Sermon 2882. Forgiveness and Fear

(No. 2882)




"There is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared." Psalm 130:4.

THIS is good news, indeed-the best of news-and they will prize it most who are like the Psalmist was when he wrote these words.And who are they?

First, they are those who are in soul-trouble-"Out of the depths have I cried unto You, O Lord." Some of you may, perhaps,think this subject is a very commonplace one, but the soul that is in deep spiritual trouble will not think so. Bread is avery commonplace thing, but it is very precious to starving men. Liberty is an everyday enjoyment to us, but it would be agreat gift to those who are in slavery. O you who are in the depths of soul-trouble, like shipwrecked mariners who seem tobe sinking in the trough of the sea, or being dragged down by a whirlpool-this text will bring sweet music to your ears! "Thereis forgiveness." There is forgiveness with God.

This good news will also have a peculiar sweetness to those who have begun to pray. Read the second verse-"Lord, hear my voice:let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications." Prayer makes men value spiritual blessings. They are askingfor them. They are sincerely seeking them. They are knocking loudly at Mercy's gate in order to obtain them. And they whoare in earnest in their prayers prove that they value the blessing they are seeking and they are delighted to hear that theyare likely to secure it. Oh, that it might be said, for the first time, of someone here, "Behold, he prays." I am sure thatsuch an one will be right glad to listen to even the simplest language that tells out these glad tidings-"There is forgivenesswith God."

And if, to soul-trouble and earnest prayer, there should be added a very deep sense of sin amounting, even, to utter self-condemnation,then I am quite certain that there is no carol that will have sweeter music in it than my text has! Read the third verse andsee if you can truly repeat it-"If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" Do you feel that your iniquitiescondemn you? Are you compelled to plead guilty before God? Well, then, though you cannot claim acquittal on the ground thatyou have no sins, yet here is the blessed information that there is forgiveness for sinners! Stand in the dock where the guiltyought to stand and let the Judge condemn you. No, spare Him the trouble- condemn yourself and, when you have done so, andhave also trusted the great Atonement made by His dear Son, He will say to you, "There is forgiveness. Be of good cheer-yoursins, which are many, are all forgiven you." I do not expect to say anything to delight deaf ears, but I do believe that thesimple tidings I have to tell will have great weight with those who are in soul-trouble, with those who have begun to pray-andthose who are self-condemned on account of sin.

I am going to take the text thus. First, here is a most cheering announcement-"There is forgiveness with You." Secondly, hereis a most admirable design-"That You may be feared."

I. First, here is A MOST CHEERING ANNOUNCEMENT-"There is forgiveness with You."

This announcement has great force and value because it is most certainly true. When a man hears some news which pleases him,he loses that pleasure if he has reason to suspect that it is not true. The first questions you ask, when someone tells youof some good fortune that concerns you, are of this sort, "Are you quite sure it is so? Can you give me good authority foryour assertion?"

Well, this news is certainly true, for it is consistent with God's very Nature. He is a gracious God. "He delights in mercy."Mercy was the last of His attributes that He was able to reveal. He could be great and good when the world was made, but Hecould not be merciful until sin had marred His perfect handiwork. There must be an offense committed before there can be mercydisplayed towards the offender. Mercy, then, I may say, is God's Benjamin-His last-born, His favored one, the son of His righthand. I never read that He delights in power, or that He delights in justice, but I do read, "He delights in mercy." It isthe attribute that is sweetest to Himself to exercise. When He goes forth to punish, as He must, His feet are, as it were,shod with iron-but when He comes to manifest His mercy, He rides, as David says, "upon the wings of the wind." He delightsto be gracious and, therefore, I feel sure that there is forgiveness with Him.

We are even more sure that it is so when we remember that God has given us the best pledge of forgiveness by giving us Hisdear Son. He could not be merciful at the expense of His justice, for His Throne is established in righteousness and thatrighteousness requires that He should by no means spare the guilty. How, then, could He display His Grace and mercy and yetbe the just God? He did it thus. The offended One took the nature and the place of the offenders and here, on this earth,Jesus of Nazareth, who was "very God of very God," suffered all that we had brought upon ourselves, that the Law of God mightbe honored by executing its full penalty and yet that the Free Grace and mighty mercy of God might be equally manifest. Ifany of you doubt whether there is forgiveness with God, I pray you to stand on Calvary, in imagination, and to look into thewounds of Jesus. Gaze upon His nail-pierced hands and feet, His thorn-crowned brow, and look right into His heart where thesoldier's spear was thrust-and blood and water flowed out for the double cleansing of all who trust Him. O Christ of God,it could not be that You should die and yet that sinners cannot be forgiven! It would be a monstrous thing that You shouldhave bled to death and yet that no sinner should be saved by that death! It cannot be-there must be forgiveness-there is forgivenesssince Jesus died, "the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God."

Moreover, we have God's promise of forgiveness, as well as the gift of His Son. His Word says, "Let the wicked forsake hisway, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God,for He will abundantly pardon." It is declared by the Apostle John, under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the bloodof Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses from all sin. Many other passages in the Bible teach the same glorious Truth-"Come now,and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they arered like crimson, they shall be as wool." "I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will notremember your sins." "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins: return unto Me,for I have redeemed you." Time would fail me to mention all the Lord's promises of forgiveness, they are so many. And rememberthat it is the God who cannot lie who has given the promises, so you may be sure that they are all true and that there isforgiveness with Him!

We are certain, also, that there is forgiveness, because there is a Gospel, and the very essence of the Gospel lies in theproclamation of the pardon of sin. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, "Go you into all the world and preach the Gospelto every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." But no one can be saved without sin being pardoned- therefore,there is pardon for the sin of everyone who believes and is baptized according to the Gospel command. Christ's ministers mayall go home, for their office is useless, if there is no forgiveness of sins! We may shut up all our houses of prayer, forit is a mockery to God and man to keep them open if there is no forgiveness of sins! We may abolish the Mercy Seat, itself,and burn this blessed Bible if there is no forgiveness of sins! What value can there be in the means of Grace- what can bethe use or signification of any Gospel at all-if sin is not pardonable? But it can be pardoned! There is forgiveness. If youwant evidence in confirmation of that declaration, there are hundreds of us who are prepared to prove that we have been forgiven-andthere are hundreds of thousands, now alive, who know that their sins have been pardoned and that they have been absolved fromall their guilt for Christ's sake! And there are millions of millions, beyond all count, before yon burning Throne of Godwho continually praise Him who loved them and washed them from their sins in His own blood!

I bear my own personal testimony that I know there is forgiveness, for I have been forgiven. If it were the proper time todo so, I would ask all here who know that their sins have been forgiven, to stand up. If I did so, some of you would be astonishedto see how great an army of men and women in this Tabernacle would declare that they, also, have been saved by Grace, andthat they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb! Unless we are all de-

ceived-and we are not, for we have the witness of the Spirit of God within us that we are not-and unless all who have fallenasleep in Christ have perished, there is forgiveness with God! This fact should make us very joyous because it is so certain.There is no need to dispute it-I hope none of you will do so. If any of you doubt it, I beg you to come and test it and tryit for yourselves and, with the blessing of God, you will say with the Psalmist, "There is forgiveness."

This fact gathers additional sweetness from another source, namely, that the declaration is in the present tense. "There isforgiveness." When? Now-at this moment there is forgiveness. Possibly you are 80 years of age, but there is forgiveness. Oryou may be very young-a little boy or girl, but there is forgiveness for the young as well as for the old! You tell me thatyou have already rejected many invitations? Yes, but there is forgiveness. It is to be had now, blessed be God, for, "behold,now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Believe right now in Jesus Christ, God's Son, and you haveforgiveness now-in a moment! It takes no appreciable period of time for God to forgive sin. Swifter than the lightning flashis the glance from the eye of God that conveys peace and pardon to the soul that trusts in Jesus! You would need time to geta pardon signed and sealed by an earthly monarch, but time is out of the question with the God of Everlasting Love. A sigh,a groan, a genuine confession of sin, a believing glance of the eye to Christ on Cal-vary-and all is done-your sin has passedaway, there is forgiveness and you have received it! Therefore, go and rejoice in it!

You must not forget to notice, however, that this is a fact which refers to GodHimsel-"There is forgiveness with You"-andwith nobody else. I charge you to spurn, with the utmost indignation, the so-called "absolution" by a so-called "priest,"whether of the Church of England or the Church of Rome! Such absolution as that is not worth the foul breath that utters it!I marvel, sometimes, how any man can ever, apparently, delude himself and try to deceive his sinful fellow creature by daringto say, "I forgive you your sins." I suppose it is use and habit that makes men do strange things at which an unsophisticatedconscience shudders, but, to me, the blasphemer's coarse oath that makes my blood curdle as I go down the street has not halfthe iniquity in it of the man who deliberately puts on certain specified vestments, claims to be a priest of the Most HighGod, and then says to a sinner like himself, "I absolve you." I think the time has come when all Christians ought, in everyway they can, to shake themselves from these abominable priestcraft and lies altogether! The very dress we wear, the veryposition we occupy in the congregation, should be a protest against this wickedness in the sight of God-for wickedness itis, of the most extreme kind-though I believe the perpetrators of it do not always know what they do, so we may pray, "Father,forgive them and open their blind eyes."

Go, Sinner, straight to God for pardon, through Jesus Christ! But never, never, go to man! As to confessing your sins to aman-pouring the dirty sewage of your filthy nature into another man's ear and making that ear the common cesspool of the parish-oh,that is intolerable even to ordinary decency-and much more to the purity which the Grace of God suggests! Go to Jesus, theone Mediator between God and men! Go and kiss His pierced hands and feet, and confess your sin to Him who made the propitiationfor it! But go nowhere else, I charge you, at your soul's peril-lest, like Judas, who first went and confessed to a priestand afterwards went out and hanged himself, you should be driven to despair and a similar awful suicide! O God, as "thereis forgiveness with You," deliver Your poor fallen creatures from the further dreadful degradation of bowing themselves downbefore sinners like themselves, confessing their sins and seeking pardon where it cannot be found! There is forgiveness, butthat forgiveness is only to be obtained from God, through Jesus Christ, His Son.

Notice, next, in the text, the unlimited character of this forgiveness-"There is forgiveness with You." You see, there isno word to limit it-it does not say that there is forgiveness only for a certain number-there is no such restriction as that.Nor does it say that there is forgiveness only for a certain sort of sin-there is no such limit as that. Nor is it said, "Thereis forgiveness up to a certain point, or forgiveness up to a certain date." No, but the declaration, "there is forgivenesswith You," stands out in all its glorious fullness and simplicity, with no abridging or qualifying words whatever. Do not,poor Sinner, put a limit where God puts none, but build your hope of pardon and salvation on this declaration and go to God,through Jesus Christ, and you shall find that there is forgiveness for you-even for you, at this very hour! I pray that youmay prove it to be so.

Let me also add that the forgiveness which God gives to a sinner is complete. He blots out all sin. It is also sincere. Hereally does forgive when He says that He does. It is lasting, too. God does not forgive us today and accuse us again tomorrow.No, let me give you a better word than lasting-God's forgiveness is everlasting. He who is once forgiven is

forgiven to all eternity! Forgiveness is one of the gifts of God that are without change-He never gives it and then regretsthat He has done so. If you get forgiveness from God, you have the first link in an endless chain of mercies. You shall becomeGod's child-His beloved. He will teach you, care for you, keep you, sanctify you, bless you, perfect you and, in due time,bring you to Heaven! Oh, the heap of blessedness which lie in this one gracious gift of God-the forgiveness of sins! I wishthat, by any power of mine, I could induce all of you to seek this forgiveness. No, I retract that expression-I do not wishthat any power of mine should do it, lest I should have the honor of it-but I do pray that God'spower may do it for all ofyou-that you may be made conscious of sin, believe in Jesus Christ and so find that perfect pardon which God is waiting andwilling to give to all who trust His Son!

II. Now I pass on to the second part of our subject which is A MOST ADMIRABLE DESIGN-There is forgiveness with You, that Youmay be feared." How does forgiveness cause men to fear God?

First, it is clear that God's design in proclaiming forgiveness is the opposite of what some men have said and thought. Wehave known many who have said, "There is forgiveness, so let us keep on sinning." Others, not quite so base, have said, "Thereis forgiveness, so we can have it whenever we please." Holding this idea, they have trifled with sin and they have delayedto seek forgiveness, drawing-oh, I am ashamed to say it of my fellow men!-drawing the infamous inference that, as God is merciful,they may live in sin as long as they like and then find mercy at the last! I would like any man who has adopted that strangelycruel and wicked way of dealing with God's mercy to look straight at it for a minute. I think that if I had a friend whomI had grieved and I knew that he was ready to forgive me, I would not, therefore, put off the reconciliation and so grievehim still more! I would be very base, indeed, if I acted like that! Or if I were a child and I had vexed my father, but hewas very gentle and forgiving, I think that if I were to say, "It does not matter much-father will forgive me whenever I askhim, so I shall not ask him for months, or perhaps years." If I did talk so, it would be very base on my part. I ask you,Brothers and Sisters, not to talk so and not to act so. It is not fair and just treatment of our gracious God! It is not evenworthy of man. Why, if even a beast is treated kindly, it will scarcely return a kick for kindness. Some perverse animalswill do that, but most will generally, at length, yield to kindness. And the long-suffering of God ought much more to leadyou to repentance and not induce you to continue in your sins.

This design of God is quite contrary to what some other men have said would naturally arise out of the Doctrine of Free andFull Forgiveness. So-called "priests" have said, "If men can have pardon by simply believing in Jesus, they will cast offall restraint, so, let us keep them under our thumb-tell them that there are certain 'sacraments' that they must attend andthat they must look up to us and then we will get them into Purgatory. And then, when sufficient money is paid to us, we willget them out." But pardon-free pardon, perfect pardon, pardon given on the spot to simple faith- they tell us that this wouldtend to demoralize people! Well, that is a subject on which they can speak, for nobody has demoralized people more than so-called"priests" have done! But it is evident that God does not agree with them. It is written here, by the Inspiration of the HolySpirit, "There is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared, "so that, instead of destroying any man's fear, or reverence,or religion, the gift of a free pardon is to be the very means of producing such a condition of heart and life! Let us lookat this point for a minute or two.

In the first place, if there were no pardon, it is quite certain that nobody would fear God at all. There is no forgivenessfor the devil and all his legions-and there is not a devil that has any reverence or love or adoration for God. No, they abidein sullen despair. They know that there is no hope for them and, being shut up to despair because their sin is unpardonable,they rage and rave against the God of Heaven! You never read of a devil on his knees in prayer. Whoever heard of a devil saying,"Out of the depths have I cried unto You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications"?And why do the devils not pray like that? Why, because, among other reasons, there is no forgiveness for devils and, therefore,none of the right kind of fear of God! They tremble, I grant you. They have a certain sort of dread and, without pardon, theremay be a dread and horror of God. But that is not what our text means, for the fear of God, in Scripture, does not signifydread-it signifies true religion, holy reverence and awe-"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And, unless thereis pardon of sin, it is clear that its absence drives the sinners to despair and prevents them from worshipping God.

Again, if there were no pardon, there would be nobody to fear God, for, Brothers and Sisters, if God had not had mercy uponus, He would long ago have swept us away! It is mercy-even if it is not pardoning mercy, it is mercy-

which permits us to live! If God had no pardon for any of the whole human race, there would be no necessity for reprievingmen at all-the tree of humanity would long since have been cut down as a cumberer of the ground.

Now turn to the positive side of this subject. When the Gospel is faithfully preached and attentively heard, the very hearingof it, under the blessing of the Holy Spirit, breeds faith in the soul, for "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Wordof God." But, Brothers, suppose we had no pardon to preach-would there be any faith? Could there be any faith then? Have youever heard of a man who believed in an unpardoning god? Did anybody ever yet hear of a sinner believing in a god who manifestsno mercy and bestows no forgiveness? Only the heathen trust to such gods, which are no gods! The very fact that pardon isproclaimed and carried to the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, produces faith in the soul-and faith is the root andfoundation of all true fear of God.

After faith comes repentance, or, rather, repentance is faith's twin brother and is born at the same time. Nobody ever repenteduntil he heard of pardon. Let a man be certain that he cannot be pardoned and you may be quite sure that he will not repent.He may feel remorse. He may regret and lament his sin because of the penalty which follows it, but that gentle softening ofthe soul which makes us hate sin because it is committed against such a good and gracious God is not possible until, firstof all, the heart has believed that there is forgiveness with God. Evangelical repentance is one of the fruits of the Gospelof forgiveness and no other tree can produce it. So, you see, Beloved, that because there is forgiveness, men exercise faithand they also experience repentance-and these two Divine Graces are a very large part of what is meant by the Scriptural term,"the fear of the Lord."

It is also the good news of pardon that inclines the heart to prayer. You would never have heard of a man praying for mercyif there had been no mercy to be obtained! If Jesus had never died and the Gospel had never been sent into the world-if therehad been no proclamation of pardon, it would never have been said of Saul of Tarsus, "Behold, he prays." No, prayer arisesin the soul as a result of the telling of the glad tidings that pardon is to be had. And prayer, like faith and repentance,is a large part of "the fear of the Lord." The man who truly prays is certainly one who fears God.

When a man really receives the pardon of all his sins, he is the man who fears the Lord. This is clearly the case, for pardonbreeds love in the soul and the more a man is forgiven, the more he loves. Where great sin has been blotted out, there comesto be great love. Well, is not love the very core of the true fear of God? If a man really loves God, has he not discoveredthe very essence of true religion? But how could he love God if there was no pardon to be had?

Pardon also breeds obedience. A man says, "Have I been forgiven? Then I will seek to avoid all sin in the future. Out of loveto God I will labor to do that which He bids me do." And, surely, obedience is a very large part of the fear of


And, oftentimes, this forgiving love of God breeds in the soul deep devotion andintense consecration to Him. There have livedand there are living now, men and women who have given their whole selves to Jesus, many of whom are laboring for Him evenbeyond their strength-yes, and many such men and women have died, for His sake, the most cruel deaths, without shrinking backor seeking to escape that terrible cross. Where came such a fear of God as that? Why, it could never have come into theirhearts if they had not received the forgiveness of their sins for Christ's sake, but, having been forgiven, they came to loveand fear-not with a servile fear, but with a holy awe-the Blessed One through whose precious blood they have been cleansed!Thus forgiveness of sin is essential to true fear of God-and wherever it is enjoyed, it is the main motive which moves themto fear God and brings them into that blessed condition. Is not that clear to all of you?

I finish my discourse by asking and trying to answer this question-As there is forgiveness to be had, why should YOU not haveit? I may not be able to point "you"out, though, often, God does direct my finger, or eye, or word, to the very person forwhom there is forgiveness. So I ask again-As there is forgiveness to be had, why should you not have it? Young man under thegallery, why should you not have it? Young woman down in that area, why should you not have it? Suppose you should never getit? Suppose you should die without being forgiven? Oh, that would greatly aggravate all the ordinary pains of death! If youdie unpardoned, your doom will be the more terrible because there is forgiveness with God, yet it is of no use to you!

One of my predecessors, Dr. Rippon, had considerable influence with the government of his day. Those were what some foolishpeople call, "the good old days," when they used to hang people on a Monday morning, as a regular thing, and take little noticeof it. It so happened that one who was related to a former member of this church was condemned to

die. It was believed that he was innocent, so there was much intercession offered on his behalf to the government-and a pardonwas granted and signed by King George III. Very Providentially, it happened that one of the members of the church, going tothe prison, said to the governor, "I hear that you have eight prisoners to hang tomorrow." He answered, "I have nine for tomorrow.""No," said the other, "there were nine, but one of them has been pardoned." "I know nothing about that," said the governor,"I have received no pardon and, unless I do receive one, I shall hang him tomorrow morning."

The news came to Dr. Rippon, and he took the post chaise [a closed, four-wheeled, horse-drawn carriage, formerly used to transportmail and passengers]-in those times, that was the only way of travelling-and rode down to Windsor. He went to the castle and,by dint of that modesty which is always becoming in a minister of the Gospel, if it is not carried too far, he pushed himselfin and demanded to see the king! He managed, at last, to get to the ante-room, next to the one where His Majesty was sleeping.Hearing a noise, the king asked, "What is that?" His attendant answered, "Here is a Dr. Rippon who says he must see Your Majesty.""Show him in, then," he said, and Dr. Rippon saw the king in bed and said to him, "Your Majesty gave a pardon to such-and-sucha man." "Yes, I know I did." "But they have not got it at the prison and the man is going to be hanged in the morning if Ido not get back to London in time." So the king posted the good doctor back with another pardon-and the man was saved!

Suppose he had been hanged? What would his parents have said? Well, they might have said, "There was forgiveness, yet he washanged." I think that would have been the bitterest ingredient in their grief-that they had obtained forgiveness for him andyet, after all, that he was hanged. Happily, it was not so, but, Sirs, as there is pardon to be had-if you will not ask forit-as there is pardon to be had by confessing your sin and believing in Jesus, yet you will not seek it- why, then, when youare lost, you will say to yourself, "Oh, what a fool I was! There was forgiveness, but I neglected to seek it! There was forgiveness,but I did not realize that I needed it, so I have perished by my own folly." I charge you, men and women, to remember thatif you are lost, your doom will be far more terrible than that of those who have never heard the Gospel because you have hadthe way of salvation plainly set before you and I have again exhorted you, as best I can, to walk in it! Oh, how I wish Icould exhort you with more earnestness, and in more persuasive words, but, perhaps even then there would be an equal failure!I implore you, do not put eternal life away from you! Do not refuse the pardon that the Lord Jesus Christ presents to allwho trust Him! Trust Him, I pray you, trust Him now! And the pardon shall be yours.

"But," says someone, "I am afraid of what I may do in the future. If I were forgiven now, I am afraid I should again act justas I have done before." Well, then, take the text as a whole-"There is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared." If youreceive the forgiveness of God, you will have the fear of God put into your heart at the same time, for this is a part ofthe ancient Covenant-"I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me." "A new heart also will I giveyou, and a new spirit will I put within you." Poor Sinner, here is a wonder of Grace for you-the past forgiven and the futureguaranteed by a wondrous miracle of mercy worked within your heart-making you a new creature in Christ Jesus!

Blessed Spirit, apply this message to the Lord's own chosen ones and save many precious souls through it, for the Redeemer'ssake! Amen.


Psalm 32:1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. No man knows the blessedness of pardoned sin but theman who has felt the weight of guilt upon his conscience. If you have ever been burdened and crushed under a load of sin,it will be a joy worth more than ten thousand worlds for you to get the burden lifted from your shoulders! "Blessed"-blessedbeyond description-"is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

2. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. He has no need to dissemble,for his sin is forgiven. David had tried to tamper with his conscience after his great sin. He invented all sorts of excusesand schemes to try to hide his guilt, but when, at last, he was fully convinced of the awful sinfulness of his sin, and whenGod had put it away forever-then-when the guilt was gone, the guile went, too.

3, 4. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy uponme: my vitality was turned into the drought of summer Selah. As if he was parched and scorched with inward grief. The agonyof his soul kept him from sleeping, prevented him from taking his necessary food and made him seem like a prematurely oldman.

5. I acknowledged my sin unto You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD;and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. O blessed termination of a terrible condition of heart! Confession pulled upthe floodgates of his soul and God caused the black stream to flow away and disappear! Friend, are you trying to conceal anysin or to excuse yourself in any wrong course? Then your soul will fret and worry more and more. But make a clean breast ofit before God-in the humblest and most honest language you can use-and then you shall receive the Lord's full and free forgiveness!

6. For this shall everyone who is godly pray unto You in a time when You may be found. Surely in the floods of great watersthey shall not come near unto him. A man who can pray shall see even the ocean driven back, as Moses did! If you get nearto God and stay near to Him, the floods of great waters shall never get near to you.

7. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.The world is full of music to the man to whom God has said, "I forgive you." Do not rest, dear Friend, till you really knowthat you are forgiven, for if you do, you will rest short of all true happiness. But if you have sought God's mercy and hadyour sin forgiven, you are already at the gates of Heaven!

8. I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go: I will guide you with My eye. When God forgives, He alsosanctifies. When He has brought back the sheep that wandered off into the wrong road, He afterwards leads it in the righttrack. Notice how the Lord says, "I will guide you with My eye." A look from the Lord ought to be enough to guide us-we shouldnot need a blow, nor even a word, but be ready to be directed by the very gentlest monition of God's gracious Spirit.

9. Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle,lest they come near unto you. Do not be difficult to manage. Be not hard-mouthed. Be ready to be guided by the eye of God.Be not like stubborn beasts that must be held in with bit and bridle-and that often need the whip, too.

10. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked. Wicked man, that is the portion that is to come to you-and it will surely come toyou if you continue in your present evil course. This is the title deed of your future inheritance-do you like the prospectof such a possession as that? "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked."

10, 11. But he that trusts in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, you righteous, andshout for joy, all you that are upright in heart. Let your joy be demonstrative! Do not be ashamed to let others see how happyyou are. The Lord has done great things for you-therefore, "be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous, and shout forjoy, all you that are upright in heart." Be so jubilant that others shall be compelled to glorify God with you and to ask,"May not we also share this great blessing with you?"

Psalm 130:1. Out of the depths have I cried unto You, O LORD. "Sinking, sinking, sinking-drowning, dying- hope all but gone, almost everythinggone-yet I have cried unto You with much fear and little hope. 'Out of the depths have I cried unto You, O Lord.'"

2, 3. Lord, hear my voice: let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,O Lord, who shall stand? Judged by ourselves, on the ground of absolute justice, none of us can hope to stand before His JudgmentSeat without being condemned. I trust that we all know and feel that this is true.

4, 5. But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, andin His word doI hope. Never yet has any poor soul perished that could use such language as this! It may be a long while before you get thefull comfort of all the Lord's promises, but you are sure to have it, sooner or later, if you can but hope "in His Word."Well did good John Newton sing-

"Rejoice, Believer, in the Lord, Who makes your cause His own! The hope that's built upon His Word Can never be overthrown!"

6-8. My soul waits for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And

He shall redeem Israel from all her iniquities. Children of God, plead that precious promise-"He shall redeem Israel fromall her iniquities." And never rest till you are fully freed from the bondage of sin, for God will work a perfect work inyou and then He will take you Home to be with Him forevermore!


-Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Version 1.0, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307


Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit

Prisoners Delivered




"As for you also, by the blood of your covenant Ihave sent forth yourr prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold,you prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto you."

Zechariah 9:11,12.

THIS text primarily relates to Israel-to the Jews-and there can be no doubt whatever that there are great blessings in storefor God's ancient people. Although blindness in part has happened unto Israel, yet, in due time, we know from the Word ofGod that the seed of Abraham will recognize our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the long-promised Messiah When that happyday comes, the Lord will give to the whole world times of amazing blessing. The fullness of the Gentiles also will then beexperienced. Then, too, shall come the latter-day glory of Jerusalem and all nations shall rejoice with her.

You notice that the text begins with the words, "As for you also," which might be translated so as to run parallel with thatpathetic exclamation of our Savior when He wept over Jerusalem and said, "If you had known, even you, at least in this, yourday, the things which belong unto your peace: but now they are hid from your eyes." The Hebrew of our text might be rendered,"As for you, even you," and the meaning of the expression is, "There is some very special blessing for you, O Jerusalem! Itis not for the heathen, but, as for you, O Zion-you seed of Abraham according to the flesh-there is something special in storefor you." I think we ought to pray for the Jews more often than we do, and to look more hopefully upon the Jews than we usuallydo-and not to speak of them as an unbelieving race. The fact is, they have been, in some respects, too believing, for theyhave blindly clung to the old faith of their fathers instead of going on to know the Lord Jesus Christ. When they do acceptHim, that firm adherence which they have shown to the traditions of their sires will make them grandly strong in faith inthe only true Messiah. I suppose, however, that we have no Jews with us here, so it is no use, just now, for me to addressthem. But I may use the text as a message to ourselves. While I do so, may the Holy Spirit bless it to us all! When we readin the Scriptures concerning Israel, we may fairly translate it to mean, spiritually, the Church of God, for, as all who believeare the children of believing Abraham, so all who have been born-again, by the power of the Holy Spirit, belong to the chosenSeed and may be rightly called, "Israel." In this spiritual sense, how sweetly has our text been fulfilled in the experienceof many of us who are the true Israel of God, though Abraham is ignorant of us and Sarah acknowledge us not!

What a wonderful history "the Church of the living God" has had! She has been, so Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "persecuted,but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." I have sometimes seen, in Scotland, what they call vitrified forts whichhave, evidently, passed through the fire to such an extent that the whole of the wall has become vitrified into one firmlyunited mass-and the Church of God seems to me to have been like those vitrified forts, for the fire has been concentratedupon her seven times hotter than anywhere else. Yet to this day the Church of Christ still firmly stands! The Truth of Godis still to the front and the name of Jesus is still-

"High over all,

In Hell, or earth, or sky

Angels and men before it fall-

And devils fear and fly."

So shall it be even to the end!

The 48th Psalm reminds us of the glory of the ancient "city of the great King," and of the terror that fell upon her adversaries-"For,lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled and hastenedaway. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail." So shall it be with the present race of skepticsand rejecters of Christ! Hundreds of generations of skeptics have come and gone like the sere leaves of autumn. They werefresh and green for a little while and then they professed to be a shade to the Church with their philosophy and vain deceit,after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world-but not after Christ. And before long they withered, fell androtted into the soil from which they sprang. Yet still the Truth of God abides and "the Church of the living God, the pillarand ground of the truth," still stands fast, awaiting the grand consummation when the topstone shall be placed upon the glorioustemple amid shouts of "Grace, Grace unto it."

Looking into this passage, we notice, first, that there are some prisoners mentioned and they are said to be in a terribleplight Then, in the second place, there is an emancipation spoken of and the cause of that emancipation is mentioned.

I. First, THERE ARE SOME PRISONERS MENTIONED AND THEY ARE SAID TO BE IN A TERRIBLE PLIGHT. We need not look long to find thoseprisoners, for some of them are here in our midst-and there are others here who were once imprisoned thus-but they have beenset free.

These prisoners are said to be in a pit. It was a common custom and still is, in the East, not to go to the expense of buildingprisons, but to make use of dry wells-and the authorities were not always very particular in seeing that they were dry. Theyjust let the prisoner down by a rope, which they pulled up, leaving him in what was, usually, a very secure prison, indeed.No trouble was taken to fit up a proper cell. No money was expended upon ventilation, or anything of the kind. The pit wasusually deep and dark-and a great stone was rolled over the mouth of it-and there the prisoner was left, in solitary confinement,often to die of hunger and thirst. If anyone thought or cared to bring him bread and water, it was well for him, but, in manycases, the prisoners were forgotten and nobody ever heard of them anymore. In fact, they were buried alive-and that was, spiritually,our condition when we were in the pit where there is no water.

I look back, 20 years or so, ago, and see myself, as I then was, in that horrible pit-consciously in that pit. We were allthere by nature, but we did not know it. But, at the time I am recalling, I didknow it. The Lord had opened my eyes and ledme to see that I was in a deep, waterless pit by reason of the original sin in the fall of Adam. I saw that I was cast downinto a deep pit from which I could not get out by my own exertions-with a nature averse to everything that was good-with awill that was strong for evil, but impotent for good-with a judgment that was out of gear-a taste that put bitter for sweetand sweet for bitter-a heart that had turned aside unto idols-with everything about me as wrong as wrong could be! I distinctlyremember that I did not trouble so much about the original sin through the Fall as I did about my own actual sins and transgressions.Oh, those dreadful walls of guilt that rose up all around me! Dense was the darkness in which I was enveloped and the fewgleams of light that ever pierced that darkness only made me see more clearly the huge black walls of my old sins-my youthfulsins, not forgotten to this day, but remembered with deep regret-sins of thought, sins of imagination, sins of word, suchsins as I was capable of committing at that period of my life. Well do I remember that pit of actual sin. Perhaps some ofyou are in it at this moment. It is a horrible pit for anyone to be in and it is peculiarly so to some men. If a man has livedfor many years in sin, but only in his later life-perhaps when verging on old age-has begun to get enough of the Light ofGod to show him what he really is in God's sight, it is an awful thing for him to wake up and find himself in the pit of condemnationas the result of both original and actual sin!

There was a man, once, who lay asleep and, as he slept, he dreamt that he was in a gorgeous palace with marble halls and goldand gems in the utmost profusion. But, as a matter of fact, he was all the while asleep in a loathsome hole where everythingwas polluted and foul. When he awoke, the gilded walls had all gone and the marble halls had all vanished- and, realizingwhere he was, the fleeting pleasure of his dream was changed to the abiding misery of the actual facts of his sorrowful experience!Possibly I am addressing some who have just awakened out of their life's dream and have discovered where they are-where theyare by nature and where they are by practice, too-down, down, down in a deep pit where there is no water! For, be it knownto you that whenever a man finds himself lost by nature, and by practice, too, he very soon finds that he is also lost bythe just condemnation of God-for the thrice-holy Jehovah cannot look upon a polluted heart without abhorrence! It is not possiblefor Him to see sin without being angry. Some people, in these degenerate days, have invented for themselves a god who equallyloves all men whatever their characters may be-who looks

upon loathsome imaginations and filthy thoughts with an altogether indifferent eye-and still goes on to bless, let men dowhat they may. But such a god as that is not the God revealed to us in this old-fashioned Book! Nor is he my father's God,nor mine, nor yours! Indeed, he is like the idols that are no gods at all! No, where there is sin, justice demands that thereshould be condemnation-and it also requires that there should be punishment as well. So this is the dreadful thing about ourcondition by nature-that when we were held in the bonds of sin, we were also condemned and lay in the condemned cell, onlyawaiting the hour of execution. That was our condition, spiritually-like prisoners in a pit.

We are also told, in our text, there was no water Now, generally, in a pit, you do find some water-it drops from the clouds,if it comes from nowhere else. When Jeremiah was let down, with cords, into the dungeon of Malchiah, we read that, "in thedungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sank in the mire." It is only natural that in deep holes sunk in the earth,the water should stand in a pool at the bottom. But this pit, of which our text speaks, has all the disadvantages and noneof the advantages of an ordinary pit. It is called, as though with an emphasis, "the pit where there is no water"-and thereare some ungodly men who are in just such a pit as that. There are others who are up to their armpits in water-very muddystuff it is-I should not like to drink it, yet they seem able to quench their thirst with it. They are the men who take pleasurein sin and enjoy iniquity!

But Brothers and Sisters, when God means to save a man, He makes him realize that he is in a pit in which there is no water.When a man has reached that point, all "the pleasures of sin" have vanished. He finds that he cannot any longer be pleasedwith that which once used to afford him great delight. Some of you know what this strange experience means- that the verythings you used to crave have become most loathsome to you. Your soul lusted after them and you said, in your youth, "If Icould only have these things, I would be the happiest mortal on the earth." Well, you have had your fill of them and you donot want any more! You are sick of them, as one may eat honey till he loathes the very sight of it. I have heard of a poorflower girl in the streets of London who used to sell violets all day long, taking home at night those she had left. Havingthem always about her, she said that she hated the smell of violets-and God can make men hate the smell of their sweetestsins and flee from them with disgust! He can turn their sweet wine into the most sour vinegar so that they will be as gladto get away from it as they once were fond of running to it!

When a soul is in this condition, in the pit where there is no water, it often happens that even the lawful comforts of earthlose their usual comforting force. Well do I recollect the time when I was in this waterless pit. It mattered very littleto me what I ate or drank. It made but a slight difference to me whether it was day or night, for, by day I dreaded the wrathof God. And if I fell asleep at night, I dreamt of it and wondered, when I awoke, that I was not already in Hell. Even thoseyouthful games and those lawful amusements into which, as a lad, I entered, lost all charm for me. If you have read John Bunyan's"Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners," you know that at the time when he was under conviction of sin, nothing comfortedhim at all. There seemed to him to be no brightness in the sky, no flowers on the earth, and no melody in the sweetest songsof the birds. Well, if it is so with any of you, dear Friends-if you are in a pit where there is no water-none whatever-Ihope my text applies to you and that you belong to the special class of prisoners to whom the Lord thus speaks-"As for youalso, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisoners from the waterless pit."

The Lord is speaking of those who secretly belong to the Covenant race of Israel, His own chosen and redeemed ones. Thoughyou know it not as yet, your name is recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life. Though His love has not, as yet, been fully madeknown to you, He has ordained you unto everlasting life and, therefore, though you are at present in the pit, you cannot diethere and you cannot always lie there. Though you are at present without water, you shall never perish of thirst. You maybe brought to dire distress, but you shall then prove that man's extremity is God's opportunity. As the Lord lives, who choseyou by His Grace long before He made the heavens and the earth, He will bring you, as His prisoners, out of the horrible pitand the miry clay, set your feet upon a rock and establish your goings! That is the first thing mentioned in the text-prisonersin a very terrible plight.

II. Secondly, THE TEXT SPEAKS ABOUT EMANCIPATION. AND THE CAUSE OF THAT EMANCIPATION IS MENTIONED-"By the blood of your covenantI have sent forth your prisoners from the waterless pit."

Delivered from that horrible pit! How did they get out? The text tells us that God sent them out of it. Oh, that awful pitof natural depravity-that dreadful pit of actual sin-that fearful pit of just damnation! Nobody ever yet came out of thatpit except by Divine Power-nor need anybody ever wish to escape by his own power, for if he did so escape, he

might be dragged back again into the dungeon. If a prisoner is released by the king himself, who will dare to re-arrest him?If the Lord, Himself, delivers us, where is the power that can put us back into the pit? It is Jehovah who says, "I have sentforth your prisoners out of the pit where there is no water." Some of us recollect the time when the Lord did thus send usforth. None but He could have done it, but He did it-and did it thoroughly! He snapped every fetter that was upon us, liftedus right up out of the abyss and fully and forever emancipated us-all glory to His ever-blessed name!

Then our text tells us how God did it-"By the blood of your covenant." Oh, what a grand way of deliverance this is! Do youknow what this expression, "by the blood of your covenant," means? There was a Covenant between God and His chosen people,made of old, before the day star had first cast his bright beams into the darkness. To make that Covenant sure, God's only-begottenand well-beloved Son had agreed with His Father that He would ratify it with His own blood. And, in due time, He came to thisearth and fulfilled that Covenant by offering up Himself as the God-appointed Victim in the place of guilty men. Now, Brothersand Sisters, it is by that blood of the Everlasting Covenant, offered in our place, that we were set free from the bondageof sin! I heard, the other day, that some wise man had said that if a preacher wanted to be popular-by which I suppose hemeant to draw many to hear the Gospel-He must preach blood, and fire, and smoke! I do not know what the smoke has to do withit but I do know that there is nothing that has such power as the precious blood of Christ which cleanses from all sin, andthat, next to the blood of Jesus, there is nothing that has such power as the blessed fire which comes down from Heaven, touchesthe preacher's lips and makes him speak with fervor and enthusiasm of that precious blood!

There is no man, either living or dead, who was ever sent forth out of the pit of soul-despair except by the blood of thecovenant. I can assure you of one thing-the man who can do without the atoning Sacrifice of Christ has never known what trueconviction of sin is. Men and women who received their "religion" by natural descent, or who jumped into it in the excitementof a revival meeting, may, perhaps, be content to do without the blood, but, if the Lord has put you into the pit where thereis no water and brought you up out of it, you know that there was no deliverance for you until God, in human flesh, made Atonementfor your sin by His blood. And, to this hour, if ever you are disturbed and doubtful concerning your true position in God'ssight, you always come back to the blood of the Everlasting Covenant offered upon Calvary's Cross! And you sing-

"Dear dying Lamb, Your precious blood Shall never lose its power, Till all the ransomed Church of God Is saved to sin no more."

If, Sirs, you take away the atoning Sacrifice, you make that blessed Book to be a mere husk from which the kernel has beenwithdrawn. If you take away expiation by the precious blood of Jesus, you tear away the sinner's only ground of hope! Indeed,his only hope-and you leave us, of all men, most miserable. I know that when I understood that Jesus Christ bore, in my place,all that I deserved to bear of the wrath of God-and that His death had made the Law of God honorable, so that the Lord Jehovahcould pardon me without doing an injustice to the rest of mankind and without suffering the honor and glory of His righteousrule to be tarnished-I grasped it at once. It seemed to me to be far better than the balm of Gilead to my wounds when thegreat Physician laid His pierced hand upon me and the blood of His Covenant cleansed me from all guilt. And I pray that manyothers here may have the same experience. Of one thing I am sure-if you really grasp this Truth of God, you will never letit go-you never can let it go! This precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, will be to you,your hope, your rest, your joy, the seal of your Covenant with God and the cause of your walking at liberty forever, for ifthe Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed!

I should like to have said more upon this blessed theme, but time fails me, so I must only say, in passing-"Let every Christianremember that if once he knows the power of the blood of Jesus, there is a Covenant existing between him and his God, andhe can say with David, "He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure." Believer, between yoursoul and the Maker of Heaven and earth there is a compact which can never be broken! Though earth's huge pillars bow and break,this Covenant stands forever sure. You being in Christ and Christ being in you, you shall be saved, world without end, forGod has declared it and His truth stands fast forever!

III. Thirdly, our text contains A RECOMMENDATION TO THOSE WHO ONCE WERE PRISONERS-"Return to the stronghold, you prisonersof hope." I thought, dear Friends, that you were pulled up out of the pit-have you

been made prisoners again? If it is so, it is very sad, but you can never be imprisoned as you were before. Perhaps you havenot been living as carefully as you ought. Or, for some other reason your faith has become weak and so you have fallen intothe pit again. But you are not now in prison as you were before, for now you believe you will get out again. No, better thanthat, you are surethat you will. Albeit that sometimes Giant Despair tells you that you will die in the dungeons of DoubtingCastle, you know that you have a key called, "Promise," in your bosom-and though you have not used it as you should have done,you have the firm conviction that it will open any lock that old tyrant has made- and you hope, some day, to employ it tosuch good purpose that you will again be free! But, Sirs, you had no business to get into that pit again. When the Lord onceset you free, you should have taken good care not to go back again into bondage.

It is a great mercy that you can never go back to such bondage as you once experienced. You are prisoners, it is true, butyou are "prisoners of hope." Therefore, take the good advice of the text-"Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope."That same Lord Jesus Christ, who, by His precious blood, once set you free, is still a refuge from every storm and every enemy.And if you are wise, you will cry to Him to deliver you this very hour! I address myself to every Brother and every Sisterin Christ who has, in any sense, and to any degree, become a prisoner again. My dear Friend, the Lord delivered you, yearsago, did He not? Do you not recollect, with intense gratitude, what He did for you then? Well, He can deliver you again atthis very moment! You remember how joyfully you sang-

"He took my feet from the miry clay, And set me upon the King's Highway"? Well, He can do the same thing, again, and do itnow. Go to Him at once! You do not need a better Deliverer than the Lord who is "mighty to save," do you? And as He was ableto deliver you when you were so far gone as you used to be, He can surely deliver you now. You say that you are so foolishand so insensible that you cannot make yourself enjoy the means of Grace as you once did. It seems to you that as you getolder you get more insensible. Well, but, my dear Brothers and Sisters, you are not spiritually dead, are you? And yet, whenyou were really dead in trespasses and sins, Christ quickened you! Then, surely He can bring you out of this state of torporand restore you from this strange swoon into which your soul has fallen. Return to Jesus now, just as you came to Him at thefirst! If you cannot come to Him as a saint, come as a sinner!

Oh, the many hundreds of times that I have done that! And I expect to do it many more times before I get to Heaven. "What?"someone asks, "do you have to do that Mr. Spurgeon?" Oh, yes, that I do! The devil says to me, sometimes, "you are no childof God." It is no use to begin arguing with him about that matter! The best way to answer him is to say, "Well, Satan, ifI am not a child of God, I soon will be, for I will receive Christ as my Savior and that will make me God's child." "Then,"says the devil, "you talk about your faith, but you have no faith to talk about." "Very well," I reply, "if I have not any,I soon will have some, for I will begin to believe in Jesus now." Then he says, "Your Christian experience, as you call it,is all a delusion." Well, I never argue with him about that, but I say, "Suppose it is a delusion, it is still true that 'ChristJesus came into the world to save sinners' and He has promised to save all who trust in Him. So, here and now, I do trustHim and I am saved." Satan is a very old lawyer. He has been in the profession for many centuries and he knows how to raiseall manner of quibbles and difficulties-and he can argue and reason in a very crafty fashion. So your best plan is not toanswer him at all, except to say, "I have put my case into the hands of my great Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ. If you haveanything to say, you must say it to Him."

That is my earnest advice and it is the advice of the text, too, to all Christians who have, in any sense, come into bondageagain-"Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope." If you do that, you shall soon come once more into light and libertyand joy and peace!

IV. The last thing in our text is A DOUBLE BLESSING PROMISED-"Even today do I declare that I will render double unto you."If you turn to Christ, you shall get a double blessing! What does this part of the text mean?

Well, it means that God has such abundant Grace to give that He will not only give you what you really need, but He will giveyou twice as much as that!All the flowers in God's spiritual garden bloom double. There never was any mercy of His which hadnot many other mercies wrapped up in it. Every one of them contains far more blessing than we thought it did. Now, dear Brother,dear Sister-can you open your mouth wide and ask from God some great thing? If you do so, you shall receive from God twiceas much as you asked for! Do you feel a great need within your soul-a need that is

truly dreadful? It craves so much that it seems to be like the two daughters of the horseleech, crying, "Give, give!" Well,God will give you so much that you shall have enough to satisfy that craving twice over! Have you had some very great trouble?Then believe in the Lord and you shall have double as much joy! Have you had deep depression of spirit? You shall have doubleas much of holy exultation and delight! Has the Lord laid His rod very heavily upon you and made you sorely smart? Then Hewill give you two kisses to every blow! Has He made you drink out of the bitter cup? Then He will bring you a double draughtof the spiced wine of the juice of His pomegranate, two cups of that heavenly nectar for every cup of quassia that you havehad! He will make you consolations to abound and super-abound far above all your tribulations!

"Well," you say, "I am expecting something very great from the Lord." I am glad of it, but you will receive twice as much!The Queen of Sheba expected a great deal when she went to see Solomon, yet she had to say, "The half was not told me." Soshall you find it with God. I read in the Scriptures that God is Love, but His love to me has been a thousand times betterthan I ever expected it would be! I thought that when I came to trust under the shadow of His wings, that I should have mercyand Grace and peace-but I never dreamt how much mercy, Grace and peace I would have! And, Brothers and Sisters, I believeit is better than before and that there is something brighter and sweeter than anything I have ever known yet to come! Andit shall be the same with you. The Lord will go on to double your blessings and give you yet more and more, according to thatblessed text, "Of His fullness have we all received, and Grace for Grace"- Grace upon Grace.

I especially beg you to notice that this is a present promise-"Even today do I declare that I will render double unto you."Then why should you not get some of this double joy this very moment? I know that you said, as you were coming to this service,"I do not think I ought to stay for the Communion-I do not feel fit to go to the Table of the Lord. I seem to be as lifelessas a log. If I go and sit there, it will merely be to eat the bread and to drink the wine, but not to enjoy real fellowshipwith the Lord." Ah, my Brother, my Sister, if that is true concerning you, it is to you that the text says, "Return to thestronghold." Turn to Christ as you did at the first and then it may be that your fellowship with Him will be sweeter thaneven that which you enjoyed when first you came to His Table! It is the Lord who says, "Even today do I declare that I willrender double unto you." Plead the promise in silent prayer right now-if you do so in faith, I shall be surprised if you donot get a double blessing from the Lord very speedily.

Finally, note how true the promise is. When God says, "Even today do I declare that I will render double unto you," who amongus dares to doubt His declaration? I have sometimes heard people say, when they have needed to be believed, "I declare toyou that it is so." And you know that the law of the land now allows those of us who object to the taking of an oath, to makean affirmation and to say, "I do solemnly declare that such-and-such is the fact." And, in that fashion, God says, "Even todaydo I declare that I will render double unto you." Well, then, take Him at His word and "turn you to the stronghold." Whileyou are sitting here, trust the Lord to give you the double blessing that He has promised! If you do that, you may, each one,say, as you go home, "'Before I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib.' I had no idea, when I went intothe House of Prayer, that I could be so changed. I was singing, no, I mean, howling or growling-as I went up the steps-

"'Dear Lord, and shall I always lie At this poor dying rate? My love so faint, so cold to You And Yours to me so great?' yet,when I came out, I was able to sing, and almost to shout-

"'If ever I loved You, my Jesus, it is now.

God grant that this may be the happy experience of many of you, for Christ's sake! Amen.


Verse 1. The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach. Or Syria.

1, 2. And Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.And Hamath also shall border thereby. Tyrus. That is, Tyre.

2-4. And ZidOon, though it is very wise. And Tyrus did build herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver and the dust, andfine gold as the mire of the streets. Be