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A Home Mission Sermon
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, June 26th, 1859, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”—Ecclesiastes 9:10.
IF GOD had willed it we might each one of us have entered heaven at the moment of our conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he hath but believed in Christ a solitary moment. The thief upon the cross had no long time for the process of sanctification; for thus spake the Saviour. “Verily I say unto thee this day shalt thou be with. me in paradise.” It is true that in our case sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected—the being of sin shall not be cast out—till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil. But nevertheless, it is quite certain that if God had so willed it, he might have sanctified us in a moment. He might l eve changed us front. imperfection to perfection, he might have cut out the very roots of sin, and have destroyed the very being of corruption, and have taken us to heaven instanter, if so he had willed it. Notwithstanding that, we are here. and why are we here? Would God keep his children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Yet it is not absolutely necessary for them. Then, why are they here? Does God delight to tantalise his people by keeping them in a wilderness when they might be in Canaan? Will he shut them up in prison when he might give them instant liberty, unless there be some overwhelming reason for his delay in giving them the fullness of their life and bliss? Why are they here? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle field? One charge might give them the victory. Why are God’s ships still at sea? One breath of his wind might waft them to the haven. Why are his children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when hen a solitary word from his lips would bring them into the center of their hopes in heaven? The answer is; they are here that they may glorify God, and that they may bring others to know his love. We are not here in vain, dear brethren. We are here on earth like sowers scattering good seed; like ploughmen ploughing up the fallow ground. We are here as heralds, telling to sinners around
“What a dear Saviour we have found,”
and heralding the coming of our Master. We are here as the salt to preserve a world, which else would become putrid and destroyed. We are here as the very pillars of this world’s happiness: for when God shall take away his saints, the universal moral fabric “shall tumble to its fall; and great shall be the crash, when the righteous shall be removed, and the foundations shall be shaken. Taking it therefore as granted that the people of God are here to do something to bless their fellow-men, our text comes in very pertinently as the rule of our life. May God help us to practice it by giving us much of his powerful Spirit. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” This is what thou art here for. Thou art here for a certain purpose. That purpose will soon be ended, and whether it be accomplished or unaccomplished, there shall never be a second opportunity for attempting it, “for there is no work, nor device nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, wither hither thou goest.” So far as this world is concerned, the grave is the end of our doing. So far as this time and state are concerned, the grave shall be the burial of our wisdom, our knowledge, and our devices.
Now, I shall this morning, first, endeavor to explain the preacher’s exhortation; and then endeavor to enforce it by evangelical arguments.
I. First, I shall explain THE PREACHER’S EXHORTATION. I shall do so by dividing it into three parts. What shall I do?—“Whatsoever thy hand findeth.” How shall I do it?—“Do it with thy might.”—And then, why shall I do it?—“For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.
1. First, then, are there not some here who are saying, I hope I love Christ; I desire to serve him, for I have been saved by his work upon the cross; what then can I do? “The answer is—“whatsoever thy hand findeth to do.” Here we will observe, first, that this refers us to the works that are near at hand. You are not called upon to-day, the most of you, to do works which your eye sees far away in Hindostan or China. The most of you are called especially to do the work which is near at hand. People are always desiring to be doing something miles off, If they could but be somewhere else what wonders they would accomplish! Many a young man thinks if he could stand up under a banyan tree, and discourse to the black faces in India, how eloquent he might be. My dear fellow, why don’t you try the streets of London first, and see whether you are eloquent there. Many a lady imagines that if she could move in a high circle she would no doubt become another Lady Huntingdon, and do wonders. But why cannot you do wonders in the circle in which God has placed you? He does not call you to do that which is leagues away, and which is beyond your power; it is that which your hand findeth to do I am persuaded that our home duties,—the duties which come near to us in our own streets, in our own lanes and alleys,—are the duties in which we ought most of us mainly to glorify Christ. Why will you be stretching out your hands to that which you cannot reach? Do that which is near,—which is at your hand. People sometimes come to their minister and say, “What shall I do for Christ?” In nine eases out of ten it is evidence of a lazy, idle spirit, when men ask what they shall do. For if they were really in earnest,—wanting to do something they would find themselves placed in the midst of such a press of work, that the question would not be, “What can I do?” but “Which out of all these shall I do first? for here is enough to fill an angel’s hands, and occupy more than all a mortal’s time.” Very often I find men ambitious to serve God in an orbit in which they will never move. Many say, I wish I could become a preacher.” Yes, but you are not called to be a preacher it may be. Serve God in that which your hand findeth present. Serve him in your immediate situation, where you now are. Can you not distribute tracts? “Oh yes,” you say, “but I was thinking of doing something else.” Yes, but God put you there to do that. Could you not teach an infant class in the Sunday School?” I was thinking of being the superintendent of the Sunday School.” Were you, indeed? but flour hand has not found out how to get there. Do what thy hand has found: it has found an infant class to teach. Could you not endeavor to instruct your family, and teach your servants in the way of God—God helping? “Oh yes,” says one, “but I was thinking about organizing a Dorcas Society, or a Ladies’ Visiting or Tract Distributing Society.” Yes, but your hand has not found that out yet. Just do that first which is nearest to you. Begin at home. When Jerusalem was built, every man built before his own house. Do you the same? There is a vise provision by our rulers, that every man should cleanse the street in front of his own house. Why will you, who fire here in Southwark walk all the way to Islington to cleanse the street in front of somebody else’s door? Stop and attend to y our own work. and if everybody will do that which comes immediately under his own eyes, and is found out by his own hand then how much may be accomplished. Depend upon it, there is more wisdom in that than some of us dream. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it.” Do not be prowling about for work, but do it where it is when thy hand findeth it.
Again, “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do that we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart, God accepts the will for the deed. But if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them with our lips. We must get plan” that are tangible, schemes that we can really manage, ideas that we can really carry out; and so we shall fulfill the exhortation of Solomon, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it.” I will give you an illustration not many months ago in a certain magazine, which I will not mention, there was a supplement given upon China; in which supplement the churches represented by that magazine were exhorted to raise enough money to send a hundred missionaries to China. There was a vary earnest appeal made to the churches—a glorious blast of trumpets as if something very great was coming. The mountain was in labor, and labor it did. Now, I have been told that the secretary of the Chinese mission called upon the editor of the aforesaid magazine, and said, “I see you have a proposal to send a hundred missionaries to China. Will you strike the two off and find money enough to send one. It is said that they who aim at the moon will shoot higher than those who shoot at a bush. It may be correct, they may shoot higher, but I do not think they are so likely to hit their mark. Shooting high is not the thing: it is hitting what you shoot at now, if they had said, “We will do our utmost to send one missionary to China,” they might have effected it; but they were talking about a hundred and they have not succeeded, nor are they likely to do”.
The exhortation of our preacher would come home to such people. They have got it in their hearts to do it; they say when they grow big enough they mean to accomplish great things. “Who art thou. O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.” Now, instead of meddling with that great mountain, suppose you try your faith upon a fig tree first; and, then, if you moved that first, you might have confidence to move a mountain. John Bunyan was a very wise man when he thought once he would try to work miracles, Instead of ordering the sun and moon to go back several degrees, as he rode along he thought he would tell the puddles in the road to become dry. It was a miracle that would not interfere with anybody, and therefore a very proper one to begin with. But in the beginning the thought came into his mind, “Pray first;” and when he prayed he could not find any promise that he could dry up the puddles, and so he determined to leave them alone. I hope those men who come with some splendid vision in their heads would only try to do what they can and no more. When they become giants let them do a giant’s work, but as long as they are dwarfs, let them do a dwarf’s work Remember, the exhortation of the great man is, to do, not great things, but to do the things that thy hand findeth to do—present things, possible things. Do not be scheming and speculating about what you would do if your old aunt were to leave you twenty thousand pounds, or what you would do if you were to become prime minister, and so forth. Do what you can, in your workshop or shed, or with a needle in your hand; and if ever you have a scepter—which is not likely—and you use your needle well, you would be the most likely person to use your scepter well also.
There is another word of exhortation which seems to strike me as being very necessary when addressing God’s people, it is this: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do.” Suppose, now, the duty which lies against our door to be a very disagreeable one. A sad thing that any duty should be disagreeable to the man who has been saved by Christ, but so it is. There are some duties, which while we are nothing but poor flesh and blood will always be less agreeable than certain others; yet, mark you, though the duties seem to you to be degrading and disagreeable, contrary to your taste, yet the exhortation hath it, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Whether it be the visitation of the poorest of the poor or the teaching of tile most ignorant, whether the hewing of wood or the drawing of water, the very lowest work in the Lord’s house, if thy hand findeth it to do it. You will remark in many Christians, and possibly if you are wise you will remark in yourself, how we all have a preference to do those duties which we regard as being honorable, as coming strictly within the range of our own office, those which probably will be rewarded with the praise of men. But it there is any duly that shall never be heard of till the day of judgment, if there is any work that never shall be seen until the blaze of the last day shall manifest it to a blind world, then we generally slur such a duty and seek another. Oh, if ire did but understand the true majesty of humility, and how great a thing it is for a Christian to do little things, to bow himself and to stoop, we should rather envy the meanest of the flock than the greatest, and each of us try to wash the saint’s feet and perform the most menial service for the Master. Often, I think, when you and I are standing back for some humbling duty if Christ Jesus should come by that way and do it, how we should blush. Let me give you Christ’s own picture. There was a poor wounded Samaritan who was left half dead. There was a priest coming to Jerusalem. He was busy with his sermon, looking over his notes, and thinking of what he should have to say to the people when he addressed them. Well, there was a poor fellow the other side of the road, wounded. It was no business of his—he was a preacher. If he went to interfere with that poor man’s wounds, he was quite sure it would be such a ghastly sight that he would not be able to preach half so well, so he passed by. Well, then there came a Levite, a good respectable deacon in the sanctuary. “Well,” he says, “I must make haste and catch the minister, or else I shall not be in time to read the hymns.” It was no business of his to go and see after the poor man who was wounded. At last the Master himself came that way, and he, the head of the church, the prince of preachers. the great deacon, the great servant of servants, he did not disdain to bind up the broken heart, and to heal the poor man’s wounds. There is a story told in the old American war, that once upon a time George Washington, the commander-in-chief, was going around among his soldiers. They were hard at work, lifting a heavy piece of timber at some fortification There stood the corporal of the regiment calling out to his men, “Heave there, heave ahoy!” and giving them all kinds of directions. As large as possible the good corporal was. So Washington, alighting from his horse, said to him, “What is the good of your calling out to those men, why don’t you help them yourself and do part of the work.” The corporal drew himself up and said, “Perhaps you are not aware to whom you are speaking, sir; 1 am a corporal.” “I beg your pardon,” said Washington; “you are a corporal are you; I am sorry I should have insulted you.” So he took off his own coat and waistcoat and set to work to help the men build the fortification When he had done he said, “Mr. Corporal, I am sorry I insulted you, but when you have any more fortifications to get up, and your men won’t help you, send for George Washington, the commander-in-chief, and I will come and help them.” The corporal slunk away perfectly ashamed of himself. And so Christ Jesus might say to us, “Oh, you don’t like teaching the poor; it is beneath your dignity; then let your commander-in-chief do it; he can teach the poor, he can wash the feet of the saints, he can visit the sick and afflicted—he came from heaven to do this, and he will set you the example.” Surely we should each be ashamed of ourselves, and declare from this time forward whatever it is, be it great or little, if it comes to our hand, and if God will but give us help and give us grace, we will do it with all our might. I have thus explained what we are to do.
2. And, now, How are we to do it? “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” First, “do it.” That is do it promptly; not fritter away your lives in setting down what you intend to do to-morrow as being a recompense for the idleness of to-day. No man ever served God by doing things tomorrow. If we have honored Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do to-day. For after all, the ticking of the clock saith-today! to-day! to-day! We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future hath not come; we have, we never shall have, anything but the present. This is our all. let us do what our hand findeth to do. Young Christian, are you just converted? Do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. And now to bring forth fruit. This very day, if it be the first day of your conversion, bring forth fruits meet for repentance—even now. And thou who art now in middle age, say not, “I will begin to serve Christ when my hair shall be frosty with age.” No. Now do it.—do it—“do it with thy might.” Oh that God would keep us to this—that we would always do our day’s work in our day, and serve him now. I have heard of a certain divine who was a preacher at Newgate. He preached a sermon divided into two parts: the first was to the saint, the second was to the sinner. When he had finished the first part, to the saint, in the morning, he said he would preach to the sinner the next Sunday morning, and then finish his sermon. There was a poor man who was hanged on the Monday, and who therefore never heard that part of the discourse which was best adapted to his case. How often may we be found in the like light. We may be saying, “I will do him good by-and-bye.” But he may be dead then, and our opportunity will be gone, or, what is just as likely, we may be dead also; and then all our opportunities will be passed, and it will be totally out of our power to do anything. Do it! do it! do it! This is what the church of Christ wants to have proclaimed as with the sound of a trumpet in all her ranks, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it.” Put it not off one hour. Do it! Procrastinate not a day. “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Let him not steal thy time. Do it, at once. Serve thy God now; for now is all the time thou canst reckon on.
Then, the next words, “Do it with thy might.” Whatever you do for Christ, throw your whole soul into it Christ wants none to serve him with their fingers: he must have their hands their arms, their hearts, We must not give Christ a little slurred labor, which is done as a matter of course now and then; but when we do serve him, we must do it with all our bears, and soul, and strength, and might. Among the old Roman pagans, they were accustomed to slay the beasts and cut them open, in order to discover future events. If ever they cut open a bullock and could not find the heart, it was always considered by the people to be an ill omen. And depend upon it, if ye cut your works open and cannot find your hearts in them, it is an ill omen for your works—they are good for nothing, and their object shall never be accomplished. The worst part of the Christian church at this time is, that it seems as if many of our ministers and their churches had lost their hearts. Step into your churches and chapels, everything is orderly and precise. but where is the life, where is the power? I confess that I would rather address a congregation of ignorant men who are alive and enthusiastic, than a congregation of the most learned and orderly who are dead and blank, upon whose ears all the preaching in the world falls as but a dull monotony. About three weeks ago I was addressing a Methodist congregation. They leaped on their feet, now and then, and cried, “Hallelujah! Glory be to God!” My whole soul was stirred within me, and I felt that I could preach and preach again, and never grow weary while these people drink in the word with real life. I am persuaded that real good was done, and that they did not forget what was said. But, then, our people take things so orderly; they come and take their seats so quietly; until it often seems that one might preach to a set of statues or wooden blocks, with just as much hope of effect as to preach to them. We want life, we want heart. heart in the ministry, heart in the deacons, heart in all the offices of the church, and until we have this we cannot expect the Master’s blessing. You are going to teach in the Sunday school this afternoon, are you? How are you going to teach? “I am going to do as I have often done.” Stand back I If you are going to serve Christ, stand back till you have got your heart with you, and take with you all your strength, and all your might, and say as David did, “Bless the Lord, and serve the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me.” Serve the Master and spend yourself in your strength. I would rather have no sermon than a dull sermon, no teaching than sleepy teaching, no prayers than lifeless prayers. A cold religion is tasteless. Let us have a hot religion that will burn its way into the heart. this is the religion that will make its way in the world, and make itself respected, even though some pretend to despise it. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
But where is the might of a Christian? Let us not forget that. The might of a Christian is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. It will be well for us if all we attempt to do is done in God’s strength, or else it will not be done with might: it will be feebly and badly done. Whenever we attempt to serve a loaf in the winning of souls, let us first begin with prayer. Let us seek his help. Let us go on with prayer mixed with faith; and when we have concluded the work, let us commend it again to God with renewed faith and fresh prayer. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect. But what we do merely with creature-strength, with the mere influence of carnal zeal, will come to nothing at all. “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” do it with that real might which God hath promised them that ask it, with that real wisdom which he giveth liberally, which he bestows on all who seek it meekly and reverently at his feet. God help us, then to carry out this exhortation, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it v with thy might.”
3. And, now, the third part of the exhortation was, Why? We are to do it with all our might death is near. and when death comes there will be an end to all our serving God on earth, an end to our preaching, an end to our praying, an end to our doing aught for God’s glory among the perishing souls of men. If we all lived in the light of our funerals how well should we live. Some of the old Romish monks always read their Bibles with a candle stuck in a skull. The light from a death’s head may be an awful one, but it is a very profitable one. There is no way of living like that. There is an old monkish legend told of a great painter, who had begun a painting, but did not finish it; and as the legend went, he prayed that he might come back on earth that he might finish that painting. There is a picture now extant, representing him after he had come back to finish his picture. There is a solemnity about that man’s look, as he paints away with all his might, for he had but little time allowed him, and a ghastliness, as if he knew that he must soon go back again, and wanted his labor to be finished. If you were quite sure of the time of your death, if you knew you had but a week or two to live, with what haste would you go round and bid farewell to all your friends; with what haste would you begin to set all matters right on earth, supposing matters are all right for eternity. But, Christian men like other men, forget that they are mortal, and even we who profess to see into the future, and declaring that we are looking for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, even we seem to think that we shall live here for ever. It is well that God puts a thorn into our nest, or else, often his own birds of Paradise would build their nests here and never mount higher. Let us pause a moment, and think that in a short time we must die. The hour is not to be staved off. When yon winged arrow shall have ended its hasty journey, and found its target in this heart, then all is over. I may preach to you to-day and exhort you to flee from the wrath to come; but when this tongue is sealed in silence, I can no more warn you. If I have been unfaithful, and have not discharged my Master’s message and faithfully told it, I cannot come back and tell it over again. Mother, you can pray for your children, now; but when death shall have sealed your eyes in darkness, there can be no more prayers lifted up for ever. You can teach them now in God’s Word, and labor that they may be brought to know their mother’s God, but it shall be all over then. You may now, O Sunday school teacher, instruct those children. and God blessing you, you may be their spiritual father and bring them to Christ; but it shall one day be whispered in your class, “teacher is dead;” and there is the end of your labor. Your children may come to your grave, and sit down there and weep, but from the clay-cold sod no voice of warning can come up. There, your warning and your love is lost, alike unknowing and unknown. And you, the servant of Christ, with great stores of wealth, you have this day money with which God’s cause might be greatly helped; you have talent, too, which might fit you well to stand in the midst of the church and serve it. You are going the way of all flesh. Grey hairs are scattered here and there. You know that your end is approaching. When once death shall have come your ham! cannot devise liberal things; your brain cannot form new devices for the spread of your Master’s kingdom, neither can your heart, then, bend and weep over sinners perishing, or your tongue address them with earnest exhortation. Think, dear friends, that all we can do for our fellows we must do, now. For the cerement shall soon enwrap us, the hands must soon hang down, and the eyes be shut, and the tongue be still. While we live let us live. There are no two live. accorded us on earth. If we build not now, the fabric can never be built. If now we spin not, the garment will never be woven. Work while ye live, and live while ye work; and God grant to each of us that we may discharge in this life all the desires of our hearts, in magnifying God and bringing sinners to the cross.
II. How, having thus explained and opened the exhortation, I shall pray that God’s Holy Spirit may be solemnly with me while very briefly and very vehemently, I endeavor to STIR UP ALL PROFESSORS OF RELIGION HERE PRESENT TO DO WHATSOEVER THEIR HANDS FINDETH TO DO, TO DO IT NOW, AND WITH ALL THEIR MIGHT. If Christ Jesus should leave the upper world and come into the midst of this hall this morning, what answer could you give if after showing you his wounded hands and feet, and his rent side, he should put this question, “I have done all this for thee what hast thou done for me?” Let me put that question for him, and in his behalf. You have known his love some of you, forty years, some of you thirty, twenty, ten, three, one. He has done all this for you, has bled away his precious life, has died in agonies most exquisite upon the cross. What have you done for him? Turn over your diary now. Can you remember the contributions you have given out of your wealth, and what do they amount to? Add them up. Think of what you have done for him, how much of v our time you have spent in his service. Add that up, turn over another leaf, and then observe how much time you have spent in praying for the progress of his kingdom. What have you done there? Add that up. I will do so for myself, and I can say without a boast I have labored to serve God, and have been in labors more abundant; but when I come to add all up and set what I have done side by side with what I owe to Christ, it is less than nothing and vanity, I pour contempt upon it all, it is but dust of vanity. and though from this day forward I should preach every hour in the day, though I could spend myself and be spent; though night should know no rest and day should never cease from toil, and year should succeed to year till this hair was hoary and this frame exhausted, when I come to render up my account he might say, “Well done.” but I should not feel it was so, but should rather say, “I am still an unprofitable servant; I have not done that which it was even my bare duty to do much less have I done all to show the love I owe.” Now will you think what you have done dear brother and sister, and surely your account must fall short equally with mine.
But as for some of you, you have done positively nothing. You have joined the church and have been baptized, and that is about all, you have sometimes doled out a little from your abundance to the cause of Christ, but oh, how little when you think he gave his all for you! Others there are of you who out of your little have given much, out of your weakness have been strong, in your poverty you have never been poor towards Christ’s cause; ye shall not lack your reward at last but even ye will come with the rest of us and say, “Lord help us to love the poor and by thy amazing love to us constrain us to devote ourselves wholly, unreservedly to thee.”
Another argument let me give you, why you should serve Christ with all your might now. You believe, my dear hearers, that if men die unconverted their doom is fearful beyond all expression. You and I are compelled to believe from the testimony of the Spirit, that the punishment of those who die impenitent is beyond all that words can describe. They sink into a pit that is bottomless, into a fire that never can be quenched where they are fed on by a worm that dieth not. You know, and sometimes your hair has almost stood on end with the thought that the wrath to come is more than the soul can conceive. And is it possible, can it be possible with this belief in your mind that many of your fellow-creatures are going post-haste to this awful, this fearful hell, that you are idle and doing nothing? May God forgive you if such is your unfeeling state of heart—that you can contemplate a fellow-creature perishing in the fires of hell, and yet permit your band to hang down in listless idleness. O children of the living God, I beseech you by the fires of hell, by the agony that knows of no abatement by the thirst that is not to be mitigated by a drop of water, by the eternity which knows no end; I beseech you by the wrath to come, be ye up and doing, earnestly striving together to be the means in God’s hand of awakening poor souls and bringing them to the mercy of Christ. Be ye earnest. If ye do not believe this Bible, I care not what you are—earnest or dull. But if ye do believe it, act as ye believe; if ye think men are perishing, if the Lord’s right hand is dashing in pieces his enemy, then I beseech you be strengthened by the same right hand, to endeavor to bring those enemies to Christ that they may be reconciled by the blood of the cross.
And, now last of all, let, me just appeal to you in this way. Possibly, in my explanation, I have led you to form in your heart some great scheme of what you would do. Let me knock that all to pieces, because that is not my text. It is not a great scheme, but it is, “whatsoever your hand findeth to do,” that I want you to do. My dear friends, many of you are parents of children. It is quite certain, whatever else may be your duty, that your duty as parents is first. As their parents you owe them a duty; you have responsibilities towards them, and it is your duty to bring them up in the fear and nurture of God. May I earnestly beg and beseech of you, not to neglect this; for remember, you will soon be gone, and will not this be a thorn in your dying pillow, if, when your children stand around your bed to bid farewell to their dying father, or their dying mother, they shall have to say to you, “You are going from us, but we shall not miss you. We shall miss you as far as temporal things is concerned but when you are dead we shall be as well off in spiritual things as we were before, for you neglected us.” They will not say so but do you suppose they will not think so, if such be the truth? Children are always quick. and if they say it not they would feel it. Will it not be far better, if God stroll so bless you, that when you lay sick and dying, there shall be a daughter wiping the hot sweat from your brow, and saying, “Fear not, mother, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, “God is with you, and you need fear no evil?’ Will it not be a satisfaction to you, father, when you die if glancing at the foot of the bed, you can say to your son, “Farewell, my son; I bless God that I leave you in this world to carry on the work which I have begun, for you are walking in your father’s steps.” I know of no greater joy than for some aged patriarch, and I know of one,—God bless him, he is preaching the word I doubt not this morning,—to be able to look to sons and daughters converted to Christ and then to look to another generation and see grandchildren converted to Christ It must be a noble thing to die and leave behind three generations, and many of these already able to call the Redeemer blessed. O neglect not your present work I beseech you, or otherwise you shall lose the present blessing; and by neglecting this present duty which concerns your own household, you shell incur a household curse and make your death-bed uneasy, so that you shall toss there with those eyes looking on you, and silently charging you with having neglected their souls.
Sunday school teachers, I give you the same exhortation. I pray God that when you die it may not be said in your schools, “Well, we do not miss so-and-so at all; she was not a teacher we could desire, she filled up a gap, and that is all we can say.” I hope it may be said of you, my brothers and sisters, in the holy work of Sunday—school teaching, “They are gone to their grave, and there is a vacancy made which will not soon be filled.” But still your children shall gather round your coffin, and say, “God be blessed that we ever had such a teacher!” And though they are not converted, yet shall their little eyes weep w hen they think, “Teacher will never weep over us again. teacher will never pray for us any more, teacher will never tell us of Christ again;” and that very thought may be more powerful in their minds than all you ever said to them, and may, perhaps, effect the work which was not accomplished when your soul left the body.
And now I charge myself most solemnly in his conclusion, to be more earnest than ever in preaching the Word to you,—to preach it in season and out of season to preach it with all my might, for I shall soon be gone. Life lasts not long, and when we have all departed may not others have to think of us, that we went before our work was fully accomplished? Once when George Whitfleld was very sick and ill he was laid down by his friends by the fireside and he lay there as if he was dying. Presently he opened his eyes and a poor old negro woman, who had watched over him when others had given him up, spoke to him and said, “Massa George Whitfield are you still alive?” He looked and said, “Yes, I am; but I was in hopes I should have been in heaven.” Then the old woman made this pretty speech. “Ah! Massa George,” she said, “you went to the very gates of heaven, and Christ said, ‘Go back, Massa George; there are many poor negroes down on the earth that I mean to have saved. Go back and tell them I love them, and mind you do not come back any more till you bring them all with you.” So Whitfield recovered strength, and even found, as the old women said, a desire not to go home till he could take these poor negroes with him. So may it be with us; may we live till we shall bring many souls home with us to glory, and then may it be said—
“Servant of Christ well done,
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle’s fought. the victory’s won,
Enter thy rest with joy.”
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.”
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