Sermon 491. Our Stronghold
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 26, 1862, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run into it, and are safe."
STRONG towers were a greater security in a bygone age than they are now. Then when troops of marauders invaded the land, strongcastles were set upon the various hilltops, and the inhabitants gathered up their little wealth and fled there at once. Castleswere looked upon as being very difficultplaces to attack. And ancient troops would rather fight a hundred battles than endure a single siege. Towns which wouldbe taken by modern artillery in twelve hours held out for twelve years against the most potent forces of the ancient times.
He that possessed a castle was lord of all the region round about, and made their inhabitants either his clients who soughthis protection, or his dependents whom he ruled at will. He who owned a strong tower felt, however potent might be his adversary,his walls and bulwarks would be his suresalvation. Generous rulers provided strongholds for their people-mountain fastnesses where the peasantry might be shelteredfrom marauders.
Transfer your thoughts to a thousand years ago, and picture a people, who after plowing and sowing, have gathered in theirharvest. But when they are about to make merry with the harvest festival, a startling signal banishes their joy. A trumpetis blown from yonder mountain, the bell answers itfrom the village tower. Hordes of ferocious robbers are approaching, their corn will be devoured by strangers! Burying theircorn and furniture, and gathering up the little portable wealth they have, they hasten with all their might to their towerof defense which stands on yonderridge.
The gates are shut. The drawbridge is pulled up. The iron grating is let down. The warders are on the battlements, and theinhabitants within feel that they are safe. The enemy will rifle their deserted farms, and search for hidden treasure, andfinding that the inhabitants are quite beyond theirreach, they will betake themselves to some other place. Such is the figure which is in the text. "The name of the Lord isa strong tower: the righteous run into it and are safe."
I. Of course we all know that by the name of God is meant the Character of the Most High, so that our first lesson is thatTHE CHARACTER OF GOD FURNISHES THE RIGHTEOUS WITH ABUNDANT SECURITY.
The Character of God is the refuge of the Christian, in opposition to other refuges which godless men have chosen. Solomonsuggestively puts the following words in the next verse-"The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall inhis own conceit." The rich man feels that hiswealth may afford him comfort. Should he be attacked in law, his wealth can procure him an advocate. Should he be insultedin the streets, the dignity of a full purse will avenge him. Should he be sick, he can hire the best physicians. Should heneed ministers to his pleasures, orhelpers of his infirmities, they will be at his call.
Should famine stalk through the land, it will avoid his door. Should war itself break forth, he can purchase an escape fromthe sword, for his wealth is his strong tower in contradistinction to this, the righteous man finds in his God all that thewealthy man finds in his substance and a vast dealmore. "The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore will I trust in Him." God is our treasure. He is to us better thanthe heaviest purse, or the most magnificent income. Broad acres yield not such peace as a well attested interest in the loveand faithfulness of our heavenlyFather. Provinces under our sway could not bring to us greater revenues than we possess in Him who makes us heirs of allthings by Christ Jesus.
Other men who trust not in their wealth, nevertheless make their own names a strong tower. To say the truth, a man's goodname is no mean defense against the attacks of his fellow men. To wrap one's self about in the garment of integrity is todefy the chill blast of calumny and to be mailedagainst the arrows of slander. If we can appeal to God and say, "Lord, You know that in this thing I am not wicked"-thenlet the mouth of the liar pour forth his slanders, let him scatter his venom where he may-we bear an antidote within beforewhich his poison yieldsits power.
But this is only true in a very limited sense. Death soon proves to men that their own good name can afford them no consolation,and under conviction of sin a good repute is no shelter. When conscience is awake, when the judgment is unbiased, when wecome to know something of the law of God and ofthe justice of His Character, we soon discover that self-righteousness is no hiding place for us. It is nothing but a crumblingbattlement which will fall on the neck of him that hides behind it-a pasteboard fortification yielding to the first shockof the law-a refugeof lies to be beaten down with the great hailstones of eternal vengeance-such is the righteousness of man.
The righteous trusts not in this-not his own name-but the name of his God. Not his own character, but the Character of theMost High is his strong tower. Numberless are those castles in the air to which men hasten in the hour of peril-ceremonieslift their towers into theclouds-professions pile their walls high as mountains, and works of the flesh paint their delusions till they seem substantialbulwarks. But all, all, shall melt like snow, and vanish like a mist. Happy is he who leaves the sand for the Rock, the phantomfor the Substance.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower to the Christian, not only in opposition to other men's refuges but as a matter offact and reality. Even when he is not able to perceive it by experience, yet God's Character is the refuge of the saint. Ifwe come to the bottom of things, we shall find thatthe basis of the security of the Believer lies in the Character of God. I know you will tell me it is the Covenant-but whatis the Covenant worth, if God were changeable, unjust, untrue? I know you will tell me that the confidence of the Believeris in the blood ofChrist-but what were the blood of Christ if God were false?
If after Christ had paid the ransom the Lord should deny Him the ransomed. If after Christ had been the Substitute, the Judgeof men should yet visit upon our heads, for whom He suffered, our own guilt. If Jehovah could be unrighteous, if He couldviolate His promise and become faithless as weare-then, I say, that even the blood of Christ would afford us no security. You tell me that there is His promise, but againI remind you that the value of a man's promise must depend on his character.
If God were not such that He cannot lie, if He were not so faithful that He cannot change His mind, if he were not so mightythat He cannot be frustrated when He intends to perform-then His promises were but waste paper! His Words like our words,would be but wind, and afford no satisfactoryshelter for a soul distressed and anxious. But you will tell me He has sworn with an oath. Brethren, I know He has. He hasgiven us two immutable things in which it is impossible for Him to lie, that we may have strong consolation.
But still what is a man's oath worth irrespective of his character? Is it not, after all, what a man is that makes his assertionsto be eminently mistrusted or profoundly believed? And it is because our God cannot by any means foreswear Himself but mustbe true, that His oath becomes of value toyou and to me. Brethren, after all, let us remember that the purpose of God in our salvation is the glorifying of His ownCharacter, and this it is that makes our salvation positively sure. If everyone that trusts in Christ is not saved, then isGod dishonored, the Lord of Hosts hashung up His escutcheon.
And if in the face of the whole earth He accomplishes not that which He declares He will perform in this Book, then is Hisreputation stained. I say it, He has flung down the gauntlet to sin, death, and Hell-and if He is not the conqueror over allthese in the heart of every soul that trustsin Him, then He is no more the God of Victories, nor can we shout His everlasting praise as the Lord mighty in battle. HisCharacter, then, you see, when we come to the basis of all, is the granite formation upon which must rest all the pillarsof the Covenant of Grace, and the suremercies thereof.
His wisdom, truth, mercy, justice, power, eternity and immutability are the seven pillars of the house of sure salvation.If we would have comfort, we can surely find it in the Character of God. This is our strong tower, we run into it and we aresafe.
Mark, Beloved, not only is this true as a matter of fact, but it is true as a matter of experience. I hope I shall now speakthe feelings of your hearts, while I say we have found the Character of God to be an abundant safeguard to us. We have knownfull well the trials of life! Thank God we have,for what would any of us be worth if we had no troubles? Troubles, like files, take away our rust-like furnaces, they consumeour dross-like winnowing fans they drive away the chaff. And we should have had but little value, we should have had but littleusefulness-if we had not been made to pass through the furnace.
But in all our troubles we have found the Character of God a comfort. You have been poor-very poor-I know some of you herehave been out of work a long time. You have wondered where your bread would come from, even for the next meal. Now what hasbeen your comfort? Have you not said,"God is too good to let me starve. He is too bountiful to let me want." And so, you see, you have found His Character tobe your strong tower. Or else you have had personal sickness-you have long lain on the bed of weariness, tossing to and fro,and then the temptation hascome into your heart to be impatient-"God has dealt harshly with you," so the Evil One whispers. But how do you escape?
Why you say, "No, He is no tyrant, I know Him to be a sympathizing God." "In all their afflictions He was afflicted, the angelof His Presence saved them." Or else you have had losses-many losses, and you have been apt to ask, "How can these thingsbe? How is it I have to work so long, andplod so hard, and have to look about me with all my wits to earn but little, and yet when I have made money it melts? Isee my wealth, like a flock of birds upon the fields-here one moment, and gone the next-for a passerby claps his hands, andeverything takes to itselfwings and flies away."
Then we are apt to think that God is unwise to let us toil for nothing, but lo, we run into our strong tower and we feel itcannot be. No. The God who sent this affliction could not have acted in a thoughtless, reckless, unwise manner. There mustbe something here that shall work for my good. Youknow, Brothers and Sisters, it is useless for me to attempt to describe the various ways in which your trials come. I amsure they that know Jehovah's name will put their trust in Him.
Perhaps your trial has been want, and then you have said, "His name is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide." Or else youhave been banished from friends, perhaps from country, but you have said, "Ah, His name is Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is there."Or else you have had a disturbance in yourfamily. There has been war within, and war without, but you have run into your strong tower, for you have said, "His nameis Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord sends peace." Or else the world has slandered you, and you, yourself have been conscious of sin,but you have said, "His name isJehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness."
And so you have gone there and been safe. Or else many have been your enemies, then His name has been "Jehovah-Xissi, theLord my banner." And so He has been a strong tower to you. Defy, then, Brothers and Sisters-defy, in God's strength, tribulationsof every sort and size. Say, with thepoet-
"There is a safe and secret place Beneath the wings Divine, Reserved for al the heirs of Grace, That refuge no w is mine. The least and feeblest here may hide Uninjured and unawed; While thousands fall on every side, I rest secure in God." But, Beloved, besides the trials of this life, we have the sinsof the flesh, and what a tribulation these are! But the name of our God is our strong tower then. At certain seasons we aremore than ordinarily conscious of our guilt. And I would give little for your piety, if you do not sometimes creep into acorner with the poor publican and say, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Broken hearts and humble walkers, these are dearin Jesus' eyes. There will be times with all of us when our saintship is not very clear, but our sinnership is very apparent.Well, then, the name of our God must be our defense-"He is very merciful." "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousnessand their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
Yes, in the Person of Christ we even dare to look at His justice with confidence, since, "He is faithful and just to forgiveus our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Possibly it is not so much the guilt of sin that troubles you, asthe power of sin. You feel as if you must one dayfall by the hand of this enemy within. You have been striving and struggling, but the old Adam is too much for you.
It is a stern conflict and you fear that the sons of Anak will never be driven out. You feel you carry a bombshell withinyour heart. Your passions are like a powder magazine-you are walking where the flakes of fire are flying, and you are afraida spark may fall, and then there will be aterrible destruction of everything. Ah, then there is the power of God, there is the Truth of God, there is the faithfulnessof God, and, despite all the desperate power of sin, we find a shelter here in the Character of the Most High.
Sin sometimes comes with all the terrors of the law. Then if you know not how to hide yourself behind your God, you will bein an evil plight. It will come at times with all the fire of the flesh, and if you cannot perceive that your flesh was crucifiedin Christ, and that your life is a life inHim, and not in yourself, then you will soon be put to the rout. But he who lives in his God and not in himself. He whowraps Christ's righteousness about him, and is righteous in Christ- such a man may defy all the attacks of the flesh, andall the temptations of the world.He shall overcome through the blood of the Lamb. "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith."
Then, Beloved, there are the temptations of the devil, and these are very dreadful. But how sweet it is, still, to feel thatthe Character of God is our strong tower. Without walls of Divine Grace and bulwarks of mercy, how can a tempted soul escapethe clutches of the Destroyer? But where the soullies in the entrenchments of Divine promise, all the devils in Hell cannot carry it by storm. I saw this week, one whommany of you greatly respect, the former pastor of this Church, Mr. James Smith, of Cheltenham-[since departed, to be withChrist, which is farbetter]-a name well-known by his innumerable little works which are scattered everywhere and cannot fail to do good.
You will remember that about a year ago he was struck with paralysis and one half of his body was dead. But yet, when I sawhim on the bed, I had not seen a more cheerful man in the full heyday of strength. I had been told that he was the subjectof very fearful conflicts at times. So after I hadshook hands with him, I said, "Friend Smith, I hear you have many doubts and fears!" "Who told you that?" said he, "forI have none." "Never have any? Why I understood you had many conflicts." "Yes," he said, "I have many conflicts, but I haveno doubts. I have many wars within, butI have no fears.
"Who could have told you that? I hope I have not led anyone to think that. It is a hard battle, but I know the victory issure. After I have had an ill night's rest-of course, through physical debility-my mind is troubled, and then that old coward,Satan, who would be afraid to meddlewith me, perhaps, if I were strong, attacks me when I am weak. But I am not afraid of him-don't you go away with that opinion.He does throw many fiery darts at me, but I have no doubt as to my final victory."
Then he said, in his own way, "I am just like a packet that is all ready to go by train, packed, corded, labeled, paid for,and on the platform, waiting for the express to come by and take me to Glory. I wish I could hear the whistle now," said he."I had hoped I should have been carried to Heavenlong ago, but still I am fine." "And then," he said, "I have been telling your George Moore, over there, that I am not onlyon the Rock, but that I am cemented to the Rock, and that the cement is as hard as the Rock, so there is no fear of my perishing.Unless the Rock falls, Icannot. Unless the Gospel perishes, I cannot perish."
Now, here was a man attacked by Satan-he did not tell me of the bitter conflicts he had within, I know they were severe enough.He was anxious to bear a good testimony to the faithfulness of his gracious Lord-but you see, it was his God that was hisstronghold. He ran to this-theimmutability, the faithfulness, the truthfulness, the mightiness of that God upon whose arm he leaned. If you and I willdo the same, we can always find an attribute of God to oppose to each suggestion of the Evil One. "God will leave you," saysthe Evil One. "You old liar, Hecannot, for He is a faithful God." "But you will perish after all." "O you vile deceiver! That can never be, for He is amighty God and strong to deliver."
"But one of these times He will abhor you." "No, you false accuser, and father of lies, that cannot be, for He is a God oflove." "The time shall happen when He shall forget you." "No, traitor! That cannot be, for He is a God Omniscient, and knowsand sees all things." I say, thus we may rebutevery mischievous slander of Satan, running still into the Character of God as our strong tower.
Brethren, even when the Lord Himself chastens us, it is most blessed to appeal against God to God. Do you understand whatI mean? He smites us with His rod, but then to look up and say, "Father, if I could believe what Your rod seems to say, Ishould say You love me not. But I know You are a God oflove, and my faith tells me that You love me none the less because of that hard blow." See here, Brothers and Sisters, Iwill put myself in the case a moment-Lo, He spurns me as though He hated me. He drives me from His Presence, gives me no caresses,denies me sweet promises.
He shuts me up in prison, and gives me the water of affliction, and the bread of distress. But my faith declares, "He is sucha God that I cannot think harshly of Him. He has been so good to me that I know He is good now, and in the teeth of all HisProvidences, even when He puts a black mask overHis face, I still believe that-
"Behind a frowning Providence, He hides a smiling face."
But, Friends, I hope you know, I hope each of us may know by experience, the blessed are running into the bosom of God andhiding there.
This word to the sinner who has not yet found peace. Do not you see, Sinner, the Christian is not saved by what he is, butby what his God is? And this is the groundwork of our comfort-that God is perfect-not that we are perfect. When I preachedlast Thursday night about the snuffers ofthe temple, and the golden snuffer trays, and the necessity there was for the lamps in the sanctuary to be trimmed, onefoolish woman said, "Ah, you see, according to the minister's own confession, these Christians are as bad as the rest of us,they have many faults. Oh," she said,"I dare say I shall be as well off at the last as they will."
Poor soul! She did not see that the Christian's hope does not lie in what he is, but in what Christ is. Our trust is not inwhat we suffer, but in what Jesus suffered. Not in what we do, but in what He has done. It is not our name-I say again-thatis a strong tower to us. It is not evenour prayers, it is not our good works. It is the name, the promise, the truth, the work, the finished righteousness of ourGod in Christ Jesus. Here the Believer finds his defense and nowhere besides. Run Sinner, run, for the castle gate is freeto all who seek a shelter, be theywho they may.
II. By your leave I shall turn to the second point. How THE RIGHTEOUS AVAIL THEMSELVES OF THIS
STRONG TOWER. They run into it. Now, running seems to me to imply that they do not stop to make any preparation. You willremember our Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples that when the Romans surrounded Jerusalem, he that was on the housetopwas not to come down into his house, but to run downthe outer staircase, and escape. So the Christian, when he is attacked by his enemies, should not stop for anything, butjust run into his God and be safe.
There is no need for you to tarry until you have prepared your mind, until you have performed sundry ablutions, but run, Man,straight away, at once. When the pigeons are attacked by the hawk, their better plan is not to parley, nor to stay, but swiftlyas they can, cut the air and fly to thedovecote. So should it be with you. Leave fools, who will, to parley with the fiend of Hell-but as for you, fly to yourGod and enter into His secret places till the tempest is over, past. A gracious hint, this, to you anxious souls who are seekingto fit yourselves forJesus-away with such legal rubbish, run at once!
You are safe in following the good example of the righteous. This running appears to me to imply that they have nothing tocarry. A man who has a load, the heavier the load may be, the more will he be impeded in his flight. But the righteous run,like racers in the games, who have thrown offeverything. Their sins they leave to mercy, and their righteousness to the moles and bats. If I had any righteousness Iwould not carry it, but run to the righteousness of Christ without it-for my own righteousness must be a drag upon me whichI could not bear.
Sinners, I know, when they come to Christ, want to bring tons of good works, wagon loads of good feelings, and fitness, andrepenting and such like-but the righteous do no such thing. They just foreswear everything they have of their own, and countit but dross and dung, that they may run toChrist, and be found in him. Gospel righteousness lies all in Jesus, not in the Believer.
It seems to me, too, that this expression not only implies a want of preparation, and having nothing to carry, but it impliesthat fear quickens them. Men do not run to a castle unless they are afraid. But when the avenger of death is close behind,then swiftly they fly. It is marvelous how godlyfear helps faith. There is a man sinking there in the river. He cannot swim, he must be drowned! Look! He is going down!We push him a plank-with what a clutch he grasps it! And the more he is convicted that he has no power to float, the morefirmly does he grip at this onehope. Fear may even drive a man, I say, to faith, and lend him wings to fly, where otherwise he might have crept with laggardfeet. The fight is the flight of fear, but the refuge is the refuge of faith. O, Sinner, if the righteous fly, what oughtyour pace to be?
Again, it seems to me that there is great eagerness here, as if the Christian did not feel safe till he had entered into hisGod. As the stag pursued by the hounds quickens its flight by reason of the baying of the dogs, as the clamor grows louderand louder, see how the stag leaps from crag tocrag! He dashes through the stream, flies over yonder hill, is lost in yonder brake and soon springs through the valley!So the Christian flies to his dear God for safety, when the hounds of Hell and the dogs of temptation are let loose againsthim. Eagerness! Where indeed shall thelike be found?
"As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God:when shall I come and appear before God?" O convicted Sinner, what should your eagerness be if thus the righteous pant forGod? Brethren, I may add here, that there is anabsence of all hesitation. He runs. You know, if we want somebody to help us, we put our hand to our brow and consider,"Let us see, where shall we go? I am in great straits, to whom shall I fly? Who will be the best friend to me?" The righteousnever ask that question, at leastwhen they are in a right mind they never do.
The moment their trouble comes they run at once to their God, for they feel that they have full permission to repair to Him.And again they feel they have nowhere else to fly. "To whom, or where should I go, if I could turn from You," is a questionwhich is its own answer. Then understand, in ourtext there is eagerness, the absence of all hesitation. There is fear, and yet there is courage. There is no preparation,there is the flinging aside of every burden. "The righteous run into His high tower and are safe."
Beloved, I will leave that point, when I have said please remember that when a man gets into a castle, he is safe becauseof the impregnability of the castle. He is not safe because of the way in which he entered into the castle. You hear someman inside saying, "I shall never be hurt, because Icame into the castle the right way." You will tell him, "No, no, no, it is not the way you came into the castle, but thecastle itself is our defense." So some of you may be thinking, "I do come to Christ, but I am afraid that I do not come aright."But it is not your coming, it isChrist that saves you!
If you are in Christ, I do not care a pin how you got in, for I am sure you could not get in except by the door! If you areonce in, He will never throw you out. He will never drive away a soul that comes unto Him, for any reason whatever. Your safetydoes not lie in how you came, for in verytruth, your safety is in Him. If a man should run into a castle and carry all the jewels of a kingdom with him, he wouldnot be safer because of the jewels. And if another man should run in with hardly a fresh suit of clothes with him, he wouldnot be any the more in danger becauseof his raggedness.
It is the castle, it is the castle, not the man. The solid walls, the strong bastions, the frowning ramparts, the mighty munitions-thesemake up the defense-not the man! Nor the man's wealth, nor the way the man came. Beloved, it is most true that salvation isof the Lord, and whoevershall look out of self tonight, whoever shall look to Christ only, shall find Him to be a strong tower. You may run intoyour Lord and be safe.
III. And now for our third and closing remark. You that have Bibles with margins, just look at them. You will find that thesecond part of the text is put in the margin thus-"The righteous run into it and are set aloft." Our first rendering is, "Therighteous run into it and aresafe"-there is the matter offact. The other rendering is, "He is set aloft"- there is the matter of joyous experience.
1. Now, first, let us see to the matter of fact. The man that is sheltered in his God-a man that dwells in the secret placesof the tabernacle of the Host on High, who is hidden in His pavilion, and is set upon a rock, he is safe, for, first, whocan hurt him? The Devil? Christ has broken hishead. Life? Christ has taken his life up to Heaven, for we are dead, and, "our life is hid with Christ in God." Death? No.The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"
The law? That is satisfied and it is dead to the Believer, and he is not under its curse. Sin? No-that cannot hurt the Believer,for Christ has slain it. Christ took the Believer's sins upon Himself, and therefore they are not on the Believer any more.Christ took the Believer's sins andthrew them into the Red Sea of His atoning blood. The depths have covered them, not one of them is left. All the sin theBeliever has ever committed is now blotted out, and a debt that is cancelled can never put a man in prison. A debt that ispaid, let it be ever so heavy, cannever make a man an insolvent-it is discharged, it has ceased to be.
"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ thatdied, yes, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." Who canharm us? Let him have permission to do what he will,what is there that he can do? Who, again, has the power to reach us? We are in the hands of Christ. What arrow shall penetrateHis hands to reach our souls? We are under the skirts of Deity. What strength shall tear away the mantle of God to reach Hischildren? Our names are writtenon the hands of Jesus-who can erase those everlasting lines?
We are jewels in Immanuel's crown. What thievish fingers shall steal away those jewels? We are in Christ. Who shall be ableto rend us from His innermost heart? We are members of His body. Who shall mutilate the Savior? "I bore you," says God, "ason eagles' wings." Who shall smite through thebreast of the Eternal One, Heaven's great eagle? He must first do it before he can reach the eaglets, the young sons ofGod, begotten unto a lively hope. Who can reach us? God interposes-Christ stands in the way. And the Holy Spirit guards usas a garrison.
Who shall stand against the Omnipotent? Tens of thousands of created powers must fall before him, for in the Lord Jehovahis everlasting strength. What weapon is there that can be used against us? Shall they kill us? Then we begin to live. Shallthey banish us? Then we are but nearer to our Home.Shall they strip us? How can they rend away the garment of imputed righteousness? Shall they seize our property? How canthey touch our treasure since it is all in Heaven? Shall they scourge us? Sweet shall be the smart when Christ is presentwith us! Shall they cast us into adungeon? Where shall the free spirit find a prison? What fetters can bind the man who is free in Christ?
Shall the tongue attack us? Every tongue that rises against us in judgment, we shall condemn. I know not what new weapon canbe formed, for certain it is that the anvil of the Church has broken all the hammers that were ever used to smite it, andremains uninjured, still. The Believer is-hemust be safe. I said this morning that if the Believer in Christ is not saved forever, then, Beloved, there is no meaningwhatever in God's Word. And I say it once again, and I say it without any word of apology for so doing-I could never receivethat Book as the Book of Godat all, if it could be proved to me that it did not teach the doctrine of the safety of those that trust in Christ.
I could never believe that God would speak in such a manner as to make tens of thousands of us, yes, millions of us, believethat He would keep us, and yet after all, He should cast us away. Nor do I believe that He would use words which, to say thevery least, seem to teach final perseverance ifHe had not intended to teach us the doctrine. All the Arminian Divines that ever lived cannot prove the total apostasy ofBelievers. They can attack some other points of the Calvinistic doctrine. There are some points of our form of doctrine whichapparently are far more vulnerable.
God forbid we should be so foolish as to deny that there are difficulties about every system of theology! But about the perseveranceof the saint there is no difficulty. It is as easy to overthrow an opponent, here, as it would be to thrust through, witha spear, a shield of pasteboard. Beconfident, Believer, that this is God's Truth, that they who trust in God shall be as Mount Zion which shall never be removed,but abide forever.
2. But now we conclude by noticing that our text not only teaches us our safety, but our experience of it. "He shall set himup aloft." The Believer in his high days, and they ought to be every day, is like an eagle perched aloft on a towering crag.Yonder is a hunter, down below, who would desireto strike the royal bird. He has his rifle with him-but his rifle would not reach one third of the way-so the royal birdlooks down upon him. He sees him load and prime, and aim. He looks in quiet contempt on him, not intending even to take thetrouble to stretch one ofhis wings.
He sees him load again, hears the bullet down below, but he is quite safe, for he is up aloft. Such is the faithful Christian'sstate before God. He can look down upon every trial and temptation, upon every adversary and every malicious attack-for Godis his strong tower, and, "he is set upaloft." When some people go to the newspaper and write a very sharp, bitter, and cutting letter against the minister, "Oh,"they think, "How he will feel that! How that will cut him to the quick!"
And yet, if they had seen the man read it through, double it up, and throw it into the fire, saying, "What a mercy it is tohave somebody taking notice of me." If they could see the man go to bed and sleep all the better because he thinks he hashad a high honor conferred on him for being allowedto be abused for Christ, surely they would see that their efforts are only, "hate's labor lost." I do not think our enemieswould take so much trouble to make us happy, if they knew how blessed we are under their malice.
"You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies," said David. Some soldiers never eat so well as when theirenemies are looking on-for there is a sort of gusto about every mouthful which they eat, as they seem to say-"snatched fromthe jaw of the lion, and from thepaw of the bear, and in defiance of you all, in the name of the Most High God I feast to the full, and then set up my banner."The Lord sets His people up aloft.
But there are many who do not appear to be much up aloft. You meet them in the corn market and they say, "Wheat does not payas they used to. Farming is no good to anybody." Hear others, after those gales, those violent gales, when so many ships havegone down, say, "Ah, you may well pity us poorfellows that have to do with shipping, dreadful times these, we are all sure to be ruined." See many of our tradesmen-"ThisExhibition has given us a little spurt, but as soon as this is over, there will be nothing doing. Trade never was so dull."Trade has been dull eversince I have been in London, and that is nine years!
I do not know how it is, but our friends are always losing money, yet they get on pretty comfortably, too. Some I know, beganwith nothing. And they are getting pretty rich now, but, it is all by losing money, if I am to believe what they tell me!Surely this is not sitting up aloft. Surely this isnot living up on high. This is a low kind of life for a child of God. We should not have liked to see the Prince of Walesin his boyhood playing with the children in the street, and I do not suppose you would like to see him now among coal heaversat a wrestling match.
Nor should the child of God be seen pushing and grasping as if this world were all, always using that muckrake to scrape togetherthe things of this world. Instead he should be in full satisfaction, being content with such things as he has, for God hassaid, "I will never leave you nor forsakeyou." I am not a little ashamed of myself that I do not live more on high, for I know when we get depressed in spirits,and downcast, and doubting, we say many unbelieving and God-dishonoring words. It is all wrong. We ought not to stay herein these marshes of fleshly doubts. Weought never to doubt our God. Let the heathen doubt his god, for well he may, but our God made the heavens.
What a happy people we ought to be! When we are not, we are not true to our principles. There are ten thousand arguments inScripture for happiness in the Christian. But I do not know that there is one logical argument for misery. Those people whodraw their faces down, and like the hypocrites,pretend to be of a sad countenance, these, I say, cry, "Lord, what a wretched land is this, that yields us no supplies."I should think they do not belong to the children of Israel! The children of Israel find in the wilderness a Rock followingthem with its streams of water, andmanna dropping every day. And when they want them, there are the quails, and so the wretched land is filled with good supplies.
Let us rather rejoice in our God. I should not like to have a serving man who always went about with a dreary countenance,because do you know people would say, "What a bad master that man has." And when we see Christians looking so sad, we areapt to think they cannot have a good God to trust to.Come, Beloved, let us change our notes, for we have a strong tower, and are safe.
Let us take a walk upon the ramparts. I do not see any reason for always being down in the dungeon. Let us go up to the verytop of the ramparts, where the banner waves in the fresh air, and let us sound the clarion of defiance to our foes! And letit ring across the plain, where yonder palewhite-horsed rider comes, bearing the lance of death. Let us defy even him. Ring out the note again! Salute the evening,and make the outgoings of the morning to rejoice.
Wander upon the castle top, shout to your companion, yonder, and let every tower and every turret of the grand old battlementsbe vocal with the praise of Him who has said-
"Munitions of stupendous rock, Your dwelling place shall be. There shall your soul without a shock The wreck of nature see."
Sinner, again I say the door is open! Run to the mercy of God in Christ, and by His Grace, be safe!