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C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Until Shiloh comes; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." Genesis 49:10.
THE dying Patriarch was speaking of his own son, Judah, but while speaking of Judah, he had a special eye to our Lord, who sprang from the tribe of Judah. Everything, therefore, which he says of Judah, the type, he means with regard to our greater Judah, the Antitype, our Lord Jesus Christ. You will remember how Jacob gathered his 12 sons around his bed and, addressing them individually as representatives of the 12 tribes that bear their names, uttered different predictions, and gave to each a special blessing. After first addressing Reuben, Simeon and Levi, he proceeds to salute Judah in words full of majesty—"Judah, you are he whom your brethren shall praise." A happy expression, for the word, "Judah," signifies "praise." The name was given to him by his mother as expressing her gratitude to God at his birth.
It is now confirmed to him by his father, who discerns in it a presage of his character and his destiny. And verily this is true of Jesus. If the virgin mother hailed His advent, how much more do His grateful Brethren laud His career! Do not His Brethren recognize in Him a Leader and Commander, a Savior and a Friend? Is it not here, on earth, our sweetest employment, and will it not be in Heaven our highest delight to praise His name? The praise we bestow on men is mere flattery—the praise we receive from men is insincere. But Jesus has a peerless name and His Brethren derive from Him priceless benefits.
In Jesus are fulfilled the dreams of Joseph. The sun and the moon and the 11 stars all bow before Him! All the sheaves make obeisance unto His sheaf. Let Him be crowned with majesty who bowed His head to death is the common verdict of all the Brotherhood of the House of God. "Your hands shall be at the neck of Your enemies." As one that gets his hands upon the neck of his prey, stops its breath and destroys it—or as one who seizes his enemy by the throat and flings him down to death. How true has this been of Jesus! He has laid His hands upon the neck of His enemies. When He came to the Cross, fought foot to foot with the old Serpent, and there vanquished sin and death and Hell for us, it was a terrible battle, but it ended in a splendid victory, of which we shall never cease to sing!
Nor do we doubt but the hands of Jesus Christ are at this moment on the neck of His enemies. They may be very rebellious, and, for a time, they may seem to get the ascendancy—but He has got the upper and as surely as Truth and righteousness must flourish and prevail—as surely as Jehovah is the living God, the kingdom of Christ will yet break in pieces all the powers that resist it. "He shall break them as with a rod of iron: He shall dash them in pieces like potters' vessels." "Your father's children shall bow down before you."
To the descendants of Judah in the persons of David and Solomon the whole nation gave allegiance. But worship of a higher order, homage of deeper significance and adoration from a wider circle pertain to Him, for whom our Father in Heaven demands of all His faithful children love, honor, and obedience. "Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, you are gone up." And how does this describe the Savior—that "Lion of the tribe of Judah"—that strong and mighty Lion who entered into conflict with the lion of the Pit and overcame him! From the prey He has gone up again, up into His Glory—gone up beyond the stars, up to the right hand of the Infinite Majesty—there to sit in perpetual peaceful triumph.
"He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion." The lion may have been an emblem that befitted the son of Jesse. The lion couching might have been fitly chosen for his heraldic device, when the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies and of Saul. Yet with how much more propriety may this emblem be emblazoned on the arms of Prince Emmanuel! Did He not stoop down? Was ever such a stoop as His? Let Him be crowned with majesty who bowed His head to death! It is for this that He deserves to conquer, because He was willing to submit to shame and death, itself, for the sake of His people. How glorious is it to think that He has gone up, seeing that He once came down! Who should deserve such honors but He who laid such honors aside for a while?
"Who shall rouse Him up?" A grand question! Who shall rouse up the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Who dare do it? Who can stand against Him? He is a Lamb, gentle and tender. "A bruised reed He will not break, and the smoking flax He will not quench." But let Him be provoked—then fiercer than a lion that roars from the forest will He be upon His foes! So shall it come to pass on that tremendous day when He will ease Himself of His adversaries and shake Himself clear of all His enemies. Do you not remember these terrible words of His—"Beware, you that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there are none to deliver"? "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come."
The sovereignty remained with Judah. It continued to be the royal tribe till the prophetic epoch. When other tribes lost their peculiar position and their positive distinctiveness, Judah still remained—and it survives in the common appellation of the Hebrew people to this day. The Israelites are more commonly called Jews than by any other name. Jesus, the tribe of Judah, is the King of the Jews, even though they reject Him. Over His head upon the Cross was written the indelible Truth in letters of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." Yes, He is King of all faithful Jews and of all believing Gentiles at this hour—with a sovereignty wider than that of emperors—yes, as wide as the dwelling places of all mankind! He is "King of kings, and Lord of lords."
Of Shiloh it is the Patriarch speaks when, with the vision of a Seer, he describes the grand climax. Before the dim organs of his sight he saw all his 12 sons gathered to take leave of their dying sire. Before the beaming eyes of his faith he beheld the gathering of all their distant posterity, or perhaps of all the kindreds of the earth to greet with glad acclaim the everlasting King, of whose kingdom there shall be no end! "Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." This simply and pointedly does Jacob refer to the Lord Jesus Christ by the name of Shiloh. Of that name and of that prophecy I shall try to speak.
First, let the title, "SHILOH," and secondly the TESTIMONY, "To Him shall the gathering of the people be," engage our attention. The title, "SHILOH." What an old word it is! What an old world word! I should not wonder if it was one of Jacob's own coining. A pet name is often the product of peculiar love. Tender affection takes this kindly turn. Those whom we fondly regard, we familiarly call by some other name than chance has bequeathed or choice bestowed. Not content with the names that others understand or use, there is often a new mode of recognition between two who love each other, as much as to say, "You are to me what you are to none upon earth beside me."
Even God gives to His people new names—and I do not wonder if they give to Him new names. Well may Believers have each a favorite name for Jesus. Which name of your Lord do you love the best? If the question were passed round, perhaps some would say—and the majority might—"Jesus, the name divinely sweet." Another would say—
"Sweeter sounds than music knows Charm me in Emmanuel's name." That is the choice name. Others, it may be, might put in a claim for pre-eminence to the title of, "The Well-Beloved," which always seems to me to have a great charm about it. And if George Herbert were here, you know he would say, "How sweetly does 'My Master' sound!" "My Master!" That was the name he loved to call his Lord. Well, Jacob's name for Jesus was, "Shiloh," and it is so long ago since he called Him Shiloh that I do not wonder that we have almost forgotten the meaning of it.
He knew it had a wealth of meaning as it came from his lips and the meaning is still there. But the well is deep and those that have studied the learned languages have found this to be a word of such rare and singular occurrence that it is difficult, with any positive certainty, to define it. Not that they cannot find a meaning, but that it is possible to find so many meanings of it! Not that it is not rich enough, but that there is an embarrassment of riches! It may be interpreted in so many different ways. I will give you, one by one, some of the meanings that have been proposed. There is something to be said for each one. Though I shall not trouble you with the names of the learned authors who stand up for each particular translation, as that would be useless, I will take care to put last the one which I conceive to be the best, has the most authority, and will probably commend itself to you as the most acceptable.
Some maintain that the word," Shiloh," signifies "sent." Like that word you have in the New Testament, "He said to him, go to the pool of Siloam, which is, by interpretation, Sent.''" You observe the likeness between the words Siloam and Shiloh. They think that the words have the same meaning, in which case Shiloh, here, would mean the same as Me-
ssiah—the Sent One—and would indicate that Jesus Christ was the Messenger, the Sent One of God, and came to us, not at His own instance, and at His own will, but commissioned by the Most High—authorized and anointed to that end.
Here let us stop a minute. We rejoice to know that whatever this title means, it is quite certain that Jesus Christ was sent. It is a very precious thing to know that we have a Savior, but often it has cheered my heart to think that this dear Savior who came to save me did not come as an amateur, unauthorized from the courts of Heaven, but He came with the credentials of the Eternal Father, so that, whatever He has done, we may be sure He has done it in the name of God.
Jehovah will never repudiate that which Jesus has accomplished! God has set Him forth to be a Propitiation. He is a Mediator of God's own sending. He is our Substitute, but He is a Substitute of God's own finding. "I have laid help upon One that is mighty." So says the Oracle and who shall dispute it? "The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." It is the Lord that has done it! An ambassador who had no credentials from the court he represented would be but a dubious blessing to the people. But when as a plenipotentiary, with full authority from his sovereign, he comes with terms of peace, he might well be received without hesitation or opposition.
Sinner, have you received the Savior, Jesus? You profess to acknowledge the God who sent Him, but know that in turning from the Emissary you are spurning the Sovereign! If you deny Jesus, you defy God Himself—yes, you make God a liar because you have not believed His testimony concerning His Son. Beloved, do you welcome Jesus Christ as being sent to you personally? When you have labored under a sense of sin, burdened to the very ground with trouble of conscience, was Jesus ever sent to you to say, "Look unto Me and be you saved, all you ends of the earth"? Was He ever sent to lead you to look? Did you look unto Him and were you lightened?
Oh, then, you will forever bless His name, the name of the Most High, who sent such an One that He might lift you up out of your miseries, bring the bandaged ones out of the dungeon and set the captives free! Dwell, sweetly dwell, upon this meaning of the word Shiloh. If it means "sent," there is great sweetness in it. Others have referred it to a word, the root of which signifies the Son. Upon such a hypothesis the name would be strictly appropriate to our Lord. He is the "Son of God." He is the "Son of Man." He was the "Son of Judah." He was the "Son of David." "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." Let us linger for a while upon this—"Until Shiloh"—"Until the Son comes."
Be the annotation right or wrong, Jesus is the Son of God! He that has come to save us is Divine. No angel could bear the stupendous burden of redemption. Sooner might angels create than redeem, but they can do neither the one nor the other! They can only sing the high praises of Him who is able to do both! Who but God Himself could snatch a sinner from Hell? God has done it! He that died upon the Cross was none other than He that made the world! Trust the Divine Savior, O sinner! If you have had any doubts about the sufficiency of Jesus Christ to save, cast them all aside, for, if He is the Son of the Highest, and, "God over all, blessed forever," they that rest in Him shall never be confounded.
The Son of God is He, but He is also the Son of Man, and this is an equal joy to us. Jesus Christ is "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh," a man like ourselves. Though He is now in Heaven, think not that He is transformed into a spirit there, or that He has discarded our Nature, or disowned our flesh and blood. Oh, no! After He was risen from the dead He appeared to His disciples and ate with them—He partook of a fish and of honeycomb to show that He was not spirit, but flesh. He said, "Handle Me, and see, a spirit has not flesh and bone: as you see I have." In that very body of His He has gone up into His Glory! And today, at the right hand of God—there He sits—a man clothed in a body like our own!
Oh, Beloved! Let not terror frighten us, or misgivings keep us back from a High Priest that can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, a dear Savior who is not ashamed to call us Brethren! "This man receives sinners." Oh, Sinners! may you be willing to be received by Him! Let us bless Him as the Son—the Son of God, the Son of Man. A third meaning has been given to the word, "Shiloh," which rather paraphrases, than translates it. The passage, according to certain critics, would run something like this—"Until He comes to whom it belongs, to whom it is, for whom it is reserved." Or, as Ezekiel puts it, "Overturn, until He shall come whose right it is, and you will give it Him."
It may mean, then, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah until He shall come whose that scepter is." This meaning is supported by many learned authorities and has its intrinsic value. The scepter belongs to Christ. All scepters belong to Him. He will come, by-and-by, and verify His title to them. Have you not seen the picture that represents Nelson on board a French man-of-war receiving the swords of the various captains he has conquered—while there stands an old sailor, at his side, putting all these swords underneath his arm as they are brought up? I have often pictured to myself our great Commander, the only King by Divine right, coming back to this, our earth, and gathering up the
scepters of the kings in sheaves and putting them on one side, and collecting their crowns—for He alone shall reign King of kings and Lord of lords!
When the last and greatest of all monarchs shall come a second time, "without a sin-offering unto salvation"—oh, the glory of His triumph! He has a right to reign! If ever there was a king by nature, and by birth, it is the Son of David! If ever there was one who would be elected to the monarchy by the suffrages of all His subjects, it is Jesus. How often do we sing—
"Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all"?
And we cannot repeat it too often! Our hearts and lips ought to be always saying, "Crown Him, crown Him; crowns become the victory brow." His is the right to reign! Dear Souls, acknowledge that right. If you have never acknowledged it, acknowledge it now. "Kiss the Son, lest He is angry and you perish from the way, while His wrath is kindled but a
You that love Him and have made Him your King, oh, kiss His feet again! Let Him have your highest homage, your purest love, your perpetual service! Was never such a King as You are, O Jesus! "The chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." Let Him be crowned with majesty forever and ever! To Him the royalty belongs, for Him it is reserved. The interpretation, however, which has the most support, and which I think has the fairest claim to be accorded correct, is that which derives the word, "Shiloh," from the same root as the word, "Salem." This makes it signify peace. "Until the Peace, or the Peace-Bearer, or the Peace-Giver," or, if you like it better, "the Rest, or the Rest-Maker—shall come." Select the word you prefer—it will sufficiently represent the sense.
"Until the Peace-Bringer comes, until the Rest-Maker comes." His advent bounds the Patriarch's expectation and his desire. Oh, Beloved, what a vein of soul-charming reflection this opens! Do you know what rest means? Such "peace, peace," such perfect peace as he has whose soul is stayed because he trusts, as the Prophet Isaiah has it. Have you ever said to yourself, "There is nothing I desire—nothing that I wish for. I am satisfied—perfectly content. I am without a fear, without a dread"? "No," you say, "I never reached that status!" You may be worth millions of money without ever coming to that pass. All the gold in the world will never fill a man's heart and you may have broad acres across which a swift horse could hardly rush in a day, but you will not have enough.
All the land in the world cannot fill a heart. You may have all the beauty, rank, honor and fame that ever can come to a human being, and yet say, "Ah, me! I am still wretched." But full many who have found Jesus have been able to say, "It is enough—I need no more." Believing in Jesus and learning to yield up everything to His will. Living to His Glory and loving Him supremely, we enjoy peace with God—a "peace that passes all understanding," which—"keeps our heart and mind" by Jesus Christ. Are we adopted into the family of God?—we are sure that He never cast a child out of the family that was once received into it! Are we made members of the body of Christ? There is no fear of dismemberment—that which is perfected and compacted together cannot be mangled or torn asunder. Our good hope through Grace is not precarious. Well may we sing with the seraphic Toplady—
"Yes, I to the end shall endure, As sure as the earnest is given. More happy, but not more secure Are the glorified spirits in Heaven."
Here is rest!
Man may well take his rest when he has to, when it is all done for him. And that is their gospel. The world's way of salvation is "Do," God's way of salvation is, "It is all done for you; accept and believe." The world, that says, "Do," never does anything! While the Gospel which tells us, "It is all done," imparts such joy and peace within that we spring to our feet ready and willing to do and dare anything for Him who gave Himself up for us! While active and passive obedience spring out of the Doctrines of Grace, nothing but pride and self-righteousness can come out of the religion which prates of merit and prescribes duties to be done in order that you may be saved!
All that ever will be saved were saved on Calvary's bloody tree. Jesus said, "It is finished." Here His humiliation reached its climax. He humbled Himself even unto death. It was finished. Those for whom He died were, then and there, redeemed. The ransom price paid for them exempted them from the penalty of their transgressions, exonerated them from legal responsibilities and extinguished for them the fiery threat of Hell. He had suffered in their place and they could not
be called upon to suffer for themselves. He had offered a righteousness to God on their behalf and they were accepted because of that righteousness.
Do you say, "I wish I were one of those people"? Do you believe in Jesus? Then you are one of them! Do you trust Jesus? Then you are saved! The moment a sinner believes and trusts in His crucified Lord, he is pardoned at once—he receives salvation in full through Christ's blood. Do but rest your soul on Jesus and it is done, and peace will enter your soul—oh, such a deep and blessed peace—the like of which is not to be found out of Heaven! Jesus is the great Peace-Giver and Peacemaker—He is our Peace! God grant us to know Him and to understand this aspect of His mediatorial Character. Believe me, my Hearers, I feel in my soul, as I look round upon you, the utmost longing for you all. Oh, that you did know my Lord and the peace He gives!
It is years ago—23 years or more—since I went to Him. I could not believe it possible that He would receive me. I felt myself too great a sinner. How should there be mercy for me? But I heard a sermon from the text, "Look unto Me and be you saved all you ends of the earth!" I never understood it before, but when I came to understand that all I had to do was to look, oh, what a revelation it was to me! No feelings, no works, no doings, no purchase money demanded as a qualification! Christ on the Cross was evidently set forth crucified before my eyes! I did but look, and I was saved! Saved the moment I looked. When I turned to the Scriptures I found that was just what the Scriptures said, "He that believes in Him is not condemned." I did believe it. I did trust. I did simply rest there.
Neither shall I ever forget the rush ofjoyous feeling that went through my spirit! This was the cessation of long years of melancholy bordering on despair. This was the coming out into a clear light, which I thank God I have never lost, for, with all the troubles of this material life, I would not change places with any man that breathes! No, nor with the angels before God's Throne! The station and the privilege of angels will not bear comparison with the eternal dignities reserved for the saints. For an angel no redeemer ever died, and no angel will be able to sing, "Worthy is He that has washed me in His blood!" Oh, to be superlatively indebted to the infinite love of Jesus! To be a cleansed sinner and to be put among the children is so enchanting that it is enough to make one say, "Ah, not even an angel would I envy, nor with one of those celestial ministers would I change my happy lot."
I wish you could all sympathize in this. Would that you all had fellowship with us in this Grace wherein we stand! Many of you have, thank God. Some of you have not. What do you poor people do without a Savior? I cannot understand why you, who have so little in this life, do not look out for the promise of a better inheritance! And what do you poor rich people do without a Savior? I pity you most of all, for your lives are generally passed in a very senseless and insipid fashion. With nothing but a round of visits to pay and a few elegant trifles to attend to, like butterflies, you flit from flower to flower! A poor man's time is taken up with hard labor—but you often ask yourselves, and consult one another how best you can spend the hours and kill the time that hangs heavily on your hands.
If you cannot think upon Christ. If you cannot fall back upon the Covenant of Grace. If you cannot look up to the eternal God and say, "My Father, You are mine, and with You shall I dwell forever," I pity you, whether you are rich or poor! God grant you to have and to enjoy the fullness of the treasure that is in Jesus Christ! Then you can say—
"I would not change my blest estate With all that earth calls good or great. And while my faith can keep her hold, I envy not the sinner's gold."
Trusting, then, dear Friends, that your faith has identified the Shiloh of Jacob's vision, let us occupy the few minutes that remain us in considering the TESTIMONY which the Patriarch here bears. "Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be."
"UNTO HIM," as the Hebrew runs, "shall the gathering of the peoples be." So wide the circumference that converges in this glorious center! It comprehends all the peoples of the Gentiles as well as Jews. Of course it includes the favored nation, but it also takes in the isles afar off—yes, all of us, my Brothers and Sisters! "Unto Him shall the gathering of the peoples be." What joy this announcement should give us! Do you realize that around Jesus Christ, around His Cross, which is the great uplifted standard, the people shall gather? Just open your eyes and look! If you can see and your eyes have been touched with eye salve, you may perceive the power of attraction by which this magnificent issue is already in progress!
Over yonder in America a poor sinner is seeking eternal life! If he is seeking aright, he is being gathered to Christ. Or, look at home in your own country. Perhaps, tonight, in many thousands of places that are open for Divine worship, the like magnetic influence is at work! I only wish I could hope that there was someone in every assembly that was looking for eternal life! If it is so, they are all looking to Jesus Christ! Cast your eyes, now, to India, or France, or Prussia, or over to Australia—in whatever direction you will—every soul that is in earnest in seeking life is seeking it through Jesus Christ! I see them coming! He is the Center and they are all drawing near to Him. Every soul that is saved is drawn to Jesus—none are saved without Him.
The people gather to Him as their only hope, and all else has failed. They do not fly to Him until they have tried every other hope. Nobody ever comes to Christ until He cannot go anywhere else. The sinner comes to Him by stress of weather—driven in, sometimes, as ships are into harbors of refuge—because they cannot keep pace with it outside the bar. It is when the sinner is in difficulties that he is driven to Jesus Christ—and every soul that is really looking for eternal life in the right place is looking to Jesus and gathering to Jesus! And I see little silver threads going out from Christ, the Center, from all over the world, drawing men to Himself. I hope there is one of these threads drawing you! Oh, yield to the gentle pressure! Follow it—for it is your only hope!
Look again and you will see that all over the world those that are saved are gathering to Jesus, rallying round Him and accepting Him as their Leader, Instructor and King! The Jews said, "We have no king but Caesar." The Christians say, "We have no king but Jesus." I mean no spiritual Lord—no Teacher, no Leader except Jesus Christ, Himself. "Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." His people out of all nations shall come and take His easy yoke and wear it— and find rest unto their souls! And now, at this moment, my eyes can see myriads all over the world who are coming nearer and nearer to Jesus, with instant eager cry, saying, "Draw us, Lord, draw us nearer to Yourself! Make us more like Yourself! Help us to live more to Your Glory."
Is there one of those golden threads drawing you? Then run, if you are drawn, and seek to love your Lord and serve Him better than ever you have done, for "unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." Be assured of this—Christ is the only Center of true unity to His people. There is a society, I believe, for the promotion of the unity of Christendom. I am afraid it does not do much good, or cement much fellowship. The unity of Christendom! That will all depend upon what is the keystone of the arch you are going to build. If you expect there will be a unity of the Greek Church, the Latin Church and the Anglican Church, I can only say that were all three united, the union of Christians would be as far off as ever!
In the midst of that professed Christendom, but distinct from it, there is an inner Christendom, a secret, sacred brotherhood of real Christians that knows little about these great secular churches. The true Christendom consists of all that worship God in spirit, not having confidence in the flesh. The true Church consists of all that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are quickened by the Holy Spirit! The only unity that society could ever get would be a confederation ecclesiastical, to be dominated over by some lordly priest or other. That would certainly be no desirable thing! Christ is the Center of the Church and true unity will be found only in Him. "Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be."
Were I to give you a book to read about Jesus Christ, full of love to Him, and when you had read it, if I were to ask you who wrote it, I imagine you would not guess rightly what denomination the man belonged to. Perhaps you will say, "Well, there is a hint in it of Roman Catholicism now and then. But really, it is so good a book I cannot think a Roman Catholic could have written it." "Or," you will say, "it has a little of the Plymouth Brother here and there, and that is not a sweet flavor. But still, I hardly think they could have written it." By-and-by you will say, "I do not know at all. I am at a loss." Often, after reading books which have a savor of Christ in them, I have felt a love to the author, though I may have found out, perhaps, that he was an ecclesiastical opponent of mine.
I do not care! I love him if he loves my Master! Be he who he may or from where he comes—if he loves Jesus Christ, I love him! When we are down on our knees praying for the kingdom of Christ, or standing up to sing Messiah's praise, it is wonderful how like we are to each other! Mr. Wesley did not like Toplady, and Mr. Toplady did not like Wesley—he called him, "an old fox," and said that he would pluck him, and have him "tarred and feathered." But take up any hymn book you like and you will find, side by side, Charles Wesley's, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and Top lady's, "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me"! And which is the better hymn of the two? I am sure I do not know, they are so much alike! So were these men, after all, two blessed souls, for all their mistakes and all their misunderstandings of one another.
When you get to the Cross you get together. "Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." When you come to talk of Him and what He did—His life and death, His atoning Sacrifice, His glorious conquest of all our foes—then are you agreed! Oh, Brethren, we must, therefore, strive vigorously, and try incessantly to lift Christ up! We want to see, during this year, a great gathering of souls. We shall see it if we lift Christ up! Here is a lot of steel filings among a heap of ashes. How can I separate them? There are a great many ways of trying to do it. Bring a magnet in—put a magnet into the heap—see how it draws the steel filings away.
In this congregation there is a great number of individuals, and who among them are God's elect I do not, nor can I know. But let me preach Jesus Christ—and Jesus Christ will draw His own! "My sheep hear My voice; I know them and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life." Preach Christ! That is the magnet! He will draw His own to Himself. And, dear Friends, if we want to see more conversions this year than all past years there must be more preaching, more constant preaching of Christ! Christ must be in every sermon and He must be top and bottom, too, of all the theology that is preached—"Jesus Christ and Him crucified"—and nothing else! I am bound to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, for I do not know anything else to preach!
My simplicity is my safeguard. I have often felt to be of Paul's mind—"I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Some are wise to interpret prophecies. I am not. It is enough for me to know about the Cross! Some are able to split a hair—they can divide a hair between the north and the north-west side. I am no logician. If, knowing the terrors of the Lord, I can persuade men to fly to Christ and escape from the wrath to come, I shall fulfill my mission to my heart's delight!
Consider this, all of you Brothers in Christ called to preach the Gospel! Let each of us go back to the first principles of the Gospel and bring out, again and again, the old, old story of sinners lost and a Savior come to redeem—of guilt sinking man to Hell like a millstone—and the Savior taking all that guilt away! If you preach the blood, the precious blood of Jesus, you set forth the great soul-saving Gospel and you do honor to Him unto whom "shall the gathering of the people be." And, Brothers, by the climax of destiny that is opened up, let the conduct of our daily life be disciplined. Let us aim to gather more and more to Jesus ourselves. We cannot get too near to Him. Be it ours to strive to get closer than ever we have been! Even if a cross should be necessary to raise us, let us not be afraid of the cross, so long as it brings us nearer to Jesus!
You are happiest, healthiest, and holiest when you are nearest to Christ. To Him shall the continual "gathering of the people be." And oh, let us pray, also, that this gathering may go on both among saints and sinners—that saints may gather nearer to Jesus—and that sinners may gather savingly to Him. The text says, "To Him shall the gathering of the people be." It is a faithful saying and we believe it. Not death nor Hell can keep back the Lord's elect from coming to Christ. Come they must and shall, for the Divine decree shall be accomplished, and each one for whom Jesus specially shed His blood shall be saved infallibly, saved beyond all risk—but it is ours to pray for it. Oh, Lord Jesus, it is said, "Unto You shall the gathering of the people be." Make it so! The gathering shall be worked by Yourself!
"He shall gather the lambs in His arms." It is His to gather the strayed sheep. He gathers together the outcasts. Surely He is the great Gatherer! Well may they be gathered to Him when He, Himself, gathers them! Ask Him to gather your children. Ask Him to gather your dear beloved ones under your roof, your servants, your neighbors. Ask Him to gather them. Ask Him to gather this great city! Oh, what a city it has grown to be! Would God that Jesus had it! It would be a glorious diamond in the state jewels of Christ if He could call London His own! The biggest of cities—would God it were the holiest! Oh, that it were wholly Christ's from one end to the other!
They used to say, in Cromwell's day, that if you walked down Cheapside at a certain hour, you would have heard the voices of family prayer and praise at every house on the whole street, both morning and evening. I know it is not so in any street in London now. We have gone back since the grand old Puritan times. But we will repair to the Throne, again, by God's good Grace, and yet shall there be salt in this city, for the city shall be seasoned through and through with the power of the Gospel of Jesus! Only to your knees! To your knees! To your knees if you would have it so. You would get this fulfilled among your fellow citizens if you would get it first vouchsafed to you as a blessing of your God. Tell Him He has said, "Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." Hold Him to His word! Plead with Him that He cannot break it and we shall live to see the day, yet. "To Him shall the gathering of the people be."
Oh, my dear Hearers! as I draw these reflections to a close, one thought passes over my mind to which I must give expression. You will, all of you, either be gathered to Christ to be saved, or else you will have to be gathered, by-and-by, for another purpose. There shall ring out upon the midnight air a trumpet call that shall be loud enough to be heard east and west—south and north! It shall startle all the sleepers, and more than that, it shall arouse the dead! At its sound the sepulcher shall vomit forth its prey and they that are rocked in slumber beneath the waves of the ocean shall hear that trumpet call and rise—the whole mass of Adam's family—the myriads of all our race! Oh, what an assembly that will be!
The motley throng within these walls is but as a grain of sand compared with the seashore, to the multitudes that will then be congregated! Gather! Gather! You that have been dead these 6,000 years. Gather! Gather! You that were drowned in Noah's flood—gather! Gather! All you hosts of Egypt and you myriads of Chaldea, and of Babylon, of Persia and of Greece. Gather! You legions of Rome! You myriads of the Middle Ages! You countless millions of China and of swarthy India! And you of the world across the sea! Gather! Gather! Men of every skin and every tongue!
All must gather—and there in the midst of you all shall be the cloud sailing through the air—and on it the Great White Throne of Him whose spotless justice is mirrored in it! There you will stand—and if you have not looked at Christ on the Cross—you will have to look at the Christ upon the Throne! And if you have never trusted Him—you will then have to tremble at Him. Listen how the trumpet sounds! How that clarion rings out again and again and again! And lo, all are there!
And now He comes, whose pomp is beyond conception, and the books are opened. As they are opened, page after page, He reads the story of each man's life. And now He has come to yours. And He reads the page that chronicles this fleeting hour. On such a night, gathered with this great congregation, you were bid to believe in Jesus and bow down before the great Peace Giver. You refused and sealed your doom forever!
Shall it be so? Oh! shall it be so? God grant it may not be so! May there be another book opened, which is the Book of Life, and in that book may your name stand recorded as one who humbly trusted in the finished work of Jesus and therefore were accepted in the Beloved and found mercy on that day! The Lord grant it to every one of you. I may not ever again speak to some of you as long as I live. This, then, I say to you while your ears are open and attentive to my voice—Lay hold on eternal life! Put your trust in Jesus!
And if, Beloved, any of you to whom I am so familiar, to whom I speak so often—if you should depart from the world while I am absent, or if I should never return but find a grave in some distant land—I charge you, meet me on the other side of Jordan! I charge you, meet me at my Master's right hand! I charge you, cling to the atoning Sacrifice by faith and we will meet together where He sits and reigns—our best Beloved—the Judah, the Jesus, whom all His Brethren shall praise—the Shiloh, the Prince of Peace—for whose glorious Second Advent all His saints look, and to whom they shall be gathered in fullness of joy forever and forever. Amen and Amen!
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