The Knife!


God did not make us that we might sport and play,
like leviathan in the deep.
Even in Paradise man was bidden to dress the garden.
There is something to be done by each man,
and especially by each Christian man.

In the day when we were born again,
we began to live to God, and not to ourselves.
Have we carried out that desire?

We have worked, we have even worked hard;
but the question comes to us --
"What have we worked for?
Who has been our master?
With what object have we toiled?"

Of course, if I have been true to my profession
as a Christian, I have lived and worked for God,
for Christ, and for the kingdom of heaven.
But has it been so?
And is it so now?
Many are working very hard for wealth, which means,
of course, for 'self'- that they may be enriched.

Some are working simply for a competence,
which means, if it goes no farther- still for 'self'.

Others work for their families- a motive good enough in
its way, but still only an enlargement, after all, of 'self'.

To the Christian there must always be a far higher,
deeper, purer, truer motive than 'self' in its widest sense;
or else the day must come when he will look back upon his
life, and say, "I did not spend my life in the service of Christ,
or for the glory of him who bought me with his blood ."

It seems to me to be a terrible calamity to have to
look back on twenty years, and say--
"What have I done in all those twenty years for Christ?
How much of my energy has been spent in striving to glorify him?
I have had talents: how many of those talents
have been used for him who gave them to me?
I have had wealth, or I have had influence.
How much of that money have I spent distinctly for my Lord?
How much of that influence have I used for the promotion
of his kingdom?"

You have been busy with 'this notion', and 'that motive,
and 'the other endeavor'. But have you lived as you will wish
to have lived, when you stand at his right hand amidst his glory?

Have you so acted that you will then judge yourself to have well
lived, when your Lord and Master shall come to call you to account?

Ask yourself, "Am I an earnest laborer for God, or am I, after all,
only a laborious trifler, an industrious doer of nothing, working
hard to accomplish no purpose of the sort for which I ought to work,
since I ought to live unto my Lord alone?"

I invite all my fellow-servants to take a retrospect,
and just to see whether you have really lived for Christ.

I suppose that you have worked hard. I only put the question--
Have you served the Lord in all things?

I am half afraid to go a step farther.
To a very large degree we have not been true to our own professions-
our 'highest work' has been neglected.

In looking back, how little time has been spent by us
in communion with God!

How little a part of our thoughts has been occupied with meditation,
contemplation, adoration, and other acts of devotion!

How little have we surveyed the beauties of Christ, his person,
his work, his sufferings, his glory!

We say that it is "heaven below" to commune with Christ-
but do we do it?

We profess that there is no place like the mercy-seat.
How much are we at that mercy-seat?

We often say that the Word of God is precious -
that every page of it glows with a heavenly light.
Do we study it?
Friends, how much time do you spend upon it?

I venture to say that the bulk of Christians spend more time in
reading the newspaper than they do in reading the Word of God.
I trust that I am too severe in this statement,
but I am afraid, greatly afraid, that I am not.
The last new book, perhaps the last sentimental story,
will win attentive reading; when the divine, the mysterious,
the unutterable depths of heavenly knowledge are disregarded by us.

Some of God's children are far too fond of unwholesome food--
The 'chaff of fiction', and the 'bran of magazines',
are poor substitutes for the 'old corn of Scripture',
the 'fine flour of spiritual truth'.
(What would Spurgeon say of the way today's Christians
envelop themselves in unwholesome entertainment? -editor)

Alas, my brethren, too many eat the unripe fruit of the vineyards
of Satan, and the fruits of the Lord's vines they utterly despise!

Think of our neglect of our God, and see whether
it is not true that we have treated him very ill.

We have been in the shop, we have been on the exchange,
we have been at the markets, we have been in the fields,
we have been in the public libraries, we have been in the
lecture room, we have been in the forum of debate;
but our own closets and studies, our walk with God,
and our fellowship with Jesus, we have far too much neglected.

Moreover, the holy service for God we have too much left to go to ruin.
I would ask you- How about the work your God has called you to do?
Men are dying; are you saving them?
This great city is like a seething caldron,
boiling and bubbling up with infamous iniquity;
are we doing anything by way of antidote to the
hell-broth concocted in that caldron?
Are we indeed a power working towards righteousness?
How much good have we done?
What have I done to pluck brands from the burning?
What have I done to find the lost sheep
for whom my Savior laid down his life?

Come, put the questions to yourself, and answer them honestly!
No, do not back out, and say, "I have no ability."
I fear you have more ability than you will give
an account of with joy at the last great day.

You all have a flock of some kind, larger or smaller.
You all have, as Christian people, somebody for
whom you will have to answer. Have you done your
Master's work in reference to those entrusted to you?
O men and women, have you sought to
save others from going down into the pit?
You have the divine remedy:
but have you handed it out to these sick and dying ones?

You have the heavenly word which can deliver them from
destruction: have you spoken it in their ears, praying all the
while that God might bless it to their souls?

Might not many a man among you say to himself-
"I have been a tailor," or "I have been a shop-keeper," or
"I have been a mechanic," or "I have been a merchant," or
"I have been a physician," and I have attended to these callings;
but my own vineyard, which was my Master's,
which I was bound to look to first of all, I have not kept?

This is plain dealing; but I never wear gloves when I preach.
I know not where this knife may cut; but if it wounds,
I beg you do not blunt its edge.

Do you say that this is "very personal"?
It is meant to be personal; and if anybody is offended by it,
let him be offended with himself, and mend his ways.

You and I must cry mightily to the Holy Spirit to help us to
live really and truly the lives which our professions demand of us.

A day will come when all church-goings, and chapel-goings,
and preachings, and singings, and sacraments, will seem fluff
and useless stuff, if there has not been the substance of
'real living' for Christ in all our religiousness.

Oh that we would rouse ourselves to something
with a divine earnestness!

Oh that we felt the grandeur of our heavenly surroundings!
We are no common men!
We are loved with no common love!
Jesus died for us! He died for us! He died for us!
And is this poor life of ours, so often dull and worldly,
our sole return to him?

Behold that piece of land! He that bought it paid his life for it,
watered it with bloody sweat, and sowed in it a divine seed.
And what is his harvest? We naturally expect great things.
Is the poor starvling life of many a professor a fit harvest
for Christ's sowing his heart's blood?

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,
all in action to save us-- what is the result?
Omnipotence linking hands with love,
and working out a miracle of grace!
What comes of it?
A halfhearted professor of religion?
Is this all the result?
O Lord, was there ever so small an effect from so great a cause?
You might almost need a microscope to discover
the result of the work of grace in some people's lives.
Ought it to be so?
Shall it be so?
In the name of him that lives and was dead, dare YOU let it be so?

Help us, O God, to begin to so live, that we may render
our account at last with joy, and not with grief! Amen.