Luke 10:33-37 (NKJV) 33 "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
I do not know that anything I have heard, here or anywhere, has gone so deep into my heart and conscience as the words of the brother who preceded me (T. B. Smithies). We all felt, 1 am sure, that such exhortation is precisely what we need. We have a great deal of talking, of meeting, of singing; and meanwhile there is an immense mass of human misery all around us. for the relief of which who of us dare say to God, even if he perhaps ventures to say to others, or even to himself, that he is doing what he can? And if there is anything encouraging, if there is anything that shows to us very plainly that God has had pity upon us, that He is visiting His people in very deed, that He is stirring up His Church to see her duty and to do it, it is to bear, in a Convention like this, such words as we have just listened to. That is the note that must be struck, and in which we must all join.
What is the reproach that the world flings into our faces all the while? It is that we meet one another and enjoy one another's company,—I do not mean only in special gatherings, but in our churches, hearing good sermons, attending prayer-meetings and so forth—but that, after all, we are a selfish set. I do not say that such a statement is not unjust, but I do say that it is frequently made, and that there is some foundation for it. Selfishness will creep into our very religion: and if Satan can have his way with us there, he knows he has the very best bold of us that he can have. Because we will imagine, all the time, that we are perfectly straight, and there is nothing to say against us; while God is looking down in compassion on this suffering world, and seeing that we are doing next to nothing for it.
Did you eve hear such a sermon as was preached by that minister in London of whom Mr. Smithies told us, when, at two or three o’clock at night, he climbed those miserable stairs, carrying that drunken woman across his shoulder? Our brother, has called him a “good Samaritan” and so He was. You remember the last words of the parable of the good Samaritan—"Which now of these three, thinkest thou was neighbor to him that fell among thieves? And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go thou and do likewise.” (Luke x 36,37).
Do you think 1 have wandered from my subject? The words I have just quoted are the very substance of the topic appointed to me: “Thy will be done.” "Go and do likewise.” Do. It is a very simple word— not so long, for instance as “contemplate,” or “cogitate,” or “admire,” or many other fine words. Just two letters; only one syllable—do. So small a word that it seems to have dropped out of the dictionary of many good people. “Do likewise.” “Thy will be done.”
“God's will.” Think of God’s will. All things were made because God willed it. They were made according to His will, and they were made in order to execute and manifest His will. Let us cast our eyes around the world. Look at the inanimate creation. What is it doing? Ask the great sea-billows what they are doing, and they will answer: The will of God. Ask the everlasting hills what they are doing, and they will answer: The will of God. Ask the silent stars what they arc doing, and they will answer: The will of God. Ask the sun in his strength what be is doing, and he will answer: The will of God. Ask the tiny flower that flourisheth in the morning, and in the evening is cut down and withereth, what it is doing, and it will answer: The will of God. Ask all the beings God has made—every moving creature that walks or swims, that flies or creeps—what they are doing, and they will answer: The will of God.
Now let us turn to the one creature that God has made in His own image, and because He made it in His own image He made it free—that is to say, capable of obedience or disobedience. Let us ask a man or woman, “What are you doing?” And the answer will be “I am doing what I choose.” What I choose! Yes, and because we have been doing what we choose, such things as we have heard of are going on in Dublin, in Edinburgh, in London; nor is there a city on the Continent that has not “its sins and its sorrows,” its fearful scenes of violence and lust, of degradation and misery. And so it is all over the world. Doing what we choose! We chose to disobey and be lost. Then, even then, God did what He chose, and He chose to come down and save us.
Look over the whole range of history, and what do you see there? You see generation after generation steeped in sin, “hateful, bating one another,” and with the sickening smell of ten thousand battle-fields a voice arises, saying. “We are doing what we choose.”
Going up the stream of time, and wandering among the hills of Galilee, we come to a little village, and entering one of its humble dwellings, we see before us a young man, with nothing about him save the quiet earnestness of his looks and the modest dignity of his bearing to attract our attention. He is aged, we will say, twenty-five. We ask his neighbors who he is. They answer, “Oh, he is only the carpenter's son. He is a good man. He is not always to us the companion we would like; he does not always smile at the things we smile at. But he is a good and faithful workman, a kind neighbor, ever ready to help the poor, the suffering, the little children, instant in daily prayer, and the most devout of worshippers at the synagogue.”
We go to him, and, finding him, it may be, after the day’s work, taking his rest at eventide, we ask him, “Brother, what art thou doing?” And be answers, “The will of God.”
That is the only thing He ever did. Before He was born He said, “I come to do Thy will, O God.” Then, doing the will of God, He came into this world; He was a child, a boy, a youth, and there He is at Nazareth, quietly working, full of the thoughts of God, reading the word of God, finding God in everything around Him. You ask Him, “But why don’t you go and preach? Why don’t you go about the country telling the people about the things of God?” And He says, “Because it is not the will of God that I should do so now.” And He abides there till He is thirty years of age. Then He leaves His village. And why? Because it is the will of God. Then come the baptism, the temptation, the public ministry, the going about from place to place doing good, stilling the storm, healing the sick, raising the dead, and, finally, giving Himself up into the hands of sinners. Why? Because it was the will of God. Because He had no will besides the will of God. Because it was to Him, not a necessity to which, as we sometimes say (though the word, I think does not occur in the whole Bible), He resigned Himself, but “His meat” and drink was to do the will of God. That was His food, His strength, His life.
So He was led on, step by step, not without sorrow and anguish, not without saying at times, “Now is My soul troubled,” but going on through it all, and saying, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” And at last He was able to say, summing up the whole of His ministry, the whole of His life, "I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”
Then, having done the will of God perfectly, there was only one thing that remained. Was it for a legion of angels to carry Him back into heaven? No. Then He took the place of those who had done what they chose. He bore the penalty of the law that we had broken. He offered up Himself, according to the will of God—and of His own blessed, loving will, at one with the Father’s will—that "by His stripes” we might be “healed.”
Healed, my brethren, and wherefore? That we might go on doing our own will, and yet not be punished for it? Is that what Christ came for? As much was said in so many words to a French pastor, who was remonstrating with a Christian for some particular sin; he got this answer: “Why I thought that the Lord Jesus had died that we might do these things and go to heaven all the same!” Did Christ come for any such purpose? No. He came that we might cease from our own will and do the will of God.
Can there be any one here who is not anxious to unite with the Saviour—anxious to begin to do God’s will; and, if he has begun, to do it better, to do it exclusively, to have nothing in the world to do besides? There is one passage in this connection that is exceedingly wonderful and comforting: “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” Do you remember when Christ spoke these words? Do you remember what were the words that fell from His lips a moment before?
“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. For 1 came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John vi. 37, 38).
As sure as Christ came down from heaven to do the will of God, just so sure is it that the sinner that cometh to Him He will in nowise cast out.
And now, my brethren, having come to Him, and having not been cost out, whatever our past may have been, whatever our present condition may be, what does He ask of us? Only one thing—to be with Him, in Him, the servants of the Father; to do, day by day, the Father’s will. He told us to pray, "Thy will be done;” and surely this means that such a prayer cannot remain unanswered. It must be our daily prayer. We must ask for this before we ask for bread—“Thy will be done.”
Then God’s work will be done. We speak a great deal of God's work, but we do not speak enough of God’s will. There is no way of doing God’s work except doing, from hour to hour, God’s will. How did Christ do the Father’s work? By doing the Father's will. “I have finished the work that Thou gavest Me to do.” And how? Because from year to tear, from day to day, from moment to moment, He had no will beside the Father's.
Why is it that a great deal of what we call work amounts to so very little - and yet it is conscientious work, hard work, with plenty of judicious organization? Because we have not been careful enough to inquire whether that particular work, at that particular time, and through these particular men, was the will of God. Because we have put our own wisdom first and foremost; because we have said, “This seems to us to be good, and we are going to organize and do it.” Christ says, “Every plant that My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” The Lord's work can only be done in a prayerful, childlike spirit, letting God go before; asking Him not only in the abstract and generally, whether this or that is good, but whether this is the work that He calls us to do, and to do now. When we have our answer, and do that work—His work, His will —oh, it is living work, it is abiding work! It is a plant that the Father has planted; and there is not one of His plants that comes to nothing, whether the fruit appears early or late.
Now, do you not think that we are as a Christian Church, called upon to do the very thing which an individual is called upon to do? That is to put our whole work into the hands of God, and to ask Him honestly, “Shall I go on with this? Is this Thy work? Is it being done in Thy Spirit? Is there anything to alter in it, or in the way of doing it?” Then we may expect the answer; we will be sure to get it. Then all our work will be true work,—not only a work but a fruit, a fruit of the Spirit, a fruit bearing seed according to its kind, that shall go on bearing fruit forever.
The difficulty is this: We are loth to believe, at any rate we are slow to believe that God does guide every believing, trusting soul. Practically, I think, many of us believe this: that there are certain great principles in the Bible so which we must conform our life, and then, in the light of these principles, we must do the best we can. Read the Acts of the Apostles, and sec if that was the way they lived. That will be sufficient answer. They were guided by the Holy Spirit, and not only the apostles, but the other disciples—Philip, the deacon, for instance, and others. They were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the smallest things, and in all things. It was God who told them, Go here, or Go there, and they were always in His hand, listening to His voice.
Do you say that this borders on mysticism? I will tell you what it borders on. It borders on these words of Christ: “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me,” and they follow none other voice, because every other voice is a stranger’s voice to them. Do we know what this means? Do we begin to know it—that Christ really leads His people continually? In the instance given by Mr. Smithies a little while ago, is it not as clear as day? Did not God lead that brother to go out that very night, and to go to that very street, and to meet that very woman? It is so evident in such an instance that we all see it. Do you think, then, that God guides us less on some days, and that He guides us more on other days? that He calls some things great, and needing His guidance, and other things small, where our own light will suffice? Everything is small to Him, and everything is great to us. Or, if you please to put it otherwise, nothing is small that is the will of God, and nothing is great—so great that we cannot do it—if it is the will of God. Oh, for a band of Christian men and women who, every morning, have but one prayer on their lips, one desire in their inmost souls, —to do the will of God.
"Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” That prayer cannot remain without an answer. Paul lived in no other way than that. It was the first and the lifelong prayer of his Christian life. On the day of his conversion he received the command, “Go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do.” That was enough for that day; and so on to the end of his ministry.
I know not how to express how strongly I feel that the great need of the Church is this: that we should cease from our own wisdom, which is folly, as well as from our own strength, which is weakness, and from our own righteousness, which is as filthy rags; and that we shall put ourselves in God's hands, to live in Him, on Him, for Him alone.
When we hear of all the misery of which we have been told, we think: Well, that is true; something must be done, but how can I do it if I have this, and that, and the other thing to do. And yet conscience says, "You are wrong; there is a mistake somewhere in the employment of your time.” We must find out where it is. And when these suffering people, these dying people all around us, feel and see that when we meet together it is to think of them, and in love to them, and when we go from here to labor, as God will give “every man his work,” then they will believe that there is something in this Gospel of ours. They will feel the heart of Christ beating in our bosom They will see the tears of Christ in our eyes. They will feel the grasp of Christ in our hand.
My dear brethren, what we want is not only trust and faith; we want love. We want to be “rooted and grounded in love”; to love the will of God. And there is no way to love the will of God except to love God. We must go back to first principles. We must tell God how ignorant we are, how weak, how cold, how selfish, and ask Him to receive us again. “Him that cometh unto Me,”—even if he is a backsliding Christian, an unfaithful Christian, whoever he may be,—“I will in nowise cast out.” He will receive us into fellowship with Himself. And if any man is in Christ, it is a new creation; “old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.”
Time is short. “ Our life is as a vapor that appeareth for little time, and then vanisheth away”; but remember,— and with these words I close,— remember what the Spirit saith to the churches through the Apostle John: "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Amen.
—Théodore Monod, at the Dublin Convention, quoted in Friends' Review: A Religious, Literary and Miscellaneous Journal, Volume 30, 1876, 1877, edited by Samuel Rhoads, Enoch Lewis, p. 363-366.