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Now look at this one-"As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Beloved, God has a strong reserve with which to pay off this promise; for is he not himself omnipotent, able to do all things? Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Until thine enemy can stop the course of a whirlwind with a reed, till he can twist the hurricane from its path by a word of his puny lip, thou needest not think that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the strength which is in thee, namely, the strength of God. Whilst the earth's huge pillars stand, thou hast enough to make thy faith firm. The same God who guides the stars in their courses, who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and keeps the stars perpetually burning with their fires—the same God has promised to supply thy strength. While he is able to do all these things, think not that he shall be unable to fulfil his own promise. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Do you not see him in the black eternity? When there was nothing but grim darkness, there he stood—the mighty Artificer: upon the anvil there he cast a hot mass of flame, and hammering it with his own ponderous arm, each spark that flew from it made a world; there those sparks are glittering now, the offspring of the anvil of the eternal purposes, and the hammer of his own majestic might. And shall he, that created the world, grow weary? Shall he fail? Shall he break his promises for want of strength? He hangeth the world upon nothing; he fixed the pillars of heaven in silver sockets of light, and thereon he hung the golden lamps, the sun and the moon; and shall he that did all this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power in his arm or strength in his will ? Remember again, thy God, who has promised to be thy strength, is the God who upholdeth all things by the word of his hand. Who feedeth the ravens? Who supplies the lions? Doth not he do it? And how? He openeth his hand and supplieth the want of every living thing. He has to do nothing more than simply to open his hand. Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he say that he rides upon the wings of the wind, that he maketh the clouds his chariots, and holds the water in the hollow of his hand? Shall he fail thee? When he has put such a promise as this on record, shalt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has out-promised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil? Ah! no. Who was it that cut Rahab in pieces, and wounded the dragon? Who divided the Red Sea, and made the waters thereof stand upright as a heap? Who led the people through the wilderness? Who was it that did cast Pharoah into the depths of the sea, his chosen captains also, in the depth of the Red Sea? Who rained fire and brimstone out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah? Who chased out the Canaanite with the hornet, and made a way of escape for his people Israel? Who was it that brought them again from their captivity, and did settle them again in their own land? Who is he that hath put down kings, yea and slew mighty kings, that he might make room for his people wherein they might dwell in a quiet habitation? Hath not the Lord done it: and is his arm shortened that he cannot save: or is his ear heavy that he cannot hear? O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the unlimitable storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied or rifled by the enemy. It is, then, a well guaranteed promise.
But now I want you to notice it is a limited promise. “ What !" says one, "limited! Why it says, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.'” Ay, it is limited. I know it is unlimited in our troubles, but still it is limited. First, it says our strength is to be as our days are ; it does not say our strength is to be as our desires are. Oh! how often have we thought, “ How I wish I were as strong as so and so "-one who had a great deal of faith. Ah! but then you would have rather more faith than you wanted ; and what would be the good of that? It would be like the manna the children of Israel had—if they did not eat it in the day it bred worms and stank. “Still,” says one, “if I had faith like so-and-so, I think I should do wonders.” Yes, but you would get the glory of them. That is why God does not let you have the faith, because he does not want you to do wonders. That is reserved for God, not for you,—" He only doeth wondrous things." Once more, it does not say, our strength shall be as our fears. God often leaves us to shift alone with our fears, - never with our troubles. Many of God's people have a manufactory at the back of their houses in which they manufacture troubles ; and home-made troubles, like other home-made things, last a very long while, and generally fit very comfortably. Troubles of God's sending are always suitable—the right sort for our backs ; but those that we make are of the wrong sort, and they always last us longer than God's. I have known an old lady sit and fret because she believed she should die in a workhouse, and she wanted God to give her grace accordingly; but what would have been the good of that, because the Lord meant that she should die in her own quiet bedroom ? I have heard of and known men who, being sick, believed they were dying, and wanted grace to die complacently ; but God would not give it because he intended them to live, and why should he give them dying grace till they came to die? And we have known others who said they wanted grade to endure many troubles which they expected to come upon them. They were going to fail in a fortnight or so, but they did not fail, and it was no wonder they had not grace given to carry them through it, because they did not require it. The promise is “ As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” " When your vessel gets empty then will I fill it ; I will not give you any extra, over and above. When you are weak then I will make you strong; but I will not give you any extra strength to lay by : strength enough to bear your sufferings, and to do your duty; but no strength to play at matches with your brethren and sisters in order to get the glory to yourselves." Oh ! if we had strength according to our wishes we should soon all of us be like Jeshurun,-wax fat, and begin to kick against the Most High. Then again, there is another limit. It says, “ As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” It does not say, “as thy weeks,” or “ months,” but “as thy days.” You are not going to have Monday's grace given you on a Sunday, nor Tuesday's grace on a Monday. You shall have Monday's grace given you on Monday morning as soon as you rise and want it, you shall not have it given you on Saturday night ; you shall bave it “ day by day”—no more than you want, no less than you want. I do not believe God's people are to be trusted with a week's grace all at once. They are like many of our London workman : they get their wages on Saturday night, and then the rascals go and have Saint Monday and Saint Tuesday, and never do a stroke of work till Wednesday, when they go to the pawnbrokers with their tools to help them over till the next Saturday night. Now, I think God's children would do the same. If they had grace given them on Saturday to last them all through the week, I question whether the devil would not get a good deal of it,—whether they would not be pawning some of their old evidences betore the week was out, in order to live upon them : spending all their grace on Monday and Tuesday, spending very much of their strength in indulging in pride and boasting, instead ot walking humbly with their God. No ; "as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
Now, having said that the promise is limited, perhaps I am bound to add-what an extensive promise this is! ** As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Some days are very little things; in our pocket book we have very little to put down, for there was nothing done of any importance. But some days are very big days. Ah! I have known a big day-a day of great duties, when great things had to be done for God—too great, it seemed, for one man to do; and when, great duty was but half done there came great trouble, such as my poor heart had never felt before.
Oh! what a great day it was! there was a night of lamentation in this place, and the cry of weeping, and of mourning, and of death. Ah! but blessed be God's name, though the day was big with tempest, and though it swelled with horror, yet as that day was, só was God's strength. Look at poor Job. What a great day he had once! “ Master," says one, " The oxen were ploughing, and the asses teeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them away." In comes another, and he says, “ The fire of God hath fallen on the sheep." “Oh," says another, “the Chaldeans have fallen upon the camels and taken them away, and I, only I, am left to tell thee." Still, you see, grace kept growing with the day. Still strength grew as the trouble grew. At last comes the back stroke: "A great wind came from the wilderness, and smote the house where thy sons and daughters were feasting, and they are dead, and I, only I, am left to tell thee.” Grace still kept growing, and at last the grace did overflow the trouble, and the poor old patriarch cried, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Ah! Job, that was a big day indeed, and it was big grace that went with that big day. Satan sometimes blows up our days with his black breath till they grow to such a cursed height that we know not how great the days must
be. Our head whirls at the thought of passing through such a sea of trouble in so short a space of time. But oh! how sweet it is to think that the bed of grace is never shorter than a man can stretch himself upon it; nor is the covering of Almighty love ever shorter than that it may cover us. We never need be afraid. If our troubles should become high as mountains. God's grace would become like Noah's flood: it would go twenty cubits higher till the mountains were covered. If God should send to you and to me a day such as there was uone like it, neither should be any more, he would send us strength such as there was none like it, neither should there be any more. Do you see Martin Luther riding into Worms? There is a solitary monk going before a great council: he knows they will burn him ;. did not they burn John Huss, and Jirome of Prague? Both those men had a safe conduct, and it was violated, and they were put to death by Papists, who said that no faith was to be kept with heretics. Luther placed very little reliance on his safe conduct; and you would have expected as he rode into Worms, that he would have a dejected countenance. Not so. No sooner does he catch sight of Worms, than some one advises him not to go into the city. Said he, “ If there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs of the houses, I would enter.” And he does ride in. He goes to the inn, and eats his bread and drinks his beer, as complacently as if he were at his own fire-side; and then he goes quietly to bed. When summoned before the council, and asked to retract his opinion, he does not want time to consider, or debate about it; but he says, " These things that I have written are the truth of God, and by them will I stand till I die; so help me God?” The whole assembly trembles, but there is not a flush upon the cheek of the brave monk, nor do his knees knock together. He is in the midst of armed men, and those that seek bis blood. There sit fierce cardinals and bloodthirsty bishops, and the Pope's legate; like spiders longing to suck his blood. He cares for none of them; he walks away, and is confident that “God is his refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” “Ah! but," you say, “I could not do that.” Yes you could, if God called you to it. Any child of God can do what any other child of God has done, if God gives him the strength. You could not do what you are doing even now, without God's strength; and you could do ten thousand times more, if he should be pleased to fill you with his might. What an expansive promise this is!
Once more, what a varying promise it is! I do not mean that the promise varies, but adapts itself to all our changes. “ As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Here is a fine sunshiny morning; all the world is laughing; everything looks glad; the birds are singing, the trees seem to be all alive with music. “My strength shall be as my day is,” says the pilgrim. Ah! pilgrim, there is a little black cloud gathering. Soon it increases; the flash of lightning wounds the heaven, and it begins to bleed in showers. Pilgrim, “ As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” The birds have done singing, and the world has done laughing; but “as thy days, so shall thy strength be." Now the dark night comes on, and another day approaches -a day of tempest, and whirlwind, and storm. Dost thou tremble, pilgrim?" As thy days, so shall thy strength be." But there are robbers in the wood.”—“As thy days, so shall thy strength be." “But there are lions wbich shall devour me."
-“ As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” “But there are rivers: how shall I swim them?" Here is a boat to carry thee over: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be." “But there are fires: how shall I pass through them?” Here is the garment that will protect thee: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be." " But there are arrows that fly by day.” Here is thy shield: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” “But there is the pestilence that walketh in darkness." " Here is thy antidote: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Wherever you may be, and whatever trouble awaits you, “ As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Children of God, cannot you say that this has been true hitherto? ļ can. It might seem egotistical if I were to talk of the evidence I have received of this during the past week, but nevertheless I cannot help recording my praise to God. I left this pulpit last Sunday as sick as any man ever left the pulpit, and I left this country too as ill as I could be; but no sooner had I set my foot upon the other shore, where I was to preach the gospel, than my wonted strength entirely returned to me. I had no sooner buckled on the harness to go forth and fight my Master's battle, than every ache and pain was gone, and all my sickness fled; and as my day was, so certainly was my strength. I beliere if I were lying upon a dying couch, if God called me to preach in America, and I had but faith to be carried down to the boat, I should have strength given me, though I seemed to be dying, to minister is the Lord had appointed me. And so would each of you, wherever you might be, find that as your day was, so your strength should be.
And, in conclusion, what a long promise this is ! You may live till you are never so old, but this promise will outlive you. When thou comest into the depths of the river Jordan, “as thy days, so shall thy strength be ;" thou shalt have confidence to face the last grim tyrant, and grace to smile even in the jaws of the grave. And when thou shalt rise again in the terrible morning of the resurrection, “ as thy days, so shall thy strength be:” though the earth be reeling with dismay thou shalt know no fear ; though the heavens are tottering with contusion thou shalt know no trouble. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” And when thou shalt see God face to face, though thy weakness were enough to make thee die, thou shalt have strength to bear the beatific vision : thou shalt see him face to face, and thou shalt live ; thou shalt lie in the bosom of thy God ; immortalized and made full of strength, thou shalt be able to bear even the brightness of the Most High.
III. What INFERENCE shall I draw except this? Children of the living God, be rid of your doubts, be rid of your trouble and your fear. Young Christians, do not be afraid to set forward on the heavenly race. You bashful Christians, that, like Nicodemus, are ashamed to come out and make an open profession, don't be afraid, “ As your day is, so shall your strength be.” Why need you fear? You are afraid of disgracing your profession, you shall not ; your day shall never be more troublesome, or more full of temptation, than your strength shall be full of deliverance.
And as for you that have not God to be yours, I must draw one inference for you. Your strength is decaying. You are growing old, and your old age will not be like your youth, You have strength-strength which you prostitute to the cause of Satan, which you ,misuse in the service of the devil. When you grow old, as you will do, unless your wickedness shall bring you to an early grave; they that look out of the windows must be darkened, and the grasshopper must be a burden to you; and your strength shall not be as your day. And when you come to die, as die you must, then you shall have no strength to die with; you must die alone; vou must hear yon iron gates creak on their hinges, and no guardian angel to comfort you as you go through the dreary vault. And you must stand at God's great bar at the day of resurrection, and no one to strengthen you there. How will your cheek blanch with terror! How will your soul be affrighted with horror when you shall hear it said, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell, prepared for the devil and his angels.” You have no such promise as this to cheer you onward, but you have this to drive you to despair: your days shall become heavier, but your strength shall become lighter; your sorrows shall be multiplied, and your joys shall be diminished; your days shall shorten, and your nights shall lengthen; your summers shall become dinner, and your winters shall become blacker; all your hopes shall die, and your fears shall live. Ye shall reap the harvest of your sins in the dreadful vintage of eternal wrath. May God give us all grace, so that when days and years are past, we all may meet in heaven. There are some people here that I have seen a great many times, and I thought they would have been converted before now. I ask them one question, (there are some of them whom I sincerely respect) and it is this-what will you do in the swellings of Jordan? When death shall get hold upon you? What what will you do then? May God help you to answer, and prepare to meet him!
THE DEEPNESS OF GOD'S THOUGHTS.
PREACHED ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 11, 1857,
IN THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. PAUL, LONDON.
"O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep."-Psalm. xcii. 5.
In a time of national calamity like the present, my brethren, when the hearts of many are failing them for fear, and even the most sanguine and hopeful spirits are looking with deep anxiety to the things which are coming on the earth, there are two subjects suggested by the few brief but emphatic words of the text, which ought now especially to be considered in their connection, however at ordinary times they may be profitably contemplated apart. One is the greatness of God in his works, the other the deepness of God in his thoughts. We behold the former of these in the natural creation; we discern the other in the moral government and providential administration of the universe. As for the former, in what direction can we look, without reading the greatness of God in his works? We see it in every page of the vast and wondrous book of nature; we see it in the sun which lightens all creation into beauty, and quickens all earth into verdure and vegetation—iv the moon that walks in brightness, and the stars that overspread the sky—in the great wide sea, with the innumerable myriads of living things that people it-in the stately mountains capped with snow, and the smiling valleys that stand thick with corn, and last in date, but first in excellence, in the wonderful and fearful mechanism of man. But as to the latter, as to the deepness of God's thoughts, his secrecy in council, as well as his wondrousness in working, we trace it not only through the records of the departed, but in events continually in the course of development around us, which distance and baffle all calculation—in contradictions which we cannot reconcile, as well as in mysteries which we cannot explore. We trace the deepness of God's thoughts in the humiliation of the lofty, in the exaltation of the lowly, and also in the prosperity of the wicked, in the adversity of the righteous, in the slaughter of the