David’s Dying Prayer
“Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
THERE was a time when this prayer would have been unnecessary. A period, in fact, when it could not have been offered, seeing the thing to be asked for was already in being. A time there was when the word rebellion had not been uttered against the great magistracy of Heaven. There was a day when the slime of sin had never been left by the trail of the serpent, for no serpent then existed and no evil spirit. There was an hour, never to be forgotten, when the seraph might have flapped his wings forever and never have found anything of discord, or anything of rebellion or of anarchy throughout God’s universe.
There was a day when the mighty angels assembled in the halls of the Most High and without exception did reverence to their liege Lord and paid Him homage due. When the vast creation revolved around its center, the great metropolis–the Throne of God–and paid its daily and hourly homage unto Him. When the harmonies of creation always came to one spot and found their focus near the Throne of God. There was a time when every star was bright. When all space was filled with loveliness, when holiness, purity and happiness were like a robe which mantled the entire creation. This world itself was once fair and lovely–so fair and lovely that we who live in these erring times can scarcely guess its beauty.
It was the house of song and the dwelling place of praise. If it had no pre-eminence among its sister spheres–certainly it was inferior to none of them. Surrounded with beauty, girt with gladness and having in it holy and heavenly inhabitants, it was a house to which the angels themselves loved to resort. Where the holy spirits, the morning stars, delighted to sing together over this beautiful and fair earth of ours. But now how changed! How different! Now it is our duty devoutly to bend our knees and pray that the whole earth may yet be filled with His glory.
In one sense this prayer is still unnecessary, for in a certain sense the whole earth is filled with God’s glory. “All your works praise You, O God,” is as true now as it was in Paradise. The stars still sing their Maker’s praise–no sin has stopped their voice, no discord has made a jarring note among the harmonies of the spheres. The earth itself still praises its Maker. The exhalations, as they arise with morn, are still a pure offering, acceptable to their Maker. The lowing of the cattle, the singing of the birds, the leaping of the fishes and the delights of animal creations are still acceptable as votive offerings to the Moat High.
The mountains still bring righteousness. On their hoary summits God’s holy feet might tread, for they are yet pure and spotless. Still do the green valleys, laughing with their verdure send up their shouts to the Most High. The praise of God is sung by every wind. It is howled forth in dread majesty by the voice of the tempest, the winds resound it and the waves, with their thousand hands, clap, keeping chorus in the great march of God. The whole earth is still a great orchestra for God’s praise and His creatures still take up various parts in the eternal song, which, ever swelling and ever increasing, shall by-and-by mount to its climax in the consummation of all things. In that sense, therefore, the prayer is still inappropriate. God, who fills all in all and fills earth and Heaven needs not to have more glory, as to the essence of His glory. For still He is glorified in the whole earth.
But David intended this prayer in another sense. “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” Not as Creator but as a moral Governor and Ruler. It is as Governor that we have revolted from God and done dishonor to Him. It is as our Master, our Ruler, our Judge, that we have done despite to His glory and have trampled on His crown. It is, therefore, in this respect that David wished that the whole earth might be filled with God’s glory. He desired that every idol temple might be cast down–that the name of Jehovah might be sung by every lip. That He in His Person might be loved by every heart and be forever adored as “God over all blessed forever.”
A foolish wish, you say, for it never can be accomplished. Surely the day will never come when hoary systems of superstition shall die. What? Shall colossal systems of infidelity and of idolatry totter to their fall? They have resisted the battering ram for many a year. And yet shall they pass away and shall God’s kingdom come and His will be done on earth, even as it is in Heaven? No, it is no day dream of a boy, it is no wish of the enthusiast. Mark who uttered that prayer and where he was when he uttered it. It was the prayer of a dying king. It was the prayer of a holy man of God whose eyes were just then lighted up with brightness in view of the celestial city, as he stood on the mighty Pisgah, “and viewed the landscape over.”
It was the prayer of the dying Psalmist, when on the margin of his life he surveyed the ocean–the prayer of a mighty king when he saw the scroll of prophecy unfolded before him for the last time and was about to be ushered into the presence of his Maker. He uttered this as his last best wish and desire. And when he had uttered it he sank back in his bed and said, “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” It was his last prayer–“Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
First, this morning, I shall try to explain the prayer. Then I shall labor as God shall enable me to inflame the hearts of all Christian men to desire the object of this prayer. Then I will offer a word or two of counsel as to the pursuit of the object here spoken of. And I will conclude by noticing the promise to buoy our hopes up. By-and-by “the earth shall be filled with His glory.”
- First, then, let me EXPLAIN THE PRAYER. It is a large prayer–a massive one. A prayer for a city needs a stretch of faith. Yes, there are times when a prayer for one man is enough to stagger our belief. For we can scarcely think that God will hear us for even that one. But how great this prayer is, how comprehensive! “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” It does not exempt one single country, however trod under the foot of superstition. It does not leave out one single nation, however abandoned. For the cannibal as well as for the civilized, for the man that grasps the tomahawk as well as for the man who bends his knee in supplication–this prayer is uttered, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
Let me just very briefly note what I believe the Psalmist meant. He desired that the true religion of God might be sent into every country. Looking from that point of view, as we utter this prayer, what a multitude of thoughts rush into our minds! Lo, yonder we see the hoary systems of ancient superstition. We behold multitudes bowing down before Buddha and Brahma and paying their adorations to idols that are not gods–we pray for them–that they may cease to be idolaters and that God’s name may be known among them. Yonder we see the crescent, gleaming with a pale and sickly light and we pray that the followers of Mohammed may bow themselves before the Cross, renounce the scimitar and return to Him that loved them, casting away all the uncleanness and filthiness of their former religion.
We see yonder the scarlet woman on the seven hills and we include her in our prayer. We pray that God may cast down Rome. That He may overturn her deep, Hell-rooted foundations and may cause her tyranny over the nations to cease. That she may no more be drunk with the blood of the slain and no more with her idolatries and witchcrafts lead the nations astray. We include her in our supplications. We look on nations that are almost too debased lo be included in the roll of mankind. We see the Hottentots in his kraal, the Bushman and the Bechuana and we put up our prayer for these–“Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
Let Africa’s center, once thought to be barren but now discovered to be glorious in fertility become fertile also in works of grace. Let the regions from where our black Brethren have been driven to slavery become the homes of blessedness and the regions of God’s praise. We cast our eye to other regions where the scalp is still at the Indian’s girdle, where still they wash their hands in blood and delight themselves in murder. We look to that huge empire of China and we see the myriads still lost in infidelity and a partial idolatry which is consuming them and destroying them and we pray, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
Yes, it is a great prayer but we mean it. We are praying against Juggernaut and against Buddha and against every form and fashion of false religion. We are crying against anti-Christ and we are praying that the day may come when every temple shall be dismantled, when every shrine shall be left poor as poverty and when there shall be no temple but the temple of the Lord God of Hosts and no song shall be sung but the song of Hallelujah. Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. But we mean more than this. We ask not merely the nominal Christianity of any country but the conversion of every family in every country. “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
Is that wish too great, too high? Are we too sanguine in our expectations? No. “The knowledge of the Lord” is to “cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea” and that is entirely. We do not wish to see dry places here and there, but as the deep foundations of the depths are covered with the sea, so we wish that every nation may be covered with God’s Truth. And so we pray that every family may receive it. Yes, we pray that every household may have its morning and its evening prayer. We pray that every family may be brought up in the fear of the Lord, that every child may, on its mother’s knee, say, “Our Father,” and that the answer may come to the infant’s prayer, “Your kingdom come.”
Yes, we ask of God that every house may be like the tents of Judah, consecrated to God. We ask that even the kraal of the Hottentot may become a synagogue for God’s praise. Our desire is that man may become so holy that every meal may become an Eucharist and every cup a chalice and every garment a priestly vestment and that all their labors may be consecrated to the Lord. We are bound to expect it, for it is said, “Even the bells upon the horses shall be holiness to the Lord and even the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.”
But we go further than that. We do not ask merely for household conversion but for the individual salvation of every being existing. “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” Should there be one heart that does not beat in God’s praise, or one lip that is dumb in the melody of thanksgiving, then there would be yet a spot left which would not be filled with God’s praise and that one left unconverted would blot and blur the whole great work of filling the earth with God’s glory. A missionary once said and said truly that if all the people in the world were converted except one man in Siberia, it would be worth while for all the Christians in England to make a pilgrimage to Siberia, if that man’s salvation could not be accomplished in any other way. And so it would.
The salvation of one soul is unutterably precious and when we offer this prayer we exclude none. We pray that the atheist, the blasphemer, the hardened rebel, the profligate may each be filled with God’s glory. And then we ask for mercy for the whole earth. We leave not out so much as one but so hope and expect the day when all mankind shall bow at the Savior’s feet. When every hand shall bring tribute, every lip a song and every eye shall speak its gladness and its praise. This I believe to be the Psalmist’s prayer–that every man might be converted and that, in fact, in every heart and conscience God might reign without a rival, Lord paramount over the great wide world.
II. Well, now, I am going, in the second place, to try to STIR YOU UP, my Brethren, to desire this great, this wonderful thing for which David prayed. Oh, for the rough and burning eloquence of the hermit of old, who stirred the nations of Europe to battle for the Cross! I would to God this morning I could speak as he did when the multitude were gathered together. Or, like that bishop of the Church who followed him who addressed the mighty multitudes with such burning words of fiery eloquence that at last they heaved to and fro with waves of excitement and every man, starting to his feet and grasping his sword cried, “Deus vult,” “the Lord wills it” and rushed forward to battle and to victory.
In a higher and holier sense I preach the crusade today, not as a hermit but as God’s preacher. I come forth to stir you up, men and Brethren, to desire and seek after this great and highest wish of the faithful–that the whole earth might be filled with His glory. And how shall I stir you up except by leading you to one or two contemplations?
First, I beseech you, contemplate the majesty of God. Or rather, since I am unable to help you to do that just now, let me remind you of seasons when you have in some measure grasped the thought of His divinity. Have you ever at night gazed upon the starry orbs with the thought that God was the Maker of them all until your soul was steeped in reverent adoration? And have you then bowed your head with wonder and with praise and said, “Great God! How infinite You are”? Have you ever, in looking upon God’s pure earth, when you have seen the mountains and the clouds and the rivers and the floods, said–
“These are Your glorious works, Parent of good,
Almighty! Yours this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair–Yourself how wondrous then?”
Oh, methinks you must have had some glowing bursts of devotion, somewhat like that burst of Coleridge in his hymn from the valley of Chamounix or like that of Thompson, when he leads the Seasons out to sing God’s praise! Or like that matchless burst of Milton, when he extolled God making Adam in the garden praise his Maker. Yes, there have been moments when we could bow before God, when we felt our own nothingness and knew that He was All-in-All. Ah, if you can get such thoughts as these, my Friends, this morning, I know that the next thought akin to this will be–“Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
You cannot bow before God yourself and adore Him without wishing that all the rest of mankind should do the same. Ah and the thought has gone further. You have wished that even inanimate objects might praise Him. Oh, you mountains, let the shaggy woods upon your crowns wave in adoration! You that with bald heads lift up yourselves loftier than those minor hills let the clouds that gird you serve like wings of cherubim to veil your faces. But oh, adore Him, adore Him, for He is worthy of all adoration! Let Him ever be extolled.
You cannot, I repeat, have great thoughts of God yourselves without spontaneously rising up and saying, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” But, my Brethren, turn your eyes yonder. What do you see there? You see the Son of God stepping from the place of His glory, casting aside the garments of His majesty and robing Himself in garments of clay. Do you see Him yonder? He is nailed to a Cross. Oh, can you behold it, as His head hangs meekly on His breast? Can you catch the accents of His lips when He says, “Father, forgive them”?
Do you see Him with the thorn-crown still about His brow, with bleeding head and hands and feet? And does not your soul burst with adoration when you see Him giving Himself for your sins? What? Can you look upon this miracle of miracles, the death of the Son of God, without feeling reverence stirred within your bosom? A marvelous adoration that language never can express? No, I am sure you cannot. You see your Savior–you close your eyes that are already filled with tears and as you bend your head upon the mount of Calvary I hear you say, “Jesus, have mercy upon me.”
And when you feel the blood applied to your conscience and know that He has blotted out your sins you are not a man unless you start from your knees and cry, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory, Amen and Amen.” What? Did He bend His awful head down to the shades of death? What? Did He hang upon the Cross and bleed and shall not earth praise Him? O you dumb, surely this might loose your tongues. O you silent ones, you might begin to speak. And if you do not, surely the very stones will speak and the rocks that rent once at His death will rend again and open a wide mouth to let their hallelujahs ascend to Heaven.
Ah, the Cross makes us praise Him. Lovers of Jesus, can you love Him without desiring that His kingdom may come? What? Can you bow before Him and yet not wish to see your Monarch master of the world? Out with you, men, if you can pretend to love your Master and yet not desire to see Him the conqueror. I give you not a joy for your piety unless it leads you to wish that the same mercy which has been extended to you might reach to others and unless it prompts you to pray this prayer, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory, Amen and Amen.”
But gaze a moment longer. The Man that died for sinners sleeps within a grave. A little while He sleeps until the angel rolls away the stone and gives Him liberty. Do you behold Him, as He wakes up from His slumber and radiant with majesty and glorious with light frightens His guard and stands a risen Man? Do you see Him as He climbs to Heaven, as He ascends to the Paradise of God, sitting at the right hand of His Father till His enemies are made His footstool? Do you see Him as principalities and powers bow before Him, as cherubim and seraphim cast their crowns at His feet? Do you hear Him? Do you hear Him intercede and do you hear also the music of the glorified spirits ever chanting perpetual praises before His Throne? And do you not wish that we might–
“Prepare new honors for His name,
And songs before unknown?”
Oh, it is impossible to see the glorified Christ with the eye of faith, without exclaiming afterwards, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
But now one other thought. Common humanity urges us to pray this prayer. Did you ever walk through a village full of drunkenness and profanity? Did you ever see at every ale-house poor wretched bloated carcasses that once were men standing or rather leaning against the posts staggering with drunkenness? Have you ever looked into the houses of the people and beheld them as dens of iniquity at which your soul did turn aghast? Have you ever walked through that village and seen the poverty and degradation and misery of the inhabitants and sighed over it? Yes, you have.
But was it ever your privilege to walk through that village in after years, when the Gospel has been preached there? It has been mine. Once it was my delight to labor in a village where sin and iniquity had once been rampant and I can say with joy and happiness that almost from one end of the village to the other, at the hour of eventide, you would have heard the voice of song coming from every roof-top, echoing from every heart. Oh, what a pleasant thing to walk through the village when drunkenness has almost ceased, when debauchery is dead and when men and women go forth to labor with joyful hearts, singing as they go the praises of the ever-living God and when at sunset the humble cottager calls his children together and reads them some portion from the Book of Truth and then together they bend their knees–oh, happy, happy households!
Yes, we have seen some such places and when our hearts have been gladdened by the sight, we have said, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” It has been our delight sometimes to tabernacle among the lowly for a little season. We have had our seat given us in the chimney corner for awhile and by-and-by as the time to retire drew near, the good man of the house has said to the Prophet’s servant, “Now, Sir, will you read for us tonight, as you are here?” And we have noticed the faces of the little group around us, as we have read some portion like this–“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”
And then we have said, “No, we will not pray tonight, you must be priest in your own house and pray yourself.” And then the good man has prayed for his children and when we have seen them rise up and kiss their parent for the night we have thought, “Well, if this is the kind of family that religion makes, let the whole earth be filled with His glory. For the blessedness and for the happiness of man, let God’s kingdom come and let His will be done.” Contrast that, my Brethren, with the murderous rites of the Hindu. Contrast it with the savagery and barbarism of heathen lands. If I could bring some barbarian to stand before you this morning, he might himself be a better preacher than I can be.
With his almost unintelligible utterances and clicks he would begin to tell you the few ideas he had, which ideas began and ended with himself and with the miserable prey on which he lived. You would say, “What? There is such a miserable race as this?” Let us at once kneel down and utter this prayer and then rise up and labor to fulfill it–“Let the whole earth be filled with His glory.” I feel that I cannot stir you this morning as I wished. (If I were a Welshman I think I could move your hearts–they have such a knack of waking persons up by what they say). Oh, my soul longs for that day, it sighs for that blessed period. Would God that all sighed and longed for it, too and were prepared to work and labor, watch and pray, until we should indeed sing with truth–
“Hallelujah! Christ the Lord
God Omnipotent shall reign;
Hallelujah! Christ in God,
God in Christ is All in All.”
May such a day come, as it certainly will!
III. And now I am to give you A FEW COUNSELS IN THE PURSUIT OF THIS OBJECT.
First, you cannot pray this prayer unless you seek in your own life to remove every impediment to the spread of Christ’s kingdom. You cannot pray it, Sir, you cannot say, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen”–you who cursed God yesterday. How can the same lip that cursed God say, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen”? You cannot say it, Sir–you who break His Commandments and violate His laws and run riot against His government. If you said it you would be a vile hypocrite. Is there anything in our character and conduct which has a tendency to prevent the spread of the Gospel?
Oh, we say it with pain! There are many members of the Churches everywhere whose characters are such that if they remain what they are, Christ’s Gospel never can fill the whole earth for it cannot fill their hearts. You know the men. They call themselves God’s dear people and they would be dear if they were given away–certainly nobody would buy them at the lowest price in the world. They say that they are His precious ones and they must be very precious, or else He never would have any thoughts of mercy towards such a set as they are. And they will sometimes say, “Ah, we are the Lord’s elect,” and they live in sin.
They say there are very few of their sort and we reply, “What a mercy!” If there were we should need many of our public buildings to be turned at once into jails to lock up such people. No, we do not believe in the characters of men who make a profession of religion and yet do not live up to it. Do not tell us about such profession–just be quiet altogether. Do not call yourselves religious and yet act as others do. I prefer a man that is a right down blustering sinner when he is at it. Do not let him go into sin and then mask and cover it all up. There is no use in it. The man is not honest. I think there is some hope of a man who is a down-right thoroughbred sinner, that goes at it and is not ashamed of it.
But a rascally, canting hypocrite that comes crawling into our Church and yet lives in sin all the while–such a fruit of their own ways. He lets them find out, after all, that hypocrisy is a sure road to Hell and never can lead to Heaven. We must look well to ourselves, by God’s Spirit, or else we must not pray this prayer–“Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
And there is my friend, Mr. Save-all. I am sure he cannot pray this prayer, at least I think I hear him in his soul say, “O Lord, let the whole earth be filled with Your glory.” A contribution is requested to assist the cause in so doing. Oh, no not at all. Like the old Negro woman we have all heard of, who sang, “Fly abroad, you mighty Gospel,” and put her eye up in such a devout frame, that her brother Negro who was passing the plate that day could not get her to pay any attention to him, till he jogged her elbow and said, “Yes, Sissy, it is well enough to sing, ‘Fly abroad, you mighty Gospel’ if you would give it wings–then it might but you are just singing this and doing nothing at all.”
Now, what is the good of a man singing, “Fly abroad, you mighty Gospel,” and praying this prayer, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory” if he has got six thousand a year coming in for doing nothing at all? It is no use for a man to put on a pair of lawn sleeves and say, “Oh, it is my devout desire that the whole earth may be filled with His glory” and then leave the world to stare at him and consider what good he is. It is no use for a man simply to have a curacy or something of that sort, buy his manuscripts cheap, come up and read off two sermons twenty minutes long, go home with a good conscience that he has done duty twice and then say, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory.”
Why, my Friends, there is no chance of it if that is the way it is to be done–not the slightest in the world. To cry, “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory,” and then stand still and do nothing at all. Or merely do some nominal well-paid work and feel it is all over. We want something in the ministry a little different before even ministers can pray this prayer in sincerity. I am not finding fault with any of my Brethren but I would recommend them to preach thirteen times a week and then they can pray this prayer a little better. Three times a week would not do for me. It would hurt my constitution–preaching thirteen times a week is good healthy exercise.
But you shut yourself up in your study, or what is ten times worse, you do nothing at all but just take it easy all the week till the Sunday comes and then borrow a sermon out of an old magazine, or buy one of the helps for ministers, or take down one of Charles Simeon’s skeletons and preach it. My good man, you cannot pray in that fashion. The poorest Sunday-School teacher has a better right to pray that prayer than you have. You go to a fire that is raging vehemently and say, “Oh, let it be put out!” and stand with your hands in your pockets while a little boy that is standing there and passing the bucket may pray that prayer sincerely, but you cannot.
No, my Brethren, you must be up and doing for your Master, or else you cannot pray this prayer. You say, “I am doing my duty.” But my Friend, that is not much use, you must do a little more than that. Doing your duty, as you think, is often doing but a very small part of your duty. What is a man’s duty? “Why, as much as he is paid for, Sir.” Oh, no, I think not. A man’s duty is to do whatsoever his hand finds to do with all his might. And until he does that he cannot with any sincerity offer this prayer, “Let the whole world be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.”
Ah, there are some here that I could mention, who by their unparalleled philanthropy, by their unique and unrivalled love of their fellow creatures have done much to fill the earth with God’s glory. For they have let the world see what Christian men and Christian women are able to do when God’s love has touched their hearts. There are to be found some who by devoting themselves to the service of their Master and spending and being spent for Him, have done much to heighten the opinion of the world towards Christianity and make them think better of the Christian Church than they would have done if it had not been for these few rare, mighty heroes in the midst of us. “Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” But it cannot be, speaking after the manner of men, unless we each of us labor and endeavor as God shall help us, to extend the kingdom of our Master.
And now, my Friends, have I been urging you to an impossible toil? Have I been telling Christian men to pray for that which never can be granted? Ah, no, blessed be God! We are taught to pray for nothing but that which God has been pleased to give. He has told us to pray that His kingdom may come and His kingdom will come and come most assuredly, too. Hark! Hark! Hark! I hear mustering for the battle. Yonder in the dim distance I see the armies gathering. Yes, I can dimly see their ensign and behold the flag that waves before them! Who are these that come? Who are these?
These are nobler and better men than we! These are warriors of Christ, as yet, perhaps, unborn. These are the mighty men, the rear-guard. These are the imperial guard of Heaven who have been fighting long. The enemy has sometimes fled but so far we have achieved but little. The phalanx of the foe stands still fast and firm and we have blunted our blades against the shields of the mighty. As yet the victory is not complete. The Master stands on the hill with His reserve. Lo! I see them–they are coming, they are coming. Some of us shall live to see them–men whose tongues are made of fire, whose hearts are full of flame, who speak like angels and preach like cherubim!
The men are coming and happy shall the man be that marks the triumph! Each tramp of theirs shall be the tramp of victory, each blast of theirs shall level walls of spiritual Jerichos, each blow of their horn shall clear an acre of valiant foes. Each stroke from their sword shall cleave a dragon and every blow from their arm shall be mighty to overturn thrones and scepters and kings! They come, they come. And till they come what shall we do?–Why fight on and hold our posts.
Let us be cheered with the thought that victory is certain. The hour comes when this mighty band of heroes shall sweep the earth with the banner of victory. And when in years to come you and I shall look upon the plain of battle, we shall see there an idol broken, there a colossal system of wickedness dashed in pieces, there a false prophet slain, there a deluder cast away. Oh, glorious shall be that day when victory shall be complete! When the horse and the rider shall be overthrown. When the battle that is without blood and without smoke, without rolling of garments of warriors, shall be completed by the shout of victory through Him that has loved us.
Beloved, we will wait awhile. We will still continue on this side with our Master. For though we are fighters now, we shall be winners by-and-by. Yes, Man, Woman, you who are unknown, unnoted but are striving for your Master by prayer and praise and labor–the day is coming when every one of you shall have a crown of victory! The hour is coming when your heart shall beat high for you shall share the conquest. Those men who are coming, without whom we cannot be made perfect, shall not have all the honor. We who have borne the brunt of the fight shall have a share of the glory. The victors shall divide the spoil and we shall divide the spoil with them.
You, tried, afflicted, forgotten and unknown–you shall soon have the palm-branch in your hand and you shall ride in triumph through the streets of earth and Heaven when your Master shall make a show of principalities and powers openly, in the day of His victory! Only still continue, only wrestle on and you shall be crowned.
But I have got one word to say and then, Amen. You know in Roman warfare there were special rewards given for special works. There was the mural crown for the man that first scaled the rampart and stood upon the wall. I am looking on this great congregation with a thought in my mind which agitates my spirit. Young men! Young men! Is there not one among you that can win a mural crown? Have I not one true Christian heart here that is set for work and labor? Have not I one man that will devote himself to God and His Truth? Henry Martyn! You are dead. And is your mantle buried with you? Brainerd, you sleep with your fathers. And is your spirit dead, too and shall there never be another Brainerd?
Knibb, you have ascended to your God. And is there nowhere another Knibb? Williams, your martyred blood still cries from the ground. And is there nowhere another Williams? What? Not among this dense mass of young and burning spirits? Is there not one that can say in his heart, “Here am I, send me”? “Lo, this hour, by God’s grace being saved, I give myself up to Him, to go wherever He shall please to send me, to testify His Gospel in foreign lands”? What? Are there no Pauls now? Have we none who will be Apostles for the Lord of Hosts?
I think I see one who, putting his lips together, makes this silent resolve–“By God’s grace I this day devote myself to Him. Through trouble and through trial I will be His, if He will help me. For missionary work or for anything else I give up my all to God and if I may die as Williams did and wear the blood-red crown of martyrdom, I will be proud. And if I may live to serve my Master, like a Brainerd and die at last, worn out, here I am. Do but have me, Master, give me the honor of leading the forlorn. The hope of leading the vanguard of Christianity. Here I am–send me.”
O Lord, accept that young man! Lo, I consecrate him this day in Your name for that service. These outstretched hands this morning give a benediction to you, young hero of the Cross! Your Brother’s heart beats with you–go and go to victory! And if it must be mine to stay here to labor in a more easy and pleasant part of the vineyard, which I dare not leave, still I will envy you–that you have the honor of going to far distant lands. And I will pray for you, that your success may be great and that through you the kingdoms of this world may be brought to Christ and the knowledge of the Lord cover the earth.
But we will all pray this prayer in our houses alone–“Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.” You that are enemies to God, beware, beware, beware! It will be a hard thing to be found on the side of the enemy in the great battle of right.