John Mark; or Haste in Religion

Charles Haddon Spurgeon January 17, 1907 Scripture: Mark 14:50-52 From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 53

No. 3023
A Sermon Published on Thursday, January 17th, 1907,
Delivered by C.H. Spurgeon,
At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, In the Year 1864.

“And they all forsook him, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” — Mark 14:50-52.

THIS little episode in the narrative of the evangelist is very singular. One wonders why it is introduced; but a moment’s reflection will, I think suggest a plausible reason. It strikes me that this “certain young man” was none other than Mark himself. He was probably asleep; and, aroused by a great clamor, he asked what it was about The information was speedily given, “The guards have come to arrest Jesus of Nazareth.” Moved by sudden impulse, not thinking of what he was doing, he rises from his bed, rushes down, pursues the troopers, dashes into the midst of their ranks, as though he alone would attempt the rescue when all the disciples had fled. The moment the young men lay hold upon him, his heroic spasm is over; his enthusiasm evaporates; he runs away, leaves the linen cloth that was loosely wrapped about his body behind, and makes his escape. There have been many, since then, who have acted as Mark did; and it seems to me that this digression from the main narrative is intended to point a moral.

First, however, you will ask me, “Why do you suppose that this certain young man was Mark?” I grant you that it is merely a supposition, yet it is supported by the strongest chain of probabilities, and will sufficiently account for the manner in which he has inserted it Calvin, following Ambrose and Chrysostom, thinks it was John, albeit few modern critics attach much weight to that conjecture. I find that the more recondite critics of the modem school ascribe this transaction to Mark for these reasons: — It was usual, among the evangelists, to relate transactions in which they themselves took part without mentioning their own names. This commonly occurs in the case of John, for instance. He bashfully keeps back his name when there is anything to his credit, and he does the same when it is to the reverse. I could quote one or two instances of this practice in the Gospel of Luke, and it is not at all remarkable that, such a thing should have occurred in the case of Mark. Whoever it was, the only person likely to know it was the man himself. I cannot think that anyone else would have been likely to tell it to Mark, and, therefore, I conceive it to have been himself; for he might scarcely have thought it worthy of recording if it had been told him by someone else; and it is not likely that anyone to whom it had occurred would have felt it was much to his credit, and been likely to relate it to Mark with a view to its being recorded.

Again, we know that such a transaction as this was quite in keeping with Mark’s general character. We gather his character partly from the Book which he has written: the Evangel of Mark is the most impulsive of all the Gospels. You are aware, and I have frequently mentioned it to you, that the word eutheos, translated “straightway,” forthwith,” “immediately,” is used a very great number of times by this evangelist in his book. He is a man who does everything straightway; he is full of impulse, dash, fire, flash; the thing must be done, and done forthwith. His Gospel is of that description. You do not find many of Christ’s sermons in Mark. He gives you just a sketch, an outline. He had not perseverance enough to take the whole down; and he scarcely finishes the narration of the death of Christ His Book seems to break off abruptly, yet he is the most picturesque of all the evangelists. There are pieces of imagination, and there are Hogarthian touches, in the sacred biography he writes, that are not to be found in Matthew, or Luke, or John. The man is a man of fire; he is all enthusiasm. Poetry has filled his soul, and, therefore, he dashes at the thing. He lacks perseverance and will hardly finish what he takes in hand; yet there is a genius about him not altogether uncommon to Christian men in this age, and there are faults in him exceedingly common at the present time.

Once more, the known life of John Mark tends to make it very probable that he would do such a thing as is referred to in our text When Paul and Barnabas set out on their missionary enterprise, they were attended by Mark. As long as they were sailing across the blue waters, and as long as they were in the island of Cyprus, Mark stuck to them. Nay, while they traveled along the coast of Asia Minor, we find they had John Mark to be their minister; but the moment they went up into the inland countries, among the robbers and the mountain streams, — as soon as ever the road began to be a little too rough, John Mark left them, his missionary zeal had oozed out, At a later period, Mark was the cause of a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas. Paul would not have Mark with him any longer. He could not tame him; he did not believe in these impulsive people, who could not hold on under difficulties; but Barnabas, knowing him better, — for Mark was sister’s son to Barnabas, — and feeling a kinsman’s lenity to his faults, insisted upon it that they should take John Mark; and the altercation so violent between Paul and Barnabas that they separated on this account, and would not proceed together on their divine mission. Yet Barnabas was right, and I think that Paul was not wrong. Barnabas was right, in his mild judgment of Mark, for he was a sound believer at bottom, and, notwithstanding this fault, he was a real, truehearted disciple. We find him afterwards reconciled entirely to the apostle Paul. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry;” and we find Paul affectionately mentioning “Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas,” which shows, on the one hand, the apostle’s Christian candor and kindness, and, on the other hand, that Mark had retrieved his character by perseverance.

Tradition says that Mark became the Bishop of Alexandria. We, do not know whether that was correct or not, but it is likely enough that he was. Certainly he was with Paul at Rome, and the latter part of his life was spent with Peter at Babylon. See what a man he is. He goes to Rome, but he cannot stop there long. He has done his work in Rome. He is one of your fidgety people who do things all of a sudden; so away he goes to Alexandria. But methinks he must have found a very congenial friend in Peter. He would be a blessing to Peter, and Peter would be a blessing to him; for Peter’s disposition was cast in something of the same mold as his own. You may have noticed that Mark gives the most explicit account of Peter’s fall. He enters very fully into it I believe that he received it from Peter viva voce, and that Peter bade him write it down; and I think the modest spirit of Mark seemed to say, “Friend Peter, while the Holy Ghost moves me to, tell thy fault, and let it stand on record, he also constrains me to write my own as a sort of preface to it, for I, too, in my mad, harebrained folly, would have run, unclothed as I was, upon the guard to rescue my Lord and Master; yet, at the first sight, of the rough legionaries, at the first gleam of their swords, away I fled, timid, faint-hearted, and afraid that I should be too roughly handled.”

For these reasons, the supposition that this “certain young man” was John Mark appears to me not to be utterly baseless. There is no hypothesis in favor of any other man that is supported by equal probabilities. Very well, then. We will assume that he was the man, and use the incident as the groundwork of our discourse. We have some counterparts of him here, and we shall try to find them out, and make use of Mark’s blunder for their correction, in respect both to hasty following and hasty running away.

I. First, here is HASTY FOLLOWING.

John Mark does not wait to robe himself, but, just as he is, he dashes out for the defense of his Lord. Without a moment’s thought, taking no sort of consideration, down he goes into the cold night air to try and deliver his Master. Fervent zeal waited not for chary prudence. There was something good and something bad in this, something to admire as well as something to censure.

Beloved, it is a good and right thing for us to follow Christ, and to follow him at once; and it is a brave thing to follow him when his other disciples forsake him and flee. It is a bold and worthy courage to take deadly odds for Christ, and to rush, one against a thousand, for the honor of his dear hallowed name. Would that all professors of religion had the intrepidity of Mark! Would that all who have been careless about religion might emulate his haste, and be as precipitate in flying to Christ by faith as he was in running to the rescue in that hour of assault! The most of men are too slow; — fast enough in the world, but, ah! how slow in the things of God! I protest that, if corporations and companies were half as dilatory about worldly things as the Church of God is about spiritual things, instead of a railway accident every three or four months, we should have one every hour, and instead of a revolution every one or two centuries, it would be well if we did not have one every year, for, of all the indolent things in the world, the Church of Christ is the most sluggish. Of all people that dilly dally in this world. I think the professed servants of God are the most drony and faddling.

How slothful are the ungodly, too, in divine things! Tell them they are sick, and they hasten to a surgeon; tell them that their title-deeds are about to be attacked, and they will defend them with legal power; but tell them, in God’s name, that their soul is in danger, and they think it matters so little, and is of so small import that they will wait on, and wait on, and wait on, and doubtless continue to wait on till they find themselves lost for ever. Let me stir up those who have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to look diligently to their eternal state. You have tarried long enough. The time that you have been out of Christ is surely long enough for the lusts of the flesh. What fruit have you gathered in your impenitence and sin? How much have you been bettered by neglecting Christ, and minding worldly things? Has it not been all a dreary toil? It may have been decked out with a few transient pleasures; but, putting the ungodly life into the scale, what does it come to? “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Do year not confess this? Why, then, tarry any longer? Have you got any happiness in being an enemy to God? Then, why not be reconciled to him? Oh, that the Spirit of God would make you see that the time past has sufficed you to have wrought the will of the flesh!

Besides, how little time you have to spare! Even if you have much, Jesus demands that you repent now. “The Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” The gospel invitation is not for tomorrow, but for to-day. The warnings of the gospel all bid you shun procrastination. Is not this Satan’s great net in which men, like the silly fishes of the deep, are taken to their eternal destruction? O thou dove, pursued by the hawk, tarry not; but fly at once to the dove-cote, — to the wounds of Jesus, and find shelter there! Jesus calls thee. Come to him while he calleth thee. Why wilt thou delay? His cause needs thee. Young men, there are some of you who will spend the best of your days in Satan’s cause; and when we get you, as we hope we shall, we shall have to baptize into Christ your shrivelled ego, your palsied weakness. Let it not be so, I pray you. In these days of error and sin, Christ needs for his kingdom men who are strong and vigorous, young men who are strong, as John saith, and “have overcome the wicked one.” Fain would I turn recruiting sergeant, and enlist you for my Master. Oh, that you were on his side now! You cannot be too hasty here. If now the weapons of your rebellion are thrown down, if now you “kiss the Son, lest he be angry,” you will have waited already too long; you will not? you cannot come to Christ too soon. Hark! hark! I hear the chariot wheels of Death. He comes! he comes! And the axles of his chariot are hot with sped. He stands aloft, driving his white horse. The skeleton rider brandishes his awful spear, and you are the victim. God has spared you up till now, but he may not bid you spend another Sabbath-day here. I hear the mowers scythe everywhere, as I pass along, making ready to cut down the grass and the flower thereof. Death’s scythe is being sharpened now. He reaps his harvest, every day; and, whether you are prepared or not, you must be cut down when God’s time shall come.

Fly, then, I pray you; and though you be, like John Mark, unfit and unprepared, remember that you may come to Christ naked, for he can clothe you; you may come to Christ filthy, for he can wash you; you may come all unholy and defiled to Jesus, for he can put away your sin. Come! The Spirit of God seems to me to say to you, “Come.” I pray that he may bid you to come, and “lay hold on eternal life.” I do not know how it is, I sometimes feel for many of my hearers —especially for those of you whose faces I have seen for years, — an awful earnestness even when I am not in this pulpit; and I think then that, if I could get at your ear, I would plead with you. Bethink you how many like you I have buried. How often do I stand at the grave’s mouth, till sometimes, when, week after week, and twice each week, I stand there, I fancy myself talking to dying men, and not to living men at all, talking to a company of shadows that come and go before me, and I stand still, myself a shadow, soon to flit like the rest Oh, that I could talk to you as I then feel, and pour out my soul to you! We want a Baxter to bring men to immediate decision, — Baxter with weeping eyes and burning heart, — Baxter, who says, “I will go down on my knees to entreat you to think upon eternal things;” Baxter, who cries and groans for men till they cry and groan for themselves. Why will ye die? Why will ye lee that fatal procrastination kill you? Wherefore will ye put off seeking the Savior until your day is over? Why will ye still waste the candle which is so short? Why will ye let the day go when the sun dips already beneath the horizon? By the shortness of time, by the sureness of death, by the certainty of eternal judgment, I do beseech you to fly to Jesus, and to fly to Jesus now, eyes though it should be in the hurry of John Mark.

Now I change my note, for there is a haste that we must reprove. The precipitate running of Mark suggests an admonition that should put you on your guard. He came on a sudden by his religion, and there are some people who do this who might as well have no religion at all. That, however, was not the case with Mark. He was a genuine Christian character; yet, with nine out of ten of these people, I am afraid it is far otherwise. Let me address some here who have all of a sudden come to Christ I do not want to throw doubts in their way as to their sincerity, but I do want to incite them to examine themselves.

I am afraid some people make a hasty profession through the persuasion of friends. You walk with your friend, and he says, “I have joined the church; why don’t you do so?” He is not wise enough to put to you pointed questions which would let him see whether you are converted or not, but he unwisely presses you to make a profession when there is no grace in your heart I pray you, as soon as ever you know Christ, speak out for him, and come out, and show your colors; but I also beseech you never profess to follow Christ merely through the persuasion of friends. I trust no pious mother would ever recommend you to do so. I am sure no wise father would ever urge it upon you. They would bid you fly to Christ at once; but, as to making a profession of faith, they would have you see first whether the root of the matter be in you, and when they are persuaded, and you are persuaded that it is, they will throw no stumbling blocks in your way.

Young people, I pray you, do not be deceived in this matter. How many have we seen, in revival times, who have been induced to come forward to “the penitent form,” as it is called. That night, oh, how much they felt, because their natural sensibilities were strongly wrought upon; but the next morning, oh, how little have they felt! When the agencies that stimulated them have been withdrawn, when the meetings that stirred the embers, and the preacher that fanned the flame no longer exert any transient spell over them, their disenchanted souls sink down into a profound stupor. In many churches, there are so few making profession of religion, that there is not much danger of this evil; but here, where we receive so many every week, there is need for wise discrimination. I do beseech you never to sit down with a religion that comes to you merely through your being talked to by your acquaintances.

“True religion’s more than notion;
Something must be known and felt “

Nor are there a mere few who get their religion through excitement This furnishes another example of injudicious haste. They hear religion painted as being very beautiful; they see the beauty of it; they admire it; they think what a lovely thing it must be to be a Christian. Feeling this, and misled by a sort of excitement in their minds, they conclude that this is repentance. A false confidence they write down as faith. They eagerly infer that they are the children of God, whereas, alas! they are but the dupes of their own emotion, and still “the children of wrath, even as others.” Beware, I pray you, of a religion which lives upon excitement We ought to be filled with enthusiasm. A fervent love should make our hearts always glow. The zeal of God’s house should be our master-passion. Men never do much in politics till they grow warm upon a question; and, in religion, the very highest degree of excitement is not only pardonable, but praiseworthy. What, then, is it, which we deprecate? Not the emotions of spiritual life, but an exclusive dependence upon impulse. If you try to live upon the spell of a man’s words, upon the imposing grandeur of a multitude assembled together, upon the fascination of congregational singing, or even upon the heart-thrilling fervor of prayer-meetings, you will find the lack of substantial food, and the danger of an intoxicated brain. As it was with the quails which the children of Israel ate in the wilderness, God’s bounties may be fed upon to your injury. No, dear friends, there must be the real work of the Holy Ghost in the soul, or else the repentance we get will be a repentance which needs to be repented of.

I well know a town where there was a certain eminent revivelist, whom I greatly respect It was said that half the population had been converted under his ministry; but I do not think that, if the numbers were told at the present moment, there would be found a dozen of his converts. This revival work, where it is real and good, is God’s best blessing, but where it is flimsy and unreal, it, is Satan’s worse curse. Revivalists are often like the locusts. Before them, it, may not be quite an Eden; but, certainly, behind them, it is a desert when the excitement is over. I like rather to see the Word so preached that men are brought under its power by the force of the truth itself, and not by excitement; — by the truth of God being laid down in so clear a manner as to enlighten the judgment, rather than by perpetual appeals to the passions, which ultimately wear out the sinews of mental vigor, and make men more dull in religion than they were before.

Beware, I pray you, of getting the mere religion of poetry, enthusiasm, and rhapsody. Many profess Christ, and think to follow him, without counting the cost They fancy the road to heaven is all smooth, forgetting that the way is rough, and that there are many foes. They set out, like Mr. Pliable, for the Celestial City; but they stumble into the first bog, and then they say that, if they can but get out on the side nearest to their own house, Christian may have the brave country all to himself for them. Oh, the many we have seen, at divers times, that did seem to run well, but they ran in the strength of the flesh, and in the mists of ignorance. They had never sought God’s strength; they had never been emptied of their own works and their own conceits; consequently, in their best estate they were vanity; they were like the snail that melts as it crawls, and not like the snow-flake upon the Alps, which gathers strength in its descent, till it becomes a ponderous avalanche. God make you to be not meteors, but stars fixed in their place. I want you to resemble, not the ignis fatuus of the morass, but the steady beacon on the rock. There is a, phosphorescence that creeps over the summer sea, but who is ever lighted by it to the port of peace? And there is a phosphorescence which comes over some men’s minds; very bright, it seems, but it is of no value; it brings no man to heaven.

Be as hasty as John Mark, if it be a sound haste; but, take care that it be not a spasm of excitement, — a mere fit Otherwise, when the fit is over, you will go back to your old haunts and your old habits with shame. You will be like Saul among the prophets one day, and hating the anointed king the next So much, so earnestly would I warn you against hasty followings of Christ.

II. It only remains for me briefly to notice THE HASTY RUNNING AWAY.

I do not know that the persons who are readiest to run away are always those who were the fastest to make their profession; I am inclined to think not But some, who do run well at first, have hardly breath enough to keep the pace up, and so turn aside for a little comfortable ease, and do not get into the road again. Such are not genuine Christians; they are only men-made, self-made Christians; and these self-made Christians never hold on, and never can hold on, because time wears them out, and they turn back to their formed state.

There are two kinds of desertion which we denounce as hasty running away: the one temporary, the other final. To the members of the church, let me speak upon the former. My dear brethren and sisters, especially you who are young in years, and have lately been added to our number, I pray you, watch against temporary runnings away from the truth of Christ Think what a fool Mark made of himself. Here he comes; here is your hero. What wonders he is going to do! Here is a Samson for you. Perhaps he will slay his thousand men. But no; he runs away before he strikes a single blow. He has not even courage enough to be taken prisoner, and to be dragged away with Christ to the judgment-seat, and bear a patient witness there; but he turns bail at once, and away he flies. How simple he looked! How everybody in the crowd must have laughed at the venturesome coward, — the dastardly bravo! And what a feel will you seem if, after uniting yourself with the church, and seeming to be a servant of God, you shall give way under temptation! Some young man in the same shop laughs at you, and says, “Aha, aha, you are baptized, I hear;” and you tremble, like Peter, under the questioning of the little maid; or your master sees something wrong, and he makes some rough remark to you, “Well, this is a fine thing for a Christian soldier!” Cannot you face the enemy for the first time? “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

A religion that cannot stand a little laughter must be a very rotten one. We know some people, whose religion is on so unsound a basis, whose profession is so hollow, and whose position is so shaky, that they make a great noise when we touch them. Their system is of human construction, and rotten, and they know it, therefore are they angry if we do but allude to it Were it sound and good, then, whatever we might say would never frighten them. But, sirs, how many, who have made a fair show in the flesh, have been personally and individually tried and found wanting. “Tekel” has been written on the wall concerning them. Their first setting out was hasty, and they have been turned aside through a little laughter.

Do you not see, dear friends, that this will always render you very untrustworthy? If you shrink in this way, the church will never trust you. I hope you will be a leader in God’s Israel one day, young man. We are looking to you, if not to be a preacher, yet to be a church-officer one day; but who will ever ask you to do anything when you cannot keep steadfast, and hold your own position? He who has not grace enough to prevent his running away in the time of tribulation is not at all likely to be made a leader of God’s host The church will retain you, as it retained Mark, but it will always look upon you with a sort, of suspicion. We shall always say, “Where is So and-so? We know where he was yesterday; but where is he to-day?” Therefore, abstain from these inconsistencies for your own characters sake.

Besides, how much damage you do the church with which you are connected! All the persecutors and infidels outside the church’s walls can never harm us so much as inconsistent people inside. “Ah!” they say, “there is one of the people who go to the meeting,” when they see a man in the pot-house who sits at the communion table, “Ah! there is one of your religious people! He can cheat as well as anybody else. He knows how to thumb the yard measure. He knows how to give short weight He knows how to promise to pay on a certain day, and then get into the Bankruptcy Court The servants of Christ are no better than other people. They make a great fuss about their purity, but see what they will do.”

And then see what harm this will do to Christ’s Church itself. How many, who love God, will sit down, and weep when they see such inconsistencies in you! Good captains can endure wounds, they can even bear defeat; but they cannot bear to see, cowardice on the part of their troops; they cannot bear to see their men running away. If “the men of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turn back in the day of battle,” then their leader weeps, for the glorious cross of Christ is dishonored, the escutcheon is sullied, and the banner is trailed in the mud. May the Lord so keep us that our garments shall be always white; that, though before God we may have many sins to confess, we may stand like Job, and say, “Lord, thou knowest that I am not wicked.” May your testimony be so clear concerning the religion of Christ that those, who watch for your halting, and who hate you with a perfect hatred, may nevertheless find nothing against you, but may be constrained to say, “These are the servants of the living God, and they serve him indeed and of a truth.”

I urge you not to flee or to flinch. Some of us have had much lying and slander to bear in our time, but are we a whit the worse? Nay, and if we had to choose whether we would bear it again, would we not do so? We may have had to be laughed at and caricatured, but all that breaks no bones, and should not make a brave man wince. Who can be afraid or alarmed when his war cry is, “The Lord of hosts,” and when the banner of God’s own truth waves over his head? Be of good courage, my brethren, and you shall yet win the victory. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Christ ye shall have peace. Value the Holy Spirit above all things. Realize your entire dependence upon him. Pray for fresh grace. Venture not into the world without a fresh store of his hallowed influence. Live in the divine love. Seek to be filled with that blessed Spirit; and then, my brethren, even if the strong man armed shall lay hold of you, you will not flee away; shame shall not overtake you, dismay shall not affright your souls, but you shall stand in unblemished integrity to the end as the true servants of Jesus Christ.

And now, in concluding, what am I to say of a final apostasy? None of God’s people ever pursue their wanderings to this terrible issue. No vessel of mercy was ever finally wrecked. No elect souls can run to this fatal length of wickedness. But there are many, in the visible church, who do draw back to perdition. Many, who profess to belong to Christ, are branches that bear no fruit, and therefore are cut off, and cast into the fire. That may be the condition of some here present; it, may be the lot of some of you who “have a name to live, and are dead.” Let me plead with you. Oh, what a dreadful thing it will be if you apostatize after all! Shall I live to see you go back into the world? I would sooner bury you. Shall I live to see some of you, who have professed to find the Lord under my ministry, at last sinning with a high hand and an outstretched arm, and living worse than you did before? God spare us this evil thing! Let him chastise his servant in any way he thinks fit; but, O Lord, if possible, let not this be the rod, — to see professors become false!

Remember that, if you do apostatize, you have increased your guilt by the profession you have made, and impressed your character with a more terrible defilement When the unclean spirit went out of the man, and afterwards returned, he brought with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they entered in, and dwelt there, and the last state of that man was worse than the first It would have been better for you never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn aside to those crooked paths. Think what the dying bed of an apostate must be. Did you ever read of “The Groans of Spire?” That was a book, circulated about the time of the Reformation, — a book so terrible that even a man of iron could scarcely read it Spira knew the gospel, but yet went back to the Church of Rome. His conscience awoke on his dying bed, and his cries and shrieks wore too terrible to be endured by his nurses; and as to his language, it was despair written out at full length in capital letters. My eminent predecessor, Mr. Benjamin Keach, published a like narrative of the death of John Child, who became a minister of the gospel, but afterwards went back to the church from which he had seceded, and died in the most frightful despair. May God keep you from the death-bed of any man who has lived as a professing Christian, yet, who dies an apostate from the faith!

But what must be the apostate’s doom when. his naked soul goes before God? How can he hear that awful sentence, “Depart, thou cursed one; thou hast rejected me, and I reject thee; thou hast departed from me, I also have cast thee away for ever, and will not have mercy upon thee.” What will be this poor wretch’s shame, at the last great day, when, before the assembled multitudes, the apostate shall be unmasked? I think I see the profane and open sinners, who never professed religion, lifting themselves up from their beds of fire to point at him. “There he is,” says one; “will he preach the gospel in hell?” “There he is,” says another; “he rebuked me for cursing, yet he was a hypocrite himself.” “Aha!” says another, “here comes a psalm singing Methodist, one who was always at his meeting; he is the man who boasted of his religion, yet here he is.” No greater eagearness will ever be seen among Satanic tormentors than in that day when devils drag the hypocrite’s soul and the apostate’s spirit down to perdition. Bunyan pictures this with massive but awful grandeur of poetry when he speaks of the back way to hell. The devils were binding a man with nine cords, and were taking him from the road to heaven, in which he had profess to walk, and thrust him through the back door of hell. Mind that back way to hell, professors! You professors of religion, who have been in the church for years, “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” Examine yourselves, whether you be deceived. Look well to your state, see whether you are really in Christ, or not It is the easiest thing in the world to give a lenient verdict when you yourself are to be tried; but oh, I implore you, be just and true here. Be just to all, but be specially rigorous in judging yourself, Remember, if it be not a rock on which you build, your house will fall, and great will be the fall of it Oh, may the Lord give you sincerity, constancy, and firmness; and in no day, however evil, my you be tempted to turn aside; rather, may you hold fast by God and his truth, — by Christ and his cross, come what may!

My soul longeth, however many years God may spare me to walk in and out among you, to find you as earnest for God, and as loving towards Christ, as you are this day. I glory in you among all the churches. God has given you the spirit of faith, and prayer, of earnest zeal, and a sound mind. Unto him be the glory. But, as a church, do not backslide. Let not our fervor diminish, let not our zeal die out Let us love one another more tenderly than ever; let us cling fasb to one another; let us not be divided, let no root of bitterness springing up trouble us; firm and steadfast, shoulder to shoulder, like a phalanx of old, let us stand fast, and so repel the foe, and win the kingdom for Jesus Christ our Lord. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”