Sermon 1413. Underneath
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MAY 12, 1878,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27.
GOD surrounds His children on all sides-they dwell in Him. The passage before us shows that the Lord is above, for we read,"There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rides upon the Heaven to help you, and in His excellency on the sky." AssuredlyHe is around them, for, "The eternal God is your refuge." And He is before them, for, "He shall thrust out the enemy frombefore you; and shall say, Destroy them." Here, according to the text, the Lord is also under His saints, for, "Underneathare the everlasting arms." "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations," and by You we are surrounded everywhere,as the earth is by the atmosphere-
"Within Your circling power I stand. On every side I find Your hand. Awake, asleep, at home, abroad, I am surrounded stillwith God."
The verse which contains our text should be interpreted somewhat after this fashion-"The eternal God is your dwelling place,or your rest, and underneath are the everlasting arms." The parallel passage is that verse in the Song wherein the bride exclaims,"His left hand is under my head, and His right hand does embrace me." The soul has come to its resting place in God and feelsitself to be supported by the Divine strength. The heart has learned to abide in Christ Jesus to go no more out, but to leanon His bosom both day and night. It is somewhat in the condition of Noah's dove which, when weary, was about to drop intothe destroying waters, but Noah put out his hand and plucked her to him into the ark. And when she was all safe, in the hollowof his hands, held by her preserver with a firm but tender grasp, she found in that place a refuge which surrounded her andupheld her from below. The hands covered her on all sides and came beneath her, too. Even thus, the hand of God sustains allthose who dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I am going, however, to take the words just as they stand in our own authorized version and to consider them apart from thecontext. I ask your most careful consideration of them, for they must be very full of meaning and very emphatic in their force.The words are placed at the end of Moses' song and they are its crown and climax. He had wound himself up to the highest pitchof poetic excitement and spiritual fervor-and this passage is the result. He had spoken grandly, before, concerning the separatetribes and the words which fell from his lips are unspeakably rich. But now he is about to close and, therefore, he poursforth his loftiest strains and utters full and deep meanings-the ripest and choicest fruit of a lifetime of communion withGod! As our Lord ascended to Heaven blessing His disciples, so did His servant Moses, before climbing to Pisgah, pour outa torrent of benedictions, full and deep, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
It is not possible, therefore, that the language can be too greatly prized. The words mean all that we can make them mean!The nectar of their consolation is altogether inexhaustible! May God the Holy Spirit help us to weigh and measure them andthen distil their inner sense and drink of the spiced wine of His pomegranate. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." I shallhandle the text in this fashion. Where? "Underneath." What? "The everlasting arms." When? They are underneath us now and alwaysand if it is so, what then?
I. First let us attend to the question-WHERE? "Underneath." Now, "underneath," is a region into which we cannot see. We glancedown and the dead cold earth stops our gaze. When we are heavy in spirit we fix our eyes upon the ground and look, and look,and look-but even an eagle's glance cannot see far below. We scarcely can peer beneath the thin green sod-the bottom of agrave is well near the full range of mortal vision. The underworld is mysterious. We associate the subterranean with all thatis dark and hidden and, because of this, it is often regarded as terrible. A man
scarcely ever fears that which he can see in proportion to his dread of what he cannot see. Therefore, our alarm at the "underneath."
What may be underneath us when we leave this sunlit region for the grave's overshadowing vault? What will happen to us ineternity? Life will soon end-what is death? What is the immediate result of death? What shall we feel when we are traversingthose unknown tracks and finding our way to the Judgment Seat of God? Not knowing except that little which has been revealedto us, we are all too apt to conjecture terrors and invent horrors-and so to begin trembling concerning that which we do notunderstand! What a comfort it is to be told by the Voice of Inspiration that, "Underneath are the everlasting arms!"
Poets have usually been in a gloomy humor when picturing the underworld. Imagination is very apt to spin a black and tangledthread. You have read of dark caverns where the bodies of men are fast detained, of which caverns Death has the key. Of thisthe grim Anglo-Saxon poet wailed the warning note-
"Loathsome is that earth-house, And grim within to dwell! There you shall dwell, And worms shall divide you!"
You have heard of gloomy ruins where the night raven forever sits and croaks. You have heard of corridors where prisonersincessantly rattle their chains to the dolorous music of sullen groans and hollow moans. We have been afraid of death becauseof the horrors with which our ignorance has surrounded it! And we have been dismayed at the future because of the mysterieswhich darken it.
Be comforted! Our text, like a lamp, reveals the abyss of death and lifts up the veil of the future! Follow its gleam andyou will see how it dispels the darkness! If you are a child of God, you may descend without fear into the lowest depths-even if, like Jonah, you had to cry, "I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever,"yet you need not be dismayed-for, "Underneath are the everlasting arms." If you were called to take some such awful journeyas Virgil and Dante have fabled in their poems, when their heroes descended into the dread Avernus, you need not tremble,though it were said of you as of them-
"Along the illuminated shade Darkening and lone their way they made." If, I say, you were bound to traverse the sepulchralvaults and all the gloomy dungeons of Hades, yet you need not fear, for, "Underneath are the everlasting arms."
Mystery of mysteries! Death, you are no longer terrible to us because the Light of lights is shining upon you! Depths unfathomable,we no longer fear to pass through you, for there is One whose love is deeper than the depths beneath as it is higher thanthe heights above! And He has said, "I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring them up from the depths of the sea." Wegladly take our journey downward at the call of God! And without fear we pass through the gates of the tomb and enter thedoors of the shadow of death, for, "Underneath are the everlasting arms." "Underneath"-the word awakens thought and enquiry.Everything ought to be sound, solid and substantial there. "Underneath" must be firm, for if that fails we fail, indeed!
We have been building and our eyes have been gladdened with the rising walk and with the towering pinnacles. But what if somethingshould be rotten "underneath?" Great will be the fall then, if we have built as high as Heaven, if sand lies underneath, yieldingand shifting in the day of flood. "Underneath" is the great matter to which the architect, if he is wise, will give his bestattention. And truly, Brothers and Sisters, when you and I begin to examine our Graces and our professions, that word, "underneath,"suggests many a testing question. Is it all right with us as to the root of the matter-"underneath?" If not, the fair flowerabove ground will wither very speedily. The seed has sprung up hastily, but how is the soil underneath? For if there is nodepth of earth, the scorching sun will soon dry up the superficial harvest.
"Underneath," though it is mysterious, is also intensely important and, therefore, the great joy of being able to say by faith,"Yes, 'underneath' is well secured, we have trusted in God and we shall not be confused. We have relied upon the eternal promisesand they cannot fail. We have rested on the infinite merits of the atoning Sacrifice of God's dear Son and we shall neverbe ashamed of our hope." Happy is he who rests upon the Everlasting Covenant ordered in all things
and sure, for with him all is safe underneath! And, though the earth is removed and the mountains are carried into the midstof the sea, he need not fear, but may patiently hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God.
For a period we may be content with superficial pleasures, but there are times of trial when we have to fall back upon somethingdeeper and more reliable-earthly props give way, in their season, and we need superior sustaining power. The carnal mind meetswith an hour when "the proud helpers do stoop under him" and Believers, too, in proportion as they foolishly lean upon anarm of flesh, find their confidences departing. Then it is that we feel the value of Divine upholding and rejoice that "Underneathare the everlasting arms."
Let us look more closely into this most important matter. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." That is, first, as the foundationof everything. If you go down, down, to discover the basement upon which all things rest, you come, before long, to "the everlastingarms." The things which are seen are held up by the invisible God! This outward visible universe has no power to stand fora single instant if He does not keep it in being. By Him all things exist. There are no forces apart from God's power! Noexistences apart from His will! He bears up the pillars of the universe. He, only, spreads out the heavens and treads uponthe waves of the sea. He makes Arcturus, Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south. Foolish are those philosopherswho think that they can reach the essence and soul from which visible things were evolved unless they bow before the invisibleGod! He is the foundation of creation, the fountain and source of being, the root and basement of existence. "Underneath"everything "are the everlasting arms."
Most true is this with regard to His Church. He chose her and redeemed her to Himself-the very idea of a Church is from theLord alone. As a temple He devised her architecture, saying, "I will lay your foundations with sapphires." And He has builtup her every stone by His own power. He sustains her walls against her enemies so that the gates of Hell cannot prevail againsther, for the foundation of God stands sure. The foundation of every true Church is the Lord Himself, the Highest, Himself,establishes her. God is in the midst of her-she shall not be moved. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." Blessed be God,what is true of the Church as a corporate body is true of every member of the Church! There abides no spiritual life in theworld which is not founded upon the everlasting arms.
Beloved, if the life of God is in you, if you search deep and go to the basis of it, you will find that your life is stayingitself and drawing its constant nurture, yes, deriving its very existence from the life of the eternal God. Jesus says, "BecauseI live, you shall live also." Your life is the life of God in you, for the Divine seed is the foundation of all spirituallife. Beware, then, of harboring in your heart anything which has not underneath it the everlasting arms. If there is anyhope, let it be founded on the Everlasting Covenant of God. If there is any joy, let it well up from the everlasting loveof God. If there is any confidence, let it be stayed upon the everlasting strength of Jehovah. If there is any service rendered,let it be according to the everlasting commandment.
If in your soul there is any Divine Grace. If there is any virtue. If there is any praise, suffer none of these matters tobe superficial or pretentious-the creation of your own native strength-but let them all be founded upon the work of the HolySpirit in your soul. In fact, let it be said of each of them, "Underneath are the everlasting arms." Nothing will serve ourturn in the trials of life, the terrors of death, or the solemnities of the Last Great Day, except that which has underneathit the everlasting arms! See how the nations reel when God no longer sustains them-"He removes the mountains and they knownot, He overturns them in His anger." See how those Churches fly into apostasy which have not underneath them the everlastingarms-they are quenched as the fire of thorns and only a smoke remains!
Did not Jesus say, "Every plant that my Father has not planted shall be rooted up"? See how hypocritical professors disappearlike the morning mist when the sun rises! Nothing will abide the day of the Lord's coming unless its foundation is laid inthe eternal God. The Lord help us to know what this means so that we may be like the wise man who dug deep and built his houseupon a rock. Again, we may read the words, "Underneath are the everlasting arms," in the sense of being the bottom and endand object of everything. If in faith you search into Divine Providence, however dark and trying it may appear, you will soonfind that underneath it are the everlasting arms.
Satan may be mining, but God is undermining! Even under the deep devices of Hell the everlasting arms are to be found. Satan'scraft is deep to us, but it is very shallow to the Lord, whose wisdom goes far deeper than all the cunning of the Prince ofDarkness. The evils and errors which are in the world should not cause us to despair of the ultimate victory of the Truthof God, for beneath them there is still the immutable decree of the Ever-living and the Ever-blessed-and
that decree shall be accomplished, whoever may oppose it! Has He not said, "I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out ofMy mouth in righteousness, and shall not return. That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear"?
His purpose shall stand. He will do all His pleasure. He works all things according to the counsel of His own will. Traceyour present trials below their surface-trace them to the deeps, instead of groaning over their outward appearance-and youwill find that underneath each trouble there is a faithful purpose and a kind intent. Yes, beneath the utmost depths of distressand grief, God is still at work in love to your soul! From seeming evil still educing good and, better still-and better stillin infinite progression-underneath the best events are the arms of love to make them good and underneath the worst that canhappen are the same everlasting arms to moderate and overrule them! As the design and object of all, "underneath are the everlastingarms."
I take the text, "Underneath are the everlasting arms," to mean, next, that the arms of God are there as the preservationof His people. His people sometimes appear to themselves to be in very great danger, but it is written, "He shall give Hisangels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot againsta stone." Certain of the saints are set in very high places and their brain might well be turned so that they would fall.But they shall not slip with their feet, for God upholds the righteous. If under deep depression of spirit and sore travailof heart their feet should be almost gone, what a blessing it is to think that "underneath are the everlasting arms."
Sometimes faith walks upon a very slender thread high up above the ways of common men. Poising her balancing pole of experience,she tries to keep her feet-but her satisfaction is that even if she should slip for a while and her joy should fail, yet thereis a net beneath her which will receive her in her fall so that she shall not be utterly dashed in pieces. "I have prayedfor you that your faith fail not" is the gracious safeguard of those who fall, as Peter did, when Satan has them in his sieve.The people of God must and shall be safe! Satan may cast them down, but God shall save them before they fall into Hell. Letus walk carefully, none the less, because of this. Let us watch well our footsteps as much as if our preservation entirelydepended upon ourselves-but let us always look only to our Lord-knowing that He, alone, keeps the feet of His saints.
Holiness, strength of faith and ultimate perfection are the things which we must daily aim at, but it is a blessed consolationthat when, through infirmity or carelessness, we do not fully maintain our consecrated walk, we are not, therefore, cast awayforever, for it is written, "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with His hand." "Underneathare the everlasting arms." That leads me to read my text in the fourth sense as teaching us that the everlasting arms arethe rest of His people. If these everlasting arms are always outstretched to preserve me lest I totter in weakness and fallinto destruction, then on those arms let me lean my whole weight for time and for eternity! That is the practical lesson ofthis choice word.
Keep yourselves, Beloved, in those arms which even now are embracing you! Why vex your heart when you may be free from care?Underneath everything, your Father's arms are placed-what, then, can fret you? Why are you disquieted when you might dwellat ease and inherit the earth? Are you afraid to rest where the universe rests? Are not your Father's arms a sufficient pillowfor you? Do you think that it is not safe to be at peace when the love and might of God, like two strong arms, are stretchedout to hold you up and the Divine Voice whispers to you "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him"? His own Word to HisProphets is, "Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God. Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem." Will you not acceptthe comfort which He sends by His Spirit and bids His servants impart to you?
When God Himself does rest in His love will you not rest in it and shall it not, again, be proven that, "we that have believeddo enter into rest"? Is not the Lord Jesus our peace? Why, then, are we troubled? Well may you lie down to sleep in peacewhen underneath you are the everlasting arms! Well may your spirit be filled with composure and become indifferent to outwardtrials when you are thus held up! Blow, you winds and toss, you waves, the boat cannot sink, or if it did sink it could notsink to our destruction-we should only drop into the great Father's hands-for underneath even the sinking vessel are the everlastingarms! Now, let the earth reel with earthquakes or open wide her mouth to swallow us up quickly-we need not fear to descendinto her dreariest gulf-since underneath us would still be the everlasting arms! What a fullness of rest this secures to thebelieving people of God!
I will fetch from the text one more meaning while I am speaking upon the position of these arms. The text seems to give usa promise of exaltation and uplifting. We may be very low and greatly cast down, but "underneath are the everlasting arms."The merciful God is great at a dead lift. "He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the dunghillthat He may set him with princes, even with the princes of His people." Who can tell how high a man may be lifted up-to whatsublime elevations he may safely ascend when the Lord makes his feet like hind's feet that he may stand upon His high places?If still underneath him are the everlasting arms he may safely obey the word, "Get up into the high mountains." He may outsoarthe eagle, mounting higher and higher till he has left the sun like a speck beneath his feet and still underneath him shallbe the everlasting arms. Therefore higher and yet higher may we hourly ascend in thought, in joy, in holiness, in likenessto our God!
This is meant to encourage us to rise, since there can be no danger while the arms of God are underneath. This, then, my Brothersand Sisters, is where we may expect to find the strength and power of God-it is underneath us, bearing us up! We may not alwayssee it, for the underneath is hidden from our sight, but surely as in secret the Lord upholds the huge columns of the universeso He bears up all His own servants and their concerns! "Underneath are the everlasting arms."
II. Secondly let us meditate upon WHAT it is which is beneath us. The everlasting arms. What is meant by this? I hope thegentlemen who are so ingenious in toning down the word "everlasting" will not meddle with my text. A new way of reading theBible has been invented in these highly enlightened days. I used to get on exceedingly well with the Book years ago, for itseemed clear and plain enough, but modern interpreters would puzzle us out of our wits and out of our souls, if they could,by their vile habit of giving new meanings to plain words! Thank God I keep to the old simple way-but I am informed that theinventors of the new minimizing glasses manage to read the big words small-and they have even read down the word, "everlasting,"into a little space of time! Everlasting may be six weeks or six months according to them. I use no such glasses! My eyesremain the same and "everlasting" is "everlasting" to me whether I read of everlasting life or everlasting punishment. IfI clip the word in one place, I must do so in another. And it will never do to have a terminable Heaven. I cannot afford togive it up here when its meaning is joyous to the saint and, therefore, not there when its sound is terrible to the sinner!
What, then, are "the everlasting arms?" They are arms which always were and always will be. They are arms which always werestrong and will never grow faint or weary. They are arms which, once outstretched, will never be drawn back again. They arearms which, once engaged for the defense of the chosen people, shall never cease to work for their good, world without end!Not failing arms, nor dying arms, but everlasting arms are underneath the saints of God! I understand the words to mean, first,the arms of everlasting purpose, "according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." His purposemay be called His arms, by which He stretches out His hands to do His work and these can never fail, for, "The Lord of Hostshas purposed and who shall disannul it? And His hand is stretched out and who shall turn it back?" "The counsel of the Lordstands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations." "He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? And what His souldesires, even that He does."
We have to deal with One whose gifts and calling are without repentance. In the Book of His purpose it is written and HisProvidence and Grace shall tally with the secret decree, "He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will havecompassion on whom He will have compassion," and the everlasting purpose of Sovereign Grace shall be carried out to the end.O my Soul, when your poor purposes shift and vanish and you have to change them 20 times a day, what a blessing it is to thinkthat the purpose of your God stands fast, and He, Himself, is without the shadow of a turning! He has declared that He thatbelieves in Christ shall be saved and so you shall be, though all Hell assail you! Come what may, the eternal purpose liesat the bottom of all, and will be the end and result of all, and so all Israel shall be saved, for, "underneath are the everlastingarms" of unchanging purpose.
But next we see here the everlasting arms of love. I do no violence to Scripture when I compare love to arms, for is it notwritten, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you"? Love has hands andarms with which it draws us and these are, at this moment underlying all the dealings of God with us. This love is everlastinglove-without beginning, without variation, without end. Underneath you, child of God, is the infinite affection of the OmnipotentGod-what, then, can harm you?
Your love? Ah, how it flames forth at times and then how dull it becomes! But your safety comes from a love which never varies,which many waters cannot quench and which the floods cannot drown. Look beneath you and you may see a depth of love, fathomlessand eternal, which may well remind you of what Moses said when he spoke of "the deep which lies under." The strength of lovewhich abides in God, who is Love itself, no mind can conceive! All this is placed under you, O Believer, for your succor,support and security. Immovable arches of immortal Love sustain your soul from fear of ruin. Rest there and sing unto theLord your song upon your stringed instrument as long as you have any being.
But next, these arms may be described as the arms of power. And what says Isaiah the Prophet? "Trust you in the Lord forever,for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength." What said Jeremiah? "Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the Heavenand the earth by Your great power and stretched out arm and there is nothing too hard for You." Strength is needed to upholdthe people of God lest they fall to their confusion and that strength is always ready, no, it is always in exercise! Believer,you have been able to stand because the arm of Divine strength has never been withdrawn. He is able to keep you from fallingand to present you faultless and He will do it. "O bless our God, you people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard:which holds our soul in life, and suffers not our feet to be moved." These are the arms of Immutability, for God abides foreverthe same. "I am God; I change not: therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed."
He saved His people "with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for His mercy endures forever." They are the arms of everlastingblessing, for God has determined to make His people happy and happy they shall be. "Surely," He says, "in blessing I willbless you." "Your blessing is upon Your people." He gives liberally unto them and that liberality is never diminished, norcan it be stopped. Underneath you, Believer, are the everlasting arms, forever carrying you as a nurse carries her child,forever gathering up for you innumerable blessings and carrying them for your provision. He shall gather the lambs with Hisarms and with those same arms will He show strength unto His people. How blest are they who have such arms beneath them!
I heard of a man who was spending a great deal of money, living in grand style and launching out in business. Certain of hisfellow tradesmen told me that they could not see a reason for his cutting such a figure. But said one, "There is somebodyat his back, we are quite sure of that." And so it is with us-we may well be strong, we may well be happy-for there is anunseen power which is at our back-the everlasting arms are underneath us-and we cannot fail! Let us be joyous, confident andpraise the right hand of the Lord! Yes, though our conflicts should multiply, let us not fear, but let us sing unto the Lord,"Your right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power. The right hand of the Lord is exalted. The right hand of the Lord doesvaliantly." For this right hand upholds the cause of His servants.
III. Now, in the third place, let us consider WHEN the everlasting arms are underneath us. The only answer is now and forevermore. Now, at this moment, Beloved, the everlasting arms are underneath us! The life of a Christian is described as walkingby faith and to my mind, walking by faith is the most extraordinary miracle ever beheld beneath the sun! Walking on the waves,as Peter did, is a type of the life of every Christian. I have sometimes likened it to ascending an invisible staircase farup into the clouds. You cannot see an inch in front of you, but you wind up towards the Light. When you look down, all isdark, and before you lies nothing visible but clouds. Beneath you yawns a fathomless abyss.
Yet we have climbed, some of us, for years up this perpetually ascending stairway, never seeing an inch before us. We haveoften paused almost in horror and asked in wonder, "What next? What next?" Yet what we thought was cloud has proved to besolid rock! Darkness has been light before us and slippery places have been safe. Every now and then, when the darkness hasbeen denser than usual-a darkness which might be felt, when all the past behind us has vanished and nothing has been seenbut the one step we stood on-we have said, "How did I get here? What a strange, mysterious life mine has been!" We have almostwished ourselves down on the level among the worldlings who can always see their way and know what is underneath them. Butfaith has come to our help, again-we have believed-and believing we have seen the invisible and grasped the eternal! And thenwe have gone on, have put our foot down again and soon have run up, with joy, the shining way!
What an ascent we have sometimes made upon that ladder of light so that we have companied with angels and left the world fardown beneath our feet! Now and then we have enjoyed a glimpse through the thick darkness of the jeweled walls of the EternalCity which needs no candle, neither light of the sun. We have seen, I say, its brightness and determined, still, to climbthe mysterious way. Well, Believer, at this moment, though you cannot see your way, yet since
you are walking by faith, "underneath are the everlasting arms." It is so, though at this moment you fear that you are goingdown into a gloomy glen. You have lost a great deal of money lately and the friend who so kindly helped you is taken away,so that you are going down in the world-yes, but underneath are the everlasting arms.
You are getting nearer to those arms now. Friends and wealth came between you and the almighty arms-but now you must leanonly on them. The creature fails and you must rest on the Creator! You will have sweeter fellowship, now, than you ever had,since there is nothing to come between you and your Lord. "Ah," says one, "but I am sinking in spirit. I am greatly depressed."Still underneath are the everlasting arms. Your soul is sinking, like Peter in the waves, but a hand is outstretched to saveyou-you cannot sink while your heavenly Father's hands are near. Go on sinking, if the Lord so wills it. Sometimes the greatestsweetness in life is found and intense bitterness. I never have in my soul a more solid and real joy than when I have beencast into the dust with fearful depression of spirit. I stay myself upon my God and Him, only, and then I touch the confinesof bliss, though trembling all the while. I hardly know how to express the unrivalled sweetness of resting upon only the Lord!
When you are flung altogether upon God, then does your soul enter into the most Divine peace! The natural spirits have gone,everything that sprang from the vigor of youth and the natural elasticity of the mind has departed-now you come right uponGod and lie naked in His hands. And then there is cast into your cup a foretaste of Heaven which the soul sits down and humblysips to herself, for the secret she can never tell-no ear would understand her if she did. "Underneath are the everlastingarms." And so, dear Friends, if you should sink both in circumstances and in spirits and your experience should happen tobe a very downcast one, it will still be well. If now you have to discover the corruption of your nature, which you knew littleof before. If now your experience, instead of being that of the Brethren of the higher life, should be one of humiliation,of prostration of spirit, of deep self-loathing-still, underneath you are the everlasting arms. If you are not to climb toPisgah with Moses, but must dive to the bottom of the mountains like Jonah, still underneath are the everlasting arms-evenat the lowest point of your going down! So it shall be forever and forever, for the arms are everlasting in their positionas well as their power.
Now you have come to die. You have gathered up your feet in the bed. The death sweat stands upon your brow. You are sinking,so far as this life is concerned, among the sons of men, but underneath you shall then be the everlasting arms! Beautifullyhas Bunyan described confidence in death, when he pictures the pilgrims passing the river. Christian cried out to young Hopeful,"I sink in deep waters! The billows go over my head! All His waves go over me." Then said Hopeful, "Be of good cheer, my Brother,I feel the bottom and it is good." Thus, Beloved, shall it be with you! You shall feel the bottom of death's chill river,but you shall say, "It is good," for underneath are the everlasting arms!
Then comes the last plunge and we shall be as when a man stands on the edge of a precipice and leaps over into the cloudsbelow him. You need not fear to take your last farewell and drop into your Father's arms, for underneath you shall be theeverlasting arms! And oh, how sweetly shall you be caught up together with the Lord in the air, pressed to the bosom of thegreat Father and borne upward into the Heaven of heavens where you shall behold the face of the Well-Beloved and find yourselvesentranced in His company forever and forever! O heir of Glory, underneath you there is no Hell! Underneath you there is noannihilation! Underneath you are the everlasting arms-therefore commit your spirit unto your faithful Creator and then welcomelife or death, for all is well with you!
IV. Lastly, let us reply to the query, WHAT THEN? If underneath us are the everlasting arms, what then? First, let us lookunderneath. My Brothers and Sisters, you have been going on with great discomfort, sighing and crying because your way isrough and because sometimes you think it dangerous and fear that you will slip into a chasm and perish. Now, instead of complainingafter this fashion, and fearing the road, stop a little and begin to examine-"What is underneath me? What is the bottom ofmy hope?"
You hypocrites dare not examine! You formalists dare not search! You are afraid to ask questions and to open your eyes lestyou should see too much. But those who are honest and sincere in the way of our Lord are not afraid to be tested. You whoare under any anxiety will do well to pull right up and say, "I have been troubled with doubts and fears and I will no longerendure it. I will know the end of this! I will search myself and know my ways and pray the Lord to let me see the worst ofmy case, for I long to know what there is underneath." If you are believing in Jesus Christ with a sincere heart and restingin the atoning Sacrifice and the Covenant of which His blood is the seal, you can afford to search underneath-for you willfind all things solid and eternal!
It is well to look underneath an outward Providence when it frowns darkly upon you, for it conceals the eternal purpose oflove. The sorrows which you see are but, as it were, a napkin hiding the precious treasure of eternal Grace and, therefore,you can say to yourself in all ill weathers, "All is well, for all is well underneath! The eternal purpose is working outmy lasting good." Do not be afraid to search underneath, my trembling Brothers and Sisters. but when you do so and find theeverlasting arms to be there, then sing unto the Lord with all your might!
The next inference is, if underneath us are the everlasting arms, let us lean heavily. We are afraid to lean too hard on God.To be careful not to encroach on a friend is a very proper disposition. Do not spoil a generous friend by drawing upon himso heavily that he will dread to see you again. I wish some people had a little more of that disposition, as far as I am concerned,but this is not a right feeling when you have to deal with the Lord! Never fear that you will weary your God! Never say toyourself, "I will ask as little as I can." Why, He says, "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it!" Never say, "I will trustHim a little. I will take Him a part of my cares and rest a portion of my trials upon Him." No, lean with your whole weight!
Do not keep a spare ounce for your own carrying-that will break your back! Bring all the tons and the pounds and the ouncesand the pennyweights and cast them all on God! He loves His children to treat Him with entire confidence. All your weightwill not trouble Him. You know Aesop's fable of the polite little gnat which apologized to the ox for burdening him when helighted on his horn, and the ox replied that he really did not know he was there. Your God will not tell you that, for Hecounts the very hairs of your head, but He will tell you that your load is no burden to Him. Why, if you had 50 kingdoms burdeningyour brain and if you carried the politics of a hundred nations in your mind, or were loaded with all the cares of a thousandworlds, you might safely leave them with the Wonderful Counselor and go your way rejoicing! Lean hard, Brothers and Sisters!For underneath you are the everlasting arms!
The next thing is, then, let us rise confidently. Do not be afraid of ascending to heights of love. Do not be afraid of havinga high ambition for a wholly consecrated life. Be not afraid of high doctrines, or high enjoyments, or high attainments inholiness. Go as high as you like, for underneath you are the everlasting arms! It would be dangerous to speculate, but itis safe to believe. Some men are always going downward, turning diamonds into gas and hallelujahs into howls! They are tryingto get rid of precious Truths of God and to substitute some new theories for them. Let us be brave in the other directionand seek to comprehend with all saints what are the heights and depths, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.You may climb, my dear young Brothers and Sisters, nor fear to fall even if you reach the masthead of Truth, for underneathare the everlasting arms!
Once more, let us dare unhesitatingly and be very courageous for the Lord our God-
"Through floods or flames, if Jesus leads, I'll follow where He goes"
for underneath are the everlasting arms! Are you called upon to lose everything for Christ? Go on and leap like Curtius intothe gulf for your Lord Jesus, for underneath you are the everlasting arms! Does your Master call you to an enterprise whichseems impossible? Nevertheless, if God has called you to it, attempt it, for He renders to every man according to his work.Remember what the Negro said-"If Massa Jesus say to me, 'Sam, you jump through that brick wall,' I jump. It is Sam's businessto jump-it is Massa's work to make me go through the wall." So it is with you. It is yours to leap forward when the Captaingives the watchword-and in confidence to attempt what mere nature cannot achieve-for the supernatural is with us!
The best of all is, God is with us! Underneath us are the everlasting arms! Less reliance upon self and more reliance uponGod! Less counting of the barley loaves and fishes-and a greater readiness to bring them to His hands who can multiply themtill they shall feed the thousands-this is what we need! God grant us Grace to trust in His almighty power and sing from nowon and forever, "underneath are the everlasting arms!"