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The Object of Christ's Death
A Sermon Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, September 20th, 1896, Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON, At the Newington. On Lord's-day Evening, August 15th, 1886.
"Who gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Galatians 1:4-5 .
THE APOSTLE PAUL, in his writings, is notable for the fact that he scarcely ever mentions the name of the Lord Jesus Christ without pausing to praise and bless him. There are many benedictions and hallelujahs in Paul's Epistles, which might have been omitted so far as the run of the sense is concerned, but not one of them could be omitted because his heart was so aglow with love to his Divine Master that he only needed to mention that dear name, and out burst his praises in a moment. Brethren, let us all try to keep a heart like the apostle's, so full of love to Christ that we have only to come across his track, and we shall at once fall down, and worship and adore him, or upon the wings of holy love mount up nearer to his throne. I can see the great wisdom of the apostle in acting in such a fashion as this. He is about to write to these Galatians concerning their leaving the gospel; what is the best way to make them sorry for turning aside from the faith? Why, to set before them Jesus Christ himself, who is the very essence and glory of the gospel. I have heard of one who preached much against certain errors, but there was another servant of the Lord who never preached against those errors, but who always proclaimed the gospel right out straight; and when one asked him why he did not attack the errors, he said, "I do preach against them most effectually. If there is a crooked stick about, and you want to show how many crooks there are in it, you need not do anything except lay a straight one down by the side of it, and the crookedness of the other stick will be detected at once." So the apostle admires, extols, and adores the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus, in the best possible manner, introduces what he has to say concerning the errors of the Galatians. Oh, for a burst of sunlight from the face of Christ! Then would the shadows of to-day soon fly away. They who have never seen him may love modern novelties and falsehoods; but if they have beheld his face, and have been won by his charms, they will hold that he who is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever, is infinitely to be preferred to all the inventions of men. I could say no less than this when I noticed the position in which our text is placed. I. First, then, WHAT DID OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AIM AT WITH REGARD TO HIS PEOPLE? To preserve them from going down into the pit? To rescue them from hell? To bring them to heaven? Yes, all that; but more than that. His great aim with regard to his people is to deliver them from this present evil world. We are living in this present evil world; and as Paul called it by that name, we need not alter the phrase, for we cannot help knowing that it is still an evil world, and in it are God's redeemed and chosen people, by nature part and parcel of that world, equally fallen, equally estranged from God, equally set on mischief, equally certain to go down into the pit of destruction if left to themselves. The object of Christ is to carve out a people from this great brook of stone; it is his purpose to find his own people, who were given to him or ever the earth was, and to deliver them from the bondage and the slavery in which they are found in this Egypt, of which they seem to form a part, though to the eye of Christ they are always as separate and distinct as the Israelites were when they dwelt in the land of Goshen. First, Christ came that he might deliver his people from this common condemnation of this present evil world. This is the City of Destruction which is to be burned with fire, and Christ's business is to fetch his people out of it. Therefore he sends his evangelists to cry to them, "Flee from the wrath to come; tarry not in the city, but escape for your lives; you are in a doomed world, which will certainly be destroyed, therefore, fly to the only shelter from the coming storm." The Lord desires that we should be so clear of this world that, when it is condemned, we may not share in the condemnation. It is Christ's purpose to bring us into a state of justification before God, through his blood and righteousness, that we may not perish in the common wreck in the day when the world shall be consumed with fire; but that we may have our ark wherein, as righteous Noah was preserved from the deluge of water, we may be saved from the fiery floods of divine wrath. The-Lord Jesus Christ came into the world that he might deliver us from that condemnation which now rests upon all the race of Adam except those who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel. This, then, is the great object of Christ's death, to deliver us from the world's condemnation, and to deliver us from the world's condition. Hence, he has come to deliver us from the spirit of the world. The spirit of the world is, "I can swim; so, if everybody else be drowned, there will then be the more room for me." "I fight for my own hand," says the worldling, "and if, in the process, I crush the widow and the fatherless, I cannot help that, they should not get in my way." The rules of political economy do not permit of anything like mercy; they are as inflexible as the laws of nature. They are something after this fashion, "Grind down the poor; get as much as ever you can out of them for as little money as possible. Care for nobody but yourself. Mind the main chance; make money, honestly if you can, but if not, make it anyhow; only keep clear of the law, for it would be a mistake to fall into its clutches." Now, Christ has come to gather out of the world's people who will not be possessed with this detestable spirit, but who will resolve to live for others rather than for themselves. We are to consider those who are around us, and to think what influence our conduct will have upon them. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves; we are to love even our enemies; we are to do good to the unthankful and to the evil. We are in all ways, and according to the measure of our ability, to copy the example of our Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to shine and his rain to fall upon the evil as well as upon the good. O friends, see what Christ has come to do, even to separate unto himself a people like unto himself out of this present evil world! O brothers and sisters, were the martyrs as brave as this, and are we going to yield to whatever laws and rules the world lives to lay down for us? Do we mean to believe its current theology, or philosophy, and do or not do as it may dictate? For my part, "I would as lief not be as live to be in awe of such a thing as I myself." Since Christ has given me my liberty, I am his servant; and whether I am in the fashion or out of the fashion, is no concern of mine so long as I please him. Dear friends, let it be so with you, I pray you, and may the Lord daily divide you more and more from the world, so that, at home or abroad, everybody can see that you are not of the world! Love men, seek their good, and in the highest and best sense be far more loving to the world than the world is to itself; but still, fear it not. Why should you? It is "the present evil world" which "lieth in the wicked one." It is for you bravely to bear your protest against the world every day you live, for to this end did he come to this earth, "that he might deliver us from this present evil world." The answer of the text is, "He gave himself." I will not say that he gave his royal crown, that diadem which did outshine the sun; I will not say that he laid aside his azure rest, and hung it on the sky as he came down to earth; I will not say that he gave up for us the thrones and royalties of heaven. You know that he did all this, and far more; nor need I remind you that, when upon earth, he gave up all that he had, even to his last garment, for they parted his raiment among them, and for his vesture did they cast lots. I need not say that he gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, nor that he gave his hands to the nails, and his feet to the cruel iron. I need not say that he gave his body, his soul, and his spirit, but you have it all in these three words: "He gave himself." How does the death of Christ deliver us from the world? It does this by removing from us the condemnation of our sin. Having borne our sins in his own body on the tree, Christ has for ever freed us from the penalty that was our due. You know that is the very essence of the gospel; and you also know that I preach this truth every time I stand here, so I need not enlarge upon it now. I may add that Christ has also delivered us from the world by the splendor of his example in giving himself to die for his enemies, and by the glory of his infinite merit, whereby he purchased back that image of God in Adam which sin had obliterated. He gave himself, the very image of God, and more than that, God himself, that he might give back to us that image of God which long ago we had lost. Thus has Christ delivered us from this present evil world; judge ye, sirs, whether he has thus delivered you. First, because our holiness was included in the purpose of God. The text says, "According to the will of God and our Father." Mr. Charles Simeon used to say that there were some, in his day, who thought that the very word "predestination" sounded almost like blasphemy; and I have no doubt that there are some left who cannot bear to hear of the will and the purpose of God, but to us these words sound like sweetest music. I do not believe that there ever would have been a man delivered from this present evil world if it had not been according to the will, the purpose, the predestination of God, even our Father. It needs a mighty tug to get a man away from the world. It is a miracle for a man to live in the world, and yet not to be of it; it is a continuous miracle of so vast a kind that I am sure it would never have been wrought if it had not been according to the will of God our Father. Yet so it stood in the divine decree, that there should be a people chosen from among men, a people who should be called out from among the mass of the ungodly, who should be drawn by supernatural power to follow after that which is right and good and holy, who should be washed in the blood of Jesus, and renewed by the Holy Spirit in the spirit of their minds, and henceforth should be a peculiar people, in the world but not of it, the people of God set apart unto himself, to be his now, and his hereafter for ever and ever. I delight to remember that this is the will of God, even our sanctification, our separation from the world. IV. Lastly, WHAT SHALL WE SAY CONCERNING IT ALL? Why, just this, "To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Well then, has Jesus Christ delivered us from the world? Have we fled to him, and been pardoned? Are we accepted in the Beloved? Then, let us begin to glorify God now. Let us glorify his dear Son, let us praise him. Let every beat of our heart tell out our joyous thankfulness, and so continually yield sweet music unto God. I would that every breath were like a verse of a psalm, and our whole life an endless hallelujah to his glory.
"I would begin the music here, And so my soul should rise: Oh for some heavenly notes to bear My passions to the skies;"
for it is indeed a subject of great praise to be separated from the world, and to be made holy unto the Lord. O you poor souls who are still in the world, God help you to get out of it! O you who are lost and ruined, there is no hope for you but in Jesus Christ our Savior! Tell all men about him, brethren and sisters. You who are saved, talk about Christ everywhere; let no man whom you ever meet be without a knowledge of the way of salvation. "I do not know what to say," says one; "I do not know much about it myself yet." Do not say it, then, if you do not know it; but, if you do know it, tell it. If you have tasted and handled it, tell of it as best you can; in broken English, if in no other style,
"Tell to sinners round What a dear Savior you have found."
So, even through you, the purpose for which Christ bled shall be accomplished, that is, the severance of his elect from the great mass of mankind among whom they lie, and this shall be to the praise of the glory of his grace for ever and ever. Amen.
This matchless chapter contains that great intercessory prayer of Christ for his people which may most properly be called "the Lord's prayer." What a sight it must have been to see the Divine Intercessor in this his last great prayer before he poured out his soul unto death! We can never read this chapter so as fully to enter into its meaning, for there must always be in it a depth far greater than our experience can fathom. A man must die, and enter heaven, before he can fully realize all that Christ meant when he said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." Notice the doctrine of this verse. Here is the mention both of a general and a particular relation to Christ. "Thou hast given him power over all flesh." Never think of setting a limit to the value of Christ's atoning sacrifice, never dream that you can understand all its influences and all its bearings; by his death, Christ has power over all flesh. But notice also the special purpose and object of redemption, observe how it applies particularly to the elect of God. The motive for the Father's giving to Christ power over all flesh is this, "that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." The knowledge of God, and the knowledge of the Messiah, the Sent One, this is not only life, but it is life that can never die: "This is life eternal." Have you, dear friend, received this eternal life? Do you know the only true God? Do you know Jesus Christ whom he has sent? Then, at this very moment, you possess eternal life, and you shall never perish, for eternal life is a life that cannot possibly die. This is such a prayer as never could have been prayed by a mere man and you cannot understand this prayer at all apart from the manhood and the Deity of Christ combined. No human being could have written such a prayer as this even if it had been proposed to him to write a prayer that should be equally suitable to God and man. It is only suitable to Christ, the God-man, and it is in itself one of the best evidences of the inspiration of Scripture. I dare take my stand upon this chapter alone, and say that here we have the finger of God, the writing of the Holy Ghost, and here we have the very words of him who was God and man in one person. How gracious it was on our Lord's part to say the best he could of his disciples! These twelve men had learned but little of the Divine Word, but they had believed what they had been taught; so Jesus could say of them to his Father, "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word." I want you to notice how the Lord Jesus Christ makes no boast of being "an original thinker." On the contrary, he says to his Father concerning his disciples, "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me." I would rather repeat the Word of God, syllable by syllable, than I would dare to think for myself apart from the revealed will of God. What are men's thoughts, after all, but vanity deduced from vanity? But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever; it shall abide when even heaven and earth shall pass away. Hence our Savior lays great stress upon this fact, "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me." Brother minister, may you and I, when we come to die, be able to say to the Lord concerning our people, "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me." In this, our Lord's last great intercessory prayer, he was especially engaged in petitions for his own people. There is a sense in which he intercedes for all mankind; but in the higher and more special sense referred to in this verse, Christ's own chosen ones occupied all his thoughts: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." Christ is God, and therefore, looking into the future, he can speak of his approaching departure as though it had already happened. See the plaintive power of this prayer of a tender heart. First, our Lord shows his love by praying for us, and then by dying for us. Notice what importance he attaches to the unity of his people: "that they may be one, as we are." Let us all try to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." I suppose that, while we are in this world, we shall never all think alike; but let us all think alike about our Lord, and gather to his name, and feel a holy unity through his Spirit. When shall it be again said that all Christ's disciples have "one lord, one faith, one baptism"? Alas! they rent his seamless robe, and it still remains torn through the schisms and errors which divide his people one from another. These are sweet words with which to die. Oh, that you and I might have them in our hearts if not on our lips in our expiring moments! "And now come I to thee." Our Lord thinks nothing of the bloody way by which he was to go to the Father. What though the cross, and nails, and spear, are in the road? He thinks comparatively little of all those terrible things, for he looks beyond them, and he says, "Now come I to thee." Have you ever obtained this blessing, brethren, Christ's joy in you, what is more, Christ's joy fulfilled in you? God grant to all of us to know by happy experience the meaning of this wondrous expression! "Do not let the world so besmear and defile them as to do them mischief. Let them keep on as lamps burning in dark places. Take them not out of the world, but keep them from the evil." As the Father took Jesus out of the bosom of his love, and bade him go as his missionary to men, so does Jesus keep us for a while away from the bosom of his glory that we may stop here to be missionaries amongst our fellow-men. Are we fulfilling our calling? Are we justifying the commission which Christ has laid upon us? Oh, that we were doing so to the fullest extent that is possible to us! "For their sakes I set myself apart," This little handful of followers gathered about me, In the glass of prevision, Christ saw us, my brethren, and he saw all the myriads, yet unborn, who are to be gathered to his cross, and to bow before his feet, and he prayed for them all: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." Let us more and more lay aside everything that divides, especially that evil heart of unbelief, and pride, and self-seeking, which is the great sect making faculty. May we get rid of that evil, and come more and more to realize that all men who are really in Christ and God must be one. If we are members of one body, one blood courses through our veins, and gives us life. One Spirit is in the one body of Christ. There cannot be two lives, there cannot be two beings within the one body of Christ. All true believers must be one, and truly, if we speak truth to one another concerning our Lord, and especially if we speak much to God together in prayer, we straightway perceive that we are one. Here the Master ended his sweet prayer, and went off to his terrible passion in Gethsemane.
A Sermon Intended for Reading on Lord's-day, January 25th, 1891. Delivered on Friday Morning, April 25th, 1890, by C. H. SPURGEON, At an Assembly of Ministers of the Gospel.
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man" Galatians 1:11 .
TO ME it is a pitiful sight to see Paul defending himself as an apostle; and doing this, not against the gainsaying world, but against cold-hearted members of the church. They said that he was not truly an apostle, for he had not seen the Lord; and they uttered a great many other things derogatory to him. To maintain his claim to the apostleship, he was driven to commence his epistles with "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ," though his work was a self-evident proof of his call. If, after God has blessed us to the conversion of many, some of these should raise a question as to our call to the ministry, we may count it a fiery trial; but we shall not conclude that a strange thing has happened to us. There is much more room to question our call to the ministry than to cast a doubt upon Paul's apostleship. This indignity, if it be put upon us, we can cheerfully bear for our Master's sake. We need not wonder, dear brethren, if our ministry should be the subject of attack, because this has been the lot of those who have gone before us; and we should lack one great seal of our acceptance with God if we did not receive the unconscious homage of enmity which is always paid to the faithful by the ungodly world. When the devil is not troubled by us, he does not trouble us. If his kingdom is not shaken, he will not care about us or our work, but will let us enjoy inglorious ease. Be comforted by the experience of the apostle of the Gentiles: he is peculiarly our apostle, and we may regard his experience as a type of what we may expect while we labor among the Gentiles of our own day. To come more closely to our text. We do not claim to be able to use Paul's words exactly in the full sense which he could throw into them; but there is a sense in which, I trust, we can each one say, "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man." We may not only say this, but we ought to be able to say it with thorough truthfulness. The form of expression goes as far as Paul was wont to go towards an oath when he says, "I certify you, brethren." He means, I assure you, most certainly I would have you to be certain of it "that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man." On this point he would have all the brethren certified past all doubt. I. First, TO US THE GOSPEL IS NOT AFTER MEN AS TO THE NODE BY WHICH WE HAVE RECEIVED IT. In a certain sense we received it from men as to the outward part of the reception, for we were called by the grace of God through parental influence, or through a Sabbath-school teacher, or by the ministry of the Word, or by the reading of a godly book, or by other agency. But in Paul's case none of these things were used. He was distinctly called by the Lord Jesus Christ himself speaking to him from heaven, and revealing himself in his own light. It was necessary that Paul should not be indebted to Peter, or James, or John, even in the way in which many of us are indebted to instrumentality; so that he might truly say, "I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Yet we also can say this in another sense. We also have received the gospel in a way beyond the power of man to convey it to us: men brought it to our ear, but the Lord himself applied it to our heart. The best of the saints could not have brought it home to our hearts, so as to regenerate, convert, and sanctify us by it. There was a distinct act of God the Holy Ghost by which the instrumentality was made effectual, and the truth was rendered operative upon our souls. Brethren, we have not received the gospel, nor do we now receive it, because of the teaching of any man, or set of men. Do you receive anything because Calvin taught it? If so, you had need look to your foundations. Do you believe a doctrine because John Wesley preached it? If so, you have reason to mind what you are at. God's way, by which we are to receive the truth, is to receive it by the Holy Ghost. It is helpful to me to know what such and such a minister believed. The judgment of a holy, godly, clear-sighted, gifted divine is not to be despised: it deserves to have due weight with us. He is as likely to be right as we are; and we should differ from a grace-taught man with some hesitancy. But it is a very different thing to say, "I believe it on this good man's authority." In our raw state as young Christians, it may not be injurious to receive truth from pastors and parents, and so on; but if we are to become men in Christ Jesus, and teachers of others, we must quit the childish habit of dependence on others, and search for ourselves. We may now leave the egg, and get rid of the pieces of shell as quickly as may be. It is our duty to search the Scriptures to see whether these things be so; and more, it is our wisdom to cry for grace to appropriate each truth, and let it dwell in our inmost nature. It is time that we should be able to say, "This truth is now as personally my own as if I had never heard it from lip of man. I receive it because it has been written on my own heart by the Lord himself. Its coming to me is not after men." Furthermore, I hope I shall speak for all of you here when I say that we have received the truth personally by the revelation of it to our own souls by the Spirit of the Lord. Albeit that in so large a company as this I fear there may be a Judas, and the Lord, is it I?" may well be passed round with holy self-suspicion; yet we can all say, unless fearfully deceived, that we have received the truth which we preach by the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit. Let us turn to our diaries, though the dates are now far away in the long-ago. We remember when the light broke in, and revealed our lost estate, and thus began the ground-work of our teaching. Ah, friends! the darker doctrines which make up the foil of the priceless jewels of the gospel, do you not remember when you received them with power? That I was guilty, I believed, for I was so taught; but then and there I knew in my soul that it was so. Oh, how I knew it! Guilty before God, "condemned already," and lying under the present curse of a broken law, I was sore dismayed. I had heard the law of God preached, and I had trembled as I heard it; but now I felt an inward conviction of personal guilt of the most piercing character. I saw myself a sinner; and what a sight is that! Fearfulness took hold upon me, and shame and dread. Then I saw how true was the doctrine of the sinfulness of sin; and what a punishment it must involve. That doctrine I no longer received of men. Yes, those gracious men who have gone to heaven did preach the gospel to us fully and earnestly, and they labored to make known Christ to us; but to reveal the Son of God in us was beyond their power. They could as easily have created a world as have made these truths vital to us. We say, therefore, each one from his inmost soul, "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man;" so far as the way by which we have come to know and feel it within our own souls. How sweetly the Spirit has taught us in meditation! Have you not often been surprised and overcome with delight as Holy Scripture has opened up, as if the gates of the golden city had been set back for you to enter? I am sure that you did not then gather your knowledge from men, because it was all fresh to you as you sat alone with no book before you but the Bible, and yourself receptive, scarcely thinking out matters, but drinking them in as the Lord brought them to you. A few minutes' silent openness of soul before the Lord has brought us in more treasure of truth than hours of learned research. The truth is something like those stalactite caverns and grottoes of which we have heard, which you must enter and see for yourself if you would really know their wonders. If you should venture there without light or guide, you would run great risks; but with blazing flambeaux, and an instructed leader, your entrance is full of interest. See! your guide has taken you through a narrow winding passage, where you have to creep, or go on bended knees! At last he has brought you out into a magnificent hall; and when the torches are held aloft, the far-off roof sparkles and flashes back the light as from countless jewels of every hue! You now behold nature's architecture; and cathedrals are henceforth toys to you. As you stand in that vast pillared and jewelled palace, you feel how much you owe to your guide, and to his flaming torch. Thus the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, and sheds light on the eternal and the mysterious. This he does in certain cases very personally. Then he fills us with complete forgetfulness of all our immediate surroundings, and we commune only with the truth. I can well understand how philosophers, while working out an absorbing problem, have seemed lost, and oblivious of all the world besides. Have you never felt a holy absorption in the truth while the Spirit has filled you with its glorious vision? It has been so with many of the saints while taught of God. They are not likely to give up to popular clamor what they have thus received. I may add, concerning many of the truths of God, and the whole gospel system, that we have learned the truth thereof in the field of sacrifice and service with our Lord, so that to us it is not after man. If you do not believe in human depravity, accept a pastorate in this wicked London, and if you are true to your commission, you will doubt no more! If you do not believe in the necessity of the Holy Spirit to regenerate, take a charge over the cultured and polished congregation, that will hear all your rhetoric, and will remain as worldly and as frivolous as it was before. If you do not believe in the power of the atoning blood, never go and see believers die, for you will find that they trust in nothing else. A dying Christ is the last resort of the believer.
When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my strength and stay.
If you do not believe in the election of grace, live where multitudes of men come under your notice, and persons most unlikely are called out from among them in surprising ways, and it will grow upon you. Here comes on who says, I have neither father, mother, brother, sister, nor friend who ever enters a place of worship. How came you to believe? I heard a word in the street, sir, quite by accident, that brought me to tremble before God. Here is the election of grace. Here comes another, dark in mind, troubled in soul, and she is a member of a family all of them members of your church, all happy and rejoicing in the Lord; and yet this poor creature cannot lay hold upon Christ by faith. To your great joy, you set before her Christ in all his fullness of grace, and she becomes the brightest of the whole circle; for they never knew the darkness as she did, and they can never rejoice in the light as she delights in it. To find a greatly-loving saint you must find one who has had much forgiven. The woman that was a sinner is the only one that will wash Christ's feet. There is raw material in a Publican which you seldom find in a Pharisee. A Pharisee may polish up into an ordinary Christian; but somehow there is a charming touch about the pardoned sinner which is lacking in the other. There is an election of grace, and you cannot help noticing, as you go about, how certain believers enter into the inner circle, while others linger in the outer courts. The Lord is sovereign in his gifts, and doeth as he wills; and we are called to bow before his scepter within the church as well as at its portal. The longer I live the more sure I am that salvation is all of the grace, and that the Lord gives that grace according to his own will and purpose. What is unction, my brethren? I fear that no one can help me by a definition. Who can define it? But yet we know where it is, and we certainly feel where it is not. When that unction perfumes the Word, it is its own interpreter, it is its own apologist, it is it own confirmation and proof, to the regenerate mind. Then the Word of God deals with us as no word of man ever did or could. We have not received it, therefore, of men. Constantly receiving the divine Word as we do, it comes to us with an energy ever fresh and forcible. It comes to us especially with a sanctifying power, which is the very best proof of its coming from the thrice-holy God. Philosophers words may teach us what holiness is, but God's Word makes us holy. We hear our brethren exhort us to aspire to high degrees of grace, but God's Word lifts us up to them. The Word is not merely an instrument of good, but the Holy Spirit makes it an active energy within the soul to purge the heart from the sin, so that it can be said, Ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. When thus cleansed, you know that the Word is true. You are sure of it, and you no longer need even the most powerful book of evidences. You have the witness in yourself, the evidence of things not seen, the seal of eternal verity. II. TO US THE TRUTH ITSELF IS NOT AFTER MEN. I desire to assert this plainly. If any man thinks that the gospel is only one of many religions, let him candidly compare the Scripture of God with other pretended revelations. Have you ever done so? I have made it a College exercise with our brethren. I have said We will read a chapter of the Koran. This is the Mahometan's holy book. A man must have a strange mind who should mistake that rubbish for the utterances of inspiration. If he is at all familiar with the Old and New Testaments, when he hears an extract from the Koran, he feels that he has met with a foreign author: the God who gave us the Pentateuch could have had no hand in many portions of the Koran. One of the most modern pretenders to inspiration is the Book of Mormon. I could not blame you should you laugh outright while I read aloud a page from that farrago. Perhaps you know the Protevangelion, and other apocryphal New Testament books. It would be an insult to the judgement of the least in the kingdom of heaven to suppose that he could mistake the language of these forgeries for the language of the Holy Ghost. I have had several pretended revelations submitted to me by their several authors; for we have more of the prophetic clan about than most people know of; but no one of them has ever left on my mind the slightest suspicion of his sharing the inspiration of John, or Paul. There is no mistaking the inspired Books if you have any spiritual discernment. Once let the divine light dawn in the soul, and you perceive a colouring and a fashion in the product of inspiration which are not possible to mere men. Would one who doubts this write us a fifth Gospel? Would anyone among our poets attempt to write a new Psalm, which could be mistaken for a Psalm of David? I do not see why he could not, but I am sure he cannot. You can give us new psalmody, for it is an instinct of the Christian life to sing the praises of God; but you cannot match the glory of divinely-inspired song. Therefore we receive the Scripture, and consequently the gospel as not after man. The gospel, our gospel, is beyond the strain and reach of human thought. When men have exercised themselves to the very highest in original conceptions, they have never yet thought out the true gospel. If it is such a common-place thing as the critics would have us believe, why did it arise in the minds of the Egyptians or Chinese? Great minds often run in the same grooves as those of Moses, or Isaiah, or Paul? I think it is a fair thing to say that, if it is such a common-place form of teaching, it might have arisen among the Persians or Hindoos; or, surely, we might have found something like it among the great teachers of Greece. Did any of these think out the doctrine of free and sovereign grace? Did they guess at the Incarnation and Sacrifice of the Son of God? No, even with the aid of our inspired Book, no Mahometan, to my knowledge, has taught a system of grace in which God is glorified as to his justice, his love, and his sovereignty. That sect has grasped a certain sort of predestination which it has defaced into blind faith; but even with that to help them, and the unity of the Godhead as a powerful light to aid them, they have never thought out a plan of salvation so just to God and so pacifying to the troubled conscience as the method of redemption by the substitution of our Lord Jesus. It cannot be after men, again, because it is so opposed to human pride. Other systems flatter men, but this speaks the truth. Hear the dreamers of to-day cry up the dignity of human nature! How sublime is man! But point me to a single syllable in which the Word of God sets itself to the extolling of man. On the contrary, it lays him in the very dust, and reveals his condemnation. Where is boasting then? It is excluded: the door is shut in its face. The self-glorification of human nature is foreign to Scripture, which has for its grand object the glory of God. God is everything in the gospel which I preach, and I believe that he is all in all in your ministry also. There is a gospel in which the work and the glory are divided between God and man, and salvation is not altogether of grace; but in our gospel salvation is if the Lord. Man never could nor would have invented and devised a gospel which would lay him low, and secure to the Lord God all the honor and praise. This seems to me to be clear beyond all question; and hence our gospel is not after men. We know that gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not of men, because our gospel is so suitable for the poor and illiterate. The poor, according to the usual fashion of men, are overlooked. Parliament has enclosed all the commons, so that a poor man cannot keep a goose; I doubt not that, if it were likely to be effectual, we should soon hear of a Bill for distributing freeholds of the stars among certain sky-lords. It is evident that a fine property in the celestial regions is, at the present time, unregistered in any of our courts. Well, they may sooner enclose and assign the sun, moon, and stars than the gospel of our Lord Jesus. This is the poor man's common. The poor have the gospel preached to them. Yet there are not a few nowadays who despise a gospel which the common people can hear and understand; and we may be sure that a plain gospel never came from them, for their taste does not lie in that direction. They want something abstruse, or, as they say, thoughtful. Do we not hear this sort of remark, We are an intellectual people, and need a cultured ministry. Those evangelistic preachers are all very well for popular assemblies, but we have always been select and require that preaching which is abreast of the times? Yes, yes, and their man will be one who will not preach the gospel unless it be in a clouded manner; for if he does not declare the gospel of Jesus, the poor will be sure to intrude themselves, and shock my lords and ladies. Brethren, our gospel does not know anything about high and low, rich and poor, black and white, cultured and uncultured. If it makes any difference, it prefers the poor and down-trodden. The great Founder of it says, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. We praise God that he has chosen the base things, and things that are despised. I hear it boasted of a man's ministry, although it gradually diminishes the congregation, that it is doing a great work among thoughtful young men. I confess that I am not a believer in the existence of these thoughtful young men: those who mistake themselves for such I have generally found to be rather conceited than thoughtful. Young men are all very well, and so are young women, and old women also; but I am sent to preach the gospel to every creature, and I cannot limit myself to thoughtful young men. I certify to you that the gospel which I have preached is not after men, for it knows nothing of selection and exclusiveness, but it values the soul of a sweep or a dustman at the same price as that of the Lord Mayor, or her Majesty. My dear Brethren, do not try to make it tasteful to carnal minds. Hide not the offense of the cross, lest you make it of none effect. The angles and corners of the gospel are its strength: to pare them off is to deprive it of power. Toning down is not the increase of strength, but the death of it. Why, even among the sects, you must have noticed that their distinguishing points are the horns of their power; and when these are practically omitted, the sect is effete. Learn, then, that if you take Christ out of Christianity, Christianity is dead. If you remove grace out of the gospel, the gospel is gone. If the people do not like the doctrine of grace, give them all the more of it. Whenever its enemies rail at a certain kind of gun, a wise military power will provide more of such artillery. A great general, going in before his king, stumbled over his own sword. I see, said the king, your sword in is the way. The warrior answered, Your majesty's enemies have often felt the same. That our gospel offends the King's enemies is no regret to us. Next, let us, each one, expect opposition if he receives the truth from the Lord, and especially opposition from one person who is both near and dear to him namely, himself. There is a certain old man who is yet alive, and he is no lover of the truth; but, on the contrary, he is a partisan of falsehood. I heard a gracious policeman say that, when he stood in Trafalgar Square, and fellows of the baser sort kicked him and the other police, he felt a bone of the old man stirring within him. Ah, we have felt that bone too often! The carnal nature opposes the truth, for it is not reconciled to God, neither, indeed, can be. Let us pray the Lord to conquer our pride, that the truth may dominate us, despite our evil hearts. As to the outside world opposing, we are not at all alarmed by that fact, for it is exactly what we were taught to expect. We are now unmoved by opposition. The captain of a ship minds not if a little spray breaks over him. Let us also conclude from our subject that if these things come to us from God, we can safely rest our all upon them. If they came to us of men, they would probably fail us at a crisis. Did you ever trust men, and not rue the day ere the sun was down? Did you ever rely on an arm of flesh without discovering that the best of men are men at the best? But if these things come of God, they are eternal and all sufficient. We can both live and die upon the everlasting gospel. Let us deal more and more with God, and with him only. If we have obtained light from him, there is more of blessing to be had. Let us go to that same Teacher, that we may learn more of the deep things of God. Let us bravely believe in the success of the gospel which we have received. We believe in it: let us believe for it. We will not despair though the whole visible church should apostatize. When invaders had surrounded Rome, and all the country lay at their mercy, a piece of land was to be sold, and a Roman bought it at a fair value. The enemy was there, but he would be dislodged. The enemy might destroy the Roman State. Let him try it! Be you of the same mind. The God of Jacob is our Refuge, and none can stand against his eternal power and Godhead. The everlasting gospel is our banner, and with Jehovah to maintain it, our standard never shall be lowered. In the power of the Holy Ghost truth is invincible. Come on, ye hosts of hell and armies of the aliens! Let craft and criticism, rationalism and priestcraft do their best! The Word of the Lord endureth for ever even that Word which by the gospel is preached unto men.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON 2 Corinthians 4:0 .
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Galatians 1". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16