Sermon 1916. The Great Sin Of Doing Nothing
A SERMON DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 5, 1886,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out." Numbers 32:23.
THERE are many dear friends engaged in business who can only reach the Tabernacle in time for the middle of the service and,therefore, they lose the reading of the Scriptures and the exposition which make up a whole with the sermon. This is a greatloss to them, but as it is not their fault, we must not let them suffer for it, so far as we can remedy the evil. With thisdesign let me explain to them that, according to the chapter which we have read and expounded, the Israelites had conqueredthe country possessed by Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites. And the tribes of Reuben and Gad, having greatquantities of cattle, thought that a country so rich in pasture would be eminently suitable for them and for their flocks.They were no bad judges, for the country was specially fitted for sheep farming.
They, therefore, asked Moses that they might have that country to be theirs. But Moses objected. Did they mean to sit stilland enjoy that country-and then leave the rest of the tribes to cross the Jordan and to fight for their possessions? If so,he declared that it was a very evil course to take-that they were selfish in seeking their own ease and that they would bediscouraging God's people and doing all sorts of mischief. He, therefore, proposed to them that if they were to have thatconquered country for their own, they should at least cross the river with their brethren and fight and continue fightinguntil the land on the other side of the Jordan had been cleared of its old inhabitants and the whole of Israel could takethe whole of the country-and each tribe could possess its portion.
He put it to them as a matter of honor and as a matter of right, that they ought to help in conquering the rest of the land.Why should they receive their lot without fighting and leave the other tribes to bear the toil and danger of war? Had notGod bid them all to go up and drive out the condemned Canaanites? How could they evade their duty without great sin? He wouldhave them take their full share in the war and on that condition they might have the rich meadows of Bashan, but not otherwise.This was clearly just and equitable and commended itself to those concerned. They at once agreed to the proposal and Moses,to enforce the agreement, told them in the words of the text, that if they did not keep their covenant and give all due aidto their brethren, then they would sin against God and they might be sure that their sin would find them out.
I remarked, in reading the chapter, that Moses spoke very wisely, very forcibly, very honestly-and the people were very pliant.They yielded to his persuasions and the difficulty which threatened to divide the nation was readily remedied. It is wellto have a wise leader. It is well for him when he leads a reasonable people! Oh, that I may be able, tonight, to speak a wordin season and may your ears be ready to hear it! May the Lord bring as gracious an issue out of this service as He did outof the discourse of His servant Moses! To His Holy Spirit shall be all the praise.
We shall speak at this time, first, of what was this sin? Secondly, what would be the chief sin of that sin? "If you willnot do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord." This would be the peculiar atrocity of their sin, that it would be leveledat God, Himself. And then there is a third point-What would the consequence of such sin be? "Be sure your sin will find youout." They would be guilty and would not long go unpunished.
I. First, then, WHAT WAS THIS SIN? What is this sin about which the Spirit of God says by Moses, "Be sure your sin will findyou out?" A learned divine has delivered a sermon upon the sin of murder from this text; another upon theft; another uponfalsehood. Now they are very good sermons, but they have nothing to do with this text if it is read as Moses uttered it. Ifyou take the text as it stands, there is nothing in it about murder, or theft, or anything of the kind. In fact, it is notabout what men do, but it is about what men do not do. The iniquity of doing nothing is a sin which is not so often
spoken of as it should be. A sin of omission is clearly aimed at in this warning-"If you will not do so, be sure your sinwill find you out."
What, then, was this sin? Remember that it is the sin of God's own people. It is not the sin of Egyptians and Philistines,but the sin of God's chosen nation and, therefore, this text is for you that belong to any of the tribes of Israel-you towhom God has given a portion among His beloved ones. It is to you, professed Christians and Church members, that the textcomes, "Be sure your sin will find you out." And what is that sin? It is, very sadly, common among professed Christians andneeds to be dealt with-it is the sin which leads anyone to forget his share in the holy war which is to be carried out forGod and for His Church. A great many wrongs are tangled together in this crime and we must try to separate them and set themin order before your eyes.
First, it was the sin of idleness and of self-indulgence. "We have cattle: here is a land that yields much pasture: let ushave this for our cattle and we will build folds for our sheep with the abundant stones that lie about, and we will repairthese cities of the Amorites, and we will dwell in them. They are nearly ready for us, and there shall our little ones dwellin comfort. We do not care about fighting: we have seen enough of it already in the wars with Sihon and Og. Reuben would ratherabide by the sheepfolds. Gad has more delight in the bleating of the sheep and in the folding of the lambs in his bosom thanin going forth to battle."
Alas, the tribe of Reuben is not dead and the tribe of Gad has not passed away! Many who are of the household of faith areequally indisposed to exertion, equally fond of ease. Hear them say, "Thank God we are safe! We have passed from death untolife. We have named the name of Christ. We are washed in His precious blood and, therefore, we are secure." Then, with a strangeinconsistency, they permit the evil of the flesh to crave carnal ease and they cry, "Soul, you have much goods laid up formany years! Take your ease-eat, drink and be merry!" Spiritual self-indulgence is a monstrous evil, yet we see it all around.On Sunday these loafers must be well fed. They look out for such sermons as will feed their souls. The thought does not occurto these people that there is something else to be done besides feeding.
Soul-saving is pushed into the background! The crowds are perishing at their gates! The multitudes with their sins defilethe air! The age is getting worse and worse-and man, by a process of evolution-is evolving a devil! And yet these people wantpleasant things preached to them! They eat the fat, drink the sweet and they crowd to the feast of fat things full of marrowand of wines on the lees well refined-spiritual festivals are their delight! Sermons, conferences, Bible reading, and so forth,are sought after, but regular service in ordinary ways is neglected. Not a hand's turn will they do! They gird on no armor,they grasp no sword, they wield no sling, they throw no stone. No, they have gotten their possession, they know they have,and they sit down in carnal security, satisfied to do nothing!
They neither work for life, nor from life-they are absolute sluggards, as lazy as they are long! Nowhere are they at homeexcept where they can enjoy themselves and take things easy. They love their beds, but the Lord's fields they will neitherplow nor reap. This is the sin pointed out in the text-"If you do not go forth to the battles of the Lord, and contend forthe Lord God and for His people, you do sin against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out." The sin of doing nothingis about the biggest of all sins, for it involves most of the others! The sin of sitting still while your Brethren go forthto war, breaks both tables of the Law and has in it a huge idolatry of self, which neither allows love to God or man. Horribleidleness! God save us from it!
This sin may be viewed under another aspect, as selfishness and unbrotherly. Gad and Reuben ask to have their inheritanceat once and to make themselves comfortable in Bashan, on this side Jordan. What about Judah, Levi, Simeon, Benjamin and allthe rest of the tribes? How are they to get their inheritance? They do not care, but it is evident that Ba-shan is suitablefor them with their multitude of cattle! Some of them reply, "You see, they must look to themselves, as the proverb has it,'Every man for himself and God for us all.'" Did I not hear someone in the company say, "Am I my brother's keeper?" I knowthat gentleman! I heard his voice years ago. His name is Cain and I have this to say to him-it is true that he is not hisbrother's keeper, but he is his brother's killer. Every man is either the keeper of his brother, or the destroyer of his brother!Soul-murder can be worked without an act or even a will-it can be and is constantly accomplished by neglect! Yonder perishingheathen-does not the Lord enquire, "Who slew all these?" The millions of this city unevangelized-who is guilty of their blood?Are not idle Christians starving the multitude by refusing to hand out the Bread of Life? Is not this a grievous sin?
"But wait," says another, "they can conquer the land themselves. God is with them and He can do His own work and, therefore,I do not see that I need trouble myself about other people." That is selfishness and selfishness is never worse than whenit puts on the garb of religion! The boy at school who selfishly feeds himself upon his luxuries and gives nothing to hisyoung companions is generally their ridicule. He is the greedy boy whom all despise. A man with large stores who, in timeof famine, would feed himself but never think of the poor, is despised among men! But what shall I say of the man who, concerningthe things of the soul-concerning Heaven, Hell, Christ and eternity-is so selfish that, being saved himself, he cares notone jot for others? He is so unbrotherly that I am half afraid he is no Brother! He is so inhuman that I can scarcely thinka touch of the life of Christ can ever have quickened him! How is he a Christian who is not like Christ, but who just feels,"Well, I am all right and if I look to myself, other people must look to themselves. God will see to them all, no doubt! Ihave nothing to do with it"?
Now, unless we shake off that horrible selfishness and feel that the very essence of our religion lies in love and that oneof the first fruits of it is to make us care about the salvation of our fellow men-unless, I say, we shake that off and goforth to fight the Lord's battles-then this text very solemnly threatens us. "If you will not do so, behold, you have sinnedagainst the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out." O my Brothers and Sisters, hear this text and let it operate withsalutary influence to produce in you constant effort for the salvation of those around you!
But with this there was mingled ingratitude of a very dark order. These children of Gad and Reuben would appropriate to themselveslands for which all the Israelites had labored. God had led them forth to battle and they had conquered Sihon and Og. Andnow, these men would take possession of what others have struggled for, but they are not, themselves, to fight. This is vileingratitude and I fear it is common among us at this very day. How came we to be Christians at all? Instrumentally, it isthrough those holy missionaries who won our fathers from the cruel worship of the Druids and afterwards from the fierce dominionof Woden and Thor. We must also trace our Gospel light to those stakes at Smithfield, where men of God counted not their livesdear to them, but willingly gave up all they had-and their lives, also-by a painful death that they might keep the Truth ofGod alive in the land.
Some of you came to be Christians through the earnest labors of men who preached by the roadside, or by the loving entreatiesof tender mothers who wept you to the Savior, or by the faithful ministry of some Brother from the pulpit, or the equallyfaithful teaching of an earnest Sunday school teacher. We owe under God much to past ages and much to present laborers! Thereis no man among us but stands immensely indebted to the Church of God. Though God is our Father, yet the Church is our motherand through her various agencies we have been born to God. Do we acknowledge all this debt and are we not going to pay it?Are we to receive all and then give out nothing in return? Are we to be like candles burning under bushels? Are we to wasteour life by much receiving and little distributing? This will never do! This will not be life, but death!
I do not charge this upon anybody, personally, but if this cap fits anybody, pray let him wear it! If any man must acknowledgehis obligation to the Church of God and yet he is not repaying it, let him cover his face for very shame! Will you not passon the Light you have received? Verily you deserves to perish in darkness! Are you fed and will you not break your bread tothe hungry, or pass a cup of cold water to the thirsty? What are you doing, strange ingrate? Will you simply be a stagnantreservoir into which streams of mercy never fall out of you, to run again, but to stand and putrefy in selfishness? Rememberthe Dead Sea and tremble, lest you be like it-a pool accursed and cursing all around you! O God, have mercy upon the greatmass of Your professing people to whom this must be solemnly applied-that they do receive, but give back to You and to Yourcause so little either of time, substance, talent, prayer, or anything else!
The text, when spiritually interpreted, says concerning our personal service in the conquest of the world for Christ- "ifyou do not so, behold you have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out."
Again, we may view this from another point of view. It is the sin of untruthfulness. These people pledged themselves thatthey would go forth with the other tribes and that they would not return to their own homes until the whole of the campaignwas ended. Now, if after that they did not go to war and did not fight to the close of it, then they would be guilty of abarefaced lie! It is a wretched thing for a man to be a covenant-breaker. It is sacrilege for any man to lie, not only untoman, but unto God. I would speak very tenderly, but if any man has been converted from the error of his ways, by that veryconversion he is bound to serve the Lord. If he has been baptized as a Believer, by that Baptism he declared that he was deadto the world and buried to it-that from that day on he might live in newness of life.
Now, if he lives only to make money and hoard it, and he does nothing for God's Church and for poor sinners, is not his Baptisma lie? Such a baptized person was buried, but he was never dead! Is not this to turn Baptism into a farce? He gave himselfup to the Church of God-he became a member of it-and by that act and deed he pledged himself to do all he could for its growthand its prosperity. And if he does nothing, he is a deceiver. If his joining a Church meant anything, it meant that he wouldtake part in the common service of God. A do-nothing professor is a merely nominal member and a nominal member is a real hindrance!He neither contributes, nor prays, nor works, nor agonizes for souls, nor takes any part in Christian service-and yet he partakesin all the privileges of the Church! Is this fair? What is the use of him? He sits and hears and sometimes sleeps under thesermon. That is all. Is not his union with the Church a practical lie? I will not say so, but I will ask the question. Itseems to me that if I belong to the Israelites and they are sent by God to conquer a country-and I do not go forth to thewar with them and take my part in the conflict-I am not a true Israelite. I am unworthy of my nation! I am disloyal to thestandard! I am false to my fellow soldiers. I think it is so-don't you?
Having entered the Christian ministry, if I did nothing in it, I should feel that I disgraced it. If I simply tried to enjoyreligion without an effort to spread it, I ought to be drummed out of the army of preachers. If there are any in the Churchwho have talent that they do not use for God, or money which they do not lay out for Christ, or time which they do not usefor holy purposes, they are sinning and their sin will find them out. Your buried talent, will it not rust? And rusting, willit not create within your spirits a most horrible disease and be a peril to you? Must it not be so? Are they not guilty ofan acted lie before high Heaven who call themselves servants of God and yet do not serve Him? You often sing-
"'Tis done! The great transaction's done!
I am my Lord's, and He is mine.
He drew me and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice Divine.
High Heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear.
Till in life's latest hour I bow,
And bless in death a bond so dear." Is that hymn true? Do you mean those verses, or do you mock God? You have all sung thehymn many times and mark, "Happy day! Happy day!" the chorus. But is your singing true or false? If any man or woman amongyou shall, after such a song sink back into himself and do nothing for his Lord, what truth is there in him? God save us fromusing our lips to mock His holy name! It can be little short of blasphemy to sing such words and yet live a selfish, indolentlife. Will a man thus insult his God? O Sirs, I beseech you make such language true, or else have done with it-lest the recordof it destroy your souls!
Once more and I will have done with this painful subject. What would their sin be? According to Moses it would be a graveinjury to others. Do you not notice how he put it to them? "Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben,Shall your brethren go to war, and shall you sit here?" What an example to set! If one Christian man is right in never joininga Christian Church, then all other Christian men would be right in not doing so-and there would be no visible Christian Church!Do you not see, you non-professing Believers, that your example is destructive of all Church life? What are you doing? Ifone Christian man, with the talent to preach, is right in not preaching, then other Christian men have a right to trifle inthe same way-and then there would be no ministry left!
An idler is a great waster and makes others, wasters, too-his example is likely to make all around him as indolent as himself.I notice in our Churches that a few earnest men and women lead the way and others are sweetly drawn to follow them. How preciousare the earnest few in a Christian community! David knew the value of the first three in his band. But if the leading spiritsare dead, cold, indifferent-what happens? Why, lethargy spreads over the whole! I am sorry to say that I hear of instancesin which a minister laments, "I labor with all my might, but I am persuaded that nothing will ever be done while Mr. So-and-Sois here." He is often a cold-blooded deacon, or a purse-proud member. When you come to know him, you feel, "While there issuch a great big iceberg floating close to the shore, the garden by the sea must be frostbitten-nothing can grow."
It were a pity that any of us should freeze others. God save us from it! "Oh," says one, "nobody knows me and, therefore,I cannot have much influence either for good or for evil." Not over your own child-your daughter, your son?
That influence which you have over even one or two little ones may spread far further than you imagine. We cannot calculatethe range of moral influence-it is immeasurable! I suppose that there is not a single moving atom of matter which does notinfluence, in some measure, the entire universe. One atom collides with another and that with another-and so it reaches theremotest star. Whether we do or do not do, what we do or do not do, will have an influence upon all that are round us-perhapsto all eternity.
Perhaps the word I speak tonight shall thrill when yonder sun has burned out like a coal and the moon has become black assackcloth of hair. I am not sure but that our thoughts upon our bed may throb throughout the ages in their incessant results."None of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself-for good or for evil we are yoked with the universe and there isno possibility of severance. There is much influence for evil in an idle example-possibly such an example would not be setby certain persons if they would but think of the consequences. To such consideration of consequences I invite all whose gravestfault is forbearing to do good. O barren tree, do not excuse yourself because you do not drip with poison like the upas! Itis crime enough that you cumber the ground!
Moses goes on to remark that if these people did not go forth to war they would discourage all the rest. "Therefore discourageyou the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them?" It is no slight sinto discourage holy zeal and perseverance in others. May we never be guilty of killing holy desires even in children! How oftenhas a burning desire in a boy's heart been quenched by his own father who has thought him too impulsive or too ardent! Howfrequently the conversation of a friend, so called, has dried up the springs of holy desire in the person with whom he hasconversed! Let it not be so. Yet without cold words, our chill neglects may freeze. I know a terrace where the shutting upof one or two shops has a deadening effect upon the trade of the other shops. Somehow, the closed shutters give a gloomy lookto the place and customers are repelled. Does not the same thing happen to groups of workers when one grows idle? Does notthe one dull brother deaden the rest?
We cannot neglect our own gardens without injuring our neighbors. Do you live anywhere near a house that is not let, whichhas a back garden left to run to waste? All manner of seeds are blown over upon your ground and, though you keep the hoe going,the weeds baffle you, for there is such a nursery for them just over the wall! One mechanic coming late among a set of workmenmay throw the whole company out of order for the day. One railway truck off the rails may block the entire system. Dependupon it, if we are not serving the Lord our God, we are committing the sin of discouraging our fellow men. They are more likelyto imitate our lethargy than our energy! Why should we wish to hinder others from being earnest? How dare we rob God of theservices of others by our own neglect? O God, deliver us from this sin!
If I had preached a sermon about murder or theft, you would all have escaped the lash, but few of us will be without rebuke,now that I have kept the text in the setting in which God originally put it-and in which He meant it to be presented for ourrebuke and exhortation!
II. Secondly, let us carefully notice WHAT WAS THE CHIEF SIN IN THIS SIN? Of course, if the Reubenites did not keep theirsolemn agreement to go over the Jordan and help their Brethren, they would sin against their Brethren, but this is not theoffense which rises first to the mind of Moses. Moses overlooks the lesser, because he knows it to be comprehended in thegreater-and he says, "Behold, you have sinned against the Lord." In this, he anticipated the confession of David, "againstYou, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight." To refuse to help their Brethren would be disobedience tothe Lord! Did He not command all Israel to drive out the Canaanites? In like manner, neglect of holy work is positive sinagainst the Lord. It is disobedience against the Lord not to be preaching His Truth if we are able to do so. Did not our Lordsay, "Go you into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature?" This command was not confined to a dozen or so,but was meant for all His people, as they have opportunity and ability. We who hear the Gospel are bid to proclaim it, forit is written, "Let him that hears say, Come." The hearer of the Gospel is bound to be a repeater of the Gospel! We are allcalled upon, as we know the Lord, to tell others what the Lord has told us-and if we do not-we are guilty of disobedienceto a great Gospel precept.
We are certainly guilty, dear Friends, of ingratitude, if, as I have already said, we owe so much to other men and yet donot seek to bless mankind. But chiefly we owe everything to the Grace of God and, if God has given us Grace in our own heartsand saved us with the precious blood of the Only-Begotten, how can we sit still and allow others to perish? As we value salvation,we are under bonds to make it known. We rejoice to be in the Kingdom of God-should we not
spend and be spent for the growth of that Kingdom? He that does not bear arms in this war is a traitor to his Sovereign Lord.
There would be sin against God in the conduct of these people if they did not aid in the conquest of Canaan, for they wouldbe dividing God's Israel. Shall the Lord's heritage be torn in two? God meant them all to stay together. They all came outof Egypt together; they all marched through the wilderness together and now He meant them to fight His battles together. Werethese to take their inheritance and live among the sheepcotes and leave the other ten and a half tribes to go over Jordanand wage the war alone? This would be scattering the family of God! Can it be that any of us are dividing the Church of God,that is, dividing it into drones and workers? This would be a terrible division, but I fear that it already exists. It isapparent to those who are able to observe and it is mourned over by those who are jealous for the God of Israel. Half theschisms in churches arise out of the real division which exists between idlers and workers. Mind this. Be not sowers of divisionby being busybodies working not at all!
If you are not serving the Lord, you are sinning against the sacred Trinity. You sin against our Father who would have youdo good and be imitators of Him as dear children. You sin against the Son of God who has bought you with a price that youmight be zealous for His Glory. You sin against the Holy Spirit whose impulses are not to sleep and idleness, but to quickeningand to holiness. May we no longer sin against the Lord by refusing to perform His will!
III. We have now reached the last point and the point that is most serious-WHAT WILL COME OF THIS SIN OF
DOING NOTHING? What will come of it? "Be sure your sin will find you out." Now, as the time is nearly gone, I will not domore than show that these Gadites and Reubenites would be sure to be found out by their own neglect. Their sin would findthem out to their shame and sorrow if they did not lend all their strength to their Brethren according to their promise.
It would find them out thusly-they would be ill at ease. One of these days their sin would leap upon their consciences asa lion on its prey. They would wake up and say, "We were wrong. We were bound to have taken our share in that war"-and everyman among them that was good for anything would be troubled in heart because he had failed to do his duty in the hour of need.He would feel uneasy. He would not want anybody to point him out, but he would point himself out and he would say to himself,"I failed in that case. I know I did. I acted very wrongly. I ought to have been with Joshua chasing out those Canaanites.I received my own portion of the land and ought, therefore, to have helped others to win their portions."
When conscience was thus awakened, they would also feel themselves to be mean and despicable. As king after king was conqueredand the notes of victory were heard all over Canaan, they would think themselves mice rather than men to have shunned so gloriousa conflict. They would feel disgraced by their own inaction. Their manhood would be held cheap by the other tribes-in fact,they would become a by-word and a proverb-as men do who are notoriously greedy and selfish. Surely it is an intolerable disgraceto anyone to profess to be a man of God and to have no care about the souls of others, while they are perishing by millions!
More than that, the tribes who went not to the war would be enfeebled by their own inaction. God would have His people learnwar, but if these men did not go to the fight, they would not be soldierly and they would not be able to take care of themselveswhen their land was invaded. How much of sacred education we miss when we turn away from the service of God! I believe thatno man understands salvation so well as the man who, having tasted it for himself, has also preached it to those about him.If you want to know the evil of the human heart, try to do good to the unconverted and endeavor to guide the unbeliever toJesus.
Get a dozen girls around you, my Sister, and watch the workings of their hearts as you seek to lead them to Christ- and youwill learn much more than you knew before! My dear Brother, gather a number of youths about you and observe their feelingand conduct while you seek their conversion. You will soon know the depravity of human nature if you watch for souls for alittle season-and if you get souls converted and act as a spiritual father to them-you will soon see how much they need theHoly Spirit to keep them and how much you need Him to keep you, also, for your patience will be tried! You will learn boththe sweet and the bitter of the things of God by being engaged in Christ's service.
Jesus says, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me"-service is a yoke we must bear in order to learn of Christ. The only wayto learn to swim is to get into the water. To be a soldier and never know the smell of gunpowder is impossible! At least suchsoldiers are little to be relied on in case of war. No, no-our sin, if we do nothing, will find us out in
our being enfeebled, in our being disgraced, in our feeling that we are mean and in the accusation of our conscience. Letus find this sin out and shake ourselves free from it before it finds us out!
Their sin would also have found them out, had they fallen into it, because they would have been divided from the rest of God'sIsrael. If they had not gone across the Jordan to fight, the ten and a half tribes would have always said, "What have we todo with you? The Jordan rolls between us and so let it. We do not want any connection with those who acted so basely to usin our hour of need." They would practically have cut themselves off from union with the Israel of God and they would havesecured to themselves the loss of all fellowship with earnest men. Those who are non-workers lose much by not keeping pacewith those who are running the heavenly race. The active are happy-the hand of the diligent makes rich in a spiritual sense.There is that which withholds more than is meet and it tends to poverty-I am sure it is so in a spiritual sense.
To come more practically home, beloved Brothers and Sisters, if you and I are not serving the Lord, our sin will find us out.It will find us out perhaps in this way. There will be many added to the Church and God will prosper it, and we shall hearof it, but we shall feel no joy in it. We had no finger in the work and we shall find no comfort in the result. We did notpoint out the way to troubled consciences. We never went to early morning Prayer Meetings, nor to any Prayer Meetings, topray for a blessing. We never spoke a word or even gave a tract away and, therefore, we shall see the blessing with our eyes,but we shall not eat of it. While God's people lift up their loud hallelujahs of joy, we shall only mourn, "My leanness, myleanness, woe unto me!" It is no joy to see a harvest reaped from fields which we refused to plow.
It may be that you will begin to lose all the sweetness of public services. By doing nothing you lose your appetite. Manya person who has no appetite needs a wise doctor to say to him, "Of course you cannot eat, for you do not work. Exercise yourselfand your appetite will return." He that earns his breakfast, enjoys his breakfast. And he who labors for Christ finds thatthe services of the sanctuary are exceedingly sweet to him. I know some dear Brothers here who cannot get to a Sunday sermonbecause they have something to do for their Lord throughout the Sabbath-therefore they drop in to this Thursday evening sermon.Thus they gain a Sabbath in the middle of the week which is exceedingly sweet to them. They can only attend one service onSunday, but that is doubly refreshing to them. They are engaged at the Ragged School, or at the corner of the street wherethey are accustomed to preach-and the Lord makes up to them their lost opportunities. Believe me, when they do get a meal,they heartily appreciate it, for they come with an appetite which they have gathered in the service of their Master! If youdo not work, your sin will find you out in the loss of enjoyment when present at the means of Grace.
I have known this sin find people out in their families. There is a Christian man-we honor and love him-but he has a son thatis a drunk. Did his good father ever bear any protest against strong drink in all his life? No. He, of course, did not likethe blue ribbon. I will not dispute about total abstinence, but I do not feel much astonished at a boy drinking much whenhe sees his godly father regularly drink a little. Every man should labor by precept and example to put down intemperanceand he who does not do so may be sure that his sin will find him out!
Here is another. His children have all grown up thoughtless, careless, giddy. He took them to his place of worship and henow enquires, "Why are they not converted?" Did he ever take them, one by one, and pray with them? Did he ever speak earnestlyto each boy and each girl-and labor for the conversion of each one? I am afraid that in many cases nothing of the sort hasbeen attempted! Certain mistaken individuals almost think it wrong to seek the conversion of their children while they arechildren-and their sin finds them out when they see them growing up in ungodliness.
Besides, if we do not look after God's children, it may be that He will not look after ours. "No," says God, "there were otherpeople's children in the streets and you had no concern about them-why should your children fare better? You never openeda Ragged School for the poor, why should I bless you? There were men in your employment by whom you gained your living, butyou never spoke to them about their souls, nor cared whether they were saved or damned. And I am not going to look after yourfamily when you have no concern for Mine." "Be sure your sin will find you out."
I do not know how this warning may come home to any Brother or Sister here who has been idling, but it is better that my warningshould find him out than that his sin should find him out! I do not know whether there are any idlers here, though I havea pretty shrewd guess that there are. Friends, neglect of the Lord's work will come home to you and I will tell you when itwill come to you, if it does not do so before. When you are sick and ill, your faith in Christ will
bring you great comfort, but you will be sorrowful if you have to say to yourself, "Oh, that I had served God while I wasyoung!"
A friend said to me not long ago, "My dear Sir, you are often laid aside will illness and, no doubt, the reason is the imprudentmanner in which you worked away in your youth. You preached 10 times in a week almost all the year round, year after year,and of course you wore yourself out." "Oh, yes," I said, "it may be so, but I do not regret it in the least! Thank God, Ipreached with all my might all over the land when I could do so. And I would, again, if I could only get renewed strength!"If I cannot work so much as in earlier days, I have not the misery of saying, "I wasted my opportunities and spent my bestdays in ease." I do say to myself, "Would God I had done more, or had done it better, but I am thankful to be able to exoneratemyself from all charge of sloth." If those of us who do much have to whip ourselves a bit, what should those do who practicallydo nothing at all and discourage others? What can idlers do but fear that their sin will find them out?
Thus far have I spoken to God's people and if you think that this is rather rough upon them, what shall I say to you who donot love the Lord at all? O Sirs, if the fan that is in Christ's hand purges His own floor in this stern way, what will thatfan do with you who are as chaff to the wheat? If He sits here as a Refiner and purifies the sons of Levi, and puts even thegold into the fire, what will become of the dross? "If the righteous scarcely are saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinnerappear?" If the language of God is sharp, even, to His own Beloved because He says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:be zealous therefore, and repent," what will His language be to those who are not His children, but are living in open rebellionagainst Him?
Tremble, you that forget God! Hear His own Words-they are none of mine-"Now consider this, you that forget God, lest I tearyou in pieces, and there be none to deliver." God help you to flee from the sin of doing nothing! The Lord Jesus Christ, Himself,lead you into the Father's service! Amen.