Sermon 3019. The Hungry Filled, the Rich Emptied
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 1906.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 26, 1869.
"He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hats sent away empty." Luke 1:53.
Divine Providence is like a wheel and as the wheel revolves, that spoke which was highest becomes the lowest, and that whichwas lowest is elevated to the highest place. It seems to be one of the works in which God delights to cast down the loftyand to lift up the lowly. He hurls down princes from their thrones and lifts up beggars from the dunghill! "Every valley shallbe exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low." Like the woodman with his axe, the Providence of God is cuttingdown the high and goodly cedars while making trees that were dry and withered, fruitful. That which is full, God empties.And that which is empty, God fills. That which is something, He makes to be nothing, and that which is nothing, He makes tobe something. That which is reckoned the wisdom of this world, God makes to be utter folly, but base things of the world,and things which are despised, has God chosen that He may elevate them and crown them with His Glory.
I am going to take our text as one instance of the general Providence of God and to use it, first, in reference to sinners.Then in reference to saints and, lastly, in reference to saints in their capacity as workers for Christ.
I. First, then, WITH REFERENCE TO SINNERS it is true that, "He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hassent away empty."
" The hungry" are the poorest of the poor. When a man is homeless, he is poor, but he may still have something in his pursewith which to supply his present necessities. When a man is penniless, he is certainly poor, yet he may have just satisfiedthe cravings of his hunger and before the time shall come for another meal, he may be able to procure it. But when the hourhas passed in which the man should have refreshed himself and he is liberally hungry, yet has no means of getting food, thenhe is one of the poorest of the poor! There are thousands in London who are very poor, but still, they are not actually hungry.They are brought down to poverty, but yet, by some means or other, they are able to get their daily needs supplied. The hungryman is worse off and he represents the lowest degree of spiritual'poverty. When a man has lost all his former treasures ofself-righteousness, when he has no merits, no strength, no might whatever-when he is entirely empty and his soul craves forwhat it cannot find in itself, nor earn of itself, nor by any possibility procure by its own merit or power-then is the manin the lowest state of spiritual destitution. And when he is brought to that state, then may he expect, in his experience,the fulfillment of the first part of our text, "He has filled the hungry with good things."
More than that, the man who is hungry is not only abjectly poor, but he feels his poverty in a way that does not permit himto forget it. The man who has but few clothes upon his back may, by reason of the genial weather, scarcely realize that heis wearing the garb of poverty. A man who sleeps in a miserable hut may seldom have been better housed and, therefore, mayscarcely recognize that he is dwelling among the very poor. But he that is hungry has internal evidence that will not allowhim to deny, nor even for a moment to forget, his destitution! So is it with certain sinners. They have within them an insatiablehunger which causes a desperate unrest. There is no peace for them-neither by day nor by night can they be at ease. Theirsins haunt them and the fear of punishment dogs their heels. They long to find mercy, but know not how to seek it rightly.They would be thankful, indeed, to be saved from the wrath to come, but they wonder whether salvation is possible for them.They know they are guilty in the sight of God yet, possibly, they feel grieved to think that they do not feel as much grievedas they should-and are vexed to think that they are not more
vexed on account of their sins! All this shows very clearly how utterly destitute they must be, and how truly they may writethemselves down among the spiritually "hungry."
I hope I am now addressing some who are in this condition. Dear Friends, you are well aware that there is no good thing inyou, yet you wish there were. Sometimes you fear that you have not even the desire to be right. To be able to confess yoursins with a proper tenderness of conscience seems to be a task beyond your powers. You say that you wish you could repentand could believe-but I think you arerepenting and believing all the while! But even if you are not, this only proves howabjectly poor you are spiritually and how far you have gone astray from God-and how lost, how undone you are! And then comesin this blessed message of our text, "He has filled the hungry"-that is, such sinners as you are, so full of needs-"He hasfilled the hungry with good things."
How is it that the hungry get filled while the rich are sent away empty? I think it is, partly, because the hungry are notto be satisfied with anything but bread. There are many in the world who spend their money for that which is not bread-andthey are content with an unsubstantial diet. But a really hungry soul knows that it needs bread and will not be put off withanything else. When a soul really feels the pressure of sin, it needs to have it pardoned, and it will not be content withanything less than pardon. It needs peace with God, and it will never rest till it gets it. The soul that once hungers afterGod, the living God, will not be put off with ceremonies and so-called "sacraments." It needs Christ, Himself! It needs tohear Him say, "Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven; go in peace." You can pacify those whose desires are only whims,but when men's desires are based on such voracious appetites as the hungry have, you cannot satisfy them by the clatter ofplates and dishes, or the rattling of knives and forks, or even with the sight of food. They must have it to eat-they willnot be put off without it! They cry until they get it and, therefore, they get it, for God hears their cry and grants theirrequest. If a man's prayer is of such a character that only Sovereign Grace, real pardon and true salvation will content hissoul, then he shall not be put off with anything else, but he shall have that for which his soul craves. Such a man prayswith one of our hymn-writers-
"Gracious Lord, incline Your ear,
My requests vouchsafe to hear.
Hear my never-ceasing cry,
Give me Christ, or else I die!
Lord, deny me what You will,
Only ease me of my guilt!
Suppliant at Your feet I lie,
Give me Christ or else I die!
You have promised to forgive
All who in Your Son believe-
Lord, I know You cannot lie.
Give me Christ, or else I die!" How vain a thing it is for a man to boast of the privileges he enjoys rather than of the usewhich he has made of them! How many say, like the Jews of old, "The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The templeof the Lord are these," because they think they belong to an orthodox denomination or they are members of a church which iscorrect in its creed, or they attend a ministry which God has greatly blessed to the salvation of souls. Ah, Sirs! But ifthe Creed is not believed in your heart, and if the ministry is not blessed to you, your boasting is as vain as that of onewho was clothed in rags, died in poverty, but who boasted of the wealth of London! Or of the man who shut his eyes, but who,nevertheless, boasted of the light that shone upon his countenance. Unless you useyour privileges. Unless you get throughthe external husks into the very spirit and kernel of them, instead of boasting, you have reason to be ashamed and to hideyour heads! But the truly hungry soul is not satisfied with privileges and opportunities-he wants Christ! To sit in a placeof worship to hear a Gospel sermon, he counts to be a favor, for he is very humble, but it is a favor that cannot contenthim. His soul cries, "Lord, give me Christ! Give me salvation! Give me assurance to know that my many iniquities are castbehind Your back, to be remembered against me no more forever!" He cannot be content with anything short of a full Christfor his poor empty spirit!
Further, a hungry soul is likely to get the blessing it craves because it is an importunate soul You know that our Lord JesusChrist, in His parable of the widow and the unjust judge, set forth the prevalence of importunate pleading
with God. And, on another occasion our Lord used the figure of one who, though not himself hungry, was able to satisfy thehunger of a friend who had unexpectedly called upon him when he had nothing to set before him. But, by his importunity, heobtained for his friend the food that he needed. Yes, and let a man really have the fear of Hell before his eyes and a sinceredesire for reconciliation with God-let his soul be really hungering after peace with God through Jesus Christ-and he willbe at Mercy's door both night and day! He will hammer away at the knocker and give God no rest until He puts forth His handand gives the Bread of Life to that poor starving suppliant. Yes, it is holy importunity that wins the day-and the spirituallyhungry man gets the blessing because his importunity gives success to his pleading with God!
I feel sure that there are some in this place who, knowing their need-being painfully conscious that they have no good thingof their own-are hungering after eternal life. I trust that this hunger will grow into a craving that will never be satisfieduntil you get what your spirit wants. I pray God that you may never be comforted till Christ comforts you-never get peacetill He becomes your peace, never feel that you are safe till you get into the very heart of Christ- and never suppose thatyou are clean till you are washed in the Fountain filled with His blood! Beware of getting peace apart from Christ! Alwaysbe afraid of a hope that is not grounded upon Him, for it is far better to continue to hunger and to thirst than to be satisfiedwith the dust and ashes of this world's religion, or this world's pleasures! O you hungry ones, hear the words of the textand be encouraged-"He has filled the hungry." Look at that blessed word, "filled." He has not merely given them a little refreshment,or administered some temporary consolation to them, but, "He has filled the hungry"-given them all that they can wish for,all that their souls really need! Turn to this blessed Book of God and see what promises are there for needy souls. Do theyneed pardon? There is plenteous forgiveness! Do they need adoption? "They shall be My sons and my daughters, says the LordAlmighty." Do they need comfort? There is the Holy Spirit, Himself, to be their Comforter. Do they need anything on earthor in Heaven? Then it shall not be denied to them, seeing that, in giving Christ to them, God has given them all things! "Hehas flledthe hungry."
It is a blessed thing to see the man who was once spiritually hungry, after he has had his soul filled by God. How he rejoices!He dances like David did before the Ark-no, more than that-his soul seems as though it would dance into Heaven itself withglorious leaps of overwhelming joy! As Christ is mine and Christ is All, I have in Christ all that I can ever desire! It isa blessed fullness, a Divine satiety, a heavenly satisfaction which the Lord gives to us when He makes our youth to be renewedlike the eagles by filling our mouth with good things!
We must notice one other word in the text. "He has filled the hungry with good things." I shall not be altering the text,but only giving its true sense if I say that He fills the hungry soul with the best of things. They are positively good andthey are comparatively good-better than all the good things of the world. And they are superlatively good, for even Heaven,itself, has no better things than God gives to poor hungry souls when they come to Him by faith in Jesus. We are apt to thinkthat if men are starving, the most common kind of food will do for them as long as they are able to keep away from death'sdoor-but it is not thus that God deals with the spiritually hungry. He spreads the table bounteously, royally, with the bestof food and fills the hungry with good things-not simply with a good thing, but the word is in the plural, "with good things."Their needs are many, so the mercies given to them shall also be many! Their needs seem to be as many as their moments, butthe mercies of God exceed their utmost needs! All their capacious souls can wish, they shall find in Jesus Christ, who shallbe their All-in-All.
The text, you observe, refers to the past, but it may be taken for granted that what God did yesterday, He will do today-andwhat He does today, He will do forever, so far as it is necessary and right. And as He is "the same yesterday, and today,and forever," all the blessings that He gives to His people shall be continued to them as long as they need them. Some ofus can say that we were filled with these good things 20 years ago, and we have never again hungered as we hungered then.The Lord has satisfied our souls by giving us Christ-and we are fully content with Him! His own word is true to us, "Whoeverdrinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well ofwater springing up into everlasting life." God is still filling the hungry with good things. There are many in this housewho can testify that in answer to prayer, they have had their griefs relieved and heavenly comforts granted to them and, poorSinner, God is willing to do the same for you! If you are hungering and thirsting, come unto Him, for there is as much Gracein Him today as there ever was! So come, just as you are, and trust Him-rely upon Him and you, too, shall be filled with goodthings!
The other half of the text, in its reference to sinners, I shall touch upon very briefly-"The rich He has sent away empty."Oh, how many sinners there are who think themselves rich! According to their own valuation, they are rich in merit, but theGospel has nothing to do with merit! It only deals with misery and, therefore, it sends them away empty because it does notconduct its business on the lines that they approve. There are many sinners who are so rich in their own estimation that theywill not take Christ and His Cross for nothing. David knew enough to say to the Lord, "With the froward You will show Yourselffroward. For You will save the afflicted people, but will bring down high looks." If a man thinks that he is so good thathe does not need the Gospel, God regards him as so vile that the Gospel brings no message of mercy to him until he humbleshimself and repents. Jesus said, "They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to callthe righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Of all the sins that can happen to us, perhaps the deadliest of all is that of not being conscious of having any sin. A goodold Scotchman used to say that there was no devil in the world so bad as having no devil at all, and that not to be temptedwas the worst sort of temptation. I agree, and not to be conscious of any sin is, perhaps, to be at the furthest point fromGod to which any human being can go, for, the nearer we are to God, the more conscious we are of our own shortcomings andthe more earnestly do we struggle to overcome every atom of sin which we discover to be within our souls.
"The rich" are those who are far from being hungry-they have enough, and to spare. Instead of going down upon their knees,like beggars, to ask mercy from God as a charity, they talk proudly about what they deserve, what good deeds they have doneand what they mean to do in the future and, therefore, they thank God that they are not as other men are.
Now, what becomes of these sinners who think themselves so rich that they have no need of the good things with which God fillsthe hungry? The text does not simply say that they are not fed. It does not say that the door of Mercy is shut in their faces,but it says that they are sent right away from Mercy's door because they have no right to stand there! Why should a man beallowed to pray when he has nothing to pray for? These rich people are sent away from Mercy's table because they do not wantto feed on Mercy's fare. Why should they sit there and uselessly occupy places where hungry ones might sit and feast? So theyare sent away.
And, mark you, it is an awful thing to be sent away from the Gospel. And it is a remarkable thing that the only people whoare sent away from the Gospel are those who consider themselves spiritually rich. You who think yourselves so excellent, moraland amiable. You who cannot see any fault in yourselves. You who think you are going to Heaven because of your good deeds-theGospel not only does not open its door to you, but it even sends you away from its door! And how does it send you away? Thetext says, "The rich he has sent away empty." Empty even of what you once thought you had! I only hope that the gracious meaningof the text may be fulfilled to some of you and that while listening to the Gospel, you may be made to feel that, after all,you are not spiritually rich, but that you are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." It will be the bestday's work that was ever done for you if you are brought to realize your true position and come to Christ confessing yourabject poverty! For, as Joseph Hartwell says-
"'Tis perfect poverty alone
That sets the soul at large.
While we can call one mite our own,
We have no full discharge."
We know what happened to the two debtors. [See sermon Number 3015, Volume 52-THE TWO DEBTORS] "When they had nothing to pay,he frankly forgave them both." But if they had had anything with which they could pay, there would have been no forgivenessvouchsafed to them. Oh, for such an emptying that you may afterwards be filled with good things!
But there are some who are sent away from hearing the Gospel with the same conceit of fullness as they had before- and theyare allowed to remain empty without discovering their true condition. This is a dreadful state for anyone to be in-to go ondeceiving one's self and thinking all is well for time and eternity-and only to find out one's fatal mistake where the discoverywill come too late! "Woe is me," cries the self-righteous professor, when he wakes up in the world to come and finds thathe is shut out of Heaven-"Woe is me that I should ever have fancied that I had a sufficient store of good things for eternity,yet now I have not so much as a drop of water to coat my tongue and I am tormented in this
flame! Woe is me that I am banished forever from the Presence of God, and from the glory of His power-'sent away
O my dear Hearers, may this text be fulfilled to you in a gracious sense, and not in this sense of terrible justice! One ofthe two it must be, for if you are "rich" as the text uses that term, you must be "sent away empty" in one sense or the other.I pray that instead, you may be filled with good things because the Spirit of the Lord has caused you to hunger and thirstafter righteousness!
II. I shall now briefly use the text WITH REFERENCE TO SAINTS.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if your experience at all tallies with mine, I think you will have found that thefirst clause of this portion of Mary's song is most true to you in your spiritual experiences. I find that whenever I am hungry-thatis to say, conscious of my utter unworthiness, weakness, insignificance-then it is that Christ is most precious to me. Thepromises are peculiarly sweet, the Covenant of Grace is a dainty morsel and the assembling of myself with the Lord's peoplebrings me to the King's banqueting table! Is it so with you? When you are hungry, do you get filled with good things? Youremember when you were under the Lord's chastening hand and much broken in spirit through bodily pain, how precious that promisewas, "You will make all his bed in his sickness"? You were laid aside both from the means of Grace and the cares of businesslife-and your soul had time for thought and meditation-and in its hunger, the Lord was made very sweet to you. You rememberwhen you were poor, some years ago, when you had to live from hand to mouth, what blessed times you had with your Lord andMaster?
You are supposed to be better off now, but you are really worse off if you do not have so much of Christ as you had then!You used to, then, take the promise, "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure" in a more literal fashion than youdo now. A message which came to your soul with quickening power was this, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by everyword that proceeds out of the mouth of God." You were hungry then, so your Lord filled you with good things. Every now andthen the pangs of this hunger seize us-our spirits sink, our confidence grows dim through the smoke of our sin and we getsuch a sense of our sinnership as we have not had, perhaps for months. We feel as if we ought never to have made a professionof religion. We are so ashamed of ourselves that if we could ship with Jonah to go to Tarshish, we would be glad to flee fromthe Presence of the Lord and from the presence of His people, too! At such a time as that, if we hear a Gospel sermon preachedto the very chief of sinners, if the preacher opens his mouth wide concerning Sovereign Grace, and forgiving mercy, and thecleansing power of the precious blood of Jesus, oh, how welcome the message is to us! We go to the sanctuary, not to criticizethe preacher, but to seek spiritual food for our souls-and if the preacher does the work which God gave him to do, we arefilled with good things!
But, on the other hand, those who reckon themselves to be spiritually rich are "sent away empty." Yes, "sent away empty" froma full Gospel! How many people there are who have such peculiar tastes-they call them such refined tastes-that there are onlyone or two ministers whom they can hear in a radius of twenty miles! It is a sure sign of a bad spiritual appetite when youmust always have little dainties all to yourself, or, in other words, when the old-fashioned Truths of God become distastefulto your palate. There are two things that I always like to see on the table-whether at breakfast, dinner, or tea-they arenever out of place. And those two things are bread and salt. And the old-fashioned Gospel, like bread and salt on the table,ought to be in every sermon! And those whose souls are in a right spiritual condition will always want to hear it. There aresome who crave fancy cookery-this dish must be prepared after the Plymouth fashion and that dish must be spiced accordingto some other mode. And if it is not made according to the last new fashion in theology, there are some who cannot feed thereon.Oh, to be brought down from such richness as that and to be made spiritually poor! I am sure that our Bibles would be a hundredtimes richer to us than they are now if we were a hundred times poorer than we are-by which I mean that the Bible would bemore truly to us what it really is if we had a truer sense of what we really are. As we went down in our own esteem, it wouldgo up, and the Doctrines of the Bible, the Promises of the Bible-yes, and even the Precepts of the Bible-would possess a wonderfulsweetness to us if we had a greater spiritual hunger. Solomon said, "The full soul loathes honeycomb; but to the hungry soulevery bitter thing is sweet." There is such a thing as getting full of our own graces, full of our own prayers, full of ourown sermons, full of our own good works, full of ourselves-and what state can be worse than this? It is being blown out almostto bursting. Then, Soul, empty yourself of yourself! And when you think of yourself as you ought to think, you will abhoryourself. You will see no good in yourself whatever, but you will see the black fingerprints of your fallen nature even uponthe bright alabaster works of Divine Grace within your soul-and you will mourn over even your best things because you havedefiled them. When we become thus empty, God will fill us with good things.
III. Now, lastly, I believe, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, that our text is true WITH REFERENCE TO CHRISTIANS IN THEIR CAPACITYAS WORKERS FOR CHRIST.
Give me hungry dogs to hunt with and give me really hungry workers to work with for the Lord Jesus Christ! I mean, men andwomen who are dissatisfied with the present spiritual condition of the nominal Christian Church, dissatisfied with the progressthat is being made, earnestly longing for something better, determinately set on doing something that shall be for God's Gloryand the good of the people-crying and sighing for the conversion of souls, not satisfied with ones and twos, but wanting tosee the Kingdom of Christ come in all its power and the will of God done on earth as it is done in Heaven! Give me men whowill not slumber although the professing Church of God slumbers! Men who cannot rest because sinners do not find rest in Christ!Men who have no peace because Christ has not become the sinner's peace! Give me such men, for they will be filled with goodthings. A Church that longs for the blessing and will not be content without it, will get it, but, on the other hand, the"rich" church which says, "We have got the blessing. We are doing very well. We cannot see anything in which we could improve-wepreach the Gospel, we have all the usual agencies, they are all conducted with propriety and with a measure of success. Everythinggoes on exceedingly well. On the whole, we, perhaps, are ahead of the rest of the churches-we ought to let well enough aloneand not try to get up excitement, or be seeking after what is not attainable and attempting such great things that we arepretty sure to fail in our attempts." Such "rich" people will be "sent away empty."
Self-satisfaction is the death of progress. Contentment with worldly goods is a blessing, but contentment in spiritual thingsis a curse and a sin. What did Paul say? "Not as though I had already attained." Some of us think, "If we could get as faras Paul did, we would be satisfied." But Paul said, "Not as though I had already attained," and then he added, "Forgettingthose things which are behind"-why, some of us wish we had such things to remember! But he wished to forget all that he haddone and to think only of what remained to be done-"Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto thosethings which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Oh, for this sacredforgetfulness, by way of contentment, of all successes and achievements so as still to be pressing forward! I would that everyBeliever had, for the Glory of God, that spirit which is never satisfied, but always cries for more! I would have the heartsof Christians insatiable as death and the grave, for how can we stand that men should be forever lost? How can we be quietwhile Hell is being filled and souls are perishing day and night? How can we be at ease while God is blasphemed, while Christis unknown in a great part of the world, and where He is known, He is not loved? How can we be contented while the black Princeof Hell seeks to steal the crown rights of King Jesus? Contented and satisfied? Never! Until all over this, our highly-favoredland, Christ shall reign as Sovereign Lord! No, not then, nor till in every continent and island the nations of the wholeworld shall have heard the Gospel and vast multitudes have prostrated themselves at Messiah's feet in loyal and loving adoration!
Up, saints of God, from your resting places of inglorious sloth and begin to cry aloud, and spare not! Come to God's Thronewith a sacred spiritual hunger, for thus shall the Church of God be filled with good things! May God, in His Infinite Mercy,bless this message and HIS shall be the praise and Glory forever! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE 1:26-56.
Verses 26, 27. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virginespoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. It was by the temptation ofan evil angel that man fell and Paradise was lost. It was, therefore, most appropriate that good angels should be sent toannounce the coming of the Restorer, through whom Paradise is regained. "Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee,named Nazareth." Christ's coming to earth must be announced in the lowliest of cities and He must be born in the small Judeantown of Bethlehem. But it was also decreed that He must die at Jerusalem-in the metropolitan city. Mark the simplicity, andyet the sublimity of the arrangement by which the meek and lowly Savior was to be born in our nature. The angel Gabriel wassent from God to a virgin, whose name was Mary.
28, 29. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, you that are highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed are youamong women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this was.The best of news may sometimes cause the greatest trouble of mind and heart. If you feel troubled when you receive a messagefrom God, do not be astonished, as though some strange thing had happened to you. See how Mary, who was told that she wasto receive the greatest honor and favor possible to a mortal being, was troubled by the angel's speech, perplexed by his extraordinarysalutation.
30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. If we have found favor with God, thereis no cause for us to fear. If God is gracious to us, we are raised above all reason for alarm. Some court the fickle favorof men but even if they gain it, they may well fear that they may shortly lose it. But the angel said, "Fear not, Mary: foryou have found favor with God." And having found that favor, she would never lose it.
31, 32. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He shall be greatHow true is that prophecy-"He shall be great." Christ is the greatest of all great ones. How great He is in our esteem! Thetongues of men and of angels could not tell all His greatness! "He shall be great."
32-37. And shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the Throne of His father David: andHe shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, Howshall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, andthe power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy Thing which shall be born of you shall be called theSon of God. And, behold, your cousin Elizabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month withher, who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible. It seemed meet that the Gospel dispensation should thusbegin with two great wonders. The age of wonders has opened upon us now that the day of Grace has dawned. Now shall the barrenwoman keep house and be the joyful mother of children according to the ancient prophecy.
38. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word. Oh, that we all had such a spiritof submission as she had, that we might be willing to place ourselves absolutely at God's disposal, for Him to do with usas He pleased!
38. And the angel of the Lord departed from her. His mission was accomplished, so he might go back to the Glory from whichhe had come at God's command.
39-43. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah and entered into thehouse of Zachariah, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babeleaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessedare you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord shouldcome to me The most gracious people are always the most humble people. This question of Elizabeth, "Why is this granted tome?" has been one that we have often put concerning ourselves. She was the older woman of the two, but she felt herself highlyhonored by this visit from her younger relative whom the Lord had so wondrously favored. It is well when Christian peoplehave a high regard for one another and think less of themselves than they do of others whom God has especially favored. Itis one of the traits in the character of God's true people that they have this mind in them-while they who think themselvesgreat prove that they are not the Lord's. If you think much of yourself, He thinks little of you.
44, 45. For, lo, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessedis she that believed. Not only Mary, who believed the angel's message, and was, therefore, blessed, but everyone of us whobelieves in God may share in this benediction!
45, 46. For there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said. This humble Jewishmaiden was a woman of great natural ability. This song of hers is worthy to be sung throughout all ages. It is true that itis mainly taken from the song of Hannah and other songs of devout persons in former ages, but this shows how Mary had studiedthe Word of God and laid it up in her heart. The best preparation that you young people can have for the highest honor andservice in your future life is to bathe frequently in the Word of God and to perfume your whole life by a familiar and accurateacquaintance with Scripture Truths. Nothing else can make you so pure, or so prepared for all service which God may yet havefor you to perform.
46. My soul does magnify the Lord. That is a good beginning. Mary does not magnify herself in her Magnificat, she has nothingto say concerning her own dignity, though she was of a noble lineage. But she sang, "My soul does magnify the Lord."
47. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. She needed a Savior as much as we do, for she was a sinner like ourselves.And though she was blessed among women, she here indicates that she owed all that blessedness to the Grace of God, who hadbecome a Savior to her, as well as to us.
48. For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. The family from which Mary sprang had become poor and she dweltin lowliness at Nazareth.
48, 49. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty has done to me great things;and holy is His name. She was indeed a blessed woman to have such holy thoughts, such reverence for God, such a true ideaof His might and majesty-and of the marvelous favor which He had shown to her.
50. And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. Remember this, it was not mercy to Mary only-itwas mercy to us, and mercy to all who truly trust the Savior in whom she trusted!
51. He has showed strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. Sometimes we readof God's "finger." That refers to a part of His great power. At other times, we read of His "hand." That is a more brilliantdisplay of His power. But here, as elsewhere, we read of His "arm." This is the majesty of His Omnipotence. Pharaoh's magicianstold the king that it was the finger of God that worked the plagues of Egypt, but it was with His outstretched arm that Hedivided the Red Sea and overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts. Mary felt that in the work of salvation we see God's arm-not merelyHis finger, or His hand.
52. He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. This is what God is constantly doing-castingdown the high and mighty ones and lifting up the meek and lowly!
53. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He has sent away empty. They who are self-satisfied shall sooneror later be cast out, but those who look to God, alone, and are hungry after Him, shall be satisfied with His favor.
54-56. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seedforever. And Mary abode with her about three months and returned to her own house.