“Going And Weeping”
“Going and weeping.”
POSSIBLY someone says, on hearing my text, “I like better to be going and singing.” Yes, my Friend, and I do not blame you for making such a choice. As long as you can go and sing in the name of the Lord, let nothing stop you from doing so. It is meet that we who have been redeemed by Christ from destruction and are heirs of Heaven, should make merry and be glad. We should “rejoice in the Lord always,” yet we must not despise others if they should seem to give more prominence to another phase of spiritual experience, namely, “going and weeping,” for there are sons of sorrow on earth who will undoubtedly be sons of joy in Heaven. Among the sweetest flowers that bloom in the Savior’s garden are those that, like the snowdrops and the lilies of the valley, hang down their heads.
It is also possible to be going and singing and yet, at the same time, to be going and weeping, for the mind may be in such a complex condition that while it has abundant cause for joy, it has a sweet well of happy grief within itself. There is such a thing as a bitter sweet–the worldling has that. But there is also such a thing as a sweet bitter–and the Christian often has that–so that while he is weeping, he can also be singing. While his soul is cast down within him, yet does he lift up his horn on high and rejoice in the God of his salvation! It is quite possible to blend these two experiences and the life of God’s people thus becomes like a rainbow, consisting partly of the sunshine of Heaven and partly of the raindrops of earth. They sing because of their present and future joy–and they weep because of the sad past and the relics of the Fall that are still about them–and the sins of the age that still surround them. I will not say that “Going and Weeping” is a better motto than “Going and Singing,” but sometimes it is the only one we can use. And often it may be joined with the other. I hope I shall be able to show you that “going and weeping” is a very choice way of living.
We see in our text, first, a blessed combination. when and where thiscombination should be conspicuous. reasons why this combination should be manifest in our lives.
- First, here is A BLESSED COMBINATION–“going and weeping.” The two things certify each other, supplement each other and stimulate each other.
First, they certify each other. I mean that when a man is going away from his past sins, away from his old habits,away from self-righteousness, if that reformation is a work of Divine Grace, it will have a watermark upon it–there will be “weeping” with the “going.” If the prodigal had only said, “I will arise and go to my father,” we might have doubted the reality of his repentance. But when he added, “and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son,” then the tears of penitence, which must have accompanied such a confession, verified the reformation. Beware, Beloved, of all dry-eyed reformations! Certain preachers disparage and run down repentance–they say that it is simply “a change of mind.” That is true in a sense, but what a change of mind it is–not such a change of mind as a man makes when, instead of buying one hat, he buys another or, instead of spending a shilling, he saves nine pence out of it! I have heard preachers refer to repentance as if it were a trifling, insignificant alteration of opinion–but if that is all the repentance we have had, it is a repentance of which we need to repent! The old-fashioned repentance is the only one that will bring you to Heaven! If you do not leave–
“The sins you loved before,
And show that you in earnest grieve,
By doing so no more”–
you will come short of the repentance which the Holy Spirit works in the souls of the Lord’s own chosen people! There must be, as John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees, “fruits meet for repentance.” Or, as the marginal reading puts it, “answerable to amendment of life.” There must be true godly sorrow over your past evil conduct. There must be a loathing of yourself in the sight of God. And all the “going” that is not attended by “weeping” will be a bad going after all.
Now I will turn this Truth of God around the other way by reminding you that there are some persons who profess to be very repentant concerning the past–if they could live their lives over again they would not live at all as they have done–so they say and their tears flow copiously. I am not always pleased to see copious tears. When seeing inquirers, I have noticed that when men weep very much, they are either men of a tender spirit who are easily moved to tears, or else they have been so accustomed to drink that they have got into a maudlin state and cannot help crying. I would rather have tears falling inside a penitent than outside. Never condemn a man because he does not weep as others do–it may be that his heart is too full for tears. Nor condemn those who cry outwardly, for tears are often genuine evidences of repentance. I merely remark that a briny tear, in itself, is not a sufficient proof of that godly sorrow for sin of which the tear is only the index. And when I warned you against dry-eyed reformations, I meant those so-called reformations which do not include real sorrow for sin. External weeping is quite a secondary matter, but inward weeping there must be in all true converts. Some people cry a great deal and talk a great deal–they say that their heart is adamant and that they are dead as a stone. Of course they are dead! They never were spiritually alive and the natural, stony heart has never been taken out of their flesh! There is a great deal of truth in what they say, but they have not learned it from the Spirit of God. They have caught certain phrases from the lips of gracious people and merely say what they hear others say–just as parrots do when they are taught to repeat what their owners say.
How am I to know whether this profession of repentance is genuine or not? Why, as I know the value of the “going” by the “weeping,” so I know the value of the “weeping” by the “going!” Is the weeping man’s life changed? Has God the Holy Spirit enabled him to lay the axe to the roots of those old habits of which he says he repents? Does he go on drinking and yet say that he mourns that he was a drunkard? Does he go on swearing and yet say that he laments his profanity? Is his temper constantly boiling over, yet he says that he repents of it? My dear Friends, there must be something more than that, for God cannot look upon our expressions of regret for the past as having any sincerity in them unless they are attended by a Grace-assisted effort to put an end to such sins for the future! There must be the “going” to prove the “weeping” to be true, as well as the “weeping” to prove that the “going” is in the right road.
In the next place, these two things supplement each other. That is to say, what is deficient in the “going” is suppliedin the “weeping.” And what is not in the “weeping” will be found in the “going.” For instance, the “going” concerns the present. When a man is, by the Grace of God, renewed in the spirit of his mind, he is a different man from what he used to be–there is faith instead of unbelief, love to God instead of enmity against Him and holiness instead of sin. In fact, he is “a new creature” in Christ Jesus! And this “going” applies to the future as well as to the present, for the man will “go from strength to strength.” Led on by the Divine Spirit, he will “grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” He will tread the path of holiness till he enters the Celestial City, to go no more out forever. But when the black and dreary past of his sinful life again comes before his mind, he cannot help weeping. Yet even then he pleads the merit of the precious blood of Jesus and prays with penitent king David, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness: according unto the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” When that black past is blotted out like a cloud blown away by the wind, the “weeping” and the “going” are not separated–tears have still to be shed because of the turning aside, the faltering, the halting even in going along the road which God has marked out for us. When we see men reclaimed from outward sin. When we mark the manifest change in their character we may call that “going” in the right road! But unless there is some “weeping” through intense heart-emotion, some manifestation of sincere sorrow over that in which they once delighted and of regret that they have not attained to the high and holy things which ought to be the portion of all true Christians, there is something lacking.
Now turn the thought the other way and notice how the “going” supplements the “weeping.” The “weeping” is an evidence that we have learned our need. The “going” to Christ in faith supplies that need. The “weeping” is the acknowledgment of the disease. The “going” is the application to the Great Physician. The “weeping” mourns over our nakedness. The “going” takes us to the King’s wardrobe to put on Christ’s spotless robe of righteousness. The “weeping” is because of our emptiness. The “going” links us on to His fullness. It would be wretched “weeping” if we did not know the blessed way of “going” to Him of whom Paul wrote, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
I also said that these two things stimulate each other–and the truth of this statement is readily perceptible. Our"going" leads to our “weeping,” and our “weeping” excites us to “going.” The poor prodigal felt the pangs of hunger within his body and he felt in his spirit that he had sinned against his father. Therefore he said, “I will arise and go.” And I expect that as he went, his hunger quickened his pace–and that every pang of his emptiness, and every sight of his filthiness–and every consequent tear would make him speed with greater energy towards his father’s house. A deep sense of sin is often a blessedly impelling power to drive us to the Savior. I desire never, in this world, to be free from a deep sense of the bitterness and guiltiness of sin. Even though freed from the guilt of sin by the precious blood of Jesus, I still desire to feel what an abominable thing sin is, that I may go, eagerly and passionately, to my dear Lord’s wounds and get the one only effectual remedy for all my soul diseases. Light thoughts of sin breed light thoughts of the Savior. When our “weeping” over our transgressions ceases, our “going” to Him who “was wounded for our transgressions” is apt to also cease. Repentance and faith are like the Siamese twins. If one is sick, the other cannot be well, for they live but one life. If ever you are asked which comes first, repentance or faith, you may answer, by another question, “Which spoke of a wheel moves first when the wheel begins to revolve?” You know that they are all set in motion at the same time. So, when the hand of God sets our soul “going” in the right road, it also sets our soul and often our eyes “weeping.” And I believe that when our soul is really “going” towards God, it is with a deepened repentance over the past and a sincere “weeping” over the imperfections which it still has to lament.
So that the “weeping” stimulates the “going” and I am sure that the “going” stimulates the “weeping.” If the Lord helps you to grow in Grace and you get much joy and peace in believing, you will be sure to say, “What a fool I was to have been all those years a slave to sin and an enemy to such a blessed Savior!” And when you get very near to God and “walk in the light, as He is in the light,” you will see your imperfections more than you ever did before. When I meet with a Brother who tells me that he is nearly perfect, I know that he is living in the dark, for, if he lived in the light, he would see how far short he came of the Glory of God. You think your white linen looks very white, do you not? But when the snow falls and you place your linen upon it, it no longer looks white. So, until you come near to God, you do not know what “perfection” is–but when you get even a dim perception of what His holiness is, you say, with the Patriarch Job, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Oh, that the Lord would enable us to have more true “going” in the way of holiness–growing in communion with the Holy Spirit, advancing in our likeness to Christ and becoming more humble, more prayerful and more fervent in spirit and more diligent in service, for then I am certain that the blessed art of holy “weeping” would be more practiced by us every day of our life! So, the “weeping” helps our “going” in the right road and our poor “going” leads to more “weeping” because we do not go better.
II. Now I leave the explanation of this strange combination of “going and weeping” to point out WHEN AND WHERE IT SHOULD BE MOST CONSPICUOUS.
And here, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I begin with myself and with my Brothers engaged in the same holy office.Scripture teaches us that with the sower of the Good Seed of the Kingdom, there should always be a “going” and a “weeping.” Here is a passage to prove my assertion to be true, “He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” We have a Christ-like task if our “going” is what it should be–to “preach the Word,” to “make full proof of our ministry,” to “keep back nothing that is profitable unto you,” to bring forth, as scribes instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven, “things new and old” out of the Divine Treasury–to go after the outlying masses and “compel them to come in,” that our Master’s great House may be filled for the great Gospel feast to care for the sick, the sad and the dying–all this is included in the “going” of “a good minister of Jesus Christ.” But it will be a poor “going” if there is no “weeping” with it! Think of the Prince of Preachers–what a wonderful “going” was His! Ah, and what wonderful “weeping” was His–at the grave of Lazarus and over the Jerusalem sinners! How deeply He loved even those who rejected Him! Oh, that we who profess to be His servants had more tender hearts! Then we would say with the weeping Prophet Jeremiah, “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” Paul was indeed a “going” preacher–“in journeying often” and, “in labors more abundant.” But what a “weeping” preacher he was also! You know how he said to the elders of the Church at Ephesus, in his farewell address at Miletus, “Remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.” And to the Church at Philippi he wrote, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ.” So these two things, “going and weeping,” ought to be characteristic of every true preacher of the Word–and of all teachers and other servants of the Lord Jesus Christ whose office is of the like kind. I often feel that I can adopt Doddridge’s language and say–
“Arise, my most tender thoughts, arise!
To torrents melt my streaming eyes
And you, my heart, with anguish feel
Those evils which you cannot heal!
See human nature sunk in shame.
See scandals poured on Jesus' name!
The Father wounded through the Son–
The world abused and souls undone.
See the short course of vain delight
Closing in everlasting night–
In flames that no abatement know
Though briny tears forever flow.
My God, I feel the mournful scene.
My heart yearns over dying men
And gladly my pity would reclaim
And snatch the firebrands from the flame!
But feeble my compassion proves,
And can but weep where most it loves!
Your own all-saving arms employ,
And turn these drops of grief to joy.”
This combination, “going and weeping,” should be conspicuous, not only in those who plead with men for God, but also in those who plead with God for men. The best praying consists in “going” “boldly unto the Throne of Grace” and pleading there–yet they who win most from God are those whose hearts are most deeply affected–those in whom there is the “weeping” as well as the “going.” Such was the prayer of Jacob in that great night of wrestling concerning which the Prophet Hosea says, “He had power over the Angel and prevailed. He wept and made supplication unto Him.” Weeping is a wondrous help to those who would find their way to the heart of God! So, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, pour out your hearts before Him–pour them out like water before the Lord and when your heart is breaking for the longing that it has, even if you shed no outward tears, you have learned the sacred art of praying and you shall receive what you have asked in so far as it is according to the will of God!
Beloved, it is a sad thing to have to say, yet it is true, that this ought to be very conspicuous inbacksliders. I am always glad to see backsliders returning to their first love and restored to fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. But there are one or two things that I always like to see about such people–the absence of all arrogance and self-justification and the presence of deep humility both towards God and towards His Church–for their offense has been against God’s people as well as against God, Himself. When a Church member falls into sin, all the members have to suffer in their repute among men and they also have to suffer in their power with God and, therefore, the returning of a backslider should always be accompanied by manifest signs of the deepest contrition. Many speak of David’s sin, but say nothing of David’s penitence. Nathan rebuked him in a fashion that very few kings would have endured, yet there was no anger in David’s heart against him for the stern way in which he told him of his faults. The 51 st and other penitentialPsalms show how melted by contrition David’s soul was–groans, sobs and sighs escaped from his heart instead of his former joyous music. There was a “going” and a “weeping” on the part of the repenting backslider! If he had known George Herbert’s quaint lines, he might have said–
“O who will give me tears? Come all you springs,
Dwell in my head and eyes–come, clouds and rain!
My grief has need of all the watery things
That Nature has produced. Let every vein
Suck up a river to supply my eyes!
My weary weeping eyes are too dry for me
Unless they get new conduits, new supplies,
To bear them out and with my state agree.
What are two shallow fords, two little spouts
Of a lesser world? The greater is but small–
A narrow cupboard for my griefs and doubts,
Which need provision in the midst of all.
Verses, you are too fine a thing, too wise
For my rough sorrows–cease, be dumb and mute!
Give up your feet and running to my eyes,
And keep your measures for some lover’s lute,
Whose grief allows him music and a rhyme–
For mine excludes both measure, tune and time.
Alas, my God!”
But, Beloved, this “going and weeping” should also be seen in Christians who are making progress in the DivineLife. I believe it always will be seen in those who are diligently and carefully watching and striving against even the appearance of evil. That “going” which consists in a sort of feverish excitement, or in a sudden leap into a high condition of soul is to be very seriously suspected. I have found that I have had to fight for every inch of the road that I have ever traveled Heavenward. I do not think I ever gained any spiritual victory easily. If any here find the road to Heaven to be strewn with flowers and one in which they can run without being weary, I can only say that I have not found it so–and that if I did not wait upon the Lord, I should utterly fall. Brothers and Sisters, I pray you to suspect that it is presumption and not the full assurance of faith if you are always “going,” but never “weeping.” I have already explained that this “weeping” does not put aside the rejoicing, for a Christian may “rejoice in the Lord” all the more while he mourns before God on account of his own shortcomings, waywardness and faultiness. I think the most joyful soul among us may willingly sing–
“Lord, let me weep for naught but sin,
And after none but Thee
And then I would, oh, that I might
A constant weeper be!”
And this “going and weeping” should also be conspicuous in every student–I mean not only students for theministry, but students for Heaven, and that is what every Christian is. The Apostle John was a student, and he once saw, in the hand of God, “a book…sealed with seven seals.” And when it was asked, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” and there was no man found worthy, what did John do? He says, “I wept much.” And often that is almost as good as knowing the original languages–indeed, it may be better! If the heart can weep over a Doctrine, it will get that Doctrine opened up before long. There is no chemical so strong as our tears for piercing through the hard shell of the Truth of God. Sincerely cry over the Truth and soon the Truth will enter your soul and you will know its inmost meaning! There is a way of “going” by bending the mind to the Truth of God, but there is also a “weeping” in the passionate longing that we ought always to have towards God’s statutes. “Going and Weeping” is a noble motto for the student.
So it is for the Christian worker and for the Christian sufferer. I will put the two together. The Christian workergoes and weeps–the Christian sufferer weeps, yet goes. I desire, while working for God in vigorous health, to maintain a lowly, humble, penitent frame of mind. But if sickly and laid low–and made to weep through bodily pain or relative affliction, I ask that I may have cheerful courage, so that if I cannot do much, I may do something for the Lord and stillkeep on “going.” I have seen and often is my spirit melted at the sight of one whose sufferings seldom abate, yet whose desire to serve God never abates, but rather increases and who would give anything if activity might take the place of patience. Blessed be those weak ones whom the Lord elects to suffer, yet who still seek to serve Him! And blessed are those who actively serve Him, yet sit humbly at His feet and feel that they are less than nothing and who weep tears of joy to think that God should so honor such poor worms as they are as to permit them to do anything for His dear name’s sake!
This “going and weeping” ought to be most conspicuous in those of you who are not yet saved. If you really want to be saved you will seek the Lord your God by hearing His Word and by much earnest prayer. If His Grace is really working in you, you will seek Him by casting yourselves at His feet and by looking to the great Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross and by trusting in His redeeming blood. But with all that “going” there will be “weeping.” You will loathe yourselves in your own sight–you will bemoan the corruptions of your heart and cry, “The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. From the soles of the feet even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.” Never cease your “weeping” till Christ has said, “I absolve you.” Sigh and cry until, at His dear Cross you have seen all your transgressions blotted out forever. O Sinner, I pray God to work in you this “going” and this “weeping!” I have already told you that the “weeping” is of no use without the “going” by faith to Christ, but I have also said to you that the supposed going to Christ is not a real “going” to Him unless there is also sincere “weeping” on account of sin. May your “going” be away from your sin and may your “weeping” lead you to look to Christ as you pray–
“Lord God of my salvation,
To You, to You, I cry!
Oh let my supplication
Arrest Your ear on high!
Distresses round me thicken,
My life draws near the grave–
Descend, O Lord, to quicken,
Descend my soul to save!”
III. Our time is nearly exhausted, but I ask you to have patience with me for two or three minutes more while I mention a very few out of the multitude of REASONS WHY THE “GOING” AND THE “WEEPING” SHOULD BE CONJOINED IN OUR LIVES.
And, first, speaking to the members of this Church, I mention that which is always uppermost with me. We want to see a great enlargement of our Church, a deep and permanent revival of religion. We have had a foretaste of it, but we are sighing and crying for a great deal more. If we are to have it, there must be in the Church a “going” and a “weeping.” Every Brother and every Sister must be doing something for the Lord! You who can preach in the street, go and do it! You who can distribute tracts, go and do it! You who can teach in the Sunday schools, go and do it! You who can serve the Lord in the lodging houses or anywhere else–you who can speak to the ones and the twos–go, go, GO, in theLord’s name, “go you into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature!” But you will go best where you go “weeping.” Ah, me, what cause we have for weeping! Planted in the midst of the greatest city upon the face of the earth–the greatest for population and, considering its Light of God, the greatest for transgression–what cause we have for weeping! If you knew what some of us have to know, you would know enough to give you heart-ache or heartbreak. If you went into some of our streets on the Sabbath, you might ask, “Is there any Sabbath at all with all this marketing and bargaining?” Look at the gin-palaces–those doors of Hell are wide open in almost every street–as though they sold the Bread of Life, men multiply these places where they destroy both body and soul! I dare hardly remind you of the haunts of vice–I will rather speak of the agents of superstition. How busily they ply their deadly trade! Some damn men by open sin but these damn them by a lie which they offer to them as the truth of God! This city is a reeking dunghill and, “except the Lord of Hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” May God, in His mercy, preserve us as salt in the midst of the general putridity!
Some of you have even greater cause than this for weeping for, in your own houses there are those who love not the Lord. Your children are not the Lord’s children. Perhaps your wife or your husband loves not your God. You may well weep as you go! Sympathy and activity, compassion and diligence–with this sweet mixture every saint ought to be anointed. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is better still, for that anointing has among its choicest ingredients the power to give us the sympathy and the diligence that we need.
Now, Beloved Friends, I speak to you who are not converted. If you are seeking the Lord, there ought to be in you the “going” and the “weeping.” The “weeping” as you think of Jesus and His great love to sinners like yourself. They despised Him, rejected Him, laughed Him to scorn but He still pursued them with love, as I trust He has pursued you. And I know some for whom He has, by His Grace, continued the pursuit until, at last, with a Divine art known only to Himself, He has made the unwilling, willing in the day of His power! For the love that Christ has to sinners, we ought all to feel our heart “weeping” that we should ever have offended such a Divine Lover. To transgress against His crown is high treason, but to transgress against His Cross is the sin of sins! I know not by what name to call such hardness of heart, such barbarity of spirit, such brutishness of soul. Think, for a moment, (for perhaps this may help you to go and weep), of the Lord, Himself, the King of Glory coming down among men and finding a poor shelter in His birth, little comfort in His life and no solace in His death. Very poor was He who could have worn the sun upon His head and the stars as rings upon His fingers! Very lowly was He before whom the tallest angel shrank into less than nothing in joyful adoration! Think of Him amidst the cold night of Gethsemane sweating great drops of blood! Think of Him scourged, spit upon, mocked and, at last, fastened to the cruel Cross to die the death of a slave–all for love of guilty men! Where are our hearts? Surely adamant is softer than our hearts if we do not weep to think that all this was for undeserving, illdeserving, Hell-deserving sinners! And for no motive but that He was so full of love to them that He must give Himself thus to suffer and to die for them. Let us go to His Cross and look upon Him whom we have pierced and mourn because of Him. And while we rejoice over pardoned guilt, let us mourn that we have pierced the Lord.
If nothing else will make us weep, there is one other reflection that should bring out the sorrow and also the activity of all Believers–and that is the fact that though we were once lost and far from God, we are now saved! There are sitting in this house hundreds, if not thousands of persons who were “heirs of wrath, even as others,” “but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God”! And now, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” “Oh, what amazing mercy,” each saved soul may well say, “and all this for me!” Everlasting Love ordained it. Immutable Love has accomplished it. And unchanging Love willperfect it! The chief of sinners, yet chosen before time began! A sinner since conversion, yet loved with a love that will never change–it cannot increase and it never will diminish–loved with a love that will outlast the sun when its bright lamp has burned up all its oil! A love that shall outlast time so that when the angel shall “stand upon the sea and upon the earth,” and swear “by Him that lives forever and ever,” that there shall be time no longer, it shall not affect the heritage my soul possesses in the Infinite, Eternal Love of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!
Oh, how could I ever offend such a God as this? Shame on my heart! Gladly would I smite you that you could ever be an enemy to One who loved you before the day-star knew its place. And O base spirit that does not now serve God better, more ardently, more passionately, more perfectly, seeing that all this love has been spent on you! Beloved, God grant that we may realize, in all its sweetness, the meaning of our text, “going and weeping,” and unto Him shall be glory forever and ever. Amen.