Note: This sermon is one of Charles Spurgeon's most famous sermons. It offers a good example of the kind of motivational exhortation that preachers ought to aspire to in their sermons. Most of all, Spurgeon shows us passion. He clearly cares about what he is saying and he will press it upon the listener.
Songs in the Night
C. H. SPURGEON
sometime in the mid to late 1800’s
Copyright 2004 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied,
printed out, and distributed as
long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.
Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, ©1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio CD: www.gospelgems.com
“No one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night.” [Job 35:10]
Elihu was a wise
man, very wise, though not as wise as Jehovah, who finds order in confusion; therefore
Elihu, being very puzzled at seeing the afflictions of Job, studied him to find
the cause of it, and he very wisely hit upon one of the most likely reasons,
although it did not happen to be the right one in Job's case. He said within
himself—“Surely, if men are tested, and tried, and extremely troubled, it is
because, while they think about their troubles and distress themselves about
their fears, they don’t say, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the
night?’” Elihu's reason was right in the majority of cases. The great cause of
the Christian's distress, the reason for the depths of sorrow into which many
believers are plunged, is simply this—that while they are looking around, on
the right hand and on the left, to see how they may escape their troubles, they
forget to look to the hills where all real help comes from; they don’t say, “Where
is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?” We will, however, leave that question,
and dwell on those sweet words, “God my Maker, who gives songs in the night.”
The world has its night. It seems necessary that it should have one. The sun shines in the day, and men go out to their labors; but they grow weary, and nightfall comes, like a sweet blessing from heaven. The darkness draws the curtains, and shuts out the light, which might prevent our eyes from slumber; while the sweet, calm stillness of the night permits us to rest on our beds, and there forget for a while our cares, until the morning sun appears, and an angel puts his hand on the curtain, and draws it open once again, touches our eyelids, and commands us to rise, and proceed to the labors of the day.
Night is one of the greatest blessings men and women enjoy; we have many reasons to thank God for it. Yet night is, to many, a gloomy time. There is “the pestilence that stalks in darkness;” there is “the terror by night;” there is the dread of robbers and of sudden disease, with all those fears that the timid know when they have no light with which they can discern objects. It is then they imagine that spiritual creatures walk the earth; though, if they really knew the truth, they would find it to be true, that— “Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth, unseen, both when we sleep and when we are awake,” and that at all times they are all around us—not more by night than by day.
Night is the time
of terror and alarm to most men and women. Yet even night has its songs. Have
you ever stood by the seaside at night, and heard the pebbles sing, and the
waves chant God's glories? Or have you never risen from your bed, and opened
your bedroom window, and listened? Listened to what? Silence—except now and
then a murmuring sound, which seems like sweet music. And have you not imagined
that you heard the harp of God playing in heaven? Didn’t you conceive, that the
distant stars, those eyes of God, looking down on you, were also lips of
song—that every star was singing God's glory, singing, as it shone, its mighty
Maker, and his lawful, well-deserved praise? Night has its songs. We don’t need
much poetry in our spirit, to catch the song of the night, and hear the planets
and stars as they chant praises which are loud to the heart, though they are
silent to the ear—the praises of the mighty God, who holds up the arch of
heaven, and moves the stars in their courses.
Man, too, like the great world in which he lives, must have his night. For it is true that man is like the world around him; he is a little world; he resembles the world in almost every thing; and if the world has its night, so has man. And we have many a night—nights of sorrow, nights of persecution, nights of doubt, nights of bewilderment, nights of anxiety, nights of oppression, nights of ignorance—nights of all kinds, which press upon our spirits and terrify our souls. But, blessed be God, the Christian can say, “My God gives me songs in the night.”
It’s not necessary to prove to you that Christians have nights; for if you are Christians, you will find that you have them, and you will not need any proof, for nights will come quite often enough. I will, therefore, proceed at once to the subject; and I will speak this evening on songs in the night, their source—God gives them; songs in the night, their subject—what do we sing about in the night? Songs in the night, their excellence—they are enthusiastic songs, and they are sweet ones; songs in the night, their uses—their benefits to ourselves and others.
I. First, songs in the night—WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF THEM? “God,” says the text, our “Maker:” he “gives songs in the night.”
Any one can sing in the day. When the cup is full, one draws inspiration from it; when wealth rolls in abundance around them, any one can sing to the praise of a God who gives an abundant harvest. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but the skillful singer is the one who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by—who sings from their heart, and not from a book that they can see, because they have no means of reading, except from that inward book of their living spirit, where notes of gratitude pour out in songs of praise. No one can create a song in the night by themselves; they may attempt it, but they will learn how difficult it is. Let all things go as I please—I will weave songs, weave them wherever I go, with the flowers that grow along my path; but put me in a desert, where there are no flowers, and how will I weave a chorus of praise to God? How will I make a crown for him? Let this voice be free, and this body be full of health, and I can sing God's praise; but stop this tongue, lay me on the bed of suffering, and it is not so easy to sing from the bed, and chant high praises in the fires. Give me the bliss of spiritual liberty, and let me mount up to my God, get near the throne, and I will sing, yes, sing as sweet as angels; but confine me, chain my spirit, clip my wings, make me very sad, so that I become old like the eagle—ah! then it is hard to sing. It is not in our power to sing, when everything is difficult. It is not natural to sing in times of trouble—“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name:” for that is a daylight song. But it was a divine song which Habakkuk sang, when in the night he said— “Though the fig tree does not bud…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” [Habakkuk 3:17-18]. I think while walking through the Red Sea any Israelite could have sang a song like that of Moses—“The horse and his rider has he hurled into the sea;” the difficulty would have been, to compose a song before the Red Sea had been divided, and to sing it before Pharaoh's army had been drowned, while yet the darkness of doubt and fear was resting on the people of Israel. Songs in the night come only from God; they are not in the power of man.
But what does the text mean, when it asserts that God gives songs in the night? We think we find two answers to that question.
1. The first is, that usually in the night of a Christian's experience God is his only song.
If it is daylight in my heart, I can sing songs touching my graces—songs touching my sweet experience—songs touching my duties—songs touching my labors; but let the night come—my graces appear to have withered; my evidences, though they are there, are hidden; I can not clearly read my title to my mansion in heaven. And now I have nothing left to sing of but my God. It is strange, that when God gives his children mercies, they normally set their hearts more on the mercies than on the Giver of them; but when the night comes, and he sweeps all the mercies away, then right away they say, “Now, my God, I have nothing to sing of but you; I must come to you; and to you only. I had wells once; they were full of water; I drank from them then; but now the wells are dry; sweet Lord, I drink nothing but your own self, I drink from no fountain but yours.” Yes, child of God, you know what I am saying; or if you don’t understand it yet, you will in time. It is in the night that we sing of God and of God alone. Every string is tuned, and ever power has its attribute to sing, while we praise God, and nothing else. We can sacrifice to ourselves in the daylight—we only sacrifice to God at night; we can sing high praises to our dear selves when everything is joyful, but we can not sing praise to any except our God, when circumstances are troublesome, and providences appear adverse. God alone can furnish us with songs in the night.
2. And yet again: not only does God give the song in the night, because he is the only subject on which we can sing then, but because he is the only one who inspires songs in the night.
When a poor, depressed,
distressed child of God comes to our church: I come into the pulpit, I seek to
tell him sweet promises, and whisper to him sweet words of comfort; he doesn’t listen
to me; he is like the deaf snake, he does not listen to the voice of the
charmer. Send him around to all the comforting preachers and they will do very
little—they will not be able to squeeze a song out of him, no matter how hard
they try. He is drinking the bitterness of suffering; he says, “O Lord, you have
made me drunk with weeping, I have eaten ashes like bread;” and comfort him as
you may, it will be only a woeful note or two of mournful resignation that you
will get from him; you will get no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, and no
sonnets. But let God come to his child in the night, let him whisper in his ear
as he lies on his bed, and how you see his eyes flash fire in the night! Don’t you
hear him say,—
“It is paradise, if you are here;
If you depart, it is hell”
I could not have cheered him: it is God that has done it; and God “gives songs in the night.” It is marvelous; brothers and sisters, how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and that golden promise last for weeks. I can testify; I have lived on one promise for weeks, and need no other. I only want to hammer that promise out into gold-leaf, and plate my whole existence with joy from it. The Christian gets his songs from God: God gives him inspiration, and teaches him how to sing: “God my Maker, who gives songs in the night.”
So, then, poor
Christian, you needn’t go pumping up your poor heart to make it glad. Go to your
Maker, and ask him to give you a song in the night. You are a poor dry well: you
have heard it said, that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first
of all, to prime the pump, and then you will get some up; and so, Christian,
when you are dry, go to God, ask him to pour some joy down you, and then you
will get some joy up from your own heart. Don’t go to this comforter or to that
one, for you will find them Job's comforters, after all; but go first and
foremost to your Maker, for he is the great composer of songs and teacher of
music; he is the One who can teach you how to sing: “God, my Maker, who gives
me songs in the night.”
II. Thus we have dwelt upon the first point. Now the second: WHAT IS THE NORMAL SUBJECT OF A SONG IN THE NIGHT? What do we sing about?
Why, I think, when we sing in the night, there are three things we sing about. Either we sing about yesterday that is over, or else about the night itself, or else about tomorrow that is to come. Each of these are sweet themes, when God our Maker gives us songs in the night.
1. In the midst of the night the most usual subject for Christians to sing about is the day that is over.
“Well,” they say, “it is night now, but I can remember when it was daylight. Neither moon nor stars appear at present; but I can remember when I saw the sun. I have no evidence right now; but there was a time when I could say, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’ I have my doubts and fears at this present moment; but it has not been long since I could say, with full assurance, ‘I know that he shed his blood for me; I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God’” [Job 19:25-26].
It may be
darkness now; but I know the promises were sweet; I know I had blessed
seasons in his church. I am quite sure of this; I used to enjoy myself in the
ways of the Lord; and though now my paths are strewn with thorns, I know it is
the King's highway. It was a way of pleasantness once; it will be a way of pleasantness
again. ‘I will remember the days of old; I will meditate upon the years at the
right hand of the Most High.’” Christian, perhaps the best song you can sing,
to cheer you in the night, is the song of yesterday morning. Remember, it was
not always night with you: night is a new thing to you. Once you had a joyful
heart, a buoyant spirit; once your eye was full of fire; once your foot was
light; once you could sing with joy and ecstasy of heart. Well, then, remember
that God, who made you sing yesterday, has not left you in the night. He is not
a daylight God, who can’t know his children in darkness; but he loves you now
as much as ever: though he has left you for a little while, it is to make you
trust him better, and serve him more. Let me tell you some of the sweet things
a Christian can sing about when he is in the night.
If we are going to sing of the things of yesterday, let us begin with what God did for us in the past. My beloved brothers and sisters, you will find it a sweet subject for song at times, to begin to sing of electing love and covenant mercies. When you yourself are low, it is good to sing of the fountain-head of mercy; of that blessed decree in which you were ordained to eternal life, and of that glorious Son of Man who undertook your redemption; of that solemn covenant signed, and sealed, and ratified; of that everlasting love which, before the universe was created, chose you, loved you firmly, loved you completely, loved you well, loved you eternally. I tell you, believer, if you can go back to the years of eternity past; if you can in your mind run back to the years of eternity past; if you can in your mind run back to that period before the universe was created, and if you can see your God writing your name in his eternal Book;—if you can read in his loving heart eternal thoughts of love to you, you will find this a charming means of giving you songs in the night. There are no songs, like those which come from electing love; no love songs like those that are dictated by meditations on discriminating mercy. Some, indeed, cannot sing of election: Oh Lord, open their mouths a little wider! There are some that are afraid of the very term. In our darker hours it is our joy to sing:
“We are God’s children through God's
Who in Jesus Christ believe;
By eternal destination,
Sovereign grace we now receive.
Lord, your favor,
Will both grace and glory give.”
Think, Christian, of yesterday, I say, and you will receive a song in the night. But if you don’t have a voice tuned to so high a key as that, let me suggest some other mercies you may sing of; and they are the mercies you have experienced. Can’t you sing a little of that blessed hour when Jesus met you; when, as a blind slave, you were sporting with death, and he saw you, and said: “Come, poor slave, come with me?” Can’t you sing of that rapturous moment when he broke your chains, and threw them to the earth, and said: “I am the Breaker; I came to break your chains, and set you free?” Even though you are so gloomy now, can you forget that happy Sunday morning, when in church your voice was loud, almost like an angel’s voice, in praise? For you could sing: “I am forgiven! I am forgiven:”
“A monument of grace,
A sinner saved by blood.”
Go back, brother and sister, sing of that moment, and then you will have a song in the night. Or if you have almost forgotten that, then surely you have some precious milestone along the road of life that is not quite grown over with moss, on which you can read some happy inscription of his mercy towards you! Did you ever have a sickness like that which you are suffering now, and didn’t he raise you up from that? Were you ever poor before, and didn’t he supply your needs? Were you ever in trouble before, and didn’t he deliver you? Come!, I beseech you, go to the river of your experience, and pull up some pieces of grass, and weave them into an ark, where your infant faith may safely float on the stream. I beg you not to forget what God has done. Find your diary? I beg you; look into the book of your remembrance. Can’t you see some sweet moment with Christ? Can’t you think of some blessed hour when the Lord met with you? Have you never been rescued from the lion’s den? Have you never escaped the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear? No? O, I know you have; go back, then, a little way, and take the mercies of yesterday; and though it is dark now, light up the lamps of yesterday, and they will glitter through the darkness, and you will find that God has given you a song in the night.
“Yes,” says one, “but you know, that when we are in the dark, we cannot see the mercies God has given us. It is easy for you to tell us this; but we cannot get a hold of them.” I remember an old Christian speaking about the great pillars of our faith; he was a sailor; we were on board ship, and there were a number of huge posts on the shore, to which the ships were usually fastened, by throwing a cable over them. After I had told him a great many promises, he said, “I know they are good strong promises, but I cannot get near enough to shore to throw my cable around them; that is the problem. Now, it often happens that God’s past mercies and kindness would be good strong posts to hold on to, but we don’t have enough faith to throw our cable around them, and so we go slipping down the stream of unbelief, because we can’t secure ourselves by our former mercies.
I will, however, give you something that I think you can throw your cable over. If God has never been kind to you, one thing you surely know, and that is, he has been kind to others. Come, now; if you are experiencing great trials right now, then you can be sure that there were others with greater trials. Are you in a more serious situation than Jonah was, when he went sinking down to the bottom of the ocean? Are you worse off than your Master, when he had no place where he could lay his head? Do you conceive that you are in the worst of the worst possible situations? Look at Job there scraping himself with a broken piece of pottery, and sitting on a pile of ashes. Are you as bad off as he? And yet Job rose up, and was richer than before; and out of the depths Jonah came, and preached the Word; and our Savior Jesus has mounted to his throne. O Christian! Only think of what he has done for others! If you can’t remember that he has done any thing for you, yet remember that He is a merciful God; our King is a merciful King; go and try him. If you are down and out over your troubles, look to “the hills, from where your help comes.” Others have had help from there, and so may you. Look at the many hundreds of God's children around you, who can show us their hands full of comforts and mercies; and they could say, “the Lord gave us these without money and without price; and why shouldn’t he give them to you also, seeing that you also are a king's son?” Thus, Christian, you will get a song in the night out of other people, if you can’t get a song from yourself. Never be ashamed of taking a page out of another man's book of experience. If you can’t find a good page in your own, tear one out of some one’s else; and if you have no reason to be grateful to God in darkness, or can’t find reasons in your own experience, go to some one else, and, if you can, sing his praise in the dark, and like the nightingale sing his praise sweetly when all the world has gone to sleep. We can sing in the night of the mercies of the past.
2. I think, beloved, no matter how dark the night is, there is always something to sing about, even concerning that night.
There is one
thing I am sure we can sing about, even in the darkest night, and that is, “It
is because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions
never fail” [Lamentations 3:22]. If we can’t sing very loud, still we can
sing a little low tune, something like this—“He does not treat us as our sins
deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” [Psalm 103:10]. “O!” says one,
“I don’t know where to get my dinner from tomorrow. I am a poor wretch.” So you
may be, my dear friend; but you are not so poor as you deserve to be. Don’t be
offended about that; if you are, you are no child of God; for the child of God
acknowledges that he has no right to the least of God's mercies, but that they
come through the channel of grace alone. As long as I am still out of hell, I
have no right to grumble; and if I were in hell I still would have no right to
complain, for I feel, when convinced of sin, that no creature ever deserved to
go there more than I do. We have no reason to murmur; we can lift up our hands,
and say, “Night! you are dark, but you might have been darker. I am poor, and if
I could not have been poorer, I might have been sick. I am poor and sick—well,
I have some friends left, my situation in life is not so bad, but it might have
been worse.” And therefore, Christian, you will always have one thing to sing
about—”Lord, I thank you, it’s not all darkness!” Besides, Christian, however
dark the night is, there is always a star or moon. There is hardly ever a night
that we have, when there are only just one or two little lights burning in the
sky. However dark it may be, I think you may find some little comfort, some
little joy, some little mercy left, and some little promise to cheer your
spirit. The stars are not forever extinguished, are they? No, even when you can’t
see them, they are there; but I think one or two must be shining on you;
therefore give God a song in the night. If you have only one star, bless God
for that one, perhaps he will make it two; and if you have only two stars,
bless God twice for the two stars, and perhaps he will make them four. Try,
then, to see if you could sing a song in the night.
3. But, beloved, there is another thing we can sing about and, even more sweetly; and that is, we can sing of the days that are to come.
I am preaching
tonight for the poor people of Spitalfields. Perhaps there is not to be found a
class of people in our city who are suffering a darker night than they are; for
while many classes have been acknowledged and defended, there are very few who
speak up for the poor of Spitalfields, they are generally ground down within an
inch of their lives. In an inquiry by the government last week, it was given in
evidence, that their average wages are less than a man’s basic subsistence; and
then they have to furnish themselves with a room, and work on expensive
articles of clothing, which many ladies are now wearing, and which they buy as
cheaply as possible; but perhaps they don’t realize that they are made with the
blood and sweat of the Spitalfields clothiers. I met with some of them the other
day; I was very pleased with one of them. He said, “Well, sir, it is very hard,
but I hope there are better times coming for us.” “Well, my friend,” I said, “I
am afraid you can’t hope for much better times, unless the Lord Jesus Christ returns.”
“That is just what we hope for,” he said. “We don’t see there is any chance of
deliverance, unless the Lord Jesus Christ comes to establish his kingdom on
earth; and then he will judge the oppressed, and break the oppressors in pieces
with an iron rod.” I was glad my friend had found a song in the night, and was
singing about the morning that was coming.
I often cheer myself with the thought of the coming of the Lord. We preach now, perhaps, with little success; “the kingdoms of this world” are not “the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ;” we send out missionaries; they are for the most part unsuccessful. We are laboring, but we don’t see the fruit of our labors. Well, what then? Wait a little while; we will not always labor in vain, or spend our strength for nothing. A day is coming when every minister of Christ will speak with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, when all the servants of God will preach with power, and when the massive systems of heathenism will tumble from their pedestals, and mighty, gigantic delusions will be scattered to the winds. The shout will be heard, “Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord God Omnipotent reigns.” For I look to that day; it is to the bright horizon of that Second Coming that I turn my eyes. My anxious expectation is, that the sweet sunshine of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, that the oppressed will be set free, that tyranny will be destroyed, that liberty will be established, that lasting peace will arrive, and that the glorious liberty of the gospel of God will be extended throughout the known world. Christian! If you are in a dark night, think of tomorrow; cheer your heart with the thought of the coming of your Lord. Be patient, for
“Look, he is coming with the clouds” [Revelation 1:7].
Be patient! Jesus is coming! Be patient; for you know who has said, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” [Revelation 22:12].
One more thought
on that point. There is another sweet tomorrow of which we hope to sing in the
night. Soon, beloved, you and I will each lie down on our own death bed, and we
will need a song in the night then; and I don’t know where we will get it, if
we do not get it from the tomorrow. Kneeling by the bed of a dying saint, last
night, I said, “Well, sister, Jesus has been precious to you; you can rejoice
in his covenant mercies and his past love and kindness to you.” She put out her
hand, and said, “Ah! sir, don’t talk about them now; I want the sinner's Savior
as much now as ever; it is not a saint's Savior I want; it is still a sinner's
Savior that I am in need of, for I am still a sinner.” I found that I could not
comfort her with the past; so I reminded her of the golden streets, of the
gates of pearl, of the walls of jasper, of the harps of gold, of the songs of
bliss; and then her eye glistened; she said, “Yes, I will be there soon; I will
see them tomorrow;” and then she seemed so glad! Ah! Believer, you may always
cheer yourself with that thought; for if you are ever going through a dark
night, remember that
“A few more rolling suns, at most,
Will land you on fair Canaan's coast.”
Your head may be crowned with thorny troubles now, but it will wear a starry crown soon; your hand may be filled with cares—it will hold a harp soon, a harp full of music. Your clothes may be soiled with dust now; they will be pure white in the future. Wait a little longer. Ah! Beloved, how despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back on them! Looking at them here today, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven, our earthly trials will seem to us to have been nothing at all. Let us go on, therefore; and if the night is very dark, remember there is not a night that will not have a morning; and that morning is to come soon. When sinners are lost in darkness, we will lift up our eyes in everlasting light. Surely I need not dwell longer on this thought. There is plenty enough here for songs in the night in the past, the present, and the future.
III. And now I want to tell you, very briefly, WHAT MAKE THE SONGS IN THE NIGHT MORE EXCELLENT THAN ALL OTHER SONGS.
1. In the first place, when you hear a Christian singing a song in the night—I mean in the night of trouble—you may be quite sure it is an enthusiastic song.
Many of you sang
very beautifully tonight, before this sermon began, didn't you? I wonder
whether you would sing beautifully, if you were condemned to be burned at the stake
for your faith in Christ? If you sang under pain and penalty, that would show
your heart to be in your song. We can all sing very nicely when every body else
sings. It is the easiest thing in the world to open your mouth, and let the
words come out; but when the devil puts his hand over your mouth, can you sing
then? Can you say, “Though he slays me, yet will I hope in him?” That is hearty
singing; that is a real song that springs up in the night. The nightingale sings
most sweetly because she sings in the night. We know a poet has said, that if
she sang in the day, she might be thought to sing no more sweetly than the sparrow.
It is the stillness of the night that makes her song so sweet. And likewise a
Christian's song becomes sweet and enthusiastic, because it is sung in the
2. Again, the songs we sing in the night will be lasting.
Many songs we hear our fellow-creatures singing in the streets will not be a song for the future; I guess they will sing a different kind of tune soon. They can sing today any rowdy, drinking songs; but they will not sing them when they are on their death bed; they are not exactly the songs with which to cross Jordan's waters. It will not do to sing one of those light songs when death and you are having the last tug of war. It will not do to enter heaven singing one of those impure, unholy songs. No; but the Christian who can sing in the night will not have to stop singing their song; they may keep on singing it forever. They may put their foot in Jordan's stream, and continue their melody; they may wade through it, and keep on singing, and land themselves safe in heaven; and when they are there, there need not be a gap in their song, but in a nobler, sweeter tune, they will still continue singing Jesus’ power to save.
There are a great
many of you that think Christian people are a very miserable group, don't you?
You say, “Let me sing my song.” Yes, but, my dear friends, we like to sing a
song that will last; we don't like your songs; they are all foam, like bubbles,
and they will soon evaporate to nothing. Give me a song that will last; give me
one that will not melt. O, don’t give me dreamer's gold! He hoards it up, and
says, “I'm rich;” and when he wakes up, his gold is gone. But give me songs in
the night, for they are songs I will sing forever.
3. Again, the songs we sing in the night are those that show we have real faith in God.
Many men and
women have just enough faith to trust God as far as they can see him, and they
always sing as long as providentially everything goes right: but those with true
faith can sing when they can’t see. They can maintain faith in God when they
can’t detect his presence.
4. Songs in the night also prove that we have true courage.
Many sing in the day who are silent at night; they are afraid of thieves and intruders; but the Christian who sings in the night proves himself to be a courageous character. It is the bold Christian who can sing God's songs in the darkness.
5. He who can sing songs in the night, too, proves that he has true love to Christ.
It is not love to
Christ to praise him while every body else praises him; to walk arm in arm with
him when he has the crown on his head is no great deed, but to walk with Christ
in rags is something. To believe in Christ when he is shrouded in darkness, to
stick close to the Savior when all those around you mock him and forsake him—that
is true faith. They who sing a song to Christ in the night, sings the best song
in the entire world; for they sing from the heart.
IV. Lastly, I will SHOW YOU THE USE OF SONGS IN THE NIGHT.
1. Well, beloved, it is very useful to sing in the night of our troubles, first, because it will cheer us up.
When you were young
children, and had to walk alone at night, don't you remember how you use to whistle
and sing to keep your courage up? Well, what we do in the natural world we
ought to do in the spiritual. There is nothing like singing to keep your
spirits alive. When we have been in trouble, we have often thought ourselves to
be nearly overwhelmed with difficulty; and we have said, “Let’s sing a song.”
We began to sing; and Martin Luther says, “The devil cannot stand singing.”
That is the truth; he does not like any Christ-honoring music. It was that way
in Saul's days: an evil spirit rested on Saul; but when David played on his
harp, the evil spirit left him. This is usually the case: if we can begin to
sing we will chase away our fears. I like to hear people sometimes humming a
tune at their work; I love to hear a farmer in the county singing as he plows
his fields. Why not? You say he has no time to praise God; but he can sing a
song—surely he can sing a Psalm, it won’t take any more time. Singing is the
best thing to purge ourselves of evil thoughts. Keep your mouth full of songs
and you will often keep your heart full of praises; keep on singing as long as
you can; you will find it a good way to drive away your fears.
2. Sing when you are in trouble, again, because God loves to hear his people sing in the night.
God never loves his children's singing as much as when they give a serenade of praise to him, when he has hidden his face from them, and will not appear to them at all. They are completely in darkness; but they come to him, and they begin to sing. “Ah!” says God, “that is true faith, that can make them sing praises when I will not look at them; I know there is some faith in them, that makes them lift up their hearts, even when I seem to remove all my tender mercies and all my compassions from them.” Sing, Christian, for singing pleases God. In heaven, we read, the angels are engaged in singing: do you want to be engaged in the same way; for there is no better way that you can delight the Almighty God, who stoops from his high throne to observe the poor creatures of the earth.
3. Sing, again, for another reason: because it will cheer your companions.
If any of them are in the valley and in the darkness with you, it will be a great comfort to them. John Bunyan tells us, that as “Christian” was going through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he found it to be a dreadful dark place, and terrible demons were all around him, and poor “Christian” thought he would perish for certain; but just when his doubts were the strongest, he heard a sweet voice; he listened to it, and it was from a man walking somewhere in front of him singing, “Yes, when I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Now, that man did not know who was near him, but he was unknowingly singing to cheer and encourage a man following behind him.
you are in trouble, sing; you don’t know who is near you. Sing! Perhaps you
will help and maybe get a good companion by doing it. Sing! Perhaps there will
be many hearts cheered by your song. There is some broken spirit, it may be,
that will be lifted up by your songs. Sing! There is some poor distressed
brother, perhaps, shut up in the Castle of Despair, who, like King Richard,
will hear your song inside the walls, and sing back to you, and you may be the
means of getting him a ransom. Sing, Christian, wherever you go; try, if you
can, to wash your face every morning in a bath of praise. When you wake up in
the morning, never seek out another human until you have first sought out your
God; and after you have spent time with him, then seek out others with your
face beaming with joy; carry a smile, for you will cheer up many a poor pilgrim
by it. And when you fast, Christian—when you have an aching heart, don’t appear
to others that you are fasting; appear cheerful and happy, wash your face;
dress with a sparkle; be happy for the sake of other Christians; it will tend
to cheer them up, and help them through the valley.
4. One more reason; and I know it will be a good one for you. Try and sing in the night, Christian, for that is one of the best arguments in the entire world in favor of your religion.
Many theologians today,
spend a great deal of time in trying to prove Christianity against those who
disbelieve it. I would like to have seen Paul trying that! Elymas the sorcerer opposed
him: how did our friend Paul treat him? He said “You are a child of the devil
and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit
and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?” [Acts
13:10]. That is about all the politeness such men ought to have towards those who
deny God's truth. We start with this assumption: we will prove that the Bible
is God's Word, but we are not going to prove God's word. If you don’t like to
believe it, we will leave; we will not argue with you. The gospel has gained
little by discussion. The greatest piece of folly on earth has been to send a
man around the country, to debate with a false teacher who has been lecturing
on sin and infidelity just to make himself notorious.
Why, let them lecture on; this is a free country; why should we follow them around to try to debate them? The truth will win the day. Christianity needn’t wish for controversy; it is strong enough for it, if it wishes it; but that is not God's way. God's direction is to, “Preach, teach, and to express yourself dogmatically.” Don’t just stand there disputing; claim a divine mission; tell men and women that God says it, and there leave it. Say to them, “He that believes will be saved, and he that does not believe will be damned;” and when you have finished that, you have done enough. Why should our missionaries argue with Hindus? Why should they be wasting their time by attempting to refute first this dogma, and then another, of heathenism? Why not just go and say, “The God whom you fail to worship, I declare to you; believe me, and you will be saved; do not believe me and the Bible declares you are lost.” And then, having thus declared God's word, say, “I leave it there, I declare it to you; it is a thing for you to believe, not a thing for you to try to reason about. Religion is not a thing merely for your intellect; it is a thing that demands your faith. As a messenger of heaven, I demand that faith; if you don’t choose to give it, then your own doom will be your own head. I have done my duty; I have told you the truth; that is enough, and there I leave it.” O, Christian, instead of arguing with unbelievers, let me tell you how to prove the truth of your religion to them. Live it out! Live it out! Give the external as well as the internal evidence; give the external evidence of your own life.
You are sick; there is your neighbor, who laughs at religion; let him come to your house. When he was sick, he said, “O, send for the doctor;” and there he was fretting, and fuming, and whining, and making all kinds of noises. When you are sick, send for him; tell him that you are resigned to the Lord's will; that you will kiss the chastening rod; that you will take the cup, and drink it, because your Father gives it. You needn’t make a boast of this, or it will lose all its power; but do it because you can’t help doing it. Your neighbor will say, “There is something in that.” And when you come near to your grave—he was there once, and you heard how he shrieked, and how frightened he was—give him your hand, and say to him, “Ah! I have a Christ that will be with me in my death; I have a religion that will make me sing in the night.” Let him hear how you can sing, “Victory, victory, victory!” through him that loved you.
I tell you, we
may preach fifty thousand sermons to prove the gospel, but we will not prove it
half as well as you will by singing in the night. Keep a cheerful disposition;
keep a happy heart; keep a contented spirit; keep you eyes looking up, and your
heart aloft, and you will prove Christianity better than all the wise men that
ever lived. Give them the analogy of a holy life, and then you will prove
religion to them; give them the evidence of internal holiness, developed
externally, and you will give the best possible proof of Christianity. Try and
sing songs in the night; for they are so rare, that if you can sing them, you
will honor your God, and bless your friends.
So far I have been preaching this sermon to the children of God, and now there is a sad turn that this subject must take, just one moment or so, and then we will be done. There is a night coming, in which there will be no songs of joy—a night in which no one will even attempt to lead a chorus. There is a night coming when a song will be sung, of which misery will be the subject, set to the music of wailing and gnashing of teeth; there is a night coming when misery, and unutterable despair, will be the subject of an awful song of gloom—when the orchestra will be composed of damned men and women, and howling fiends, and yelling demons; and mark you, I speak what I know to be true, and testify the truth of the Scriptures. There is a night coming for a poor soul within this church tonight; and unless they repent, it will be a night where they will have to growl, and howl, and sigh, and cry, and moan and groan forever. “Who is that?” you say. It is you, my friend, if you are godless and Christless. “What!” you say, “am I in danger of the fires of hell?” In danger, my friend! Yes and more: you are already damned. So says the Bible. You say, “And can you leave me without telling me what I must do to be saved? Can you believe that I am in danger of perishing, and not speak to me?” I trust not; I hope I will never preach a sermon without speaking to the ungodly, for O! How I love them. O you blasphemer, your mouth is black with cursing and swearing; and if you die, you will go on blaspheming throughout eternity, and be punished for it throughout eternity. But listen to me, blasphemer! Will you repent tonight? Do you feel that you have sinned against God? Do you feel a desire to be saved? Listen you! You can be saved; you can be saved as much as any one that is here now.
There is another: she has sinned against God enormously, and she blushes even now, while I mention her case. Do you repent of your sin? There is hope for you. Remember him who said, “Go, and sin no more.” Drunkard! Just a little while ago you were reeling down the street, and now you need to repent. Drunkard! There is hope for you.
“Well,” you say, “What
must I do to be saved?” Then again let me tell you the old way of salvation. It
is this, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” [Acts 16:31]. We
can get no further than that, do what we will; this is the sum and substance of
the gospel. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be willing to be baptized,
and you will be saved. So says the Scripture. Do you ask, “What is it to
believe?” Am I to tell you again? I can’t tell you, except that it is to look
at Christ. Do you see that Savior there? He is hanging on the cross; there are
his dear hands, pierced with nails, nailed to a tree, as if they were waiting
for your tardy footsteps, because you would not come. Do you see his dear head
there? It is hanging on his breast, as if he would lean over, and kiss your
poor soul. Do you see his blood, gushing from his head, his hands, his feet,
his side? It is running after you; because he knew that you would never run
after it. Sinner! To be saved, all that you have to do is, to look at Jesus
Christ. Can you do it now? “No,” you say, “I don’t believe it will save me.”
Ah! my poor friend, try it; and if you don’t succeed, when you have tried it, then
I will willingly share your doom. I promise you: if you cast yourself on
Christ, and he deserts you, I will be willing to go halves with you in all your
misery and woe. For he will never do it: never, never, NEVER!
“No sinner was ever sent back empty,
who came seeking mercy for Jesus’ sake.”
I beg you, therefore, try him, and you will not try him in vain, but will find him “able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” [Hebrews 7:25]. You will be saved now, and saved forever.
May God give you his blessing! I can’t preach as earnestly as I could wish; but, nevertheless, may God accept these words, and send them home to some hearts this night! And may you, my dear brothers and sisters, have songs in the night!
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