Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD.
|Beggars Should be Willing to Wait||R. Brewin.||Psalm 27:14|
|Brave Waiting||Psalm 27:14|
|Christian Valour||J. H. Jowett, M. A.||Psalm 27:14|
|Divine Strength||T. Pierson.||Psalm 27:14|
|Tarry Thou the Lord's Leisure||H. Black, M. A.||Psalm 27:14|
|The Christian's Strength||Psalm 27:14|
|The Duty of Waiting||Psalm 27:14|
|The Strengthening of the Heart||J. H. Jowett, M. A.||Psalm 27:14|
|The Temptation to Discouragement||T. L. Cuyler, D. D.||Psalm 27:14|
|Wait for an Answer to Prayer||R. Brewin.||Psalm 27:14|
|Waiting on the Lord||Thomas Dale, M. A.||Psalm 27:14|
|Waiting on the Lord||Herrick Johnson, D. D.||Psalm 27:14|
|A Psalm for Life's Storms||Homilist||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Christ the True Light||Canon Liddon.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Confidence in God||T. H. Witherspoon, D. D.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Confidence in God||Monday Club Sermons||Psalm 27:1-14|
|David's Confidence in God||T. Pierson.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|David's Preventive of Fear||D. Davies.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|David's Strength||C. Kingsley, M. A.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Facts and Arguments||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Fear Banished||H. Macmillan, D. D.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Implicit Trust||C. S. Robinson, D. D.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Jehovah's Self-Revelation, and Faith's Response Thereto||C. Clemance ||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Light and Salvation||H. Macmillan, D. D.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|Man's True Light||Henry Drummond.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|The Believer's Freedom from Fear||H. Hyslop.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|The Christian's Boast||The Study||Psalm 27:1-14|
|The Christian's Triumph||J. Hassler, D. D.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|The Divine Light||Canon Liddon.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|The Fearlessness of the Good||W. Forsyth, M. A.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|The Pathway of Power||G. M. Mackie, M. A.||Psalm 27:1-14|
|A Prayer of Desire and Dependence||Matthew Henry, D. D.||Psalm 27:7-14|
|David's Prayer for Audience and Answer||T. Pierson.||Psalm 27:7-14|
|Prayer, a Child's Cry to God||R. Brewin.||Psalm 27:7-14|
|How to Become Strong||C. Short ||Psalm 27:13, 14|
Translation, "Oh, if I had not believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!" "Wait
on the Lord; be strong, and let thine heart take courage; yea, wait on the Lord." The psalmist is speaking to himself, to encourage himself in firmer confidence in God, the believing half of his soul addressing the despondent or weaker half. "I had fainted," or "had perished," is necessary to complete the sense of ver. 13. The passage teaches us how to become strong to meet the dangers
, and afflictions of life.
I. FAITH IN THE GOODNESS OF GOD. (Ver. 13.) The psalmist has a firm assurance that God will make his goodness manifest to us in our personal history. "He is good to all, and his tender mercy is over all his works." That he will be good to us rests on the assurance that he will be good to all, and not because we have any superior or peculiar claim. For goodness is kindness or benevolence to those who have not merited or deserved it by their character or conduct. If we cannot see the manifest proofs that God has been as good to all as he has been to us, we must believe that the evidence will come some time; or, if we cannot see the proofs that he will be good to us - delivering and redeeming us according to our need - we must believe that he is doing all that can be done for us, in seen and unseen ways beyond our power of interpretation.
II. WAITING UPON GOD. This may mean one or both of two things.
1. Service to God. There is nothing so strengthening to our whole nature - nothing that so nerves us to meet danger and difficulties - as the doing all that we know to be the will of God - doing all known duty. An educating, developing power, in obedience to duty, which nothing can take the place of.
2. Waiting for God; or, hope in him. God has his own time and method of doing things. "If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it;" "We are saved by hope."
III. BY CULTIVATING COURAGE. Moral courage. As a habit of the mind, and not only upon occasions; gathering up those considerations that foster and nourish a courageous heart.
1. Our past successes should help us to this, and even some of our failures, when we see how they might have been avoided.
2. God is on our side, and will help with the direct aid of his Spirit all who are aiming at the right.
3. Things are possible to courageous minds which are impossible to weak, cowardly hearts. "Let thine heart be strong." "To him that believeth all things are possible" - believeth in God and believeth in himself. - S.
The Christian soldier is long in learning to wait. Marching and countermarching are much easier to God's warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the willing spirit anxiously desires to serve, but knows not how. Shall it vex itself by despair? fly back in cowardice? turn aside in fear? rush forward in presumption? No; simply wait; but —
Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.
The Church of God has often been in a low, languishing, and, to all human appearance, in a desperate condition; yet one thing, as Solomon says, is set against another, and it has been at such times that His people have realized most fully the comforts of His providence and gracious presence. These stars shine brightest in dark winter nights. How wonderful have been God's deliverances of His people. The Bible is full of such records. And during their trials God does not leave His people comfortless. See this psalm. David here gives his own experience, and he bids us "wait on the Lord." Note —
I. HOW WE ARE TO WAIT ON GOD.
1. In His ordinances. Where did Simeon and Anna wait? Where did Joseph and Mary find Jesus when they had lost Him? He was surprised that they had not thought of the temple, where after three days they found Him. The first place they should have sought Him in was the last they thought of. Nowhere is the sinner more likely, or so likely, to find Him as where the crowd is met and the cross is raised — in His Father's house. Besides the public ordinances of religion, such as the communion table and Sabbath services, in the use of which we are to wait upon the Lord, there are other means of grace at our service; and still more fully within our reach. The communion table is but occasionally spread, and the doors of the church may be thrown open only once a week; but the pages of the Bible are always open, and the gates of prayer, like those of heaven, are never shut. And we are to wait with faith and perseverance. The farmer sows in faith that the harvest season will come, he waits and works for it. Far away from the billows that are breaking out on the sandy shore, the vessel lies upon the beach, doomed as it would seem to rot; why then do men climb her shrouds, and man the yards, and shake out broad sheets of canvas, and loose her moorings, to catch the breeze and bear away across the deep? Theirs are acts of faith; they believe in the law of tides, and that, every billow breaking nearer and nearer, the waters at length shall wash her keel, and, rising on her sides, float her off the sands — they wait and work for that.
II. THEY THAT WAIT ON THE LORD SHALL RECEIVE STRENGTH. Thus God shall make good His promise, "As thy days are, so shall thy strength be." Why, then, it may be asked, do men go from the house of God and from a communion table to be worsted "as at other times before," by the devil, the world, and the flesh? Baptize a withering plant with water, and it lifts up its head, casts off the old leaves, and puts out a fresh crop of buds and blossoms. But why, then, are men not always the better for the ordinances of religion? The plant revives. Why not the soul? The answer is not far to seek. The ordinances of religion are compared to wells of water; but then, they are like Jacob's well. The water lies far below the surface; and to the men of the world, the mere professor of religion who has the name but not the faith of a Christian, we may say, as the woman said to our Lord, "Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep." Faith is, as it were, the rope, and our souls the vessel which we let down into this well to fill them with living water. But that they do no good to some, forms no reason why we should despise, or neglect ordinances. It is no fault in the bread, that, thrust between a dead man's teeth, it does not nourish him. The truth is, that we must have spiritual life to get the benefit of religious ordinances. Water will revive a withering, but not a withered plant; wine will restore a dying, but not a dead man.
No one could be better qualified than David to offer this counsel. Now to you who are tried by the delay of God's promises, as David was, we would explain from the text.
I. THE REMARKABLENESS OF WAITING UPON GOD. For —
1. He alone can supply our need. "Our expectation is from Him," whether it "be spiritual or temporal deliverance that we desire.
2. He is faithful as well as all powerful.
3. And He knows what is best to be done. He has all wisdom. God sees, as we do not, all the consequences of granting our desires.
II. THE NECESSITY OF IT. There is no alternative for us as believers. God is under necessity to be good, He cannot be otherwise; therefore we are under necessity to wait for Him.
III. THE BENEFIT OF SO WAITING. God "will strengthen thine heart." And that there will be good to us arises from —
1. The fact of Christ's intercession for us.
2. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to help us. See the experience of Paul when troubled by "the thorn in the flesh." He waited upon the Lord and he was helped." And so shall it be with us.
This waiting on the Lord must be —
I. AN HUMBLE WAITING. Humility is not so much to think meanly of oneself, as not to think of oneself at all. The high places of God are very low. The lowly in heart find Him.
II. A PATIENT WAITING. In the midst of trial and opposition we are to wait. Patience is born of storm and disaster. Tribulation worketh patience.
III. A PERSISTENT WHITING. Patience shines in persistence more than in acquiescence. The Scotch girl's definition of patience is a true one: "Wait a bit, and dinna weary." Yet patience does not consist in taking things as they come. It is not non-resisting. God likes to be persistently inquired of. Heaven is taken by violence. Those who will not help themselves will not be helped of Heaven.
IV. AN ACTIVE WAITING. Faith without works is dead. Prayer without works is just as dead. The sick man must use the remedy if he would get well. The business man must be fervent in business, the soldier must keep his powder dry. This applies to the work of saving souls. We must use the means within our reach, as well as trust in God. "Wait "is a large word. Take it in its full meaning, and it leaves nothing else for us to do.
I. WAIT IN PRAYER. Call upon God; spread the case before Him; tell Him the difficulty; plead His promises.
II. WAIT IN SIMPLICITY OF SOUL. In dilemmas it is sweet to be humble as a child. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our folly, and are willing to be guided by God's will.
III. WAIT IN FAITH. Express unwavering confidence; for unfaithful, untrusting confidence is an insult to the Lord. Believe that though He keeps us tarrying He will come at the right time and will not tarry.
IV. WAIT IN QUIET PATIENCE. Not rebelling under the affliction, but blessing God for it; nor murmuring against second causes, as the children of Israel against Moses; nor wishing to go back to the world again; but accepting the case as it stands, and putting it simply and whole-heartedly into the hands of our covenant God.
()There are two perils to which Christians are exposed; the one is that under heavy pressure they should start away from the path which they ought to pursue, — the other is lest they .should grow fearful of failure, and so become faint-hearted in their holy course. Both these dangers had evidently occurred to David, and in the text he is led by the Holy Spirit to speak about them. "Do not," he seems to say, "do not think that you are mistaken in keeping to the way of faith; do not turn aside to crooked policy, do not begin to trust in an arm of flesh, but wait upon the Lord;" and, as if this were a duly in which we are doubly apt to fail, he repeats the exhortation, and makes it more emphatic the second time, "Wait, I say, on the Lord."
I. GOD IS TO BE WAITED ON.
1. As a beggar waits for alms at the rich man's door. Beggars must not be choosers. Believingly to wait upon the Lord, pleading the all-prevailing name of Jesus, is the suppliant's best posture.
2. As learners for instruction. The pupils of the old philosophers were wont to walk in the groves of Academia till the wise men were ready to come and speak with them; and when any one of the wise men began to speak, the young disciples quietly followed his steps, eagerly catching up every precious sentence which he might utter. Much more should it be so with us towards our Lord Jesus; let us follow Him in every page of inspiration, study every line of creation, and learn of Him in all the teachings of His providence.
3. As a servant waits upon his lord.(1) Oh, to be always waiting to do yet more and more for Jesus. I would go up and down my Master's house, seeing what I can do for His little children, whom I delight to cherish; what part of the house needs sweeping and cleaning, that I may quietly go about it; what part of the table needs to be furnished with food, that I may bring out as His steward things new and old; what there is to be done for my Master towards those who are without, and what is to be done for those already in His family. You will never be short of work if with your whole heart you wait upon the Lord.(2) Sometimes the servant will have to wait in absolute inaction, and this is not always to the taste of energetic minds. It is said that Wellington kept back the Guards at Waterloo till far into the fight, and it must, I should think, have needed much courage on their part to remain calm and quiet while cannon were roaring, and the battle raging, and the shots flying about them. They must not stir till the commander-in-chief gives the order, "Up, Guards, and at them!" then will they clear the field and utterly annihilate the foe. They were as much serving their country by lying still till the time came as they were by dashing forward when at last the word was given. Wait, then, upon your Lord in all sorts of service and patience, for this is what He would have you to do.
4. As a traveller waiting the directions of his guide, or a mariner waiting upon the pilot who takes charge of his ship. We are to wait upon God for direction in the entire voyage of life; He is at the helm, and His hand is to steer our course.
5. As a child waits upon its parent. "My father knows what I have need of, and I am sure he will give it me."
6. As a courtier waits upon his prince. Sir Walter Raleigh was wise in his generation when he took off his richly embroidered cloak to spread it over a miry place, that Queen Elizabeth's feet might not be damped; the courtier knew how to smooth his own road by caring for his queen; and thus, with unselfish motives, out of pure reverence for our Lord, let us be willing to be made as the street to be walked over if Jesus can thereby be honoured. Let us lay out for our Lord the best that we have, even to the character which is dear to us as life itself, if by so doing we may bring glory to the holy and blessed name of our Redeemer.
II. COURAGE IS TO BE MAINTAINED. "Be of good courage." Our good Lord and Master ought not to be followed by cowards.
1. Be of good courage concerning the faith which you are exercising upon Christ. He is very good to those who seek Him.
2. Be of good courage, you who have newly found Him, to avow your faith. Wear your colours before the face of all men.
3. Be of good courage in endeavouring to spread the faith which you have received. Undertake great things for Christ.
4. Be of good courage, when you pray for others. Intercession has great influence with God.
5. Be of good courage, in making self-sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
6. If you are called to endure great affliction, sharp pain, frequent sickness; if business goes amiss, if riches take to themselves wings and fly away, if friends forsake you and foes surround you, be of good courage, for the God upon whom you wait will not forsake you. Never let it be said that a soldier of the Cross flinched in the day of battle.
III. WAITING UPON GOD SUSTAINS COURAGE. You have heard of the famous giant whom Hercules could not kill, because the earth was his mother, and every time Hercules dashed him down he obtained fresh strength by touching his parent, and rose again to the fight. We are of like nature, and every time we are driven to our God, though we be dashed upon Him by defeat, we grow strong again, and our adversary's attempt is foiled. Our heart is strengthened by waiting upon God, because we thus receive a mysterious strength through the incoming of the Eternal Spirit into our souls. No man can explain this, but many of us know what it is.
2. Waiting upon the Lord has an effect upon the mind, which in the natural course of things tends to strengthen our courage; for waiting upon God makes men grow small, and dwarfs the world and all its affairs, till we see their real littleness.
3. And then it inflames the heart with love. Nothing can give us greater courage than a sincere affection for our Lord and His work. A raven was hatching her young in a tree. The woodman began to fell it, but there she sat; the blows of the axe shook the tree, but she never moved, and when it fell she was still upon her nest. Love will make the most timid creature strong; and, oh, beloved, if you love Christ you will defy all fear, and count all hazards undergone for Him to be your joy.
4. Waiting upon the Lord breeds peace within the soul, and when a man is perfectly at rest within he cares little for trials or foes. A heart unsettled towards God is sure to be afraid of men, but when the soul waits on the Lord in glad serenity it stoops not to fear.
5. This waiting upon the Lord produces the effect of increasing our courage, because it gives us often a sight of the eternal reward, and if a man getteth a glimpse of the crown of glory, the crown of thorns will no more prick his temples.
IV. EXPERIENCE PROVES THIS. The text is a summary of the entire psalm. All the rest of the verse may be compared to the figures of an account, and this closing verse is the casting up of the whole — waiting on the Lord is the path of wisdom.
()That is the rendering of the Prayer-book version, and it brings out the exact meaning of the word "wait," which we have interlarded and lost sight of by making it mean such things — and legitimately enough — as prayer. It just means "wait." Wait for Him as you would wait for a friend at the trysting-place who does not come. Wait for Him, and wait, and wait until He does come. We know it to be a Christian duty to be patient with our fellow-men; have we ever thought of the necessity and the duty of being patient with God? "O tarry thou the Lord's leisure." It is hard, I admit it is hard, to have this patience. Indeed, the more earnest you are, the more alive you are to the needs of the world, the more eager you are to see the Kingdom of Heaven brought in among men; and the more you do on behalf of the Kingdom, the more is the temptation to lose grip of this patience with God. "Why tarry the wheels of His chariot?" are we not saying every day, and as we go out into the world and see the evil and sin of the world we say it with a more plaintive note in our voice than ever. We strain, some of us, and hurt ourselves straining to help the Kingdom of the King to prepare the way of the Lord. Some faithful Christian work may be said almost to be the fruit of faithlessness. Some make up in zeal what they lack in faith. Some rail at God for His leisure with the world and with the Church, and act as if their efforts in His cause are almost a rebuke to God.
O that His steps among the stars would quicken!
O that His ears would hear when we are dumb!
Many the hearts from which the hope shall sicken,
Many shall faint, before His Kingdom come.Patience is the Divine method in the world. Everything in the world is wrought patiently, smoothly, softly, naturally, sweetly. The seasons come and go. The world has been brought thus: far not by cataclysm but by change, by growth, not by creation, and it is so morally. The world has boon brought thus far by God with groanings and travailings that cannot be uttered until now, by His own Divine method of patience. The moral education of the race has gone on, step by step and stage by stage, as men were able to bear it, and able to understand it. Think of the patience of Christ. He came for the sake of the whole world to redeem the world, and He limited Himself of His own accord to twelve humble men, and He limited Himself still further, and He went on, over and over again, teaching these twelve men, preparing that morsel of soil for the precious seed. O man that art impatient, and speakest about the smallness of thy sphere, the small ministry you have in which to serve; think how limited Christ's sphere was, and the patience with which He began the redemption of the world. That is the Divine method for the world, and for the Church, and for ourselves.
()One morning I noticed a tramp knocking at a house door. A kind-hearted woman lived there, and when she had opened the door and seen the beggar, she ran back into the kitchen to get him something to eat. After standing a moment, he turned and went on his way. Then she came to the door with the food in her hand and called after him. He almost missed that meal because he did not wait, Perhaps we have quite missed some great spiritual gift for which we have asked because we had not learned to "wait on the Lord."
()When I lived in Exeter an eccentric clergyman who occupied a house in the Mint passage had had placed, under the knocker of his door, the polite request, "Please don't knock unless you wait for an answer." There was a school near, and I think the boys used to give him trouble. We often give God trouble, too, when we knock at His door but do not wait for an answer.
()Courage is the calm, determined pursuit of the right, notwithstanding the nature of the road, ignoring the world's flattery, despising the world's menace, disparaging the transient garland and the transient crown. Courage is simply the disposition to go right on, irrespective of the world's swords or of the world's crowns. "Be of good courage." Where shall it be exercised? Sometimes in silence. I think if we could make comparisons between one aspect of the Master's life and another, if everything in the Master's life was not superlative; if we could put some things in the positive and some in the comparative and make comparisons; and if I were to be asked to put my finger on the one place in the Master's life where the courage of the Lord shone out the most resplendently, I should put my finger on the word where it says, "And He answered him nothing." It is superlative valour. The valour of silence, when to speak might mean gain. The courage to keep a close lip, the courage to restrain a laugh when somebody has made a filthy jest. The courage to present a perfectly passive face when conversation is becoming unfair; the courage to withhold applause when applause would simply add fury to an unclean fire. That is the courage that our Master seeks — the courage sometimes to withhold the laugh. There is many a young fellow would restrain for ever from an unclean, filthy jest if he were left in the shivering experience of a quiet and passive reception. Courage in silence; courage sometimes by speech. I think nothing shows out more radiantly and more conspicuously the valour of the Apostle Paul than that experience which he describes for us in the Epistle to the Galatians, where he tells us that when he encountered Simon Peter who was destined to be a pillar of the Church, a living light in the metropolitan church, and who had gone down to Antioch, and who had played and trifled with the truth, who had worn one coat one day and another on another day, "I withstood him to the face." A thing like that is not to be received in silence. "I withstood him to the face," warned him, rebuked him, to his face. Now, suppose you could get a radiant, confident, optimistic courage, a disposition that would keep its lips still and closed when it might appear as though to open them would be immediate gain, and that would speak though speech should wreck a possible career, that would go right on disregarding on the one hand a menace, or, on the other hand, a smile — suppose you could get a disposition like that implanted into the personality of men, suppose it had become part of my constitution, part of my make up — pure, clean, clear courage, what would be the influence of it? First of all, the influence of it on myself. Would it have made any influence upon my body? I want to say that it would; I want to proclaim — and I think it is a note that is not sufficiently proclaimed, and emphatically proclaimed — that Virtue makes for physical health. I would say to any athlete here, "You would become a finer athlete if you were a finer man. Virtue ministers to health rather than vice, and courage will send your blood in a glow around your body rather than cowardice, when you are beset by the hostility of the world." It will influence the body, it will still more influence the mind. Would it influence the soul? I use the word "soul" there to describe the highest part of man's personality, the power which lays hold of and apprehends and appreciates and appropriates God. Would it affect that? There is a fine suggestive sentence in one of Emerson's essays which will serve my purpose to quote it now, "God never gives visions to cowards." Why does not God give visions to cowards? Because, my brethren, He cannot. Cowards close the doors, shut out the Divine. The light cannot enter the spirit, cannot find access when a man is timid and cowardly; all the entrances in his life are blocked. But if a man is valorous and courageous, having his eyes set on the truth and the pursuit of it, a man is porous, porous to everything that is Divine. The Divine can simply soak into him. If a man of a valorous spirit takes up a book to read, as he reads through the book all that is lovely in the book steeps into him; he is porous towards the lovely and the true. If he goes into a picture gallery, all that is wonderful and beautiful and spiritually suggestive about the pictures soaks into him; he is porous towards the lovely. God cannot give these things to cowards, because they are closed, they are nonporous. It was when Peter had become bold we are told that he had visions; it was after he had become great that he began to have visions of the ineffable glory, and when a man has set his eye upon the truth in the resolute, determined pursuit of it, then I say he is open in every door of his spirit to the entrance of the ministry of the Spirit of God, he becomes the tabernacle of the Almighty. That is how it would influence myself; how would it influence my neighbour? I am afraid we talk a good deal about the contagion of vice — I do not think too much — but I do not think we talk half enough about the contagion of virtue. We talk a great deal about the leaven of hypocrisy, but I do not think we speak half enough about the leaven of sincerity and truth. Everybody knows that one man can impart a vice to another by simply living with him. There is a most subtle contagion which can pass almost through the mystic influence of thought, and still more by the transmission of speech, but there is a wonderful contagion of virtue, and a man in whom the valorous temperament is enthroned, might give spirit and inspiration to a crowd. Napoleon says: "There is a moment in every great war when the bravest troops feel inclined to run; it is the want of confidence in their own courage," and then Napoleon says: "The supreme art of generalship is to know just when that moment will come and to provide for it. At Arcola" — I am quoting the words exactly — "I won the battle with twenty-five horsemen. I anticipated the moment of fright and flight, and I had twenty-five men ready of cool nerve and decision, and just at the appropriate moment I turned the twenty. five into the host, and the battle was won." Twenty-five men who had not lost their nerve brought back confidence to a host who were inclined for fright and flight. The man who was cool for fight brought back the hordes that were ready for flight. Has that no analogy in the realm of the spirit? One brave member of a family may save the whole household from moral perdition; one young fellow in a warehouse may save all his mates from the timidity which means hell; one fine, brave lad in a school who will despise all meanness and set his eyes upon the true and follow it, may gain a whole form for the army of the Lord. How, then, can we get this fine, valorous disposition? "Wait on the Lord" — "Wait, I say, on the Lord." How painfully inadequate. Inadequate! There are some things in the spiritual which any man can prove in a day. There are some things which inevitably and almost immediately result from the life of the spirit which any man can put into momentary and daily proof. Here is one. Suppose that you find you are becoming possessed by the spirit of anger, and that passion is rising within you like an angry flood, and you feel as though you were about to be overcome, and the flood is going to merge in indiscreet and bitter and violent speech. Just then wait on the Lord, and in the name of God Almighty I promise you, with the most consummate assurance, that you will find your anger will there and then begin to subside, until it becomes as calm as a peaceful sea. If you find that you are becoming the victim of lust, "Wait on the Lord," and even while you kneel you shall find that the unholy fire is being put out. If you are possessed by the feeling of envy or of jealousy, and if you are being consumed by the hateful thing, "Wait on the Lord," and I promise you — and I dare you to put it to proof — that while you kneel the envy and the jealousy will pass away from your vision just as the steam passes away from our windows in the cooler light of the dawn. If I come with my spirit of timidity and cowardice into the presence of the Almighty, and say, "Lord, I have a will like a reed, I would like s will like adamant," will nothing result? Will the Lord, who says to the passion, Be still; and who says to the lust, Die out; and who says to the envy, Evaporate, have nothing to say to a timid and cowardly will? "He shall strengthen thine heart." When? Not just then, perhaps. I would like to make that clear if I may. It will be when you need, because perhaps just then, when you kneel, you may not need.
()Among the whole legion of evil spirits that harass the Christian, there is none more mischievous than that dark-visaged demon called Discouragement. He tries to hamstring us just at the critical time when we need all our faculties and all our graces. If he can persuade us to give up, we are gone. History is never were of telling us of those resolute spirits who would not give up — of Disraeli's reply to the jeers of the British Parliament, "The time will come when you will be glad to hear me;" and of George Stephenson and Robert Fulton persisting with their experiments in the face of ridicule. But "the children of light" are not always as wise as "the children of this world" in carrying their point. All the more shame to us, because the man of the world has no special promise of the Divine help, and the child of God has. The one has to encourage himself in his own brain-power or his "pluck," but the other may encourage himself in the Lord his God. One thing we who enlist in the service of Christ must be assured of, and that is that our campaign is for life. Regeneration does not end the fight; it is only its beginning. Our arduous work will not be done until we have gained our crown. God sees that it is trot best that we should get to heaven before ourtime, and so he ordains that this life shall be one of perpetual conflict, temptation, trial, discipline. One of the most frequent temptations to discouragement arises from the want of apparent success in the best undertakings. Brave Dr. Judson preached in Burmah six years without a visible convert. After these six years of subsoiling and seeding came a steady crop of conversions,
He shall strengthen thine heart.What do we mean by the Heart? Now, just as the Will is the seat of basal, executive force, and just as the Conscience is the seat of moral instinct, so the Heart is the seat of feeling, the home of emotion, the empire of the sentiments. I wish to discuss what I may call the aristocracy of the feelings. I call them the aristocracy because they possess a certain subtlety of refinement which distinguishes them from others which are more closely and intimately related to the flesh. Like other aristocracies the members are both good and bad. Envy is a purely spiritual feeling, and may exist in all its intensity even when the vesture of the flesh has been finally dropped. Gratitude is a purely spiritual feeling, and may exist in undiminished power when the flesh has turned to dust. There are other feelings which are largely contingent upon the flesh, and which seek their gratification exclusively in the ways of the flesh. These will only indirectly concern us in the present discussion. Let us confine the attention to the more ethereal feelings — to feelings more subtle and more refined, more refined in evil and more refined in good. Now it is very evident that these feelings appear in different kinds and in varied intensity among different people. That is a very obtrusive fact in human life. If with the Divine vision we could enter into some hearts it would be like passing into a cathedral: everything is so sweet and chaste and reverent and beautiful. But if we entered into other hearts it would be like passing into a cellar: dark, damp, and forbidding, abounding in vermin and uncleanness. In some hearts the feelings lurk like carrion vultures; in others they sing and soar like the lark. Have we any responsibility as to the character of the feelings which possess the Heart? Has Conscience, the moral palate, any judgment to give concerning the things of the Heart? Is its dominion confined to the regions of thought and speech and deed, or does it, s jurisdiction reach to the inhabitants of the Heart? Yes, Conscience indicates some feelings, and definitely condemns them. Conscience indicates other feelings, and definitely approves them. What Conscience condemns I am commanded to remove. What Conscience approves I am commanded to entertain. But in the judgments of Conscience there is a larger implication even than this. That which Conscience commands me to remove I have power at hand to remove. Let us mark that well. Moral commandments are indications of possible moral attainments. Conscience searches my heart and commands me to turn out this feeling, and to give more room to that feeling, and to let in another that for long has been standing at the gate. And all this is a solemn indication to me that, according to the teaching of Conscience, I have power over my own Heart, and that for the exercise of this power I shall be called to account when I stand before the judgment-seat of God. Conscience, then, proclaims that we are responsible for our feelings. Do we recognize the obligation? Let us seek for evidence in our common judgments. Our common judgments recognize that men have power over their own hearts. We condemn a man for ingratitude. If we can exercise no dominion over our feelings the ungrateful man should be regarded with tenderest pity as the poor victim of a hard and petrifying rage. We praise and commend a man because of his warm and bounteous love, because of the bright and sunny influence with which he transforms our dull November seasons into merry days of June. Why should we commend him if men have no power over their own hearts? He is rather to be regarded as a very lucky man, who, by a most fortunate chance, has entered into a golden heritage, which less lucky men have been denied. But no such element of chance is allowed to enter in and shape and colour our judgments. If it were needful to give further elaboration to this it would be easy to detach fragments from our common speech which clearly indicate that in cur practical life we acknowledge that men can exercise sovereignty over the empire of the Heart. For instance, we blame one man for "allowing his feelings to run away with him," we commend another for having his feelings "well under control." I do not think this truth receives sufficient emphasis when we are considering the culture of the spiritual life. We have command over the Heart. We have authority over the feelings. Whatever feeling we want we can get. Whatever feeling we do not want we can reject. If we desire the feeling of love we have means to obtain it. If we desire the feeling of malice it will come at our bidding. How, then, are feelings created? Upon what are they dependent? They are largely, if not exclusively, dependent upon thought. Out of thought there comes feeling, just as fragrance is born of a rose, and a noisome stench of a cesspool. Our sentiments are the exhalations of our thoughts. Every thought tends to create a feeling. There are no thoughts devoid of influence. From every thought there proceeds an influence which goes to the making of a disposition. A single thought in the mind may exhale an almost imperceptible influence. But the influence is there, and steals like an intensely subtle odour into the Heart. Let the thoughts be multiplied, and the delicate odours unite to form an intensely powerful influence which we call a feeling, a sentiment, a disposition. But suppose the thought is not like a sweet rose, but like a poisonous nightshade. Here again the influence of a single thought may be too subtle for our detection, but let the thoughts be multiplied, and the poisonous exhalations will unite to form a sentiment of most destructive strength. Let us lay hold of this as a most practical principle in the culture of the spiritual life. We cannot have a good thought and not enrich the Heart. There is no chance or caprice about the matter. It is governed by immutable law. We cannot have one kind of thought to-day exhaling one kind of feeling, and the same kind of thought to-morrow exhaling another kind of feeling. No; each thought creates its own feeling, and always of one kind. There are certain thoughts which, if we will take them into our minds, will inevitably create the feeling of envy. Take other thoughts into the mind, and from them will be born the sentiment of jealousy. Take other thoughts into the mind and the Heart will speedily swell with pride. Fill the mind with another kind of thought and in the Heart will gather the sweet and tender sentiment of pity. Each thought creates its own sentiment, and we cannot help it. Some sentiments gather rapidly. They appear to attain to mature fulness in a moment. Other sentiments accumulate slowly. It often happens that the sentiment of jealousy comes to her throne only after the lapse of many years. On the other hand, anger can mount the throne and govern the life in a day. Tim mode of its operation is quite familiar to us. Anger is the distinct and immediate creation of thought. We bring certain thoughts into the mind, and from these thoughts there proceed certain sentiments. We think, and think, and think, and the feeling accumulates and increases with our thought, until at last the Heart is full with feeling, and explodes in violent passion. And so we counsel a man not to think about the injury which he has presumedly suffered, "not to nurse it," and by our counsel we imply that with the rejection of the creative thought the created passion will subside. Let us advance one step further. Our thought creates our feelings. Our deeds react upon and strengthen the feelings which by thought were created. My thought plans a kindly deed. Well, the thought itself will most inevitably tend to create a kindly feeling, but the doing of the deed will also assuredly tend to reinforce the feeling. Our deeds react on the feelings which prompted them, and confirm and augment them. That is one way by which our God rewards His children. He rewards our mercifulness by increasing our resources of mercy. He rewards our deeds by enlarging our hearts. That is the law of our God, and the law finds application on the bad side as well as on the good. Every act of greed strengthens the feeling of avarice. Every act of impurity intensifies the feeling of lust. What, then, is the secret of the culture of the Heart? It is this — we must get back to the origin of feeling. We must get back to imaginations, to ideas, to ideals. As is the mind so will be the Heart. A stony Heart finds its explanation in the mind. A pure Heart may be interpreted in the mind. "Set your mind on things above," exhorts the Apostle Paul; "Set your mind on things above," and your feelings will soar heavenward, like white-winged angels making their way home. It is on those serene and lofty heights that a sound and healthy Heart is to be gained. It may be only a depressing revelation to a man to tell him that health can be found on the wind-swept summit. You bring him a gospel when you tell him how to get there, how means may be found even for him, however impoverished he may be. "Set your mind on things above." There is no gospel in that. I so easily move amid things that are below. Is there any gospel which offers to me a heavenly gravitation to counteract the earthly gravitation, some triumphant power which will tug me towards the things that are above, as this mighty world-power drags me down to things which are below? In this word of the Master I find the gospel I seek: "I, if I be lifted up, will draw... That is the gospel we need. The power to resist the gravitation of worldliness — to ascend into the hill of the Lord," to "set the mind on things above," to think and live on the pure and heavenly heights — is to be found in a crucified and exalted Christ. Committing ourselves to Christ we shall rise with Him, and the mind will share in the resurrection. Drawn by Him we shall rise into "newness of life." With the "renewing of the mind" we shall be "transformed": high-born feelings will come to be our guests, and the pervading influence of these fragrant sentiments will sweeten all tam common ways in which we live and move and have our being.
()They that waft on the Lord, and encourage themselves to do, in the times of affliction, shall have the Lord in mercy to put strength into them, for their better enabling to wait on Him (Psalm 31:24; Psalm 40:1, 2; Isaiah 40:30).
1. Reasons —(1) To wait on the Lord, and to encourage ourselves in affliction, are notable actions of faith. Now, the grace of faith entitles us to the participation of God's power (2 Chronicles 20:20).(2) In waiting on the Lord, and encouraging ourselves in time of affliction, are the right improving and employing of the talents which the Lord hath left with us; for in so doing we set faith a work. And this behaviour hath little to increase (Matthew 25:28, 29).
2. Uses —(1) For instruction. See here plainly that God's gracious gifts and works in our hearts are vouchsafed, though not for, yet in, and upon our endeavour, in obedience to His will, in the use of those means wherein He is pleased to work the same (Isaiah 55:3; Romans 10:17; John 11:26). See here the true fountain of all that courage and boldness which in all ages God's children have shown for God's glory and for the maintenance of His truth (1 Samuel 16:32, 34; Psalm 3:6; Psalm 23:4; Daniel 3:16, 17; Acts 3:13).(2) For admonition. Observe the ways and means whereby God strengthens the hearts of His children, that so we may therein wait upon God in the day of affliction, for increase of strength, and courage in our souls, His Word spoken, either by God Himself (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9), or by His servants (Hebrews 12:12). The works of His providence, wherein we have had experience of His goodness in former deliverances (1 Samuel 17:34-37; Psalm 22:4, 5; 2 Kings 2:14). The company of the godly (Acts 28:15; Proverbs 27:9, 17). Prayer to God, as well by ourselves as by others in our behalf (Acts 4:24, 29; Ephesians 6:19). God's inward way of strengthening the heart is by the work of His Spirit (John 14:16; Isaiah 11:2; 2 Timothy 1:7). We must labour to be such, both in state of soul and behavior of life, as to whom God will vouchsafe the blessing of strength of heart in evil times. That beforehand, in the days of peace, we beware of sin, and break off the cause thereof by true repentance. That we are truly in covenant with God. That by faith we rest and rely on God's mercy in Christ Jesus. That we be upright-hearted towards God (2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 18:2).
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