Sermon 832. The Best Cloak (No. 832)
Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
"And was clad with zeal as a cloak.'" Isaiah 59:17.
THE solitary champion who is here spoken of, who looked and, "saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor"-andtherefore His own arm brought salvation unto Him, and His righteousness it sustained Him-this conquering hero we cannot failto recognize as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Prince of the House of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever may havebeen the first and primary meaning of the text, we are persuaded that the ultimate reference of it is to that destroyer ofdeath, the Captain of our salvation, by whose struggles the whole host of the elect have obtained the victory!
Of Him we may say beyond and above all others, that He "was clad with zeal as a cloak." When a man has all other excellencies,when the Grace of God has worked in him all other virtues, then zeal is still needed to elevate and perfect his entire manhood.Behold the altar, built of unhewn stones, and after God's own Law. Behold the wood laid on it. See the victim slain and theblood flowing. But you cannot make a sacrifice without fire-unless the fire from Heaven shall perfect the sacrificial preparations,all will be useless. Behold in the altar the figure of the man-he has faith, courage, love, consecration-but if he lacks thefire of fervent zeal, his life will be a failure. He will remain an offering unconsumed, and consequently worthless and unaccepted.
By this, indeed, may you know the genuine from the false when other things might raise a question-the false is like the altarof Baal whereon there is much wood and a well-fed bullock. And around it are active genuflections and vigorous rituals, butthere is no true fire from Heaven. While the genuine is like the altar of Elijah, upon which, in answer to fervent prayers,the hallowed flames descend! One of the first requisites of an earnest, successful, soul-winning man must be zeal. As wella chariot without its steeds, a sun without its beams, a Heaven without its joy-as a man of God without zeal.
Taking the text and coming to it at once, with eager expectation, because the Lord is there, we shall first observe- how zealis to be regarded-it is to be to the Christian man as a cloak. Secondly, we shall joyfully show how our Lord Jesus Christexhibited it. And then, thirdly, look for a few minutes at the secret springs which fed the zeal of our blessed Lord, andwhich in our case must also feed us.
I. First, then, according to the text, ZEAL IS TO BE REGARDED AS A CLOAK THAT COVERS ALL. The Christian man is to wear zealas we wear an outward garment which covers all the rest of our garments-a flowing robe which encompasses the entire person.Zeal is all enveloping-zeal should envelope all the powers of the Christian. He is to invest himself with faith and love,with patience and perseverance, with hope and joy-but zeal must be over all these. We are not to be zealous with one partof ourselves, nor zealous in one particular duty, only, nor zealous at one special season.
We are to be altogether zealous for all Christ's work, for all Christ's truth-and at all times zealous not only in one goodthing, but in all good things, wrapping ourselves up completely in zeal-by the power of God's Spirit, just as the travelerin the snowstorm wraps himself up in his great coat or binds his cloak about him. Zeal is to envelope all. We are to wearholy zeal as a cloak in order to preserve the different parts of our soul from danger. Zeal is preserving. The cloak coversthe arms, the breast, the heart and all the more delicate parts of the body. In order that when the rain comes down we maynot so soon be chilled to the skin and suffer injury from cold, we are protected with a cloak and find it to be a warm andwelcome shelter-so our love needs to put on zeal as a protection against the coldness of the outside world.
Our faith needs to buckle on a garment of zeal as a defense that when the storm of troubles comes as a blast against the soul,confidence may not be frostbitten. Zeal is to wrap up the whole man so that when he is subject to a furious hailof persecution, or a biting wind of poverty, or a torrent of down-pouring griefs, the pilgrim to the skies may hold on hisway and bid all weathers brave defiance.
Beloved, I am afraid that many of God's children are sickening for lack of wearing this cloak. They never rise to the pointof being zealous. They are very proper, and with that doubtful virtue they remain content. Oh, that dreadful propriety whichis the death of all true godliness wherever its frosty scepter sways its wintry dominion over a man! Thousands of our membersare locked in the deadly arms of an Arctic propriety. They are proper, very proper! They are always afraid of being fanatical,even more than of being worldly or backsliding. When religious work is being done in earnest, they say it is exciting andirregular-and they therefore avoid it. They have heard of unwise excitement attending some religious meetings and they atonce conceive a great dread of everything like excitement-however holy and useful.
And therefore, in order to avoid as much as possible that which is at all unusual, they make to their tents and shun the veryangels of God lest they should become too enthusiastic by conversing with them! I will not commend them for this because Iam persuaded there is no cloak in which a man can be so well wrapped up against the trials of the world and the temptationsof business as a cloak of zeal that covers him all over. The devil cannot so readily assail a zealous man. There is a point,of course, at which he can overthrow him by turning that zeal into unhallowed passion, fierce bigotry, or unbridled rant.But still, in the ordinary temptations of life the man who is thoroughly and heartily possessed by the spirit of true andthoroughly Christian zeal throws off the blows of the enemy as the shields of the ancient warrior hurled off the fiery dartsof the foe. Zeal is comforting, even as the cloak, when wrapped about the traveler in the snowstorm- and so must zeal be withus.
Oftentimes the Christian minister, especially, will pass through a pelting, raging, whirling tempest and hurricane of difficulties.And in such times, unless he is very zealous, he may be inclined to succumb and to yield to the present distress. But He whosays, "I am called of God to a work, and I will do it or I will die. I must win souls. God has called me to it, and I canlie in prison, or I can have my name cast out as evil, or I can suffer poverty-but I cannot give up ministering to poor soulsand snatching them, as brands, from the burning." Such a man dreams not of pausing in his career because old Boreas howls!
The man who is possessed by an irresistible passion for carrying out his lifework will gird this gracious ardor well aroundhim, and, let the snowflakes come as they may, they will only fall, as it were, into a furnace and will melt before they caninjure. You who have zeal for God in your Sunday school classes will find it protects you from the numbing influence thatwill come over you in the class. After teaching for some months, and perhaps years, the routine of the school is apt to becomea heavy toil, and you are apt to say, "I work hard all week, and I really need my Sundays for rest." And you will take themfor rest unless zeal shall forbid-and wrapping yourselves in holy fervor you will look at your little ones and feel that youcannot let them perish for lack of knowledge! And out of love to them, and out of love to your Master you will return to theclass with extra devotion-and troubling nothing for the consequences, you will press on like a true hero-because your soulis warmed and comforted with zeal as a cloak, and, therefore your heart beats warm within however cold the world may be without.
We may regard zeal as a cloak by reason of its adorning a man's character. Many a person looks all the more comely becauseof the garment in which he has arrayed himself. There is no more becoming garment to the Christian when he possesses all thevirtues than an all-enveloping zeal! Do not tell me that the beauty of holiness consists in a mere stately, dull, sober roundof duties. It is not so! The beauty of holiness consists in that bursting of love towards God which is enamored of holinessand would rather suffer a thousand ills than do anything of evil. Brothers and Sisters, you will not be, as Christians, thoughtbeautiful in the eyes of angels and perfect intelligences, (and these are the best judges of beauty), because you coldly pursuethe regular rounds of duty.
But you will be beautiful to them if you glow, and flame, and blaze with intense affection towards God. God, who is the greatestand highest example of all beauty, when He reveals Himself, does so in a flaming fire-Sinai is altogether on a smoke-He touchesthe hills and they melt like wax though they were granite before. God as a Spirit is a consuming fire, and the more we getto be like God the more shall we become like consuming fires. The half-animated lethargic state in which we sing-
"Our souls can neither fly nor go
To reach celestial joys,"
is earthly, gross, sensual. But oh, when we once receive the promised eagle wings, and begin to mount, then are we spiritual!And when our soul, like a sharp sword, cuts through the scabbard and the body seems as if it could not bear the indomitableenergy that rules within-it is then that we are elevated to be like God.
When God within us manifests the weight of Deity, and bows the weakness of our humanity into the dust while the new-born natureis, in sublime ecstasy, made to stand forth, alone and away from the body, in the blaze of the Divine Presence, then it isthat we are favored of the Lord! I pray God that we may be evermore ardent as seraphs, made of God to be like those celestialministers of His who are as flames of fire. The true man of God burns his way. His life is like the passage of a meteor acrossthe sky. None can stay his onrush! He has Omnipotence within him! He is launched like a thunderbolt from the eternal hand,and he must go forward till his career is run. He is not like you half-awakened sons of the sluggard, who, having no strengthfrom God and possessing none of your own, crawl as the snail crawls, and melt as it melts until there is nothing left of them.
As Watts writes in his couplet-
"They trust their native strength,
And melt away, and droop, and die."
Such as confide in God and in His might, clothing themselves with the holy ardor which God has given them, shall be beautifulin His sight, and beautiful to all eternity in the judgment of those who know how to estimate true beauty of character! Perhapsthese four points may bring out the excellence of being clothed with zeal as a cloak. Zeal is to envelope all our powers.It is to preserve us in danger. It is to comfort us in affliction. It is to adorn us at all times.
But I should like to say one or two other things on this subject. We must take care to put on zeal us a cloak and not as ahood. Some put it over their heads and do not wear it over their bodies. Now, nobody wears his cloak over his head and yetI have known some persons whose zeal has entirely blindfolded their judgment! They have taken zeal as men put a bandage overtheir eyes when they would be blinded, and then have gone headlong in evil or foolish work. Now the zeal that God would haveus cultivate is wise and prudent-it does not heedlessly leap into the ditch, though it would swim a river, yes, and the Atlanticto boot-if it felt that God had bid it do so.
Zeal is like fire which is said to be, "a good servant but a bad master." The fire in the grate-who shall say too much inits favor? But fire in the thatch of the house-who shall say too much against it? The fire, the flaming fire of zeal burningand blazing in the soul-this is a Christian gift and virtue! But when zeal takes away judgment and the man is led here andthere by the first loud talker. When he is carried about by every wind of doctrine, and is first in love with this, and thenwith that-then the man does not wear zeal as a cloak-he makes a hood of it and makes himself brother to a fool!
Zeal, again, is a cloak, and therefore is not intended to supersede the other Graces. We do not put on our great coats andleave off all our other clothes. We do not see the traveler climbing the Alps with nothing upon his body but his cloak-thatwould be most absurd! And so, zeal cannot take the place of knowledge, or faith, or love, or holiness. It is a cloak whichis a great thing, it is true, but it is nothing more than a cloak-and the rest of the garments must be carefully attendedto.
When I have sometimes heard a zealous Brother preaching, who evidently did not know anything of this subject, or of humannature, I have been pleased to see the cloak, but I wished that I could have seen some other garments for decency's sake!Ill is the case of those ill-clad zealots who bray with all their might, "Believe, believe, believe," and thump the pulpitand make great demonstration when they cannot tell what is to be believed, nor expound the doctrine of the Atonement-nor givean intelligent description of the plan of salvation! All such zeal is as rational as it would be for us all to go abroad bareof every rag except a cloak.
Modesty ought to keep such unclothed men out of sight. Go home, Brothers! Go home, you who have only your cloaks-and get othergarments-and then we shall be glad enough to see you. Zeal is a cloak, but it is very far from being everything. Again, zealis a cloak, and, therefore, we are not to regard it as an extraordinary robe to be worn only occasionally on high days andholidays. A man wears his great coat or his cloak when he needs it. He wears it not on Sundays only, but in going to and froin his labor. He reckons his cloak not to be a thing in which to walk in state with my lord through the streets, but as aportion of his ordinary working-day dress-and so ought our zeal to be.
Zeal for God should be exhibited in workshops. It should be worn in the market-house, in the senate, or wherever we may labor.Zeal should be worn in the homestead and in the factory-by masters, by servants, by children, by parents. If it is genuinezeal it will be like the cloak which always hangs ready on the nail in the hall. No, since the storm is always on, and weare always pilgrims, it will be like the cloak which we cannot bear to lay aside! We shall try always to wear it for Christ'ssake.
Brethren, while I say that zeal is not everything, remember that the cloak covers everything, and do not let your zeal besuch a scanty thing that it will only hang like a girdle round your loins. Let it be a great wrapper in which to enfold allyour manhood apparent everywhere-not secret and inward alone, but revealed and active. Our Lord is said to put on zeal asa cloak. He manifested and displayed His holy fervor. We have heard some boast that they were zealous, but you could not seeit, for their zeal was deep in their hearts. Now our Lord had not zeal merely in His heart, but He had zeal outwardly as well.It is all very well to have Divine Grace in the heart-that is the first and primary point-but where there is Grace in theheart it soon shows itself in the life.
It is useless for a man to say he has an abundance of wealth if he always dresses like a beggar and his household is conductedon the most stingy system. So, a man must not claim to have zeal in his heart if he never shows that zeal in his conversationnor in earnest service of Jesus. Remember, our Lord put on zeal! While the Christian religion is an internal thing, thereis no religion in the world which shows itself so much externally. There is a remarkable piece of advice given by Paul whichsounds very strange if you read it literally. He writes, "Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, heartsof mercy." Now, surely, hearts are things to be worn within and not without! And yet he would have the Christian to be sucha tender-hearted man as to wear his very soul on his sleeve so that he can be easily touched, moved, and affected by the woesof his fellow men.
So must it be with zeal. It must be in the heart, but it must also shine, and flash, and sparkle throughout the whole of man'soutward life.
II. Leaving that point, it is now for a few minutes our very pleasant duty TO OBSERVE HOW OUR LORD EXHIBITED THIS ZEAL. Beloved,we can but speak a few words where volumes would scarcely suffice. In His earliest childhood, you have tokens of Christ'sinward zeal. He is found in the Temple among the doctors, at an age when other children are shouting in the playground, orlaughing among their toys. He is hearing the rabbis, and asking them questions, and when His anxious parents ask Him why Hehas left them, He replies, "Know you not that I must be about My Father's business?"
Yes, even at that early age his soul was longing to commence His work. Eager for the Baptism that He was to be baptized with,He was "straitened," even then, "until it was accomplished." In later life you see His burning zeal in leaving all the comfortsof life. What but His zeal brought Him to such a condition that He said, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air havenests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head"? He might, if He had chosen, have enjoyed the comforts of the domesticcircle. There were those who loved Him! There were hundreds throughout Judea who would have been but too glad to house Him.Martha, and Mary and Lazarus, were but types of others whom Jesus loved, and who loved Jesus. And yet, for love of souls,for love of God He banishes Himself from all domestic joys. Oh, blessed Mirror of quenchless ardor, when shall we learn self-denialfrom Your example and imitate Your passion to glorify God?
His very dress showed His zeal because it was not ostentatious, but in every way suitable for incessant labor and humble service.He wore nothing that could attract attention. The common smock-frock of the ordinary peasant was His outer dress. Nothingin His apparel distinguished Him from others. He had given up all the dainties, yes, and all the comforts of life for theone great object of accomplishing our redemption. He showed His earnestness in persevering in His worship under all mannerof rebuffs. He was constantly misrepresented. He came unto His own, and His own received him not. Though He was worthy tobe beloved of all hearts, yet, "He was despised and rejected of men." Still He never turned aside from His work.
Once, when the flesh would have gladly shrunk from the cup of gall, how mightily did He put aside the temptation with, "Nevertheless,not as I will, but as You will"! His path was always onward and it mattered not who stood in the way-whether Pharisee or Herodian-Hetarried for none. Whether the princes of this world, or the powers of the infernal lake opposed Him, still onward He advancedto complete His victory. And, as a clearer proof of His zeal, still, allthe blandishments of the world could not attract Him. The excited crowd would have taken Him by force and have made Him aking-but such was His zeal for the one work He had in hand, that He counted royal honors to be less than nothing and vanity.
There were no temptations to Him in all the pomp of a kingdom. He had received the offer of all earth's thrones from the arch-enemyand had refused them all-what, then, was one petty princedom to Him! If all Jerusalem had clapped their hands, and said, "Godsave the King!" He would not have listened to the cry, nor have cared for it. He cared to wear the crown of thorns, and togive His hands and feet to the nails, and His heart to the spear-and He had no heart and no hands or feet for anything exceptthe love of God and the well-being of men.
Many and many a man has been very zealous for God till he has met with fierce persecutions, or bitter enemies, and then hehas turned his back. And many more have been zealous in the highest degree until wealth came in their way, or the possibilitiesof honor-and then they have stooped and have licked the world's feet-and have been mere puddles of fashion. Their ardor forthe Truth of God has evaporated and their zeal has fled. Jesus was turned aside neither by frowns nor by smiles, but onward,still, He went, "clad with zeal as with a cloak."
Look, my Brothers and Sisters, at His incessant labors! In the three years of Christ's life, you behold epitomized 3,000 yearsof ordinary existence. I do not know how it seems to you, but the life of Christ appears to me to be the longest life I everread. It is such a condensed, massive, close-grained life! It is very short-in truth it consists of only three years of labor,as the former part of His life was spent in obscurity-and there we leave it as God has left it. But the three active yearsof His earthly sojourn, how are they crowded with incidents! Why, He is here, and there, and everywhere! All the day He isworking, and all the night He is praying!
You read of the cold mountains and the midnight air as witnessing the fervor of His prayer. And then, at morning light Heis healing the sick or preaching the Gospel, never pausing, but constantly pressing on like a racer to the goal! We meet withincidents like this, "He had not time, no, not so much us to eat bread." And at another time, "They took Him even as He was,into the ship," implying that He could not walk down to the vessel because He was too faint, so they bore Him away even asHe was. On board the ship He was so weary, so utterly overcome, that when a storm came on, He slept! Slept while the sea andthe sky were mingled, and the ship was likely to go to pieces-slept from sheer weariness and lack of rest!
Remember that all this was not merely work of the body, but that which I dare say some of you think very easy, but which,if you were to try it, you would find to be the most laborious work in the world-brain work. And in our Lord's case, it wasbrain-work of the most intense kind, for Jesus never preached a careless sermon, never produced a single address before thepeople that was uninstructive or shallow and never delivered a speech in an inefficient manner, coldly and heartlessly. Hewas a man like ourselves, albeit He was God-and I am speaking of His humanity now-and that human soul of His achieved centuriesof work in those three plenteous years.
There is, perhaps, no such thing as time to the brain. When we sleep, a dream in which we think we have passed hours may haveonly occupied a tick of a clock, or the winking of an eye. When Mahomet, in his absurd story, tells you of his traversingthe seven heavens, and yet returning to earth again so quickly that the pitcher of water which had been almost overturnedby the angel's wing when he started, had not had time for the water to spill, he does in quaint story but tell you what mayhappen to the mind.
Men who have been rescued from drowning have stated that, though they were but a second or two going down in the water, theyhave yet in that time lived over again the whole of their lives. And their whole history, as in a panorama, has been unfoldedbefore them. There is no time to the mind-and when this body shall drop from off us, eternity will be no novelty to the mind-thesoul will find itself perfectly at home. Our Lord Jesus Christ realized this fact, for in mental labor He condensed wholecenturies of holy thought and desire into those three short years of His service for us. Nothing but zeal could have sustainedthat toil. Nothing but zeal could have upheld that perpetually laboring Soul!
Look at the Lord Jesus Christ, again, in His preaching, and you see His zeal. What words of love He uses! How gently He addressesthe poor trembling ones, as He bids them come unto Him and they shall have rest. He does not utter those blessed invitationsin a sleepy manner, but His heart goes out with every syllable, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, andI will give you rest." And when He turns to sterner oratory and addresses those enemies ofthe Truth of God, the Scribes and Pharisees, how He thunders at them! Were ever such indignant words uttered as those of theMaster, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"
Why, there stood the men! He was not speaking of them as I might speak of people who are in Abyssinia or Japan! But therethey were, before His eyes-gnashing their teeth at Him, looking indignant and longing to tear Him down and drag Him off todeath. But, "woe unto you!" came again from His lips, and yet again, "woe unto you! For a pretense you make long prayers.You strain at a gnat, and you swallow a camel." No man could speak more plainly than Jesus did in the face of these hypocrites-forzeal was girt about Him as a cloak and no fear of man could restrain Him.
Probably you see His zeal most of all in His prayers, for a man's intensity of heart may eminently be judged of by his secretdevotion before God. What prayers were those that were heard by the stars and admired by the astonished angels at midnightas they lingered on the mountain side! What cries and groans! What strong cries and tears were those that shook the gatesof Heaven as Jesus prayed and pleaded for the sons of men! Mighty Intercessor! It seemed as if this world were not a strongenough base for You to rest the lever of Your prayer upon, when You were lifting up a greater weight than this world, eventhe weight of our infirmities, which then was heavy upon Your soul!
Ah, if you seek a pattern of zeal, you must stand in the garden when the sweat is streaming from Him-not the sweat of manthat works for bread-the staff of life, but the sweat of a man toiling for life itself! See there, my Brothers and Sisters,He sweats, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground! Still His zeal was more manifest even than this, forhaving prayed and worked so hard, He proved his zeal again by giving up Himself! Having persevered alone when deserted byHis friends, He persevered, still, when given over to His enemies! What zeal was that which makes Him stand so silent beforethe bar of Pilate?!
He will not speak though strong is the temptation to defend Himself. He will not speak, for He must fulfill the prophecy,"He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opens not His mouth." It wasa wonderful triumph of Christ to hold His tongue. A master speaker feels an intense longing to speak when great occasionsdemand his voice, but Jesus was greater than a master speaker, for He was a great master of silence. And by His Divine energyHe restrained Himself and uttered not a word.
Then, when they scourged Him. When they spat upon Him. When they mocked Him-why, a wish of His would have destroyed them all-butHe bears their contumely in the patience of His zeal for us. And when they hound Him through the streets of Jerusalem alongthe Via Dolorosa. When they take Him out to the mount of doom and pierce His hands and His feet, and then stand around, andwith many jests and jeers mock His griefs! When, as I have said before, His wish could have annihilated all of them, and haveput an end to all His bitterness-was it not a matchless zeal which upheld Him in majestic endurance?
His zeal was with Him when covered with His dying crimson! It was wrapped about His naked body as a cloak so that the shameHe despised and the Cross He endured were bearable by His looking forward to the recompense of reward. Ah, Brethren, I amnot able to speak to you concerning my Master's zeal. It is too great a subject! There it is. Read it as the Evangelists tellyou the story. Seek to enter into fellowship with it, and ask God to help you to imitate it-and then shall you best understandhow He "was clad with zeal as a cloak." Observe what His zeal was made of. It was zeal for God! He went into God's Templeand saw the merchandise that was carried on there, and He did not deliberate, but seizing a scourge of small cords, floggedthe buyers and sellers and drove them all out-as it was written, "The zeal of Your House has eaten Me up."
He had not patience to tolerate making a gain of godliness! He had patience with sinners when they bowed before Him-but withthose who trafficked in God's own Temple He grew indignant and chased them out! He had a zeal for God which was also a zealfor the Truth of God! How indignantly He denounced the adversaries of the true and the good, and how constantly, and withwhat force did He declare the Gospel among the ignorant and perishing thousands! He had, above all things, a zeal for souls!He loved His Church and gave Himself for it! He saved others, Himself He could not save. No burden was too heavy, no sufferingtoo severe for Him, if He might deliver men from going down into the pit. Such was His zeal! O that all His followers wereas their Lord!
III. Lastly, WHAT WAS IT THAT THE ZEAL OF CHRIST FED UPON? WHAT WERE THE SECRET SPRINGSOF THE SEA WHICH FED THE OCEAN OF HIS ZEAL? We answer that Christ's zeal was based upon a definedprinciple. He had of old said, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Your will, O MyGod: yes, Your Law is within My heart."
Our Lord's was not a hurried, hasty zeal, excited in Him by the earnest addresses of eloquent pleaders. It sprang from fixedand intelligent principles. He had set His heart upon a great purpose. He had weighed it, counted the cost, looked at it onall sides. And now He was not to be turned from it. Beloved Hearers, I would that all Christians possessed that intelligentzeal which does not arise from mere excitement of our surroundings but springs from our knowing what we are, understandingthe Truth of God and holding to it, because we are assured of it. Zeal without the Truth of God for its fuel is a mere will-o'-thewisp.
Jesus knew the soul and its value-the loss of a soul and its horror, the Heaven of a soul and its glory-and therefore wasHe zealous. And if such fixed principles reign in you, they will be in you a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.And your zeal will not cease, but continue to flow on forever and ever. The zeal of our Lord Jesus Christ was occasioned byintense love. He loved His Father. He could not, therefore, but do His will. He loved His people. He could not, therefore,do otherwise than seek their good. Oh, how He loved the souls of men! It was a passion with Him!
Brothers and Sisters, we need to get the same love. We do not love God as we should, or we should be more zealous. Neitherdo we love our fellow men as ourselves, or we should be more heartfelt in our Christian work. O that the Christian Churchwere baptized in zeal! There is much in that promise, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Not dropsof the Holy Spirit, nor sparks of fire-we need to be plunged into it! We need that the fire should cover us as it does thegold when it consumes the dross so that we may be like the three holy children in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, living amid flames,ourselves aglow, burning our way in our Lord's business! May it be so by the Holy Spirit to the glory of God!
Then the zeal of our Lord Jesus Christ had an eye to the recompense. "For the joy that was set before Him He endured the Cross,despising the shame." Christian, think of the recompense of the faithful servant-not of debt, but of Divine Grace! What joy,when you enter Heaven, to be met by those who were converted to God through your means! To hear them hail you as their spiritualfather or their spiritual mother! It is a great bliss, doubtless, to enter Heaven alone, but it must be a greater joy, still,to hear the wings of others behind you as you enter, and turning round-so soon as you can do so after you have looked uponthe blazing Throne and the Divine One at the right hand of the Father- turning round, what bliss to see hundreds who werecalled to Glory and immortality through your ministry!
Happy shall he be who has turned many to righteousness! He has his Master's word for it that he shall shine as the stars foreverand ever. Beloved, seek after this! As men hunt after gold. As greedy misers search it out, and busy merchants compass seaand land to gain it, so seek after the souls of men! Count all things else but dross that you may win Christ, and having wonChrist for yourselves, bring others to Him! I count that to be life in which I serve Christ, but that is death in which Iam unprofitable. I count that day to be a day of true living in which I can tell out something of Jesus, build a single stonein His living Temple, or carve a piece of cedar that may help to make the rafters of His House!
But that day is nothing else than a mere pretense of life, it is a day of death, as though my body were sheeted and wrappedup in the cerements of the tomb, in which I have done nothing, and thought nothing, and prayed nothing to my Master's honorand the extension of His Kingdom. O Brothers and Sisters, may God grant us Grace more and more to have an eye to the comingreward, and to the, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" so that zeal may be wrapped about us as a cloak!
Last of all, our Lord Jesus Christ was so zealous because He had a greater spiritual discernment than you and I have. We arenot zealous because we cannot see. We can see these houses, these streets, and this money. We can hear those people's tongues,and we can look at these creature comforts. We hear the question, "What shall we eat? What shall we drink? With what shallwe be clothed?" But our ears are as though they were stopped up with wax, and our eyes as though they were blinded to betterthings. We do not hear true voices, neither do we see real things, nor abiding, everlasting and eternal things.
Alas, how blind and deaf we are! But when Jesus was here he saw angels, and He beheld the spirits of men. He beheld not theirbodies only, but their inner selves. And He looked upon men, not as flesh and blood, but as immortals. Best of all, He sawGod. He could say, "I have set the Lord always before Me: because He is at My right hand I shall not be moved." As Jesus Christdwelt in this world He did not look on it as you and I often do, as though it were all earth, fire,water, wood, stone, trees, men, beasts. But He viewed it as a theater for spiritual action. Devils came to tempt Him. Angelscame to minister to Him.
The souls of bad men fought with Him though He fought not with His hands or His staff. The spirits of good men sought Him,hung upon Him, depended upon Him. As for Himself, His conversation was always heavenly. He was on the earth, and doing goodon earth, but still His Soul, His great, grand Spirit was always talking with His God. When He speaks aloud in prayer He saysto His Father, "I know that You hear me always, but because of them that stood by I did it." He had no need to use vocal soundswith God. His spirit was so near to God that He was always communing with God, breathing Himself into God. What a source ofzeal this must have been! He was brought nearer to God than we are, being, indeed, Himself God!
And speaking, now, of His Manhood-as a Man He abode very near to the Father. Yet we, too, have a wondrous nearness, for theHoly Spirit dwells in us! In these bodies, as in a temple, God dwells if we are Believers, so that there is a marvelouslyintimate union between God and us! And if we can, by His Grace, rise to a higher spiritual life, a life cognizant of spiritualthings, familiar with spiritual personages, and dealing with spiritual realities-we shall attain unto somewhat of that mighty,Omnipotent zeal which glowed in the bosom of the Redeemer and in which He was clad as in a cloak.
There are many here who have no faith in Christ, and therefore I cannot exhort them, with respect to this zeal. Beloved Friends,you have heard what I have been saying about zeal. Now, do you know one great reason why I want to have this zeal, myself,and why I desire God's people to obtain it? It is because of you! We believe that when we are zealous it often happens thatwe are made the means of the conversion of others, and we should like to see you saved! Do you know the way of salvation?It is just this, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." To believe is to trust.
Here is God's Word, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." To believe is simply to rely upon Jesus, and when youhave done that you are saved. God will never cast a soul away that leans all its weight on Christ. After you are saved, remember,it is written, "He that believes and is baptized." Your Baptism must follow your faith-it is to be to you a sign, and a meansof fellowship with Christ. You are to regard yourselves as dead to the world, as dead in Christ, and to come, therefore, andbe buried with Him in Baptism.
May the Spirit of God bury you with Christ! May the Spirit of God give you a familiar acquaintance with what it is to be dead,and for your life to be hid with Christ in God! But to trust is the first great thing. "He that believes on Him has everlastinglife." Baptism follows as an act of obedience and you must not neglect it, but trust Christ and you are saved! God grant youDivine Grace to trust Him, for Jesus' sake.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-ISAIAH 59.