Sermon 3072. An Observation of the Preacher

(No. 3072)




"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." Ecclesiastes 7:8.

SOME translators read this passage, "Better is the end of a speech than the beginning thereof." And I doubt not that manyof my hearers quite concur in that opinion. You endeavor to be patient when we begin, but as soon as we utter the word, "finally,"your eyes begin to glisten, for the tedious exercise, you think, will soon be over! And if it is so to the hearers, I grantyou it is sometimes so to the speaker! A speaker s ometimes finds it difficult to begin, more difficult to continue to edification,not difficult to come to a close, but often exceedingly pleasant to do so. Well, doubtless many a young preacher can rememberwhen he first tried to speak-how much better he felt the end of the speech to be than the beginning! Like the young acrobat,walking upon a rope on high who tremblingly launches forth and timidly puts one foot after the other until he reaches theend of his dangerous task, he was relieved to sit down! Far better was the end of the speech than the beginning thereof.

I do not think that is a correct version, or a proper translation, but it is a great truth, for if a man should speak whatis mischievous, it is a good thing when he has done. It is better that he should have done with it than that he should becontinuing in his idle and dangerous talk. And if a man speaks well and is a good ambassador-and has good tidings to deliver-itis better that he should have delivered them and fulfilled his mission. Now you have advanced one stage. You have receiveda truth on which your souls can feed. And it is better to have received it, than not to have received it-and hence the endis better than the beginning.

I think we must take the text as it stands with a grain or two of salt. It is relatively rather than absolutely true. "Betteris the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." That is true, or we would not find it in Scripture. But the applicationof its truth is particular, not universal. There are some things which are worse in their ending than in their beginning.It is true, I believe, of all things which proceed according to God's order, when God begins them and God ends them, or whenthey are begun by God's direction, conducted in God's fear and ended in God's Presence. In such cases I say the end is betterthan the beginning-but the text must not be taken to be absolutely and indiscriminately true in all cases. With a grain ortwo of salt, however, I think it is a maxim worthy of Solomon.

"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." Some pictures in nature will illustrate this. We compare the beginningand the end. The sower goes forth on a damp and drizzling morning with his handful of precious seed which he is loath to spare.And as he scatters it, the rough wind blows into his face and the frost bites his cheek and, literally, it may be said thathe "sows in tears." The beginning, therefore, is by no means pleasant. Then comes the harvest home, with the songs and dancesof smiling damsels and joyous swains, when the produce of the fields is safely housed-that is the end thereof. I think thateveryone can see that the harvest is better than the seedtime! Or a man starts forth upon a long journey. He takes a staffin his hand. He prepares himself to climb yonder crags. The storm will come on, but he must press through it. There will bebrooks swollen with the rains, but he must pass through them all. Summoning courage to his aid, he surmounts every obstacle.He comes in all flushed with the healthy exercise. He has climbed yonder crags, he has passed through the brooks, he has bravedthe storm and now he comes to the blazing fire to sit down and rest himself, for the journey is over. "Better," says the traveler,"is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof. Toil came but now toil is sweetened, for I look back upon it and can takemy rest." Or see the good ship as the dock gates are opened and she is drawn out into the river. Flags are flying and everyonecheers those who are about to

make a venturesome voyage to the East Indies. See her, however, coming back up the river, well loaded, going into dock-andask the captain, who remembers the rough weather as he passed the Cape, and the storm just as he came off the Peninsula-andhe will tell you that he likes coming up the river much better than going down! Coming home with his ship well freighted,after a prosperous voyage, he says, with thanks to God, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."

One more picture. An army of soldiers goes forth to war. Can you look upon them with pleasure? I know that you crowd the streetsand shout as they march down your thoroughfares and, truly, it is a thrilling sight to see the stalwart heroes as they goforth to fight their country's battles. But when you think of the number of those brave men who may lie dead on the battleground,and how few may ever return, I am sure, to say the least, it is not a pleasant sight. But when those brave men who have escapedthe storm and crash of battle return to their native land and again pass through the streets, they feel, if the spectatorsdo not, that better is the end of war than the beginning thereof! Someone once said he thought there was never a good warand never a bad peace. And I believe to a very great extent he was right. Peace is of itself an inestimable blessing, andwar in itself, whether just or unjust, is a most terrific scourge. So whether you see the sower in the field, or the travelerstarting on his journey, or the voyager launching upon the deep, or the warrior going forth to the fight-you are ready tothink that, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." I have given you these four pictures because I shallwant to use them as I turn from natural things to more spiritual things.

I. Let me use this general principle tonight, in the first place, TO SOOTHE YOUR REGRETS.

This year has all but gone. 1864, then, must soon be numbered with the things that were. Perhaps someone says, "Would to Godthat I had this year to live over again! I have missed many opportunities of doing good or, when I have availed myself ofthem, I have not served my God as I could have desired. I have another year less in which to serve the Church, the world andmy God. I have spent another of my talents and have so much fewer to put out to usury for my Lord and Master." Now, do notregret, dear Friend, that the year has passed. It should rather be to you, if you are a believer in Christ, a subject forcongratulation! Would you wish to have the year over again, when in sober silence you meditate upon the subject? You havehad some sorrows this year. You are like the sailor I spoke of just now-you have passed through some storms. Weather-beatenmariner, would you like to have the storms of this year over again? Do you remember that dreadful night when the ship wasdriven so fearfully by the tempest, or the time when you were cast upon the rocks-and would you like to endure the same again?I see you shake your head and say, "No! Thank God we weathered that storm, but we don't want it again." And, Christians, asyou think of the losses, crosses, sufferings and bereavements which you have had during this year, can you feel any regretsthat it is gone? Must not each one of you say, "I thank God that stormy voyage is over and I have not those tempests to endure"?

How many snares have you escaped during the past year? In looking back, must you not observe that your feet have sometimesalmost gone and your steps have well-near slipped? There have been times when sin had almost tripped you up, when the worldhad almost taken you in its trap and when the devil had all but wounded you in a mortal part. You are like a sailor who remembersthe rocks by which he has sailed and the quicksands from which he has escaped. Would you wish to run such risks again? Doyou wish, sailor, to go again over the bar at such a low tide, or to be drifted so unpleasantly near that rock as almost tograte against it? "No," he says, "having escaped those dangers, I am thankful that they are over and have no wish to havethem over again." And are you not grateful, Christian, that another year of temptation has gone forever and that the arrowsthat Satan has shot at you this year, he can shoot at you no more? Those sword-cuts we received which threatened to be mortal,we shall never have to dread again! They are gone and when I say they are gone, it is implied that their mischief and theirpower to hurt are gone forever.

But there is another side to this matter. What a multitude of mercies you have enjoyed this year! How good God has been tous!-

"When all Your mercies, O my God, My rising soul surveys- Transported with the view, I'm lost In wonder, love and praise."

Those of us who have traveled in Switzerland, or in other countries where the views are glorious to look upon, would not wishthat we had never seen them. On the contrary, we are glad that our eyes have feasted on those sunny prospects. And you, too,Christian, cannot regret that you have seen God's mercies, but you will thank God that it has been your

privilege to have enjoyed such favors. There is another reason, then, why you should not regret that the year has passed.I address myself to some who are growing gray. I know there is a tendency in your minds to regret that so many years havegone, but, my dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, if you should do so, I think you would be guilty of a folly unworthyof a Believer with such a long experience! Take John Bunyan's picture of the Christian's progress. He describes Christianas starting on his pilgrimage to the Celestial City with a burden on his back that pressed him down, wringing his hands forfear and running because he is afraid that he will be destroyed in the City of Destruction. He has not gone a day's journeybefore he is up to his neck in the Slough of Despond and floundering in the mire! This is the beginning of the pilgrimage,but look at the end-he has come to the river, he dips his foot into it and though it is chill and cold, it does not stop him.When he gets midway in the river, how does Bunyan picture him? The angels beckon him from the other side-those very angelswhose voices he had heard ringing clear and sweet across the stream when he wandered in the groves of Beulah and sat amongthe spices there. And now he reaches the bank on the other side and, leaving his sins, his doubts, his infirmities and hismortality behind, his disembodied spirit goes up to the celestial land and angel attendants conduct him to the pearly gatesof the golden-paved city! Oh, infinitely better is the end of a spiritual life than the beginning! Contrast the Slough ofDespond with the Celestial City and human intellect cannot fail to see how much better, how infinitely better, the end isthan the beginning!

Take this picture as a further illustration of the same point-Moses at the beginning of his spiritual career is seen killingan Egyptian and burying him in the sand-just like a young Christian, full of zeal, but having little prudence. There is thebeginning of his public career. And now I think I see the old man of 120 years, firm of step, with an eye as clear and piercingas an eagle's, standing up to address the people whom he has carried, as nursing mother, in his arms! And, having done this,leaving Joshua, his familiar servant, and all others behind, he began to climb to the top of Pisgah. He has mounted to itsloftiest crag and, leaning over, he begins to take a full view of the Promised Land. He sees the palm trees of Jerusalem andZion, and his eyes linger on Bethlehem-he catches glimpses of the blue sea afar off, and the goodly land of Lebanon. And ashe looks, one scene melts into the other and he sees the face of God, for God, Himself, has come down and his spirit is takenaway with a kiss. As to his body, it is buried where no man knows-but as to his soul, it is with God forever! Truly, in thecase of Moses, better was the end than the beginning, and such shall be the spiritual end of every man of God who with thesimplicity and faith of Moses, can put his trust in God. I think this is sufficient to soothe all your regret! Instead ofbeing sorry that these years have passed, thank God for them and be glad.

II. I shall now use this general principle to endeavor to STOP YOUR FOREBODINGS.

It may be that many of you are in darkness-darkness which may be felt. You find it very difficult to accept the truth thatGod is a God of Love and One who cares for you. You are, however, only at the beginning-the beginning of the ways of Providence.Your poor faith is ready to be staggered by the sufferings you endure and unbelief prophesies ten thousand things to fillyour soul with doubts and alarms-but the end of all this shall be better than the beginning! Many Christians have more trialsin the earlier part of their spiritual life than they will ever have afterwards. "It, is good for a man that he bear the yokein his youth." You must not consider, because the sun is just now behind a cloud, that it will always be there. It was a littlechild who said when there was an eclipse, "Father, the sun is put out." It was only a child who said that-no man thought so.Let your riper experience correct the childishness of your unbelief. God only hides His face to show it more clearly, by-and-by.The end shall be better than the beginning. Have you not often seen a day which, early in the morning, was heavy with fogand rain? As it came on, we waited patiently and anxiously, for we wished for fine weather-but those incessant drops of rainstill fell. We looked to the wind quarter and to the rain quarter, we looked with hope and then with fear, but the drops fellunceasingly and there seemed to be no chance of intermission. And yet, before noon had come we had seen the sun shining brightlyand we have heard the birds singing more sweetly-and it has been fair weather after rain. Take that morning as a prophecyto your poor, doubting, troubled soul of what your path in life will yet be. You shall yet see that the end is better thanthe beginning.

Take one picture as an illustration and then I will leave this point. Poor Joseph has been slandered by his mistress. Hischaracter is under serious imputation. He is put into the round house by Potiphar-he is a prisoner and must have prisoner'sfare. And yet I think that Joseph had never sat upon the throne of Egypt if he had not been put into the dungeon. You must"stoop to conquer" and, like gold, you must be put in the burning coals that you may be refined. But

you shall soon come out and, like that gold, when you shall glitter with purity you shall know that "better is the end ofa thing than the beginning thereof."

III. And now let us use this simple statement of the text TO ENCOURAGE OUR FAITH.

The way of sense is to get everything now-the way of faith is to get everything in God's time. The worldly man lives on thepresent-the Christian lives on the future. It will always greatly strengthen faith if we, according to God's Word, look notso much at present appearances as at the issue of our lives which is to make amends for all the toils and disappointmentswe experience at the commencement of our career. So surely as God has called you to be a partaker of the Kingdom, you mustrenounce the pleasures of this present world. Look at your Lord and Master. Look at His beginning. "He was despised and rejectedof men; a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief." Remember Gethsemane's blood and sweat, and Gabbatha's terrible flagellation,and Golgotha's mount of doom? This is the beginning. Would you see the end?-

"The head that once was crowned with thorns, Is crowned with Glory now."

The mighty Victor drags death and Hell at His triumphant chariot wheels! He mounts His Father's Throne and amidst the acclamationsof men and angels, He sits down forever and all His enemies shall be made His footstool! This is the end, or rather, thisis the beginning of the end, for the splendors of the millennium, the Second Advent, and the eternal honors which shall becast at Jesus' feet, these are the end. How much better is the glorious end than the sorrowful beginning! "As He Is, so arewe, also, in this world." You must take the manger, or you shall never take the throne! You must have the Cross, or you shallnever wear the crown! You must be despised and rejected, or you shall never be accepted and crowned! You must wade throughthe mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement! Cheer up, then, poor Christian! Let this Truth of God be a stay toyour soul just now, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning


I will give you two illustrations and then leave this point. You see that creeping worm, how contemptible is its appearance!You wish to sweep it away-that is the beginning of the thing. You see that insect with gorgeous wings playing in the sunbeams,sipping at the flower bells and full of happiness and life-that is the end thereof. That worm, that caterpillar, that maggot,if you will, is you! And you are to be content with that until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death. But you cannottell what you shall be after death. All that we know is that when Christ shall appear, "we shall be like Him, for we shallsee Him as He is." Be content to be like He, a worm, a caterpillar in the beginning that, like He, you may be satisfied whenyou wake up in His present likeness!

Again, you see that rough-looking diamond-it is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. With much care he begins to turn it andto cut it on all sides It loses much-much that seemed to itself costly. Do you see it now? The king is to be crowned, thediadem is put upon the monarch's head with the trumpet's joyful sound. There is a glittering ray which flows from that diademand it comes from that very diamond which was cut just now by the lapidary. You, Christian, may venture to compare yourselfto such a diamond, for you are one of God's jewels. And this is the time of the cutting process. You must endure it. Be ofgood courage and murmur not. Let faith and patience do their perfect work. In the day when the crown shall be set upon thehead of "the King eternal, immortal, invisible," one ray of glory shall stream from you, for you shall be His! "You shallbe Mine," says the Lord, "in the day when I make up My jewels."

IV. Have patience with me, in the next place, while I use my text TO SUGGEST ACTION.

It is very clear that we cannot have an ending if we have not a beginning. However bright our end might be, we can never knowit experimentally unless we begin. The text therefore, suggests the question to each one of us, "Have I begun? Has God begunwith me?" The beginning may be dark and gloomy, but you can never have a bright ending without it. I know the beginning willinvolve the sacrifice of many pleasures and the giving up of friends-"pleasures" and "friends" so-called, but you cannot havean ending with the saints of God in Heaven unless you have a beginning with the poor and afflicted of His family on earth!I wonder whether there are some with whom God will begin now. It will be a blessed thing if He should begin with you, butit will be a far more blessed thing for you when He comes to the end. It. will be so blessed, if you should, tonight, be ledby the Holy Spirit to direct your eyes with faith to Christ that the very angels before the House of God shall have a merrierChristmas because of your conversion! [See Sermon #2791, Volume 48-a high day in

HEAVEN.] Can I be mistaken in that notion? Did not our Lord

Jesus Christ say, concerning the shepherd who had found his sheep which was lost. "When he comes home, he calls together hisfriends and neighbors," (who are they but the angels who are the friends and neighbors of Christ in Heaven?) "saying untothem, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in Heaven overone sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance." In Heaven they sing more andwith a more joyful song when sinners turn from the error of their ways. I wonder whether tonight will be a time for "beginning"with some of you? Oh, if the Spirit of God is now teaching you your sinnership, if you feel that you are lost and ruined,I have to remind you that on the Cross of Calvary, there hung a bleeding Savior and that-

"There is life for a look at the Crucified One"-

and the moment you glance at Him by faith, the good beginning comes to you! But, oh, it were vain for fancy to attempt todescribe the ending when the angel convoy shall bear your ransomed spirit upward to be beatified forever and to be full ofeternal life and joy in the Presence of Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior. May God begin thus with some of you tonight!

V. And now to close-THE TEXT SUGGESTS A MOST SOLEMN ENQUIRY and the enquiry for each one of us is this-If my life were tocome to an end tonight, would my end be better than my beginning? I said when I began that my text must have some salt withit-and here I must use the salt. There are some things that are best in the beginning and worst at the end. There is, yonder,the sinner's feast. Bring in the dishes. Fill the goblets with sparkling wine-drink deep and sing right merrily. The luteand the harp are there and the feasters stand up and shout and sing. But what is that I see? As the night wears away and themorning light streams in through the windows, "who has woe? Who has redness of the eyes?" Truly, the end of such feasts isworse than the beginning! And in that ward of foul disease where they seem to sweep together the rank refuse of what oncewas beauty, exceedingly fair to look upon, truly we learn the lesson that in some cases the end is worse than the beginning.Beware, you that go to the house of strange women, lest you find that the end thereof is infinitely worse than the beginning!Stop your feet before they enter there, lest you go like a bullock to the slaughter, or a fool to the stocks. And if thatone walk is so notoriously worse in the end than it is in the beginning, such, likewise, is every walk of sin. See the greedyman as he accumulates money! Look at the beginning of it-he puts out his money to interest and makes out his bonds. He takessecurity for debts and calls houses and streets after his name. And then see the end of it. The old man is haggard and wan.He cannot count his wealth, yet he fears he will die in the workhouse. And when he thinks, in those intervals when his sensescome back and he realizes his own self, it is always with the shuddering thought, "I must part with you, my treasures. I mustpart with you all and go back to my mother earth as naked as I came into it." So that, you see, there are times when the endingof a thing is a great deal worse than the beginning.

Someone will doubtless say, "I am not like these men. I am neither debauched nor avaricious." Well, I will take you at thebest. Here is your beginning-you are a respectable attendant at a place of worship-you go because others go, not because yourheart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next 20 or 30 years you will be spared to goon as you do now, professing religion as far as outward attendance upon the means of Grace will make a profession, but havingno heart in the matter. Shall I show you your end? Be hushed and silent, tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed ofsuch an one as yourself! Let us gaze upon him gently. Let us not disturb him. A clammy sweat is on his brow and he wakes upand cries, "O God, it is hard to die!" He says to his friends, "Did you send for my minister?... "Yes, he is coming." Theminister comes and the poor fellow says to him, "Sir, I fear that I am dying." "Have you any hope?" "I cannot say that I haveany. I shall have to stand before my God-oh, pray for me!" The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness and theway of salvation is for the ten thousandth time put before him. But before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. ShallI picture the scene further? I may put my finger upon those eyelids, for they will never see anything here again. But whereis the man and where are the man's true eyes? Christ said of the rich man, "In Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments."

And it is so with this man. But why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he got so accustomed to hear the Gospel thathis soul went to sleep under it! He cannot sleep now-"being in torments." There is no sleep in Hell. Oh, what a blessing sleepwould be if it could enter the habitation of the damned! Alas, if any of you should lift up your eyes there, what a sightyou will behold! Here, if you drop off to sleep and wake up in the Tabernacle, you see the faces of attentive listeners hearingwords of mercy-there, when first you lift up your eyes, you will gaze into visages more marred with pain than any you haveever seen before! And if you ask them the cause of their awful grief and why agony, as with a red-hot plowshare, has madesuch deep furrows in their cheeks, they will tell you that you need not ask them, for you will soon learn the reason yourself!I cannot picture it. Let the Savior's own Words tell you the terrible Truth of God-"The rich man cried and said, Father Abraham,have mercy on me and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented inthis flame." There is a frightful meaning in those words! May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah'swrath!-

"You sinners, seek His Grace,

Whose wrath you cannot bear!

Fly to the shelter of His Cross,

And find salvation there!"

Before this last Sabbath of the year closes, I pray that the Lord may come down in mercy and visit those who have not yetreceived Christ, that of them it may be truly said, "Better i s the end of this year than the beginning thereof." God grantit for Jesus' sake! Amen.


We have read this Psalm many times and have often felt it to be a photograph of our own spiritual experience, but we will,on this occasion, read it from one special point of view. Please notice that this Psalm is exceedingly full of the letter,"I." Cast your eye down the page and you will be struck with the number of times in which the first person singular appears.Well, then, let us read the Psalm with this view, and each of us for himself or herself say, "I," as the Psalmist did if theHoly Spirit shall enable us to do so.

Verse 1. I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. If this double declaration is true, it turnsthe reading of the Psalm into a devout spiritual exercise for each one of us who can rightly adopt the Psalmist's language.But can each one of us truthfully say, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You"? If I can honestly say, "I lovethe Lord," then I can give the reason for the love that is in me. It is because He has loved me with an everlasting love andbecause He has manifested that love, among many other ways, in hearing "my voice and my supplications."

2. Because He has inclined His ear unto me, therefore willI call upon Him as long as Ilive. "Whatever others may do or maynot do, I will call upon Him as long as I live, and I have a good reason for doing so, 'Because He has inclined His ear untome.' He has stooped from His Throne in Heaven to listen to my feeble voice. He has bowed Himself in His majesty to listento the appeal of my misery. I was brought down very low in my sorrow, but the Lord brought His ear down as low as my lips-'Hehas inclined His ear unto me' and because He has done that, therefore my heart is inclined unto Him and I will call upon Himas long as I live."

3. The sorrows of death compassed me."They formed a ring around me from which I could see no way of escape. I was like a woundedstag that is surrounded by fierce dogs."

3. And the pains of Hell got hold upon me. "The dogs of Hell had fixed their cruel teeth in my throat so that it seemed impossiblefor me to escape from them."

3. I found trouble and sorrow. "When I searched for something better, I only found still more trouble and sorrow. I had enoughof them without finding any more, but the more I looked for anything else, the more trouble and sorrow I found." This is avery graphic description of the state of heart in which some of us have been more than once. We have seen no way of escapingfrom it and we have been in great distress because we could not discover any way of alleviating our grief.

4. Then I called upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech You, deliver my soul. Do you remember, dear Friend, when youprayed such a prayer as that-short, sharp, sincere, pointed, personal, out of the depths of your soul? Then let your recollectionof that prayer have so gracious an influence upon your heart that in the remembrance of the past mercy, when the Lord heardand answered your supplication, you may find a well of present gratitude!

5. Gracious is thee LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful Listen to that blessed little sentence, those of you whoare full of sin, and who are therefore afraid that God will cast you away forever! "Our God is merciful."

6. The Lord preserves the simple: I was brought low and He helped me. There is here, first, a general Doctrine and then, thereis a particular proof and application of it. It is true, in a general sense, that the Lord preserves the simple-hearted oneswho have learned to trust in Him. But, in particular, you or I, if saved by His Grace, can say with the Psalmist, "I was broughtlow and He helped me." There is a little book of medicine [See Sermon #240, Volume 5-prayer

ANSWERED, LOVE NOURISHED.] which Mr. John Wesley brought out

and he put to some of the recipes, the word "Proved." He had evidently tried the medicine and proved it to be efficaciousin his own case. In a similar fashion, we can often put in the margin of our Bibles, concerning the Word of the Lord, "Proved."We have tried it and proved it-and therefore we also can personally say, "The Lord preserves the simple: I was brought low,and He helped me."

7. Return unto your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. Cannot we also, dear Brothers and Sistersin Christ, speak well of our God tonight? If any of us have been wandering at all from His Presence and so have lost the conscioussense of His love, let us come back to Him at once! We cannot be happy anywhere else. God has spoiled you and me, Beloved,for the world, so we must be happy in Him, for we can never be satisfied anywhere else. Only in our God can our joy be full.Come back then, my Soul, come back to your Lord! "Return unto your rest, O my soul; for the Lord has dealt bountifully withyou." He is your true Noah. You can find no real rest anywhere else- therefore return unto Him even as the dove flew backto the ark with weary wings after wandering over the wild waste of waters.

8. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. "I have had a trinity of deliverances-mysoul saved from eternal ruin, my eyes delivered from the greatest grief of all and my life saved from sinful stumbling! 'Youhave delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.'" This testimony is far in advance of thatgiven in Psalm 56:13 where David says, "You have delivered my soul from death: will not You deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk beforeGod in the light of the living?"

9. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. "I will not walk before some great man so as to seek to please him.I will not walk before my fellow Believers so as to be merely looking for their approbation. But, 'I will walk before theLord.'" This is the best way of living, so let it be yours and mine, Beloved. Let each of us say, "I will walk before theLord in the land of the living."

10. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted. I call your attention again to the repeated use of the word,"I." Three times in this one verse we have that little personal pronoun. And I want you, each one, to take this whole Psalmto yourself so far as it is suited to your case, to make an appeal of it while we are reading it. "I believed, therefore haveI spoken: I was greatly afflicted."

11. 12. I said in my haste, All men are liars. What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me?I expect thatwe have all of us said in our haste some things that we had better not have said. They may have been true, yet for all that,it was a pity that we uttered them. Yet I am glad that the Psalmist, although he said, "All men are liars," did not dwellupon that unpleasant truth, but speedily turned from unreliable man to his ever-reliable God. "What shall I render unto theLord for all His benefits toward me?" If all men are liars, if all earthly comforts fail us, if all human dependences disappointus-our God will not do so. Let us leave the broken cisterns without even grumbling at them, or having bitter feelings concerningthem. And let us turn to God and let this be the question put by each one of us, "What

shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?" [See Sermon #2758, Volume 47-"RETURN UNTO YOUR REST".] I suggest,dear Friends, that we, each of us, personally put this question to ourselves, "What shall I render unto the Lord? What canI do for Jesus? What can I give to God? What is there, at this particular time, that I can devise for the Glory of God inorder to manifest my love to Him?" Perhaps in this house, tonight, there may be the conception-perhaps the birth-of some highand noble enterprise for God. If this question shall be pressed home upon some ardent spirit here, there may be the firstthoughts, in this House of Prayer, of some far-reaching ministry which shall be a means of blessing to many lands throughall the ages that are yet to come. God grant that it may be so! What shall I, a young man just beginning life, render untothe Lord? What shall I, a man in the full strength of his manhood, render unto the Lord? What shall I-a man far advanced inyears, mature and ripe for Heaven, lume 53 7

and soon to be taken there-render unto the Lord? Whoever I am, let me make haste to answer the question, "What shall I renderunto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?" [See Sermon #910, Volume 16-overwhelming obligations.]

13, 14. I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I willpay my vows unto the LORD now in the presenceof all His people.There never was a better time than the present-and there never was better place than this for some holyresolve concerning consecrated service for the Master!

15. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. They are themselves at all times so precious to the Lordthat everything about them is very dear in His esteem-and they are never more precious than in their deaths. [See

Sermon #1036, Volume 18-PRECIOUS DEATHS.] We constantly have some

of the very choicest of the Lord's saints going Home to their Father. And when the Lord takes any of them Home to Himself,it becomes those of us who are left to try to do all the more for our God. Let some of us be baptized for the dead, let uspress forward to fill the gaps in the ranks of the armies of God and do all that lies in our power to win the victory forHis righteous cause!

16. O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, and the son of Your handmaid: You have loosed my bonds.Still readthis Psalm very personally-you especially who have had godly mothers. Say, "I am a born slave- born of one who was your slave,for I delight to use even such a hard name as that. I am God's servant, born of one of God's servants-'the son of Your handmaid.'"I like to remember that it was so in my own case and I can truthfully say to the Lord, "I am Your servant, and the son ofYour handmaid." "You have loosed my bonds," by making me to feel the bonds of your Grace. There is no liberty like completesubjection to God. The greatest freedom of thought is to think only God's thoughts-and the highest freedom of living is tolive according to the rule of holiness in the ways of the Most High.

17-19. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name ofthe Lord. I willpaymy vows unto theLORD now in the presence of all His people. In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise youthe LORD. And we do and will praise Him at this time and forever and ever.