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Shoes of Iron, and Strength Sufficient: A New Year's Promise
Intended for Reading on Lord's-day, January 6th, 1889,
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
On Thursday Evening, March 29th, 1888.
"And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be." Deuteronomy 33:24-25 .
I once heard an old minister say that he thought the blessing of Asher was peculiarly the blessing of ministers; and his eyes twinkled as he added, "At any rate, they are usually blessed with children, and it is a great blessing for them if they are acceptable to their brethren, and if they are so truly anointed that they even dip their foot in oil." Well, well, I pray that all of us who preach the gospel may enjoy this triplet of blessings in the highest sense. If our quiver is not full of children according to the flesh, yet may we have many born unto God through our ministry. May we be blessed by being made spiritual fathers to very many, who shall be brought by us to receive life, pardon, peace, and holiness, through our Lord Jesus. What is the use of our life if it be not so? To what end have we preached unless we see souls born into the family of grace? My inmost soul longs to see all my hearers born anew: this would be my greatest joy, my highest blessedness. Ask for me the blessing of Asher "Let Asher be blessed with children"; and may the Lord make my spiritual offspring to be as the sands upon the sea-shore.
It is a great blessing from the Lord when our speech is sweet to the ears of saints when we have something to bring forth which our brethren in Christ can accept, and which comes to them with a peculiar preciousness and power, so that they can receive it, and feel that it is thoroughly acceptable to them. We do not wish to be acceptable to the worldly wise, nor to the error-hunters of the day; but we are very anxious to be pleasant to the Lord's own children our brethren in Christ. They have a holy taste whereby they discern spiritual meats, and we would bring forth for food that which they will account to be nourishing and savoury. Every minister prays to be "acceptable to his brethren."
And what could we do without the third blessing, namely that of unction? "Let him dip his foot in oil." Oh, for an anointing of the Holy Spirit, not only upon the head with which we think, but upon the foot with which we move! We would have our daily walk and conversation gracious and useful. We wish that, wherever we go, we may leave behind us the print of divine grace. I was asking concerning a preacher what kind of man he was, and the simple, humble cottager, answered me, "Well, sir, he is this kind of man: if he comes to see you, you know that he has been." We must not only have oil in the lamps of our public ministry, but oil in the vessels of our private study. We need the holy oil everywhere, upon every garment, even down to our skirts. I know that there are mockers who scoff at the very mention of unction; but I pray that to myself and my brethren the promise may be fulfilled, "He shall dip his foot in oil." Such a man, anointed with fresh oil, holds an unquestioned office, enjoys an unfailing freshness, and exercises an effectual influence. Wherever he goes you see his footprints, for his foot has been dipped in oil.
Well, now, if these three blessings be good for ministers, they are equally good for all sorts of workers. You in the school, you who visit tract districts, you who manage mothers' meetings, and you who in any shape or way endeavour to make Christ known, may you have the threefold blessing! The Lord give you many spiritual children: may you be blessed with them, and never be without additions to their number! The Lord make you acceptable to those among whom you labour; and the Lord grant you always to go forth in his strength, anointed with his Spirit!
That is the first part of our text, and I am not going to say any more about it, as the second part is that to which I shall call your especial attention. May the Holy Spirit make the promise exceeding sweet to you, and grant you a full understanding of it.
"Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be."
There are two things in the text shoes and strength. We will talk about these two, hoping to possess them both.
I. "THY SHOES SHALL BE IRON AND BRASS." That is a very great promise, and I fear that I shall not be able to bring out all its meaning in one discourse.
I find that the passage has several translations; and, though I think that which we have now before us is by far the best, yet I cannot help mentioning the others, for I think they are instructive. These interpretations may serve me as divisions in opening up the meaning. I take it as a rule that the Lord's promises are true in every sense which they will fairly bear. A generous man will allow the widest interpretation of his words, and so will the infinitely gracious God.
This promise meant that Asher should have treasures under his feet that there should, in fact, be mines of iron and copper within the boundaries of the tribe. Metals enrich nations, and help their advancement in many ways. Tribes that possess minerals are thereby made rich, what ever metals those may be; but such useful metals as iron and copper would prove of the utmost service to the people of that time, if they knew how to use them. Is there any spiritual promise at all in this! Asher is made rich and iron and copper lying beneath his feet. Are saints ever made rich with treasures under their feet? Undoubtedly they are. The Word of God has mines in it. Even the surface of it is rich, and it brings forth food for us; but it is with Scripture as Job saith it is with the earth: "As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold." There are treasures upon the surface of the Word which we may pick up very readily: even the casual reader will find himself able to understand the simplicities and elements of the gospel of God; but the Word of God yields most to the digger. He that can study hard, and press into the inner meaning he is the man that shall be enriched with riches current in heavenly places. Every Bible student here will know that God has put under his feet great treasures of precious teaching, and he will by meditation sink shafts into the deep places of revelation. I wish we gave more time to our Bibles. We waste too much time upon the pretentious, poverty-stricken literature of the age; and some, even Christian people, are more taken up with works of fiction than they are with this great Book of everlasting fact. We should prosper much more in heavenly husbandry if we would "dig deep while sluggards sleep." Remember that God has given to us to have treasures under our feet; but do not so despise his gifts as to leave the mines of revelation unexplored.
You will find these treasures, not only in the Word of God, but everywhere in the providence of God, if you will consider the ways of the Lord, and believe that God is everywhere at work, He that looks for a providence will not be long without seeing one. All events are full of teaching to the man that has but grace and wit to interpret them. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord." There shall be treasures under your feet if your feet keep to the ways of truth. A rich land is the country along which believers travel to their rest: its stones are iron, and out of its bowels thou mayest dig brass. "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right."
The Revised Version has it, "Thy bars shall be iron and brass;" and certainly the original text bears that meaning. "Thy bars shall be iron and brass:" there shall be protection around him. The city gates shall be kept fast against the enemy, so as to preserve the citizens. The slaughtering foe shall not be able to intrude, because, instead of the common wooden bar, which might be sufficient in more peaceful times, there shall be given bars of metal, not easily cut in sunder or removed. Herein I see a spiritual blessing for us also. What a mercy it is, when God strengthens our gates and secures the bars thereof, so that, when the enemy comes, he is not able to enter or to molest us! Peace from all assaults, safety under all alarms, shutting in from all attacks this is a priceless boon. Happy people who have God for their protector! Blessed are they who rest in the sure promises and faithfulness of God, for they may laugh their enemies to scorn. O brethren, how safe are they whose trust is in the living God and in his covenant and promise! Personally I know what this means. I have rested as calmly in the centre of the battle as ever I have reposed in the deepest calm: with all against me I am as quiet in soul as when everyone called himself my friend. It is true "Thy bars shall be iron and brass."
Still, I like the Old Version best, and the original certainly bears it, "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass." The Revised Version puts this in the margin He shall have protection for his feet. The chief objection that has been raised to this is that it would be a very unusual thing for shoes to be made of iron and brass. Such a thing is not heard of anywhere else in Scripture, neither is it according to Oriental custom. For that reason I judge that the interpretation is the more likely to be correct, since the protection which God gives to his people is unusual. No other feet shall wear so singular a covering; but those who are made strong in the Lord shall be able to wear shoes of iron, and the Lord shall give them sandals of brass. As Og, the King of Bashan, was of the race of the giants, and "his bedstead was a bedstead of iron," so shall the Lord's champions wear shoes of iron. Theirs are no common equipments, for they are no common people. God's people are a peculiar people, and everything about them is peculiar. Even if the poetry of the passage would not bear to run upon all fours, there is no reason why it should, since it only relates to shoes. We may be quite content to take the notion of iron and brazen shoes with all its strangeness, and even let the strangeness be a commendation of it. You have peculiar difficulties, you are a peculiar people, you traverse a peculiar road, you have a peculiar God to trust in, and you may, therefore, find peculiar consolation in a peculiar promise: "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass."
With shoes of iron and of brass,
O'er burning marl thy feet shall pass,
Tread dragons down, from fear set free;
For as thy day thy strength shall be.
But what does this mean "thy shoes shall be iron and brass"? Are there not several meanings? Does it not mean that our feet, tender and unprotected by nature, shall receive protection protection from God? Our feebleness and necessity shall call upon God's grace and skill,and he will provide for us, and give to us exactly what we, by reason of our feebleness, so much need.
We want to have shoes of iron and brass, first, to travel with. We are pilgrims. We journey along a road which has not been smoothed by a steam-roller, but remains rough and rugged as the path to an Alpine summit. We push on through a wilderness where there is no way. Sometimes we traverse a dreary road, comparable too a burning sand. At other times sharp trials afflict us as if they cut our feet with flints. Our journey is a maze, a labyrinth: the Lord leads us up and down in the wilderness, and sometimes we seem further from Canaan than ever. Seldom does our march take us through gardens: often it leads us through deserts. We are always travelling, never long in one stay. Sometimes the fiery cloudy pillar rests for a little, but it is only for a little. "Forward!" is our watchword. We have no abiding city here. We pitch our tent by the wells and palms of Elim, but we strike it in the morning, when the silver bugle sounds, "Up, and away!" and so we march to Marah, or to the place of the fiery serpents. Ever onward; ever forward; ever moving! This is our lot. Be it so. Our equipment betokens it: we have appropriate shoes for this perpetual journey. We are not shod with the skins of beasts, but with metals which will endure all wear and tear. Is it not written, "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass"? However long the way, these shoes will last to the end.
Perhaps I address some friend whose way is especially rough. You seem to be more tried than anybody else. You reckon yourself to be more familiar with sorrow than anyone you know: affliction has marked you for its own. I pray you take home this promise to yourself by faith: the Lord saith to thee, "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass." This special route of yours, which is beset with so many difficulties your God has prepared you for it. You are shod as none but the Lord's chosen are shod. If your way is singular, so are your shoes. You shall be able to traverse this thorny road to journey along it with profit to yourself,and with glory to God. For your travelling days you are well fitted, for your shoes are iron and brass.
"If the sorrows of thy case
Seem peculiar still to thee,
God has promised needful grace,
'As thy days, thy strength shall be.'"
Shoes of iron remind us of military array they are meant to fight with. Brethren, we are soldiers as well as pilgrims. These shoes are meant for trampling upon enemies. All sorts of deadly things lie in our way, and it is by the help of these shoes that the promise is made good. "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." Are we not often too much like the young man Jether, who was bidden by his father to slay Zebah and Zalmunna, but he was afraid. We tremble to put our foot upon the neck of the enemy; we fancy that if we should attempt it, we should be guilty of presumption. Let us have done with this false humility, for thus we dishonour the Lord's promise: "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass." Better far to say, "Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us." Thus we may say without fear, for assuredly "The Lord shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly."
"O my soul, thou has trodden down strength," said the holy woman of old, when the adversaries of Israel had been routed. Thus can our exultant spirits also take up the chant. I also can say, "O my soul, thou has trodden down strength." Yes, believer, with thy foot thou has crushed thy foe, even as thy Lord, who came on purpose that he might break with his foot, even with his bruised heel, the head of our serpent adversary. Be not afraid, therefore, in the day of conflict, to push onward against the foe. Do not be afraid to seize the victory which Christ has already secured for thee. "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass" thou shalt trample down thy foe, and march unharmed to victory.
What a blessing it is when we get self under our feet! We shall have good use for iron shoes if we keep him there. What a mercy it is when you get a sinful habit under your feet! You will need have shoes of brass to keep it there. What a mercy it is when some temptation that you have long struggled with at last falls to the ground, and you can set your foot upon it! You need to have both of your shoes strengthened with iron, and hardened with brass, that you may bruise this spiritual enemy, and crush out its life. Feet shod with sound metal of integrity and firmness will be none too strong in this evil world, where so many, like serpents, are ready to bite at our heels. Only so shod shall we win the victory.
See, the Lord promises that we shall have shoes suitable alike for travelling and for trampling upon enemies!
Next, we have fit shoes for climbing. One interpreter thinks that the sole of the shoe was to be studded with iron or copper nails. Certainly, those who climb would not like to go with the smooth soles which suit us in our parlours and drawing-rooms. There are many instances where a rough tip of iron, or a strong nail in the heel of the shoe, has checked the slipping mountaineer when gliding over a shelving rock,and there he has stayed on the very brink of death. Our spiritual life is an upward climb, with constant danger of a fall. It is a great mercy to have shoes of iron and brass in our spiritual climbings, that should our feet be almost gone, we may find foothold before we are utterly cast down. We ought to climb: the higher our spiritual life the better. It is written of the believer, "He shall dwell on high." We ought not to be satisfied till we reach the highest places of knowledge, experience, and practice. High doctrine is glorious doctrine, high experience is blessed experience, high holiness is heavenly living. Many souls always keep in the plains: the simple elements are enough for them; and, thank God, they are enough for salvation and for comfort. But if you want the richest delight and the highest degree of grace, climb the hills and roam among the mysteries of God, the sublimer revelations of his divine will. Especially climb into the doctrines of grace: be not afraid of electing love, of special redemption, of the covenant, and all that is contained in it. Be not afraid to climb high, for if thy feet be dipped in the oil of grace, they shall also be so shod that they shall not slip. Trust in God, and you shall be as Mount Zion, which can never be removed. Your shoes shall be iron and brass, for lofty thought and clear knowledge, if you commit your mind to the instruction of the Lord. Receiving nothing except as you find it in the Word, but in a childlike spirit receiving everything that you find there, you shall stand upon your high places. Your feet shall be like hinds' feet, and your place of abode shall be above the mists and clouds of earth's wretched atmosphere of doubt.
Rise, also, to the highest graces and the noblest virtues. As is the food we feed on, such should our actions be. Let us love, for God is love, and as dear children we must be imitators of him in all gentleness, tenderness, and forgiveness. Climb to the heights of self-denial, the summits of consecration. Be as near heaven as is possible for those who dwell on earth. Have you not the shoes to climb with? Wherefore tarry down below?
I will not press this longer upon you, for I hope that your hearts aspire to climb up where your Lord reveals himself in clearer light; but, lest you should be at all afraid of the climbing as the aged man is afraid of that which is high, I would arouse you to a holy bravery, since God has not given you shoes of iron and brass merely to trip over the plains. He means you to climb; your equipments prove it. Will you be as the children of Ephraim, who, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle? Will you be shod with iron, and melt like wax under a little heat of opposition?
Once more. These shoes are for travelling, for trampling, for climbing; they are also made of iron and brass for perseverance. You would not need such shoes for a little bit of a run for a trip up the street and back again. Since the Lord has shod you in this fashion, it is a warning to you that the way is long and weary, and the end is not by-and-by. The Lord has furnished you with shoes that will not wear out. "Old shoes and clouted" were good enough for Gibeonites, but they are not fit for Israelites. The Lord does not mean that you should be arrayed as beggars, or become lame through worn-out shoes. The sacred canticle, in one of its verses, saith, "How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter!" The princes of the heavenly household shall be shod according to their rank and this shall be the case at the end of their journey as surely as at the beginning. Whether Israel traversed sand or rock, the camp never halted because the people had become lame; for the Lord had said "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass." It is a good pair of shoes that lasts a man for forty years; yet there are some of us who can testify that God's grace has furnished us with spiritual shoes of that kind. I can speak of nearly that length of time since I knew the Lord, and I bear my unhesitating witness that I have found the grace of God all-sufficient, and his promises most sure and steadfast.
If we are allowed to live till we touch the borders of a century, or if we even fulfill our hundred years, these shoes would never be too old. These are the sort of shoes that Enoch wore; and was it not for more than three hundred years that he walked with God? He was always walking, but his shoes of iron and brass were never worn out. It matters not, dear friend, how severe may be your trials and troubles, or how long may be your pilgrimage through this wilderness, God, who gives these extraordinary shoes, such as no other has ever fashioned, and such as men are not accustomed to wear, has in this provided you against the utmost of endurance, the extremity of suffering. "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass" does not this symbol signify the best, the strongest, the most lasting, and the most fitting provision for a pilgrimage of trial? Thy shoes shall last as long as thou shalt last. Thou shalt find them as good as new when thou art about to lie down on thy last bed, to be gathered to thy fathers. "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass."
I may be addressing some here that are very low in spirit: they fear that they shall not hold on their way, they are ready to halt, yea, ready to lie down in despair. I trust the way will hold you on when you can hardly hold on your way. May you hear the ring of your iron sandals, and be ashamed of cowardice. They should be iron men to whom God has given iron shoes. I would encourage you to go forward in the way, for you are, by God's grace, made fit for travelling. You are not bare-footed, nor badly shod. You ought to go forward bravely, after your heavenly Father has put such shoes as these upon your feet. You are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and you may trip lightly on your way; and again I say, though that way should be a very long one, you need not think that your provision for the way will fail you. Even to hoar hairs the Lord will be with you. He has made, and he will bear; even he will carry you. Your last days shall be better than your first days. Yea, you shall go from strength to strength through his abounding and faithful love.
I find great difficulty in speaking tonight, because of some failure of my voice; but the divine promise is so sweet that even when poorly uttered it has a music all its own. For fear my voice should quite fail me, I will hasten on to say a few words upon the second point. We have examined the shoes, now let us consider the strength.
II. "AS THY DAYS,SO SHALL THY STRENGTH BE."
This provision is meant to meet weakness. The words carry a tacit hint to us that we have no strength of our own, but have need of strength from above. Our proud hearts need such a hint; for often we poor creatures begin to rely upon ourselves. Although we are weak as water, we get the notion that our own wit, or our own experience, may now suffice us, though once they might not have done so. But our best powers will not suffice us now, any more than in our youth. If we begin to rest in ourselves it will not be long before we find out our folly. The Lord will not let his people depend upon themselves: they may make the attempt, but, as sure as they are his people, he will empty them from vessel to vessel, and make them know that their fullness dwells in Christ, and not in themselves. Remember that, if you have a sense of weakness, you have only a sense of the truth. You are as weak as you think you are; you certainly do not exaggerate your own helplessness. The Saviour has said "Without me, ye can do nothing"; and that is the full extent of what you can do. The Lord promises you strength, which he would have no need to promise you if you had it naturally apart from him. But he promises to give it, and therein he assures you that you need it. Come down from your self-esteem: stoop from the notion of your own natural ability: divest yourself of the foolish idea that you can do anything in and of yourself, and come down to the strong for strength, and ask your Lord to fulfill this promise in your experience, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be."
The strength which is here promised is to abide through days. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Not for today only, but for tomorrow, and for every day as every day shall come. The longest and the shortest day, the brightest and the darkest day, the wedding and the funeral day, shall each have its strength measured out, till there shall be no more days. The Lord will portion out to his saints their support even as their days follow each other.
"Days of trial, days of grief,
In succession thou may'st see;
This is still thy sweet relief,
'As thy day, thy strength shall be.'"
This strength is to be given daily We shall never have two days' grace at a time.
"Day by day the manna fell:
Oh, to learn this lesson well,
'Day by day' the promise reads:
Daily strength for daily needs!"
If I get strength enough to get through this sermon, I shall be satisfied for the present. I do not want strength to get through next Sabbath morning's sermon till that Sabbath morning comes. If I can weather the present storm, I shall not just now require the strength to outlive the storms of all the year 1889. What should I do with this reserve force if I had it? Where would you store away your extra grace? You would put it in the lumber-room of your pride, where it would breed worms, and become an offence. A storage of what you call "grace" would turn into self-sufficiency. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be": this secures you a day's burden and a day's help, a day's sorrow and a day's comfort. After all, what more do we want? If a man has a meal, let him give thanks for it: he does not want two meals at once. If a man has enough for the day, he certainly is not yet in want for tomorrow. He cannot eat tomorrow's food today; or, if he did, it would injure his health, and be no comfort to him. Let us narrow our vision as to the necessities of daily life, not looking so far ahead as to compress into today more evil than naturally belongs to it; for "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Our strength is to be given to us daily.
And then the text seems to say clearly that it will be given to us proportionately, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." A day of little service, little strength; a day of little suffering, little strength; but in a tremendous day a day that needs thee to play the Samson thou shalt have Samson's strength. A day of deep waters in which thou shalt need to swim, shall be a day in which thou shalt ride the billows like a sea- bird. Do you not think that this might almost tempt us to wish for days of great trial, in order that we might receive great grace? If we are always to go smoothly, and to receive but little grace in consequence, we shall never rise to the great things of the divine life. We shall be dwarfs, and none shall say, "There were giants in those days." We may not wish to be always children, with boyish tasks and childish duties; it is right we should grow, and that in consequence we should shoulder burdens from which youthful backs are exempt. Who would wish to be always a little child? Great grace will be sent to us to meet our great necessities. And is not that a most desirable thing? I remember that for a long season the Lord was very gracious to me in the matter of funds for the extensive works which I have been called upon to originate and superintend,and I felt very grateful for the ease which I enjoyed; yet it crossed my mind that I was learning less of God than in more trying seasons, and I trembled. Years gone by there were considerable necessities which did not appear to be met at once, and I went with them to God in prayer, and I trusted him, and he supplied my needs in such a wonderful way that I seemed to have the closest intercourse with him. I could most plainly see his hand stretched out to help me. I could see him working for me as gloriously as if he wrought miracles. These were glorious days with me! I cannot tell you what holy wonder often filled my soul when the Lord interposed on behalf of the Orphanage or the College. The record reads so charmingly that unbelievers would never accept it as true. Then God made me by grace like one who steps from the summit of one mountain to another: I stepped across the valleys, leaving the deep places far below. So in my easy seasons I thought to myself, "Everything comes in regularly and abundantly. I am like a little child walking along a smooth lawn. This is but a common, ordinary state of affairs, in which even a man of no faith could pursue his way. I do not see so much of God, though assuredly I ought to see him as clearly now as ever." I did not wish for necessities, but I remembered how the Lord glorified himself in them, and therefore I half desired them. The regular blessing day by day, almost without need of special prayer, does not constrain you to look to God so vividly as when you gaze down into the deep, dark abyss of want, and feel, "If he does not help me now, I shall soon be in dire distress." This forces forth the living prayer."Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses." Our great necessities bring God so very near to us,so manifest to our consciousness, that they are an unspeakable blessing. So I did not ask to have a time of need; I hope that I shall never be so foolish as that; but when I found a time of need hurrying up, as I soon did, I felt a special delight in it I took pleasure in my necessities. My heart cried,"Now I shall see my Lord; now I shall see him again. Now I shall get a hold of that great arm, and hang upon it, and I shall see how the Lord will deliver me in time of need." I did thus lay hold upon my Lord again, and I found him still God All- sufficient, for which I bless his name. In proportion as he sends the trial he sends the help. Be not, therefore, afraid of great trial: on the contrary, look for it, and when it comes, say to yourselves, "Now for great grace. Now for a special manifestation of the faithfulness of God."
Mark, again, that strength will be given to us in all forms. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Our days vary, our trials change; our service varies, too. Our lives are far from being monotonous: they are musical with many notes and tones. Our present state is like chequered work: or, say, as a mosaic of many colours. But the strength that God gives varies with the occasion. He can bestow physical strength, and mental strength, and moral strength, and spiritual strength. He gives strength just where the strength is needed, and of that peculiar kind which the trial demands. We have no need to fear because we feel weak in a certain direction: if we need strength in that special quarter, the strength will come there. "But if I am tried," says one, "in a certain way, I shall fail." No, you will not. "As your days, so shall your strength be." "I am horrified," says one, "at the thought of having to pass through the ordeal of a surgical operation." Do not be horrified at it; for though at the present moment you may be quite unfit for the trial, you will be quite ready for it when it comes. Have you never been in great danger and found yourself cool and calm beyond anything you could have expected? It has been so with me, and I have learned from my experience, not to measure what I shall be, in a trying hour, by what I happen to be just now. The Lord will take care to fit us for our future, and, as our days, so shall our strength be.
I find that some persons read this passage thus when our days grow many, and we come to the end, yet our strength shall be equal to what it was in the days of our youth. We shall, according to this, find our strength continuing as our days continue. It is a cheering meaning, certainly. The children of God do find that, spiritually, their strength is renewed day by day. The outer man decayeth, that is nature: but the inward man is renewed day by day, that is grace. As thy days are, so shall thy strength continue to be. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fail: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." Though days come one after another, so shall strength come with them; there shall be such a continuity of perpetual renewal that the heart shall be strong even to the end of life, and the old man shall know no inward decay.
An hour or so ago, I stood by what will certainly be the death-bed of one of our best friends, and I was cheered and comforted when I heard him so blessedly speaking both of the present with its pain, and of the future with its near descent into the vale of death. He said, "I have no doubt as to my eternal bliss. I have had no doubt no, not a shadow of doubt of my interest in Christ through my long illness. In fact, I have felt a perfect rest of mind about it all. And," he added, "this is nothing more than ought to be, with us who listen to the glorious gospel, for we live on good spiritual meat. Sound doctrine should make us strong in the Lord. I have not been a hearer of yours for thirty years, and heard of covenant love and faithfulness, to die with a trembling hope. I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him." Thus, dear friends, shall we also be supported, for the brother of whom I speak is a simple-minded man, who makes no pretensions to learning, but is one of our own selves. It will be a great privilege to find that when death's days come the days of sickness, and decline, and weakness, yet still our strength remains the same. It will be glorious to go from strength to strength, and even in the day of utter physical prostration to find the spirit leaping for joy, in anticipation of the time when it shall be free from the cumbering clay, and shall stretch its wings and fly aloft to yonder world of joy. Yes, as our days our strength shall be.
Come, child of God, be peaceful, be happy in the prospect of the future. Do more, be joyous, and show your joy. You are out of harm's reach, for Christ has you in his hand. You shall never be staggered nor overcome, for the Lord is your strength and your song, and he has become your salvation. This text is a royal banquet for you. Here are fat things full of marrow. Eat abundantly, O beloved. Feel your spirit renewed by the Holy Spirit. Be prepared for whatever is yet to come; for such a word as this, not from me, but from the Lord himself, may gird up your loins for another march towards Canaan; "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy days, so shall thy strength be."
I am sorry, very sorry, for those among you who have no portion and lot in such a promise as this. Whatever you may have in this world, you are very poor in losing such a promise as this. You are shoeless, or if you have some wooden sabot, it will soon be worn out. You will never be able to travel to heaven in any shoes that mortal men can make for you. You need to go to the great Father, who alone can say, "Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet." I am sorry for you in your present condition, for you have no strength but your own, and that is a poor piece of weakness. You are troubled even now: what will you do in the swellings of Jordan? The common footmen of daily life have wearied you: what will you do when you have to contend with horses? O souls, what will you do when you are ushered into the presence of the dread mysteries of another world? O sirs, you are without strength; but is not that a grand verse, "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly"? Ungodly as you are, clutch at such a word as that. "Without strength" as you are, yet lay hold upon the Lord's strength. It is for those who have no strength that Christ came into the world. It is for the ungodly that he laid down his life. Come, and trust him. Let him become your strength and your righteousness from this time forth; and my he manifest himself to you in a special and gracious way; and unto his name shall be praise, for ever and ever. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON Psalms 37:0 .
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK" 686, 89 (Part II), 46 (vers. 1.)
LETTER FROM MR. SPURGEON
BELOVED READERS, To you, one and all, may the New Year be fruitful of blessings. I wish you the text of this sermon as a benediction, so far as it is applicable to you. Specially may your feet be shod with the iron and brass which are promised you, and this will be better than the glass slippers of fortune, or the silver sandals of wealth. For myself, I beg your kind remembrance when you have the ear of "the King." I need restored strength, for I am well, but weak; and for another year of service I need that the right hand of the Lord may be laid upon me, and that he should say to me, "Be strong: fear not." He that has supplied might to our feebleness for so many years will not fail us now. Week by week the loaf will be set before you in this sermon, and we shall together bless the Lord of the feast.
With all the good wishes of the season, in sincerity and truth,
I am, your weekly visitor,
C. H. SPURGEON.
Mentone, Jan 1st, 1889.
"As Thy Days, So Shall Thy Strength Be"
August 22, 1858 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"As thy days, so shall thy strength be;" Deuteronomy 33:25 .
Beloved, it seems a sad thing that every day must die and be followed by a night. When we have seen the hills clad with verdure to their summit, and the seas laving their base with a silver glory; when we have stretched our eye faraway, and have seen the widening prospect full of loveliness and beauty we have felt sad that the sunlight should ever set upon such a scene, and that so much beauty should be shrouded in the oblivion of darkness. But how much reason have we to bless God for nights! for if it were not for nights how much of beauty never would be discovered. Never should I have considered the heavens the work of thy fingers, O my God, if thou hadst not first covered the sun with a thick mantle of darkness: the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, had never been bright in mine eyes, if thou hadst not hidden the light of the sun and bidden him retire within the curtains of the west. Night seems to be the great friend of the stars: they must be all unseen by eyes of men, were they not set in the foil of darkness. It is even so with winter. We might feel sad, that all the flowers of summer must die, and all the fruits of autumn must be gathered into their store-house, that every tree must be stripped. and that all the fields must lose their fair flowers. But were it not for winter we should never see the glistening crystals of the snow; we should never behold the beauteous festoons of the icicles that hang from the eaves. Much of God's marvellous miracles of hoar frost must have been hidden from us, if it had not been for the cold chill of winter, which, when it robs us of one beauty, gives us another, when it takes away the emerald of verdure, it gives us the diamond of ice when it casts from us the bright rubies of the flowers, it gives us the fair white ermine of snow. Well now, translate those two ideas, and you will see why it is that even our sin, our lost and ruined estate, has been made the means, in the hand of God, of manifesting to us the excellencies of his character. My dear friends, if you and I had been without trouble, we never could have had such a promise as this given to us: "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." It is our weakness that has made room for God to give us such a promise as this. Our sins make room for a Saviour; our frailties make room for the Holy Spirit to correct them; all our wanderings make room for the good Shepherd, that he may seek us and bring us back. We do not love nights, but we do love stars; we do not love weakness, but we do bless God for the promise that is to sustain us in our weakness, we do not admire winter, but we do admire the glittering snow; we must shudder at our own trembling weakness, but we still do bless God that we are weak because it makes room for the display of his own invincible strength in fulfilling such a promise as this. In addressing you this morning, I shall first have to notice the self-weakness which is implied in our text; secondly, I shall come to the great promise of the text; and then I shall try and draw one or two inferences from it, ere I conclude. I. First, the SELF-WEAKNESS HINTED AT IN THE TEXT. To keep to my figure, if this promise be like a star, you know there is no seeing the stars in the daytime when we stand here upon the upper land; we must go down a deep well, and then we shall be able to discover them. Now, beloved, as this is day-time with our hearts, it will be necessary for us to go down the deep well of old recollections of our past trials and troubles. We must first get a good fair idea of the great depth of our own weakness, before we shall be able to behold the brightness of this rich and exceeding precious promise. A self-sufficient man can no more understand this promise, than a coal heaver can understand Greek: he has never been in a position in which to understand it; he has never learned his own need of another's strength, and therefore he cannot possibly understand the value of a promise which consists in giving to us a strength beyond our own. Let us for a few minutes consider our own weakness. Ye children of God, have ye not proved your own weakness in the day of duty? The Lord has spoken to you, and he has said, "Son of man, run, and do such and such a thing which I bid thee;" and you have gone to do it, but as you have been upon your way, a sense of great responsibility has bowed you down, and you have been ready to turn back even at the outset, and to cry, "Send by whomsoever thou wilt send, but not by me." Reinforced by strength, you have gone to the duty, but while performing it, you have at times felt your hands hanging exceeding heavy, and you have had to look up many a time and cry, "O Lord, give me more strength, for without thy strength this work must be unaccomplished, I cannot perform it myself." And when the work has been done, and you have looked back upon it you have either been filled with amazement that it should have been done at all by so poor and weak a worm as yourself, or else you have been overcome with horror because you have been afraid the work was marred, like the vessel on the potter's wheel, by reason of your own want of skilfulness. I confess in my own position, I have a thousand causes to confess my own weakness every day. In preparing for the pulpit how often do we discover our weakness when a hundred texts exhibit themselves, and we know not which to choose, and when we have selected our subject, distracting thoughts come in, and when we would concentrate our minds upon some holy topic, we find they are carried hither and thither, driven about like the minds of children by every wind of thought. And when we bow our knees to seek the Lord's help before we preach how often does our tongue refuse to give utterance to the earnestness of our hearts. And alas! how frequently too is our heart cold when we are about to enter upon an occupation which requires the heart to be hot like a furnace, and the lip to be burning like a live coal. Here in this pulpit I have often learned my weakness, when words have fled from me, and thoughts have departed too; and when that seal which I thought would have poured itself forth like a cataract, has trickled forth in unwilling drops like a sullen stream, the source of which doth almost fail, and which seemeth itself as if it longed to be dried up and dead. And after preaching, how have I cast myself upon my bed, and tossed to and fro, groaning because I thought I had failed to deliver my message, and had not preached my Master's Word as my Master would have me preach it. All of you, in your own callings I dare say, have had enough to prove that. I do not believe a Christian man can examine himself without finding every day that weakness is proven even in the doing of his duty. Your shop, however small, will be enough to prove to you your weakness, your business, however little, your cares, however light, your family, how ever small, will furnish you with enough proofs of the fact: "Without me ye can do nothing;" "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." But, beloved, we prove our weakness, perhaps more visibly, when we come into the day of suffering. There it is that we are weak indeed. I have sat by the side of those who have been exceedingly sick, and have marked their patience; but I do not know that I ever wondered at the patience of a sick man so much as I do when I am sick myself: then patience is an extraordinary virtue. Women suffer, and suffer well; but I do think there are very few men who could bear the tithe of the suffering that many women endure, without exhibiting a hundred times as much impatience. Most of us who are gifted with strong constitutions, and have but little of sickness, have to chasten ourselves, that what little sickness we have to contend with is borne with so little resignation and with so much impatience; that we are so ready to repine, so prepared to bow our heads and wish we were dead, because a little pain is rending our body. Here it is that we prove our weakness indeed. Ah! people of God, it is one thing to talk about the furnace; it is another thing to be in it. It is one thing to look at the doctor's knife, but quite another thing to feel it. You will find it one thing to sip the cup of medicine, but quite another thing to lie in bed a dreary week or month, and to drink on, and on, and on of that nauseating draught. When you are on dry land most of you are good sailors; out at sea you are vastly different. There is many a man who makes a wonderfully brave soldier till he gets into the battle, and then he wishes himself miles away, and except his spurs there is no weapon he can use with much advantage. That man has never been sick who does not know his weakness, his want of patience and of endurance. Again, beloved, there is another thing which will very soon prove our weakness, if neither duty nor suffering will do it namely, progress. You sit down to-morrow and you read the life of some eminent servant of God: perhaps the life of David Brainard, and how he gave up his life for his Master in the wilderness, or the heroic life of Henry Martin, and how he sacrificed all for Christ: and as you read you say within yourself, "I will endeavor to be like this man; I will seek to have his faith, his self denial, his love to never-dying souls" Try and get them, beloved, and you will soon find your own weakness. I have sometimes thought I would try to have more faith but I have found it very hard to keep as much as I had. I have thought, "I will love my Saviour more," and it was right that I should strive to do so; but when I sought to love him more I found that perhaps I was going backward instead of forward. How often do we find out our weakness when God answers our prayers!
"I ask'd the Lord that I might grow In faith, and love, and every grace; Might more of his salvation know And seek more earnestly his face.
I hop'd that in some favor'd hour At once he'd answer my request, And by his love's constraining power, Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this he made me feel The hidden evils of my heart, And let the angry power of hell Assault my soul in every part.
'Lord why is this?' I trembling cried 'Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?' ''Tis in this way,' the Lord replied; 'I answer prayer for grace and faith.'"
That is, the Lord helps us to grow downward when we are only thinking about growing upward. Let any of you try to grow in grace, and seek to run the heavenly race, and make a little progress, and you will soon find, in such a slippery road as that which we have to travel, that it is very hard to go one step forward, though remarkably easy to go a great many steps backward. If neither of these three things will prove thy weakness, Christian, I will advise thee to try another. See what thou art in temptation. I have seen a tree in the forest that seemed to stand fast like a rock, I have stood beneath its widespreading branches, and have sought to shake its trunk, to see if I could, but it stood immovable. The sun shone upon it, and the rain descended, and many a winter's frost sprinkled its boughs with snow, but it still stood fast and firm. But one night there came a howling wind which swept through the forest, and the tree that seemed to stand so fast lay stretched along the ground, its gaunt arms which once were lifted up to heaven lying hopelessly broken, and the trunk snapped in twain. And so have I seen many a professor strong and mighty, and nothing seemed to move him; but I have seen the wind of persecution and temptation come against him, and I have heard him creak with murmuring, and at last have seen him break in apostasy and he has lain along the ground a mournful specimen of what every man must become who maketh not the Lord his strength, and who relieth not upon the Most High. "Ah!" says one, "I do not believe I could be tempted to sin." My friend, it depends upon what kind of temptation it should be. There are many of us who could not be tempted to drunkenness, and others who could not he tempted to lust. If the devil should set before some of you cups of the richest wines that ever came from the vintages of Burgundy or of Xeres, you would not care for them, if you did but sip them it would suffice you; it would be in vain to tempt you with the drunkard's song; nothing could induce you to lose your equilibrium by intoxicating liquors; but perhaps you are the very man whom a temptation of lust might overthrow. While there be other men whom neither lust nor wine can overcome, who may be led by a prospect of profit into that which is dishonest; and others again, whom neither profit, nor lust, nor wine, would turn aside, may be overthrown by anger, or envy, or malice. We have all our tender points. When Thetis dipped Achilles in the Styx, you remember she held him by the heel; he was made invulnerable wherever the water touched him, but his heel not being covered with the water, was vulnerable, and there Paris shot his arrow, and he died. It is even so with us. We may think that we are covered with virtue till we are totally invulnerable, but we have a heel somewhere; there is a place where the arrow of the devil can make way: hence the absolute necessity of taking to ourselves "the whole armor of God," so that there may not be a solitary joint in the harness that shall be unprotected against the arrows of the devil. Satan is very crafty; he knows the ins and outs of manhood. There is many an old castle that has stood against every attack, but at last some traitor from within has gone without, and said "I know an old deserted passage, a subterranean back way, that has not been used for many a-day. In such and such a field you will see an opening; clear away a heap of stones there, and I will lead you down the passage: you will then come to an old door, of which I have the key and I can let you in; and so by a back way I can lead you into the very heart of the citadel, which you may then easily capture." It is so with Satan. Man knoweth not himself so well as Satan knows him. There are back ways and subterranean passages into man's heart which the devil doth well understand. and he who thinketh that he is safe, let him take heed lest he fall. That is not a bad hymn of Dr. Watts, after all, where he tells us that Samson was very strong while he wore his hair, but
"Samson, when his hair was lost, Met the Philistines to his cost: Shook his vain limbs with vast surprise, Made feeble fight, and lost his eyes."
The reason was, because there was a back way into Samson's heart. The Philistines could not overcome him: "Heaps upon heaps, with the jaw-bone of an ass, have I slain a thousand men." Come on, Philistines, he will rend you in pieces as he did the young lion; bind him with green withes, and he will snap them as tow; weave his locks with a weaver's beam, and he will carry away loom and all, and go out like a giant refreshed with new wine. But, O Delilah, he hath a back way to his heart; thou hast found it out, and now thou canst overthrow him. Tremble, for ye may yet be overcome! Ye are as weak as water if God shall leave you alone. Now, I think, if we have well surveyed these different points of our moral standing on earth, every child of God will be ready to confess that he is weak. I imagine there may be some of you ready to say, "Sir, I am nothing." Then I shall reply, "Ah! you are a young Christian." There will be others of you who will say, "Sir, I am less than nothing." And I shall say, "Ah! you are an old Christian;" for the older Christians get, the less they become in their own esteem, the more they feel their own weakness, and the more entirely they rely upon the strength of God. II. Having thus dwelt upon the first point, we shall now come to the second THE GREAT PROMISE, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." In the first place, this is a well-guaranteed promise. A promise is nothing unless I have good security that it shall be fulfilled. It is in vain for men to promise largely unless their fulfillment shall be as large as their promise, for the largeness of their promise is just the largeness of deception. But here every word of God is true. God has issued no more notes for the bank of heaven than he can cash in an hour if he wills. There is enough bullion in the vaults of Omnipotence to pay off every bill that ever shall be drawn by the faith of man or the promises of God. Now look at this one "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Beloved, God has a strong reserve with which to pay off this promise; for is he not himself omnipotent, able to do all things? Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Until thine enemy can stop the course of a whirlwind with a reed, till he can twist the hurricane from its path by a word of his puny lip, thou needest not think that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the strength which is in thee, namely, the strength of God. Whilst the earth's huge pillars stand, thou hast enough to make thy faith firm. The same God who guides the stars in their courses, who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and keeps the stars perpetually burning with their fires the same God has promised to supply thy strength. While he is able to do all these things, think not that he shall be unable to fulfill his own promise. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spoke and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Do you not see him in the black eternity? When there was nothing but grim darkness, there he stood the mighty Artificer: upon the anvil there he cast a hot mass of flame, and hammering it with his own ponderous arm, each spark that flew from it made a world; there those sparks are glittering now, the offspring of the anvil of the eternal purposes, and the hymned of his own majestic might. And shall he, that created the world, grow weary? Shall he fail? Shall he break his promises for want of strength? He hangeth the world upon nothing; he fixed the pillars of heaven in silver sockets of light and thereon he hung the golden lamps, the sun and the moon, and shall he that did all this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power in his arm or strength in his will? Remember again, thy God, who has promised to be thy strength, is the God who upholdeth all things by the power of his hand. Who feedeth the ravens? Who supplies the lions? Doth not he do it? And how? He openeth his hand and supplieth the want of every living thing. He has to do nothing more than simply to open his hand. Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he say that he rides upon the wings of the wind, that he maketh the clouds his chariots, and holds the water in the hollow of his hand? Shall he fail thee? When he has put such a promise as this on record, shalt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has out-promised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfill? Ah! no. Who was it that cut Rahab in pieces, and wounded the dragon? Who divided the Red Sea, and made the waters thereof stand upright as a heap? Who led the people through the wilderness? Who was it that did oust Pharoah into the depths of the sea, his chosen captains also, in the depth of the Red Sea? Who rained fire and brimstone out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah? Who chased out the Canaanite with the hornet, and made a way of escape for his people Israel? Who was it that brought them again from their captivity and did settle them again in their own land? Who is he that hath put down kings, yea and slew mighty kings, that he might make room for his people wherein they might dwell in a quiet habitation? Hath not the Lord done it: and is his arm shortened that he cannot save: or is his ear heavy that he cannot hear? O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the unlimitable storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied or rifled by the enemy. It is, then, a well guaranteed promise. But now I want you to notice it is a limited promise. "What!" says one, "limited" Why it says, 'As thy days, so shall thy strength be.' " Ay, it is limited. I know it is unlimited in our troubles, but still it is limited. First, it says our strength is to be as our days are; it does not say our strength is to be as our desires are. Oh! how often have we thought, "How I wish I were as strong as so and so" one who had a great deal of faith. Ah! but then you would have rather more faith than you wanted, and what would be the good of that? It would be like the manna the children of Israel had if they did not eat it in the day it bred worms and stank. "Still," says one, "if I had faith like so-and-so, I think I should do wonders." Yes, but you would get the glory of them. That is why God does not let you have the faith, because he does not want you to do wonders. That is reserved for God, not for you, "He only doeth wondrous things." Once more, it does not say, our strength shall be as our fears. God often leaves us to shift alone with our fears, never with our troubles. Many of God's people have a manufactory at the back of their houses in which they manufacture troubles; and home-made troubles, like other home made things, last a very long while, and generally fit very comfortably. Troubles of God's sending are always suitable the right sort for our backs; but those that we make are of the wrong sort, and they always last us longer than God's; I have known an old lady sit and fret because she believed she should die in a workhouse and she wanted God to give her grace accordingly; but what would have been the good of that? because the Lord meant that she should die in her own quiet bedroom? I have heard of and known men who, being sick, believed they were dying, and wanted grace to die complacently; but God would not give it because he intended them to live, and why should he give them dying grace till they came to die? And we have known others who said they wanted grace to endure many troubles which they expected to come upon them. They were going to fail in a fortnight or so, but they did not fail and it was no wonder they had not grace given to carry them through it, because they did not require it. The promise is "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "When your vessel gets empty then will I fill it; I will not give you any extra, over and above. When you are weak then I will make you strong; but I will not give you any extra strength to lay by: strength enough to bear your sufferings, and to do your duty; but no strength to play at matches with your brethren and sisters in order to get the glory to yourselves." Oh! if we had strength according to our wishes we should soon all of us be like Jeshurun, wax fat, and begin to kick against the Most High. Then again, there is another limit. It says "As thy days so shall thy strength be." It does not any, "as thy weeks," or "months," but "as thy days." You are not going to have Monday's grace given you on a Sunday, nor Tuesday's grace on a Monday. You shall have Monday's grace given you on Monday morning as soon as you rise and want it; you shall not have it given you on Saturday night; you shall have it "day by day" no more than you want, no less than you want. I do not believe God's people are to be trusted with a week's grace all at once. They are like many of our London workman: they get their wages on Saturday night, and then the rascals go and have Saint Monday and Saint Tuesday, and never do a stroke of work till Wednesday, when they go to the pawnbrokers with their tools to help them over till the next Saturday night. Now, I think God's children would do the same. If they had grace given them on Saturday to last them all through the week, I question whether the devil would not get a good deal of it, whether they would not be pawning some of their old evidences before the week was out, in order to live upon them: spending all their grace on Monday and Tuesday. spending very much of their strength in indulging in pride and boasting, instead of walking humbly with their God. No, "as thy days, so shall thy strength be." Now, having said that the promise is limited, perhaps I am bound to add what an extensive promise this is! "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Some days are very little things, in our pocket book we have very little to put down, for there was nothing done of any importance. But some days are very big days. Ah! I have known a big day a day of great duties, when great things had to be done for God too great, it seemed, for one man to do; and when great duty was but half done there came great trouble, such as my poor heart had never felt before. Oh! what a great day it was! there was a night of lamentation in this place, and the cry of weeping, and of mourning, and of death. Ah! but blessed be God's name, though the day was big with tempest, and though it swelled with horror, yet as that day was, so was God's strength. Look at poor Job. What a great day he had once! "Master," says one, "The oxen were ploughing, and the asses feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them away." In comes another and he says, "The fire of God hath fallen on the sheep." "Oh," says another "the Chaldeans have fallen upon the camels and taken them away, and I, only I, am left to tell thee." Still, you see, grace kept growing with the day. Still strength grew as the trouble grew. At last comes the back stroke: "A great wind came from the wilderness, and smote the house where thy sons and daughters were feasting, and they are dead, and I, only I, am left to tell thee." Grace still kept growing, and at last the grace did overflow the trouble, and the poor old patriarch cried, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Ah! Job, that was a big day indeed, and it was big grace that went with that big day. Satan sometimes blows up our days with his black breath till they grow to such a cursed height that we know not how great the days must be. Our head whirls at the thought of passing through such a sea of trouble in so short a space of time. But oh! how sweet it is to think that the bed of grace is never shorter than a man can stretch himself upon it; nor is the covering of Almighty love ever shorter than that it may cover us. We never need be afraid. If our troubles should become high as mountains. God's grace would become like Noah s flood: it would go twenty cubits higher till the mountains were covered. If God should send to you and to me a day such as there was none like it, neither should be any more, he would send us strength such as there was none like it, neither should there be any more. Do you see Martin Luther riding into Worms? There is a solitary monk going before a great council: he knows they will burn him; did not they burn John Huss, and Jerome of Prague? Both those men had a safe conduct, and it was violated and they were put to death by Papists, who said that no faith was to be kept with heretics. Luther placed very little reliance on his safe conduct; and you would have expected as he rode into Worms that he would have a dejected countenance. Not so. No sooner does he catch sight of Worms, than some one advises him not to go into the city. Said he, "If there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs of the houses, I would enter." And he does ride in. He goes to the inn, and eats his bread and drinks his beer, as complacently as if he were at his own fire-side; and then he goes quietly to bed. When summoned before the council, and asked to retract his opinion, he does not want time to consider, or debate about it; but he says, "These things that I have written are the truth of God, and by them will I stand till I die; so help me God!" The whole assembly trembles, but there is not a flush upon the cheek of the brave monk, nor do his knees knock together. He is in the midst of armed men and those that seek his blood. There sit fierce cardinals and bloodthirsty bishops and the Pope's legate; like spiders longing to suck his blood. He cares for none of them; he walks away, and is confident that "God is his refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." "Ah! but," you say, "I could not do that."" Yea you could, if God called you to it. Any child of God can do what any other child of God has done, if God gives him the strength. You could not do what you are doing even now, without God's strength; and you could do ten thousand times more, if he should be pressed to fill you with his might. What an expansive promise this is! Once more, what a varying promise it is! I do not mean that the promise varies but adapts itself to all our changes. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Here is a fine sunshiny morning; all the world is laughing; everything looks glad; the birds are singing, the trees seem to be all alive with music. "My strength shall be as my day is," says the pilgrim. Ah! pilgrim, there is a little black cloud gathering. Soon it increases; the flash of lightning wounds the heaven, and it begins to bleed in showers. Pilgrim, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." The birds have done singing, and the world has done laughing; but "as thy days, so shall thy strength be." Now the dark night comes on, and another day approaches a day of tempest, and whirlwind, and storm. Dost thou tremble, pilgrim? "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "But there are robbers in the wood." "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "But there are lions which shall devour me." "As thy days. so shall thy strength be." "But there are rivers: how shall I swim them?" Here is a boat to carry thee over: "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "But there are fires: how shall I pass through them?" Here is the garment that will protect thee: "As thy days so shall thy strength be." "But there are arrows that fly by day." Here is thy shield: "As thy days so shall thy strength be." "But there is the pestilence that walketh in darkness." Here is thy antidote: "As thy days so shall thy strength be." Wherever you may be, and whatever trouble awaits you, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Children of God, cannot you say that this has been true hitherto? I can. It might seem egotistical if I were to talk of the evidence I have received of this during the past week, but nevertheless I cannot help recording my praise to God. I left this pulpit last Sunday as sick as any man ever left the pulpit, and I left this country too as ill as I could be, but no sooner had I set my foot upon the other shore, where I was to preach the gospel, than my wonted strength entirely returned to me. I had no sooner buckled on the harness to go forth and fight my Master's battle, than every ache and pain was gone, and all my sickness fled; and as my day was, so certainly was my strength. I believe if I were lying upon a dying couch, if God called me to preach in America, and I had but faith to be carried down to the boat, I should have strength given me, though I seemed to be dying, to minister as the Lord had appointed me. And so would each of you, wherever you might be find that as your day was, so your strength should be. And, in conclusion, what a long promise this is! You may live till you are never so old, but this promise will outlive you. When thou comest into the depths of the river Jordan, "as thy days, so shall thy strength be;" thou shalt have confidence to face the last grim tyrant, and grace to smile even in the jaws of the grave. And when thou shalt rise again in the terrible morning of the resurrection, "as thy days, so shall thy strength be:" though the earth be reeling with dismay thou shalt know no fear; though the heavens are tottering with confusion thou shalt know no trouble. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." And when thou shalt see God face to face, though thy weakness were enough to make thee die, thou shalt have strength to bear the beatific vision: thou shalt see him face to face, and thou shalt live; thou shalt lie in the bosom of thy God; immortalized and made full of strength, thou shalt be able to bear even the brightness of the Most High. III. What INFERENCE shall I draw except this? Children of the living God, be rid of your doubts, be rid of your trouble and your fear. Young Christians, do not be afraid to set forward on the heavenly race. You bashful Christians, that, like Nicodemus, are ashamed to come out and make an open profession, don't be afraid, "As your day is, so shall your strength be." Why need you fear? You are afraid of disgracing your profession, you shall not; your day shall never be more troublesome, or more fun of temptation, than your strength shall be full of deliverance. And as for you that have not God to be yours, I must draw one inference for you. Your strength is decaying. You are growing old, and your old age will not be like your youth, You have strength strength which you prostitute to the cause of Satan, which you misuse in the service of the devil. When you grow old, as you will do, unless your wickedness shall bring you to an early grave; they that look out of the windows must be darkened, and the grasshopper must be burden to you; and your strength shall not be as your day. And when you come to die, as die you must, then you shall have no strength to die with; you must die alone; you must hear yon iron gates creak on their hinges, and no guardian angel to comfort you as you go through the dreary vault. And you must stand at God's great bar at the day of resurrection, and no one to strengthen you there. How will your cheek blanch with terror! How will your soul be affrighted with horror when you shall hear it said, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell, prepared for the devil and his angels." You have no such promise as this to cheer you onward, but you have this to drive you to despair: your days shall become heavier, but your strength shall become lighter; your sorrows shall be multiplied, and your joys shall be diminished; your days shall shorten, and your nights shall lengthen; your summers shall become dimmer and your winters shall become blacker; all your hopes shall die, and your fears shall live. Ye shall reap the harvest of your sins in the dreadful vintage of eternal wrath. May God give us all grace, so that when days and years are past, we all may meet in heaven. There are some people here that I have seen a great many times, and I thought they would have been converted before now. I ask them one question, (there are some of them whom I sincerely respect) and it is this what will you do in the swellings of Jordan? When death shall get hold upon you? What, what will you do then? May God help you to answer and prepare to meet Him!
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26