Sermon 3349. 'The Garment of Praise'
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 1913.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Isaiah 61:3.
THE list of comforts which the Anointed has here prepared for His mourners is apparently inexhaustible. He seems as if Hedelighted to give "according to the multitude of His tender mercies" a very cloud of blessings. This is the third of His sacredexchanges-"the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Grace, like its God, delights to be a trinity. This is alsothe broadest of the blessings, for whereas the first adorned the face with beauty, and the second anointed the head with joy,this last and widest covers the whole person with a garment of praise! Man's first vesture was of his own making and it couldnot cover his shame-but this garment is of God's making and it makes us comfortable in ourselves, and comely in the sightof God and man. They are better adorned than Solomon in all his glory, to whom God gives the garment of praise. May the blessedSpirit sweetly help us to bring out the rich meaning of this promise to mourners, for again I must remind you that these thingsare only given to them-and not to the thoughtless world.
We have already noticed the variety of the consolation which Jesus brings to mourners-the Plant of Renown produces many lovelyflowers with rich perfume and a multitude of choice fruits of dainty taste. Now we would call your attention to their marvelousadaptation to our needs. Man has a spirit and the gifts of Grace are spiritual. His chief maladies lie in his soul and theblessings of the Covenant deal with his spiritual needs. Our text mentions "the spirit of heaviness" and gives a promise thatit shall be removed. The blessings which Jesus gives to us are not surface blessings, but they touch the center of our being!At first we may not perceive their depth, but only know that beauty is given instead of ashes-this might seem to be an externalchange. Further on, however, joy is given, instead of mourning, and this is inward-the thought has advanced, we are gettingnearer the heart. But in the words before us, the very spirit of heaviness, the fountain from which the mourning flows, thehearth whereon the ashes are burned is dealt with and taken away-and instead thereof we receive the garment of praise! Whata mercy it is that the blessings of the Everlasting Covenant belong to the realm of the spirit for, after all, the outwardis transient, the visible soon perishes. We are grateful for the food and raiment which our bodies require, but our sternerneed is nourishment, consolation and protection for our spirits. The Covenant of Grace blesses the man, himself-the soul-whichis the essence of his life. It puts away the sordid sackcloth of despondency and robes the spirit in royal garments of praise.Judge you your state by your estimation of such favors, for if you have learned to prize them, they are yours! The worldlingcares nothing for spiritual blessings. His beauty, joy, and praise are found in things which perish in the using. But thosewho know their preciousness have been taught of God and since they can appreciate them, they shall have them! Soul-mercy isthe very soul of mercy and he whom the Lord blesses in his spirit, is blessed indeed!
I want you still further to notice how these blessings grow as we proceed. At first, out of the triplet of favors here bestowedthere was beauty given, instead of ashes. There is much there-beauty of personal character before God is no mean thing-yeta man might have that, and by reason of his anxiety of heart he might scarcely be aware of it. Doubtless many who are lovelyin the sight of God spend much of their time in bewailing their own uncomeliness. Many a saint sorrows over himself, whileothers are rejoicing in him! Therefore, the next mercy given to the mourner in Zion is the oil of joy, which is a personaland conscious delight. The man rejoices. He perceives that he is made beautiful before God and he begins to joy in what theLord has done for him and in the Anointed One from whom the oil of gladness descends. This is an advance upon the other, butnow we come to the highest of all! Seeing that God has made him glad, he perceives his obligations to God and he expressesthem in thankfulness-and so stands before the Most High like a white-robed priest, putting on praise as the garment in whichhe appears in the courts of the Lord's House, and is seen by his Brothers and
Sisters. As you advance in the Divine Life, the blessings you receive will appear to be greater and greater. Some promisingthings become small by degrees and miserably less, but in the Kingdom of Heaven we go from strength to strength. The beginningof the Christian life is like the water in the pots at Cana, but in due time it blushes into wine. The pathway which we treadis, at first, bright as the dawn, but if we pursue it with sacred perseverance, its radiance will be as the perfect day! Thereshall be no going down of our sun, but it shall shine with increasing luster till it shall be as the light of seven days,and the days of our mourning shall be ended!
I beg you also to mark that when we reach the greatest mercy and stand on the summit of blessing, we have reached a conditionof praise-praise to God invests our whole nature. To be wrapped in praise to God is the highest state of the soul. To receivethe mercy for which we praise God is something, but to be wholly clothed with praise to God for the mercy received is farmore! Why, praise is Heaven, and Heaven is praise! To pray is Heaven below, but praise is the essence of Heaven above! Whenyou bow lowest in adoration, you are at your very highest. The soul full of joy takes a still higher step when it clothesitself with praise. Such a heart takes to itself no glory, for it is dressed in gratitude and so hides itself. Nothing isseen of the flesh and its self-exaltation, since the garment of praise hides the pride of man. May you all who are heavy inspirit be so clothed upon with delight in the Lord, who has covered you with the robe of righteousness, that you may be aswedding guests adorned for the palace of the King with glittering garments of adoring love!
Looking carefully into the words before us, we will dwell, first, upon the spirit of heaviness. Secondly, upon the promiseimplied in the text-that this shall be removed. And then, thirdly, upon the garment of praise which is to be bestowed. First,let us muse upon-
I. THE SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS.
We would not make this meditation doleful and yet it may be as well to set forth the night side of the soul, for thus we maythe better show a sympathetic spirit and come more truly home to those who are in heaviness through manifold temptations.Some of us know by experience what the spirit of heaviness means. It comes upon us at times even now. There are many thingsin the body. There are many things in the family. There are many things in daily life which make us sad. Facts connected withthe past and with the future cause us, at times, to hang our heads. We shall just now dwell upon those former times when wewere under the spirit of heaviness on account of unpardoned sin. We cannot forget that we were in bondage in a spiritual Egypt.We would awaken our memories to remember the wormwood and the gall, the place of dragons and of owls.
Observe that this heaviness is an inward matter and it is usually a grief which a man tries to keep to himself. It is notthat he is sick in body, though his unbelieving friends fancy that he must surely be ailing, or he would not seem so melancholy."He sits alone and keeps silent," and they say that he has a low fit upon him and they invite him out into company and try,if they can, to jest him out of his distress. The fact is that sin is pressing upon him, and well may the spirit be heavywhen it has that awful load to carry! Day and night God's hand is also heavy upon him and well may his spirit be loaded down.Conviction of sin makes us as a cart that is loaded with sheaves-but it is intensely inward and, therefore, not to be understoodby careless minds. "The heart knows its own bitterness and a stranger intermeddles not therewith."
1 have known persons who have been the subject of this heaviness most sedulously endeavor to conceal from others even theslightest appearance of it. And I cannot say that there has not been some wisdom in so doing, for ungodly men despise thosewho tremble at the Word of God. What do they care about sin? They can sin and rejoice in it as the swine can roll in the mireand feel itself at home. Those who weep in secret places because the arrows of the Lord have wounded them, are shunned bythose who forget God, and they need not be sorry for it, since such company can furnish no balm for their wounds. Mourner,you are wise to keep your sorrow to yourself as far as the wicked are concerned, but remember, though perhaps you think notso, there are hundreds of God's children who know all about your condition, and if you could be bold enough to open your mindto them and tell them of your heaviness of spirit, you would be surprised to find how thoroughly they would sympathize withyou and how accurately some of them could describe the maze through which you are wandering! All are not tender of heart,but there are Believers who would enter into your experience and who might, by God's blessing, give you the clue to the labyrinthof your grief. The Lord comforted Paul by Ananias, and you may be sure that there is an Ananias for you! If you feel, as manydo, that you could not unburden your soul to your parents or relatives, go to some other experienced Believers and tell themas far as you can your painful condition. I know, for I have felt the same, that all hope that you shall be saved is takenaway and that you are utterly prostrate-but yet THERE IS HOPE!
While this heaviness is inward, notice in the next place that it is real. Heaviness of spirit is one of the most terriblytrue of all our griefs. He who is cheerful and light-hearted too often contemns and even ridicules him who is sad of soul.He says that he is "nervous," calls him "fanciful.. .almost out of his mind," "very excitable.. .quite a monomaniac," andso on. The current idea being that there is really no need for alarm and that sorrow for sin is mere fanaticism! If some personshad suffered half an hour of conviction of sin, themselves, they would look with different eyes upon those who feel the spiritof heaviness, for I say it, and know what I am saying, that next to the torment of Hell, itself, there is but one sorrow whichis more severe than that of a broken and a contrite spirit that trembles at God's Word, but does not dare to suck comfortout of it! The bitterness of remorse and despair is worse, but yet it is unspeakably heartbreaking to bow at the Mercy Seat,and to fear that no answer will ever come-to lie at the feet of Jesus, but to be afraid to look up to Him for salvation! Tobe conscious of nothing but abounding sin and raging unbelief and to expect nothing but sudden destruction-this is an earthlyTophet! There are worse wounds than those which torture the flesh, but more cruel pangs arise from the broken bones of thesoul than from those of the body. Sharp is that cut which goes to the very heart and yet does not kill, but makes men wishthat they could die or cease to be. There is a prison such as no iron bars can make and a fetter such as no smith can forge.Sickness is a trifle compared to it-it is to some men less endurable than the rack or the stake. To be impaled upon your ownsins, pilloried by your own conscience, shot at by your own judgment as with barbed arrows-this is anguish and torment!
This heaviness of spirit puts a weight upon the man's activity and clogs him in all things. He is weighted heavily who bearsthe weight of sin. You put before him the precious Promises, but he does not understand them, for the heaviness presses uponhis mental faculties. You assure him that these Promises are meant for him, but he cannot believe you, for heaviness of spiritpalsies the grasping hand by which he might appropriate the blessing. "Their soul abhors all manner of meat, and they drawnear to the gates of death." Troubled minds at times lose all their appetite. They need spiritual food and yet turn from it.The most wholesome meat of the Gospel they are afraid to feed upon, for their sadness makes them fearful of presumption. Heavinessbrings on amazement and this is but another word for saying that the mind is in a maze and cannot find its way out.
They are weighted as to their understanding and their faith, for "the spirit of heaviness" also presses there. Their memory,too, is quick enough at recollecting sin, but to anything that might minister comfort, it is strangely weak, even as Jeremiahsaid, "You have removed my soul far off from peace: I forget prosperity." Indeed, David was still more oblivious, for he says,"My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread." All the faculties become dull and inert,and the man is like one in a deadly swoon. I have heard persons, under conviction of sin, say, "I seem absolutely stupid aboutDivine things." Like one that is stunned by a severe blow, they fall down and scarcely know what they feel or do not feel.Were they in their clear senses, we could set the Gospel before them and point out the way of salvation and they would soonlay hold of it! But, alas, they seem to have no capacity to understand the Promise, or to grasp its consolation.
Now, this heaviness of spirit also renders everything around the man heavy. The external is generally painted from within.A merry heart makes mirth in the dull November fog under a leaden sky, but a dull heart finds sorrow amidst May blossoms,and June flowers. A man colors the world he lives in to the tint of his own soul. "Things are not what they seem," yet whatthey seem has often more influence upon us than what they are! Find a man, then, with heaviness of spirit, and you will findthat his sorrows appear to be greater than he can bear. The common-place worries of life which cheerfulness sports with, area load to a sad heart-yes, the grasshopper is a burden! The ordinary duties of life become a weariness and slight domesticcares a torture. He trembles lest he should commit sin even in going in and out of his house. A man who bears the weight ofsin has small strength for any other load. Even the joys of life become somber. It matters not how much God has blessed aman in his family, in his basket, or in his store, for as long as his heart is oppressed and his soul bowed down with sin,what are the bursting barns and what are the overflowing wine vats to him? He pines for a peace and rest which these thingscannot yield. If the eyes are dark, the sun, itself, affords no light!
There is one thing, however, which we would say to mourners pressed down with guilt-whatever heaviness you feel, it is nogreater heaviness than sin ought to bring upon a man, for it is an awful thing to have sinned against God. If the sense ofsin should drive you to distraction-and cavilers often say that religion does this-it might reasonably do so if there wereno other matters to think upon-no forgiving love and atoning blood. That which is the result of sin ought not to be chargedupon religion, but true religion should be praised, because it brings relief to all this woe! Sin is the
most horrible thing in the universe-and when a man sees how foully he has transgressed-it is no wonder that he is greatlytroubled. To think that I, a creature that God has made, which He could crush as easily as a moth, have dared to live in enmityto Him for many years, and have even become so hardened as to forget Him and perhaps defy Him! This is terrible! When I havebeen told of His great love, I have turned on my heels and rejected it. Yes, and when I have even seenthat love in the bleedingbody of His dear Son, I have been unbelieving and have done despite even to boundless Grace, and gone from bad to worse, greedyafter sin! Is it marvelous that when they have seen the guilt of all this, men have felt their moisture turned into the droughtof summer and cried in desperation, "My soul chooses strangling rather than life"? However low you are, beloved Mourner, youare not exaggerating your guilt! Apart from the Grace of God, your case is, indeed, as hopeless as you suppose. Though youlie in the very dust and dare not look up, the position is not lower than you ought to take. You richly deserve the angerof God and when you have some sense of what that wrath must be, you are not more fearful of it than there is just need tobe, for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. "He touches the hills and they smoke."-
"The pillars of Heaven's starry roof Tremble and start at His reproof." What will His wrath be when He puts on His robes ofjustice and comes forth to mete out justice to the rebellious? O God, how terrible is Your wrath! Well may we be crushed atthe very thought of it!
Another reflection we would suggest here and that is, that if you have great heaviness of spirit on account of sin, you areby no means alone in it, for some of the best servants of God have endured hard struggling before they have found peace withGod. Read their biographies and you will find that even those who have really believed in Christ have at some time or otherfelt the burden of sin pressing with intolerable weight upon their souls. Certain of them have recorded their experience interrible sentences, but others have felt what they have not dared to commit to writing. "Weeping Cross," as the old writerscall it, is a much-frequented spot-many roads meet at that point, and most pilgrims have left a pool of tears there.
There is this to be added. Your Lord and Master, He to whom you must look for hope, knew what heaviness meant on account ofsin. He had no sin of His own, but He bore the iniquity of His people and, therefore, He was prostrate in Gethsemane. We readthat "He began to be sorrowful and to be very heavy." The spirit of heaviness was upon Him and He sweat, as it were, greatdrops of blood falling to the ground! This same heaviness made Him cry upon the Cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsakenMe?" Jesus was sorely amazed and very heavy-and it is to Him as passing through that awful heaviness that I would bid youlook in your hour of terror, for He alone is your door of hope. Through His heaviness, yours shall be removed, for "the chastisementof our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." So much, then, concerning heaviness of spirit. And now, secondly,let us-
II. SEE THE HEAVINESS REMOVED, for of this the text contains a Divine Promise-the anointed Savior will take it away. Onlya word or two upon this.
Brothers and Sisters, do you enquire how Jesus removes the spirit of heaviness? We answer, He does it thus-by revealing tous with clearness and certainty that our sin is pardoned. The Holy Spirit brings us to trust in Christ and the Inspired Wordassures us that Christ suffered in the place of all Believers and, therefore, we perceive that He died for us. And also thatnothing remains for us to suffer because sin, having been laid upon the Substitute, it is no more upon us. We rejoice in thefact of our Lord's Substitution and the transfer of our sins to Him. We see that if He stood in our place, we stand in His-andif He was rejected, we are "accepted i n the Beloved." Then straight away this spirit of heaviness disappears because thereason for it is gone-
"I will praise You every day! Now Your anger's turned away, Comfortable thoughts arise From the bleeding Sacrifice."
Moreover, in the new birth the Holy Spirit infuses into us a new nature-and that new nature knows not the spirit of heaviness-itis a thing of light, and life, and joy in the Holy Spirit! The newborn nature looks up and perceives its kinship with God.It rejoices in the favor of the Holy One from whom it came. It rests in the Lord, yes, it joys and rejoices in Him! And whereas,the old sin-spirit still sinks us down according to its power, there still being in us the evil heart of unbelief, this newlife wells up within us as a living fountain of crystal and buoys us up with the peace and joy which comes of the Holy Spirit'sindwelling! Thus the inner life becomes a constant remedy for heaviness of spirit.
And faith, too, that blessed gift of God, wherever it resides, works to the clearing away of heaviness, for faith sings, "Allthings are mine, why should I sorrow? All my sin is gone, why should I pine and moan? All things as to the present life aresupplied me by the God of Providence and Grace-and the future is guaranteed to me by the Covenant ordered in all things andsure." Faith takes the telescope and looks beyond the narrow range of time into the eternal heavens, and sees a crown laidup for the faithful. Yes, and her ears are opened so that she hears the songs of the redeemed by blood before the Throne ofGod-thus she bears away the spirit of heaviness! If I see no joy with these poor optics, faith has other eyes with which shediscovers rivers of delight! If flesh and blood afford me nothing but causes for dismay, faith knows more and sees more-andshe perceives causes for overflowing gratitude and delight! Hope also enters with her silver light, borrowed from faithfulpromises. She expects the future glory, at which we hinted just now, and begins to anticipate it all. And so, again, she drivesaway the gloom of the heart. Love, also, the sweetest of the three, comes in and teaches us to be resigned to the will ofGod and then sweetly charms us into acquiescence with all the Divine Purposes. And when we reach that point, and so love Godthat whatever He may do with us, we are resolved to trust Him and praise His name, then the spirit of heaviness must vanish!
Now, beloved Mourners, I trust you know what this great uplifting means. It is a work in which the Lord is greatly glorifiedwhen He raises a poor, begrimed soul out of the sordid potsherds among which it has lain, and gives it to soar aloft as onthe silver wings of a dove! Some of us can never forget the hour of our great deliverance-it was the day of our espousals,the time of love-and it must forever remain as the beginning of days unto us. All glory be to Him who has loosed our bondsand set our feet in a large room! But now we come to the third and most prominent point of the text, which is-
III. THE GARMENT OF PRAISE BESTOWED, which takes the place of the spirit of heaviness. We suppose this may mean, and probablydoes mean, that the Lord gives us a garment that is honorable and worthy of praise-and what is this garment but the righteousnessof our Lord Jesus Christ? The Lord arrays His poor people in a robe which causes them to be no more worthy of shame, but fitto be praised. They become unblameable in His sight. What a blessing this is! Did not the father, when he received the prodigal,say, "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him"? That was a praiseful garment, instead of the spirit of heaviness-and whenevera child of God begins to perceive his adoption and to say, "Abba, Father," then He puts on a fit garment for a child to wear,an honorable dress, a garment of praise! When we realize that Christ has made us priests unto God and we, therefore, put onthe priestly garment of sanctification by beginning to offer the sacrifice of prayer and praise, then, again, we wear a praisefulgarment! When we exercise the high prerogative of kings, for we are kings as well as priests, then, again, we wear not a sordidvesture of dishonor, nor the costume of a prison, nor the rags of beggary, nor the black robe of condemnation, but a garmentof honor and of praise! Every child of God should be clothed with the garments of salvation-his Savior has prepared them forthis end-let him wrap them about him and be glad, for these garments make him beautiful in the sight of God!
But I choose, rather, to follow the exact words of our version tonight and speak of the garment of praise as meaning gratitude,thanksgiving, and adoration. The anointed Comforter takes away the spirit of heaviness and He robes His people in the garmentof praise.
Now, this is something outward as well as inward. A wise man endeavors to hide the heaviness of his spirit, but when the Lordtakes that away, he does not wish to conceal his gratitude. I could not help telling those I lived with, when I found theLord! Master John Bunyan informs us that he was so anxious to let someone know of his conversion that he wanted to tell thecrows on the plowed land all about it! I do not wonder. It is a piece of news which it would be hard to withhold. Whenevera man's inward heaviness is graciously removed, he puts on the outward manifestation of joy and walks abroad in the silkenrobes of praise!
As we have already said, a garment is a thing which covers a man, so when a man learns to thank God aright, His praise covershim-he, himself, is hidden while he gives all the glory to God. The man is seen as clothed in praise from head to foot. Manypersons very unfairly judge Christians when they begin to speak of the love and mercy of God to them, for they cry out thatthey are egotistical-but how can it be egotistical to talk of what the Lord has done for you? If you speak with any sort ofconfidence, captious individuals say that you are presumptuous. How can it be presumptuous to believe what God, Himself, declares?It is presumptuous to doubtwhat God says, but it is not presumption to believe God! Neither is it egotism to state the truth.If I were to say that God has not blessed me abundantly, the pulpit on which I stand would cry out against me! Shall I concealthe mercy of God as if it were stolen goods? Never! But rather
I will speak the more boldly of the measureless love which has kept my soul from going down to the pit! "He that glories,let him glory in the Lord." Bless the Lord, O you saints of His, and give thanks to His holy name. Show forth His salvation,compel men to see it, gird it about your loins and wear it for your adorning in all companies! While speaking of this garmentof praise, let us enquire of what it is made.
Is not praise composed in a large measure of an attentive observation of God's mercy?Thousands of blessings come to us withoutour knowledge. We take them in at the back door, and put them away in the cellar. Now, praise takes note of them, preservesthe invoice of favors received and records the goodness of the Lord. O Friends, if you do this, you will never be short ofreasons for praise!. He who notices God's mercy will never be without a mercy to notice. This is the chief material of thegarment of praise-attentive consideration of Divine Grace is the broadcloth out of which the garment of praise is made.
The next thing is grateful memory. Very much that God does for us we bury alive in the grave of oblivion. We receive His merciesas if they were common trash. They are no sooner come than they are gone, and the proverb truthfully says, "Bread eaten issoon forgotten." Why, my Brothers and Sisters, the Lord may give you a thousand favors and you will not praise Him. But ifHe smites you with one little stroke of the whip, you grumble at Him! You write His mercies on the water and your own trialsyou engrave on granite! These things ought not to be. Maintain the memory of His great goodness. "Forget not all His benefits."Call to remembrance your song in the night and remember the loving kindnesses of the Lord. In this, also, we find rich materialfor the garment of praise.
We are further aided by rightly estimating mercy. Is it not a great mercy to be alive and not in Hell? To be in your sensesand not in the lunatic asylum? To be in health and not in the hospital? To be in one's own room, and not in the workhouse?These are great favors, and yet, perhaps, we seldom thank God for them! Then count up your spiritual mercies, if you can.Remember, on the other hand, what you deserved, and what it cost the Savior to bring these blessings to you-how patient theLord has been with your refusal of His love and how continuously He has loaded you with benefits! Weigh His mercies, as wellas count them, and they will help you to put on the garment of praise.
It is the telling out of the Divine goodness which largely constitutes praise-to observe, to remember, to estimate, to prizeand then to speak of the Lord's gracious gifts-all these are essential. Praise is the open declaration of the gratitude whichis felt within. How greatly do many fail in this! If you visit them, how readily they enlarge upon their troubles-in fiveminutes they have informed you about the damp weather, their aching bones and their low wages. Others speak of the bad timesand the decline of trade till you know their ditty by heart! Is this the manner of the people of God? Should we not entertainour visitors with something better than the bones of our meat and the hard crusts of our bread? Let us set before them goodtidings and cheerfully tell of the Divine goodness to us, lest they should go away under the impression that we serve a hardmaster. It would create an almost miraculous change in some people's lives if they made a point of speaking most of the preciousthings and least of the worries and ills! Why always the poverty? Why always the pains? Why always the dying child? Why alwaysthe husband's small wages? Why always the unkindness of a friend? Why not sometimes-yes, why not always-the mercies of theLord? That is praise and it is to be our everyday garment, the livery of every servant of Christ!
Let us enquire, too, who ought to wear this garment? The answer may be suggested by another-whom does it fit? Truly thereis a garment of praise which exactly suits me and I mean to wear it. It is so capacious that some of my Brothers and Sisterswould wonder if they could see it spread out. I am so much in debt to my God that, do what I will, I can never give a fairacknowledgment of it. I freely confess that I owe Him more than any man living and am morally bound to praise Him more earnestlythan anyone else! Did I hear some of you claiming to be equal debtors? Do you demand to be allowed to praise Him more thanI? Well, I will not quarrel with you. Let the matter stand and if you will excel me, I will praise my Lord for it. I once,in preaching, remarked that if I once entered Heaven, I would take the lowest place, feeling that I owe more to God's Gracethan anybody else, but I found, when I left the pulpit, that I had several competitors who would not yield the lowest placeto me! They were, each one, ready to exclaim-
"Then loudest of the crowd I'll sing, While Heaven's resounding mansions ring With shouts of Sovereign Grace!" Blessed beGod, this is the only contention among the birds of Paradise-who owes the most, who shall love the best, who shall lie lowestand who shall extol their Lord the most zealously! Charming rivalry of humility! Let us have more of it below. I again saythere is a garment of praise that fits me. Brother, Sister, is there not one which fits you, ex-
actly suiting your state and condition? If you are an heir of Heaven, there is-there must be a garment of praise which willrest most becomingly upon your shoulders-and you should put it on at once.
Then, when shall we wear it? We should certainly appear in it on high days and holidays. On Sabbath days and communion seasonsthe hours are fragrant with grateful memories. I heard of someone who did not attend public worship because his clothes werenot fit to come in, and I replied, What can he mean? Does the Lord care for our outward dress? Let him put on the garmentof praise, and he may come and welcome! The outer vestments matter little, indeed! All garments of that sort are only proofsof our fall, and of the need to hide our nakedness for very shame. Fine dress is unbecoming in the House of God, especiallyfor those who call themselves "miserable sinners." The best adornment is humility of spirit, the robe of thanksgiving, thegarment of praise! The Lord's-Day should always be the happiest day of the week, and the communion should be a little Heavento our souls. "Call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable."
We should wear the garment of praise on the most commonplace of days. It should be the peasant's frock and the merchant'scoat, the lady's dress and the servant's gown-it is the best for wear, for comfort, for beauty and it never gets out of fashion.I once knew an old saint, a Methodist, a very quaint, original, rustic old man, who was celebrated for happiness. When hewent out to day labor early in the morning, he was always singing as he went along the road. The country people used to callit "tooting to himself." Quietly he hummed a bit of a hymn wherever he was. When he used his spade or his hoe, he worked tothe music of his heart and never murmured when in poverty, or became angry when held up to ridicule. I wish we were all asspiritually minded and as full of praise as he! Bless the Lord! Bless the Lord! When should we notbless Him? We will praiseHim when our beds refresh us-blessed is He who kept the night watches. When we put on our clothes in the morning, we willbless His name for giving us food and raiment. When we sit down to break our fast, we will bless the love which has provideda table for us. When we go forth to our work, we will bless the Lord who gives us strength to labor. If we must lie at homesorely sick, with fierce pain or slow decay, let us praise Him who heals and sanctifies all our diseases! Let us endeavorto display the sweet spirit of thankfulness from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same. Every moment may suggesta new verse of our life Psalm and cause us to magnify Him whose mercy endures forever!
Now, lastly, why should we wear the garment of praise? We should wear it as we wear other raiment, to keep us warm and comfortable,for there is no such vesture in the world as that of praise! It warms the inmost heart and sends a glow through the wholeman. You may go to Nova Zembla and not freeze in such a robe! In the worst cases and in the most sorrowful plights, be youwhere you may, you are proof against outward circumstances when your whole being is enwrapped in praise! Wear it because itwill comfort you. Wear it also because it will distinguish you from others. It will be livery to you and men will know whoseservants you are. It will be a regimental dress and show to which army you belong. It will be a court dress and manifest towhat dignity you have attained. So arrayed, you will bear the tokens of your Lord who often, in the days of His sorrow, liftedHis eyes and heart to Heaven and thanked the great Father for His goodness!
May some poor burdened soul lose its heaviness while thinking over our text, and henceforth wear this kingly robe-the garmentof praise! Amen.