Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 10, 1856, by the
"The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."Psalm 34:10.
IGHT truly did Paul say, "Whereby he hath given unto us exceeding great and precious promises;" for surely this promise is exceeding great indeed. In the entire compass of God's holy word, there is not to be found a precious declaration which can excel this in sweetness; for how could God promise to use more than all things? how could even his infinite benevolence stretch the line of his grace farther than it hath gone in this verse of the psalm?"They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." There is here no reserve; nothing is kept back; there is no solitary word of exception. There is no codicil in this will striking off the smallest portion of the estate; there is no caveat put in to warn us that there are domains upon which we must not intrude; a large field is laid before the children of God; a wide door is open, and no man can shut it. "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
My Jesu's blood's my full discharge."
You will find that he has not left off seeking the Lord. No; he seeks now to know more of him; he seeks to understand more of the heights and depths, and lengths, and breadths of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. I ask any one here who has an assurance that he is a pardoned man, thoroughly justified and complete in Christare you not seeking the Lord? "Oh yes," you say, "I thirst, I long to know more of him; I feel that all I have ever known of him is like the whispering of the sea in the shell, while the awful roar of the sea itself has not yet reached mine ears. I have heard the whisperings of Christ in some little mercy, and I have heard his bounties sing of bottomless, eternal, unchangeable love; but oh! I long to plunge into the sea itself, to bathe myself in the broad ocean of his infinite generosity and love to me." No Christian ever fancies that he knows enough of his Master; there is no Christian who has found the Lord who does not desire to be better acquainted with him. "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," is the cry of the man who has had his sins forgiven. He sitteth down at the feet of Jesus, and looketh up to him, and saith, "Master, teach me more; I am a little child; thou art a great instructor; oh! I long to love and learn more of thee." He is ever seeking the Lord; and, in this more advanced stage, the promise to him is, "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
But go a little further on, when the Christian has scarcely ever a shadow of a doubt of his acceptance; he has progressed so far in spiritual life that he has attained to the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus; his faith has become so confident, that
Than solid rocks when billows roar."
He can read his "title clear to mansions in the skies;" he has climbed the Delectable Mountain; his feet are standing fast upon a rock, and his goings are established; but even then he is seeking the Lord. In the highest flights of his assurance, on the topmost pinnacle of his faith, there is something yet beyond. When he had sailed farthest into the sea of Acceptance, there are Fortunate Isles that he hath not reached; there is an ultima thule, a distant land, that he hath not yet seen. He is still seeking the Lord; he feels that he has "not yet attained;" he is still "pressing forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." But then he seeks the Lord in a different fashion; he seeks him that he may put a crown on his head; he is not seeking him for mercy, but to give him praise. Oh, that my heart could find thee! that all its strings might sing sweet music to thee. Oh that my mouth could find thine ear, and that I might bid it open and listen to the whisper of my song. Oh that I knew where thou didst dwell, that I might sing hard by the eaves of thy habitation, and that thou mightest hear me everthat I might perpetually send the songs of my gratitude up to thy sacred courts? I seek thee that I may break the alabaster box of praise on thy dear sacred head. I seek thee that I may put my soul upon the altar, and sacrifice my living self to thee. I seek thee, that I may go where cherubim are singing, whom I envy, because they
High praises to the Eternal King."
I will seek thee in business, that there I may adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour in all things. I will seek thee in my songs that I may hymn thy praise. I will seek thee in my musings, that I may magnify the Lord in my thoughts. I will seek thee in my words, that my conversation may show forth thy praise. I will seek thee in my gifts of benevolence, that I may be like my Saviour. I will seek thee ever, for enough I have attained to know that I am thine and thou art mine, though I have nought else to ask of thee, seeing thou hast given me thyself; though thou art
My kinsman near allied by blood,"
though now my soul stands perfect in thee, and
Can on my soul be found,"
yet still I will seek thee-seek to honor thee-seek to kiss those blessed feet that bled for meseek to worship that dear "man who once on Calvary died," and put crowns of eternal unfading honor upon his blessed, thorn-crowned, but now exalted brow.
Then bring the Christian to the last period of life, to the brink of death. Set him on those hoary rocks that skirt the edge of Jordan; let him sit there, looking down at the dark stream rolling rapidly below, not afraid to wade it, but rather wishing to die that he may be with Jesus. Ask the old man what he is doing, and he will answer, "Seeking the Lord." But I thought thou hadst found him many a year, old man? "So I have, but when I found him I sought him more; and I am seeking him nowseeking him that I may be complete in him, at his appearing; that I may be like him when I shall see him as he is. I have sought to understand more of his love to me, and now I do not know it all. I know as much as mortal can know; I am living in the land of Beulah. See this bunch of spices; angel hands have brought it to me, a present from my King; here are tokens of his love, his mercy, and his grace. And dost not see yonder the golden light of the celestial city? and didst not hear just now the sweet singing of the angels?" "Nay, nay," saith the young man, "I hear them not." "But," the old man replies, "I am on the edge of Jordan, and my ears are open, whereas thine are dull, still I am doing what I have done all my life-longseeking the Lord, and till this pulse shall cease its perpetual beating, I will still seek him, that dying, I may clasp him in my arms, the antidote of death."
You will readily confess that this description of a Christian is invariably correct. You may take the youngest child of Godyon little boy ten years old, who has just been baptized, and received into the church. Ask what he is doing? "Seeking the Lord." Follow him till he becomes a middle-aged man with all the cares of life about him. Ask what he is doing then? Still he answers, "Seeking the Lord." Put a few grey hairs upon his head, and let him know that half a century has gone. Again, ask what he is doing? "Seeking the Lord." Then make his head all frosty with the winters of old age, and ask him the same question; and he will still reply, "Seeking the Lord." Take away those hairs until the head is entirely bald, and the man is trembling on the grave; what is he doing then? "Seeking the Lord." Ay, as long as we are in this body, whatever our position, or condition, this will ever apply to us: "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
But let us not leave this one point without asking you one solemn question. Will you answer it? I beseech you to answer it to yourselves. Are ye seeking the Lord? Nay; some of you there, if you only can have your bottle of wine and your fowl, that will satisfy you better than seeking the Lord. There is anothergive you health and strength and let you enjoy the pleasures of this world, and that will be better to you than seeking the Lord. There is another flying in the face of the Almighty, cursing and swearingyou are not seeking the Lord. Another is here this morning who once thought that he did seek the Lord, but he has left off doing it now; he went away from us because he was not of us, for, "if he had been of us, he doubtless would have continued with us." There is a young woman who thought she sought the Lord once, but she has gone astray, she has backslidden, proving that after all that it was mere excitement. Would God I could include you all in this promise this morning; but can I, dare I, must I? No, I must not. As the Lord liveth, if you are not seeking the Lord, the devil is seeking you; if you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels. Even now, the swift-winged angel of justice is holding the torch before the fierce messenger of vengeance who, with his naked dagger, is about to execute the wrath of God upon your spirit. Ah! take no lease of your lives; fancy not that you are to live for ever. If you have not sought the Lord, as Jonathan Edwards said, "thou standest over the mouth of hell upon a single plank, and that plank is rotten." You are hanging over hell by a single rope, and all the strands of the rope are creaking, snapping, breaking. Remember after death, judgment; and after judgment, woe; and after woe, nought; for woe, woe, woe, must be for ever. "The wrath to come! The wrath to come! The wrath to come!" It needs a damned spirit to start from the grave to preach to you, and let you know something of it; but though one should rise from the grave with all the scars of all his torments upon him, with his hair all crisp by the hot fire of vengeance, his body scorched in the flames which no abatement know, though he should tell you with a tear at every word and a groan as a stop at every sentence, and a deep sigh on every syllable, how horribly he feels, how damnably he is tormented, still ye would not repent. Therefore we will say little of it. May God the Holy Ghost seek you, and then you will seek him, and you shall be turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God.
II. Now we come to THE PROMISE SET FORTH BY WAY OF CONTRAST. "they shall not want any good thing:" that is the jewel. "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;" that is the foil to set off the jewel and make it shine more brightly. "They shall not want any good thing." I can hardly speak of that, for there is too much to say. Did you never see a horse let into a wide field where the grass grew so thickly, that he scarcely knew where to begin to eat? If not, you have seen children taken into the field where wild flowers grow; it is so full of them in their liveries of white and yellow that the children know not where to pluck first, they have so wide a choice. That is how I feel when I have such a text as this: "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." We have heard of the celebrated cheque for a million pounds which has been preserved; here is one for millions of millions. Here is a promise wide as our wants, large as our necessities, deep as our distresses. There are some persons whose ambitious desires are very much like the Slough of Despond, which, though the king's labourers cast in thousands of tons of good material, never could be filled up. But the Lord can fill them. However bottomless our desires, however deep our wishes, however high our aspirations, all things meet in this promise, "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
We take it concerning things spiritual. Are we wanting a sense of pardon? We shall not want it long. Are we desiring stronger faith? We shall not want it long. Do you wish to have more love to your Saviour, to understand more concerning inward communion with Jesus? You shall have it. "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Do you desire to renounce your sins, to be able to overcome this corruption or that? to attain this virtue, or that excellency? "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Is it adoption, justification, sanctification, that thou wantest? "Thou shalt not lack any good thing."
But are thy wants temporal? Dost thou want bread and water? No, I know thou dost not, for it is said, "Bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure." Or, if thou dost want it somewhat, it shall come before long; it shall not be to starvation. David said, "I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Do you want clothes? You shall have them. "He that clothes the lilies of the valley, will he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" Do you need temporary supplies. You, shall receive them, for "your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." Whatever your desire, there is the promise, only go and plead it at the throne, and God will fulfil it. We have no right to look for the fulfilment of the promises unless we put the Promiser in mind of them, although truly, at times, he exceeds our desires or wishes. He gives us these promises as his notes of hand, his bills of exchange, and if we do not take our notes to get them cashed at the throne it is our fault, for the promise is just as good: "they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
But here is a contrast, and we will proceed to that at once. "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." The old Psalter has it: "The rich had need, and they hungered; but seekers of the Lord shall not be lessed of all good." It appears that there is only the difference of a very little mark in the Hebrew between the words "mighty men" and "young lions." But it is of very little consequence for, doubtless "the young lions" are put by way of figure to denominate certain characters of men who do "lack and suffer hunger."
There are certain men in the world who, like the lions, are kings over others. The lion is lord of the forest, and at his roar others tremble; so are there men who walk about among usnoblemen, respectable, great, honorablepersons who are had in reverence and esteem; and they suppose, sometimes, because they are lions they are sure never to have any spiritual hunger. They are great and mighty men; they have no need of a Saviour. Are they not the elders of the city? are they not mighty men of valour? are they not noble and great! They are, moreover, so excellent in their own esteem that their proper language seems to be when they come before their Maker's bar: "Lord, I had not a very bad nature, and wherein it was a little bad, I made the best of it! and wherein I did not do quite as well as I ought, Jesus Christ will make it up." Talk to these men about being depraved! "Rubbish!" they say; they know better; their heart is pure enough. They have no need of the Holy Spirit; they are young lions; you small mice may want it, but not they indeed! They have no need of another's righteousness to cover them; their old shaggy mane is glory enough to them. But do you know these young lions "lack and suffer hunger;" ay, even when we do not know anything about it? They can play bombast before men, but they "lack and suffer hunger" when they are alone. A suspicion often crosses their minds that their righteousness is not good for much; they know very well that while they can make a long prayer the poor widow's house sticks in their throat; that while they boast of their good works they are no better than they should be. You may think, perhaps, like David, that "they are not plagued like other men." But you don't know that. They are very often plagued when they do not tell you. When they roar so loudly their mane scarcely covers their bare ribs. "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;" but, blessed be God, "they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Poor and helpless though they are, having no works of righteousness of their own, confessing their sin and depravity, they shall want no good thing. Is it not amazing? There is a poor sinner who has sinned against God and in every way dishonored his name; yet he cannot lack any good thing.
Grace, wisdom, peace, and righteousness."
Again, by young lions we may understand men of cunning and men of wisdom. The lion goeth out at night, and prowleth silently through the jungle. It hath a keen scent, and knoweth where to find its prey. It scenteth the fountain, and knoweth that the antelope will go there to drink. When he comes, the lion croucheth down, with wild eyes looks upon him, and in a moment, ere the antelope is aware, he is in the fangs of the lion. Men of cunning and wisdomhave you not seen such? Have you not heard their boastful exclamation, "Submit myself to a dogmatical preacher! No, sir, I will not. Believe in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures! I cannot believe in any such absurdity. Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of him in the Scriptures! No, sir, I cannot. I like something to discuss; I like an intellectual religion; I cannot believe everything simply because God says it. I want to be allowed to judge for myself. Am I not wise learned?" And when he sees us in distress, sometimes he says, "Nonsense! you have no brains! you, poor Calvinists must be bereft of your senses." And yet we can show as many men of sense as they can, and we are not afraid of them, however much they glory in their wisdom. But sometimes the poor Christian is frightened by them; he cannot answer their sophisms; he does not see his way through their labyrinths, and cannot escape from their nets. Well, don't try to escape from them. Let them talk on; the best answer is often silence. But do you know that these young lions so gloriously self-sufficient when in argument with you, in secrecy often "lack and suffer hunger?" There was never an infidel in the world that did not suffer spiritual hunger, though he might not confess it. His creed did not satisfy him; there was a hollow place, an aching void somewhere, which the world could never fill. But "they that seek the Lord," who take the Scriptures for their guide, who bow implicity to the words of Jehovah, "do not lack any good thing." They feel no hollow unoccupied; Christ has filled their hearts, and they are satisfied with his presence and his love. "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
Again, the young lions denote those who are very strong, so that they hope to save themselves, and very swift in their course of profession. Some are very fierce in the matter of religion, very anxious to obtain salvation; and they are very strong, so that they think it scorn to borrow strength of another. Like the Jews, they follow after righteousness, but they do not attain it because they seek it by the works of the law. Have you never seen what they will do? There is a goodly chapel they have built; they are engaged at six o'clock in the morning at prayers, and repeat so many Ave Marias and Pater-nosters; then comes the daily service, the mass, and all that rubbishthe messe, as they call it in France, and verily a mess it is; then they whip themselves, fetch blood from their bodies, and perform all kinds of penances. Even among Protestants, meritmongery is not quite gone by; for there be many who are full of holy works, in which they are thursting for salvation. The poor Christian says, "I cannot perform all these works; I wish it were in my power to serve the Lord more devoutly." But dost thou not know that these "young lions do lack, and suffer hunger?" The formalist is never satisfied with all his forms; the hypocrite is never contented; there is always something he misses that makes his heart ache.
Then we may take it in a temporal sense. Young lions may mean deep cunning schemers. Have you never seen men with their thousand schemes and plans to make themselves rich, men who can overreach others, who are so subtle that you cannot see through them? Their instinct seems to be cunning. They are always lying in wait to take advantage of others; they prowl the world around, to seize on the helpless widow and the defenceless orphan. Or, perhaps, they may be following more legitimate schemes yet, such as are full of speculation and will involve the exercise of all their wits. Surely such can live if others stand. But no, they are just the men who "lack and suffer hunger;" their schemes all prove futile; the arrow which they shoot returneth on their own head and woundeth them. But they who lie gently down in passive faith, singing
"Father, I wait thy daily will;
[It is thought best not to print these, lest the worthy men who wrote them should feel aggrieved.]
I think I need add nothing more to move you. There are many poor ministers now, who, when they go up the pulpit stairs, are obliged to hold their arms pretty close to their bodies lest they should rend their coats to pieces; and I have seen them with such coats on, as you would not like to put on if you were going into the meanest chapel in London. I have myself found livery for some of these holy men year by year, but one person cannot supply the necessities of all. I know the case of a preacher who walked to a chapel, within ten miles of this spot, and preached in the morning, and walked back again; he also preaching in the evening, and had to walk back to his house; and what do you think the deacons gave him? The poor man had nothing else to live upon, and he was nearly eighty years of age. When he had finish (oh! don't hear it, ye angels! pray shut up your ears) they gave hima shilling! That was for his day's work. Another brother told me some time ago that he preached three sermons, walking eight miles and back again and going dinnerless all the while; and the deacons gave him the munificent sum ofhalf-a-crown! Oh! if you knew all the circumstances connected with the fund, you would not long restrain your benevolence. The funds are mostly given to those who preach the gospelgospel ministers of the best sort, men who preach what we consider to be gospelCalvinistic sentiments. And the funds must always be given in that way, for so the deed directs it. I bless God for this society, and I ask you, under God, to take care of it, that while "the young lions do lack, and suffer hunger," the ministers of the Lord shall "not want any good thing."