Sermon 1952. The Holy Spirit-the Need of the Age
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MARCH 13, 1887,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"O you that are named the House of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? are these His doings? Do not My words do goodto him that walks uprightly?" Micah 2:7.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, what a stern rebuke to the people of Israel is contained in the title with which the Prophet addressedthem-"O you that are named the House of Jacob"! It is as much as to say to them-"You wear the name, but you do not bear thecharacter of Jacob." It is the Old Testament version of the New Testament saying, "You have a name to live and are dead."They gloried that they were the seed of Israel! They vaunted the peculiar privileges which came to them as the descendantsof God's honored and chosen servant Jacob! But they did not act in the same way as Jacob would have acted-they were devoidof Jacob's faith in Jehovah, they knew nothing of Jacob's power of prayer-and nothing of his reliance upon the Covenant.
The words of Micah imply that the descendants of Jacob in his day were proud of the name, "House of Jacob," but that theywere not worthy of it. Nothing is more mischievous than to cling to a name when the thing for which it stands has disappeared.May we never come to such a stage of declension that even the Spirit of God will be compelled, in speaking to us, to say,"O you that are called the Church of God!" To be named Christians, but not to be Christians, is to be deceivers or deceived!The name brings with it great responsibility and if it is a name, only, it brings with it terrible condemnation! It is a crimeagainst the Truth of God if we dare to take the name of His people when we are not His people. It is a robbery of honor fromthose to whom it is due. It is a practical lie against the Holy Spirit! It is a defamation of the character of the bride ofChrist to take the name of Christian when the Spirit of Christ is not among us! This is to honor Christ with our lips anddisgrace Him by our lives!
What is this but to repeat the crime of Judas and betray the Son of Man with a kiss? Brothers and Sisters, I say again, maywe never come to this! Truths, not names, facts, not professions, are to be the first consideration! Better to be true toGod and bear the names of reproach which the adversary is so apt to coin, than to be false to our Lord and yet to be decoratedwith the names of saints and regarded as the most orthodox of Believers. Whether named, "the House of Jacob," or not, letus be wrestlers like Jacob and like he, may we come off as prevailing princes-the true Israel of God!
When the Lord found His chosen people to be in such a state that they had rather the name than the character of His people,He spoke to them by the Spirit of the Lord. Was not this because their restoration must come from that direction? Was nottheir evil spirit to be removed by the Lord's good Spirit? "O you that are named the House of Jacob, is the Spirit of theLord straitened?" I believe, Brothers and Sisters, that whenever the Church of God declines, one of the most effectual waysof reviving her is to preach much Truth concerning the Holy Spirit. After all, He is the very breath of the Church. Wherethe Spirit of God is, there is power! If the Spirit is withdrawn, then the vitality of godliness begins to decline and theenergy thereof is near to dying out. If we, ourselves, feel that we are backsliding, let us turn to the Spirit of God, crying,"Quicken me in Your way."
If we sorrowfully perceive that any Church is growing lukewarm, be it our prayer that the Holy Spirit may work graciouslyfor its revival. Let us direct the attention of our fellow Christians under declension to the Spirit of God. They are notstraitened in Him, but in themselves! Let them turn to Him for enlargement. It is He alone who can quicken us and strengthenthe things which remain which are ready to die. I admire the wisdom of God here, that when speaking by the Prophet, He rebukesthe backsliding of the people and He immediately directs their minds to the Holy Spirit who can
bring them back from their wanderings and cause them to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called. Let us learnfrom this Divine Wisdom and, in lowly reverence and earnest faith, let us look to the Spirit of the Lord.
In speaking to Israel upon the Spirit of God, the Prophet Micah uses the remarkable language in our text, upon which I wouldnow speak to you. "O you that are named the House of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Are these His doings? Donot My words do good to him that walks uprightly?" May the Holy Spirit help me to speak and you to hear!
I. And, first, I think we may consider these words to have been spoken TO DENOUNCE THOSE WHO WOULD CONTROL THE SPIRIT OF GOD."Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" Can you hold Him a captive and make Him speak at your dictation?
On turning to the connection you will find that there were certain Prophets sent of God to Israel who were unpopular. Themessage which they brought was not acceptable-the people could not endure it and so we read in the sixth verse-"Prophesy younot, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame." The words of theseProphets came so home to their consciences and made them so ashamed of themselves, that they said, "Do not prophesy! We wishnot to hear you." To these Micah replies, "Is the Spirit of the Lord to be straitened by you?"
There were some in those days who would altogether have silenced the Spirit. They would banish all spiritual teaching fromthe earth, that the voice of human wisdom might be not contradicted. But can they silence the Spirit of God? Has He not continuallyspoken according to His own will and will He not continue to do so? Is He not the free Spirit who, like the wind, blows whereHe wishes? If the adversaries could have slain with the sword all the messengers of God, would He not have found others? Andif these, also, had been killed, could He not, out of stones, have raised up heralds of His Truth? While the Scriptures remain,the Holy Spirit will never be without a voice to the sons of men! And while He remains, those Scriptures will not be leftwithout honest hearts and tongues to expound and enforce them! Is it possible for men anywhere to silence the Spirit of God?They may be guilty of the crime because they desire to commit it and attempt to do so, but yet, its accomplishment is beyondtheir reach. They may "quench the Spirit" in this and that man, but not in those in whom He effectually works. The AlmightySpirit may be resisted, but He will not be defeated! As well might men attempt to stop the shining of the sun, or seal upthe winds, or still the pulsing of the tides, as effectually to straiten the Spirit of the Lord-
"When God makes bare His arm,
Who can His work withstand?" Jehovah speaks and it is done-who shall resist His Word? When His Spirit attends that Word, shallit fall to the ground? "My Word," says He, "shall not return unto Me void"-and all the sinners on earth and all the devilsin Hell cannot alter that grand decree! Every now and then there seems to be a lull in the history of holy work, a silencefrom God, as if He were wearying of men and would speak no longer to them. But before long, in some unexpected quarter, thevoice of the Lord is heard once more-some earnest soul breaks the awful silence of spiritual death and again the adversaryis defeated! Outbursts of the great Spirit of Life, and Light, and Truth comes at the Divine will-when men least look forit or desire it! When Jesus has been crucified, even then the Holy Spirit descends, and the victories of the Cross begin.No, my Brethren, the Spirit of the Lord is not silenced-the voice of the Lord is heard above the tumults of the people!
The apostate Israelites also tried to straiten the Spirit of God by only allowing certain persons to speak in His name. Theywould have a choice of their Prophets-and a bad choice, too. See in the 11th verse-"If a man should walk in a false spiritand speak a lie, saying, I will prophesy unto you of wine and of strong drink, even he shall be the prophet of this people."They had a liking for preachers who would indulge their lusts, pander to their passions and swell their pride with windy flatteries!This age also inclines greatly to those who have cast off the restraints of God's Revelation and utter the flattering inventionsof their own boasted "thought." Your liberal spirits, your large-hearted men, your despisers of the old and hunters afterthe new-these are the idols of many! As for those who would urge upon men separation from the world and holiness to the Lord,they are Puritans and out of date! In Micah's days, Israel would only hear false prophets-the rest they would not listen to."What?" asks Micah, "is the Spirit of the Lord then to be shut up to speak to you by such men as you would choose? Is He notto speak by whomever He pleases?"
It is the tendency of churches in all ages to fetter the free Spirit. Now they are afraid that we shall have too many preachersand they would restrain their number by a sort of trades-union! In certain churches none must speak in God's name unless theyhave gone through a certain humanly-prescribed preparation and have been ordained after a regulation manner-the Spirit ofGod may speak by the ordained, but He must not speak by others! In my inmost soul I treasure the liberty of prophesying. Notthe right of every man to speak in the name of the Spirit, but the right of the Spirit to speak by whomever He pleases! Hewill rest on some rather than on others and God forbid that we should straiten His Sovereignty! Lord, send by whomever Youwill send! Choose whom You will to the sacred office of ministers of God! Among the poor and illiterate the Spirit of Godhas had voices as clear and bold as among the educated and refined-and He will have them still, for He is not straitened-andit is the way of Him to use instruments which pour contempt upon all the vain-glory of men! He anoints His own to bear witnessfor His Truth by life and lips-these the professing church may criticize and even reject, saying, "The Lord has not spokenby these," but the Word of the Lord will stand, notwithstanding the judgment of men! God's true ministers shall be acknowledgedof Him-wisdom is justified of her children. The Lord's Spirit will not be straitened or shut up by all the rules, modes andmethods which even good men may devise. The wind blows where it wishes and the power of the Spirit waits not for man, neithertarries for the sons of men!
Further, this people tried to straiten the Spirit of God by changing His testimony. They did not wish the Prophets to speakupon subjects which caused shame to them. They bade them prophesy smooth things. Tell us that we may sin with safety! Tellus that the punishment of sin is not so overwhelming as we have feared! Stand up and be advocates for the devil by flatteringus with "a larger hope!" Hint to us that, after all, man is a poor, inoffensive creature who does wrong because he cannothelp it and that God will wink at his sins! And if He does punish us for a while, He will soon set it all right! That wasthe style of teaching which Israel desired and, no doubt, they found prophets to speak in that manner, for the demand sooncreates the supply! But Micah boldly asks, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" Do you think that He will have His utterancestoned down and His Revelation shaped to suit your tastes?
Brothers and Sisters, let me ask you, do you imagine that the Gospel is a nose of wax which can be shaped to suit the faceof each succeeding age? Is the Revelation, once given by the Spirit of God, to be interpreted according to the fashion ofthe period? Is "advanced thought" to be the cord with which the Spirit of the Lord is to be straitened? Is the old Truth ofGod that saved men hundreds of years ago to be banished because something fresh has been hatched in the nests of the wise?Do you think that the witness of the Holy Spirit can be shaped and molded at our will? Is the Divine Spirit to be the pupilrather than the Teacher of the ages? "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" My very soul boils within me when I think ofthe impudent arrogance of certain willful spirits from whom all reverence for Revelation has departed! They would teach Jehovahwisdom! They criticize His Word and amend His Truth. Certain Scriptural doctrines are, indeed, discarded as dogmas of themedieval period! Others are denounced as gloomy because they cannot be called untrue. Paul is questioned and quibbled outof court and the Lord Jesus is first praised and then explained away. We are told that the teaching of God's ministers mustbe conformed to the spirit of the age. We shall have nothing to do with such treason to the Truth of God! "Is the Spirit ofthe Lord straitened?" Shall His ministers speak as if He were? Verily, that same treasure of Truth which the Lord has committedunto us we will keep inviolate so long as we live, God helping us. We are not so unmindful of the words of the Apostle, "Holdfast the form of sound words," as to change a syllable of what we believe to be the Word of the Lord!
Certain of these backsliding Israelites went so far as to oppose the testimony of God. Note in the eighth verse-"Even of lateMy people have risen up as an enemy." It is sad when God's own people become the enemies of God's own Spirit, yet those whoprofessed to be of the House of Jacob, instead of listening to the voice of the living God, began to sit in judgment uponHis Word and even to contradict the same! The worst foes of the Truth of God are not infidels, but false professors! Thesemen called themselves God's people and yet fought against His Spirit. "What then," asks Micah, "is the Spirit of the Lordstraitened?" Will the Spirit of God fail? Will His operations on the hearts of men come to nothing? Will the Truth of Godbe put to shame and have no influence over human minds? Shall the Gospel be driven out of the world? Will there be none tobelieve it? None to proclaim it? None to live for it? None to die for it? We ask, with scorn, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?"
Brothers and Sisters, my confidence in the success of the old faith is not lessened because so many forsake it! "For all fleshis as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower thereof falls away: but
the Word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the Word which, by the Gospel, is preached to you." If all the confessorsof the faith could be martyred-even from their ashes, like a heavenly phoenix-the Truth of God would rise again! The Spiritof the Lord lives and, therefore, the Truth of God must also live. Is not all Truth of God immortal? How much more that whichis the shrine of God! The Spirit's witness concerning the sin of man, the Grace of God, the mission of Jesus, the power ofHis blood, the glory of His Resurrection, reign and advent-this witness, I say, cannot cease or fail! It is to be greatlylamented that so many have turned aside unto vanities and are now the enemies of the Cross, but fear not, for the victoryis in sure hands! O you that would control the Spirit of God, remember who He is and bite your lips in despair! What can youdo against Him? Go bit the tempest and bridle the north wind-and then dream that the Spirit of the Lord is to be straitenedby you! He will speak when He pleases, by whom He pleases and as He pleases-and His Word shall be with power! None can stayHis hand, nor say unto Him, "What are You doing?" Thus much upon the first use of our text.
II. The second use of it is this, TO SILENCE THOSE WHO WOULD CENSURE THE SPIRIT. Some even dare to bring accusations againstthe Holy Spirit of God! Read the text again-"O you that are named the House of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?Are these His doings?" If anything is amiss, is He to be blamed for it?
The low estate of the Church-is that to be laid at God's door? It is true that the Church is not so full of life and energyand power and spirituality and holiness as she was in her first days and, therefore, some insinuate that the Gospel is anantique and an effete thing-in other words, that the Spirit of God is not so mighty as in past ages. To which the answer is,"Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Are these His doings?" If we are lukewarm, is that the fault of the Spirit of Fire?If we are feeble in our testimony, is that the fault of the Spirit of Power? If we are weak in prayer, is that the fault ofthe Spirit who helps our infirmities? Are these His doings? Instead of blaming the Holy Spirit, would it not be better forus to smite upon our breasts and chasten our hearts? What if the Church is not "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terribleas an army with banners," as once she was? Is not this because the Gospel has not been fully and faithfully preached and becausethose who believe it have not lived up to it with the earnestness and holiness which they ought to have exhibited? Is notthat the reason? In any case, are these His doings? Can you lay the blame of defection and backsliding, of lack of strength,of lack of faith-at the door of the Holy Spirit? God forbid! We cannot blame the Holy One of Israel!
Then it is said, "Look at the condition of the world. After the Gospel has been in it nearly 2,000 years, see how small apart of it is enlightened, how many cling to their idols, how much of vice, error, poverty and misery are to be found in theworld!" We know all these sad facts, but are these His doings? Tell me, when has the Holy Spirit created darkness or sin?Where has He been the Author of vice or oppression? From where come wars and strife? Come they from Him? Come they not fromour own lusts? What if the world is still an Augean stable, greatly needing cleansing-has the Spirit of God in any degreeor sense rendered it so? Where the Gospel has been fully preached, have not the Words of the Lord done good to them that walkuprightly? Have not cannibals, even during the last few years, been reclaimed and civilized? Has not the slave trade and otherevils been ended by the power of Christian influence? How, then, can the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of the Gospel, be blamed?
Will you attribute the darkness to the sun? Will you charge the filthiness of swine to the account of the crystal stream?Will you blame the pest upon the fresh breeze from the sea? It were quite as just and quite as sensible. No, we admit thedarkness and the sin and the misery of men. Oh, that our head were waters and our eyes a fountain of tears that we might weepday and night concerning these things! But these are not the work of the Spirit of God! These come of the spirit from beneath.He that is from above would heal them. He is not straitened. These are not His doings. Where His Gospel has been preachedand men have believed it and lived according to it, they have been enlightened, sanctified and blessed. Life and love, lightand liberty and all other good things come of the Spirit of the Lord-
"Blessings abound wherever He reigns; The prisoner leaps to lose his chains, The weary find eternal rest, And all the sonsof need are blessed."
But some have said, "Yes, but then see how few the conversions are nowadays! We have many places of worship badly attended.We have others where there are scarcely any conversions from the beginning of the year to the end of it." This is all grantedand granted with great regret, but, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Are these His doings?" Cannot we
find some other reason far more near the truth? O Sirs, if there are no conversions, we cannot fall back upon the Spirit ofGod and blame Him! Has Christ been preached? Has faith been exercised? The preacher must take his share of blame; the Churchwith which he is connected must also inquire whether there has been that measure of prayer for a blessing on the Word thatthere ought to have been. Christians must begin to look into their own hearts to find the reason for defeat. If the work ofGod is hindered in our midst, may there not be some secret sin with us which hinders the operation of the Spirit of God? MayHe not be compelled, by the very holiness of His Character, to refuse to work with an unholy or an unbelieving people? Haveyou never read, "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief"? May not unbelief be turning a fruitful landinto barrenness? The Spirit Himself is not straitened in His power-but our sin has made Him hide Himself from us! The lackof conversions is not His doing-we have not gone forth in His strength. We shake off with detestation the least trace of athought that should lay any blame to the Spirit of the Most High. Unto us be shame and confusion of face as at this day!
But it is also said that there is a lack of power largely manifested by individual saints. Where are now the men who can goup to the top of Carmel and cover the heavens with clouds? Where are the apostolic men who convert nations? Where are theheroes and martyr spirits of the better days? Have we not fallen upon an age of little men who little dare and little do?It may be so, but this is no fault of the great Spirit! Our degeneracy is not His doing. We have destroyed ourselves and onlyin Him is our help found! Instead of crying today, "Awake, awake, O arm of the Lord," we ought to listen to the cry from Heavenwhich says, "Awake, awake, O Zion! Shake yourself from the dust, and put on your beautiful garments." Many of us might havedone great exploits if we had but given our hearts to it. The weakest of us might have rivaled David and the strongest amongus might have been as angels of God! We are straitened in ourselves-we have not reached out to the possibilities of strengthwhich lie within our grasp. Let us not wickedly insinuate a charge against the good Spirit of our God, but let us in truthfulhumility blame ourselves.
If we have not lived in the Light of God, can we marvel that we are in great part, dark? If we have not fed upon the Breadof Heaven, can we wonder that we are faint? Let us return unto the Lord! Let us seek again to be baptized into the Holy Spiritand into fire-and we shall yet again behold the wonderful works of the Lord! He sets before us an open door, but if we enternot, we are, ourselves, to blame. He gives liberally and upbraids not, but if we are still impoverished, we have not becausewe ask not, or because we ask amiss! Thus much, then, have I spoken, using the text to silence those who would censure theSpirit of God.
III. In the third place, our subject enters a more pleasing phase while I use it TO ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO
TRUST IN THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD. My Brothers and Sisters, let us this morning with joy remember that the
Spirit of the Lord is not straitened!
Let this meet our trouble about our own straitness. What narrow and shallow vessels we are! How soon we are empty! We wakeup on Sunday morning and wonder where we shall find strength for the day. Do you not sigh, "Alas, I cannot take my Sundayschool class today with any hope of teaching with power! I am so dreadfully dull and heavy. I feel stupid and devoid of thoughtand feeling"? In such a case, say to yourself, "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" He will help you. You purpose to speakto someone about his soul and you fear that the right words will not come? You forget that He has promised to give you whatyou shall speak. "Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" Cannot He prepare your heart and tongue?
As a minister of Christ I have constantly to feel my own straitness. Perhaps more than any other man I am faced by my owninefficiency and inability to address such an audience so often and to print all that is spoken. Who is sufficient for thesethings? I do not feel half as capable of addressing you now as I did 20 years ago. I sink as to conscious personal power,though I have a firmer faith than ever in the all-sufficiency of God. No, the Spirit of the Lord is not straitened! That promiseis still our delight-"My Grace is sufficient for you." It is a joy to become weak that we may say with the Apostle, "WhenI am weak then am I strong." Behold, the strength of the Lord is gloriously revealed-revealed to perfection in our weakness!Come, you feeble workers, you fainting laborers, come and rejoice in the unstraitened Spirit! Come, you that seem to plowthe rock and till the sand, come and lay hold of this fact that the Spirit of the Lord is Omnipotent! No rock will remainunbroken when He wields the hammer! No metal will be unmelted when He is the fire! Still will our Lord put His Spirit withinus and gird us with His power, according to His promise, "As your days, so shall your strength be."
This also meets another matter, namely, the lack of honored leaders. We cry at this time, "Where are the eminent teachersof years gone by?" The Lord has made a man more precious than the gold of Ophir. Good and great men were the pillars of theChurch in former times, but where are they now? Renowned ministers have died and where are their successors? It is not aninfrequent thing with the older Brothers and Sisters, for them to say, one to the other, "Do you see the young men springingup who will equal those whom we have lost?" I am not among those who despair for the good old cause, but certainly I wouldbe glad to see the Elishas who are to succeed the Elijahs who have gone up! Oh, for another Calvin or Luther! Oh, for a Knoxor a Latimer, a Whitefield or a Wesley! Our fathers told us of Romaine and Newton, Toplady and Rowland Hill-where are thelike of these? When we have said, "where?" echo has answered, "where?" But herein is our hope-the Spirit of the Lord is notstraitened! He can raise up standard-bearers for His hosts! He can give to His Church stars in her firmament as bright asany that ever gladdened our fathers' eyes! He that walks among the golden candlesticks can so trim the lamps that those whichare dim shall burn with sevenfold splendor! He who found a Moses to face Pharaoh and Elijah to face Jezebel, can find a manto confront the adversaries today! To equip an army of apostolic men would be a small matter to the Creator of Heaven andearth! Let us have no fear about this. He that ascended on high, leading captivity captive, gave such large gifts unto menthat unto the end of the dispensation they will not be exhausted! Still does He give evangelists, pastors and teachers accordingas the need of the Church may be. Let us cast away all fear as to a break in the succession of witnesses, for the Word ofthe Lord endures forever and it shall never lack a man to declare it!
Brethren, the great Truth of God now before us may prevent our being dismayed by the peculiar character of the age in whichwe live. It is full of a terrible unrest. The earthquake in the Riviera is only typical of a far greater disturbance whichis going on everywhere. The foundations of society are quivering. The cornerstones are starting. No man can foretell whatthe close of this century may see. The age is growing more and more irreverent, unbelieving, indifferent. The men of thisgeneration are even more greedy of gain, more in haste after their ambitions than those that preceded them. They are fickle,exacting, hungering after excitement and sensation. Here comes in the Truth of God-"The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened."Was not the Gospel intended for every age and for every condition of human society? Will it not meet the case of London andIreland as well as the case of the old Roman empire in the midst of which it first began its course? It is even so, O Lord!Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted in You and You did deliver them! And we with joyful confidence fall back upon thesame delivering power, saying in our hearts, "The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened, He will bear us through!"
But, then, sometimes we are troubled because of the hardness of men's hearts. You that work for the Lord know most about this.If anybody thinks that he can change a heart by his own power, let him try with anyone he pleases and he will soon be at anonplus. Old Adam is too strong for young Melancthon-our trembling arm cannot roll away the stone of natural depravity! Well,what then? The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened! Did I hear you cry, "Alas, I have tried to reclaim a drunk and he hasgone back to his degradation"? Yes, he has beaten you, but is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Do you cry, "But he signedthe pledge and yet he broke it"? Very likely your bonds are broken, but is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Cannot He renewthe heart and cast out the love of sin? When the Spirit of God works with your persuasions, your convert will keep his pledge.
"Alas!" cries another, "I hoped I had rescued a fallen woman, but she has returned to her iniquity." No unusual thing is thiswith those who exercise themselves in that form of service. But is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Cannot He save the womanthat was a sinner? Cannot He create a surpassing love to Jesus in her forgiven spirit? We are baffled, but the Spirit is not!"But it is my own boy," cries a mother. "Alas, I brought him up tenderly from his youth, but he has gone astray. I cannotpersuade him to hear the Word of God-I cannot do anything with him!" Dear mother, register that confession of inability andthen, by faith, write at the bottom of it, "But the Spirit of the Lord is not straitened." Have faith in God and never letyour discovery of your own weakness shake your firm conviction that with God all things are possible! It seems to me to bea fountain of comfort, a storehouse of strength. Do not limit the Holy One of Israel, nor conceive of the Holy Spirit as boundand checked by the difficulties which crop up in fallen human nature! No case which you bring to Him with affectionate tearsand with an earnest faith in Jesus shall ever be dismissed as incurable. Despair of no man since the Lord of Hosts is withus!
"Ah well," says one, "but I am oppressed with the great problem which lies before the Church. London is to be rescued, theworld is to be enlightened. Think of India, China and the vast multitudes of Africa. Is the Gospel to be preached to all these?Are the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdoms of our Lord? How can these things be! Why, Sirs, when I think of London,alone, a world of poverty and misery, I see the sheer impossibility of delivering this world from the power of darkness."Do you prefer a theory which holds out no hope of a converted world? I do not wonder! Judge after the sight of the eyes andthe hearing of the ears and the thing is quite beyond all hope. But is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Surely the goodLord means to convince the Church of her own powerlessness, that she may cast herself upon the Divine might! Looking aroundshe can see no help for her in her great enterprise-let her look up and watch for His coming who will bring her deliverance!Amid apparent helplessness the Church is rich in secret succors. If the Spirit of God shall anoint our eyes, we shall seethe mountain full of horses of fire and chariots of fire round about the servants of the Lord. Behold, the stars in theircourses fight against our adversaries! The earth shall yet help the woman and the abundance of the seas shall yield theirstrength unto God. When the time comes for the Lord to make bare His arm, we shall see greater things than these-and thenwe shall wrap our faces in a veil of blushing confusion to think that we ever doubted the Most High! Behold, the Son of Mancomes! Shall He find faith among us? Shall He find it anywhere on the earth? The Lord help us to feel in our darkest hourthat His arm is not shortened!
IV. I must close by remarking that this text may be used TO DIRECT THOSE WHO ARE SEEKING AFTER BETTER THINGS. I hope thatin this audience there are many who are desiring to be at peace with God through Jesus Christ. You are already convinced ofsin, but you are, by that conviction, driven to despondency and almost to despair. Now notice this-whatever Grace you needin order to salvation, the Holy Spirit can work it in you. You need a more tender sense of sin. Is the Spirit of the Lordstraitened? Can He not give it to you? You need to be able to perceive the way of salvation-can He not instruct you? You needto be able to take the first step to Christ-you need, in fact, to trust Him wholly and alone and so find peace in Him. Isthe Spirit of the Lord straitened? Can He not give you faith? Do you cry, "I would believe, but I cannot tell how"? The Spiritwill help you to believe! He can shed such light into your mind that faith in Christ shall become an easy and a simple thingwith you. The Spirit of God is not straitened! He can bring you out of darkness into His marvelous light! If you are quitedriven from all reliance on your own natural power, then cry unto Him, "Lord, help me!" The Holy Spirit has come on purposeto work all our works in us. It is His office to take of the things of Christ and to show them to us. Yield yourself to Hisgracious direction! Be willing and obedient-and He will lead you into all Truth!
Notice again-although you are under deep depression of spirit and you feel shut up so that you cannot come forth-yet the Spiritof the Lord is not straitened. He is not weighed down nor discouraged. His name is The Comforter and He can comfort to purpose.Though you are, today, ready to lay violent hands upon yourself by reason of the trouble of your restless thoughts, yet isthe Spirit of the Lord straitened? Look to the strong for strength, even to your God. Does not the Lord cry to you, "Lookunto Me and be you saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else"? Your strength as well as yoursalvation lies in Him! When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Trust in the Lord forever,for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength. Trust, implicitly trust, for the Spirit of God is not straitened! Yourdespondency and unbelief are not His doings, they are your own. He has not driven you into this misery. He invites you tocome forth from it and trust the Son of God-and rest in the finished righteousness of Christ-and you shall come at once intolight and peace!
May I invite you to remember how many persons have already found joy, peace and salvation by believing the teaching of theSpirit of God? In the text the question is asked, "Do not My Words do good to him that walks uprightly?" Many of us can beartestimony today that the Word of the Lord is not word only, but power! It has done good to us. The Gospel has not only beenmuch to us, it has been everything to us. Personally, I do not believe and preach the Gospel because I have made a choiceand have preferred it to any other theory of religion out of many others which might have been accepted. No. There is no otherTruth to me! I believe it because I am a saved man by the power of it! The Truths of God revealed by the Spirit has new-createdme! I am born again by this living and incorruptible Seed. My only hope of holiness in this life and of happiness in the lifeto come is found in the life and death, the Person and merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
Give up the Gospel? I may when it gives me up, but not while it grasps my very soul! I am not perplexed with doubt, becausethe Truth of God which I believe has worked a miracle in me. By its means I have received and still retain a new life to whichI was once a stranger. I am like the good man and his wife who had kept a lighthouse for years. A visitor who came to seethe lighthouse, looking out from the window over the waste of waters, asked the good woman, "Are you not afraid of a nightwhen the storm is out and the big waves dash right over the lantern? Do you not fear that the lighthouse and all that is init will be carried away?" The woman remarked that the idea never occurred to her. She had lived there so long that she feltas safe on the lone rock as ever she did when she lived on the mainland. As for her husband, when asked if he did not feelanxious when the wind blew a hurricane, he answered, "Yes, I feel anxious to keep the lamps well trimmed and the light burning,lest any vessel should be wrecked." As to anxiety about the safety of the lighthouse, or his own personal security in it,he had outlived all that.
Even so it is with me! "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committedto Him against that day." From henceforth let no man trouble me with doubts and questionings! I bear in my soul the proofsof the Spirit's truth and power and I will have none of your artful reasoning. The Gospel to me is TRUTH-I am content to perishif it is not true. I risk my soul's eternal fate upon the truth of the Gospel and I know no risk in it. My one concern isto keep the lamps burning, that I may thereby enlighten others. Only let the Lord give me oil enough to feed my lamp so thatI may cast a ray across the dark and treacherous sea of life, and I am well content. Now, troubled Seeker, if it is so, thatyour minister and many others in whom you confide have found perfect peace and rest in the Gospel, why should not you? Isthe Spirit of the Lord straitened? Do not His Words do good to them that walk uprightly? Will not you also try their savingvirtue?
In conclusion, just a hint to you. The Words of God do good to those who walk uprightly. If they do no good to you, may itnot be that you are walking crookedly? Have you given up all secret sin? How can you hope to get peace with God if you liveaccording to your own lusts? Give up the hopeless hope! You must come right out from the love of sin if you would be deliveredfrom the guilt of sin. You cannot have your sin and go to Heaven-you must either give up sin or give up hope. "Repent" isa constant exhortation of the Word of God. Quit the sin which you confess. Flee the evil which crucified your Lord! Sin forsakenis, through the blood of Jesus, turned into sin forgiven! If you cannot find freedom in the Lord, the straitness is not withthe Spirit of God, but your sin lies at the door blocking up the gangway of Grace. Is the Spirit of God straitened? No, HisWords "do good to them that walk uprightly." And if you, in sincerity of heart, will quit your sin and believe in Christ,you, also, shall find peace, hope and rest. Try it and see if it is not so. Amen.