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- Godliness - 6/23 -
to His Word.
Instead of this, the faith of many people is like that of a person afflicted with some grievous malady. A friend tells him of a wonderful physician who has cured hundreds of such cases, and gives him abundant evidence that this doctor is able and willing to cure him, if he will only commit himself to his treatment. The sick man may thoroughly believe in the testimony of his friend about this physician, and yet, for some secret reason, he may refuse to put himself into his hands. Now, there are numbers like that with Jesus Christ. They believe He could cure the malady of sin on certain conditions. They believe He is no respecter of persons. They believe He has done it for hundreds as bad as they, and yet there is some reason why they do not _trust Him_. They hold back.
Now, what you want is to give your case into His hands, and say, "Lord Jesus, I come as Thou hast bid me, confessing and forsaking sin. If I could, I would jump out of it now and forever. Thou knowest I come renouncing it, but not having power to save myself from it; and now, Lord Jesus, Thou hast said, "Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out." I do come; Thou dost not cast me out; Thou dost take me; Thou dost receive me. Blessed, Holy Father, I give myself to Thee. I put my sins upon the glorious sacrifice of Thy Son. Thou hast said Thou wilt receive me, and pardon me for His sake. Now, I roll the guilty burden on His bleeding body, and I believe Thy promise, I trust Thee to be as good as Thy word." _That is faith_. "Oh!" said a dear lady, "I do not feel it." No: you must trust first. Mark, not believe you are saved, but believe that He does now save you.
"What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." That is the law of faith. Believe that ye receive it before you feel it; when you receive it then you shall feel it. God shall be true, and every man or devil who contradicts Him, a liar. Throw your arms around the Crucified. Take fast hold of the hand of the Son of God. Put your poor, guilty soul right at the foot of His cross, and say, "Thou dost receive; Thou dost pardon; Thou dost cleanse; Thou dost save;" and keep using the language of faith. I have seen numbers of souls step into liberty repeating these precious words in the first person, "He was wounded for _my_ transgressions, He was bruised for _my_ iniquities, the chastisement of _my_ peace was laid upon Him, and by His stripes _I am_ healed." Keep using the language of faith all the way home to-night. Go into your closet and say, "I am determined to be saved, if there is any such thing as salvation." Resolve that if you perish, you will perish in that room, at the foot of the cross, suing for pardon, and you will get it. I have never known a soul come to this who did not soon get saved. Get into the lifeboat. Put off from the old stranded wreck of your own righteousness or your own efforts; step right into the lifeboat of His broken, bleeding body. Take fast hold, and resolve that you will never let go until the answering Spirit comes into your soul, crying, "Abba, Father," and you shall know of a truth that you have passed from death unto life. The Lord help you. Amen.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.--1 COR. xiii. 13.
It must be a precious thing to be greater than _faith_, and greater than _hope_--it must, indeed, be precious!--and, just in proportion as things are valuable and precious amongst men, so much trouble and risk will human speculators take to counterfeit them. I suppose that in no department of roguery in this roguish world, has there been more time and ingenuity expended, than in making counterfeit money, especially bank notes. Just as wicked men have tried to imitate the most valuable of human productions for their own profit, so the devil has been trying to counterfeit God's most precious things from the beginning, and to produce something so like them that mankind at large should not see the difference, and, perhaps, in no direction has he been so successful as in producing a _Spurious Charity_.--I almost think he has got it to perfection in these days. I don't think he can very well improve on the present copy. This Charity--this love--is God's most precious treasure; it is dearer to His heart than all the vast domains of His universe--dearer than all the glorious beings He has created. So much so, that when some of the highest spirits amongst the angelic bands violated this love, He hurled them from the highest Heaven to the nethermost hell! Why? Not because He did not value those wonderful beings, but because He valued this _love more_. Because He saw that it was more important to the well-being of His universe to maintain the harmony of love in Heaven than to save those spirits who had allowed selfishness to interfere with it. So our Lord says, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven."
The day is coming when He will behold all the dire progeny of this first rebellion fall also. Haste, happy day!
But, let us look for a few minutes at this precious, beautiful Charity. Let us try, first, to define it. What is it?
_First_.--_It is Divine_. It must be shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost.
In vain do we look for this heavenly plant amongst the unrenewed children of men--it grows not on the corrupt soil of human nature; it springs only where the ploughshare of true repentance has broken up the fallow ground of the heart, and where faith in a crucified Saviour has purified it, and where the blessed Holy Spirit has taken permanent possession. It is the love _of_ God--not only love _to_ God, but _like_ God, _from_ God, and fixed on the same objects and ends which He loves. It is a Divine implantation by the Holy Ghost. Perhaps some of you are saying, "Then it is useless for me to try to cultivate it, because I have not got it,--exactly!" You may cut and prune and water forever, but you can never cultivate that which is not planted. Your first work is to get this love shed abroad in your heart. It is one of the delusions of this age that human nature only wants pruning, improving, developing, and it come out right. No, no! Every plant which my Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. If you want this Divine love, you must break up the fallow ground of your hearts, and invite the Heavenly Husbandman to come and sow it--shed it abroad in your soul.
_Secondly_, I want you to note that this love is a Divine principle, in contradistinction to the mere love of instinct. All men have love as an instinct; mere natural love towards those whom they like, or who do well for them. "If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even publicans the same?" Wicked men love one another from mere natural affinity, as the tiger loves its cubs. There is great confusion amongst professors of religion on this subject. They feel sentiments of pity and generosity towards their fellow-men, and they may even give their goods to feed the poor, and yet not have a spark of Divine Charity in their hearts. Saul, after God departed from him, was not wholly destitute of generous feeling respecting his family and kingdom. Dives in hell had some pity for his brethren! But neither of them had a spark of this Divine Charity. Mind you are not deceived; millions are!
Let us note one or two points wherein a spurious and Divine Charity utterly and forever diverge--disagree in nature.
_First._--Spurious Charity is selfish--is never exercised but to gratify some selfish principle in human nature. Thousands of motives inspire it--too many to enumerate; but we will glance at two or three. We read in the context that a man might give his goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burned, and yet be destitute of true Charity.
Now what an anomaly. But we have wonderful illustrations that such a thing is possible. First, a man may do this to support and carry out a favorite system of intellectual belief of which he has become enamored, just as men become absorbed, in politics, or in what they consider the good of their nation, so that they will even go to the cannon's mouth to promote it.
Further, a man may do it in order to merit eternal life. Paul did this when he went about to establish his own righteousness. He tells us afterwards that self was the mainspring of all his zeal. It was all his own exaltation; there was no Divine love; he was an utterly unrenewed, Christless, and selfish man, at the very time he was doing this.
Or, it may be, in the third place, to gratify a naturally generous disposition. I used to say to a generous friend of mine, when he was talking in a confidential way about his giving, and the delight it gave him, attributing it to Divine grace--I used to put my hand on his, and say, "Hold! my friend; I am not so sure it is all grace. You like giving better than other people do receiving. Look out that you do not lose your reward through not taking the trouble to see what you give to; don't give your money to every scheme that comes across you. Remember that you are answerable to God for your wealth, and that God will demand of you HOW you have bestowed your goods." That is true Charity that takes the trouble to investigate relative claims, and tries to find out the best channels in which to give for God's glory and the salvation of men. Don't you put down your generosity to the Holy Ghost if it is not of that kind, for you will never receive a bit of interest for it, here or hereafter--not a fraction!
A false Charity begins in self and ends on earth. Here is a mark for you to distinguish between it and God's Charity. The devil's Charity always contemplates the earthy part of man in a superior degree to the spiritual part; and here it exactly crosses and contradicts the Divine Charity, which always contemplates man in the entirety of his being, and always gives the first importance to the soul.
We have plenty of spurious Charity in these days. The other day when I took up a so-called "religious print," and saw some fulsome things it had been saying about a certain individual, lately dead, I thought, really, would one ever imagine this were a Christian paper, in a Christian country? There is not the slightest recognition of a soul, no reference to the man's spiritual condition or his future state. Here are one or two of the most ordinary human qualifications seized on, and made the most of, to make it out that he was something beyond his fellows, but, as to any recognition of a soul, or of a God who will judge him, of a Heaven or hell, nothing!
Oh, people say, when speaking of Godless, and even wicked men, "You must be _charitable,_ you must not judge." Satan does not care how much of this one-sided Charity there is; the more the better for his purpose; it will make people all the more comfortable in their sins, and get them all the more easily down to hell.
My friends, are you more concerned about relieving temporal distress than you are about feeding famished souls? If you are, you may know where your charity comes from! Don't misrepresent me, and say that I
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