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The Christian's Glorious Inventory
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 1898.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK, ON A LORD'S-DAY MORNING, IN THE YEAR 1856.
"Therefore let no maun glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come— all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.
IT appears, from this Epistle, that the Christians at Corinth were very much divided on account of certain ministers who had, at different times, preached the Word of God among them. Some of them felt a deep attachment to Paul and they said, "We are of Paul." Others preferred Cephas and they cried, "We are of Cephas," while another portion followed after Apollos and declared, "We are of Apollos." So that the Church, which ought to have been one body, was sadly torn and divided by several parties who followed different leaders. Paul wrote this first Epistle to the Corinthians in order to remove their strifes and, if possible, to bind them, again, in the bonds of love and unity—to make of them one Church, serving one Master, striving together for the faith once delivered to the saints.
Now, Beloved, the same thing that occurred in Corinth has happened in London and elsewhere many a time. It is but right that persons should feel an attachment to those who preach the Gospel to them. But when this grows to an overwhelming adoration—when it becomes almost a worship and persons are led to despise all other ministers and will hear none besides that one man whom they believe to be sent from God—then, indeed, they need a solemn reproof as did these Corinthians—and it is requisite to say to them, "Therefore, let no man glory in men. For all things are yours." To love the man by whose means we are brought to know the Truth of God, to have respect to him who speaks wondrous words, as God makes utterance by him is, indeed, nothing but natural and just. But if we at any time exalt that man above the level he ought to stand, or put him above all others, so that we despise them and say, "I am of Paul and will not hear Apollos," or, "I am of Apollos and, therefore, cannot hear Cephas"—then it becomes a sin and iniquity, a transgression against God, against His Church and against His ministers. And the Apostle's solemn reproof comes home with an emphasis—"Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come."
Paul was a wise reprover and he did not reprove too sharply. After he had said, "Let no man glory in men," mark how he reproved them—"For all things are yours." He used no hard words. We have heard of ministers who are perpetually whipping and scolding their hearers. It is an old saying of those who understood horses as well as men, "The best way is to put the whip in the manger." Feed people well and they will work well. Give them plenty of sound Doctrine and it will make them practical It is not the way to make a practical people to be always talking about practice. Feed them with the manna that comes down from Heaven—and with some of the honey out of the rock—and they will always be willing to strive for their Master and to labor for His cause.
Now, Christian, rise and walk through the length and breadth of the land, this morning, and view your possessions! Nothing will tend so much to lessen your undue reverence for men, or to check your glorying in them, as a vision of what you are, yourselves, worth! If you see your own property, your own possessions, you will not, then, be so much inclined to place too high a value upon one certain thing, though it may be, in itself, exceedingly precious.
First of all, we have before us an inventory of the Christian's possessions. "All things are yours." Secondly, we have the title deed. "You are Christ's and Christ is God's." And, thirdly, we have the conduct expected from a man who is so exceedingly rich. "Let no man glory in men."
I. First, I said, we have AN INVENTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN'S POSSESSIONS. The Apostle sets down at the top the total of the whole, and then he proceeds to mention the possessions one by one. The sum total is "all things," but as these two words are said very quickly and are very general in their meaning, he particularizes, and gives each of the things in its proper place. First he says, "all things," and then he gives us a list which includes "all things."
And, first, he says that all ministers are yours. As a Christian, all kinds of ministers are yours, "whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas." All preachers are not Pauls. All are not like Apollos and all cannot speak like Cephas. But ministers of all kinds are yours—they are not their own, they belong to the Church at large. There is Paul. He has a clear, logical mind. He preaches good doctrine and proclaims it powerfully. He is yours, go and hear him! There is Apollos who preaches with eloquence. He is not so much a logician as an orator. He cannot reason, perhaps, but he puts his thoughts into beautiful shapes and delivers them well. Go and hear Apollos! There is rough Cephas, a plain, blunt, honest, outspoken man. He never minces matters. What he says, he says out of his heart, "con amore"—his whole soul goes with every word. Do not despise him. You may like Paul, better, and Apollos may be more to your taste, but Cephas has his work to do as well—and all are yours—their talents, their station, whatever they possess—all are yours!
You sometimes speak of "my minister." Yes, you have a particular minister, but then all ministers are yours—not only that special one, but all who are called of God! Whatever may be their peculiar mode of preaching, they are yours to profit by, if, indeed, they are God's servants. There is Boanerges—he preaches in a thundering manner of the wrath to come. His sermons alarm you. He drags a harrow across your soul. He speaks as if he had just come from the top of Sinai where the thunders of God were pealing and the lightning flashing beneath his feet! He speaks like a man impressed with solemn awe, as if he had, for a while, traversed the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, and had descended into the abyss of Hell and seen the horrid pits where the wicked lie and bite their bonds. Hear him, he is yours.
Here is another, a Barnabas who speaks words of gentle comfort. You seldom hear thunder from him. His preaching is like the soft evening breeze. He is like the sun that has healing beneath its wings, gently he speaks to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. You love to hear him. He is quite as useful as Boanerges and Boanerges is as useful as Barnabas—and they are both yours. One is a loving John, sweet in his disposition. You can read love in his eyes. He has leaned his head on the bosom of Jesus and when he speaks, he says, "I beseech you, love one another." Another is like Peter. He speaks terribly of the last days wherein shall come scoffers—and of the fire which shall consume the ungodly. Both Peter and John have their special province—and they are both yours.
When God has blessed a man, when there is an unction from the Holy One resting on him, when he can trace his descent from the Apostles by being a follower of the Apostles and preaching Apostolic Doctrine in an Apostolic manner, then, indeed, you may say he is yours, for, "all are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas." "Then how little and narrow-minded I am," perhaps the Christian will say, "that I have not cared for this or that man because he was not exactly after my mode!" O dear Creatures, would you have the making of God's ministers? A sorry lot they would be if you had! God makes them as He pleases, and sends them into the world after His own fashion, each with his own work to do in his own manner—but they are all yours! There is a minister who preaches very sweetly. Well, he is yours, he is your servant, your waiting-man! He is not a lord and master over you, but your servant. "Ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." Whoever he is, if he is a true minister of God, he will profess himself to be the servant of the Church, your positive property. Make all the use you can of him, then. Try and remember all the good things he may say—whatever choice utterances, whatever golden sentences and silver words come from his lips, treasure them up—for they are all yours, whether they are the words of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas. This is the first entry in the inventory.
And, next, "the world"is ours. This great world, considered naturally, the home wherein we live, is all ours. Men have carved it out for themselves. Worldlings have said, "So much is mine, and so much is yours. Yonder fields belong to that rich man. And the houses there and that park belong to such another." They may call it theirs if they like, but the world is yours! It is yours as much as if you had a legal title to it here below. It is yours, not in imagination, or conception, but in reality. Do you ask me how it is? I tell you, the world only exists for you! If you and all your fellow Christians were gone out of it. If the righteous were departed, the world would at once be a desert. "You are the salt of the earth"—the conservers, the preservers of it—it abides for your sake! Take you away and the world would be turned into rottenness and perish! The world is but the scaffold of your soul's salvation—it is but the place where you prepare yourselves to enter into the world above. This world would have been consumed by fire long ago if it had not been for the righteous. God bids the flames tarry till He has taken all His children Home! He only keeps the world in existence for the sake of His elect! It is a debased world, the trail of the serpent is all over it. It is spoiled, its beauty is marred, it is a fair world but a false one, its glory is departed. God would utterly destroy it but that He intends His Church to be fostered in the wilderness and He will not sweep the wilderness away till He has carried His people through it. This world is yours— there is not a speck of it which is not yours! The whole of it is yours, from the East to the West, and from the North to the South. The lands of virgin snows are yours. The wide, expansive ocean is yours. Yon blue sky with all its gems of stars is yours. "All things are yours." One man says of a certain part, "That is mine!" He knows not what he says—it is yours! It is let to him for a little while. He occupies it as a tenant. He is only the man who takes care of your house for you. It is your house, though he lives in it and enjoys the comfort of it. He stretches himself on the couch, but the house is yours— and it shall be yours, by-and-by, when Jesus Christ shall come a second time, without sin unto salvation, and shall reign gloriously upon the earth with His ancients! Then shall you wear a crown and shall be made a king and a priest unto your God, and shall reign with Christ upon the earth for a thousand years!
This world is yours now. "No, but," you say, "I am poor and have but little of it." It is yours, notwithstanding, only you are not yet come of age. The son, before he is of full age, is as truly the heir of all the property as he will be when he comes into full possession of it. He has enough for his necessities, but not more, but still, he says, "It is mine. And when the day shall come that I am twenty-one, I shall have it all." So, Christian, you are at present only a child, and it would not do to give you all your property at once. You are not come of age, but when you have passed through your time of probation, you shall say, "It is mine." But did I hear you say that you have not enough of this world's necessities? Hush, be silent, or else the promise is broken, "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." I know you have enough. Or, if you have not enough at present, yet it is coming to you. God will not leave you! If He brings you ever so low in poverty, still trust Him, for His promise is engaged to supply your needs. "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Try your Lord by faith. If you have no employment, no means of providing for yourself, yet ask Him and He will give you all you need. If you have no place to lay your head, God will provide it for you. However deep your distresses may be, He will never let you perish. His honor is engaged on your behalf and He will take care of you. Poor as you are, this world is yours! Draw, then, on your Heavenly Banker—go and ask your God for what you need—and as truly as He is God, He will hear the cry of the destitute and will not despise your prayer.
And next, "life" is ours. Have you ever heard a person say, "Oh, if I might but die, and depart, and be with Jesus"? And you have heard him, sometimes, repeat the Psalmist's wish, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!" Now, if he had wings like a dove, what would he do with them? Where would he put them? "Oh," he says, "that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest." No, you would not be at rest, for if you were to fly away before your work was done, you could not rest even then! But when your work is done, then you will be at rest without needing the wings of a dove. Therefore do not make such a silly request any more, but be content to wait and tarry the Lord's time. Moreover, look not upon life as an evil thing—it is one of the good things we possess. It is a glorious life, after all, when a man knows how to enjoy it and how to improve it. What? Be ashamed to live here when you have such means of doing good and glorifying God, and such pleasant seasons of communion with Jesus, and such preparations for eternity? What? Count life nothing? It is one of the greatest blessings we possess! And to stay here till our portion of labor shall be done is a blessing—nor would we wish to have our lives shortened by a single hour, for God has predestinated the time for its end.
I think that man who does not reckon life a blessing has morbid views. With all its trials and sorrows, it is still a precious gem—it may be set in a ring of iron—but it is still a gem! Life may be hidden in the depths, like a rare pearl, but he that, by faith, can act the part of a diver, will fetch the pearl up and see its value. I think an angel in Heaven might be glad to live on earth for the good he might do. If I may be the means of saving souls from Hell. If I can wipe away the mourner's tears. If God shall help me to bind up the broken in heart and to set free the prisoner. If my fellow man, by my means, can be led in the paths of righteousness. If souls can be snatched from Hell and heirs of earth be made heirs of
Heaven by my staying here, then, O God, let me live! I think the life of Methuselah were well purchased, and that we might well tolerate even such a long delay from Heaven if we could serve God better by staying here. Do not look upon life as a curse, Christian! Count it a blessing and seek to make it so. It will be full of weeds and thistles to you if you do not plow it. But if you plow life with persevering industry and earnestness, you will make it like a garden of the Lord. You can make the wilderness blossom like Eden and the desert shall be a very Carmel for joy, so that the mountains and hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands! Yes, Paul was right when he wrote of life as a blessing, for a blessing it certainly is.
The next thing does not seem to be of any value at all—"or death." But, Beloved, what would life be worth if it were not for death? There are some books that have only plain black letters till you come to the, "Finis," which is illuminated. So it is often with life—it is printed in black letters till you come to the last leaf—but that page is lit up with glory, for that page is death! O Life, I would call you a curse if I could not see Death behind you! To live here always—who would wish it? To walk perpetually upon this earth and to dwell here absent from the Lord, and present in the body—that were, indeed, a curse! But life is a blessing because after life comes death. Yes, death, itself, is a blessing to the Christian! Usually, we look at death, not so much as what it is, as what it appears to be. Death is an angel, the fairest in creation! But Death sometimes dresses itself in terrible garments. It appears to be terrible, but it is not. Moreover, we think death to be dreadful because we do not see the whole of death. You know why Belshazzar trembled when he saw the handwriting on the wall—it was because he could see nothing but the hand—he could not see the body. That is why we are afraid of the hand of death, because we see nothing but the hand. If we could see the whole of death, we would count it a cherub! Death, indeed, is not a dreary thing to those who believe in Jesus—those who know how to commune with death from day to day will never be afraid of talking or thinking of it. It is the gate to endless joy—and do we dread to enter there? What is it? The grave is a bath where my body shall, like Esther, bathe itself in spices until its Lord shall say, "Awake!" And I shall rise from my grave, clothed in immortality and glory, to dwell with Him forever!
Death, I have often trembled at you! In midnight hours I have thought it must be terrible to die, and I have shaken at your pale apparition. O Death, your ghastly appearance has sometimes frightened me! I have tried to run away from you, but you are now my slave and I will not tremble at you any more. Death, you are mine! I write you down among my goods and chattels, a part of my property. Take heed how you try to make your master tremble—you are not my master, Death—I am yours! Come here, give me your hand, O Death! Be it mine to talk with myself every day and to talk with you, too. It does us good to see the crossbones and skull and to note in the graveyard the remnants of mortality. It is beneficial to our spirits to look down and see that, however high our powers, our heads must be laid low. However lofty our appearance, we must bend down and our body must become a carnival for worms and must be scattered like the dust of the highway to the four winds of Heaven! It is good to think of that and then to think, with all its gloom, with all that is dismal about it—death is ours!
Oh, it is pleasant to think well of death! I have heard of a good Christian who was asked if she was afraid to die. She replied, "I have dipped my foot in the river Jordan every morning before breakfast for these 40 years and I am not afraid of the current." It is good to die, at last, when we know what it is to die every day. Paul said, "I die daily." Well, if we die every day, it will not be hard to die in our last day. You will not be afraid of death if you love the Lord. If you knew death, Believer, you would not be afraid of it, but you would feel it to be a joyous thing. You are thinking of that lonely chamber where the friends stand by your side when you bid them all adieu—you are thinking of the pains and groans and strife—and the dread solemnity of that last hour. But think not of such things! Think, instead, that the Lord will come to meet you, for He will come and your soul will stretch its wings in haste and fly away to Heaven! Would you be afraid to die with Jesus? You would not be afraid if you stood where I sometimes stand, by the bedside of the dying saint. I have taken the hand of such an one and he has said to me, "Brother, this is the place to prove that the Lord is gracious. I am going to be with Jesus! My heart and strength fail me, but He is the strength of my life and my portion forever." And his eyes have flashed with the very fire of Glory! His lips have breathed sonnets, his looks spoke volumes, his heart seemed overflowing with the bliss of eternity—and his whole soul radiant with immortality! Oh, it is a cheering thing to stand by when a Christian dies, to see him stand on the precipice of life, clapping his wings before he takes his flight, not into a vast unknown, but into a sea of light and love in which he floats until he reaches the gates of Paradise! It is doubly sweet and blessed to witness such a spectacle ofjoy. Death is ours, then, so we will not fear it, for it is, indeed, a privilege to die one day!
Then, next, "thingspresent" are ours. Come, Beloved, let us see what are our "things present" today. One says, "Prosperity is one of my things present. The Lord is blessing me in this world and I have many joys, many comforts, nothing to complain of, everything to be thankful for." Well, that is yours, but take care, my Brother, that you make it yours to profit by. Alas, prosperity has something of the same effect upon the soul which the holidays of Capua had upon the Roman soldiers—it weakens the soul and takes away its power. Do not let it be so with you! It need not be so, for if, by the working of God's Spirit, you are sanctified, prosperity may be of use to you, for it is one of the things present that is yours.
"Ah," says another, "adversity is present with me. I am suffering excruciating pain in my body and my circumstances are not what I wish them to be. I am exceedingly pained and driven to and fro. I am like a poor seabird, lost in the wide ocean, tossed up and down from the base of the waves to the billows' crown." Adversity is yours. It will do you good, Brother—it will help to gird up your loins and brace your nerves and sinews—it will strengthen you for labor. God has put you in the furnace, "your dross to consume, and your gold to refine." Look on adversity as a blessing. In everything give God thanks, as much for your trials as for your joys, as much for your temptations as for your deliverances, as much for the bitters in your cup as for the sweets, for the same loving hand that put the one there, mingled the other! All "things present" are yours.
Then there is Providence. That is always present and it is yours. "All things work together for good to them that love God." Then there is justification. That is a present mercy—"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." That is yours. Then here is the Bible, that is a present thing, and it is yours. There is not a precious promise in it, from Genesis to Revelation, but it is yours—there is not a single choice sentence in it, but it is yours. All "things present" belong to you. What else is there? Why, there is adoption, for you are now children of God. That is yours. There is final perseverance, which God promises even now. He will keep His children and preserve them to the end. That is yours, and whatever you can conceive that is glorious, which is present with you now, is yours!
But now comes the climax— "things to come."These are also yours! What? Are you trembling at the "things to come"? Are you saying, "I dread the future. My poor ship has borne so many storms, I fear to go forward"? Oh, tremble not, the future is yours and, if it should be a future of storms and hurricanes, and tempests and rocks, and quicksand and shoals, it is yours, but your Captain will steer you through! Let death be in the future, with its shade and gloom, it is yours. It is one of the "things to come." Then, after death, the lying in the grave for a time is yours. The resurrection, when you shall arise from the grave, is yours. The awful trumpet blast that shall startle the world, the books that are to be opened, the blazing lightning, the terrific thunders are yours. The trembling universe, with all the dread accompaniments of judgment, is yours. The Judge, Himself, is yours—your Brother, your Friend!
And the great conflagration, the flying away of Heaven and of earth, the falling of the stars from Heaven like withered fig leaves from the tree—all these are yours, too. The rocking of creation, the tossing to and fro of matter, the earthquake, the trembling spheres, the shaking universe, the dissolving orbs—all these are yours—all that is terrible, majestic, sublime, terrific! All is yours. Let your imagination gather around it all the dread things which are to come. All these are yours. Your soul, enshrined in immortality, shall say, "It is all mine." The great dread drama which shall receive its terrible consummation after death is yours. If there is a Hell that is horrible to the wicked—as there most assuredly is—it is not for you! But if there is a Heaven, glorious and great as it is, it is for you! There is a harp in Heaven which is yours. A crown in Heaven which is yours. Think of the streets of gold, they are yours, for they are "things to come." Think of the Most High God, Himself—He is yours! And you shall feel Him to be so. O Christian! Heaven is yours! Try, Beloved, to picture Heaven to yourself. I think I hear you say, "Is this Heaven, and am I there? Have I a crown upon my head? Am I clad in white? O glorious world! I never conceived Heaven to be like this! I had pictures, I had dreams, I had imaginations, but this far outshines all that I ever conceived! O wondrous Heaven, how glorious you are! And there is my Christ!"
I know not what you will say of Him—it were almost blasphemy to try to utter words about Him—but when you are with Him, lying on His breast forever, feeling His heart palpitating against yours and knowing that the God-Man has loved you with an everlasting love, and feeling that His heart is forever yours by the sweetest tie of blessed relationship—then you will find that "things to come" are yours, for Heaven has become your actual possession! This, then, is the Christian's glorious inventory! He is rich, indeed, who owns all these things and who can take up this language— "all things are mine whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come."
II. Now, we come to THE TITLE DEEDS. They are drawn up in the name of Christ—"you are Christ's and Christ is God's."
As I am, by nature, apart from Christ, none of those things are mine—they are all against me. Death would not be mine without Christ—it would be, indeed, a terrible doom! Life is not mine without Christ—that were dangerous, indeed, to live here without Him. All I have comes to me through Jesus. Come, then, let me look at the title deeds and see if I am interested in them. They consist of two parts. First, "you are Christ's," and secondly, "Christ is God's."
"You are Christ's." Come, Christian, soliloquize thus with yourself—"My Soul, are you Christ's? Can you say that you are His in a threefold sense? Are you Christ's by the Father's donation of you to Christ? Are you Christ's by the purchase of His blood? And are you Christ's by your own consecration of yourself to Him? Am I Christ's by eternal donation because God the Father gave me to the Son? Can I look back and see my name written in life's fair book? Can I, with holy faith, look back and see the roll of destiny and read my name therein? Have I a humble, holy faith that I was given to the Lord long before the foundations of the earth were laid, or the pillars thereof were piled? Am I His? Can I say, "This Covenant, made of old, stands forever fast"? Can I say that I was given to Him? Do I rejoice in that sovereign electing love which gave me to the Savior for no reason whatever in me, but simply of His own Grace? If so, that is one proof that I am Christ's!
"But again, my Soul, can you look back and see yourself to be Christ's by the purchase of His blood?When you go to Gethsemane, do those drops of gore fall upon the ground for you? When you go to Gabbatha, can you think that ignominy and plucking of the hair was for you? And at Calvary, can you feel that all its agonies and terrors were for you?
Do you feel, dear Friends, that you are Christ's by the purchase of His blood? At a Primitive Methodist prayer meeting, a Brother was not able to pray and somebody else, further down in the meeting, according to their rather disorderly manner, called out, "Brother plead the blood, plead the blood! Then you will be able to pray!" The Brother understood well enough—he began pleading the blood of Jesus and then he could, indeed, pray! O my Soul, can you plead the blood? My hearer, can you plead the blood? My Brother, my Sister, can you say that the Sacrifice of Jesus was for you? Do you feel that He bought you and paid for you, that His Sacrifice was made for your guilt, that He died especially for your sins? Can you appropriate Jesus to yourself? If so, you can appropriate everything, since "you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
But, further, we are Christ's by consecration. Beloved, are you thus Christ's? "Do know the place, the plot of ground, where you met Jesus?" Ah, some of us can look back and tell to an inch, the spot where we first gave our hearts to Jesus! Many of the Lord's people cannot do it and it is not necessary that they should, but yet they can, each one, say, "I am my Lord's and He is mine." Do you feel, this morning, that you have given yourself to the Lord Jesus. That you are not your own, but, being bought with a price, you have willingly given yourself to Him? Have you taken Christ for your All-in-All and have you given up all to Christ? If Christ were to walk up this aisle and come to each one of you, and say, "Sinner, do you love Me?" What answer would you give Him? If He were now to step from pew to pew and look at each of you, showing you His scarred hands with the print of the nails, and asking, "Will you give yourself to Me?" What would your answer be? Do you wish to give yourselves up wholly to Christ? Have you done so? Then, "all things are yours" because you are Christ's! By consecration you have given yourselves to Him.
If you consecrate yourselves to Jesus, you will never find Him a hard Master. I have known Him some little while and He has been exceedingly kind to His unworthy servant. I have nothing in which to find fault with Him, but much with myself. He is a blessed Master. O youth, or maiden, if you would love Him, you would find Him worthy of your love in all respects! Why, I think His very name is enough to make you love Him! "My Master! How sweetly does 'my Master' sound! Yes, He is my Master and your Master if you have become His servant and have given yourselves to Him. But, if you are not Christ's, you have nothing—you are a poor miserable creature! How can you live if you are not Christ's? How will you face grim death? How will you stand before Christ when He shall sit on His Throne? Do you think that you shall be able to hear His thundering voice say, "Depart, you cursed"? Are your ribs of steel, and bones of brass? If they are, they will be broken when He speaks in His wrath! O then, Beloved, "Kiss the Son, lest He is angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."
I must only hint at the other portion. In order to link us thoroughly with God, there is something else besides our being Christ's, and that is, "Christ is God's. "With one hand Christ links Himself to men, with the other He is joined to God. And thus God and men are united. Oh, think of this! There is a link between you and the Godhead! The God that you cannot conceive of—the hem of whose garments are dark with ineffable light, too splendid for man to view—that mighty God, filling immensity, the Infinite, the All Things in One, is linked with you! Christ gives you His hand—He is your Brother, flesh and blood like yourself—and He gives God His hand, for He is the equal of the Eternal, the infinite God, very God of very God, and yet, very Man of very Man! Oh, what a glorious thought, that my deed is stamped by the Father and by the Son! It has the seal of Them both! "You are Christ's and Christ is God's." And having Christ and being Christ's, I have all things in Him. "All things are yours. For you are Christ's and Christ is God's."
Before I come to the third point, let me ask you, dear Friends, to put this question to your conscience. Are you Christ's?Oh, how many there are who attend God's House and never feel any personal application of the Truth of God! How many are there of you who sit Sunday after Sunday, and weekday after weekday hearing sermons and never getting any profit from them? O Sirs, preaching is not child's play! Some persons say, "I will go and hear Mr. So-and-So," and they go—just to amuse themselves! Do you think that a true minister will preach to amuse you? Is it his business to do so? Oh, believe me, it is solemn work to stand and speak for God and in His name! Did you ever think what it is to preach God's Word? Oh, if at the Last Great Day it shall be shown that we have not preached faithfully to you, if we have not declared the whole counsel of God, you, indeed, must perish, but your blood will be required at our hands!
And then, do you know what solemn work it is to hear? Oh, if the damned spirits in Hell could come to earth, they would let you know what solemn work it is to hear the Gospel! Think not that you can hear the Gospel without having your salvation or damnation affected—there is not a Word of the Gospel that ever enters into man's ear for which he shall not be brought to account! I beseech you, as you believe in the Bible, as you believe that there is no salvation out of Christ, to lay these things to heart! They are not trifles, they are not imaginary things, they are not that which concerns your body—they concern your eternal existence! You are rich, or else you are poor. You are Christ's or the devil's! You are on the road to Heaven or to Hell—which is it? Oh, let the question ring through your ears—which is it, Heaven or Hell? Which is it?HEAVEN OR HELL? Oh, let not that question, if it is ever so harshly spoken, be rejected by you! Answer the question to your soul and if you are honestly obliged to say, "I fear I am on the road to Hell," then remember, if you feel that—if you confess your sin, Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners—"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Not everybody, but, "sinners"—all those who will acknowledge and confess that title shall be saved by Divine Grace! If you are a sinner and you trust Him, He will most assuredly and certainly save you!
III. Now, lastly, WHAT IS THE DUTY OF A MAN WHO HAS SUCH LARGE POSSESSIONS? "Let no man glory in men. For all things are yours."
If a man has everything, he has no need to glory in some one little thing. If a man has only one gold ring, you will see him wearing it on his finger every day—and putting his hand in such a position that everybody may see it. But he who has far more, need not be particular about just one ring being seen! Does the Queen care that other people know what plate and jewels she has at Windsor? Everybody knows that she is rich, that she has an abundance and, therefore, it is not necessary that she should display a portion of it. Whenever you find a person glorying in some little thing, you may be sure he is acting contrary to what he should be. I cannot conceive how a Christian man, who has everything, can be proud because he has a little talent, or a little wealth, or position, or station! Do not be proud of that, but say, "That is one stone in my estate—it is one little pebble that lies in one of the brooks in my large domains. True, it is mine, but it is nothing to boast of." "Let no man glory in men. For all things are yours." Do not be boasting, then, about one thing when all things are yours! The little child, when it has a present, shows it to every person who comes into the house, but when the child becomes a man, he shows not everything that he has, yet he has more possessions than he had before. Thus the worldling may glory in his riches and boast of his strength, but, Christians, you are too far advanced for this—you are too wise, "for all things are yours"—and surely you will not attach undue importance to one.
Now, what does this subject say practically to you? One of you has lost a friend. You are weeping and saying, "I have lost everything." No, you have not—"for all things are yours." He may have been a precious friend, a most loving one that you have lost. It may be a deep trial, but think what you have. You have God! Your sins are forgiven! You have the righteousness of Christ! You have not lost that. It is only some pennies which are gone—your gold is safe, your jewels are not taken away. "But I have lost my jewels," you say. Have you? Ah, then, you do not know Christ, for you would not venture to call anything a jewel except the precious Lord Jesus! Is it not wrong for you to bemoan and weep so perpetually when "all things are yours"? Another one is expecting such-and-such a relative to be taken away and is weeping over an expected loss. Now you have no promise to help you, for you weep before your trouble comes! God does not promise that He will help you who manufacture your own troubles. Remember, you cannot lose the title deeds of your possessions. If you have lost your copy, you can get another, for the old deed is up in the ark in Heaven!
Now, by way of a practical hint, I might say, if "all things are yours," how willing you ought to be to give something to the cause of God! A man who is poor and has nothing is never expected to give. But a man who has "all things," should give like a prince! There are many princes in Israel who have all things in their possession and I am sure I may ask them to give something for the Lord's cause.
But I again come back to this all-important question—we must not put it away. We must give an answer to it, either now, or at God's bar—Are we Christ's?Some of you, I fear, are not Christ's. You are none of His because your conversation is carnal, your actions are worldly, your behavior is inconsistent and your lives are reproachable. Then, you are not Christ's. Some of you are not Christ's because you are trusting in your own righteousness and not leaning on the blood and righteousness of Christ alone. But we hope that there are some of you who have stripped yourselves of everything and have taken Christ for your All-in-All. If, devoid of all goodness, you make Christ your goodness—if, devoid of everything, you take Christ for all, then He is yours. Hence, you may revel in delights and let your heart leap for joy! Let your melancholy be dissipated and your tears be all dried up! You may rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of glory, for this world is yours, the world to come is yours and Heaven shall be your happy home forever!
The Lord grant that it may be so with all of you when He shall make up His jewels! Amen.
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