Sermon 2943. Restraining Prayer
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JULY 6, 1905.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, IN THE YEAR 1863.
"You...restrain prayer before God." Job 15:4.
THIS is one of the charges brought by Eliphaz the Temanite against Job, "Yes, you cast off fear, and restrain prayer beforeGod." I shall not use this sentence as an accusation against those who never pray, though there may be some in this Houseof Prayer whose heads are unaccustomed to bow down and whose knees are unaccustomed to kneel before the Lord, their Maker.You have been fed by God's bounty, you owe all the breath in your nostrils to Him, yet you have never done homage to His name!The ox knows his owner and the ass his master's crib, but you know not, neither do you consider the Most High. The cattleon a thousand hills low forth their gratitude and every sheep praises God in its bleating-but these beings, worse than naturalbrute beasts-still continue to receive from the lavish hand of Divine Benevolence, but they return no thanks whatever to theirBenefactor! Let such remember that that ground which has long been rained upon, and plowed, and sown which yet brings forthno fruit, is near unto cursing-whose end is to be burned. Prayerless souls are Christless souls, Christless souls are Gracelesssouls and Graceless souls shall soon be damned souls! See your peril, you that neglect altogether the blessed privilege ofprayer! You are in the bonds of iniquity, you are in the gall of bitterness. God deliver you, for His name's sake!
Nor do I intend to use this text in an address to those who are in the habit of formal prayer, though there are many such.Taught from their childhood to utter certain sacred words, they have carried through youth and even up to manhood, the samepractice! I will not discuss that question just now, whether the practice of teaching children a form of prayer is properor not. I would not do it. Children should be instructed in the meaningof prayer, and their little minds should be taughtto pray, but it should be rather the matter of prayer than the words of prayer that should be suggested. And I think theyshould be taught to use their own words and to speak to God in such phrases and terms as their own childlike capacities, assistedby a mother's love, may be able to suggest. Full many there are who, from early education, grow up habituated to some formof words which either stands in lieu of the heart's devotion, or cripples its free exercise. No doubt there may be true prayerlinked with a form, and the soul of many a saint has gone up to Heaven in some holy collect, or in the words of some beautifulliturgy, but, for all that, we are absolutely certain that tens of thousands use the mere language without heart or soul,under the impression that they are "praying."
I consider the form of prayer to be no more worthy of being called prayer than a coach may be called a horse. The horse willbe better without the coach, travel much more rapidly and find himself much more at ease. He may drag the coach, it is true,and still travel well. Without the heart of prayer, the form is no prayer-it will not stir or move-it is simply a vehiclethat may have wheels that might move, but it has no inner force or power within itself to propel it. Flatter not yourselvesthat your devotion has been acceptable to God, you that have been merely saluting the ears of the Most High with forms! Theyhave been only mockeries when your heart has been absent. What though a parliament of bishops should have posed the wordsyou use? What though they should be absolutely faultless, yes, what if they should even be inspired? Though you have usedthem a thousand times, yet you have never prayed if you consider that the repetition of the form is prayer. No! There is morethan the chatter of the tongue in genuine supplication! More than the repetition of words in truly drawing near to God! Takecare lest, with the form of godliness, you neglect the power and go down to Hell having a lie in your right hand, but notthe Truth of God in your heart!
What I do intend, however, is to address this text to the true people of God who understand the sacred art of prayer and areprevalent therein, but who, to their own sorrow and shame, must confess that they have restrained prayer. If there is no otherperson in this Congregation to whom the preacher will speak personally, he feels shamefully conscious that he will have tospeak very plainly to himself. We know that our prayers are heard. We are certain-it is not a question with us-that thereis an efficacy in the Divine office of intercession. And yet (oh, how we should blush when we make the confession!) we mustacknowledge that we do restrain or neglect prayer. Now, inasmuch as we speak to those who grieve and repent that they shouldhave done so, we shall use but little sharpness. But we shall try to use much plainness of speech. Let us see how and in whatrespect we have neglected prayer.
I. Do you not think, dear Friends, that we often neglect prayer IN THE FEWNESS OF THE OCCASIONS THAT WE SET APART FOR SUPPLICATION?
From hoary tradition and modern precedents we have come to believe that the morning should be opened with the offering ofprayer and that the day should be shut in with the nightly sacrifice. We do ill if we neglect those two sessions of prayer.Do you not think that often, in the morning, we rise so near to the time of labor, when duty calls us to our daily avocation,that we hurry through the familiar exercises with unseemly haste, instead of diligently seeking the Lord and earnestly callingupon His name? And even at night, when we are very weary and jaded, it is just possible that our prayer is uttered somewherebetween sleeping and waking. Is not this restraining or neglecting prayer? And throughout the 365 days of the year, if wecontinue to pray thus, and this is all, how small an amount of true supplication will have gone up to Heaven!
I trust there are none here present who profess to be followers of Christ who do not also practice prayer in their families.We may have no positive commandment for it, but we believe that it is as much in accord with the genius and spirit of theGospel, and that it is so commended by the example of the saints, that the neglect thereof is a strange inconsistency! Now,how often is this family worship conducted in a slovenly manner? An inconvenient hour is fixed and a knock at the door, aring at the bell, the call of a customer may hurry the Believer from his knees to go and attend to his worldly concerns. Ofcourse, many excuses might be offered, but the fact would still remain that in this way we often neglect prayer!
And then, when you come up to the House of God-I hope you do not come up to this Tabernacle without prayer- yet I fear wedo not all pray as we should, even when in the place dedicated to God's worship. There should always be a devout prayer liftedup to Heaven as soon as you enter the place where you would meet with God. What a preparation is often made to appear in theassembly! Some of you get here half an hour before the service commences-if there were no talking, if each one of you lookedinto the Bible, or if the time was spent in silent supplication-what a cloud of holy incense would go smoking up to Heaven!
I think it would be comely for you and profitable for us if as soon as the minister enters the pulpit, you engaged yourselfto plead with God for him. For me, I may especially say it is desirable. I claim it at your hands above every other man. Withthis overwhelming congregation and with the terrible reliability of so numerous a church, and with the Word of God spokenhere published within a few hours, and disseminated over the country, scattered throughout all Europe, no-to the very endsof the earth-I may well ask you to lift up your hearts in supplication that the words spoken may be those of truth and soberness,directed of the Holy Spirit and made mighty through God, like arrows shot from His own bow, to find a target in the heartsthat He means to bless!
And in going home, with what earnestness should we ask the Master to let what we have heard live in our hearts! We lose verymuch of the effects of our Sabbaths through not pleading with God on the Saturday night for a blessing upon the day of rest,and through not also pleading at the end of the Sunday, beseeching Him to make that which we have heard abide in our memoriesand appear in our actions. We have restrained prayer, I fear, in the fewness of the occasions. Indeed, Brothers and Sisters,every day of the week, and every part of the day should be an occasion for prayer. Cries
such as these, "Oh, would that!" "Lord, save me!" "Help me!" "More light, Lord!" "Teach me!" "Guide me!" and a
thousand such, should be constantly going up from our hearts to the Throne of God. You may enjoy a refreshing solitude, ifyou please, in the midst of crowded Cheapside, or contrariwise, you may have your head in the whirl of a busy crowd when youhave retired to your closet. It is not so much where we areas in what state our heartis. Let the regular seasons for devotionbe constantly attended to. These things ought you to have done, but let your heart be habitually in a
state of prayer-you must not leave this undone. Oh, that we prayed more, that we set apart more time for it! Good Bishop Farrarhad an idea in his head which he carried out. Being a man of some substance and having some 24 persons in his household, hedivided the day and there was always some person engaged either in holy song or else in devout supplication through the wholeof the 24 hours! There was never a moment when the censor ceased to smoke, or the altar was without its sacrifice. Happy shallit be for us when, day and night, we shall circle the Throne of God rejoicing, but till then, let us emulate the ceaselesspraise of seraphs before the Throne of God, continually drawing near unto God and making supplication and thanksgiving.
II. But to proceed to a second remark, dear Friends, I think it will be very clear, upon a little reflection, that we constantlyrestrain or neglect prayer BY NOT HAVING OUR HEARTS IN A PROPER STATE WHEN WE COME TO ITS EXERCISE.
We rush into prayer too often. We would think it necessary, if we were to address the Queen, that our petition should be prepared.But often we dash before the Throne of God as though it were but some common house of call, without even having a thoughtin our minds of what we are going for. Now, just let me suggest some few things which I think should always be subjects ofmeditation before our season of prayer and I think if you confess that you have not thought of these things, you will alsobe obliged to acknowledge that you have restrained prayer.
We should, before prayer, meditate upon Him to whom it is to be addressed. Let our thoughts be directed to the living andtrue God. Let me remember that He is Omnipotent, then I shall ask large things. Let me remember that He is very tender andfull of compassion, then I shall ask little things and be minute in my supplication. Let me remember the greatness of HisCovenant, then I shall come very boldly. Let me remember, also, that His faithfulness is like the great mountains and thatHis promises are sure to all the seed, then I shall ask very confidently, for I shall be persuaded that He will do as He hassaid. Let me fill my soul with the reflection of the greatness of His majesty, then I shall be struck with awe, with the equalgreatness of His love, then I shall be filled with delight! We would pray better than we do if we meditated more, before prayer,upon the God whom we address in our supplications!
Then, let me meditate also upon the way through which my prayer is offered. Let my soul behold the blood sprinkled on theMercy Seat before I venture to draw near to God. Let me go to Gethsemane and see the Savior as He prays. Let me stand in holyvision at the foot of Calvary and see His body torn, that the veil which parted my soul from all access to God might be torn,too, that I might come close to my Father, even to His feet. O dear Friends, I am sure if we thought about the way of accessin prayer, we would be more mighty in it, but our neglect of so doing has led us to restrain prayer.
And yet, again, ought I not, before prayer, to be duly conscious of my many sins? Oh, when I hear men pray cold, carelessprayers, surely they forget that they are sinners, or else, renouncing gaudy words and flowing periods, they would smite upontheir breast with the cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" They would come to the point at once, with force and fervency-"I,black, unclean, defiled, condemned by the Law, make my appeal unto You, O God!" What prostration of spirit, what zeal, whatfervor, what earnestness and then, consequently, what prevalence would there be if we were duly sensible of our sin!
If we can add to this a little meditation upon what our needs are, how much better we would pray! We often fail in prayerbecause we come without an errand, not having thought of what our necessities are. But if we have reckoned up that we needpardon, justification, sanctification, preservation-that, besides the blessings of this life, we need that our decaying Gracesshould be revived, that such-and-such a temptation should be removed, and that through such-and-such a trial we should becarried and prove more than conquerors-then, coming with an errand, we would prevail before the Most High! But we bring tothe altars bowls that have no bottom-and if the treasure should be put in them, it would fall through! We do not know whatwe need and, therefore, we ask not for what we really need. We try to lay our necessities before the Lord without having dulyconsidered how great our necessities are. See yourself as an abject bankrupt, weak, sick, dying-and this will make you plead.See your necessities to be deep as the ocean, broad as the expanse of Heaven-and this will make you cry. There will be norestraining of prayer, Beloved, when we have got a due sense of our soul's poverty. But because we think we are rich, increasedin goods and have need of nothing, therefore it is that we restrain prayer before God.
How well it would be for us if, before prayer, we would meditate upon the past with regard to all the mercies we have hadduring the day.What courage that would give us to ask for more! The deliverances we have experienced through our life, howboldly should we plead to be delivered yet again! He that has been with me in six troubles will not forsake me in the seventh!Do but remember how you passed through the fires and was not burnt, and you should be confident that the flame will not kindleupon you now. Christian, remember how before, when you passed through the rivers, God was with you, and surely you may pleadwith Him to deliver you from the flood that now threatens to inundate you. Think of the past ages too, of what He did of old,where He brought His people out of Egypt and of all the mighty deeds which He has done-are they not written in the Book ofthe Wars of the Lord? Plead all these and say unto Him in your supplications-"O You that are a God that hears prayer, hearme now and send me an answer of peace!" I think, without needing to point that arrow, you can see which way I would shoot.Because we do not come to the Throne of Grace in a proper state of supplication, therefore it is that too often we restrainprayer before God.
III. Now, thirdly, it is not to be denied by a man who is conscious of his own error, that IN THE DUTY OF PRAYER, ITSELF,WE ARE TOO OFTEN STRAITENED IN OUR OWN HEART, AND SO RESTRAIN PRAYER.
Prayer has been differently divided by different authors. We might roughly say that prayer consists, first, of invocation."Our Father, which are in Heaven." We begin by stating the title and our own apprehension of the Glory and majesty of thePerson whom we address. Do you not think, dear Friends, that we fail here, and restrain prayer here? Oh, how we ought to soundforth His praises! I think, on the Sabbath, it is always the minister's special duty to bring out the titles of THE ALMIGHTYONE, such as "King of kings, and Lord of lords!" He is not to be addressed in common terms. We should endeavor, as we searchthe Scripture through, to find those mighty phrases which the ancient saints were known to apply to Jehovah! And we shouldmake His Temple ring with His Glory and make our closet full of that holy adoration with which prayer must always be linked!I think the rebuking angel might often say, "You think that the Lord is such an one as yourself, and you talk not to Him asto the God of the whole earth but, as though He were a man you address Him in slighting and unseemly terms." Let all our invocationscome more deeply from our soul's reverence to the Most High and let us address Him, not in high-sounding words of fleshlyhomage, but still in words which set forth our awe and our reverence while they express His majesty and the Glory of His holiness.
From invocation we usually go to confession, and how often do we fail here! In your closet are you in the habit of confessingyour real sins to God? Do you not find, Brothers and Sisters, a tendency to acknowledge that sin which is common to all men,but not that which is certainly peculiar to you? We are all Sauls in our way-we want the best of the cattle and the sheep.Those favorite sins, those Agag sins-it is not so easy to hew them in pieces before the Lord. The right-eye sin-happy is thatChristian who has learned to pluck it out by confession. The right-hand sin-he is blessed and well taught who aims the axeat that sin and cuts it from him! But no, we say that we have sinned-we are willing to use the terms of any general confessionthat any church may publish! But to say, "Lord, You know that I love the world, and the things of the world! You know thatI am covetous." Or to say, "Lord, You know I was envious of So-and-So, because he shone brighter than I did at such and-sucha public meeting. Lord, I was jealous of such-and-such a member of the church because I evidently saw that he was preferredbefore me!" And for the husband to confess before God that he has been overbearing, that he has spoken rashly to a child.For a wife to acknowledge that she has been willful, that she has had a fault-this would be letting out prayer-but the hidingof these things is restraining prayer and we shall surely come under that charge of having restrained prayer unless we makeour private confessions of sin very explicit, coming to the point.
I have thought, in teaching children in the Sunday school, we should not so much talk about sin in general as the sins inwhich children most commonly indulge, such as little thefts, naughty tempers, disobedience to parents. These are the thingsthat children should confess. Men in the dawn of their manhood should confess those ripening evil imaginations, those lustfulthings that rise in the heart, while the man in business should always make this a point-to see most to the sins which attackbusinessmen. I have no doubt that I might be very easily led, in my confession, to look to all the offenses I may have committedagainst the laws of business because I should not need to deal very harshly with myself there, for I do not have the temptationsof these men. And I should not wonder if some of you merchants will find it very easy to examine ourselves according to acode that is proper to me, but not to you! Let the workman pray to God as a workman and confess the sins common to his craft.Let the trader examine himself according to his standing and let each man make
his confession like the confessions of old, when everyone confessed apart-the mother apart and the daughter apart, the fatherapart and the son apart. Let each one thus make a clean breast of the matter and I am sure there will not be so much needto say that we have restrained prayer before God.
As to the next part of prayer, which is petition, we all fail lamentably, indeed! We have not, because we ask not, or becausewe ask amiss. We are ready enough to ask for deliverance from trial, but how often we forget to ask that it may be sanctifiedto us! We are quite ready to say, "Give us this day our daily bread." How often, however, do we fail to ask that He wouldgive us the Bread which comes down from Heaven and enable us blessedly to feed upon His flesh and His blood? Brothers andSisters, we come before God with little desires and the desires we get have so little fervency in them. And when we get thefervency, we so often fail to get the faith which grasps the promise and believes that God will give, that, in all these points,when we come to the matter of spreading our needs before God, we restrain prayer!
Oh, for the Luthers that can shake the gates of Heaven by supplication! Oh, for men that can lay hold upon the golden knockerof Heaven's gate and make it ring and ring again as if they meant it to be heard! Cold prayers court a denial. God hears byfire and the God that answers by fire let Him be God! But first there must be prayer in Elijah's heart-fire in Elijah's heart-beforethe fire will come down in answer to the prayer! Our fervency goes up to Heaven and then God's Grace, which gave us the fervency,comes down and gives us the answer.
But you know, too, that all true prayer has thanksgiving in it. "Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, foreverand ever." What prayer is complete without the doxology? And here, too, we restrain prayer. We do not praise, and bless, andmagnify the Lord as we should. If our hearts were more full of gratitude, our expressions would be far more noble and comprehensivewhen we speak forth His praise. I wish I could put this so plainly that every Christian might mourn on account of his sinand mend his ways. But, indeed, it is only mine to speak-it is my Master's to open your eyes, to let you see and to set youupon the solemnly important duty of self-examination! In this respect, I am sure even the prayers that you and I have offeredtoday may well cry out against us, and say, "You have restrained prayer."
IV. Yet, again, I fear we must all join in acknowledging A SERIOUS FAULT WITH REGARD TO THE AFTER-
PART OF OUR PRAYERS. When prayer is done, do you not think we very much restrain it?
For, after prayer, we often go immediately into the world. That may be absolutely necessary, but we go there and leave behindus what we ought to carry with us. When we have got into a good frame in prayer, we should consider that this is like themeat which the angel gave to Elijah that he might go on his forty day's journey in its strength. Have we felt Heavenly-minded?The moment we cross the threshold and get into the family or business, where is the Heavenly mind? Oh, to get real prayer,inwrought prayer-not the surface prayer, as though it were a sort of sacred masquerading, but to have it inside, in the warpand woof of our being-till prayer becomes a part of ourselves! Then, Brothers and Sisters, we have not restrained it! We gethot in our closets-when I say, "we," oh, how few can say as much as that!-but, still, we get hot in our closets and go outinto the world, into the draughts of its temptations, without wrapping ourselves about with promises-and we catch well-nearour death of cold! Oh, to carry that heat and fervor with us!
You know that as you carry a bar of hot iron along, how soon it begins to return to its common ordinary appearance and theheat is gone. How hot, then, we ought to make ourselves in prayer, that we may burn the longer and how, all day long, we oughtto keep thrusting the iron into the fire so that, when it ceases to glow, it may go into the hot embers once more and theflame may glow upon it and we may once again be brought into a vehement heat. But we are not careful enough to keep up theGrace and seek to nurture and to cherish the young child which God seems to give in the morning into our hands that we maynurse it for Him.
Old Master Dyer speaks of locking up his heart by prayer in the morning and giving Christ the key. I am afraid we do the opposite-welock up our hearts in the morning and give the devil the key-and think that he will be honest enough not to rob us! Ah, itis in bad hands when it is trusted with him. He keeps stealing all day long the precious things that were in the safe until,at night it is quite empty and needs to be filled all over again! Would God that we put the key in Christ's hands, by lookingup to Him all day!
I think, too, that after prayer, we often fail in unbelief. We do not expect God to hear us. If God were to hear some of you,you would be more surprised than with the greatest novelty that could occur! We ask blessings, but do not think of havingthem. When you and I were children and had a little piece of garden, we sowed some seeds one day and the next morning, beforebreakfast, we went to see if they were up. And the next day, seeing that no appearance of the green blade could be discovered,we began to move the dirt to look for our seeds. Ah, we were children then! I wish we were children now with regard to ourprayers. We would go out, the next morning, to see if they had begun to sprout and disturb the ground a bit to look afterour prayers, for fear they should have miscarried. Do you believe God hears prayer?
I saw, the other day, in a newspaper, a little sketch concerning myself in which the author, who is evidently very friendly,gives a much better description of me than I deserve. But he offers me one rather pointed rebuke. I was preaching at the timein a tent and only part of the people were covered. It began to rain just before prayer, and one petition was, "O Lord, bepleased to grant us favorable weather for this service and command the clouds that they rain not upon this assembly!" Nowhe thought this very preposterous. To say the least, it was rash, if not blasphemous! He admits that it did not rain a dropafter the prayer, still, of course, he did not infer that God heard and answered the prayer. If I had asked for a rain ofGrace, it would have been quite credible that God would send that, but when I ask Him not to send a temporal rain, that isfanaticism! To think that God meddles with the clouds at the wish of a man, or that He may answer us in temporal things ispronounced absurd! I bless God, however, that I fully believe the absurdity, preposterous as it may appear! I know that Godhears prayer in temporal things! I know it by as clear a demonstration as ever any proposition in Euclid was solved. I knowit by abundant facts and incidents which my own life has revealed. God does hear prayer! The majority of people do not thinkthat He does. At least, if He does, they suppose that it is in some high, clerical, mysterious, unknown sense. As to ordinarythings ever happening as the result of prayer, they account it a delusion! "The Bank of Faith!" How many have said it is abank of nonsense and yet there are many who have been able to say, "We could write as good a book as Huntington's Bank ofFaith, that would be no more believed than Huntington's was, though it might be even more true."
We restrain prayer, I am sure, by not believing our God. We ask a favor, which, if granted, we attribute to "accident" ratherthan ascribe it to Grace, and we do not receive it. Then the next time we come, of course we cannot pray, because unbeliefhas cut the sinews of prayer and left us powerless before the Throne of God.
You are a professor of religion. After you have been to a party of ungodly people, can you pray? You are a merchant, and professto be a follower of Christ. When you engage in a hazardous speculation and you know you ought not to, can you pray? Or, whenyou have had a heavy loss in business and repine against God and will not say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;blessed be the name of the Lord"-can you pray? Pity the man who can sin and pray, too! In a certain sense, Brooks was rightwhen he said, "Praying will make you leave off sinning, or else sin will make you leave off praying." Of course, that is notmeant in the absolute sense of the term, but as to certain sins, especially gross sins-and some of the sins to which God'speople are liable, are gross sins-I am certain they cannot come before their Father's face with the confidence they had before,after having been rolling in the mire, or wandering in By-Path Meadow.
Look at your own child-he meets you in the morning with a smiling face, so pleased. He asks what he likes of you and you giveit to him. Now he has been doing wrong. He knows he has and you have frowned upon him, you have chastened him. How does hecome now? He may come because he is a child and with tears in his eyes because he is a penitent-but he cannot come with thepower he once had. Look at a king's favorite-as long as he feels that he is in the king's favor, he will take up your suitand plead for you. Ask him tomorrow whether he will do you a good turn and he says, "No, I am out of favor. I don't feel asif I could speak now." A Christian is not out of Covenant favor, but he may be experimentally under a cloud-he loses the Lightof God's Countenance and then he feels he cannot plead-his prayers become weak and feeble.
Take heed unto yourselves and consider your ways. The path of declension is very abrupt in some parts. We may go on graduallydeclining in prayer till faith grows weak, love cold and patience is exhausted. We may go on for years and maintain a consistentprofession, but, all of a sudden, the road which had long been descending at a gradual incline may come to a precipice andwe may fall, and that when we little think of it. We may have ruined our reputation, blasted our comfort, destroyed our usefulnessand we may have to go to our graves with a sword in our bones because of sin. Stop while you may, Believer! Stop and guardagainst the temptation. I charge you, by the trials you must meet with, by the temptations that surround you, by the corruptionsthat are within, by the assaults that come from Hell and by the trials that come from Heaven, "Watch and pray, lest you enterinto temptation."
I speak especially to the members of this church. Think of what has God worked for us! When we were a few people, what intenseagony of prayer we had! We have had Prayer Meetings in Park Street that have moved our souls. Every man seemed like a crusaderbesieging Jerusalem, each man determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession and the blessings came uponus, so that we had not room to receive them! The hallowed cloud still rests over us! The holy drops still fall! Will you nowcease from intercession? At the borders of the promised land, will you turn back to the wilderness, when God is with us andthe standard of a King is in the midst of our armies? Will you now fail in the day of trial? Who knows but you have come tothe Kingdom for such a time as this? Who knows but that He will preserve in the land a small company of poor people who fearGod intensely, hold the faith earnestly and love God vehemently-that infidelity may be driven from the high places of theearth-that Naphtali again may be a people made triumphant in the high places of the field?
God of Heaven, grant this! Oh, let us restrain prayer no longer! You that have never prayed, may you be taught to pray, "Godbe merciful to me a sinner," uttered from your heart, with your eyes upon the Cross! You will receive a gracious answer andyou shall go on your way rejoicing, for-
"When God inclines the heart to pray,
He has an ear to hear!
To Him there's music in a groan,
And beauty in a tear."
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 1 JOHN 2.
1 John 2:1-4. My little children, these things I write unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father,Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the wholeworld. And hereby do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments,is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Holy living is the sure fruit and proof of anyone being in Christ. Where it is notmanifest, the profession of being in Christ is a lie.
5. But whoever keeps His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. Note the gradation-weknow Him, we are in Him-we know that we are in Him.
6. He that says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked. Abiding in Christ helps us to live as Christlived, not, as one well observes, that we can walk on the water as Christ walked upon it, but that we can walk in our dailylife even as He did because we abide in Him.
7. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandmentis the word which you have heard from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which we have heard from the beginning,yet it is always fresh and new.
8-10. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, andthe true light now shines. He that says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. He thatloves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. Love is the great and sure way of abidingin the light, abiding in Christ.
11-14. But he that hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and knows not where he goes, because that darknesshas blinded his eyes. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. I write untoyou, fathers, because you have known Him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because you have overcomethe Wicked One. I write unto you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, becauseyou have known Him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word ofGod abides in you, and you have overcome the Wicked One. Having overcome him, at the first by your faith in Christ, you stillgo on to conquer him by abiding in Christ.
15-17. Love not the world neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father isnot in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not ofthe Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God
abides forever. Everything else is transient, fleeting and soon passes away. But he that does the will of God has enteredinto the eternal regions and he has become one of those who abide forever. Do not be carried away, therefore, from your oldfirm foundation and from your eternal union to Christ.
18-20. Little children, it is the last hour and as you have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists;whereby we know that it is the last hour They went out from us but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they wouldno doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But youhave an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things. You are taught of God, so you know all that is necessary for theattainment of true godliness, and the accomplishment of the Divine purposes.
21-25. I have not written unto you because you know not the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ?He is Antichrist that denies the Father and the Son. Whoever deniesthe Son, the same has not the Father: [but] he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Let that therefore abide inyou, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you alsoshall continue in the Son, and in the Father And this is the promise that He has promised us, even eternal life. Not transientlife, but eternal life is the great promise of the Covenant of Grace, and abiding in Christ we possess it.
26, 27. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which you have received ofHim abides in you, What a wonderful declaration this is-not only that we have this holy anointing, but that we have it always!
27, 28. And you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and isno lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him. And now little children, abide in Him. See how the Apostlerings out this note again and again? Our Savior repeated the word, "abide," or, "remain," many times in the short parableof the Vine, and now John strikes this same silver bell over and over again-"And now, little children, abide in Him"-
28, 29. That when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that Heis righteous, you know that everyone that does righteousness is born of Him.