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Sermons on the Black Letter Days
Or Minor Festivals of the Church of England
by John Mason Neale

London: Joseph Masters, 1872. Third edition.


S. Machutus. November 15.


OUR LORD said these words: and S. John in the second lesson for to-day tells us that He did: and yet this is a hard saying, who can hear it? What! "Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me!" when He had promised, "Seek, and ye shall find!" What! "Where I am, thither ye cannot come," when He afterwards said, "I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also." It is so indeed; and all this depends on one little word, Ye. "Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me." Ye will have no share or part in Me, now that I am a "Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Ye say, "We will not have this Man to reign over us." Ye despise and reject Me, though I am bearing your griefs, and carrying your sorrows. The time will come when I shall return in My glory, and in the glory of the FATHER. Then "ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me." There are some who are willing to watch with Me now, to labour with Me now, to suffer with Me now: they shall reign with Me then. But you are not these. "Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come." Whither I go, ye will not come now. Ye will not follow Me, because none of the Scribes and Pharisees have believed on Me. Ye will not follow Me up to the garden of Gethsemane, up to the judgment-seat of Pilate, up to Calvary. Therefore, where I am, when I shall have ascended up again to heaven with all My Saints, and they shall reign with Me for ever,--where I am then thither ye cannot come.

Our LORD is not speaking to those who were desiring to seek Him at that time. He does not say, Ye seek Me, and cannot find Me, but to those who had a mind to come at the Crown without bearing the Cross: those who wished to get at the end of their journey without going by the way. And I wonder, if He could now stand among us, to how many He would say these words: You,--or you,--or you,--"shall seek Me, and shall not find Me." I wonder how many know in their own hearts that they are not seeking CHRIST now. Yet even they--He that cannot lie says so--will seek Him by-and-by. It may be on their death-beds: but even if they should go carelessly and stupidly out of the world, it certainly will be at the last day. And think then what it will be to hear those words,--"Where I am, thither ye cannot come." Ye cannot come into the Presence of GOD, which is life, nor to His Right Hand, where there are pleasures for evermore. Ye cannot come where all tears shall be wiped from all eyes, and where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. "Ye cannot come to the city of the Living GOD, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of Angels, and to the spirits of just men-made perfect." "Where I am, thither ye cannot come."

And notice: He does not say, Ye shall not, but, Ye cannot. And why not? Because, if you were to enter in, bringing all your sinful thoughts and desires with you; if anything were to enter in that defileth, then heaven would cease to be heaven. Your very presence there would end it. The thing is impossible. You chose to go out of this world with sin in your heart, sin on your conscience, sin in your wishes; and you cannot come into a place where there is no sin. "Where I am, thither ye cannot come."

What our LORD said, that all His true servants have also said in their generation. The world has hated them, reviled them, cast out their names as evil, scoffed at them, imprisoned many, tortured many while they were alive; but no sooner were they gone, than men's minds have changed, and they have mourned and grieved for those when dead, whom they have abhorred and despised while living. "Ye shall seek Me, but ye shall not find Me." "They enter into peace, they rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness." They are safe, where no one can reach them, either to hurt them or to ask their forgiveness.

But GOD be praised, it is not true of us who are still alive, who still have the means of grace; it is not true that either the Saints of the LORD, or the LORD of Saints would say,--"Where I am, thither ye cannot come." Where He is, we can come. Where they are, we can come. It may be as much as we can do, but we can come still. CHRIST went, to open a way for us; the Saints went to show us how to tread in that way. But then we must go by the same way, or we shall never come to the same end. The question is not whether the road is a pleasant one or not; but whether it is the right one. If you happened to be walking to a place which you did not know, and came to a sign-post which pointed out the way to it, what should we think of you if you said, "I do not like the looks of that road at all; I shall try the other. To be sure, it leads just the opposite way; but then it is so pleasant."

Therefore, this is what CHRIST says to you,--this is what the Saints of CHRIST say to you,--"Where I am, thither ye cannot come," unless ye come by the way we went.

And that is not all. Suppose at that sign-post you took the right way, but then sat down to rest by the road-side; would you be any nearer to it for all that you had chosen the right turning? Therefore CHRIST says to you, "Where I am, thither ye cannot come:" therefore the Saints say, Where we are, ye cannot come unless you go as we went. And how was that? Idly and leisurely? Let S. Paul tell you: "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before, I press toward the mark, if by any means I may attain." If by any means! If by any means! What a mournful saying that is! And how well it proves that we must use all means, if we really mean to reach that blessed place whither our SAVIOUR CHRIST is gone before.

The Saint of this day, Machutus, or Malo, as he is generally called, might well have said this text to the men of his day. He lived about thirteen hundred years ago in a wild part of France called Brittany. There he laboured long as a Bishop, calling on men to repent, and to do works meet for repentance. It was to no use. They clave to their sins with all their heart, and obliged the Saint to leave that land. He went to a place where he and other holy men could serve GOD in common and in safety. "Where I am, thither ye cannot come." They had not hearts to give up the world as he did, to follow him in serving GOD day and night here: and when, as on this day, he was called to the kingdom of heaven, we cannot but fear that "Where I am, thither ye cannot come," was true of his persecutors also, for I nowhere read that they repented.

Now, therefore, let none of you flatter yourselves with vain hopes. Our LORD said, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." True: but He also said, "Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me." He promised, "To him that knocketh, it shall be opened." True: but He also threatened, "Where I am, thither ye cannot come." As the wise man says, "He hath set mercy over against judgment." Only imagine what that will be,--"Where I am, thither ye cannot come,"--and it is enough to make us in earnest. We ought not, whatever we do, to hear it without trembling. Now it is not too late to alter the text: now it is not too late to have it--"Where I am, thither ye can come." But the day will be, when, if it stands against us then, it will stand against us for ever. "The harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."

CHRIST grant us so, after the example of S. Machutus and all Saints, to keep His commandments here, that finally we may enter into life everlasting; to Whom, with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST, be all honour and glory for ever. Amen.

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