Sermon 2477. Darkness Before the Dawn

(No. 2477)




"Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains ofBether." Song of Solomon 2:17.

THE spouse sings, "Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away," so the beloved of the Lord may be in the dark. It maybe night with her who has a place in the heart of the Well-Beloved. A child of God, who is a child of light, may be, for awhile, in darkness. First, darkness comparatively, as compared with the light he has sometimes enjoyed, for days are not alwaysequally bright. Some days are bright with a clear sunshine, other days may be overcast. So the child of God may one day walkwith full assurance of faith, in close fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ, and at another time he maybe questioning his interest in the Covenant of Grace and may be rather sighing than singing, rather mourning than rejoicing.The child of God may be, then, in comparative darkness.

Yes, and he may be in positive darkness. It may be very black with him and he may be obliged to cry, "I see no signs of returningday." Sometimes, neither sun nor moon appears for a long season to cheer the Believer in the dark. This may arise partly throughsickness of body. There are sicknesses of the body which, in a very peculiar way, touch the soul- exquisite pain may yet beattended with great brightness and joy-but there are certain other illnesses which influence us in another way. Terrible depressionscome over us. We walk in darkness and see no light. I should not like to guess how heavy a true heart may sometimes become-sometimesit is necessary we are in heaviness through manifold trials. There is not only a necessity for the trials, but also for theheaviness which comes out of them. It is not always that a man can gather himself together and defy the fierce blasts andwalk through fire and through water with heavenly equanimity. No, Brothers and Sisters, "a wounded spirit, who can bear?"And that wounded spirit may be the portion of some of the very fairest of the sons of God! Indeed, the Lord has some weakly,sickly sons who, nevertheless, are the very pick of His family. It is not always the strong ones by whom He sets the moststore, but, sometimes, those that seem to be driven into a corner-whose days are spent in mourning-are among the most preciousin His sight! Yes, the darkness of the child of God may be comparative darkness and it may, to a great extent, be positivedarkness.

But yet it can only be temporary darkness. The same text which suggests night promises dawn-"Until the day breaks and theshadows flee away," says the song of the spouse. Perhaps no text is more frequently upon my lips than is this one. I do notthink that any passage of Scripture more often recurs to my heart when I am alone. And just now I feel that there is a gatheringgloom over the Church and over the world. It seems as if night were coming on and such a night as makes one sigh and cry,"Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

I am going to speak upon three things which are in our text. The first will be our prospect. We have a prospect that the daywill break and the shadows flee away. Secondly, our posture-"until the day breaks and the shadows flee away." Thirdly, ourpetition-"Turn, my Beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of division." We are content to wait if Hewill come to us. If gladdened with His Presence, the night shall seem short and we can well endure all that it brings! Letthe prayer of our text be put up by any of you who are waiting in the darkness and may it be speedily answered in your happyexperience!

I. First of all, let us consider OUR PROSPECT. Our prospect is that the day will break and that the shadows will flee away.We may read this passage in many ways and apply it to different cases.

Think, first, of the child of God who is full of doubt. He is afraid that, after all, his supposed conversion was not a trueone, and that he has proved it to be false by his own misbehavior. He is afraid, I scarcely know of what, for so many fearscrowd in upon him. He is crying to God to remove his doubts and to let him once again-

"Read his title clear To mansions in the skies."

His eyes are looking toward the Cross and somehow he has a hope, if not quite a persuasion, that he will find light in Christ,where so many others have found it. I would encourage that hope till it becomes a firm conviction and a full expectation!The day will break for you, dear mourner! The shadows will yet flee away. While I say that, I feel able to speak with greatconfidence, for my eyes, as they look round on this congregation, detect many Brothers and Sisters with whom I have conversedin the cloudy and dark day. We have prayed together, dear Friends-have we not? I have repeated in your hearing those preciouspromises which are the pillows of our hope, yet, at the time, it seemed as if you would never be cheered or comforted. Friendswho lived with you grieved much to see you so sad. They could not understand how such as you who have lived so scrupulouslyas you believed to be right, should, nevertheless, come into sadness and despondency!

Well, you have come out of that state, have you not? I can almost catch the bright expression in your eyes as you flash backthe response, "It is so, Sir! We can sing among the loudest, now. We can leap as a hart and the tongue that once was dumbcan now sing praises to the Lord who delivered us." The reason for this great change is that you clung to Christ even whenit seemed to be no use to cling! You had a venturesome faith-when it seemed a risky thing even to believe, you believed-andyou kept on believing! And now the day has dawned for you and the shadows have fled away. Well, so shall it be to all whoare in the same predicament if they will but trust in the Lord and stay themselves upon our God! Though they walk in darknessand see no light, yet, by-and-by, the day shall break for them, also!

This expression is equally applicable when we come into some personal sorrow not exactly of a spiritual kind. I know thatGod's children are not long without tribulation. As long as the wheat is on the threshing floor, it must expect to feel theflail. Perhaps you have had a bereavement, or you may have had losses in business, or crosses in your family, or you havebeen sorely afflicted in your own body. And now you are crying to God for deliverance out of your temporal trouble. That deliverancewill surely come. "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed." "I have beenyoung," said David, "and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken." The Lord will yet light your candle andsurround your path with brightness. Only patiently hope and quietly wait-and you shall yet see the salvation of the Lord."Many are the afflictions of the righteous." Mark that-you know that part of the verse is true, but so is the rest of it-"butthe Lord delivers him out of them all." Clutch at that, for it is equally true! "In the world you shall have tribulation."You know that is true. "Be of good cheer," says Christ, "I have overcome the world." Therefore, expect that you, also, willovercome it through your conquering Lord! Yes, in the darkest of all human sorrows, there is the glad prospect that the daywill break and the shadows will flee away!

This is the case again, I believe, on a grander scale with reference to the depression of religion at the present time. [1886-eo]Some of us are obliged to go sorrowing when we look upon the state of the Church and the world. We are not accustomed to takegloomy views of things, but we cannot help grieving over what we see. More and more it forces itself upon us that the old-fashionedGospel is being either neglected or trampled in the dust! The old spirit, the old fire that once burned in the midst of thesaints of God, is still there, but it burns very low at present. We need-I cannot say how much we need a revival of pure andundefiled religion in this our day! Will it come? Why should it not come? If we long for it, if we pray for it, if we believefor it, if we work for it and prepare for it, it will certainly come. The day will break and the shadows will flee away!

The mockers think that they have buried our Lord Jesus Christ. So, perhaps, they have, but He will have a resurrection. Thecry is, "Who will roll away the stone for us?" The stone shall be rolled away and He, even the Christ in whom our fatherstrusted, the Christ of Luther and of Calvin, of Whitefield and of Wesley-that same Christ shall be among us in the fullnessand the glory of His power by the working of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of myriads of men! Let us never despair, but,on the contrary, let us brush away the tears from our eyes and begin to look for the light of the morning, for, "the morningcomes," and the day will break and the shadows will flee away!

Let me encourage any friends who have been laboring for Christ in any district which has seemed strikingly barren, where thestones of the field have seemed to break the plows. Still believe on, Beloved-that soil which appears most unfruitful willperhaps repay us after a while with a hundred-fold harvest! The prospect may be dark, but, perhaps, dear Friends, it is tobe darker yet. We may have worked and seemed to work in vain. Possibly the vanity of all our working is yet to appear stillmore, but, for all that, "the morning comes." "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." We must not be in the least bitafraid even in the densest darkness, but, on the contrary, look for the coming blessing!

I believe that this is to be the case, also, in this whole world. It is still the time of darkness, it is still the hour ofshadows. I am no prophet, nor the son of a Prophet, and I cannot foretell what is yet to happen in the earth. It may be thatthe darkness will deepen still more and that the shadows will multiply and increase-but the Lord will come! When He went upfrom Olivet, He sent two of His angels down to say, "You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into Heaven? This sameJesus, who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven." He is surelycoming and though the date of His return is hidden from our sight, all the signs of the times look as if He might come veryspeedily! I was reading, the other day, what old Master William Bridge says on this sub-ject-"If our Lord is coming at midnight,He certainly will come very soon, for it cannot be darker than it now is."

That was written two hundred years ago and our Lord has not come, yet, and I might say much the same as Master Bridge did!Do not doubt as to Christ's coming because it is delayed. A person lies dying and the report concerning him is, "Well, itdoes not look as if he could live many hours." You call again and they say, "Well, he still survives, but it seems as if hewould scarcely get through the night." Do you go away and say, "Oh, he will not die, for I have expected, for several days,to hear that he has passed away"? Oh, no! But each time you hear the report, you feel, "Well, it is so much nearer the end."And so is our Master's coming! It is getting nearer every hour, so let us keep on expecting it. That glorious Advent shallend our weary waiting days! It shall end our conflicts with infidelity and priestcraft! It shall put an end to all our futileendeavors and when the Great Shepherd shall appear in His Glory, then shall every faithful under-shepherd and all His flockappear with Him-and then shall the day break, and the shadows flee away!

As to the shadows fleeing what are those shadows that are to fly at His approach? The types and shadows of the CeremonialLaw were all finished when Christ appeared the first time. But many shadows still remain-the shadows of our doubts, the grimmysterious shadows of our fears, the shadows of sin, so black, so dense-the shadows of abounding unbelief-ten thousand shadows!When He comes, these shall all flee away, and with them shall go Heaven and earth- the Heaven and earth that now are, forwhat are these but shadows? All things that are unsubstantial shall pass away when He appears! When the day breaks, then shalleverything but that which is eternal and invisible pass away! We are glad that it shall be so and we pray that soon the daymay break and the shadows flee away. This, then, is our prospect.

II. Now I want to occupy a few minutes of your time in considering OUR POSTURE "until the day breaks and the shadows fleeaway." We are here, like soldiers on guard, waiting for the dawn. It is night and the night is deepening- how shall we occupyourselves until the day breaks and the shadows flee away?

Well, first, we will wait in the darkness with patient endurance as long as God appoints it. Whatever of shadow is yet tocome, whatever of cold damp air and dews of the night is yet to fall upon us, we will bear it. Soldiers of the Cross, youmust not wish to avoid these shadows! He who has called you to this service knew that it would be nighttime and He calledyou to night duty. And being put upon the night watch, stay at your post. It is not for any of us to say, "We will desertbecause it is so dark." Has not the thought sometimes crossed your mind, "I am not succeeding-I will run away"? Have you notoften felt, like Jonah, that you would go to Tarshish that you might escape from delivering your Master's message? Oh, donot! The day will break and the shadows flee away-and until then, watch through the night and fear not the shadows! Play theman, remembering through what a sevenfold night your Master passed, when, in Gethsemane, He endured even to a bloody sweatfor you! When, on the Cross, even His mid-day was midnight-what must have been the darkness over His spirit? He bore it-thenyou bear it. Let no thought of fear pass over your mind, or, if it does, let not your heart be troubled, but rise above yourfear until the day breaks and the shadows flee away. Be of good courage, soldiers of Christ, and still wait on in patientendurance.

What are we to do, next, until the day breaks? Why, let there be hopeful watching. Keep your eyes towards the East and lookfor the first gray sign of the coming morning. "Watch!" Oh, how little is done of this kind of work! We scarcely watch aswe ought against the devil, but how little do we watch for the coming of our Master! Look for every sign of His appearingand be always listening for the sound of His chariot wheels. Keep the candle burning in the window to let Him see that youare awake. Keep the door on the latch, that when He comes you may quickly open to Him. Hopefully watch until the day breaksand the shadows flee away.

Then, further, dear Friends, while we maintain patient endurance and hopeful watching, let us give each other mutual encouragement.Men who have been shipwrecked will give each other a hand and say, "Brother, perhaps we shall escape after all." Now thatit is midnight all around, let every Christian give his fellow soldier a grip of his hand. Courage, Brothers and Sisters,the Lord has not forgotten us! We are in the dark and cannot see Him, but He can see us and He knows all about us-maybe Hewill come walking on the stormy waters in the middle watch of the night when our little boat seems ready to be sunk beneaththe waves by the boisterous wind! I seem, just now, as though I were a soldier in this great guardroom and as if we were sittingin these shadows and, perhaps, in the darkness, and seemed very much dispirited. And I would say to you, my comrades, "Come,Brothers and Sisters, let us cheer up. The Lord has appeared to one and another of us. He has given to some of us the lightof His Countenance and He is coming back to welcome us all to Himself. Let us not be dismayed-our glorious Leader forgetsnot the weakest and feeblest of us, neither is any part of the battlefield beyond the reach of the great Captain's eyes! Hesees which way the struggle is going and He has innumerable reserves which He will bring up at the right time. I seem to hearthe music of His horse's hoofs even now. He is coming who shall turn the scale in the worst moment of the conflict, for thebattle is the Lord's and He will deliver the enemy into our hands! Let no man's heart fail him because of yonder Goliath!The God who has raised up men to slay the lion and the bear will yet find a David and a smooth stone to kill this mighty giant.Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, be of good courage."

What further should we do in the dark? Well, one of the best things to do in the dark is to stand still and keep our place."Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away," let us keep our place and firmly maintain our position. A Brother who satat the back of me, 20 years ago, dropped in, again, recently to hear me preach. And he said to me, after the service, thathe had been in America and come over here again after 20 years, and he added, "It is the same old story, Spurgeon, as whenI was here before-you are sticking to the same old Gospel" I replied, "Yes, and if you will come in 20 years' time, if Godspares me, I shall still be sticking to the same old Gospel, for I have nailed my colors to the mast and I do not mean tohave anything to do with this new-fangled progressive theology." To me, the Gospel came to perfection long ago in the Personof the Lord, Jesus Christ, and it can never go beyond that perfection! We preach nothing but that Gospel which has saved ourown souls and saved the souls of the myriads who have gone to their eternal rest- and we do not intend preaching anythingelse until somebody can find us something better-and that will not be tomorrow, nor the day after, nor as long as the worldstands! It is dark, very dark, so we just stay where we are, in steadfast confidence in the Lord who has placed us where weare! We are not going to plunge on in a reckless manner-we mean to look before we leap and as it is too dark to look, we willnot leap, but will just abide here hard by the Cross, battling with every adversary of the Truth of God as long as we havea right hand to move in the name of the Almighty God, "until the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

What else ought we to do? Keep up a careful separateness from the works of darkness that are going on all around us. If itseems dark to you, gather up your skirts, and gird up your loins! The more sin abounds in the world, the more ought the Churchof God to seek after the strictest holiness. If ever there was an age that needed back, again, the sternest form of Puritanism,it is this age! If ever there was a time when we needed the old original stamp of Methodists, we need them now-a people separatedto God, a people that have nothing to do but to please God and to save souls-a people that will not in any way bow themselvesto the fashions of the time! For my part, I would like to see a George Fox come back among us, yes-Quaker as he was-to bearsuch a testimony as he did in the power of the Spirit of God against the evils of his time. God make us to feel that now,in the dark, we cannot be as lenient as we might have been in brighter days towards the sin that surrounds us!

Are any of you tempted into "society," so-called, and into the ways of that society? Every now and then those who read thepapers get some little idea of what is going on in "society." The stench that comes from "society" tells us what it must belike and makes us wish to stay clear of it! The awful revelations that were once before made which caused us to be sick withshame and sorrow, might be made again, for there is just the same foulness and filthiness beneath the surface of the supposedgreater decency. O Christian people, if you could but know, as the most of you ought not to know, how bad this world is, youwould not begin to talk about its wonderful improvements, or to question the doctrine of human depravity! We are going on,according to some teachers, by, "evolution," into something-if I might predict what it is, I would say that it is into devilsthat many men are being evolved! They are going down, down, down, except where eternal Grace is begetting in the heart ofmen a higher and better and nobler nature which must bear its protest against the ignorance or hypocrisy which this day talksabout-the improvements of our civilization and the progress that we are making towards God! "Until the day breaks and theshadows flee away," keep yourselves to your Lord and hear this voice sounding through the darkness-the voice of Wisdom thatsees more than you see-"Come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; andI will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty."

"Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away," lift your hands to Heaven and pledge yourselves to walk a separate pilgrimlife until He comes before whose face Heaven and earth shall flee away!

III. Now I close by noticing OUR PETITION-"Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be like aroe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether."

I am not going to preach upon that part of our text, but only just urge you to turn it into prayer. We have to wait, Brothersand Sisters-we have to wait in the darkness, cheered, here and there, with the light from a golden lamp that glows with theLight of God. The world lies in darkness, but we are of God, little children, therefore this must be our prayer to our Well-Beloved,"Come to us." "Turn to me, O my Beloved, for You have turned away from me, or from Your Church. Turn again, I beseech You.Pardon my lukewarmness, forgive my indifference. Turn to me again, my Beloved. O You Husband of my soul, if I have grievedYou, and You have hidden Your face from me, turn again to me! Smile, for then shall the day break and the shadows flee away!Come to me, my Lord, visit me once again." Put up that prayer, Beloved.

The prayer of the spouse is in this poetic form-"Come over the mountains of division." As we look out into the darkness, whatlittle light there is appears to reveal to us Alp upon Alp, mountain upon mountain and our Beloved seems divided from us byall those hills. Now our prayer is that He would come over the top of them-we cannot go over the top of them to Him-but Hecan come over the top of them to us, if He thinks fit to do so. Like the hinds' feet, this blessed Hind of the morning cancome skipping over the hills with utmost speed to visit and to deliver us! Make this your prayer, "Great Master, sweet BelovedOne, come over the mountains of division and come quickly, like a roe or a young hart! Come easily, come unexpectedly! Asroes and harts let no man know when they will come, so come You to me." I wish that, even while we are sitting here, our DivineLord would come to our spirits with all His ravishing charms, so that we might cry, "Before I was aware, my soul made me likethe chariots of Amminadib."

Have you never felt an influence steal over you which has lifted you out of yourself and made you go as on burning wheelswith axles hot with speed where before you had been sluggish and dull? Our Well-Beloved can come and visit us all of a sudden,without any trouble to Himself. It cost Him His life's blood to come to earth to save us-it will cost Him nothing to comejust now to bless us! Remember what He has already done, for, having done so much, He will not deny you the lesser blessingof coming to you. Are you saved by His Grace? Then do not think that He will refuse you fellowship with Himself!

Pray for it now. Before we come to the Communion Table, pray for it and while you are sitting there, let this be your cry,"Come to me, my Beloved, over the hills of division! Come as a roe or a young hart." And He will come to you. Put up yourprayer in the sweet words we sang just now-

"When will You come to me, Lord?

come, my Lord most dear! Come near, come nearer, nearer still, I'm blest when You are near!

When will You come to me, Lord? Until You do appear,

1 count each moment for a day, Each minute for a year."

Oh, that this might be one of those happy seasons when you shall not be fed by the preacher's talk, but by the Master revealingHimself to you! May God graciously grant it!

I may be addressing some who long to find the Savior. This morning I got from a friend who came in to see me, an illustrationwhich I will give to you. He told me-and oh, how he made my heart rejoice!-that six years ago he was, so the Apostle says,"going about to establish his own righteousness." He is a man of reputation and when a friend sent him some of my sermonsto read, he thought to himself, "What do I need these sermons for? I am as good as any man can be." But he did read them andthe friend asked him, "Have you read those sermons of Mr. Spurgeon's that I sent you?" "Yes," he replied, "I have, but I havegot no good out of them." "Why not?" "Why," he said, "he has spoiled me! He has dashed my hopes to the ground. He has takenaway my comfort and my joy. I thought myself as good as anybody living and he has made me feel as if I were rotten right through.""Oh," said his friend, "that medicine is working well! You must take some more of it." But the more of the sermons he read,the more unhappy he became, the more he saw the hollowness of all his former hopes-and he came into a great darkness-ad theday did not break and the shadows did not flee away!

But, all of a sudden, he was brought out into the light, by God's Grace! As he told me the story, this morning, his eyes werewet and so were mine. This is how the Lord led him into peace. I wish the telling of it might bring the same blessing to someof you. He said, "I went with my friend to fish for salmon in Loch Awe. I threw a fly and as I threw it, a fish leaped upand took it in a moment." "There," said the friend to him, "that is what you have to do with Christ, what that fish did withyour fly! I am sure I do not know whether the fly took the fish, or the fish took the fly-it was both, the bait took the fish-andthe fish took the bait. Do just so with Christ and do not ask any questions. Leap up at Him, take Him in, lay hold of Him!"The man did so and at once he was saved! I wish that somebody else would do the same. I never ask you to answer the questionwhether it is Christ who takes you or you who take Christ, for both things will happen at the same moment. Will you have Him?Will you have Him? If you will have Him, He has you! If you are willing to have Christ, Christ has already made you willingin the day of His power! Throw yourself upon Christ, as the salmon opened his mouth and took in the bait, so you take Christinto your very soul!

Writing to the Romans, Paul says, "The Word is near you, even in your mouth." What is the thing to do with that which is inyour mouth when you want to keep it? Why, swallow it, of course! Do so with Christ! Let Him go right down into your soul!Put Him into your mouth, as it were, while I am preaching. Accept Him, receive Him and He is yours directly. Then shall theday break and the shadows flee away and your Beloved shall have come to you over the mountains of division, never to leaveyou, but to abide with you forever! O blessed Spirit of God, grant all here Divine Grace to swallow Christ, now, for onlyYou can grant them life that they may swallow! God bless you! Amen.


Verses 22-23. And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neitherfor the body, what you shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. If you are God's servants,He will clothe you. There is no servitor of the Lord of Hosts who will have to go without his necessities and not one whobelongs to His vast household, even though he is but a menial in God's kitchen, who will ever be permitted to starve.

24-26. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: howmuch more are you better than the fowls? And which of you, by worrying, can add to his stature one cubit? If you, then, arenot able to do that thing which is least, why are you anxious for the rest? How little you can do for yourself after all!Therefore, leave the whole with God-

"Make you His service your delight, He'll make your needs His care." The best cure for the cares of this life is to care muchto please God! If we loved Him better, we should love the world far less, and be less troubled about our portion in it.

27,28. Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say to you, that Solomon in all his glorywas not arrayed like one of those. If, then, God so clothes the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast intothe oven; how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? What a title to address us-"O you of little faith!"-but,depend upon it, we deserve it when we are full of anxious care. Much care indicates little faith. When faith is strong, shecasts all her care on Him who cares for us. Oh, that we could but be rid of that which, after all, is not our business, andgive our whole mind, heart and soul to what is our business, namely, to please our Creator, our Redeemer, our Friend!

29, 30. And seek not what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be you of doubtful mind. For all those things dothe nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have need of these things. Is not that a sweet word? "YourFather knows that you have need of these things." There used to be a hymn which was sung a good deal at revival meetings.It had a very sweet refrain, "This my Father knows." If you cannot, yourselves, understand your case, your Father knows allabout it. If you cannot make other people comprehend it, yet your Father knows all that needs to be known. Whatever you reallyrequire, even for the present life, need not be any cause of anxiety to you, Believers, for "your Father knows that you haveneed of these things." There is no need, therefore, for you to seek "what you shall eat, or what you shall drink."

31, 32. But rather seek you the Kingdom of God; and all those things shall be added to you. Fear not, little flock; for itis your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. He gives others a good many things, but He will give you the Kingdom!Just as Abraham gave portions to the sons of Keturah and sent them away, but Isaac had the Covenant blessing, so, "it is yourFather's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."

33. Sell what you have, and give alms. Not only give to the poor till you pinch yourself, but even pinch yourself to do it!

33-35. Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neithermoth corrupts. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and your lightsburning. Never be undressed, as it were, in a moral or spiritual sense-"Let your loins be girded about." Never be in the dark,spiritually. Keep in the Light of God-let your lamp be always burning. Not only walk in the Light of God, but let your lightshine before men.

36. And you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes andknocks, they may open to him immediately. Brothers and Sisters, whatever theory we hold about the future, may God grant thatit may never prevent our looking for the coming of Christ as an event which may happen at any moment-and being on the watchfor it as a matter the date of which we do not know! The practical essence of all Scriptural teaching upon that subject isjust this, "You yourselves be like men that wait for their Lord, when He will return from the wedding."

37. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, shall find watching: verily I say to you, that he shall girdhimself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. I will not attempt to fully explain this passageof Scripture in the few moments which I can give to it, but it is very wonderful. Our Lord has been here once and girded Himselfto serve us, but is it not extraordinary that here is an intimation of a second girding of Himself that He may serve us? Oh,how fond is Christ of being the Servant of servants, ministering to those who delight to minister to Him! What an honor doesthe Captain of our salvation put upon the lowest soldiers in this war when He declares that if we are found faithful, He willgird Himself and come forth and serve us!

38-40. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and nothave suffered his house to be broken into. Be you, therefore, ready also: for the Son of Man comes at an hour when you thinknot. Perhaps He will not come when the modern "prophets" say that He will appear, but He will come when least of all He isexpected. Therefore, expect the unexpected! Look for your Lord to come when the many go to sleep. Perhaps, while yet I amspeaking, before this gathered assembly shall disperse, there may be heard the cry, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes; go outto meet Him!" Are our loins girded? Are our lamps burning? God bless His own truth to the effecting of both those ends!

41-43. Then Peter said to Him, Lord, speak You this parable to us, or even to all? And the lord said, Who then is that faithfuland wise steward, whom his master shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessedis that servant, whom his master, when he comes, shall find so doing. Distributing the Bread of Life, giving milk to babesand meat to strong men-not behaving as if he were master, but acting only as a steward who distributes, not his own-but hisMaster's stores. Oh, that we who are ministers of Christ may be always doing this! So shall we obtain the blessing promisedto "that servant, whom his master, when he comes, shall find so doing."

44, 45. Of a truth I say to you, that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart,My master delays his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunk. Firsthe becomes lordly. He acts as if he were master, beats his fellow servants. He is harsh and ungenerous and assumes great dignityand gives himself airs. Let him mind what he is doing, for his master will come and catch him usurping his place. The nextdanger is that he begins to enjoy himself, to be voluptuous, self-indulgent-"To eat and drink, and to be drunk." He becomesintoxicated with pride! He is carried away with divers errors and, in making much of himself, he loses his head and acts likea fool.

46. The master of that servant will come in a day when he looks not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and willcut him in two, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. Truly, our Lord uses very strong words! The Savioris not one of your effeminate preachers like those of modern times who seem as if the very word, "Hell," would burn theirlips, and who will not warn men to flee from the wrath to come! It is an unkind and heartless lack of humanity which preventstheir being faithful to the souls of men. The great Lord, who is full of tenderness, does not hesitate to use the sternestfigure and the most terrible language, simply because He does not consult His own feelings but aims at the highest good ofthose with whom He deals! This is a terrible word for us if we are unfaithful at the last-"He will cut him in two, and willappoint him his portion with the unbelievers." It is an awful thing that the unfaithful servant gets his portion with thosewho do not believe in Christ. The Lord preserve all of us from such a doom!

47, 48. And that servant, which knew his master's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shallbe beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with a few stripes.For to whomever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask themore. Under the shadow of such solemn texts as these, let us draw near to God in earnest prayer.