THE BEST WAR-CRY

"The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among 
them." — Numbers xxiii. 21. 

It was a singular spectacle to see the king of Moab and 
his lords climbing to the tops of the craggy rocks, ac- 
companied by that strange being, the Eastern prophet 
Balaam. They are seeking to look upon Israel with the 
evil eye, and flash down curses upon her tents in the 
plain m beneath. You see them gazing down from the 
mountains upon the encampment in the wilderness be- 
low, even as vultures from aloft spy out their prey. They 
watch with keen and cruel eyes. Cunning and malice 
are in their countenances. How Balak longs to crush the 
nation which he fears ! They are secretly endeavoring 
by spell and enchantment to bring evil upon the people 
whom Jehovah has chosen and led into the wilderness. 
Yen see them offering their seven bullocks and their 
seven rams upon the seven altars which they have set 
up upon Pisgah's rocks; and Balaam retires to wait until 
the afflatus shall come upon him, and he shall be able to 
prophesy. In all probability Moses knew nothing about 
this at the time; and certainly the people below knew 
nothing of the foul conspiracy. There lay the tribes in 
the valley, unaware that mischief was brewing, and 
quite unable to meet the dark design even if they had 
been aware of it. What a mercy it was for them that 
they were guarded by a Watcher, and a holy one, whose 
eyes can never slumber. How true it is — " I the Lord 
do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt 
it, I will keep it night and day." The Lord's eyes are 
fixed upon Balaam the hireling, and Balak the Son of 
Zippor : in vain do they weave the enchantment and work 
the divination; they shall be utterly ashamed and con- 
founded. They were baffled in their machinations, and 
utterly defeated in their schemes, and that for one single 
reason : it is written, " Jehovah Shammah — the Lord is there." 
God's presence in the midst of his people is as a wall of fire 
round about them, and a glory in their midst. The Lord 
is their light and their salvation, whom shall they fear ? 
At this present time God has a people, a remnant ac- 
cording to the election of grace, who still dwell like 
sheep in the midst of wolves. When, as a part of the 
Lord's church, we look at our surroundings, we see much 
that might cause us alarm; for never, either day or night, 
is Satan quiet, Like a roaring lion he goeth about, seek- 
ing whom he may devour: he plots in secret his crafty 
devices: if it were possible he would deceive even the 
very elect. This prince of darkness has on earth many 
most diligent servants, compassing sea and land to make 
proselytes, laying out all their strength, and using all 
their craft and cunning if by any means they may de- 
stroy the kingdom of God, and blot out the truth from 
under heaven. It is saddest of all to see certain men 
who know the truth in some degree, as Balaam did, enter- 
ing into league with the adversary against the true Israel. 
These combine their arts, and use all possible means that 
the gospel of the grace of God, and the church that holds it, 
may utterly be destroyed. If the church be not destroyed 
it will be no thanks to her enemies, for they would swal- 
low her up quick. When we look upon the signs of the 
times our heart grows heavy ; for iniquity abounds, the 
love of many waxes cold, many false spirits have gone 
abroad into the earth, and some whom we looked upon 
as helpers are proving themselves to be of another order. 
What then ? Are we dismayed ? By no means, for that 
same God who was in the midst of the church in the 
wilderness is in the church of these last days. Again 
shall her adversaries be defeated. Still will he defend 
her, for the Lord has built his church upon a rock, and 
the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. The rea- 
son of her safety is this : — 

" God in the midst of her doth dwell; 
Nothing shall her remove; 
The Lord to her a helper shall, 
And that right early, prove." 

( )Our text declares the grand safeguard of the church of < rod, 
ensuring her against every peril known and unknown, 
earthly or Satanic; — "Jehovah his God is with him, and 
the shout of a king is among them." 

May the Holy Spirit help me while I try to speak first 
upon Gods presence with his people; secondly, upon there- 
suits of that presence; and. thirdly, upon hoto, by the grace, 
of God, that presence may be rese rved continually amongst us. 
I. First, let me speak a little upon God's presence 
among his people. It is an extraordinary prese\ nee, for God's 
ordinary and usual presence is everywhere. Whither 
shall we flee from his presence? He is in the highest 
heaven and in the lowest hell: the hand of the Lord is 
upon the high hills, and his power is in all deep places. 
This knowledge is too high and wonderful for us: yet 
everywhere is God, for in him we live and move and have 
our being. Still there is a peculiar presence; for God 
was among his people in the wilderness as he was not 
among the Moabites and the Edomites their foes, and God 
is in his church as he is not in the world. It is a peculiar 
promise of the covenant that God will dwell with his 
people and walk among them. By the gift of the Holy 
Spirit the Lord is with us and in us at this hour. He 
saith of his church, "Here will I dwell, for 1 have de- 
sired it." This is much more than God's being about us; 
it includes the favor of God towards us, his considera- 
tion of us, his working with us. An active nearness 
to bless is the presence of which we speak. 

Here w T e may say with great reverence that God is 
with his people in the entireness of his nature. The Fa- 
ther is with us, for the Father himself loveth us. Like 
as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them 
that fear him. He is near to us, supplying our needs, 
guiding our steps, helping us in time, and tutoring us 
for eternity. God is where his children are, hearing 
every groan of their sorrow, marking every tear of 
their distress. The Father is in the midst of his family, 
acting a fathers part towards them. " Lord, thou hast 
been our dwelling-place in all generations." He is never 
far from any into whose breasts he has put the spirit of 
adoption whereby we cry, "Abba, Father!" Come, 
ye children of God, rejoice in this: your heavenly Fa- 
ther has come unto you, and abides with you. We 
have also the presence of the divine Son of God. Said 
he not to his apostles, " Lo, I am with you alway, even 
unto the end of the world " ? Have we not this for our 
joy whenever we come together, that we meet in his 
name, and that he still says, " Peace be unto you," and 
manifests himself unto us as he doth not unto the world. 
Many of you know most delightfully what it is to have 
fellowship with God, for " truly our fellowship is with 
the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ"; and this fel- 
lowship were not ours if we were not made nigh, by his 
precious blood. Very near are we to the heart of Christ; 
he dwells with us; yea, he is one with us. Peculiarly this 
presence relates to the Holy Ghost. It is he who repre- 
sents the Lord Jesus who has gone from us. We have 
a double portion of Christ's spirit, because we see him 
now that he is taken up; even as Elisha had a double 
portion of Elijah's spirit, according to the prophet's say- 
ing, "If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall 
be so unto thee"; that is, a double portion of my spirit 
shall rest upon thee. It was expedient that our Lord 
and Master should go, that the Spirit might be given. 
That Spirit once outpoured at Pentecost has never been 
withdrawn. He is still in the midst of this dispensation, 
working, guiding, quickening, comforting, exercising 
all the blessed office of the Paraclete, and being for us 
and in us God's advocate, pleading for the truth, and for 
us. Yes, dear friends, the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Spirit are in the midst of the true church of God when 
that church is in a right and healthy state; and if the 
triune God be gone away from the church, then her 
banners must trail in the dust, for her warriors have 
lost their strength. This is the glory of the church of 
God — to have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
the love of God the Father, and the communion of the 
Holy Ghost to be her never- failing benediction. What 
a glory to have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit manifesting 
the Godhead in the midst of our assemblies, and blessing 
each one of us. 

For God to dwell with us : what a condescending presence 
this is ! And will God in very truth dwell among men ? 
If the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, will he 
abide among his people ? He will ! He will ! Glory 
be to his name ! " Know ye not that your bodies are 
the temples of the Holy Ghost?" God chvelleth in us. 
Wonderful word ! Who can fathom the depth of this 
grace? The mystery of the incarnation is equaled by 
the mystery of the indwelling. That God the Holy 
Ghost shall dwell in our bodies is as extraordinary as 
that God the Son should inhabit that body which was 
born of the blessed virgin. Strange, strange is this, 
that the Creator should dwell in his creatures, that the 
Infinite should tabernacle in finite beings. Yet so it is, 
for he has said, ' ; Certainly I will be with thee." 

What an awe this imparts to every true church of God ! 
You may go in and out of certain assemblies, and you 
may say, "Here we have beauty! here we have adorn- 
ment, musical, ecclesiastical, architectural, oratorical, 
and the like ! " but to my mind there is no worship like 
that which proceeds from a man when he feels — the Lord 
is here. What a hush comes over the soul ! Here is 
the place for the bated breath, the unsandalled foot, and 
the prostrate spirit. Now are we on holy ground. When 
the Lord descends in the majesty of his infinite love to 
deal with the hearts of men, then it is with us as it was 
in Solomon's temple when the priests could not stand to 
minister by reason of the glory that filled the place. 
Man is set aside, for God is there. In such a case the 
most fluent think it better to be silent; for there is at times 
more expressiveness in absolute silence than in the fittest 
words. " How dreadful is this place ! this is none other 
but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." 
For why ? Because Jacob had said, " Surely the Lord is in 
this place." We regard the lowliest assemblies of the most 
illiterate people with solemn reverence if God be there: 
we regard the largest assemblies of the wealthiest and 
most renowned with utter indifference if God be not there. 

This is the one necessary of the church : the Lord God 
must be in the midst of her, or she is nothing. If God 
be there, peace will be within her walls, and prosperity 
within her palaces; but if the Lord be not there woe 
unto the men that speak in his name, for they shall cry in 
bitterness, " Who hath believed our report? " Woe unto 
the waiting people, for they shall go away empty! Woe 
unto the sinners in a forsaken Zion, for them comes no 
salvation ! The presence of God makes the Church to 
be a joyful, happy, solemn place: this brings glory to 
his name and peace to his people; but without it, all 
faces are pale, all hearts are heavy. 

Brethren, this presence of God is dearly discerned by 
the gracious, though others may not know it. Yet me- 
thinks even the ungracious in a measure perceive it, — com- 
ing into the assembly they are struck with a secret some- 
thing, they know not what; and if they do not immedi- 
ately join in the worship of the present God, yet a deep 
impression is made upon them beyond any that could 
be caused by the sound of human speech, or by the 
grandeur of outward show. They feel awed, and retire 
abashed. Certainly the devil knows where God is, — 
none better than he. He hates the camp of which Je- 
hovah is the leader; against it he doubles his enmity, 
multiplies his plots, and exercises all his power. He 
knows where his kingdom finds its bravest assailants, 
and he therefore attacks their head-quarters, even as 
did Balaam and Balak o_f old. 

Let us look at Balaam for a moment. May we never 
run in the way of Balaam for a reward; but let us stand 
in his way for a moment that he may be our beacon. 
This man had sold himself for gold, and though he knew 
God and spoke under inspiration, yet he knew him not in 
his heart, but was willing to curse God's people for hire. 
He was thwarted in his design because God was there. 

It is worth our while to see what kind of a God Jehovah 
is in Balaam's estimation. He describes our God in verse 
nineteen, — " God is not a man that he should lie; neither 
the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and 
shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not 
make it good?" Balaam perceived that the God who 
was in the midst of his people is not a changeable God, 
not a false God, not one who promises and forgets, or 
promises and eats his words, or promises what he cannot 
and will not perform. The God of Israel is faithful and true, 
immutable, unchanging: every one of his promises shall 
be fulfilled: none of his words shall fall to the ground. 
"Hath he said, and shall he not do it? — hath he spoken, 
i\ and shall it not come to pass ? " What a joy it is to have 
such a God as this among us, — a promise-making and a 
promise-keeping God; a God at work for his people, as he 
has declared he would be; a God comforting and cheering 
his people, and fulfilling in their experience that which 
his word had led them to expect. This God is our God 
for ever and ever; he shall be our guide even unto death. 
My dear friends, we sometimes hear men talk of the 
failure of the church. We are afraid that some churches 
do fail. Wherever failure occurs, the bottom of it is the 
absence of the Lord of hosts, for he cannot fail. I heard 
one, speaking of the district in which he lives, say, "We 
are a religious people ; almost all the people attend a place 
of worship, but," he added, " I am bound to add that of 
spiritual life we have few traces. One church has given 
up its prayer-meetings; another feels that its entertain- 
ments are more important than its worship, and another 
is notorious for worldliness." This is a testimony as 
terrible as it is common. The worst thing that can be 
said of any Christian community is this: "Thou hast a 
name to live and art dead." "Thou art neither cold nor 
hot." Our Lord Jesus says, "I would thou wert cold or 
hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither 
cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." A 
church without life and zeal makes Christ sick; he can- 
not bear it. He can put up with downright godlessness 
sooner than with a profession of religion out of which 
the life and the power are gone, since it has cooled down 
into lukewarmness. This, then, we should pray for con- 
tinually — the presence of God in the midst of his people. 

"Great Shepherd of thine Israel 
Who didst between the cherubs dwell, 
And leadest the tribes, thy chosen sheep, 
Safe through the desert and the deep: 

Thy church is in the desert now ; 
Shine from on high, and guide us through; 
Turn us to thee, thy love restore; 
We shall be saved, and sigh no more." 

II. To whet your desire for this let me pass on to 
the second head of my subject, which is briefly to de- 
scribe THE RESULTS OF THIS DIVINE PRESENCE. Some of these 
results are mentioned in the conU ct. One of the first is 
leading — ''God brought them out of Egypt" (verse 22). 
The best critics give us. another rendering: "God is 
bringing them out of Egypt." When God is in the 
midst of his people he is leading them, so that we may 
cheerfully sing that song, "He leadeth me; he leadeth 
me," and go on with David to word it, " He leadeth 
me beside the still waters." We want no other leader 
in the church when Ave have God ; for his eye and arm 
will guide his people. I am always afraid of having 
human rules in a church, and equally fearful of being 
governed by human precedents. I am afraid of power 
being vested in one, or two, or twenty men; the power 
must be in the [.Lord. himself That church which has 
God in the midst of it rules itself, and goes right with- 
out any other guidance but that which comes of the 
Holy Spirit's working. Such a church keeps together 
without aiming at uniformity, and goes on to victory 
even though it makes no noise. That movement is right 
which is led by God, and that is sure to be all wrong 
which is led in the best possible way if God be absent, 
Organization is all very well, but I sometimes feel in- 
clined to join with Zwingle in the battle when he said, 
"In the name of the Holy Trinity let all loose:" for 
when everybody is free, if God be present everybody is 
bound to do the right. When each man moves accord- 
ing to the divine instinct in him there will be little need 
of regulations: all is order where God rules. Just as the 
atoms of matter obey the present power of God, so do sep- 
arate believers obey the one great impelling influence. 
Oh, for God to be in the church to lead it: and it shall 
be rightly guided. Do not fall in love with this partic- 
ular system or that, my brother; do not cry up this 
scheme of working or that! Get the Spirit of God, and 
almost any shape that spiritual life takes will be a form 
of energy suitable for the particular emergency. God 
never leads his people wrongly. It is for them to follow 
the fiery, cloudy pillar; though it lead them through the 
sea, they shall traverse it dry-shod; though it lead them 
through a desert, they shall be fed; though it bring them 
into a thirsty land, they shall drink to the full of water 
from the rock. We must have the Lord with us to guide 
us into our promised rest. 

The next blessing is strength. " He hath as it were 
the strength of an unicorn " (verse 22). It is generally 
agreed that the creature here meant is an extinct species 
of urus or ox, most nearly represented by the buffalo 
of the present period. This gives us the sentence, — "He 
hath as it were the strength of a buffalo." When God 
is in a church, what rugged strength, what massive force, 
what irresistible energy is sure to be there ! And how 
untamable is the living force! You cannot yoke this 
buffalo to everybody's plough: it has its own free way 
of living, and it acts after its own style. "When the Lord 
is with a church her power is not in numbers, though 
very speedily she will increase; her power is not wealth, 
though God will take care that the money comes when 
it is needed: her power lies in God, and that power be- 
comes irresistible, untamable, unconquerable. Force and 
energy are with the Lord. I do fear me that what many 
bodies of Christian people need is this force. Examine 
yonder religious body: it is huge, but it lacks muscle; 
it is a fine-looking organization, but soul, sinew, back- 
bone are wanting. Where God is there is sure to be life- 
force. When the Spirit of God descended upon the first 
saints they began to speak with wondrous power; and 
though they were persecuted, they were not subdued. 
No bit could be put into their mouths to hold them in, 
for they went everywhere preaching the word. Of the 
true Israel it shall be said — his strength is as the strength 
of the buffalo: it cannot be controlled or conquered. 

The next result is safety. " Surely there is no en- 
chantment against Jacob, neither is there any divina- 
tion against Israel." The presence of God quietly baf- 
fles all the attempts of the evil one. I have noticed, dear 
brethren, in this church, where we have had God's pres- 
ence in a great measure, that all around us people have 
gone off to this opinion and to the other fancy, yet our 
members as a rule have stood firm. Persons say to me, 
" Do you not sometimes answer the skepticisms of the 
day?" I answer, Xo. They do not come in my way. 
"Do not modern opinions trouble your church?" They 
have not done so. Why? because God is there, and spirit- 
ual life in vigorous exercise does not fall a victim to dis- 
ease. A gracious atmosphere does not agree with modern 
doubt. When people fall into that evil they go where 
the thing is indulged, or at least where it is combated; 
where in some way or other they can develop their love 
of novelty and foster the notion of their own wisdom. 
Infidelity, Socinianism, and modern thought can make 
no headway where the Spirit is at work. Enchantment 
does not lie against Israel, and divination does not touch 
Jacob. If a church will keep to truth, keep to God, and 
do its own work, it can live like a lamb in the midst of 
wolves without being torn in pieces. Have God with 
you, and not only the evil of doctrinal error but every 
other shall be kept far from you. There was even when 
Christ w^as in the Church a Judas in the midst of it; and 
even in the apostles' days there were some that went out 
from them because they were not of them, for if they had 
been of them doubtless they would have continued with 
them ; hence we may not expect to be without false breth- 
ren. But the true safety of the church is not a creed, not 
an enactment for expelling those who violate the creed; 
the presence of God alone can protect his people against 
the cunning assaults of their foes. 

Upon these words " there is no enchantment against 
Jacob, no divination against Israel," suffer a few sen- 
tences. There are still a few foolish people in the world 
who believe in witchcraft and spells, but ye, beloved, if 
you love the Lord, throw such nonsense to the winds. 
Do you not hear people talk about this being lucky and 
that unlucky ? This notion is heathenish and unchristian. 
Never utter such nonsense. But even if there were such 
things as witchcraft and divination, if this house were 
full of devils and the floor? swarmed with invisible sprites, 
of an evil sort, yet if we be the people of God, surely 
there is no enchantment against us. Divination cannot 
touch a child of God: the evil one is chained. Where- 
fore be of good courage : if God be for us, who can be 
against us? 

Further than that, God gives to his people the next 
blessing, that is of his so working among them as to make 
them a wonder, and cause out-siders to raise enquiries 
about them. "According to this time it shall be said of 
Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought?" Is not 
that a singular thing? Here is Balaam with his seven 
altars, and seven bullocks, and seven rams, and here is 
Balak, and they are all going to compass some dreadful 
evil against Israel. The prophet is a man of great skill 
in the occult arts: and what does God say ? In effect he 
says, — From this hour in which you try to curse them I 
will bless them more than ever, until I will make them 
say, and their enemies say, "What hath God wrought?" 
Brethren, there is another question, " What hath Israel 
wrought?" I am glad that Israel's work is not my sub- 
ject just now, because I should make a very wretched 
sermon out of it; we have better music in the words, 
"What hath God wrought?" Let me tell, not what I 
have done, but what God has done; not what human 
nature is, but what God's nature is, and what the grace 
of God will work in the midst of his people. If God be 
with us we shall be signs and wonders, until those about 
us shall say, " What is this that God is doing?" Yes, 
in you, poor Jacob, wrestling, halting on your thigh, 
men shall see marvels and cry, " What hath God wrought?" 
Much more shall it be so with you, my brother Israel, 
you who have prevailed and won the blessing; you are 
as a prince with God, and you shall make men enquire, 
11 What hath God wrought ? " 

When God is with his people he will give them power 
of a destructive kind. Do not be frightened. Here is the 
text for it: "Behold, the people shall rise up as a great 
lion, and lift up himself as a young lion" — that is, as a 
lion in the fullness of his vigor, — "he shall not lie down 
until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain. "' 
God has put into his church, when he is in it, a most 
wonderful, destructive power as against spiritual wicked- 
ness. A healthy church kills error, and tears in pieces 
evil. Not so very long ago our nation tolerated slavery 
in our colonies. Philanthropists endeavored to destroy 
slavery; but when was it utterly abolished? It was 
when Wilberforce roused the church of God, and when 
the church of God addressed herself to the conflict, then 
she tore the evil thing to pieces. I have been amused 
with what Wilberforce said the day after they passed the 
Act of Emancipation. He merrily said to a friend when 
it was all done, " Is there not something else we can 
abolish?" That was said playfully, but it shows the 
spirit of the church of God. She lives in conflict and 
victory; her mission is to destroy everything that is 
bad in the land. See the fierce devil of intemperance 
how it devours men ! Earnest friends have been labor- 
ing against it, and they have done something for which 
we are grateful, but if ever intemperance is put down, it 
will be when the entire church of God shall arouse her- 
self to protest against it. When the strong lion rises up 
the giant of drunkenness shall fall before him. "He 
shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the 
blood of the slain." I augur for the world the best results 
from a fully aroused church. If God be in her there is no 
evil which she cannot overcome. This crowded London 
of ours sometimes appalls me, — the iniquity which reigns 
and rages in the lower districts, the general indifference 
and the growing atheism of the people, — these are some- 
thing terrible; but let not the people of God be dismayed. 
If the Lord be in the midst of us we shall do with this 
as our sires have done with other evils : we shall rise up 
in strength, and not lie down till the evil is destroyed. 
For the destruct ions, mark you, of God's people, are not 
the destruct ions of men and women; they consist in the 
overthrow of sin, the tearing in pieces of systems of ini- 
quity. This it is which God shall help his church to do, 
he being in the midst of her. 

Once more: the results of God's presence are to be 
seen, not only in the context, but in other matters which 
we have personally experienced and hope to experience 
more fully still. Note them. When God is in a church 
there is a holy awe upon the hearts of his people; there is 
also a childlike trustfulness and hopefulness, and conse- 
quent courage and joy. When the Lord is in the midst of 
his people the ordinances of his house are exceeding sweet ; 
baptism and the Lord's Supper become divinely painted 
pictures of our burial in Christ, and of our life through 
him; the preaching of the word drops as dew and distils 
as the rain; the meetings for prayer are fresh and fervent ; 
we want to stay in them hour after hour, we feel it such 
a happy thing to be there. The very house wherein we 
meet grows beautiful to us; we love the place where our 
Lord is wont to meet with us. Then work for Christ is 
easy, nay, delightful; God's people never want urging 
on, they are eager for the fray, when the Lord is with 
them. Then, too, suffering for Christ becomes pleasant, 
yea, any kind of suffering is easily borne. 

"I can do all things, or can bear 
All sufferings, if my Lord be there : 
Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains, 
While his left hand my head sustains." 

Then prayer grows abundant all over the church, both 
in private and in public. Then life is made vigorous; 
the feeblest becomes as David, and David like the angel 
of the Lord. Then love is fervent; unity is unbroken; 
truth is esteemed, and the living of truth in the life 
is sought after by all the people of God. Then effort 
is successful; the church enlarges the bounds of her 
tent, for she breaks forth on the right hand and on 
the left. Then her seed inherits the Gentiles, and the 
desolate places are inhabited. Then God gives unto 
her the holy energy with which she vanquishes nations. 
When God is with her she becomes like a sheaf of fire 
in the midst of the stubble, and consumes her adver- 
saries round about. " Fair as the moon, clear as the 
sun, and terrible as an army with banners," is a church 
which has God in her midst. 

But now notice one thing in my text, and with that 
1 close this description. Where God is, we are told, 
" The shout of a Icing is among them" What is the shout 
of a king? When great commanders are known to 
have come into a camp what a thrill of joy it causes 
among their trusty warriors. When the soldiers have 
been much dejected it has been whispered in their tents — 

" The king has come to marshal us, 
All in his armor dressed," 

and from that moment every man has cheered up. At 
the sight of the king as he comes riding into the camp 
the host raises a great shout. What means it? It is 
a shout of loyal love— they are glad to welcome their 
leader. So is it with us when we sing — 
"The King himself comes near," 
we are all as glad as glad can be. Those who cannot 
come out to see their prince, because they are lying 
on their sick beds in hospital, clap their hands, while 
even the little children in their mothers' arms join in 
the general joy. "The king is come," say they, and 
his presence kindles their enthusiasm till they make the 
hills ring again. You know how the stern Ironsides 
felt when Cromwell came along; every man was a hero 
when he led the way. They were ready for any ad- 
venture, no matter how difficult, as long as their great 
chief was there. That enthusiasm which was inspired 
by Alexander, and by Napoleon, and by other great 
commanders, is the earthly image of the spiritual fervor 
felt by the church when the Lord Jesus is in her midst. 
What next? When the King comes and they have 
received him with enthusiasm, he cries, "Now is the 
hour of battle;" and at once a shout goes up from his 
warriors who are eager for the fight. When a clan 
of Highlanders was led to the battle by their chief 
he had only to show them the enemy and with one 
tremendous shout they leaped upon them like lions. 
It is so with the people of God. When God is with 
us then are we Btfoltg, resolute, determined. The 
charge of the servants of God is as the rush of a hurri- 
cane against a bowing wall and a tottering fence. In 
God is our confidence of victory. With God present 
no man's heart fails him; no doubt enters the host. 
"Be strong:, and quit yourselves like .men," is the word 
that is passed round, for their king's eye makes them 
brave and the presence of his majesty secures them 
triumph. My brethren, let us cry to God, entreating 
him to be among us. This it is that you want in your 
Sunday-schools, in your mission halls, in your street 
preaching, in your tract distributing; it is this that 
I want beyond everything when I have to speak to 
you in this vast house. If 1 could hear the sound of 
my Master's feet behind me I would .speak though I 
were lying upon the borders of the grave; but if God 
be gone I am bereft of power. What is the use of words 
without the Spirit? We might as well mutter to the 
whistling winds as preach to men without the Lord. 
God, if thou be with us then the shout of a King 
is among us, but without thee we pine away. 

III. Thirdly, let us look at a very important point, 
and a very practical one too: What can be done for 
THE SECURING AND PRESERVING OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD WITH 
the chur«h ? This is a matter that would require several 
sermons to discuss it fully; but I notice that there is 
something even in the conformation of a church to secure 
this. God is very tolerant, and he bears with many 
mistakes in his servants and yet blesses them; but 
depend upon it, unless a church is formed at the very 
outset upon scriptural principles and in God's own way 
sooner or later all the mistakes of her constitution will 
turn out to be sources of weakness. Christ loves to 
dwell in a house which is built according to his own 
plans, and not according to the whims and fancies of 
men. The church ought not to set up as her authority 
the decrees of men, either living or dead; her ruler is 
Christ. Associations formed otherwise than according 
to Scripture must fail in the long run. I wish Chris- 
tians would believe this. Chillingworth said, "The 
Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protest- 
ants." That is not true. Certain Protestants have 
tacked many other things to the Bible; and they are 
suffering as the result of their folly, for they cannot keep 
their church from becoming Popish. Of course they 
cannot: they have admitted a little leaven of Popery, 
and it will leaven the whole lump. The dry rot in 
one part of the house will spread throughout the whole 
fabric sooner or later. Let us be careful to build on 
the foundation of Christ, and then let every man take 
heed how he build thereon ; for even if the foundation 
is good, yet if he build with hay and stubble the fire 
will cause him grievous loss. 

But next, God will only dwell with a church which 
is full of life. The living God will not inhabit a dead 
church. Hence the necessity of having really regen- 
erated people as members of the church. We cannot 
secure this in every case with all our watching: tares 
will grow among the wheat. But if the admission of 
unregenerate men is usual, and there are no restrictions, 
then the Lord will be grieved and leave us. God dwell- 
eth not in temples made with hands: he has nothing 
to do with bricks and mortar; he dwells in living souls. 
Remember that text: "God is not the God of the dead, 
but of the living," and it bears this sense among others, 
that he is not the God of a church made up of uncon- 
verted people. Oh that we may all live unto God, and 
may that life be past all question. 

That being supposed, we next notice that to have God 
among us we must he full of faith. Unbelief gives forth 
such a noxious vapor that Jesus himself could not stop 
where it was. His strength was paralyzed : — " He could 
not do mighty works there because of their unbelief." 
Faith creates an atmosphere in which the Spirit of God 
can work: meanwhile the Spirit of God himself creates 
that faith, so that it is all of his own working from first 
to last. Brothers, sisters, do you believe your God ? Do 
you believe up to the hilt? Alas, too many only believe 
a little ! But do you believe his every word ? Do you 
believe his grandest promises ? Is he a real God to you, 
making his words into facts every day of your lives ? 
If so, then the Lord is among us as in the holy place. 

Faith builds a pavilion in which her king delights to 
sit enthroned. 

With that must come prayer. Prayer is the breath 
of faith. 1 do not believe God will ever be long with a 
church that does net pray: and I feel certain that when 
meetings for prayer, when family prayer, when private 
prayer, when any form of prayer comes to be at a dis- 
count, the herd will leave the people to learn their weak- 
ness. Want of prayer cuts the sinews of the church for 
practical working; she is lame, feeble, impotent, if prayer 
be gone. It* anything be the matter with the lungs we 
fear consumption: prayer-meetings are the lungs of the 
church, and anything the matter there means consump- 
tion to the church, or at best a gradual decline, attended 
with general debility. Oh, my brothers, if we want to 
have God with us, pass the watchword round. "Let us 
pray." Let us pray after the fashion of the widow who 
was importunate and would not he repulsed; remember, 
it is written, "Men ought always to pray, and not to 
faint." Where prayer is fervent God is present. 

Supposing there is this faith and prayer, we shall also 
need holiness of life. You know what Balaam did when 
he found he could net curse the people. Satanic was his 
advice, lie bade the king of Moab seduce the men of 
Israel by the women of Moab that were fair to look upon; 
these were to fascinate them by their beauty, and then 
to invite them to their idolatrous rites, which rites were 
orgies of lust: he hoped that the lewdness of the people 
would grieve the Lord and cause him to leave them and 
then Moab could smite them. He sadly succeeded. If 
it had not been for Phineas who in holy wrath drove his 
javelin right through a man and woman in the very act 
of sin, sparing none in the vehemence of his zeal, Israel 
l «*.i been quite undone. So in a church. The devil will 
work hard to lead one into licentiousness, another int& 
drunkenness, a third into dishonesty, and others into 
worldliness. If he can only get the goodly Babyloni.sU 
garment and the wedge of gold buried in an AchaiM 
tent, then Israel will be chased before her adversaries. 
God cannot dwell in an unclean church. A hoi} 
abhors the very garments spotted by the flesh. Be ye 
holy as Christ is holy. Do not take up with this Ger- 
man-silver electrotype holiness, which is so much boasted 
of nowadays. Do not be deluded into self-righteous 
but seek after real holiness; and if you do find it you 
will never boast about it: your life will* speak, but your 
lips will never dare to say, "See how holy I am." Real 
holiness dwells with humility, and makes men aspire 
after that which yet lies beyond them. Be holy, upright, 
just, straight, true, pure, chaste, devout. God send us 
this behavior, and then we shall keep him among .us as 
long as we live. 

Lastly, when we have reached to that, let us have 
practical, consecration. God will not dwell in a house 
which does not belong to him. Xo, the first thing with 
any one of us is to answer this question: — Dost thou 
give thyself up to Christ, body, soul, and spirit, to live 
lor him and to die for him? Wilt thou give him all that 
thou hast of talent and ability, and substance, and time, 
and life itself? Where there is a church made up of 
consecrated people, there God will remain, and there he 
will make a heaven below, and there the shout of a king 
shall be heard, and there his strength shall be revealed, 
and there his glory shall be seen even as it is beheld on 
high. The Lord send us this, for Jesus' sake. Amen 
and Amen. 
C. H. SPURGEON