THE LOADED WAGGON
“Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.” —Amos 2:13
THE other Sabbath morning we went into the corn-fields to glean with Boaz and Ruth; and I trust that then many of the timid and fainthearted were encouraged to partake of the handfuls which are let fall on purpose for them by the order of our generous Lord. We go, to-day, to the gate of the harvest-field with another object— to see the waggon piled up aloft with many sheaves, come creaking forth, making ruts as the toiling horses drag it from the field; we come with gratitude to God, thanking him for the harvest, blessing him for so much of favourable weather, and praying him to continue the same till the last shock of corn shall be brought in, and the husbandmen everywhere shall shout the “Harvest Home.”
What a picture is a waggon loaded with corn of you and of me, as loaded with God’s mercies! From our cradle up till now, every day has added a sheaf. What more could he do for us than he has done? He hath daily loaded us with benefits. Despite the sad affliction in the North, we are nationally a favoured people. Both in providence and in gracious privilege, he has blessed us above all people that be upon the face of the earth. While other countries have been crushed by tyrants, ravaged by war, or left in the thick darkness of superstition, we are free — we are blessed with the light of heaven— we have the gospel in our streets, the Bible in our houses, and the Sabbath as our choicest heritage. O England! thou art like a wain creaking under the mercies of God. Men and brethren! we are each of us like the cart that is pressed down because it is full of sheaves; for the innumerable mercies of God are piled upon us high as the mountains, nor can our memory recount the tokens of the tenderness and lovingkindness of the Most High. Let us adore his goodness, and yield him our cheerful gratitude.
Alas! — and how many times shall I repeat that pathetic interjection— alas! alas! alas! that such a metaphor should be capable of another reading; that while God loadeth us with mercy, we should load him with sin; while he continually heapeth on sheaf after sheaf of favour, we also add iniquity unto iniquity, till the weight of our sin becometh intolerable to the Most High, and he crieth out by reason of the burden, saying, “I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.”
Our text begins with a “Behold!” and well it may. “Beholds” are put in the Bible as sometimes a hand is put in the margin of old books, to indicate to the reader something worthy of notice; or, again, “Beholds” are put in the Scriptures as signs are put out from houses of business to attract attention. There is something new, something important, something deeply impressive and worthy of attention, wherever we see a “Behold” in sacred Scripture. I see this “Behold!” standing as it were, like a maiden upon the steps of the house of wisdom, crying, “Turn in hither, O ye that are wise, and listen to the voice of God while he speaketh to you.” Let us open our eyes that we may see, let us fix both our eyes intently that we may “behold,” and may God make a way through our eyes and ears to our heart, that deep repentance and self-abhorrence may take hold upon us, because of our evil conduct towards our gracious God.
Now, it is to be understood, dear friends, before we proceed farther, that our text is but a figure, since God is not to be oppressed by man; all the sin that man can commit can never disturb the serenity of his perfections, nor cause so much as a wave upon the sea of his everlasting calm. He doth but speak to us after the manner of man, and bring down the sublimities and mysteries of heaven to the feebleness and ignorance of earth. He talketh to us as a great father may talk to his little child, and he uses images which are rather adapted to human frailty than to divine infinity. Just, then, as a cart has the axles bent, and — to use an old Saxon word— as the wheels “screak” under the excessive load, so the Lord says that under the load of human guilt he is pressed down, until he crieth out, because he can bear no longer the iniquity of those that offend against him. We shall now turn to the first point, this morning. O that the Holy Ghost may make it pointed to our consciences.
I. The first and most apparent truth in the text is, that SIN IS VERY GRIEVOUS AND BURDENSOME TO GOD.
Be astonished, O heavens, and be amazed, O earth, that God should speak of being pressed and weighed down! I do not read anywhere so much as half a suggestion that the whole burden of creation is any weight to the Most High. “He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” “He weigheth the mountains in scales and the hills in balances.” Neither sun, nor moon, nor stars, nor all the ponderous orbs which his omnipotence has created, cost him any labour whatever in their sustenance. The heathens might picture Atlas as stooping beneath the tremendous load of the world; but the eternal God, who beareth up the pillars of the universe, “fainteth not, neither is he weary.” Nor do I find even the most distant approach to a suggestion, that providence fatigues its Lord. He watches both by night and day; his power goeth forth every moment. ’Tis he who bringeth forth Mazzaroth in his season and guideth Arcturus with his sons. He beareth up the foundations of the earth! and holdeth the corner stone thereof. He causeth the dayspring to know its place, and setteth a bound to darkness and the shadow of death. All things are supported by the power of his hand, and there is nothing without him. If he withdrew his might, back to annihilation must all things go. Just as a moment’s foam subsides into the wave that bears it and is lost for ever, so would the universe depart if the eternal God did not daily sustain it. Nor has this incessant working diminished his strength, nor is there any failing or thought of failing. He doeth all things, and when they are done they are as nothing in his sight. But strange, oh, passing strange, marvellous, miraculous among miracles, sin burdens God, though the world cannot; and iniquity presses the Most High, though the whole tremendous load of providence is as the small dust of the balance. Ah, ye careless men, sons of Adam, ye think sin a trifle; and as for you, ye sons of Belial, ye count it sport, and say, “He regardeth not; he seeth not; how doth God know? and if he knoweth, he careth not for our sins.” Learn ye from the Book of God, that so far is this from being the truth, that your sins are a grief to him, a burden and a load to him, till, like a cart that is pressed down with sheaves, so is he pressed down with human guilt.
I think this will be very clear if we meditate for a moment upon what sin is, and what sin does. Sin is the great despoiler of all God's works. It was sin that turned an archangel into an arch-fiend, and angels of light into spirits of evil. It was sin that looked on Eden and withered every leaf in its garden, and blasted all its flowers. Ere sin had come, the Creator said of the new-made earth, “It is very good;” but when sin had entered, it grieved God at his very heart that he had made such a creature as man. Nothing can despoil the beauty in which God delighteth so much as sin, for sin mars his image, and erases his superscription.
Moreover, sin makes God’s creatures unhappy, and shall he not, therefore, abhor it? God never designed that any creature that he made should be miserable. He made the creatures on purpose that they should be glad; he gave the birds their song, the flowers their perfume, the air its balm; he gave to nature the smiling sun, and even to night its coronet of stars, for he intended that smiles should be his perpetual worship, and that joy should be the atmosphere which his creatures breathed: but sin has made God’s favourite creature a wretch, brought down his most glorious offspring, made in his own image, to become naked , and poor, and miserable, and lost; and therefore, God hateth sin, and is pressed down under it, because it maketh the objects of his love unhappy at their heart. All the unhappiness that we have this morning, comes from sin directly or indirectly. Iniquity is the mother of every human pang. Oh, how well may God hate it when he sees his own dearly beloved children made to wear furrows on their brow and tears in their eyes, because of this vile, this abominable thing called sin.
Moreover, remember, beloved, that sin attacks God in all his attributes, assails him on his throne, and stabs at his existence. What is sin, sinner? Is it not an insult to God’s wisdom? God biddeth thee do his will; when thou doest the contrary it is because thou dost as much as say, “I know best what is good for me.” You do in effect declare that infinite wisdom is in error, and that you, the creature of a day, can judge better than your God which shall be the path of happiness for you. Sin impugns his goodness; for by sin you actually declare that God has denied you that which would make you happy, which is not the part of a good, tender, and loving Father. A generous God denies nothing to his creatures but that which is harmful; but inasmuch as you think sin to be pleasant and profitable, you cast a slur upon the benevolence and lovingkindness of God; and when he is such a God, so full of tenderness that his very name is “Love,” this is no slight burden to his holy soul, to feel when he perceiveth that you think you could do better for yourself than he is willing to do, and that he has cruelly robbed you of pleasure and denied you that which would be for your good. Sin cuts at the Lord’s wisdom with one hand, and at his goodness with the other.
And see, sin also abuses the mercy of God. When you, as many of you have done, sin with the higher hand because of his longsuffering towards you; — when, because you have no sickness, no losses, no crosses, therefore you spend your time in revelry and obstinate rebellion— what is this but taking the mercy which was meant for your good and turning it into mischief? It is no small grief to the loving father to see his substance spent with harlots in riotous living; I tell you it is no slight thing to the father of the prodigal to see him fain to fill his belly with the husks the swine do eat. This touches him at the very quick; he cannot endure it, that his children should be thus degraded as to turn even the mercy which would woo them to repentance into a ground why they should sin the more against him. Besides, let me remind the careless and impenitent this morning, that every sin is a defiance of divine power. In effect it is lifting your puny fists against the majesty of heaven, and defying God to destroy you. Every time you sin, you know that sin will lead to your soul’s destruction, if then you beard the omniscient One even to his face, and while under the hand that can crush you, yet dare to revolt and to transgress, you do as much as dare and defy the Lord to prove whether he can maintain his law or no. Is this a slight thing, that a worm, the creature of a day, should defy the God of ages, the God that filleth and upholdeth all things by the word of his power? Well may he be weary, when he hath to bear with such provocations and insults as these! Mention what attribute you will, and sin has blotted it; speak of God in any relationship you choose, and sin has cast a slur upon him. It is evil, only evil, and that continually, in every view of it it must be offensive to the Most High. Sinner, dost thou know that every act of disobedience to God’s law is virtually an act of high treason? What dost thou do but seek to be God thyself, thine own master, thine own lord. Every time thou swervest from his will it is to put thy will into its place; it is to make thyself a God, and to undeify the Most High. And is this a little offence, to snatch from his brow the crown, and from his hand the sceptre? I tell thee it is such an act that heaven itself could not stand unless it were resented; and if this crime were suffered to go unpunished, the wheels of heaven’s commonwealth would be taken from their axles, and the whole frame of nature would be unhinged. Such a treason against God shall certainly be punished.
And to crown all, sin is an onslaught upon God himself, for every sinner is an atheist at heart. Let his religious profession be what it may, he hath said in heart, “No God.” He wishes that there were no law and no supreme ruler. He desires that God might be forgotten. God is not in all his thoughts. Is this a trifle? To be a deicide! To slay God! To desire to put him out of his own world! For the creature to declare war against the God that made him, and to wish that God might cease to be— is this a thing to be winked at? Can the Most High hear it and not be pressed down beneath its weight? Ah, I pray you do not think that I would make a needless outcry against sin and disobedience. It is not in the power of human imagination to exaggerate the evil of sin, nor will it ever be possible for mortal lips, though they should be touched like those of Esaias, with a live coal from off the altar, to thunder out the ten-thousandth part of the enormity of the least sin against God. Think, dear friends! We are his creatures, and yet we will not do his will. We are fed by him, the breath in our nostrils he gives, to us, and yet we spend that breath in murmuring and in rebellion.
Once more, we are always in the sight of our omniscient God, and yet the presence of God is not enough to compel us to obedience. Surely, if a man should insult law in the very presence of the lawgiver— if the king were insulted to his face, that were not to be borne with; but this is your case and mine. We must confess, “Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” And we must remember that we are doing all this though meanwhile we know what we are doing. We are not sinning like the Hottentot; we are not pulling God’s law to pieces like some blind New Zealander; we, in England, sin against extraordinary light and sevenfold knowledge; and is this a light thing? Can you expect that God shall wink at us and pass by such offences as these? Oh that these lips had language, that this heart could burn for once! for if I could declare the horrible infamy of sin it would make the blood chill in even a haughty Pharaoh’s veins, and proud Nebuchadnezzar might bow his head in fear. It is a great thing indeed to have rebelled against the Most High. God have mercy upon his servants and forgive them. This is our first point, but I cannot teach you it, God can teach it by his Spirit. O that the Holy Ghost may make you feel that sin is exceeding sinful, because it is grievous and burdensome to God.
II. Secondly, SOME SINS ARE MORE ESPECIALLY GRIEVOUS TO GOD. The connection of our text will help you to see the force of this observation.
There is no such thing as a little sin, but still there are degrees of guilt, and it were folly to say that a sinful thought hath in it the same extent of evil as a sinful act. A filthy imagination is sinful— wholly sinful and greatly sinful, but still the act has attained a higher degree of provocation. Now, there are sins that especially provoke God. In the connection of the text we read that licentiousness does this. The people seem, from the 7th verse, to have gone to a very high degree of fornication and lecherousness. This sin is not uncommon in our day; let our midnight streets and our divorce courts be the witness. Perhaps the saddest proof that society is far from pure is found in the fact that seducers and fornicators, if they be but gentlemen, may enter respectable society. Brand the miscreants, I say. If the woman be shut out as a harlot, what shall be done unto the lustful maker and cherisher of harlots? If hell burns hotter at one time than another it is for those who make what should have been a temple of the Holy Ghost, into an instrument of rebellion against both man and God.
Oppression, too, according to the text, is another great sin. The prophet speaks of selling the poor for a pair of shoes; and there are such who would grind the widow and the orphan to the last extreme, and make their labourers toil for nought. How many business men we have, who never knew what “bowels of mercy” were. Men form themselves into societies, and then exact an outrageous usury upon loans from the unhappy men who fall into their hands. Cunning legal quibbles, and crafty evasions of just debts, often amount to heavy oppression, and are sure to bring down the anger of the Most High.
Then again, it seems that idolatry and blasphemy are most certainly offensive to him, and have a high degree of heinousness. He says that they drank the wine of false gods; so if any man set up his belly as his god, or his gold, or his wealth, and live to these instead of living to the Most High, he hath offended by idolatry.
Specially is blasphemy a God-provoking sin. For blasphemy there is no excuse. As George Herbert says, “Lust and wine plead a pleasure;" there is gain to be pleaded for avarice, “but the cheap swearer from his open sluice lets his soul run for nought.” There is nothing gained by it; there can be no pleasure in cursing, blasting one’s limbs and damning one’s soul; this must be offending for offending’s sake, and hence this is a high and crying sin, which God doth pardon, which he is willing to pardon now, but which nevertheless weigheth upon his heart, and he cannot suffer it to go unpunished unless it be repented of. Some sins make the Lord very weary of man. Now, I do not know who you are, many of you this morning, but I have no doubt there are some among you to whom this word may be a personal accusation. Do I address the lecherous, or the oppressive, or the swearer? Do I address the profane? Ah, soul, what a mercy God hath borne with thee so long; the time will come, however, when he will say “Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries,” and how easily will he cast you off, and appoint you an awful destruction.
Again, whilst some sins are thus grievous to God for their peculiar heinousness, many men are especially obnoxious to God because of the length of their sin. That grey-headed man, how many times has he provoked the Most High? Why, those who are but lads have cause to count their years and apply their hearts unto wisdom because of the length of time they have lived in rebellion; but what shall I say of you that have been half a century in open war against God— and some of you sixty, seventy, what if I said near upon eighty years? Ah, you have had eighty years of mercies, and eighty years of forgetfulness; eighty years of bounty, and eighty years of ingratitude and insult! O God, well mayest thou be wearied by the length and number of man’s sins.
Furthermore, God taketh special note and feeleth an especial weariness of sin that is mixed with obstinacy. Oh, how obstinate some men are! They will be damned; there is no helping them; they seem as if they would leap the Alps to reach perdition, and swim through seas of fire that they may destroy their own souls. I might tell you cases of men that have been sore sick of fever, ague, and cholera; they have recovered from all, and have only recovered their health to return to their wallowing in the mire. Some of them have had such troubles in business, thick and threefold. They were once in respectable circumstances, but they spent their living riotously, and they became poor; they still struggle on in sin; they are growing poorer still; most of their clothes have gone to the pawn shop; but they will not turn from the gin shop and the haunt of vice. Another child is dead! Ah, has that man yonder a dead child at home? and the wife is sick, and nothing but starvation looks the family in the face; but they have gone on still with a high hand and an outstretched arm. This is obstinacy, indeed. Sinner! God will let thee have thine own way one of these days, and that way will be thine everlasting ruin. But God is weary of all here who have thus set themselves to do mischief, and who against warnings, and invitations, and entreaties, and light, and knowledge, have determined to go on in sin.
The context seems to tell us that ingratitude is intensely burdensome to God. He tells the people how he brought them up out of Egypt; how he cast out the Amorites; how he raised up their sons for prophets, and their young men for Nazarites; and yet they rebelled against him! Oh, dear friends, this was one of the things that pricked my heart when I first came to God as a guilty sinner, not so much the peculiar heinousness of my outward life, as the peculiar mercies that I had enjoyed. How many of us have been detestably ungrateful! What a life has our life been! Oh, how generous God has been! Why there are some of us who never had a want. All our wants have been supplied. God has never cast us into poverty, nor left us to infamy, nor given us up to evil example, but he has kept us moral, and made us love his house even when we did not love him, and all this he has done year after year: what poor returns have we made! To you, his people, what joy he has given, what deliverances, what love, what comfort, what bliss— and yet after all this, to think that we should sin to his very face! Oh! well may he be as a cart that is pressed down, that is full of sheaves. O my hearers, I know I address some to whom this may come home very pointedly. What, when you were nearly drowned, were you snatched from the jaws of death? What, were you rescued from sickness? What, were you blessed with that godly mother, and did that companion plead with you? Have you a tender conscience? Do you feel that you cannot sin as others do, for something checks you? All this is God’s love; but if you will still rebel against him, despite all this, well may he arise in his wrath, and shake himself in his hot displeasure. He will not always strive with man. Justice shall soon have its day.
Let me observe, before I leave this point, that it seems from our text, that the Lord is so pressed, that he even crieth out. Just as the cart when laden with the sheaves, groaneth under the weight, so the Lord crieth out under the load of sin. Have you never heard those accents?
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Hear again: “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Better still, hear it from the lip of Christ, softened down to our own ears — “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Sinner, God is cut to the heart by thy sin; thy Creator grieves over that which thou laughest at; thy Creator crieth out in his Spirit concerning that which thou thinkest to be a trifle. O do not this abominable thing which I hate! For God’s sake do it not! We often say “for God’s sake,” without knowing what we mean, but here, see what it means— for the sake of God — that ye grieve not your Creator— that ye cause not the Eternal One himself to cry out against you. Cease ye, cease ye, “from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel.” I now leave those two points to pass on very briefly to the next.
III. While it is true that sin is grievous to the Lord, it magnifies his mercy when we see that HE BEARS THE LOAD. AS the cart is not said to break, but is pressed only, so is he pressed, and yet he bears. That hymn we sung just before the sermon has more in it than hard hearts will feel.
“Lord, and am I yet alive,
Not in torments, not in hell?
Still doth thy good Spirit strive—
With the chief of sinners dwell?
Tell it unto sinners, tell,
I am, I am out of hell."
If you and I were in God’s place, should we have borne it? Nay, within a week we should have burned the universe with fire, or trodden it to powder beneath our feet. If God were like modem lawgivers— and here I find no fault with them, for the law of a commonwealth must be unyielding— but if the law of heaven were as swift to punish as the law of man, where were we? I do not find you rising up to plead for the man who murdered his children, and from some fancied injury shot his fellow-man. We seem to say by a unanimous verdict, “The wretch is guilty, let him be punished.” What a universal howl has been going up this week against an offender who once stood fair in the midst of us, but who turned aside long ago unto iniquity. What man pleads for him? Who stands up, and says, “Let William Roupell go unpunished?” Yet, here is God, and here are we whose offences are ten times more heinous against God than any man’s offences can be against man, and yet he spareth us. Remember he hath all the while full power to punish. He hath but to wish and it is done— to lift his finger and we are crushed before him. How many servants wait around him ready to do his bidding! As the Roman consul went out, attended by his lictors carrying the axe, so God is ever attended by his executioners, who are ready to fulfil his sentence. A stone, a tile from the roof of the house, a thunderbolt, a puff of wind, a grain of dust, a broken blood-vessel, and it is over, and you are dead, and in the hands of an angry God. Indeed, the Lord has to hold in the myrmidon of his wrath, and restrain the servants of his anger, for the heavens cry, “Why should we cover that wretch’s head?” Earth asks, “Why should I yield a harvest to the sinner’s plough?” The lightnings thunder, and say, “Let us smite the rebel,” and the seas roar upon the sinner, desiring him as their prey. There is no greater proof of the omnipotence of God, than his longsuffering; for it shows the greatest possible power for God to be able to control himself, to be able to keep in an anger which naturally must boil, and restrain a fury which else must burn. Sinner, yet he bears with thee. The angels have been astonished at it; they thought he would strike; but yet he bears with you. Have you ever seen a patient man insulted? He has been met in the street by a villain, who insults him before a mob of boys. He bears it. The fellow spits in his face. He bears it still. Now he strikes him. He endures it quietly. “Give him in charge,” says one. “No,” says he, “I forgive him all.” The fellow knocks him down, and rolls him in the kennel, but he bears it still; yes, and when he rises all covered with mire, he says, “If there be anything that I can do to befriend you, I will do it now.” Just at that moment the wretch is arrested by a sheriff’s officer for debt; the man who has been insulted takes out his purse and pays the debt, and says, “Now you may go free.” See, the wretch spits in his face after that! Now you say “Let him feel what you can do; let the law have its way with him.” Is there any room for patience now? So would it have been with man; it has not been so with God. We have done much worse than this, and he has acted much more nobly, and still, I say, he beareth it all. Though like the cart he is pressed under the load of sheaves, yet like the cart the axle does not break. He bears the load. He bears with impenitent sinners still.
IV. And this brings me now to pass over to the fourth head, on which I would have your deepest attention. Many here present, I fear me, have never repented of sin. You have never seen it in the light of grieving God, or else methinks you would not wish to grieve Him. But, perhaps some of you feel how evil a thing rebellion is, but you want to know how you can get rid of it. This is our fourth head. Not only doth God still bear with sin, but GOD, IN THE PERSON OF HIS SON, DID BEAR AND TAKE AWAY SIN.
These words might have deep meaning if uttered by the lips of Jesus “I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves." Here stood the great problem. God must punish sin, and yet he would have mercy. How could it be? Lo! Jesus comes to be the substitute for all who trust him. See how they pile on him the sheaves of human sin! There are MY sheaves of sin —
“My soul looks back to see,
The burden thou didst bear,
When hanging on the cursed tree,
And hopes her guilt was there.”
Here are your sheaves, my hearer— the sheaves of all his chosen, the sins of all who shall believe in him! “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Yea, the Scripture hath it, “He is the propitiation for our sin, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” There they lie, heaps on heaps, till he is pressed down like the wain that groaneth as it moves along. “He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” See him, he did “sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground.” “He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” They sold him for thirty pieces of silver, a goodly price did they value him at withal. He is taken from prison and from judgment, and who shall declare his generation? Herod mocks him and makes nothing of him. Pilate jeers him. They have smitten the Prince of Judah upon the cheek. “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” They have tied him to the pillar; they are beating him with rods, not this time forty stripes save one, there is no “save one” with him, for “the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” See him, like a cart pressed down with sheaves he goeth through the streets of Jerusalem. Well may ye weep, ye daughters of Jerusalem, though he bids ye dry your tears; they hoot him as he walks along bowed beneath the load of his own cross which was the emblem of your sin and mine. They have brought him to Golgotha. They throw him on his back, they stretch out his hands and his feet. The accursed iron penetrates the tenderest part of his body, where most the nerves do congregate. They lift up the cross. O bleeding Saviour, thy time of woe is come! They dash it into the socket with rough hands, the nails are tearing through his hands and feet. He hangeth in extremity, for God hath forsaken him; his enemies persecute and take him, for there is none to deliver him. They mock his nakedness; they point at his agonies. They look and stare upon him with ribald jests; they insult his griefs, and make puns upon his prayers. He is now indeed a worm and no man, crushed till you can think scarcely that there is divinity within. The fever gets hold upon him. His tongue is dried up like a potsherd, and he cries, “I thirst!” Vinegar is all they yield him; the sun refuses to shine, and the thick midnight darkness of that awful mid-day, is a fitting emblem of the tenfold midnight of his soul. Out of that thick horror he crieth “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Then, indeed, was he pressed down! Oh! there was never sorrow like unto his sorrow. All human griefs found a reservoir in his heart, and all the punishment of human guilt spent itself upon his body and his soul. Oh! shall sin ever be a trifle to us? Shall I ever laugh at that which made him groan? Shall I toy and dally with that which stabbed him to the heart? Sinner, wilt thou not give up thy sins for the sake of him who suffered for sin? Oh, sayest thou, yes, if I could believe that he suffered for my sake? Wilt thou trust thy soul in his hands this morning? Dost thou do so? Then he died for thee and took thy guilt, and carried all thy sorrows, and thou mayest go free, for God is satisfied, and thou art absolved. Christ was burdened that thou mightest be lightened; he was pressed with thy sheaves that thou mightest find deliverance. I would I could talk of my precious Master as he might speak of himself, or as John might speak, who saw him and bare witness. He could tell in plaintive tones of the sorrows of the man of Calvary; but such as I have I give you. O that God would give you with it the power, the grace, the blessed compulsion to believe on Jesus, to believe on Jesus now.
V. For if not, and here is our last point, God will bear the load for a little while; but if Christ hath not borne it for you, and for me, then THAT SAME LOAD WILL CRUSH US FOR EVER AND EVER.
I find that my text is translated by many learned men in a different way from the version before us: “I will press you as a cart that is full of sheaves presseth your place.” That is, just as a heavy loaded waggon pressed into the poor Eastern roads and left there deep furrows— furrows you would hardly think of in a land where we understand roadmaking so well— just as deep ridges and ruts were cut into the Eastern roads by the loaded waggon, so will I crush you, saith God, with the load of your sin. This is to be your doom, my hearer, if thou art out of Christ. Does it need me to enlarge upon this terror? I think not. It only needs that you should make a personal application of the threatening! Divide yourselves now. Divide yourselves, I say! Dost thou believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, then the threatening is not thine; but if thou believest not, whether thou art standing in yonder aisle, or up there in those far-off galleries, I do conjure you listen to me now as if thou wert the only person here— a Christless soul must be a damned soul; a spirit that believeth not in Christ is condemned already, because it believeth not. How shalt thou escape if thou neglectest so great salvation? Thus saith the Lord unto thee, “Consider thy ways.” By time, by eternity, by life, by death, by heaven, by hell, I do conjure you believe in him who is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto him; but if ye believe not that Christ is he, ye shall die in your sins. After death the judgment! Oh! the judgment, the thundering trump, the multitude, the crowd, the books, the great white throne, the “Come, ye blessed," the “Depart, ye cursed!” After judgment, to a soul that is out of Christ, Hell! Who among us, who among us shall abide with the devouring flame? Who among us, who among US shall dwell with the everlasting burnings? I pray that none of us may. But we must unless we fly to Christ. Oh, I beseech thee, my dear hearer, fly to Jesus! I may never see thy face again; thine eyes may never look into mine; but I shake my skirts of your blood, if ye believe not in Christ this morning. My tears entreat you, my lips would woo you. There is mercy for you; God has had patience with you; let his longsuffering lead you to repentance. He willeth not the death of any, but had rather that they should turn unto him and live; and this turning is simply this— trust Jesus with your soul, and he shall take your sin, and you shall stand accepted in the beloved. Wilt thou? Nay, I know thou wilt not unless the Spirit of God shall constrain thee; but at the least, if thou wilt not, it shall not be for want of pleading and entreating. Come, ’tis mercy’s welcome hour. I pray thee, come. Jesus with pierced hands invites thee, though thou hast rejected him. Thou hast stood against him long, he knocks again, his undefeated, unconquerable love defies thy wickedness and will have thee. Sinner, wilt thou have him or no? “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.” God help you to come, God make you come, tor Christ’s sake. Amen.