Sermon 2802. Lukewarmness
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, OCTOBER 26, 1902.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK, ON A LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DURING THE WINTER OF 1860-61.
"Iknowyour works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, andneither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." Revelation 3:15,16.
IF this had been an utterance of mine, it would have been accounted vulgar. As a sentence of Scripture, I suppose it may bepermitted to escape the censure of fastidious modern critics. The vernacular tongue and the homely figure may be decried asvulgarities, but if so, it will be by those whose tastes have been ill-schooled. A vicious refinement has come into vogue.If men call things by their right names and use good old Saxon words, they are perpetually brought under the lash for havingindulged in vulgarities. A return to such "vulgarities" in the pulpit would be a return to power! I would far rather have,again, the homely language of Hugh Latimer, with all it singularity-and, I must confess, with some of its grossness-than havethe namby-pamby style of modern times in which sacred things are spoken of as if they were only meant to be whispered in drawingrooms and not to be uttered where men meet in everyday life. The fact is, the Bible is a book which deals with things as theyare-a book which, just like all of God's works, is glorious because it is natural and simple. God has not polished the rocksin the valleys. He has not set the mountains all in order, nor has He yet been pleased to make all parts of the earth justas fair and beautiful as if they had been intended to form a lovely landscape! But, at least, in some places He has hewn themout and left them rough and rugged-to stand in all their naked glory. So is it with this Book of God. There are things init at which the too-polite shrug their shoulders-not so many, perhaps, in the original as in our translation-but still, sufficientto shock a prudish taste. The Bible is, none the less, chaste because it scorns to call foul things by fair names. I lovethe Word of God because, while it is a God-like Book, it is also a man-like Book. In all the Glory of His Infinite Wisdom,the Lord has written to us this Divine message in the rugged grandeur and sublime simplicity of language which even a childcan comprehend!
The Lord Jesus here uses a plain, homely metaphor. As tepid water makes a man's stomach heave, so lukewarm profession is nauseousto the Almighty. He could better endure either the coldness of apathy or the warmth of enthusiasm- but the man who is lukewarmin religion moves Him to the deepest loathing. He vomits him forth from His mouth! His very name shall be dismissed from thelips of the Lord with the most sickening abhorrence that fancy can paint. It is an utterance so strong that no sentence ofthe most vehement and impassioned orator could rival it. There is such a depth of disgust in this warning against lukewarmnessthat I know of no figure within the range of imagination-and no words in the whole vocabulary of language which could haveconveyed the meaning of "Jesus Christ, who is the faithful Witness," so fully, or with such terrible force!
I am going to try to show you, from this text, first, some reasons why lukewarmness in religion is so distasteful to Christ.And then to point out to you some dissuasive against lukewarmness, urging you to be fervent in your Master's cause.
I. First, then, I am to give you SOME REASONS WHY LUKEWARM RELIGION IS SO DISTASTEFUL TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
And first, let me say that it is so because it is a direct insult to the Lord Jesus Christ. If I boldly say that I do notbelieve what He teaches, I have given Him the lie. But if I say to Him, "I believe what You teach, but I do not think it of
sufficient importance for me to disturb myself much about it," I do, in fact, more willfully resist His Word! I as much assay to Him, "If it is true, yet it is a thing which I so despise and consider so contemptible, that I will not give my heartto it." Did Jesus Christ think salvation of such importance that He must come from Heaven to earth to work it out? Did Hethink the Gospel, which He preached, so worthy to be made known that He must spend His life in proclaiming it? Did He thinkthe redemption, which He worked out, to be so valuable that He must shed His own precious blood in order to complete it? Then,surely, He was in earnest, so, if I profess to believe the Truths that He taught and yet am indifferent, do I not insult Christby seeming to insinuate that there was no need for Him to be in such dead earnest-that, in fact, He laid these things toodeeply to heart?
His intense zeal was not on His own account, but on behalf of others and, according to all reason, those who are the interestedparties for whom Christ's solemn engagements were undertaken should be even more earnest than He was, if that could be possible!Yet, instead of that being the case, here is Christ in earnest and we-too many of us-are lukewarm, "neither cold nor hot."This lukewarmness does not merely seem to give God the lie, it does not merely appear to censure Christ, but it does, as itwere, tell Him that the things which He thought were so valuable, are of no worth in our esteem-and so it insults Him to Hisface! O my Brothers and Sisters, have you ever really thought what an insult it is to God when we come before Him with lukewarmprayers? There stands the heavenly Mercy Seat. The road to it is sprinkled with the precious blood of Jesus, yet we come toit with hearts that are cold, or we approach it leaving our hearts behind us. We kneel in the attitude of prayer, yet we donot pray! We prattle out certain words, we express thoughts which are not our real desires, we feign needs that we do notfeel. Do we not thus degrade the Mercy Seat? We make it, as it were, a common lounging place rather than an awful wrestlingplace, once sprinkled with blood and often to be sprinkled with the sweat of our fervent supplication. When we come to theHouse of God to which Jesus Christ has invited us as to the banqueting house full of rich provisions, do we not come up, fulloften, just as we go to our shops-no, not with so much earnestness as we take with us to the Exchange or to the counting house?What do we thus seem to say but that God's House is a common place, that the provision thereof is but ordinary food and thatthe solemn engagements of God's sanctuary are but everyday things-not worthy of the zeal and energy of a sensible man, butonly meet to be attended to with lukewarmness of spirit.
I think if I were to pause longer, here, I could prove to you that I went not too far when I said that lukewarmness is aninsult to God. It insults Him in all that is dear to Him by casting a disparagement upon everything which He would have usto believe to be precious.
Does the Lord Jesus deserve such treatment at our hands May He not well say to us, if we are lukewarm, "I would you were coldor hot"? O Jesus, Your heart was full of love to those in whom there was nothing lovely! You did leave the glories of YourFather's House, though there was no necessity for You to do so, save the Divine necessity which was found in Your own heart,for You did love Your Church so much that You did become bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh. You did fight her enemies.You did rescue her out of the hands of him who was stronger than she was. You did pour out Your life's blood as the ransomprice for her redemption. Your pangs were grievous, Your sufferings were bitter, Your anguish was extreme. I look up to Yourthorn-crowned brow. I gaze into Your marred face and see those eyes red with weeping and those emaciated cheeks, and I say,"O Jesus, You are worthy of the best place in the human heart! You ought to be loved as never one was loved before. If thereare flames of love to You in my heart, let them burn like coals of juniper and let them be fanned to a most vehement heat."Oh, if it is possible for us to feel warm emotions, we ought to feel it here!
Is it not a sad thing that after all Christ's love to us, we should repay it with lukewarm love to Him? Which would you ratherhave-lukewarm love or positive hatred? Perhaps you have but little choice with regard to most people, but were it one verydear to you-the partner of your life, for instance-lukewarm love would be no love at all! What but misery could there be ina family where there was only lukewarm love? Is a father content with half-hearted affection from his children? In those relationshipswe give all our heart, but with regard to Christ, who has a far greater claim on us than husband, or father, or mother, orbrother-how is it that we dare to offer Him a distant bow, a cool recognition, a chill, inconstant, wavering heart? Let itbe so no longer, Beloved! O my Brothers and Sisters, I bid you, by His agony and bloody sweat, by His Cross and passion, byall the pangs that went through His sacred body and by the deeper anguish of His inmost soul, I beseech you, either love Himor hate Him! Either drive Him from the door of your heart
and let Him know that you are not His friend-or else give Him a whole heart full of affection, almost ready to burst withthe fervor of your love toward Him!
But though these two things-insult and ingratitude to Christ-would be quite sufficient to justify the strong expressions inour text, let me remind you, further, that the lukewarm professor compromises God in the eyes of the world by all that hedoes and says. If a man is an infidel, openly profane, known to have no connection with Christ and His cause, let him do whathe may-he brings no scandal on the Savior's name. He has no fear of God before his eyes, he is in open enmity against theMost High and, therefore, though he is rebellious and wicked, full of sedition and blasphemy, yet he does not compromise thedignity of God. But when the lukewarm professor of Christianity goes forth before ungodly men, they say, "This man pretendsto be a child of God. He professes to have been washed in the blood of Christ. He stands before us and challenges our observationas one who declares that he is a new creature in Christ Jesus. He tells us that he is the workmanship of the Holy Spirit,that he has been begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Now, whatever thatmandoes, the world considers his acts to be those of a new creature in Christ Jesus-to be, in fact, acts inspired by God's Spiritwithin him! The world does not make distinctions, as we do, between the old Adam and the new. Their reason does not endorseour beliefs, true though they are, concerning the old and the new natures. Men of the world look at us as a whole and if theysee anything wrong in our principles or practice, they set it down at once to the account of our religion and charge it withinconsistency.
Now, lukewarm Professor, what do worldlings see in you? They see a man who says he is going to Heaven, but who is only travellingat a snail's pace. He professes to believe that there is a Hell, yet he has tearless eyes and never seeks to snatch soulsfrom going down into the Pit. They see before them one who has to deal with eternal realities, yet he is but half awake! Theysee one who professes to have passed through a transformation so mysterious and wonderful that there must be, if it is true,a vast change in the outward life as the result of it-yet they see him as much like themselves as can be. He may be morallyconsistent in his general behavior, but they see no energy in his religious character. When they hear a solemn, stirring sermonconcerning the wrath of God, they say, "It is all very well for the minister to appeal to our emotions, but what does it matter?The people who constantly hear him are not in earnest. The saints who profess to believe what he says, trifle over it, andare, no doubt, in their hearts, as incredulous as we are." Let the minister be as earnest as he may, the lukewarmness of professors,to a large extent, neutralizes any effect which his ministry produces because the world will judge the church not so muchby the pulpit as by the pew! Worldlings say, by their conduct, if not in so many words, "There is no need for us to make anystir about religion-these saints take it remarkably easy, yet they think all will be well-we do quite as much as they do.They seem to think that, after all, it would be fanaticism to look upon the things that they hear from the preacher as facts-theydo not act as if they were realities and so," they say, "doubtless they are notrealities and, as one form of religion is asgood as another-and there is nothing of value in any one of them-we see no reason why we should have any religion at all."
Thus, the careless worldling is lulled to sleep by the lukewarm professor who, in this respect, acts the part of the sirento the sinner, playing sweet music in his ears and even helping to lure him to the rocks where he will be destroyed! Thisis a solemn matter, Beloved. In this way great damage is done to the cause of the Truth of God and God's name and God's honorare compromised by inconsistent professors. I pray you either to give up your profession, or to be true to it. If you arereally God's people, then serve Him with all your might. But if Baal is your god, then serve him. If the flesh is worth pleasing,then serve the flesh. But if God is Lord paramount, then cleave to Him. Oh, I beseech and entreat you, as you love your ownsouls, do not play fast and loose with godliness! Either let it alone, or else let it saturate you through and through! Eitherpossess it, or cease to profess it. The great curse of the Church-that which brings more dishonor upon the Lord than all theribald jests of scoffing atheists-is the lukewarmness of its members! Well may He say to His lukewarm Church, as He does inour text, "I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Yet once more, notice that wherever there is lukewarmness in religious matters, it is out of place. There is no spot nearthe Throne of God where lukewarmness could stand in a seemly position. Take the pulpit, for instance. Ah, my Brothers, ofall spots in the world, if lukewarmness comes here, then is the preacher indeed undone! He should be, of all men, the mostin earnest who undertakes the charge of souls, for he has that solemn charge ringing in his ears-"I have set you a watchmanunto the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say unto the wicked,O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way,
that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hands." They who have to deal with hardheartedsinners-they who have to preach unpalatable Truths of God-surely theyshould not make men's hearts harder and the Truth moreunpalatable by uttering it in a half-hearted manner! It will go hard with the man who has exercised his ministry with indifference."If," said one of old, "there is a man who finds the ministry an easy place, he will find it a hard matter, at the last, togive in his account before God."
If, my Brothers, there should be any professed ministers of Christ who never know what it is to travail in birth for souls.If there are men who take up the ministry merely as a profession and exercise it as they might do in any secular calling.If they preach merely as a matter of routine or because they consider it is a pleasant occupation, it would have been betterfor them if they had never been born! Far better would it have been for them to have broken stones by the wayside than tohave been preaching the Gospel and leaving their hearts out of their sermon! Yes, I know not whether it would not have beenbetter to have been a devil in Hell than to have been a minister in the pulpit without his heart in his work. Baxter's "ReformedPastofstirs my very soul whenever I read its glowing periods-those fiery thunderbolts which he hurls at the heads of idle shepherdsand lazy ministers! I have read nearly the whole book through to those who are studying for the ministry in connection withthis Church and I have often seen the tears start from their eyes while listening to the burning language of that ferventpreacher and writer! Every time I have read a chapter in that book, I have felt that the next Sabbath I could preach-I mustpreach-withgreater earnestness after reading the solemn words of that mightiest of ministers, Richard Baxter! Ah, Beloved, we need tohave more of that earnestness in the pulpit! What if my young Brothers should study less and be more earnest? Rather let themstudy as much as they can, but, oh, if the Holy Spirit will but shed His sacred fire upon the dry fuel of their studies, howmuch more will be accomplished for the Kingdom of Christ than is done now! So, you see, dear Friends, that lukewarmness isout of place in the pulpit.
So it is, my Brothers and Sisters, in the Sunday school, with the tract distributor and even with the private Christian, thehumble attendant upon the means of Grace. Everywhere, lukewarmness in religion is to be loathed and abandoned, for it is agross and glaring inconsistency! I would not have you go with a lukewarm heart, even to distribute tracts! I would not haveyou dare to visit the sick unless your heart is filled with love to Christ! Either do such work well, or do not do it at all.Either put your heart into the work, or let someone else do it! We have had too many men of straw filling up our ranks. Wehave had too many automatons going forth to fight our battles. We have counted our legions and said, "A brave host they willbe"-but if our army is sifted, if our ranks are thinned-we will probably find that fewer true soldiers of the Cross will accomplishmore if they are not impeded in their onward march by the mixed multitude of those who pretendto join the army of the livingGod.
I hope that lukewarm professors will find themselves thoroughly out of place among us. I do not think they could long be happyhere. There are so many Brothers and Sisters here with a red-hot spirit that they would soon get burned and they would say"This is not the spot for us." If you, lukewarm Professors, come among us, you will be asked to do 50 things and you willbe teased till you do them-for the good people here will not be content unless you do all that you can-and they will probablywant you to do two or three times more than you can! I am sure that in all places where God has sent warm-hearted men to preachthe Gospel, you will find yourselves extremely uncomfortable if you want to be lukewarm. I certainly could tell you of somechapels where you could take your seat and where you would be greatly needed for the support of the ministry. The ministerwould never wake you. I daresay if you paid an extra half-crown a quarter, he would let you sleep on as long as you liked!If you did not join the church, nobody would ever think of asking you whether you were a member or not. In our fashionablechurches, of course, people do not speak to one another- that would be quite beneath their assumed dignity. No man would dare,in such a place as that, turn to his neighbor and say, "Are you a child of God?" Well, if you mean to be lukewarm, go to oneof those places-do not stay here lest we should worry you by our importunities! I question whether anybody would come here,for a few Sundays, without some Brother or Sister walking up to him and asking him whether he was a follower of Christ ornot-and the question would be repeated, by one or another, until he came to some decision concerning his soul.
II. Now I will turn to the second part of my subject, in which I am to give you SOME DISSUASIVES AGAINST LUKEWARMNESS. I haveexposed its evils, now let me try to dissuade you from it.
Let me remind you that as Christians you have to do with solemn realities. You have to do with death, with eternity, withHeaven, with Hell, with Christ, with Satan, with souls that must live forever-can you deal with these things in a
cold spirit? If you can deal thus with them successfully, it will be one of the greatest marvels in the world, for these thingsdemand the whole man! If but to praise God requires that we call up all the powers of our soul, how much more is needed toserve God and to serve Him, not in the hewing of wood and the drawing of water, but in the winning of souls, in preachingHis Gospel, in propagating His cause and extending His Kingdom? Here, my Brothers, are stern and solemn things for us to dealwith-and they must not be touched by any but those who come warmheartedly to deal with them.
Remember, too, that these were very solemn things with you once. Perhaps you have been converted 10 or 20 years, yet can itbe that these Truths of God now fall lightly upon your ears and excite but little emotion? There was a time when it neededlittle to make you earnest. You were, then-
"Laden with guilt and full of fears." Your groans were deep. You could not sleep at night. You were laboring under such aheavy burden that it seemed to crush your soul all but into the lowest Hell. Then, you prayed in earnest and you sought Godin earnest! Oh, how you, in those days, longed to be able, even, to stand in the aisle if you could but hear the Word of God!Though the distance you had to come was great and the pressure of the crowd to enter the House of Prayer was inconvenient.And though you were almost ready to faint, sometimes, before the sermon was finished, you bore up through an insatiable desireto listen to the Gospel message which might be the means of your salvation! Do you not remember how, at that time, you thoughtevery unsaved person was a fool-and especially thought that you, yourself, were a fool for having so long left these greatrealities untouched and almost unthought of-while the trifles of a day were engrossing all your thoughts? Oh, then, I conjureyou, by those days long gone by, think as earnestly, now, of those things as you did then! Let your past experience be thestandard of your present zeal! You ought to have advanced beyond that, but if you have not, be patient enough to go back andbegin again where you began before-be humble enough to ask God to revive the sincerity of your penitence, the reality of yourGrace, the eagerness of your desires and the flaming passion of your heart.
And remember, further, that there have been times, with you, when these things did seem worthy of a warm heart. Perhaps youremember when a child out of your Sunday school class died and then you thought, "Oh, that I had taught that child more earnestly,and prayed over it with all my heart!" Possibly, when your own child died, you cried, "O Absalom, my son, my son!" And thethought wounded you to the quick that you had not taught that child as you might have done-and that you had not wrestled withGod in prayer for that child's soul as you ought to have done. Have not I also had to think like this when I have buried someof your kinsfolk or acquaintances? As I have looked down into the grave of some unconverted hearer, the tears have streamedfrom my eyes and, afterwards, I have awakened at night with some solemn and terrible dream embodying this black thought-"HaveI been faithful to that soul? Have I dealt with that spirit, now departed, as I would deal with it if I had another opportunityof preaching to it?"
Sometimes I feel that I can even say, with the Apostle Paul, "I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the bloodof all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." But there are other seasons of awful questioningwhen I tremble, lest, out of so numerous a flock, the loss of even one should be attributed to the shepherd's neglect! Donot some of you remember, when the cholera was so rife, how solemn you thought the things of God to be? And when the fevercame into your house and one after another died, you thought there was nothing worth living for but to be prepared to dieand that your whole business, from that time, should be to seek to warn others, lest they should perish and go to the dreadplace of torment!
Let me remind you, also, that the day is coming when you will think these things worthy of your whole heart. When you andI shall be stretched upon our dying beds, I think we shall have to regret, above everything else, our coldness of heart. Amongthe many sins which we must then confess, and which, I trust, we shall then know were pardoned and "laid upon the Scapegoat'shead of old," perhaps this will lie the heaviest upon our heart and conscience-"I did not live as I ought to have done. Iwas not as earnest in my Lord's cause as I should have been." Then will our cold sermons, like sheeted ghosts, march beforeour eyes in dread array. Then will our neglected days start up, each one seeming to wave its hair as though it were one ofthe seven furies and to look right into our hearts, and make our very blood curdle in our veins. Then will our Sunday schoolclasses appear again before us-and those who taught us to teach others will come and reprove us for having despised theirtraining and not having profited by that holy instruction which we received when we were set apart for God's cause and werefirst trained to serve in His great army. We may reckon these things of
small importance, now, but when we lie on the borders of eternity, we shall think them worth living for and worth dying athousand deaths for!
I believe that, then, some of those Truths of God which we have kept back, those ordinances which we have neglected and thoseprecepts which we have despised, will seem to grow into an awful mass, too heavy for our soul to endure-just as, sometimes,in a dream, a mountain appears to rise from a single grain of sand and to swell, and swell, and swell till its stupendousweight seems to oppress our brains and to crush the very life out of us! If you have lived lukewarmly, the things of God willthen, even though you are a child of His, darken your dying hour and weigh down your spirit with a fearful load of sad reflections!
Yes, and there will come a time when the things of God will seem yet more real than even on our dying bed! That will be whenwe stand at the bar of God. Am I prepared to stand there with a ministry half discharged? What shall I do if I have to giveaccount before God for sermons preached without my heart being put into them? How shall I appear before my Maker if I haveever kept back anything which I thought might have been useful to you, if I have shunned to rebuke any of you when I oughtto have done so, if I have not warned you faithfully and loved you tenderly, even as my own soul, and sought to woo you tothe Savior? How can I give in my account, as a steward of the Lord, if I have only served Him half-heartedly? O God, grant,I beseech You, that, notwithstanding a thousand infirmities, Your servant may always be free from that great sin of beinglukewarm in Your cause!
And what do you think, Sirs, you will do, as professed followers of Christ, if you have been lukewarm professors, if you havehad a name to live and yet have been dead, or if you have been only half alive, with all your energies paralyzed? Ah, Sirs!Ah, Sirs! I world not, for all the world, live as some of you are living-just observing some of the externals of godlinesswithout the vital power thereof. Giving Christ a little of your substance just for a mere show, offering Him a little of yourtime just to pacify your conscience, taking His name upon you to hide your own defects-but still a stranger to His Grace-unconsecrated,undevoted, not yielding yourself wholly to Him, but still living to the flesh while pretending to be quickened by the Spirit!Living with your heart in your business, but no heart in your religion-closely pursuing the world, but following Christ afaroff-firmly grasping the world's plow, but only now and then lightly touching Christ's plow and looking back even as you do!O Sirs, I tell you, when the earth begins to reel, when the heavens begin to shake, when the stars fall from their placesand begin to dash abroad like bewildered men, you will be bewildered, too! Your heart, too, shall shake and your grand hopestotter to destruction if you have only served Jesus with a lukewarm heart. God give us Grace to make our religion all! Thatwe may put our whole heart into it and live it out and then be prepared to die for it, if need be, and God so please, thatwe may live to enjoy the results of it in Glory!
I am fearful, full often, in addressing the same congregation, Sabbath after Sabbath, and week after week, now by the spaceof seven years, [this sermon was preached in the winter of 1860-61] lest my voice should grow stale to you. And I can truthfullysay that I would rather cease to preach at all than preach to people to whom my voice had become so familiar that it was onlylike the ringing of an old bell to which they gave no heed! No, there must be feeling in the congregation as well as earnestnessin the preacher, otherwise let me resign my commission! I pray God, if I am spared to minister to you, year after year, andyou are spared to sit in the pew to hear the Word, that there may be earnestness in you and earnestness in me that we maynever come down to the dead level of some of the churches of which I spoke a little while ago-as you may think, in a spiritof censure, but as God knows, in a spirit of loving faithfulness-old churches that have come to be like pools without outlets,covered over with the sickly duckweed of respectability. Stagnation in a church is the devil's delight.
I do not think He cares how many Baptist chapels you build, nor how many churches you open, if you have only lukewarm preachersand people in them. He cares not for your armies if your soldiers will but sleep-nor for your guns if they are not loaded."Let them build as much as they like," He says, "for those buildings are not the batteries that shake the gates of Hell."What we need is new zeal, fresh energy, more fire! Our old Baptist cause has become very slack. The great mass of Baptistsappear to be ashamed of their opinions and many of our ministers say so little about Baptism that people forget that thereis such an ordinance of Christ! If we have held our tongues concerning Baptism, we have that sin lying at our door for whichwe shall have to give account-and I trust that we shall not continue in it any longer. If Believers' Baptism is an ordinanceof Christ-and we know that it is-we ought to speak out plainly about it. I recommend our Brothers and Sisters to distributetracts upon the subject as widely as they can and, especially, to make known
the teaching of the New Testament upon this matter. If Paedo-Baptist ministers will only preach upon it, I need not do so,for that will send some of their people to search the Scriptures-and that is all that we want. If our views are not in accordancewith God's Word, let us abandon them! But if they are in harmony with our Lord's teaching, let us not hold our tongues concerningthem. We have had too much of this guilty silence-let us boldly proclaim the whole Truth of God and, by terrible things inrighteousness, answer You, O God! Bring on the clash of arms once again and let Your Church win the victory! Give the victoryto the right and the true and let all error be trampled underfoot! So be it, O Lord, and unto Your name be all the Glory!Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: DANIEL 9:1-13.
Verses 1, 2. In the first year ofDarius, the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realmof the Chaldeans; in the first year of His reign, I, Daniel, understood by books the number of the years whereof the Wordof the LORD came to Jeremiah the Prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And, therefore,discovering that the end of the captivity had nearly come, he set himself to plead mightily with God that now He would turnthe hand of His love upon the destroyed and desolate city of Jerusalem. Notice that Daniel recollected the exact date whenthe captivity was to end-and when you and I have had a term put to any trial or chastisement from God, we ought to rememberit, and record it among our special memoranda. I am afraid it is not always so. We do not forget when a great sorrow overtookus-we can, probably, recollect when some dear one died-we remember the very day of the week and month when that happened.But are we equally tenacious of the memory of God's loving kindness? I am afraid not! Yet it should be so. We should be ableto write about it as definitely as Daniel did when he said, "In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, of the seedof the Medes"-and then mention the time when we had some peculiarly choice communion with God, or when we were led out inmore than usually earnest prayer, or when we had a specially gracious answer from our God.
3. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. "I setmy face unto the Lord God." This expression is full of meaning. When men resolutely set their faces to prayer, bending theirwhole mind that way, seeking God, with their faces towards Him, not in pretense, but in deep and solemn earnestness, thenit is that they succeed with their supplication! Daniel speaks of "prayer and supplications," by which we may understand thathe prayed much and prayed often, setting apart a regular and considerable portion of his time for the holy exercise. He wasa very busy man, for he was the first of the presidents over the 120 princes, yet, for all that, or because of that, he wouldhave his time for communion with God! And he was wise in so acting, for any portion of our time that is stolen from prayeris also stolen from ourselves. The old saying is true, "Prayer and provender hinder no man's journey."
4. And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the Covenantand mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments. You must have noticed how, in prayer, holy men ofold were known to vary the names of God. Here we find Daniel addressing Him as "the great and dreadful God," but that titlewas not chosen at random, for the Prophet felt that as Jerusalem had remained so long a desolation, the terrible aspect ofGod's Character was more conspicuous even than the tender one. Yet he coupled with it that gracious Truth of God, "keepingthe Covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments."
5. 6. We have sinned and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Your preceptsand from Your judgments. Neither have we hearkened unto Your servants the Prophets, which spoke in Your name to our kings,our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Daniel confesses the sins of the nation and he spares noproper epithets in describing them-"We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled."He saw at least a shade of different meaning in each word that he employed. These are not vain repetitions! Daniel multipliedhis expressions because he had an intense sense of the sinfulness of sin and the guilt of his people. Observe, too, how henotes the aggravation of their sin in their refusal to listen to the messages which God
had sent to them by His servants. If there is anything in the world that can make sin to be more than ordinarily sinful, itis when sin is persisted in-notwithstanding the manifest warnings of God.
7. OLord, righteousness belongs unto You, but unto us confusion offices, as at this day, to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitantsof Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries where You have driven thembecause of their trespass that they have trespassed against You. This verse might be just as truly spoken now as in the firstyear of Darius, the Mede, for we, also, can say, " O Lord, righteousness belongs unto You"- we cannot find it anywhere else!And the other part of the verse is equally true, for unto us belongs confusion of faces, as it did to the men of Daniel'sday.
8, 9. O Lord, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned againstYou. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. What a precious assurance thisis! Just in proportion to your sense of sin, will you value it. If you feel that confusion of face belongs to you, you willalso rejoice to know that mercies and forgiveness belong to the Lord and that He is waiting to bestow them upon all who seekHis face in penitence and faith!
10, 11. Neither have we obeyed the voice ofthe LORD our God, to walk in His Laws which He set before us by His servants theProphets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your Law, even by departing, that they might not obey Your voice; therefore thecurse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, because we have sinned againstHim. It was a part of that old Covenant that if they sinned against the Lord, they should be scattered among all the peoplesof the earth, and their sufferings exactly tallied with what God had threatened. This fact is used by the Prophet in somemeasure as a source of consolation, for He argues that if God is true to the black side of the Covenant, He will also be faithfulto the bright side of it! And it is so-He who faithfully fulfils His threats will just as faithfully keep His promises.
12, 13. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing uponus a great evil: for under the whole Heaven has not been done as has been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the LawofMoses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquitiesand understand Your Truth. Oh, sad hardness of heart and impenitence that, though Jerusalem had been so sorely smitten, yetthe people turned not unto God in prayer!