Making Jesus King.
An address given at the 1906 Keswick Convention.
I HAVE had read in your hearing that wonderful sixteenth chapter of the first book of Samuel, because of the fact that it gives an account of the story of the anointing of David to be king. No doubt those who are interested have remarked that David, strange to say, was anointed three times over. I suppose his case is entirely unique. The first occasion was when he was a stripling; we know well the account of it, how all the elder sons of Jesse were brought before Samuel, but not one of them was chosen of God. At last Samuel said, "Isn't there another one? Are here all thy children?” And old Jesse said, "Well, there is another, but he happens to be out keeping the sheep.” "Send for him," answered Samuel. I am very glad that the youngest son was not overlooked. Fathers and mothers, are you not a little inclined to overlook the younger boys? The elder boy—ah, he monopolizes attention; the elder boys—our hopes are set upon them. Yet God may have chosen the younger. Anyhow, on that day, the youngest boy was called. And I beg you to remember what sort he was; a handsome, splendid, gifted, magnificent fellow; not only a man of war, but destined to be the sweet singer of Israel. Oh, God wants the gifted people, as well as the others. Gather them in.
Well now, you are all aware that for many years after David was anointed to be king, he did not come to the throne; on the contrary, he was destined to endure a great deal of suffering, and to flee like a very partridge upon the mountains. Incidentally, I want you to learn this lesson; that the purposes of God come to pass in the long run, though there may be many delays and many vicissitudes. David became king, but it was after many years. I hope none of us will ever be despondent because Jesus Christ is not visibly crowned King of the whole earth. It is to be. God has chosen Him; He is the anointed One; He is the Christ; and by and by, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess Him as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. You say, “It doesn't look like it today;” and some are almost pessimistic. God forbid that we should be so; but let us labour on, knowing that the purposes of God may be delayed, but never can be thwarted.
In after years, there came that terrible battle upon Mount Gilboa. I dare say many of you have wandered over the battle-field, and there have seen in imagination, the handsome, magnificent man who was head and shoulders higher than the rest of the people, and so was easily identified among the dead. There too, were Saul's armour-bearer, and Jonathan, whose love was so sweet to David, among the dead. Out of that great national sorrow, there had to come another king. David asks counsel of God: "Shall I go up to any city?” "Yes," is the answer. "Go up to Hebron.” How full the story is of lessons for us! David knew he was destined to be king, but he did not try to seize the occasion; rather he sought guidance from God. God gives us grace to do that, and when we think we know the way pretty well, not to be over sure, but to say, "Lord, when shall I go up? Where shall I go up? I know full well thus and thus; but what wilt Thou have me to do now?"
I need hardly say that all the country did not follow David at that time. Alas, Benjamin did not, and Israel did not. There was one hero, Abner, the generalissimo of the forces of king Saul, who was alienated from David. I suppose that, in his devotion to the house of Saul, he thought to put someone upon the throne who belonged to the royal family; and failing any other, took Ishbosheth, though unworthy in himself, to Mahanaim, and there placed him, as it were, upon the throne of Israel and Benjamin, and anointed him to be king.
Thus a very extraordinary condition of things came about; there were positively two kings in that little tiny country! I suppose that nothing impresses the traveller more than the smallness of Palestine. Why, one can go over the whole land in a few days; yet there was one king at Hebron, and another at Mahanaim. What kind of peace should we have if there were one king in Scotland, another in Ireland, and a third in London? That would never do. We must have one supreme power; and so it ought to have been in Palestine. Trouble was the most certain issue.
What a picture is here of a heart divided against itself! It cannot stand. Some people would have Ishbosheth on the throne, and yet would have David there too. There are some who would like to have the world and its friendship, and yet to name the name of Jesus; but, oh, you cannot do it. There must be one king only upon the throne of the heart. Now that is largely what this Convention is about. It is to lead people to make Jesus King; and I thought I could not do better than speak for a little time on the imperative necessity of making Jesus King. I should like to take for my text that which Abner took when he became a convert to David.
You remember the story. Abner, after a couple of years' allegiance to Ishbosheth, was gravely insulted by the foolish young man. And Abner said, "So do God to me, and more also, except, as the Lord hath sworn to David, even so I do to him; to translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.” So Abner sent down to Hebron, where David was, and said, "David, will you have me upon your side? I have been against you; but I recognize that God has called you, and that you are anointed of the Highest. David, may I follow in your train?” How glad must David have been that his very chiefest antagonist came over to his side! It was very much like the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
When the allegiance was consummated, Abner said, "Now, David, I will go out and preach to Benjamin and to Israel; and I will try to secure their allegiance to your throne.” So you find in 2 Samuel 3:17, 18, that Abner spoke unto the elders of Benjamin and to the elders of Israel, and said, "Oh, ye elders of Benjamin, how often have ye thought of crowning David king. Why don't you do it?” “Now then do it"—a very simple little text, very direct, very businesslike, only four monosyllables. May God help me so to speak that someone will crown Jesus Christ King today.
I shall never forget the contrast between the mouth of the Congo and that of the Niger. If you have seen either, or both, you will appreciate the illustration in a moment. At its mouth, the Congo is, I suppose, one of the noblest rivers upon earth. It is seven miles across, and discharges into the Atlantic ocean one million tons of water every second; but the mouth of the Niger, I think, impresses nobody. When I was at Akassa, I said to the captain, "Why, what a small river this Niger is!” "Yes," said he, "but you must remember that it is a delta. There are forty mouths to it, and what you are looking at is only one of the forty.” Of course, I knew the fact intellectually, but until that moment, I had never realized it. When you have a river divided up into a delta, it does not impress you; and when human life becomes deltaic, when it is divided—the opposite of consecrated and united—it does not impress anybody. I would like to give you a text: "Unite my heart to fear Thy Name.” It is the united, devoted singleness of purpose in making Jesus King that is a blessing in this poor world of ours.
What is involved in making David king, and in making Jesus King? I venture to suggest that the first thing it involved for Abner, and for all the men of Benjamin and Israel, was this simple, unconditional surrender to David; and I am perfectly sure that it is the first thing involved in making Jesus King. There must be no stipulations, no holding back. If Christ is to be King, He must be King over everything. You remember what Hudson Taylor said: "If He is not Lord over all, He is not Lord at all."
Supposing that, in the recent campaign between Japan and Russia, before Port Arthur had fallen, Russia had wished for peace. Japan might have said, "Very well, we are quite prepared to arrange an armistice; but you will have to hand over Port Arthur.” "Nay," says Russia, "we could not hand that over; we want to keep that, but to have peace at the same time.” "But you are wanting the impossible; if you want peace, you must make an unconditional surrender.” Some people want to keep their "Port Arthur" and yet somehow or other, they would like to have allegiance to Christ. It will not do. There must be unconditional surrender—of sin in the first place, and of the entire life in the second place.
Years ago, I happened to be out at Alexandria, not very long after the bombardment. I shall never forget going through the fortress of Ras-el-Tin, and seeing where the British shells had burst and broken down the walls. One thing interested me greatly; as I was entering the gate, I noticed these words over it: "This fortress is in British occupation.” Instead of being filled with Egyptian soldiers practicing Egyptian melodies, the British band was playing. I shall never forget the solemn effect as I looked over the great open space in the midst of the fortress, where 120 bodies had lain after the bombardment, and as I heard the music rising, "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled." I was greatly moved as I thought, "This is not Egyptian music. Everything here is changed now. Instead of a scene of carnage, there is peace.” And the explanation lay in those memorable words: "This fortress is in British occupation.” That is what we want: "This fortress is in Christ's occupation.” Oh, do not endure a divided kingdom! There is no peace in it; there is no strength in it; there is no joy in it; and there is no use in it. Have Christ to be King, and let there be unconditional surrender.
The next thing involved in making Jesus King is that the flag is to be run up at the masthead. What do you suppose was the first indication that yonder fortress of Port Arthur had fallen into the hands of the victorious Japanese? I venture to say that the first external sign that the people could see from a distance, they who were looking on through their telescopes, would be the flag of Russia coming down, and the "rising sun" of Japan floating on the breeze. And, my friends, if we are going to have Christ as King, let us nail the flag at the masthead.
What a great deal of unhappiness there is because people are ashamed of Jesus Christ. I never met a Britisher who was ashamed of the Union Jack, nor an American who was ashamed of the Stars and Stripes, and why should people be ashamed of Jesus Christ? Yet it is not always easy to bear testimony for Him, is it? It takes the power of the Holy Ghost to do it.
When I became a student at the London Hospital, I shall never forget how God answered one of my prayers rather more quickly than I anticipated. In those days, there were comparatively few outstanding Christian men in that institution. I knew my own weakness, and simply prayed God to keep me, and help me to confess Him. The prayer was answered the first day I was there, in rather a striking way. I happened to meet on the first day a rather kindly fellow, who said, "You are a new man, aren't you? Look here, will you come up to our debating society? We call it the Clinical Society. There is a meeting tonight, and we like to get new men. You need not be afraid; there is nothing religious about it! “He seemed to think that of course anything "religious” would be a terrible thing to me. And he further said, "One of our rules is that nobody is allowed to allude to a religious thing."
I was not frightened, and up I went. That night—shall I ever forget it—taking the chair was one well known to you by name: Mr. (now Sir Frederick) Treves. In the course of the proceedings, they talked about many subjects I did not at all understand. But when one man was upon his feet, he took occasion to say something about Jesus Christ that made my blood boil, and my ears tingle. I was astonished, and horrified; and by and by, down he sat. I wondered what ought to be done. I think, as far as I know, that my brain had not "made up its mind" but my legs had automatically made up their mind, and I found myself standing upon my feet. Of course, I had to say something, so I said, "Mr. President and gentlemen, I do not know whether you would allow a first-year man to speak.” "Hear, hear," said they, "we shall be glad to hear you.” "Well," said I, "I was informed when I came here, by the gentleman who invited me, that it is against the laws of your society to allude to religious matters. Is that so?” “Quite right!” “If that is so, Mr. President, if we are not allowed to allude to religious matters, then I beg to protest against the words of the gentleman who has just sat down. He has spoken against One who is my Lord, my Saviour, and my King, in a way that has made my blood boil, and I beg to protest against it!"
I sat down, not knowing whether the ground was about to open and let me through, whether there would be a tremendous hissing, or what would happen. But there was a thunder of applause; and at the close of the meeting, Mr. Treves came up and asked me my name. "Now look here, Guinness," he said, "I am glad to know you. You come back to these meetings, and if ever a man does what that man did tonight, you do exactly what you did. I am very glad to meet you.” All I can say about it is this, that in answer to prayer, somehow the flag got run up that day; and it never came down. That is the easiest way by far. I think that I had not one half-hour of serious difficulty after that in all the five years I was up at the hospital. I would like to say to any young fellow who is going to University, or to any hospital, “If you are going to make Christ King, run up the flag.”
Number one: unconditional surrender. Number two: the flag at the masthead. The third thing is: loyalty to the backbone. Why, look at Abner when he came over. Abner's passion was the extension of David's kingdom. Do not you see that it was so? Why, Abner went out to become a preacher for David, a kind of recruiting sergeant. He said to the elders of Benjamin, "You have often thought of making David king. Why don't you do it? Do it, and do it now."
Oh, beloved friends, if you would really crown Christ King, you will have to know what loyalty means; that passion for Christ which becomes the enthusiasm of the hearts of those who are devoted to Him. Jesus Christ wants the kingdoms of this world. Are we not missionary-hearted? May God forgive us if we are not! If you have come over to Him, oh, surely the obligation rests upon you to secure others who may come and make Him King.
Thank God, Abner was successful. You have only to turn over the page of your Bible to find that all Benjamin and all Israel came to make David king. Afterwards, David went up to Jerusalem and reigned over a united people. Oh, that God might grant it to be so in all our hearts, and right along throughout the world!
Dear fellow Christians, may I say a little word to you? This is not your first time at Keswick. No, last year that same thought came to you—to make Jesus King. But you did not want to do it. You do not want Him as King. You are afraid of what He might do with you if you were unconditionally surrendered to Him. A lady once said to Prebendary Webb-Peploe: "I could not have Jesus Christ like that, as my King.” And he said, "Why not, Madam?” "If I belonged to Christ like that, I cannot tell what He might want to do with me. He might send me as a missionary to China.” “Yes, very likely He would.” “Well, I could not accept Christ like that.” But after some time she wrote to say, "I think you ought to know I have discovered that I am not my own, but belong to Him, and I am going to China in three weeks' time."
Let us not seek to make a bargain with Jesus Christ. Let us have no haggling. Let there be unconditional surrender, to go where He would have us, and to do what He wishes us to do.
I am reminded of an old experience in the island of Tasmania. I was looking forward to return ere long to the old country, when one day a gentleman sent up his card. Could he see me? I did not know him at all, but after a while discovered that he was interested in me. He asked me if my life was insured. I said, "No, it is not.” Did I believe in life insurance? I did not know much about it. I found he was an insurance agent; and he gave me a gratuitous lecture upon the subject, together with some particulars of the society he represented. I was much obliged, but I did not insure. Some time afterwards, another man called upon me. "By the by, Dr. Guinness, are you insured?” "No, I am not.” "Well, somehow or other I thought you were not. Do you mind my telling you about our society?” To make a long story short, I think there were half a dozen gentleman all showing great solicitude concerning my life, and wanting me to insure.
At last, as I was leaving Tasmania, man number one came and said, "Well, now, may I ask whether you have studied the subject?” "Yes, I have, and am quite interested.” "I am glad to hear it. And what do you think of it?” “I believe in insurance.” “Oh," he said, "I am glad to hear that you do; that is good. What do you think of our society?” “Well, I have investigated a good many, and I honestly think that yours is the best.” “I am delighted to hear that; why, now you will allow me to take out a policy for you.” “Oh, my friend, that is a different matter.” “But what an extraordinary person you are! You believe in insurance; you think my company is the best; and yet you don't take the step.” He had got hold of Abner's text: "Now then, do it!” But I did not. Why not? Ah, if you could only solve that "Why not?” I think it must have been due to the thing that keeps back a lot of people from becoming Christians—a kind of inertia; and I went away and did not insure.
When I got to Adelaide, Australia, a gentleman came to see me. "By the way," said he, "I have a letter from our agent in Tasmania, and he tells me you are interested in insurance. I wanted to remind you that we don't do any business over the water; we do it only here, so that if you want to insure, today is the last day. Now," he said, "do it. All you have to do is to go up to Dr. So-and-so, and I am sure he will give you a first-class life. Let me persuade you.” Well, I did. I actually went there—moved over the line; and I was never sorry about it, for I was only following my convictions.
Dear friends, you have thought about making Jesus King long enough. Intellectually, the thing is as clear as it can be to you. In Christ's Name, I invite you to do it. He is God's anointed. Could you have a better? God has chosen Him. Now ratify the divine choice. "Now then, do it."
I have sometimes thought of what that agent said to me: "We do business only in Australia: we don't do business over the water.” Beloved friend, you will have to cross the water soon. You will be bound on a long journey; and I want you to remember that there is no business done there. "Now then, do it.” God help you, for Christ's sake.