Sermon 2885. Christ's Sympathy With His People
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, MAY 26, 1904.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON A LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DURING THE WINTER OF 1861-2.
"For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." Hebrews 2:18.
THAT which is the most simple lesson the Gospel has to teach is often the most difficult lesson for the Christian to learn.That simple lesson is that we must not look to ourselves for anything good, but that we must look to the Lord, alone, forall our righteousness. The lesson is short, as well as simple. It is easy to repeat but, as often as our faith is severelytried, we find how apt we are to forget that which is the very Alpha of the Gospel-that man, in himself, is wholly lost andthat all his hope of help and salvation must rest on Christ, that apart from God there is nothing upon which faith can fastenitself-and that without the atoning Sacrifice and justifying Righteousness of Christ, the quickening and sanctifying workof the Holy Spirit and the everlasting love of the Father, there is neither joy, nor peace, nor comfort, nor hope to be foundanywhere. This seems to be a very easy lesson, yet even aged Believers, when their hair is getting gray and they are aboutto enter the land of perfect peace and rest, still find the temptation to unbelief too much for them and they begin to lookfor something good in the creature-and to seek for happiness in themselves-instead of seeking all good in God.
I want to try to teach you this lesson again. And to also learn it myself, for I need to learn it as much as you do-the lessonof looking away from our temptations and from our own weakness and inability to repel those temptations-to Him who, havingHimself suffered in being tempted, "is able to aid those who are tempted." Let us fix our eyes upon our great High Priestand leave Satan and all his insinuations, his blasphemies and his temptations out of the question. Or, rather, let us bringthem to Christ and see them all finished in Him! I am going to address three separate characters that are represented here-first,the confirmed Believer Secondly, the young beginner. And, thirdly, the backslider And then, summoning the attention of thewhole company here assembled, I shall try to commend the comfort and instruction of the text to you all.
I. First, let me speak TO ADVANCED CHRISTIANS.
You all have your trials and those trials are of an advanced character. The troubles with which the plants of God's right-handplanting are assailed when they are saplings are quite inconsiderable compared with those which come upon them when they arelike cedars firmly rooted. As surely as our strength increases, so will our sufferings, our trials, our labors, or our temptations.God's power is never given to a man to be stored up unused. The heavenly food that is sent to strengthen us, like the mannagiven to the Israelites in the wilderness, is intended for immediate use. If the Lord sends you much, you shall have nothingbeyond what you can use for Him though, blessed be His holy name, if you have but little, you shall have no need! When theLord puts upon our feet the shoes of iron and brass which He has promised us in His ancient Covenant, He intends that we shouldwear them and walk in them-not that we should put them into our museum and gaze upon them as curiosities. If He gives us astrong hand, it is because we have a strong foe to fight. If He gives us a great meal-like that which He gave to Elijah-itis in order that, in the strength of that meal, we may go for 40 days or even longer.
Perhaps, my Brother or Sister, you are, just now, in great trouble. You have grown in Grace and your troubles have also grown.You feel that you need someone to whom you can tell your trouble-your trouble very likely arises from the
absence of your Lord. Let me remind you that in this respect you are very like the Israelites in the wilderness, when Moseshad been absent from them for 40 days. They said, "What shall we do? Our leader is gone. He who was king in Jeshurun has departedfrom us and we are left like sheep without a shepherd." So they went-I dare not say that they went for counsel, but they went-tothe high priest. And you remember what they said and what he did. Alas, he gave them no good counsel, for he was as unwiseas they were-and as untried. He had always had Moses by his side ever since the day that the Lord had said, "Is not Aaronthe Levite your brother?...He shall be to you instead of a mouth and you shall be to him instead of God." Aaron had neverbeen left without his great leader and so, in his absence, he failed miserably and led the people in the making and worshippingof the golden calf!
How different it will be with you who mourn the loss of the Light of your Lord's Countenance, if you go to our Great HighPriest, the Lord Jesus Christ! He knows the meaning of your present trial, for He had once to cry, "My God, my God, why haveYou forsaken Me?" You tell Him that your "soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death," and He tells you that it was sowith Him, also, on that night in which He was betrayed, when, "being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly: and His sweatwas, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground." No untried Priest is He! He can sympathize and He can aidyou.
Take another case-that of Hannah, the "woman of a sorrowful spirit." She was in a peculiarly trying position. Her husband'sother wife had children, but she had none. Though she was greatly beloved of her husband, her adversary vexed her sorely tomake her fret. Day by day this was thrown in her teeth, that, because of some sin, God had not granted her the desire of herheart. A trial in one's own house is one of the saddest places where it can come-the saddest, perhaps, with the exceptionof a thorn in the flesh which comes still closer home. So poor Hannah, having that trial at home, thought she would go upto the sanctuary in Shiloh. There, she "prayed unto the Lord, and wept sorely, and she vowed a vow." But "she spoke in herheart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard." So Eli, the high priest, thought that she was drunk and, insteadof comforting and consoling her, he spoke harshly to her, depressed and broken as her spirit was. You, my Brothers, and you,my Sisters, too, may have some trouble which you dare not tell to another, though it is sorely vexing you and threatens evento break your heart. But when you go to the Great High Priest, He will understand all about it! He will not need you to explainyour sorrow to Him, for He knows exactly what it is. And He will apply the healing balm to your sorrowful spirit and sendyou on your way full of peace and comfort!
I offer, then, to you who are advanced Believers, this very comforting reflection-in Christ's sufferings you are quite certainto find something akin to your own and, in Christ's heart, you are quite sure to find a deep well of Divine Sympathy! So whateveryour trial may be, you need not hesitate to go to Him, or doubt that His loving heart will overflow with sympathy towardsyou!
But, more than that, while I would console you by reminding you that Christ has suffered even as you have, I would also comfortyou with the reflection that this very day He still suffers with you. Suppose, now, that a man could be so high in staturethat his head could be in Heaven while his feet were on earth, yet, whenever his feet suffered, his head would suffer, too.In the Canticles, the spouse says of her Heavenly Bridegroom, "His head is as the most fine gold...His legs are as pillarsof marble set upon sockets of fine gold." As John saw Him, "in the isle that is called Patmos," "His eyes were as a flameof fire and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace." This suggests to me a parable-the feet of Christ,which form His Church on earth, still glow "as if they burned in a furnace." The glorious Head of the Church, up in Heaven,"is as the most fine gold," but there is not the least glow of heat, in the feet on earth, which is not felt by the Head inHeaven. There is not a pang that rends your heart which Jesus does not feel. There is not a sorrow that cuts deeply into yoursoul which does not also cut into His! So you can still sing-
"He feels in His heart all our sighs and our groans
For we are most near Him, His flesh and His bones.
In all our distresses our Head feels the pain,
They all are most necessary, not one is in vain." Does it not comfort you to know that Christ can sympathize with you andthat He must sympathize with you-can, because He has suffered-must, because He still suffers?
I may also add, for your comfort, that all this-Christ's suffering as you do and His suffering with you, must tend to shieldyou in your trials. A country minister, preaching upon the text, "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?"made the remark that Christ is a good Physician. "Ah," he said, "Christ is not like those doctors who come and
say they are sorry for you, whereas, in their hearts, they are glad you are ill, for, if you and others were not ill, therewould be no work for them. Or else," said the preacher, "they look down upon you and pity you, but not half as much as ifthey, themselves, had your complaint and felt all the pains that you are feeling. But suppose," he added, "that the doctorhad all your pains, himself-suppose you had the headache and that he looked down on you and had your headache? Suppose whenyou had palpitation of the heart, he had palpitation of the heart, too-why, he would be very quick to cure you! Certainlyhe would not let you lie there a moment longer than was necessary because he, himself, would be suffering with you." Now thereis just one objection that may be made to the countryman's argument-that is, that the physician might be willing to raisethe patient up at once because he was suffering with him-yet he might say, "Here are two of us in the same plight, but myskill fails me here. If I could deliver you, you can well imagine that I would gladly do so, for, in so doing, I would delivermyself as well. But, alas, it is beyond my power! I cannot lighten your burden, nor my own-we can only sit down together andmingle our tears-but we cannot assist one another."
But it is not so with the Good Physician, for He has both the will and the power to heal us! One motion of that eternal armand every cloud that is wrapped about the sky shall be folded up like a worn-out vesture, and cast away! Jesus speaks andthe boisterous billows cease their raging and the wild winds are hushed to sleep. "Let there be light," He says, and overthe thick darkness of our affliction and adversity comes the bright gleam of joy and prosperity! He did but lift up His voiceand "kings of armies did flee apace." O Jesus, our Lord, when You come forth for the deliverance of Your people, who can standbefore You? As the wax melts before the fire and as the fat of rams is consumed upon Your altar, so do our trials and troublesmelt and vanish away when You come forth for the deliverance of Your people! Remember, Believers, that you not only have thelove of Christ's heart, but you also have the strength of Christ's arm at your disposal! He rules over all things in Heaven,earth and Hell-so rest in Him, for He still bears the scars of His wounds to show that He has suffered even as you do. Stilldoes He prove Himself to be Man, seeing that He suffers with you, yet is He also "very God of very God," into whose handsall power in Heaven and earth is committed! He can, He must, He will deliver His people and bring them out of all their trialsinto His eternal Kingdom and Glory!
II. Secondly, I am going to speak TO ANXIOUS ENQUIRERS AND YOUNG BEGINNERS.
I hear a plaintive voice, over yonder, saying to me, "I know, Sir, that the precious blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleansesus from all sin. And I know that the moment I believe in Him, I have nothing to fear concerning the past, for that sin isblotted out once and for all. But my fear is that if I commence a Christian life, it will not last long. I am afraid I shallbe like Pliable and turn back at the Slough of Despond. Or if my neighbors jeer at me, I fear that I shall be ashamed to goforward in spite of their opposition. Even if I get over that, I feel that I cannot trust my own evil heart which is so aptto deceive me. If old temptations should be overcome, new ones will be sure to arise and I cannot help fearing as to whatwill become of me. I have seen some who made a fair show in the flesh, turn back and go straight to perdition-and I tremblelest it should also be so with me. How can I hope to withstand the imperious lusts which were too strong for me when firstthey allured my simple heart? How much more shall they be too mighty for me, now that sin has gathered the force of habitand practice and, like an iron net, has enfolded me in its cruel grip? When I was a youth, I could not stand against thisgreat enemy of my soul-how, then, shall I be a match for him now that I have grown old and feeble? The old Adam will be toostrong for the young Melancthon!"
Well, dear Friends, I have seen some persons who have been truly converted to God who have been greatly troubled with thisfear. Indeed, in some instances I have even known of poor men kneeling down and praying that God would let them die, thenand there, sooner than that they should live to prove that their feelings were only a delusion and that their supposed repentancewas merely a passing excitement. Some of us can fully sympathize with those who pray such a prayer as that, for we have oftenfelt that the most terrible death would be preferable to the disgrace of bringing dishonor upon the name of Jesus by turningback to the City of Destruction after we had once started for the Celestial City. But, my dear Friend, if the Lord has beguna good work in your soul and led you to trust in Jesus as your Savior, my text will just meet that fear of yours, for theApostle here says that Christ "is able to aid those who are tempted." You will be tempted-I will not delude you with the notionthat you will not-and you cannot, by yourself, stand up against that temptation! But Christ, "in that He Himself has suffered,being tempted, is able to aid those who are tempted." This Truth of God we set before you as a shield against all these dark,mysterious thoughts-Christ can and He will, if you trust in Him, protect you from the sin and the temptation which you rightlydread!
"But how is this to be done?" someone asks. Well, first of all, Christ can do it by the force of His own example. He can showyou as He has done in His Word. But He can also show you by His Spirit opening up that Word, how He was once subject to thesame temptation that now assails you. Are you poor, and are you tempted to use wrong means to get rich? Christ can tell youhow, in the wilderness, "when He had fasted forty days, and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry," and Satan came to Himand said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Are you a man in a high position and are youtempted to do some daring and reckless deed? Christ can remind you how, when He was on a pinnacle of the Temple, Satan saidto Him, "If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down." Or do you seem, just now, to have great power within your reach ifyou will but stain your hand to grasp it? Christ can tell you how Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the gloryof them, and said to Him, "All these things will I give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then He will remind youhow He passed through all these ordeals without sin, for the prince of this world could find nothing in Him to respond tohis temptations. He was tried and tested again and again, but no trace of alloy could be discovered even by the devil himself!Though He was often shot at by His great adversary, He was never wounded by the fiery shafts! So, inspired by His gloriousexample, you may say-
"Through floods and flames if Jesus leads I'll follow where He goes."
You not only have Christ's example to keep you from sin, but you also have His Presence. Do you know what this means? Letme give you an example of it. There was a certain merchant who had been, again and again, tempted to an act of sin. It wasthe usual custom in his trade-everybody else did it. But he knew that it was wrong and his soul revolted against it. As hesat in his counting house, he saw, pictured before his mind's eye, his wife homeless and his children crying for bread. Andthe demon whispered to him, "Do it. Do it." Then another picture flitted before his eyes-he and his wife and children wererich-their home was filled with good things and again the adversary said, "Do it. Do it." He saw the advantages that wereto be gained by doing it, but he went home and pondered the whole matter. His soul was heavy and a stern struggle was proceedingwithin him. Then he went to his chamber and shut himself in and, falling upon his knees, told all his difficulty and temptationsto his Father in Heaven. Then, suddenly, not before his eyes, but to Faith's inner eyes, there appeared a vision of the CrucifiedChrist who showed him His pierced hands, and feet, and side, and then said to him, "He that takes not his cross and followsafter Me is not worthy of Me. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."
The merchant, fixing his tearful eyes upon his Savior, remembered Paul's words, "Consider Him that endured such contradictionof sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds." He came down from his bedroom, his soul was glad,for his mind was made up and he said to himself, "I will not do it. I can be poor, but I cannot sin." Others marked the manand wondered at the change in his appearance. He walked erect, no longer like one bowed down beneath a heavy burden. Manymen marvelled at him and asked what had happened to him, but none could tell. The secret was that the Crucified Christ hadappeared to him and had given him the support of His Divine Presence. That was sufficient to aid him in the time of temptation,for Christ, having Himself suffered, being tempted, was able to aid His faithful follower when he, also, was tempted.
I know that I am addressing someone who says-I will use, as far as possible, his own words-"Look here, Sir, I have alwaysbeen in the habit of being a jolly fellow, meeting with a number of companions to drink, chat, sing and so on. I do not knowthat we did very much amiss, but still, I could not do it again if I became a Christian. Suppose, now, that I should be invitedto join the same company tomorrow-I am not sure what I might do-I might refuse their invitation, but if I were asked againand again, and they jeered at me for refusing, I might give in. Suppose that I did not yield? There is another difficulty.I have been a man of such-and-such a character and have formed such-and-such ha-bits-now, how in the world am I to overcomethose habits? How am I to become a Christian and to continue so to the
These are very proper questions and I answer-You are utterly helpless apart from Him who is able to aid those who are tempted.But if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, He will give you a new nature. That new nature, it is true, will not at oncecast out the old nature-your old nature will still be there, but the new nature will struggle against it and, ultimately,through the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, the new nature will prevail over the old nature and you will be "a new creaturein Christ Jesus." Old things will have passed away and all things will have become new. You will say,
as a young convert did when he came to join the Church, "I don't know which it is, but either everything else is changed,or else I am." It was in himself, of course, that the great change had been worked, but that changed the aspect of everythingelse!
Let me give you a little parable to illustrate this point. A lion and a tiger used, frequently, to roam the forests togetherin search of prey that might satisfy their bloodthirsty appetites. But one day an angel came, touched the lion and changedhim into a lamb. The next day the tiger came and wanted the lion to go with him to his feast of blood. Do you think it wasdifficult for him to refuse the invitation? Oh, no! "I have no inclination to go," he said. The tiger laughed scornfully andsaid, "Aha, you have become pious, have you? Now you will go to the sheepfolds and sneak behind the shepherds' heels-you thatwere once so brave!" And the tiger despised him and said, "You are miserable to be thus tied up like a dog and not to dareto come and do as we have always done." "No," said the lion, "it is not that I dare not go with you, but I have no wish togo. I am not miserable because I cannot go with you on such an errand-I would be miserable if I did go. The fact is, I cannotnow do what I once did, for I am not what I once was. My new nature has brought me new loves, new hatreds, new preferences,new pursuits-so I cannot go with you on your bloodthirsty expedition."
If God has worked a similar change in you-and transformed the lion into a lamb and the raven into a dove-it will not be difficultfor you to be kept from sin, for you will hate sin with perfect hatred and have no fellowship with it! And besides that, asyour nature will be renewed, day by day, by the Holy Spirit, with a constant infusion of everything that is good, graciousand Godlike, do you not see that sin shall no longer be like a strong spear to pierce you, but as a fragile reed which shallsnap against the armor of proof which your soul shall wear?
Let me remind you who are thinking of going upon pilgrimage, but are afraid of the lions and the dragons in the way, thatHe, under whose banner you hope to enlist, never allowed one soldier who was in His service to perish. If you become a sheepunder the care of the Good Shepherd, remember that-
"His honor is engaged to save The meanest of His sheep."
If you are a mariner, bound for the Fair Havens of eternal felicity, recollect that the Lord High Admiral of the seas of Providenceand Grace has safely convoyed into port every vessel that has yet been committed to His charge! Not one has ever been wreckedor lost in any way. Trust yourself to His protection and guidance and He will bring you, also, safely in. What if your temperis, naturally, furious? What if your evil propensities have been indulged until they have become as giants holding you incruel captivity? What if your passions boil, burn and blaze like Vesuvius in eruption? What if your temptations should comeupon you as the Philistines came upon Samson? He to whom you commit the keeping of your soul shall make you master over all-andyou shall yet be, with the great multitude whom no man can number, more than conqueror through Him who has loved you! Oh,that the Holy Spirit would constrain many of you, straightway, to leave your old master and to enter the service of the Savior!You will never find a better master than the Lord Jesus Christ!
"Ah," said a sailor, 70 years of age, who had heard a sermon that had deeply affected him and, I trust, had been the meansof renewing his nature, "I am going to haul down my old flag today. I have sailed under the colors of the Black Prince allthese years, but they are coming down today-and I am going to run up the blood-red Cross in their place- and I hope to sailunder that flag until I die." So may it be with many of you! Say, "O Satan, we have served you far too long! Miserable isyour service, despicable are your ways, degrading is our position and awful must be our end if we remain in your power." Thenturn to the Lord and appeal to Him. Say, "O God, help us! We cry to You. Bring us, we pray You, from under the tyrant's sway.Help us to yield ourselves up to You this very hour. Take our hearts, black as they are, and wash them in the precious bloodof Jesus Christ, Your well-beloved Son. Change the hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Make us to be Your servants whilewe live and to enter into Your rest and Your Glory when we die."
I have thus, I hope, spoken somewhat to the comfort of young beginners and anxious enquirers.
III. Now, in the third place, I am going to speak briefly TO BACKSLIDERS.
Where are you, Backslider? I cannot pick you out, but there is an eye that sees you, and that weeps over you. Ten years agoyou used to sit down at the Communion Table. Twenty years ago you were a reputable member of the church, but you fell, and,oh, what a fall was yours! Since that time you have not wholly forsaken the House of God, though you have wandered here andthere-but you have never dared to call yourself a Christian again. You lost the Light of God's
Countenance long ago and you find the service of Satan very hard, yet you think you must go downward to despair. You feelthat you are in the iron cage of which Bunyan wrote-and you fear that you will never get out of it. Poor Backslider, I cannotmention your name without a tear and if I, a fellow creature, thus weep over you, much more does that compassionate Saviorwho suffered, being tempted, and who is able to aid those who are tempted!
Hark! If you will but incline your ear, you may hear a note that will cheer your heart and yet break it, too! 'Tis God whospeaks and He is having a controversy with Himself over you. Justice says, "Destroy him!" But Mercy says, "Spare him!" Thevery Gospel which you have despised witnesses against you, but, at the same time, pleads for you. The Lord still says to backsliders,as He did to His ancient people when they wandered from Him, "Turn, O backsliding children, says the Lord, for I am marriedunto you." "Married unto you!" This marriage bond cannot be broken! You have played the harlot and gone after many lovers,but your first Husband hates putting away and even now invites you to return to Him. So-
"To your Father's bosom pressed, Once again a child confessed From His house no more to roam, Come, OpoorBackslider, come!"
I may even be addressing some who once drank from the cup of Communion, but who have turned aside to drink the cup of devils.I may be speaking to some to whom, for years, the Sabbath has been a day for business instead of a day for worship. Yet youcould never get the sound of the Sabbath bell out of your ears and, even now, you cannot forget the profession you once made,nor the joys you once knew-and you cannot be easy in your sins. There is a spark of heavenly fire that still lingers withinyou and it will not die out, even though you seek to quench it that it may not hinder you from going after your lusts. Thatis God's grip still upon you! Oh that I might be His ambassador of peace to fling wide the doors of His mercy to you! PoorProdigal, you are clad in rags! The sty is your only sleeping place and the swine your only companions-you would gladly fillyour belly with the husks that they eat, but you must not, for you are a God-made man, and swine's food can never satisfyyou. As you stand here, perhaps there is a tear trickling down your cheek because of the many years that you have spent insin and you are saying, "I would arise and go to my Father, but I fear that He has forgotten me." Oh, say not that! But doas the prodigal did-arise and come to your Father, for He will give you such a reception as the prodigal received! You shallhave the kiss of forgiveness upon your brow, the best robe of your Savior's perfect Righteousness shall be cast all aroundyou, the ring of everlasting love shall be placed upon your finger, the shoes of peace shall be fitted to your feet, you shalleat the fat things of the promises of God, there shall be music in your ears, music in your house, music on earth and musicin Heaven, itself, because he that was dead is alive again, he that was lost is found!
This should be your consolation-"In that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."Did I hear you say, "But I cannot see how Christ was ever in the same position that I am in, for He was never a backslider"?That is quite true, but what are your trials? First, you are tried by the burden of sin that is resting upon you-and Christhad the sins of all His people resting upon Him, so He knows what that burden means. Next, you are tried by the loss of theLight of God's Countenance-so was He, for He cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Then you say that you havelost all your friends-so had He, for in His time of trial, "they all forsook Him and fled." You say, also, that you are despised,that you are the subject of the song of the drunk and the mirth of the mock-er-so was He, for He could truly say, "Reproachhas broken My heart." So Christ can sympathize-not with your sin, for He never had any of His own-but with your sorrow, whichis the consequence of sin, for He had to bear all that before you did!
IV. Now I have to close by speaking TO THE WHOLE ASSEMBLY. I think I might liken you, on a large scale, to that little bandof pilgrims-Christiana, Mercy, Matthew, James and the rest of them who started from the City of Destruction-who, when theycame to the Interpreter's House, were put under the escort of Mr. Great-Heart. I am not Mr. Great-Heart-I am but one of thechildren-but our great Savior is Mr. Great-Heart, and He is going with us all the way to the Celestial City! We are but likethose boys and girls and we are afraid of what we may meet on the road. There are lions in the way, but Mr. Great-Heart cankill them, or restrain them from hurting us. There is Apollyon in the valley, but our Great-Heart is more than a match forthe arch-fiend. We shall have to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, yet each one of us shall be able to say, "Iwill fear no evil, for You are with me." We shall have to go through
the Enchanted Ground, but, as Christ will be with us, we shall not fall asleep there to our grievous hurt. We shall have togo through Vanity Fair and to bear the jeer and the jibe of the mocking mob, but we can bear all that, for we shall have ourgreat Captain with us.
But-and here comes the dark thought to some-we shall at last come to the dark river without a bridge. Mr. Great-Heart-whomBunyan meant to be the minister, had to go through the stream with the rest. But when we come to the river, our Mr. Great-Heart,Christ Himself-will go through the river with each one of us! He will put His almighty arm around us and when we get whereour feet cannot feel the bottom, He will say to each one of us, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; andthrough the rivers, they shall not overflow you." To die with Jesus is better, even, than living with Him except that higherstyle of living with Him beyond the river of death, for-
"Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are,
While on His breast I lean my head
And breathe my life out sweetly there." In this sense, our text shines like a cluster of stars. Jesus died, Jesus rose again-inthat He died, He can sympathize. In that He rose again, He can aid. Lay hold of this text whenever you think of death withany gloomy cast in your mind. And let us go on our way, each one singing-
"Since Jesus is mine, I'll not fear undressing
But gladly put off this garment of clay.
To die in the Lord is a Covenant blessing,
Since Jesus to Glory through death led the way."
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 2 CORINTHIANS 6:1-18.
2 Corinthians 6:1. We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that you receive not the Grace of God in vain. God's servants arecalled to take many different positions. They are ambassadors under one aspect. They are workers under another. As ambassadors,they are ambassadors for Christ. As workers, they are workers together with God. Oh, how much it costs to win a soul! I mean,not only how much it cost the Savior, so that He broke His very heart over it and poured out His life's blood-but also howmuch it must cost the messenger of peace! He must know how to beseech and implore-and when even this fails, he must stillgo on toiling, laboring as a worker together with God.
2. (For He says, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored you: behold, now is theaccepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation). I trust that if I am addressing any who say that it is too late for themto be saved and that their sin is too great to be forgiven, this text will drive away that unholy and unwarranted fear-"Behold,now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Then the Apostle goes on to speak of himself and the restof the Apostles and other preachers of the Word.
3, 4. Giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministersof God. As those early servants of the Lord really did.
4-10. In much patience, in afflictions in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors,in watching, in fasting; bypureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned,by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor,by evil report and good report: as deceivers, andyet true; as unknown andyet wellknown, as dying, and, behold, we live; aschastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; aspoor, yet making many rich; as having nothing andyet possessingall things. All these things Paul and his Brothers were to be and to do in order to win souls for Christ. Just as the huntersin the cold North seek after furs and try all sorts of schemes to catch the wild creatures on which they grow. They will trapthem, or snare them, or shoot them, but, somehow or other, they will get them. They will be on the alert all day and all night,too. They will learn the habits of every creature they have to deal with, but they will get the furs somehow. And so mustthe true minister of Christ be willing to be anything, to do anything, to suffer anything, to bear reproach and shame, tobe nothing, or to be all things to all men-if by any means he may save some.
11, 12. O you Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. You are not straitened in us, but you are straitenedin your own hearts. If they were not saved, it was not because Paul did not open his mouth to speak to them and to warn andinvite them, nor because he did not open his heart and feel in it the movements of a sacred compassion for them. Now, havingthus spent himself in his endeavor to bring them to Christ, he writes to those whom he did bring.
13. Now in return for the same. There must be some wages for this blessed work. The Apostle wisely puts it on that footing,as if, surely, they were indebted to him, but the payment that he seeks is, of course, no personal gain to him. He only putsit in that form, but it is a gain to them.
13. (Ispeak as unto my children), be you also enlarged. ' 'There has been so much earnest labor to secure your conversion,so be you also in earnest to bring in others. Get large thoughts of God; be fully consecrated to Him, spend and be spent forHim. Follow a good example." Paul could well urge them to that consecration when he had given himself so completely to thework of winning souls-"Be you also enlarged."
14. Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Not in any way-neither in marriage which is the chief of all formsfor yoking, nor yet in business or other partnerships.
14. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? You must be inthe same world with them, but keep yourself distinct from them. Go not into their society by your own choice, nor seek yourpleasure with them.
15-18. And what concord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement hasthe Temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk inthem; andl will be their Godand theyshall be Mypeople. Therefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord,and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,says the Lord Almighty.