylonian garment and the wedge of gold. Unless we are sober and vigilant,we may sadly have to mourn that the Lord has withdrawn His Presence from us. There is a fierce light that beats around HisThrone. "Our God is a consuming fire." Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlastingburnings? The Scriptural answer is, "He that walks righteously and speaks uprightly." May God make us men of such caliberas can endure that heat!
And lastly, there must be an individual fellowship with God on the part of each one of us. It is hard work for the whole Churchto walk with God every day and all the day. But if each member will see to it that his own personal life is
right, the Church, as a whole, need fear nothing. Let us, each one, look after his own life and see that all is right there.Then the life of the Church will soon be at flood tide, and when we go forth to the battle, the Philistines will know forsure that, "God is come into the camp." May God speedily raise us all up to this point of personal consecration!
Dear Friends, we are having sinners saved in our midst-pray for them! Some are struggling towards the Light of God-seek tohelp them! If you meet with any such, love them and cherish them as a father does his child. I cannot speak longer. Your heartsmust tell you what to do. Go on serving the Lord. May He abide with us in power forevermore! Amen.
Portion Of Scripture Read Before the Sermon-1 Samuel 4.