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CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

THE VICARIOUS SACRIFICE

SOME time ago an excellent lady sought an interview with me, with the object, as she said, of enlisting my sympathy upon the question of “Anti- Capital Punishment.” I heard the excellent reasons she urged against hanging men who had committed murder, and though they did not convince me, I did not seek to answer them. She proposed that when a man committed murder, he should be confined for life. My remark was, that a great many men who had been confined half their lives were not a bit the better for it; and as for her belief that they would necessarily be brought to repentance, I was afraid it was but a dream. “Ah!” she said, good soul as she was, “that is because we have been all wrong about punishments. We punish people because we think they deserve to be punished. Now, we ought to show them,” said she, “that we love them; that we only punish to make them better.” “Indeed, madam,” I said, “I have heard that theory a great many times, and I have seen much fine writing upon the matter, but I am no believer in it. The design of punishment should be amendment, but the ground of punishment lies in the positive guilt of the offender. I believe that when a man does wrong, he ought to be punished for it, and that there is a guilt in sin which justly merits punishment.” “Oh, no!” she could not see that. Sin was a very wrong thing, but punishment was not a proper idea. She thought that people were treated too cruelly in prison, and that they ought to be taught that we love them. If they were treated kindly in prison, and tenderly dealt with, they would grow so much better, she was sure.

With a view of interpreting her own theory, I said, “I suppose, then, you would give criminals all sorts of indulgences in prison. Some great vagabond, who has committed burglary dozens of times — I suppose you would let him sit in an easy chair in the evening before a nice fire, and mix him a glass of spirits and water, and give him his pipe, and make him happy, to show him how much we love him.” “Well, no, she would not give him the spirits, but still, all the rest would do him good.” I thought that was a delightful picture, certainly. It seemed to me to be the most prolific method of cultivating rogues which ingenuity could invent. I imagine that you could grow any number of thieves in that way; for it would be a special means of propagating all manner of roguery and wickedness. These very delightful theories, to such a simple mind as mine, were the source of much amusement; the idea of fondling villains, and treating their crimes as if they were the tumbles and falls of children, made me laugh heartily. I fancied I saw the Government resigning its functions to these excellent persons, and the grand results of their marvelously kind experiments. The sword of the magistrate transformed into a gruel-spoon, and the jail become a sweet retreat for injured reputations.

Little, however, did I think I should live to see this kind of stuff taught in pulpits; I had no idea that there would come out a divinity, which would bring down God’s moral government from the solemn aspect in which Scripture reveals it, to a namby-pamby sentimentalism, which adores a Deity destitute of every masculine virtue. But we never know to-day what may occur to-morrow. We have lived to see a certain sort of men — thank God they are not Baptists, though I am sorry to say there are a great many Baptists who are beginning to follow in their trail — who seek to teach nowadays that God is a universal Father, and that our ideas of his dealing with the impenitent as a Judge, and not as a Father, are remnants of antiquated error. Sin, according to these men, is a disorder rather than an offense, an error rather than a crime. Love is the only attribute they can discern, and the full-orbed Deity they have not known. Some of these men push their way very far into the bogs and mire of falsehood, until they inform us that eternal punishment is ridiculed as a dream. In fact, books now appear which teach us that there is no such thing as the Vicarious Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. They use the word Atonement, it is true, but in regard to its meaning they have removed the ancient landmark. They acknowledge that the Father has shown his great love to poor sinful man by sending his Son, but not that God was inflexibly just in the exhibition of his mercy, not that he punished Christ on the behalf of his people, nor that, indeed, God ever will punish anybody in his wrath, or that there is such a thing as justice apart from discipline. Even sin and hell are but old words employed henceforth in a new and altered sense. Those are old-fashioned notions, and we poor souls who go on talking about election and imputed righteousness are behind our time.

I have often thought the best answer for all these new ideas is, that the true gospel was always preached to the poor — “The poor have the gospel preached to them.” I am sure that the poor will never learn the gospel of these new divines, for they cannot make head or tail of it, nor the rich either; for after you have read through one of their volumes, you have not the least idea of what the book is about, until you have read it through eight or nine times, and then you begin to think you are a very stupid being for ever having read such inflated heresy, for it sours your temper and makes you feel angry, to see the precious truths of God trodden under foot. Some of us must stand out against these attacks on truth, although we love not controversy. We rejoice in the liberty of our fellow-men, and would have them proclaim their convictions; but if they touch these precious things, they touch the apple of our eye. We can allow a thousand opinions in the world, but that which infringes upon the precious doctrine of a covenant salvation, through the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, against that we must, and will, enter our hearty and solemn protest, as long as God spares us. Take away once from us those glorious doctrines, and where are we, brethren? We may lay us down and die, for nothing remains that is worth living for. We have come to the valley of the shadow of death, when we find these doctrines to be untrue. If these things be not the verities of Christ, if they be not true, there is no comfort left for any poor man under God’s sky, and it were better for us never to have been born. I may say what Jonathan Edwards says at the end of his book, “If any man could disprove the doctrines of the gospel, he should then sit down and weep to think they were not true, for,” says he, “it would be the most dreadful calamity that could happen to the world, to have a glimpse of such truths, and then for them to melt away in the thin air of fiction, as having no substantiality in them.” Stand up for the truth of Christ; I would not have you be bigoted, but I would have you be decided. Do not give countenance to any of this trash and error which is going abroad, but stand firm. Be not turned away from your steadfastness by any pretense of intellectuality and high philosophy, but earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and hold fast the form of sound words which you have heard of us, and have been taught, even as ye have read in the Book, which is the way of everlasting life.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘Capitol Punishment’

AN INN-KEEPER’S PRAYER

IT is said that Rowland Hill once had to put up in a village where there was no other house to put up at but a tavern; and having a pair of horses to bait, and going into the best room of the inn, he was considered to be a valuable guest for the night. So the host came in, and he said, “Glad to see you, Mr. Hill.” “I am going,” was the reply, “to stay with you to-night.

Will you let me have family prayer to-night in this house?” “I never had such a thing as family prayer here,” said the landlord, “and I don’t want to have it now.” “Very well; then just fetch my horses out; I can’t stop in a house where they won’t pray to God. Take the horses out.” Now, being too good a guest to lose, the man thinks better of it, and promises to have family prayer. “Ah, but,” said Hill,” I’m not in the habit of conducting prayer in other people’s houses. You must conduct it yourself.” The man said he could not pray. “But you must,” said Rowland Hill. “Oh, but I never did pray.” “Then, my dear man, you will begin to-night,” was the answer. So when the time came, and the family were on their knees, “Now,” said Rowland Hill, “every man prays in his own house: you must offer prayer to-night.” “I can’t pray, I cant,’“ said the landlord. “What, man, you have had all these mercies to-day, and are you so ungrateful that you cannot thank God for them? Besides, what a wicked sinner you have been! Can’t you tell God what a sinner you’ve been, and ask for pardon?” The man began to cry, “I can’t pray, Mr. Hill, I can’t, indeed I can’t.” “Then tell the Lord, man, you can’t; tell him you can’t pray,” said Mr. Hill, “and ask him to help you.” Down went the poor landlord on his knees. “O Lord, I can’t pray: I wish I could.” “Ah! You have begun to pray,” said Rowland Hill, “you have begun to pray, and you will never leave off. As soon as God has set you to pray, faint though it be, you will never leave off. Now I’ll pray for you.” And so he did, and it was not long before the Lord was pleased, through that strange instrumentality, to break the landlord’s hard heart, and to bring him to Christ. Now, I say if any of you can’t pray, tell the Lord you can’t. Ask him to help you to pray: ask him to show you your need to be saved; and if you can’t pray, ask him to give you everything that you need. Christ will make as well as take the message. He will put his own blood upon your prayer; and the Father will send down the Holy Ghost to you to give you more faith and more trust in Christ.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘An Inn-Keeper’s Prayer’

SLEEP A GIFT OF GOD

September 30, 2021 Leave a comment

THE sleep of the body is the gift of God. So said Homer of old, when he described it as descending from the clouds, and resting on the tents of the warriors around old Troy. And so sang Virgil, when he spoke of Palinurus falling asleep upon the prow of the ship. Sleep is the gift of God. We think that we lay our heads upon our pillows, and compose our bodies in a peaceful posture, and that, therefore, we naturally and necessarily sleep. But it is not so. Sleep is the gift of God; and not a man would close his eyes, did not God put his fingers on his eyelids — did not the Almighty send a soft and balmy influence over his frame which lulled his thoughts into quiescence, making him enter into that blissful state of rest which we call sleep. True, there be some drugs and narcotics whereby men can poison themselves well-nigh to death, and then call it sleep; but the sleep of the healthy body is the gift of God. The Lord of love bestows it; his tenderness rocks the cradle for us every night; his kindness draws the curtain of darkness about us, and bids the sun cover his blazing lamp. Love comes and says, “Sleep sweetly, my child; I give thee sleep.” Have you not known what it is at times to lie upon your bed and strive in vain to slumber? As it is said of Darius, so might it be said of you: “The king sent for his musicians, but his sleep went from him.” You have attempted to seize sleep, but it escaped you: the more you tried to sleep the more surely were you awake. It is beyond our power to procure a healthy repose. You imagine if you fix your mind upon a certain subject until it shall engross your attention, you will then sleep; but you find yourself unable to do so. Ten thousand things drive through your brain as if the whole earth were whirled before you. You see all things you ever beheld dancing in a wild confusion before your eyes. You close your eyes, but still you see; and there be things in your ear, and head, and brain, which will not let you be quiet. Sleep has forsaken the couch whereon you court its power. It is God alone, who alike seals up the sea-boy’s eyes upon the giddy mast, and gives the monarch rest: for with all appliances and means to boot, the king could not sleep without the aid of God, but would toss to and fro, and envy his slave to whom sheer weariness became the friendly administrator of slumber. It is God who steeps the mind in Lethe, and bids us sleep, that our bodies may be refreshed, so that for to-morrow’s toil we may rise recruited and strengthened.

How thankful should we be for sleep! Sleep is the best physician that I know off Sleep hath healed more pains of wearied heads, and hearts, and bones than the most eminent physicians upon earth. It is the best medicine; the choicest thing of all the names which are written in all the lists of pharmacy. No magic draught of the physician can match with sleep. What a mercy it is that it belongs alike to all? God does not make sleep the boon of the rich man; he does not give it merely to the noble, or the rich, so that they can monopolize it as a peculiar luxury for themselves; but he bestows it upon the poorest and most obscure. Yea, if there be a difference, the sleep of the laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much. He who toils hardest sleeps all the sounder for his work. While luxurious effeminacy cannot rest, tossing itself from side to side upon a bed of eiderdown, the hard-working laborer, with his strong and powerful limbs, worn out and tired, throws himself upon his hard couch and sleeps: and waking, thanks God that he has been refreshed. Ye know not how much ye owe to God, that he gives you rest at night. If ye had sleepless nights, ye would then value the blessing. If for weeks ye lay tossing on your weary beds, ye then would thank God for this favor. As sleep is the merciful appointment of God, it is a gift most precious, one that cannot be valued until it is taken away; yea, even then we cannot appreciate it as we ought.

The Psalmist says there are some men who are so foolish as to deny themselves sleep. For purposes of gain, or ambition, they rise up early and sit up late. We may have been guilty of the same thing. We have risen early in the morning that we might turn over the ponderous volume, in order to acquire knowledge; we have sat at night until our burned-out lamp has chidden us, and told us that the sun was rising; while our eyes have ached, our brain has throbbed, our heart has palpitated. We have been weary and worn out; we have risen up early, and sat up late, and have in that way come to eat the bread of sorrow by failing health and depressed spirits. Many of you business men are toiling in that fashion. We do not condemn you for it; we do not forbid rising up early and sitting up late; but we remind you of this text: “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

Sleep is frequently used in a bad sense in the Word of God, to express the condition of carnal and worldly men. Some men have the sleep of carnal ease and sloth: of whom Solomon tells us, they are unwise sons that slumber in the harvest, causing shame; so that when the harvest is spent, and the summer is ended, they are not saved. Sleep often expresses a state of sloth, of deadness, of’ indifference, in which all ungodly men are found, according to the words, “It is high time for us to awake out of sleep.” “Let us not sleep as do others, but let us who are of the day be sober.” There be many who are sleeping the sluggard’s sleep, who are tossing upon the bed of indolent ease; but an awful waking awaits them, when they shall find that the time of their probation has been wasted; that the golden sands of their life have dropped unheeded from the hour-glass; and that they have come into that world where there are no acts of pardon passed, no hope, no refuge, no salvation.

In other places you find sleep used as the figure of carnal security, in which so many are found. Look at Saul, lying asleep in fleshly security. He is not like David, who said, “I will lay me down and sleep, for thou Lord only makest me to dwell in safety.” Abner, the captain of Saul’s host, was there, and all the troops lay around him, but Abner slept. Sleep on, Saul! Sleep on! Abishai is standing at thy pillow, and with a spear in his hand he says, “Let me smite him even to the earth at once.” Still he sleeps: he knows not that he is on the brink of the sleep eternal! Such are many of you, sleeping in jeopardy of your souls; Satan is standing over you, the law is ready to smite, vengeance is prepared; even Providence seems to say, “Shall I smite him? I will smite him but this once, and he shall never wake again.” Jesus, the interposer, cries, “Stay, vengeance, stay.” Lo, the spear is even now quivering — “Stay! Spare the sleeper yet another year, in the hope that he may yet awake from this long sleep of sin.” Like Sisera, I tell thee, sinner, thou art sleeping in the tent of the destroyer; thou mayest have eaten butter out of a lordly dish; but thou art sleeping on the doorstep of hell. Even now the enemy is lifting up the hammer and nail, to smite thee through thy temples, and fasten thee to the earth, that there thou mayest lie for ever in that death of everlasting torment, which is so much worse than common death.

There is also mentioned in Scripture a sleep of lust, like that which Samson had when he lost his locks, and such sleep as many have when they indulge in sin, and wake to find themselves stripped, lost, and ruined. There is also the sleep of negligence, such as the virgins had, when it is said, “they all slumbered and slept;” and the sleep of sorrow, which overcame Peter, James, and John, in the garden of Gethsemane. But none of these are the gifts of God. They are incident to the frailty of our nature; they come upon us because we are fallen men: they creep over us because we are the sons of a lost and ruined parent. These sleeps are not the benisons of God; nor does he bestow them on his beloved.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘Sleep a Gift of God’

AT THE SIEGE OF COPENHAGEN

September 23, 2021 Leave a comment

THE QUAKERS IN IRELAND.

A NAVAL officer tells the following singular story concerning the siege of Copenhagen, under Lord Nelson. An officer in the fleet says: — “I was particularly impressed with an object which I saw three or four days after the terrific bombardment of that place. For several nights before the surrender, the darkness was ushered in with a tremendous roar of guns and mortars, accompanied by the whizzing of those destructive and burning engines of warfare, Congreve’s rockets. The dreadful effects were soon visible in the brilliant lights through the city. The blazing houses of the rich, and the burning cottages of the poor, illuminated the heavens; and the wide-spreading flames, reflecting on the water, showed a forest of ships assembled round the city for its destruction. This work of conflagration went on for several nights; but the Danes at length surrendered; and on walking, some days after, among the ruins, consisting of the cottages of the poor, houses of the rich, manufactories, lofty steeples, and humble meeting-houses, I descried, amid this barren field of desolation, a solitary house, unharmed; all around it a burnt mass, this alone untouched by the fire, a monument of mercy. Whose house is that?’ I asked. ‘That,’ said the interpreter, ‘belongs to a Quaker. He would neither fight nor leave his house, but remained in prayer with his family during the whole bombardment.’ ‘Surely’, thought I, it is well with the righteous. God has been a shield to thee in battle, a wall of fire round about thee, a very present help in time of need.” It might seem to be an invention of mine, only that it happens to be as authentic a piece of history as any that can be found.

There is another story told, somewhat similar, of that Danish war. “Soon after the surrender of Copenhagen to the English, in the year 1807, detachments of soldiers were, for a time, stationed in the surrounding villages. It happened one day that three soldiers, belonging to a Highland regiment, were set to forage among the neighboring farmhouses. They went to several, but found them stripped and deserted. At length they came to a large garden, or orchard, full of apple trees, bending under the weight of fruit. They entered by a gate, and followed a path which brought them to a neat farmhouse. Everything without bespoke quietness and security; but as they entered by the front door the mistress of the house and her children ran screaming out by the back. The interior of the house presented an appearance of order and comfort superior to what might be expected from people in that station, and from the habits of the country. A watch hung by the side of the fireplace, and a neat book-case, well filled, attracted the attention of the elder soldier. He took down a book: it was written in a language unknown to him, but the name of Jesus Christ was legible on every page. At this moment the master of the house entered by the door through which his wife and children had just fled. One of the soldiers, by threatening signs, demanded provisions: the man stood firm, and undaunted, but shook his head. The soldier who held the book approached him, and pointing to the name of Jesus Christ, laid his hand upon his heart, and looked up to heaven. Instantly the farmer grasped his hand, shook it vehemently, and then ran out of the room. He soon returned with his wife and children laden with milk, eggs, bacon, etc., which were freely tendered; and when money was offered in return it was at first refused; but as two of the soldiers were pious men, they, much to the chagrin of their companion, insisted upon paying for all they received. When taking leave the pious soldiers intimated to the farmer that it would be well for him to secrete his watch; but by the most significant signs, he gave them to understand that he feared no evil, for his trust was in God; and that though his neighbors, on the right hand and on the left, had fled from their habitations, and by foraging parties had lost what they could not remove, not a hair of his head had been injured, nor had he even lost an apple from his trees.” The man knew that “He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword;” so he just tried the non-resistant principle; and God, in whom he put implicit confidence, would not let him be injured.

It was a remarkable thing that in the massacre of the Protestants in Ireland, a long time ago, there were thousands of Quakers in the country, and only two of them were killed; and those two had no faith in their own principles; one of them ran away and hid himself in a fastness, and the other kept arms in his house; but the others, unarmed. Walked amidst infuriated soldiers, both Roman Catholics and Protestants, and were never touched, because they were strong in the strength of Israel’s God, and put up their sword into its scabbard, knowing that to war against another cannot be right, since Christ has said, “Resist no evil; if any man smite thee on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” “Be kind, not only to the thankful, but to the unthankful and to the evil.” “Forgive your enemies.” “Bless them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.” But we are ashamed to do that; we do not like it; we are afraid to trust God; and until we do it we shall not know the majesty of faith, nor prove the power of God for our protection. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘At the Seige of Copenhagen’

THE EVILS OF SLOTH

September 16, 2021 Leave a comment

MASTER GREENHAM’S ADVICE.

A MAN cannot be idle and yet have Christ’s sweet company. Christ is a quick walker, and when his people would talk with him they must travel quickly too, or else they will soon lose his company. Christ, my Master, goes about doing good, and if you would walk with him you must go about upon the same mission. The Almighty lover of the souls of men is not wont to keep company with idle persons. I find in Scripture that most of the great appearances that were made to eminent saints were made when they were busy. Moses kept his father’s flock when he saw the burning bush; Joshua is going round about the city of Jericho when he meets the angel of the Lord; Jacob is in prayer and the angel of God appears to him; Gideon is threshing, and Elisha is plowing, when the Lord calls them; Matthew is in the receipt of custom when he is bidden to follow Jesus; and James and John are fishing. The manna which the children of Israel kept till morning bred worms and stank: idle grace would soon become active corruption.

Moreover, sloth hardens the conscience: laziness is one of the irons with which the heart is seared. Abimelech hired vain and light persons to serve his turn, and the prince of darkness does the same. O friends, it is a sad thing to rust the edge off from one’s mind, and to lose keenness of moral perception; but sloth will surely do this for us. David felt the emasculating power of sloth, he was losing the force of his conscience, and was ready for anything. The worst is near at hand. He walks upon the housetop, and sees the object which excites his lust; he sends for the woman, the deed is; done; it leads to another crime, he tempts Uriah; it leads to murder, Uriah is put to death; and he takes Uriah’s wife. Ah, David! Ah, David! How are the mighty fallen! How is the prince of Israel fallen, and become like the lewd fellows who riot in the evening! From this day forth his sunshine turns to cloud, his peace gives place to suffering, and he goes to his grave an afflicted and troubled man, who, though he could say, “God hath made with me an everlasting covenant,” yet had to precede it with that very significant sentence, “Although my house be not so with God.”

Is there anyone among the Lord’s people who would crucify the Lord afresh and put him to an open shame? Is there any that would wish to sell their Master, with Judas, or turn aside from Christ, with Demas? It is easy of accomplishment. Oh, you say you could not do it. Now, perhaps, you could not. Get slothful; do not fight the Lord’s battles, and it will become not only easy for you to sin, but you will surely become its victim. Oh, how Satan delights to make God’s people fall into sin! For then he doth, as it were, thrust another nail into the bloody hand of Christ; then he doth stain the fair white linen of Christ’s own garment; then he vaunteth himself that he hath gotten a victory over the Lord Jesus, and hath led one of the Master’s favorites captive at his will! Oh, if we would not thus make hell ring with Satanic laughter, and make the men of God weep because the cedars of Lebanon are cut down, let us watch unto prayer, and be diligent in our Master’s business, “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

David was saved. I only speak to you who are saved, and I beg and beseech of you to take notice of David’s fall, and of the sloth that was at the beginning of it, as a warning to yourselves. Some temptations come to the industrious, but all temptations attack the idle. Notice the invention used by country people to catch wasps. They will put a little sweet liquor into a long and narrow-necked phial. The do-nothing wasp comes by, smells the sweet liquor, plunges in, and is drowned. But the bee comes by, and if she does stop for a moment to smell, yet she enters not, because she has honey of her own to make; she is too busy in the work of the commonwealth to indulge herself with the tempting sweets.

Master Greenham, a Puritan divine, was once waited upon by a woman who was greatly tempted. Upon making inquiries into her way of life, he found she had little to do, and Greenham said, “That is the secret of your being so much tempted. Sister, if you are very busy, Satan may tempt you, but he will not easily prevail, and he will soon give up the attempt.” Idle Christians are not tempted of the devil so much as they do tempt the devil to tempt them. Idleness sets the door of the heart ajar, and asks Satan to come in; but if we are occupied from morning till night, if Satan shall get in, he must break through the door. Under sovereign grace, and next to faith, there is no better shield against temptation than being “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

Let me remind those who are doing little for Christ, that once you were not so cold as this. There was a time with David when the sound of the clarion of war would have stirred his blood, and he would have been eager for the fray. There was a day when the very sight of Israel marshaled in goodly phalanx would have made David bold as a lion. Oh, it is an ill thing to see the lion changed like this! God’s hero stays at home with the women! There was a time when you would have gone over hedge and ditch to hear a sermon, and never minded standing in the aisles; but now the sermons are tedious to some of you, although you have soft cushions to sit upon. Then if there was a cottage-meeting, or a street-preaching, you were there. Ah! You say, that was wildfire. Blessed wildfire! The Lord give you the wildfire back again; for even if it be wildfire, better wildfire than no fire at all; better be called a fanatic than deserve to be called a drone in Christ’s hive.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘The Evils of Sloth’

GOING THROUGH THE FIRE

September 9, 2021 2 comments

I SEE iniquity raging on every side. Its flames are fanned by every wind of fashion; and fresh victims are being constantly drawn in. It spreads to every class. Not the palace nor the hovel is safe. Not the lofty piles that are raised for merchandise, nor the graceful edifice that is constructed for worship. Iniquity, whose contagion is fearful as fire, spreads and preys upon all things that are homely and comely; things useful and things sacred are not exempt. We must walk through the fire. We, who are God’s witnesses must stand in its very midst, to pour the streams of living water upon the burning fuel, and if not able to quench it, at least we must strive to prevent its spread.

I see before my mind’s eye the blackened skeletons of hundreds of fair professions. Multitudes — multitudes have perished in the valley of temptation, who once, to all human judgment, had bid fair for heaven, and made a show in the flesh. How many, too, have fallen under the attacks of Satan! This is a fire that does burn. Many a man has said, “I will be a pilgrim;” but he has met Apollyon on the road, and he has tarried back. Many a man has put on the harness, but he has given up the battle soon; put his hand to the plow, and looked back. There are more pillars of salt than one. If Lot’s wife were a solitary specimen, it were well; but there have been tens of thousands who, like her, have looked back to the plains of Sodom, and, like her, as they are in their spirit, have stood for ever what they were — lost souls. We ought not to look upon our dangers with contempt; they are dangers, they are trials. We ought to look upon our temptations as fires: oh, they are fires! If you think they are not fires you are mistaken. If you enter, then, in your own strength, saying, “Oh, I could bear them,” you will find that they are real fires, which, with forked tongues, shall lick up your blood, and consume it in an instant, if you have not some better guard than your own creature power.

When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Dr. Alexander, an eminent and most admirable American commentator, says there appears to be some mistake in the translation, because he thinks the two sentences are an anti-climax. “Thou shalt not be burned;” and then follows, “neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” It strikes me, however, that in the second clause we have the higher gradation of a climax. “Thou shalt not be burned,” to the destruction of thy life; nor even scorched to give thee the most superficial injury, for “the flames shall not kindle upon thee.” Just as when the three holy children came out of the fiery furnace, it is said, “Upon their bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed; neither were their coats changed, nor had the smell of fire passed on them.” So the text seems to me to teach that the Christian church, under all its trials, has not been consumed, but more than that, it has not lost anything by its trials. The Lord’s church has never been destroyed yet by her persecutors and her trials. They have thought they crushed her, but she lives still. They had imagined that they had taken away her life, but she sprang up more vigorous than before.

I suppose there is not a nation out of which Christ’s church has ever been utterly driven. Even Spain, which seemed at last to have accomplished it by the most persevering barbarities, finds still a few believers to be a thorn in the side of her bigotry; and as for our own denomination, in the very country where, by the most frightful massacres, it was believed that the sect of Anabaptists had been utterly extinguished, Mr. Oncken became the means of reviving it, so that throughout all Germany, and in parts of Denmark, and Prussia, and Poland, and even Russia itself, we have sprung up into a new, vigorous, and even wonderful existence. And in Sweden, where, under Lutheran government, the most persecuting edicts had been passed against us, we have been astonished to find churches suddenly spring up, for the truth has in it a living seed which is not to be destroyed.

But the church not only does not lose her existence, she does not lose anything at all. The Church has never lost her numbers. Persecutions have winnowed her and driven away the chaff, but not one grain of wheat has been taken away from the heap. Nay, not even in visible fellowship has the church been decreased by persecution. She is like Israel in Egypt; the more they were afflicted the more they multiplied. Was a bishop put to death today? Ten young men came the next morning before the Roman proctor, and offered themselves to die, having that very night been baptized for the dead bishop, having made their confession of faith that they might occupy his position. “I fill up the vacancy in the church, and then die as he did.” Was a woman strangled or tortured publicly? Twenty women appeared the next day, and craved to suffer as she suffered, that they might honor Christ.

Did the Church of Rome in more modern times burn one of our glorious reformers — John Huss — yet did not Martin Luther come forward as if the ashes of Huss had begotten Luther? When Wycliffe had passed away did not the very fact of Wycliffe being persecuted help to spread his doctrines? And were there not found hundreds of young men who in every market-town in England read the Lollard’s Scriptures, and proclaimed the Lollard’s faith? And so, depend upon it, it shall ever be. Give a dog a bad name, and you hang him; give a Christian a bad name, and you honor him. Do but give to any Christian some ill name, and before long a Christian denomination will take that name to itself, and it will become a title of honor. When George Fox was called “Quaker,” it was a strange name — one to laugh at; but those men of God who followed him called themselves Quakers too, and so it lost its reproach. They called the followers of Whitefield and Wesley Methodists; they took the title of Methodists, and it became a respectful designation. When many of our Baptist forefathers, persecuted in England, went over to America to find shelter, they imagined that among the Puritans they would have a perfect rest, but Puritan liberty of conscience meant, “The right and liberty to think as they did, but no toleration to those who differed.” The Puritans of New England, as soon as ever a Baptist made his appearance amongst them, persecuted him with as little compunction as the Episcopalians had the Puritans. No sooner was there a Baptist, than he was hunted up, and brought before his own Christian brethren. Mark you, he was brought up for fine, for imprisonment, confiscation and banishment, before the very men who had themselves suffered persecution. And what was the effect of this? The effect has been that in America, where we were persecuted, we are the largest body of Christians. Where the fire burnt the most furiously, there the good old Calvinistic doctrine was taught, and the Baptist became the more decidedly a Baptist than anywhere else, with the most purity and the least dross. Nor have we ever lost the firmness of our grip upon the fundamental doctrine, for which our forefathers stained the baptismal pool with blood, by all the trials and persecutions that have been laid upon us; and never shall we.

Upon the entire church, at the last, there shall not be even the smell of fire. I see her come out of the furnace. I see her advance up the hill towards her final glory with her Lord and Master, and the angels look at her garments; they are not tattered. Nay, the fangs of her enemies have not been able to make a single rent therein. They draw near to her; they look upon her flowing ringlets, and they are not crisp with heat; they look upon her very feet, and though she has trodden the coals they are not blistered, and her eyes have not been dried up by the furiousness of the seven times heated flame. She has been made more beautiful, more fair, more glorious, by the fires, but hurt she has not been, nor can she be. Turn, then, to the individual Christian, and remember, that the promise stands alike firm and fast with each believer. Christian, if you be truly a child of God, your trials cannot destroy you; and what is better still, you can lose nothing by them. You may seem to lose for to-day, but when the account comes to be settled, you shall not be found to be a farthing the loser by all the temptations of all the world, or all the attacks of Satan which you have endured. Nay, more, you shall be wondrously the gainer. Your trials having worked patience and experience, shall make you rich. Your temptations having taught you your weakness, and shown you where your strength lieth, shall make you strong.

There is a brother who has had wave upon wave of affliction: everything goes against him. He is an upright, honest, indefatigable merchant, yet, let him do what he will, his substance wastes away like snow before the sun. It appears that for every ship of his the wind blows the wrong way, and where others win by the venture he loses all:

Sees every day new straits attend,

And wonders where the scene shall end.

When I spoke of walking through the fire, he said, “Ah! That is what I have been doing; I have been walking through it these months, to God and my own soul alone is it known how hot the furnace is.” Brother, will you take home this text? “When thou goest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned.” When your troubles are all over, you shall still be left, and what is more, “Neither shall the flame kindle upon you.” When the winding up time comes, you shall not be any the loser. While you think you have lost substance, you shall find when you read Scripture, that you only lose shadows. Your substance was always safe, being laid up in the keeping of Christ in heaven. You shall discover in the issue, that these trials of yours were the best things that could happen to you. The day will come when you will say with David, “I will sing of judgment and mercy.” “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept thy word.”

Or perhaps there is some young woman — and the case I am about to paint is a very common one — alas! Too common in this city. You love the Savior, my sister, but you are very poor, and you have to earn your living by that sorriest of all means. When the sun rises in the morning he sees you with that needle in your hand,

Sewing at once with a double thread;

A shroud as well as a shirt.

and all day long you have scarcely time to rest for meals, and at eventime, when the fingers are worn and the eyes are heavy, you shall have need to refrain from sleep because the pittance is so small that you can scarcely live upon it. We know hundreds of that class who always constrain our pity, because they work so hard for so little wage. Peradventure your mother is dead, and your father does not care about you; he is a drunken sot, and you would be sorry to meet him perhaps in the street. You have no helper, no friends. You do not care to tell anybody; you would not like to take anything if charity should offer it to you; you feel it the hardest thing of all is to be tempted as you are. There seems to you to be by the path open the road to plenty, and in some degree to delight. But you have said, “No, no!” and you have loathed the temptation, and you have stood — and I have known how year after year some of you have fought with temptation, and struggled on, when sometimes you were well-nigh starved; but you would not do this great wickedness against God.

My sister, I pray you take the encouragement of Scripture to strengthen you for the future battles. You have been going through the fires. But you are not consumed yet, and I bless God, upon your garments the smell of fire has not passed. Hold on, my sister, hold on, through all the sorrow thou hast, and all the bitterness which is heavy enough to crush thy spirit; hold on, for thy Master sees thee. He will encourage and strengthen thee, and bring thee more than conqueror through it all in the end.

How cruel sometimes worldly young men are to Christian young men! Cruel — for when there are a dozen worldlings and only one Christian, they consider it to be honorable for the dozen to set upon one. Twelve big, tall fellows will sometimes think it a fine game to pass from hand to hand some little lad of fifteen, and make sport and mockery of him. There is honor, it is said, among thieves, but there seems to be no honor at all among worldlings when they get a young Christian in this way. Well, young man, you have borne with it; you have said, “I will hold my tongue and won’t say a word,” though your heart was hot within you, and while you were musing the fire burned. Remember, the anvil does not get broken, even if you keep on striking it, but it breaks all the hammers. Do you do the same. Only hold on, and these fires shall not consume you. If the fire should burn up your piety, it would only prove that your piety was not worth having. If you cannot stand a few jokes and jeers, why, you are not builded together in that habitation of God which he hath made fireproof. Bear up, and in the end you will find that this hard lot of yours, this severe discipline, did you a deal of good, and made you a better man than you ever would have been if you had been dandled on the lap of piety, and kept from the battle. In after years your high and eminent post of usefulness may be, perhaps, owing to the severe and harsh discipline to which you were put in your younger days. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”

Or, mayhap, I am speaking to some one who has met with opposition from his own ungodly relations. Remember how Jesus said, “I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled? From henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, two against three and three against two.” Perhaps your father has threatened you, or what is more bitter still, your husband has threatened to discard you. Now indeed you are walking through the fires. He rails at your godliness, makes a mock of everything you love, and does his best by cruelty to break your heart. My dear sister in Christ, you shall not be burned by the fire. If grace be in your heart, the devil can’t drive it out, much less your husband. If the Lord has called you by his grace all the men on earth, and all the fiends in hell can’t reverse the calling; and you shall find in the end that you have not suffered any loss; the flame has not kindled upon you. You shall go through the fire and bless God for it. From a dying bed, or at least through the gates of Paradise you shall look back upon the dark path of the way and say it was well, it was well for me that I had to carry that cross, and that now I am permitted to wear this crown.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘Going Through the Fire’

The Wednesday Word: How God gets us to Heaven Part 3

September 8, 2021 Leave a comment

The next matter we want to consider in this short series on justification is,

4) Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

In Romans 4:25 we read that Christ was “delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification.”

Here’s the truth of the matter, we were in spiritual debt, but Christ paid our account in full (Hebrews 9:28). Our condemnation caused Christ to willingly be executed in our place. At Calvary, Christ was condemned, and we were acquitted (justified).

Three days later, the Lord Jesus rose from the dead to demonstrate that Heaven was satisfied with the payment which was made for our sins.

Let’s say a man is in jail for an unpaid debt. As long as the debt is in arrears the man stays in jail. But when the debt is paid, the man goes free.

Similarly … Christ took our place and paid our bill. He redeemed us! The prison of death could no longer hold Jesus. His resurrection demonstrated that our justification had been accomplished.

When we go in and pay a phone bill, we get a receipt to show that the payment has been made.

If the phone company attempt to collect the bill again, we produce the receipt to show we don’t owe that debt. The matter is cleared.

Figuratively speaking, the Lord Jesus walked up to Calvary … God’s desk for the payment of the bill of sin. The account was long overdue and heavy against us and the only way the Lord Jesus could settle the account was by shedding His blood and dying for us.

So, Christ offered Himself (Hebrews 7:27; 9:14). His life was pure and perfect, but the Father, on our behalf, took His spotless lamb and executed Him.

Christ hung there on the cross and as He was suspended between heaven and earth paid the entire debt of His people’s sin.

After His death they put Him into a tomb. But death couldn’t hold him. The grave couldn’t contain Him., and as a cashier would stamp a receipt paid in full, so Christ was raised from the dead as a sign that there was nothing more to pay. His resurrection was the receipt.

I’ve a confession to make … sometimes I don’t feel saved, but I have learned to look away from myself and look to the Finished Work where I see the resurrection is proof that I am.

The final matter we encounter in this short series is that we are,

5) Justified by Faith

Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Faith takes a hold of the accomplishments of the gospel and makes them our own.

We are not justified on account of our faith but we, by faith, say yes to the wonderful accomplishments of the Lord on our behalf … and the result is … peace.

Our justification is found in Christ not in our faith. By faith we receive that which has already been accomplished by Him. In other words, faith takes a hold of the justification obtained at Calvary. But remember, faith itself is not the quality that justifies us. A justified believer has had their sins taken away, but they were not taken away by faith. They were taken away by the Lamb (John 1:19).

Faith sees and grasps this!

In conclusion,

God is the source of our justification.

Grace is the cause of our justification.

Christ’s blood is the ground of our justification.

Christ’s resurrection is the proof of our justification.

We take a hold these truths by faith and faith makes them our own.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

THE WORLDLY-WISE

September 2, 2021 Leave a comment

YOU have, as yet, escaped the lash; but there is a third table, crowded with most honorable guests. I believe there have been more princes and Kings, mayors and aldermen, and great merchants sitting at this table, than at any other. It is called the table of worldliness. “Humph!” says a man, “well, I dislike the profligate. There’s my eldest son. I’ve been hard at work saving up money all my life, and there’s that young fellow, he will not stick to business: he has become a real profligate. I am very glad the minister spoke so sharp about that. As for me — there now! I don’t care about your selfrighteous people a single farthing; to me it is of no account at all; I don’t care at all about religion in the slightest degree; I like to know whether the funds rise or fall, or whether there is an opportunity of making a good bargain; but that’s about all I care for.” Ah, worldling! I have read of a friend of yours, who was clothed in scarlet, and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. Do you know what became of him? You should remember it, for the same end awaits yourself. The end of his feast must be the end of yours. If your god is this world, depend upon it you shall find that your way is full of bitterness. Now, see that table of the worldly man, the mere worldling who lives for gain. Satan brings him in a flowing cup, “There,” says he, “young man, you are starting in business; you need not care about the conventionalities of honesty, or about the ordinary oldfashioned fancies of religion; get rich as quickly as ever you can. Get money, get money; honestly if you can, but if not, get it anyhow,” says the devil; and down he puts his tankard. “There,” says he, “is a foaming draught for you.” “Yes,” says the young man, “I have abundance now. My hopes are indeed realized.” Here, then, you see the first and best wine of the worldling’s feast, and many of you are tempted to envy this man. “Oh, that I had such a prospect in business!” says one. “I am not half so sharp as he is, I could not deal as he deals; my religion would not let me. But how fast he gets rich! Oh, that I could prosper as he does!”

Come, my brother, judge not before the time, there’s a second course to come — the thick and nauseous draught of care. The man has got his money; but they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare. Wealth ill-gotten, or ill-used, or hoarded, brings a canker with it that does not canker the gold and silver, but cankers the man’s heart; and a cankered heart is one of the most awful things a man can have. Ah! See this moneylover, and mark the care which sits upon his heart. There is a poor old woman who lives near his lodge-gate. She has but a pittance a week, but she says, “Bless the Lord, I have enough!” She never asks how she is to live, or how she is to die, or how she is to be buried, but sleeps sweetly on the pillow of contentment and faith; and here is this poor fool with untold gold; but he is miserable because he happened to drop a sixpence as he walked along the streets, or because he had an extra call upon his charity, to which the presence of some friend compelled him to yield; or, perhaps, he groans because his coat wears out too soon.

After this comes avarice. Many have had to drink of that cup; may God save us from its fiery drops! A great American preacher has said, “Covetousness breeds misery. The sight of houses better than our own, of dress beyond our means, of jewels costlier than we may wear, of stately equipage, and rare curiosities beyond our reach, these hatch the viper brood of covetous thoughts; vexing the poor who would be rich; tormenting the rich who would be richer. The covetous man pines to see pleasure; is sad in the presence of cheerfulness; and the joy of the world is his sorrow, because all the happiness of others is not his. I do not wonder that: God abhors him. He inspects his heart as he would a cave full of noisome birds, or a nest of rattling reptiles, and loathes the sight of its crawling tenants. To the covetous man life is a nightmare, and God lets him wrestle with it as best he may. Mammon might build its palace on such a heart, and Pleasure bring all its revelry there. Honor all its garlands — it would be like pleasures in a sepulcher, and garlands on a tomb.” When a man becomes avaricious, all he has is nothing to him; “More, more, more!” says he, like some poor creatures in a terrible fever, who cry, “Drink, drink, drink!” and you give them drink, but after they have it, their thirst increases. Like the horse-leech, they cry, “Give, give, give!” Avarice is a raving madness, which seeks to grasp the world in its arms, and yet despises the plenty it has already. This is a curse of which many have died; and some have died with the bag of gold in their hands, and with misery upon their brow, because they could not take it with them into their coffin, and could not carry it into another world.

Well, then, there comes the next course. Baxter, and those terrible old preachers, used to picture the miser, and the man who lived only to make gold, in the middle of hell; and they imagined Mammon pouring melted gold down their throat. “There,” say the mocking devils, “that is what you wanted; you have got it now; drink, drink, drink!” and the molten gold is poured down. I shall not, however, indulge in any such terrible imaginations, but this much I know, he that liveth to himself here, must perish; he who sets his affections upon things on earth, hath not digged deep — he has built his house upon the sands; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, down must come his house, and great must be the fall thereof. It is the best wine first, however; it is the respectable man — respectable and respected, everybody honors him; and afterwards that which is worst, when meanness has beggared his wealth, and covetousness has maddened his brain. It is sure to come, as sure as ever you give yourself up to worldliness.

The fourth table is set in a very secluded corner, in a very private part of Satan’s palace. There is the table set for secret sinners, and here the old rule is observed. At that table, in a room well darkened, I see a young man sitting, and Satan is the servitor, stepping in so noiselessly, that no one would hear him. He brings in the first cup — and oh how sweet it is! It is the cup of secret sin. “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” How sweet that morsel, eaten all alone! Was there ever one that rolled so delicately under the tongue? That is the first; after that he brings in another — the wine of an unquiet conscience. The man’s eyes are opened. He says, “What have I done? What have I been doing? Ah!” cries this Achan, “the first cup you brought me, I saw sparkling in that a wedge of gold, and a goodly Babylonish garment; and I thought, ‘Oh, I must have that;’ but now my thought is, ‘What shall I do to hide this, where shall I put it? I must dig. Ay, I must dig deep as hell before I shall hide it, for sure enough it will be discovered.’“

The grim governor of the feast is bringing in a massive bowl, filled with a black mixture. The secret sinner drinks, and is confounded; he fears his sin will find him out. He has no peace, no happiness, he is full of uneasy fear; he is afraid that he shall be detected. He dreams at night that there is someone after him; there is a voice whispering in his ear, and telling him, “I know all about it; I will tell it.” He thinks, perhaps, that the sin which he has committed in secret will break out to his friends; the father will know it, the mother will know it. Ay, it may be even the physician will tell the tale, and blab out the wretched secret. For such a man there is no rest. He is always in dread of arrest. He is like the debtor I have read of, who, owing a great deal of money, was afraid the bailiffs were after him; and happening one day to catch his sleeve on the top of a palisade, said, “There, let me go; I’m in a hurry. I will pay you to-morrow,” imagining that someone was laying hold of him. Such is the position in which the man places himself by partaking of the hidden things of dishonesty and sin Thus he finds no rest for the sole of his foot for fear of discovery. At last the discovery comes; it is the last cup. Often it comes on earth; for, be sure your sin will find you out, and it will generally find you out here. What frightful exhibitions are to be seen at our police courts of men who are made to drink that last black draught of discovery!

The man who presided at religious meetings, the man who was honored as a saint, is at last unmasked. And what saith the judge — and what saith the world of him? He is a jest, and a reproach, and a rebuke everywhere. But, suppose he should be so crafty, that he passes through life without discovery — though I think it is almost impossible — what a cup he must drink when he stands at last before the bar of God! “Bring him forth, jailer! Dread keeper of the dungeon of hell, lead forth the prisoner.” He comes! The whole world is assembled. “Stand up, sir! Did you not make a profession of religion? Did not everybody think you a saint?” He is speechless. But many there are in that vast crowd who cry, “We thought him so.” The book is open, his deeds are read: transgression after transgression all laid bare. Do you hear that hiss? The righteous, moved to indignation, are lifting up their voices against the man who deceived them and dwelt among them as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Oh, how fearful it must be to bear the scorn of the universe! The good can bear the scorn of the wicked, but for the wicked to bear the shame and everlasting contempt which righteous indignation will heap upon them, will be one of the most frightful things, next to the eternal endurance of the wrath of the Most High, which, I need not add, is the last cup of the devil’s terrible feast with which the secret sinner must be filled for ever and ever.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘The Banquet of Evil’

THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS GUESTS

DO ye see that other table yonder, in the middle of the palace? Ah, good easy souls! Many of you had thought that you never went to the feast of hell at all; but there is a table for you too; it is covered over with a fair white cloth, and all the vessels upon the table are most clean and comely. The wine looks not like the wine of Gomorrah, it moveth aright, like the wine from the grapes of Eshcol; it seems to have no intoxication in it: it is like the ancient wine which they pressed from the grape into the cup, having in it no deadly poison. Do you see the men who sit at this table? How self-contented they are! Ask the white fiends who wait at it, and they will tell you, “This is the table of the self-righteous: the Pharisee sits there. You may know him; he has his phylactery between his eyes; the hem of his garment is made exceeding broad; he is one of the best of the best professors.” “Ah!” saith Satan, as he draws the curtain and shuts off the table where the profligates are carousing, “be quiet; don’t make too much noise, lest these sanctimonious hypocrites should guess what company they are in. These self-righteous people are my guests quite as much as you, and I have them quite as safely.” So Satan, like an angel of light, brings forth a gilded goblet, looking like the chalice of the table of communion. And what wine is that? It seems to be the very wine of the sacred Eucharist; it is called the wine of self-satisfaction, and around the brim you may see the bubbles of pride. Look at the swelling froth upon the bowl — “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” You know that cup, my self-deceiving readers. Oh, that ye knew the deadly hemlock which is mixed therein! “Sin as other men do? Not you; not at all! You are not going to submit yourself to the righteousness of Christ; what need you? You are as good as your neighbors: if you are not saved you ought to be, you think. Don’t you pay everybody twenty shillings in the pound? Did you ever rob anybody in your life? You do your neighbors a good turn; you are as good as other people.”

That is the first cup the devil gives; and the good wine makes you swell with self-important dignity, as its fumes enter your heart and puff it up with an accursed pride. Yes, I see you sitting in the room so cleanly swept and so neatly garnished, and I see the crowds of your admirers standing around the table, even many of God’s own children, who say, “Oh, that I were half as good as he!” While the very humility of the righteous provides you with provender for your pride. Wait awhile, thou unctuous hypocrite, wait awhile, for there is a second course to come. Satan looks with quite as selfsatisfied an air upon his guests this time as he did upon the troop of rioters. “Ah!” says he, “I cheated those gay fellows with the cup of pleasure, — I gave them afterwards the dull cup of satiety, and I have cheated you, too; you think yourselves all right, but I have deceived you twice, I have befooled you indeed.” So he brings in a cup which, sometimes, he himself doth not like to serve. It is called the cup of discontent and unquietness of mind, and many there be that have to drink this after all their selfsatisfaction. Do you not find, you who are very good in your own esteem but have no interest in Christ, that when you sit alone and begin to turn over your accounts for eternity, they do not square somehow — that you cannot strike the balance exactly to your own side after all, as you thought you could? Have you not sometimes found, that when you thought you were standing on a rock, there was a quivering beneath your feet? You heard the Christian sing boldly —

Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

While through thy blood absolved I am

From sins tremendous curse and shame.

And you have said, “Well, I cannot sing that. I have been as good a Churchman as ever lived, I never missed going to my church all these years, but I cannot say I have a solid confidence.” You had once a hope of self-satisfaction; but now the second course has come in, and you are not quite so contented. “Well,” says another, “I have been to my chapel, and I have been baptized, and made a profession of religion, though I was never brought to know the Lord in sincerity and in truth; and I once thought it was all well with me, but I want a something which I cannot find.” Now comes a shaking in the heart. It is not quite so delightful as one supposed to build on one’s own righteousness. Ah! That is the second course.

Wait awhile, and mayhap in this world, but certainly in the hour of death, the devil will bring in the third cup of dismay at the discovery of your lost condition. How many a man who has been self-righteous all his life has, at the last, discovered that the thing whereon he placed his hope had failed him! I have heard of an army who, being defeated in battle, endeavored to make a good retreat. With all their might the soldiers fled to a certain river, where they expected to find a bridge across which they could retreat and be in safety. But when they came to the stream, there was heard a shriek of terror — “The bridge is broken, the bridge is broken!” All in vain was that cry; for the multitude hurrying on behind pressed upon those that were before, and forced them into the river, until the stream was glutted with the bodies of drowned men. Such must be the fate of the self-righteous. You thought there was a bridge of ceremonies; that baptism, confirmation, and the Lord’s Supper, made up the solid arches of a bridge of good works and duties. But when you come to die, there shall be heard the cry — “The bridge is broken, the bridge is broken!” It will be in vain for you to turn round then. Death is close behind you; he forces you onward, and you discover what it is to perish through having neglected the great salvation, and attempting to save yourself through your own good works.

This is the last course but one: and your last course of all, the worst wine, your everlasting portion must be the same as that of the profligate. Good as you thought yourself to be, inasmuch as you proudly rejected Christ, you must drink the winecup of the wrath of God, that cup which is full of trembling. The wicked of the earth shall wring out the dregs of that cup, and drink them; and you also must drink of it as deep as they. Oh, beware in time! Put away your high looks, and humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall be saved.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘The Banquet of Evil’

The Double — Minded Man

LORD BYRON’S STATUE.

BALAAM said, “I have sinned;” but yet he went on with his sin afterwards.

One of the strangest characters of the whole world is Balaam. I have often marveled at that man; he seems really in another sense to have come up to the lines of Ralph Erskine —

To good and evil equal bent,

And both a devil and a saint.

For he did seem to be so. At times no man could speak more eloquently and more truthfully, and at other times he exhibited the most mean and sordid covetousness that could disgrace human nature, Think you see Balaam; he stands upon the brow of the hill, and there lie the multitudes of Israel at his feet; he is bidden to curse them, and he cries, “How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed?” And God opening his eyes, he begins to tell even about the coming of Christ, and he says, “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh.” And then he winds up his oration by saying — “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” And ye will say of that man, he is a hopeful character.

Wait till he has come off the brow of the hill, and ye will hear him give the most diabolical advice to the king of Moab which it was even possible for Satan himself to suggest. Said he to the king, “You cannot overthrow these people in battle, for God is with them; try and entice them from their God.” And ye know how with wanton lusts they of Moab tried to entice the children of Israel from allegiance to Jehovah; so that this man seemed to have the voice of an angel at one time, and yet the very soul of a devil in his bowels. He was a terrible character; he was a man of two things, a man who went all the way with two things to a very great extent. I know the Scripture says, “No man can serve two masters.” Now this is often misunderstood. Some read it, “No man can serve two masters.” Yes he can; he can serve three or four. The way to read it is this: “No man can serve two masters.” They cannot both be masters. He can serve two, but they cannot both be his master. A man can serve two who are not his masters, or twenty either; he may live for twenty different purposes, but he cannot live for more than one master purpose — there can only be one master purpose in his soul. But Balaam labored to serve two; it was like the people of whom it was said, “They feared the Lord, and served other gods.” Or like Rufus, who was a loaf of the same leaven; for you know our old king Rufus painted God on one side of his shield, and the devil on the other, and had underneath, the motto: “Ready for both; catch who can.” There are many such, who are ready for both. They meet a minister, and how pious and holy they are! On the Sabbath they are the most respectable and upright people in the world, as you would think; indeed they affect a drawling in their speech, which they think to be eminently religious. But on a week day, if you want to find the greatest rogues and cheats, they are some of those men who are so sanctimonious in their piety. Now, rest assured that no confession of sin can be genuine, unless it be a wholehearted one. It is of no use for you to say, “I have sinned,” and then keep on sinning. “I have sinned,” say you, and it is a fair, fair face you show; but alas, alas, for the sin you will go away and commit!

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘Good Works and Broken Keys’