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The gospel makes some men in this world more miserable than they would be

CharlesSpurgeoniii. Yet, once more. I believe the gospel makes some men in this world more miserable than they would be. The drunkard could drink, and could revel in his intoxication with greater joy, if he did not hear it said, “All drunkards shall have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” How jovially the Sabbath breaker would riot through his Sabbaths, if the Bible did not say, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy!” And how happily could the libertine and licentious man drive on his mad career, if he were not told, “The wages of sin is death, and after death the judgment!” But the truth puts the bitter in his cup; the warnings of God freeze the current of his soul. The gospel is like the skeleton at the Egyptian feast. Though by day he laughed at it, by night he will quiver as the aspen leaf, and when the shades of evening gather around him, he will shake at a whisper. At the thought of a future state his joy is spoiled, and immortality, instead of being a boon to him, is in its very contemplation the misery of his existence. The sweet wooings of mercy are to him no more harmonious than peals of thunder, because he knows he despises them.

Yea I have known some who have been in such misery under the gospel, because they would not give up their sins, that they have been reedy to take their own lives. Oh! Terrible thought! The gospel is “a savor of death unto death.” Unto how many here is it so? Who are now hearing God’s Word to be damned by it? Who shall retire hence to be hardened by the sound of the truth? Why, every man who does not believe it, for unto those that receive it, it is “a savor of life unto life,” but to unbelievers it is a curse, and “a savor of death unto death.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855; at Exeter Hall Strand.

The gospel of Jesus Christ will increase some men’s damnation at the last great day

Spurgeon 3ii. But another. It is a fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ will increase some men’s damnation at the last great day. Again, I startle at myself when I have said it; for it seems too horrible a thought for us to venture to utter-that the gospel of Christ will make hell hotter to some men than it otherwise would have been. Men would all have sunk to hell had it not been for the gospel. The grace of God reclaims “a multitude that no man can number;” it secures a countless army who shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation;” but, at the same time, it does to those who reject it, make their damnation even more dreadful. And let me tell you why.

First, because men sin against greater light; and the light we have is an excellent measure of our guilt. What a Hottentot might do without a crime, would be the greatest sin to me, because I am taught better; and what some even in London might do with impunity-set down, as it might be, as a sin by God, but not so exceeding sinful-would be to me the very height of transgression, because I have from my youth up been tutored to piety. The gospel comes upon men like the light from heaven. What a wanderer must he be who strays in the light! If he who is blind falls into the ditch we can pity him, but if a man, with the light on his eyeballs dashes himself from the precipice and loses his own soul, is not pity out of the question?

How they deserve the deepest hell,

That slight the joys above!

What chains of vengeance must they feel,

Who laugh at sov’reign love!”

It will increase your condemnation, I tell you all, unless you find Jesus Christ to be your Savior, for to have had the light and not to walk by it, shall be the condemnation, the very essence of it. This shall be the virus of the guilt-that the “light came into the world, and the darkness comprehended it not;” for “men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.”

Again: it must increase your condemnation if you oppose the gospel. If God devises a scheme of mercy, and man rises up against it, how great must be his sin? Who shall tell the great guilt incurred by such men as Pilate, Herod, and the Jews? Oh! Who shall picture out, or even faintly sketch, the doom of those who cried “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And who shall tell what place in hell shall be hot enough for the man who slanders God’s minister, who speaks against his people, who hates his truth, who would, if he could, utterly cut off the godly from the land? Ah! God help the infidel! God help the blasphemer! God save his soul: for of all men least would I choose to be that man. Think you, sirs, that God will not take account of what men have said? One man has cursed Christ; he has called him a charlatan Another has declared, (knowing that he spoke a lie) that the gospel was else. A third has proclaimed his licentious maxims, and then has pointed to God’s Word, and said, “There are worse things there!” A fourth has abused God’s ministers and held up their imperfections to ridicule. Think you God shall forget all this at the last day? When his enemies come before him, shall he take them by the hand and say, “The other day thou didst call my servant a dog, and spit on him, and for this I will give thee heaven!” Rather, if the sin has not been cancelled by the blood of Christ, will he not say, “Depart, cursed one, into the hell which thou didst scoff at; leave that heaven which thou didst despise; and learn that though thou saidst there was no God, this right arm shall teach thee eternally the lesson that there is one; for he who discovers it not by my works of benevolence shall learn it by my deeds of vengeance: therefore depart, again, I say!” It shall increase men’s hell that they have opposed God’s truth. Now, is not this a very solemn view of the gospel, that it is indeed to many “a savor of death unto death?”

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855; at Exeter Hall Strand.

Many men are hardened in their sins by hearing the gospel

Spurgeoni. And the first sense is this. Many men are hardened in their sins by hearing the gospel. Oh! ‘tis terribly and solemnly true, that of all sinners some sanctuary sinners are the worst. Those who can dive deepest into sin, and have the most quiet consciences and hardest hearts, are some who are to be found in God’s own house. I know that a faithful ministry will often prick them, and the stern denunciations of a Boanerges will frequently make them shake. I am aware that the Word of God will sometimes make their blood curdle within them; but I know (for I have seen the men) that there are many who turn the grace of God into licentiousness, make even God’s truth a stalking-horse for the devil, and abuse God’s grace to pallate their sin. Such men have I found amongst those who hear the doctrines of grace in their fullness. They will say, “I am elect, therefore I may swear; I am one of those who were chosen of God before the foundation of the world, and therefore I may live as I list.” I have seen the man who stood upon the table of a public house, and grasping the glass in his hand, said, “Mates! I can say more than any of you; I am one of those who are redeemed with Jesus’ precious blood:” and then he drank his tumbler of ale and danced again before them, and sang vile and blasphemous songs. Now, that is a man to whom the gospel is “a savor of death unto death.” He hears the truth, but he perverts it; he takes what is intended by God for his good, and what does he do, he commits suicide therewith. That knife which was given him to open the secrets of the gospel he drives into his own heart. That which is the purest of all truth and the highest of all morality, he turns into the panderer of his vice, and makes it a scaffold to aid in building up his wickedness and sin. Are there any of you here like that man-who love to hear the gospel, as ye all it, and yet live impurely? Who can sit down and say you are the children of God, and still behave like liege servants of the devil? Be it known unto you, that ye are liars and hypocrites, for the truth is not in you at all. “If any man is born of God, he cannot sin.” God’s elect will not be suffered to fall into continual sin; they will never “turn the grace of God into licentiousness;” but it will be their endeavor, as much as in them lies, to keep near to Jesus. Rest assured of this: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” “A good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit; neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.” Such men, however, are continually turning the gospel into evil. They sin with a high hand, from the very fact that they have heard what they consider excuses their vice. There is nothing under heaven, I conceive, more liable to lead men astray than a perverted gospel. A truth perverted is generally worse than a doctrine which all know to be false. As fire, one of the most useful of the elements, can also cause the fiercest of conflagrations, so the gospel, the best thing we have, can be turned to the vilest account. This is one sense in which it is “a savor of death unto death.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855; at Exeter Hall Strand.

The gospel is to some men “a savor of death unto death”

Spurgeon1. The gospel is to some men “a savor of death unto death.” Now, this depends very much upon what the gospel is; because there are some things called gospel that are “a savor of death unto death” to everybody that hears them. John Berridge says he preached morality till there was not a moral man left in the village; and there is no way of injuring morality like legal preaching. The preaching of good works, and the exhorting men to holiness, as the means of salvation, is very much admired in theory; but when brought into practice, it is found not only ineffectual, but more than that-it becomes even “a savor of death unto death.” So it has been found; and I think even the great Chalmers himself confessed, that for years and years before he knew the Lord, he preached nothing but morality and precepts, but he never found a drunkard reclaimed by strewing him merely the evils of drunkenness; nor did he find a swearer stop his swearing because he told him the heinousness of the sin; it was not until he began to preach the love of Jesus, in his great heart of mercy-it was not until he preached the gospel as it was in Christ, in some of its clearness, fullness, and power, and the doctrine, that “by grace ye are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” that he ever met with success. But when he did preach salvation by faith, by shoals the drunkards came from their cups, and swearers refrained their lips from evil speaking; thieves became honest men, and unrighteous and ungodly persons bowed to the scepter of Jesus. But ye must confess, as I said before, that though the gospel does in the main produce the best effect upon almost all who hear it either by restraining them from sin, or constraining them to Christ; yet it is a great fact, and a solemn one, upon which I hardly know how to speak this morning, that to some men the preaching of Christ’s gospel is “death unto death,” and produces evil instead of good.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855; at Exeter Hall Strand.

We are now required to consider how that in them God maintained the claims of His righteousness by what He required from the responsible agents

Arthur PinkLet it now be pointed out that in this chapter we are turning to another side of the subject from what we have mainly dwelt upon in the previous ones. In those we amplified what we said in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the second chapter. Having dwelt so largely upon the divine sovereignty and grace aspects, we need to weigh carefully the divine righteousness and human responsibility elements. Having shown how the various covenants which God made with men adumbrated the central features in the everlasting covenant which He made with Christ, we are now required to consider how that in them God maintained the claims of His righteousness by what He required from the responsible agents with whom He dealt. It was not until after Noah “did according to all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22) by preparing an ark “to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7), that God confirmed His “with thee will I establish my covenant” (Gen. 6:18) by “I establish my covenant” (9:9). Noah having fulfilled the divine stipulations, God was now prepared to fulfill His promises.

The same thing is clearly seen again in connection with Abraham. There is no hint in Scripture that the Lord entered into any covenant with him while he was in Ur of Chaldea. Instead, the land of Canaan was then set before him provisionally: “The Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1). The order there is unmistakably plain.

First, God acted in grace, sovereign grace, by singling out Abraham from his idolatrous neighbors, and by calling him to something far better.

Second, God made known the requirements of His righteousness and enforced Abraham’s responsibility by the demand there made upon him.

Third, the promised reward was to follow Abraham’s response to God’s call.

These three things are conjoined in Heb. 11:8: “By faith Abraham, when he was called [by divine grace] to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance [the reward], obeyed [the discharge of his responsibility]; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

Nor does what has just been said in anywise conflict with what was pointed out in previous chapters. The above elements just as truly shadowed forth another fundamental aspect of the everlasting covenant as did the different features singled out from the Adamic and the Noahic. In the everlasting covenant, God promised a certain reward unto Christ upon His fulfilling certain conditions—executing the appointed work. The inseparable principles of law and gospel, grace and reward, faith and works, were most expressly conjoined in that compact which God entered into with the Mediator before the foundation of the world. Therein we may behold the “manifold wisdom of God” in combining such apparent opposites; and instead of carping at their seeming hostility, we should admire the omniscience which has made the one the handmaid of the other. Only then are we prepared to discern and recognize the exercise of this dual principle in each of the subordinate covenants.

Not a few writers supposed they magnified the grace of God and honored the Mediator when affirming that Christ Himself so fulfilled the conditions of the covenant and so met every requirement of God’s righteousness that His people have been entirely freed of all legal obligations, and that nothing whatever is left for them to do but express their gratitude in lives wellpleasing to Him. It is far easier to make this mistake than it is to expose it. It is true, blessedly true, gloriously true, that Christ did perfectly discharge His covenant engagements, magnified the law and made it honorable, that God received from Him a full satisfaction for all the sins of His people. Yet that does not mean that the law has been repealed, that God rescinds His righteous claims upon the creature, or that believers are placed in a position of privilege from which obligation is excluded; nor does it involve the idea that saints are freed from covenant duties. Grace reigns, but it reigns “through righteousness” (Rom. 5:21) and not at the expense of it.

Christ’s obedience has not rendered ours unnecessary: rather has it rendered ours acceptable. In that sentence lies the solution to the difficulty. The law of God will accept nothing short of perfect and perpetual obedience; and such obedience the Surety of God’s people rendered, so that He brought in an everlasting righteousness which is reckoned to their account. Yet that is only one half of the truth on this subject. The other half is not that Christ’s atonement has inaugurated a regime of lawlessness or license, but rather has it placed its beneficiaries under additional obligations. But more: it had procured the needed grace to enable those beneficiaries to discharge their obligations—not perfectly, but nevertheless, acceptably to God. And how? By securing that the Holy Spirit should bring them from death unto life, impart to them a nature which delights in the law, and work in them both to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. And what is God’s good pleasure for His people? The same as it was for His incarnate Son: to be perfectly conformed to the law in thought and word and deed.

God has one and the same standard for the head and the members of His church; and therefore we are told, “he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). In 1 Peter 2:21 we read, “Christ also suffered for us.” With what end in view? That we might be relieved from all obligation to God? That we might pursue a course of lawlessness under the pretense of magnifying “grace”? No, indeed; but rather “leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps.” And what is the nature of that example which Christ has left us? What, but “fulfilling the law” (Matthew 5:17), loving the Lord His God with all His heart and mind and strength, and His neighbor as Himself? But in order to do this there must be a nature in harmony with the law and not enmity against it. Could Christ declare, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8), so can each of His redeemed and regenerated people say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man,” (Rom. 7:22). And were there nothing else in them but the new man they would render perfect obedience to the law. Such is their honest desire, but the presence of the old man thwarts them.

The everlasting covenant was, in its nature and contents, a mixed one, for the principles of both law and grace were operative therein. It was grace pure and simple which ordained that any from Adam’s fallen race should be saved, as it was amazing and infinite grace that provided the Son of God should become incarnate and serve as their surety. But it was law pure and simple that the Surety should earn and purchase their salvation by His rendering unto God a perfect satisfaction on their behalf. Christ was “made under the law” (Gal. 4:4). His whole life was perfectly conformed to the precepts of the law, and His death was an enduring of the penalty of the law; and all of this was in fulfillment of His covenant engagements. In like manner, these two principles of grace and law are operative in connection with the administration of the everlasting covenant— that is, in the application of its benefits to those on whose behalf Christ transacted. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31).

The work of Christ has released the believer from the law as a procuring cause of his justification, but it has in nowise abolished it as his rule of life. Divine grace does not set aside its recipient’s responsibility, nor does the believer’s obedience render grace any the less necessary. God requires obedience (conformity to His law) from the Christian as truly as He does from the non-Christian. True, we are not saved for (because of) our obedience; yet it is equally true that we cannot be saved without it. Unless Noah had heeded God and built the ark, he had perished in the Flood; yet it was by the goodness and power of God that the ark was preserved. It is through Christ, and Christ alone, that the believer’s obedience is acceptable to God. But it may be asked, Will God accept an imperfect obedience from us? The answer is yes, if it be sincere; just as He is pleased to answer our poor prayers when presented in the all—meritorious name of His Son.

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

The Gospel Produces Different Effects

CharlesSpurgeonI. Our first remark is, that THE GOSPEL PRODUCES DIFFERENT EFFECTS. It must seem a strange thing, but it is strangely true, that there is scarcely ever a good thing in the world of which some little evil is not the consequence. Let the sun shine in brilliance-it shall moisten the wax, it shall harden clay; let it pour down floods of light on the tropics-it will cause vegetation to be extremely luxuriant, the richest and choicest fruits shall ripen, and the fairest of all flowers shall bloom, but who does not know, that there the worst of reptiles and the most venomous snakes are also brought forth? So it is with the gospel. Although it is the very sun of righteousness to the world, although it is God’s best gift, although nothing can be in the least comparable to the vast amount of benefit which it bestows upon the human race, yet even of that we must confess, that sometimes it is the “savor of death unto death.” But then we are not to blame the gospel for this; it is not the fault of God’s truth; it is the fault of those who do not receive it. It is the “savor of life unto life” to every one that listens to its sound with a heart that is open to its reception. It is only “death unto death” to the man who hates the truth, despises it, scoffs at it, and tries to oppose its progress. It is of that character we must speak first.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855; at Exeter Hall Strand.

These are the words of Paul, speaking on the behalf of himself and his brethren the Apostles

Spurgeon 3For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that parish; to the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor or life unto life. And Who is sufficient for these things?”-2 Corinthians 2:15, 16.

THESE are the words of Paul, speaking on the behalf of himself and his brethren the Apostles, and they are true concerning all those who by the Spirit are chosen, qualified, and thrust into the vineyard to preach God’s gospel. I have often admired the 15th verse of this chapter, especially when I have remembered from whose lips the words fell, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.” Picture Paul, the aged, the man who had been beaten five times with “forty stripes save one,” who had been dragged forth for dead, the man of great sufferings, who had passed through whole seas of persecution-only think of him saying, at the close of his ministerial career, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ!” to triumph when shipwrecked, to triumph when scourged, to triumph in the stocks, to triumph under the stones, to triumph amidst the hiss of the world, to triumph when he was driven from the city and shook of I the dust from his feet, to triumph at all times in Christ Jesus! Now, if some ministers of modern times should talk thus, we would think little of it, for they enjoy the world’s applause. They can always go to their place in ease and peace; they have an admiring people, and no open foes; against them not a dog doth move his tongue; everything is safe and pleasant. For them to say, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph “is a very little thing; but for one like Paul, so trampled on, so tried, so distressed, to say it-then, we say, outspoke a hero; here is a man who had true faith in God and in the divinity of his mission.

And, my brethren, how sweet is that consolation which Paul applied to his own heart amid all his troubles. “Notwithstanding all,” he says, “God makes known the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.” Ah! With this thought a minister may lay his head upon his pillow: “God makes manifest the savor of his knowledge.” With this he may shut his eyes when his career is over, and with this he may open them in heaven: “God hath made known by me the savor of his knowledge in every place.” Then follow the words of my text, of which I shall speak, dividing it into three particulars. Our first remark shall be, that although the gospel is “a sweet savor” in every place, yet it produces different effects in different persons; “to one it is the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life.” Our second observation shall be, that ministers of the gospel are not responsible for their success, for it is said, “We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” And thirdly, yet the gospel minister’s place is by no means a light one: his duty is very weighty; for the Apostle himself said, “Who is sufficient for these things?”

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855; at Exeter Hall Strand.

If you be the children of God, learn that lesson

Lastly, If you be the children of God, learn that lesson–Gird up the loins of your mind, as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former conversation; but be ye holy in all manner of conversation. Consider that the holy God is your Father, and let this oblige you to live like the children of God, that you may look your Father in the face, with comfort, another day.

John Bunyan- Bunyan’s Last Sermon

The First Use

[THE APPLICATION.]

The first use is this, To make a strict inquiry whether you be born of God or not; examine by those things I laid down before, of a child of nature and a child of grace. Are you brought out of the dark dungeon of this world into Christ? Have you learned to cry, ‘My Father?’ (Jer 3:4). ‘And I said, Thou shalt call me, My Father.’ All God’s children are criers–cannot you be quiet without you have a bellyful of the milk of God’s Word? cannot you be satisfied without you have peace with God? Pray you, consider it, and be serious with yourselves; if you have not these marks, you will fall short of the kingdom of God–you shall never have an interest there; ‘there’ is no intruding. They will say, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us; and he will say, I know you not.’ No child of God, no heavenly inheritance. We sometimes give something to those that are not our children, but [we do] not [give them] our lands. O do not flatter yourselves with a portion among the sons, unless you live like sons. When we see a king’s son play with a beggar, this is unbecoming; so if you be the king’s children, live like the king’s children; if you be risen with Christ, set your affections on things above, and not on things below; when you come together, talk of what your Father promised you; you should all love your Father’s will, and be content and pleased with the exercises you meet with in the world. If you are the children of God, live together lovingly; if the world quarrel with you, it is no matter; but it is sad if you quarrel together; if this be amongst you, it is a sign of ill-breeding; it is not according to the rules you have in the Word of God. Dost thou see a soul that has the image of God in him? Love him, love him; say, This man and I must go to heaven one day; serve one another, do good for one another; and if any wrong you, pray to God to right you, and love the brotherhood.

John Bunyan- Bunyan’s Last Sermon

It is natural for them to depend upon their father for what they want

7. Children, it is natural for them to depend upon their father for what they want; if they want a pair of shoes, they go and tell him; if they want bread, they go and tell him; so should the children of God do. Do you want spiritual bread? go tell God of it. Do you want strength of grace? ask it of God. Do you want strength against Satan’s temptations? go and tell God of it. When the devil tempts you, run home and tell your heavenly Father–go, pour out your complaints to God; this is natural to children; if any wrong them, they go and tell their father; so do those that are born of God, when they meet with temptations, go and tell God of them.

John Bunyan- Bunyan’s Last Sermon