For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Flee out of the midst of Babylon.
Lectures on Pilgrim's Progress, G. H. Cheever.And now the trembling pilgrim, with fixed resolution, having a glimpse of the light and a definite direction, begins to run; it is unutterable relief to his perplexities to run towards Christ, though as yet he sees Him not. But now the world clamours after him, yea, the dearest ones in it try to stop him, but the fire in his conscience is stronger than they; he stops his ears and runs without looking behind, and stays not in all the plain, but runs as swiftly as his burden will let him, crying, "Life, life, eternal life!"
(Lectures on Pilgrim's Progress, G. H. Cheever.)
He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom.
1. View we first, singly, those things which are most familiar and obvious to our senses. First, those plants we every day do see, smell, and taste: Have not that number, that figure, that order, that temperament, that whole contexture of parts we discern in them, a manifest relation to those operations they perform? Whence, then, I inquire, could that fitness proceed? from chance, or casual motions of matter? But is it not repugnant to the name and nature of chance, that anything regular or constant should arise from it? Are not confusion, disparity, deformity, unaccountable change and variety, the proper issues of chance? It is not, therefore, reasonable to ascribe those things to chance: to what then? will you say, to necessity? If you do, you only alter the phrase; for necessary causality is but another name for chance; they both are but several terms denoting blindness and unadvisedness in action; both must imply a fortuitous determination of causes, acting without design or rule. These effects must therefore, I say, proceed from wisdom, and that no mean one, but such as greatly surpasses our comprehension, joined with a power equally great: for to digest bodies so very many, so very fine and subtile, so divers in motion and tendency, that they shall never hinder or disturb one another, but always conspire to the same design, is a performance exceedingly beyond our capacity to reach how it could be contrived or accomplished; all the endeavours of our deepest skill and most laborious industry cannot arrive to the producing of any work not extremely inferior to any of these, not in comparison very simple and base; neither can our wits serve to devise, nor our sense to direct, nor our hand to execute any work, in any degree like to those. And ii we have reason to acknowledge so much wisdom and power discovered in one plant, and the same consequently multiplied in so many thousands of divers kinds; how much more may we discern them in any one animal, in all of them? Who shaped and tempered those hidden subtile springs of life, sense, imagination, memory, passion; who impressed on them a motion so regular and so durable, which through so many years, among so many adverse contingencies assailing it, is yet so steadily maintained? Thus doth commonsense from these sort of beings, whereof there be innumerable exposed daily to our observation, even singly considered, deduce the existence of a wisdom, power, and goodness unconceivably great; and there are probably divers others (stones, metals, minerals, &c.) no less obvious, even here on the earth, our place of dwelling, which, were our senses able to discern their constitution and texture, would afford matter of the same acknowledgment.
2. But if, passing from such particulars, we observe the relation of several kinds of things each to other, we shall find more reason to be convinced concerning the same excellent perfections farther extending themselves. Is there not, for instance, a palpable relation between the frame, the temper, the natural inclinations or instincts of each animal, and its element or natural place and abode; wherein it can only live, finding therein its food, its harbour, its refuge? Is not to each faculty within an object without prepared, exactly correspondent thereto; which were it wanting, the faculty would become vain and useless, yea sometime harmful and destructive; as reciprocally the object would import little or nothing, if such a faculty were not provided and suited thereto? As for example, what would an eye signify, if there were not light prepared to render things visible thereto? and how much less considerable than it is would the goodly light itself be, were all things in nature blind, and uncapable to discern thereby? What would the ear serve for, if the air were not suitably disposed in a due consistency, and capable of moderate undulations distinguishable there-by? The like we might with the same reason inquire concerning the other senses and faculties, vital or animal, and their respective objects, which we may observe with admirable congruity respecting each other. So many, so plain, so exactly congruous are the relations of things here about us each to other; which surely could not otherwise come than from one admirable wisdom and power conspiring thus to adapt and connect them together; as also from an equal goodness, declared in all these things being squared so fitly for mutual benefit and convenience. Well, then, is it to a fortuitous necessity (or a necessary chance) that we owe all these choice accommodations and pre-eminences of nature? must we bless and worship fortune for all this? did she so especially love us, and tender our good? was she so indulgent toward us, so provident for us in so many things, in everything; making us the scope of all her workings and motions here about us? Oh, brutish degeneracy! Are we not, not only wretchedly blind and stupid, if we are not able to discern so clear beams of wisdom shining through so many perspicuous correspondences; if we cannot trace the Divine power by footsteps so express and remarkable; if we cannot read so legible characters of transcendent goodness; but extremely unworthy and ungrateful, if we are not ready to acknowledge, and with hearty thankfulness to celebrate all these excellent perfections, by which all these things have been so ordered, as to conspire and co-operate for our benefit?
3. Yea, all of them join together in one universal consort, with one harmonious voice, to proclaim one and the same wisdom to have designed, one and the same power to have produced, one and the same goodness to have set both wisdom and power on work in designing and in producing their being; in preserving and governing it: for this whole system of things what is it, but one goodly body, as it were, compacted of several members and organs; so aptly compacted together, that each confers its being and its operation to the grace and ornament, to the strength and stability of the whole; one soul (of Divine providence) enlivening in a manner, and actuating it all? We may perhaps not discern the use of each part, or the tendency of each particular effect; but of many they are so plain and palpable, that reason obliges us to suppose the like of the rest. Even as a person whom we observe frequently to act with great consideration and prudence. when at other times we cannot penetrate the drift of his proceedings, we must yet imagine that he hath some latent reason, some reach of policy, that we are not aware of; or, as in an engine consisting of many parts, curiously combined, whereof we do perceive the general use, and apprehend how divers parts thereof conduce thereto, reason prompts us (although we neither see them all, nor can comprehend the immediate serviceableness of some) to think they are all in some way or other subservient to the artist's design: such an agent is God, the wisdom of whose proceedings being in so many instances notorious, we ought to suppose it answerable in the rest; such an engine is this world, of which we may easily enough discern the general end, and how many of its parts do conduce thereto; and cannot therefore in reason but suppose the rest in their kind alike congruous, and conducible to the same purpose. If the nature of any cause be discoverable by its effects; if from any work we may infer the workman's ability; if in any case the results of wisdom are distinguishable from the consequences of chance, we have reason to believe that the Architect of this magnificent and beautiful frame was one incomprehensibly wise, powerful, and good Being; so that "they are inexcusable, who from hence do not know God"; or knowing Him do not render unto Him His due glory and service.
(Isaac Barrow, D. D.)
Thus saith the Lord: Set ye up a standard in the land.
1. There is a power in our midst to-day — a power so imperious that a man may well be excused for holding it to be well-nigh irresistible — the power of public opinion. Are we not apt to forget that this potent engine of our modern life is one whose motive force may, and should be, in a Christian country, spent always in the cause of God, and of His Christ? It is an engine which, if it be informed by hearts aglow with the Spirit of Christ, and guided by hands that are exercised in deeds of truth and love, may well work miracles before our eyes. Then, may not our Church expect of all her sons that each one of them should realise his personal responsibility in this respect?
2. What a motto is this for our national and imperial politics! What a "programme" is here set forth for any Government, under whatever accidents of political party! "Set ye up a standard in the land"; a standard of righteousness and of good faith in matters of international law, or the observance of international treaties.
3. May not this be taken, again, as a potent watchword at our parliamentary elections? Can we not, each one of us, deal at any rate with our own vote as with a serious trust? Can we not raise over our polling-booths a standard of principle rather than party? Can we not muster courage to demand fair play for all; to denounce the use of unworthy weapons in the process of electioneering — the weapons of declamation and mob-flattery, of slander and personal abuse, of mere brute. force, obstruction, and of secret bribery, boycotting, or cowardly intimidation? "Set up a standard in the land." What nobler principle for our legislation itself? A standard of mercy and unselfishness, of wise and intelligent sympathy. in dealing with the needs of the many; a standard of absolute impartiality, strict and entire justice, in legislating for the uneducated and the helpless classes of our population.
4. So, too, with respect to other matters of less distinctly political interest. There is room, surely, for a higher standard in questions of pressing social gravity, such as, for example, the subject of national education. Here, at any rate, the Church is pre-eminently bound to hold aloft the ideal of that which alone is worthy of the name of education. Or, turning again to such facts as are revealed by our criminal statistics, in view of the open sore of our national intemperance; or of the not less terrible though secret cancer of our national impurity, can we not, as carrying the Cross of our dear Lord's self-denial on our foreheads, can we not do something towards setting up a standard in our homes, in our streets, in our business, and in our amusements, — a standard of sobriety and of purity?
5. So, again, in our very amusements. It rests with you, of the English Church laity, to "set up a standard in the land." It is for you, who are the patrons of the English stage, to pronounce with no faltering accent that the drama — whether grave or gay — no more necessitates the stimulus of an immoral plot, or the adjuncts of a vicious art, than the pen of a Macaulay, a Tennyson, or a Browning, need defile itself with the innuendoes of a Wycherley or the coarseness of a Congreve.
6. And once again, in reference to those forum of sin to which as a great commercial people we arc especially prone. Have we not enough knowledge of a sound political economy to see that all the remedies which Parliament can propose will never touch the root of the evil we deplore? that what is wanted is not so much the mere readjustment of taxation, still less the forcible redistribution of our wealth, as the introduction of a higher standard into our commercial transactions; the standard of a fairer co-operation between the capitalist and the workman — of a more just and upright dealing between tradesman and customer — of a closer sympathy between master and servant, between producer and consumer: a standard of hard, but not slavish, honest, and conscientious work — a standard of fair working hours and fair working profits; a standard of just prices and honest weights and measures; a standard of thrift and temperance and industry, that will condemn idleness and dishonesty in the workman, the producer, but which will not excuse indolence and selfishness and unbridled luxury in the consumer; a standard which denounces all trade adulterations, all lying labels, all imitation brands, all false advertisements, and other similar forms of commercial ostentation and inequity; a standard, moreover, which declares such sins to be as sinful among the warehouses of the city as in the village shop, and pronounces the vices of the west to be at least as criminal as the crimes of the east. Lift up your hearts, then, comrades in the sacred battlefield of right and wrong! Look to that warrior Christ who leads us on.
(H. B. Ottley, M. A.)
Let Jerusalem come into your mind.
I. THERE IS A JERUSALEM HERE BELOW WHICH SHOULD COME INTO OUR MIND. The Church of the living God is our holy city, the city of the Great King, and we should have it in mind —
1. To unite with its citizens. Join with them in open profession of faith in Christ, in Christian love and mutual help, in holy service, worship, communion, &c.
2. To pray for its prosperity. Our window, like that of Daniel, should be opened towards Jerusalem.
3. To labour for its advancement. Remember it in the allotment of money, use of time, employment of talents, exercise of influence, &c.
4. To prefer its privileges above earthly gain. Consider these privileges in our choice of our residence, occupation, &c.
5. To act consistently with her holy character. God's people must not degrade His name and cause by living in sin.
II. THERE IS A JERUSALEM ABOVE WHICH SHOULD COME INTO OUR MIND.
1. Let the believer's thoughts often go thither, for Jesus is there, our departed brethren are there, our own home is there, and thither our hopes and desires should always tend. It should be upon our minds —
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) 2. Let the unconverted permit such thoughts to come into their mind, for they may well inquire of themselves thus — (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) 2. Let the unconverted permit such thoughts to come into their mind, for they may well inquire of themselves thus — (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(3) (4) (5) (6) (7) 2. Let the unconverted permit such thoughts to come into their mind, for they may well inquire of themselves thus — (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
, Heinrich Stillings.It may be a sin to long for death, but I am sure it is no sin to long for heaven.
( Matthew Henry, D. D.)Blessed are the home-sick, for they shall come at last to the Father's house.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Homiletic Review.But these captive Jews were not to be despairing Jews. In seventy years their captivity was to end. Meantime, as a resource against discouragement, against the infecting Babylonian evil with which they were to be surrounded, Jeremiah commands these Israelites, "And let Jerusalem come into your minds." Think of what she has been; think of what restored Jerusalem is to be; remember that you are really citizens, not of this Babylon, but of God's Jerusalem; and as citizens of this Jerusalem, even though you be in Babylon, endure, hope, live. Everywhere in Scripture the earthly Jerusalem is the symbol of the heavenly. We have right to generalise. From the fact that whatever God says is to be in this world comes to be, we have reason to believe that whatever God says concerning the other world certainly is. When the Scriptures tell me that the earthly Jerusalem points to a heavenly Jerusalem, because I find God s Word so true about everything in this world, I have right to believe it true about things in that; I have right to believe that there is a heavenly Jerusalem. So let the heavenly Jerusalem come into your minds.
1. Let Jerusalem come into your mind when it seems to you as though life were not worth the living. There is a better life beyond, for which this is preparation.
2. Let Jerusalem come into your mind when you seem to yourself specially baffled.
3. Let Jerusalem come into your mind when the fight with sin is sore and weary.
4. Let Jerusalem come into your mind when death seems complete victor. This is the greatest of questions for each one of us, Have we any title in that Jerusalem? Can we let it come into our minds as our own?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. IT IS NECESSARY FOR OUR SALVATION. The Christian life is one of perpetual peril. We are menaced from every quarter. The microbe is ever on our track, and we need to be on our guard to ward off our foes. But the perils of our body are as nothing compared with our soul-perils. Our danger arises from this present evil world. It is always near us, appealing to us, setting its snares, offering us its bewildering and beguiling baits. It comes, too, in such subtle forms, in the form of a fair-faced friend; it can make use of such attractive things, and sometimes souls are ensnared before they are aware of it. Think of a man living daily in some social circles with their artificialities, their unrealities, white lies, lamentable hypocrisies; or in the world of politics with its "understandings," trickeries, untruths; or in the world of business with its corners, monopolies, injustices, sharp practice! What does it mean? Full often the dulling of the mind, the paralysis of the conscience, ay, it means the heart loses its freshness, and the life its whiteness. And, mark you, it is not that one need voluntarily yield himself up to these blighting phenomena — not to resist is to suffer. Then, what can be done to break the spell of this present world, and ensure our salvation? Let Jerusalem come into your mind, suffer the better world to overshadow the worse world, get into God's own climate, cultivate the heavenly vision. Fetch heaven's light down to earth. Fetch the fresh air of the eternal hills down to this stifling, stagnant scene. Fetch the music of heaven down to this terrestrial sphere. The better saves from the worse. Its glory will be glory no longer, its unreality will be sighted, and he will be saved. It is the far-off look that is needed, a vision of the eternal things which is our salvation. Sir Redvers Bullet has told us that in the late war the Boers fought better than our own soldiers, because they had better eyesight, and could see much farther, and no doubt the reason why many Christians are overtaken by spiritual calamities is because they cannot see afar off, they do not lift up their eyes on high. Let us accustom our eyes to see the glories of the New Jerusalem.
II. IT IS NECESSARY FOR OUR AMPLIFICATION. Familiarity with the world does not broaden men, but narrows them. "Born a man and died a grocer," says the epitaph, and the shrinkage of a soul is one of the painfullest features of life. Many people feel they are sadly caged up, with no poetry, romance, interests, change in their lives. Well, what are we to do? How to make life broader? Thank God, we have an answer — annex heaven. "Reinforce," says one, "this world with the world which is to come. What do they do in an inland state that is surrounded by other countries, and cramped in on every side? They fight to get down to the sea. Give a country only a few miles, and it is satisfied. Why? Because it will build a harbour there, and it will make ships there, and the enterprising spirits of the nation will man the ships, and the ships will go to the ends of the earth, carrying out such poor things as they have to send, but bringing home untold treasures. That single harbour holds the whole earth in its grasp." It is even so in our spiritual life. When I am linked with the skies, when I do commerce with heaven my life cannot be petty, narrow, insignificant. I am not lost in my trade, business, profession, nor does my soul undergo any shrinkage. Nay, I do my buying and selling, my getting and spending, in the eyes of heaven. A literary lady who went to consult an oculist about her eyes was told that her eye-weariness and brain-jadedness would pass away if she would now and then pause from her work, and sight the glorious hills in the distance, and she found it so. Is not this what we sorely need to save our life from getting cramped by what is sordid and petty — pauses to look away from life's manifold engagements to the bright-topped hills of immortality? It is ours, like the apostle at Patmos, to see the fair city of our King, to fraternise with the denizens of the skies, to consort with God Himself, and to do this is to find the grandest emancipation.
III. IT IS NECESSARY TO OUR CONSOLATION. He was a wise professor who used to say to his students when going to preach, "Never fail in any service to have at least a word of comfort." There is a sore, ii not a broken, heart in every religious assembly. Existence were a poor mockery if this world were all. To how many life is just one long bitter struggle. Think of those, the bruised and broken, who are on their back all their days; think of those who, through no fault of their own, are face to face with poverty most of their time; think of those who have been overtaken by a black bereavement with tragic suddenness; think of these who are left orphans when young, and are at the mercy of an unfeeling world; think of those who have secret trials — trials of which they never whisper even to their dearest friends; think of those who, in trying to live the Christian life, are sorely, buffeted! Where is the compensation? This: "Let Jerusalem come into your mind. Think of it as the place where all life's wrongs will be ended, where the weary-footed will lay aside their sandals, and the weary-hearted will find sweet rest, where the homeless will find a home, where the broken circles will be re-formed, and where the miseries of a lifetime will be forgotten in the first moment of hallowed bliss.
IV. IT IS NECESSARY TO OUR INSPIRATION. One of our primary needs is inspiration, we so soon begin to flag and lose heart. It is needful for the maintenance of our ideals, for the shaping of a holy character, to keep us steadfast in the midst of strife and sorrow. It is painful to note how that when men forget the heavenward look, they drift from the golden life, part with their noble dreams, sink beneath their troubles, and fall into bondage to a sensuous life. There are wrecks on all sides of us — Demases who have loved this present world. "We surmount the flesh by ascending with Christ to the realm of the spirit. In those who are occupied with Christ and His kingdom, who 'set their mind on the things above where Christ is,' carnal passions cease to be nourished, the former channels of thought and desire are left bare and dry, the man's soul is caught by a keener excitement and a mightier current, he is drawn into the orbit of the Sun of Righteousness. He is absorbed in the great and entrancing things of God, and the old frivolities can no longer divert him." The same is true of every other phase of our earth-life. This was the temper of Moses, and it heartened him for the most prodigious tasks. "He looked for the recompense of the reward." This was the temper of the old-world pilgrims, "they desired a better country, that is a heavenly." The saints of God, the men for whom duty, religion, faith, love, character, possess their full meaning, are known by this far-away look, this detachment of spirit. At the bottom of their souls is a Divine home-sickness for the Eternal — and this made them spiritual stalwarts. This, also, was the temper of Jesus. Never for a moment did He forget the Father, the will, the home, the friendship and fellowship of the Father, "I speak unto you the things that I have seen with the Father." "I go to My Father." And a share of His glory He assured to all His faithful followers. I have read somewhere of a bewildered party on a mountain. Pressing on in the blinding snow, the track lost and the cold increasing, one of them at last in sneer fatigue sank flown to die. His friends coaxed him, urged him, expostulated with him so as to get him forward, but all to no purpose. But some one took from his pocket a picture of wife and children, and showed it to him. That was enough; what coaxing and threats failed to effect was done in an instant by that vision of the far-off home. He at once threw off the death-drowse that was so surely embracing him, and rousing himself with the new power that came from that vision, he pushed forward with his friends to a place of safety. And our Divine Leader, when we are flagging and wearying, gives us pictures of the heavenly home to hearten us.