Sermon 1427. A Wilderness Cry
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 4, 1878,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"O God, You are my God; early will I seek You: my soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land,where there is no water; to see Your power and Your Glory, so as I have seen You in the sanctuary." Psalm 63:1,2.
CHRYSOSTOM tells us that among the primitive Christians it was decreed and ordained that no day should pass without the publicsinging of this Psalm and, certainly, if we do not follow the ancient custom and actually sing the words every day, it isnot because they are unsuitable or because their spirit has died out among us. This Psalm may be said or sung all the yearround. Have we joyous days? Let us sing of the loving kindness which is better than love! Do the clouds return after the rain?Let us sound forth His praise whose right hand upholds us! Is it summertime with our souls? Then we may express the full assuranceof our faith by joyfully crying, "O God, You are my God; early will I seek You!" Have we fallen upon the drought of autumn?Do the long hot days parch our spirits? Then may we chant the desire of our longing heart, "My soul thirsts for You, my fleshlongs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is."
Is it winter with our spirit and does everything tend to chill us? Nevertheless let us not be silenced or rendered sluggishby the cold, but let us say, "I will bless You while I live, I will lift up my hands in Your name." Has the spring returnedwith all its wealth of fresh flowers and opening sweets? Then shall our glad voices sing aloud, "My soul shall be satisfiedas with marrow and fatness and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips." Is the day ended and has the darkness of nightsettled down upon our mind? Then in the language of the Psalm we will remember God upon our bed and meditate upon Him in thenight watches! And because He has been our help, therefore, in the shadow of His wings we will rejoice!
We may sing this Psalm in the days of battle, when those round about us seek our soul to destroy it, for, "they shall fallby the sword, they shall be a portion for foxes." And we may chant it with equal appropriateness in the time of victory, whenwe return from the conflict with banners gleaming in the sunlight of triumph, for, "the king shall rejoice in God: everyonethat swears by Him shall glory." I know of no time and no season in which this Psalm would sound unsuitably from a believingtongue! Let us cultivate its earnestness! Let us endeavor to be baptized into its spirit! Let us live, while we live, afterthe fashion of holy men like David, the Psalmist, whose assurance of heart even sorrow could not shake-whose fertility ofmind the desert could not wither-whose joy of spirit solitude could not destroy!
This Psalm, however, especially belongs to any who, by their circumstances or by their state of heart, feel themselves todwell in a desert land. There is a stage of Christian experience in which we are in Egypt and we are brought up out of itwith a high hand and an outstretched arm. This symbolizes conviction, regeneration and conversion. Then we know the Passoverand the sprinkling of the blood-our enemies drowned in the sea and the new song put into our mouth. Happy are they who havecome thus far on their life journey!
Then comes the stage of spiritual history which may be well described as wilderness experience wherein we have little rest,much temptation and consequent proving of heart and discovery of inward weakness. Many remain in this condition far longerthan is necessary-what might be soon ended is drawn out into 40 years by unbelief! Then comes that blessed stage of experiencein which faith begets peace and joy-then we have crossed the Jordan and entered into rest in Christ Jesus, "in whom, also,we have obtained an inheritance." In the Man who is our peace we obtain an earnest of Heaven and begin to divide the landof promise, "for He has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places."
Each man claims his lot in Covenant provisions and sits under his own vine and fig tree, nothing scaring him. Yet even afterwe have been raised up together with Jesus and have obtained citizenship in Zion, we may find ourselves in the wilderness.As David, though king in Israel, had to flee across the Jordan to escape from Absalom, so may the most
assured and the most sanctified of God's people be driven, for a while, into the dry and thirsty land where there is no water-andthere hide himself from the offspring of his own flesh. There are songs for the Lord's banished ones to sing in a strangeland, Psalms with which to arouse the silent land, sonnets to charm the howling wilderness into a fruitful garden and hymnsto make the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose!
I purpose to address myself, this morning, to any of my Brothers and Sisters who feel themselves to be just now in a dry andthirsty land where there is no water. It may be the Lord will give them deliverance by His Word this morning- or if not deliveredout of temporal trouble, they shall at least be made glad by His Holy Spirit and be led to magnify His name while yet in theland of drought!
I. Our first head, this morning, shall be this-TRUE SAINTS ARE SOMETIMES IN A DRY AND THIRSTY LAND WHERE THERE IS NO WATER.Children of God are not always in the same happy state of mind. To hear some people talk, who know but little of religiousexperience, you would fancy that the Christian's life is all feasting and dancing. Children think that all there is in huntingis wearing a red coat and blowing a horn-they know nothing of the rough riding. We do, it is true, linger delightfully inthe sweet Valley of Humiliation where men have found pearls and met with angels. We know that spot of which the Pilgrim'sguide has said, "Behold, how green this valley is, also how beautiful with lilies."
But we can never forget that in this quiet meadow Christian met Apollyon and was hard put to it in the fight and, but a littlefarther in his journey, he came to the Valley of the Shadow of Death where there are deep ditches and quagmires-and a narrowpathway which runs hard by the mouth of Hell! Sweet rest is to be had in the Palace Beautiful, but there is also a Hill Difficultyto be climbed. Let not the young be deceived by fluttering words, for they may be sure of this-there are bitters as well assweets in the pilgrim life-and he who would be a Christian must not count upon unbroken joy. All things are changeable. Welive in a world which hourly varies. What do our thermometers and barometers mean? Are they not measures of perpetual change?
The things which live change even more than inanimate objects and the more of life usually the more of sensitiveness-and themore of sensitiveness so much the more of change! Your man of marble may appear to sweat through the condensation of the vaporaround him, but he cannot possibly know anything of that dew of toil which covers the laboring limb. The cast in plaster isignorant of the joy and the sorrow which flash through the man of flesh and blood! Your painted picture, hanging on the wall,represents a smiling ancestor who smiles on although his estates may have been alienated and his family disgraced! But notso the living parent who anxiously regards each turn in the affairs of his children! For him there are tears as well as smiles.
A man of stone changes not, but a man of flesh feels the movement of the years-the plow of time gradually furrows his foreheadand the crow's feet of age appear in the corners of his eyes. Living men must mourn and suffer as well as laugh and rejoice,for minds and hearts must change. Wonder not, therefore, that the glad-hearted sons of Zion are not always in the temple,but sometimes are driven into exile and sigh in a desert land! But beyond the fact of liability to change there are otherreasons why God's people, at times, are wanderers in the wilderness. In some senses, to a Christian, this world must alwaysbe a dry and thirsty land.
The new life which Divine Grace has implanted in us finds nothing here below upon which it can feed. The things which areseen are too gross, material, carnal and defiled to sustain life which comes by the Holy Spirit from the great Father. Weare not carrion crows, else we might float upon the carcasses which abound in the waters around our ark! We are doves andwhen we leave the hand of our Noah, we find nothing to rest upon and we must go back to Him if we are to find food and restfor our souls. I am not speaking, now, of the world under its sorrowful aspect, only, but of the world at its best! It isa dry land for saints even when its rains are falling.
When the world dresses itself in scarlet and puts on its silks and satins, it is still a poor world for us. She may painther face and tier her head, but she is a Jezebel for all that! The world, should she come to us as she came to Solomon, wouldstill be a deceiver! If she would indulge us with all her riches and give us all her power and all her fame, she would stillbe a mere mocker to the heart which is born from above! If you could stand on a high mountain and see all the kingdoms ofthe world before you-and the glory thereof and hear a voice saying, "All this will I give you"-yet might you turn round toSatan and say, "And all this is nothing to me, a sop for a dog, but not food for a child of God!"
And then you might lift your eyes to the great Father above and say, "Whom have I in Heaven but You? There is none upon earththat I desire beside You!" You shall take prosperity at its flood. You shall have health and strength. You shall have allthat heart can wish. But, after all, if there is a spark of Divine Life within you, your heart will compute the sum totalof all earth's joys and say, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" To a citizen of Heaven, this world is "a dry and thirstyland, where there is no water."
If it is so at its best, what is it at its worst? If its pillows of down cannot rest us, what shall we say of its thorns andbriars? If its flood tide cannot bear us up, what shall we say of its neap tide and its ebb, when mire and dirt succeed aglassy sea? Ah, truly, best or worst, it is well for us to look above the world and to fix our heart where our treasure ispreserved, even in Heaven! But, dear Brethren, we could bear up with this present state and be well satisfied with it if thatwere our only difficulty-far more grievous is the fact that we carry an evil within us which would cause drought in Paradise,itself, if it could go there!
The Christian gets into a land of drought because his own nature is dry! He finds a barren soil without because he has a barrenheart within. Verily there is no doctrine more true to experience than this-corruption remains even in the hearts of the regenerate-andthat when we would do good, evil is present with us! Within us there is still a carnal mind which is not reconciled to God,neither, indeed, can be! And, as long as we have this about us, if it is permitted, for a moment, to get the upper hand (andwho among us is so watchful that this will never happen?) it is no wonder that the joys of Divine Grace seem to disappearand we find ourselves in a spiritual wilderness! We carry about with us enough evil to make another Hell, if the infernalpit were filled and its fires extinguished!
"Oh, wretched man that I am," said the Apostle Paul, "who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" He said this notbecause He was not a saint, but because he was so far advanced in the way of holiness! The more saintly a saint becomes, themore will he loathe and mourn over the remains of indwelling sin which he finds in his nature! This will set him longing andthirsting after more Grace. When our old unbelief begins to wither our faith; when our natural indifference commences to dryup our life; when our doubts parch the pastures of our hope and our sins drain the wells of our consolation, it is littlewonder if we come into a dry and thirsty land where there is no water!
We may, dear Friends, have been so unwatchful as to have brought ourselves into this condition by actual faults of life andconduct. I would make it a matter of personal enquiry among you by asking thoughtful answers to a few questions. Have yourestrained prayer? Do you wonder that the land grows dry? Has the Word of God been neglected? Have you left off its studythrough pressure of other concerns? Do you wonder if you have left the streams for which your soul thirsts? Have you beenoverly engaged in seeking temporal gain and has the hot desert wind of worldliness parched your heart? Has there been anythingabout your spiritual life that has grieved the Holy Spirit?
Have you been idle as a Christian? Have you been content to eat the fat and drink the sweet, but to do nothing to win souls?Or have you, while you have fed upon the Word of God, taken the sweet things of the Gospel as a matter of course and not blessedthe Lord for them? Has there been a lack of humility or a deficiency of gratitude? If so, how can you wonder that you arein a dry and thirsty land? Have you been careless in your walk? In domestic life has sin been permitted in the family? Haveyou been winking at evil in your children? Have you permitted it in yourself? If so, remember, it is written, "He turns riversinto a wilderness and water springs into dry ground, a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwelltherein."
You may have fallen into a parched condition of spirit because you have forgotten Him of whom in happier days you sang, "Allmy fresh springs are in You." Because you have walked contrary to God, God is walking contrary to you- and it is your dutyto repent and return at once to your Lord-only by doing so will peace return to you! If these various things do not accountfor the Believer being in a dry and thirsty land, there are still some other reasons which I will briefly mention. SometimesChristians become very hungry and thirsty when they are banished from the means of Grace. Poor as our ministry may be, yetthere are many of God's children who would miss it more than their daily food if it were taken from them!
God's servants whom He calls to the work of the ministry are bound to think little of themselves and yet the loaves and fisheswhich they distribute to the multitude are by no means to be lightly esteemed-the people would faint by the way if they didnot have them. It is a severe trial to some saints to be kept away from sanctuary privileges. I know that when you travelfor pleasure or roam by the seaside for health-if you go to a place of worship on the Sabbath and find
no spiritual bread, you fall into a miserable state of mind and sigh to spend your Sabbaths where the children's portion isdealt out liberally and all the servants have bread enough to spare! David loved the very doors of the Lord's House! He thirstedand pined because he was shut out from sanctuary privileges-and it was especially for that reason that he speaks of himselfas being in a "dry and thirsty land, where there is no water."
The same may happen when we are denied the sweets of Christian communion. David had poor company when he was in the wildernessin the days of Saul. His friends were not much better than freeloaders and runaways whom he would never have selected as friendshad not the necessities of his own condition and of the political situation rendered it necessary that he should become acaptain over them. They were a strange band of men! They were made up chiefly of those who were in debt and discontented-therebellious against Saul's wretched administration-men of broken fortunes and suspected loyalty.
Few of them were fit friends for the man after God's own heart. I do not wonder that he looked, even, at the sons of Zeruiahwho loved him best and were his own kinsmen-and felt that as for holy communion his soul was in a dry and thirsty land wherethere was no water! Believers are to keep out of worldly company and yet it sometimes happens that Providence throws the childof God among the ungodly, like Obadiah in the family of Ahab; Nehemiah in the palace of Artaxerxes and Daniel in the courtof Darius. Your lot is hard if you are called to dwell among worldlings, for they have power to injure your piety but theycannot help you. You look around upon a score of hard faces all eager after the almighty dollar and none of them caring forthe almighty God-and I do not wonder that you feel yourself to be in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water!
We owe much more to Christian friends than we think-and especially the younger folk among us do well to value Christian associationsand to be much in the company of them that fear the Lord and that think upon His name. If they are denied this refreshment,they will find life to be a dry land where there is no water. Yes, but the same may happen from other causes as well. Sometimesa believing man may be treated with gross injustice and endure much hardship as the result. David was blameless and yet Saulhunted him as a traitor! He was upright, yet his people revolted from him. It tends to make a good man sour in spirit to bemisrepresented and treated as guilty when he knows that he is innocent- and this bitterness is very apt to put away from usmany sources of comfort and leave us uncomfortable. Then many a spring becomes dry and the heart shrivels as under a burningsun.
Sometimes, too, domestic conditions may be so changed that we cannot feel as we would wish. I do not know how you feel, butI think many must acknowledge that when they get away from their own room and from their regular habits, they are not alwaysable to commune with God as usual. One likes to read from the very same Bible and to kneel at the very same chair. When thetime comes for meeting with God, you are, perhaps, roaming up and down amid the choicest scenery and though you are reverentand adoring, yet you find it hard to reach the sweetness of fellowship with God which you have been accustomed to enjoy athome. Everything may be very lovely around you while you are tourists-everything may be attractive and delightful and yet,I should not wonder but what you will find it to be a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
I can well conceive that your hearts long for an hour of your accustomed quietude and familiarity with God. You would giveanything to be back in the little room, looking out upon the hills, or to have an hour in that secluded little garden whereyou have been accustomed to take your pocket Testament and sit down and hear the Voice of Jesus speaking to your soul andto speak to Him in return. Even hours and places have much to do with our heart's condition. I know not how it is, but suchstrange creatures are we that in one place we cannot worship as we would like to do in another and, therefore, the soul findsits condition to be that of a wanderer in a dry and thirsty land!
Then, too, much depends upon health and physical conditions. In some forms of sickness the soul is apt to be grievously depressedand cast out of its proper condition. Some of you may remember the venerable Watts Wilkinson, the Golden Lecturer. I was readinghis life the other day and he tells us that after many years of health he suffered a season of sickness. And he learned byexperience that sickness is not the best time, as he had formerly thought it was, for drawing near to God. The effects ofsickness are often very beneficial under the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, but they are seldom so at the time.
It is "afterwards" that these things work the fruits of righteousness-but at the time it is often with us as it was with Wilkinsonwho says that he never in his life felt so dull in prayer and so heavy in reading the Scriptures as during his
illness. I believe that often the condition of the body operates upon the condition of the mind and that our being in a dryand thirsty laud where there is no water may be occasioned by a feverishness or a feebleness of the flesh. Lack of faith maysometimes be little other than a need of natural cheerfulness and we may mistake infirmity for iniquity. We have our timesof natural sadness. We have, too, our times of depression when we cannot do otherwise than hang our heads.
Seasons of lethargy will also befall us from changes in our natural frame, or from weariness, or the rebound of over excitement.The trees are not always green-the sap sleeps in them in the winter-and we have winters, too. Life cannot always be at floodtide-the fullness of the blessing is not upon the most gracious at all times. We may always burn, but we cannot always flame!We may always grow, but we cannot always flower. And if we always bear fruit, yet the fruit is not always ripe, nor does theripeness always wear the same delicate bloom. Till we are perfected we shall not be always at our highest point, otherwiseearth would be turned to Heaven and time would have forgotten itself and merged its variableness in the immutability of eternity!
So you see there are many reasons why the best of saints are sometimes in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
II. The second head is a very short but very comforting one, that GOD IS STILL OUR GOD-"O God, You are my God." Yes, He isjust as much our God in the dry land as if we sat by Siloa's softly flowing brook which glides by the oracle of God. O God,You are my God when I see the fountain leaping from the rock in a cascade of cool refreshment and You are just as much myGod if every river bed is turned to a heap of stones and the burning sand on all sides mock my searching eyes! The Lord belongsto us by an eternal charter which will never lose its force, for the Scripture says, "This God is our God forever and ever."This is a very sweet and precious Truth of God and should be remembered always!
Of course, when a man falls into a dull dry state of soul, he may very well question his condition before God and he oughtnot to rest till the question is satisfactorily answered. But where there is living faith the fact is certain and all questionmay be dismissed. God is your God still, my dear Brothers and Sisters, whatever condition you are in, if you can now comeand grasp Him by faith and call Him yours with the voice of love. Can you join me in words like these? Lord, I have lost mycomforts; I have lost my assurances; I have lost my delights, but I still trust in You. I have no God but You, neither willI worship any other, nor repose my confidence elsewhere. Though You slay me, yet will I trust in You. The wounds of Jesusfor my sin are still my soul's one hope-the precious blood of Your dear Son is my sole confidence!
If such is your language, you have not lost your God! All the other things you speak of may have gone for a while, but aslong as you can still say, "O God, You are my God, early will I seek You," you are still among the living in Zion and yourtime to rejoice shall soon come! Just think a minute-it is not possible that God's love to His people should change with theircondition-such a theology would represent God as very variable in His love! Yes, it would do worse than that, for it wouldmake the Gospel into a Law and turn all evangelical Truth into legality!
Does God love me because I love Him? Does God love me because I am bright and happy? Does God love me because my faith isstrong and because I can leap like a hart in His ways? Why, then, He must have loved me because of something good in me-andthat is not according to the Gospel! The Gospel represents the Lord as loving the unworthy and justifying the ungodly and,therefore, I must cast out of my mind the idea that Divine Love depends on human conditions! Can it be true that God onlyloves His children when they are in good spiritual health? Is it so with me? Do I love my child when he is strong and hatehim when he is sick? When I see the spots of disease upon him do I put him away and say that he is no son of mine?
If his poor eyes should fail him and he should become blind, should I cast him off? If his feet should fail him and he becamea helpless cripple, should I disown him? If he lost his hearing and could not listen to my voice, would I discard him? Fathers,mothers, I speak to you! Come what may to your offspring, are they not still yours? And would you not still love them? Cana woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? The Lord has said, "They mayforget, yet will He not forget His people." Be cheered, then, for into whatever state of unhappiness we may have wandered,the love of God does not depend upon our condition! It knows no ups nor downs, nor winters nor summers, nor ebbs nor flows,but abides forever sure!
Even though the Lord should hide His face from us, He is still our God, for the Lord has taught us to cry, "My God, my God,"even when we have to add, "why have You forsaken me?" When the Lord first loved us we were in a worse
state than we are in now, for though we feel dry and sapless we are not utterly dead as we were then. Remember "His greatlove with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins." We were enemies and yet He reconciled us! Andwe are not enemies now, though we fear we are poor, cold-hearted friends. We are sadly sick, perhaps, but we are not actuallyunder condemnation as we were when first of all His Sovereign Grace came forth to do the deed of redemption and deliver usfrom the wrath to come. And if the Lord loved us then, why should He not love us now? We have not fallen into any state whichtakes the Lord by surprise, for He knew well enough what we should be.
However we may blame ourselves and I hope we do blame ourselves severely for every evil within our hearts, yet He foreknewwhat we should be and is by no means disappointed in us. There has nothing happened which our God did not foreknow and ifHe chose us knowing all this, can it be possible that when it comes to pass He should turn from His purpose and change Hismind? No, never! Brethren, we have had great experiences, some of us, of God's love in the past and this makes us feel thatHe can help us and will help us in the present! In the sanctuary we have seen His power and His Glory. Oh the delight, theheavenly joys which we have known at times in His service!
At Prayer Meetings I know we have had our hearts warmed within us and felt that we could scarcely be happier in Heaven! Sometimes,under a sermon, we have been fired as with new life and we have felt that we could begin again with double strength! If thishas happened to us in former times, when we were heavy and depressed, why can it not happen again? Does not the Lord delightto revive the spirits of the faint and weary? Angels' visits may be few and far between, but not the visitations of the Spiritof God, for He dwells with us and in us forever! Before we are aware, He can make us like the chariots of Amminadib, for Hehas done it and what He has done He is certainly able to do again! Why not comfort yourselves with these thoughts?
Besides, if we are in the wilderness, is not God the God of the wilderness? Were not His greatest marvels worked when He ledHis people about through the howling wilderness and fed them with manna and revealed Himself in a fiery, cloudy pillar? Wheredid Hagar look to Him who saw her but in the wilderness? Where did Moses see the Lord in the bush but at the backside of thedesert? Where did Elijah hear a voice speaking to Him but away there in the wilderness? And where did David, the Psalmist,meet with his God but in the lone, solitary land where there is no water? O my Soul, if you are in the desert now, expectyour God to meet with you! Open your eyes and expect to see Him display His Grace now that you are as the dry ground! He willpour floods upon you now that you are empty! He will fill you with His Divine fullness! Your poverty prepares you to apprehendHis riches! Your inward death prepares you to receive His everlasting life! Therefore, have hope and rise from your depressionand fear!
III. Thus much upon the second subject, by which we are led briefly to the third, namely, WHEN WE ARE IN A
DRY AND THIRSTY LAND OUR WISEST COURSE IS TO CRY TO HIM AT ONCE. Now, Brothers and Sisters, I
want to speak very practically to you, as I do to myself, for many of us are deeply and personally concerned in this matter.Very likely the warmth of the atmosphere on this warm summer morning may make you feel all the duller in devotion. You maynot be enjoying the things of God because the air is heavy and makes you sleepy. Let us, then, bestir ourselves and breakasunder the bonds of sleep!
We can only do this by crying at once to God Himself. Let us go straight away to Jesus, our Friend and Physician, and letus cry, "O God, You are my God, early will I seek You. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You." Observe that Daviddoes not first pray for deliverance from the dry and thirsty land and then say, "There, I will now go and seek God!" But no,in the desert, itself, he cries, "My soul thirsts for You." Learn from this and do not say, "I will get into communion withGod when I feel better," but long for communion now! It is one of the temptations of the devil to tell you not to pray whenyou do not feel like praying. Pray twice as much, then! When you feel least like praying, then pray the more, for you needit the more!
And when you feel very little like coming near to God, then cry, "My God, I must be in a terrible state, or else I shouldhave a greater longing after You. Therefore will I not rest till I find You and come to You." Do not, any of you, practicethe sinner's folly-he declares that he will tarry till he is better-and then he never comes at all. No, children of God mustnot say, "We will seek the Lord when we are better," but you must seek Him at once! Practice the Gospel principle of, "Justas I am," and come to Jesus just as you are! Lethargic, half asleep, almost dead in spirit, yet nevertheless come to Jesus!Make a plunge for it. Say, "I must have a sense of His love and I must have it now! I must not
lose this blessed Sabbath morning! I must enter into fellowship with God." Make a dash for it and you shall have it! Do notwait till you are delivered, but in the dry and thirsty land sigh after God!
Neither, dear Friends, pray so much for ordinances as for the Lord, Himself. David does not say, "O God, You are my God, Iwill seek the sanctuary. My soul thirsts for a Prayer Meeting, my flesh longs for a sermon." No, he sighs for God! He thirstsonly for God! I believe that our Lord sometimes strikes all ordinances dry to make us feel that they are nothing without Himself.The means of Grace are blessed breasts at which the soul may suck when God is in them, but they are emptiness, itself, whenHe is not there. The preacher who has best fed you will only disappoint you if his Lord is not with him, or if you are notprepared to look beyond the man to the Master! The Lord loves to famish His people of all earthly bread and water-to bringthem to wait upon only Himself.
I charge you, Beloved, this morning, that whatever your state may be, make a direct appeal to the Lord that He would immediatelygive you Himself by Christ Jesus! Nothing less than this can meet your needs and this will meet your case, though all outwardordinances should be denied. What if no point of the sermon should impress or quicken you? Yet the silent power of the Spiritof God can glide into your heart and become life to your soul! Seek it, then, and seek it believing that it may be had andhad at once! The child of God may rise at once from slumber into earnestness and may leap from lethargy into zeal!
It is wonderful how speedily the Spirit of God works! He needs not hours and days and weeks in which to make us young again!He works with amazing mastery over the lapse of time and perfects in an instant His good work. It was all darkness, primevaldarkness, thick and black as ebony itself and Jehovah said, "Light be!" Then flashed the day and all was brightness! So mayit be black as Hell with you at this moment and an infernal night may brood over every faculty of your being-yet if the enlighteningSpirit comes forth-day shall dawn, a day that shall surprise you, a day above the brightness of that which comes of the sun!Do not be afraid, dear children of God, you that have fallen into a mournful state! Do not be afraid to cry out to God, thismorning, in the language of the Psalmist!
I know we sometimes feel as if we must not and dare not pray. We have become so dull, so lifeless, so unworthy that we donot expect to be heard and feel as if it would be presumption to cry. But our heavenly Father loves to hear His children cryall day long! Rutherford says, "The child in Christ's house that is most troublesome is the most welcome! He that makes themost noise for his meat is the best child that Christ has." You may not quite agree with that as to your own children, butit is certainly so with our Lord! Rutherford says, "It is a good child that is always whining each hour of the day for a pieceand a drink." He speaks of a hungry soul hanging around Christ's pantry door and commends him for so doing. Assuredly theLord wishes His children to have strong desires after Himself! Desire, then, and let those desires be vehement!
If you can cry out to Jesus, He will joyfully hear you! If you will give Him no rest, He will give you all the rest you need!The Lord finds music in His children's cries. "Oh," you say, "I would cry, but mine is such a discordant and foolish cry."You are the very man to cry, for your sorrow will put an emphasis into your voice! Of all the cries your children utter, theone that comes closest home to you arises out of their pain and deep distress! A dying moan from a little one will piercea mother's heart! Look, she presses the baby to her bosom! She cries, "My dear dying child," and weeps over it! You, too,shall be pressed to the bosom of Everlasting Love if you can only groan, or sob, or sigh! Only be careful that you are nothappy in a dry and thirsty land! Be careful that you are not content away from God-for if you will not rest till you get atHim, you shall soon have Him! If you will groan after Him you shall find Him! A sigh will fetch Him!
May there be much longing, panting and pleading among us at this hour! Do not let anyone here be satisfied to remain in adull state. Do not say, "Well, but he says a child of God may experience dullness." Yes, I know I did, but I did not bid youfall into it! Above all, I did not tell you to live in it! One of your children may fall and cut his knees, but I should notrecommend all his brothers to try a tumble, nor should I exhort him to lie on the ground. The dry and thirsty land is reallya dry and thirsty land to the Believer, but if you can be satisfied to dwell there, it is not a dry and thirsty land to you!
Now, child of God, if you have fallen into a dull state, I beseech you to labor to rise out of it. And I do this, first, becauseyou are not a fit person to be in such a state. Yours is the land that flows with milk and honey! You are like David, drivenout of Canaan for a time, but you must never be satisfied till you get back to Jerusalem! Oh, cry unto the Lord to bring youback that you may see the King's face and sit at the King's table and delight yourself with the marrow
and the fatness which you ought to feed upon every day! You are a king and a priest unto God-will you go about in sordid beggar'srags and forget your dignity and sit on a dunghill with the paupers of this miserable world? No! Come away! Come away-thedry and thirsty land is not for you-yours is the land of plenty and of joy!
Think of your obligations to your Savior. You have been bought with His precious blood! Your sins are forgiven you! You area joint-heir with Him! Are you going to be cold and careless towards the Well-Beloved of your soul? I was about to say three-fourthsof all the Christian people in this world live in such a way as rather to disgrace the Redeemer than to honor Him. I havenot said that, but if I had chanced to make the statement I would not retract it, for I am afraid it is true. I am afraidthat many of us are no credit to Christ. If worldlings look at us, they say, "Is that a Christian?" If my Lord were to sendsome of His sheep to a show, they would be far enough from winning a prize. If the prize were for joyous piety some wouldutterly fail! If the prize were for consistent courage and strength of heart, how few of us would be "highly commended."
Many of His sheep are no credit to their Feeder and reflect no honor upon their Shepherd. Out of your dumps, my Brothers andSisters! Why should you be sitting in darkness any longer with such Grace to be had and such a Savior to give it? Just think-youare losing a world of joy! You are sitting like an owl in a haunted ruin, blinking your eyes, when you might be flying likean eagle straight up to the Sun of Righteousness, in full communion with the great Lord! Why are you down there, down in thedens and caves of the earth, howling away among the dragons-when you might be up there among the cherubim and seraphim magnifyingthe Lord, for, "He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus"? I said you werechildren of God and, therefore, I am not condemning you, but I would brush you up if I could and bestir you to walk somewhatmore worthily of the obligations imposed upon you by the Grace of God!
Think, my dear Brothers and Sisters, if you and I all get into a dull, sleepy state-what is to become of this poor world?You have to go to your class this afternoon-are you going there half awake and half asleep? Are you going to dream among yourchildren all the afternoon? "Oh," you say, "we do not do that." Don't you? Why, many a preacher is not above half awake whenhe delivers his sermon-he rather snores it than preaches it! Few of us ever were awake all through. We are awake half way!Oh that we were thoroughly awake, thoroughly alive, thoroughly in earnest! No wonder sinners are given to slumber when saintssleep as they do! No wonder that the unconverted think Hell a fiction when we live as if it were so! No wonder that they imagineHeaven to be a romance when we act as if it were so little a reality!
Oh Lord, awaken us, even if it be by thunder claps! Oh God, for Jesus Christ's sake, bring us out of the dry and thirsty land!Have You not said that if we drink of the river of the Water of Life, out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water sothat we shall neither complain of thirst, ourselves, nor shall there remain a desert around us? Help us, then, to drink abundantly!
I have thus spoken to as many as believe in Jesus Christ, but to you that are unbelievers, much of this may equally well apply,for you, too, are in a land still more dry and thirsty. Do not go about to sacraments and sermons, much less to priests, butgo straight to God in Christ Jesus! Cry to HIM! O Sinner, cry to Him, "O God, though You are not my God, yet still early willI seek You! My heart longs for You! Come to me and save me!" Jesus will come to you and save you, even you, to the praiseof the glory of His Grace. Amen.