ROBINSON CRUSOE’S TEXT
“Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”— Psalm 1. 15.
ONE book charmed us all in the days of our youth. Is there a boy alive who has not read it? “Robinson Crusoe” was a wealth of wonders to me: I could have read it over a score times, and never have wearied. I am not ashamed to confess that I can read it even now with ever fresh delight. Robinson and his man Friday, though mere inventions of fiction, are wonderfully real to the most of us. But why am I running on in this way on a Sabbath evening? Is not this talk altogether out of order? I hope not. A passage in that book comes vividly before my recollection to-night as I read my text; and in it I find something more than an excuse. Robinson Crusoe has been wrecked. He is left in the desert island all alone. His case is a very pitiable one. He goes to his bed, and he is smitten with fever. This fever lasts upon him long, and he has no one to wait upon him— none even to bring him a drink of cold water. He is ready to perish. He had been accustomed to sin, and had all the vices of a sailor; but his hard case brought him to think. He opens a Bible which he finds in his chest, and he lights upon this passage, “Gall upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” That night he prayed for the first time in his life, and ever after there was in him a hope in God, which marked the birth of the heavenly life.
De Foe, who composed the story, was, as you know, a Presbyterian minister; and though not overdone with spirituality, he knew enough of religion to be able to describe very vividly the experience of a man who is in despair, and Who finds peace by casting himself upon his God. As a novelist, he had a keen eye for the probable, and he could think of no passage more likely to impress a poor broken spirit than this. Instinctively he perceived the mine of comfort which lies within these words.
Now I have everybody’s attention, and this is one reason why I thus commenced my discourse. But I have a further purpose; for although Robinson Crusoe is not here, nor his man Friday either, yet there may be somebody here very like him, a person who has suffered shipwreck in life, and who has now become a drifting, solitary creature. He remembers better days, but by his sins he has become a castaway, whom no man seeks after. He is here to-night, washed up on shore without a friend, suffering in body, broken in estate, and crushed in spirit. In the midst of a city full of people, he has not a friend, nor one who would wish to own that he has ever known him. He has come to the bare bone of existence now. Nothing lies before him but poverty, misery, and death.
Thus saith the Lord unto thee, my friend, this night, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” You have come here half hoping that there might be a word from God to your soul; “half-hoping,” I said; for you are as much under the influence of dread as of hope. You are filled with despair. To you it seems that God has forgotten to be gracious, and that he has in anger shut up the bowels of his compassion. The lying fiend has persuaded thee that there is no hope, on purpose that he may bind thee with the brazen fetters of despair, and hold thee as a captive to work in the mill of ungodliness so long as thou livest. Thou writest bitter things against thyself, but they are as false as they are bitter. The Lord’s mercies fail not. His mercy endureth for ever; and thus in mercy does he speak to thee, poor troubled spirit, even to thee— “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shall glorify me.”
I have the feeling upon me that I shall at this time speak home, God helping me, to some poor burdened spirit. In such a congregation as this, it is not everybody that can receive a blessing by the word that is spoken, but certain minds are prepared for it of the Lord. He prepares the seed to be sown, and the ground to receive it. He gives a sense of need, and this is the best preparation for the promise. Of what use is comfort to those who are not in distress? The word tonight will be of no avail, and have but little interest in it, to those who have no distress of heart. But, however badly I may speak, those hearts will dance for joy which need the cheering assurance of a gracious God, and are enabled to receive it as it shines forth in this golden text: “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shall glorify me.” It is a text which I would have written in stars across the sky, or sounded forth with trumpet at noon from the top of every tower, or printed on every sheet of paper which passes through the post. It should be known and read of all mankind.
Four things suggest themselves to me. May the Holy Ghost bless what I am able to say upon them!
I. The first observation is not so much in my text alone as in the text and the context. REALISM IS PREFERRED TO RITUALISM. If you will carefully read the rest of the Psalm you will see that the Lord is speaking of the rites and ceremonies of Israel, and he is showing that he has little care about formalities of worship when the heart is absent from them. I think we must read the whole passage: “I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the Most High: and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Thus praise and prayer are accepted in preference to every form of offering which it was possible for the Jew to present before the Lord. Why is this?
First of all I would answer, real prayer is far better than mere ritual, because there is meaning in it, and when grace is absent, there is no meaning in ritual; it is as senseless as an idiot’s game.
Did you ever stand in some Romish cathedral and see the daily service, especially if it happened to be upon a high day? What with the boys in white, and the men in violet, or pink, or red, or black, there were performers enough to stock a decent village. What with those who carried candlesticks, and those who carried crosses, and those who carried pots and pans, and cushions and books, and those who rang bells, and those who made a smoke, and those who sprinkled water, and those who bobbed their heads, and those who bowed their knees, the whole concern was very wonderful to look at, very amazing, very amusing, very childish. One wonders, when he sees it, whatever it is all about, and what kind of people those must be who are really made better by it. One marvels also what an idea pious Romanists must have of God if they imagine that he is pleased with such performances. Do you not wonder how the good Lord endures it? What must his glorious mind think of it all?
Albeit that the incense is sweet, and the flowers are pretty, and the ornaments are fine, and everything is according to ancient rubric; what is there in it? To what purpose that procession? To what end that decorated priest?— that gorgeous altar? Do these things mean anything? Are they not a senseless show?
The glorious God cares nothing for pomp and show; but when you call upon him in the day of trouble, and ask him to deliver you, there is meaning in your groan of anguish. This is no empty form; there is heart in it, is there not? There is meaning in the appeal of sorrow, and therefore God prefers the prayer of a broken heart to the finest service that ever was performed by priests and choirs. There is meaning in the soul’s bitter cry, and there is no meaning in the pompous ceremony. In the poor man’s prayer there are mind, heart, and soul; and hence it is real unto the Lord. Here is a living soul seeking contact with the living God in reality and m truth. Here is a breaking heart crying out to the compassionate Spirit. Ah! you may bid the organ peal forth its sweetest and its loudest notes, but what is the meaning of mere wind passing through pipes? A child cries, and there is meaning of mere wind passing through pipes? A child cries, and there is meaning in that. A man standing up in yonder corner groans out, “O God, my heart will break!” There is more force in his moan than in a thousand of the biggest trumpets, drums, cymbals, tambourines, or anv other instruments of music wherewith men seek to please God nowadays. What madness to think that God cares for musical sounds, or ordered marchings, or variegated garments! In a tear, or a sob, or a cry, there is meaning, but in mere sound there is no sense, and God cares not for the meaningless. He cares for that which hath thought and feeling in it.
Why does God prefer realism to Ritualism? It is for this reason also that there is something spiritual in the cry of a troubled heart; and “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Suppose I were to repeat to-night the finest creed for accuracy that was ever composed by learned and orthodox men; yet, if I had no faith in it, and yon had none, what were the use of the repetition of the words? There is nothing spiritual in mere orthodox statement if we have no real belief therein: we might as well repeat the alphabet, and call it devotion. And if we were to burst forth to-night in the grandest hallelujah that ever pealed from mortal lips, and we did not mean it, there would be nothing spiritual in it, and it would be nothing to God. But when a poor soul gets away into its chamber, and bows its knee and cries, “God be merciful to me! God save me! God help me in this day of trouble!” there is spiritual life in such a cry, and therefore God approves it and answers it. Spiritual worship is that which he wants, and he will have it, or have nothing. “They that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” He has abolished the ceremonial law, destroyed the one altar at Jerusalem, burned the Temple, abolished the Aaronic priesthood, and ended for ever all ritualistic performance; for he seeketh only true worshippers, who worship him in spirit and in truth.
Further, the Lord loves the cry of the broken heart because it distinctly recognizes himself as the living God, in very deed sought after in prayer. From much of outward devotion God is absent But how we mock God when we do not discern him as present, and do not come nigh unto his very self! When the heart, the mind, the soul, breaks through itself to get to its God, then it is that God is glorified, but not by any bodily exercises in which he is forgotten. Oh, how real God is to a man who is perishing, and feels that only God can save him! He believes that God is, or else he would not make so piteous a prayer to him. He said his prayers before, and little cared whether God heard or not; but he prays now, and God’s hearing is his chief anxiety.
Besides, dear friends, God takes great delight in our crying to him in the day of trouble because there is sincerity in it I am afraid that in the hour of our mirth and the day of our prosperity many of our prayers and our thanksgivings are hypocrisy. Too many of us are like boys’ tops, that cease to spin except they are whipped. Certainly we pray with a deep intensity when we get into great trouble. A man is very poor: he is out of a situation; he has worn his shoes out in trying to find work; he does not know where the next meal is coming from for his children; and if he prays now it is likely to be very sincere prayer, for he is in real earnest on account of real trouble. I have sometimes wished for some very gentlemanly Christian people, who seem to treat religion as if it were all kid gloves, that they could have just a little time of the “roughing” of it, and really come into actual difficulties. A life of ease breeds hosts of falsehoods and pretences, which would soon vanish in the presence of matter-of-fact trials. Many a man has been converted to God in the bush of Australia by hunger, and weariness, and loneliness, who, when he was a wealthy man, surrounded by gay flatterers, never thought of God at all. Many a man on board ship on yon Atlantic has learned to pray in the cold chill of an iceberg, or in the horrors of the trough of the wave out of which the vessel could not rise. When the mast has gone by the board, and every timber has been strained, and the ship has seemed doomed, then have hearts begun to pray in sincerity; and God loves sincerity. When we mean it; when the soul melts in prayer; when it is “I must have it, or be lost when it is no sham, no vain performance, but a real heart-breaking, agonizing cry, then God accepts it. Hence he says," Call upon me in the day of trouble.” Such a cry is the kind of worship that he cares for, because there is sincerity in it, and this is acceptable with the God of truth.
Again, in the cry of the troubled one there is humility. We may go through a highly brilliant performance of religion, after the rites of some gaudy church; or we may go through our own rites, which are as simple as they can be; and we may be all the while saying to ourselves, “This is very nicely done.” The preacher may be thinking, “Am I not preaching well?” The brother at the prayer-meeting may feel within himself, “How delightfully fluent I am!” Whenever there is that spirit in us, God cannot accept our worship. Worship is not acceptable if it be devoid of humility. Now, when in the day of trouble a man goes to God, and says, “Lord, help me! I cannot help myself out do thou interpose for me,” there is humility in that confession and cry, and hence the Lord takes delight in them. You, poor woman over here, deserted by your husband, and ready to wish that you could die, exhort you to call upon God in the day of trouble, for I know that you will pray a humble prayer. You, poor trembler over yonder; you have done very wrong, and are likely to be found out and disgraced for it, but I charge you to cry to God in prayer, for I am sure there will be no pride about your petition. You will be broken in spirit, and humble before God, and “a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
Once more, the Lord loves such pleadings because there is a measure of faith in them. When the man in trouble cries, “Lord, deliver me!” he is looking away from himself. You see, he is driven out of himself because of the famine that is in the land. He cannot find hope or help on earth, and therefore he looks towards heaven. Perhaps he has been to friends, and they have failed him, and therefore, in sheer despair, he seeks his truest Friend. At last he comes to God; and though he cannot say that he believes in God’s goodness as he ought, yet he has some dim and shadowy faith in it, or else he would not be coming to God in this his time of extremity. God loves to discover even the shadow of faith in his unbelieving creature. When faith does, as it were, only cross over the field of the camera, so that across the photograph there is a dim trace of its having been there, God can spy it out, and he can and will accept prayer for the sake of that little faith. Oh, dear heart, where art thou? Art thou torn with anguish? Art thou sore distressed? Art thou lonely? Art thou cast away? Then cry to God. None else can help thee; now art thou shut up to him. Blessed shutting up! Cry to him, for he can help thee; and I tell thee, in that cry of thine there will be a pure and true worship, such as God desires, far more than the slaughter of ten thousand bullocks, or the pouring out of rivers of oil. It is true, assuredly, from Scripture, that are the groan of a burdened spirit is among the sweetest sounds that ever heard by the ear of the Most High. Plaintive cries are anthems with him, to whom all mere arrangements of sound must be as child’s-play.
See then, poor, weeping, and distracted ones, that it is not Ritualism, it is not the performance of pompous ceremonies, it is not bowing and scraping, it is not using sacred words; but it is crying to God in the hour of your trouble; which is the most acceptable sacrifice your spirit can bring before the throne of God.
II. Come we now to our second observation. May God impress it upon us all! In our text we have ADVERSITY TURNED TO ADVANTAGE. “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.”
We say it with all reverence, but God himself cannot deliver a man who is not in trouble, and therefore it is some advantage to be in distress, because God can then deliver you. Even Jesus Christ, the Healer of men, cannot heal a man who is not sick; so that it turns to our advantage to be sick, in order that Christ may heal us. Thus, my hearer, your adversity may prove your advantage by offering occasion and opportunity for the display of divine grace. It is great wisdom to learn the art of making honey out of gall, and the text teaches us how to do that; it shows how trouble can become gain. When you are in adversity, then call upon God, and you shall experience a deliverance which will be a richer and sweeter experience for your soul than if you had never known trouble. Here is the art and science of making gains out of losses, and advantages out of adversities.
Now let me suppose that there is some person here in trouble. Perhaps another deserted Robinson Crusoe is among us. I am not idly supposing that a tried individual is here; he is so. Well now, when you pray— and oh! I wish yon would pray now— do you not see what a plea you have? You have first a plea from the time: “Call upon me in the day of trouble.” You can plead, “Lord, this is a day of trouble! I am in great affliction, and my case is urgent at this hour.” Then state what your trouble is— that sick wife, that dying child, that sinking business, that failing health, that situation which you have lost— that poverty which stares you in the face. Say unto the Lord of mercy, “My Lord, if ever a man was in a day of trouble, I am that man; and therefore I take leave and license to pray to thee now, because thou hast said, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble.' This is the hour which thou hast appointed for appealing to thee: this dark, this stormy day. If ever there was a man that had a right given him to pray by thy own word, I am that man, for I am in trouble, and therefore I will make use of the very time as a plea with thee. Do, I beseech thee, hear thy servant’s cry in this midnight hour.”
Next, you can not only make use of the time as a plea; but you may urge the trouble itself. You may argue thus, “Thou hast said, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble.' O Lord, thou seest how great my trouble is. It is a very heavy one. I cannot bear it, or get rid of it. It follows me to my bed; it will not let me sleep. When I rise up it is still with me, I cannot shake it off. Lord, my trouble is an unusual one: few are afflicted as I am; therefore give me extraordinary succour! Lord, my trouble is a crushing one; if thou do not help me, I shall soon be broken up by it!” That is good reasoning and prevalent pleading.
Further, turn your adversity to advantage by pleading the command. You can go to the Lord now, at this precise instant, and say, “Lord, do hear me, for thou hast commanded me to pray! I, though I am evil, would not tell a man to ask a thing of me, if I intended to deny him; I would not urge him to ask help, if I meant to refuse it.” Do you not know, brethren, that we often impute to the good Lord conduct which we should be ashamed of in ourselves? This must not be. If you said to a poor man, “You are in very sad circumstances; write to me to-morrow, and I will see to your affairs for you;” and if he did write to you, you would not treat his letter with contempt. You would be bound to consider his case. When you told him to write, you meant that you would help him if you could And when God tells you to call upon him, he does not mock you: he means that he will deal kindly with you. You are not urged to pray in the hour of trouble, that you may experience all the deeper disappointment. God knows that you have trouble enough without the new one of unanswered prayer. The Lord will not unnecessarily add even a quarter of an ounce to your burden; and if he bids you call upon him, you may call upon him without fear of failure. I do not know who you are. You may be Robinson Crusoe, for aught I know, but you may call on the Lord, for he bids you call; and, if you do call upon him, you can put this argument into your prayers:
“Lord, thou hast bid me seek thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And shall the ear of sovereign grace
Be deaf when I complain?”
So plead the time, and plead the trouble, and plead the command; and then plead with God his own character. Speak with him reverently, but believingly, in this fashion, “Lord, it is thou thyself to whom I appeal. Thou hast said, ‘Call upon me.' If my neighbour had bidden me do so, I might have feared that perhaps he would not hear me, but would change his mind; but thou art too great and good to change. Lord, by thy truth and by thy faithfulness, by thy immutability and by thy love, I, a poor sinner, heart-broken and crushed, call upon thee in the day of trouble! Oh, help thou me, and help me soon; or else I die!” Surely you that are in trouble have many and mighty pleas. You are on firm ground with the angel of the covenant, and may bravely seize the blessing. I do not feel to-night as if the text encouraged me one-half so much as it must encourage others of you, for I am not in trouble just now, and you are. I thank God I am full of joy and rest; but I am half inclined to see if I cannot patch up a little bit of trouble for myself: surely if I were in trouble, and sitting in those pews, I would open my mouth, and drink in this text, and pray like David, or Elias, or Daniel, in the power of this promise, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
O, you troubled ones, leap up at the sound of this word! Believe it. Let it go down into your souls. “The Lord looseth the prisoners.” He has come to loose you. I can see my Master arrayed in his silken garments, his countenance is joyous as heaven, his face is bright as a morning without clouds, and in his hand he bears a silver key. “Whither away, my Master, with that silver key of thine?” “I go,” saith he, “to open the door to the captive, and to loosen every one that is bound.” Blessed Master, fulfil thy errand; but pass not these prisoners of hope! We will not hinder thee for a moment; but do not forget these mourners! Go up these galleries, and down these aisles, and set free the prisoners of Giant Despair, and make their hearts to sing for joy because they have called upon thee in the day of trouble, and thou hast delivered them, and they shall glorify thee!
III. My third head is clearly in the text. Here we have FREE GRACE LAID UNDER BONDS.
Nothing in heaven or earth can be freer than grace, but here is grace putting itself under bonds of promise and covenant. Listen. "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.” If a person has once said to you, u I will,” you hold him; he has placed himself at the com mand of his own declaration. If he is a true man, and has plainly said, "I will,” you have him in your hand. He is not free after giving a promise as he was before it; he has set himself a certain way, and he must keep to it. Is it not so? I say so with the deepest reverence towards my Lord and Master, he has bound himself in the text with cords that he cannot break. He must now hear and help those who call upon him in the day of trouble. He has solemnly promised, and he will fully perform.
Notice that this text is unconcditional as to the persons. It contains the gist of that other promise—” Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The people who are specially addressed in the text had mocked God; they had presented their sacrifices without a true heart; but yet the Lord said to each of them, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.” Hence I gather that he excludes none from the promise. Thou atheist, thou blasphemer, thou unchaste and impure one, if thou callest upon the Lord now, in this the day of thy trouble, he will deliver thee! Come and try him. "If there be a God,” sayest thou? But there is a God, say I; come, put him to the test, and see. He saith, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.” Will you not prove him now? Come hither, ye bondaged ones, and see if he doth not free you! Come ye to Christ, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and he will give you rest! In temporals and in spirituals, but specially in spiritual things, call upon him in the day of trouble, and he will deliver you. He is bound by this great unrestricted word of his, about which he has put neither ditch nor hedge; whosoever will call upon him in the day of trouble, shall be delivered.
Moreover, notice that this “I will” includes all needful power which may be required for deliverance. “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.” “But how can this be?” cries one. Ah! that I cannot tell you, and I do not feel bound to tell you: it rests with the Lord to find suitable ways and means. God says, “I will.” Let him do it in his own way. If he says, “I will,” depend upon it he will keep his word. If it be needful to shake heaven and earth, he will do it; for he cannot lack power, and he certainly does not lack honesty; and an honest man will keep his word at all costs, and so will a faithful God. Hear him say, “I will deliver thee,” and ask no more questions. I do not suppose that Daniel knew how God would deliver him out of the den of lions. I do not suppose that Joseph knew how he would be delivered out of the prison when his mistress had slandered his character so shamefully. I do not suppose that these ancient believers dreamed of the way of the Lord’s deliverance; but they left themselves in God’s hands. They rested upon God, and he delivered them in the best possible manner. He will do the like for you; only call upon him, and then stand still, and see the salvation of God.
Notice, the text does not say exactly when.“I will deliver thee” is plain enough; but whether it shall be to-morrow, or next week, or next year, is not so clear. You are in a great hurry; but the Lord is not. Your trial may not yet have wrought all the good to you that it was sent to do, and therefore it must last longer. When the gold is cast into the fining-pot, it might cry to the goldsmith, “Let me out.” “No,” saith he, “you have not yet lost your dross. You must tarry in the fire till I have purified you.” God may therefore subject us to many trials; and yet if he says, “I will deliver thee,” depend upon it he will keep his word. The Lord’s promise is like a good bill from a substantial firm. A bill may be dated for three months ahead; but anybody will discount it if it bears a trusted name. When you get God’s “I will,” you may always cash it by faith; and no discount need be taken from it, for it is current money of the merchant even when it is only “I will.” God’s promise for the future is good bond fide stuff for the present, if thou hast but faith to use it, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee,” is tantamount to deliverance already received. It means, “If I do not deliver thee now, I will deliver thee at a time that is better than now, when, if thou wert as wise as I am, thou wouldst prefer to be delivered rather than now.”
But promptitude is implied, for else deliverance would not be wrought. “Ah!” says one, “I am in such a trouble that if I do not get deliverance soon I shall die.” Rest assured that you shall not die. You shall be delivered, and therefore you shall be delivered before you quite die of despair. He will deliver you in the best possible time. The Lord is always punctual. You never were kept waiting by him. You have kept him waiting long enough; but he is prompt to the instant. He never keeps his servants waiting one single tick of the clock beyond his own appointed, fitting, wise, and proper moment. “I will deliver thee,” implies that his delays will not be too protracted, lest the spirit of man should fail because of hope deferred. The Lord rideth on the wings of the wind when he comes to the rescue of those who seek him. Wherefore, be of good courage!
Oh, this is a blessed text! and yet what can I do with it? I cannot carry it home to those of you who want it most Spirit of the living God, come thou, and apply these rich consolations to those hearts which are bleeding and ready to die!
Do notice this text once again Let me repeat it, putting the emphasis in a different way: “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee.” Pick up the threads of those two words. “I will deliver thee; men would not; angels could not; but I will.” God himself will set about the rescue of the man that calls upon him. It is yours to call: and it is God’s to answer. Poor trembler, you begin to try to answer your own prayers! Why did you pray to God then? When you have prayed, leave it to God to fulfill his own promise. He says, “Do thou call upon me, and I will deliver thee.”
Now take up that other word: “I will deliver thee.” I know what you are thinking, Mr. John. You murmur, “God will deliver everybody, I believe, but not me.” But the text saith, “I will deliver thee.” It is the man that calls that shall get the answer. Mary, where art thou? If thou callest upon God he will answer thee. He will give thee the blessing even to thy own heart and spirit, in thy own personal experience. “Call upon me,” says he, “in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee” Oh, for grace to take that personal pronoun home to one’s soul, and to make sure of it as though you could see it with your own eyes! The apostle tells us, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.” Assuredly I know that the worlds were made by God. I am sure of it; and yet I did not see him making them. I did not see him when the light came because he said, “Let there be light.” I did not see him divide the light from the darkness, and the waters that are beneath the firmament from the waters that are above the firmament, but I am quite sure that he did all this. All the evolution gentlemen in the world cannot shake my conviction that creation was wrought by God, though I was not there to see him make even a bird, or a flower. Why should I not have just the same kind of faith to-night about God’s answer to my prayer if I am in trouble? If I cannot see how he will deliver me, why should I wish to see? He created the world well enough without my knowing how he was to do it, and he will deliver me without my having a finger in it. It is no business of mine to see how he works. My business is to trust in my God, and glorify him by believing that what he has promised he is able to perform.
IV. Thus we have had three sweet things to remember; and we close with a fourth, which is this: here are GOD AND THE PRAYING MAN TAKING SHARES.
That is an odd word to close with, but I want you to notice it. Here are the shares. First, here is your share: “Call upon me in the day of trouble.” Secondly, here is God’s share: “I will deliver thee.” Again, you take a share—for you shall be delivered. And then again it is the Lord’s turn—“Thou shalt glorify me.” Here is a compact, a covenant that God enters into with you who pray to him, and whom he helps. He says, “You shall have the deliverance, but I must have the glory. You shall pray; I will bless; and then you shall honour my holy name.” Here is a delightful partnership: we obtain that which we do greatly need, and all that God getteth is the glory which is due unto his name. Poor troubled heart! I am sure you do not demur to these terms. “Sinners,” saith the Lord, “I will give you pardon, but you must give me the honour of it.” Our only answer is, “Ay, Lord, that we will, for ever and ever.”
“Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?”
“Come, souls,” says he, “I will justify you, but I must have the glory of it.” And our answer is, “Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By the law of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” God must have the glory if we are justified by Christ.
“Come,” says he,” I will put you into my family, but my grace must have the glory of it;” and we say, “Ay, that it shall, good Lord l Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.”
“Now,” says he, “I will sanctify you, and make you holy, but I must have the glory of it;” and our answer is, “Yes, we will sing for ever—’ We have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore will we serve him day and night in his temple, giving him all praise.’ ”
“I will take you home to heaven,” says God: “I will deliver yon from sin and death and hell; but I must have the glory of it.” “Truly,” say we, “Thou shalt be magnified. For ever and for ever we will sing. ‘Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.’ ”
Stop, you thief, there! What are you at? Running away with a portion of God’s glory? What a villain he must be! Here is a man that was lately a drunkard, and God has loved him and made him sober, and he is wonderfully proud because he is sober. What folly! Have done, sir! Have done! Give God the glory of your deliverance from the degrading vice, or else you are still degraded by ingratitude. Here is another man. He used to swear once; but he has been praying now; he even delivered a sermon the other night, or at least an open-air address. He has been as proud about this as any peacock. O bird of pride, when you look at your fine feathers, remember your black feet, and your hideous voice! O reclaimed sinner, remember your former character, and be ashamed! Give God the glory if you have ceased to be profane. Give God the glory for every part of your salvation.
Alas! even some divines will give man a little of the glory. He has a free will, has he not? Oh, that Dagon of free will! How men will worship it! The man did something towards his salvation, by virtue of which he ought to receive some measure of honour! Do you really think so? Then say as you think. But we will have it from this pulpit, and we will declare it to the whole world, that when a man reaches heaven there shall not a particle of the glory be due to himself; he shall in no wise ascribe honour to his own feeble efforts; but unto God alone shall be the glory. “Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.”
“Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver thee”—that is your part. But “Thou shalt glorify me”—that is God’s part. He must have all the honour from first to last.
Go out henceforth, you saved ones, and tell out what the Lord has done for you. An aged woman once said that if the Lord Jesus Christ really did save her, he should never hear the last of it. Join with her in that resolve. Truly my soul vows that my delivering Lord shall never hear the last of my salvation.
“I’ll praise him in life, and praise him in death,
And praise him as long as he lendeth me breath;
And say when the death-dow lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.’ ”
Come, poor soul, you that came in here to-night in the deepest of trouble, God means to glorify himself by you! The day shall yet come when you shall comfort other mourners by the rehearsal of your happy experience. The day may yet come when you that were a castaway shall preach the gospel to castaways. The day shall yet come, poor fallen woman, when you shall lead other sinners to the Saviour’s feet, where now you stand weeping! Thou abandoned of the devil, whom even Satan is tired of, whom the world rejects because thou art worn out and stale— the day shall yet come when, renewed in heart, and washed in the blood of the Lamb, thou shalt shine like a star in the firmament, to the praise of the glory of his grace who hath made thee to be accepted in the Beloved! O desponding sinner, come to Jesus! Do call upon him, I entreat you! Be persuaded to call upon your God and Father. If you can do no more than groan, groan unto God. Drop a tear, heave a sigh, and let your heart say to the Lord, “O God, deliver me, for Christ’s sake! Save me from my sin and the consequences of it.” As surely as you thus pray, he will hear you, and say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee. Go in peace.’ So may it be. Amen.