Sermon 3520. Jerusalem the Guilty
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JULY 13, 1916.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"It cannot be that a Prophet should perish out of Jerusalem." Luke 13:33.
I CAN scarcely tell you under what singular feelings I am led to adopt this text. It has entered my mind, whispered in myears and I might almost say, it has haunted my thoughts, for all the day long has it been fresh in my memory, and again andagain it has recurred to me in the night watches. There is no comfort that I can extract from the meditation, and not muchinstruction that I can deduce from the oracular sentence. Conscience, however, lays on me a strong constraint. Any portionfrom the Word of God that comes forcibly home to my own soul, I am prone to accept, as it were, in trust for your sakes. SoI aim to deliver unto you that which I also received. Be it void of comfort or charged with rebuke, God grant it may be acknowledgedto your profit and accepted to His praise!
"It cannot be that a Prophet should perish out of Jerusalem." Probably this was a proverb among the Jews which our Saviorused and endorsed. For many years Jerusalem had been stained with the blood of Prophets. These godly men might have livedsecurely in the rural districts of Judah and among her various towns and hamlets, and though sometimes annoyed, never exposedto violence-but so had the seat ofjudgment become the throne of iniquity that vengeance was reeked where justice should haveruled! Jerusalem, the metropolis of government, the center of religion and the priests, became notorious as the scene of judicialmurder and vindictive martyrdom! It had been, through a number of years, the place where one after another of God's servantshad been stoned and put to death. Our Savior seems to have felt that He was safe while in Herod's jurisdiction, but that whenHe got to Jerusalem, He was in imminent peril from conspirators-that there a baptism of blood awaited Him, when His life wouldbe sacrificed and He would become, as it were, the Prince of Martyrs-an offering of the noblest life, a shedding of the richestblood that ever was poured out on the altar at Jerusalem! It seems strange that Jerusalem should have sunk so low as to monopolizethe sin of murdering the Prophets-that it should have become renowned for persecution and vindictive cruelty-a city withinwhose walls God's servants might look in vain for shelter. Where popular feeling and the public courts were alike againstthem. Where summary indictment and certain conviction were sure to be their lot! "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You that stonethe Prophets and kill them who are sent to you!"
From generation to generation had they thus framed mischief and done violence-until our Lord accuses and holds them guiltyof the slaughter of His servants from "the blood of righteous Abel unto that of Zacharias, the son of Bara-chias, whom theyslew between the Temple and the altar." What a fearful contrast this presents to the name that Jerusalem had received, andthe position that had been assigned to her! Was she not called Jerusalem, the place of righteousness and of peace? Her bardshad praised her in glowing sonnets as, "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth." How did the Psalmist draw lively,lovely images of her security, surrounded by mountains that served as natural fortresses to protect her! And did he not evenpicture the little hills that environed her as companions of the mountain on which the Temple stood? "Why leap you so, youhigh hills? This is the hill which God delights to dwell in." Where else did acceptable sacrifices smoke? As for the altarsof the high places, they were an abomination to the Lord! The one altar at Jerusalem God had ordained for acceptable sacrifice.There the tribes came up to worship. It was the meeting place and rallying point of all the families of Israel at their annualfestivals-
"Unto her gates, with joys unknown
Did Judah's tribes repair.
The Son of David held His throne
And sat in judgment there."
Her mountain was illustrious in history. It was on one of her pinnacles that Abraham drew the knife to slay his son! And onthe spot where the plague was stopped in David's day when the outstretched hand of the angel was arrested at the threshingfloor of Araunah, the Jebusite, was built, stone by stone, the Temple where God delighted to dwell! It was the source fromwhere light went streaming through the land as from the sun, and at the same time it was the great lake into which the riversof sacred prayer and praise constantly flowed, gleaming in their fullness! Oh, Jerusalem, your very name was dear to the captivesas they sat mournfully down by Babylon's streams and wept, saying, one with another, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let myright hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I prefer not Jerusalemabove my chief joys." You seem so fair a city, so perfect a chrysolite! Your halls seem so truly made of agate, and your gatesof carbuncle that in your glory we see a type of the abode of the saints of God-
"Jerusalem, my happy home! Name ever dear to me. When shall my labors have an end, In joy, and peace, and thee?"
And has it come to this? Well, then, might the Savior, whom you did despise and reject, weep over you! Jerusalem! Jerusalem!Has it come to this? "You kill the Prophets and stone them that are sent to you." Has it come to this? No marvel that yourhouse is left unto you desolate, that the holy city is given up to the abomination of desolation, and is left to be troddenunder foot by the Gentiles! Has it come to this? Oh, horror of horrors! What sorrows are too sad and heart-rending to followat the heels of sin! Look, my Brothers and Sisters-that same sin which once cast down Lucifer from his throne, degraded himfrom the royalties of Heaven and doomed him to the Pit that burns with fire and brimstone forever-that same sin has pluckedthis pearl from the regal diadem of the King of Kings, subjected it to the direst dishonor and made it a byword in the earth!So is her beauty spoiled! So is her sacredness and such are the wages of sin, and such the recompense of transgressions! Asyou think of this city of the great king converted into a place of butchery and a shamble for Prophets, I would have you recollectthat-
I. THE LIKE RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION IS STILL INFLICTED WHEREVER SIN SEEKS SHELTER UNDER THE SOLEMN SANCTIONS OF A SOUNDING PROFESSION!
Now and then we are startled. Someone who had stood foremost among the saints has all of a sudden excited public gaze, conspicuousas a fiend. I remember such a man. He preached the Gospel and seemed to preach it with intense sincerity. At any rate, therewas such fervor in his manner that zeal seemed to animate his heart. His words moved many- souls were converted under hisministry, souls that shall make glad the angels of God throughout eternity! He comforted the saints and many disciples wererefreshed by his discourses. But in an evil hour he turned aside. His fall was precipitate. The sink was abysmal. Of drunkardshe became one of the worst! Of swearers the most profane! Among licentious the most lewd! No slave of Satan was ever morein earnest to destroy himself and to do his black master's bidding than that same man who once ministered at the altar ofGod and appeared to be a star in the right hand of Christ! And why may not such a collapse occur to me? And why may it notoccur to you, my Brother? Every man, it has well been said, has not a soul of crystal whereby other men can read his actions.You look fair. You seem to be a saint. Yet there may be a worm in the center of your fair plant after all! Sudden death oftensurprises those who appear to be in sound health, though slow disease has long been sapping the strength of their system.Be not deceived by appearances-make sure of your salvation! Jerusalem killed the Prophets. Maybe you will likewise belie yourpretensions to virtue. You have heard of a woman out of whom seven devils were cast. Did you never hear of one into whom sevendevils entered?
There she stands. Never woman seemed more pure! Never penitent wept more sparkling tears! Like another Mary Magdalene, shewashed her Savior's feet with her tears. Yes, she seems to sit at Jesus' feet and love Him with all her heart. Earnest inseason and out of season, we admire her. But the time of trial comes-that time which tests the metal whether it is gold ornot. She gives her heart to another than her Savior. Once led astray, no lips are more defiling than hers! No feet run moreswiftly in the way of the Destroyer. It happened unto her that she did in theory know the way of righteousness, but the gracefulnessof her profession was not the Grace of God in truth-so presently she turned aside, and she, who seemed to be a Hannah, turnedout to be a Jezebel! And she who once could sing, as we thought, the grateful song of Mary, must hence forever weep a dolefulMiserere!Take care, my Sister, that you are safely built upon the Rock of Ages! As Jerusalem killed the Prophets, so may you.I say so because I find it in God's Word.
Have we not too often seen instances of those who were regular outward attendants upon God's House who seemed to adorn theearthly courts and bid fair for Heaven? Who rejoiced continually in holy things with a full measure of assurance and ratherfrowned on some of the Brethren who were sometimes depressed and filled with doubt and fears-have not we seen you very Churchmembers become the victims of some darling sin, the prey of some base lust which has driven you like bullocks to the slaughter?"There is a sin unto death." Our eyes have seen the mischief! Our ears have listened to the tale! Our hearts have been painedby the recital hundreds of times! From my youth up I have felt indescribable terror when I heard of such an one who seemedto be a pillar in the Church moved from his place-"Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present evil world." When I haveheard of it, sometimes I have been ready to wail with the Prophet, "Howl, fir tree, for the cedar has fallen." Those who seemedbetter than ourselves, more gracious and far more gifted, have turned aside-and we have felt that it is only by a miracleof Grace we have not done the same-
"So stones hang in the air So sparks in ocean live, Kept alive with death so near, I to God the glory give."
Jerusalem killed the Prophets, and there is that secret wickedness in the hearts of every one of us that would have made usdo the same a thousand times-that would have turned us from saints into devils, if the constraining, preserving Grace of Godhad not defended us! Let us, then, humbly acknowledge all this. Let us carefully search ourselves to see whether we are inthe faith and then let us gratefully bless that mighty hand which, having begun its gracious work, will not leave us untilit has perfectly performed its purpose and fulfilled in us all the designs of love! Looked at thus, this passage conveys avery solemn warning. How terrible must be the deathbed of a man who, after having made a profession, and perhaps preachedthe Gospel, has become an apostate! Can we picture the siege of Jerusalem? I believe that all human rhetoric must fail inthe description and that if a painter dipped his brush in blood, he could not sketch the horrors of that awful time! If thosedays had not been shortened, surely the whole race had been swept away! There never was and never shall be until the LastTremendous Day, anything that can be paralleled with the destruction of Jerusalem under Vespasian and Titus! In like manner,there is nothing, I think, that can parallel-certainly nothing that can exceed-the horrors of the dying bed of an apostate.Did you ever read the story of Francis Spire, or of John Auld, in the days of the last nonconforming reformation in England?If you ever read the stories of these deathbeds, they will ring in your ears at night, and make you cry out, "O God, if Iam damned, let it not be as an apostate! If I must perish, yet let me not perish as one who, like a dog, returns to his vomit,or like a sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire." Jerusalem stoned the Prophets! You young men who are just puttingon your harness, boast not as though you were taking it off!
Beginners in the way of Grace, it is a great and solemn Truth of God that every child of God will hold on until the end, butit is an equally solemn Truth that many who profess to be the Lord's are self-deceivers and will turn out apostates afterall! They will go back to the beggarly elements from which they appear to have escaped and begin to stone the Prophets, whomonce they professed to reverence and love! How dreadful their doom! To see the Lord when fire blazes before Him, and the cloudsform a chariot beneath Him-when "He shall come, but not the same as once in lowliness He came"-when He shall appear in rainbowwreath and clouds of storm, how dreadful will it be to those who turned their backs upon Him! In vain shall they call uponthe mountains and rocks to cover them! They must face Him whom they deserted. They must be arraigned before Him whom theytreacherously betrayed. Oh, how they will fall in speechless, helpless, hopeless dismay before Him! And oh, how He will trampleon them in His anger because they trampled on His blood in their treachery and crucified to themselves the Lord of Life afresh!God save us from their eternal woes, for of all bitter remorse and fell despair, theirs must be the most tormenting! The privilegesthey enjoyed aggravate the perdition in which they are engulfed. Down from Heaven's gates they are thrust into Hell by theback door! Their faces, once towards Jerusalem the Golden, now confront the accursed Gehenna! Far from the rayless, pathlessoutlook with which they bid farewell to mortal life to the dire reality of their dreaded doom they are launched forth, "wanderingstars, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." Such are trees without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by theroots! Such are raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame! "God deliver us from their character and their conduct,lest we reap the consequence that is sure to close their career!" Now to draw a fresh lesson, let me remind you of-
II. THE UTTER USELESSNESS OF OUTWARD PRIVILEGES UNLESS THERE IS INWARD PURITY.
Never was a city more richly endowed or more highly privileged than was Jerusalem of old. As we have already said, it wasthe city of the great king. There all the festivals were held. Her priests were her pride. The anointed ministers of the altarthronged her streets, numerous as the flowers which bedeck the meadows in spring. There you might have heard the voice ofsacred song every hour in the day! Within her gates the ritual of religion was observed with almost perpetual celebrations.All that was comely, sacred and holy seemed to have an exclusive abode within her precincts. Yet for all that, these peoplewere not a whit the better. They had a baneful monopoly that they shamefully coveted-a monopoly of killing the Prophets andof stoning those whom God sent to them! The means of Grace were evidently not blessed to them.
How plainly this shows the possibility of retaining sin, unsubdued and unchecked, notwithstanding all the righteousness thatis taught in precepts, and all the Divine Grace that is exhibited in ordinances! Are there not regular attendants here who,though they mingle with the Church, join in the hymns of praise and listen to the words of exhortation, are as corrupt intheir character and their conversation as if they went nowhere? Sit there not in these pews those who are as covetous, asbad tempered and, in some cases, as licentious as if they never entered a place worship at all? For them our most earnestrebukes, invitations and warnings are ineffective as the roaring of the wild waves of the sea, or the ringing of bells ina church tower-they produce no sort of moral or spiritual result! I speak solemnly of individuals, not censoriously of systems,when I affirm, without particularizing any denomination, because the same is true among ourselves! I know there are thousandswho go to church and believe because they have conformed, more or less, to religious customs and observed the sacraments,all seems well with them-but neither Doctrine nor discipline of Christians exert the slightest influence upon their heartsor their lives! Their temper is as fiery or as morose. Their greed for the world just as inordinate. Their vanity and fondnessof display quite as unseemly and the petty vices of a degraded mind as freely indulged as if they ranked themselves amongthe profane! They have all the outward signs of religion, but they have not a particle of vital godliness!
I remember a time when people wore rings round their fingers to cure their bones of rheumatism. It may have done them somegood, though I doubt it! But that outward forms of religion can be of any use to purge the heart, or sanctify the soul, Iutterly disbelieve! What does it matter whether you go to church or not? Whether you use a prayer book or a hymnal or not,or whether you bend your knee morning and evening or not, if these things have no effect upon you-if you walk after the fleshand not after the Spirit? You may as well leave off these religious fashions, though it may seem rather bold to say so. Iwould rather you put off every sham because then you would know where and what you are! Religious pretence only deceives othersand fools yourselves. We always talk about England as a Christian country. We are wrong! It is not a Christian, it is a heathencountry! There are some Christians in it, thank God! But the country is not a Christian country. The Metropolis is not Christian.London, herself, is a heathen city. Vice and violence, lewdness and licentiousness are as ripe in her as they are in Parisor Vienna, Calcutta or Bombay! You need not go far afield-take the nearest court, or the blind alley that leads out of themain street, or go into some of the great houses at the West End and you will see in them such awful abominations as mightconvince you that their frequenters say, in their heart, there is no God, or, if they worshipped a deity, it was Buddha orVishnu! Count the churches, count the chapels, take account of the mission stations-sum up all the outward privileges andmark the condition! In the teeth of them all, we may say sin is growing more rampant! The more religion, the more sin, ifit is a religion of outward rites without the power of godliness! Jerusalem was the worst of cities and yet the most religious.It was the most profane because it was the most sanctimonious-its piety being a mere empty profession. In no other city wasthere so much lip-service, cringing and bowing. In offering oblations and burning incense, she was pre-eminent! Still, noother city had such a reputation for stoning the Prophets!
And it may be that your real character may be as little in keeping with your pretensions. You may have prayers every morningand Bible readings every day. You may resort to sacraments, practice genuflections, observe festivals and make pilgrimages-allto no purpose! Your seeming sanctity may be only a mask, covering up folly and vice. The balance is on the wrong side. Yourcreed has aggravated your crimes! Your religion has precipitated your ruin. The tag-raggery of vestments and ceremonies arebut the histrionics of religion in which amateurs delight! All their mystery and pomp are mere stage play. No benefit whatevercan you derive from such principles or such performances. All the trust you put in them must entail miserable disappointments-itmay involve you in desperate consequences! No lies can be harmless!
Self-deception must be deadly! Lend me your eyes and I will show you the worst man in Jerusalem. What? Do you think that Iam going to point out that tax-gatherer? By no means! He is a scoundrel, I admit. He exacted three times as much as he oughtof that poor widow, and drained her resources. No doubt he is a real bad fellow, but I know a worse. Go knock at the doorof yon affluent rabbi-you cannot be admitted just yet. Ask the servant where his master is. He will tell you that he is atprayers. He will not be at liberty for three-quarters of an hour at least. You must wait, I suppose, until this gentlemanhas finished his devotions. After a while he condescends to put in an appearance. You look at him with surprise. Whateveris that remarkable feature on his forehead? You might fancy he must have fallen down and bruised himself, and put a pieceof plaster on his forehead. Oh, no-that little box on his forehead is inscribed with texts of Scripture! A Bible precept supplieshim with a bold pretext-"You shall bind them for a frontal between your eyes." So, like a fool, taking the sound and leavingthe sense, he has inserted a series of texts into a box and tied it on to his head! And, oh, what a deep fringe he has tohis robe! It is half as long as his robe. What is that for? Because he is told to have a border to his garment and so he hasit broad-half an inch would have done, but he has it seven inches at least! He cannot do anything in moderation as it shouldbe done. He must carry everything to an extreme. If you wish to speak to this gentleman, you find he really cannot attendto you because he is just going up to the Temple-he has a little account to pay there. He shows it to you. Of course, he sayshe likes to show it. You can see how precise he is. It is a farthing- and an eighth part of it is for mint he has been using.He is very careful about tiny matters. Before he goes to pay that, he tells the servant to mind and strain out all the gnats,lest he should swallow any unclean animal when he drinks his wine. Follow him up to the Temple and you will observe him standingby himself. He is saying, "God, I thank You that I am not as other men are." It is rude, perhaps, to pry into his privatedoings, but as he is gone out, just let us take a look into this little sanctum and see his accounts. We begin to look atthem and we must be quick, for fear he should come and catch us. Look at this entry, "Half a dozen widows' houses devouredlast week." Go on and you will see all sorts of bad things that he has been doing. He would not have been such an atrociousvillain had it not been for his religion! He wraps that about him as a cloak and it prevents his seeing what a great sinnerhe is. Perhaps if he did not practice so much piety, he might be shocked at his lack of morality. As Jesus said to the Pharisees,"If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say you see-therefore, your sin remains."
This man pretends to be a saint, but he proves to be a devil! His soaring profession aggravates his heartless infamy. Surely,I think, this example falls fairly within the scope of my text. Jerusalem, as a locality, the center of devoutness, becamethe cesspool of corruption! If you have the cherubim without the Shekinah. If you have the sacred symbols without the sanctifyingSpirit. If you have the sound creed without the lively faith. If you have Gospel in the pulpit without Grace in the heart.If you have Protestant Christianity without a precious Christ, then the decadence of your religion will lead to the demoralizingof your character! The mere possession of the outward means of Grace may have no better effect than that of making men worse.Yet it entails a very solemn responsibility. No man can sin after he has received the Light of God from above, so cheaplyas he does who commits his transgressions in the dark. When you are warned, and entreated, and begged to turn from the errorof your ways-should you still pursue them, "Being often warned, and hardening your neck," the sentence is, "you shall be suddenlydestroyed, and that without remedy." I believe some hyper-Calvinists raise an objection to the responsibility of man whilehearing the Gospel. And there are several other things to which they likewise object, but I hope we shall always accept thetestimony of God's Word without distorting it, whether it is agreeable or distasteful to us. As for me, I have braved thesneer of men because I feared the frown of my Lord. But now they are dead that troubled me and it is not likely that I shallcease to speak of unbelief as other than a grievous sin, a capital crime and an aggravation of all other transgressions! TheGospel is either a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death to everyone of you who hears it. If it is not a stone ofhelp, it will become a stone of stumbling. You will either fall upon it and be broken, or it will fall upon you and grindyou to powder! Beware, you that hear the Gospel and trifle with it, lest it be said unto you, "Behold, you despisers, andwonder, and perish."
I believe that throughout eternity the punishment of the guilty will be aggravated forever by the privileges against whichthey have persisted in sinning. To sink into perdition from the shadow of the Gospel is possible. To go down with warningsof judgment and wooing of mercy sounding in one's ears is suicidal! To leap into the Pit headfirst and to find out the deepestdepths of dire despair is dreadful beyond description! To think of it conjures up thoughts from which we recoil. Oh, callit not a fatal mistake, for it is a foul crime! The heathen, who never heard of Christ, cannot accuse them-
selves of having wasted Sabbaths and rejected a Savior. But Sabbath after Sabbath you who have had the Gospel delivered inyour hearing-you will have to bear a reproach like this, "You knew the Gospel, but loved it not!" This shall be the perpetualworm that shall never die. There was a time when God called. He himself said it, "I called, but you refused; I stretched outMy hand, and no man regarded it; therefore, I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear comes." In likemanner Jesus says, "Woe unto you, Chorazin; woe unto you, Bethsaida; it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah inthe day of judgment than for you." The privilege in each instance clenches the responsibility. Oh, may this solemn Truth ofGod abide with each of us!
Now let me, in closing, give a slightly different tone to our meditation. We have seen that Jerusalem had a monopoly of onesin-she killed the Prophets.
III. THERE ARE SINS WHICH GOD'S PEOPLE, HIS REAL PEOPLE, TRUE AND GENUINE SAINTS, MAY BE CHARGED WITH-no, of which they mayaccuse themselves, as exclusively their own! Possibly the very mention of them may lead us to repent and bring us back, again,humbly and penitently to the foot of the Cross that we may accept with the more gratitude the full Atonement which our Saviormade. You and I are, dear Friends, the children of God in a sense in which other men are not-we are part of His great family.Being regenerated and adopted, we have received the nature of children and been put into their status. Other men are but subjectsunder His Law-we are sons and daughters. No servant can sin as a child can. A servant and a son may both be guilty of thesame offense, but there is a difference in the degree of guilt, because of the relationship. A father may well say, "My servantought not to have done this-he has offended me. But as for you, my own child, my beloved, you have grieved me to my heart,for you have sinned against a father's love as well as against a father's authority. You are bound to me by ties so closethat you ought to have been more scrupulous. I can understand a servant injuring my property or my reputation, but to my child,both of these should be very dear." There seems to me to be a baseness about the ingratitude of a child with which the unkindnessof a friend will not compare. Sharper than an adder's tooth is the conduct of a thankless child, because he is a child. Ido not think it is possible for anyone not related to break and wound a mother's heart as her own child can. You Christianscan easily apply this reflection to yourselves. There is a peculiar wickedness about your sin. In the judgment of others itis the same, but in your own judgment, if you think of your heavenly Father and your nearness to Him, it will seem to be farworse. Dear Friend, remember you are not only a child, but sometimes you rejoice to think that you are Christ's spouse! Now,one's spouse lies very near one's heart. Another person may say something against me, and I might pass it over. A remark which,coming from a stranger, or even from a friend, we might slight, but did it come from one's own spouse, it would cut deep intothe very soul! You would say, "It was not an enemy. Then I could have borne it. But it was you- you who rests in my bosomand enjoys my perfect confidence-you have lifted up your heel against me." Say, then, child of God, do you not see that yoursins may have a peculiar heinousness about them? Them may be a stoning of Prophets, and a crucifying of Christ in your misdeeds!Although still favored as a bride, never to be divorced, your crime is bitter and to be repented of bitterly.
There is one sin which has often oppressed my heart, and I dare say it has yours. We grow cold in love to our Savior. Someof you do not love your Savior with the same warmth and devotedness you did at first. There may be those among you who pleadnot guilty. I wish most of you could, but, alas, how many of you have to look back upon former days and say, "O that it werewith me as in the days that are past!" More cause you have for loving Him-more coals have been put on the fire, but yet itis less hot and burns less brightly! More stones have been thrown on the marker and yet it is smaller than it was at first!Oh, strange it is-we sometimes even almost wonder to see it-that some who since they first came to Christ and rested onlyon Him, have had many gifts and Graces vouchsafed to them-have almost put them in the place of Him who gave them! Master Brookessays, "Suppose a loving husband were to hang his wife's ears with earrings, and put jewels about her neck, and rings uponher fingers-and she got so fond of all these pretty things that she forgot her husband? It would be a sad thing if love tokensshould make us forget the hand that gave them." This case is just like ours-we begin looking at our own good works and Gracesand get to be so pleased that we forget from whom they came-and look upon them as our own! Whereas there is no luster in themexcept that which is reflected-and we shall soon lose even the reflection if we get contented with them. We must look to Christ,and Him alone! Shame on us Christians that we should be thus remiss and negligent of our deepest, most tender obligations!This is a vice to which even the heathen are not prone.
Do you ever hear of a nation forsaking its gods? Well might the Prophet expostulate, since no other nation forsook its gods,yet Israel forsook hers! Worldly men do not forsake their pursuits with the indifference that you forsake yours. They growmore and more enamored of the flaunting charms of that woman Jezebel, the world, while our hearts, alas, are often forgetfulof our fair, infinitely fair, Lord Jesus, and go rambling abroad with some other love! This is a sin which none but Christianscommit! And what shall I say of the doubts we cast upon the faithfulness of God, after having proved it so conspicuously?No unconverted person can have proved it as we have done. There are promises of which anyone, especially the stranger withinour gates, might have availed himself. The world, however, discredits sheer worth. But some of you have gone to the Throneof Grace with pleas based on promises not once only-perhaps if I should say you have gone hundreds and thousands of times,I should not exceed the number of proofs you have made of the Divine faithfulness! Fifty years have transpired since someof you came to the Lord, and you never found Him slack. He never dishonored His own Word-He has been faithful and true inthe midst of all that was fleeting and transient. Yet your heart flutters and your lips murmur when a fresh trial arises.How can you be so distrustful, so provoking? Airy says, "If there is a God, if prayer can prevail, if there is any kind ofpiety that is not a baseless presumption-all these are moot questions with the men of this generation." But you know thereis a God! You know He hears prayer! You know He honors obedience and fulfils every tittle He has spoken! Why should you everharbor a doubt, or cherish a misgiving? Is it not monstrous? Doubt, now? What fresh pledge, what further guarantee can yourequire? Do strive earnestly. Do pray constantly that this accursed unbelief may be cast out of you! Are you not heirs ofHeaven? Are you not looking for and waiting for the coming of the Son of God? Shall your faith be steadfast as to the goal,and yet in suspense as to the journey?
With such seed thoughts have I ruminated on my text, "It cannot be that a Prophet should perish out of Jerusalem." Jerusalem!Your name suggests to me all that is beautiful for situation, and all that is precious for privileges-and yet I tremble atyour history, for it is a record of mischief and misery! O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Rather had I sung your praise than rehearsedyour crimes! But, O God, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be alike acceptable to You! May such warningsbe as fruitful as any wooing in drawing reluctant hearts to right allegiance. This is my last word-Believe and live! Amen.