‘Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.’ Isaiah 54:1
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 3:1–6
I question if hell can find a more fitting instrument within its infernal lake than the church of Rome is for the cause of mischief. And your church will in its measure be the same if bereft of the Spirit. I do not care if it be Wesleyan, Baptist, Independent, or what it is; when the life is gone it becomes henceforth good for nothing; it is not even fit to manure the ground, as the contents of the dunghill are, but men cast it out and tread it under foot. Get conscious of that, and then let those of you who are humbled in the sight of God meet together and spread the case before the Lord. We ought to have great faith in the power of the twos and threes, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,’ says the Lord. The long thin red line, which has often won the battle, will yet win it in England—I mean the thin line of the few that sigh and cry for the desolations of the church. If you, my brother, an earnest man, be the only member of the church that does really sigh and cry before God, God intends to bless that church yet, for he has already blessed it in sending you to it. Look out for others of a kindred sort, and without murmuring, without raising divisions, without seeking to expel the minister or make any changes in the discipline, just you set to work, and pray down, as Elijah did, the fire from heaven upon the sacrifice. This is the one thing which is wanted. The wrong in organisation, the mistakes in government, the unfitness of the church officers—all this will come right enough if you once get the divine life; but without this, though you should rectify everything else, you would have done but little to any real purpose.
For meditation: Believers should be ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:13–14), but a church can lose its way and need some members to be the salt and light of the church (Mark 9:50). Are you having to do that? God knows (Revelation 3:4).
Sermon no. 649
10 September (1865)