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Medicine For The Distracted
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 8, 1873,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"In the multitude of my thoughts within me Your comforts delight my soul." Psalm 94:19.
GODLY people are thoughtful people. Indeed, it is often a sign of the beginning of Grace in a man when he begins to consider. Lack of thought has to do with the ruin of most of those who perish—it is not so much that they despise as that they neglect the great salvation. They have no time for thinking. They fly through life like mere butterflies and they rush upon destruction like wanton moths. Alas, that they should be so brutish! It is shameful and grievous that men whose noblest attribute is an intellect akin to angels should live like "dumb, driven cattle." Even men who call themselves religious often seek for priests or ministers to do their thinking for them. They cannot be induced to give personal heed to their eternal welfare.
Good men are, none the less, full of thought because they are men of faith—believing is not the death of thinking, it is the sanctification of it. When our Savior said, according to our version, "Take no thought," He was very far from meaning what those words would seem to imply. He meant take no carking care, no anxious thought. It was anxiety, not prudence, which He condemned. Christians are among the most thoughtful and contemplative of men. It is the foolish man who leaps before he looks and therefore often looks backward with vain regret after he has leaped. Men of Belial hate meditation, but men of God delight in it. The Gospel excites thoughts and perfumes them. It does not allow the mind to lie fallow, but sows it with heavenly seed from which spring meditations of the Truth of God, contemplations of purity and purposes of virtue.
Believing in God opens up to us the stores of Divine wisdom and then, by holy meditation, we feed on them. Faith gathers the handfuls of sacred corn from which contemplation threshes out the ears and prepares soul-sustaining bread. Gracious men take much account of their thoughts and make a conscience of them. Other men are scarcely alarmed in conscience by their actions unless they happen to commit some glaring crime. But the saint has lost his heart of stone and his heart of flesh is conscious of God's displeasure and trembles at it when an impure thought has defiled his soul. Regenerates have sensitive minds so that a word wrongly spoken grieves them sorely. And if it should never go so far as a word, but only an evil thought like an unclean bird flits through their mind, they are troubled lest they should have invited or secretly entertained so foul a lodger.
They dread the sparks of desire, for they know what flames may be kindled by them. They have a horror of sin in any shape—it is a deadly poison—and they dread the very odor of it. If they thought that they had lost their sensitiveness in any degree it would grieve them and make them pray—
"Quid as the apple of an eye, O God, my conscience make; Awake my heart when sin is near, And keep it still awake."
They judge their thoughts severely and cannot be induced to imagine that they are mere trifles. In this they are fully justified, for thought is the foundation and formation of character. "As a man thinks in his heart so is he." If you had not thought of evil you had never spoken it. If your thought had never conceived, your hand had never executed. Thoughts lie upon the anvil like rough iron and time hammers them into actions. If there were no plastic clay of evil thoughts there were no potters' vessels of evil deeds. The thought is the man, the essence of himself, the core of his humanity. The outward act is but the bone—the marrow lies in the motive intent and design—therefore he who desires to be right looks mainly at his thoughts.
And as thought makes character—and therefore good men cannot afford to trifle with it—so thought makes happiness or woe. In the present life it is certainly so. Many a man never possessed a diamond or a chain of gold, and yet he is not unhappy, because he wears the pearl of content and his thoughts of future bliss are as an ornament about his neck. Men who have their breasts made brilliant with stars and gems might well envy those whose jewels flash within their bosoms and light up the secret chambers of their souls. Thoughts have more to do with true wealth than all the miser's stores. The soul makes the estate. He is a poor man who ranks with emperors and yet is a stranger to inward peace. And he is rich who has not a foot of land to call his own, whose heritage is altogether in another world, but who nevertheless can say—
"My God, You are mine,
What a comfort Divine,
What a blessing to know
That my Jesus is mine! In the heavenly Lamb,
Thrice happy I am,
And my heart, it does leap,
At the sound of His name."
Thought does it all. If thoughts are full of faith in Jesus, confidence in the great Father, hope of Heaven and love to his follow men, the man has a young Heaven within the boundaries of his manhood! But if his thoughts are full of sadness, despondency, ambition, prim, selfishness, revenge, discontent and the like, the man is and must be unhappy—he creates his own Hell and is his own tormentor. We must, then, look well to our thoughts and keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. We must watch thought, think upon thought and pray about thought—and happy shall we be if we can say, in the language of the text—"In the multitude of my thoughts within me Your comforts delight my soul."
Now, as I may be helped to do it, I shall this morning first speak upon the Psalmist's declarations, setting it out in some of the different lights in which he intended it to be seen. And, secondly, I shall dwell for a little upon the subject in this declaration upon which he lays the greatest stress, "Your comforts delight my soul."
I. First, then, let us look at THE PSALMIST'S DECLARATION. We shall set it forth under five aspects. The first
will be this—May we not, without twisting the text, understand David to mean that when passing many subjects in review before him, he selected the joys of true religion, or the comforts of God as the subjects which he preferred beyond all others?
The poet-king sees marching before him in procession a thousand themes for thought, many of them exceedingly attractive and fascinating. And after looking at them all with the fixed eyes of contemplation, he says, ''Notwithstanding the multitude of all these subjects for thought, none of them charm me like the testimonies of my God: they afford me pleasure for awhile, but my deepest pleasure, that which delights my very soul, is found in the comforts of God." It is worthy of note that David was a man whose contemplations could take a wide range because his experience had been a singularly varied one. He knew the joys of quiet meditation, for in his early youth he had been a shepherd's boy and had kept his father's flock. There are some who fancy that if happiness is to be found on earth, it may be discovered in rural scenes—in quietude and peace—and I am inclined to think that they are not far off the mark. To the mind which is rightly attuned, there are sacred charms in solitude. Well might our poet praise God for quiet and sing—
"The calm retreat, the silent shade, With prayer and praise agree, And seem by Your kind bounty made For those that worship You."
In the quietude in which he fed his flocks, David had not been a soulless clown, but a poet, a student, a Divine. At midnight he surveyed the heavens and gave us that wonderful eighth Psalm in which he says, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have ordained; what is man, that You are mindful of him; and the son of man that You visit him?" He had considered objects upon earth as well as those in the skies. Many Psalms will show that he was a careful observer of all the works of God's hands. He loved to ramble where he startled the
hind of the morning and glanced at the eagle renewing his youth. He delighted to sit down by the brooks which ran among the hills, to watch the wild goats and the conies and listen to the birds which sang among the branches of the trees.
He noted the fir trees where the storks have their nests and the cedars of Lebanon so full of sap. He knew the joys of observing the works of God's hands and they are by no means small. If we all observed Nature more it would be well for us. An eminent physician of the insane has said that he has never met with an insane naturalist. The observation of the works of God in the animal and vegetable kingdoms is so amusing and entertaining to the mind that it affords relaxation from the severer studies and ruder cares of life. David knew something of natural history and something of astronomy. Indeed, he knew something of every natural science and, besides, he was acquainted with the charms of music and the delights of poetry, for he was, himself, a poet of transcendent genius.
I think of all purely intellectual joys, there is none greater than to be able to pour fourth sublime truths in fitting words. Surely if the new-born child gives pleasure to its mother, the new-born poem gives even more rapturous joy to its author—"this is my own thought; it has sprung from my own soul." The author feels a fuller joy in every stanza than the reader is ever likely to do, for who admires the child one-half so much as does the parent? And then to wed an immortal hymn to celestial music, as David often did, is not this delight? To sit beneath some spreading oak and there, with skillful fingers, wake the harp to ecstasy and sing, "My hands shall find You, O my God, and every string shall have its tribute to sing"—is not this pleasure?
David knew, beyond all others of his times, the united charms of the Divine arts of poetry and music. Yet in looking back, the royal Psalmist exclaims, "In the multitude of all these charming subjects, rich beyond all price, You, my God, even You, are the chief of my delights and the comforts You have revealed to me and applied, by Your Spirit, to my heart—these are the summit of my joy! In all the rest I may take a measured solace, but Your comforts fill my heart to the brim. They not only sustain and cheer me, but they delight my soul." Remember, Beloved Friends, that David not only knew the joys of retirement, but he had felt the delights of active life and they are not few to a man who is in vigorous health and mental force.
There is rapture in being able to serve one's country by noble deeds. When the cowards were flying before Goliath, it was no small joy for the stripling of Bethlehem to come to the front to do battle for his country in heroic fashion. It is no mean thing to be stirred by—
"That stern joy which warriors feel In firemen worthy of their steel."
When he came back with the grizzly head of the champion in his hand, it was no trifling joy that flushed the young warrior's bosom. He had slain the enemy of his country and now would the daughters of Israel rejoice in the dance and say—"Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands." He knew the joys of battle and of victory!
Moreover, the Psalmist knew the splendors of a court and the glory of a throne, for he was the chosen king of Israel. He was an absolute monarch of a people glad to serve him. He knew the pleasures of power and the sweets of eminence. David's history was the epitome of all human experience. It was not so much one life as all our lives condensed in one. "He seemed to be not one but all mankind's epitome." That Book of Psalms—to which of us does it not belong? Is there not a portion there for each man among us? Whereas we each have had a separate way, David appears, like his greater Lord, to have trodden all our ways and to have known the sorrows and the happiness of us all.
Yet, reviewing all his thoughts, he says, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, of all I have suffered, and all I have enjoyed; all I have gained, and all I have lost, all I have desired, and all I have attained, the delight of my soul is in my God, and in nothing else; Your comforts, O my God, delight my soul." I feel sure that we are not going away from David's words and certainly not from David's sense, if we give this meaning to the text.
Now I say to every Christian here, should not this be your assertion, that although all desirable things should pass before you in procession, yet nothing to you is like your God, nothing is comparable to His comforts? Perhaps some of you are now growing gray, having, in your time, passed through many phases of life. You were rich once, you have also been poor. You have been in company, you have been in solitude. You have been a wife. You have been a widow. You have been a child. You have been a parent. You have been a master. You have been a servant. You have been honored.
You have been slandered. You have gone through most conditions of life—and now—what is your verdict? Your answer is concerning everything else except the love of Christ, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity."
But concerning the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, you confess that it delights your souls as much as it did in your youth when you consecrated your first energies to God! The Gospel still delights us, now that we begin to miss the strength from the arm and the spring from the footstep! It still delights us now that gray hairs are on us and we are descending to the grave. it delights us, yes, and delights us in our last hours as much as it did in our first. Blessed be the name of the Lord for this!
But we cannot linger. A second sense of the text will now come before us. David also means that when he was exercised with many cares in life he found his solace in the comforts of his God. David had many reasons for care. Probably the first part of his life was the happiest, when he had only his sheep. Afterwards, when he was called to court, his evil days began. Then was he persecuted by Saul and hated without a cause. His cares were many when he roamed the wilderness with that rough warrior band around him, so eager for vengeance, so apt to censure their leader's actions. Then his thoughts must have been many and perplexed. We find passages in David's life full of bewildering trouble, like the scene at Ziklag when the city was burned with fire and all his property and the possessions of his followers was taken away, and their wives and children, too.
The rough soldiers, in the bitterness of their spirits, spoke of stoning David, and David was much distressed. His own dear ones were missing and thus he had to bear his own share in the common calamity, and the blame of all his followers besides. At that time, "David encouraged himself in his God." He does not appear to have talked to Joab and Abishai about it, but his heart went away to his God so that in the multitude of his cares his resort was to the Lord. After he assumed the throne, David's cares multiplied. The care of the Church of God, as well as of the State, was upon him. His own sins also multiplied his cares, for when he had transgressed against his God, his family became to him a constant source of distress and even to the last he had to say, "My house is not so with God."
He had cares heavier than yours or mine, because we are not kings and have neither armies at home, nor foes abroad to look after. However much we may have to think of, we can scarcely claim to be quite so burdened as David must have been. And I thank God we have not such rebellious children to deal with as David found in Amnon, Absalom and the rest. What, then, did David do when he was beset with thoughts of trouble and distress? He went always to the Lord and delighted in the comforts of his God!
Ah, Brothers and Sisters, this age is an age of care. We live too fast by half. We do too much and accomplish, therefore, too little. Our good sires could afford time for lengthened family devotions of a character which seem impossible to us. They could listen to sermons which would altogether tire us and snap the bands of our patience because their minds were of a more solid order and their lives were vexed with fewer cares. We are all hack and hurry. We ride the whirlwind—we are scarcely satisfied with the speed of lightning! Today Christian people cannot rush at this pace without serious injury to themselves unless they often refresh themselves with the comforts of God.
Sunday is the great safeguard for the sanity of merchants and business men—and those who break the Sabbath to bring business cares into the one day in seven act a suicidal part. If more often, in the other six days, Christian men would get alone with God, pour out their hearts before Him, tell Him their cares and unveil to Him their souls, they would have more ease of mind, be more strong for the struggle of life and less likely to fail through an over-worked brain. "In the multitude of my thoughts within me Your comforts delight my soul."
Londoners, in olden times, went into the fields on May Day morning to bathe their faces in the dew, for they thought it made them fair. I would that every morning we bathed our faces in the dew of Heaven, so should we be comelier to look upon when mingling with men in the business of the day. If every night before we went to sleep we dipped our foot in the ocean of Divine love, our sleep would be more sweet to us and care would not corrode and eat into the heart and even into the bodily constitution, as I fear it does in a great number of cases in this weary age. Get away to your God, O Christian! You see the rooks by day flying over the fields, searching for food—but as the sun goes down they congregate around their nests and offer their evening hymn together among the treetops. Beloved, let us fly away to our God, when the cares of the day are over, and praise and magnify His name! And then let us nestle down beneath the shadow of His wings.
A third meaning of the text is this—when oppressed with evil thoughts the Psalmist found his shelter in God. I may be speaking upon a subject which will be novel to some here, but it is one in which others of you have had too much experience. There are times when the thoughts within us are terrible and horrible. If all the thoughts of the most chaste and holy here could now be unveiled to all, a life-enduring blush would crimson every cheek. Some evil thoughts arise from our own depraved hearts and these are bad enough. Others are excited by the unholy world around us and these are equally as evil. But there are some of still darker form which are not thoughts of ours at all, but which are injected into the soul by Satan.
How horrible they are and how desperate is the conflict of a gracious soul when it is tortured with them! Satan will make you think that there is no God, no Savior, no Holy Spirit. There is not a doctrine of the Gospel which he will not tempt you to doubt! There is not a holy thing which he will not urge you to blaspheme. I know some who have been forced to put their hands to their mouths for fear they should utter the accursed thoughts which have rushed through their minds. Do you suppose that these were drunks and swearers? No, I am not speaking of such! I am speaking of the purest and most holy men and women it was ever my lot to know, who have, nevertheless, been tormented by the devil with the most hideous and horrible suggestions with regard to the things of God. If you have never felt this temptation I hope you never may, but the probabilities are you will, for there is scarcely a child in God's family that the dog of Hell has not barked at. I have known such seasons, have known them to my horror.
Now in such times, when obscene, profane and blasphemous thoughts swarm in the brain like so many flies, as though Beelzebub, the god of flies, had taken possession of the whole mind and made it swarm with every filthy thing— at such times the only consolation is to fall back upon your God. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, when they fret and wear me, like moths, or rather tear and rend me like wolves, I will fly to You, my God, to the splendor of Your love, to that Fountain filled with blood which washes even these sins away and to the mighty Spirit whose strong hands can chase these evil ones far away and give peace to my spirit. Your comforts shall lift me right away from all this tempestuous weather into the clear sky of communion wherein Your comforts shall delight my soul.
Let me give a fourth rendering, upon which I will be very brief. When the mind is worried with thoughts which cannot be dissipated, it is well to turn unto the Lord. Thoughtful men will have periods in which they do not seem so much to have a subject for thought as to be prisoners of war to 10,000 subjects at once. They are carried away as with a flood. Their thoughts leap over one another. They press and struggle like a raging mob. They surge like the billows of the sea. They overflow the brain as though some mountain torrent had burst its banks and rushed down with devastating force into the valleys beneath. There are riots of thoughts—not one is well formed—or if well formed, it jostles its neighbor and is jostled in return. The motions of the mind are at such times quick, hurried, impetuous—as though a whole lifetime of thought could be lived through in a few minutes.
Have you ever been borne away by thoughts which you long to be rid of? Have you not put your hand to your weary brain and wished it would leave off thinking? Have you not envied the country boy who swings upon a gate, scares the birds, eats bacon and is as happy as a king? Have you never wished you could turn into a flower and shut yourself up for the night as a flower does? O those nights of weary watching and longing for rest that will not come! Now there is no sleeping nectar that I know of like contemplation of the love of God! I know nothing which can give the jaded spirit rest like drawing near to God.
When God smites me with pain I love to tell Him, "O God, I would not smite a child of mine like this. If I did, if there were some necessity for it, I should pity him. My heart would yearn over him. I could not be untender to my dear boy. And I am Your child and You are a better Father than I am—why, then, do you strike me?" Lay hold of the Lord. No, Brothers and Sisters, in His relationship of Father lay hold upon His heart! Draw near to Him and wrestle with Him in this way, and pain will often give way before your pleading, and trouble of heart will fly when you thus come to close grips with the Covenant Angel and rise to really child-like, believing dealings with your Father which is in Heaven. If you know the Law of mental storms you may reach peace, and that Law may be summed up in one line—Steer to God right away. Fly to Him and you will find a peaceful shelter where—
"You shall smile at Satan's rage, And face a frowning world."
The last meaning I shall give the text is this—that if ever we are beset by a multitude of thoughts of a doubting kind, we shall find our best solace in flying to our God. Do you ever fall into this state? Do you thus speak—"No doubt there is a Savior, and a Savior for sinners, but is there a Savior for me? He can forgive sins, but will He forgive mine? He is able to renew the heart, but has He renewed mine? May I not prove, after all, to be a hypocrite? Is not my experience imaginary? Is not my faith presumption? May I not be self-deceived? Can I hope to hold out to the end? Shall I not, after all, fall by the hand of the tempter? Above all what shall I do when I come to die—will not the waves of death overflow me? Will not its chill floods swallow me up? What shall I do in the world to come if God forsakes me? Alas, may He not have forsaken me already?
"My present circumstances are grievous, may I not expect to be deserted in my future distresses, and if so, what shipwreck shall I make and what a byword will my character be? Will He not leave me to my own devices because I have, in former times, been so worldly and unholy? Alas, if He does, shall I become like others, who were at their outset flaming professors and ended in being apostates from the Lord?" Now, my Brothers and Sisters, whenever such thoughts assault your soul, remember David's declaration—"In the multitude of my thoughts within me Your comforts delight my soul." Come and anchor close by your God and the storms of unbelief will no more affect you.
Francis Quarles, in his quaint, "Emblems," represents a man with a flail who is dealing heavy blows all round. And the only one who escapes is a person who, with much daring, comes close to him. The way to escape the heavy blows of Providence is to close in with Him who wields the rod, for the further off the heavier is the blow! In all dark times run home! Return unto your rest. If you cannot come to the Lord as a saint, come as a sinner! If the past should have been altogether a delusion, yet begin again! Do not discuss with Satan the question as to whether you are a saint or not, but fly to Christ Jesus! Cease all your questions about whether or not you are saved, and say—
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Christ's kind arms I'll fall.
He'll be my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my All."
Thus will you quickly end a fray and begin a feast, for God's comforts will delight your soul.
II. We will spend a few minutes on the second point, which is this—WHAT IS THIS SUBJECT UPON WHICH DAVID LAYS SUCH STRESS? He says, "Your comforts delight my soul." What are God's comforts? They are very many—they are certainly as many as the multitudes of our thoughts. And they are very weighty—they are certainly as weighty as our thoughts can be, so that the one may be set over against the other. The comforts of God are those refreshing Truths which surround the Person and the offices of the blessed Three in One.
First there is the Father, Oh, is there no comfort in the thought that He is our Father, and not a stranger? Not a taskmaster, as some like to call Him, but our Father, and "like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him." Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Can I be His child and will He take delight in my misery? He may chasten me for my sins, but will He always chide, will He keep His anger forever? If He is, indeed, a Father and the best of fathers, my Soul why are you cast down, why are you disquieted in me? Hope in His eternal love, for He will yet comfort you and be the light of your countenance.
Then comes Jesus, Jesus the Son of God. What comforts there are in Him! A Man, of the substance of His mother, suffering just as we suffer and touched, therefore, with a feeling of our infirmities, with a heart that always beats true to us. Jesus, God as well as Man, and therefore able to succor. Is not that case well-cared for which is in His hands? Is not a soul safe when it is under His protection? Look up, you troubled heart, into the eyes of Jesus, and see if they are not as stars to chase away the midnight of your spirit! Look at the crown of thorns of Jesus and see if it does not pluck the thorns out of your spirit! Behold Him suffering for you as Son of Man and Son of God and find your richest consolation there.
Does my sin trouble me? It was laid on Jesus, why should it trouble me? Does God's wrath distress me? It has spent itself on Jesus, how can it fall on me? Where are fears about the future? Is it not written, "Because I live, you shall live also"? Can we be burdened by fears of death? Jesus Himself has died, perfumed the grave in which we shall sleep and then removed its door so that none shall be imprisoned there. Shall we be dismayed concerning the Judgment? "Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes, rather that has risen again." What room is there for distress of mind if we think upon the Person and the work of Jesus Christ?
Nor let us forget the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has already regenerated us and, in some degree, sanctified, illuminated and comforted us. And He at this time "helps our infirmities." Shall we not in all times of our distress think of Him? What if I cannot pray? He "makes intercession in the saints." What if I cannot feel? He can quicken me. What if I feel utterly dead to Divine things in my own apprehension? Cannot He make me like the chariots of Amminadib and that, too, in a single moment? Has He not coals of fire with which to kindle on the cold altar of my spirit another flame such as burned there in the day of my espousals? O blessed Spirit, You can do everything! Deal graciously with me.
Thus from the Father, Son, and Spirit we obtain fullness of comfort. But these consolations also spring from the whole work and system of Divine Grace. Old Christians, as a rule, become more and more Calvinistic because they need more comfort. And having had more experience, they have an appetite for the more solid and soul-satisfying Doctrines of Grace which they were strangers to in their youth. The idea that we are to preserve ourselves and that our salvation hinges upon our own future endeavors may be very pleasant for a summer-weather sailor—but for navigating the wintry seas we need something more cheering.
The idea that we have not an Immutable God to deal with may be put up with when the birds are singing in the sun, but it will not be tolerated when the owls are hooting in the night! A tried Believer must have an Immutable God or he will feel his case to be hopeless. At this moment my richest comforts are summed up in the verse—"Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified."
That whole system begins in Divine Grace, goes on in Grace and ends in Grace. That system makes the creature nothing and the Creator everything! That system says to self-righteousness, "Begone, for if you remain here men will boast." But that system says to Divine Grace, "Come in and dwell with guilty, worthless, helpless sinners and save them from first to last, that Christ may wear the crown"—that entire system is my consolation. In times of spiritual gloom I cling more tenaciously than ever to the old faith of my fathers, the faith which I have taught you from the beginning— that salvation is of the Lord, not of man, neither by man, but is the entire and sole work of God. I am a lost man if it is not so! If there is anything for me to do to complete the Savior's work, I shall never accomplish it! And if the Grace of God is not effectual to save the very worst of men, then where God's face is seen in splendor I shall never come. Salvation is all of Grace, rich Grace, triumphant Grace, and therefore it delights my soul.
Again, in times when many thoughts assail us, the attributes of God are, each one of them, the delight of our soul if we are enabled to see them aright, though, alas, Satan too often makes us see them in a wrong light and tempts us to extract sorrow instead of joy from them. Is God Omniscient? Then my heavenly Father knows what things I have need of before I ask Him. Is God Omnipotent? Then He is able to save to the uttermost them that come to Him. Is God Immutable? Then from His purpose He will never turn, but will certainly perform the work of Grace. There is light in every Divine attribute for the Believer.
God is Love! Oh, what a jewel that sentence is! What a mountain of light! God is Love! Child of sorrow, sing of that God and let your sorrows flee! God is Love, Infinite, Immutable, Omnipotent, Eternal Love! Love even to you—rejoice in it! It is also most comforting to remember that God is just, for He is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love. He is not unrighteous to forget His promises or break the bonds of the Covenant, frustrate His oath and discard the many solemn engagements under which He has laid Himself to His only Son. Furthermore, dear Friends, at such times the promises of God are still before us—and what a field of comforts to delight the soul one has opening up before him!
"I will never leave you nor forsake you." "Fear not, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel; I will help you, says the Lord." "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the Covenant of My peace be removed says the Lord that has mercy on you." "For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you." "I have engraved you upon the palms of My hands." "Your shoes shall be iron and brass, and as your days, so shall your strength be." "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you."
"I give unto My sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." "My Father, which gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand."
"Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My Glory which You have given Me: for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." "Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"? "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed." "He will keep the feet of His saints." "The righteous, also, shall hold on His way, and he that has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk upright."
But, oh, if I had a thousand mouths, I could not repeat and dwell upon a thousandth part of the promises as they should be dwelt upon! This Bible is a great honeycomb and it drips with honey. Come and taste its virgin sweetness, O you whose mouths are full of bitterness, and the next time the multitude of your thoughts shall make your mouth taste of gall and wormwood, come to these comforts of the Lord, for they shall delight your soul. It is worth while to taste the bitters that the sweets may be the sweeter. Thank God for winters—we should not value summers half so much without them! Blessed be God there are nights as well as days, or we might grow weary of the sun himself. Blessed be God for trouble, for depression of spirit, for adversity, for waves and billows to go over us one after another, for here in the midst of all these, His comforts delight our soul!
The gist of the whole matter is this—the way to comfort is the way where God is to be found. Christian, the way for sustenance, strength, hope and consolation is the way which leads you to your God. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength. And oh, poor Sinner, the same way is open to you! Do not look within for comfort, for you will find none. As well go to the Arctic regions and pierce icebergs to discover warmth, as look to yourselves for consolation. Away, away, away, away from your own thoughts to God's thoughts! Away from your own judging and weighing, and computations, and speculations, and expectations to the firm promises of a God that cannot lie, who has said, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out," and, "Whoever believes in Christ Jesus is not condemned."
Come and throw yourself at the foot of the Cross though you are the blackest sinner out of Hell! You who are half-damned already in your own apprehension, come where the bleeding hands are streaming priceless blood and put your confidence in the propitiation God Himself has provided for such as you are! You can never perish if you will come there, and in the multitude of your thoughts within you the comforts of Jesus shall delight your soul. God bless you, dear Friends, for Christ's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—Psalm 94.
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