Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie a-soak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meaning and bearings, and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me. It softens me, or hardens me, or does whatever it ought to do to me, and then I can talk about it. You need not be very particular about the words and phrases if the spirit of the text has filled you; thoughts will leap out, and find raiment for themselves. Become saturated with spices, and you will smell of them; a sweet perfume will distil from you, and spread itself in every direction;—we call it unction. Do you not love to listen to a brother who abides in fellowship with the Lord Jesus? Even a few minutes with such a man is refreshing, for, like his Master, his paths drop fatness. Dwell in the truth, and let the truth dwell in you. Be baptized into its spirit and influence, that you may impart thereof to others. If you do not believe the gospel, do not preach it, for you lack an essential qualification; but even if you do believe it, do not preach it until you have taken it up into yourself as the wick takes up the oil. So only can you be a burning and a shining light. Personally, to me, the gospel is something more than a matter of faith; it has so mingled with my being as to be a part of my consciousness, an integral part of my mind, never to be removed from me. Faith in the old orthodox creed is not a matter of choice with me now. I am frequently told that I ought to examine at length the various new views which are so continually presented. I decline the invitation; I can smell them, and that satisfies me. I perceive in them nothing which glorifies God or magnifies Christ, but much that puffs up human nature, and I protest that the smell is enough for me.
People can be very religious and yet still die in their sins. They may look very much like children of God and yet still be children of wrath. Many unconverted people have beliefs which are similar to true biblical faith, and yet they do not have true faith. Certain people exhibit religious feelings which have the warmth of spiritual love, but are quite empty of God’s grace. Every grace can be counterfeited, even as jewels can be imitated. As glass gems are wonderfully like the real stones, so imitation graces are marvelously like the work of the Spirit of God. In matters of the soul, a man will need to have all his sense about him, or he will soon deceive his own heart. It is to be feared that many are already mistaken and will never discover their delusion until they open their eyes in the eternal world, where they will indeed face terrible disappointment.
A child dead in sin due to his sinful human nature may be carefully washed by his mother, but this will not make the child a living child of grace. The life of God within the soul creates an infinite difference between the person who has it and the one who does not; the point is to make sure that we have this life.
You may have seen a balloon ready to ascend into cloudland; and, perhaps, as you gazed upon it, you have asked yourself, “Why does it not go up? The supply of gas is furnished, the voyagers are in the car, everything appears ready; why does it not go up?” The attendants have cut most of the ropes; but there the balloon hangs because there is one rope that still holds it to the earth, and it is not until they cut the last one that away it bounds off towards Heaven. That is what you need to do. Perhaps you have a little goodness of your own, a little something to which you think you can trust. Well, if so, you must cut that rope, and all others; for you must get rid of anything and everything upon which you can rely for salvation except Jesus Christ, the only Saviour. “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” “Christ is all.” “Ye are complete in Him.” “Perfect in Christ Jesus.” “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” This is the teaching of the Scriptures. You cannot have Christ, and mix Him up with something else; you must have “Jesus only.”
The word here translated “search” signifies a strict, close, assiduous, diligent search – such as people make when they are seeking gold or when hunters are in earnest after game. We must not be content with having merely superficially read a chapter or two of the Bible, but we must deliberately seek out the intended meaning of the Word with the candle of the Spirit.
Holy Scripture requires searching. Much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babies, but there is also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word of Scripture. Tertullian exclaims, “I adore the fullness of the Scriptures.” No one who merely skims the Book of God can profit thereby. We must dig and mine until we obtain the hidden treasure. The door of the Word only opens with the key of diligence.
The Scriptures require searching. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and approval. Who will dare to treat them lightly? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them! God forbid that any of us should let our Bibles become swift witnesses against us in the great day of judgment!
The Word of God will reward searching. God does not have us sift a mountain of chaff to look for an occasional grain of wheat, for the Bible is winnowed grain. We only have to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. To the searching eye that is under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God glows with the splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold and adorned with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of precious gems. There is no merchandise like the merchandise of Scripture truth.
Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus. The Scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39). No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this. He who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, and all things. Happy is he who searches the Bible and discovers his Savior!
“Those who have no master are slaves to themselves. Depend upon it, you will either serve Satan or Christ, either self or the Saviour. You will find sin, self, Satan, and the world to be hard masters; but if you wear the livery of Christ, you will find him so meek and lowly of heart that you will find rest unto your souls. He is the most magnanimous of captains.
“There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him. These 40 years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another 40 years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.”
“Persons go out on Monday to business who cannot go out on Sunday. It is raining on Sunday, and it is very curious how rain on Sunday will keep some people in; their health is so weak, though the same rain on Monday does not affect them at all in that particular way. Have you never observed how some persons appear to be periodically ill on Sundays? That seems to be a favourite day for being ill; and then they will say that they cannot walk so far, and they would object to ride, the objection being, probably, to going at all, at the bottom.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
What I regard as a terrible evil, is abounding unbelief. I am not speaking now of that coarse kind of infidelity which rails at the Scriptures, and blasphemes the Name of the Lord our God. There is not much mischief in such a devil as that; he is too black, too plainly a fiend of hell! There is a more dangerous spirit now abroad, entering into Nonconformist churches, climbing into their pulpits, and notably perverting the testimony of some who count themselves somewhat, and are regarded as leaders by those who reckon themselves to be men of culture and intellect. Macaulay rightly said that theology is immutable; but these men are continually contradicting that opinion in the most practical manner, for their theology is fickle as the winds. Landmarks are laughed at, and fixed teaching is despised. “Progress” is their watchword, and we hear it repeated ad nauseam. Very far are we from denying that men ought to make progress in the knowledge of the truth, for we are aiming at that ourselves; and by daily experience, by study, and by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, we trust that, in some humble measure we are gaining it. But words need interpreting,—what is intended by “progress” in this case? Which way does it go?
It is too often progress from the truth, which, being interpreted, is progressing backwards. They talk of higher thought, but it is an ascending downwards. I must use their terms, and talk of progress; but their progress is a going from, and not a going to, the place of our desires. Evidently, it is progress from usefulness. They invite us to follow them in their advance towards a barren Socinianism, for thither the new theology tends, or to something worse. Now, we know, at the present time, certain ancient chapels shut up, with grass growing in the front of them, and over the door of them is the name Unitarian Baptist Chapel. Although it has been said that he is a benefactor of his race who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, we have no desire to empty our pews in order to grow more grass. We have in our eye certain other chapels, not yet arrived at that consummation, where the spiders are dwelling in delightful quietude, in which the pews are more numerous than the people, and although an endowment keeps the minister’s mouth open, there are but few open ears for him to address.
We should be crying, praying, and pleading that the church may continually grow. We must preach, visit, pray, and labor for this end. May the Lord add unto us daily such as are saved! If there is no harvest, can the seed be the true seed? Are we preaching apostolic doctrine if we never see apostolic results? Oh, my brethren, our hearts should be ready to break if there is no increase in the flocks we tend. Oh Lord, we plead with you, send increase!
The best of men are but men at the best, and the brightest saints are still sinners, for whom there is still a fountain open, but not opened, mark you, in Sodom and Gomorrah, but the fountain is opened for the house of David, and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that even they may still continue, with all their lofty privileges, to wash therein, and to be clean. This is the kind of humility, then, which is consistent with the highest moral and spiritual character, nay, it is the very clothing of such a character, as Peter puts it, “Be clothed with humility,” as if, after we had put on the whole armour of God, we put this over all to cover it all up. We do not want the helmet to glitter in the sun, nor the greaves of brass upon the knees to shine before men; but clothing ourselves like officers in mufti, we conceal the beauties which will eventually the more reveal themselves.