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Heavenly Worship A Sermon
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 28th, 1856, by the REV. C. H. Spurgeon at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps; And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth." Revelation 14:1-3 .
THE SCENE of this marvellous and magnificent vision is laid upon Mount Sion; by which we are to understand, not Mount Sion upon earth, but Mount Sion which is above, "Jerusalem, the mother of us all." To the Hebrew mind Mount Sion was a type of heaven, and very justly so. Among all the mountains of the earth none was to be found so famous as Sion. It was there that patriarch Abraham drew his knife to slay his son; it was there, too, in commemoration of that great triumph of faith, Solomon built a majestic temple, "beautiful for situation and the joy of the whole earth." That Mount Sion was the centre of all the devotions of the Jews.
"Up to her courts, with joys unknown, The sacred tribes repaired."
Between the wings of the cherubim Jehovah dwelt; on the one altar there all the sacrifices were offered to high heaven. They loved Mount Sion, and often did they sing, when they drew nigh to her, in their annual pilgrimages, "How amiable are thy tabernacles O Lord God of hosts, my King and my God!" Sion is now desolate; she hath been ravished by the enemy; she hath been utterly destroyed; her vail hath been rent asunder, and the virgin daughter of Sion is now sitting in sackcloth and ashes; but, nevertheless, to the Jewish mind it must ever, in its ancient state, remain the best and sweetest type of heaven. John, therefore, when he saw this sight might have said, "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood in heaven, and with him an hundred and forty and four thousand having his Father's name written in their foreheads: And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth." I. In the first place, then, we wish to take a view of THE OBJECT OF HEAVENLY WORSHIP. The divine John was privileged to look within the gates of pearl; and on turning round to tell us what he saw observe how he begins he saith not, "I saw streets of gold or walls of Jasper;" he saith not, "I saw crowns, marked their lustre, and saw the wearers." That he shall notice afterwards. But he begins by saying, "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!" To teach us that the very first and chief object of attraction in the heavenly state is "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." Nothing else attracted the Apostle's attention so much as the person of that Divine Being, who is the Lord God, our most blessed Redeemer: "I looked, and, lo a Lamb!" Beloved, if we were allowed to look within the vail which parts us from the world of spirits, we should see, first of all, the person of our Lord Jesus. If now we could go where the immortal spirits "day without night circle the throne rejoicing," we should see each of them with their faces turned in one direction; and if we should step up to one of the blessed spirits, and say, "O bright immortal, why are thine eyes fixed? What is it that absorbs thee quite, and wraps thee up in vision?" He, without deigning to give an answer, would simply point to the centre of the sacred circle, and lo, we should see a Lamb in the midst of the throne. They have not yet ceased to admire his beauty, and marvel at his wonders and adore his person.
"Amidst a thousand harps and songs, Jesus, our God, exalted reigns."
He is the theme of song and the subject of observation of all the glorified spirits and of all the angels in paradise. "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!" And now observe the figure under which Christ is represented in heaven . "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb." Now, you know Jesus, in Scripture, is often represented as a lion: he is so to his enemies, for he devoureth them, and teareth them to pieces. "Beware, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." But in heaven he is in the midst of his friends, and therefore he
Looks like a lamb that has been slain, And wears his priesthood still."
Why should Christ in heaven choose to appear under the figure of a lamb, and not in some other of his glorious characters? We reply, because it was as a lamb that Jesus fought and conquered, and, therefore as a lamb he appears in heaven. I have read of certain military commanders, when they were conquerors, that on the anniversary of their victory they would never wear anything but the garment in which they fought. On that memorable day they say, "Nay, take away the robes; I will wear the garment which has been embroidered with the sabre-cut, and garnished with the shot that hath riddled it; I will wear no other garb but that in which I fought and conquered." It seems as if the same feeling possessed the breast of Christ. "As a Lamb," saith he, "I died, and worsted hell; as a Lamb I have redeemed my people, and therefore as a Lamb I will appear in paradise." And you will further notice that this Lamb is said to stand . Standing is the posture of triumph. The Father said to Christ, "Sit thou on my throne, till I make thine enemies thy footstool." It is done; they are his footstool, and here he is said to stand erect, like a victor over all his enemies. Many a time the Saviour knelt in prayer; once he hung upon the cross; but when the great scene of our text shall be fully wrought out, he shall stand erect, as more than conqueror, through his own majestic might. "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion." Oh, if we could rend the veil if now we were privileged to see within it there is no sight would so enthrall us as the simple sight of the Lamb in the midst of the throne. My dear brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus, would it not be all the sight you would ever wish to see, if you could once behold him whom your soul loveth? Would it not be a heaven to you, if it were carried out in your experience "Mine eye shall see him, and not another's?" Would you want anything else to make you happy but continually to see him? Can you not say with the poet
"Millions of years my wondering eyes Shall o'er my Saviour's beauty rove, And endless ages I'll adore The wonders of his love?"
And if a single glimpse of him on earth affords you profound delight; it must be, indeed, a very sea of bliss, and an abyss of paradise, without a bottom or a shore, to see him as he is; to be lost in his splendours, as the stars are lost in the sunlight, and to hold fellowship with him, as did John the beloved, when he leaned his head upon his bosom. And this shall be thy lot, to see the Lamb in the midst of the throne. But notice, whilst the number is very large, how very certain it is . By turning over the leaves of your Bible to a previous chapter of this book, you will see that at the 4th verse it is written, that one hundred and forty-four thousand were sealed; and now we find there are one hundred and forty-four thousand saved; not 143,999, and 144,001, but exactly the number that are sealed. Now, my friends may not like what I am going to say; but if they do not like it, their quarrel is with God's Bible, not with me. There will be just as many in heaven as are sealed by God just as many as Christ did purchase with his blood; all of them, and no more and no less. There will be just as many there as were quickened to life by the Holy Spirit, and were, "born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." "Ah," some say, "there is that abominable doctrine of election." Exactly so, if it be abominable; but you will never be able to cut it out of the Bible. You may hate it, and gnash and grind your teeth against it; but, remember, we can trace the pedigree of this doctrine, even apart from Scripture, to the time of the apostles. Church of England ministers and members, you have no right to differ from me on the doctrine of election, if you are what you profess by your own Articles. You who love the old Puritans, you have no right to quarrel with me; for where will you find a Puritan who was not a strong Calvinist? You who love the fathers, you cannot differ from me. What say you of Augustine? Was he not, in his day, called a great and mighty teacher of grace? And I even turn to Roman Catholics, and, with all the errors of their system, I remind them that even in their body have been found those who have held that doctrine, and, though long persecuted for it, have never been expelled the church. I refer to the Jansenists. But, above all, I challenge every man who reads his Bible to say that that doctrine is not there. What saith the 9th of Romans? "The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth: It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger." And then it goes on to say to the carping objector "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?" But enough on this subject. But why should it keep any one from going to Christ? "Because," says one, "if I go to Christ I may not be elect." No, sir, if you go, you prove that you are elect. "But," says another, "I am afraid to go, in case I should not be elect." Say as an old woman once said, "If there were only three persons elected, I would try to be one of them; and since he said, 'He that believeth shall be saved,' I would challenge God on his promise, and try if he would break it." No, come to Christ; and if you do so, beyond a doubt you are God's elect from the foundation of the world; and therefore this grace has been given to you. But why should it discourage you? Suppose there are a number of sick folk here, and a large hospital has been built. There is put up over the door, "All persons who come shall be taken in:" at the same time it is known that there is a person inside the hospital, who is so wise that he knows all who will come, and has written down the names of all who will come in a book, so that, when they come, those who open the doors will only say, "How marvellously wise our Master was, to know the names of those who would come." Is there anything despiriting in that? You would go, and you would have all the more confidence in that man's wisdom, because he was able to know before that they were going. "Ah, but," you say, "it was ordained that some should come." Well, to give you another illustration; suppose there is a rule that there always must be a thousand persons, or a very large number in the hospital. You say, "When I go perhaps they will take me in, and perhaps they will not." "But," says someone, "there is a rule that there must be a thousand in: somehow or other they must make up that number of beds, and have that number of patients in the hospital." You say, 'Then why should not I be among the thousand; and have not I the encouragement that whosoever goes shall not be cast out? And have I not again the encouragement, that if they will not go, they must be fetched in somehow or other; for the number must be made up; so it is determined and so it is decreed." You would therefore have a double encouragement, instead of half a one; and you would go with confidence, and say, "They must take me in, because they say they will take all in that come; and on the other hand, they must take me in, because they must have a certain number: that number is not made up, and why should not I be one?" Oh, never doubt about election; believe in Christ, and then rejoice in election; do not fret about it till you have believed in Christ. One more remark here, and we will turn from the worshippers to listen to their song. It is said of all these worshippers that they learned the song before they went there. At the end of the third verse it is said, "No man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth." Brethren, we must begin heaven's song here below, or else we shall never sing it above. The choristers of heaven have all had rehearsals upon earth, before they sing in that orchestra. You think that, die when you may, you will go to heaven, without being prepared. Nay, sir; heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and unless you are "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," you can never stand there among them. If you were in heaven without a new heart and a right spirit, you would be glad enough to get out of it; for heaven, unless a man is heavenly himself, would be worse than hell. A man who is unrenewed and unregenerate going to heaven would be miserable there. There would be a song he could not join in it; there would be a constant hallelujah, but he would not know a note: and besides, he would be in the presence of the Almighty, even in the presence of the God he hates, and how could he be happy there? No, sirs; ye must learn the song of paradise here, or else ye can never sing it. Ye must learn to sing
"Jesus, I love thy charming name, 'Tis music to my ears."
You must learn to feel that "sweeter sounds than music knows mingle in your Saviour's name," or else you can never chaunt the hallelujahs of the blest before the throne of the great "I AM." Take that thought, whatever else you forget; treasure it up in your memory, and ask grace of God that you may here be taught to sing the heavenly song, that afterwards in the land of the hereafter, in the home of the beautified, you may continually chaunt the high praises of him that loved you. First, then, singing how loud ! It is said to be "like the voice of many waters." Have you never heard the sea roar, and the fulness thereof? Have you never walked by the sea-side, when the waves were singing, and when every little pebble-stone did turn chorister, to make up music to the Lord God of hosts? And have you never in time of storm beheld the sea, with its hundred hands, clapping them in gladsome adoration of the Most High? Have you never heard the sea roar out his praise, when the winds were holding carnival perhaps singing the dirge of mariners, wrecked far out on the stormy deep, but far more likely exalting God with their hoarse voice, and praising him who makes a thousand fleets sweep over them in safety, and writes his furrows on their own youthful brow? Have you never heard the rumbling and booming of ocean on the shore, when it has been lashed into fury and has been driven upon the cliffs? If you have, you have a faint idea of the melody of heaven. It was "as the voice of many waters." But do not suppose that it is the whole of the idea. It is not the voice of one ocean, but the voice of many, that is needed to give you an idea of the melodies of heaven. You are to suppose ocean piled upon ocean, sea upon sea, the Pacific piled upon the Atlantic, the Arctic upon that, the Antarctic higher still, and so ocean upon ocean, all lashed to fury, and all sounding with a mighty voice the praise of God. Such is the singing of heaven. Or if the illustration, fails to strike, take another. We have mentioned here two or three times the mighty falls of Niagara. They can be heard at a tremendous distance, so awful is their sound. Now, suppose waterfalls dashing upon waterfalls, cataracts upon cataracts, Niagaras upon Niagaras, each of them sounding forth their mighty voices, and you have got some idea of the singing of paradise. "I heard a voice like the voice of many waters." Can you not hear it? Ah! if our ears were opened we might almost cast the song. I have thought sometimes that the voice of the Aeolian harp, when it has swollen out grandly, was almost like an echo of the songs of those who sing before the throne; and on the summer eve, when the wind has come in gentle zephyrs through the forest, you might almost think it was the floating of some stray notes that had lost their way among the harps of heaven, and come down to us, to give us some faint foretaste of that song which hymns out in mighty peals before the throne of the Most High. But why so loud? The answer is, because there are so many there to sing. Nothing is more grand than the singing of multitudes. Many have been the persons who have told me that they could but weep when they heard you sing in this assembly, so mighty seemed the sound when all the people sang
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
And, indeed, there is something very grand in the singing of multitudes. I remember hearing 12,000 sing on one occasion in the open air. Some of our friends were then present, when we concluded our service with that glorious hallelujah. Have you ever forgotten it? It was indeed a mighty sound; it seemed to make heaven itself ring again. Think, then, what must be the voice of those who stand on the boundless plains of heaven, and with all their might shout, "Glory and honour and power and dominion unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever." But note next, while it was a loud voice, how sweet it was. Noise is not music. There may be "a voice like many waters." and yet no music. It was sweet as well as loud; for John says, "I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps." Perhaps the sweetest of all instruments is the harp. There are others which give forth sounds more grand and noble, but the harp is the sweetest of all instruments. I have sometimes sat to hear a skilful harper, till I could say, "I could sit and hear myself away," whilst with skilful fingers he touched the chords gently, and brought forth strains of melody which flowed like liquid silver, or like sounding honey into one's soul. Sweet, sweet beyond sweetness; words can scarcely tell how sweet the melody. Such is the music of heaven. No jarring notes there, no discord, but all one glorious harmonious song. You will not be there, formalist, to spoil the tune; nor you, hypocrite, to mar the melody; there will be all those there whose hearts are right with God, and therefore the strain will be one great harmonious whole, without a discord. Truly do we sing
"No groans to mingle with the songs That warble from immortal tongues."
And there will be no discord of any other sort to spoil the melody of those before the throne. Oh! my beloved brethren, that we might be there! Lift us up, ye cherubs! Stretch your wings, and bear us up where the sonnets fill the air. But if ye must not, let us wait our time.
"A few more rolling suns at most, Will land us on fair Canaan's coast;"
and then we shall help to make the song, which now we can scarcely conceive, but which yet we desire to join. FPRIVATE "TYPE=PICT;ALT= "IV. We now close with a remark upon the last point: WHY IS THE SONG SAID TO BE A NEW SONG? But one remark here. It will be a new song, because the saints were never in such a position before as they will be when they sing this new song. They are in heaven now; but the scene of our text is something more than heaven. It refers to the time when all the chosen race shall meet around the throne, when the last battle shall have been fought, and the last warrior shall have gained his crown. It is not now that they are thus singing, but it is in the glorious time to come, when all the hundred and forty and four thousand or rather, the number typified by that number will be all safely housed and all secure. I can conceive the period. Time was eternity now reigns. The voice of God exclaims, "Are my beloved all safe?" The angel flies through paradise and returns with this message, "Yea, they are." "Is Fearful safe? Is Feeble-mind safe? Is Ready-to-Halt safe? Is Despondency safe?" "Yes, O king, they are," says he. "Shut-to the gates," says the Almighty, "they have been open night and day; shut them to now." Then, when all of them shall be there, then will be the time when the shout shall be louder than many waters, and the song shall begin which will never end. There is a story told in the history of brave Oliver Cromwell, which I use here to illustrate this new song. Cromwell and his Ironsides before they went to battle bowed the knee in prayer, and asked for God's help. Then, with their Bibles in their breasts, and their swords in their hands a strange and unjustifiable mixture, but which their ignorance must excuse they cried, "The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge;" and rushing to battle they sang
"O Lord our God, arise and let Thine enemies scattered be, And let all those that do thee hate Before thy presence flee.
They had to fight up hill for a long time, but at last the enemy fled. The Ironsides were about to pursue them and win the booty, when the stern harsh voice of Cromwell was heard "Halt! halt! now the victory is won, before you rush to the spoil return thanks to God;" and they sang some such song as this "Sing unto the Lord, for he has gotten us the victory! Sing unto the Lord." It was said to have been one of the most majestic sights in that strange, yet good man's history. (I say that word without blushing, for good he was.) For a time the hills seemed to leap, whilst the vast multitude, turning from the slain, still stained with blood, lifted up their hearts to God. We say, again, it was a strange sight, yet a glad one. But how great shall be that sight, when Christ shall be seen as a conqueror, and when all his warriors, fighting side by side with him, shall see the dragon beaten in pieces beneath their feet. Lo, their enemies are fled; they were driven like thin clouds before a Biscay gale. They are all gone, death is vanquished, Satan is cast into the lake of fire, and here stands the King himself, crowned with many crowns, the victor of the victors. And in the moment of exaltation the Redeemer will say, "Come let us sing unto the Lord;" and then, louder than the shout of many waters, they shall sing, "Hallelujah! the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." Ah! that will be the full carrying out of the great scene! My feeble words cannot depict it. I send you away with this simple question, "Shall you be there to see the conqueror crowned?" Have you "a good hope through grace" that you shall? If so, be glad; if not, go to your houses, fall on your knees, and pray to God to save you from that terrible place which must certainly be your portion, instead of that great heaven of which I preach, unless you turn to God with full purpose of heart.
The Lamb Our Leader
March 7, 1886 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Revelation 14:4 .
You, dear friends, who belong to the Tabernacle, are well acquainted with our venerable friend, George Rogers. It was a great joy to me to find him alive when I came home from the Continent; he said that he must keep on living till he had seen me once more, and then he hoped that he should go home. That was a month ago, but yesterday I saw him again, and he seemed to be greatly revived and refreshed. He has attained an extremely advanced age, and it is only natural that he should soon go to his rest and reward. He remarked to me, yesterday, that he had bidden farewell to the world entirely, and he did not wish to renew the acquaintance; he did not know why he should linger here any longer, for everything was finished, and he was ready to depart; and then he said to me, in his cheery way, "I wonder whether I shall see that new Baptist Chapel completed." You know that he is not a Baptist, but a Congregationalist; yet he has been with us so many years that we always claim him. He added, "When it is built, I hope they will send a regular old-fashioned Baptist to preach in it." I asked him, "What sort of old-fashioned Baptist do you mean?" "Why," he replied, "the oldest-fashioned Baptist was the man that cried, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' That is the old-fashioned sort of Baptist I mean, John the Baptist; and that is the sort I hope will come there." "Yes," I said, "and I wish that was the sort of preacher who would go everywhere, for that is the truth which still needs to be preached." "Ah, yes!" said Mr. Rogers, "there is nothing like the doctrine of the atoning sacrifice, it is the doctrine for this world, and it is the doctrine for the next." "Do you not think," said he, "that this passage would make you a good text for to-morrow, 'These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth'?" "Yes," I answered, "that will make me a good text; may God send me the sermon!" That is why I have taken this text; it really comes to you from that venerable man who is so far advanced in years, and so close to the border of the eternal state. He feels that the old-fashioned Baptist doctrine that ought to be continually preached is this, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," and that the best character that can be ascribed to Christians in any age is this, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Upon that theme I am going now to speak to you as the Holy Spirit shall enable me. I. And, first, I would make this observation, that THIS IS CHARACTERISTIC OF SAINTS: "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth."
This has always been the way of the saints; this is the way the holy prophets went, the way of the martyrs, the way of the reformers and confessors, the way of all who shall meet above around the throne of God and of the Lamb. Begin at the beginning. When do you see Abel at his best? It is when he brings of the firstlings of his flock, and stands beside the altar of sacrifice whereon lies the God-accepted lamb? The first of the martyrs is a martyr to the doctrine of sacrifice by blood; he, being dead, yet speaketh, bearing his testimony that there is no way of access to God except by the sacrifice of a lamb. Pass on to Abraham. What is one of the most memorable sayings of the father of the faithful? "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." Did not Abraham then, by faith, see Christ's day? Yea, he saw it afar off, and was glad; he knew that the great Jehovah-jireh would provide a wondrous Substitute, who would die in the place of his people, even as the ram took the place of Isaac; and Abraham saw in his own offering of his eon whom he so dearly loved, a faint image of that greater offering of the Eternal Father when he should give his only-begotten and well-beloved Son to die that his people might live. Again I say that it is always characteristic of God's people that they follow the Lamb, for look at Israel in Egypt. They are slaves at the brick kilns, they are building treasure cities and pyramids, but they cannot stir out of Egypt till first of all they have slain and eaten the paschal lamb, and sprinkled his blood upon their dwelling-places. Then they go out singing the song of Hoses the servant of God and of the Lamb. All through their marching in the wilderness, there was the offering of the morning lamb and the evening lamb. The people of God were known by their trust in a great sacrifice, that sacrifice being prefigured by "the blood of bulls and of goats, and the sprinkling of the ashes of an heifer," and especially by the passover lamb and the morning and the evening lamb. I do not know any clearer characteristic of the saints throughout the ages that are past than this, "These are they which follow the Lamb." Think of the prophet Isaiah, and as you remember him, and his prophecy, does not the thought of the Lamb of God rise up to your mind at once? "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." Then, when the new saints come into the world in the brighter day, the clearer dispensation of the gospel, does not John the Baptist point all who hear him to the Lamb of God? That morning star of the Christian solar system throws its bright beams upon Jesus the one great sacrifice. John cried, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," and that other John, who heard him speak, started following the Lamb, and all through his life he kept close company with that blessed Lamb of God till, in his extreme old age, in the island of Patmos, he saw visions of God, and wrote that wonderful Book of the Revelation out of which we were reading just now; and one of the noteworthy points in that Book is that John continually speaks of the Lord Jesus as the Lamb. The one sacrifice has been offered, the redemption price has been fully paid, the sins of the redeemed have been all put away, and now one might have thought that the Lord Jesus would assume some other form, for instance, that the Lion of the tribe of Judah would always be predominant in the apocalyptic vision, yet it is not so. John says, "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion." Sacrifice is ever first, first before the angels, first before the elders who represent the Church, first in the very center of the throne of God himself, for it is the throne of God, and of him who offered himself as the sacrifice, that is, the Lamb. This, then, is the emblem on the escutcheon of the church triumphant as well as the church militant, "a lamb as it had been slain." For the wilderness and for Canaan, for the battle-field and for the palace, for the cross and for the throne, it is ever the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, and that liveth again, and liveth to die no more. God forbid that this matchless figure should ever be dim to our eyes, but may we gaze upon it with ever-increasing delight! Saints in all ages have followed the Lamb, and I do not wonder that they have done so, for it was the Lamb that made them saints. They have "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Sainthood begins at Calvary. There is no possibility of being holy till first there has been remission of sin; and there is no remission of sin without the shedding of the blood of the Lamb. No, dear friends, we have no hope of being clean in God's eyes unless we have been washed, and there is no fountain of cleansing for the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but that which was opened when Christ hung on the cross. Well may they follow Christ who have been made saints by him. They follow the Lamb, again, because it is he who keeps them saints. "He keepeth the feet of his saints." If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, and so have fellowship one with another, it is still "the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son," which "cleanseth us from all sin." We need perpetual cleansing, and we get that perpetual cleansing in the ever-flowing stream from the wounds of Christ which, in effect, perpetually do bleed for those who put their trust in him. Well may the saints follow the Lamb, for to him they owe, not only the beginning, but the continuance of their spiritual life and saintship. And, brothers and sisters, what other leader could they follow? What model, except Christ, is there for a saint to copy? How can we attain to holiness if we work not after this pattern? Where shall any manhood be seen as fit for imitation, except where it is linked with the Godhead, in the Divine Son of God? Where shall we see the law written out in living characters, but in the life of this glorious Man, this blessed Son of God? Beloved, it is not possible for saints, in all respects, to follow any other leader, and it is characteristic of them that they follow the Lamb. Ask yourselves, my dear hearers, whether you are among these followers of the Lamb. II. The second part of our subject shows us that THIS EXPRESSION IS INSTRUCTIVE TO THOSE WHO DESIRE TO BE SAINTS.
Those of us who have already the commencement of sanctification, should remember that we can only be saints in the fullest sense by following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. First, then, we are to follow the Lamb. Some men spurn the idea of following anybody; they have very capacious brains, and they like to think and to excogitate. They will have nothing but what is beaten out on their own anvils. To accept the Word of God as a little child receives it, is altogether beneath their dignity. They think that the Word of God itself is mistaken when it says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." They fancy that their thoughts are even a little higher than the thoughts of God. They are followers of nobody, they are leaders; or, at any rate, they are "self-contained." They have their own revelation, and each man of them is a god to himself. Very well, you may stand there by yourselves, you learned people; you may have your degrees, M.A., D.D., or whatever else you like, for you are those who follow nobody; but of the true people of God, it is written, "These are they which follow the Lamb." These are not they who follow their own leading, striking out a path of their own; these are not the great eccentrics, or the wonderful originals; but these are they which follow, they are content to be merely followers; they do not aspire to be anything more than followers, but they are glad, however, to add that they are followers of the Lamb: "These are they which follow the Lamb." There are other persons in the world who follow some one of their fellow-men. Whatever he says, is gospel to them; whatever he has written is, of course, infallible. "Be ye followers of me," says the apostle Paul, but then he adds directly, "even as I also am of Christ." While we are children, we are necessarily under instructors; but we must take heed, as we grow in grace, that we never follow an instructor so blindly as to follow him where he goes wrong. No, "to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." Every true instructor will beg you to see that, when he errs, you are not to err with him, but to keep a conscience and an understanding of your own, so that it will not be said, "These are they who follow this or that eminent preacher or divine;" but, "These are they which follow the Lamb." Mind that, dear friends, for it is most important. I know another company of people who follow "the church." That is a wonderful thing, you know, "the historic church." This is the great door of entrance into the Church of Rome, and many have been attracted to it, and have gone through it down into the abyss. There are certain persons who think that "the church" cannot err; but I do not know a more erring community than that which is commonly called "the church." Yet there are certain people who must follow the church whithersoever she goeth; and as she has gone to Rome, there they will also go. Or if they think she has gone to Oxford, there they will abide; or if she has gone to Canterbury, there they will dwell. Well, I have great respect for these brethren, but I prefer to be numbered with those of whom it is written, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Whether he goes to Rome, or to Geneva, or to Wittenberg, or to Canterbury, or to Smithfield amidst the martyrs' burning stakes, or amongst the misnamed Anabaptists, or the Methodists, follow the Lamb wherever he goes. I have been sometimes called to book for saying yet I will venture to say it again, that, if I lived in a village, or if I lived in any other place where I knew there was a Baptist or other Dissenting Chapel, before I decided to attend it, I should want to know first, "Is the gospel preached there?" I am not so blindly wedded to any denomination whatever that I should cling to the denomination if it did not cleave to Christ. "Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." If you can hear sound doctrine concerning Christ preached anywhere, go and hear it; if it is in connection with those who also follow the Lamb in the waters of baptism, show your preference for that form of worship; but do not cling merely to an old name and an old flag when Christ has gone from them. The first thing for your soul is to get near to Christ, to feed upon his truth, and so to let it be said of you, dear friends, "'These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth;' and if they do not hear the gospel in one place, they will go to another, for they are not going to listen to false doctrine. They have, as sheep of Christ, received a taste by which they know what is truth and what is error. 'A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers;' but when they hear their Shepherd's voice, they will follow that. 'These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.'" The church is all very well in its place, but the church has often lost her lord. In the Song of Solomon we read how she went about the streets seeking him; so I should not like to have to follow her whithersoever she goeth; but it is safe and right to follow the Bridegroom wherever he goes, so let us keep to that, and be amongst those that "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." A further instruction is this. We may always follow the lead of the Lamb of the atoning sacrifice. We can never follow it too closely in our thought. You know that you may get some one thought into your head, and it may rule your whole being till you hardly know where it may lead you. Few men know the consequences of introducing any single doctrine into their minds, for it is pretty sure to bring another and another in its train. This is especially true about the doctrine of the atonement offered by Christ the Lamb of God, yet you may accept it without fear, whatever its consequences may be, and never be at all afraid to follow it whithersoever it goeth. For instance, when you think of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, dying in unutterable pangs to redeem men, it gives you the true idea of the terrible blackness of sin. Well, follow out that thought; and if you begin to be greatly depressed under a sense of sin, if conscience should sting and scourge your heart, if it should almost drive you to despair to think that sin could not be put away except by the death of the Son of God, still follow out the thought, for the process will not hurt you. "Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Though he should lead you into a very trying experience, and a very humbling sense of your own guilt, go on still further with him, for he who leads you into that gloom will lead you out of it in the most efficient manner, and you need not be afraid to "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." "If it be so," says one, "that the Son of God must die before sin can be put away, then it follows that there is no salvation out of Christ." Just so, follow up that thought. Go on with it to its ultimate issues, do not be afraid, even though the consequences should startle you. Rest assured that, where the doctrine of the cross may lead you, you may follow it quite safely. One thing I know, the doctrine of the cross will never make you trifle with sin, it will never let you imagine that the death of the wicked is a slight matter, it will never make you indifferent as to the state of men when they pass into another world. "Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," and you will hate sin more and more, you will love souls more and more, you will have an intense awe of the law of God, and you will have an intense love for the person of your Redeemer. You cannot push this thought too far, it is a truth about which you can never go to an extreme. Nay, I wish that you would go to any extreme that lies along this route, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," as a matter of thought. But now, once more, you may also very safely follow the Lord Jesus Christ, as the atoning sacrifice, in matters of fact; that is to say, you may be in this world, as far as you can in your measure, as Christ was. The man who believes in the doctrine of the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, will feel that sin is bitter, and he will become very intolerant of it. He will seek to put it down, he will try to purge it out of his own conduct, and he will not endure it in his own family. Go on with that line of conduct, and follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. How can you tolerate that which cost the Son of God the bloody sweat of Gethsemane? How can you play with the dagger which pierced his heart? No, you must practically, in your life, hate the sins that made him mourn, and nailed him to the tree. Alas! nowadays, I see many who are trifling with sin. We Puritans, they say, are much too precise and too strict. Ah, sirs! it is that preciseness and that strictness that are wanted more and more, and we shall never know how to live thus except we abide hard by the cross of Christ Unless we believe that sin cost Christ his life, we shall never have that holy enmity towards sin which we ought to have, that blessed intolerance of sin which ought to take possession of every Christian's heart and mind. "Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." If you do, you will have to go outside the camp, just as he did, bearing his cross. He went forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem; you will have to do the same; you will find people saying of you that they cannot endure you, you have become too religious, too strait-laced, and so on. Blessed are they who are not afraid of hard names, who indeed feel that, if it be wrong in the judgment of the world to follow Christ so closely, they intend to be more wrong, even as David said to Michal, "I will yet be more vile." God help us so to do! "Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," into the place of separation without the camp. If you follow the Lamb, you may be called to suffer, you may have to lose friends, you may come under the cruel lash of slander, you may, perhaps, have to lose this world's gains, for righteousness' sake and holiness' sake; but whatever the cost may be, follow the Lamb, say to yourself,
"Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead, I'll follow where he goes."
"The blood-bespattered footprints of my Master shall receive mine. Not with equal strides, but still with gladsome footsteps, I will follow in his track, let that track lead where it may. What he did, I will do, after my measure." This is what we ought to do, brothers and sisters. How different our lives would be if we always wrought them out by this rule "What would Christ do in such a case?" I have sometimes got into a great fix of conscience when I have put to myself the question, "What would Christ do in such a case as this?" And once or twice I have not been able to answer, and then I have had to hark back a little, and say, "Would Christ ever have been in circumstances similar to mine just now? Is there not some mistake farther back, and had I not better go right back, and begin again, somewhere or other, rather than keep on a track in which I cannot suppose my Lord to be?" Oh, that we might feel, henceforth, that we will follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, whatever the consequences may be! Young Christian, I should recommend you, in starting out in the Christian life, to aim at obeying your Lord's commands in every particular. If you have believed in him, the first thing that you ought to do is to be baptized. "Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," and I am sure that he went down into the waters of Jordan, and was baptized by John, and then the Holy Spirit rested upon him, and his Father said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." When you have done that, go and give yourself to the Church of Christ, for the Lord Jesus Christ, from the very first, began to gather round about him those who feared God, and he had a company of disciples who constituted his Church. Still keep on following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth; and if you do, you will be a very amiable, loving, generous, hearty, self-denying, laborious Christian. If you follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, you will go about doing good; you will lay yourself out in service for the Master. Perhaps you will teach little children, for he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." Perhaps you will stand and preach in the streets, for he, by the hill-side, and on the mountain, and by the sea, spoke ever the things of God. But if you follow him, you will do good in one way or another, and not be a lazy lie-a-bed in the kingdom of Christ, expecting to be honored and rewarded for doing nothing at all. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Brothers and sisters, are we not happy that we may follow him? His track leads to rest, for he sitteth at the right hand of God. His track leads to victory, for the Lamb is enthroned, and he will give us to overcome, and to sit with him upon his throne, even as he has overcome, and sits with the Father upon his throne. Oh! then, by that sweet ending, let us make a good beginning, and a blessed, persevering continuance, in following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. III. I close with this remark, our text IS SUGGESTIVE TO ALL WHO WOULD BE SAINTS. You perceive that, if you are to be true saints, first of all, you must trust Christ. A man does not follow another unless he has faith in him. Brethren, your way to heaven lies in trusting yourself with Christ as a sacrifice for sin, as the Lamb of God. Trust yourself with him, and you have begun the new life, you have started as a saint. But, next, this trust must be of a practical kind. It is not said in our text, "These are they which trust the Lamb" merely; but, "These are they which follow the Lamb." You must do what he bids you, as he bids you, because he bids you, and because you trust him. You must begin, from this day forth, to show by your lives that your faith in Christ is no mere sentiment, but a vital active principle within your minds. In that way you shall find eternal life in trusting the Lamb and following him. But, if you follow him, recollect that you must make no terms with him. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." "Lord," say you, "I will follow thee across the grassy lawn, or over the smoothly-rolled road." No, no: you must make no conditions; you must follow him up the crags and down into the marshes, you must follow Christ everywhere, with no picking and choosing of the road. Where he bids you, you must go; where he leads you, you must follow. Will you do that? If so, you shall be his in the day of his appearing; but you must take that "whithersoever" into the contract. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." O sir, wilt thou follow Christ at this rate? If thou wilt, thou art Christ's man; this is the sort of soldier that he would enlist in his army, the man who is ready to follow him whithersoever he goeth. I heard of a young man who wanted to be an officer in Napoleon's army, and he came to get a commission, wearing a fine new hat, and a suit of clothes of the very neatest cut possible; and the officer asked him, "Sir, if you were in a defile, with mountains on either side of you which you could not ascend, and there was no possibility of going back, and the enemy in front was at least ten times your number, what would you do in such a case as that?" He answered, "I should resign my commission." They did not make an officer of him, you may be sure; but there are plenty of that kind who, as soon as ever they come to a difficulty in the Christian faith, say, "Take my name off the roll; I did not bargain for this." Now, if you mean to be a Christian, you must "follow the Lamb whithersoever whithersoever whithersoever he goeth." And if you do this, you must be like him. Christ and his followers must be of one mind. Christ the Lamb is not to be followed by the devil's lions. If you follow the Lamb, you must grow more and more lamb-like; and that means being more gentle, more meek, more self-sacrificing, more ready to submit to the divine will. The Lord make us so, and may we be among the blessed people who shall have this for their epitaph, nay, not for their epitaph, for they are not dead, but who shall have this for their motto, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth"! Lastly, remember that Jesus came to the communion table, and his followers should be like him in this respect also. If there is any child of God who has forgotten this truth hitherto, let him no longer forsake the assembling of himself with God's people in the keeping of this sacred feast. God bless you all, for Christ's sake! Amen.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Spurgeon Collection" by:
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Revelation 14". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17