The Drought of Nature, The Rain of Grace, and the Lesson Therefrom
“And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads. Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads. Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” — Jeremiah xiv. 3, 4, 22.
IT is my heart’s desire and earnest prayer that many in this house may this morning say with the prophet, “O Lord our God, we will wait upon thee.” I shall not be satisfied to have delivered a discourse, nor for you to have heard it, and even approved of it, unless there shall come from it this delightful fruit, that those far off from God shall be drawn near to him; and shall say, in very deed and of a truth, “Therefore we will wait upon thee.” In God alone can men live happily; and if they would be recovered from their fallen state, it is to the Lord their God that they must turn. Oh, that they would wait upon him!
In the last verse we have the word “therefore,” which shows that the speakers had come to this conclusion by an argument. In truth, they had been forced to their resolution by a very painful and personal argument, which God had set before them in the order of his providence. By their thirst, and by their failure to find water anywhere, the Lord had driven them to say, “Therefore we will wait upon thee.” I trust it will not be needful to urge us to conversion by sufferings as terrible. “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding.” Come willingly, since the argument for coming is clear and cogent. I should like you to go this morning mentally through the process by which the Israelites passed practically when they came to the gracious conclusion, “Therefore we will wait upon thee.” Let us begin at once with the argument, praying God to send it home to every heart by his good Spirit, that we may reach the desired conclusion.
I. First, consider that MAN IS A VERY DEPENDENT CREATURE. He is, in some respects, the most dependent creature that God has made; for the range of his wants is very wide, and at a thousand points he is dependent upon something outside of himself. All creation exists by the will of the Lord; and if his will should cease to send forth conserving power to maintain the created things in existence, they would all cease to be. This great world— the sun, the moon, the stars — would all dissolve; and, as a moment’s foam dissolves into the wave that bears it, they would be lost for ever. At the Lord’s will the universe would be gone, as yonder bubble which your child was blowing but a moment ago, which now has vanished, and left no trace behind. God alone is by his own power: all else is dependent upon him.
“Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown,
Hang on his firm decree:
He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be.”
Man, as a living creature, is peculiarly dependent upon God as to temporals. We see in the text that when the dews no longer fell, and the rains were withholden, then the unhappy inhabitants of Palestine suffered from drought, and that drought brought with it failure of the harvest, famine, disease, and death. To quote our common saying, the people died like flies. They fell everywhere by thousands, fainting, famished, doomed. On what a feeble thread hangs human life! Water, though it be itself unstable, is needful to the establishment of human life, and without it man expires. Many an animal can bear thirst better than man. Other creatures carry their own garments with them; but we must be indebted to a plant, or to a sheep, for the covering of our nakedness. Many other creatures are endowed with sufficient physical force to win their food in fight; but we must produce our own food from the soil. Behold, how we come into the world, helpless and strengthless, utterly dependent upon others; and when our strength is developed, and our manhood is perfected, we only enter upon another phase of dependence upon our surroundings for our food; and hence, for our life, we are dependent upon drops of rain. We cannot produce food from the earth without the dew and the rain. However cleverly you have prepared your soil, however carefully you have selected your seed, all will fail without the rain of heaven. Even though your corn should spring up, yet will it refuse to come to the ear if the heavens be dry. Nor can you of yourself produce a single shower, or even a drop of dew. If God withholdeth the rain, what can the husbandman do? Call together the Parliament; collect a synod of scientists; convoke a conclave of princes; what can they do? In vain their acts, theories, and commands. When the skies are brass, the earth is iron; when God is angry, then the clouds scatter no blessings over our field, and earth yieldeth not her increase to the husbandman.
Yes, and life itself would vanish as the food of life ceased. It would be an instructive calculation if it could be accurately wrought out—to estimate how much bread-food there is at any time laid up upon the surface of the earth. If all harvests were to fail from this date; if there were no harvests in Australia during our winter, no harvests early in the year in India and the warm regions, if there were no harvests in America and in Europe, I have been informed that, by the time of our own harvest months, there would be upon the face of the earth no more food than would last us for six weeks. How dependent we are for each year’s crop! for should there be universal failure, starvation would be closely within sight. God does, indeed, give us bread as we need it; even as, in the wilderness, he gave the manna; but we are every hour dependent upon his generous care. The bottles of heaven contain the juices of human life: if these were utterly stayed, none of us could endure the burning drought, and the consequent famine.
See, then, the absolute dependence upon God, not only of the Eastern nations, but of all peoples of our race. Whatever may be our trade or profession, we are all fed by the fruit of the field; and whatever may be said about laws of nature, the God of nature is not bound and limited by methods of procedure. He can operate exactly as he pleases, and fill our barns to the full, or stop the supplies of grain, by the simple method of giving or withholding rain. Our breath is in our nostrils: he taketh away that breath, and we die. Apart from his preserving, the whole race of man would be turned to dust, and cease from the land of the living.
In spiritual things this dependence is most evident. Brethren, if God shall bless us with his saving health, and with the visitation of his Spirit, we shall be as a field that God has blessed, and our lives shall be glad with a harvest to his praise. But apart from God what can we do? In this realm of spiritual things we are absolutely and wholly dependent upon God; and without his aid we are as a salt land, which is destitute of verdure. Salvation is of the Lord. Vain is all trust which builds not on him.
The priceless blessings of pardon and grace: how can we procure them apart from God in Christ Jesus? How can sin be removed, except by the Lord, who passes by iniquity? Who is he that can absolve, but he against whom the transgression was committed? The washing from all stain: whence can it come but from those dear hands that were pierced for us? When he shall wash us and our robes in his most precious blood, then only shall we be clean, and then all the glory shall be to him as the Lamb slain. Justification and acceptance: are not these of God? What can you and I do to justify ourselves, or to make ourselves acceptable with God? These are the gifts of the covenant of grace, and God can give them; but if he gives them not, we can never obtain them. These gifts it is his royal prerogative to bestow according to the counsel of his own will.
So is it with the life and the power of the Spirit of God, by which we are able to receive and enjoy the blessings of the covenant; the Holy Spirit, like the wind, bloweth where he listeth, and the order of his working is with the Lord alone. The new life whereby we receive the Lord Jesus: how can it come to us but from the living God himself? Can a dead soul quicken itself? Can a man steeped in sin liberate and purify himself? “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” “Ye must be born again.” But can a man cause himself to be born again? Is it imaginable that the new birth is caused by the person born? The change wrought is mysterious, radical, abiding; who can work it upon himself? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. The new life must come from God! “Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The new heart and the right spirit: whence come they? Can the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, beget within itself love of God and desire for fellowship with him? They cannot be self-created; they are the work of the same hands which made the heavens and the earth. The love of holiness, and the pursuit of it, and perseverance in that pursuit: come these any way but from him who hath wrought all our works in us? Every beginning of good, yea, every desire after it, is wrought in us by God, or else it is never in us at all. We are absolutely dependent upon God, not only for all spiritual gifts, but for the power to become partakers of them.
And, brethren, all the graces that are pleasing to the Lord, come they not to us from God our Saviour? Is there a grain of faith in the world that God did not create? Is there a spark of holy love in any human bosom that God did not kindle? Is there any true hope in any heart which the God of hope did not implant? Is there anywhere anything that is holy, or lovely, or of good repute, which has not first come from God himself, and so entered into the heart of man? Sinner, you are absolutely dependent upon God for your possession of grace, and obtaining of salvation. You lie like the dry bones in the valley, which were very many and very dry; what can you do? By what power can dry bones Live? The Lord’s prophet, as an act of faith in God, bids you live; but God’s prophet knows that you will not live by your own strength, nor by the power of his persuasion. No, his appeal is to a power beyond himself and you. He cries, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” He looks to the Holy Spirit to create life in you, and apart from that Spirit he has no hope of you.
Putting this case very broadly— and I cannot put it too broadly— I am not afraid of exaggerating, or going too far in it: I know that for the clouds, and the rain, and the harvest, men are absolutely dependent upon the God of providence; and I know, also, that for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and for the power which saves souls, we are altogether dependent upon the great God who creates all good things.
Here is the pity of it: against God, upon whom we are so dependent, we have sinned, and do sin. We are dependent upon him, and yet rebellious against him. Shall the man who accepts from me his daily bread lift up his heel against me? Shall he who could not live without me, yet live to speak evil of me? Shall he abuse my goodness into a means of doing me damage? That were an atrocious thing, which could only spring from a black, ungrateful heart. Yes, every sinner who goes on in sin is acting thus ungratefully. Existing only by his infinite charity, he who continues to do evil is ungrateful in the highest degree to the Lord of love. This being the case, the dependence of guilty man upon the graciousness of divine sovereignty, and the sovereignty of divine grace is still further enhanced. Because man has broken God’s command, and continues to rebel against him, he lies all the more absolutely at the disposal of a righteous God. The traitor has now no rights; he has forfeited them. He has no claims; he has outlawed himself. O ungodly man, you can make no appeal to God’s justice; for if you do, he must award you eternal destruction. You cannot claim anything now of him as due to you, for your due is, to be driven into everlasting punishment. You are condemned before him in whose hands are the issues of life and death. You are as much in the hand of God as the prisoner condemned to die is in the hand of the royal power: indeed, you are far more absolutely so. If pardoned, it must be by the exercise of the sovereign prerogative which is vested in Jehovah, the Lord of all, who doeth as seemeth good in his sight. Provided it can be done justly, sovereignty may step in and rescue the guilty from his doom; but this is a matter which depends upon the will of the Lord alone. If you are executed, the condemnation is so well deserved, that not a word can be said against the severity which shall carry out the sentence. If God had left this sinful world to perish in its sin, none could have blamed him; it is but right that those should die who have provoked their God, and incurred the penalty which he threatened against sin. If the Lord, in the greatness of his love, chooses to save this man or that, he does no injury to any, but magnifies his mercy in those whom he redeems from deserved death. If the Lord enlightens an island, and leaves a continent in the dark, who shall accuse him? If he takes one of a city and two of a family, and brings them to himself, while the rest are suffered to have their own way, and wilfully continue in rebellion, who shall charge God with partiality, or say unto him, What doest thou? He can reply to all who object to his way of mercy, “May I not do as I will with mine own?” He layeth on no man more than is right, and what he chooses to forgive of his own bounty cannot be challenged. Whether you like the doctrine or not, it is true that, as sinners, you are absolutely dependent upon the sovereign mercy of God. I wish you could see and feel this great truth; for it would tend to humble you, and prepare you to seek his favour. I pray the Holy Spirit to impress it upon everyone here who has not yet come to God in Christ Jesus. Thus much upon the first truth.
II. Our second remark is this: MEN MAY BE REDUCED TO DIRE DISTRESS. Men, being dependent upon God, may be reduced to dire distress if they disobey him, and incur his just displeasure.
Kindly follow me in the earlier verses of my text. Here we have great temporal distress: the people had no water! The highest ranks of society were made to feel the terrible pinch. The whole of the city was tormented with thirst, and the leading men instituted diligent search to find water. They sent to the great reservoirs which Solomon had constructed in his time—the upper and the lower pools; but they found no water. They searched again and again, but the waters had utterly failed, and they were driven to despair. They covered their heads as men who gave themselves up to die without hope. Terrible was the drought which Jehovah sent upon his land because of the sin of his people: it was as if the day of Elias had returned, wherein there was neither dew nor rain for three years and six months.
My dear hearers, there is a spiritual distress of which this drought is a figure. Behold, as in a parable, the state into which we have seen many brought when God has begun to deal with them: to such there cometh drought of life and famine of hope. My hearer, do you know what is meant by God’s dealing with a man? Do you remember that passage in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” where one pilgrim says to the other, “Let us fall into good discourse. Where shall we begin?” The other answers, “Where God began with us.” Do you know what that means? Has God begun with you? If so, you will follow me with understanding when I say God makes the aroused and convicted man conscious of the greatest conceivable want, even of a drought in his own soul. These people were conscious that they wanted water; the case was worse than that, they were tormented with thirst. So does God come to men, and make them feel that they need the living water of his grace, and he sets them thirsting for it. They did not know their need before, but went on merrily enough, content with the pleasures of time and sense; but now, being quickened, they feel an intolerable hunger and thirst after higher and better things. They are tormented by an insatiable desire, which cannot and will not be set aside. Have we not seen these thirsty ones? Have we not pitied them? Have we not pointed them to the one and only source of supply? Have we not in secret rejoiced over them as we have foreseen to what their anguish tended?
To proceed a little in detail with the words of my text: when the Lord causes sinners to feel the spiritual drought, pride is humbled. “Their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters.” Generally, the nobility concern themselves little enough about water; but in great drought King Ahab and his chancellor, Obadiah, went forth themselves to find water. In this case the nobles sent their servants, nay, even their sons and daughters, to discover some source of supply. So God knows how to teach a man so that his lofty thoughts are humbled, and his pride is brought down to the dust. My lord, you will feel yourself a nobody should the Spirit deal with you in conviction. Not long ago, your excellency looked down from the highest seat in the synagogue, but now you sit down in the dust, and count everyone your superior. The philosopher grows into a little child, and gladly accepts the cup which aforetime he sneered at. We heard you singing to your own honour and glory the other day; but now you have no song to sing, but you cover your lip and mutter, “Unclean, unclean, unclean!” When the Lord lays his hand on a man, he makes his beauty to consume away like the moth. From head to foot the man is moved: his soul within him melteth, and all his glory is rolled in the mire. Our noblest thoughts become lowly seekers after the water of life in the day of our distress.
But you observe that when humbled and made thirsty, these people went to secondary causes: they came to the pits, or reservoirs. Reservoirs in the East are sometimes great caverns in the natural rock, and at other times they are excavated by labour, or built up by skill, and then streams are turned into them, and they hold a great storage of water. Some of the children of the nobles thought they knew of caverns which others had not seen, hidden cisterns under ground, which had been forgotten; and they went forth to find them. They hurried to the place where they hoped for the priceless water; but we read not that they cried unto God, or sought mercy of Jehovah, who could right speedily have given them rain. They resorted to the secondary causes, but they turned not to the hand which smote them. Thus souls, when they are awakened, go to fifty things before they come to God. It is sad that, in superstition, or in scepticism, they look for living streams. They try reformation of manners— I have nothing to say against it; but apart from God reformation always ends in disappointment. They seek consolation from an orthodox creed, for which I might have much to say; but if a belief in a creed be trusted in, it is as if a man sought to quench his thirst with a bottle, but did not care to see whether it held water or no. A creed is a pitcher, in which the water is held, but it is not the water itself. Some try forms and ceremonies in abundance, and to these they add self-denials and penances: they suffer anything sooner than come to God for his grace. Grace is a port to which no man steers until it is seen to be the only one into which he can enter.
O my heart, my heart, how is it that thou canst be so loath to go to thy Father and thy God? O ye that are wandering at this time from one creature-trust to another, I pray you cease your roaming, and come home to God, who alone can help you. There is no hope for you but in God, and the way to God is by his Son Christ Jesus. Why do you gad about so much? Straightforward to God is the surest, safest way— why do you not take it? God is our haven and our heaven; why are we so reluctant to seek him? O man, why wilt thou turn to saints, to angels, and even to devils, rather than to the Lord thy God? But I know thee, thy heart is set on idolatry, and this is the essence of idolatry— that thou seekest to the creature rather than to the Creator.
If you read on, you will find that when they went to these secondary supplies, they were disappointed: “They came to the pits, and found no water.” They found mud, black, filthy mud; but no water. Once they saw the sparkling liquid in the cool cave; but it was all spent. When waters were to be found everywhere else, the cisterns were full; but when all else was dry, they were dried also. They stooped down, they searched in the darkness; they tried, at least, to get a cupful of the precious liquid; but it is written, “They found no water.” Disappointed, “they returned with their vessels empty.” The women with their water-pots upon their heads presented a sad sight as they entered the city-gate, and one after another all sighed, “Empty! Empty!” They thirsted to drink; but not a drop was found to cool their tongues. It is an awful thing to come home from sermon with the vessels empty; to rise from the communion-table, having found no living water, and return with vessels empty. To close the Bible, and sigh, “I find no comfort here, I must return with my vessel empty.” When the ordinances, and the Word yield us no grace, things have come to an awful pass with us. Do you know what this disappointment means?
Now, upon this disappointment, there followed great confusion of mind; they became distracted; “they were ashamed and confounded.” On the back of that confusion came despair; “they covered their heads.” The Orientals cover their heads when in the deepest grief, as David did, when he went over the brook Kedron. It means, “I cannot face it. Do not look on me in my sorrow, nor expect me to look on you. I cover my head, for it is all over with me.” Thus have I met with many who, after going to many confidences, have been disappointed in all, and seem ready to lie down in despair, and put forth no more effort. They fear that God will never bless them, and they will never enter into life eternal; and so they sign their own death-warrants. Shall I confess that I have been better pleased to see them in this condition than to hear their jovial songs at other times? It is by the gate of self-despair that men arrive at the divine hope? I would to God that many a Mr. Vain-confidence sitting here might be struck down to the ground, and be compelled to end his proud boastings, by going at once to Jesus only! Oh, that they might come to that holy and safe conclusion, of which I keep on thinking all the while I am preaching to you— the Scriptural and logical conclusion mentioned in my text— “Therefore we will wait upon thee.”
At last, when these people came to despair, it is very remarkable how everything about them seemed to be in unison with their misery. Listen to the third verse: “They covered their heads.” Did you hear the last words of the fourth verse? They were the very same: “They covered their heads.” Surely the second is the echo of the first. It is even so: earth has sympathy with man. Nature without reflects our inward feelings. When God makes us happy we “go forth with joy, and are led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills break forth before us into singing, and all the trees of the field clap their hands.” But when we are in despair, then all nature echoes our misery. “The ground is dismayed,” so it runs in the Hebrew; the very earth is frightened for want of rain, and opens its mouth, gasping for fear. “The ground is dismayed, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.” Have you ever been in such a state of mind that you knew your need of the water of life, but were not able to find it anywhere? If so, you have been unutterably miserable, and all creation has put on mourning to keep you company. Earth is responsive to man, whom the Creator made to be her lord. Nature rings her marriage peal to sound forth man’s happiness, or tolls her knells to mourn the funerals of his joys. If you have drawn down the blinds of your heart, and your soul sits in the dark, then the heavens are darkened too; or if not, the very brightness of nature seems another form of blackness to you, and her joys mock your griefs, and cast salt into your wounds. When men are cast down, and their face is covered, then nature covers her face too, and all the universe is sad. Alas, for the day when the hand of the Lord is sore on the soul! Then our moisture is turned into the drought of summer.
III. I have brought you so far in the argument, now I must rush on to the conclusion. Man is a very dependent creature; man may be reduced to dire distress; and thirdly, MAN S ONLY SURE RESORT IS HIS GOD. God is a refuge for us.” If I address myself to any hero who are in such trouble as I have described, let me press upon them this thought— the only place of refuge for you is in God as he reveals himself in Christ Jesus. Hasten to him! Lay hold upon his strength! Hide under the wings of his care!
For, first, there is no help anywhere else. Read verse 22:— “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain?” He saith not “the gods of the Gentiles”: those who were ‘gods’ in better days are seen to be, in truth, nothing but vanities in the time of need. To make rain is a divine prerogative; hence the priests of the idols pretend to it for their false deities. The Rain-maker is found in every idolatrous country, but I think scarcely anybody believes in him now. What antics and tricks the Rain-makers go through to produce rain, but it does not come, neither can their gods create a cloud! And where can any of you go to get grace if you refuse to look to God alone? There is a rain-maker over there at the Ritualistic church, who can produce a shower on the child’s heart, by which it becomes “a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” But I trust you are not so foolish as to believe in him; and therefore you will not make a fruitless journey towards priestcraft. Where will you go? Come not to any of us poor gospellers, for in us you will find nothing: we are only fingers to point you to the Lord Jesus, in whom all fulness dwells. The long-descended priest of the church of Rome, who can, for a shilling, grant you absolution— will you look to him? No, you have still some wit remaining, and feel that to be absolved of man will not ease your conscience. Priests of Baal are of small account when a total drought and a terrible dearth are in the land. In the days of Elijah they cried aloud, and cut themselves with knives, and said, “O Baal, hear us! O Baal, hear us!” but only the God that answered by fire could answer by water; and Baal could do neither the one nor the other. Therefore we will leave Baal alone, and all the prophets of the grove, with their candles, and their crucifixes, and their incense, and their robes. I know where you are likely to go, and that is to your own frames and feelings, to your own resolves and doings. Alas for your folly! Oh, yes, you want to get peace, and so you take the pledge, and you vow that you will become a decent, sober body, and all that. What are these confidences but vanities of the heathen? The very best of duties that you and I can perform, if we put our trust in them, are only false confidences, refuges of lies, and they can yield us no help.
Nay, look; according to the text there is no help for us even in the usual means of grace if we forget the Lord. Read that second question: “Can the heavens give showers?” Showers come from the heavens, but the heavens cannot yield showers apart from God. The eastern sky, without rain, is blue, bright, beautiful; but after months of pitiless drought, when no tear of pity has stood in the eye of the heavens, the blue colour becomes the ensign of melancholy; and if this continues month after month it becomes the colour of despair. Until the Lord opens the windows of heaven to pour out the blessing, neither sun, nor moon, nor stars can help the need of man. If God does not help thee, O tried and anxious soul, the sacraments are all in vain, though they be ordained of heaven; and preaching and reading, liturgy and song, are all in vain to bring the refreshing dew of grace. Job truly saith, “If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.” If God himself save thee not, O man, all that can be done by men or angels throughout the ages can never help thee one single jot. Thou art lost, lost, lost, if a stronger arm than man’s be not stretched out to help thee!
But with God is all power. There is the mercy: “Art not thou he, O Lord our God? for thou hast made all these things.” See in how short a time he covers the heavens with clouds, and pours forth an abundance of rain till he makes the wilderness a pool, and the dry land springs of water. He can; he can! He can reach the extremity of human weakness and woe. What can he not do? Nothing is too hard for the Lord; and thou, poor sinner, dried up like the sand of the desert, God can, within an hour, ay, in a moment, make thy heart to be flooded with his grace. He is the Creator, making all things out of nothing; and he can create in thee at once the tender heart, the loving spirit, the believing mind, the sanctified nature. What though thou hast no grace this morning, no, not a drop of it; he can open streams in the desert. Thou canst not find within thyself, wherever thou lookest, any trace of love, or holy feeling, or aught that is good; yet he can give thee all, can give thee all for nothing, can give it thee just now! If thou believest that he can, and wilt trust him, as he displays his love in the Lord Jesus, he will save thee. He can give thee the power to believe it, and lead thee now to cast thyself on him. He can, but it hangs upon his will. Doth he not say, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion”? A God without a will is no God at all; and if he has no will in the matter of salvation, then is he dethroned from his choicest empire, and man is set up above the God of grace himself. This cannot be.
Well, then, what follows from this? If God hath all this power, our wisdom is to wait upon him, since he alone can help. We draw this inference: “Therefore we will wait upon thee.” O my beloved hearer, if you have never been converted, I pray the Holy Spirit to bring you to decision, that you may at once seek the Lord. Every road is closed but the way of sovereign grace. You have no merit, you have no strength; you never can have any merit, you never can have any strength of your own. God must save you, or you are lost to all eternity; but he can save you to glorify his own grace, and make his own mercy to be known, and to reveal his great power in turning hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He can save you. Submit yourself to him, then, and come to him and say, with the “therefore” of my text, “Therefore we will wait upon thee.”
Do I hear somebody say, “How I would like to pray”? Yes, that is the way to come to God. Come to him by prayer in the name of Jesus. Do you want a prayer? This chapter is full of petitions, and there is one which I would point out to you. Here is a short one for you (verse 7), “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it.” “Do thou it.” “Lord, I cannot create grace in my own heart, any more than I can make rain to fall from the sky; but do thou it.” “Lord, I cannot come to thee, come thou to me; do thou it.” Is not that a wonderful prayer? There is more in it than you think: the more you consider it, the bigger you will see it to be. Three monosyllables: “Do thou it!” And then observe the argument: four words all of one syllable, “for thy name’s sake.” Not for my sake, but for Christ’s sake, who is the manifestation of thy name. For thine own glory’s sake, for thy glory is thy name. Lord, make men see what a sinner thou canst save by saving me! Lord, glorify thy mercy by forgiving me; for oh, if thou wilt save such a poor, unworthy wretch as I am, even heaven itself will ring with thy praises; and even in hell they will say, “See what God can do! He saved one who was ripe for the eternal fire, and he has placed the rebel among his children.” “Do thou it for thy name’s sake.” Heartily do I commend this prayer to every soul here that is seeking the Lord. May the Spirit write it on your hearts! I cannot give you a better. “Do thou it for thy name’s sake.”
Well then, next, if you are really going to wait upon the Lord, you must do it through a Mediator. These guilty people of Jerusalem had Jeremiah to pray for them. Jeremiah with the weeping eye fitly typifies a greater than Jeremiah. Remember the Man of sorrows, the Acquaintance of grief! Jeremiah’s Master must be your Intercessor. Beg him to be your Mediator. You cannot go in unto an absolute God; you need a Mediator. A Mediator is provided, he has presented an acceptable sacrifice, he will plead the causes of your soul. Trust in his blood instead of your tears. Let his death wash your life. Leave your case in the great Mediator’s hands; for if you believe in him, he will undertake for you; and he never faileth. He will go into the Court of King’s Bench for you, and be your Advocate, and win your suit. Come, trust yourself with Jesus; for he will save.
Let me advise you to make a full confession of sin. Read verse 20:— “We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness: for we have sinned against thee.” Make a clean breast of it, unbosom the past, lay bare the present. Think not to cloak sin. To conceal sin is to ruin yourself; to confess it, is to find mercy. Place yourself among the guilty, for there mercy can fitly reach you.
When you have done this, cast yourself down "before your God, saying, “Therefore I will wait upon thee.” Come through Christ, believing in the power of his precious blood, and you may draw nigh to God. Though you be loaded with sins enough to sink a world of sinners down to hell, yet if you will believe in the mercy of God through Christ Jesus, and cast yourself down at his feet, and lie there, he will never say “Depart.” Jesus hath said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” If you perish, it is because you do not come; not because you come and he rejects you. O dear souls, I do not know some of you, others I do know; but whether known to me or not, I look at you now with loving eyes, and say, Come to my Lord. Does your heart say, “I will arise and go unto my Father”? Then am I glad. You have tried the citizens of this country, and they have sent you into the fields to feed swine; and husks are all that you have to feed upon. You have spent your money, and wasted your substance in riotous living; you can find no pleasure now, go where you may. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity! Quit the vanities, and seek the verities. Turn unto your God. Turn instantly! Hark back! Hark back! You have gone too far already in the evil way. A precipice is before you! One more step, ay, one more step, and you are over, and your eternal ruin is complete. Hark back as quickly as you can to the great God from whom you have departed! Come now, even now, for he invites you: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” While he speaks in this manner, I hope you will answer to the call, and bow at his feet at once. “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” May the Holy Spirit lay hold on you, that you may lay hold on Jesus! God grant it, for Christ’s sake! Amen.