|Daniel Resources - Conservative, Literal Interpretation of Daniel
Discussion of the Interpretative Approaches to the Book of Daniel
Commentaries Classified by interpretative approach to Daniel 9:24-27
Charts Related to Prophecy
Prophecy Primer - Why interpret Da 9:24-27 literally?
Verse by Verse Commentary on Daniel 9:24-27
The 1000 Year Reign of Christ - The Millennium
Millennium 1 - Early Church drift from literal interpretation of Rev 20
Millennium 2 - Context & events leading up to Millennium
Millennium 3 - How OT describes Millennial Messianic Age
Sermons and Devotionals
C H Spurgeon
There are many dear children, both boys and girls, who have not been ashamed in their early days to come forward and confess the Lord Jesus Christ. God bless the dear children! I rejoice in them. I am sure that the church will never have to be ashamed of having admitted them. They, at least, show no cowardice. They take a solemn delight in being numbered with the people of God, counting it an honor to be associated with Christ and His church. Shame on you older ones who still hold back! What ails you, that babes and sucklings are braver than you? By the love you bear to Christ, I charge you: come forth and confess His name among this evil and perverse generation.
Is it true? Then joyfully accept the trial which comes with it. Shrink not from the flames. Settle it in your minds that-by divine grace-no loss, nor cross, nor shame, nor suffering shall make you play the coward. Say, like the holy children, "We have no need to answer you in this matter" ( Daniel 3:16 ). They did not cringe before the king and cry, "We beseech you, do not throw us into the fiery furnace. Let us have a consultation with you, O king, that we may arrange terms. There may be some method by which we can please you and yet keep our religion." No! They said:
Dear friends, let us be ready to suffer for Christ’s sake. Some will say, "Do not be imprudent." It is always prudent to do your duty. We do not have enough nowadays of the virtue nicknamed imprudence. I would like to see a display of old-fashioned imprudence in these cold, calculating, selfish days. Oh, for the days of zeal, the days when men counted not their lives dear to them that they might win Christ! At present, men sit down and reckon what it will cost them to do right, weighing their conduct as a matter of profit and loss. Then they call such wicked calculations prudence. It is sheer selfishness. Do right, if it costs you your life.
Where would England have been if the men who won our liberties in former ages had haggled with the world for gain? If they had saved their skins, they would have lost their souls and ruined the cause of God in England. He loves not Christ who does not love Him more than all things. Oh, for men of principle, who know no loss but loss of faith, and desire no gain except the glory of God! Be this your cry:
Through floods or flames, if Jesus leads
I’ll follow where He goes
You may lose a great deal for Christ, but you will never lose anything by Christ. You may lose for the present time, but you will gain for eternity. The loss is transient, but the gain is everlasting. You will be a gainer by Christ, even if you have to go to heaven by the way of persecution, poverty, and slander. Never mind the way. The end will make full amends. The treasures of Egypt are mere dross compared with the riches of endless bliss.
If it is true that you are willing thus to follow Christ, reckon upon deliverance. Nebuchadnezzar may put you into the fire, but he cannot keep you there, nor can he make the fire burn you. The enemy casts you into the furnace bound, but the fire will loosen your bonds, and you will walk at liberty amid the glowing coals. You will gain by your losses, you will rise by your down-castings.
Many prosperous men owe their present position to the fact that they were faithful when they were in humble employments. They were honest, and for the moment they displeased their employers, but in the end earned their esteem. When Adam Clarke was apprenticed to a tailor, his master showed him how to stretch the cloth when it was a little short, but Adam could not find in his heart to do it. Such a fool of a boy must be sent home to his mother. His godly mother was glad that her boy was such a fool that he could not stoop to a dishonest trick. You know what he became. He might have missed his way in life if he had not been true to his principles in his youth.
Your first loss may be a lifelong gain. Dear young fellow, you may be fired from your situation, but the Lord will turn the curse into a blessing. If all should go softly with you, you might decline in character. By doing a little wrong, you learn to do yet more and more, so losing your integrity, and with it all hope of ever lifting your nose from the grindstone. Do right for Christ’s sake, without considering any consequences, and the consequences will be right enough.
C H Spurgeon
Nor Had the Smell of Fire Even Come Upon Them
I see a pair of balances. I see on one scale the loss of a beloved relative, but I perceive on the other scale the great love of Christ. Now we will see which weighs the most. If Jesus lifts the light affliction, all is well. But if the trouble outweighs Jesus, then it is indeed ill for us.
If you are so depressed by your trials that you cannot rejoice, even though your name is written in heaven, then I think you do not love Jesus as you should. Get delightful thoughts of Him, and you will feel as if you lost a pebble but preserved a diamond. If you have a high sense of your Master’s preciousness, you will rejoice in the deepest distress. The sweet love of Christ, when placed on the deepest wound the soul can ever know, heals at once. A drop of the precious medicine of Jesus’ love chases away all heart pain.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Be within us, and we will make no choice of situations. Put us in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace (Dan. 3:20); if Jesus walks the glowing coals as our companion, the fire will have no power, the hairs of our heads will not be singed, our garments will not be affected, and even the smell of fire will not be on them (Dan. 3:27).
C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
The narrative of the manly courage and marvellous deliverance of the three holy children, or rather champions, is well calculated to excite in the minds of believers firmness and steadfastness in upholding the truth in the teeth of tyranny and in the very jaws of death. Let young Christians especially learn from their example, both in matters of faith in religion, and matters of uprightness in business, never to sacrifice their consciences. Lose all rather than lose your integrity, and when all else is gone, still hold fast a clear conscience as the rarest jewel which can adorn the bosom of a mortal. Be not guided by the will-o’-the-wisp of policy, but by the pole-star of divine authority. Follow the right at all hazards. When you see no present advantage, walk by faith and not by sight. Do God the honour to trust him when it comes to matters of loss for the sake of principle. See whether he will be your debtor! See if he doth not even in this life prove his word that “Godliness, with contentment, is great gain,” and that they who “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, shall have all these things added unto them.” Should it happen that, in the providence of God, you are a loser by conscience, you shall find that if the Lord pays you not back in the silver of earthly prosperity, he will discharge his promise in the gold of spiritual joy. Remember that a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of that which he possesseth. To wear a guileless spirit, to have a heart void of offence, to have the favour and smile of God, is greater riches than the mines of Ophir could yield, or the traffic of Tyre could win. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and inward contention therewith.” An ounce of heart’s-ease is worth a ton of gold. (Morning and Evening)
C H Spurgeon's Sermon Notes
A Man troubled by His Thoughts
His thoughts troubled him. — Daniel 5:6
TO many men thinking is an unusual employment.
Yet it is a distinction of man that he can think.
No wonder that when thought is forced on some men they are troubled.
This trouble from thought is salutary: by it conviction and conversion may come; and, in any case, troubled thought is as the sounding of the tocsin, arousing the mind, and warning the soul.
Let us think of Belshazzar, and of ourselves. Of us, too, it may have been said, "His thoughts troubled him." We must be in a bad way if we dare not face our own thoughts about ourselves. What must God's thoughts of us be?
I. IT DID NOT APPEAR LIKELY THAT HIS THOUGHTS WOULD TROUBLE HIM.
l. He was an irresponsible and reckless monarch. He came of a fierce nation, and was born of a father who had been punished for his haughty spirit.
2. He had hardened his heart with pride (verses 22 and 23). Daniel said, "thou hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven."
3. He was drinking wine, and it had worked upon him (verse 2).
4. He was rioting in gay company: "his princes, his wives, and his concubines." Such comrades as these usually chase all thought away, and help their leader in his recklessness.
5. He was venturing far in profanity (verse 3); daring to abuse the sacred vessels, in his banquets, as an expression of his contempt for Israel's God, whom he despised in contrast with his "gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone." Perhaps he had mentioned these in detail as the gods who had triumphed; at any rate, the prophet brings them forward with detestation in verse 4.
No man is rendered wise or thoughtful by the wine-cup.
No man is out of the reach of the arrows of God.
No conscience is so dead that he cannot arouse it.
Many other men in far lower positions exhibit equal pride of station and success; this is stimulated in much the same manner, and exhibited with much the same contempt for the things of God.
A parallel is easily drawn between Belshazzar and other proud ones.
II. YET WELL MIGHT HIS THOUGHTS TROUBLE HIM.
l. For what he saw was appalling: "fingers of a man's hand over against the candlestick" (verse 5).
2. For what he could not see was suggestive. Where was the hand?
3. For what he had done was alarming.
See him trembling before whom all trembled.
He has drunk a strange draught out of those holy cups.
III. AND MIGHT NOT YOUR THOUGHTS TROUBLE SOME OF YOU?
1. You are careless, riotous, fond of feasts, given to much wine. Does wantonness ever end well?
2. You are prosperous. Are not beasts fattened for the slaughter?
3. You are trifling with holy things. You neglect, or ridicule, or use without seriousness the things of God. Will this be endured? Will not the Lord be provoked to avenge this contempt?
4. You mix with the impure. Will you not perish with them?
5. Your father's history might instruct you, or at least trouble you.
6. The sacred writing "over against the candlestick" is against you.
Read the Holy Scripture, and see for yourself.
7. Specially, you have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting. Conscience beholds the scales in the hand of the infallible Judge.
Take heed that you do not fall into Belshazzar's condition, to whom Daniel gave no counsel, but simply interpreted the sentences which sealed his doom.
As yet we dare preach the gospel to you, and we do. God's thoughts are above your thoughts. He bids you repent of sin, and believe in his Son Jesus; and then your thoughts will cease to trouble you.
Thoughts and Facts
Such mystery of iniquity within,
Conscience, from inaction, is like a withered arm in the souls of many; but the Lord of conscience will one day say to it, "Be thou stretched forth, and do thine appointed work."
As the ant-hill, when stirred, sets in motion its living insects in every direction, so the conscience of the sinner, disturbed by the Spirit, or judgments of God, calls up before its vision thousands of deeds which fill the soul with agony and woe. — McCosh
The Duke of Wellington once said that he could have saved the lives of a thousand men a year, had he had chaplains, or any religious ministers. The uneasiness of their minds reacted on their bodies, and kept up continual fever, once it seized upon their frames. It is our blessed office to tell of One who can "minister to a mind diseased;' whose grace can deliver from "an evil conscience," and through whom all inward fear and trouble are removed.
Charles IX of France, in his youth, had humane and tender sensibilities. The fiend who had tempted him was the mother who had nursed him. When she first proposed to him the massacre of the Huguenots, he shrunk from it with horror: "No, no, madam! They are my loving subjects." Then was the critical hour of his life. Had he cherished that natural sensitiveness to bloodshed, St. Bartholomew's Eve would never have disgraced the history of his kingdom, and he himself would have escaped the fearful remorse which crazed him on his death-bed. To his physician he said in his last hours, "sleep or awake, I see the mangled forms of the Huguenots passing before me. They drip with blood. They make hideous, faces at me. They point to their open wounds, and mock me. Oh, that I had spared at least the little infants at the breast!" Then he broke out in agonizing cries and screams. Bloody sweat oozed from the pores of his skin. He was one of the very few cases in history which confirm the possibility of the phenomenon which attended our Lord's anguish in Gethsemane. That was the fruit of resisting, years before, the recoil of his youthful conscience from the extreme of guilt. — Austin Phelps
C H Spurgeon
Weighed and Found Wanting
Some of you are hurting. Your earthly prospects grow dark, and it is midnight. Your business is failing. You have sickness in the house. Your darling wife languishes before your weeping eyes. Your children, by their ingratitude, have wounded your spirit.
You are a believer, and you know that God is testing and trying you. God wants you to know that a summertime religion is not sufficient. He wants you to see if your faith can stand the test of trial and trouble. Remember Job? What a scale he was weighed on! What weights of affliction were cast on him! He was a mountain of sore trouble, and yet he could bear them all. He came out of the scales as proof against all the weight that Satanic strength could hurl.
Is it this way with you? Can you say, “The Lord gave, and the L ord has taken away; blessed be the name of the L ord ” (Job 1:21)? Can you submit to His will without murmuring? Can you still say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15)? Remember, if your religion will not stand in adversity, it will not give comfort in the storm. You would be better without it; for with it, adversity deceives you. Without it, you might discover your true condition and seek the Lord as a penitent sinner. If a little adversity breaks you, what will happen when all God’s storms are let loose on your soul? “If you have run with the footmen, and they wearied you … how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan” (Jer. 12:5)? If mere trials distress and grieve, what will you do when all the hurricanes of divine vengeance sweep across the earth and shake its pillars?
Dear friend, I want you to see how you handle your trials and troubles. Does your faith stand? Can you see God’s right hand even when it is wrapped in clouds? Can you discover the silver lining of tribulation’s black clouds? God help you to come out of the scales, for many are weighed in them and found wanting (Dan. 5:27).
C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
'TEKEL'-- you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.
It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God’s Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, “Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God’s mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?” Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to his likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which he constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did—“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? If we thus read God’s Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, “Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be ‘found wanting,’ when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment.” “Judge yourselves that ye be not judged.” (Morning and Evening)
C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
A deep sense and clear sight of sin, its heinousness, and the punishment which it deserves, should make us lie low before the throne. We have sinned as Christians. Alas! that it should be so. Favoured as we have been, we have yet been ungrateful: privileged beyond most, we have not brought forth fruit in proportion. Who is there, although he may long have been engaged in the Christian warfare, that will not blush when he looks back upon the past? As for our days before we were regenerated, may they be forgiven and forgotten; but since then, though we have not sinned as before, yet we have sinned against light and against love—light which has really penetrated our minds, and love in which we have rejoiced. Oh, the atrocity of the sin of a pardoned soul! An unpardoned sinner sins cheaply compared with the sin of one of God’s own elect ones, who has had communion with Christ and leaned his head upon Jesus’ bosom. Look at David! Many will talk of his sin, but I pray you look at his repentance, and hear his broken bones, as each one of them moans out its dolorous confession! Mark his tears, as they fall upon the ground, and the deep sighs with which he accompanies the softened music of his harp! We have erred: let us, therefore, seek the spirit of penitence. Look, again, at Peter! We speak much of Peter’s denying his Master. Remember, it is written, “He wept bitterly.” Have we no denials of our Lord to be lamented with tears? Alas! these sins of ours, before and after conversion, would consign us to the place of inextinguishable fire if it were not for the sovereign mercy which has made us to differ, snatching us like brands from the burning. My soul, bow down under a sense of thy natural sinfulness, and worship thy God. Admire the grace which saves thee—the mercy which spares thee—the love which pardons thee! (Morning and Evening)
C H Spurgeon
HIS true-hearted man lived not for himself. Daniel was a fervent lover of his country.
He had been personally faithful, and in consequence he had been honored, but he did not rest content with personal ease.
He had visions of God, but he was not visionary.
He had searched and studied, but now he prayed. Supplication should ever be the outcome of our meditation.
His prayer is instructive to us.
It suggests our fervent entreaties for the church of God in these days.
I. THE HOLY PLACE. "Thy sanctuary."
The temple was typical, and for our edification we shall read the text as if the spiritual house had been meant. There are many points in the type worthy of notice, but these may suffice:
1. The temple was unique; and as there could only be one temple for Jehovah, so there is but one church.
2. The temple was "exceeding magnifical"; and in the eyes of God, and of holy beings, the church is the house of God's glory.
3. The temple was the fabric of wisdom. King Solomon built it; and of the church we may say, "a greater than Solomon is here."
4. The temple was the result of great cost and vast labor: so was the church builded by the Lord Jesus at a cost which can never be estimated.
5. The temple was the shrine of God's indwelling.
6. The temple was the place of his worship.
7. The temple was the throne of his power: his word went forth from Jerusalem; there he ruled his people, and routed his foes.
The church of Jesus Christ in the latter day shall be more accurately the anti-type of the temple, as the present church is of the tabernacle in the wilderness.
II. THE EARNEST PRAYER. "Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate."
1. It rose above all selfishness. This was his one prayer, the center of all his prayers.
2. It was the child of thought (verse 2).
3. It cast itself upon God. "O our God."
4. It was a confession that he could do nothing of himself. Honest men do not ask God to do what they can do themselves.
5. It asked a comprehensive boon. "Cause thy face to shine."
This would mean many things which we also implore for the church of God:
6. It asked needful things.
7. It asked with a mighty plea: "For the Lord's sake."
III. THE CONSISTENT CONDUCT. This is suggested by such a prayer.
1. Let us consider the state of Zion (verse 23). Let us form a careful estimate of the condition of true religion.
2. Let us lay it earnestly to heart. Whether for joy or sorrow, let the condition of the church concern us deeply.
3. Let us do all we can for her, or our prayer will be a mockery.
4. Let us do nothing to grieve the Lord; for all depends upon his smile. "Cause thy face to shine."
5. Let us pray much more than we have done. Let each one of us be a Daniel.
During the troubles times of Scotland, when the Popish court and aristocracy were arming themselves to suppress the Reformation in that land, and the cause of Protestant Christianity was in imminent peril, late on a certain night John Knox was seen to leave his study, and to pass from the house down into an enclosure to the rear of it. He was followed by a friend, when, after a few moments of silence, his voice was heard as if in prayer. In another moment the accents deepened into intelligible words, and the earnest petition went up from his struggling soul to heaven,"O Lord, give me Scotland, or I die!" Then a pause of hushed stillness, when again the petition broke forth, "O Lord, give me Scotland, or I die!" Once more all was voiceless and noiseless, when, with a yet intenser pathos the thrice-repeated intercession struggled forth, "O Lord, give me Scotland, or I die!" And God gave him Scotland, in spite of Mary and her Cardinal Beatoun; a land and a church of noble loyalty to Christ and his crown.
"At the time the Diet of Nuremburg was held," says Tholuck, "Luther was earnestly praying in his own dwelling; and at the very hour when the edict, granting full toleration to alt Protestants, was issued, he ran out of his house, crying out, 'We have gained the victory'."
The church may be sick, yet not die. Die it cannot, for the blood of an eternal King bought it, the power of an eternal Spirit preserves it, and the mercy of an eternal God shall crown it. — Thomas Adams
Prayer was a universal habit among the heathen people of Samoa, and they manifested considerable intelligence in their conception of prayer. For example, when on their boatjourneys, those who were sitting as passengers in the boat were expected to pray for those who were plying the paddles. The passengers would repeatedly thank the rowers in these words: "Thanks for your strong strokes"; to which the rowers immediately made answer, "Thanks for your intercessory prayers," recognizing, it will be seen, the principle that their power to ply the paddles was dependent upon the prayers of the passengers. — The Congregationalist
C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
Blessed be his name, there was no cause of death in him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled him, and therefore death had no claim upon him. No man could have taken his life from him justly, for he had done no man wrong, and no man could even have lain him by force unless he had been pleased to yield himself to die. But lo, one sins and another suffers. Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bullocks, and hills of frankincense, could not have availed for the removal of sin; but Jesus was cut off for us, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away for ever. Herein is wisdom, whereby substitution, the sure and speedy way of atonement, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns, and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to lay down his life for his enemies!
It is not enough, however, to admire the spectacle of the innocent bleeding for the guilty, we must make sure of our interest therein. The special object of the Messiah’s death was the salvation of his church; have we a part and a lot among those for whom he gave his life a ransom? Did the Lord Jesus stand as our representative? Are we healed by his stripes? It will be a terrible thing indeed if we should come short of a portion in his sacrifice; it were better for us that we had never been born. Solemn as the question is, it is a joyful circumstance that it is one which may be answered clearly and without mistake. To all who believe on him the Lord Jesus is a present Saviour, and upon them all the blood of reconciliation has been sprinkled. Let all who trust in the merit of Messiah’s death be joyful at every remembrance of him, and let their holy gratitude lead them to the fullest consecration to his cause. (Morning and Evening)
C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
Child of God, do you hesitate to appropriate this title? Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly beloved too? Must you not have been greatly beloved, to have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot? When God smote his only begotten Son for you, what was this but being greatly beloved? You lived in sin, and rioted in it, must you not have been greatly beloved for God to have borne so patiently with you? You were called by grace and led to a Saviour, and made a child of God and an heir of heaven. All this proves, does it not, a very great and superabounding love? Since that time, whether your path has been rough with troubles, or smooth with mercies, it has been full of proofs that you are a man greatly beloved. If the Lord has chastened you, yet not in anger; if he has made you poor, yet in grace you have been rich. The more unworthy you feel yourself to be, the more evidence have you that nothing but unspeakable love could have led the Lord Jesus to save such a soul as yours. The more demerit you feel, the clearer is the display of the abounding love of God in having chosen you, and called you, and made you an heir of bliss. Now, if there be such love between God and us let us live in the influence and sweetness of it, and use the privilege of our position. Do not let us approach our Lord as though we were strangers, or as though he were unwilling to hear us—for we are greatly beloved by our loving Father. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of thine own heart, thou art greatly beloved. Meditate on the exceeding greatness and faithfulness of divine love this evening, and so go to thy bed in peace. (Morning and Evening)
C H Spurgeon
Valiant for Truth
“The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits - Daniel 11:32
“THE Lord is a man of war, Jehovah is his name.” Those who enlist under His banner shall have a Commander who will train them for the conflict and give them both vigor and valor. The times of which Daniel wrote were of the very worst kind, and then it was promised that the people of God would come out in their best colors: they would be strong and stout to confront the powerful adversary.
Oh, that we may know our God—His power, His faithfulness, His immutable love—and so may be ready to risk everything in His behalf. He is One whose character excites our enthusiasm and makes us willing to live and to die for Him. Oh, that we may know our God by familiar fellowship with Him; for then we shall become like Him and shall be prepared to stand up for truth and righteousness. He who comes forth fresh from beholding the face of God will never fear the face of man. If we dwell with Him, we shall catch the heroic spirit, and to us a world of enemies will be but as the drop of a bucket. A countless array of men, or even of devils, will seem as little to us as the nations are to God, and He counts them only as grasshoppers. Oh, to be valiant for truth in this day of falsehood. (Faith's Checkbook)
C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
The people who know their God will display strength and take action"
Every believer understands that to know God is the highest and best form of knowledge; and this spiritual knowledge is a source of strength to the Christian. It strengthens his faith. Believers are constantly spoken of in the Scriptures as being persons who are enlightened and taught of the Lord; they are said to “have an unction from the Holy One,” and it is the Spirit’s peculiar office to lead them into all truth, and all this for the increase and the fostering of their faith. Knowledge strengthens love, as well as faith. Knowledge opens the door, and then through that door we see our Saviour. Or, to use another similitude, knowledge paints the portrait of Jesus, and when we see that portrait then we love him, we cannot love a Christ whom we do not know, at least, in some degree. If we know but little of the excellences of Jesus, what he has done for us, and what he is doing now, we cannot love him much; but the more we know him, the more we shall love him. Knowledge also strengthens hope. How can we hope for a thing if we do not know of its existence? Hope may be the telescope, but till we receive instruction, our ignorance stands in the front of the glass, and we can see nothing whatever; knowledge removes the interposing object, and when we look through the bright optic glass we discern the glory to be revealed, and anticipate it with joyous confidence. Knowledge supplies us reasons for patience. How shall we have patience unless we know something of the sympathy of Christ, and understand the good which is to come out of the correction which our heavenly Father sends us? Nor is there one single grace of the Christian which, under God, will not be fostered and brought to perfection by holy knowledge. How important, then, is it that we should grow not only in grace, but in the “knowledge” of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Morning and Evening)
C H Spurgeon
Shine as Many Stars
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightnessof the firmament; and they that turn many torighteousness as the stars forever and ever.”— Daniel 12:3
HERE is something to wake me up. This is worth living for. To be wise is a noble thing in itself: in this place it refers to a divine wisdom which only the Lord Himself can bestow. Oh to know myself, my God, my Saviour! May I be so divinely taught that I may carry into practice heavenly truth and live in the light of it! Is my life a wise one? Am I seeking that which I ought to seek? Am I living as I shall wish I had lived when I come to die? Only such wisdom can secure for me eternal brightness as of yonder sunlit skies.
To be a winner of souls is a glorious attainment. I had need be wise if I am to turn even one to righteousness, much more if I am to turn many. Oh for the knowledge of God, of men, of the Word, and of Christ, which will enable me to convert my fellowmen, and to convert large numbers of them! I would give myself to this and never rest till I accomplish it. This will be better than winning stars at court. This will make me a star, a shining star, a star shining forever and ever; yea more, it will make me shine as many stars. My soul, arouse thyself! Lord, quicken me! (Faith's Checkbook)
WE cannot understand all the prophecies, but yet we regard them with pleasure and not with dismay. There can be nothing in the Father’s decree which should justly alarm His child. Though the abomination of desolation be set up, yet the true believer shall not be defiled; rather shall he be purified, and made white, and tried. Though the earth be burned up, no smell of fire shall come upon the chosen. Amid the crash of matter and the wreck of worlds, the Lord Jehovah will preserve His own.
Calmly resolute in duty, brave in conflict, patient in suffering, let us go our way, keeping to our road, neither swerving from it, nor loitering in it. The end will come; let us go our way till it does.
Rest will be ours. All other things swing to and fro, but our foundation standeth sure. God rests in His love, and, therefore, we rest in it. Our peace is, and ever shall be, like a river. A lot in the heavenly Canaan is ours, and we shall stand in it, come what may. The God of Daniel will give a worthy portion to all who dare to be decided for truth and holiness as Daniel was. No den of lions shall deprive us of our sure inheritance. (Faith's Checkbook)
“Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.”-Daniel 9:17.
A True-Hearted believer does not live for himself. Where there is abundance of grace, and great strength of mind in the service of God, there is sure to be a spirit of unselfishness. It was so with Daniel, who was a model man in the matter of decision of character, and a holy, believing walk before the Lord. That “man greatly beloved was, in all respects, faithful to his convictions. No lions den could silence his courageous prayer. No presence of mighty monarch or of his festive guests could turn him aside from delivering his fateful message.
Yet Daniel was not satisfied. Whatever might be his own condition, he remembered what Jerusalem was, and what the people to whom he belonged were; and, in the depths of his soul, he sorrowed notwithstanding all that God’s grace had wrought within himself. I firmly believe that, the better a man’s own character becomes, and the more joy in the Lord he has in his own heart, the more capable is he of sympathetic sorrow; and, probably, the more of it he will have. If thou hast room in thy soul for sacred joy, thou hast equal room for holy grief; and, depend upon it, thou wilt have both of these emotions if the Lord has perfectly consecrated thee, and purposes to use thee for his glory.
Daniel was also a man of many visions. With the exception of John, whom Daniel greatly resembles, it has scarcely fallen to the lot of any man, unless it be Ezekiel, to have so many wondrous visions of God; yet his visions did not make him visionary. There are many persons, who could not be trusted to see the tip of an angel’s wing; for they would become so proud, ever afterwards, that there would be no holding them; but he, who is fully consecrated to God, may see vision after vision, and he will make a practical use of what he sees, and try to find out something to be done, something to be repented of, something to be prayed for, something that shall be for the good of the Church of God.
Daniel had also been studying the prophecies, and he knew, by what he had discovered, when certain predictions would be fulfilled; but he was not, like some students of prophecy in our day, utterly unpractical. They seem to be so taken up with the future that they do nothing in the present; they are so fully occupied in looking up to the sky, with their mouths wide open, waiting for the coming of the Lord, that they forget that the very best way to wait for the coming of the Master is to be found doing his will. “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” What Daniel learned, from the study of the Sacred Books, he turned to practical account; and finding that a certain time was near, of which good things were foretold, he set his face toward the Lord, and began to pray,-not for himself, but for his people, many of whom were at Jerusalem, hundreds of miles away from him, or scattered in various places all over the face of the earth. For them, he used that bright and sparkling eye which had looked up into the fires supernal. For them, he used that thoughtful and enlightened mind which had studied the oracles of God. For them, he used those knees which were so familiar with the attitude of prayer; and, getting by himself alone, he wrestled mightily-as Jacob had done of old,-only Daniel’s pleading was for a far greater number of people, who were in a still direr trouble,-and he, too, wrestled until he came off more than a conqueror. I am anxious, dear friends, that Daniel’s prayer should, by the blessing of God’s Spirit, inspire us with the spirit of prayer; and that his example, in forgetting himself, and remembering his people, should help us to be unselfish, and lead us to care for our people,-even God’s people,-to whom we have the honor and privilege to belong. Patriotism is an instinct which is found, I think, in every true Englishman, and most of the other nations of the earth can also boast of their patriots. Let it never be said that the Church of God has no feeling of patriotism for the Holy City, for the Heavenly Land and for her glorious King enthroned above. To us, Christian patriotism means love to the Church of God, for-
“There our best friends, our kindred dwell,
There God our Savior reigns.”
Let us have loyalty, by all means; but, chiefly, loyalty to Christ. Let us have true patriotism; but, especially that patriotism which consists in love to “the land of the living” of which Christ is the one King and Ruler.
In meditating upon Daniel’s prayer,” Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary,” I shall, first of all, speak upon the holy place: “thy sanctuary.” Then, secondly, we will consider, the earnest prayer itself; and, lastly, we will think of the conduct consistent with such a prayer as this.
I. First, then, Daniel speaks of The Holy Place: “thy sanctuary.”
Of course, he refers to the temple at Jerusalem, which was then in utter ruin. It had been broken down and burned by the Chaldeans; and Daniel, therefore, rightly calls it desolate, but fervently prays that God would cause his face to shine even upon its ruins.
My first remark is, that the temple at Jerusalem was typical of the Church of God. We are never to regard any building now upon earth as a sanctuary, a holy place. We do, very incorrectly, speak of places as being consecrated to divine worship, but it is utterly impossible that there should be any more holiness in any one building than in another. Holiness is not an attribute of material substances; it does not appertain to iron, stone, mortar, bricks, or timbers. It is something, which belongs to the mind and to the spirit of man; and, from the time of our Lord, there has been no building, which was even typically holy. Sitting on the well at Sychar, he said to the woman of Samaria, “The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father… The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” Stephen declared to the Jewish Sanhedrim, “The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands,” and proved the truth of his statement by quoting the Lord’s own declaration by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me! saith the Lord.” Talk of holy buildings; can anything that man has made be as holy as you bright blue sky, which the Lord has spread out like a curtain, and as a tent to dwell in? Talk of holy water; can any water be holier than that which drops in blessed showers straight from heaven?
“But,” says someone, “if the temple was typical, of what was it a type? Why, of the church of God. There is still a temple upon the earth, but it is a temple not made with hands;-a temple reared, not by human masons, and hewers of stone, and carpenters, and other artificers, but built by God himself. This temple is the Church of God. “Which church?” asks someone. There never was more than one; that is, the Church which Christ has redeemed with his own blood. The living stones, which compose this living temple, were all chosen by God from before the foundation of the world; they are, one by one, being quarried by effectual grace, and built up, by the power of the Divine Spirit, so as to grow unto a holy temple in the Lord.
So we learn that, as the temple was typical, so also it was unique. There were never two temples at one time. True, there was a second, which was built upon the foundations of the first still, there was only one at a time, the second was the continuation of the former one with less of splendor. All through the land of Canaan, there was only one spot where sacrifice might be lawfully offered;-only one shrine where, on high occasions, the multitudes met together for worship. And, in like manner, there is only one Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Which church is that?” again asks someone. None of them all; but there are some people, in all the visible churches, who belong to the one sanctuary of God. We may hope that, even in those churches which have most departed from primitive simplicity, there is a remnant according to the election of grace; and that there is a still larger proportion among those who keep more closely to the Word of God, and to the truth as it is in Jesus. You cannot say of any part, or of the whole of what is called the visible church, that it is the sanctuary of God; it is a sort of shell in which the real Church of God is encased, and which it helps, perhaps, to preserve, but which it also certainly disfigures. There is an elect people to be found on earth. Do you ask, “Who are they?” I answer, “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” They are a people redeemed from among men by a special and peculiar purchase of our Lord;-a people quickened with one life, in whom there is but one living and incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever;-a people in mystical, real, spiritual, indissoluble union with their great covenant Head, the Lord Jesus Christ;-a people who are, some of them, very poor and quite unknown. Some of them, however, are in the high places of the earth; a few may be found even there. They are scattered up and down in the world, and some of them do not know one another, but the Lord knows them all; and whether they know it or not, there is a communion between them all. Some friends talk about exclusive communion; but it is impossible to practice such a thing, for all true communion is with Christ the Head, and also with all the rest of the members, just as, in the body, every member communicates with every other member; and, unless it should cut itself off, and kill itself, it must commune with all the rest. It may tie little pieces of red tape around itself, and try to stop the circulation of the blood; but, as long as there is life, the heart beats through the whole body. Every pulse has its effect upon the whole, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot; so is it with the communion of saints. We are all one body; one life pulsates through all the living Church of the living God. There was but one temple, and there is but one Church.
People try to get a visible form of that one Church; but I believe that is utterly impossible. The Church of Rome claims to be that one Church, and we know what sort of a church that is. And, on the other hand, there are certain brethren who profess to be the one assembly of God. Well, I will not say what kind of church they have made; but I believe that all schemes for comprehending all the saints in one visible church must fail. Adam never saw Eve until God had perfectly fashioned her; and you will never see the Church, the Bride of Christ, till she is perfect and complete; and when she is, you will clap your hands with joy at the sight of the exquisite beauty which God shall have given to her ere she is presented to her Heavenly Bridegroom. The process of perfecting her is going on now, and Christ’s Bride is being “curiously wrought” out of material taken from Christ’s own side; and she will be able to say to him, “Thine eyes did see my subtance, yet being unperfect.” Yes, he sees, and he knows it all.
There was but one temple, then, and there is but one Church, the sanctuary of God, and for that Church we ought to pray. This should correct the idea of some who, when they pray for God to bless his sanctuary, mean, “Lord, bless little Bethel! or, “Lord, bless the parish church!” or, “Lord, bless the extremely orthodox community to which I belong!” or “Lord, bless the select few that gather to hear our dear minister!” I say, “The Lord bless all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; and, wherever there lives, upon the face of the earth, a man who has anything of the grace of God in him, the Lord lift up his countenance upon him! May he deliver him from all errors and mistakes, into which even God’s children fall in a measure, and may he bring them all to the one Lord, the one faith, and the one baptism!” If there be good evidence that anyone is indeed a living one in God’s one true, spiritual temple, shall we not all wish every blessing to such an one in the name of the Most High!
The temple at Jerusalem was, further, the fabric of wisdom. It could only have been built by a Solomon; and Solomon found a band of men, whom God had prepared to carry out the extraordinary work of the temple; for, from its marvelous foundations, which have been lately uncovered, even to its topmost pinnacle, it excelled all the architecture which the world had ever seen. But the Church, which God is erecting, is a far more wonderful work of wisdom infinitely superior to that of Solomon. Wisdom planned it in election; wisdom has worked marvelously, and continues still to work, in the calling out of the saints; wisdom fits each living stone for its proper place, and puts each one into its right position. When it shall be all finished, it will be the marvel of all intelligence’s a they see what a matchless sanctuary God, and not man, has reared, and note how, in every single detail, his infinite wisdom is manifest.
The temple that Solomon built was also the result of great cost. Immense wealth was lavished upon it; and you do not need that I should try to tell you at what cost the Lord is building up his true sanctuary here among men. The’ cost of any one of us, if we are indeed living stones, no arithmetic can ever calculate. Nowhere but in the heart of Christ could our ransom price be found; and even that heart had to be pierced to find it. Well does Peter say, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible’ things, as silver and gold,… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” How marvelous, then, is that temple which is erected at such a cost! Everything about it is according to God’s riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Solomon’s temple, glorious though it was, had not about the’ whole edifice so much of splendor as God displays in even the least of the living stones which he builds upon the one foundation, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Again, the temple, of old, was the shrine of God’s indwelling. It was the one place, under the old dispensation of types, now done away with, where God dwelt in visible manifestation amongst his ancient people. We are told that a peculiar light shone between the wings of the cherubim over the ark of the covenant, and from that pillar, which looked like a cloud by day, and flamed like a mighty beacon by night. It was there that men must go, or, at least, to that spot that they must look, if they sought the Lord; and therefore it was that Daniel worshipped and prayed with his windows open toward Jerusalem. At the present time, the one place, in all the world, where God dwells, is his Church. You can find him anywhere upon the earth as the Creator; but the glory of the Godhead comes out most brilliantly in redemption, for it is of his redeemed people that it is written, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. God has not said, of any one country, “England, America, Russia, Spain, shall be mine;” but Moses truly said, “the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.”
It is in his Church that God dwells. Sometimes, men take us into some gorgeous building, with fretted roof, and wondrous architecture, and as we are led up to a brass railing, we are told that, inside that harrier, it is peculiarly holy; and then we are pointed to some steps, and we are told that, at the top of those step, it is much holier than it is anywhere else. To my mind, it is an amazing thing that men should entertain such absurd notions, for which there is not the slightest shadow of a foundation. But you get where there is a true child of God, and there the place is holy. I declare that I have often stood on holy ground, but it has been by the bedside of some poor, expiring saint with whom the Lord has been dwelling, and through whom he has manifested the wonders of his grace. That is where God dwells, in that godly woman dying in the workhouse. That is where he dwells, in that humble-minded man plodding at the plough tail to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. That is where he dwells, in that saintly woman who endures a daily martyrdom for Christ’s sake, and in that man whose holy life adorns the doctrine of God his Savior in all things. These are the true holy places,-the sacred shrines of God, wherein the Holy Spirit delights to dwell.
The temple at Jerusalem was also the place of God’s peculiar worship; and where is God worshipped now, beloved, but in his living Church? A number of us may meet together, and call ourselves Christians, and think that we are worshipping God; but, unless we are really regenerate, and the Spirit of God is in us, there is no true worship. You cannot offer acceptable worship to God by forms, or ceremonies, or the sweetest music, or even in the simplest style of worship in the plainest meeting-house, or by sitting still, and saying nothing, as the members of the Society of Friends do, unless you worship God, who is a Spirit, in spirit and in truth. It is heart-work, soul-work, the work of the Spirit of God drawing us near to God, which alone is acceptable to him. I dare to say it yet again; there is no worship, under heaven, that can be pleasing to God except the worship of the one true Church, the sanctuary of God; and that Church is composed of believers in Jesus, whose hearts are knit together into one in Christ.
The temple at Jerusalem was also the throne of Jehovah’s power. It was out of Zion that he sent forth his rod; and from that sacred shrine that he spoke, by his ancient prophets, the Word that was full of power. Who could stand against him when he was angry, and spoke in his fury out of his holy place? And Christ’s power, through the Holy Ghost, still goes forth from his Church. The man, who is to preach with power, must be one of those who are quickened by the Holy Spirit, and through whom the Spirit speaks with energy divine. Mere human eloquence is nothing in this matter; nor is learning, by itself, of any account. Though you may have gone to twenty universities, and received from them all the degrees with which men delight to bedizen them, all is in vain without the Spirit of God. It is the life of Christ in a man, the Holy Ghost being with him, that enables him to speak with power. It is the work of the Church of God to evangelize the world. It cannot be evangelized from any other source. God will not send angels to do that which he has committed unto men; and, certainly, he will not employ the wicked to declare his statutes; so his Church must do it. The living waters flowed forth from Jerusalem. Light, and instruction, and the oracles of God, went forth from Jerusalem of old; and they must go forth from the Church of God, which is among men to this day. Let us, each one, take care that we have our share in this blessed employment.
See, then, what the sanctuary of God is. Our Lord Jesus Christ, speaking of the temple of his body, said to the unbelieving Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But now he is gone from us, and we know him no more after the flesh; but we still have God among us. That God is the sacred third Person of the ever-blessed Trinity in Unity,-the Holy Ghost; and though we may not say that he is incarnate among men, yet we can truly say that he dwells among men. There is still a divine indwelling, the Holy Ghost is here on earth now, dwelling in his people, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” The whole body of believers put together makes up the one great spiritual temple, which is the sanctuary of the living God.
II. Now, secondly, I must speak more briefly upon The Earnest Prayer: “Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.”
And, first, I note that it is a prayer quite free from selfishness. Daniel does not even say to the Lord, “Cause thy face to shine upon me.” Have not you, beloved, sometimes felt that you could almost forego the light of God’s countenance yourself if he would but bless his Church? O souls, if God will but save some of you,-if God will but make you into pillars in his eternal temple, some of his saints will be well pleased even if they themselves have to go mourning on their own account!
Further, Daniel’s prayer was the child of thought. He had thought over the condition of the temple at Jerusalem; and, thinking over it, he had become troubled in his mind. It was lying desolate, but he knew that there was a promise that it should be rebuilt. He thought over these two timings; he let his soul lie a-soak in the truth about God’s sanctuary, and then he prayed. It often happens that there is very little power in those prayers that leap out of our lips without premeditation,-born in a minute, like midges, and dying just as soon; but the prayer that lies in the soul, like eggs in a nest, and that has to be sat upon, as it were, and hatched, and brought forth,-there is life in such supplication as that, and that is the kind of prayer which prevails with God. Such was the prayer of Daniel.
It was, also, a prayer which cast itself entirely upon God: “Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.” He does not say, “Lord, send more prophets;” or, “Raise up new kings;” or, “Do this or that;” but only, “Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary. Oh, that we might learn how to pray so that God should be the subject as well as the object of our supplications! O God, thy Church needs thee above everything else! A poor, little, sick, neglected child needs fifty things; but you can put all those needs into one if you say that the child needs its mother. So, the Church, of God needs a thousand things, but you can put them all into one if you say, “The Church of God needs her God.”
There was also great faith in this prayer: “Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.” Daniel seems to say, “Lord, it scarcely needs thy command, it only wants thee to smile upon thy sanctuary, and all shall be well.” But, Daniel, the temple is all in ruins. There ms scarcely a column standing upon its proper pedestal, and hardly one stone left upon another. “Ah!” saith he, “that is true; but, Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.” The face of God is as the sun when it shineth in its strength. The favor of God is not merely something to his Church, but it is everything; the revelation of his love to his people is not simply a blessing, but it is all the blessings of the covenant in one. Cause thy face, O infinitely glorious Jehovah, to shine upon thy Church here below! Will you not, beloved, all join in that prayer?
It was, however, a very comprehensive prayer; because, wherever God’s face shines upon his Church, note what happens. First, her walls are rebuilt. Desolation’s, when God shines upon them, glow into perfection; we shall soon see our church-members multiplied, and all things in proper order, if the Lord will but shine upon us. Then shall you see each one of the Lord’s servants in his right place, ministering before the Lord. I hope we all pray for ministers, but I am afraid we do not pray for them as often and as earnestly as we ought; but, Lord, if thou wilt cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, we shall have ministers enough, and of the best sort, too. If thy face is but turned Zionward, thou wilt find the man who will tell out the love of Jesus. When the Lord shines upon a church, then its worship will be acceptable to him; even the humblest form of it will be acceptable in his sight. We know, beloved, what it is to have God’s face shining upon us, do we not? How sweet the service is then! How intense the prayers! How fervent the praise! How you feel fed! How glad your souls are! In this land of weeping skies and gathering clouds, we know what it is to have a long time of dullness, but how different is the prospect when the sun shines forth in its glory; and how different is our worship when the Lord lifts upon us the light of his reconciled countenance!
Then, too, truth will be proclaimed in all its clearness. We shall not have to complain of the cloudy preaching of which we hear so much nowadays, or of the men whose cleverness consists in confusing the minds of their hearers, or, to speak in plain language, in inventing lies to contradict the blessed Word of God, and to seek to’ undermine everything for which we have ever had respect and regard. They have tried to quench hell, and to pull down heaven; there is nothing that their unholy fingers have not sought to pollute. But if God shall cause his face to shine upon us, we shall have the old truth declared once again in all its clearness.
Then, too, we shall see the beauty of holiness in all the members of God’s spiritual Church. We may well pray for that, for there are many professors, in the present day, who are the enemies of the cross of Christ,-the enemies, because they manage to get into the Church, and then dishonor it by their ungodly conduct. O Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy Church, that all thy people may walk in the beauty of holiness!
Then, also, there will be delightful fellowship. In the sunlight of God’s pretense, we have fellowship one with another, and with the Lord Jesus Christ, and our hearts are exceedingly glad.
And, then, there will be power in the testimony. With God’s face shining upon his sanctuary, his Word goes forth from his servants with energy and force which none can resist. Join, then, beloved, in this prayer of Daniel, “Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.” Do it for the Church’s own sake. What a sad thing it is when the Church is like Samson after the Lord had departed from him,-when she shakes herself, as at other times, but can perform none of her former feats! What wretched Sabbaths some of our brethren have to spend when they go and listen to a profitless ministry, and mingle with brethren as dull, and cold, and dissatisfied as themselves! Join in this prayer also for the world’s sake. If the Church has not the Lord to shine upon her, what is the poor world to do? What hope, what fight, what knowledge of truth, what salvation can come to a perishing world of sinners except through a living Church? What are your own children to do without this shining of God’s countenance? If you take them to a place where the worship is dull and lifeless,-if they are compelled to listen to something that never interests them at all, and to go where there is no one to care about their souls, you may live to see them grow up to break your hearts. Therefore, pray God to bless his Church for your dear children’s sake.
And, then, for God’s sake, for Christ’s sake, for the Holy Spirit’s ’sake, for a lifeless church is a dishonor to God; and the better a church has been, the more of a nuisance does it become when the presence of God is gone from it. May the Lord grant that we may never know what this means in our own case; and, for all these reasons, let us pray to God to cause his face to shine upon his sanctuary.
III. Now I am to conclude by briefly reminding you of The Conduct That Is Consistent With This Prayer. If you and I have been praying this prayer-and I hope we have,-what kind of conduct will be consistent with it?
Well, first, we shall consider the state of the Church. Some professing Christians do not seem to me as if they ever thought of the Church at all; some do not think much about the church with which they are connected. Do all of you, who are members of this church, know whether the Sunday school is getting on well, or not? Now, speak the truth; do you? Did you ever make any enquiry about it! Then there are various societies, for the spread of the gospel, connected with this church; do all of you know that there are such societies; and do you help them all that you can? Come, now, put the matter to your own consciences. Then there are numbers of people, who are members of various little churches, but who never care anything about other churches. They are like the mouse that lived in a box, and when the lid was opened, one day, it came out into the cupboard, and said that it had no idea that the world was so big; yet it was only then looking at the inside of a cupboard. And there are many professing Christians who have not a much wider range of vision than that mouse had in the cupboard; they have no idea of the size of the Church of Christ, or of its various interests. That should not be the case with any of us who are members of the Church of the living God; let us look over all that is! in our Master’s house, let us count his flocks and his herds, and see how everything that is his flourishes and increases.
The next thing for us to do is to lay to heart the evil or the good of Zion. Consider it well, and then be grieved if you see sin triumphant, or error rampant, and do not perceive that the cause of God is advancing in the world.. I am afraid there are many nominally Christian people, who look, every morning, to see the price of Consoles, who have not examined the last Missionary Society’s Report, nor have they any clear idea as to the increase or diminution of the work of the Lord. This ought not to be true of any professed follower of Christ. How can we expect the Lord to cause his face to shine upon his sanctuary when his people have little or no care about that sanctuary?
Then, if we begin to think, and begin to care, we shall try to do what we can for God’s Church. It is all very well for a man to pray, but the value of his prayer very much depends upon its sincerity, and that sincerity will be ’proved by his doing something that will help to answer his own prayer. What art thou doing, my brother, what art thou doing, my sister, to promote the glory of God in his sanctuary? All the living members of the body of Christ contribute something to the general welfare of the whole body. The little finger would be missed if it were cut off, and there is not a tiny valve near the heart., nor a minute vessel anywhere in the human system, which could be’ taken away without inflicting an injury upon the whole body. Just so is it in the Church of Christ; we cannot afford to spare any part of the mystical body of Christ. But what use are you, brother, in that body? What are you doing, sister, for the wellbeing of your fellow-members? There is something, which you should be doing, or else you would not have any portion in the Lord’s spiritual sanctuary.
But when we have done all that we can, let us pray much more than we ever have done. Oh, for a praying Church! I rejoice that, ever since I have been with you, the spirit of prayer has never died out amongst us; and I earnestly entreat you never to let it do so. May our prayer meetings be sustained in fervor, and increased in number! Praying is, after all, the chief matter. Praying is the end of preaching. Preaching has its right use, and must never be neglected; but real heart devotion is worth more than anything else. Prayer is the power, which brings God’s blessing down upon all our work. I beg you, day by day, as you walk the streets, to have this petition in your hearts, and in your mouths, “’Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.’ O God, bless thy Church all over the world,-in Europe, in America, in Asia, in Africa, in Australia! Everywhere prosper thy work among the heathen, and in our own highly-favored land, too, ’cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary.’“ And do not cease to present that prayer until, to the fullest possible extent, it shall be answered. And when will that be? When he comes, for whose coming we look with joyful expectation. The Lord blesses you for Christ’s sake! Amen.