Concealing the Words of God
“I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.” — Job vi. 10.
JOB’S dire distress was aggravated by the remarks of his friends. Eliphaz the Temanite opened fire against him in such words as these: “Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.” As much as to say, you can preach but you cannot practise. Where now your sermons and advices to others? It was a shameful thing thus to throw in the good man’s teeth his testimonies in former days; but Job, who under all his sorrow always retained his clearness of intellect and singular shrewdness, took the words of Eliphaz and used them for his own comfort. They were bread and meat to him, though brought in a raven’s mouth. “Yes,” says he, “I have comforted many, and my words have instructed the ignorant and strengthened the feeble, and this is so much my comfort in the hour of my affliction that I dare even ask God to let loose his hand upon me and end my life. Let him not spare me, for I have the testimony of my conscience that I have not been disloyal to my God. The taunt of my accuser proves that I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.” It is always well to be able thus to turn the enemy’s guns upon himself, and to extract comfort from that which was meant to grieve us.
Job made no idle boast when he said that he had not concealed the words of the Holy One, for we know from his history that he had been a bold confessor of the truth of God. We are informed that he was carefully watchful as to his own family that the words of the Holy One should be there esteemed and known, especially that grandest of all holy words concerning sacrifice and atonement: for we read that when his children had kept birthdays at each other’s houses and had fulfilled their days of feasting, “Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned and cursed Godin their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” He was earnest for the purity of his family and the keeping up of the sacrifices which were typical of the cleansing of sin; and thus he made known to his descendants the central word of all the words of the Holy One. Even in the time of his affliction the patriarch had not spoken other than according to the mind of God. What said he when he had lost all his possessions, and was left without a child? “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; and blessed be the name of the Lord.” And when his wife, seeing him covered with a loathsome disease, bade him curse God and die, he did not withhold his testimony from her, but said, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” These were words given him of the Lord in the moment of his need, and he shunned not to utter them with all his heart. The inspired testimony about this holy man is that “in all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
It is clear that in his prosperity Job was a most faithful witness for God. We will not speculate about the time or the place in which he lived; but wherever he lived he was a man of great influence, and was held in high esteem. He says, “When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street, the young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up. The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.” This influence was always exerted for the cause of truth and righteousness, which is always the cause of God. In the twenty-ninth chapter he says of himself, “When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.” He was thus by his conduct a perpetual protest against sin, a continued proclamation of justice, righteousness, mercy, and love, in the age in which he lived; and he could, therefore, say without any word of egotism, “I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.” This was now a comfort to him when all other comforts failed: he knew that his affliction was not the fruit of a treacherous departure from God, or a cowardly concealment of his faith. He felt that he could face death, and even long for it, because he had been loyal to his God, and faithful to the light which had been vouchsafed him from on high. It was not self-righteousness which led Job to speak thus, but only such a use of the sure evidences of grace as would be natural and proper in any godly man in the hour of his extremity. It is the nature of obedience to yield peace to the heart, and no one can be blamed for enjoying that peace. It cannot be wrong for our consciences to bear testimony to the sincerity and purity of our lives, nor wrong that when our hearts condemn us not we have confidence cowards God. He who is most undivided in his faith in Jesus may, nevertheless, derive comfort from having been enabled to be loyal to his God. Bid not Paul bless God for much the same faithfulness as Job claimed when he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”? Happy shall he be who has a clear testimony within his soul that he has declared the truth of God in all honesty and earnestness, even to the end.
Job had not refrained from an open confession of his own faith in God: he had been known in the gates of the city as a worshipper of the Lord, a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil. He had never hidden his faith, but had owned one God whom he here calls the Holy-One. While gods many and lords many divided the fealty of nations, Job was true to the one only God; and believed his words as they were revealed to him. Nor was he content with an open confession of his own faith, Job had made a continued communication of what he knew to others. He had taught his family,— there all teaching should begin. He had taught his fellow-citizens, by his example— the most powerful of all teaching. Never had he wandered into idolatry, or worshipped the sun when it shined, or kissed his hand to the queen of heaven; but, on the contrary, he had avowed the one and only Lord without fear. He asks, “Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me that I kept silence?” So faithful had he been that he cries, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” This was high ground to take, but it evidently strengthened the good man’s heart to bear his troubles, and it will do the same for us if we can win the same witness from our consciences.
Now, brethren, this is a comfort we ought to seek after. It should be our care that when we come to die, we may not have to cry, “I was ashamed of Jesus, and now I shall find him ashamed of me: I hid his truth in unrighteousness, wrapping my talent in a napkin; what shall I do, or whither shall I turn? A servant unfaithful to his trust, I have to give an account of my stewardship, and I cannot do it! Woe is me!” God grant that we may be able to say with Job, “I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.” Many professors will need greatly to alter their ways, or they will be covered with confusion in the day of the Lord. Blessed and holy is he who can declare with David, or rather with David's son, “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness, and thy truth from the great congregation.” (Psalm xl. 10).
We have more of the words of the Holy One than Job had, and should therefore be the more anxious to make them known. I suppose he had no inspired book to read: he could not have had any more than the Books of Moses, probably he had not those; but the Lord spoke to him as he often spoke to the prophets in the olden time, and he had also learned those truths which had been handed down from the earliest days from father to son. Now we have a vast mass of sacred literature, and we have besides that the Word himself, who is the hope of our souls and the Lord of our hearts. O brethren, if we wickedly hide what God has revealed to us we shall be veiling a great light, and we shall heap up guilt like the hills. When we come to die we shall feel a misery proportionate to the enormity of our crime; we shall be tortured with agonizing thoughts for having, as far as we were able, quenched the Spirit and blotted out the testimony of the Most High. God forbid that we should be guilty of such an enormity.
Job, according to the language of our text, evidently had a great reverence for every word of the Lord. He would not have used that term, “the Holy One,” if he had not felt the holiness of the words themselves, and if he had not stood in solemn awe of him who spake them. He felt that they must not be concealed, because the words of the Holy One should have free course, and be published abroad. Should not the word of a king be circulated through the length and breadth of his dominions? Have you and I such a reverence for every revealed truth? Do we stand in awe of every word of God? If we do it will be well for us if we practically express our homage after the fashion of David, who said, “With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.” The words which God speaks are uttered that we may speak them. It is the best homage to a word to hear it and to repeat it. Let us proclaim God’s words abroad: they are light and are not meant to be hidden. Such candles ought never to be put under a bushel. To hide the divine words would be a great sin against the Most High, and to warn you against it will be the aim of this morning’s discourse. I shall speak with the earnest prayer that both to myself and to each one of you there may be a personal voice from God stirring every conscience as to this matter, and making each one of us enquire whether or no we also can say, “I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.”
We shall divide our subject thus. First, we shall have a little to say about the sin to he avoided: then we will give some strong arguments for avoiding it: and, thirdly, suggest some methods by which we may be enabled to avoid it.
I. Here is A SIN TO BE AVOIDED— concealing the words of the Holy One. Now, we can conceal those words from ourselves as well as from others. “How conceal them from ourselves?” say you. I think that very great stress must be laid upon this form of the evil, which lies at the root of the second shape of it. We can conceal the word of God from ourselves in many ways. The law of God speaks with searching and threatening voice: it tells us of our sin, it forewarns us of the punishment, and it sets our danger both present and future before our mind’s eye: but there are thousands of persons who never give the law an opportunity of being heard in their hearts: they turn a deaf ear to anything which is unpleasant to them; they do not like to face the honest truth. You know why this is. Why does not a man who is a bankrupt in business take, any pleasure in his books? Why is it that he postpones all settlements and endeavours to forget his affairs? Is it not because his ruin is near at hand? If there is any truth, my friend, that you are afraid of, you have cause to be afraid of it; but let me forewarn you that there is no escaping from a fact by endeavouring to forget it. Every honest man, every brave man, every man who is truly a man, would like to face his tine condition, and see what and where he is. One of the prayers which I commend to your frequent use is this, “Lord, let me know the very worst of my case, that I may not be living upon vain pretensions, and may not be pluming myself with being in a happy condition while all the while I am in awful danger.” Let it never be said of any one of you that you concealed the words of the Holy One about yourselves by refusing to feel their force lest they should end the flattering visions of your fond conceit. Love truth even though it cut you to the quick. Ask God to search you and try you, and to make you sensible of sin and of judgment to come: this is the part of honesty and common sense. You will indeed be foolish if you conceal the words of the Holy One from your conscience, and so flatter your soul into destruction.
Others conceal the gospel word, that word which speaks of the free gift of pardoning mercy, which is of many offences unto justification. They go about to find out some way of their own for self-salvation, and do not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God. Beloved, do pray the Lord to help you to know the gospel thoroughly; and to understand its glorious simplicity, its sweet freeness and boundless fulness. Do not put out the light which alone can lead you to eternal life. Do not shut your eyes to the lamp divine; do not conceal from yourselves those humbling but yet soul-saving doctrines, which make for your souls eternal peace. Shut not against yourselves the one gate of paradise. Hide the gospel in your heart by all means, but hide it not from your heart, lest you sin against your own soul.
I ought, also, to warn every brother here of concealing any of the words of God from himself, by accepting half the truth and rejecting the rest. Receive the whole of revelation. Some professors have favourite texts and choice portions of Scripture, and they regard other parts of the word with aversion, avoiding them as much as possible, because they do not agree with their system of divinity, and need much squaring before they will fit in with their foregone conclusions. They do not read such passages, or read them carelessly, or a commentator is sought out who, by the exercise of much ingenuity, will impute another meaning than the true one to the words of God. Brethren, open your souls to divine light. Give the word of God free admittance into your spirits. Lay no embargo upon any form of truth; demand no toll for the commodities of heaven. Let your mind be an open port, carrying on a free trade in the treasures of the gospel. Believe whatever God says, because God says it, though you may not always see its why and wherefore or perceive its internal consistency. Be prepared, and even anxious, to know the whole truth as far as you can know it, and let it pervade your entire being with its holy influence. It will be a terrible thing if one of these days you shall have to say, “I rejected a great truth. I had a suspicion that it was so, but I did not wish to believe it, and so I shut my ears to its evidence. I had a leaning towards the opposite view and I felt committed to it, and so refused to alter.” Open both your eyes, my brethren. If you cannot see everything, yet see all you can see, and pray the Lord to take each scale away that you may know all the truth, and so the truth may make you wholly free.
There is, again, a concealing of the truth from ourselves in one other respect, namely, when we try to avoid the word of command. There be some professed Christians of peculiar doctrinal opinions to whom the word “duty” is something dreadful, and if the preacher dwells upon gospel precept they call him “legal.” I am not much in awe of that word myself, for being interpreted it means lawful, and none of us would like to be unlawful preachers. These folks insinuate that the preaching of the practical precepts of the gospel is in conflict with the grace of God, and is little better than preaching up human merit; whereas the doctrine of God our Saviour is always a doctrine according to holiness, and good works are the sure results of true faith. True gospel preaching does not decry holy living; nay, it sets up the highest possible standard and declares the way to reach it. Beware of picking and choosing in reference to the commands of Christ. Some professors object to much of the teaching of him whom they call Master and Lord. The forgiving of injuries as we hope to be forgiven, the non-resistance principle of turning the other cheek when one is smitten,— these are very objectionable to ordinary religionists. Such precepts are denounced as impracticable, and it is asserted that they cannot be carried out. Doing unto others as ye would that they should do to you is regarded as a golden precept for other people to practise towards our dear selves, but not at all a practical maxim from us to the general public. When persons speak of our Lord’s precepts as good but impracticable, they make him out to be an amiable simpleton. Is this their reverence for the incarnate wisdom? I need not stop to quote examples, but there are many such things in the word of God as precepts which good men decline to see, which, indeed, they declare that they cannot see. If you put a gold piece over the boldest printed verse in the Bible you will not be able to see the passage; and there are some whose profits in business, whose position in life, above all, whose “respectability” will not allow them to see certain precepts, and so they do not see them, and they pass through life without obeying the plain command of the Lord. I pray you do not so, for wilful ignorance is no excuse for disobedience. It is written, “He that knew his Master’s will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes;” and, mark you, he that did not know his Master’s will, but might have known it and deliberately declined to know it, shall take his place with those who bear the heavier punishment. The plea of ignorance shall not avail such persons except it be to make them also take their place with the man who receives the few stripes, and so they shall partake in both the greater and the lesser scourging, inasmuch as they are worthy to range with both kinds of offenders. Try to know what God would have you do, and pray that by his Holy Spirit when you know it you may put it into speedy and cheerful practice, and this shall be a comfort to you.
Still, the point I want to bring out is that the holy man in our text had not concealed God’s truth from others. We can do this in many ways. We can conceal the words of the Holy One by not confessing the truth at all. A Christian, but he never said so! He hid himself along with Joseph of Arimathea, although he never offered his new tomb to his Lord. He justified himself by the example of Nicodemus, though he never brought spices for his Lord’s burial! There was a time when there might be secret disciples of Christ, but that was before the cross was lifted up; but it is written concerning our Lord’s death that the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed by it, and now Christ’s followers follow him openly. I should not like to be among those who expect to slink into heaven by a back door, some dark night, and intend never to disclose themselves till they throw off the mask, and stand before the wondering eyes of angels, Christians who passed through the world disguised as unregenerate men. No, no; our Lord has said, “He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess; but he that denieth me, him will I deny.” Do not run risks upon that score. It you love the Lord, say so; if you expect him to own you, own him.
We may conceal the words of the Holy One, although we have made an open confession, by a sinful silence about the gospel towards others, I am afraid I should not be too censorious if I said that there are many professors of religion who never talk of Christ to others, and never seek the salvation of anybody. Are there any such people here now— in this gallery, or down below in this area? You have found a medicine which has healed your soul, but you never mention it to the thousands who are sick around you! You have not even named it to your own children! Can such cruelty be possible? Where do you sit? Are you there? No, good people do not move away from him! He has something human about him I hope still, though certainly not much that is humane. You were hungry and you have found bread, and you have eaten it; and yet though around you thousands are perishing with hunger, you have no pity on them! Many loaves are in your stores at home, but you spare none for these starving ones. You eat your morsel alone; and all the while thousands are dying outside your window, yea, they are perishing by millions. Do you care nothing for their woes? Are you a man or a demon? The Lord have mercy upon you! I will say no more than this, for I think I need not prove that it must be an atrocious sin for a man to know the words of the Holy One and not to make them known to others. This sin is easily committed by a silence which pleads modesty, but which ought to confess to cowardice, therefore be aware of the cheat.
Some who speak often, nevertheless conceal the words of the Lord by their own words. The Roman Catholic Church stands convicted of concealing the words of the Holy One, by the use of the Latin tongue in the daily service. Whatsoever there is of good in the mass, ought to be spoken in such language that everybody can understand and receive it; but instead thereof the people stand and look on and know not what is being done, and if there be aught that might edify and instruct, they are not cognizant of it, because it is hidden from them by words unknown to them. Protestants! you condemn this practice, but are not many of you guilty yourselves? Did you listen to that splendid sermon? What rhetoric! What oratory! But those poor people in the aisles did not understand a word, or if they did they only comprehended disconnected sentences, and lost the soul of the discourse. Is this right? Is this according to the Scriptural idea of preaching? “Oh, but,” you say, “the great man does not preach to that class of people.” But his Master did, and he bade men take note that in the gospel dispensation the poor have the gospel preached unto them. He would have his ministers preach so that they can be understood of all men. It is a pity when you Jiang the cross with your artificial flowers until you hide the wounds of Christ. Down, down, down with all your tawdry rhetoric! Your so-called eloquence deserves a curse, since it robs the simple of a blessing. Pew things have so much damaged the church of God as “the wisdom of words.” A sweet and solemn simplicity which a child can comprehend is alter the fashion of our Master, therefore let us aim at it. When you talk about Jesus Christ, make your speech very plain, lest under the ornaments of your language you should conceal the words of the Holy One.
The thing can be done again by clouding the truth with error. There is such a thing as laying a substratum of truth, and then overlaying it with human opinions, after the manner of the boastful school of modern thought, whose novelties are set before us as the matured fruit of the culture of the nineteenth century: this also is concealing the words of the Holy One. You may, perhaps, have seen ancient parchments containing words of holy writ, which have been covered over and then re-written with popish legends: these palimpsests (that is their technical name) are the types and symbols of the discourses of the philosophical divines of the school of culture. The gospel of Jesus Christ is hidden by their so-called “thought,”— their own thoughts are set before the thoughts of God. What shall we say to such thinking but that it is a presumptuous setting up of human intellect above the revelation of the Lord? What shall we say of such culture but that it cultivates a pride which had better have been cut up by the roots? It conceals the words of the Holy One that fallible man may sit upon the throne of wisdom, and make his own religion, and be his own God.
We may yet further conceal the words of God by an inconsistent life. You have often heard it said that the worldling does not read his Bible, but he reads professing Christians; he never troubles to read a chapter, but he reads his godly relatives. Many a man has found Christ through reading some dear and venerated mother, whose living and dying experience has been God’s testimony to his soul. See, then,— if our lives are crooked, perverse, unkind, ungenerous, unholy, selfish, un-Christly we conceal the words of God; for men will not read a true gospel in us, nor have a true idea of our religion. They will not care to hear a gospel which produces such characters as ours, if those characters are unlovely. Men lay all our faults at the door of our Master: and thus we crucify him afresh. They say, “That is your religion,” though they must know better. They will always say so, for after this manner the enemies of God have always gloried over Israel. He who lives not after a godly and holy sort is guilty of concealing the words of the Holy One in the most injurious manner. Let us all try to avoid this sin, because it is contrary to the practical genius of Christianity, which commands godly men to shine as lights in the world. Sinful silence, as to the blessed word of grace, is rebellion against our Lord’s last command — “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”; therefore, be not chargeable with so grave a crime.
II. In the second place we will give a mere outline of the ARGUMENTS FOR AVOIDING THIS SIN. The subject is weighty and deserves a longer consideration, but time compels me to condense. And first, the man who conceals the word of God is out of order with God. God speaks that he may be heard, and that his mind may be known. The evident design of words is to make known the speaker’s mind. To run parallel with his wish, therefore, is to give his words free course to the ends of the earth. O thou who professest to be a child of God, wilt thou run counter to the design of the Most High, and when he speaks wilt thou by concealing his words make him to be as though he spake not? Such a silence is out of gear with the whole course of nature. “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork: day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.” The whole creation after its own inarticulate manner proclaims its Maker and Preserver. Rocks find a voice, and waters have a tongue. Stars sing by shining, and darkness preaches by its solemnity. Shall man alone be dumb? God forbid that he should be creation’s silent chord when every other string is vibrating with praise. No; let us pray the Holy Spirit to put us into order with God and with his universe, and let us no more conceal his words.
If you wish to see the sin of concealing the gospel, think of the consequences which would have followed if others had done so. If the apostles had never risked their lives to preach, what had the nations been? If martyrs had never yielded their blood in testimony, would not thick darkness have brooded over the nations still? Imagine the consequences, if you can, if Luther had taken the advice of his godly but timid friend, when he said, “Get thee to thy cell and pray: meddle not with things too high for thee.” Imagine what history would have been if Wycliffe, and Tyndal, and Calvin, and Zwingle, and all those lights of the world, had hidden themselves through cowardice. They had been guilty, but we had been miserable. Now, what would have been criminal in them must be evil in us, also, in proportion to our degree. We owe it to coming generations that we hand on the torch of truth as it has been handed down to us; let us not be unfaithful to our trust.
If we conceal the words of the Holy One, we shall evidently err, because the motive for so doing can hardly be supposed to be other than sinful. If we conceal God’s truth, it will probably be out of cowardice, and to be a coward under the command of such a Captain as ours is treason. Probably, self-love will be the ruling motive, but we are told expressly that he who loves his life shall lose it, and that Christ is to be better loved than life itself. Those who love the word of God, are often moved to do so by pride, which cannot stoop to be despised; or fear, which dreads ridicule or love of the world, which seeks the applause of men. Is it not atrocious ingratitude to him who was derided and spit upon for our sakes if we hide his glory to escape from shame? I feel it difficult to conceive an argument for concealing God’s word which would hold water for a single moment; certainly I can invent none which will bear the test of the great trial day to which we all must come. If then the motive of such concealment is evil, it must itself be evil.
I have already hinted that common humanity requires that if we have received the precious truth of God, we should not conceal it. I feel as if your natures responded to the remark, and that I needed not again enforce it, having done so already. If you love men, if you would make them happy here, if you would save them from perishing hereafter, I beseech you make known to them with holy earnestness the way of salvation contained in the words of the Holy One. For if not, be it known unto you that all the results of concealment will be chargeable upon you. If the next generation should become more wicked than the present, and still more ignorant of the gospel, the fact will be chargeable upon those who conceal the words of God to-day. If the masses through not knowing the gospel reject it and continue in their sin, the calamity and crime will be charged upon those dumb lips which never speak of Jesus. If sinners sink to hell, passing out of this world unsaved, and they have come into contact with Christian men who gave them no warning, on whose skirts will their blood be found? Yea, more; recollect that even if sinners be saved by some other agency it does not exonerate those who neglected to warn them; for since the silence naturally tended to destruction those who were guilty of it shall be judged as if the uninstructed were destroyed, even though by God’s interposition it is not so. If the natural result of any line of conduct is prevented by divine interference its criminality is by no means lessened. The conduct itself may be judged by what it would naturally result in if it were left to itself. Many a man has been guilty of murder who nevertheless did not actually spill his fellow’s blood, because he did that which he knew would kill; and it is no praise of his that death did not come of it. So, if a corrupt, unholy silence would slay a soul, even though that soul be saved, the wickedly silent one is guilty of soul murder all the same. You are shifting uneasily in your seats, some of you; this is a good sign, for many might do so without being too sensitive.
How again, dear friends, can any man prove his loyalty to his God or his likeness to the Saviour, if he continues to conceal the words of the Holy One? What canst thou do for God but obey him, and when he speaks to thee gladly make known to others the truth which has sounded in thine ears? How canst thou be like to Jesus, thy professed Master, if thou hast no witness to bear for the good of men? He went about doing good, his life was transparent, he wore the gospel on his sleeve, spoke it with his eyes, and revealed it in his daily life. How canst thou be like him if thou dost smuggle away the gospel as if it were contraband goods to be hidden away from all eyes? How canst thou bury the priceless truth like a miser who hoards up his cankered gold? Tell out the heavenly message! Tell it all around! Tell it so long as voice remains! If thou art a true servant of God thou canst not stifle the voice of Jesus, who out of heaven cries to the sons of men.
Now, think once more and we shall see the sinfulness of the conduct we denounce. What will it be to meditate upon a dying bed on having known the truth, but having never in any way assisted to spread it? What will it be to lie with eternity just before you, and to reflect, “I have been a member of a church many years, but I have never brought in a single convert. I sat in my pew, and I knew the divine secret, but I never told even a child of it. Neither by pen nor tongue did I make Jesus known. I left that to the minister. I knew there were good people about who cared for men’s souls, but I had no such feeling: I kept myself to myself, and felt no anxiety about my neighbours. I had very little care as to whether souls were saved or not. I was glad when I heard of an increase to the church, but not very particularly so; I was rather sorry when things were down,— not so sorry that I lost my appetite, or lay awake ten minutes. I did not trouble myself more than I could help, for I was foolish enough to dream that the best thing I could do was to consult my own interests, and I fancied that my chief end was to enjoy myself for ever.” Now, I can imagine such a person sore beset with horrors when he comes to die, and struggling hard to get anything like a glimpse of hope. His whole life has been that of selfishness, how can he be a Christian? Conscience will ask him, “Is this Christlike, this keeping back of the divine bread from the perishing millions, this concealing of the light of God? Surely you are no follower of the Crucified!”
How will such conduct look at the last great day? The Lord Jesus will say to some, “I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink.” Now mark, these sentences refer to temporal bread and water, but they must be more emphatic still when they relate to spiritual things. If the Lord Jesus shall say, “There were hungering souls, and you professed to know the gospel, but you gave them no meat: there were thirsty souls, and you professed to have drank of the water of life, and you gave them no drink,” can there be any answer? Will not such persons stand speechless, dumbly confessing the justice of the sentence, “Depart, ye cursed”?
III. I shall close by mentioning one or two METHODS BY WHICH WE MAY AVOID THIS SIN. I am speaking now to you who have believed in Jesus and are truly his own disciples.
First, take care that you make an open profession of your faith. Come out from the world and unite with the people of God. If you do not make a profession, I do not see how you can be found innocent of the charge of concealing the Lord’s words.
When you have done that, keep yourself clear of sinful silence by very often speaking to others of the things of God. I was greatly pleased this week when a brother minister said to me, “A man has just joined our church, a rough man, who mixed in company that was not likely much to improve him, and yet he has been really made a new man. He was accustomed to go round to houses with small casks of beer for a large brewery, and among the rest he called at a certain house where the servant is a member at the Tabernacle. She had not seen him more than once or twice before she began to ask him whether he knew the Saviour, and to question him about his soul, and when he called each month she spoke to him again, till at last he who had never thought of religion, nor entered a place of worship at all, was brought to the feet of Jesus, and to become an honour to the church of which he is a member.” This minister said, “I hope all your members do as that servant does.” I told him I knew a great many of you did, but no doubt some of you did not. You who do not may well fidget upon your seats, as you take home the hint. Henceforth at every opportunity speak of Jesus to those around you, lest you be found guilty of concealing the words of the Holy One. Some of you cannot speak very much because you are naturally diffident and slow of speech. Try and overcome the infirmity, but if you cannot do so, do not conceal the words of the Most High on that account, but write letters of personal entreaty. You can do this, cannot you?
Some of you can write very well indeed, and write so much that you have to cross your letters, which is much easier for you to write than for friends to read. As you can write so well, do write for Jesus Christ. Do not cross your letter lest you conceal your meaning, but write earnestly and lovingly for Jesus. You can also circulate what has been written by other people, though I do not think it so good a thing to do as writing yourself. You may send tracts and sermons, but let them be such as you may hope that people will read. Sometimes you may write out part of a tract, and it will attract them all the more for being your own handwriting.
Another thing may be done. If you feel that when you have spoken and written you have still not done much, help other people who have greater gifts. A great deal may be done by imitating Aquila and Priscilla, "who helped Apollos. It is not given to everybody to preach to large numbers, or to preach at all, but you can often pick up a young man and say, “I will help him in his education and encourage him in his first efforts.” You can always help young men by filling the offering box which supports the College.
I married a gentleman on this platform some time ago who said to me, “I wish I could preach; but I will tell you what I will do, I will keep a man to preach: I will find the money and you will find the man.” I told him I must have him speak, too, as best he could. He said he would, but he wished to have somebody to speak better. Men of wealth should copy this example. Help the colporteurs, help the city missionaries, help all those who publish the word of the Lord.
And lastly, and this morning most to the point, there are the heathen perishing for lack of knowledge. Millions of voices call out of the darkness to you, “Come over and help us! You have the light, bring it to us! You have the bread, come and feed us! We perish, we perish, we perish.” Brethren, the heathen are perishing. Will you let them perish? I wish that some young men here would go for missionaries. One of the leaders of a missionary society cheered my heart last week when he took out of his pocket an old sermon of mine, marked and crossed and scored. He said, “You will like to see that, Mr. Spurgeon.” “What about it?” “That was given to me by a young man who has joined our mission. He read that sermon, and marked the passages which touched his heart, and now he is at work in China. I looked upon that sermon with great delight. I think I felt more pleased with that old sermon than if I had received a wreath of gold. I felt gratified that I had brought a young and fervent heart to devote, itself to the Lord Jesus Christ. Give me like joy each of you; and if you cannot go among the heathen personally, help others to do so. Give this morning a liberal collection, and may God accept it at your hands for Christ’s sake.