Sermon 357. The New Park Street Pulpit
THE CHRIST OF PATMOS
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 27, 1861, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.
"Andl turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of theseven candlesticks One like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girt about the chest with a goldenband. His head and hair were white like wool,as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame offre; His feet like unto fine brass, as if refined in a furnace; and Hisvoice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword:and His countenance was like thesun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, sayingunto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last." Revelation 1:12-17.
THE Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Having neither beginning of days, nor end of years, He isa priest forever after the order of Melchisedek. But the views which His people have of Him are extremely varied. Accordingto our progress in Grace, will be the standpoint fromwhich we view the Savior; and according to the position from which we look at Him, will be what we see of Him. Christ isthe same, but Believers do not all see Him in the same clear light, nor do they all approach to the same nearness of fellowship.Some only know His offices;others only admire His Character; far fewer commune with His Person; but there are some who have advanced still further-whohave come to feel the unity of all the Church with the Person of Christ Jesus their Lord. Under the Old Testament, the lessonto be taught was the same, butthe capacity of the learners differed, and hence the mode of teaching the lesson differed also. A poor man, under the Jewishdispensation, was the type of an uninstructed Christian; the rich man was the picture of the well-taught Believer. Now, thepoor Jew brought a turtle dove ortwo young pigeons (Lev 1:4-11). The necks of these were wrung, and they were offered. The poor man in that was only taught this lesson-that it was onlyby death and blood that his sin could be put away. The richer Israelite who had it within his power, brought a bullock (Lev1:3-9). This bullock was not only slain, but it had to be cut in pieces; the legs, the fat, the innards were washed in water, andall these were laid in special order upon the altar. This was to teach him even as Christ now teaches the intelligent andinstructed Believer, that thereis within the mere act of shedding blood an order and a fullness of wisdom which only advanced Believers can perceive. Thescapegoat taught one truth, the paschal lamb another; the showbread set forth one lesson, the lighting of the lamps another.All the types were intended toteach the one great mystery of Christ manifest in the flesh and seen of angels. But they taught it in different ways, becausemen in those times, as now, had different capacities, and could only learn a little at a time. As it was under the Old Testament,it is under the New. AllChristians know Christ, but they do not all know Him to the same degree and in the same way. There are some Believers whoview Christ as Simeon did. Simeon saw Him as a Baby. He took Him up in his arms, and was so overjoyed, that he said, "Lord,now let Your servant depart in peaceaccording to Your word."
You know how, in the Church of England, that Song of Simeon is chanted every Sabbath, as if it were true that many of theworshippers had never gotten further than that-to know Christ as a baby-a Savior whom they could take up in their arms, whomthey could apprehend by faith and call theirown. There is an advance, however, upon that experience when not only can we take Christ up, but we can see Christ takingus up; when we can see not only how we apprehend Him by faith, but how He apprehended us of old in the Everlasting Covenant,and took up the seed of Abraham, andwas made in their likeness, that He might redeem their souls. It is a great joy to know Christ, though it is but only theinfant consolation of Israel. It is a happy privilege to be permitted with the Easterns to bring our gold, frankincense andmyrrh, and worship Christ, thenewborn King. This, however, is but a lesson for beginners;it is one of the first syl- lables of the schoolbook of DivineGrace. To take Christ up in our arms is the sure pledge of salvation, but at the same time it is but the dawn of heavenlylight in experience.
But, my dear Brothers and Sisters, the disciples of Jesus knew Christ in a higher degree than Simeon-for they regarded Himnot simply as the Incarnate One-but as their Prophet and Teacher. They sat at His feet; they heard His words; they knew thatnever man spoke like that Man. Under Histeaching they were led on to high degrees of knowledge. He gave to them the Divine texts from which, when the Spirit haddescended, they drew sacred lessons which they taught the multitude. They knew more, I say, of Christ than Simeon-Simeon knewHim as One whom he could take holdof by faith, and who would make glad his eyes; but the disciples knew Him as One who taught them-not merely saved them-butinstructed them. There are hundreds of Believers who have got as far as this. Christ is to them the great Teacher of Doctrine,He is the great Expositor ofGod's will and Law, and they look up to Him with reverence as the Rabbi of their faith. Yes, but there was one of the disciplesat least who knew Jesus Christ even better than this! There was one chosen out of the twelve, as the 12 had been chosen outof the rest, who knew Christ asa dear Companion, and as a sweet Friend. There was one who knew His bosom as affording a pillow for his weary head, onewho had felt His heart beat close to his cheek-one who had been with Him on the Mountain of Transfiguration and had enjoyedfellowship with the Father, throughHis Son Jesus Christ. Now I fear that those who advance as far as John did are not very many. They are doctrinal Christians,and thus they have made an advance upon those who are only trusting Christians, and not more. But John had taken a wonderfulstride before his fellow men,when he could claim Christ as being dear to him, the Companion of his life, the Friend of his days. May the Lord teach eachof us more and more how to walk with Jesus and to know His love!
But, Brothers and Sisters, there was one who comprehended Christ Jesus fully as well as the beloved disciple. 'Twas Mary.She knew Him as One who had been born in her, and born of her. Blessed is that Christian who can say that Christ is formedin him, the hope of glory, and who has come to looknot at Christ as only on the Cross, but as Christ in his own soul, who knows that he, himself, as truly bears the Saviorwithin him as ever did his Virgin Mother-who feels that in him, too, by the Holy Spirit, Christ is conceived; that in him,the Nature of Christ, that Holy Thingwhich is born of the Holy Spirit, is ripening and maturing till it shall destroy the old man, and in perfect manhood shallbe born into eternal life. This, I say, even eclipses John's knowledge, but it is not perhaps the highest of all! Furtherthan this we will not venture thismorning. At some other time, when our eyes are more enlightened, we may take a glimpse of a yet more excellent glory.
Dear Friends, you who love the Savior, wish for nothing so much as to see more and more of Him! Your desire is that you maysee Him as He is, yet I can well conceive, if you might indulge your wishes, you would wish that you had seen Him as He wastransfigured. Do you not look back almost with envyupon those three favored ones who went up to the top of Tabor, and were there overshadowed when His garment became whiterthan any fuller could make it, and there appeared unto Him, Moses and Elijah talking with Him? You need not envy, for youknow how they were overpowered with thesight, and "were heavy with sleep." You, too, would sleep if you had but the same strength as they, and had to gaze uponthe same surpassing Glory. I know, too, you have wished that you could have seen Him in the Garden ofGeth-semane. Oh, to haveseen that agony, to have heard thosegroans, to have marked that bloody sweat as it fell in clots to the frozen ground! Well might you envy those who were chosento keep the sacred vigil, and to have watched with Him one hour. But you will remember that they slept. "He found them sleepingfor sorrow." With your powersof endurance-if you had no more than they-you, too, would sleep. As in the Transfiguration so in that agony and bloody sweatthere was a sight which eyes can never see-because there was a Glory and a shame which man can never comprehend.
But perhaps some of you have longed and wished that you had seen Him on the Cross. Oh, to have beheld Him there, to have seenthose hands nailed "to fix the world's salvation fast," and those feet nailed to the wood as though He tarried to be gracious,though the world waited long in coming. Oh, tohave seen that mangled naked body, and that pierced side! John, you who did see and bear witness, we might well envy you!But, oh, my Brothers and Sisters, why should we? Why should we? For have we not seen by faith all of Christ, without thathorror which must have passed over thebeholders, and which did pass over His mother when a sword also pierced through her own heart, because she saw her son bleedingon the tree? Oh, how delightful it must have been to have beheld the Savior on the morning of the Resurrection!-to have seenHim as He rose with new lifefrom the chambers of the dead, to have beheld Him when He stood in the midst of the disciples, the doors being shut andsaid, "Peace be unto you!" How pleasant to have gone to the top of the mountain with Him, and to have seen Him as He ascended,blessing His disciples, a cloudreceiving Him out of their sight! Surely we might well desire to spend an eternity in visions like these! But permit meto say that I think the picture of our text is preferable to any, and if you have desires after those I have already mentioned,you ought to have far more intenselongings to see Christ as John did in this vision, for this is, perhaps, the most complete, the most wonderful, and at thesame time, most important manifestation of Christ, that was ever seen by human eyes.
There will be two things which will take our attention this morning. The first briefly, namely, the importance of this visionto us, and then, secondly, the meaning of the vision.
I. THE VALUE OF THIS VISION TO US.
Some may be inclined to say, "The preacher has selected a very curious passage of Scripture; one that may tickle our fancy,but that can be of no spiritual benefit to us." My Friends, you labor under a very great mistake, and I trust I may convinceyou of that in a minute or two. Remember that thisrepresentation, this symbolic picture of Christ, is a representation of the same Christ who suffered for our sins. Strangelydiverse as it may seem to be, yet here we have the very same Christ. John calls Him the Son of Man, that sweet and humblename by which Jesus was so known todescribe Himself. That He was the same identical Person is very clear, because John speaks of Him at once as being likeunto the Son of Man, and I think he means that he perceived in His majesty, a likeness to Him whom he had known in His shame.There was not the crown of thorns,but he knew the brow. There was not the mark of the wounds; perhaps the seven stars had taken the position of the printsof the nails, but he knew the hands for all that. As in our new bodies, when we rise from the tomb, we shall no doubt knoweach other-though the body whichshall rise will have but faint resemblance to that which is sown in the tomb, for it will be a miraculous and marvelousdevelopment in flower of the poor withered thing that is but the buried seed. But I doubt not that I shall be able to recognizeyour visage in Heaven because Iknew your countenance on earth; so did John discover, despite the glories of Christ, the identical Person whom he had seenin abasement and woe. Christian, look with reverence there. There is your Lord, the Christ of the manger, the Christ of thewilderness, the Christ of Capernaum,and Bethsaida, the Christ of Gethsemane, the Christ of Golgotha is there, and it cannot be unimportant for you to turn asideto see this great sight!
Further, this picture represents to us what Christ is now, and hence its extreme value. What He was when He was here on earthis all-important to me, but what He is now is quite as much a matter of vital consequence. Some set exceedingly great storeby what He shall be when He comes to judge theearth in righteousness, and so do we. But we really think that Christ in the future is not to be preferred to a knowledgeof Christ in the present; for we want to know today, in the midst of present strife, and present pain, and present conflict,what Jesus Christ is now. And thisbecomes all the more cheering because we know that what He is now we shall be-for we shall be like He is when we shall seeHim as He is.
And yet a third consideration lends importance to the topic of our text, namely, that Christ in the text is represented aswhat He is to the Churches. You will perceive He is portrayed as standing in the midst of the golden candlesticks, by whichwe understand the Churches. We love to know what Heis to the nations; what He is to His peculiar people, the Jews; what He will be to His enemies; but it is best for us, asmembers of Christian Churches, to know what He is in the Churches, so that every deacon, elder and church member here shouldgive earnest heed to thispassage-for he has here pictured to him that Christ to whom the Church looks up as her great Lord and Hope-that Messiahwhom every day she serves and adores!
And I might add yet once more-I think the subject of our text is valuable when we consider what an effect it would have uponus if we really felt and understood it-we would fall at His feet as dead. Blessed position! Does the death alarm you? We arenever so much alive as when we are dead atHis feet. We are never so truly living as when the creature dies away in the Presence of the All-Glorious King. I know this,that the death of all that is sinful in me is my soul's highest ambition, yes, and the death of all that is carnal, and allthat savors of the old Adam. Wouldthat it would die. And where can it die but at the feet of Him who has the new life, and who, by manifesting Himself inall His Glory is to purge away our dross and sin? I only would that this morning I had enough of the Spirit's might so toset forth my Mas- ter, that I mightcontribute even in a humble measure to make you fall at His feet as dead, that He might be in us our All-in-All!
II. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS VISION?
"Take off your shoes, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground." If God manifest in a bush commands solemnity, whatshall we say of God manifest in Christ, and manifest, too, after the most marvelous manner? The words of our text are symbols-theyare not to be understood literally. Christdoes not appear in Heaven under this literal form, but this is the appearance under which He was set forth to the intellectof John. John was not so benighted as to understand any of this literally; he knew that the candlesticks were not meant forcandlesticks, but for the sevenlight-giving Churches. He knew that the stars were not stars, but ministers, and he understood right well that all the wholedescription through, it was the symboland the spirit of the vision he was to look to, and not to the literal words.
But to begin-"And in the midst of the seven candlesticks, One like unto the Son of Man clothed with a garment down to thefeet and girt about the chest with a golden band'" We have, first, in Christ as He is today, a picture of His official dignity,and of His royal honors. Clothed with a garmentdown to the feet. This was the robe constantly worn by kings-the garment which descended and left only the feet apparent.This was also the peculiar dress of the priest. A priest of the Jewish dispensation had the long flowing white robe whichreached down to the ground andcovered him entirely. Christ, then, in being thus clothed, asserts His Kingship and His eternal Priesthood. It may indicatethe fact, too, that He has clothed Himself with righteousness. Though He was once naked, when He was the Substitute for nakedsinners who had cast away therobe of their righteousness, He is naked no more; He wears that garment dipped in His own blood, woven from the top throughoutby His own hands-He wears Himself that garment which He casts over the whole Church, which is His body. However, the mainidea here is that of officialdignity and position; and when you read of the golden band which was about the chest, it is a representation of how thehigh priest was girt. He was girt with a band or belt that had gold in it. The belts of the other priests were not of gold;that of the high priest's was mainlymade of that precious metal, and it was girt about the chest-not at the waist-but across the breast as if to show that thelove of Christ, or the place where His loving heart beat most, was just the spot where He bound firmly about Himself the garmentsof His official dignity;as if His love were the faithful belt of His loins; as if the affection of His heart always kept Him fast and firm to thecarrying out of all the offices which He had undertaken for us. The picture is not difficult to imagine before your eyes;I only want the Christian mind to stopa minute and consider it. Come, Believer, you have a Lord to worship who is clothed today with supreme office! Come beforeHim, He can govern for you-He is King! He can plead for you-He is Priest! Come, worship HIM, HE is adored in Heaven! Come,trust Him-lo, at that goldenband hang the keys of Heaven and death, and Hell. No more despised and rejected of men; no more naked to His shame; no morehomeless, or friendless! His royal dignity ensures the obedience of angels, and His priestly merit wins the acceptance ofHis Father-
"Give Him, my Soul, your cause to plead, Nor doubt the Father's Grace."
Let His garment, and His robe compel your faith to trust your soul, yes, and your temporal affairs, too, wholly and entirelyin His prevailing hands.
You will perceive that there is no crown upon the head as yet-that crown is reserved for His Advent. He comes soon to reign,even now He is King-but He is a king rather with the band about His loins, than with the crown upon His head. Soon He shallcome in the clouds of Heaven, and His peopleshall go forth to meet Him, and then shall we see Him "with the crown wherewith His mother crowned Him in the day of Hisespousals, and in the day of the gladness of His heart." Our soul longs and watches for the day when the many crowns shallbe upon His head; yet even now, is HeKing of kings, and Lord of lords; even now is He the High Priest of our profession, and as such we adore and trust Him.
"His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow." When the Church described Him in the Canticles, she said, "Hislocks are bushy and black as a raven's." How are we to understand this apparent discrepancy? My Brothers and Sisters, theChurch in the Canticles looked forward-she lookedforward to days and ages that were to come-and she perceived His perpetual youth; she pictured Him as One who would nevergrow old, whose hair would always have the blackness of youth. And do we not bless God that her view of Him was true? We cansay of Jesus, "You have the dew ofYour youth." But the Church of today looks backward to His work as complete; we see Him now as the Ancient of
Eternal Days. We believe that He is not the Christ of merely 1800 years ago, but, before the daystar knew its place, He wasOne with the Eternal Father. When we see in the picture His head. and His hair white as snow, we understand the antiquityof His reign. "In the beginning was the Word, and theWord was with God, and the Word was God." When all these things were not, when the old mountains had not lifted their hoaryheads into the clouds, when the yet more hoary sea had never roared in tempest-before the lamps of Heaven had been lit, whenGod dwelt alone in Hisimmensity, and the unnavigated waves of ether, if there were such, had never been fanned by the wings of the seraph, andthe solemnity of silence had never been startled by the song of cherubim, Jesus was of old in eternity with God! We know howHe was despised, and rejected of men,but we understand, too, what He meant when He said, "Before Abraham was, I AM." We know how He who died when but a littlemore than 30 years of age, was verily the Father of the everlasting ages, having neither beginning of days nor end of years.
No doubt there is here coupled with the idea of antiquity, that of reverence. Men rise up before the hoary head and pay ithomage; and do not angels, principalities, and powers bow before Him? Though He was made a little lower than the angels forthe suffering of death, yet is He not crowned withGlory and honor? Do they not all delight to obey His behests, and lay their borrowed dignities at His feet? O Christian!Rejoice that you serve One so venerable, so worthy to be praised; let your soul join now in the song which rolls upward toHis Throne, "Unto Him who is, and whowas, and who is to come, the Alpha and the Omega, unto Him be glory, and honor, and dominion, and power, forever and ever.Amen."
"His eyes like flames of fire" This represents Christ's oversight of His Church. As He is in the Church, the Ancient of EternalDays, her Everlasting Father, and her Head to be reverenced, so is He in the Church, the Universal Overseer, the great Bishopand Shepherd of souls. And what eyes He has!How penetrating! "Like flames of fire." How discriminating! "Like flames of fire," which melt the dross and only leave thereal metal. "Like flames of fire," He sees-not by light without-but His own eyes supply the light with which He sees! Hisknowledge of the Church is notderived from the prayers of the Churches, nor from her experience of her needs, nor from her verbal statements, He seesby no borrowed light of the sun, or of the moon-His eyes are lamps unto themselves. In the Church's thick darkness, when sheis trampled down, when no lightshines upon her, He sees her-for His eyes are "like flames of fire." Oh, what sweet consolation this must be to a childof God! If you cannot tell your Lord where you are, He can see you, and though you cannot tell what you really need, or howto pray, yet He cannot only see, butHe can see with such discrimination, that He can tell precisely what your true needs are, and what are only fancies of anunsanctified desire. "His eyes like flames of fire." Why you are in darkness and you see no light-but He is the light thatlights every man who comes into theworld, and He sees by the light of His own Person all that goes on in you. I love that Doctrine of Christ's universal oversightof all His Church. You know there is an idea sometimes held out that the Church ought to have a visible head so that all mattersmay come by degreesthrough a hierarchy to some one man, that so one man knowing all things, may be able to guide the Church aright. An absurdbecause impossible idea! What man could possibly say, "I keep the Church. I water it, I watch it every moment." No, no, itmust be this-"I the Lord do keepit. I will water it every moment lest any hurt it. I will keep it night and day." There is never a trial to the Church,there is never a pang she feels but those eyes of fire discern! Oh, think not you would rather view the eyes that once werefountains of tears; they wept for yoursins, those sins are put away, it is better for you now that you should have One whose eyes are like flames of fire-notto perceive your sins- but to burn them up; not merely to see your needs, but forever to fulfill your desires! Bow beforeHim, lay bare your heart, hope not toconceal anything. Think it not necessary that you should explain anything-He sees and He knows, for His eyes are like flamesof fire.
"And His feet were like fine brass, as if they were refined in a furnace." The head, you see, is reverent; the feet are blazing;the countenance is like the sun for glory; the feet like burning brass for trial. I think we may understand by this the Churchof God on earth-those saints united toChrist who are the last of the body; the lower part who are in these times still treading the earth. Christ is in Heaven,His head is like "the sun that shines in its strength." Christ is on earth in the midst of His Church, and where His feetwalk among the golden candlesticks,they walk in fire. They are like brass refined in a furnace. Now, we think that wherever Christ is, there will be the fireof trial to His Church. I would never believe that we were on the Lord's side if all men were on our side; if the words wespeak were not constantlymisrepresented, we could not imagine we spoke the Words of God; if we were always understood, we would think that we spokenot those things which the carnal mind cannot receive! No, Brethren, no-expect not ease! Expect not that you shall attainto the crown without suffering. Thefeet of Christ burn in the furnace, and you belong to His body-you do not belong to His head-for you are not in Heaven!You do not belong to His loins-for you wear not the golden band- but you belong to His feet, and you must burn in the furnace!What a wondrous picture isthis of Christ! Can you conceive it? You know that the robe came down even to His feet. Perhaps it covered them, but yetthe glowing heat was such that through the robe might be seen the burning of the feet of brass. They were fine brass, too.They were metal that could not beconsumed, a metal that would not yield to the heat. And so is Christ's Church! The old motto of the early Protestants wasan anvil, because "the Church" they said, "is an anvil that has broken many hammers." The Evil One smites her-she does notreply except by suffering and inthat-enduring with patience is her kingdom! In that suffering is her victory! In the patient possessing of her soul, inher glowing in the furnace, and not yielding to the fire, in her shining and being purified by its heat, and not giving wayand being molten by its fury, in thatis as greatly the triumph of Christ, as in that bright Countenance which is as "the sun shining in its strength." I rejoicein this part of my text. It comforts one's soul when cast down and deeply tried. "His feet were like fine brass, as if theywere refined in a furnace." Let ussay to our souls-
"Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease; While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?No, I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord! I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Your Word."
But I must pass on having no time this morning to dwell long on any one of these points. "Hs voice as the sound of many waters."And what is the voice of Christ? It is a voice which is heard in Heaven. You angels, bow before Him! They hear the command-"Andat the name of Jesus every knee does bowof things in Heaven." It is a voice that is heard in Hell! You fiends, be still! "Vex not My anointed. Do My Prophets noharm." And there those Hell hounds tug at their chains, longing to escape from their imprisonment. It is a voice that is heardon earth, too; wherever Christ ispreached, wherever His Cross is lifted up, there is there a voice that speaks better things than the blood of Abel! Sometimeswe are apt to think that Christ's voice is not heard. We, His ministers, are such feeble creatures; if we have some few thousandsto listen to our voice, yethow many forget! Amidst the storm of the battle cry, amidst political clamors, who can hope that the still small voice ofthe ministry should be heard? But it is heard! Across the Alleghenies, the voice of God's minister echoes; no evil thing shallin the end stand against theprotests of God's servants; that which has made slavery tremble to its very soul, has been the constant protest of Christianministers in England! And though the lying prophets of the Southern States have sought to undo the good, yet must they fallbefore the force of the Truth ofGod. There is not a humble village pastor standing in his pulpit to edify his feeble flock, who is not thereby exertingan influence on all generations yet to come. The minister of Christ stands in the midst of the telegraphic system of the universe,and works it according toJehovah's will; all society is but a tremulous mass of jelly yielding to the influence of Christ's Gospel! I say not, Sirs,that there is any power in us;but there is power in Christ's Word when it peals through us in trumpet tones! There is powerin Christ's Word to waken the drybones that lie in many a valley. China shall hear! India must listen, the gods of, though they hear not, yet tremble! Andfeeble though we are in ourselves, yet does God make us mighty to the pulling down of strongholds, and He shall make us conquerorsthrough His Divine Grace!
If you could stand upon some exceedingly high mountain and could be gifted with enlarged ponders of vision, it would be awonderful thing to be able to see the Atlantic and Pacific, the Indian ocean, and all the seas of the world at once. Supposewe are standing on the loftiest summit while atremendous storm sweeps o'er the whole. The sea roars and the fullness thereof-yes, all the seas roar at once-the Atlanticechoes to the Pacific, the Pacific passes on the strain to the great Indian ocean, the Mediterranean cries to the Red Sea,the Red Sea shouts aloud to theArctic, and the Arctic to the Antarctic! They clap their hands, and all at once there is a voice of many waters. Such isthe voice of Christ's ministry on earth! It may seem to be feeble but it never is. There may be but a handful of men; theymay be in the glens of Piedmont; theymay be found upon the hills of Switzerland, and they may be dying for Christ-but their tramp is the tramp of heroes-theirvoice shakes the ages and eternity itself trembles before it! Oh, how consolatory to the heir of Heaven, and to the ministerof Christ is the fact that Hisvoice is as "the sound of many waters."
"And He had in His right hand seven stars.." The Church should always see Christ as holding up her ministers. Ministers arevery much in danger. Stars, or those things that seem to be stars, may be but shooting stars; they may be but meteors andflash awhile, right soon to melt away-but theministers of Christ, though they are in danger, yet, if they are Christ's ministers, they are perfectly safe! He keeps theseven stars. The celestial Pleiades of the Gospel are always in Christ's hand. And who can pluck them from there? Church ofGod! Be it always your prayer thatChrist would keep His ministers wherever they are-commend them to Him, and remember you have this as a kind of promise onwhich to ground your prayer. Brothers and Sisters, pray for us! We are but like twinkling stars at least, and He is as thesun that shines in its strength. AskHim to give us light; ask Him to keep us always burning; ask Him that we may be as the pole-star guiding the slave to liberty;ask Him that we may be as the stars that make the southern cross-that when the mariner sees us, stars of Christ-he may seenot each star individuallybut Christ manifested in beauteous form in the shining of all combined! This shall be my portion today. "The seven starswere in His right hand." How many would like to quench the light of God's ministers! Many criticize; some abuse, more stillmisrepresent. I can scarcely say asentence in which I am not misconstrued, and I aver that I have often taken Cobbett's rule to speak not only so that I couldbe understood, but so that I thought I could not be misunderstood. And yet I am; but what does it matter? What does it mean?Still if the stars make not gladthe eyes of men; if they are in the Lord's hand they ought to be satisfied. They should rest content and not trouble themselves.Loud let the waves roar, and let the envious sea send up her boisterous billows to quench the heavenly fires. Aha, O sea!Upon your tranquil couches sleepthe stars. They look down upon your boisterous waves, and when you shall subside in calm, and the clouds that have risenfrom your vapor have passed away, be it the lone star or one of a constellation; it shall shine out yet again, and smile onyour placid waters, till you, O ocean,shall mirror the image of that star, and you shall know that there is an influence-even in that envied spark which you havesought to quench-to lead your floods, and make them ebb, and make them flow so that you shall be servant to One whom you thoughtto put out forever! Theseven stars are in Christ's right hand.
I shall not detain you much longer, but we must finish this wonderful description. "Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edgedsword." I have looked at one or two old pictures in which the artists of the olden times have tried to sketch this vision.I think it a most ridiculous thing to attempt! Iconceive that this was never meant to be painted by any human being; nor can it be! But one old artist seems to have caughtthe very idea. He represents the breath of Christ in vapor, assuming the form of a two-edged sword very mighty and strongto cut in pieces His adversary. Now,as the Gospel of Christ must be heardbecause it is "the voice of many waters," so it must be felt, for it is "a two-edgedsword;" and it is surprising how the Gospel really is felt, too! It is felt by those who hate it; they writhe under it; theycannot sleep after it; they feelindignant; they are horrified; they are disgusted and all that; but still there is a something within which does not letthem remain quiet. That two-edged sword gets at the marrow of their bones. They wish they had never heard the Word thoughthey can never heal themselves of thewound they have gotten by it. And to those who are blessed under the Word-what a two-edged sword it is to them! How it killstheir self-righteousness! How it cuts the throat of their sins! How it lays their lusts dead at the feet of Jesus! How all-subduingis it in the Son! Nosword of Gideon was ever so potent against a horde of Midianites as the sword that comes out of Jesus' lips against thehosts of our sins! When the Spirit of God comes in all His power into our souls, what death He works and yet what life-whatdeath to sin, and yet what new lifein righteousness! O holy sword! O breath of Christ! Enter into our hearts and kill our sins!
It is delightful to see each day how the preaching of the Word is really the sword of God. I do sometimes retire from thepulpit sorrowing exceedingly, because I cannot preach as I would, and I think that surely the Master's message has had noeffect among you. But it is perfectly marvelous howmany here have been called by Divine Grace. I am each day more and more astonished when I see high and low, rich and poor,nobles and peasants, moral and immoral alike, subdued before this conquering sword of Christ! I must tell it to the Master'shonor, to the Master's Glory, "Hisown right hand has gotten Him the victory." Here the slain of the Lord have been many! Here has He glorified Himself inthe conversion of multitudes of souls!
But to conclude. "Hs Countenance was as the sun that shines in its strength" How can I picture this? Go abroad and fix youreyes upon the sun if you can. Select the day of the year in which it is most in the zenith, and then fix your steady gazeupon it. Does it not blind you? Are you notoverwhelmed? But mark-when you can gaze at that sun with undimmed eyes, you shall even then have no power to look upon theCountenance of Christ! What glory, what majesty, what light, what spotlessness, what strength!-"His Countenance was as thesun that shines in its strength."Well may the angels veil their faces with their wings; well may the elders offer vials full of sweet odors, that the smokeof their incense may be a medium through which they may see His face. And well may you and I feel and say-
But, Jesus, turn Your face and look on us. It is midnight, but if You turn Your face, it must be noon, for Your face is asthe sun! Thick darkness and long nights have overwhelmed our spirits, and we have said, "I am shut out from the Lord forever!"Jesus! Turn Your face and we are troubled nomore! Sea of love where all our passions rest, You circle, where all our joys revolve! You center of our souls-shine andmake us glad! This Sun, if we look at Him curiously to understand His Glory, may blind us-but if we look at Him humbly, thatwe may receive His Light, He willmake our eyes stronger than they were, and shed sunlight into the thickest darkness of our despair!
Oh, Church of God! What do you say to Him who is your Husband! Will you not forsake your own kindred and your father's house?Will you not long to know Him more and more, and shall it not be your cry today, "Mount Your chariot, Jesus! Mount Your chariot!Ride forth conquering and to conquer! ShowYour face, and the darkness of superstition must melt before Your Countenance. Open Your mouth and let the two-edged swordof Your Spirit slay Your foes! Come forth, Jesus, bear the seven stars and let them shine where light was never been before!Speak, Jesus, speak! And men willhear You, for Your voice is as the sound of many waters. Come, Jesus come, even though You bring the burning heat with You,and we, as Your feet glow in the furnace! Come, look on us and burn up all our sins with those eyes of fire! Come, show Yourselfand we will adore You, forYour head and Your hair are white like wool! Come, manifest Yourself, and we will trust You with Your garment, Your priestlygarment. We will reverence You, and with Your golden band, we will adore You, King of kings and Lord of lords! Come then,that we may see You, that You mayput the crown upon Your head, and the shout may be heard-Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigns!
The humbler we must lie."