Sermon 2898. The Search Warrant
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 1904.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON A LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DURING THE WINTER OF 1861-2.
"But there are some of you that believe not." John 6:64.
ARE there really? Yes. He that searches the hearts says so. Then it is high time for us to enquire, "What is it to believein Christ? What is it to believe to the saving of the soul?" It is not merely to consider the Gospel to be true. It is notsimply to endorse the Doctrine that Christ is God. Those who hold a sound creed may be destitute of precious faith and thosewho are able to defend the Divinity of Christ with admirable scholarship may, nevertheless, be without God in the world. Tobelieve in Christ includes much more than a religious profession. It is so to believe the Gospel as to forsake all other beliefsfor the possession of its blessed hope! It is to imbibe the spirit of the Word of God while you accept the letter of its pureteaching! Or, in other words, it is to come to Jesus and to prove, in your own souls, His power to save.
Just as the faith of Abraham led him to leave his kindred and his father's house under the guardian care of Jehovah, so savingfaith leads a man to leave his self-sufficiency with all the carnal pursuits and ambitions that encircled, like a farmstead,his natural and primitive home and to go forth, led by Jesus Christ, not knowing where he goes. Just as faith led the harlotRahab to anticipate the doom of Jericho-to hang the scarlet line in her window and then to rest securely in her house thoughthe town walls upon which it was built, were shaking-so, by faith, the sinner comes to the blood of sprinkling, hangs thepromise of Redemption in the window of his soul and though he feels himself to be, naturally, no better than others, yet herests secure because that scarlet line is there and he is safe! Or, to use another figure, just as the Hebrew householderslew the lamb, dipped the bunch of hyssop in its blood, sprinkled it upon the lintel and the two side posts of his house andthen calmly ate the Passover supper, though he knew that the destroying angel was flying through the land of Egypt and though,perhaps, he could even hear the shrieks of the dying and the wailing of the bereaved-yet he remained quietly in his houseknowing that though he might be the guiltiest of men, the blood secured his safety according to the promise of God!
To believe in Jesus, then, is to trust our soul's salvation to what Jesus has done for us, to prove what He is doing in usand to rely entirely upon His promise to save us even to the end. It is to drop from the giddy elevation where we stand onthe rotten timbers of self-righteousness and to fall into the Omnipotent arms of Him who stands ready to receive us. It isto tear off the rags of our own spinning that we may be clothed with the righteousness which is from Heaven. Faith is thereverse of sight! It is to believe that we are saved when sin tells us that we are lost. It is to believe that Christ hascleansed us when we still feel defilement within. It is to believe that we shall see His face in Glory when clouds and darknessenshroud our path and doubts and fears distress our heart. This is the faith which saves the soul!
We are not saved by faith, itself, as a meritorious work. There is no merit in believing in God and even if there were, itcould not save us, since salvation by merit has been once and for all solemnly excluded. Nor does faith save us as an efficientcause. Faith is the channel of salvation, not the fountain and source of it. Hence faith, though it saves, never boasts. Hethat boasts has not faith and he that has faith can say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord JesusChrist." When the poor man who was bitten by the fiery serpent looked to the bronze serpent upon the pole, it was his eyesthat saved him-yet it was not the merit of looking, nor was it his eyes that were the efficient cause of his cure- all theglory of it was to be given to God who had ordained that the bronze serpent would be the means of healing to all
who looked to it. So, faith is the eye with which we look to Christ, yet it has neither merit nor efficacy in itself-all themerit and efficacy lie in the precious blood of Him to whom we look.
Again, faith is an empty hand. Yes, it is the filthy hand of the leprous sinner and Christ puts His mercy into that blackhand. Is there any merit in the hand? God forbid! Is there any efficiency to save in the hand? Oh, no, my Brothers and Sisters-thehand which givesmust have the glory, not the hand which takes! He who bestows the blessing must have the honor of it, notthe faith by which we receive the blessing from Him. Now, having thus spoken upon what faith is, and having tried to showyou its peculiar position in the work of salvation, I am solemnly reminded, by our text, that "there are some of you thatbelieve not." The context shows that these words were spoken by Christ to His disciples. They were gathered around Him andHe was addressing them. Some of them had murmured because what He said to them was too "hard" for them to receive and theLord Jesus, being able to read their hearts, could say to them, "There are some of you that believe not." And the InspiredEvangelist adds, "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who would not believe, and who would betray Him."
I am going to speak first about those whose unbelief is secret And secondly, about those who are known to us to be unbelievers.
I. First, THERE ARE SOME WHOSE UNBELIEF IS SECRET-it is known only to Christ.
If you had looked upon those disciples of Christ, you would have judged that they had received the gift of eternal life. Youwould have said, "God forbid that I should condemn any of those men who have come out from an ungodly generation and haveprofessed to be followers of the Prophet of Nazareth!" Although it would be wrong for us to judge our fellow creatures, Jesusjudged His disciples and judged them rightly, for He can penetrate even to the heart. He can discern the secret thoughts,intents and motives of all men. And the day is coming when He will finally judge the whole race of mankind. His eyes evennow pierce through the hypocrite's disguise, but His hands shall tear it away when He shall say to those who cry to Him, "Lord!Lord!"-"Verily I say unto you, I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of iniquity." We know not the hollowness of theirpretense, but Christ knows all about it. And if the Holy Spirit shall help us, we may be enabled to show it to them. Oh, thatit may be so, even now, that they may stand with their souls revealed, and their consciences convicted-and that they may nowseek faith-seeing that they have it not!
What reason for alarm and for heart-searching there is here, for it is to be feared that even in the ministry there are somewho have not faith! Yes, Brothers, there have been in all ages men who have worn the robes of God's ambassadors, but who havenot been at peace with Him. It is a solemn and dreadful fact that there have been men who have broken the bread at the Lord'sTable and who have been leaders in God's Israel, yet who, notwithstanding that, have had neither part nor lot in the matter!Brothers in the ministry and young men who occasionally go out to preach the Word and who are hoping, by-and-by, to have asettled pastorate, let us ask ourselves this question-Is it not possible that we, although preachers of the Word, may yetbe without faith? Are we seeking to teach others what we have not ourselves learned? Are we only like scaffolds, used in thebuilding of Christ's Church, yet not part of the spiritual structure, or like Noah's laborers who helped to build the ark,yet were drowned by the great deluge? Are we like Elijah's ravens which brought him bread and meat from Ahab's table, yetremained unclean birds of evil omen? Let us seriously question ourselves, for God has sometimes done good works by bad men-yetthis has not saved the men-even as it was with Judas who worked miracles as the other Apostles did, preached as they did,yet who, nevertheless, was "a son of perdition" who went to "his own place" among the lost!
Further, is it not possible that there are some in the other offices of the church who have not faith? Men and Brothers, letme speak to you who are the fathers in Israel. Though but young, myself, yet, as God's servant delivering His message, I speakto you with authority. Is it not possible that you may serve tables, as deacons of the Church, and yet that you may be anintruder at Christ's Table? You may be an elder and an overseer of others and yet have to say, "They made me the keeper ofthe vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept." It is solemn work to be made a watcher over the souls of men! But whatmust be our position if, after watching over others, our own soul should still be in the gall of bitterness and the bondsof iniquity? "I speak as unto wise men; judge you what I say"-office-bearing and the choice of the Church cannot guaranteeyour salvation!
And as this is true of some ministers and of some Church officers, it may be true of others who are engaged in various worksof piety. I thank God that we have here many Sabbath school teachers, tract distributors, street preachers-in
fact, I hope that there are very few persons in this Church who are notregularly engaged in doing good in one way or other.If there are among them any who do not believe, I am happy to say that I do not know them. Yet is it possible, dear Friend,that you are teaching a Sunday school class although you need to become as a little child before you can enter the Kingdomof Heaven? May you not be distributing messages of mercy to others, in the streets, or from door to door and yet be, yourself,in need of that mercy? If that is your sad case, you are like a man with a leprous hand dealing out medicine to the sick!Take care, Christian workers, that in this day of activity, when there is so much to do, you do not neglect the personal actof faith which unites your soul to Christ. See to this vital and all-important matter. Make the outside of the cup and platterclean, as far as you can, but see that the inside is not full of hypocrisy. However active you are in the Lord's service,I pray that your exclusive self-examination may be as earnest as your expansive zeal! May you be as much concerned to be savedas to proclaim salvation to others!
Now I speak to the Church members in general. I thank God that He is adding to this Church every day. Sometimes I hear a whisperfrom one side that those of us whose business it is to examine candidates for Church fellowship are too severe in our judgmentof them. And, on the other side, there are some who say that we are not searching enough! Brothers and Sisters, it is enoughfor me and my fellow laborers in Christ, when we can say with singleness of spirit-and not with eye-service, as men-pleasers-"Wehave sought to serve God in this matter. I do verily believe that for the most part, what we have bound on earth has beenbound in Heaven-and what we have loosed on earth has been loosed in Heaven. At any rate, if we have erred in any case it hasbeen neither by favor nor by prejudice, but we have sought, after lifting up our hearts to Heaven, to give a righteous judgmentin every instance. Yet, with all the care that may be exercised, there is not, beneath Heaven, a single church that is perfect!
Some of you are members of this Church and some are members of other churches, yet it is almost certain that there are someof you who believe not. I do not profess to be able to separate the tares from the wheat, but Jesus can do it-He knows thoseamong you who have no faith! You may talk about faith and yet not really have it yourselves. You may have a great gift inprayer and yet not have faith. You may be an acceptable preacher and yet not have faith. You may walk uprightly before yourfellow men and yet not have faith. You may be a generous subscriber to every holy work and yet not have faith. How nearlya man may be a Christian and yet be lost! The counterfeit may be made to look so like the genuine that men may look at itagain, and again, and again and yet may pronounce the real to be counterfeit and the false to be genuine! The Lord grant thatif there are, in this congregation, any who have a name to live and yet are dead, they may be awakened to a sense of theirtrue condition before God before it is too late-and that Christ may give them life!
Brothers and Sisters, I do not know that at the present moment if I have any doubt of my own personal interest in Christ.Yet I do know that it is a very solemn thing to be so sure and that it is a damnable thing to be presumptuous concerning sucha matter. There will be times, with all of us, when it will do us good to sit down and seriously ask, "Are these things so,or are they not?" Let us dig down to the very foundations of our faith and see what it is upon which we are building for eternity!There will be times when all our past experience will be blown to shreds, like the sail of the mariner in a great gale. Therewill be times when our strongest evidence will snap like a mast broken by the fury of the storm. There will be times whenall our comforts and joys will go like hencoops washed overboard from a laboring ship. Oh, what a blessed thing it is, atsuch a time as that, to cast our great bower anchor into the sea and to calmly sing-
"In every high and stormy gale My Anchor holds within the veil"
When anyone can say-
"His oath, His covenant and His blood, Support me in the sinking flood"-
he may feel that he is everlastingly secure and that Jesus is, indeed, his Savior! May the Holy Spirit enable you to judge-for we cannot-whether you have this saving faith or not!
II. Now, in the second place, I am to speak about THOSE WHO ARE KNOWN TO US AS UNBELIEVERS.
First, there is a very pleasing class of persons here who say, " We have no faith, but we are very anxious to have itt" Ibless God for you, dear Friends, and I wish that we had thousands like you! You feel your need of Christ, you long to be saved,you hate sin, you hate self-righteousness-yet you have no faith. There are certain questions that each of you often puts tous. First, "May I believe in Christ?" I answer-Of course you may, because Christ bids you do so and what He bids you do, youmay do. "But am I fit to believe in Him?" No fitness is required. "But am I the person who may believe
in Jesus?" There is no special person indicated, for the Gospel runs on this wise and it is to be preached to every creatureunder Heaven, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." As to the question whether you may believe in Jesus,whoever you are, I say-Yes, certainly-come and welcome, for Christ has said, "Whoever will, let him take the water of lifefreely." Your next question probably is, "Can I believe ?" I do not know, but I should think that you can. I will put a fewquestions to you-Can you believe that Christ is God? "Yes." Can you believe anything that God says? "Yes." You can believe,then, for Christ said it and Christ is God-that He came to seek and to save that which is lost, and you know that you arelost. God says, through His servant, the Apostle Paul, "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." And you knowthat you are a sinner, therefore He came into the world to save you! Surely you can believe that! I know many persons whosay that they cannot believe, when in truth they can, yet they do not know that they can! How is it, then, that there arestill so many who believe not?
The chief reason is because they will not believe-they are too proud-they love their own righteousness too much, they thinkthemselves too wise to submit to the righteousness of Christ. But you ask, "Can Ibelieve in Jesus?" I say ra-ther-Can you?I ask you the question! You who are as evil as Hell-can you believe that Christ can save you? "Yes, Sir," you say, "I canbelieve that." Can you believe that He is willing to save you-good and gracious Christ that He is-hanging on the Cross andbidding you trust Him? "Oh, Sir!" you say, "I cannot help believing that." Well, then, you have proved that you can believe,for you have done it already! I used to think that believing in Christ was some mysterious thing and I could not make outwhat it was-but when I heard that it was just this-"Look unto Me, and be you saved," I found that the only reason why it wasso hard was that it was so easy! If it had been a more difficult matter, then my proud spirit would have tried to accomplishit! But being so easy, my proud spirit would not do it.
You remember why Naaman could not wash in the Jordan as the Prophet bade him? It was because he would not- his proud spiritwould not let him. "I thought," he said-that was where the mischief lay, for what right had he to think? "I thought he willsurely come out to me and stand, and call on the name of the Lord, his God, and strike his hand over the place and recoverthe leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them andbe clean?" That is why he could not wash in the Jordan, because he would not, but persisted in asking questions, needing tobe wiser than God.
tried Heart, you may believe and I think I may say that you can believe! God is true-you know that-and it cannot be hardto believe when you know that. Christ is able to save-you know He is-so it cannot be difficult to believe in Him. Christ iswilling to save-you know He is-then is it hard for you to believe in Him? So I say that you can believe. May God bless youand make you willing to believe, for, if He makes you willing, He will be sure to show you that you are able to believe!
The next class without faith is not one over which we can rejoice so much as over those who are anxious to have faith-I meanthe despairing ones. There are some souls that feel their sin to be very heavy. They have the Gospel faithfully preached tothem, but they are so proud that they will have it that Christ is not willing to save them, so they will not go to Him. Thereis such a thing as proud humility-when a person feels a sort of self-conception of being base. "No," he says, "I cannot takethe medicine. I am too sick." Now that man is as much a suicide, spiritually, as though he took poison, or stabbed himselfto death! God says that He is able to save you, but you say that He is not. You are lying in the very teeth of His promiseand charging Him to be a liar! The Apostle Paul, writing under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that Christ is ableto save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him-yet you, in effect, say, "No, He is not." Why, you are imitatingSatan-setting up your wisdom in the place of God's-instead of accepting God's Word as true!
1 know that when I first heard that Christ could save such a sinner as I was, I thought the news was too good to be true,but the Holy Spirit led me to trust in Him and then I proved that it was true. If you are a poor miserable beggar and somegood man here should say to you, "Come home with me and I will give you a good situation. No, more, I will take you into myhome and you shall be my son and heir." You would say, "Well, I can hardly believe it, but I will go and see if it is true."I hope you will say to God, who has promised you far more than that, "Lord, I am as evil a sinner as there is out of Hell,but if You will, You can make me clean. Lord, do it! I give myself to You." And if, poor despairing Soul, you can say, "Itis God with whom I have to deal and He can do anything. It is a dying Savior with whom I have to deal
and He must be willing to forgive. It is the risen Redeemer of whom I have to think-He can speak peace to my soul and He willdo it!" If you can thus trust yourself with Him, you will honor God and you will be saved!
But there is still a larger class in perhaps greater danger. I mean, the careless and thoughtless. How many of you have comein here out of a curiosity which may never bring you here again? For you, death is a dream, Heaven a fiction and Hell a bugbear.You know that the Word of God is true, yet you never trouble yourself about its warnings and threats. You say, "Let us eatand drink, and enjoy ourselves," but as for your immortal soul, you have left that to take care of itself as the ostrich leavesits eggs in the wilderness. Permit me, for a minute or two, to show you that I care for your soul even if you do not carefor it yourself. You who are indifferent to your spiritual welfare, remember that you belong to the most hopeless class underHeaven! The profane are frequently converted, but the indifferent not so often. I have noticed that those who get into thehabit of going first to one place of worship, and then to another, are very rarely saved-yet that is not because they opposethe Truth of God. No, if they would do that, there might be some hope concerning them! When you are at home, take up a flintand an India rubber ball of the same size. Then take a hammer and strike both of them with it. Every time you smite the ball,you make an impression upon it, but it quickly returns to its original shape. When you hit the flint with the hammer, youmay produce no impression for a time, but, by-and-by, after one of your blows, it is shivered to atoms. Many of you are likethat India rubber ball. Under the preaching of the Gospel, you are interested, moved, affected-but the impression is neververy deep and you soon return to your original form-you are shallow with regard to heavenly things. We cannot get at yourconscience, we cannot reach your heart-would God that we could!
I pray you to remember, however, that there is a time coming when Death will preach far more effectually to you than I can!I recollect a narrative of a young woman, a fair and lovely lady, whose mother was very proud of her. She had introduced herinto all the fashionable circles of the city. Her dresses were always becoming, but also expensive and even extravagant. Shelived only to go to one party and another, and to one amusement and another. Her mother had not observed-for mothers do notlike to notice such things-that there had been a great paleness on her daughter's cheeks. A rapid decline set in and, at last,to the mother's terror and the daughter's dismay, the doctor thought it his duty to say that it was impossible that she couldlive many weeks. Neither mother nor daughter had ever cared for ministers. Religion would have stood in the way of their chosenpursuits, so they avoided it-but now the minister was sent for. He was an earnest, faithful servant of Christ, so, insteadof striving to bolster her up with false hopes, he began to talk of death, judgment, eternity and the wrath of God. The youngwoman deeply felt the force and the truth of his words-and said to her mother, "I cannot think what you have been doing withme. You have led me to believe that these fine dresses and those parties and amusements were all I had to live for! Why didyou not tell me I must die? Why did you not bid me prepare for eternity? O my Mother, would that you had told me that I mustsoon leave this world and enter the eternal state!" She begged them to bring out her last fineries and she said, "Mother,I feel it is too late now, for I shall die, but hang those things up and look at them, and never bring up another child asyou have brought me up! And as for yourself, I charge you to think how soon you, too, must die."
So I say to all careless ones here-Think of the grave to which you must go sooner or later. Think of your last hours and ofthe only true preparation for them. While it is true of you now that you have no faith, may it not be true very long-but mayyou even now seek and find faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! For, remember that notto believe in Christ is to be already exposedto the wrath of God! Notto believe in Christ is to be without salvation and already under condemnation! There are many whodo not know what it is to have a present salvation, but I bless God that there are also many who do know what a present salvationis! Do you know what it is? Not long ago I was asked this question, "Is it possible for a man to be saved now?""Possible?Possible? If it is not possible for him to be saved now, it is not possible for him to he saved at all! But the Apostle Paulassures us that "now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." And no man should give sleep to his eyes,nor slumber to his eyelids until he feels and knows that this present salvation is really his!
Oh, what peace it gives to know that you are now forgiven, now blessed, now saved! Oh, how sweet it is to be able to say thatGod is my Father, that I am His child and that He will keep me in perfect safety and bring me to be forever where He is! Oh,the delights of this present salvation! It is better than a king's throne-it is better than a prince's riches. Present salvation-itis Heaven on earth! It is the antepast of the peace of immortality! Heaven on earth can only be
known by those who are saved and who know that they are saved. May that be your case and mine, Beloved! Christ's own wordsare, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned." May God bless us all withthe true belief which is eternal life to all who possess it, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE 12:1-32.
The teaching of our Lord in this chapter has very much to do with Christianity in connection with this present life, its caresand troubles. God has nowhere promised us exemption from affliction and trial. Indeed, it has been said, with much truth,that the Old Testament promise was one of prosperity, but that the New Testament promise is one of tribulation. You may restassured that if it had been best for us to be taken directly to Heaven when we were converted, the Lord would have done it!But as He has not done so, there are wise reasons why He keeps His people here for a while. The gold must go through the firebefore it has its place in the king's crown-and the wheat must be exposed to the winnowing fan before it can be taken intothe heavenly garner.
Verse 1. In the meantime, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trampledone another, He began to say unto His disciples first of all, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy Hypocrisy,however, of a kind that was calculated to spread like leaven. If you know that a man is a hypocrite, you do not feel inclinedto imitate him. But the Pharisees were such well-made hypocrites-such excellent counterfeits- that many people were temptedto imitate them! Our Lord teaches us, however, that it is no use being a hypocrite.
2. For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. For many a day, the hypocrite'strue character may not be discovered but there is a day coming that will reveal all secrets-and woe unto the man whose sinis laid bare in that day!
3. Therefore whatever you have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which you have spoken in the ear inclosets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. It would be well if we all lived in such a fashion that we would not be ashamedto have everything we did placarded in the sky. I have heard of one who said that he would like to have a window in his heartso that everybody might see what was going on. I think that if I had such a window in my heart, I would like to have shutters-andI question whether any man would really wish to have his heart open to the gaze of all mankind! But at least let our livesbe such that we should not be ashamed for the Universal Eye to be fixed upon them. If you are ashamed to have any one of youractions known, be ashamed to do it! If you would be ashamed to hear again what you were about to say, do not say it! Checkyour tongue. Be cautious and careful. Live always as one who realizes God's Omniscience. While one of the ancient oratorswas speaking on one occasion, all his hearers went away with the exception of Plato-but he continued to speak as eloquentlyas ever, for he said that Plato was a sufficient audience for any man. So, if there are none but the eyes of God looking uponyou, be just as careful as if you were in the street surrounded by your fellow creatures. No, be more careful because youare in the Presence of your Creator!
4. 5. AndI say unto you My Friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, andafter that have no more that they can do.But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear Him who after He has killed has power to cast into Hell; yes, I say untoyou, Fear Him. And how wise and brave we shall be if we fear God! It is well put in that Psalm which we sometimes sing-
"Fear Him, you saints, and you will then Have nothing else to fear."
This great filial fear will chase out all the little, mean, cowardly fears, for he who, in the Scriptural sense, fears God,can never be a coward in dealing with men.
6, 7. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs ofyour head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows. God does not forget the sparrows,but He regards you with far greater interest and care, for He counts the very hairs of your head. He not only knows that thereis such a person, but He knows the minutest details of your life and being. It is always a great comfort to remember thatour Heavenly Father knows us. A dying man who had been for many years a Believer had a minister at his bedside who asked him,"Don't you know Jesus?" "Yes, Sir," he replied, "I do, but the ground of my comfort is
that He knows me." And surely there is a great force in that Truth of God! Your Heavenly Father knows you so completely thatHe has counted the hairs of your head! "Fear not therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
8, 9. Also Isay unto you, Whoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son ofMan also confess before the angels of God:but he that denies Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. What courage this ought to give us! In companywhere the very name of Christ is kicked about like a football-where everything is respected except true religion-it is notalways an easy thing to come forward and say, "I, also, am His disciple." But if you will do this, you have Christ's pledgethat He will acknowledge you before the angels of God. If you do not do so, but practically deny Him by a shameful silence,you may reasonably expect that He, also, will deny you before the angels.
10. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son ofMan, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against theHoly Spirit it shall not be forgiven. This is one of the very difficult texts of Holy Scripture. We are told, in 1 John 5:16 that "there is a sin unto death," and I would have you very cautious of ever daring to trifle with the Spirit of God sincesin against Him is guarded with such special warnings! The flaming sword of Divine Vengeance seems to hang before the veryname of the Holy Spirit, so, whatever you do, never trample upon His royal dignity, or blaspheme Him in heart or by lips.
11. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers. That is to say, the persecutors-"when theybring you there, to be tried for your lives, as many have been in past ages and some still are."
11, 12. Take you no thought how or what thing you shall answer, or what you shall say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach youin the same hour what you ought to say. I have often been amazed and delighted with the remarkable answers which were givento bishops and priests by poor humble men and women who were on trial for their lives. Perhaps you remember that Anne Askewwas asked, in order to entangle her in her speech, "What would become of a mouse if it ate the bread of the holy sacrament?"She said that was too deep a question for a poor woman like her to answer and she begged the learned bishop on the bench totell her what would become of the mouse-to which his lordship answered that it would be damned! Now, what reply could be givento that but the one Anne Askew gave, "Alack, poor mouse!"? I do not know that anything better could have been said! And onother occasions there have been answers which have been deeply theological. And there have been some which have been wiselyevasive and also some full of weight. And others full of Grace and the Truth of God, for the Holy Spirit has helped His saints,in time of persecution, to answer well those who have accused them.
13-17. And one of the company said unto Him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divides the inheritance with me. And Hesaid unto him, Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you? And He said unto them, Take heed, beware of covetousness: fora man's life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses. And He spoke a parable unto them, saying, The groundof a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have noroom where to bestow my fruits?There were empty cupboards in the houses of the poor and there were hungry children to be fed-sothis man need not have lacked room where he could bestow his fruits!
18-20. Andhe said, This will Ido: I willpull down my barns and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and mygoods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.But God said unto him, You fool!Which was the last thing he thought-he imagined that he was a very wise man! "But God saidunto him, You fool!"
20, 21. This night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided? So is hethat lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. Here our Savior shows us the frail nature of the tenure uponwhich we hold all earthly goods and how it is not worthwhile to make these the chief things of our life, for, while they mayleave us, we are quite sure, by-and-by, to have to leave them!
22. And He said unto His disciples, Therefore Isay unto you, Take no thought No undue, anxious thought, for such is the meaningof the word used here. "Take no thought."
22-30. For your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shallput on. The life is more than food, and thebody is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn, andGod feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls? And which of you by worrying can add to his stature one cubit?Ifyou then are not able to do that thing which is the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how theygrow: they toil not, they spin not, and yet Isay unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not ar-
rayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven;how much more willHe clothe you, Oyou oflittle faith? And seek not whatyou shall eat, or whatyou shall drink, neither be youof a doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have needof these things. So that, with the knowledge of His guarantees to you that you shall always have enough, why do you need tobe care-worn and anxious? I have often looked at birds in a cage and thought of the happiness and carelessness of heart whichthey seem to exhibit. And yet, if you were to forget to give them water, or if you were to fail to give them seed, how soonthey would die! Perhaps the little creature has not enough to last it more than one day, but it goes on singing its tune andleaves all anxiety about tomorrow to those whose business it is to care for it. You would be ashamed to let your bird starve-andwill your Heavenly Father let you, who are not His birds, but His children, starve? Oh, no! "Your Father knows that you haveneed of these things."
31, 32. But rather seek you the Kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; forit is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. He does not give you all that you would like to have, but He isgoing "to give you the Kingdom." He gives the lesser gifts to others, but He is saving up the Kingdom for you! Luther oncesaid, "All the empires of the earth are only so much meal for God's swine-but the treasure is for His children. They may haveless meal, but they shall have the Eternal Kingdom." Oh, how blessed are we if, by faith, we know that this is true concerningus! "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom"!