Sermon 597. Preparation for Revival
Delivered on Sunday October 30th, 1864 by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"-Amos 3:3.
THE BELIEVER IS AGREED with God. The war between the most holy God and his offending creatures is over in the case of bloodwashed sinners; not suspendedby a truce, but ended for ever by a peace which passeth all understanding. The believer is fully agreed with God concerning the divine law: he confesses that "the law is holy, and just, and good": he would not have it altered if he could. He rejoices in the wayof God's testimonies more than in all riches;yea, in his precepts doth he take delight, praying evermore, "O let me not wander from thy commandments." He joyfullyacknowledges that the Judge of all the earth rules mankind by a law in which there is no injustice, by statutes which subservethe best interests of the governed, while they secure the glory of the great Governor. The Christian "consents unto the lawthat it is good." He is agreed with God, moreover, that a breach of the law should be visited with penalty: he would beunwilling that sin should go unpunished. He feels that the sanctions of law, however terrible, are absolutely necessary,and required to be severe. Above all, he is agreed with God in that great atonement for sin which God himself has ordained and provided in the person of Jesus Christ. Gazing upon the matchless sacrifice of Calvary,while the Lord is content, the believer is satisfied; where God finds satisfaction for his injured honour, the believer findsthe noblest object ofadmiration and adoration. Thou lovest Golgotha, O thou Judge of the earth; and thy people are perfectly agreed with theein this. Henceforth the Christian is at one with God in his love of holiness: he delights in the law of God after the inward man. Sin, which is abhorrent to the Most High, is obnoxious to the Christianin that measure in which he is enlightened and conformed unto the image of Christ. Great God, thou hast unsheathed thy sword,and bathed it in heaven, for thedestruction of all evil, and thy redeemed are on thy side, abhorring that which is evil, and resolving to fight underthy command till the last sin shall be cut off. Thou hast uplifted thy banner because of the truth, and around thy standardthe soldiers of the cross are rallying; for thy battle, O Most High, is the battle of the Church; thy foes are our foes, andthy friends are the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight.
I trust that most of us who are here met in the name of Jesus, feel a deep, sincere, and constant agreement with God. We havebeen guilty of murmuring at his will; but yet our newborn nature evermore at its core and center knoweth that the will ofthe Lord is wise and good; and we therefore bow our heads with reverent agreement, and say, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt.""The will of the Lord be done." Our soul, when through infirmity she is tempted to rebellion,nevertheless struggles after complete resignation of her wishes and desires to the will of the Most High. We do not covetthe life of self-will, but we sigh after the spirit of self-denial; yea, of self-annihilation, that Christ may live in us,and that the old Ego, the carnal I, may be altogether slain. I would be as obedient to my God as are those firstborn sons of light, his messengers of flamingfire. As the mercury feels the mysterious changes of the air, and sensitivelymoves in accordance with the atmosphere, so would I being surrounded by my God, evermore perceive his wish and will, andmove at once in obedience thereto. Our strength shall be perfect when we have no independent will, but move and act only aswe are moved and acted on by our gracious God. I hope that at this hour we can truly say, that notwithstanding our many sins,we do love the Lord our God; and if we could have our will this morning, we would follow his commands without the slightestdeparture from the narrow path. We are in heart agreed with God.
The text reminds us that this agreement gives us power to walk with God. May we be enabled to claim this privilege which divine grace has bestowed on us: power to walk with God in daily, habitual,friendly, intimate, joyous communion. Believer, you can walk with God this very day. He is as near to thee as he was to Abraham beneath the oak at Mamre, or Mosesat the back of the desert. He is as willing to show thee his love as he was to reveal himself to Danielon the banks of Ulai, or to Ezekiel by the streams of Chebar. Thou hast no greater distance this day between thee andthy God, than Jacob had when he laid hold upon the angel and prevailed. He is thy father, as truly as he was the father of the people whom he covered by day with a cloud, and cheered by night with a pillarof fire; and though no Shekinah lights up a golden mercy-seat, yet the throne of grace is quite as glorious and even moreaccessible than in the days of old. He shallhide thee in his pavilion, as he did his servant David; yea, in the secret of the tabernacle shall be thy hiding-place.Enoch's privilege was not peculiar to him; it is thy birthright: claim it. Noah's high honour of walking with God was not reserved for him alone; it belongs to thee also, shutin as thou art in the ark of the covenant, and saved from the deluge of divine wrath. It should be the Christian's delightto be always with his God; walking with him in unbroken fellowship. Enochdid not take a turn or two with God, as Matthew Henry observes, but he walked with him four hundred years. O that we mightcease to be with our God as wayfaring men who tarry but for a night: may we dwell in God, and may he dwell in us. Walking implies action; and our actions should always be in the Lord. The Christian, whatsoever he eateth, or drinketh, or doeth, should do all inthe name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by him. Walking has in it thethought of progress; but all our progress should be with God. As we are rooted and grounded in Christ, so we must ask to grow up in him; everabiding in our highest moments with God, and never imagining or conceiving any progress which shall remove us from humbleconfidence in him. Beloved brother in the Lord, it may be that thy heart is agreed with God, and yet thou hast lost for atime thy walking with him; be not at ease in thy soul till thou hast regained it. Search thine own heartby the light of the Word and of the Holy Spirit; and when thou knowest thyself to be agreed with God, through Him whois our peace, hesitate not to draw near with holy confidence to thy Father and thy God, notwithstanding all thy past wanderings;for he welcomes thee to walk with him, seeing that thou art agreed.
At this season we, as a Church, have had our hearts set upon a revival of religion in our midst. Many of us will be greatlyand grievously disappointed if such a revival shall not take place. We have felt moved to cry for it; I think I may say wehave been almost unanimously thus moved. Already there are signs that God is visiting us in a very remarkable manner, butour souls are set upon a greater work than we have ever seen. Now, dear friends, we need as the firstand most essential thing in this matter, that God should walk with us. In vain we shall struggle after revival unless we have his presence. If, then, we desire to have his presence with us, wemust see to it that we are perfectly agreed with him both in the design of the work, and in the method of it; and I desire this morning to stir up your pure minds to heart-searching and vigilant self-examination, that everyfalse way may be purged from us, since God will not walk withus as a Church, unless we be agreed with him.
The first remark, then, of this morning, is simply this,-we desire in this matter to walk together with God; but, in the second place, if we would have him with us we must be agreed with him; and therefore, thirdly, we desire to purge ourselves of everything which would mar our perfect agreement with God, and so prevent his coming to ouraid. I do ask the prayers of God's people that he may enable me to speak to profit this morning, for if ever Ifelt my own unfitness to edify the saints, I do so just now: I will even confess that if I could have had my own choice,I should have left it to some one else to address you this morning. My harp is out of tune, and the strings are all loosened,but the chief musician understands his instruments, and knows how to get music out of us, and in answer to prayer he willdoubtless sustain us and give you a blessing.
I. Let us, first, AVOW OUR DESIRE THAT IN OUR PRESENT EFFORT WE MAY WALK WITH GOD; otherwise our strivings after revival will be very wearisome.
I know of nothing more saddening than to attend a prayer-meeting where the devotion is forced, and the fervour laborious;where brethren puff and strain like engines with a load behind them too heavy for them to drag. It is painful to detect anevident design to get up an excitement, and wind up the people to the proper pitch; when the addresses are adapted to fosterhotheadedness, and the prayers to beget superstition. God's true saints cannot but feel that to gain thegraces of the Spirit by fleshly vehemence is sad work. They retire from such a meeting, and they say, "How different isthis from occasions when God's Spirit has been really at work with us!" Then, like a ship with her sails filled with a fairwind, floating majestically along without tugging and straining, the Church, borne onward with the breath of the divine Spirit,with a full tide of heaven's grace, speeds on her glorious way. "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence," wasthe request of Moses; and I think we may rather deprecate than desire a revival if God's presence be not in it. Lord,let us stay as we are, crying and groaning to see better days, rather than permit us to be puffed up with the notion of revivalwithout thine own power in it; let us have no special prayer-meetings merely for the sake of them; but let us, O let us receivespecial blessings as the result of prayer: if thou dost not intend to help us now let us weep in secret, but let us notrejoice in a mere name if the substance be lacking. During a course of meetings by which we desire to excite the heartsof believers to a deeper interest in spiritual things; if there be not a gracious power in them, you will soon perceive adulness, a flagging, a heaviness, a weariness stealing over the assembly; the numbers will decline, the prayers will becomeless fervent, and the whole thing will degenerate into a hollow sham or a mournful monotony. To come up from the wildernessis hardclimbing unless we lean on our beloved. O thou who art our beloved and adorable Lord, lest our souls grow weary in well-doing,and faint for heaviness, be pleased to let us enjoy communion with thyself.
Not only is there weariness in our own attempts, but they always end in disappointment, unless God walketh with us. Ye may pray, and pray, and pray, but there shall be no conversions, no sense of quickening, until the Spirit's working bedistinctly recognized. The minister shall be just as much a preacher of the mere letter as ever he was; the Church officersshall be as formal and official as ever they were; the Church members shall be as inconsistent and asindifferent as they were wont to be; the congregation shall be as uninterested and as unmoved as they were in the worsttimes, except the Spirit of God work with us. In this thing we may quote the words of the psalmist, "Except the Lord buildthe house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain foryou to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." O friends, it is welltohave a holy industry and a devout perseverance; it is well to strain every nerve, and put forth every effort; but allthis must end in the most sorry, heart-sickening failure, unless the Lord rend the heavens and come down. I am telling youwhat you all do know, and what I trust you feel, but it is what we are constantly forgetting; for many are they that go awarfare at their own charges, and so become both bankrupt and defeated; and many be they who would build God's house simplyby stress ofhuman effort, but they fail, because God is not there to give them success.
Yet more; supposing that in this our attempt at revival, we should not be favoured with the presence of God; then prayer will be greatly dishonoured. I take it, that when a Church draws near to God in special prayer, asking any mercy, if she does not receive that mercy onaccount of some disagreement with God, then her belief in prayer is, for the future, greatly weakened; and this is a mostserious evil, for it loosens the girdle of the loins of God's saints.Anything which makes men doubt the efficacy of prayer, is an injury to their spirituality; and thus upon the largest scaleGod's Church will suffer loss if her prayers shall remain unanswered. We must go on; it would be ruin to forbear or to turn our backs. As a Church, we must now conquer or die. How can I again stir youup to supplication, if on this occasion your prayers should be in vain? I shall come into this pulpit with but a faint heartto speak of my Master's faithfulness if hedoes not give you evidences of it. Ah! my brethren, when you are lifting up your voices in intercession, I cannot expectto mark your earnestness nor to behold your faith, unless that faith shall be confirmed just now by a shower of divine mercy.To the world at large the non-hearing of prayer would be a ready argument, either against the existence of God, or else againstthe reality of his promise. I hope such a thing as this will not occur. "Aha! aha!" saith the enemy, "see what has come ofit all! The people cried, but they cried in vain. They met in large numbers; they approached the mercy-seat with tearsand groans, but no result has come of it; there have been no more conversions than before, and God's strength has not beenput forth." Would you desire that such a calamity as this should occur. The true soldiers of the cross in our Israel wouldalmost as soon lay down their necks, as that God's honour should thus be attainted in the presence of his foes.
Moreover, every attempt at revival of religion which proves a failure,-and fail it must without the presence of God,-leaves the Church in a worse condition than it was before; because, if it should prove a failure, from the want of any stir at all; then God's people fall back into their former lethargy,with an excuse for continuing in it; or if a false stir be made, a reaction follows of a most injurious character. I supposethe worst time in the ChristianChurch is generally that which follows the excitement of a revival; and if that revival has had no reality in it, themischief which is done is awful and incalulable. If no excitement shall come at all, the mischief is still as great; God'speople, being disappointed, have little heart to listen to further exhortations to future zealous action, become contentedwith their Laodicean lukewarmness, and it becomes impossible to bestir them again. If a revival should apparently have successand yetGod be not in it, perhaps this is even worse. The wild-fire and madness of some revivals have been a perfect disgraceto the common sense of the age, let alone the spirituality of the Church. I know, and speak not without book, when I declarethat some churches have been seriously deteriorated and permanently injured by large admissions of excited but unconvertedpersons; so that the only thing a fresh pastor could do was to begin afresh, and purge the church book throughout, sweepingoffscores of carnal persons; the beginning anew being almost hopeless, because, after the paroxysm of passion about religionhas passed, there follows a season in which religion is treated with indifference, if not with disdain. I had rather see aChurch asleep, than see it awake into the fever of fanaticism: better that she should lie still than do mischief. O dear friends,we have felt in our souls, not that we may have revival, but that we must have it; and when we think of theincalculable damage that shall be done to us all if the Lord does not visit us, I am sure we must again draw near to theangel and wrestle afresh, with this determination, that we will not let him go unless he bless us.
We may be confirmed in our anxious desire to have the Lord walking with us in this thing, when we consider the blessings which are sure to flow from his presence. Ah! what holy quickening shall come upon every one of us. The preacher will not have to lament thathe has so little power in prayer; both alone and in your presence he shall be strengthened to intercede as an angel of God.You shall not have to mourn that the service lacks its former sweetness. You willfeel the blessedness you knew when first you saw the Lord. You will not have to mourn that you are cold and dead, thatyour songs languish, and that your prayers expire; instead thereof, every action shall be fraught with vigour, every thoughtshall glow with earnestness, every word shall be clothed with divine power. Let God arise; and doubts and fears shall betakethemselves to their hiding-places, as the bats conceal themselves at the rising of the dawn. Let the Lord visit you; anddifficulties which frown like Alps, will sink to plains. Let him arise; and all your enemies shall flee before you, asthe smoke before the wind; the heavens shall drop with showers of mercy; and even your sins and all the guilt thereof, shallshake as Sinai shook at the presence of the God of Israel. A Church with God's presence in it is holy, happy, united, earnest,laborious, successful; fair as the moon before the Lord, and clear as the sun in the eyes of men, she is terrible as an armywith banners to her enemies.
If God shall be pleased to be with his Church, then direct good shall visit our congregation. We used to say at Park Street,that there were not many seat-holders unconverted. The like is to a great extent true here. The immense increase of our Churchgives us the hope that the day will come when there will not be a single seat unoccupied by a believer: but it is not thecase yet. I suppose the Church is about half the congregation now. There are some, however, that fromthe very first have listened; but so far as salvation is concerned, they have listened in vain: they have been moved totears, they have made good resolutions; but after ten or eleven years of ministry, they are just where they were, except thatthey have accumulated fresh guilt. Some desire to be Christians, but they harbour some darling lust. We know some who used to feel under the Word, but do not feel now. The voice which once was like a trumpet, now lulls them to sleep. Some havemade a compromise; and one day they will serve God and another day they will serve their sins; like the Samaritans whofeared the Lord and served other gods. Now let our cries be heard for the Master's presence, and we shall soon see these broughtin; hearts of stone shall be turned to flesh; the iron of the Word shall break the northern iron and steel; Jehovah Jesusshall ride victoriously through those gates which have been barred against him, and there shall be shouting in heaven becausetheLord hath gotten him the victory.
Wider blessings will follow. A Church is never blessed alone. If any one Church shall stand in the vigour of piety, other Churches shall take example therefrom, and make an advance towardsa better state. Here we have around us many Churches, hills which God has blessed; but they, like ourselves, have a tendencyto slumber. Let God pour out his Spirit here, and the shower will not be confined to these fields, but will drop upon other pastures, and theyshall rejoice on every side. Our testimony for God rings through this land; from one end of it to the other. Our ministryis not hidden under a bushel nor confined to a few. Tens of thousands listen every week to our word; and if the Lord shallbe pleased to bless it, then shall it be as ointment poured forth, to load the moral atmosphere with a savour of Christ crucified.One nation cannot feel the power of God without communicating some of its blessing to another. The Atlantic cannot divide:no tongue or language can separate us. If God bless France or Switzerland, the influence shall be felt upon the Continent;if he should bless our island, all the whole earth must feel the power thereof. Therefore do we feel encouraged mightily topray. O, my brethren, the world grows old; man's faith is getting weary of long waiting; the false prophets begin again toappear, and cry lo here, and lo there; but the Lord must come; of this are we confident: in such an hour as we think not,he may appear. How would we have him find us at his coming? Would we have him find his servants sleeping? his stewardswasting his goods? his vinedressers with neglected vines? his soldiers with swords rusted into their scabbards? No, we wouldhave him find us watching, standing upon the watch-tower, feeding his sheep, tending his lambs, succouring the needy, comfortingthe weary, helping the oppressed. Gird up your loins then, I pray you, as men that watch for their Lord. If my words couldhave the power in them which I feel they lack, I would stir you up, dear brethren and sisters, to seek unto the mightyGod of Jacob, that when the Son of Man cometh, if he find no faith upon the earth elsewhere, at least he may find it in you: if zeal shall be extinct in every other place, at least may he find one live coal yet glowing in your bosom. For this wewant his presence, for without it we can do nothing.
II. This brings me, in the second place, to observe, that IF WE WOULD HAVE THE PRESENCE OF GOD, IT IS NECESSARY THAT WE SHOULDBE AGREED WITH HIM.
We must be agreed with God as to the end of our Christian existence. God hath formed us for himself, that we may show forth his praise. The main end of a Christian man is, that having beenbought with precious blood, he may live unto Christ, and not unto himself. O brethren! I am afraid we are not agreed withGod in this. I must say it, painful though it be, there are many professors, and there are some in this Church, who at leastappear to believe that the mainend of their Christian existence is to get to heaven, to get as much money as they can on earth, and to leave as muchas they can to their children when they die; I say, "to get to heaven," for they selfishly include that as one of the designs of divine grace; but I question, if it were not for their happiness to go to heaven, whether they wouldcare much about going, if it were only for God's glory; for their way of living upon earth is always thus: "What shall I eat?what shall Idrink? wherewithal shall I be clothed?" Religion never calls out their thoughtfulness. They can judge, and weigh, andplot, and plan to get money, but they have no plans as to how they can serve God. The cause of God is scarcely in their thoughts.They will pinch and screw to see how little they can contribute in any way to the maintenance of the cause of truth, or tothe spread of the Redeemer's kingdom; they will so far condescend to consider religion, as to think how they can profess itinthe most economical manner, but nothing more. You will not hear me speak so foolishly and madly, as if I thought thatit were not just and laudable in a man to seek to make money to supply the wants of his family, or even to provide for themon his own decease; such a thing is just and right: but whenever this gets to be the main thought; and I am persuaded it isthe leading thought of too many professors, such men forget whose they are, and whom they serve; they are living to themselves;theyhave forgotten who it is that has said, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as with silver and gold." Oh! Ipray God that I may feel that I am God's man, that I have not a hair on my head which is not consecrated, nor a drop of my blood which is not dedicated to his cause; andI pray, brethren and sisters, that you may feel the same; that selfishness may clean die out of you; that you may be ableto say without any straining of the truth, "I have nothing to care for, nor tolive for in this world, but that I may glorify God, and spread forth the savour of my Saviour's name." We cannot expectthe Master's blessing till we are agreed about this. This is God's will: is it our will to-day? I know I have around me manyfaithful hearts, who will say, "My desire is, that whether I live or die, Christ may be glorified in me": if we be all of that mind, God will walk with us; but every one who is of another mind, and of adivided heart, is a hindrance and an injuryto us in our progress. It would be no loss to lose such persons, but a spiritual benefit to the entire cause, if thisdead lumber were cast out. When the body gets a piece of rotten bone into it, it never rests, till, with pain, it casts outthe dead thing: and so with the Church; the Church may be increased by dead members, but when she begins to get vigorous andfull of life, her first effort is with much pain, perhaps with much marring of her present beauty, to cause the dead substancetocome forth; and if this should be the case, though we shall pity those who are cast forth, yet for our own health's sake,we may thank God and take courage.
If we would have God with us we must be agreed as to the real desirableness and necessity of the conversion of souls. God thinks souls to be very precious, and his own words are, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the deathof him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live." Are we agreed with God in that? Our God thinks soulsto be so precious, that if a man could gain the whole world and lose his soul, he would be a loser. Arewe agreed with him there? In the person of Christ, our God wept over Jerusalem; watered with tears that city which mustbe given up to the flames. Have we tears, too? have we compassion, too? When God thinks of sinners it is in this wise: "Howshall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim?"Can we bemoan sinners in that way? Do we stir our souls to an agony of grief because men will turn from God and will wilfullyperish in their sin? If, on the contrary, you and I selfishly say, "We are safe, it does not matter to us whether othersare brought to know Christ," we are not agreed, God will not work with us; and such of you as feel this indifferentism, this cursed lethargy, are our bane, our burden,our hindrance. God forgive you, and stir you up to feel that your heart will not rest unless poor sinners are plucked as brandsfrom the burning. Are we agreed here?
If we would have the Lord with us, in the next place, we must be agreed as to the means to be used in revival. We are agreed that the first means is the preaching of Christ. We do not want any other doctrine than that we have received- Christ lifted up upon hiscross, as the serpent was lifted up upon the pole. This is the remedy which we, in this house of prayer, believe in. Let others choose sweet music, or pictures, or vestments, or baptismalwater, or confirmation, or human rites; we abhor them, and pour contempt upon them; as for us, our only hope lies in thedoctrine of a substitute for sinners, the great fact of the atonement, the glorious truth that Christ Jesus came into theworld to seek and to save sinners. I think we are agreed with God in this, that the preaching of Christ is the way by whichbelievers shall be saved. God's great agency is the Holy Spirit. We are agreed, brethren, that we do not want sinners to beconverted by our persuasion, we do not want them brought into the Church by excitement; we want the Spirit's work, andthe Spirit's work alone. I would not bend my knee once in prayer, much less day by day, to win a mere excitement; we have done without it, and we shall do without it by the grace of God; but I would give mine eyes, if I might but know that theHoly Spirit himself would come forth, and show what divinity can do in turning hearts of stone to flesh. In this thing, Ithink , that we are agreed with God. But God's way of blessing the Church is by the instrumentality of all her members. The multitude must be fed, but it must not be by Christ's hand alone, "He gave the bread to the disciples, andthe disciples, to the multitude." Are you all agreed here? I am afraid not. Many of you are engaged in works of usefulness,and I will make this my boast this day, that I had never thought that I should meet with a people so apostolic in their zealas the mostof you have been. I have marvelled, and my heart has rejoiced when I have seen what self-sacrifice some of the poorestamong you have made for Christ; what zeal, what enthusiasm you have manifested in the spreading abroad of the Saviour's name.But still there are some of you who are doing nothing whatever, you have a name to live, but I fear that you are dead; youare very seldom at a prayer-meeting-even some Church members and persons whom I know are not kept at home by business, butbysheer indifference to the cause of God. Some of you are never provoked to zeal and to good works. That you come and listento us, is something; and for what you do we are grateful; but for what you do not do, over this we mourn, because we fearthat we are restrained in our efforts for the spread of the Saviour's kingdom, because as a Church we are not agreed in God'splan; and we shall be restrained until every man in the Church can say, "I will consecrate myself this day unto the Lordof hosts; if there is anything to be done, be it to be a door-keeper in the house of God, here am I.
"There's not a lamb among his flock,
I would disdain to feed;
There's not a foe before whose face
I'd fear his cause to plead."
Yet again, dear friends, are we agreed this day as to our utter helplessness in this work? I caught a good sentence the other day. Speaking with a Wesleyan minister, I said to him, "Your denomination during the pastyear did not increase: you have usually had a large increase to your numbers. You were never so rich as now; your ministerswere never so well educated; you never had such good chapels as now, and yet you never had so little success. What are youdoing?-knowing this to be the fact, what are you doing? How are the minds of your brethren exercised with regard to this?"He comforted me much by the reply. He said, "It has driven us to our knees: we thank God that we know our state and are notcontent with it. We have had a day of humiliation, and I hope," he said, "some of us have gone low enough to be blessed."There is a great truth in that last sentence, "low enough to be blessed," I do fear me that some of us never do go low enoughtobe blessed. When a man says, "Oh! yes, we are getting on very well, we do not want any revival that I know of," I fearme he is not low enough to be blessed; and when you and I pray to God with pride in us, with self-exaltation, with a confidencein our own zeal, or even in the prevalence of our own prayers of themselves, we have not come low enough to be blessed. Anhumble Church will be a blessed Church; a Church that is willing to confess its own errors and failures, and to lieat the foot of Christ's cross, is in a position to be favoured of the Lord. I hope we are agreed, then, with God, as toour utter unworthiness and helplessness, so that we look to him alone.
I charge you all to be agreed with God in this thing, that if any good shall be done, any conversions shall occur, all the glory must be given to him. Revivals have often been spoiled, either by persons boasting that such-and-such a minister was the means of them, or else, as in the case of the North of Ireland, by boasting that the work was done without ministers. That revival, mark you, was stopped in its very midst and seriously damaged by beingmade a kind of curiosity, and a thing to be gazed at and to be wondered at by persons both at home and abroad. God doesnot care to work for the honour of men, either of ministers or of laymen, or of Churches either; and if we should say, "Ah!well, I should like to see the presence of God with us that we may have many conversions, and put it in the Magazine, andsay, that is how things are done at the Tabernacle," why we should not have a blessing that way. Crowns! crowns! crowns! butall forthy head Jesu! laurels and wreaths! but none for man, all for him whose own right hand and whose holy arm hath gottenhim the victory. We must all be agreed on this point, and I hope we are.
3. And now to conclude. LET US PUT AWAY ALL THOSE THINGS WHICH OFFEND OUR GOD.
Before God appeared upon Mount Sinai, the children of Israel had to cleanse themselves for three days. Before Israel couldtake possession of the promised rest of Canaan, Joshua had to see to it that they were purified by the rite of circumcision.Whenever God would visit his people, he always demands of them some preparatory purging, that they may be fit to behold hispresence; for two cannot walk together, unless that which would make them disagree be purged out. A fewsuggestions then, as to whether there is anything in us with which God cannot agree. Here I cannot preach to you indiscriminately,but put the task into the hand of each man to preach to himself. In the days of the great weeping, we read that every manwept apart and his wife apart, the son apart, and the daughter apart, all the families apart. So it must be here. Is therepride in me? Am I puffed up with my talent, my substance, my character, my success? Lord purge this out of me, orelse thou canst not walk with me, for none shall ever say that God and the proud soul are friends: he giveth grace tothe humble; as for the proud, he knoweth them afar off, and will not let them come near to him. Am I slothful? do I waste hours which I might usefully employ? Have I the levity of the butterfly, which flits from flower to flower, butdrinks no honey from any of them? or have I the industry of the bee, which, wherever it lights, would find some sweet storefor the hive?Lord, thou knowest my soul, thou understandest me. Am I doing little where I might do much? Hast thou had but little reapingfor much sowing? Have I hid my talent in a napkin? Have I spent that talent for myself, instead of spending it for thee? Slothfulsouls cannot walk with God. "My Father worketh," saith Jesus, "and I work"; and you who stand in the market-place idle, maystand there with the devil, but you cannot stand there with God. Let every brother who is guilty of this, purge away hissloth.
Or am I guilty of worldliness. This is the crying sin of many in the Christian Church. Do I put myself into association with men who cannot by any possibilityprofit me? Am I seen where my Master would not go? Do I love amusements which cannot afford me comfort when I reflect uponthem; and which I would never indulge in, if I thought that Christ would come while I was at them? Am I worldly in spiritas to fashion? Am I as showy, as volatile, as frivolous as men andwomen of the world? If so, if I love the world, the love of the Father is not in me; consequently he cannot walk withme, for we are not agreed.
Again, am I covetous? do I scrape and grind? is my first thought, not how I can honour God, but how I can accumulate wealth? When I gain wealth,do I forget to make use of it as a steward? If so, then God is not agreed with me; I am a thief with his substance; I haveset myself up for a master instead of being a servant, and God will not walk with me till I begin to feel that this is notmy own, but his; and that I must use it in his fear.
Again, am I of an angry spirit? Am I harsh towards my brethren? Do I cherish envy towards those who are better than myself, or contempt towards thosewho are worse off? If so, God cannot walk with me, for he hates envy, and all contempt of the poor is abhorrent to him. Isthere any lust in me? Do I indulge the flesh? Am I fond of carnal indulgences by which my soul suffers? If so, God will not walk with me;for chambering, and wantonness, and gluttony, anddrunkenness, separate between a believer and his God: these things are not convenient to a Christian. Before the greatfeast of unleavened bread, a Jewish parent would sweep out every piece of leaven from his house; and so anxious would he be,and so anxious is the Jew at the present day, that he take a candle and sweeps out every cupboard, no matter though theremay have been no food put in there at any time, he is afraid lest by accident a crumb may be somewhere concealed in the house;andso, from the garret to the cellar, he clears the whole house through, to purge out the old leaven. Let us do so. I cannotthink you will do so as the effect of such poor words as mine; but if my soul could speak to you, and God blessed the utterance, you would. For my own part, I cry unto my Master, that if there be anythingthat can make me more fit to be the messenger of God to you and to the sons of men, however painful might be the preparatoryprocess, he would graciously be pleasednot to spare me of it. If by sickness, if by serious calamities, if by slander and rebuke, more honour can be broughtto him, then hail! and welcome! all these things; they shall be my joy; and to receive them shall be delight. I pray you,utter the same desire: "Lord, make me fit to be the means of glorifying thee."
"The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee."
What! do you demur? Do you want for ever to go on in the old dead-and-alive way in which the Churches are just now? Do youfeel no sacred passion stirring your breast to anguish for the present, and to hope for the future? O ye cravens, who dread the battle, slink to your beds; but ye who have your Master's spirit in you, and would long to seebrighter and better days, lift up your heads with confidence in him who will walk with us if we be agreed.
My text has a main bearing upon the unconverted: I think of preaching from it this evening to those who are not agreed withGod, and who cannot walk with him. I pray that they may be reconciled unto God by the death of his Son; and the most likelymeans to accomplish this, will be by your earnest and fervent prayers. O Lord, hear and answer for Jesus' sake. Amen.
[Mr. Spurgeon's Sermon on "Baptismal Regeneration" has now reached the 180th thousand; it is felt to be important that itshould be still more widely circulated, and friends are urged to make an earnest effort to scatter it far and wide.]