Sermon 3134. The Spirit's Work in the New Creation
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 1909.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY23, 1873.
"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon theface of the waters." Genesis 1:2.
[See Sermons #660, Volume 11-LIGHT, NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL and #1252, Volume 21-THE FIRST DAY OF CREATION.]
WE cannot tell how the Spirit of God brooded over that vast watery mass. It is a mystery, but it is also a fact. And it ishere revealed as having happened at the very commencement of the Creation, even before God had said, "Let there be light."The first Divine act in fitting up this planet for the habitation of man was for the Spirit of God to move upon the face ofthe waters. Till that time all was formless, empty, out of order and in confusion. In a word, it was chaos. And to make itinto that thing of beauty which the world is at the present moment, even though it is a fallen world, it was necessary thatthe movement of the Spirit of God should take place upon it. How the Spirit works upon matter, we do not know, but we do knowthat God, who is a Spirit, created matter, fashioned matter and sustained matter-and that He will yet deliver matter fromthe stain of sin which is upon it. We shall see new heavens and a new earth in which materialism itself shall be lifted upfrom its present state of ruin and shall glorify God! But without the Spirit of God, the materialism of this world would haveremained forever in chaos. Only as the Spirit came, did the work of Creation begin.
That fact I intend to use this evening, spiritualizing it. It is a literal fact and we are not to regard this Chapter of Genesisor any other part of Genesis as being a mere parable. But having said so, we think we may now say that these real facts mayillustrate the work of God in the new creation and our main thought, just now, is that the work of the Holy Spirit in thesoul of man is comparable to His work in Creation. As in various books by the same author you can trace the writer's idiomsand as in many paintings by one great artist there are certain touches which betray the same hand, so in the great book ofNature we see traces of the same hand as in the book of Grace! And in this great picture of material beauty we may see thehandiwork of that same Master Artist who has drawn lines and curves of spiritual beauty upon the souls of the redeemed!
I. I am going, first, to try to draw A PARALLEL BETWEEN THE SPIRIT'S WORK IN THE OLD AND NEW CREATION.
And first I want to remind you that as the movement of the Holy Spirit upon the waters was the first act in the six days work,so the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul is the first work of Grace in that soul. There may have been a thousand sermonsheard, but there has been no effectual work within the soul until the Spirit of God comes there! Sabbaths may have passedover the man's head for 50 years and during every one of those Sabbaths that man may have been a regular attendant at theHouse of God-but there has been nothing savingly done for him unless the Spirit of God has entered into him and begun to workupon his soul. He may have been baptized and joined the Church and partaken of the Lord's Supper-but, for all that, his heartis still without any sort of form or fashion which God would have it to bear. It is void-there is no life of God within it,no faith in Christ, no true hope for the future. It is emptiness, itself, notwithstanding all that has been done, if the Spiritof God has not been at work in it!
It is a very humbling Truth of God, but a Truth, notwithstanding its humiliating form, that the best man that mere moralityever produced is still "without form and void" if the Spirit of God has not come upon him. All the efforts of men which theymake by nature, when stirred up by the example of others or by godly precepts, produce nothing but
chaos in another shape! Some of the mountains may have been leveled, but valleys have been elevated into other mountains.Some vices have been discarded, but only to be replaced by other vices that are, perhaps, even worse. Or certain transgressionshave been forsaken for a while, only to be followed by a return to the same sins, so that it has happened unto them, as Peterwrites, "according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowingin the mire." Unless the Spirit of God has been at work within him, the man is still, in the sight of God, "without form andvoid" as to everything which God can look upon with pleasure. What? Is it so when a man has made great efforts and has reallydone his best? Yes, for, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." Even when the flesh does its best, its fairest offspringis still only flesh! Water will naturally rise as high as its own source, but without extraneous pressure, it will never riseany higher. And humanity may rise as high as humanity can rise, but it can never get any higher until the Spirit of God impartsa supernatural force to it. "Except a man be born-again (born from above), he cannot see the Kingdom of God." The very firstact in the great work of the new creation is that the Spirit of God moves upon the soul as He moved upon the face of the waters.
The second thing I ask you to note is that to this work nothing whatever is contributed by the man himself "The earth waswithout form and void," so it could not do anything to help the Spirit. "Darkness was upon the face of the deep." The Spiritfound no light there-it had to be created. There was nothing whatever there to help the Spirit of God-no agencies at workto say to Him, "We have been preparing the way for Your coming. We needed Your assistance. We were waiting for You and werejoice that You have come to finish the work that we have begun." There was nothing of the kind! And sad as the Truth is,in unregenerate man there is nothing whatever that can help the Spirit of God. The heart of man promises help, but, "the heartis deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." The will has great influence over the man, but the will is depraved,so it tries to play the tyrant over all the other powers of the man-and it refuses to become the servant of the eternal Spiritof Truth! If I am never to preach the Gospel to a sinner till I see something in him that will help the Holy Spirit to savehim, I shall never be able to preach the Gospel at all! And if Jesus Christ never saves a man till He sees something in thatman that cries to Christ to save Him, then no man will ever be saved! We are, by nature, not merely like the man who was woundedon his way from Jerusalem to Jericho and who was left on the road half dead, but we are wholly "dead in trespasses and sins."And in the dead sinner there is nothing that can help his own resurrection! There is not a hand there to be lifted, nor evenan ear to hear, nor an eye to see, nor a pulse that can beat. We do not exaggerate nor go beyond the Truth of God when wesay this. And every man is thus dead till the Spirit of God comes to him! And when the Spirit comes to him, He finds nothingin the man that can co-operate with Him, and everything that is to be good must be createdin him, broughtto him and be infusedintohim. What is needed is not the flaming of sparks that have almost expired-not the strengthening of a life that was almostdead through faintness-the Spirit has to deal with death, rottenness and corruption! Man's nature is a morgue and a sepulcher-anda little Hell-and God's Spirit must bring to it that which is living, good and pleasing in God's sight if it is ever to bethere!
But more than that, in the old creation, not only was there nothing whatever that could help the Holy Spirit, but there seemednothing at all suitable to the Spirit. I mean, for instance, that the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Order, but there wasdisorder. He is the Spirit of Light, but there was darkness. Does it not seem a strange thing that the Spirit of God shouldhave come there at all? Adored in His excellent Glory in the Heaven where all is order and all is light, why should He cometo brood over that watery deep and to bring the great work of bringing order out of chaos? And, in a similar fashion, oftenand often have we asked-Why should the Spirit of God ever have come into our hearts? What was there in us to induce the Spiritof God to begin a work of Grace in us? We admire the condescension of Jesus in leaving Heaven to dwell upon earth, but dowe not equally admire the condescension of the Holy Spirit in coming to dwell in such poor hearts as ours? Jesus dwelt withsinners, but the Holy Spirit dwells in us. If it were possible for the condescension of the Incarnation to be outdone, itwould be in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men! This is a miracle of mercy, indeed, for I say again, thereis nothing in the heart by nature that can at all please the Holy Spirit, but there is everything there that can grieve Him!The Spirit would beget in us repentance for sin, but the heart is hard as a rock. The Spirit would work in us faith, but theheart is full of unbelief. The Spirit would make us pure, but the heart is fond of sin. The Spirit would lead us towards God,but all our passions incline us to run away from Him and to
run to everything that is contrary to Him. Yet does the Spirit of God come and work in us while our heart is nothing but chaosand our nature is full of darkness! For this wonderful mercy, let us bless and love the Spirit of God!
Notice, also, that the Spirit of God is as mysterious in His coming into human hearts as He was in His working in the oldCreation. I said before that we cannot explain how the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters. Some try to fetcha meaning out of the Hebrew word, but I believe it helps them very little. It is one of the deep mysteries of Scripture. Evermust the contact of the Spirit with materialism remain a marvel-and can we ever tell how the Spirit of God comes and dealswith sinful men? We know that our Savior, Himself, said to Nicodemus, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the soundthereof, but cannot tell from where it came and where it goes: so is everyone that is born of the
But mysterious as it is, it is real-as those who have experienced it know-and as those may see who will watch the effectswhich the Spirit produces upon the hearts of men. I would like to ask all in this present assembly whether they know anythingabout the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit in their souls. Beloved Hearers, there may be many things of which you maybe ignorant and yet you may be none the worse for that ignorance. But if you are ignorant of the working of the Holy Spiritin your spirit, then you are ignorant of eternal life-ignorant of the one thing necessary to deliver you from Hell and liftyou up to Heaven! Have you ever experienced within your spirit a Divine Power that turned you from your old habits and oldways-and that made such a radical change in you that you are no longer what you once were-a change that was practically toyou a new birth, a new creation? I pray you not to deceive yourselves about this matter! Sinners had to be born-again in theApostles' time and they must be born-again now if they are ever to see or to enter the Kingdom of God! It was necessary thatthey should be regenerated in the days of Christ, but it is equally necessary now. And it is not merely necessary for peoplewho have been to prison or who have been thieves and drunks-it is equally necessary for you, the children of godly parents,for you respectable people, for you who have never done a dishonorable action in all your lives! You are not yet partakersof the Divine Nature unless the Spirit of God, in the deep mystery of His almighty power, has worked that new life in yoursoul! Solemnly have I asked myself this question, "Have I been born-again?" And I urge each one of you earnestly to examineyourselves upon this all-important matter. Do you know that this new life has been put within you? Let none of us be satisfiedunless we know that it is so! What an awful thing it would be to be in doubt whether I am a child of God or not-whether Iam on the road to Heaven or not! May God grant that none of us may be in such doubt, even for an hour-but may we have absolutecertainty upon this point, mysterious though it is!
We have so far noted that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters as the first act of the six-days' work and thatby this movement nothing on the earth contributed or was congruous, that this movement was a mystery and yet very real. Note,next, that this movement was most effectual. "The earth was without form, and void," but that did not defeat the purpose ofthe Spirit of God. "Darkness was upon the face of the deep," but He could work in the dark. The darkness did not hinder Himand, blessed be God, the deep depravity of our nature does not prevent the Holy Spirit from creating it anew in Christ Jesus!Without God, the turning of a heart of stone into flesh would surely be impossible! And if there had ever been an impossibilityof impossibilities, I feel that the changing of my nature would have been that impossibility-and each Christian here may feelthe same with regard to himself or herself. But nothing is too hard for the Lord! Though a man may have had no knowledge ofthe Gospel up to the time when the Spirit of God came upon him, or though he may have been as violently opposed to that Gospelas he possibly could be, yet let the Spirit of God savingly deal with that man and all hindrances disappear, all oppositiongives way and the work of Grace is effectually accomplished! Light came when God said, "Let there be light." The waters wereseparated, the dry land appeared and the winged fowl, the fish that swim in the deep, the cattle that crowd the fields andman, himself, in the image of God- all these came at the Lord's command! Chaos had become a garden and death blossomed intolife!
It only needed the Spirit of God to come and then the work was effectually done. And this is a point I want to mention asgood cheer to some who are here. You may be dead in sin, but the Spirit of God can quicken you! Dear Brother, you may be preachingto those who are dead in sin, but preach the Gospel to them all the same! It is your business to preach the Gospel to deadsinners, for it is the Gospel that makes the dead to live! If we had to look for some natural goodness in the sinner beforewe preached the Gospel to him, we would never preach to him at all! But we have to go to him where he is, with darkness overhis soul and ruin and confusion all around-and while we preach the Word, the Spirit of God accompanies it with saving powerand the man is made to live-and he is fashioned in the image of God! Blessed be God, the Spirit's work is always effectual!It is possible to grieve and to resist the Holy Spirit, but when He puts forth His almighty power, then He is irresistible!The will is sweetly inclined and the man cries, "Great God, I yield, constrained by mighty love. I throw down my weapons ofrebellion and I willingly go as Your gracious Spirit leads
I want you to also notice that where the Spirit came, the work was carried on to completion. The work of Creation did notend with the first day, but went on till it was finished on the sixth day. God did not say, "I have made the light and nowI will leave the earth as it is." And when He had begun to divide the waters and to separate the land from the sea, He didnot say, "Now I will have no more to do with the work." He did not take the newly-fashioned earth in His hands and fling itback into chaos, but He went on with His work until, on the seventh day, when it was completed, He rested from all His workand, glory be to God, He will not leave unfinished the work which He has commenced in our souls! Where the Spirit of God hasbegun to move, He continues to move until the work is done. And He will not fail or turn aside until all is accomplished.How we ought to bless His name for this! If the Spirit of God ever did utterly leave His work in any man's soul undone, theneach one here might feel, "He may leave it unfinished in me"-and there would remain no solid comfort for any one of us! Ifa child of God could ever fall from Grace, then you and I might be among the first to fall, but Jesus said, "My sheep hearMy voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternall ife; and they shall never perish, neither shallany pluck them out of My hand." Rightly do we sing-
"The work which wisdom undertakes Eternal mercy never forsakes/" As surely as there is a first day, there will come a seventhday in which God will rest because His work will be completed. And as surely as the Spirit of God has moved upon our souland there has come to us light instead of darkness, so shall there be a day of rest in which we shall keep the Sabbath ofGod with Him forever, because the Spirit's work has been completed in us even as the work of Christ has been finished on ourbehalf.
II. Now, having thus tried to draw a parallel between the Spirit's work in the old and the new Creation, let me go on to thepractical part of this evening's meditation and try to show you, in the second place, that THE PARALLEL WE HAVE DRAWN FURNISHESMANY ENCOURAGEMENTS.
And first, it furnishes encouragement to those distressed sinners who fear that they are utterly beyond the possibility ofsalvation. "I," says one, "am conscious that there is no good in me of any sort whatever. And I am so wicked that grim despairhas settled down upon my heart." Listen to the text, my Brother-"The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was uponthe face of the deep." Is not that an exact description of your heart? "Oh, yes," you say, "that is a terribly true pictureof myself!" Well, what comes next? "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." While there was confusion, whilethere was darkness-before there was any sort of preparation for the coming of the Spirit, any kindling of flambeaux with whichto break the darkness, or anything that would have seemed like the beginning of order, the Spirit of God moved upon the faceof the waters! Then why should He not move in your soul? Others who were in just as sad a condition as you are now in, havebeen saved-then why should you not also be saved? You have been a gross sinner, but other equally gross sinners have receivedthe Spirit of God, who has brought Christ to them-so why should not you? If you have been the vilest of the vile, there isone text that still gives you good cheer. It is that one where Paul speaks of himself as the chief of sinners and yet declaresthat he was saved. You cannot be a greater sinner than the chief of sinners! The chief is first of all and you can only besecond to the chief. Or if you are even equal to him, God has proved His power to save you by saving Saul of Tarsus! Thinkof what Saul's case was like when he was on the road to Damascus. Why, if it were possible, it was more chaotic than chaos,itself, and darker than the primeval darkness! He was exceedingly angry against the people of God and was bent upon theirdestruction! Yet the Spirit of God came upon him and within a few minutes he was crying out, "Lord, what will You have meto do?"
Let me further say to you, poor despairing Soul, suppose such an one as you are should be saved-would it not be a wonder ofGrace? "Yes," you say, "it would, indeed." Well, God is the great Wonder-Worker! It is His delight to do things which arevery wonderful, for these bring Him the most glory. Men can do commonplace things, but wonders are worked by God! If He wereto save you, would you not forever feel indebted to His Grace? "Yes," you say, "that I should, if He would take such a blackand sinful one as I am and save me." Very well. This is just what He wants in His
children, that they should forever love Him and praise Him-and feel that they are under gracious obligations of love to Him.When God means to make a great saint, He often uses a great sinner as the raw material. It is the man who is greatly in debtwho loves the friend who discharges his debt. If I were a physician and I wanted to establish my fame, do you think that Ishould trouble about you who have a finger ache or some other trifling complaint? No! If I wanted London to ring with thestory of my cures, I would try to find out the man who is nearest to the gates of death, or one who is afflicted with manydiseases at once, for if I healed him, all would be amazed and it would be reported everywhere, "This man has worked thisgreat marvel." Now, Christ is the Physician and you are the patient. And the worse you are, the more glory can He get outof you! He is certainly able to save you, bad as you are, and so He will glorify His name as a Savior. "It shall be to theLord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." Thus I say unto you, O Soul, though you are empty ofeverything but sin, the Spirit of God can fill you with Grace! And though darkness enshrouds you, the Spirit of God can comeupon you and make you light in the Lord! So you need not despair, but rather give your ear attentively to this promise ofthe Lord Jesus Christ-"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." Or this, "God so loved the world that He gave Hisonly begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." May the Spirit of God leadyou to believe in Jesus!
There is an equal encouragement in this text for those who are the people of God, or who once thought that they were, butwho have fallen into a very sad and miserable condition. There are some who have walked in the Light of God and enjoyed sweetfellowship with Him, but they have been very careless, or they have neglected private prayer, or perhaps they have falleninto sin and now they have got into such a state of heart that they cannot see anything gracious in themselves. "Oh," sayssuch an one, "I am worse than the sinner who never knew Christ! I feel as if I had played the apostate, like Judas, or asif I had turned aside, like Demas, loving the present world, or as if I were a tree without fruit, twice dead, plucked upby the roots. I feel that in myself there is no order of Grace and no light of love." Listen, dear Friend, to my text-"Andthe earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the faceof the waters." I bless God that I have many a time known what it is, when I felt most barren, to be made to blossom and bringforth fruit-and when apparently most dead, suddenly to be quickened into ecstatic life! And when I have, in my own estimation,lain at Hell's door, yet by one promise applied with power, by one flash of the Divine energy, to be lifted up and made tosay, even in that place wherein my soul slept, like Jacob did at Bethel, "This is none other but the house of God, and thisis the gate of Heaven."
Has not the Spirit of God often dealt so with you experienced saints who know what the ups and downs of the Christian lifeare? Has He not made you strong when you have been weak and made you to sing just after you had been sighing-and made thewaters to be calmest just after the fiercest storm and your brightest days to follow just after the hurricane? Then have yourejoiced in the clear shining after rain, when the winter was over and gone and when the voice of the singing of birds washeard in your land! I know you have found it so! Then do you nowthink that the Lord waits to find some good thing in you beforeHe will bless you? Did He not love you when you were in your blood, like an infant cast out into the field unwashed and unswaddled?Do you think that His arm is shortened, or that His love is diminished? You say that you have been unfaithful to Him, butHe abides faithful! Your faith may seem to be dead, but "your life is hid with Christ in God." You feel so foul, but-
"There is a fountain, filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.'"
Do not despair, dear Friend-look again to the Cross-begin again where you began before! Remember the simple
story that I told you long ago of poor Jack the Huckster, [See Sermon #47, Volume 1-CHRIST'S PRAYER FOR HIS PEOPLE.] who usedto sing-
"I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all, But Jesus Christ is my All-in-All."
Get back to that point, dear Brother or Sister, and so you will get back to Light of God and once more you will realize thatthe Spirit of God is working within your spirit!
I think our text also gives encouragement to those who are working for God. You are not now thinking about yourself. You have,by Divine Grace, advanced beyond that stage, and you are thinking about others. You are going to take a district and visitit-and there are places there that swarm with the worst of characters. You do not know any good people there who are at alllikely to welcome and assist you. Go there, my dear Brother! Venture there, my dear Sister, without any fear, rememberingthat although "the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, the Spirit of God moved uponthe waters." Go to that dark spot, for the Spirit of God will go with you! He will guide you through the darkness and throughthe chaos-and will help and bless you. Missionaries have gone to lands where the people were cannibals, but they have notbeen unsuccessful. The Gospel has been carried to people who were so degraded that they did not seem to have any sense ofpossessing even a soul-yet the Gospel had not been without fruit among them! No race of men has ever been discovered thathas been sunk too low for the Spirit of God to work upon them and to save them! Let us never despair of any, or think thatthey are beyond the Spirit's power.
"But," says one, "I would like to speak to those who are willing to hear me and who are anxious to be saved." No doubt youwould, for most people like easy work, but if the Lord sends you to those who do not wish to be saved, and who have no careat all about religion, you must not pick and choose your work-you must go where God sends you! Would you not like to go whereGod would get the most glory? Of course you would! Well, He gets the most glory when big sinners are saved, when those whohated Him most begin to love Him, when those who were most opposed to His Truth gladly receive it! Then there is the greatesttriumph of His Grace and the greatest glory to His holy name. I have sometimes thought that I would like to have lived inEngland in the days of the Puritans. It must have been a great privilege to have heard some of those old masters of theologypreaching the Gospel and to have mingled with the holy multitudes that worshipped God in those days when this land was a veryParadise. But there is more need of the preacher of the Gospel now than ever there was and, therefore, he ought to be gladto be where he is most needed. A good servant would rather that his master put him where there is plenty for him to do thanlet him be where there are more workers than work! I see the thick clouds of Popery spreading over the land in every directionand see scarcely anything in the signs of the times that tends to cheer one's heart. I see plenty of comfort in the Scriptures!I have abundant joy in the Lord and rest in Him, but as for the way in which things are going in all the churches-ah, LordGod, how has Your Spirit been restrained and how little work does He appear to be doing in these evil times! But because thetimes are dark, shall we despair? No, but still remember that when "the earth was without form, and void, and darkness wasupon the face of the deep"-then "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
Was it not so in Christ's own day and in the time of the Apostles? The world was sunk in sin, superstition and cruelty-butafter Pentecost thousands were converted! Was it not so in Luther's day? The professing church, like another Samson, was lulledto sleep upon the lap of the Delilah of Rome! And the church's locks were utterly shorn-its strength was gone and it was deliveredover to the Philistines. But, in due time, the Spirit of God came into the darkness and the great Truth that we are justifiedby faith-not by the works of the Law-was like a repetition of the ancient command and its sequel, "Let there be light, andthere was light." Blessed be God, the darkness of those days could not keep back the light of Luther's preaching! Nor Calvin'sclear transparent preaching and Zwingli's burning words! And if all England should become black as night and things grow worse,and worse, and worse, and worse, until they come to the worst-and Satan lords it over all-there would be no cause for feareven then! Fearlessly should the soldiers of Christ still go on, for the Spirit of God will again move when chaos and darknessreign! Be of good cheer, Brothers and Sisters in Christ! Pray on, work on, trust on and God will indeed bless you!
I earnestly pray that those to whom I have spoken may receive whatever of the Truth of God I have uttered. And especiallydo I pray this for the seeking sinner. How I long that he may realize that the only power that can save him lies outside himself!If you are ever to be accepted before God, you will never be accepted through anything that you are in yourself. You willhave to be accepted in Christ Jesus and, in order to be accepted in Christ Jesus, you must have faith in Jesus. If you areever to be a living child of the living God, the Spirit of God must quicken you! There is in you nothing whatever that canrecommend you to God. He and He, alone, must save you if you are ever to be saved. "Why," says one, "you drive me to despairby talking like that!" I wish I could drive you to such despair as would make you cease from your own works and leave offall ideas of self-salvation-and make you fall as one dead before the Throne of Mercy and cry, "Lord, save me, or I perish!"We cannot too plainly preach that salvation is of the Lord alone! Everything that is of
Nature's spinning will have to be unraveled and the soul must be clothed in the spotless robe of the righteousness of Christ.You may build on the sandy foundation of creature merit, but all you build will surely come down! Oh, that you may cease fromsuch foolish building and that you may build upon what Jesus Christ has done! There you will build upon the Rock, the realfoundation! If the Spirit of God will enable you to build there, you will have built for eternity! May Grace, mercy, and peacebe with you in so doing, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM50.
Verses 1-4. The mighty God, even the LORD, has spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun until the going downthereof Out of Zion the perfection of beauty, God has shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shalldevour before Him and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth,that He may judge His people. To profess to be the people of God is a very solemn thing, for the Apostle Peter tells us that"judgment must begin at the house of God." Those who profess to be His people shall be like the wheat on the threshing floor.John the Baptist, preparing the way for the first coming of Christ, said of Him, "whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughlypurge His floor." When He comes again, He will separate the precious from the vile, the true saint from the mere pretender!
5, 6. Gather My saints together unto Me, those that have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declareHis righteousness: for God is Judge, Himself Selah. He will not depute this office to another. He knows the details of eachcase, He knows the motives that have been at the back of every action, He knows the Law and He knows what sentence ought tobe passed in every instance. "God is Judge, Himself."
7-9. Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, even your God. I will not reproveyou for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, to have been continually before Me. I will take no bullock out of your house,nor he goats out of your folds. Observe what contempt God expresses in this Psalm for all mere ceremonial sacrifices. Theywere ordained by God and were acceptable to Him when offered with a right motive. But apart from that motive and apart fromtheir spiritual significance, what was there in them to make them acceptable to the Most High? Does the Lord delight in thefat of bulls or the blood of goats? There can be nothing in these things, in themselves, that can please His infinite mind,so He says of them. "I will take no bullock out of your house, nor he goats out of your folds." Where the heart was not givenwith the offering, it could not be well-pleasing unto the Lord.
10, 11. Fur every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains,and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If any man thinks that he can make God his debtor by any offering that he bringsto Him, what a great mistake he makes! Whatever you bring to God, you will only bring to Him what is already His! The silverand the gold are His as well as "the cattle upon a thousand hills." What we willingly bring to Him out of heartfelt gratitude,He will graciously accept, but if we imagine that there is any merit in what we give, He will have nothing to do with it.
12, 13. If I were hungry, I would not tell you: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls,or drink the blood of goats? "Think you that there is any offering that man can present to Me which can appease My wrath,or give Me pleasure?"
14. Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay your vows unto the Most High. The offering of the heart is better than the gift fromthe purse. The praise and thanksgiving that come out of the very soul-these God will accept.
15, 16. And call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me. [See Sermons #1505, Volume 25-
PRAYER TO GOD IN TROUBLE AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE and #1876, Volume 31-ROBINSON CRUSOE'S TEXT.] But unto the wicked, Godsays,What have you to do to declare My statutes, or thatyou should take My Covenant in your mouth? There were, in those days, wickedpriests who taught the people what they did not themselves practice, just as there are, in these days, men who because oftheir official position, have dared to stand up and declare the Gospel of Christ by which they were not, themselves, saved!And in which, indeed, they were not even Believers! Are they the men to preach the Truth of God? Are they fit to teach others?Assuredly not! "Unto the wicked God says, "What have you to do to declare My statutes, or that you should take My Covenantin your mouth?"
17-20. Seeing you hate instruction, and cast My words behind you. When you saw a thief then you consented with him, and havebeen partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit You sit and speak against your brother;you slander your own mother's son. How, then, can you hope to please God with your formal ceremonies, with your mere attendanceat the House of God while your heart is estranged from Him? You do but mock God with all this empty formalism!
21. 22. These things have you done, andlkept silence, you thought that I was altogether such an one as yourself: but I willreprove you, and set them in order before your eyes. Now consider this. "'Consider this,' you who are full of heartless religiousness,you who are so particular in your observance of the outward forms of religion and yet do not think of God as you should-'considerthis.'"
22. You that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. What a terrible God is this Jehovah whomwe serve! If our hearts are not right towards Him, if we dare to mock Him with solemn sounds uttered by false tongues, thisverse warns us as to how He will deal with us!
23. Whoever offers praise glorifies Me and to him that orders his conversation aright will I show the salvation of Got. Sothat what God really desires is living, loving hearts and holy gracious lives and, therefore, if we do not give Him our heartsand our lives, our sacrifices and oblations are all in vain-they are an abomination in His sight!