Sermon 2272. Longing To Find God
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 1892.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 14, 1890.
"Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" Job 23:3.
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" Observe that Job is so taken up with his one great desire that he forgets that everybodyelse is not thinking in the same way-and he uses a pronoun, though he has not before uttered the name of God. The man is carriedaway with his desire. He does not say, "Oh, that I knew where I might find God!" but, "where I might find Elm'" An overwhelmingpassion will often speak like that. See how the Song of Songs, that sweet canticle of love, begins, "Let Him kiss me withthe kisses of His mouth for Your love is better than wine." There is no mention of any person's name. We forget many thingswhen we are taken up with one thing. We forget that, as Madame Guyon wrote-
"All hearts are cold, in everyplace" and when our heart grows warm, we fancy that all other hearts are warm, too. Rememberhow Mary Magdalene, when she met our Lord on the Resurrection Morning and, "supposing Him to be the gardener," said to Him,"Sir, if you have borne Him hence, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." No, but Mary, you have notmentioned the name of the Person! You begin, "If you have borne Elm hence." How should another know of whom you speak? Thisis the way of a concentrated individuality! When it is set, desperately set, upon some one object, it forgets to whom it speaks-itonly remembers the beloved one upon whom its affections are fixed.
Now, this is one reason why the man who is earnestly seeking after God is often misunderstood. He does not speak as one wouldspeak who is cool and calm. His heart is hot within him and his words are fire-flakes, so that those about him say, "The manis mad! He is not sober as he used to be. He is going out of his mind." I would to God that many were so mad that they criedin the depths of their soul, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" If God knows whom you are seeking, it is of small consequencewhether your fellow creatures know, or do not know! If He accepts you, do not be cast down if men misunderstand you.
Thus, you see, Job's longing was all-absorbing. It was also personal-he longed to personally find God. I know many peoplewho have great longings, but they are for things that are trivial compared with the longing of Job! Job does not sigh to comprehendthe incomprehensible. He does not wish to find out the Divine decree. He does not trouble about where free agency and predestinationmeet. He does not desire to know out of mere curiosity, or for the attainment of barren knowledge! His cry is, "Oh, that Iknew where I might find Elm! Oh, that I could get at God! Oh, that I could have dealings with the Most High! Oh, that I couldfeel at perfect peace with Him, rest in Him and be happy in the light of His Countenance!"
Now, some of you, perhaps, in years gone by, were very curious and anxious about various theological questions. The time waswhen you would have disputed with almost anyone who came along, but you have given all that up and now you want to find Godand to be reconciled to Him. You want to know from God's own lips that there is peace between you and that He loves you andwill never cease to love you. You have been, perhaps, for weeks trying to find a way of access to God and, though there issuch a way, and it is close to you, you have not yet perceived it. This one thing occupies your mind-not that you may knowabout God, or split hairs about doctrinal theories concerning Him-but that you may find HIM. I would to God it were the casewith everyone in this congregation, that you either had Him or
were sighing and crying after Him. This is not a point upon which any man can afford to be neutral. We must find God, forif we do not, we are lost!
On further reading the text, I feel still more pleased with Job's determination about getting to God. He says, "Oh, that Iknew where I might find Him!" He does not make any condition as to where he might find God. If it were in Heaven, he wouldtry to scale its heights. If it were in the abyss, he would hopefully plunge into the deep. If God is far away, at the uttermostends of the earth, Job is willing to go there. If God is to be found in His Temple, or, for the matter of that, in the lowestdungeon, Job only wants to know where he may find Him. And if he may find Him, he will not make any conditions as to whereit may be. We noticed in our reading that Job said, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him! That I might come even to Hisseat!" He was willing to come even to God's Judgement Seat if he could not find Him anywhere else.
It will be a great mercy for you if you are so anxious to find God that you will not set any bounds as to where you shallfind Him. You would be glad to find Him at your usual place of worship, but you would be just as glad to find Him in the midstof quite another people. You would be thankful to find Him in your own chamber when you bow your knees in prayer, but youwould be quite as pleased to find Him in the midst of your business. You would rejoice to find Him whether it was in the heatof noontide, or in the cool of midnight. Your cry is, "Only let me find Him, and time and place shall be of no consequenceto me."
With regard to instrumentalities, also, you would be pleased to be converted to God by a learned and eloquent minister, butyou would be quite as willing to find Christ by means of the most illiterate. You will be quite content with the man againstwhom you have been prejudiced, if God will but bless him to you. Yes, though it were your own servant girl, or some boy inthe street-if they could but tell you the way of salvation so that you could find God-you would be perfectly satisfied! Iknow you would, for you put in no, "ifs," or, "buts," or conditions. Your one cry is, "Oh, that I knew where I might findHim!" You are absorbed with that one desire! Your whole soul is possessed by that one earnest longing to find God! This desireis intensely personal and practical and it inspires you with the full determination that, at all costs and all hazards, ifyou can but find out where God is, you will come to Him.
Now, I am going to talk about this desire to find God. I have had it from one or two here present who are deeply anxious,that this is the cry of their spirit day and night, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" In trying to meet their case,our first enquiry will be, What sort of desire is this?-the desire that makes a man, or a woman, or a child cry out, "Oh,that I knew where I might find Him!" And, secondly, What is the answer to it? How can they find God? And, thirdly, Why aresome so long in finding God?
I. Our first question, concerning this longing to find God, is, WHAT SORT OF DESIRE IS THIS?
I answer, first, that it takes many forms according to the circumstances of the person who has the desire. In Job's case,it was a somewhat hazardous desire to come before the court of God to have his righteousness established. I have no doubtthat, in bitterness of soul, many a sincere man, when maligned and lampooned, has wished that he could turn to God and havethe matter judged by Him. "You know," he says, "that I am not wicked. I have not been false. I have not been treacherous.Let the case against me be tried by the Great Judge of All who is righteous and impartial. Oh, that I knew where I might findHim!"
But the desire is better and more usual on the part of children of God when they have lost the light of His Countenance. Beloved,the model Christian is the man who always walks in the Light of God, as God is in the Light. But how comparatively few thereare of these! Many, I half fear the most of us, are at times in the dark. We wander. We lose our first love. We grow lukewarm.And then God hides His face. Many and many a true child of God has sighed out of the depth of his spirit, "Oh, that I knewwhere I might find Him!" Are any of you less happy than you used to be? Are you less holy than you used to be? Are you lessin prayer than in former years? Have you less tenderness of conscience? Have you less joy in the Lord? Are you doing lessfor Jesus and are you more content with the little that you do? Are you going back? Well, then, if God has not hid His facefrom you, in all probability He will!
And then, when you are in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water, you will be like the fainting hart that pants forthe brooks, and you will cry out after God. If you do not, it will be a damning mark. If you can live without your God, youwho profess to be a child of God, it will look as if you never were His child. God has spoiled some of us for the world. Itis never a matter of self-denial to us to give up its pleasures, for we have no taste for them. If we do not find joy
in God, we are, of all men, most miserable. The brooks and cisterns are dry-and if the smitten Rock does not yield us water,we thirst, we faint, we die.
But, Beloved, I want to dwell mainly upon this cry as coming from the convicted sinner who has not yet rejoiced in God. Hehas a burden pressing heavily upon him and he knows that he can never get rid of it except through the Grace of God in JesusChrist-and he wants to get rid of it! So it has come to this, that day and night he says, "Oh, that I knew where I might findHim!" I like this form of the desire best of all and I would willingly spend and be spent that I might encourage and helpany who are thus seeking God as their Savior.
Let me say this to any such who are here. This desire is quite contrary to the desire of nature. You feel yourself lost andyet this cry comes to your tongue, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" My dear Friend, this is not a natural desire!When you were satisfied with the world, you never had this desire! Time was when it never crossed your soul for a moment.When Adam and Eve sinned, they did not want to find God-they hid themselves among the trees of the Garden. And you, whileyou love sin, do not want to find God. You are like Jonah-you would willingly take ship and flee from God's Presence, evento Tarshish. No, the natural man, without the Holy Spirit, never said, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" I shouldlike you to get just a ray of the Light of God, not more, out of that remark. That ray of Light might cheer you while we proceed.
I think that this desire never comes except by Grace. It never takes full possession of any man unless it is worked in himby the Grace of God. There may be a transient desire, but it is no more a sign of spiritual health than is the hectic flushof consumption a proof that the poor patient possesses vigorous physical strength. In the excitement of a revival meeting,you may say, "I wish I were a Christian," but to carry this desire about with you-to have it always within you as a deep ground-swellof your soul, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!"-this is the work of the Holy Spirit! I trust that we have many herewho feel these first pangs of the new birth, for where God begins with us by working in us this desire, He will, in due time,gratify it! If He gives us hunger, He gives us bread to satisfy its cravings. If He gives us a desire for Himself, He givesus Himself to satisfy that desire.
Then it is sweet to think that this desire is met by the seeking of the Savior. The desire of a man after God is paralleledby Christ's desire after him. "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Now, when a sheep begins toseek its shepherd and, at the same time the shepherd is seeking it, it cannot be long before the two meet! I read to you,last Thursday night, a letter from a poor soul, a harlot, who had come in here on the Sabbath morning and God had met withher. You know how easy it is to make up such a letter with the idea of asking for charity, but there was no name to this note,and it contained no request for charity. It was a true letter. There was one part of it that I commend to you. The writersaid, "Before you receive this letter, I shall be home at my father's house, from which I wickedly ran away."
Ah, there is the point, that going home, that getting back to the father! Now, I have no doubt that the father had soughthis girl, but when the girl began to seek him, there would be a meeting very soon! If there is a soul here that wants Christ,Christ wants you! If you were sitting, now, upon Samaria's well, He would come and sit by you, and He would say to you, "GiveMe to drink," for you alone can assuage the Savior's thirst, the thirst to save, the thirst to forgive, the thirst to bringwanderers Home to the great Father's House! Oh, Friend, if this cry is your cry, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!"I can see much to comfort you in the thought that while you are seeking the Lord, He is also seeking you!
But let me add that it will be well if this desire never gets satisfied except by God, for there are so many who do not seektill they find Him. A friend, writing to me, says, "You have taken away from me all my comfort. You have destroyed my self-righteousness.You have left me in a dreadful condition through the Word of God which you have preached to me. I used to go to early celebrations.I was at church three times a day. I thought that I took the very body and blood of Christ in the holy Eucharist. I had restedin my works-and now the whole structure is gone. I can rest in none of those things any more. My one cry is (and please tosing tonight that hymn that ends)-
"Give me Christ, or else I die!"
My dear Friend, your letter gave me great delight! I was glad to give out that hymn, but I pray you do not get content tillyou find God, for you can come here, you know, and you may even succeed in deceiving us so that you may be baptized, and jointhe Church and take communion-and you may rest in all that without saving faith in Christ-and you will not be an inch nearerto God than you were when you rested in the ceremonies of your former church. It is only
God who can save you, only God in Christ who can give true rest to your soul! Men may change their churches and only changetheir refuge of lies. But if they come to Christ, whatever church they are in, if they have found Him and are trusting inHim and in Him, alone, their peace will be like a river and their righteousness as the waves of the sea! God bless any herewho are opening their mouths and panting with this strong desire. But be sure that you are never comforted till Jesus comfortsyou! Never be fed except with the Bread of Heaven. Never rest until you find rest in Him whom God has appointed to be ourrest, or else you will make a blunder, a fatal blunder, after all.
II. Our second question, concerning this desire, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" is, WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
Well, in the first place, there is something in the desire, itself, that gives you comfort, for God is near you now. If youwant God, He is everywhere. He is here, He is nearer to you than your hands and feet, nearer to you than your eyes or yournerves. He is within you and round about you. You might ask, with the Psalmist, "Where shall I flee from Your Presence?" andfind that task to be impossible. But if you really wish to find God, you may readily do so. He is here! You have not to prayat Jerusalem, nor at Mount Gerizim-
"Where'er we seek Him, He is found, And everyplace is hallowed ground." Believe it and speak to Him now! Show Him your heartnow! Appeal to Him now, for He is truly near you at this moment!
But you wish to lay hold upon Him. Then remember that God is apprehended only by faith. Eyes are of no use in this case-youcannot see a Spirit. Ears are of no use in this case-you cannot hear a Spirit. Your senses may be put aside now-the new senses-thenew eyes, the new ears, is faith. If you believe, you shall see and you shall hear. Come, deal with God who is near you now,by faith. Believe that He is near you. Speak to Him. Gladly trust Him. Faith will apprehend all of God that can be apprehendedand out of faith shall come many other blessed things that will make you still more familiar with your God. But now, evennow, put out the arms of an inward faith and say, "I believe You." Faith comprehends the Incomprehensible and takes the Infinitewithin itself!
But still, if what you mean is, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him in the sense of calling Him my own, and having a joyfulbelief in His love!" well, then, I would say to you, if you want to find Him, search His Word. If you will read the Biblewith the steady resolve to find God in Christ within its pages, I am certain that you will not have to read it long. Thereis here a holy magnetism, which if a man comes in contact with these sacred Words, shall begin to operate upon him. If youwill take the Book and search it through to learn how God is to be found, you will find Him.
Then, in connection with the Word written, go and hear the Word spoken, for there are minds that are more affected by speechthan by what they read. If you will only hear a faithful Gospel minister attentively, it will not be long before you findGod. If you go to hear a man merely because he is clever, or one who will tell you stories and interest you, you may neverget any good out of him. But if you go saying, "I want to find Christ during this service. I want to lay hold on God to mysoul's eternal salvation," I do not think that you will long frequent some places of worship that I could mention withoutsaying, "I have found God."
Next to that, if you do not seem to profit by the reading and hearing of the Word, seek the Lord in prayer. Get to your chamberand there cry unto God and cease not your cries, for if you will seek Him as for silver and search for Him as for hidden treasure,you shall surely find Him! Prayer has a wonderful effect on God. He turns at the cry that comes from the heart. He is sureto look to the man who cries to Him for mercy.
And at the same time that you are in prayer, or in connection with it, meditate on Divine things. Especially meditate on thePerson of Christ, God and Man-on the work of Christ, especially His atoning Sacrifice. Meditate on the promises. Meditateon God's wonders of Grace recorded in this delightful Book. Think and pray, and then think and pray again-and my impressionis that you will not long have to say, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!"
Yet there is one more word for you. If you would find God, He is to be found in Christ Jesus, "reconciling the world untoHimself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." Do you know the Man, Christ Jesus? Can you, by faith, see Him? Fall atHis feet! Accept Him as your Savior! Trust Him as the Giver and Forgiver, as saving from death and imparting life! Come andtake Christ-and you have found God! No man believes in Christ and remains without the favor of God. Oh, that you would believein Christ right now! This morning I preached about His Incarnation, Immanuel, God with us. Think much on this.
"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." God came here among men and took the form of a mortal creature- and here livedand died! Think of that, and believe in Him who is God and Man. Then think much of His life, of the many that He healed, thesick ones that He relieved, the sinful that came to hear Him, to whom He spoke only words of love. Look through the life ofChrist and I am persuaded that if you are willing to do so, you will find among those who came to Him a case parallel to yourown and will find Him dealing with it in love and mercy. And, while you are perusing that wondrous Life of love, you willfind God! But if it is not so, go a little further-
"Go to dark Gethsemane,
You that feel the tempter's power."
Stand amid the shade of the olives! Hear the Son of God groaning out His very soul, His sweat, as it were, great drops ofblood falling to the ground. He pleaded there for sinners, for the guilty. Follow Him to Pilate's Hall, see Him scourged andspat upon-and go, at last, to Calvary and sit down there in meditation-and mark the wounds in His blessed body, those sacredfountains of blood. See His emaciated frame exposed before the sun to the gaze of cruel men. Watch Him till you hear Him cry,"It is finished!" Then see the soldier set His heart abroach, for, even after death, His heart poured its tribute for us andthen, as you remember that He made the heavens and the earth, and yet did hang upon that tree for the guilty, believe andtrust Him.
"Oh!" says one, "I cannot believe." Now it is a curious thing that when I have met with persons who find it difficult to believe,I have often been obliged to say to them, "Well, now, there is a strange difference between you and me, for you cannot believeand I cannot disbelieve." That is to say, when I see Christ, the Son of God, dying for guilty men, I cannot make myself disbelieve.It seems to me to flash its own evidence upon my soul and I am convinced by the sight I see. How is it that you cannot believewhen the Almighty God is one with His sinful creatures and dies to save them from eternal death? "Who His own self bore oursins in His own body on the tree." When you see that marvel of marvels, how can you disbelieve? I charge you, by the livingGod, look to Jesus on the Cross, as Israel in the wilderness, bitten by the serpents, looked to the bronze serpent-and bythat look live!
I think this is the way to find God, that is, to come to Christ, for, remember that He is not dead. He is risen! Where isthe Christ now? He is at the right hand of God. He makes intercession for us-yes, for the rebellious, also, that the LordGod may dwell among them! Do you believe that Christ makes intercession for sinners? Then trust yourself with Him, first asyour Redeemer, and now as your Intercessor! And so, by a simple trust, you shall find your God and no more say, "Oh, thatI knew where I might find Him!"
III. I have finished my discourse when I have very briefly answered the third question-WHY ARE SOME SO
LONG IN FINDING GOD?
I answer, partly because they are not clear as to what they are seeking. If you want to find God, well, here He is! You yourselfknow that He is everywhere, so that you have found Him! But what I fear some of you need is some kind of mark, some sign,some feeling. Now, that is not seeking God-you are seeking something in addition to God. I am sure that, in the hour of trial,nothing will stand a man in good stead but simple faith in God by Jesus Christ. "Oh!" says one, "I read of a man, the otherday, who was under most wonderful conviction, and of another who had a very remarkable dream, and of another who heard a voicespeaking to him."
Yes, yes, and all these pretty things are very well when you have faith in Christ. But if you do not trust yourself to Christ,these things are not worth a penny, for some day you will say to yourself, "How do I know that I did hear that voice? MightI not have been deceived? How can I be sure that that dream meant anything? May I not have eaten something for supper thatmade me dream it? And that joy that I felt may have been all a delusion." But if you want God without any of these things,you want exactly what you need, and I pray you to come and take it by faith in Jesus. Here am I, a guilty sinner-that I knowand confess. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners-that I know by the witness of this Book. I am told that if Itrust Him, I am saved. I do trust Him-I will not ask for a dream, or a vision, or a voice, or anything. Why should I? Beggarsmust not be choosers! If God gives me His salvation as He gives it to anybody else, I am perfectly happy, even though I haveno striking story to tell and shall never point a moral or adorn a tale with any anecdote about myself. I am afraid, however,that many are not wanting God so much as wanting the odds and ends that sometimes go with Him.
Again, there are some who are crying after God who are hankering after their own idols. Ah, me! You would like to keep someof your self-righteousness, or some of your sins. One of our friends, coming up from the Norfolk Broads, told me that whenthe time came to row home, he began pulling away at the oars and he thought that it was a very long way, and that the scenerywas very monotonous, with the same old willow tree and everything the same as when he started. And someone going by said,"I suppose you know, old fellow, that you have got your anchor down." That is exactly what he had forgotten! He was rowingwith his anchor still down. You will not find God that way if you have an anchor still down! I do not know what your anchoris-perhaps it is the wine cup-you still take that drop too much. Perhaps it is an evil woman. Perhaps it is some trick intrade that you have been used to. Perhaps it is some secret sin that cannot be told. You cannot find God while you keep that.Achan, how can God come to your tent unless it is for judgment, while the Babylonian garment is hidden in the ground? Awaywith the idols and then shall you find the true God!
And yet again, there are some who are waiting to feel their need more. They think that they cannot come to Christ till theyfeel more than they do at present. Now, again, I must get you to alter your cry. I thought that your cry was, "Oh, that Iknew where I might find Him!" But now your cry is, "Oh, that I knew that I really needed Him!" Have you not had enough ofthat experience? Time was with me when I thought too much of it. I believe a deep plowing does us good, but, if a man is alwaysplowing and never sows anything, he will never have a harvest! Some of you are looking too much to your sense of need. Youare NOT saved by your sense of need! You are saved by the supply of that need. Come as you are. "I have not a broken heart,"says one. Come to Christ for a broken heart. "I have not a tender conscience," says another. Come to Christ for a tender conscience.You are not to get half the work done yourself, and then come to Christ to have it finished! Come as you are, just as youare, hard heart and all! Come along with you and trust yourself to Jesus-and you shall find God!
I am afraid that there are also a great many who are clouded in their minds by the great sorrow through which they have passed,for you can be so distressed and distracted that you do not judge clearly. You remember Hagar, when the water in her bottlewas spent, and her boy was dying of thirst? Just there, close behind her, was a well of water! The angel said to her, "Whatails you, Hagar?" And we read, "God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water." Some of you have salvation at your fingertips,but you do not know it. You have it in your mouth, as Paul says, and you do not know it, or else you would swallow it downand live by it at once! Salvation is not up there in the heights, or down here in the deeps. The Apostle puts it thus, "Ifyou shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, youshall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.""He that believes and is baptized shall be saved."
So runs the Gospel. Look for no other way. Believe! I said not, "Feel," but, "Believe!" Dream not, dote not, imagine not,but believe! Say with your heart, "I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. And I trust Him to saveme-
"Tis done, the great transaction's done;
Iam my Lord's, and He is mine" Now you shall begin a new life of obedience and holiness worked in you as the result of yourhaving believed in Jesus Christ, whom God has set forth to be the Propitiation for sin! Will you have Christ or not, Sinner?If you will not have Him, you must perish! If you will have Him, He gives Himself freely to you-and nothing is freer thana gift! Take Him, and go your way happy as the angels. God bless you! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON JOB23.
Job is in great physical pain through the sore boils that cover him from head to foot. He is still smarting under all thebereavements and losses he has sustained and he is somewhat irritated by the hard speeches of his friends. We read, in thesecond chapter of this book, that, "they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him." "Job'scomforters ," even to this day, are regarded as those whose thoughts are preferred to their company. As the result of allthe trials through which Job was called to pass, there is, in this chapter, somewhat of bitterness. We need
not wonder at it-the wonder is that there is not more. You ought, in estimating a man's actions or words, to judge of hiscircumstances at the time. Do not take Job's words by themselves, but consider in what condition he was. Think what you wouldhave done if you had been in his place-and you will not censure him, as you might otherwise have done.
Verses 1, 2. Job answered and said, Even today is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. He could notexpress all his pain. He felt that he did not complain too much. His stroke was heavier than his groaning. His Words had bitternessin them, but he thought that they were justified by his affliction.
3. Oh that I knew where I might find Eim! Job longed to find his God. He wanted to come to Him. He had been slandered by men,so he turns from the court of injustice below to the Divine Court of King's Bench above, where he is sure of a righteous verdict-
"Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!"
3. That I might come even to Eis seat! To His Mercy Seat, and even to His Judgement Seat. Job was willing to appear even there!
4. I would order my cause before Eim, and fill my mouth with arguments. He felt that he dared plead before God. He was notguilty of the things laid to his charge, so he would be bold to speak even before God's Judgement Seat. If Job had known alittle more of God, as he did before his life ended, he might not have talked so glibly about ordering his cause before Himand filling his mouth with arguments. We remember how he afterwards spoke to the Lord, "I have heard of You by the hearingof the ears: but now my eyes see You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Who among us would desire tocome and argue our case with God without our heavenly Advocate?
5. I would know the words, which Ee would answer me, and understand what Ee would say unto me. He was willing to hear God'sside of the argument, patient and anxious to understand the mind of God with whom he desired to plead. So far so good. Thereare some who do not wish to know what God would say to them. As long as they may express their own passionate desires, theyhave no ear and heart waiting to hear the voice of God. Very beautiful is the next verse-
6. Will Ee plead against me with Eis great power? No; but Ee would put strength in me. He has confidence in the Lord thatif he could have an audience with Him, God would not use His power against him, but, on the contrary, would strengthen himin order that he might state his case. Do I speak to a troubled heart here? Come to God with your burden! He will not useHis power against you, but He will help you to plead with Him. Trembler, come and bow at His feet! He will not spurn you!He will lift you up. Despairing one, look to the Lord! He will not turn His wrath upon you, but He will help you to pleadwith Him. "Will He plead against me with His great power? No; but He would put strength in
7-9. There the righteous might dispute with Eim; so should I be delivered forever from my judge. Behold, I go forward, butEe is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Eim: On the left hand, where Ee does work, but I cannot behold Eim: Eehides Eimself on the right hand, that I cannot see Eim. Job had done his best to find his God. Forward, backward, to the right,and to the left, he had gone in all directions after Him, but he could not find Him. I know there are persons here, tonight,who are in that condition. And you will never rest, I hope, until you find the Lord. He is not far from you. I trust thatwith many of you, tonight is the happy hour in which your long searching shall end in a delightful finding!
10. But Ee knows the way that I take. If I do not know His way, He knows mine! If I cannot find Him, He can find me! Hereis my comfort-"He knows the way that I take."
10. When Ee has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Here the true Job comes to the front. You get the gracious man oncemore on his feet. He staggered a little, but he now stands firm-"When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." So willyou, my tried Sister, my afflicted Brother! The trial of your faith is but for a time-there will come an end to this furnacework! And when God has tried you, tested you, and taken away your dross-He will bring you forth and you will be pure gold-meetfor the Master's use-
"In the furnace God may prove you,
There to bring you forth more bright,
But can never cease to love you-
You are precious in His sight!
God is with you,
God your everlasting light."
11. My foot has held Eis steps, Eis way have I kept, and not declined. Happy Job, to be able to say that, and to speak thetruth! But there is a touch of self about it which we cannot quite commend. Be holy, but do not claim to be holy! Be steadfastbefore God, firm in your obedience to Him-but do not mention it-for your hope lies somewhere else. Yet we cannot condemn Jobfor declaring that he had kept God's way. His friends were pleading against him, so he felt that he must defend himself.
12. Neither have I gone back from the Commandment of Eis lips; I have esteemed the words of Eis mouth more than my necessaryfood. Job was a happy man to be able to say that. I hope that many of you can say the same. If you were tried with great bodilypain and depression of spirit, you could say, through Divine Grace, "I have not turned away from God." These are days whenwe need men of principle-men who can put their foot down and keep it down-men who cannot be turned aside. They call this firmness,"bigotry." It is, however, only another name for Christian manliness! If you dare to do right and face a frowning world, youshall have God's commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
13. But Ee is in one mind, and who can turn Eim? God has one mind and He will carry out what He wills. It is vain for anyman to think of turning Him from His eternal purpose.
13, 14. And what Eis soul desires, even that Ee does. For Ee performs the thing that is appointed for me: and many such thingsare with Eim. You will find that men who are much tried fall back upon the granite foundation of the Divine Decree. God hasordained it, so they yield to it. They acquiesce in it because it is according to the eternal purpose of the Most High. Thoughwe say little about it, now, there may come a time when some of you will have to say, as Job does, "For He performs the thingthat is appointed for me: and many such things are with Him."
15. Therefore am I troubled at Eis Presence: when I consider, I am afraid of Eim. It is a bad sign when a man of God becomesafraid of God! Yet there is a holy awe which may degenerate into a servile fear which has bondage. But even this may be thefoundation of a holy confidence which will keep us in obedience to the Lord.
16. For God makes my heart soft-and the Almighty troubles me. Are you saying that tonight? If so, I am glad you are here!I have, for many years, been compassed about with a large number of persons who come from the ends of England and Scotland-andfrom longer distances, too, in despair of soul, and seeking comfort-but I think that never in my life have I had more thanI have had this week-persons unknown to me who are under conviction of sin and feeling the hand of God heavy upon them. Byhard tugs I have had to bring them out of Giant Despair's Castle! The Holy Spirit, alone, can do this work, but He sometimesmakes use of a sympathetic brotherly word to give light to those who are in the dark. I am praying that He may do so, tonight,for there may be some here who say with Job, "God makes my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me."
17. Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither has Ee covered the darkness from my face. He wished he had diedbefore he came to such trouble, or that by some means such trouble had been turned away from him. May the Lord, if He sendsyou Job's trouble, send you Job's consolation! May He glorify Himself by your patient endurance, if He lays upon you His heavyhand!
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-607, 594, 606.