Another Royal Procession
“Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King comes unto you, meek, and sitting upon a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
IT is not our intention to preach from this verse, alone, but from the combined narrative of our Savior’s triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem as contained in the four Evangelists. When our Lord was here on earth He was a humble Man before His foes. He was a weary Man and full of woes, and only now and then did some glimpses of His native royalty burst forth from Him. He had, now and then, a day in which His regal rights were assumed and His royal position was claimed. He is gone from us now as to His actual Presence, but He is with us spiritually and His spiritual Presence here is not unlike what His bodily Presence was in the days of His flesh.
For the most part, the glory of His Gospel Presence is unobserved except among His own disciples. And when perceived by others He is still despised and rejected of men. He moves up and down among our assemblies–hearing our prayers and accepting our praises–but still His honor as a Prince lies concealed from the eyes of the many who know Him not as King by Divine right. Yet, as in those days He had His times of clearer display and His hours of partial manifestation, even so He has now. He gives to His Church her Glory periods, her days of thanksgiving, her court days, and her times of exultation. And I pray God that He may grant such times as these to His Church now, that in the midst of these dull years He may gird His sword upon His thigh and ride forth gloriously in His majesty!
Oh, that the streets of His Jerusalem could be gladdened by the holy pomp and sacred splendor of His gracious and triumphal Presence! Beloved, the world does well to salute righteous kings with all homage. Our nation does well to honor their well-beloved queen, whom may God long preserve! But shall Christ, the King of kings, be without His homage? I must confess I am jealous for Him–jealous with a burning jealousy that the streets should blaze with splendor for the Queen of Britain–and that so little should be done in honor of the King Immortal, Eternal! Lo, the shouts of the multitude rend the skies for earthly princes and I grudge them not. But should there be no lifting up of joyful voices for the Prince of Peace?
Why this lethargy in His Church? Why such slender zeal for the Chief among ten thousand? Why should not earth and Heaven ring with His praises? If I might say so much as a sentence today that should lead the tribes to speak a word to bring the King back again to His own. If I might excite in any soul a fervent desire that Christ’s kingdom should more speedily come and His throne should be exalted more on high in the midst of His people, I should be thrice happy! To that end shall I endeavor to speak this day. Oh, for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to aid me!
Our points of consideration, this morning, will be, first, that Christ has even now His glorious days among men. And secondly that when those glorious days come honors are paid to Him similar to those described by the Evangelists on the occasion of His entrance into Jerusalem. In the third place I shall remind you that He is likely, on such occasions, to perform the same mighty deeds. and in the close of our discourse we shall have to observe that even on those brilliant occasions, “all is not gold that glitters.”
- First, then, here is a very pleasant consideration, that THE LORD JESUS HAS, EVEN NOW, BRIGHT AND GLORIOUS DAYS OF SPECIAL MANIFESTATION IN HIS CHURCH. He has ridden into His Jerusalem again and again in the history of the Gospel. We call these times revivals, and in yet more scriptural language they are known as “times of refreshing from the Presence of the Lord.” They usually occur, (and I shall try to follow the narrative in all the remarks I make), they usually occur after the Lord has visited His beloved and quickened them.
He came into Jerusalem after He had raised Lazarus from the dead. His Omnipotent voice had said, “Lazarus, come forth!” and Lazarus came forth and the grave clothes were loosed from him. Then, and for that cause, did the people come to meet our Lord with palm branches. First does the Lord speak to His Church and He says to her, “Come forth out of the grave of your sloth and your indifference.” He says, “Loose her, take away the bands of her sloth and her conventionalism and set her free.” And then when He has restored among His Church a people whom He loves, and granted to them renewed vigor of spiritual life in the power of His Resurrection, then it is that the sign of the Glory of the Son of Man is revealed!
I despair, Beloved, of any revival being of the slightest value which does not begin with the Church of God. It never can originate outside and work into the interior–this is not the rule of spiritual life–it must commence with the spiritual in the midst of the Church. It must next quicken the mass of the discipleship, and then it shall spread to those who are outside and in ever widening circles its power shall be felt. But, revival must begin at home. Hear this, you professors, and take heed lest you hinder Christ of His Glory! Hear this, you who profess to be members of His Church, and beware lest you be like the damp wood which will not kindle, and therefore no fire burns among the sons of men! Oh, let not the Well-Beloved find His worst hindrances in His own household! Let not the Glory of Christ be obscured most by those who stand nearest to Him and ought, therefore, to be most jealous for His holy name!
Yet so I fear full often it is–the children Ephraim being armed and carrying bows turn back in the day of battle–and so Israel’s God is dishonored. Lazarus must arise! Our death must be shaken off and then shall the Lord Jesus greatly triumph. The Lord was pleased to ride in state when His disciples were obedient to Him. Note well their implicit obedience, for it is a sure prophecy of glorious displays in the Church. He said to two of His disciples, “Go,” and they went. And others of them having His commission performed their errands without hesitation.
Alas, I fear the disobedience of the Church often hinders the advance of the Gospel. The disciples do not, at this day, as they did then, the things which Jesus commanded them. One of them says, “I will follow Paul,” another, “I will follow Cephas”–would God we laid aside all party leadership and were only led by the Master Himself! One says, “This institution is venerable if it is not Scriptural.” Another says, “I believe this ritual to be impressive and instructive, even if it is not ordained of God.” And so men excuse their will-worship. Oh that we could lay all these things aside and recognize that the Law of the house is the Law which the Master makes, and not the Law which the servants invent!
It is time that we laid our perverse likes and our dislikes, our whims and our fancies, our opinions and even our more sober judgments at the feet of Him who is the only King of Zion–for be assured of this–His sacred majesty will not manifest its Glory to disobedient disciples, unless it is in a way of terror! Take heed, then, O you who stand in His courts by your profession and are His servants in name, that you labor to do His will on earth as it is done in Heaven! Do it cheerfully, speedily, exactly, and with reverence to His every Word, for otherwise He will veil His Glory, and do but few mighty works among you!
Another indication of our Lord giving us Glory days will be found in the prompt and cheerful sacrifice which His disciples will make. On the day of His entrance into Jerusalem, the owner of the donkey and its colt cheerfully surrendered them when he heard that the Lord had need of them. The disciples who brought the donkey did not spare their own contributions, for they took their garments and piled them on the donkey. And others would not be debarred from their share of homage, for they spread their garments in the way, counting it their greatest honor to be bare-backed for Christ. All hands contributed for all hearts were warm. The willing offerings of the people carpeted the road for the Son of David when He went through the metropolis to His cathedral.
None appeared before Him empty–there was no withholding on that day. A generous spirit had seized upon all His followers, and mark this word–for there is more of the solemn Truth of God in it than some will think–Christ Jesus has often taken away the power of His Spirit from the Church because of the covetousness of many professors who have grudged the cause of God what they ought spontaneously and cheerfully to have offered! They have said of sacrifice to the Lord, “what a weariness it is!” They have robbed God in tithes and in offerings. They have counted the free-will offering to be a tax, when they ought to have considered it to be an honor and a privilege to be allowed to give to the Lord’s cause. God has been insulted by miserly gifts and penurious contributions!
What they would have been ashamed to offer to the meanest among princes they have presented to the Lord. How often have I blushed as I have heard in prayer that text, “Prove Me now herewith, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Why have you blushed? you ask. Because seldom or never do I hear that text quoted correctly, its point is dexterously turned aside. What is the proof which the Lord puts before His people in that text? For what does He say, “Prove Me now?” By your prayers? No! By your good works? No! But the text is, “Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in My house, and prove Me now herewith, says the Lord of Hosts,” and so on.
That is the peculiar test to which God brings His people, and in that test, alas, how many fail! They buy Him no sweet cane with money, neither is He filled with their sacrifices. They will give their words in plenty–their lip homage in floods–but if it comes to their substance they will have none of it! How few Christians have ever read this text and understood it, “Sell what you have and give alms.” Their almsgiving has never come to that–they have given but the cheese parings and the candle ends to Christ–but they never knew they had given them! They made no sacrifice to do so. Many do not give to Jesus so much in a year as it costs to clean their shoes. Christ’s cause costs them not half the hire of the most menial servant in their kitchens.
Is not this a crying evil to be answered for by those who are guilty of it? How can we expect the kingdom to come and the cause of Christ to grow while in these days of unreal profession Christ’s followers deny Him His due and straiten the treasury of His Church! If no garments strew the road and no man gives up his colt, how shall the Prince celebrate a triumph? But we must pass on from that–those three things are, however, very significant signs of Christ’s Glory days–a quickened people, an obedient discipleship, and a general self-sacrifice. Let us see these and we shall be sure that one of Christ’s Glory days has come!
Furthermore, the Glory of Christ is seen when Jesus Christ is publicly proclaimed as King. Forevermore, beyond a doubt, we acknowledge Christ to be King in the Church. I hope all Believers are sound upon that point. But in what holes and corners does the Church whisper out the Truth which He has told us in the closet? Years ago, many of the Churches were quite content to hide their light under any bushel, meeting in the strangest courts, and lanes, and alleys, where nobody but an angel and themselves could ever find them out! This contentment with obscurity is contrary to the genius of the Gospel! Let moles and bats seek out the hidden places and dwell there–the children of light are not ashamed–but make it their glory that these things are not done in a corner.
It is a grand day for the kingdom of Christ when the King is proclaimed in the streets! When the great trumpet is sounded! When the disciples stand in the highways and the voice of wisdom is lifted up in the chief places of concourse, at the going in of the gates! Then are things well ordered when Zion lifts up her voice, yes, lifts it up with strength, and says unto the cities of Judah, “Behold your God.” Our commission as preachers is to every creature, and, therefore, the more public the teaching of the Gospel the better! Truly, there was Grace in the earth when in popish times God was loved by men in quiet, and when Christ was worshipped by little knots in secret. But that was a grander day when Luther stood out in the open air and said that Christ was King and salvation was by His blood!
Then, when all over Europe the crowds began to gather in the fields, or beneath the Gospel oak, or in the public squares to listen to the men who–not in a corner nor with bated breath–but aloud and boldly before them all declared that Antichrist must come to an end and that the Lord Jesus Christ must be exalted, and faith in Him must be declared to be the salvation of the sons of men! Oh, it was then that Christ and His Church decreed a glorious day! Blessed be God for the Reformation–but we must not rest in faded laurels–we need new victories! We desire the blessings of the Gospel to be extended! And we must pray that the Gospel may have free course and be glorified–that every street may ring with its charming music, that every alley and court may brighten with salvation–yes, and that not a house in London may he left without knowing that “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.”
It is a notable day when in the great gatherings of the people the Lord Jesus is declared to be the Lord of all! On such days one part of the Glory consists in many going forth to meet Christ. I wish I might live to see the facts of the Gospel narrative fulfilled spiritually before our eyes. The people in Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Jesus, glad that He was coming into the city, willing to swell the pomp of His entrance. And even thus God moves often on bright days upon the mass of the people making them willing to receive the Gospel. There are times when the preacher feels that he is sowing on stony ground, but on other days when God’s Spirit is abroad, the soil seems broken up, pliable, ready to receive the grain–and the seed suddenly springs up and a speedy harvest is produced!
Pray, my Brothers and Sisters, that God would move our fellow countrymen to go forth to meet King Jesus! Pray that there may come a great desire of religious thought over the minds of the people. God can cause it–He has the keys of human hearts and can secretly guide them according to His will. Pray that there may be a great religious movement among the people, for then we may look for one of the days of the Son of Man, as the days of Heaven upon earth! Then, too, as another sign, we shall see enthusiasm prevailing on all sides. When Christ rode through Jerusalem it was not possible for men to be cold at the sight of His majesty!
Those who hated Him burned with malignity, but those who loved Him were full of flaming affection towards Him. It is one specialty of Christ’s Character that men can scarcely be indifferent in His Presence. He that is not with Him is against Him. What enthusiasm there was in the crowd that day when the city rang again! The children climbed the trees and threw down the branches. Their parents waved them in triumph and then cast them in the roadway that the Savior might ride over them. The shouts were loud and long! The day was full of gladness to the many. Ah, and it is a mark of Christ’s Presence when the Church becomes enthusiastic.
We sometimes hear complaints about revivals being too exciting. Perhaps the censure is deserved, but I would like to see a little of the fault. This age does not generally sin in the direction of being too excited concerning Divine things. We have erred so long on the other side that, perhaps, a little excess in the direction of fervor might not be the worst of all calamities! At any rate, I would not fear to try it. Doubtless our Lord’s Presence, like the rising of the sun, scatters heat as well as light on all sides. Oh to be scorched by that Sun, to be parched with that heat! Blessed would they be who should be guilty of too great a love for Him–convicted of too consuming a zeal for the Glory! I would gladly die of that heavenly malady!
On that triumphal day, beloved Brethren, where there was no enthusiasm, there was inquiry, for all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” When our Lord grants revivals to His Church, the congregations and the multitude outside begin to ask, “Why all this stir? What does all this mean? Who is this Christ, and what is His salvation?” This spirit of inquiry is eminently desirable. It is just now a matter to be sought for by importunate prayer. Would God that all this vast metropolis were stirred by the inquiry, “Who is this?” and that everywhere men said, “What is this Gospel about which so much noise is made?” May the Lord in His mercy move men’s hearts as the trees of the forests are shaken with the wind! This is that shaking which the Prophet saw in the Valley of Vision when bone came together to its bone before the breath of the Spirit made the slain to live. Be instant day and night, O you chosen men of God, and pray that like Nineveh in the days of Jonah this whole city may be moved by the preaching of the Word of God!
The strange thing about the matter was that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, all His enemies were quiet. He rode publicly through the streets where Herod and Pilate held their courts, yet they did not attempt to molest Him. The Romans were very jealous of their authority. They were always prompt to seize upon any person who pretended to be a king, and yet not a solitary praetorian guard laid his rough hand upon the King of the Jews and neither did Herod’s men of war appear upon the scene! It does not appear that any information was carried to headquarters concerning this singular procession–neither was it laid to the Lord’s charge by His enemies at His trial.
As for the scribes and Pharisees, they did no more than bark a little, but bite they could not, for they feared the people. That day every foeman cowered down before the Lord like dogs when a lion roars. When He entered the temple He was unattended by armed followers. He took with Him no sword, but simply a scourge made of small cords, and yet with that slight weapon He chased out the buyers and sellers, overturning their tables and overthrowing the seats of them that sold doves. It does not appear that any resistance was made to Him–He was Lord of the hour. Against Him not a dog dared move his tongue! In the Presence of the King of Zion the enemy was as still as a stone till He and His people had passed through the city and the day of the royal pomp was over.
In like manner it is remarkable that, in times when the Lord is blessing His Church, He restrains the wrath of His enemies or causes it to praise Him. He has power to make the proudest humble themselves, and the most stout-hearted bow their necks–and He uses that power to the Glory of His name. While I am thus describing what the glorious days of Christ are when they dawn upon us, surely you, my dear fellow members, are all pleading with God and earnestly praying, “O King of Grace, Grant us one of these royal days in this Church!” And you, the members of other Churches, are crying, “would God that Jesus would come to our town in that fashion, and that He would rule in our Church after that manner.”
Let us pray for it unanimously and continually, and let us be of good cheer, for Jesus loves His Church and He will give her what her heart is set upon. Let us plead with Him for it, and we shall yet see the day in which the many shall cry, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”
II. But, time would fail us if we lingered here, and therefore we pass to the second head, which is this, that ON THESE GLORY DAYS OF JESUS CHRIST IN HIS CHURCH, LIKE HONORS ARE PAID TO HIM NOW AS THEN. And first, He is at this time as loudly praised and as greatly rejoiced in among His people as He was then. They clapped their hands and called Him, “Blessed.” And the whole multitude of His disciples rejoiced with an exceeding loud voice, and cried, “Hosanna, Hosanna.”
Oh, Beloved, we are dull enough when Christ is away. How can the children of the bride chamber rejoice when the Bridegroom is gone from them? But when His Spirit comes with power into our midst how can we fast? Oh, then our hearts rejoice and leap along in glee like the long frozen brooks when the soft breath of spring has set them free! Send us but a revival, O God, and Ready-to-Halt shall leap upon his crutches, and Much-Afraid and Fearing, and Despondency shall sing with holy mirth! No joy is like the joy of Christ’s Presence with His people! Oh, that we might have it! Bickering soon ceases! Murmurings come to an end! Complaints of one another and of God’s Providence are all hushed! The sense that Jesus Christ is with His people drowns every note of sorrow and every heart is tuned to loudest notes of thankfulness!
O, my Soul, bless the Lord God! And may all that is in me be stirred up to bless His holy name–to magnify and bless, on that auspicious day–when the power of Jesus Christ is revealed in the city of His choice. It is a gladsome time, a time of singing, a time of shouting, a time of exultation and of intense delight when we go forth to meet our King Solomon to crown Him anew! I need not say to you, should He favor us with such a delightful period, let us rejoice and be glad in Him for you would be sure to do it! When the Lord turns again the captivity of Sion, then is our mouth filled with singing and our tongue with laughter! The point that I shall dwell upon here would be that Christ’s peculiar honor lay not only in the joy and rejoicing which flowed around Him, but in the multitude who felt the contagion of that joy.
It was said by those who saw the pageantry of last week, that the great sight of all was the multitude! The thing to look at and to wonder at was the crowd–the dense, far-reaching, eager, surging crowd. And, surely, in Christ’s Glory days the thing which brings Him much honor is the crowd–the multitude. When He makes bare His arm, and His Gospel is preached with power, the multitude are sure to listen, and men say, “Behold the whole world is gone after Him.” It may seem strange and unaccountable, but so it is, that the very Gospel which is opposed by men has a strange attraction for their ears–they cannot help hearing it–and though to this day there is an opposition in the human heart to the Truth as it is in Jesus, yet it is a remarkable fact that men love to listen to it. The numerical strength of Christ’s Church still lies in the multitude–the common people hear Him gladly.
Though it was known that Christ was coming, the princes did not go to meet Him. The priests did not go to meet Him. There were no long files of Jewish nobility to greet their King. But the people went by the thousands! The masses cheered Him! I dare say the Pharisees called them the mob, the rabble, the unwashed. Yes, and let it stand for fact, “this Man receives sinners.” He is the people’s King, the Helper of the poor and needy. The poor of this world have been rich in faith in Him. In the old days of persecution and of burning–who were the men that played the man most nobly at the stake? Here and there a bishop and a noble did so, but the rank and file of the heroes were from the poor or the middle class!
There was one great man with an unworthy right hand that recanted, and yet did well at the last–but the poor weavers of Colchester, and the cobblers of Bow never recanted at all! They gloried in being made a burnt-offering for the Truth of God! Wherever the Gospel has been mainly upheld by the great ones of the earth it has had little success. Take, for instance, Spain and Italy. The converts of the Reformation there nearly all belonged to the higher ranks, and before long its doctrines became extinct. But it lived among German peasants and British artisans. The valiant of Israel still come from the loom, the smithy, the plow and the bench. Wherever the Gospel entrenches itself among the common people, the devil himself cannot destroy it! It is then like a lion in its own forest, and none can drive it away!
The priests and the mighty ones may uphold what cause they will, but if the people are for King Jesus, His advocates have no need to blush. It is this day the Glory of Christ that He does save the poor and the needy, and that He is the Prince of the multitude. “I have exalted,” says the Lord, “One chosen out of the people”–Jesus is the people’s Christ–the people’s Man. He still has honor out of the mouth of those whom others despise, for He has chosen the base things of the world and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are! Here was a part of Christ’s glory.
And then, observe, that on that day it was Christ’s Glory that He received all sorts of homage from all kinds of people. As I have already said, he who had a beast that Christ might ride upon cheerfully surrendered it. He who had no beast had at least a garment, and he gave it. And he who was so poorly clad that his best garment, when spread in the way, might seem rather to insult than to honor the King, gave a branch from the tree. He who could, brought a palm, which probably he had to purchase with money. But those who could not buy palm branches, climbed the trees that were common and grew by the highway, and threw the branches down.
I suppose these were branches of olives, for they were hard by the Mount of Olives–let the fatness of the earth honor Him! There were also branches of the fig tree, for Bethpage was the house of figs–let the sweetness of the earth honor Him! Doubtless there were branches of the cedars–let the honor and strength of the earth adore Him! There were branches of the myrtle–let all earth’s honor and victory glorify Him! I do not read that Christ rejected so much as one attempt to do Him honor. He rebuked no disciple and silenced no child! Oh, in the day when Christ is glorious all His people try to serve Him! Each one brings his portion–the prince brings much, but the peasant brings his share–and the Lord accepts them all! No Christian, when the Lord is abroad, shirks his duty or forgets to bring his sacrifice–nor does the Lord reject so much as one honest gift of a sincere heart.
And on that day, oh, it was a sweet thing to notice and delightful to remember, it will always be so when Christ is glorious–the little ones were conspicuous! Did not the boys in the Temple cry, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” and their throats were not hoarse half so soon as their fathers' were! They kept up the mirth of that gladsome day–a joyful holiday was it for them! Even thus where there is true Grace working powerfully in a Church I always expect to see young converts–boys and girls will be brought to Christ in any true revival–and where they are not, I think we have good reason to suspect that the movement is not genuine–for had it been the work of the Spirit of God, the little ones would have been suffered to come unto Him as well as those of older growth.
Oh, may such honors be heaped on Christ in this Tabernacle! Would God I could hear the little ones say, “Hosanna!” while their fathers and their mothers join the song! The Lord grant that the Sunday school may send up a noble regiment for the King’s army! Oh, that on all sides, you men with wealth and you men with none. You with great gifts and you with few. You with much time and leisure, and you with scarcely an hour to call your own–you aged men and you youngsters–O that you would unite in magnifying the Redeemer! Oh, that I could see you all strewing something in the way of Christ to glorify Him in the midst of His Church!
III. But, I must not dwell here, though the theme is very tempting. Notice that when Christ comes into the Church HE EXECUTES THE SAME DEEDS AS HE DID THEN. What was the first thing He did that we observe? He was seated on the colt and as He rode along and heard the shouts of the people, I have no doubt that a smile was over His face. And when He saw the little ones, in all their ardor, He looked at them with love. But, on a sudden, just as He came where He could see Jerusalem, though it was the day of His triumph, He stopped! And all around could see that some mighty emotion was swelling His heart to bursting, and at last the tears coursed adown those cheeks and He burst into this lament, “O that you had known, even you, in this your day.”
I know that everywhere Christ is in the Church, in the power of His Spirit, compassion for souls becomes very prominent. Christ weeps through His people’s eyes and yearns through His children’s hearts. He makes them pitiful and full of compassion. They cannot bear it that men should be damned! It grieves them that the day of a gracious visitation should come and yet so many should reject Christ. Oh, my Brothers and Sisters, you who live near to Christ and feel a sympathy with Him, ask the Lord to give you heartache over dying souls! Ask Him to make you feel an anguish because men will not come unto Him that they might have life, but will persist in committing spiritual suicide by putting far from them life eternal! Oh, that we might see a holy passion for souls in the Church! That would be a blessed sign of rich Grace!
At the same time, on that same occasion, the judgments of Christ were conspicuous for His compassion did not permit Him to keep back the tidings of future punishment. He said, “If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong unto your peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you that your enemies shall cast a trench about you and compass you round, and keep you in on every side. And shall lay you even with the ground and your children within you. And they shall not leave in you one stone upon another because you knew not the time of your visitation.”
I have noted that in genuine revivals the preachers of God’s Truth are not backward in preaching the threats, as well as the promises. We are told that men are drawn to Christ by love and the statement is true. But, at the same time, “knowing the terrors of the Lord,” we are to persuade men and not to keep back from them the evil tidings. Even Christ, with weeping eyes and tender heart, does not hesitate to tell Jerusalem of its coming destruction–and I believe it is a token that Christ is in the Church when those terrible things of His are not kept back to please the popular taste–when there is no trying to cut them down and moderate them in order to make the wrath to come look less terrible than it is.
It must be thundered out again and again, “unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish!” It must be told the sinner that if he goes on in his iniquity he shall be driven away from hope and salvation, “where their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched.” Christ is not present in an unfaithful Church! And this is a point upon which some Churches are very apt to grow unfaithful. We must deliver the whole Truth of God–even the dark side of it as well as that which smiles with mercy–and Christ is not present unless it is so. The sympathy of Jesus led Him, as it should lead us, to be lovingly honest with the sons of men.
But, you notice in the reading, that our Lord, when He rode through the streets of His metropolis, went straight away to the cathedral gate. And when He entered there He began to purge the Temple. With the scourge in His hand He smote right and left–and He overthrew the tables of those that were changing the shekels! And He cast out the cages of doves that were stored there for merchandise. Even now does Christ do. No Church can remain long impure with Jesus in her midst. His Presence brings reformation–things tolerated before become intolerable where He is. While a Church is without the Spirit of God it will keep in its old ways–it will plead precedent, it will endure grievous abuses–it will make excuses for this and excuses for that.
But let the Lord once come, and out the hawkers and hucksters must go–tables, money-bags, doves, and all! He will not have them in His House of Prayer–bag and baggage must go when He comes in! He only in His Truth and power must reign in the midst of His own Church! I do not believe we shall thoroughly purify any Church by Acts of Parliament, nor by reformation associations, nor by agitation, nor by any merely human agency. No hand can grasp the scourge that can drive out the buyers and sellers but that hand which once was fastened to the Cross. Let the Lord do it and the work will be done, for it is not of man, nor shall man accomplish it!
Then, when Christ had purged the Church, the next thing was to heal the sick who came to Him in the Temple. The place which might not be a mart was allowed to be an hospital. So the Glory days of Christ are always notable for the great cures that He works–the sons of men receive lasting benefits and are relieved of grievous maladies. Eyes are opened! Understandings are enlightened! Infirmities are removed, the lame walk! Wills are subdued! Hearts are cleansed and natures are changed! Where Jesus comes, salvation follows with all the train of blessings which it includes.
And, then, we find that that day His foes were all confounded. They came to meet Him with their questions, but He soon answered them, and what did they say, the one to the other? “Perceive you how we prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after Him.” O Master, give us to see such times as these! Our souls now long for them! Cause our enemies to lament, and say, “We thought we had put down these old doctrines, but we have prevailed nothing! Behold the multitude is moved by them.”
The devil thought in England, years ago, that the Gospel light was put out! He had lulled the Church of England and Dissenters, too, into a deep sleep and Arianism and all sorts of errors had spread all over the land. But the Lord touched the heart of Whitefield and Wesley, and the godly ones. The Spirit of God came down–the multitude heard the Gospel gladly! And many an enemy of Christ, as he stood at his window and saw the streets thronged to hear those men as they never had been thronged before–as they heard the song borne on the distant breezes of the wide open spaces outside the towns and villages, said, “Why, after all, we have not put this thing down, though we fancied we had destroyed it!”
There is hope of this celestial tree–if it is cut down it will sprout again! At the scent of water it will bud. This child is not dead, but sleeps! A certain vainglorious party of Pretenders to intellect and culture tell us now that the old Puritan faith is nearly extinct. They say there are only a few of us ignorant people who now hold the same truths as John Owen, John Bunyan, Goodwin and Charnock. They say only the elite of the world, those who have all the “sweetness and light” to themselves–the thinkers, the mental gentility–have all been sensible enough to give their votes for something more suitable to the times. In the name of God we shall yet show them the difference! And by His Spirit He will din their ears with the Gospel ram’s horn till they and their Jericho come down in a common ruin!
The evangelical doctrine which shook Europe will shake it yet again! And England shall yet know that the same Truths of God for which her martyrs died and for which her Puritans fought on many a well-contested field, shall yet break in pieces the rationalism and ritualism–and all else that stands in the way of the true Gospel of the living God of this land! We are not afraid nor discouraged, but we cry mightily unto the King that we may once more lift up a shout because of His Presence–for then human philosophy shall be ashamed, and old Rome shall know, and all the cubs of the beast of Rome shall know–that the Lord lives and His invincible Truth shall win the day!
IV. Now lastly, I said that even on the occasion when Christ came into Jerusalem, ALL WAS NOT GOLD THAT GLITTERED, and so we must not expect it to be in any revival of religion. They said, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” till the heavens rang again, but there was an undercurrent–there were Pharisees and men of other classes with them, raging and snarling–trying then and there to devise a plan by which to destroy the Lord. And there was Judas at that very time plotting, planning–ready to sell his Master.
However, what did that signify? The worst thing of all was this–that those same tongues which were that day crying, “Hosanna!”–oh shame on our humanity that we should have to mention it!–those same tongues which cried “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,” within that same week said, “crucify Him! Crucify Him!” I say not all, but some. It was the mob of Jerusalem that brought Him in as their King, but when they found that He would not assume the throne and that He spoke of a spiritual kingdom, and not an earthly one–then they were instant with loud voices, saying, “Let Him be crucified! Let Him be crucified!”
Expect not, therefore, when many hearts are impressed with the Gospel, that all will be steadfast towards Christ. Do not reckon that every pious feeling will end in genuine conversion. The florist does not expect all his slips to become shrubs. Look at the trees, which, in a few short days will be smothered with blossoms and glorious with beauty–do you expect those blossoms all to become fruit? No gardener thinks that such a thing can be! He understands that full many of those flowers will wither, will be blown off in the March gales, or smitten by the evening’s frost. He looks for fruit proportionate to the blossoming, but not to a fruit that shall be equal to the full promise of the bloom.
And so, think not ill of Christ’s great days because they seem, to inexperienced eyes, greater on the surface than they are. Thank God there is a residue of reality–be thankful for that. But do not be disappointed, much less scoff, because it is not all that you had hoped it was. If some are saved we are glad. If I had a thousand professed converts, and only a hundred of them turned out to be genuine, I would be more grateful than if all my converts were genuine, and there was only half a dozen of them. Large dealers look for some losses and bad debts, and yet hope to gain much in the long run. So long as I do but get the number of real converts, I will forget, and my heart shall outlive the disappointment of having expected more. Go on, Brothers and Sisters, go on praying, hoping, working–for the Lord will bless His people! The Lord will bless His people with peace. Amen and amen!