for the Common
(Counsel in Living for Christ)
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Themes extracted from Mr. Spurgeon's "Sermons" and from entries of "Faith's
written by John Bunyan.
Bold emphasis by WStS.
"There hath no temptation taken you but
SUCH AS IS COMMON TO MAN:
but God Is Faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation also make a Way To Escape,
that ye may be able to bear it"
"God Is Faithful, by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship
of His Son Jesus Christ our LORD"
"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the
of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death"
"Nevertheless I say unto you,
Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Power,
and Coming in the clouds of Heaven" (Matthew
Ah, LORD, Thou wast in Thy lowest state when before Thy persecutors Thou wast made
to stand like a criminal! Yet the eyes of Thy faith could see beyond Thy present
humiliation into Thy future glory. What words are these, "Nevertheless
- hereafter!" I would imitate Thy holy
foresight, and in the midst of poverty, or sickness, or slander, I also would say,
"Nevertheless - hereafter." Instead of weakness, Thou hast all power; instead of shame,
all glory; instead of derision, all worship, Thy cross has not dimmed the splendor
of Thy crown, neither has the spittle marred the beauty of Thy face. Say,
rather, Thou are the more exalted and honored because of Thy sufferings.
So, LORD, I also would take courage from the "hereafter." I would forget the present tribulation in the future
triumph. Help thou me by directing me into Thy Father's love and into Thine own
patience, so that when I am derided for Thy name I may not be staggered but think
more and more of the hereafter, and, therefore, all the less of today. I shall be
with Thee soon and behold Thy glory. Wherefore, I am not ashamed but say in my inmost
soul, "Nevertheless - hereafter."
A Staircase to Heaven
"And He saith unto him, Verily, verily,
I say unto you,
Hereafter ye shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God
ascending and descending upon the Son of man"
Yes, to our faith this sight is plain even at this day. We do see heaven opened.
Jesus Himself has opened that kingdom to all believers. We gaze into the place
of mystery and glory, for He has revealed it to us. We shall enter it soon,
for He is the way.
Now we see the explanation of Jacob's ladder. Between earth and heaven there is a
holy commerce; prayer ascends, and answers come down by the way of Jesus, the
Mediator. We see this ladder when we see our LORD. In Him a stairway of
light now furnishes a clear passage to the throne of the Most High. Let us use it
and send up by it the messengers of our prayers. We shall live the angelic life ourselves
if we run up to heaven in intercession, lay hold upon the blessings of the covenant,
and then descend again to scatter those gifts among the sons of men.
This choice sight which Jacob only saw in a dream will turn into a bright reality.
This very day we will be up and down the ladder each hour: climbing in communion
and coming down in labor to save our fellowmen. This is Thy promise, O LORD Jesus;
let us joyfully see it fulfilled.
An Angel Encampment
"The angel of the LORD encampeth round
about them that fear Him,
and delivereth them" (Psalm 34:7).
We cannot see the angels, but it is enough that they can see us. There is one great
Angel of the Covenant, whom not having seen we love, and His eye is always
upon us both day and night. He has a host of holy ones under Him, and He causes these
to be watchers over His saints and to guard them from all ill. If devils do
us mischief, shining ones do us service.
Note that the LORD of angels does not come and go and pay us transient visits, but
He and His armies encamp around us. The headquarters of the army of salvation
is where those live whose trust is in the living God. This camp surrounds the faithful
so that they cannot be attacked from any quarter unless the adversary can break through
the entrenchments of the LORD of angels. We have a fixed protection, a permanent
watch. Sentineled by the messengers of God, we shall not be surprised by sudden
assaults nor swallowed up by overwhelming forces. Deliverance is promised
in this verse -- deliverance by the great Captain of our salvation, and that deliverance
we shall obtain again and again until our warfare is accomplished and we exchange
the field of conflict for the home of rest.
Shine as Many Stars
"And they that be wise shall shine
as the brightness of the firmament;
and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars
for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3).
Here is something to wake me up. This is worth living for. To be wise is a noble
thing in itself: in this place it refers to a divine wisdom which only the LORD Himself
can bestow. Oh, to know myself, my God, my Savior! May I be so divinely taught that
l may carry into practice heavenly truth and live in the light of it! Is my
life a wise one? Am I seeking that which I ought to seek? Am I living as I shall
wish I had lived when I come to die? Only such wisdom can secure for me eternal
brightness as of yonder sunlit skies.
To be a winner of souls is a glorious attainment. I had need to be wise if I am to
turn even one to righteousness; much more if I am to turn many. Oh, for the knowledge
of God, of men, of the Word, and of Christ, which will enable me to convert my fellowmen
and to convert large numbers of them! I would give myself to this, and never rest
till I accomplish it. This will be better than winning stars at court. This
will make me a star, a shining star, a star shining forever and ever; yea, more,
it will make me shine as many stars. My soul, arouse thyself. LORD, quicken me!
Not Left to Perish
"For Thou wilt not leave my soul
neither will Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10).
We may descend in spirit very low till we seem to be plunged in the abyss of hell;
but we shall not be left there. We may appear to be at death's door in heart,
and soul, and consciousness; but we cannot remain there. Our inward death
as to joy and hope may proceed very far; but it cannot run on to its full consequences,
so as to reach the utter corruption of black despair. We may go very low, but not
lower than the LORD permits; we may stay in the lowest dungeon of doubt for
a while, but we shall not perish there. The star of hope is still in the
sky when the night is blackest. The LORD will not forget us and hand us
over to the enemy. Let us rest in hope. We have to deal with One whose mercy
endureth forever. Surely, out of death, and darkness, and despair we shall yet arise
to life, light, and liberty.
All Joy in All Trials
("Sermons" No. 1704)
"My brethren, count it all joy
when ye fall into divers temptations;
knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work,
that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:2-4.
Remembering the trials of his brethren, James tries to cheer them, and therefore
he says, "My brethren, count it all joy
when ye fall into divers trials." It is
a part of our high calling to rise ourselves into confidence; and it is also our
duty to see that none of our brethren despond, much less despair. The whole tendency
of our holy faith is to elevate and to encourage. Grace breeds no sorrow, except
the healthy sorrow which comes with saving repentance and leads to the joy of pardon:
it comes not to make men miserable, but to wipe all tears from their eyes. As
a rule, where God's grace works, these come to be hopeful men. Where others
think the storm will destroy the vessel, they can remember storms equally fierce
which did not destroy it, and so they are so calm that their courage keeps others
These men, too, become unworldly men. They have had too much
trouble to think that they can ever build their nest in this black forest. There
are too many thorns in their nest for them to reckon that this can be their home.
These birds of paradise take to their wings, and are ready to fly away to
the land of unfading flowers.
And these much-tempted ones are frequently the most spiritual men, and out
of this spirituality comes usefulness. Mr. Greatheart [or even Hopeful, pictured above],
who led the band of pilgrims up to the celestial city, was a man of many trials,
or he would not have been fit to lead so many to their heavenly rest; and you, dear
brother, if ever you are to be a leader and a helper, as you would wish to be, in
the church of God, it must be by such means as this that you must be prepared for
Do you not wish to have every virtue developed? Do you not wish to become a perfect
man in Christ Jesus? If so, welcome with all joy divers trials and temptations;
fly to God with them; bless Him for having sent them: ask Him to help you to bear
them with patience, and then let that patience have its perfect work, and so by the
Spirit of God you shall become "perfect
and entire, lacking in nothing." May the
Comforter bless this word to your hearts, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
From Fetters Free
"The LORD looseth the prisoner" (Psalm 146:7).
He has done it. Remember Joseph, Israel in Egypt, Manasseh, Jeremiah, Peter,
and many others. He can do it still. He breaks the bars of brass with a
word and snaps the fetters of iron with a look. He is doing it.
In a thousand places troubled ones are coming forth to light and enlargement. Jesus
still proclaims the opening of the prison to them that are bound. At this moment
doors are flying back and fetters are dropping to the ground.
He will delight to set you free, dear friend, if at this time you are mourning because
of sorrow, doubt, and fear. It will be joy to Jesus to give you liberty. It will
give Him as great a pleasure to loose you as it will be a pleasure to you to be loosed.
No, you have not to snap the iron hand: the LORD Himself will do it. Only trust Him,
and He will be your Emancipator. Believe in Him in spite of the stone walls or the
manacles of iron. Satan cannot hold you, sin cannot enchain you, even despair
cannot bind you if you will now believe in the LORD Jesus, in the freeness of His
grace, and the fullness of His power to save.
Defy the enemy, and let the word now before you be your song of deliverance;
"Jehovah looseth the prisoners."
Remind God of His Promise
"And Thou saidst, I will surely
do thee good" (Genesis
This is the sure way of prevailing with the LORD in prayer. We may humbly
remind Him of what He has said. Our faithful God will never run back from His
word, nor will He leave it unfulfilled; yet He loves to be enquired of by His people
and put in mind of His promise. This is refreshing to their memories, reviving to
their faith, and renewing to their hope. God's Word is given, not for His sake, but
for ours. His purposes are settled, and He needs nothing to bind Him to His design
of doing His people good; but He gives the promise for our strengthening and comfort.
Hence He wishes us to plead it and say to Him, "Thou
"I will surely do thee good" is just the essence of all the LORD's gracious sayings.
Lay a special stress on the word surely. He will do us good, real good, tasting
good, only good, every good. He will make us good, and this is to do us good
in the very highest degree. He will treat us as He does his saints while we
are here, and that is good. He will soon take us to be with Jesus and all
His chosen, and that is supremely good.
Whom, When, How to Deliver
"The LORD knoweth how to deliver
the godly out of temptations,
and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2 Peter 2:9).
The godly are tempted and tried. That is not true faith which is never put
to the test. But the godly are delivered out of their trials, and that not
by chance, nor by secondary agencies, but by the LORD Himself. He personally
undertakes the office of delivering those who trust Him. God loves the godly
or godlike, and He makes a point of knowing where they are and how they fare.
Sometimes their way seems to be a labyrinth, and they cannot imagine how they are
to escape from threatening danger. What they do not know, their LORD knows. He knows
whom to deliver, and when to deliver, and how to deliver. He
delivers in the way which is most beneficial to the godly, most crushing to the tempter,
and most glorifying to Himself.
God Himself Shall Work
"Now will I rise, saith the LORD;
now will I be exalted; now will I lift up Myself" (Isaiah 33:10).
God is exalted in the midst of an afflicted people, for they seek His face and trust
Him. He is still more exalted when in answer to their cries He lifts up Himself to
deliver them and overthrow their enemies.
Is it a day of sorrow with us? Let us expect to see the LORD glorified in our deliverance.
Are we drawn out in fervent prayer? Do we cry day and night unto Him? Then the set
time for His grace is near. God will lift up Himself at the right season. He will
arise when it will be most for the display of His glory. We wish for His glory
more than we long for our own deliverance. Let the LORD be exalted, and our chief
desire is obtained.
LORD, help us in such a way that we may see that Thou Thyself art working.
May we magnify Thee in our inmost souls. Make all around us to see how good and
great a God Thou art.
Thank Him; Dwell Acceptably
"Surely the righteous shall give
thanks unto Thy Name:
the upright shall dwell in Thy presence"
Oh, that my heart may be upright, that I may always be able to bless
the name of the LORD! He is so good to those that be good, that I would fain
be among them and feel myself full of thankfulness every day. Perhaps, for a moment,
the righteous are staggered when their integrity results in severe trial; but assuredly
the day shall come when they shall bless their God that they did not yield to evil
suggestions and adopt a shifty policy. In the long run true men will thank the
God of the right for leading them by a right way. Oh, that I may
be among them!
What a promise is implied in this second clause, "The
upright shall dwell in thy presence!"
They shall stand accepted where others appear only to be condemned. They shall
be the courtiers of the great King, indulged with audience whensoever they desire
it. They shall be favored ones upon whom Jehovah smiles and with whom He graciously
communes. LORD, I covet this high honor, this precious privilege. It will be heaven
on earth to me to enjoy it. Make me in all things upright, that I may today and
tomorrow and every day stand in Thy heavenly presence. Then will I give thanks
unto Thy name evermore. Amen.
An Appeal; Deliverance
"And call upon Me in the day of
I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me"
This is a promise indeed!
Here is an urgent occasion -- "the day
of trouble." It is dark at noon on such
a day, and every hour seems blacker than the one which came before it. Then is this
promise in season: it is written for the cloudy day.
Here is condescending advice, "Call upon
me." We ought not to need the exhortation:
it should be our constant habit all the day and every day. What a mercy to have
liberty to call upon God! What wisdom to make good use of it! How foolish to go running
about to men! The LORD invites us to lay our case before Him, and surely we will
not hesitate to do so.
Here is reassuring encouragement: "I will
deliver thee." Whatever the trouble may
be, the LORD makes no exceptions but promises full, sure, happy deliverance. He will
Himself work out our deliverance by His own hand. We believe it, and the
LORD honors faith.
Here is an ultimate result: "Thou shalt
glorify Me." Ah, that we will do most
abundantly. When He has delivered us we will loudly praise Him; and as He is sure
to do it, let us begin to glorify Him at once.
("Sermons" No. 2695)
"They shall speak of the glory of
Thy Kingdom, and talk of Thy Power."
Tell how our Saviour routed the devil in the wilderness when he came to tempt him.
All his foes to ruin hurled, Sin, Satan, earth, death, hell, the world. Tell how
he hath bruised the head of Satan. Tell how death has lost his prey. Tell how hell's
deepest dungeons have been visited, and the power of the prince of darkness utterly
cut off. Tell ye how antichrist himself shall sink like a millstone in the flood.
Tell how false systems of superstition shall flee away, like birds of night when
the sun rises too brightly for their dim sight to bear. Tell ye all this, tell it
in Askalon and in Gath; tell it the wide world over, that the Lord of hosts is
the God of battles; he is the conqueror of men and of devils; he is Master in
his own dominions. Tell ye the glory of his kingdom, and rehearse "his mighty
acts." Christian, exhaust that theme if thou canst.
The LORD Our Companion
"Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for Thou art with me; Thy Rod and Thy Staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4).
Sweet are these words in describing a deathbed assurance. How many have repeated
them in their last hours with intense delight!
But the verse is equally applicable to agonies of spirit in the midst of life.
Some of us, like Paul, die daily through a tendency to gloom of soul. Bunyan puts
the Valley of the Shadow of Death far earlier in the pilgrimage than the river which
rolls at the foot of the celestial hills. We have some of us traversed the dark and
dreadful defile of "the shadow of death" several times, and we can bear witness that the LORD
alone enabled us to bear up amid its wild thought, its mysterious horrors, its
terrible depressions. The LORD has sustained us and kept us above all real fear
of evil, even when our spirit has been overwhelmed. We have been pressed and
oppressed, but yet we have lived, for we have felt the presence of the Great Shepherd
and have been confident that His crook would prevent the foe from giving us any deadly
Should the present time be one darkened by the raven wings of a great sorrow,
let us glorify God by a peaceful trust in Him.
Possess, Not Only Profess
"For whosoever hath, to him shall be given,
and he shall have
more abundance" (Matthew 13:12).
What a necessity is laid upon us to make sure work in religion and
not to profess much, and possess nothing! For one of these days the very profession
will be taken from us, if that be all we have. The threatening is as true as the
Blessed be the LORD, it is His way when He has once made a beginning to go on
bestowing the graces of His Spirit, till He who had but little, and yet truly had
that little, is made to have abundance. Oh, for that abundance! Abundance of
grace is a thing to be coveted. It would be well to know much but better to love
much. It would be delightful to have abundance of skill to serve God, but better
still to have abundance of faith to trust in the LORD for skill and everything.
LORD, since Thou hast given me a sense of sin, deepen my hatred of evil. Since
Thou hast caused me to trust Jesus, raise my faith to full assurance. Since
Thou hast made me to love Thee, cause me to be carried away with vehement
affection for Thee!
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you"
An Earnest Warning about Lukewarmness
("Sermons" No. 1185)
"I know thy works, that thou art neither
cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm,
and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth... As many as I love,
I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand
at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will
come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcometh
will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down
with My Father in His Throne." Revelation 3:15-16,19-21
The best remedy for backsliding churches is
more communion with Christ. "Behold," saith he, "I
stand at the door and knock." I have known
this text preached upon to sinners numbers of times as though Christ knocked at their
door and they had to open it, and so on. The preacher has never managed to keep to
free grace for this reason, that the text was not meant to be so used, and
if men will ride a text the wrong way, it will not go. This text belongs to the
church of God, not to the unconverted. It is addressed to the Laodicean church. There
is Christ outside the church, driven there by her unkindness, but he has not gone
far away, he loves his church too much to leave her altogether, he longs to come
back, and therefore he waits at the doorpost. He knows that the church will never
be restored till he comes back, and he desires to bless her, and so he stands waiting,
knocking and knocking, again and again; he does not merely knock once, but he stands
knocking by earnest sermons, by providences, by impressions upon the conscience,
by the quickenings of his Holy Spirit; and while he knocks he speaks, he uses
all means to awaken his church. Most condescendingly and graciously does he do this,
for having threatened to spue her out of his mouth, he might have said, "I will
get me gone; and I will never come back again to thee," that would have been
natural and just; but how gracious he is when, having expressed his disgust he says,
"Disgusted as I am with your condition, I do not wish to leave you; I have taken
my presence from you, but I love you, and therefore I knock at your door, and wish
to be received into your heart. I will not force myself upon you, I want you voluntarily
to open the door to me." Christ's presence in a church is always a very tender
thing. He never is there against the will of the church, it cannot be, for he lives
in his people's wills and hearts, and "worketh
in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure."
He does not break bolt and bar and come in as he often does into a sinner's heart,
carrying the soul by storm, because the man is dead in sin, and Christ must do it
all, or the sinner will perish; but he is here speaking to living men and women,
who ought also to be loving men and women, and he says, "I wish to be among
you, open the door to me." We ought to open the door at once, and say, "Come
in, good Lord, we grieve to think we should ever have put thee outside that door
Our Field of Battle
"For the LORD your God is He that goeth
to fight for you against your enemies,
to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:4).
We have no enemies but the enemies of God. Our fights are not against men but against
spiritual wickednesses. We war with the devil and the blasphemy and error and despair
which he brings into the field of battle. We fight with all the armies of sin --
impurity, drunkenness, oppression, infidelity, and ungodliness. With these we contend
earnestly, but not with sword or spear; the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
Jehovah, our God, abhors everything which is evil, and, therefore, He goeth with
us to fight for us in this crusade. He will save us, and He will give
us grace to war a good warfare and win the victory. We may depend upon it that
if we are on God's side God is on our side. With such an august ally the conflict
is never in the least degree doubtful. It is not that truth is mighty and
must prevail but that might lies with the Father who is almighty, with Jesus who
has all power in heaven and in earth, and with the Holy Spirit who worketh His will
Soldiers of Christ, gird on your armor. Strike home in the name of the God of holiness,
and by faith grasp His salvation. Let not this day pass without striking a blow for
Jesus and holiness.
The Word, Necessary Food
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every Word
that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"
If God so willed it we could live without bread, even as Jesus did for forty days;
but we could not live without His Word. By that Word we were created, and
by it alone can we be kept in being, for he sustaineth all things by the Word
of His power. Bread is a second cause; the LORD Himself is the first source of
our sustenance. He can work without the second cause as well as with it; and we must
not tie Him down to one mode of operation. Let us not be too eager after the visible,
but let us look to the invisible God. We have heard believers say that in deep poverty,
when bread ran short, their appetites became short, too; and to others, when common
supplies failed, the LORD has sent in unexpected help.
But we must have the Word of the LORD. With this alone we can withstand
the devil. Take this from us, and our enemy will have us in his power, for we shall
soon faint. Our souls need food, and there is none for them outside of the Word of
the LORD. All the books and all the preachers in the world cannot furnish us a single
meal: it is only the Word from the mouth of God that can fill the mouth of a believer.
LORD, evermore give us this bread. We prize it above royal dainties.
A Guide All the Way
"He will be my Guide even unto death" (Psalm 48:14).
We need a guide. Sometimes we would give all that we have to be told exactly what
to do and where to turn. We are willing to do right, but we do not know which one
of two roads we are to follow. Oh, for a guide!
The LORD our God condescends to serve us as guide. He knows the way and will
pilot us along it till we reach our journey's end in peace. Surely we do not desire
more infallible direction. Let us place ourselves absolutely under His
guidance, and we shall never miss our way. Let us make Him our God, and we shall
find Him our guide. If we follow His law we shall not miss the right road of
life, provided we first learn to lean upon Him in every step that we take.
Our comfort is that as He is our God forever and ever, He will never cease to be
with us as our guide. "Even unto death" will He lead us, and then we shall dwell with Him eternally
and go no more out forever. This promise of divine guidance involves lifelong
security: salvation at once, guidance unto our last hour, and then endless blessedness.
Should not each one seek this in youth, rejoice in it in middle life, and repose
in it in old age? This day let us look up for guidance before we trust ourselves
Confession of Sin
("Sermons" No. 113)
"And Judas said, I have sinned." Matthew 27:4
The REPENTANCE OF DESPAIR. Will you turn to the 27th chap. of Matthew, and the 4th
verse? There you have a dreadful case of the repentance of despair. You will recognize
the character the moment I read the verse:
"And Judas said, I have sinned."
Yes, Judas the traitor, who had betrayed his Master, when be saw that his Master
was condemned, "repented, and brought
again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have
sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood, and cast down the pieces in the temple,
and went" and what?– "and hanged himself." Here
is the worst kind of repentance of all; in fact, I know not that I am justified in
calling it repentance; it must be called remorse of conscience. But Judas did confess
his sin, and then went and hanged himself. Oh! that dreadful, that terrible, that
hideous confession of despair. Have you never seen it? If you never have, then
bless God that you never were called to see such a sight. I have seen it once in
my life, I pray God I may never see it again, – the repentance of the man who sees
death staring him in the face, and who says, "I have sinned." You tell
him that Christ has died for sinners; and he answers, "There is no hope for
me; I have cursed God to his face; I have defied him; my day of grace I know is past;
my conscience is seared with a hot iron; I am dying, and I know I shall be lost!"
Oh! my hearers, will any of you have such a repentance? If you do, it will be a beacon
to all persons who sin in future; if you have such a repentance as that, it will
be a warning to generations yet to come. In the life of Benjamin Keach–and he also
was once of my predecessors–I find the case of a man who had been a professor of
religion, but had departed from the profession, and had gone into awful sin. When
he came to die, Keach, with many other friends, went to see him, but they could never
stay with him above five minutes at a time; for he said, "Get ye gone; it is
of no use your coming to me; I have sinned away the Holy Ghost; I am like Esau, I
have sold my birthright, and though I seek it carefully with tears, I can never find
it again." And then he would repeat dreadful words, like these: `My mouth is
filled with gravel stones, and I drink wormwood day and night. Tell me not tell me
not of Christ! I know he is a Saviour, but I hate him and he hates me. I know I must
die; I know I must perish!" And then followed doleful cries, and hideous noises,
such as none could bear. They returned again in his placid moments only to stir him
up once more, and make him cry out in his despair, "I am lost ! I am lost !
It is of no use your telling me anything about it!" Ah! There may be a man
here who may have such a death as that; let me warn him, ere he come to it ; and
may God the Holy Spirit grant that that man may be turned unto God, and made a true
penitent, and then he need not have any more fear; for he who has had his sins washed
away in a Saviour's blood, need not have any remorse for his sins, for they are pardoned
through the Redeemer.
Consolation Proportionate to Spiritual Sufferings
("Sermons" No. 13)
"For as the sufferings of Christ abound
in us, so our
consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
2 Corinthians 1:5.
Christian in trouble, I have a word to say with thee. So my brother, thou
art in trouble; thou art come into the waves of affliction, art thou? No strange
thing, is it brother? Thou hast been there many times before. "Ah," but
sayest thou, "this is the worst I ever had. I have come up here this morning
with a millstone round my neck; I have a mine of lead in my heart: I am miserable,
I am unhappy, I am cast down exceedingly." Well, but brother, as thy troubles
abound, so shall thy consolation. Brother, hast thou hung thy harp upon the willows?
I am glad thou hast not broken the harp altogether. Better, to hang it on the willows
than to break it; be sure not to break it. Instead of being distressed about thy
trouble, rejoice in it; thou wilt then honor God, thou wilt glorify Christ, thou
wilt bring sinners to Jesus, if thou wilt sing in the depths of trouble, for then
they will say, "There must be something in religion after all, otherwise the
man would not be so happy."
Then one word with you who are almost driven to despair. I would stretch my
hands out, if I could, this morning – for I believe a preacher ought to be a Briareus,
with a thousand hands to fetch out his hearers one by one, and speak to them. There
is a man here quite despairing – almost every hope gone. Brother, shall I tell thee
what to do? Thou hast fallen off the main deck, thou art in the sea, the floods surround
thee; thou seemest to have no hope; thou catchest at straws; what shalt thou do now?
Do? why lie upon the sea of trouble, and float upon it; be still, and know that
God is God, and thou wilt never perish. All thy kicking and struggling will sink
thee deeper; but lie still, for behold the life-boat cometh; Christ is coming to
thy help; soon he will deliver thee, and fetch thee out of all thy perplexities.
Lastly, some of you have no interest in this sermon at all. I never try to deceive
my hearers by making them believe that all I say belongs to all who hear me. There
are different characters in God's word; it is yours to search your own hearts
this day, and see whether ye are God's people, or not. As the Lord liveth, before
whom I stand, there are two classes here. I do not own the distinction of aristocratic
and democratic; in my sight, and in God's sight, every man is alike. We are made
of one flesh and blood; we do not have china gentlemen and earthenware poor people;
we are all made of the same mould of fashion. There is one distinction, and only
one. Ye are all either the children of God, or children of the devil; ye are all
either born again, or dead in trespasses and sins. It is yours to let the question
ring in your ears: "Where am I? Is yon black tyrant, with his fiery sword, my
king; or do I own Jehovah-Jesus as my strength, my shield, my Saviour?"
I shall not force you to answer it; I shall not say anything to you about it. Only
answer it yourselves; let your hearts speak; let your souls speak. All I can do is
to propose the question. God apply it to your souls! I beseech him to send it home!
and make the arrow stick fast!
"Is Jesus mine! I am now prepared,
To meet with what I thought most hard;
Yes, let the winds of trouble blow,
And comforts melt away like snow,
No blasted trees, nor failing crops,
Can hinder my eternal hopes;
Tho' creatures change, the Lord's the same;
Then let me triumph in his name."
Why Remain Captive
"The LORD thy God will turn thy captivity" (Deuteronomy 30:3).
God's own people may sell themselves into captivity by sin. A very bitter
fruit is this, of an exceeding bitter root. What a bondage it is when the child of
God is sold under sin, held in chains by Satan, deprived of his liberty, robbed of
his power in prayer and his delight in the LORD! Let us watch that we come not into
such bondage; but if this has already happened to us, let us by no means despair.
But we cannot be held in slavery forever. The LORD Jesus has paid too high a price
for our redemption to leave us in the enemy's hand. The way to freedom is, "Return unto the LORD thy God." Where we first found salvation we shall find it again. At
the foot of Christ's cross, confessing sin, we shall find pardon and deliverance.
Moreover, the LORD will have us obey His voice according to all that He has
commanded us, and we must do this with all our heart and all our soul, and
then our captivity shall end.
The Character of Christ's People
("Sermons" No. 78)
"They are not of the world, even as
I am not of the world." John 17:16.
You have had at times deep sorrows. Thank God for them! They are testing moments.
When the furnace is hot, it is then that the gold is tried best. Have you felt at
such a time that you were not of the world? Or, have you rather sat down, and said,
"Oh! I do not deserve this trouble?" Did you break under it? Did you bow
down before it and let it crush you while you cursed your Maker? Or did your spirit,
even under its load, still lift itself unto him, like a man all dislocated on the
battle-field, whose limbs are cut away, but who still lifts himself up as best he
can, and looks over the field to see if there be a friend approaching. Did you do
so? Or did you lie down in desperation and despair? If you did that, methinks you
are no Christian; but if there was a rising up, it was a testing moment, and
it proved that you were "not of the world," because you could master affliction; because you could
tread it under foot, and say–
"When all created streams are dry,
His goodness is the same;
With this I well am satisfied,
And glory in his name."
Victory in Reverses
"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy:
when I fall, I shall arise;
when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a Light unto me" (Micah 7:8).
The insults of the foe are only for a moment. The LORD will soon turn their laughter
into lamentation and our sighing into singing. What if the great enemy of souls should
for a while triumph over us, as he has triumphed over better men than we are; yet
let us take heart, for we shall overcome him before long. We shall rise from our
fall, for our God has not fallen, and He will lift us up. We shall not abide
in darkness, although for the moment we sit in it; for our LORD is the fountain of
light, and He will soon bring us a joyful day. Let us not despair or even doubt.
("Sermons" No. 2260)
"He healeth the broken in heart,
and bindeth up their wounds." Psalm 147:3.
As for the broken-hearted ones themselves, they do not think that they ever can be
converted. Some of them are sure that they never can; they wish that they were
dead, though I do not see what they would gain by that. Others of them wish that
they had never been born, though that is a useless wish now. Some are ready to rush
after any new thing to try to find a little comfort; while others, getting worse
and worse, are sitting down in sullen despair. I wish that I knew who these were;
I should like to come round, and just say to them, "Come, brother; there must
be no doubting and no despair to-night, for my text is gloriously complete, and
is meant for you. "He healeth the
broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
Notice that fifth verse, "Great is our
LORD, and of great power; His understanding is infinite." Consequently, he can heal the broken in heart. God is glorious at
a dead lift. When a soul cannot stir, or help itself, God delights to come in with
his omnipotence, and lift the great load, and set the burdened one free.
It takes great wisdom to comfort a broken heart. If any of you have ever tried it,
I am sure you have not found it an easy task. I have given much of my life to this
work; and I always come away from a desponding one with a consciousness of my own
inability to comfort the heart-broken and cast-down. Only God can do it. Blessed
be his name that he has arranged that one Person of the Sacred Trinity should undertake
this office of Comforter; for no man could ever perform its duties. We might
as well hope to be the Saviour as to be the Comforter of the heart-broken. Efficiently
and completely to save or to comfort must be a work divine. That is why the Holy
Divine Spirit, healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds with infinite
power and unfailing skill.
God's High Places
"I will set him on high, because he hath
known My Name" (Psalm 91:14).
Does the LORD say this to me? Yes, if I have known His name. Blessed be the
LORD, I am no stranger to Him. I have tried Him, proved Him, and known Him, and
therefore do I trust Him. I know His name as a sin-hating God, for by His Spirit's
convincing power I have been taught that He will never wink at evil. But I also know
Him as the sin-pardoning God in Christ Jesus, for He has forgiven me all trespasses.
His name is faithfulness, and I know it, for He has never forsaken me though my troubles
have multiplied upon me.
This knowledge is a gift of grace, and the LORD makes it to be the reason
why He grants another grace-gift, namely, setting on high. This is grace upon
grace. Observe that if we climb on high, the position may be dangerous; but if the
LORD sets us there it is safe. He may raise us to great usefulness, to eminent
experience, to success in service, to leadership among workers, to a father's place
among the little ones. If He does not do this, He may set us on high by near fellowship,
clear insight, holy triumph, and gracious anticipation of eternal glory. When God
sets us on high, Satan himself cannot pull us down. Oh, that this may be our case
all through this day!
Faithful and Useful
"Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful
of the land, that they may dwell with Me:
he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve Me"
If David spoke thus, we may be sure that the Son of David will be of the same mind.
Jesus looks out for faithful men, and He fixes His eyes upon them, to observe them,
to bring them forward, to encourage them, and to reward them. Let no true-hearted
man think that he is overlooked; the King Himself has His eye upon him.
There are two results of this royal notice. First we read, "That they may dwell with me."
Jesus brings the faithful into His house, He sets them in His palace, He makes
them His companions, He delights in their society. We must be true to our LORD,
and He will then manifest Himself to us. When our faithfulness costs us most,
it will be best rewarded; the more furiously men reject, the more joyfully will our
LORD receive us.
Next, he says of the sincere man, "He
shall serve me." Jesus will use for
His own glory those who scorn the tricks of policy and are faithful to Himself, His
Word, and His cross. These shall be in His royal retinue, the honored servants
of His Majesty. Communion and usefulness are the wages of faithfulness. LORD make
me faithful that I may dwell with Thee and serve Thee.
"He that overcometh,
the same shall be clothed in white raiment"
Warrior of the cross, fight on! Never rest till thy victory is complete, for thine
eternal reward will prove worthy of a life of warfare.
See, here is perfect purity for thee! A few in Sardis kept their garments undefiled,
and their recompense is to be spotless. Perfect holiness is the prize
of our high calling; let us not miss it.
See, here is joy! Thou shalt wear holiday robes, such as men put on at wedding
feasts; thou shalt be clothed with gladness and be made bright with rejoicing.
Painful struggles shall end in peace of conscience and joy in the LORD.
See, here is victory! Thou shalt have thy triumph. Palm, and crown, and white robe
shall be thy guerdon; thou shalt be treated as a conqueror and owned as such by
the LORD Himself.
See, here is priestly array! Thou shalt stand before the LORD in such raiment as
the sons of Aaron wore; thou shalt offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving and draw
near unto the LORD with the incense of praise.
Who would not fight for a LORD who gives such large honors to the very least of His
faithful servants? Who would not be clothed in a fool's coat for Christ's sake, seeing
He will robe us with glory?
Burdens Cast on Him
"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He
shall sustain thee;
He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Psalm
It is a heavy burden; roll it on Omnipotence. It is thy burden now, and it
crushes thee; but when the LORD takes it, He will make nothing of it. If thou art
called still to bear, "he will sustain
thee." It will be on Him and not on
thee. Thou wilt be so upheld under it that the burden will be a blessing. Bring
the LORD into the matter, and thou wilt stand upright under that which in itself
would bow thee down.
Our worst fear is lest our trial should drive us from the path of duty; but this
the LORD will never suffer. If we are righteous before Him, He will not endure that
our affliction should move us from our standing. In Jesus He accepts us as righteous,
and in Jesus He will keep us so.
What about the present moment? Art thou going forth to this day's trial alone? Are
thy poor shoulders again to be galled with the oppressive load? Be not so foolish.
Tell the LORD all about thy grief and leave it with Him. Don't cast your burden
down and then take it up again; but roll it on the LORD and leave it there.
Then shalt thou walk at large, a joyful and unburdened believer, singing the praises
of thy great Burden-bearer.
His Love; His Gift; His Son
"For God so loved the world,
that He gave His Only Begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
but have Everlasting Life" (John 3:16).
Of all the stars in the sky, the polestar is the most useful to the mariner. This
text is a polestar, for it has guided more souls to salvation than any other Scripture.
It is among promises what the Great Bear is among constellations.
Several words in it shine with peculiar brilliance. Here we have God's love with
to it, which marks its measureless greatness. Then we have God's gift in all
its freeness and greatness. This also is God's Son, that unique and priceless
gift of a love which could never fully show itself till heaven's Only-begotten had
been sent to live and die for men. These three points are full of light.
Then there is the simple requirement of believing, which graciously points to
a way of salvation suitable for guilty men. This is backed by a wide description
-- "whosoever believeth in Him." Many have found room in "whosoever" who would have felt themselves shut out by a narrower word.
Then comes the great promise, that believers in Jesus shall not perish but have
everlasting life. This is cheering to every man who feels that he is ready to
perish and that he cannot save himself. We believe in the LORD Jesus, and we have
"Come, ye blessed."
Coming Judgment of the Secrets of Men
("Sermons" No. 1849)
"The day when God shall judge the secrets
of men by Jesus Christ." Romans 2:16.
God shall judge us by Jesus Christ, that the judgment may be indisputable.
But harken well—for I speak with a great weight upon my soul—this judgment by Jesus
Christ, puts beyond possibility all hope of any after-interposition. If the Saviour
condemns, and such a Saviour, who can plead for us? If your Saviour shall become
your judge you will be judged indeed. If he shall say, "Depart, ye cursed,"
who can call you back? If he that bled to save men at last comes to this conclusion,
that there is no more to be done, but they must be driven from his presence, then
farewell hope. To the guilty the judgment will indeed be a "Great day of
dread, decision, and despair." An infinite horror shall seize upon their spirits
as the words of the loving Christ shall freeze their very marrow, and fix them in
the ice of eternal despair. There is, to my mind, a climax of solemnity in the fact
that God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.
Does not this also show how certain the sentence will be? for this Christ of God
is too much in earnest to play with men. If he says, "Come, ye blessed,"
he will not fail to bring them to their inheritance. If he be driven to say, "Depart, ye cursed," he will see it done, and into the everlasting punishment they
must go. Even when it cost him his life he did not draw back from doing the will
of his Father, nor will he shrink in that day when he shall pronounce the sentence
of doom. Oh, how evil must sin be since it constrains the tender Saviour to pronounce
sentence of eternal woe! I am sure that many of us have been driven of late to
an increased hatred of sin; our souls have recoiled within us because of the wickedness
among which we dwell; it has made us feel as if we would fain borrow the Almighty's
thunderbolts with which to smite iniquity. Such haste on our part may not be seemly,
since it implies a complaint against divine long-suffering; but Christ's dealing
with evil will be calm and dispassionate, and all the more crushing. Jesus, with
his pierced hand, that bears the attestation of his supreme love to men, shall wave
the impenitent away; and those lips which bade the weary rest in him shall solemnly
say to the wicked, "Depart, ye
cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." To be trampled beneath the foot which was nailed to
the cross will be to be crushed indeed: yet so it is, God shall judge the secrets
of men by Jesus Christ.
It seems to me as if God in this intended to give a display of the unity of all his
perfections. In this same man, Christ Jesus, the Son of God, you behold justice
and love, mercy and righteousness, combined in equal measure. He turns to the
right, and says, "Come, ye blessed," with infinite suavity; and with the same lip, as he glances
to the left, he says, "Depart, ye cursed." Men will then see at one glance how love and righteousness
are one, and how they meet in equal splendour in the person of the Well-beloved,
whom God has therefore chosen to be Judge of quick and dead.
C. H. Spurgeon
Section Sub-Index for Spurgeon: Voices