Sermon 450. An Exhortation By Rev. C.H. Spurgeon
AND A SALUTATION BY REV. MERLE D'AUBIGNE, OF GENEVA DELIVERED IN THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, ON SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 18, 1862.
"And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that Da vid sent Joab and hisservants with him and all Israel. And they destroyed the children of Amnion and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still atJerusalem." 2 Samuel 11:1.
THE last sentence informs us of a circumstance so significant that the Holy Spirit has recorded it twice. In the parallelpassage in the Chronicles, you will find a repetition of the statement that, "David tarried at Jerusalem." It had, up to now,been his custom to march at the head of his troops.The king of Israel was the commander-in-chief of the Lord's hosts, and by personal deeds of prowess excited the nationalspirit. But on this occasion, you perceive, he delegates his power to Joab and seeks inglorious ease.
We are informed that the season had arrived when kings go forth to battle-probably the spring, when horses could be maintainedby forage and when, if a long siege should be necessary, the armies might sit down before a city with the prospect of advancingsummer and ripening harvests. It was agreat occasion. For otherwise, how is it that he sent all Israel with Joab? A great war had been provoked and most importantinterests were at stake. This makes it the less excusable on the part of the king, that he should, when his presence was especiallynecessary, absent himselffrom his proper post.
Nor do we think that State affairs needed his presence in Jerusalem. No rebellions were hatching. The whole land was quietand all the tribes voluntarily submitted themselves to his sway. It does not seem, from the context, that David was at alloccupied with State cares. For you find that he risesfrom his bed at eventide. Contrary to the hardier custom to which he had accustomed himself in his earlier days, after hisnoontide meal he laid himself down and slept till the sun was setting. And when he arose, it was not to succor the poor, orto dispense justice, but to take astroll on the housetop.
And then, being idle, having put his armor off, the arrow smote him-having nothing good to do, the enemy found his awful work.For the Tempter planted straight before his eyes a fair temptation, into which he rushed as a bird to the snare, or as a bullockto the slaughter. Happy would it havebeen for king David had he been in battle. He would not then have known this temptation. Probably if the temptation hadpresented itself, he would have been so occupied with martial cares that he would not have fallen a victim.
Idleness was the mother of the mischief and if you trace it to its source, the foul iniquity that has made the name of Davida special mark for all the Lord's enemies, you will find it had much to do with his not going out to battle when the countryrequired it-when the season commanded itand when no affairs of State justified his absence.
You will readily perceive the subject of my address. First, to the individual Christian. And secondly, to the Church, as Godshall help me. I will utter warnings against that deadly lethargy which is so apt to steal over us, putting us into a positionto be readily assailable by temptation, yes,and to be easily overcome by it, too.
I. To you, BROTHER IN CHRIST, I SPEAK PERSONALLY.
1. Let me direct your special attention to the season at which this temptation to idleness came upon David. Brethren, Davidnever refused to go forth to battle while he was harassed by his adversary Saul. So long as he is hunted like a partridgeupon the mountains, David's character is spotless andhis zeal is unrivalled. In his religion there was an intensity of energy, so long as in his life there was an intensityof adversity.
But now an hour of trial is at hand, Saul is dead and the last of his race sits as a humble pensioner at David's table. Theson of Jesse is no more obliged to frequent the tracks of the wild goats, or to hide himself among the glooms of
Engedi. His great adversary has long ago fallen by the arrows of the Philistines upon the mountains of Gilboa. But a stealthierfoe is lurking in ambush-woe to you, David, if he overcomes you!
Ah, Christian, it is a dangerous time to you when temptation has ceased to harass you, when Satan has left you in peace, andwhen you have placed your foot on your adversary's neck. When the storm has hushed itself to sleep, when a dead calm takesthe place of the awful hurricane, it is then youhave need to look well to it, for then your soul may lose its former strength and watchfulness and you may decline intoindifference and Laodicean lukewarmness. While the devil assails you on the right hand and on the left, you will hardly beable to rest upon the couch of carnalsecurity.
The dog of Hell, by barking in your ears, keeps you awake. But when he shall cease his howling, your eyelids will grow heavy,unless Divine Grace prevents it. When you are no more driven to your knees by furious assaults from Hell, you may experiencethe still more terrible trials of the enchantedground and you will have good cause to cry out, "Lord let me not sleep as do others, but let me watch and be sober." Yetagain, David at this time had obtained the crown and it was sitting softly and securely upon his head.
Dear Friends, far from depreciating the full assurance of faith, we know that it is our strength and our joy. But there isa temptation connected with it. The Christian is apt to say, "Now I am saved, I have no doubt about it. For the crown of mysalvation encircles my head right royally."Believer, be on your watchtower, for the next temptation will be, "Soul, take your ease. The work is done. You have attained.Now fold your arms and sit still. All will end well, why do you need to vex yourself?" Take care of the seasons when you haveno doubts." "Let him thatthinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
"I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong-you did hide Your face andI was troubled." Bless God for full assurance. But, remember, nothing but careful walking can preserve it. Full assuranceis a priceless pearl. But when a man has aprecious jewel, and he walks the streets, he ought to be much afraid of pickpockets. When the Christian has full assurancelet him be assured that all the devils in Hell will try to rob him of it. Let him be more upon his watchtower than he wasbefore. This is the temptation ofassured Believers-to sit down upon the throne and say-"I shall I sit in my glory forever and see no sorrow. I need no morego forth to fight the Lord's battles."
Yet further-it appears that at this time David was at the height of his prosperity. He had attained to about fifty years ofage. The year of his jubilee was come and everything went on jubilantly. Wherever he turned his hand, he prospered. "Moabis my wash pot; over Edom will I cast out myshoe; over Philistia will I triumph." He could boast exceedingly, for God was with him in all his ways. Ah, dear Friends,when a Christian prospers, it is an ill time for him, unless he is on his watchtower.
"In all time of our wealth, good Lord deliver us." When a man is poor, when he is sick, when he is tried in his estate, hehas need of Divine Grace. But when he is rich, when his business succeeds and he and his family are in good health and allis well, he has need of Grace upon Grace. It is hardstanding in high places. The brain grows dizzy with looking down. It is not easy to carry a full cup with a steady hand.Smooth places are slippery places. Let us beware, lest when we get full, Jeshurun waxes fat and kicks against the Lord.
Summer weather breeds flies. Fair weather in the soul brings out the evils and mischiefs of our nature. Heat hatches the cockatriceeggs and the heat of prosperity often brings out the young serpents of sin. See to it, lest, like David, you refuse to goforth to battle because you are prospering inthe world.
To complete the tragedy, David had now the opportunity of indulging himself in all the luxuries of life. He had a palace withall the accompaniments of oriental magnificence. He was no more the humble shepherd eating a crust from his wallet-no morethe chieftain of an outlawed clan, dependingupon such churlish husbandmen as Nabal for temporary assistance. The fat of the land was his, the vintage of Ephraim, thecorn of Judah, and the dainties brought from afar, from Tyre and Sidon-all were his.
He could be clothed in scarlet and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day-then it was that his soul grew lean, while theflesh was pampered. Fat steeds sometimes will not work. Birds too well fed refuse to sing. And so does it happen when theriches of the earth are ours freely to enjoy,and the blessings of Divine Providence are poured out of the cornucopia of Divine munificence, that we refuse to do theLord's work, and, like David, go not out to battle.
Dear Friends, I know that my sermon is pertinent to some of you. I would that I could portray the individuals so clearly thatthey could not allot to others the rebuke intended for themselves. It is a well known fact that when some people get richin gold they grow poor in grace. They rise in theeyes of the world and sink in the esteem of their heavenly Lord. Things which Believers were glad to undertake when theywere little in Israel, they cannot look upon when they have grown great among the inhabitants of Zion. Certain folks, whenthey can keep a carriage, are ashamedto frequent the meeting house. They must go to some more respectable place of worship.
The Truth of God was respectable enough for them when they loved it-but now they love the honor of men more than Christ. Theycan hoodwink their consciences and unite with worldly Churches, who love architecture, scholarship and pomp, more than theTruth of God and holiness. "God grant," saidone of Wesley's followers, "that the Methodists may never grow rich." And I think I might well say, God grant the Baptistsnever may. O Lord, give them neither poverty nor riches but especially let them not grow too respectable to associate withthe poor of the land!
Why, there are some of you who, when you joined this Church, were as earnest as you could be-and where are you now? Thereare some that were prominent in the prayer meeting-how often do we see them now? Are there not many among us as miserly towardsthe Lord's cause as if they did notcare a rush for it? You will say I am personal. Brethren, I mean to be and want to be. And if you feel that this is yourcase, instead of being offended at the honest rebuke now offered to you, solemnly thank God that it comes home to you!
Earnestly retrace your steps, be no more sluggish and sleepy but for the sake of Him who loves you with an everlasting love,once more cast your souls into His cause and go forth to fight your Lord's battles. Away with your downy dozing and comfortableslumbers. Lord, arouse us by a thunderboltfrom Heaven! When Christians have learned the doctrine but begin to forget the practice, when they have a little smatteringof experience and think they are the men and wisdom shall die with them-when they despise the broken-hearted and timid-thereis but a step betweenthem and a fall.
Oh, you who are in such a condition, I solemnly warn you. I sound this day an alarm in Zion. Arise! Arise, you slum-berersupon your soft couches, for if you slumber now, you shall one day awake and find yourselves upon the verge of destructionand only the Sovereign Grace of God shall bring youback as David was brought back, and restore you once again to the right way, to journey with broken bones to your tomb,sorrowing because of your sin.
2. Observe, my Brethren, that there are certain tendencies abroad which will co-operate with the dangers of the occasion,and unless the Christian is very watchful, will lead him into David's vice of slothfulness. Brethren, what would the fleshdo with some of us but make us, if we would let ithave its way, as idle as Solomon's sluggard? I do confess, there is, perhaps, no man living that has a stronger temptationto sheer idleness than myself, although I am no boaster when I say I labor as hard as any man in either hemisphere.
Alas, for this body of sin and death, it is hard for a man to serve the Lord aright while imprisoned in it. Brethren, youwill find that not only the mere flesh, but the lusting of the mind will naturally lead you to be cold in Christ's work. Enthusiasmis not the tendency of Englishmen in mattersof religion. Only the Spirit of God can give the tongue of fire, and the rushing mighty wind to the assembled disciples.The flesh lusts continually towards inaction. The inertia of matter reaches its height in the corruption of humanity.
We lift up our souls unto God but we fall down again to the earth, for our nature has in it more of the sinking of a millstonethan the mounting of an eagle. Well does Watts put it-
"Look, how we grovel here below, fond of these trifling toys- Our souls can neither fly nor go to reach eternal joys." Brethren,your unmortified flesh will make you idle enough, without any other tempter.
Then there is Satan. He will take care to sing your lullaby and rock your cradle if you want to sleep, for he loves not tosee God's warriors on the alert. While they are all asleep, he knows the war will not go on very briskly. An army dosed withchloroform would be quite as useless as if theywere chained and manacled. While swords sleep in scabbards, no foe needs dread them. Ah, my fellow Soldiers, this is a greatartifice of Satan, and one of his craftiest devices to lull us all into a deep sleep.
Besides, you will find the world has a great tendency to make you cold and dead. What do you feel, Brethren, after some fewhours of intermeddling with business? Is not this vain world a foe to Divine Grace? Unless you are very spiritu- ally minded,do you not find that the world has adown-dragging tendency? I ask the workers, the merchants, the thinkers-do you not find that secular occupations, unlessyou are exceedingly careful in consecrating them to God-have a tendency to stain the garments of your priesthood and bringyou down from your highstanding?
The world is to the Christian an ice house and he a tender plant that has been the gardener's special care. I would give nothingfor that Christian who loves to be in worldly company. I think if any man can find himself quite at home with ungodly persons,he must be one of them. And if even withmerely moral persons he can find a settled rest, surely there can be nothing of the high and aspiring nature within himthat belongs to the true-born heir of Heaven.
But, Brethren, I am sorry to have to add one more thing. Even association with some portions of the Church of God, in itspresent state, may cool the ardor of piety. Ecclesiastical lethargy is perhaps one of the greatest stumbling blocks to youngBelievers. I am not staggered by the world'sindifference to religion, for I can understand it-but the indifference of the Church to the progress of Jesus' kingdom isan enigma which one cannot solve. Many a young enthusiastic Christian has had the noble spirit of Christ all but crushed outof him by seeing the dullnessand deadness of older saints, who seemed to be pillars in the temple of God.
Oh, have we not heard our young Davids saying concerning our foes, "Who is this Philistine? I will go against him and smiteoff his head"? But a veteran Eliab in the Church has said, "Because of the pride and the naughtiness of your heart is whyyou have come to see the battle." When he is broughtbefore a Saul-like minister, he says, "Well, young man, you are enthusiastic, you must not attempt to do the Lord's workby simple faith, you must put this helmet on and carry this spear, you must wear this leg armor of brass."
And the poor young man, with almost enthusiasm enough in him to melt the armor off his back, has to go out to sure defeat,wearing untried weapons which prove his ruin. Oh, give us back the glorious days when the Church was a pillar of fire andwhen every new member was a new coal added to theglowing mass! Give us back even the stakes of Smithfield, if we might have the fiery energy of the first Reformers! Visitus anew with persecution, if we can but renew the diligent prosecution of the ends and aims of the Church of Christ! Let ourfoes grow angry if we may but growzealous.
3. To pass on rapidly to the third point. What happened through David's tarrying at home? Some men think it a small thingto be doing nothing for Christ. It is a great thing and will be a damnable thing, unless God gives you repentance. What happened,I say, to David? Why, now that he was tarryingat home and giving himself up to sloth, he was losing his usefulness and honor by no more fighting the Lord's battles. Nomore triumphs were being written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. And even Joab had to send for him tocome in at the end of the fray to takethe city, lest it should be called by Joab's name.
Is it a little thing for a follower of Christ to be losing the immortal honor of serving the Lord? What will not men do towin fame? And shall we, when it lies at our doors, turn aside to our beds of ease and cast our glory to the grooms? Let usbe up and doing-for it is no light thing for afaithful servant of Christ to be losing the honor of serving his Master.
David lost his communion and joy. A man cannot be idle and yet have Christ's sweet company. Christ is a quick walker and whenHis people would talk with Him they must travel quickly, too, or else they will soon lose His company. Christ, my Master,goes about doing good and if you would walk withHim you must go about upon the same mission. The Almighty lover of the souls of men is not likely to keep company with idlepersons. I find in Scripture that most of the great appearances that were made to eminent saints were made when they werebusy.
Moses kept his father's flock when he saw the burning bush. Joshua is going round about the city of Jericho when he meetsthe Angel of the Lord. Jacob is in prayer and the Angel of God appears to him. Gideon is threshing and Elisha is plowing,when the Lord calls them. Matthew is in the receipt ofcustoms when he is bid to follow Jesus-James and John are fishing. The manna which the children of Israel kept till morningbred worms and stank-idle grace would soon become active corruption.
Moreover, sloth hardens the conscience-laziness is one of the irons with which the heart is seared. Abimelech hired vain andlight persons to serve his turn, and the Prince of Darkness does the same. Oh, Friends, it is a sad thing to rust the edgeoff from one's mind and to lose keenness ofmoral perception! But sloth will surely do this for us. David felt the emasculating power of sloth. He was losing the forceof his conscience and was ready for anything. The worst is near at hand.
He walks upon the housetop and sees the object which excites his lust. He sends for the woman, the deed is done. It leadsto another crime, he tempts Uriah. It leads to murder-Uriah is put to death. And he takes Uriah's wife. Ah, David! Ah, David!How are the mighty fallen! How is the Princeof Israel fallen and become like the lewd fellows who riot in the evening! From this day forth his sunshine turns to clouds,his peace gives place to suffering, and he goes to his grave an afflicted and troubled man, who, though he could say, "Godhas made with me an EverlastingCovenant," yet had to precede it with that very significant sentence, "Although my house is not so with God."
Dear Friends, is there anyone here among the Lord's people who would crucify the Lord afresh and put Him to an open shame?Is there anyone among you that would wish to sell your Master, as Judas did, or turn aside from Christ with Demas? It is easyto do. Oh, you say, you could not do it. Now,perhaps you could not. Get slothful. Do not fight the Lord's battles-and it will become not only easy for you to sin, butyou will surely become its victim. Oh, how Satan delights to make God's people fall into sin! For then he does, as it were,thrust another nail into thebloody hand of Christ.
Then he does stain the fair white linen of Christ's own garment. Then he vaunts himself that he has gotten a victory overthe Lord Jesus and has led one of the Master's favorites captive at his will! Oh, if we would not thus make Hell ring withSatanic laughter and make the men of God weep becausethe cedars of Lebanon are cut down, let us watch unto prayer and be diligent in our Master's business, "fervent in spirit,serving the Lord."
My dear Friends, we do not exhort you to serve Christ, to be saved by it. David was saved. I only speak to you who are saved,and I beg and beseech you to take notice of David's fall-and of the sloth that was at the beginning of it-as a warning toyourselves. Some temptations come tothe industrious but all temptations attack the idle. Notice the invention used by country people to catch wasps. They willput a little sweet liquor into a long and narrow-necked phial. The do-nothing wasp comes by, smells the sweet liquor, plungesin and is drowned.
But the bee comes by, and if she does stop for a moment to smell, yet she enters not, because she has honey of her own tomake. She is too busy in the work of the commonwealth to indulge herself with the tempting sweets. Master Green-ham, a PuritanDivine, was once waited upon by a woman who wasgreatly tempted. Upon making enquiries into her way of life, he found she had little to do, and Greenham said, "That isthe secret of your being so much tempted. Sister, if you are very busy, Satan may tempt you, but he will not easily prevail,and he will soon give up the attempt."
Idle Christians are not tempted of the devil so much as they do tempt the devil to tempt them. Idleness sets the door of theheart ajar and asks Satan to come in. But if we are occupied from morning till night, if Satan shall get in, he must breakthrough the door. Under Sovereign Grace and next tofaith, there is no better shield against temptation than being, "Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving theLord." And, dear Friends, let me remind those of you who are doing little for Christ, that once you were not so cold as this.
There was a time with David when the sound of the clarion of war would have stirred his blood and he would have been eagerfor the fray. There was a day when the very sight of Israel marshaled in goodly phalanx would have made David bold as a lion.Oh, it is an ill thing to see the lion changedlike this! God's hero stays at home with the women! There was a time when you would have gone over hedge and ditch to heara sermon and never minded standing in the aisles. But now the sermons are tedious to some of you, although you have soft cushionsto sit upon.
Then if there was a cottage meeting, or a street preaching, you were there. "Ah," you say, "that was wildfire." Blessed wildfire!The Lord give you the wildfire back again. For even if it is wildfire, better wildfire than no fire at all- better be calleda fanatic than deserve to be called adrone in Christ's hive. Those of you who do very little for your Mas-ter-and there are a few such in this Church, who grudgeto give of their substance-let me say to you, Are you not ashamed to see how the Lord's other servants serve Him? When Uriahsaid to David, "Theark, and Israel, and Judah abide in tents. And my lord Joab and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields.Shall I then go into my house, to eat and to drink? As you live and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing." When hesaid that, methinks the king must havefelt very uneasy in his luxurious sloth.
What do you say to this, some of you? You, who were once the chief of sinners, are now saved by Divine Grace. You have hadhigh privileges, great tastes of love, near fellowship with Him-you are His own elect, anointed, taken up from the dunghilland made to sit among princes! And yet you aredoing next to nothing for Christ. Oh, dear Friends, I would not so much bid you to think over these things, as beseech theHoly Spirit to lay these matters to your hearts-that you may not sleep any longer-but being of the day, may do the day's work,till the day shallend!
II. I shall occupy but a few minutes more, while I endeavor to speak of the text as it refers to THE WHOLE CHURCH. For I thinkit has a loud voice to the whole of us as a community. Strangers and members of other Churches must kindly forget that theyare here. I am not about to speak to them but Iam about to speak to you-the two thousand members of this Church under my care, to whom I am bound most of all to speakpersonally and faithfully.
My dear Friends, it does seem to me that to us as a Church the temptation to sloth is very likely to come, for we are verymuch in the same condition as David. Our enemies do not harass us so much as they once did. When the Parliament is over, weshall have certain newspapers abusing us again, forwhen they have nothing else to say, they fill up with abusing us. But there was a time when we had no friends. We look backsome eight years ago, when the Church of Christ was very shy of us-we were innovators, preaching in those wicked music halls.
It was such a very awful thing to preach the Gospel where people would come to hear it! It was going contrary to the customsof the Christian Church to carry the Gospel to poor sinners. And good people, holy people, and godly people, thought we weresinners above all sinners on earth. And if anaccident did occur, if the tower of Siloam fell, how plainly were we told that we deserved the catastrophe. Then there weresneers everywhere, caricatures, jeers, jibes of all sorts- and you all had to suffer, each your share, with your leader.
To a great extent that is over. The clergy of the Church of England do now what it was once infamous for us to do. Now thetheater hears the voice of Christ. Now the cathedrals echo with the holy hymn-blessed be God for all this! We enjoy a degreeof peacefulness and have not now all theworld against us, as once we had. Now we shall be tempted to fold our arms and say, Let us subside into the easy respectabilityof other congregations and let it be well with us.
During all the time God has been pleased to favor us with profound peace in the Church. We have been disturbed by no wordof ill-doctrine, by no uprising of heretics in our midst, or any separations or divisions. This is a blessed thing- but stillSatan may make it a dangerous matter. We maybegin to think that there is no need for us to watch, that we shall always be as we are. And deacons and elders, and pastorand Church members, may all cease their vigilance-and then the root of bitterness may spring up in the neglected corner tillit gets too deeply rootedfor us to tear it up again.
We have accomplished, as a Church, and by God's Divine Grace, the great work which we set for ourselves-the building of thisHouse of Prayer. And now we come to our place in our loved House of Prayer and feel the Master's presence with us. But withouta grand object before our eyesimperatively demanding self-sacrifice from each one of us, as this object did-without some enterprise which we can all layhold of and feel that we could give our last shilling to carry it out successfully-we are apt to grow rusty.
We will be tempted to lean upon our weapons instead of using them, and to withdraw from the Lord's host instead of rushingon to battle with the shout of men who mean to win the victory. Ah, give us back again all the noise and the confusion andthe strife! Let us have once more the coldness andthe harshness and evil speaking of the entire Church of God, if we may but have our early enthusiasm and earnestness forChrist. Our work of educating men for the ministry may supply the object for our zeal-may the Lord give zeal for the object!
Dear Friends, let me say solemnly, there are many tendencies to make this Church sleep. We come frequently into contact withprofessed Believers who will throw cold water upon every effort-who think doing anything for Christ a work of supererogation.And there is a tendency in us to go withthem and to say, "Let it be so. Let us be quiet." It is almost necessary for the Church that, at least once in a hundredyears, there should arise in it some new body of enthusiasts. For the old Churches, though noble at the start, like all humanthings, flag before long.
Why, Methodism, though still most powerful, has nothing like the fire it had in Wesley's and Whitfield's time. It is now nomore like a great volcano sending up torrents of holy fire to Heaven in prayer and sending down streams of all-consuming lavainto the plains of sin. It has grown respectableand learned and fine. So with each of the Churches. Do they not all degenerate? No matter whether it is England, America,France, Switzerland-wherever it may be, there is a down-drawing tendency constantly at work. And unless God the Holy Spiritcomes in with irresistiblemight, we shall as a Church succumb to general lethargy and yield ourselves to apathy.
What shall we do, as a Church, then? Let us take heed to our footsteps, everyone of us, and be doubly careful-let us meettogether in greater numbers for prayer. Let each man feel more and more his individual responsibility to Christ. Let us weighthe awful necessities of this huge city. Letus put out every energy and use every agency that can possibly be employed for the regeneration of this dark, dark land.
If we grow idle. If the Church of Christ universally shall grow idle, we cannot expect that our enemies will be idle, too.Once the Light said to the Darkness, "I am growing weary with shooting my arrows every morning at you, O Darkness! I am wearywith pursuing you around the globe continually. Iwill retire, if you will." But the Darkness said, "No, it is of necessity that if you yield your dominion I shall take it.There can be no truce between you and me."
Friends, I might address the members of this Church as it is said an old Scotch Commander once addressed his soldiers whenhe saw the enemy coming. This was his brief, terse speech-"Lads," said he, "there they are, and if you dinna kill them theywill kill you." Look, members of the Church.If you do not put down lethargy and sloth, if you strive not against Popery, infidelity and Sin, they will put you down.There is no other alternative. To conquer or to die. To live and to be glorious. Or to fall ignobly.
Look! Jehovah lifts His banner before our eyes today! Rally! Rally! Rally, you soldiers of the Cross! The trumpet sounds exceedinglyloud and long today. And the Hell drum on the other side sounds, too. Who dares to hesitate? Let him be accursed. "Curse you,Meroz, curse you, Meroz," says the Lord,"curse you bitterly the inhabitants thereof, if they come not up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord againstthe mighty. He that is not with Me is against Me. He that gathers not with Me scatters abroad."
Away with you, you indifferent ones! Know you not you are either on Christ's side or else you are His adversaries? On! Thecharge comes-forward, heroes of Heaven! What shall become of those who are midway between the two armies? Over you, over you-troopsshall trample on your bodies!You shall be the first to be cut in pieces-O you indifferent ones-who are neither this nor that! And then shall come theshock and then the charge. And as in that conflict you shall have no portion, so in that great triumph which shall surelyfollow, you shall have noshare.
I will give way to my friend, Mr. D'Aubigne, who will address you for a few minutes, when I have simply reminded those whoare not in Christ's army, that with them there is something to come before service, "Except you repent and are converted,you shall in no wise enter into the kingdom ofHeaven." The door to that kingdom is Christ-trust Him and you are saved. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shallbe saved and your house."
My dear Friend, Dr. D'Aubigne, is here this morning, having been called by the Bishop of London, according to the order ofour Beloved Queen, to preach in the Royal Chapel of St. James. In a kind note with which he favored me last week, he expresseda desire publicly to show his hearty fellowshipwith his Brethren of the Free Churches of England and I am delighted to welcome him in the Tabernacle this morning-in thename of this Church, and I may venture to add, in the name of all the Free Churches of England. May the Historian of the Reformationcontinue to be honoredof the Lord his God!
DR. MERLE D'AUBIGNE-I do not speak your tongue, my dear Friends-I speak it very badly but I will do what I can to make myselfunderstood. When I heard your dear pastor reading to us the 16th chapter of the Romans, I remembered those words which wefind very often in the Epistles ofPaul-"Love to the saints," and "Faith in the Lord." In the 16th chapter we find a beautiful exhibition of the love to thesaints, the children of God.
We see it was written from the Church of Corinth, in Greece, to the Church of Rome. Observe how many Christians that Churchof Corinth and the Apostle knew at Rome! We have a long catalog of names-Priscilla, Aquila, Andronicus and others. I mustconfess, my dear Friends, to my shame, that inthis great assembly I know only two or three names. I know the name of our dear Friend, Mr. Spurgeon. I know the name butnot the person, of Mr. North, upon my left, and I know the name of the friend who has received me in your great city, Mr.Kinnaird, "Gaius, my host," as theApostle says.
But in this great assembly of six thousand men and women and I hope Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I do not know anothername. Well, my dear Friends, I would ask you, do you know the names of many Christians in Geneva? You do not know perhapsthree, perhaps two, perhaps one. Now, that is to me ademonstration that fraternity, or brotherly love, is not so intense in our time as it was in the time of the Apostles. Inthe first century, for a man to give his name to the Lord was to expose himself to martyrdom.
And Christians in that time formed only one household in the whole world, in Europe, Asia and Africa. Let us remember that,and may we, by the Holy Spirit, say that we who have been baptized with the blood and the Spirit of the Lord, have only oneFather, one Savior, one Spirit, one faith-andwe are only one house, the house of the living God, the house of Christ, one house of the Holy Spirit in the whole world.Not only in Europe, Asia, and Africa, but in America, in Australia, one house, one family. Oh, my dear Brethren, let us growin the love to the Brethren!
Then there is another thing, faith-faith in the Lord Jesus. There can be no love to the saved and the redeemed, if there isno true living faith and hope in the Savior and the Redeemer. Well, I suppose all of you in this great meeting would say,"We believe in the Lord, we have faith in Him."Yes, but that faith must be sincere, must be living, must come from the heart. I will tell you one word from Rome. Probablyall these friends sent some words to the Apostle, but I will tell you one word that was said once in Rome, not at the timeof Paul but at the time of ourblessed Reformation.
There was in the latter part of the sixteenth century, a man in Italy, who was a child of God, taught by the Spirit. His namewas Aonio Paleario. He had written a book called, "The Benefit of Christ's Death." That book was destroyed in Italy, and forthree centuries it was not possible to find acopy. But two or three years ago, an Italian copy was found, I believe, in one of your libraries at Cambridge or Oxfordand it has been printed again. It is perhaps singular, but this man did not, as he ought to have done, leave the Romish Church.But his whole heart was given toChrist.
He was brought before the judge in Rome by order of the pope. The judge said, "We will put to him three questions. We willask him what is the first cause of salvation, then what is the second cause of salvation, then what is the third cause ofsalvation." They thought that in putting these threequestions, he would at last be made to say something which should be to the glory of the Church of Rome. They asked him,"What is the first cause of salvation?" And he answered, "Christ.''" They then asked him, "What is the second cause of salvation?"And he answered, "CHRIST."
And they asked him the third time, "What is the third cause of salvation?" and he answered, "CHRIST." They thought he wouldhave said, first, Christ. Secondly, the Word. Thirdly, the Church. But no, he said, "Christ." The first cause, Christ. Thesecond, Christ. The third, Christ. And for thatconfession which he made in Rome, he was condemned to be put to death as a martyr. My dear Friends, let us think and speaklike that man. Let everyone of us say, "The first cause of my salvation is Christ. The second is Christ. The third is Christ.Christ and His atoning blood,Christ and His powerful regenerating Spirit, Christ and His eternal electing Grace, Christ is my only salvation, I knowof nothing else."
Dear Friends, we find in the Epistle to the Romans these words-"The whole Church salutes you." I have no official charge butI may in a Christian and fraternal spirit say to you, the Geneva Church, the Church in Geneva salutes you. And I would say,the whole Continental Church salutes you,for we know you, and we love you and the dear minister God has given you. Now we ask from you love towards us. We do whatwe can in that dark Continent to bring forward the light of Jesus Christ.
In Geneva we have an Evangelical Society which has that work before it and in other places we are also laboring. We ask forour work an interest in your prayers, for the work is hard among the Roman Catholics and the infidels of the Continent. Butas our Brother, in the beginning of the service,reminded you-from the little town of Geneva light came, by the Grace of the Spirit, to many nations and especially to Englandand Scotland, by the ministry of John Calvin, our Reformer.
I may mention to you that upon the tri-centenary anniversary of the death of Calvin, which will take place in two years, onthe 27th of May, 1864, we desire to erect in Geneva a monument to the blessed Reformation and to the Reformer who has beenthe instrument of God in promoting the truedoctrine, not only in Geneva, but in a great many countries. And I ask also your interest in that work and in that spotwhich has been blessed since the 16th century, for Switzerland, for France, for the Netherlands, for Germany, for England,for Scotland, and is now blessed for theUnited States and for the ends of the earth. I beg of you, dear Friends, your deep interest and your earnest prayers forus. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen.