Sermon 1690. Chariots of Iron
DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 28, 1882,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And the Lord was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants ofthe valley, because they had chariots of iron. And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled from therethe three sons of Anak." Judges 1:19,20.
WE frequently use Canaan as a type of Heaven, and the Jordan, through which Israel passed, as a symbol of death. Dr. Wattshas taught us to sing-
"Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Stand dressed in living green;
So to the Jews old Canaan stood, While Jordan rolled between.
Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o'er,
Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood,
Should fright us from the shore!" This is thoroughly poetical and may be made exceedingly instructive, but it is not quiteaccurate if we undertake a careful consideration of the whole matter. If the New Testament is to expound the Old, then thereis another lesson to be learned from the land which flowed with milk and honey. "We that have believed do enter into rest,"that is to say, all believers in Christ have crossed the Jordan and have come into the promised rest. The Covenant is alreadyfulfilled to them in a great measure-they are living under Messiah's sway within the bounds of His Kingdom-and every preciousthing which God promised them is theirs.
They dwell in the "land which the Lord thinks upon." "Your land, O Immanuel!" The type, therefore, may best set forth thecase of the instructed and advanced Believer who has passed through the first, or wilderness stage, of his life, and has nowcome into a higher condition, actually enjoying spiritual privileges and sitting together with Christ in the heavenly places.To him, however, this condition of exalted privilege is not a state of undisturbed repose-on the contrary, he wars a constantwarfare, wrestling with spiritual wickedness. The Canaanite is in possession and the Canaanite is to be driven out. Our naturaltendencies and corruptions; our sinful habits and lusts; the warping and bending of our spirit towards evil-all this has tobe overcome-and we shall not possess the land so as to enjoy undivided tranquility until sin is utterly exterminated.
What Joshua could not do, our Lord Jesus shall fully accomplish-the enemy within shall be rooted out and then shall dawn theday of our joy and peace-when we shall sit, every man, under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall make us afraid. Thatperfect victory shall be ours, but not yet. Taking this as the Truth of God, which we shall illustrate by our text, we noticethat the work of Israel was to drive out and to utterly exterminate those condemned races which were in possession of Canaan.One tribe was chosen to lead the van in the fierce campaign. Joshua, their heroic leader, was gone-who should lead the way?The power of the Canaanites, in his day, had been broken, but now that he was dead, the old races began to build up, again,even as we oftentimes find our sins, which we thought were all dead, suddenly finding fresh courage and attempting to setup their empire once more.
Then Israel went to God and enquired, "Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them? And theLord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hands." The tribe of Judah, then, was commissionedto lead the way and we see three things in its conduct of the enterprise. First, the Lord's power was trusted and magnified,for "the Lord was with Judah, and Judah drove out the inhabitants of the mountain." Secondly, by this
very tribe, this right royal tribe, the Lord's power was not trusted and, therefore, restrained, for, "Judah could not driveout the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."
Yet, as if to rebuke them, they had a singular incident set before them for the vindication of God's power and, of that, weread in the 20th verse. Caleb, that grand old man who still lived on-the sole survivor of all who came out of Egypt-had obtainedHebron as his portion and he went up, in his old age, when his bones were sore and set, and slew the three sons of Anak, eventhree mighty giants, and took possession of their city. In this way the Lord's power was trusted and vindicated from the slurwhich Judah had brought upon it!
I. Let us think upon our first head, which is, that by the tribe of Judah THE LORD'S POWER WAS TRUSTED AND MAGNIFIED. "TheLord was with Judah." Oh that the Holy Spirit may be with us! The people had wisely consulted their God and it fell to Judah'slot, by Divine appointment, to lead the van. In that work the tribe prospered. Read the chapter when you are at home and youwill observe a series of great victories. "Judah went up; and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into theirhands: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men. And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him andthey slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites. But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut offhis thumbs and his great toes. And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cutoff, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God has requited me." Thus they overcame the monarch who had domineeredover the land and had been a terror to all the little kings.
Next, the tribe attacked Jerusalem, Hebron, Debir and Hormah. Soon afterwards they fell upon the Philistines, who were menof war, and they took Gaza, Askelon and Ekron with their coasts. The Lord God, in this way, had proved to Judah and to allIsrael what He could do. It would have been wise, on their part, to have put unlimited trust in Him- then had they gone forwardconquering and to conquer. Has not the Lord done the same with those of us who have believed in Him? What has your experiencebeen, my Brothers and Sisters? I speak not to men of the world, nor to those who have just begun the Divine life, but I speakto those of you who have experience of the things of God and who have lived the life of faith for years.
Has not God revealed His power in you? Do you not possess Infallible proofs of it which you would scarcely like to tell, forthey are as secret as they are sacred? Though you would never mention them in a mixed audience, lest you should cast yourpearls where they would not be appreciated, yet they are laid up in your memories in the form of remarkable deliverances,special comforts and singular mercies for which, to this day, you cannot account upon any other theory than that the LordGod Omnipotent put forth His hands and especially helped you in your hour of need! Do not forget these things. If the Lord'spower is proved to your own soul by God, Himself, then it is proved, indeed! I care very little for those evidences of theexistence of a God which are fashioned for us by learned men-the priority argument, the argument from analogy and all therest.
I have seen an end to them in my own doubts and fears. The most convincing evidence is found in another kind of reasoning,such as that which conquers all doubt by actual experience. When God has come to our soul and drawn near to us in the hourof our distress, we have needed no further argument! When He has said, "Peace," to our troubled spirit and stilled its raging,then have we received conclusive evidence of His power! When He has lifted us up into ecstasy and filled us with unspeakablejoy and full of glory, we have laid up these evidences in our minds and our assurance has grown doubly sure! If we have nottied a bit of red tape round these briefs and hidden them away in our pigeonholes, we have taken better care of them thanthat-for we have locked them up in the inner chambers of our heart!
Mary pondered these things in her heart and we have done the same. God's goodness was thus proved to Judah, even as it hasbeen to many of us in our degree-proven as clearly as if it had been worked out mathematically, like a problem in Euclid.But the Lord had also proved His power to Judah in numerous victories. The victories which He gave to them were singular andremarkable, even when not miraculous, and there were many of them. They had gone from city to city and smitten all their foes.It seemed as if God had said to Judah, as He said to Joshua, "No man shall be able to stand against you all the days of yourlife."
Now, repeated facts go to strengthen the inference drawn from former facts. According to the best practical philosophy, whichis the inductive, you note a fact and then the inference from it is probable. You note another fact and the inference is moreprobable. You get six, seven, eight, 10, 20 similar facts and your deduction becomes more and more
nearly certain. But when these facts come thick as hailstones-when they become as many as the drops of dew or the beams oflight-then the inference may be regarded as absolutely sure! When your life is crowded with displays of God's power with you,for you and in you, then that power cannot be doubted! It is impossible to argue a Christian out of the grounds of his faithwhen he has had long dealings with God!
There! You cavilers may boast that you can disprove a doctrine, if you like. I care nothing for your sophisms. You cannotdisprove it to me. You can carp against the Old Testament or the New, if you like. I am sorry for you, for it is all clearenough to me, but I am not going to get into a great heat over it in order to combat you. It is not so very important whatyou prove, or do not prove, about the Book because the matter of fact still remains untouched. Those of us who have livedin the light of God's Countenance and have spoken with Him as a man speaks with his friend, and have had replies from Him,not once, nor twice, nor in years gone by, alone, but daily and continually-we, I say, are not to be moved from our belief!
We have another life into which a stranger can not intrude and a conversation with God which seems ridiculous only to thosewho never knew it, for it is sublime as sublimity, itself, to those who enjoy it every day! And, having such a life, it furnishesus with evidence which does not go to be debated-we believe and are sure. Disprove our sanity and you have done something.Only let me tell you that even then we shall remain sane enough to hold to what we do hold and shall not be so mad as to jointhe infidel ranks! We are satisfied to be fools if to be fools means to see God! We are satisfied to know nothing about the"culture" and the "thought" of this grand century, if that involves being far off from the Eternal Lord and ceasing to seeHis hand in Nature, in Providence and in Grace! We are content if we may but know Him, whom to know is eternal life!
Beloved Brothers and Sisters, I may say of many here present that God has proven His power and goodness to you by such overwhelmingproofs that doubt, in your case, would be a grievous piece of folly and sin! God had especially favored Judah with remarkableassistance in what I may call, "brotherly action." "Judah said unto Simeon, his brother, Come up with me into my lot, thatwe may light against the Canaanites; and I, likewise, will go with you into your lot. So Simeon went with Him." (See verse8). In communion with each other, these tribes had further proof of God's power, for He gave them the necks of their enemies.We, also, can narrate wonderful displays of God's power and Grace when we have had fellowship, one with another, in holy service!Our choicest experiences have been enjoyed in Christian society. When the disciples were met together, the doors being shut,then Jesus came into the midst of them and said unto them, "Peace be unto you."
The Lord is gracious to us when we are having sympathy with His poor and struggling people and entering into a mutual covenantthat we will stand by each other and help each other in the midst of on ungodly world. The Lord is pleased with brotherlylove and there He commands the blessing to rest as the dews on Herman! If I could forget the major part of my own personalexperience at home, yet I can never forget the heavenly seasons spent in the Tabernacle with my beloved ones! In the PrayerMeetings, have not our hearts burned within us? At the banqueting table of celestial love-at the Lord's Supper-to which wedelight to come every Lord's-Day, have we not attained a nether Heaven? Have we not passed into the vestibule of God's ownhouse in Glory and felt that it needed scarcely the rending of the thinnest piece of tissue to let us actually stand in theunveiled Presence of God?
Yes, God has been with us and we have had proofs enough of His power and love! When together, we have gone forth to battleto struggle against the sin of the age, to bear testimony for neglected Truths of God, to bring our wandering Brothers back,or to reclaim fallen Sisters to the faith of Jesus. Have we not obtained, in that fraternal action, grand proofs of the Master'spower to bless and save? I know that we have! There let it stand and let it witness against us if we, in the future, yieldto unbelief!
Yet further, Brothers and Sisters, it so happened that to Judah, God gave great proofs of His Presence and power by raisingup, here and there, a man in their midst who performed heroic deeds. I will not speak of Caleb, for you will tell me, "Ah,he was an old, old man and belonged to another generation! He was just going off the scene; we do not wonder that he did greatthings." Yes, but he had a nephew, one Othniel, a young man as yet unmarried. And when Caleb said, "He that smites Kirjathsepher,and takes it, to him will I give Achsah, my daughter, to wife," His nephew Othniel was the man for the city and the bride!The young hero stood forward, went up to the fortress and took the city. And he presented it into his uncle's hands and receivedthe promised reward.
Oh, yes, and we have seen raised up-and shall see it more and more-young heroes who have been self-denying, self-distrustful,inconsiderate of themselves who have been willing, for Christ's sake, to be anything or nothing, and God has been with themand the power of the Most High has rested upon them. Has not unbelief been rebuked when we have been compelled to say, "Insteadof the fathers shall be the children, whom You may make princes in all the earth"? This has been a blessed token of God'sPresence and power. I know how it is with those who have been long in the Church- they wonder what is to become of it whenthe old folks die. "When the pastor is gone, what shall we do, then?" Wait till it happens, Brothers and Sisters! Wait tillit happens and then you shall see that He who could find one servant, can find another!
The Lord was never short of instruments, yet, and He never will be! You and I, you know, if we wear out one tool, must waittill we send to the shop for a second. But the Lord grows new tools out of old ones. New springs are born out of the decaysof the old year's autumn. I have seen a young tree growing out of the roots of the old one and fresh leaves unfold where thoseof last year had once been. In our advancing years we become better recruiting sergeants and so enlist our own successors.You who are now getting gray, once wondered what would become of the cause of God when the guide of your youth fell asleepin Jesus-but the immortal cause has survived the death of the standard-bearer! We never hear of that good man, now! Indeed,he does not seem to have been so important as you thought. God will find messengers as long as He has errands.
When certain of us have gone Home, you young people will be leading in our place, and you will say, "I remember the old gentleman.We valued his ministry and we could not think what we should do without him. But we have done a deal better without him thanever we did with him, for God, in His infinite mercy, has raised up a worthy successor." Therefore be of good courage andlet what you have seen as to the past be to you a prophecy of God's goodness in the future! Caleb shall be gathered to hisfathers, but Othniel shall follow him, who shall be as brave as he. The reason why the men of Judah were successful was becausethey had full confidence in God. Up to a certain point Judah relied upon God. Jehovah had bid them to lead the way, and theyled the way. He had conducted them from city to city-and they went, not doubting that God would be with them-and so successattended them, for they leaned upon the Lord.
Thus shall it be with us, for it is written, "According to your faith be it unto you." The Lord will not fall short of themeasure-let us not make the measure short. Yet this is where we too frequently fail, for our faith is such a poor piece ofbusiness. We scarcely trust God as well as we trust a generous man! And when God does a great thing for His people, they say,one to another, "Is it not surprising? Is it not wonderful?" Many are amazed that God should keep His word! And so, when Heanswers prayer, they exclaim, "What a marvelous thing!" Is it, then, a marvel for God to be true? For God to keep His promise?I grant you that there is a side of it which forever must be marvelous, but I still fear that with the allowable marvel, thereis often mixed such a degree of unbelief that the wonderment is not so much of admiring gratitude as astonished unbelief!
For God to hear prayer is as natural as for a cause to produce an effect! There is as much, and as certain, and as Infalliblea connection between prayer that is worked in us by the Holy Spirit and the result of that prayer as there is between forcein the steam engine and the motion of the train! Instead of the power of prayer being a mere fiction, it is the most practicaland certain of all the forces that are in existence this side of the Eternal Throne. God works more by prayer than by anythingelse and if we would but enlarge the channel through which His mighty power would flow-by having more faith and more confidencein prayer-we should see greater things than these!
II. Now I come to the painful but important subject of THE LORD'S POWER RESTRAINED BECAUSE DISTRUSTED. The men of Judah coulddrive out the inhabitants of the mountain, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had chariotsof iron. Some of our more flippant infidels have asserted that this verse says that the Lord could not drive out the inhabitantsof the valley, yet the antecedent is not God at all, but Judah. It is Judah that could not drive them out. "Well," they say,"but God was with Judah and they did drive out the people of the mountain. Why could they not drive out the people of theplain by the same power?"
This is the hinge of the matter. They did not conquer the men of the iron chariots because God, in that business, was notwith them. As far as their faith went, God kept touch with them and they could do anything and everything. But when they despondinglythought that they could not drive out the inhabitants of the wide valleys, then they failed utterly! They were afraid becauseof the chariots, which had poles between the horses armed with lances which cut their way
through the crowd. And the axles of the wheels were fitted with great scythes-these inventions were novel and caused a panicand, therefore, the men of Judah lost their faith in God-and so became weak and cowardly. They said, "It is of no use; wecannot meet these terrible machines," and, therefore they did not pray or make an attempt to meet the foe.
They could not drive out the people. Of course they could not! If they had exhibited the same faith about the chariots ofiron as about the men of the hills, the chariots of iron would have been no better than chariots of straw, for the Lord "breaksthe bow, and cuts the spear in sunder, and burns the chariot in the fire." If they had believed in God and gone forth in Hisname, the horses would soon have fled, as, indeed, they did when God gave His people faith!
When Barak led the way with Deborah, then they smote Jabin who had 900 chariots of iron! They fled. They fled away, for theLord was with Barak and gave them up to him as chaff to the whirlwind! God would have been with Judah if Judah had displayedfaith, but, having no faith, they could not rout the chariots of iron. Their faith was imperfect. They retained too much confidencein themselves. Mark that, for if their confidence had been in God, alone, these chariots of iron would have been ciphers inthe calculation! If God has to give the victory, then chariots of iron or chariots of fire are no item at all against an OmnipotentGod.
They evidently thought that there were something, for their power went as far as smiting the men of the hills, but not sofar as attacking the cavalry in the open plain where there was room for them to rush to and fro! Now, that is also your weaknessand mine! We tacitly imply that God can help us up to a certain point. Does not that mean that we can help ourselves afterthat point? Being interpreted, the belief conceals a measure of self-trust and the next akin to self-trust is distrust. Ifyou have passed out of yourself, where have you entered? Into the infinite! The man who has reached the infinite needs notto reckon any longer. It was of no use for Noah to keep a log of his vessel when there remained no more land-when it was allsea, it did not matter to him where he drifted! And so when you once get right away from self there are no limits.
God is unbounded-therefore trust Him without stint! Act like Samson, the strong, because the childlike, hero. If there isa Philistine to meet, he is ready for him. There are two of them-he is quite ready for both! There are 20 of them-it makesno difference! A thousand of them are before him! All right, there are only the more for the hero to kill, for he will slayevery mother's son of them and pile up their carcasses, heaps upon heaps! Numbers do not matter. "But, Samson, if you areto do this deed, you must wield a good Damascus blade." "Yes," he says, "if I am to do it, of course I must! But if the Lordis to do it, the jawbone of an ass will suffice." It made no difference to him, when he had thrown himself simply and nakedlyupon God, whether foes were few or many, whether weapons were fit or feeble!
Herein is the failure of our faith if it rests not in God's bare arm. See this round world, how steadily it turns! How smoothlyit moves along in its predestinated course! Why? Because God has hung it upon nothing and God's own will directs it. Supposeit were hung on a chain-would it be any the more secure? The strength of the chain would come from God, so it is better tohave the power without the chain. Though a saint is sustained by nothing but the power of God, all the devils in Hell cannotstir him. The bare arm of God is the source of all power.
Next, the imperfection of their faith lay in this, as it may do in yours, my Brothers and Sisters-that they believed one promiseof God and did not believe another. There is a kind of faith which is strong in one direction, but utter weakness if triedin other ways. It is curious that persons generally speak out the easiest promises to believe, while those which are greaterand, therefore, are the more godlike, they cannot believe! Judah believed in smiting the men of the hills because he thoughtsuch warfare easy. But as to overcoming the cavalry with their chariots of iron, that was difficult, and so he did not believeup to that mark. Beware of being pickers and choosers of God's promises! You who are traders know that customers will turnall your stock over and keep on picking over packet after packet and never buy anything at the end.
Does this please you? When people pick the promises over they say-"That one? No, I cannot receive that." When they do believea promise, it is the smallest in the Bible! Oh, for a faith that takes the promises in the bulk and knows nothing of choosingor refusing! Whatever God has promised, He is able, also, to perform! And if the promise is but suitable to my case, I amto grasp it and expect to see it fulfilled! Some believe God at one time and not at another. Do you not find that you believethe Lord a good deal on Thursday nights after a sermon? How about Friday nights? Ah, that is rather different, isn't it?
I have known friends who are wonderful Believers on Sunday. They go home singing-
"Let the earth's old pillars shake And all the wheels of Nature break! Our steady souls shall fear no more Than solid rockswhen billows roar."
You make a bad debt on Monday-how do you feel about it? Not quite so much like a pillar, I daresay, but rather more like thethistledown that is blown with the wind! Such faith is temporary. It is not unlike the faith mentioned in Aesop's fable whenthe stag stood looking into the water at his branching antlers and, tossing his head with defiance, said, "Why am I afraidof the hounds? A dog come near me? Impossible! If the hound does but see my horns he will fear death! I shall rip him up ordash him to pieces. I will let the pack see what I am made of." Just then there was heard a bark and away went the stag likelightning, as terrified as ever!
How like us! We appear to be so grandly strong, so quietly believing-yet the first trouble that comes, scatters our courage!That is the reason why Judah could not drive out the dwellers in the plain-he heard the rushing of those chariots of ironand his heart failed him. There was a further reason for failure arising out of this imperfection of their faith- they couldnot conquer the chariots of iron because, first, they did not try. The Hebrew does not say that they could not drive themout. What the Hebrew says is that they did not drive them out. Some things we cannot do because we never make the attempt.
I wish we had among Christian workers the spirit of the Suffolk lad who was brought up in court to be examined by an overbearinglawyer. The lawyer roughly said to him, "Hodge, can you read Greek?" "I don't know, Sir," he said. "Well, fetch a Greek book,"said the lawyer and, showing the lad a passage, he said to him, "Can you read that?" "No." "Then why did you not say thatyou could not?" "Because I never say I cannot do a thing till I have tried it." If that spirit were in Christian people, weshould achieve great things-but we set down such-and-such a thing as manifestly beyond our power and, silently, we whisperto ourselves, "therefore beyond God's power," and so we leave it alone. No chariots of iron will be driven out if we darenot make the attempt!
Next, I suspect that they did not drive them out because they were idle. If cavalry were to be dealt with, Judah must bestirhimself. If chariots of iron were to be defeated, they must enter upon an arduous campaign and so, taking counsel of theirfears and their idleness, they said, "Let us not venture on the conflict." There are many things that Christ's Church is unableto do because it is too lazy. "What?" you ask, "Do you call us lazy?" No, Brothers and Sisters, I will not do anything ofthe sort! If any of you should happen to call yourselves, lazy, it will spare me the trouble. I am afraid that I should haveto upbraid certain ministers for being indolent in God's work and I fear that many others of God's servants are none too diligent.Idleness refuses to sound the trumpet for the battle and the fight never comes on-and therefore the enemy is not driven out.
Then, again, they were not at all anxious to meet the men who manned those chariots, for they were afraid. These men of Judahwere cowards in the presence of chariots of iron and what can a coward do? He is great at running away! They say that he,"may live to fight another day." Not he-he will live, but he will not live to fight, depend upon it-no more another day thanhe does today! His heart is in his heels and he will show his foeman his back whenever the fight is hot. We must cry mightilyto God to deliver us from cowardice-and then we shall accomplish what we now think impossible!
Dear Friends, there was no excuse for this on the part of Judah, as there is really no excuse for us when we think any partof God's work to be too difficult for us-for, remember, there was a special promise made about this very case. Kindly lookat the 20th chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, at the first verse, and you will see how the Lord says, "When you go out tobattle against your enemies and see horses, and chariots, be not afraid of them: for the Lord your God is with you." If thereis a special promise made to meet an emergency, who are we that we should be cast down by the difficulty? Besides that, theyreceived a special commission. Read the second verse of the chapter from which our text is taken-"The Lord said, Judah shallgo up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hands." Iron chariots or no chariots, God had delivered the country intoJudah's hands!
Besides that, their God had done greater deeds than this! He had divided the Red Sea and drowned the army of Egypt! He haddivided the Jordan into halves and led His people through the river dry shod-and He had made the walls of Jericho to fallflat to the ground! Why, then, was He distrusted because of those wretched chariots of iron? Come, then, Brothers and Sisters,have you got into a tight fit in the matter of your personal affairs? And are you saying, to-
night, "I cannot pray about it. I cannot trust God about it"? Is that right? Look your Bibles up and see whether there isnot a promise exactly suited to your singular condition! Look back upon your own experience and see whether God has not alreadydone for you and others of His people a greater thing than your present trial requires!
Why will you say that you cannot drive out the chariots of iron? Be of good courage and go forward! God is able to deliveryou, therefore fear not! He will supply your needs-be not dismayed. Perhaps some holy work for God is your difficulty. Youhave done something, already, for which you praise God, but now a new work is laid at your door, of which you say, "No, Icannot undertake it. I do not feel at all equal to it." What if the Almighty Lord has said, "I will be with you"? Do you answer,"I could do almost anything, but not that"? Are you sure, my Brother, that you could do almost anything? Do you not thinkthat, if another task were set before you, it would be equally hard for you? If God commands, is it right to reason why, oreven to ask a question? Let us get at the work, my Brothers and Sisters-and the greater the danger, the greater the labor,the greater the difficulty-so much the more fully let us cast ourselves upon our God and give to Him the Glory of the deedwhen the work is done!
You know not what you can do! You are Omnipotent if girt about with God's Omnipotence! You are wise if God teaches you, strongif God upholds you! The capacities which are within a man are greater than he knows and the capacities with which God canendow a man are greater than he can dream! Therefore, forward in the name of the Most High! An unconverted person is herewho has been thinking of coming to Christ, but he says, "I cannot give up all my sins. One of them I must retain-all the restI can leave, but that one is invincible-for it has chariots of iron. I cannot drive it out," That sin must die, or you willperish by it! Depend upon it, that sin which you would save from slaughter will slaughter you! "But I am in such a strangeconnection and there are so many peculiar circumstances about my case."
Yes, 1 know. Peculiar circumstances surround all men that go to Hell, but they do not quench the fire for them! "But, Sir,we must live." Must you? I see no necessity for that in my own case. I know that I must serve God, but whether I live or notis a secondary matter! It is infinitely better that we should die than do wrong. This necessity of living is not quite soclear as people suppose. Why must you live? The martyrs did not. They felt that they must testify for Christ and His Truth-andthey gloried to die, rather than to do anything that was wrong! You will not, perhaps, be brought to that, but you ought tobe ready for it. Do not be in such a fever about this poor life. Is not the soul better than the body?
"Yes, Sir, but I cannot explain my difficulty." No, and do not try! Turn the sin out. That is the only thing to do with itand the more you love it, the more speedily should you turn it out, for it evidently lies near your heart where it can doyou great mischief. "Well, it is not one of the grosser sins." No, it is one of those respectable sins which are so hard toget rid of! You must drive it out! I notice that if anybody picks my pocket it is sure to be a respectable-looking person.If a man is a rogue, he is sure to look like an honest man, to lead people to trust him. Sin must be driven out, even thoughit is a chariot of iron.
Certain Christians make up their minds that certain sins must be tolerated in their cases. I know one who has constitutionallya fiery temper and so, whenever he gets into a towering passion, he cries, "I cannot help it! I am so constituted." Insteadof weeping before God and vowing, "I will master this passion! God is Omnipotent and He can make my temper a reasonable one"-insteadof that-he says that everything else can be conquered in him, but not this sin, for it is constitutional. So have I also knownpersons to be miserly and mean. The Grace of God has done everything for them except make them give away a shilling-and theysuppose that they are to go to Heaven with their covetous nature, as if the Lord would let such people in there! Selfishnessis put down by them as being one of the sins that have chariots of iron which they cannot overcome.
"You know that we all have our besetments," says one. What do you mean by that? Some sin that you often fall into? Do youcall that a besetting sin? If I were to walk, tonight, across Clapham Common and half-a-dozen men stopped me, I should saythat I was beset. But, if at an appointed place, a party met me regularly, I should not say that I was beset! And so, thesame which a man often indulges in is not his besetting sin-it is his favorite sin-a sin that will be his ruin! A besettingsin is one which forces itself upon a man-and if he is on his guard-it seizes him by the throat and throws him down. We mustbe watchful, so that the next time the temptation comes we may escape from it. Let us make war on the evil and say, "It isno use your attacking me-I will attack and overcome you by faith in Jesus Christ."
The fact is, Brothers and Sisters, we must tolerate no sin in ourselves! If we make excuses for it in our Brethren, well andgood, but let us never make or accept an excuse for ourselves. Sin in us is 10 times worse sin than in others. If an un-
converted man sins, it is bad enough, but when a man has tasted of the good Word of Grace and has leaned his head on Christ'sbosom and then falls into sin, what excuse can be offered for him? None! Let us weep tears of blood because we thus offend.We will yet vanquish the chariots of iron! We will throw down the gauntlet tonight and in the name of God we will destroythem!
III. To close. Let us see THE LORD'S POWER VINDICATED. Just at that time, brave old Caleb, leaning on his cane, went up toHebron. When he was a younger man, Moses sent him as a spy. And when he was on that business, he happened to come near Hebronand there he saw three tremendous fellows of the race of the giants. I suppose they were from eight to 10 or 12 feet high.He saw them and those that were with him were afraid. They said, "We were as grasshoppers in their sight." But Caleb was nota bit afraid! He said, "God is not with them and they will be easily overthrown."
When they came into the land 40 years later, Caleb did not ask for his city. But as an unselfish man, he fought to win citiesfor others. When that was done, he said, "Hebron was given to me. I must go and conquer it. And the giants that I saw yearsago, I dare say, have not grown much shorter, so I must cut them down." Away he went and it proved as he had said-in his frailold age, he was able to slay those three sons of Anak-and to take possession of their city. I could tell you of holy women,sick and infirm, scarcely able to leave their beds, who are doing work which, to some strong Christians, seems too hard toattempt! Have I not seen old men doing for the Lord in their feebleness that which young men have declined? Could I not tellyou of some with only one talent-certainly no more-who are bringing in a splendid revenue of Glory to their Lord and Master,while you fine young fellows with 10 talents have wrapped them all in a napkin and hid them in the earth?
I wish that I could shame myself, and shame every worker here into enterprises that would astonish unbelievers! God help usto do that which seems impossible! Let men be provoked to charge us with fanaticism! God bless the fanaticism which, beingtranslated, means nothing but a true faith in the living God! May we be helped to trust the Lord as He ought to be trustedand march on till we drive out all His enemies despite their chariots of iron, that unto God may be Glory forever and ever!Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 78:10-59. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK" -63 (SONG III), 106 (PART II), 87 (SONGII).