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with a sense of sin, 'tis he that has done it. Look to him. Rest your soul upon him. There is nothing to prevent any broken-hearted sinner from coming to him. He will never cast out any that come to him, nor suffer anything to separate them from him in time or eternity.
“ The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
He will not, he will not give up to his foes ;
I must now, warned by the time, most unwillingly bring my observations to a close. I have spoken to you of Christ. I have told you that he “is all and in all.” I have told you that there is a real union between him and the believer. I have given you the marks by which you may know whether he is all to you.
O if there be any of you here anxious to know him, whom to know is life eternal, remember, Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” “I nm the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." “ Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again : but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John iv. 13, 14.) May God the eternal Spirit pour out his grace richly upon you. May he be all to you, and may he be in you all. May he write this sweet portion upon your arts and mine, “ Christ is all, and in all."
And now unto the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one Triune God be ascribed all the praise, power, dominion, and glory for ever and ever. The service was closed with prayer and the benediction.
“AS THY DAYS, SO SHALL THY STRENGTH BE."
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, AUGUST 22, 1858, BY
BELOVED, it seems a sad thing that every day must die and be followed by a night. When we have seen the hills clad with verdure to their summit, and the seas laving their base with a silver glory; when we have stretched our eye far away, and have seen the widening prospect full of loveliness and beauty, we have felt sad that the sunlight should ever set upon such a scene, and that so much beauty should be shrouded in the oblivion of darkness. But how much reason have we to bless God for nights! for if it were not for nights how much of beauty never would be discovered. Never should I have considered the heavens, the work of thy fingers, O my God, if thou hadst not first covered the sun with a thick mantle of darkness: the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, had never been bright in mine eyes, if thou hadst not hidden the light of the sun and bidden him retire within the curtains of the west. Night seems to be the great friend of the stars: they must be all unseen by eyes of men, were they not set in the foil of darkness. It is even so with winter. We might feel sad, that all the flowers of summer must die, and all the fruits of autumn must be gathered into their store-house, that every tree must be stripped, and that all the fields must lose their fair flowers. But were it not for winter we should never see the glistening crystals of the snow; we should never behold the beauteous festoons of the icicles that hang from the eaves. Much of God's marvellous miracles of hoar frost must have been hidden from us, if it had not been for the cold chill of winter, which, when it robs us of one beauty, gives us another, when it takes away the emerald of verdure, it gives us the diamond of icewhen it casts from us the bright rubies of the flowers, it gives us the fair, white ermine of snow. Well now, translate those two ideas, and you will see why it is that even our sin, our lost and ruined estate, has been made the means, in the hand of God, of manifesting to us the excellencies of his character. My dear friends, if you and I had been without trouble, we never could have had such a promise as this given to us:-“ As thy days, so shall thy strength be." It is our weakness that has made room for God to give us such a promise as this. Our sins make room for a Saviour; our frailties make room for the Holy Spirit to correct them; all our wanderings make room for the good Shepherd, that he may seek us and bring us back. We do not love nights, but we do love stars; we do not love weakness, but we do bless God for the promise that is to sustain us in our weakness; we do not admire winter, but we do admire the glittering snow; we must shudder at our own trembling weakness, bụt we still do bless God that we are weak because it makes room for the display of his own invincible strength in fulfilling such a promise as this.
In addressing you this morning, I shall first have to notice the self-weakness which is implied in our text ; secondly, I shall come to the great promise of the text; and then I shall try and draw one or two inferences from it, ere I conclude.
I. First, the SELF-WEAKNESS HINTED AT IN THE TEXT. To keep to my figure. if this promise be like a, star, you know there is no seeing the stars in the daytime when we stand here upon the upper land; we must go down a deep well, and then we shall be able to discover them. Now, beloved, as this is day-time with our hearts, it will be necessary for us to go down the deep well of old recollections of our past trials and troubles. We must first get a good fair idea of the great depth of our own weakness, before we shall be able to behold the brightness of this rich and exceeding precious promise. A self-sufficient man can po more understand this promise, than & coal beaver can understand Greek: he has never been in a position in which to understand it; he has never learned his own need of another's strength, and therefore he cannot possibly understand the value of a promise which consists in giving to us a strength beyond our own. Let us for a few minutes consider our own weakness.
Ye children of God, have ye not proved your own weakness in the day of duty ? The Lord has spoken to you, and he has said, “Son of man, run, and do such and such a thing which I bid thee;" and you have gone to do it, but as you have been upon your way, a sense of great responsibility has bowed you down, and you have been ready to turn back even at the outset, and to cry, “ Send by whomsoever thou wilt send, but not by me.” Reinforced by strength, you have gone to the duty, but while performing it, you have at times felt your hands hanging exceeding heavy, and you have had to look up many a time and cry, “ O Lord, give me more strength, for without thy strength this work must be unaccomplished; I cannot perform it myself.” And when the work has been done, and you have looked back upon it, you have either been filled with amazement that it should have been done at all by go poor and weak a worm as yourself, or else you have been overcome with horror because you have been afraid the work was marred, like the vessel on the potter's wheel, by reason of your own want of skilfulness. I confess in my own position, I have a thousand causes to confess my own weakness every day. In preparing for the pulpit how often do we discover our weakness when a hundred texts exhibit themselves, and we know not which to choose; and when we have selected our subject, distracting thoughts come in, and when we would concentrate our minds upon some holy topic, we find they are carried hither and thither, driven about like the minds of children by every wind of thought. And when we bow our knees to seek the Lord's help before we preach, how often does our tongue refuse to give utterrance to the earnestness of our hearts. And alas! how frequently too is our heart cold when we are about to enter upon an occupation which requires the heart to be hot like a furnace, and the lip to be burning like a live coal." Here in this pulpit I have often learned my weakness, when words have fled from me, and thoughts have departed too, and when that seal which I thought would have poured itself forth like a cataract, has trickled forth in unwilling drops like a sullen stream, the source of which doth almost fail, and which seemeth itself as if it longed to be dried up and dead. And after preaching, how have I cast myself upon my bed, and tossed to and fro, groaning because I thought I had failed to deliver my message, and had not preached my Master's Word as my Master would have me preach it. All of you, in your own callings, I dare say, have had enough to prove that. I do not believe a Christian man can examine himself without finding every day that weakness is proven even in the doing of his duty. Your shop, however small, will be enough to prove to you your weakness; your business, however little, your cares, however light, your family, however small, will furnish you with enough proofs of the fact: "Without me ye can do nothing;" "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
But, beloved, we prove our weakness, perhaps more visibly, when we come into the day of suffering. There it is that we are weak indeed. I have sat by the side of those who have been exceedingly sick, and have marked their patience; but I do not know that I ever wondered at the patience of a sick man so much as I do when I am sick myself: then patience is an extraordinary virtue. Women suffer, and suffer well; but I do think there are very few men who could bear the tithe of the suffering that many women endure, without exhibiting a hundred times as much impatience. Most of us who are gifted with strong constitutions, and have but little of sickness, have to chasten ourselves, that what little sickness we have to contend with is borne with so little resignation and with so much impatience; that we are so ready to repine, so prepared to bow our heads and wish we were dead, because a little pain is rending our body. Here it is that we prove our weakness indeed. Ah! people of God, it is one thing to talk about the furnace; it is another thing to be in it. It is one thing to look at the doctor's knife, but quite another thing to feel it. You will find it one thing to sip the cup of medicine, but quite another thing to lie in bed a dreary week or month, and to drink on, and on, and on, of that nauseating draught. When you are on dry land, most of you are good sailors; out at sea you are vastly different. There is many a man who makes a wonderfully brave soldier till he gets into the battle, and then he wishes himself miles away, and except his spurs there is no weapon he can use with much advantage. That man has never been sick who does not know his weakness, his want of patience, and of endurance.
Again, beloved, there is another thing which will very soon prove our weakness, if neither duty nor suffering will do it-namely, progress. You sit down to-morrow and you read the life of some eminent servant of God: perhaps the life of David Brainard, and how he gave up his life for his Master in the wilderness; or the heroic life of Henry Martin, and how he sacrificed all for Christ: and as you read you say within yourself, “I will endeavour to be like this man; I will seek to have his faith, his self-denial, his love to never-dying souls.” Try and get them, beloved, and you will soon find your own weakness. I have sometimes thought I would try to have more faith, but I have found it very hard to kee as much as I had. I have thought, “I will love my Saviour more," and it was right that I should strive to do so; but when I sought to love him more I found that perhaps I was going backward instead of forward. How often do we find out our weakness when God answers our prayers!
" I ask'd the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
And seek more earnestly his face.
At once he'd answer my request,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
The hidden evils of my heart,
Assault my soul in every part.
*Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?'
*I answer prayer for grace and faith.'” That is, the Lord helps us to grow downward when we are only thinking about growing upward. Let any of you try to grow in grace, and seek to run the heavenly race, and make a little progress, and you will soon find, in such a slippery road as that which we have to travel, that it is very hard to go one step forward, though remarkably easy to go a great many steps backward.
It neither of these three things will prove thy weakness, Christian, I will advise thee to try another. See what thou art in temptation. I have seen a tree in the forest that seemed to stand fast like a rock; I have stood beneath its widespreading branches, and have sought to shake its trunk, to see if I could, but it stood immovable. The sun shone upon it, and the rain descended, and many a winter's frost sprinkled its boughs with snow, but it still stood fast and firm. But one night there came a howling wind which swept through the forest, and the tree that seemed to stand so fast lay stretched along the ground, its gaunt arms which once were lifted up to heavenlying hopelessly broken, and the trunk snapped in twain. And so have I seen many a professor strong and mighty, and nothing seemed to move him; but I have seen the wind persecution and temptation come against him, and I have heard him creak with murmuring, and at last have seen him break in apostasy, and he has lain along the ground a mournful specimen of what every man must become who maketh not the Lord his strength, and who relieth not upon the Most High. “Ah!” says one, “ I do not believe I could be tempted to sin.” My friend, it depends upon what kind of temptation it should be. " here are many of us here who could not be tempted to drunkenness, and others who could not be tempted to lust. If the devil should set before some of you cups of the richest wines that ever came from the vintages of Burgundy or of Xeres, you would not care for them, if you did but sip them it would suffice you: it would be in vain to tempt you with the drunkard's song; nothing could induce you to lose your equilibrium by infoxicating liquors; but perhaps you are the very man whom a temptation of lust might overthrow. While there be other men whom neither lust nor wine can overcome, who may be led by a prospect of profit into that which is dishonest; and others again, whom neither profit, nor lust, nor wine, would turn aside, may be overthrown by anger, or envy, or malice. We have all our tender points. When Thetis dipped Achilles in the Styx, you remember she held him by the heel; he was made invulnerable wherever the water touched him, but his heel not being covered with the water, was vulnerable, and there Paris shot his arrow, and he died. It is even so with us. We may think that we are covered with virtug till we are totally invulnerable, but we have a heel somewhere; there is a place where the arrow of the devil can make way: hence the absolute necessity of taking to ourselves “the whole armour of God,” so that there may not be a solitary joint in the harness that shall be unprotected against the arrows of the devil. Satan is very crafty; he knows the ins and outs of manhood. There is many an old castle that has stood against every attack, but at last some traitor from within has gone without, and said " I know an old deserted passage, a subterranean back way, that has not been used for many a-day. In such and such a field you will see an opening; clear away & heap of stones there, and I will lead you down the passage: you will then come to an old door, of which I have the key and I can let you in; and so by a back way I can lead you into the very heart of the citadel, which you may then easily capture.” It is so with Satan. Man knoweth not himself so well as Satan knows him. There are back ways and subterranean passages into man's heart which the devil doth well understand; and he who thinketh that he is safe, let him take heed lest he fall. That is not a bad hymn of Dr. Watts, after all, where he tells us that Samson was very strong while he wore his hair, but
“ Samson, when his hair was lost,
Met the Philistines to his cost:
Made feeble fight, and lost his eyes." The reason was, because there was a back way into Samson's heart. The Philistines could not overcome him: “Heaps upon heaps, with the jaw-bone of an ass, have I slain a thousand men.” Come on, Philistines, he will rend you in pieces as he did the young lion; bind him with green writhes, and he will snap them as tow; weave his locks with a weaver's beam, and he will carry away, loom and all, and go out like a giant refreshed with new wine. But, O Delilah, he hath a back way to his heart; thou hast found it out, and now thou canst overthrow him. Tremble, for ye may yet be overcome! Ye are as weak as water if God shall leave you alone.
Now, I think, if we have well surveyed these different points of our moral standing on earth, every child of God will be ready to confess that he is weak. I imagine there may be some of you ready to say, "Sir, I am nothing." Then I shall reply, “Ah! you are a young Christian." There will be others of you who will say, “Sir, I am less than nothing." And I shall say, “ Ah! you are an old Christian;" for the older Christians get, the less they become in their own esteem, the more they feel their own weakness, and the more entirely they rely upon the strength of God.
II. Having thus dwelt upon the first point, we shall now come to the secondThe Great PROMISE,—“As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
In the first place, this is a well-guaranteed promise. A promise is nothing unless I have good security that it shall be fulfilled. It is in vain for men to promise largely unless their fulfilment shall be as large as their promise, for the largeness of their promise is just the largeness of deception. But here every word of God is true. "God has issued no more notes for the bank of heaven than he can cash in an hour if he wills. There is enough bullion in the vaults of Omnipotence to pay off every bill that ever shall be drawn by the faith of man or the promises of God.