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Archive for May, 2022

The earliest of all the theophanic manifestations

Arthur PinkThe God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran. And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I will shew thee” (Acts 7:2, 3). The divine title employed here is a remarkable one, for we regard it as intimating that the shekinah itself was manifested before Abraham’s wondering gaze. God always suits the revelation which He makes of Himself according to the effect which is to be produced. Here was a man in the midst of a heathen city, brought up in an idolatrous home. Something vivid and striking, supernatural and unmistakable, was required in order to suddenly change the whole course of his life. “The God of glory”—in blessed and awesome contrast from the “other gods” of his sires—”appeared unto our father Abraham.” It was probably the first of the theophanic manifestations, for we never read of God appearing to Abel or Noah.

If our conclusion be correct that this was the earliest of all the theophanic manifestations (God appearing in human form: cf. Gen. 32:24; Josh. 5:13, 14; etc.) that we read of in the Old Testament, which anticipated the incarnation itself, as well as marked the successive revelations of God to men; and if this theophany was accompanied by the resplendent glory and majesty of the shekinah, then great indeed was the privilege now conferred upon the son of Terah. Nothing in him could possibly have merited such an amazing display of divine grace. The Lord was here “found” of one that “sought him not” (Isa. 65:1), as is the case with each of all those who are made the recipients of His everlasting blessing; for “there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11). It is not the lost sheep which seeks the Shepherd, but the Shepherd who goes after it, and reveals Himself unto it in all His love and grace.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Four-The Abrahamic Covenant

There was a peculiar sweetness mixed with this joy

SpurgeonBut there was a peculiar sweetness mixed with this joy, because he knew that he should behold God’s face in righteousness. “I shall behold thy face in righteousness.” Have I not seen my Father’s face here below? Yes, I have, “through a glass darkly,” But has not the Christian sometimes beheld him, when in his heavenly moments earth is gone, and the mind is stripped of matter? There are some seasons when the gross materialism dies away, and when the ethereal fire within blazes up so high that it almost touches the fire of heaven. There are seasons, when in some retired spot, calm and free from all earthly thought, we have put our shoes from off our feet because the place whereon we stood was holy ground; and we have talked with God! Even as Enoch talked with him so has the Christian held intimate communion with his Father. He has heard his love whispers, he has told out his heart, poured out his sorrows and his groans before him. But after all he has felt that he has not beheld his face in righteousness. There was so much sin to darken the eyes, so much folly, so much frailty, that we could not get a clear prospect of our Jesus. But here the Psalmist says, “I will behold thy face in righteousness.” When that illustrious day shall arise, and I shall see my Savior face to face, I shall see him “in righteousness.” The Christian in heaven will not have so much as a speck upon his garment; he will be pure and white; yea, on the earth he is

Pure through Jesus’ blood, and white as angels are.”

But in heaven that whiteness shall be more apparent. Now, it is sometimes smoked by earth, and covered with the dust of this poor carnal world; but in heaven he will have brushed himself, and washed his wings and made them clean; and then will he see God’s face in righteousness. My God; I believe I shall stand before thy face as pure as thou art thyself, for I shall have the righteousness of Jesus Christ there shall be upon me the righteousness of a God. “I shall behold thy face in righteousness.” O Christian, canst thou enjoy this? Though I cannot speak about it, dost thy heart meditate upon it? To behold his face for ever; to bask in that vision! True, thou canst not understand it; but thou mayest guess the meaning. To behold his face in righteousness!

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Hope of Future Bliss, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Evening, May 20, 1855; at Exeter Hall.

The Progress of the Reformation ceased

The Progress of the Reformation ceased, it was stationary for a season. The current then turned back, and flowed towards the corruptions from which it set out. In France, England, and other countries, it followed in the same direction, and reached the same results. Infant baptism has now had time to work its legitimate effects, and they have been full of calamity. It is actually announced from some quarters, and by Protestants themselves, that “The Reformation has proved itself a failure.” And so believing, what measures are being adopted by these same Protestants? Do they compare the principles of the Reformation with the Bible, ascertain in what they are deficient, correct their errors, and thus go forward into the light of truth? Far from it. They give up even what had been gained, and take up their march back again into Popery! How large a portion of the Episcopal church, especially in England, has already returned to the embraces of “the Man of Sin!” Infant baptism made Popery what it is, and. Infant baptism will carry Protestantism again into Popery.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 15- Infant Baptism is an Evil because it enfeebles the power of the Church to combat error

THE CASTLE OF SELF

STRANGE to say, the great number of those who are saved are just the most unlikely people in the world to have been saved, while a great number of those who perish were once just the very people whom, if natural disposition had anything to do with it, we should have expected to see in Heaven. Why, there is one who in his youth was a child of many follies. Often did his mother weep over him, and cry and groan over her son’s wanderings; for what with a fierce high spirit that could brook neither bit nor bridle, what with perpetual rebellions and ebullitions of hot anger, she said, “My son, my son, what wilt thou be in thy riper years? Surely thou wilt dash in pieces law and order, and be a disgrace to thy father’s name.” He grew up; in youth he was wild and wanton, but wonder of wonders! On a sudden he became a new man, changed, altogether changed; no more like what he was before than angels are like lost spirits. He sat at her feet, he cheered her heart, and the lost, fiery one became gentle, mild, humble as a little child, and obedient to God’s commandments. You say, wonder of wonders! But there is another. He was a fair youth; when but a child he talked of Jesus; often when his mother had him on her knee he asked her questions about Heaven; he was a prodigy, a wonder of piety in his youth.

As he grew up the tear rolled down his cheek under any sermon; he could scarcely bear to hear of death without a sigh; sometimes his mother caught him, as she thought, in prayer alone. And what is he now? He has just come from sin; he has become the debauched, desperate villain, has gone far into all manner of wickedness and lust, and sin, and has become more corrupt than other men could have made him; only his own evil spirit, once confined, has now developed itself, he has learned to play the lion in his manhood, as once he played the fox in his youth. It very frequently is so. Some abandoned, wicked fellow, has had his heart broken, and been led to weep and has cried to God for mercy, and renounced his vile sin; whilst some fair maiden by his side hath heard the same sermon, and if there was a tear she brushed it away; she still continues just what she was, “without God and without hope in the world.” God has taken the base things of the world, and has just picked His people out of the very roughest of men, in order that He may prove that it is not natural disposition, but that “Salvation is of the Lord” alone.

With sinners, this doctrine is a great battering-ram against their pride. I will give you a figure. The sinner in his natural estate reminds me of a man who has a strong and well-nigh impenetrable castle into which he has fled. There is the outer moat; there is a second moat; there are the high walls; and then afterwards there is the dungeon and keep, into which the sinner will retire. Now, the first moat that goes round the sinner’s trusting place is his good works. “Ah!” he says, “I am as good as my neighbor; twenty shillings in the pound down, ready money, I have always paid; I am no sinner; ‘I tithe mint and cummin;’ a good respectable gentleman I am indeed.” Well, when God comes to work with him, to save him, he sends his army across the first moat; and as they go through it, they cry, “Salvation is of the Lord;” and the moat is dried up, for if it be of the Lord, how can it be of good works? But when that is gone, he has a second entrenchment — ceremonies. “Well,” he says, “I will not trust in my good works, but I have been baptized, I have been confirmed; do not I take the sacrament? That shall be my trust.” “Over the moat! Over the moat!” And the soldiers go over again, shouting, “Salvation is of the Lord.” The second moat is dried up; it is all over with that. Now they come to the first strong wall; the sinner, looking over it, says, “I can repent, I can believe, whenever I like; I will save myself by repenting and believing.” Up come the soldiers of God, His great army of conviction, and they batter this wall to the ground, crying, “ ‘Salvation is of the Lord.’ Your faith and your repentance must all be given you, or else you will neither believe nor repent of sin.” And now the castle is taken; the man’s hopes are all cut off; he feels that it is not of self; the castle of self is overcome, and the great banner upon which is written “Salvation is of the Lord” is displayed upon the battlements.

But is the battle over? Oh, no; the sinner has retired to the keep, in the center of the castle; and now he changes his tactics. “I cannot save myself,” says he, “therefore I will despair; there is no salvation for me.” Now this second castle is as hard to take as the first, for the sinner sits down and says, “I can’t be saved, I must perish.” But God commands the soldiers to take this castle too, shouting, “Salvation is of the Lord;” though it is not of man, it is of God; “he is able to save, even to the uttermost,” though you cannot save yourself. This sword, you see, cuts two ways; it cuts pride down, and then it cleaves the skull of despair. If any man say he can save himself, it halveth his pride at once; and if another man say he cannot be saved, it dasheth his despair to the earth; for it affirms that he can be saved, seeing, “Salvation is of the Lord.”

WHAT IS THE OBVERSE OF THIS TRUTH? Salvation is of God: then damnation is of man. If any of you perish, the blame will not lie at God’s door; if you are lost and cast away, you will have to bear all the blame and all the tortures of conscience yourself; you will lie forever in perdition, and reflect, “I have destroyed myself; I have made a suicide of my soul; I have been my own destroyer; I can lay no blame to God.” Remember, if saved, you must be saved by God alone, though if lost you have lost yourselves. “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die O house of Israel.”

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘The Castle of Self’

The Wednesday Word: Jesus the God-Man

At the heart of the gospel, we have the man who is God. Jesus, the God/Man rescued us with blood, His blood, died was buried and rose again. This is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. In Christianity, we are not told to do something to discover God rather we see that God has spelled Himself out and declared Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What a mysterious constitution there is in the person of the Lord Jesus.

He is the God/Man.

He is one person with two natures, one human, the other divine.

We have never seen anyone like Him nor, as a teacher, will we ever hear His like again. He was and is unique and thus stands head and shoulders above all other religious teachers.

Consider this:

As a man, He was born thousands of years after Adam, but as God, He beheld Satan fall long before Adam was ever created. (Luke 10:18).

As a man, He was made. (Hebrews 1:5). As God, He was the Maker of all things. (John 1:3).

He was the helpless baby in the manger, yet He was the Mighty God. (Isaiah 9:6).

As a man, He grew. (Luke 2:40-52). Yet as God, He filled all things. (Ephesians 1:23).

As a man, He had a mother, but as God, He had no parents. He is without genealogy. (Hebrews 7:3).

As a man, He came after John, yet was before him. (John 1:15).

As a man, He was on earth. (Mark 2:10). Yet at the same time, He was in Heaven (See Mark 2,10; John 3:13, John 1:18).

As a man, He was restricted to the locality, yet at the same time, as God, He was Omnipresent. (Matthew 28:20).

As a man, He was the servant, (Philippians 2:7), but as God, He was the Lord. (Luke 2:11).

As a man, He was lower than the angels. (Hebrews 2:9). As God, the angelic hosts were under His command. (Mark 13:26-27).

As a man, He prayed. (John 17). But as God, He hears and answers prayer. (John 14:14).

As a man, He knew weakness. (John 4:6). As God, He was the Almighty One. (Revelation 1:8).

As a man, He died. (1 Corinthians 15:3). As God, He was the Resurrection and the life. (John 11:25).

Jesus is so far beyond all other religious teachers not because His teachings were better (which they were) but because of who He is … the God/Man.

For the gospel believer, Christ is the centre of everything. The following is a part of a prayer from the ancient Celtic Church, which summarizes the kind of thinking that makes the Lord Jesus central.

“Christ be with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

God has appointed where they will suffer

It remaineth, then, that we be not much afraid of men, nor yet be foolishly bold; but that we wait upon our God in the way of righteousness, and the use of those means which his providence offereth to us for our safety; and that we conclude that our whole dispose, as to liberty or suffering, lieth in the will of God, and that we shall, or shall not suffer, even as it pleaseth him. For,

Third, As God has appointed who and when, so he has appointed WHERE this, that, or the other good man shall suffer. Moses and Elias, when they appeared on the holy mount, told Jesus of the sufferings which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the place assigned for Christ to suffer at; also, there must the whole of his sufferings be accomplished (Luke 9:30,31). The saints are sprinkled by the hand of God here and there, as salt is sprinkled upon meat to keep it from stinking. And as they are thus sprinkled, that they may season the earth; so, accordingly, where they must suffer is also appointed for the better confirming of the truth. Christ said, it could not be that a prophet should “perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). But why could it not be that they should perish other where? Were there no enemies but in Jerusalem? Were there no good men but at Jerusalem? No, no; that was not the reason. The reason was, for that God had appointed that they should suffer there. So then, who, when, and where, is at the will of God, and they, accordingly, are ordered by that will.

John Bunyan- Seasonable Counsel or Advise to Sufferers

It was grace, grace alone, sovereign grace, which called Abraham to be the friend of God

Arthur PinkThat it was grace, grace alone, sovereign grace, which called Abraham to be the friend of God, appears clearly from his natural state and circumstances when the Lord first appeared to him. Abraham belonged not to a pious family where Jehovah was acknowledged and honored; instead his progenitors were idolaters. It seems that once more “all flesh had corrupted his way in the earth.” The house from which Abraham sprang was certainly no exception to the rule; for we read, “Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods” (Josh. 24:2). There was nothing whatever, then, in the object of the divine choice to commend him unto God, nothing in Abraham that merited His esteem. No, the cause of election is always to be traced to the discriminating will of God; for election itself is “of grace” (Rom. 11:5) and therefore it depends in no wise upon any worthiness in the object, either present or foreseen. If it did, it would not be “of grace.”

That it was not at all a matter of any goodness or fitness in Abraham which moved the Lord to single him out to be the special object of His high favor is further seen from Isaiah 51:1, 2: “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you.” While it be true that God never acts capriciously or at random, nor arbitrarily—that is, without some wise and good reason for what He does—yet the spring of all His actions is His own sovereign pleasure. The moment we ascribe any of God’s exercises unto aught outside of Himself, we are guilty not only of impiety, but of affirming a gross absurdity. The Almighty is infinitely self-sufficient, and can no more be swayed by the creatures of His own hand, than an entity can be influenced by nonentities. Oh, how vastly different is the Deity of Holy Writ from the “God” which present-day Christendom dreams about!

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Four-The Abrahamic Covenant

The Matter of this Passage

Spurgeon 3II. But now, secondly, THE MATTER OF THIS PASSAGE. And here we will dive into the very depths of it, God helping us; for without the Spirit of God I feel I am utterly unable to speak to you. I have not those gifts and talents which qualify men to speak; I need an afflatus from no high, otherwise I stand like other men and have nought to say. May that be given me; for without it I am dumb. As for the matter of this verse, methinks it contains a double blessing. The first is a beholding — “I will behold thy face in righteousness,” and the next is a satisfaction — “I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.”

Let us begin with the first, then. David expected that he should behold God’s face. What a vision will that be, my brethren! Have you ever seen God’s hand? I have seen it, when sometimes he places it across the sky, and darkens it with clouds. I have seen God’s hand sometimes, when the ears of night drag along the shades of darkness. I have seen his hand when, launching the thunder-bolt, his lightning splits the clouds and rends the heavens. Perhaps ye have seen it in a gentler fashion, when it pours out the water and sends it rippling along in rills, and then rolls into rivers. Ye have seen it in the stormy ocean-in the sky decked with stars, in the earth gemmed with flowers; and there is not a man living who can know all the wonders of God’s hand. His creation is so wondrous that it would take more than a life-time to understand it. Go into the depths of it, let its minute parts engage your attention; next take the telescope, and try to see remote worlds, and can I see all God’s handiwork-behold all his hand? No, not so much as one millionth part of the fabric. That mighty hand wherein the callow comets are brooded by the sun, in which the planets roll in majestic orbits; that mighty hand which holds all space, and grasps all beings-that mighty hand, who can behold it? But if such be his hand, what must his face be? Ye have heard God’s voice sometimes, and ye have trembled; I, myself, have listened awe-struck, and yet with a marvellous joy, when I have heard God’s voice, like the noise of many waters, in the great thunderings. Have you never stood and listened, while the earth shook and trembled, and the very spheres stopped their music, while God spoke with his wondrous deep bass voice? Yes, ye have heard that voice, and there is a joy marvellously instinct with love which enters into my soul, whenever I hear the thunder. It is my Father speaking, and my heart leaps to hear him. But you never heard God’s loudest voice. It was but the whisper when the thunder rolled. But if such be the voice, what must it be to behold his face? David said, “I will behold thy face.” It is said of the temple of Diana, that it was so splendidly decorated with gold, and so bright and shining, that a porter at the door always said to every one that entered, “Take heed to your eyes, take heed to your eyes; you will be struck with blindness unless you take heed to your eyes.” But oh! That view of glory! That great appearance. The vision of God! To see him face to face, to enter into heaven, and to see the righteous shining bright as stars in the firmament; but best of all, to catch a glimpse of the eternal throne! Ah! There he sits! ‘Twere almost blasphemy for me to attempt to describe him.

How infinitely far my poor words fall below the mighty subject! But to behold God’s face. I will not speak of the lustre of those eyes, or the majesty of those lips, that shall speak words of love and affection; but to behold his face’ Ye who have dived into the Godhead’s deepest sea, and have been lost in its immensity, ye can tell a little of it! Ye naughty “ones, who have lived in heaven these thousand years perhaps ye know, but ye cannot tell, What it is to see his face. We must each of us go there we must be clad with immortality. We must go above the blue sky, and bathe in the river of life: we must outsoar the lightning, and rise above the stars to know what it is to see God’s face. Words cannot set it forth. So there I leave it. The hope the Psalmist had was, that he might see God’s face.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Hope of Future Bliss, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Evening, May 20, 1855; at Exeter Hall.

The Baptists saw the approach of the Reformation with unmingled joy

Another fact here claims our attention. The Baptists saw the approach of the Reformation with unmingled joy. During its first period they warmly sympathized with the movement, and heartily co-operated with its friends. They were found in every place, gallantly battling in the cause. When, however, to settle Protestantism as the religion of the state, infant baptism was confirmed and established, they stood appalled. They paused. They protested. They said to their brethren,

Christianity is not a mere expansion of Judaism. Its great end is not again to envelop man, as the Papacy seeks to do, in the swaddlingbands of outward ordinances, and man’s teaching. Christianity is a new creation. It takes possession of the inward man, and transforms him in the innermost principles of his nature, so that he needeth not human teaching, but by God’s help he is able of himself, and by himself, to discern that which is true, and to do that which is right.”

Balthasar Hubmeyer, for example, one of the noble army, whose souls ascended to heaven from amidst the martyr-fires of Vienna was a pious, learned, and eloquent Baptist. Before the dawn of the Reformation he had sought to revive the spirit of religion in the Catholic church, of which he was then a priest, and multitudes had flocked to his preaching, and had been moved by his appeals. When Luther and Zwingli lifted their voice for reform, an animated echo was instantly heard from Hubmeyer. He had already translated portions of the scriptures into the language of the people, and was by the side of the foremost in the battle. When the leaders halted, considered, hesitated, and acquiesced in infant baptism, and the union of church and state, he dissented, and planted himself upon the eternal principles of the word of God. He knew that nothing was gained until the church was restored to its primitive: form, as set forth in the gospel. “Write to me again,” said he to Zwingli, his early friend, but afterwards his bitter foe, “Write to me again, for God’s sake, on baptism.” “I believe and know, that Christendom shall not receive its rising aright, unless baptism, and the Lord’s supper, are brought to their original purity.” Zwingli had once doubted himself, as had Melancthon, and Carlstadt, and most of the others, about infant baptism; but they were now committed. The fatal step was taken. But he could not pause, until he saw the church composed, as Jesus Christ commanded, of believers only, and a pure, and spiritual body. Blourock, and Grebel, and Mantz, and Hubmeyer, and the others, reminded the reformers of their own previous doctrines. What response did they receive? Zwingli pettishly answered:

It is impossible to make a heaven upon earth. Christ has taught us to let the tares grow among the wheat!”[159]

Our brethren, determined that no effort should be wanting on their part, still pressed the subject. They were answered only by imprisonments, persecutions, and the stake! For the great Swiss leader, however, D’Aubigne ventures this apology:

He designed a complete religious reformation, but he was resolved not to allow the least invasion of public order or political institutions. This was the limit at which he discovered written by the hand of God, that word from heaven, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no further.” Somewhere it was necessary to make a. stand, and it was at this point Zwingli, and the reformers, took their stand, in spite of the efforts made by rash and impetuous men [the Baptists] to hurry them beyond it.”[160]

in other words, infant baptism was necessary to a state religion, and as such had entered into the “public order, and political institutions.” It was the law of the land. Our brethren, therefore, who refused to conform to it, were denounced as rebels; they were covered with reproach as violators of the law; they were, by princes and magistrates, imprisoned, scourged, banished, put to death! And for their persecution Christian men still rise up as apologists!

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 15- Infant Baptism is an Evil because it enfeebles the power of the Church to combat error

THOUGH ONE ROSE FROM THE DEAD

MAN is very loath to think ill of himself. The most of mankind are very prone to indulge in apologies for sin. They say, “If we had lived in better times we had been better men; if we had been born into this world under happier auspices we should have been holier; and if we had been placed in more excellent circumstances we should have been more inclined to the right.” The mass of men, when they seek the cause of their sin, seek it anywhere but in the right place. They will not blame their own nature for it; they will not find fault with their own corrupt heart, but they will lay the blame anywhere else. Some of them find fault with their peculiar position.

If,” says one, “I had been born rich, instead of being poor, I should not have been dishonest.” “Or if,” says another, “I had been born in middle life, instead of being rich, I should not have been exposed to such temptations to lust and pride as I am now; but my very condition is so adverse to piety, that I am compelled, by the place I hold in society, to be anything but what I ought to be.” Others turn round and find fault with the whole of society; they say that the whole organism of society is wrong; they tell us that everything in government:, everything that concerns the state, everything which melts men into commonwealths, is all so bad that they cannot be good while things are what they are. They must have a revolution, they must upset everything; and then they think they could be holy! Many, on the other hand, throw the blame on their training. If they had not been so brought up by their parents, if they had not been so exposed in their youth, they would not have been what they are. It is their parents’ fault; the sin lay at their father’s or their mother’s door. Or it is their constitution.

Hear them speak for themselves: “If I had such a temper as So-and-so, what a good man I would be! But with my headstrong disposition it is impossible. It is all very well to talk to me; but men have different turns of mind, and my turn of mind is such that I could not by any means be a serious character.” Others go a deal farther, and throw the blame on the ministry. “If,” say they, “at one time the minister had been more earnest in preaching, I should have been a better man; if it had been my privilege to sit under sounder doctrine and hear the Word more faithfully preached, I should have been better.” Or else they lay it at the door of professors of religion, and say, “If the Church were more consistent, if there were no hypocrites and no formalists, then we should reform!”

Ah! You are putting the saddle on the wrong horse, you are laying the burden on the wrong back; the blame is in your heart, nowhere else. If your heart were renewed you would be better; but until that is done, if society were remodeled to perfection, if ministers were angels, and professors of religion were seraphs, you would be none the better; but having less excuse you would be doubly guilty, and perish with a more terrible destruction. But yet men will always be having it, that if things were different they would be different too; whereas, the difference must be made in themselves, if they begin in the right place.

Suppose a preacher should come from another world to preach to us, we must naturally suppose that he came from Heaven. Even the rich man did not ask that he or any of his compeers in torment might go out of hell to preach. Spirits that are lost and given up to unutterable wickedness, could not visit this earth; and if they did they could not preach the truth, nor lead us on the road to Heaven which they had not trodden themselves. The advent of a damned spirit upon earth would be a curse, a blight, a withering blast; we need not suppose that such a thing ever did or could occur. The preacher from another world, if such could come, must come from Heaven. He must be a Lazarus who had lain in Abraham’s bosom, a pure, perfect, and holy being. Now, imagine for a moment that such an one had descended upon earth; suppose that we heard that a venerable spirit, who had been a long time buried, had on a sudden burst his cerements, lifted up his coffin lid, and was now preaching the Word of Life. Oh! What a rush there would be to hear him preach! What place in this wide world would be large enough to hold his massive congregations! How many thousands of portraits would be published of him, representing him in the dread winding-sheet of death, or as an angel fresh from Heaven! Nations, far remote, would soon hear the news; and every ship would be freighted with passengers, bringing men and women to hear this wondrous preacher and traveler who had returned from the born unknown. And how you would listen! And how solemnly you would gaze at that unearthly specter! And how would your ears be attent to his every word! His faintest syllable would be caught and published everywhere throughout the world — the utterances of a man who had been dead and was alive again. And we are very apt to suppose, that if such a thing should happen, there would be numberless conversions, for surely the congregations thus attracted would be immensely blest? Many hardened sinners would be led to repent; hundreds of halters would be made to decide, and great good would be done. Ah! Stop; though the first part of the fairy dream should occur, yet would not the last. If someone should rise from the dead, yet would sinners no more repent through his preaching than through the preaching of any other. God might bless such preaching to salvation, if he pleased; but in itself there would be no more power in the preaching of the sheeted dead, or of the glorified spirit, than there is of feeble man today. “Though one should rise from the dead, they would not repent.”

If the testimony of one man who had been raised from the dead were of any value for the confirming of the Gospel, would not God have used it before now? It is undoubtedly true that some have risen from the dead. We find accounts in Holy Scripture of some men who by the power of Christ Jesus, or through the instrumentality of prophets, were raised from the dead; but ye will note this memorable fact, that they never any of them spoke one word which is recorded, by way of telling us what they saw while they were dead. It is memorable that there is not a record of anyone of them having given any description of what they saw while they were dead. Oh, what secrets might he have told out, who had laid in his grave four days! Do ye not suppose that his sisters questioned him? Do ye not think that they asked him what he saw — whether he had stood before the burning throne of God, and been judged for the things done in his body, and whether he had entered into rest? But, however they may have asked, it is certain he gave no answer; for had he given an answer we should have known it now; tradition would have cherished the record. And do ye remember, when Paul once preached a long sermon, even until midnight, there was a young man in the third loft named Eutychus, who fell asleep, and fell down, and was taken up dead? Paul came down and prayed, and Eutychus was restored to life. But did Eutychus get up and preach after he had come from the dead? No; the thought never seems to have struck a single person in the assembly. Paul went on with his sermon, and they sat and listened to him, and did not care one fig about what Eutychus had seen; for Eutychus had nothing more to tell them than Paul had. Of all the number of those who by divine might have been brought again from the shades of death, we have not one secret told; we have not one mystery unraveled by them all.

But if a man should rise from his tomb, and affirm the truth of the Gospel, the infidel world would be no more near believing than now. Here comes Mr. Infidel Critic. He denies the evidences of the Bible; evidences which so clearly prove its authenticity, that we are obliged to believe him to be either blasphemous or senseless, in that he does so, and we leave him his choice between the two. But he dares to deny the truth of Holy Scripture, and will have it that all the miracles whereby it is attested are untrue and false. Do you think that one who had risen from the dead would persuade such a man as that to believe? What? When God’s whole creation having been ransacked by the hand of science, has only testified to the truth of revelation — when the whole history of buried cities and departed nations has but preached out the truth that the Bible was true — when every strip of land in the far-off East has been an exposition and a confirmation of the prophecies of Scripture; if men are yet unconvinced, do ye suppose that one dead man rising from the tomb would convince them? No; I see the critical blasphemer already armed for his prey. Hark to him: “I am not quite sure that you ever were dead; sir, you profess to be risen from the dead; I do not believe you. You say you have been dead, and have gone to heaven; my dear man, you were in a trance. You must bring proof from the parish register that you were dead.” The proof is brought that he was dead. “Well, now you must prove that you were buried.” It is proved that he was buried, and it is proved that some sexton in old times did take up his dry bones and cast his dust in the air. “That is very good; now I want you to prove that you are the identical man that was buried.” “Well I am, I know I am; I tell you as an honest man I have been to heaven, and I have come back again.” “Well then,” says the infidel, “it is not consistent with reason; it is ridiculous to suppose that a man who was dead and buried could ever come to life again, and so I don’t believe you, I tell you so straight to your face.” That is how men would answer him; and instead of having only the sin of denying many miracles, men would have to add to it the guilt of denying another; but they would not be so much as a tithe of an inch nearer to conviction; and certainly, if the wonder were done in some far-off land, and only reported to the rest of the world, I can suppose that the whole infidel world would exclaim, “Simple childish tales and such traditions have been current elsewhere; but we are sensible men, we do not believe them.” Although a churchyard should start into life, and stand up before the infidel who denies the truth of Christianity, I declare I do not believe there would be enough evidence in all the churchyards in the world to convince him. Infidelity would still cry for something more. It is like the horse-leech; it crieth, “Give, give!” Prove a point to an infidel, and he wants it proved again; let it be as clear as noon-day to him from the testimony of many witnesses, yet doth he not believe it. In fact, he doth believe it; but he pretendeth not to do so, and is an infidel in spite of himself. But certainly the dead man’s rising would be little worth for the conviction of such men.

The most numerous class of unbelievers are people who never think at all. There are a great number in this land who eat and drink, and do everything else except think; at least, they think enough to take their shop shutters down of a morning and put them up at night; they think enough to know a little about the rising of the funds, or the rate percent, of interest, or something like how articles are selling, or the price of bread; but their brains seem to be given them for nothing at all, except to meditate upon bread and cheese. To them religion is a matter of very small concern. They dare say the Bible is very true, they dare say religion is all right, but it does not often trouble them much. They suppose they are Christians; for were they not christened when they were babies? They must be Christians — at least they suppose so; but they never sit down to inquire what religion is. They sometimes go to church and chapel and elsewhere; but it does not signify much to them. One minister may contradict another, but they do not know; they dare say they are both right. One minister may fall foul of another in almost every doctrine; it does not signify, and they pass over religion with a queer idea — “God Almighty will not ask us where we went to, I dare say.” They do not exercise their judgments at all. Thinking is such hard work for them that they never trouble themselves at all about it.

Now, if a man were to rise from the dead tomorrow these people would never be startled. Yes, yes, they would go and see him once, just as they go and see any other curiosity, the living skeleton, or Tom Thumb; they would talk about him a good deal, and say, “There’s a man risen from the dead,” and possibly some winter evening they might read one of his sermons; but they would never give themselves trouble to think whether his testimony was worth anything or not. No, they are such blocks they never could be stirred; and if the ghost were to come to any of their houses the most they would feel would be they were in a fearful fright; but as to what he said, that would never exercise their leaden brains, and never stir their stony senses. Though one should rise from the dead, the great mass of these people never would be affected.

Then learn this truth, that no outward means in the world can ever bring you to the footstool of divine grace and make you a Christian, if Moses and the prophets have failed. All that can be done now is this: God the Spirit must bless the Word to you, otherwise conscience cannot awaken you, reason cannot awaken you, powerful appeals cannot awaken you, persuasion cannot bring you to Christ. Nothing will ever do it except God the Holy Spirit.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘Though One Rose From The Dead’