Sermon

Good Cause for Great Zeal

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon Oct 20, 2017 Scripture: Ezra 4:14 Sermon No. 1,097 From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 19

Good Cause for Great Zeal

 

“Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king.”— Ezra iv. 14.

 

THE facts of the case were these. Under Zerubbabel, the Jews, who had returned from Babylon, commenced to rebuild Jerusalem. There were in the land certain half-and-half persons, somewhat like the Samaritans, who were neither Jews nor Gentiles; and they asked at first that they might join in the building of Jerusalem. This was refused, the Jews determining to keep themselves pure from all association with the heathen or semi-heathen. So indignant were these people at this that they wrote to Artaxerxes, the king, to tell him that he was very little aware of what was going on in Judea, for the Jews had always been from time immemorial a troublesome people, and now they were beginning to build their city again; and as soon as it was built they would, in all probability, revolt against King Artaxerxes, and give him much trouble, as their fathers had done to kings aforetime. Now, in writing that letter they showed themselves wise in their generation, for they told the king in the words of our text that they were moved by gratitude to write to him. It was false: but hypocrites often use the best of words and employ the best of sense to cover their deceit. They said that they themselves were sustained from the king’s palace, and, therefore, they could not bear that the king should be dishonoured; for this reason they had written to tell his majesty that the Jews were building this wall, and they trusted that for his own honour’s sake and for his subjects’ sake he would stop them.

     Now let me take these words right out of those black mouths, and put them into my own and into yours. They will suit us well if we turn them to the great King of kings. We may truly say, “Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king.”

     The text will enable me to speak on three points. First, here is a fact acknowledged: “we have maintenance from the king’s palace.” Here is, secondly, a duty recognised: “it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour;” and, thirdly, here is a course of action prescribed: “therefore have we sent and certified the king.”

     I. Now, beloved fellow believers, the words of our text may be used by us while we acknowledge a very gracious fact— WE HAVE MAINTENANCE FROM THE KING S PALACE. How true this is of all God’s people, in all respects, you will be abundantly ready to acknowledge. Both the upper and the nether springs from which we drink are fed by the eternal bounty of the great King. Hitherto we have been supplied with food and raiment. Sometimes we may have been reduced to a pinch, no doubt, and the question has arisen through the infirmity of our nature, and fermented with the irritability of our unbelief, “What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?” but we have dwelt in the land, and verily we have been fed; and I have no doubt that to many of you it has been peculiarly gratifying to receive the loaf, as it were, immediately from your Father’s hand. You have known what poverty has meant; and then there has been to you a peculiar sweetness in the daily bread which, in answer to prayer, has been sent to you. Although we do not drink of the water from the rock, or find the manna lying at our tent-door every morning, yet the providence of God produces for us quite the same results, and we have been fed and satisfied; and at any rate many of us, in looking back, can say, “My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life.” Hence, we have thus, even in things temporal, been made to feel that we have been maintained from the king's palace.

     But it has been in spiritual things, beloved, that our continual experience of the king’s bounty has been most notable. We have a new life, and therefore we have new wants and new hunger and a new thirst; and God has maintained us out of his own palace as to this new life of ours. O beloved, we have had great hunger at times after heavenly things, but he has “satisfied our mouth with good things,” and our youth has been “renewed like the eagle’s.” We have had huge wants; bottomless deeps of need we have had. And yet, great God, the treasures of thy grace have been everlasting mines, deep as our helpless miseries were, and boundless as our sins. Why, sometimes we have been drawn aside from our steadfastness, and we have wanted mighty grace to set us on our feet again, and to make us once more “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might,” and we have had it; have we not? We have sought it, and we have found it. Our shoes have been iron and brass, and as our days so has our strength been. Up till this moment we have found that underneath us are the everlasting arms. In looking back upon all the way wherein the Lord our God has led us, we can sing of the beginning of it, we can sing of the middle of it, and we believe we shall sing of the end of it; for all through we have been maintained out of the king’s palace. This is matter of fact both as to things temporal and things spiritual.

     Beloved, it is a great mercy that you and I have been maintained out of the king’s palace as believers; because, where else could we have been maintained? Where else, I ask you? As to spiritual things, to whom could we go but unto him who has been so good to us? What empty wells ministers are, if we look to them! If we look to their Master, then “the rain also filleth the pools,” and we find that there is supply in the preached word for our consolation. But have you not often known what it is to find that even God’s servant under whom you have been fed, does not meet your case? He is meeting the case of hundreds of others, perhaps, but somehow he misses you: there is no food for your soul. Ay, and the books you once read with so much comfort appear to have lost their flavour, their aroma, and their sweet savour, and, I may add, even the word of God itself, though it is unchanged, appears to be changed sometimes to you. But God, the God of Israel, your God, oh, how graciously has he still supplied you! “All my springs are in thee,” my God; and had they been elsewhere they long ago had failed. Who else could supply our needs but Jehovah? As the king of Israel said to the woman in the famine of Samaria, “If the Lord do not help thee whence can I help thee, out of the barn-floor or out of the wine-press?” There is no help for the child of God if his heavenly Father should shut the granary door. If out of the king’s palace there came no portions of meat in due season, we might lay us down and die of despair. Who could hold us up but God? Who could guide us but God? Who could keep us from falling into perdition but God? Who could from hour to hour supply our desperate wants but God? Is it not, then, right well for us— abundantly well— that we have had our maintenance from the king’s palace?

     While we turn over this very sweet thought, we may remember that our maintenance from the king’s palace has cost his Majesty dear. He has not fed us for nothing. We do not know what was the expenditure in gold of King Solomon every day, to supply all his court with wine and oil, with meal and fine flower, with sheep and fat oxen, harts and roebucks, venison and fatted fowl; but we do know that Solomon’s cost was nothing at all compared with the vast expense at which we are sustained by the munificence of God. It cost him his own dear Son at the very first. We should not have begun to live if he had spared his Son and kept him back from us; but the choicest treasure in heaven, the Koh-i-noor of God’s regalia, he was pleased to spend for our sakes that we might live; and ever since then we have been fed upon Jesus Christ himself. No other food would be adequate to our necessities. His flesh is meat indeed; his blood is drink indeed. This is the most royal dainty conceivable, for a soul to feed upon the Son of God. And yet we have fed upon him these many years. Let us bless and magnify our bounteous God, whose infinite favour has thus supplied our wants. But while he spares nothing for us, but gives everything to us, let us not meanly keep back anything from him. With such a generous God, generosity seems to be so natural that it ought to be spontaneous. The highest— the most ardent— form of service would seem to be but a trifling recompense for the immense expense which the Lord hath been at in supporting us these many years.

     May I ask you to think over the kind of portion and maintenance you have had from the king’s palace? Such thoughts will stir your gratitude. Beloved, we have had a bountiful supply. God has never stinted us. As the sun throws out his wealth of heat and light, and does not measure it by the consumption of men, but throws it broadcast over all worlds; even so does God flood the world with the sunlight of his goodness, and his saints are made to receive it in abundance. If you have ever been stinted it is not by God; you have stinted yourself. Our receptive faculty may be small, but his giving disposition is abundant. Floods of mercy, oceans of love, has he poured out for us. O, what a bountiful maintenance have we had! Enough and to spare. Our imagination could not have conceived greater wealth than is ours in the covenant of grace: for all things are yours— the gift of God. God being ours, the infinite is ours; the omniscient is ours; the omnipotent is ours. O, what a bountiful portion we have!

     And we have had an unfailing portion. As there has been much of it, so it has always come to us in due season. Times of need have come, but the needed supply has come too. If there be any believer here that has aught to testify against his God, let him do it. Hast thou ever rested on him, and found him fail thee? Didst thou ever trust him in vain? Are his promises false? Has he left thee in the deep waters? When thou passedst through the fires did the flames kindle upon thee? Hast thou found thy God a wilderness? Has he been barrenness in the day of thine extremity? No, beloved, our God has been bountiful, and he has continued his bounty, —not good by fits and starts, but ever gracious to us. I am fain, if this were the proper place, to stop and tell what I know of this; but then, surely, many older saints here might interrupt me, and say, “Let me speak of it.” I remember once trying to speak of the great goodness of God in the pulpit, when my venerable grandfather, who is now in heaven, was sitting behind me, and he pulled my coat tail and bade me stop, for he thought he could talk upon that better than I could; and, indeed, he could, because of his deep experience of the faithfulness of the living God. It is a great delight and benefit to younger men to hear their grey-headed sires stand up and say what they have known, and what they have proved of God’s eternal goodness. But I think we can say, whether young or old, if we have known his name a few years: —

“When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
Has gathered thick and thundered loud,
He near my soul has always stood,
His lovingkindness, oh, how good!”

He has been a faithful friend to us: we have been right well maintained from the king’s table.

     While the supply has thus been bountiful and continuous, it has ennobled us. For consider how great a thing it is to be supported from a king’s palace; but it is the greatest of all privileges to be living upon the bounty of the King of kings: “Such honour have all the saints.” Even the feeble Mephibosheths that are lame in their feet shall eat at the king’s table. The Lord Jesus, the good Shepherd, makes all his little ones to be like the ewe lamb of the parable, which was fed out of the man’s own cup, and did lie in his bosom. Even those that are weakest and meanest have this high honour— to be supplied by royalty itself with all that they need. Lift up your heads, ye that hang them down. Ye poor desponding saints that think yourselves less than the least of all, you are, everyone of you, king’s sons; you are all gentlemen commoners upon the King of kings. Your diet is better than that of the angels. God will sooner let Gabriel starve than you:

“Never did angels taste above,
Redeeming grace and dying love;”

Yet that is your daily bread, your morning meal and evening feast. Be glad. Hast thou little of temporal good? Well, but thy Father sends thee it. Dost thou mourn that thou hast so little spiritual good? Bless him that thou hast any, for it is God that sends thee it. Thou wouldst have had none if it were not for his infinite grace; therefore praise him for what thou hast, and confidently ask him for more.

     And there is reason for good cheer, in this, dear friends, that we have such a soul-satisfying portion in God. A soul that gets what God gives him has quite as much as he can hold, and as much as he can want. He has got a portion that might well excite envy. If the world did but know how happy and blessed Christians are, they would count them up in the royal family, and they would envy them beyond all others. There is nothing in the worldling’s estate to envy. The more he has the worse it will be for him to leave it. His fine gardens and lawns and parks will make it hard to die. The greater his earthly honour the worse will be his eternal dishonour. It must be to him a horrible thing to have had a high soar, and then to have all the greater fall because of it. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious because of the prosperity of the wicked.” What after all becomes of him that prospereth in his way? “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree; yet he passed away, and lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.” The place that has known the ungodly, and the lands they have called by their own name, soon become oblivious of their memory. Their record has perished quickly, and they, themselves, have gone back “to the vile dust from whence they sprang.” But thou hast eternity to be thy heritage! Thou hast heaven to be thy portion! The few drops of gall that are in thy cup to-day shall soon be rinsed out, and it shall be full of the nectar of celestial thrones. Be thou content now with thy brown bread and hard fare a little while, for thou shalt eat the delicacies of angels. Yea, and by faith thou dost even now feast upon the fat things full of marrow and the wines on the lees well refined, which thy God sends to thee from the king’s palace. Let us rejoice, dear brethren, if we are any of us downcast to-night, for our maintenance is from the king’s palace, and what can we want more?

“Father, I wait thy daily will:
Thou shalt divide my portion still.
Grant me on earth what seems thee best,
Till death and heaven reveal the rest.”

Thus we acknowledge the fact with lively interest and devout gratitude— “We have maintenance from the king’s palace.”

      II. Now, secondly, here is A DUTY RECOGNISED: “It was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour.”

     No doubt you will see the force of the argument without need of much explanation. It is good reasoning: If they were fed from the king’s palace it was not meet that they should stand by and sec the king dishonoured. The reasoning comes home to us. If we are so favoured— we, who are believers— with such a choice portion, it is not meet for us to sit down and see our God dishonoured. And here I will notice some things which dishonour God, and which we are bound not to put up with.

     By every sense of propriety we are bound not to see God dishonoured by ourselves. It is well to begin at home. Art thou doing anything that dishonours thy God, professor— anything at home, anything in thy daily avocation, anything in the way of conducting thy business? Is there anything in thy conversation, anything in thy actions, anything in thy reading, anything in thy writing, anything in thy speaking, that dishonours God?

     Seeing that thou art fed from the king’s table, I beseech thee let it not be said that the king got damage from thee. If there be a traitor let him be found somewhere else, but not among the Lord’s own chosen. Thou art bought with blood: wilt thou trample on that blood? The Crucified One died for thee: wilt thou crucify him afresh and put him to an open shame? Thou wilt soon be where Jesus is. Wouldst thou blush to see his face and to stand in his presence? What, and shall it ever be said that thou dost bring dishonour upon Jesus? God has given thee a portion above the angels: and wilt thou fill the devils’ mouths with laughter, and cause them to have whereof to glory against God? That be far from thee, my brother! The Lord grant us grace to feel that if we are maintained from the king’s palace it is not meet for us to cause the king dishonour!

     Perhaps that dishonour may come from those who dwell under our roof, and live in our own house. I charge you that are parents and masters to see to this. Do not tolerate anything in those over whom you have control that would bring dishonour to God. Remember Eli: he did not restrain his sons, and they behaved shamefully. They were the minister’s sons, and because they were not restrained, therefore God overthrew Eli’s house, and did such terrible things that the ears of him that heareth thereof might well tingle. Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We cannot impart to our children new hearts, but we can see to it that there shall be nothing within our gates that is derogatory to the religion of Jesus Christ. I charge you see to it. But you cannot control your children, you say. Then the Lord have mercy upon you! It is your business to do it, and you must do it, or else you will soon find they will control you; and no one knows what judgment will come from God upon those who suffer sin in children and servants to go unrebuked. No, if we are maintained from the king’s palace, let us not see the king’s dishonour.

     Let the same holy jealousy animate us among those with whom we have influence— as for instance, amongst those who wish to be united with us in church fellowship. It is the duty of every church to try, as far as it can, to guard the honour and dignity of King Jesus against unworthy persons, who would intrude themselves into the congregation of the saints, of those who are called, and chosen, and faithful. We are deceived, and always shall be, for the church never was infallible; but still let no negligence of our practice supplement the infirmity of our judgment. Because ungodly men will creep in unawares, we are not, therefore, to connive at their entrance. To allow persons to come to the communion-table who do not even profess to be born again, is a clear act of treason against the King of kings. To receive into our membership persons of unhallowed life, unchaste, unrighteous— of licentious life and lax doctrine, such as know not the truth as it is in Jesus — would be to betray the trust with which Christ has invested us. That must not be; and every church member is bound to do his best to guard the church against that which would render her unclean in the sight of God. If you are maintained from the king’s table, it is not meet that you should see the king’s dishonour.

     Under what sacred obligations do we stand to maintain the statutes and testimonies of the Lord. And, oh, how the king is dishonoured by the mutilation and misrepresentation of his word! Therefore, dear brethren, we are always bound to bear our protest against false doctrine. I am sometimes accused of saying sharp things. The charge does not come home to my conscience with very great power. If anybody said I spoke smooth things I think it would oppress me a great deal more. As long as there are evils in this world, God’s ministers are bound to protest against them. That man who, as he goes through the world, can say, “Hail, fellow, well met!” with everybody, and extol the modern Diana of charity— universal charity, false charity, charity towards the false— that man, when he comes to stand before his Maker, will find it hard to give in his account. In these days, when nobody believes anything, when everybody has subscribed to the belief that black is white, and white black, and colours are nothing at all but imaginary distinctions, it is time that somebody should believe something; and a little sharpness of speech might not only be excused, but commended, if we had but men who spoke what they did know, and testified honestly to the truth which they had received. Everyone here present, who is maintained from the king’s palace, is bound to fight against every doctrine which insults the king. When I see a man pretending to be a priest, and assuming that he has power to forgive sins and to dispense pardons and indulgences, were I not to do my best to unmask the deceiver and to speak against his imposition, I might be accounted accessory to his crime, chargeable with his guilt, and be made partaker of his condemnation. Therefore, let every Englishman, let every Protestant, and, above all, let every Christian, denounce priestcraft of every sort, and in every church, whether among Romanists, Anglicans, or Dissenters. Down with it! There is only one Priest, and he is in heaven; and none of us have any power to offer any sacrifice for sin, or any power to absolve our fellow-men. Whether ye accuse us of being censorious or not, the profanity appals us, the duplicity that is taken in by it amazes us; and the sincerity with which we love the gospel inflames us to make our protest heard. If we do not speak out about this crying perversion of the truth, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves! Then there be some in these days who deny the divinity of Christ; and there can be no terms of peace between us and them. I remember a remark of a Unitarian doctor, which I thought eminently correct. He said of a certain Calvinist, who was accused of speaking sharply against Unitarians, “Quite right; and so he ought, because if the Calvinist be right the Unitarian is not a Christian at all, but if the Unitarian be right the Calvinist is an idolator, because he worships one who is a man and is not the Son of God.” If what we hold be true, it is not possible that the man who denies the deity of Christ can be a Christian, nor can there be for him a hope of salvation. He deliberately refuses the only way of escape from the wrath to come. I can understand a man getting to heaven as a Roman Catholic, notwithstanding all his errors, because he believes in the divinity of Christ and relies on the expiatory sacrifice of his death, with whatever superstitions his creed may be overlaid; but I cannot understand, nor do I believe, that any man will ever enter those pearly gates who, in doubting or discrediting the deity of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, renounces the sheet-anchor of our most holy faith and dares to face his maker without a Counsellor, without an Advocate, without a plea for mercy ! It is time we said so, and spoke out plainly. This is no theme for trifling. Courtesies are thrown away upon antagonists whose cause is treason. Nor are we the men who should practise reserve; for if we are maintained from the king’s palace, we are cravens if we do not stand up for our king. Then there have been attacks made in modern times upon the doctrine of substitution. If the doctrine of substitution be not true, I am a lost man; therefore, tooth and nail, will I fight for it. No other hope beneath the skies have I, except in the expiatory substitution of the Lord Jesus Christ. If he did not suffer in my stead, the just for the unjust, then the flames of hell must be my portion. Therefore I can never give up that truth, for it is giving up my own salvation. But it has been revealed, and I cling to it with the most implicit credit. Do you tell me that “modern thought” assails it. How, and with what weapons, I ask? Is it with argument, with proof, or with any counter-suggestion? Oh, no, it is merely met with vague questionings, idle quibbles, and impertinent sneers— a style of answer that affects much, though it affirms nothing. I pray you, brethren, wherever you are, defend this fundamental doctrine of our most holy faith—that the Lord Jesus Christ has laid down his life to make atonement for the sins of his people. Or should we be confronted with any other form of false doctrine, or should we be haunted with any kind of scepticism — (scepticism! an anomalous thing, which is without form and void)— are we to stand with mealy mouths, and say, “Yes, brethren, you arc of that opinion, and I am of the other.” Nay, but opinion is light as a bubble, when judgment is pronounced by the supreme court from which there is no appeal. What, think ye? Is there no fact? Is there no truth? Is the word of God “yea” and “nay”? Has it come to this, that it is to be shuffled like a pack of cards, or shaped like a nose of wax, as every man may please? Oh, no! By the ever-living God there is truth somewhere, and that truth we will find out if we can; and, having found it, we will hold it fast. Let us, in the day of battle, use our standard; and if our arm be smitten off, we hope the standard will not fall, but that others will be found to hold it up as there were in the brave days of yore— when our fathers burned at the stake for these things, or went to the galleys, or perished amidst the Alps, sooner than the truth of God’s own word should be without witnesses among the sons of men! Bear none of these things in your hearts with tolerance; but hold fast to the things which ye have been taught, and hold them fast in faith and love to Christ Jesus.

     Those who have their maintenance from the king’s palace, ought not to allow the Lord to be dishonoured by a neglect of his ordinances. Brethren, I charge you who are believers, the Lord Jesus has given you only two symbolic ordinances. Take care that you use them well. Follow him in what he did, when he said, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Be baptised in his name. Follow him to the communion table. He said, “This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” Be obedient, I pray you, to his gracious word, and suffer not the King’s precept to be trifled with.

     Again, if we are indeed his courtiers, let us take care that he be not dishonoured by a general decline of his church. When churches go to sleep— when the work of God is done deceitfully— for to do it formally is lo do it deceitfully; — when there is no life in the prayer-meeting— when there are no holy enterprises afloat for the spread of the Redeemer’s kingdom: then the world says, “That is your church! What a sleepy set these saints are!” O, let not the king be thus dishonoured. Brethren, bestir yourselves! May this church never settle upon its lees, or fall into slumber as it grows older. May God grant it may grow more earnest! May there be ever here regiments of stalwart men who shall fight for King Jesus, and not be ashamed; and may the church be full of life and vigour till Christ himself shall come. When we sleep with our fathers, may there be others found better than we are to maintain the cause and crown rights of King Jesus.

     And oh, dear friends! how can we tolerate it that so many should dishonour Christ by rejecting his gospel. We cannot prevent their doing so, but we can weep for them; we can pray for them; we can plead for them; we can make it uncomfortable for them to reflect that believers are loving them, and yet they are not loving the Saviour. If you are fed from the king’s palace it is not meet that you see the king’s dishonour with dry eyes; if you hear a man swearing in the streets, mourn and lament it; if you see the Sabbath desecrated, grieve over it; if you behold drunkenness, do not laugh at it; if you hear lascivious songs, do not smile at them. Everything that is evil should be painful to a believer, and it ought to be an incessant sorrow to us that souls are perishing.

“Did Christ o’er sinners weep,
And shall our cheeks be dry?”

Privileged as you are, beloved, you ought to love your Master, so that the slightest word against him should provoke your spirit to holy jealousy.

     III. Our last point is this, — A COURSE OF ACTION PURSUED “Therefore,” says the text, “have we sent and certified the king.” How shall we do that? Doubtless we act as it well becomes us, when we go and tell the Lord all about it? “Certified the king”! — but does he not know? Are not all things open to him from whom no secrets are hid? Ah, yes; but when Hezekiah received Rab-shakeh’s blasphemous letter he took it and spread it before the Lord. It is a holy exercise of the saints to report to the Lord the sins and the sorrows they observe among the people— the griefs they feel, and the grievances they complain of— to spread before him the blasphemies they have heard, and appeal to him concerning the menaces with which they are threatened. Yea, ye may report to the Lord the false doctrine that is preached, and the foul sophistry that is printed in these days. Such plain statements might become mighty pleas with God that he should arise, assert his cause, and do his own work. Lord, thou knowest that this day the deity of thy Son has been insulted: the inspiration of thy word has been denied; the power of thy Holy Spirit has been ridiculed; thine eternal love has been denied; thine infinitely blessed sovereignty has been scoffed at; the atoning blood has been made a subject of contempt. Arise, O God, plead thine own cause! Behold, all over the world men are mad upon their idols! They give themselves to this falsehood and to the other lie. O God of truth, arise and avenge thyself! Hast thou not said, “Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries”? Do this, then. Give glory to whom glory is due, and let not the name of Jesus be for ever cast out as evil by ungodly men. This ought to be the constant pleading of the church: “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him?” O, it ought to be. Day and night cry about all this. The sin of this London, oh, if we felt it, it would weigh us down; — the drunkenness of London, the lust of London, the oppression of London, the wickedness of every shape that reeks, as from a dunghill, from this great city! O God, wilt thou always bear it? Wilt thou not rise and change all this? Wilt thou not give power to thy gospel that a gracious reformation may be made? Tell the Lord about it! Certify the king!

     After those people had certified the king, they took care to plead with him. As I have already told you, they apprized him that the city of Jerusalem was a very troublesome city, and therefore it ought not to be rebuilt. Plead with God: plead with God: plead with God! That praying is poor shift that is not made up of pleading. “Bring forth your reasons,” saith the Lord. Bring forth your strong arguments. O, what prayers were those of John Knox, when he seemed to say to God, “Save Scotland for this reason— for that reason— for another reason— for yet one more reason,”— the number of his motives still multiplying with the fervour of his heart. So did he labour with God as though he pleaded for his life, and would not let him go until he had gained his suit for Scotland. Why, Scotland’s knowledge of the truth is due doubtless, beyond everything else to John Knox’s prayers, which even now are ringing in heaven. He “being dead, yet speaketh.” O, for men of that calibre and that mind in this country, thus to plead for London! O, what a gem would London be in Christ’s crown! If Christ had but London, surely out of this great city, which is the very heart of the world in many respects, there would go streaming forth rivers of health and life and blessing to the utmost ends of the earth. Spread London’s case, then, before God, and plead with the Most High. And when you have done it, do not go away and make your prayers into a lie by contrary actions, or by refraining from any action at all. He that prays hard must work hard, for no man prays sincerely who is not prepared to use every effort to obtain that which he asks of God. We must put our shoulder to the wheel while we pray for strength to put it in motion, All success depends upon God; yet he uses instruments, and he will not use instruments that arc useless and unfitted to the work. “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves. But our sufficiency is of God, who hath made us able ministers,”— therefore let us be up and be stirring, for if we are maintained from the king’s palace, it is not meet that we see the king’s dishonour, but it is due to him that we should seek his glory.

     Now, I would that every one of you knew what it was to be maintained from the king’s palace; but alas! there are some here that have never eaten the king’s bread, and will be banished from the king’s presence if they die as they are. But, O remember, the king is always ready to receive his rebel subjects, and he is a God ready to pardon. “Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” That is the way of reconciliation— to put your trust in him; and if you do put your trust in his dear Son, you arc reconciled to him; you shall be maintained out of his palace; and then, I trust, you will live to his glory. Amen and amen.

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THE solitary champion who is here spoken of, who looked and “saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor;” and therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him; this conquering hero we cannot fail to recognise as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Prince of the house of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever may have been...

Isaiah 59:17

Zealous, but Wrong

WE ought to have an intense longing for the salvation of all sorts of men, and especially for those, if there are any, that treat us badly. We should never wish them ill, not for a moment; but in proportion to their malice should be our intense desire for their good. Israel had persecuted Paul everywhere with the bitterest imaginable hate. When he addressed them in their synagogues, they rushed...

Romans 10:1-3