Sermon 1880. A Lesson and a Fortune for Christian Men of Business
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, JANUARY 24, 1886.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 12, 1885.
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will neverleave you, nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5.
THE Apostle warns us against a tendency very natural to our race. "Let your conversation be without covetousness." I am afraidthat the precept is even more needed, now, than in the days of the Apostle. We are still more sharp and keen in competitionand men in trade are even more anxious to accumulate money than they were in Apostolic times. It is not easy for a man tokeep his heart clear of covetousness, or his hands clean from moral bribes. There is a singular stickiness about gold andsilver. They have a great tendency to birdlime our souls and hold them fast, so that they cannot rise superior to their influence.The Revised Version reads our text, "Be you free from the love of money" and it puts in the margin, "Let your turn of mindbe free from the love of money." May we all enjoy that freedom and may our turn of mind lead us to seek better things thanthe miser is able to hoard!
There is a laudable pursuit of gain, without which business would not be properly carried on, but there is a line, scarcelyas broad as a razor's edge, between diligence in business and greediness for gain. We can so easily pass from the one intothe other that we may hardly be aware of it. When a man is increasing his investments, when he is extending his agencies,when he is enlarging his warehouse, when he is employing a larger number of persons than formerly, or even when he is bemoaningthe depression of his trade and his heart is aching because he has only half as much business as before, covetousness mayinsinuate itself into his conversation. It is a snake which can enter at the smallest opening. It lurks in the grass whereit is long, but it glides, also, where the pasture is bare. It may come in either in prosperity or in adversity and it isnecessary to whisper in the ear of each Believer, whether going up or down in the world, "Let your conversation-your dailyconduct-be without covetousness."
Any Brother here-and it is to the Brothers, mainly, that the temptation comes, I think-any Brother here may have present needof such a warning as this. And if he does not need it just now, he may lay it by till he does, for it will keep. But let menot restrict the text or the sermon to the male side of the house. The Sisters may fall into a like temptation, in the saving,as their husbands in the getting. You godly matrons, you industrious Marthas, "Let your conversation be without covetousness."
The Apostle here hints at what is the real cure for covetousness, namely, contentment. This is a rare drug in the market.The words of the Apostle make up a golden sentence-"Be content with such things as you have."
It is supposed by most persons that they could be content if they were not exactly what they are and where they are. But theprecept exhorts them to be content with their present circumstances. If they had a little more, they would be satis-fied-butthat is not the contentment to which we are exhorted! It is written, "Be content with such things as you have." If God hasmultiplied your possessions, you ought the more readily to be content with such things as you have, though I am not sure youwill be, for there is a saltiness in the water which comes out of wells dug by the Philistines, so that he who drinks fromthem shall thirst again. I once thought that a million would satisfy any mortal man, but I have been assured by one who hasconsiderable experience in that direction, that he who has one million is unable to see any reason why he should not havetwo or ten!
However, I may let that pass, for millions or thousands are not likely to tempt the most of us who are here assembled. Ifyou have little possessions, yet still listen to the voice of Wisdom, which says, "Be content with such things as you
have." You now have a measure of trouble by reason of the straitness of your means. You might have more trouble with the breadthof your means if you had all you would like to have! It may not be quite easy to travel when your garments are too short,but it is much harder to keep them from dragging in the mire when they are too long. Though a single staff is such a conveniencethat a traveler without one may sigh for it, yet a dozen canes would be a load which would make the burdened man prefer, rather,to have no staff at all than to have so many to carry. I believe that it is an advantage to have wealth when wealth is keptin its right place, but the difficulty is that the horse often runs away with the rider and he who has wealth too often loseshis liberty and falls into sore bondage by becoming the slave of his own possessions! "Be content with such things as youhave." After all, contentment drinks the cream of life. So far as earthly things are concerned, he is the happiest, no-heis the richest man who is content with such things as he has!
The ripest apple in the garden grows on the tree of contentment. The garments which fit us best are the most fit for us andare the most comfortable to wear. He who is where he should be and where he would be has no cause to envy Solomon in all hisglory. He that lives in the Valley of Humiliation among the fragrant flowers and the sweet-voiced birds- and looks up to Heavenfor his treasure and to God for his home-he is the happiest of mortal men! God teach us how to shun the vice of covetousnessby cultivating the virtue of contentment! May the sweet flower choke the ill weed! "Let your conversation be without covetousness;and be content with such things as you have."
I asked a question, some years ago, of a person whom I believed to be one of the most covetous individuals in my acquaintance,and I received from him a singular reply. I said, "How was it that St. Francis de Sales, who was an eminent confessor, towhom persons went in the Romish church to confess their sins, found that persons confessed to him, in private, all sorts ofhorrible sins, such as adultery, drunkenness and murder, but never had one person confessed the sin of covetousness?" I askedthis friend whether he could tell me why it was and he gave me this answer which certainly did take me rather aback. He said,"I suppose it is because the sin is so extremely rare." Blind soul! I told him that, on the other hand, I feared the sin wasso very common that people did not know when they were covetous and that the man who was most covetous of all was the lastperson to suspect himself of it! I feel persuaded that it is so. Covetousness breeds an insensibility in the heart, a mortificationin the conscience, a blindness in the mind! It is as hard to convict a man of it as to make a deaf ear hear of its own deficiencies.You cannot make a horseleech see the impropriety of desiring to suck- to all your expostulations it renders the one answer,"Give, give."
Covetousness goes about in disguise. In the "Holy War," we read that when Diabolus sent traitors to lurk about the town ofMansoul, he sent among the rest a young fellow named Covetousness. But when he entered into the town of Man-soul, he tookthe name of Mr. Prudent Thrifty and he was engaged at once as a servant. I think it was in the house of Mr. Conscience, theRecorder. He seemed such a likely young man, this youth of the name of Prudent Thrifty. Now, mind you, Friends, when you aretaking a servant, that you do not engage one with the name of Prudent Thrifty, for I have information that he comes of thefamily of the Greedies and that his true name is, "Covetousness," though it may be long before you find it out! His near relationsare the Screws, the Skinflints, and the Grab-Alls, but he will not admit them, but always mentions his great-uncle, SquirePrudence and his mother's brother, Professor Economy, of the University of Accumulation. You will have need to carry youreyes in your head if you mean to practice the precept, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content withsuch things as you have."
I am exceedingly glad that the Apostle Paul had met with certain covetous Hebrews. This Epistle was written by a Hebrew ofthe Hebrews, to the Hebrews! And Hebrews, from Jacob, downwards, were never quite free from this sin. They are not so today.I am glad he met with some of them because, in giving an exhortation to them, he let drop one of the choicest pearls in allthe treasury of God's Word-a pearl which Gentiles will prize as much as their brethren, the Jews. Here it is-"For He has said,I will never leave you, nor forsake you." This is the reason why we must not be covetous! There is no room to be covetous,no excuse for being covetous, for God has said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." We ought to be content! If we arenot content, we are acting insanely, seeing the Lord has said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." If we have God'sPresence, God's help, God's Covenant favor, God's gracious Providence, God's Covenant engagements for our good-what more canwe need?
I. The first observation I am going to make upon this most weighty text is this-THAT A WORD OF THE LORD IS OF GREAT WEIGHTTO A BELIEVER. Paul said, "Let your conversation be without covetousness." And there was weight in that. He added, "Be contentwith such things as you have." And there was weight in that, also, for there was
Inspiration at the back of each sentence. But when he went on to say, "FOR HE HAS SAID," and to bring in the Person of Godas distinctly speaking to each one of us, saying, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," then he felt that he had broughtthe weightiest argument that he, himself, as an Inspired man, could think of! When Jehovah Himself speaks, there is no excusefor doubting, questioning, or, answering back! When God Himself deals with our souls, we are like wax under the seal-at leastwe desire to be so.
I want you, my Hearer, to discern whose child you are by this. I observe, growing up everywhere, a trifling with the Wordof God, a questioning of this and a questioning of that. I am not half so much concerned about the false doctrine that isbeing taught when the teacher of it thinks he gets it from the Bible, as I am when I find men treating the Bible as thoughit were just nothing at all, or, at least, an exceedingly small matter! If the Scripture stands in their way, our modern divinesdrive a tunnel through it as readily as men make a railroad through a hill! They toss the sacred Book on one side, as if itwere quite a common document which might be treated with indifference, since the age has outgrown its Bible. Now, mark this-bythis shall you know whether you are a child of God, or not-by the respect that you have to your Father's Word. If you havesmall respect for that Word, the evidences of a bastard are upon you!
If you tremble at God's Word. If you stand in awe of it. If you can read the 119th Psalm through and can join with David inintense delight in the Law of God, you have the traits of a true-born child of God-and the Book is yours- with all that itcontains! But if not, you are one of the children of that Evil One who questioned the Word of the Lord in the beginning andcontinues to deny it to this day! If you pick and choose in the teachings of Inspiration. If you believe this and slight that,you make yourself a judge of that which is your Judge-and you have not the tokens of a child of God! See well to this, forthere is more in this test than quibblers will allow. That which they lightly esteem is precious in the sight of the Lord!If you are a child of God, you may find it necessary to protest against what I say on my own authority, for what am I buta poor creature like yourself? If you are a child of God, you may have to stand out against even that which is a settled doctrineamong renowned divines, for we know no human authority in the Church of God!
But if you are a child of God, a single text will be enough for you. I set a solitary passage of God's Word against a Sanhedrimof philosophers! They may argue and dogmatize as they will, but one Word from the mouth of the Lord has more weight than alltheir counsels! If God's Light and God's Word are not in them, we need not pay any attention to them. Even the babe in Graceshall triumph, by the aid of God's Word, over the most learned and mighty of those who despise the Book! The day is comingwhen all this "modern thought" will pass away like the leaves in autumn. How soon shall the white frost of scientific infidelitypass from off the face of the Lord's green pastures! O Jerusalem, those who invade you shall be as the foam upon the waters!Where is the scribe? Where are the counters of the towers? God has made nothing of the great ones and made foolishness ofthe wisdom of this world! By this shall you know the children of God-one Word of God has weight and authority with them-butthe seed of the serpent still say, "Yes, has God said?"
See then the argument-"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for Hehas said." That "He has said" is the hammer which drives the nail home and clinches it with every true child
II. My second observation is this-THE WORD OF THE LORD MAY HAVE A THOUSAND FULFILMENTS. When man makes a promise and he keepsit, that promise is done with. You cannot expect a banker to pay a check a second time. The merchant who duly meets his bill,once, has met it once and for all, and the document is, from that time, of no value. But when God makes a promise He fulfilsit, fulfils it and fulfils it, again, and again, and again, to the same man and to hundreds of other men! The Lord's promiseonce given is never recalled! He does as good as give forth each Inspired promise every moment anew-He is forever promisingthat which is once promised in His Word! He has made a promise for all time when He has once made it. So long as there shallbe need of such a promise, God will never speak in secret, in a dark place of the earth and revoke what He has said-
"Engraved as in eternal brass
The mighty promise shines!
Nor can the po wers of darkness erase
Those everlasting lines"
Now, I do not think this particular promise is recorded anywhere in the Old Testament in these exact words. There are greatdifferences between the Hebrew and the Septuagint and, this particular Greek text, "He has said, I will never leave you, norforsake you," is not to be found with exact accuracy in either. I suspect that this is, in fact, a household
Word of the Lord our God, which, though you find the line of it in Scripture, need not to have been expressly recorded there,because, essentially, and from the very nature of things, it must be true of Jehovah our God. He who is the God of Grace andof Immutable Love, has virtually said, by His very Nature, to those that seek His face, "I will never leave you, nor forsakeyou." All that we know about God, says, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." All that we have ever experienced aboutGod, all that our fathers have experienced, goes to show that Jehovah does not forsake His people, nor cast away those whomHe did foreknow.
Still, this promise is in the Word of God-if not in the letter of it, exactly-yet in the full meaning and spirit of it, whichis more. For instance, we meet with this promise, probably, first of all, when Jacob fell asleep, after he had left his father'shouse, a lone man, to go off to a land which he had never seen. You will remember, in the 28th chapter of Genesis, how itwas recorded that Jacob lay down in a certain place which would seem to have been a lonely, rugged den. And as he lay andslept, he dreamed a dream and beheld a wondrous ladder set upon the earth, the top of which reached to Heaven and, behold,the angels of God ascended and descended on it! Then it was that the Lord said to him, "I am with you and will keep you inall places where you go and will bring you, again, into this land, for I will not leave you until I have done that which Ihave spoken to you of."
That is a blessed shape of the promise, is it not?-"I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to youof." That assurance meant-"I will bless you and I will bless your future seed. I will give you all the blessedness which youare able to receive at My hands and I will not leave you till I have fulfilled with you the Covenant of which you are theheir." So the Lord, in effect, says to each Believer at this hour, "I will not leave you till I have done that which I havespoken to you of." All the processes of Grace shall be carried out in each humble, trustful soul! Our heavenly Father maybe heard to say to each one of us by the Holy Spirit-"I have washed you from your sin in the precious blood of Christ. I willalso deliver you from the stain, the power and the indwelling of sin. I will perfect you. I will lead every thought captiveto My love. I have already made you to be a partaker of My Grace and you shall surely be a partaker of My Glory."
Come, child of God, is not that a blessed promise as Jacob received it? "Alas," you say, "I do not know how to get a similarhold upon the promise." Ah, that is the point! But there is a Word of the Lord in that vision which I should greatly likeyou to notice. The Lord said to Jacob, "I am the Lord God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereonyou lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed." Brothers and Sisters, if you can lie down on a promise, the Lord has givenit to you! There Jacob lies. He stretches himself out at full length and with all his weight, in all his weariness, he liesdown and goes to sleep. And by that act he takes possession of the land where he lies! What a sweet and sure mode of inheritingpromises, namely, by resting on them! Behold the promise and just say, "I believe this to be the sure and true Word of theLord. I will gladly lie down on it." Let your faith be serenely confident and then the promise rested on is yours! If youcan lie down upon a promise, it is yours. Oh, for faith, then, to stretch ourselves upon the blessed Word of our text at thismoment! He has said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." Let us each one say, O my God, I do believe this to be trueand I hereby venture my body, soul and spirit upon this promise! For time and for eternity I trust my all with You!
Furthermore, our text occurs in the Book of Deuteronomy. We find Moses delivering this same Word of God, or one even morenearly like it than the Genesis edition, to the whole house of Israel just before they were about to cross into the land ofCanaan to take possession of their inheritance. In the 31st of Deuteronomy, at the 6th verse, Moses said to the people, "Bestrong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord your God, He it is that does go with you; He willnot fail you, nor forsake you." When God's people are beginning a long and fierce warfare and when their enemies seem likegiants in their sight, let them sharpen their swords upon this assurance, "He has said, I will not fail you, nor forsake you."Go on, then, though you seem as grasshoppers in the sight of your foes and in your own sight! Though there is very much landto be possessed, yet plunge into the war without fear, for, "He has said, I will not fail you, nor forsake you." We are ableto overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, since the Lord our God will be with us as our strength and our song, our swordand our shield!
In this same chapter of Deuteronomy you get the same text given to Joshua, who was the leader of the host, as also in thefirst chapter of the Book of Joshua, at the fifth verse, where the Lord expressly tells him, "I will not fail you, nor forsakeyou." If you, my Brother, are called to be a leader among God's people, your heart, I know, will sometimes grow
very heavy. In the midst of my own band of worthies I am often sore put to it and you will be the same. You may meet defeatswhere you hoped for victories and faint hearts where you looked for heroes. But the Lord, who calls you to play the part ofa Joshua among His people, will be Jesus to you, if you are Joshua for Him! He will stand at your side as the Captain of theLord's host and you shall surely win the victory.
This is the same Word which was afterwards spoken to David in his gray old age when he was about to resign the scepter tohis son, Solomon. Solomon had to build a great and exceedingly magnificent house for the Lord-and it was no small enterprisefor so young a man. Therefore David, in the first Book of the Chronicles, at the 28th chapter, and the 20th verse, says tohim, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord, even my God, will be with you; Hewill not fail you, nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord." Beloved,God was with Solomon in his colossal enterprise! He did build the Temple. Whatever treasure was needed came in due time. Whateverart and skill were required-and the Temple needed skill of a very unusual order for that early age of the world-yet everythingwas forthcoming! Tyre and Sidon yielded themselves as the servants of the God of the Hebrews for the building of the Temple!To the astonishment of the age, the great Temple was built and became the Glory of all lands, for the Lord did not fail Hisservant!
You see, then, we have found four cases in which this promise was fulfilled. It held good after it had been already carriedout! Are you, my Brother, leaving your father's house as a young man? Are you about to enter upon a very perilous course oflife that will be set thick with trials, like the life of Jacob with Laban? "Fear not, for God will not fail you, nor forsakeyou." On the other hand, are you as a child of God fighting with inward sin, because the Canaanite is still in the land? Isthe inward spiritual battle very severe just now? Yet, "He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you." Or, are youresponsible for others? Are you called to watch for souls and to lead others to the conflict? Be not cast down nor disquieted,as you will be very apt to be if you look to yourself, for this is an office involving sore travail! Find your strength inthis Word of God-"He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you." Is it that God has put into your hands some greatwork to do for His name? Is your whole life to be as a temple, adorned with the riches of faith and the glories of hope andlove? Fear not, you shall finish your design! You shall make a temple for God to dwell in. Go boldly on in the matter to whichGod has called you! Go to the quarries, or to the gold mines and do as God bids you, for, "He has said, I will never leaveyou, nor forsake you."
So you see the promise is, in many ways, fulfilled. I have seen a check for a million pounds. I have seen only one in my life.I handled it. It is now on the wall of a friend's house, framed and glazed, but it is worth nothing as money. I suppose themillion pounds were paid-the check is so marked. It is of no use to anyone. If a thief were to get in and steal it, it wouldbe of no use to him. But God's promises are always useful-you may receive them and still receive them-over and over again!They stand forever true and they are true this night to you and to me! If the world shall last 10,000 years, as I hope itmay not, yet the promise will remain as a nail fastened in a sure place-"I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
Thus have we had two observations. And I will now make a third with great brevity.
III. The WORD OF THE LORD IS TO BE APPROPRIATED BY EACH CHILD OF GOD AND ACTED ON. "He
has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
I like this singularity of the person. You see, Paul had been saying in general, "Let your conversation be without covetousness;and be content with such things as you have." And then he changes from the plural and writes, "for He has said, I will neverleave you, nor forsake you." When the Lord speaks in this instance, His promise is in the singular. He speaks to us with that-Ido not know what to call it unless I use a French word-sweet tu-toiage, which is the language of endearment, the chosen speechof love. When one man speaks to another and means him to know that his promise is assuredly and altogether for him and thathe is most lovingly his friend, he cannot do better than use the singular and personal pronoun. "I will never leave you, norforsake you."
Take the "you," plural, out of all God's promises, and put the singular "you" in its place, for you are permitted to do so!We make fearful failures with God's promises through not appropriating them. I have heard of a Sunday school teacher who performedan experiment which I do not think I shall ever try with Sunday school children, for it might turn out exactly as it did inhis case. He had been trying to illustrate what faith was and, as he could not get it into the minds of his children, he tookhis watch, and he said, "Now, I will give you this watch, John. Will you have it?" John fell think-
ing what the teacher could mean and did not seize the treasure. He said to the next, "Henry, there is the watch. Will youhave it?" The boy replied, "No, thank you, Sir," with a very proper modesty. He went by several boys, till, at last a youngsterwho was not so wise or thoughtful as the others, but rather more believing, said, "Thank you, Sir," and put the watch intohis pocket! Then the other boys woke up to a startling fact-their companion had received a watch and they had not! One ofthe boys enquired of the teacher, "Is he to keep it?" "Of course he is," said the teacher, "I put the watch before you andsaid that I gave it to you, but none of you accepted it." "Oh," said the boy, "if I had known you meant it, I would have takenit." And all the boys were in a dreadful state of mind to think that they had lost the watch. Each one cried, "I did not thinkyou meant it, but I thought." Each one said, "Please, teacher, I thought." Each one had his theory except the simple littleboy who believed what he was told and got the watch!
Now, I wish that I could always be such a simple child as literally to believe what the Lord says and live by that belief.The Apostle drives us to such practical faith when he says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be contentwith such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
You smiled just now. I do not think that there was any harm in your doing so, but I will tell you what we must not smile at,and that is, I believe that nine out of 10 of you do not believe that God has said to you, "I will never leave you, nor forsakeyou." You think you do, but you do not! You also have got some most powerful reason why you dare not take the watch-I meanthe promise. You are so wise that you feel that you cannot expect the Lord to interfere in any way for you. No, no, no-eitheryou are not worthy of it (which is quite correct)-or else you do not like to take things quite so literally, or there is someother reason why you cannot literally accept the Divine assurance! There are, perhaps, one or two fools among us who havegot a hold of God's Word and actually believe it to be a matter of fact. But I do not think that many are so simple. Thosewho do so are generally poor obscure persons, but I should greatly envy them if I were not one of their number. With all myheart I do believe, "He will never leave me, nor forsake me."
When the service is over, I know who will go away with dancing feet and sparkling eyes, to sleep sweetly through the nightand wake tomorrow morning fresh as the lark with a song on his tongue. It is that poor simpleton of a Christian who reallybelieves his God and says, "Yes, He will never leave me, nor forsake me!" Though he has scarcely a shoe to his foot; thoughhe has scarcely a copper in his pocket; and though he is brought very low and has to live from hand to mouth, yet if he hasgrasped the promise, he has such a wellspring of delight within him that his soul shall be satisfied in time of drought andin the days of famine he shall be filled to the fullest! Oh, to be full of that blessed folly which treats God as He oughtto be treated and believes what He says and acts accordingly-and finds it to be true! If you have a sham god, a sham faith,sham troubles and sham experiences, why, you are, yourself, altogether a sham! But he that believes in a real God and hassuch a real faith in God as a child has in its mother shall find God's promises to be the verity of verities!
IV. A further observation is this-EACH WORD OF GOD HAS ITS OWN USEFULNESS. This particular Word,
that we have before us, is an illustration of this fact.
This particular text is an extraordinarily useful one, for, first, if you notice, it covers all time. "I will never leaveyou, nor forsake you." Well, if God will never leave me, He will not leave me now. If He will never leave me, no time is excludedfrom the word, "never." However dark or however bright, it says, "never." Suppose I am going to live till I am 90 or a 100-whatthen? You will call me a poor old soul, but He has said, "I will never leave you." Suppose I should be very sick, indeed,and my reason should begin to fail? Even then, "He has said, I will never leave you." Might there not occur a few minutesin which the Lord may forget me? Certainly not, "for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you." Is not this ablessed cover for the whole of life and all the exigencies of it? It matters not how long we live! We cannot outlive-"I willnever leave you." You that are familiar with the Greek text know that there are five negatives here. We cannot manage fivenegatives in English, but the Greeks find them not too large a handful. Here the negatives have a fivefold force. It is asthough it said, "I will not, not leave you; I will never, no never, forsake you." Perhaps a verse of one of our hymns hitsit off as nearly as can be-
"The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all Hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake."
Our text covers all space, as well as all time. Suppose we emigrate. Suppose we are compelled to go to a backwoods settlementof America or Canada, or away to Australia or New Zealand? This promise will go with us all the way-"I will never leave you,nor forsake you." Suppose we have to take to sea and lead the risky life of a sailor? We will sail with this at the masthead-"Iwill never leave you." But suppose we should get into prison? Does not Jesus visit those who are prisoners for His name'ssake? Has He not said, "I will never leave you?" Suppose we go up in the world and fall under great responsibilities? Thisgoes up with us, "I will never leave you." Suppose, more likely, we go down in the world- this goes down with us, "I willnever leave you, nor forsake you."
And then it covers all circumstances. "I will never leave you." I may get to be a very childish old body. "I will never leaveyou." But my dear children may all be dead and I may be quite a solitary person. "I will never leave you." But every friendmay turn tail and desert me. "I will never leave you." But I may be in such a state that nobody will acknowledge me. "I willnever leave you, nor forsake you."
I find the first Greek word has something of this meaning, "I will never sit loose by you," or, "I will never relax." Thatis the root of the word. I will never let you slip. I will never let you go, as it were, from Me though holding you loosely.
The other word has in it something of the idea of a person remaining in a spot and another person going away from him andso forsaking him. The Lord seems to say, "I will never leave you where I cannot be with you. I will never let you stand alone.I will always be with you."
This is a blessed, blessed promise! You see it takes in all contingencies, however serious. It takes in all anticipations,however doleful. It takes in all suppositions, and it includes all actualities. "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."Oh, dear! We sometimes sit down and imagine all manner of dreadful, dolorous things. I will not repeat what things I havesaid to myself, for I do not want you to know how foolish I sometimes am! But I have heard persons bemoaning themselves likethis-"Perhaps I may lose my job. I may not get another. I may starve." What comes of, "I will never leave you, nor forsakeyou?" Another says, "I fear I shall live to be very old. I do not know how I shall be supported. I shall get into the workhouseand have to be buried by the parish! I cannot bear to think of it." Friend, do you not, after all, believe the Word, "I willnever leave you, nor forsake you"?
I will tell you this morsel of my own faults. Sometimes I have said, "I suffer so much. I become so ill. I shall be so longaway from the Tabernacle. The congregation will be greatly injured. Perhaps I shall never be able to preach again." I havestruggled to this pulpit when I could hardly stand. And when the service was over and I have been weary, the wicked whisperhas come, "Yes, I shall soon be useless. I shall have to stay in my bed, or be wheeled about in a chair, and be a burden insteadof a help." This has seemed a dreadful prospect, but, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," has come in and I have shakenoff my fears and, by His Grace, have rejoiced in the Lord my God!
Suppose we were to lose our eyes? We would still see God and God would see us! Suppose we were to lose our hearing? We wouldstill hear our Father's voice! Suppose we should gradually fail in every faculty? The Holy Spirit would still comfort us andbe with us! Many children of God have been very happy in the most deplorable circumstances. And suppose we should die? Ah,well, that is the best thing that can be, for then we shall go Home to be with our heavenly Father forever!
I cannot, under the influence of this grand text, find room for doubt or fear! I cannot stand here and be miserable tonight!I am not going to attempt such a thing, but I cannot be despondent with such a text as this, "I will never leave you, norforsake you." I defy the devil, himself, to mention circumstances under which I ought to be miserable if this text is true!Child of God, nothing ought to make you unhappy when you can realize this precious text!
Some of you cannot bask in this sunshiny promise. It is not yours! The words are "I will never leave you." This implies thatGod must be with us-and if He is not with us, the promise is not ours. You cannot take home to yourself the promise, "I willnever leave you," if you have nothing to do with God! "I will not forsake you"-does not this, also, take something for granted?If the Lord has never been with you; if He has never forgiven you; if you have never sought His face; if you have never acceptedHis mercy in Christ Jesus, why, then, the promise is not yours and you have cause for trembling rather than for rejoicing!God is against you! He fits His arrow to the string. He prepares His bolts against you! Tremble, and submit yourself to Him!Oh, that you would do so at once-and trust in Jesus and live!
If the Lord is with you and if you are with Him, the promise stands forever, "I will never leave you." If you have trustedin Him-if you are trusting in Him-He has said, "I will never forsake you." Go away and rejoice, O child of God! You must havetroubles. Where could we go to have no cares? Unless a man could leap over the edge of the universe, or fly from under thiscloudy sky, how could he escape from care? It you were to dive to the bottom of the sea, this crooked serpent would bite you.If you could fly above the clouds, this eagle would pursue you. If you were to hide in the heart of the earth, the death dampwould overpower you. But with all actual trouble, with all possible trouble, with all impossible trouble, if you bear thispromise with you, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," you may sing hallelujahs both in life and in death! And withsuch music you may wing your way to the world of bliss! Let us begin the music right now by singing right heartily-
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all Creatures here below!
Praise Him above, you heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!"