Charles Luster (Charles441) Offline

73 Divorced Male from Erlanger       101


O well

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth"-Mt 8:11-12. THIS is a land where plain speaking is allowed, and where the people are willing to afford a fair hearing to any one who can tell them that which is worth their attention. To-night I am quite certain of an attentive audience, for I know you too well to suppose otherwise. This field, as you are all aware, is private property. And I would just give a suggestion to those who go out in the open air to preach-that it is far better to get into a field or a plot of unoccupied building ground, than to block up the roads and stop business; it is moreover far better to be somewhere under protection, so that we can at once prevent disturbance. To-night, I shall, I hope, encourage you to seek the road to heaven. I shall also have to utter some very sharp things concerning the end of the lost in the pit of hell. Upon both these subjects I will try and speak, as God helps me. But I beseech you, as you love your souls, weigh right and wrong this night; see whether what I say be the truth of God. If it be not, reject it utterly, and cast it away; but if it is, at your peril disregard it; for as you shall answer before God, the great Judge of heaven and earth, it will go ill with you if the words of his servant and of his Scripture be despised. My text has two parts. The first is very agreeable to my mind, and gives me pleasure, the second is terrible in the extreme; but since they are both the truth, they must be preached. The first part of my text is, "I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." The sentence which I call the black, dark, and threatening part is this: "But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" I. Let us take the first part. Here is a MOST GLORIOUS PROMISE. I will read it again-"Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." I like that text, because it tells me what heaven is, and gives me a beautiful picture of it. It says, it is a place where I shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. O what a sweet thought that is for the working-man. He often wipes the hot sweat from his face, and he wonders whether there is a land where he shall have to toil no longer. He scarcely ever eats a mouthful of bread that is not moistened with the sweat of his brow. Often he comes home weary, and flings himself upon his couch, perhaps too tired to sleep. He says, "Oh! is there no land where I can rest? Is there no place where I can sit, and for once let these weary limbs be still? Is there no land where I can be quiet?" Yes, thou son of toil and labor, "There is a happy land Far, far, away,"- where toil and labor are unknown. Beyond yon blue welkin there a city fair and bright, its walls are jasper, and its light is brighter than the sun. There "the weary are at rest, and the wicked cease from troubling." Immortal spirits are yonder, who never wipe sweat from their brow, for "they sow not, neither do they reap;" they have not to toil and labor. "There on a green and flow'ry mount Their wearied souls shall sit: And with transporting joys recount The labors of their feet." To my mind, one of the best views of heaven is that it is a land of rest- especially to the working-man. Those who have not to work hard, think they will love heaven as a place of service. That is very true. But to the working-man, to the man who toils with his brain or with his hands, it must ever be a sweet thought that there is a land where we shall rest. Soon this voice will never be strained again: soon these lungs will never have to exert themselves beyond their power; soon, this brain shall not be racked for thought; but I shall sit at the banquet-table of God, yea, I shall recline on the bosom of Abraham, and be at ease for ever. Oh! weary sons and daughters of Adam, you will not have to drive the ploughshare into the unthankful soil in heaven, you will not need to rise to daily toils before the sun has risen, and labor still when the sun hath long ago gone to his rest; but ye shall be still, ye shall be quiet, ye shall rest yourselves, for all are rich in heaven, all are happy there, all are peaceful. Toil, trouble, travail, and labor, are words that cannot be spelled in heaven; they have no such things there, for they always rest. And mark the good company they sit with. They are to "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." Some people think that in heaven we shall know nobody. But our text declares here, that we "shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." Then I am sure that we shall be aware that they are Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob. I have heard of a good woman, who asked her husband, when she was dying, "My dear, do you think you will know me when you and I get to heaven?" "Shall I know you?" he said, "why, I have always known you while I have been here, and do you think I shall a greater fool when I get to heaven?" I think it was a very good answer. If we have known one another here, we shall know one another there. I have dear departed friends up there, and it is always a sweet thought to me, that when I shall put my foot, as I hope I may, Upon the threshold of heaven, there will come my sisters and brothers to clasp me by the hand, and say, "Yes, thou lovedst one, and thou art here." Dear relatives that have been separated, you will meet again in heaven. One of you have lost a mother-she is gone above; and if you follow the track of Jesus, you shall meet her there. Methinks I see yet another coming to meet you at the door of paradise, and though the ties of natural affection may be in a measure forgotten-I may be allowed to use a figure-how blessed would she be as she turned to God, and said, "Here am I and the children that thou hast given me "We shall recognize our friends:-husband, you will know your wife again. Mother, you will know those dear babes of yours- you marked their features when they lay panting and gasping for breath. You know how ye hung over their graves when the cold sod was sprinkled over them, and it was said, 'earth to earth, dust to dust, and ashes to ashes.' But ye shall hear those loved voices again; ye shall hear those sweet voices once more, ye shall yet know that those whom ye loved have been loved by God. Would not that be a dreary heaven for us to inhabit, where we should be alike unknowing and unknown? I would not care to go to such a heaven as that. I believe that heaven is a fellowship of the saints, and that we shall know one another there. I have often thought I should love to see Isaiah; and, as soon as I get to heaven, methinks, I would ask for him, because he spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest. I am sure I should want to find out George Whitfield-he who so continually preached to the people, and wore himself out with a more than seraphic zeal. O yes! we shall have choice company in heaven when we get there. There will be no distinction of learned and unlearned, clergy and laity, but we shall walk freely one among another; we shall feel that we are brethren; we shall -"sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." I have heard of a lady who was visited by a minister on her deathbed, and she said to him, "I want to ask you one question, now I am about to die." "Well," said the minister, "what is it?"; Oh!" said she, in a very affected way "I want to know if there are two places in heaven, because I could not bear that Betsy in the kitchen should be in heaven along with me, she is so unrefined?" The minister turned round and said, "O, don't trouble yourself about that, madam. There is no fear of that, for until you get rid of your accursed pride, you will never enter heaven at all." We must all get rid of our pride. We must come down and stand on an equality in the sight of God, and see in every man a brother, before we can hope to be found in glory. Ay, we bless God, we thank him that will set down no separate table for one and for another. The Jew and the Gentile will sit down together. The great and the small shall feed in the same pasture, and we shall "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." But my text hath a yet greater depth of sweetness, for it says, that "many shall come and shall sit down." Some narrow-minded bigots think that heaven will be a very small place, where there will be a very few people, who went to their chapel or their church. I confess, I have no wish for a very small heaven, and love to read in the Scriptures that there are many mansions in my Father's house. How often do I hear people say, "Ah! strait is the gate and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it. There will be very few in heaven; there will be most lost." My friend I differ from you. Do you think that Christ will let the devil beat him? that he will let the devil have more in hell than there will be in heaven? No: it is impossible. For then Satan would laugh at Christ. There will be more in heaven than there are among the lost. God says, that "there will be a number that no man can number who will be saved;" but he never says that there will be a number that no man can number that will be lost. There will be a host beyond all count who will get into heaven. What glad tidings for you and for me! for if there are so many to be saved why should not I be saved? why should not you? why should not yon man, over there in the crowd, say, "Cannot I be one among the multitude?" And may not that poor woman there take heart, and say, "Well, if there were but half-a-dozen saved, I might fear that I should not be one; but since many are to come, why should not I also be saved?" Cheer up, disconsolate! Cheer up, son of mourning, child of sorrow, there is hope for thee still! I can never know that any man is past God's grace. There be a few that have sinned that sin that is unto death and God gives them up, but the vast host of mankind are yet within the reach of sovereign mercy-"And many of them shall come from the east, and from the west, and shall sit down in the kingdom of heaven." Look at my text again, and you will see where these people come from. They are to "come from the east and west." The Jews said that they would all come from Palestine, every one of them, every man, woman, and child; that there would not be one in heaven that was not a Jew. And the Pharisees thought that if they were not all Pharisees they could not be saved. But Jesus Christ said there will be many that will come from the east and from the west. There will be a multitude from that far off land of China, for God is doing a great work there, and we hope that the gospel will yet be victorious in that land. There will be a multitude from this western land of England; from the western country beyond the sea, in America; and from the south, in Australia; and from the north, in Canada, Siberia, and Russia. From the uttermost parts of the earth there shall come many to sit down in the kingdom of God. But I do not think this text is to be understood so much geographically as spiritually. When it says that they "shall come from the east and west," I think it does not refer to nations particularly, but to different kinds of people. Now, "the east and the west" signify those who are the very furthest off from religion; yet many of them will be saved and get to heaven. There is a class of persons who will always be looked upon as hopeless. Many a time have I heard a man or woman say of such a one, "He cannot be saved: he is too abandoned. What is he good for? Ask him to go to a place of worship-he was drunk on Saturday night. What would be the use of reasoning with him; There is no hope for him. He is a hardened fellow. See what he has done these many years. What good will it be to speak to him? Now, hear this, ye who think your fellows worse than yourselves-ye who condemn others, whereas ye are often just as guilty: Jesus Christ says "many shall come from the east and west." There will be many in heaven that were drunkards once. I believe, among that blood-bought throng, there are many who reeled in and out the tavern half their lifetime. But by the power of divine grace they were able to dash the liquor cup to the ground. They renounced the riot of intoxication-fled away from it-and served God. Yes! There will be many in heaven who were drunkards on earth. There will be many harlots: some of the most abandoned will be found there. You remember the story of Whitfield's once saying that there would be some in heaven who were "the devil's castaways;" some that the devil would hardly think good enough for him, and yet whom Christ would save. Lady Huntingdon once gently hinted that such language was not quite proper. But just at the time there happened to be heard come a ring at the bell and Whitfield went down stairs. Afterwards he came up and said, "Your ladyship, what do you think a poor woman had to say to me just now? She was a sad profligate and she said, "O, Mr. Whitfield, when you were preaching you told us that Christ would take in the devil's castaways and I am one of them," and that was the means of her salvation. Shall anybody ever check us from preaching to the lowest of the low? I have been accused of getting all the rabble of London around me. God bless the rabble! God save the rabble! then say I, But suppose they are "the rabble!" Who need the gospel more than they do? Who require to have Christ preached to them more than they do? We have lots of those who preach to ladies and gentlemen and we want some one to preach to the rabble in these degenerate days. Oh! here is comfort for me, for many of the rabble are to come from the east and from the west. Oh! what would you think if you were to see the difference between some that are in heaven and some that shall be there! there might be found one whose hair hangs across his eyes, his locks are matted, he looks horrible, his bloated eyes start from his face, he grins almost like an idiot, he has drunk away his very brain until life seems to have departed so far as sense and being are concerned; yet I would tell to you, "that man is capable of salvation"-and in a few years I might say "look up yonder;" see you that bright star? discern you that man with a crown of pure gold upon his head? do you notice that being clad in robes of sapphire and in garments of light? That is the selfsame man who sat there a poor benighted, almost idiotic being; yet sovereign grace and mercy have saved him! There are none, except those as I have said before, who have sinned the unpardonable sin, who are beyond God's mercy-fetch me out the worst, and still I would preach the gospel to them; fetch me out the vilest, still I would preach to them, because I recollect my master said, "Go ye out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled." "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." There is one more word I must notice before I have done with this sweet portion -that is the word "shall." Oh! I love God's "shalls" and "wills." There is nothing comparable to them. Let a man say "shall," what is it good for? "I will," says man, and he never performs; "I shall," says he and he breaks his promise. But it is never so with God's "shalls." If he says, "shall," it shall be, when he says, "will," it will be. Now he has said here, "many shall come." The devil says, "they shall not come "but "they shall come." Their sins say, "you can't come;" God says, you "shall come." You, yourselves, say, "we won't