Sermon 3212. A Command and a Promise

(No. 3212)




"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." James 4:8.

[Another Sermon by Mr. Spurgeon, upon the same text, is #2795, Volume 48-THE DOUBLE DRAWING NEAR.]

NOTICE the sentences immediately preceding our text-"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and Hewill draw near to you." Wherever we are, we must come into contact with the unseen powers either for good or evil. Go wherewe may, we cannot shut ourselves away from them. If we could take the wings of the morning and fly to the uttermost partsof the earth, spiritual beings would still be all around us there. Doubtless there are many invisible spirits, good or evil,in our midst at this moment, and when we go forth to our homes, or tomorrow go to our business or other duties, they willstill attend us-the evil spirits seeking to lead our souls astray and the holy angels carrying out their sacred commission-"tominister for them who shall be heirs of salvation."

These spiritual beings are divided into two bands. One band is under the leadership of that great fallen spirit- great, thoughfallen-who, by his masterly genius, has secured control over multitudes of other spirits who do his bidding and yield to hiswill with unquestioning obedience. You also may surrender yourself to him if you will-he is the god of this world, the princeof the power of the air-and you may, if you will, be his slave. You may be girded with his chains, you may serve in his servitudeand you may earn the wage which he will pay you at the last, for, "the wages of sin is death." But, surely, the admonitionof the practical Apostle James is a wise one and we shall do well to take heed to it and revolt from our old master! Let usbreak his bonds asunder and cast away his cords from us! In the name of Jesus let us resist the devil and he will flee fromus. Jesus has a far greater host of spirits under his leadership than Satan has and, at His command, they shall keep us inall our ways, and bear us up in their hands lest we dash our feet against a stone. His legions are far mightier than thoseof the black Prince of Darkness and their services shall all be at our disposal, whenever we need them-as soon as we haverenounced all allegiance to our former tyrant lord!

Now, having noted the connection of our text, I am going to apply it to three classes of persons. First, to the Believer.Secondly, to the backslider. And then, last of all, to the unconverted.

I. First, then, we have here, A MESSAGE TO THE BELIEVER. "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."

In Scripture, drawing near has various meanings. First, it means, draw near to God in worship, in prayer and in praise. Whenthe hen sees a hawk in the air hovering over her brood, she gives a peculiar warning cluck, calling her little ones to cometo her while, at the same moment she, herself, draws near to them. In a far higher fashion, the voice of God calls you toHim, warning you of the danger that lurks all round you. And while you run to hide from peril beneath the shadow of His wings,He, on His part, runs to meet you as the forgiving father ran to meet his prodigal son. You draw near to Him in the fearfulnessand feebleness of your supplication and He draws near to you in the faithfulness and al-mightiness of His everlasting love!I am afraid that we often pray as if our God were at a distance from us-this can never be prevailing prayer. I do not despisethat prayer which is like shooting an arrow up to the Throne of God, but I love still better the prayer that grips the Angelof the Covenant, the prayer that stands foot to foot with Him and wrestles with Him until the breaking of the day, and eventhen cries, "I will not let You go, except You bless me." If you can draw

near to your Lord in prayer like that, He will certainly draw near to you and you will be like a prince who has power to prevailwith God and with men.

Let me encourage you, dear Friends, who have been backward in your private prayer, or who have cried to Him as though He werea long way off-"Draw near to Him." There are no bounds set around this mount of Grace as there were around Mount Sinai. Youmay climb up to the place called Calvary and clasp to your bosom the Christ who there died upon the accursed tree, for Heis your Brother, your Friend, your Savior, your All-in-All, if you are truly trusting Him! So to you I say, as Paul wroteto the Hebrews, "Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find Grace to helpin time of need." "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." Come near to Him and you shall soon have an answer toyour prayers!

It is the same with praise, but I am afraid that often we do not really draw near to God when we are professing to praiseHim. I know that, sometimes, when we are singing God's praises in our great assemblies here, we are drawn very near to thegates of Heaven. At such times I have felt as though I were swimming in an ocean of sacred delight! It should be so with everyactof worship-it should all draw us nearer to our God. There are times when we feel more closely drawn to Him in the closet ofprivate prayer than in the public services of the sanctuary, but still, there is a special blessing attending united prayerand praise which is not to be realized elsewhere. I remember reading of a Jew who would not open a business in a certain townbecause there was no synagogue in it. I wish that Christians would always be as careful to settle down, if possible, in aplace where they would not lack religious privileges, for prayer and praise, like the two wheels of the chariot which carriedJacob down to Joseph, bring us near to our Beloved Lord and Master! And He, at the same time, comes to meet us and draws nearto us.

But I find that in Scripture, the term, "Draw near to God," is often used in the sense of asking counsel of God. Thus theIsraelites, when they were in perplexity or difficulty, consulted the priest and he, wearing the ephod and the breastplatewith the mysterious Urim and Thummim, was able to interpret the will of God as it had been revealed to him. And now, thoughno sacred ephod or breastplate is worn by mortal man, though the ancient oracles are dumb and though no earthly prophet speaksinfallibly according to the will of God, you may still draw near to God, Himself, in the name of Jesus Christ, His Son, andseek the guidance of His ever-blessed Spirit! I hope you will do so at every step of your life, for what step is there thatis not important? Those that seem to us to be of the least significance may be the very ones that will the soonest lead usinto mischief. But there are certain periods in our history when it is absolutely necessary that we should say to ourselves,"Let us consult the Lord about this matter." Many of you would never have been in the trouble in which you now are if youhad but waited upon God before you took a certain course which has brought you nothing but sorrow. We heedlessly run beforethe fiery-cloudy pillar moves-and when we find that we have rushed into the waste howling wilderness, we lay the blame forour own folly at the door of God's Providence! Let it not be so with any of you, dear Friends. Let every morning's plans bespread out before the Lord to see whether they meet with His approval. And let every evening's joys and sorrows be broughtto Him that He may show you how to glorify Him in all that happens to you! Solomon truly said, "He that trusts in his ownheart is a fool." And David just as truly said, "But he that trusts in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about." You neednever lack Divine guidance, for you can have it by asking for it! God is willing to guide you if you will only seek His guidance.See to it, then, that you practice the text in the sense of asking counsel of God-"Draw near to God, and He will draw nearto you."

There is a third meaning to the phrase, "Draw near to God." It is used in the sense of enjoying communion with God. Thereare some here who do not understand what I mean by communion with God. They are completely puzzled by the very simple languageof the Apostle John, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ." There are hundreds and thousandsof people constantly attending church or chapel who do not know the meaning of the word, "communion." If you were to ask themwhat they understand by it, they would probably say that it means eating a piece of bread and drinking a little wine at theLord's Supper. And more than that, if they were to ask me to explain to them what true spiritual communion with God means,I would probably fail to make them comprehend it. Yet you who, by Grace, have been enabled to drink of these cooling streams,know well what that communion means! Some of you who have been the most deeply taught of the Spirit could sing through thewhole Song of Solomon and see your Beloved in it all-while to others it is only an Eastern love song which is to them quiteincomprehensible. You know Christ, not only by faith, but by a sort of second sense which makes Him very real to you. Youhave drawn near to Christ and talked with

Him-and He has drawn near to you and talked with you-and He has been nearer to you and dearer to you than any earthly friendhas ever been! Oh, what joy Believers know when they realize Christ's Presence! When His left hand is under their heads andHis right hand embraces them! Talk of Heaven-such communion is Heaven begun below! When Heaven's gates are opened wide andthe celestial sunshine comes streaming through, it falls upon the eyes that have been illuminated by the Holy Spirit-thatis true spiritual communion-and the glorified spirits above do but know that bliss to the full in knowing God and rejoicingin the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps, my dear Brother, you have been reading Rutherford's letters and you have said to yourself. "Alas, I cannot hope toenjoy such communion with Christ as Rutherford enjoyed!" But why shouldn't you? Read our text again. "Draw near to God, andHe will draw near to you." You, my dear Sister, may have read the life of Madame Guyon and you have said, "What an angel inhuman form that woman must have been!" But if you draw near to God, you may have as much love to Christ as she had! And youmay enjoy as much fellowship with Christ as she had, for, "He will draw near to you." You have envied Mary because she satat Jesus' feet, or you have wished that you had been John, to lean your head upon your Master's bosom. Well, you may do boththese things in a spiritual sense-and that is better than the carnal! "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." Toyou, even to you, the very feeblest of those who resist the devil, will God draw near if you draw near to Him!

I think, however, that there is another meaning in our text, and that is, "draw near to God" in the general strain and tenorof your life. We all know that the sun, the great center of the solar system has several planets revolving around him. Someof them comparatively near, others at a greater distance, and some still more remote. And Jesus Christ, the great Sun of Righteousness,has His people revolving around Him as the planets circle round the sun! Some of them are very near the great central Luminary.Others are far away, at a vast distance from Him, and others are neither very near nor very far off, but somewhere betweenthe two. There are some Believers who are like the planet Mercury. You do not often see that fast revolving planet becauseit keeps so near the sun that it is usually lost in his bright rays. So is it with some Christians-the world knows littleof them-they make no noise as they move along in their appointed orbit and they keep so near to Christ that they seem to beabsorbed into His radiance! Their thoughts are so much occupied with Christ, their heart's affection is so fully given toHim, that they do not talk much about earthly things. Their great desire is to live in close and hallowed fellowship withtheir Lord. There are others who are like the planets that are far away from the sun, yet some rays of light and heat reacheven them. And those Believers who are living at a distance from Christ have some of the Divine Light and heat within them,but oh, so little compared with what they might have! Oh, that you who are so far off from God, would leave your distant orbitsand draw near to Him-for then He would also draw near to you!

You know, dear Friends, that there is almost as much difference between some Christians and others as there is between Christiansand worldlings-I said, almost, for there is not quite the same difference, though there is nearly the same. There are heightsof lofty consecration and of intimate communion with Christ to which some Believers have attained, but of which others havenot yet even dreamed. There is an inner circle of fellowship into which only a few privileged saints have ever entered-theseare the elect out of the elect who have been distinguished above all the rest of Christ's disciples by the loftier Grace whichhas been their peculiar characteristic. Oh, that we had many more such Christians in all our Churches! There are a few ofthem scattered about Christendom, like grains of salt, but we need many more of them-men who, like Moses, have their facesmade to shine with a supernatural brightness because they have dwelt with God upon the mount of secret communion-men who arenot afraid to die because they have looked without alarm into the face of God, through Jesus Christ their Lord-and men whohave learned how to live as becomes the Gospel of Christ-and there is no higher life than that!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, "draw near to God!" Press towards the highest degree of godliness that is possible for youto obtain! Seek to have the closest communion with Christ that mortals can ever know while here on earth. Do not be contentto be in the outer courts, the lobbies, the ante-chambers of religion-strive to gain admission to the very Holy of Holies,itself, for that is where your Lord would have you to be! You know that there is a sort of border-land where many professorslive, where a man is thought to be a Christian, but all the while he is not even half a Christian. He is counted among thesaved, yet he lives on the very borders of damnation! And if at the last he issaved, we shall sorrowfully have to add, "yetso as by fire." In some respects he is a righteous man, as Lot was, yet, like Lot, he dwells in Sodom. He is in some waysa good man, as Noah was, yet, like he, he falls into shameful sin. Oh, that we could all rise above this wretched conditionand live continually so close to Christ that men would take knowledge of us that we had been with Jesus, and had caught somethingof His spirit-and had been so changed by Grace that we were far more like He is than we now are!

There I leave my text with the Believer. I would gladly draw you near to God, Beloved, by my words, if I could. But I knowthat He must, Himself, draw you by His Grace if the drawing is to be effectual. So let this be your prayer and resolve thisvery moment, "Draw us, and we will run after You."

II. Now, in the second place, we have in our text AN ENTREATY TO THE BACKSLIDER. "Draw near to God, and He will draw nearto you." I must speak but briefly on this point, but I need to be as earnest as I am brief.

So, Backslider, you have come in here, tonight. A friend who is up from the country persuaded you to accompany him, or youwould probably not have been here, for you have almost given up going to a place of worship-you think there is no hope foryou. Friend, do you know what your doom will be if you continue as you are now? Have you ever read the story of Judas? Doyou know what became of Demas, Simon Magus, Alexander the coppersmith and others who turned aside from the faith in the daysof the Apostles? Remember those terrible, yet Inspired words, "If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge ofthe truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation whichshall devour the adversaries." It would have been better for you never to have had any knowledge of the Truth of God thanto have known it and then sinned willfully against it, and so, after all, to be a castaway! If you are a true child of God,though a wanderer from His ways, you will be brought back to Him and I pray that you may be brought back to Him this veryhour! But if you are an apostate, a backslider in heart, you will be filled with your own ways! Having filled up the measureof your iniquity, you will be driven from God's Presence into the place of woe where hope and mercy can never come!

Yet listen to me, Backslider, this terrible sentence has not yet been pronounced on you. The voice of God still cries to you,"Draw near unto Me." Where are you flying, my Brother? Are you seeking to escape from God's righteous judgments? That is impossible,for His thunderbolts will soon overtake you and seal your eternal doom! Run not away from Him, but draw near to Him! Castdown your weapons of rebellion and fall prostrate before Him, seeking the forgiveness which He is willing and waiting to bestowupon you. Let me take you by the hand and try to encourage you to come near to the Lord this very moment. Do you ask, "Howcan I come near to Him?" Come just as you came to Him at the first! Perhaps you reply, "But I never really came to Him aright."Then come to Him aright right now! I came to Him as a sinner and He gave me a hearty welcome-and He will receive you justas graciously if you only come to Him with wholehearted repentance for your sin and true faith in Jesus Christ as your onlySavior!

But here is one who did run well, yet she has been hindered. Backsliding woman, remember that your God is married to you andthat He bids you return to Him! Backsliding man, you have turned aside from your God, yet He still loves you and cries outto you, "Return, return, return!" The Lord still says, as He did in Jeremiah's day, "Return, you backsliding children, andI will heal your backslidings." Oh, that you would reply even as they did-"Behold, we come unto You, for You are the Lordour God"! I am sure that you are not happy in your present condition. On the contrary, you are as sad and miserable as youcan possibly be. This very House of Prayer reminds you of your former privileges and joys, of the days when you delightedin God and felt that you were, indeed, on your way to Heaven. You cannot be content to live in the far country among the swinethat are not fit companions for you! Leave the husks to the pigs-they can never satisfy your hunger! Come back to your Father,poor prodigal! Though your clothes are in rags, though you are steeped in filth, though you have sinned most grievously, comeback to your Father and He will receive you with open arms and open heart! I will not act towards you as the elder brotherdid to the prodigal, but I will welcome you as a Brother if you are, indeed, a Brother. But if you are not a Brother, youare a sinner-and "this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to savesinners," even the very chief! So, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." Put your soul's affairs intoHis hands! ask Him to be your Advocate to plead your cause before the King! He never yet lost a case that was entrusted toHim-and He will not lose yours!

III. I have almost anticipated the last division of my discourse, but I must close by giving from my text AN INVITATION TOTHE UNCONVERTED. "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."

The great Gospel rings out again and the same note sounds to the sinner as to the saint-not that there is any implicationin this text that the sinner can draw near to God by his own unaided power, or that he comes first, and God comes next, orthat there is any natural willingness in the sinner to come to God. The text seems to me to show the difference between theLaw and the Gospel. God even said to Moses, the chosen leader of His ancient people, "Draw not near here: take off your shoes,for the place where you stand is holy ground." But under the Gospel, God says to the sinner, "Draw near here. It is true thatthis is holy ground, but it is sprinkled with blood-the blood of My only-begotten and well-beloved Son. And if the blood isalso sprinkled upon you, you may draw near and you cannot come too near, so come and welcome, Sinner, come!" If it were aquestion of merit, or of justification by the works of the Law, the sinner might well try to flee from the avenging handsof Divine Justice. But on the ground of Divine Love, and pity, and mercy, and free and Sovereign Grace, the sinner may drawnear to God though he has nothing to recommend him! He may come just as he is and God, in mercy, will draw near to Him! Shouldthere be here a swearer, a drunk, or one who has committed the foulest of sins-the text says to him in the sense in whichI have explained it-"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." Sinner, if you repent of your sins and trust in Jesusas your Savior, God will not spurn you and drive you from Him, but He will draw near to you as you draw near to Him!

Then, next, the text shows the sinner what God means to do for him. He means to draw the sinner near to Himself and then Himselfto draw near to the sinner! This is done in two ways. It is done, first, by what Jesus did for us when He split the veil thatseparated us from God. And it is done, next, by what the Holy Spirit does in us when He splits the veil that hides God fromus! There are, or were, these two veils-the veil that concealed the visible manifestation of God from men, which was tornasunder at the moment of Christ's death-and the veil that is over our own hearts which conceals God from us until the HolySpirit takes it away and we see God in Christ Jesus reconciled to us by the death of His Son. I fear that there are even somein this congregation who are living just as if there were no God at all. If there really were no God, you would probably notbe any different from what you are now. God is not in all your thoughts or if you ever do think of Him, you say, with thefool of whom the Psalmist tells us, "No God. No God for me. I need no God and, as far as I am concerned, there is no God."Well then, if you are ever to be saved, you will have to be brought near to God by a power altogether outside yourself! Youwill have to be made to feel that God is One whom you must love. You will be reconciled to Him by the death of His Son andyour heart will be filled with love to Christ through the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit!

The text further shows what God will lead the sinner to do for himself. Ungodly man, if you are ever to be saved, you mustdraw near to God in prayer! Go to Him at this moment, just where you are sitting, and confess all your sin to Him. There isno need for you to utter a word that any of us can hear, for God can read the language of your heart. Then you must draw nearto Christ by faith. Just as that poor woman in the crowd touched the hem of His garment and was immediately made whole, somust you, by faith, get into contact with Christ! Trust in Him as your one and only Savior, and He will certainly save you!And this shall be the grand result of it all-you will draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Oh, that you would nowcry to Him, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." That will be drawing near to God in penitence and contrition and supplication-andHe will draw near to you in gracious acceptance and blessing. And then one day He will call you to draw near to Him in Heaven,itself, to sit at His table in Glory, to feast with Him in His Kingdom! Then shall you, even you, wear a crown, and wave apalm and forever adore that matchless Grace which first drew you near to Him-and then draw near to you!

If there is one here who will go home to pray, "Draw me near, O God!" Or better still, if there is one anywhere in this vastthrong, whose heart is praying, "Lord, save me! Draw me with the cords of a man, (even the Man, Christ Jesus, the Friend ofsinful man), with the bands of love. O God, draw near to me, for I would gladly draw near to You!" If there is one here whoseeyes have in them the tears of penitence, I point that one to Jesus, hanging on the Cross, and say-

"There is life for a look at the Crucified One!

There is life at this moment for thee.

Then look, Sinner-look unto Him and be saved-

Unto Him who was nailed to the tree!" Remember that the Son of God, the Lord of Life and Glory, suffered indescribable shameand ignominy and, at last, death, itself, for sinners-for every sinner who trusts in His great atoning Sacrifice! If you aretrusting in Him, that is

proof positive that He dried for you, died in your place, died that you should never die, for He bore all the punishment thatyour sin deserved, so there is none left for you to bear! He drank to the last dregs the cup of wrath that was your due, sothere is not one drop left for you to drink! He suffered all that could ever have been your portion even in Hell, itself,for being Infinite, there was no limit to His agonies. And now, for you, there is no Hell, no torment, no condemnation! Youmay know assuredly whether Christ died for you or not-do you trust Him? Will you trust Him now? Will you say-

"Just as I am-and waiting not

To rid my soul of one dark blot.

To You, whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come"?

If You have said that from your heart, you are now a saved soul and you may go to your home rejoicing in the Lord, for yoursins, which were many, are all forgiven and you are on your way to Heaven! God grant that it may be so, for Jesus Christ'ssake!


Verse 1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greet-ings.TheApostle James evidently believed in no lost ten tribes, as some, nowadays, do. They were never lost-the Israelites whom wesee nearly every day belong to some of all the 12 tribes, so James addressed his Epistle, "to the twelve tribes which arescattered abroad, greetings."

2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations. Or, trials. [See Sermon #1074, Volume 29-all joy inall


3-5. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfectand entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom. That is just what most of us lack-"If any of you lack wisdom"-

5. Let him ask of God. That is the short road to true knowledge-to pray. Study is good, no doubt, for the acquisition of knowledge.But praying is the best way to obtain true wisdom!

5, 6. Who gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing unwavering.Forthe very essence of prayer lies in believing that God can and will give us the things which we seek at His hands.

6. For he that wavers.The man who does not know whether prayer will succeed or not-

6. Is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. [See Sermon #2537, Volume 43-A warning to waverers.] You cannever tell what will become of the wave. It goes just

where it is driven-and there are many men who can be good, after a certain fashion, if they are in good company-but they canbe just as bad if the wind blows from another quarter! But if we have true faith in God and true faith in prayer, we shallnot be "like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

7. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. What the wild waves are saying, we know not. Sois it with a man who is "like a wave of the sea." He utters words without meaning and his prayer dies away like the roar ofthe billows upon the shore when the fury of the storm has abated. "Let not that man think that he shall receive anything ofthe Lord."

8. A double-minded man. A man with two minds-a mind to the religious and another mind to enjoy the pleasures of the world-sucha man-

8. Is unstable in all his ways.There is nothing solid or substantial about him, nothing enduring. You cannot rely on him,for he is blown here and there, as chaff flies before the wind.

9. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. For the Gospel lifts him up out of his poverty and makes hima child of God who is spiritually rich, even though he is poor in temporal things.

10. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass, he shall pass away. Let him not, therefore,rely upon his wealth as though it were anything but a trust and a burden laid upon him, for he will have to leave it and

he, himself, "as the flower of the grass, shall pass away" Let him rejoice to get down to the Rock of Ages! Let him lay holdof eternal things as if he had nothing else in which he could trust!

11, 12. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withers the grass, and the flo wer falls and the beautyof the fashion of it perishes; so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. Blessed is the man that endures temptation.[See Sermon #1874, Volume 31-A DISCOURSE UPON TRUE BLESSEDNESS HERE AND HEREAFTER.] Or, trial. The man that holds on and holdsout under it and does not give way under it-blessed is the man that is tried-

12, 13. For when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him. Let noman say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God. Here we must take the word, "tempted," in its dark meaning, for the Scripturalword, "temptation," means two very different things. When we are drawn towards evil, that is the black meaning of the word,"temptation." But when we are tested or tried in order that it may seen that the good in us is real-that is the bright meaningof the word, "temptation." In that sense, God did tempt (try or test) Abraham, but not in the other sense.

13-15. For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn of his ownlust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.Thereis the parentage and the progeny of sin. Sin comes of unbridled desire. A man feels that he must have a certain thing-rightor wrong-he is determined to have it. Then there comes of that determination the overt act of sin! And what comes of that?Why, death-for every sin, in its measure, helps to kill us-to destroy that which is the real life of our manhood. Every sinis a drop of poison. There are sweets that are poisonous and the pleasures of sin are of this kind. And leave the poison ofsin alone, let it work in its natural way and it will bring forth death! That man, therefore, who lives in sin and loves it,has nothing before him but everlasting death! He may well tremble!

16, 17. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. It never comes from withinour own hearts! It does not even come by imitation of better men-it must come from God.

17. And comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. As every sunbeam comesfrom the sun, so all Grace and virtue must come from God with whom there is neither parallax nor tropic, as there is withthe natural sun. He never declines, He never varies-He is always the same. Now, in proof that everything in us comes fromGod, James says that our very spiritual life comes from God.

18. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures. True Believershave been twice created. The second time we were begotten, again, by the Word of God that became the living seed within ourspirits-out of which the new life grew-and now we are "a kind of first fruits of His creatures." Just as the first ears ofripe corn were brought into the sanctuary and dedicated to God, so are all true Believers consecrated persons, the "firstfruits of His creatures."

19, 20. Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of manworks not the righteousness of God.We never do much for the Truth of God or goodness by getting angry about it. Whenever aman debates about the Truth of God and loses his temper, he has also lost his cause! I have heard of one who knew little oftrue religion, who watched a missionary and a Brahmin disputing. And he decided that the missionary was in the right. Whenhe was asked why he thought so, he said, "Because he kept his cool, and the other man flew into a passion." Although thatmay not always be a good test of the truth of the matter in question, it certainly is a good test of how the dispute is going!

21. Therefore, lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word,

which is able to save your souk. [See Sermon #1847, Volume 31-BEFORE SERMON, AT SERMON AND AFTER SERMON-Read/download theentire sermon, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.orgj That evil branch is cut away-now be ready to have a branchof a better kind inserted into you, even "the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls"-that you may bring forth betterfruit than the old crabbed stock of Nature can possibly yield!

22-26. But be you doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any is a hearer of the Word, and nota doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightwayforgets what manner of man he was. But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being nota forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. [See Sermons #1467-b, Volume 25- Volume56 7

TWO SORTS OF HEARERS and #1848, Volume 31-THE LOOKING GLASS-Read/download both sermons, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.orgjIf any

man among you seems to be religious, but bridles not his tongue and deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Thatwhich is in the well will come up in the bucket, and that which is in the heart will come up on the tongue. An unbridled tonguedenotes an unrenewed heart. Oh, that God would always give us Grace in our heart to move our tongue aright! Then, as the waterguides the whole ship, our tongue will guide our whole body and the whole of our manhood will be under holy government andcontrol.

27. Pure and undefled religion before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,and to keep himself unspotted from the world. [See Sermon #2313, Volume 39-CHARITY AND PURITY-Read/download the entire sermon,

free of charge, at] Oh, how much this means-tenderness to others and tenderness of consciencein ourselves! How much Divine Grace we need in order that these two virtues may shine brightly within us!