Sermon 452. The Lord'S Care Of His People
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY EVENING, APRIL 27, 1862, BY REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"He that touches you, touches the apple of My eye." Zechariah 2:8. GOD'S love to His ancient people is the theme of many a Psalm and deserves to be rehearsed in the ears of every generation.Abraham was by nature as a rough unhewn stone, but the Lord who chose him in the quarry, having hewn him from the rock, madehim a polished pillar, a monument of Divine faithfulness. The Lord set His love upon him while he was a Syrian ready to perish.He brought him out of the land of his nativity and called him from his father's house. Having made a Covenant with the solitary man, He multiplied his seed until they became as plentiful as the stars of Heaven.The kindness which God showed towards Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He retained towards His chosen people, who sprang of theirloins. Even when to all appearance He had deserted them, His face was towards them for good. If He sent a famine and brokethe staff of life, He provided seven years of plenty in Egypt, that the storehouses of Pharaoh might be full for their sakes. If the Egyptians heavily oppressed them, then all the powers of nature were put out of their accustomed pathway to emancipatethem from the house of bondage. When He had brought them out into the howling wilderness, His path dropped fatness, the heavensrained forth bread, and the rocks flowed with rivers. He made men to eat angels' food. He carried them as on eagles' wings.He could truly say, "I shod you with badgers' skin and I girded you about with fine linen."
He made His Jeshurun to ride upon the high places of the earth and fed His Israel with royal dainties, "butter of kine andmilk of sheep, with fat of lambs and rams of the breed of Bashan and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat." Wherever theywent, their foes fled before them-Amalek wasput to confusion before the people of the Lord. Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan, felt the terror of theirarm. Even the false prophet, as he looked from the mountain's brow upon them, could only say, "Happy are you, O Israel: whois like unto you, O people savedby the Lord, the shield of your help and who is the sword of your excellency? Your enemies shall be found liars unto you.And you shall tread upon their high places."
In due time He brought this people into the best spot of land which the earth knew-a country which indolence and tyranny haverendered barren, but which anciently overflowed with superabundant fertility. He brought them to a land of hills and valleys,of springs and rivers-a land out ofwhose heart they might take iron and copper and treasures in abundance. He established them in a land which flowed withmilk and honey, so fertile that even its spontaneous productions, as exampled in the grapes of Eshcol, rivaled the productsof the choicest husbandry.
Having brought them into this goodly heritage, He drove out the former inhabitants that He might plant His people and makethem dwell in safety alone. How gracious He was to them in the days of Joshua and in the years which followed! When He mappedout their lots according to their tribes, Herejoiced to dwell in the midst of them. He had His tabernacle in Shiloh and His dwelling place in Zion. He showed not Himselfunto other people but only unto this nation upon which His heart was set. He chastened them but He raised up judges for theirdeliverance.
At last He gave them a king in His anger and took him away in His wrath. But He sent unto them David-a man after His own heart,before whom their enemies were rooted out and the nobles among their persecutors were made like Zebah and Zalmunna who fellby the hand of Gideon. Greatly He blessedthe nation under David and his immediate successors! Everything in the neighboring countries was ordered only to bring peaceand prosperity to the chosen land- Your land, O God, which You have overshadowed with Your wings.
Oftentimes they provoked Him but His anger waxed not hot against them. When He lifted up His rod, His strokes were few andHe repented of the evil which He did unto them. At last, when they became incorrigible in their sins and made their browslike flint and their hearts like adamant, for a seasonHe gave them up to captivity. They were taken to Assyria, they were carried away to the rivers of Babylon. The days of theirbanishment were many and they wept in the bitterness of their soul. Still, even in their captivity He loved them.
When they had forgotten Him, He had not forgotten them and in due time He brought them up again out of the house of theirbondage, once more to set them in their land. It was about this time when He would give to His people a fresh deliverance,as memorable as the coming out of Egypt, thatZechariah testified, "he that touches you, touches the apple of My eye." As much as to say, "I smite you, but I hate thenation that oppresses you. I take the axe to cut down your stubborn pride but lo, I will break the axe to shivers. I sendagainst you the executioners of My angerbut I will surely punish them, also, for the evil which they have done. He that touches you-even though I am the great firstcause of the terrible onslaught upon you-'he that touches you, touches the apple of My eye,' and I will be avenged on himin the day of My wrath."
Thus introduced, the text seems to teach us three lessons, upon which we shall speak briefly and God grant it may be to youredification. It tells us, first of all, God's esteem of His people. Secondly, danger much surrounds persecutors. And, thirdly,the safety of the Church of God. For it may bewell to remind you that the Jewish nation was a type of the Church of Christ.
I. First, then, our text teaches us GOD'S ESTEEM OF HIS PEOPLE. He esteems them as much as men value their eyesight and isas careful to protect them from injury, as men are to protect the apple of their eye. The pupil of the eye is the most tenderpart of the most tender organ and very fitly setsforth the inexpressible tenderness of God's love. As Calvin remarks, "There is nothing more delicate or more tender thanthe eye in the body of a man. For were one to bite my finger or prick my arm or my legs, or even severely to wound me, I shouldfeel no such pain as by having thepupil of my eye injured."
Behold, then, Beloved, a mystery of loving kindness and affection. The Lord sits upon the circle of the earth and the inhabitantsthere are as grasshoppers, the nations are as a drop in a bucket and are counted as the small dust of the balance-how marvelousthat He has thoughts of everlastinglove towards such worthless things! As we said this morning, it is wonderful that God should even notice such insignificantcreatures as men, that He, in His infiniteness should be able even to discover such delight in this drop of matter which wecall the world.
But that wonder is totally eclipsed by another, namely, that God should love such utterly worthless, as well as insignificantcreatures. Oh, Great One, when You did give Your heart, were there not some creatures worthy of it? No! There could be none,for even Gabriel himself was not fit to matchthe eternal God. The cherubim and seraphim, the presence angels that stand before God as His holy servitors forever, whatwere they? They were not pure in His sight and He charged His angels with folly. The noble created intelligences are so farinferior to our God, that only bywondrous condescension could He love them.
O God, how is it that You could have chosen the debased, depraved, rebellious, hard-hearted creature called man? Why did Youlook upon such an one and bring him into Your favor? What is man, that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that Youvisit him? This enquiry we cannot answer andtherefore, no more curious to solve this mystery, we will weave it into our everlasting song, and we will sing of Your SovereignGrace before Your throne forever. 'Twas of Your Divine Grace, of Your own will and good pleasure, that You have lifted usup from the dunghill and made usto sit among princes.
It is not for us to know why the Lord has His people so highly in estimation, for we cannot search to the bottom of this Divinemystery. But, Brethren, God's love, which at first came to [See No. 447 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit] us freely, has soennobled us in Christ, that God's present esteemof us in Jesus is not without reason and justification. Love without cause has now imparted and imputed such lovelinessto its objects, that in Christ they are fitting subjects for love's embrace.
Know you not that the saints are the masterpieces of His workmanship? God has shown His wisdom in balancing the clouds andguiding the stars in their orbits. Infinite wisdom is discoverable in every flower and in every living thing. But the wisdomand the skill of God are far more clearly to beseen in the Believer than in any other work of the Divine hand. Man, born the first time, was fearfully and wonderfullymade, but newly-created and regenerated, he is far more full of marvels than he was before.
Therefore, because of the Divine skill which has been shown in our re-creation, well may we be the objects of Divine care.When Bernard Palissy had, after long struggles, invented that valuable ware which still remains unmatched, we can supposethat, if a person had entered his room and brokenthose invaluable dishes, which were worth their weight in gold, he would have said, "I had sooner that you had burnt myhouse, or that you had maimed my person, than break these things which have cost me so much thought, so many trials in thefurnace and so much daily watching andnightly care."
When the poor man had pulled up the very floor of his room, to heat the furnace for the last time, before he saw the preciousstuff come from the crucible, his work must have been dear to him. And when we think that God, our God, has made His peoplethe objects of His eternal thoughts, the trophiesof His noble skill, vessels of honor fit even for the Master's use, it is but little wonder that He should guard them witha jealous care, even as men do the apple of their eye.
Moreover, all the people of God are the object of the dearest purchase that was ever known, since they were redeemed not withcorruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Stand at the foot of Calvary and let thegroans of Christ pierce your heart. Behold Hishead crowned with thorns. Look at His hands and His feet streaming like fountains of blood. Think for a moment of the awfulanguish which His spirit suffered, of the unknown pangs He bore when He redeemed our souls unto God. And you will readilyconclude that love so amazing, whichcould pay a price so stupendous, would not easily loose its hold of that which it has thus purchased unto itself.
We think little of ourselves, when we value ourselves at anything less than the price which Jesus paid. We dishonor the Lordwhich bought us, if we think ourselves only fit to live unto the flesh, and to this poor temporary world. When, indeed, weare fitted for a heavenly world and for most Divinepurposes, seeing that Christ, the Son of the Highest, shed His very heart's blood to redeem us from our sins. Well, I say,may He value highly, those whom He has so dearly bought!
Furthermore, let us remember that to God the Father, the saints are Christ's most tender memorial, monuments of Christ's passionand conflict, the engraved tablets of His death. What is there in Heaven which is the record of the Redeemer's achievement?Yonder spirits before the Truth of God are themonuments of the battle and the victory. What is there to bear witness on earth to what the Lord has accomplished? We whohave by faith believed, are now the living triumphs of His conquest. If you and I had erected a lasting and valuable memorialto some beloved child, we shouldthink it a grievous insult and a serious injury if an adversary should wantonly and wickedly defile it.
And so the Lord looks upon His own people as standing mementoes and He counts it no small sin, no mean offense, for any ofHis adversaries, be they ever so great, to touch His anointed and do harm to His chosen. As obelisks, arches, columns andpillars are raised in commemoration of heroes andtheir glories, even so are the saints the sublime memorials of Jesus. Precious are they for this cause, to the heart ofHim who delights in the honors of His only begotten Son. The hosts of Heaven shall jealously guard these living stones ofmemorial.
Yet more-remember that Christ's people are God's own children and you know how even we, although we are evil, could not standstill to see our children ill-treated. I have heard a man say sometimes, "You may strike me and I will not return the blow.You may even spit in my face and I will putup with the insult. But if you touch my children my blood is in my face, I cannot endure it." Ask a woman what it is thatbrings her mettle up the most-is it not if she sees her little ones ill-treated, or hears a word of false accusation spokenconcerning them?
The God of Heaven and earth will not have the princes of the blood royal ill-used. They who are descended from His loins andare thus the nobles and the peers of the court of Heaven, are not to be trod under the foot of man. God will avenge theirquarrel at last. Surely as the world shall look onChrist, whom they have pierced, and mourn, so shall they look on the injured and persecuted Church and mourn because theydespised the excellent of the earth and threw God's jewels into the mire. They are His children, I say. And therefore He lovesthem.
Look around even to the brute creatures. When we would describe the creature most terrible, we speak of the bear robbed ofher whelps. If you would describe the strong lion when he lashes his sides with fury, is it not when his cubs have been takenaway? Then he rushes to the attack, fearless ofthe spear, and of the hunter, meditating terribly how he may destroy the murderer of the young lion. So shall it be withthe Lord God Omnipotent. His fury shall be kindled against the enemy and He shall tear him in pieces if he touches any ofthe house of Judah, or of the seed ofthe Son of David. The King who is in the midst of them is mighty and He is strong who is their deliverer.
Yet, again, no doubt there is a special reason why God is thus jealous over His people, since he who touches them, does toa certain degree, touch the Person of Christ-the Father's First-Born. Are they not members of His body, of His flesh and ofHis bones? The cry of Christ from Heaven,"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" clearly shows that Christ looks upon the persecution of humble men and women as aninsult to Himself. Should any wound your hand and then say, "I have not injured you." You would reply, "But it is my handand it is so much a part of myself thatI cannot separate myself from the injury."
So is it with Christ. The poorest, mean, most illiterate Christian, is in the close union with the glorious Head of the bodyand it will be at the foeman's eternal hazard if he touch him, since he is part of Christ's mystical body. If you hurt Hispeople willfully, the Son of man will say,"Inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of these, My Brethren, you have done it unto Me," and the recompense shallfollow.
Do you not know that the children of God have a relation towards God the Father, in respect of their being partakers of Hischaracter and dignity? The saints are God's ambassadors. Among all nations an insult offered to an ambassador is an offensewhich cannot be readily wiped out. God'sambassadors to the sons of men are His chosen people. They are Christ's representatives on earth, so far as they live upto their profession. They who are the people of God are the Christs of this generation-anointed of the Lord and sent forthto tell of His love. Their life,if it is as it should be, is the picture of virtue and an example to mankind.
Now the world's hatred to these men is but a part of their hatred to the Most High. They see His image in His servants andwantonly insult it, or contemptuously disregard it. When men oppose the people of God, it is because of their holiness. Ifit could be clearly proved that the world'sopposition to the Church was on account of the Church's inconsistency, then it might be pardonable, or even virtuous. Butwe believe the real reason of the world's enmity is the Church's holiness. Were she not God-like and Divine, she would notbe attacked. If she were not clear asthe sun, fair as the moon, she would not be terrible as an army with banners, nor would the foe go forth in battle to meether.
Well, then, because holiness is insulted in a persecuted saint, because righteousness is itself debased and defamed when therighteous man is slandered and dishonored-the battle is not ours but the Lord's-and He will surely deliver His chosen. BecauseGod espouses the quarrel of thevirtuous, and takes up the gauntlet for the weak who desire to serve Him, therefore be careful, you sons of Ham, you childrenof the persecutor, be careful, for when He fits His arrows to the bow and draws His sword out of the scabbard, it shall goill with you, for He remembers Hispeople and He will avenge His own elect.
II. The second point is THE DANGER OF PERSECUTORS-"He that touches you, touches the apple of My eye." If a man should seekto thrust his finger into our eye with the purpose of destroying our sight, I think we should not deliberate long as to theway in which to treat him. We should take goodcare that at all risks to our antagonist we defended a thing so precious.
Now, when any molest the people of God, they may be certain of this, that God will surely visit them. Therefore let persecutorstake heed how they meddle with God's eyes. According to the learned Blayney, our text may be read, "Whosoever touches you,touches the apple of his own eye." In this sensewe understand the passage as declaring that God shall cause the enemies of His Church to work their own ruin. They shallpull out their eyes by their own fingers.
The visitation of God will surely blast and wither those persecutors who go on in sin. At times it curses in the form of temporaldeath-more often, however, in the form of spiritual hardness of heart. I am not one of those who look upon everything thathappens in this world as being ajudgment from God. If a boat goes down to the bottom of the sea on a Sunday, I do not look upon that as judgment on thosewho are in it, any more than if it had gone to the bottom on a Monday. And though many good people get frightened when theyhear one affirm this doctrine, yet Icannot help their fear, but like my Master, I must tell them that they who perish so are not sinners above all the sinnersthat are in Jerusalem.
I looked the other day at "Fox's Book of Martyrs," and I saw there an illustration of that deeply-rooted mistake of Christianpeople, concerning God's always punishing men's sins in this life. Fox draws a picture of a Popish priest who is insultingthe faith, speaking lightly of the blood of Jesusand exalting the Virgin Mary and he drops down dead in the pulpit. Fox holds him up as a picture of a great sinner who droppeddown dead for speaking lightly of Jesus, and the good man affirms the wicked priest's death to be a judgment from Heaven.
Well, perhaps Fox is correct, but still I do not see the connection between his dropping down dead and the language he employed,for many a preacher who has been exalting Christ has fallen down dead in the pulpit. And happy was it for such a man thathe was engaged in minding his charge at thetime. The fact is, Providence smites good men and bad men, too. And when the storm rages, and the hurricane howls throughthe forest, not only are the brambles and briars shaken and uprooted, but goodly oaks crack and break, too. We are not tolook for God's judgments, except inspecial cases, in this life. His judgment is in the world to come.
Yet there have been some special cases. Look at Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the greatest persecutors that the Israel nationever had-his death was so awful that I should disgust you if I described it. Remember, too, Herod the Great. "The diseaseof which Herod the Great died and the miserywhich he suffered under it, plainly showed that the hand of God was then in a signal manner upon him. For not long afterthe murders at Bethlehem, his distemper," as Josephus informs us, "daily increased in an unheard-of manner. He had a lingeringand wasting fever and grievousulcers in his entrails and heart, a violent colic and insatiable appetite.
"He had a venomous swelling in his feet, convulsions in his nerves, a perpetual asthma and offensive breath. He acquired rottennessin his joints and other members, accompanied with prodigious itching, crawling worms and intolerable smell-so that he wasa perfect hospital of incurabledistempers." The Roman emperor, Julian, a determined enemy of Christianity, was mortally wounded in a war with the Persians.In this condition, we are told, he filled his hand with blood and casting it into the air, said, "O Galilean! You have conquered."
History affords you many such cases. God has seemed to say to His Providence, as David said to Solomon concerning Joab, "Letnot his hoar head go down to the grave in peace." I read the other day a list, I should think, of a hundred of the mightypersecutors-Roman and Grecian and soforth-all of whom came to a most shocking and untimely end. In the face of so many facts, one did feel it fair to draw theinference that, "Bloody and ungodly men shall not live out half their days."
There is a story told of the days of the Cavaliers, when they used to hunt up the Puritans for meeting in the woods, in thefields, or on secluded banks, to worship God. One old man, who was parish constable, was asked to be an informer and huntup a certain meeting in his parish inNorthamptonshire but the old man said "No," he'd have nothing to do with it-not that he liked those people, for he hatedthem. "But," he said, "I should not advise any of you to meddle with any of these people. In the good old days, when Sir Harrywas alive, he hunted them andtook eight troopers with him to harass the Puritans all round this region.
"And," he said, "the old man is dead, six of the soldiers are dead. Some of them were hanged and some of them broke theirnecks. And I myself fell off my horse and broke my collarbone in the act of persecuting them. For my part, I have had warningsenough, and I will never meddle with them again."And I have no doubt that history could tell hundreds of tales of that kind, where God has seemed, at last, to leave offHis general rule of long-suffering and of patience and to give to His foes a blow then and there, for their hectoring andintolerable hunting of His children andharassing them out of the land.
Far oftener, however, the penalty has come in spiritual things. He has left them to wax worse and worse, till they have becomeso hardened in sin that they "breathed out threats against the saints," and licked up the blood of God's children as dogslicked up the blood of Naboth. No sermon has hadpower to move them. No Truth of God could awaken Them. No warnings of Providence could alarm them. No wooing invitationscould win their hearts. They have gone down, down, down a steep descent with their feet slipping in gore-in the red crimsonmire, crimson with blood ofsaints-and in Hell they have lifted up their eyes in torment.
"I'd like," said one old Romanist in the days of Luther, "I'd like to ride up to my horse's bridle in the blood of Lutherans."And he had his wish before long in another way, for in a dreadful bursting of blood-vessels in his own body, he laid welteringin his gore. Not up to his horse's bridle butcovered to his very soul with a suffocation of blood. God has done this, spiritually, to other men. They wanted to slayother men's souls and the blood, as it were, of their own souls has drowned them. They would let off the light, and God hasleft them in darkness. They would throwaway the salt and God has given them up to rot and to become putrid. They slew God's ambassadors and God has proclaimedeternal war against them-a war which rages now and will rage in the world to come.
I do not know whether I happen to have any person here who might be called a persecutor. We do not have much persecution tosuffer now-a-days-at least, it does not come to much. I know that many servants lose their places, many wives are ill-treatedby their husbands-now and then somepoor husbands by their wives. And I know that children have been made wretched by their parents. Ah, but when you put thesethings side by side with Smithfield and the old Lollard's Tower, they come to nothing.
Yet I know that there are many men who only want power and they would be as violent against God's people as ever the tyrantswere in the olden times. Very well, then, as you cannot do what you would do, since you do what you can, God shall visit that,also, upon your head and you shall find thatthe jest and the sneer and the jibe and the slander and the cruel mocking, shall by no means lack their reward.
But I will not dwell upon a point which we care so little to mention. Let us turn, rather, to the last point, upon which Ispeak with brevity.
III. THE SAFETY OF THE CHURCH. "The Church is in danger! The Church is in danger!" Do you believe that, dear Friends? No,it depends upon whose Church it is. But if it is God's Church, all the croakers in the world cannot alarm us, for we believethat God's Church is safe enough, despite everythingthat may be said. "Oh but the Church is in danger from Romanism!" Nonsense! God can keep that in bounds. The dragon wouldhave drowned the woman with the floods of his mouth centuries ago, if the Lord had not secured her from harm forever.
The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church, much less, then, shall the hates of Rome prevail. It is not the Churchof our Lord Jesus Christ that is in danger. Perhaps the fat benefices may be. I will not say anything about that. I do notknow of any particular promise upon whichunscriptural officers and worldly dignitaries can rely, but the Church of God has special security guaranteed by Covenant,by promise and by oath. God is her pledged Preserver, for there is a promise-"I the Lord do keep her. I will water her everymoment: lest any hurt her, Iwill keep her, night and day."
The Church is not in danger, and why? Well, first, the very frame of nature was made to protect her. We take up a chestnutor other seed and we find outside a prickly envelope-then there comes a hard shell, then inside a soft one, and then a film,and then another film and at last, somewherein the center, you get the life-germ. And all the rest was made to exist for a time and to rot and to decay, in order topreserve the life-germ from hurt and to furnish food for it when it began to spring up.
Now, I look upon this great vaulted roof of Heaven and the whole earth as being but the surrounding envelope in which Godhas wrapped up the living seed of His Church. You will have to break the whole constitution of earth before you will be ableto surprise with destruction those whom God hassurrounded by munitions of such stupendous strength. Speaking after a mystical sort, the mountains are round about Jerusalem.The solid rocks of the earth are like arms beneath her. The very stars are her watchers and the firmament and the Heaven ofheavens are the gates that shutout her raging foes.
When the Lord made the heavens and the earth, what was the drift of the whole thing? For what was the earth preparing in theold geological past? Preparing, you tell me, for man. But why, and why was man made? God made the whole race of man, but inrespect of that chosen life within the race, thoseelect men and women who are as the substance which is in the oak when it loses its leaves, the holy seed which is the substanceof the race and of all time.
And when man came into the earth and did multiply and God divided the nations and scattered them to the north and to the south,to the east and to the west, He divided the whole, looking to His people. He saw at one glance how it would be best for thisempire to stand, or that monarchy tofall-how it would be more advantageous for that dynasty to exist through a whole stream of kings, or for that monarch tobe cut off in his prime, before his son should be born who should take the scepter from the dying hand.
I say that the whole machinery of nature, the whole work of God which He has made, is intended to be the shell in which theLord preserves His people, and there must come, indeed-"The wreck of matter and the crash of worlds," and a total unloosingof the pillars of earth and Heaven, beforeyou can perish, O you Children of God!
But again, not only does nature, but Providence, too, works for the protection of God's people. "All things work togetherfor good to them that love God." Stupendous agencies are abroad. The wheels are so high that they are dreadful, but the wheelsare full of eyes, and they only turn in such a wayas shall preserve the Church of the living God. When we shall see the end from the beginning, we shall be amazed as to howit was that everything turned upon the axle of the
Church-how the greatest wheel turned on its pole to bring out the elect, to fetch up out of their spiritual darkness the generationwho were afterwards to be enlightened-how the biggest wave that followed the keel of the Church's ship was ordained to washit onward.
And how the very wave which seemed to roll the other way, did but in some mystic manner still waft her onward to her desiredhaven. How storms and tempests, plagues and conflagrations, wars and bloodsheds, all co-worked to bring out the people ofGod, that the Lord's name might be glorified inthem. Like some huge steam vessel, Providence bears on the Church and you must reverse those wheels which lash the sea ofevents to foam, before you can detain the Church from her haven.
Yet further, not to detain you longer, the Church is constantly preserved, we know, by the ministry of angels. Unseen by us,the angels of God keep watch and ward around us. They bear up the Church's foot lest she dash it against a stone. They coverher head in the day of battle lest the fieryshafts should penetrate her helmet. By night and by day the watchers of God keep constant guard over the blood-royal ofHeaven. Let us not be deceived in this matter, thinking that we have to deal here with a fancy or a myth.
Angels have more to do with this world than we dream. They are more potent influences for the saints' good than ever we haveknown, for they are the ten thousand chariots of God, the ten thousand times ten thousand saints of the Most High who standin their battle array this day. If your eyes areopened, you will be able to say with the Prophet- "More are they that are with us than they that are with them." Reckonthe angels as your friends-put them not down as though they were weak and feeble-believe them to be strong and then you shallnot doubt but thatthe Church shall be preserved as the apple of God's eye.
Then, last of all, God preserves His Church by the overruling of His Grace. By a sort of holy alchemy He fetches gold outof dross, medicine out of poison, success out of disaster. From seeming evil, He produces good, and better still, and betterstill, in infinite progression, so that the evildoings of the Church's enemies turn out for her good in the end and their worst projects are in the wisdom of God but designsfor her advancement. Let us rest in this, then, quite confident that by all means and by any means the Church shall alwaysbe safe. She rocks today-abig wave seems to strain her tim-bers-but He who built her is on board. The eternal hand grasps the helm and the MightyOne, with unruffled brow, looks at the storm and bids the ship cut through the foam.
She has not turned as yet, though rocks and quicksand threatened to be in her path. Straight as a line, "as an arrow froma bow drawn by an archer strong," she sped on her splendid flight, and on she shall go though a thousand hells boiled overto stay her Heaven-ordained mission. Yonder mightybillow, that seems ready to swallow her up and give her an eternal grave, shall break before her bow. And if she is fora moment buried in the spray, she shall either come up white from the washing, or she shall leap over it, ascending up toHeaven upon its crest.
And if she goes down again, as though she would descend into the depths of the sea-the depths of defeat and dismay-it shallbe but to bring up some sinner from the depth and save a soul that otherwise might have been lost. Oh, blessed be God, theChurch is never insecure, no, nor yetone of her children-
"Once in Christ, in Christ forever, Nothing from His love can sever. I know that safe with Him remains, Protected by His power,What I've committed to His hand, Till the decisive hour."
The apple of God's eye shall not be touched. We shall never see a blinded deity, and until then we shall never hear that thepeople of God have perished and that the Church of Christ has been destroyed by her enemies. Courage, then, soldiers of Christ,courage! Turn not back through shame or fear.Another rush, another advance upon the foe, for you cannot be wounded, you are invulnerable. You cannot be defeated, youare invincible. God is in you and you must be almighty. He that touches you, touches the apple of His eye. Therefore dare,run risks, and venture for God, for youare always safe when you are venturing for Him.
Our final question is, "Am I thus dear to God?" I would like you, now that I send you away, to ask yourselves that question.You, dear Friends up yonder, and you in this mighty tier, and you below, ask yourselves-"Am I thus dear to God?" Let eachman and woman ask that question. How can Ianswer it? Is Christ dear to me? Then I am dear to God. Is
Christ dear to me tonight? Do I rest on Him? If I do, I am saved. And if I do not, why should I not now? If I never have believedon Him, why should I not now?
If I trust Him, He will save me. Lord, I trust You. Can you say that from your heart? Then the Spirit of God has helped youto say it and if tonight, poor Soul, whoever you may be, you will repose simply and wholly upon the merit of Jesus' bloodand the power of His intercession in Heaven, you aresaved. Go your way, your sins are forgiven. You are accepted in the Beloved, if you have trusted Christ. God help you torely on Jesus now, and to His name be praise forever and ever! Amen.