Sermon 1641. Great Spoil
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JANUARY 22, 1882,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"I rejoice at Your Word, as one that finds great spoil." Psalm 119:162.
IN the preceding verse David had avowed his reverence for God's Word in the following language-"My heart stands in awe ofYour Word." It is clear that holy awe is perfectly consistent with intense delight. Fear seems to stand far apart from joyand yet, in the experience of the child of God, they are next of kin. We are familiar with combinations such as this-"Theyreturned from the sepulcher with fear and great joy." "Happy is the man that fears always." "Serve the Lord with fear andrejoice with trembling." These two emotions are like two notes which, apart, are widely different, but sound harmoniouslytogether-the one is far down and the other is high up in the scale-but they melt into one with sweet accord in the experienceof God's people. It is a blessed thing both to reverence the Word of God and to have an intense joy in it. May we all knowwhat the mixed emotion means.
More than this, I will go the length of saying that unless we do have deep awe of the Word, we shall never have high joy overit. Our rejoicing will be measured by our reverence. If I think upon the Bible, as some seem to do, as though it were an ordinarypiece of literature, I shall have no very special joy in it. Or if I rise no higher than many critics of the present day andconceive the Holy Book to be, in a certain sense, Inspired, but still to be marred with imperfection and open to rectificationby the growing intelligence of the age-if I have such small reverence for the Word of God, I shall have a correspondentlylittle joy in it.
A man rejoices in gold rather than in clay because the gold is more precious and, as the treasure rises in value, so his delightin it will rise. The more, then, we think of the Scriptures, the greater will be our delight in them if we see that they relateto us. "Your Word is very pure: therefore Your servant loves it." If they become to us the Infallible voice of Truth, thatpure light which never misleads, that metal which is entirely free from alloy-then will our joy in Holy Writ overflow as weread in it the mind and will of our Father in Heaven! And then shall we borrow the language of the Psalmist, saying first,"My heart stands in awe of Your Word," and next, "I rejoice at Your Word, as one that finds great spoil."
Observe, dear Friends, concerning this joy of David in the Word of God which he reverenced, that he expresses it with a martialfigure. My text is quite a soldierly verse-"I rejoice at Your Word, as one that finds great spoil." It is a figure taken frommen of war who, after they have overcome their enemy, divide the plunder among them. This expression is most natural as comingfrom David. David had been a soldier from his youth up and he knew personally and literally what it was to divide the spoiland, therefore, he did not go far to find his metaphor, but plucked it from the garden of his own life! How I like to hearmen both in prayer and praise speak like themselves!
I notice that if a sailor has been converted to God, he can, in cool blood, utter proper sentences, such as one might borrowfrom collects and forms of prayer. But if his soul grows warm within him, he ceases to speak according to the books and beginsto pray like an "ancient mariner." When he breaks through the bonds of restraint and gets quite free, he takes you among therolling billows and many of his expressions have a salt spray upon them, possibly also a suspicion of yarn and pitch! Yousoon find that you have fallen in with a shipmate whose soul has done business on the great waters.
So must it be with the soldier. If cold, dead propriety rules him, you will not know whether he is a soldier or a citizen.But let him grow enthusiastic! Let his very heart speak out and his speech betrays him! Wars and rumors of wars are in hisutterances. He sings and prays to martial music! Therefore I like to hear David saying that his heart rejoices at God's Wordas one that finds great spoil, for it is his own manner of speech and sounds fitly from a warrior! Do not cut away the naturalnessof yours utterances in prayer-never grow so strictly proper as to pray like somebody else. You
may take a bird and teach it to pipe half-a-dozen set notes and it will be thought to be a wonder-but no piping bullfinchin the world, to my ear, sings so sweetly as the finches in my own garden, whose wild songs are all their own.
The labored notes of the trained bird's little tune may be remarkable, but are they not also somewhat grotesque and unnatural?The notes of Nature more truly reveal the bird and are a fitter utterance for it than the ditty it has learned so painfully.It is a pity that men should speak with God in a constrained and artificial style-it far more befits them to pray in theirown natural manner! If you are farmers, or artisans, or laborers, be not ashamed that your speech should savor of yours calling.If you are soldiers, pray like soldiers! Let your true selves speak out when you speak with God, for He is Truth, itself,and needs not that you put on artificial manners in His Presence!
Having thus prefaced my discourse, I come to look into this joy of David over God's Word which he compares to the joy of awarrior when he finds great spoil. To such overflowing joy we are not strangers-we feel quite at home with the text.
I. Let me first observe that THIS GREAT JOY IS SOMETIMES AROUSED BY THE FACT THAT THERE IS A WORD OF GOD. This is true ifwe regard the Scriptures as a revealing of God. After going up and down in the world searching after Deity, it is a greatdelight to come upon a Book in which the one only living and true God has unveiled Himself to those who care to behold Him.It is a great "find" for a man to discover that, after all, he is not left in a fog to grope his way, but that God has kindleda sun that honest hearts may walk in the light of and in that light see all things clearly. I say that a Revelation of Godis a great discovery over which a man rejoices "as one that finds great spoil." For, dear Friends, there can be no revealingof God except by God Himself.
The Apostle Paul tells us very truly that the things of a man know no man but the spirit of a man that is in him. You cannotread a man until that man brings out somewhat from within and thus reveals himself. A man must speak, or act, or we cannotknow his mind. The chief means of a man's revealing himself is by his word-language is the gate of the soul. If the man istrue and honest, his word will be a window through which you may see his mind. Even so, says the Apostle, as the heart ofa man is only known to the man, himself, so the things of God knows no man but the Spirit of God. The Divine thought mustbe hidden in the heart of God forever until the Spirit of God is pleased to tell it to us.
There is, therefore, an absolute necessity for a Revelation, since none can, by searching, find God. This written Word isthe Revelation of God and when the Spirit of God shines upon it, we see the Lord as in a mirror. Oh, but what a blessing thatthe Spirit of God should still be with His people, bearing witness with the Word of God which He has of old Inspired! Whata comfort that we have this sure Word of Testimony in which God has spoken to us in terms so distinct, so clear, so unquestionable!He who feels the power of this Revelation in his own soul may well rejoice "as one that finds great spoil."
Nor does our valuation of Holy Scripture depend upon this one view of it, for we also prize it as the guide of our life. Oftenwe come to positions in which we know not which way to take. It is a great discomfort to have to be questioning, questioningand forever questioning! To hear within the soul the enquiries, "How?" "What?" "Which?" "When?" and to be confused by dubiousvoices is a great affliction-suspense is killing. How delightful to turn over the sacred page and find in them a guide likethat of the Urim and Thummim of old! This Book tells us the right and bids us follow it! It teaches us the way of wisdom andthe path of understanding and it supplies motives for walking in them. Submitting ourselves to the Spirit of God, we hearHim speak in this volume and say, "This is the way, walk you in it."
As a bewildered wanderer in a forest hails the light in a cottage window, hoping to find a guide there to set him on his homewardpath, so do we hail the light of Holy Writ which shines in a dark place. As the mariner prizes his chart and compass, so dowe welcome the Law of the Lord. Tossed on the changing sea of life, our eyes are gladdened by the clear ray of this pole-starof Heaven, the fixed Light of God! If we had been left to blind reason, we would soon have stumbled into the ditch-but withInspiration to conduct us, we have a plain path before us and we are glad. No longer in a perpetual quandary, guessing andsurmising, the way of life is definitely mapped out for us and we pursue our route with confidence, knowing that, "Blessedare the undefiled in the way, who walk in the Law of the Lord." This becomes our daily song, "You shall guide me with Yourcounsel, and afterward receive me to Glory." O happy man that finds such sure direction as this! He can rejoice "as one thatfinds great spoil."
More than this, if you think of it, dear Friends, a word from God apprehended in the soul is a sure pledge of mercy. Considerwhat words those Words of God are-how full of love, Grace and tenderness. I will not stay to quote the ex-
ceedingly great and precious promises, for they are, I hope, your daily food. You know what great things the Lord has spokenconcerning you. But here is a thought worth pondering-these promises are backed by the Word of God-no, they are, each one,the Word of God! When a man has given his word, if he is an upright, honorable man, there is an end to further questions-hehas pledged his word and that is enough. Now the Lord has given to His people His Word- His right honorable Word that cannotbe broken-which must stand fast forever and ever. Happy are those who are willing to take God at His Word and accept His promiseas the equivalent for the thing promised, for what the Lord has promised He will surely perform!
When a man grasps a promise of forgiveness, of acceptance in prayer, of sanctifying Grace, of daily Providence, of Divineanointing, of comfort in death, or of eternal Glory, he may well rejoice "as one that finds great spoil." Within the Wordof promise there lies the blessing, itself! The Word is to the apprehension of faith, the substance of the thing hoped for.That which is guaranteed by God-who cannot lie-is already ours! Well may he rejoice that finds it! Notice, still further,that Holy Scripture, when it comes to us with power as the Word of God, is the beginning of communion with God. It will strikeyou in a moment that when the Lord speaks to a man, communion has, in a measure, begun.
It may be that God speaks to a deaf ear, but even then it shows great goodness and condescension on God's part that He shouldspeak to men at all, and especially to those who refuse to hear Him! But oh, if you actually hear the voice of God in HisWord-if it sinks into your soul by the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit-what remains, then, but for you to answer theLord and to let Him speak again? This Bible talks-"When you awake, it shall talk with you." This is God's side of a heavenlyconversation which ought to be kept up throughout all the days of our pilgrimage. God says this and that in the Word and wein prayer, in faith, in holy action reply to Him-and then He speaks again and we answer Him again.
When you are alone and wish to have communion with God, you probably begin with prayer. Do so. But sometimes you feel thatyou cannot pray. Very well, do not try. Say, "I desire to converse with God but if I cannot speak I will listen to Him speak."Get down the Bible. Read a Psalm, or some precious portion of Holy Writ, and after God has thus spoken to you, the conversationhas begun! God's Words will suggest heart-words with which you can speak to the Most High. If it does not, read some more,till at last, within your spirit there is communion with the Eternal One. Oh, what a bliss it is that God does speak to anyof us-to me-a poor, worthless, sinful creature! How highly favored is man to have a word from the great King!
Many would give their eyes to be spoken to by a monarch, but here we are spoken to daily by the King of kings if we are butwilling to incline our ear to His sweet voice! And this is the commencement of a communion which may continue throughout lifeand consummate itself in everlasting Glory! Personally I can, sometimes, realize my text in a peculiar sense, when the Wordof God becomes to me the instrument of usefulness. How often do I look around me anxiously for the next theme of discourse!My mind enquires, What shall I preach to the people? What shall be my message? With what shall I feed my Church? This is atrying question after 28 years preaching to one congregation!
At last a passage comes home to my soul with power. I have found it. What joy fills the preacher's heart! No warrior was everhappier when he heaped up the mountains of prey. You meet with a person who is anxious-you want to say the right Word of Godto him and, therefore, you prayerfully look all around until a text suggests itself, which proves to be the exact word forthe person whose good you are seeking! Have you not felt great joy in handling such a passage as the instrument of usefulness?Have you not been ready to cry like the old Greek philosopher, "I have found it! I have found it!"? Have you not wanted tobe off to tell it not only to the one person you are anxious about, but to 50,000 more?
Ah, yes, you have rejoiced as one that finds great spoil. You see, then, that there is a distinct a joy which comes to theman who gets God's Word into his soul-a joy which arises out of the fact that there is a Word of God which comes to us asthe Revelation of God, as an Infallible Guide through life, as the pledge of Divine mercy, the beginning of Divine communionand the instrument of usefulness! Upon all these things we might profitably enlarge, but time would not allow it, so I begyou to follow me to the next point. May the Holy Spirit lead our minds.
II. Secondly, let us remark that FREQUENTLY THE JOY OF THE BELIEVER IN THE WORD ARISES OUT OF HIS HAVING HAD TO BATTLE TOOBTAIN A GRASP OF IT. Read the text again-"I rejoice at Your Word, as one that finds great spoil." Covered with sweat, dirtywith dust, bleeding from many a wound, wearied and faint, the fighting man has conquered the enemy and now he staggers forwardto seize his portion of the prey, finding new strength in
the joy of victory. Did you ever have to do that with God's Word, for I have had to do many times, and I will try to describethe battle as I know it.
"O my Soul, you have trod down strength." We have had to fight over certain doctrines before we could really come at them.Learning doctrines out of books, or merely learning them as matters of catechism, is never enough. Such teaching is all veryuseful and helpful, but the sure way to learn a doctrine is to have it burned into your soul as with a hot iron. "Oh," theysay of me, "that man speaks so dogmatically." I cannot help it! Why should I speak with bated breath when I feel absolutelycertain of what I say? If I were not certain, I would hold my tongue until I was. I could not dare to come here to talk ofmatters which may or may not be true! I dare not thus waste your time and thought. I have not only found the Doctrines ofthe Gospel in God's Word, but I have tested and tried them in my own experience-and they have been so powerfully operativeupon my own soul that I must speak as I find.
To me the things I preach are as assured as my existence! In fact, they are a part of my existence, since they are my life,my hope, my joy and strength. I am positive in speech because I am assured in mind. Nor can I see the gain which would accruefrom the opposite style of speech. Of what use is this cloudy doubt? Unless a man speaks up to the best of his knowledge andbelief, most positively, who is likely to believe him? Wise men will bid the speaker make up his own mind before he can hopeto influence other minds. I have no doubt about the existence of a God. Have you? If you have, do not set up to be a ministerfor God by any manner of means!
I have no doubt about the mediatorial power of His precious blood. Have you? If you have, do not pretend to be a Christianteacher, for your whole weight will be on the wrong side! Faith receives more stabs from waverers than from avowed skeptics.Sowers of doubt are no friends to the Gospel, for men are saved by faith-nobody was ever saved by unbelief. "We know and havebelieved the love which God has towards us." "I believed, therefore have I spoken." But how do we get to this assurance? Why,by fighting our way to it! A doctrine of God's Word comes before us. Our heart exclaims, "Yes, this seems to be the teachingof Scripture and, therefore, I must believe it." But carnal reason rebels and conjures up a phalanx of difficulties, whileour proud human nature revolts from a Truth of God which is so little to its taste. These things have to be battled with.
Faith has to bring all the faculties of the children of God upon their knees and to say to them, "Be quiet! Listen while Godspeaks-let God be true and every man a liar, and every faculty in the man a liar, too-sooner than God be distrusted." Thisis the victory we have to strive after-the triumph of a firm belief in the veracity of God. A doubt rises, then another andanother, like a flight of bats when a dark cave is startled by the blaze of torches. Away they fly and light seizes on theirdreary realm! Some minds have, for a time, to contend with doubts, army after army. Do not wonder if you have to strive, even,to blood, till your very soul bleeds over the doctrine! But rejoice that when once you thus win it, you will doubt no moreand the Truth of God will become doubly precious to you ever afterwards!
You have gained the Truth by fighting for it and, therefore, you cry, "This is my spoil and none shall rob me of it." Takeaway the giant's head from David? He is not to be so defrauded! Did he not cut it off himself? Did he not throw the stonewhich sank into the Philistine's forehead? So when a man has slain a thousand doubts in conflict over a doctrine and has,at last, come to assured belief, straightway he rejoices "as one that has found great spoil." What a fight there is, sometimesover a promise. Have you ever entered into such a contest? O gracious promise, most suitable to my case! How it would comfortmy soul! But may I appropriate it? The devil says, "Certainly not!" He pushes us back from it. Our feeble hope assures usthat it is too good to be true to us.
A thousand doubtful suggestions assail us, till at last the soul, by a desperate effort, seizes the portion and holds it againstall comers. We drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron! We take possession of their strongholds. Thendoes a man rejoice over a promise when he has believed it in the teeth of a thousand improbabilities and proved it to be true!He feels that he took the blessing out of the hand of the Amorite with his sword and with his bow, and from now on it is apeculiar portion to his soul and he rejoices over it, "as one that finds great spoil." It is a good thing to mark your Bibleswhen you have received a promise. Mark the margin with T and P-and let it stand for "tried and proved." Mark the passage whichthe Lord fulfils to you with some private seal, bearing witness to its truth!
David set his own hand to the margin in many places as, for instance, when he exhorted us to wait on the Lord and then added,"Wait, I say, on the Lord." May that which is written with ink in the Bible be written with Grace on our hearts! May the publicpromise become a private promise to each one of us by the living experience of our own soul!
Sometimes the hardest fight is round a precept. God has bid us do this and that, but carnal ease cries, "Let the precept alone!"And love of self says, "That command is too humbling! Pass it by." But oh, when you can battle with yourself and win the victorytill your heart cries, "I will delight myself in Your Commandments, which I have loved," then your rejoicing will be great,indeed! What a joy to conquer yourself! What bliss to master your surroundings and all the peculiarities of yours dispositionand temperament, so as to come to love the same precept which a little while ago was irksome! How the Believer loves the Lawwhen he has fought down his rebellious will, vanquished his obstinacy, crushed his pride, fettered his levity and yieldedhimself wholly to the Word of the Lord! Holy Spirit, give us this joy!
A sharp warfare often goes on over the threats. I have had many a wrestling match over them. A voice whispers in my ear, "thatthreat of God is too severe! That sentence of Scripture is too harsh." Certain of my Brethren carry a bit of pumice stonewith them and rub down the rough texts. Whenever they find God speaking in wrathful indignation against sinners, they meetHis terrors with a "larger hope." Things that are revealed belong to me, but things that are not revealed seem to belong tothem! They have many learned ways of softening down disagreeable Truths of God. Now, if I find my mind quarrelling with anyline of Scripture, I say to my soul, "You are wrong, or else you would be in accord with every Word of the Judge of all theearth." If I cannot yield unfeigned assent and consent to the justice of God, it does not occur to me to alter the Scripture,but to school my own heart till it bows before the thunder of Divine judgment!
I try to get my heart into such a state that I can say, "If my soul were in God's place, this is exactly what I would sayto the ungodly! This is precisely the measure I would deal out. For it must be right, it must be just or Jehovah would notso deal with men." When you are thus agreed with God, you will rejoice as one that finds great spoil, for you will be confidentthat to the toughest problems there is a gracious answer-and for the direst difficulties a sweet solution! It is hazardousto take the soul out of texts of Scripture and to attempt to give them souls of our own invention! Let us learn God's meaningand then become friends with it. Grow accustomed to the terrible texts till, like Daniel, you feel safe even in the lions'den! The doctrine of Eternal Punishment is no longer difficult for me to believe since I am confident that it is taught inthe Scriptures. The difficulties of it are for God to solve and there I leave them, being well assured that in some way, orother, all that He does will be consistent with His justice and His love! Not without a battle does one consent unto the darkerside of sacred Writ, but that once fought, there is rest.
Yet, once more, this is true about the Word which reveals Christ. We know not Christ aright till we are conformed to whatwe know of Him. If Christ is lovely, we shall not understand that loveliness till we are, in a measure, lovely ourselves.The pure in heart see the pure and holy God because every man sees what he is. When the lady said to Mr. Turner, "Sir, I haveseen that spot many times, but I never saw that which you have pictured." "No, Ma'am," he replied, "I dare say you have not.But don't you wish you could?" Just so, the artist's eye sees what another eye cannot-and the pure in heart see in God whatnobody else can see because they are like God. When our minds become molded like the mind of Christ, then we understand Christ!If there is anything about the Character of our Divine Exemplar which staggers us, let us pray our way into it!
We must get to be like He and, oh, when we do, then every line of that dear face will be conspicuously and transcen-dentallycharming to us because we have come to it through suffering! The inner experience of many a child of God lies much in conflictand contention-and scarcely an inch of Scripture is truly gained without fighting for it foot to foot with those who wouldrob us of our inheritance! Canaan was given to Israel by the Lord, Himself, by a Covenant of Salt, but we all remember thelong list of enemies that already occupied it. What is the name of them? Hivites, Hittites, Periz-zites, Jebusites-I willnot trouble you with more, so many and so ugly are the names of those who would keep back the Believer from his portion inthe Covenant. One of old said, "They compassed me about like bees: like bees they compassed me about" and yet he added, "Butin the name of the Lord will I destroy them."
May it be our resolve that we will take every part of the Word of God to be our heritage and rejoice over it "as one thatfinds great spoil."
III. We shall now tarry a moment upon a third thought which is altogether different from that which has gone before. AT TIMESTHE JOY OF THE BELIEVER LIES IN ENJOYING GOD'S WORD WITHOUT ANY FIGHTING
AT ALL. In the text I am not sure that fighting is certainly mentioned or necessarily implied, though it is highly probable.David says, "I rejoice at Your Word, as one that finds great spoil," as if he fell upon it all of a sudden, like the lep-
ers at the gate of Samaria who, to their surprise, found all the way they traversed covered with garments, gold and silvervessels! They had not lifted a finger in war, yet they found great spoil-like the man in the parable who, when he was plowing,found a treasure hidden in the field. He had never looked for it, but he had great joy in discovering it.
In infinite mercy the Lord makes His Word open up before His people when they are not seeking it, according to the promise,"I am found of them that sought Me not." Have you ever experienced what this means and have you not rejoiced as one that suddenlyfinds spoil? The Word of the Lord is often as spoil found, not fought for. The promise lies before me on the way and I findit-and by the Law of the Kingdom of Grace it becomes mine for the finding. There it is and the Spirit of God reveals it tome! And I take it, asking no leave whatever, since all Covenant blessings are free to us when we are free to take them. Ourwarrant for feeding at the banquet of love is the fact that God has set before us an open door and we are invited to enterin! What joy is this!
This spoil, however, must have cost somebody else most dear, though it has cost us nothing. If we did not fight for it, somebodyelse fought for it once. Ah, what a fight was that! Let Gethsemane and Calvary tell. What joy there is in seizing the spoilwhich Jesus has left us as the result of His life's warfare! We have not trod the winepress, but yet we drink the wine! Theblessing is free to us, but it cost Him groans, tears, bloody sweat and death! "This is David's spoil." Look down and seethe mark of the victor's feet! See you not where the nails went in? The Crucified One has been here and smitten all our adversariesand left this spoil for us poor creatures to divide among ourselves! Great is the spoil-all the spoils of death and Hell!All that father Adam was robbed of is recovered from the robbers! Life, light, peace, joy, holiness, immortality, Heaven-allthese are brought back by our great Conqueror who has taken the prey from the mighty and brought back the lawful captives,leading captivity captive!
O, Brothers and Sisters, we rejoice when we get a hold of the precious treasures of the Word as Jesus Christ's spoil, foughtfor by Himself and then distributed to us! What a joy there is in our heart when we remember what foes our Lord overcame togain all this spoil for us! Sin has been routed, Death has been slain and Hell has been stripped of its prey- our direst enemiesare broken in pieces and the crown of their head is crushed by Him who is the Seed of the woman-the Messiah of God! Whenevera passage of Scripture sings to you of itself, sing with it before the Lord! Whenever in reading, the verse seems to leapout of the page into your bosom-there let it lodge forever! Whenever in hearing the Word of God it darts into your heart,then will you understand what David meant when he said that his soul rejoiced over God's Word "as one who," by a happy, blessedfind, "finds great spoil."
IV. My fourth head is the principal one and I need all your attention while I dwell on it for a short time. THERE IS
A JOY ARISING OUT OF THE VERY FACT THAT HOLY SCRIPTURE MAY BE CONSIDERED TO BE A SPOIL. I
will show you that in five particulars. First, a spoil is the end of the uncertainty. Whenever a fight begins, it is questionablewho will win. While it rages, the result still hangs quivering in the balances, but we know who has won the battle when thevictor begins to divide the spoil. No question now remains-the debate is ended. Blessed is that man who has found in Scripturea spoil in the sense that he has come to the end of uncertainty and arrived at something without doubt.
All men that think crave after certainty and gradually settle down to one standard or another. I have heard of two brothers,equally honest and thoughtful men, who commenced life at the same point, but parted in their search after a foundation firmand strong. One of them, at last, gravitated to the church of Rome, for he thought he discovered certainty in an historicalchurch and in one at the head of it whose utterances are regarded as infallible. I do not envy him his ideal certainty-itseems to me to be a mass of fraud-a great historical imposture. The other brother found his resting place in his own reason,or in the fact that he could not be sure of anything. There is a certainty in being certain that you are not certain of anything-butcertainly it is not a certainty which would afford comfort to me-for my reason would be to me a sorry guide for eternal things,since even in everyday concerns it has misled me!
We must find certainty somewhere, or believe that we have found it, or else we shall be, of all men, most miserable. If aman has no standard of infallibility outside, he tries to find it in himself and becomes his own pope-and depend upon it,a pope in England is as likely to err as a pope in Rome! I would not give two pence for the two of you and if I threw myselfin, it would not add an extra farthing to the value. When a man has in experience fought up to confidence in the Word of theLord, or has had it effectually laid home by the Holy Spirit to his own soul, then he reaches the end of the
controversy so far as he, himself, is concerned-he is dividing the spoil, for he says-"We have known and believed the lovewhich God has towards us."
Of course, people come round and say, "You are mistaken." Our answer is, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.It may not be certainty to you, but it is to me." If a man should assert, "Oh, that medicine is all quackery," he has a rightto speak his mind, but his decision is not final. "Not so," cries another, "I have been ill half-a-dozen times and on eachoccasion I have speedily recovered through its use! Call it quackery if you like, it is no quackery to me, at any rate, forI am certain about its good effects." So is it when a man has, at last, by the application of the Spirit of God, felt thepower of God's Word over his soul. He says, "I am not going to fight that battle again. I am sure of the Truth of that Scripture."Such a man is restful about that matter.
I would to God that all of you had this certainty as some of us have. How horrible it is to grope in the eternal fog, to flounderin primeval chaos seeing no road or landmark; turning this way and finding it night and the other way equally darkness; tothe right, disorder; to the left, questions! Oh, to get to know that God loves me and that I love God! To know that Christhas redeemed me, my sin is put away and to feel all this witnessed in my soul by the Holy Spirit! This is to rejoice in theend of uncertainty as one that divides the spoil!
The next idea that comes out of the figure of spoil is this. It is the weakening of the adversary for any future attacks,for when they divide the spoil they say to one another, "The invaders will be here again, no doubt, before long, but theywill not have this great gun to turn upon us-we have spiked it. Their stock of ammunition will be somewhat diminished by thecapture of their magazines and they will not have this huge chest of gold with which to purchase more martial equipment, forwe have taken it from them. We have weakened the adversary. Have we not entered their strongholds? Have we not captured theirquadrilateral? They may again take up arms, but their force is broken."
Every doubt a man conquers by resting on the Infallible Word of God has weakened the power of unbelief within him and strengthenedhis faith. Blessed is that man who has so trusted in his God that doubts are now but as the grasshopper which is only a burdento the feeble. O the joy of saying, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I havecommitted unto Him." Or to cry with the once-blind man, "One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see!" Tasting and handlingof the good things of the Kingdom of God, we rise into a region of fact and leave suppositions and quibbles far below! Inthis lies a part of the joy of taking the spoil-we hope for less disturbance of heart, less peril of intellect, less struggleof soul from this time forth. The horns of the adversary have been broken and they cannot harm us as before.
Next, in dividing the spoil there is always a sense of victory and so there is in believing God's Word. In getting firm holdupon the faithful Testimony of our God, we achieve a conquest over doubts, fears, disquietudes and all our proud judgmentsof God. There is a sense of conquest when we overcome our passions and propensities and do the Lord's bidding according toHis precepts and statutes. When that which at one time was difficult, if not impossible, becomes easy and delightful, thenwe wave the palm branch over a defeated enemy! When the mind is brought into subjection to all and every revealed Truth ofGod, then have we done more than if we had taken a strong city! "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith."May we have more of it and go from strength to strength, doing valiantly in the name of the Lord!
Again, in dividing the spoil there is profit, pleasure and honor. I am not about to justify the deeds of war, for these Ihate-as to plunder and chaos, such as have been indulged in by the general run of conquerors-they are detestable crimes! Menhave made themselves worse than devils to men. No calamities have ever befallen nations that are so much to be deplored asthe atrocities of war! I use the warlike metaphor, but condemn the fact! Men conceive, when they divide the spoil, that thereis honor in it. Look at the crowds that gathered along the Via Sacra when the Roman conquerors came down from the Apian Way,passed under the arch and marched towards the capitol! Then did the populace crowd the house roofs and the chimney tops thatthey might see a Scipio or a Caesar expose his captives and display his spoils.
They shouted till they were hoarse and wearied themselves with applause at the sight of the spolia opima which were bornein the procession. Thus men judge of plunder in war. See how Napoleon thought to glorify himself by placing in Paris the worksof art which he had taken from the capitals of Europe! What are most trophies but stolen goods, or that which is purchasedby them? But when you and I lay hold of Holy Scripture, then have we grasped a prey more precious than royal treasures, aprey which we may hold with justice and honor! When we can say that the things which God has
revealed are ours, then we are rich beyond a miser's dream and when we can hold them against all comers! Then that which webelieve becomes our honor and gives glory to us and glory to faith and chief glory to Him who worked our faith in us by Hisalmighty Spirit!
Last of all, the spoil is a prophecy of rest and so is that delightful dividing up of the Word of God and the appropriationthereof by faith. "Ah," said the Romans when they spoiled old Carthage, "we shall never see another Hannibal at our gates,nor dread the ships of Carthage in our seas." They had overcome their most potent adversary when they utterly spoiled her-andthen they looked for a long period of peace. And that is the joy of receiving the Word of God! When we can believe that Jesustook our sin and suffered for them on the tree, we are no more troubled as to the guilt of sin! When we believe that our heavenlyFather overrules all things for the good of His people, then sorrow and sighs, fear and frets flee away! Well may he restwho sees even evil made to work for his good!
When we believe that Jesus died and rose again from the dead, then the fear of death which haunts so many receives its mortalwound. Knowing the meaning of the word, "He that believes in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live," the dread of deathhas no more dominion over us! The appropriation of the Divine promise, as the soldier appropriates his share of the booty,is to us the prophecy that the war is over! We may rest, now, and be quiet. And oh, what joy, what blessedness is this! HowI would that all those who are here present were believers in my Master-first in Jesus the great Incarnate Word-and then inthis book, the written Word of God and that you did not only believe these things to be true, but took them to yourselvesas warriors take the spoil!
Happy and blessed would you be and your rejoicing this day would be as the joy of harvest, or as the shouting of them thatdivide the spoil! God grant it may be so, for Jesus' sake. Amen.