Sermon 655. The Great Itinerant
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 22, 1865,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Who went about doing good." Acts 10:38.
You will observe, if you read the chapter before us, that Peter's sermon was short and much to the point. He preached JesusChrist to Cornelius immediately and unmistakably. He gave a very admirable sketch of the life of Jesus of which he affirmedhimself to have been an eyewitness and he broughtforward, in his closing sentence, just that simple Gospel which it is our joy to preach. "To Him all the Prophets witness,that through His name whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins."
This should be an instructive example to all professed ministers of the Gospel. We might say less about other matters withoutloss if we would say more about the Lord Jesus. If we should omit some other teaching, if there were more of a savor of thename and of the Person of Jesus Christ in ourministry, the omissions might be tolerated. It is a strange thing that men should profess to be sent of God and yet talkabout everything except the great message which they are sent to deliver!
My errand as a minister is to preach Christ and it will avail me little to have been clear and earnest upon other points ifI have neglected to set forth Christ Crucified. To put my own views of doctrine or moral practice in the place of Jesus isto put out the sun and supply its place with afarthing rush light-to take away the children's bread and offer them a stone. We commend Peter as an example to all whopreach or teach, either in the street, the sick chamber, or the House of Prayer-do as Peter did-come at once to the soul ofyour ministry, andset forth Christ Crucified in plain and simple language.
If any should plead that the subject should be adapted to the audience, we see from the narrative that there is sure to besomething in the history of Christ applicable to the case before us. Peter purposely gave prominence to certain points inthe history of the Master which would be most likelyto enlist the sympathy of Cornelius. He says of Him, "He is Lord of all," as much as to say, "He is not Lord of the Jewsonly, but also of the Gentiles, and therefore, O Cornelius, His dominion reaches to you. He is to be worshipped and adoredand He is to become a blessing and apropitiatory sacrifice, not only to Israel's hosts, but even to Italians. And therefore you, O Centurion, may take heart."
Perhaps the words of our text were uttered by Peter concerning Christ because they also would be sure to attract the noticeof a man who was "A devout man and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed toGod always." He did as much as say, "You go aboutdoing good, Cornelius. It is the very soul of your life to help the needy, to feed the hungry and to clothe the naked-Jesusalso went about doing good in a higher sense and I hold Him up to you as one to be beloved by every devout and generous heart."
Other points are to be noticed in Peter's address which were evidently adapted to the case before him, but we have said enoughto prove that there is something in the story of Jesus suitable to win the attention and to gain the heart of any congregation,large or small. Only let the Holy Spirithelp us to dilate upon the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and we have no need to wander abroad for foreign themes. We can sitat the foot of the Cross and find a perpetually profitable subject there. No need to gather the sheaves of science, or thesweet flowers of prose-ChristJesus is both our science and our poetry and as ministers we are complete in Him!
When we come forth to preach Him and to lift Him up, we are armed from head to foot and rich with weapons for our spiritualwarfare. Though learning and art have had no hand in fashioning our panoply, we need not fear that we shall meet a singlefoe who can withstand the terror of those celestialarms. God grant us Grace in all our teachings to keep close to Jesus Christ-for His love is a theme most fit for all casesand most sweet at all times.
The few words which we have taken for our text are an exquisite miniature of the Lord Jesus Christ. "He went about doing good."There are not many touches, but they are the strokes of a master's pencil. The portrait cannot be mistaken for anyone else.The mightiest conquerors may gaze upon itsbeauties but they cannot claim that it is intended to portray their lives. Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon-these went aboutconquering, burning, destroying, murdering. They went about not doing good. Prophets too, who professed to have been sentof God, have compassed sea and landto make proselytes, but the good which they accomplished none could see.
Mahomet's career was fraught with incalculable evil. The few good men and true, who, like Howard, have perambulated the worldseeking to minister to the necessities of mankind, have wept over the heavenly portrait and sighed that they are not morelike it. This is what they sought to be and so faras they copied this portrait, this is what they were. But they fall short of the original and are not slow to confess theirshortcomings. What Peter here draws in words, God's Divine Grace drew, in some measure, in lines of real life in the caseof Howard and some other followers ofJesus of Nazareth.
Still, in the highest and fullest sense, these words are applicable to none but the Master, for His followers could not dosuch good as He achieved. His is the model and theirs the humble copy. His the classic type and theirs the modest imitation.He did good and good only-but the best ofmen, being men at the best-sow mingled seed. And if they scatter handfuls of wheat, there is here and there a grain of rye.However carefully they may select the grains, yet the cockle and the hemlock will fall from their hands as well as the goodseed of the kingdom. Of theMaster and only of the Master is it true in the fullest and the broadest and most unguarded sense, "He went about doinggood."
Two things this morning-first I shall want you, dear Brethren, to consider Him. And then, in the second place, to consideryourselves.
I. The first occupation will be pleasing, as well as profitable. Let us CONSIDER HIM.
1. Consider first, His object. He went about, but His travel was no listless motion, no purposeless wandering here and there-"Hewent about doing good." O Man of God, have a purpose and devote your whole life to it! Be not an arrow shot at random, asin child's play! Choose your target, andswift as the bullet whizzes to the mark, so fly onwards towards the great aim and object of your life. Christ's object isdescribed in these words, "doing good." Of this we may say that this was His only purpose.
Long before He took upon Himself the nature of man, or even before man was formed of the dust of the earth, the heart of JesusChrist was set upon doing good. In the Eternal Council in which the sacred Three entered into stipulations of the EverlastingCovenant, Christ Jesus became the Surety ofthat Covenant in order that He might do good-good in the highest sense-good in snatching His people from the misery whichsin would bring upon them and good in manifesting the glorious attributes of God in a splendor which could not otherwise havesurrounded them.
His delights of old were with the sons of men, because they afforded Him an opportunity, such as He could find nowhere else,of doing good. He did good, it is true, among the angels, for the heavenly harps owe all their music to His Presence. Amongthe devils there was no room for positive good.They were given over to evil-but even there restraining goodness found work for itself in binding them down in iron bandslest their mischief should grow too rampant. On earth, however, was the widest scope and amplest room for goodness in itslargest sense-not merelythe goodness which restrains evil and the goodness which rewards virtue-but that greater goodness which descends to sin-strickenmortals and lifts them up from the dunghill of their miserable degradation to set them upon the Throne of Glory.
It was the eternal purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ, before the lamps of Heaven were kindled or stars began to glitter inthe vault of night, that He would do good. This was His practical object, when He made His ever-memorable descent from theThrone of His splendor to the manger of His poverty.Angels might well sing at Bethlehem, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men," for Jesus Christcame not condemning the world, but doing good.
His Presence in the manger did good. As it cheered both rich magi and poor shepherd, both learned and illiterate, both Simeonand Anna, with the knowledge that God had come down to men. His childhood afterwards did good, for though it was so unobtrusiveand obscure that a few words suffice to setit forth, yet He has become the very mirror of childhood's dutiful obedience to this day. His adult life was one practicalcarrying-out of the solitary object which brought Him from the Throne of Glory to the abodes of sinful men. He "went aboutdoing good."
Nor was this His purpose merely and the object of His errand, but His official prerogative. He received the name of
Jesus at His birth, "For He shall save His people from their sins." He was named "Christ," because the Spirit of the Lordwas upon Him and He was anointed to preach good tidings to the meek and to open the prisons to them that were bound. JesusChrist is the title which bespeaks One whose office itis to do good. Mention any name you please which belongs to the Savior and you will see that it is incumbent upon Him, exofficio, to go about doing good.
Is He a Shepherd? He must do good to His sheep. Is He a Husband? He must love His Church and give Himself for her, that Hemay cleanse and perfect her. Is He a Friend? He "sticks closer than a brother" and does good. Is He "the Lion of the tribeof Judah?" It is not to do damage or mischief toinnocence and weakness, but that, strong as a lion when he tears his prey, He may rend in pieces the foe of truth and goodness.Is he a Lamb? Here His goodness shows itself most completely, for He lays down His life that His Israel may go free when thedestroying angel smites Egypt.Everywhere it was His peculiar prerogative and His special business to go about doing good.
But more, it was not only His intention and the object of His errand and His prerogative, but His actual performance. He didgood in all senses. Jesus Christ worked physical benefit among the sons of men. How many blind eyes first saw the light throughthe touch of His fingers! How many silent earsheard the charming voice of affection after He had said, "Be open"! Even the gates of death were no barrier to the errandsof His goodness. The widow at the gate of Nain felt her heart leap within her for joy when her son was restored. And Maryand Martha were glad when Lazarus cameforth from his grave. Jesus Christ did good physically.
We have thought that our Lord did this not merely to show His power and universality of His benevolence and to teach spiritualTruth by acted parables, but also to say to us in these days, "Followers of Jesus, do good in all sorts of ways. You may thinkit is your special calling to feed souls, butremember that your Master broke loaves and fishes to hungry bodies. You may deem it your chief object to instruct the ignorant,but remember that He healed the sick. You may make it your chiefjoy to pray for the healing of sick spirits, but rememberthat He rescued many bodies fromincurable disease."
As much as lies in us, let us do good unto all men, and good of all kinds, too, though it is specially to the household offaith, and specially in a spiritual sense. Let no act of mercy seem beneath him who is a follower of the Man that went aboutdoing good. There is a spirit springing up among uswhich is very dangerous though it wears the garb of excessive spirituality. It is impractical and unchristlike-a spiritwhich talks in this fashion-"The sons of men tried to improve the world and make it better, but as for Enoch, the man of God,he knew that the worldwas so bad that it was of no avail to attempt to better it and therefore he left it alone and walked with God."
It may be well, they say, for such carnal-minded Christians as some of us to try and improve society and to give a bettertone to morals, but these dear spiritual Brethren are so taken up with Divine things and so assured that the mission is ofa supercelestial character that they will have nothingto do with blessing mankind, being quite sufficiently occupied with blessing themselves and one another. I pray God thatwe may never fall into the impractical speculations and separations of certain Brethren whose superior sanctity they mustallow us to suspect. Thelarge-heartedness of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of the most glorious traits in His Character. He scattered good of allsorts on all sides. Let us, if we profess to be His followers, never be straitened even by pretended spirituality. Do good"as much as lies in you," to the utmostextent of your power and let that be of every sort.
It strikes me that the Lord Jesus also did much moral good. Where He did not save spiritually, yet He elevated. I am not surethat that poor adulteress was ever truly converted and yet I know that He said, "Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin nomore." And I can well believe that in this respect,at least, she would sin no more. I do not know that the Pharisees ever became followers of the Man of Nazareth, and yetI cannot conceive that they could have listened to His stern rebukes against their hypocrisy without being in some measurehumbled, if not enlightened. Or if theywere not better, at any rate, their professions would not be so readily allowed.
Society would receive, as it were, a tonic from those sharp and bitter words of the Master and become too strong and masculineto receive any longer the lofty boastings of those mere pretenders. Jesus Christ, when He sat down on the mount, did not delivera spiritual sermon of the style commonlyclassed under that head. That sermon on the mount is, for the most part, morality-good high, heavenly morality-higher thanany teacher ever reached before. But there is very little in it about justification by faith or concerning Atonement! Verylittle about the doctrineof election, the work of the Holy Spirit, or final perseverance.
The fact is the Master was doing moral as well as spiritual good. And coming among a degraded people who had set darknessfor light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, He thought it a part of His vocation to preach tothem truth on that subject as well as upon the higherthemes concerning His advent and His salvation. Dear Friends, this admonishes us to seek the moral good of the people amongwhom we dwell! The Christian minister must not lay aside his ministry to become the mere moralist lecturer, but he may andshould lecture upon morals-andhe can say some things in lectures which he could not say in sermons. Let him, by all means, occasionally leave the pulpitfor the platform if he can do service to society!
Let him do good in every possible shape and way. I think that it is the Christian minister's place not simply to preach thehigh and glorious doctrine of the Cross, but also to deal with the current sins of mankind as did the Prophets of old-andto inculcate those virtues most needed in theState-as did men God sent in the ages which are past. Jesus Christ went about doing good, we say, of a moral kind as wellas of a spiritual order, but still the Savior's great good was spiritual. This was the great end that He was driving at-thebringing out of a peopleprepared to receive Himself and His salvation-He came preaching Divine Grace and peace.
His great object was the spiritual emancipation of the bondaged souls of men. Beloved, how He sought after this! What tearsand cries went up to God from the mountain's bleak summit! With what earnest intercession did He plead with men when He addressedthem concerning repentance and faith! "Woeunto you, Bethsaida! Woe unto you, Chorazin!" were not words spoken by One who had a tearless eye. "Woe unto you, Capernaum!"was not the desolating curse of One who had a hard, unsympathetic heart.
The Savior, when He wept over Jerusalem, was only doing once before men what He did all His life before God. He wept oversinners! He longed for their salvation! "Never man spoke like that Man." Having the highest Truth, He spoke it after the highestfashion. Never the ostentation of eloquence,never the affectation of oratory-but ever the earnest, still, small pleading voice which "does not break the bruised reed,nor quench the smoking flax." He went about in His daily preaching instructing the people because He found them as sheep withouta shepherd, and therefore"He taught them many things."
Physical, moral, spiritual good, good of all sorts the Savior did-and while I close this point as to His object of life, letme say that He did something more than all this-He worked enduring good which abides with us now. The good that holy men dois imperishable. The Scripture says,"Their works do follow them," but not to the grave-their works ascend upward. If our works followed our bodies, they wouldrot in the tomb. But they follow our souls and therefore mount up to immortality. Look upon the world and see whether JesusChrist is not still in Spiritgoing about doing good! He has gone up to Glory, but the Spirit of His life and of His teaching is still among us.
And what is His religion doing? Ask of our sires and they will tell you how this land was translated from a region of savagesinto the abode of peace and joy! Look yourselves, in your own day, to the far off islands of the south and see how they havebeen transformed from dens of the wildblood-loving cannibals into abodes of civilized men! Jesus Christ's Gospel flies like an angel through the midst of Heavenproclaiming good news to men! And wherever its foot rests but for an hour, it transforms the desert into an Eden and makesthe wilderness blossom as the rose!May the Savior help us so to live that when we die we may have sown some seeds which shall blossom over our tomb.
Thus we have given an outline of the Savior's doing good. May we add this sentence as a comfort to any here who are seekingJesus. If it were His eternal purpose and His life's mission to do good, and He went about to find out the objects of it,why should He not do good to you? If He healed theblind. If He gave spiritual sight, why should He not give it to you? O may the desire be breathed by you, poor seeking Soul,breathed solemnly but hopefully to Him-"O You who in the days of Your flesh did take pity upon misery and wretchedness inevery shape, take pity uponme! Save me with Your great salvation!"
Rest assured, beloved Hearer, that prayer will not go up to Heaven in vain! His ears are still open to hear the cry of woeand His hands are still ready to giving the healing touch and the voice to say, "I will, be you clean." May He do good inyou this morning!
2. A short time may be profitably spent in considering the mode in which this object was accomplished. We are told that He"went about doing good," which seems to suggest several points. First of all He did the good Personally. He "went about doinggood." He might, if He had chosen, have selectedHis place and having seated Himself, He might have sent out His Apostles as ambassadors to do good in His place. But youwill recollect that when He sent them out, it was not that they might be proxies, but that they might be heralds. He sentthem two and two unto every place whereHe Himself would go.
They were to be to Him what John the Baptist had been at His first coming. Jesus Christ entered the field of labor in Person.It is remarkable how the evangelists constantly tell us that He touched the leper with His own finger. That He visited thebedside of those sick with fever and in caseswhere He was asked to speak the word only at a distance, He did not usually comply with such a request, but went Himselfto the sick bed and there Personally worked the cure. A lesson to us if we would do good well-do it ourselves.
There are some things which we cannot do ourselves. We cannot remain among our families in England, for instance, and preachthe Gospel in Hindustan. We cannot be engaged this morning in listening to the Word and at the same time visiting the lodginghouse or den of iniquity in some back street.There are some works of mercy which are best performed by others-but we can make these more personal by looking after theworker and taking a deeper interest in him-and by attending him with our prayers. I wish that much more benevolence were performedby men themselves.
I do not care to speak against Societies! But it is such an odd thing that if I have twenty-one shillings to give away, Icannot give them to a deserving family myself. I must make it into about fifteen shillings before it goes at all by payingit into a royal something or other Society! And thenit proceeds by a roundabout method and at last is delivered to the poor by a mere hand without a soul. And it is receivedby the poor, not as a gift of charity, but rather as a contribution from an unknown something with a secretary which needsa place in which to drop its funds.
Why should you not go and give away the twenty-one shillings yourself, lovingly and tenderly? It will be better than lettingsomebody else pare it down to fifteen and give it away coldly and officially. So much depends upon the way of doing good.The look, the word, the prayer, the tear will oftenbe more valuable to the widow than that half-crown which you have given her. I heard a poor person once say, "Sir, I wentto So-and-So for help and he refused me. But I would sooner be refused by him than I would have money given to me by So-and-So,"mentioning another who gave itwith a sort of, "Well, you know I do not approve of giving anything to such as you are, but here it is-you must have itI suppose, so be off with you."
Give your alms away yourselves and you will learn, by so doing, it will enable you to exercise Christian virtues. You willwin a joy which it were not worthwhile to lose, and you will confer, in addition to the benevolence that you bestow, a blessingwhich cannot be conferred by the person who isyour substitute. He went about doing good. He did it Himself. Oh, some of you-preach yourselves, I pray you! Talk to theSunday school children yourselves! Give away tracts-that is well enough if you cannot speak-but do try and talk yourselves.The influence ofthat hand laid upon your friend's shoulder, those eyes of yours looking into his eyes as you say, "Friend, I wish you wereconverted, my soul longs for your salvation"-there is more in that influence than in a whole library of tracts!
Seek souls yourselves! Fish with your own hooks. You cannot help being successful if you imitate your Master and do good yourselvesin the power of the Holy Spirit. The Savior not only "went about doing good" Personally, but His very Presence did good. ThePresence of the Savior is, in itself, agood, apart from the blessings which He bestowed. At the sight of Him courage revived! Drooping faith grew strong! Hopebrushed a tear from her eye and smiled! The sight of Jesus Christ as once it calmed the waves and hushed the winds, did soa thousand times in men souls.
Even devils, when they saw Him, cried out and trembled. Sinners wept at the sight of His pitying goodness. The woman who brokethe alabaster box of precious ointment felt that the only fit place to break it was near to Him. His Presence made her sacredaction yet more sweet. What cannot men do whenChrist is there? And, O Beloved, if we are anything like our Master, our presence will be of some value. There are someof my Brethren, when I see them, I feel strong. You go into a little Prayer Meeting and numbers are not there-but such a saintis there and you feel, "Well,if he is there, there is a Prayer Meeting at once."
You have work to do. It is very hard and toilsome, and you cannot prosper in it. But a Brother drops into your little Sundayschool, or into your class and looks at it and you feel, "Well, if I have that man's sympathy, I can go on again." Thereforebe careful to give your presence as much as youcan to every good work and do not isolate yourself from those actually engaged in labors of love. Does not our Lord's goingabout doing good set forth His incessant activity? He did not only the good which was round about Him, which came close tohand-He did not only the goodwhich was brought to Him as when men were brought on their beds and laid at His feet-he "went about." He could not be satisfiedto be still. Throughout the whole land of Judea, from Dan to Beersheba, He trod its weary acres. There was scarcely a villageor a hamlet which hadnot been gladdened by the sight of Him. Even Jericho, accursed of old, had been blessed by His Presence and a great sinnerhad been made a great saint. He went everywhere casting salt into the bitter waters and sowing with sunshine the abodes ofsadness. He was ever active in God sservice!
Oh, the creeping, crawling manner in which some people serve the Lord! The very way in which some people mumble through religiousexercises is enough to make one sick at heart, to think that the solemn offices of religion should be entrusted to such inanimatebeings! If God of old said of Laodiceathat He would spew that Church out of His mouth, what will He do with those professors in modern times who are the verypink of propriety, but who were never touched with fire from Heaven and know not what the word "zeal" means? Our Master washere and there, and everywhere! Let usgird up the loins of our mind and be not weary in doing well, but be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the workof the Lord."
Does not the text also imply that Jesus Christ went out of His way to do good? "He went about doing good." There were shortcuts which He would not take because there were persons dwelling in the roundabout way who must be met with. "He must needsgo through Samaria." It is said that that city layin the straightest way to Jerusalem. So it was, but it was not the right way, because the Samaritans so hated those whosefaces were towards Jerusalem, that they maltreated them whenever they could. Yet the Master did not care for perils of waylayingenemies. He did not select thesmoothest or the safest road, but He selected that in which there was a woman to whom He could do good.
He sits down on the well. I know it was not merely weariness that made Him sit there. And when He said, "I thirst: give Meto drink," it was not merely that He was thirsty! He had another weariness-He was patient over that woman's sin and longedto reveal Himself to her! He had anotherthirst-He did not mean merely, "Give me water out of that well." When He said, "Give me to drink," He meant, "Give Me yourheart's love. My soul pants for it. I want to see you-a poor adulterous sinner-saved from sin."
How else do we understand the words which He said to His disciples, when they wondered that He spoke with the woman? He said,"I have meat to eat that you know not of, for it is My meat and My drink to do the will of Him that sent Me." He had receivedmeat and drink in seeing that woman leave herwater pot and go away to tell her fellow sinners, "Come, see a Man which told me all things that ever I did. Is not thisthe Christ?" He went round about after the objects of His gracious desires. So must the Christian. You must not be contentto do good in the regular circle ofyour move-ments-that is so far so good, but go beyond your old line! Break through the bounds of propriety every now andthen and do an odd thing.
I believe that sometimes these odd expedients achieve more than regular methods. That was a quaint expedient of those whobroke up the roof to let down a palsied man that Jesus might heal him. There has been a good deal said about that roof. Accordingto some people it was not a roof at all but asort of awning! But this morning we will stick to our old version which tells us, "they broke up the tiling." This musthave made it a very bad predicament for those down below! but I dare say those up top argued-"Well, the Savior is there andif anybody shall be hurt by atile or two He can easily heal them. Anyhow we will get this man before Him, for this is the case in which we feel mostconcerned." Ah, dear Friends, many people are so particular about making a little dust or breaking up a few tiles! But ourmind is, "never care about that," therewill be time to clean the repair after souls are saved and for so great an end as salvation we may neglect some few nicetiesand punctilios and be most of all vehemently desirous that we may do good.
We have not quite done with the text yet. It means, too, that Jesus Christ went far in doing good. The district of Palestinewas not very large, but you will observe that He went to the limit of it. He was, as it were, the bishop of the Holy Landand He never went out of the diocese, for He said Hewas not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But He went to the outer limits of it. He went to the coastsof Tyre and Sidon. If He might not go over the mark, yet He will go up to the edge. So if there should happen to be any limitto your doing good in anyparticular place, at least go to the end of the limit.
However, I rather like Rowland Hill's thought-when he was blamed for preaching out of his parish, he claimed that he neverdid so, for the whole world was his parish. Make the world the sphere of your occupation, according to the parable, "the fieldis the world." I admire the Lord's goingabout not simply for the miles He traveled, but for the space of character over which He passed. He "went about." It isnothing wonderful that He went as far as Tyre and Sidon, but it is much that He went as far as publicans and sinners! I donot wonder that He went from Dan toBeersheba, but I have wondered often that He went so far as to save harlots by His Grace.
We may in this sense go about doing good without traveling across the sea. A minister once announced to his congregation oneSunday morning, "I am going on a mission to the heathen." Now he had not told his deacons about it and they looked at oneanother. The good people in the congregation, someof them, began to take out their pocket handkerchiefs. They thought their minister was going to leave them-he was so usefuland necessary to them that they felt sad at the bare idea of loosing him. "But" he added, "I shall not be out of town."
So you may go on a mission to the heathen without going out of this huge town of ours. You might almost preach to every sortof literal heathen within the bounds of London-to Parthians, Medes and Elamites-and the dwellers of Mesopotamia. There aremen of every color, speaking everylanguage under Heaven, now living in London. And if you want to convert Mahometans, Turks, Chinese, men from Bengal, Java,or Borneo, you may find them all here! There are always representatives of every nation close at our door. If you want menwho have gone far in sin, greatforeigners in that respect, you need not certainly leave London for that! You shall find men and women rotten with sin andreeking in the nostrils of God with their abominations. You may go about doing good and your railway ticket need not costyou one farthing!
No doubt Christ's perseverance is intended in our text, for when rejected in one place, He goes to another. If one will nothear, another will. The unity of His purpose is also hinted at. He does not go about with two aims, but this one absorbs allHis heart-"doing good." And the success,too, of His purpose is here intended. He went about and not only tried to do good, but He did it-He left the world betterthan He found it when He ascended to His Father God.
3. One moment concerning the motive of Christ's doing good. It is not far to seek. He did good partly because He could nothelp it. It was His Nature to do good. He was all goodness and as the clouds which are full of rain empty themselves uponthe earth, even so must He. You will have observedthat all the good things which God has made are diffusive. There is light- you cannot confine light within narrow limits.Suppose we were to grow so bigoted and conceited as to conceive that we had all the light in the world inside this Tabernacle.We might have iron shuttersmade to keep the light in-yet it is very probable that the light would not agree with our bigotry and would not come inat all-but leave us in the dark for wanting to confine it.
With splendid mirrors, Turkish carpets, jewelry, fine pictures and rare statuary you may court the light to come into palatialhalls. It comes, it is true, but as it enters it whispers, "And I passed through the iron grating of a prison, just now. Ishone upon the poor cottager beneath the rudethatched roof. I streamed through the window out of which half the glass was gone and gleamed as cheerily and willinglyupon the rags of poverty as in these marble halls." You cannot clip the wings of the morning, or monopolize the golden raysof the sun! What a space the light hastraversed doing good! Millions of miles it has come streaming from the sun and yet further from yonder fixed star.
Light! Why could you not be contented with your own sphere? Why journey so far from home? Missionary rays come to us fromso vast a distance that they must have been hundreds of years in reaching us and yet their mission is not over, for they flashon to yet remoter worlds. So with theair-as far as the world is concerned the air will throw itself down the shaft of the deepest coal pit, climb the loftiestAlp-and although men madly strive to shut it out-it will thrust itself into the fever lair and cool the brow of cholera.
So with water. Here it comes dropping from every inch of the cloudy sky, flooding the streets, flushing the foul sewers andsoaking into the dry soil. Everywhere it will come, for water claims to have its influence felt everywhere. Fire, too! Whocan bind its giant hands? The King cannot claim itas a royal perquisite. Among those few sticks which the widow woman with the red cloak has been gathering in the woods,it burns as readily as in Her Majesty's palace. It is the Nature of Jesus to diffuse Himself-it is His life to do good. Hisgrand motive, no doubt, is thedisplay of the glorious attributes of God.
He went about doing good in order that Jehovah might be revealed in His splendor to the eyes of adoring men. He is the manifestationof Godhead. He is the express image of His Father's Person. "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." And throughHeaven and earth, and sky and sun andstars, all show forth something of the goodness of God, yet the life of Jesus is the fullest and clearest manifestationof the beneficence of Deity that ever will be accorded to the sons of men. This is an object worthy of God, to manifest Himselfand such an object Christ setbefore Him when He came to do good among the sons of men.
1 have not said enough about the Savior, but still as much as time allows us and I will close this point with this one thing-ifJesus Christ went about doing good and if His motive was simply God's Glory-poor troubled Sinner-cannot He glorify God inyou? You need pardon-youwill be an illustrious instance of God's Grace if He should ever save you! Have hope. If Jesus Christ goes about, you arenot too far off. If He looks upon the most forlorn, you are not in too desperate a plight. Cry to Him when your spirit isoverwhelmed! Look to the Rock that ishigher than you! "From the ends of the earth have I cried unto You, O God and You heard me." May it be your joy today tofind Him your Friend, who "went about doing good."
II. We were in the second place to CONSIDER OURSELVES. This is the application of the subject. Consider ourselves, then, asto the past, with sorrow and shamefacedness. Have we gone about doing good? I fear there are some here who never did any spiritualgood! The tree is corrupt and it cannotbring forth good fruit. The fountain is bitter and it cannot yield sweet water. You must be born again before you can goabout doing good! While your nature is as father Adam left it, good cannot come from you. "There is none that does good, nonot one."
How clearly this is true in some persons, as proved by their very profession. The profession of some men is one in which theycannot hope to do good. There are some in all callings who either do positive harm, or at any rate cannot imagine that theyare doing any good. Let them repent! "Every treethat brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire." God grant that neither our character nor our vocationmay stand in the way of our doing good!
But you who have new hearts and rights spirits and are saved by faith in the precious blood of Jesus, have you done all thegood you could? I dare not say yes-I wish I could dare it! No, Master, there must have been many times when I might have servedYou when I have not done it. I have beenan unprofitable servant. I have not done what was my duty to have done.
Ah, some of you have missed a world of joy in having done so little good. You have not given, therefore you are not increased.You never gave to others much, and so they have not given back to you full measure, pressed down and running over. You havenot borne the burdens of others and so your ownburden has become heavy and intolerable. Christians, in looking back upon the past, must you not drop tears of regret? Anddo you not bless that preserving love which still follows you? Yes, which will never let you go! And in spite of your barrennessand unfruitfulness, it will notcease to work upon you till it has made you meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light-who day withoutnight serve God in His Temple!
As to the future. The old question comes up-if any man today says, "I am resolved to go about doing good"-is he able to doit? And again, the reply comes-we must first be good, or else we cannot do good. The only way to be good is to seek to thegood One, the good Master! If youhave a new heart and a right spirit, then go your way and serve Him! But if not, pause awhile. Unto the wicked, God says,"What have you to do to declare My statutes?" He will have clean-handed men to do His work! Wash first in the bronze laverif you would be a priest. God will nothave men for His servants who would defile the sacred place. "Be you clean that bear the vessels of the Lord."
God give us to rest implicitly upon the Lord Jesus Christ by a living faith and so to be cleansed in His precious blood. Andthen we may resolve to go forth and live for Him. Have we any work to do now that we can set about at once? If we have, whateverour hands find to do, let us do it. Let usnot be asking for greater abilities than we have. If we can get them, let us do so-but meanwhile let us use what we have.Go, Housewife, to your house, and from the lowest chamber to the top go about doing good-here is range enough for you!
Go, Teacher, to your little school and among those boys or girls, let your example imitate Christ, and there is range enoughfor you! Go, Worker, to your shop and among your fellow workmen. Let fall here and there a word for Christ! Above all, letyour example shine, and there is work for you. Youdomestic servants, the kitchen is sphere enough for you. You shall go about doing good from the dresser to the fireplaceand you shall have width enough and breadth enough to make it a kingdom consecrated to God!
Without leaving your position, any one of you-without giving up the plow, or the cobbler's lap stone, or the needle, or theplane, or the saw, any business-without any of you good sisters wanting to be nuns, or any of us putting on the serge andbecoming monks-in our own callinglet us go about doing good! The best preparation for it will be to renew our dedication to Christ, be much in earnest prayer,seek the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit and then go forth in our Master's strength with this as our resolve-thatas imitators of JesusChrist it shall be said of us, "He went about doing good."
May God add His blessing for the Savior's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Acts 10.