Sermon 25. The Hope of Future Bliss
Delivered on Sabbath Evening, May 20, 1855, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At Exeter Hall, Strand.
"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."-Psalm 17:15.
IT WOULD be difficult to say to which the gospel owes most, to its friends or to its enemies. It is true, that by the helpof God, its friends have done much for it; they have preached it in foreign lands, they have dared death, they have laughedto scorn the terrors of the grave, they have ventured all things for Christ, and so have glorified the doctrine they believed;but the enemies of Christ, unwittingly, have done no little, for when they have persecuted Christ'sservants, they have scattered them abroad, so that they have gone everywhere preaching the Word; yea, when they have trampledupon the gospel, like a certain herb we read of in medicine, it hath grown all the faster: and if we refer to the pages ofsacred writ how very many precious portions of it do we owe, under God, to the enemies of the cross of Christ! Jesus Christwould never have preached many of his discourses had not his foes compelled him to answer them; had they not broughtobjections, we should not have heard the sweet sentences in which he replied. So with the book of Psalms: had not Davidbeen sorely tried by enemies, had not the foemen shot their arrows at him, had they not attempted to malign and blast hischaracter, had they not deeply distressed him, and made him cry out in misery, we should have missed many of those preciousexperimental utterances we here find, much of that holy song which he penned after his deliverance, and very much of thatgloriousstatement of his trust in the infallible God. We should have lost all this, had it not been wrung from him by the ironhand of anguish. Had it not been for David's enemies, he would not have penned his Psalms; but when hunted like a partridgeon the mountains, when driven like the timid roe before the hunter's dogs, he waited for awhile, bathed his sides in the brooksof Siloa, and panting on the hill-top a little, he breathed the air of heaven and stood and rested his weary limbs. Then wasitthat he gave honour to God, then he shouted aloud to that mighty Jehovah, who for him had gotten the victory. This sentencefollows a description of the great troubles which the wicked bring upon the righteous, wherein he consoles himself with thehope of future bliss.; As for me," says the patriarch, casting his eyes aloft; As for me," said the hunted chieftain of thecaves of Engedi-"As for me," says the once shepherd boy, who was soon to wear a royal diadem-"As for me, I will behold thyface in righteousness, I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness."
In looking at this passage to-night, we shall notice first of all, the spirit of it; secondly, the matter of it; and then, thirdly, we shall close by speaking of the contrast which is implied in it.
I. First, then, the SPIRIT OF THIS UTTERANCE, for I always love to look at the spirit in which a man writes, or the spiritin which he preaches; in fact, there is vastly more in that than in the words he uses.
Now, what should you think is the spirit of these words? "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied,when I awake, with thy likeness."
First, they breathe the spirit of a man entirely free from envy. Notice, that the Psalmist has been speaking of the wicked. "They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speakproudly." "They are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes." But David envies them not. "Go,"says he, "rich man, in all thy riches-go, proud man, in all thy pride-go, thou happy man, with thine abundance of children;I envy thee not; as for me,my lot is different: I can look on you without desiring to have your possessions. I can well keep that commandment, 'Thoushalt not covet,' for in your possessions there is nothing worth my love; I set no value upon your earthly treasures; I envyyou not your heaps of glittering dust; for my Redeemer is mine." The man is above envy, because he thinks that the joy wouldbe no joy to him-that the portion would not suit his disposition. Therefore, he turns his eye heavenward, and says, "As forme I shall behold thy face in righteousness." Oh! beloved, it is a happy thing to be free from envy. Envy is a curse whichblighteth creation; and even Eden's garden itself would have become defaced, and no longer fair, if the wind of envy couldhave blown on it, envy tarnisheth the gold; envy dimmeth the silver; should envy breathe on the hot sun, it would quench it;should she cast her evil eye on the moon, it would be turned into blood, and the stars would fly astonished at her. Envy isaccursed of heaven; yea, it is Satan's first-born-the vilest of vices. Give a man riches, but let him have envy, and thereis the worm at the root of the fair tree; give him happiness, and if he envies another's lot, what would have been happinessbecomes his misery, because it is not so great as that of some one else. But give me freedom from envy; let me be contentwith what God has given me, let me say, "Ye may have yours, I will not envy you-I am satisfied with mine," yea, give me sucha love to my fellow creatures that I can rejoice in their joy, and the more they have the more glad I am of it. My candlewill burn no less brightly because theirs outshines it. I can rejoice in their prosperity. Then am I happy, for all aroundtends to make me blissful, when I can rejoice in the joys of others, and make their gladness my own. Envy! oh! may God deliverus from it! But how, in truth, can we get rid of it so well as by believing that ye have something that is not on earth, butinheaven? If we can look upon all the things in the world and say, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness;I shall be satisfied by-and-bye!" then we cannot envy other men, because their lot would not be adapted to our peculiar taste.Doth the ox envy the lion! Nay, for it cannot feed upon the carcase. Doth the dove grieve because the raven can gloat itselfon carrion? Nay, for it lives on other food. Will the eagle envy the wren his tiny nest? Oh, no! So the Christian will mountaloft as the eagle, spreading his broad wings, he will fly up to his eyrie amongst the stars, where God hath made himhis nest, saying, "As for me, I will dwell here; I look upon the low places of this earth with contempt. I envy not your greatness,ye mighty emperors; I desire not your fame, ye mighty warriors; I ask not for wealth, O Croesus; I beg not for thy power,O Caesar; as for me, I have something else, my portion is the Lord." The text breathes the spirit of a man free from envy.MayGod give that to us!
Then, secondly, you can see that there is about it the air of a man who is looking into the future. Read the passage thoroughly, and you will see that it all has relation to the future, because it says, "As for me, I shall." It has nothing to do with the present: it does not say, "As for me I do, or I am, so-and-so," but "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake." The Psalmist looks beyond the graveinto another world; he overlooks the narrow death-bed where he has to sleep, and he says, "When I awake." How happy isthat man who has an eye to the future; even in worldly things we esteem that man who looks beyond the present day, he whospends all his money as it comes in will soon bring himself to rags. He who lives on the present is a fool; but wise men arecontent to look after future things. When Milton penned his book he might know, perhaps, that he should have little fame inhislifetime; but he said, "I shall be honoured when my head shall sleep in the grave." Thus have other worthies been contentto tarry until time has broken the earthen pitcher, and suffered the lamp to blaze; as for honour, they said, "We will leavethat to the future, for that fame which comes late is often most enduring," and they lived upon the "shall "and fed upon thefuture. "I shall be satisfied" by-and-bye. So says the Christian. I ask no royal pomp or fame now; I am prepared to wait,Ihave an interest in reversion; I want not a pitiful estate here-I will tarry till I get my domains in heaven, those broadand beautiful domains that God has provided for them that love him. Well content will I be to fold my arms and sit me downin the cottage, for I shall have a mansion of God, "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Do any of you knowwhat it is to live on the future-to live on expectation-to live on what you are to have in the next world-to feastyourselves with some of the droppings of the tree of life that fall from heaven-to live upon the manna of expectationwhich falls in the wilderness, and to drink that stream of nectar which gushes from the throne of God? Have you ever goneto the great Niagara of hope, and drank the spray with ravishing delight; for the very spray of heaven is glory to one's soul!Have you ever lived on the future, and said, "As for me I shall have somewhat, by-and-bye?" Why, this is the highest motivethat can actuate a man. I suppose this was what made Luther so bold, when he stood before his great audience of kingsand lords, and said, "I stand by the truth that I have written, and will so stand by it till I die; so help me God!" Me thinkshe must have said, "I shall be satisfied by-and-bye. I am not satisfied now, but I shall be soon." For this the missionary ventures the stormy sea; for this he treads the barbarous shore; for this he goes intoinhospitable climes, and riskshis life, because he knows there is a payment to come by-and-bye. I sometimes laughingly tell my friends when I receivea favor from them, that I cannot return it, but set it up to my Master in heaven, for they shall be satisfied when they awakein his likeness. There are many things that we may never hope to be rewarded for here, but that shall be remembered beforethe throne hereafter, not of debt, but of grace. Like a poor minister I heard of, who, walking to a rustic chapel to preach,wasmet by a clergyman who had a far richer berth. He asked the poor man what he expected to have for his preaching. "Well,"he said, "I expect to have a crown." "Ah!" said the clergyman, "I have not been in the habit of preaching for less than aguinea, anyhow." "Oh!" said the other, "I am obliged to be content with a crown, and what is more, I do not have my crownnow, but I have to wait for that in the future." The clergyman little thought that he meant the "crown of life that fadethnot away!"Christian! live on the future; seek nothing here, but expect that thou shalt shine when thou shalt come in the likenessof Jesus, with him to be admired, and to kneel before his face adoringly. The Psalmist had an eye to the future.
And again, upon this point, you can see that David, at the time he wrote this, was full of faith. The text is fragrant with confidence. "As for me," says David, no perhaps about it. "I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake up in thy likeness." If some men should say so now, they would be called fanatics, and it wouldbe considered presumption for any man to say, "I will behold thy face, I shall besatisfied;" and I think there are many now in this world who think it is quite impossible for a man to say to a certainty,"I know, I am sure, I am certain." But, beloved, there are not one or two, but there are thousands and thousands of God'speople alive in this world who can say with an assured confidence, no more doubting of it than of their very existence, "Iwill behold thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake in thy likeness." It is possible, though perhapsnot very easy, to attain to that high and eminent position wherein we can say no longer do I hope, but I know; no longer do I trust, but I am persuaded; I have a happy confidence; I am sure of it; I an certain; for God has so manifestedhimself to me that now it is no longer "if" and "perhaps" but it is positive, eternal, "shall." "I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness." How many are there here of that sort? Oh! if ye are talking like that, ye mustexpect tohave trouble, for God never gives strong faith without fiery trial; he will never give a man the power to say that "shall"without trying him; he will not build a strong ship without subjecting it to very mighty storms; he will not make you a mightywarrior, if he does not intend to try your skill in battle. God's swords must be used; the old Toledo blades of heaven mustbe smitten against the armor of the evil one, and yet they shall not break, for they are of true Jerusalem metal, which shallnever snap. Oh! what a happy thing to have that faith to say "I shall." Some of you think it quite impossible, I know;but it "is the gift of God," and whosoever asks it shall obtain it: and the very chief of sinners now present in this placemay yet be able to say long before he comes to die, "I shall behold thy face in righteousness." Methinks I see the aged Christian.He has been very poor. He is in a garret where the stars look between the tiles. There is his bed. His clothes ragged andtorn. There are a few sticks on the hearth: they are the last he has. He is sitting up in his chair; his paralytic handquivers and shakes, and he is evidently near his end. His last meal was eaten yester-noon; and as you stand and look at him,poor, weak, and feeble, who would desire his lot? But ask him, "Old man, wouldst thou change thy garret for Caesar's palace?Aged Christian, wouldst thou give up these rags for wealth, and cease to love thy God?" See how indignation burns in his eyesatonce! He replies, "'As for me, I shall,' within a few more days, 'behold his face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied soon; here I never shall be. Trouble has been my lot, and trial has been my portion, but I have 'a house notmade with hands, eternal in the heavens.'" Bid high; bid him fair; offer him your hands full of gold; lay all down for himto give up his Christ. "Give up Christ?" he will say, "no, never!"
"While my faith can keep her hold,
I envy not the miser's gold."
Oh! what a glorious thing to be full of faith, and to have the confidence of assurance, so as to say, "I will behold thy face; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."
Thus much concerning the spirit of David. It is one very much to be copied and eminently to be desired.
II. But now, secondly, THE MATTER OF THIS PASSAGE. And here we will dive into the very depths of it, God helping us; for withoutthe Spirit of God I feel I am utterly unable to speak to you. I have not those gifts and talents which qualify men to speak;I need an afflatus from no high, otherwise I stand like other men and have nought to say. May that be given me; for withoutit I am dumb. As for the matter of this verse, methinks it contains a double blessing. The first isa beholding-"I will behold thy face in righteousness," and the next is a satisfaction-"I shall be satisfied when I awakewith thy likeness."
Let us begin with the first, then. David expected that he should behold God's face. What a vision will that be, my brethren! Have you ever seen God's hand? I have seen it, when sometimes he places it acrossthe sky, and darkens it with clouds. I have seen God's hand sometimes, when the ears of night drag along the shades of darkness.I have seen his hand when, launching the thunder-bolt, his lightning splits the clouds and rends the heavens. Perhaps ye haveseen itin a gentler fashion, when it pours out the water and sends it rippling along in rills, and then rolls into rivers. Yehave seen it in the stormy ocean-in the sky decked with stars, in the earth gemmed with flowers; and there is not a man livingwho can know all the wonders of God's hand. His creation is so wondrous that it would take more than a life-time to understandit. Go into the depths of it, let its minute parts engage your attention; next take the telescope, and try to see remoteworlds, and can I see all God's handiwork-behold all his hand? No, not so much as one millionth part of the fabric. Thatmighty hand wherein the callow comets are brooded by the sun, in which the planets roll in majestic orbits; that mighty handwhich holds all space, and grasps all beings-that mighty hand, who can behold it? but if such be his hand, what must his facebe? Ye have heard God's voice sometimes, and ye have trembled; I, myself, have listened awe-struck, and yet with amarvellous joy, when I have heard God's voice, like the noise of many waters, in the great thunderings. Have you neverstood and listened, while the earth shook and trembled, and the very spheres stopped their music, while God spoke with hiswondrous deep bass voice? Yes, ye have heard that voice, and there is a joy marvellously instinct with love which enters intomy soul, whenever I hear the thunder. It is my Father speaking, and my heart leaps to hear him. But you never heard God'sloudestvoice. It was but the whisper when the thunder rolled. But if such be the voice, what must it be to behold his face? Davidsaid, "I will behold thy face." It is said of the temple of Diana, that it was so splendidly decorated with gold, and so brightand shining, that a porter at the door always said to every one that entered, "Take heed to your eyes, take heed to your eyes;you will be struck with blindness unless you take heed to your eyes." But oh! that view of glory! That great appearance.The vision of God! to see him face to face, to enter into heaven, and to see the righteous shining bright as stars inthe firmament; but best of all, to catch a glimpse of the eternal throne! Ah! there he sits! 'Twere almost blasphemy for meto attempt to describe him. How infinitely far my poor words fall below the mighty subject! But to behold God's face. I willnot speak of the lustre of those eyes, or the majesty of those lips, that shall speak words of love and affection; but tobehold hisface' Ye who have dived into the Godhead's deepest sea, and have been lost in its immensity, ye can tell a little of it!Ye naughty "ones, who have lived in heaven these thousand years perhaps ye know, but ye cannot tell, What it is to see hisface. We must each of us go there we must be clad with immortality. We must go above the blue sky, and bathe in the riverof life: we must outsoar the lightning, and rise above the stars to know what it is to see God's face. Words cannot set itforth. Sothere I leave it. The hope the Psalmist had was, that he might see God's face.
But there was a peculiar sweetness mixed with this joy, because he knew that he should behold God's face in righteousness. "I shall behold thy face in righteousness." Have I not seen my Father's face here below? Yes, I have, "through a glass darkly,"But has not the Christian sometimes beheld him, when in his heavenly moments earth is gone, and the mind is stripped of matter?There are some seasons when the gross materialism dies away, and when the etherealfire within blazes up so high that it almost touches the fire of heaven. There are seasons, when in some retired spot,calm and free from all earthly thought, we have put our shoes from off our feet because the place whereon we stood was holyground; and we have talked with God! even as Enoch talked with him so has the Christian held intimate communion with his Father.He has heard his love whispers, he has told out his heart, poured out his sorrows and his groans before him. But after allhehas felt that he has not beheld his face in righteousness. There was so much sin to darken the eyes, so much folly, somuch frailty, that we could not get a clear prospect of our Jesus. But here the Psalmist says, "I will behold thy face inrighteousness." When that illustrious day shall arise, and I shall see my Saviour face to face, I shall see him "in righteousness."The Christian in heaven will not have so much as a speck upon his garment; he will be pure and white; yea, on the earth heis
"Pure through Jesus' blood, and white as angels are."
But in heaven that whiteness shall be more apparent. Now, it is sometimes smoked by earth, and covered with the dust of thispoor carnal world; but in heaven he will have brushed himself, and washed his wings and made them clean; and then will hesee God's face in righteousness. My God; I believe I shall stand before thy face as pure as thou art thyself, for I shallhave the righteousness of Jesus Christ there shall be upon me the righteousness of a God. "I shall beholdthy face in righteousness." O Christian, canst thou enjoy this? Though I cannot speak about it, dost thy heart meditateupon it? To behold his face for ever; to bask in that vision! True, thou canst not understand it; but thou mayest guess themeaning. To behold his face in righteousness!
The second blessing, upon which I will be brief, is satisfaction. He will be satisfied, the Psalmist says, when he wakes up in God's likeness. Satisfaction! this is another joy for the Christianwhen he shall enter heaven. Here we are never thoroughly satisfied. True, the Christian is satisfied from himself; he hasthat within which is a wet-spring of comfort, and he can enjoy solid satisfaction. But heaven is the home of true and realsatisfaction. When thebeliever enters heaven I believe his imagination will be thoroughly satisfied. All he has ever thought of he will there see; every holy idea will be solidified; every mightyconception will become a reality, every glorious imagination will become a tangible thing that he can see. His imaginationwill not be able to think of anything better than heaven; and should he sit down through eternity, he would not be able toconceive of anything that should outshine the lustre of that gloriouscity. His imagination will be satisfied. Then his intellect will be satisfied.
"Then shall I see, and hear, and know,
All I desired, or wished, below."
Who is satisfied with his knowledge here? Are there not secrets we want to know, depths in the arcana of nature that we havenot entered? But in that glorious state we shall know as much as we want to know. The memory will be satisfied. We shall look back upon the vista of past years, and we shall be content with whatever we endured, ordid, or suffered on earth.
"There, on a green and flowery mound,
My wearied soul shall sit,
And with transporting joys recount
The labors of my feet."
Hope will be satisfied, if there be such a thing in heaven. We shall hope for a future eternity, and believe in it. But we shallbe satisfied as to our hopes continually: and the whole man will be so content that there will not remain a single thing inall God's dealings, that he would wish to have altered; yea, perhaps I say a thing at which some of you will demur-but therighteous in heaven will be quite satisfied with the damnation of the lost. I used to thinkthat if I could see the lost in hell, surely I must weep for them. Could I hear their horrid wailings, and see the dreadfulcontortions of their anguish, surely I must pity them. But there is no such sentiment as that known in heaven. The believershall be there so satisfied with all God's will, that he will quite forget the lost in the idea that God has done it for thebest, that even their loss has been their own fault, and that he is infinitely just in it. If my parents could see me in hellthey would not have a tear to shed for me, though they were in heaven, for they would say, "It is justice, thou greatGod; and thy justice must be magnified, as well as thy mercy;" and moreover, they would feel that God was so much above hiscreatures that they would be satisfied to see those creatures crushed if it might increase God's glory. Oh! in heaven I believewe shall think rightly of men. Here men seem great things to us; but in heaven they will seem no more than a few creepinginsectsthat are swept away in ploughing a field for harvest; they will appear no more than a tiny handful of dust, or like somenest of wasps that ought to be exterminated for the injury they have done. They will appear such little things when we siton high with God, and look down on the nations of the earth as grasshoppers, and "count the isles as very little things."We shall be satisfied with everything; there will not be a single thing to complain of. "I shall be satisfied."
But when? "I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." But not till then. No, not till then. Now here a difficultyoccurs. You know there are some in heaven who have not yet waked up in God's likeness. In fact, none of those in heaven havedone so. They never did sleep as respects their souls; the waking refers to their bodies, and they are not awake yet-but arestill slumbering. O earth! thou art the bedchamber of the mighty dead! What a vast sleeping-housethis world is! It is one vast cemetery. The righteous still sleep; and they are to be satisfied on the resurrection morn,when they awake. "But," say you, "are they not satisfied now? They are in heaven: is it possible that they can be distressed?"No, they are not; there is only one dissatisfaction that can enter heaven-the dissatisfaction of the blest that their bodiesare not there. Allow me to use a simile which will somewhat explain what I mean. When a Roman conqueror had been at war,and won great victories, he would very likely come back with his soldiers enter into his house, and enjoy himself tillthe next day, when he would go out of the city and then come in again in triumph. Now, the saints, as it were, if I mightuse such a phrase, steal into heaven without their bodies; but on the last day, when their bodies wake up, they will enterin their triumphal chariots. And methinks I see that grand procession, when Jesus Christ, first of all, with man; crowns onhis head,with his bright, glorious body, shall lead the way. I see my Saviour entering first. Behind him come the saints, all ofthem clapping their hands all of them touching their golden harps, and entering in triumph. And when they come to heaven'sgates, and the doors are opened wide to let the king of glory in, now will the angels crowd at the windows, and on the house-tops,like the inhabitants in the Roman triumphs, to watch them as they pass through the streets, and scatter heaven's roses andcities upon them, crying, crying, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!" "I shall besatisfied" in that glorious day, when all his angels shall come to see the triumph, and when his people shall be victoriouswith him.
One thought here ought not to be forgotten; and that is, the Psalmist says we are to wake up in the likeness of God. This may refer to the soul; for the spirit of the righteous will be in the likeness of God as to its happiness holiness,purity, infallability, eternity, and freedom from pain; but specially, I think, it relates to the body because it speaks ofthe awaking. The body is to be in the likeness of Christ. What a thought! It is-and alas! I have had toomany such to-night-a thought too heavy for words. I am to awake up in Christ's likeness. I do not know what Christ islike, and can scarcely imagine. I love sometimes to sit and look at him in his crucifixion. I care not what men say-I knowthat sometimes I have derived benefit from a picture of my dying crucified Saviour; and I look at him with his crown of thorns,his pierced side, his bleeding hands and feet, and all those drops of gore hanging from him; but I cannot picture him inheaven, he is so bright, so glorious; the God so shines through the man; his eyes are like lamps of fire; his tongue likea two-edged sword; his head covered with hair as white as snow, for he is the Ancient of days, he binds the clouds round abouthim for a girdle; and when he speaks, it is like the sound of many waters! I read the accounts given in the book of Revelation,but I cannot tell what he is; they are Scripture phrases, and I cannot understand their meaning; but whatever they mean, Iknow that I shall wake up in Christ's likeness. Oh; what a change it will be, when some of us get to heaven! There isa man who fell in battle with the word of salvation on his lips, his legs had been shot away, and his body had been scarredby sabre thrusts; he wakes in heaven, and finds that he has not a broken body, maimed and cut about, and hacked and injured,but that he is in Christ's likeness. There is an old matron, who has tottered on her staff for years along her weary way;time hasploughed furrows on her brow; haggard and lame, her body is laid in the grave. But oh! aged woman, thou shalt arise inyouth and beauty. Another has been deformed in his life-time, but when he wakes, he wakes in the likeness of Christ. Whatevermay have been the form of our countenance, whatever the contour, the beautiful shall be no more beautiful in heaven than thosewho were deformed. Those who shone on earth, peerless, among the fairest, who ravished men with looks from their eyes, theyshall be no brighter in heaven than those who are now passed by and neglected: for they shall all be like Christ.
III. But now to close up, HERE IS A VERY SAD CONTRAST IMPLIED. We shall all slumber A few more years and where will this companybe? Xerxes wept, because in a little while his whole army would be gone; how might I stand here and weep, because within afew more years others shall stand in this place, and shall say, "The fathers, where are they?" Good God! and is it true? Isit not a reality? Is it all to be swept away? Is it one great dissolving view? Ah! it is. This sightshall vanish soon, and you and I shall vanish with it. We are but a show. This life is but "a stage whereon men act;"and then we pass behind the curtain, and we there unmask ourselves, and talk with God. The moment we begin to live we beginto die. The tree has long been growing that shall be sawn to make you a coffin. The sod is ready for you all. But this sceneis to appear again soon. One short dream, one hurried nap, and all this sight shall come o'er again. We shall all awake, andas westand here now, we shall stand together, perhaps, even more thickly pressed. But we shall stand on the level then-therich and poor, the preacher and hearer. There will be but one distinction-righteous and wicked. At first we shall stand together.Methinks I see the scene. The sea is boiling; the heavens are rent in twain, the clouds are fashioned into a chariot, andJesus riding on it, with wings of fire, comes riding through the sky. His throne is set. He seats himself upon it. With anodhe hushes all the world. He lifts his fingers, opens the great books of destiny, and the book of our probation, whereinare written the acts of time. With his fingers he beckons to the hosts above. "Divide," said he, "divide the universe." Swifterthan thought all the earth shall part in sunder. Where shall I be found when the dividing comes? Methinks I see them all divided,and the righteous are on the right. Turning to them, with a voice sweeter than music, he says, "Come! Ye have beencoming-keep on your progress! Come! it has been the work of your life to come, so continue. Come and take the last step.'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.'" And now thewicked are left alone; and turning to them, he says, "Depart! Ye have been departing all your life long; it was your businessto depart from me; ye said, 'Depart from me, I love not thy ways.' You have been departing, keep on, take the last step!'"They dare not move. They stand still. The Saviour becomes the avenger. The hands that once held out mercy, now grasp thesword of justice; the lips that spoke lovingkindness, now utter thunder; and with a deadly aim; he lifts up the sword, andsweeps amongst them. They fly like deer before the lion, and enter the jaws of the bottomless pit.
But never, I hope, shall I cease preaching, without telling you what to do to be saved. This morning I preached to the ungodly,to the worst of sinners, and many wept-I hope many hearts melted-while I spoke of the great mercy of God. I have not spokenof that to-night. We must take a different line sometimes; led, I trust, by God's Spirit. But oh! ye that are thirsty, andheavy laden, and lost and ruined, mercy speaks yet once again to you! Here is the way ofsalvation. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." "And what is it to believe?" says one; "is it to say Iknow Christ died for me?" No, that is not to believe, it is part of it, but it is not all. Every Arminian believes that; andevery man in the world believes it who holds that doctrine, since he conceives that Christ died for every man. Consequentlythat is not faith. But faith is this: to cast yourself on Christ. As the negro said, most curiously, when asked what he didto besaved; "Massa," said he, "I fling myself down on Jesus, and dere I lay; I fling myself flat on de promise, and dere Ilay." And to every penitent sinner Jesus says, "I am able to save to the uttermost;" throw thyself flat on the promise, and say, "Then, Lord, thou art ableto save me." God says, "Come now, let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow, and though theybe red like crimson they shall be as wool." Cast thyself on him, and thoushalt be saved. "Ah!" says one, "I am afraid I am not one of God's people; I cannot read my name in the book of life."A very good thing you can't, for if the Bible had every body's name in it, it would be a pretty large book; and if your nameis John Smith and you saw that name in the Bible, if you do not believe God's promise now, you would be sure to believe thatit was some other John Smith. Suppose the Emperor of Russia should issue a decree to all the Polish refugees to return totheirown country; you see a Polish refugee looking at the great placards hanging on the wall he looks with pleasure, and says,"Well, I shall go back to my country." But some one says to him, "It does not say Walewski." "Yes, "he would reply, "but itsays Polish refugees: Polish is my Christian name, and refugee my surname, and that is me." And so, though it does not sayyour name in the Scriptures, it says lost sinner. Sinner is your Christian name, and lost is your surname; therefore, whynotcome? It says, "lost sinner;"-is not that enough? "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that JesusChrist came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief." "Yes, but," another one says, "I am afraid I am not elect."Oh! dear souls, do not trouble yourselves about that. If you believe in Christ you are elect. Whoever puts himself on the mercy of Jesus is elect; for he would never do it if he had not been elect. Whoever comesto Christ, and looks for mercythrough his blood, is elect, and he shall see that he is elect afterwards; but do not expect to read election till youhave read repentance. Election is a college to which you little ones will not go till you have been to the school of repentance.Do not begin to read your book backwards, and say Amen before you have said your paternoster. Begin with "Our Father," andthen you will go on to "thine is the kingdom the power and the glory;" but begin with "the kingdom," and you will have hardworkto go back to "Our Father." We must begin with faith. We must begin with-
"Nothing in my hands I bring."
As God made the world out of nothing, he always makes his Christians out of nothing; and he who has nothing at all to-night,shall find grace and mercy, if he will come for it.
Let me close up by telling you what I have heard of some poor woman, who was converted and brought to life, just by passingdown a street, and hearing a child, sitting at a door, singing-
"I am nothing at all
But Jesus Christ is all in all."
That is a blessed song; go home and sing it; and he who can rightly apprehend those little words, who can feel himself vanitywithout Jesus, but that he has all things in Christ, is not only far from the kingdom of heaven, but he is there in faith,and shall be there in fruition, when be shall wake up in God's likeness.