“The Weaned Child, A Quieted Soul”, Charles H. Spurgeon, Psalm 131:2 (Contentment, Humility, Divine Will, Child-like Spirit)

The Weaned Child by Charles H. Spurgeon

“My soul is even as a weaned child.” — Psalm 131:2

I WAS once conversing with a very excellent aged minister, and while we were talking about our frames and feelings, he made the following confession: he said, “ When I read that passage in the psalm, ‘My soul is even as a weaned child,’ I wish it were true of me, but I think I should have to make an alteration of one syllable, and then it would exactly describe me at times; * My soul is even as a weaning rather than a weaned child ,’ for,” said he, “ with the infirmities of old age, I fear I get fretful and peevish, and anxious, and when the day is over I do not feel that I have been in so calm, resigned, and trustful a frame of mind as I could desire.”

I suppose, dear brethren, that frequently we have to make the same confession. We wish we were like a weaned child, but we find ourselves neglecting to walk by faith, and getting into the way of walking by the sight of our eyes, and then we get like the weaning child which is fretting and worrying, and unrestful, and who causes trouble to those round about it, and most of all, trouble to itself.

Weaning was one of the first real troubles that we met with after we came into this world, and it was at the time a very terrible one to our little hearts. We got over it somehow or other. We do not remember now what a trial it was to us, but we may take it as a type of all troubles; for if we have faith in him who was our God from our mother’s breasts, as we got over the weaning, and do not even recollect it, so we shall get over all the troubles that are to come, and shall scarcely remember them for the joy that will follow.

If, indeed, Dr. Watts be correct in saying that when we get to heaven we shall “recount the labours of our feet,” then, I am quite sure that we shall only do it, as he says, “with transporting joy.” There, at least, we shall each one be as a weaned child.

It is a very happy condition of heart which is here indicated, and I shall speak about it with a desire to promote the increase of such a state of heart among believers, with the hope that many of us may reach it, and that all of us who have reached it may continue to say still, “My soul is even as a weaned child.”

I. First, let us think WHAT THE PSALMIST INTENDED BY THIS DESCRIPTION;

and we will begin by noticing the context, in order to understand him, and then we will consider the metaphor in order still further to see what he literally meant.

First, look at the context; and you will see that he intended that pride had been subdued in him, and driven out of him, for he commences the psalm with this, “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty.” We are all proud by nature, though there is not one among us that has anything to be proud of.

It makes no difference what our condition is: we universally dream that we have something whereof to glory. The Lord Mayor is not a bit prouder in his gold chain than the beggar in his rags. Indeed, pride is a kind of weed that will grow on very poor soil quite as freely as in the best-cultivated garden. Every man thinks more of himself than God thinks of him, for when a man is in his highest estate and at his best, he is nothing but dust, and the Lord knoweth his frame, and remembereth that he is just that, and nothing better. Some poor creatures, however, indulge their pride, and let it run away with them as a wild horse with its rider.

They cannot be trusted with a little money but straightway they hold their heads so high that one might think the stars in danger. They cannot be trusted with a little talent but straightway their genius is omnipotent in their own opinion, and they themselves are to be treated like demi-gods. And if they are God’s servants, they cannot have a little success in the ministry or in the Sunday-school without becoming quite unpleasant to those round about them, through their boastful ways and eagerness to talk of self.

Scarcely can they have enjoyment, even of the presence of God, but what they begin to make an idol of their attainments and graces, and begin to say, “My mountain, my mountain, standeth firm. I, I shall never be moved.” Great I grows without any watering, for the soil of nature is muddy, and the rush of pride takes to it mightily. You need never be troubled about a man’s keeping up his opinion of himself, he will be pretty sure to do that, the force of nature usually runs in the direction of self-conceit.

This pride very often leads to haughtiness, domineering ways towards others, and contempt of them, as if they were not as good as we are; and if we see any errors and mistakes in them we conclude that they are very foolish, and that we should act much better if we were in their position.

If they act nobly and well, this same pride of ours leads us to pick holes in them, and to detract from their excellence; and if we cannot get up as high as they are, we try to pull them down to our own level. This is a base thing to do, but the proud man is always mean, loftiness of looks and meanness of heart run in a leash like a couple of hounds.

The humble man is the truly great man, and because God’s gentleness has made him great he is sure to be kept lowly before the Lord by the Holy Spirit. The proud man is really little; nay more, he is really nothing even in the things wherein he boasts himself.

David could say, “My heart is not haughty.” His brother, Eliab, said that he was proud when he went down to carry his father’s present to his soldier brothers, but it was not so.

His heart was content to be with the sheep: he was quite willing to follow the “ewes great with young.” When he was in Saul’s court they thought him ambitious, but he was not so, he was quite satisfied to be a servant there, to fight the battles of Israel.

The place of captain over a wandering band was forced upon him, he would sooner have dwelt at home. And when he was king he did not exalt himself. Absalom when he was aspiring to the kingdom was a far greater man to look at than his father David, for David walked in lowliness of spirit before the Lord. Whatever faults he had, he certainly had not the fault of vanity, or of being intoxicated in spirit with what God had done for him.

Now, it is a great blessing when the Spirit of God keeps us from being haughty and our looks from being lofty. We shall never be as a weaned child till it gets to that, for a weaned child thinks nothing of itself. It is but a little babe; whatever consciousness it has at all about the matter, it is not conscious of any strength or any wisdom, it is dependent entirely upon its mother’s care; and blessed is that man who is brought to lie very low in his own spirit before the Lord, resting on the bosom of infinite love.

After all, brethren, we are nobodies, and we have come of a line of nobodies. The proudest peer of the realm may trace his pedigree as far as ever he likes, but he ought to remember that if his blood is blue, it must be very unhealthy to have such blood in one’s veins. The common ruddy blood of the peasant is, after all, far healthier. Big as men may account themselves to be on account of their ancestors, we all trace our line up to a gardener, who lost his place through stealing his Master’s fruit, and that is the farthest we can possibly go.

Adam covers us all with disgrace, and under that disgrace we should all sit humbly down. Look into your own heart, and if you dare to be proud, you have never seen your heart at all. It is a mass of pollution: it is a den of filthiness.

Apart from divine grace, your heart is a seething mass of putrefaction, and if God’s eternal Spirit were not to hold it in check, but to let your nature have its way, envyings, tastings, murders, and every foul thing would come flying forth in your daily life. A sinner and yet proud! It is monstrous.

As for children of God, how can they be proud? I fear we are all too much so; but what have we to be proud of? What have we that we have not received? How then can we boast? Are we dressed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness? We did not put a thread into it; it was all given us by the charity of Jesus. Are our garments white? We have washed them in the blood of the Lamb. Are we new creatures? We have been created anew by omnipotent power, or we should still be as we were. Are we holding on our way?

It is God that enables us to persevere, or we should long ago have gone back. Have we been kept from the great transgression? Who has kept us? We certainly have not kept ourselves. There is nothing that we have of which we can say, “I did this and it is all my own,” except our faults and our sins, and over these we ought to blush. Yet, brethren, when the Lord favours us, especially in early life — though I do not know but what it is almost as much so with us who have got a little farther on — if you get a full sail and a favouring breeze, and the vessel scuds along before the wind, there is need of a great deal of ballast, or else there will soon be a tale to tell of a vessel that was upset and a sailor who was too venturesome, and was never heard of more. We have need continually to be kept lowly before God, for pride is the besetting sin of mankind.

Oh, that God would give us to be as David was — not haughty, neither our eyes lofty.

This is the first help towards being as a weaned child.

And next he tells us ‘ that he was not ambitious, — “Neither do I exercise myself in great matters.”

He was a shepherd; he did not want to go and fight Goliath, and when he did do it, it was because his nation needed him. He said, “Is there not a cause?” Else he had kept in the background still. When he went into the hold in the cave of Adullam, he never lifted a hand to become king. He might have smitten his enemy several times, and with one stroke have ended the warfare and seized the throne, but he would not lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed, for, like a weaned child, he was not ambitious. He was willing to go where God would put him, but he was not seeking after great things.

Now, dear brethren, we shall never be as a weaned child if we have got high notions of what we ought to be, and large desires for self. If we are great men in our own esteem, of course we ought to have great things for ourselves; but if we know ourselves, and are brought into a true condition of mind, we shall avoid those “vaulting ambitions which o’erleap themselves.”

For instance, we shall not be hankering after great possessions. “Having food and raiment” we shall be “therewith content.” If God adds to our store of the comforts of life, we shall be grateful. We shall be diligent in business, but we shall not be greedy and miserly. “While others stretch their arms, like seas, to grasp in all the shore,” we shall be content with far less things, for we know that greed after earthly riches brings with it slackness of desire as to true riches.

The more hungry a man is after this world, the less he pines after the treasures of the world to come. We shall not be covetous, if we are like a weaned child neither shall we sigh for position and influence; whoever heard of a weaned child doing that? Let it lie in its parent’s bosom and it is content, and so shall we be in the bosom of our God. Yet some Christian men seem as if they could not pull unless they are the fore horses of the team.

They cannot work with others, but must have the chief place, contrary to the word of the apostle who says, “My brethren, be ye not many masters, lest ye receive the greater condemnation.”

Blessed is that servant who is quite content with that position which his master appoints him — glad to unloose the latchet of his Lord’s shoes — glad to wash the saints’ feet— glad to engage in sweeping a crossing for the king’s servants. Let us do anything for Jesus, counting it the highest honour even to be a door-mat inside the church of God, if we might be such a thing as that, for the saints even to remove the filthiness from themselves upon us, so long as we may but be of some use to them, and bring some glory to God.

You remember the word of Jeremiah to Baruch. Baruch had been writing the roll for the prophet, and straightway Baruch thought he was somebody. He had been writing the word of the Lord, had he not? But he prophet said to him, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” And so saith the mind of the Spirit to us all. Do not desire to occupy positions of eminence and prominence, but let your soul be as a weaned child — not exercising itself in great matters.

Very often we seek after great approbation. We want to do great deeds that people will talk about, and especially some famous work which everybody will admire. This is human nature, for the love of approbation is rooted in us. As the old rhyme puts it —

“The proud to gain it, toils on toils endure;
The modest shun it but to make it sure.”

But that man has arrived at the right position who has become “careless, himself a dying man, of dying man’s esteem,” who judges what is right before God, and does it caring neither for public nor private opinion in the matter, to whom it is no more concern what people may say of an action which his conscience commends than what tune the north wind whistles as it blows over the Alps.

He who is the slave of man’s opinions is a slave indeed. I would sooner go to some barbarous clime where yet the slave-whip would fall upon my shoulders, and the cruel fetter would chain me to the floor, than live in dread of such a thing as I myself, and tremble with fear of offending this man and the other by doing what I believe to be right. He who fears God needs fear no one else; but he who reaches that point has undergone a painful weaning, and had it not been for that he would not be able to say, “My soul is even as a weaned child.”

 Frequently, too, we exercise ourselves in great matters by having a high ambition to do something very wonderful in the church. This is why so very little is done. The great destroyer of good works is the ambition to do great works.

A little thing can be done by a Christian brother well; but if it strikes him, “I will have a society to do it, and a committee, and a secretary, and a president, and a vice-president,” (it being well known that nothing can be done till you get a committee, and a president, and all that kind of thing), the brother soon hampers himself, and his work ends in resolutions and reports, and nothing more.

But the brother who says “Here is a district which nobody visits; I will do what I can in it” — he is probably the man who will get another to help him, and another, and the work will be done The young man who is quite content to begin with preaching in a little room in a village to a dozen is the man who will win souls. The other brother, who does not mean preaching till he can preach to five thousand, never will do anything, he never can.

I read of a king who always wanted to take the second step first, but he was not a Solomon; there are many such about, not kings but common people, who do not’ want to do the first thing, the thing they can do, the thing which God calls them to do, the thing they ought to do, but they must do something great.

Oh, dear brother, if your soul ever gets to be as it ought, you will feel, “The least thing that I can do, I shall be glad to do. The very poorest and meanest form of Christian service, as men think it, is better than I deserve.” It is a great honour to be allowed to unloose the latchets of my Lord’s shoes. A young man who had a small charge once, and only about two hundred hearers, complained to an old minister that he wished he could move somewhere else; but the old one said, “Do not be in a hurry, brother. The responsibility of two hundred souls is quite heavy a load enough for most of us to carry.”

And so it is. We need not be so eager to load ourselves with more. He is the best draughtsman, not who draws the largest but the most perfect circle; if the circle is perfect nobody finds fault with it because it is not large. Fill your sphere, brother, and be content with it. If God shall move you to another, be glad to be moved; if he move you to a smaller, be as willing to go to a less prominent place as to one that is more so. Have no will about it. Be a weaned child that has given up fretting, and crying, and worrying, and leaves its mother to do just what seemeth good in her sight. When we are thoroughly weaned it is well with us — pride is gone, and ambition is gone too. We shall want much nursing by one who is wiser and gentler than the best mother before we shall be quite weaned of these two dearly beloved sins.

Next, David tells us he was not intrusive, — “Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” I have seen many men always vexed and troubled because they would exercise themselves in things too high for them. These things too high for them have been many; I will mention only a few. They have expected to comprehend everything, and have never been satisfied because many truths are far above and out of their reach: especially they have expected to know all the deep things of God — the doctrine of election, and how predestination coincides with the free agency of man, and how God orders everything, and yet man is responsible — just as responsible as if there had been no foreknowledge and no foreordination.

It is folly to hope to know these “things too high for us.” Here is a little child that has just come off its mother’s knee and it expects to understand a book on trigonometry, and cries because it cannot; and here is another little child that has been down to the sea, and it is fretting and kicking in its nurse’s arms because it cannot get the Atlantic into the hollow of its hand. Well, it will have to kick, that will be the end of it; but it is fretting itself for nothing, without any real use or need for its crying, because a little child’s palm cannot hold an ocean. Yet a child might sooner hold the Atlantic and Pacific in its two hands, without spilling a drop, than you and I will ever be able to hold all revealed truth within the compass of our narrow minds.

We cannot know everything, and we cannot understand even half what we know. I have given up wanting to understand. As far as I can, I am content with believing all that I see in God’s word. People say, “But he contradicts himself.” I dare say I do, but I never contradict God to my knowledge, nor yet the Bible. If I do, may my Lord forgive me. Do not believe me for a minute if I speak contrary to God’s word, in order to appear consistent. The sin of being inconsistent with my poor fallible self does not trouble me a tithe as much as the dread of being inconsistent with what I find in God’s word. Some want to shape the Scriptures to their creed, and they get a very nice square creed too, and trim the Bible most dexterously: it is wonderful how they do it, but I would rather have a crooked creed and a straight Bible than I would try to twist the Bible round to suit what I believe.

“Neither do I exercise myself,” says the psalmist, “with things too high for me,” and I think we do well to keep very much in that line. “Oh, but really one ought to be acquainted with all the phases of modern doubt.” Yes, and how many hours in a day ought a man to give to that kind of thing? Twenty-five out of the twenty-four would hardly be sufficient, for the phases of modern thought are innumerable, and every fool who sets up for a philosopher sets up a new scheme; and I am to spend my time in going about to knock his card-houses over. Not I! I have something else to do; and so has every Christian minister. He has real doubts to deal with, which vex true hearts; he has anxieties to relieve in converted souls, and in minds that are pining after the truth and the right; he has these to meet, without everlastingly tilting at windmills, and running all over the country to put down every scarecrow which learned simpletons may set up.

We shall soon defile ourselves if we work day after day in the common sewers of scepticism. Brethren, there is a certain highway of truth in which you and I, like wayfaring men, feel ourselves safe, let us travel thereon. There are some things that we do know, because we have experienced them, — some doctrines which nobody can beat out of us, because we have tasted them and handled them.

Well, if we can go further, well and good; but to my mind, we are foolish to go further and fare worse. If a man has reached the Land’s End, and some great genius should tell him to walk on farther than Old England reaches and ridicule him because he will not go a step in advance into the fog which conceals an awful plunge, I think, upon the whole, he may be content to put up with the ridicule. Put your foot down, brother, and see whether there is anything under it— whether there is a good text or two underneath— whether there is a little personal experience underneath, and, if you do not find it, let the advanced thinkers go alone; you had better keep on the rock.

“Prove all things” — do not run after their novelties till you have proved them; and what you have proved hold fast. Be conservative in God’s truth, and radical too, by keeping to the root of the matter. Hold fast what you know, and live mainly upon the simplicities of the gospel, for, after all, the food of the soul does not lie in controversial points: it lies in points which we will never have controverted, for “without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.”

There is the food of the soul where there is no controversy in any devout Christian spirit. Exercise yourself, then, in the plainer matters, and do not imbibe the notion that you must read all the quarterlies, and master “The Contemporary Review,” and the like, or else you will be a nobody; be content to be just such a nobody as a weaned child is, and say, “I exercise not myself in great matters or in things too high for me.”

 The same evil comes up in another form when we want to know all the reasons of divine Providence, — why this affliction was sent, and why that, — why father died, — why those two children that we loved so well were taken from us, — why we do not prosper in our various enterprises. Why? Why? Why? Ah, when we begin asking “Why? why? why?” what an endless task we have before us. If we become like a weaned child we shall not ask “why?” but just believe that in our heavenly Father’s dispensations there is a wisdom too deep for us to fathom, a goodness veiled but certain.

We exercise ourselves in things too high for us, too, when we begin considering the results of duty and hesitate to do it. A man’s course is quite clear in the word of God, but he says, “If I do that, how am I to provide for my family? If I do that, shall I not be throwing up a sphere of usefulness? I know it would be right to do it; my conscience tells me that I ought; but other people manage somehow to make notches in their conscience, and they are evidently very useful where they are.”

Ah, my dear brother, pray God to lead you in a plain path, and remember, you have nothing to do with results, except to receive them as tests of your faithfulness. Results must always be left with God; for if the result of doing right would be that you lost your life, your Master tells you that you must hate even your own life also, or else you cannot be his disciple.

You will get helped if you can trust, but if for the sake of this or that you do wrong, — I do not mind how you put it, — you are doing evil that good may come, and you are grieving the Spirit of God. Your mind will never get to be like a weaned child. It is not the child-like spirit to try to excuse yourself for maintaining a false position. The child-like spirit is to do what our heavenly Father tells us, because he tells us, and leave the consequences with him.

Thus I have said enough, perhaps too much, about the connection.

Now, from the simile itself we gather that the condition of heart of which David spoke was this— that he was like one who was able to give up his natural food, which seemed to him absolutely necessary, and which he greatly enjoyed. The weaned babe has given up what it loved.

By nature we hang on the breasts of this world, and only sovereign grace can wean us therefrom, but when we give up self-righteousness, self-confidence, the love of the world, the desire of self-aggrandisement, when we give up trusting in man, trusting in ceremonies, trusting in anything but God, then has our soul become like a weaned child. It has given up what nature feeds upon, that it may feed upon the bread of heaven.

It means, next, that he had at last conquered his desires, his longings, his pinings. The weaning child has his desires strong upon him, and he frets, but the child weaned is content, his desires lie still. And the child of God, when sufficient grace has come, feels no desires for that which once delighted him. He submits himself so completely to his Father’s will that, if he is to do without, he does without. Paul said he had learned in whatsoever state he was therewith to be content; there was another lesson which Paul had learned, but he does not tell us so: I have no doubt he had learned in whatsoever state therewithout to be content, which is a good deal more. To be content to be without as well as to be with is a high attainment. Not to have and to be as happy in not having as if one had all he desired is well. Oh, blessed state to be in! not merely taken away from the breasts of earth, but taught no longer to wish for them.

Now, a weaned child is dependent upon its mother entirely. It knows nothing about how it is to be fed. It could not feed itself, and it must die if deprived of the care of another; but it rests quietly, free from even a trace of anxiety.

I find that the Hebrew gives the idea of a child lying in its mother’s bosom, perfectly satisfied; and David puts it something like this, O my Lord, “my soul lies in thy bosom like a child that has done crying and fretting, and is weaned altogether.” Oh, happy man who so depends upon God that he leaves all his concerns with the God of love, and sings sweetly in confidence in God.

Thus I have tried to describe the state which the psalmist intended by being “as a weaned child.”

II. And now, secondly, WHAT IS THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS CONDITION?

Why is it desirable to be even as a weaned child? It is excellent every way. You will know it best by attaining to it, for when you are weaned your desires will no longer worry you.

Curb desire, and you have struck at the root of half your sorrow. He smarts not under poverty who has learned to be content, he frets not under affliction who is submissive to the Father’s will, and lays aside his own. When your desires are held within bounds your temptations to rebel are ended. You wanted this and you wanted that, and so you quarrelled with God, and your Lord and you were seldom on good terms. He did not choose to pamper you, and you wanted that he should, and so you fretted like a weaning child. Now you leave it to his will, and you have peace.

The strife is over; your soul is quieted, and behaves itself becomingly. Now, also, your resentments against those who injured you are gone; you were angry with a certain person, but your pettishness has ended with your weaning: you see that God sent him to do this which has troubled you, and you accept his hard words and cruel actions as from God, and you are angry no more.

You do not kick and struggle now against your condition and position, and you no longer murmur and complain from day to day as if you were hardly dealt with. No, if God chooses to better your circumstances you will be glad; if he does not, you just take it as you find it, for you could not blame his providence. You give your thoughts •to something better than the things of earth, for you now resolve as David did in the One Hundred and Thirty-second Psalm, which is very remarkable as following the psalm which contains our text, because there he goes on to declare that he will build for the Lord of hosts.

When your own business is all right, and you are weaned from all fretting, worrying, and self-seeking, then you are free to undertake the Lord’s business. He has done for you what you want, and now you want to do something for him. You have sought the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things have been added to you, so that you are as happy as the days are long in June. Look at the birds in the winter. When there is not a leaf on the boughs they sit and sing; and in the early spring, when still the winter’s cold is lingering, they pour out their very choicest songs; and yet there is not a lark or thrush among them that has an hour’s provision in store. Not one among them has house or barn, or gathers ought, and yet, according to Martin Luther’s interpretation of their song, they sing,

“Mortal, cease from toil and sorrow,
God provideth for the morrow.”

Happy is the man who comes to that condition! God bring us there.

When we are weaned we have got rid of the ground of future troubles and disappointments. We do not get weaned all at once from everything. One person here has been weaned from confidence in riches, but perhaps his heart, his affectionate heart, is clinging to some human love, some mortal joy. Well, brother, well, sister, remember that where your treasure is your heart will go, and if that treasure be taken away your heart must ache. If we trust in an arm of flesh, we make a rod for our own backs. You never lean upon a man or woman either, and steal away from simple trust in God, but what you are preparing for yourself a trial; it may be in the treachery of the one you trusted; it certainly will be, if you live long enough, in the death of that beloved one. “Dust to dust,” and “ashes to ashes,” will be the end of all earthly joy. If a building leans upon a buttress, if that buttress is taken away it must be weakened; but if it can stand alone, upon its own foundation, then it standeth firmly. The man who depends alone upon his God, and whose expectation is from him, has not half the occasions for trouble that he has who is leaning here and leaning there, and leaning in fifty places, for each earthly prop will be the cause or occasion of distress at some time or other.

III. I have very much to say on this point, but my time is gone. I will only close with the last enquiry, which is this: Is THIS STATE ATTAINABLE?

Certainly. David said, “My soul is even as a weaned child.” He did not say that he hoped it would be so. We can surely get where David got, for he was a man of like passions with ourselves. No attainment in grace is to be viewed as the monopoly of one man or one age; in fact, we have more advantages than the psalmist, for he lived under a much more poverty-stricken dispensation than we do.

Now the gates of heaven are set wide open, and the treasure-houses and the granaries of our heavenly Joseph are free to all Israel; and, if we are at all straightened, it certainly cannot be in the Lord. He does not stint us. Did David say, “My soul is even as a weaned child”? Then no believer here ought to be content till he can say, “By the grace of God I am brought into that same condition.” This sacred weanedness of heart is possible under any circumstances.

The poor have often attained it. I saw this week a poor woman, entirely dependent upon what was given to her by others, confined to her chamber, needing to be lifted from her bed, racked with rheumatic pain, and yet as happy as an angel. She was joying and rejoicing in the Lord, and one of her greatest pleasures was to sit on the side of the bed for an hour, when her pain was not so bad but what she could sit up, and get through a chapter or two; and then her heart took to itself wings, and soared up to heaven. Her soul was as a weaned child, she had no anxieties and no fretfulness. Those who attended her said that such a thing as a murmur never escaped her.

Hear this, ye poor ones! Well, and you who are better off may get there in the midst of riches, for David was a king, and yet he did not suffer his worldly wealth to canker his spirit. He was as a weaned child, though dwelling in a palace. He could get at the breast of worldly pleasures, and yet he was weaned from it. A man may be in this condition when he is tossed to and fro, and troubled. Business men are apt to say, “It is all very well for you ministers to talk about calm and peace of mind; but if you had to sell flour and bread, or measure out drapery, or look after a lot of clerks, or go into a large factory and see after a pack of work-girls, you would find it very difficult.”

My dear friends, look at David’s life. How tossed about he was! What cares, what trials, what changes, what singular alternations of condition, and yet for all that his soul was even as a weaned child. Do you think the religion of Jesus Christ was meant to be kept under a glass case, and that it would make good people of us if we were locked up in a cloister? No, it is a practical everyday religion, meant for you that have factories, and you that have bakeries, and you that have shops; the religion which cannot stand the wear and tear of everyday life is not worth twopence, and the sooner you are rid of such rubbish the better.

We want a religion which we may take with us wherever we go, that will keep us calm and quiet and self-possessed, because we are possessed of the Spirit of God. May we reach this happy state and never leave it.

What is the way to get it? The psalm tells us, “Let Israel hope in the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.”

Faith blossoming into hope is the way of sanctification, the road to a calm and quiet spirit.

You cannot say to yourself, “I will fret no longer,” and then expect never to fret. No, brother, you must expel one affection by another: one propensity must be vanquished by another. You are too ready to trust in man: trust in God will push out carnal confidence. You are expecting great things of the world, that is foolish: expect great things of God, and you will cease from carnal hopes. You are seeking from day to day for this world’s good, you feel an ambition to rise: seek after the eternal good, and feel an ambition to get nearer to God, and the other ambition will die. You are worried by fears and anxieties: come and rest your soul upon the faithful promise, and, resting there, your anxieties will cease.

I fear that many Christian people think that faith has nothing to do with every-day life; they do not expect to find that it relieves them of anxieties as to bread and cheese for themselves, and shoes and socks for the children, and all those little troubles and worries which concern a housewife and a father. But, oh, beloved, it is not so. The heathen had their household gods, and blessed be God he is our household God, the God of all the families of Israel. The Lord hears the young ravens when they cry, will he not hear his people? The ravens only cry for meat, a dead rabbit or a pigeon is all they want, yet the Lord sees that their wants are supplied, and I find that “not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” These poor hairs? These little things! These trifling things!

You will never be as a weaned child till you leave these little things with God, for the child has no great things. A child’s matters are all little; though they are great to the babe they are little to us. Leave your little things with God: leave everything with God. Live in God; dwell in God; have no secrets between yourself and God. The troubles of life which fret us most are the little things. If a man goes on a long walk; it is not the climbing, and it is not the slipping down the steep hillside, it is that nasty little stone which has got into the shoe which troubles him. You can hardly see it, but there it is, and it blisters his foot and lames him. Ah, dear brother, take the little stone to God. Ask him to remove that little vexation from you, for as with God there is nothing great, so is there nothing little.

The greatest philosopher in the world, or the greatest king, if his little child had a thorn in his finger, would not think himself disgraced if he stooped to take it out with a needle; and the Lord who maketh all things, and calleth the stars by their names, does not dishonour himself when he binds up our broken hearts. Go, then, to your God, and let your soul leave everything with him, by faith being made as a weaned child.

“Easier said than done,” says somebody. Yes, brethren, except by faith, but to faith it is easy enough; and I boldly say here, I have sometimes found it easier to exercise faith than to talk about it. When I trust God — and I hope I do that habitually — I do not find that to give up anxiety and to trust in God is difficult now, though it used to be. Blessed be my Lord, I cannot help believing him, for he loads me down with evidences of his truth and fidelity. Once get really into the swim of faith and you do not need to struggle, the sacred current of grace will carry you along. Give yourself completely up to the Lord Jesus Christ and the mighty energy of the blessed Spirit, and you will find it sweet to lie passive in his hand, and know no will but his. God bring you there!

If there is any unconverted person here who cannot understand all this, I pray the Lord to make him a child first, and then make him a weaned child. Regeneration must come first, and sanctification will follow. Believe in Jesus for pardon, and then you will have grace given to resign yourself to the divine will. May the Lord wean you from earth and wed you to heaven. Amen.

Charles H. Spurgeon

“Approaching The Heart of Jesus”, From Charles H. Spurgeon (Humility, Much Forgiven So Loved)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon July 31, 1859 Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30From: New Park Street Pulpit Volume 5

The Meek and Lowly One

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Matthew 11:28-30

     The single sentence which I have selected for my text consists of these words: —”I am meek and lowly in heart.” These words might be taken to have three distinct bearings upon the context. They may be regarded as being the lesson to be taught: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.”

One great lesson of the gospel is to teach us to be meek—to put away our high and angry spirits, and to make us lowly in heart. Peradventure, this is the meaning of the passage— that it we will but come to Christ’s school, he will teach us the hardest of all lessons, —how to be meek and lowly in heart. Again; other expositors might consider this sentence to signify, that is the only Spirit in which a man can learn of Jesus, — the Spirit which is necessary if we would become Christ’s scholars.

We can learn nothing, even of Christ himself, while we hold our heads up with pride, or exalt ourselves with self-confidence. We must be meek and lowly in heart, otherwise we are totally unfit to be taught by Christ. Empty vessels may be filled; but vessels that are full already can receive no more. The man who knows his own emptiness can receive abundance of knowledge, and wisdom, and grace, from Christ; but he who glories in himself is not in a fit condition to receive anything from God.

I have no doubt that both of these interpretations are true, and might be borne out by the connection. It is the lesson of Christ’s school—it is the spirit of Christ’s disciples. But I choose, rather, this morning, to regard these words as being a commendation of the Teacher himself. “Come unto me and learn; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” As much as to say, “I can teach, and you will not find it hard to learn of me.” In fact, the subject of this morning’s discourse is briefly this:

the gentle, lovely character of Christ should be a high and powerful inducement to sinners to come to Christ.

The lesson of Christ’s School; the Spirit of His Disciples

I intend so to use it: first of all, noticing the two qualities which Christ here claims for himself. He is “meek;” and then he is “lowly in heart;” and after we have observed these two things, I shall come to push the conclusion home. Come unto him, all ye that are labouring and are heavy laden; come unto him, and take his yoke upon you; for he is meek and lowly in heart.

     I. First, then, I am to consider THE FIRST QUALITY WHICH JESUS CHRIST CLAIMS. He declares that he is “MEEK.”

     Christ is no egotist; he takes no praise to himself. If ever he utters a word in self-commendation, it is not with that object; it is with another design, namely that he may entice souls to come to him. Here, in order to exhibit this meekness, I shall have to speak of him in several ways.

     1. First, Christ is meek, as opposed to the ferocity of spirit manifested by zealots and bigots. Take, for a prominent example of the opposite of meekness, the false prophet Mahomet. The strength of his cause lies in the fact, that he is not meek. He presents himself before those whom he claims as disciples, and says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am neither meek, nor lowly in heart; I will have no patience with you; there is my creed, or there is the scimitar— death or conversion, whichever you please.”

The moment the Mahometan religion withdrew that very forcible argument of decapitation or impalement, it stayed in its work of conversion, and never progressed; for the very strength of the false prophet lays in the absence of any meekness. How opposite this is to Christ! Although he hath a right to demand man’s love and man’s faith, yet he comes not into the world to demand it with fire and sword.

His might is under persuasion; his strength is quiet forbearance, and patient endurance; his mightiest force is the sweet attraction of compassion and love. He knoweth nothing of the ferocious hosts of Mahomet; he bids none of us draw our sword to propagate the faith, but saith, “Put up thy sword into its scabbard; they that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” “My kingdom is not of this world, else might my servants fight.”

Nay, Mahomet is not the only instance we can bring; but even good men are subject to the like mistakes. They imagine that religion is to be spread by terror and thunder. Look at John himself, the most lovely of all the disciples: he would call fire from heaven on a village of Samaritans, because they rejected Christ. Hark to his hot enquiry, —”Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Christ’s disciples were to him something like the sons of Zeruiah to David; or when Shimei mocked David, the sons of Zeruiah said, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.”

But David meekly said, “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? “—and put them aside. He had something of the spirit of his Master; he knew that his honour was not then to be defended by sword or spear.

O blessed Jesus! thou hast no fury in thy spirit; when men rejected thee thou didst not draw the sword to smite, but, on the contrary, thou didst yield thine eyes to weeping. Behold your Saviour, disciples, and see whether he was not meek. He had long preached in Jerusalem without effect, and at last he knew that they were ready to put him to death; but what saith he, as, standing on the top of the hill, he beheld the city that had rejected his gospel? Did he invoke a curse upon it? Did he suffer one word of anger to leap from his burning heart? Ah! no; there were flames, but they were those of love; there were scalding drops, but they were those of grief.

He beheld the city, and wept over it, and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” And for a further proof of the absence of all uncharitableness, observe that, even when they drove the nails into his blessed hands, yet he had no curse to breathe upon them, but his dying exclamation was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” O sinners! see what a Christ it is that we bid you serve. No angry bigot, no fierce warrior, claiming your unwilling faith: he is a tender Jesus. Your rejection of him has made his bowels yearn over you; and though you abhor his gospel, he has pleaded for you, saying, “Let him alone yet another year, till I dig about him; peradventure he may yet bring forth fruit.” What a patient master is he! Oh! will you not serve him!

     2. But the idea is not brought out fully, unless we take another sense. There is a sternness which cannot be condemned.

A Christian man will often feel him self called to bear most solemn and stern witness against the error of his times, But Christ’s mission, although it certainly did testify against the sin of his times, yet had a far greater reference to the salvation of the souls of men.

To show the idea that I have in my own mind, which I have not yet brought out, I must picture Elijah. What a man was he! His mission was to be the bold unflinching advocate of the right, and to bear a constant testimony against the wickedness of his age. And how boldly did he speak! Look at him: how grand the picture! Can you not conceive him on that memorable day, when he met Ahab, and Ahab said, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” Do you mark that mighty answer which Elijah gave him, while the king trembles at his words. Or, better still, can you picture the scene when Elijah said, “Take you two bullocks, ye priests, and build an altar, and see this day, whether God be God or Baal be God.”

Do you see him as he mocks the worshippers of Baal, and with a biting irony says to them, “Cry aloud, for he is a god.” And do you see him in the last grand scene, when the fire has come down from heaven, and consumed the sacrifice, and licked up the water, and burned the altar? Do you hear him cry, “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one escape?” Can you see him in his might hewing them in pieces by the brook, and making their flesh a feast for the fowls of heaven?

Now, you cannot picture Christ in the same position He had the stern qualities of Elijah, but he kept them, as it were, behind, hike sleeping thunder, that must not as yet waken and lift up its voice. There were some rumblings of time tempest, it is true, when he spoke so sternly to the Sadducees, and Scribes, and Pharisees; those woes were like murmurings of a distant storm, but it was a distant storm; whereas, Elijah lived in the midst of the whirlwind itself, and was no still small voice, but was as the very fire of God, and hike the chariot in which he mounted to heaven— fit chariot for such a fiery man!

Christ here stands in marked contrast. Picture him in somewhat a like position to Elijah with Ahab. There is Jesus left alone with an adulterous woman. She has been taken in the very fact. Her accusers are present, ready to bear witness against her. By a simple sentence he emptied the room of every witness; convicted by their conscience they all retire. And now what does Christ say? The woman might have lifted her eyes, and have looked at him, and said, “Hast thou found me O mine enemy? “—for she might have regarded Christ as the enemy of so base a sin as that which she had committed against her marriage bed.

But instead thereof Jesus said, “Doth no man condemn thee? Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.” Oh, how different from the sternness or Elijah! Sinners! if I had to preach Elijah as your Saviour I should feel that I had a hard task, for you might throw it in my teeth—”Shall we come to Elijah? He will call fire from heaven on us, as he did upon the captains and their fifties. Shall we come to Elijah? Surely he will slay us, for we have been like the prophets of Baal?” Nay, sinners; but I bid you come to Christ. Come to him, who, although he hated sin more than Elijah could do, yet nevertheless, loved the sinner—who, though he would not share iniquity, yet spares the transgressors, and has no words but those of love and mercy, and peace and comfort, for those of you who will now come and put your trust in him.

     I must put in a word here by way of caveat. I am very far from imputing, for a single moment, any blame to Elijah. He was quite right. None but Elijah could have fulfilled the mission which his Master gave him. He needed to be all he was, and certainly not less stern; but Elijah was not sent to be a Saviour; he was quite unfit for that. He was sent to administer a stern rebuke. He was God’s iron tongue of threatening, not God’s silver tongue of mercy. Now, Jesus is the silver tongue of grace. Sinners! hear the sweet bells ringing, as Jesus now invites you to come unto him. “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden;’ for I am not stern, I am not harsh, I am no fire- killing Elijah; I am the meek, tender, lowly-hearted Jesus.”

     3. Christ is meek in heart. To exhibit this quality in another light, call to your minds Moses.

He was the meekest of men; and yet Christ far excels Moses in his meekness. Around Moses there seems to be a hedge, a ring of fire. The character of Moses is like Mount Sinai; it hath bounds set about it, so that one cannot draw near unto him. Moses was not an approachable person, he was quiet and meek, and tender, but there was a sacred majesty about the King in Jeshurun that hedged his path, so that we cannot imagine the people making themselves familiar with him.

Whoever read of Moses sitting down upon a well, and talking to a harlot like the woman of Samaria? Whoever heard a story of a Magdalene washing the feet of Moses? Can ye conceive Moses eating bread with a sinner, or passing under a sycamore tree, and calling Zaccheus, the thievish publican, and bidding him come down?

There is a kind of stately majesty in Moses, no mere affectation of standing alone, but a loneliness of superior worth. Men looked up to him as to some cloud-capped mountain, and despaired of being able to enter into the lofty circle, within which they might have communed with him. Moses always had in spirit what he once had in visible token; he had a glory about his brow, and before he could converse with men he must wear a veil, for they could not bear to look upon the face of Moses.

But how different is Jesus! He is a man among men; wherever he goes no one is afraid to speak to him. You scarcely meet with any one who dares not approach him. There is a poor woman, it is true, who hath the flux, and she fears to come near him, because she is ceremonially unclean; but even she can come behind him in the press, and touch the hem of his garment, and virtue goeth Out of him. Nobody was afraid of Jesus. The mothers brought their little babes to him: whoever heard of their doing that to Moses? Did ever babe get a blessing of Moses? But Jesus was all meekness—the approachable man, feasting with the wedding guests, sitting down with sinners, conversing with the unholy and the unclean, touching the leper, and making himself at home with all men. Sinners! this is the one we invite you to—this homely man, Christ.

Not to Moses, for you might say, “He hath horns of light, and how shall I draw near to his majesty! He is bright perfection—the very lightnings of Sinai rest upon his brow.” But sinners, ye cannot say that of Christ. He is as holy as Moses—as great, and far greater, but he is still so homely that ye may come to him. Little children, ye may put your trust in him. Ye may say your little prayer,

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look on me, a little Child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to thee.”

     He will not cast you away, or think you have intruded on him. Ye harlots, ye drunkards, ye feasters, ye wedding guests, ye may all come; “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” He is “meek and lowly in heart.” That gives, I think, a still fuller and broader sense to the term, “meek.”

     4. But yet, to push the term a little further. Christ on earth was a king; but there was nothing about him of the exclusive pomp of kings, which excludes the common people from their society.

Look at the Eastern king Ahasuerus, sitting on his throne. He is considered by his people as a superior being. None may come in unto the king, unless he is called for. Should he venture to pass the circle, the guards will slay him, unless the king stretches out the golden sceptre.

Even Esther, his beloved wife, is afraid to draw near, and must put her life in her hand, if she comes into the presence of the king uncalled. Christ is a king; but where his pomp? Where the Janitor that keeps his door, and thrusts away the poor? Where the soldiers that ride on either side of his chariot to screen the monarch from the gaze of poverty?

See thy King, O Sion! He comes, he comes in royal pomp! Behold, Judah, behold thy King cometh! But how cometh he? “Meek and lowly, riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” And who are his attendants? See, the young children, boys and girls! They cry, “Hosannah! Hosannah! Hosannah!” And who are they that wait upon him? His poor disciples. They pull the branches from the trees; they cast their garments in the street, and there he rideth on— Judah’s royal King. His courtiers are the poor; his pomp is that tribute which grateful hearts delight to offer. O sinners, will you not come to Christ?

There is nothing in him to keep you back. You need not say, like Esther did of old,” I will go in unto the king, if I perish I perish. Come, and welcome! Come, and welcome! Christ is more ready to receive you than you are to come to him. Come to the King! “What is thy petition, and what is thy request? It shall be done unto thee.” If thou stayest away, it is not because he shuts the door, it is because thou wilt not come. Come, filthy, naked, ragged, poor, lost, ruined, come, just as thou art. Here he stands, like a fountain freely opened for all comers. “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the waters of life freely.”

     5. I will give you but one more picture to set forth the meekness of Christ, and I think I shall not have completed the story without it.

The absence of all selfishness from the character of Christ, makes one ingredient of this precious quality of his meekness. You remember the history of Jonah. Jonah is sent to prophecy against Nineveh; but he is selfish. He will not go for he shall get no honour by it. He does not want to go so long a journey for so small a price. He will not go. He will take a ship and go to Tarshish. He is thrown out into the sea, swallowed by a fish, and vomited by it upon dry land. He goes away to Nineveh, and not wanting courage, he goes through its streets, crying, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” That one man’s earnest cry moves the city from one end to the other.

The king proclaims a first; the people mourn in sackcloth and confess their sins. God sends them tidings of mercy, and they are spared. But what will Jonah do? Oh, tell it not, ye heavens; let none hear it—that ever a prophet of God could do the like! He sits himself down, and he is angry with God. And why his anger? Because, says he, “God has not destroyed that city.” If God had destroyed the city he would have shouted over the ruins, because his reputation would have been safe; but now that the city is saved, and his own reputation for a prophet tarnished, he must needs sit down in anger.

But Christ is the very reverse of this. Sinners! Christ does thunder at you sometimes, but it is always that he may bring you to repentance. He does take Jonah’s cry, and utter it far more mightily than Jonah could; he does warn you that there is a fire that never can be quenched, and a worm that dieth not; but if you turn to him, will he sit down and be angry? Oh! no; methinks I see him. There you come poor prodigals; your father falls upon your neck and kisses you, and you are accepted, and a feast is made. Here comes the elder brother, Jesus. What does he say? Is he angry because you are saved? Ah! no! “My Father,” saith he, “my younger brother have all come home, and I love them; they shall share my honours; they shall sit upon my throne; they shall share my heaven.” “Where I am, there they shall be also.” I will take them into union with myself, and as they have wasted their inheritance, all that I have shall be their’s for ever.

Oh! come home, prodigal, there is no angry brother and no angry father. Come back, come back, my brother, my wandering brother, I invite thee; for Jesus is rejoiced to receive thee. Do you not see, then, that the meekness of Christ is a sweet and blessed reason why we should come to him?

     II. The second virtue which Christ claims for himself, is LOWLINESS OF HEART.

     When I looked this passage out in the original, I half wondered how it was that Christ found such a sweet word for the expression of his meaning; for the Greeks, do not know much about humility, and they have not a very good word to set forth this idea of lowliness of heart. I find that if this passage stood in another connection, the word might even be interpreted “degraded, debased,” for the Greeks thought that if a man was humble, he degraded himself—that if he stooped, he debased himself right out. “Well,” says Christ, “if you think so, so be it, and he takes the word. The word means, “near the ground.”

So is Christ’s heart. We cannot be so low that he will not stoop to reach us. I would just set out the lowliness of Christ’s heart in this way. Christ is “lowly in heart;” that is, he is willing to receive the poorest sinner in the world. The pharisee thought that the keeper of the gate of heaven would admit only the rich, and not the poor. Mark Christ’s teaching. There were two came to the gate once upon a time; one was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; he knocked, and thought that full sure he must enter; but “in hell he lift up his eyes being in torments.”

There came another, borne on angel’s wings. It was a beggar, whose many sores the dogs had licked and he had not so much as to knock at the gate, for the angel’s carried him straight away into the very centre of paradise, and laid him in Abraham’s bosom. Jesus Christ is willing to receive beggars into his bosom. Kings, you know, condescend, when they permit even the rich to be presented to them, and the kissing of a monarch’s hand is something very wonderful indeed, but to have the kisses of his lips who is the King of kings, is no uncommon thing for men that are shivering in rags, or that are sick upon miserable beds, in dingy attics. Christ is “lowly in heart;” he goes with what men call the vulgar herd; he hath nothing of affected royalty about him—he hath a nobler royalty than that, the royalty that is too proud to think anything of a stoop, that can only measure itself by its own intrinsic excellence, and not by its official standing. He receiveth the lowest, the meanest, the vilest, for he is “lowly in heart.”

If I have among my congregation some of the poorest of the poor, let them come away to Christ, and let them not imagine that their poverty need keep them back. I am always delighted when I see a number of women here from the neighbouring workhouse. I bless God that there are some in the workhouse that are willing to come; and though they have sometimes been put to a little inconvenience by so doing, yet I have known them sooner give up their dinner than give up coming to hear the Word. God bless the workhouse women, and may they be led to Christ, for he is meek and lowly in heart, and will not reject them. I must confess also, I like to see a smock frock here and there in the midst of the congregation. Oh! what a mercy, that in the palace of the Great King there shall be found these workmen, these blouses, They shall be made partakers of the kingdom of God. He makes no difference between prince and pauper; he takes men to heaven just as readily from the workhouse, as from the palace.

Further, this lowliness of heart in Christ leads him to receive the most ignorant as well as the learned to himself. I know that sometimes poor ignorant people get a notion in their heads that they cannot be saved, because they cannot read and do not know much. I have sometimes, especially in country villages, received this answer, when I have been asking anything about personal religion. “Well, you know, sir, I never had any learning.”

Oh! but, ye unlearned, is this a reason why ye should stay away from him who is lowly in heart? It was said of an old Greek philosopher, that he wrote over his door, “None but the learned may enter here.” But Christ, on the contrary, writes over his door, “He that is simple let him turn in hither.” There are many great men with long handles to their names who know little of the gospel, while some of the poor unlettered ones spell out the whole secret, and become perfect masters in divinity. If they had degrees who deserve them, diplomas should often be transferred, and given to those who hold the plough handle or work at the carpenter’s bench; for there is often more divinity in the little finger of a ploughman than there is in the whole body of some of our modern divines. “Don’t they understand divinity?” you say. Yes, in the letter of it; but as to the spirit and life of it, D.D. often means DOUBLY DESTITUTE.

     The lowliness of Christ may be clearly seen in yet another point of view. He is not only willing to receive the poor, and to receive the ignorant, but he is also ever ready to receive men, despite the vileness of their characters. Some teachers can stoop, and freely too, to both poor and ignorant; but they cannot stoop to the wicked. I think we have all felt a difficulty here.

“However poor a man may be, or however little he knows,” you say, “I don’t mind talking with him, and trying to do him good; but I cannot talk with a man who is a rogue or a vagabond, or with a woman who has lost her character.” I know you cannot; there are a great many things Christ did which we cannot do. We, who are the servants of Christ, have attempted to draw a line where duty has its bound. Like the domestic servant in some lordly mansion who stoops not to menial employment. We are above our work. We are so fastidious, that we cannot go after the chief of sinners, and the vilest of the vile.

Not so, Christ. “He receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” He, in the days of his flesh, became familiar with the outcasts. He sought them out that he might save them; he entered their homes; he found his way into the slums. like some diligent officer of the police, he was willing to lodge where they lodged, eat at their table, and associate with their class to find them out. His mission was to seek as well as to save. Oh, see him stand, with arms wide open! Will that thief, who is justly executed for his crimes, be recognized by him? Yes, he will. There, with his arms outstretched, he hangs; the thief flies as it were to his bosom, and Jesus gives him a most blessed embrace. “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Christ has received the thief with open heart and open arms too.

Much Forgiven; So Loved

And there is Mary. Do you see her? She is washing the feet of Jesus. Why, she is a bad character, one of the worst women on the town. What will Christ say? Say? Why, hear how he speaks to Simon, the pious, reputable Pharisee. Saith he, after putting the parable concerning the two debtors, “which of them shall love him most?”—and then he explains that this woman hath had much forgiven, and therefore she loves him much. “Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven,” saith he, and she goes her way in peace. There are many men you and I would not demean ourselves to notice, that Christ will take to heaven at last; for he is “lowly in heart.” He takes the base, the vilest, the scum, the offscouring, the filth, the garbage of the world, and out of such stuff and matter as that, he buildeth up a holy temple, and gathereth to himself trophies for his honour and praise.

     And further, while I speak of the lowliness of Christ’s heart, I must remark another thing. Perhaps one is saying here, “Oh! sir, it is not what I have been, as to my conduct, that keeps me back from Christ; but I feel that what I am as to my nature restrains me; I am such a dolt, I shall never learn in his school I am such a hard-hearted one, he will never melt me, and if he does save me, I shall never be worth his having. Yes, but Christ is “lowly in heart.” There are some great goldsmiths that of course can only think of preparing and polishing the choicest diamonds; but Jesus Christ polishes a common pebble, and makes a jewel of it. Goldsmiths make their precious treasures out of precious materials; Christ makes his precious things out of dross.

He begins always with bad material. The palace of our king is not made of cedar wood, as Solomon’s, or if it be made of wood, certainly he has chosen the knottiest trees and the knottiest planks wherewith to build his habitation. He has taken those to be his scholars who were the greatest dunces; so amazing is the lowliness of Christ’s heart. He sits down on the form with us to teach us the A, B, C, of repentance, and if we are slow to learn it he begins again, and takes us through our alphabet, and if we forget it he will often teach us our letters over again; for though he is able to teach the angels, yet he condescends to instruct babes, and as we go step by step in heavenly literature, Christ is not above teaching the elements. He teaches not only in the University, and the Grammar-school, where high attainments are valued, but he teaches in the day-school, where the elements and first principles are to be instilled.

It is he who teaches the sinner, what sinner means in deep conviction, and what faith means in holy assurance. It is not only he who takes us to Pisgah, and bids us view the promised land, but it is he also who takes us to Calvary, and makes us learn that simplest of all things, the sacred writing of the cross. He, if I may use such a phrase, will not only teach us how to write them highly ornamental writing of the Eden Paradise, the richly gilded, illuminated letters of communion and fellowship, but he teaches us how to make the pot-hooks amid hangers of repentance and faith. he begins at the beginning; for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” Come, then, ye dolts, ye fools; come ye sinners, ye vile ones; come, ye dullest of all scholars, ye poor, ye illiterate, ye who are rejected and despised of men; come to him who was rejected and despised as well as you. Come and welcome! Christ bids you come!

“Let not conscience make you linger;
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth,
Is to feel your need of him:
This he gives you;
‘Tis his Spirit’s rising beam.

     Come, poor sinners! come to a gentle Saviour! and you shall never regret that you came to him.

     III. Having thus spoken on the two marks of our Lord’s character, I propose to conclude, if God shall help me, by knocking home the nail, by driving in the wedge, and pressing upon you a conclusion from these arguments. The conclusion of the whole matter is this, since Christ is “meek and lowly in heart,” sinners come to him.

     Come to him, then, first, whoever you may be, for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” When a man has done anything wrong, and wants a help through his difficulty, if about to employ some counsel to plead for him in a court of law, he might say, “Oh! don’t engage Mr. So-and-so for me; I hear he is a very hard-hearted man; I should not like to tell him what I have done, and entrust my case in his hands. Send for Mr. So-and-so; I have heard that he is very kind and gentle; let him come and hear my case, and let him conduct the pleadings for me:” Sinner! you are sinful, but Christ is very tender-hearted. Speed thy way to Christ’s private chamber, —your own closet of prayer.

Tell him all you have done; he will not upbraid you: confess all your sins; he will not chide you. Tell him all your follies; he will not be angry with you. Commit your case to him, and with a sweet smile he will say, “I have cast thy sins behind my back; thou hast come to reason with me; I will discover to thee a matter of faith which excels all reason,—”

Though thy sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson, they shall be whiter than snow Come to Christ, then, sinful ones, because he is “meek and lowly in heart,” and he can bear with the narrative of your offences.

“But, sir, I am very timid, and I dare not go.” Ah, but however timid you may be, you need not be afraid of him. He knows your timidity, and he will meet you with a smile, and say, “Fear not. Be of good cheer. Tell me thy sin, put thy trust in me, and thou shalt even yet rejoice to know my power to save. Come now,” saith he, “come to me at once. Linger no longer. I do not strive nor cry, nor cause my voice to be hearth in the streets. A bruised reed I will not break, the smoking flax I will not quench; but I will bring forth judgment unto victory.” Come then, ye timid ones to Christ for he is meek and lowly in heart. “Oh,” says one, “but I am despairing; I have been so long under a sense of sin, I cannot go to Christ.” Poor soul! he is so meek and lowly, that, despairing though thou mayest be, take courage now; though it be like a forlorn hope to thee, yet go to him. Say, in the words of the hymn—

I’ll to the gracious King approach,
Whose sceptre pardon gives;
Perhaps he may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives.

I can but perish if I go;
I am resolved to try;

For if I stay away, I know
I must for ever die.”

     And you may add this comfortable reflection—

“But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (delightful thought!)
As sinner never died.”

     Come to him, then, timid and despairing; for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” First, he bids thee confess. What a sweet confessor! Put thy lip to his ear, and tell him all. He is “meek and lowly in heart.” Fear not. None of thy sins can move him to anger. If thou dost but confess them. If thou keepest them in thy heart, they shall be like a slumbering volcano; and a furnace of destruction thou shalt find even to the uttermost by-and-bye. But confess thy sins; tell them all; he is meek and lowly in heart.” Happy confession! when we have such a confessor.

     Again, he bids thee trust him; and canst thou not trust him? He is “meek and lowly in heart.” Sinner! put confidence in Christ. There never was such a tender heart as his, never such a compassionate face. Look him in the face, poor soul, as thou seest him dying on the tree, and say, is not that a face that any man might trust! Look at him! Canst thou doubt him? Wilt thou withhold thy cause from such a Redeemer as this? No, Jesus! thou art so generous, so good, so kind Take thou my cause in hand. Just as I am, I come to thee. Save me, I beseech thee, for I put my trust in thee.

     And then Jesus not only bids you confess and believe, but he bids you afterwards serve him. And sure, sinners, this should be a reason why you should do it. that he is so “meek and lowly in heart.” It is said, “Good masters make good servants.” What good servants you and I ought to be, for what a good Master we have! Never an ill word doth he say to us. If sometimes he pointeth out anything we have done amiss, it is only for our good. Not for his profit doth he chasten, but for ours. Sinner! I ask thee not to serve the god of this world—that foul fiend who shall destroy thee after all thy service. The devil is thy master now, and ye have heard the wages he bestows. But come and serve Christ, the meek and lowly one, who will give thee good cheer while thou art serving him, and give thee a blessed reward when thy work is done.

     And now, best of all, sinners! come to Christ. Come to him in all his offices, for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” Sinner! thou art sick—Christ is a physician. If men have broken a bone, and they are about to have a surgeon fetched, they say, “Oh! is he a feeling tender hearted man?” For there is many an army surgeon that takes off a leg, and never thinks of the pain he is giving. “Is he a kind man?” says the poor sufferer, when he is about to be strapped down upon the table.” Ah! poor sufferer, Christ will heal thy broken bones, and he will do it with downy fingers. Never was there so light a touch as this heavenly surgeon has. “Tis pleasure even to be wounded by him, much more to be healed. Oh! what balm is that he gives to the poor bleeding heart! Fear not; there was never such a physician as this. If he give thee now and then a bitter pill and a sour draught, yet he will give thee such honied words and such sweet promises therewith, that thou shalt swallow it all up without murmuring. Nay, if he be with thee, thou canst even swallow up death in victory; and never know that thou hast died because victory hath taken the bitter taste away.

     Sinner! thou art not only sick, and therefore bidden to come to him, but thou art moreover in debt, and he offers now to pay thy debts, and to discharge them in full. Come, come to him, for he is not harsh. Some men, when they do mean to let a debtor off, first have him in their office, and give him as much as they can of the most severe rebukes; —” You rogue, you! how dare you get in my debt, when you knew you could not pay? You have brought a deal of trouble on yourself, you have ruined your family,” and so forth; and the good man gives him some very sound admonition, and very right too; till at length he says, “I’ll let you off this time; come, now, I forgive you, and I hope you will never do so again.” But Christ is even better than this. “There is all your debt,” he says, “I have nailed it to the cross; sinner, I forgive thee all,” and not one accusing word comes from his lips. Come, then, to him.

     I fear I have spoilt my master in the painting; something like the artist who had to depict some fair damsel, and he so misrepresented her features, that she lost her reputation for beauty. I have sometimes feared lest I should do the same, and so distort the face of Christ, and so fail of giving the true likeness of his character that you would not love him. Oh! could you see him! If he could stand here for one moment, and tell you that he was meek and lowly in heart. Oh, methinks you would run to him and say, “Jesus, we come Thou meek and lowly Messiah, be thou our all!” Nay, you would not come; I am mistaken. If sovereign grace draw you not under the sound of the gospel, neither would you be converted though Christ should appear before you. But hear now the message of that gospel—”Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved; for he that believeth on him, and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not, must be damned.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Source, The Spurgeon Library

Also See: The Sweet Uses of Adversity- The Spurgeon Library

“Learning to Live Joyfully”, from J.I. Packer (theoloy of Joy, Eternity in our hearts)

J.I Packer: How I learned to Live Joyfully

Christianity Today, (2015, Vol. 59, No 7, Page 56, The Joy of Ecclesiastes)

Christians like to quiz each other about their favorite book in the Bible. Finding out how people experience Scripture—especially those who write books about the Bible—is a natural interest to us. When asked which Bible book is my favorite, I say Ecclesiastes. Should people raise their eyebrows and ask why, I give them two reasons.

First, it is a special pleasure to read an author with whom one resonates. That is how the writer, who called himself Qohelet—Hebrew for “Gatherer,” a title that in Greek became Ecclesiastes, the “Assembly-man”—strikes me. I see him as a reflective senior citizen, a public teacher of wisdom, something of a stylist and wordsmith. As his official testimonial or third-person testimony (it might be either) in 12:10 shows, this man took his instructional task very seriously and labored to communicate memorably. Whether he was the Solomon of history or someone impersonating him—not to deceive but to make points in the most effective way—we do not know. All I am sure of is that each point has maximum strength if it comes from the real Solomon at the end of his life.

Whoever he was, Qohelet was a realist about the many ways in which this world gives us a rough ride. But while temperamentally inclined to pessimism and cynicism, I think, he was kept from falling into either of those craters of despair by a strong theology of joy.

How far this matches the way people see me, I do not know, but this is how I want to see myself—and why I warm to Ecclesiastes as a kindred spirit. (One main difference, of course, is that his thinking is all done within the framework of Old Testament revelation.)

Second, looking back to my late-teens conversion, I see myself as having received from Ecclesiastes wisdom that I needed badly. When Jesus Christ laid hold of me, I was already well on my way to becoming a cynic. But by God’s grace, I was tamed thoroughly, and I see Ecclesiastes—the man and his book—as having done much of that taming.

Cynics are people who have grown skeptical about the goodness of life, and who look down on claims to sincerity, morality, and value. They dismiss such claims as hollow and criticize programs for making improvements. Feeling disillusioned, discouraged, and hurt by their experience of life, their pained pride forbids them to think that others might be wiser and doing better than they themselves have done. On the contrary, they see themselves as brave realists and everyone else as self-deceived. Mixed-up teens slip easily into cynicism, and that is what I was doing.

Pride led me to stand up for Christian truth in school debates, but with no interest in God or a willingness to submit to him.

I was reared in a stable home and did well at school, but, being an introvert, I was always shy and awkward in company. Also, I was barred from sports and team games by reason of a hole in my head—literally, just over the brain—that I had acquired in a road accident at age 7. For years I had to cover the hole, where there was no bone, by wearing an aluminum plate, secured to my head by elastic. I could never get my body to learn to swim or dance.

Being an isolated oddity in these ways was painful to me, as it would be to any teen. So I developed a self-protective sarcasm, settled for low expectations from life, and grew bitter. Pride led me to stand up for Christian truth in school debates, but with no interest in God or a willingness to submit to him. However, becoming a real as distinct from a nominal Christian brought change, and Ecclesiastes in particular showed me things about life that I had not seen before.

Learning to Live

Waiting for me in the pages of Ecclesiastes was a view of reality very different from my junior-level cynicism.

Ecclesiastes is one of the Old Testament’s five wisdom books. It has been said that the Psalms teach us how to worship; Proverbs, how to behave; Job, how to suffer; Song of Solomon, how to love; and Ecclesiastes, how to live. How? With realism and reverence, with humility and restraint, coolly and contentedly, in wisdom and in joy.

The Psalms teach us how to worship; Proverbs, how to behave; Job, how to suffer; Song of Solomon, how to love; and Ecclesiastes, how to live.

People who may not have read beyond chapter 3 might think of Ecclesiastes as voicing nothing more than bafflement and gloom at the way everything is. But 2:26 already goes beyond this: “to the one who pleases him God has given … joy” (ESV, used throughout). In Ecclesiastes, joy is as central a theme, and as big and graciously bestowed a blessing, as it is in, say, Philippians.

Ecclesiastes is a flowing meditation on the business of living. It has two halves. Each is a string of separate units juxtaposed without connectives in a loose-looking way, which yet links them logically and theologically by subject matter. And binding everything together are three recurring imperatives:

  • Revere God: fear in Ecclesiastes, as in Proverbs, means “trust, obey, and honor,” not “be terrified” (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12–13; 12:13).
  • Recognize good things in life as gifts from God and receive them accordingly, with enjoyment (2:24–26; 5:18–19; 8:15; 9:7–9).
  • Remember that God judges our deeds (3:17; 5:6; 7:29; 8:13; 11:9; 12:14).

There are two further unifying features. The first is the bookend sentence, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher. . . . All is vanity”—the opening words in 1:2 and the closing words in 12:8. Vanity literally means “vapor” and “fog,” and appears more than two dozen times to convey emptiness, pointlessness, worthlessness, and loss of one’s way. “Striving after wind”—that is, trying to catch hold of it—is an image of parallel meaning (1:14, 17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4; 6:9). Both metaphors point to fruitless effort, of which the world is full, says the writer.

The second unifying feature is the phrase “under the sun.” It specifies the standpoint and pinpoints the perspective of no less than 29 verdicts on how things appear when assessed in this-worldly terms, without reference to God.

The first half of Ecclesiastes, chapters 1–6, is in effect a downhill slide “under the sun” into what we may call the darkness of vanity. The natural order, wisdom in itself, uninhibited self-indulgence, sheer hard work, money-making, public service, the judicial system, and pretentious religiosity—are all canvassed to find what meaning, purpose, and personal fulfillment they yield.

The reason for enquiring is given: Deep down in every human heart, God has put “eternity” (3:11)—a desire to know, as God knows, how everything fits in with everything else to produce lasting value, glory, and satisfaction. But the inquiry fails: It leaves behind only the frustration of having gotten nowhere. The implication? This is not the way to proceed.

The second half, chapters 7–12, is somewhat discursive—we might even say meandering. It labors to show that despite everything, the pursuit and practice of modest, quiet, industrious wisdom is abundantly worthwhile and cannot be embarked on too early in life. After comparing old age to a house falling to pieces (12:1–7), the writer works up to a solemn conclusion:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

That last phrase is elusive; duty may be its focus, or the phrase could be carrying the thought “the completeness of the human person,” which the Good News Bible has neatly rendered:

Fear God and keep his commands, because this is all that man was created for. God is going to judge everything we do. (12:13–14)

How then should we finally formulate the theology of joy that runs through and undergirds the entire book? Christian rejoicing in Christ and in salvation, as the New Testament depicts, goes further. But in celebrating joy as God’s kindly gift, and in recognizing the potential for joy of everyday activities and relationships, Ecclesiastes lays the right foundation:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God. (2:24)

I commend joy. (8:15)

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun. (9:9)

Being too proud to enjoy the enjoyable is a very ugly shortcoming, and one that calls for immediate correction. Let it be acknowledged that, as I had to learn long ago, discovering how under God ordinary things can bring joy is the cure for cynicism.

J. I. Packer is Board of Governor’s Professor of Theology at Regent College and author of more than 40 books, including his bestseller Knowing God.

Editor’s note: You can now read or share this essay in Spanish and Korean.

Source: Christianity Today (2015)

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