Sermon 983. Moab Is My Washpot
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Moab is my washpot."-Psalm 60:8.
MOAB, which had threatened Israel, was to be so completely subdued, and become so utterly contemptible as to be likened toa washpot or basin in which men wash their feet. More than this, however, may have been intended-nay, we feel sure was intendedby the expression. Let us explain exactly what the language literally means. In the East the general mode of washing the handsand the feet is with a basin and ewer; water is poured upon the hands or feet from the ewer, andit falls into the basin. No Oriental, if he can help it, will wash in standing water; he prefers to have it clear andrunning. He puts his feet into the washpot, into the bath, into the basin, and then the clear, cool liquid is poured uponhis feet; the washpot answering the sole purpose of holding the dirty water which has already passed over the man's flesh.Wearing no completely covering shoes, as we do, but only sandals, the feet of an eastern traveler in a long journey becomevery muchdefiled; the water, therefore, when it runs off from them, is far from clean, and the washpot is thus put to a very contemptibleuse by being only the receptacle of dirty water. When Moab thus became a washpot, it was far other than when it was said,"Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel,neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed." "We have heard thepride of Moab (he is exceeding proud), his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart."
What does Moab represent to you and to me? We are the children of Israel by faith in Christ, and in him we have obtained bycovenant a promised land. Our faith may cry, "I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valles of Succoth." All things are oursin Christ Jesus; "Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine." Now Moab was outside of Canaan. It was not given to Israel as a possession,but in course of time it was subdued in warfare, and became tributary to the Jewish king. Eventhus our faith overcometh the world, and enables us to say, "this world is ours"-ours for a useful, needful purpose. Weset but small store by it; it is nothing but our washpot, but we are content to use it as far as we may make it subserve aholy end. The best possessions we have outside of the spiritual heritage we put under our feet, desiring to keep them in theirproper inferior position; they are not the crown of our head, nor the comfort of our heart, nor the girdle of our loins, northe staff of our support; they are put to baser uses far. They yield us some comfort, for which we are grateful to God,but it is only for our feet or lower nature; our head and heart find nobler joys. The whole world put together, with all itswealth, is but a mess of potage for Esau, and nothing more. God's Jacob has a better portion, for he has the birthright. Ourworst is better than the world's best, for the reproach of Christ is greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.
"We trend the world beneath our feet,
With all that earth calls good or great."
"Moab is my washpot," nothing more-a thing contemptible and despicable as compared with the eternal realities of covenantblessings; yet, for all that, there was a use for Moab, a use to be rightly understood. A washpot has its necessary function;and even this base world may be made by faith, in the hands of God, to be the means of aiding the purity of the saints; itsafflictions and troubles may work our present and lasting good. The world and its trials can never becompared to the water which cleanses our feet; for that purifying stream we look to a far higher source; but it may belikened to the basin in which our feet are placed while they are being washed.
If we regard Moab as representative of the unregenerate people among whom we dwell, we do well, like the children of Israel,on their march to Canaan, to let them alone, for their heritage is not our heritage, neither are their joys our joys. Theless communion we have with them the better. If we ask of them, as Israel did of Moab, simply to be allowed to go on our wayin peace, it is all we need. Moses sent his messenger, who said, "Let me pass through thy land: I will goalong by the highway, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, thatI may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet; until I shall pass over Jordaninto the land which the Lord our God giveth us." Like the pilgrims in Vanity Fair, we only ask a clear passage through theplace, for we have no inheritance in it, no, not so much as we can set our foot upon. Yet, inasmuch as we cannot altogetherseparate ourselves from the sinful, for then must we needs go out of the world, we are compelled to feel the influenceof their conduct, and it will become our wisdom to watch that this become not injurious to us, but be made under God ratherto be of service to us than a hindrance.
My object will be to show that, contrary to the ordinary course of nature, but not contrary to faith, even this ungodly worldmay be made to assist our advance in holiness. As of old the men of Israel went down to the Philistines to sharpen every manhis axe and his courter, so may we derive some sharpening from our enemies. We may gather honey from the lion, take a jewelfrom the toad's head, and borrow a star from the brow of night. Moab may become our washpot.
While this is contrary to nature, it is also unusual in history. In the Book of Numbers we read that Balak, son of Zippor,desired to vanquish Israel, and therefore he sent for Balaam, the son of Beor, saying, "Curse me Israel, and peradventureI shall prevail against them." Balaam was not able to curse Israel by word of mouth, but he cursed them in very deed whenhe counselled the king to make them unclean in God's sight by sending the daughters of Moab among them, whonot only led them into lasciviousness, but invited them to the sacrifices of their gods. Then the anger of the Lord waskindled against Israel, and the plague would have devoured them, had not the holy zeal of Phinehas turned away the divineanger. Thus it is clear that Moab of old was foremost in polluting and defiling Israel. It is a great feat of faith when thething which naturally defiles is turned into a washpot. Behold the transformations of grace! This ungodly world outside thechurch,the world of wicked men, would naturally pollute us, but faith turns them into a washpot, and finds in them motives forwatchfulness and holiness. We sigh, in the words of the old psalm-
"Woe's me that I in Mesech am
A sojourner so long;
That I in tabernacles dwell
To Kedar that belong."
As we cannot sing the Lord's song in a strange land, so neither can we very readily keep our garments unspotted in a landdeluged with uncleannees. With difficulty do we save ourselves from this untoward generation. And yet faith learns the secretof overcoming the ordinary tendency of things, and of making that which might injure us subsidiary to our advantage; fulfillingthat ancient promise, "And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alienshall be your plowmen and your vinedressers."
The defiling world may be made helpful to us in the following ways.
I. First of all, ungodly men, if we are in a gracious spirit, may be of solemn service to us, because WE SEE IN THEM WHATSIN IS. They are beacons upon the rocks to keep us from danger. The lives of many men are recorded in Scripture, not as excusesfor our sins, much less as examples, but the very reverse. Like murderers in the olden times hung in chains, they are meantto be warnings. Their lives and deaths are danger-signals, bidding those who are pursuing a career ofsin, to come to a pause, and reverse the engine forthwith. They are our washpot in that respect, that they warn us ofpollution, and so help to prevent our falling into it. When we learn that pride turned angels into devils, we have a lessonin humility read to us from heaven and hell. When we read of profane Esau, obstinate Pharaoh, disobedient Saul, apostate Judas,or vacillating Pilate, we are taught thereby to shun the rocks upon which they made eternal shipwreck. Trangressors of ourownrace are peculiarly suitable to act as warnings to us, for we ought ever to remember when we see the sins of ungodly men,that "such were some of us." Whenever thou seest a drunkard, if thou wast once such, it will bring the tears to thine eyes to remember when thou too wasta slave to the ensnaring cup, and thou wilt thank God that his grace has changed thee. Not as the Pharisee wilt thou pretendto thank God, whilst thou art flattering thine own self, but with deep humiliation thouwilt confess what grace has done. When we read in the newspaper a sad case of lasciviousness, or any other breach of thelaws of God and man, if we were aforetime guilty of the like and have now been renewed in heart, it will make us blush; itwill humble us, and cause us to admire the power and sovereignty of divine grace. Now the blush of repentance, the shamefacednessof humility, and the tear of gratitude, are three helpful things, and all tend under God's grace to set us purging out theold leaven. Remember, O believer, that there is no wretch upon earth so bad, but what thou wast once his equal in alienationfrom God and death in sin. In untoward acts there may have been much difference, but in the inner man how little! The seedof all the sin which thou seest in him lies in thy corrupt nature, and needs only a fit season to bring forth and bud. Thouwast once in that fire of sin, in which he is consumed by his passions; thou hast been plucked as a brand from the burning,else hadst thou been there still. Yonder is a prodigal, all bespattered from head to foot, but we also once were plungedinto the ditch, until our own clothes abhorred us, and we should be sinking in the mire even now, if the mighty hand of gracehad not lifted us up from the horrible pit, and washed us in the Savior's blood. We were "heirs of wrath even as others." "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Our sins are different, but we were all without exception shapen ininiquity, and as in water, face answereth unto face, so the heart of man to man.
When you see the wickedness of an ungodly man, make him your washpot, by remembering that you also, though you are regenerate, are encompassed with "the body of this death." Remember the words of the Apostle: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will ispresent with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil whichI would not, that I do. I find then a law, that, whenI would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another lawin my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."The old nature so remains in us, that, if we were to be deserted by God, we should even yet become such as the ungodly are.Need I quote to you the speech of John Bradford, one of the godliest of men? When he saw a wretch taken out to Tyburn to behanged,the tears were in his eyes, and when they asked him why, he said, "There goes John Bradford, but for the grace of God."Ah, and when we see a prodigal plonging into excess of riot, there goes the best among us, if we are not preserved in ChristJesus. Ay, and when the damned go down to hell, there must I go, unless the same grace which restrains me now from sin, shalluphold me to my last day; and keep me from falling. Brother Christian, you carry much combustible matter in your nature, bewarned when you see your neighbour's house on fire. When one man falls, the next should look to his steps. You are a manof like passions, remember yourself, lest you also be tempted. In these days of epidemics, if we knew that a certain housewas tainted with disease, and if we saw a person who had come from it with the marks of the disease in his face; what shouldwe feel? Should we not take it as a warning to keep clear, both of the house and of him; because we ourselves are as likelytotake the disease as He was? So when we see a sinner transgressing we should say to ourselves, "I also am a man, and afallen man, let me abhor every evil way, and guard myself jealously, lest I also fall into sin." In this way Moab may be awashpot. By remembering what we are, and what we were, we may, by taking warning from the evil courses of others, avoid thelike condemnation.
There are certain sins which we readily detect in others, which should serve as loud calls to us to us to correct the same things in ourselves. When a man sees the faults of others, and congradulates himself that he is far superior to such, he evidently knows not howto extract good from evil; he is proud, and knows nothing. But when we perceive errors in others, and immediately set a diligentwatch against falling into the like, then Moab is rightly used, andbecomes our washpot. For instance, as to the matter of bodily indulgence? The sinner is a man who puts his body beforehis soul, and his head where his feet should be; he is therefore a monster in nature. Instead of the world being under hisfeet, as it is with every good man, he inverts himself, and places his head and his heart in the dust. He lives for the bodywhich is to die, and forgets the soul which lives for ever. When therefore you see a drunkard, or an unchaste person, saytoyourself, "I must mortify my members, and give my Spiritual nature the predominance. For this I must cry mightily to God,the Eternal Spirit, lest the body of this death prevail over me. I must keep under my body, as the Apostle saith, and bringit into subjection, lest I too become a prey to the same animal passions, which lead sinners captives."
I see the ungodly man putting this poor fleeting world before the eternal world to come; therein he is a fool; but let metake heed that I in no measure imitate him. Let me never in my business live as though to make money; to get a competence,to earn the wherewithal to eat and drink, were the first thing with me. Let me not fall into his error, but ever seek firstthe kingdom of God and his righteousness, and believe that other things shall be added to me. The ungodlyman disregards God. God is not in all his thoughts. He saith in his heart, "No God." Now when I know that the ungodlyman does that, it should be a warning to me not to forget the Lord, or depart from him in any measure. Alas, we are all ofus more or less atheistic. How little of our life is given to God! You who love and fear him are not always near to him, thoughhe is always near to you. Do you never enter upon your enterprises without him? When you begin your business with him, areyou notapt to forget him in the middle passage of it? Or when you have gone on to the very center of a work with him, are younot liable to leave him ere you close? Is not this to learn the way of the wicked and to be like them in wandering away fromthe living God? To have God always with us, to lean hourly upon him, and to feel each moment that he is all in all to us-thisis the true condition in which our minds ought to be continually. The atheism of the outside world should warn us againsttheinward godlessness of our naturally atheistic hearts.
We select these sins as specimens of the general principle, but it is applicable to all forms of evil. Did you ever meet witha vain man, who boasted loudly, and evermore talked about his own beloved self? Was not that a lesson for you? Surely it willhelp to preserve you from acting so ridiculous a part. Did not I hear you, the other night, laughing at the boaster for hisfolly? Let us hope, then, you will never set others laughing at yourself. You know another person whois morose, he always speaks sharply, and makes enemies. Be you of another spirit; be courteous, cultivate the grace ofcheerfulness and good temper as a Christian. The moroseness of the churl should enforce upon you the duty of godly gentleness.Moab will be your washpot. You know a certain person whose hands appear to be paralysed if they are required to bestow a contribution.How unlovely his meanness makes him! Will not the miserable exhibition of stinginess, which he presents, lead you toavoid all covetousness? Another person of your acquaintance is very soon irritated. You can hardly say a word to displeasehim but he makes a crime of it immediately, and falls into the temporary insanity of anger. Well, then, learn yourself tobe slow to wrath. Seek that charity which is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. May be your friend's blood is warmer thanyours, and there is some excuse for him; but since you see how unwise and wicked it is in him, seek much grace wherewith toovercome the propensity in your own case. If a man should fall into a pit through walking unwarily along a dangerous path,his fall should be my safety, his experience should be my instruction; there can be no need for me to roll over the same precipicein order to know experimentally how dangerous it is. How sad a fact it is that very few of us ever do learn by the experienceof other people! Dame Experience must take each one of us into her school, and make us personally smart under herrod-we will not learn else. Warnings are neglected by the foolish. The young slaggard sees the huge thorns and thistlesin the older sluggard's garden and yet he follows the same lazy habits. One step follows another into the shambles. Fliessee their brethren perishing, in the sugared trap, and yet rush into it themselves. The Lord make us wise and prudent, andfrom the errors of others may we learn to steer our own course aright; then may we truly say, "Moab is my washpot."
II. Another illustration of this practical principle lies in the fact, that WE SEE IN THE UNGODLY THE PRESENT EVIL RESULTSOF SIN. We frequently have the opportunity of beholding in them, not only sin, but some of its bitter fruits, and this shouldstill further help us to shun it, by God's grace. Evil is now no longer an unknown seed of doubtful character; we have seenit planted, and have beheld sinners reaping the first sheaves of its awful harvest. This poison is nolonger an uncertain drug, for its deadly effects are apparent in those around us. If we sin, it is no longer through thewant of knowing what sin will lead to, for its mischief is daily before our eyes.
First, are you not very certain, those of you who watch unconverted and ungodly people, that they are not solidly happy? What roaring boys they are sometimes! How vociferous are their songs! How merry their dances! How hilarious their laughter!You would think that there were no happier people to be found under the sun; but as, on many a face, beauty is produced byart rather than by nature, and a little paint creates a transient comeliness, so, often the mirth ofthis world is a painted thing, a base imitation, not so deep even as the skin. Ungodly men know nothing of heart-laughing;they are strangers to the deep, serene happiness which is the portion of believers. Their joy comes and goes with the hour.See them when the feast is over-"Who hath woe? Who hath redness of the eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; the men ofstrength to mingle strong drink." Mark them when alone: they are ready to die with dulness. They want to kill time, as iftheyhad an overplus of it and would be glad to dispose of the superfluity. A man's face must be very ugly when he never caresto look at it, and a man's state must be very bad indeed in when he is ashamed to know what it is; and yet in the case oftens of thousands of people, who say they are very happy, there is a worm inside the apple; the very foundation-stone hasbeen removed from the edifice; and you may be sure it is so, for they dare not examine into matters. Ungodly men at bottomareunhappy men. "The way of trangressors is hard." "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Their Marah is neverdry, but flows with perennial waters of bitterness. What says their great poet Byron:-
"Count o'er the joys thine hours have seen,
Count o'er the days from anguish free;
And know whatever thou hast been,
Tis something better not to be."
Now then, if things be so-if sin brings after all an unsatisfactory result to the mind, if a man is not rendered happy byan evil course-then let me choose another path, and, by God's grace, keep to wisdom's ways of pleasantness and paths of peace,into which my Lord by his love has drawn me and by his grace has led me. I am happy in his bosom, I drink living waters outof his fountain. Why should I go to those broken cisterns, which I clearly see can hold no water?Why should I wish to wander over the dreary waste of waters? Noah's hand is warm, and the peaceful ark is near: "Returnunto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." When I read of aching hearts, and hear that greatworldling, who had all the world could give him, sum it all up with this sentence, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," doesnot my heart say at once, "Oh, empty world, thou temptest me in vain, for I see through the cheat." Madam Bubble we have seenwithher mask off, and are not to be fascinated by so ugly a witch. We follow not after yonder green meads and flowing brooks,because they are not real, and are only a mirage mocking the traveler. Wherefore should we pursue a bubble or chase the wind?We spend our money no more for that which is not bread. Moab is our washpot; if others have found earthly things to be unsatisfactory,we wash our hands of their disappointing pursuits. Dear Savior, we would follow thee whithersoever thou goest, tillwe come to dwell with thee for ever.
But it is not merely that ungodly men are not happy; there are times when they are positively wretched through their sins. Sometimes fear cometh upon them as a whirlwind, and they have no refuge or way of escape. I have been now and then calledto witness the utter anguish of a man who has lost his gods. His great idols have been broken, and he has been in despair.His darling child is dead, or his wife is a corpse, and he knows not how to endure life. Did you eversee a godless man when he had lost all his money in a speculation which once promised fair? Did you mark his woe? Didyou ever see the countenance of a gambler who had staked his last and lost his all? See him in an agony which can find noalleviation. He rises from the table, he rushes to imbrue his hands in his own blood. Poor soul, he has lost his all! Thatnever happens to a Christian-never! If all he had on earth were gone, it would be only like losing a little of his spending-money,buthis permanent capital would be safe in the Imperial exchequer, where Omnipotence itself stands guard.
Even when no very great calamity puts out the candle of the worldling, Yet, as years revolve, a gathering cloud darkens hisday. Hear again the world's master songster. The confession will suit many:-
"My days are in the yellow leaf,
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief-
Are mine alone.
The fire that in my bosom plays
Alone as some volcanic isle;
No torch is kindled at its blaze-
A funeral pile."
This is the world's treatment of its old servants: it dishonors them in old age; but it is not so with aged believers: "theyshall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing, to show that the Lord is upright." When all ourwealth on earth is gone, our treasure is still safe in heaven, where moth corrupts not, and thieves break not through norsteal. When we think of the despair of men, of blasted hopes, Moab may become our washpot, and may keepus from setting our affection upon their fleeting joys.
Here and there, in the Moab of sin, you meet with men who are in their garments, their trembling limbs, their penury, andtheir shame, living monitors and standing proves that the way of transgressors in hard. There are sins whose judgment hastensas a whirlwind-sins of the flesh, which eat into the bones and poison the blood; sins of appetite, that degrade and destroythe frame. If young men knew the price of sin, even in this life, they would not be so but to purchasepleasurable moments at the price of painful years. Who would coin his life into iniquity to have it returned to him inthis life, red-hot from the mint of torment! Mark well the spendthrift, void of understanding! I have seen him at my door.I knew his relatives; people of reputable character and good estate. I have seen him in rags which scarcely covered him, piteouslyweeping for a piece of bread. Yet a few short years ago he inherited a portion which most men would have thought wealth. Inamad riot, into which he could not crowd enough of debauchery, he spent all that he had. He was soon penniless, and thenloathsome and sore sick. He was pitied by his friends, but pity has been lost on him, and now none of his kith or kin dareown him. I too fed him, clothed him, and found him a place of labor. The garments which charity had supplied him, within thenext few hours, were sold for drink, and he was wallowing in drunkenness. The work was deserted almost as soon as attempted.Hewill die of starvation, if he be not already dead, for he has abandoned himself to every vicious excess, and already tremblesfrom head to foot, and looks to be on the borders of the grave. Nothing keeps him sober but want of another penny to buy drink;not even that can restrain him from uncleanness. Hunger, and cold, and nakedness he knows full well, and prefers to endurethem rather than earn honest bread and abandon his licentiousness. Tears have been wept over him in vain, and many musthave been his own tears of misery when he has been in want. The workhouse is his best shelter and its pauper clothinghis noblest livery. Away from that retreat he is a mass of rags and indescribable filth. Young Christian professor, if youare tempted by the strange woman, or by the wine which moveth itself aright in the cup, look on the victims of these destroyersere you dally with them. See the consequences of sin even in this life, and avoid it, pass not by it, look not on it, butfleeyouthful lusts which war against the soul. Thus make filthy Moab to become your washpot from this time forth.
The unconverted when they go not thus far may yet be beacons to us. Observe, for instance, the procrastinating hearer of thegospel, how certainly he becomes hardened to all rebukes. Early sensibility gives way to indifference. Let us also bewarelest we, by trifling with convictions and holy impulses, lose tenderness of conscience. They advance in evil, and at lastcommit with impunity sins which, years ago, would have struck them with unaffected horror; let us becautious lest a similarly blunting process should be carried on upon our hearts. But time would fail me to show you indetail how readily the evil results of sin in others may preserve us from falling into the like; how, in a word, Moab maybe our washpot.
III. A third point suggests itself. Men of this world are made useful to us since they DISCOVER IN US OUR WEAK PLACES. Theiropposition, slander, and persecution, are a rough pumice-stone, to remove some of our spots. When young men come to college,one of the chief benefits they obtain is the severe criticism to which they are subjected from their tutors and fellow students.Sharp ears hear their slips of speech, and they are made conscious of them. Now in a certain sensethe outside world often becomes a college to the Christian. When we are with our dear Christian brethren, they do notlook for our faults-at least, they should not-neither do they irritated us and so bring our infirmities to the surface, butthey treat us so lovingly and gently that we do not know our weak side. Young Christians would be like plants under glasscases in a conservatory, and become tender and feeble, but the rough world tries them, and is over-ruled by God to theirstrengthening and general benefit. Men's lynx eyes see our shortcomings, and their merciless tongues inform us of them;And, for my part, I see much advantage brought out of this maliciousness of theirs; they are our monitors, and help to keepus humble, and make us careful. If we cannot bear a little shake from men, how shall we bear the shaking of heaven and earthat the last day?
The world often tries us as with fire, and the things which we reckoned to be gold and silver perish in the ordeal it theyare but counterfeit, but we are gainers by such a loss. In the world our temper is tried, and too often we become irritated.What then? Why just this; if sanctification has regulated our emotions, patience will have her perfect work, and charity willsuffer long; but if we are soon angry and find it hard to forgive, let us not so much find fault withthose who try us as with ourselves, because we cannot bear the ordeal. Our pride must go down, we must become slow towrath, we must be content to be as our Lord, the meek and lowly Savior. These irritations show us how far we are from themodel, and should excite in us a desire for progress towards his complete image. Perhaps you had fondly said in your heart,"I could bear a great deal. I could act the Christian under the worst abuse;" but now you sing another song, and find howgreat yourweakness is. Moab thus again becomes your washpot, for now you will go to God in prayer, and ask to be subdued to hiswill.
Do not worldly men in some cases frighten professors out of their testimony for Christ? I mean, has it never happened thatour cheek has blanched, and our tongue failed us in the presence of cavillers, and blasphemers, and sceptics, and have wenot been silent when we ought to have avowed our Lord? That also shows how cowardly we are at heart, and how cold is our love.We are to blame for not having more courage; for if we were strong in the Lord and in the power of hismight, as we ought to be, we should be ready to go with Christ to prison and to death, and never think of shunning hisservice.
Do you not find that ungodly men, when you are obliged to be in their company in business, will occasionally utter remarkswhich shake your faith about truths which you imagined you firmly believed? Too many are content with a superficial creed.Their faith is not rooted deep in their hearts, and therefore a little wind rocks the tree to and fro, but ere long the verymotion of the tree tends to root it, and it becomes all the more firm. God over-rules for good theevilness of men against the truth. Besides, do not ungodly men drive us from loving the world! We might think of findingour rest here below, but when we hear their tongues cruelly and unkindly slandering us, there we are sick of their company.
"My soul distracted mourn and pines
To reach that peaceful shore,
Where all the weary are at rest,
And troubles vex no more."
An extreme case of the way in which evil treatment may tend to our sanctification, may be found in the life of one of theold ministers in the north of Scotland. "A cold, unfeeling, bold, unheeding, worldly woman was the wife of Mr. Fraser, oneof the ministers of Ross-shire," writes my beloved friend, Mr. John Kennedy, in his interesting book, entitled, "The Daysof the Fathers in Ross-shire." "Never did her godly husband sit down to a comfortable meal in his own home,and often would he have fainted but for the considerate kindness of some of his parishioners. She was too insensate totry to hide her treatment of him, and well was it for him, on one account, that she was. His friends thus knew of his ill-treatment,and were moved to do what they could for his comfort. A godly acquaintance arranged with him to leave a supply of food ina certain place, beside his usual walk, of which he might avail himself when starved at home. Even light and fire in hisstudy were denied to him on the long, cold winter evenings; and as his study was his only place of refuge from the cruelscourge of his wife's tongue and temper, there, shivering and in the dark, he used to spend his winter evenings at home. Compelledto walk in order to keep himself warm, and accustomed to do so when preparing for the pulpit, he always kept his hands beforehim as feelers in the dark, to warn him of his approaching the wall at either side of the room. In this way he actuallywore a hole through the plaster at each end of his accustomed beat, on which some eyes have looked that glistened withlight from other fire than that of love, at the remembrance of his cruel wife. But the godly husband had learned to thankthe Lord for the discipline of this trial. Being once at a Presbytery dinner, alone, amidst a group of moderates, one of themproposed, as a toast, the health of their wives, and turning to Mr. Fraser, said, as he winked at his companions, 'You, ofcourse,will cordially join in drinking to this toast.'-'So I will, and so I ought,' Mr. Fraser said, 'for mine has been a betterwife to me than any of yours has been to you.' 'How so?' they all exclaimed.-'She has sent me,' was his reply, 'seven timesa day to my knees, when I would not otherwise have gone, and that is more than any of you can say of yours.'" Ah, this isthe way to make Moab our washpot, that is to say, to make those who grieve us most, act but as rough waves to hurry us ontothe rock, or as biting winds that drift as the faster into port. If the birds of paradise will keep to the nest, theirungodly relatives or neighbors shall be a thorn therein to make them mount into their native element-the heaven of God.
The attacks of the ungodly upon the church have been overruled by God to make his people leave the camp and foresake ungodlyassociations, so as to be separate. I know a beloved sister in Christ who was baptised; she had moved in high circles, butthey told me that after her baptism she received the cold shoulder. When I heard it, I said, "Thank God for it," for halfher temptations are gone. If the world has turned its back upon her, she will be all the more sure to turnher back on the world and live near to her Lord. The friendship of the world is enmity to God-why should we seek it? "Ifany man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." If any man will follow Christ he must expect persecution, andone of the cardinal precepts of the Christian faith runs thus: "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith theLord, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." "Let us go forth, therefore, unto him, withoutthe camp, bearing his reproach."
IV. Lastly, IN REFERENCE TO THE WORLD TO COME, the terrible doom of the ungodly is a most solemn warning to us. My heart failsme to speak concerning the destiny of the ungodly in another world. Dying without hope, without a Savior, they go before thethrone uncleansed, unforgiven, to hear that awful sentence, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the deviland his angels." Pursue them for a moment in your thoughts, down to the deeps of wrath, whitherGod's judgment shall pursue them. My Lord, I pray thee of thy grace, save me from the sin which brings such a result atthe end of it. If the wages of sin be such a death as this, Lord save me from so accursed a service. Will not the sight oftheir destruction drive us to watchfulness, and cause us to make our calling and election sure? Will it not make us anxiouslest we also come into this place of torment? O the wrath to come! The wrath to come whereof this Book speaks in so many terribletones and dreadful images! Remember Lot's wife "I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, howthat the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angelswhich kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness untothe judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves overtofornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
In this way Moab becomes our washpot, by showing us what sin grows to when it has developed itself. This consideration willsurely cause us more heartily to love the Savior, who can deliver us from it.
Dear friends, if you are not in Christ, much of what I have said bears upon you. Bethink yourself, and pray to escape fromthe wrath to come. I would not have you be made a mere washpot to be used and broken as a potter's vessel. Neither shouldyou wish to be a vessel without honor, a thing of no esteem; but may you have faith in Jesus-life in him, and then you shallbe a royal diadem, a crown of glory in the hand of our God. May you have a heritage among those who fearthe Lord, and are reconciled to him by faith in the total sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 60.