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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

1 Corinthians 2

Verses 9-10


A Sermon

(No. 56)

Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 16th, 1855, by the

REV. C. H. Spurgeon

At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.


"As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 .

HOW very frequently verses of Scripture are misquoted! Instead of turning to the Bible, to see how it is written, and saying, "How readest thou?" we quote from one another; and thus a passage of Scripture is handed down misquoted, by a king of tradition, from father to son, and passes as current among a great number of Christian persons. How very frequently at our prayer meetings do we hear our brethren describing heaven as a place of which we cannot conceive! They say, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him;" and there they stop, not seeing that the very marrow of the whole passage lies in this "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." So that the joys of heaven (if this passage alludes to heaven, which, I take it, is not quite so clear as some would suppose), are, after all, not things of which we cannot conceive; for "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit."

I have hinted that this passage is most commonly applied to heaven, and I shall myself also so apply it in some measure, this morning. But any one who reads the connexion will discover that the apostle is not talking about heaven at all. He is only speaking of this that the wisdom of this world is not able to discover the things of God that the merely carnal mind is not able to know the deep spiritual things of our most holy religion. He says, "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." And then he goes on lower down to say, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." I take it, that this text is a great general fact, capable of specific application to certain cases; and that the great fact is this that the things of God cannot be perceived by eye, and ear, and heart, but must be revealed by the Spirit of God; as they are unto all true believers. We shall take that thought, and endeavour to expand it this morning, explaining it concerning heaven, as well as regards other heavenly matters.

Every prophet who has stood upon the borders of a new dispensation might have uttered these words with peculiar force. He might have said, as he looked forward to the future, God having touched his eye with the anointing eye-salve of the Holy Spirit, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." We will divide the economy of free grace into different dispensations. We commence with the patriarchal. A patriarch, who like Abraham was gifted with foresight, might have looked forward to the Levitical dispensation, glorious with its tabernacle, its Shekinah, its gorgeous veil, its blazing altars; he might have caught a glimpse of Solomon's magnificent temple, and even by anticipation heard the sacred song ascending from the assembled thousands of Jerusalem; he might have seen king Solomon upon his throne, surrounded with all his riches, and the people resting in peace and tranquillity in the promised land; and he might have turned to his brethren who lived in the patriarchal age, and said, "'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him' in the next dispensation. Ye know not how clearly God will reveal himself in the Paschal Lamb how sweetly the people will be led, and fed, and guided, and directed all the way through the wilderness what a sweet and fair country it is that they shall inhabit; Eye hath not seen the brooks that gush with milk, nor the rivers that run with honey; ear hath not heard the melodious voices of the daughters of Shiloh, nor have entered into the heart of man the joys of the men of Zion, 'but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.'"

And so, moreover, at the close of the Levitical dispensation, the prophets might have thus foretold the coming glories. Old Isaiah, standing in the midst of the temple, beholding its sacrifices, and the dim smoke that went up from them, when his eyes were opened by the Spirit of God, said "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for him that love him." He saw by faith Christ crucified upon the cross; he beheld him weltering in his own blood in Gethsemane's garden; he saw the disciples going out of Jerusalem, to preach everywhere the Word of God; he marked the progress of Messiah's kingdom, and he looked down to these latter days, when every man under his own vine and fig tree doth worship God, none daring to make him afraid; and he could well have cheered the captives in Babylon in words like these, "Now ye sit down and weep, and ye will not sing in a strange land the songs of Zion; but lift up your heads, for your salvation draweth nigh. Your eye hath not seen, nor your ear heard, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; but he hath revealed them unto me by his Spirit." And now, beloved, we stand on the borders of a new era. The mediatorial dispensation is almost finished. In a few more years, if prophecy be not thoroughly misinterpreted, we shall enter upon another condition. This poor earth of ours, which has been swathed in darkness, shall put on her garments of light. She hath toiled a long while in travail and sorrow. Soon shall her groanings end. Her surface, which has been stained with blood, is soon to be purified by love, and a religion of peace is to be established. The hour is coming, when storms shall be hushed, when tempests shall be unknown, when whirlwind and hurricane shall stay their mighty force, and when "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ." But you ask me what sort of kingdom that is to be, and whether I can show you any likeness thereof. I answer, no; "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,' in the next, the millenial dispensation; "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." Sometimes, when we climb upwards, there are moments of contemplation when we can understand that verse, "From whence we look for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be revealed from heaven," and can anticipate that thrice blessed hour, when the King of kings shall put on his head the crown of the universe, when he shall gather up sheaves of sceptres, and put them beneath his arm when he shall take the crowns from the heads of all monarchs, and welding them into one, shall put them on his own head, admist the shouts of ten thousand times ten thousand who shall chaunt his high praises. But it is little enough that we can guess of its wonders.

But persons are curious to know what kind of dispensation the Millennial one is to be. Will the temple, they ask, be erected in Jerusalem? Will the Jews be positively restored to their own land? Will the different nations all speak one language? Will they all resort to one temple? and ten thousand other questions. Beloved, we cannot answer you. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." We do not profess to understand the minutiae of these things. It is enough for us to believe that a latter-day glory is approaching. Our eyes glisten with joy, in the full belief that it is coming; and our hearts swell big at the thought that our Master is to reign over the wide, wide world, and to win it for himself. But if you begin questioning us, we tell you that we cannot explain it. Just as under the legal dispensation there were types and shadows, but the mass of the people never saw Christ in them, so there are a great many different things in this dispensation which are types of the next, which will never be explained till we have more wisdom, more light, and more instruction. Just as the enlightened Jew partially foresaw what the Gospel was to be by the law, so may we guess the Millennium by the present, but we have not light enough: there are few who are taught enough in the deep things of God to explain them fully. Therefore we still say of the mass of mankind "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit," in some measure, and he will do so more and more, by-and-bye.

And this brings us to make the application of the subject to heaven itself. You see, while it does not expressly mean heaven here, you may very easily bring it to bear upon it; for concerning heaven, unto which believers are all fast going, we may say "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit."

Now, beloved, I am about to talk of heaven for this reason: you know, I never preach any funeral sermons for anybody, and never intend. I have passed by many persons who have died in our church, without having made any parade of funeral sermons; but, nevertheless, three or four of our friends having departed recently, I think I may speak a little to you about heaven, in order to cheer you, and God may thus bless their departure. It is to be no funeral sermon, however no eulogium on the dead, and no oration pronounced over the departed. Frequent funeral sermons I utterly abhor, and I believe they are not under God's sanction and approval. Of the dead we should say nothing but that which is good: and in the pulpit we should say very little of that, except, perhaps, in the case of some very eminent saint; and then we should say very little of the man; but let the "honour be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever."

Heaven then, what is it? First, what is it not? It is not a heaven of the SENSES "Eye hath not seen it." What glorious things the eye hath seen! Have we not seen the gaudy pageantry of pomp crowding the gay streets. We have seen the procession of kings and princes; our eyes have been feasted with the display of glittering uniforms, of lavished gold and jewels, of chariots and of horses; and we have perhaps thought that the procession of the saints of God may be dimly shadowed forth thereby. But, oh it was but the thought of our poor infant mind, and far enough from the great reality. We may hear of the magnificence of the old Persian princes, of palaces covered with gold and silver, and floors inlaid with jewels; but we cannot thence gather a thought of heaven, for "eye hath not seen" it. We have thought, however, when we have come to the works of God, and our eye hath rested on them: surely we can get some glimpse of what heaven is here. By night we have turned our eye up to the blue azure, and we have seen the stars those golden-fleeced sheep of God, feeding on the blue meadow of the sky, and we have said, "See! those are the nails in the floor of heaven up yonder;" and if this earth has such a glorious covering, what must that of the kingdom of heaven be? And when our eye has wandered from star to star, we have thought, "Now I can tell what heaven is by the beauty of its floor." But it is all a mistake. All that we can see can never help us to understand heaven. At another time we have seen some glorious landscape; we have seen the white river winding among the verdant fields like a stream silver, covered on either side with emerald; we have seen the mountain towering to the sky, the mist rising on it, or the golden sunrise covering all the east with glory; or we have seen the west, again, reddened with the light of the sun as it departed; and we have said, "Surely, these grandeurs must be something like heaven; we have clapped our hands, and exclaimed

"Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,

Stand dressed in living green."

We have imagined that there really were fields in heaven, and that things of earth were patterns of things in heaven. It was all a mistake: "Eye hath not seen" it.

Equally does our text assert that "the ear hath not heard" it. Oh! have we not on the Sabbath day sometimes heard the sweet voice of the messenger of God, when he has by the Spirit spoken to our souls! We knew something of heaven then, we thought. At other times we have been entranced with the voice of the preacher, and with the remarkable sayings which he has uttered; we have been charmed by his eloquence; some of us have known what it is to sit and weep and smile alternately, under the power of some mighty man who played with us as skilfully as David could have played on his harp; and we have said, "How sweet to hear those sounds! how glorious his eloquence! how wonderful his power of oratory! Now I think I know something of what heaven is, for my mind is so carried away, my passions are so excited, my imagination is so elevated, all the powers of my mind are stirred upon so that I can think of nothing but of what the preacher is speaking about!" But the ear is not the medium by which you can guess anything of heaven. The "ear hath not heard" it. At other times perhaps you have heard sweet music; and hath not music poured from the lungs of man that noblest instrument in the world or from some manufacture of harmony, and we have thought, "Oh! how glorious this is!" and fancied, "This is what John meant in the Revelation 'I heard a voice like many waters, and like exceeding great thunders, and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps;' and this must be something like heaven, something like the hallelujahs of the glorified." But ah! beloved, we made a mistake. "Ear hath not heard" it.

Here has been the very ground of that error into which many persons have fallen concerning heaven. They have said that they would like to go to heaven. What for? For this reason: they looked upon it as a place where they should be free from bodily pain. They should not have the head-ache or the tooth-ache there, nor any of those diseases which flesh is heir to, and whenever God laid his hand upon them they began to wish themselves in heaven, because they regarded it as a heaven of the senses a heaven which the eye hath seen or the ear heard. A great mistake; for although we shall have a body free from pain, yet it is not a heaven where our senses shall indulge themselves. The labourer will have it, that heaven is a place,

Where on a green and flowery mount

His weary soul shall sit.

Another will have it that heaven is a place where he shall eat to the full, and his body shall be satisfied. We may use these as figures; but we are so degenerate that we are apt to build a fine Mahometan heaven, and to think, there shall we have all the delights of the flesh; there shall we drink from bowls of nectared wine; there shall we lavishly indulge ourselves, and our body shall enjoy every delight of which it is capable. What a mistake for us to conceive such a thing! Heaven is not a place for the delight of mere sense; we shall be raised not a sensual body, but a spiritual body. We can get no conceptions of heaven through the senses; they must always come through the Spirit. That is our first thought. It is not a heaven to be grasped by the senses.

But, secondly, it is not a heaven of the IMAGINATION. Poets let their imaginations fly with loosened wings, when they commence speaking of heaven. And how glorious are their descriptions of it! When we have read them, we say, "And is that heaven? I wish I was there." And we think we have some idea of heaven by reading books of poetry. Perhaps the preacher weaves the filigree work of fancy, and builds up in a moment by his words charming palaces, the tops of which are covered with gold, and the walls are ivory. He pictures to you lights brighter than the sun; a place where spirits flap their bright wings, where comets flash through the sky. He tells you of fields where you may feed on ambrosia, where no henbane groweth, but where sweet flowers cover the meads. And then you think you have some idea of heaven: and you sit down and say, "It is sweet to hear that man speak; he carried me so away; he made me think I was there; he gave me such conceptions as I never head before; he worked on my imagination." And do you know, there is not a greater power than imagination. I would not give a farthing for a man who has not imagination; he is of no use, if he wishes to move the multitude. If you were to take away my imagination I must die. It's a little heaven below, to imagine sweet things. But never think that imagination can picture heaven. When it is most sublime when it is freest from the dust of earth, when it is carried up by he greatest knowledge, and kept steady by the most extreme caution, imagination cannot picture heaven. "It hath not entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Imagination is good, but not to picture to us heaven. Your imaginary heaven you will find by-and-by to be all a mistake; though you may have piled up fine castles, you will find them to be castles in the air, and they will vanish like thin clouds before the gale. For imagination cannot make a heaven. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered the heart of man to conceive" it.

Our next point is, that it is not a heaven of the INTELLECT. Men who take to themselves the title of intelligent, and who very humbly and modestly call themselves philosophers, generally describe heaven as a place where we shall know all things; and their grandest idea of heaven is, that they shall discover all secrets there. There the rock which would not tell its origin shall bubble forth its history; there the star which would not tell its date, and could not be made to whisper of its inhabitants, shall at once unravel all its secrets; there the animal, the fashion of which could scarcely be guessed at, so long had it been buried amongst other fossils in the earth, shall start up again, and it shall be seen of what form and shape it really was: there the rocky secrets of this our earth that they never could discover will be opened to them; and they conceive that they shall travel from one star to another star, from planet to planet, and fill their enobled intellect, as they now delight to call it, with all kinds of human knowledge. They reckon that heaven will be to understand the works of the Creator: and concerning such men as Bacon and other great philosophers, of whose piety we generally have very little evidence, we read at the end of their biographies "He has now departed, that noble spirit which taught us such glorious things here, to sip at the fountain of knowledge, and have all his mistakes rectified, and his doubts cleared up." But we do not believe anything of the kind. Intellect! thou knowest it now! "It hath not entered into the heart of man." It is high; what canst thou know? It is deep; what canst thou understand? It is only the Spirit that can give you a guess of heaven.

Now we come to the point "He hath revealed it unto us by his Spirit." I think this means, that it was revealed unto the apostles by the Spirit, so that they wrote something of it in the Holy Word; but as you all believe that, we will only hint at it, and pass on. We think also that it refers to every believer, and that every believer does have glimpses of heaven below, and that God does reveal heaven to him, even whilst on earth, so that he understands what heaven is, in some measure. I love to talk of the Spirit's influence on man. I am a firm believer in the doctrine of impulse, in the doctrine of influence, in the doctrine of direction, in the doctrine of instruction by the Holy Spirit; and I believe him to be an interpreter, one of a thousand, who reveals unto man his own sinfulness, and afterwards teaches him his righteousness in Christ Jesus. I know there are some who abuse that doctrine, and ascribe every text that comes into their heart as given by the Spirit. We have heard of a man who, passing by his neighbour's wood, and having none in his own house, fancied he should like to take some. The text crossed his mind "In all these things Job sinned not." He said, "There is an influence from the Spirit; I must take that man's wood." Presently, however, conscience whispered, "Thou shalt not steal;" and he remembered then that no text could have been put into his heart by the Spirit, if it excused sin or led him into it. However we do not discard the doctrine of impulse, because some people make a mistake; and we shall have a little of it this morning a little of the teaching of God's gracious Spirit, whereby he reveals unto us what heaven is.

First of all, we think a Christian gets a gaze of what heaven is, when in the midst of trials and troubles he is able to cast all his care upon the Lord, because he careth for him. When waves of distress, and billows of affliction pass over the Christian, there are times when his faith is so strong that he lies down and sleeps, though the hurricane is thundering in his ears, and though billows are rocking him like a child in its cradle, though the earth is removed, and the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, he says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Famine and desolation come; but he says, "Though the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall there be fruit on the vine, though the labour of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no increase, yet will I trust in the Lord, and stay myself on the God of Jacob." Affliction smites him to the ground; he looks up, and says, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." The blows that are given to him are like the lashing of a whip upon the water, covered up immediately, and he seems to feel nothing. It is not stoicism; it is the peculiar sleep of the beloved. "So he giveth his beloved sleep." Persecution surrounds him; but he is unmoved. Heaven is something like that a place of holy calm and trust

"That holy calm, that sweet repose,

Which none but he who feels it knows.

This heavenly calm within the breast

Is the dear pledge of glorious rest,

Which for the church of God remains,

The end of cares, the end of pains."

But there is another season in which the Christian has heaven revealed to him; and that is, the season of quiet contemplation. There are precious hours, blessed be God, when we forget the world times and seasons when we get quite away from it, when our weary spirit wings its way far, far, from scenes of toil and strife. There are precious moments when the angel of contemplation gives us a vision. He comes and puts his finger on the lip of the noisy world; he bids the wheels that are continually rattling in our ears be still; and we sit down, and there is a solemn silence of the mind. We find our heaven and our God; we engage ourselves in contemplating the glories of Jesus, or mounting upwards towards the bliss of heaven in going backward to the great secrets of electing love, in considering the immutability of the blessed covenant, in thinking of what wind which "bloweth where it listeth," in remembering our own participation of that life which cometh from God, in thinking of our blood-bought union with the Lamb, of the consummation of our marriage with him in realms of light and bliss, or any such kindred topics. Then it is that we know a little about heaven. Have ye never found, O ye sons and daughters of gaiety, a holy calm come over you at times, in reading the thoughts of your fellowmen? But oh! how blessed to come and read the thoughts of God, and work, and weave them out in contemplation. Then we have a web of contemplation that we wrap around us like an enchanted garment, and we open our eyes and see heaven. Christian! when you are enabled by the Spirit to hold a season of sweet contemplation, then you can say "But he hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit;" for the joys of heaven are akin to the joys of contemplation, and the joys of a holy calm in God. But there are times with me I dare say there may be with some of you when we do something more than contemplate when we arise by meditation above thought itself, and when our soul, after having touched the Pisgah of contemplation by the way, flies positively into the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. There are seasons when the Spirit not only stands and flaps his wings o'er the gulf, but positively crosses the Jordan and dwells with Christ, holds fellowship with angels, and talks with spirits gets up there with Jesus, clasps him in his arms, and cries, "My beloved is mine, and I am his; I will hold him, and will not let him go." I know what it is at times to lay my beating head on the bosom of Christ with something more than faith actually and positively to get hold of him; not only to take him by faith, but actually and positively to feed on him; to feel a vital union with him, to grasp his arm, and feel his very pulse beating. You say. "Tell it not to unbelievers; they will laugh!" Laugh ye may; but when we are there we care not for your laughter, if ye should laugh as loud as devils; for one moment's fellowship with Jesus would recompense us for it all. Picture not fairy lands; this is heaven, this is bliss. "He hath revealed it unto us by his Spirit."

And let not the Christian, who says he has very little of this enjoyment be discouraged. Do not think you cannot have heaven revealed to you by the Spirit; I tell you, you can, if you are one of the Lord's people. And let me tell some of you, that one of the places where you may most of all expect to see heaven is at the Lord's table. There are some of you, my dearly beloved, who absent yourselves from the supper of the Lord on earth; let me tell you in God's name, that you are not only sinning against God, but robbing yourselves of a most inestimable privilege. If there is one season in which the soul gets into closer communion with Christ than another, it is at the Lord's table. How often have we sang there,

"Can I Gethesemane forget?

Or there thy conflicts see,

Thine agony and bloody sweat,

And not remember thee?

Remember thee and all thy pains,

And all thy love to me,

Yes, while a pulse, or breath remains,

I will remember thee."

And then you see what an easy transition it is to heaven:

"And when these failing lips grow dumb,

And thought and memory flee;

When thou shalt in thy kingdom come,

Jesus, remember me."

O my erring brethren, ye who live on, unbaptized, and who receive not this sacred supper, I tell you not that they will save you most assuredly they will not, and if you are not saved before you receive them they will be an injury to you; but if you are the Lord's people, why need you stay away? I tell you, the Lord's table is so high a place that you can see heaven from it very often. You get so near the cross there, you breathe so near the cross, that your sight becomes clearer, and the air brighter, and you see more of heaven there than anywhere else. Christian, do not neglect the supper of thy Lord; for it thou dost, he will hide heaven from thee, in a measure.

Again, how sweetly do we realize heaven, when we assemble in our meetings for prayer. I do not know how my brethren feel at prayer meetings; but they are so much akin to what heaven is, as a place of devotion, that I really think we get more ideas of heaven by the Spirit there, than in hearing a sermon preached, because the sermon necessarily appeals somewhat to the intellect and the imagination. But if we enter into the vitality of prayer at our prayer meetings, then it is the Spirit that reveals heaven to us. I remember two texts that I preached from lately at our Monday evening meeting, which were very sweet to some of our souls. "Abide with us, for the day is far spent," and another, "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him and found him." Then indeed we held some foretaste of heaven. Master Thomas would not believe that his Lord was risen. Why? Because he was not at the last prayer-meeting; for we are told that Thomas was not there. And those who are often away from devotional meetings are very apt to have doubting frames; they do not get sights of heaven, for they get their eye-sight spoiled by stopping away.

Another time when we get sights of heaven is in extraordinary closet seasons. Ordinary closet prayer will only make ordinary Christians of us. It is in extraordinary seasons, when we are led by God to devote, say an hour, to earnest prayer when we feel an impulse, we scarce know why, to cut off a portion of our time during the day to go alone. Then, beloved, we kneel down, and begin to pray in earnest. It may be that we are attacked by the devil; for when the enemy knows we are going to have a great blessing, he always makes a great noise to drive us away; but if we keep at it, we shall soon get into a quiet frame of mind, and hear him roaring at a distance. Presently you get hold of the angel, and say, "Lord, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." He asks your name. You begin to tell him what you name was:

"Once a sinner, near despair,

Sought thy mercy-seat by prayer;

Mercy heard and set him free;

Lord, that mercy came to me."

You say, "What is thy name, Lord?" He will not tell you. You hold him fast still; at last he deigns to bless you. That is certainly some foretaste of heaven, when you feel alone with Jesus. Let no man know your prayers; they are between God and yourselves; but if you want to know much of heaven, spend some extra time in prayer; for God then reveals it to us by his Spirit.

"Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish." You have been saying in your hearts, "The prophet is a fool, and this spiritual man is mad." Go away and say these things; but be it known unto you, that what ye style madness is to us wisdom and what ye count folly "is the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom." And if there is a poor penitent here this morning, saying, "Ah! sir, I get visions enough of hell, but I do not get visions of heaven;" poor penitent sinner, thou canst not have any visions of heaven, unless thou lookest through the hands of Christ. The only glass through which a poor sinner can see bliss is that formed by the holes in Jesus' hands. Dost thou not know, that all grace and mercy was put into the hand of Christ, and that it never could have run out to thee unless his hand had been bored through in crucifixion. He cannot hold it from thee, for it will run through; and he cannot hold it in his heart, for he has got a rent in it made by the spear. Go and confess your sin to him, and he will wash you, and make you whiter than snow. If you feel you cannot repent, go to him and tell him so, for he is exalted to give repentance, as well as remission of sins. Oh! that the spirit of God might give you true repentance and true faith; and then saint and sinner shall meet together, and both shall not only know what "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard;" but

"Then shall we see, and hear, and know

All we desired or wished below,

And every power find sweet employ

In that eternal world of joy."

Till that time we can only have these things revealed to us by the Spirit; and we will seek more of that, each day we live.

Verse 14

Natural or Spiritual?


A Sermon

(No. 407)

Delivered on Sunday Morning, September the 1st, 1861 by the


At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington


"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know then because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14 .

THE APOSTLE PAUL knows of only two classes of men natural and spiritual. Before his eye all other distinctions are extinguished. Barbarian or Scythian, bond or friar, male or female, circumcision or uncircumcision all these varieties among men are mere accidents in his esteem. He does not stay to divide men, according to the symptoms of their nature. They may be devout men, such as make a profession of godliness, men of morality, men who have commenced sin, or men who have become adepts in it. He knows better than merely to judge of men by their symptoms; he takes either their diseased state or their healthy state, and so divides them. He lays the axe at the root of the trees, and doing so, he perceives only two classes of men the natural and the spiritual. Under the term "natural," the apostle includes all those persons who are not partakers of the Spirit of God; it matters not how excellent, how estimable, how intelligent, how instructed they may be. If the Spirit of God hath not given to them a new and higher nature than they ever possessed by their creature birth, he puts them all down at once in the list of natural men. They are what they are by nature. They never professed to have received the Spirit of God. He puts them down, therefore, as natural men. On the other hand, all into whom the Spirit of God has come, breathing into them a new and diviner life, he puts down under the other head of spiritual men. They may be as yet but babes in grace; their faith may be weak; their love may be but in its early bud; as yet their spiritual senses may be little exercised, perhaps their faults may be in excess of their virtues, but inasmuch as the root of the matter is in them, and they have passed from death unto life, out of the region of nature into that which is beyond nature the kingdom of grace he puts them down also, all of them in one list, as spiritual men. And then he goes on to affirm concerning natural men, those who are not partakers of the Spirit, that the truths of God, which are spiritual, they do not and cannot receive. He teaches that it is utterly impossible that they ever should receive then, unless lifted out of that class of natural men and transformed by the Spirit's work into spiritual men. This change, however, being effected, they will not only receive the things of the Spirit, but embrace them with delight, feed upon them with intense satisfaction, and rise eventually into that state of glory which is next beyond the state of grace.

This morning I propose and O that God the Holy Spirit may bear witness in our hearts! I propose, first of all, to dwell a little while upon the great truth that natural men do not receive the things of the Spirit of God, but count them foolishness; in the second place, I shall show, for a moment only, that the reason of the rejection of the things of God cannot be because they are really foolish, for they are not so; thirdly, we shall come to the inference that the reason why the natural man rejects the things of God, is to be found in himself alone; and then, fourthly, we shall consider the practical lessons which the whole subject teaches.

I. First, then, it is a well-known fact, and one which can be proved by the observation of every day, that THE NATURAL MAN RECEIVES NOT THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

Mark, we lay this down as a rule. We do not say that the drunken or debauched natural man receives not the things of God. That is true; but we also insist upon it that the delicate and the refined natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God. I do not pick out some one case, and say the uneducated, illiterate, coarse, low-minded natural man cannot comprehend spiritual things; but all alike, the most intelligent, enlightened, and trained natural men, equally, do not, and cannot, and will not comprehend the things of the Spirit of God. Like our apostle, we take a wide range, and do not leave out one. However amiable in natural temperament, however well trained by the best parental associations, however kept in check by the most excellent position in providence, however patriotic, however self-denying, however benevolent, however estimable in an other respects, the natural man does not and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God.

Now look around and search for the facts which prove the truth of this. How many natural men there are, and such as you would call good men too in some ways, who oppose violently the things of the Spirit of God. They do not believe them; nay, they say they are a lie. They cannot understand how men should be simpletons enough to believe such ridiculous things. Honestly do they imagine that they shall be snapping the chains of priestcraft and unrivetting the fetters of superstition, if they should come forward and attempt to prove that these spiritual things are a mere delusion. There, gentlemen, we have lived to see you, under a profession of religion, actually oppose those spiritual things which this religion teaches. We have lived to see what we scarcely ever dreamed to be possible clergymen of the Church of England themselves denying the truths which they swore they would defend, and in their "Essays and Reviews" seeking to cast down those spiritual things which once they professed to have understood when they claimed to have received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of their bishop. We have not only in these times opened and avowed infidel lecturers who, like honest men deny everything openly, but we have the hypocritical Christian infidel who, like a dishonest thief and wolf in sheep's clothing, willing always to take the gain of godliness, denies godliness itself. Perhaps it was left for this age to permit wickedness to culminate to the highest, and to see the growth of the vilest hypocrisy that ever appeared among the sons of men. We have had abundant proof that men of the most scientific minds, persons who have been exceedingly inquiring, men who have trod the realms of knowledge, and gone even to the seventh heaven of wisdom, that these have nevertheless proved that they could not receive the things of the kingdom of God, by their determined opposition and enmity against anything like the truth as it is in Jesus. When you hear them blaspheming the holy name of Christ, when you hear them bringing what they call "scientific facts" against the truth of revelation, be not amazed as though it were some new thing, but write this down in your memorandum book the Holy Ghost said of old, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God," and these men live to prove that what the Spirit of God said was very truth.

A greater proportion of persons there are who do not so much oppose violently as more secretly despise and condemn. Well, they tell us, they dare say that the Christian religion is a very good thing for some people, and especially for old women and for persons that are on the borders of the grave, but still no rational being would endorse full all the doctrines of the gospel, and especially that particular form of them which John Calvin taught; for if there be any doctrines that excite more the spleen of there wise men than any other, it is the doctrines of grace, the doctrine of discriminating, distinguishing love, the doctrine of divine sovereignty, the doctrine of God, being really God, and not man. Against these they have no words too bitter. "Oh," they say, "it is an exploded theory; it has had its day, and it has become effete," and so, without actually persecuting those who hold the truth, or without even setting themselves up by active efforts to put it down they do secretly with a sneer and with a jest, pass it by as a thing utterly unworthy of a rational person, a thing that is not for a moment to be thought of as being one half so important as the wing of a beetle, or as the particular flight of a sparrow, or the period of the migration of a swallow. All the facts of natural history they think valuable and important, but these grander truths which have to do with the kingdom of God they despise utterly, and think they are but the dream of simpletons. Again, I say, my brethren, marvel not at this. Let this be to you another argument that the Spirit of God knew what was in man, and rightly judged of the human heart when he said, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God."

Probably in this assembly there are very few of either of these two classes, but a far more numerous company now claims our attention. The great mass of mankind say, "We dare say it is all well, and good, and true, and it is a proper thing for ministers think about, and the deacons of churches, and so on, no doubt they should see to it: it is very proper that there should be a right creed, and that the articles of the Church should be defended, and of course the Bible Society should spread the Bible, but then, of course, nobody ought to be importuned to read it, it is of no particular importance." Better read the almanack than read the Bible, according to some; and as to the doctrines, "Oh," they say

"For forms of faith let graceless zealots fight,

He can't be wrong whose life is in the right."

"O yes, no doubt," they say, when they see some zealous brother vindicating a truth, "you are all right, and so is your friend opposite who believes the very reverse; you are both right as far as you go; and as far as I am concerned, I should never interfere with you, for I do not consider the things to be worth the turning of a hair; I never trouble my head at all about it. I have so much to do with the rise and fall of stocks in the market, of attending to my cattle, or seeing after my shop, that it would not do for me to attempt to be a theologian. The Bible is an excellent book; I have nothing to say against that, certainly; but, at the same time, for a farmer, a book on practical chemistry is more useful, and no doubt, for a person who holds some office in the parish, he had better buy a handy-book of common law than a book on the law of God." I only just give you a sketch of what many say and of what many more think. I know there are many of you here present to-day who say, "O yes, it is a good thing for us to go somewhere on a Sunday; we do not think the Sabbath should be broken; we like to hear a minister, and we like to see him in earnest, but it is of no importance to us; it is not a matter of concern to us." Ah! since, you, too have proved that, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, because they are spiritually discerned." These things which are so important, that you should neglect everything else to attend to them, are by you thought folly; these eternal realities, compared with which the world's highest interests are but as unsubstantial shadows, you pass by as being idle dreams and doubtless they are dreams to you, because you, still being in your natural estate, do not, cannot, will not, receive the things of the Spirit of God.

We are not without those persons, also, who even go farther. They say, "Well these things are of no importance to me;" and they think that those are fools who feel that there is any importance in them to them personally. "Oh!" says one, "for a man to sit down and think the doctrine of election, and believe himself to be elect why the man must be of a very debased intellect." "Oh," says another, "to be always meditating upon the atonement of Christ why there are other themes more expansive to think thou this." "Ay," says a third, "to be turning over a mere system of divinity, and professing to be able to revel in certain mysterious truths, such persons must be of a weak mind, or else very fanatical or enthusiastic." And so you will often hear persons say, if a man be a little more earnest than usual, "Surely that man is going wild; certainly he is attaching an undue importance to these matters." They will put him down as a Sectarian, perhaps which is one of the most honorable names by which a true Christian is known in these times. "Ah!" they will say, "a zealot, a bigot!" because a man happens to be honest in what he professes to believe, and thinks that if religion be anything, it would be everything and if it be worth all our thought, it is worth all our thoughts: that if it have any truth in it, it ought to be the master and ruler of all other truths, and governor of all the thoughts and the acts of life. Now, Christian men and women, when ye see any who turn upon their heel and despise you, because with earnestness you would seek the Lord your God, and strive to honor him, think it not some new display of human depravity; think not that you have made a fresh discovery in the awful deep of human departure from God, but say, rather now again, "I know, and once more am I confirmed in the fact, that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." It is a great wonder that there is one Christian upon the face of the earth. Some religions teach doctrines palatable to human nature, but the doctrines of Christ are the most unpalatable that could have been suggested. Some religions find that in nature which echoes to their voice, but Christ comes and brings a sword upon the earth to slay the fondest darlings of our fancy, and put to death the proudest favourites of our ambition. Oh! had the religion of Christ taught us that man was a noble being, only a little fallen had the religion of Christ taught that Christ had taken away by his blood, sin from every man, and that every man by his own free-will, without divine grace, might be saved it were indeed a most acceptable religion to the mass of men; it would just suit their taste; and as the ox drinks down water, so would they drink it down. But such a religion as that of Christ, so diametrically opposed as it is to all the evil propensities of man, owes its very existence to the might of God: that it has not long ago died from the earth, through the decease of its last admirer, is only due to that supreme power of the Holy Spirit which goeth with the preaching of the gospel wherever Christ is faithfully lifted up.

II. Now, briefly on my second point. THE NATURAL MAN COUNTS THE THINGS OF GOD TO BE FOOLISH; but there is nothing whatever in the things themselves to justify such an estimation.

Sir, you do not know what you say when you declare that the gospel of Christ is absurd. I am certain you do not understand it, and that you are talking of something you have never studied. You are generally pretty safe with a man who rails at the Bible, by saying, "Did you ever read it?" You are not often wrong, when you hear a minister of Christ found fault with, by saying to the man, "Did you ever hear him? did you ever read his sermons?" In nine cases out of ten it is, "No, I do not know anything about him, yet I do not like him, I do not know anything about Christ, but I do not like him, I do not know anything about his doctrines, but I do not wish to know." I have heard persons rail at Calvinistic doctrine, who never in their lives have read a word that Calvin wrote. If you were to offer them a small treatise in which that noble system of divinity should be vindicated, they would say, "Oh! it is no doubt so dry, I should not be able to read it." Yet these learned gentlemen know what is inside a book without opening it! They are like some critics of whom I have heard, who, when they meet with a new volume, take the knife and cut the first page, smell it, and then condemn or praise. Many there are who do just the same with the Bible. They have heard some verses of it once or twice, they have got some idea of it, and straightway they are wise. They take to themselves their own degree of Doctor of Divinity, and they have much boldness in their unbelief. Now, of any man who should denounce the system of truth which is taught in Scripture as ridiculous and foolish, I can only say he has never taken the trouble to search it out for himself. Have not the mightiest intellects confessed that the truths of this book were infinitely above their highest flights? Even Newton, who could thread the spheres, and map the march of what else had seemed discordant planets, even he said there were depths here which no mortal could fathom. "O the depths of the wisdom of God!" This has been the exclamation of some of the most glorious minds that have ever enlightened the world. And I can say, and I know it to be a truth, that every man who reads the Word of God, and studies the divinity therein revealed if he at first thinketh that he understandeth it, when he reads again, finds that he has only begun to know; and when he shall have searched year after year, and have become more than usually prescient in the study of the things of God, he will still say, "Now I begin to know my folly, now I began to discover that God is above me and beneath me, but I cannot grasp him, I cannot find out the Almighty to perfection, his words, his works, his ways, herein revealed to the sons of men, are past finding out." You wise fellows who turn upon your heels, and sneer at things which have astonished minds infinitely vaster than yours, prove your own folly when you call the things of God folly. With regard to that particular form of divine truth which we hold so dear, currently called Calvinistic doctrines there is no philosophy propounded by any sage, so profound as that philosophy. There are no truths that were ever taught so wonderful, so worthy of the profoundest research of the most expanded minds, as those doctrines of the eternal love, the discriminating grace, and the infinite power of God, co-working to produce the results which his wisdom had decreed. When every other science shall have been exhausted, when astronomy shall have no wonders left, when geology shall have no secrets to unravel, when natural history and philosophy shall have given up all their infinite treasures, there will still remain a mine without a bottom, there will still remain a sea of wisdom without a shore, in the doctrines of the gospel of the grace of God. The folly, therefore, cannot be in the doctrines themselves.

And as on the one hand, these things of the Spirit of God are wise and profound, so on the other hand, they are most important, and most imperatively necessary to be understood, so that if they be not received, it is not because they are uncongenial with our necessities. There are some speculations which a man need not enter upon. I receive constantly questions upon speculations which never struck my mind before, and certainly never will again. Persons want to know what is the origin of sin; they ask ten thousand questions which, if they could be answered, would not make them a whit the better. But the things of the gospel of God, which are as important as life and death depending upon them, men are content to slur over without making any earnest enquiry, or setting themselves to ascertain their truth. O sirs! the doctrines of God teach you your relationship to your Maker is not that worth understanding? They teach you your condition before the Most High God should you not know that? Ought you not to have clear ideas of it? They show you how God can be just to man, and yet be gracious is not that a riddle that is worthy to have an answer? They reveal to you how you can approach to God, and become his child; how you may be conformed to his image, and made a partaker of his glory is not that worth understanding? They reveal to you the world to come; they put to your short-sighted eye, a telescope which enables you to pierce the darkness and to see the unseen. The doctrines of grace put into your hands the keys of heaven, and unveil the secrets of death, and hell are not these things worth grasping? Are not the secrets of these places worth the discovery? The doctrines of grace put inside your hands powers infinitely greater than ever wizard was conceived to have wielded when he used his magic rod. By their might you can destroy your troubles; you can see your sins swallowed up; you can behold your enemies defeated; you can see death destroyed, the grave swallowed up, and life and immortality brought to light. If you, then, as a natural man, say that the things that are written in this book are foolish, it is not because they are trivial, unimportant, and despicable, for no man can ever over-estimate their value, and no soul can solemnly enough weigh them, and understand how important they are. It argues a high excess of impiety, when a man shall say that that which came from God is foolish. Perhaps blasphemy itself cannot outlive that, and yet how many have been guilty of this constructive blasphemy! Let my finger run around these galleries, and along these seats beneath; are there not many of you who have said the Bible was a dull and uninteresting book? And yet God wrote it! And what have you said? Have you not impugned your Maker? Have you not said, perhaps, that the doctrines of the Gospel were very unimportant? Can you believe that your Maker sat down to write an unimportant book, or that the Holy Ghost inspired men of old to write that which, if not nonsense, is certainly of no importance whatever? Come, bow your head and repent of this your grave offense, for an offense it is, since it is not within the compass of any modest reason to imagine that any word which God has written can be foolish, or unimportant or unworthy to be understood. I suppose it is granted by all who love the Word of God, and to those mainly I must appeal, that the reason why the natural man rejects the sinners of God is not because they are foolish; then there must be some other reason.


The reasons are to be found in themselves. And what are those reasons? The apostle tells us they cannot receive them, for they are foolishness unto them. I think he means they cannot receive them, first of all, for want of taste. You have sometimes seen a man standing before a splendid picture. It was painted by Raphael, or Rubens, or Titiens, and he stands and admires it. "What a noble countenance!" says he, "How well the colouring has been placed! How excellently he understands his lights and shadows! What a fine conception! I could stand a week and admire that splendid picture." Some country bumpkin, who is walking through the gallery, hears what our friend the artist is saying, and he says, "I should not like to stand a week and look at it, it looks to me to be an old decayed piece of canvas that wants cleaning. "I do not think the world would be much the worse if it should all get cleaned off." He walks through the gallery, and notices that on the wall outside there is a great daub a picture of an elephant standing on its head, and a clown or two performing in some circus, and he says, "That's beautiful; that's just my taste." Now you blame our country friend because he cannot admire that which is really excellent, but finds a great deal more satisfaction in a common daub plastered on the wall. It would be quite correct to say of him that he cannot receive the beauties of refinement and taste, because he has never been in any way instructed in the matter; he has a want of taste for such things. Just so is it with the natural man. Give him some work of fiction a daub upon the wall. Give him some fine piece of imagination; (and what is that when compared with the word of him that spake from heaven?) and he is satisfied. But before the book of God, before the revelation of the Most High, of the All-Wise, he stands and he sees nothing; nothing to admire; nothing to enchant his heart; nothing to kindle his imagination; nothing to enlist his faith; nothing to arouse his powers; nothing to excite his hopes. Surely there in a sad want of taste here, and the natural man, for want of taste for such things, loves not the things of God.

But it is not merely for want of taste, it is for want of organs by which to appreciates the third. Here is a blind man, and we have taken him upon a pilgrimage to the summit of a mountain. What a landscape, my friend; what a landscape! What do you think of it? "Not much," says he. Why, look at those lakes there melting into one! Do you not see the mountain yonder across the valley? What a variety of colors upon its sides! Did ever you see such a blending of colors as that which is here produced by the Great Artist? And there, cannot you see yonder clouds how nobly they sail along? Look downward. What a pleasant sight is that village which seems to have diminished till it looks like a few children's toys put together there in sport. And now turn yonder and see that winding river like a thread of silver going through the emerald fields what a magnificent view! What do you think of it, my friend? "I do not think much of it," says he. You are astonished. At last you say, "Well, if you do not think something of this, you must be blind." "That is just what I am," says he, "and of course I do not think much of this when I am blind." Now that natural man is blind. The eye of the Christian is his faith; but the natural man, being destitute of a living faith in thy living Saviour, is like a man without eyes. He says it is foolish; it is nothing to him. Do you think you could get a blind man to count down hundreds of pounds for a single picture? It is of no use to him. What would a deaf man give to go where you hear the sweetest singing that ever trilled from human lips? "Oh! no," thinks he, "it is foolish." He can hardly understand why men should spend their money and give the time to listen to the numerous combinations of sound produced by a Handel. Or if blind, he cannot comprehend why men should build long galleries and hang their fortunes out in pictures, or why they should travel to the Alps, or wish to cross the sea to view the mighty wonders of other lands. "No," says he, "it is foolish and trivial; better stop at home; there is nothing in it." So is it with the natural man. He lacks the organs, he has no ear of faith, no eye of faith, and he cannot therefore receive the things of God; they are foolishness to him.

But more than this not only does he lack taste and lack organs, but he actually lacks the nature which could appreciate these things. I will tell you a fable. There was a certain swine exceedingly learned among its class. It had studied the flavour of all manners of seeds, and fruits, and acorns, and knew right well, by long calculations and experience, the right time when the trough would be full, and when it would be time for it to come forth from its resting place. Greatly respected was this aged swine, and considered by its fellows to be one of the great dignitaries of the stye, and one day it enlightened its fellows by a speech to this effect: "I saw," said he, "the other night, by the light of the moon, a man poor simple man that he was, looking through a long tube at the stars. Now I thought within myself that surely he was mad. If he had been scraping up acorns, there would have been some common sense in it; if he had been getting together husks, why there would have been something practical in it, but for a man with two feet and two hands, to be letting them be still, and only using his eyes to look up at the stars ah! he must be a fanatic and an enthusiast; he is not as sensible and practical as you and I are, who are content so long as we get our barley meal regularly, and can creep back and lie down again in our straw." And all his audience grunted their approbation. They said at once that this human being was far inferior to the swine in the matter of practical wisdom. Do not smile, perhaps you belong to these gentry yourselves. I heard a human swine say the other day mark, a human swine it was one who sometimes could look through a telescope, and this human swine said, "Ah! there you are! You are going to your chapel on Thursday night, and to your prayer-meeting on the Monday, and you spend hours in praying and reading your Bible; it is fanaticism. Now, I am the man for common-sense; I stick to my business, I do. I say, 'Leave these things to take care of themselves.' I am looking out for the present; I am practical, I am." And those that were by, grunted their approval, like human swine, as they were, and if a really spiritual man had been present he would not have wondered, but he would have said, "Every being to its taste; these are natural men, and they set up their own nature; it is a swinish nature, and they act up to their swinish spirit." He would not have been angry with them, but he would have pitied them. Poor things, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." "What a degrading simile!" saith one. It is, sir, but not more degrading than human nature is. "Why you make us out to be inferior to Christians then! "Of course you are. As much as the brute is inferior to a man, so is a mere natural man inferior to a spiritually-minded man, because we rise by three steps of the ladder. There is the animal, he lacks intellect. God gives intellect, and there comes the man; God gives his Spirit, and then comes the Christian, but the Christian is a higher and nobler creature than the mere offspring of Adam. Just as much as the second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, exceeds the first Adam, who was but made of the dust of the earth, so do the seed of the second Adam exceed all the offspring of the first Adam; rising to a higher life, to greater dignities, and to a nobler destiny than they.


Do you not perceive, men and brethren, that if what I have stated be true there is absolute necessity for regeneration, or the work of the Spirit? An absolute necessity, I say, because in no one single instance can it be dispensed with. You may educate a nature till it should attain the highest point, but you cannot educate an old nature into a new one. You may educate a horse, but you cannot educate it into a man. You shall train the bird that sits upon your finger but you cannot train a limpet into an eagle, nor is it possible for you to train by the best instruction the natural man into a spiritual man. Between the two there is still a great gulf fixed. But cannot the natural man, by great efforts long-continued at last come to be spiritual? No, he cannot. Let the fish in the water wish as much as ever it likes, and despite Dr. Darwin's hypothesis, I aver that no pike by all its wishing ever wished itself into an ostrich, and that no single minnow was ever known to make itself into a lark. It may get as high as its own nature can get it but not beyond; it is a transformation which only the Divine Being can effect. So you may by your own efforts make yourselves the best of natural men. You may become the most patriotic of statesmen, you may become the most sober and discreet of moralists, you may become the kindest and most benevolent of philanthropists, but into a spiritual man you cannot bring yourself. Do what you will, and still at your very best there is a division wide as eternity between you and the regenerate man. But cannot another man help us out of such a nature into a state of grace? No, by no means; as man is powerless for himself, so is he powerless for his fellow. The priest may dip his pretentious fingers into the water which he professes to have sanctified, and may put the drops upon the infant's brow but that the child is regenerate is a lie. He may take the child in after-life into the baptismal pool if he will, and there bury him agreeably to the apostle's metaphor, but that by immersion any more than by sprinkling a soul can be regenerate, is a gross and infamous lie. He may put his hand upon his head and bless him in God's name, he may perform divers enchantments over him, and conclude at last with the final sacred greasing, and dispatch his spirit with extreme unction into another world but to regenerate another man is as impossible to our fellow-men as to create a world or to make another heaven, and rival the majesty of Deity. How, then, is it to be done? The Spirit of God alone can do it. O sirs! this is a great mystery, but you must know it if you would be saved, it is a solemn secret, but it is one which must be known in your consciences, or else shut out from heaven you must be. The Spirit of God must new make you, ye must be born again. "If a man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new." The same power which raised Christ Jesus from the dead must he exerted in raising us from the dead, the very same omnipotence, without which angels or worms could not have had a being, must again step forth out of its privy-chamber, and do as great a work as it did at the first creation in making us anew in Christ Jesus our Lord. There have been attempts at all times to get rid of this unpleasant necessity. Constantly the Christian Church itself tries to forget it, but as often as ever this old doctrine of regeneration is brought forward pointedly, God is pleased to favor his Church with a revival. The doctrine which looks at first as though it would hush every exertion with indolence, and make men sit down with listlessness and despair, is really like the trump of God to awake the dead, and where it is fully and faithfully preached, though it grate upon the carnal ear, though it excite enmity in many against the man who dares to proclaim it, yet it is owned of God. Because it honors God, God will honor it. This was the staple preaching of Whitfield, and it was by the preaching of this that he was made as the mighty angel flying through the midst of heaven preaching the everlasting gospel to every creature. He was always great upon that which he called the great R Regeneration. Whenever you heard him, the three R's came out clearly Ruin, Regeneration, and Redemption! Man ruined, wholly ruined, hopelessly helplessly, eternally ruined! Man regenerated by the Spirit of God, and by the Spirit of God alone wholly made a new creature in Christ! Man redeemed, redeemed by precious blood from all his sins, not by works of righteousness, not by deeds of the law, not by ceremonies, prayers, or resolutions, but by the precious blood of Christ! Oh! we must be very pointed, and very plain about regeneration, for this is the very pith and marrow of the matter "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Another practical inference. If you and I, or any of us, have received the things of the Spirit of God, we ought to look upon that as comfortable evidence that we have been born again. What say you, my hearer? Does your faith lay her hand this morning upon the head of Christ, and take him to be your Saviour, your teacher, and your all? If so, blessed art thou, for flesh and blood have not revealed this unto thee. Or does thy spirit this morning not only agree to the truth of divine election, of assured redemption, and of the finished work and immutable love of Christ; but dost thou love the truth in thy heart as well as agree to it in the head? If so, the natural man receiveth not these things, therefore thou art no natural man; but the Spirit of God has brought thee into his kingdom, because he has enabled thee to receive his truth. Precious is faith indeed, because it assuredly evidences to us what is beyond the reach of our senses. You can't tell whether you are born again or not, except by your faith. There will be no difference in your face, there will be no difference in your flesh, nor even in your mental characteristics; you may remain to a great extent the same man as far as mind and body are concerned; but faith that which was not there before faith is the grand symptom which betokens returning health; it is the flag hung out upon the castle of the soul, showing that the King is the secret tenant in the state-room of the soul, it is the light which shows that the sun has risen; it is the morning star which heralds the full illumination and meridian sunlight of eternal glory. Prize your faith, ask for more of it, but look upon it as being an evidence that you have passed from death unto life.

And, lastly, my dear hearers, how this text shows you the necessity of accompanying all your efforts to do good with earnest prayer to God! "Old Adam is too strong for young Melancthon." When we first begin to preach, we think that the doctrines that are so sweet to us will be sure to be sweet to other people; and when persons begin to abuse and find fault we are so astonished. Oh! if we had begun to learn the truth a little better, we should not be astonished at all, except when any receive the truth, for that we should always think to be the greatest miracle of all. You have been trying to teach your child, and it is not converted yet. Ah! don't marvel, but take your child in the arms of your prayer to the spirit of God, and say, "O Lord, I cannot put the truth into this child, for it cannot receive it: do thou renew its heart, and then it shall receive the truth indeed! "And specially may I ask your continued and earnest prayers for me. What is the minister of Christ to do? He has to speak to a mountain and bid it be removed. Can his words remove it? He has to speak to fire and bid it change its nature into water. He has to speak to the dead, and say, "Ye dry bones, live! "Is not his ministry a foolish and a futile thing unless the Spirit of God be with him? I pray you then, be instant in your prayers to God. Strive earnestly at the throne of grace for all the ministers of the New Testament, that power may be bestowed upon them, for we are better at home than here if the Spirit of God be not with us. In vain, O ye unbelievers, ye sound your trumpets! in vain, O ye Gideons, ye break your pitchers that the light may shine in vain, ye Jonahs, ye cry through the midst of the wretched city! in vain, ye Peters, ye preach even to peoples of many nations! If the Spirit come not down from on high like tongues of fire, if God send not life, and energy, and light with the Word, ye shall go back without your sheaves, ye shall return without success, wearied by disappointment, damaged by fear and ready to lay down and die. But oh! if thou comest forth, O Spirit of God! there is not a preacher in the corner of the streets who shall not win his souls; there is not a minister to-day in the humblest conventicle, in the lowest of back streets, which shall not be made like Peter on the Pentecostal day, there is not one feeble man or woman teaching children in the Sabbath-school who shall not become a winner of souls when the Spirit of God is with him!

Of all that I have taught this morning, this is the sum. Man is dead in sin, and life is a gift of God. You who have received it should plead with God that that gift should be bestowed on others. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned."

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.