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The Wednesday Word: He Must Increase!

Have you ever felt dissatisfied with your faith? Have you ever thought that if only you had a better quality of faith, then you could be sure of your salvation? This is dangerous thinking.

Why? Because we are never called to have faith in faith. Since when does the Bible say, “Being satisfied with our faith, we have peace with God”? (See Romans 5:1).

Satisfaction with Jesus, His person and work is what is called for. We are never called to be satisfied with our faith but called rather to be occupied with Christ and His objective, outside of us, finished work!

Let’s look further at this.

Gospel faith takes a hold of Christ and His accomplishments on our behalf. Gospel faith releases us to set our affection on things above where Christ is seated in cosmic authority. (Colossians 3:2). Gospel faith takes us out of ourselves and into the Lord Jesus.

The result of gospel faith is satisfaction with Christ and His substitutionary work done on our behalf. Christ is all (Colossians 3:11). Gospel faith sees and rests on this!

If our desire, however, is to be satisfied with our faith, we are evidently dissatisfied with Jesus. We are not thinking as gospel believers. Our thoughts have somehow been re-arranged. By way of contrast, the gospel believer is learning to be dissatisfied with self and to be satisfied with Christ Jesus. He has taken John the Baptist’s words to heart, Do you remember, John the Baptist’s words? Speaking of Jesus, the Baptist said “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)? As we apply them, we see that for the gospel-focused believer, growth can be explained with these three little words, “He must increase.”

He. The Lord Christ who has conquered, death, sin and the grave.

Must. It is not an alternative

Increase. In our understanding, appreciation thinking and love.

For Him to increase does not mean an increased inward self- occupation with our warm fuzzy subjective experiences, but rather it means enjoying being occupied with the risen and exalted Christ. When He, the risen Christ is increasing, everything else that vies for our attention is decreasing.

Near the pulpit, in an old church in the Highlands of Scotland there is a sign that says, “No man can give at once the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save.” This is just another way of saying, ‘He Must Increase.’ With the Lord’s help, may we all learn to be thrilled with faith’s glorious object, the Lord Jesus.

In summary, faith, no matter how perfect, is nothing in and of itself. Faith, however, points us to Jesus. It commands us to look away from ourselves and look to Christ, the risen, exalted, crucified Lord. Faith agrees that “Christ is all.” (Colossians 3:11). Faith constantly urges us to look to the One who says, “Look unto me” (Isaiah 45:22).

He must Increase!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

The Wednesday Word: The God Who is not in Hiding

In Christ Jesus, God has brought His righteousness near (Isaiah 46:13). Therefore, when telling others of His salvation we need to stress that salvation is not some distant and mysterious thing that we have to work hard to obtain. We don’t have to coax God to come near to us. We don’t have to, for example, experience the ‘warm fuzzies’ about God in order to get saved. ‘Warm Fuzzies’ will not bring salvation any nearer than it already is. Waiting until we feel good about God before we receive salvation is just another form of legalism. Salvation has already been accomplished (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is finished!

God Himself tells us to call upon His name (Psalm 105:1) for to call upon Him is to believe on Him and to believe on Him is to rest in Him. (Romans 10:13; Romans 4:24; Acts 16:31).

As we gossip the gospel, we don’t offer people a long list of duties to do, or feelings to be formed to make God think well of us. The gospel is not about our work; rather it is the good news of the work and person of the cross, apart from and outside of us in history. Our saving work, if you would like to call it that, is to believe on Him … the One who has accomplished salvation on our behalf. (John 6:29).

God has already brought His salvation near. God is not in hiding. He has declared Himself in the person and work of the Lord Jesus (John 1:18).

When faith activates, it causes us to cease working to earn God’s favour. Faith sees that, for favour, we do nothing other than rest on the fact that all has been already accomplished on behalf of the believer.

Faith, however, does not complete our salvation; rather it embraces the salvation that has already been accomplished. Faith embraces the fact that Jesus Christ alone has paid for us and rescued us at the cross. Faith sees that this work has been successfully finished (Matthew 1:21; John 19:30).

Again, we must stress that salvation is not a matter of Christ plus faith (Acts 4:12). We must continually stress this truth because it is on this very point that so many depart from the gospel. Such people are sincere, they call themselves Christians, but they are not in the gospel. They believe that their faith makes them acceptable to God. It’s a common error. Nevertheless, to believe in Christ plus faith for acceptance is to nullify the finished work.

So, let’s say it again, although we are saved through faith, faith is not our Saviour. Our Saviour is Jesus Christ plus nothing. (John 14:6)! He is the object of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2). He alone is our rescuer. What faith does is to take hold of Jesus and His accomplishments and makes them our own. Faith grasps that our saving righteousness is not in us, but outside of us in Christ Jesus.

Faith does not bring salvation into existence, nor does it produce the righteousness by which God justifies us. What faith does, however, is to take something that is already in existence and enables us to reckon it as being our own!

Some years ago an aging Christian lady lay dying in hospital. The new minister of a certain church came on visitation to the ward and mistakenly thought this dying lady was a member of his flock. Approaching her he said, “My dear lady, I’m here to absolve you of your sins,” to which the woman sternly replied, “Let me see your hands” “My hands?” questioned the astonished priest. Reluctantly the priest proffered his hands and the old lady examined them. At length she released them, looked at the man and said, “Sir I perceive you to be an impostor: the only man who can absolve me of my sins has nail scars in his hands.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

THE KISS OF RECONCILIATION

THE kiss is a token of enmity removed, of strife ended, and of peace established. You will remember that when Jacob met Esau, although the hearts of the brothers had been long estranged, and fear had dwelt in the breast of one, and revenge had kindled its fires in the heart of the other; when they met they were pacified towards each other, and they fell upon each other’s neck, and they kissed: it was the kiss of reconciliation. Now, the very first work of grace in the heart is, for Christ to give the sinner the kiss of His affection, to prove His reconciliation to the sinner. Thus the father kissed his prodigal son when he returned. Before the feast was spread, before the music and the dance began, the father fell upon his son’s neck, and kissed him. On our part, however, it is our business to return that kiss; and as Jesus gives the reconciling kiss on God’s behalf, it is ours to kiss the lip of Jesus, and to prove by that deed that we are “reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” Sinner, thou hast hitherto been an enemy of Christ’s Gospel. Thou hast hated His Sabbaths; thou hast neglected His Word; thou hast abhorred His commandments and cast His laws behind thy back; thou hast, as much as lieth in thee, opposed His kingdom; thou hast loved the wages of sin, and the ways of iniquity better than the ways of Christ. What sayest thou? Does the Spirit now strive in thy heart? Then, I beseech thee, yield to His gracious influence, and now let thy quarrel be at an end. Cast down the weapons of thy rebellion; pull out the plumes of pride from thy helmet, and cast away the sword of thy rebellion. Be His enemy no longer; for, rest assured, He wills to be thy friend. With arms outstretched, ready to receive thee, with eyes full of tears, weeping over thine obstinacy, and with bowels moved with compassion for thee, He speaks through me and He says, “Kiss the Son;” be reconciled.

This is the very message of the Gospel — “The ministry of reconciliation.” Thus speak we, as God hath commanded us. “We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” And is this a hard thing we ask of you, that you should be at friendship with Him who is your best friend? Is this a rigorous law, like the commands of Pharaoh to the children of Israel in Egypt, when He bids you simply shake hands with Him who shed His blood for sinners? We ask you not to be friends of death or hell; we beg you rather to dissolve your league with them; we pray that grace may lead you to forswear their company forever, and be at peace with Him who is incarnate love and infinite mercy. Sinners, why will ye resist Him who only longs to save you? Why scorn Him who loves you? Wily trample on the blood that bought you, and reject the Cross, which is the only hope of your salvation?

Man is utterly ruined and undone. He is lost in a wild waste wilderness. The skin bottle of his righteousness is all dried up, and there is not so much as a drop of water in it. The heavens refuse him rain, and the earth can yield him no moisture. Must he perish? He looks aloft, beneath, around, and he discovers no means of escape. Must he die? Must thirst devour him? Must he fall upon the desert and leave his bones to bleach under the hot sun? No; for the text declares there is a fountain of life. Ordained in old eternity by God in solemn covenant, this fountain, this divine well, takes its spring from the deep foundations of God’s decrees. It gusheth up from the depth which coucheth beneath, it cometh from that place which the eagle’s eye hath not seen, and which the lion’s whelp hath not passed over. The deep foundations of God’s government, the depths of His own essential goodness and of His divine nature — these are the mysterious springs from which gush forth that fountain of the “water of life” which shall do good to man. The Son hath digged this well, and bored through massive rocks which prevented this living water from springing upward. Using His Cross as the grand instrument He has pierced through rocks; He has Himself descended to the lowest depth, and He hath broken a passage by which the love and grace of God, the living water which can save the soul, may well up and overflow to quench the thirst of dying men. The Son hath bidden this fountain freely flow, hath removed the stone which laid upon the mouth thereof, and now having ascended on high He standeth there to see that the fountain shall never stay its life-giving course, that its floods shall never be dry, that its depths shall never be exhausted. This sacred fountain, established according to God’s good will and pleasure in the covenant, opened by Christ when he died upon the Cross, floweth this day to give life and health, and joy and peace to poor sinners dead in sin, and ruined by the fall. There is a “water of life.”

Pause awhile and look at its floods as they come gushing upwards, overflowing on every side, and assuaging men’s thirst. Let us look with joyous eye. It is called the “water of life,” and richly doth it deserve its name. God’s favor is life, and in His presence there is pleasure forevermore; but this water is God’s favor, and consequently life. By this water of life is intended God’s free grace, God’s love for men, so that if you come and drink, you shall find this to be life indeed to your soul, for in drinking of God’s grace, you inherit God’s love, you are reconciled to God. God stands in a fatherly relation to you, He loves you, and His great infinite heart yearns towards you.

Again, it is living water not simply because it is love, and that is life, but it saves from impending death. The sinner knows that he must die because he is unworthy. He has committed sins so tremendous that God must punish him. God must cease to be just if He does not punish the sins of man. Man when conscious that he has been very guilty stands shivering in the presence of his Maker, feeling in his soul that his doom is signed, and sealed, and that he must certainly be cast away from all hope, and life, and joy. Come hither, then, ye sin-doomed; this water can wash away your sins, and when your sins are washed away then shall ye live; for the innocent must not be punished. Here is water that can make you whiter than driven snow. What though you be black as Kedar’s smoky tents, here is water that can purge you, and wash you to the whiteness of perfection, and make you fair as the curtains of king Solomon. These waters well deserve the name of life, since pardon is a condition of life. Unpardoned we die, we perish, we sink into the depths of hell; pardoned we live, we rise, we ascend to the very heights of heaven. See here, then, this ever-gushing fountain will give to all who take thereof, life from the dead, by the pardon of their sins.

But,” saith one, “I have a longing within me which I cannot satisfy. I feel sure that if I be pardoned yet there is something which I want — which nothing I have ever heard of, or have ever seen or handled, can satisfy. I have within me an aching void which the world can never fill.” “There was a time,” says one, “when I was satisfied with the theater, when the amusements, the pleasures of men of the world, were very satisfactory to me. But lo! I have pressed this olive till it yields no more the generous oil; it is but the dreggy, thick excrement thereof that now I can obtain. My joys have faded; the beauty of my fat valley hath become as a faded flower. No longer can I rejoice in the music of this world.” Ah! Soul, glad am I that thy cistern has become dry, for till men are dissatisfied with this world they never look out for the next; till the God of this world has utterly deceived them they will not look to Him who is the only living and true God. But hearken! Thou that art wretched and miserable, here is living water that can quench thy thirst. Come hither and drink, and thou shalt be satisfied; for he that is a believer in Christ finds enough for him in Christ now, and enough forever. The believer is not the man who has to pace his room, saying, “I find no amusements and no delight.” He is not the man whose days are weary, and whose nights are long, for he finds in religion such a spring of joy, such a fountain of consolation, that he is content and happy. Put him in a dungeon and he will find good company; place him in a barren wilderness, still he would eat the bread of heaven; drive him away from friendship, he will find the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Blast all his gourds, and he will find shadow beneath the Rock of Ages; sap the foundation of his earthly hopes, but since the foundation of his God standeth sure, his heart will still be fixed, trusting in the Lord. There is such a fullness in religion, that I can honestly testify I never knew what happiness was till I knew Christ; I thought I did. I warmed my hands before the fire of sin, but it was a painted fire. But oh, when once I tasted the Savior’s love, and had been washed in Jesu’s blood, that was heaven begun below. Oh, if ye did but know the joys of religion, if ye did but know the sweetness of love to Christ, surely ye could not stand aloof! If ye could but catch a glimpse of the believer when he is dancing for joy, you would renounce your wildest mirth, your greatest joy, to become the meanest child in the family of God. Thus, then, it is the living water, it is the water of life, because it satisfies our thirst, and gives us the reality of life which we can never find in anything beneath the sky.

In the name of Almighty God, stand back everything that keeps the willing sinner from Christ. Away with you, away with you! Christ sprinkles His blood upon the way, and cries to you, “Vanish, begone, leave the road clear; let him come; stand not in his path; make straight before him his way, level the mountains and fill up the valleys; make straight through the wilderness a highway for him to come, to drink of this Water of Life freely.

Let him come.’ “ Oh, is not that a precious word of command, for it has all the might of Omnipotence in it! God said, “Let there be light: and there was light,” and He says, “Let him come,” and come he will and must, that is but willing to come. “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” And now, sinner, remember God says, “Come.” Is there anything in thy way? Remember, He adds, “Let him come.” He bids everything stand out of thy way.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘The Kiss of Reconciliation’

The Wednesday Word: Away with the ‘Hope So’

W. T. P. Wolston, one of the excellent Brethren (Gospel Hall) preachers of the 19th century, recounts the following story of talking to a lady after having preached the gospel. It is an excellent, helpful little piece. He writes,

“At the close of the evening gospel meeting, as I was standing near the door, I saw Mrs. H – leaving. Offering her a little tract, and at the same time expressing a wish that she might receive no harm on her way home from the rain, which was falling in torrents, she replied that she did not think she would, and further, that she was glad she had come, for she had much enjoyed the meeting.

As I had been speaking on the text “Be it known, therefore, unto you that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it” (Acts 28:28), I added, “I trust you now know the salvation of God and have eternal life.”

“I hope so,” was her reply, showing no desire to pass me.

“But why should you only ‘hope so’ when God wishes you to ‘ know so?’

“Well, sir, I believe in Jesus, and all I can say is I ‘ hope so’ and I don’t think anyone can ‘ know so’ as long as they are in this world.”

“If you will permit me,” I answered, “I will show you just one little verse in the Word of God which will settle that matter definitively.”

“You need not trouble yourself,” said she, “I know the Word of God well. Ever since I was a child I have studied it and I don’t believe there is a verse you can show me that I don’t know.”

“Just one, Mrs. H.”

“Well, where is it?” said she. Taking her large-print Bible from her hands, I found and read to her,

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW that ye HAVE eternal life… “ (1 John 5:13).

I read it a second time, and then said, “Do you believe on the name of the Son of God?”

“I do,” was the emphatic reply.

“Do you believe that you are a lost sinner needing salvation and that nothing but the blood-shedding of the Son of God could avail to put away your sins?”

“I do.”

“Do you repudiate all thought of salvation by your own works, confess that you are an undone, guilty, lost sinner, and now simply believe in the name of the Son of God?”

”I do,” was again the short and sincere answer I got.

“ Well, then, granting all that, have you eternal life?”

“ I hope so.”

“Oh,” was my reply, “I see it now; in the days when you went to school, they used to spell differently than they do now.”

“How so, sir?”

“ Why, K-N-O-W used to spell H-O-P-E in those days.”

“ Not at all, sir.”

“What did it spell?”

“Why, of course, it spelt KNOW the same then as now.”

“There is a mistake somewhere,” I replied, ” there must be, for you say you believe on the name of the Son of God, and He says, ‘These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life,’ and you stand there and tell me that you only hope you have it.”

“Let me see that verse myself,” said the old lady, suiting her actions to her words by diving her hand into her pocket, and taking out and adjusting her spectacles. Once and again she read slowly to herself, and then most emphatically out aloud, “ These things have I written unto you that BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD, that ye may KNOW that ye HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.”

The Spirit of God blessed her examination of the sacred message and filled her heart with peace as she believed it. “Hope so” died on the spot, and faith and amazement had full possession of her soul.

Looking up, she now added, “Well, is it not strange? For, often as I have read the Epistle of 1John, I never saw that verse. Of course, I must have read it for I am very fond of St John’s writings, but I never saw it in the light I do now. I am very glad you spoke to me sir and showed me that verse. Dear me, how dark I have been, and there it was all the time and so plain too; I wonder I never saw it before!”

“Well, thank God you see it now, and you believe it simply as it stands, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes, there’s no room left for doubting now; thank you for drawing my attention to the Lord’s Word.”

We had a little more conversation, and then, seeing that she was now resting simply on the Lord and His blessed written Word, I bade her “good-night.” I closed our conversation with this question, “And now, Mrs. H, if a friend meets you on your way home and asks, ‘Have you eternal life?’ what shall you say? “With a face now beaming with joy in the assurance of God’s salvation, she replied, “I should tell them that I KNOW I HAVE IT. I know because I believe on Jesus, and God has said, ‘These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.’ Good-night, and good-bye, sir.”

W. T. P. Wolston:

And that’s the Gospel Truth.

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The above is taken from my upcoming book, “The Everlasting Safety of the Believer.”

THE GREAT REMEDY

WE can learn nothing of the Gospel, except by feeling its truths — no one truth of the Gospel is ever truly known and really learned, until we have tested and tried and proved it, and its power has been exercised upon us. I have heard of a naturalist, who thought himself exceedingly wise with regard to the natural history of birds, and yet he had learned all he knew in his study, and had never so much as seen a bird either flying through the air or sitting upon its perch. He was but a fool, although he thought himself exceedingly wise. And there are some men who, like him, think themselves great theologians; they might even pretend to take a doctor’s degree in divinity; and yet, if we came to the root of the matter, and asked them whether they ever saw or felt any of these things of which they talked, they would have to say, “No; I know these things in the letter, but not in the spirit; I understand them as a matter of theory, but not as things of my own consciousness and experience.” Be assured, that as the naturalist who was merely the student of other men’s observations knew nothing, so the man who pretends to religion, but has never entered into the depths and power of its doctrines, or felt the influence of them upon his heart, knows nothing whatever, and all the knowledge he pretendeth to is but varnished ignorance. There are some sciences that may be learned by the head, but the science of Christ crucified can only be learned by the heart.

No man can know the greatness of sin till he has felt it, for there is no measuring-rod for sin, except its condemnation in our own conscience, when the law of God speaks to us with a terror that may be felt.

Some men imagine that the Gospel was devised, in some way or other, to soften down the harshness of God towards sin. Ah! How mistaken the idea! There is no more harsh condemnation of sin anywhere than in the Gospel.

The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” There lies the blackness; here stands the Lord Jesus Christ. What will He do with it? Will He go and speak to it, and say, “This is no great evil; this blackness is but a little spot”? Oh! No; He looks at it, and He says, “This is terrible blackness, darkness that may be felt; this is an exceeding great evil.” Will He cover it up, then? Will He weave a mantle of excuse and then wrap it round about the iniquity? Ah! No; whatever covering there may have been He lifts it off, and He declares that when the spirit of truth is come He will convince the world of sin, and lay the sinner’s conscience bare and probe the wound to the bottom. What then will He do? He will do a far better thing than make an excuse, or than to pretend in any way to speak lightly of it. He will cleanse it all away, remove it entirely by the power and meritorious virtue of His own blood.

Nor does the Gospel in any way whatever give man a hope that the claims of the law will be in any way loosened. Some imagine that under the old dispensation God demanded great things of man — that He did bind upon man heavy burdens that were grievous to be borne — and they suppose that Christ came into the world to put upon the shoulders of men a lighter law, something which it would be more easy for them to obey — a law which they can more readily keep, or which, if they break, would not come upon them with such terrible threatenings. Ah, not so. The Gospel came not into the world to soften down the law. Till heaven and earth shall pass away, not one jot and tittle of the law shall fail. What God hath said to the sinner in the law, He saith to the sinner in the Gospel. If He declareth that “the soul that sinneth it shall die,” the testimony of the Gospel is not contrary to the testimony of the law. If He declares that whosoever breaketh the sacred law shall most assuredly be punished, the Gospel also demands blood for blood, and eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, and doth not relax a solitary jot or tittle of its demands, but is as severe and as terribly just as even the law itself. Do you reply to this, that Christ has certainly softened down the law? I reply, that ye know not, then, the mission of Christ. That is no softening of the law. It is, as it were, the grinding of the edge of the terrible sword of Divine justice, to make it sharper far than it seemed before. Christ hath not put out the furnace; He rather seemeth to heat it seven times hotter. Before Christ came sin seemed unto me to be but little; but when He came sin became exceedingly sinful, and all its dread heinousness started out before the light.

But, says one, “Surely the Gospel does in some degree remove the greatness of our sin? Does it not soften the punishment of sin?” Ah! no. Moses says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die;” and his sermon is dread and terrible. He sits down. And now comes Jesus Christ, the man of a loving countenance. What says He with regard to the punishment of sin? Our Lord Jesus Christ was all love, but He was all honesty too. “Never man spake like this man,” when He came to speak of the punishment of the lost. What other prophet was the author of such dread expressions as these? — “He shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” — These shall go away into everlasting punishment;” or these — “Where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.” Stand at the feet of Jesus when He tells you of the punishment of sin, and the effect of iniquity, and you may tremble there far more than you would have done if Moses had been the preacher, and if Sinai had been in the background to conclude the sermon. No, the Gospel of Christ in no sense whatever helps to make sin less. The proclamation of Christ is the same as the utterance of Ezekiel of old — “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great.”

Our sins are great; every sin is great; but there are some that in our apprehension seem to be greater than others. There are crimes that the lip of modesty could not mention. I might go far in describing the degradation of human nature in the sins which it has invented. It is amazing how the ingenuity of man seems to have exhausted itself in inventing fresh crimes. Surely there is not the possibility of the invention of a new sin? But if there be, ere long man will invent it, for man seemeth exceedingly cunning, and full of wisdom in the discovery of means of destroying himself and the endeavor to injure his Maker. But there are some sins that show a diabolical extent of degraded ingenuity — some sins of which it were a shame to speak, of which it were disgraceful to think. But “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” There may be some sins of which a man cannot speak, but there is no sin which the blood of Christ cannot wash away. Blasphemy, however profane; lust, however bestial; covetousness, however far it may have gone into theft and rapine; breach of the commandments of God, however much of riot it may have run, all these may be pardoned and washed away through the blood of Jesus Christ. In all the long list of human sins, though that be long as time, there standeth but one sin that is unpardonable, and that one no sinner has committed if he feels within himself a longing for mercy; for that sin once committed, the soul becomes hardened, dead, and seared, and never desireth afterwards to find peace with God. I therefore declare to thee, Oh trembling sinner, that however great thine iniquity may be, whatever sin thou mayest have committed in all the list of guilt, however far thou mayest have exceeded all thy fellow-creatures, though thou mayest have distanced the Pauls and Magdalenes and everyone of the most heinous culprits in the black race of sin, yet the blood of Christ is able now to wash thy sin away. Mark! I speak not lightly of thy sin, it is exceedingly great; but I speak still more loftily of the blood of Christ. Great as are thy sins, the blood of Christ is greater still. Thy sins are like great mountains, but the blood of Christ is like Noah’s flood; twenty cubits upwards shall this blood prevail, and the top of the mountains of thy sin shall be covered.

Whatever I may not be, one thing I know I am — a sinner, guilty, consciously guilty, and often miserable on account of that guilt. Well, then, the Scripture says: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.”

And when thine eye of faith is dim,

Still trust in Jesus, sink or swim;

Thus, at His footstool, how the knee,

And Israels God thy peace shall be.

Let me put my entire trust in the bloody sacrifice which He offered on my behalf. No dependence will I have in my prayings, my doings, my feelings, my weepings, my preachings, my thinkings, my Bible readings, nor all that. I would desire to have good works, and yet in my good works I will not put a shadow of trust.

Nothing in my hands I bring,

Simply to Thy cross I cling.

And if there be any power in Christ to save I am saved; if there be an everlasting arm extended by Christ, and if that Savior who hung there was “God over all, blessed for ever,” and if His blood is still exhibited before the throne of God as the sacrifice for sin, then perish I cannot, till the throne of God shall break, and till the pillars of God’s justice shall crumble.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘The Great Remedy

CHRIST THE SON OF MAN

April 28, 2022 2 comments

HOW fond our Master was of the sweet title, the “Son of man!” If He had chosen, He might always have spoken of Himself as the Son of God, the Everlasting Father, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Prince of Peace. He hath a thousand gorgeous titles, resplendent as the throne of heaven; but He careth not to use them; to express His humility and let us see the lowliness of Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light, He calls not himself the Son of God, but He speaks of Himself evermore as the Son of man who came down from heaven. Let us learn a lesson of humility from our Savior; let us never court great titles nor proud degrees. What are they, after all, but beggarly distinctions whereby one worm is known from another? He that hath the most of them is a worm still, and is in nature no greater than his fellows. If Jesus called Himself the Son of man, when He had far greater names, let us learn to humble ourselves unto men of low estate, knowing that he that humbleth himself shall in due time be exalted.

Methinks, however, there is a sweeter thought than this in the name, Son of man. It seems to me that Christ loved manhood so much, that He always desired to honor it; and since it is a high honor, and indeed the greatest dignity of manhood, that Jesus Christ was the Son of man, He is wont to display this name, that He may, as it were, put rich stars upon the breast of manhood, and put a crown upon its head. Son of man — whenever He said that word He seemed to put a halo round the head of Adam’s children. Yet there is perhaps a more lovely thought still. Jesus Christ called Himself the Son of man, because He loved to be a man. It was a great stoop for Him to come from heaven and to be incarnate. It was a mighty stoop of condescension when He left the harps of angels and the songs of cherubims to mingle with the vulgar herd of His own creatures. But condescension though it was, He loved it. You will remember that when He became incarnate He did not become so in the dark. When He bringeth forth the only begotten into the world, He saith, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” It was told in heaven; it was not done as a dark secret which Jesus Christ would do in the night that none might know it; but all the angels of God were brought to witness the advent of a Savior a span long, sleeping upon a Virgin’s breast, and lying in a manger. And ever afterwards, and even now, he never blushed to confess that He was man; never looked back upon His incarnation with the slightest regret; but always regarded it with a joyous recollection, thinking Himself thrice happy that He had ever become the Son of man. All hail, thou blessed Jesus! We know how much Thou lovest our race; we can well understand the greatness of Thy mercy towards Thy chosen ones, inasmuch as Thou art evermore using the sweet name which acknowledges that they are bone of Thy bone and flesh of Thy flesh, and Thou art one of them, a brother and a near kinsman.

I will tell you the people whom Christ will save — they are those who are lost to themselves. Just imagine a ship at sea passing through a storm: the ship leaks, and the captain tells the passengers he fears they are lost. If they are far away from the shore, and have sprung a leak, they pump with all their might as long as they have any strength remaining; they seek to keep down the devouring element, they still think that they are not quite lost while they have power to use the pumps. At last they see the ship cannot be saved; they give it up for lost, and leap into the boats. The boats are floating for many a day, full of men who have but little food to eat. “They are lost,” we say, “lost out at sea.” But they do not think so; they still cherish a hope that perhaps some stray ship may pass that way and pick them up. There is a ship on the horizon; they strain their eyes to look at her; they lift each other up; they wave a flag; they rend their garments to make something which shall attract attention; but she passes away; black night comes, and they are forgotten. At length the very last mouthful of food has been consumed; strength fails them, and they lay down their oars in the boat, and lay themselves down to die. You can imagine then how well they understand the awful meaning of the term — “lost.” As long as they had any strength left they felt they were not lost; as long as they could see a sail they felt there was yet hope; while there was yet a moldy biscuit left, or a drop of water, they did not give up all for lost. Now the biscuit is gone, and the water is gone; now strength has departed, and the oar lies still: they lie down to die by each other’s side, mere skeletons; things that should have been dead days ago, if they had died when all enjoyment of life had ceased. Now they know, I say, what it is to be lost, and across the shoreless waters they seem to hear their death-knell pealing forth that awful word, Lost! Lost! Lost!

Now, in a spiritual sense, these are the people Christ came to save. Sinner, thou too art condemned. Our father Adam steered the ship awry and she split upon a rock, and she is filling even to her bulwarks now; and pump as philosophy may, it can never keep the waters of her depravity so low as to prevent the ship from sinking. Seeing that human nature is of itself lost, it hath taken to the boat. She is a fair boat, called the boat of Good Endeavor, and in her you are striving to row with all your might, to reach the shore; but your strength fails you. You say, “Oh, I cannot keep God’s law. The more I strive to keep it, the more I find it to be impossible for me to do so. I climb; but the higher I climb the higher is the top above me. When I was in the plains, I thought the mountain was but a moderate hill; but now I seem to have ascended half-way up its steeps, — there it is, higher than the clouds, and I cannot discern the summit.” However, you gather up your strength, you try again, you row once more, and at last, unable to do anything, you lay down your oars, feeling that if you are saved, it cannot be by your own works. Still you have a little hope left.

There are a few small pieces of moldy biscuit remaining. You have heard that by attention to certain ceremonies you may be saved, and you munch your dry biscuit; but at last that fails you, and you find that neither baptism, nor the Lord’s supper, nor any other outward rites, can make you clean, for the leprosy lies deep within. That done, you still look out. You are in hopes that there may be a sail coming, and while floating upon that deep of despair, you think you detect in the distance some new dogma, some fresh doctrine that may comfort you. It passes, however, like the wild phantom ship — it is gone, and you are left at last, with the burning sky of God’s vengeance above you, with the deep waters of a bottomless hell beneath you, fire in your heart and emptiness in that ship which once was so full of hope, you lie down despairing, and you cry, — “ Lord save me, or I perish!”

Is that your condition, my friend, or has that ever been your condition? If so, Christ came into the world to seek and to save you; and you He will save, and no one else. He will save only those who can claim this for their title, — “Lost;” who have understood in their own souls what it is to be lost, as to all self-trust, all self-reliance, and all self-hope.

I can look back to the time when I knew myself to be lost. I thought that God meant to destroy me. I imagined that because I felt myself to be lost, I was the special victim of Almighty vengeance; for I said unto the Lord, “Hast Thou set me as the target of all Thine arrows? Am I a sea or a whale, that Thou hast set a mark upon me? Hast thou sewed up mine iniquities in a bag, and sealed my transgressions with a seal? Wilt Thou never be gracious? Hast Thou made me to be the center of all sorrow, the chosen one of heaven to be cursed forever?” Ah! Fool that I was! I little knew then, that those who have the curse in themselves are the men whom God will bless — that we have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in Him who died for us and rose again.

Can you say that you are lost? Was there a time when you traveled with the caravan through this wild wilderness world? Have you left the caravan with your companions, and you are left in the midst of a sea of sand — a hopeless arid waste? And do you look around you, and see no helper; and do you cast your eyes around and see no trust? Is the death-bird wheeling in the sky, screaming with delight because he hopes soon to feed upon your flesh and bones? Is the water bottle dry, and doth the bread fail you? Have you consumed the last of your dry dates, and drunk the last of that brackish water from the bottle; and are you now without hope, without trust in yourself; ready to lie down in despair? Hark thee! The Lord thy God loveth thee; Jesus Christ has bought thee with His blood; thou art, thou shalt be His. He has been seeking thee all this time, and He has found thee at last, in the vast howling wilderness, and now He will take thee upon His shoulders and carry thee to His house rejoicing, and the angels shall be glad over thy salvation. Now, such people must and shall be saved; and this is the description of those whom Jesus Christ came to save. Whom He came to save He will save; you, ye lost ones — lost to all hope and self confidence, shall be saved. Though death and hell should stand in the way, Christ will perform His vow, and accomplish His design.

But for the most part Christ finds His people in His own house; but He finds them often in the worst of tempers, in the most hardened conditions; and He softens their hearts, awakens their consciences, subdues their pride and takes them to Himself; but never would they come to Him unless He came to them. Sheep go astray, but they do not come back again of themselves. Ask the shepherd whether his sheep come back, and he will tell you, “No, sir, they will wander, but they never return.” When you find a sheep that ever came back of itself, then you may hope to find a sinner who will come to Christ of himself. No; it must be sovereign grace that must seek the sinner and bring him home.

And when Christ seeks him He SAVES him. Having caught him at last, like the ram of old, in the thorns of conviction, He does not take a knife and slay him as the sinner expects, but He takes him by the hand of mercy and begins to comfort and to save. The Christ who seeks you today, and who has sought you many a day by His providence, will save you. He will first find you when you are emptied of self, and then He will save you. When you are stripped He will bring forth the best robe and put it on you. When you are dying He will breathe life in your nostrils. When you feel yourselves condemned He will come and blot out your iniquities like a cloud, and your transgressions like a thick cloud. Fear not, ye hopeless and helpless souls, Christ seeks you today, and seeking, He will save you — save you here, save you living, save you dying, save you in time, save you in eternity, and give you, even you, the lost ones, a portion among them that are sanctified.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘Christ the Son of Man’

WARNINGS TO CERTAIN SINNERS

CAIN was of the wicked one and slew his brother. “The way of Cain” is not hard to describe. He is too proud to offer atonement for his sin; he prefers his own way of sacrifice; he presents a bloodless oblation; he hates the obedience of faith; he smites the faithful Abel. See ye the way of Cain, and beware, Oh, proud self-righteous ones, lest ye run therein, for the steps are few from self-righteous pride to hatred of true believers, and murder is not far in advance. There is the seed of every infamy in the proud spirit of selfjustification, and it is a great mercy that it does not oftener show itself in all its terrific ripeness. Look ye, bold boasters of your own merits, at the mangled body of the first martyr, for this is the full-blown development of your rebellious self-conceit. From all pride and vain-glory, from all selfrighteousness and hatred of the cross of Christ, good Lord deliver us.

There are many persons whose brother’s blood cries to God from the ground. There is the seducer; he spake with honeyed words, and talked of love, but the poison of asps was under his tongue, for lust was in his heart. He came to a fair temple as a worshipper, but he committed infamous sacrilege, and left that to be the haunt of demons which once was the palace of purity. Such men are received into society; they are looked upon as gentlemen, while the fallen woman, the harlot-sister, she may hide herself beneath the shadow of night. None will make excuse for her sin; but the man, the criminal — he is called a respectable and reputable man — he may fill places of trust, and posts of honor, and there are none who point the finger of scorn at him. Sir, the voice of that poor fallen sister’s blood crieth to heaven against thee, and in the day of judgment her damnation shall be on thy skirts; all the infamy into which thou hast plunged her shall lie at thy door; and among the dreadful sights of hell, two eyes shall glare at thee through the murky darkness like the eyes of serpents, burning their way into thine inmost soul. “Thou didst deceive, and decoy me to the pit,” saith she; “thine arms dragged me down to hell, and here I lie to curse thee forever and ever as the author of my eternal ruin.”

Oh! there is one sinner who can look upon this in a solemn light! Who is it that has gone down to the pit? You man yonder — who is it that died but a few days ago? The woman who loved you as she loved her own soul; who idolized you; who thought you an angel. Shall I say it before God and to your face? — you ruined her. And what next, sir? You cast her off as though she were but dirt, and threw her into the kennel with a broken heart. And being there, her god having cast her off — for you were her god — she fell into despair, and despair led to dreadful consequences, and to direr ruin still. She has gone, and you are glad of it; glad of it, for you will hear no more of her now, you say. Sir, you shall hear of it; you shall hear of it; you shall hear of it! As long as you live her spirit shall haunt you; track you to the filthy joy which you have planned for a future day; and on your death-bed she shall be there to twist her fingers in your hair, to tear your soul out of your body, and drag it down to the hell appointed for such fiends as you; for you spilt her blood, the blood of her who trusted you — a fair, frail thing, worthy to be an angel’s sister, and you pulled her down, and made her a devil’s tool! God save you! For if He does not, your damnation shall be sevenfold. Oh! Thou son of Belial, what shall be thy doom when God dealeth with thee as thou deservest? Are these hot words? Not half so hot as I would make them. I would send them hissing into your souls if I were able; not so much to condemn you as with the hope that though you cannot make good the mischief you have done, you may yet turn from the error of your ways to seek a Savior’s blood, and find pardon for this great iniquity.

Then there are men who educate youth in sin. Satan’s captains and marshals; strong men with corrupt hearts, who are never better pleased than when they see the buds of evil swelling and ripening into crime. We have known some such; men of an evil eye, who not only loved sin themselves, but delighted in it in others; patted the boy on his back when he uttered his first oath; rewarded him when he committed his first theft. Satan has his Sunday-school teachers; hell has its missionaries who compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and make him tenfold more a child of hell than they are themselves. Most of our villages are cursed with one such wretch, and is there a street in London which is not the haunt of one such fiend, or more? Wretch, hast thou sought to entangle them in thy net? Hast thou, like the spider, thrown first one film about them and then another, till thou hast them safely in thy coils to drag them down to the den of Beelzebub? Then the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth from the ground, and at the judgment this shall be a witness which thou shalt not be able to confute, the witness of the blood of souls ruined by thy foul and evil training. Beware ye who hunt for the precious life!

Ay, and some base men who, if they see young converts, will take a pride in putting stumbling-blocks in their way. They no sooner discover that there is some little working of conscience, than they laugh, they sneer, they point the finger. How often have I seen this in the husband who seeks to prevent the wife’s attendance at the house of God; in the young man who jeers at his companion because he felt something of the power of religion! Is not this too frequent in our great establishments in London; where one young man kneels to pray and many are found to laugh at him and hurl some foul term at his head; not content to perish themselves. Like dogs pursuing a hart so will the wicked haunt the godly. Oh! You who are the enlisting-sergeants for the Black Prince of Darkness, you who seem never so happy as when you set traps for souls to inveigle them to destruction, solemnly do I warn you. Oh! Take the warning, lest God’s avenging angel, without warning, should soon overtake you with the dividing-sword which shall smite you even to the neck, and make you feel how terrible a thing it is to have tried to ruin the servants of the living God.

Then there is the infidel, the man who is not content to keep his sin in his own breast, but must needs publish his villainy; he ascends the platform and blasphemes the Almighty to his face; defies the Eternal; takes Scripture to make it the subject of unhallowed jest; and makes religion a theme for comedy. Take heed, sir, there will be a tragedy by-and-bye, in which you shall be the chief sufferer! What shall I say of those men who are more diligent by far than half God’s ministers are, whose names we see placarded on every wall, who will go from town to town, especially where in greatest numbers artisans are dwelling, and never seem content unless they are preaching against something that is pure, and lovely, and of good report; uttering things which would make your cheeks blanch if you heard them, and at the very reading of which the marrow of your bones might melt — dreadful things against the Most High, such as David heard when he said, “Horror hath taken hold of me because of the wicked that keep not thy law.” Should I address such, the voice of your brother’s blood crieth to Jehovah. The young men you have deluded, the working men you have led astray, the sinners whose lullaby you have sung, the souls you have poisoned with your foul draughts, the multitudes that you have deceived — all these shall stand up at the last, an exceeding great army, and pointing their fingers at you, shall demand your swift destruction, because you decoyed them to their doom.

And what shall I say of the unfaithful preacher; the slumbering watchman of souls, the man who swore at God’s altar that he was called of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word of God; the man upon whose lips men’s ears waited with attention while he stood like a priest at God’s altar to teach Israel God’s laws; the man who performed his duties half-asleep, in a dull and careless manner, until men slept too and thought religion but a dream? What shall I say of the minister of unholy life, whose corrupt practice out of the pulpit has made the most telling things in the pulpit to be of no avail, has blunted the edge of the sword of the Spirit, and turned the back of God’s army in the day of battle? Ay, what shall I say of the man who has amused his audience with pretty things when he ought to have roused their consciences, who has been rounding periods when he ought to have bean denouncing the judgment of God; who has been preaching a dead morality when he ought to have lifted Christ on high as Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness? What shall I say of those who have dwindled away their congregations, who have sown strife and schism in Churches of Christ once happy, peaceful, and prosperous? What shall I say of the men who, out of the pulpit, have made a jest of the most solemn things, whose life has been so devoid of holy passion and devout enthusiasm that men have thought truth to be a fiction, religion a stage play, prayer a nullity, the Spirit of God a phantom, and eternity a joke? Among all who will need eternal compassion, surely the unfaithful, unholy, unearnest minister of Christ will be the most pitiable! What did I say? Nay, rather the most contemptible, the most despicable, the most accursed! Surely, every thunderbolt shall make his brow its target, and every arrow of God shall seek his conscience as its mark. If I must perish, let me suffer anyhow but as a minister who has desecrated the pulpit by a slumbering style of ministry, by a want of passion for souls. How shall such men answer for it at the bar of God — the smooth things, the polite and honeyed words, the daubing of men with the untempered mortar of peace, peace, when they should have dealt with them honestly as in God’s name? Oh, sirs, if we never play the Boanerges, we shall hear God’s thunders in our ears, and that forever and ever, and cursed of men, and cursed of the Most High, shall we be without end. In Tophet we shall have this wail peculiar to ourselves, “We preached what we did not feel; we testified of what we did not know; men received not our witness, for we were hypocrites and deceivers, and now we go down, richly deserving it, to the very lowest depths of perdition.”

But the voice of your brother’s blood crieth to God from the ground, even though you be no infidel lecturer, though you have never been debauched, though you have taught no heresy, though you have spread no schism. If your life is unholy your brothers blood is on your skirts. “Oh,” saith one, “if I sin I sin to myself.” Impossible! As well might the miasma say, “I am deadly to myself alone;” as well might the cholera say “My deadly breath is for myself only.” Your example spreads; you, like the leper, leave uncleanliness on everything you touch. The very atmosphere which surrounds you breeds contagion. What others see you do, they learn to do.

Some may rival you, and exceed you, but if you taught them their letters, and they learn to read in hell’s book better than you, all that they learn afterwards will come to your door, because the elements of sin they learned from your practice. I am afraid many people never look at their transgressions in this light. Why, you cannot help being leaders and teachers. If in your own house you are a drunkard, your boys will be drunkards too! I have heard of a man who flogged his boy for swearing, swearing at him all the time he did it. We know instances of men who feel as if they would sooner bury their children than see them grow up such as they are themselves, but yet how can it be helped? Your practice must and will influence your children; nay, not your children only, but all with whom you come into connection in the mercantile world. Do not think, sir, if you are a great employer, that your men can know what your life is without being affected by that knowledge. There may be some among them who have an inward principle which will not yield to temptation, but I know of hardly anything more dangerous than for a number of operatives to come constantly into contact with one whom they look up to as a master, who is also a master of the arts of sin, and a doctor of damnation to their souls. Oh! take care, if not for yourselves yet for others, or else, as sure as you live, the voice of your brother’s blood will cry unto God from the ground.

What shall the cry be against open sinners and infidels? It would be an awful thing to pray for a man’s damnation; but there are some people I know of who while they live do so much mischief, that if they were dead, men would breath more freely. I know a village where there lives a man who contaminates half the population. There is a leer upon his face at which virtue blushes; there is a sneer at which even courage quails. He is a wretch so well taught and so deeply instructed in the highest science of iniquity, that wherever he may go he finds none a match for him, either in his reasoning or in the infamous conclusions which he draws; a man who is a deadly Upas-tree, dropping black poison upon all beneath his shadow. I did think once I would half pray that the man might die and go to his doom, but one must not; and yet, were he gone, the saints might say, “ ‘Tis well,” and as over Babylon when she is destroyed and the smoke of her torment goeth up forever, the saints will say “Hallelujah!” so have I thought that over these against whom the blood of many young people cries to God from the ground, when they go at last to their doom, men might almost say, “Hallelujah! For God hath judged the great sinner who did make the people of the earth drunk with the wine of his fornication.”

What shall we do to be rid of the past? Can tears of repentance do it? No. Can promises of amendment make a blank page where there are so many blots and blurs? Ah, no! Nothing that we can do can put away our sin. But may not the future atone? May not future zeal wipe out past carelessness? May not the endeavor of our life that is yet to come, make amends for the indolence or vice of the life that is past? No. The blood of our brethren has been shed, and we cannot gather it up. The mischief we have done is not to be retrieved! O God! Souls that are lost through us cannot be saved now; the gates of hell are so shut that they can never be opened. No restitution can we make. The redemption of the soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever; the sin is not to be washed away by repentance, nor retrieved by reformation. What then? Hopeless despair for everyone of us, were it not that there is another blood, the blood of One called Jesus, theft crieth from the ground too, and the voice of that blood is “Father, forgive them; Father, forgive them.” I hear a voice that says, “Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance,” like the voice of Jonah in Nineveh, enough to make every man clothe himself in sackcloth. But a sweeter and a louder cry comes up — “Mercy, mercy, mercy;” and the Father bows His head and says, “Whose blood is that?” and the voice replies, “It is the blood of Thine onlybegotten, shed on Calvary for sin.” The Father lays His thunders by, sheathes His sword, stretches out His hand, and crieth to you, the sons of men, “Come unto Me, and I will have mercy upon you; turn ye, turn ye; I will pour out My Spirit upon you and ye shall live.” “Repent and believe the Gospel.” Hate the sin that is past, and, trust in Jesus for the future. He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him; for the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, cleanseth us from all sin. Flee, sinner, flee! The avenger of the blood that thou hast shed pursues thee with hot haste; with feet that are winged, with a heart that is athirst for blood, he pursues thee. Run, man, run! The refuge city is before thee. It is there along the narrow way of faith. Fly, fly, for unless thou reach that city ere he overtake thee he shall smite thee, and one blow shall be thine everlasting ruin. For God’s sake do not loiter! Those flowers on the left-hand side — care not for them; thou wilt dye that field with thy blood if thou lingerest there! That ale-house on the right hand? Stay for none of these things, He comes! Hark to his footsteps on the hard highway! He comes, he comes, he comes now! Oh, that now thou mayest pass the portals of the refugecity! Trust the Son of God, and sin is forgiven, and you have entered into everlasting life.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘Warnings to Certain Sinners’

THE GOSPEL FEAST

THE plan of salvation is simply declared — “Whosoever believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.” For you who have violated all the precepts of God, and have disdained His mercy and dared His vengeance, there is yet mercy proclaimed, for “Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “For this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief;” “Whosoever cometh unto Him He will in no wise cast out, for He is able also to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Now all that God asks of you — and this He gives you — is that you will simply look at His bleeding Dying Son, and trust your souls in the hands of Him whose name alone can save from death and hell. Is it not a marvelous thing, that the proclamation of this gospel does not receive the unanimous consent of men? One would think that as soon as ever this was preached, “That whosoever believeth shall have eternal life,” everyone, “casting away every man his sins and his iniquities,” would lay hold on Jesus Christ, and look alone to His cross. But alas! Such is the desperate evil of our nature, such the pernicious depravity of our character, that this message is despised, the invitation to the Gospel feast is rejected, and there are many who are enemies of God by wicked works, enemies to the God who preaches Christ, enemies to Him who sent His Son to give His life a ransom for many. Strange, I say, it is that it should be so, yet nevertheless it is the fact, and hence the necessity for the command — “Compel them to come in.”

You are poor in circumstances, but this is no barrier to the kingdom of heaven, for God hath not exempted from His grace the man who shivers in rags, and who is destitute of bread. In fact, if there be any distinction made, the distinction is on your side, and for your benefit — “Unto you is the word of salvation sent;” “For the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.” You have no faith, you have no virtue, you have no good work, you have no grace, and what is poverty worse still, you have no hope. Come and welcome to the marriage feast of His love. “Whosoever will, let Him come and take of the waters of life freely.”

You are not only poor, but you are maimed. There was a time when you thought you could work out your own salvation without God’s help, when you could perform good works, attend to ceremonies, and get to heaven by yourselves; but now you are maimed, the sword of the law has cut off your hands, and now you can work no longer; you say, with bitter sorrow —

The best performance of my hands,

Dares not appear before Thy throne.

You have lost all power now to obey the law; you feel that when you would do good, evil is present with you. You are maimed; you have given up, as a forlorn hope, all attempt to save yourself, because you are maimed and your arms are gone. But you are worse off than that, for if you could not work your way to heaven, yet you could walk your way there along the road by faith; but you are maimed in the feet as well as in the hands; you feel that you cannot believe, that you cannot repent, that you cannot obey the stipulations of the Gospel. You feel that you are utterly undone, powerless in every respect to do anything that can be pleasing to God. Before you am I to lift up the blood-stained banner of the cross, “Whoso calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved;” and unto you I cry “Whosoever will let him come and take of the water of life freely.”

There is yet another class. You are halt. You are halting between two opinions. You are sometimes seriously inclined, and at another time worldly gaiety calls you away. What little progress you do make in religion is but a limp. You have a little strength, but that is so little that you make but painful progress. To you also is the word of this salvation sent. Though you halt between two opinions, the Master sends you this message: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If God be God, serve Him; if Baal be God, serve him.” Consider thy ways: set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live. Because I will do this, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel! Halt no longer, but: decide for God and His truth.

And yet I see another class, — the blind. Yes, you that cannot see yourselves, that think yourselves good when you are full of evil, that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, darkness for light and light for darkness. You, blind souls that cannot see your lost estate, that do not believe that sin is so exceedingly sinful as it is, and who will not be persuaded to think that God is a just and righteous God, to you am I sent. To you too that cannot see the Savior, that see no beauty in Him that you should desire Him; who see no excellence in virtue, no glories in religion, no happiness in serving God, no delight in being His children; to you, also, I speak. “Go into the highways and hedges.” Here we bring in all ranks and conditions of men — my lord upon his horse in the highway, and the woman trudging about her business, the thief waylaying the traveler — all these are in the highway, and they are all to be compelled to come in, and there away in the hedges there lie some poor souls whose refuges of lies are swept away, and who are seeking now to find some little shelter for their weary heads. This is the universal command — compel them to come in.

Well did Melanchthon say, “Old Adam is too strong for young Melanchthon.” As well might a little child seek to compel Sampson, as I seek to lead a sinner to the cross of Christ. Lo, I see the great mountain of human depravity and stolid indifference, but by faith I cry, “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.”

Unconverted, unreconciled, unregenerate men and women, I am to COMPEL YOU TO COME IN. Permit me first of all to accost you in the highways of sin and tell you over again my errand. The King of Heaven sends a gracious invitation to you. He says, “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto Me and live:” “Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson they shall be whiter than snow.” Permit me to tell you what the King has done for you. He knew your guilt, He foresaw that you would ruin yourself. He knew that His justice would demand your blood, and in order that this difficulty might be escaped, that His justice might have its full due, and that you might yet be saved, Jesus Christ hath died. Will you just for a moment glance at this picture. You see that man there on His knees in the garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood.

You see this next; you see that miserable sufferer tied to a pillar and lashed with terrible scourges, till the shoulder bones are seen like white islands in the midst of a sea of blood. Again you see this third picture; it is the same man hanging on the cross with hands extended, and with feet nailed fast, dying, groaning, bleeding; methought the picture spoke and said, “It is finished.” Now all this hath Jesus Christ of Nazareth done, in order that God might consistently with His justice pardon sin; and the message to you is this — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” That is, trust Him, renounce thy works, and thy ways, and set thine heart alone on this man, who gave Himself for sinners.

Do you turn away? You tell me it is nothing to you; you cannot listen to it; that you will hear me by-and-bye; but you will go your ways and attend to your farm and merchandise. Stop, I was not told merely to tell you and then go about my business. No; I am told to compel you to come in; and permit me to observe that there is one thing I can say — and to which God is my witness — that I am in earnest with you in my desire that you should comply with this command of God.

But do you spurn it? Do you still refuse it? Then I must change my tone a minute. I will not merely tell you the message, and invite you as I do with all earnestness, and sincere affection — I will go further. Sinner, in God’s name I command you to repent and believe. Do you ask me whence my authority? I am an ambassador of heaven. I command you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; not on my own authority, but on the authority of Him who said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;” and then annexed this solemn sanction, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

But do you turn away and say you will not be commanded? Then again will I change my note. Let me tell thee from my own soul what I know of Him. I, too, once despised Him. He knocked at the door of my heart and I refused to open it. He came to me, times without number, morning by morning, and night by night; He checked me in my conscience and spoke to me by His Spirit, and when, at last, the thunders of the law prevailed in my conscience, I thought that Christ was cruel and unkind. Oh, I can never forgive myself that I should have thought so ill of Him. But what a loving reception did I have when I went to Him. I thought He would smite me, but His hand was not clenched in anger but opened wide in mercy. I thought full sure that His eyes would dart lightning-flashes of wrath upon me; but, instead thereof, they were full of tears. He fell upon my neck and kissed me; He took off my rags and did clothe me with His righteousness, and caused my soul to sing aloud for joy; while in the house of my heart and in the house of His church there was music and dancing, because His son that He had lost was found, and he that was dead was made alive. I exhort you, then, to look to Jesus Christ and to be lightened. Sinner, you will never regret, — I will be bondsman for my Master that you will never regret it, — you will have no sigh to go back to your state of condemnation; you shall go out of Egypt and shall go into the Promised Land and shall find it flowing with milk and honey. The trials of Christian life you shall find heavy, but you will find grace will make them light. And as for the joys and delights of being a child of God, if I lie you shall charge me with it in days to come. If you will taste and see that the Lord is good, I am not afraid but that you shall find that He is not only good, but better than human lips ever can describe.

I know not what arguments to use with you. I appeal to your own self-interests. Would it not be better for you to be reconciled to the God of heaven than to be His enemy? What are you getting by opposing God? Are you the happier for being his enemy? Answer, pleasure seeker: hast thou found delights in that cup? Answer me, self-righteous man: hast thou found rest for the sole of thy foot in all thy works? Oh, thou that goest about to establish thine own righteousness, I charge thee let conscience speak. Hast thou found it to be a happy path? Ah, my friend, “Wherefore dost thou spend thy money for that which is not bread, and thy labor for that which satisfieth not; hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” I exhort you by everything that is sacred and solemn, everything that is important and eternal, flee for your lives, look not behind you, stay not in all the plain, stay not until you have proved, and found an interest in the blood of Jesus Christ, that blood which cleanseth us from all sin. Are you still cold and indifferent? Will not the blind man permit me to lead him to the feast? Will not the poor mart allow me to walk side-by-side with him? Must I use some stronger words. Must I use some other compulsion to compel you to come in? Ye, from the greyheaded down to the tender age of childhood, if ye lay not hold on Christ, your blood shall be on your own head. If there be power in man to bring his fellow (as there is when man is helped by the Holy Spirit), that power shall be exercised. I ENTREAT you, I entreat you stop and consider. Do you know what it is you are rejecting? You are rejecting Christ, your only Savior. “Other foundation can no man lay;” “There is none other name given among men whereby we must be saved.” I cannot bear that ye should do this, for I remember what you are forgetting: the day is coming when you will want a Savior. It is not long ere weary months shall have ended, and your strength begin to decline; your pulse shall fail you, your strength shall depart, and you and the grim monster — death, must face each other.

What will you do in the swelling of Jordan without a Savior? Death-beds are stony things without the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an awful thing to die anyhow; he that hath the best hope, and the most triumphant faith, finds that death is not a thing to laugh at. It is a terrible thing to pass from the seen to the unseen, from the mortal to the immortal, from time to eternity, and you will find it hard to go through the iron gates of death without the sweet wings of angels to conduct you to the portals of the skies. It will be a hard thing to die without Christ. I cannot help thinking of you. I see you acting the suicide and I picture myself standing at your bedside and hearing your cries, and knowing that you are dying without hope. I cannot bear that. I think I am standing by your coffin now, and looking into your clay-cold face, and saying, “This man despised Christ and neglected the great salvation.” I think what bitter tears I shall weep then, if I think that I have been unfaithful to you, and how those eyes fast closed in death, shall seem to chide me and say, “Minister, you were not in earnest with me; you amused me, you preached to me, but you did not plead with me. You did not know what Paul meant when he said, ‘As though God did beseech you by us we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’”

I picture myself standing at the bar of God. As the Lord liveth, the day of judgment is coming. You believe that? You are not an infidel; your conscience would not permit you to doubt the Scripture. Perhaps you may have pretended to do so, but you cannot. You feel there must be a day when God shall judge the world in righteousness. I see you standing in the midst of that throng, and the eye of God is fixed on you. It seems to you that He is not looking anywhere else, but only upon you, and He summons you before Him; and He reads your sins, and He cries, “Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire in hell!” I cannot bear to think of you in that position; it seems as if every hair on my head must stand on end to think of any being damned.

As I must stand before my Judge at last, I feel that I shall not make full proof of my ministry unless I entreat with many tears that ye would be saved, that ye would look unto Jesus Christ and receive His glorious salvation. But does not this avail? Are all our entreaties lost upon you; do you turn a deaf ear? Then again I change my note. Sinner, I have pleaded with you as a man pleadeth with his friend, and were it for my own life I could not speak more earnestly than I do speak concerning yours. And therefore, if ye put away these entreaties I have something else; — I must threaten you. You shall not always have such warnings as these. A day is coming, when hushed shall be the voice of every Gospel minister, at least for you; for your ear shall be cold in death. It shall not be anymore threatening; it shall be the fulfillment of the threatening. There shall be no promise, no proclamations of pardon and of mercy; no peace-speaking blood, but you shall be in the land where the preachings of the Gospel are forbidden because they would be unavailing. I charge you then, listen to this voice that now addresses your conscience; for if not, God shall speak to you in His wrath, and say unto you in His hot displeasure, “I called and ye refused; I stretched out My hand and no man regarded; therefore will I mock at your calamity; I will laugh when your fear cometh.” Sinner, I threaten you again. Remember, it is but a short time you may have to hear these warnings. Come, then, let the threatening have power with you. I do not threaten because I would alarm without cause, but in hopes that threatening may drive you to the place where God hath prepared the feast of the Gospel. Have I exhausted all that I can say? No, I will come to you again. Tell me what it is, that keeps you from Christ. I hear one say, “Oh, sir, it is because I feel myself too guilty.” That cannot be, my friend, that cannot be. “But, sir, I am the chief of sinners.” Friend, you are not. The chief of sinners died and went to heaven many years ago; his name was Saul of Tarsus, afterwards called Paul the apostle. He was the chief of sinners, I know he spoke the truth. “No,” but you say still, “I am too vile.” You cannot be viler than the chief of sinners. You must, at least, be second worst. Even supposing you are the worst now alive, you are second worst, for he was chief. But suppose you are the worst, is not that the very reason why you should come to Christ? The worse a man is, the more reason he should go to the hospital or physician. The more poor you are, the more reason you should accept the charity of another. Now, Christ does not want any merits of yours. He gives freely. The worse you are, the more welcome you are. But let me ask you a question: Do you think you will ever get better by stopping away from Christ? If so, you know very little as yet of the way of salvation at all. No, sir, the longer you stay the worse you will grow; your hope will grow weaker, your despair will become stronger; the nail with which Satan has fastened you down will be more firmly clenched, and you will be less hopeful than ever. Come, I beseech you, recollect there is nothing to be gained by delay, but by delay everything may be lost. “But,” cries another, “I feel I cannot believe.” No, my friend, and you never will believe if you look first at your believing. Remember, I am not to invite you to faith, but to invite you to Christ. But you say, “What is the difference?” Why, just this. If you first of all say, “I want to believe a thing,” you never do it. But your first inquiry must be, “What is this thing that I am to believe?” Then will faith come as the consequence of that search. Our first business has not to do with faith, but with Christ.

Come, I beseech you, on Calvary’s mount, and see the cross. Behold the Son of God, He who made the heavens and the earth, dying for your sins. Look to Him, is there not power in Him to save? Look at His face so full of pity. Is there not love in His heart to prove Him willing to save? Sure sinner, the sight of Christ will help thee to believe. Do not believe first, and then go to Christ, or else thy faith will be a worthless thing; go to Christ without any faith, and cast thyself upon Him, sink or swim. But I hear another cry, “Oh sir, you do not know how often I have been invited, how long I have rejected the Lord.” I do not know, and I do not want to know; all I know is that my Master has sent me, to compel you to come in; so come along with me now. You may have rejected a thousand invitations; don’t make this the thousandth-and-one. You have been up to the house of God, and you have only been Gospel-hardened.

I cannot let you go on such idle excuses as that; if you have lived so many years slighting Christ, there are so many reasons why now you should not slight him. But did I hear you whisper that this was not a convenient time? Then what must I say to you? When will that convenient time come? Shall it come when you are in hell? Will that time be convenient? Shall it come when you are on your dying bed, and the death-rattle is in your throat — shall it come then? Or when the burning sweat is scalding your brow; and then again, when the cold clammy sweat is there, shall those be convenient times? When pains are racking you, and you are on the borders of the tomb? Remember, I have no authority to ask you to come to Christ tomorrow. The invitation is, “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation,” for the Spirit saith “to-day.” “Come now and let us reason together;” why should you put it off? It may be the last warning you shall ever have. You may never have so earnest a discourse addressed to you. You may not be pleaded with as I would plead with you now. You may go away, and God may say, “He is given unto idols, let him alone.” He shall throw the reins upon your neck; and then, mark — your course is sure, but it is sure damnation and swift destruction.

Is it all in vain? Will you not now come to Christ? Then what more can I do? I have but one more resort, and that shall be tried. I can be permitted to weep for you; I can be allowed to pray for you. You shall scorn the address if you like; you shall laugh at the preacher; you shall call him fanatic if you will; he will not chide you, he will bring no accusation against you to the great Judge. Your offense, so far as he is concerned, is forgiven before it is committed; but you will remember that the message that you are rejecting is a message from One who loves you, and it is given to you also by the lips of one who loves you. You will recollect that you may play your soul away with the devil, that you may listlessly think it a matter of no importance; but there is at least one who is in earnest about your soul. I say again, when words fail us we can give tears — for words and tears are the arms with which Gospel ministers compel men to come in. I heard but the other day of a young man, and his father’s hope was that he would be brought to Christ. He became acquainted, however, with an infidel; and now he neglects his business, and lives in a daily course of sin. I saw his father’s poor wan face; I did not ask him to tell me the story himself, for I felt it was raking up a trouble and opening a sore; I fear, sometimes, that good man’s grey hairs may be brought with sorrow to the grave. Young men, you do not pray for yourselves, but your mothers wrestle for you.

You will not think of your own souls, but your father’s anxiety is exercised for you. I have been at prayer-meetings, when I have heard children of God pray there, and they could not have prayed with more earnestness and more intensity of anguish if they had been each of them seeking their own soul’s salvation. And is it not strange that we should be ready to move heaven and earth for your salvation, and that still you should have no thought for yourself, no regard to eternal things?

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘The Gospel Feast’

COMING TO CHRIST

COMING to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to express those acts of the soul wherein, leaving at once our self-righteousness, and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive His righteousness to be our covering, and His blood to be our atonement. Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-negation, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it sums within itself all those things which are the necessary attendants of these great states of heart, such as the belief of the truth, earnestness of prayer to God, the submission of the soul to the precepts of God’s gospel, and all those things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner’s salvation. He that cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may, is yet in “the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to Him and reposes in Him. Where there is not this corning to Christ, it is certain that there is as yet no quickening: where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” Wherein does this inability lie?

First, it does not lie in any physical defect. If in coming to Christ, moving the body or walking with the feet should be of any assistance, certainly man has all physical power to come to Christ in that sense. I remember to have heard a very foolish Antinomian declare, that he did not believe any man had the power to walk to the house of God unless the Father drew him. Now, the man was plainly foolish, because he must have seen that as long as a man was alive and had legs, it was as easy for him to walk to the house of God as to the house of Satan. If coming to Christ includes the utterance of a prayer, man has no physical defect in that respect; if he be not dumb, he can say a prayer as easily as he can utter blasphemy. It is as easy for a man to sing one of the songs of Zion as to sing a profane and libidinous song. There is no lack of physical power in coming to Christ. All that can be wanted with regard to the bodily strength man most assuredly has, and any part of salvation which consists in that is totally and entirely in the power of man without any assistance from the Spirit of God. Nor, again, does this inability lie in any mental lack. I can believe the Bible to be true just as easily as I can believe any other book to be true. So far as believing on Christ is an act of the mind, I am just as able to believe on Christ as I am able to believe on anybody else. Let his statement be but true, it is idle to tell me I cannot believe it. I can believe the statement that Christ makes as well as I can believe the statement of any other person.

There is no deficiency of faculty in the mind: it is as capable of appreciating as a mere mental act the guilt of sin, as it is of appreciating the guilt of assassination. It is just as possible for me to exercise the mental idea of seeking God, as it is to exercise the thought of ambition. I have all the mental strength and power that can possibly be needed, so far as mental power is needed in salvation at all. Nay, there is not any man so ignorant that he can plead a lack of intellect as an excuse for rejecting the Gospel. The defect, then, does not lie either in the body, or, what we are bound to call, speaking theologically, the mind. It is not any lack or deficiency there, although it is the vitiation of the mind, the corruption or the ruin of it, which, after all, is the very essence of man’s inability.

Through the fall, and through our own sin, the nature of man has become so debased, and depraved, and corrupt, that it is impossible for him to come to Christ without the assistance of God the Holy Spirit. Now, in trying to exhibit how the nature of man thus renders him unable to come to Christ, take this figure. You see a sheep; how willingly it feeds upon the herbage! You never knew a sheep sigh after carrion; it could not live on lion’s food. Now bring me a wolf; and you ask me whether a wolf cannot eat grass, whether it cannot be just as docile and as domesticated as the sheep. I answer, no; because its nature is contrary thereunto. You say, “Well, it has ears and legs; can it not hear the shepherd’s voice, and follow him whithersoever he leadeth it?” I answer, certainly; there is no physical cause why it cannot do so, but its nature forbids, and therefore I say it cannot do so. Can it not be tamed? Cannot its ferocity be removed? Probably it may so far be subdued that it may become apparently tame; but there will always be a marked distinction between it and the sheep, because there is a distinction in nature. Now, the reason why man cannot come to Christ, is not because he cannot come, so far as his body or his mere power of mind is concerned, but because his nature is so corrupt that he has neither the will nor the power to come to Christ unless drawn by the Spirit.

But let me give you a better illustration. You see a mother with her babe in her arms. You put a knife into her hand, and tell her to stab that babe to the heart. She replies, and very truthfully, “I cannot.” Now, so far as her bodily power is concerned, she can, if she pleases; there is the knife, and there is the child. The child cannot resist, and she has quite sufficient strength in her hand immediately to stab it to its heart. But she is quite correct when she says she cannot do it. As a mere act of the mind, it is quite possible she might think of such a thing as killing the child, and yet she says she cannot think of such a thing as killing the child; and she does not say falsely, for her nature as a mother forbids her doing a thing from which her soul revolts. Simply because she is that child’s parent she feels she cannot kill it.

It is even so with a sinner. Coming to Christ is so obnoxious to human nature that, although, so far as physical and mental forces are concerned (and these have but a very narrow sphere in salvation), men could come if they would: it is strictly correct to say that they cannot and will not unless the Father who hath sent Christ doth draw them.

Man is by nature blind within. The Cross of Christ, so laden with glories, and glittering with attractions, never attracts him, because he is blind and cannot see its beauties. Talk to him of the wonders of the creation, show to him the many-colored arch that spans the sky, let him behold the glories of a landscape, he is well able to see all these things; but talk to him of the wonders of the covenant of grace, speak to him of the security of the believer in Christ, tell him of the beauties of the Person of the Redeemer, he is quite deaf to all your description; you are as one that playeth a goodly tune, it is true; but he regards not, he is deaf, he has no comprehension. I ask, do you find your power equal to your will. You could say, even at the bar of God Himself, that you are sure you are not mistaken in your willingness; you are willing to be wrapt up in devotion, it is your will that your soul should not wander from a pure contemplation of the Lord Jesus Christ, but you find that you cannot do that, even when you are willing, without the help of the Spirit. Now, if the quickened child of God finds a spiritual inability, how much more the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sin? If even the advanced Christian, after thirty or forty years, finds himself sometimes willing and yet powerless — if such be his experience, — does it not seem more than likely that the poor sinner who has not yet believed, should find a need of strength as well as a want of will?

But, again, there is another argument. If the sinner has strength to come to Christ, I should like to know how we are to understand those continual descriptions of the sinner’s state which we meet with in God’s holy Word? Now, a sinner is said to be dead in trespasses and sins. Will you affirm that death implies nothing more than the absence of a will? “Surely a corpse is quite as unable as unwilling?” says one. “Well then, if I cannot save myself, and cannot come to Christ, I must sit still and do nothing.” If men do say so, on their own heads shall be their doom. There are many things you can do. To be found continually in the house of God is in your power; to study the Word of God with diligence is in your power; to renounce your outward sin, to forsake the vices in which you indulge, to make your life honest, sober, and righteous, is in your power. For this you need no help from the Holy Spirit; all this you can do yourself; but to come to Christ truly is not in your power, until you are renewed by the Holy Ghost. But mark you, your want of power is no excuse, seeing that you have no desire to come, and are living in willful rebellion against God. Your want of power lies mainly in the obstinacy of nature. Suppose a liar says that it is not in his power to speak the truth, that he has been a liar so long that he cannot leave it off; is that an excuse for him? Suppose a man who has long indulged in lust should tell you that he finds his lusts have so girt about him like a great iron net that he cannot get rid of them, would you take that as an excuse? Truly it is none at all. If a drunkard has become so foully a drunkard, that he finds it impossible to pass a public-house without stepping in, do you therefore excuse him? No, because his inability to reform lies in his nature, which he has no desire to restrain or conquer. The thing that is done, and the thing that causes the thing that is done, being both from the root of sin, are two evils which cannot excuse each other. What though the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots? It is because you have learned to do evil that you cannot now learn to do well; and instead, therefore, of letting you sit down to excuse yourselves, let me put a thunderbolt beneath the seat of your sloth, that you may be startled by it and aroused. Remember, that to sit still is to be damned to all eternity.

And, now, we gather up our ends, and conclude by trying to make a practical application of the doctrine; and we trust a comfortable one. “Well,” says one, “if what this man teaches be true, what is to become of my religion? For do you know, I have been a long while trying, and I do not like to hear you say a man cannot save himself. I believe he can, and I mean to persevere; but if I am to believe what you say, I must give it all up and begin again.” It will be a very happy thing if you do. Remember, what you are doing is building your house upon the sand, and it is but an act of charity if I can shake it a little for you. Let me assure you, in God’s name, if your religion has no better foundation than your own strength, it will not stand you at the bar of God. Nothing will last to eternity, but that which came from eternity. Unless the everlasting God has done a good work in your heart, all you may have done must be unraveled at the last day of account. It is all in vain for you to be a church-goer or chapel-goer, a good keeper of the Sabbath, an observer of your prayers: it is all in vain for you to be honest to your neighbors and reputable in your conversation; if you hope to be saved by these things, it is all in vain for you to trust in them.

Go on; be as honest as you like, keep the Sabbath perpetually, be as holy as you can. I would not dissuade you from these things. God forbid! Grow in them, but oh, do not trust in them, for if you rely upon these things you will find they will fail you when most you need them. And if there be anything else that you have found yourself able to do unassisted by divine grace, the sooner you can get rid of the hope that has been engendered by it the better for you, for it is a foul delusion to rely upon anything that flesh can do. A spiritual heaven must be inhabited by spiritual men, and preparation for it must be wrought by the Spirit of God.

Well,” cries another, “I have been sitting under a ministry where I have been told that I could, at my own option, repent and believe, and the consequence is that I have been putting it off from day to day. I thought I could come one day as well as another; that I had only to say, ‘Lord, have mercy upon me,’ and believe, and then I should be saved. Now you have taken all this hope away for me. I feel amazement and horror taking hold upon me.” I am very glad of it. This was the effect which I hoped to produce. I pray that you may feel this a great deal more. When you have no hope of saving yourself, I shall have hope that God has begun to save you. As soon as you say, “Oh, I cannot come to Christ. Lord, draw me, help me,” I shall rejoice over you. He who has got a will, though he has not power, has grace begun in his heart, and God will not leave him until the work is finished. But, careless sinner, learn that thy salvation now hangs in God’s hand. Oh, remember thou art entirely in the hand of God! Thou hast sinned against Him, and if He wills to damn thee, damned thou art. Thou canst not resist His will nor thwart His purpose. Thou has deserved His wrath, and if He chooses to pour the full shower of that wrath upon thy head, thou canst do nothing to avert it.

If, on the other hand, He chooses to save thee, He is able to save thee to the very uttermost. But thou liest as much in His hand as the summer’s moth beneath thine own finger. He is the God whom thou art grieving everyday. Doth it not make thee tremble to think that thy eternal destiny now hangs upon the will of Him whom thou hast angered and incensed? Dost not this make thy knees knock together, and thy blood curdle? If it does so, I rejoice, inasmuch as this may be the first effect of the Spirit’s drawing in thy soul. Oh, tremble to think that the God whom thou hast angered, is the God upon whom thy salvation or thy condemnation entirely depends! Tremble, and “kiss the Son lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way while His wrath is kindled but a little.”

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘Coming to Christ’

THE COURSE OF THE WICKED

IT is quite certain that there are immense benefits attending our present mode of burial in extra mural cemeteries. It was high time that the dead should be removed from the midst of the living — that we should not worship in the midst of corpses, and sit in the Lord’s house on the Sabbath, breathing the noxious effluvia of decaying bodies. But when we have said this, we must remember that there are some advantages which we have lost by the removal of the dead, and more especially by the wholesale mode of burial which now seems very likely to become general. We are not so often met by the array of dead. In the midst of our crowded cities we sometimes see the sable hearse bearing the relics of men to their last homes, but the funeral ceremonies are now mostly confined to those sweet sleeping places beyond our walks, where rest the bodies of those who are very dear to us.

Now, I believe the sight of a funeral is a very healthful thing for the soul. Whatever harm may come to the body by walking through the vault and the catacomb, the soul can there find much food for contemplation, and much excitement for thought. In the great villages, where some of us were wont to dwell, we remember how, when the funeral came. Now and then, the tolling of the bell preached to all the villagers a better sermon than they had heard in the church for many a day; and we recollect how, as children, we used to cluster around the grave, and look at that which was not so frequent an occurrence in the midst of a rare and spare population; and we remember the solemn thoughts which used to arise even in our young hearts when we heard the words uttered, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The solemn falling of the few grains of ashes upon the coffin-lid was the sowing of good seed in our hearts. And afterwards, when we have in our childish play climbed over those nettle-bound graves, and seated ourselves upon those moss-grown tombstones, we have had many a lesson preached to us by the dull, cold tongue of death, more eloquent than aught we have heard from the lip of living man, and more likely to abide with us in after years; but now we see little of death. We have fulfilled Abraham’s wish beyond what he desired — we “bury the dead out of our sight;” it is rarely that we see them, and a stranger passing through our streets might say, “Do these live always? For I see no funerals amongst the millions of this city; I see no signs of death.”

Shall we just take the wicked man’s arm and walk with him to the house of God? When he begins to go, if he be one who has neglected going in his childhood, which perhaps is not extremely likely; when he begins to go even in his childhood, or whenever you choose to mention, you will notice that he is not often affected by the sound of the ministry. He goes up to the chapel with flippancy and mirth. He goeth to it as he would to a theater or any other place of amusement, as a means of passing away his Sabbath and killing time. Merrily he trippeth in there; but I have seen the wicked man when he went away look far differently from what he did when he entered.

His plumes had been trailed in the dust. As he walks home there is no more flippancy and lightness, for he says, “Surely the Lord God has been in that place and I have been compelled to tremble. I went to scoff, but I was obliged, in coming away, to confess that there is a power in religion, and the services of God’s house are not all dullness after all.” Perhaps you have hoped good of this man. But, alas! He forgot it all, and cast away all his impressions. And he came again the next Sunday, and that time he felt again. Again the arrow of the Lord seemed to stick fast in his heart. But, alas! It was like the rushing of water. There was a mark for a moment, but his heart was soon healed, he felt not the blow; and as for persuading him to salvation, he was like the deaf adder: “charm we never so wisely,” he would not regard us so as to turn from his ways. And I have seen him come and go till years have rolled over his head, and he has still filled his seat, and the minister is still preaching, but in his case preaching in vain.

Still are the tears of mercy flowing for him; still are the thunders of justice launched against him; but he abideth just as he was. In him there is no change except this, that now he groweth hard and callous. You do not now hear him say that he trembles under the Word — not he. He is like a horse that hath been in the battle, he feareth not the noise of the drum nor the rolling of the smoke, and careth not for the din of the cannon. He cometh up, he heareth a faithful warning, and he saith, “What of it? This is for the wicked.” He heareth an affectionate invitation, and he saith, “Go thy way, when I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” And so he comes and goes up to the house of God and back again. Like the door upon its hinges he turns into the sanctuary today, and out of it tomorrow.

He comes and goes from the place of the holy.” It may be, however, he goes even further. Almost persuaded to be a Christian by some sermon from a Paul, he trembles at his feet. He thinks he really repents; he unites himself with the Christian Church: he makes a profession of religion; but, alas! His heart has never been changed. The sow is washed, but it is the sow still. The dog has been driven from its vomit, but its doggish nature is there the same. The Ethiopian is clothed in a white garment, but he hath not changed his skin. The leopard hath been covered all over, but he hath not washed his spots away. He is the same as ever he was. He goes to the baptismal pool a black sinner, and he comes out of it the same. He goes to the table of the Lord a deceiver; he eats the bread and drinks the wine, and he returns the same. Sacrament after Sacrament passes away. The Holy Eucharist is broken in his presence; he receives it, but he comes and he goes, for he receives it not in the love of it. He is a stranger to vital godliness, and as a wicked man “he comes and he goes from the place of the holy.”

But is it not a marvelous thing that men should be able to do this? I have sometimes heard a preacher so earnestly put the matter of salvation before men, that I have said, “Surely they must see this.” I have heard him plead as though he pleaded for his own life, and I have said, “Surely they must feel this.” And I have turned round, and I have seen the handkerchief used to brush away the tear, and I have said, “Good must follow this.” You have brought your own friends under the sound of the Word, and you have prayed the whole sermon through that the arrow may reach the white and penetrate the center of the mark, and you said to yourself, “What an appropriate discourse.” Still you kept on praying, and you were pleased to see that there was some emotion. You said, “Oh, it will touch his heart at last!” But is it not strange that, though wooed by love divine, man will not melt; though thundered at by Sinai’s own terrific thunderbolts, they will not tremble; yea, though Christ Himself incarnate in the flesh should preach again, yet would they not regard Him, and mayhap would treat Him today as their parents did but yesterday, when they dragged Him out of the city and would have cast Him headlong from the summit of the mount on which the city was built. I have seen the wicked come and go from the place of the holy till his conscience was seared, as with a hot iron. I have seen him come and go from the place of the holy till he had become harder than the nether millstone, till he was past feeling, given up “to work all manner of uncleanness with greediness.”

But now we are going to change our journey. Instead of going to the house of God we will go another way. I have seen the wicked go to the place of the holy, that is to the judgment bench. We have had glaring instances even in the criminal calendar of men who have been seen sitting on a judgment bench one day, and in a short time they have been standing at the dock themselves. I have wondered what must be the peculiar feelings of a man who officiates as a judge, knowing that he who judges has been a lawbreaker himself. A wicked man, a greedy, lustful, drunken man — you know such are to be discovered among petty magistrates. We have known these sit and condemn the drunkard, when, had the world known how they went to bed the night before, they would have said of them, “Thou that judgest another doest the same things thyself.” There have been instances known of men who have condemned a poor wretch for shooting a rabbit or stealing a few pheasants’ eggs or some enormous crime like that, and they themselves have been robbing the coffers of the bank, embezzling funds to an immense extent, and cheating everybody. How singular they must feel! One would think it must be a very strange emotion that passes over a man when he executes the law upon one which he knows ought to be executed upon himself. And yet, I have seen the wicked come and go from the holy place, until he came to think that his sins were no sins, that the poor must be severely upbraided for their iniquities, that what he called the lower classes must be kept in check, not thinking that there are none so low as those who condemn others whilst they do the same things themselves; speaking about checks and barriers, when neither check nor barrier were of any use to himself; talking of curbing others and of judging righteous judgment, when had righteous judgment been carried out to the letter, he would himself have been the prisoner, and not have been honored with a commission from Government.

I may have seen the wicked man buried in a quiet way. He is taken quietly to his tomb with as little pomp as possible, and he is with all decency and solemnity interred in the grave. And now listen to the minister. If he is a man of God, when he buries such a man as he ought to be buried, you do not hear a solitary word about the character of the deceased; you hear nothing at all about any hopes of everlasting life. He is put into his grave.

The minister well remembers how he did “come and go from the place of the holy;” he recollects full well how he used to sit in the gallery and listen to his discourse. And there is one who weeps; and the minister stands there and weeps, too, to think how all his labor has been lost, and one of his hearers has been destroyed, and that without hope. But note how cautiously he speaks, even to the wife. He would give her all the hope he could, poor widow as she is, and he speaks very gently. She says, “I hope my husband is in heaven.” He holds his tongue; he is very silent; if he is of a sympathetic nature he will be quiet. And when he speaks about the deceased in his next Sunday’s sermon, if he mentions him at all, he refers to him as a doubtful case; he uses him rather as a beacon than as an example, and bids other men beware how they presume to waste their opportunities, and let the golden hours of their Sabbath-day roll by disregarded. “I have seen the wicked buried who have come and gone from the place of the holy.” As for the pompous funeral, that was ludicrous. A man might almost laugh to see the folly of honoring the man who deserved to be dishonored, but as for the still and silent and truthful funeral, how sad it is! But after all, we ought to judge ourselves very much in the light of our funerals. That is the way we judge other things. Look at your fields tomorrow. There is a flaunting poppy, and there by the hedge-rows are many flowers hat lift their heads to the sun. Judging them by their leaf, you might prefer them to the sober colored wheat. But wait until the funeral, when the poppy shall be gathered and the weeds shall be bound up in a bundle to be burned — gathered into a heap in the field to be consumed, to be made into manure for the soil. But see the funeral of the wheat. What a magnificent funeral has the wheat-sheaf. “Harvest home!” is shouted as it is carried to the garner, for it is a precious thing. Even so let each of us so live, as considering that we must die. Oh, I would desire to live that when I leave this mortal state, men may say, “There is one gone who sought to make the world better! However rough his efforts might have been, he was an honest man; he sought to serve God, and there lies he who feared not the face of man.” I would have every Christian seek to win such a funeral as this — a funeral like Stephen’s: “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.”

Every man likes to live a little longer than his life — Englishmen especially — for there is scarcely to be found a rock in all England up which even a goat might scarcely climb, where there may not be discovered the initials of the names of men, who never had any other mode of attaining to fame, and therefore thought they would inscribe their names there. Go where you will, you find men attempting to be known; and this is the reason why many people write in newspapers, else they never would be known. A hundred little inventions we all of us have for keeping our names going after we are dead. But with the wicked man it is all in vain; he shall be forgotten. He has done nothing to make anybody remember him. Ask the poor: “Do you remember So-and-so?” “Hard master, sir, very. He always cut us down to the last sixpence; and we do not wish to recollect him.” Their children will not hear his name; they will forget him entirely. Ask the church, “Do you remember So-and-so? He was a member.” “Well,” says one, “I remember him certainly, his name was on the books, but we never had his heart. He used to come and go, but I never could talk with him.

There was nothing spiritual in him. There was a great deal of sounding bell-metal and brass, but no gold. I never could discover that he had the ‘root of the matter’ in him.” No one thinks of him, and he will soon be forgotten. The chapel grows old, there comes up another congregation, and somehow or other they talk about the old deacons who used to be there, who were good and holy men, and about the old lady who used to be so eminently useful in visiting the sick; about the young man who rose out of that church, who was so useful in the cause of God; but you never hear mention made of his name; he is quite forgotten. When he died his name was struck out of the books; he was reported as being dead, and all remembrance of him died with him. I have often noticed how soon wicked things die when the man dies who originated them. Look at Voltaire’s philosophy; with all the noise it made in his time — where is it now? There is just a little of it lingering, but it seems to have gone. And there was Tom Paine, who did his best to write his name in letters of damnation, and one would think he might have been remembered. But who cares for him now? Except amongst a few, here and there, his name has passed away. And all the names of error, and heresy, and schism, where do they go? You hear about St. Austin to this day, but you never hear about the heretics he attacked. Everybody knows about Athanasius, and how he stood up for the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; but we have almost forgotten the life of Arius, and scarcely ever think of those men who aided and abetted him in his folly. Bad men die out quickly, for the world feels it is a good thing to be rid of them; they are not worth remembering.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Warning for Daily Life, ‘The Course of the Wicked’