Sermon 692. Joy And Peace In Believing
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 20, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Joy and peace in believing.'" Romans 15:13.
I WOULD address myself, this morning, to a special class and if there should be no spiritual instruction for others, I trustthat they will follow what is said with their prayers, that the word may be useful to those for whom it is mainly intended.There are a large number of persons who profess tohave believed in the Lord Jesus Christ but who assert that they have no joy and peace in believing. They do not make thisprofession by union with the Christian Church or in any open manner, but when they are pushed upon the matter of personalsalvation, they will sometimes tell us,"I do believe in Christ, but still I am so unhappy, I am so miserable, that I cannot believe that I am saved."
That statement being tantamount to this-that the Word of God declares that whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned-butthey assert that they have believed in Jesus and nevertheless they are haunted with fears of condemnation which lead themto believe that they cannot have beendelivered from the wrath to come. Now, I shall suppose that the persons whom I am trying to address this morning are sincerelyanxious to be saved and that they are not raising this difficulty by way of cavil. If they are cavilers, I shall not attemptto deal with them this morning.
Such persons need a discourse to themselves. I am speaking to tender hearts, or to those who desire to have tender hearts-tothose who have their faces towards Jerusalem though as yet they travel in the dark. If you are really desirous to obtain joyand peace through believing, we trust Godmay bless you to the obtaining of it this morning. We suppose, also, that the persons whom we are addressing are not laboringunder any bodily sickness such as might bring on hypochondria feelings and those despondencies which are rather the symptomsof physical disease than marksof spiritual feeling.
I believe there are some persons who are beyond the reach of the preacher and who must be dealt with, if treated at all successfully,by the ordinary physician. Their case has gone beyond the limits of argument. Their mind has got into a disordered conditionand the body, also, and therefore bothbody and mind must be set right by some other means before it is likely that spiritual reasons will prevail upon them. Providedyou are sane people in some measure of health, and that you are sincere persons, we think that with God's blessing we maybe the means of comfort to youthis morning.
At any rate, we will try. And we will begin by making two observations. We grant to you that joy and peace are exceedinglydesirable things. We hope you will never be satisfied until you get them and enjoy very much of them-until you are, in fact,as the text puts it-filled with joy andpeace. For your own sakes this is very desirable because your present condition is a very mournful and unhappy one. It isstill more desirable for the sake of your acquaintances and kinsfolk, for they set down your present despondency to your religion,and so you tend, unwittingly,to dishonor the Cross of Christ.
I know you would be willing to suffer anything sooner than that the Gospel should be evilly spoken of. But it is evilly spokenof through you, and necessarily so, because you cannot expect carnal persons to have a discernment between your religiousfeelings, which are right, and those which arewrong. They set your present despondency down to religious feelings of some sort and with one sweeping verdict they areapt to condemn religion altogether.
Now you do not wish this, surely for their own good-for you desire them to find peace. With all your anxiety for yourselfyou are not selfish-you wish others to enjoy peace in Christ. You would consent, I believe, to the loss of your right eyeif your husband and children, if your wifeand friends might be reconciled to God by the blood of the Cross. At present, however you are standing in the way-and insteadof assisting by proving that "her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace," you are doing an injury tothose dear immortal souls bythe misrepresentation which you give them. I grant again that this is done unwittingly, but alas, you are as surely injuringthem as if you designed to do them evil.
But a second remark I must also venture upon, namely that you must take care, while valuing joy and peace, that you do notoverestimate them. Remember that joy and peace are, though eminently desirable, not infallible evidences of safety. Thereare many persons who have great joy and much peace whoare not saved. Their joy springs from a mistake, and their peace is the false peace which does not rest upon the rock ofDivine Truth but upon the sand of their own imaginations. It is certainly a good sign that spring is come, that you find theweather to be so warm, but there arevery mild days in winter.
I must not infer because the heat of the sun is at such and such a degree, that therefore it is necessarily spring. And, onthe other hand, we have had very cold days this week-cold days which, if we had to judge by such evidences, might have convincedus that we were rather in November thanin May. And so, joy and peace are like fine sunny days. They come to those that have no faith that are in the winter oftheir unbelief, and they may not visit you who have believed. Or, if they come, they may not stay, for there may be cold weatherin May and there may be somesorrow and some distress of mind even to a truly believing soul.
Understand that you must not look upon the possession of joy and peace as being the absolutely necessary consequence of yourbeing saved. A man may be in the lifeboat, but that lifeboat may be so tossed about that he may still feel himself exceedinglyill and think himself to be still in peril. Itis not his sense of safety that makes him safe-he is safe because he is in the lifeboat-whether he is sensible of it ornot. Understand, then, that joy and peace are not infallible or indispensable evidences of safety, and that they are certainlynot unchangingevidences.
The brightest Christians lose their joy-and some of those that stand well in the things of God, and concerning whom you wouldentertain no doubt-entertain a great many suspicions, however, about themselves. Joy and peace are the elements of a Christian,but he is sometimes out of hiselement. Joy and peace are his usual state, but there are times when, with fights within and wars without, his joy departsand his peace is broken. The leaves on the tree prove that the tree is alive, but the absence of leaves will not prove thatthe tree is dead.
True joy and peace may be very satisfactory evidences, but the absence of joy and peace, during certain seasons, can oftenbe accounted for on some other hypothesis than that of there being no faith within. And, once more, I pray you, dear Friends,not to seek joy and peace as the first and mainthing. Let your prayer be, "Lord, give me comfort, but give me safety first. Forbid that I should take comfort except fromYour right hand." Use Toplady's vow, which he puts into verse-
"/ will not be comforted Till Jesus comforts me."
Believe that it were better for you to go all your life in darkness and to end in everlasting life and light, than to enjoymuch of what you thought to be heavenly joy here, and then to go into outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing,and gnashing of teeth. Be anxious to be happy, butbe more anxious to be holy. Be desirous after peace, but be more desirous, still, to get a good hope through Christ fromwhich that peace may flow.
I like the fruit of the tree, but if I transplant the tree and put it into my garden, I should like that better. I like thegold from the mine, but if I may become the possessor of the mine itself, I should much prefer it. I like joy and peace, butI like better, still, that sacred faith whichlooks to Christ and brings me joy and peace as a consequence.
Well now, having thus paved the way by these remarks, we come more distinctly to the text. The text speaks of joy and peacein believing.
I. And the first observation shall be this-THE TEXT MAY BE USED TO CORRECT TWO ERRORS very, very common and very dangerous.The first of the two errors the text corrects is the error of supposing that there is a way of joy and peace through self.This is the broad road that leads to death,but it is full of travelers. In different forms and ways the most of men are trying to obtain joy and peace through somethingdone by themselves, instead of resting upon the finished work of the Savior.
Some look for joy and peace through good works. Now I can suppose that if you and I had never sinned, joy and peace wouldhave been the consequences of perfect holiness. Adam in the garden must have had joy as the result of serving so good a Master,and he must have felt peace when at nightfall hecould say, "O God, I have kept Your command, and I have not touched the forbidden fruit." Still the fear would haunt him,"perhaps I may do so," and that dark suspicion would go far to dampen his joy and disturb his peace.
But do you think that this can bring you solid peace? Since you and I have broken God's Law, any rational joy and peace areimpossible under the Covenant of Works, for whatever may be the perfection of our future life, it can make no atonement forthe past. You have broken the alabastervase-you may preserve the fragments if you will-but you cannot make it whole again. You have spoiled the perfection of yourobedience, and having ruined it, God cannot receive it at your hands. YOU may try if you please, but take my word for it,(for I have tried it,too), it is as unlikely for you ever to get peace by attempting to obey God's Law as it is to gather grapes from thornsor figs from thistles.
Many who are conscious of this run to another form. They say, "Then I will do my best, and having done my best I shall, atany rate be able to say, 'Well, I can do no more.' " A man who is drowning may say that, but it is no solace to him as thebillows close over him. In yonder burning house thewoman in the upper story who has thought over all the plans of escaping finds it no sort of comfort to say, "I have doneall I can and can therefore do no more."
What if you should do all you can? I am afraid none of you will ever do it, yet if you should there is no peace or joy tobe found in that. Some try the plan of scrupulous observance of all religious ceremonies! Now, however much these rites andservices may differ externally, yet trusting in themis the same in all cases. You, all of you, feel vexed with the Romanist that he can rely upon confession, upon penance imposedby his priest, or upon the hearing of masses.
You are indignant with the Puseyite that in a professedly Protestant church he should put confidence in his baptism and confirmation,and so on. But are you equally indignant with yourself that you should rely upon your own prayers or upon your own tears?Is there any more virtue before God in yourprayers than in the prayers of priests? There certainly is no less, but is there any more? Is there any more virtue in yourtears than there may be in those of a so-called saint? I tell you that if you trust in these things, your holiest emotionsand your best desires are nothingbut an antichrist-foul and unclean-which God will abhor!
The way of salvation is not by your holiness nor by your ceremonies, nor by anything upon which you can put your hand. "Ifyou lift up your hammer upon it," said God of His altar, "you have polluted it." And so have you, if you have put your littlefinger to the work. Unless it is all of Christ andnot of yourself you have polluted it. And God will see to it that no joy or peace shall ever come to you by that road. Donot, therefore, try it! Do not try to get joy and peace by penitential feelings, by humbling yourself, by consecrating yourlife, or by any attempts of thiskind. These things are good, pre-eminently good in themselves if they are used lawfully-but to rest in them will be yourruin. As to your present peace and joy-it can never be obtained by work or by anything from yourself.
But the text also corrects another common error, namely, turning the text upside down. There is such a thing as joy and peacein believing, and some simpletons, therefore, infer that there is such a thing as believing in joy and peace! I believe thereis such a thing but that it is of Satan, andthat the sooner we are clear of it the better. My dear Friend, to get joy and peace through believing is one thing-it isGod's plan of salvation-but to get your believing as the result of your joy and peace is quite another thing. It is of yourself,and is a snare ofSatan. Beware of it!
You will get peace just as the florist gets his flower from the bulb-but you will never get the bulb from the flower. Takethe tulip and try it. That fine flower will come up if you put that ugly bulb into the ground and give it time. You will getthe glory of the flower before long. But takethe flower and put it into the best prepared earth and see if you will ever get the bulb! Now joy and peace are the soul'sflower. And if you get faith into the ground, joy and peace will come of it. But if you get joy and peace first and say, "NowI believe," no you do not-itis not believing-it is the very opposite of it!
You must not, therefore, reverse the laws and rules of right procedure. Let me just argue this point with you. To trust Christbecause you feel happy is, in the first place, irrational. Now suppose a man should have said during the last panic, "I feelsure that the Bank my money is in is safe."Why? "Because I feel so easy about my money." Now anybody would say to him, "That is no reason."
Suppose he said, "I feel sure that my money is safe," and you had said, "What is the reason?" "Why because I believe the Bankis safe." "Oh," say you, "that is right enough. That is good reasoning." But here you put the effect in the place of the causeand try to make that a cause, but you cannotdo it. If a man should say, "I have got a large estate in India." How do you know? "Why, because I feel so happy in thinkingabout it." "Why, you fool," say you, "that is no proof whatever, not the slightest." But if he says to you, "I feel very happy,"and you ask him why, and hereplies, "Because I have got an estate in India." "Oh," say you, "that may be right enough."
A man may be thankful for that which he rightly possesses, but to make joy and peace the evidence of facts from without issupremely ridiculous! For a man to say, "I know I am saved, because I am happy," is most irrational-while to be happy becauseyou are saved is right enough. Oh, I prayyou, take care that you do not act irrationally before God! Or take another view of this thought. Suppose I am in fear thismorning about the health of some dear friend. "Well," I say, "I should like to have my friend healthy, but I want to feelmyself safe about that friend. I donot know anything about the state of my friend just now, and I am uneasy. Now I can tell you if I could get to feel easy,then I should be convinced that my friend was well."
"Why," you would justly reply, "there is no connection between the two things. The proper mode of procedure is to try andfind out whether your friend is well, then you will feel easy." But you say, "I should believe I was saved if I felt happy."Is there any reason in that? On the contrary, firstof all believe that you are saved and then happiness shall come of it. But you cannot believe that you are saved while youpersist in doing what God tells you not to do-looking to your own joy and peace, instead of looking to the finished work ofJesus Christ.
While this is illogical and inconsistent it is also very irreverent. You say to God, "O God, You tell me to trust Christ andI shall be saved. Well, I cannot trust Christ but I can trust my own feelings. And if I were very happy I could believe thatHe would save me." Oh let the words I have spokenbe forgiven, if they sound like blasphemy, but I think they have the essence of blasphemy in them. What? Are my poor changeableframes of feeling to be set up in preference to the word of Christ? He tells me if I trust Him I shall be saved, and I replyto Him, "I cannot trust Yourword, Jesus, but I could rely upon it if I felt so-and-so." That is to say I could trust myself but I cannot trust Him.Weep, dear Friends, that you should have been guilty of such irreverence, and do not persist in it!
Once again, is it not very egotistical? Here is a person who has God to deal with and has the Divine promise-"He that believeson Him is not condemned." And instead of confiding in this, he says, "No, I shall believe nothing which I do not feel. WhenI feel I am saved, I shall believe it.When I have joy in consequence of being saved, then I will trust Christ to save me." That is, "I will trust Him for nothing,but I will set up my own feelings and my own knowledge over and above the promises and the positive declarations of a dyingSavior."
May the Lord forgive you, my dear Friends, who are in this state of heart, for being so guilty in this thing. I think, ifnothing else should make you feel your sinnership, you ought to feel it on this account-that you find it hard to trust Christ.If you were what you should be, rememberthat to trust Christ would be the natural outgoings of your nature. But because your nature is what it ought not to be,it becomes so hard for you to trust the truthful One while you think it so easy to trust in what is fickle as the wind andfalse as the deceitful sea.
Well, I have just exposed these two matters and want your patient attention while I seek to bring out the truth of the text.We are finished with the errors that are not in it-now for the Truth of God that is in it.
II. The great truth of the text is THAT BELIEVING IN CHRIST IS THE TRUE GROUND FOR JOY AND
PEACE. What is believing in Christ? In one word it is trusting Christ. He is sent of God to save sinners and those sinnerswho trust in Him to save them are saved. Faith then, the faith which is the ground of our joy and peace, is a simple trustin Christ.
Now I feel sure, from what we understand of mental science as well as from the teaching of God's Word and one's own experience,that if a man unfeignedly trusts Christ, he must, in the main, have joy and peace. I think you will see this. There is a sinnerwho feels himself guilty before God, but hehears enough of the Gospel to understand that God has devised a plan of salvation. The very believing of that must givesome sort of peace.
The sinner would say, "I thought I could not be saved, but now the very whisper of that word, 'Savior,' gives me some hope.The black thought that it is impossible for me to be saved is gone. There is evidently a possibility, for there is a desireon God's part, or else He would not have provided aplan by which men might be saved." When, however, the sinner comes to look at the Gospel more carefully, he perceives, inthe suitability of the plan, another cause for joy. "Why," he says, "I see it is thus-God will save me not on account of anythingI do or am, but out ofpure Divine Grace! I see that He has provided a salvation, not for the good, but for the bad-not for those who have somethingto recommend themselves to Him-but for those who have nothing to recommend but everything to disqualify them for His favor!
"And I see," says the sinner, "as I look at the Gospel, that the way to get a hold of this is not by feeling any good feeling-ifso, it were impossible! Not by doing any good works, else it were also beyond my power! But I perceive that the method ofsalvation is that of believing in theSavior. Now, if my heart is but right. If I really am desirous of salvation, what is it that I am expected to believe?"Already he feels a certain sense of joy at the thought of such a plan! By works he felt he could not be saved, but he beginsto hope that it may be by that plan offaith which requires neither good feelings nor good works!
And so he opens his ears and his heart, too, and says, "Master, what is it I am to believe? Only tell me what it is. I amso sick of sin and so sad at heart that if I am to have joy and peace in believing, tell me! And if it is reasonable, if thereis anything in it which a man can believe, I amprepared to accept it at once." Very well then, and so far we shall be agreed that the mere understanding that there isa Savior, and the information that that Savior is to be received by believing in Him has a tendency to give some joy and peace.
But now to the point. When the sinner asks, "What is it I am to believe in order to have peace? In whom am I to trust?" heis told that he is to look for his salvation, present and to come, wholly from the hands of Christ, and then he will be saved."Oh," says he, "but what sort of a Christ is thisI am to confide in? Is He worthy of my trust? That is all I want to know." And the reply we give to the sinner is this-wehave trusted Christ for these reasons-
1. We have trusted Him because of the wonderful union of His Natures. He is God, and we know that whatever God undertakesHe is able to accomplish. But He is Man, and feeling that He is like ourselves, a man, we realize that He has the requisitetenderness to deal with such poor sinners as weare-compassed about with infirmities. We are prepared to rely upon Him because of His Godhead, which renders Him Omnipotent.
We are equally glad to trust Him because of His Manhood, which makes Him kind and considerate for our infirmities. It seemsto us that if we believe Jesus Christ to be God and Man, it is not difficult to place ourselves in the hand of Incarnate Deity.
2. But next, we trust Him because of the evident truthfulness of His Character. We have read the four Evangelists through,and we find Him scorning every subterfuge. His Character seems to us to be resplendent with the Truth of God. We think thatno exaggeration was used when it was said, "And webeheld His Glory, the Glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth."
Our Lord seems to us to be the most tender of Men and the most truthful of Men, too. We cannot believe that He would lie.Moreover, when we consider Him to be God we understand that God cannot lie and we feel inclined to think that every promiseHe has given will be kept. We believe that if Heundertakes to save, Heaven and earth may pass away but He will do what He has promised.
Now we think this is a good reason for our confidence if there were no others. Could we suspect the Savior we should findit difficult to trust Him, but as we cannot imagine a cause for suspecting Him, we (and oh, that you may be brought to thesame pass!) feel shut up to believing Him. And when Hesays, "Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," we trust Him and we get rest! Andwe believe that ifyou trust Him you will get rest, too.
Millions of spirits before the Throne of God all bear witness to the trustworthiness of Christ. He did not fail one of them-MaryMagdalene or the thief on the cross, or Saul of Tarsus, or even blaspheming Peter-they have all found Him able to save tothe uttermost them that come untoGod by Him. And we therefore believe Him because of His Nature and of the trustfulness of His Character.
3. But the main reason, perhaps, why we believe Him is because He tells us, and God tells us, that He was sent of God on purposeto save. God has set forth Christ. Christ did not undertake this work on His own account apart from heavenly authorization.He is called "Messiah," that is, the Sent ofGod.
Now it seems to us that if God sent Christ on purpose to save, and Christ comes into the world and says, "Trust, and I willsave you," He has God to back Him and the everlasting honor of the Eternal Trinity is pledged to every soul that comes torest on Christ to be saved. I venture to say thatunless you can make God a liar, you must believe in Christ! And if you are not prepared to trust Christ, remember you dowhat John says, and I hope you shudder at the thought of doing it-"He that believes not God has made Him a liar, because hebelieves not the record that Godgave of His Son."
4. Another reason why we trust Christ is because we conceive that the merit of His sufferings must be great enough to saveus. Beloved Hearer, if you cannot trust Christ, will you come with me a few minutes?
Can you see the Son of God agonizing in the garden? Your Maker lies on the ground. Can you see Him taken before Herod andPilate, and there mocked and scourged and spit upon? Can your eyes endure to see that spectacle of grief when the plowersmade deep furrows on His blessed back? Can you believethat He is very God of very God, and yet is suffering thus? Can you see Jehovah grind Him to powder between the upper andthe nether millstone of His wrath?
Can you hear Him say, "It is finished"? Can you mark the fearful shriek of "Eloi! Eloi! Lama Sabacthani?" Can you believethat this is the Son of God-standing for sinners and suffering all this weight of wrath and punishment for us- and yet thinkthat He is not worthy of being trustedto do that for which He died?
Oh, Sinner! Let me tell you, when I heard it said to me, "Look unto Christ and be saved," I did look and when I saw God sufferingfor me, the perfect Son of man bleeding for me-the Immaculate and Innocent One afflicted for me-and Jehovah Himself sufferingfor me in the Person of His owndear Son, I could not help believing!
And it does seem to me this morning that if you really believe that all this has occurred, and that Christ bids you trustHim, you will not say any more, "I cannot trust Him." I hope you will say instead, "I cannot help trusting Him." The thingcommends itself so to me-if Christ died tosave-He is able to save.
5. We have still another reason. After our Lord had died and was buried He was put into the tomb, but He could not be heldthere. On the third day He rose again from the dead and now He ever lives to make intercession for us. He is gone up on highwith this resolve upon His heart, that He willplead for sinners, and that every sinner that seeks God through Him shall find peace by Him. This day I hope your faithbelieves it. This day the Savior, once slain, stands a living priest before the Father's Throne, and this is His plea, "Father,forgive them. Father, forgivethem."
Now it is written that He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercessionfor us. Now we feel as if a living Savior being what He is and having done what He has done must be able to save, and we thereforetrust Him.
Now then, if you wind it all up, and say to me, "Why do you personally believe you are saved?" I will tell you. I believeI am saved, I know I am-and the ground of my assertion is not because I feel I am nor yet because I can preach to you aboutit, nor because I sometimes or generally feeljoy and peace-but I believe I am saved because I-God knows I do-trust myself wholly and entirely in the hands of Him whosebusiness it is to save sinners.
I find my name in the Bible. Why do you look at me? Have you never heard of the little child that sat reading the Bible, andsomeone said to her, "Why do you read that Book so much?" She said, "I have always loved to read it since I found my namein it." "Found your name in it!" "Yes," said she,"here it is." And she pointed to the text, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus cameinto the world to save sinners." "That is my name, Sir. That is my name-for if you are not a sinner, I am."
I know myself to be laden with iniquity, to be defiled with all sorts of sin in my holiest times. I have not one good workthat I dare think of, much more, trust to! But being what I am, unworthy, undeserving, and Hell-deserving, I trust Christto save me-and if He does not save me, He is notas good as His word! But I have no suspicion about that-
"I know thatsafe with Him remains Protected by His power What I've committed to His hands, Till the decisive hour.'
And now I get joy and peace! But if I wait for joy and peace, and afterwards trust, I go the wrong way to work, and put thecart before the horse. Then I have begun to expect a harvest before I sow the wheat-to expect the flower before I cultivatethe stem-and I shall be mistaken and godown to the pit with a curse because I would not obey the command, "Believe and live." We will now close with the last point.
III. Remember that THE PRINCIPLE OF THE TEXT IS OF CONSTANT APPLICATION-JOY AND PEACE ALWAYS COME THROUGH BELIEVING. I havetold you we do not always have joy and peace, but still, in the main, joy and peace are the result of believing, and theyare results, not sometimes, but in every case.
For instance, as soon as a person is saved one of the earliest evidences of spiritual life is a great battle within. Somehave the notion that as soon as they are saved they shall never have to fight. Why, it is then that you begin the campaign!The moment you get into Canaan, what are you to do?Canaan is yours now-you have passed out of the wilderness. It is all yours-what have you got to do? Why you must ever seekto drive those Canaanites out, and you will fight continually till you get to Heaven!
You did not expect this. Well, but you shall have joy and peace while the fighting is going on! Is it possible to be fightingwith inbred sins and yet to have joy and peace? My dear Friends, it is not only possible, but it is the only chance we haveof victory! I know that some of you-and Ideeply sympathize with you-are fighting with your bad temper and with many other imperfections. But you have not believedin Christ, and you have not any joy and peace-and you cannot conquer that evil spirit.
Of course you cannot, because while you are distressed in mind, that helps to irritate you! But if you simply believe Jesus,and get joy and peace, oh, then you can use the sword against that bad temper of yours! You will say to these little worries,"Be off with you! I have something more to thinkof! I have something sweeter to cheer me than anything you can bring to annoy me."
Why, you will say to yourself, "I trust Christ to save me, and I know He will do it, for He is no liar, and oh, now it isthat I feel peace, and now, Lord, help me to overcome that temper of mine! Enable me to be holy like You, since You have doneso much for me-now lend me strength." But youcannot do this, nor hope to conquer except by the blood of the Lamb. Go and wash in the fountain He has opened and you shallbe more than a conqueror through Him that has loved you.
Furthermore, remember that even after you are secure in Christ, and accepted before God, and clothed in Jesus' righteousness,you may sometimes get despondent. Christian men are but men, and they may have a bad liver or an attack of bile, or some trial,and then they get depressed if they have everso much Divine Grace. I would defy the Apostle Paul himself to help it. But what then? Why then you can get joy and peacethrough believing.
I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness asI go to. But I always get back again by this-I know I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls I shallfall with Him. But if He does not, I shall not.Because He lives, I shall live also-and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and my down castings,and get the victory through it! And so may you! And so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it.
In your most depressed seasons you are to get joy and peace through believing. "Ah!" says one, "but suppose you have falleninto some great sin-what then?" Why then the more reason that you should cast yourself upon Him! Do you think Jesus Christis only for little sinners? Is He a doctorthat only heals finger-aches? Beloved, it is not faith to trust Christ when I have no sin! It is true faith when I am foul,and black, and filthy-when during the day I have tripped up and fallen and done serious damage to my joy and peace-to go backagain to that dearFountain and say, "Lord, I never loved washing so much before as I do tonight, for today I have made a fool of myself. Ihave said and done what I ought not to have done, and I am ashamed and full of confusion, but I believe Christ can save me,even me, and by His Grace I will restin Him still."
That is the true way of Christian life and the only way of getting joy and peace. Go to Christ even when sin prevails. "Yes,but," I hear one say, "I am so afraid of presumption." Well, I am not sorry that you are, but when you are most afraid ofpresumption the true way to get joy and peace and tobe kept from presumption is by believing. They say that "like cures like." Certainly belief cures presuming! Trusting Christcures trusting self!
Dear Friend, when you are afraid of presuming, believe! When you say, "Perhaps, after all, I may be cast away," then go tothe Cross and say, "But if I am I will be cast away trusting in Christ." "Pshaw," says the devil, "you fool! Do you thinkthat such a sinner as you can ever be perfectlysaved?" Say to the devil, "Whether I am a fool or not I do not know, but if I am not saved, I will be damned trusting Christ.If I am cast away, I will be cast away hanging to the Cross."
Stick to this, dear Friends, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." You cannot help having joy and peace then-
"And when your eye of faith is dim, Still hold on Jesus, sink or swim. Still at His footstool bow the knee, And Israel's God your strength, your peace shall be."
Only let your confidence be not in your peace, not in your joy, but in Christ.
Now, I will finish with this declaration. If you can get into such a state that all the sins that were ever committed shouldswear that they will block your pathway to peace. If all the suggestions of Hell that ever came up from the infernal pit shouldsurround you at one time. If, in his ownproper person, the very Prince of Hell should stand across the way and swear to spill your soul's blood.
If, in addition to this, the light of God's countenance should be hidden from you, and no promise should seem to come comfortablywith power to your soul. And if, over and above this, every Christian minister should be silent, or have no word for you butcondemnation, and every Christian shouldturn his back on you and tell you that you were a hypocrite, a deceiver, a foul and lost villain. And if conscience shouldcome in at the back of these and say, "Every word of this is true, you are all this."
Yet, yet in that fearful extremity, if you can believe, you are saved! If you can then come, even in the most abject, filthy,leprous, horrible condition-so that the blackness of Hell were whiteness compared to you! And the hardness of adamant weresoftness compared to your horrible andobdurate heart-yet if you can come and believe Christ is able to save to the uttermost, and you can fling yourself as ahelpless, lost one at the foot of His dear Cross and resolve to live or to die there, you shall never perish! Neither shallany pluck you out of His hand,for He will save and you will rest in His love!
And if you believe in Him you can no more perish than He can perish! And, unless He can be untrue and reverse His promise-andcast His blood upon the ground to be spilt in vain-it is not possible that a soul trusting in Jesus should be lost! May Godbless this testimony to you! I havebrought you to the water, but I cannot make you drink. I can bring Christ to you in the preaching, but I cannot bring youto Christ. However, I can pray this, that the Lord Jesus may now bless the word and seal it home, both to heart and conscience,for His name's sake.
One word, before we part, to those who know neither joy nor peace through faith in Jesus and have no wish to share these blessingswith us because they are satisfied with the delusions of the god of this world. Weigh for one moment your so-called joy withours and put your peace as you conceive ofpeace into the scale against ours. Judge now. Is your joy as pure? Has it no alloy? Are your cups without dregs and yourdelights without bitterness? Is it as lasting as ours? Will it never be cut off? Does your sun never go down? Do your richesnever take to themselves wings andfly away?
Does no moth corrupt, no thief break through and steal? Is it as powerful to fill the heart at all times? Does it never pall?Are you never weary of your delights? Can you live upon them forever and wish no higher good than to have them continued througheternity? Do your pleasures ennoble andexalt? Are you led by them ever higher and higher? Do they elevate you as a man, and develop every higher power and facultyof your being? Do they give you a power and a strength in the path of duty, and never lead astray to folly?
Or are they prone to spread snares for your feet, and to beguile you into evil ways? Ponder these questions, and, if I amnot mistaken, you will learn to despise your present state and seek that joy and peace which come through believing in Jesus.May it be so! Amen.