No Difference

   (No. 1414)

   DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MAY 12, 1878,

   BY C. H. SPURGEON,

   AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

   "He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on
   thejust and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45.

   [On this night the Tabernacle was free to all comers, the regular
   congregation having vacated their seats.]

   You see our Lord Jesus Christ's philosophy of Nature. He believed in
   the immediate Presence and working of God. As the great Son of God, He
   had a very sensitive perception of the Presence of His Father in all
   the scenes around Him and, therefore, He calls the sun, God's sun--"He
   makes His sun to rise." He does not speak of the daybreak as a thing
   which happens of itself as a matter of course, but He traces the
   morning light to His Father and declares, "He makes His sun to rise."
   As for the rain, our great Lord and Master does not speak of the laws
   of condensation causing the vapor to become fluid and fall to the earth
   in a beneficial shower, but He says of His Father, "He sends rain upon
   the just and upon the unjust."

   Jesus knew far better than any of us all the laws by which the great
   Creator governs the world of matter and yet He never speaks of these
   laws as though they operated without the Divine power making them to be
   effective. In Christ's philosophy, the Lord God Himself was everywhere
   present, working all things--yes, even numbering the hairs upon the
   heads of His chosen--and marking the falling of a sparrow to the
   ground. Let such be your philosophy and mine, for it is the true one!
   Dr. Watts taught us to sing when we were children--

   "My God, who makes the sun to know

   His proper hour to rise,

   And to give light to all below,

   Does send him round the skies." So our mothers taught us and they
   taught us the truth. But the very wise men of this proudly enlightened
   age seem to be spinning all sorts of theories to get rid of God, to
   turn our Benefactor out of His own world and put man's best Friend as
   far away as possible.

   I am sometimes reminded by these schools of philosophy and science of
   Tom Hood's, "I remember, I remember." Here is a verse of it--

   "I remember, I remember, The fir trees dark and high I used to think
   their slender tops Were close against the sky. It was a childish
   ignorance, But now 'tis little joy To know I'm farther off from Hea ven
   Than when I was a boy."

   It were a good thing for our skeptical teachers who have banished God
   out of His own universe if they could go back to their mothers' knees
   and learn to talk simply and naturally after the fashion of the wisest
   man that ever lived, namely, our Lord and Master. Then would they also
   confess that our heavenly Father "makes His sun to rise and He sends
   the rain," for so it is. Laws of Nature can do nothing without a power
   at the back of the laws. What is Nature, about which many infidels
   speak so very plentifully? Ask them to tell you what Nature is and they
   will reply, "Why, it is Nature." Well, but what is that? And they can
   only say, "Why Nature, you know, you know, you know, Nature is Nature."

   Some such sensible reply was given to certain of our friends on
   Kennington Common by one who was there reviling his Maker. Now, if men
   did but understand Nature, they would know that Nature is simply God's
   creation, workshop, laboratory, storehouse and banqueting hall. In
   Nature, what God has made and what God is doing are made visible before
   our eyes. God is among us still, blessed be His name! Believing this,
   we at once perceive that the Lord has been talking with us during the
   last few days very sweetly and delightfully. The merciful Father speaks
   to us with charming eloquence on such a day as this, of which George
   Herbert would have said--

   "Sweet day so cool, so calm, so bright, The bridal of the earth and
   sky." Coming just in the middle of this fair season of hope and
   promise, concerning which he sang--

   "Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses, A box where sweets
   compacted lie," it has a still small voice which all should wish to
   hear.

   What a blessing to have enjoyed such a May day as this has been! We
   have had God speaking to us according to the exact style of our
   text--He has made His sun to shine, and He has us sent rain. Our days,
   for some little time, have been made up of sunshine and shower with,
   every now and then, that wondrous masterpiece of glory in the sky which
   we call the rainbow, of which God has said, "I, even I, do set My bow
   in the cloud," "whose warp is the raindrop of earth and whose woof is
   the sunbeam of Heaven!" Glorious symbol of His Grace and faithfulness,
   who hung it in the clouds! Now what does God say to us in the sunshine
   and the shower which come, the one after the other, in such pleasant
   alternation, making the grass so green and causing flowers to deck both
   tree and herb? What does He say in all this?

   There is a voice full of the music of love, to which we shall do well
   to listen. There is one instruction in it and only one that I shall be
   able to expound tonight. It is the fact brought out in the text, "He
   makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on
   the just and on the unjust." One of the most considerable heights
   anywhere near London is Leith Hill, near Dorking. And if you have ever
   stood there, as I often have done with delight, you may, perhaps, have
   thought over our text. You see far around the distant lands, pasture,
   parks, woods, with here and there the laughing water. And beyond the
   blue hills the distant sea. Up comes a gleam of sunlight, where all was
   cloud before. By-and-by the sun bursts out in full beauty.

   Do you notice how impartial it is? Men have mapped out the country--so
   far is allotted to this squire, so far to that--with here and there an
   insignificant patch pilfered from the wayside or the common which may
   belong to some industrious peasant. But the sun shines on all, glances
   into the halls, peeps into the cottages, gleams from the white spires
   of the churches and flashes from the tavern signboards swinging in the
   breeze. It shines on the wayside and floods the green with its golden
   light where the children are at play--it sweeps over all, in fact. Now
   that farm over yonder belongs to a fool who is sure to rake his stubble
   after the harvest, lest the poor should glean an ear or two--a man who
   fights and quarrels with his neighbors, yet the sun shines on his
   selfish heritage!

   Yonder farm belongs to one who would, if he could, rob the orphan and
   fatherless and the widow--a heartless wretch unworthy to gather a sour
   apple from the sharpest crab--yet the sun shines on his wheat and
   barley just the same as on that portion of land which belongs to the
   generous-hearted and the free, to the gracious and the godly. There is
   no distinction made between the meadows of the righteous and the
   pastures of the wicked! As you see the sunlight bathe the whole of the
   scene before you, the entire landscape smiles with universal joy. While
   you are watching, that cloud which all day long you had suspected would
   turn to a shower, comes rushing up with the wind--the Great Father
   blowing with His breath this traveling fountain of the sky!

   Then it begins to pour. We seek the shelter of the lofty tower of Leith
   without a murmur, for we know that the rain is seasonable. The land
   needs it. It has been dry and parched for weeks. Down comes the blessed
   shower that shall fill our barns with plenty. Yes, yes, the Lord is
   pouring forth a shower of food-creating moisture and, look, it is
   raining on the fool's piece of land just as much as on his liberal
   neighbor's! It is watering the farm of the man who would rob the
   fatherless of his shoes if the law permitted him. It is making his
   broad acres teem with plenty just as surely as it is fattening the poor
   man's patch, or falling upon the widow's scanty plot, or on the farm of
   the gracious godly man.

   As though He did not regard human character at all, God bids His sun
   shine on good and bad. As though He did not know that any men were
   vile, He bids the shower descend on just and unjust. Yet He does know,
   for He is no blind God! He does know and He knows when His sun shines
   on yonder miser's acres that it is bringing forth a harvest for a fool.
   He

   does it deliberately. When the rain is falling upon yonder oppressor's
   crops, He knows that the oppressor will be the richer for it and means
   that He should be. He is doing nothing by mistake and nothing without a
   purpose. It is of His own will that He thus scatters sunlight with both
   His hands and pours the bounteous shower on all things that grow. He
   knows what He is doing, blessed be His name! He sends forth, on
   purpose, sunshine and shower on the evil and on the good--and that is
   the one lesson we want to bring out tonight.

   What is the meaning of this boundless generosity? Why this impartial
   bounty, this indiscriminate liberality? What does God say to us when He
   acts thus? I believe that He says this--"This is the day of free Grace.
   This is the time of mercy." The hour for judgment is not yet, when He
   will separate between the good and the bad, when He will mount the
   Judgment Seat and award different portions to the righteous and to the
   wicked. Sheep and goats, as yet, feed together and He gives to them all
   their fodder. Wheat and tares grow in the same field and He ripens both
   for the harvest. This is not the Day of Justice, but the period of
   mercy--free, rich mercy--mercy to the undeserving, Divine Grace to the
   worthless, sunlight of love for the evil and showers of blessings for
   the unjust!

   That is the teaching of the great Father to us tonight and, in trying
   to bring it out, I shall first show how forcible it is made to appear
   by its being placed as an example. Secondly, I shall dwell upon the
   act, itself, drawing inferences from the impartiality of sunshine and
   shower to encourage all who long to receive Grace at the great Father's
   hand. And, lastly, I shall let the plants and grass and trees talk to
   you a little.

   I. First, then, this which is spoken concerning God's causing His
   sunshine to fall on the evil as well as on the good is set before us as
   AN EXAMPLE AND HENCE THE EMPHASIS OF ITS MEANING. We are, according to
   the verses which precede our text, to love our enemies, to bless them
   that curse us, to do good to them that hate us, to pray for them which
   despitefully use us and persecute us because, if we do, we shall be
   like our Father in Heaven who blesses with sunshine and showers the bad
   as well as the good. It must mean, then, that He, in causing His sun to
   shine upon the bad, is rendering good for evil, is wishing well to
   those who treat Him ill, is intending favor to those that despitefully
   use Him and persecute His cause.

   That is what the text means. God would not command us to do what He
   will not do, Himself, if placed in similar circumstances! He bids us
   forgive because His sunshine and showers teach us that He is ready to
   forgive. He bids us do good to those who do us ill, because in sunshine
   and showers He is doing good to those who hate Him and despitefully use
   Him. Now suppose, my Brethren, that we were all enabled, by Divine
   Grace, to follow out the precept which is set before us? Our conduct
   would be regarded by most men as being very extraordinary--for most
   people say, "Well, I will do good to a man if he is a deserving
   character, but you cannot expect me to help the undeserving. I will
   cheerfully render a measure of assistance to a person who is grateful,
   but to the ungrateful and the evil you do not expect me to be kind?
   Yes, I will be kind to my neighbor, but that man who the other day was
   so contemptuous in his behavior as to treat me worse than a dog and
   seemed as if he would tread me under his feet like dirt--would you have
   me do him kindness?"

   Now, suppose that you are able to rise to the example which is put
   before you and that you persistently do good and only good even to the
   worst of men? And when you are treated with evil, let us suppose you
   are able to do only more good and thus heap coals of fire upon the
   offender's head by being more generous to him than ever--that will be
   very extraordinary conduct, don't you think? You think so, I know, for
   you feel the proposal to be too hard for flesh and blood to carry out
   and so, indeed, it is! And if you are enabled to rise to so great a
   height, you will astonish all around you and become a wonder to many!
   Admire, then, with all your hearts, the marvelous conduct of your God!

   He is prepared to put away all the offenses of the past and He is ready
   to forgive and to do good to those who have been doing ill all their
   days. Yes, to take into His very heart of love and make into His
   children the very persons who have hated Him and spoken evil against
   Him! Will it not be extraordinary if He does that to you, dear Friend,
   if such has been your character? Know, then, that the Lord loves to do
   extraordinary things! "Who is a God like unto You, passing by
   transgression, iniquity, and sin?" "As high as the heavens are above
   the earth, so high are His ways above our ways, and His thoughts above
   our thoughts." God is prepared to save extraordinary sinners by an
   extraordinary act of love, wiping out the past and causing them to
   begin a new life in which they shall be enriched with His favor and
   preserved by His love.

   Again, if a man should carry out what I have tried to set forth--the
   continuous rendering of good to the undeserving--he would be regarded
   by all thinking persons whose judgment is worth taking, to be very
   noble. When a

   man has been abused, misrepresented and slandered, and he simply smiles
   and says, "If you knew me better you would not treat me so." And, if
   the first time he finds an opportunity, he helps the man who injured
   him and still gets no gratitude, but, on the contrary, worse treatment
   than before, and he is still able to persevere in doing good--most of
   you would say, "What a noble fellow he is!" Even the man who does not
   praise him is obliged to feel his greatness. There is about such a man
   a superiority which covers him with honor in the consciences of those
   who observe his gentle spirit!

   Now, listen, you that are conscious of great sin against God! If the
   Lord were, tonight, to put all your sins behind His back and would take
   you into His family, as He took the poor returning prodigal and make a
   great feast for you as He did when His son that was lost was found,
   would it not be noble of Him? Would you not feel that His thoughts are
   far above your thoughts? Of course you would! Yes, but my God does
   noble deeds such as make the harps of Heaven ring with ecstatic music
   as the cherubim and seraphim behold His Grace. O thrice noble God,
   there is none like You, so ready to pardon and to receive each
   returning penitent and restore him to Your favor! To pardon you, my
   sinful Brother, would be extraordinary and honorable to the last
   degree, but God is prepared to act after that noble fashion! Will you
   not accept such boundless love and be at peace with such a Lord?

   Do you not all feel that if you could act in so noble a style it would
   be very pleasurable to you? No doubt there is some pleasure in knocking
   a fellow down who insults you, but it cannot last long. When the fire
   of passion goes out, a man begins to think whether it was a good thing
   to do, after all--but not to do it, to turn the other cheek when you
   have been struck, to do good instead of evil--have you ever tried that?
   If you have done so, you have heard music in your heart at midnight at
   the remembrance of your forbearance! When you have been lying awake,
   you have thought it over and you have said to yourself, "It makes me
   happy to think that I did not reply to that angry man in an angry
   tone--to think that I did not, after all, give him a smart blow when he
   gave me one--but that I showed patience and good temper and endured ill
   treatment for Christ's sake." It is a pleasure as deep as it is noble!
   To be Christ-like is to enjoy a Heaven within your breast!

   And even so, it is a pleasure to God to have mercy upon sinners. He
   delights in mercy! Nothing gives God greater delight than to save those
   who have offended Him. He is always ready for a gracious deed and
   freely, of His own will, He meets those who seek His face. He does not
   want you to melt His heart with tears in order to win His love and He
   does not require the laceration of your body by penance, nor a long
   period of agonizing doubt before He grants full and effectual pardon.
   It is His joy to pardon! He meets returning sinners when they are yet a
   great way off and kisses them. So rejoiced is He to receive them that
   if they are glad to be received, yet He is the more glad of the two!
   Joyous is the great Father's heart when He presses His Ephraims to His
   bosom!

   Did I hear somebody say, "But this that you are talking about is not
   justice"? Listen--it is not unjust. Look at the conduct which our Lord
   commands us and see if that would be unjust. If a man has insulted me
   and I forgive him, am I unjust? If a man has slandered me and I
   overlook it, am I unjust? If a man has done me an injury and I refuse
   to take any revenge except that of doing good to him, am I unjust?
   Certainly I am not acting according to the laws of justice, but then I
   am not the judge--and not being the judge--why should I undertake an
   office to which I am not called? God is the Judge of all by necessity
   of His Nature, but He will not fully display that Character till the
   day when in the Person of His Son He shall come with all His holy
   angels to summon men to His bar. For the present He does not deal with
   living men after the rule of justice, but He deals with them according
   to His Grace.

   If anyone should question why He should give His Grace to the
   undeserving, here is a sufficient answer for them-- "May I not do as I
   will with My own? Is your eye evil because Mine is good?" If you choose
   to show kindness to those who do not deserve it, who shall say to you,
   "no"? May not a man be as generous and forbearing as he pleases? What
   Law, human or Divine, forbids him? And if God, with infinite
   sovereignty of mercy, chooses to dispense His favors even to those who
   deserve nothing at His hands, let Him be adored forever, but let Him
   not be questioned for so doing! At any rate, it ill becomes the
   undeserving, themselves, to raise such a question--rather let them
   eagerly accept the bounty of the pardoning God!

   And then note this thought--that to do good to the evil is, after all,
   promotive of righteousness. To be good to the unjust is to help on the
   cause of right, for goodness to the evil is one of the most wooing
   things in the world, wooing them, I mean, to repent and do good in
   return! Let me give you an anecdote. There was a farmer who lived in
   one of the new settlements of America. We will call him Mr. Wrath, for
   he was a man of a horrible temper and everybody who lived

   near him was made to know it. He had an excellent Christian man living
   near him--a gentle, good, easy-tempered soul--and on one occasion this
   good man's hogs strayed into the bad man's wheat and caused damage. Mr.
   Wrath came down in a tearing rage and said what he would do and what he
   would not do.

   The other offered to pay for the damage and said that he was very sorry
   for his neglect and would do his best that it should not happen again.
   However, it did happen again, and the owner of the wheat was in a great
   passion. He caught the swine and killed them all, put their bodies on a
   cart and took them back to his neighbor. "Your hogs," he said, "got
   into my wheat--here they are." And sure enough there they were, all
   dead. Of course, the owner of the hogs might have gone to the
   authorities against Mr. Wrath and obtained damages at more or less the
   cost of trouble and temper, but he merely said that he was exceedingly
   sorry that his hogs had transgressed again and there ended the matter.

   Some time after, it came to pass that Mr. Wrath's pigs went astray, as
   pigs will do, and they damaged the Christian's wheat. What did he do?
   He had not sought a legal remedy against his adversary--would not it
   have been fair and straightforward to butcher Mr. Wrath's hogs on the
   principle of tit for tat, as the proverb puts it? Of course it would
   have been, but a Christian does not act upon that worn-out legal
   principle! Instead of killing the creatures, he caught them all, tied
   their legs, put them on a cart, drove up to the door and said, "Friend
   Wrath, your hogs got into my wheat. I have brought them to you. Here
   they are"--the very words that Mr. Wrath had used to him.

   Mr. Wrath went to the cart, of course expecting to find his swine all
   dead. But there they were, all right enough, grunting in proof of their
   continued existence. "There," the neighbor said, "hogs are always
   troublesome. I dare say you could not help their getting into my
   wheat." Mr. Wrath's temper was changed from that very day. How could he
   behave badly to such a neighbor who had vanquished him by forgiving him
   the injury that he had done him? Now, just as men can win upon men by
   their kindness, so does God win upon the hearts of men by His love when
   the Holy Spirit leads them to see and feel that He acts graciously
   towards them. There is no power to win a man like the power of love! If
   you have ever been converted, dear Friends, I think that you have felt
   that you could say--

   "I yield, by Sovereign Love subdued-- Who can resist its charms?"

   The thunderbolts of God might have broken you down, but they could not
   have forced love into your terrified soul! Yet, when Jesus came in love
   and mercy, you were compelled to yield and that most gladly and
   heartily!

   So God's goodness to the unjust is aiding and assisting the cause of
   righteousness and justice and who, therefore, shall say a word against
   it? "Ah," says somebody, "but it is very liable to be abused. If you go
   and help the bad and benefit the unjust, you will find that they will
   take your charity and spend it wrongly, or perhaps they will turn,
   again, and harm you." This is very true, but still, the Master says,
   "Love your enemies and pray for them that despitefully use you." He
   does not insert a clause to the effect that we are only to do this
   where we are sure that it will not be abused. No, it is absolute! If
   they make bad use of it, that is no business of ours. Your heavenly
   Father knows that the fool, when he reaps his harvest, will simply
   spend it on himself, yet He sends him the sunlight and the shower. He
   knows that yonder oppressive wretch will, with his wealth, go on to
   grind the poor, but He sends his crops the warm, genial sun and the
   refreshing rain, notwithstanding it.

   But, dear Friends, there is this thing to be said about Divine Grace,
   that if God gives it to you, you cannot misuse it, for Grace will
   change your heart and renew your nature! And if He is so ready to give
   to men those benefits which they can and do abuse, much more will He
   bestow that Grace which is liable to no such ill usage. Let me add,
   however, if anybody does abuse God's mercy, just as if any man abuses
   your practical kindness, it involves him in great guilt. Men cannot do
   despite to goodness without becoming exceedingly vile. You will soon
   see this if I mention one anecdote. In Holland, in the days when the
   Baptists were persecuted, it happened that the canals were frozen over
   and one poor despised Baptist escaped from a person who was seeking to
   drag him before the magistrates to get blood money for his head. He ran
   across the river, which was wide and frozen. The ice was strong enough
   to bear him and he got safely to the other shore.

   The person who was seeking his life was a heavier man and he slipped
   through the ice and went into the water. And what did this poor hunted
   Christian man do? He turned round and at the peril of his own life he
   helped his persecutor out and landed him on the bank. And what did the
   wretch do but seize him and drag him before the magistrates--and he was
   burnt as the result of his own act of generosity! There is not a man in
   the world who does not feel that the wretch

   deserves universal condemnation! Everybody denounces him at once. So
   if, after God's mercy to the unjust and the bad, they still go on to
   sin against Him I will leave the universal conscience of mankind to cry
   them down!

   I heard, the other day, an instance of a dog's returning good for evil
   and this places the matter in an equally strong light. A man had taken
   a dog with the intention of drowning him--a large Newfoundland dog. He
   went into a boat with a big stone intending to throw the dog out of the
   boat into the stream with the stone about his neck. Somehow or other,
   before he had securely tied the stone, the dog had become free and in
   some little scuffle between them the boat was upset and dog and man
   were both in the water. The man sank and was nearly drowned, but the
   dog, noble creature, swam up and seized hold of the man and drew him
   safely to shore.

   Now suppose he had drowned the dog after that! Did I hear some
   indignant person say, "Let him be drowned himself? He would not deserve
   to live, surely. I would take such a dog as that home and say, "While I
   have a crust, there shall be a bit for you, good dog who saved my life
   when I was destroying yours." Now, if even a dog, when it renders good
   for evil, gets a claim upon us, what shall I say of the great God who,
   with generous liberality, continues to feed and keep in life and health
   the undeserving sons of men? And who, more than this, has given His own
   Son to die and sent a message of amazing love to mankind, in which He
   says, "Come to Me: I am ready to forgive you. Come and accept My love
   and mercy. Let us be friends, for I delight to forgive sin"? Is it not
   clear that to abuse such love is black-hearted baseness? I beseech you,
   be not guilty of it!

   II. Now, secondly, we may gather fresh hope and encouragement from THE
   FACT ITSELF. When the sunlight comes upon a wicked man's field and the
   rain descends upon the farm of a blaspheming atheist, the man has done
   nothing to deserve either shower or sun, but yet they favor him. And,
   blessed be God, He gives His Grace to those who have done nothing to
   deserve it! If all your life long you cannot think of one good action
   you have ever performed, nevertheless the Grace of God is free to you
   if you will have it. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be
   saved" is preached to you--deserving and merit are out of the question!
   God gives freely even to the evil and the unjust!

   Showers and sunlight from Heaven come to those who have not sought them
   at the Lord's hands. That fool, there, never prayed for the sunlight.
   He does not believe in praying--not he! And that oppressor over yonder,
   that we spoke of, never asked God to send the rain--he said it was a
   matter of chance and he did not see the good of praying about it. Yet
   it came. And oh, what a wonder it is that God is often found of them
   that sought Him not! Persons have come into this Tabernacle and the
   last thing they thought of was that they would be saved that night--and
   yet they have been! God's infinite mercy sometimes comes to those who
   do not ask for it, according to the text, "I am found of them that
   sought Me

   not."

   Look at Colonel Gardiner. He had made a commitment and was about to
   perpetrate a gross act of vice, but the person whom he expected to meet
   had not come and, therefore, he had to wait an hour or two. While he
   waited he saw or thought he saw, a vision of the Savior who said to
   him, "I did all this for you, what have you done for Me?" That
   question, with the sight of the Lord Jesus Christ, by Divine Grace,
   changed his heart! He never kept that appointment but, as most of you
   know, he became one of the most devout Christians in the world! Oh,
   tell it the wide world over that as the rain tarries not for man, nor
   waits for the sons of men, but comes according to the good favor of
   God, so often does His Grace visit those who knew not God and sought
   not after Him! Let Him be praised and extolled forever and ever because
   of this.

   Now, if Grace sometimes comes to those who have not asked, do you not
   think that it will come to you who are asking for it? Oh you that are
   groaning for it, sighing for it and longing for it--do you think it
   will be denied to you? God forbid! He will be sure to bless you.
   Believe in the Lord Jesus and it is yours at once! The rain comes to
   those who do not even acknowledge the existence of God. It waters the
   atheist's fields and refreshes the pastures of the fool who says in his
   heart, "There is no God." Even so, I have known the Grace of God
   descend on those who have loudly denied His very existence. In our
   Church there is one, at least, who not long ago was a loud spokesman
   against God, but upon his dropping into this house, the Word came with
   power to his soul and again, and again, and again it described his
   case, till at last he said, "There is a God, for He has found me out.
   The preacher seems to know my case and character." Every time he came,
   something was said which so accurately described himself that he could
   not understand and interpret it in any other way than that God had
   spoken to his soul!

   Now, if God calls by His effectual Grace some that even doubt His
   existence, how much more will He look on you who have been made to
   tremble before Him and who desire to be reconciled to Him? Surely He
   will hear the cry of the humble and grant your penitent request! The
   Lord sends the rain to some that never thank Him for it. "A heavy
   shower, William," says the fool. "Yes, Sir," says his pious servant,
   "God be thanked for it." "I do not know much about that, William. I
   dare say the wind had a good deal to do with it. I knew it would come,
   for the glass was down." So he ends that talk. Yes, but, dear Friend,
   if God sends temporal blessings to those who do not thank Him, will He
   not give His Grace to those of you who feel that you would bless Him
   forever if He would but save you?

   A good woman said, when she sought the Lord, "If He saves me He shall
   never hear the last of it, for I will praise Him as long as ever I live
   and then to all eternity." Well, now, you may reckon quite surely that
   when a soul feels after that manner the Lord will not deny it the sun
   of His love, or the rain of His Grace! He gives rain even to those whom
   He knows will remain thankless--will He not give His Spirit to those
   who will become His grateful children? Remember, too, dear Friends,
   that God gives this rain and this sunshine year after year! If I were
   very kind to a man and he treated me unthankfully I should think that I
   had a good deal of Grace if I kept on being kind to him for a year. And
   supposing I kept on seven years, I fancy that I should think that I had
   endured a long enough trial of him and should get a little tired of
   being grieved by him--wouldn't you?

   Yet, look, God has sent sunshine and showers upon the fields of the
   wicked all their lives long! He has continued to be kind to them and He
   has not grown weary. Perhaps some of you are 50 years old and yet have
   never yielded to the love of God. Ah, you have been hearing sermons
   these 50 years. Perhaps you are getting on for 70 now. Why, you have
   heard tender words of love that went further than your ears and touched
   your conscience--but you have still held out against God! Oh, the
   patience of God to have borne with you from day to day! Now, if He has
   suffered you so long, and if tonight you turn to Him with purpose of
   heart and say, "I have had enough of this rebellion. Lord, I would be
   at peace with You," do you think that He will refuse you? Far from it!
   For His mercy endures forever!

   One more remark on this. The sunshine which you saw today, I do not
   doubt, was as bright a sunlight as that which Joshua saw when he bade
   the sun stand still. And the showers that fell the other day,
   especially as it fell in these quarters and at Brixton, I should say
   were quite as plentiful as any downpour which our grandsires can
   remember. It is evident that the sun's fire is not burnt out and that
   the clouds are not exhausted. Well, it is so in heavenly things, for
   there the eternal fullness dwells! God has as much love as ever and as
   much Grace as ever--and as a thousand years ago He poured forth His
   Grace to convert the bad and the unjust--He is just as able to pour
   them out now upon the most guilty and the most worthless.

   His Grace in conversion, pardon, adoption and preservation is as large
   as ever! Glory be to His blessed name, He still rains His bounties on
   the unjust! And that Christ who, when we were dead in sins, died for
   us, and who, while we were yet sinners, manifested His great love to
   us--that Christ who came into the world to save sinners--still abounds
   in power to save and bless! And if you will go to Him (and oh, may His
   Grace make you) you shall find it to is so!

   III. Lest I should weary you, I will finish with the last head, under
   which I should like to MAKE THE EARTH, THE

   FLOWERS AND THE TREES WHICH HAVE BEEN WATERED AND WARMED, SPEAK TO YOU
   A LITTLE.

   And, first, I will suppose, dear Friend, that you are here tonight and
   feel that you cannot pray--feel as if you could not come to God, could
   not do anything. The flowers say, "We are cheered by the sun and
   refreshed by the rain. We do nothing to deserve these blessings, but we
   do long for them." The little flowers say, "We do long for the rain."
   Look at them--they droop their heads during a long drought. See the
   grass, how brown it gets! See the leaves, how dry they are! See the
   earth, how chapped it is after a dry season.

   Now, Soul, do you long for the mercy of God? Do you pine for it, sigh
   for it, cry for it? God help you to do that! To be forgiven, to get the
   love of God shed abroad in your hearts--is not that worth having? Do
   pant for it, I say, as the flowers sigh for the rain and the sun! And
   next, the flowers seem to say, "Do turn to it." If you keep a plant in
   your window, see how it grows the way the sun comes! Notice the trees,
   how they put out their branches sunward. See the sunflower how it turns
   its head in the direction of the sun. The flowers love the sun! If you
   cannot do anything to get Divine Grace, at least turn your head that
   way! Look that way! Long that way! Grow that way! You will receive
   it--it will not be denied. It will come to you. It has already come to
   you if you have begun to turn to it with longing gaze!

   And then the flowers seem to say, "Drink it in when it does come." In
   January there was the crocus just peeping up from the soil and the sun
   shone on it and in gratitude it brought up from the deeps--from its
   cellar somewhere--a gold cup and set it out to catch the sunbeams till
   the sun smiled and graciously filled it to the brim! And have you
   noticed when the soft April showers fall, how the flowers seem, each,
   to have a cup to hold a share of Heaven's bounty? And certainly beneath
   the soil each flower has its little traveling rootlets sucking up each
   drop of moisture they can find. Now, dear Hearers, when Grace comes
   specially near to you, drink it in! Is the sermon blest to you? Do not
   go away and lose its influence! Do you feel some tender movements in
   your conscience? Yield to them! Is there an invitation? Accept it! Is
   there a threat? Tremble at it! Open your bosom and say, "Come in, my
   Savior, come in and reign and save my soul from the wrath to come."

   But then the flowers say, once more, "Do thank God for it." The last
   two or three days I have seemed to live in a temple! When I go into my
   garden I have a choir around me in the trees. They do not wear
   surplices, for their song is not artificial and official. Some of them
   are clothed in glossy black, but they sing like little angels! They
   sing the sun up and wake me at break of day. And they warble on till
   the last red ray of the sun has departed, still singing out from bush
   and tree the praises of their God! And all the flowers--the primroses
   that are almost gone--these bring into my heart deep meanings
   concerning God till the last one shuts his eyes. And now the
   forget-me-nots and the wallflowers and the lilacs and the guilder roses
   and a host of sweet beauties are pouring out their incense of perfume,
   as if they said, "Thank the God that made us! Blessed be His name! The
   earth is full of His goodness!"

   Now, dear Hearers, if you get the Lord's Grace, thank Him for it. Grow
   by it, blossom with it, be fragrant with it. If you only receive a
   little Grace, be very grateful for it, for a little Grace is worth a
   great deal. If God gives you Grace enough to be called starlight, thank
   Him for it and He will give you moonlight! And when you get moonlight
   Grace, thank Him for it and He will give you sunlight! And when you
   have obtained sunlight Grace, thank Him for it and He will give you the
   light of Heaven which is as the light of seven days!

   Lastly--and this the flowers cannot teach you, because the flowers
   cannot do it--pray for Grace. It will come. It will come! Do you
   remember George Herbert's pretty verse. With that I will finish. He
   says--

   "The dew does every morning fall-- And shall the dew outstrip Your
   Dove? The dew for which grass cannot call-- Drops from above."

   See his point? The dew comes every morning. The grass cannot ask for
   it, but it comes. And shall the dew be more free and swift than the
   Holy Spirit? No, says the poet--I can pray for that holy Dove--will He
   not come to me, who prays, since the dew comes to the grass which
   cannot call for it? Behold He visits the earth and waters it with the
   river of God which is full of water and flings back the curtains of the
   sky and bids the sun shine out with genial face upon the poor dead
   soil! And if He does all this for the fields that cannot pray and for
   flowers that cannot speak, how much more will He do it for you who seek
   His face through Jesus Christ?!

   Come, then, to Him! He will gladly welcome you. Come and trust His Son.
   Come and rest in the merit of Jesus' blood and you shall find eternal
   life! May God bless you all, for Jesus' sake. Amen.