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Intended for Reading on Lord's-day, July 17th, 1892,
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
On Lord's-day Evening, July 6th, 1890.
"Thou hast magnified the nation, and increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil." Isaiah 9:3 .
Notice that I make a correction in the version from which I am reading. The Authorized Version has it, "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy." This is not consistent with the connection; the Revised Version has very properly put it, "Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy." I have not any learning to display; but I think I could show it to you, if this were the proper time, how the passage came to be read with a "not", and I could also prove to you that, in this instance, the Revisers were right in making their alteration.
To-night, there are about eighty-two persons, who have confessed Christ before the church, and have been baptized, who are to be received into our fellowship; and we feel very grateful for this large addition to our members; and all the more so because it is no strange thing; but month by month, all the year round, they continue to come, though, not in such large numbers as at this time. God be thanked for thus blessing us! We cannot allow these occasions to pass over without joying before the Lord as men rejoice when they gather in their sheaves of corn.
To bring out your joy, think of how we should feel if we did not have an increase in the church, where very few are ever added to them. The good old people seem quite content to be very few. Their notion is that the way to heaven is very narrow, as indeed it is, and that therefore they must not expect many to find their way. I remember a church where the good old deacons used to say of the converts, "Summer them and winter them. Keep them out till we have tried them for a very long time." It came to pass, after the process of "summering and wintering", that a great many of them never came forward at all. Though they were very excellent people, they never summoned courage enough to join such a church. Did you ever hear a farmer say of his wheat, "Summer it and winter it, and then take it into the barn"? No, farmers are not such fools. But these good men were so very wise that they became otherwise; so they said, "Keep the corn out in the field; else you will bring in some poppies, or some corn-flowers, and we do not want them. Keep the converts out of the church till you are sure that there are no hypocrites among them." Well, dear friends, we are not at all of this mind. We try to use every caution, and great prudence; and our friends do not come into this church without experiencing an examination, some of them even think it to be an ordeal; yet I find that the more difficult it is to get into a church, the more people want to come into it; and whenever the barriers are lowered, and you tell people that they may come without any test as to the state of their souls, nobody cares to come. Well, we have taken pains and care, and have sought only to welcome the worthy, that is, those who are trusting in Jesus, yet we have had a great number come. But suppose that we had none. Well, I hope every Christian man and woman here would be troubled about it. I should not wonder if the question arose, "Had we not better put somebody else on the platform?" That somebody who is now here would be the first to say, "If I am doing no good, let somebody else come and try; for it would be sad and sickening business to be fishing for souls, and never catching anything." Last winter, at Menton, I went out in a boat, where I was assured that there were shoals of fish; and I had a line, I should think it was a hundred and fifty feet long, and after waiting hour after hour, and never feeling the fish bite, I gave up the useless occupation. I think every minister is bound to give up the spiritual fishery in any particular place if, after many days' toil, he has caught nothing for Christ. Rachel says, "Give me children, or I die." Christ servant says, "Give me converts, or I die." Indeed, we are dead as far as our ministry is concerned unless God blesses it.
We also feel that we ought to be glad when others are joined to the church, because we look back, with exquisite pleasure, upon our own joining it. I remember the trouble it cost me to join the church. I think I went to see the pastor some four or five days running; he was always too busy to see me, till at last I told him it did not matter, for I want to go to the church-meeting, and propose myself as a member; and then he, all of a sudden, found time to see me, and so I managed to get into the church, and confess my faith in Christ. Oh, dear friends, that was one of the best days' work. I ever did, when I openly declared my faith in Christ, and united myself with his people! I think many here could say the same; they remember when they united with the people of God, and publicly avowed their faith. You do not regret it brethren, do you? I am sure you feel that it was a happy day when you could say,
"'Tis done! The great transaction's done:
I am my Lord's, and he is mine."
By the peace of mind which has come to us from joining with the people of God after believing in Christ, we feel glad to see other young soldiers stooping to take up the cross of Christ, and following him, "without the camp, bearing his reproach."
I. Looking at our text, I notice in it, first, A WORD OF DISCRIMINATION. If you look carefully at the passage, you will soon see it: "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased the joy."
Observe, first, thatconversion must be the Lord's work. The only multiplication of the Church of God that is to be desired is that which God sends: "Thou hast multiplied the nation." If we add to our churches by becoming worldly, by taking in persons who have never been born again; if we add to our churches by accommodating the life of the Christian to the life of the worldling, our increase is worth nothing at all; it is a loss rather than a gain. If we add to our churches by excitement, by making appeals to the passions, rather than by explaining truth to the understanding; if we add to our churches otherwise than by the power of the Spirit of God making men new creatures in Christ Jesus, the increase is of no worth whatever. A man picked himself up from the gutter, and rolled up against Mr. Rowland Hill, one night as he went home, and he said, "Mr. Hill, I am pleased to see you, sir. I am one of your converts." Rowland said, "I thought it was very likely you were. You are not one of God's converts, or else you would not be drunk." There is a great lesson in that answer. My converts are no good; Rowland Hill's converts could get drunk; but the converts of the Spirit of God, those are really renewed in the spirit of their mind, by a supernatural operation, these are a real increase to the church of God. "Thou hast multiplied the nation." Pray hard that the Lord may continue to send us converts. He never sends the wrong people. However poor they may be, however illiterate, if they are converted, as they will be if the Lord sends them, they will be the very people that we want. May God send us thousands more!
The text also teaches us, with a word of discrimination, that conversion must be such as the Lord describes in this chapter: "The peoples that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." When God brings men to the church, they are the people who have undergone a very remarkable change. They have come out of darkness, palpable, horrible, into light, marvelous and delightful. God sends no other than these. If you are not changed characters, if you are not new creatures in Christ Jesus, if you cannot say, "One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see," the church cannot receive you as you are, and God has not sent you. Now, who can turn us from darkness unto light but God? Who can work this great miracle within the heart? Darkness of heart is very hard to move. Who but God can make the eternal light burst through the natural darkness, and turn us from the power of Satan unto God?
Next, conversion must have a distinct relation to Christ. Look down the chapter, just a little way, and you come to this wonderful passage: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." We want converts who know this Christ, men and women to whom he is "Wonderful", to whom he has become the "Counselor." We want no additions to the church of those who cannot call him "The mighty God. The everlasting Father." We want men and women to whom Christ has become "The Prince of Peace." If these are added to us, the church groweth exceedingly. If others are added, they do but increase our burden; they become our weakness; in many cases they become our disgrace. Dear hearers, you know whether you are trusting Christ or not. If you are, come and confess him. If you are not, weep in secret places, and cry to God the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to you as the Wonderful, Counselor, and the mighty God, and then, when you know him as your Saviour, come and join yourself to his people, and God will, in your case, have multiplied the nation.
Once more, about this discrimination, the joy must be such as God gives. The text says, "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased the joy." The joy that we ought to have to-night, the joy of any growing church, will be joy such as God gives. That is the kind of joy we desire to have. If anybody wishes to see the church grow that we may excel other churches, that is not the joy that God gives. If we like to see converts because we are glad that our opinions should be spread, God does not give that joy. If we crave converts that we may steal them from other people, God does not give that joy, if it be a joy. I do not think God is the lover of sheep-stealers, and there are plenty such about. We do not desire to increase our numbers by taking Christian people away from other Christian communities. No, the joy which God gives us is clear, unselfish delight in Christ being glorified, in souls being saved, in truths being spread, and in error being baffled. God give us a joy over those who are added to us, which shall be pure, and Christlike, and heavenly! Oh, that he might increase such joy! I think that he has increased it.
Did you ever worship in a place where there were more pews than people? Did you ever go to a church or chapel where the preacher could preach upon anything except the gospel of Christ, where you might hear about anything except the precious blood of Christ? That, the minister would be sure not to mention. Then, I like I see you go grumbling down the aisle after every service, or you sit there, and look up at the pulpit, and long for what you never hear, till the Sabbath becomes more wearisome than any day of the week. Oh, dear! Few people; little to be got; very little to be given; a terrible "starvation camp:, where every man looks at his fellow, and wonders who is going to die next. Well, now, we ought to thank God that it is not so with us. Look on this company gathered here to-night. Think of the congregation we had this morning; remember the deep attention, and think in how many cases God has blessed the Word to the hearers. I never, personally, felt so weak, or felt as great a burden in preaching; yet I never had so large a blessing; there are more converts than ever. Glory be to God, this is the kind of joy that comes from him, in his Word, in his power, that out of weakness makes his servant strong.
So much by way of discrimination.
II. Now, secondly, notice a WORD OF DESCRIPTION, which is the main part of the text. The joy of the church in receiving converts may be compared to the joy in harvest. In all nations, the time of reaping the corn, and gathering it into the garner, has been regarded as a festival. What is the joy of harvest?
Well, it is a joy which we ought to expect. The husbandman expects a harvest. He says, "It is so many weeks to harvest." He sows his seed with a view to harvest, He turns in a man to clear out the weeds with a view to a harvest. Well, now, every church should be looking out for a spiritual harvest. One said to me, once, "I have preached for several years, and I believe God has blessed the word; but nobody ever comes forward to tell me so." I said to him, "Next Lord's-day, say to the people, 'I shall be in the vestry when the sermon is finished, to see friends who have been converted.' " To his surprise, ten or twelve came in; and he was quite taken aback; but, of course, quite delighted. He had not looked for a harvest, so of course he did not get it. You know the story I tell of my first student, Mr. Medhurst. He went out to preach on Tower Hill, Sunday after Sunday. He was not then my student; but one of the young men in the church. He came to me, and said, "I have been out preaching now for several months on tower Hill, and I have not seen one conversion." I said to him, rather sharply, "Do you expect God is going to bless you every time you choose to open your mouth?" He answered, "Oh! No, sir; I do not expect him to do that." "Then," I replied, "that is why you do not get a blessing." We ought to expect a blessing. God has said, "My Word shall not return unto me void;" and it will not. We ought to look for a harvest. He who preaches the gospel with his whole heart, ought to be surprised if he does not hear of conversions; and he ought to begin to say in his heart, "I will know the reason why," and never stop till he has found it out. The joy of the harvest is what we have a right to expect.
The joy of harvest, next, is a joy which has respect for former toil. He is bound to rejoice in a harvest who has sorrowed in ploughing, and in the sowing of the seed, and in watching his crop when it was in the ear, and when frost, and blight, and mildew, threatened to destroy it. Brothers and sisters, many of us here can rejoice with the joy of harvest, because, in those converted to Christ, we see the fruit of our soul's travail. I thank God first, and I thank many of you next, that when I sit to see enquirers, I find that I am very generally the spiritual grandfather of those who come, rather than their father in the faith; for I find that you, whom God gave me in years past are, many of you, diligent in seeking the souls of others. In the case of many of you who join the church, their conversion is due to this sister and to that, to this brother and to that, rather than distinctly to my ministry. I am very glad to have it so. During the last two days I have spoken to two friends, both of whom said to me, "I am your spiritual grandchild." One from America said so this morning. I asked, "How is that?" The answer was, "Mr. So-and-so, whom you brought to Christ, came out to America, and he brought me to Christ." You who have had any part in the conversion of these eighty-two, who are to be received to-night, will rejoice; in proportion as you have sighed, and prayed, and been beaten, and foiled, and disappointed, in that very proportion you will rejoice with the joy of harvest.
But, next, it is a joy which has solid ground to go upon. I do not know of a more joyful occasion than when young men and women, and, for the matter of that, old men and women, too, are brought to confess Christ, and to unite with his people. It is a very joyful thing to attend a wedding; but it is always a speculation as to how it will turn out; but when you come to see a soul yield itself to Christ, there is no speculation about that; you have a blessed certainty. Oh, methinks the angels sing more sweetly than ever as they hear a man, or woman, or child say, "I trust in Jesus; I confess his name." When we know and believe that true faith in Christ means present salvation, there is a great joy about that. I heard, the other day, of some preachers who say that there is no such thing as present salvation; and though they constantly preach, they tell the people, every now and then, that they must be saved when they come to die; but there is no such thing as being saved now. I should like to present those brethren with a little "Catechism for the Young and Ignorant:, which Mr. Cruden was wont to give away; for, if they are not "young", they certainly must be "ignorant" of the first principles of the faith. You are saved, dear hearer, if you have believed in Christ Jesus. You are saved even now. If you were not, I do not see any reason why we should rejoice over you with the joy of harvest.
Moreover, we believer that, if you have trusted Christ, you will be saved eternally. Angels do not rejoice prematurely over repentant sinners. They never have to say to one another, "Gabriel, Michael, you made a very terrible mistake the other day. You rejoiced in the presence of God over that man who, after all, has gone down to hell. You rang the bells too soon." Angels do not do that. Jesus gives to his sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of his hand. Therefore, we feel that the confession of Christ is, in itself, a thing to rejoice over; and the immediate salvation that goes with it, and the eternal salvation that is included in it, warrant us in rejoicing with the joy of the harvest.
Moreover, this is a joy which looks to the future. Men rejoice in the harvest because they remember that, all through the winter, they will feed upon the food which they are now gathering. The poorest man in London has reason to be thankful for a good harvest; for it will help to make food cheaper. We are to enjoy in days to come what we gather in the harvest-time. There are sixteen girls coming from the Orphanage to join the church, and I am rejoicing in my heart over sixteen women who will, I trust, during a long life glorify Christ; sixteen matrons in the church who shall be Deborahs, Dorcasses, and Phoebes, or whoever else you may like to think of among holy women. The boys also who come, however young they may be, and however little they may appear in some men's eyes, we cannot ell to what they will grow. I may be receiving to-night a Livingstone, or a Moffat, or a Williams, or a Whitefield, or a Wesley, or some other servant of God, who, in some sphere or other, will serve him right nobly.
Beloved, some of us will soon be gone. There are some here who are older than I am, who, in the natural course of things, will soon sleep in the cemetery. Are you not glad to see others coming forward? They will "hold the fort" when you can no longer stand upon its walls; and, on account of this hope of the future, I rejoice with the joy of harvest.
This is a joy which we may join; for, in the harvest, anybody who likes may rejoice. There is the proprietor of the field; he rejoices. How greatly Christ rejoices! There are labourers; they may shout as they bring home the loads; they know what that field of wheat has cost. Let us, who are working for Jesus here, have to joy of harvest. The on-lookers, too, as they go by, see the harvest gathered in, will stop, and even give a shout over the hedge. If you are not yourself saved, you might be glad that other people are. Even if you are not yourself going to heaven, rejoice that others are choosing the blessed road. I invite even you to come, and share with us the joy of harvest. The gleaner, Ruth, over yonder says, "I have stooped many times. I have almost broken my back over the work; and I have only picked up this little handful." I know you, sister; and I am pleased that you should bring even one to Christ. I know you, my brother; and I rejoice with you that you should bring even one child to the Saviour. Though you be but a gleaner, join heartily with us to-night in the joy of the harvest.
Then something happens in our harvest that cannot happen in the common harvest; for the harvested ones rejoice, Sheaves cannot sing, ears of wheat cannot lift up their voices; but in our harvest the happiest of all are those who are called by divine grace. And, while they are happy, and we are happy, and all are happy, the angels hovering over the assembly to-night will mark this the first Sabbath in July, and it shall be a red-letter day even to them, so many shall to-night, for the first time, come to the table of their Lord, and here confess his name.
I have a great deal more to say, but our time is nearly gone. I can only say that this is a joy which has its moderating tone. "Why!" say you, "what is that?" The farmer says, "I have got that load in very well; but I wonder how it will thresh out." I often think of you who are added to the church, and I think that you are first-rate people, and that I never saw better; but I wonder how you will turn out when you get inside the church. There are members of the church whom I never hear of as doing anything for Christ; they may be working away quietly, but I am afraid that some are not. I know that there are some in this church who are no better than they should be; indeed, that is true of us all; but there are some who are not what they ought to be, as to practical service for Christ. We get many passengers to ride in the coach, but not so many to pull it; plenty of people to eat the fruit, but not so many to plant fresh trees. Yet I say not even this very heavily, or with any great emphasis, for the bulk of the members of this church are earnestly engaged in the service of God, for which I bless his name. Still that is the question concerning the harvest, "How will it thresh out?"
There is another question: How much of it will be found to be real wheat in the last great day? Ah, we may judge our very best, and examine very carefully; but there always will be the goats in the sheep, and the tares with the wheat; and that is the dash of bitterness in our cup of rejoicing. God grant that we may not have many added to us who will deteriorate instead of growing better! How will they stand at the last great day? "Well," says one, "I am glad that you make that remark; I have always been opposed to revivals, because they bring in so many, and many of the converts fall away." Dear friends, do you remember Mr. Fullerton's answer to that? I thought it was as good and as complete as it was humorous. He said that when persons say that they do not like revivals because certain of the converts afterwards turn back, and they are like his countryman, who picked up a sovereign; but when he went with it to the bank, it turned out to be a light sovereign, and he only got eighteen shillings for it. Mark you, he found it, so the eighteen shillings were clear gain. Some time after, he saw another sovereign lying in the road, and he would not pick it up; "for," he said, "I lost two shillings by the one I picked up the other day; I shall not take you up; very likely I should only get eighteen shillings for you." So he passed on, and left it where it was. I cannot imagine an Irishman being so unwise; certainly, no Scotchman would have been; and I think no Englishman. However, that is the style of unwisdom of a man who says that at a revival, so many come in, and then so many turn out to be bad. Well, but those who remain are a clear gain, and you ought to desire to have a like gain again and again; you will get rich through such losses, if God will continue to give them to you. However, I hope that I shall not have any light sovereigns to-night. Yet, if these converts so not turn out to be twenty shillings in the pound, but only eighteen shillings, I will be greatly rejoiced to have the eighteen shillings, and God shall have all the glory.
I think that I will here pause, though there is another division of my discourse; and, in closing, I will ask four questions.
First, What say we of those who never sow? Well, they will never reap; they will never have the joy of harvest. Am I addressing, in this great assembly, any professing Christians who never sow, never speak a word for Christ, never call at a house, and try to introduce the Saviour's name, never seek to bring children to the Saviour, take no part in the Sunday-school, or any other service for Christ? Do I address some lazy man here, spiritually alive only for himself? Oh, poor soul, I would not like to be you, because I doubt whether you can be spiritually alive at all! Surely, he who lives for himself is dead while he lives; and you will never know the joy of bringing souls to Christ; and when you get to heaven, if you ever do get there, you will never be able to say, "Here am I, Father, and the children thou hast given me." Thou wilt have to abide eternally alone, having brought no fruit unto God in the form of converts from sin. Shake yourselves up, brothers and sisters, from sinful sloth. "Oh!" says one, "I am not my brother's keeper." No, I will tell you your name; it is Cain. You are your brother's murderer; for every professing Christian, who is not his brother's keeper, is his brother's killer; and be you sure that it is so; for you may kill by neglect quite as surely as you may kill by the bow or by the dagger.
Next, What say we to those who have never reaped? Well, that depends. Perhaps you have only just begun to sow. Do not expect to reap before God's time. "In due season ye shall reap if ye faint not." There is a set season for reaping. But, if you have been a very long time sowing, and you have never reaped, may I ask the question, Where do you buy your seed? If I were to sow my garden year by year, and nothing ever came up, I should change my seeds-man. Perhaps that you have bad seed, my dear friend, and have not sown the gospel pure and undiluted. You have not brought it out in all its fulness. Go to the Word of God, and get "seed for the sower" of a kind that will feed your own soul, for it is "bread for the eater"; when you sow that kind of seed, it will come up.
Next, What shall I say to those who know the Lord, but have never confessed him. What shall I say to you? Well, I do not think that I will say what I think; but I think very seriously about persons who have been converted, and yet never tell the man who was the means of saving them that it has happened. "Well," says one, "I do not think that I shall confess Christ; the dying thief did not confess him, did he? He was not baptized." No, but he was a dying thief, recollect; and if you are not baptized, I think that you will be a living thief, for you will rob God of his glory, and you will rob his servant also of the comfort which he ought to receive. Our wages are to hear that souls are saved; and, if we do not hear of it, we are robbed of our wages. You muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn, if you allow a man to toil and labour, and you get good from his services, and you give him no return by way of encouragement. Come out, you who have hitherto hidden away like cowards! Men or women, if you love Christ, and have never confessed him, come out straight away, and be not ashamed to say, "I am a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb." May the great Captain of our salvation force you to do this right speedily!
Once more, What say we to those who do confess Christ, and who are going to confess him to-night? Well, we say this: "Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without?" Beloved, when you do come in, keep your garments unspotted from the world. Come in with a true heart, and a reverent spirit, with this prayer upon your lips, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." May none of you who are to-night gathered into the barn turn out to be mere weeds dried in the sun! The Lord save you, and keep you; and may you remember that the vows of the Lord are upon you; and may you never, in any way, dishonour that great name by which you are henceforth to be named!
God bless every one of this great mass of people! "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," for "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." God save all of us from that fearful doom, for Christ's sake! Amen.
Isaiah 49:13-26 .
Verse 13. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
When God blesses his Church, he blesses the world through her. Hence, heaven and earth are invited to be glad in the gladness of the Church of God. Oh, that God would visit his church; nay, he has already done so, and I feel inclined to cry out, as the text does, "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth: and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people."
14. But Zion said, the LORD hath forsaken me, and my LORD hath forgotten me.
We often judge contrary to the truth; and when God is blessing us, we dream that he has forgotten us. Oh, wicked unbelief; cruel unbelief! It robs God of glory; it robs us of comfort. It snatches the song out of our mouth, and fills our soul with groaning: "Zion said, the LORD hath forsaken me, and my LORD hath forgotten me."
15, Can a woman forget the sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb. Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee.
The child is in a condition in which it reminds the mother of itself; her sucking child, her own child. Can she forget it? It is not according to nature,
" 'Yet,' saith the Lord, 'should nature change,
And mothers monsters prove,
Sion still dwells upon the heart
Of everlasting love.' "
What is true of God's Church as a whole, is true of every member of it. If any of you think that God has passed over you, one of his believing children, you think what is untrue. He cannot do it. It would be contrary to his nature. As long as he is God, he must remember his people.
16, Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;
How appropriately Christ can say this when he looks on the nail-prints, "I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands"! As I said, this morning, Jesus can give nothing, he can take nothing, he can do nothing, he can hold nothing, without remembering his people: "I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." How I love that verse of Toplady's hymn that speaks of this blessed truth!
"My name from the palms of his hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impress'd on his heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace:
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven."
16, 17. Thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste;
There shall be many of them. Converts shall be added to the church in great numbers. They shall hurry up; they shall not be long in coming. Very often they delay too long. The promise is, "Thy children shall make haste."
17. Thy destroyers and they that make thee waste shall go forth of thee.
I wish this were carried out. If it were, many of the churches of Christ, which are plagued with false doctrines and worldly habits, which are laying them waste, would be delivered from those curses. The enemies outside the walls, however malicious they are, will never be so mischievous as the traitors inside the fortress. Save Troy from the wooden horse, and save Zion from the traitors in her midst, that seek to do her harm.
18. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold; all these gather themselves together, and come to thee.
There is a great company coming. The church is going to be increased. Have faith in God. We are not going to receive them now by ones and twos; we thank God we receive them by tens and scores. They are coming by hundreds and by thousands; let us expect them. By faith, let us see them even now coming.*
18. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
What an ornament to a church her converts are! These are our jewels. We care nothing for gorgeous architecture or grand music in the worship of God. Our true building is composed of our converts; our best music is their confession of faith. May God give us more of it!
19-21. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
Sometimes a church is brought very low; there are no additions, there is no unity, everything is breaking up, and going to pieces. When God visits that church, what a change is seen! Then people come flocking to it, and the church wonders whence the converts came. May the Lord make us wonder in that fashion! It will take a great deal to astonish us, after all these years of mercy; yet the Lord can do it. It may be he will make these latter days to be better than the former. Though we have had nearly forty years of blessing together, he may yet increase it, and give us to rejoice yet more and more.
22. Thus saith the LORD GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
We do not mind how they are brought if they do but come; some in the arms, and some after the Oriental method of putting the child on the shoulder. When God lifts up his hand, great wonders of mercy and grace are wrought.
24. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers:
It will take a long time before they learn that art, for kings and queens have generally been destroyers of the Church of Christ. Those will be grand days when kings shall be the nourishers of the Church, and queens her nursing mothers.
23. They shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet:
I have heard the first part of this verse quoted as an argument for the union of Church and State: "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers." I have not the slightest objection, if they will bow down to the Church "with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of her feet." What is proposed to us is that the Church should bow down to the State, with her face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of the feet of the state, by becoming obedient to rules and regulations made by princes and parliaments. This is not according to the mind of God, nor according to the heart of his people.
23. And thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
If we wait for Christ, for his coming, for the help which he brings, for the salvation that is wrought by him, we shall not be ashamed.
24-26. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
The mighty may hold their prey with a strong hand; but there is a stronger hand that will deliver the captive. It is Jehovah, the Saviour, the Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob, who says, "I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children." Here is a divine promise for every parent to plead: "I will save thy children." May the Lord give you grace to claim that promise, even now, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK" 423, 1,004.
*It is remarkable that this sermon and exposition, which were selected long ago for publication this month, should be issued just as the Tabernacle church is again having a large ingathering of converts. Those who have read the sermons regularly, have been struck with the singular appropriateness of several of them, either to the condition of the Tabernacle church, or the general state of the churches of our land. A notable instance of this fact is described in the "Personal Notes" of the Sword and the Trowel for July. Many can see the overruling hand of the Lord even in the order in which the sermons have been published.
A Christmas Question
His Name--The Everlasting Father
His Name--Mighty God
A Christmas Question
by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"To us a child is born, to us a Son is given." Isaiah 9:6
Upon other occasions I have explained the main part of this verse--"the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." But this morning the portion which we will focus our attention on is this, "To us a child is born, to us a Son is given." This is a double sentence, but it has no redundancy. The careful reader will soon discover a distinction; and it is not a distinction without a difference. "To us a child is born, to us a Son is given." Jesus Christ was a child in His human nature--He was born, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. He was truly born, and was certainly a real child, as real as any other child that has ever lived on the face of the earth. Thus, in His humanity He was born a child. But as God's Son, Jesus Christ was never born, for He has eternally existed, He is simply a gift of the Father, given before the beginning of the world, given--not made, being of the same essence as the Father.
The doctrine of the eternal union of Christ in the Trinity must be received as an undoubted truth of our holy Christianity. No one should even try to explain it, for it remains among the deep things of God--one of those solemn mysteries into which the angels dare not look, nor do they desire to pry into it--a mystery which we must not attempt to fathom, for it is utterly beyond the grasp of any finite being. It would be like a gnat trying to drink the ocean, as a finite creature trying to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could fully understand would be no God. If we could grasp Him then He could not be infinite: if we could understand Him, then He would not be divine. Jesus Christ then, is not born to us, but given to us. He is a blessing bestowed on us, "God so loved the world that He 'gave' His one and only 'Son,'" to the world. He was not born into this world as God's Son, but He was "sent," or was given, so that we could clearly perceive the distinction--"To us a child is born, to us a Son is given."
This morning, however, the principal object of my discourse, and indeed, the sole purpose, is to bring out the force of those two little words, "to us." For you will perceive that here the full force of the passage lies. "To us a child is born, to us a Son is given." The divisions of my sermon are very simple ones:
I. "Is it true?"
II. "If it is true, what then?"
III "If it is not true, what then?"
I. "Is it true?"
Is it true that "to us" a child is born, "to us" a Son is given? It is a fact that a child is born. Upon that I have no argument. We receive it as a fact, more fully established than any other fact in history, that the Son of God became man, was born in Bethlehem, wrapped in cloths, and laid in a manger. It is also a fact, that a Son is given. About that we have no question. The atheist may dispute, but we, professing to be believers in the Scripture, receive it as an undeniable truth, that God has given His one and only Son to be the Savior of men. But the question is this. Is this child born to us? Is He given to us? This is the most important question.
Have we a personal interest in the child that was born at Bethlehem? Do we know that He is our Savior? That He has brought good news to us? That He belongs to us? And that we belong to Him? I declare that this is a matter that requires very serious and intense investigation. It is a very obvious fact, that the very best of Christians are sometimes troubled with questions with regard to their own relationship with Christ, while those who are never troubled at all about the matter are very often simply arrogant deceivers, who have never known Christ nor His salvation. I have often observed that some of the people about whom I felt the most sure of their salvation, were the very persons who were the least sure themselves.
It reminds me of the story of a godly man named Simon Brown, a minister in the olden days in the City of London. He became extremely sad in his heart, so depressed in his spirit, that at last he conceived the idea that his soul was destroyed. It was all in vain to talk to the good man, you could not persuade him that he had a soul; but all the while he was preaching, and praying, and working, more like a man that had two souls than none. When he preached, his eyes poured forth floods of tears, and when he prayed, there was a divine fervor and heavenly power in every petition. Now it is the same with many Christians. They seem to be the very picture of godliness; their life is praiseworthy, and their conversation heavenly, yet they are always crying--
"This is a point I long to know, Often it causes anxious thought, Do I love the Lord or no? Am I His or am I not?"
So it does happen, that the best of men will question while the worst of men will presume. Yes, I have seen persons about whose eternal destiny I had serious doubts, whose inconsistencies in life were evident and glaring, yet who talked with assurance of their infallible hope in Christ, as though they believed others were as easily duped as they were. Now, what reason will we give for such foolishness? Learn it from this illustration: You see a number of men riding horses along a narrow road, on the very edge of cliffs overlooking the sea. It is a very dangerous path, for the way is rugged and a tremendous cliff borders the road on the left. But just let the horse's foot slip once and they drop downwards to their death. Notice how cautiously the riders travel, how carefully the horses place their feet. But do you notice in the distance another rider, and at what speed he races along at, as if he were riding in race with Satan? You hold up your hand in an agony of fear, trembling for at any moment his horse's foot may slip, and he would plunge down the side of the cliff; and you say, why is he such a careless rider?
The answer is simple--the man is a blind rider on a blind horse. They cannot see where they are. He thinks he is on a safe road, and therefore that is why he rides so fast. Or to vary the picture; sometimes when persons are asleep, they begin "sleep-walking," and they will climb where others would not think of venturing. Dizzy heights that would cause us to faint seem safe enough to them. In the same way, there are many spiritual sleep-walkers in our midst, who think that they are awake, but they are not. Their very presumption in venturing to the high places with self- confidence, proves that they are not awake but men who walk and talk in their sleep. It is, then really a serious matter to carefully answer the question whether this child is really born to us, and this Son really given to us?
I will now help you to answer the question.
1. If this child who now lies before the eyes of your faith, wrapped in cloths in Bethlehem's manger, is born "to you," then "you are born again!" For this child is not born to you unless you are born to this child. All who belong to Christ are, in the day of God's favor--the day of His salvation--converted by grace, aroused in their spirit, and made new creatures. All the redeemed [elect] are not yet converted, but they will be. Before the hour of death arrives their nature will be changed, their sins washed away, and they will pass from death to life. If any man tells me that Christ is his redeemer, although he has never experienced regeneration, that man does not know what he is talking about; his Christianity is useless, and his hope a delusion. Only those who are born again can claim the baby in Bethlehem as being theirs.
"But," one says, "how do I know whether I am born again or not?" The answer to this question is a series of questions:
-- Has there been a change in your life by the divine grace "within you?"
-- Are the things that you love in life the very opposite of what they were? -- Do you now hate the vain things you once admired, and do you seek after that precious pearl which once you despised?
-- Is your heart thoroughly changed within?
-- Can you say that the bent of your desire is changed?
-- Is your face heavenward, and your feet set upon the path of grace?
-- Does your heart that once longed for deep dosages of sin, now long to be holy?
-- Have the pleasures of the world, that you once loved, become as debris and waste to you?
-- Do you only love the pleasures of heavenly things and are you longing to enjoy more of them on earth, that you may be prepared to enjoy the fullness of them in heaven?
-- Are you renewed within?
Mark this, my hearers, the new birth does not consist in washing the outside of the cup, but in cleansing the inner man. It is all in vain to wash the outside of a sepulcher [vault, mausoleum], to make it pure white, and garnish it with fresh flowers; the sepulcher itself must be cleansed. The dead man's bones that lie within that vault of the human heart must be cleansed away. No, they must be made alive. The heart must no longer be a tomb of death, but a temple of life. Is it so with you, my friend? For remember, you may be very different on the outside, but if you are not changed on the inside, this child is not born to you.
But I state another question. Although the main matter of regeneration lies within, yet it manifests itself on the outside. I say, then, has there been a change in you on the exterior? Do you think that others who look at you would be compelled to say, this person is not what he used to be? Do you friends see a change in you? Have they laughed at you for what they think is your fanaticism, your strictness, and your firmness? Do you think that if an angel should follow you into your secret life, into your place of seclusion and see you on your knees, that he would detect something in you which he could never have seen before? For, mark this, my dear friend, there must be a change in the outward life, or else there is no change within.
The proof of the Christian is in the living. To other men, the proof of our conversion is not what we feel, but what we do. To you your feelings may be good enough evidence, but to the minister and others who judge you, the outward walk is the main proof. At the same time, let me observe that a man's outward life may be very much like that of a Christian, and yet there may be no Christianity in him at all. Have you ever seen two jugglers in the street with swords pretending to fight with one another. See how they cut, and slash, and hack at one another, till you are half afraid there will soon be a murder executed. They seem to be so serious and real in their actions that you are about ready to call the police to the scene. See with what fury that one has aimed a terrific blow at the other one's head, which his comrade expertly warded off by keeping a well- timed guard. Just watch them a minute, and you will see that all these cuts and thrusts come in a prearranged order. There is no heart in the fighting after all. They do not fight so roughly as they would if they were real enemies.
In the same way, I have seen a man pretending to be very angry at sin. But watch him a little while, and you will see it is only a fencer's trick. He does not give his cuts out of order, there is no earnestness in his blows; it is all pretense, it is only a mimic stage-play. The fencers, after they have ended their performance, shake hands with one another, and divide the money which the gapping throng have given them: and this man does the same thing, he shakes his hands with the devil in private, and the two deceivers share the plunder. The hypocrite and the devil are very good friends after all, and they mutually rejoice over their profits: the devil leering because he has won the soul of the one who professed to be a Christian, and the hypocrite laughs because he has made his gain. Be careful then, that your outward life is not a mere stage-play, but that your hatred of sin is real and intense; and that you strike right and left, as though you meant to kill the monster, and toss its limbs to the winds of heaven.
I will just ask one more question. If you have been born again, there is another way to test your salvation. Not only is your inward self altered, and your outward self too, but the very root and principle of your life must become totally new. When we are in sin we live to please ourselves, but when we are made new through Christ we live to please God. While we are unregenerate, our principle is to seek our own pleasure, our own advancement; but that man is not truly born again who does not live with a far different aim from this. Change a man's principles, and you will change his feelings, and you will change his actions. Now, grace changes the principles of a man. It lays the ax at the root of the tree. It does not saw away at some big limb, it does not try to change the sap; but it gives it a new root, and plants us in fresh soil. The man's inmost self, the deep rocks of his principles on which the topsoil of his actions rest, the soul of his manhood [or her womanhood] is thoroughly changed, and he is a new creature in Christ.
"But," someone says, "I see no reason why I must be born again." Oh, poor creature, it is because you have never really seen yourself. Did you ever see a man in the mirror of the Word of God--what a strange monster he is. Do you know, a man by nature has his heart where his feet ought to be--that is to say, his heart is set on the earth, and stranger mystery still, his heels are where his heart should be--that is to say, he is kicking against the God of heaven when he ought to be setting his affections on things above. Man by nature when he sees clearest, only looks down, can only see what is beneath him, he cannot see the things which are above; and strange to say the sunlight of heaven blinds him; he does not look for light from heaven. The earth is to him his heaven, and he sees suns in its muddy pools and stars in its filth. He is, in fact, a man turned upside down. The fall has so ruined our nature, that the most monstrous thing on the face of the earth is a fallen man. The peoples of long ago used to paint monsters, dragons, ghosts, and all kinds of hideous things; but if a skillful hand could paint man accurately, none of us would look at the picture, for it is a sight that none ever saw except the lost in hell; and that is one part of their intolerable pain, that they are compelled always to look at themselves. Now, don't you see that you must be born again, and unless you are, this child is not born "to you."
2. But I go forward. If this child is born to you, you are a "child," and the question arises, are you one? Man grows from childhood up to manhood naturally; in grace men grow from manhood down to childhood; and the nearer we come to true childhood, the nearer we come to the image of Christ. Brothers and sisters, can you say that you have been made into children? Do you take God's Word just as it stands, simply because your heavenly Father says so? Are you content to believe mysteries without demanding to have them explained? Are you ready to sit in the infant class, and be a little one? Are you willing to hang upon the breast of the church, and suck in the unadulterated milk of the Word--never questioning for a moment what your divine Lord reveals, but believing it on His own authority, whether it seemed to be above reason, or beneath reason, or even contrary to reason?
Now, "unless you change and become like little children," this child is not born to you; unless you are humble like a little child, teachable, obedient, pleased with your Father's will and willing to devote everything to Him, there is serious doubt whether this child is born "to you." But what a pleasing sight it is to see a man converted and made into a little child. Many times my heart has leaped for joy, when I have seen a giant agnostic who used to reason against Christ, who used to speak the most evil words against Christ's people, then come by divine grace to believe the gospel. That man sits down and weeps, feels the full power of salvation, and from that time forward drops all his questionings, and becomes the very opposite of what he was. He thinks of himself as the lowest of the lowest believer. He is content to do the lowliest work for the church of Christ, and takes his place--not with the great godly men, as a mighty Christian thinker--but with Mary as a simple learner, sitting at Jesus' feet, to hear and learn of Him. If you are not children, then this child is not born to you.
3. And now let us take the second sentence and ask a question or two. Is this Son given to us? I pause a minute to beg your personal attention. I am trying, if I may, so to preach that I may make you all question yourselves. I pray that you none of you exempt yourselves from the ordeal, but let each one ask himself, is it true that "to me a Son is given?" Now, if this Son is given "to you, you are a son yourself." "To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." "Christ became a Son so that in all things He might be made like His brethren." The Son of God is not mine to enjoy, to love, to delight in, unless I am a son of God too. Now, my friend, do you have a "fear" of God--a respectful fear, a fear which a child has or else it would grieve its parent? Do you have a child's "love" of God? Do you "trust" Him as your father, your provider, and your friend? Do you have in your heart "The Spirit of sonship. And by Him do you cry, Abba, Father?" Are there times when you are on your knees that you can say, "My Father and my God." Does the Spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are born of God? And while this witness is being confirmed in your heart, does you heart fly up to your Father and to your God, in ecstasy of delight to embrace Him who long ago has embraced you in the covenant of His love, in the arms of His wonderful grace? Now, listen, if you do not sometimes enjoy the spirit of sonship, if you are not a son or daughter of God, then don't deceive yourself, the Son is not given to you.
4. And, then, to put it another way, if to us a Son is given, then "we are given to the Son." Now what do you have to say to this question? Are you given completely given to Christ? Do you feel that you have nothing on earth to live for except to glorify Him? Can you say in your heart, "Great God in heaven, if I am not deceived then I am wholly Yours." Are you ready today to renew your vow of commitment to Christ? Can you say, "Take me! All that I am and all that I have, will be forever yours. I give up all my possessions, all my powers, all my time, and all my hours; and I will be Yours--absolutely and unconditionally Yours." "You are not your own; you were bought at a price." And if this Son of God is given to you, you will have consecrated yourself wholly to Him; and you will feel that His honor is your life's goal, that His glory is the one great desire of your panting spirit. Now is it true, my friend? I pray that you would ask yourself the question, and do not deceive yourself with the answer. I will repeat the four different proofs again:
-- If to me a child is born, then I have been born again.
-- As a result of my new birth I am now a child.
-- If a Son has been given to me, then I am a son.
-- I am given to that Son who is given to me.
I have tried to put these tests in the way that the text would suggest them. I pray that you carry them home with you. If you do not remember the words, yet please remember to examine your heart, and see whether you can say, "To me a Son is given." For indeed, if Christ is not my Christ, He is of little worth to me. If I cannot say He loved me and gave Himself "for me," then what use is the value of His righteousness, or all the fullness of His atonement [redemption] on the Cross? To have food at the store does me no good if I am hungry and can't get it, I will starve although the stores are full of food. It is good that the rivers are overflowing with clear water, but if I am in a desert and can't reach the stream, if I can hear it in the distance and are lying down dying of thirst, the rippling of the brook only helps to tantalize me while I die in dark despair.
It would be better for your, my hearers, to have perished as pagans, to have gone to your graves in some far off godless land, than to live where the name of Christ is continuously sung in the churches, and where His glory is exalted, and yet to go down to your tombs without any interest in Him, unblessed by His gospel, unwashed by His blood, unclothed with His robe of righteousness. God help you, that you may be blessed in Him, and may sing sweetly, "To us a child is born, to us a Son is given."
II. "If it is true, what then?"
This brings me to my second principal, upon which I will be brief. Is it true? If it is true, what then? If it is true, why am I doubtful today? Why is my spirit questioning? Why don't I realize the fact? My friend, if the Son is given to you, how is it that you are today asking whether you are Christ's or not? Why do you labor to make your calling and election sure? Why do you remain in the plains of doubt? Get up, get up to the high mountains of confidence, and never rest till you can say without a fear that you are mistaken, "I know that my Redeemer lives. I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him." I may have a large number of persons here today that are uncertain as to whether Christ is theirs or not. Oh my dear hearers, do not rest unless you know positively that Christ is yours, and that you are Christ's.
Suppose you should see in tomorrow's (Christmas day) newspaper a notice that some rich man had left you an immense estate. Suppose, as you read it, you were well aware that the person mentioned was a relative of yours, and that it likely was true. It may be you have planned for Christmas day to be a family gathering, and you are expecting your brother John and his wife Mary and their little ones to dine with you. But I would guess that you would rather miss the Christmas dinner in order to go and determine whether the fact were really true. "Oh," you would say to John and Mary, "I am sure that I would enjoy my Christmas dinner better if I were quite sure about this matter of the inheritance;" and all day, if you did not go, you would be on pins and needles until you knew whether it was a true fact or not.
Now there is a announcement made today, and it is absolutely true, that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners. The question for you is whether He has saved you, and whether you are entitled to share in His offer of salvation. I beg you, not to allow yourself to rest until you have read the proclamation of salvation to see if you have been given clear title to a permanent home in heaven. Will you allow your eternal destiny to be a matter of uncertainty to you? Is heaven or hell involved in this matter, and will you rest until you know which of these will be your everlasting destiny? Are you content while there is a question whether God loves you, or whether He is angry with you? Can you be at ease while you remain in doubt as to whether you are condemned to sin, or justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus?
Get up, I beg you by the living God, and for your own soul's safety, get up and read the records. Search and look, and try and test yourself, to see whether it is true or not. For if it is true, why wouldn't we know it? If the Son is given to me, why wouldn't I be sure of it? If the child is born to me, why wouldn't I know it for certain, that I may even now live in the enjoyment of my privilege--the value of which I will never know completely, until I arrive in glory?
Again, if it is true, let me ask another question. "Why are we sad?" I am looking on faces right now that appear to be full of smiles, but perhaps the smile covers an aching heart. Brother and sister, why are we sad this morning, if to us a child is born, if to us a Son is given? Listen, listen to the cry! It is, "It is harvest time! It is harvest time!" See the young maidens dance, and the young men rejoicing. And why all this celebration? Because they are storing up the precious harvest of the earth, they are gathering into their barns wheat which will soon be consumed. And what about us, brothers and sisters, we have the bread which gives us eternal life and are we still unhappy? Doesn't the world rejoice when it has harvested its corn, then why don't we rejoice when, "To us a child is born, and to us a Son is given?"
Listen, to the distant sounds. Why all this ringing of the bells in the church steeples? There is a prince born; therefore there is this salute, and therefore the bells are ringing. Yes, Christians, ring the bells of your hearts, fire the salute of your most joyous songs, "To us a child is born, to us a Son is given." Dance, O my heart, and ring out peals of gladness! You drops of blood within my veins, dance every one of you! Oh! All my nerves become harp strings, and let gratitude touch you with angelic fingers! And you, my tongue, shout--shout to His praise, who has said to you--"To us a child is born, to you a Son is given." Wipe that tear away! Come, stop that sighing! Hush your murmuring. What does it matter that you are poor? "To you a child is born." What does it matter that you are sick? "To you a Son is given." What does it matter that you are a sinner? For this child will take the sin away, and this Son will wash and make you fit for heaven. I say, it is true,
"Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, Rejoice aloud! You saints rejoice!"
But, once more, if it is true, what then? "Why are our hearts so cold?" And why is it that we do so little for Him who has done so much for us? Jesus, are You mine? Am I saved? How is it that I love you so little? Why is it that when I preach I am not more passionate, and when I pray why am I not more fervent? How is it that we give so little to Christ who gave Himself for us? How is it that we serve Him in such a mediocre way, when He serves us so perfectly? He consecrated Himself wholly; why is it that our consecration is imperfect and incomplete? We are continually honoring ourselves and not Him?
O beloved brethren, yield yourselves up this morning. What have you got in this world? "Oh," says one, "I have nothing; I am poor and penniless." Give yourself to Christ. You have heard the story of the pupils of a Greek philosopher. On a certain day it was the custom to give to the philosopher a present. One came and gave him gold. Another could not bring him gold but brought him silver. One brought him a robe, and another some delicacy of food. But one of them came up, and said, "Oh, sir, I am poor, I have nothing to give to you, but yet I will give you something better than all these have given; I give you myself." Now, if you have gold and silver, if you have plenty of the world's wealth, then give to Christ in proportion as you have received; but take care, above all, that you give yourself to Him, and let your cry be from this day forth,
"Do I not love you dearest Lord? Oh search my heart and see, And turn each cursed idol out That dares to rival Thee."
III. "If it is not true, what then?"
Well, now I am almost done, but please give me your solemn, very solemn attention, while I make my last point--If Christ is not yours, what then? Dear hearer, I cannot tell where you are--but wherever you may be in this building, the eyes of my heart are looking for you, that when they have seen you, they may weep over you--miserable wretch, without a hope, without Christ, without God. To you there is no Christmas joy; for you no child is born; to you no Son is given. It is a sad story of the poor men and women, who the week before last, fell down dead in our streets because of the cruel hunger and bitter cold. But far more tragic is your fate, far more terrible will be your condition in the day when you will cry for a drop of water to cool your burning tongue, and it will be denied you; when you will seek for death, for the cold grim death--seek for him as for a friend, and yet you will not find him. For the fire of hell will not consume you, nor its terrors devour you. You will long to die, yet you will linger in eternal death--dying every hour, yet never receiving the much coveted release from your suffering.
What will I say to you this morning? Oh! Master, help me to speak the right words for this occasion. I beg you my friends, if Christ is not yours this morning, may God the Spirit help you to do what I now command you to do. First of all, confess you sins; not in my ear, nor into the ear of any living man. Go to your bedroom and confess that you are a vile person. Tell Jesus you are a condemned sinner without His sovereign grace. But don't think there is any merit in confession. There is none. All your confessions can't earn forgiveness, though God has promised to forgive the person who confesses his sin and abandons it [turns away from it].
Imagine that some creditor had a debtor who owed him five hundred thousand dollars. He calls on him and says, "I demand my money." But the debtor says, "I owe you nothing." That man will be arrested and thrown into prison. However, his creditor says, "I wish to be merciful to you; make a frank confession, and I will forgive you all the debt." "Well," says the man, "I do acknowledge that I owe you two hundred dollars." "No," he says, "that will not do." "Well, sir, I confess I owe you two hundred thousand dollars;" and by degrees he comes to confess that he owes the five hundred thousand. Is there any merit in that confession? No; but yet you could see that no creditor would think of forgiving a debt which was not acknowledged.
It is the least that you can do, to acknowledge your sin; and though there is no merit in the confession, yet true to His promise, God will give you forgiveness through Christ. That is one piece of advice. I pray that you take it. Do not throw it to the winds; do not leave it as soon as you leave this place. Take it with you, and may this day become a confession- day to many of you. But next, when you have made a confession, I beg that you renounce yourself. Perhaps you have been resting in some hope, that you would make yourself better, and so save yourself. Give up that mistaken fantasy. You have seen the silkworm: it will spin, and spin, and spin, and then it will die where it has spun itself a shroud. And all your good works are but a spinning for yourself a robe for your dead soul. You can do nothing by your finest prayers, your finest tears, or your finest works, to merit eternal life.
The Christian who is truly converted to God, will tell you that he cannot live a holy life by himself. If the ship in the sea can't steer itself, do you think the wood in the carpenter's shop can put itself together, and make itself into a ship, and then go out to sea and sail across the ocean? Yet this is just what you imagine. The Christian who is God's workmanship can do nothing, and yet you think that you can do something. Now, give up "self." God help you to strike a black mark through every idea of what you can do.
Lastly, then, I pray God help you hear, my dear friends, when you have confessed your sin and given up all hope of salvation, go to the place where Jesus died in agony. Go then in meditation to Calvary. There He hangs. It is the middle cross of the three. I think that I see Him now. I see His poor face gaunt, and His face more marred than that of any other man. I see the drops of blood still standing around His pierced temples--marks of that rugged crown of thorns. Yes, I see His naked body--naked to His shame. We can count all of His bones. See His hands ripped open with the rough iron, and His feet torn with the nails. The nails have ripped through His flesh. There is now not only the holes through which the nails were driven, but the weight of His body has fallen on his feet, and see the iron is tearing through His flesh. And now the weight of His body hangs on His arms, and the nails there are severing through the tender nerves.
Listen! The earth is startled! He cries out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Oh, sinner, was the ever a shriek like that before? God had forsaken Him. His God had ceased to be gracious to Him. His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. But listen, again He cries, "I am thirsty." Give Him water! Give Him water! You holy women let Him drink. But no, His murderers torture Him. They thrust into His mouth the vinegar mixed with gall--the bitter with the sharp, the vinegar and the gall. At last, hear Him, sinner, for here is your hope. I see Him bow His injured head that drips with blood. The King of heaven dies. The God who made the earth has become a man, and the man is about to die. Listen to Him! He cries, "It is finished!" And He gives up His spirit. The atonement is finished, the price is paid, the bloody ransom acknowledged, the sacrifice is accepted. "It is finished!"
Sinner, believe in Christ. Throw yourself at His feet. Take Him to be your all in all--submit your will to His--He is your King! Throw your trembling arms around that bleeding body. Now sit at the foot of that cross, and feel the dropping of the precious blood. And as each one of you go out of this place today, say in your hearts,
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On Christ's kind arms I fall, He is my strength and righteousness, My Jesus, and my all."
God grant you grace to do so for Jesus Christ's sake. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all, for ever and ever. Amen and Amen.
His Name--The Everlasting Father
December 9th, 1866 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
“The everlasting Father.”- Isaiah 9:6
How complex is the person of our Lord Jesus Christ! Almost in the same breath the prophet calls him a “child,” and a “counselor,” a “son,” and “the everlasting Father.” This is no contradiction, and to us scarcely a paradox, but it is a mighty marvel that he who was an infant should at the same time be infinite, he who was the Man of Sorrows should also be God over all, blessed for ever; and that he who is in the Divine Trinity always called the Son, should nevertheless be correctly called “the everlasting Father.” How forcibly this should remind us of the necessity of carefully studying and rightly under standing the person of our Lord Jesus Christ! We must not suppose that we shall understand him at a glance. A look will save the soul, but patient meditation alone can fill the mind with the knowledge of the Savior. Glorious mysteries are hidden in his person. He speaks to us in plainest language, and he manifests himself openly in our midst, but yet in his person itself there is a height and depth which human intellect fails to measure. When he has looked long and steadily the devout observer perceives in his Well- beloved beauties so rare and ravishing that he is lost in wonder; continued contemplation conducts the soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, into an elevation of delighted admiration which the less thoughtful know nothing of. So deep is the mystery of the person of our Lord that he must reveal himself to us or we shall never know him. He is not discovered by research nor discerned by reason. “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas,” said Christ to Peter, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee.” “When it pleased God,” says the apostle, “to reveal his Son in me.” Another apostle asked the question, “How is it that thou dost manifest thyself unto us?” There is no seeing Jesus except by his own light. He is the door, but no man opens that door but Jesus himself; for “he opens, and no man shuts; he shuts, and no man opens.” He is the lesson, but he is also the schoolmaster. He is both key and lock, answer and riddle, way and guide. He is that which is to be seen, for we are to look unto him; but it is by him that we are enabled to see, for he gives sight to the blind. Let us then, dear friends, if we really desire to understand that most excellent of all sciences, the science of Christ crucified, entreat the Lord himself to be our Rabbi, and beg to be allowed to sit with Mary at the Master’s feet. Be this our prayer, that “we may know him;” and be this our desire, that “we may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;” for “to know him is life eternal,” and to be taught of him is to be “wise unto salvation.”
The title before us is a somewhat difficult one. Some years ago I preached to you from “His Name- Wonderful.” I felt I could expatiate upon that with ease. We advanced as far as “Counselor,” and then we halted a while. After a time we were led to preach upon “The Mighty God;” but we have been somewhat diffident of our ability to open up this particular title, for there is a depth in it which we are not able to fathom. This morning I cannot pretend to dive into the profound depths of the word, but can only skim the surface as the swallow skims the sea. Silver of deep learning and gold of profound thought have I none; but such as I have, give I you. If my basket contains nothing more than a barley loaf and a few small fishes, may the Master of the feast multiply the food in the breaking, that there may be food convenient for his people.
It is necessary at the outset to observe that the Messiah is not here called “Father,” by way of any confusion with him who is pre- eminently called “THE FATHER.” Our Lord’s proper name, so far as Godhead is concerned, is not the Father, but the Son. Let us beware of confusion. The Son is not the Father, neither is the Father the Son; and though they be one God, essentially and eternally, being for evermore one and indivisible, yet still the distinction of persons is to be carefully believed and observed. For the mere word “Persons” we do not contend; it is but a make- shift word, although we know not what better term to use; but the fact is all- important that the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. Our text has no bearing upon the position and titles of the three Persons with regard to each other; it does not indicate the relation of Deity to itself, but the relation of Jesus Christ to us. He is to us “the everlasting Father.”
The light of the text divides itself into three rays:- Jesus is Everlasting” he is a “Father;” he is the “Everlasting Father.”
I. First, Jesus Christ is EVERLASTING . Of him we may sing with David, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” A theme for great rejoicing on our part. Rejoice, believer, in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to- day, and for ever.
Jesus always was. The Babe born in Bethlehem was united to the Word, which was in the beginning, by whom all things were made. The title by which Jesus Christ revealed himself to John in Patmos was, “Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow,” to betoken that he is the Ancient of Days.
“Ere sin was born, or Satan fell, He led the host of morning stars; (Thy generation who can tell, Or count the number of thy years?)”
In his priesthood, Jesus, like unto Melchizedek, “has neither beginning of days nor end of life.” His pedigree is thus declared by Solomon: “When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” Think not that the Son of God ever commenced to be.
“Ere the blue heavens were stretched abroad, From everlasting was the Word; With God he was; the Word was God, And must divinely be adored.”
If he were not God from everlasting, we could not so devoutly love him; we could not feel that he had any share in the eternal love, which is the fountain of all covenant blessings. He must be eternal who has a part in the eternal purpose. Since our Redeemer was from all eternity with the Father, we trace the stream of divine love to himself equally with his Father and the blessed Spirit. We were chosen in him from before the foundation of the world, and thus in our eternal election he shines forth gloriously. We bless and praise, and magnify him that the name “Son” does not at all import any time of birth or generation, or of beginning, but we know that he is as eternally the Son as the Father is eternally the Father, and must be looked upon as God from everlasting. For he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
As our Lord always was, so also he is for ever more the same. Jesus is not dead; he ever lives to make intercession for us. He has not ceased to be; he hath gone out of sight; but he sits at the right hand of the Father. Of him we read, “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remains; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” Jesus is as truly the I AM, as that Jehovah who spoke out of the burning bush to Moses, at Horeb. He lives! He lives! This is the foundation of your comfort, “Because he lives you shall live also.” “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Resort to him in all your times of need, for he is waiting to bless you still. He is made higher than the heavens, but he still receives sinners, and effectually puts away their sins; and since “he ever lives to make intercession for them, he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him.”
Jesus, our Lord, ever shall be. He could not be called everlasting if it were supposable that he must one day cease to exist. No, believer; if God shall spare your life to fulfill your full day of threescore years and ten, you shall find that his cleansing fountain is still opened and his precious blood has not lost its power; you shall find that the Priest who filled the healing fount with his own blood still lives to purge you from all iniquity. When only your last battle remains to be fought, you shall find that the hand of your conquering Captain has not grown feeble, nor his arm waxed short; the living Savior shall cheer the living saint. Nor is this all, for when death has taken you away as with a flood, and all the men of your generation have fallen like grass beneath the mower’s scythe, Jesus shall live, and you, caught up to heaven, shall find him there bearing the dew of his youth; and when the sun’s burning eye shall be dim with age, and the lamps of heaven shall be paled into eternal midnight, when all this world shall melt as melts the winter’s ice at the approach of spring; then shall you find the Lord Jesus still remain the perennial spring of joy, and life, and glory to his people. Living waters may you draw from this sacred well! Jesus always was, he always is, he always shall be. He is eternal in all his attributes, and in all his offices, and in all his might, and power, and willingness to bless, corn fort, guard, and crown his chosen people.
The connection of the word “Father” with the word “everlasting” allows us very fairly to remark that our Lord is as everlasting as the Father, since he himself is called “the everlasting Father;” for whatever antiquity paternity may imply is here ascribed to Christ. According to our common notions, of course, the Father must be before the Son, but we must understand that the terms used in Scripture to represent Deity to us are not intended to be literally understood, and rendered in their exact terrestrial sense; they are only so far descriptive as they may he but do not compass the whole truth, for human language utterly fails to convey the very essence and fullness of celestial things. When God condescends to speak to men, who are but as infants before him, he adopts their childish speech, and brings down his loftiness of thought to the littleness of their capacities. Babes have no words for the thoughts of senators and philosophers, and such matters must be stated in childish language if babes are to know them, and then the statement must inevitably fall far short of the great fact. The relation between the Father and the Son is a case in point; it is not precisely the same as the relation between a father and a son on earth, but that happens to be the nearest approach to it among men. We must beware of stretching and straining the word in its letter, especially in points where it would make us err from the spirit of the truth. Christ Jesus is as eternal as the Father, or he would never have been called “the everlasting Father.”
It is the manner of the Easterns to call a man the father of a quality for which he is remarkable. To this day, among the Arabs, a wise man is called “the father of wisdom;” a very foolish man “the father of folly.” The predominant quality in the man is ascribed to him as though it were his child, and he the father of it. Now, the Messiah is here called in the Hebrew “the Father of eternity,” by which is meant that he is pre- eminently the possessor of eternity as an attribute. Just as the idiom, “the father of wisdom,” implies that a man is pre- eminently wise, so the term, “Father of eternity,” implies that Jesus is preeminently eternal; that to him, beyond and above all others, eternity may be ascribed. No language can more forcibly convey to our minds the eternity of our Lord Jesus. Nay, without straining the language, I may say that not only is eternity ascribed to Christ, but he is here declared to be the parent of it. Imagination cannot grasp this, for eternity is a thing beyond us; yet if eternity should seem to be a thing which can have no parent., be it remembered that Jesus is so surely and essentially eternal, that he is here pictured as the source and Father of eternity. Jesus is not the child of eternity, but the Father of it. Eternity did not bring him forth from its mighty bowels, but he brought forth eternity. Independent, self- sustained, uncreated, eternal existence is with Jesus our Lord and God.
In the highest possible sense, then, Jesus Christ is “the everlasting Father.” I will only pause one minute to draw a practical inference from this doctrine. If our Immanuel be indeed then eternal and ever living, let us never think of him as of one dead, whom we have lost, who has ceased to be. What could be a greater sorrow than the thought of a dead Christ? He lives, and lives to care for us. He lives in all the attributes, which adorned him upon earth, as gentle and kind and gracious now, as he was then. Come to him, Christian, rest upon him now, just as if he were visible in this place, and you could tell into his ear your troubles, and confess your sins at his feet. He is here spiritually; your eyes cannot see him, but faith will be better evidence to you than eyesight. Trust him now with your cares! Rest upon him in your present difficulties! And thou, poor sinner, if Christ were on this plat form wouldst thou not come and touch the hem of his garment, and cry, “Jesus, let thy pitying eye look on me and change my heart”? Well, dear friend, Jesus lives; He is the same to- day as he was in the streets of Jerusalem; and though your feet cannot bear you to him, yet your desires shall serve you instead of feet; and though your finger cannot touch him, your confidence shall be instead of a hand to you. Trust him now! He whose love made him die lives on. His precious blood can never lose its power. Come ye now, humbly come, and confide in “the everlasting Father.”
II. We come, in the second place, to the difficult part of the subject; namely, Christ being called FATHER.
In what sense is Jesus a Father? Answer, first. He is federally a Father representing those who are in him, as the head of a tribe represents his descendants. The apostle Paul comes to our help here, for in the memorable chapter in the Corinthians, he speaks of those who are in Adam, and then he talks of a second Adam. Adam is the father of all living; he federally stood for us in the garden, and federally fell and ruined us all. He was the representative man by whose obedience we should have been blessed, through whose disobedience we have been made sinners. The curse of the fall comes upon us because Adam stood in a relation towards us in which none of us stand towards our fellows. He was the representative head for us; and what a fall was there when he fell! for every one of us in his loins fell in him. “In Adam all die.” Since his day there has been but one other hither to the human race federally. It is true, Noah was the father of the present race of men, for we have all sprung of him; but there was no covenant with Noah in which he represented his posterity, no condition of obedience by which he might have obtained a reward for us, and no condition of disobedience for the breach of which we are called to smart. The only other man who is a representative man before God is the second Adam, the man Christ Jesus, the Lord from heaven. Brothers and sisters, we call Adam father mournfully, for we are cast out of Eden by him, and we till the ground with the sweat of our face; in sorrow did our mothers bring us forth, and to the grave in sorrow must we go; but we who have believed in Jesus call another man father, namely, the Lord Jesus; and we speak this not sorrowfully but joyfully, for he has opened the gates of a better Paradise; he has taken away the sweat of toil from our faces spiritually, for we who have believed do “enter into rest;” he has borne himself the pangs which were brought upon us by sin, he took our sicknesses and bore our sorrows; while death itself, the heaviest affliction, he has overcome, so that he that lives and believeth in him shall never die, but pass out of this world into the life celestial.
The grand question for us is this, Are we still under the old covenant of works? If so, we have Adam to our father, and under that Adam we died.
But are we under the covenant of grace? If so, we have Christ to our Father, and in Christ shall we be made alive. Generation makes us the sons of Adam; regeneration acknowledges us as the sons of Christ. In our first birth we come under the fatherhood of the fallen one; in our second birth we enter into the fatherhood of the innocent and perfect One. In our first fatherhood we wear the image of the earthy; in the second we receive the image of the heavenly. Through our relation to Adam we become corrupt and weak, and the body is put into the grave in dishonor, in corruption, in weakness, in shame; but when we come under the dominion of the second Adam we receive strength, and quickening, and inward spiritual life, and therefore our body rises again like seed sown which rises to a glorious harvest in the image of the heavenly, with honor, and power, and happiness, and eternal life.
In this sense, then, Christ is called Father; and inasmuch as the covenant of grace is older than the covenant of works, Christ is, while Adam is not, “the everlasting Father;” and inasmuch as the covenant of works as far as we are concerned passes away, being fulfilled in him, an( l the covenant of grace never passes but abides for ever, Christ, as the head of the new covenant, the federal representative of the great economy of grace, is “the everlasting Father.” Secondly, Christ is a Father in the sense of a Founder. You know, perhaps, or at least you readily remember when I remind you, that the Hebrews are in the habit of calling a man a father of a thing, which he invents. For instance, in the fourth chapter of Genesis, Jubal is called the father of such as handle the harp and organ; Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents, and have cattle; not that these were literally the fathers of such persons, but the inventors of their occupations. Jabal first took upon himself a nomadic tent life, and set the example of wandering about with flocks and herds; and Jubal first put his fingers to musical strings, and his lips to pipes from which the wind is breathed melodiously. The Lord Jesus Christ is in this sense the Father of a wonderful system. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought life and immortality to light, and introduced a new phase of worship to this world is, in that respect, a Father; he is the Father of all Christians, the Father of Christianity, the Father of the entire system under which grace reigns through righteousness. Jesus is the Father of a great doctrinal system. All the great truths, which we are in the habit of delivering in your hearing as the precious truths of God sent down from heaven, fell first, clearly and powerfully, from the lips of Jesus. These things were dimly hinted at in the ceremonies of the law, but Christ first of all put them into plain letter so that he who runs may read. Practically it is Jesus who teaches us the doctrine of electing love; it is Christ who reveals to us redemption by blood; it is Christ that reveals regeneration by the work of the Spirit. Saying plainly, “Ye must be born again.” It is Christ that reveals the perseverance of the saints. In fact, there is no doctrine of the Christian system which is not so clearly set in the light of his own glorious Spirit by his teaching that we may not fairly call him the Father of it.
Our great Master is also the Father of a great practical system. If there be any in the world who “love their neighbors as themselves,” the Man of Nazareth is their Father; for, albeit that the law signified all that, yet men had not discovered it, but had misread the law. “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth” was their version of law; but Christ comes and says, “I say unto you, Resist not evil; if any man smite you on the one cheek, turn to him the other also.” If any man can suffer with patience and can return good for evil, heaping coals of fire upon the head of his foes, this man is a child of Christ. If men worship God in the spirit and have no confidence in the flesh, if they know no holy place, but recognize every place as holy where a holy man is found, such are the true children of Christ, for he said, “They that worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth.” He is the Father of spiritual worship. It has been common to call Socrates the “father of philosophy;” Jesus is Father of the philosophy of salvation; Galen, the “father of medicine,” Jesus is Father of the medicine of souls; Herodotus, “father of history;” but Jesus is the Father of heaven on earth. He is the Father of disinterested living, of true love to men; he is the Father of forgiving one’s enemies; the Father, in fact, of the divine system of Christian life.
The system of salvation claims Christ to be its Father. Who ever said, “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”? Who but the apostle of this man, Christ Jesus? Who told men that it was not by works of righteousness, which they had done, but by the merit of his passion and his life that they were saved? Who revealed the way of faith to men but Christ, the great doctrine of “Believe and live”? and those who receive it may claim Christ as Father. He is the Father of the Christian faith- a faith, my brethren, which, albeit that it has done much already for the world, for in old Rome it put down the fights in the Coliseum, threw down the bestial gods of heathendom, and albeit that it is doing much for the world even now, and helping to purge the vast Augean stable of humanity, is to do more still; it is to cast out war, it is to destroy error, it is to regenerate the human race. The Father of this purifying system which is doctrinal and practical, and which has already worked the best results to men, is the Lord Jesus, and since it was devised of old, and will be prolonged as long as the world stands, he is called “the everlasting Father.”
Now, there is a third meaning. The prophet may not so have understood it, but we so receive it, that Jesus is, in the third place, a Father in the great sense of a Life Giver, That is the main sense of “father” to the common mind. Through our fathers we are called into this world. Now it is by Christ that there is a communication of divine energy to the soul, it is through him, through his teaching, through the Spirit that he hath given, through the blood that he hath shed, that life is given to those who were dead in trespasses and sins. He that sits upon the throne says, “Behold, I make all things new.” “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” “This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” “For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them; even so the Son quickens whom he will. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” We know that through Jesus Christ the divine life is given to us. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” He gives the living water, and then it is in us “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” He is that living grain of wheat which was cast into the ground to die, that it might not abide alone, but become a root that brings forth fruit, which fruit we now are, receiving life from him as the stem receives life from the seed from which it sprang. Jesus is our Father in that sense. It is the Spirit of God who operatively quickens the soul and makes us live, but Jesus Christ’s gospel is the channel through which the Spirit works, and Jesus Christ is the true life to us. Receiving Christ we receive life, and without him we cannot have life. “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” As through the energy of Adam this vast world is peopled till hill and dale are covered with a teeming population, so through the life- energy of our Lord Jesus Christ the plains of heaven and the celestial hills shall be peopled with a throng that no man can number. Out of every realm, an people, speaking every language, having been bronzed by the heats of the torrid zone, or frozen amidst the frosts of the frigid north, Christ shall find a people into whom his quickening shall come, and they shall live through the energy of his Spirit, and he shall be their everlasting Father. It is in this sense, because that life is everlasting and can never die out, that Jesus Christ is called “the everlasting Father.”
Everything in us calls Christ “Father.” He is the author and finisher of our faith. If we love him, it is because he first loved us, If we patiently endure, it is by considering “him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.” He it is who waters and sustains all our graces. We may say of him, “All my fresh springs are in thee.” The Spirit brings us the water from this well of Bethlehem, but Jesus is the well itself. Spring up, O Well! Spring up, O Well! Divine Father, blessed Jesus, prove thy Fatherhood by re- quickening our souls this morning according to thy word!
4. Fourthly, I do not think that we have yet come to the bottom of this title of “Everlasting Father.” The term implies that Jesus Christ is to be in the future, the Patriarch of an age. Many translators render the passage, “the Father of the future age.” So Pope in his famous Poem of the Messiah understands it, and calls him, “The promised Father of the future age.” It has been the custom with men to speak of ages as “the age of brass or iron,” and “the age of gold.” This age of gold we are always looking for; the world’s face is constantly turned to it; so much so that quacks play upon the simplicity of men and tell them when this golden age is coming, and fleece them of their pence, and sometimes of their pounds, under the notion that they can tell them somewhat about the good times which are coming. They know nothing about it whatever; they are blind leaders of the blind: but this one thing is clear to every one who cares to see it, namely, that such an age of gold shall come, that a period brighter far than fancy paints will dawn upon this poor, darkened, enslaved world. I am always jealous with a godly jealousy lest you should forget this doctrine, or throw it up in disgust, because of the shameful way in which it is made merchandize of by others. Brethren, calculate no dates, sit down to devise no charts, but in your heart be satisfied with this, that there will be a kingdom and a reign, and that in that kingdom there shall be no strife to vex the nations, there shall be no affliction to grieve the people; in that kingdom Jesus, the King, shall be conspicuous, and his refulgent glory shall be the light of all the inhabitants; it shall be a New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, prepared by God, as a bride is prepared for her husband, worthy of her Lord, and a meet recompense for the crown of thorns, for the flagellation of his shoulders, for the shame, the spitting, and the cross. High lift the cross, my brethren, for it shall be lifted high. Speak not of Christ with bated breath, for he comes to be a King. Ye Christians, think not yourselves, though despised and rejected of men, to be men of a mean birth, for “it doth not yet appear what you shall be; but we know that when he shall appear ye shall be like him, for ye shall see him as he is.” Joyfully drink the cup of bitterness, for you shall soon drink the wines on the lees well refined; cheerfully pass through the darkness, for the morning breaks, and the day dawns, and the shadows flee away. Be content to ho the offscouring of all things, for one day, when kings shall bow down before him, and all nations shall call him blessed, you shall partake in his honor, and shall be as princes upon the throne with him, Yes, he is to be the Father of a future age. Men have called certain great patriots the fathers of their country. To- day let us call Christ the Father of our world. O Jesus, thou hast given to earth far better than a creation. Thou hast not only formed it from chaos into order, and then brought it from darkness into light, and then from death into warm life and beauty, but thou hast recovered it from worse than pristine chaos, and saved it from a darkness worse than the primeval gloom, and a death more horrible than the primeval shades. Thou hast descended into the depths into which this pearl, the world, was cast, and like a mighty diver all the waves and billows have gone over thee, but thou hast come up again bringing this pearl with thee, and it shall glisten in thy crown for ever when thou, shalt be admired of angels and adored of all created spirits. This shall be the sweetest part of their admiration and their adoration, thou was slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, and therefore unto thee be glory for ever and ever. He shall be in this sense, then, the Father of an everlasting age.
5. Once more- for the text is very prolific- Christ may be called a Father in the loving and lender sense of a Father’s office. Here is a text to show what I mean. God is called the Father of the fatherless, and Job, I think, says of himself, that he became a father to the poor. You know what it means, of course, at once; it means that he exercised a father’s part. Now, albeit that the Spirit of adoption teaches us to call God our Father, yet it is not straining truth to say that our Lord Jesus Christ exercises to all his people a Father’s part. According to the old Jewish custom the elder brother was the father of the family in the absence of the father; the firstborn took precedence of all, and took upon him the father’s position; so the Lord Jesus, the firstborn among many brethren, exercises to us a Father’s office.
Is it not so? Has he not succoured us in all time of our need as a father succors his child? Has he not supplied us with more than heavenly bread as a father gives bread unto his children? Does he not daily protect us, nay, did he not yield up his life that we his little ones might be preserved? Will he not say at the last, “Here am I, and the children that thou hast given me; I have lost none”? Does he not chastise us by hiding himself from us, as a father chastens his children? Do we not find him instructing us by his Spirit and leading us into all truth? Has he not told us to call no man father upon earth in the sense that he is to be our true guide and instructor, and we are to sit at his feet and make him our Rabbi and our authoritative Teacher? Is he not the head in the household to us on earth, abiding with us, and has he not said, “I will not leave you orphans (that is the Greek word); I will come unto you”? As if his coming was the coming of a Father. If he be a Father, will we not give him honor? If he be the head of the household, will we not give him obedience, and say in our hearts, “Other lords have had dominion over us, but henceforth, thou everlasting Father, we will give thee reverence.” If he be in all these senses “the everlasting Father,”
“Then let us adore, and give him his right, All glory and power, and wisdom and might, All honor and blessing, with angels above, And thanks never- ceasing, for infinite love.”
III. Lastly, we weigh the words, “EVERLASTING FATHER.” I have already explained what this means. Christ is called “the everlasting Father” because he does not himself, as a Father, die or vacate his office. He is still the Federal Bead and Father of his people; still the Founder of gospel truth and of the Christian system; not allowing archbishops and popes to be his vicars and to take his place. He is still the true Life- giver, from whose wounds and by whose death we are quickened; he reigns even now as the patriarchal King; he is still the loving family Head; and so, in every sense, he lives as a Father. But here is a sweet thought. He neither himself dies, nor becomes childless. He does not lose his children. If his church could perish, he would not be the Father. How a Father without a son? And this is the best of all, that he is “an everlasting Father” to all those to whom he is a Father at all. If thou hast entered into this relationship so as to be in union with Christ, and to be covered with the skirts of his garment, thou art his child, and thou shall for ever be. There is no unfathering Christ, and there is no unchilding us. He is everlastingly a Father to those who trust in him, and he never does at any one moment cease to be Father to any one of these. This morning you may have come here in trouble, but Christ is still your Father. This day you may be much depressed in spirit and full of doubts and fears; but a true father never ceases, if he be a father, to exercise his kindness to a child; nor does Jesus cease to love and pity you. He will help you. Go to him, and you shall find that loving Friend to be as tender as in the days of his flesh.
He is the author of an eternal system. As I glanced at the words “everlasting Father,” and thought of him as the Founder of an everliving system, I said to myself, “Ah then, the Christian religion will never die out!” It is not possible that the truth as it is in Jesus should ever be put away if he is “the everlasting Father.” I feel as if I could quote again Master Hugh Latimer, when, standing hack to back with Ridley, “Courage, Master Ridley,” said he, “we shall this day light such a candle in England as shall never be put out.” Look yonder at Christ on the cross! He did that day light such a candle as never can be put out. He is “the everlasting Father.” He set rolling that day as it were a snow- flake of truth as he died upon the cross; and you know what the snow- flake does upon the high Alps; a bird’s wing perhaps sets it rolling, and it gathers another and another and another, till, as it descends, it becomes a mass of snow; and by- and- bye as it leaps from crag to crag, it grows greater and greater and greater, until ponderous masses of ice and snow cohere together, and at the last, with an awful thundering crash the avalanche rolls down, fills the valley, and sweeps all before it; even so this Everlasting Father on the cross set in motion a mighty force which has gone on swelling and increasing, gathering to be a ponderous mass of mighty teaching, and the day shall come when, like an irresistible avalanche it shall fall upon the palaces of the Vatican and upon the towers of Rome, when the mosques of Mahomet and the temples of the gods shall be crushed beneath its stupendous weight, and the Everlasting Father shall have done the deed.
“The everlasting Father,” last of all, because he is the Father, in all his people, of eternal life. Adam, thou art a father, but where are thy sons? If thou couldst return to earth, O Mother Eve! where wouldst thou find thy children? Methinks I see her as she paces round the earth and finds nothing but little grassy mounds, heaps of turf, and sometimes a valley sodden blood red where her children have been slain in battle. I hear her weeping for her children; she will not be comforted because they are not! But hush, Mother Eve, what life didst thou give them? What life was that which Father Adam conferred upon thy sons and daughters? Why, only life terrestrial, a bubble life, that melted and disappeared. But Jesus as he comes again will find none of his children dead, none of his sons and daughters lost; because he lives they live also, for he is the everlasting Father, and makes those to have everlasting life who live and breathe through him. Thrice happy they who have an interest in the truth of our text!
Now, dear hearers, may I ask you whether Christ is an everlasting Father to you? There are other fathers. The Jew said, “We have Abraham to our father,” and to this day certain divines teach that we have covenant rights because of our earthly fathers. They believe in the Abrahamic covenant much after the manner of the Jews. “We have Abraham to our father;” therefore we have a right to baptism, therefore we are church members; “born into the church.” Yes, I have heard it said, “born into the church.” Let no man deceive you; this is not Christ’s teaching. “Ye must be born again.” If not, though your mother were a saint in heaven, and your father an undoubted apostle of God, you should derive no advantage, but a world of solemn responsibility from the fact, except you be yourself born again. Do not then say unto yourself, “we have Abraham to our father,” for God is able of the very stones to raise up children unto Abraham. We had a very remarkable instance not very long ago in this Tabernacle, of how God does sometimes bless the outcasts and leaves some of you, the children of godly parents, in the hardness of your heart to perish. There was a man known in the village where he lives by the name of Satan, because of his being so thoroughly depraved. He was a sailor, and as another sailor in that town had been the means of the conversion of all the sailors in a vessel that left the town, this man desired to sail with him to try and beat his religion out of him. He did his best, but he signally failed; and as they happened to be coming to London, his friend asked him whether he would come to the Tabernacle. He did not mind coming to hear me, for as it happened, I was brought up near the place where he lived. This Satan came here on the Lord’s day morning, when the text was upon soul murder, and he sat (some of you noticed him that day), and sobbed and cried under the sermon at such a broken- hearted rate that he could only say, “People are noticing me, I had better go out;” but his companion would not let him go out, and that man from that day forth was begotten by the Everlasting Father, and is living and walking in the truth, an earnest believer, doing all that he can for the spread of the kingdom, and singularly clear in his doctrinal knowledge. Here is a man who had been everything that was possible in the way of badness, yet God met with him; and some of you who have Abraham to your father, and are related to godly people, are just all the more hardened for all the preaching you have heard. May God have pity upon you and save you yet! Do not be content with fleshly fatherhood; get the spiritual fatherhood, which comes from Christ.
Others of you are this day perhaps saying, “Well, we can trust in our good works.” Well, then, Adam is your father, and you know what will come of you. Adam was driven out of Paradise, and you will never be admitted there. Adam lost all his hopes, and you will lose yours. On the ground of the law shall no flesh living be justified. Alas! I fear that many here have another father. How does Christ put it? “Ye are of your father, the devil,” says he, “for his works ye do.” Not works merely of open sin in the form of adultery, uncleanness, theft, and such like, but opposition to Christ is peculiarly a work of the devil, and unbelief in Christ is the devil’s masterpiece. If you do not then trust the Lord Jesus, do not say to- night when you kneel at the bedside, “Our Father, which art in heaven,” for your father is not in heaven, your father is in hell. Go to the blood of Jesus and ask that you may be cleansed from all iniquity, and then may you say through the everlasting Father, “O God, thou hast made me thy child, and I love and bless thy name.” May God be pleased to give you all his blessing for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
His Name Wonderful!
September 19, 1858 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"His name shall be called Wonderful." Isaiah 9:6 .
One evening last week I stood by the sea-shore when the storm was raging. The voice of the Lord was upon the waters; and who was I that I should tarry within doors, when my Master's voice was heard sounding along the water? I rose and stood to behold the flash of his lightnings, and listen to the glory of his thunders. The sea and the thunders were contesting with one another; the sea with infinite clamor striving to hush the deep-throated thunder, so that his voice should not be heard; yet over and above the roar of the billows might be heard that voice of God, as he spoke with flames of fire, and divided the way for the waters. It was a dark night, and the sky was covered with thick clouds, and scarce a star could be seen through the rifts of the tempest; but at one particular time, I noticed far away on the horizon, as if miles across the water, a bright shining, like gold. It was the moon hidden behind the clouds, so that she could not shine upon us; but she was able to send her rays down upon the waters, far away, where no cloud happened to intervene. I thought as I read this chapter last evening, that the prophet seemed to have stood in a like position, when he wrote the words of my text. All round about him were clouds of darkness; he heard prophetic thunders roaring, and he saw flashes of the lightnings of divine vengeance; clouds and darkness, for many a league, were scattered through history; but he saw far away a bright spot one place where the clear shining came down from heaven. And he sat down, and he penned these words: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined;" and though he looked through whole leagues of space, where he saw the battle of the warrior "with confused noise and garments rolled in blood," yet he fixed his eye upon one bright spot in futurity, and he declared, that there he saw hope of peace, prosperity and blessedness; for said he, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shad be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful." My dear friends, we live to-day upon the verge of that bright spot. The world has been passing through these clouds of darkness, and the light is gleaming on us now, like the glintings of the first rays of morning. We are coming to a brighter day, and "at evening time it shall be light." The clouds and darkness shall be rolled up as a mantle that God needs no longer, and he shall appear in his glory, and his people shall rejoice with him. But you must mark, that all the brightness was the result of this child born, this son given, whose name is called Wonderful; and if we can discern any brightness in our own hearts, or in the world's history, it can come from nowhere else, than from the one who is called "Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God." The person spoken of in our text, is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a child born, with reference to his human nature; he is born of the virgin, a child. But he is a son given, with reference to his divine nature, being given as well as born. Of course. the Godhead could not be born of woman. That was from everlasting, and is to everlasting. As a child he was born, as a son he was given. "The government is upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful." Beloved, there are a thousand things in this world, that are called by names that do not belong to them; but in entering upon my text, I must announce at the very opening, that Christ is called Wonderful, because he is so. God the Father never gave his Son a name which he did not deserve. There is no panegyric here, no flattery. It is just the simple name that he deserves, they that know him best will say that the word doth not overstrain his merits, but rather falleth infinitely short of his glorious deserving. His name is called Wonderful. And mark, it does not merely say, that God has given him the name of Wonderful though that is implied; but "his name shall be called" so. It shall be; it is at this time called Wonderful by all his believing people, and it shall be. As long as the moon endureth, there shall be found men, and angels, and glorified spirits, who shall always call him by his right name. "His name shall be called Wonderful." I find that this name may bear two or three interpretations. The word is sometimes in Scripture translated "marvellous." Jesus Christ may be called marvellous; and a learned German interpreter says, that without doubt, the meaning of miraculous is also wrapt up in it. Christ is the marvel of marvels, the miracle of miracles. "His name shall be called Miraculous," for he is more than a man, he is God's highest miracle. "Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh." It may also mean separated, or distinguished. And Jesus Christ may well be called this; for as Saul was distinguished from all men, being head and shoulders taller than they, so is Christ distinguished above all men; he is anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, and in his character, and in his acts he is infinitely separated from all comparison with any of the sons of men. "Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips." He is "the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely." "His name shall be called the Separated One," the distinguished one, the noble one, set apart from the common race of mankind. We shall, however, this morning, keep to the old version, and simply read it thus, "His name shall be called Wonderful." And first I shall notice that Jesus Christ deserveth to be called Wonderful for what he was in the past; secondly, that he is called Wonderful by all his people for what he is in the present; and in the third place, that he shall be called Wonderful, for what he shall be in the future. I. First, Christ shall be called Wonderful for WHAT HE WAS IN THE PAST. Gather up your thoughts, my brethren. for a moment, and center them all on Christ, and you will soon see how wonderful he is. Consider his eternal existence, "begotten of his Father from before all worlds," being of the same substance with his Father: begotten, not made, co-equal, co-eternal, in every attribute, "very God of very God." For a moment remember that he who became an infant of a span long, was no less than the King of ages, the everlasting Father, who was from eternity. and is to be to all eternity. The divine nature of Christ is indeed wonderful. Just think for a moment, how much interest clusters round the life of an old man. Those of us who are but as children in years, look up to him with wonder and astonishment, as he tells us the varied stories of the experience through which he has passed; but what is the life of an aged man how brief it appears when compared with the life of the tree that shelters him. It existed long before that old man's father crept a helpless infant into the world. How many storms have swept over its brow! how many kings have come and gone! how many empires have risen and fallen since that old oak was slumbering in its acorn cradle! But what is the life of the tree compared with the soil on which it grows? What a wonderful story that soil might tell! What changes it has passed through in all the eras of time that have elapsed since "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." There is a wonderful story connected with every atom of black mould which furnishes the nourishment of the oak. But whilst is the history of that soil compared with the marvellous history of the rock on which it rests the cliff on which it lifts its head. Oh! what stories might it tell, what records lie hidden in its bowels. Perhaps it could tell the story of the time when "the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the earth." Perhaps it might speak and tell us of those days when the morning and the evening were the first day, and the morning and the evening were the second day, and could explain to us the mysteries of how God made this marvellous piece of miracle, the world. But what is the history of the cliff, compared with that of the sea that rolls at its base that deep blue ocean, over which a thousand navies have swept, without leaving a furrow Upon its brow! But what is the history of the sea, compared with the history of the heavens that are stretched like a curtain over that vast basin! What a history is that of the hosts of heaven of the everlasting marches of the sun, moon, and stars! Who can tell their generation, or who can write their biography? But what is the history of the heavens, compared with the history of the angels? They could tell you of the day when they saw this world wrapped in swaddling bands of mist when, like a newborn infant, the last of God's offspring, it came forth from him, and the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy. But what is the history of the angels that excel in strength, compared with the history of the Lord Jesus Christ? The angel is but of yesterday, and he knoweth nothing; Christ, the Eternal One, chargeth even his angels with folly, and looks upon them as his ministering spirits, that come and go at his good pleasure. Oh, Christians, gather with reverence and mysterious awe around the throne of him who is your great Redeemer; for "his name is called Wonderful," since he has existed before all things, and "by him all things were made; and without him was not anything made that was made." Consider, again, the incarnation of Christ, and you will rightly say, that his name deserveth to be called "Wonderful." Oh! what is that I see? Oh! world of wonders, what is that I see? The Eternal of ages, whose hair is white like wool, as white as snow, becomes an infant. Can it be? Ye angels, are ye not astonished? He becomes an infant, hangs at a virgin's breast, draws his nourishment from the breast of woman. Oh wonder of wonders! Manger of Bethlehem, thou hast miracles poured into thee. This is a sight that surpasses all others. Talk ye of the sun, moon, and stars; consider ye the heavens, the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars that he hath ordained; but all the wonders of the universe shrink into nothing, when we come to the mystery of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a marvellous thing when Joshua bade the sun to stand still, but more marvellous when God seemed to stand still, and no longer to move forward, but rather, like the sun upon the dial of Ahaz, did go back ten degrees, and veil his splendor in a cloud. There have been sights matchless and wonderful, at which we might look for years, and yet turn away and say, "I cannot understand this; here is a deep into which I dare not dive; my thoughts are drowned; this is a steep without a summit; I cannot climb it; it is high, I cannot attain it!" But all these things are as nothing, compared with the incarnation of the Son of God. I do believe that the very angels have never wondered but once and that has been incessantly ever since they first beheld it. They never cease to tell the astonishing story, and to tell it with increasing astonishment too, that Jesus Christ. the Son of God, was born of the Virgin Mary, and became a man. Is he not rightly called Wonderful? Infinite, and an infant eternal, and yet born of a woman Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman's breast supporting the universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother's arms king of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph heir of all things and yet the carpenter's despised son. Wonderful art thou O Jesus, and that shall be thy name for ever. But trace the Saviours course, and all the way he is wonderful. Is it not marvellous that he submitted to the taunts and jeers of his enemies that for a long life he should allow the bulls of Bashan to gird him round, and the dogs to encompass him? Is it not surprising that he should have bridled in his anger when blasphemy was uttered against his sacred person? Had you or I been possessed of his matchless might, we should have dashed our enemies down the brow of the hill, if they had sought to cast us there; we should never have submitted to shame and spitting; no, we would have looked upon them, and with one fierce look of wrath, have dashed their spirits into eternal torment. But he hears it all keeps in his noble spirit the lion of the tribe of Judah, but bearing still the lamb-like character of
"The humble man before his foes, A weary man, and full of woes."
I do believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the king of heaven, and yet he was a poor, despised, persecuted, slandered man; but while I believe it I never can understand it. I bless him for it; I love him for it; I desire to praise his name while immortality endures for his infinite condescension in thus suffering for me; but to understand it, I can never pretend. His name must all his life long be called Wonderful. But see him die. Come O my brothers, ye children of God, and gather round the cross. See your Master. There he hangs. Can you understand this riddle: God was manifest in the flesh, and crucified of men? My Master, I cannot understand how thou couldst stoop thine awful head to such a death as this how then couldst take from thy brow the coronet of stars which from old eternity had shone resplendent there; but how thou shouldest permit the thorn-crown to gird the temples astonishes me far more. That thou shouldest cast away the mantle of thy glory, the azure of thine everlasting empire, I cannot comprehend; but how thou shouldest have become veiled in the ignominious purple for awhile, and then be bowed to by impious men, who mocked thee as a pretended king, and how thou shouldest be stripped naked to thy shame, without a single covering, this is still more incomprehensible. Truly thy name is Wonderful. Oh thy love to me is wonderful, passing the love of woman. Was ever grief like thine? Was ever love like thine, that could open the flood gates of such grief. Thy grief is like a river; but was there ever spring that poured out such a torrent? Was ever love so mighty as to become the fount from which such an ocean of grief could come rolling down? Here is matchless love matchless love to make him suffer, matchless power to enable him to endure all the weight of his Father's wrath. Here is matchless justice, that he himself should acquiesce in his Father's will, and not allow men to be saved without his own sufferings; and here is matchless mercy to the chief of sinners, that Christ should suffer even for them. "His name shall be called Wonderful." But he died. He died! See Salem's daughters weep around. Joseph of Arimathea takes up the lifeless body after it has been taken down from the cross. They bear it away to the sepulcher. It is put in a garden. Do you can him Wonderful now?
"Is this the Saviour long foretold To usher in the age of gold?"
And is he dead? Lift his hands! They drop motionless by his side. His foot exhibits still the nail-print; but there is no mark of life. "Aha," cries the Jew, "is this the Messiah? He is dead; he shall see corruption in a little space of time. Oh! watchman, keep good ward lest his disciples steal his body. His body can never come forth, unless they do steal it; for he is dead. Is this the Wonderful the Counsellor?" But God did not leave his soul in Hades; nor did he suffer his body "his holy one" to see corruption? Yes, he is wonderful, even in his death. That clay-cold corpse is wonderful. Perhaps this is the greatest wonder of all, that he who is "Death of death and hell's destruction" should for awhile endure the bonds of death. But here is the wonder. He could not be holden of those bonds. Those chains which have held ten thousand of the sons and daughters of Adam, and which have never been broken yet by any man of human mould, save by a miracle, were but to him as green withes. Death bound our Samson fast and said, "I have him now, I have taken away the locks of his strength; his glory is departed, and now he is mine; but the hands that kept the human race in chains were nothing to the Saviour; the third day he burst them, and he rose again from the dead, from henceforth to die no more. Oh! thou risen Saviour thou who couldst not see corruption thou art wonderful in thy resurrection. And thou art wonderful too in thine ascension as I see thee leading captivity captive and receiving gifts for men. "His name shall be called Wonderful." Pause here one moment, and let us think Christ is surpassingly wonderful. The little story I have told you just now not little in itself, but little as I have told it has in it something surpassingly wonderful. All the wonders that you ever saw are nothing compared with this. As we have passed through various countries we have seen a wonder, and some older traveler than ourselves has said, "Yes this is wonderful to you. but I could show you something that utterly eclipses that." Though we have seen some splendid landscapes, with glorious hills, and we have climbed up where the eagle seemed to knit the mountain and the sky together in his flight, and we have stood and looked down, and said, "How wonderful!" Saith he, "I have seen fairer lands than these, and wider and richer prospects far." But when we speak of Christ, none can say they ever saw a greater wonder than he is. You have come now to the very summit of everything that may be wondered at. There are no mysteries equal to this mystery, there is no surprise equal to this surprise; there is no astonishment, no admiration that should equal the astonishment and admiration that we feel when we behold Christ in the glories of the past. He surpasses everything. And yet again. Wonder is a short-lived emotion; you know, it is proverbial that a wonder grows gray-headed in nine days. The longest period that a wonder is found to last is about that time. It is such a short-lived thing. But Christ is and ever shall be wonderful. You may think of him through three-score years and ten, but you shall wonder at him more at the end than at the beginning. Abraham might wonder at him, when he saw his day in the distant future; but I do mat think that even Abraham himself could wonder at Christ so much as the very least in the kingdom of heaven of to-day wonders at him, seeing that we know more than Abraham, and therefore wonder more. Think again for one moment, and you will say of Christ that he deserves to be called Wonderful, not only because he is always wonderful, and because he is surpassingly wonderful, but also because he is altogether wonderful. There have been some great feats of skill in the arts and sciences; for instance, if we take a common wonder of the day, the telegraph how much there is about that which is wonderful! But there are a great many things in the telegraph that we can understand. Though there are many mysteries in it, still there are parts of it that are like keys to the mysteries, so that if we cannot solve the riddle wholly, yet it is disrobed of some of the low garments of its mystery. But now if you look at Christ anyhow, anywhere, anyway, he is all mystery, he is altogether wonderful, always to be looked at and always to be admired. And again, he is universally wondered at. They tell us that the religion of Christ is very good for old women. I was once complimented by a person, who told me he believed my preaching would be extremely suitable for blacks for negroes. He did not intend it as a compliment, but I replied, "Well sir, if it is suitable for blacks I should think it would be very suitable for whites; for there is only a little difference of skin, and I do not preach to people's skins, but to their hearts." Now, of Christ we can say that he is universally a wonder, the strongest intellects have wonderful at him. Our Lockes and our Newtons have felt themselves to be as little children when they have come to the foot of the cross. The wonder has not been confined to ladies, to children, to old women and dying men, the highest intellects, and the lustiest minds have all wondered at Christ. I am sure it is a difficult task to make some people wonder. Hard thinkers and close mathematicians are not easily brought to wonder: but such men have covered their faces with their hands and cast themselves in the dust, and confessed that they have been lost in wonder and amazement. Well then may Christ be called Wonderful. II. "His name shall be called Wonderful." He is wonderful for WHAT HE IS IN THE PRESENT. And here I will not diverge, but will just appeal to you personally. Is he wonderful to you? Let me tell the story of my own wonderment at Christ, and in telling it, I shall be telling the experience of all God's children. There was a time when I wondered not at Christ. I heard of his beauties, but I had never seen them; I heard of his power, but it was nought to me; it was but news of something done in a far country I had no connection with it, and therefore I observed it not. But once upon a time, there came one to my house of a black and terrible aspect. He smote the door; I tried to bolt it to hold it fast. He smote again and again, till at last he entered, and with a rough voice he summoned me before him; and he said, "I have a message from God for thee; thou art condemned on account of thy sins." I looked at him with astonishment; I asked him his name. He said, "My name is the Law." and I fell at his feet as one that was dead. "I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." As I lay there, he smote me. He smote me till every rib seemed as if it must break, and the bowels be poured forth. My heart was melted like wax within me; I seemed to be stretched upon a rack to be pinched with hot irons to be beaten with whips of burning wire. A misery extreme dwelt and reigned in my heart. I dared not lift up mine eyes, but I thought within myself, "There may be hope, there may be mercy for me. Perhaps the God whom I have offended may accept my tears and my promises of amendment, and I may live." But when that thought crossed me, heavier were the blows and more poignant my sufferings than before, till hope entirely failed me, and I had nought wherein to trust. Darkness black and dense gathered round me; I heard a voice as it were, of rushing to and fro, and of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I said within my soul, "I am cast out from his sight, I am utterly abhorred of God, he hath trampled me in the mire of the streets in his anger." And there came one by, of sorrowful but of loving aspect, and he stooped over me, and he said, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." I arose in astonishment, and he took me, and he led me to a place where stood a cross, and he seemed to vanish from my sight. But he appeared again hanging there. I looked upon him as he bled upon that tree. His eyes darted a glance of love unutterable into my spirit, and in a moment, looking at him, the bruises that my soul had suffered were healed; the gaping wounds were cured; the broken bones rejoiced; the rags that had covered me were all removed; my spirit was white as the spotless snows of the far-off north; I had melody within my spirit, for I was saved, washed, cleansed, forgiven, through him that did hang upon the tree. Oh, how I wondered that I should be pardoned! It was not the pardon that I wondered at so much; the wonder was that it should come to me. I wondered that he should be able to pardon such sins as mine; such crimes, so numerous and so black, and that after such an accusing conscience he should have power to still every wave within my spirit, and make my soul like the surface of a river, undisturbed, quiet, and at ease. His name then to my spirit was Wonderful. But, brethren and sisters, if you have felt this, you can say you thought him wonderful then if you are feeling it, a sense of adoring wonder enraptures your heart even now. And has he not been wonderful to you since that auspicious hour, when first you heard Mercy's voice spoken to you? How often have you been in sadness, sickness, and sorrow! But your pain has been light, for Jesus Christ has been with you on your sick-beds; your care has been no care at all, for you have been able to cast your burden upon him. The trial which threatened to crush you, rather lifted you up to heaven, and you have said "How wonderful that Jesus Christ's name should give me such comfort, such joy, such peace, such confidence." Various things bring to my recollection a period now removed by the space of nearly two years. Never shall we forget, beloved, the judgments of the Lord, when by terrible things in righteousness he answered our prayer that he would give us success in this house. We cannot forget how the people were scattered how some of the sheep were slain, and the shepherd himself was smitten. I may not have told in your hearing the story of my own woe. Perhaps never soul went so near the burning furnace of insanity, and yet came away unharmed. I have walked by that fire until these locks seemed to be crisp with the heat thereof. My brain was racked. I dared not look up to God, and prayer that was once my solace, was cause of my affright and terror, if I attempted it. I shall never forget the time when I first became restored to myself. It was in the garden of a friend. I was walking solitary and alone, musing upon my misery, much cheered as that was by the kindness of my loving friend, yet far too heavy for my soul to bear, when on a sudden the name of Jesus flashed through my mind. The person of Christ seemed visible to me. I stood still. The burning lava of my soul was cooled. My agonies were hushed. I bowed myself there, and the garden that had seemed a Gethsemane became to me a Paradise. And then it seemed so strange to me, that nought should have brought me back but that name of Jesus. I thought indeed at that time that I should love him better all the days of my life. But there were two things I wondered at. I wondered that he should be so good to me, and I wondered more that I should have been so ungrateful to him. But his name has been from that time "Wonderful" to me, and I must record what he has done for my soul. And now, brothers and sisters, you shall all find, every day of your life, whatever your trials and troubles, that he shall always be made the more wonderful by them. He sends your troubles to be like a black foil, to make the diamond of his name shine the brighter. You would never know the wonders of God if it were not that you find them out in the furnace. "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep," and we shall never see the wonders of God except in that deep; we must go into the deeps before we know how wonderful his power and his might to save. I must not leave this point without one more remark. There have been times when you and I have said of Christ, "His name is wonderful indeed, for we have been by it transported entirely above the world, and carried upward to the very gates of heaven itself." I pity you, beloved, if you do not understand the rhapsody I am about to use. There are moments when the Christian feels the charms of earth all broken, and his wings are loosed, and he begins to fly; and up he soars, till he forgets earth's sorrows and leaves them far behind, and up he goes till he forgets earth's joys, and leaves them like the mountain tops far below, as when the eagle flies to meet the sun; and up, up, up he goes, with his Saviour full before him almost in vision beatific. His heart is full of Christ; his soul beholds his Saviour, and the cloud that darkened his view of the Saviour's face seems to be dispersed. At such a time the Christian can sympathise with Paul. He says, "Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell God knoweth!" but I am, as it were, "caught up to the third heaven." And how is this rapture produced? By the music of flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of instruments? No. How then? By riches? By fame? By wealth? Ah, no. By a strong mind? By a lively disposition? No. By the name of Jesus. That one name is all sufficient to lead the Christian into heights of transport that verge upon the region where the angels fly in cloudless day. III. I have no more time to stay upon this point, although the text is infinite, and one might preach upon it for ever. I have only to notice that his name shall be called Wonderful IN THE FUTURE. The day is come, the day of wrath, the day of fire. The ages are ended; the last century, like the last pillar of a dilapidated temple, has crumbled to its fall. The clock of time is verging to its last hour. It is on the stroke. The time is come when the things that are made must disappear. Lo, I see earth's bowels moving. A thousand hillocks give up the slumbering dead. The battle fields are clothed no more with the rich harvests that have been manured with blood; but a new harvest has sprung up. The fields are thick with men. The sea itself becomes a prolific mother, and though she hath swallowed men alive, she gives them up again, and they stand before God, an exceeding great army. Sinners! ye have risen from your tombs; the pillars of heaven are reeling; the sky is moving to and fro; the sun, the eye of this great world, is rolling like a maniac's, and glaring with dismay. The moon that long has cheered the night now makes the darkness terrible, for she is turned into a clot of blood. Portents, and signs, and wonders past imagination, make the heavens shake, and make men's hearts quail within them. Suddenly upon a cloud there comes one like unto the Son of Man. Sinners! picture your astonishment and your wonder when you see him. Where art thou, Voltaire? Thou saidst, "I will crush the wretch." Come and crush him now! "Nay" saith Voltaire, "he is not the man I thought he was." Oh how will he wonder when he finds out what Christ is! Now, Judas, come and give him a traitor's kiss! "Ah! nay," says he, "I knew not what I kissed: I thought I kissed only the son of Mary, but lo! he is the everlasting God." Now, ye kings and princes, that stood up and took counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, "Let us break his bands asunder, and cast his cords from us!" Come now, take counsel once more; rebel against him now! Oh! can ye picture the astonishment, the wonder the dismay, when careless, godless infidels and Socinians find out what Christ is? "Oh!" they will say, "this is wonderful, I thought not he was such as this;" while Christ shall say to them, "thou thoughtest that I was altogether such as yourselves; but I am no such thing; I am come in all my Father's glory to judge the quick and dead." Pharaoh led his hosts into the midst of the Red Sea. The path was dry and shingly, and on either shore stood like a wall of alabaster the clear white water stiff as with the breath of frost, consolidated into marble. There it stood. Can ye guess the astonishment and dismay of the hosts of Pharaoh, when they saw those walls of water about to close upon them? "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish!" Such will be your astonishment, when Christ, whom ye have despised to-day Christ, whom ye would not have to be your Saviour Christ whose Bible ye left unread, whose Sabbath ye despised Christ, whose gospel ye rejected, shall come in the glory of his Father, and all his holy angels with him. Ay, then indeed will ye "behold, and wonder, and perish," and you shall say, "His name is Wonderful." But perhaps, the most wonderful part of the day of judgment is this, do you see all the horrors yonder the black darkness the horrid night, the clashing comets the pale stars, sickly and wan, falling like figs from the fig tree? Do you hear the cry, "Rocks, hide us, mountains, on us fall?" "Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise;" but there never was a battle like this. This is with fire and smoke indeed. But do ye see yonder? All is peaceful all serene and quiet. The myriads of the redeemed, are they shrieking, crying, wailing? No; see them! They are gathering gathering round the throne. That very throne that seems to scatter, as with a hundred hands, death and destruction on the wicked, becomes the sun of light and happiness to all believers. Do you see them coming robed in white, with their bright wings? while gathering round him they veil their faces. Do ye hear them cry, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, for thou wast slain, and thou hast risen from the dead; worthy art thou to live and reign, when death itself is dead?" Do ye hear them? It is all song, and no shriek. Do ye see them? It is all joy, and no terror. His name to them is Wonderful; but it is the wonder of admiration the wonder of ecstacy, the wonder of affection, and not the wonder of horror and dismay. Saints of the Lord! ye shall know the wonders of his name, when ye shall see him as he is, and shall be like him in the day of his appearing. Oh! my enraptured spirit, thou shalt bear thy part in thy Redeemer's triumph, unworthy though thou art, the chief of sinners, and less than the least of saints. Thine eye shall see him and not another; "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and when he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth, though worms devour this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Oh! make your selves ready, ye virgins! Behold the bridegroom cometh. Arise and trim your lamps, and go ye out to meet him. He comes he comes he comes; and when he comes, you shall well say of him as you meet him with joy, "Thy name is called Wonderful. All hail! all hail! all hail!"
His Name The Counsellor
September 26, 1858 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor." Isaiah 9:6 .
Last Sunday morning we considered the first title, "His name shall be called Wonderful:" this morning we take the second word, "Counsellor." I need not repeat the remark, that of course these titles belong only to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we cannot understand the passage except by referring it to Messiah the Prince. It was by a Counsellor that this world was ruined. Did not Satan mask himself in the serpent, and counsel the woman with exceeding craftiness, that she should take unto herself of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the hope that thereby she should be as God? Was it not that evil counsel which provoked our mother to rebel against her Maker, and did it not as the effect of sin, bring death into this world with all its train of woe? Ah! beloved, it was meet that the world should have a Counsellor to restore it, if it had a Counsellor to destroy it. It was by counsel that it fell and certainly, without counsel it never could have arisen. But mark the difficulties that surrounded such a Counsellor. 'Tis easy to counsel mischief; but how hard to counsel wisely! To cast down is easy, but to build up how hard! To confuse this world, and bring upon it all its train of ills was, an easy thing. A woman plucked the fruit and it was done; but to restore order to this confusion, to sweep away the evils which brooded over this fair earth, this was work indeed, and "Wonderful" was that Christ who came forward to attempt the work, and who in the plentitude of his wisdom hath certainly accomplished it, to his own honor and glory, and to our comfort and safety. We shall now enter upon the discussion of this title which is given to Christ, a title peculiar to our Redeemer; and you will see why it should be given to him and why there was a necessity for such a Counsellor. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ is a Counsellor in a three-fold sense. First, he is God's Counsellor; he sits in the cabinet council of the King of heaven; he has admittance into the privy chamber, and is the Counsellor with God. In the second place, Christ is a Counsellor in the sense which the Septuagint translation appends to this term. Christ is said to be the angel of the great council. He is a Counsellor in that he communicates to us in God's behalf, what has been done in the great council before the foundation of the world. And thirdly, Christ is a Counsellor to us and with us, because we can consult with him, and he doth counsel and advise us as to the right way and the path of peace. I. Beginning then, with the first point, Christ may well be called Counsellor, for he is a COUNSELLOR WITH GOD. And here let us speak with reverence, for we are about to enter upon a very solemn subject. It hath been revealed to us that before the world was, when as yet God had not made the stars, long ere space sprang into being, the Almighty God did hold a solemn conclave with himself; Father, Son and Spirit held a mystic council with each other, as to what they were about to do. That council, although we read but little of it in Scripture, was nevertheless most certainly held; we have abundant traces of it, for though it is a doctrine obscure through the effulgence of that light to which no man can approach, and not simply and didactically explained, as some other doctrines are, yet we have continual tracings and incidental mentionings of that great, eternal and wonderful council, which was held between the three glorious persons of Trinity before the world began. Our first question with ourselves is, why did God hold a council at all? And here, we must answer, that God did not hold a council because of any deficiency in his knowledge, for God understandeth all things from the beginning; his knowledge is the sum total of everything that is noble, and infinite is that sum total, infinitely above everything that is counted noble. Thou, O God, hast thoughts that are unsearchable, and thou knowest what no mortal ken can ever attain unto. Nor, again, did God hold any consultation for the increase of his satisfaction. Sometimes men, when they have determined what to do, will nevertheless seek counsel of their friends, because they say, "If their advice agrees with mine it adds to my satisfaction. and confirms me in my resolution." But God is everlastingly satisfied with himself, and Knoweth not the shadow of a doubt to cloud his purpose; therefore, the council was not held with any motive or intent of that sort. Nor, again, was it held with a view of deliberation; Men take weeks and months and sometimes years, to think out a thing that is surrounded with difficulties; they have to find the clue with much research; enveloped in folds of mystery, they have to take off first one garment and then another, before they find out the naked glorious truth. Not so God. God's deliberations are as flashes of lightning; they are as wise as if he had been eternally considering, but the thoughts of his heart, though swift as lightning, are as perfect as the whole system of the universe. The reason why God is represented as holding a council, if I think rightly, is this: that we might understand how wise God is. "In the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom." It is for us to think that in the council of the Eternal Three, each Person in the undivided Trinity being omniscient and full of wisdom, there must have been the sum total of all wisdom. And again, it was to show the unanimity and co-operation of the sacred persons: God the Father hath done nothing alone in creation or salvation. Jesus Christ hath done nothing alone; for even the work of his redemption, albeit that he suffered in some sense alone, needed the sustaining hand of the Spirit, and the accepting smile of the Father, before it could be completed. God said not, "I will make man," but "Let us make man in our own image." God saith not merely, "I will save," but the inference from the declarations of Scripture is, that the design of the three persons of the blessed Trinity was to save a people to themselves, who should show forth their praise. It was, then, for our sakes, not for God's sake, the council was held that we might know the unanimity of the glorious persons, and the deep wisdom of their devices. Yet another remark concerning the council. It may be asked, "What were the topics deliberated upon at that first council, which was held before the day-star knew its place, and planets ran their round?" We reply, "The first topic was creation." We are told in the passage we have read, (Proverbs viii,) that the Lord Jesus Christ, who represents himself as Wisdom, was with God before the world was created, and we have every reason to believe that we are to understand this as meaning, that he was not only with God in company, but with God in co-operation. Besides, we have other Scriptures to prove that "all things were made by him and without him was not any thing made that was made." And to quote yet another passage that clinches this truth. God said, "Let us make man;" so that a part of the consultation was with reference to the making of worlds, and the creatures that should inhabit them. I believe that in the sovereign council of eternity, the mountains were weighed in scales, and the hills in balances; then was it fixed in sovereign council how far the sea should go, and where should be its bounds when the sun should arise and come forth, like a giant from the chambers of his darkness, and when he should return again to his couch of rest. Then did God decree the moment when he should say, "Let there be light," and the moment when the sun should be turned into darkness, and the moon into a clot of blood. Then did he ordain the form and size of every angel, and the destinies of every creature; then did he sketch in his infinite thought, the eagle as he soared to heaven and the worm as he burrowed into the earth. Then the little as well as the great, the minute as well as the immense, came under the sovereign decree of God. There was that book written, of which Dr. Watts sings
"Chained to his throne a volume lies, With all the fates of men, With every angel's form and size, Drawn by th' eternal pen."
Christ was a Counsellor in the matter of creation; with none else took he counsel; none else instructed him. Christ was the Counsellor for all the wondrous works of God. The second topic that was discussed in this council was the work of Providence. God does not act towards this world like a man who makes a watch, and lets it have its own way till it runs down; he is the controller of every wheel in the machine of providence. He has left nothing to itself. We talk of general laws, and philosophers tell us that the world is governed by laws, and then they put the Almighty out of the question. Now, how can a nation be governed by laws apart from a sovereign, or apart from magistrates and rulers to carry out the laws? All the laws may be in the statute book, but put all the police away, take away every magistrate, remove the high court of parliament, what is the use of laws? Laws cannot govern without active agency to carry them out; nor could nature proceed in its everlasting cycles, by the mere force of law. God is the great motive-power of all things; he is in everything. Not only did he make all things, but by him all things consist. From all eternity, Christ was the Counsellor of his Father with regard to providence when the first man should be born, when he should wander, and when he should be restored when the first monarchy should rise, and when its sun should set where his people should be placed, how long they should be placed, and where they should be moved. Was it not the Most High who divided to the nations their inheritance? Hath he not appointed the bounds of our habitation? Oh! heir of heaven, in the day of the great council Christ counselled his Father as to the weight of thy trials, as to the number of thy mercies, if they be numerable, and as to the time, the way, and the means whereby thou shouldst be brought to himself. Remember, there is nothing that happens in your daily life, but what was first of all devised in eternity, and counselled by Jesus Christ for your good and in your behalf, that all things might work together for your lasting benefit and profit. But, my friends, what unfathomable depths of wisdom must have been involved, when God consulted with himself with regard to the great book of providence! Oh, how strange providence seems to you and to me! Does it not look like a zig-zag line, this way and that way, backward and forward, like the journeyings of the children of Israel in the wilderness? Ah! my brethren, but to God it is a straight line. Directly, God always goes to his object. and yet to us, he often seems to go round about. Ah! Jacob, the Lord is about to provide for thee in Egypt, when there is a famine in Canaan, and he is about to make thy son Joseph great and mighty. Joseph must be sold for a slave; he must be accused wrongfully, he must be put into the pit, and in the round-house prison he must suffer. But God was going straight to his purpose all the while: he was sending Joseph before them into Egypt that they might be provided for, and when the good old patriarch said, "All these things are against me," he did not perceive the providence of God, for there was not a solitary thing in the whole list that was against him, but everything was ruled for his weal. Let us learn to leave providence in the hand of the Counsellor, let us rest assured that he is too wise to err in his predestination, and too good to be unkind, and that in the council of eternity, the best was ordained that could have been ordained that if you and I had been there, we could not have ordained half so well, but that we should have made ourselves eternal fools by meddling therewith. Rest certain, that in the end we shall see that all was well, and must be well for ever. He is "Wonderful, the Counsellor," for he counselled in matters of providence. And now with regard to matters of grace. These were also discussed in the everlasting council. When the Three Divine Persons in the solemn seclusion of their own loneliness consulted together with reference to the works of grace, one of the first things they had to consider was, how God should be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly how the world should be reconciled unto God. Hence you read in the book of Zechariah, if you turn to the sixth chapter and the thirteenth verse, this passage "The council of peace shall be between them both." The Son of God with his Father and the Spirit, ordained the council of peace. Thus was it arranged. The Son must suffer, he must be the substitute, must bear his people's sins and be punished in their stead; the Father must accept the Son's substitution and allow his people to go free, because Christ had paid their debts. The Spirit of the living God must then cleanse the people whom the blood had pardoned, and so they must be accepted before the presence of God, even the Father. That was the result of the great council. But O my brethren, if it had not been for that council, what a question would have been left unsolved? Neither you nor I could ever have thought how the two should meet together how mercy and justice should kiss each other over the mountain of our sins. I have always thought that one of the greatest proofs that the gospel is of God, is its revelation that Christ died to save sinners. That is a thought so original, so new so wonderful; you have not got it in any other religion in the world; so that it must have come from God. As I remember to have heard an un-schooled and illiterate man say, when I first told him the simple story of how Christ was punished in the stead of his people: he burst out with an air of surprise, "Faith! that's the gospel, I know; no man could have made that up; that must be of God." That wonderful thought, that a God himself should die, that he himself should bear our sins, that so God the Father might be able to forgive and yet exact the utmost penalty, is super-human, super-angelic; not even the cherubim and seraphim could have been the inventors of it: but that thought was first struck out from the mind of God in the councils of eternity, when the "Wonderful, the Counsellor," was present with his Father. Again, another part of the great council was this who should be saved, Now my friends, you that like not old Calvinistic doctrine will perhaps be horrified but that I cannot help; I will never modify a doctrine I believe to please any man that walks upon earth; but I will prove from Scripture that I have the warrant of God in this matter, and that it is not my own invention. I say that one part of the council of eternity was the predestination of those whom God had determined to save, and I will read you the passage that proves it. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." The predestination of everyone of God's people was arranged at the eternal council, where God's will sat as the sovereign umpire and undisputed president. There was it said of each redeemed one, "At such an hour I will call him by my grace, for I have loved him with an everlasting love, and by my lovingkindness will I draw him." There was it originated when the peace-speaking blood shall be laid to that elect one's conscience, when the Spirit of the living God shall breathe joy and consolation into his heart. There was it settled how that chosen one should be "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation; and there was it determined and settled by two immutable things, wherein it is impossible for God to lie, that everyone of these should be eternally saved, beyond the shadow of a risk of perishing. The apostle Paul was not like some preachers, who are afraid to say a word about the everlasting council, for he says in his epistle to the Hebrews "God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his council, confirmed it by an oath." Now, you hear some talk about the immutability of the promise: that is good. But the immutability of God's counsel, that is to fathom to the very uttermost the doctrines of grace. The council of God from all eternity is immutable; not one purpose has he ever altered, not one decree has he ever changed, he has nailed his decrees against the pillars of eternity, and though the devils have sought to rend them down from the posts of his magnificent palace, yet, saith he, "have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion;" the decree shall stand; I will do all my pleasure. Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast made the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, thou hast determined thy plans and purposes, and they stand fast for ever and ever. I think I have sufficiently declared how Christ was the Counsellor, in the transcendent affairs of nature, providence, and grace, in the everlasting council-chamber of eternity. But now I would have you notice what a mercy it was that there was such a Counsellor with God, and how fit Christ was to be the Counsellor. Christ himself is wisdom. He chargeth his angels with folly; but he is God only wise himself. If a fool undertake to be a counsellor, his counsel is folly, but when Christ counselled, his counsel was full of wisdom. But there is another qualification necessary for a counsellor. However wise a man be, he has no right to be a counsellor with a king, unless he has some dignity and standing. There may happen to be in my congregation some person of great talent, but if my friend should present himself at the cabinet council and give his advice, he would most probably be unceremoniously dismissed, for they would say, "Art thou of the king's council; if not, what right hast thou to stand here?" Now Christ was glorious; he was equal with his Father, therefore he had a right to counsel God to counsel with God. Had an angel offered his advice to God it would have been as insufferable impertinence; had the cherubim or seraphim volunteered to give so much as one word of counsel it would have been blasphemy. He would take no counsel from his creatures. Why should wisdom stoop from its throne, to counsel with created folly? But because Christ was far above all principalities and powers and every name that is named, therefore he had a right, not only from his wisdom, but from his rank, to be a Counsellor with God. But there is one thing that is always necessary in a man, before we can rejoice in his being a counsellor. There are some counsellors concerning the legislation of our country in whom you or I could not rejoice much, because we feel that in their counsels the most of us would be forgotten. Our farming friends would probably rejoice in them; they will consult their interests, there is not much doubt; but whoever heard of a counsellor yet who counselled for the poor? or who has these many years heard as much as an inkling of the name of a man who really counselled for economy and for the good of his nation. We have plenty of men who promise us that they will counsel for us abundance of men who, if we would but return them to parliament would most assuredly pour forth such wisdom in our behalf that without doubt we should be the most happy and enlightened people in the world according to their promise. but alas! when they get into office they have no hearty sympathy with us; they belong to a different rank from the most of us, they do not sympathize with the wants and the desires of the middle class and of the poor. But, with regard to Christ, we can put every confidence in him, for we know that in that council from eternity he symphathized with man. He says, "My delights were with the sons of men." Happy men to have a counsellor who delights in them! Moreover, he then though he was not man, yet foresaw that he was to be "bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh," and therefore in the counsels of eternity he pleaded his own cause when he pleaded our cause, for he well knew that he was to be tempted in all points like as we are, and was to suffer our sufferings and to be our covenant head in union with ourselves. Sweet Counsellor! I love to think thou wast in the everlasting council, my friend, my brother born for adversity! II. Having thus discussed the first point, I shall proceed to consider briefly the second, according to the translation of the Septuagint. Christ is THE ANGEL OF THE GREAT COUNCIL. Do you and I want to know what was said and done in the great council of eternity? Yes, we do. I will defy any man, whoever he may be, not to want to know something about destiny. What means the ignorance of the common people, when they appeal to the witch, the pretender? when they enquire of the astrologer, and read the book of the pretended soothsayer? Why, it means that man wants to know something about the everlasting council. And what mean all the perplexing researches of certain persons into the prophecies? I consider very often that the inferences drawn from prophecy are very little better, after all, than the guesses of the Norwood gipsey, and that some people who have been so busy in foretelling the end of the world, would have been better employed if they had foretold the end of their own books, and had not imposed on the public by predictions, assaying to interpret the prophecies, without the shadow of a foundation. But, from their credulity we may learn, that among the higher class as well as among the more ignorant, there is a strong desire to know the councils of eternity. Beloved, there is only one glass through which you and I can look back to the dim darkness of the shrouded past, and read the counsels of God, and that glass is the person of Jesus Christ. Do I want to know what God ordained with regard to the salvation of man from before the foundation of the world? I look to Christ; I find that it was ordained in Christ that he should be the first elect, and that a people should be chosen in him. Do you ask the way in which God ordained to save? I answer, he ordained to save by the cross. Do you ask how God ordained to pardon? The answer comes, he ordained to pardon through the sufferings of Christ, and to justify through his resurrection from the dead. Everything that you want to know with regard to what God ordained, everything that you ought to know, you can find out in the person of Jesus Christ. And again, do I long to know the great secret of destiny? I must look to Christ. What mean these wars, this confusion, these garments rolled in blood? I see Christ born of a virgin, and then I read the world's history backwards, and I see that all this led to Christ's coming. I see that all these leaned one upon another, as I have sometimes seen clusters of rocks leaning on each other, and Christ the great leading rock bearing up the superincumbent mass of all past history. And if I want to read the future I look at Christ, and I learn that he who has gone up to heaven, is to come again from heaven in like manner as he went up to heaven. So all the future is clear enough to me. I do not know whether the Pope of Rome is to obtain universal empire or not; I do not mind whether the Russian empire is to swallow up all the nations of the continent; there is one thing I know, God will overturn, overturn, overturn, till he shall come whose right it is to reign; and I know that though the worms devour my body, yet when he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth, in my flesh shall I see God, and there is enough in that for me. All the rest of history is unimportant compared with its end, its issues, its purpose. The end of the first Testament is the first advent of Christ; the end of this second Testament of modern history is the second advent of the Saviour and then shall the book of time be closed. But none could open the Old Testament history and make it out, except through Christ. Abraham could understand it, for he knew that Christ was to come; Christ opened the book for him. And so modern history is never to be understood except through Christ. None but the Lamb can take the book and open every seal; but he who believeth in Christ and looks for his glorious advent, he may open the book and read therein, and have understanding, for in Christ there is a revelation of the eternal councils. "Now," says one, "Sir, I want to know one thing, and if I knew that, I would not care what happened. I want to know whether God from all eternity ordained me to be saved." Well, friend, I will tell you how to find that out, and you may find it out to a certainty. "Nay," says one, "but how can I know that? You cannot read the book of fate; that is impossible." I have heard of some divine, of a very hyper school indeed, who said, "Ah! blessed be the Lord, there are some of God's dear people here; I can tell them by the very look of their faces. I know that they are among God's elect." He was not half so discreet as Rowland Hill, who when he was advised to preach to none but the elect, said, "He would certainly do so if some one would chalk them all on the back first." That was never attempted by anybody, so Rowland Hill went on preaching the gospel to every creature, as I desire to do. But you may find out whether you are among his chosen ones. "How?" says one. Why, Christ is the angel of the covenant, and you can find it out by looking to him. Many people want to know their election before they look to Christ. Beloved you cannot know your election, except as you see it in Christ. If you want to know your election, thus shall you assure your hearts before God. Do you feel yourself this morning to be a lost, guilty sinner? go straightway to the cross of Christ, and tell Christ that, and tell him that you have read in the Bible, "That him that cometh unto him he will in no wise cast out." Tell him that he has said, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom you are chief." Look to Christ and believe on him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for so surely as thou believest thou art elect. If thou wilt give thyself wholly up to Christ and trust him, then thou art one of God's chosen ones; but if you stop and say, "I want to know first whether I am elect," that is impossible. If there be something covered up, and I say, "Now, before you can see this you must lift the veil;" and you say, "Nay, but I want to see right through that veil," you cannot. Lift the veil first and you shall see. Go to Christ guilty, just as you are. Leave all curious inquiry about thy election alone. Go straight away to Christ, just as you are, black, naked, penniless and poor, and say,
"Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling,"
and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to say, "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him." Now do notice this. Christ was at the everlasting council: he can tell you whether you were chosen or not, but you cannot find that out anyhow else. You go and put your trust in him, and I know what the answer will be. His answer will be "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore in lovingkindness have I drawn thee." There will be no doubt about his having chosen you, when you shall feel no doubt about having chosen him. So much for the second point. Christ is the Counsellor. He is the angel of the council, because he tells out God's secrets to us. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." III. The last point was, Christ is A COUNSELLOR TO US. And here I shall want to give some practical hints to God's people. Some how or other, brethren, it is not good for man to be alone. A lonely man must be, I think, a miserable man, and a man without a Counsellor, I think, must of necessity go wrong. "Where there is no counsellor," says Solomon, "the people fall." I think most persons will find it so. A man says, "Well, I'll have my own way, and I will ask nobody." Have it, sir, have it and you will find that in having your own way you have probably had the worst way you could. We all feel our need at times of a counsellor. David was a man after God's own heart and dealt much with his God; but he had his Ahithophel, with whom he took sweet council, and they walked to the house of God in company. Kings must have some advisers. Woe unto the man that hath got a bad counsellor. Rehoboam took counsel of the young men, and not of the old men, and they counselled him so that he lost ten-twelfths of his empire. Some take counsel of stocks and stones. We know many who counsel at the hands of foolish charms, instead of going to Christ. They shall have to learn that there is but one Christ, who is to be trusted; and that however necessary a Counsellor may be, yet none other shall be found to fulfill the necessity, but Jesus Christ the Counsellor. Let me make a remark or two with regard to this Counsellor, Jesus Christ. And, first, Christ is a necessary Counsellor. So sure as we do anything without asking counsel of God we fall into trouble. Israel made a league with Gibeon, and it is said, they took of their victuals, and they asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord, and they found out that the Gibeonites had deceived them. If they had asked counsel first, no cunning deception could have imposed on them in the matter. Saul, the son of Kish, died before the Lord upon the mountains of Gilboa, and in the book of Chronicles it is written, he died because he asked not counsel of God, but sought unto the wizards. Joshua, the great commander, when he was appointed to succeed Moses, was not left to go alone, but it is written, "And Eliezer the priest shall be his counsellor, and he shall ask counsel of the Lord for him." And all the great men of olden times, when they were about to do an action, paused, and they said to the priest, "Bring hither the ephod," and he put on the Urim and the Thummim, and appealed to God, and the answer came, and sound advice was vouchsafed. You and I will have to learn how necessary it is always to take advice of God. Did you ever seek God's advice on your knees about a difficulty and then go amiss? Brethren, I can testify for my God that when I have submitted my will to his directing Spirit, I have always had reason to thank him for his wise counsel. But when I have asked at his hands, having already made up my own mind, I have had my own way, but like as he fed the Israelites with the quails of heaven, while the meat was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Let us take heed always that we never go before the cloud. He that goes before the cloud goes a fool's errand, and will be glad to get back again. An old puritan used to say, "He that carves for himself will cut his fingers. Leave God to carve for you in providence, and all shall be well. Seek God's guidance and nothing can go amiss." It is necessary counsel. In the next place, Christ's counsel is faithful counsel. When Ahithophel left David, it proved that he was not faithful, and when Hushai went to Absalom and counselled him, he counselled him craftily, so that the good counsel of Ahithophel was brought to nought. Ah! how often do our friends counsel us craftily! We have known them do so. They have looked first to their own advantage, and then they have said, "If I can get him to do so-and-so it will be the best for me." That was not the question we asked them. It was what would be best for ourselves. But we may trust Christ, that in his advice to us there never will be any self-interest. He will be quite certain to advise us with the most disinterested motives, so that the good shall be to us, and the profit to ourselves. Again, Christ's counsel is hearty counsel. I hate to go to a lawyer above all people, to talk with him upon matters of business. The worst kind of conversation is, I think, conversation with a lawyer. There is your case! Dear me, what an interest you feel in it! You spread it out before him, and he says, "There is a word upon the second page not quite correct." You look at it, and you say, "Ah! that is totally unimportant; that does not signify." He turns to another clause and he says, "Ah! there is a good deal here!" "My dear fellow, you any, "I do not care about those petty clauses, whether it says lands, properties, or hereditaments: what I want you to do is to set this difficulty right in point of law." "Be patient" he says; you must go through a great many consultations before he will come the point, and all the while your poor heart is boiling over because you feel such an interest in the main point. But he is as cool as possible; you think you are asking counsel of a block of marble. No doubt his advice will come out all right at last, and it is pretty certain it will be good for you; but it is not hearty. He does not enter into the sympathies of the matter with you. What is it to him whether you succeed or not whether the object of your heart shall be accomplished or not. It is but a professional interest he takes. Now, Solomon says, "As ointment for perfume, so is hearty counsel." When a man throws his own soul into your ease, and says, "My dear friend, I'll do anything I can to help you. let me look at it," and he takes as deep an interest in it as you do yourself. "If I were in your position," he says, "I should do so-and-so, by-the-bye, there is a word wrong there." Perhaps he tells you so, but he only tells you because he is anxious to have it all right; and you can see that his drift is always towards the same end you are seeking, and that he is only anxious for your good. Oh! for a Counsellor that could tie your heart into unison with his own! Now Christ is such a Counsellor as that. He is a hearty Counsellor. His interests and your interests are bound up together, and he is hearty with you. But there is another kind of counsel still. David says of one, who afterwards became his enemy, "We took sweet counsel together." Christian, do you know what sweet counsel is? You have gone to your Master in the day of trouble, and in the secret of your chamber you have poured out your heart before him. You have laid your case before him, with all its difficulties, as Hezekiah did Rabshakeh's letter, and you have felt, that though Christ was not there in flesh and blood, yet he was there in spirit, and he counselled you. You felt that his was counsel that came from the very heart. But he was something better than that. There was such a sweetness coming with his counsel, such a radiance of love, such a fullness of fellowship, that you said, " Oh that I were in trouble every day, if I might have such sweet counsel as this!" Christ is the Counsellor whom I desire to consult every hour, and I would that I could sit in his secret chamber all day and all night long, because to counsel with him is to have sweet counsel, hearty counsel, and wise counsel, all at the same time. Why, you may have a friend that talks very sweetly with you, and you will say, "Well, he is a kind, good soul, but I really cannot trust his judgment." You have another friend, who has a good deal of judgment, and yet you say of him, "Certainly, he is a man of prudence above a great many, but I cannot find out his sympathy; I never get at his heart, if he were ever so rough and untutored, I would sooner have his heart without his prudence, than his prudence without his heart," But we go to Christ, and we get wisdom; we get love, we get sympathy, we get everything that can possibly be wanted in a Counsellor. And now we must close by noticing that Christ has special councils for each of us this morning, and what are they? Tried child of God, your daughter is sick; your gold has melted in the fire; you are sick yourself, and your heart is sad. Christ counsels you, and he says, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, he will sustain thee; he will never suffer the righteous to be moved." Young man, you that are seeking to be great in this world, Christ counsels you this morning. "Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not." I shall never forget Midsummer Common. I was ambitious; I was seeking to go to college, to leave my poor people in the wilderness that I might become something great; and as I was walking there that text came with power to my heart "Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not." I suppose about forty pounds a year was the sum total of my income, and I was thinking how I should make both ends meet, and whether it would not be a great deal better for me to resign my charge and seek something for the bettering of myself, and so forth. But this text ran in my ears "Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not." "Lord," said I, "I will follow thy counsel and not my own devices;" and I have never had cause to regret it. Always take the Lord for thy guide, and thou shalt never go amiss. Backslider! thou that hast a name to live, and art dead, or nearly dead, Christ gives thee counsel. "I counsel thee to buy of me, gold tried in the fire and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed." And sinner! thou that art far from God, Christ gives thee counsel. "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest," Depend on it, it is loving counsel. Take it. Go home and cast yourself upon your knees. Seek Christ, obey his counsel, and you shall have to rejoice that you ever listened to his voice, and heard it, and lived.
His Name the Mighty God
June 19th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"The mighty God." Isaiah 9:6 .
Other translations of this divine title have been proposed by several very eminent and able scholars. Not that they have any of them been prepared to deny that this translation is after all most accurate; but rather that whilst there are various words in the original, which we render by the common appellation of "GOD," it might be possible so to interpret this as to show more exactly its definite meaning. One writer, for example, thinks the term might be translate! "The Irradiator," he who gives light to men. Some think it bears the meaning of "The Illustrious," the bright and the shining one. Still there are very few, if any, who are prepared to dispute the fact that our translation is the most faithful that could possibly be given the mighty God." The term here used for God, El, is taken from a Hebrew or root, which, as I take it, signifies strength; and perhaps a literal translation even of that title might be, "The Strong one," the strong God. But there is added to this an adjective in the Hebrew, expressive of mightiness, and the two taken together express the omnipotence of Christ, his real deity and his omnipotence, as standing first and foremost among the attributes which the prophet beheld. "The mighty God." I do not propose this morning to enter into any argument in proof of the divinity of Christ, because my text dues not seem to demand it of me. It does not say that Christ shall be "the mighty God," that is affirmed in many other places of Sacred writ; but here it says, "He shall be called Wonderful," called "Counsellor," called, "The mighty God;" and I think that therefore I may be excused from entering into any proof of the fact, if I am at least able to establish the truth of that which is here foretold, inasmuch as Christ is indeed called at this day, and shall be called to the end of the world, "the mighty God." First, this morning, I shall speak for a moment on the folly of those who profess to be his followers, but who do not call him "the mighty God." In the second place I shall try to show how the true believer practically calls Christ "the mighty God," in many of the acts which concern his salvation; and then I shall close by noticing how Jesus Christ has proved himself to be indeed "the mighty God " to us, and in the experience of his church. I. First let note point out THE FOLLY OF THOSE WHO PROFESS TO BE THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, YET DO NOT, AND WILL, NOT, CALL HIM GOD. The question has sometimes been proposed to me, how it is that those of us who hold the divinity of Christ manifest what is called uncharitableness towards those who deny him. We do continually affirm that an error, with regard to the divinity of Christ, is absolutely fatal, and that a man cannot be right in his judgment upon any part of the gospel unless he think rightly of him who is personally the very center of all the purposes of heaven, and the foundation of all the hopes of earth. Nor can we admit of any latitudinarianism here. We extend the right hand of fellowship to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; but we cannot exchange our Christian greetings with those who deny him to be "very God of very God." And the reason is sometimes asked; for say our opponents, "We are ready to give the right hand of fellowship to you, why don't you do so to us?" Our reply shall be given thus briefly: "You have no right to complain of us, seeing that in this matter we stand on the defensive When you declare yourselves to believe that Christ is not the Son of God, you may not be conscious of it, but you have charged us with one of the blackest sins in the entire cataligue of crime. "The Unitarians must, to be existent, charge the whole of us, who worship Christ, with being idolators. Now idolatry is a sin of the most heinous character; it is not an offense against men it is true, but it is an intolerable offense against the majesty of God. We are ranked by Unitarians, if they be consistent, with the Hottentots. "No," say they, "we believe that you are sincere in your worship." So is the Hottentot; he bows down before his Fetich, his block of wood or stone, and he is an idolator; and although you charge us with bowing before a man, yet we do hold that you have laid at our cool a sin insufferably gross, and we are obliged to repel your accusation with some severity. You have so insulted us by denying the Godhead of Christ, you have charged us with so great a crime, that you cannot expect us to sit coolly down and blandly smile at the imputation. It matters not what a Man worships, if it be not God, he is an idolater. There is no distinction in principle between worship to a god of mud and a god of gold, nay further, there is no distinction between the worship of an onion and the worship of the sun, moon, and stars. These are alike idolatries. And though Christ be confessed by the Socinian to be the best of men, perfection's own self; yet if he be nothing more, the vast mass of the Christian world is deliberately assailed with the impudent accusation of being idolators. Yet those who charge us with idolatry, expect us to receive them with cordial kindness. It is not in flesh and blood for us to do so, if we take the low ground of reason; it is not in grace or truth to do so, if we take the high ground of revelation. As wren, we are willing to shew them respect, we regard them, we pray for them, we have no anger or enmity against them. But when we come to the point of theology, we cannot as we profess to be followers of Christ, tamely see ourselves charged with an offense so dreadful and so heinous as that of idol worship. I confess I would almost rather be charged with a religion that extenuated murder, than with one that justified idolatry. Murder, great as the offense is, is but the slaying of man; but idolatry is in its essence the killing of God; it is the attempt to thrust the Eternal Jehovah out of his seat, and to foist into his place the work of his own hang, or the creature of my own conceit. Shall a man charge me with being so besotted as to worship a mere many shall he tell me I am so low and groveling in my intellect, that I should stoop down to worship my own fellow creature? and yet does he expect me after that to receive him as a brother professing the same faith? I cannot understand his presumption. The charge against our sanctity of heart is so tremendous, the accusation is so frightful, that if there have been some severity and bitterness of temper in the controversy, the sin lies upon our opponent, and not on us. For he has charged us with a crime so dreadful, that an upright man must repel it as an insult. But to go further; if Jesus Christ be not a Divine person if I could once imagine that he was no more than a mere man, I should prefer Mahomet to Christ; and if you ask me why, I think I could clearly prove to demonstration, that Mahomet was a greater prophet than Christ. If Jesus Christ be not the Son of God, coequal, co-eternal with the Father, he so spoke as to induce that belief in the minds of his own disciples, and of his adversaries likewise. Mahomet, with regard to the unity of the Godhead, is so clear and so distinct, that there is no Mahometan to this day, that has ever fallen into idolatry. You will find that throughout the whole of the Mahometan world the cry is still sternly uttered and faithfully believed, "There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet." Now, if Christ were but a good man and a prophet, why did he not speak more decisively? Why has he not left on record a war cry for the Christian, which would be as explicit and decisive as that of Mahomet? If Christ did not mean to teach that he himself is God, at least he was not very clear and definite in his denial and he has left his disciples extremely in the dark, the proof whereof is to be found in the fact, that at the present day, nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand of the whole of the professed followers of Christ, do receive him, and bow down before him, as being the very God. And if he it not God, I deny his right to be esteemed as a prophet. If he is not God, he was an impostor, the grandest, the greatest of deceivers that ever existed. This, of course, is no argument to the man who denies the faith, and does not avow himself to be a follower of Christ. But to the man that it Christ's follower, I do hold that the argument is irresistible, that Christ could not have been a good and great prophet, if he were not what ho certainly led us to believe himself to be, the Son of God, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, he very God, by whom all things were made, and without whom was not anything made that is made. I will say yet another thing, which may startle the believer, but which is intended rather to reduce the heterodox doctrine of Christ not being God, to an absurdity, If Christ were not the Son of God, his death, so far from being a satisfaction for sin, was a death most richly and righteously deserved. The Sanhedrim before which He was tried was the recognized and authorised legislature of the country. He was brought before that Sanhedrim, charged with blasphemy, and it was upon that charge that they condemned him to die, because he made himself the Son of God. Now, I do not hesitate honestly to aver, that if I had been called on to plead in that ease, I should have pleaded an avowal, and that moreover, I should have stood up, and said and felt, that I had a clear case before me, which nothing but lying and perjury could ever have put on one side, if Jesus of Nazareth had been charged with having declared himself to be the Son of God. Why, his whole preaching seemed to derive from thence it's unrivalled authority. There was continually in his actions and in his words, a claim to be something more than man ever could lay claim to. And when he was brought before the Sanhedrim, witnesses enough might have been found, to prove that he had made himself the Son of God; if he were not so, his condemnation for blasphemy was the justest sentence that ever was pronounced, and his crucifixion on Calvary, was absolutely the most righteous execution that ever was performed by the hand of the government. It is his being verily God, that frees him from the charge of blasphemy, It is the fact that he is God. and that his Godhead is not to be denied, that makes his death an unrighteous decide at the hand of apostate man, and renders it, as before God, an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of all the people whom he redeemed with his most precious blood But if he be not God, I do repeat, that there is no reason whatever, Why we should have had a New Testament written; for there would be then nothing in the sublime central-fact of that New Testament but the righteous execution of one, who certainly deserved to die. Do you remember, my dear friends, when the apostle Paul was preaching on the resurrection of the dead, in his letter to the Corinthians, how he uses an ex post facto argument, to shoe, the natural consequences, if it were possible to overturn the truths He says, "If Christ be not risen, then is mar preaching vain,and your faith is also vain, and ye are yet in your sins." Now, I may fairly use the apostle's line of argument in reference to the Godhead and Sonship of Christ, of which his resurrection gave such a palpable demonstration: "If Christ be not the Son of God, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain, and ye are yet in your sins all our visions of heaven are blasted and withered; the brightness of our hope is quenched for ever; that rock on which our trust is built, turns out to be nothing better than mere sand if the divinity of Christ be not proved. All the joy and consolation we ever had in this world, in our belief that his blood was sufficient to atone for sin, has been but a dream of fancy and a "figment of idle brains;" all the communion we have ever had with him has been but an illusion and a trance, and all the hopes we have of beholding his face in glory, and of being satisfied when we awake in his likeness, are but the foulest delusions that ever cheated the hopes of man. Oh, my brethren, and can any of you believe that the blood of all the martyrs has been shed as a witness to a lie? Have all those who have rotted in Roman dungeons, or have been burned at the stake because they witnessed that Christ was God, died in vain? Verily, if Christ be not God, we are of all men the most miserable. To what purpose is the calumny and abuse that we have had to endure day after day; to what purpose are our repentance, our sighs, our tears; to what purpose is our faith; to what purpose have our fears and bodings been supplanted by our hope and confidence; to what purpose our joy and our rejoicing, if Christ be not the Son of God? Will you put yourselves all down for fools; can you imagine that God's Word has misguided you; that prophets and apostles, and martyrs and saints, have all leagued together to lead you into a trap and to delude your souls? God forbid that we should think such a thing. There is no folly in the world that has in it so much as a do it of madness, compared with the folly of denying the divinity of Christ, and then professing to be his followers. No, beloved:
"Let all the forms that men devise, Assault our faith with treacherous art; We'll call them vanity and lies, And bind the gospel to our heart!"
We will write this on the forefront of our banner, Christ is God; co-equal and co-eternal with his Father; very God of very God, who counted it not robbery to be equal with God." II. This brings me to the second part of the subject: HOW DO WE CALL CHRIST "THE DIGNITY GOD?" Here there is no dispute whatever; I am now about to speak of matters of pure fact. Whether Christ be mighty God or not, it is quite certain that we are in the constant habit of calling him so. Not, I mean, by the mere utterance of the term, but we do so in a stronger way n fact; and actions speak louder than words. Now, beloved, I will soon prove that you and I are in the habit of calling Christ God. And I will prove it first, because it is our delight, and our joy and our privilege to attribute to him the attributes of Deity. In hours of devout contemplation, how often do we look up to him as being the Eternal Son. You and I sit down in our chambers, and in our house of prayer, and as we muse upon the great covenant of grace, we are in the habit of speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ's everlasting love to his people. This is one of the jewels of our life, one of the ornaments with which we array ourselves as a bride doth. This is a part of the manna that tasteth like wafers made with honey upon which our souls are wont to feed. We speak of God's eternal love, of our names having been inscribed in his eternal book, and of Christ's having borne them from before the foundation of the world upon his breast, as our great high-priest, our remembrancer before the throne of heaven. In so doing, we have virtually called him the mighty God; because none but God could have been from everlasting to everlasting. As often as we profess the doctrine of election, we call Christ the mighty God; as often as me talk of the eternal covenant, ordered in all things and sure, so often do we proclaim him to be God: because we speak of him as an everlasting one, and none could be from everlasting but one who is self-existent, who is God. Again: how frequently do we repeat over to ourselves that precious verse, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." We are always in the habit of ascribing to him immutability. Some of our choicest hymns are founded on that circumstance, and our richest hopes flow from that attribute. We know that all things will change. We are convinced that we ourselves are mutable as the winds, and as easily moved as the sand by the waves of the sea; but we know that our Redeemer liveth, and we cannot entertain a suspicion of any change in his love, his purpose, or his power How often do we sing:
"Immutable his will Though dark may be my frame, His loving heart is still Unchangeably the same. My soul through many changes goes: His love no variation knows!"
Do you not see that you have in fact called him God, because none but God is immutable? The creature changes. This is written on the forefront of creation "Change!" The mighty ocean, that knows no furrows on its brow, changeth at times, and at times shifteth its level. It moveth hither and thither, and we know that it is to be licked up with forked tongues of flame, and yet we ascribe to Christ immutability. We do, then, in fact, ascribe to him, divinity; for, none but the divine can be immutable. Is it not also our joy to believe that wherever two or three are gathered together in Christ's name, there is he in the midst of them? Do we not repeat it in all our prayer-meetings? Perhaps some minister in Australia began the solemnities of public worship this day with the reflection that Jesus Christ was with him, according to his promise, and I know that as I came here the same reflection comforted me, "Yea, I am with you always even to the end of the world," That wherever a Christian is found, there God is. And though there be but two or three met in a barn, or on the greensward under the canopy of God's blue sky, yet there Christ vouchsafes his presence. Now I ask you, have we not ascribed to Christ, omnipresence; and who can be omnipotent but God? Have we not thus in feet then, though not in words, called Christ "God?" How is it possible for us to dream of Him as being here, and there, and everywhere; in the bosom of his Father, with the angels, and in the hearts of the contrite all at the same time, if he be not God? Grant me that he is omnipresent, and you have said that he is God, for none but God can be present everywhere. Again, are we not also wont to ascribe to Christ omnisience? You believe when your heart is aching that Christ knows your pains, and that he reckons every groan; or at least if you do not believe it, it is always my satisfaction to know that
"He feels at his heart, All my sighs and my groans."
And so he does yours. Wherever you are, you believe that he hears your prayers that he sees your tears, that he knows your wants, that he is ready to pardon your sins; that you are better known to him, than you are to yourself. You believe that he searches your hearts, and tries your reins, and that you never can come to him without finding him full of sympathy, and full of love. Now do you not see that you have ascribed conscience to him. and therefore, though not in words, you have, in accents louder than words, called him the mighty God, for you have assumed that he is omniscient; and who can be omniscient but the very God of very God? I shall not stop to descant upon the other attributes, but I think we might prove that we have each of us ascribed to Christ all the attributes of the Godhead in our daily life and in our constant trust and intercession. I am sure that it is true of many loving hearts of God's own children here. We have called him the mighty God, and it others have not called him so, nevertheless the text is verified by our faith. "He shall be called wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God." So he is, and so he shall be, world without end. And now I have another proof to offer, that Christ is called "the mighty God." We call him so in many of his offices. We believe this morning that Christ is the mediator between God and man If we would understand the term mediator or daysman, we must interpret it as Job did; one "that might lay his hand upon us both." We are accustomed to say that Jesus Christ is the mediator of the new covenant, and we offer our prayers to God through him, because we believe that he mediates between us and the Father. Let it once be granted then that Christ is the mediator, and you have asserted his divinity. You have virtually called him the Son of God; and you have granted his humanity, for he must put his hand upon both; therefore he must put his hand upon man in our nature, he must be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and be in all points like as we are. But he is not a mediator unless he can put his hand upon God, unless as fellow of the Eternal One he shall be able without blasphemy to place his hand upon the divine Being. There is no mediatorship unless the hand is put on both and who could put his hand on God but God? Can cherubim or seraphim talk of laying their hands on the Divine? Shall they touch the Infinite? "Dark with insufferable light his skirts appear" then what is He Himself in the glorious Essence of Deity? an all-devouring and consuming fire. Only God can put his hand on God, and yet Christ hath this high prerogative, for mark, there is no mediatorship established, there cannot be, unless the two are linked. If you wished to build a bridge you might commence on this aide of the river, but if you have not connected it with the other aide, you have not built the bridge. There can be no mediatorship unless the parties are fully linked. The ladder must have its feet on earth but it must reach to heaven, for if there were a single breach we should fall from its summit and perish. There must be entire communication between the two. Do you not see therefore that in calling Christ mediator we have in feet called him the mighty God. But again, we call Christ our Saviour. Now, have any of you that foolish credulity which would lead you to trust in a man for the everlasting salvation of your soul? If you have, I pity you: your proper place is not in a Protestant assembly, but among the deluded votaries of Rome. If you can commit the keeping of your soul to one like yourself, I must indeed mourn over you, and pray that you may be taught better. But you do trust your salvation to him whom God hath set forth for a propitiation, do you not, O follower of Jesus? Can you not say all your hope is fixed on him, for he is all your salvation and all your desire? Does not your spirit rest on that unbuttressed pillar of his entire satisfaction, his precious death and burial, his glorious resurrection and ascension? Now, observe, you are either resting on man, or else you have declared Christ to be "the mighty God." When I say I put my faith in him, I do most honestly declare that I dare not trust even to him, if I did not believe him to be God. I could not put my trust in any being that was merely, created. God forbid that my folly should ever go to such an extent as that. I would sooner trust myself than trust any other man, and yet I dare not trust myself, for I should be accursed. "Cursed is he that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm. "And would the Socinian have me to believe that I am to preach faith in Christ, and that yet, if my hearers trust Christ, they will be accursed, as they assuredly meat be, if he is nothing but man, for again I repeat it, "cursed is he that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." You get a blessing by faith in Jesus, but how? Is it not because "Blessed is he that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the lord is? "Christ is very Jehovah, and therefore the blessing comes to those who trust in him. So, then, as often as ye put your trust in Jesus, for time and eternity, ye have called hind "the mighty God." This subject is capable of the greatest expansion, and I do believe there is sufficient interest attaching to it to warrant me in keeping you to a late hour this day, but I shall not do so. There has been enough said, I think, to prove at least, that we are in the habit continually of calling Christ "the mighty God." III. My third proposition is to explain to you now CHRIST HAS PROVED HIMSELF TO US TO BE "THE MIGHTY GOD." And here beloved, without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness, for the passage from which the text is taken says, "Unto us a child is born." A child! what can that do? A child it totters in its walk, it trembles in its steps and it is a child newly born. Born! what an infant hanging on its mother's breast, an infant deriving its nourishment from a woman? That! can that work wonders? Yea, saith the prophet, "Unto us a child is born." But then it is added, "Unto us a Son is given." Christ was not only born, but given. As man he is a child born, as God he is the Son given. He emotes down from ml high; he is given by God to become our Redeemer. But here behold the wonder! "His name is name," this child's name, "shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God." Is this child, then, to us the mighty God? If so, 0 brethren, without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness indeed! And yet, just let us look, look through the history of the church, and discover whether we have not ample evidence to substantiate it. This child born, this Son given, came into the world to enter into the lists against sin. For thirty years and upwards he had to struggle and wrestle against temptations more numerous and more terrible than man had ever known before. Adam fell when but a woman tempted him; Eve fell when but a serpent offered fruit to her, but Christ, the second Adam, stood invulnerable against all the shafts of Satan though tempted he was in all points, like as we are. Not one arrow out of the quiver of hell was spared; the whole were shot against him. Every arrow was aimed against him with all the might of Satan's are here, and that is no little! And yet, without sin or taint of sin, more then conqueror he stood. Foot to foot with Satan, in the solitude of the wilderness hand to hand with him on the top of the pinnacle of the temple; side by side with him in the midst of a busy crowd yet ever more than conqueror. He gave him battle wherever the adversary willed to meet him, and at last, when Satan gathered up all his might, and seized the Saviour in the garden of Gethsemne, and crushed him till he sweat as it were greet drops of blood, then when the Saviour said, "Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt," the tempter was repulsed. "Hence, hence!" Christ seemed to say; and away the tempter fled, nor dare return again. Christ, in all his conquests over sin, does seem to me to have established his Godhead. I never heard of any other creature that could endure such temptation as this. Look at the angels in heaven. How temptation entered there I know not; but this I know, that Satan, the great archangel, sinned, and I know that he became the tempter to the rest of his companions, and drew with him a third part of the stars of heaven. Angels were but little tempted, some of them not tempted at all, and yet they fell. And then look at man; slight was his temptation, yet he fell. It is not in a creature to stand against temptation; he will yield, if the temptation be strong enough. But Christ stood, and it seems to me, that in his standing he proved Himself to have the omni-radient purity, the immaculate holiness of Him before whom angels veil their faces, and cry, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth." But these proofs might appear insufficient, if he did not accomplish more than this. We know also that Christ proved himself to be the "mighty God" from the feet that at last all the sins of all his people were gathered upon his shoulders, and "he bare them in his own body on the tree." The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of mountains. All the tributary streams of iniquity, and every drop of the sins of his people, ran down and gathered into one vast lake, deep as hell, and shoreless as eternity. All these met, as it were, in Christ's heart, and yet he endured them all. With many a sign of human weakness, but with convincing signs of divine omnipotence, he took all our griefs and carried all our sorrows. The divinity within strengthened his manhood, and though wave after wave rolled over his head, till he sank in deep mire where there was no standing, and all Gods waves and his billows had gone over him, yet did he lift up his he ad, and snore than a conqueror, at length, he put the sins of his people to a public execution. They are dead. They have ceased to be; and, if they be sought for, they shall not be found any more for ever. Certainly if this be true, he is "the mighty God" indeed. But he did more than this, he descended into the grave, and there he slept, fast fettered with the cold chains of death. But the appointed hour arrives the sunlight of the third day gave the warning, and he snapped the bands of death as if they were but tow, and came forth to life as "the Lord of life and glory." His flesh did not see corruption, for he was not able to be holden by the bands of death. And who shall be the death of death, the plague of the grave, the destroyer of destruction, but God? Who but immortal life, who but the Self-existent, shall trample out the fires of hell; who, but he whose Being is eternal, without beginning, and without end, shall burst the shackles of the grave? He proved himself then, when he led captivity captive, and crushed death and ground his iron limbs to powder he proved himself then to be the mighty God. Oh, my soul, thou canst say, that he has proved himself in thy heart to be a mighty God. Sins, many hath he forgiven thee and relieved thy conscience of the keen sense of guilt, griefs innumerable hath he assuaged, temptations insurmountable hath he overcome; virtues once impossible hath he implanted, grace in its fullness hath he promised, and in its measure hath he given. My soul bears record that what has been done for me could never have been done by a mere man; and you would rise from your seats, I am sure, if it were needful, and say, "Yes, he that hath loved me, washed me from my sins, and made me what I am, must be God, none but God could do what he has done, could bear so patiently, could bless so lavishly, forgive so freely, enrich so infinitely. He is, he must be, we will crown him such "The mighty God." And, in conclusion, lest I weary you, permit me now to say, I beg and beseech of you all present, as God the Spirit shall help you, come and put your trust in Jesus Christ, he is "the mighty God." Oh, Christians, believe him more than ever, east your troubles constantly on him; he is "the mighty God;" go to trim in all your dilemmas, when the enemy cometh in like a flood, this mighty God shall make a way for your deliverance; take to him your griefs, this mighty God can alleviate them all; tell him your backslidings and sins, this mighty God shall blot them out. And, O sinners, ye that feel your need of a Saviour, come to Christ and trust him for he is "the mighty God." Go to your houses, and fall on your knees and confess your sins, and then cast your poor, guilty, helpless, naked, defenceless souls before his omnipotence, for he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him, because when he died he was not manhood, without divinity, but he was "the mighty God." This, I say, we will write on our banners, from this day forth and for ever; this shall be our joy and our song the child bow and the son given is to us "the mighty God."
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 9". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent