Sermon 2459. "Better Than Wine"
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, APRIL 5, 1896.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 2, 1872.
"Your love is better than wine." Song of Solomon 1:2.
THE Scriptural emblem of wine, which is intended to be the symbol of the richest earthly joy, has become desecrated in processof time by the sin of man. I suppose in the earlier ages when the Word of God was written, it would hardly have been conceivablethat there could have existed on the face of the earth such a mass of drunken men and women as now pollute and defile it bytheir very presence. For man, nowadays, is not content with the wine that God makes, but he manufactures some for himselfof which he cannot partake, at least in any abundance, without becoming drunk. Redeem the figure in our text, if you can,and go back from the drinking customs of our own day to more primitive and purer times, when the ordinary meal of a man wasvery similar to that which is spread upon this communion table-bread and wine-of which men might partake without fear of evileffects. But do not use the metaphor as it would now be understood among the mass of mankind, at least in countries like ourown.
"Your love is better than wine." In considering these words, in the spirit in which the Inspired writer used them, I shall,first of all, try to show you that Christ's love is better than wine because of what it is not. And, secondly, that it isbetter than wine because of what it is. Next, we will examine the marginal reading of the text which will teach us somethingabout Christ's love in the plural-"Your loves are better than wine." And then, lastly, we will come back to the version wehave before us, in which we shall see Christ's love in the singular, for the love of Christ, even when it is described inthe plural, is always one-though there are many forms of it-it is always the same love.
I. First, then, I want to prove to you that CHRIST'S LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE BECAUSE OF WHAT IT IS NOT.
It is so, first, because it may be taken without question. There may be and there always will be in the world, questions aboutwine. There will be some who will say, and wisely say, "Leave it alone." There will be others who will exclaim, "Drink ofit abundantly." While a third company will say, "Use it moderately." But there will be no question among upright men aboutpartaking to the fullest of the love of Christ! There will be none of the godly who will say, "Abstain from it," and nonewho will say, "Use it moderately"-all true Christians will echo the words of the Heavenly Bridegroom, Himself, "Drink, yes,drink abundantly, O Beloved." The wisdom of imbibing freely of the love of Christ shall never be questioned, even, by thepure spirits in Heaven-this is the wine which they themselves quaff in everlasting bowls at the right hand of God, and theLord of Glory, Himself, bids them quaff it to their fill! This is the highest delight of all who know Christ and have beenborn again by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit! This is our greatest joy while here below and we can never have toomuch of it! Yes, we may even swim in this sea of bliss, and there shall be none who shall dare to ask any of us, "What areyou doing there?" Many delightsome things, many earthly joys, many of the pleasures of this world are very questionable enjoyments.Christians had better keep away from everything about which their consciences are not perfectly clear-but all our consciencesare clear concerning the Lord Jesus and our heart's love to Him! So, in this respect, His love is better than wine.
Christ's love is also better than wine because it is to be had without money. Many a man has beggared himself and squanderedhis estate through his love of worldly pleasure-and especially through his fondness for wine. But the love of Christ is tobe had without money. What says the Scripture? "Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." The love of Christis unpurchased and, I may add, it is unpurchaseable! Solomon says, in the eighth chapter of this
Book, "If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly despised." And we may as truly say,"If a man would give all the substance of his house for the love of Christ, it would be utterly despised." The love of Jesuscomes to His people freely! Not because they deserve it, or ever will deserve it-not because, by any merits of their own,they have won it, or by any prayers of their own, they have secured it-it is spontaneous love. It flows from the heart ofChrist because it must come, like the a stream that leaps from an ever-flowing fountain. If you ask why Jesus loves His people,we can give no other reason than this-
"Because it seemed good in His sight." Christ's love is the freest thing in the world-free as the sunbeam, free as the mountaintorrent, free as the air! It comes to the child of God without purchase and without merit and, in this respect, it is betterthan wine.
Again, Christ's love is better than wine because it is to be enjoyed without spoiling. The sweetest matter on earth whichis, for a while, pleasant to the taste, sooner or later sours upon the palate. If you find honey, you can soon eat so muchof it that you will no longer relish its sweetness. But the love of Jesus never yet soured upon the palate of a newborn soul.He who has had most of Christ's love has cried, "More! More! More!" If ever there was a man on earth who had Christ's lovein him to the fullest, it was holy Samuel Rutherford, yet you can see in his letters how he labored for suitable expressionswhile trying to set forth his hungering and thirsting after the love of Christ. He says he floated upon Christ's love likea ship upon a river And then he quaintly asks that his vessel may founder, and go to the bottom, till that blessed streamshall flow right over the masthead of his ship! He wanted to be baptized into the love of Christ, to be flung into the oceanof his Savior's love-and this is what the true Christian always longs for.
No lover of the Lord Jesus has ever said that he has had enough of Christ's love. When Madame Guyon had spent many a day andmany a month in the sweet enjoyment of the love of Jesus, she penned most delicious hymns concerning it, but they are allfull of craving after more-there is no indication that she wished for any change of affection to her Lord, or any change inthe object of her affection. She was satisfied with Christ and longed to have more and more of His love. Ah, poor drunk, youmay put away the cup of devils because you are satiated with its deadly draft, but never did he who drinks of the wine ofChrist's love become satiated or even content with it! He always desires more and yet more of it.
Further, Christ's love is better than wine because it is without sediment. All wine has something in it which renders it imperfect,and liable to corruption-there is something that will have to settle, something that must be skimmed off the top, somethingthat needs purifying. So is it with all the joys of earth-there is sure to be something in them that mars their perfection.Men have sought out many inventions of mirth and pleasure, amusement and delight, but they have always found some hitch orflaw somewhere. Solomon gathered to himself all manner of pleasant things that are the delight of kings. He gives us a listof them in the Book of Ecclesiastes-"I made me great works; I built me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens andorchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringsforth trees: I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and smallcattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of ringsand of the provinces: I got me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments,and that of all sorts." But his verdict concerning all of them was, "Behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit."
But he who delights himself in the love of Christ will tell you that he finds no vanity and vexation of spirit there, buteverything to charm and rejoice and satisfy the heart! There is nothing in the Lord Jesus Christ that we could wish to havetaken away from Him! There is nothing in His love that is impure, nothing that is unsatisfactory. Our precious Lord is comparableto the most fine gold! There is no alloy in Him. No, there is nothing that can be compared with Him, for, "He is altogetherlovely," all perfections melted into one perfection and all beauties combined into one inconceivable beauty! Such is the LordJesus and such is His love to His people-without anything of imperfection needing to be removed!
The love of Christ, too, blessed be His name, is better than wine because it will never, as wine will, turn sour. In certainstages of development and under certain influences, the sweet ferments and vinegar is formed instead of wine. Oh, throughwhat fermentations Christ's love might have passed if it had been capable of being acted upon by anything from outside! Oh,how often, Beloved, have we grieved Him! We have been cold and chill towards Him when we ought to have been like coals offire! We have loved the things of this world, we have been unfaithful to our Best-Beloved, we have suffered our hearts towander to other lovers-yet never has He been soured toward us and never will He be! Many waters cannot quench His love, neithercan the floods drown it. He is the same loving Savior, now, as He always was, and such He will always be. And He will bringus to the rest which remains for the people of God. Truly, in all these respects, because there are none of these imperfectionsin His love, it is better than wine!
Once more, Christ's love is better than wine because it produces no ill effects. Many are the mighty men who have fallen downslain by wine. Solomon says, "Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has babbling? Who has wounds without cause?Who has redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine." But who was ever slain by thelove of Christ? Who was ever made wretched by this love? We have been inebriated with it, for the love of Christ sometimesproduces a holy exhilaration that makes men say, "Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell." There is an elevationthat lifts the soul above all earthly things and bears the spirit up beyond where eagles soar, even into the clear atmospherewhere God communes with men! There is all that sacred exhilaration about the love of Christ, but there are no evil effectsarising from it. He that will, may drink from this golden chalice, and he may drink as much as he wills, for the more he drinksthe stronger and the better shall he be!
Oh, may God grant to us, dear Friends, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge! I feel sure that while I am preachingon such a theme as this, I must seem, to some here present, to be talking arrant nonsense, for they have never tasted of thelove of Jesus! But those who have tasted of it will, perhaps, by my words, have many sweet experiences called to their mindswhich will refresh their spirits and set them longing to have new draughts of this all-precious love which infinitely transcendsall the joys of earth! This, then, is our first point-Christ's love is better than wine because of what it is not.
II. But, secondly, CHRIST'S LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE BECAUSE OF WHAT IT IS.
Let me remind you of some of the uses of wine in the East. It was often used as a medicine, for it had certain healing properties.The good Samaritan, when he found the wounded man, poured into his wounds, "oil and wine." But the love of Christ is betterthan wine-it may not heal the wounds of the flesh, but it does heal the wounds of the spirit. Do not some of you rememberwhen your poor heart was gashed through and through by the dagger of Moses, when you felt the wounds caused by the Law ofGod, the deadly wounds that could not be healed by human hands? Then, how sweetly did that wine of Christ's love come streaminginto the gaping wounds!
There were such healing drops as this-"Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Orsuch as this, "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." Or this, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shallbe forgiven unto men." Or this, "He that believes on Him is not condemned." Or this, "Look unto Me, and be you saved, allthe ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." I cannot, perhaps, quote the text that dropped like wine andoil into your wounds, but I remember well the text that dropped into mine. The precious vial of wine that healed up all mywounds as in a moment and made my heart whole was that text I quoted last, "Look unto Me, and be you saved, all the ends ofthe earth." Wine made by man cannot be medicine to a broken heart, nor can it heal a wounded spirit-but the love of JesusChrist can do this and do it to perfection!
Wine, again, was often associated by men with the giving of strength. Now, whatever strength wine may give or may not give,certainly the love of Jesus gives strength-strength mightier than the mightiest earthly force-for when the love of Jesus Christis shed abroad in a man's heart, he can bear a heavy burden of sorrow. If he could have the load of Atlas piled upon his shoulders,and if he could have all the care of all the world pressing upon his heart, yet if he had the love of Christ in his soul,he would be able to bear the load! The love of Christ helps a man to fight the battles of life. It makes life, with all itscares and troubles, a happy one. It enables a man to do great exploits and makes him strong for suffering, strong for self-sacrifice,and strong for service. It is wonderful, in reading the history of the saints, to notice what the love of Christ has fittedthem to do! I might almost say that it has plucked up mountains and cast them into the sea, for things impossible to othermen have become easy enough to men on fire with the love of Christ. What the Church of Christ needs, just now, to strengthenher, is more love to her Lord and her Lord's love more fully enjoyed in the souls of her members! There is no strengtheninginfluence like it.
Wine was also frequently used as the symbol of joy and certainly, in this respect, Christ's love is better than wine. Whateverjoy there may be in the world (and it would be folly to deny that there is some sort ofjoy which even the basest of men know),yet the love of Christ is far superior to it! Human joy derived from earthly sources is a muddy, dirty pool,
at which men would not drink did they know there was a stream sweeter, cooler and far more refreshing. The love of Jesus bringsa joy that is fit for angels, a joy that we shall have continued to us even in Heaven, itself, a joy which makes earth likeHeaven! It is, therefore, far better than wine.
It is better than wine, once more, for the sacred exhilaration which it gives. I have already spoken of this-the love of Christis the grandest stimulant of the renewed nature that can be known! It enables the fainting man to revive from his swooning.It causes the feeble man to leap up from his bed of languishing and it makes the weary man strong again. Are you weary, Brothersand Sisters, and sick of life? You only need more of Christ's love shed abroad in your heart! Are you, dear Brother, readyto faint through unbelief? You only need more of Christ's love and all shall be well with you. I would to God that we wereall filled with it to the fullest, like those Believers were on the day of Pentecost, of whom the mockers said that they werefull of new wine! Peter truly said that they were not drunk, as men supposed, but that it was the Spirit of God and the loveof Christ filling them with unusual power and unusual energy and, therefore, men knew not what it was! God grant to us, also,this great power, and Christ shall have all the glory of it!
III. But now, passing rapidly on, for our time is flying, the marginal reading of our text is in the plural-"Your loves arebetter than wine"-and this teaches us that CHRIST'S LOVE MAY BE SPOKEN OF IN THE PLURAL because it manifests itself in somany ways. I ask all renewed hearts that have been won to Jesus, the virgin souls that follow Him wherever He goes, to walkwith me in imagination over the sacred tracks of the love of Christ.
Think, Beloved, of Christ's Covenant love, the love he had to us before the world was! Christ is no new lover of His people'ssouls-He loved them before the daystar knew its place, or the planets began their mighty revolutions! Every soul whom Jesusloves now, He loved forever and ever! What a wondrous love was that-infinite, unbounded, everlast-ing-which led Him to enterinto Covenant with God that He would bear our sins and suffer our penalties, that He might redeem us from going down intothe Pit! Oh, the Covenant love of Jesus! Some dear souls are afraid to believe this Truth of God-let me persuade them to searchthe Scriptures till they find it, for, of all the doctrines of Holy Writ, I know of none more full of consolation to the heart,when rightly received, than the great foundation Truths of Divine Predestination and Personal Election. When we see that wewere eternally chosen in Christ, eternally given to Christ by His Father, eternally accepted in the Beloved and eternallyloved by Christ, then shall we say, with holy gratitude, "Such love as this is better than wines on the lees, well refined."
Think next, Beloved, of Christ's forbearing love-the love which looked upon us when we were born, saw us full of sin and yetloved us-the love which saw us when we went astray from the womb speaking lies-the love which heard us profanely speak, wickedlythink and obstinately disobey, yet loved us all the while! Let the thought of it ravish your heart as you sing-
"He saw me ruined in the Fall,
Yet loved me, notwithstanding all!
He sa ved me from my lost estate,
His loving kindness, oh, how great!" Thus were we the subjects of Christ's electing love and forbearing love.
Yes, but the sweetness to us was when was realized Christ's personal love, when, at last, we were brought to the foot of HisCross, humbly confessing our sins. May I ask you who can do so, to go back to that happy moment? There you lay at the footof the Cross, broken in pieces, and you thought there was no hope for you. But you looked up to the crucified Christ and thoseblessed wounds of His began to pour out a stream of precious blood upon you-and you saw that He was wounded for your transgressions,that He was bruised for your iniquities, that the chastisement of your peace was upon Him-and that with His stripes you werehealed! That very instant your sins were all put away! You gave one look of faith to the bleeding Savior and every spot andspeck and stain of your sin were all removed-and your guilt was forever pardoned!
When you first felt Christ's forgiving love-I will not insult you by asking whether it was not better than wine. Oh, the unutterablejoy, the indescribable bliss you felt when Jesus said to you, "I have borne your sins in My own body on the tree, I have carriedthe great load of your transgressions, I have blotted them out like a cloud, and they are gone from you forever!" That wasa love that was inconceivably precious! At the very recollection, our heart leaps within us and our soul does magnify theLord!
Since that glad hour, we have been the subjects of Christ's accepting love, for we have been "accepted in the Beloved." Wehave also had Christ's guiding love, providing love and instructing love. His love in all manner of ways has come to us andbenefited and enriched us. And, Beloved, we have had sanctifying love-we have been helped to fight this sin and that, andto overcome them by the blood of the Lamb. The Spirit of God has been given to us so that we have been enabled to subdue thisruling passion and overcome that evil power. The Lord has also given us sustaining love under very sharp troubles. Some ofus could tell many a story about the sweet upholding love of Christ-in poverty, or in bodily pain, or in deep depression ofspirits, or under cruel slander, or reproach. His left hand has been under our head while His right hand has embraced us.We have almost courted suffering, itself, by reason of the richness of the consolation which suffering times have always broughtwith them! He has been such a precious, precious, precious Christ to us that we do not know how to speak well enough of Hisdear name!
Then let us reflect with shame upon Christ's enduring love to us. Why, ever since we have been converted, we have grievedHim times without number! As I have already reminded you, we have often been false to Him-we have not loved Him with the lovewhich He might well claim from us. Yet Christ has never cast us away, but still, to this very moment He smiles upon us! Hesays to His own brethren whom He has bought with blood and to each one of us, "I have engraved you upon the palms of My hands.I have espoused you unto Myself forever. I will never leave you, nor forsake you." He uses the most kind and endearing termstowards us to show that His love will never die! Glory be to His holy name for this! Is not His love better than wine?
There is one word I must not leave out and that is, Christ's chastening love. I know that many of you who belong to Him haveoften smarted under His chastening hand, but Christ never smote you in anger. Whenever He has laid a cross on your back, ithas been because He loved you so much that He could not keep it off. He never took away a joy without meaning, thereby, toincrease your joy, and it was always done for your good. Perhaps we cannot, at present, say that the Lord's chastising lovehas always been sweet to us, but we shall say it, one day, and I think I must say it now! I bless my dear Master for everythingHe has done to me and I can never tell all that I owe to the anvil, the hammer, the fire and the file! Blessed be His name,for many of us can say, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept Your Word." Therefore will we put in Christ'schastising love among the rest of His loves and say of it, "This love, also, is better than wine." We would sooner have thechastisements of God than the pleasures of the world! We would rather have God's cup full of gall than the devil's cup fullof the sweetest wine he ever made! We prefer to take God's left hand instead of the world's right hand-and would sooner walkwith God in the dark than walk with the world in the light! Will not every Christian say that?
Beloved, there are other forms of Christ's love yet to be manifested to you. Do you not, sometimes, tremble at the thoughtof dying? Oh, you shall have-and you ought to think of it now-you shall have special revelations of Christ's love in yourdying moments! Then shall you say, like the governor of the marriage feast at Cana, "You have kept the good wine until now."I believe we have hardly any conception of what comfort the Lord pours into His people's souls in their dying moments. Wedo not need those comforts, yet-we could not bear them now-but they are laid up in store and when we need them, they willbe brought out. And then shall our spirits find that the Lord's promise is fulfilled, "As your days, so shall your strengthbe."
And then-but perhaps I had better be silent upon such a theme-when the veil is drawn and the spirit has left the body, whatwill be the bliss of Christ's love to the spirits gathered with Him in Glory?-
"Oh, for the bliss of flying,
My risen Lord to meet!
Oh, for the rest of lying
Forever at His feet!
Oh, for the hour of seeing
My Savior face to face!
The hope of always being
In that sweet meeting place!"
Or, as Dr. Watts puts it-
"Millions of years my wondering eyes Shall over Your beauties rove
And endless ages I'll adore The glories of Your love."
Then think of the love of the day of our resurrection, for Christ loves our bodies as well as our souls and, arrayed in glory,these mortal bodies shall rise from the tomb! Oh, the bliss of being like our Lord and being with Him when He comes in allthe splendor of the Second Advent-sitting as assessors with Him to judge the world and to judge even the angels! And thento be in His triumphal procession when He shall ascend to God and deliver up the Kingdom to the Father and the Mediatorialsystem shall be ended, and God shall be All in All! And then to be forever, forever, forever, "forever with the Lord," withno fear of the soul dying out, with no dread of the false doctrine of annihilation, like a grim specter always crossing ourblissful pathway! With a life coeval with the life of God and an immortality divinely given, we shall outlast the sun! Andwhen the moon grows pale and wanes forever, and this old earth and all that is therein shall be burned up, yet shall we beforever with Him! Truly, His love is better than wine! It is the very essence of Heaven! It is better than anything that wecan conceive!
God grant us foretastes of the loves of Heaven in the present realization of the love of Jesus, which is the same love, andthrough which Heaven, itself, shall come to us!
IV. Now, I must have just a few minutes for my last point, and that is, CHRIST'S LOVE IN THE SINGULAR-a theme which mightwell suffice for half a dozen sermons at the very least! Look at the text as it stands-"Your love is better than wine."
Think, first, of the love of Christ in the cluster. That is where the wine is first. We talk of the grapes of Eshcol, butthese are not worthy to be mentioned in comparison with the love of Jesus Christ as it is seen, in old eternity, in the purposeof God, in the Covenant of Grace and, afterwards, in the promises of the Word, and in the various Revelations of Christ inthe types and symbols of the Ceremonial Law. There I see the love of Christ in the cluster. When I hear God threatening theserpent that the Seed of the woman would bruise his head, and when, later on, I find many prophecies concerning Him who ismighty to save, I see the wine in the cluster, the love of Christ that is really there, but not yet enjoyed! What delightit gives us to even look at the love of Christ in the cluster!
Next, look at the love of Christ in the basket, for the grapes must be gathered and cast into the basket before the wine canbe made. I see Jesus Christ living here on earth among the sons of men-gathered, as it were, from the sacred vine and, likea cluster thrown into the basket. Oh, the love of Jesus Christ in the manger of Bethlehem, the love of Jesus in the workshopof Nazareth, the love of Jesus in His holy ministry, the love of Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness, the love of Jesusin His miracles, the love of Jesus in His communion with His disciples, the love of Jesus in bearing shame and reproach forour sakes, the love of Jesus in being so poor that He had not where to lay His head, the love of Jesus in enduring such contradictionof sinners against Himself! I cannot hope to enter into this great subject! I can only point it out to you and pass on.
There is, first, Christ's love in the cluster, and next, there is Christ's love in the basket. Think of it and, as you thinkof it, say, "It is better than wine."
But oh, if your hearts have any tenderness towards Him, think of the love of Christ in the winepress. Look at Him there, whenthe cluster in the basket begins to be crushed! Oh, what a crushing was that under the foot of the treader of grapes whenChrist sweat, as it were, great drops of blood! And how terribly did the great press come down, again, and again when He gaveHis back to the smiters and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair! And He hid not His face from shame and spitting!But oh, how the red wine flowed from the winepress-what fountains there were of this precious sweetness when Jesus was nailedto the Cross-suffering in body, depressed in spirit and forsaken of His God! "Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani?" These are thesounds that issue from the winepress and how terrible and yet how sweet they are! Stand there and believe that all your sinswere borne by Him-and that He suffered what you ought to have suffered-and, as your Substitute, was crushed for you-
"He bore, that you might never bear, His Father's righteous ire." Yes, Beloved, Christ's love in the winepress is better thanwine!
Now I want you to think of the love of Christ in the flagon, where His precious love is stored up for His people-the loveof His promises, given to you. The love of His Providence, for He rules for you. The love of His intercession, for He pleadsfor you. The love of His representation, for He stands at the right hand of the Father as the Representative of His people.The love of His union with His people, for you are one with Him-He is the Head and you are the members of His body-the loveof all that He is, all that He was and all that He ever shall be, for in every capacity and under all circumstances He lovesyou and will love you without end! Think of His rich love, His abundant love towards His people! I call it love in the flagon,this love of His to all the saints which He has stored up for them.
And then, Beloved, not only think of but enjoy the love of Christ in the cup, by which I mean His love to you. I always feel,when I get to this topic, as if I would rather sit down and ask you to think it over, than try to talk to you about it. Thistheme seems to silence me. I think, like the poet-
"Come, then, expressive silence, muse His praise." Love to me! Dear child of God, think of it in this way-let me speak foryou-"He loves me! He, a King, loves me! A King? The King of Kings, HE loves me! God, very God of very God, loves me!" Strangeconjunction, this, between the Infinite and a worm! We have heard and read romantic stories of the loves of emperors to poorvillage maidens, but what of these? Worms were never raised so high above their meaner fellow worms as the Lord Jesus is aboveus! If an angel loved an ant, there would be no such difference as when Jehovah-Jesus loves us! Yet there is no fact beneathHeaven, or in Heaven, that is so indisputable as this fact-that He loves us if we are His believing people! For this we havethe declaration of Inspiration. No, Brothers and Sisters, we have even more than that to confirm it beyond all question, forwe have His own death upon the Cross! He signed this document with His own blood in order that no Believer might ever doubtits authenticity!
"Herein is love." "Behold what manner of love" there is in the Cross! What wondrous love is there! Oh, then, let us have Christ'slove in the cup, the love that we may daily drink, the love that we may personally drink just now at this moment, the lovewhich shall be all our own as if there were no others in the world-and yet a love in which ten thousand times ten thousandhave an equal share with ourselves!
God bless you, dear Friends, and give you to drink of this wine! And if any here know not the love of Jesus Christ, I praythe Lord to bring them to know it. May He renew their heart and give them faith in Him, for whoever believes that Jesus isthe Christ, is born of God! "He that believes on Him is not condemned." His great Gospel Word is, "He that believes and isbaptized shall be saved." May the Lord confirm this Word by His Spirit, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH26:20,21; 27:1-9.
We will read a short passage in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, commencing with the 26th chapter, and the 20th verse.
Isaiah 26:20. Come, my people, enter into your chamber, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,until the indignation is past. There is never a flood for the wicked without an ark for the righteous! Never shall a stormsweep over the earth till God has prepared a great rock wherein His people may be hidden.
21. For, behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth alsoshall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. The earth has often covered up the evidences of human guilt.Blood shed in battle has soaked into the soil and men have forgotten the violence of tyrants and conquerors, but the earthshall disclose her blood. Sin, though it is sown in the earth, shall spring up like wheat, but to a terrible harvest. "Besure your sin will find you out."
Isaiah 27:1. In that day the LORD, with His sore and great and strong sword, shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent. That is tosay, He will punish those who are like leviathan-the proudest, the greatest and the most powerful sinners shall not escapeDivine Justice. God's Laws are not like cobwebs, meant to catch the little flies while the great ones break through-He willstrike leviathan-He will surely punish the mightiest sinners of the earth.
1. Even leviathan that crooked serpent. Hard to come at, difficult to find, he shall not escape the sword of the Lord.
1. And He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea. If men should try to hide from God in Hell, itself, yet would He findthem. There is no possibility that any offender shall escape His all-seeing eyes.
2, 3. In that day sing you unto her, A vineyard of red wine. I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest anyhurt it, I will keep it night and day. Thus the Lord reveals the tenderness of His love to His Church. Then follows a remarkablepassage in which, it seems to me, we have the plan of salvation plainly set out. First, here is man at enmity with his Maker.
4. Fury is not in Me: who would set the briers and thorns against Me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn themtogether. Men who are at enmity with God little know how terrific is the force of His strength. They are like dry thorns whenthe fire catches them and nothing burns more readily. The bush upon the common, when some wild youth sets fire to it, suddenlyblazes up, crackles and is gone-so will it be with the ungodly. God has but to go through them and they shall be destroyed.But now comes a message of mercy.
5. Or let him take hold of My strength. This is what the repenting and believing sinner does-he lays hold of Christ-he takesthe strength of God to be his defense and then the strong God, instead of being a terror, becomes a comfort to him.
5, 6. That he may make peace with Me and he shall make peace with Me. He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root.Taking root should be well looked after by the Christian. Some professors have no root-they are all leaf and flower, but theyhave no root and, consequently, they soon wither and die. Happy is that man who is rooted and grounded in the faith!
6, 7. Israel shall bloom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. Has He struck Israel as He struck those thatstruck him? No. God strikes His people, but He never strikes them as He does their enemies. He strikes His people, as oldTrapp says, with the palm of His hand, as a man may strike His child, but He strikes His enemies with His fist, as one woulddash His foe to the ground! There is a great difference between the chastisements of God's people and the righteous judgmentsthat fall upon the wicked.
7, 8. Or is Israel slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by Him? In measure, when it shoots forth, You willdebate with it. God always chastens His people in measure. He makes a debate about it. He weighs their troubles in scalesand their sorrows in balances.
8, He stays His rough wind in the day of the east wind. He never sends too many troubles at a time. If the east wind is blowing,He does not send His rough wind. We have much to thank God for, that He times our troubles. Had they come an hour before,they might have been too much for us. Had they been kept back a week longer, they might have overthrown us. God knows whento chasten His people and He will always chasten them at the right time.
9, By this, therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin. When one ofthe old Puritans was afflicted with a very painful disease-perhaps the most painful to which flesh is heir-he kept cryingout, "The use, Lord? The use, Lord? Show me the use of it." This should be the point at which the Christian should alwaysaim.
9. When he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not standup. You see, the Israelites had piled up stones and held them in veneration. But when God brought them back to Himself, theycounted those stones to be but as common chalkstones of the valley. It is a good thing for us, when our sins bring us no pleasure,when they are only like common stones of the street. When we break our images and dash down our idol gods, we show that weprize them no longer. The Lord make this to be the issue of all our trials! Then will we bless Him for our troubles as forour chief mercies.