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Corn in Egypt
January 16th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons,Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die." Genesis 42:1 , Genesis 42:2 .
God in his wisdom hath so made the outward world, that it is a strange and wonderful picture of the inner world. Nature has an analogy with grace. The wonders that God does in the heart of man, each of them finds a parallel, a picture, a metaphor, an illustration, in the wonders which God performs in providence. It is the duty of the minister always to look for these analogies. Our Saviour did so. He is the model preacher: his preaching was made up of parables, pictures from the outer world, accommodated to teach great and mighty truths. And so is man's mind constituted that we can always see a thing better through a picture than anyhow else. If you tell a man a simple truth, he does not see it nearly so well as if you told it to him in an illustration. If I should attempt to describe the flight of a soul from sin to Christ, you would not see it one half so readily as if I should picture John Bunyan's pilgrim running out of the city of destruction, with his fingers in his ears, and hastening with all his might to the wicket gate. There is something tangible in a picture, a something which our poor flesh and blood can lay hold of; and therefore the mind, grasping through the flesh and the blood, is able to understand the idea, and to appropriate it. Hence the necessity and usefulness of the minister always endeavonring to illustrate his sermon, and to make his discourse as much as possible like the parables of Jesus Christ. Now, there are very few minds that can make parables. The fact is, I do not know of but one good allegory in the English language, and that is, the "Pilgrim's Progress in Parables, pictures, and analogies are not so easy as some think; most men can understand them, but few can create them. Happy for us who are ministers of Christ, we have no great trouble about this matter; we have not to make parables; they are made for us. I believe that Old Testament history has for one of its designs the furnishing of the Christian minister with illustrations; so that a truth which I find in the New Testament in its naked form taught me as a doctrine, I find in the Old Testament cast into a parable. And so would we use this most excellent ancient book, the Old Testament, as an illustration of the New, and as a means of explaining to our minds the truth that is taught to us in a more doctrinal form in the New Testament. What, then, do we see in these two verses of the forty-second chapter of Genesis? We have here a picture of man's lost estate, he is in a sore soul-devouring famine. We discover here man's hope. His hope lies in that Joseph whom he knows not, who has gone before him and provided all things necessary, that his wants may be supplied. And we have here practical advice, which was preeminently wise on the part of Jacob to his sons in his case, and which, being interpreted, is also the wisest advice to you and to me. Seeing that there is mercy for sinners, and that Jesus our brother has gone before us to provide for us an all-sufficient redemption, "why sit we here and look one upon another?" There is mercy in the breast of God, there is salvation in Christ; "get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die." Three things, then, this morning: first, a pitiful plight; secondly, good news; and thirdly, excellent advice. I. First, A PITIFUL PLIGHT. These sons of Jacob were overtaken by a famine. We may talk of famines, friends, but none of us know what they are. We have heard of a famine in Ireland, and some dreadful stories have been related to us that have harrowed our hearts and almost made our hair stand up on end; but even there the full fury of famine was not known. We have heard too, to our great grief, that there are still in this city, dark and hideous spots, where men and women are absolutely perishing from hunger, who have sold from off their backs the last rags that covered them, and are now unable to leave the house, and positively perishing of famine. Such cases we have seen in our daily journals, and our hearts have been sick to think that such things should now occur. But we cannot any of us guess what is the terror of an universal famine, when all men are poor, because all men lack bread, when gold and silver are as valueless as the stones of the street, because mountains of silver and gold would scarce suffice to buy a single sheaf of wheat. Read the history of the famine of Samaria, and see the dreadful shifts to which women were driven, when they did even eat their own offspring. Famines are hells on earth. The famine which had overtaken Jacob was one which, if it had not at the moment of which this passage speaks, exactly arrived at that dreadful pitch, was sure to come to it; for the famine was to last for seven years; and if, through the spendthrift character of Eastern nations, they had not saved in the seven years of plenty enough even for one year, what would become of them during the sixth or seventh year of famine? This was the state of Jacob's family. They were cast into a waste, howling wilderness of famine with but one oasis, and that oasis they did not hear of till just at the time to which our text refers, when they learned to their joy that there was corn in Egypt. Permit me now to illustrate the condition of the sinner by the position of these sons of Jacob. First, the sons of Jacob had a very great need of bread. There was a family of sixty-six of them. We are apt, when we read these names of the sons of Jacob, to think they were all lads. Are you aware, that Benjamin, the youngest of them, was the father of ten children, at the time he went into Egypt, so that he was not so very small a lad at any rate, and all the rest had large families, so that there were sixty-six to be provided for. Well, a famine is frightful enough when there is one man who is starving when there is one brought down to a skeleton through leanness and hunger: but when sixty-six mouths are craving for bread, that is indeed a horrible plight to be in. But what is this compared with the sinner's needs! His necessities are such that only Infinity can supply them; he has a demand before which the demands of sixty-six mouths are as nothing. He has before him the dreadful anticipation of a hell, from which there is no escape; he has upon him the heavy hand of God, who has condemned him on account of his sins. What needs he? Why, all the manna that came down from heaven in the wilderness would not supply a sinner's necessities, and all the water that gushed from the rock in the desert would not be sufficient to quench his thirst. Such is the need of the sinner, that all the handsfull of Egypt's seven years would be lost upon him. He needs great mercy; the greatest of mercy, nay, he needs an infinity of mercy, and unless this be given him from above, he is worse than starved, for he dies the second death, and lives in eternal death, without the hope of annihilation or escape. The demands of a hungry man are great; but the demands of a hungry soul are greater still; until that soul gets the love and mercy of God manifested to it, it will always hunger and always thirst, though it had worlds given it for mouthfulls, its hungry stomach would be still unsatisfied, for nothing but the Trinity can fill the heart of man; nothing but an assurance of the everlasting, immutable love of God, and an application of the most precious blood of Jesus, can ever stay the terrible hunger of the sinner's soul. Mark, again: what these people wanted was an essential thing. They did not lack clothes, that were a want, but nothing like the lack of bread; for a man might exist with but scanty covering. They did not need luxuries, these they might want, and our pity would not be so much excited; they did not need tents, without these they might be able to satisfy the cravings of nature: but they lacked bread that without the fire of life would dwindle to a spark, which at last must die out in the darkness of death. "Bread! bread!" what a cry is that, when men gather together, and in the days of scarcity make that their war-cry. "Bread! bread!" what is a more dreadful sound than that? "Fire! fire!" may be more alarming, but "Bread! bread!" is more piercing to the heart. The cry of "Fire!" rolls like thunder; but the cry of "Bread!" flashes like lightning, and withers one's soul. O that men should cry for bread, the absolute necessary for the sustenance of the body! But what is the sinner's want? Is it not exactly this? he wants that without which the soul must perish. Oh! sinner, if it were health, if it were wealth, if it were comfort, which thou wert seeking, then thou mightest sit down content, and say, "I can do without these," but in this matter it is thy soul, thy never-dying soul, that is hungering, and it is its salvation, its rescue from the flames of hell, which now demands thy attention. Oh! what a need is that, the need of the soul's salvation! Talk we of bread and of skeleton bodies? These are frightful things to look upon; but when we speak of a lack of bread, and of dying perishing souls, there is something more frightful here. See, then, your case, ye who are without the grace of God; ye have great necessity, necessity for essential things. Yet again; the necessity of the sons of Jacob was a total one. They had no bread; there was none to be procured. So long as they had some of their own, they could stint themselves, and diminish their rations, and so, by moderation, maintain themselves. But they looked into the future, and saw their children dying with hunger, and not one crust with which to palliate their pangs. They saw their wives sickening before them, and their babes at their breasts, unable to obtain nourishment from those dry fountains. They saw themselves at length, solitary, miserable men, with their hands on their loins, bundles of bones, crawling about the tents where their children lay dead, and themselves without strength enough to bury them. They had a total lack of bread. They might have borne with scarceness: but a total lack of bread was horrible in the extreme. Such is the sinner's case. It is not that he has a little grace, and lacks more; but he has none at all. Of himself he has no grace. It is not that he has a little goodness, and needs to be made better, but he has no goodness at all, no merits, no righteousness nothing to bring to God, nothing to offer for his acceptance; he is penniless, povertystricken; everything is gone whereon his soul might feed. He may gnaw the dry bones of his own good works; but if the Lord hath sent conviction into his heart, he will gnaw them in vain; he may try to break the bones of ceremonies, but he shall find that instead of marrow they contain gall and bitterness. He may hunger and hunger, because he has positively nothing with which he could stay his stomach. Such is your case, then. How abject is such a necessity as this: a total lack of an essential thing for which you have an immense need. But yet worse; with the exception of Egypt, the sons of Jacob were convinced that there was no food anywhere. I believe the reason why they looked one upon another was this. At first one looked at the other as much as to say, "Haven't you some to spare? Couldn't you give me some for my family?" Perhaps Dan appealed to Simeon, "Haven't you some? my child is starving this day; cannot you help me?" Another might look at Judah; and perhaps they might fancy that Benjamin the favourite would surely have some morsel stored up. So they looked one to another. But soon alas! the look of hope changed into the look of despair. They were quite certain that the necessities of each house had been so great, that no one could help the other. They had all come to poverty; and how can beggars help each other, when all are penniless? And then they began to look upon one another in despair. In speechless silence they resigned themselves to the woe which threatened to overwhelm them. Such is the sinner's condition, when first he begins to feel a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, he looks to others. He thinks, "Surely the minister can help me, the priest may assist me." "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out." But after awhile he discovers that the state of all men is the same, that all are without grace, that "none can save his brother, or give to God a ransom for him." And apart from Christ we, my dear friends, this morning might look one on another, aghast and in despair might try the wide world over, and say "Where is salvation to be found!" Oh! if it lay in the very center of the earth we could dig through the rocks and into the very bowels of the earth to find it. If it were in heaven, we would seek to scale it with some Babel-tower, that we might reach the boon. If we had to walk through fire to gain it, we should gladly accept the burning pilgrimage. Or if we had to walk through the depths of the sea, we should be content to let all its billows roll over us, if we might find it. But if every man had to say to his fellow "there is no hope for us; we have all been condemned, we have all been guilty, we can do nothing to appease the Most High;" what a wretched world were ours, if we were equally convinced of sin, and equally convinced that there was no hope of mercy! This, then, was the condition of Jacob's sons temporally, and it is our condition by nature spiritually. We are in a land of famine; we have nothing of our own; we are hungering, we are dying of hunger, and our case seems totally hopeless, for on earth there is nothing to be found to satisfy the raving hunger of the soul. II. Now we come, in the second place, to the GOOD NEWS. Jacob had faith, and the ears of faith are always quiet; faith can hear the tread of mercy, though the footfall be as light as that of the angel among the flowers. Though mercy should be a thousand leagues away, and its journey should occupy ten thousand years, yet faith could hear its footsteps, for it is quick of ear and quick of eye. Nay, more, if God should give a promise which should never be fulfilled till the old rolling skies were dissolved, faith would look through all the generations, along the vista of the centuries, and see the spirit of promise afar off, and rejoice therein. Jacob had the ears of faith. He had been at prayer, I doubt not, asking God to deliver his family in the time of famine; and by-and-bye he hears, first of his household, that there is corn in Egypt. Do you see the gathering? The venerable patriarch sits in the tent. his sons come to pay him their morning obeisance; there is despair in their faces, they bring their little children with them. All that the patriarch has he gives; but this morning he adds good news to his benediction, he says to them, "There is corn in Egypt." Can you conceive how their hearts leaped? He scarcely needs to add, "Get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live and not die." Jacob heard the good news, and communicated it as speedily as possible to his descendants. Now, we also have heard the good news. Good news has been sent to us in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. "There is corn in Egypt." We need not die. There is salvation with God. We need not perish there is mercy in the Most High. We need not think that we must necessarily be lost; there is a way of salvation; there is a hope of escape do we not receive the tidings in joy? Do not our hearts rejoice within us at the thought that we are not hopelessly condemned, but that the Lord may yet have mercy upon us? Now, we have better news than even Jacob had; although the news is similar, understanding it in a spiritual sense. First, we are told to-day by sure and certain witnesses, that there is corn in Egypt, there is mercy in God. Jacob's messenger might have deceived him idle tales are told everywhere, and in days of famine men are very apt to tell a falsehood, thinking that to be true which they wish were so. The hungry man is apt to hope that there may be corn somewhere; and then he thinks there is; and then he says there is; and then, what begins with a wish comes to be a rumor and a report. But this day, my friends, it is no idle talk; no dream, no rumor of a deceiver. There is mercy with God, there is salvation with him, that he may be feared. The fountain is filled to the brim; the granaries are full of the good old corn of the kingdom. There is no reason why we should perish. By sure infallible, and certain witness, we are told upon the very oath of God himself; that there is salvation for the sons of men. But Jacob did not know how much corn there was in Egypt. He said there was corn, but he did not know bow much. Now, today, we are something like Jacob. There is mercy with God; we do not know, any of us, how much. "Oh," says one sinner, "I am such a hungry soul, that all the granaries of Egypt would not be enough for me." Ah, but, poor soul. God is all that you could want, even though you should want an infinite supply. The sixty-six in the family of Jacob would make a heavy draw upon the granaries of any nation; but yet, so abundant were the storehouses in every city, that we do not read that Joseph missed all that he gave them. So it is with you. Your necessities are immense, but nothing equal to the supply. Your soul requires great mercy, but you will no more exhaust the mercy of God than the taking a cup full of water out of the sea would exhaust its fullness. High above the summits of your mountain-sins the stars of grace are shining. There is another thing in which we have the start of Jacob. Jacob knew there was corn in Egypt, but did not know who had the keeping of it. If he had known that, he would have said, "My sons, go down at once to Egypt, do not be at all afraid, your brother is lord of Egypt, and all the corn belongs to him." Nay, more I can readily imagine that he would have gone himself, forthwith. And Simeon and the rest though they might feel a little abashed, when they thought of the unkirdness that they had shown to their brother, when they began to feel a little hungry, if they had known all about Joseph, would have said, "We need not fear to go and submit ourselves to him, for we know he has a gracious and loving heart and would never let his poor brethren die of hunger." Sinner, the mercies of God are under no lock and key except those over which Christ has the power. The granaries of heaven's mercy have no steward to keep them save Christ. He is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. And the keys of grace are swinging at the girdle of your own brother; he who died for you, he who loved you so much, that he loved you better than he did himself. He has the keys of grace, and will you fear to go? Will you tremble to go to these rich stores of mercy when they are in the hands of a loving, tender, and ever-gracious Lord? No, this is good news, that all the grace is in the hands of Jesus. There is yet another thing which the sons of Jacob knew nothing of. When they went to Egypt, they went on hap-hazard. If they knew there was corn, they were not sure they would get it. But when you and I go to Christ, we are invited guests. Suppose now you should have it in your heart to invite some of the most ragged people of London to your house; you give to each of them an invitation, and they come to the door, perhaps they are half ashamed to come in, and want to steal round the back way; but if they should meet you, they are not at all abashed, they say, "Sir, I was not afraid to come, because you sent me an invitation. If it had not been for that, although I might have known your generosity, although I might have known you could afford to help me, I should not have dared to come if you had not sent me an invitation." Now Joseph sent no invitation to his brethren; but Jesus has sent an invitation to you. To each of you who are perishing sinners he has said, "Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." He has said himself, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." He has sent his messengers and bidden them cry, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Now, sinner, you need never be afraid to go where you are invited. Christ Jesus invites; he invites the hungry, he invites the weary. Such are you both hungry and weary. He invites the heavy laden such are you. Come and welcome, then. You need not go on hap-hazard, you have the invitation and the promise. Wherefore look ye then at one another? Arise and come to Christ; arise and come to his cross. May he now prove in you his power to save! But one other remark, and I will have done with this second point. The sons of Jacob were in one respect better off than you are apparently, for they had money with which to buy. Jacob was not a poor man in respect of wealth, although he had now become exceedingly poor from lack of bread. His sons had money to take with them. Glittering bars of gold they thought must surely attract the notice of the ruler of Egypt. You have no money, nothing to bring to Christ, nothing to offer him. You offered him something once, but he rejected all you offered him as being spurious coin, imitations, counterfeits, and good for nothing. And now utterly stripped, hopeless, penniless, you say you are afraid to go to Christ because you have nothing of your own. Let me assure you that you are never in so fit a condition to go to Christ as when you have nowhere else to go to, and have nothing of your own. But you reply, "I should like at least to feel my need more." That would be something of your own you must go to Christ with nothing. "But I wish I could believe more." That would be something of your own. You want to get your own faith to bring to Christ. No, you must go to Christ just as you are. "But sir, I must reform myself before I can believe that Christ will have mercy upon me." Your fancied reformation would unfit you for grace, rather than prepare you for it. Reformation before grace is frequently a step backward instead of forward. That reformation may confirm you in self-righteousness, but it cannot bring you to Christ. Go as you are. At a hospital, the best recommendation is sickness. He that is a little sick needs some help to get him there, but let me be run over in the street, and be near to die, and I need nothing to recommend me to the hospital open flies the door, and I am taken in directly. So a condition of your lost and ruined state is the only recommendation you need in going to Christ. Just now a lot of people want to bestow their charity, and they do not know how to get at the lowest class of the poor; they want to lay hold of those whose beds are made of straw; they desire to gain knowledge of those low lodging-places of the very poor, which are worse than the places that beasts inhabit. These are the men they want to find; and the greater the poverty the more recommendation. So in your case. Your woes plead with God. Your wants, your misery, your helplessness, your ill-deserts, these are the orators that move the heart of God towards you, but nothing else. Come just as you are, with nothing in your hand, to Jesus Christ, who is Lord over the land of mercy, and will not send you empty away. III. Thus I have noticed the good news as well as the pitiful plight. I come now to the third part, which is GOOD ADVICE. Jacob asks, "Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die." This is very practical advice. I wish people would act the same with religion as they do in temporal affairs. Jacob's sons did not say, "Well, that is very good news; I believe it," and then sit still and die. No, they went straightway to the place of which the good news told them corn was to be had. So should it be in matters of religion. We should not be content merely to hear the tidings, but we should never be satisfied until by divine grace we have availed ourselves of them' and have found mercy in Christ. Some ministers do in fact tell poor awakened sinners to be inactive; they say to them something like this "You must wait, you must wait till Christ comes to you." They will even dissuade the woman who had an issue of blood, from pushing through the crowd to lay hold upon the hem of the Redeemer's garment. They would bid the man who is crying aloud by the wayside to hold his tongue; to sit still quietly till Christ should turn and look upon him. They cannot endure that Christ Jesus should invite men to his feast, much less that the servants of the Lord should endeavor to compel them to come in. They excuse the sinner and even dare to teach that the rejection of Christ by the sinner, is no sin at all. Now, as in the sight of God, I do fear such men are guilty of the blood of souls. I would not stand in the position of a man who talks like that for all the stars thrice reckoned up in gold. I cannot understand that; I cannot understand that when my Master said, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed," that I am to tell a sinner to sit still. When the angel said, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee; stay not in all the plain; but flee to the mountain, lest thou be consumed," am I to go to Sodom, and say to Lot, "Stop here till the Lord brings you out?" Why, we know, of a surety, that salvation is the Lord's work, and the Lord's work alone; but we equally know of a surety, that when the Lord works, he sets us to work. When he works in our soul, the Lord does not believe; he has nothing to believe, he makes us believe. When the Lord works repentance, he does not repent what has he to repent of? He makes us repent. The Lord brought Lot out of Sodom, but did not Lot use his own legs to run to the mountain? And so it must be with us. Christ does all, but he makes us the instruments. He tells us to stretch out our own withered hand, and yet we do not stretch forth that withered hand of ourselves. He tells us to do it, and we do it through his strength. Tell a sinner to sit still! What does hell desire more than that? Tell a sinner to wait; would not Satan approve of such a ministry? And does he not approve of it? Ah, my brethren, he that loves his Master, he that loves the gospel, he that loves men's souls cannot preach such untruthful and unchristian doctrine. He feels that the humanity within him is much more the grace within him, revolts against a thing so barbarous and so inhuman as that. No, when we preach to the sinner, we must say to him, "Thou knowest thy need, thou feelest that thou canst not be saved except through mercy in Christ. Look to him, believe on him, seek him, and thou shalt find him." But I have heard it said, that if a sinner seeks Christ without Christ seeking him he will perish. Now what an absurd thing for anybody to say. Because, did a sinner, or could a sinner ever seek Christ without Christ seeking him. I never like to suppose an impossibility, and then draw an inference from it. "Suppose," said one, I know of "a sinner should come to Christ without Christ coming to him, he would be lost." Well, that is very clear, only it is supposing a thing that cannot happen; and what is the good of that? Sometimes people have put to me this question "Suppose a child of God should live in sin, and die in sin, would he be saved?" The thing is impossible. If you suppose yourself into a difficulty, you must suppose yourself out of it. It is like the old supposition, "Suppose the moon were cream cheese, what would become of us on a dark night?" So, suppose a sinner should come to Christ without Christ coming to him, what could be the result? It is supposing an impossibility, and then drawing an absurdity from it. Christ said, "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." If a sinner comes, he is drawn, or he would not have come. It is mine, therefore, to exhort the sinner to come to Christ; it is the Holy Spirit's work to enforce the exhortation, and draw the sinner to Christ. Lastly, let me put this question, "Why do ye look one upon another?" Why do ye sit still? Fly to Christ, and find mercy. Oh, says one, "I cannot get what I expect to have." But what do you expect? I believe some of our hearers expect to feel an electric shock, or something of that kind, before they are saved. The gospel says simply, "Believer." That they will not understand. They think there is to be something so mysterious about it. They can't make out what it is; but they are going to wait for it and then believe. Well, you will wait till doomsday; for if you do not believe this simple gospel, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," God will not work signs and wonders to please your foolish desires. Your position is this you are a sinner, lost, ruined; you cannot help yourself. Scripture says, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Your immediate business, your instantaneous duty is to cast yourself on that simple promise, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that as he came into the world to save sinners, he has therefore come to save you. What you have to do with, is that simple command "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt he saved." Now take the sons of Jacob as your example. No sooner had their father told them what they had to do than the first thing they did was, they went and fetched their empty sacks. Now do the same. "What is the good of them?" you say; "there is no corn in them." No I know there is not, still you must take your empty sacks and have them filled. Bring out your sins; bring out all the aggravation of your sins; cast them all at the feet of Christ, and make your confession. There is no salvation in confession, but still you cannot have salvation without it. You must make a full and free confession of your sins. "What, to you, sir?" I am extremely obliged to you. I would not hear your sins on any account. No sum of money would be sufficient compensation for the impurity that must accrue to any man who shall hear another's sins. I would not tell you mine; much less hear your's. No, make your confessions to God. Go to your closet; shut to your door; then pull out your empty seeks that is, make a full confession of your sins; tell the Lord that you are a wretch undone without his sovereign grace. When you have done that, you say, what next? Then cast away all hope you ever had or have, put away all trust in your good works and everything else; and what next? Cast yourself simply on this great truth, that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and you shall rise from your knees a happier man. Or if tlmt is not the case, try it again, and again, and again, and it shall not fail you. Prayer and faith were never lost. He who confessed his sins and sought the Saviour never roughs in vain. When I was first convinced of sin, yet a lad, I did go to God and I cried for mercy with all my might, but I did not find it. I do not think I knew what the gospel was. For three year's I persevered in that; and many a day, in every room of the house in which I lived, as each room became unoccupied, upon an occasion, have I spent hours in prayer, the tears rolling down my cheeks, and straining myself in an agony of desire to find Christ and find salvation. But it never came. It was not until I heard that simple doctrine, "Look unto me and be ye saved." I then found that my prayers were a kind of righteousness of my own that I was relying on them, and consequent was on the wrong road. Then did the Holy Spirit enable me to look to Christ hanging on the cross. I did not give up my prayers, but I did put the Lord Jesus, the object of my faith, far above all prayers, and then when I had looked to him hanging, dying, bleeding, my soul rejoiced, and I fell upon my knees no more to cry with agony, but to exclaim with delight, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." But if in that day, instead of simply looking to Christ, I had said, "No, Lord, I will not wash in Jordan and be clean. I will wait till Elijah comes out and strikes the leper with his hand; I will not look to the brazen serpent. That is legal preaching, that is Arminian doctrine. I will wait till the serpent knocks right against my eyes," it would have never come. But having looked simply to Christ, I cast all my other trust away; and how my soul rejoices in the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free. So shall it be with you. The gospel is this day freely preached to you. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down from heaven, was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; and was crucified for sin. Turn now your eyes to yonder cross. Behold a God expiring. Behold the Infinite hanging on the tree in pangs. Those sufferings must save you; will you rely upon them? Without any other trust, shall the cross be the unbuttressed pillar of your hope? If so, you are saved. The moment you believe in Jesus, the Redeemer, you are saved, your sins are forgiven; God has accepted you as his child; you are in a state of grace; you are passed from death unto life. Not only are you not condemned but you never shall be. There is for you a crown, a harp, a mansion, in the realms of the glorified. Oh that God may help you now to go down into Egypt for heavenly corn, and may you return with your sacks full to the brim. In conclusion, I make this last remark. Did you notice the argument Jacob used why the sons should go to Egypt? It was this "That we may live, and not die." Sinner, this is my argument with thee this morning. My dear hearers, the gospel of Christ is a matter of life and death with you. It is not a matter of little importance, but of all importance. There is an alternative before you; you will either be eternally damned, or everlastingly saved. Despise Christ, and neglect his great salvation, and you will be lost, as sure as you live. Believe in Christ; put your trust alone in him, and everlasting life is yours. What argument can be more potent than this to men that love themselves? Are you prepared for everlasting burnings? Friend, art thou ready to make thy bed in hell, and to be lost? If so, reject Christ. But if thou desirest to be blessed for ever, to be accepted of God in the tremendous day of judgment, and to be crowned by him in the day of the reward, I beseech thee, hear again the gospel, and obey it. "He that believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." For this is the gospel; it is yet again preached to you, and this is its solitary mandate "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." O Lord, help us now to believe, if we have not believed before, for Jesus' sake!
Have You Forgotten Him?
MARCH 11 th 1866 by
C. H. SPURGEON
“I do remember my faults this day.”-Genesis 41:9
No single power or faculty of man escaped damage at the fall: while the affections were polluted, the will was made perverse, the judgment was shifted from its proper balance, and the memory lost much of its power and more of its integrity. Every observing mind will have noticed that naturally we have a greater power for remembering evil than good. Very plain is this in your children. If you mention anything good in their hearing you had need to say it many times, and very plainly, before they are likely to remember it; but if one ill shall casually meet their ear in the street, it will not be long before you have the pain of hearing them repeat it. Our memory is like theirs, only in proportion as it is developed this peculiarity is more manifest. We have a most convenient warehouse for storing the merchandise of evil, but the priceless jewels of goodness are readily stolen from their casket. We have a fireproof safe for worthless matters, and enclose the rarest gems in mere pasteboard cases. Our memory, like a strainer, often suffers the good wine to pass through but retains all the dregs. It holds the bad in an iron grasp, and plays with good till it slips through the fingers. Our memories, like ourselves, have done the things, which they ought not to have done, and have left undone the things, which they ought to have done, and there is no health in them.
Among other things, it is not always easy to recollect our faults. We have special and particular reasons for not wishing to be too often reminded of them. Few men care to keep their faults in the front room of the house. Underground, in the darkest cellar, and, if possible, with the door locked and the key lost; it is there we would like to conceal our faults from ourselves. If, however, the grace of God has entered into a man he will pray that he may remember his faults, and he will ask grace that if he should forget any excellences which he once supposed he had, he may not forget his defects, his sins, his infirmities, and his transgressions, but may have them constantly before him, that he may be humbled by them and led to seek pardon for them and help to overcome them.
I do not say that the butler in this case had any work of grace in his heart, but I shall use him as an illustration, and hope by using my watchman’s rattle to wake up some of your sleepy memories, for there are thieves about, and you are being robbed without knowing it. It will be a healthy result to us all if we shall be compelled to say at the end of this sermon, “I do remember my faults this day.”
In the first place this morning, using the butler as our illustration, we shall state his faults; secondly, we shall consider the circumstances, which refreshed his memory; and, thirdly, we shall show the good points in his remembrance.
I. We shall first call your attention to the Butler’s Faults, for his faults are ours, only ours are on a larger scale “I do remember my faults this day.”
His particular fault was that he had forgotten Joseph; that, having promised to remember him when it should be well with him, he had altogether overlooked the circumstances, which occurred in the prison, and had been enjoying himself, and leaving his friend to pine in obscurity.
Here, then, is the first fault,-the butler had forgotten a friend. That is never a thing to be said to a man’s praise. We ought to write the deeds of friendship as much as possible in marble; and that man is unworthy of esteem who can readily forget favors received. Joseph had done all that he could to make the butler’s sojourn in prison comfortable. It was hard, that so soon as the butler had escaped from prison, his friend Joseph had escaped his memory. Save us from men who can so easily forget. But you and I have a Friend: we call him very dear; we are accustomed to speak of him in very rapturous terms. We declare that no others have such a Friend as we have: we have made our boast that there is none other that deserves the name in comparison with him whom we call our best-beloved; and yet how many of us have forgotten him! His name we know, his nature we understand, his blessings we sometimes rejoice in; but frequently his divine person, his blessed self, alas! how cold our love to him! This fault will not strike the carnal mind as being a great one; but, in proportion as our hearts are spiritual and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we shall feel it a great and grievous sin to have in any measure forgotten our best Friend.
The circumstances were these:-the butler was in prison, and then this friend came to him and spoke comfortably to him. Dost thou remember when thou wast in prison? I never can forget when I was bound in fetters far harder, heavier, and more painful to wear than fetters of iron. It was a dark dungeon, without a ray of light: there was no rest in it neither night nor day. A certain fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation haunted that gloomy cell. I struggled to be free, but the more I struggled the more hard did my bondage become. I was as one in the deep mire, who, by every struggle, only sinks himself the more hopelessly in it. Do you not remember? Oh, believers, you have passed through the same experience: your feet were in the stocks, you laid in the innermost prison, while the whip of the law frequently fell upon your backs, and the sentence of execution thundered in your ears, and you trembled lest you should be dragged forth to your doom. Do you not remember it, the wormwood and the gall? Joseph came to the butler and said, “Why look ye so sadly today?” In our case we have not forgotten how Jesus came to us and enquired into our state. With what tender accents of sympathy did he address our hearts! He told us-and we could readily believe it-that he would not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed We had not been accustomed to be addressed in this fashion, for the voice of Moses is far from musical, and his tones are very grating to the ear; but when Jesus spake it was all soft and sweet. “Poor sinner!” he said, as though he pitied rather than blamed. He looked upon us not with an eye searching for iniquity, but with a heart which saw our calamity, and which looked for the means to deliver us. Have you forgotten those times of brokenness of spirit when the only comfort which you knew was the name of Jesus, when the only stay for the hunger and thirst which were in your spirits was a morsel or two of his sweet love which he graciously cast to you to stay you by the way?
Do you remember your dream? The butler had a dream; do you recollect yours? It was more than a night dream; it was a daydream with a terrible interpretation appended to it in your mind. You dreamed of a vine too, and you were the cluster, and you dreamed of the tune when you should be cast into the winepress, and trodden beneath the feet of almighty wrath, until your blood should fill the cup of divine vengeance even to the brim. Do you recollect that dream? How it haunted you, and seemed like some huge bird of prey, with black wings and horrid cries, fluttering over you as though about to tear you in pieces. I recollect when day was night to me, and night was worse than night. “Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions,” was the cry of Job, and such has been the lament of many and many a heart under the weight of sin. Oh, how guilt can thunder in our ears! How the Word of God can grow terrible and stern! “God is angry with you! God is angry with the wicked every day! It is appointed unto all men once to die, and after death the judgment.” In our alarms we could see the rider on the pale horse, and feel ourselves overtaken by him, and struck down by the horses’ hoofs! How we saw ourselves cast into the pit of hell, and seemed to be falling, falling, falling, ever sinking from the angry glance of God, and still as dreadfully near to it as before! That was our dream, and the interpretation, the only interpretation which seemed to fit it was this, “You will’ be banished from his presence into eternal misery.” Beloved, do you recollect when Jesus came with the interpretation of a very different kind, just as Joseph did to the butler? He interpreted to the butler that Pharaoh would lift him up and put him in his place again; and so Jesus came to us, and told us that we were condemned in ourselves that we might not be condemned at the last; that we had a sentence of death in ourselves because God intended never to pass that sentence in the Court of Heaven, and had instead thereof passed it in the Court of our conscience. He told us that God never kills with his law in the heart without intending to make alive, that when he wounds he heals, that when he strips he means to clothe. We did not understand this. We thought that all this terrible dealing within our heart was the prelude of everlasting judgment, but he showed us that as many as God loves he rebukes and chastens, that it is the way with him to break up the clods with the plough-share before he casts in the golden seed; and to dig out deep foundations before he piles polished stones one upon another to make a temple to his praise. Ah, I never shall forget when, at the foot of the cross, I saw the interpretation of all my inward griefs; when I looked up and saw the flowing of my Savior’s precious blood, and had the great riddle all unriddled. My brethren, what a discovery was that when we learned the secret that we were to be saved not by what we were or were to be; but, saved by what Christ had done for us! The simplicity of the cross is the grandest of all revelations. “Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth.” Why it is as simple as the interpretation which Joseph gave to the dream; but in its simplicity lies a great part of its sweetness. How was it that I was such a fool as not to understand it before, that for every sinner who was truly a sinner, and had no righteousness of his own, Jesus Christ is made righteousness and salvation; and that every sinner who confesses with broken heart that he deserved God’s wrath, may know that Jesus has suffered all God’s wrath for him, and that therefore God is no longer angry with him, for all his anger has been spent upon the person of Jesus Christ. How sweet it is to understand that all our soul’s terrors and alarms are only meant to bring us to the cross; that they are not intended to make us look at ourselves, to search for comfort there, nor intended to set us upon paving a way to heaven by our own exertions, but to lead us to Jesus. Happy day! we see Jesus as the cluster crushed until the heart’s blood flows, and can by faith go in unto the King, with Jesus Christ’s own precious blood and offer that, just as the butler stood before Pharaoh with the wine-cup in his hand. I bear a cup filled not with my blood but his blood; not the blood from me as a cluster of the vine of earth, but the blood of Jesus as a cluster of heaven’s own vintage, pouring out its precious floods to make glad the heart of God and man.
Here lies our fault; that we have forgotten all this-not forgotten the fact, but forgotten to love him who gave us that soul-comforting, heart-cheering interpretation. Beloved, when Jesus revealed himself at first, our hearts were ready to leap out of our bodies for joy. Do you recollect the time you thought you could sing always and never leave off? Nothing was too hard, no burden was too heavy for you then, for your soul was all on fire with love; but ah! since then, what a sad declension! you forgot your Joseph, you forgot your Friend who gave you this kind interpretation of your dream.
Dear friends, there was something which ought to have made the butler remember Joseph. When I read the story just now, it came very vividly to my own mind; it was this, that there was another in prison at the same time with him, and what had become of him? The baker had been hanged! And if the butler had chosen to walk out, he might have seen the relics of the body of his poor miserable companion, gibbeted to be fed upon by kites and carrion crows. That poor wretch had dreamed a dream too, but the interpretation had been very different. When some of us look back to the time when we were in sin with others, and recollect that although we are here the living, to praise the Redeemer’s name, some of our old companions are-we shudder to think of it, but it is so-at this moment in hell! how shall we praise the electing grace which has made us to differ? It is a solemn thought that such differences should occur.
“Why were we made to hear his voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”
Some of you used to spend hour after hour in the public-house, and you could blaspheme God’s name; and while those whom you once drank with are now drinking the cup of God’s wrath, you, who were not one whit better than they-in some points even worse, are now saved by sovereign grace. Discriminating grace should always give a high tone to our gratitude. He hath not dealt thus with every people. Praise ye the Lord! If you whom God has chosen, and whom Christ has specially and effectually called by grace from among others, if you do not remember him, what shall I say to you? Oh! dear friends, how it should humble you, and bow you down in the dust, that after such remarkable, peculiar, distinguishing love as that of which you have been the subjects, you should still forget your dear Friend, and fail in point of duty where you ought to have been faithful to him.
We have not, however, quite done with the case of the butler and Joseph. The request which Joseph made of the butler was a very natural one. He said, “Think of me when it is well with thee.” He asked no hard, difficult, exacting favor, but simply, “Think of me, and speak to Pharaoh. Thou wilt have his ear in moments when kings are most likely to be in good humor; thou wilt wait upon him at his feasts; then, when it is well with thee and the time is come, put in a word for thy poor friend, who will be pining away in the damps of the dungeon.” It was a very simple thing, and I will be bound to say the butler said to him, “Oh, my dear fellow, I will not only do that, but I do not know what I will not do for you; you shall be out of prison within a week, and I will take good care that you have the fat of all the land of Egypt, and I will see that that Potiphar and his wife shall be severely punished for all the wrong they have done you.” But he did nothing of the kind. What the Savior asks of us, his servants, is most natural and most simple, and quite as much for our good as it is for his glory. Among other things, he has said to all of you who love him, “This do in remembrance of me.” He has asked you to gather around his table, and break bread with his servants, and feast with him. Some of you have never obeyed his command yet; you say you love him, but you forget him. It was kind of him to institute that blessed ordinance to help your memory; it is doubly unkind of you that you not only forget him, but are not willing to use the means to have that frail memory of yours refreshed. Moreover, of you who come to his table he asks the favor to speak a good word for him wherever you have an opportunity. During the last week, have you spoken for Jesus? He asks you to spread abroad the savor of his name; have you done so during the last month or not? He requests of you that as you are an heir with him and a partaker of his kingdom, you will help him to spread it, not by word of mouth only, but by your gifts and by your labors. What have you done? Suppose that now the Lord Jesus Christ should occupy this pulpit instead of me, and stand here, and spread his hands, and show you his wounds, could you dare to look at him? Might not some of you have cheeks crimsoned as you would have to confess, “Ah, Master, we have forgotten thee. As to much practical service and honor of thy name, we have been quite as negligent as the butler was concerning Joseph.” Well, he is here in spirit, and he will soon be here in person. Servants of the Master, be faithful to your Master; but oh, all you who lean upon his bosom, and have familiar intercourse with him, I will not merely speak of faithfulness to you, but I charge you by your love, by the lilies, and by the hinds of the field, see to it, that you forget not your beloved, but day by day, and hour by hour, feast him upon your wine, and with your milk, with the choicest of your gifts, the richest products of your souls. Labor for him, live for him, and be ready to die for him who has done so much for you.
I have thus stated the butler’s case, but I shall want to pause a minute or two over this head just to go into the reason of his fault. Why was it that he did not recollect Joseph? There is always a reason for everything, if we do but try to find it out. He must have been swayed by one of three reasons.
Perhaps the butler was naturally ungrateful. We do not know, but that may have been the case: he may have been a person who could receive unbounded favors without a due sense of obligation. I trust that is not our case in the fullest and most unmitigated sense, but I am afraid we must all plead guilty in a measure. Were there ever such ungrateful ones as the saints of God? We treat no other friend so badly as we treat our Lord. We love our parents, we feel gratitude towards friends who have assisted us in times of need, we are bound by very strong ties to certain persons who were very greatly an assistance to us at a pinch, but our dear Savior, better than father and mother, fonder than the fondest friend, closer than the most loving spouse, how ill we use Him! I am afraid, brethren, we had better all of us say it is ingratitude here-we are basely ungrateful to him. But let us not confess it as a matter of course; let us be ashamed to have such a thing to say, let us feel that it lowers us more than anything else could lower us; that it proves how total, how abject, how degrading must have been the fall of Adam, that even the love of Jesus Christ shed abroad in hearts like ours in such a remarkable and plenteous manner, yet cannot cure them of the base and detestable vice of ingratitude. Oh thou dear one, can I look upon thy face, all covered with thy bloody sweat, can I view thee again all covered with the spittle from the mouths of thine enemies, can I see thee in thy thirst and anguish on the cross, and know that every pang was for me, and every woe for me, and not a groan or spasm of pain for thyself, but all for love of me who was thine enemy, and can I after that forget thee? Oh my soul, loathe thyself that thou shouldest be ungrateful to him.
Perhaps, however, worldly care choked the memory. The chief butler had a great deal to do: he had many under-servants, and, having to wait in a palace much care was required. He who serves a despot like the king of Egypt must be very particular in his service. It is very possible that the butler was so busy with his work and his gains, and looking after his fellow-servants and all that, that he forgot poor Joseph. Is not it very possible that this may be the case with us? We forget the Lord Jesus to whom we are bound by such ties, because our business is so large, our family so numerous, our cares so pressing, our bills and bonds so urgent, and even because perhaps our gains are so large. There is as much power to divide the heart from Christ in gain as there is in loss; in fact, the sharpest edge of the world’s sword is prosperity. The back cut of adversity very seldom wounds as prosperity does. And yet, dear friends, what are all these cares that they should make us forget our Lord? I know not to what to liken us. Unto what shall I compare our folly? We are like children in the market-place who have their little plays and games, their pieces of broken crock and stick and stone, and these take up all their thoughts; and they forget their dear mother who is calling them. She has nourished these children, and day by day her heart cares for them, but they forget her. They cannot live without her: they must go to her for all their necessities; the very garments on their backs are her workmanship, and the food that keeps life in their bodies she must find; but they are too busy, too busy with these little plays and toys and mere dirt and such things as children in the market will play with, too busy to think of her. Oh! it is base that it should be so, but we are sadly worldly. I am afraid John Bunyan’s picture of the man with the muck-rake is not altogether unlike some of God’s own children. Here we are with the rake groping over the dunghill, although above us stands the angel with the golden crown calling to us to look up from the dunghill and remember our lasting and enduring portion; but no, not we, that dunghill takes up so much of our time and thoughts that the crown is forgotten. Do not misunderstand me, I would not have you be negligent in business, neither reason nor revelation require that; but oh! if you could recollect the Savior in it all, and if you traded for his sake and worked for him, and in the ordinary deeds of life did all as unto the Lord (“whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”); then, truly, everything might remind you of him and both gain and loss, mercy and misery, might only drive you nearer to his blessed bosom.
I am half ashamed to have to say one thing more. I am afraid that the butler forgot Joseph out of pride; because he had grown to be such a great man, and Joseph was in prison. He was butler to the king. Now when he was in prison Joseph was his equal, and in some sense his superior, for he waited on him. But now my lord, the butler, has great interest at court, and he wears splendid garments, and he is very great amongst his fellow-servants. Joseph-Joseph smells of the dungeon, he is a jailbird, and quite beneath him. He knows not what Joseph is to be, that all the glories of the land of Egypt are to be at Joseph’s foot-but he is ashamed of Joseph. I do not suppose this operates with many of you, but I have known it with some professed believers. When they were little in Israel, when they first professed to have found peace, oh how they acknowledged Jesus! But they got on in the world and prospered, and then they could not worship among those poor people who were good enough for them once-they now drive to a more fashionable place of worship, where the Lord Jesus is seldom heard of. They feel themselves bound to get into a higher class of society, as they call it, and the poor despised cause of Jesus is beneath them, forgetting, as they foolishly do, that the day will come when Christ’s cause shall be uppermost; when the world shall go down and the faithful followers of the Lord Jesus shall be peers and princes even in this world, and reign with him; he being King of kings and Lord of lords, and they sitting upon his throne and sharing in his royal dignity. I hope none of you have forgotten Christ because of that. I do not know, though-I have my fears of some of you. I do know this, that many a workingman thinks more of Christ while he is so than he does when he rises above his fellows. We have heard of one who used to give much when he was poor, but when he grew rich he gave less, and he said, “when I had a shilling purse I had a guinea heart, and wished I could do much more for Christ; but now I have a guinea purse, I find I have only a shilling heart, and I am for stinting and doing less.” Oh let it not be so! Shall it be that the more He gives the less we give, and the more He shows his love, the less we show our love? God forbid that we should do this, but by every tie of gratitude let us serve him more and more each day.
There was very great heinousness in this forgetfulness on the part of the butler, and he ought to have felt it. Perhaps the way for us to see our own fault is this. Suppose the butler had put himself in Joseph’s place and said, “Now I wonder what Joseph thinks of my conduct. Suppose I were Joseph in prison, and I had done this favor to some one else, how should I feel with regard to his forgetfulness?” My dear friends, can you suppose yourselves in Jesus Christ’s place? Suppose it possible that you could have died for another, and by your death could have saved him and made him the partaker of everlasting joys, what would you think of him if he treated you as you treat Jesus Christ? You would say, “I am ashamed of him. I regret that ever I spent so much love on such a thankless person.” Judge, then-judge your own case.
Again, he might have judged of the heinousness of his forgetfulness by considering his conduct as he would have considered it at the first. Suppose a prophet had told you, when you were first converted, that you would live as you have done, could you have believed it? You would have said “Never! If the Lord Jesus Christ does but take my burden off my back and set me free, there is nothing, which I will not do for him. I will be none of your cold, dead professors, not I.” But you have been, dear friends, you have been just as lukewarm as others. Judge of your sin as you would have judged of it at the first.
Again, will you please to judge of it as you judge of other people? What think you of other cold hearts? What think you of other chilly professors, whose lives are lukewarm, and whose love knows no fervency? Judge yourselves by the same judgment. Put your spirit in the same scale, and be humbled; yea, let every one of us lay his mouth in the dust as we confess this day that we are verily guilty concerning the Lord Jesus. Let us all remember our faults this day.
II. The second point is this-What Circumstances Brought The Fault To The Butler’s Mind? The same circumstances which surround us this morning.
First, he met with a person in the same condition as that in which he once was. King Pharaoh had dreamed a dream, and wished for an interpretation. Joseph could interpret; and the butler remembered his fault. Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are those in the world who are in the same state of mind as you were once in. They once loved sin and hated God, and were strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; but in some of them there has been the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit, and they have dreamed a dream. They are awakened, although not yet enlightened. Salvation is a riddle to them at present, and they want the interpretation. Do you not remember how the gospel was blessed to you? Do you not desire to send it to others? If you cannot preach yourself, will you not help me in my life-work of training others to preach Jesus? If I could bring before you this morning a score or two of anxious persons up from country villages and remote parts of our own land, you would say, “Oh, let me tell them about the Savior, or let me help to send some one to them who will do so.” That is just the effect I want to produce without using that means. I want to make you remember your Lord Jesus; practically remember him, by reminding you that there are persons who are now seeking him, who are now panting after him, who have not yet heard the gospel, and longing for some herald of peace to come to them and proclaim the good news. By the love of souls, aid me in my great anxiety to supply the needs of the age with a ministry called of God to preach his truth.
The next thing that recalled the butler’s thought was this; he saw that many means had been used to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, but they had alt failed. We read that Pharaoh sent for his wise men, but they could not interpret his dream. You are in a like case. There are thousands in England who are trying to minister to spiritual necessities; above all we have Popery in its double form, Romish and Anglican, doing its best to interpret the dream of the human heart. You know what a sad mess it makes of it; it gives a stone instead of bread, brings to poor, needy, guilty man, anything but the Savior he wants. Now, as you hear these foolish, wise men all blundering over the dream, do not you think of the Joseph who could interpret it? And as you hear these men holding up baptismal regeneration and sacramental salvation does not your tongue long to say, “O fools! O generation of simple tons! It is Christ Jesus who is the great interpreter; he alone can supply human necessities.” Do not you feel a want, if you cannot go and preach yourselves, to help others to do so? Will you recollect Jesus Christ as you recollect how many are perverting the gospel, and preaching anything rather than the merit of his cross? Pray remember your Lord today, and your faults concerning him; but let your remembrance lead to future diligence in his cause.
Then, again, if the butler could have known it, he had other motives for remembering Joseph. It was through Joseph that the whole land of Egypt was blessed. Joseph comes out of prison, and interprets the dream, which God had given to the head of the state, and that interpretation preserved all Egypt, yea, and all other nations during seven years of dearth. Only Joseph could do it. Oh brethren, you know that it is only Jesus who is the balm of Gilead, for the wounds of this poor dying world. You know that there is nothing, which can bless our land, and all other lands like the cross of Jesus Christ. Have you forgotten practically your Savior? Have you allowed his gospel to be by without preaching it yourselves or helping others to preach it? Have you suffered the precious truth of God to be like Joseph, hidden in prison, when you might have helped to bring it out into open court, that others might hear and know the sound which has made glad your own heart? Then, as you recollect England, the country of your love, as you recollect other lands, which in proportion are dear to you, will you not think of Jesus today, and do something for the promotion of his cause?
Once more, surely the butler would have remembered Joseph had he known to what an exaltation Joseph would be brought. Under God it was all through the butler saying “I remember Joseph,” that Joseph came out of prison, that he stood before Pharaoh, that he rode in the second chariot, that the heralds cried before him, “Bow the knee!” and that Joseph, the poor prisoner, became governor over the land of Egypt. Christian, would you like to lift up the name of Jesus from obscurity into the throne of the human heart? At this present moment throughout this world Jesus Christ is still the despised and rejected of men. Still is he a root out of a dry ground to the mass of mankind, and the only way in which he can be exalted is by loving hearts telling of him and helping others to tell of him. Think of the splendor, which yet will surround our Lord Jesus! He shall come, beloved, he shall come in the chariots of salvation. The day draweth nigh when all things shall be put under him. Kings shall yield their crowns to his superior sway, and whole sheaves of sceptres, plucked from tyrants’ hands, shall be gathered beneath his arm.
“Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious,
See the ’Man of Sorrows’ now;
From the fight return’d victorious,
Every knee to him shall bow.”
You by testifying of him are promoting the extension of his kingdom, and doing the best that in you lies to gather together the scattered who are to be the jewels of his crown. Surely the thought of his exaltation fires you with delight: the prospect of magnifying him, of setting him on high and helping to adorn his head, or even to strew the path beneath his feet, must fill your soul with a celestial ardor. Do not forget him then, but let the fact that you are in this position to-day, that you can glorify Jesus, that you can bless the world; let this encourage you to remember your faults this day.
III. In the last place, I have some few things to say by way of Commendation Of The Butler’s Remembrance.
It is a pity he forgot Joseph, but it is a great blessing that he did not always forget him. It is a sad thing that you and I should have done so little; it is a mercy that there is time left for us to do more. One of our dear friends said this morning, one of our beloved deacons, when I was asking him about some of the Churches he has been to visit-places where we are forming new Churches, what he thought of the work which was going on. “Oh,” he said, “it is such a glorious work, and God is so marvelous in it that I wish I were younger that I might live to see more of it.” He is not old, but he wished he were much younger, that he might see God’s gracious work going on for many years as it is now progressing through God’s grace in our midst. Our College is a mighty lever with which the Lord is working, and if God’s people knew more of it they would help it more.
I like the butler’s remembrance, first of all, because it was very humbling to him. He had to say it to Pharaoh, Pharaoh was wroth and put his servant in ward. That was not a very pleasant thing for the butler to say to the king, “My lord, you were angry with me and put me in prison.” But though it was a humbling thing, it was very necessary that he should say it too and be reminded of it. Let us go before God with the confession, “Lord, I was as base and vile as any: thy cross saved me; I was an heir of wrath even as others. Jesus did all this for me, blessed be his name, and I humble myself to think that I should so treacherously have forgotten him who was so kind to me.”
I commend his remembrance for another thing, namely, that it was so personal. I do remember my faults this day.” What capital memories we have for treasuring up other people’s faults, for once let us keep to ourselves. Let the confession begin with the minister. “I do remember my faults this day.” This is not the place for me to tell you of them, though I dare say you see them without any telling of mine, but I do remember them. They make a long list. My brethren in office-the deacons and elders-I have no charge against them, but I have no doubt they can all say, “I do remember my faults this day.” You, members of this Church, some old and grey, some young beginners, many of you parents and people in middle life, I suppose there is not one of you but what might say, “Yes; I do remember my faults this day.” Let it go round; do not let there be an exception to the case; but let each Christian, instead of thinking about others, make it a personal matter. “I do remember my faults this day.” I could wish that the unconverted here would join with us. Your fault-the great fault with you-is, that you do not believe in Jesus Christ, that you do not trust him with your souls, but are still strangers to him. I wish you could say, now, you up in that gallery there, each one of you, “I do remember my faults this day;” and the whole body of you down below stairs, and you around the pulpit, “I do remember my faults this day.” It is a good sign of true repentance when it is personal repentance. Every man must mourn apart, and every woman apart; the husband apart, and the wife apart; the brother apart, and the sister apart. “I do remember my faults this day.”
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Genesis 41". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany