A Sermon Published on Thursday, January 2, 1908,
Delivered by C.H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington,
On Lord’s-Day Evening, January 1, 1865
“From this day will I bless you.” — Haggai 2:19.
METHINKS, as soon as ever I read that promise, your heart would leap towards it, and you would spontaneously say, “Lord, be this the day,-the first day of the year, and that day the Lord’s day,-make this the day from which thou wilt begin to bless me in a very especial manner!” God’s blessing is the richest gift which his creatures can receive; to be deprived of it is their greatest calamity. What is hell? It is the place where God’s blessing cannot come. What is heaven? It is the place where God’s blessing is constantly enjoyed without admixture. My God, were there a choice between thy blessing and heaven, I would sooner choose thy blessing, and be out of heaven, than be in heaven, if such a thing were possible, unblessed of my God. The highest felicity of a creature is to be blessed by its Creator; and the very highest felicity of the child of God is to have his Father’s blessing on his head and in his heart.
In a certain sense, dear friends, we cannot tell the time when God began to bless his people. If you go back to the day before all days, when there was no day but the Ancient of days; if you get back to the time when there was no time, when eternity alone existed; you find, in the council chambers of Divinity, that God was blessing his people. If I might suppose a day in eternity, I might say of it, “From this day will Jehovah bless his people.” When Jesus Christ appeared in human flesh, though you and I were not born, yet were we written in the Book in which all the members of Christ are written; and from that day when he bowed his head, and said, “It is finished,” and yielded up the ghost, a channel was opened for those mighty streams of grace which sprang from the divine decree; and it might be peculiarly said that, from that day, God began to bless us. When you and I were born, from the first moment that our face received the air, and our eyes were opened to the light, mercies were waiting for us. A tender mother received us on her bosom; a kind father provided for the needs of our weakness and infancy. I may say that, from the cradle, the Lord has said, “From this day will I bless you.” But, to some of us, there has been a second birthday, a day in which we passed from death unto life, from darkness into light. Happy day! We can never forget it. Next is it in happiness to that day in which we shall see the face of Christ without a veil between. The happiest day of our existence was that when we saw Christ hanging on the tree to bear the punishment of our sins. Truly may I say, as I stand at the foot of the cross, and remember the day when Jesus first met with me there, that he then said to me, “From this day will I bless you.”
Passing, however, over all the times and seasons upon which we might well be tempted to linger, I shall use my text, first, to seeking souls. The time is come, even to-night, when God will bless them. Then I shall use it to individual Christians. May the same be their case! Then I shall apply it to this church as a whole. May this church realize the blessedness of the promise!
I. First, I shall use the text TO SEEKING SOULS.
I remember well, when my heart was seeking after God with intense earnestness, my never-ceasing desire and my daily cry was, “Oh that I knew where I might find him!” And I would ask the Lord, “How long shall I cry unto thee, and thou wilt not hear me? How long shall I seek the face of Christ in vain?” This gives me sympathy with others in a like condition. You have been for a long time seeking rest, and finding none. You are weary and heavy laden; and you are saying to-night, “When will God bless me? When shall I be privileged to see my Father’s face in Christ Jesus, and to know that my sins are forgiven?” My beloved brethren and sisters, there is a period known to God, when he will show his face to his people. That period, when it does arrive, will certainly bring you comfort. It is written concerning Christ, “He must needs go through Samaria;” and there is a similar necessity that, to every chosen sinner, a day of grace should come, that he may see Christ, and be saved through him. That fixed and delightful time shall yet arrive to you. I pray that it may arrive to-night.
If you want to know when it is likely to arrive, let me give you some signs by which you may foresee it.
You are likely to have the whisper of God’s love in your heart when you have given up all confidence in the flesh. It may be that you have, some indistinct reliance, at the present moment, upon your own prayers. You are not so foolish as to trust in your baptism, or your confirmation, or your church-going, or chapel-going, but there lurks within you the traitorous thought that there is some efficacy, some usefulness in your Bible-reading, in your tears and repentance, or something else that comes from you. Now, remember, you will never know the fullness of Christ until you know the emptiness of everything else but Christ. All that was ever woven by man God shall unravel; all the sticks and stones that human energy can build, in the matter of eternal salvation, must be plucked down by Jehovah’s hand, for it is Christ alone who must build that house; unless he shall do so, they will labor in vain that build it. I say that this may be only an indistinct matter, but I pray you to cast out every particle of this old leaven, for Christ and thy soul never can be agreed until thou art willing to take him to be thy sole and only reliance; and if thou hast a shadow of a dependence anywhere else, Christ can never be a Savior to thee. See to that matter.
The time to bless you is probably come when there is a clean divorce between you and all your sins. That it is which keeps so many poor sinners in trouble, because, though they have given up many sins, there is one favourite sin which they still hold. But, sinner, thou canst not love Christ and thy sins too. I know thou art quite content to give up all the outward sins of the flesh, but there may be some worldliness, some covetousness, some little sin which thou art loath to part with; but thou must slay every one of these, in the purpose of thy heart, or thou never canst be reconciled to thy Father and thy God. One unrepented sin, one sin indulged in and delighted in, will as effectually stop the gates of heaven against thy soul as if thou shouldst live in fornication, adultery, or murder. Thy heart must hate all sin, and thy heart must love all holiness. When this comes to pass, from that day God will bless thee.
There are some who have never obtained peace through Christ, because they have not sought it in earnest. “I have prayed,” you say, “in earnest. I have groaned, and cried, and wrestled.” Yes, I know you have done so at times; but your earnestness has been of the spasmodic order. The gates of heaven open to all who are really believing in Christ; but they must know how to knock, and to knock again and again. When thy soul has come to the point when thou canst say, —
“I can no denial take,
For I plead for Jesus’ sake,” —
then thou shalt have no denial. O soul, think of the hell from which thou wouldst escape! Will not that quicken thy slumbering spirit? Then think of the heaven of which thou wouldst be a partaker. Will not this fire thy sluggish soul? Come, I pray thee, and meditate for a little while upon thy state and condition, upon time, eternity, death, heaven, hell, and let thy soul begin to bestir herself. If thou art cold, and lovest not prayer, God will not bless thee; but when thy soul comes to a devout enthusiasm, from that day will God bless you.
I think you are quite sure to get a blessing when you are willing to have it in God’s way. Some of you do not intend to believe in Christ unless you feel very deep conviction. If God will condescend to alarm you with dreams, you will then go to him. If you have made up your mind that you are to be saved in a certain stereotyped fashion, and you will never believe in Jesus unless he shall be pleased to manifest himself in that particular way, the day of your blessing will tarry long before it comes; but when your soul says, “If I can but look to Jesus, I will not ask for this experience nor for that. Only save me, Lord; do but take me into the ark, and let me escape from the destruction that is coming upon all who are outside, and my soul will lay aside her whims, her wishes, and her proud will, and bless thy name for what thy grace has done.” When your heart lies before God as the wax under the seal, ready to take any impression that the divine hand chooses to put upon it, then will God say, “From this day will I bless you.” To sum up everything in one,-if there be a sinner here who says in his soul, “Truly, I will take Christ to-night, and rest upon him; I see clearly that I have nowhere else to fly to, and I, therefore, fly to the cleft in the Rock of ages, and find a shelter there,” from this night God will bless you. If thy faith is built on Christ, and Christ only, go thy way, thy sins, which are many, are forgiven thee, and thou art an accepted soul; and neither death nor hell shall ever divide thee from thy Father’s love. Rejoice with joy unspeakable, for a long train of mercies shall be yours, world without end. I think I have said enough on that point. Pray, you who understand the power of prayer, that God may bless these simple, feeble sentences to the comforting of some captives, and to the loosening of their bonds.
II. And now I shall turn TO GOD’S PEOPLE, and address a few words to them.
Present in this assembly, to-night, are many saints who know their blessedness in Christ Jesus, but they are pining after a higher state of spiritual life; they want more communion with Christ, and greater conformity to his image, and so on. Dear friends, you are wanting to know when you may expect this choice favor, when you may dare to walk in the light of your Father’s face. Let me answer you. When your spirit is entirely resigned to the divine will, then, from that day God will bless you. It is very hard to bring down my Lord Will-be-will to be a contented servant of the King of kings. It is an easy thing to stand up here, and sing, —
“If thou shouldst call me to resign
What most I prize,-it ne’er was mine;
I only yield thee what was thine:
‘Thy will be done!’”
But it is not so easy to say that when you are looking into the face of a dead child, or have to follow to the grave some dearly-beloved wife or husband, or some brother or sister upon whom your soul was set. To stand to our surrenders then is hard work. We say, “Thy will be done;” but when God’s will is being done, we do not always use Job’s language, and say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” When you see a Christian man in the furnace, you cannot expect that he will get out by asking, “When will this flame abate?” But the fire will soon be over when a man, in such circumstances, can say, “The Lord’s will be done.” It is a sign that the metal has been properly fused, and that the dross has gone, when you can see the image of the Refiner in it,-when the heart reflects the face of God, and says, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
Beloved, depend upon it, our miseries grow at the root of our selfishness. Where selfishness begins, sorrow begins; and where selfishness is dead, grief is dead. Do you comprehend me? If our souls had wholly given up everything to Jehovah’s will, we should never lose anything, for we should already have given it up. We should never murmur if we could say, as the old Puritan said, “I always have my own will, because God has helped me to make his will my own will.” It proved the good state of the beggar’s heart when someone said to him, “I wish you a good day,” and he replied, “I thank you for your wish; but I always have good days. I do not know that one day is better than another when God is with me.” “Well,” said the one who was speaking to him, “surely there are some days that you like better than others.” “No,” said he, “there are not; all days please God, and what pleases God pleases me.” “If,” said one, to an aged Christian woman, “you had your choice whether you would live or die, what would you choose?” She replied, “I would not choose at all.” “But suppose you were forced to choose?” “I would then ask God to be good enough to choose for me.” Still, you see, she would avoid the choice, and leave it to the Lord. When thy heart becomes like that, then, from that day will God bless you.
As Christians, we may expect great blessing when it is no longer a matter of talk with us that we will give our all for the service of God, that when we really do so; then, from that day, God will bless us. I need not say, probably, that there is no giving so acceptable to God as that which is most costly to us. The widow’s mite was precious, not because it was a mite, but because it was all that she had. The old proverb says that “the liberal man gives until his hand sweats.” There are not many of that sort. True liberality begins when the hand begins to feel, when some sacrifice is caused by what we have given to the Lord our God. Do I feel, to-night, that all I am and all I have belongs to my Master? Can I say truly that, if a life of pain and poverty would glorify him, I would desire to live in pain and poverty; and if my death would more honor him, I would be willing to leave health and comfort at once, and to bear the stroke of the sword of death? Do you feel that —
“There’s not a lamb among the flock
I would disdain to feed;
There’s not a foe before whose face
I’d fear his cause to plead”?
Can you make, over again to-night, that solemn declaration of allegiance to your God that you made when first you came to Christ, —
“’Tis done! the great transaction’s done;
I am my Lord’s, and he is mine:
He drew me, and I followed on.
Charm’d to confess the voice divine”?
If so, then, from this day God will bless you.
There are some particular days on which God is pleased to grant a new lease of blessing to his people. Sometimes, it is when they have been specially engaged in prayer. I suppose you have all some landmark, if I may so call it, in your life, to which you can refer as being the starting point of your spiritual career, and also seasons of peculiar spiritual enjoyment. On such a day, for instance, one of you can say, “I had sweet communion with Christ; my soul was ravished with the glance of his eyes.” Well, dating back from that, you feel that there was a period of peculiar enjoyment. Now, I hope that, to-night, at the communion table, we shall be favored with such a season, and equally so to-morrow in private prayer. A certain Highlander began to entertain doubts as to his salvation. He could not, however, rest in doubt, but went to the top of a high mountain, and continued there all night wrestling in prayer, and was so taken up in devotion that he remained there the whole of the next day; but, from that time forth, he was never vexed with doubts any more. His mighty struggle with Satan upon the top of the mountain seemed to end for ever the period of his doubts and fears; and from that time a clear shining set in upon him until he was taken home. It were well if we were to have some seasons set apart for seeking communion with Christ, for at such times he would bless us.
I believe, too, that many Christians have dated new spiritual life from some particular act in their history. I do not like to tell my own secrets, but there has been such a day with me from which I have had to date a sort of new life. Our friends know little of it, perhaps; but I recollect one Sabbath evening, when, for some weeks, the collections in support of the College had not amounted to more than 2 or 3, and there were some twenty or thirty young men to maintain, and all that I had had been spent, and there was no money that I knew of to pay for another week. That evening, I learned to walk by faith in God in temporal things, a lesson that I had not so fully learned before. That very night, I went out from here, and said to one of my brethren, who is sitting behind me, “Now my bank is exhausted.” “No,” he said, “your Banker is the eternal God, and he can never be exhausted.” “Well, at any rate,” I said, “I have nothing in hand.” “Still,” he said, “cannot you trust your God?” We opened a letter that was then lying on the table, totally unknown to him or to me either, and found in it 200, sent by some donor whose name I never heard, and probably never shall hear until the day of judgment. From that moment to this, I have trusted God in that matter; and, mark my words, though I have found funds to be wanting for this or that, there has never been any real want of money, for, whenever it is needed God sends it. I have considered that, from that very night, my heavenly Father took that work into his own hands, and he said, “From this time will I bless you.”
Some of you may have had a comfortable income, and you got on very well, but it was all taken away from you, and you seemed to be cast adrift; but then, for the first time, you began to live by faith; and though, as men call it, it is only a hand-to-mouth way of living, yet you have had greater blessedness in it than you ever had before; and, though you may not be so rich as before, yet you have had such inward comfort, and such peace of conscience, that you have felt that God from that day has blessed you. If there are any Christians here who are dallying midway between faith and sense, I conjure you to snap the chain. Worldly people will say to you, “Let well alone,” and so on; but the best prudence in the world is to be a child, and the highest wisdom is that which the world thinks folly. “He who runs straightforward makes the best runner,” was the saying of a German when he was resting upon his God in one of his works of piety, and very true is it. Do not go roundabout, here and there, and ask, “Is this or that true?” but go straight to your God in the simple path of duty, in the holy way of faith. Take that course, and “from this day;” saith the Lord, “will I bless you.”
III. And now, to close. I think there is a time when EVERY CHURCH may hear the voice of God saying, “From this day will I bless you.”
I believe it will hear that voice as soon as ever it is bent upon getting a blessing. It is a difficult thing, however, to get a church into that state. I know some country churches where the ministers’ efforts are almost certain to be fruitless, not so much because of the congregation as because of the church. My brethren in the ministry sometimes say to me, “I tried to get a prayer-meeting, but they would not come. I wanted to have some special meetings, but an old deacon said, ‘We never had such a thing, and we ain’t going to have any now.’ I wanted to get them to do something by way of evangelizing the neighborhood, but they said they could not afford it; they had as much as they could do to keep up their own cause, and they would not do it.” Now, such churches never can expect a blessing; but I believe that, in this church, we have only one mind, and that one mind is this,-we mean to plead before God until he opens the windows of heaven, and pours us out a blessing. We feel, every one of us, upon this subject, that we will wrestle with the covenant angel until he gives us our heart’s desire; and we feel, too, that Christ will never be satisfied till many more jewels are put into his sparkling crown. Well, I believe that, if this be true, from this very night God will bless us.
God is sure to bless his people when every one feels that he has something to do and means to do it. Do not say, “My brother ought to do so-and-so; and my minister ought to do this and that.” Of course, you can speak like that if you wish to do so, but that is not the way to get a blessing. The main business of each Christian should lie in his own personal responsibility. I have heard of a man, who, as he went by the plate one collection Sunday, said, when he was asked what he gave, “What I give is nothing to anybody.” Somebody said he thought that was exactly what he did give. Now there are some people who, in what they do, come up to the same standard; they do no good to anybody. They live for themselves; and when they die, their existence will have been purely a selfish one. Such people bring a curse, rather than a blessing, to the church; but if you feel, brothers and sisters, to-night, that each one of you has a niche to fill, and resolve that you will try to fill it; if you realize that there is something to be done, and in God’s name you mean each of you to do it, then, from this time God will bless you.
And there is sure to be a blessing when there is a strong current of prayer; and there is that current in this church just now. There will be that current, I hope, to-morrow evening when we meet together specially for prayer. I hope that every one may come up with a heart like a censer full of sweet incense, smoking with holy prayer. Brethren and sisters, we must pray more in private. Here, perhaps, we fail. We must be instant in season and out of season in prayer, if prayer can ever be out of season. And then, when we come together at our prayer-meetings, there must be wrestling times,-times in which the blessing must surely be won from God by holy wrestling. When love and concord reign, when each member assists each other member, when the whole united church seeks nothing but the glory of God in the conversion of souls, then will the blessing come. I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I do venture to foretell a great
blessing upon this church in the year which has so happily commenced. We ended the last year by wrapping it up in a shroud of prayer; we will give this year the wings of praise, but we will still continue to pray for a visitation of the Spirit; and we shall surely have it, and the Lord’s name shall be glorified.