Nailed to the Doorpost!

George Everard, 1882

There is a blessing prepared for those who are faithful as doorkeepers in the Lord's house. Hence a king could once say, "I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psalm 84.10). There is a blessing prepared for those who wait at God's door, to learn of Him, and to do His bidding. Hence it is written of Him, the true Wisdom: "Blessed is the man that hears Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors" (Proverbs 8.34).

But there is a blessing still greater, it seems to me, for those who are "nailed to Christ's doorpost." The expression tells of steadfast, firm, unshaken allegiance and devotedness to Christ.

In the year of release among the Jews, whoever would, might leave the service of his master. He was free to go out wherever he would. But the choice was given him he might stay if he chose to do so. Perchance he loved his master and his service, and was happier with him than he could be elsewhere; perchance he felt that liberty would be a poor exchange for the quietness and peace and comfort he enjoyed beneath his master's roof. It might be also that he had other ties. He might have wife and children, who were regarded as his master's property. But for whatever cause, if he desired it, he might give himself forever to remain faithful to his master. In this case there was a peculiar ceremony. He must openly declare his purpose. He must say plainly, "I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free. Then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life." Exodus 21:5-6

Thus was the servant "nailed to the doorpost" in token of everlasting fidelity. He would cleave to his master in faithfulness and love. He would be true to him, even to the end, and never forsake the home and the service which he loved.

I know not how many availed themselves of this provision, perhaps not very many. There are too many causes of unpleasantness, even in the happiest home; so that it is not likely many were willing so completely to yield themselves to any earthly master.

But I take it as an illustration of the spirit of the true-hearted Christian. He is "nailed to the doorpost;" he is given up forever to be Christ's. His great desire is to be faithful unto death. He desires to be bound, hand and foot, with the cords and bands of Christ's love. His heart is fixed. His mind is set on bearing the yoke and carrying the burden of Him who loved him.

Whoever may tempt him to turn aside, whoever may wish to allure to a false liberty, to go forth into the world's highway unshackled by the gentle restraints of Christ he hearkens not, nor consents. His choice is made. He is firm as a rock; he has set his face like a flint. To every temptation, to every one who would beguile him, he says plainly, "I love my master; I will not go out free!"

I will state a few reasons which the Christian gives for this determination. I trust that they express the secret musings and resolves of many who read this little book. I trust they may stir up the pure mind of many believers by way of remembrance, and thus strengthen their hands in God. Yes, and I will pray that they may awaken some readers to see the blessedness of Christ's service, and thus lead them, through the Spirit's grace, to choose that good part which shall not be taken from them. "I love my master . . . I will not go out free."

Tell me, why not? Why not follow the track in which others walk? Why should you abridge your own liberty, and be so strict and careful in your life? Why not pluck by the way a few handfuls of the vine of Sodom. Why not choose the path of self-indulgence and worldly pleasure?

Hearken to me, and I will tell you. I have good reason for my choice. Judge what I say; and if my choice be a wise one, will you not make it yours?

1. If I cast off the yoke of Christ, to what better master can I go? I must have one master or another; man cannot be independent. But where shall I find a better master than Christ? I look all around this cold world I look above, beneath and if I forsake Christ, I may well ask, "To whom shall I go?"

"Where, ah, where shall I go
A wretched wanderer from my Lord?
Can this dark world of sin and woe
One glimpse of happiness afford?"

Shall I take the prince of darkness as my master? What is he but "a liar" and "a murderer"! (John 8.44). Does he not first deceive and then destroy the souls of all who serve him? I remember one whom he persuaded to forsake Christ for a few pieces of silver; but the money burnt into his very soul, and he was obliged to cast it away, and in terrible remorse for his apostasy, he went out and destroyed himself.

Shall I take sin for my master? But the wages are unrest, and shame and sorrow here and death and damnation hereafter.

Shall I choose the world, and hearken to its alluring and enticing voice? Shall I make a God of money, or business, or high position, or human praise, or anything else it may offer me? I may know beforehand what the outcome will be.

I have read of one who had a motto engraved on a ring, which he would look at as a word of guidance both in prosperity and adversity: "And this, too, shall pass away!" Ah, so it will be with all I might gain! Oftentimes disappointment would blight the fairest prospect; and however bright for a season it might be, it could but prove as a summer's day, soon to be followed by the chilling winds and storms of autumn.

No, no! I can find no better master than Christ and to Him will I cleave. Satan and sin, the world and the flesh can give me nothing satisfying, nothing abiding. But all I need is in Jesus. "I love my Master . . . I will not go out free!"

2. I would be faithful to Christ, because He is Himself so infinitely worthy of my love and service.

Angels, who know Him far better than I can, rejoice to worship Him and to do His bidding. He is a glorious King, riding on to victory, clad in the robe of zeal and righteousness. All power is committed unto Him, and He will reign forever and ever. And His character is as glorious as His kingly majesty. All excellencies meet in Him. There is no grace or virtue which I have ever seen in a fellow-Christian, but shines forth pre-eminently in Him.

He is so meek, and gentle, and patient, and forbearing;
He is so full of kindness and pity and tender considerateness for the sorrowful and tried;
He is so holy and faithful and true;
He is so compassionate to the fallen, and so ready to forgive the sinner who comes to Him.

All this binds me to Him, and makes me love His service. It is only those who know Him not, who refuse to love and serve Him. Their eyes are blinded that they cannot see the glory that shines forth in Him. But He has manifested Himself to me. He has sent me His Spirit, and enabled me to discern a few rays of His glory, as the eternal Son of God and as the lowly Son of Mary. Therefore I will abide with Him.

When the Queen of Sheba had seen the royal state of King Solomon, and heard his wisdom, she could exclaim, "Happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you!" (1 Kings 10) But far happier am I to stand before the King of Heaven. Great is my privilege, to be permitted to serve Him whom all the inhabitants of Heaven worship and adore.

3. I will cleave to Christ, because He has shown me such constant tokens of His loving-kindness.

The Jewish servant would be drawn to his master; if he could look back on a long course of tender considerateness; if he had received year after year fresh proofs of his master's thoughtful affection he would be reluctant to leave one who had thus dealt with him. But what shall I say of the Master's goodness to me?

Has He not laid down His life for my sake, as a sacrifice for my sin? I hear His voice pleading with me, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Has He not broken the hard tyranny of the Prince of Darkness?

Has He not set me free from the yoke of evil?

Has He not forgiven me ten thousand times ten thousand sins?

Has He not wrapped me around with His beauteous white robe of righteousness?

Has He not given me sure and precious promises on which I may ever rely?

Has He not brought me graciously through many a gloomy valley of trouble?

Has He not restored me when I fell?

Has He not heard my feeble cry of distress when I knew not where I could turn?

And for all these tokens of His love, shall I not praise Him, and serve Him more and more?

Centuries ago, the aged Polycarp, when asked to blaspheme the name of Christ or else suffer a cruel death, exclaimed, "Eighty-six years have I served Christ, and He has done me nothing but good how shall I, then, blaspheme my Lord and Master?"

Another, in later days, General Havelock, could say, "More than thirty years I have served Christ, and no man ever had so good a Master, or so kind a friend."

And I can take up the same strain. Every year has proved His mercy and His grace hence I will cleave to Him still. "O Lord, truly I am Your servant. . . . You have broken my bonds. . . . What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord!" (Psalm 116)

4. I will cleave to Christ, because the service itself is such a blessed and joyful one.

When the subjects of Rehoboam sought of him a lightening of their burdens, he answered them roughly: "My father made your yoke heavy but I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips but I will chastise you with scorpions." No wonder, hearing such words, that they forsook him, and sought one who would offer an easier service.

But what says Christ of His service? "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11.28, 29). And what Christ said is found true by experience. His service is perfect freedom. In keeping His commandments there is great reward, even now.

What does He ever bid me do, but that which is for my true profit and welfare?

He bids me live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

He bids me abstain from every sin, and in doing so He keeps me from many sorrows.

He bids me watch and pray.

He bids me cultivate every Christian grace and virtue.

He would have me humble, holy, self-denying.

He would have me patient and contented, gentle and forgiving courteous and genuine, unselfish and full of charity.

He would call me to follow in the footsteps of His own most holy life.

He would remind me of the duty of praise and gratitude, and have me frequently lift my heart above the present evil world to my Father in Heaven.

And what is there in all this, but that which is reasonable and blessed, and brings happiness to myself as well as unto others? Since, therefore, the service of Christ is so honorable, so fitted to draw forth all the higher powers of my soul, and so rich in present comfort and blessing I have another reason why I should never forsake it. Nay, I will never leave this service but I pray God that I may serve Christ more and more. May I freely yield all I have to Him, and with a joyful heart do all His holy will!

5. I will cleave to Christ, because I think of my companions in His service.

In some cases the Jewish servant had a wife and, perhaps, children who were reckoned as belonging to his master, and so there was an additional link why he should not leave the home. He loved his master, but he also dearly loved his kindred, and therefore he willingly tarried. Here, too, I see that which binds me still closer to my Master. I love to think I am one with all the people of God. While truly serving Christ I am one with all the excellent of the earth who have ever lived, or who are living now.

"For all the servants of our King
 In Heaven and earth are one."

I am in the same service to which Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and all the patriarchs belonged. I have prophets and apostles and martyrs for my companions. David and Isaiah and Elijah, Peter and Paul, and all the faithful ones in the early Church, with all who have truly loved Christ in every age these are my kinsmen and brethren in the Master's household. And shall not this thought encourage me in the trials I have to meet with? Through conflict and opposition they won their crown, and so must I. I will share with them the reproach of Christ, and with them I shall share the kingdom. Yes, as I think of my companions in Christ's service, as I think of an innumerable company of angels, of the spirits of just men made perfect, and the great multitude which no man can number, gathered out of all nations and people and tongues I rejoice to be one with them in the obedience and love of Christ.

6. I will cleave to Christ, because He gives me such help in my work.

"I used to work single-handed, but now I have a Partner, and He lightens my load for me," said one who told of the happiness he found in bearing Christ's yoke. And I find this is the case with me. He often humbles me and brings me low He often shows me how utterly helpless I am in myself but in due season, He always draws near to assist and strengthen me.

As my day, so is my strength.

He never leaves me long to my own weakness.

When my foot is slipping, He upholds me.

When I am cast down, He lifts me up.

When I have failed, He readily and freely forgives.

When I have a cross to bear, He puts His own shoulder beneath the burden.

He goes with me to my work and stands by my side all the while.

When He sees me overtaxing my strength, He bids me rest for a season in His loving presence.

He works in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

He sends me His blessed Spirit, the Comforter, to be my Teacher and my Sanctifier.

He cheers me with the promises of His grace, and every trouble that I put into His hand, He undertakes on my behalf.

I read of Pharaoh giving heavy tasks to the children of Israel and refusing them straw to make bricks. But very differently does Christ act. He appoints me no work for which He will not provide the help I need in the doing of it. And though my work seems hard sometimes, my sorrows great, because my faith is so small yet the more I look to Him, and trust in Him, the lighter shall I feel the load to be. Therefore I will go happily on my way, and as I go, I will hearken to His word of encouragement:

"So do not fear, for I am with you.
 Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
 I will strengthen you and help you.
 I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10

7. I will cleave to Christ, because His service has such a blessed outcome.

Whatever I may have to bear on earth let me look to the end. What is there yet before me? Let me hear His promise: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." (John 12.26). A few more years or months of service and then comes the glorious rest and the everlasting mansions. I know not what the joy of the future will be but I know that it will eclipse all my expectations. It will be brighter far than heart ever conceived. I might picture to myself the happiest hour I ever spent in the sense of Christ's presence, and in company with His people. I might think of the joy it would be, if all the sin and wretchedness of the world around were past. I might think of the privilege of mingling only with those who delighted in the service of Christ. All this there will, in fullest measure, be in the home of the saints, and infinitely more! Therefore, when weary and toil-worn, I will think of my home above.

"I have a home above,
From sin and sorrow free;
A mansion which eternal love
Designed and formed for me.

"My Father's gracious hand
Has built this sweet abode,
From everlasting it was planned,
My dwelling-place with God."

Hence for every season I must be faithful and steadfast in serving Christ. It is no less my happiness, than it is my bounden duty. I owe it to Him for all that He has done, and all that He has engaged to do for me. It shall be my joy on earth, and my joy in the celestial city, faithfully to serve my Savior and my King.

But how may I show my faithfulness? How may I prove my fixed determination to serve the Master.

I must be steadfast to the claims of His truth. His honor is bound up in the truth which is proclaimed in His Word. I must be jealous for its integrity and its purity. The living water of truth, must not be marred by human traditions. We must keep it pure and without alloy of error.

When the soldiers were passing through Abyssinia, a tube-well was invented, which drew up the water only from the deep cool springs beneath. None of the hot surface-water could mingle with it. Even so we must take heed to receive the truth pure and fresh as from the eternal spring. All human additions we must determinately reject. All ideas of a priestly caste, all teachings of the necessity of confession in private to Christ's ministers, all doctrines involving a sacrifice in the Lord's Supper, or a presence in the elements, or eucharistic adoration everything of this kind is so completely opposed to the letter and spirit of the New Testament, that on no consideration must we ever embrace or adopt it.

Neither must we cast aside one of the great doctrines of the faith, as revealed in Scripture and so clearly laid down in our creeds.

"We must put away all these old-fashioned notions. I want a common-sense religion," was said to me not many months ago. But will a "common-sense" religion be enough to meet the needs of the soul? Will "common-sense" relieve a guilty conscience, or show me how my sins can be blotted out? Will "common-sense" renew my sinful nature and fit me to live with God? Will "common-sense" support me in the hour of death, and give a sure hope of glory beyond the skies?

Nay! I need Divine Wisdom for this. I need Incarnate Wisdom the very Son of God, who was born, and lived, and died, and rose again to bring salvation to the lost. The Son of God becoming the Son of man His atonement, His mediation, His coming glory all this, revealed in the wisdom of God, I require to meet the needs of my soul. I must therefore be steadfast to the truth as it is in Jesus. I must not swerve to the right hand or to the left. I must not add to the Word, nor diminish from it. I must keep in its plain simple path of Scripture doctrine and revelation.

I must be steadfast in obedience to His precepts. Whatever He says to me, I must do it. I must yield to no sin, nor willingly omit any duty that He has laid before me. I must especially remember the supreme importance of forbearing charity and unselfish love. "The end of the commandment is love;" therefore I must ever be showing forth on all around the power of this heavenly grace.

I must be steadfast in the work of His vineyard. Souls are to be won, sinners to be warned, believers to be edified. Little ones are to be gathered into the fold; and sick and sorrowing ones to be comforted by the voice of kindly Scripture counsel.

I must be steadfast in bearing the cross of trial and suffering. Jesus knows all I may have to pass through. He knows the bitterness of the cup I may have to drink, the anxious load I have day by day to carry and therefore I must be quiet and still, and yield to His wise discipline. I must not fret, and rebel, and repine but commit my way to Him who does all things well.

And that I may be able to do this, I must be steadfast in faith. I must trust Him utterly, trust Him constantly, and trust Him forever.

"Trust in Jesus all the day,
Trust in Jesus all the way,
Trust in Him whatever befall.
Trust in Jesus Christ for all."

I learned a helpful lesson lately from Alison's History of Europe. He frequently dwells on the great importance of an army securing its communications. An enemy will often make the greatest efforts to break the line, so that an army may be cut off in case of disaster, or be unable to receive fresh supplies. Napoleon by this means, by a sudden passage over the Great St. Bernard Pass, drove the Austrians out of Italy, and compelled them to evacuate a dozen important fortresses. So that it is all-important for a General, in every case, to maintain the line of communication. To lose this is to forfeit everything.

The application is easy to ourselves. Our great enemy is ever busy to separate us from our source of strength. If he can break down our faith and confidence in Christ, he has us in his power but we must never permit this. We must keep the line open at all hazards. In falls and backslidings, we must humble ourselves in the dust, but yet flee to Christ. In cares and distresses, we must run to Him and not from Him. When the battle seems to be going against us for the moment, we must fall back upon our base of strength and hope. We must turn still to Christ, and say to Him, "Be my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort."

Thus can we never be finally overthrown. Our supplies in Christ can never be exhausted. All power in Heaven and in earth is in His hand. And whatever from this moment we may fear or feel, in Christ at least we shall be more than conquerors.

I cannot close without a few words to those who are serving other masters, or, at least, who have not given themselves unreservedly to Christ. Perhaps you are attempting a divided service serving Christ a little, but the world far more. Perhaps you are halting and undecided you would have the Savior's reward, but will not part with the world's vanities. Or perhaps you are quite decided, but on the wrong side. You are a servant of sin, and you have no part or lot in Christ. Whichever it is, Christ looks upon you as a stranger to Him, and as yet serving in the ranks of the adversary.

But what shall I counsel you to do? Change masters this very day! Cast off the yoke of sin and give yourself up to Christ. Renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, and ask the Lord Jesus to take you as you are, to forgive all that is past, and to help you to serve Him aright. There is no need to wait. Christ will take you just as you are, if you honestly yield yourself to Him. He will take you just as you are, for though there is nothing good whatever to be said for you, yet He will freely save and bless and help you, and teach you how to live a holy life. Humble yourself at His footstool, and come to Him even now. Why should another year, another week, another day be wasted in a service that cannot profit?

What can other masters give you but shame, sorrow, unrest, death and damnation? Think of the dark, dark abyss into which the sinner casts himself by his impenitence and unbelief! Think of the bright abode of saints for all who have loved and followed Christ! Which will be yours? Why not the latter?

Think, too, of the blessedness of spending a lifetime in honoring Christ and doing His will. Think of the sad loss of those who fail to improve this privilege. Who shall tell the bitter regret of many a dear child of God that so long a time has been lost before engaging in the Lord's service. I remember one speaking to the young, and exhorting them early to give themselves to Christ, and then telling them how he mourned that he had passed just half the lifetime of man, before beginning to live indeed.

I may mention another case. And I do so because I believe that the one to whom I refer would have been glad in any way to have influenced the young in speedy decision for Christ. Not many months have passed since a young lady went home to be with Christ. I would that the readers of this little book could have seen her in her last days, and learned the precious and solemn lessons they were calculated to teach. She came to the Savior, and committed her soul to His care. "Only trust Him!" was a lesson deeply engraved on her heart. Three short texts written out for her some time previously were also very helpful to her.

"Jesus only."

"Be not afraid; only believe,"

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever."

But it seemed to me as if in her last days two deep rivers were flowing side by side. The one was her exceeding joy and comfort in Christ's mercy, and the hope of His kingdom. Many, many prayers had been offered for her, and they were abundantly answered. Her countenance was radiant with joy and the sense of Christ's presence. Friends around were weeping but she could look up, and speak with hope of the future. Except when overpowered by pain and difficulty in breathing she could even smile at that which once had been such a dread to her. She could say, "Jesus is holding my hand all the time. I was so frightened before and now I am not one bit afraid."

But side by side with her joy there was also a very deep sorrow. She so greatly grieved that she had not sooner given herself to the Savior. Again and again she spoke of it with tears. "I do so wish I had my life to give to Jesus, after all He has done for me. I am so troubled I can only give Him my deathbed!"

Truly in her sick-chamber she did witness for Christ. She sent many a message, and spoke many an earnest word of entreaty. She gave the little pocket-money that remained to her, to purchase tracts; and prayed most fervently for every one who would read them. Still she grieved that the opportunity was so short; and she never forgave herself for not sooner yielding up all to Christ.

May each reader have the joy, and not the sorrow. Give up all to Jesus, and give it at once. Think of all He has done in dying for you; and consecrate your whole life gladly to His service. Say to Him, "Lord, if I had a hundred lives instead of one, I would give all, and every moment of each to You, who has loved and washed me in Your blood. Only strengthen me by Your grace; and I will be Yours Yours now and forever. Amen."

I would conclude with a hymn which I greatly value, and which suggested to me the subject of this address.

"I love, I love my Master,
I will not go out free!
He loves me, oh, so lovingly,
He is so good to me!

"I love, I love my Master,
He shed His blood for me,
To ransom me from Satan's power,
From sin's hard slavery.

"I love, I love my Master,
Oh, how He worked for me!
He worked out God's salvation,
So great, so full, so free.

"My Master, oh, my Master,
If I may work for Thee,
And tell out Your salvation,
How happy shall I be!

"I know not, but my Master
Will teach me what to do,
Prepare the ground, point out the way,
And work within me too.

"'Take up the cross,' He bids me,
And this for me He bare;
And while I wear His easy yoke.
He meekly takes a share.

"I cannot leave my Master:
His love has pierced my heart;
He binds me to Himself with love,
He will not let me part.

"I love, I love my Master:
To Him alone I cling,
For there is none like Jesus,
My Savior, Friend, and King.

"I love, I love my Master,
I will not go out free!
He says His saints shall serve Him,
And that my Heaven shall be."