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Two Sermons: Christ's Hospital and Healing for the Wounded
Healing for the Wounded
8November 11, 1855 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalms 147:3 .
The next verse finely declares the power of God. "He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them by their names." Perhaps there is nothing which gives us a nobler view of the greatness of God than a contemplation of the starry heavens. When by night we lift up our eyes and behold him who hath created all these things; when we remember that he bringeth out their host by number, calleth them all by their names, and that by the greatness of his power not one falleth, then indeed we adore a mighty God, and our soul naturally falls prostrate in reverential awe before the throne of him who leads the host of heaven, and marshals the stars in their armies. But the Psalmist has here placed another fact side by side with this wondrous act of God; he declares that the same God who leadeth the stars, who telleth the number of them, and calleth them by their names, healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds. The next time you rise to some idea of God, by viewing the starry floor of his magnificent temple above, strive to compel your contemplation to this thought, that the same mighty hand which rolls the stars along, puts liniments around the wounded heart; that the same being who spoke worlds into existence, and now impels those ponderous globes through their orbits, does in his mercy cheer the wounded, and heal the broken in heart.
We will not delay you by a preface, but will come at once to the two thoughts: first, here is a great ill a broken heart; and secondly, a great mercy "he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
Man is a double being: he is composed of body and soul, and each of the portions of man may receive injury and hurt. The wounds of the body are extremely painful, and if they amount to a breaking of the frame the torture is singularly exquisite. Yet God has in his mercy provided means whereby wounds may be healed and injuries repaired. The soldier who retires from the battle-field, knows that he shall find a hand to extricate the shot, and certain ointments and liniments to heal his wounds. We very speedily care for bodily diseases; they are too painful to let us slumber in silence: and they soon urge us to seek a physician or a surgeon for our healing. Oh, if we were as much alive to the more serious wounds of our inner man; if we were as deeply sensible of spiritual injuries, how earnestly should we cry to "the Beloved Physician," and how soon should we prove his power to save. Stabbed in the most vital part by the hand of our original parent, and from head to foot disabled by our own sin, we yet remain insensible as steel, careless and unmoved, because, though our wounds are known they are not felt. We should count that soldier foolish, who would be more anxious to repair a broken helmet than an injured limb. Are not we even more to be condemned, when we give precedence to the perishing fabric of the body, and neglect the immortal soul? You, however, who have broken hearts, can no longer be insensible; you have felt too acutely to slumber in indifference. Your bleeding spirit cries for consolation: may my glorious Master give me a word in season for you. We intend to address you upon the important subject of broken hearts, and the great healing provided for them.
I. Let us commence with THE GREAT ILL a broken heart. What is it? We reply, there are several forms of a broken heart. Some are what we shall call naturally broken, and some are spiritually so. We will occupy a moment by mentioning certain forms of this evil, naturally considered; and verily our task would be a dreary one, if we were called upon to witness one tithe of the misery endured by those who suffer from a broken heart.
There have been hearts broken by desertion. A wife has been neglected by her husband who was once the subject of her attachment, and whom even now she tenderly loves. Scorned and despised by the man who once lavished upon her every token of his affection, she has known what a broken heart means. A friend is forsaken by one upon whom he leaned, to whose very soul he was knit, so that their two hearts had grown into one; and he feels that his heart is broken, for the other half of himself is severed from him. When Ahithophel forsakes David, when the kind friend unto whom we have always told our sorrows betrays our confidence, the consequence may possibly be a broken heart. The desertion of a man by his fellows, the ingratitude of children to their parents, the unkindness of parents to their children, the betrayal of secrets by a comrade, the changeableness and fickleness of friends, with other modes of desertion which happen in this world, have brought about broken hearts. We know not a more fruitful source of broken hearts than disappointment in the objects of our affections to find that we have been deceived where we have placed our confidence. It is not simply that we leaned upon a broken reed, and the reed has snapped that were bad enough but in the fall we fell upon a thorn which pierced our hearts to its center. Many have there been who have gone to their graves, not smitten by disease, not slain by the sword, but with a far direr wound that the sword could ever give, a more desperate death than poison could ever cause. May you never know such agony.
We have also seen hearts broken by bereavement . We have known tender wives who have laid their husbands in the tomb, and who have stood by the grave-side until their very heart did break for solitary anguish. We have seen parents bereaved of their beloved offspring one after another; and when they have been called to hear the solemn words,"Earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes," over the last of their children, they have turned away from the grave, bidding adieu to joy, longing for death, and abhorring life. To such the world becomes a prison, cheerless, cold, unutterably miserable. The owl and bittern seem alone to sympathize with them, an aught of joy in the wide world appears to be but intended as a mockery to their misery. Divine grace, however, can sustain them even here.
How frequently might this be supposed to occur to our brave countrymen engaged in the present war. Do not they feel, and feel acutely, the loss of their comrades? You will perhaps imagine that the slaughter and death around them prevent the tender feelings of nature. You are enough mistaken, if so you dream. The soldier's heart may never know fear, but it has not forgotten sympathy. The fearful struggle around renders it impossible to pay the usual court and homage at the gates of sorrow, but there is more of real grief ofttimes in the hurried midnight funeral than in the flaunting pageantry of your pompous processions. Were it in our power to walk among the tents, we should find abundant need to use the words of our text by way of cordial to many a warrior who has seen all his chosen companions fall before the destroyer.
Oh, ye mourners! seek ye a balm for your wounds let me proclaim it unto you. Ye are not ignorant of it, I trust, but let me apply that in which you already place your confidence. The God of heaven knows your sorrows, repair you to his throne, and tell your simple tale of woe. Then cast your burden on him , he will bear it open your heart before him , he will heal it. Think not that you are beyond hope. You would be if there were no God of love and pity; but while Jehovah lives, the mourner need not despair.
Penury has also contributed its share to the number of the army of misery. Pinching want, a noble desire to walk erect, without the crutch of charity, and inability to obtain employment, have at times driven men to desperate measures. Many a goodly cedar hath withered for lack of moisture, and so hath many a man pined away beneath the deprivations of extreme poverty. Those who are blessed with sufficiency can scarcely guess the pain endured by the sons of want, especially if they have once been rich. Yet, oh! child of suffering, be thou patient, God has not passed thee over in his providence. Feeder of sparrows, he will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up arms against a sea of troubles, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. One eye is fixed on you, even in the home of your destitution, one heart beats with pity for your woes, and a hand omnipotent shall yet stretch you out the needed help. The darkest cloud shall yet scatter itself in its season, the blackest gloom shall have its morning. He, if thou art one of his family, with bands of grace will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart.
Multiplied also are the cares where disappointment and defeat have crushed the spirits. The soldier fighting for his country may see the ranks broken, but he will not be broken in heart, so long as there remains a single hope for victory. His comrade reels behind him, and he himself is wounded, but with a shout he cries, "On! on!" and scales the ramparts. Sword in hand, still he goes, carrying terror among the foe, himself sustained by the prospect of victory. But let him once hear the shout of defeat where he hoped for triumph; let him know that the banner is stained in the earth, that the eagle has been snatched from the standard; let him once hear it said, "They fly, they fly!" let him see the officers and soldiers flying in confusion; let him be well assured that the most heroic courage and the most desperate valor are of no avail, then his heart bursteth under a sense of dishonor, and he is almost content to die because the honor of his country has been tarnished, and her glory has been stained in the dust. Of this, the soldiers of Britain know but little may they speedily carve out a peace for us with their victorious swords! Truly, in the great conflict of life we can bear any thing but defeat. Toils on toils would we endure to climb a summit, but if we must die ere we reach it, that were a brokenness of heart indeed. To accomplish the object on which we have set our minds, we would spend our very heart's blood; but once let us see that our life's purpose is not to be accomplished; let us, when we hope to grasp the crown, see that it is withdrawn, or other hands have seized it, then cometh brokenness of heart. But let us remember, whether we have been broken in heart by penury or by defeat, that there is a hand which "bindeth up the broken in heart, and healeth all their wounds;" that even these natural breakings are regarded by Jehovah, who, in the plenitude of his mercy, giveth a balm for every wound to every one of his people. We need not ask, "Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there?" There is a balm, there is a physician who can heal all these natural wounds, who can give joy to the troubled countenance, take the furrow from the brow, wipe the tear from the eye, remove the agitation from the bosom, and calm the heart now swelling with grief; for he "healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
But all that we have mentioned of woe and sorrow which the natural heart endures, is not sufficient to explain our text. The heart broken, not by distress or disappointment, but on account of sin, is the heart which God peculiarly delights to heal. All other sufferings may find a fearful center in one breast, and yet the subject of them may be unpardoned and unsaved; but if the heart be broken by the Holy Ghost for sin, salvation will be its ultimate issue, and heaven its result. At the time of regeneration, the soul is subject to an inward work, causing at the time considerable suffering. This suffering does not continue after the soul has learned the preciousness of a Saviour's blood; but while it lasts it produces an effect which is never forgotten in after life. Let none suppose that the pains we are about to describe are the constant companions of an heir of heaven during his entire existence. They are like the torture of a great drunkard at the time of his reformation, rendered needful, not by the reformation, but by his old habits. So this broken heart is felt at the time of that change of which the Bible speaks, when it says: "Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God." The fruit of the Spirit is afterwards joy and peace; but for a season we must, if saved, endure much mental agony.
Are any of you at the present moment disturbed in mind, and vexed in spirit, because you have violated the commands of God? And are you anxious to know whether these feelings are tokens of genuine brokenness and contrition? Hear me, then, while I briefly furnish you with tests whereby you may discern the truth and value of your repentance.
1. We can not conceive it possible that you are broken in heart if the pleasures of the world are your delight. We may consent to call you amiable, estimable, and honorable, even should you mix somewhat in the amusements of life; but it would be a treason to your common sense to tell you that such things are consistent with a broken heart. Will any venture to assert that you gay reveler has a broken heart? Would he not consider it an insult should you suggest it? Does the libidinous song now defiling the ear proceed from the lips of a broken-hearted sinner? Can the fountain, when filled with sorrow, send forth such streams as these? No, my friends; the wanton, the libidinous, the rioting, and the profane, are too wise to lay claim to the title of broken-hearted persons, seeing that their claim would be palpably absurd. They scorn the name, as mean and paltry, unworthy of a man who loves free living, and counts religion cant.
But should there be one of you so entirely deceived by the evil spirit as to think yourself a partaker in the promises, while you are living in the lusts of the flesh, let me solemnly warn you of your error. He who sincerely repents of sin will hate it, and find no pleasure in it; and during the season when his heart is broken, he will loathe, even to detestation, the very approach of evil. The song of mirth will then be as a dirge in his ear. "As he that poureth vinegar upon niter, so is he that singeth songs to a sad heart." If the man who makes merry with sin be broken-hearted, he must be a prince of hypocrites, for he feigns to be worse than he is. We know right well that the wounded spirit requires other cordials than this world can afford. A soul disturbed by guilt must be lulled to a peaceful rest by other music than carnal pleasures can afford it. The tavern, the house of vice, and the society of the profligate, are no more to be endured by a contrite soul than the jostling of a crowd by a wounded man.
2. Again, we will not for one moment allow that a self-righteous man can have a broken heart. Ask him to pray, and he thanks God that he is every way correct. What need has he to weep because of the iniquity of his life? for he firmly believes himself to be well-deserving, and far enough removed from guilt. He has attended his religious duties; he is exceedingly strict in the form of his devotions; or if he cares not for such things, he is, at any rate, quite as good as those who do. He was never in bondage to any man, but can look to heaven without a tear for his sin. Do not conceive that I am painting an imaginary case, for there are unfortunately too many of these proud, self-exalting men. Will they be angry with me when I tell them that they are no nearer heaven than those whom we reproved a few moments ago? or will they not be equally moved to wrath if I were so much as to hint that they need to be broken in heart for their sin? Nevertheless, such is the case; and Pharisees shall one day learn with terror, that self -righteousness is hateful to God.
But what is a broken heart? I say, first, that a broken heart implies a very deep and poignant sorrow on account of sin. A heart broken conceive of that. If you could look within and see every thing going on in this great mystery called man, you would marvel at the wonders thereof; but how much more astonished would you be to see its heart not merely divided in twain, but split into atoms. You would exclaim, "What misery must have done this! What a heavy blow must have fallen here!" By nature the heart is of one solid piece, hard as a nether millstone; but when God smites it, it is broken to pieces in deep suffering. Some will understand me when I describe the state of the man who is feeling a sorrow for sin. In the morning he bends his knee in prayer, but he feels afraid to pray. He thinks it is blasphemy for him to venture near God's throne; and when he does pray at all, he rises with the thought: "God can not hear me, for he heareth not sinners." He goes about his business, and is, perhaps, a little diverted; but at every interval the same black thoughts roll upon him: "Thou art condemned already." Mark his person and appearance. A melancholy has rested upon him. At night he goes home, but there is little enjoyment for him in the household. He may smile, but his smile ill conceals the grief which lurks underneath. When again he bends the knee, he fears the shadows of the night; he dreads to be on his bed, lest it should be his tomb; and if he lies awake, he thinks of death, the second death, damnation, and destruction; or if he dreams, he dreams of demons, and flames of hell. He wakes again, and almost feels the torture of which he dreamed. He wishes in the morning it were evening, and at evening it were light. "I loathe my daily food," says he: "I care for nothing; for I have not Christ. I have not mercy, I have not peace." He has set off running on the road to heaven, and he puts his fingers in his ears, and will hear of nothing else. Tell him of a ball or concert! it is nothing to him. He can enjoy nothing. You might put him in a heaven, and it would be a hell to him. Not the chants of the redeemed, not the hallelujahs of the glorified, not the hymns of flaming cherubs, would charm woe out of this man, so long as he is the subject of a broken heart. Now, I do not say that all must have the same amount of suffering before they arrive at heaven. I am speaking of some who have this especial misery of heart on account of sin. They are utterly miserable. As Bunyan has said: "They are considerably tumbled up and down in their souls." And conceive, that "as the Lord their God liveth, there is but a step between themselves and eternal death." Oh, blessings on the Lord forever! if any of you are in that condition, here is the mercy! Though this wound be not provided for in earthly pharmacy, though there be found no physician who can heal it, yet "he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." It is a blessing to have a broken heart at all.
Again, when a man has a broken heart, he not only feels sorrow for sin, but he feel himself utterly unable to get rid of it. He who believes himself able to save himself has never known the meaning of a broken heart. Those who imagine that reformation can atone for the past, or secure righteousness for the future, are not yet savingly brought to know themselves. No, my friends, we must be humbled in the dust, and made to look for all in Christ, or else we shall be deceived after all. But are you driven out of yourself; are you like the wounded soldier crying for some one else to carry you to the hospital of mercy, and longing for the aid of a mightier than yourself? then be of good cheer, there shall be found a great deliverance for you. So long as you trust in ceremonies, prayers, or good works, you shall not fine eternal grace; but when stripped of all strength and power, you shall gain a glorious salvation in the Lord Jesus. If morality can join the pieces of a broken heart, the cement shall soon cease to bind, and the man shall again be as vile as ever. We must have a new heart and a right spirit, or vain will be all our hopes.
Need I give any other description of the character I desire to comfort. I trust you are discovered. Oh! my poor brother, I grieve to see thee in distress, but there is pardon through Jesus there is forgiveness even for thee. What though your sins lie like a millstone on your shoulder, they shall not sink you down to hell. Arise! He, my gracious Lord, calleth thee. Throw thyself at his feet, and lose thy griefs in his loving and cheering words. Thou art saved if thou canst say,
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On Christ's kind arms I fall; He is my strength and righteousness, My Jesus, and my all."
II. We have spoken a long time on the great ill of a broken heart; our second thought will be the GREAT MERCY "He healeth the broken in heart." First, he only does it. Men may alleviate suffering, they may console the afflicted and cheer the distressed; but they can not heal the broken in heart, nor bind up their wounds. It is not human eloquence, or mortal wisdom; it is not the oration of an Apollos, nor the wondrous words of a prince of preachers; it is the "still small voice " of God which alone confers the "peace which passeth all understanding." The binding of the heart is a thing done immediately by God, ofttimes without any instrumentality whatever; and when instrumentality is used, it is always in such a way that the man does not extol the instrument, but renders grateful homage to God. In breaking hearts, God uses man continually; repeated fiery sermons, and terrible denunciations do break men's hearts; but you will bear me witness when your hearts were healed God only did it. You value the minister that broke you heart; but it is not often that we ascribe the healing to any instrumentality whatever. The act of justification is generally apart from all means: God only does it. I know not the man who uttered the words that were the means of relieving my heart: "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." I do not recollect what he said in the sermon, and I am sure I do not care to know. I found Jesus there and then, and that was enough for me. When you get your wounds healed, even under a minister, it seems as if it were not the minister who spoke; you never heard him speak like it in all you life before. You say, "I have often heard him with pleasure, but he has outdone himself; before, he spoke to my ear, but now, to my heart. We are some of us rejoicing in the liberty of Christ, and walking in all the joy of the Spirit; but it is to God we owe our deliverance, and we are grateful neither to man nor book, so much as to the great Physician who has taken pity on us. O that Jesus would walk through this Bethesda now. O, poor, sick dying man! does guilt weigh heavy on thy soul, turn not to any helper, save to him that sitteth on the throne.
Then he only can do it. I defy any of my brethren to bind up a broken heart. I have often labored to do it, but could never effect it. I have said a word to console the mourner, but I have felt that I have done but little, or have perhaps put the wrong mixture in the cup. He only can do it. Some of you seek mercy through baptism, or the Lord's Supper, or regular attendance at the house of prayer. Some of you, again, have certain forms and observances to which you attach saving value. As the Lord liveth, none of these things bind up the broken in heart apart from the Holy Spirit; they are empty wind and air; you may have them and be lost. You can have no peace and comfort unless you have immediate dealings with God, who alone, as the great Physician, healeth the broken in heart. Ah! there are some of you who go to your ministers with broken hearts, and say, "What shall I do?" I have heard of a preacher who told his anxious hearer, "You are getting melancholy; you had better go to such and such a place of amusement; you are getting too dreary and melancholy by half." O, to think of a nurse in a hospital administering poison, when she ought to be giving the true medicine! If he deserves to be hung who mixes poison with his drugs, how much more guilty is that man who tells a soul to seek for happiness where there is none, who sends it to a carnal world for joy, when there is none to be found except in God.
Then again, God only may do it. Suppose we could heal your broken heart, it would be good for nothing. I do beseech the Lord that I may never get a broken heart healed, except it is by God. A truly-convinced sinner will always rather keep his heart broken than have it healed wrongly. I ask you, who are suffering, whether you would not rather keep your broken heart as it is, than allow a bad physician to cure it for you, and so deceive you, and send you to hell at last? I know your cry is, "Lord, let me know the worst of my case; use the lancet; do not be afraid of hurting me; let me feel it all; cut the proud-flesh away rather than let it remain." But there are not a few who get their wounds glossed over by some pretended good works or duties. O, my hearer, let no man deceive you! Be not content with a name to live while you are really dead. Bad money may pass on earth, but genuine gold alone will be received in heaven. Can you abide the fire?
In vain your presumption when God shall come to examine you; you will not pass muster unless you have had a real healing from his hand. It is easy enough to get religious notions and fancy yourself safe, but a real saving work is the work of God, and God alone. Seek not to the priest; he may console, but it is by deluding you. Seek not to your own self; for you may soothe yourself into the sleep of perdition. See that thine heart be washed in the blood of Jesus; be careful that the Holy Spirit has his temple in it; and may God, of his great and sovereign grace, look to thee that thou deceivest not thyself.
But next, God will do it. That is a sweet thought. "He healeth the broken in heart;" he WILL do it. Nobody else can; nobody else may; but he WILL. Is thy heart broken? He WILL heal it; he is sure to heal it; for it is written and it can never be altered, for what was true three thousand years ago, is true now "he healeth the broken in heart." Did Saul of Tarsus rejoice after three days of blindness? Yes, and you shall be delivered also. O, it is a theme for eternal gratitude, that the same God who in his loftiness and omnipotence stooped down in olden times to soothe, cherish, relieve, and bless the mourner, is even now taking his journeys of mercy among the penitent sons of men. O, I beseech him to come where thou art sitting, and put his hand inside thy soul, and if he finds there a broken heart to bind it up. Poor sinner, breathe thy wish to him; let thy sigh come before him, for "he healeth the broken in heart." There thou liest wounded on the plain. "Is there no physician?" thou criest; "is there none?" Around thee lie thy fellow-sufferers, but they are helpless as thyself. Thy mournful cry cometh back without an answer, and space alone hears thy groan. Ah! the battle-field of sin has one kind visitor; it is not abandoned to the vultures of remorse and despair. I hear footsteps approaching; they are the gentle footsteps of Jehovah. In his hands there are no thunders, in his eyes no anger, on his lips no threatening. See how he bows himself over the mangled heart! Hear how he speaks! "Come, now, and let us reason together," saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." And if the patient dreads to look in the face of the mighty being who addresses him, the same loving mouth whispers, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for my names sake." See how he washes every wound with sacred water from the side of Jesus; mark how he spreads the ointment of forgiving grace, and binds around each wound the fair white linen, which is the righteousness of saints. Doth the mourner faint under the operation? he puts a cordial to his lips, exclaiming, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Yes, it is true most true neither dream nor fiction, "HE HEALETH THE BROKEN IN HEART, AND BINDETH UP THEIR WOUNDS."
How condescending is the Lord of heaven, thus to visit poor forlorn man. The queen has kindly visited the hospitals of our soldiers to cheer, by her royal words, her loyal defenders, by this she has done herself honor, and her soldiers love her for it. But when the God of the whole earth, the infinite Creator, stoops to become a servant to his own creatures, can you conceive the majestic condescension which bows itself in mercy over the miserable heart, and with loving finger closes the gaping wounds of the spirit. Oh, sin-sick sinner! the King of heaven will not despise thee , but thou too shalt find him thy Comforter, who healeth all thy diseases. Mark, moreover, how tenderly he does it. You remember that passage in the Psalms: "Loving kindness and tender mercies." God's mercies are "tender mercies;" when he undertakes to bind up the broken in heart, he always uses the softest liniment. He is not like your army surgeon, who hurries along and says "A leg off here, an arm off there;" but he comes gently and sympathizingly. He does not use roughness with us; but with downy fingers he putteth the wound together, and layeth the plaster on; yea, he doth it in such a soft and winning way, that we are full of wonder to think he could be so kind to such unworthy ones.
Then he does it securely , so that the wound can not open again. If he puts on his plaster, it is heaven's court-plaster, and it never fails. If he heals, he heals effectually. No man who is once saved of God shall ever be lost. If we receive mercy by faith, we shall never lose it. When God heals once, he heals forever. Although some who teach false doctrine do assert that children of God may be lost, they have no warrant in Scripture, nor in experience, for we know that he keepeth the saints. He who is once forgiven, can not be punished. He who is once regenerated, can not perish. He who is once healed, shall never find his soul sick unto death. Blessings on his name, some of us have felt his skill, and known his mighty power; and were our hearts broken now, we would not stop a moment, but go at once to his feet, and we would cry, "O thou that bindest the broken in heart, bind ours; thou that healest wounds, heal ours, we beseech thee."
And now, my hearers and readers, a parting word with you. Are you careless and ungodly? Permit your friend to speak with you. Is it true that after death there is a judgment? Do you believe that when you die, you will be called to stand before the bar of God? Do you know that there is a hell of eternal flame appointed for the wicked? Yes you know and believe all this and yet you are going down to hell thoughtless and unconcerned you are living in constant and fearful jeopardy of your lives without a friend on the other side the grave. Ah, how changed will your note be soon! You have turned away from rebuke, you have laughed at warning, but laughter will then give place to sighs, and your singing to yells of agony. Bethink thee, oh my brother man, ere thou dost again peril thy life. What wilt thou do if thy soul is required of thee? Canst thou endure the terrors of the Almighty? Canst thou dwell in everlasting burnings? Were thy bones of iron, and thy ribs of brass, the sight of the coming judgment would make thee tremble; forbear then to mock at religion, cease to blaspheme you Maker, for remember, you will soon meet him face to face, and how will you then account for your insults heaped upon his patient person? May the Lord yet humble thee before him.
But I am seeking the distressed one, and I am impatient to be the means of his comfort. It may be my words are now sounding in the ear of my weary wounded fellow-countrymen. You have been long time tossing on the bed of languishing, and the time for thought had been blessed to your soul by God. You are now feeling the guilt of your life, and are lamenting the sins of your conduct. You fear there is no hope of pardon, no prospect of forgiveness, and you tremble lest death should lead your guilty soul unforgiven before its Maker. Hear, then, the word of God. Thy pains for sins are God's work in thy soul. He woundeth thee that thou mayest seek him. He would not have showed thee thy sin if he did not intend to pardon. Thou art now a sinner, and Jesus came to save sinners, therefore he came to save thee; yea, he is saving thee now. These strivings of soul are the work of his mercy; there is love in every blow, and grace in every stripe. Believe, O troubled one, that he is able to save thee unto the uttermost, and thou shalt not believe in vain. Now, in the silence of your agony, look unto him who by his stripes healeth thee. Jesus Christ has suffered the penalty of thy sins, and has endured the wrath of God on thy behalf. See you, yonder crucified Man on Calvary, and mark thee that those drops of blood are falling for thee , those nailed hands are pierced for thee, and that opened side contains a heart within it, full of love to thee.
"None but Jesus! none but Jesus Can do helpless sinners good!"
It is simple reliance on him which saves. The negro said, "Massa, I fall flat on de promise;" so if you fall flat on the promise of Jesus, you shall not find him fail you; he will bind up your heart, and make an end to the days of your mourning. We shall meet in heaven one day, to sing hallelujah to the condescending Lord; till then, may the God of all grace be our helper. Amen.
"The mighty God will not despise The contrite heart for sacrifice; The deep-fetched sigh, the secret groan, Rises accepted to the throne.
He meets, with tokens of his grace, The trembling lip, the blushing face; His bowels yearn when sinners pray; And mercy bears their sins away.
When filled with grief, o'erwhelmed with shame; He, pitying, heals their broken frame; He hears their sad complaints, and spies His image in their weeping eyes."
Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, June 12th, 1892,
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
On Lord's-day Evening, March 9th, 1890.
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalms 147:3 .
Often as we have read this Psalm, we can never fail to be struck with the connection in which this verse stands, especially its connection with the verse that follows. Read the two together: "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names." What condescension and grandeur! What pity and omnipotence! He who leads out yonder ponderous orbs in almost immeasurable orbits, nevertheless, is the Surgeon of men's souls, and stoops over broken hearts, and with his own tender fingers closes up the gaping wound, and binds it with the liniment of love. Think of it; and if I should not speak as well as I could desire upon the wonderful theme of his condescension, yet help me by your own thoughts to do reverence to the Maker of the stars, who is, at the same time, the Physician for broken hearts and wounded spirits.
I am equally interested in the connection of my text with the verse that goes before it: "The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel." The church of God is never so well built up as when it is built up with men of broken hearts. I have prayed to God in secret many a time, of late, that he would be pleased to gather out from among us a people who have a deep experience, who should know the guilt of sin, who should be broken and ground to powder under a sense of their own inability and unworthiness; for I am persuaded that, without a deep experience of sin, there is seldom much belief in the doctrine of grace, and not much enthusiasm in praising the Saviour's name. The church needs to be built up with men who have been pulled down. Unless we know in our hearts our need of a Saviour, we shall never be worth much in preaching him. That preacher who has never been converted, what can he say about it? And he who has never been in the dungeon, who has never been in the abyss, who has never felt as if he were cast out from the sight of God, how can he comfort many who are outcasts, and who are bound with the fetters of despair? May the Lord break many hearts, and then bind them up, that with them he may build up the church, and inhabit it!
But now, leaving the connection, I come to the text itself, and I desire to speak of it so that everyone here who is troubled may derive comfort from it, God the Holy Ghost speaking through it. Consider, first, the patients and their sickness: "He healed the broken in heart." Then, consider, the Physician and his medicine, and for a while turn your eyes to him who does this healing work. Then, I shall want you to consider, the testimonial to the great Physician which we have in this verse: "He healed the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Lastly, and most practically, we will consider, what we ought to do towards him who healeth the broken in heart.
I. First, then, consider THE PATIENTS AND THEIR SICKNESS. They are broken in heart. I have heard of many who have died of a broken heart; but there are some who live with a broken heart, and who live all the better for having had their hearts broken; they live another and higher life than they lived before that blessed stroke broke their hearts in pieces.
There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all. I am not going to lower and narrow the application of my text. The patients of the great Physician are those whose hearts are broken through sorrow. Hearts are broken through disappointment. Hearts are broken through bereavement. Hearts are broken in ten thousand ways, for this is a heart-breaking world; and Christ is good at healing all manner of heart-breaks. I would encourage every person here, even though his heart-break may not be of a spiritual kind, to make an application to him who healed the broken in heart. The text does not say, "the spiritually broken in heart", therefore I will not insert an adverb where there is none in the passage. Come hither, ye that are burdened, all ye that labour and are heavy laden; come hither, all ye that sorrow, be your sorrow what it may; come hither, all ye whose hearts are broken, be the heart-break what it may, for he healeth the broken in heart.
Still, there is a special brokenness of heart to which Christ gives the very earliest and tenderest attention. He heals those whose hearts are broken for sin. Christ heals the heart that is broken because of its sin; so that it grieves, laments, regrets, and bemoans itself, saying, "Woe is me that I have done this exceeding great evil, and brought ruin upon myself! Woe is me that I have dishonoured God, that I have cast myself away from his presence, that I have made myself liable to his everlasting wrath, and that even now his wrath abideth upon me!" If there is a man here whose heart is broken about his past life, he is the man to whom my text refers. Are you heart-broken because you have wasted forty, fifty, sixty years? Are you heart-broken at the remembrance that you have cursed the God who has blessed you, that you have denied the existence of him without whom you never would have been in existence yourself, that you have lived to train your family without godliness, without any respect to the Most High God at all? Has the Lord brought this home to you? Has he made you feel what a hideous thing it is to be blind to Christ, to refuse his love, to reject his blood, to live an enemy to your best Friend? Have you felt this? O my friend, I cannot reach across the gallery to give you my hand; but will you think that I am doing it, for I wish to do it? If there is a heart here broken on account of sin, I thank God for it, and praise the Lord that there is such a text as this: "He healeth the broken in heart"
Christ also heals hearts that are broken from sin. When you and sin have quarrelled, never let the quarrel be made up again. You and sin were friends at one time; but now you hate sin, and you would be wholly rid of it if you could. You wish never to sin. You are anxious to be clear of the most darling sin that you ever indulged in, and you desire to be made as pure as God is pure. Your heart is broken away from its old moorings. That which you once loved you now hate. That which you once hated you now at least desire to love. It is well. I am glad that you are here, for to you is the text sent, "He healeth the broken in heart."
If there is a broken-hearted person anywhere about, many people despise him. "Oh," they say, "he is melancholy, he is mad, he is out of his mind through religion!" Yes, men despise the broken in heart, but such, O God, thou wilt not despise! The Lord looks after such, and heals them.
Those who do not despise them, at any rate avoid them. I know some few friends who have long been of a broken heart; and when I feel rather dull, I must confess that I do not always go their way, for they are apt to make me feel more depressed. Yet would I not get out of their way if I felt that I could help them. Still, it is the nature of men to seek the cheerful and the happy, and to avoid the broken-hearted. God does not do so; he heals the broken in heart. He goes where they are, and he reveals himself to them as the Comforter and the Healer.
In a great many cases people despair of the broken-hearted ones. "It is no use," says one, "I have tried to comfort her, but I cannot do it." "I have wasted a great many words," says another, "on such and such a friend, and I cannot help him. I despair of his ever getting out of the dark." Not so is it with God; he healeth the broken in heart. He despairs of none. He shows the greatness of his power, and the wonders of his wisdom, by fetching men and women out of the lowest dungeon, wherein despair has shut them.
As for the broken-hearted ones themselves, they do not think that they ever can be converted. Some of them are sure that they never can; they wish that they were dead, though I do not see what they would gain by that. Others of them wish that they had never been born, though that is a useless wish now. Some are ready to rush after any new thing to try to find a little comfort; while others, getting worse and worse, are sitting down in sullen despair. I wish that I knew who these were; I should like to come round, and just say to them, "Come, brother; there must be no doubting and no despair to-night, for my text is gloriously complete, and is meant for you. "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Notice that fifth verse, "Great is our Lord, and of great power; his understanding is infinite." Consequently, he can heal the broken in heart. God is glorious at a dead lift. When a soul cannot stir, or help itself, God delights to come in with his omnipotence, and lift the great load, and set the burdened one free.
It takes great wisdom to comfort a broken heart. If any of you have ever tried it, I am sure you have not found it an easy task. I have given much of my life to this work; and I always come away from a desponding one with a consciousness of my own inability to comfort the heart-broken and cast-down. Only God can do it. Blessed be his name that he has arranged that one Person of the Sacred Trinity should undertake this office of Comforter; for no man could ever perform its duties. We might as well hope to be the Saviour as to be the Comforter of the heart-broken. Efficiently and completely to save or to comfort must be a work divine. That is why the Holy Divine Spirit, healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds with infinite power and unfailing skill.
II. Now, secondly, we are going to consider THE PHYSICIAN AND HIS MEDICINE: "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Who is this that healeth the broken in heart?
I answer that Jesus was anointed of God for this work. He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted." Was the Holy Spirit given to Christ in vain? That cannot be. He was given for a purpose which must be answered, and that purpose is the healing of the broken-hearted. By the very anointing of Christ by the Holy Spirit, you may be sure that our Physician will heal the broken in heart.
Further, Jesus was sent of God on purpose to do his work; "He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted." If Christ does not heal the broken-hearted, he will not fulfill the mission for which he came from heaven. If the broken-hearted are not cheered by his glorious life and the blessings that flow out of his death, then he will have come to earth for nothing. This is the very errand on which the Lord of glory left the bosom of the Father to be veiled in human clay, that he might heal the broken in heart; and he will do it.
Our Lord was also educated for this work. He was not only anointed and sent; but he was trained for it. "How?" say you. Why, he had a broken heart himself; and there is no education for the office of comforter like being place where you yourself have need of comfort, so that you may be able to comfort others with the comfort wherewith you yourself have been comforted of God. Is your heart broken? Christ's heart was broken. He said, "Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness." He went as low as you have ever been, and deeper than you can ever go. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" was his bitter cry. If that be your agonized utterance, he can interpret it by his own suffering. He can measure your grief by his grief. Broken hearts, there is no healing for you except through him who had a broken heart himself. Ye disconsolate, come to him! He can make your heart happy and joyous, by the very fact of his own sorrow, and the brokenness of his own heart. "In all our afflictions he was afflicted." He was tempted in all points like as we are", "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." For a broken heart, there is no physician like him.
Once more, I can strongly recommend my Lord Jesus Christ as the Healer of broken hearts, because he is so experienced in the work. Some people are afraid that the doctor will try experiments upon them; but our Physician will only do for us what he has done many times before. It is no matter of experiment with him; it is a matter of experience. If you knock to-night at my great Doctor's door, you will, perhaps say to him, "Here is the strangest patient, my Lord, that ever came to thee." He will smile as he looks at you, and he will think, "I have saved hundreds like you." Here comes one who says, "That first man's case was nothing compared with mine; I am about the worst sinner who ever lived." And the Lord Jesus Christ will say, "Yes, I saved the worst man that ever lived long ago, and I keep on saving such as he. I delight to do it." But here comes one who has a curious odd way of broken-heartedness. He is an out-of-the-way fretter. Yes, but my Lord is able to "have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way." He can lay hold of this out-of-the-way one; for he has always been saving out-of-the-way sinners. My Lord has been healing broken hearts well nigh nineteen hundred years. Can you find a brass-plate anywhere in London telling of a physician of that age? He has been at the work longer than that; for it is not far off six thousand years since he went into this business, and he has been healing the broken in heart ever since that time.
I will tell you one thing about him that I have on good authority, that is, he never lost a case yet. There never was one who came to him with a broken heart, but he healed him. He never said to one, "You are too bad for me to heal;" but he did say, "Him that cometh to me, I will in now wise cast out." My dear hearer, he will not cast you out. You say, "You do not know me, Mr. Spurgeon." No, I do not; and you have come here to-night, and you hardly know why you are here; only you are very low and very sad. The Lord Jesus Christ loves such as you are, you poor, desponding, doubting, desolate, disconsolate one. Daughters of sorrow, sons of grief, look ye here! Jesus Christ has gone on healing broken hearts for thousands of years, and he is well up in the business. He understands it by experience, as well as by education. He is "mighty to save." Consider him; consider him; and the Lord grant you grace to come and trust him even now!
Thus I have talked to you about the Physician for broken hearts; shall I tell you what his chief medicine is? It is his own flesh and blood. There is no cure like it. When a sinner is bleeding with sin, Jesus pours his own blood into the wound; and when that wound is slow in healing, he binds his own sacrifice about it. Healing for broken hearts comes by the atonement, atonement by substitution, Christ suffering in our stead. He suffered for every one who believeth in him, and he that believeth in him is not condemned, and never can be condemned, for the condemnation due to him was laid upon Christ. He is clear before the bar of justice as well as before the throne of mercy. I remember when the Lord put that precious ointment upon my wounded spirit. Nothing ever healed me until I understood that he died in my place and stead, died that I might not die; and now, to-day, my heart would bleed itself to death were it not that I believe that he "his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." "With his stripes we are healed," and with no medicine but this atoning sacrifice. A wonderful heal-all is this, when the Holy Ghost applies it with his own divine power, and lets life and love come streaming into the heart that was ready to bleed to death.
III. My time flies too quickly; so, thirdly, I want you to consider THE TESTIMONIAL TO THE GREAT PHYSICIAN which is emblazoned in my text. It is God the Holy Ghost who, by the mouth of his servant David, bears testimony to this congregation to-night that the Lord Jesus heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. If I said it, you need no more believe it than I need believe it if you said it. One man's word is as good as another's if we be truthful men; but this statement is found in an inspired Psalm. I believe it; I dare not doubt it, for I have proven its truth.
I understand my text to mean this: he does it effectually. As I said last Thursday night, if there is a person cast down or desponding within twenty miles, he is pretty sure to find me out. I laugh sometimes, and say, "Birds of a feather flock together;" but they come to talk to me about their despondency, and sometimes they leave me half desponding in the attempt to get them out of their sadness. I have had some very sad cases just lately, and I am afraid that, when they went out of my room, they could not say of me, "He healeth the broken in heart." I am sure that they could say, "He tried his best. He brought out all the choicest arguments he could think of to comfort me." And they have felt very grateful. They have come back sometimes to thank God that they have been a little bit encouraged; but some of them are frequent visitors; and I have been trying to cheer them up by the month together. But, when my Master undertakes the work, "He healeth the broken in heart," he not only tries to do it, he does it. He touches the secret sources of the sorrow, and takes the spring of the grief away. We try our bests; but we cannot do it. You know it is very hard to deal with the heart. The human heart needs more than human skill to cure it. When a person dies, and the doctors do not know the complaint of which he died, they say, "It was heart disease." They did not understand his malady; that is what that means. There is only one Physician who can heal the heart; but, glory be to his blessed name, "He healeth the broken in heart," he does it effectually.
As I read my text, I understand it to mean, he does it constantly. "He healeth the broken in heart." Not merely, "He did heal them years ago"; but he is doing it now. "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." What, at this minute? Ten minutes to eight? Yes, he is doing this work now. "He healeth the broken in heart," and when the service is over, and the congregation is gone, what will Jesus be doing then? Oh, he will still be healing the broken in heart! Suppose this year 1890 should run out, and the Lord does not come to judgment, what will he be doing then? He will still be healing the broken in heart. He has not used up his ointments. He has not exhausted his patience. He has not in the least degree diminished his power. He still healeth. "Oh dear!" said one, "If I had come to Christ a year ago, it would have been well with me." If you come to Christ to-night, it will be well with you, for "he healeth the broken in heart." I do not know who was the inventor of that idea of "sinning away the day of grace." If you are willing to have Christ, you may have him. If you are as old as Methuselah and I do not suppose that you are older than he was if you want Christ, you may have him. As long as you are out of hell, Christ is able to save you. He is going on with his old work. Because you are just past fifty, you say the die is cast; because you are past eighty, you say, "I am too old to be saved now." Nonsense! He healeth, he healeth, he is still doing it, "he healeth the broken in heart."
I go further than that, and say that he does it invariably. I have shown you that he does it effectually and constantly; but he does it invariably. There never was a broken heart brought to him that he did not heal. Do not some broken-hearted patients go out at the back door, as my Master's failures? No, not one. There never was one yet that he could not heal. Doctors are obliged, sometimes, in our hospitals to give up some persons, and say that they will never recover. Certain symptoms have proved that they are incurable. But, despairing one, in the divine hospital, of which Christ is the Physician, there never was a patient of his who was turned out as incurable. He is able to save to the uttermost. Do you know how far that is "to the uttermost"? There is no going beyond "the uttermost", because the uttermost goes beyond everything else, to make it the uttermost. "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." Where are you, friend "Uttermost"? Are you here to-night? "Ah!" you say, "I wonder that I am not in hell." Well, so do I; but you are not, and you never will be, if you cast yourself on Christ. Rest in the full atonement that he has made; for he healeth always, without any failure, "he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
As I read these words, it seems to me that he glories in doing it. He said to the Psalmist, by the Holy Spirit, "Write a Psalm in which you shall begin with Hallelujah, and finish with Hallelujah, and set in the middle of the Psalm this as one of the things for which I delight to be praised, that I heal the broken in heart." None of the gods of the heathen were ever praised for this. Did you ever read a song to Jupiter, or to Mercury, or to Venus, or to any of them, in which they were praised for binding up the broken in heart? Jehovah, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is the only God who makes it his boast that he binds up the broken in heart. Come, you big, black sinner; come, you desperado; come, you that have gone beyond all measurement in sin; you can glorify God more than anybody else by believing that he can save even you! He can save you, and put you among the children. He delights to save those that seemed farthest from him.
IV. This is my last point: consider WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO.
If there is such a Physician as this, and we have broken hearts, it goes without saying that, first of all, we ought to resort to him. When people are told that they have an incurable disease, a malady that will soon bring them to their grave, they are much distressed; but if, somewhere or other, they hear that the disease may be cured after all, they say, "Where? Where?" Well, perhaps it is thousands of miles away; but they are willing to go if they can. Or the medicine may be very unpleasant or very expensive; but if they find that they can be cured, they say, "I will have it." If anyone came to their door, and said, "Here it is, it will heal you; and you can have it for nothing, and as much as you ever want of it;" there would be no difficulty in getting rid of any quantity of the medicine, so long as we found people sick. Now, if you have a broken heart to-night, you will be glad to have Christ. I had a broken heart once, and I went to him and he healed it in a moment, and made me sing for joy! Young men and women, I was about fifteen or sixteen when he healed me. I wish that you would go to him now, while you are yet young. The age of his patients does not matter. Are you younger than fifteen? Boys and girls may have broken hearts; and old men and old women may have broken hearts; but they may come to Jesus and be healed. Let them come to him to-night, and seek to be healed.
When you are about to go to Christ, possibly you ask, "How shall I go to him?" Go by prayer. One said to me, the other day, "I wish that you would write me a prayer, sir." I said, "No, I cannot do that, go and tell the Lord what you want." He replied, "Sometimes I feel such a great want that I do not know what it is I do want, and I try to pray, but I cannot. I wish that somebody would tell me what to say." "Why!" I said, "the Lord has told you what to say. This is what he has said: 'Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously.' " Go to Christ in prayer with such words as those, or any others that you can get. If you cannot get any words, tears are just as good, and rather better; and groans and sighs and secret desires will be acceptable with God.
But add faith to them. Trust the Physician. You know that no ointment will heal you if you do not put it on the wound. Oftentimes when there is a wound, you want something with which to strap the ointment on. Faith straps on the heavenly heal-all. Go to the Lord with your broken heart, and believe that he can heal you. Believe that he alone can heal you; trust him to do it. Fall at his feet, and say, "If I perish, I will perish here. I believe that the Son of God can save me, and I will be saved by him; but I will never look anywhere else for salvation. 'Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!'" If you have come as far as that, you are very near the light; the great Physician will heal your broken heart before very long. Trust him to do it now.
When you have trusted in him, and your heart is healed, and you are happy, tell others about him. I do not like my Lord to have any tongue-tied children. I do not mean that I would want you all to preach. When a whole church takes to preaching, it is as if the whole body were a mouth, and that would be a vacuum. I want you to tell others, in some way or other, what the Lord has done for you; and be earnest in endeavouring to bring others to the great Physician. You all recollect, therefore I need not tell you again, the story that we had about the doctor at one of our hospitals, a year or two ago. He healed a dog's broken leg, and the grateful animal brought other dogs to have their broken legs healed. That was a good dog; some of you are not half as good as that dog. You believe that Christ is blessing you, yet you never try to bring others to him to be saved. That must not be the case any longer. We must excel that dog in our love for our species; and it must be our intense desire that, if Christ has healed us, he should heal our wife, our child, our friend, our neighbour; and we should never rest till others are brought to him. Then, when others are brought to Christ, or even if they will not be brought to him, be sure to praise him. If your broken heart has been healed, and you are saved, and your sins forgiven, praise him. We do not sing half enough. I do not mean in our congregations; but when we are at home. We pray every day. Do we sing every day? I think that we should. Matthew Henry used to say, about family prayer, "They that pray do well; they that read and pray do better; they that read and pray and sing do best of all." I think that Matthew Henry was right. "Well, I have no voice," says one. Have you not? Then you never grumble at your wife; your never find fault with your food; you are not one of those who make the household unhappy by your evil speeches. "Oh, I do not mean that!" No, I thought you did not mean that. Well, praise the Lord with the same voice that you have used for complaining. "But I could not lend a tune," says one. Nobody said you were to do so. You can at least sing as I do. My singing is of a very peculiar character. I find that I cannot confine myself to one tune; in the course of a verse I use half-a-dozen tunes; but the Lord, to whom I sing, never finds any fault with me. He never blames me, because I do not keep this tune or that. I cannot help it. My voice runs away with me, and my heart too; but I keep on humming something or other by way of praising God's name. I would like you to do the same. I used to know an old Methodist; and the first thing in the morning, when he got up, he began singing a bit of a Methodist hymn; and if I met the old man during the day, he was always singing. I have seen him in his little workshop, with his lapstone on his knee, and he was always singing, and beating with his hammer. When I said to him once, "Why do you always sing, dear brother?" he replied, "Because I always have something to sing about." That is a good reason for singing. If our broken hearts have been healed, we have something to sing about in time and throughout eternity. Let us begin to do so to the praise of the glory of his grace, who "healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." God bless all the broken hearts that are in this congregation to-night, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
This is one of the Hallelujah Psalms; it begins and ends with "Praise ye the LORD." May our hearts be in tune, that we may praise the Lord while we read these words of praise!
Verse 1. Praise ye the LORD:
It is not enough for the Psalmist to do it himself. He wants help in it, so he says, "Praise ye the LORD." Wake up, my brethren; bestir yourselves, my sisters; come, all of you, and unite in this holy exercise! "Praise ye the LORD."
1. For it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
When a thing is good, pleasant, and comely, you have certainly three excellent reasons for attending to it. It is not everything that is good; but here you have a happy combination of goodness, pleasantness, and comliness. It will do you good to praise God. God counts it good, and you will find it a pleasant exercise. That which is the occupation of heaven must be happy employment. "It is good to sing praises unto our God," "it is pleasant," and certainly nothing is more "comely" and beautiful, and more in accordance with the right order of things, than for creatures to praise their Creator, and the children of God to praise their Father in heaven.
2. The LORD doth build up Jerusalem:
Praise his name for that. You love his church; be glad that he builds it up. Praise him who quarries every stone, and puts it upon the one foundation that is laid, even Jesus.
2. He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
Praise him for that. If you were once an outcast, and he has gathered you, give him your special personal song of thanksgiving.
3. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
Praise him for that, ye who have had broken hearts! If he has healed you, surely you should give him great praise.
4. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
He who heals broken hearts counts the stars, and calls them by their names, as men call their servants, and send them on their way. Praise his name. Can you look up at the starry sky at night without praising him who made the stars, and leads out their host?
5. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
Praise him, then; praise his greatness, his almightiness, his infinite wisdom. Can you do otherwise? Oh, may God reveal himself so much to your heart that you shall be constrained to pay him willing adoration!
6. The LORD lifteth up the meek:
What a lifting up it is for them, out of the very dust where they have been trodden down by the proud and the powerful! The Lord lifts them up. Praise him for that.
6. He casteth the wicked down to the ground.
Thus he puts an end to their tyranny, and delivers those who were ground beneath their cruel power. Praise ye his name for this also. Excuse me that I continue to say to you, "Praise ye the Lord," for, often as I say it, you will not praise him too much; and we need to have our hearts stirred up to this duty of praising God, which is so much neglected. After all, it is the praise of God that is the ultimatum of our religion. Prayer does but sow; praise is the harvest. Praying is the end of preaching, and praising is the end of praying. May we bring to God much of the very essence of true religion, and that will be the inward praise of the heart!
7. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
"Unto our God." How that possessive pronoun puts a world of endearment into the majestic word "God"! "This God is our God." Come, my hearer, can you call God your God? Is he indeed yours? If so, "Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God."
8. Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
They did not talk about the "law of nature" in those days. They ascribed everything to God; let us do the same. It is a poor science that pushes God farther away from us, instead of bringing him nearer to us. HE covers the heaven with clouds, HE prepares the rain for earth, HE makes the grass to grow upon the mountains.
9. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
Our God cares for the birds and the beasts. He is as great in little things as in great things. Praise ye his name. The gods of the heathen could not have these things said of them; but our God takes pleasure in providing for the beasts of field and the birds of the air. The commissariat of the universe is in his hand: "Thou openest thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."
10, 11. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Kings of the olden times rejoiced in the thews and sinews of their soldiers and their horses; but God has no delight in mere physical strength. He takes pleasure in spiritual things, even in the weakness which makes us fear him, even that weakness which has not grown into the strength of faith, and yet hopes in his mercy. "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy."
12. Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
Let whole cities join together to praise God. Shall we live to see the day when all London shall praise him? Shall we, ever, as we go down these streets, with their multitudes of inhabitants, see the people standing in the doorways, and asking, "What must we do to be saved?" Shall we ever see every house with anxious enquirers in it, saying, "Tell us, tell us, how can we be reconciled to God?" Pray that it may be so. In Cromwell's day, if your went down Cheapside at a certain hour of the morning, you would find every blind drawn down; for the inmates were all at family prayer. There is no street like that in London now. In those glorious Puritan times, there was domestic worship everywhere, and the people seemed brought to Christ's feet. Alas, it was but an appearance in many cases; and they soon turned back to their own devices! Imitating the Psalmist, let us say, "Praise the Lord, O London; praise thy God, O England!"
13. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
As a nation, we have been greatly prospered, defended, and supplied; and the church of God has been made to stand fast against her enemies, and her children have been blessed.
14, 15. He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat. He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.
Oriental monarchs were very earnest to have good post arrangements. They sent their decrees upon swift dromedaries. They can never be compared with the swiftness of the purpose of God's decree. "His word runneth very swiftly." Oh, that the day would come when, over all the earth, God's writ should run, and God's written Word should come to be reverenced, believed, and obeyed!
16. He giveth snow like wool:
Men say, "it" snows; but what "it" is it that snows? The Psalmist rightly says of the Lord, "HE giveth snow." They say that according to the condition of the atmosphere, snow is produced; but the believer says, "He giveth snow like wool." It is not only like wool for whiteness; but it is like it for the warmth which it gives.
16. He scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.
The simile is not to be easily explained; but it will often have suggested itself to you who, in the early morning, have seen the hoar frost scattered abroad.
17. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?
None can stand before his heat; but when he withdraws the fire, and takes away the heat, the cold is equally destructive. It burns up as fast as fire would. "Who can stand before his cold?" If God be gone, if the Spirit of God be taken away from his church, or from any of you, who can stand before his cold? The deprivation is as terrible as if it were a positive infliction. "Who can stand before his cold?"
18. He sendeth out his word, and melteth them; he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
The frozen waters were hard as iron; the south wind toucheth them, and they flow again. What can God not do? The great God of nature is our God. Let us praise him. Oh, may our hearts be in a right key to-night to make music before him!
19. He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes unto Israel.
This is something greater than all his wonders in nature. The God of nature is the God of revelation. He hath not hidden his truth away from men. He hath come out of the eternal secrecies, and he hath showed his word, especially his Incarnate Word, unto his people. Let his name be praised.
20. He hath not dealt so with any nation:
Or, with any other nation. He revealed his statutes and his judgments to Israel; and since their day, the spiritual Israel has been privileged in like manner: "He hath not dealt so with any nation."
20. And as for his judgments, they have not known them.
Even to-day there are large tracts of country where God is not known. If we know him, let us praise him.
20. Praise ye the LORD.
Hallelujah! The Psalm ends upon its key-note: "Praise ye the LORD." So may all our lives end! Amen.
Peace at Home, and Prosperity Abroad
May 9, 1860 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly." Psalms 147:14 .-15.
Pardon me, my brethren, if I attempt no exposition whatever of the text, but simply endeavor to address you upon what I think is an inference from it, or at least a reflection to which it might readily give rise. The Psalmist is here describing the prosperity of Jerusalem, and he connects that prosperity with the progress and diffusion of the Word of God. He is teaching us I think just this great truth, that there is an intimate connection between the establishment and the building of our Zion at home, and the going forth and the spread of God's Word abroad, both in the provinces of our own land, and throughout the regions of the world. Our own churches must be in a prosperous state. AS the second verse hath it "the Lord doth build up Jerusalem," we may then rest assured that "he will gather together the outcasts of Israel." If there be in the churches of our own highly-favored land a healthiness of spirit and an abundance of the grace of God, we need not fear but that all our operations will be carried on with success. God shall greatly crown our endeavors, and give us to see our heart's desire. If this be not precisely the critical meaning of the text, then let me just say I shall use it in this sense as a motto. The subject of this evening's discourse will be the connection between a healthy church at home, and the increase of the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. First, let me very briefly advert to the main points which constitute a healthy state in the Church of Christ. Under what conditions should we be warranted in applying to it the glowing description of this Psalm "He hath blessed thy children within thee; he maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of wheat." When we have described this healthiness, we shall proceed to show the connection between this and the sending forth of God's commandment upon earth the running swiftly of his word; and then we shall conclude by pushing this principle home to the necessary inference. I. First, then, WHAT ARE THE POINTS WHICH CONSTITUTE THE HEALTHINESS OF THE CHURCH AT HOME? To begin with the most important the true piety of an her members. A Church can never be in a sound and satisfactory state for labor, she never can be in such a. condition that God can smile upon her complacently, if she be mixed up with the world, if her sons and daughters be not sufficiently distinguished from the world to be manifestly God's people. if we take into our churches those who are not converted, we swell our numbers, but we diminish our real strength. We might need to purchase a larger church-book, we might, perhaps, be able to parade our numbers before the world, and we might even flatter ourselves with our apparent prosperity till we intoxicated our own brain, but we should be going backward when we think we are going forward. We have not conquered the world; we have only yielded to it. We have not brought the world up to us, we have only brought ourselves down to it. We have not Christianized an ungodly generation, but we have adulterated Christianity. We have brought the chaste spouse of Christ to commit fornication among the people. We cannot possibly be too strict in the examination of those who are proposed for church fellowship. I will grant you, there are methods by which bigotry may exclude a large proportion of those whom God has called, putting such an extent of knowledge as the test of Christian experience, that many of the lambs of the flock stand bleating without the fold, and are never enabled to come and partake of its pasturage. This evil, doubtless, is to be avoided. But on the other hand, it is quite possible that the fullest charity with which the mildness of our Savior's mind and the love of the Spirit can imbue us, may be blended with the sternest firmness in executing a sacred trust, and with the most prudent discretion in maintaining the purity of discipleship, when we are engaged in the acceptance or rejection of candidates for the fellowship of the visible Church. If we could to-morrow bring into the Church a sufficient number of ungodly but moral men to double our numbers, to double our subscriptions, to double our places of worship, to enable us to double the number of our missionaries, we should by succumbing to the temptation procure a curse instead of a blessing. In our purity, and in our purity alone we stand. Let us once lose our distinctive principles, let us once come back and attempt to nationalize the Church, and bring ourselves from the distinction we have sought to maintain between the Church and the world, and God's blessing will be withdrawn from us; we shall cease to be strong within, and mighty without. Oh I that God might grant to each of us, who are the pastors of the Church, that unceasing vigilance and constant watchfulness whereby we shall be able to detect the wolves in sheep's clothing, and whereby we shall be able to say calmly, sternly, yet lovingly, to those who come before us seeking communion, without satisfactory evident that they belong to the living family of God, "You must go your way until the Spirit of God hath touched your heart, for until you have received the living faith in Jesus, we cannot receive you into the number of his faithful ones." Next to the sincere piety of all our Church members, I think we must look very carefully and very steadfastly to the soundness of that gospel which we proclaim and preach. Soundness I say and here possibly I may be touching upon a delicate subject, but what signifieth if that subject be of the utmost and highest importance 1 There should be, I aver, in the declaration of the ministers of Christ, not uniformity, for that is not consistent with life, but unity which is not only consistent with life, but which is one of the highest marks of a healthy existence. I do not think the time will ever come when we shall all of us see eye to eye, and shall all use the same terms and phrases in setting forth doctrinal truths. I do not imagine there ever will be a period, unless it should be in that long-looked for millennium, when every brother thou be able to subscribe to every other brother's creed; when we shall be identical in our apprehensions, experiences, and expositions of the gospel in the fullest sense of the word. But I do maintain there should be, and there must be if our churches are to be healthy and sound, a constant adherence to the fundamental doctrines of divine truth. I should be prepared to go a very long way for charity's sake, and admit that very much of the discussion which has existed even between Arminians and Calvinists has not been a discussion about vital truth, but about the terms in which that vital truth shall be stated. When I have read the conflict between that mighty man who made these walls echo with his voice. Mr. Whitfield, and that other mighty man equally useful in his day, Mr. Wesley, I have felt that they contended for the same truths, and that the vitality of Godliness was not mainly at issue in the controversy. But, my brethren, if it should ever come to be a matter which casts doubts upon the divinity of Christ, or the personality of the Holy Ghost, if it should come to a matter of using gospel terms in a sense the most contrary to that which has ever been attached to them in any age of the truth; if it should ever come to the marring and spoiling of our ideas of Divine justice, and of that great atonement which is the basis of the whole gospel, as they have been delivered to us; then it is time my brethren once for all that the scabbard be thrown aside, that the sword be drawn. Against any who assails those precious vital truths which constitute the heart of our holy religion, we must contend even to the death. It is not possible that an affirmative and negative can be two views of the same truth. We are continually told when one man contradicts another, that he does but see with other eyes. Nay, my brethren, the one man is blind, he does not see at all, the other sees, having the eyes of his understanding enlightened. There may be two views of truth, but two views of truth cannot be directly antagonistic. One must be the true view and the other the false view. No stretch of my imagination can ever allow me to anticipate the time can come when "yes" and "no" can lie comfortably down in the same bed. I cannot conceive by any means there ever can be a matrimonial alliance between positive and negative. Think ye such things might exist! Verily there were giants at one time, when the sons of God saw the daughters of men; and we may live to see gigantic heresies, when God's own children may look upon the fair daughters of philosophy, and monster delusions shall stalk across the earth. A want of union about truth too clearly proves that the body of the Church is not in a healthy state. No man's system can be said to be in a normal condition if that man prefers ashes to bread, and prefers ditch water to that which flows from the bubbling fountain. A man must be unhealthy or he would not use such garbage. We must look to the preservation of the health of the Church. Alas! if her doctrines be tainted, her faith will not be maintained, and the Church being unsound, can tell what next may occur. But not to tarry longer here, it seems to me the next important point with regard to the true healthiness of the Church at home, will be more and more of the spirit of union. This Society happily represents in a large degree this saved bond of brotherhood. It may have become somewhat denominational, it was never intended to be; nor is it the fault of the maintainers, it is not because they have made it exclusive but because other denominations have. somewhat seceded, and established societies of their own. The London Missionary Society comprehended all Christian men, whether in the Establishment or not. I believe we are an eligible to become members, and all may, as far as we can, assist m sending forward the gospel by its means. But alas I there lingers amongst our Churches and I hope it is but a lingering of that which must presently expire there lingers still a spirit of disunion, because we do not agree in ceremonies. We must needs have livers communions, because we cannot see eye to eye in discipline, while nevertheless we are really and vitally one. We must have I suppose different walks, and cannot commune and converse with one another as members of the same family, and as parts of the same divine body. Whenever the foot is at enmity with the hand there must be something like madness in the body; there cannot be a sound mind within that frame which is divided against itself. And if there be among us any remnants of the spirit of division; if there be aught in us that would make us excommunicate and cut off brethren, because we cannot see with them in all the points of the spiritual compass, though we agree in the main; if it be so, then there must be somewhere or other an unhealthy disease, there must be grey hairs here and there, which have stolen upon us though we knew it not. Oh my heart longs to see a more thorough union among the ministers of Christ Jesus. I think there is more of it than we sometimes believe. I am sure the more we come to know one another, the better we love each other. Distrust may arise from want of personal acquaintance; we need more frequently to come into company; and if the Churches were more active, so as to throw us into contact, I think we should discover more of a real unity than perhaps we think has began to exist. And oh I that this unity may grow and continue, and may not be merely an evangelical alliance in form, but a spiritual confederation in fact; that its enunciation may come from every lip and every heart, and that there may be a real love toward every other member of that alliance, in carrying out its principles to the fullest and the greatest extent. These three points purity of life, soundness of doctrine, and unity of the ministers of the Church of Christ will help to constitute a healthy Church at home. All these things, however, will never avail unless there be added another, namely, constant activity. We all have our times when we feel dull, and listless, and heavy, when we would rather be in bed all day than get up, rather sit in the chair than go to business or enter the pulpit; or when we are in the pulpit, we find our brain does not work, and we cannot put forth the energy that we would. The tongue may be as a ready writer, but we cannot speak as we would desire. We feel at times that we are not well, that there is something wrong in our system. And the Church every now and then gets into the same state. At intervals some earnest speech stirs the members up to spasmodic action, then they return again to their apathy and Laodicean lukewarmness. Sometimes they feel as if they would carry all by storm, but anon they sit down again in calm security. We have hundreds of our churches, from which I continually receive an answer like this to the enquiry, "How do you prosper?" "Well, we are not increasing much, we have added no souls to the Church, but we are very comfortable." That very comfortableness has stolen upon a large proportion of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a marvel that they should be comfortable while souls are dying, and sinners perishing; when hell is filling, and the kingdom of Christ is not extending. But yet quite comfortable they are; and they come to look upon the revivals and increase to the Church as wonders and prodigies, rather like comets that come now and then, than like sums which are to abide with us; and they grow into the habit of questioning the revival spirit, and thinking that when the Church is alive, she has become excited, that she has been dram drinking. and is intoxicated, instead of behaving that it is just her actual evidence of health. When she is in health she is at work without her hands, praying with an her tongues, weeping with an her eyes, and agonizing with God in prayer with all the might of her many intercessors. Oh, my brethren, we are an wrong when we think that the Church is healthy when it is comfortable and still. Is the health of the stagnant pool, the health of the grave-yard, the health of a fainting fit a fit that is on the very verge of death. God be pleased to let loose some blood from we, that we may discover what the Church really is when she shall put forth all her energy. If we saw a queen sitting upon a heap of rubbish, her hair disheveled, and dirt upon her garments, if she never stirs hand or foot, but sits down sleeping on in her misery, could you think she is a queen in all her dignity? Rise up thou Virgin Daughter of Zion, and let us behold thee in thy beauty; shake thyself from the dust, and put on thy beautiful garments, and ascend to thy throne then shall men see what thou art. When thou art idle, and careless, and prayerless, thou art sick and ready to die, but when thou art anxious, and striving, and travailing, then art thou in the state in which thy Lord would have thee; thou dost bless him and he hath blessed thee. One more point, and I will conclude this description of the Church's healthiness. The Church is never healthy except when she abounds in prayer. I have known prayer meetings that have been like the bells to the parish steeple a very poor parish where there were never enough bells to ring a chime. The minister has had to pray twice and read a long chapter, in order to spin out the time, or to meet the want yet more efficiently, he has caned upon a brother who had the gift of supplicating for twenty-five minutes, and then concluded by asking pardon for his short comings. And then the few friends, the bold-hearted, self-denying martyrs, who went to hear the Word of God, were obliged to endure the torture of hearing such a prayer as that. Those brethren must come and go, and never feel that God has been in their midst, that they have never been near to the throne of God, never had the wrestling with the angel, never brought a blessing down, for the man has been praying against time, "an occupying of the few minuted, as they call it, and there was no real intercession or drawing near to God. Now, what Church can be considered to be as Christ would have her, when her members meet to pray, and they constitute but a handful? I care not if the place is crowded at your other services, the Church is not prosperous if the prayer-meetings be thin. It signifies nothing if that Church has sent up a hundred, or five hundred, or a thousand pounds to the Missionary Society write "Ichabod" on her walls, unless the brethren meet together for prayer. The most erudite minister may instruct the people; the most earnest preacher may plead God's cause with men, but if he bath not with him a band of men who plead man's cause with God, his pleadings will be in vain. Shut up that house in which men have ceased to pray; or if you open it, let your opening be a meeting for hearty and earnest prayer. I have to mourn and confess in my own case, that I have had to feel in myself and I think I can speak for many others a want of prayerfulness with regard to missionary effort especially. These things do not meet us as the destitution of London does; for the City Missionaries, and for the sinners of our own congregations, I trust we do not need arguments to make us pray. These arguments are before us every day. We do pray for our own families, and our own congregations, but the heathens are across the sea, many miles away. We may now and then see a Master in the street, or the dark face of a Hindoo, and then our soul breathes a silent ejaculation; but alas! for the most part, many Christians might say whole months pass with them without carrying the cause of the heathen, who are in darkness, before the throne of God; and how can we expect, while this unhealthiness exists among us, that God will bless our missionary operations. Zion must avail before she can bring forth children. She may use all her weapons but if she keep back the great battering-ram of prayer, she will never break the walls of the spiritual Jericho. She may use every other instrument, but unless she takes John Bunyan's weapon of "all-prayer," she will never put to rout the great enemy of souls. Yes, my brethren, we want faithfulness, we want healthiness, we want a prayerful spirit given to us, then we may conclude that all is well with us. It shall be left to each individual heart, and each member of the Church, to answer for himself the question, whether his own Church is in a state of spiritual health, taking these things as a test; namely, purity, soundness, unity, and prayerfulness. II. I have now to show THE CONNECTION BETWEEN A HEALTHY CHURCH AT HOME AND THE SPREAD OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM ABROAD. To the mind of the simple this thing will be clear enough. Suppose all the Churches to degenerate into a lack of life, and into nearness to spiritual death. Suppose the pulpit in our land gives an uncertain sound. As a result God's people begin to forsake the assembling of themselves together, no crowds gather to hear the Word; places begin to get empty prayer-meetings become more and more deserted; the efforts of the Church may be still carried on, but they are merely a matter of routine; there is no life, no heart in it. I am supposing a case you see, a case which I trust we never may see. Things get worse and worse; the doctrines of the gospel become expunged and unknown; they that fear the Lord no more speak one to another. Still for a little time the money continues to be brought into the Society, and foreign missions are sustained. Can you not imagine reading in the next report, "We have had no converts this year; our income is still maintained; but notwithstanding that, our brethren feel that they are laboring under the greatest possible disadvantages; in fact, some of them wish to return home and renounce the work." Another year the missionary spirit has grown cold in the Churches, in funds decrease. Another year, and yet another, it becomes a moot point among us as to whether missions are necessary or not. We have come at last to the more advanced point which some. have already reached, and begin to question whether Mahomet and Confucius had not a revelation from God as well as Jesus Christ. And now we begin to say, "Is it needful that we should extend the gospel abroad at all? We have lost faith in it; we see it does nothing at home, shall we send that across the sea which is a drug on the market here, and distribute as a healing for the wounds of the daughters of Zidon and of Tyre that which bath not healed the daughter of Jerusalem?" I can conceive that first one station then another would be given up, those that would be maintained would only be kept up by reason of an old custom which was recollected to have existed in the absurd days of Evangelists. I can imagine the Church degenerating further, and further, and further, till at last her unhealthiness clearly showed that it would be impossible that it ever could be maintained abroad. You have only to look abroad upon nature, and you will soon find analogies to this. There is a well of water springing up, and the people of the district flock to it, it is said to have healthy properties; men come and dome thereat and are refreshed. Suddenly the secret spring begins to fail; by some means or other the water is removed to another place, and the spring is no more there. You can conceive that this place would cease to be a thoroughfare; there would no longer be passengers. Where multitudes of men and women were wont to drink with joy and gladness, there is not a single person to be seen. Or, suppose again, there is the sun in its sphere shedding light on all the planets, and with its attractive power making them move with regularity in their orbits Suddenly the sun's fire dies out; its attractive power decreases also, and becomes extinguished. Can you not imagine that the result must be fatal to all the planets that revolve around it I How shall they be sustained in their light and heat, or how shall they be kept in their spheres when once the power that kept them there is gone? No, prophecy is fulfilled; the sun is turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, and the stars fall like withered fig-leaves from the tree. And what is the Church to our missionary stations but like the sun? Is it not her light that shines? Do they not receive from her their instructions in the Word of God the light of the world? And are not; those stations the rays from the great central luminary? Let her lose her power and her light, and what must become of the rest of the world? Must not total blank darkness cover all the nations? Oh I yes, my brethren, if we do not know that, we soon should know it if God should ever put us to the test. If once England's glory were extinguished, if once the Christianity of America were put out, where were all the vital godliness then? How should those agencies which depend upon us! be sustained if our home piety were once brought to nought? No; we must have the bars of our gates strengthened, there must be peace in our borders, and we must. be filled with the finest wheat, or else God s Word will not run very quickly, nor will his commandment be sent faith upon the earth. Let me endeavor very briefly to shows what this connection is. There is a direct connection between the primeness of the Church at hone and the progress of Christianity abroad a direct connection; we shall have to speak of the more indirect connection by-and-bye. The inconsistencies of English Christians have proved one of the greatest barriers to the progress of Christ's kingdom in other lands. An excellent minister of the Church in France told me and told it with a sorrowful earnestness too that Protestantisin received a severe check in Paris from the inconsistent conduct of Christian men there, those who protested Protestantisin at least, if they were not members of our Churches. "Now sir," said he, "when a man visits Paris, who is a Protestant an English Protestant I will not say is an actual member of your Church certainly, when he comes to Paris, he neglects all attendance to the Sabbath-day;" and Romanists, if spoken to about their constant breach of the holy day, will reply to the Reformed Christians of France, "Look to the Protestants of Great Britain when they are here; do they attend to their religion abroad any better than we do?" I have been assured by several pastors living in Paris, that it is a frightful and lamentable fact, that men when they go on the Continent seem to go there to get rid of their religion, when they land on those shores they assume the garb of a traveler, and think they may be permitted to attend Roman Catholic places of worship on the Lord's day, and they are not seen worshipping God with their brethren where the worship in the English language is still maintained. I can assure you that I was affectionately requested to avail myself of an early opportunity to make a prominent complaint against the Christianity of England for its inconsistency abroad. In the name of the pastors of France I speak, and in the name of the pastors of l'Oratoire I think I speak it also I think I speak for five of them at least I do beseech of Christian men who are going abroad, not to permit themselves to forget their Christianity, but to remember that the eyes of men are still upon them, and if not the eyes of men certainly the eyes of God. Let me give you another fact, which proves that when the Church is unsound home she will not go on well abroad. In the late Report of the Baptist Missionary Society J observed a great trouble through which certain stations have lately passed; a trouble which they have survived, but which materially checked their usefulness Certain brethren holding rather extreme Church views thought it necessary, instead of carrying on operations among the pure heathen, to set to work to convert those who were Christians already to their own creed, and the effect in the villages where they tried their scheme was, that by dint of giving more charity than a poorer society could afford to give, they managed to decoy a large proportion of the congregations to a different form of Protestant service. The result was just this they were informed by these pastors good men doubtless that the sect to which they once belonged was an ignoble body in its own country, and did not possess any influence. And for the first time the Hindoos answered that there were Christian men who could depreciate one another that there were professors of this one religion who had a greater dislike to one another than any two sects of Heathenism ever had. The effect upon the minds of the villagers was not merely disastrous to that one mission, but to Christianity herself. They began to suspect that the house that was divided against itself could not have its foundations upon truth. My brethren, when we shall once come to unity of doctrine, and to purity and consistency of life, the direct agency of our Church members, and of our missionaries upon the heathen world, will be far more healthy and effective than it is. I do not doubt, if I had a wider and more extensive knowledge of the proceedings of the Church in other lands, I could multiply instances of this kind, in which our faults at home have been very great draw-backs upon our success abroad. And yet the agency, I think, may be considered in the main to be indirect; but nevertheless, as potent as if it were direct. If our Churches be not true, if they be not kept by God, if they be not pure and holy, and prayerful, they will begin to lose the missionary spirit, and when the missionary spirit evaporates, of what use will be the missionary body? Bury it; yes, in Bloomfield Street will we dig its grave, or in Moorgate Street shall we make a vault I Put on its shroud, and let it have a tearful burial, for if the spirit of missions be lost in the Churches, it would be no use trying to maintain the semblance of the body of the Society. We all know what the missionary spirit is, and yet we could not any of us exactly describe it. It is a sort of thing that sets a man longing to see others saved, and makes him pant especially for those who have no means of grace in their own lands, that they may have those means carried to them, that they may be saved. This leads them to self-denying, and to earnest prayer for those that are diligent servants. Extinguish the healthiness of the Church, and you have lost that spirit. We can never expect the ruddy flush of health upon the cheek, unless there is health within. The missionary spirit is just that bloom, which will soon be taken away if consumption should seize upon the frame. The missionary spirit can only be maintained by the maintenance of life and vitality in the Church. But further, if you take away the missionary spirit; of course all prayerfulness, and with that an powerful. ness to rend the clouds of heaven is withdrawn. Let the winds of the Holy Spirit, brethren, once depart from our Churches at home, our Missionary Society shall be as a ship at sea with her sails an spread, and her spars well rigged, but without a breath of air to move her towards her port. There she shall lie till she perishes upon the rocks, or founders in a calm. She can be of no service; she can bring no glory to her God, carry no cargo of living spirits up to the port of heaven, unless there be prayer at home to wake up all the winds, and let them loose upon her to speed her on her destined course. With that want of prayer too, you must remember you suspend all hopes of finding fresh missionaries. I have often wondered whether our Churches are choosing the best means to find out young men who would be useful in the mission field. There is growing now-a-days a lack of ministers for our own pulpits. Why it is so I cannot tell, except that it strikes me, that young men are not sufficiently encouraged when they have preaching abilities, to endeavor to do their best to exercise them. I do know a brother who ever makes it a rule, if a young man displays any sort of ability, and applies to him for a recommendation for College or otherwise, positively to throttle him if he can. "You," he says. "Who are you? I am sure you will never make a minister, you can only talk, sir you are no good." And many a young man who might have been usefully employed in that one Church has been driven away from it to seek some more congenial spirit, because he has been put back in his attempts to do some service. Of course if we never make an attempt to grow ministers, or to bring them out from the world, train them up and guide them to the place where their talents may be proved, we shall not have a right to expect God's blessing in this matter. Only cease to cultivate wheat, and you shall have but very little of it. God does raise men and send them out; but at time he works by means. And he makes the Church use means to bring out members. The old Church of the Waldenses used the best means I think that ever will be devised. Every pastor of the Church had one young man with him, and tried to train him up, keeping him in habitual conversation with him, and teaching him what he knew of pastoral discipline and of the preaching of the Word. So that when the one minister died, they had not to look for a successor, there he was ready to hand among the young men who had come out of that Church. Our nation used to boast that it could grow everything it needed; we do not care for the boast in these free-trade times, but we do say that our Churches ought to grow All that they need for themselves. They ought not always to go a hundred miles to get pastors when they could obtain them amongst themselves. They do not-go abroad for deacons! Why not have pastors from among themselves that were raised from childhood in the Church? Ah! should we once become unsound in our Churches, and prayer become cold, and where are the men to come from that shall succeed those heroes of Christ whose blood was shed by heathen hands? Where shall we find the successors to Knuibb and Williams? Where shall we find the successors to Moffat and Livingstone, unless the healthy tone of Christian self-denial and holy firmness of divine fervor be kept up and maintained? Do you imagine you can enlist them from abroad? Do you think they will spring up at your can? Oh, no. It is one thing to obtain money to keep a man, to obtain a free passage for him, and a station where he may be maintained; but another thing to find your man. And you may lose your men because you are not looking for them; you may pass over the men whom God would honor most, because they come not up to your standard of scholastic attainments or oratorical gift. They might come up to that by-and-bye. You striving together with prayer, with sympathy and interest in their welfare, God would enrich them, and you might find a phalanx of heroes who should be like the old guard, who never could surrender, but in every battle upon which they should enter would drive their foemen before them, even to the ends of the earth. III. The last point is one upon which I would briefly but very earnestly preach to myself and to all here assembled. If it be true, and I am sure it is, that the healthiness of the Church at home is vitally connected with the success of the Word of God as preached abroad, then, dear brothers and sisters, let us remember that it must have also a connection with our own personal standing in the sight of God. Truth is like the crystal, which retains its shape even though it be broken almost to an invisible atom. And so the truth that our success depends upon the whole Church is equally sure, when we bring it down to this, that our success in a measure depends upon the vitality, healthiness, and Godliness of each individual If you were as a Christian, my brother, a separate and distinct organism a body entirely separate from every one else you, might be never so sick and no one else would suffer; but you are not so. Remember that you are a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones; and we hold it to be a precious fact, that if one member suffer, all the members suffer; that, if one member rejoice, ad the members share the joy. Must it not equally be true, that if one member be unhealthy, the unhealthiness of that member does to a degree taint the whole? The Church had all things common in the Apostles' days in temporals; to this day she has all things common in spirituals. We all draw from the same treasury; on the other hand we ought to contribute to the same. If you contribute less, there is the less in the treasury; if your efforts be more feeble than they should be, the efforts of the whole Church are the feebler. Depend upon it, if there be no electric unions between man and man, there are such spiritual unions that the thoughts, acts, and words of any one man do in a degree, however inappreciable to our senses, affect the deeds and actions of every living man, and perhaps of every man that ever shall live to the end of this earthly dispensation. There is no end to a word, it is an infinite thing. It is like the stone that is dropped into the lake the circles are ever-widening. So your influence for good or evil knows no bound. It may be but little upon one individual, but then that individual prolongs it upon another, and he upon another still, till the pulse of time, nay of eternity, may be made to throb through something that you have said or done. You may work an evil work which shall tremble in the flames of hell for ever and ever, or you may do a good work, which under God may glisten in the light of glory throughout eternity. There is no limit to the influence of any man, and certainly there is no possibility of your staying that influence altogether, and of making yourself so distinct that you are independent of another. Look then ye cold, ye careless ones, look ye on this ye are not clear, ye have helped to spoil the Church. Next time ye go abroad to find fault, remember that you share in the cause of that fault. Next time you mourn the Church's prayerlessness, remember that it is your own prayerlessness that helps to make up the bulk of the Church's lack. Next time you would complain of any minister's dullness, or of any Church s want of energy, oh! reflect, it is your own dullness, your own want of energy, that helps to swell the rolling tide. If every man mended one, all would be mended if every man had but one soul stirred, and that soul his own, the whole Church would be stirred up. If it were possible for every member of the Church to be sound how could any part of the body be sick? If every individual were what he should be, Low could there be any complaints? We have grown into the habit of praying for the Church as if she were a colossal culprit, which we should tie up, and then take the ten-thonged whip of the law and pull off thongful after thongful of the quivering flesh, while all the while the real culprit is escaping, namely ourselves our own individual selves. I do feel more and more the necessity of looking at the souls of men in the light of my own responsibility to them. I do not want to look at the maps sometimes published by the Society, with red and green marks, showing where there is light. I like to look at, and have a map where I have been a light. I would rather look at London, not in the light of what any particular society or its agency can do for it, but in the light of what I can do for it; and so each of you ought to look on his fellow-man. No society ever thought of taking your responsibility on itself; if it did so, or if you ever thought you have been both mistaken. Responsibilities to God for the souls of men is east on each one of us, and no contribution, however liberal, can ever shield us from the obligation. We must stand, each man for himself, and hear the "Well done good and faithful servant," or else "Thou wicked and slothful servant." My dear Christian friends members of our Churches are you doing all you can for the souls of men. You cannot save them, but God the Holy Spirit can make you the instruments of their salvation. When you hear the bell tolling to-morrow for some one who lived in your street, can you go into the cemetery, and can you stand there and look at the grave and say, "I did all that was in the power of any mortal man for that man's salvation" No, you cannot. I am afraid that none of us, or but very few, could say, when we hear of the death of friends, "If that man perish, I did not leave a single stone unturned." No, we might say we have done something, but we could not say that we have done all that we might have done. And to conclude, that I may discharge this solemn responsibility myself in some measure, are there not many in this congregation who are still unconverted? We talk about heathens there are heathens here. You have heard the name of Jesus these many years, but you are no more Christian tonight than the Hottentot in his kraal; perhaps further off from the kingdom of heaven than he, because you have become more hardened in heart by rejecting the gospel of Christ, a sin he has never committed, seeing his bath never known it. Ah! my hearers, in this place there have been hundreds of souls brought to Jesus. There is not a pew in this ancient Tabernacle which could not tell stories of grace. If it could but speak, it would say, "Such-and-such a broken-hearted penitent sat there." These walls, if they could cry aloud, could tell how many sighs and groans they have heard, and how many precious tears they have seen trickling from the eyes of converted men and women. And is there not one here to night who shall yet be saved? Remember, you are lost and ruined; ruined utterly, helplessly, and hopelessly. So far as you yourself ale concerned, there is no hope of your salvation. But there is help laid on One that is mighty to save even Jesus Christ. Look out of yourself to him, and you are saved. Cast away ail self-confidence and repose on Jesus and your spirit lives. The soul-quickening words are "Believe and live." Oh! may the Lord enable you now to trust Jesus and you shall be saved, be your sins never so many. The hour which sees you look to Christ, sees sin's black garment all unbound and cast away. The hour which sees your eye salute the bleeding Savior, sees the eye of God looking down on you with manifest complacency and joy. "He that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved," be his sins never so many; "he that believeth not shall be damned," be his sins never so few. I would earnestly exhort those who feel their need of Jesus, those who are "weary and heavy-laden, lost and ruined by the fall," now to take the Savior, even now, for he is yours. You have a personal right to him, so surely as your hearts are willing to receive him, you have nothing of your own Christ is yours, take him, his grace is free as the air. Take of this water of life which saves. Drink of it, no one can deny you, drink even to the full, and there shall be joy in heaven, and joy on earth over sinners saved. May the Lord add his blessing for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 147". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26