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simply knowing that he is sick, and is not likely to get his spirits comforted by merely studying his disease, so you are not likely to find faith by raking amongst the filth of your fallen nature, or trying to find something good in yourselves which is not there, and will not be there. Your wisest course is to think much of Jesus, and look to him. You will soon find hope in him if you look for it there. You will soon discover grounds for comfort if you look to God in the person of his Son. If you regard the will of God as it is revealed on Calvary, and read it in the crimson lines written adown the Saviour's pierced body, you will soon perceive that his will is love. Turn away from the wounds which the old serpent has given you, and look to the brazen serpent. Look away from your own death to the death of Jesus, and, recollect, that your repentance apart from Christ will only be a legal repentance, full of bondage, and will be of no avail to you. As old Wilcocks says, “Away with that repentance which does not weep at the foot of the cross.” If you do not look to Jesus Christ when you repent, your repentance is not an evangelical repentance, but a repentance which needeth to be repented of. Do, I pray you, receive the truth which I have put before you, or, rather, which the text so plainly presents. The salvation of sinners is the will of God, the work of Christ, and the joy of Christ. Is not this good news ?
II. But I said that the text was MUCH MORE AN EXAMPLE TO BELIEVERS, and so it is.
Every word here is instructive to the follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. “As he is, so are we also in this world," and the more we become like him the more have we attained to that which God would have us be.
Note in the text, first of all, Christ's subserviency. He says, “ My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.” He says nothing about his own will. Thus early did he say, “Not my will, but thine be done.” The man of the world thinks that if he could have his own way be would be perfectly happy, and his dream of happiness in this state or in the next is comprised in this, that his own wishes will be gratified, his own longings fulfilled, his own desires granted to him. This is all a mistake. A man will never be happy in this way. It is not by setting up his own will, and crying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians;" but perfect happiness is to be found in exactly the opposite direction, namely, in the casting down of our own will entirely, and asking that the will of God may be fulfilled in us. “This is my meat," says the sinner, " to do my own will.” Jesus Christ points to another table, and says, “This is my meat, to do the will of him that sent me; my greatest comfort, and the most substantial nourishment of my spirit, are not found in carrying out my own desires, but in submitting all my desires to the will of God.” Beloved, our sorrows grow at the roots of our self will. Could a man have any sorrow if his will were utterly subdued to the will of God? In such a case would not everything please him. Pain, if we did not kick against it, would have a wondrous sweetness ; losses would positively become things to rejoice in, as affording opportunities for patience; we should even take joyfully the spoiling of our goods. When we have conquered ourselves we have conquered all; when we have won the victory over our own
desires, and aversions, and have subdued ourselves, through sovereign grace, to the will of God, then must we be perfectly happy.
Notice in the text, however, in the next place, not only subserviency, but also a recognised commission. O Christian, cultivate full subserviency to the divine will, and let it be your desire also to see clearly your commission from on high. It is the will of God; ay, but it is well for us to add " The will of him that sent me." If I am a soldier, when I am sent upon an errand I have not to consider what I shall do, but, having received my commands, I am bound to obey. Do not many Christians fail to see their commission ? It has come to be a dreadfully common belief in the Christian Church that the only man who has a "call,” is the man who devotes all his time to what is called the “ministry," whereas all Christian service is ministry, and every Christian has a call to some kind of ministry or another. It is not every man that will become “a father in Israel,” for “ye have not many fathers;” it is not every man who can become even an instructor, or an exhorter, but each man must minister according to the gift he hath received. Ye are a nation of priests. Instead of having some one man selected who becomes a priest, and so maintains the old priestcraft in the Christian church, Jesus our Lord and Head has abolished that monopoly for ever. He remains the one great Apostle and High Priest of our profession, and we in him are made, each one of us, through his grace, kings and priests unto God. You are each of you, as believers, sent into this world with a distinct commission, and that commission is very like the commission given to your Master. In your measure the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and he has sent you to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Into the atonement you cannot intrude, Christ has trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with him, but in the place of service you will be no intruder, it is your dwelling-place. You are called to follow Christ your Lord in all holy labour for souls. “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you ;” is not this a part of his dying commission, not to the Apostles only, but unto all the saints ? Let us endeavour to recognise this. When Christ was sent of God he did not forget that he was sent. He did not come into this world to do his own business after he had once been sent to do his Father's will. So you and I must not act as though we were living here to make money, or to bring up our families, and make matters comfortable for ourselves. We are, if we are Christians, sent into the world upon a divine errand, and oh! for grace to recognise the errand and to perform it.
Further, notice the practical character of our Lord's observations or these two points. He says, “My meat is”—what? To consider? To resolve? To calculate ? To study prophecy as to when the world will end ? To meditate upon plans by which we may be able one of these days to do something great ? Not at all. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.” The meat of some people is to find fault with others who do Christ's will, they never seem to have their mouths so well filled as when remarking upon the imperfections of those who are vastly better than themselves. This is like glutting one's self with carrion, and is unworthy of a man of God. Did you ever
know a man whom God blessed who had not some crotchet or singularity? I think I never knew such a man or woman either. Whenever God blesses as there is sure to be something or other to remind men that the vessel containing the treasure is an earthen vessel. Foolish people are 80 fond of crying, “Look at the meanness of the vessel !” as though no treasure were contained within. Were they wise they would understand that this is a part of the divine appointment, that we should have this treasnre in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. Conld you do God's work better, think you? I wish you would try! It is generally true that those who cavil at others, find it inconvenient to walk in any path of usefulness at all.
There are others, of a somewhat better disposition, who find it their meat to project new methods. They invent grand schemes. There is a house to be built for God's people to worship in, and they always know how to build it, so many people are to give so much, and so many so much; the practical part of the business being how much they will give themselves, but upon that point they have remarkably little to say. They are always talking of some grand scheme or other for impossible Christian union, or some magnificent but impracticable Christian effort. Our Lord was practical. You are struck in the whole of his life with the practical character of it. He was no visionary, and no fanatic. Though his holy soul was on fire as much as the most fanatical zealot that ever lived, all his plans and methods were the wisest that could possibly be arranged; so that if men had sat down in their coolest prudence to devise schemes, had they been rightly led they must have devised the very schemes which this warm-hearted, passionate Saviour carried out. He did not theorise, but act. My dear brethren and sisters, I hope we shall earn the same commendation. Many Christians are too fond of mysticisms, quiddities, oddities, and strange questions which minister not unto profit, I heartily wish they would try to win souls for Jesus in the old-fashioned Bible way. Every now and then some particular phase of truth crops up, and certain Christians go perfectly mad about it, wanting to pry between leaves that are folded, or to find out secrets which are not revealed, or to reach some fancied eminence of self-conceited perfection in the flesh. While there are so many sinners to be lost or to be saved, I think we had better stick to preaching the gospel. As long as this world contains millions of those who do not know even the elementary truths of Christianity, would it not be as well for us first of all to go into the highways and hedges, and tell men of our dying Saviour, and point them to the cross ? Let us discuss the millennium, and the secret rapture, and all those other intricate questions by-and-by, when we have got through more pressing needs. Just now the vessel is going to pieces, who will man the life-boat? The house is on a blaze, and who is he that will run the fire-escape up to the window ? Here are men perishing for lack of knowledge, and who will tell them that there is life in a look at the crucified One ? He is the man who shall give men meat to eat; but all others, though they may carry a dish of most exquisite china, will probably give them no meat, but only make them angry at being tantalised with empty wind. Christ's satisfaction of heart was of a most practical kind; he was subservient to God as a commissioned servant, and busy with actually doing the will of God.
But the gist of the text lies here. Our Lord Jesus Christ found both sustenance and delight in thus doing the will of God in winning souls. Believe me, brethren, if you have never known what it is to pluck a brand from the burning, you have never known that spiritual meat which, next to Christ's own self, is the sweetest food a soul can feed upon. To do good to others is one of the most rapid methods of getting good to yourselves. Puead the diaries of Whitefield and of Wesley, and you will be struck with the fact that you do not find them perpetually doubting their calling, mistrusting their election, or questioning whether they love the Lord or not. See the men, preaching to their thousands in the open air, and hearing around them the cries of “What must we do to be saved ?” Why, brethren, they had no time for doubts and fears. Their full hearts had no room for such lumber. They felt that God had sent them into this world to win souls for Christ, and they could not afford to live desponding mistrustful lives. They lived unto God, and the Holy Ghost so mightily lived in them that they were fully assured that they partook of his marvellous power. Some of you good people, who do nothing except read little Plymouthy books, and go to public meetings, and Bible readings, and prophetic conferences, and other forms of spiritual dissipation, would be a good deal better Christians if you would look after the poor and needy around you. If you would just tuck up your sleeves for work, and go and tell the gospel to dying men, you would find your spiritual health mightily restored, for very much of the sickness of Christians comes through their having nothing to do. All feeding and no working makes men spiritual dyspeptics. Be idle, careless, with nothing to live for, nothing to care for, no sinner to pray for, no backslider to lead back to the cross, no trembler to encourage, no little child to tell of a Saviour, no grey-headed man to enlighten in the things of God, no object, in fact, to live for; and who wonders, if you begin to groan, and to murmur, and to look within, until you are ready to die of despair ? But if the Master shall come to you, and put his hand upon you, and say—“I have sent you just as my Father sent me; now go and do my will,” you will find that in keeping his commandments there is great reward. You would find meat to eat that you know nothing of now. Let us have practical Christianity, my brethren. Let us never neglect doctrinal Christianity, nor experimental Christianity, but if we do not have the practice of it in being to others what Christ was to us, we shall soon find the doctrines to be without savour, and the experience to be flavoured with bitterness. Christ found joy in seeking the good of the Samaritan woman. Her heart, hitherto unrenewed, satisfied him when he had won it to himself. Oh, the joy of winning a soul! Get a grip from the hand of one whom you were the means of bringing to Christ; why, after that, all the devils in bell may attack you, but you will not care for them, and all the men in the world may rage against you, and say you do not serve God from proper motives, or do not serve him in a discreet way; but since God has set his seal upon your work, you can afford to laugh at them. Do but win souls, beloved, through the power
of the Holy Spirit, and you shall find it to be a perennial spring of joy in your own souls.
But, notice: our Lord says, in addition to his finding it his meat to do God's will that he also desired to finish his work. And this is our satisfaction, to persevere till our work is finished. We shall never be content
• Till all the blood-bought race
Shall meet around the throne ;
And make his wonders known." You do not know how near you may be to the completion of your work. You may not have to toil many more days. The chariot-wheels of eternity are sounding behind you. Hasten, Christian ! Use the moments zealously, for they are very precious. You are like the work-girl with her last inch of candle. Work hard ! " The night cometh wherein no man can work.” “I paint for eternity” said the . painter; so let us do, let us work for God as those whose work will endure when selfish labours shall burn as wood, hay, and stubble in the last tremendous fire. To finish his work! To finish his work ! Be this our aim. When the great missionary to the Indians was dying, the last thing that he did was to teach a little child its letters, and when someone marvelled to see so great a man at such a work he said he thanked God that when he could no longer preach he had at least strength enough left to teach that poor little child. So would he finish his life's work, and put in the last little stroke to complete the picture. It should be our meat and our drink to push on, never finding our meat in what we have done but in what we are doing and still have to do; finding constantly our refreshment in the present work of the present hour as God enables us to perform it, spending and still being spent. Never let us say, “ I have had my day; let the young people, take their turn.” Suppose the sun said, “I have shone; I shall not rise to-morrow.” Imagine the stars in their beauty saying, “ We have for so long a time shot our golden arrows through the darkness, we will now retire for ever.” What if the air should refuse to give us breath, or the water should no longer ripple in its channels, or if all nature should stand still because of what it once did—what death and ruin would there be! No, Christian, there must be no loitering for you ; each day be this your meat, to do the will of him that sent you, and to finish his work.
III. And now, lastly, I have not strength, neither have you the time, to consider THE GLORY WHICH JESUS CHRIST SHOULD HAVE FROM US, when we know that he could truly say, “It is my meat to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work."
How could he ever have loved us? It is strange that the Son of God should have set his affections upon such unworthy beings. I shculd not have wondered, my brother, at his loving you, but it is a daily marvel to me that Jesus should have loved me. It is a wonder of wonders that he should come to save us ; that when we were so lost and ruined that we did not even care about his love, but rejected it when we heard of it, and despised it even when it came with some degree of power to our hearts, that he should still have loved us notwithstanding