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Storming the Battlements

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/01/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

Storming the Battlements

A Sermon by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON

              "Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are               not the Lord's."Jeremiah 5:10.

          WE HAVE BEEN talking very freely during this last week of "glorious victories," of "brilliant           successes," of "sieges," and of "stormings." We little know what the dread reality is of which we           boast. Could our eyes once behold the storming of a city, the sacking of a town, the pillage of the           soldiery, the barbarous deeds of fury, when the blood is up and long delay has maddened their souls;           could we see the fields saturated with blood, and soaked with gore; could we spend one hour amongst the corpses           and the dying; or if we could only let the din of battle, and the noise of the guns reach our ears, we should not so           much rejoice, if we had anything of fellow feeling for others as well as for ourselves. The death of an enemy is to           me a cause of regret as well as the death of a friend. Are not all my brethren? and doth not Jesus tell me so? Are           we not all made of one flesh? and hath not God "made of one blood all nations that dwell upon the face of the           earth?" Let us, then, when we hear of slaughtered enemies, and of thousands that have fallen, cease to rejoice in           their death. It would betray a spirit utterly inconsistent with the Christian religion, more akin to Mohamedanism, or           to the fierce doctrines of Budha, but not in the least to be brought into compatibility with the truths of the gospel           of the glorious God. And yet with all that, far be it from me to check any gladness which this nation may           experience, now that it hopes that the incubus of war may at last be removed. Clap your hands, O Britons!           Rejoice, ye sons of Albion! there is hope that your swords may yet be sheathed, that your men shall not be mown           down as grass before the scythe; that the desolation of your hearths shall now be staid; that the tyrant shall be           humbled; and that peace shall be restored. With this view of it, let our hearts leap for joy, and let us sing unto God           who hath gotten us the victory; rejoicing that now earth's wounds may be staunched; that her blood need not flow           any longer; and that peace may be established, we trust upon a lasting footing. This, I think, should be the           Christian view of it. We should rejoice with the hope of better things; but we should lament over the awful death           and terrible carnage; the extent of which we know not yet, but which history shall write amongst the black things.           My earnest prayer is, that our brave soldiery may honor themselves as much by moderation in victory, as by           endurance of privation, and velour in attack. I have nothing more to say upon that subject whatever, I am now           about to turn to a different kind of siege, another kind of sacking of cities.               Jerusalem had sinned against God; she had rebelled against the most High, had set up for herself false gods,           and bowed before them; and when God threatened her with chastisement, she built around herself strong           battlements and bastions. She said "I am safe and secure. What though Jehovah hath gone away, I will trust in the           gods of nations. Though the Temple is cast down, yet we will rely upon these bulwarks and strong fortifications           that we have erected." "Ah!" says God, "Jerusalem, I will punish thee. Thou art my chosen one, therefore will I           chastise thee. I will gather together mighty men, and will speak unto them; I will bid them come unto thee, and           they shall visit thee for these things. My soul shall be avenged on such a nation as this." And he calls together the           Chaldeans and Babylonians, and says to those fierce men who speak in uncouth language, "Go ye up upon her           walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements, for they are not the Lord's." Thus God           used wicked men to be his scourge to chastise a still more wicked nation, who were yet the objects of his affection           and love.               This morning I shall take my text and address it in four ways, to different classes of men. First I think this           may be spoken by God of his church. "Go ye up against her," says he to her enemies, "take away her battlements,           for they are not the Lord's." This may also be spoken to many a Christian. God often bids troubles and enemies           go up against Christians to take away their battlements that are not the Lord's. This also may be spoken to the           young convert who is trusting in himself, and has not yet been brought low. God says to doubts, and fears, and           convictions and to the law, "Go ye up against him: make not a full end; take away his battlements; for they are not           the Lord's." And this also shall be spoken at last to the impertinent sinner, who, putting his trust in his own           strength, hopes by joining hand with hand, to go unpunished: God shall say, at last, to his angels, "Go ye up           against her." He will, however, in the last case, alter the next phrase"make a full end; take away her battlements;           for they are not the Lord's."               I. First, then, I shall regard this text as spoken concerning THE CHURCH. God frequently says to the           Church's enemies, "Go ye up against her, but make not a full end take away her battlements; for they are not the           Lord's." God's church is very fond of building walls which her God has not sanctioned. She is not content to trust           in the arm of God, but she will add thereto some extraneous help which God utterly abhors. "Beautiful for           situationthe joy of the whole earthis Mount Zion, upon the sides of the north, the city of the great king. As           the mountains are round about Jerusalem, even so is God round about his people, from henceforth, for evermore."           But his people are not content with God's being round about them, they seek some other protection. The church           has very often gone to king Jareb for help, or to the world for aid; and then God has said to her enemies, "Go ye           up against her, but make not a full end: take away her battlements, for they are not the Lord's. She shall not have           them. I am her battlement. She is to have none other."               1. The first I may mention is this. The church of God has sometimes sought to make the government its           battlements. There was a church anciently in Rome, a holy and pious church of God, whose members worshipped           and bowed down before the God of Israel. But a certain wily monarch called Constantine, who believed that           should he turn Christian he should thus secure the empire more firmly to himself, and put down sundry other           commanders who were helped by the priests in order to gain his own ends and promote his own honor, pretends           to see a vision in the skies, and professes to become a Christian, makes himself the head of the church, and leader           of the faithful. The church fell into his arms, and then state and church became allied. What was the consequence           of the church of Rome becoming allied with the state; Why she has become a corrupt mass of impurity, such a           disgrace to the world that the sooner the last vestige of her shall be swept away the better. This was because she           built up bulwarks that are not the Lord's, and God has said to her enemies, "Go ye up upon her walls." Yea, her           apostacy is now so great, that doubtless, the Judge of all the earth shall make a "full end" of her, and the prophecy           of the Apocalypse shall be fulfilled, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning and           famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." There are true           Protestant churches standing now that have made unholy alliances with governments. Christ testified, "My           kingdom is not of this world," and yet they have crouched at the feet of kings and monarchs. They have obtained           state endowments and grants; and so they have become high, and mighty, and honorable, and they laugh at those           pure churches who will not buckle and commit fornication with the kings of the earth, but who stand out for the           royal supremacy of the Savior, and look only to Christ as the head of the Church. They apply to us the epithets of           "schismatics," "dissenters," and such-like, but I believe that God shall yet say of every state-church, whether it be           the Church of England, Ireland, Scotland or of anywhere else, "Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make           not a full end;" for there are thousands of pious men in her midst, "take away her battlements; for they are not the           Lord's." Even now we see a stir throughout the world to take away these battlements. The holy and pious men in           the Church of England have multiplied amazingly during the last few years. It is pleasing to see the great           improvement in the Establishment. I think no class of Christians have made more speedy advances in reformation           than they have. They have a stirring in their midst, and are saying, "Why should we be under the government any           longer?" There are many clergymen who have said, "We have no wish whatever for this union: we would be glad           to come away from all state control." I wonder they do not do it, and follow their convictions. They are saying,           "take away her battlements, they are not the Lord's," and if they do not take them away themselves, we are           advancing by slow degrees, and, by the aid of heaven we will take away their battlements for them one of these           fine days, and they will wake and find that church-rates and tithes have ceased; that they must stand or fall           themselves; that God's church is strong enough to stand herself without government. It will be a happy day for the           Church of EnglandGod bless her! I love herwhen those battlements are taken down, when the last stone of           state patronage is thrown down; when the unneeded help of kings and princes shall be refused. Then she will           come out a glorious churchlike a sheep from the washing. She will be the honor of our land, and we who now           stand aloof from her will be far more likely to fall into her bosom, for her articles are the very marrow of truth,           and many of her sons are the excellent of the earth. Oh, angel, soon blow thy trumpet of war, and give the           command! "Go ye up upon her walls, make not a full end." She is one of my churches; "take away her           battlements; they are not the Lord's." He has nothing to do with such a battlement, he hates it altogetherstate           alliance is obnoxious to the God of Israel; and when kings shall become real nursing fathers, they will in another           mode afford the gold of Sheba, and the free-will offering of their piety.               2. But there are other churches that are making battlements for themselves. These are to be found amongst us           as well as other denominations. There are churches who make battlements out of the wealth of their members. It           is a respectable congregation, a most respectable church, the members are most of them wealthy. They say, within           themselves, "We are a strong and wealthy church; there is nothing can hurt us; we can stand fast." You will find           wherever that idea possesses the mind, prayer-meetings will be ill attended; they do not think it necessary to pray           much to keep up the cause. "If a five pound note is wanted," says a brother, "we can give it." They do not think it           necessary to have a preacher to bring together the multitude, they are strong enough in themselves. They are a           glorious corporation of quiet personages; they like to hear a drawing-room preacher; they would think it beneath           their dignity to enjoy anything which the populace could understand; that would be a degradation to their high and           honorable position. We know some churches nowit would be invidious to point the finger at themwhere           wealth and rank are reckoned to be the first thing. Now, we do love to have wealth and rank in our own midst, we           always thank God when we have brought among us men who can do something for the cause of truth; we bless           God when we see Zaecheus, who had abundance of gold and silver, giving some of his gifts to the poor of the           Lord's family, we like to see the princes and kings bringing presents and bowing before the King of all the earth;           but if any church bows before the golden calf, there will go forth the mandate, "Go ye up upon her walls; but           make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord's." And down the church will come God           shall humble it; he will bring it down from its high position; he will say, "Though thou sittest on the rocks, and           buildest thy house amongst the stars of heaven; even thence will I pluck thee down and this right hand shall reach           thee." God will not have his church relying on man and putting trust in princes. "Cursed shall be such-a-one," he           says, "he shall be like a heath in the desert, he shall not see when good cometh; his leaf shall wither and he shall           bring forth no fruit unto perfection."               3. There are some other churches relying upon learning and erudition. The learning of their ministers seems           to be a great fort, bastion, and castle. They say for instance "What do these uneducated and unrefined preachers?           Of what use are they. We like men of sound argument, men who give a large amount of biblical criticism, who can           decide this, that, and the other." They rely upon their minister; he is their tower of strength; he is their all in all. He           happens to be a learned man. They say, "What is the use for any one to oppose him? See the amount of his           learning! Why his enemies would be cut in pieces, because he is so mighty and learned." Never let it be said that I           have despised learning or true knowledge. Let us have as much as we can. We thank God when men of learning           are brought into the church, when God renders then useful. But the church now-a-days is beginning to trust too           much to learning, relying too much on philosophy, and upon the understanding of man instead of the Word of           God. I do believe a large proportion of professing Christians have their faith in the word of man, and not in the           word of God. They say, "Such-and-such a divine said so; that so-and-so beautifully explained that passage, and it           must be right." But whatever church shall do this, God will say, "Go ye up upon her walls; make not a full end;           take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord's."               4. But I think that the worst battlement the churches have now, is an earthwork of great and extreme caution.           It is held to be improper that certain obnoxious truths in the Bible should be preached; sundry reasons are given           why they should be withheld. One is, because it tends to discourage men from coming to Christ. Another is,           because certain persons will be offended on account of these rough edges of the gospel. Some would say, "O keep           them back! You need not preach such and such a doctrine. Why preach distinguishing grace? Why divine           sovereignty? Why election? why perseverance? why effectual calling? These are calculated to offend the people,           they cannot endure such truths." If you tell them about the love of Christ, and the vast mercy of God, and such           like it will always be pleasing and satisfying; but you must never preach deep searching law-work, you must not be           cutting at the heart and sending the lancet into the soulthat would be dangerous. Hence most churches are           shielding themselves behind an ignominious bulwark of extreme caution. You never hear their ministers spoken           against; they are quite safe behind the screen you will be very much puzzled to tell what are the real doctrinal           views of our modern divines. I believe you will pick up in some poor humble chapel more doctrinal knowledge in           half an hour, than in some of your larger chapels in half a century. God's church must be brought once more to           rely upon the pure truth, upon the simple gospel, the unalloyed doctrines of the grace of God. O may this church           never have any bulwark but the promises of God! May he be her strength and shield! May his Aegis be o'er our           head and be our constant guard! May we never depart from the simplicity of the faith! And whether men hear, or           whether they forbear, may we say

                                            "Should all the forms that men devise                                               Assault my soul with treach'rous art                                                 I'll call them vanities and lies                                               And bind the gospel to my heart."

              II. We shall now address the text to THE CHRISTIANTHE REAL CHILD OF GOD. The true believer,           also, has a proneness to do as the church doesto build up sundry "battlements," which "are not the Lord's," and           to put his hope, his confidence, and his affection in something else, besides the word of the God of Israel.               1. The first thing, dearly beloved brethren, whereof we often make a fortress wherein to hide, isthe love of           the creature. The Christians' happiness should be in God, and God alone. He should be able to say, "All my           springs are in thee. From thee, and thee alone, I ever draw my bliss." Christ in his person, his grace, his offices,           his mercy, ought to be our only joy, and our glory should be that." Christ is all." But beloved, we are too much           inclined by nature to hew out for ourselves broken cisterns that hold no water. There is a drop or two of comfort           somewhere in the bottom of the leaky pitcher, and until it is dried up, we do not believe it is broken at all. We trust           in that sooner than in the fountain of living waters. Now whenever any of us foolishly make a battlement of the           creature, God will say to afflictions"Go ye up against her: take away her battlements, for they are not the           Lord's." There is a fatherhe has a son. That son is as dear to him as his own flesh and blood. Let him take heed           lest that child become too much his darling, lest he sets him in the place of the Most High God, and makes an idol           of him for as sure as ever he does, God, by affliction, will say to the enemy, "Go up against him: take away his           battlements, for they are not the Lord's." There is a husband. He coats upon his wife, as he should do. The           Scripture telleth us, that a man cannot love his wife too much: "Husbands love you wives, as Christ also loves the           Church"and that is infinitely. Yet this man has proceeded to a foolish fondness and idolatry. God says, "Go ye           up against him make not a full end; take away his battlements, for they are not the Lord's." We fix our love and           affection on some dear friend of ours, and there is our hope and trust. God says, "What though ye take counsel           together, ye have not taken counsel of me, and therefore, I will take away your trust. What though ye have           walked in piety, ye have not walked with me as ye should. Go ye up against her, O death! go ye against her, O           affliction! Take away that battlement, it is not the Lord's. Ye shall live on meye shall not feed, like Ephraim, on           the wind. Ye shall lean on my arm; ye shall not trust in the staff of these broken reeds. Ye shall set your affections           on things above, and not on things on earth. For I will blast the Joy of earth. I will send a blight upon your fair           harvest. I will make the clouds obscure your sun, and you shall cry unto me, 'O God, thou art my trust, my sun,           my hope, my all.'"               Oh, what a mercy it is that he does not make a "full end," beloved! It may seem to be an end sometimes, but           it is not a full end. There may be an end of our hopes, an end of our faith, an end of our confidence at times, but           it is not a full end. There is a little hope left; there is just a drop of oil in the cruse, there is the handful of meal in           the barrel: it is not the full end yet. Though he has taken away many joys, and blasted many hopes, though many           of our fair flowers have been blighted, he has left something. One star will twinkle in the sky, one faint lamp           glimmers from yonder distant cottagethou art not quite lost, O wanderer of the night. He has not made a full           end; but he may do, unless we come to him.               2. Once more. Many of us are too prone to make battlements out of our past experience, and to rely upon           that instead of confiding in Jesus Christ. There is a sort of self-complacency which reviews the past, and says,           "there I fought Apollyon there I climbed the hill Diffidently; there I waded through the Slough of Despond." The           next thought is, "And what a fine fellow am I! I have done all this. Why, there is nothing can hurt me. No, no! If I           have done all this, I can do everything else that is to be accomplished. Am I not a great soldier? Shall any make           me afraid? No; I have confidence in my own prowess, for my own arm hath won many a victory. Surely I shall           never be moved." Such a man cannot but think lightly of the present. He does not want communion with Christ           every day. No, he lives on the past. He does not care to have further manifestations of Jesus. He does not want           fresh evidence. He looks at the old musty evidences. He makes past grace the bread of his soul, instead of using it           as a seasoning to sweeten his meal. What does God say whenever his people do not want him; but live on what           they used to have of him, and are content with the love he once gave them? "Ah! I will take away your           battlements." He calls out to doubts and fears"Go ye up upon his walls; take away his battlements, for they are           not the Lord's."               3. Then, again, we sometimes get trusting too much to evidence, and good works. Ralph Erskine did not say           amiss when he remarked, "I have got more hurt by my good works than my bad ones." That seems something like           Antinomianism, but it is true; we find it so by experience. "My bad works," said Erskine, "Always drove me to the           Savior for mercy; my good works often kept me from him, and I began to trust in myself." Is it not so with us?           We often get a pleasing opinion of ourselves: we are preaching so many times a week, we attend so many prayer           meetings; we are doing good in the Sabbath-school; we are valuable deacons; important members of the church;           we are giving away so much in charity; and we say, "Surely I am a child of GodI must be. I am an heir of           heaven. Look at me! See what robes I wear. Have I not indeed a righteousness about me that proves me to be a           child of God?" Then we begin to trust in ourselves, and say, "Surely I cannot be moved, my mountain standeth           firm and fast." Do your know what is the usual rule of heaven when we thus boast? Why the command is given to           the foe"Go ye up against him, make not a full end: take away his battlements; for they are not the Lord's." And           what is the consequence? Why, perhaps God suffers us to fall into sin, and down goes self-sufficiency. Many a           Christian owes his falls to a presumptuous confidence in his graces. I conceive that outward sin is not more           abhorbed by one God than this most wicked sin of reliance on ourselves. May none of you ever learn your own           weakness by reading a black book of your own backslidings. More to be desired is the other method of God when           he sends the light of the Spirit into the heart, and developes our corruption; Satan comes roaring there, conscience           begins calling out, "Man you are not perfect." All the corruptions burst up like a volcano that had slept for a little           moment. We are taken into the dark chambers of imagery; we look at ourselves, and say, "Where are my           battlements gone?" We go to the hill-top again, and see the battlements are all gone. We go by the side of the           citythey are all departed. Then we go again to Christ, and say,

                                                  "I, the chief of sinners am,                                  

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