Sheep Among Wolves

   (No. 1370)




   "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be you
   therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16.

   WELL may the text begin with a, "Behold," for it contains some special
   wonders such as can be seen nowhere else. First, here is a tender and
   loving Shepherd sending His sheep into the most dangerous position--"I
   send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." It is the part of a
   shepherd to protect his sheep from the wolves, not to send them into
   the very midst of those ravenous beasts! And yet, here is the Good
   Shepherd, "that Great Shepherd of the sheep," actually undertaking and
   carrying out this extraordinary experiment of conducting His sheep into
   the very midst of wolves. How strange it seems to poor carnal sense. Be
   astonished, but be not unbelieving--stand still awhile and study the

   The next remarkable thing is, "sheep in the midst of wolves," because
   according to the order of Nature, such a thing is never seen, but, on
   the other hand, it has been reckoned a great calamity that in some
   lands wolves are too often seen in the midst of sheep! The wolf leaps
   into the midst of a flock and rips and tears on every side--it matters
   not how many the sheep may be--for one wolf is more than a match for a
   thousand sheep. But lo, here you see sheep sent forth among the wolves,
   as if they were the attacking party and were bent upon putting down
   their terrible enemies! It is a novel sight, such as Nature can never
   show, but Grace is fall of marvels!

   Equally extraordinary is the singular mixture, never yet seen by human
   eyes among beasts and birds--a mixture of the serpent with the dove in
   one person! What a strange blending! Creatures which are capable of
   cross-breeding must have some sort of kinship. But here is a reptile of
   the dust united with a bird of the air--"Be you therefore wise as
   serpents, and harmless as doves." Grace knows how to pick the good out
   of the evil, the jewel out of the oyster shell, the diamond from the
   dunghill, the wisdom from the serpent--and by a Divine chemistry it
   leaves the good which it takes out of the foul place as good as though
   it had never been there.

   Grace knows how to blend the most gentle with the most subtle, to take
   away from prudence the base element which makes it into cunning and, by
   mingling innocence with it, produce a sacred prudence most valuable for
   all walks of life. With these three wonders outside the text, lying, as
   it were, upon the very surface, we shall enter into a fuller
   consideration of it with great expectations. But if we do so, we shall
   be disappointed if we expect to learn anything very extraordinary
   unless we are prepared to practice what we learn! I may truly say of
   this text, he that does its bidding shall understand its doctrine. He
   who follows its precept shall best know its meaning. May the Spirit of
   all Grace work in us according to His Divine power and perfect in us
   the will of the Lord.

   Though primarily addressed to the Apostles, it seems to me that our
   text relates, in its measure, to all who have any talent or ability for
   spreading the Gospel and, indeed, to all the saints so far as they are
   true to their calling as the children of God. They are, all of them,
   more or less as sheep in the midst of wolves, and to them all is the
   advice given, "Be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as
   doves." Let us hear for ourselves as though the Lord Jesus spoke
   individually to each of us.

   We may see in the text four things concerning the people of God. First,
   their prominent vocation--"Behold, I send you forth." Secondly, their
   imminent peril--"as sheep in the midst of wolves." Thirdly, their
   eminent authority-- "Behold, I send you forth." And, lastly, their
   permanent instructions--"Be you wise as serpents, and harmless as

   I. First, let us consider THEIR PROMINENT VOCATION. They had other
   callings, for some of them were fishermen, but their great calling was
   this--"Behold, I send you forth." The call of the Lord overrides all
   other vocations. Every child of God, according to the capacity of Grace
   which God has given him, should hear this voice of the Lord calling him
   and sending him forth to labor--"Behold, I send you forth." These
   disciples had been with Him and

   had been taught by Him that they might teach in His name. They had for
   some little time been His disciples or learners and now He calls them
   apart from the rest, and says, "I send you forth to teach and to make

   The mode of operation in the Kingdom of God is, first make disciples,
   baptize them, teach them whatever the Lord has commanded and then let
   them go forth and do the same with others. When one light is kindled,
   other candles are lit from it. Drops of heavenly water are flashed
   aloft and scattered all around like dew upon the face of the earth and,
   behold, each one begets a fountain where it falls and thus the desert
   is made to rejoice and blossom as the rose! Do not try to teach till
   the Lord Jesus has first taught you! Do not pretend to instruct till
   you have been instructed! Sit at Christ's feet before you speak in
   Christ's name--but when once you are instructed, do not fail to become

   The lessons of your Lord will be impressed upon your minds the more
   forcibly and indelibly when you have earnestly communicated them to
   your fellow men. First be taught, but afterwards fail not to teach!
   Hoard not up the treasure of Divine knowledge, for there is no shortage
   there--eat not, alone, the honey of redeeming love, for there is enough
   and to spare. Feed not upon the Bread of Heaven with selfish greed, as
   though there were a famine in the land and you had need to save each
   crumb for yourself--but break your bread among the hungry crowd about
   you and it shall multiply in your hands. Christ has called you that you
   may afterwards go forth and call others to His sacred feast of Grace.

   Our Lord called them not only to teach those that came in their path,
   but to go after the lost sheep. "Behold," He said, "I send you forth."
   Some persons will hardly teach those who come immediately to their
   doors. Living under your own roof, with some of you, there are
   neglected souls! Even in some professedly Christian families there are
   sons and daughters who are not being trained for holiness nor taught in
   the way of everlasting life. This is sad to the last degree! Friend, do
   you fail there? Let conscience be awake to judge! Your Master supposes
   that you have fulfilled home duties and then He calls you forth to
   attempt something further.

   "Go your ways," He says, "for I send you forth." You have been sitting
   and hearing the Gospel--leave your seats at times and go forth to bring
   others to the faith! You have the power of the Word upon your hearts,
   now go and show its power upon your lips by speaking to others, however
   few or many. Go out, yourselves, as sowers and scatter the seed your
   Lord has given you for that end. Go where Providence guides you--to the
   Sunday school class to teach, to the street corner to preach, to the
   remote village or hamlet to bear witness for Christ, or to the densely
   crowded city slums to lift up the banner of Christ--but go your way

   Sit not down in idleness and fold your arms in indifference to the
   world's woes. Behold, your compassionate Lord sends you, therefore go
   gladly anywhere, everywhere--where His wisdom appoints the way--where
   your business gives you opportunity, or your traveling gives you
   occasion. "I send you forth," He says. He sent them forth, we are told,
   to work miracles as well as to preach. Now, He has not given us this
   power, neither do we desire it--it is more to God's Glory that the
   world should be conquered by the force of the Truth of God than by the
   blaze of miracles! The miracles were the great bell of the universe
   which was rung in order to call the attention of all men all over the
   world to the fact that the Gospel feast was spread. We do not need the
   bell, now, for the thousands who have feasted to the full are the best
   announcers of the banquet!

   Those of us who have fed upon Christ and His salvation will make the
   matter known wherever we go. No further announcement by miracle will be
   required, save only the standing miracle of the indwelling Spirit. We
   now have the great advantages of rapid traveling and of the printing
   press so that we need not the gift of tongues, since men can so much
   more readily learn a foreign language than they could before, and so
   much more quickly travel to the spot. The moral and spiritual forces of
   Truth to work by themselves, apart from any physical manifestation, is
   more to the Glory of the Truth of God and the Christ of the Truth than
   if we were all miracle workers and could destroy gainsayers!

   But still, though we work no miracles in the physical world, we work
   them in the moral and spiritual world, yes, and the same miracles, too,
   for, behold, He has sent us forth to heal the sick as the Evangelist
   has it in the 8th verse of the chapter before us. Those who are
   depressed in spirit, faint and feeble, broken-hearted and desponding,
   bruised and mangled by the assaults of the great enemy--we are to go
   forth and pour in the oil and wine of the Gospel, apply the heavenly
   plaster of the promise and bind up with the sacred liniment of
   consoling doctrine--and bring before sin-sick sinners everywhere the
   matchless medicine of the precious blood of Christ! For every spiritual
   disease the Gospel is the sure remedy and we are to carry it to every

   "Heal the sick." This, also, we do. Such sicknesses as laugh at the
   physician and cannot be touched by mortal skill are healed by the
   servants of Him who came, Himself, to bear human sicknesses that He
   might bear them away. Go forth, you servants of God, with a better balm
   than that of Gilead! Sit not still in idleness while bleeding hearts
   and sickening souls are all around you! Men are perishing--go forth to
   heal them! You are, also, to "cleanse the lepers." There is a leprosy
   abroad in the world which takes different shapes in different ages, but
   is the same, both in its cause and effect. In our land we see on all
   hands the foul leprosy of drunkenness, that brutish disease which
   degrades and destroys men's souls. There is the leprosy of superstition
   which casts into the understanding and makes a man a fool! And, alas,
   there is the white leprosy of skepticism which, like an inward fire,
   consumes the very heart.

   Sin is this leprosy and our business is, as God shall help us by the
   preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to make these lepers clean! It
   is to be done. It is done by us now in our Lord's name. He that works
   in us mightily will cause the Word to be mighty to this end, also, that
   the leprosy may depart from men and that they may come into the
   congregation of the Lord. He bids us, also, raise the dead, which seems
   the sternest work of all. But as the others are impossible to us apart
   from Him, this is not more difficult than the rest. We are to "raise
   the dead." Our Gospel begins with men where they are by nature and does
   not wait till they come part of the way. We go forth to preach to those
   who are careless and insensible, to those who have no feeling whatever
   and are furtherest gone from any tenderness of heart with regard to
   their own sin or the love of God.

   Go with the Gospel to the sepulcher of vice and preach to the dead in
   sin! The Gospel has a quickening power, Beloved, and Jesus, who is the
   Resurrection and the Life, sends you forth that by His Word in your
   mouths, dead souls may be raised! None are too dull to be awakened, too
   hardened to be renewed. And then He adds, "Cast out devils." This
   commission He gave to His Apostles and, in a spiritual sense, to us,
   too. The devil and his legions reign over the hearts of men, subjecting
   them to sin and unbelief. Behold, they claim this world as their
   dominion, but it is not so! They are usurpers, for the earth is the
   Lord's and the fullness thereof! Go with the Truth of God and cast out
   the demon of error--go with the glad tidings of joy and cast out the
   demon of despair! Go with the message of peace and cast out the demon
   of war! Go with the Word of holiness and cast out the demons of
   iniquity! Go with the Gospel of liberty and cast out the demons of
   tyranny. These blessed deeds can be done and shall be done, God being
   with you, and to this end He bids you go in His name, for He will gird
   you with His strength.

   Now, when I say that every Christian, according to his ability, is
   called to do this, I mean precisely what I say. I mean that Christian
   men nowadays, while they should be attached to the Church to which they
   belong--and the more intense that attachment the better for a thousand
   reasons--yet they should not regard the Church as being a peaceful
   dormitory where they are all to sleep, but a common barracks where they
   are all to be trained and out of which they are to issue and carry on
   the sacred crusade for Christ! We are not to be frozen together with
   the compactness of a mass of ice, through mere agreement of creed, but
   welded together like bars of iron by the fire of a common purpose and a
   common zeal.

   If we are what we should be, we shall be continually breaking forth on
   the right hand and on the left--each man, each woman, according to the
   calling that God has given to us--we shall be seeking to extend the
   Redeemer's Kingdom in all directions. My dear Brothers and Sisters, you
   are arrows in the quiver--how gladly would I see you shot forth upon
   the enemy from the bow of the Lord! Many of you are as battleaxes and
   weapons of war hanging on the wall. O that you may be taken down and
   used of the Lord in His glorious fight! Lo, on the walls of Zion hang a
   thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men! But the great need of the
   age is that these weapons be removed from their resting and rusting and
   carried into the thick of the fray!

   May the Lord send you forth, O you who have been saved under my
   ministry! May He hurl you forth with Divine power, like a mighty hail
   against His adversaries. May each man among you be eager to contend
   earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints and to save souls
   from going down into the Pit. Here, then, is your permanent
   vocation--try to realize it.

   II. Secondly, we shall consider THEIR IMMINENT PERIL. "I send you forth
   as sheep in the midst of wolves." That is to say, the task is one of
   great danger and difficulty. Our Divine enterprise is no child's play.
   The work has its charms--it looks very pretty upon paper and sounds
   well when eloquently described. At missionary meetings and revival
   services it stirs your blood to hear of what is to be done and you
   resolve to rush upon it at once! But while we would not dampen the
   ardor of one eager aspirant, we would have him count the cost and know
   what the warfare is. Enlist, by all

   means, but stop a bit and know what you are doing, lest you quit the
   field as hurriedly as you entered it--and bring disgrace both on
   yourselves and the cause.

   Old soldiers who know the smell of gunpowder talk not so lightly of a
   battle as the raw recruits may do. They remember the blood and fire and
   vapor of smoke and, though they are not timid, they are very serious.
   Come, you who have never thought about it, and look upon that which
   will dishearten every man who is a coward and test the brave as to
   whether their courage is that of Nature or of Grace. You are to go
   forth as sheep among wolves, that is to say, you have to go among those
   who will not in any way sympathize with your efforts.

   Sometimes we go among amiable, quiet, almost-persuaded people, and it
   is somewhat pleasant work, though even there it is very discouraging,
   for those who are not far from the kingdom are often the hardest to be
   won. People on the border are a difficult sort of people to deal with
   and for real success one may as well go among the decidedly ungodly at
   once. If you discharge your souls and behave zealously before God, you
   will have to deal with people who cannot enter into your feelings or
   agree with your aims. The bleating sheep finds no harmony in the bark
   or howl of the wolf! The two are very different animals and by no means
   agree. You do not suppose that you are going to be received with open
   arms by everybody, do you?

   And if you become a preacher of the Gospel you do not imagine that you
   are going to please people, do you? The time may come when, perhaps,
   the wolves will find it best, for their own comfort, not to howl quite
   so loudly, but my own experience goes to show that they howl pretty
   loudly when you first come among them--and they keep up the hideous
   concert year after year until, at last, they somewhat weary of their
   useless noise. The world raves as a wolf if any man is in double
   earnest for the Kingdom of Christ. Well, you must bear with it. What
   sort of sympathy can a lamb expect from wolves? If he expected any,
   would he be not disappointed? Be not disappointed, for you know your
   surroundings and you know your mission!

   When our Savior used similar words to the 70, He did not call them
   sheep, but lambs, (see Luke 10:3), for they were not so far advanced as
   the 12, yet He sent them into the same trying circumstances and they
   returned in peace. Even the weak ones among us should, therefore, be of
   good courage and be ready to face opposition and ridicule. Sheep in the
   midst of wolves are among those who would rip them, tear them, devour
   them. Luther used to say Cain will go on killing Abel to the world's
   end, if he can, and so he will till that millennial day when the wolf
   shall lie down with the lamb! The disposition and nature of the wolves
   cause them to be opposed to the sheep--and it is the nature of the
   world to hate the children of God!

   All through history you see the two seeds in contention--if there is
   Abel there is Cain who slays him. If there is Noah, you see an ungodly
   world all round him. If there is an Isaac, so, also, is there an
   Ishmael who will mock him. And if there is a Jacob, there is an Esau
   who seeks to kill him. There cannot be an Israel without Pharaoh, or
   Amalek, or Edom, or Babylon to oppose! David must be hunted by Saul and
   the Son of David by Herod. There is an enmity between the seed of the
   serpent and the Seed of the woman--and that enmity will always remain.
   The ungodly roar upon the righteous and seek to bring cruel accusations
   against them, even as against their Lord. No matter how pure the lives
   of the godly, the wicked will slander them! No matter how kind their
   actions, they will render evil in return. No matter how plain and
   honest their behavior, they will suspect them and no matter how
   disinterested in their motives, they will be sure to attribute to them
   the most evil designs, for the wolf comes to kill and to devour--and he
   will do it to the best of his ability.

   Ah, how red are his fangs in times of persecution! How the wolf raged
   and raved over, this, our country, in the days of Mary and Charles the
   Second. And afterwards when, first as a Protestant and next as a
   Puritan, the godly were devoured and he that followed his conscience
   was made to suffer bitterly! Scotland can tell how the wolf's fangs
   were wet with the blood of her covenanting sons! And were it not for
   God's own strong hand put upon them, the wolves would be tearing the
   sheep to this day in our own land! Again, they were to go like sheep
   among wolves, among a people who would hinder their endeavors, for
   their business was to seek the lost sheep and the wolves would not help
   them in that. On the contrary, the wolves, themselves, desire to seize
   upon the lost sheep as their prey.

   You must expect, if you are faithful to Christ and put forth zealous
   efforts, that there will be others who will put forth their strength
   and cunning to oppose you! It is often an awful game that we have to
   play for a man's soul. Each move we make is met by the devil and,
   unless God directs us, we shall lose the man. If we draw him to a
   Prayer Meeting,

   another takes him to the theater. If we set before him the Truth of
   God, another puzzles him with skepticism. If we persuade him, others
   entice him in the wrong direction. The cunning of our foe is something
   terrible! We go forth to hunt for precious souls, but there are others
   who, in another sense, hunt for the precious life.

   The streets at night tell of those whom Satan hires that he may use
   them as his decoys! The vicious literature scattered abroad so
   plentifully is another form of the nets of Satan, the great fowler, who
   catches the sons of men in his snares. If we are not earnest, the devil
   is! He never sleeps--he lost his eyelids long ago. We may slumber if we
   dare, but the powers of evil will never suspend their activities--day
   and night the deadly work goes on and the wolves howl over their prey.
   Therefore we go forth like sheep, not among the images of wolves, but
   in the midst of real active wolves that are doing all they possibly can
   to destroy those sheep who are as yet lost, but whom Christ has,
   nevertheless, purchased with His precious blood!

   We are to go forth like sheep among wolves in this sense, that we are
   quite powerless against them. What can a sheep do if a wolf sets upon
   it? It has no strength to resist! And so those 70 disciples of Christ,
   if the Jews had hunted them down, would have gone to prison and to
   death, for they could not fight. "My Kingdom," said our Lord, "is not
   of this world, else would My servants fight, that I should not be
   delivered to the Jews." All through the history of the Church, when the
   wolves actually set upon the sheep, they make no active resistance, but
   as the flock of slaughter they suffer and die. I know there was a time
   in history when the sheep began fighting, but it was not their Master's
   mind that they should--He bids us put our sword in its scabbard. Our
   place is to bear and bear and bear continually--as He did!

   He says, "If a man strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the
   other, also." Fighting sheep are strange animals and fighting
   Christians are self-evident contradictions. They have forsaken the
   Master's way--they have gone off from the platform where He stands
   whenever it comes to carnal weapons. It is ours to submit and to be the
   anvil which bears the blows but outlasts all the hammers! After all,
   the wolves have had, by far, the worst of it--the sheep are multiplied
   and the wolves grow fewer and fewer! As a matter of fact, the sheep
   have lived in this country to see the last of the wolves--and they will
   in other lands, too!

   The wild dogs of Australia are very fierce against the sheep, but the
   sheep will surely, in the end, live, and the wild dog will die.
   Everywhere it is so. They are weak in themselves and yet they conquer
   the strong. "Ah," you say, "it is the Shepherd who gives them this
   victory." Precisely so! And that is where our strength lies--even in
   "that Great Shepherd of the sheep." Though called to bow down as the
   street that men may go over us, by this endurance we conquer! In
   suffering we are invincible and in this sign we conquer--the cross of
   self-denial and self-sacrifice leads the way. "I send you forth as
   sheep in the midst of wolves," not rendering railing for railing, but
   contrariwise, blessing! Being provoked, you return gentleness and,
   being persecuted, you pray for your enemies!

   "Ah," says one, "I do not like the looks of such a mode of warfare!" I
   thought you would not and you may go your way. As notice was given of
   old in the camp of Israel that he who had lately married a wife, or
   built a house, or was fainthearted, might go home, so do we say--"To
   your beds, you cowards! If you cannot undertake this for your Master,
   He does not need that His hosts should be encumbered by your presence!"
   Our Master calls out men to whom He gives Divine Grace that they may be
   strong to endure even unto the end! The Spirit of the Lord gives
   patience and forbearance to those who, in true faith, seek to be like
   their suffering Lord.

   Brethren, it is trying work for the sheep to go forth among wolves, but
   it has to be done. Picture it in your mind's eye. The timid sheep
   trembles at it. The wolves are rough, unmannerly, coarse-minded,
   irritating, annoying. The poor sheep does not feel at home in such
   company! He sees, every now and then, the white teeth glittering within
   the wolf's mouth and he is ill at ease. The sheep wishes he were back
   in the quiet fold among his happy brethren, but the Shepherd knows what
   He is doing and it is the duty of the sheep to obey and to go into the
   midst of the wolves if his Shepherd bids him. It is very testing, too,
   because if a man is not truly one of God's own, he will not obey so
   trying a command, but will neglect duty and seek comfort.

   It will try even you who are most sincere. You think you have much
   patience--get among the wolves and see how much is left! You fancy you
   could put up with a great deal of annoyance--let it come upon you and
   you will see how it torments you. When it comes to the loss of your
   good name, to downright lying and slander against the most tender part
   of your character. When it comes to bitter sneers and sarcasms and
   words which eat like acid into the flesh and burn like

   coals of fire flung into the bosom, it is not easy, then, to maintain
   the love which hopes all things, endures all things. Grace, alone,
   makes Believers press forward in their work of love, seeking with
   gentleness to win souls.

   Oh to say--though the wicked man curses me and foams at the mouth with
   rage--I will still seek his good! This is the victory of faith, but the
   battle will test all your Graces and make you see that all is not gold
   which glitters. You will soon see whether the Spirit of God is in you
   or not, for patient love is not natural, but supernatural--and only he
   who is filled with the supernatural indwelling of the Holy Spirit will
   be able to live as a sheep among wolves! If you can accomplish this
   work it will be very instructive to you.

   You will never know why Christ wept over Jerusalem till you get among
   the Jerusalemites and painfully feel the cruel wrongs which make men
   weep because they love! You cannot understand the Savior's death
   throes, the bloody sweat, the heaviness even unto death and the broken
   heart until you go, like a sheep, into the midst of wolves! Then you
   will be where Jesus was and you will have fellowship with Him!
   Practical learning is best--books cannot teach us fellowship with our
   Lord, but when we get to do Christly work, then we come to mourn the
   evil which He lamented and prize the remedy which He supplied. Thus we
   gather knowledge and are, ourselves, the better for our labor for

   III. Let us now look at God's servants sent forth and note THEIR
   EMINENT AUTHORITY. "Behold I send you forth." What a grand expression!
   It could be used by no mere man! He who spoke thus is Divine. Brothers
   and Sisters, our commission justifies us in what we do. For a sheep to
   go into the midst of wolves of its own accord would be a foolish
   courting of peril. But when the Great Shepherd says, "I send you," it
   would be a grievous fault to linger. Who is this who says, "I send
   you"? First, it is "The Lord of the Harvest." Did you notice while we
   were reading in the 10th of Luke, how the two verses ran on, "Pray you,
   therefore, the Lord of the Harvest, that He would send forth laborers
   into His harvest. Go your ways; behold, I send you."

   The same connection is here, only there is a little parenthesis--read
   the last verse of the ninth chapter of Matthew, and you will see that
   it is the same. It is the Lord of the Harvest to whom we pray, who
   actually sends us forth in answer to our own prayers! He is the Master
   of all worlds and owner of the souls of men. He puts His sickle into
   your hands and bids you go forth and reap the golden grain which is the
   reward of the travail of His soul. "I send you,"--the Lord of the
   Harvest. Armed with His authority, who shall daunt you? Go even to the
   gates of Hell if Jesus commands!

   Next, "I send you"--I, who prize you, for you are My sheep. I who love
   you, for I bought you with My blood. I, who would not expose you to a
   needless danger. I, who know by My infinite wisdom that I am doing a
   wise and a kind thing. I send you, you, My sheep, My dear sheep, for
   whom I laid down My life--I send you into the midst of
   wolves--therefore you may safely go, for I, who love you, send you
   there. Lord, we ask no questions, but we go at once. "I send you," that
   is I who have gone on the same errand Myself.

   Did He not come into the world like a sheep in the midst of wolves?
   Remember with what patience He endured and with what glory He
   triumphed! Remember His poverty and shame and death! Remember how, like
   a sheep before her shearers, He was dumb, like a lamb that is taken to
   the slaughter, He opened not His mouth. He does not bid you go where He
   has not gone Himself. It is dangerous, but then He has passed through
   the danger, endured it and triumphed in it. "I send you"--mark that--I
   who overcame in the very Character in which I send you! Have you not
   read in the book of Revelation, "The Lamb shall overcome them"? And
   again, "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb." And know you not that
   Heaven's high songs go up to Him that sits upon the Throne and unto the
   Lamb forever and ever?

   The Lamb in the midst of wolves has conquered the wolves and is Lord of
   All! And so He, in effect, says, "You are My lambs, therefore, go
   forth,, as I did. Endure, as I did. Conquer, as I did, and you shall
   sit on my Throne and the Lamb shall lead you to the living fountains of

   IV. We close by noticing THEIR PERMANENT INSTRUCTIONS. You have a tough
   task before you, to act as

   sheep among wolves! Your Lord leaves you not without guidance in the
   form of plain precepts. What are you to do, then? Be bold as lions?
   Yes, but that is not the principal thing. Be swift as eagles? Yes, by
   all means, but that is not the main requirement. For everyday life, for
   the wear and tear of this great battle, there are two grand requisites.
   The first is prudence--be wise as serpents. And the next thing is
   innocence--be harmless as doves.

   First, be prudent and wise as a serpent. Do not imitate a serpent in
   any other respect but in this. Never let the devil enter into you as he
   did the serpent, nor become groveling and cunning. But, still, the
   serpent is an exceedingly wise creature and it had need to be, for it
   lives in a world where it is hated by a deadly foe. It is natural for
   man to hate the

   whole serpent tribe. The very first thing you do if you see a viper is
   to look for a stick to kill it. Everybody is the enemy of serpents and
   if they are to exist, at all, they must be very wary--in this you are
   to copy them.

   What does a serpent do to preserve itself? What is it which proves its
   wisdom? First, it gets out of the way of man as much as it can. Our
   Lord meant this, for immediately after our text He says, "But beware of
   men." It is well to get out of the society of ungodly men and let them
   see that their habits and modes of conversation are not ours. Seek to
   benefit them, but do not seek their society! Their wolfish propensities
   are most seen in their leisure time, in their drinking and reveling
   and, therefore, keep far from these. You have no business in their
   parties, their frivolous assemblies, their drinking bouts and places of
   lascivious song.

   Do not accept their invitations when you know that they will be under
   no restraint. Do not linger near them when they are talking lewdly or
   profanely. Your moving away will be your most telling protest. You must
   be with them in your business--indeed, you are sent to them--but while
   you are with them you must not be of them! And you should discreetly
   avoid them when you know that you can do no good. You younger ones
   should get out of the way of old blasphemers and scoffers as much as
   you ever can, for they delight to worry the lambs. Do not attempt to
   answer them, but keep out of their way. Do not court quarrelling and
   controversy, but avoid all disputing upon the Gospel.

   Your workmates will chaff you and, no doubt, you will receive many
   opprobrious epithets, but neither provoke this treatment nor resent it
   in any way. Do not cast pearls before swine and do not introduce
   religion at unseasonable times. Hold your principles very firmly, but
   when you know a man will only blaspheme if he hears you name the name
   of Jesus, do not give him the occasion. Stand up for Jesus when the
   time is fit, but do not exercise zeal without knowledge. When a man is
   half drunk, or in a passion, leave him to himself and thus escape many
   a brawl. At another opportunity, when the occasion is more favorable,
   then endeavor to instruct and persuade, but not when failure is
   certain. Be very prudent and hold your peace when silence is better
   than speech.

   How else does the serpent act? It glides along very quietly. It can
   hiss, but it does not very often do so. As it glides along, it neither
   sings, nor roars, nor barks. It does not court observation. It slips
   off quietly, gracefully, swiftly and without noise. Now, do not seek
   after great publicity. There may be times when it may be well to ring
   the great bell. If you can get multitudes of people together to hear
   the Gospel, by all means ring the bell as loudly as you can! But as far
   as you are personally concerned, do not make a fuss, do not blazon
   abroad what you are going to do, do not call upon everybody, saying,
   "Come, see my zeal for the Lord of Hosts."

   Glide along through a useful life as quietly as the serpent which does
   what he finds to do and says nothing, dreading, rather than courting
   the eyes of man. Unobtrusive earnestness, quiet, simple-minded
   resolution to achieve your purpose--whether men will bear or whether
   they will forbear, whether they will praise, or whether they will laugh
   at you--this is your wisdom. Then, again, the serpent is famous for
   finding his way where no other creature could enter-- any little space,
   any tiny opening will be sufficient for his purpose. His form is
   adapted to progress among obstacles. You may block the way to other
   creatures, but he will wriggle in somehow.

   So should it be with us. If we cannot get at men's hearts one way, we
   must try another. If you cannot induce them to read the Gospel, get
   them to hear it. If you cannot induce them to hear a sermon, drop a
   verse into their ears. If a tract is refused, put a word in edgeways
   for your Lord and Master. There is a way into everyone's heart if you
   know how to find it--be wise as serpents and discover it. Though it
   seems very difficult to reach some minds, yet with holy perseverance
   and serpentine adroitness continue the attempt and you will succeed.
   There is a weak point in the strongest man's mind, where his opposition
   can be wounded. Even Leviathan that laughs at the spear has a tender
   place where the spear's point may come at him--and so the most ungodly,
   wicked, blaspheming, profane infidel has some point where you may reach
   his better feelings if you do but search it out. Be wise as serpents in
   this respect.

   But then you are to add to this--which might otherwise degenerate into
   cunning--the innocence of the dove. The Greek for, "harmless," is,
   "without horn." The dove is without horn, hoof, fang, or other means of
   defense. You are to have positively no weapons! Like the dove, you are
   to be defenseless. It seems an amazing thing to set doves flying at
   eagles, and lambs at war with wolves, but this is what the Lord has
   done! This defenselessness, however, which looks like our weakness, is
   our real strength! Our being harmless appears to predict sure
   destruction, but it is to be the means of certain victory!

   You are to be gentle and easily entreated. You are not to fly into a
   passion because you are contradicted, nor to be angry because you are
   reviled. You are to endure contradiction and slander with tenderness
   and gentleness, as a dove bears all things. You are not to be driven
   into any sin by opposition. The dove is pure--it loves to be by the
   rivers of waters, in the quiet and clean places. So should you never be
   driven to sinful word or deed, but do good to all men and glorify God
   in all things by being both gentle and pure as a dove. And as the dove
   is very simple and is altogether artless and unworldly, so let your
   strength and your wisdom lie in your artless truthfulness and childlike
   dependence upon God.

   See how Christ explains His own utterance a little further down.
   "Harmless as doves," then He adds, "But when they deliver you up, take
   no thought how or what you shall speak." Be like a dove, confident
   because fearless, gentle, artless, simple and restful. Do no ill, and
   fear none. You Christian people, if you are going to defend the Gospel,
   need not study oratory or become expert in pleading such as are used at
   law. Tell the truth and baffle the devil! The Truth of God is the most
   powerful weapon and the most subtle policy.

   I believe that even in affairs of State, truth is wisdom. No diplomatic
   agent would so confound intriguers as a man who should tell the truth.
   They would conclude that what he said was a lie because they are
   accustomed to regard everything as having another meaning. An
   ambassador, it was formerly said, was to be a gentleman who is sent
   abroad to lie for the good of his country--but I hope it is not so now.
   If straightforward truth should ever become the policy of any country
   it would be invincible in council! If in politics a man were to throw
   away all arts and tricks and adhere only to principle, he must gain
   respect. The greatest art in all the world is to fling all art away and
   the grandest policy is to have no policy, but honest dealing. The
   bravest thing that can ever be done and the most noble, is to be
   artless and harmless as a dove.

   There, then, is the policy of your warfare--be prudent, but be innocent
   and simple-minded. Oh, the power of truthfulness! Do not believe that
   men are strong in proportion as they are artful. By no manner of means!
   Do not believe that they are strong in proportion as they can bend a
   fist. No, the power of a Christian must lie in his holy heart, in his
   earnest tongue and in his look of love. By this he shall vanquish, and
   by nothing else! The conclusion of my sermon is this. Does it come home
   to you, Brothers and Sisters? Do you hear the Lord sending you out to
   work? Then I entreat you, go forth! Suppose I make that one sentence my
   last word--"go forth"?

   You may have heard of the Scot officer who had his men drawn up for the
   battle and felt bound to make them a speech. He pointed to the enemy,
   and said, "There they are, lads. If you don't kill them, they will kill
   you." My words are the same--There are the enemies of all
   righteousness, the enemies of Christ, the enemies of the good of men,
   the enemies of progress--if you do not overthrow them by publishing the
   Gospel to all according to your ability, they will overthrow you! Which
   is it to be? By the Grace of the Eternal and the Omnipotence of Him who
   bled for us, we will conquer even by His Cross after His own fashion!
   Only let His Holy Spirit rest upon us. Amen.