« PreviousContinue »
truth? Is it that man may speak, or that God may seal home His truth on your heart? Which is it? The Ethiopian eunuch went up to Jerusalem, not that he might hear this priest or the other Levite. He went up to Jerusalem that he might know something about the hitherto unknown God, the noblest object a man could pursue. We bury our great discoverers in Westminster Abbey, we cast our immortels over their grave, we speak of them as the heroes of our age. they are; but, dear friends, what are the discoveries of a Livingstone compared with the discoveries of a soul-seeking God? You find out a new continent, you explore a new region,.you trace a new river to its source, you find your way up into the presence of God, you look up into His face, you find out this is our God. You gaze into His nature, you discover His character, you find out He is just the God that your poor weary heart is dying for, and then you go and rest in Him. You sit down in the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, you sojourn there with great delight, and His fruit is sweet to your taste. O blessed, glorious, ennobling discovery, when a man finds God. Have you found Him yet, dear friend? You have found religion, you have found churchmanship or dissent, you have found a great variety of things connected with God. Have you got the central object ? Can you say, I have found Him whom my soul loveth, He is mine ?
Now can you ? Do ask yourself that question honestly. You, dear brother, who say you have got views of your own—say, have you? I want to know whether you have got a God of your own—the real God. Is He the one God, the true God? Is He yours ? have you found Him ?
Now I pass on to the next consideration about this Ethiopian eunuch. He was not only an honest investigator, he was also an earnest seeker after the truth. The man was thoroughly in earnest. I venture to say that no man ever got to heaven yet without being in earnest. But remember mere earnestness wont take us to heaven. Mere earnestness very nearly took St. Paul to hell. He was so much in earnest that he imbrued his hand in Stephen's blood, so much in earnest that he got a mandate from the chief priests and Sadducees when he went down to Damascus, and was going to drag the Christians to prison, and if he had gone on a little in that direction he would have gone to hell. “I
bear them witness," says St. Paul of the Jewish people, "that they have a zeal for God,”-earnestness if you will, “but not according to knowledge," and therefore he prays that they might be saved.
My dear brother, are you in earnest ?--you that were very much impressed on Sunday night, and a kind Christian friend came and began to plead with you and said—“O, come now and yield your heart to God,” as though he were asking a great favour of you; and there you sat quite stolid, resisting the Holy Spirit of God. The more He drew you on, the more you drew back. Do you consider yourself in earnest ? Now do you ? Let us put away all nonsense ; let us look the truth in the face. Are you in earnest ? Men and women, eternity is near; are you in earnest? There will be no trifling when we stand before God's judgment seat. Are you in earnest ? Poor Christian was in earnest when he put his fingers in his ears and cried out-“Life! life! eternal life!” A thousand different thoughts might have come into the eunuch's mind. He might have said-You can't leave Candace, the queen
of the Ethiopians, to go up to Jerusalem. But the man was in earnest and cared nought for Candace. “But perhaps you will lose your office; don't allow yourself to be too enthusiastic or too religious.” “No; I cannot put my office before my soul. I must know the truth.” You men of business, the Times is laid on your breakfast table, and the moment you have eaten your meal you must have your newspaper,
I venture to say, there never was a man who read an article in the newspaper that told him that his business had crowned him with wealth, or that his business had overwhelmed him in bankruptcy, with greater eagerness than the eunuch read the roll of the Prophet Esaias when he got hold of it. I think I see him. “Is it all here?” he would ask himself. He had a long solitary journey before him, and he might have done as most Orientals would have done—had a little rest by the way. But no; the man is in earnest, and he sets to work and he reads it at once : O how eagerly! But
don't understand a word about it.” “No; that's the worst of it.” “ Then give it up,” says the devil, “it was not intended for you; you can't understand it." “But I will try,” replied the carnest seeker after truth. I have said a good many words against that word “try; but it is a good word in its right place.
When a man can do nothing else, let him try. This man was so thoroughly in earnest that he determined to try, and he did try. Verse after verse he turned into his own language, and spelled it out. I dare say he would say it was beautiful poetry. But it was more than poetry he wanted ; it was God he wanted. At last he saw the dusty traveller drawing near to him, and as the splendid carriage is drawing up to where the weary wayfaring man is standing, he notices that the wayfaring man has got his eye upon him. He looks up from the roll, and his eye falls on the man's eye, and the man looks up into his face and says—“Understandest thou what thou readest ? ” What would you have answered if he had said that to you? I spoke to a lady in an after-meeting and asked her some such question as this—whether she was happy in Christ ? She gave her head such a toss and a fling, and replied—“That's a matter that lies between me and my God, sir !” Why didn't the Ethiopian eunuch say so? Why didn't he say, “I don't want any interference. Stand back you impertinent man! Do you think I am a fool ? Do you mean to say you come to a gentleman like me and ask me if I understand what I am reading ? Drive on!” Is not that what some of you would have said—you that think you are so in earnest ? O, yes; you are so thoroughly in earnest that if a poor Christian comes up and wants to give you a little help, you feel that he has done you the greatest injury. That is simply
You are not in earnest a bit. If a man is in earnest he would learn from Baalam's ass. If a child can teach me, and if I am anxious to find truth, and I think he can teach me, I will kneel before that child. And isn't that common sense ? And if we have looked up to the cross and know that it is all finished, and want to convey the same message to you, if you are in earnest you will be glad to hear it, instead of going and hiding yourself away, and trying to conceal that you are wounded, or that you have got anything like emotion. If a man is in earnest he will hoist the signal of distress and say—I want help! My eyes are opened! I am sinking down to hell, and if God does not save me I shall sink for ever!
Will you help me ? Come and pray
for me! Come and direct me? That is the way a man talks that is in earnest. The poor eunuch made a most sensible reply. He said—“How can I, except some man should guide me ?"
Why do we hold these after-meetings ? Can't people find peace with God in their own chambers ? Exactly.
I have heard of people finding peace with God in the street. But is that any reason why you should not get all the help and guidance you can ? Philip just went and held an after-meeting with this Ethiopian eunuch. The sermon had been preached already. The solemn worship at Jerusalem had been preaching; the prophet Esaias had been preaching it all the way down, and now there comes the after-meeting. The eunuch turns to this dusty man and says—“Come up into my chariot." And there Philip sat down beside him, and he hands over the roll, and says—" Can you understand this ? I want so much to know. What is it all about ? ”
Now, my dear brethren, God will take care that the honest soul shan't slip into hell. If a man is honestly seeking after God, God will seek after him until He finds him. have got Philip leaving the city of Samaria, where he had been so wonderfully blest, leaving it at the right time to the tick of the clock. If he had been five minutes sooner or later he would have missed this eunuch.
Further, I suppose that when the man left Jerusalem he would say to himself—“I wonder where I shall find what I want?
And the Holy Spirit takes him to the right place. He began this glorious evangelical prophet, I conclude, at the beginning of his journey, and God takes care that he shall read on, and on, until he gets to the right chapter, and the right verse; and if you and I had selected the chapter and verse that the Ethiopian eunuch should have been reading, that is the very chapter and verse we should have chosen.
There is something moving in the world besides the wheels of life, something more than the mechanism that seems to rule our experience. Underneath all is the Father's love. We see not the august shadow resting upon us on journey, but Thine eye is never heavy, and Thine hand is never wearied out, and Thou hast told us that all things work together for good. Many of us, when we get to the end of life, will have to say—“ It was just the tiniest chance that led me to the Saviour."
At a mission I held not long since, in a seaside town, I came across a dear young man there, fresh from the university, and after one of the services in the church, I spoke to him about his soul. Afterwards, a young lady came to me and
said—“Sir, you spoke to a young man in the gallery; that is my brother. O, sir, isn't it wonderful,” she said, “ that we should just have happened to come down here at this time; we had no intention of it. We knew nothing about the mission. We came down for a change of air, and we saw the bills out, and came into the church, and the Lord met us and saved us.”
If you are really in earnest, God has sent this mission to you—I scruple not to say it—as surely as He ever sent Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch. It is God's own message to you. Take heed that you don't make light of it. The presence of Philip brought comfort and hope to the eunuch's heart. Let the presence of the mission and the voice of the Mission Preacher bring peace and hope to yours.
O, regard it, for dear friends it actually is so, as a special manifestation of God's eager solicitude and care on your behalf. God has brought you here to-day. He has marked out all things according to the counsel of His own will, so as to bring the proper people within the range of His message, and here you are to-day. 0 open your heart and take it home.
Now Philip and the eunuch are sitting together, and what is it Philip proceeds to do? The eunuch sinks into silence and listens to what Philip has to say. Philip.“ began at the -same scripture and preached unto him Jesus.” And that's the very best sermon anybody ever preached or can preach. You may preach about justification by faith, and that shan't save a man; you may preach about sanctification by the Holy Spirit, and that wont save a man; and you may preach about a whole host of other interesting and necessary doctrines, and that wont save a man. But open your mouth, and let the Holy Spirit speak through you, and speak of Jesus,-let Jesus be the text and the sermon,—let Jesus be the argument and the illustration,-let Jesus be the substance and Jesus the all in all from beginning to end. Then you will have a sermon that will go thrilling home to the heart of man.
You know, dear friends, that is God's own sermon. What do we read in the first verse of the first chapter of Hebrews ? • God who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” Thus in the name of Jesus, God speaks to the human heart: Jesus meets the wants of the human soul ; Jesus open the door of heaven; Jesus calms