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and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." Brethren, you have been to the mercy-seat, and tried whether God hears prayer, and it has been so—he did hear prayer. We believed his word, and in due time our faith has been turned to sight, and the promise has been fulfilled. We have read in God's Word that he would sanctify our trials to us, and that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose;" what, then, is my witness, after having been week after week, and even month after month, racked with pain, and laid low with sickness, what have these things been to me? Have they worked my good ? Do they bring forth the comfortable fruits of righteousness? My truthful witness is, " and it was so." I feel persuaded that every Christian shall have to say of his afflictions that they have been blessed to him : “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word,” said one of old, and many in these modern times can say the same. good for me that I have been afflicted;" the Lord said it would be," and it was so."
Up to this hour it has always been true with regard to us, his people, that what the Lord has said he has surely performed. We
“Sing the sweet promise of his grace,
And the performing God." Let me remind you that our history is only the common experience of all God's people, and if there be anything uncommon in the stories of the saints, then there is only a more than usually clear confirmation of the truth. Look at the martyrs, they suffered what we can scarcely bear to read of, yet the Lord said he would be with them: " and it was so."' They wore the chain for Christ's sake, and he promised to be their companion: “and it was so.” They went to the stake or bowed their head to the axe, and they were promised that even to the end he would be with them: "and it was so." Right along, through all the history of the church militant, and I might also ask the confirmation of the church triumphant too, the saints declare that "it was so." Christ hatlı kept his word to the letter. Not one good thing hath failed of all that he ever promised to his people.
And now, having taken this very brief run through history, let me ask you to follow me when I say that as it has been in the past so it will be. It is always good reasoning when we are dealing with God to infer the future from the past : “ Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.” Having the same God and the same promises, we may expect ever to see the same results. As for the future, a large part of Scripture is as yet unfulfilled. Many persons try to interpret it, but the man is not born who can explain the Revelation; yet whatever God has there declared, will be explained by providence. "God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain. Whatever he hath there promised, it shall be said of it by-andby: “and it was so.” We learn that there is to be a wide spread of the gospel: “Surely all flesh shall see the salvation of God;” Ethiopia shall stretch out her arms to Christ; be assured that it shall so be. Let the missionary toil on, and the devil rage on if he will—the devil shall
be disappointed, and the servant of God shall have bis desire. God will honour his church, when she has faith enough to believe in his promises. There is to be in the fulness of time a second coming of the Lord Jesus. He who went:up from Olivet left this as his promise, that in the same manner as he went up into heaven, he would return again. He shall surely come. Virgin souls who are awake, and watching for the midnight cry, will hear it ere long. And when he cometh, the dead in Christ shall rise; there shall be a resurrection of the just at his appearing. So he hath promised; and “ blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no power.” There are no bonds of death that can hold the saints in their graves when the Lord descends; at the sound of the archangel's trumpet, God has said they shall rise, “ and it shall be so." They shall every one of them return from the land of the enemy. And then the glory—the Millennial splendour-we will not explain it, but we know that it is promised, and whatever has been declared shall surely be; the saints shall possess the kingdom, and shall reign with Christ. And heaven and the glory-land, and the eternal future, where the ever blessed God shall reveal himself unto bis servants, and they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads : every golden word, every sapphire sentence which glows and sparkles with the glory of the Most High, and the lovingkindness of the Infinite-all shall be fulfilled: it shall be said of the whole, “and it was so.” Ay! and the dread future of the lost—those awful words that tell of fires that burn, and yet do not consume; and of a wrath that slays, and yet men live beneath its power, verily, verily, these shall all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one word that God hath spoken shall fail. “These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.” Of doom or of glory, of promise or of threatening, it shall be said, “and it was so." And when the end shall come, and Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God even the Father, and the drama of history shall be ended, and the curtain shall drop, and God shall be all in all, all shall be summed up in this sentence," He spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast : he said it, and it was so.'
I desire, dear brethren and sisters, for your consolation, to bring this truth home to yourselves, if the Spirit of God will enable me. “It was so”—this has been true—it shall be so to you. God's promises shall all be kept to you personally. God will fulfil his word to you in every letter. Observe, there will occur cases in which there will be no visible help toward the fulfilment of the divine promise, and no tendencies that way ; but, if God has pledged his word, he will keep it. Note well, that in the erection of the world, there was nothing to help God. With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him ? When he began to fit up the world for man, and to furnish the house which he had made in the beginning, there was darkness, and that was no aid; there was chaos, and that was no help. Now you are troubled at the present time; your condition is one of confusion, disorder, darkness, you see nothing that could make God's promise to come true, not a finger to help, no one even to wish well to you. Never mind, God wants no helper; he works gloriously alone. See how the earth stands. What hangeth it on ? He hangeth the earth upon nothing. Look
at the unpillared arch above it. There are no buttresses, no supports, no props to the sky, yet it has not fallen, and it never will. Trust ye in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength; ” and if he has given you a promise, and you have laid hold upon it, though nothing should appear to aid its fulfilment, yet it shall be fulfilled; you will have to write," and it was so."
Yes, and this shall be the case, though many circumstances tend the other way. When there seems to be a conflict against Godnot only no help, but much resistance; do not thou fear. What matters it to God? Though all the men on earth and all the devils in hell were against him, what mattereth it? Though heaps of chaff contend against the wind, what mattereth it to the tempest ? They shall be whirled along in its fury. What if the wax defy the flame-it shall but melt in the fervent heat? If all the world and all hell should declare that God will not keep his promise, yet he will perform it; and we shall have to say, “it was so. No opposition can stay the Lord. But you may say,
""This cannot be true, surely, in my case. I could have believed it on a great scale, but for myself !” Ah! doth God speak truth in great things and lie in little ones? Wilt thou blaspheme the Most High by imagining that in public acts of royalty he is true, but in the private deeds of his family he is false? What would be a worse imputation against a man? Who shall throw such a charge upon the eternal God? The Lord promised his servant Elijah to take care of him: did he not make the ravens feed him ? Did he not send him to the widow of Sarepta, and multiply her meal and her oil? He was as true to him in the raven's matter, and in the handful of meal matter, as when in the business of the great rain he bowed his head between his knees on Carmel, and saw at length the heavens covered with clouds and the land deluged with showers. God will keep his word in little things to you. Do not imagine that he forgets your mean affairs. The hairs of your head are numbered. A sparrow lights not on the ground without your Father. Are you not better than the sparrows which are sold at three for two farthings in the market ? Will you not rest in your Father's care, and believe that his promise shall be fulfilled ? “ Thy bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure; thou shalt dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”
God's word stands true, even when our unworthiness is in the way. I know you have fancied, “ If I were a great saint, God would surely keep his word to me, but I being a very grievous sinner, how shall he be gracious to me?” And dost thou think that God is good and truthful only to the good and true? Wouldst thou be so thyself ? Surely we must deal honestly with all men, whosoever they may be. Their character is no excuse for our marring our own reputation. And so, poor sinner, if thou come to God, he will not cheat thee, and say, “I said, 'If thou confess thy sin thou shalt have mercy;' but I did not mean it for such an one as thou art.” No, Christ has said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out; ” and if thou come, though thou be the blackest sinner out of hell, yet Christ shall be true to thee; for it is not thy character, but his character, that is to be considered in the promise. Even if we believe not, he abides faithful: he cannot deny himself.
Yes, and his promise comes true, and we have to say of it," and it was so,” even in cases of our own confessed incapacity to receive it. Take the case of Abraham, for that is typical of many others in this respect; he had the promise of a son and heir, and though as for his own body, it was as dead, and Sarah was well stricken in years ; Abraham did not consider himself or Sarah, but believed the promise, and in the fulness of time, there was the sound of laughter in the tent, for Isaac was born. We err when we become so depressed by our own incapacity as to conceive doubts of God's faithfulness. The Lord gives the promise that the barren woman shall keep house, and it is so. Our desert-hearts shall have the blessing; it shall drop upon the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills shall rejoice on every side. Our weakness shall not hinder the divine promise. He is able to bless us even when we feel only fit to be cursed. Oh, empty one, God can fill you ! O dried branch and withered tree, thou that standest like an oak, smitten by lightning, only fit for the burning, the Lord, the everJasting God can quicken thee, and put fresh sap in thee, and make thy branch to bud again to the glory of his holy name. He promises, and if thou believest, thon shalt have to say, “ and it was so."
It will be thus right on to the end of the chapter. A few days ago I stood by the side of a dear departing brother, who feebly lifted his hands from the bed, and said just, these few words: “ Christ, Christ, Christ is all.” And then he said, as I bade him good-bye, "We shall meet in heaven. I shall go there soon and you will follow ; but I hope it will be a long while before you do." I asked him whether that was quite a benediction, and he said, “You know what I mean. The church needs you.” About half-past five this afternoon, he who rejoiced that he would soon be in heaven entered within the gate of pearl. He had served us well as a deacon of this church, and now he sees the face of the ever blessed. He believed while here on earth that it was bliss to be with Christ, and he finds it so ; he is saying, “ The half has not been told me.” Well, well, whether we live to old age, or depart in mid-life, or die in early youth, what matters it. We shall find that passing across the river is delightful when at eventide it is light. And 0 the glory of the everlasting daybreak! The splendour of the sun that goeth no more down! O the bliss of beholding saints and angels, and seeing the king in his beauty! The messengers of God said that heaven is blessed, and it is so—it is so. They said, “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,” and it is so.
I would leave a thought with those who are exercised with doubts and fears about the Lord's sure mercies. It is a very hard thing that we should doubt our God, but we do; and therefore let us shoot arrows at unbelief. Note well, that when God spake in the creation, "and it was so," there was only his power concerned. Supposing he had spoken, and it had not been so; then the only result would have been that God was proved not to be omnipotent. But his might did not fail him; his glorious attribute of power showed its majesty, and what the Lord spake was accomplished. Yet in this instance only one attribute was at stake. Now, when you consider one of God's promises recorded in the Bible, there is more than one attribute engaged for its fullment; there are two at least, for there is the divine truth at stake as well as the divine power. If he said it should be, and it is not, it is either that he would not or he could not; if he could not, then his power has failed; but if he would not when he promised, then his truth is forfeited. We have, therefore, a double hold when dealing with covenant promises, and may rest in two immutable things wherein it is impossible for God to lie. But sometimes in certain promises even more is observable, for instance, you who have known the Lord these ten or twenty years, have been helped hitherto; and suppose the Lord were to fail you now, then not only are his power and his truth compromised, but his immutability also, since he would then have changed, and would no longer be the same God to-day as he was yesterday. Three attributes are leagued upon your side; you have three sacred pledges. Frequently also you have God's wisdom brought into the affair in hand. You have been in great difficulty, and you have seen no means of escape; but you have laid the case before God, and left it there; he has promised that he will “deliver thee in six troubles ; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.” He has also said, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee;" now, if he does not deliver and sustain, there are four attributes at stake. His power-can he do it? His truth-will he keep his promise? His immutability, has he changed ? His wisdom--can he find a way of escape ? Frequently, my brethren, the Lord's honour is also brought into the field in addition to the other attributes. You recollect how Moses put it when the Lord said, “Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them; and that I may consume them.” Then Moses said, "Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, for mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth ?” See, too, how Joshua uses the same argumeut with the Lord : “ The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it: and whát wilt thou do unto thy great name?” O that is grand pleading—that is grand pleading! Now if the Lord has brought you into deep waters, and you have put your trust in him, and said, “I know that he will deliver me," if he does not do so, the enemy will say, “ It is a vain thing to trust in God, for the Lord does not preserve his people.” His hononr is at stake; and, ah, he is a jealous God. He will rouse himself, and go forth like a man of war to show himself strong in the behalf of them that trust in him. In addition to all this, divine love is included in the issue. How did Moses put it? The people said, “ Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness ? And Moses argued it thus—“Didst thou bring ail these people oat that they might die in the wilderness.” Hast thou no love? Wilt thou be cruel to the sons of men ? Even thus may we plead with the benevolence and pity of the Lord. “Will the Lord cast off for ever? Will he be favourable no more ?"
"And can he have taught me to trust in his name,
And thus far have brought me to put me to shame?" Is it so that he has taught me to long after the sweetness of his grace, and yet will he deny it to me? Does the Lord tantalise men in this way? I could have been happy enough in my poor ignorant way as a sinner.