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Dilemma and Deliverance
December 4th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Psalms 9:10 .
There are many men who are exceedingly well read in heathen mythologies; who can tell you the history of any one of the heathen gods, but who at the same time know very little of the history of Jehovah, and cannot rehearse his mighty acts. In our schools to this day there are books put into the hands of our youth that are by no means fit for them to read books which contain all kinds of filth, and if not always filth, yet all kinds of fables and vanities, which are simply put into our hands when we are lads, because they happen to be written in Latin and Greek; and, therefore, I suppose it is imagined that we shall all the better recollect the wickedness that is contained in them, by having the trouble of translating them into our own mother tongue. I would that instead of this, all our youth were made acquainted with the history of the Lord our God. Would that we could give them for classics some books which record what he hath done, the victories of his glorious arm, and how he hath put to nought the gods of the heathen and cast them down even into the depths. At any rate, the Christian will always find it to be useful to have at hand some history of what God did in the days of yore. The more you know of God's attributes, the more you understand of his acts; the more you treasure up of his promises, and the more you fully dive into the depths of his covenant, the more difficult will it become for Satan to tempt you to despondency and despair. Acquaint thyself with God and be at peace. Meditate on his law both day and night, and thou shalt be like a tree planted by the rivers of water; thy leaf shall not wither; thou shalt bring forth fruit in thy season, and whatsoever thou doest shall prosper. Ignorance of God is ignorance of bliss; but knowledge of God is a divine armor, by which we are able to ward off all the blows of the enemy. Know thyself, O man, and that will make thee miserable; know thy God, O Christian, and that will make thee rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Now, this morning, in addressing you, I shall divide my text into three parts. First, I shall note a certain fiery dart of Satan; secondly, I shall point out to you heaven's divine buckler, as hinted at in the text "Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee;" and then, in the third place, I shall notice man's precious privilege of seeking God, and so of arming himself against Satan. I. First, then, I am to dwell for a little time upon A CERTAIN FIERY DART OF SATAN WHICH IS CONSTANTLY SHOT AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF GOD. There are many temptations, there are many suggestions and insinuations; and all these are arrows from the bow of the Evil one. But there is one temptation which exceeds all others, there is one suggestion which is more Satanic, more skilfully used in effecting the purposes of Satan than any other. That suggestion is the one referred to in these words of the Psalmist viz., this, the suggestion to believe that God has forsaken us. If all the other arrows of hell could be put into one quiver, there would not be so much deadly poison in the whole as in this one. When Satan has used up every other weapon, he always betakes himself to this last, most sharp, moat deadly instrument. He goes to the child of God and pours into his ear this dark insinuation, "Thy God has forsaken thee quite; thy Lord will be gracious no more." Now, I shall remark with regard to this arrow, that it is one that is very often shot from Satan's bow. Some of us have been wounded by it scores of times in our life. Whenever we have fallen into any sin, have been overtaken by some sudden wind of temptation, and have staggered and almost fallen, Conscience pricks us and tells us we have done wrong. Our heart, like David's heart, smites us. We fall upon our knees, and acknowledge our fault and confess our sin. Then it is that Satan lets fly this arrow, which comes whizzing up from hell and enters into the soul, and while we are making the confession, the dark thought crosses our soul, "God has forsaken thee; he will never accept thee again. Thou hast sinned so foully that he will blot thy name out of the covenant; thou hast stumbled so fearfully that thy feet shall never stand upon the rock again thou hast stumbled to thy fall; thou hast fallen to thy fell destruction." Have you not known this, Christian? When for a season you have been led to backslide, when you have lost your first love and have become degenerate, when you have put out your hand to touch the unlawful thing through some sudden surprisal has not this been thrown in your teeth?" Ah, wretch that you are, God will never forgive that sin: you have been so ungrateful, such a hypocrite, such a liar against the Lord your God, that now now he will cast you away, throw you upon a dunghill like salt that has lost its savor, and as fit for nothing." Ah, friends, you and I know what this means. And I dare say David did too. He had to feel all the power of this poisoned arrow after his great sin, when he went up to his chamber and wept and bemoaned himself, and there cried out in agony, "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." A select opportunity this for shooting this arrow. Just where the sin has been Satan marks, and then he sends a suggestion. Wherever there is a wound of sin, it is wonderful how this arrow will work, and what a burning it will give to our blood till every vein becomes a road for the hot feet of pain to travel on, and all our flesh is made to tingle with this evil thought, "I have sinned, and the reprover of man has reproved me to my face and cast me from his presence, and he will be gracious to me no more." Another season when Satan usually shoots this arrow is the time of great trouble. There is a broad river across your path, and you are bidden to ford it. You go in and you find the water is up to your knees. Anon, as you wade on it becomes breast-high. But you comfort yourself with this thought, "When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." Cheered with this you go on; but you sink, and the water becomes deeper still. At last, it is almost gurgling in your throat! it is flowing over your very shoulders. Just then, when in the very deepest part of the stream, Satan appears on the bank, takes out his bow and shoots this fiery arrow. "Thy God has forsaken thee." "Oh," saith the Christian, "I feared not as long as I heard the voice saying, 'Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.' But now," saith he, "my God hath forsaken me." And now the Christian begins to sink indeed, and if it be not for the mighty power of God, it will not be Satan's fault if he doth not drown thee in the midst of the flood. What a malicious devil is this, that must always send us a fresh trouble, and most grievous of all, send it when we are in our very worst distress. He is a coward, indeed; he always hits a man when he is down. When I am up and on my feet I am more than a match for Satan, but when I begin to stumble through great trouble, out comes the dragon from the pit, and begins to roar at me, and to draw his sword, and hurl his fiery darts; for now, says he, "man's extremity shall be my opportunity; now that his heart and flesh fails now will I make a full end of him." You also know, some of you, what that means. You could bear the trouble well, but you could not bear the dreary thought that God has forsaken you in your trouble. Another season, too, in which Satan shoots this fiery dart is before some great labor. I am often vexed and perplexed with this dark thought when I have to appear before you on the Sabbath day; I frequently come here with that ringing in my ears: "God will forsake thee; thou shalt fall before the congregation; the word shall not go home with power; thou shalt labor in vain, and spend thy strength for nought." Thousands of times have I preached the gospel, yet to this day does that same arrow come flying up, and still does it vex and perplex my heart. If there be anything greater for a Christian to do, than he has been accustomed to do in former times, it is generally then that Satan levels this battle, when there is a deep soil to be ploughed, and the plough it heavy, and the oxen are faint, and the ploughman thinks he shall not accomplish his weary work, then it is that up comes this dark thought "The Lord hath forsaken thee, and where art thou now?" The like doth he do at another season, namely, times of unanswered prayer. You have been up to God's throne asking for a blessing; you have been five, six, twelve times, and you have had no answer; you go again; and you are just wrestling with God and the blessing seems as if it must come; but no, it does not come, and you bring your burden away on your back once more. You have been wont to cast all your cares upon God, and come away rejoicing; but now you find that prayer hath no return of blessing; it seems to be a waste of words. Then up comes Satan, just at the moment, and he says, "God hath forsaken you, if you were a child of God, he would answer your prayer; he would not leave you crying so long in the dark as this, if you were one of his beloved children. Why, he hears his people! Look at Elijah how he heard him. Remember Jacob; how he wrestled with the angel and prevailed. Oh," says Satan, "God has forsaken thee." Ah, Satan we have heard that aforetime. "Yes, but," says he, "his mercy is clean gone for ever. The heavens have become like brass, the Shekinah is gone up from between the wings of the cherubim, his house is left empty and void; Ichabod is written on thy closet; thou shalt never have an answer again. Go speak to the winds, spread your griefs to the pitiless sea, for God's ear is shut, and he will never move his arm to work deliverance for thee." Now, am I not justified in saying that this arrow is very often shot. I may not have mentioned all the instances in which it has been shot at you, but I am certain that if you are a child of God, there have been times and seasons when this desperate insinuation has come up from hell "God hath forgotten thee: he hath cast thee off: thou art left to thyself, and thou shalt perish." At any rate, if you have never said it, remember it is written in God's word that Zion saith "My God hath forgotten me;" and call to your recollection that gracious answer "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." The arrow; then, is often shot. Then let me remark with regard to this arrow, again that it is most grievous. Other troubles only wound the Christian's' flesh; they do but pierce with skin deep wounds; but this is a shot that goes right deep into his heart. When Satan is shooting other arrows we can laugh at him, for they rattle against our buckler; but this one finds out the joints of the harness, and it goes right through from one side to the other, till we are compelled to say, "As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach one; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?" This is hitting the target in the very center. This is skillful riflery, indeed, when Satan is able to send this arrow right into the eve of the soul. Other troubles are like surface storms. They toss the ocean into an apparent storm, and there are big waves on the top, but all is still and calm down in the caverns beneath. But this dark thought makes the ocean boil to its very bottom; it stirs the soul up until there is not one place in which there is rest; neither a cavern of the heart, nor a corner of the conscience in which the spirit has peace. This arrow, I say, is one of hell's masterpieces, there is more craft and skill in it than aught else Satan has ever done. It is the worst of his arrows because it grieves the Spirit exceedingly. And there is another thought I must throw out. Not only is this arrow grievous, but it is very dangerous. For if, my brethren, we believe this accusation against God, it is not long before we begin to sin. Let the Christian know that his God is with him, and temptation will have little power, but when God has forsaken us, as we think that he has, ah! then, when Satan offers us some back door by which to escape from our troubles, how very easily shall we be tempted to adopt his expedients. A merchant who knows that his God is with him, may see trade going from him, and his house verging to bankruptcy, but he will not do a dishonest thing. But let him imagine that God is against him, then Satan will say, "See, merchant, one of God's children, you have been deceived, he will never help you;" and then, he is tempted to do something which in his conscience he knows to be wrong. "God will not deliver me," he says; "then I will try to deliver myself." There is great danger in this. Take heed to yourself then that ye "take unto you the whole armor of God," and "above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." I will make but one other observation upon this fiery dart; and that is, it bears the full impression of its Satanic maker. None but the devil could be the author of such a thought as this that God has forsaken his people. Look it in the face, Christian, and see if it has not got the horns of the Evil One stamped on its brow? Does not the cloven foot peep out? Look at it; why, it is the devil's own child. Why, bethink thee, Christian, this Evil One is making thee doubt thy own Father. He is bidding thee distrust a faithful God. He is calling in question the promise which says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." He is making you accuse God of perjury. As if he could break his oath, and run back from the covenant which he has made with Christ on thy behalf. Why, none but the devil could have the impudence to suggest such a thought as that. Cast it from thee, believer; fling it away to the very depths of the sea; it is unworthy of thee to harbor it for a moment. Thy God forsake thee? Impossible! He is too good. Thy God forsake thee? It is utterly impossible! He is too true. Could he forsake his children, he would have forsaken his integrity; he would have ceased to be God, when he ceased to succor and help his own. Rest thou, then, in that, and ward the fiery dart off; for hellish, indeed, it is, and the name of its maker is stamped upon it legibly. II. In the second place, let me notice THE DIVINE BUCKLER WHICH GOD HAS PROVIDED FOR HIS CHURCH AGAINST THIS FIERY DART. Here it is; it is the fact that God never has forsaken them that fear him, and that, moreover, he never will do so. Ah, my brethren, if we could but once believe the doctrine that the child of God might fall from grace and perish everlastingly, we might, indeed, shut up our Bible in despair. To what purpose would my preaching be the preaching of a rickety gospel like that? To what purpose your faith a faith in a God that cannot and would not carry on to the end? To what use the blood of Christ, if it were shed in vain, and did not bring the blood-bought ones securely home? To what purpose the Spirit, if he were not omnipotent enough to overcome our wandering, to arrest our sins and make us perfect, and present us faultless before the throng of God at last? That doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints is, I believe, as thoroughly bound up with the standing or falling of the gospel, as is the article of justification by faith. Give that up and I see no gospel left. I see no beauty in religion that is worthy of my acceptance, or that deserves my admiration. An unchanging God, an everlasting covenant, a sure mercy, these are the things that my soul delights in, and I know your hearts love to feed upon them. But take these away, and what have we? We have a foundation of wood, hay, straw, and stubble. We have nothing solid. We have a fort of earth-works, a mud hovel through which the thief may break and steal away our treasures. Nay, this foundation stands sure "The Lord knoweth them that are his;" and he doth so know them that he will certainly bring them every one to his right hand at last in glory everlasting. But to return to our text, and to offer you some few words of comfort which may tend to quench the fiery dart of the wicked one. The psalmist says, "Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." I call up before you now, one by one as witnesses, the saints of God in the olden time. You are in great trouble to-day and Satan suggests that now God has forsaken you. Come hither, Jacob! we read thy testimony. Wast thou a man of trouble? "Ah," saith he, "few and evil were my days." Evil, man? what meanest thou? "I mean that they were full of sorrow, full of perplexity, full of fear and trouble." And what is thy testimony, Jacob? We have heard that thou didst seek God in prayer. Didst thou not wrestle with the angel at the brook Jabbok, and prevail? Speak, man, and tell these doubting hearts, did God forsake thee? Methinks I see that hoary patriarch lifting up his hands, and he cries, "I trembled to meet my brother, Esau. I stayed at the brook Jabbok, and I said, 'Lord, give deliverance from him whom I think bloodthirsty.' I crossed the brook full of fear and trembling, but tell it, O let it be known for the comfort of others in like trouble with me, I met my brother Esau, and he fell upon my neck and kissed me. He would not take the tribute which I offered him. He became my friend and we loved each other. God had turned his heart, and he took no vengeance upon me. But," continued the patriarch, "I was always a doubting man, I was always a careful man; I had so much cunning and craft about me that I could not trust anything in the hands of my Covenant God, and this always brought me into care and trouble. but," says he, "I bear my witness that I never had need to have troubled myself at all; if I had but left it all in the hand of God, all would have been well. I remember," saith he, "and I tell it to you now, when my son Joseph was sold into Egypt what sorrow I had in my heart, for I said, 'My grey hairs shall be brought with sorrow to the grave, for Joseph my son is, without a doubt, rent in pieces.' And then it happened on a day that Simeon was taken away from me; and there came a message out of Egypt that Benjamin must go down. And I remember well what I said 'Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and now they will take Benjamin away. All these things are against me.' But they were not against me," says the old man, "they were for me, every one of them. Joseph, that I said was not, was; he was sitting upon the throne; he had prepared for me a habitation in Egypt. As for Simeon, he was a hostage there; and that was not against me, for perhaps I should scarce have sent my sons down at all if it had not been for the hope that they would bring Simeon back. And now," says Jacob, "I retract every word I have said against the Lord my God, and I stand before you to bear my testimony that not one good thing hath failed of all that the Lord God hath promised. My shoes were iron and brass, and as my days so was my strength." I hear a mourner say, "Mine is not a case of trouble and sorrow; mine is a case of duty. I have a duty to perform that is too heavy for me, and I am afraid I shall never accomplish it." Here comes another of the ancients to bear his witness. It is Moses; let him speak. "I thought," said he, "when God called me from keeping the flocks of my father in the desert by the mount of Horeb, I thought I never could be strong enough for the office to which I had been ordained. I said unto my Lord, who am I, that I should go unto Pharoah? And I said unto him again, Lord, thou knowest I am not eloquent; the children of Israel will not believe me, for I shall not have skill enough in oratory to persuade them to follow my words. But the Lord said, Certainly I will be with thee. And lo," says Moses, "as my days so was my strength. I had strength enough to stand before Pharoah, strength enough to shake the whole land of Egypt, and strength enough to divide the Red Sea and drown all Pharoah's hosts. I had strength enough to endure with an evil generation forty years in the wilderness, strength enough to take their idol god and grind it in pieces, and make them drink the water upon which I had strewn the atoms. I had strength enough to lead them on from day to day, to command the rock and it gushed with water, to speak to the heavens and they sent down the manna. And when I went up at last to my grave, and looked from the top of Nebo, I, who had once been fearful, saw with transport the land to which the Lord's people had been brought, and my soul was taken away with a kiss, and I departed in peace." Hear that, then, O laboring one; the God that helped Moses will help thee. Moses sought God, and God did not forsake him; nor will he forsake thee. But saith another, "I am exposed to slander, men speak evil of me; no lie is too bad for them to utter against me." Ah, my friend, permit me to refer you to another ancient saint; it is the saint who wrote this psalm David. Let him stand up and speak. "Ah!" saith he "from the first day when I went forth to fight Goliath even to the end of my life I was the subject of shame and slander. Doeg the Edomite, Saul, and multitudes of men, the men of Belial, like Shimei, all accused me. I was the song of the drunkard; I was the harlot's jest. Nothing was too bad for David. All mine enemies went round about the city like dogs, that bay all night and rest not even at morning." And what didst thou do, David? "Oh," said he, "I said, 'My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him.'" And didst thou prove that God was thy deliverer? "Ah, yes yes," saith he, "I have pursued my enemies, and I have overtaken them.' 'Thou hast smitten all my enemies upon the cheek-bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.'" And so shall you find it, my hearers, God has not forsaken you, even though you be slandered. Remember it is the lot of God's greatest servants to bear the worst character amongst worldlings. Whose character is safe in these days? What man among us may not be accused of any indecency? Who among us can hope to stand immaculate when liars are so rife, and charges are so abundant? Be content and bear the slander. Remember, the higher the tower the longer will be the shadow; and often, the higher a man's character the fouler will be the slander that comes out against him. But remember, "no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." If ye need any other witnesses I could bring them. Let Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego come forth. Ye Hebrew children, ye stood in the midst of coals when the furnace was white with heat; did God forsake you? "No," they say, "our hair was not singed, nor had the smell of fire passed on our garments." Speak, O Daniel! Thou didst stand a night in the midst of the furious lions, who had been starved for days that they might devour thee in their hunger; what sayest thou? "My God," saith he, "hath sent his angel to shut the lions' mouths; my God, whom I serve, hath not forsaken me." But time would fail me if I should tell you of those who have "shut the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, obtained promises, wrought victories, put to flight the armies of aliens; "yet we might enlarge for a moment upon the history of great martyrs. Has God left one of them? They have suffered at the stake; their limbs have been stretched on the rack; every nerve has been strained; every bone has been dislocated. They have had their eyes plucked out; they have had their flesh rent away piecemeal to the bone with hot pincers, they have been dragged at the heels of horses, burnt on gridirons, hung up before slow fires. They have seen their infants cut in pieces before their eyes, their wives and daughters ravished, their houses burned, their country laid desolate. But has God forsaken them? Has the world triumphed? Has God left his children? "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Another question is suggested, however, for your comfort, Christian; I have brought many witnesses to prove that Christ does not forsake his children; let me ask you to step into the witness box. You say that God has forsaken you I will put a question or two to you. When your wife lay sick, and there were three little ones in the house and she approached to death, and you cried in agony to God and said, "God, thou hast forsaken me. My business fails me, and now my wife is to be taken from me! what shall I do with these little ones?" Answer this question; did God forsake you then? "Nay," you say, "my wife still lives, she was restored to me." But when one of your children lay a-dying and the others were seized with fever, you then said, "My wife again is sick; what shall I do with this house of sickness? Now, God has forsaken me. I shall never bear this trial." Did you bear it? "Oh, yes," say you, "I passed through it and I can say, 'Blessed be the name of God, the affliction was sanctified to me.'" Do you recollect the heavy loss you sustained in business? Not one but many; loss came after loss; every speculation in which you had been engaged broke down under you. You had many bills coming in, and you said. "Now, I shall not be able to meet them; and as a Christian man you shuddered to think of bankruptcy. You even went up with your wife into your chamber and you two went on your knees and poured out your case before God, and asked him to help you. Did God leave you? "No," say you, "as by a miracle I was delivered I cannot tell how it was, but I came out of it clean." And yet again, another question to another one of you. Do you remember when you were in sin, before you had received pardon, your guilt was heavy upon you, and you sought God and cried to him. Did God deny you? "No," you say, "blessed be his name, I can remember the happy day when he said 'your sins which are many are all forgiven.'" Well, you have often sinned since then. But let me ask you, when you have made confession of sin, have you not been restored? has he not lifted up upon you once more the light of his countenance? "Well," you say, "I must say he has." Then, I ask you in the name of everything that is true and holy, nay, in the name of everything that is reasonable, how dare you say that God has forsaken you now? Retract the word! Slay the thought! It cannot, must not be
"Each sweet Ebenezer you have in review, Confirms his good pleasure to help you quite through."
He would not have done this much for you, if he meant to leave you. Thus, it cannot be, that he who has been with you in six troubles will leave you in the seventh. He has not brought you through so many fires to let you be burned at last. Nay, take heart
"His grace shall to the end Stronger and brighter shine, Not present things, nor things to come, Shall quench the spark divine "
within thy heart; much less quench the fire even which still burns in his infinite breast. God hath not forsaken thee as yet. Still further to drive the thought away, I will very rapidly run through a few precious things. Were you not cold on your way hither this morning. Did you not see the snow upon the ground, and do you dare to doubt God? He hath said, "While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, summer and winter, cold and heat shall never cease;" and he keeps his word. And yet you think, though he keeps that word he will forget the word that he has spoken concerning you. You come here in trouble this morning. Do you not see that God is true? that your very trouble is a proof that he has not forsaken you? If you never had any trouble, then God would have broken his promise, for did not Jesus Christ leave you it as a legacy? "In the world ye shall have tribulation." There, you have got it. That proves that God is true. Now, you have a part of the legacy, you shall have the rest: "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." So that the very weather without, and your troubles within, ought to forbid your doubting the faithfulness of your God. But look here. Has not God made you a promise, saying, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee?" Would you like to be called a promise-breaker? Shall I point my finger at you, and say, "There's a man whose word is not to be relied on?" Will you point that same finger to God, and say, "His word is not to be taken, he is not to be trusted?" What! do you think your God is dishonorable? that he will give a promise and break it? not keep it? forget it? fail to remember it? What! God, the God of glory, prove dishonorable? It must not, cannot be. Recollect, again, he has given you his oath. Can you think that he will break that? Because he could swear by no greater he sware by himself. Shall God be perjured? You would not think that of your meanest fellow-creature; will you think that of your greatest and best friend? Again, would you leave your child? would you forsake it utterly? You might hide your face from it for awhile to do it good, because it had been disobedient. but will you chasten your child always? never kiss it, never caress it, never call it your loved one? It is not in a father's heart to be always angry with his child. And will God forsake you? Will he cast you out into this wide, desolate world and let you die and become the prey of his great enemy? Oh, think not so hardly of your Father. If any man should come to me, and tell me that my father had said such-and-such things about me unkind and disrespectful, I would show him the door, and say, "Get thee gone! my father would never do that: he loves me too much to do that." And when the devil comes and says, "Your Father has forgotten you," tell him to begone you know too much of your Father ever to believe that. Say to him, "Get thee gone! it cannot be; get thee gone, Satan! Tell it to thy own companions, but tell it not to the heir of heaven." Then again, Christian, Thou believest that God has loved thee from before the foundation of the world; and yet after having loved you so long he has left off loving you now. Strange thing! Love without a beginning, yet such love to have an end. Singular thing! Eternal at one end and temporal at the other. Strange supposition! Put it away from thee. Besides, again, can Christ forget thee! Art thou not a member of his body, of his flesh and his bones? Has the Head forgotten a finger? Has he, who did hang upon the tree and who wrote thy name in wounds upon his hand and on his side, has he forgotten? What! Jesus thy own brother, thy husband, thy head, thy all, what! he forget? he forsake? Down blaspheming thought! Back to the hell from which thou dost spring! Down! down! down! My soul lifts up her head triumphantly, and cries, "Thou Lord hast not forsaken them that seek thee," nor wilt thou do so, world without end. III. I now come to the third and last point, and on this I shall dwell very briefly MAN'S PRECIOUS PRIVILEGE TO SEEK GOD IN HIS DAY OF TROUBLE. To what use, to what purpose is the buckler if we wear it not? Of what service the shield if it be permitted to rust in the house? We must take hold upon the promise of a faithful God; we must seize the comfort which he offers; but how is it to be done? Why, in prayer. Seek ye the Lord ye tried and troubled ones, and ye shall soon find your troubles stayed, your trials sweetly alleviated. We go rambling round, and round, and round, to find peace. Would that we could stay at home in our closets with our God; we should find peace much better there. We go to our neighbors, we call our friends, we tell them our woes and ask their sympathy
"Were half the breath that's vainly spent, To heaven in supplication sent, Our cheerful song would oftener be, Hear what the Lord hath done for me."
Go Christian brother in your troubles and seek God. It is not possible that you can perish praying. If you could perish singing, you could not perish praying on your knees. Think ye that while you can plead a Father's love, and cry with the Spirit of adoption to him, that you can be forsaken? If you forsake the throne, then may you indeed have a fear that you are forsaken. But when the Spirit draws you to the mercy-seat, such a fear must vanish, for if thou art at the mercy-seat, God is there too. God loves the mercy-seat better than thou dost. He dwelleth between the cherubim; thou only goest there sometimes. But that is his abiding-place, his mercy-seat, where he always sits. Go thou, then, I tell thee, and thou canst not be destroyed; thy ruin is impossible, whilst thou dost cry, "Let us pray!" And have I here this morning some that are oppressed with guilt? Dear hearer, however great your sins may have been, if thou dost seek God, thou canst not perish, for "thou Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Methinks, I hear some one say, "Oh, that just suits me. I fear I have no faith; I am afraid I don't repent as I ought. But I know I seek Christ; I am sure I am seeking him." Ah! so then this promise is thine. Take it home with thee. Suck it; get at its juice. Here, indeed, is a cluster full of new wine for thee. Take it home with thee: "Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Seek, and ye shall find, knock, and the door shall surely be opened to you. May God now grant his blessing, for Jesu's sake. Amen.
Joy in Salvation
Published on Thursday, March 16th, 1916.
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
On Lord's-day Evening, July 30th, 1871.
"I will rejoice in thy salvation." Psalms 9:14 .
I DESIRE to continue the topic of the morning,* only we will look at another side of the same important matter.
We spoke this morning, as you have not forgotten, upon these words, "Your own salvation." I trust most of us would God I could hope all of us were earnest about our own personal salvation. To those who are earnest this second text will be the complement of the first. They desire that their own salvation shall be secure; it is their own salvation when they obtain it; but here is the guide as to what is the right salvation what our own salvation ought to be. It is not our own in another sense; it is God's. "I will rejoice in thy salvation." While it becomes our own by an act of faith, it is not our own so that we can claim any merit or take any part of the glorying to ourselves. The only salvation that is worth being our own is that which is God's. "I will rejoice in thy salvation." Having this morning somewhat at length explained what salvation is, showing that it was not a mere deliverance from wrath to come, but from the present wrath of God, and yet more essentially from sin, from the power of evil within us, there is no need that we should go over that again, I trust; but we shall begin by noticing the speciality which is in the text, dwelling upon the divine salvation. "I will rejoice in thy salvation." So, then, we look at once at:
I. A DIVINE SALVATION.
The salvation we have already spoken of is God's, and it is God's salvation in many ways. It was his in the planning. None but himself could have planned it. In his infinite wisdom he devised it. The salvation which is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, in the gospel is every part of it in all its architecture the fruit of divine skill. We may say, "Or with whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and who taught him knowledge?" In every part the divine hand may be seen; it is of God's planning and ordaining, or ever the earth was. So is it of God's providing. You have salvation wrapped up in the gift of the person of Jesus Christ. All of it lies in Christ. Because he died, our sin is put away. Because he lives, we shall live also. And Christ is the pure gift of God. All salvation is in him, and, therefore, all salvation is thus procured by God. It is God's salvation. And what is more, God not only plans and procures, but he also applies salvation. I believe in free agency, but I never yet met with a Christian man who was able to say that he came to Christ of his own free will without being drawn by the Spirit of God. Whatever our doctrinal view may be, the experimental fact is the same in every case. All believers will confess that they are God's workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus. "No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him." There is a want of power. "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." There is a want of will, and the Spirit of God, therefore, applies the salvation which God has planned, and which God has provided. And as the first application of this salvation is of God, so is it all the way through. I do not believe, dear brethren, that our religion is like the action of a clock wound up at first by a superior hand, and then left to go alone. No! every day the Holy Ghost must continue to work upon us, and in us, to will and to do according to God's good pleasure. And if you and I should ever get right up to the gate of pearl, and should hear the songs of the blessed within that gate, we should not be able to take the last step, but should turn back to our sin and folly even, if he that began a good work in us should cease to carry it on. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. "Salvation is of the Lord," from first to last. He makes the rough draft of it, in conviction, upon our conscience; he goes on to complete the picture; and if there be one touch in the picture that is not of God, it is a blot upon it. If there be anything of the flesh, it will have to be wiped out; it is not consistent with the work of God. Of God is it in all respects. Now we know that this salvation is of God, not only because we are told that he planned it, and provided it, and applies it, but because it has the marks of God upon it. There is a certain line of poetry; I know it is Shakespeare's. Well, you know, I cannot quite tell you why, but yet I am sure no one ever wrote exactly in that way. I am reading the Psalms through, and I read and I say, "That is David's." I observe certain critics who say, "No, this belongs to the time of the captivity." I am certain it does not. And why? Because there is a Davidic ring about it, you know. The son, of Jesse, and he alone, could have said such things. Now in salvation there are the marks of divine authorship. I once saw a painting by Titan at Venice, and he had written, "Fecit, fecit Titian." He claimed it twice over, as if to make sure that someone else should not claim it. And God has put it three times over that there should be no doubt whatever that salvation is of God, and he must have the glory of it. Now observe the marks of God what I may call the broad arrow of the King set on salvation. It is full of mercy. Here is salvation for the blackest of sinners salvation for all manner of sin forgiveness for all manner of sin salvation so full of grace that only God could have conceived it. "Who is a pardoning God like thee?" But this salvation is equally congenial with justice, for God never absolutely forgives a sin. There is always punishment for sin in every case. Jesus Christ, the Substitute, comes in and satisfies Justice before the word is spoken to the sinner, "Thy transgression is blotted out." In the salvation which God has provided on the cross by the death of his dear Son there is as much justice as there is mercy; and there is an infinity of both. Now this is God-like. Man, if he brings out one quality, usually clouds another with it; but God exhibits his character in harmonious completeness as merciful as if he were not just, and as just as if he were not gracious. In the gospel, on this account, five see also divine wisdom. Whatever some may say about the doctrine of substitution, Christ is still the power of God and the wisdom of God. The way, so simple, yet so sublime, by which God is just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth, exhibits the infinite wisdom of the Most High.
But I won't keep you by mentioning all the divine attributes. It is certain they all shine in the gospel, nor can any tell which of the letters best is writ the power, the wisdom, or the grace. They are all there, proving the salvation to be of God.
And there is one other matter. True salvation is of God because it draws toward God. If thou hast God's salvation, thou art being drawn towards thy heavenly Father, nearer and nearer every day. The ungodly forget God; the awakened seek God; but the saved rejoice in God. Ask thyself this question, Couldst thou live without God? The ungodly man would be happier without God than he is with. It would be the best piece of news in the newspaper to thousands, if we could publish it to-morrow, that God was dead. To ungodly men it would be like ringing the bells of universal Joy; they would run riot after their own will. And where would the believer be? He would be an orphan. His sun would be blotted out; his hopes would be dead and buried. Judge by this whether thou art saved. If thou art saved, thou art drawn to God, thou seekest to be like God, thou desirest to honour God. If there be none of these things in thee, then I charge thee see to it, for thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity. God have mercy upon thee! I need not further say that the salvation is of God, and God must have all the glory of it. All on earth who are saved, and all in heaven who are saved, will ascribe their salvation entirely to the ever blessed God, and join with Jonah, who in the very depths of the sea made this, his confession of faith, "Salvation is of the Lord." But now, secondly, our text (having noticed the divine salvation in it) has:
II. AN OUTSPOKEN AVOWAL.
"I will rejoice in thy salvation." Here is someone springing out from the common crowd and saying, "I have heard of God's salvation; I will rejoice in it! I will rejoice in it! Some despise it. They hear it, and they turn a deaf ear. When they have listened to it longest, they are most weary of it. But I will rejoice in thy salvation." Here is a distinguished character, who is made so, doubtless, by distinguishing grace. Oh! I hope there are many of us here who could stand up and say if this were the time and place "Let others say what they will, and count the cross a thing to mock at, and Jesus Christ to be forgotten, I am his servant; I will rejoice in his salvation." There are some that rest in another salvation. We all did so once. But he who speaks in the text throws aside self-righteousness as filthy rags. He puts it all aside, and says, "I will rejoice in thy salvation." If I were righteous, I would not say so. Had I a perfect holiness, I would not mention it in comparison with the righteousness of Christ; but being an unworthy sinner, without a single merit of my own, I will not be so foolish as to patch up a fictitious righteousness, but I will rejoice in thy salvation. You see them there! those worshippers of the scarlet woman they are resting in their priest! He puts on millinery, blue, pink, scarlet, white, and I know not what all kinds of little toys to please fools with. And there be some that rejoice in that salvation that comes from an "infallible" sinner that comes from a sham priest of God. But we are looking to Christ, who stands before the eternal throne and pleads the merits of his own blood. We say:
"Let all the forms that men devise
Assault our faith with treacherous art,
We'll Can them vanity and lies
And bind the gospel to our heart."
"I will rejoice in thy salvation." There may be some tonight to whom I shall speak who are rejoicing in God's salvation through his abundant grace who have very little else to rejoice in. You are very poor. Ah! how welcome you are to this house! How glad I am that you have come. I feel it always a joy that the people have the gospel preached to them. Well, you have no broad acres, you have no gold rings on your fingers; you come in the garb of toil. Never mind, my brother, lay hold on eternal life and say, "I will rejoice in thy salvation." Perhaps you are sick to-night your poor weak body could scarcely drag itself up to the assembly of God's people. Well, well, it is a heavy thing to have to suffer so, but if you cannot rejoice in a hale body, yet rejoice in his salvation. Look to-night to Jesus; put your trust in him alone, and you will have a sufficient well-spring of joy, if you have nothing else. Possibly some of you who lay hold on Christ and rejoice in him will have hard times of it at home your father will mock at you, your mother will not sympathise with you; your workmates to-morrow, if they hear that you are converted, will laugh, and jest, and jeer at you. What say you? Are you a coward? Will you back out of it because it demands a sacrifice? Oh! if it be so, then you are indeed unworthy of the name, and you count yourself so; but if you are what you should be, you will say, "Let them; laugh at me as they will, and spit upon me as they please, I will rejoice in thy salvation."
"If on my face for thy dear name,
Shame and reproach may be;
I'll hail reproach and welcome shame,
For thou'lt remember me."
It takes some pluck, but we ought to have it in the cause of Christ. Your mean, miserable wretches that will only go out to follow Christ in sunny weather, and get them gone again when a cloud darkens the sky, deserve well the wrath that comes upon them. They are like the Nautilus, very well on the placid sea, but the first billow that arises they furl their sails and drop into the deep, and are seen no more. Oh! beware, beware, beware of a sunny-weather religion; beware of a religion that will not stand the fire; but be you such that, if all the world forsook Christ, you would say, "I will rejoice in his salvation"; and if you were turned out of doors, if you were turned out of the world itself, and thought not fit, to live, you would yet be content to have it so, if you might be numbered with the people of God, and be permitted to rejoice in his salvation. Does this, as I try to speak it, awaken a holy emotion in any soul here? Is there someone who has been a stranger to my Lord who to-night can say, "I desire to rejoice in his salvation"? I cannot forget, when I sat as a young lad under the gallery of a little place of worship, hearing the gospel simply preached the blessed moment when I was led to resolve to follow Christ. I have never been ashamed of having done so. I have never had to regret it. He is a blessed Master. He has handled me roughly lately, but he is a blessed Master. I would follow at his heels if only like a dog, for it is better to be his dog than to be the devil's darling. He is a blessed Master. Let him say what he will, and do what he will. Oh! is there no young man here, no youth, no child, no girl; is there no gray-headed one who will say, "I will rejoice in thy salvation" O eternal Spirit, come and touch some heart, and make this, their spiritual birthright, that they may say, "I I I will rejoice in thy salvation."
But we must pass on, for time presses. We have, in the third place, to consider in the text:
III. A DELIGHTFUL EMOTION.
We have noticed the divine salvation, and the outspoken avowal; now we will notice the delightful emotion. "I will rejoice in thy salvation." It is an unfortunate thing that Christianity gets associated with melancholy. I will not forbid the banns, for they are not very near of kin, but I wish they were further apart every day. It is a good thing for the melancholy to become a Christian; it is an unfortunate thing for the Christian to become melancholy. If there is any man in the world that has a right to have a bright, clear face and a flashing eye, it is the man whose sins are forgiven him, and who is saved with God's salvation. In order for any man, however, to rejoice in God's salvation, he must, first of all, know it. There must be an intelligent apprehension of what it is. Next, he must grasp it by an act of faith as his own. Then, having grasped it, he must study it to know the price at which it was bought, and all the qualities the divine qualities that follow from it. Then he must hold it fast, and seek to get out the sweetness from it. What is there in God's salvation that should make us rejoice? I do not know what to select, for it is all joy and all rejoicing. It is enough to make our heart to ring with joy to think that there should be a salvation at all for such poor souls as we are. We may well hang out all the streamers of our spirits, and strew the streets of our soul with flowers, for King Jesus has come to dwell there. Ring every bell; give him a glorious welcome. Let all the soul be glad when Jesus enters and brings salvation with him, for the salvation of Christ is so suitable that we may well rejoice in it. Dear brother, if you are saved, I know the salvation of Christ suited you. It did me exactly it was made on purpose for me. I am as sure of it as if there were no other sinner to be saved. It was the gospel that brought power to the weak, nay, it brought life to the dead; it brought everything to those that had nothing; it is just the sort of gospel for a penniless, bankrupt sinner like myself. We rejoice in the suitability of the gospel; we rejoice in the freeness of it. We have nothing to pay; we have no price to pay, neither of promise, nor of anything that was our own. Salvation was freely given to us in Christ Jesus. Let us rejoice in it, then. Oh! rejoice in the richness of that salvation. When the Lord pardoned our sins, he did not pardon half of them, and leave some of them on the book, but with one stroke of the pen he gave a full receipt for all our debts. When we went down into the fountain filled with blood, and washed, we did not come up half-clean, but there was no spot nor wrinkle upon us we were white as driven snow. Glory be to God for such a rich salvation as this. And he did not in that day save us with a perhaps and a chance salvation that set us on a rock, and say, "Keep yourself there you must depend upon yourselves", but this was the covenant he made with us, "A new heart also will I give thee, and a right spirit will I put within thee." It was a complete salvation, which would not permit a failure. The salvation, which is given to the soul that believes is on this wise, "I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." "The water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life." I believe the perseverance of the saints to be the very gem of the gospel. I could not hold the truth of Scripture if this could be disproved to me, for every page seems to have this upon it, if nothing else, that "the righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger." In this my soul rejoices, that I have a salvation to preach to you which, if you receive it, will effectually save you if your hearts are given to Christ, and will keep you, and preserve you, and bring you into the eternal kingdom of his glory. I will rejoice in the certain and abiding character of that salvation. Oh! there is enough in the salvation of Christ to make heaven full of bliss; there is enough to make us full of praise. Let us take up the theme; let us talk by the way to one another about it; let us talk to sinners about it; let us recommend religion by our cheerfulness. Levity be far from us, but happiness let it be the happiest sphere in which we live if we have little else to rejoice in, we have enough here. Whatever may be our condition or prospects, we may still rejoice in God's salvation, and let us not fail to be filled with this most blissful emotion.
And now I must close. The text has in it a word of the future which we must not quite overlook. Here is a joyful gospel, "I will rejoice in thy salvation." You may read it if you like, "I shall" "I shall" or "I will" it would be quite right. The Hebrew has no present. It seems to have given up all tenses like God himself who was, and is, and is to come. I shall rejoice in thy salvation. Now here is:
IV. A BLESSED PROSPECT.
You may live to grow old; well, we shall never grow weary of Christ. If we are his people, we shall never have any cause to part from him; "I will rejoice in thy salvation." I could bring up to this platform an aged brother whom all of you would know, who has infirmities and has age creeping upon him, but there is not a happier soul in this house than he; and when I had made him speak to you, I could bring you many more aged women too, and I would ask them what they think of Christ, and I am sure they would say with greater emphasis than I can, "I will rejoice in thy salvation." I almost wish my grandfather were alive and behind me to-night, for on one occasion I preached with him in the pulpit, and when I came to speak of experience he pulled my coat-tail and came to the front, and said,"My grandson can tell you that he believes it, but I can tell you experimentally," and on the old gentleman went with it. Well, many an aged Christian can tell you he has rejoiced in God's salvation. He does rejoice, and, instead of age making the joy of his youth to become dim, it has mellowed and sweetened the fruit, which was sweet even at the first. Oh! that we may, when these hairs grow hoar with years, and the snows of many winters lie white upon our head, may we still rejoice in God's salvation. But then, whether we reach old age or not, there is one thing that is certain we shall assuredly die, and when we come to die, what shall we do? I know what you are thinking of. You say, "I should groan." Ay, sinner, you are thinking of the friend that is wiping away the clammy sweat from the brow and those closed eyes. Now those may never occur. We often hear them mentioned in reference to dying beds, but they are not so constantly there as to be, necessary. And if they were there' if we did lose sight itself before life fails what then? Why, the vision of the Christ, who is our salvation, and in whom we rejoice, shall then be more gloriously clear and radiantly beautiful, because the sights and sounds of earth have vanished from us.
Now, instead of looking at these outward parts of dying, think of this, "I will rejoice in thy salvation." When I parted from our dear brother, Cook, a few days ago, he could not say much. He was very, very weak, but what he did say was just this, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus is all." Well, I talked, and read, and prayed, and so on, and when we had done, he simply said, "The blood the blood, the blood that is all my hope." Why, he looked as calm in prospect of dying as any of you do in sitting here, and was as delighted with the hope of being where Jesus is as ever bride was at the coming of the marriage day. It was delightful to see the blessed calm and peace that was upon that man of God. And when I come to die, whoever I may be, however little my standing in the Church of God is, if I am in Christ, I will rejoice in his salvation; I will make the dark valley ring with his praises; I will make the river of death itself to roll back as the Red Sea did of old, with my triumphant songs; I will enter heaven with this upon my heart and upon my lip,'I will rejoice in thy salvation! Worthy is the Lamb that was stain to receive honour, and power, and dominion, and glory for ever and ever!" And, brethren, if that is what we may do in dying, this is what we shall do for ever and ever, "I will rejoice in thy salvation." Millions of ages, throughout all the cycles of years that interpose ere Christ delivers up the kingdom to God, even the Father, and then onward, even through eternity, this always shall be our own ground of rejoicing, "I will rejoice in thy salvation."
Now I cannot come and stand at the door and speak to everyone as the congregation withdraws, but if it were possible I should like to stand there and shake the hand of everyone that has been in the house to-night, and say, "Well, friend, how fares it with you?" Can you say, 'I will rejoice in thy salvation?" If I cannot do that, I wish it were possible to speak in the silent shades of night to you when you awoke, so that you might hear a voice ringing in your ears, "Do you rejoice in God's salvation?" Perhaps some of you may have come a long distance across the sea. You may be by-and-by on shipboard again. It may be that you will be in peril, or it may be that afterwards you shall be in sickness. Well, may this evening's congregation in this day of July rise up before your minds, and if you forget the preacher (and that will not matter), yet if you hear a voice that says, "Can you rejoice in God's salvation?" I hope that, even if it is twenty years to come, it may then be as the voice of God to your soul, and bring you to the Saviour. But better far would it be if you would come to him tonight and you may. May the Spirit of God bring you! Whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ hath everlasting life. The whole of the gospel is wrapped up in Christ's message, which he has sent by his apostles, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." To you each this this is the word, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." God add his own blessing, for Christ's sake. Amen.
*"Your Own Salvation," Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1,003.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 9". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany