Sermon 2556. Life Proved by Love
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, FEBRUARY 13, 1898.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY 18, 1883.
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." 1 John 3:14.
I HAVE heard it said, by those who would be thought philosophers, that in religion we must believe, but cannot know. I amnot very clear about the distinction they draw between knowledge and faith, nor do I care to enquire because I assert that,in matters relating to religion, we do know! In the things of God, we both believe and know. If you will read this Epistlethrough and, with a pencil draw a line under the word, "know," wherever it occurs, you will be astonished to see how Johncontinually asserts about the great Truths of our faith, "We know, we know, we know, we know." He does not admit that anyone of these things is the subject of conjecture, but he asserts it to be a matter of positive knowledge. These philosophicalgentlemen call themselves Agnostics-that is a word derived from the Greek and has the same meaning as the word, "ignoramus,"which comes from the Latin-and is the English equivalent for a "know-nothing." Well, if they like to be called ignoramuses,I have not the slightest objection to their keeping the title, but they should never presume to argue with Christian men!They put themselves out of court, directly, for we say, " We know." They cannot deny anything we choose to affirm, after that,because confessedly they do not know. If we do know and they cannot allege against us that we are deceivers-if, in any courtof law they will admit that our testimony would be taken quite as quickly as theirs, and that our general repute is that weare as upright and as honest as they are-then they ought, in modesty, never to contradict us in anything, but to believe whatwe declare to be true.
As they do not know anything, themselves, let them be guided by those who doknow. At any rate, whether they choose to agreewith us or not, we shall always affirm that we know what we know! And there are some things about God, and about the future,and about prayer and about the work of the Spirit of God in our own souls which we do not fancy, or imagine, or even maketo be merely matters of faith. We know them, we are sure of them, for we have felt them, tasted them, handled them-and weknow them as surely as we know the fact of our own existence. My text seems to me to speak of four things about which Believersin Christ are and ought to be positive and certain.
I. First, WE KNOW THAT ONCE WE WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS. That is implied in the text- "We know that we have passedfrom death unto life." We could not have passed from death if we were not in death. Neither would there have been a changein bringing us into life if we were in life before. Herein, I believe, lies the Doctrine of the Natural Ruin of Man-his originalsin, the depravity of his heart. I have heard it said that the children of some Christians are so very good-I suppose on accountof their having such wonderfully good fathers and mothers-that they may be considered to have been born in the Church. They,I am assured, have no need of any conversion, and they never ought to need it. There are such principles within the dear littlesouls that you have only to nourish those blessed principles and they will turn into veritable angels! I have seen some ofthese children and I regret to say that I have not found them different in nature from other people's boys and girls, neitherhave they grown up to be better than the children of the most ungodly. I believe, concerning everybody's child, that it mustbe born again, that the Spirit of God must change its natural heart if it is to become a child of God. At any rate, whatevermay be the theory as regards other people, we know that wewere once dead in sin-we have no question about that!
We who have been converted and become the subjects of the work of the Spirit of God know that we were once fast bound in spiritualdeath-at one time we were utterly insensible. We heard the Word of God and were pleased, perhaps, with the oratory of thespeaker, or moved by his earnestness. But we were never led, by all his pleadings, to hate sin and to believe in Christ. Wewere shaken, but we were not awakened. We were insensible, spiritually, to the power of the Law of God. We heard it preachedand we might be, for a moment, disquieted, but we never felt the terror of the condemnation which God pronounces upon thesinner who breaks His Law. If we did feel anything of it, we strived to get away from its influence-and drowned in pleasureand in sin all thoughts of the wrath of God. We could also hear the Gospel, as well as the Law, and the sweetest note in ithad no music for our ears. What cared we for Jesus and His bleeding wounds? What respect had we for Infinite Love and theinvitations of the precious Word? We came and we went, yet continued just as we were. We saw our face in the glass, but wedid not wash it-and the spots of sin still remained.
Some of you, dear Friends, remember that you had grown so insensible to spiritual things that you did not even care to hearthe Gospel. The Sabbath was to some of you just like any other day in the week, except that, sometimes, you took most of yourpleasure that day-which meant that you went further in sin than you ordinarily did-for your daily labor kept you pretty steadythrough the week. You know how often Sunday brought "St. Monday" after it, with all sorts of mischief in its train-the Sabbathbecame to you rather a door of sin than a gate of mercy. Some of you had godly parents, yet you took no notice of your father'sGod and your mother's Savior. You saw others go to the House of Prayer, but you were in your shirt-sleeves all the morning.And in the evening you "did not care to go," you said, "to be stirred up with a crowd to listen to dry talk." Just so-allthis was because you were quite insensible to Divine things. Charm he ever so wisely, the charmer cannot allure the deaf adderand, for a time, the Gospel's charming music could not reach your ears. That was one proof of your being dead-that you werespiritually insensible.
More than that, we had not the appetites of living men and women. You know that if a man is alive, he will be hungry, in duetime. There is a bell that is sure to ring inside to tell him that it is time to coal up and set the fires going again. Hewill be thirsty, too. The body will need moisture and there will be a summons for him to drink if he is alive. He may be juston the borders of life, perhaps almost gone, and then hunger and thirst may be forgotten, but the healthy man has these tokensof life about him at fit seasons-that he must eat and drink. There was a time when you and I had no hunger for the Bread ofLife. "Pshaw," we said, "what cant! What nonsense!" We did not desire to drink of "the river of the Water of Life." We didnot believe in its existence and, though now every drop of the Gospel is sweet to us as honey, we cared not an atom aboutit once! We despised the Doctrines of Grace and we did not wish for the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself! He who isthe Bread of Heaven was without any attraction for us-we did not feel any need of Him. We thought that we were strong andcould find our own way into Heaven. We did not know our own weakness nor His strength. We believed that we were fat and flourishingand, therefore, we did not need to feed upon Him. It is perfectly true that with regard to Grace and all spiritual things,we were dead! "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." But dead are theyunto whom no spiritual hunger or thirst ever comes! This was the second proof of our spiritual death.
There was this further evidence that we were without power of movement of a spiritual kind. You remember the philosopher whowas asked to prove that he lived and he did it by simply walking? Movement is a proof of life. Certainly, spiritualmovementproves spiritual life. To draw near to You, my God, proves that I am alive. To approach You- though it is with faltering steps,like a tottering infant who any moment may fall-yet, to draw near to You, though I do but crawl like a baby of a few monthsold, proves that I am alive! The movement of godly desire, the movement of a humble hope, the movement of a holy wish, themovement of a penitential sigh or cry-if there are any of these in the soul-they are proofs of life. It is not so very longago since some of you had none of them. I had the great delight, yesterday, of seeing many who have just lately been quickenedby Divine Grace. Many of them, as they looked me in the face with holy shame, told how dead they had been towards God-theywere alive, indeed, unto transgression and unrighteousness-but stone dead as to any movement of the Spirit of God who nowhas made them alive in Christ Jesus!
There is another sign which proves death, namely, the lack of breath That is one of the last tokens of expiring life. Youhave heard of friends holding a mirror to the man's mouth and, as long as there is a little dimness to be seen upon the glass,they say, "He still lives." But when the breath is all gone, then the life has gone. The poet truly said-
"Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,"
but there was a time with us when we did not pray. Perhaps some of you, from your childhood, always said a form of prayerand if you ever went to bed without saying it, you dared not go to sleep. Yet how much of that formality was but a mockeryof God! I will not speak too harshly about the child's form of prayer, for sometimes that form has been made use of by Godto lead on to true spiritual supplication. Still, it would be idle for us to imagine that the mere repetition of certain wordswas prayer-we know, now, that it was notprayer. We did not really ask anything of God, we did not truly speak to God at all-wemight just as well have said our prayers backward, as forward, for any good there was in them! I have heard of some peoplewho, even at 30 and 40 years of age, have repeated the same form of prayer that they used when they were children. I haveeven read of one who, at 60 or 70, used to pray God to bless his father and mother who had been dead 30 years! When men onceget into the way of using a form of prayer, they are apt to keep to that form when there is positively no meaning whateverin it. That is the state in which some of us were-we used dead prayers, for there was no life in us.
Ah, but it is not so now, Beloved! Now, we pray. I think that some of us could more easily tell when we pray than when wedo not pray. As we walk the crowded streets, we cry to God in secret, "Oh, that You would be with me!" We cannot read a bookwithout praying that we may have help from God to spy out the meaning. We do not even go to look at a baby without pleadingwith God to save the soul of that dear child. We feel habitually in the spirit of prayer. If it is not so with any of us,we ought to pray that it may be so! Mark you, the spiritof prayer is better than any mere act of prayer. The act of prayeris good, the habit of prayer is good, but to have the spiritof prayer always with us so that we as naturally pray as we breathe-thisis the highest blessing of all-and one of the surest signs of spiritual life!
I grieve to add, but it is true of some of us in a very special degree, that we know we were dead in sin because we had begunto corrupt. If a man has lost his life for only a certain number of hours, he may still look very much as he did and, if theeyes were the only guide, we might scarcely know whether he was a living man or not. But that appearance will not last manydays-you soon perceive the signs of an inward dissolution. Corruption is beginning to take possession of the place which deathhas conquered and, very soon, you will have to say, "Bury my dead out of my sight." It happened to some of us to be, in oursalvation, like the little girl to whom Christ went soon after the breath was out of her body. He took her by the hand andsaid, "Talitha, cumi"-"Maid, arise"-and she lived again before corruption had worked any great change within her. Happy arethey who are saved in their youth, before the inward death has begun to show itself in outward corruption! Yet, some of uswho were converted while we were yet boys, remember enough of our wanderings to make us fear what we might have been if Gracehad not interposed.
I have often told the story of Rowland Hill and the good Scotchman who sat for some time looking at the preacher's face andat the strange, comic twinkling about his eyes. "What are you doing?" he asked. "I am looking at the lines of your face,"said the Scotchman. "And what do you make of them?" "Oh, I was thinking what a bad fellow you would have become if it hadnot been for the Grace of God." And some of us, as we look back at the lines of our young character before it was allowedto develop, cannot help saying to ourselves, "What great sinners we would have been but for the Grace of God!" There werealready tokens of commenced corruption.
But there are others in whom the corruption has become more apparent. They have gone into actual transgression and have becomefamiliar with what are called the pleasures of this world-its vanities, gaieties and pollutions. They have not been worsethan others. Indeed, even while dead in sin, they compliment themselves that they are not so bad as others! Yet they wouldnot like to have their secret deeds proclaimed before the face of all men, as they will be at the Judgment Day! They wouldbe ashamed to have them known. You, my Friend, are like that young man who was carried out at the gate of Nain, whom Christmet on the way to the sepulcher and raised from the dead. You are dead, surely enough, but there are some others who are dead,like Lazarus, who had lain four days in the grave-and of whom his sister said, "Lord, by this time he stinks." God's Gracehas come to some who will easily recognize my description of them-when they were as far gone in evil as they could be. Therewas not any other sin left for them to commit! They had sinned up to their neck-they had plunged into it and done as muchevil as they could. Rottenness was in their very soul, corruption was in everything they said, for it was full of obscenityand blasphemy. It was in all they did, for the more nauseous the sin was in the nostrils of God, the more pleasing it wasto them! There are some here who will always say, "I know that I was dead, for I was corrupt. Death had set his seal uponme with a stamp that could not be mistaken. I was, indeed, dead before God, for I had begun to be offensive even in the nostrilsof good men."
That will suffice for this part of our subject. Let us look back with shame on our original. Let us remember the hole of thepit from where we were dug and then stand fast in this one certainty-we know that we were dead.
II. Secondly, we know another thing and a brighter thing-WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE UNDERGONE A
VERY AMAZING CHANGE-"We know that we have passed from death unto life."
That passage, "from death unto life," is the reverse of the natural one. We all expect to pass from life unto death. The heathentalks of a Charon to ferry men across the river into the unseen world. Long ago the poet said, "Easy is the descent to Avernus.But to retrace your steps-that is the work, that is the difficulty." Yet that is just what God has done for us who believe!We have not gone from life to death, but He has brought us up from death unto life! There has been such a change in us asis altogether supernatural, such a change as never would have occurred had we been left to ourselves. We now are sure thatit is so. I speak to some in whom the change is so evident to themselves that they often wonder at it. One of the surest proofsto any man of the existence of a God consists in His dealings with that man in turning him front darkness to light, and fromthe power of sin and Satan, unto God. All the arguments that ever were written by Butler, or Paley, or any of the defendersof religion, will never convince a man like coming into personal dealings with God. And when those dealings assume this form-thatwe have passed from death unto life-they become indisputable proofs of the Godhead and of the power of the Gospel of JesusChrist!
I do not think that it is easy to describe the passage from life to death. I could not describe it, though I have seen manypass away. And it is almost impossible to describe the passage from death unto life. I know what it is, as you do, Brothersand Sisters, many of you. It has happened in your own case, yet you could not explain it. What a wonderful process it is!It is not dying-it is quite the reverse-it is being quickened. Can you tell another person how it happened? You can speakof the outward means and the external circumstances, but you cannot picture to anyone the secret way of the Spirit. His methodsof quickening are deep mysteries and even he who has felt them cannot translate them into human language. Yet believe us,O Unbelievers, we are before you, men and women as different from what we used to be as though we had died and risen fromthe dead! We are, some of us here, so changed and altered that if we met our old selves, we would not know them! We are nolonger ourselves, though now most truly we are ourselves by the effectual working of the almighty Grace of God!
We can tell you, however, that this passing from death unto life usually begins with pain. I have heard that when men havebeen nearly drowned and animation has been restored by rubbing and other processes, their first sensation was that of intenseanguish. When the blood began to move, again, and the lungs began gently to heave, the first feeling was one of great pain.You know how, if your foot, "goes to sleep," as we say, when it begins to get right, again, what pain there often is! Thatis, on a very small scale, what happens to a man who is being resuscitated-it is just a faint picture of the pain that isusually felt by those who pass from death to life. Yet let me lay down no hard and fast rule! I am not giving a descriptionthat is to be stereotyped, but I only say what usually happens. I do not know that the little girl, to whom the Lord Jesussaid, "Talitha, cumi," had any pain at all. I expect that she just opened her eyes and sat up, and as soon as she saw thatit was Jesus, she wanted to wait upon Him, but He commanded that something should be given her to eat. And there are somedear children and some persons of older age who are brought to Jesus very gently. There are not so many pangs in their birthas there are in the births of others-yet they are as truly regenerated and born into the family of God. Still, I think thatthe new life usually begins with pain.
One of the first signs of it is that it is accompanied with great self-depreciation. The man who is passing from death tolife grows very little in his own esteem. He gets to despise what he once thought to be his beauty and his comeliness. Asto his supposed excellence, he is not half the man he thought he was! He would never have been able to go through the needle'seye while he was such a size as that, so he had to be reduced and then still further reduced till he became less than nothingin his own eyes.
At the same time, when that life really does begin in a soul, it begin very quickly. There may be, at first, only enough lightto make the darkness visible, only enough life to incarnate itself in a sigh. The prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner,"is rather a large-sized form of the heavenly life. Sometimes the poor, trembling soul cannot get as far as that. Yet, nota single spark of the Divine Life ever dies out, or ever can. The living and incorruptible seed of the Word of God lives andabides forever! If it is but as a grain of mustard seed and it falls into the ground which God has prepared for it, it mustlive and it must grow! But, often, it is at first exceedingly weak. The test of its reality is that the man trusts in
Jesus, for "he that believes on the Son has everlasting life." That is a sure Word of God, for He has, Himself, spoken it:"Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." The renewed man, however feeble his life may be, does believe in Jesusand, therefore, he is saved!
When that life comes to the birth, it is usually attended with great joy. When at last the man has believed in Jesus, andrested in Him, then he passes from darkness to light in the sense of passing from sorrow into overflowing joy! It is not alwaysso, but that is the general way-there is a joy unspeakable and full of glory which attends this passing from death unto life-itis a period to which a man may always look back with gratitude to God. I am always glad when our friends get a very decidedconversion because, though I am not going to say a word about those who come to Christ very gradually, yet their experienceis rather cloudy. No doubt they are just as safe as others, but they lack a good deal of comfort afterwards and, sometimes,persons who are very readily converted and who have no very deep sense of sin, are more apt to play with evil than othersare who have had a clearer sight of its enormity. So, we know-however it came to pass-we knowthat we have undergone a veryamazing change!
III. Thirdly, we know something else. WE KNOW THAT WE LIVE-"We know that we have passed from death unto life."
In that life, first of all, is included non-condemnation. A man who is condemned to die can hardly be said to live, but hewho has believed in Jesus Christ knows that there is, for him, no condemnation! Nothing shall ever be laid to his charge,for all his sins were punished on Christ-a full atonement was made for them-and they were forever put away. This we know,and we rejoice to know it-it is the very glory and bliss of our life!
We live now, dear Friends, in this way-we have entered into a new state of being. We have made the acquaintance of a greatmany things that we did not know anything of before. "All things have become new." "Ah, Sir," said one to me once, "eitherall the world has altered, or else I have, for people I once delighted in I am now afraid of. The things that once made meglad, now make me unhappy, and those that I thought melancholy are now the very things in which I find my highest joy." Yes,we have not merely to talk about God, now, but to knowHim! Not simply to speak about Christ, but to live in Him! Not now todream or read about the Spirit of God, but to felHim working in us! We have come now to know the blood of Jesus as appliedto our souls to make us clean-the promises are now our riches and prayer is a reality to us! We never need anybody to tellus that there is a power in prayer, for we have tokens from day to day that the Lord hears our petitions. We are living ina new world altogether, we know we are! These things were unknown and unperceived by us once, but they are perceived by usnow.
Beside that, we are now introduced into spiritual society. I hardly know how to explain the great change to some here, butsuppose you had been a pig all your life and that you were suddenly made into a man. Well, now you are a man, you look througha telescope-swine cannot do that. You look through a microscope-I never knew a pig do that in my life. Swine do not talk,but you speak, you sing, you pray, you are quite a different creature from what you were before. It is just so with some ofus-we have another life than we ever possessed before, we live in a different world to what we used to live in, we know thingsthat were unknowable to us once, we enjoy what we never had enjoyed and we have griefs that never occurred to us before wepassed from death unto life. By all these things we know that we do really live.
Further, this new life necessitates new food. We feel, now, an appetite which nothing but Christ can satisfy! We love theHouse of God, we delight in God's Word, and when the Holy Spirit blesses us, then are we filled as with marrow and fatness!We believe, too, that this life guarantees to us eternal life-that, in fact, it is eternal life-life that can never die, orbe taken away from us. Let me tell you, my un-converted Friend, that we are very happy! "But," you say, "you said that youhad sorrows which we do not have." Exactly so. Men, you know, have sorrows which swine do not have. Do I compare you to swine?Well, if you do not like that image, I cannot help it. I will take any other that is true, but there is as great a differencebetween a living Christian and a mere man as there is between a living man and a dog. He has another life, a higher life andhe has entered another realm. I would not try to teach a dog astronomy and it is impossible for an unrenewed man to know thethings of God. I should not think of putting my dog into a chair and beginning to explain theology to him-and until you areborn again, you will never understand the meaning of God's Grace. You must get a new life, pass from death unto life, or youcannot know these things. But we who believe in Jesus know that we have this life.
IV. Now, fourthly, WE KNOW THAT WE LIVE BECAUSE WE LOVE.
The enquiry as to whether we are alive or not is a very curious thing. This morning I received a letter informing me thatthe High Court of Chancery has ordered investigation, with affidavit, as to whether "the said Charles Haddon Spurgeon" isstill alive. I replied to the lawyer that I would not make an affidavit to that effect, for I would not take an oath for anypurpose, but that I was willing most solemnly to affirm that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, I am still alive. AndI expect to have to do that before long. I did not say to myself, "Am I really alive or not?" But I have known some Christianpeople, who have so often sung-
"'Tis a point I long to know"- which all of us have to sing some time or other-that they are not sure whether they are aliveor not! Making themselves sad, miserable and melancholy, they think is a proof of life. Perhaps it is, but there are otherproofs of life beside that, and I like the one that is given in the text-"We know that we have passed from death unto life,because we love the brethren."
So, Brothers and Sisters, if we can say that we love God's people, as God's people, because they are God's people, that isa mark that we have passed from death unto life! Do you love them for Christ's sake?Do you say to yourself, "That is one ofChrist's people. That is one who bears Christ's Cross. That is one of the children of God and, therefore, I love him and takedelight in his company"? Then that is an evidence that you are not of the world. If you were, you would love the world, but,belonging to Christ, you love those who are Christ's and you love them for Christ's sake.
Another is you love them for the Truth of God's sake. We are but earthen vessels, yet there is the excellency of the treasureof God put within us, so, when you can say, "I love that man because of the Truth of God he preaches. I do not care abouthis talents, but I do care about his Gospel"-when you can say, "I love that woman, I delight to hear her speak of Jesus, herexperience comforts me because it is full of Christ." Or, "I love to read the writings of such a Brother because there isa savor of Christ about every letter that he writes"-that is a mark that you have passed from death unto life. If you lovethe children, you love the Father, I am pretty sure of that. And if you love Him, it is because He first loved you!
It is another mark of our passing from death unto life when we love God's people for their own sake, when we wish that wewere like they are, when we say to ourselves, "I would gladly be the least among them, washing their feet and filling thehumblest place, so that I might share the love which is their joy." It is a sure token that you are a child of God when youlove God's people even when the world hates them, taking their part, being willing to be reproached with them. When you say,"You scoff at such a saint, do you? I am one of the same family, so give me some of your scorn! If you have any rotten stuffto fling and you set this Christian man in the pillory, I will stand by his side and count it a great honor to share the contemptthat comes upon a child of God." If you thus love the saints, you need not be afraid whether you have passed from death untolife.
It is also a sure mark of Grace when we love the company of God's people as a people, when we are willing to go to the littlePrayer Meeting to hear them pray, when we hear them groaning and yet feel, "That is just the kind of sorrow that I would liketo feel." When we hear them joyful and say, "That is the kind ofjoy I want to feel." When we hear them tell about what theLord has done for them, and though we have not felt quite the same joy, ourselves, yet say, "I love them because the Lordhas loved them. If He has not yet worked all this in me, I love them because He has worked it in them. I rejoice to see myFather's finger anywhere, on anyone, whoever he may be." Well, if that is your case, go your way in peace! It seems but avery small token of the inward life that we love the Brothers and Sisters, yet it is one of the surest in the world, and itis one of which even you high and mighty saints may be glad to avail yourselves in the cloudy and dark day which, sooner orlater, may come upon you.
God grant us all to have a share in this precious knowledge, for Christ's sake! Amen and Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM32.
A Psalm of David, giving instruction. The 32nd Psalm is a Gospel benediction. It belongs not to the law-it is a word whichcan only come of Sovereign Grace to the guilty. The very first sentence tells us that.
Verse 1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed would have been the man who never transgressed,who never sinned, but, be encouraged, O Sinner, there is blessedness even for the likes of you! Blessed is he who, thoughhe has transgressed, has had his transgression forgiven-who, though he has sinned, and sinned often, and sinned foully, yet,nevertheless, has had his sin covered. There is such blessedness in this forgiveness that scarcely can the bliss of an unfallenspirit excel it! There is a tenderness, a delicacy, a fragrance, a love about the dealings of God with pardoned sinners thateven angels can scarcely tell the excessive sweetness of it! They have never known the joy of redeeming Grace and dying loveand, although they are blessed, yet peculiarly and especially is he blessed "whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin iscovered."
2. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. He is blessed twiceover. God multiplies the blessing. He blesses him effectually, He blesses him emphatically, He blesses him in body, He blesseshim in soul. He is blessed! He has iniquities, but God does not impute them to him. They have been of old imputed to Anotherwho stood in the sinner's place, bore the sinner's guilt and put it all away by His own expiatory sufferings! Therefore, asthese deeds were put to Christ's account, they are not laid to the account of the Lord's people! "Blessed is the man untowhom Jehovah imputes not iniquity." But even pardon and deliverance from guilt would not be sufficient to make a man blessedif they stood alone, for, as long as our heart is full of sin and deceit and follows crooked ways, there can be no true restto us. Therefore the blessedness comes to the man "in whose spirit there is no guile"-no falsehood. The guile and the guilthave gone together and the gall is gone, too. Now the man is truthful, so he confesses his sin. He is also trustful, so helays hold on the sinner's Substitute and thus he finds peace. Dear Friends, do you all know this blessedness? If you do not,I pray that you may, for it is Heaven begun below-the Heaven of a poor sinner whose sin is covered and whose heart is purifiedfrom guile. Now see the way by which we come to this blessedness-
3. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. Sin was in his heart but he would not confessit. He was silent before God in hardness of heart and then his sorrow grew worse and worse, till not only his flesh beganto fail, but his bones-the most solid part of his frame began to grow old, too. He felt like a man prematurely aged, meltingaway into the grave.
4. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer Selah. When a man getsGod's hand on him, I guarantee you that he will want no other burden! This hand of God goes with him wherever he goes, itis like his own shadow. Whenever you meet with persons who are self-righteous, you may pray God to lay his hand on them-thatwill drive the pride and unbelief out of them. David says that he was so pressed under God's hand that the very essence ofhis soul was squeezed out of him.
5. I acknowledged my sin unto You, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD;and You forgave the iniquity of my sins. Selah. "And You forgave"-blessed, "and!" How very simple it was! The floods of DivineWrath were swelling. David just pulled up the sluices of confession, the floods ran away, and all was quiet! Oh, what a simpleplan this is! But pride cannot stand it-to humble oneself and confess before God that one is utterly undone and ruined andsinful-our proud spirit will not bring itself to do if it can help it. Yet that is the way of peace. Down, down, down, flaton your face! "He that is down need fear no fall." But we do not like that going down, that acknowledgment of transgression.Still, we must come to it and the sooner, the better. The Lord bring every proud soul here to a full acknowledgment and confessionof sin-and then forgiveness will surely follow.
6. For this shall everyone who is godly pray unto You in a time when You may be found: surely in the floods of great watersthey shall not come near unto him. The fact that God hears us at the first and gives us a great deliverance when we are undera sense of sin, makes us pray to Him as long as we live. We shall never forget how God heard us then-and something whispersinto our heart, "He heard you then. He will hear you now." One thing I know, if you do not-I can never come to God again insuch a plight as I came to Him at the first. Whatever happens to me-if I am bereaved a thousand times-if I am covered fromhead to foot with sores and sit like Job on a dunghill-I can never be brought so low as I was when, in my despair, I was readyto lay violent hands on myself rather than live any longer under a sense of sin! I looked unto Him and I was lightened-andthat first grand deliverance ensures that, in every other time of trial, in every other flood of great waters, when I cryunto God, He will deliver me!
7. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.Here is a threefold declaration. "You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall compass me aboutwith songs of deliverance." "Yes," says God, "I will." And now He speaks to His servant. When we speak to God, we may expectthat God will speak to us. And what a happy dialog it is when a soul can pray, and praise, and magnify the Lord-and then theLord condescends to speak to His poor servant after this fashion!
8. I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. "I have led you so far. I have brought you up out of thehorrible pit and out of the miry clay. I will not let you perish, now. I will not leave you to your own folly."
8. I will guide you with My eyes. It is a very gentle way of guidance when a mistress just turns her eyes towards her servant,who understands her without a word. So God is quite willing to guide His people with His eyes if they are willing to be soguided.
9. Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle,lest they come near unto you. Alas, there are some hard-mouthed Christians! They will not take a hint from God. They do notwatch God's eyes and so do not learn by that gentle means and, therefore, they require to have a bit and a bridle-and suchthings are not at all nice in one's mouth. Some Christians must always be in trouble, or else they would be in sin. It seemsas if some could never be allowed a furlough from sorrow, or else they would spend it in the tents of wickedness-"Be you notas the horse, or as the mule." Be tender-mouthed. Be willing to be guided. Yield to the gentle admonitions of the Divine Spiritthat you may have a truly happy life.
10. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked. It is all merriment with them now-they "count it one of the wisest things, to drivedull care away." But hark to this knell of all their joys, "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked." If not today, or tomorrow,yet by-and-by, and in that day it shall be so. All the future is dark to the wicked. The further they go, the worse they willgrow.
10. But he that trusts in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about ' 'He that trusts in the Lord"-he is the very opposite ofthe wicked. Do you trust in the Lord, my Friend? If not, you will have to be put among the wicked, for there are only twosorts of people in the world-the wicked and those that trust in the Lord! If you are not a believer in Christ, you must gowith the other company. "He that trusts in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about." Mercy shall go all round him, beforehim, behind him, above him, beneath him, within him and around him everywhere! As you see the moon, sometimes, with a haloaround it, so shall you be-you shall have brightness within and round about you, mercy shall compass you about.
11. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, you righteous: and shout for joy, all you that are upright in heart If anybody has aright to be glad, you have! So indulge the gladness and magnify the name of the Lord.