A Sermon Preached By John E. Hazelton
The older the child of God grows, the more he realises the disappointing and transitory and heart-sickening character of the world in which he dwells. The more he knows of his own heart, so fickle and changeable, the more he knows of the fulness and the lovingkindness of his never-changing God, the more precious does the book of Psalms become to him. Of all parts of the Word of God, this book is perhaps most frequently before the eyes, and under the contemplation, of the experienced Christian.
In the psalm which we have before us we have the declaration of David, who is designated here the servant of the Lord; the declaration of the power of God’s grace in his own soul; the outlook which it gave him, in the midst of the scenes in which his lot was cast, to the God of all grace, his faithful, covenant-keeping God. Here in this psalm we have David, the servant of the Lord, looking up to the God of all grace from amidst the world which was lying in wickedness. His heart was quieted by discerning the difference between the godly and the wicked. At the commencement of the psalm we have a solemn description of the wicked, and at the close we have the ultimate issue of their wickedness. The book of Psalms has stood the test of three thousand years, and Martin Luther, who by grace bathed his very soul in the truths of this hook, was accustomed to say: “Among other things the Psalms have taught me to prize a much-tried life, for the Psalms have been, and are, a source of unspeakable comfort to those who are much tried in the world through which they are passing.”
Here, then, we have before us the thoughts and the heart-breathings of David. It is often to me a source of much comfort that these psalms, which have fitted the experiences and expressed the desires, and given voice to the aspirations, and declared the confessions of the countless generations of God’s people who are now in heaven, exactly meet my experience, no matter in what frame I maybe, or whatever may be its phase. Surely the life of God must be in the souls of those to whom the Psalms provide so blessed a vehicle of their intercourse with God.
A solemn description, we have said, is given by David here at the commencement of the psalm of the spirit and character and haughtiness and rebellion of those who know not God. He says here: “There is no fear of God before their eyes; they set themselves against the Lord.” And lest any should say that David libelled or slandered the men of this world, he says, “I know what is in their hearts by what I have experienced of the power of sin. For the transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, There is no fear of God before their eyes.” He went into the inner chambers of his own soul. David here speaks of that which he knew, and testifies of that which he had seen.
Now in this psalm we have not depicted a state of things which has passed away. This psalm exactly describes the position and the outlook of the child of God to-day. Truly we can say as in Psalm 82, ”All the foundations of the earth are out of course.” Lawlessness and unrest prevail on the right hand and on the left. There is no fear of God before the eyes of mankind considered as a whole. Vital religion was never at a lower ebb than it is at this time; fundamental and revealed truth is either denied or ignored on the right band and on the left. The psalmist here viewed the disorganisation and unrest which prevailed in his day, and his faith rose. He lifted up his eyes from the wicked whom he described, and all that tormented his mind and cast down his spirit, and by faith he realised the presence, the power, the overruling hand of his infinite, wise and wonder-working God. What a mercy it is to have the gift of living faith, that faith which will stand the test, that faith which is not only the power by which we rest for full salvation upon the Lord Jesus Christ, but that wondrous grace which is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;” that grace which enables me to realise God in Christ; that grace which enables me to lay hold upon, as well as to see, the things that are invisible; that grace which lifts up my heart from this scene of disorganisation and unrest within and without, and shows to me God encircled with His own perfections; which shows to me God enshrined in His own sovereignty and glory—God upon the throne, watching, waiting, and presently dealing with all those problems concerning the existence and manifestation of wickedness which troubled the psalmist when he penned these words, for the last words of the psalm are concerning the wicked, “They are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.” We have what David did not so fully realise, that is, a sight in this our gospel day of Him who has risen, and is sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and who says, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.”
Now David says those who know God—this is how he describes the Lord’s people, those who know God will put their trust under the shadow of His wings. Here we have David in the midst of all these discouragements, nestling down under the wings of God. And what are they ? His mercy, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His judgments, His lovingkindness. “O God, therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.” This is spiritual religion. It is the believing comprehension of God as He has revealed Himself in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
David here avers what we too, many of us, have been privileged to find, that our God is a satisfying fountain, that all our springs are in Him; that all our resources are there; that He is a bank that never fails; that He is a river, the out- goings of which never freeze; that He is a fountain of satisfying delights. God has very different methods in dealing with every one of His people, but however widely His methods differ in the sovereignty of His wisdom, all the methods of God are directed to one point, and that is the training us up to know and to feel that all our resources, all our springs are in Him, and that only in Him can our souls find rest in this unsatisfying world.
This is spiritual religion,—to know, to feel, to draw from the infinite resources of our unfailing God in Christ. I am not here, nor is any minister sent forth to seek to transfer you from one set of opinions to another. If religion is merely an intellectual apprehension of these things; if religion consists merely in laying down one set of opinions and taking up another, it is nothing that will operate in our lives and in the crises through which we are called to pass. This is true religion, to be able to say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.” It is an unfailing God, and it is in this world, here and now, to enter into this experience of being abundantly satisfied with the fatness of His house, and to drink of the rivers of His pleasures.
Let us look, this morning, at God as the Portion of the believer, first, for SATISFACTION; and secondly, for SUFFICIENCY. Our God, the satisfaction of the hungry and thirsty soul! Our God, the sufficiency of those to whom all earthly streams are dry.
What does it mean, “satisfied abundantly with the fatness of Thy house”? The “fatness of Thy house” stands, speaking in the largest terms, for the salvation of our God. Are you satisfied with the salvation of our God in Christ? Here in the word “fatness” is set forth the soul-sustaining store of spiritual blessings, the richest and the best. “The fatness of Thy house “is a figure standing for the fulness of the Lord Jesus Christ. “The fatness of Thy house” signifies that Christ in His Person, Christ in His sacrifice, Christ in His finished work, is acceptable to God, “an offering of a sweet smelling savour.”
Go to the Old Dispensation; mark the provision that was made with regard to the animals that were offered upon those Jewish altars; the blood was always to be poured out, and the fat was always the Lord’s portion. The fat was to be offered unto Jehovah Himself. And so we have in the fatness of the Lord’s house, Christ accepted, Christ well pleasing; His sacrifice an offering of a sweet smelling savour unto a holy and just God, who by means of that sacrifice is a just God and yet the Justifier of the sinner, the Justifier of everyone that believeth.
“Abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house.” What are you satisfied with here? Are you satisfied with your circumstances? None of us are, really and truly. Satisfied with your position? None of us are, really and truly. Satisfied with family affairs? No one here is satisfied. Satisfied with the world? Satisfied with your experience? No one here can say this. Satisfied with your attainments in the divine life? No one here can say this. Our circumstances, our families, ourselves, our experience, everything we see, everything we touch, everything that is of the material, is unsatisfying. But the gospel declares “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house.”
Now see how beautifully this is brought out in its fulness and freeness in other parts of God’s Word. In Isaiah 45 we have this addressed to the unsatisfied ones: “Ye that have no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price.” In the 25th chapter of the same prophecy we have this, which, whilst referring to a time yet future, also expresses the fulness of the gospel feast: Upon this mountain the Lord of hosts hath made a feast of fat things, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well relined. And then we have the utterance of one who has gone in to this feast, and what has he found there? “My soul”—in the house of God—”my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness” (Ps 63:5). And once more: “He brought me into the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love.” You say, “I did believe and build all my hopes upon this and that prospect in connection with the life I spend; I did believe that that situation upon which I entered was to meet absolutely all my expectations.” But God has disappointed you; He has blown upon you. Here is the covenant word: “They shall be”—it is all of sovereign grace and mercy from the first to the last—”they shall be abundantly satisfied…Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light.”
Here, then, we have a great and a rich salvation for the feeding of the soul; pardon for my sins, a righteousness to meet my necessities, a precious Christ who is the meat and the drink of my soul. “My people shall be abundantly satisfied.”
But now let us go a little more closely into this word, “abundantly satisfied.” There are two words here, but they are represented by only one word in the original Hebrew. Now what is that one word which is translated here by two? This one word in Hebrew I find is sometimes rendered “moistened,” “saturated.” It is the same word which in Jeremiah 31 is translated “satiated”—”I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness.” It is the same word which is used where it says of the sword of the Lord, it is bathed in heaven. It is the same word which elsewhere is rendered “soaked.” It is the same word which in Psalm 65:10 is rendered thus: “Thou makest it soft with showers.” Now put all those together: saturated, satiated, bathed, soaked, made soft with showers. Go to the New Testament, and there in 1 John 2, we have this word: “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” Saturated with the unction, bathed with the unction, with our hearts—so hard and cold and clod-like—made soft with the showers of the unction. “Abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house,” so that elsewhere we have it, “All Thy paths drop fatness.” Then what is this satisfaction, this abundant satisfaction of the soul? It means that God’s people shall be watered with His blessings, that those blessings shall go through the whole inner man, and that we shall be fed as the thirsty earth is fed by the showers and the sunshine that come down from heaven. O how often have we seen the earth “abundantly satisfied” with the fatness of the shower! The leaves are sere and drooping; there are great cracks in the ground; the clods are so hard that the implements of the husbandman cannot possibly break or reduce them. Suddenly a heavy shower, a heavy fall of rain comes, the earth sends up her sweet and fragrant smell, and the whole face of nature is absolutely changed. This is how God, in the midst of this weary and heartless world, feeds and cheers and refreshes His poor people. He sends to them by His Holy Spirit showers from heaven, and just as unction—typical of oil—penetrates and softens and heals and melts, so the fatness of God’s house with which we are “abundantly satisfied” is caused to flow into our souls and to affect every part of our being. This is all the work of sovereign grace and mercy; a man, a woman, will never crave these blessings of being satisfied with the everlasting gospel, unless God by the finger of His grace touches his or her heart. Man by nature does not like, and does not want, these blessings—cleansing, pardon, peace, softening of the heart; the abundant satisfaction of the soul.
Now, dear friends, if Christ were present bodily here this morning, and said to each one of yon, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” what would be your answer? Answer that question not to me, but answer that question to yourselves. What would your reply be? “What shall I do unto thee?” Would your reply be, “That my soul might be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house”? Is it spiritual blessings that you set in the forefront, and spiritual blessings that your souls crave? The Lord said to the man who stood before Him in the days of His sojourn upon earth, “Wilt thou be made whole?” What is your reply this morning to such a question? What does it involve? To turn your back upon the world, to turn your face Zionwards, to be brought to realise that God in Christ alone can meet the necessities of your case, to take up your cross daily and follow after Him. Wilt thou be made whole? “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.” If you see in Christ the Storehouse which in your heart of hearts you say, “I must draw from;” if you see in Christ the glorious One in whom is an infinite fulness which alone can satisfy your soul, God has revealed Him to you by His Holy Spirit. God having created in your heart a great lack, and a great need of Christ, is now showing to you somewhat of that abundant satisfaction with which His people shall be satisfied in His house. And whilst there is not only this manifestation of what God in Christ is to His people, there are not a few of us here who know from time to time what it is to sit down under His shadow with great delight, and to find His fruit to be sweet unto our taste.
“The fatness of Thy house.” In that same passage in Corinthians, part of which we have already quoted, the Holy Ghost goes on to say by the Apostle, “All things are yours.” All things that are the portion of the Lord’s people constitute a part of this “fatness.” All things that are treasured up in the everlasting covenant of our Triune God; all things that the Father has purposed to bestow upon you in Christ Jesus our Lord; all that the Lord has purchased you to enjoy; all things that the power of God the Holy Spirit can give unto you,—the Holy Spirit is Jehovah the Spirit, and therefore let us not in any way seek to limit Him! O brethren, we have so little faith in the power of God the Holy Ghost! He is able to take of all the things that are in Christ and show them to us, and cause us to receive them. Oh that our prayer may be expressed in our text to-day, which sets forth in its highest figurative form the holy, blessed and undivided Trinity where David says here, “With Thee”—there is God the Father—”is the fountain of life,”—there is God the Son; “and in Thy light shall we see light”—there is God the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, look at God as set forth here as all-sufficient, the infinite sufficiency of His people. The provision which He has made for them is spoken of as ” the river of Thy pleasures.” What does that mean?” A river, the streams whereof make glad the city of our God,” “the river of Thy pleasures.” It means this, that it is God’s delight, God’s pleasure, to communicate these things to His hungry and thirsty people. The Lord is He “who delighteth in mercy,” and we are brought, as Berridge sings, to be sick of cisterns of water ; to be tired of cistern waters. And if we are thus tired and weary of cistern waters it is that we may drink of the “river of God’s pleasures.” What does the Lord say by Jeremiah concerning His people of old?” They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Here, then, in the river you have a picture of the continuing and overflowing mercy of our God in Christ. Let me ask you for a moment to consider that wonderful utterance of our blessed Lord’s in John 7: “On the last day, that great day of the feast”—the Feast of the Dedication—”Jesus stood and cried.” Notice the attitude, “Jesus stood and cried.” Jesus stood that everyone might see Him! Jesus cried that every one might hear Him! What had the priests been doing on that last day, that great day of the feast? They had, by a man-made ordinance, gone to the Pool of Siloam; they had brought water and had poured it out upon the ground. The Lord said, standing and crying there, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink of the fountain of life, of the unfailing source of all supply. Let him come unto Me, the fountain of living waters, for the water that I shall give him shall not be like this water spilt upon the ground, but it shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” This is to be satisfied with the abundant fatness of God’s house. This is to drink of the river of His pleasures, for “with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light.” A fountain is a source of unfailing supply. God, the living God, is the fountain of life. Nothing but life flows forth from God in His Trinity of Persons. God, not only the fountain of life, but the fountain of light,—life and light flowing forth from Him without intermission. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” If you have a spark of spiritual life, you have God! If you have one ray of spiritual light you have God! If you have seen the Lord Jesus Christ as the glorious One acceptable to God; if God’s way of salvation in and through Him is acceptable to you, you have light, for “in Thy light shall we see light.” Christ is Self-revealing, and in the light of the Holy Spirit that light which comes from Him streams into our hearts, and in His light we see light.
We speak of that faith which realises God in Christ; that faith which enables us to embrace substance. Someone says, “Have I, after all, that faith which is the channel whereby these blessings come?” Are you seeking these blessings? Are you profoundly convinced that neither in you nor in those around you, nor in this sinful world, can you find a fountain, a satisfying portion, a source of supply? Are you asking the Lord that in His light you may see light, and draw from this fountain? What is prayer? It is faith,—prayer, real prayer, is faith speaking. What is patience? It is faith—faith waiting. What is penitence? It is faith—faith sorrowing. What is partaking? It is faith eating. The first exercise of faith (which is God’s gift) is prayer, asking God for these blessings which are stored up in Christ Jesus, and which He will most surely bestow. Infinite resources there are in our God in Christ, and the work of the Holy Ghost is to teach us more and more of our need; that we may more and more enjoy and receive those supplies that there are in Christ.
Until you are a completely emptied sinner, you will not be ready for the fulness of the resources of God. We need continually being brought to this, to be emptied of self, to be emptied so that Christ in the blessedness and sovereignty of His grace may fill us. This is the reason why troubles and difficulties and temptations and sorrows are sent to us. The tear which so often starts from your eye, each tear that starts from the eye of a tried child of God, is an argument with God to fulfil the promise of our text this morning; hence He says the tears of His people are put into His bottle, treasured up, noted and marked by Him.
The house of God, the Church of God, the place where God’s honour dwelleth. What did God say to Solomon in reply to his petitions with regard to that wonderful temple which he was commissioned to build, and which is a type of the Church of Christ? God said concerning that temple, “Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually.” This is the house of God figuratively declared, and God says concerning His portion, His people, “I will water it every moment, lest any hurt it I will keep it night and day.” Lord, here am I, a poor, empty, hungry, weary sinner. This world can give me no supply. I come to the place of worship, to Thine own dear Son, Christ Jesus the Lord. Everything is in Christ, and God has said, “Mine eye and Mine heart shall be there perpetually.” Soon the time will come when the closing words of Psalm 23, shall be realised by us in our experience, and we shall go up to “dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,” in the city of our God, and there for ever and for ever prove the sufficiency of our God in Christ to meet all our needs, all our expectations; and the Lamb Himself shall lead us to living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. May God bless His word for His Name’s sake. Amen.
John E. Hazelton (1924) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was the son of John Hazelton (1822-1888). He was appointed the Pastor of Streatley Hall, London. In the December 1924 Issue, the Gospel Magazine wrote of him:
“For a period of fifteen years he faithfully ministered the Word of life to the Lord's people who met in Streatley Hall, London, and these are a selection of the sermons he preached there, lovingly collected together, and printed in book form. By way of introduction there is also printed A Declaration of Faith by Mr. Hazelton. This was found amongst his papers. It has never before been published. It is full of valuable teaching of such subjects as "The Peril and Needs of Our Churches," "The Holy Scriptures," "The Everlasting Covenant," "The Church," and "The Doctrine of Grace.” Mr. Hazelton was an able preacher of the everlasting Gospel, and he loved to exalt Christ and to abase the sinner. These sermons are full of rich Gospel teaching. They tell of a full and an eternal salvation, arranged and planned in the great Covenant of grace before the foundations of the world were laid. They tell of the electing love of God the Father, the redeeming work of God the Son on behalf of His Church and people, and of the regenerating and sanctifying work of God the Holy Ghost. They tell of the blood and righteousness of the Divine Surety of the everlasting Covenant. They are marked by fulness of Gospel truth and by tender and loving words to seeking and penitent sinners. They display a considerable knowledge and much care in preparation. They are the words of a true man of God who in dependence on the aid of the Divine Spirit earnestly proclaimed the Gospel of Divine grace in the prayerful hope that God the Holy Ghost would use the message as the means of regenerating the sinful objects of His eternal mercy. Space will not allow us to quote from these pages, but we strongly advise our readers at once to get the book and make it point of reading one of the sermons every week. Mr. Hazelton was called home on May 8th last. His last sermons were preached on April 6th and 13th, and they form the concluding sermons of this volume. A beautiful portrait of the beloved author forms the frontispiece. By these sermons, and by his valuable Declaration of Faith, he being dead, yet speaketh.”