Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 9th, 1859, by
"Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved."Psalm 80:10.
HIS SEEMS TO BE the only prayer the Psalmist puts up in this Psalm, as being of itself sufficient for the removal of all the ills over which he mourned. Though he sighs over the strife of neighbors and the ridicule of foes; and lamenting the ill condition of the goodly vine, he deplores its broken hedges, and complains of the wild beasts that waste and devour it, yet he does not petition the Most High against these evils in detail; but gathering up all his wishes into this one prayer, he reiterates it o'er and o'er"Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." The reason is obvious. He had traced all the calamities to one source, "O Lord God, how long wilt thou be angry?" And now he seeks refreshing from one fountain. Let thy face no longer frown, but let it beam upon us with a smile and all shall then be well. This is a select lesson for the church of Christ. "In your troubles, trials and adversities, seek first, chiefly, and above everything else, to have a revival of religion in your own breast, the presence of God in your own heart; having that, you have scarcely anything beside to pray for; whatever else may befal you shall work for your good, and all that seems to impede your course, shall really prove to be a prosperous gale, to waft you to your desired haven: only, take care that you seek of God that you yourselves are turned again unto him, and that he would give you the light of his countenance; so shall you be saved."
I all things can perform."
Will you ask such things for me, that I may be more and more turned to God, and that so your spiritual health may be promoted.
But there are some of you who are workers in the church. Large numbers are actively engaged for Christ. In the Sabbath-school, in the distribution of tracts, in preaching the Word in the villages, and in some parts of this great citymany of you are striving to serve God. Now what I ask and exhort you to is this: cry unto God"Turn us again, O God." You want, my dear working friends, more of the Spirit of God in all your labors. I am afraid we forget him too much, we want to have a greater remembrance of him. Sunday-school teachers, cry unto God that you may attend your classes with a sincere desire to promote God's glory, leaning wholly on his strength. Do not be content with the ordinary routine, gathering your children there, and sending them home again but cry, "Lord, give us the agony which a teacher ought to feel for his child's soul." Ask that you may go to the school with deep feelings, with throes of love over the children's hearts, that you may teach them with tearful eyes, groaning before heaven that you may be the means of their salvation and deliverance from death. And you who in other ways serve God, I beseech you do not be content with doing it as you have done. You may have done it well enough to gain some approval of your fellows: do it better, as in the sight of the Lord. I do not mean better as to the outward form, but better as to the inward grace that goeth with it. Oh! seek from God that your works may be done from pure motives, with more simple faith in Christ, more firm reliance on him, and with greater prayer for your success. "Turn us again," is the cry of all, I hope, who are doing anything for Jesus.
Others of you are intercessors; and here I hope I have taken in all who love the Lord in this place. Oh! how much the strength of a church depends upon these intercessors! I kind almost said we could do bettor without the workers than the intercessors: We want in every church, if it is to be successful, intercessors with Godmen who know how to plead with him and to prevail. Beloved, I must stir you up again on this point. If you would see great things done in this place, or in any other place, in the salvation of souls, you must intercede more earnestly than you have done. I thank God our prayer-meetings are always full; but there are some of you whom I do not see so often as I would desire. There are some of you business-men who are accustomed to come in for the last half-hour, and I have seen you, and called on you to prey. For six months I have not seen some of you at all. There are others whom I know to be as much engaged as you are, who somehow or other manage to be always here. Why is it not so with you? If you do not love prayer, then I wish you not to come until you do. But I do ask of God to bring you into such a state of mind, that your soul may be more thoroughly with the Lord's church, and you may be more thoroughly devoted to his service. Our prayer-meeting is well attended, and is full, but it shall be better attended yet, and we shall have the men among us coming up "to the help of the Lord against the mighty." We do want more prayer. Your prayers, I am sure, have been more earnest at home than ever they were, during the last three weeks; let them be more earnest still. It is by prayer we must lean on God; it is by prayer that God strengthens us. I beseech you, wrestle with God, my dear friends. I know your love to one another, and to his truth. Wrestle with God, in secret and in public, that he would yet open the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing upon us, such as we shall not have room enough to receive. There must be a turning again to God of the intercessors in prayer.
Again: we want a turning again to God of all of you who have been accustomed to hold communion with Jesus, but who have in the least degree broken off that holy and heavenly habit. Beloved, are there not some of you who were accustomed to walls with God each day? Your morn was sanctified with prayer, and your eventide was closed in with the voice of praise. You walked with Jesus in your daily business; you were real Enochs, you were Johns, you did lay your head on the bosom of your Lord. But ah! have not some of you known suspended communion of late? Let us speak of ourselves personally, instead of addressing you; have not we ourselves held less communion with Jesus? Have not our prayers been fewer to him, and his revelations less bright to us? Have we not been content to live without Emmanuel in our hearts? How long is it with some of us singe our morsel was dipped in the honey of fellowship? With some of you it is weeks and months, singe you had your love visit from Jesus. Oh! beloved, let me beseech you, cry unto God, "Turn us again." It will never do for us to live without communion; we cannot, we must not, we dare not live without constant hourly fellowship with Jesus. I would stir you up in this matter. Seek of God that you may return, and experience the loveliness of Jesus in your eyes, that you may know more and more of your loveliness in his eyes.
And once more, beloved, "Turn us again" must be the prayer of all you, not only in your religious labors, but in your daily lives. Oh! how I do groan over each one of you, especially those of you who are my children in Christ, whom God has granted me to be the means of bringing from nature's darkness into marvellous light; that your lives may be on honor to your profession. Oh! my dear hearers, may none among you who make a profession, be found liars to God and man. There are many who have been baptized, who have been baptized into the waters of deception: there are some who put the sacramental wine between their lips, who are a dishonor and a disgrace to the church in which they assemble. Some who sing praises with us here can go and sing the songs of Satan elsewhere. Ay, are there not some among you, whom I cannot detect, whom the deacons cannot, nor your fellow-members either, but whose consciences tell you, you are not fit to be members of a church? You have crept into our number, you have deceived us, and there you are, like a cancer in our midst. God forgive you and change your hearts; God turn you to himself! And oh my brethren one and all of us, though we hope we have the root of the matter in us, yet how much room there is for improvement and amendment! How are your families conducted? Is there as much of that true and earnest prayerfulness for your children as we could desire? How is your business conducted? Are you above the tricks of trade? Do you know how to stand aloof from the common customs of other men, and say, "If all do wrong it is no reason why I shouldI must, I will do right?" Do you know how to talk? Have you caught the brogue of heaven? Can you eschew all foolishness, all filthy conversation, and seek to bear the image of Jesus Christ in the world? I do not ask you whether you use the "thee" and "thou," and the outward formalities of ostentatious humility, but I ask you whether you know how to regulate your speech by the Word of God. I trust, in some degree, that you all do but not an we could desire. Cry out, then, ye Christians, "Turn us again, O God!" If others sin, I beseech you, do not you sin, remember how God is dishonored by it. What! will you bring shame on Christ, and on the doctrines we profess? There is enough said against them without our giving cause of offense; lies enough are made up, without our giving any effuse that men should truthfully speak ill of us. Oh! if I thought it would avail, methinks I would go down upon my knees, my brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus, to beg of you, as for my very life, that you would live close to Jesus. I do pray the Holy Spirit that he may so rest on you in every place, that your conversation may be "such as becometh the gospel of Christ;" and that in every act, great or small, and in every word of every sort, there may be the influence from on nigh, moulding you to the right, keeping you to the right, and in everything bidding you to become more and more patterns of godliness, and reflections of the image of Jesus Christ.
Dear friends, to be personal with each other again, are we where we want to be just now many of us? Can we put our hands to our hearts, and say, "O Lord, I am, in spiritual things just where I desire to be?" No, I don't think there is one of us that could say that. Are we now what we should desire to be if we were to die in our pews? Come now, have we so lived during the past week, that we could wish this week to be a specimen-week of our whole lives? I fear not. Brethren, how are your evidences?are they bright for heaven? How is your heart?,is it wholly set on Jesus? How is your faith?doth it dwell on God alone? Is your soul sick, or is it healthy? Are you sending forth blossoms and bearing fruit, or do you feel dry and barren? Remember, blessed is the man who is planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season. But how about yourselves? Are not some of you so cold and languid in prayer, that prayer is a burden to you? How about your trials? Do they not break your heart more, almost, than ever they did? That is because you have forgotten how to cast your burden on the Lord. How about your daily life? Have you not cause to grieve over it, as not being all you could desire it? Ah! beloved, do not reckon it a light matter to be going backwards, do not consider it a small thing to be less zealous than you used to be. Ah! it is a sad thing to begin to decline. But how many of you have done so! Let our prayer be now,
All our help must come from thee."
Do, I beseech you, I entreat you, in the name of God our Father, and Jesus Christ our brother, search into your own hearts; examine yourselves, and put up this prayer, "Lord, wherein I am right, keep me so, against all opposition, and conflict; but wherein I am wrong, Lord make me right, for Jesus' sake." We must have this turning again unto God, if we would have a revival in our breast. Every unholy liver, every cold heart, every one who is not entirely devoted to God, keeps us back from having a revival. When once we have all our souls fully turned unto the Lord, then I say but not till then, he will give us to see the travail of the Redeemer's soul, and "God, even our own God shall bless us, and all the ends of the world shall fear him."
The other means of revival is a precious one"cause thy face to shine." Ah! beloved, we might ask of God, that we might all be devoted, all his servants, all prayerful, and all what we want to be; but it would never come without this second prayer being answered; and even if it did come without this, where would be the blessing? It is the causing of his face to shine on his church that makes a church flourish. Do you suppose that, if to our number there were added a thousand of the most wealthy and wise of the land, we should really prosper any the more without the light of God's countenance? Ah! no, beloved, give us our God, and we could do without them, but they would be a curse to us without him. Do you imagine that the increase of our numbers is a blessing, unless we have an increase of grace? No, it is not. It is the crowding of a boat until it sinks, without putting in any more provision, for the food of those who are in it. The more we have in numbers, the more we need have of grace. It is just this we want every-day: "Cause thy face to shine." Oh! there have been times in this house of prayer, when God's face has shone upon us. I can remember seasons, when every one of us wept, from the minister down almost to the child; there have been times, when we have reckoned the converts under one sermon by scores. Where is the blessedness we once spoke of? Where is the joy we once had in this house? Brethren, it is not all gone; there are many still brought to know the Lord; but oh! I want to see those times again, when first the refreshing showers came down from heaven. Have you never heard that under one of Whitfield's sermons there have been as many as two thousand saved? He was a great man; but God can use the little, as well as the great to produce the same effect; and why should there not be souls saved here, beyond all our dreams? Ay, why not? We answer, there is no reason why not, if God does but cause his face to shine. Give us the shining of God's face; man's face may be covered with frowns, and his heart may be black with malice, but if the Lord our God doth shine, it is enough
Who can his cause withstand
When he his people's cause defends
Who, who can stay his hand?"
It is his good hand with us we want. I do think there is an opportunity for the display of God's hand at this particular era, such as has not been for many years before, certainly, if he doeth anything, the crown must be put on his head, and on his head alone. We are a feeble people: what shall we do? But if he doeth anything, he shall have the crown and the diadem entirely to himself. Oh that he would do it! Oh that he would honor himself! Oh that he would turn unto us that we might turn unto him, and that his face may shine! Children of God, I need not enlarge on the meaning of this. You know what the shining of God's face means; you know it means a clear light of knowledge, a warming light of comfort, a living light poured into the darkness of your soul, an honorable light, which shall make you appear like Moses, when he came from the mountainso bright, that men will scarce dare to look upon you. "Cause thy face to shine;" Shall we not make this our prayer, dearly beloved? Have I one of my brethren in the faith, who will not this day go home to cry out aloud unto his God, "Cause thy face to shine?" A black cloud has swept over us, all we want is that the sun should come, and it shall sweep that cloud away. There have been direful things; but what of them, if God, our God, shall appear? Let this be our cry, "Cause thy face to shine." Beloved, let us give no rest unto our God, until he hears this our prayer, "Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved."
III. Come, now, let me stir you all up, all of you who love the Saviour, to seek after this revival. Some of you, perhaps, are now resolving in your hearts that you will at once, when you reach your homes, prostrate yourselves before your God, and cry out to him that he would bless his church; and oh! do so I beseech you. It is common with us under a sermon to resolve, though after the sermon we are slow to perform. You have often said, when you left the house of God, "I will carry out that injunction of my pastor, and will be much in prayer." You thought to do it so soon as you arrived at home, but you did not, and so there was an untimely end of the matterit accomplished not what was designed. But this time, I beseech you, while you resolve be resolute. Instead of saying within yourselves, "Now I will devote myself more to God, and seek to honor him more," anticipate the resolution by the result. Ye can do more in the strength of God than ye can think or propose to yourselves in the utmost might of man. Resolves may pacify the conscience very frequently for a while, without really benefitting it. You say you will do it, conscience therefore does not reproach you with a disobedience to the command, but ye do it not after all, and so the effect has passed away. Let any holy and pious resolution you now form be this instant turned into prayer. Instead of saying, "I will do it, put up the prayer, Lord enable me to do it; Lord, grant me grace to do it." One prayer is worth ten thousand resolutions. Pray to God that you, as a soldier of the cross, may never disgrace the banner under which you fight. Ask of him that you may not be like the children of Ephraim, who turned back in the day of battle, but that you may stand fast in all weathers, even as good old Jacob, when "in the day the drought consumed him and the frost by night,"so may you serve that God who has galled you with so high a galling. Perhaps others of you think there is no need of a revival, that your own hearts are quite good enough; I hope but few of you think so. But if thou dost think so my hearer, I warn thee. Thou fanciest thou art right, and therein thou dost prove that thou art wrong. He who says within himself, "I am rich and increased with goods," let him know that he is "poor and naked and miserable." He who says he needs no revival knoweth not what he says. Beloved, you shall find that those who are noted as best among God's people need to write themselves the word; and those who fancy all goes well in their hearts ofttimes little know that an under-current of evil is really bearing them away as with a tide where they would not wish to go, whilst they fancy they are going on to peace and prosperity.
Oh! beloved, carry into effect the advice I have just given. I know I have spoken feebly. It is the best I can do just now, I have only stirred you up by way of remembrance. Think not my desires are as feeble as my words; imagine not that my anxiety for you is or can be represented by my speech. Ask, I beseech you, ask of God, that to every one of you brethren and sisters, the simple exhortation of one who loves you as his own soul, may be blessed. God is my witness, belayed, that for him I seek to live: no other motive have I in this world, God knoweth, but his glory. Therefore do I bid and exhort you, knowing that you love the same God, and seek to serve the same Christ, do not now, in this hour of peril, give the least cause to the enemy to blaspheme. Oh! in the bowels of Christ, I entreat you for his sake who hung upon the tree and who is now exalted in heaven by his bloody sacrifice offered for your redemption, by the everlasting love of God, whereby you are kept. I exhort, I beseech, I entreat you, as your brother in Christ Jesus, and such an one as your pastor, be in nothing I moved by your adversaries. "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, when they shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for our Saviour's sake." But do ask that your life and conversation may be an honor to your Lord and Master; in nothing give occasion for the enemy to malign our sacred cause; in everything may your course be "like the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
But oh! ye who come here and approve the truth with your judgment but yet have never felt its power in your hearts or its influence in your lives, for you we sigh and groan; for your sake I have stirred up the saints among us to pray. Oh how many of you there are that have been pricked in your consciences and hearts many a time. Ye have wept, ay, and have so wept that you have thought with yourselves "Never souls wept as we have done!" But ye have gone back again. After all the solemn warnings ye have heard, and after all the wooings of Calvary, ye have gone back again to your sins. Sinner! thou who heedest little for thyself, just hear how much we think of thee. Little dost thou know how much we groan over thy soul. Man! thou thinkest thy soul nothing, yet morning, noon, and night, we are groaning over that precious immortal thing which thou despisest. Thou thinkest it little to lose thy soul, to perish, or mayhap to be damned. Dost thou account us fools that we should cry over thee? Dost thou suppose we are bereft of reason, that we should think thy soul of so much concern, whilst thou hast so little concern for it? Here are God's people, they are crying after thy soul; they are laboring with God to save thee. Dost thou think so little of it thyself, that thou wouldst fool away thy soul for a paltry pleasure, or wouldst procrastinate thy soul's welfare beyond the limited domain of hope; Oh! sinner, sinner, if thou lovest thyself, I beseech thee, pause and think that what God's people love must be worth something, that what we labor for, and strive for, must be worth something, that what was reckoned worth a ransom so priceless as Jesus paid must have its sterling value in the sight of heaven. Do, I beseech thee, pause? think of the value of thy soul; think how dreadful it will be if it is lost; think of the extent of eternity, think of thine own frailty; bethink thee of thine own sin, and of thy deserving. May God give thee grace to forsake thy wicked ways, turn unto him and live, for he "hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but rather that he should turn unto him and live!" Therefore, saith he, "Turn thee, turn thee, why wilt thou die?"
And now oh Lord God of hosts, hear our ardent appeal to thy throne. "Turn us again." Lighten our path with the guidance of thine eye, cheer our hearts with the smiles of thy face. O God of armies, let every regiment and rank of thy militant church be of perfect heart, undivided in thy service. Let great grace rest upon all thy children. Let great fear come upon all the people. Let many reluctant hearts be turned to the Lord. Let there now be times of refreshing from thy presence. To thine own name shall be all the glory, "O thou that are more glorious and excellent then the mountains of prey!"