Read Matt. xi. 28, 29
I wish to call your attention to eight "I wills" of Christ.
1. The first one you will find in Matthew xi. 28: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and
I WILL GIVE YOU REST.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Now I never met a person that did not want rest. That man or woman is not living on the face of the earth that doesn't want rest. We read of the rich man that was going to pull down his barns and build larger, saying to his soul, "Take thine ease, there is plenty laid up in store, so now take thy rest." Merchants toil day and night to amass money, in order that they may get rest. Men leave their families and friends and go round the world to earn money, in the hope that they may get rest. Sailors plough the sea, and are away from home for months to get money, in order that it may bring them rest. In fact, if rest could be bought in the market, there are many hundreds in London who would be paying a very high price for it; but though money can't buy it, nevertheless by believing the word of God you can get it without money and without price. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and
I will give you rest." Now when
we say "we will," it doesn't mean much very often. Perhaps we don't intend to keep our word when we say we will do a thing; or if we do mean to keep it, we very often fail for want of ability to make our promise good. But bear in mind, God never breaks His promise; He never makes a mistake; He never fails to fulfil His word. And the words I have read may be relied on; for they are not the words of man, but of the Son of God--"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
This tells us of the only place where we can find rest. There is no other place where a man can by any possibility find rest for his soul. Bear this in mind: it is not coming to some creed, it is not coming to some particular church, or to some particular doctrine, but to Christ. "Come unto
Me." It is the coming to a personal Christ that alone gives peace and rest to the soul.
Now, in John xiv. 27, there is a promise which is very precious to me. Christ says, "Peace I leave with you"; I am going away, but I am not going to take away My peace from you; that I leave behind Me. "My peace I give unto you." Mark that little expression "My
peace"--"My peace I give unto you." A good many people look for their peace from worldly sources, but when they do find it they don't get much out of it, for the devil can play on men's feelings as men play on a harp, and can delude them into almost anything. But if we go to Christ for it, we do get what we want, we get rest for the soul, and until we do go to Him we shall never get it.
There are a good many things which disturb our peace; but nothing can disturb the peace of God. You might take this little island, and throw it right into the Atlantic, and it would make a great stir and commotion in this world, but I don't think that God would be moved on His eternal throne by it; it would not disturb Him in the heavens, high and lifted up above all the earth. Let us have the peace of God, and then we shall have rest.
Again He says, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you." Christ's joy, not our own joy. When we come to a personal Christ, and our souls are stayed on Him, then we get rest, and peace, and joy. That is a rest that nothing can disturb; that is peace that flows on like a river; that is joy for evermore.
2. Now, the next "I will" is in John vi. 37. I can imagine some of you people saying, "Ah, if I were only good enough to come, I would come, and get this rest, and peace, and joy." But if you will read the verse I am speaking of, you will find it says, "Him that cometh to Me
I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT."
Surely that is broad enough--is it not? I don't care who the man or woman is; I don't care what your trials, what your troubles, what your sorrows, or what your sins are, if you will only come straight to the Master, He will not cast you out. Come then, poor sinner; come just as you are, and take Him at His word.
There was a wild and prodigal young man who came into one of our meetings. He was running a headlong career to ruin, but the Spirit of God got hold of him. Whilst I was conversing with him, and endeavouring to bring him to Christ, I quoted this verse to him. I held it right up to him, and led his mind right up to it, for some time, and at last light seemed to break in upon him, and he seemed to find comfort from it, so I told him to stick to that verse. Well, after he had left, on his way home the devil met him. Why, I don't believe that any man ever starts to go to Christ but the devil strives somehow or other to meet him and trip him up. And even after he has come to Christ the devil comes, and tries to assail him with doubts, and make him believe there is something wrong in it. And so this young man was met by Satan, who whispered to him, "How do you know that is a right translation?" So that brought him for a while to a standstill, and threw him into darkness again. But he remembered my telling him to stick to that text, and there he was, after Satan had put that into his mind, holding on to it, but he did not find peace till two o'clock. He then said to himself, "I will stick to it anyhow, and if it is not the right translation, when I get to the bar of God I will tell Him I didn't know it was wrong, because I didn't understand anything about Greek and Latin." "Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out." If you will only come to Him, I have got good authority to tell you that Christ will receive you to-day--yea, this very hour.
The kings and princes of this world, when they issue invitations, call round them the rich, the mighty and powerful, the honourable and the wise; but the Lord, when He was on earth, called round Him the vilest of the vile. "This man," they said, "receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." Publicans, sinners, and harlots pressed into the kingdom of God in His days.
THIS MAN RECEIVETH SINNERS.
Here in London there is no society that would have such a man as John Bunyan once was in their company; yet the Lord saved him, and welcomed him into His kingdom. Here is some poor miserable drunkard cast out by his father and mother, and deserted by all his friends, but the Lord has received him. I have known some of the most miserable outcasts that were ever seen, cast out and despised by everybody, and yet the Lord has received them. Take Him then at His word to-day, and accept His invitation, "Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out."
But you say I must just get rid of my sins first, and then I will come to Him. Why, that's just like a man dying of the scarlet fever saying, "Oh, I'll wait till I get rid of the fever before I send for a doctor!" Why, it is just because you are a sinner, and cannot get rid of your sins, that you need a Saviour. If I was dying for want of bread, it would be just as reasonable for me to say, "When I have got rid of this hunger, then I will begin to eat." It is because I am hungry that I need to eat, and it is because we are sinners that we need Christ. It is because a man is sick that he needs a physician, and Christ is the Physician of the soul.
3. In Luke v. we read of the leper coming to Christ, and the Lord said unto him,
"I WILL: BE THOU CLEAN."
And immediately the leprosy left him. That's another
I will I want to call your attention to. Now, if there is any man or woman here full of the leprosy of sin, if you will but go to the Master and tell all your case to Him, He will speak to you as He did to that poor leper, and say, "I will: be thou clean," and the leprosy of your sins will flee away from you. It is the Lord, and the Lord alone, that can forgive sins. There is His word, just look it right over, "I will: be thou clean," and then put that with the other verse, "Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out."
THE DEVIL'S CASTAWAYS.
One day when Whitfield was preaching, he said the Lord was so anxious to save souls that He would take in the devil's castaways. Lady Huntingdon remonstrated with him, and said he ought not to make such statements. A little while after, however, there came to his preaching a poor fallen woman, an outcast from society. She was labouring under deep conviction of sin, and before long she found peace in her Saviour, and was received right into the kingdom of God. Now if there is a poor sinner here, let him take this one verse, and then keep in his mind that poor leper coming to Christ. The law forbade him to come, but Christ is above the law. "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ."
Now, you can make a wonderful exchange to-day. You can have health in the place of sickness; you can get rid of everything that is vile and hateful in the sight of God. The Son of God comes down, and says, "I will take away your leprosy, and give you health in its stead. I will take away that terrible disease that is ruining your body and soul, and give you my righteousness in its stead. I will clothe you with the garments of salvation." Is it not a wonderful thing? That's what He means when He says
I will. Oh, lay hold of this "I will!"
4. Now turn to Matthew x. 32: "Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father which is in heaven." There's the
"I WILL" OF CONFESSION.
Now, that's the next thing that takes place after a man is saved. We have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and the next thing is to get our mouths opened. We have to confess Christ here in this dark world, and tell His love to others. We are not to be ashamed of the Son of God.
A man thinks it a great honour when he has achieved a victory that causes his name to be mentioned in Parliament, or in the presence of the Queen and her court. A very great honour. And in China, we read, the highest ambition of the successful soldier is to have his name written in the palace or temple of Confucius. But just think of having your name mentioned in the kingdom of heaven by the Prince of Glory, by the Son of God, because you confess Him here on earth. You confess Him here; He will confess you yonder. If you wish to be brought into the clear light of liberty, you must take your stand on Christ's side. I have known many Christians go groping about in darkness, and never get into the clear light of the kingdom, because they were ashamed to confess the Son of God. Don't be ashamed, Christians, to let your friends, and even your enemies, know that you are on God's side.
5. The next I will is the
"I WILL" OF SERVICE.
There are a good many Christians here, I believe, that have been quickened and aroused to say, "I want to do some service for Christ." Well, Christ says, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." There is no Christian who cannot help to bring some one to the Saviour. Christ says, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me"; and our business is just to lift up Christ, and live to Him. You may go on preaching like the angel Gabriel; but if you live like a devil, your preaching goes for nothing. I do not care how eloquent you are, and what beautiful language you use, your preaching goes for nothing. It is no good following this man or that man; follow Christ, and Him only. He says, I will make you fishers of men.
PETER HAD A GOOD HAUL ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.
I doubt if he ever caught so many fish in one day as he did men on that day of Pentecost. Why, it would have broken every net they had on board, if they had had to drag up three thousand fishes.
Our Lord said, "Follow Me, Peter, and I will make you a fisher of men"; and Peter simply obeyed Him, and there, on that day of Pentecost, we see the result.
But there is one reason, and a great reason, why so many do not succeed. I have been asked by a great many good men, "Why is it we don't have any results? We work hard, pray hard, and preach hard, and yet the success does not come." I will tell you. It is because a good many people spend all their time mending their nets. No wonder they never catch anything.
But the great matter is to hold inquiry meetings, and thus pull the net in, and see if you have caught anything. If you are always mending and setting the net, you won't catch many fish. Whoever heard of a man going out to fish, and setting his net, and then letting it stop there, and never pulling it in? Why, everybody would laugh at the man's folly.
There was a minister in Manchester who came to me one day, and said, "I wish you would tell me why we ministers don't succeed better than we do." So I brought before him this idea of pulling in the net, and I said, You ought to pull in your nets. I said there are many ministers in Manchester who can preach much better than I can, but then I pull in the net. Many people have objections to inquiry meetings, but I urged upon him the importance of them, and the minister said, "I never did pull in the net; I will try next Sunday." He did so, and eight persons, anxious inquirers, went into his study. The next Sunday he came down to see me, and said he had never had such a Sunday in his life. He had met with marvellous blessing. The next time he drew the net there were forty, and when he came to see me at the Opera House the other day, he said to me joyfully, "Moody, I have had eight hundred conversions this last year! It is a great mistake I did not begin earlier to pull in the net." So, my friends, if you want to catch men,
JUST PULL IN THE NET.
If you only catch one, it will be something. It may be a little child, but I have known a little child convert a whole family. Why, you don't know what's in that little dull-headed boy in the inquiry-room; he may become a Martin Luther, a reformer that shall make the world tremble--you cannot tell. God uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty. God's promise is as good as a Bank of England note--"I promise to pay So-and-so," and here is one of Christ's promissory notes--"If you will follow Me, I will make you fishers of men." Will you not lay hold of the promise, and trust it, and follow Him now?
But then, if you wish to catch men, you must use a little--what shall I say?--
That's the plain English of it. If a man preaches the gospel, and preaches it faithfully, he ought to expect results then and there. But after he has proclaimed the glad tidings, let him have an inquiry meeting, and, if necessary, a second meeting, and go to the people's houses and talk and pray with them, and in that way hundreds will be brought to God. I believe it is the privilege of God's children to reap the fruit of their labour three hundred and sixty-five days in the year.
"Well, but," say some, "is there not a sowing time as well as harvest?" Yes, it is true, there is; but then, you can sow with one hand, and reap with the other. What would you think of a farmer who went on sowing all the year round, and never thought of reaping? I repeat it, we want to sow with one hand, and reap with the other; and if we look for the fruit of our labours, we shall see it. "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me." We must lift Christ up, and then seek men out, and bring them to Him. Then, again, you must use the right kind of bait. A good many people don't do this, and then they wonder they are not successful. You see them getting up all kinds of entertainments with which to try and catch men. They go the wrong way to work. I will tell you what this perishing world wants: it wants
CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED.
There's a void in every man's bosom that wants filling up, and if we only approach them with the right kind of bait we shall catch them. This poor world needs a Saviour; and if we are going to be successful in catching men, we must preach Christ crucified--not His life only, but His death. And if we are only faithful in doing this we shall succeed. And why? Because there is His promise: "If you follow Me, I will make you fishers of men." And that promise holds just as good to you and me as it did to His disciples, and is as true now as it was in their time. "They that are wise shall shine like the sun in the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever." Think then of the exalted privilege of turning one soul to Christ. You set a stream in motion that shall go on running for ages after you are gone. "Blessed are they that die in the Lord; for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them."
PAUL AND HIS WRITINGS.
Think of Paul up yonder. Why people are going up every day and every hour, the men and women that have been brought to Christ through his writings. He set streams in motion that have flowed on for more than a thousand years. I can imagine men going up there and saying, "Paul, I thank thee for writing that letter to the Ephesians; I found Christ in that." "Paul, I thank thee for writing that epistle to the Corinthians." "Paul, I found Christ in that epistle to the Philippians." "I thank thee, Paul, for that epistle to the Galatians; I found Christ in that." And so, I suppose, they are going up still, thanking Paul all the while for what he had done. Ah, when Paul was put in prison he did not fold his hands and sit down in idleness. No, he began to write; and his epistles have come down through the long ages of time, and brought thousands on thousands to a knowledge of Christ crucified. Yes, Christ said to Paul, "I will make thee a fisher of men if thou wilt follow Me," and he has been fishing for souls ever since. The devil thought he had done a very wise thing when he got Paul into prison, but he was very much mistaken; he overdid it for once. I have no doubt Paul has thanked God ever since for that Philippian gaol, and his stripes and imprisonment there. I am sure the world has made more by it than we shall ever know till we get to heaven.
6. We find the next "I will" is in John xiv. 18:
"I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU COMFORTLESS."
To me it is a sweet thought, that Christ has not left us alone in this dark wilderness here below. Although He has gone up on high, and taken His seat by the Father's throne, He has not left us. The better translation is, "I will not leave you orphans." He did not leave Joseph when they cast him into prison. "God was with him." When Daniel was cast into the den of lions, they had to put the Almighty in with him. They were so bound together that they could not be separated, and so God went down into the den of lions with Daniel.
If we have got Christ with us we can do all things. Do not let us be thinking how weak we are. Let us lift up our eyes to Him, and think of Him as our Elder Brother, who has all power given to Him in heaven and on earth. He says: "Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the world." Some of our children and friends leave us, and it is a very sad hour when some member of our family goes to a distant country--perhaps to Australia. But, thank God, the believer and Christ shall never be separated. He is with us here, and we shall be with Him in person by and by. We shall be with Him, and see Him in His beauty by and by. But not only is He with us, but He has sent us the Holy Ghost, who will tell us all things. Let us honour the Holy Ghost by acknowledging that He is here in our midst. He has got power to give sight to the blind, liberty to the captive, and to open the ears of the deaf that they may hear the glorious words of the gospel.
7. Then there is another I will in John vi. 40; it occurs four times in the chapter: "I will raise him up at the last day."
THE "I WILL" OF RESURRECTION.
To me it is a very sweet thought to think that I have a Saviour who has power over death. My blessed Master holds the keys of death and hell. I pity the poor unbeliever and the poor infidel. They have no hope in resurrection. But every child of God can open that chapter and read the promise, and his heart ought to leap within him for joy as he reads it. You know the tradesman generally puts the best specimen of his wares in the window to show us the quality of his stock. And so, when Christ was down here, He gave us a specimen of what He could do. He just raised three from the dead, that we might know what power He had. There was (1) Jairus's daughter, (2) the widow's son, and (3) Lazarus of Bethany. He raised all three of them, so that every doubt might be swept away from our hearts. How dark and gloomy this world would be if we had no hope in the resurrection; but now, when we lay our little children down in the grave, although it is in sorrow, it is not without hope. We have seen them pass away, we have seen them in the terrible struggle with death; but there has been one star to illumine the darkness and gloom--the thought, that though the happy circle has been broken on earth, it shall be completed again in yon world of heavenly light. You that have lost a loved one rejoice as you read that "I will." Those that have died in Christ shall come forth again by and by. The darkness shall flee away, and the morning light of the resurrection shall dawn upon us. It is only a little while, and He that has said it shall come, His voice shall be heard in the grave--"I will raise him up at the last day." Precious promise! precious
8. Now, the next I will is in John xvii. 24: "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am."
THE "I WILL" OF GLORY.
That was in His last prayer in the guest-chamber, on the last night before He was crucified and died that terrible death on Calvary. I see some here whose countenances begin to light up at the thought that they shall be with the King in His beauty by and by. Yes; there is a glorious day before us in the future. Some think that on the first day they are converted they have got everything. To be sure, we get salvation for the past, and peace for the present; but then there is the glory for the future. That's what kept Paul rejoicing. He said, "These light afflictions, these few stripes, these few brickbats and stones that they throw at me--why, the glory that is beyond excels them so much that I count them as nothing, nothing at all, so that I may win Christ." And so, when things go against us, let us cheer up; let us remember that the night will soon pass away, and the morning dawn upon us.
DEATH NEVER COMES THERE.
It is banished from that heavenly land. Sickness, and pain, and sorrow come not there to mar that grand and glorious home where we shall be by and by with the Master. God's family will be all together there. Glorious future, my friends! Yes, glorious day! and it may be a great deal nearer than many of us think. During these few dark days we are here, let us stand steadfast and firm, and by and by we shall be in the unbroken circle in yon world of light, and have the King in our midst.
THE SINNER'S "I WILL."
And now there is just one I will that I want you to say, and that is the
I will of the sinner. You have got the eight "I wills" of Christ: (1) He will give us rest; (2) He will not cast out the vilest, but will receive all that come; (3) He will make us clean; (4) He will confess us as His; (5) He will make us successful winners of souls; (6) He will not leave us comfortless; (7) He will raise us up at the last day; and (8) He wills that we be with Him in glory.
And now I want sinners to say,
"I WILL ARISE, AND GO TO MY FATHER."
Who will say it this afternoon? Who will come to God as the poor prodigal did? I can see him now. Perhaps he is looking over those blue hills; and away in the distance he can see the home he has left, and he knows that there's a loving father, a grey-headed man there; and he says, I perish here in a foreign land, while there is bread enough and to spare in that home which I have left; "I will arise, and go to my father." That was the turning-point in his life. That was a glorious thing to do, was it not, sinner?
When Mr. Spurgeon preached the other day in the West End, he summed up the things his audience had got over. Some of you, he said, have got over the prayers of faithful Sabbath-school teachers who used to weep over you, and come to the house and talk to you. You resisted all their entreaties, and got over their influence. And you have got over your mother's tears and prayers, and she, perhaps, sleeps in the grave to-day; you have got over the tears and prayers of your father and of your minister, who has prayed with you and wept with you, a godly, faithful minister. There was a time when his sermons got right hold of you, but you have got over them now, and his sermons make no impression on you; you have been through special meetings, and they have made no impression on you, they have not touched you. Still, you say, you are getting on. Well, so you are; but bear in mind, you are getting on as fast as you can to hell, and there is not one man in ten thousand who can hope to be saved after he has grown so hard-hearted.
Oh, my friends, say I will arise to-day! Let there be joy in heaven to-day over your return. We read in Luke xv., "There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth." May many return now, and live.
I am lost, and yet I know, Earth can never heal my woe I will rise at once and go, Jesus died for me.