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Christ's Pastoral Prayer for His People
September 1, 1889 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them." John 17:9-10 .
To begin with, I remark that our Lord Jesus pleads for his own people. When he puts on his priestly breastplate, it is for the tribes whose names are there. When he presents the atoning sacrifice, it is for Israel whom God hath chosen; and he utters this great truth, which some regard as narrow, but which we adore, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world." The point to which I want to call attention is this, the reason why Christ prays not for the world, but for his people. He puts it, "For they are thine," as if they wore all the dearer to him because they were the Father's: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine." We might have half thought that Jesus would have said, "They are mine, and therefore I pray for them." It would have been true; but there would not have been the beauty of truth about it which we have here. He loves us all the better, and he prays for us all the more fervently, because we are the Father's. Such is his love to his Father, that our being the Father's sheds upon us an extra halo of beauty. Because we belong to the Father, therefore does the Savior plead for us with all the greater earnestness at the throne of the heavenly grace. But this leads us on to remember that our Lord had undertaken suretyship engagements on account of his people; he undertook to preserve the Father's gift: "Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost." He looked upon the sheep of his pasture as belonging to his Father, and the Father had put them into his charge, saying to him, "Of thine hand will I require them." As Jacob kept his uncle's flocks, by day the heat devoured him, and at night the frost but he was more careful over them because they were Laban's than if they had been his own; he was to give in an account of all the sheep committed to him, and he did so, and he lost none of Laban's sheep; but his care over them was partly accounted for by the fact that they did not belong to himself, but belonged to his uncle Laban. Understand this twofold reason, then, for Christ's pastoral prayer for his people. He first prays for them because they belong to the Father, and therefore have it peculiar value in his eye; and next, because they belong to the Father, he is under suretyship engagements to deliver them all to the Father in that last great day when the sheep shall pass under the rod of him that telleth them. Now you see where I am bringing you to-night. I am not going to preach at this time to the world any more than Christ upon this occasion prayed for the world; but I am going to preach to his own people as he in this intercessory prayer pleaded for them. I trust that they will all follow me, step by step, through this great theme; and I pray the Lord that, in these deep central truths of the gospel we may find real refreshment for our souls to-night. I. In calling your attention to my text, I want you to notice, first, THE INTENSITY OF THE SENSE OF PROPERTY WHICH CHRIST HAS IN HIS PEOPLE. Here are six words selling forth Christ's property in those who are saved: "Them which thou hast given me" (that is one); "for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them." There are certain persons so precious to Christ that they are marked all over with special tokens that they belong to him; as I have known it man write his name in a book which he has greatly valued, and then he has turned over some pages, and he has written his name again; and as we have sometimes known persons, when they have highly valued a thing, to put their mark, their seal, their stamp, here, there, and almost everywhere upon it. So, notice in my text how the Lord seems to have the seal in his hand, and he stamps it all over his peculiar possession: "They are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine." It is all possessive pronouns, to show that God looks upon his people as his portion, his possession, his property. "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I makeup my jewels." Every man has something or other which he values above the rest of his estate; and here the Lord, by so often reiterating the words which signify possession, proves that he values his people above everything. Let us show that we appreciate this privilege of being set apart unto God; and let us each one say to him
"Take my poor heart, and let it be For ever closed to all but thee! Seal thou my breast, and let me wear That pledge of love for ever there."
I call your attention, next, to the fact that, while there are these six expressions here, they are all applied to the Lord's own people. "Mine" (that is, the saints) are thine (that is, the saints); "and thine" (that is, the saints) I are mine (that is, the saints). These broad arrows of the King of kings are all stamped upon his people. While the, marks of possession are numerous, they are all set upon one object. What, doth not God care for anything else? I answer, No; as compared with his own people, he cares for nothing else. "The Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." Has not God other things? Ah, what is there that he has not? The silver and the gold are his, and the cattle on a thousand hills. All things are of God; of him, and by him, and through him, and to him are all things; yet he reckons them not in comparison with his people. You know how you, dearly beloved, value your children much more than you do anything else. If there were a fire in your house to-night, and you could only carry one thing out of it, mother, would you hesitate a moment as to what that one thing should be? You would carry your babe, and let everything else be consumed in the flames; and it is so with God. He cares for his people beyond everything else. He is the Lord God of Israel, and in Israel he hath set his name, and there he takes his delight. There doth he rest in his love, and over her doth he rejoice with singing. I want you to notice these different points, not because I can fully explain them all to you; but if I can only give you some of these great truths to think about, and to help you to communion with Christ tonight, I shall have done well. I want you to remark yet further, concerning these notes of possession, that they occur in the private intercourse between the Father and the Son. It is in our Lord's prayer, when he is in the inner sanctuary speaking with the Father, that we have these words, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine." It is not to you and to me that he is talking now; the Son of God is speaking with the Father when they are in very near communion one with the other. Now, what does this say to me but that the Father and the Son greatly value believers? What people talk about when they are alone, not what they say in the market, not what they talk of in the midst of the confused mob, but what they say when they are in private, that lays bare their heart. Here is the Son speaking to the Father, not about thrones and royalties, nor cherubim and seraphim, but about poor men and women, in those days mostly fishermen and peasant folk, who believed on him. They are talking about these people, and the Son is taking his own solace with the Father in their secret privacy by talking about these precious jewels, these dear ones that are their peculiar treasure. You have not any notion how much God loves you. Dear brother, dear sister, you have never yet had half an idea, or the tithe of an idea, of how precious you are to Christ. You think, because you are so imperfect, and you fall so much below your own ideal, that, therefore, he does not love you much; you think that he cannot do so. Have you ever measured the depth of Christ's agony in Gethsemane, and of his death on Calvary? If you have tried to do so, you will be quite sure that, apart from anything in you or about you, he loves you with a love that passeth knowledge. Believe it. "But I do not love him as I should," I think I hear you say. No, and you never will unless you first know his love to you. Believe it; believe it to the highest degree, that he so loves you that, when there is no one who can commune with him but the Father, even then their converse is about their mutual estimate of you, how much they love you: "All mine are thine, and thine are mine." Only one other thought under this head, and I do but put it before you, and leave it with you, for I cannot expound it to-night. All that Jesus says is about all his people, for he says, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine." These high, secret talks are not about some few saints who have reached a "higher life", but about all of us who belong to him. Jesus bears all of us on his heart, and he speaks of us all to the Father: "All mine are thine." "That poor woman who could never serve her Lord except by patient endurance, she is mine," says Jesus. "She is thine, great Father." "That poor girl, newly-converted, whose only spiritual life was spent upon a sick-bed, and then she exhaled to heaven, like a dewdrop of the morning, she is mine, and she is thine. That poor child of mine, who often stumbles, who never brought much credit to the sacred name, he is mine, and he is thine. All mine are thine." I seem as if I heard a silver bell ringing out; the very tones of the words are like the music from the harps of angels: "Mine, thine; thine, mine." May such sweet risings and fallings of heavenly melodies charm all our ears! I think that I have said enough to show you the intensity of the sense of property which Christ has in his people: "All mine are thine, and thine are mine." II. The next head of my discourse is, THE INTENSITY OF UNITED INTEREST BETWEEN THE FATHER AND THE SON CONCERNING BELIEVERS. First, let me say that Jesus loves us because we belong to the Father. Turn that truth over. "My Father has chosen them, my Father loves them; therefore," says Jesus, "I love them, and I lay down my life for them, and I will take my life again for them, and live throughout eternity for them. They are dear to me because they are dear to my Father." Have you not often loved another person for the sake of a third one upon whom all your heart was set? There is an old proverb, and I cannot help quoting it just now; it is, "Love me, love my dog." It is as if the Lord Jesus so loved the Father that even such poor dogs as we are get loved by him for his Father's sake. To the eyes of Jesus we are radiant with beauty because God hath loved us. Now turn that thought round the other way, the Father loves us because we belong to Christ. At first, the Father's love in election was sovereign and self-contained; but now, to-day, since he has given us over to Christ, he takes a still greater delight in us. "They are my Son's sheep," says he; "he bought them with his blood." Better Stilly "That is my Son's spouse," says he, "that is my Son's bride. I love her for his sake." There was that first love which came fresh from the Father's heart, but now, through this one channel of love to Jesus, the Father pours a double flood of love on us for his dear Son's sake. He sees the blood of Jesus sprinkled on us; he remembers the token, and for the sake of his beloved Son he prizes us beyond all price. Jesus loves us because we belong to the Father, and the Father loves us because we belong to Jesus. Now come closer still to the central thought of the text, All mine are thine." All who are the Son's are the Father's. Do we belong to Jesus? Then we belong to the Father. Have I been washed in the precious blood? Can I sing to-night
"The dying thief rejoiced to see That fountain in his day; And there have I, though vile as he, Washed all my sins away"?
Then, by redemption I belong to Christ; but at the same time I may be sure that I belong to the Father: "All mine are thine." Are you trusting in Christ? Then you are one of God's elect. That high and deep mystery of predestination need trouble no man's heart if he be a believer in Christ. If thou believest in Christ, Christ hath redeemed thee, and the Father chose thee from before the foundation of the world. Rest thou happy in that firm belief, "All mine are thine." How often have I met with people puzzling themselves about election! They want to know if they are elect. No man can come to the Father but by Christ; no man can come to election except through redemption. If you have come to Christ, and are his redeemed, it is certain beyond all doubt that you were chosen of God, and are the Father's elect. "All mine are thine." So, if I am bought by Christ's precious blood, I am not to sit down, and say how grateful I am to Christ as though he were apart from the Father, and more loving and more tender than the Father. No, no; I belong to the Father if I belong to Christ; and I have for the Father the same gratitude, the same love, and I would render the same service as to Jesus; for Jesus puts it, "All mine are thine." If, to-night, also, I am a servant of Christ, if, because he bought me, I try to serve him, then I am a servant of the Father if I am a servant of the Son. "All mine, whatever position they occupy, belong to thee, great Father," and they have all the privileges which come to those who belong to the Father. I hope that I do not weary you; I cannot make these things entertaining to the careless I do not try to do so; but you who love my Lord, and his truth, ought to rejoice to-night to think that, in being the property of Christ, you are assured that you are the property of the Father. "All mine are thine."
"With Christ our Lord we share our part In the affections of his heart; Nor shall our souls be thence removed Till he forgets his first-beloved."
But now you have to look at the other part of it: "and thine are mine." All who are the Father's are the Son's. If you belong to the Father, you belong to the Son. If you are elect, and so the Father's, you are redeemed, and so the Son's. If you are adopted, and so the Father's, you are justified in Christ, and so you are the Son's. If you are regenerated, and so are begotten of the Father, yet still your life is dependent upon the Son. Remember that, while one Biblical figure sets us forth as children who have each one a life within himself, another equally valid figure represents us as branches of the Vine, which die unless they continue united to the stem. "All thine are mine." If you are the Father's, you must be Christ's. If your life is given you of the Father, it still depends entirely upon the Son. What, a wonderful mixture all this is! The Father and the Son are one, and we are one with the Father and 'with the Son. A mystic union is established between us and the Father, by reason of our union with the Son, and the Son's union with the Father. See to what a glorious height our humanity has risen through Christ. By the grace of God, ye who were like stones in the brook are made sons of God. Lifted out of your dead materialism, you are elevated into a spiritual life, and you are united unto God. You have not any idea to-night of what God has already done for you, and truly it doth not yet appear what you shall be. A Christian man is the noblest work of God. God has hero reached the fullness of his power and his grace, in making us to be one with his own dear Son, and so bringing us into union and communion with himself. Oh, if the words that I speak could convey to you the fullness of their own meaning, you might spring to your feet, electrified with holy joy to think of this, that we should be Christ's, and the Father's, and that we should be thought worthy to be the object of intricate transactions and inter-communions of the dearest kind between the Father and the Son! We, even we, who are but dust and ashes at our very best, are favored as angels never were; therefore let all praise be ascribed to sovereign grace! III. And now I shall only detain you a few minutes longer while I speak upon the third part of our subject, that is, THE GLORY OF CHRIST: "And I am glorified in them." I must confess that, while the former part of my subject was very deep, this third part seems to me to be deeper still, "I am glorified in them." If Christ had said, "I will glorify them," I could have understood it. If he had said, "I am pleased with them," I might have set it down to his great kindness to them; but when he says, "I am glorified in them," it is very wonderful. The sun can be reflected, but you need proper objects to act as reflectors; and the brighter they are, the better will they reflect. You and I do not seem to have the power of reflecting Christ's glory; we break up the glorious rays that shine upon us; we spoil, we ruin so much of the good that falls upon us. Yet Christ says that he is glorified in us. Take these words home, dear friend, to yourself, and think that the Lord Jesus met you to-night, and as you went out of the Tabernacle, said to you, "Thou art mine, thou art my Father's; and I am glorified in thee." I dare not say that it would be a proud moment for you; but I dare to say that there would be more in it to make you feel exalted for him to say, "I am glorified in you," than if you could have all the honors that all the kings can put upon all men in the world. I think that I could say, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word," if he would but say to me, "I am glorified in thy ministry." I hope that he is; I believe that he is; but, oh, for an assuring word, if not spoken to us personally, yet spoken to his Father about us, as in our text, "I am glorified in them"! How can this be? Well, it is a very wide subject. Christ is glorified in his people in many ways. He is glorified by saving such sinners, taking these people, so sinful, so lost, so unworthy. When the Lord lays hold upon a drunkard, a thief, an adulterer, when he arrests one who has been guilty of blasphemy, whose very heart is reeking with evil thoughts, when he picks up the far-off one, the abandoned, the dissolute, the fallen, as he often does, and when he says, "These Shall be mine; I will wash these in my blood; I will use these to Speak my word," oh, then, he is glorified in them! Read the lives of many great sinners who have afterwards become great saints, and you will see how they have tried to glorify him, not only she who washed his feet with her tears, but many another like her. Oh, how they have loved to praise him! Eyes have wept tears, lips have spoken words, but hearts have felt what neither eyes nor lips could speak, of adoring gratitude to him. "I am glorified in them." Great sinners, Christ is glorified in you. Some of you Pharisees, if you were to be converted, would not bring Christ such glory as he gets through saving publicans and harlots. Even if you struggled into heaven, it would be with very little music for him on the road, certainly no tears and no ointment for his feet, and no wiping them with the hairs of your head. You are too respectable ever to do that; but when he saves great sinners, he can truly say, "I am glorified in them," and each of them can sing,
"It passeth praises, that dear love of thine, My Jesus, Savior: yet this heart of mine Would sing that love, so full, so rich, so free, Which brings a rebel sinner, such as me, Nigh unto God."
And Christ is glorified by the perseverance which he shows in the matter of their salvation. See how he begins to save, and the man resists. He follows up his kind endeavor, and the man rebels. He hunts him, pursues him, dogs his footsteps. He will have the man, and the man will not have him. But the Lord, without violating the free will of man, which he never does, yet at length brings the one who was most unwilling to lie at his feet, and he that hated most begins to love, and he that was most stouthearted bows the knee in lowliest humility. It is wonderful how persevering the Lord is in the salvation of a sinner; ay, and in the salvation of his own, for you would have broken loose long ago if your great Shepherd had not penned you up within the fold. Many of you would have started aside, and have lost yourselves, if it bad not been for constraints of sovereign grace which have kept you to this day, and will not let you go. Christ is glorified in you. Oh, when you once get to heaven, when the angels know all that you were, and all that you tried to be, when the whole story of almighty, infinite grace is told, as it will be told, then will Christ be glorified in you! Beloved, we actively glorify Christ when we display Christian graces. You who are loving, forgiving, tender-hearted, gentle, meek, self-sacrificing, you glorify him; he is glorified in you. You who are upright, and who will not be moved from your integrity, you who can despise the sinner's gold, and will not sell your conscience for it, you who are bold and brave for Christ, you who can bear and suffer for his name's sake, all your graces come from him. As all the flowers are bred and begotten of the sun, so all that is in you that is good comes from Christ, the Sun of righteousness; and therefore he is glorified in you. But, beloved, God's people have glorified Christ in many other ways. When they make him the object of all their trust, they glorify him, when they say, Though I am the chief of sinners, yet, I trust him; though my mind is dark, and though my temptations abound, I believe that he can save to the uttermost, I do trust him." Christ is more glorified by a sinner's humble faith than by a seraph's loudest song. If thou believest, thou dost glorify him. Child of God, are you to-night very dark, and dull, and heavy? Do you feel half dead, spiritually? Come to your Lord's feet, and kiss them, and believe that he can save, nay, that he has saved you, even you; and thus you will glorify his holy name. "Oh!" said a believer, the other day, "I know whom I have believed; Christ is mine." "Ah!" said another," that is presumption." Beloved, it is nothing of the kind; it is not presumption for a child to own his own father; it might be pride for him to be ashamed of his father; it is certainly great alienation from his father if he is ashamed to own him. "I know whom I have believed." Happy state of heart, to be absolutely sure that you are resting upon Christ, that be is your Savior, that you believe in him, for Jesus said, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." I believe on him, and I have everlasting life. "He that believeth on him is not condemned." I believe on him, and I am not condemned. Make sure work of this, not only by signs and evidences, but do even better; make the one sign and the one evidence to be this, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; I, a sinner, accept his great sacrifice, and I am saved." Especially, I think that God's people glorify Christ by a cheerful conversation. If you go about moaning and mourning, pining and complaining, you bring no honor to his name; but if, when thou fastest, thou appear not unto men to fast, if thou canst wear a cheerful countenance, even when thy heart is heavy, and if, above all, thou canst rally thy spirit out of its depths, and begin to bless God when the cupboard is empty, and friends are few, then thou wilt indeed glorify Christ. Many are the ways in which this good work may be done; let us try to do it. "I am glorified in them," says Christ; that is, by their bold confession of Christ. Do I address myself to any here who love Christ, but who have never owned it? Do come out, and come out very soon. He deserves to have all the glory that you can give him. If he has healed you, be not like the nine who forgot that Christ had healed their leprosy. Come and praise the name of the great Healer, and let others know what Christ can do. I am afraid that there are a great many here to-night who hope that they are Christians, but they have never said so. What are you ashamed of? Ashamed of your Lord? I am afraid that you do not, after all, love him. Now, at this time, at this particular crisis of the history of the Church and the world, if we do not publicly take sides with Christ, we shall really be against him. The time is come now when we cannot afford to have go-betweens. You must be for him or for his enemies; and to-night he asks you if you are really his, to say it. Come forward, unite yourself with his people, and let it be seen by your life and conversation that you do belong to Christ. If not, how can it be true, "I am glorified in them"? Is Christ glorified in a non-confessing people, a people that hope to go slinking into heaven by the by-roads or across the fields, but dare not come into the King's highway, and travel with the King's subjects, and own that the belong to him? Lastly, I think that Christ is glorified in his people by their efforts to extend his kingdom. What efforts are you making? There is a great deal of force in a church like this; but I am afraid that there is a great deal of waste steam, waste power here. The tendency is, so often, to leave everything to be done by the minister, or else by one or two leading people; but I do pray you, beloved, if you be Christ's, and if you belong to the Father, if, unworthy though you be, you are claimed with a double ownership by the Father and the Son, do try to be of use to them. Let it be seen by your winning others to Christ that he is glorified in you. I believe that, by diligent attendance to even the smallest Sabbath-school class, Christ is glorified in you. By that private conversation in your own room, by that letter which you dropped into the post with many a prayer, by anything that you have done with a pure motive, trusting in God in order to glorify Christ, he is glorified in you. Do not mistake my meaning with regard to serving the Lord. I think it exceedingly wrong when I hear exhortations made to young people, "Quit your service as domestics, and come out into spiritual work. Business men, leave your shops. Workmen, give up your trades. You cannot serve Christ in that calling, come away from it altogether." I beg to say that nothing will be more pestilent than such advice as that. There are men called by the grace of God to separate themselves from every earthly occupation, and they have special gifts for the work of the ministry; but ever to imagine that the bulk of Christian people cannot serve God in their daily calling, is to think altogether contrary to the mind of the Spirit of God. If you are a servant, remain a servant. If you are a waiter, go on with your waiting. If you are a tradesman, go on with your trade. Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called, unless there be to him some special call from God to devote himself to the ministry. Go on with your employment, dear Christian people, and do not imagine that you are to turn hermits, or monks, or nuns. You would not glorify God if you did so act. Soldiers of Christ are to fight the battle out where they are. To quit the field, and shut yourselves up alone, would be to render it impossible that you should get the victory. The work of God is as holy and acceptable in domestic service, or in trade, as any service that can be rendered in the pulpit, or even by the foreign missionary. We thank God for the men specially called and set apart for his own work; but we know that they would do nothing unless the salt of our holy faith should permeate the daily life of other Christians. You godly mothers, you are the glory of the Church of Christ. You hard-working men and women, who endure patiently "as seeing him who is invisible," are the crown and glory of the Church of God. You who do not shirk your daily labor, but stand manfully to it, obeying Christ in it, are proving what the Christian religion was meant to do. We can, if we are truly priests unto God, make our everyday garments into vestments, our meals into sacraments, and our houses into temples for God's worship. Our very beds will be within the veil, and our inmost thoughts will be as a sweet incense perpetually smoking up to the Most High. Dream not that there is anything about any honest calling that degrades a man, or hinders him in glorifying God; but sanctify it all, till the bells, upon the horses shall ring out, "Holiness to the Lord," and the pots in your houses shall be as holy as the vessels of the sanctuary. Now, I want that we should so come to the communion-table tonight, that even here Christ may be glorified in us. Ah, you may sit at the Lord's table wearing a fine dress or a diamond ring, and you may think that you are somebody of importance, but you are not! Ah, you may come to the Lord's table, and say, "Here is an experienced Christian man who knows a thing or two." You are not glorifying Christ that way; you are only a nobody. But if you come to-night saying, "Lord, I am hungry, thou canst feed me; that is glorifying him. If you come saying, "Lord, I have no merit, and no worthiness, I come because thou hast died for me, and I trust thee," you are glorifying him. He glorifies Christ most who takes most from him, and who then gives most back to him. Come, empty pitcher, come and be filled; and, when thou art filled, pour all out at the dear feet of him who filled thee. Come, trembler, come and let him touch thee with his strengthening hand, and then go out and work, and use the strength which he has given thee. I fear that I have not led you where I wanted to bring you, close to my Lord and to the Father, yet I have done my best. May the Lord forgive my feebleness and wandering, and yet bless you for his dear name's sake! Amen.
Christ's Prayer for His People
October 21, 1855 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." John 17:15 .
This prayer of Christ is an ever precious portion to all true believers, from the fact that each of them has an inalienable interest in it. Every one of us, beloved, when we listen to the words of Christ should recollect that he is praying for us; that while it is for the great body of his elect he intercedes in this chapter and the one preceding it, yet it is also for each believer in particular that he offers intercession. However weak we are, however poor; however little our faith, or however small our grace may be, our names are still written on his heart; nor shall we lose our share in Jesus' love. I will proceed at once to the discussion of the text as my time is limited. First, there is a negative prayer: "I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world;" second, here is a positive prayer; but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." We have then a negative prayer in this verse. "I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world. "Now, beloved, when we see persons converted to God, when men are turned front iniquity unto righteousness, from sinners into saints, the thought sometimes strikes us would it not be good to take them at once to heaven, would it not be an excellent thing to translate them speedily from the realms of sin to the breast of the Lord who loved them with an everlasting love? Would it not be wiser to take the young plants out of the chilly air of this world, where they may possibly be injured and weakened, and transplant them at once to the land where they may bloom in peace and tranquility for ever? Not so, however, does Jesus pray. When the man had the devils cast out of him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, I would follow thee whithersoever thou goest. "But Jesus said to him, "Go to thy friends and relations, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee." Some men when they are converted are all for going speedily to heaven; but they have not done with earth yet. They would like to wear the crown without bearing the cross, they desire to win without running, and conquer without a battle, but their whim has no countenance from Jesus, for he exclaims, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world." I shall first of all speak of the meanings of this prayer; secondly, the reasons of this prayer; thirdly, the doctrinal inferences that we may derive from it; and fourthly, the practical lessons it teaches. Briefly on each point. I. First. THE MEANINGS OF THIS PRAYER. "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world. "Now, there are two senses in which this prayer may be understood. One is, he prays not that they should, by retirement and solitude, be kept entirely separate from the world; and the second, he asks not that they should be taken away by death. First, as regards retirement from the World and solitude. Some hermits and others have fancied that if we were to shut ourselves from the world and live alone, we should then be more devoted to God and serve him better. Many men of old lived in deserts, never coming into the cities, wandering about alone, praying in caves and forests, and thinking they were contaminated, and rendered impure if once they mingled with mankind. So have we among the Roman Catholics, persons who act the part of hermits, living far from the common haunts of men, and conceiving that by so doing they shall abundantly serve God. There are also certain orders of monks and nuns who live almost alone, seeing only their fellows, and fancying that by seclusion they are putting honor upon God, and winning salvation for themselves. Now it is too late in the day for any of as to speak against monasticism. It has demonstrated its own fallacy. It was found that some of those men who had separated from society were guilty of more vile and vicious practices, and sinned more grossly than men who were in the world. There are not many who can depart from the customs of social life, and in solitude maintain their spirit pure and unsullied. Why, brethren, common sense tells us at once that living alone is not the way to serve God. It may be the way to serve self, and wrap ourselves in a garment of self-complacency; but it cannot be the way to worship God truly. If it be possible, by this means, to fulfil one part of the great law of God, we cannot, possibly carry out the other portion to love our neighbour as ourselves, for we thus become unable to bind up the broken-hearted, to bring the wanderer back, or to win souls from death and sin. Out of the heart proceedeth all evil, and if we were in retirement we should sin, because we should carry our hearts with us into whatever solitude we entered. If we could but once get rid of our hearts, if there were some means of rendering our natures perfect, then we might be able to live alone; but, as we now are, that door must be well listed that would keep out the devil; that cell must be much secluded that sin cannot enter. I have heard of a man who thought he could live without sin if he were to dwell alone; so he took a pitcher of water and a store of bread, and provided some wood, and shut himself up in a solitary cell saying, " Now I shall live in peace." But in a moment or two he chanced to kick the pitcher over, and he thereupon used an angry expression. Then he said, "I see it is possible to lose one's temper even when alone;" and he at once returned to live among men. But it may be understood in a second sense. "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of this world" by death. That is a sweet and blessed mode of taking us out of the world, which will happen to us all by-and-by. In a few more years the chariot of fire and the horses of fire will take away the Lord's soldiers. But Jesus does not pray that one of his chosen people should be too soon removed, he does not desire to see his newly begotten souls plume their wings and fly aloft to heaven until their time shall come. How frequently does the wearied pilgrim put up the prayer, "O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest. "But Christ does not pray like that; he leaves it to his Father, until, like shocks of corn fully ripe, we shall each of us be gathered into our Master's garner. Jesus does not plead for our immediate removal by death. He asks that we may do well in the world, but he never asks for us to be gathered in before we are ripe. Thus I have explained the two meanings of the words, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world" either by living retired from men, or being taken away by death. II. Now the second point WAS THE REASON FOR THIS PETITION. These reasons are threefold, Christ does not pray that we should be taken out of the world, because our abode here is for our own good, for the world's benefit, and for his glory. First, it would not be for our own good to be taken out of this world. I leave out the first idea of the text, and only speak of it concerning death. We conceive that the greatest blessing we shall ever receive of God is to die; but doubtless it would not be for our good to withdraw from this world as soon as we had escaped from sin. It is better for us to tarry a little while; far better. And the reasons for this are first, because a little stay on earth will make heaven all the sweeter. Nothing makes rest so sweet as toil; nothing can render security so pleasant as a long exposure to alarms, and fears, and battles. No heaven will be so sweet as a heaven, which has been preceded by torments and pains. Methinks the deeper draughts of woe we drink here below, the sweeter will be those draughts of eternal glory which we shall receive from the golden bowls of bliss; the more we are battered and scarred on earth the more glorious will be our victory above, when the shouts of a thousand times ten thousand angels welcome us to our Father's palace. The more trials the more bliss, the more sufferings the more ecstasies, the more depression the higher the exaltation. Thus we shall gain more of heaven by the sufferings we shall pass through here below. Let us not then, my brethren, fear to advance through our trials: they are for our good; to stop here awhile is for our benefit. Why! we should not know how to converse in heaven if we had not a few trials and hardships to tell of, and some tales of delivering grace to repeat with joy. An old sailor likes to have passed through a few shipwrecks and storms, however hazardous they may have been, for he anchors in Greenwich Hospital, he will there tell, with great pleasure, to his companions, of his hair-breadth escapes. There will be some old soldiers in heaven, too, who will recount their fights, how their Master delivered them, and how he won the victory and kept off all their foes. Again, we should not have fellowship with Christ if we did not stop here. Fellowship with Christ is so honorable a thing that it is worth while to suffer, that we may thereby enjoy it. You have sometimes heard me express a desire that I might be in the number of those who shall be alive and remain, and so shall escape death, but a dear friend of mine says, he had rather die, in order that he might thus have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings, and methinks the thought finds an echo in my own breast. To die with Jesus makes death a perfect treasure, to be a follower in the grave with him makes death a pleasure. Moreover, you and I might be taken for cowards, although we may have fellowship with him in his glory, if we had no scars to prove the sufferings we had passed through, and the wounds we had received for his name. Thus, again you see it is for our good to be here; we should not have known fellowship with the Saviour, if we had not tarried here a little while. I should never have known the Saviour's love half so much if I had not been in the storms of affliction. How sweet it is to learn the Saviour's love when nobody else loves us! When friends flee away, what a blessed thing it is to see that the Saviour does not forsake us but still keeps us, and holds fast by us, and clings to us, and will not let us go! O beloved brother and sister, believe that your remaining here on earth is for your eternal benefit, and therefore Jesus said. "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world." And again, it is for the good of other people. Methinks we should all be willing to remain on earth for the good of others. Why may not saints die as soon as they are converted? For this reason: because God meant that they should be the means of the salvation of their brethren. You would not, surely, wish to go out of the world if there were a soul to be saved by you. Methinks if I could go to glory before I had converted all the souls allotted to me, I should not be happy; but that would be impossible, for God will not shut his saints in till they have been spiritual fathers to those appointed. We do not wish to enter heaven till our work is done, for it would make us uneasy on our beds if there were one single soul left to be saved by our means. Tarry, then, Christian; there is a brand to be plucked out of the fire, a sinner to be saved from his sins, a rebel to be turned from the error of his ways, and may hap that sinner is one of thy relatives. May hap, poor widow, that art spared in this world, because there is a wayward son of thine not yet saved, and God hath designed to make thee the favored instrument of bringing him to glory. And thou hoary-headed Christian, it may be that though "the grasshopper is a burden to thee," and thou longest to go, thou art kept here because one of thy offspring, by thy instrumentality, is yet to be saved. Tarry, then, for thy son's sake, who came from thy loins. I know how deeply thou dost love him, and for his sake surly thou art content to be left here a little, counting it for the best that thou mayest bring in thy son to glory with thee. But the third mason is because it is for God's glory. A tried saint brings more glory to God than an untried one. I do verily think in my own soul that a believer in a dungeon reflects more glory on his Master than a believer in paradise, that a child of God in the burning fiery furnace, whose hair is yet unscorched, and upon whom the smell of the fire has not passed, displays more the glory of Godhead than even he who stands with a crown upon his head, perpetually singing praises before the Father's throne. Nothing reflects so much honor on a workman as a trial of his work, and its endurance of it. So with God. It honors him when his saints preserve their integrity. Peter honored Christ more when he walked upon the water, than when he stood upon the land. There was no glory given to God by his walking on the solid shore, but there was glory reflected when he trod upon the water. Peter saw the Lord coming on the water, and he said to him, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus." What may we not go through, Christians, at his command? O methinks we could rise and cut Agag to pieces, and hew the devil himself and break his head, through the power of Jesus. It is then for the glory of Jesus that we yet tarry. If my lying in the dust would elevate Christ one inch higher, I would say, "O let me remain, for it is sweet! to be here for the Lord." And if to live here for ever would make Christ more glorious, I would prefer to live here eternally. If we could but add more jewels to the crown of Christ by remaining here, why should we wish to be taken out of the world? We should say, "It is blessed to be anywhere, where we can glorify him." III. The third point is THE DOCTRINAL INFERENCE WE MAY DERIVE FROM THIS PRAYER. The first inference Death is God taking the people out of the world; and when we die we are removed by God. Death is not an independent being, who comes at his own will, to carry us away when he pleases. In fact, it is not true that death does take away the Christian at all: God alone can remove his children from this world. Whether the humble peasant, or the reigning monarch, one hand lifts them to the sky. You will see this by referring to the Revelation where the vintage of the wicked is gathered by an angel, but the harvest of the righteous is reaped by Christ himself. "And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over the fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God." These were the wicked. But, if you go to the preceding passage, it says, "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is Come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped." Christ is the reaper who cuts his own corn. He will not trust an angel to do it. God alone has the issues of life in his hand. The next thing is that dying is not of one-half so much importance as living to Christ." I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world." He does not make their dying an object of prayer, "but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." He prays that they should be preserved in life, knowing that their death would assuredly follow rightly, as a matter of course. Many say one to the other, "Have you heard that so-and-so is dead?" "How did he die?" They should rather say, "How did he live?" It may be an important question,-how does a man die; but the most important question is, "How does a man live?" What a curious notion people get about death! The question they ask is not whether a man dies in the Lord Jesus, but, "Has he had a very easy death? Did he die gently?" If so, they conclude that all is well. If I ask, "Had he any affection to trust in Christ?" the reply probably will be, "Well, at all events, I thought he had; he had a very easy death." People think so much of an easy death. If there are no pains in death, if they are not in trouble, and not plagued like others, they falsely conclude all to be well. But though like sheep they are laid in the grave, they may awaken to destruction in the morning. It is not a sign of grace that our dying is easy. It is natural for persons in the decay of strength to die easily. Many of the most vicious men, who have destroyed the power of their bodies, have an easy, painless death, from the fact that there is nothing to struggle against death; but, then, though they die like lambs, they wake up in sorrow. Do not put any confidence in death-beds, my dear friends; do not look on them as evidences of Christianity. The greatest evidence is not how a man dies, but how he lives. IV. The practical lesson we learn from this part of the text "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world" Is this, that we never have any encouragement peevishly to ask God to let us die. Christians are always wanting to die when they have any trouble or trial. You ask them why? "Because we would be with the Lord." O yes, they want to be with the Lord, when trouble and temptations come upon them. But it is not because they are "panting to be with the Lord," it is because they desire to get rid of their troubles else they would not want to die at all times when a little vexation is upon them. They want to get home, not so much for the Saviour's company, as to get out of the little hard work. They did not wish to go away when they were in quiet and prosperity. Like lazy fellows, as most of us are, when we get into a little labour we beg to go home. It is quite right sometimes that you should desire to depart, because you would not prove yourself to be a true Israelite if you did not want to go to Jerusalem. You may pray to be taken home out of the world, but Christ will not take up the petition. When your prayers come to the Lord, this little one may try to got amongst them, but Christ will say, "I do not know anything about you, 'I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world."' You may wish it sincerely, and really desire it, but you will not at present get your Master to pray with you. Instead, then, of crying, or wishing to be away from the battle, brace yourself up in the name of the Lord. Think every wish to escape the fight, is but a desertion of your Master. Do not so much as think of rest, but remember, that though you may cry, "Let me retire into the tent," you will not be admitted until you return a victor. Therefore, stop here, and work and labour. My dear friends, I had intended to preach from the other half of the verse, but that is quite impossible, the time is so far gone, and I can only manage the first part thereof. So I must depart from my original intention; and I will restrict myself to some thoughts which occur to me upon the first portion of our text. "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world." Perhaps, to-morrow you will be saying, "I am very sorry Sabbath-day is over. I am obliged to go to business again. I wish it were always Sunday, that I attend to my preaching, or to the schools, or to the prayer-meeting, or to the tract-distributing. No obstructions of the world afflict me there, no vexatious of the spirit occur there. I am sick of the world. Oh! if I could never go into it again." Let me jog thy elbow a bit. Does Jesus think so? Hear him! "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world." There is no remedy for the ill, if it be an ill, therefore endure it with becoming fortitude; yea, rather seek to improve the opportunity thus afforded you, of conferring a blessing upon your race, and of gaining advantages for yourselves. The pious mind will know how to improve the very sight of sin to its own sanctification. It will learn humility when it remembers that restraining grace alone prevents a similar fault in itself. It will gather subjects for gratitude and admiration from the fact, that grace alone has made it to differ. Never shall we value grace so much as when we see the evil front which it delivers us, never shall we more abhor sin than when we discern its visible deformity. Bad society is in itself like the poisonous cassava, but if baked in the fire of grace it may even be rendered useful. True grace casts salt into the poisonous stream, and then when forced to ford it, the filth thereof is destroyed. Abide, then, O soldier, in the trenches of labour and battle, for the hardness of service is beneficial to thee. But remember while here that thou losest no opportunity of attacking the foe. Never miss an opportunity of having a shot at the devil. Be ready on all occasion to do mischief to the enemy. In business, drop a word of savour and unction; in company, turn the conversation heavenward; in private, wrestle at the throne. I do not advise you to intrude religion at unseasonable hours. I do not conceive it to be your duty when a customer calls to pay a bill to ask him into your office and spend half an hour in prayer with him, nor would I think it needful to sanctify your ribbons and shawls by exhorting the purchasers across the counter. Some have not been quite innocent of the charge of cant who make as much use of religion to attract customers, as they do of their plate glass window. Do not talk of religion to be heard of men, but when a fair opportunity offers, out with your rifle and take a steady aim. Cromwell's singular advice to his soldiers was, "Trust in God, my friends, and keep your powder dry." In a better sense this is mine. More than all keep up a continual fire on the emeny by a holy life. Nothing will more reprove sin than your holiness. If you cannot tell the stick it Is crooked, you can prove it to be so, by laying a straight one side by side with it. So put your purity before the impure, and they will be effectually reproved. Well then, again, do not be afraid to go out into the world to do good. Christ is keeping you in the world for the advantage of your fellow-men. I am sometimes wicked enough to think that I would rather go anywhere than stand up again and preach my Master's gospel. Like Jonah, I have thought I would really pay my fare to be carried away to Tarshish, instead of coming back to Nineveh. So would some of you who have tried to preach, and found you could not succeed as you desired. But do not be down-hearted, my brother; a Christian should never get so. If you have but one listener to-day, perhaps the next time the number will be doubled, and so on, till they cannot be counted. Never say, "I wish to go out of this world:" do not murmur, "My life Is prolonged beyond my joys." Do what you can. Do not go amongst people with fear; do not be ashamed to look duty in the face. If you are not successful at first, do not he cowards and run away from your guns. We should do all we can to bring our guns into line with our brothers, and take good aim at our foes. Never desert your work, though you come home distressed in spirit, though you see no gleam of success, and nothing is gained. Recollect, you cannot run out of the battle, but you must go on; and you cannot escape the service. On then, and glory shall be yours. Now, my brethren, what bearing has this text upon the ungodly? There are some here, my dear friends, of whom I have sometimes thought that I could almost pray that God should take them out of the world. I can tell you why; they are so wicked so dreadfully wicked, such hardened reprobates, with such iron souls, that they seem as if they never would be turned to God, and whose portion it would appear to be damned themselves, and to lead others to the same condition. I know a village where there is a man so vicious, so abandoned, that I could almost pray for him to be removed out of the world; he is so awfully wicked that many of those I thought hopeful Christians have been poisoned by his example. Indeed he seemed to be depraving the entire population. He stands like a deadly Upas tree, with outspread branches, overshadowing the whole place. He is consuming all around him; and instead of it being a mercy for him to be here, it would be like a mercy if he were gone. Are not some of you like that man? Are you not so bad that you are doing all the mischief in the world you can? You never do anything for the cause of Christ, You are always trying to do your utmost against it. You never sow a little blade of God's grass where none grew before. You are of no service, and yet you are spared, because Jesus says, " I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world." He prays that you may be in the world a little longer. And what has he preserved you from? First, fever comes and bows thee down; but Christ says, "Let him not depart yet. O spare him now." And thou art spared. The second time, disease comes near unto thee, and great pains bow thee down. Again he prays, "Spare him!" and thou art yet safe. The third time thou art fast approaching thy end. Now the angel of death is lifting up the glittering steel, and his axe is almost fallen on thee. Yet Christ says, "Spare him, angel! Spare him peradventure he may yet turn to me with full purpose of heart." He whom thou hatest loved thee so much that he interceded for thee, and therefore thou wert spared till now. Remember, however, that this reprieve will not continue for ever. At last Justice will cry; "Cut him down, he cumbers the ground." Some of you have been cumbering the ground for sixty or seventy years-old sinners; of no use in this world. Is it so? There you are occupying the ground, keeping other trees from growing, and of no use! Your family is being damned by your example; the whole neighbourhood is tainted by you. Do not tell me I should not speak so roughly. I tell you, as long as I have a tongue in my head you shall have no mincemeat from me. If you are lost, it shall not be for want of plain speaking and honest warning. Oh, ye cumber-grounds! how much digging and dunging have ye received at the Lord's hand, and yet ye are fruitless. The axe will soon be at your root, and oh, the fire into which ye shall be cast! Ungodly man, thou art spared until thine overflowing cup of sin is dropping like oil upon the flame of vengeance, and the increasing fire will presently reach thee. The longer the archer draweth the bow the more mighty is the force of the arrow. What though vengeance tarrieth, it is that its sword may be sharpened and its arm nerved for direr execution. Oh, ye grey-heads! a little more delay and the stroke shall fall; tremble and kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. And yet, methinks, some of you who have cumbered the ground do most heartily desire to serve God. Poor sinner! I rejoice that thou feelest that thou hast been a cumber-ground. Dost thou confess that thou hast been a poor thorn and briar until now. Dost thou acknowledge that the Lord has been just to thee if he had damned thee? Then come as thou art and cast thyself on Jesus, without works, without merit. Wilt thou ask the Lord to turn thee into a good fig tree? If thou wilt, he will do it; for be declares, that he heareth prayer. There was once a poor man in a small country town who had not all the sense people usually have, but he had sense enough to be a great drunkard and swearer as God would have it, he once listened to a poor woman, who was singing
"I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all But Jesus Christ is my all in all"
Home he went, repeating these words, he put his trust in a crucified Saviour, and was really converted. Well, he soon came to the church, and although he was a pedlar, and always travelling about, he said, "I want to join your church." They, remembering his sinful way of life, required some great evidence of a change before they received him, "O!" says he, "I must come in," "But you have been such a great sinner, and you are unconverted," added the elders. "Well," said poor Jack, "I don't know if I'm unconverted, and I confess I am a great sinner but
"I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all; But Jesus Christ is my all in all."
They could not get from him any other testimony save this. He would only say
"I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all; But Jesus Christ is my all in all."
They could not refuse him, and therefore accepted him for fellowship. After this he was always happy. When a Christian man said to him "But you always seem so happy and pleased, John; how is it?" "Well" said he, " I ought to be happy, for
"I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all; But Jesus Christ is my all in all."
"Well but," said the gentleman, "I can't see how you can be always so happy and sure. I sometimes lose my evidences." "I don't," said Jack,
" I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all; But Jesus Christ is my all in all."
"Ah," said a friend, "I am at times miserable because I remember my sad sinfulness even since conversion." "Ah!" said Jack, "you have not begun to sing,
"I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all. But Jesus Christ is my all in all."
"Oh!" said the friend, "how do you get rid of your doubts and fears? My faith frequently fails, and I miss my sure hope in Christ. My frames are so variable and feelings so contrary, what do you think of that?" "Think," said poor Jack, " why master I have no good things to care about
"I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all, But Jesus Christ is my all in all.'"
Well, then, if there is any one here who is "a poor sinner, find nothing at all," where is he? in the gallery" or sitting down below? If he cannot say all that poor man said; if he can say the first line, he need not fear to say the second. Never mind if he can't say,
"Jesus Christ is my all in all." If he can say,
"I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all,'
he is most assuredly on the right road.
"Oh! but," says one, "I am sinful, vile, worthless." All right! you're "a Poor sinner and nothing at all," and Jesus Christ is willing to be your "all in all." "But I have blasphemed God, departed from his ways, and greviously transgressed." Well, I believe that, and a great deal more, and am very glad to hear it; for thus I see you are
"A poor sinner, and nothing at all."
I am very glad if you will hold that opinion of yourself. "Ah! but I am afraid I have sinned too much. When I try I cannot do anything. When I try to mend my ways; when I try to believe in Christ, I cannot." We are glad, very glad of it brother, that you are
"A poor sinner, and nothing at all."
If you had a single particle of goodness; if you had a little bit not big enough to cover the top of your little finger, we should not be glad. But if thou art
"A poor sinner, and nothing at all, Jesus Christ is thy all in all."
Come! wilt thou have him? Thou art "nothing at all." Wilt thou have Christ? There he stands. Ask: it is all he wants, for thou art the object of his regard. There are only three steps. One is to step out of self, the second is to step upon Jesus, the third is to step into heaven. You have taken one step. I am sure you will take the others. God never makes you feel you are
"A poor sinner, and nothing at all;"
but, sooner or later, he gives
"Jesus Christ as your all in all.'
O poor sinner, do not be doubtful of my Master's power. Do but touch the hem of his garment, and thou shalt be made whole. Like the poor woman in the crowd, do but get at it and touch it, and he will surely say unto thee, "Thou art saved." If thou wilt go to him with this cry,
I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all, And Jesus Christ is my all in all,"
Then you will see the blessed reason why Jesus interceded thus; "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world." Amen.
The Character of Christ's People
November 22, 1855
C. H. SPURGEON
"They are not of the world, even as I am not
of the world."-John 17:16 .
CHRIST'S prayer was for a special people. He
declared that he did not offer an universal
intercession. "I pray for them," said he. "I pray
not for the world, but for them which thou hast
given me, for they are thine." In reading this
beautiful prayer through, only one question arises
to our minds; Who are the people that are
described as "them," or as "they?" Who are these
favoured individuals, who share a Saviour's
prayers, are recognized by a Saviour's love, have
their names written on the stones of his precious
breastplate, and have their characters and their
circumstances mentioned by the lips of the High
Priest before the throne on high? The answer to
that question is supplied by the words of our
text. The people for whom Christ prays are an
unearthly people. They are a people somewhat,
above the world, distinguished altogether from it.
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of
I shall treat my text, first of all, docrtrinally;
secondly, experimentally; and thirdly,
I. First, we shall take our text and look at it
The doctrine of it is, that God's people are
people who are not of the world, even as Christ
was not of the world. It is not so much that they
are not of the world, as that they are "not of the
world, even as Christ was not of the world." This
is an important distinction, for there are to be
found certain people who are not of the world, and
yet they are not Christians. Amongst these I would
mention sentimentalists-people who are always
crying and groaning in affected sentimental ways.
Their spirits are so refined, their characters are
so delicate, that they could not attend to
ordinary business. They would think it rather
degrading to their spiritual nature to attend to
anything connected with the world. They live much
in the air of romances and novels; love to read
things that fetch tears from their eyes; they
would like continually to live in a cottage near a
wood, or to inhabit some quiet cave, where they
could read "Zimmerman on Solitude" for ever; for
they feel that they are "not of the world." The
fact is, there is something too flimsy about them
to stand the wear and tear of this wicked world.
They are so pre-eminently good, that they cannot
bear to do as we poor human creatures do. I have
heard of one young lady, who thought herself so
spiritually-minded that she could not work. A very
wise minister said to her, "That is quite correct!
you are so spiritually-minded that you cannot
work; very well, you are so spiritually-minded
that you shall not eat unless you do." That
brought her back from her great spiritual-
mindedness. There is a stupid sentimentalism that
certain persons nurse themselves into. They read a
parcel of books that intoxicate their brains, and
then fancy that they have a lofty destiny. These
people are "not of the world," truly; but the
world does not want them, and the world would not
miss them much, if they were clean gone for ever.
There is such a thing as being "not of the world,"
from a high order of sentimentalism, and yet not
being a Christian after all. For it is not so much
being "not of the world," as being "not of the
world, even as Christ was not of the world." There
are others, too, like your monks, and those other
made individuals of the Catholic church, who are
not of the world. They are so awfully good, that
they could not live with us sinful creatures at
all. They must be distinguished from us
altogether. They must not wear, of course, a boot
that would at all approach to a worldly shoe, but
they must have a sole of leather strapped on with
two or three thongs, like the far-famed Father
Ignatius. They could not be expected to wear
worldly coats and waistcoats; but they must have
peculiar garbs, cut in certain fashions, like the
Passionists. They must wear particular dresses,
particular garments, particular habits. And we
know that some men are "not of the world," by the
peculiar mouthing they give to all their words-the
sort of sweet, savoury, buttery flavor they give
to the English language, because they think
themselves so eminently sanctified that they fancy
it would be wrong to indulge in anything in which
ordinary mortals indulge. Such persons are,
however, reminded, that their being "not of the
world," has nothing to do with it. It is not being
"not of the world," so much as being "not of the
world, even as Christ was not of the world."
This is the distinguishing mark-being different
from the world in those respects in which Christ
was different. Not making ourselves singular in
unimportant points, as those poor creatures do,
but being different from the world in those
respects in which the Son of God and the Son of
man, Jesus Christ, was not of the world in nature;
that he was not of the world again, in office; and
above all, that he was not of the world in his
1. First, Christ was not of the world in nature.
What was there about Christ that was worldly? In
one point of view his nature was divine; and as
divine, it was perfect, pure unsullied, spotless,
he could not descend to things of earthliness and
sin; in another sense he was human; and his human
nature, which was born of the Virgin Mary, was
begotten of the Holy Ghost, and therefore was so
pure that in it rested nothing that was worldly.
He was not like ordinary men. We are all born with
worldliness in our hearts. Solomon well says,
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child."
It is not only there, but it is bound up in it; it
is tied up in his heart, and is difficult to
remove. And so with each of us; when we were
children, earthliness and carnality were bound up
in our nature. But Christ was not so. His nature
was not a worldly one; it was essentially
different from that of every one else, although he
sat down and talked with them. Mark the
difference! He stood side by side with a Pharisee;
but every one could see he was not of the
Pharisee's world. He sat by a Samaritan woman, and
though he conversed with her very freely, who is
it that fails to see that he was not of that
Samaritan woman's world-not a sinner like her? He
mingled with the Publicans, nay, he sat down at
the Publican's feast, and eat with Publicans and
sinners; but you could see by the holy actions and
the peculiar gestures he there carried with him,
that he was not of the Publicans' world, though he
mixed with them. There was something so different
in his nature, that you could not have found an
individual in all the world whom could have set
beside him and said, "There! he is of that man's
world," Nay, not even John, though he leaned on
his bosom and partook very much of his Lord's
spirit, was exactly of that world to which Jesus
belonged; for even he once in his Boanergean
spirit, said words to this effect, "Let us call
down fire from heaven on the heads of those who
oppose thee,"-a thing that Christ could not endure
for a moment, and thereby proved that he was
something even beyond John's world.
Well, beloved, in some sense, the Christian man is
not of the world even in his nature. I do not mean
in his corrupt and fallen nature, but in his new
nature. There is something in a Christian that is
utterly and entirely distinct from that of anybody
else. Many persons think that the difference
between a Christian and worldling consists in
this: one goes to chapel twice on a Sabbath-day,
another does not go but once, or perhaps not at
all; one of them takes the sacrament, the other
does not; one pays attention to holy things, the
other pays very little attention to them. But, ah,
beloved, that does not make a Christian. The
distinction between a Christian and a worldling is
not merely external, but internal. The difference
is one of nature, and not of act.
A Christian is as essentially difference from a
worldling as a dove is from a raven, or a lamb
from a lion. He is not of the world even in his
nature. You could not make him a worldling. You
might do what you liked; you might cause him to
fall into some temporary sin; but you could not
make him a worldling. You might cause him to
backslide; but you could not make him a sinner, as
he used to be. He is not of the world by his
nature. He is a twice-born man; in his veins run
the blood of the royal family of the universe. He
is a nobleman; he is a heaven-born child. His
freedom is not merely a bought one, but he hath
his liberty his new-born nature; he is essentially
and entirely different from the world. There are
persons in this chapel now who are more totally
distinct from one another than you can even
conceive. I have some here who are intelligent,
and some who are ignorant; some who are rich, and
some who are poor; but I do not allude to those
distinctions: they all melt away into nothing in
that great distinction-dead or alive, spiritual or
carnal, Christian or worldling. And oh! if ye are
God's people, then ye are not of the world in your
nature; for ye are "not of the world, even as
Christ was not of the world."
2. Again: you are not of the world in your office.
Christ's office had nothing to do with worldly
things. "Art thou a king them?" Yes; I am a king;
but my kingdom is not of this world. "Art thou a
priest?" Yes; I am a priest; but my priesthood is
not the priesthood which I shall soon lay aside,
or which shall be discontinued as that of others
has been. "Art thou a teacher?" Yes; but my
doctrines are not the doctrines of morality,
doctrines that concern earthly dealings between
man and man simply; my doctrine cometh down from
heaven. So Jesus Christ, we say, is "not of the
world." He had no office that could be termed a
worldly one, and he had no aim which was in the
least worldly. He did not seek his own applause,
his own fame, his own honour; his very office was
not of the world. And, O believer! what is thy
office? Hast thou none at all? Why, yes, man! Thou
art a priest unto the Lord thy God; thy office is
to offer a sacrifice of prayer and praise each
day. Ask a Christian what he is. Say to him: "What
is your official standing? What are you by
office?" Well, if he answers you properly, he will
not say, "I am a draper, or druggist," or anything
of that sort. No; he will say, "I am a priest unto
my God. The office unto which I am called, is to
be the salt of the earth. I am a city set on a
hill, a light that cannot be hid. That is my
office. My office is not a worldly one." Whether
yours be the office of the minister, or the
deacon, or the church member, ye are not of this
world is your office, even as Christ was not of
the world; your occupation is not a worldly one.
3. Again, ye are not of the world in your
character; for that is the chief point in which
Christ was not of the world. And now, brethren, I
shall have to turn somewhat from doctrine to
practice before I get rightly to this part of the
subject; for I must reprove many of the Lord's
people, that they do not sufficiently manifest
that they are not of the world in character, even
as Christ was not of the world. Oh! how many of
you there are, who will assemble around the table
at the supper of your Lord, who do not live like
your Saviour. How many of you there are, who join
our church and walk with us, and yet are not
worthy of your high calling and profession. Mark
you the churches all around, and let your eyes run
with tears, when you remember that of many of
their members it cannot be said, "ye are not of
this world," for they are of the world. O, my
hearers, I fear many of you are worldly, carnal,
and covetous; and yet ye join the churches, and
stand well with God's people by a hypocritical
profession. O ye whitewashed sepulchres! ye would
deceive even the very elect! ye make clean the
outside of the cup and platter, but your inward
part is very wickedness. O that a thundering voice
might speak this to your ears!-"Those whom Christ
loves are not of the world," but ye are of the
world; therefore ye cannot be his, even though ye
profess so to be; for those that love him are not
such as you. Look at Jesus character; how
different from every other man's-pure, perfect,
spotless, even such should be the life of the
believer. I plead not for the possibility of
sinless conduct in Christians, but I must hold
that grace makes men to differ, and that God's
people will be very different from other kinds of
people. A servant of God will be a God's-man
everywhere. As a chemist, he could not indulge in
any tricks that such men might play with their
drugs; as a grocer-if indeed it be not a phantom
that such things are done-he could not mix sloe
leaves with tea or red lead in the pepper; if he
practised any other kind of business, he could not
for a moment condescend to the little petty
shifts, called "methods of business." To him it is
nothing what is called "business;" it is what is
called God's law, he feels that he is not of the
world, consequently, he goes against its fashions
and its maxims. A singular story is told of a
certain Quaker. One day he was bathing in the
Thames, and a waterman called out to him, "Ha!
there goes the Quaker." "How do you know I'm a
Quaker?" "Because you swim against the stream; it
is the way the Quakers always do." That is the way
Christians always ought to do-to swim against the
stream. The Lord's people should not go along with
the rest in their worldliness. Their characters
should be visibly different. You should be such
men that your fellows can recognise you without
any difficulty, and say, "Such a man is a
Christian." Ah! beloved, it would puzzle the angel
Gabriel himself, to tell whether some of you are
Christians or not, if he were sent down to the
world to pick out the righteous from the wicked.
None but God could do it, for in these days of
worldly religion they are so much alike. It was an
ill day for the world, when the sons of God and
the daughters of men were mingled together: and it
is an ill day now, when Christians and worldlings
are so mixed, that you cannot tell the difference
between them. God save us from a day of fire that
may devour us in consequence! But O beloved! the
Christian will be always different from the world.
This is a great doctrine, and it will be found as
true in ages to come as in the centuries which are
past. Looking back into history, we read this
lesson: "They are not of the world, even as I am
not of the world." We see them driven to the
catacombs of Rome; we see them hunted about like
partridges; and wherever in history you find God's
servants, you can recognise them by their
distinct, unvarying character-they are not of the
world, but were a people scarred and peeled; a
people entirely distinct from the nations. And if
in this age, there are no different people, if
there are none to be found who differ from other
people, there are no Christians; for Christians
will be always different from the world. They are
not of the world; even as Christ is not of the
world. This is the doctrine.
II. But now for treating this text EXPERIMENTALLY.
Do we, dearly beloved, feel this truth? Has it
ever been laid to our souls, so that we can feel
it is ours? "They are not of the world, even as I
am not of the world." Have we ever felt that we
are not of the world? Perhaps there is a believer
sitting in a pew to-night, who says, "Well, sire,
I can't say that I feel as if I was not of the
world, for I have just come from my shop, and
worldliness is still hanging about me." Another
says, "I have been in trouble and my mind is very
much harassed-I can't feel that I am different
from the world; I am afraid that I am of the
world." But, beloved, we must not judge ourselves
rashly, because just at this moment we discern not
the spot of God's children. Let me tell you, there
are always certain testing moments when you can
tell of what kind of stuff a man is made. Two men
are walking. Part of the way their road lies side
by side. How do you tell which man is going to the
right, and which to the left? Why, when they come
to the turning point. Now, to-night is not a
turning point, for you are sitting with worldly
people here, but at other times we may
Let me tell you one or two turning points, when
every Christian will feel that he is not of the
world. One is, when he gets into very deep
trouble. I do believe and protest, that we never
feel so unearthly as when we get plunged down into
trouble. Ah! when some creature comfort hath been
swept away, when some precious blessing hath
withered in our sight, like the fair lily, snapped
at the stalk; when some mercy has been withered,
like Jonah's gourd in the night-then it is that
the Christian feels, "I am not of the world." His
cloak is torn from him, and the cold wind whistles
almost through him; and then he says, "I am a
stranger in the world, as all my fathers were.
Lord, thou hast been my dwelling-place in all
generations." You have had at times deep sorrows.
Thank God for them! They are testing moments. When
the furnace is hot, it is then that the gold is
tried best. Have you felt at such a time that you
were not of the world? Or, have you rather sat
down, and said, "Oh! I do not deserve this
trouble?" Did you break under it? Did you bow down
before it and let it crush you while you cursed
your Maker? Or did your spirit, even under its
load, still lift itself unto him, like a man all
dislocated on the battle-field, whose limbs are
cut away, but who still lifts himself up as best
he can, and looks over the field to see if there
be a friend approaching. Did you do so? Or did you
lie down in desperation and despair? If you did
that, methinks you are no Christian; but if there
was a rising up, it was a testing moment, and it
proved that you were "not of the world," because
you could master affliction; because you could
tread it under foot, and say-
"When all created streams are dry,
His goodness is the same;
With this I well am satisfied,
And glory in his name."
But another testing moment is prosperity. Oh!
there have been some of God's people, who have
been more tried by prosperity than by adversity.
Of the two trials, the trial of adversity is less
severe to the spiritual man than that of
prosperity. "As the fining pot for silver, so is a
man to his praise." It is a terrible thing to be
prosperous. You had need to pray to God, not only
to help you in your troubles, but to help you in
your blessings. Mr. Whitfield once had a petition
to put up for a young man who had-stop, you will
think it was for a young man who had lost his
father or his property. No! "The prayers of the
congregation are he has need of much grace to keep
him humble in the midst of riches." That is the
kind of prayer that ought to be put up; for
prosperity is a hard thing to bear. Now, perhaps
you have become almost intoxicated with worldly
delights, even as a Christian. Everything goes
well with you; you have loved, and you are loved.
Your affairs are prosperous; your heart rejoices,
your eyes sparkle; you tread the earth with a
happy soul and a joyous countenance; you are a
happy man, for you have found that even in worldly
things, "godliness with contentment is great
gain." Did you ever feel,-
"These can never satisfy;
Give me Christ, or else I die."
Did you feel that these comforts were nothing but
the leaves of the tree, and not the fruit, and
that you could not live upon mere leaves? Did you
feel they were after all nothing but husks? Or did
you not sit down and say, "Now, soul, take thine
ease; thou hast goods laid up for many years; eat,
drink, and be merry?" If you did imitate the rich
fool, then you were of the world; but if your
spirit went up above your prosperity so that you
still lived near to God, then you proved that you
were a child of God, for you were not of the
world. These are testing points; both prosperity
Again: you may test yourselves in this way in
solitude and in company. In solitude you may tell
whether you are not of the world. I sit me down,
throw the window up, look out on the stars, and
think of them as the eyes of God looking down upon
me! And oh! does it not seem glorious at times to
consider the heavens when we can say, "Ah! beyond
those stars in my house not made with hands; those
stars are mile-stones on the road to glory, and I
shall soon tread the glittering way, or be carried
by seraphs far beyond them, and be there!" Have
you felt in solitude that you are not of the
world? And so again in company. Ah! beloved,
believe me, company is one of the best tests for a
Christian. You are invited to an evening party.
Sundry amusements are provided which are not
considered exactly sinful, but which certainly
cannot come under the name of pious amusements.
You sit there with the rest; there is a deal of
idle chat going on, you would be thought
puritanical to protest against it. Have you not
come away-and notwithstanding all has been very
pleasant, and friends have been very
agreeable-have you not been inclined to say, "Ah!
that does not do for me; I would rather be in a
prayer meeting; I could be with the people of God,
than in fine rooms with all the dainties and
delicacies that could be provided without the
company of Jesus. By God's grace I will seek to
shun all these places as much as possible." That
is a good test. You will prove in this way that
you are not of the world. And you may do so in
great many other ways, which I have no time to
mention. Have you felt this experimentally, so
that you can say, "I know that I am not of the
world, I feel it; I experience it." Don't talk of
doctrine. Give me doctrine ground into experience.
Doctrine is good; but experience is better.
Experimental doctrine is the true doctrine which
comforts and which edifies.
IV. And now, lastly we must briefly apply this in
PRACTICE. "They are not of the world, even as I am
not of the world." And, first, allow me, man or
woman, to apply this to thee. Thou who art of the
world, whose maxims, whose habits, whose
behaviour, whose feelings, whose everything is
worldly and carnal, list thee to this. Perhaps
thou makest some profession of religion. Hear me,
then. Thy boasting of religion is empty as a
phantom, and shall pass away when the sun rises,
as the ghosts sleep in their grave at the crowing
of the cock. Thou hast some pleasure in that
professioned religion of thine wherewith thou art
arrayed, and which thou carriest about thee as a
cloak, and usest as a stalking-horse to thy
business, and a net to catch the honour of the
world, and yet thou art worldly, like other men.
Then I tell thee if there be no distinction
between thyself and the worldly, the doom of the
worldly shall be thy doom. If thou wert marked and
watched, thy next door tradesman would act as thou
dost, and thou actest as he does; there is no
distinction between thee and the world. Hear me,
then; it is God's solemn truth. Thou art none of
his. If thou art like the rest of the world, thou
art of the world. Thou art a goat, and with goats
thou shalt be cursed; for the sheep can always be
distinguished from the goats by their appearance.
O ye worldly men of the world! ye carnal
professors, ye who crowd our churches, and fill
our places of worship, this is God's truth! let me
say it solemnly. If I should say it as I ought, it
would be weeping tears of blood. Ye are, with all
your profession, "in the gall of bitterness;" with
all your boastings, ye are "in bonds of iniquity;"
for ye act as others and ye shall come where
others come; and it shall be done with you as with
more notorious heirs of hell. There is an old
story which was once told of a Dissenting
minister. The old custom was, that a minister
might stop at an inn, and not pay anything for his
bed or his board; and when he went to preach, from
place to place, he was charged nothing for the
conveyance in which he rode. But on one occasion,
a certain minister stopped at an inn and went to
bed. The landlord listened and heard no prayer; so
when he came down in the morning, he presented his
bill. "Oh! I am not going to pay that, for I am a
minister." "Ah!" said the landlord, "you went to
bed last night like a sinner, and you shall pay
this morning like a sinner; I will not let you
go." Now, it strikes me, that this will be the
case with some of you when you come to God's bar.
Though you pretended to be a Christian, you acted
like a sinner, and you shall fare like a sinner
too. Your actions were unrighteous; they were far
from God; and you shall have a portion with those
whose character was the same as yours. "Be not
deceived;" it is easy to be so. "God is not
mocked," though we often are, both minister and
people. "God is not mocked; whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap."
And now we want to apply this to many true
children of God who are here, by way of caution. I
say, my brother Christian, you are not of the
world. I am not going to speak hardly to you,
because you are my brother, and in speaking to you
I speak to myself also, for I am as guilty as thou
art. Brother, have we not often been too much like
the world? Do we not sometimes in our
conversation, talk too much like the world? Come,
let me ask myself, are there not too many idle
words that I say? Ay, that there are. And do I not
sometimes give occasion to the enemy to blaspheme,
because I am not so different from the world as I
ought to be? Come, brother; let us confess our
sins together. Have we not been too worldly? Ah!
we have. Oh! let this solemn thought cross our
minds: suppose that after all we should not be
his! for it is written, "Ye are not of the world."
O God! if we are not right, make us so; where we
are a little right, make us still more right; and
where we are wrong, amend us! Allow me to tell a
story to you; I told it when I was preaching last
Tuesday morning, but it is worth telling again.
There is a great evil in many of us being too
light and frothy in our conversation. A very
solemn thing once happened. A minister had been
preaching in a country village, very earnestly and
fervently. in the midst of his congregation there
was a young man who was deeply impressed with a
sense of sin under the sermon; he therefore sought
the minister as he went out, in hopes of walking
home with him. They walked till they came to a
friend's house. On the road the minister had
talked about anything except the subject on which
he had preached, though he had preached very
earnestly, and even with tears in his eyes. The
young man thought within himself, "Oh! I wish I
could unburden my heart and speak to him; but I
cannot. He does not say anything now about what he
spoke of in the pulpit." When they were at supper
that evening, the conversation was very far from
what it should be, and the minister indulged in
all kinds of jokes and light sayings. The young
man had gone into the house with eyes filled with
tears, feeling like a sinner should feel; but as
soon as he got outside, after the conversation, he
stamped his foot, and said, "It is a lie from
beginning to end. That man has preached like an
angel; and now he has talked like a devil." Some
years after the young man was taken ill, and sent
for this same minister. The minister did not know
him. "Do you remember preaching at such-and-such a
village?" asked the young man. "I do." "your text
was very deeply laid to my heart." "Thank God for
that," said the minister. "Do not be so quick
about thanking God," said the young man. "Do you
know what you talked of that evening afterwards,
when I went to supper with you. Sir, I shall be
damned! And I will charge you before God's throne
with being the author of my damnation. On that
night I did feel my sin; but you were the means of
scattering all my impressions." That is a solemn
thought, brother, and teaches us how we should
curb our tongues, especially those who are so
light hearted, after solemn services and earnest
preachings, that we should not betray levity. Oh!
let us take heed that we are not of the world,
even as Christ was not of the world.
And Christian, lastly, by way of practice, let me
comfort thee with this. Thou art not of the world
for thy home is in heaven. Be content to be here a
little, for thou art not of the world, and thou
shalt go up to thine own bright inheritance by-and-
bye. A man in travelling goes into an inn; it is
rather uncomfortable, "Well," says he, "I shall
not have to stay here many nights; I have only to
sleep here to-night, I shall be at home in the
morning, so that I don't care much about one
night's lodging being a little uncomfortable." So,
Christian, this world is never a very comfortable
one; but recollect, you are not of the world. This
world is like an inn; you are only lodging here a
little while. Put up with a little inconvenience,
because you are not of the world, even as Christ
is not of the world; and by-and-bye, up yonder,
you shall be gathered into your father's house,
and there you will find that there is a new heaven
and a new earth provided for those who are "not of
Our Lord's Prayer for His People's Sanctification
March 7th, 1886 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17 .
Our Lord Jesus prayed much for his people while he was here on earth. He made Peter the special subject of his intercession when he knew that he was in extraordinary danger. The midnight wrestlings of the Son of man were for his people. In the sacred record, however, much more space is taken up by our Lord's intercessions as he nears the end of his labors. After the closing supper, his public preaching work being ended, and nothing remaining to be done but to die, he gave himself wholly unto prayer. He was not again to instruct the multitude, nor to heal the sick, and in the interval which remained, before he should lay down his life, he girded himself for special intercession. He poured out his soul in life before he poured it out unto death. In this wonderful prayer, our Lord, as our great High Priest, appears to enter upon that perpetual office of intercession which he is now exercising at the right hand of the Father. Our Lord ever seemed, in the eagerness of his love, to be anticipating his work. Before he was set apart for his life-work, by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, he must needs be about his Father's business; before he finally suffered at the hands of cruel men, he had a baptism to be baptized with, and he was straitened till it was accomplished; before he actually died, he was covered with a bloody sweat, and was exceeding sorrowful even unto death; and in this case, before he in person entered within the veil, he made intercession for us. He never tarries when the good of his people calls for him. His love hath wings as well as feet: it is true of him evermore, "He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind." O beloved, what a friend we have in Jesus! so willing, so speedy to do for us all that we need. Oh that we could imitate him in this, and be quick of understanding to perceive our line of service, and eager of heart to enter upon it. This chapter, which ought to be universally known as the Lord's Prayer, may be called the holy of holies of the word of God. Here we are admitted to that secret place where the Son of God speaks with the Father in closest fellowship of love. Here we look into the heart of Jesus, as he sets out in order his desires and requests before his Father on our behalf. Here inspiration lifts her veil, and we behold truth face to face. Our text lies somewhere near the middle of the prayer; it is the heart of it. Our Lord's desire for the sanctification of his people pervades the whole prayer; but it is gathered up, declared, and intensified in the one sentence that I have read to you: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." How invaluable must the blessing of sanctification be when our Lord, in the highest reach of his intercession, cries: "Sanctify them!" In sight of his passion, on the night before his death, our Savior lifts his eyes to the great Father, and cries in his most plaintive tones, "Father, sanctify them." The place whereon we stand is holy ground, and the subject whereof we speak demands our solemn thought. Come, Holy Spirit, and teach us the full meaning of this prayer for holiness! First, I call your attention to what it is the Savior asks "sanctify them;" and then, for whom he asks it it is for those whom his Father had given him. Thirdly, we shall note of whom he asks it: he asks this sanctification of God the Father himself, for he alone it is who can sanctify his people. Lastly, we will enquire how is this blessing to be wrought? "Sanctify them through thy truth;" and our Lord adds an explanatory sentence, which was a confession of his own faith towards the word of the Lord, and an instruction to our faith in the same matter. "Thy word is truth." I. At the beginning, then, consider WHAT HE ASKED. What is this inestimable blessing which our Savior so earnestly requests at the Father's hand? He first prays, "Holy Father, keep them;" and again, "Keep them from the evil;" but this negative blessing of preservation from evil is not enough: he seeks for them positive holiness, and therefore he cries, "sanctify them." The word is one of considerable range of meaning: I am not able to follow it through all its shades, but one or two must suffice. It means, first, dedicate them to thy service; for such must be the meaning of the word further down, when we read, "For their sakes I sanctify myself." In the Lord's case it cannot mean purification from sin, because our Savior was undefiled; his nature was unblemished by sin, and his actions were unspotted. No eye of man, nor glance of fiend, could discover fault in him, and the search of God only resulted in the declaration that in him God was well pleased. Our Lord's sanctification was his consecration to the fulfillment of the Divine purpose, his absorption in the will of the Father. "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." In this sense our interceding Lord asks that all his people may by the Father be ordained and consecrated unto holy service. The prayer means, "Father, consecrate them to thine own self; let them be temples for thine indwelling, instruments for thy use." Under Jewish law the tribe of Levi was chosen out of the twelve, and ordained to the service of the Lord, instead of the firstborn, of whom the Lord had said, "All the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself." (Numbers 8:17 .) Out of the tribe of Levi one family was taken and dedicated to the priesthood. Aaron and his sons are said to have been sanctified. (Leviticus 8:30 .) A certain tent was sanctified to the service of God, and hence it became a sanctuary; and the vessels that were therein, whether they were greater, like the altar, and the holy table, and the ark of the covenant, or whether they were of less degree, like the bowls and the snuff-dishes of the candlestick, were all dedicated or sanctified. (Numbers 7:1 .) None of these things could be used for any other purpose than the service of Jehovah. In his courts there was a holy fire, a holy bread, and a holy oil. The holy anointing oil, for instance, was reserved for sacred uses. "Upon man's flesh it shall not be poured;" and again, "Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people." These sanctified things were reserved for holy purposes, and any other use of them was strictly forbidden. Bullocks and lambs and sheep and turtle-doves, and so forth, were given by devout offerers, brought to the holy place, and dedicated unto God; henceforth they belonged to God, and must be presented at his altar. This is one part of the meaning of our Lord's prayer. He would have each of us consecrated unto the Lord, designated and ordained for divine purposes. We are not the world's, else might we be ambitious; we are not Satan's, else might we be covetous; we are not our own, else might we be selfish. We are bought with a price, and hence we are his by whom the price is paid. We belong to Jesus, and he presents us to his Father, and begs him to accept us and sanctify us to his own purposes. Do we not most heartily concur in this dedication? Do we not cry, "Father, sanctify us to thy service?" I am sure we do if we have realized our redeemed condition. Beloved brethren, if the sprinkling of the blood, of which we spake last Sabbath-day, has really taken effect upon us, we belong, from this time forth, unto him that died for us, and rose again. We regard ourselves as God's men, the liveried servants of the great King that livery the robe of righteousness. We were as sheep going astray, but we have now returned unto the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls; and henceforth we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. If any should ask, "To whom belongest thou?" we answer, "I belong to Christ." If any enquire, "What is thine occupation?" we reply with Jonah, "I fear God." We are not now at our own disposal, neither can we hire ourselves out to inferior objects, mercenary aims, or selfish ambitions; for we are engaged by solemn contract to the service of our God. We have lifted up our hand unto the Lord, and we cannot draw back. Neither do we wish to withdraw from the delightful compact and covenant; we desire to keep it even unto the end. We seek no liberty to sin, nor license for self; rather do we cry, "Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Sanctify us, O Lord. Let us know, and let all the world know, that we are thine, because we belong to Christ." In addition to this, those who belonged to God, and were dedicated to his service, were set apart and separated from others. There was a special service for the setting-apart of priests; certain rites were performed at the sanctifying of dedicated places and vessels. You remember with what solemn service the Tabernacle was set up, and with what pomp of devotion the Temple itself was set apart for the divine service. The Sabbath-day, which the Lord hath sanctified, is set apart from the rest of time. To man it is a dies non, because it is the Lord's-day. The Lord would have those who are dedicated to him to be separated from the rest of mankind. For this purpose he brought Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, and Israel out of Egypt. "The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." The Lord saith of his chosen, "This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise." Before long this secret purpose is followed by the open call: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate; touch not the unclean thing, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." The church of Christ is to be a chaste virgin, wholly set apart for the Lord Christ: his own words concerning his people are these, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." By the election of grace from before the foundation of the world this distinction commences, and the names are written in heaven. Thereupon follows a redemption peculiar and special, as it is written; "These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." This redemption is followed by effectual calling wherein men are made to come forth from the old world into the kingdom of Christ. This is attended with regeneration, in which they receive a new life, and so become as much distinguished from their fellow-men as the living are from the dead. This separating work is further carried on in what is commonly known as sanctification, whereby the man of God is removed farther and farther from all fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and is changed from glory unto glory, into an ever-growing likeness of his Lord, who was "holy, harmless, undefiled separate from sinners." Those who are sanctified in this sense have ceased to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; they have ceased to run with the multitude to do evil; they are not conformed to this present evil world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. The more assuredly this is true of them the better. There are some, in these apostate days, who think that the church cannot do better than to come down to the world to learn her ways, follow her maxims, and acquire her "culture." In fact, the notion is that the world is to be conquered by our conforming to it. This is as contrary to Scripture as the light is to the darkness. The more distinct the line between him that feareth God and him that feareth him not, the better all round. It will be a black day when the sun itself is turned into darkness. When the salt has lost its savor, and no longer opposes putrefaction, the world will rot with a vengeance. That text is still true, "Ye are of God, little children, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one." The seed of the woman knows no terms with the serpent brood but continual war. Our Lord saith that in this matter he came not to send peace on the earth, but a sword. "Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." If the church seeks to cultivate the friendship of the world, she has this message from the Holy Ghost by the pen of the apostle James: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." He charges all who would please the world with the black and filthy crime of spiritual adultery. The heart which ought to be given to Christ and purity must not wander forth wantonly to woo the defiled and polluted things of this present evil world. Separation from the world is Christ's prayer for us. Put these two things together, dedication to God and separation unto him, and you are nearing the meaning of the prayer. But, mark you, it is not all separation that is meant; for, as I told you in the reading there are some who "separate themselves," and yet are sensual, not having the Spirit. Separation for separation's sake savours rather of Babel than of Jerusalem. It is one thing to separate from the world, and another thing to be separate from the church. Where we believe that there is living faith in Jesus, and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, we are not called to division, but to unity. For actual and manifest sin we must separate ourselves from offender ; but we err if we carry on this separation where it is not authorized by the word of God. The Corinthians and Galatians were far from being perfect in life, and they had made many mistakes in doctrine, yea, even upon vital points; but inasmuch as they were truly in Christ, Paul did not command any to come out of those churches, and to be separate therefrom; but he exhorted them to prove each man his own work, and he labored to bring them all back to the one and only gospel, and to a clearer knowledge of it. We are to be faithful to truth; but we are not to be of a contentious spirit, separating ourselves from those who are living members of the one and indivisible body of Christ. To promote the unity of the church, by creating new divisions, is not wise. Cultivate at once the love of the truth and the love of the brethren. The body of Christ will not be perfected by being rent. Truth should be the companion of love. If we heartily love even those who are in some measure in error, but who possess the life of God in their souls, we shall be the more likely to set them right. Separation from the world is a solemn duty, indeed it is the hard point, the crux and burden of our religion. It is not easy to be filled with love to men and yet for God's sake, and even for their own sake, to be separated from them. The Lord teach us this. At the same time, this word "sanctification" means what is commonly understood by it, namely, the making of the people of God holy. "Sanctify them," that is, work in them a pure and holy character. "Lord, make thy people holy," should be our daily prayer. I want you to notice that this word here used in the Greek is not that which is rendered "Purify;" but it has another shade of meaning. Had it meant "purify," it would hardly have been used in reference to our Lord as it is in the next verse. It has a higher meaning than that. O brethren, if you are called Christians, there must be no room for doubt as to the fact that you are purged from the common sins and ordinary transgressions of mankind, else are you manifestly liars unto God, and deceivers of your own souls. They that are not moral, they that are not honest, they that are not kind, they that are not truthful, are far from the kingdom. How can these be the children of God who are not even decent children of men? Thus we judge, and rightly judge, that the life of God cannot be in that man's soul who abides wilfully in any known sin, and takes pleasure therein. No; purification is not all. We will take it for granted that you who profess to be Christians have escaped from the foul pollution of lust and falsehood; if you have not done so, humble yourselves before God, and be ashamed; for you need the very beginnings of grace. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh." But sanctification is something more than mere morality and respectability; it is not only deliverance from the common sins of men, but also from the hardness, deadness, and carnality of nature: it is deliverance from that which is of the flesh at its very best, and admittance into that which is spiritual and divine. That which is carnal cometh not into communion with the spiritual kingdom or Christ: we need that the spiritual nature should rise above that which is merely natural. This is our prayer Lord, spiritualize us; elevate us; make us to dwell in communion with God; make us to know him whom flesh and blood cannot reveal or discern. May the Spirit of the living God have full sovereignty over us and perfect in us the will of the Lord, for this is to be sanctified. Sanctification is a higher word than purification; for it includes that word and vastly more: it is not sufficient to be negatively clean; we need to be adorned with all the virtues. If ye be merely moral, how does your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? If ye pay your lawful debts, give alms to the poor, and observe the rites of your religion, what do ye more than others whom ye yourselves reckon to be in error? Children of God should exhibit the love of God, they should be filled with zeal for his glory, they should live generous, unselfish lives, they should walk with God, and commune with the Most High. Ours should be a purpose and an aim far higher than the best of the unregenerate can understand. We ought to reach unto a life and a kingdom of which the mass of mankind know nothing, and care less. Now, I am afraid that this spiritual sense of the prayer is one that is often forgotten. Oh that God's Holy Spirit might make us to know it by experimentally feeling it in ourselves! May "Holiness to the Lord" be written across the brow of our consecrated humanity! Beloved, this prayer of our Lord is most necessary, for without sanctification how can we be saved, since it is written, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord?" How can we be saved from sin if sin has still dominion over us? If we are not living holy, godly, spiritual lives, how can we say that we are redeemed from the power of evil? Without sanctification we shall be unfit for service. Our Lord Jesus contemplated the sending of each one of us into the world even as the Father sent him into the world; but how can he give a mission to unsanctified men and women? Must not the vessels of the Lord be clean? Without sanctification we cannot enjoy the innermost sweets of our holy faith. The unsanctified are full of doubts and fears; and what wonder? The unsanctified often say of the outward exercise of religion, "What a weariness it is!" and no wonder, for they know not the internal joys of it, having never learned to delight themselves in God. If they walk not in the light of the Lord's countenance, how can they know the heaven below which comes of true godliness? Oh, it is a prayer that needs to be prayed for me, for you, for this church, and for the whole church of God! "Father, sanctify them through thy truth." II. Now I want you to notice, in the second place, FOR WHOM THIS PRAYER WAS OFFERED. It was not offered for the world outside. It would not be a suitable prayer for those who are dead in sin. Our Lord referred to the company of men and women who were already saved, of whom he said that they had kept God's Word: "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me." They were therefore sanctified already in the sense of being consecrated and set apart for holy purposes; and they were also sanctified in a measure already in the sense of being made holy in character; for the immediate disciples of our Lord, with all their errors and deficiencies, were holy men. It was for the apostles that Jesus thus prayed; so that we may be sure that the most eminent saints need still to have this prayer offered for them: "Sanctify them through thy truth." Though, my sisters, you may be Deborahs, worthy to be called mothers in Israel, yet you need to be made more holy. Though, my brethren, you may be true fathers in God, of whom the Scripture saith truly that we have "not many," yet you still need that Jesus should pray for you: "Sanctify them through thy truth." These chosen ones were sanctified, but only to a degree. Justification is perfect the moment it is received, but sanctification is a matter of growth. He that is justified, is justified once for all by the perfect work of Jesus, but he that is sanctified by Christ Jesus must grow up in all things into him who is the Head. To make us holy is a life work, and for it we should seek the divine operation every hour; for "he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God." We would rise to the utmost pitch of holy living, and never content ourselves with present attainments. Those who are most pure and honorable have yet their shortcomings and errors to mourn over. When the Lord turns the light strong upon us, we soon see the spots upon our raiment; it is indeed when we walk in the light as God is in the light that we see most our need of the cleansing blood of Jesus. If we have done well, to God be the glory of it; but we might have done better. If we have loved much, to God's grace be the praise; but we ought to have loved more. If we have believed, and believed steadfastly, we ought to have believed to a far higher degree in our Almighty Friend. We are still below our capacities; there is a something yet beyond us. O ye sanctified ones, it is for you that Jesus prays that the Father may still sanctify you. I want you to notice more particularly that these believers for whom our Lord prayed were to be the preachers and teachers of their own and succeeding generations. These were the handful of seed-corn out of which would grow the church of the future, whose harvest would gladden all lands. To prepare them to be sent out as Christ's missionaries they must be sanctified. How shall a holy God send out unholy messengers? An unsanctified minister is an unsent minister. An unholy missionary is a pest to the tribe he visits; an unholy teacher in a school is an injury rather than a blessing to the class he conducts. Only in proportion as you are sanctified unto God can you hope for the power of the Holy Spirit to rest on you, and to work with you, so as to bring others to the Savior's feet. How much may each of us have been hampered and hindered by want of holiness! God will not use unclean instruments; nay, he will not even have his holy vessels borne by unclean hands. "To the wicked, God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes?" A whole host may be defeated because of one Achan in the camp; and this is our constant fear. Holiness is an essential qualificatian to a man's fitness for being used of the Lord God for the extension of his kingdom; hence our Lord's prayer for his apostles and other workers: "Holy Father, sanctify them." Furthermore, our Lord Jesus Christ was about to pray "that they all might be one;" and for this desirable result holiness is needed. Why are we not one? Sin is the great dividing element. The perfectly holy would be perfectly united. The more saintly men are, the more they love their Lord and one another; and thus they come into closer union with each other. Our errors and our sins are roots of bitterness which spring up and trouble us, and many are defiled. Our infirmities of judgment are aggravated by our imperfections of character, and our walking at a distance from our God; and these breed coldness and lukewarmness, out of which grow disunion and division, sects and heresies. If we were all abiding in Christ to the full, we should abide in union with each other and with God, and our Lord's great prayer for the unity of his church would be fulfilled. Moreover, our Lord finished his most comprehensive prayer by a petition that we might all be with him with him where he is, that we may behold his glory. Full sanctification is essential to this. Shall the unsanctified dwell with Christ in heaven? Shall unholy eyes behold his glory? It cannot be. How can we participate in the splendor and triumphs of the exalted head if we are not members of his body? and how can a holy head have impure and dishonest members? No, brethren, we must be holy, for Christ is holy. Uprightness of walk and cleanness of heart are absolutely requisite for the purposes of Christian life, whether here or hereafter. Those who live in sin are the servants of sin; only those who are renewed by the Holy Ghost unto truth, and holiness, and love, can hope to be partakers of holy joys and heavenly bliss. III. I am compelled by shortness of time to be brief upon each point; but I must dwell for a little upon the third subject of consideration, which is this TO WHOM THIS PRAYER IS DIRECTED. "Sanctify them through thy truth." No one can sanctify a soul but Almighty God, the great Father of spirits. He who made us must also make us holy, or we shall never attain that character. Our dear Savior calls the great God "Holy Father" in this prayer, and it is the part of the holy God to create holiness; while a holy Father can only be the Father of holy children, for like begets like. To you that believe in Jesus he gives power to become the sons of God, and a part of that power lies in becoming holy according to the manner and character of our Father who is in heaven. As we are holy, so do we bear the image of that Lord from heaven who, as the second man, is the firstborn to whom the many brethren are conformed. The holy Father in heaven will own those as his children upon earth who are holy. The very nature of God should encourage us in our prayers for holiness; for he will not be slow to work in us to will and to do according to his perfect will. Beloved, this sanctification is a work of God from its earliest stage. We go astray of ourselves, but we never return to the great Shepherd apart from his divine drawings. Regeneration, in which sanctification begins, is wholly the work of the Spirit of God. Our first discovery of wrong, and our first pang of penitence, are the work of divine grace. Every thought of holiness, and every desire after purity, must come from the Lord alone, for we are by nature wedded to iniquity. So also the ultimate conquest of sin in us, and the making us perfectly like to our Lord, must be entirely the work of the Lord God, who makes all things new, since we have no power to carry on so great a work of ourselves. This is a creation; can we create? This is a resurrection; can we raise the dead? Our degenerate nature can rot into a still direr putrefaction, but it can never return to purity or sweeten itself into perfection; this is of God and God alone. Sanctification is as much the work of God as the making of the heavens and the earth. Who is sufficient for these things? We go not even a step in sanctification in our own strength; whatever we think we advance of ourselves is but a fictitious progress which will lead to bitter disappointment. Real sanctification is entirely from first to last the work of the Spirit of the blessed God, whom the Father hath sent forth that he might sanctify his chosen ones. See, then, what a great thing sanctification is, and how necessary it is that our Lord should pray unto his Father, "Sanctify them through thy truth." The truth alone will not sanctify a man. We may maintain an orthodox creed, and it is highly important that we should do so, but if it does not touch our heart and influence our character, what is the value of our orthodoxy? It is not the doctrine which of itself sanctifies, but the Father sanctifies by means of the doctrine. The truth is the element in which we are made to live in order to holiness. Falsehood leads to sin, truth leads to holiness; but there is a lying spirit, and there is also the Spirit of truth, and by these the error and the truth are used as means to an end. Truth must be applied with spiritual power to the mind, the conscience, and the heart, or else a man may receive the truth, and yet hold it in unrighteousness. I believe this to be the crowning work of God in man, that his people should be perfectly delivered from evil. He elected them that they might be a peculiar people, zealous for good works; he ransomed them that he might redeem them from all iniquity, and purify them unto himself; he effectually calls them to a high and holy vocation, even to virtue and true holiness. Every work of the Spirit of God upon the new nature aims at the purification, the consecration, the perfecting of those whom God in love has taken to be his own. Yea, more; all the events of Providence around us work towards that one end: for this our joys and our sorrows, for this our pains of body and griefs of heart, for this our losses and our crosses all these are sacred medicines by which we are cured of the disease of nature, and prepared for the enjoyment of perfect spiritual health. All that befalls us on our road to heaven is meant to fit us for our journey's end. Our way through the wilderness is meant to try us, and to prove us, that our evils may be discovered, repented of, and overcome, and that thus we may be without fault before the throne at the last. We are being educated for the skies, meetened for the assembly of the perfect. It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we are struggling up towards it; and we know that when Jesus shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. We are rising: by hard wrestling, and long watching, and patient waiting, we are rising into holiness. These tribulations thresh our wheat and get the chaff away, these afflictions consume our dross and tin to make the gold more pure. All things work together for good to them that love God; and the net result of them all will be the presenting of the chosen unto God, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Thus I have reminded you that the prayer for sanctification is offered to the divine Father, and this leads us to look out of ourselves and wholly, to our God. Do not set about the work of sanctification yourselves, as if you could perform it alone. Do not imagine that holiness will necessarily follow because you listen to an earnest preacher, or unite in sacred worship. My brethren, God himself must work within you; the Holy Ghost must inhabit you; and this can only come to you by faith in the Lord Jesus. Believe in him for your sanctification, even as you have believed for your pardon and justification. He alone can bestow sanctification upon you; for this is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. IV. This is a great subject, and I have but short time; so I have, in the last place, to notice with much brevity HOW SANCTIFICATION IS TO BE WROUGHT IN BELIEVERS, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. "Beloved, observe how God has joined holiness and truth together. There has been a tendency of late to divide truth of doctrine from truth of precept. Men say that Christianity is a life and not a creed: this is a part truth, and very near akin to a lie. Christianity is a life which grows out of truth. Jesus Christ is the way and the truth as well as the life, and he is not properly received except he is accepted in that threefold character. No holy life will be produced in us by the belief of falsehood. Sanctification in visible character comes out of edification in the inner faith of the heart, or otherwise it is a mere shell. Good works are the fruit of true faith, and true faith is a sincere belief of the truth. Every truth leads towards holiness; every error of doctrine, directly or indirectly, leads to sin. A twist of the understanding will inevitably bring a contortion of the life sooner or later. The straight line of truth drawn on the heart will produce a direct course of gracious walking in the life. Do not imagine that you can live on spiritual carrion and yet be in fine moral health, or that you can drink down poisonous error and yet lift up a face without spot before God. Even God himself only sanctifies us by the truth. Only that teaching will sanctify you which is taken from God's word, that teaching which is not true, nor the truth of God, cannot sanctify you. Error may puff you up, it may even make you think that you are sanctified; but there is a very serious difference between boasting of sanctification and being sanctified, and a very grave difference between setting up to be superior to others and being really accepted before God. Believe me, God works sanctification in us by the truth, and by nothing else. But what is the truth? There is the point. Is the truth that which I imagine to be revealed to me by some private communication? Am I to fancy that I enjoy some special revelation, and am I to order my life by voices, dreams, and impressions? Brethren, fall not into this common delusion. God's word to us is in Holy Scripture. All the truth that sanctifies men is in God's Word. Do not listen to those who cry, "Lo here!" and "Lo there!" I am plucked by the sleeve almost every day by crazy persons and pretenders who have revelations. One man tells me that God has sent a message to me by him; and I reply, "No, sir, the Lord knows where I dwell, and he is so near to me that he would not need to send to me by you." Another man announces in God's name a dogma which, on the face of it, is a lie against the Holy Ghost. He says the Spirit of God told him so-and-so; but we know that the Holy Ghost never contradicts himself. If your imaginary revelation is not according to this Word, it has no weight with us; and if it is according to this Word, it is no new thing. Brethren, this Bible is enough if the Lord does but use it, and quicken it by his Spirit in our hearts. Truth is neither your opinion, nor mine; your message, nor mine. Jesus says, "Thy word is truth." That which sanctifies men is not only truth, but it is the particular truth which is revealed in God's Word "Thy word is truth." What a blessing it is that all the truth that is necessary to sanctify us is revealed in the Word of God, so that we have not to expend our energies upon discovering truth, but may, to our far greater profit, use revealed truth for its divine ends and purposes! There will be no more revelations; no more are needed. The canon is fixed and complete, and he that adds to it shall have added to him the plagues that are written in this Book. What need of more when here is enough for every practical purpose? "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." This being so, the truth which it is needful for us to receive is evidently fixed. You cannot change Holy Scripture. You may arrive more and more accurately at the original text; but for all practical purposes the text we have is correct enough, and our old Authorized Version is a sound one. Scripture itself cannot be broken; we cannot take from it nor add to it. The Lord has never re-written nor revised his Word, nor will he ever do so. Our teachings are full of errors, but the Spirit mistaketh not. We have the "Retractations": of Augustine, but there are no retractations with prophets and apostles. The faith has been delivered once for all to the saints, and it standeth fast for ever. "Thy word is truth." The Scripture alone is absolute truth, essential truth, decisive truth, authoritative truth, undiluted truth, eternal, everlasting truth. Truth given us in the word of God is that which is to sanctify all believers to the end of time: God will use it to that end. Learn, then, my brothers, how earnestly you ought to search the Scriptures! See, my sisters, how studiously you should read this Book of God! If this is the truth, and the truth with which God sanctifies us, let us learn it, hold it, and stand fast in it. To him that gave us the Book let us pledge ourselves never to depart from his testimonies. To us, at any rate, God's word is truth. "But they argue differently in the schools!" Let them argue. "But oratory with its flowery speech speaketh otherwise!" Let it speak: words are but air and tongues but clay. O God, "thy word is truth." "But philosophers have contradicted it!" Let them contradict it. Who are they? God's word is truth: we will go no farther while the world stands. But then let us be equally firm in our conviction that we do not know the truth aright unless it makes us holy. We do not hold truth in a true way unless it leads us to a true life. If you use the back of a knife it will not cut: truth hath its handle and its blade; see that you use it properly. You can make pure water kill a man; you must use every good thing aright or it will not be good. The truth, when fully used, will daily destroy sin, nourish grace, suggest noble desires, and urge to holy acts. O sirs, I do pray that we may by our lives adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. Some do not so. I say this to our shame and to my own hourly sorrow. The one point of failure to be most deeply regretted would be a failure in the holiness of our church members. If you yourselves act as others do, what witness do you bear? If your families are not graciously ordered; if your business is not conducted upon principles of the strictest integrity; if your speech is questionable as to purity or truthfulness; if your lives are open to serious rebuke how can God accept you or send a blessing on the Church to which you belong? It is all falsehood and deceit to talk about your being the people of God when even men of the world shame you. Your faith in the Lord Jesus must operate upon your lives to make you faithful and true, it must check you here, and excite you there; it must keep you back from this, and drive you on to that; it must constantly operate upon thought and speech and act, or else you know nothing of its saving power. How can I speak more distinctly and emphatically? Do not come to me with your experiences, and your convictions, and your professions, unless you sanctify the name of God in your lives. O brethren, we had better quit our professions if we do not live up to them. In the name of him who breathed this prayer just before his face was encrimsoned with the bloody sweat, let us cry mightily unto the Father, "Sanctify us through thy truth, thy Word is truth." As a people, we have stuck unto the Word of the Lord, but are we practically obeying it? We have determined as a congregation to keep the old ways; and I, for one, as the minister, am solemnly bound to the old faith. Oh that we might commend it by our holiness! Nothing is truth to me but this one Book, this infallibly inspired writing of the Spirit of God. It is incumbent upon us to show the hallowed influence of this Book. The vows of God are on us, that by our godly lives we should show forth his praises who has brought us out of darkness into his marvellous light. This Bible is our treasure. We prize each leaf of it. Let us bind it in the best fashion, in the best morocco of a clear, intelligent faith; then let us put a golden clasp upon it, and gild its edges by a life of love, and truth, and purity, and zeal. Thus shall we commend the volume to those who have never looked within its pages. Brethren, the sacred roll, with its seven seals, must not be held in hands defiled and polluted; but with clean hands and pure heart we must hold it forth and publish it among men. God help us so to do for Jesus' sake! Amen.
Why They Leave Us and The Redeemer's Prayer
Why They Leave Us
March 21st, 1886 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24 .
The prayer of the Savior rises as it proceeds. He asked for his people that they might be preserved from the world, then that they might be sanctified, and then that they might be made manifestly one; and now he reaches his crowning point that they may be with him where he is, and behold his glory. It is well when in prayer the spirit takes to itself wings. The prayer that swings to and fro like a door upon its hinges may admit to fellowship; but that prayer is more after the divine pattern which, like a ladder, rises round by round, until it loses itself in heaven. This last step of our Lord's prayer is not only above all the rest, but it is a longer step than any of the others. He here ascends, not from one blessing which may be enjoyed on earth, to another of higher degree; but he mounts right away from all that is of this present state into that which is reserved for the eternal future. He quits the highest peaks of grace, and at a single stride his prayer sets its foot in glory: "that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." There is this to be noticed also concerning this divine prayer, that not only does it rise as to its subject, but it even ascends as to the place which the Intercessor appears to occupy. Has it not been so with yourselves in prayer at times, that you have hardly known where you were? You might have cried with Paul, "Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell." Do not these words of our Lord Jesus remind you of this? Was he not carried away by the fervor of his devotion? Where was he when he uttered the words of our text? If I follow the language I might conclude that our Lord was already in heaven. He says, "rather, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory." Does he not mean that they should be in heaven with him? Of course he does; yet he was not in heaven; he was still in the midst of his apostles, in the body upon earth; and he had yet Gethsemane and Golgotha before him ere he could enter his glory. He had prayed himself into such an exaltation of feeling that his prayer was in heaven, and he himself was there in spirit. What a hint this gives to us! How readily may we quit the field of battle and the place of agony, and rise into such fellowship with God, that we may think and speak, and act, as if we were already in possession of our eternal joy! By the ardor of prayer and the confidence of faith we may be caught up into Paradise, and there utter words which are beyond the latitude of earth, and are dated "from the Delectable Mountains." Nor is this all; for still the prayer rises, not only as to its matter and place, but in a very singular way it also takes to itself a higher style. Before, our Lord had asked and pleaded; but now he uses a firmer word: he says, "Father, I will." I would not force that word so as to make it bear an imperious or commanding meaning, for the Savior speaketh not so to the Father: but still it has a more elevated tone about it than asking. Our Lord here useth the royal manner rather than the tone of his humiliation. He speaketh like unto the Son of God; he addresses the great Father as one who counteth it not robbery to be equal with him, but exercises the prerogative of his Eternal Sonship. He saith, "I will." This is a tone which belongs not to us except in a very modified degree, but it teaches us a lesson. It is well in prayer, when the Holy Spirit helpeth us, not only to groan out of the dust as suppliant sinners, but to seek unto our Father in the spirit of adoption with the confidence of children, and then with the promise of God in our hand we may with consecrated bravery lay hold upon the covenant angel, and cry, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Importunity is a humble approach to this divine "I will." The will consecrated, educated, and sanctified, may and must reveal itself in our more spiritual petitions, just as, with equal correctness, it hides away when the pleading is for temporal things, and whispers, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt." The Lord pours upon his pleading servants at times a kind of inspiration by which they rise into power in prayer, and have their will of the Lord. Is it not written, "Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart?" We come at last to feel that the desires of our heart are inspired of his Spirit, and then that we have the petitions which we have asked of him. There ought to be much for our edification in a text like this, which in subject, place, and style rises to such an elevation. It is the apex of this wonderful pyramid of prayer; the last round of the ladder of light. O Spirit of the Lord, instruct us while we behold it! I have taken this text because it has taken hold on me. Our beloved brother, Charles Stanford, has just been taken from us. I seem to be standing as one of a company of disciples, and my brethren are melting away. My brethren, my comrades, my delights, are leaving me for the better land. We have enjoyed holy and happy fellowship in days of peace, and we have stood shoulder to shoulder in the battle of the Lord; but we are melting away. One has gone; another has gone; before we look round another will have departed. We see them for a moment, and they vanish from our gaze. It is true they do not rise into the air like the Divine Master from Olivet; yet do they rise, I am persuaded of that: only the poor body descends, and that descent is for a very little while. They rise, to be for ever with the Lord. The grief is to us who are left behind. What a gap is left where stood Hugh Stowell Brown! Who is to fill it? What a gap is left where stood Charles Stanford! Who is to fill it? Who among us will go next? We stand like men amazed. Some of us stood next in the rank with those who have been taken. Why this constant thinning of our ranks while the warfare is so stern? Why this removal of the very best when we so much need the noblest examples? I am bowed down, and could best express myself in a Hood of tears as I survey the line of graves so newly digged; but I restrain myself from so carnal a mode of regarding the matter, and look upon it in a clearer light. The Master is gathering the ripest of his fruit, and well doth he deserve them. His own dear hand is putting his apples of gold into his baskets of silver; and as we see that it is the Lord, we are bewildered no longer. His word, as it comes before us in the text, calms and quiets our spirits. It dries our tears, and calls us to rejoicing as we hear our heavenly Bridegroom praying, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." We understand why the dearest and best are going. We see in whose hand is held the magnet which attracts them to the skies. One by one they must depart from this lowland country, to dwell above, in the palace of the King, for Jesus is drawing them to himself. Our dear babes go home because "he gathereth the lambs with his arm and carrieth them in his bosom;" and our ripe saints go home because the Beloved is come into his garden to gather lilies. These words of our Lord Jesus explain the continual home-going; they are the answer to the riddle which we call death. I am going to talk of how our honored brethren are not, because God taketh them; and I shall be happy if my words shall prepare us to exercise a holy readiness to see the grand request of our Redeemer fulfilled, even though it cost us many a sorrowful parting. I. Let us begin as our text begins, and thus the first thought about the continual gathering to the house above will be THE HOME-WORD the rallying word: "Father." Observe, our Lord had said, "Holy Father," and toward the close of the prayer he said, "O righteous Father;" but in commencing this particular petition he uses the word "Father" by itself alone: this relationship is in itself so dear that it agrees best with the loftiest petition. I like to think of that name "Father," as used in this connection. Is it not the center of living unity? If there is to be a family gathering and reunion, where should it be but in the father's house? Who is at the head of the table but the father? All the interests of the children unite in the parent, and he feels for them all. From the great Father the Lord Jesus himself came forth. We do not understand the doctrine of the eternal filiation we adore the mystery into which we may not pry. But we know that as our Lord Jesus is God-and-man Mediator, he came forth from the Father; and unto the Father's will he submitted himself in so doing. As for us, we come distinctly of that Father, it is he that made us, and not we ourselves; and, better and brighter fact still, of his own will begat he us by the word of truth. We were born a second time from heaven, and from our Heavenly Father our spiritual life is derived. The whole of this sermon through, I want to show you that it is right that we should part with our brethren and joyfully permit of their going home; and surely I may at once ask you What can be more right than that children should go home to their father? From him they came, to him they owe their life; should they not always tend towards him, and should not this be the goal of their being, that they should at last dwell in his presence? To go away from the Father and to live apart from him is the sorrow of our fallen nature as it plays the prodigal; but the coming back to the Father is restoration to life, to peace, to happiness. Yes, all our hopeful steps are towards the Father. We are saved when by believing in the name of Jesus we receive power to become the sons of God. Our sanctification lies in the bosom of our adoption. Because Jesus comes from the Father and leads us back to the Father, therefore is there a heaven for us. Wherefore, whenever we think of heaven let us chiefly think of the Father; for it is in our Father's house that there are many mansions, and it is to the Father that our Lord has gone, that he may prepare a place for us. "FATHER!" why, it is a bell that rings us home. He who hath the spirit of adoption feels that the Father draws him home, and he would fain run after him. How intensely did Jesus turn to the Father! He cannot speak of the glory wherein he is to be without coupling his Father with it. Brethren, it is in the Father that we live and move and have our being. Is there any spiritual life in the world which does not continually proceed from the life of the great Father? Is it not by the continual outcoming of the Holy Ghost from the Father that we remain spiritual men? And as from him we live, so for him we live, if we live aright. We wish so to act as to glorify God in everything. Even our salvation should not be an ultimate end with any one of us; we should desire to glorify God by our salvation. We look upon the doctrines that we preach, and the precepts which we obey, as means to the glory of God, even the Father. This is the consummation which the First-born looks for, and to which all of us who are like him are aspiring also, namely, that God may be all in all: that the great Father may be had in honor, and may be worshipped in every place. Since, then, we are from him, and of him, and to him, and for him, this word "Father" calls us to gather at his feet. Shall any one of us lament the process? No; we dare not complain that our choicest brethren are taken up to gladden the great Father's house. Our brother is gone; but we ask, "Where is he gone?" and when the answer comes, "He is gone to the Father," all notion of complaint is over. To whom else should he go? When the great First-born went away from us, he told his sorrowing followers that he was going to their Father and his Father; and that answer was enough. So, when our friend, or our child, or our wife, or our brother is gone, it is enough that he is with the Father. To call them back does not occur to us; but rather we each one desire to follow after them.
"Father, I long, I faint to see The place of thine abode; I'd leave thine earthly courts and flee Up to thy seat, my God."
A child may be happy at school, but he longs for the holidays. Is it merely to escape his lessons? Ah, no! Ask him, and he will tell you, "I want to go home to see my father." The same is equally true, and possibly more so, if we include the feminine form of parentage. What a home-cry is that of "mother!" The sight of that dear face has been longed and hungered for by many a child when far away. Mother or father, which you will; they are blended in the great Fatherhood of God. Let it but be said that any one has gone to his father, and no further question is asked as to the right of his going thither. To the father belongs the first possession of the child; should he not have his own child at home? The Savior wipes our tears away with a handkerchief which is marked in the corner with this word "Father." II. Secondly, I want your thoughts upon THE HOME IMPETUS. The force which draws us home lies in the word, "I will." Jesus Christ, our most true God, veiled in human form, bows his knee and prays, and throws his divine energy into the prayer for the bringing home of his redeemed. This one irresistible, everlastingly almighty prayer carries everything before it. "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am," is the centripetal energy which is drawing all the family of God towards its one home. How shall the chosen get home to the Father? Chariots are provided. Here are the chariots of fire and horses of fire in this prayer. "I will," saith Jesus, "that they be with me;" and with him they must be. There are difficulties in the way long nights and darkness lie between, and hills of guilt, and forests of trouble, and bands of fierce temptations; yet the pilgrims shall surely reach their journey's end, for the Lord's "I will" shall be a wall of fire round about them. In this petition I see both sword and shield for the church militant. Here I see the eagles' wings on which they shall be upborne till they enter within the golden gates. Jesus saith, "I will;" and who is he that shall hinder the home-coming of the chosen? As well hope to arrest the marches of the stars of heaven. Examine the energy of this "I will" for a moment, and you will see, first, that it hath the force of an intercessory prayer. It is a gem from that wonderful breastplate of jewels which our great High-priest wore upon his breast when he offered his fullest intercession. I cannot imagine our Lord's interceding in vain. If he asks that we may be with him where he is, he must assuredly have his request. It is written, that "he was heard in that he feared." When with strong crying and tears he poured out his soul unto death, his Father granted the requests of his heart. I do not wonder it should be so; how could the best Beloved fail of that which he sought in intercession from his Father God! Mark, then, that the force of irresistible intercession is drawing every blood-bought soul into the place where Jesus is. You cannot hold your dying babe; for Jesus asks for it to be with him. Will you come into competition with your Lord? Surely you will not. You cannot hold your aged father, nor detain your beloved mother, beyond the time appointed; for the intercession of Christ has such a force about it that they must ascend even as sparks must seek the sun. More than intercession is found in the expression "I will." It suggests the idea of a testamentary bequest and appointment. The Lord Jesus is making his last will and testament, and he writes, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me." No man who makes his will likes to have it frustrated. Our Savior's testament will assuredly be carried out in every jot and tittle; and, if for no other reason, yet certainly for this cause, that though he died, and thus made his will valid, yet he lives again to be his own executor, and to carry out his will. When I read in our Lord's testament the words, "Father, I will that they be with me," I ask, "Who is to hold them back?" They must in due time be with him, for the will of the ever blessed Savior must be carried out: there can be no standing against a force of that kind. Nor is this all: the words read to me, not only like intercession and testamentary decree, but there is a strong expression of desire, resolve, and purpose. Jesus desires it, and saith, "I will." It is a deliberate desire a forcible, distinct, resolute, determined purpose. The will of God is supreme law. It needeth not that he should speak; he doth but will or purpose, and the thing is done. Now read my text: "I will that they be with me;" the Son of God wills it. How are the saints to be hindered from what the Lord wills? They must rise from their beds of dust and silent clay; they must rise to be with Jesus where he is, for Jesus wills it. By your anxious care you may seek to detain them; you may sit about their bed and nurse them both night and day, but they must quit these dark abodes when Jesus gives the signal. You may clutch them with affectionate eagerness, and even cry in despair, "They shall not go, we cannot bear to part with them;" but go they must when Jesus calls. Take back your naughty hands, which would detain them, for naughty they are if you would rob your Savior. Would you cross his will? Would you set at naught his testament? You could not if you would; you would not if you could. Rather be inclined to go with them than think to resist the heavenly attraction which upraises them. If Jesus saith, "I will," then it is yours to say, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt. They were never so much mine as they are thine. I never had so much right to them as thou hast who hast bought them. They never so truly could be at home with me as they will be at home with thee in thine own bosom; so my will dissolves itself into thy will, and I say with steadfast resignation, 'Let them go.'" Brothers and sisters, you perceive the forces which are bearing away our beloved ones. I see tender hands reaching after us this morning; they are invisible to sense, but palpable to faith. Cords of love are being cast about the chosen, and they are being drawn out secretly from their fellows. Would you break those bands asunder, and cast those cords from us? I beseech you, think not so; but let that pierced hand which bought the beloved ones seek out its own purchase and bring them home. Should not Jesus have his own? Do we not bow our knee and pray for Jesus, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven?" III. But now I want to conduct you farther into the text. We have had the home-word and the home-bringing impetus, and now let us carefully note THE HOME CHARACTER. "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." The description is "They also, whom thou hast given me." The Greek is somewhat difficult to translate. The translators of the Revised Version were, no doubt, excellent Greek scholars, and if they had known a little more English, they might have come a little nearer to a perfect translation, but they do not always appear to think the common English reader to be worthy of their consideration. This is their translation in the present instance: "Father, that which thou hast given me, I will that, where I am they also may be with me." This, to speak plainly, sounds very like nonsense. It is the translation which a boy would present to his tutor at school, but it is of small use to the general reader. It is literal, no doubt; but literalisms are often another proof that the letter killeth. Translators into the English tongue might have contrived to have given us words with a meaning in them. I merely quote the version to show you that there is here a something in the singular as well as persons in the plural. "Father, I will concerning that which thou hast given me, that they may be with me where I am." Our Lord looked upon those whom the Father gave him as one one body, one church, one bride: he willed that as a whole the church should be with him where he is. Then he looked again and saw each of the many individuals of whom the one church is composed, and he prayed that each, that all of these, might be with him and behold his glory. Jesus never so prays for the whole church as to forget a single member; neither does he so pray for the members individually as to overlook the corporate capacity of the whole. Sweet thought! Jesus wills to have the whole of what he bought with his precious blood with him in heaven; he will not lose any part. He did not die for a part of a church, nor will he be satisfied unless the entire flock which he has purchased shall be gathered around him. But while the Lord looks at those whom his Father gave him as one body, he looks upon you and me, and each believer here, as a part of that great unity, and his prayer is that all of us may be with him. I believe that he prays as much for the least as for the greatest, as much for Benjamin as for Judah, as much for the despondent as for those who are fully assured. The prayer is one of great breadth and comprehensiveness, but yet it is not the prayer which those who believe in Universalism would put into his mouth. He does not pray that those who die unbelievers may be with him where he is, neither does he will that souls in hell should one day come out of it and be with him in glory. There is no trace of that doctrine in holy writ: those who teach such fables draw their inspiration from some other source. The new purgatory, in which so many have come to believe, is unknown to Holy Scripture. No, our Lord's prayer is distinctly for those whom the Father gave him for every one of these, but for no others. His "I will" concerns them only. I feel right glad that there is no sort of personal character mentioned here, but only "Those whom thou hast given me." It seems as if the Lord in his last moments was not so much looking at the fruit of grace as at grace itself; he did not so much note either the perfections or the imperfections of his people, but only the fact that they were his by the eternal gift of the Father. They belonged to the Father "thine they were." The Father gave them to Jesus "thou gavest them me." The Father gave them as a love token and a means of his Son's glorification "Thine they were and thou gavest them me;" and now our Lord pleads that because they were the Father's gift to him he should have them with him. Does anybody raise a cavil as to Christ's right to have those with him who were his Father's, whom his Father gave him, and whom he himself actually took into his own possession? No, they ought to be with him, since they are his in so divine a manner. If I possess a love-token that some dear one has given me I may rightly desire to have it with me. Nobody can have such a right to your wedding-ring, good sister, as you have yourself, and are not Christ's saints, as it were, a signet upon his finger, a token which his Father gave him of his good pleasure in him? Should they not be with Jesus where he is, since they are his crown jewels and his glory? We in our creature love lift up our hands, and cry, "My Lord, my Master, let me have this dear one with me a little longer. I need the companionship of one so sweet, or life will be misery to me." But if Jesus looks us in the face, and says, "Is thy right better than mine?" we draw back at once. He has a greater part in his saints than we can have. O Jesus, thy Father gave them to thee of old; they are his reward for the travail of thy soul; and far be it from us to deny thee. Though blinded by our tears, we can yet see the rights of Jesus, and we loyally admit them. We cry concerning our best beloved, "The Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord." Does not the text sweetly comfort us in the talking away of one and another, since it shows how they belong to Christ? IV. And now, advancing another step, Christ reveals to us something concerning THE HOME COMPANIONSHIP in the glory land. Those who are taken away, where are they gone? The text saith, "I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory." By this language we are impressed with the nearness of the saints to Christ in glory "that they may be with me." Think for a moment: when our Lord used these words, and John took them down, the disciples were with him. They had left the supper-table where they had feasted together. The Master had said, "Arise, let us go hence;" and it was in the very midst of them that the Lord Jesus offered this choice prayer. Learn, then, that in heaven the saints will be nearer to Christ than the apostles were when they sat at the table with him, or heard him pray. That was a nearness which might consist only in place, and their minds might still be, as they often were, far away from him: but up in heaven we shall be one with him in sympathy, in spirit, in conscious fellowship. We shall be with Jesus in the closest, clearest, and most complete sense. No fellowship on earth can reach to the plenitude of the communion which we shall enjoy above. "With him" "for ever with the Lord" this is heaven. Who would wish to detain from such companionship those whom we love? Yet do not drop the thought of place, lest you refine away the essence of the prayer. Let us see the spiritual clearly, but let us not, on that account, make the sense less real, less matter of fact. To the prayer that his saints may be with him our Lord added the words, "May be with me where I am." Our bodies will rise from the dust, and they must occupy a place: that place will be where Jesus is. Even spirits must be somewhere, and that somewhere with us is to be where Jesus is. We are to be, not metaphorically and fancifully, but really, truly, literally with Jesus. We shall enjoy an intense nearness to him in that blessed place which the Father has prepared for him, and which he is preparing for us. There is a place where Jesus is revealed in all the splendor of his majesty, amid angels and glorified spirits; and those whom our Lord's will has taken away from us have not gone into banishment in a mysterious land, neither are they shut up in a house of detention till there is a general jail delivery, but they are with Christ in Paradise. They serve him, and they see his face. Who would be so cruel as to keep a saint from such a fair country? I would desire all good for my children, my relatives, my friends; and what good is better than to be where Jesus is? Are you not glad to hear of the promotion of those you love? Will you quarrel with God because some of your dearest ones are promoted to the skies? The thought of their amazing bliss greatly moderates our natural grief. We weep for ourselves, but as we remember their companionship with the Altogether Lovely One a smile blends with our tears. Notice the occupation of those who are with Jesus: "That they may behold my glory." I do not wonder that Jesus wants his dear ones to be with him for this purpose, since love always pines for a partner in its joys. When I have been abroad, and have been specially charmed with glorious scenery, I have a hundred times felt myself saying, almost involuntarily, "How I wish that my dear wife could be here! I should enjoy this a hundred times as much if she could but see it!" It is an instinct of affection to seek fellowship in joy. The Lord Jesus is truly human, and he feels this unselfish desire of every loving human heart, and therefore says, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." Our Lord graciously permits his disciples to have fellowship with him in his sufferings, and hence he is all the more desirous that they should participate in his glory. He knows that nothing will be a greater joy to them than to see him exalted; therefore he would give them this highest form of delight. Was not Joseph delighted when he said to his brethren, "Ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt;" and still more so when he could actually show his father how great was his power, how exalted was his rank. It is joy to Jesus to let us behold his joy, and it will be glory to us to behold his glory. Should not the redeemed ascend to such blessed delights? Would you hinder them? How unselfish it is on our Lord's part to think himself not fully glorified till we behold his glory! How unselfish he will make us also, since it will be our glory to see his glory! He does not say that he is going to take us home, that we may be in glory, but that we may behold his glory. His glory is better to us than any personal glory: all things are more ours by being his. Glory apart from him were no glory. Beloved, even as our Lord seems to lose himself in his people, his people hide themselves away in him. It is his glory to glorify them; it is their glory to glorify him; and it will be the glory of glories for them to be glorified together. Who would not go to this heaven? Who would keep a brother out of it an hour? Observe the fellowship which exists in the glory land. Read the verse: "That they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me." What a blending of persons! Where did our Lord's glory come from? "Thou gavest it me," says Jesus. Hence it is the Father's glory passed over to the Son. Yet Jesus calls it "my glory," for it is truly his own. The saints are to behold this, and it will be their glory to see it. Here we have the Father, and the Elder Brother, and the many brethren, and a wonderful communism of interests and possessions. It is ever so in a loving family. There we draw no hard and fast lines of meum and tuum. "All thine are mine, and mine are thine." We ask not whose is this? or whose is that? when we are at home. If you were to go into a stranger's house, you would not think of taking this or that; but as your father's own son you make yourself at home, and no one enquires, "What doest thou?" Bridegroom and bride do not quarrel about property whether it be his or hers. Laws have been made lately to settle different estates for those who are one: this is well enough when love is gone, but true conjugal love laughs at all that can make separate that which God hath joined together. The wife says, "That is mine." "No" saith the caviller, "it is your husband's." Her answer is, "and therefore it is mine." In that blessed union into which divine love has admitted us Christ is ours, and we are Christ's; his Father is our Father, we are one with him, he is one with the Father: and hence all things are ours, and the Father himself loveth us. All this will not only be true in heaven, but it will there be realized and acted on. So when the Lord brings his people home, we shall be one with him, and he one with the Father, and we also in him one with the Father, so that we shall then find boundless glory in beholding the glory of our Lord and God. My text has baffled me. I am beaten back by its blaze of light. Forgive me. I had a thought, but I cannot express it. The fire of my text burns with such fervent heat that it threatens to consume me if I draw nearer to it. Easily could I step into heaven so I feel at this moment. V. I must end by speaking of THE HOME ATMOSPHERE. None of us can wish our departed friends back from their thrones. Since they have gone to be where Jesus is, and to enter so fully into the most blissful fellowship with him and the Father, we would not have them return even for an instant to this poor country. We only wish that our turn for migration may come soon. We would not be too long divided from our fellows. If some of the birds have gone to the sunny land, let us plume our wings to follow them. There will be only a little interval between our parting and our everlasting meeting. Look at the many who died before we came into the world. Some of them have been in heaven together now for thousands of years. To them it must seem that they were only divided by a moment's interval; their continents of fellowship have made the channel of death seem but a streak of sea. Soon we shall take the same view of things. Breathe the home atmosphere. Jesus tells us that the atmosphere of his home is love: "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." Brethren, can you follow me in a great flight? Can you stretch broader wings than the condor ever knew, and fly back into the unbeginning eternity? There was a day before all days, when there was no day but the Ancient of Days. There was a time before all time, when God only was: the uncreated, the only-existent One. The Divine Three, Father, Son, and Spirit, lived in blessed consort with each other, delighting in each other. Oh the intensity of the divine love of the Father to the Son! There was no world, no sun, no moon, no stars, no universe, but God alone; and the whole of God's omnipotence flowed forth in a stream of love to the Son, while the Son's whole being remained eternally one with the Father by a mysterious essential union. How came all this which we now see and hear? Why this creation? this fall of Adam? this redemption? this church? this heaven? How came it all about? It needed not to have been, but the Father's love made him resolve to show forth the glory of his Son. The mysterious volume which has been gradually unfolded before us has only this one design the Father would make known his love to the Son, and make the Son's glories to appear before the eyes of those whom the Father gave him. This Fall and this Redemption, and the story as a whole, so far as the divine purpose is concerned, are the fruit of the Father's love to the Son, and his delight in glorifying the Son. Those myriads, those white-robed myriads, harping to music infinitely deep, what mean they all? They are the Father's delight in the Son. That he might be glorified for ever, he permitted that he should bear a human body, and should suffer, bleed, and die, so that there might come out of him, as a harvest cometh from a dying and buried corn of wheat, all the countless hosts of elect souls, ordained for ever to a felicity exceeding bounds. These are the bride of the Lamb, the body of Christ, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Their destiny is so high that no language can fully describe it. God only knows the love of God, and all that it has prepared for those who are the objects of it. Love wraps up the whole in its cloth of gold. Love is both the source and the channel, and the end of the divine acting. Because the Father loved the Son he gave us to him, and ordained that we should be with him. His love to us is love to the Son. "Not for your sakes do I this, O House of Israel; be ashamed and be confounded." Because of the boundless, ineffable, infinite love of the great Father toward his Son, therefore hath he ordained this whole system of salvation and redemption, that Jesus in the church of his redeemed might everlastingly be glorified. Let our saintly ones go home, beloved, if that is the design of their going. Since all comes of divine love, and all sets forth divine love, let them go to him who loves them let divine love fulfill its purpose of bringing many sons unto glory. Since the Father once made our Lord perfect by his sufferings, let him now be made perfectly glorious by the coming up of his redeemed from the purifying bath of his atonement I see them rise like sheep from the washing, all of them gathering with delight at the feet of that great Shepherd of the sheep. Beloved, I am lost in the subject now. I breathe that heavenly air. Love surrounds all, and conquers grief. I will not cause the temperature to fall by uttering any other words but this Hold your friends lovingly, but be ready to yield them to Jesus. Detain them not from him to whom they belong. When they are sick, fast and pray; but when they are departed, do much as David did, who washed his face, and ate, and drank. You cannot bring them back again; you will go to them, they cannot return to you. Comfort yourselves with the double thought of their joy in Christ and Christ's joy in them; add the triple thought of the Father's joy in Christ and in them. Let us watch the Master's call. Let us not dread the question who next, and who next? Let none of us start back as though we hoped to linger longer than others. Let us even desire to see our names in the celestial conscription. Let us be willing to be dealt with just as our Lord pleases. Let no doubt intervene; let no gloom encompass us. Dying is but going home; indeed, there is no dying for the saints. Charles Stanford is gone! Thus was his death told to me "He drew up his feet and smiled." Thus will you and I depart. He had borne his testimony in the light, even when blind. He had cheered us all, though he was the greatest sufferer of us all; and now the film has gone from the eyes, and the anguish is gone from the heart, and he is with Jesus. He smiled. What a sight was that which caused that smile! I have seen many faces of dear departed ones lit up with splendor. Of many I could feel sure that they had seen a vision of angels. Traces of a reflected glory hung about their countenances. O brethren, we shall soon know more of heaven than all the divines can tell us. Let us go home now to our own dwellings; but let us pledge ourselves that we will meet again. But where shall we appoint the trysting place? It would be idle to appoint any spot of earth, for this assembly will never come together again in this world. We will meet with Jesus, where he is, where we shall behold his glory. Some of you cannot do this. Turn from your evil ways. Turn to the right, where stands that cross, and keep straight on, and you will come to Jesus in glory. Blessed be the name of the Lord! Amen.
The Redeemer's Prayer
April 18th, 1858 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundations of the world." John 17:24 .
When the High Priest of old entered into the most holy place, he kindled the incense in his censer, and waving it before him, he perfumed the air with its sweet fragrance, and veiled the mercy seat with the denseness of its smoke. Thus was it written concerning him, "He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not." Even so our Lord Jesus Christ, when he would once for all enter within the vail with his own blood to make an atonement for sin, did first offer strong crying and prayers. In this 17th chapter of John, we have, as it were, the smoking of the Saviour's pontifical center. He prayed for the people for whom he was about to die, and ere he sprinkled them with his blood, he did sanctify them with his supplications. This prayer therefore stands pre-eminent in Holy Writ as the Lord's Prayer the special and peculiar prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ; and "if," as an old divine hath it, "it be lawful to prefer one Scripture above another, we may say, though all be gold, yet this is a pearl in the gold; though all be like the heavens, this is as the sun and stars." Or if one part of Scripture be more dear to the believer than any other, it must be this which contains his Master's last prayer before he entered through the rent vail of his own crucified body. How sweet it is to see that not himself, but his people, constituted the staple of his prayer! He did pray for himself he said, "Father, glorify thou me!" but while he had one prayer for himself, he had many for his people. Continually did he pray for them "father, sanctify them!" "Father, keep them!" "Father, make them one!" And then he concluded his supplication with, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." Melancthon well said there was never a more excellent, more holy, more fruitful, and more affectionate voice ever heard in heaven or in earth, than this prayer. We shall first notice the style of the prayer; secondly, the persons interested in it; and thirdly, the great petitions offered the last head constituting the main part of our discourse. I. First, notice THE STYLE OF THE PRAYER it is singular: it is, "Father, I will". Now, I cannot but conceive that there is something more in the expression, "I will" than a mere wish.It seems to one, that when Jesus said "I will," although perhaps it might not be proper to say that he made a demand, yet we may say that he pleaded with authority, asking for that which he knew to be his own, and uttering an "I will" as potent as any fiat that ever sprang from the lips of the Almighty "Father, I will." It is an unusual thing to find Jesus Christ saying to God, "I will" You know that before the mountains were brought forth, it was said of Christ, "in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O God." and we find whilst he was on earth, that he never mentioned his own will, that he expressly declared, "I came not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." It is true you do hear him when addressing men, saying "I will," for he saith, "I will, be thou clean;" but in his prayers to his Father he prayed with all humility;
"With sighs and groans he offered up, His humble suit below."
"I will," therefore, seems to be an exception to the rule; but we must remember that Christ was now in an exceptional condition. He had never been before where he was now. He was now come to the end of his work; he could say, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do," and therefore, looking forward to the time when the sacrifice would be complete and he should ascend on high, he sees that his work is done, and takes his own will back again and saith, "Father, I will." Now, mark, that such a prayer as this would be totally unbecoming in our lips. We are never to say, "Father, I will." Our prayer is to be, "Not my will, but thine be done." We are to mention our wishes, but our wills are to subside into the will of God. We are to feel that whilst it is ours to desire, it is God's to will. But how pleasant, I repeat, it is to find the Savior pleading with such authority as this, for this puts the stamp of certainty upon his prayer. Whatsoever he has asked for in that chapter he shall have beyond a doubt. At other times, when he pleaded as a Mediator, in his humility he was eminently successful in his intercessions; how much more shall his prayer prevail now that he takes to himself his great power, and with authority cries, "Father, I will." I love that opening to the prayer, it is a blessed guarantee of its fulfillment, rendering it so sure that we may now look upon Christ's prayer as a promise which shall be assuredly fulfilled. II. Thus much concerning the style of the prayer; and now we NOTICE THE PERSONS FOR WHOM HE PRAYED, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." This was not an universal prayer. It was a prayer including within it a certain class and portion of mankind, who are designated as "those whom the Father had given him." Now we are taught to believe that God the Father did, from before the foundation of the world, give unto his Son Jesus Christ a number whom no man can number, who were to be the reward of his death, the purchase of the travail of his soul; who were to be infallibly brought unto everlasting glory by the merits of his passion, and the power of his resurrection. These are the people here referred to. Sometimes in Scripture they are called the elect, because when the Father gave them to Christ he chose them out from among men. At other times they are called the beloved, because God's love was set upon them of old. They are called Israel; for like Israel of old, they are a chosen people, a royal generation. They are called God's inheritance, for they are especially dear to God's heart; and as a man careth for his inheritance and his portion, so the Lord careth especially for them. Let me not be misunderstood. The people whom Christ here prays for, are those whom God the Father out of his own free love and sovereign good pleasure ordained unto eternal life, and who, in order that his design might be accomplished, were given into the hands of Christ the Mediator, by him to be redeemed, sanctified, and perfected, and by him to be glorified everlastingly. These people, and none others, are the object of our Saviour's prayer. It is not for me to defend the doctrine; it is Scriptural, that is my only defense. It is not for me to vindicate God from any profane charge of partiality or injustice. If there be any wicked enough to impute this to him, let them settle the matter with their Maker. Let the thing formed, if it have arrogance enough, say to him that formed it, "Why hast thou made me thus?" I am not God's apologist, he needs no defender. "Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Hath he not, like the potter, power over the clay, to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor?" Instead of disputing, let us enquire who are these people? Do we belong to them? Oh! let each heart now put the solemn query, "Am I included in that happy throng whom God the Father gave to Christ?" Beloved, I cannot tell you by the mere hearing of your names; but if I know your character, I can tell you decisively or rather, you will need no telling, for the Holy Spirit will bear witness in your hearts that you are amongst the number. Answer this question Have you given yourselves to Christ? Have you been brought, by the constraining power of his own free love, to make a voluntary surrender of yourself to him? Have you said, "O Lord other lords have had dominion over me; but now I reject them, and I give myself up to thee.
'Other refuge have I none; Hangs my helpless soul on thee;'
and as I have no other refuge, so I have no other Lord. Little am I worth, but such as I am, I give all I have and all I am to thee. It is true, I was never worth thy purchasing, but since thou hast bought me, thou shalt have me. Lord, I make a full surrender of myself to thee." Well, soul, if thou hast done this, if thou hast given thyself to Christ, it is but the result of that ancient grant made by Jehovah to his son long ere the worlds were made. And, once again, canst thou feel to-day that thou art Christ's? If thou canst not remember the time when he sought thee and brought thee to himself, yet canst thou say with the spouse "I am my beloved's?" Can you now from your inmost soul say, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! If so, trouble not your minds about election, there is nothing troublesome in election to you. He that believes is elected, he who is given to Christ now, was given to Christ from before the foundation of the world. You need not dispute divine decrees, but sit down and draw honey out of this rock, and wine out of this flinty rock. Oh, it is a hard, hard doctrine to a man who has no interest in it, but when a man has once a title to it, then it is like the rock in the wilderness, it streams with refreshing water whereat myriads may drink and never thirst again. Well does the Church of England say of that doctrine, "is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons." And though it be like the Tarpeian rock, whence many a malefactor has been dashed to pieces in presumption, yet it is like Pisgah, from whose lofty summit the spires of heaven may be seen in the distance. Again, I say, be not cast down, neither let your hearts be disconsolate. If you be given to Christ now, you are among the happy number for whom he intercedes above, and you shall be gathered amongst the glorious throng, to be with him where he is, and to behold his glory. III. I very briefly pass over these two points, because I desire to dwell upon the third, which is, THE PETITIONS WHICH THE SAVIOR OFFERS. Christ prayed, if I understand his prayer, for three things things which constitute Heaven's greatest joy, Heaven's sweetest employment, and Heaven's highest privilege. 1. The first great thing he prayed for, is that which is heaven's greatest joy "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." If you notice, every word in the sentence is necessary to its fullness. He does not say "I pray that those, whom thou hast given me, may be where I am;" but, " with me where I am." And he does not only pray that they might be with him, but that they might be with him in the same place where he is. And mark! he did not say he wished his people to be in heaven, but with him in heaven, because that makes heaven heaven. It is the very pith and marrow of heaven to be with Christ. Heaven without Christ would be but an empty place it would lose its happiness, it would be a harp without strings; and where would be the music? a sea without water, a very pool of Tantalus. He prayed then that we might be with Christ that is our companionship, with him where he is that is our position. It seems as if he would tell us, that heaven is both a condition and a state in the company of Christ, and in the place where Christ is. I might, if I expose, enlarge very much on these points, but I just throw out the raw material of a few thoughts, that will furnish you with topics of meditation in the afternoon. Let us now pause and think how sweet this prayer is, by contrasting it with our attainments on earth. "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." Ah! brothers and sisters, we know a little of what it is to be with Christ. There are some happy moments, sweet pauses between the din of the continued battles of this wearied life there are some soft times, like couches of rest, wherein we do repose. There are hour when our Master comes to us, and makes us, or ever we are aware, like the chariots of Amminadib. It is true, we have not been caught up to the third heaven, like Paul, to hear words which it is unlawful for us to utter; but we have sometimes thought that the third heavens have come down to us. Sometimes I have said within myself, "Well, if this be not heaven, it is next door to it" and we have thought that we were dwelling in the suburbs of the celestial city. You were in that land which Bunyan calls the land Beulah. You were so near to heaven, that the angels did flit across the stream and bring you sweet bunches of myrrh, and bundles of frankincense, which grow in the beds of spices on the hills, and you pressed these to your heart and said with the spouse, "A bundle of myrrh, is my well beloved unto me. he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts," for I am ravished with his love and filled with his delights He hath made himself near to me, he hath unveiled his countenance and manifested all his love. But, beloved, while this gives us a foretaste of heaven, we may nevertheless use our state on earth as a complete contrast to the state of the glorified above. For here, when we see our Master, it is but at a distance. We are sometimes we think in his company, but still we cannot help feeling that there is a great gulf fixed between us, even when we come the nearest to him. We talk, you know, about laying our head upon his bosom, and sitting at his feet; but alas! we find it after all to be very metaphorical, compared with the reality which we shall enjoy above. We have seen his face, we trust we have sometimes looked into his heart, and tasted that he is gracious, but still long nights of darkness lay between us. We have cried again and again with the bride, "Oh, that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate." We were with him but still he was in an upper-room of the house, and we below; we were with him but still we felt that we were absent from him, even when we were the nearest to him. Again, even the sweetest visits from Christ, how short they are! Christ comes and goes very much like an angel; his visits are few and far between with the most of us, and oh! so short alas, too short for bliss. One moment our eyes see him, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, but again a little time and we do not see him, our beloved withdraws himself from us; like a roe or a young hart he leaps over the mountain of division; he is gone back to the land of spices, and feeds no more among the lilies.
"If to-day he deigns to bless us With a sense of pardoned sin, He to-morrow may distress us, Make us feel the plague within"
Oh, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not see him at a distance, but face to face. There is a sermon in those words, "face to face." And then we shall not see him for a little time, but
"Millions of years our wondering eyes, Shall o'er our Saviour's beauties rove; And myriad ages we'll adore, The wonders of his love."
Oh, if it is sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for aye, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one's eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest days! when shall ye come, when our companionship with Christ shall be close and uninterrupted? And let us remark, again, that when we get a glimpse of Christ, many step in to interfere. We have our hours of contemplation, when we do draw near to Jesus, but alas! how the world steps in and interrupts even our most quiet moments the shop, the field, the child, the wife, the head, perhaps the very heart, all these are interlopers between ourselves and Jesus. Christ loves quiet; he will not talk to our souls in the busy market place, but he says, "Come, my love, into the vineyard, get thee away into the villages, there will I show thee my love." But when we go to the villages, behold the Philistine is there, the Canaanite has invaded the land. When we would be free from all thought except thought of Jesus, the wandering band of Bedouin thoughts come upon us, and they take away our treasures, and spoil our tents. We are like Abraham with his sacrifice; we lay out the pieces ready for the burning, but foul birds come to feast on the sacrifice which we desire to keep for our God and for him alone. We have to do as Abraham did; "When the birds came down upon the sacrifice, Abraham drove them away." But in heaven there shall be no interruption, no weeping eyes shall make us for a moment pause in our vision, no earthly joys, no sensual delights, shall create a discord in our melody; there shall we have no fields to till, no garment to spin, no wearied limb, no dark distress, no burning thirst, no pangs of hunger, no weepings of bereavement; we shall have nought to do or think upon, but for ever to gaze upon that Sun of Righteousness, with eyes that cannot be blinded, and with a heart that can never be weary; to lie in those arms for ever; throughout a whole eternity to be pressed to his bosom, to feel the beatings of his ever faithful heart; to drink his love; to be satisfied for ever with his favor, and full with the goodness of the Lord! Oh! if we have only to die to get to such delights as these, death is gain, it is swallowed up in victory. Nor must we turn away from the sweet thought, that we are to be with Christ where he is, until we have remembered, that though we often draw near to Jesus on earth, yet the most we ever have of him, is but a sip of the well. We sometimes come to the wells of Elim and the seventy palm trees, but when sitting beneath the palm trees, we feel that it is just like an oasis; to-morrow we shall have to be treading the burning sands, with the scorching sky above us. One day we sit down and we drink from the sweet soft spring, to-morrow we know that we have to be standing with parched lips over Marah's fount, and crying, "Alas, alas! it is bitter; I cannot drink thereof" But oh, in heaven, we shall do what holy Rutherford says, we shall put the well head to our lips and drink right on from that well that never can be drained, we shall drink to our souls utmost full. Ay, as much of Jesus as the finite can hold of infinity shall the believer receive. We shall not then see him for the twinkling of an eye and then lose him, but we shall see him ever. We shall not eat of manna that shall be like a small round thing, a coriander seed, but the manna whereof we feed shall be mountains, the broad hills of food, there we shall have rivers of delight, and oceans of ecstatic joy. Oh, it is very hard for us to tell, with all that we can guess of heaven, how large, how deep, how high, how broad it is. When Israel ate of that one fair branch which came from Esheol, they guessed what the clusters of Canaan must be; and when they tasted the honey they guessed the sweetness. But I warrant no man in all that host, had any idea of how full that land was of fertility and sweetness; how the very brooks ran with honey, and the very rocks did teem with fatness. Nor can any of us who have lived the nearest to our Master, form more than the faintest guess of what it is to be with Jesus where he is. Now all that is wanted to help my feeble description of being with Jesus, is this if you have faith in Christ, just think over this fact, that in a few more months you will know more about it than the wisest mortal ere can tell. A few more rolling suns, and you and I shall be in heaven. Go on, O Time! with thy swiftest pinions fly! A few more years, and I shall see his face. O canst thou say, my hearer, "I shall see his face?" Come, thou gray-headed one, nearing the goal of life, canst thou with confidence say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth?" If thou canst say that, it will fill thy soul with joy. I can never think of it without being moved to tears. To think that this head shall wear a crown; that these poor fingers shall strike the harp-strings of everlasting song; that this poor lip, which now faintly tells the wonders of redeeming grace, shall join with cherubim and seraphim, and rival them in melody. Is it not too good to be true? Does it not seem sometimes as if the very greatness of the thought overwhelmed our faith? But true it is, and though too great for us to receive it, it is not too great for God to give. We shall be with him where he is. Yes, John; thou laidst thy head upon thy Saviour's bosom once, and I have ofttimes envied thee; but I shall have thy place by-and-bye. Yes, Mary; it was thy sweet delight to sit at thy Master's feet, while Martha was cumbered with her much serving. I too, am too much cumbered with this world; but I shall leave my Martha's cares in the tomb and sit to hear thy Master's voice. Yes, O spouse, thou didst ask to be kissed with the kisses of his lips, and what thou askedst for poor humanity shall yet see. And the poorest, meanest, and most illiterate of you, who have trusted in Jesus, shall yet put your lip to the lip of your Savior, not as Judas did, but with a true "Hail, Master!" you shall kiss him. And then, wrapped in the beams of his love, as a dim star is eclipsed in the sunlight, so shall you sink into the sweet forgetfulness of ecstacy, which is the best description we can give of the joys of the redeemed. "Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." That is heaven's sweetest joy, to be with Christ. 2. And now the next prayer is, "that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me." This is heaven's sweetest employment. I doubt not there are many joys in heaven which will amplify the grand joy with which are have just started; I feel confident that the meeting of departed friends, the society of apostles, prophets priests, and martyrs, will amplify the joy of the redeemed. But still the sun that will give them the greatest light to their joy, will be the fact that they are with Jesus Christ and behold his face. And now there may be other employments in heaven, but that mentioned in the text is the chief one, "That they may behold my glory." O for the tongue of angel-O for the lip of Cherubim! for one moment to depict the mighty scenes which the Christian shall behold when he seeth the glory of his Master, Jesus Christ! Let us pass as in a panorama before your eyes the great scenes of glory which you shall behold after death. The moment the soul departs from this body, it will behold the glory of Christ. The glory of his person will he the first thing that will arrest our attention. There will he sit in the midst of the throne, and our eyes will first be caught with the glory of his appearance. Perhaps we shall be struck with astonishment. Is this the visage that was more marred than that of any man? Are these the hands that once rude iron tore? Is that the head that once was crowned with thorns. Oh, how shall our admiration rise, and rise, and rise to the very highest pitch, when we shall see him who was
"The weary man, and full of woes The humble man before his foes,"
now King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. What! are those fire-darting eyes the very eyes that once wept over Jerusalem? Are those feet shod with sandals of light; the feet that once were torn by the flinty acres of the Holy Land? Is that the man, who scarred and bruised was carried to his tomb? Yes, 'tis he. And that shall absorb our thoughts the godhead and the manhood of Christ; the wondrous feet that he is God over all blessed for ever, and yet man, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. And when for an instant we have noted this, I doubt not the next glory we shall see will be the glory of his enthronement. Oh, how will the Christian stop at the foot of his Master's throne and look upward, and if there could be tears in heaven, tears of rich delight will roll down his cheeks when he looks and sees the man enthroned. "Oh," saith he "I often used to sing on earth Crown him! crown him! crown him! King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!" And now I see him, up those hills of glorious light, my soul doth not dare to climb. There, there he sits! Dark with unsufferable light his skirts appear. Millions of angels bow themselves around him. The redeemed before his throne prostrate themselves with rapture. Ah! we shall not deliberate many moments but taking our crowns in our hands we shall help to swell that solemn pomp, and casting our crowns at his feet, we shall join the everlasting song, "Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, unto him be glory for ever and ever." Can you imagine the magnificence of the Savior? Can you conceive how thrones and princes, principalities and powers, all wait at his beck and command? Ye cannot tell how well the tiara of the universe doth fit his brow, or how the regal purple of all worlds doth gird his shoulders; but certain it is, from the highest heaven to the deepest hell, he is Lord of Lords from the furthest east to the remotest west, he is master of all. The songs of all creatures find a focus in him. He is the grand reservoir of praise. All the rivers run into the sea, and all the hallelujahs come to him, for he is Lord of all. Oh, this is heaven it is all the heaven I wish, to see my Master exalted; for, this has often braced my loins when I have been weary, and often steeled my courage when I have been faint "The Lord also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, both of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth." And then the believer will have to wait a little while, and then he shall see more glorious things yet. After a few years, he will see the glories of the latter day. We are told in prophecy, that this world is to become the dominion of Christ. At present, idolatry, and bloodshed, and cruelty, and lusts, do reign. But the hour is coming; when this Augean stable shall be cleansed once and for ever, when these huge shambles of Aceldama shall yet become the temple of the living God. We believe that in these times, Christ with solemn pomp will descend from heaven to reign upon this earth. We cannot read our Bibles and believe them literally, without believing that there are bright days coming, when Christ shall sit upon the throne of his father David, when he shall hold his court on earth, and reign amongst his ancients gloriously. But oh, if it be so, you and I shall see it, if we belong to the happy number, who have put their trust in Christ. These eyes shall see that pompous appearance, when he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth. "Mine eyes shall see him, and not another's." I could almost weep to think, that I have lost the opportunity of seeing Christ on earth as crucified. I do think the twelve apostles were very highly favored, but when we shall see our Savior here, and shall be like our head, we shall think that all deficiencies are made up in the eternal weight of glory. When from the center to the poles the harmony of this world shall all be given to his praise, these ears shall hear it, and when all nations shall join the shout, this tongue shall join the shout also. Happy men and happy women who have such a hope, so to behold the Saviour's glory. And then, after that a little pause. A thousand years shall run their golden cycle, and then shall come the judgment Christ, with sound of trumpet, in pomp terrific, shall descend from heaven Angels shall form his body-guard. surrounding him on either hand. The chariots of the Lord are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels. The whole sky shall be clad with wonders. Prodigies, and miracles shall be as rife and as plentiful as the leaves upon the trees. The earth shall totter at the tramp of the Omnipotent; the pillars of the heavens shall stagger like drunken men, beneath the weight of the eternal splendour heaven shall display itself in the sky, while on earth all men shall be assembled. The sea shall give up its dead; the graves shall yield their tenants from the cemetery, and the graveyard, and the battle-field, men shall start in their thousands; and every eye shall see him, and they who have crucified him. And while the unbelieving world shall weep and wail because of him, seeking to hide themselves from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, believers shall come forward, and, with songs and choral symphonies, shall meet their Lord Then shall they be caught up together with the Lord in the air, and after he hath said, "Come, ye blessed" they shall sit upon his throne, judging the twelve tribes of Israel; they shall take their seats as assessors upon that awful judgment bench. and when at the last he shall say, "Depart, ye cursed," and his left hand shall open the door of thunder, and let loose the flames of fire, they shall cry, Amen; and when the earth shall vanish, and men shall sink into their appointed doom, they gladly seeing the triumph of their Master, shall shout again, again, again the shout of victory "Hallelujah, for the Lord God hath triumphed over all." And to complete the scene, when the Savior shall ascend on high for the last time, his victories all completed, and death himself being slain, he, like a mighty conqueror about to ride through heaven's bright streets, shall drag at his chariot wheel hell and death. You and I, attendants at his side, shall shout the victor to his throne, and while the angels clap their bright wings and cry, "the Mediator's work is done," you and I
"Louder than them all shall sing While heaven's resounding mansions ring, With shouts of sovreign grace."
We shall behold his glory. Picture whatever splendor and magnificence you please if you do but conceive it rightly, you shall behold it. You see people in this world running through the streets a king or a queen ride through them. How they do climb to their house-tops to see some warrior return from battle. Ah! what a trifle! What is it to see a piece of flesh and blood though it be crowned with gold. But oh! what is it to see the Son of God with heaven's highest honors to attend him, entering within the pearly gates, while the vast universe resounds with "Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." 3. I must close by noticing the last point, which is this. In our Saviour's prayer heaven's greatest privilege is also included. Mark, we are not only to be with Christ and to behold his glory, but we are to be like Christ and to be glorified with him. Is he bright? So shall you be. Is he enthroned? So shall you be. Does he wear a crown? So shall you. Is he a priest? So shall you be a priest and a king to offer acceptable sacrifices for ever. Mark, that in all Christ has, a believer has a share. This seems to me to be the sum total, and the crowning of it all to reign with Christ, to ride in his triumphal chariot, and have a portion of his joy; to be honored with him, to be accepted in him, to be glorified with him. This is heaven, this is heaven indeed. And now, how many of you are there here who have any hope that this shall be your lot? Well said Chrysostom, "The pains of hell are not the greatest part of hell; the loss of heaven is the weightiest woe of hell;" to lose the sight of Christ, the company of Christ, to lose the beholding of his glories, this must be the greatest part of the damnation of the lost. Oh, you that have not this bright hope, how is it that you can live? You are going through a dark world, to a darker eternity. I beseech you stop and pause. Consider for a moment whether it is worth while to lose heaven for this poor earth. What! pawn eternal glories for the pitiful pence of a few moments of the world's enjoyments. No, stop I beseech you; weigh the bargain ere you accept it. What shall it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul, and lose such a heaven as this? But as for you who have a hope, I beseech you hold it fast, live on it, rejoice in it
"A hope so much divine, May trials well endure, May purge your soul from sense and sin, As Christ the Lord is pure."
Live near your Master now, so shall your evidences be bright; and when you come to cross the flood, you shall see him face to face, and what that is only they can tell who enjoy it every hour.
"Love and I" A Mystery
July 2nd, 1882 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:26 .
For several Sabbath mornings my mind has been directed into subjects which I might fitly call the deep things of God. I think I have never felt my own incompetence more fully than in trying to handle such subjects. It is a soil into which one may dig and dig as deep as ever you will, and still never exhaust the golden nuggets which lie within it. I am, however, comforted by this fact, that these subjects are so fruitful that even we who can only scratch the surface of them shall yet get a harvest from them. I read once of the plains of India, that they were so fertile that you had only to tickle them with a hoe and they laughed with plenty, and surely such a text as this may be described as equally fruitful, even under our feeble husbandry. Pearls lie on the surface here as well as in the depth. We have only to search its surface, and stir the soil a little, and we shall be astonished at the plenitude of spiritual wealth which lies before us. Oh, that the Spirit of God may help us to enjoy the blessed truths which are herein set forth! Here is the priceless treasure, but it lies hid till he reveals it to us. You see, this text is taken out of our Lord's last prayer with his disciples. He did as good as say, "I am about to leave you, I am about to die for you; and for a while you will not see me; but now, before we separate, let us pray." It is one of those impulses that you have felt yourselves. When you have been about to part from those you love, to leave them perhaps in danger and difficulty, you have felt you could do no less than say, "Let us draw nigh unto God." Your heart found no way of expressing itself at all so fitting, so congenial, so satisfactory as to draw near unto the great Father and spread the case before him. Now, a prayer from such a one as Jesus, our Lord and Master; a prayer in such a company, with the eleven whom he had chosen, and who had consorted with him from the beginning; a prayer under such circumstances, when he was just on the brink of the brook of Cedron, and was about to cross that gloomy stream and go up to Calvary, and there lay down his life such a prayer as this, so living, earnest, loving and divine, deserves the most studious meditations of all believers. I invite you to bring hither your best thoughts and skill for the navigation of this sea. It is not a creek or bay, but the main ocean itself. We cannot hope to fathom its depths. This is true of any sentence of this matchless prayer; but for me the work of exposition becomes unusually heavy, because my text is the close and climax of this marvellous supplication: it is the central mystery of all. In the lowest depth there is still a lower deep, and this verse is one of those deeps which still exceed the rest. Oh, how much we want the Spirit of God. Pray for his bedewing: pray that his balmy influences may descend upon us richly now. You will observe that the last word of our Lord's prayer is concerning love. This is the last petition which he offers, "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." He reaches no greater height than this, namely, that his people be filled with the Father's love. How could he rise higher? For this is to be filled with all the fulness of God, since God is love, and he that loveth dwelleth in God and God in him. What importance ought you and I to attach to the grace of love! How highly we should esteem that which Jesus makes the crown jewel of all. If we have faith, let us not be satisfied unless our faith worketh by love and purifieth the soul. Let us not be content indeed until the love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Well did the poet say,
"Only love to us be given, Lord, we ask no other heaven;"
for indeed there is no other heaven below, and scarcely is there any other heaven above than to reach to the fulness of perfect love. This is where the prayer of the Son of David ends, in praying "that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them." What a subject! The highest that even our Lord Jesus reached in his noblest prayer. Again with groanings my heart cries, Holy Spirit, help. I shall this morning try to speak first upon the food of love, or what love lives upon; secondly, upon the love itself, what kind of love it is; and then, thirdly, upon the companion of love. "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." I. First, THE FOOD OF LOVE to God: what is it? It is knowledge. "I have made known unto them thy name, and will make it known." We cannot love a God whom we do not know: a measure of knowledge is needful to affection. However lovely God may be, a man blind of soul cannot perceive him, and therefore is not touched by his loveliness. Only when the eyes are opened to behold the loveliness of God will the heart go out towards God who is so desirable an object for the affections. Brethren, we must know in order to believe; we must know in order to hope; and we must especially know in order to love. Hence the great desirableness that you should know the Lord, and his great love which passeth knowledge. You cannot reciprocate love which you have never known, even as a man cannot derive strength from food which he has not eaten. Till first of all the love of God has come into your heart, and you have been made a partaker of it, you cannot rejoice in it or return it. Therefore our Lord took care to feed his disciples' hearts upon the Father's name. He laboured to make the Father known to them. This is one of his great efforts with them, and he is grieved when he sees their ignorance, and has to say to one of them, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" Study much, then, the word of God: be diligent in turning the pages of Scripture and in hearing God's true ministers, that the flame of love within your hearts may be revived by the fuel of holy knowledge which you place upon it. Pile on the logs of sandal wood, and let the perfumed fires burn before the Lord. Heap on the handfuls of frankincense and sweet odours of sacred knowledge, that on the altar of your heart there may always be burning the sacred flame of love to God in Christ Jesus. The knowledge here spoken of is a knowledge which Jesus gave them. "I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it." O beloved, it is not knowledge that you and I pick up as a matter of book learning that will ever bring out our love to the Father: it is knowledge given us by Christ through his Spirit. It is not knowledge communicated by the preacher alone which will bless you; for however much he may be taught of God himself, he cannot preach to the heart unless the blessed Spirit of God comes and takes of the things that are spoken, and reveals them and makes them manifest to each individual heart, so that in consequence it knows the Lord. Jesus said, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee," and you and I would have been in the same condition, strangers to God, without God and without hope in the world, if the Spirit of God had not taken of divine things and applied them to our souls so that we are made to know them. Every living word of knowledge is the work of the living God. If you only know what you have found out for yourself, or picked up by your own industry apart from Jesus, you know nothing aright: it must be by the direct and distinct teaching of God the Holy Ghost that you must learn to profit. Jesus Christ alone can reveal the Father. He himself said, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." He that knows not Christ knows not the Father; but when Jesus Christ reveals him, ah! then we do know him after a special, personal, peculiar, inward knowledge. This knowledge brings with it a life and a love with which the soul is not puffed up, but built up. By such knowledge we grow up into him in all things who is our head, being taught of the Son of God. This knowledge, dear friends, comes to us gradually. The text indicates this. "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it." As if, though they knew the Father, there was far more to know and the Lord Jesus was resolved to teach them more. Are you growing in knowledge, my brothers and sisters? My labour is lost if you are not growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I hope you know much more of God than you did twenty years ago when first you came to him. That little knowledge which you received by grace when you found "life in a look at the Crucified One" has saved you; but in these after years you have added to your faith knowledge, and to your knowledge experience; you have gone on to know more deeply what you knew before, and to know the details of what you seemed to know in the gross and the lump at first. You have come to look into things as well as upon things a look at Christ saves; but oh, it is the look into Christ that wins the heart's love and holds it fast and binds us to him as with fetters of gold. We ought every day to be adding something to this inestimably precious store, that as we are known of God so we may know God, and become thereby transformed from glory unto glory through his Spirit. Are you not thankful for this blessed word of the Lord Jesus: "I will declare it": "I will make it known"? He did do so at his resurrection, when he taught his people things they knew not before; but he did so much more after he had ascended up on high when the Spirit of God was given. "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." And now to-day in the hearts of his people he is daily teaching us something that we do not know. All our experience tends that way. When the Spirit of God blesses an affliction to us, it is one of the Saviour's illuminated books out of which we learn something more of the Father's name, and consequently come to love him better: for that is the thing Christ aims at. He would so make known the Father, that the love wherewith the Father hath loved him may be in us, and that he himself may be in us. This knowledge distinguishes us from the world. It is the mark by which the elect are made manifest. In the sixth verse of this chapter our Lord says: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word." The world does not know the Father, and cannot know him, for it abides in the darkness and death of sin. Judge yourselves therefore by this sure test, and let the love which grows out of gracious knowledge be a token for good unto you. Now let me try to show you what the Saviour meant when he said, "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare." This knowledge which breeds love is knowledge of the name of God. What does he mean by "Thy name." Now, I do not think I should preach an unprofitable sermon if I were to stop with the connection and say that the "name" here meant is specially the name used in the twenty-fifth verse: "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee." This is the name which we most need to know "righteous Father." Observe the singular combination. Righteous and yet a Father. "Righteous": to us poor sinners that is a word of terror when first we hear it. "Father," oh, how sweet. That is a word of good cheer even to us prodigals; but we are afraid to lay hold upon it, for our sins arise, and conscience protests that God must be righteous, and punish sin. Our joy begins when we see the two united: "righteous Father," a Father full of love, and nothing but love, to his people, and yet righteous as a Judge, as righteous as if he were no Father. Dealing out his righteousness with stern severity as the Judge of all the earth must do, and yet a Father at the same time. I do protest that I never did love God at all, nor could I embrace him in my affections, till I understood how he could be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus: how, in a word, he could be the "righteous Father." That satisfied my conscience and my heart at the same time, for my conscience said, It is well. God hath not put away sin without a sacrifice, and hath not winked at sin nor waived his justice in order to indulge his mercy, but he remains just as he ever was the same thrice holy God who will by no means spare the guilty. He hath laid the punishment of our sins upon Christ; he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. And all this he has done that he might act to us as a Father, and save his own children from the result of their transgressions. He has given his only begotten Son to die in our stead that many sons might be brought to glory through him. It is at the cross we understand this riddle. Here we see the righteous Father. But the world will not learn it, and a large part of the professing church, which is nothing better than the world wrongfully named with Christ's name, will not learn it. They do anything they can to get away from atonement: love without righteousness is their idol. Substitution is a word that is hard for the world to spell: they cannot abide it. That Christ should suffer in the stead of the guilty, and bear that we might never bear the Father's righteous wrath, this they cannot away with. Many pretend to keep the atonement, and yet they tear the bowels out of it. They profess to believe in the gospel, but it is a gospel without the blood of the atonement; and a bloodless gospel is a lifeless gospel, a dead gospel, and a damning gospel. Let those take heed who cannot see God as a righteous Father, for they are numbered amongst the world who know him not. "These have known thee," saith our Lord. These who have been taught by Christ, and these alone, come to find as much joy in the word "righteous" as in the word "Father"; and blending the two together they feel an intense love to the "righteous Father," and their hearts rejoice in a holy gospel, a message of mercy consistent with justice, a covenant salvation ordered in all things and sure, because it does no violence to law and does not bind the hands of justice. Beloved, if this revelation of the atoning blood does not make your heart love Jesus, and love the Father, it is because you are not in him; but if you know this secret as to how righteousness and peace have kissed each other, you know the name that wins the affection of believers to God. My own heart is glad and rejoices every hour because I find rest in substitution, safety in the vindication of the law, and bliss in the glory of the divine character.
"Lo! In the grace that rescued man His brightest form of glory shines! Here, on the cross, 'tis fairest drawn In precious blood and crimson lines.
"Here I behold his inmost heart, Where grace and vengeance strangely join, Piercing his Son with sharpest smart, To make the purchased pleasure mine.
"Oh, the sweet wonders of that cross, Where God the Saviour loved and died! Her noblest life my spirit draws From his dear wounds and bleeding sides."
Still, I would take the word "name" in a wider sense. "I have declared unto them thy name," which signifies "thy character." The word "name" is used as a sort of summary of all the attributes of God. All these attributes are well adapted to win the love of all regenerate spirits. Just think for a minute. God is holy. To a holy mind there is nothing in the world, there is nothing in heaven more beautiful than holiness. We read of the beauties of holiness; for to a soul that is purified, holiness is superlatively lovely. Now, beauty wins love, and consequently when Jesus Christ makes known his holy Father, and shows us in his life and in his death the holiness of the Ever-blessed, then our heart is won to the Father. "Oh," say you, "but holiness does not always win love." No, not the love of the defiled hearts that cannot appreciate it; but those who are pure in heart, and can see God, no sooner behold his holiness than they are enamoured of it, and their souls at once delight in their Lord. Moreover, we learn from our Lord Jesus that God is good. "There is none good but one: that is God." How inexpressibly good he is! There is no goodness but what comes from God. His name, "God" is but short for "good," and all the good things that we receive in this life, and for the life to come, are but enlargements of his blessed name. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." Blessings enjoyed by us are streams that flow from the fountain head of God's infinite goodness to the sons of men. A man cannot help loving God when once he knows him to be good, for all men love that which they apprehend to be good to them. A man says, "Gold is good; rest is good; fame is good;" and therefore he seeks after these things, and when he comes to know that God is good, oh, then his spirit follows hard after him. He cannot help but love that which he is persuaded is in the highest sense good. The soul that knows the name of the Lord rejoices at the very mention of him. To sinners like ourselves perhaps the next word may have more sweetness. God is merciful; he is ever ready to forgive. Note how the prophet saith,"Who is a God like unto thee, passing by transgression?" He does not say, "Who is a man like unto thee?" for none among our race can for a moment be compared with him; but even if the gods of the heathen were gods, none of them could be likened unto the Lord for mercy. Now, when a man knows that he has offended, and yet the person offended readily and freely forgives, why, it wins his love. If he is a right-hearted man he cries, "I cannot again offend one who so generously casts all my offences behind his back." The mercy of God is such a love-winning attribute that, as I told you the other Sunday, twenty-six times in a single psalm the ancient church sang, "His mercy endureth for ever." Free grace and pardoning love sensibly known in the soul will win your hearts unto God for ever, so that you shall be his willing servants as long as you have any being. But then there is a higher word still. God is love, and there is a something about love which always wins love. When love puts on her own golden armour, and bares her sword bright with her own unselfishness, she goeth on conquering and to conquer. Let a man once apprehend that God is love, that this is God's very essence, and he must at once love God. I do not mean merely "apprehend" that God is love in the cold intellect; but when this heart begins to glow and burn with that divine revelation, then straightway the spirit is joined unto the Lord, and rests with delight in the great Father of spirits. Love knits and binds. Oh to feel more of its uniting power. Thus have I shown you the manna which love feeds upon, the nectar which it drinks. Everything in God is lovely, and there is no trait in his character that is otherwise than lovely. All the lovelinesses that can be conceived are heaped up in God without the slightest admixture or adulteration. He is love altogether, wholly, and emphatically. Oh, surely our Lord and Master was wise when he fed his people's love upon such meat as this. II. Brethren, we have as yet only been standing at the furnace mouth: let us now enter into the devouring flame while we speak, in the second place, upon THE LOVE ITSELF. Observe, first, what this love is not. "I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them." Do notice that the prayer is not that the Father's love may be set upon them, or moved towards them. God does not love us because we know him, for he loved us before we knew him, even as Paul speaks of "His great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins." Jesus has not come to set his Father's love upon the chosen. Oh, no; he did not even die with that object, for the Father's love was upon the chosen from everlasting. "The Father himself loveth you" was always true. Christ did not die to make his Father loving, but because his Father is loving: the atoning blood is the outflow of the very heart of God toward us. So do not make any mistake. Our Lord speaks not of the divine love in itself, but in us. This is not the eternal love of God towards us of which we are now reading, but that love in us. We are inwardly to feel the love which proceeds from the Father, and so to have it in us. We are to have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. It is to be recognized by us, felt in us, made the subject of inward joy; this it is that our Lord wishes to produce, that the love of God may be in us, dwelling in our hearts, a welcome guest, the sovereign of our souls. And this love is of a very peculiar sort. Do let me read the verse again: "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them." It is God's own love in us. The love of the Father towards Jesus springs up like a crystal fountain, and then the sparkling drops fall and overflow, as you have seen the fountains do, and we are the cups into which this overflowing love of God towards Christ Jesus flows, and flows till we too are full. The inward love so much desired for us by our Lord is no emotion of nature, no attachment proceeding from the unregenerate will, but it is the Father's love transplanted into the soil of these poor hearts, and becoming our love to Jesus, as we shall have to show in the next point. But is not this a wonderful thing, that God's own love to Jesus should dwell in our hearts? And yet it is so. The love wherewith we love Christ, mark you, is God's love to Christ: "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them. "All true love, such as the Father delights in and accepts at our hands, is nothing but his own love, which has come streaming down from his own heart into our renewed minds. But what can this mean? I must ask you to observe that it includes within itself four precious things. First, the text means that our Lord Jesus Christ desires us to have a distinct recognition of the Father's love to him. He wants the love wherewith the Father loves him to be felt in us, so that we may say, "Yes, I know the Father loved him, for I, who am such a poor, unworthy, and foolish creature, yet love him; and, oh, how his Father must love him." I love him! Ay, by his grace, it were a blessed thing to die for him; but if I love him, oh, how must his Father love him who can see all his beauty, and can appreciate every distinct piece of loveliness that is in him! God never loved anything as he loves Christ, except his people, and they have had to be lifted up to that position by the love which the Father has to his Son. For, first and foremost, the Father and the Son are one: they are one in essence. The Saviour has been with the Father from the beginning, and his delight has been with him, even as the Father testified, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Oh, do try to feel, if you can, the love of the Father to his Son, or else you will not love the Father as you should for the amazing sacrifice which he made in giving Jesus to us. Think what it cost him to tear his Well-Beloved from his bosom and send him down below to be "despised and rejected." Think what it cost him to nail him up to yonder cross, and then forsake him and hide his face from him, because he had laid all our sins upon him. Oh, the love he must have had to us thus to have made his best Beloved to become a curse for us, as it is written, "Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree." I want you to get this right into your souls, dear friends. Do not hold it as a dry doctrine, but let it touch your heart. Let it flow into your heart like a boiling stream, till your whole souls become like Icelandic geysers, which boil and bubble up and send their steam aloft into the clouds. Oh, to have the soul filled with the love of the Father towards him who is altogether lovely. Now, go a step further and deeper. Our text bears a further reading. Remember that you are to have in your heart a sense of the Father's love to you, and to recollect that it is precisely the same love wherewith he loves his Son. "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them." Oh, wonder of wonders, I feel more inclined to sit down and meditate upon it than to stand up and talk about it! The love wherewith he loved his Son such is his love to all his chosen ones. Can you believe it, that you should be the object of God's delight, even as Christ is, because you are in Christ; that you should be the object of the Father's love as truly as Christ is, because he sees you to be part and parcel of the mystical body of his well-beloved Son? Do not tell me that God the Father does not love you as well as he does Christ: the point can be settled by the grandest matter of fact that ever was. When there was a choice between Christ and his people which should die of the two, the Father freely delivered up his own Son that we might live through him. Oh, what a meeting there must have been of the seas of love that day, when God's great love to us came rolling in like a glorious springtide, and his love to his Son came rolling in at the same time. If they had met and come into collision, we cannot imagine the result; but when they both took to rolling together in one mighty torrent, what a stream of love was there! The Lord Jesus sank that we might swim, he sank that we might rise; and now we are borne onward for ever by the mighty sweep of infinite love into an everlasting blessedness which tongues and lips can never fully set forth. Oh, be ravished with this. Be carried away with it; be in ecstasy at love so amazing, so divine: the Father loves you even as he loves his Son; after the same manner and sort he loveth all his redeemed. But now this goes to a third meaning, and that is that we are to give back a reflection of this love, and to love Jesus as the Father loves him. A dear old friend speaking to me the other day in a rapturous tone said, "I love Jesus as the Father loves him." This is true; not equally, but like. Is not this a blessed thought? I said, "O friend, that is a strong thing to say!" "Ah," said he, "but not stronger than Jesus would have it when he prays that 'the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.'" His people love Christ as the Father loves him, in the same way, though from want of capacity they cannot reach to the same immeasurable force of love. Oh, to throw back on Christ his Father's love. The Father is the sun and we are the moon, but the moonlight is the same light as the sunlight. We can see a difference because reflection robs the light of much of its heat and its brilliance, but it is the same light. The moon has not a ray of light but what came from the sun, and we have not a live coal of love to Christ but what came from the Father. We are as the moon, shining by reflected light, but Jesus loves the moonlight of our love and rejoices in it. Let us give him all of it: let us try to be as the full moon always, and let us not dwindle down to a mere ring of love, or a crescent of affection; let us render no half-moon love; let us not be half dark and cold, but let us shine on Christ with all the light we can possibly reflect of his father's love, saying in our very soul,
"My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; For thee all the follies of sin I resign."
And then fourthly, this love of the Father in us is to go beaming forth from us to all around. When we get the love wherewith the Father loves the Son into our hearts, then it is to go out towards all the chosen seed. He that loveth him that begat loveth also them that are begotten of him. Ay, and your love is to go forth to all the sons of men, seeking their good for God's glory, that they may be brought in to know the same Saviour in whom we rejoice. Oh, if the love of the Father to Christ once enters into a man's soul it will change him; it will sway him with the noblest passion; it will make him a zealot for Christ; it will cast out his selfishness; it will change him into the image of Christ, and fit him to dwell in heaven where love is perfected. So I conclude this second head by saying that this indwelling of the Father's love in us has the most blessed results. It has an expulsive result. As soon as ever it gets into the heart it says to all love of sin, "Get thee hence; there remains no room for thee here." When the light enters in, the darkness receives immediate notice of ejectment; the night is gone as soon as the dawn appears. It has also a repulsive power by which it repels the assaults of sin. As though a man did snatch the sun out of the heaven and make a round shield with it, and hold it in the very face of the prince of darkness, and blind him with the light, so doth the love of God the Father repel the enemy. It girds the soul with the armour of light. It repels the devil, the love of the world, the love of sin, and all outward temptations. And then what an impulsive power it has. Get the love of Christ into you, and it is as when an engine receives fire and steam, and so obtains the force which drives it. Then have you strengthening, then have you motive power, then are you urged on to this and that heroic deed which, apart from this sublime love, you never would have thought of. For Christ you can live, for Christ you can suffer, for Christ you can die, when once the Father's love to him has taken full possession of your spirit. And, oh, how elevating it is. How it lifts a man up above self and sin; how it makes him seek the things that are above! How purifying it is; and how happy it makes the subject of its influence. If you are unhappy you want more of the love of God. "Oh," say you, "I want a larger income." Nonsense. A man is not made happy by money. You will do very well in poverty if you have enough of the love of God. Oh, but if your soul be filled with the love of God, your spirit will be ready to dance at the very sound of his name. You murmur and repine at providence because the fire of your love is burning low. Come, get the ashes together; pray the Spirit of God to blow upon them: beg him to bring fresh fuel of holy knowledge, till your soul becomes like Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, heated seven times hotter. This is the kind of love we should have towards Christ. No blessing can excel it. Oh, Saviour, let thy prayer be fulfilled in me and in all thy dear people this morning, and may the love wherewith the Father hath loved thee be in us. III. Thirdly, here is THE COMPANION OF LOVE. "I in them." Look the text a minute and just catch those two words. Here is "love" and "I" love and Christ come together. Oh, blessed guests! "Love and I," says Christ; as if he felt he never had a companion that suited him better. "Love" and "I": Jesus is ever at home where love is reigning. When love lives in his people's hearts, Jesus lives there too. Does Jesus, then, live in the hearts of his people? Yes; wherever there is the love of the Father shed abroad in them, he must be there. We have his own word for it, and we are sure that Jesus knows where he is. We are sure that he is where love is; for, first, where there is love there is life, and where there is life there is Christ, for he himself says, "I am the life." There is no true life in the believer's soul that is divided from Christ. We are sure of that; so that where there is love there is life, and where there is life there is Christ. Again, where there is the love of God in the heart there is the Holy Spirit; but wherever the Holy Spirit is, there is Christ, for the Holy Spirit is Christ's representative; and it is in that sense that he tells us, "Lo, I am with you alway," namely, because the Spirit is come to be always with us. So where there is love there is the Spirit of God, and where there is the Spirit of God there is Christ. So it is always "Love and I." Furthermore where there is love there is faith, for faith worketh by love, and there never was true love to Christ apart from faith; but where there is faith there is always Christ, for if there is faith in him he has been received into the soul. Jesus is ever near to that faith which has himself for its foundation and resting place. Where there is love there is faith, where there is faith there is Christ, and so it is "love and I." Ay, but where there is the Father's love toward Christ in the heart God himself is there. I am sure of that, for God is love. So if there is love within us there must be God, and where God is, there Christ is, for he saith, "I and my Father are one." So you see, where there is love, there must be Jesus Christ, for these reasons and for many others beside. "I in them." Yes, if I were commanded to preach for seven years from these three words only, I should never exhaust the text, I am quite certain. I might exhaust you by my dulness, and exhaust myself by labour to tell out the sacred secret, but I should never exhaust the text. "I in them." It is the most blessed word I know of. You, beloved, need not go abroad to find the Lord Jesus Christ. Where does he live? He lives within you. "I in them." As soon as ever you pray you are sure he hears you, because he is within you. He is not knocking at your door: he has entered into you, and there he dwells, and will go no more out for ever. What a blessed sense of power this gives to us. "I in them." Then it is no more "I" in weakness, but, since Jesus dwells in me, "I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me." "I in them." It is the glory of the believer that Christ dwells in him. "Unto you that believe he is precious." Hence we gather the security of the believer. Brother, if Christ be in me, and I am overcome, Christ is conquered too, for he is in me. "I in them." I cannot comprehend the doctrine of believers falling from grace. If Christ has once entered into them, will he not abide with them? Paul saith, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." To that persuasion I set my hand and seal. Well, then, if Christ is in us, whatever happens to us will happen to him. We shall be losers if we do not get to heaven; but so will he be, for he is in us, and so is a partaker of our condition. If it is an indissoluble union and so he declares it is "I in them," then his destiny and ours are linked together; and if he wins the victory we conquer in him: if he sits at the right hand of God we shall sit at the right hand of God with him, for he is in us. I know not what more to say, not because I have nothing more, but because I do not know which to bring forward out of a thousand precious things; but I leave the subject with you. Go home, and live in the power of this blessed text. Go home, and be as happy as you can be to live, and if you get a little happier that will not hurt you, for then you will be in heaven. Keep up unbroken joy in the Lord. It is not "I in them" for Sundays, and away on Mondays; "I in them" when they sit in the Tabernacle, and out of them when they reach home. No; "I in them," and that for ever and for ever. Go and rejoice. Show this blind world that you have a happiness which as much outshines theirs as the sun outshines the sparks which fly from the chimney and expire. Go forth with joy and be led forth with peace; let the mountains and the hills break forth before you into singing.
"All that remains for me Is but to love and sing, And wait until the angels come, To bear me to the King."
"Oh, but I have my troubles." I know you have your troubles, but they are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in you, nor even with your present glory. I feel as if I could not think about troubles, nor sins, nor anything else when I once behold the love of God to me. When I feel my love to Christ, which is but God's love to Christ, burning within my soul, then I glory in tribulation, for the power of God shall be through these afflictions made manifest in me. "I in them." God bless you with the knowledge of this mystery, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 17". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10