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The Saint's Heritage and Watchword
November 5th, 1854 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." Isaiah 54:17 .
This is the fifth of November, a day very notable in English history. The events which transpired on it ought never to be forgotten. On this memorable day, the Catholics, foiled in all their schemes for crushing our glorious Protestantism, devised a plot horrible and diabolical enough to render them for ever hateful among upright men. The vast Armada of Spain on which they had relied, had been by the breath of God scattered and given to destruction, and now the cowardly traitors attempted by the foulest means the end which they could not accomplish by open warfare. Under the Houses of Parliament the deadly powder was concealed which they hoped would be a death-blow to both Houses, and so annihilate the power of Protestantism; but God looked from heaven, he confounded their knavish tricks, he laid their secrets bare, and discovered their treachery. Hallelujah to the King immortal, invisible, who guarded us, and guards us still from the devices of Rome and hell. Praise to his name, we are free from the Pope of Rome, to whom
"Britons never will be slaves."
"While for our princes they prepare, In caverns deep a burning snare, He shot from heaven a piercing ray, And the dark treachery brought to day."
Nor is this the only event for which the fifth of November is notable, for in 1688, we as a nation experienced a deliverance equally as great. James II had attempted to revive the dying cause of Popery, and the hopes of Satan were great. But sturdy Protestants would not easily lose their dear-bought liberties, and, therefore, brought about the glorious revolution by which King William III ascended the throne, and from him the succession has been happily continued until the reign of our Queen, for whom our earnest prayers shall rise.
"Such great deliverance God hath wrought, And down to us salvation brought, And still the care of guardian heaven, Secures the bliss itself has given."
Blessed be God that on this fifth of November we can record such deliverances! Our Puritan forefathers never suffered this day to pass over without a commemoration service. So far from this day being forgotten, it ought to be remembered, not by the saturnalia of striplings, but by the songs of saints. I think I have in my possession now a record of sermons preached on the fifth of November by Matthew Henry. Many divines of his time regularly preached on this day. I think the true Protestant feeling of this country, which has lately so revived, and which has shown itself so strongly, will scarcely forgive me, if I do not this morning return most humble and hearty thanks to that God who has delivered us from the curse, and enabled us to stand as Protestant men free to preach the gospel of Christ. I notice in my text two things this morning the first is, the saint's heritage; the second, the saint's watchword. I. First, the saint's heritage "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord;" and then comes the saint's watchword "Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." Now, do not suppose that this morning I shall either have time, or opportunity, or talents, or power, to enter into an investigation of all the saint's heritages, especially when you remember that "all things are ours" the gift of God, the purchase of the Saviour's blood; so that time would fail us to talk of the possessions of the child of God. This world is his; earth is his lodge, and heaven his home. This life is his, with all its sorrows and its joys; death is his, with all its terrors and solemn realities; and eternity is his, with all its immortality and its grandeur. God is his, with all his attributes. The saint has a prospective right to every thing. God hath made him the heir of all things; for we are co-heirs with Christ, and joint-heirs with the Son of God. O, we have not time enough in the term of seventy years to read over once the fair inventory of the saint's possessions. If we could read it over once, there would be such a depth unfathomable, such a height immeasurable, such an intensity of value, such a depth of preciousness, that we should need to read it over an eternal number of times before we should ever be able to comprehend the love of God. So, then, you see I am not about to enter into the heritage of God's people at large; but I am going to speak of one peculiar item of that bright heritage as mentioned in my text; and that is preservation. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise up against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." I shall speak of this as being the heritage, not only of the church at large, but the personal and particular possession of every true believer, and every elect child of God. First, then, there is the promise that we shall have protection against the hand of men: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." Satan has always used the hand of man against the church of Christ. The weapon of physical force has ever been brought to bear against the church of God. From the day when first Cain with his club struck his brother Abel and laid him low, down to the time Zacharias the son of Barachias from that time until now, the weapon has been constantly used against the church of God. There has never been a time when a weapon has not been forged against the church of Christ. Yea, even at the present moment, as I stand here, and with the eye of fancy survey our world, I see a fire blazing fierce is the flame and high its pile of fuel. I see a monarch forging a weapon; a crowned tyrant longs to bring forth chains of iron for the liberties of Europe, and smaller despots long to destroy the germ of all true liberty, the glorious gospel of the blessed God. I see the armies ready against the Lord of hosts, ready to do battle against the servants of God. Still here is the sweet comfort; they may forge the weapon; they may fashion the sword; they may shut the prison door; they may confine the prisoners, they may make their instruments of torture; but they can not prosper; for God hath said it: He "breaketh the bow; and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire." "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." He will not let it do so. Let us just look back through history, and see how God has fulfilled this gracious promise to his church in past days. He has one it sometimes in this way. He has not allowed the sword so much as to touch his church. At other times he has suffered the sword to do its work; and yet out of evil he hath brought forth good. Sometimes no weapon that has been formed against the church has prospered, because God has not suffered it so much as to touch the church. Look at many cases of history. There is the overthrow of Pharaoh. Look yonder, there he is at the head of all the chivalry of Egypt pursuing the chosen race. The sea divides to give refuge to the Lord's elect. Lo, they tread the pebbly bottom of the sea of Edom, while the waters stand like walls of snow-white crystal on the right and on the left. But the impious monarch, all unawed by this mighty marvel, shouts, "On, on, soldiers of Memphis! do ye fear to tread where slaves are bold?" See, they boldly dash between the watery heights; chariot and horse are in the sea, madly pursuing Israel. Ho, Israel! fear not the uplifted spear, dread not the rattling chariot; they are marching to their tombs, their weapons shall not prosper. Moses uplifts the rod of God, the parted floods embrace with eager joy, and grasp the helpless foe within their arms.
"Over horse and over car, Over every man of war, Over Pharaoh's crown of gold The loud thundering billows rolled. Mid the water dark and dread, Down they sank, they sank like lead!"
Again, my brethren, behold another glorious proof of the promise. Haman had conceived a hatred to Mordecai, and for his sake the whole race of Jews must perish. How deep he lays his plots, how readily he obtains the consent of the king, how sure is he of revenge. Even now in imagination he sees Mordecai swinging on the lofty gallows, and all his kindred given to slaughter. Ah, thou enemy, delight in thine imagination, for it shall be disappointed; rejoice in thy design, but it shall be utterly confounded. There is a God in the courts of heaven, and an Esther in the palace of Shushan. Thou thyself shalt be hanged on thine own gallows, and the race of David shall revenge the deed of the Agagite upon his sons. O, Israel, well mayest thou rejoice at the feast of Purim, for the weapon of the mighty is broken. Nor here alone can we see the promise fulfilled; for time would fail me to tell of conquered Amalek and routed Midian. Scarce can we speak of Philistia and her giants given to the beasts of prey, or Edom slaughtered by the sword. Let the armies witness who fled at the fancied rumbling of chariots, or that host who in one night became the inhabitants of the realms of death. Let the warriors who rest with their rusted swords beneath their earthy pillows rise from their long sleep and confess the futility of their efforts; yea, let monarchs now in the chains of hell bear witness to their own utter confusion when the Lord appeared in battle for his chosen. March on, despot; bid thy slaves rise against the free, crush the helpless, and usurp the dominions of thy neighbor; but know that the Lord is mightier than thou. Thy northern hordes are not invincible; and Britons, with the help of God, shall teach thee that in vain thou liftest the hand of robbery. Thou contendest with a nation in whose midst the elect of God are praying against thee, and thou shalt know that God has said unto her holy seed, "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper." But now another view of the subject presents itself. Sometimes God has suffered the enemy to exact upon us, and the sword has been use with terrible effect. O, there have been dark and gloomy days for the chosen church of Christ! When persecution has cried, "Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war," blood has flowed like water over the land! our enemies have triumphed. the martyr was bound to the stake, or was crucified upon the tree; the pastor was cut off, and the flocks were scattered. Cruel torture awful suffering was endured by the saints of God. The elect cried, and said, "O Lord, how long? let it repent thee concerning thy servants." The enemy laughed, and said, "Ah, ah! so would we have it." Zion was under a cloud. Her precious saints, comparable to fine gold, were esteemed as earthen vessels, the work of the hands of the potter, and her princes were trodden down like mire in the streets. O, my soul! how was it in that sad day, when the enemy came in upon her like a flood, and she could scarcely lift up the standard of the Lord against him? O God, there was an hour when thou wouldst not hear the cry of thine elect! It seemed as if thine ear was deaf; the plaint of the widow was unheeded; the groans, the agonies, and the cries of martyrs were unnoticed; and thou didst still allow the enemy to vex thy children. Persecution shook the land, and sent forth its burning lava of cruelty, devastating the fair fields of the church of God. But did the enemy prosper? Did he succeed? Did persecution destroy his church? Did the weapon formed against us prosper? No! Each time that the church had a wave pass over her she rose out of it, and lifted her fair countenance, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners. She was all the more glorious for it all. Every time her blood was shed each drop became a man, and each man thus converted stood prepared to pour out the vital current from his veins to defend the cause. Ah! those were times when, instead of the church being diminished and brought low, God did multiply her, and persecution worked for her good instead of causing her evil. The persecutor did not destroy the church. Christ's church never sails so well as when she is rocked from side to side by the winds of persecution; when the spray of her blood dashes in the front, and when at every lurch she is well-nigh overwhelmed. Nothing has helped God's church so much as persecution; it has increased, and been strengthened by it. You will remember that this is not only the heritage of the church at large, but of every individual believer. And now I can speak to some poor souls who are in this place of worship. O brother! O sister! there is a word for thee this morning. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." There are some dear sisters who come into this house of prayer under fear of brutal husbands others, sons and daughters who have cruel fathers. I know there are some here who meet with dire and terrible persecution because they come to the house of God. O, little do some of us know when we meet here what our next neighbor on the seat has had to suffer to come up to this house! "I could a tale unfold would ruffle up your spirits" a tale of persecution endured by some of the saints of God in this place. This is a word for you: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." The blow of a brutal husband shall not injure you; it may injure your body, but it can not injure your soul. "Fear not them that kill the body, and afterward have no more that they can do, but fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell." Why should you fear? God is on your side. Remember, Christ has said, "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad when they say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name's sake; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Rejoice, and leap for joy, for great shall be your reward in heaven." Hold on, young man; hold on, young woman; still continue in the fear of God, and you shall find that persecution shall work for your good. But mark thee, persecutor, if thou art here this morning, there is a chain in hell of hot iron that shall be bound around thy waist; there are fiends that have whips of fire, and they shall scourge thy soul throughout eternity, because thou darest to put a stumbling-block in the way of God's children. Remember what Scripture saith: "Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast into the sea." The second portion of the heritage is, "Every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." Here is a protection from the tongue of men. Satan leaves no stone unturned against the church of God. He uses not simply the hand, but, what is oftener a harder weapon, the tongue. We can bear a blow sometimes, but we can not endure an insult. There is a great power in the tongue. We can rise from a blow which laid us low on the ground; but we can not so easily recover from slander; that lays the character low. "Every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn." Look at the church at large and see how she has condemned her adversaries. When first she came into the world, she had to oppose Judaism; but she has condemned it, and its doctrines are now effete: then up started philosophers, and said it was foolishness, because they found nothing of worldly wisdom in it. But what has become of the philosopher now? Where is the stoic who boasted of his wisdom? where the Epicurean who lectured in the streets of Greece? Where are they now? They are gone, and their names are only used as words that were as things that have ceased to be as figures of antiquity. Then Satan invented Mohammedanism in order to oppose the truth; but where is that? We have condemned it long ago. It is now a bloated carcass, almost without life, not able to stand. The cross has make the crescent wane. Where are the various systems of infidelity which have arisen one after another? They are gone quite out of sight. Now and then we felt rather alarmed; because we heard that some great people were going to prove that the Bible was not true, and our creed was not sound. I remember talking with an old man once: "Ah," said he, "sir, this geology will quite ruin man's belief in the Bible." But where is geology now? Instead of opposing the gospel, it furnishes many powerful confirmations of the facts of revelation. Each one of the sciences has, in its imperfect condition, been used as a battering-ram against the truth of God; but as soon as it has been understood it has been made a pillar in Zion's outworks. Fear not, O son of God, that the perversions of men of science can damage our cause. Lying tongues we shall condemn. O infidelity! abortion of the night! thou hast been condemned a thousand times. Thou art a Protean creature, changing thy shape as ages change. Once thou wast a laughing idiotic plaything for Voltaire; then a bullying blasphemer with Tom Paine; then a cruel, blood-drinking fiend, fit mate for Robespierre; anon, a speculating theorist with Owen; and now a worldly, gross, secularizing thing for impious lecturers and profane admirers. I fear thee not, infidelity; thou art an asp, biting at iron, spending thy spleen, and breaking thy fangs. My friends, did you ever walk the centuries, and mark the rise and fall of various empires of unbelief? If so, you will seem to be on a battle-field, and you see corpses; you ask the name of the dead, and some one replies, that is the corpse of such a system, and that the carcass of such a theory; and, mark you, as surely as time rolls on, the now rampant style of infidelity will perish, and, in fifty years, we shall see the skeleton of an exploded scheme, and of its admirers the epitaph will be, "Here lies a fool, called of old, a secularist." Now, what shall we say of Mormonism, the haggard superstition of the West; or of Puseyism, the express image of Popery; or of Socinian and Arian heresies, of Arminian perversions, or of Antinomian abuse? What shall we say of each, but that their death-knell shall soon toll, and these children of hell shall sink back to their birth-place in the pit. And yon old and crazy church upon the seven hills has dared to hurl its anathemas at the saints of the Lord. Still doth she hold the wine-cup of abomination; still is she robed in scarlet, and her sway is over many waters; but she shall be condemned in judgment. Lo, the millstone in the hand of the archangel hastens to its fall, and Babylon the Great shall perish with a terrible overthrow. Then shall this cry go up from the Church of God, "Shout, O heavens, for the Lord hath done it; sing, O ye inhabitants of the earth, for the promise is accomplished, and every opposing tongue is condemned!" Now, I wish to make this a personal heritage of each child of God "every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment, you shall condemn." O! what a sweet thought that is for me, for there are many tongues busy about me. Some say, "He is a good man;" others say, "He is deceiving the people." Well, if God will convert more sinners, and bring more to his church, they may decide which way they like. I am not careful to answer any of the self-thought infallible in this matter. You never knew of a preacher who gathers a crowd, or who is doing any good, but he is sure to be slandered, and vilified, and so on; but here is a promise "Every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn." We can afford a little slander, because we know we shall have all the more to condemn. The more accusers, the more acquittals; the more slander, so much the more honor of God: so the enemy may just slander still for what we care; for "every tongue that shall rise against us in judgment we shall condemn." But I know that there are some of my hearers who believe and love the doctrines of grace; and sometimes you are called to dispute and contend for them. I know you are; I trust you are; I hope you love to "contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." I know what is the case with many of you: when you come to plead with an infidel you do not know what to say. Has it not been so with you many a time? You have said, "I almost wish I could hold my tongue, for the man has confounded me;" yet remember, "Every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn." Last time you had that dispute, you thought your adversary conquered, did you not? You thought wrong. He might glory in his intellectual prowess. He might say, "Oh, that man is nothing to me." But leave him alone till he gets to bed; and when the hours of darkness are around him, he will seriously begin to think. He conquered you in appearance; but now you master him. Wait till he is sick, and then your words shall ring in his ears; they shall come up again from the grave if he should survive you, and you will conquer him then. Do not be afraid to argue for the truth. Do not think that infidels are wise men; or Arminians are so exceedingly learned. Stand up for the truth; and there is so much solid learning and real truth to be found in the doctrines that we uphold, that none of you need be ashamed of them. They are mighty and must prevail. The mighty God of Jacob, by the demonstration of the Holy Ghost, makes them triumphant! There is one that has risen against me in judgment may times, and I dare say he has troubled many of the dear people of the Lord here that is Satan. He is always rising in judgment against us. Whenever we get into a little trouble, he comes and says, "You are no saint." If we commit a sin "You should not sin like that, if you had been a child of God; you have no interest in the covenant; you are an enthusiast, you have deceived yourself." How many times Satan has risen against me in judgment so risen that I have been fool enough to heed what he said. I have told him sometimes, "You are a liar, and the father of lies;" but at other times I have believed his malicious accusation. O, it is no easy thing to stand against the insinuations of the evil one. You, my brethren, are not strangers to his devices. He has set conscience at you, the hell-hounds of legal convictions howled upon you, and the drum of terrible doom thundered in you ears; then up stood the fiend himself and denied your union with Jesus, claiming you as his own prey and portion. Ah, how glorious the moment when our Advocate entered the forum of conscience, and assured us that he had pleaded our cause in the court of King's Bench above. And, oh, when he showed us the adversary's brief, spoiled by the nails of the cross, we felt that the tongue of Satan was condemned, and his calumnies hushed. Glorious Councillor, all praise to thine adorable name. Let the saints know also that they shall soon have a yet more public triumph over their cruel enemy. At the day of judgment, the foe of God and man shall be dragged from his cell, shall lift his brazen front with thunder scarred, receive his sentence, and begin a hell more terrible than all he has endured before. O saint, dost thou know that thou shalt judge him? Know you not that you shall judge angels? You, sons of God, shall sit as assessors with the firstborn Son, and when he shall pronounce the doom of the dragon, you shall solemnly say "Amen" to the sentence. Rejoice, O poor tried one; thou shalt tread upon the head of thine enemy, and thou shalt know that the promise is fulfilled in thine own experience "Every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." But now, beloved, I have spoken sufficiently for the present on this glorious heritage of the saints of God. The weapons are not to prosper, and the tongues are to be condemned. II. Now we must close up with THE SAINT'S WATCHWORD. What is that? "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." In ancient times, if not at present, armies used to have their watchwords, by which they might recognize one another in the dark. We want a watchword now. It is very difficult to tell the children of God unless we have certain signs. God himself gives us the watchword. "Your righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." You can always tell a saint of God by this watchword. If he says, "My righteousness of God," you may safely believe that he is a disciple of Jesus Christ. If he does not understand our shibboleth, he may not have lived in that country where they speak the pure language of Canaan, and that may excuse defects in his language. He may differ from us in some points, but if he sincerely says, "My righteousness is of God," you may safely conclude that he is not an enemy of truth. I mean "THE TRUTH as it is in Jesus." We may understand this watchword in two senses. It may mean that Christian justification in the eyes of the world is of God; and again, their righteousness and salvation is of God. O, there is to be a time when God's children shall come out clear of all slander, when falsehood shall be swept away, and they shall stand forth justified even by their enemies. Their slanderers shall have nothing to say against them. They shall share in the admiration which an assembled universe shall be constrained to give to him who doeth all things well. But this vindication will not be brought about by their own efforts. They have not been anxious to avoid reproach for Christ's sake. They have not wept and bemoaned themselves because they were counted the offscouring of all things. No; their righteousness, their entire clearing from the aspersions of malice and the calumnies of envy will come from Jehovah. The escutcheon of the church is in the Lord's hands, and he will wipe away all her defilement. The character of the saints God himself shall vindicate, and all liars shall have their portion in the lake of fire and brimstone. Let this be the pennon on our lance; let this be our cheering watchword, our vindication "Our righteousness is of the Lord." Now for the second meaning" "Their justifying righteousness is of me," saith the Lord. Now, if I wished to test you all, and might ask you only one question, I would ask this: What is your righteousness? Now come along in single file. What is your righteousness? O, I am as good as my neighbors. Go along with you; you are not my comrade. What is your righteousness? Well, I am rather better than my neighbors, for I go to chapel regularly. Off with you, sir; you do not know the watchword. And you next; what is your righteousness? I have been baptized, and am a member of the church. Yes, and so you may; and if that is your hope, you are in the gall of bitterness. Now, you next; what is your hope? O, I do all I can, and Christ makes up the rest. Rubbish! You are a Babylonian, you are no Israelite: Christ is no make-weight away with you. Here comes the last. What is your righteousness? My righteousness if filthy rags, except one righteousness which I have, which Christ wrought out for me on Calvary, imputed to me by God himself, which makes me pure and spotless as an angel. Ah, brother, you and I are fellow-soldiers: I have found you out; that is the watchword. "Your righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." I do not ask whether you are Churchmen, or whether you are Methodists, or Independents, or Baptists, if you do but know this watchword "Your righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." I can forgive all those other minor things, if you can sing
"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, My beauty are, my glorious dress."
Tell me you have got any other trust, and I will have nothing to do with you. Tell me you can work out your own salvation, and I will not acknowledge you for a brother. But if you tell me that from first to last you rely on Jesus, then I acknowledge you as a fellow-soldier; and I am glad to see you wherever I meet you. But to wind up; we have had the heritage of the saints, and we have had the watchword of the saints. What next shall we say? We will say, how well God has kept his promise. Has he not? You must know that it is just 249 years ago it will be 250 next year the fifth jubilee since under the Parliament-house the train was laid, and the gun powder ready, to blow up the House of Lords and Commons, and utterly to destroy the nation. Ah, this night 249 years ago, how Satan gloated on the thought that he should destroy the church, and exalt his darlings to honors in the place of those who loved the Lord. Where are their mighty men? O! they said, the foundations will be removed; and what will the righteous do? They thought that surely their end would be accomplished. But how sadly were they disappointed! They were discovered. Down went the soldiers, and found out the plot; and Popery had been prevented from spreading throughout Great Britain. O, blessed be the name of the Lord! "no weapon that is formed against the church shall prosper." We glory because we can put our finger upon history and exclaim, God is true, and events are witnesses of his faithfulness. O beloved, has the Holy Ghost given you an inwrought knowledge of the truth of this word of God? Have you experienced blesses deliverances from the right hand of the Most High? Many of you, I fear, have neither part nor lot in this matter, and you have true cause to lament you terrible loss in being unable to grasp these covenant blessings. But some of us may now anticipate the hour when we shall obtain complete redemption with all the blood-bought family, and then, ah, then, how shall we with rapture review delivering grace in all its thousand instances! Hark! hark! methought I heard sweet music; methought I heard a song descending from the regions up above, borne down by gales whose breath is sweet as that which comes from the spicy groves of Araby. I hear a sound not earthly: it is, it must be celestial, for no mortal sonnets can with these compare. O river of harmony! Where are the lips from which thou flowest? The heavens are opened; I see a host in white robes, with crowns upon their heads, and palm-branches in their hands. Who are these? whence come they? These are they who have passed through much tribulation. We have whitened our robes in the blood of the Lamb; therefore we are without fault before the throne of God, and we serve him day and night in his temple. Holy ones, repeat the song; saints of God, re-echo the chorus; repeat it yet again, that these ears may hear it. What do you sing? "No weapon that is formed against us hath prospered; every tongue that hath risen against us in judgment we have condemned." This is the heritage "Our righteousness is of the Lord." Farewell, saints of God! Now, saints below, take up the train, and sing it by holy, faithful, confident anticipation
"No weapon hath prospered, the foe is o'ercome; No tongue hath succeeded, the wise ones are dumb; The Lord is our glory, and each of the host Shall yet shout hosannah on Canaan's fair coast."
Glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, world without end.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 54". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent