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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

John 6

Verse 4

Human Inability

March 7, 1858




"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw

him."-- John 6:44 .

Coming to Christ" is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is

used to express those acts of the soul wherein, leaving at once our self-

righteousness, and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and

receive his righteousness to be our covering, and his blood to be our

atonement. Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-

negation, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it sums within itself all

those things which are the necessary attendants of these great states of

heart, such as the belief of the truth, earnestness of prayer to God, the

submission of the soul to the precepts of God's gospel, and all those

things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to

Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner's salvation. He that

cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may, is yet in

"the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity." Coming to Christ is

the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened

than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for

a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and

reposes in him. Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain

that there is as yet no quickening; where there is no quickening, the

soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into

the kingdom of heaven. We have before us now an announcement very

startling, some say very obnoxious. Coming to Christ, though described

by some people as being the very easiest thing in all the world, is in our

text declared to be a thing utterly and entirely impossible to any man,

unless the Father shall draw him to Christ. It shall be our business, then,

to enlarge upon this declaration. We doubt not that it will always be

offensive to carnal nature, but, nevertheless, the offending of human

nature is sometimes the first step towards bringing it to bow itself

before God. And if this be the effect of a painful process, we can forget

the pain and rejoice in the glorious consequences.

I shall endeavour this morning, first of all, to notice man's inability,

wherein it consists. Secondly, the Father's drawings--what these are,

and how they are exerted upon the soul. And then I shall conclude by

noticing a sweet consolation which may be derived from this seemingly

barren and terrible text.

I. First, then, MAN'S INABILITY. The text says, "No man can come to

me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." Wherein does this

inability lie?

First, it does not lie in any physical defect. If in coming to Christ,

moving the body or walking with the feet should be of any assistance,

certainly man has all physical power to come to Christ in that sense. I

remember to have heard a very foolish Antinomian declare, that he did

not believe any man had the power to walk to the house of God unless

the Father drew him. Now the man was plainly foolish, because he must

have seen that as long as a man was alive and had legs, it was as easy

for him to walk to the house of God as to the house of Satan. If coming

to Christ includes the utterance of a prayer, man has no physical defect

in that respect, if he be not dumb, he can say a prayer as easily as he can

utter blasphemy. It is as easy for a man to sing one of the songs of Zion

as to sing a profane and libidinous song. There is no lack of physical

power in coming to Christ. All that can be wanted with regard to the

bodily strength man most assuredly has, and any part of salvation

which consists in that is totally and entirely in the power of man

without any assistance from the Spirit of God. Nor, again, does this

inability lie in any mental lack. I can believe this Bible to be true just as

easily as I can believe any other book to be true. So far as believing on

Christ is an act of the mind, I am just as able to believe on Christ as I

am able to believe on anybody else. Let his statement be but true, it is

idle to tell me I cannot believe it. I can believe the statement that Christ

makes as well as I can believe the statement of any other person. There

is no deficiency of faculty in the mind: it is as capable of appreciating

as a mere mental act the guilt of sin, as it is of appreciating the guilt of

assassination. It is just as possible for me to exercise the mental idea of

seeking God, as it is to exercise the thought of ambition. I have all the

mental strength and power that can possibly be needed, so far as mental

power is needed in salvation at all. Nay, there is not any man so

ignorant that he can plead a lack of intellect as an excuse for rejecting

the gospel. The defect, then, does not lie either in the body, or, what we

are bound to call, speaking theologically, the mind. It is not any lack or

deficiency there, although it is the vitiation of the mind, the corruption

or the ruin of it, which, after all, is the very essence of man's inability.

Permit me to show you wherein this inability of man really does lie. It

lies deep in his nature. Through the fall, and through our own sin, the

nature of man has become so debased, and depraved, and corrupt, that it

is impossible for him to come to Christ without the assistance of God

the Holy Spirit. Now, in trying to exhibit how the nature of man thus

renders him unable to come to Christ, you must allow me just to take

this figure. You see a sheep; how willingly it feeds upon the herbage!

You never knew a sheep sigh after carrion; it could not live on lion's

food. Now bring me a wolf; and you ask me whether a wolf cannot eat

grass, whether it cannot be just as docile and as domesticated as the

sheep. I answer, no; because its nature is contrary thereunto. You say,

"Well, it has ears and legs; can it not hear the shepherd's voice, and

follow him whithersoever he leadeth it ?" I answer, certainly; there is

no physical cause why it cannot do so, but its nature forbids, and

therefore I say it cannot do so. Can it not be tamed? cannot its ferocity

be removed? Probably it may so far be subdued that it may become

apparently tame; but there will always be a marked distinction between

it and the sheep, because there is a distinction in nature. Now, the

reason why man cannot come to Christ, is not because he cannot come,

so far as his body or his mere power of mind is concerned, but because

his nature is so corrupt that he has neither the will nor the power to

come to Christ unless drawn by the Spirit. But let me give you a better

illustration. You see a mother with her babe in her arms. You put a

knife into her hand, and tell her to stab that babe to the heart. She

replies, and very truthfully, "I cannot." Now, so far as her bodily power

is concerned, she can, if she pleases; there is the knife, and there is the

child. The child cannot resist, and she has quite sufficient strength in

her hand immediately to stab it to its heart. But she is quite correct

when she says she cannot do it. As a mere act of the mind, it is quite

possible she might think of such a thing as killing the child, and yet she

says she cannot think of such a thing; and she does not say falsely, for

her nature as a mother forbids her doing a thing from which her soul

revolts. Simply because she is that child's parent she feels she cannot

kill it. It is even so with a sinner. Coming to Christ is so obnoxious to

human nature that, although, so far as physical and mental forces are

concerned, (and these have but a very narrow sphere in salvation) men

could come if they would: it is strictly correct to say that they cannot

and will not unless the Father who hath sent Christ doth draw them. Let

us enter a little more deeply into the subject, and try to show you

wherein this inability of man consists, in its more minute particulars.

I. First, it lies in the obstinacy of the human will. "Oh!" saith the

Arminian, "men may be saved if they will." We reply, "My dear sir, we

all believe that; but it is just the if they will that is the difficulty. We

assert that no man will come to Christ unless he be drawn; nay, we do

not assert it, but Christ himself declares it--"Ye will not come unto me

that ye might have life;' and as long as that "ye will not come' stands on

record in Holy Scripture, we shall not be brought to believe in any

doctrine of the freedom of the human will." It is strange how people,

when talking about free-will, talk of things which they do not at all

understand. "Now," says one, "I believe men can be saved if they will."

My dear sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever

found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel

of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is

so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, and so inclined to

everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good,

that without the powerful. supernatural, irresistible influence of the

Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained towards Christ. You

reply, that men sometimes are willing, without the help of the Holy

Spirit. I answer--Did you ever meet with any person who was? Scores

and hundreds, nay, thousands of Christians have I conversed with, of

different opinions, young and old, but it has never been my lot to meet

with one who could affirm that he came to Christ of himself, without

being drawn. The universal confession of all true believers is this--"I

know that unless Jesus Christ had sought me when a stranger

wandering from the fold of God, I would to this very hour have been

wandering far from him, at a distance from him, and loving that

distance well." With common consent, all believers affirm the truth,

that men will not come to Christ till the Father who hath sent Christ

doth draw them.

2. Again, not only is the will obstinate, but the understanding is

darkened. Of that we have abundant Scriptural proof. I am not now

making mere assertions, but stating doctrines authoritatively taught in

the Holy Scriptures, and known in the conscience of every Christian

man--that the understanding of man is so dark, that hecannot by any

means understand the things of God until his understanding has been

opened. Man is by nature blind within. The cross of Christ, so laden

with glories, and glittering with attractions, never attracts him, because

he is blind and cannot see its beauties. Talk to him of the wonders of

the creation, show to him the many-coloured arch that spans the sky, let

him behold the glories of a landscape, he is well able to see all these

things; but talk to him of the wonders of the covenant of grace, speak to

him of the security of the believer in Christ, tell him of the beauties of

the person of the Redeemer, he is quite deaf to all your description; you

are as one that playeth a goodly tune, it is true; but he regards not, he is

deaf, he has no comprehension. Or, to return to the verse which we so

specially marked in our reading, "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;" and

inasmuch as he is a natural man, it is not in his power to discern the

things of God. "Well," says one, "I think I have arrived at a very

tolerable judgment in matters of theology; I think I understand almost

every point." True, that you may do in the letter of it; but in the spirit of

it, in the true reception thereof into the soul, and in the actual

understanding of it, it is impossible for you to have attained, unless you

have been drawn by the Spirit. For as long as that Scripture stands true,

that carnal men cannot receive spiritual things, it must be true that you

have not received them, unless you have been renewed and made a

spiritual man in Christ Jesus. The will, then, and the understanding, are

two great doors, both blocked up against our coming to Christ, and

until these are opened by the sweet influences of the Divine Spirit, they

must be for ever closed to anything like coming to Christ.

3. Again, the affections, which constitute a very great part of man, are

depraved. Man, as he is, before he receives the grace of God, loves

anything and everything above spiritual things. If ye want proof of this,

look around you. There needs no monument to the depravity of the

human affections. Cast your eyes everywhere--there is not a street, nor

a house, nay, nor a heart, which doth not bear upon it sad evidence of

this dreadful truth. Why is it that men are not found on the Sabbath Day

universally flocking to the house of God? Why are we not more

constantly found reading our Bibles? How is it that prayer is a duty

almost universally neglected? Why is it that Christ Jesus is so little

beloved? Why are even his professed followers so cold in their

affections to him? Whence arise these things? Assuredly, dear brethren,

we can trace them to no other source than this, the corruption and

vitiation of the affections. We love that which we ought to hate, and we

hate that which we ought to love. It is but human nature, fallen human

nature, that man should love this present life better than the life to

come. It is but the effect of the fall, that man should love sin better than

righteousness, and the ways of this world better than the ways of God.

And again, we repeat it, until these affections be renewed, and turned

into a fresh channel by the gracious drawings of the Father, it is not

possible for any man to love the Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Yet once more--conscience, too, has been overpowered by the fall. I

believe there is no more egregious mistake made by divines, than when

they tell people that conscience is the vicegerent of God within the soul,

and that it is one of those powers which retains its ancient dignity, and

stands erect amidst the fall of its compeers. My brethren, when man fell

in the garden, manhood fell entirely; there was not one single pillar in

the temple of manhood that stood erect. It is true, conscience was not

destroyed. The pillar was not shattered; it fell, and it fell in one piece,

and there it lies along, the mightiest remnant of God's once perfect

work in man. But that conscience is fallen, I am sure. Look at men.

Who among them is the possessor of a "good conscience toward God,"

but the regenerated man? Do you imagine that if men's consciences

always spoke loudly and clearly to them, they would live in the daily

commission of acts, which are as opposed to the right as darkness to

light? No, beloved; conscience can tell me that I am a sinner, but

conscience cannot make me feel that I am one. Conscience may tell me

that such-and-such a thing is wrong, but how wrong it is conscience

itself does not know. Did any man s conscience, unenlightened by the

Spirit, ever tell him that his sins deserved damnation? Or if conscience

did do that, did it ever lead any man to feel an abhorrence of sin as sin?

In fact, did conscience ever bring a man to such a self-renunciation, that

he did totally abhor himself and all his works and come to Christ? No,

conscience, although it is not dead, is ruined, its power is impaired, it

hath not that clearness of eye and that strength of hand, and that thunder

of voice, which it had before the fall; but hath ceased to a great degree,

to exert its supremacy in the town of Mansoul. Then, beloved, it

becomes necessary for this very reason, because conscience is

depraved, that the Holy Spirit should step in, to show us our need of a

Saviour, and draw us to the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Still," says one, "as far as you have hitherto gone, it appears to me that

you consider that the reason why men do not come to Christ is that they

will not, rather than they cannot." True, most true. I believe the greatest

reason of man's inability is the obstinacy of his will. That once

overcome, I think the great stone is rolled away from the sepulchre, and

the hardest part of the battle is already won. But allow me to go a little

further. My text does not say,"No man will come," but it says, "No man

can come." Now, many interpreters believe that the can here, is but a

strong expression conveying no more meaning than the word will. I feel

assured that this is not correct. There is in man, not only unwillingness

to be saved, but there is a spiritual powerlessness to come to Christ; and

this I will prove to every Christian at any rate. Beloved, I speak to you

who have already been quickened by the divine grace, does not your

experience teach you that there are times when you have a will to serve

God, and yet have not the power? Have you not sometimes been

obliged to say that you have wished to believe. but you have had to

pray, Lord, help mine unbelief?" Because, although willing enough to

receive God's testimony, your own carnal nature was too strong for

you, and you felt you needed supernatural help. Are you able to go into

your room at any hour you choose, and to fall upon your knees and

say,"Now, it is my will that I should be very earnest in prayer, and that I

should draw near unto God ?" I ask, do you find your power equal to

your will? You could say, even at the bar of God himself, that you are

sure you are not mistaken in your willingness; you are willing to be

wrapt up in devotion, it is your will that your soul should not wander

from a pure contemplation of the Lord Jesus Christ, but you find that

you cannot do that, even when you are willing, without the help of the

Spirit. Now, if the quickened child of God finds a spiritual inability,

how much more the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sin? If even

the advanced Christian, after thirty or forty years, finds himself

sometimes willing and yet powerless--if such be his experience,--does it

not seem more than likely that the poor sinner who has not yet believed,

should find a need of strength as well as a want of will?

But, again, there is another argument. If the sinner has strength to come

to Christ, I should like to know how we are to understand those

continual descriptions of the sinner's state which we meet with in God's

holy Word? Now, a sinner is said to be dead in trespasses and sins. Will

you affirm that death implies nothing more than the absence of a will?

Surely a corpse is quite as unable as unwilling. Or again, do not all men

see that there is a distinction between will and power: might not that

corpse be sufficiently quickened to get a will, and yet be so powerless

that it could not lift as much as its hand or foot? Have we never seen

cases in which persons have been just sufficiently re-animated to give

evidence of life, and have yet been so near death that they could not

have performed the slightest action? Is there not a clear difference

between the giving or the will and the giving of power? It is quite

certain, however, that where the will is given, the power will follow.

Make a man willing, and he shall be made powerful; for when God gives the

will, he does not tantalize man by giving him to wish for that which he is

unable to do; nevertheless he makes such a division between the will and the

power, that it shall be seen that both things are quite distinct gifts of

the Lord God.

Then I must ask one more question: if all that were needed to make a

man willing, do you not at once degrade the Holy Spirit? Are we not in

the habit of giving all the glory of salvation wrought in us to God the

Spirit? But now, if all that God the Spirit does for me is to make me

willing to do these things for myself, am I not in a great measure a

sharer with the Holy Spirit in the glory? and may I not boldly stand up

and say, "It is true the Spirit gave me the will to do it, but still I did

it myself, and therein will I glory; for if I did these things myself

without assistance from on high, I will not cast my crown at his feet; it is

my own crown, I earned it, and I will keep it." Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit

is evermore in Scripture set forth as the person who worketh in us to

will and to do of his own good pleasure, we hold it to be a legitimate

inference that he must do something more for us than the mere making

of us willing, and that therefore there must be another thing besides

want of will in a sinner--there must be absolute and actual want of


Now, before I leave this statement, let me address myself to you for a

moment. I am often charged with preaching doctrines that may do a

great deal of hurt. Well, I shall not deny the charge, for I am not careful

to answer in this matter. I have my witnesses here present to prove that

the things which I have preached have done a great deal of hurt, but

they have not done hurt either to morality or to God's Church; the hurt

has been on the side of Satan. There are not ones or twos but many

hundreds who this morning rejoice that they have been brought near to

God; from having been profane Sabbath-breakers, drunkards, or

worldly persons, they have been brought to know and love the Lord

Jesus Christ; and if this be any hurt may God of his infinite mercy send

us a thousand times as much. But further, what truth is there in the

world which will not hurt a man who chooses to make hurt of it? You

who preach general redemption, are very fond of proclaiming the great

truth of God's mercy to the last moment. But how dare you preach that?

Many people make hurt of it by putting off the day of grace, and

thinking that the last hour may do as well as the first. Why, if we never

preached anything which man could misuse, and abuse, we must hold

our tongues for ever. Still says one, "Well then, if I cannot save myself,

and cannot come to Christ, I must sit still and do nothing." If men do

say so, on their own heads shall be their doom. We have very plainly

told you that there are many things you can do. To be found continually

in the house of God is in your power; to study the Word of God with

diligence is in your power; to renounce your outward sin, to forsake the

vices in which you indulge, to make your life honest, sober, and

righteous, is in your power. For this you need no help from the Holy

Spirit; all this you can do yourself; but to come to Christ truly is not in

your power, until you are renewed by the Holy Ghost. But mark you,

your want of power is no excuse, seeing that you have no desire to

come, and are living in wilful rebellion against God. Your want of

power lies mainly in the obstinacy of nature. Suppose a liar says that it

is not in his power to speak the truth, that he has been a liar so long,

that he cannot leave it off; is that an excuse for him? Suppose a man

who has long indulged in lust should tell you that he finds his lusts

have so girt about him like a great iron net that he cannot get rid of

them, would you take that as an excuse? Truly it is none at all. If a

drunkard has become so foully a drunkard, that he finds it impossible to

pass a public--house without stepping in, do you therefore excuse him?

No, because his inability to reform, lies in his nature, which he has no

desire to restrain or conquer. The thing that is done, and the thing that

causes the thing that is done, being both from the root of sin, are two

evils which cannot excuse each other, What though the Ethiopian

cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots? It is because you

have learned to do evil that you cannot now learn to do well; and

instead, therefore, of letting you sit down to excuse yourselves, let me

put a thunderbolt beneath the seat of your sloth, that you may be

startled by it and aroused. Remember, that to sit still is to be damned to

all eternity. Oh! that God the Holy Spirit might make use of this truth in

a very different manner! Before I have done I trust I shall be enabled to

show you how it is that this truth, which apparently condemns men and

shuts them out, is, after all, the great truth, which has been blessed to

the conversion of men.

II. Our second point is THE FATHER'S DRAWINGS. "No man can

come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." How

then does the Father draw men? Arminian divines generally say that

God draws men by the preaching of the gospel. Very true; the

preaching of the gospel is the instrument of drawing men, but there

must be some thing more than this. Let me ask to whom did Christ

address these words? Why, to the people of Capernaum, where he had

often preached, where he had uttered mournfully and plaintively the

woes of the law and the invitations of the gospel. In that city he had

done many mighty works and worked many miracles. In fact, such

teaching and such miraculous attestation had he given to them, that he

declared that Tyre and Sidon would have repented long ago in sack-

cloth and ashes, if they had been blessed with such privileges. Now, if

the preaching of Christ himself did not avail to the enabling these men

to come to Christ, it cannot be possible that all that was intended by the

drawing of the Father was simply preaching. No, brethren, you must

note again, he does not say no man can come except the minister draw

him, but except the Father draw him. Now there is such a thing as being

drawn by the gospel, and drawn by the minister, without being drawn

by God.

Clearly, it is a divine drawing that is meant, a drawing by the

Most High God--the First Person of the most glorious Trinity sending

out the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, to induce men to come to Christ.

Another person turns round and says with a sneer, "Then do you think

that Christ drags men to himself, seeing that they are unwilling!" I

remember meeting once with a man who said to me, Sir, you preach

that Christ takes people by the hair of their heads and drags them to

himself" I asked him whether he could refer to the date of the sermon

wherein I preached that extraordinary doctrine, for if he could, I should

be very much obliged. However, he could not. But said I, while Christ

does not drag people to himself by the hair of their heads, I believe that,

he draws them by the heart quite as powerfully as your caricature would

suggest. Mark that in the Father's drawing there is no compulsion

whatever; Christ never compelled any man to come to him against his

will. If a man be unwilling to be saved, Christ does not save him

against his will. How, then, does the Holy Spirit draw him?

Why, by making him willing. It is true he does not use "moral suasion;" he

knows a nearer method of reaching the heart. He goes to the secret

fountain of the heart, and he knows how, by some mysterious

operation, to turn the will in an opposite direction, so that, as Ralph

Erskine paradoxically puts it, the man is saved "with full consent

against his will;" that is, against his old will he is saved. But he is

saved with full consent, for he is made willing in the day of God's power.

Do not imagine that any man will go to heaven kicking and struggling all

the way against the hand that draws him. Do not conceive that any man

will be plunged in the bath of a Saviour's blood while he is striving to

run away from the Saviour. Oh, no. It is quite true that first of all man is

unwilling to be saved. When the Holy Spirit hath put his influence into

the heart, the text is fulfilled--"draw me and I will run after thee." We

follow on while he draws us, glad to obey the voice which once we had

despised. But the gist of the matter lies in the turning of the will. How

that is done no flesh knoweth; it is one of those mysteries that is clearly

perceived as a fact, but the cause of which no tongue can tell, and no

heart can guess. The apparent way, however, in which the Holy Spirit

operates, we can tell you. The first thing the Holy Spirit does when he

comes into a man's heart is this: he finds him with a very good opinion

of himself: and there is nothing which prevents a man coming to Christ

like a good opinion of himself. Why, says man, "I don't want to come

to Christ. I have as good a righteousness as anybody can desire. I feel I

can walk into heaven on my own rights." The Holy Spirit lays bare his

heart, lets him see the loathsome cancer that is there eating away his

life, uncovers to him all the blackness and defilement of that sink of

hell, the human heart, and then the man stands aghast. "I never thought

I was like this. Oh! those sins I thought were little, have swelled out to

an immense stature. What I thought was a mole-hill has grown into a

mountain; it was but the hyssop on the wall before, but now it has

become a cedar of Lebanon. Oh," saith the man within himself, "I will

try and reform; I will do good deeds enough to wash these black deeds

out." Then comes the Holy Spirit and shows him that he cannot do this,

takes away all his fancied power and strength, so that the man falls

down on his knees in agony, and cries, "Oh! once I thought I could save

myself by my good works, but now I find that

"Could my tears for ever flow,

Could my zeal no respite know,

All for sin could not atone,

Thou must save and thou alone.'"

Then the heart sinks, and the man is ready to despair. And saith he, "I

never can be saved. Nothing can save me." Then, comes the Holy Spirit

and shows the sinner the cross of Christ, gives him eyes anointed with

heavenly eye-salve, and says, "Look to yonder cross. that Man died to

save sinners; you feel that you are a sinner; he died to save you." And

he enables the heart to believe, and to come to Christ. And when it

comes to Christ, by this sweet drawing of the Spirit, it finds "a peace

with God which passeth all understanding, which keeps his heart and

mind through Jesus Christ our Lord." Now, you will plainly perceive

that all this may be done without any compulsion. Man is as much

drawn willingly, as if he were not drawn at all; and he comes to Christ

with full consent, with as full a consent as if no secret influence had

ever been exercised in his heart. But that influence must be exercised,

or else there never has been and there never will be, any man who either

can or will come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

III. And, now, we gather up our ends, and conclude by trying to make a

practical application of the doctrine; and we trust a comfortable one.

"Well," says one, "if what this man preaches be true, what is to become

of my religion? for do you know I have been a long while trying, and I

do not like to hear you say a man cannot save himself. I believe he can,

and I mean to persevere; but if I am to believe what you say, I must

give it all up and begin again." My dear friends, it will be a very happy

thing if you do. Do not think that I shall be at all alarmed if you do so.

Remember, what you are doing is building your house upon the sand,

and it is but an act of charity if I can shake it a little for you. Let me

assure you, in God's name, if your religion has no better foundation

than your own strength, it will not stand you at the bar of God. Nothing

will last to eternity, but that which came from eternity. Unless the

everlasting God has done a good work in your heart, all you may have

done must be unravelled at the last day of account. It is all in vain for

you to be a church-goer or chapel-goer, a good keeper of the Sabbath,

an observer of your prayers: it is all in vain for you to be honest to your

neighbours and reputable in your conversation; if you hope to be saved

by these things, it is all in vain for you to trust in them. Go on; be as

honest as you like, keep the Sabbath perpetually, be as holy as you can.

I would not dissuade you from these things. God forbid; grow in them,

but oh, do not trust in them, for if you rely upon these things you will

find they will fail you when most you need them. And if there be

anything else that you have found yourself able to do unassisted by

divine grace, the sooner you can get rid of the hope that has been

engendered by it the better for you, for it is a foul delusion to rely upon

anything that flesh can do. A spiritual heaven must be inhabited by

spiritual men, and preparation for it must be wrought by the Spirit of

God. "Well," cries another, "I have been sitting under a ministry where

I have been told that I could, at my own option, repent and believe, and

the consequence is that I have been putting it off from day to day. I

thought I could come one day as well as another; that I had only to say,

"Lord, have mercy upon me,' and believe, and then I should be saved.

Now you have taken all this hope away for me, sir; I feel amazement

and horror taking hold upon me." Again, I say, "My dear friend, I am

very glad of it. This was the effect which I hoped to produce. I pray that

you may feel this a great deal more. When you have no hope of saving

yourself, I shall have hope that God has begun to save you. As soon as

you say "Oh, I cannot come to Christ. Lord, draw me, help me,' I shall

rejoice over you. He who has got a will, though he has not power, has

grace begun in his heart, and God will not leave him until the work is

finished." But, careless sinner, learn that thy salvation now hangs in

God's hand. Oh, remember thou art entirely in the hand of God. Thou

hast sinned against him, and if he wills to damn thee, damned thou art.

Thou canst not resist his will nor thwart his purpose. Thou hast

deserved his wrath, and if he chooses to pour the full shower of that

wrath upon thy head, thou canst do nothing to avert it. If, on the other

hand, he chooses to save thee, he is able to save thee to the very

uttermost. But thou liest as much in his hand as the summer's moth

beneath thine own finger. He is the God whom thou art grieving every

day. Doth it not make thee tremble to think that thy eternal destiny now

hangs upon the will of him whom thou hast angered and incensed?

Dost not this make thy knees knock together, and thy blood curdle? If it

does so I rejoice, inasmuch as this may be the first effect of the Spirit's

drawing in thy soul. Oh, tremble to think that the God whom thou hast

angered, is the God upon whom thy salvation or thy condemnation

entirely depends. Tremble and "kiss the Son lest he be angry and ye

perish from the way while his wrath is kindled but a little,"

Now, the comfortable reflection is this:--Some of you this morning are

conscious that you are coming to Christ. Have you not begun to weep

the penitential tear? Did not your closet witness your prayerful

preparation for the hearing of the Word of God? And during the service

of this morning, has not your heart said within you, "Lord, save me, or I

perish, for save myself I cannot?" And could you not now stand up in

your seat, and sing,

"Oh, sovereign grace my heart subdue;

I would be led in triumph, too,

A willing captive of my Lord,

To sing the triumph of his Word"?

And have I not myself heard you say in your heart--"Jesus, Jesus, my

whole trust Is in thee: I know that no righteousness of my own can save

me, but only thou, O Christ--sink or swim, I cast myself on thee?" Oh,

my brother, thou art drawn by the Father, for thou couldst not have

come unless he had drawn thee. Sweet thought! And if he has drawn

thee, dost thou know what is the delightful inference? Let me repeat

one text, and may that comfort thee: "The Lord hath appeared of old

unto me, saying, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore

with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Yes, my poor weeping brother,

inasmuch as thou art now coming to Christ, God has drawn thee; and

inasmuch as he has drawn thee, it is a proof that he has loved thee from

before the foundation of the world. Let thy heart leap within thee, thou

art one of his. Thy name was written on the Saviour's hands when they

were nailed to the accursed tree. Thy name glitters on the breast-plate of

the great High Priest to-day; ay, and it was there before the day-star

knew its place, or planets ran their round. Rejoice in the Lord ye that

have come to Christ, and shout for joy all ye that have been drawn of

the Father. For this is your proof, your solemn testimony, that you from

among men have been chosen in eternal election, and that you shall be

kept by the power of God, through faith, unto the salvation which is

ready to be revealed.

Verse 11

The Lad's Loaves in the Lord's Hands

August 9th, 1891 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Jesus took the loaves." John 6:11 .

Look, there are the people! Five thousand of them, as hungry as hunters, and they all need to have food given to them, for they cannot any of them travel to buy it! And here is the provision! Five thin wafers and those of barley, more fit for horses than for men and two little anchovies, by way of a relish! Five thousand people and five little biscuits wherewith to feed them! The disproportion is enormous: if each one should have only the tiniest crumb, there would not be sufficient. In like manner, there are millions of people in London, and only a handful of whole-hearted Christians earnestly desiring to see the city converted to Christ; there are more than a thousand millions of men in this round world, and oh, so few missionaries breaking to them the bread of life; almost as few for the millions, as were these five barley cakes for those five thousand! The problem is a very difficult one. The contrast between the supply and the demand would have struck us much more vividly if we had been there, in that crowd at Bethsaida, than it does sitting here, nearly nineteen hundred years afterwards, and merely hearing about it. But the Lord Jesus was equal to the emergency: none of the people went away without sharing in his bounty; they were all filled. Our blessed Master, now that he has ascended into the heavens, has more rather than less power; he is not baffled because of our lack, but can even now use paltry means to accomplish his own glorious purposes; therefore let no man's heart fail him. Do not despair of the evangelization of London, nor think it hopeless that the gospel should be preached in all nations for a testimony unto them. Have faith in God, who is in Christ Jesus; have faith in the compassion of the Great Mediator: he will not desert the people in their spiritual need, any more than he failed that hungry throng, in their temporal need, long ago. We will now look at these biscuits and sardines, which seem to be truly an insufficient stock-in-trade to begin with, a very small capital indeed on which to conduct the business of feeding five thousand persons. I shall say of these loaves and fishes, first, that they had a previous history before being mentioned in our text; secondly, when we get to our text, we shall find these little things in a very grand position "Jesus took the loaves"; and therefore, thirdly, they will trace have an after-history which is well worthy of being noted. When things get into Christ's hands, they are in the very focus of miracles. I. We will begin by saying that THESE LOAVES AND FISHES HAD A PREVIOUS HISTORY. Andrew said to Jesus, "There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes." Notice, first, then, the providence of God in bringing the lad there. We do not know his name; we are not told anything concerning his parentage. Was he a little pedlar, who thought that he could make some money by selling a few loaves and fishes, and had he nearly sold out? Or was he a boy that the apostles had employed to carry this slender provision for the use of Jesus and his friends? We do not know much about him; but he was the right boy in the right place that day. Be his name what it might, it did not matter; he had the barley loaves and fishes upon which the people were to be fed. Christ never is in need but he has somebody at hand to supply that need. Have faith in the providence of God. What made the boy bring the loaves and fishes, I do not know. Boys often do unaccountable things; but bring the loaves and fishes he did; and God, who understands the ideas and motives of lads, and takes account even of barley loaves and fishes, had appointed that boy to be there. Again I say, believe in the providence of God. Mr. Stanley tells us that, when he came out of that long journey of his through the forest, I think after a hundred and sixty days of walking in darkness, and found himself at last where he could see the sun, he felt that there was a special providence of God that had taken care of him. I am very glad that Mr. Stanley felt that it was the hand of God that had brought him out of the noisome shade; but I do not need to go to Africa to learn that we are beset behind and before by his goodness. Many of us have felt a special providence of God in our own bed-chambers; we have met with his hand in connection with our own children. Yea, every day we are surrounded by tokens of his care. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord." "I am sure God took care of me," said one; "for as I was going along a certain street, I slipped on a piece of orange-peel, and had what might have been a serious fall; yet I was not hurt in the least." To which his friend replied, "I am sure God has taken care of me; for I have walked along that street hundreds of times, and have never slipped on a piece of orange-peel, or on anything else." Full often God draws near to us in common life.

"He comes to us all unaware, And makes us own his loving care."

Let us also believe in his providence with regard to the church of Christ: he will never desert his people; he will find men when he wants them. Thus it has ever been in the history of the saints, and thus it shall ever be. Before the Reformation there were many learned men who knew something of Christ's gospel; but they said that it was a pity to make a noise, and so they communed with one another and with Christ very quietly. What was wanted was some rough bull-headed follow who would blurt the gospel out, and upset the old state of things. Where could he be found? There was a monk named Luther, who, while he was reading his Bible, suddenly stumbled on the doctrine of justification by faith; he was the man: yet when he went to a dear brother in the Lord, and told him how he felt, his friend said to him, "Go back to thy cell, and pray and commune with God, and hold thy tongue." But then, you see, he had a tongue that he could not hold, and that nobody else could hold, and he began to speak with it the truth that had made a new man of him. The God that made Luther, knew what he was at when he made him; he put within him a great burning fire that could not be restrained, and it burst forth, and set the nations on a blaze. Never despair about providence. There sits to-night, somewhere in a chimney corner in the country, a man that will turn the current of unbelief, and win back the churches to the old gospel. God never yet did come to a point of distress as to his truth but what suddenly one came forward, a David with a sling and a stone, or a Samson with a jawbone, or a Shamgar with an ox-goad, who put to rout the adversaries of the Lord. "There is a lad here." The providence of God had sent him. Next, this lad with his loaves was brought into notice. When they were searching for all the provisions in the company, this obscure boy, that never would have been heard of else, was brought to the front, because he had his little basket of biscuits. Andrew found him out, and he came and said to Jesus, "There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes." So, rest assured, that if you have the Bread of Life about you, and you are willing to serve God, you need not be afraid that obscurity will ever prevent your doing it. "Nobody knows me," says one. Well, it is not a very desirable thing that anybody should know you: those of us who are known to everybody would be very glad if we were not; there is no very great comfort in it. He that can work away for his Master, with nobody to see him but his Master, is the happiest of men. "I have only one hundred people to preach to," said a country pastor to me; and I replied, "If you give a good account of those hundred, you have quite enough to do." If all you have is very little just that pennyworth of loaves and fishes use that properly, and you will do your Master service; and in due time, when God wants you, he knows where to find you. You need not put an advertisement in the paper; he knows the street you live on, and the number on the door. You need not go and push yourself to the front; the Lord will bring you to the front when he wants you; and I hope that you do not want to get there if he does not want you. Depend upon it, should you push forward when you are not required, he will put you back again. Oh, for grace to work on unobserved, to have your one talent, your five loaves and two fishes, and only to be noticed when the hour suggests the need, and the need makes a loud call for you. We have thus seen, first of all, the loaves and fishes, in the desert, quite unnoticed, but put there by providence; and we now behold them by that same providence, thrust into prominence. When brought into notice, the loaves and fishes did not fare very well; they were judged insufficient for the purpose; for Andrew said, "What are they among so many?" The boy's candle seemed to be quite snuffed out: so small a stock what could be the use of that? Now, I dare say, that some of you have had Satan saying to you, "What is the use of your trying to do anything?" To you, dear mother, with a family of children, he has whispered, "You cannot serve God." He knows very well that, by sustaining grace, you can and he is afraid of how well you can serve God if you bring up those dear children in his fear. He says to the colporteur over yonder, "You have not much ability; what can you do." Ah, dear friend! he is afraid of what you can do, and if you will only do what you can do, God will, by-and-by, help you to do what now you cannot do. But the devil is afraid of even the little that you can do now; and many a child of God seems to side with Satan in despising the day of small things. "What are they among so many?" So few, so poor, so devoid of talent, what can any of us hope to do? Disdained, even by the disciples, it is small wonder if we are held in contempt by the world. The things that God will honor, man must first despise. You run the gauntlet of the derision of men, and afterwards you come out to be used of God. Though seemingly inadequate to feed the multitude, these loaves and fishes would have been quite enough for the boy's supper, yet he appears to have been quite willing to part with them. The disciples would not have taken them from him by force; the Master would not have allowed it: the lad willingly gave them up to be the commencement of the great feast. Somebody might have said, "John, you know that you will soon be able to eat those five cakes and those two little fishes; keep them; get away into a corner: every man for himself." Is it not a good rule, "Take care of number one"? Yes, but the boy whom God uses will not be selfish. Am I speaking to some young Christian to whom Satan says, "Make money first, and serve God by-and-by; stick to business, and get on; then, after that, you can act like a Christian, and give some money away," and so on? Let such a one remember the barley loaves and the fishes. If that lad had really wisely studied his own interests, instead of merely yielding with a generous impulse to the demand of Christ, he would have done exactly what he did; for if he had kept the loaves, he would have eaten them, and there would have been an end of them; but now that he brings them to Christ, all those thousands of people are fed, and he gets as much himself as he would have had if he had eaten his own stock. And then, in addition, he gets a share out of the twelve baskets full of fragments that remain. Anything that you take away from self and give to Christ is well invested; it will often bring in ten thousand per cent. The Lord knows how to give such a reward to an unselfish man, that he will feel that he that saves his life loses it, but he that is willing even to lose his life, and the bread that sustains it, is the man who, after all, gets truly saved. This, then, is the history of these loaves. They were sent there through God's providence by a lad who was sought out and brought into notice. His stock-in-trade was despised, but he was willing to give it, whether it was despised or not. He would yield it to his Lord. Now, do you see what I am driving at? I want to get a hold of some of the lads, and some young men and young women I will not trouble about your age, you shall be lads if you are under seventy I want to get hold of you who think that you have very little ability, and say to you, "Come, and bring it to Jesus." We want you. Times are hard. The people are famishing. Though nobody seems to need you, yet make bold to come out; and who knows but that, like Queen Esther, you may have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? God may have brought you where you are to make use of you for the converting of thousands; but you must be converted yourself first. Christ will not use you unless you are first his own. You must yield yourself up to him, and be saved by his precious blood, and then, after that, come and yield up to him all the little talent that you may have, and pray him to make as much use of you as he did of the lad with the five barley cakes. II. But now I want to show you that THESE BARLEY CAKES GOT INTO A GRAND POSITION. The text says, "Jesus took the loaves." He took them into his own hands. From the trembling hands of the boy, or from his little basket, they were transferred to the blessed hands which one day would bear the nail-prints. This may teach us several lessons. First, they were now associated with Jesus Christ. Henceforth those loaves do not so much suggest the thought of the lad's sacrifice as of the Savior's power. Is it not a wonderful thing that Christ, the living God, should associate himself with our feebleness, with our want of talent, with our ignorance, with our little faith? And yet he does so. If we are not associated with him, we can do nothing; but when we come into living touch with him, we can do all things. Those barley loaves in Christ's hands become pregnant with food for all the throng. Out of his hands they are nothing but barley cakes; but in his hands, associated with him, they are in contact with omnipotence. Have you that love the Lord Jesus Christ thought of this, of bringing all that you possess to him, that it may be associated with him? There is that brain of yours; it can be associated with the teachings of his Spirit: there is that heart of yours; it can be warmed with the love of God: there is that tongue of yours; it can be touched with the live coal from off the altar: there is that manhood of yours; it can be perfectly consecrated by association with Christ. Hear the tender command of the Lord, "Bring them hither to me," and your whole life will be transformed. I do not say that every man of common ability can rise to high ability by being associated with Christ through faith, but I do say this, that his ordinary ability, in association with Christ, will become sufficient for the occasion to which God in providence has called him. I know that you have been praying, and saying, "I have not this, and I cannot do that." Stay not to number your deficiencies; bring what you have, and let all that you are, body, soul, and spirit, be associated with Christ. Although he will not bestow upon you new faculties, the faculties you have will have new power, for they will come into a new condition towards him; and what may not be hoped for by association with such wisdom and might? But, further, they were transferred to Christ. A moment ago, they belonged to this lad, but now they belong to Christ. "Jesus took the loaves." He has taken possession of them; they are his property. Oh, Christian people, do you mean what you say when you declare that you have given yourselves to Christ? If you have made a full transfer, therein will lie great power for usefulness. But do not people often say, "If I might make some reserve"? "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" What about that odd thousand that you put in the funds the other day? What about the money saved up for a new bonnet? You sometimes sing

"Yet if I might make some reserve, And duty did not call, I love my God with zeal so great, That I should give him all."

Ah, well! when you have really yielded all, you may sing that again; but I am afraid that there are but few who can sing it truly. Oh, that we had more real putting of the loaves into Christ's hands! The time that you have not used for self, but given to Christ; the knowledge that you have not stored, as in a reservoir, but given to Christ; the ability that you have not wielded for the world, but yielded to Christ; your influence and position, your money and home, all put into Christ's hands, and reckoned to be not your own, but to be his henceforth; this is the way in which London's need will be met, and the world's hunger will be satisfied. But we are staggered at the very outset by the lack of this complete dedication of everything to Christ. What is better still, as these loaves were given to Jesus, so they were accepted by Jesus. They were not only dedicated, they were also consecrated. Jesus took the five barley loaves, Jesus took the two little fishes, and in doing so he seemed to say, "These will do for me." As the Revised Version has it, "Jesus therefore took the loaves." Was there any reason why he should? Yes, because they were brought to him; they were willingly presented to him; there was a need of them, and he could work with them, "therefore" he took the loaves. Children of God, if Christ has ever made use of you, you have often stood and wondered however the Lord could accept you; but there was a "therefore" in it. He saw that you were willing to win souls: he saw the souls needed winning, and he used you, even you. Am I not now speaking to some who might be of great service if they yielded themselves unto Christ, and Christ accepted them, and they became accepted in the Beloved? Only five barley cakes, but Jesus accepted them; only two small fishes, brought by a little lad, but the great Christ accepted them, and they became his own. Let us join one now in heaven who on earth brought her all, and pray

"Oh, use me, Lord, use even me, Just as thou wilt, and when, and where: Until thy blessed face I see, Thy rest, thy joy, thy glory share."

But, what is better still, these loaves and fishes were blessed by Christ as he lifted up his eyes, and gave thanks to the Father for them. Think of it. For five little cakes and two sprats Christ gave thanks to the Father; apparently a meagre cause for praise, but Jesus knew what he could make of them, and therefore gave thanks for what they would presently accomplish. "God loves us," says Augustine, "for what we are becoming." Christ gave thanks for these trifles because he saw whereunto they would grow. Do you not think that, having thanked the Father, he also thanked the boy? And in after years these words of gratitude would be ample recompense for such a tiny deed. Like the woman who cast in the two mites to the treasury, he gave his all, and doubtless was commended for the gift. Though high in glory to-day, Christ is still grateful when such offerings are made to him; still he thanks his Father when, with timid trembling hands, we offer to him our best, our all, however small; still is his heart gladdened when we bring him our scanty store that it may be touched by his dear hand, and blessed by his gracious lips. He loves us, not for what we are, but for what he will yet make us; he blesses our offerings, not for their worth, but because his power will yet make them worthy of his praise. May the Lord thus bless every talent that you have! May he bless your memory; may he bless your understanding; may he bless your voices; may he bless your hearts; may he bless your heads; may he bless you all and evermore! When he puts a blessing into the little gift and into the little grace that we have, good work begins, and goes on to perfection. And when the loaves had been blessed, the next thing was, they were increased by Christ. Peter takes one, begins to break it, and as he breaks it, he has always as much in his hand as he started with. "Here, take a bit of fish, friend," says he. He gives a whole fish to that man, he has a whole fish left. So he gives it to another, and another, and another, and goes on scattering the bread and scattering the fish everywhere, as quickly as he can; and when he has done, he has his hands just as full of fish and as full of bread as ever. If you serve God you will never run dry. He who gives you something to say one Sunday will give you something to say another Sunday. These seven-and-thirty years and more, have I ministered to this same church and congregation, and every time that I have preached I have said all that I knew. Some very learned brethren are like the great tun of Heidelberg; they can hold so much wine that there is enough to swim in, but they put in a tap somewhere up at the top, and you never get much out. Mine is a very small barrel indeed, but the tap is down as low as it can be; and you can get more liquor out of a small tub, if you empty it, than you can out of a big vat if you are only permitted to draw a little from the top. This boy gave all his loaves, and all his fish not much, truly but Christ multiplied it. Be like him, give your all; do not think of reserving some for another occasion. If you are a preacher, do not think of what you will preach about the next time; think of what you are going to preach about now. It is always quite enough to get one sermon at a time: you need not have a store; because if you get a lot piled away somewhere, there will be a stale odour about them. Even the manna that came down from heaven bred worms and stank; so will your best sermons, even if the message is God-given; and if it does not come down from heaven, but from your own brain, it will go bad still more quickly. Tell the people about Christ. Lead them to Jesus, and do not trouble about what you will say next time, but wait till next time comes, and it shall be given you in the same hour what you shall speak. But, mark once more: when Jesus took the loaves, it was not only to multiply, but also to dispose of them. They were distributed by Christ. He did not believe in multiplication, unless it was attended by division. Christ's additions mean subtraction; and Christ's subtractions mean additions. He gives that we may give away. He multiplied as soon as ever the disciples began to distribute; and when the distribution ended, the multiplication ended. Oh, for grace to go on distributing! If you have received the truth from Christ, tell it out! God will whisper it in your ear, and tell it in; but if you stop the telling out, if you cease the endeavor to bless others, it may be that God will no more bless you, nor grant you again the communion of his face. Putting all this together, if we all would bring our loaves and fishes to the Lord Jesus Christ, he would take them, and make them wholly his own. Then, when he should have blessed them, he would multiply them, and he would bid us distribute them, and we could yet meet the needs of London, and the needs of the whole world even to the last man. A Christ who could feed five thousand can feed five millions. There is no limit. When once you get a miracle, you may as well have a great one. Whenever I find the critics paring down miracles, it always seems to me to be very poor work; for if it is a miracle, it is a miracle; and if you are in for a penny, you may as well be in for a pound. If you can believe that Christ can feed fifty, then you can believe that he can feed five hundred, five thousand, five millions, five hundred millions, if so it pleases him. Thus have I tried to stir up God's people to believe in the Lord, and consecrate themselves to him. But some of you are saying, "He is not preaching to me." No, I am not preaching to you; but I am preaching for you; for if God's people begin to be roused, they will] soon look after you. You will have somebody asking you about your soul before you get out of the Tabernacle; and during the week, if you meet some of them, they will be troubling you, rousing up your conscience, and making you feel what an awful thing it is to be an enemy to God, and to live without Christ. I hope that it will be so. Oh, you that do not love my Lord, what are you at? Paul said that you would be Anathema Maranatha cursed at his coming! I pray you, do not rest easy while that may be your portion. You are the people that we want to feed, you are the people whom we want to bless. Oh, that God in his mercy would but bless you! We do not ask to have the honor of it. We would be willing to have it quite unknown who it was that brought you to the Savior, so long as you did but come to him. May the Lord in mercy bring you! III. But now, thirdly, and to conclude, THESE LOAVES AND FISHES HAD AN AFTER-HISTORY. They got into Christ's hands. What was the result? First, a great deal of misery was removed by the lad's basketful of barley cakes. Those poor people were famished; they had been with Christ all day, and had had nothing to eat; and had they been dispersed as they were, tired and hungry, many of them would have fainted by the way; perhaps some would even have died. Oh, what would we give if we might but alleviate the misery of this world! I remember the Earl of Shaftesbury saying, "I should like to live longer. I cannot bear to go out of the world while there is so much misery in it." And you know how that dear saint of God laid himself out to look after the poor, and the helpless, and the needy, all his days. Perhaps I speak to some who never woke up yet to the idea that, if they were to bring their little all to Christ, he could make use of it in alleviating the misery of many a wounded conscience, and that awful misery which will come upon men if they die unforgiven, and stand before the judgment bar of God without a Savior. Yes, young man, God can make you the spiritual father of many. As I look back upon my own history, little did I dream when first I opened my mouth for Christ, in a very humble way, that I should have the honor of bringing thousands to Jesus. Blessed, blessed be his name! He has the glory of it. But I cannot help thinking that there must be some other lad here, such a one as I was, whom he may call by his grace to do service for him. When I had a letter sent to me by the deacons of the church at New Park Street, to come up to London to preach, I sent it back by the next post, telling them that they had made a mistake, that I was a lad of nineteen years of age, happy among a very poor and lowly people in Cambridgeshire, who loved me, and that I did not imagine that they could mean that I was to preach in London. But they returned it to me, and said that they knew all about it, and I must come. Ah, what a story it has been since then, of the goodness and lovingkindness of the Lord! Now, perhaps, these words come to some brother who has never yet laid hold of the idea that God can use him. You must not think that God picks out all the very choice and particularly fine persons. It is not so in the Bible; some of those that he took were very rough people: even the first apostles were mostly fishermen. Paul was an educated man, but he was like a lot out of the catalogue, one bow out of due time; the rest of them were not so, but God used them; and it still pleases God, by the base things and things that are not, to bring to nought the things that are. I do not want you to think highly of yourself; your cakes are only five, and they are barley, and poor barley at that; and your fish are very small, and there are only two of them. I do not want you to think much of them, but think much of Christ, and believe that, whoever you may be, if he thought it worth his while to buy you with his blood, and is willing to make some use of you, it is surely worth your while to come and bring yourself, and all that you have, to him who is thus graciously ready to accept you. Put everything into his hands, and let it be said of you to-night, "And Jesus took the loaves." It is a part of the history of the loaves that they assuaged a great mass of misery. And next, Jesus was glorified; for the people said, "He is a prophet." The miracle of the loaves carried them back to the wilderness, and to the miracle of the manna; they remembered that Moses had said, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me." For this Deliverer they longed, and as the bread increased so grew their wonder, until in the swelling cakes they saw the finger of God, and said, "This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world." That little lad became, by his loaves and fishes, the revealer of Christ to all the multitude; and who can tell, if you give your loaves to Christ, whether thousands may not recognize him as the Savior because of it? Christ is still known in the breaking of bread. But the people went further with reference to Christ, after they had been fed by the loaves and fishes: they concluded that he was a prophet, and they began whispering among themselves, "Let us make him a king." Now, in a better sense than the text implies, I would to God that you and I, though humbly and feebly, might serve Christ till people said, "Christ is a Prophet. Let us make him a King." This sermon I offer my Master, if he will be pleased to accept it, though it is but a barley cake, and I pray that by it some may take Jesus Christ to be their King. Oh, that he had a throne in the hearts of many whom he shall feed at this time with the bread of heaven! Brethren, I know that you wish to glorify Christ. Here is the way. Bring your loaves and fishes to Christ, that he may use them in his divine commissariat, and then he shall be magnified in the eyes of all the people. When the feast was finished, there were fragments to be gathered. This is a part of the history of the loaves they were not lost; they were eaten, but they were there; people were filled with them, but yet there was more of them left than when the feast began. Each disciple had a basketful to carry back to his Master's feet. Give yourself to Christ, and when you have used yourself for his glory, you will be more able to serve him than you are now; you shall find your little stock grow as you spend it. Remember Bunyan's picture of the man who had a roll of cloth. He unrolled it, and he cut off so much for the poor. Then he unrolled it, and cut off some more, and the more he cut it, the longer it grew. Upon which Bunyan remarks

"There was a man, and some did count him mad; The more he gave away, the more he had."

It is certainly so with talent and ability, and with grace in the heart. The more you use it, the more there is of it. It is often so with gold and silver: the store of the liberal man increases, while the miser grows poor. We have an old proverb, which is as true as it is suggestive: "Drawn wells have the sweetest waters." So, if you keep continually drawing on your mind, your thoughts will get sweeter; and if you continue to draw on your strength, your strength will get to be more mighty through God. The more you do, the more you may do, by the grace of the Ever-blessed One! Last of all, it came to pass, that these loaves had a record made about them. There is many a loaf that has gone to a king's table and yet never been chronicled; but this boy's five cakes and two little fishes have got into the Bible; and if you look, you will find the barley cakes in Matthew, you will find the barley cakes in Mark, you will find the barley cakes in Luke, you will find the barley cakes, where we have found our text, in John. To make quite sure that we should never forget how much God can do with little things, this story is told four times over, and it is the only one of Christ's miracles which has such an abundant record. And now, as a practical issue, let us put it to the test. You young people who have lately joined the church, do not be long before you try to do something for Christ. You that have for a long time been trusting Christ, and have never yet begun to work, arouse yourselves to attempt some service for his sake. Aged friends and sick friends can still find something to do. Perhaps, at the last, it will be found that the persons whom we might have excused on account of illness, or weakness, or poverty, are the people who have done the most. That, at least, is my observation. I find that, if there is a really good work done, it is usually done by an invalid, or by somebody who might very properly have said, "I pray thee, have me excused." How is it that so many able-bodied and gifted Christians seem to be so slow in the Master's service? If there is a political meeting, something about Liberals and Conservatives, how earnest you are! You are all there, every bit of you, over your politics, which are not worth a penny a year; but when it comes to souls being saved, many of you are mute as fishes. You go all the year round without caring even for the spiritual welfare of a little child. One of our friends gave a good answer to a brother who said to him, "I have been a member of a church now for forty years. I am a father in Israel." He asked him, "How many children have you? How many have you brought to Christ?" "Well," the man said, "I do not know that I ever brought anybody to Christ." Upon which our friend retorted, "Call yourself a father in Israel, and yet you have no children! I think you had better wait until you have earned the title." So do I. It would be better that we had no professors of that sort, but that all our members, even were they much fewer, should be men and women constantly bringing forth fruit unto God in the conversion of others. The Lord set you all to work with this object! I have almost done; but again I cannot help reminding those who are not Christ's, that while I have not directly preached to them, I have tried, by a side wind, to be preaching to them all the time. Either you are the Lord's, or you are not. If you are Christ's servant, take a sheet of paper, and write down, "Lord, I bring my loaves and fishes to thee;" and if you are not Christ's, confess the awful truth to yourself, and face it. I wish that you would make a record of it in black and white, putting down both name and date, "I am not Christ's." Take a good look at it, try and grasp what it means, to withhold yourself from him who loves you, and waits to save; then ask yourself why you are not his. I remember a woman, not long ago, who said that at her work it came across her mind, "I am not saved." She was sweeping the room, and when she finished that, she said to herself, "I have to cook the dinner, but I am not saved." She went into the kitchen, and had her fire all ready, and her food; but all the while she was putting things in the pot she kept saying to herself, "I am not saved;" and so it was when she was busy all the afternoon; and when her husband came home, she could not help blurting it out to him, "Oh, husband, I am not saved!" But he was; and he pointed her to Christ; they knelt together, and oh, how he prayed with her! She found that which she so earnestly sought, and it was not very many days before she could say, "Oh, husband, I am saved!" May that be the case with you! The Lord bless every one of you, wherever you may be! We shall all meet in the day of judgment. May you and I meet without fear there, to sing to the sovereign grace of God, which saved us from the wrath to come, and helped us while we were here to bring our little, and put it into Christ's hands! The Lord be with you! Amen.

Verse 24

Seeking for Jesus

August 21st, 1870 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Seeking for Jesus." John 6:24 .

The persons who are here described as seeking for Jesus, were looking after him from a very mean and selfish motive, not because of the gracious words which he spake, nor to render him thanks for benefits received at his hands, but merely because they had eaten of the loaves and fishes, and hoped to do so again. From such sordid motives let us flee. May we all shun with detestation the very idea of making a profession of religion for the sake of worldly advantage; it is detestable to the last degree. Those who seek Jesus Christ with the grovelling desire to make a gain of godliness are hypocrites of the meanest order; like Judas they will follow the Lord while they can filch from the bag, and like that "son of perdition," they will sell him when the twenty pieces of silver are the reward of treachery. Let them know that such gain will involve their souls' eternal loss. I shall apply the words before us to those who really and spiritually seek Jesus, seek him as Jesus the Savior who saves his people from their sins. Last Sabbath morning I tried to speak concerning maturity in grace, giving the advanced believer a word; and as we are bound to give a portion of meat in due season to all classes, I will now deal with those who are but babes in grace, if indeed they be babes at all; I shall speak to those who cannot say, "We have found him," but who are earnestly "seeking for Jesus." I. First, let us notice THE CHARACTER OF THE STATE described as "seeking for Jesus." In it there is a mingling of good and evil. We see in it much of light, but too much of darkness. It is neither day nor night, a dim twilight, hopeful but overclouded. I may call it "not light, but darkness visible." It is one of those miry places, a marsh, not altogether sea, and certainly not land. Like the brackish water of the river's mouth, not altogether salt, but assuredly not sweet. "Seeking for Jesus" has a large amount of hopefulness in it; it is as the almond tree in blossom, though as yet fruit there is not. The seeker at any rate is not indifferent now; he is not a careless sluggard, demanding yet more sleep and folding of the hands; he is not a defiant rebel, daring the wrath of God with blasphemous audacity; he is no longer a denier of revelation; he would not be seeking for Jesus unless he had some kind of faith at any rate, a theoretical faith in a Savior, and in his need of him. Now it is a very encouraging sign when we see men aroused and willing to hear. When we can bring men to think, we are very grateful, for thoughtfulness lies on the road to conviction of sin, and conviction is on the way to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am glad, my dear friend, that you are now no longer deaf to the appeals of God's word; it is well that your ear is open, and though as yet what you hear is far from bringing you any comfort, rest assured it is a great blessing to you to hear the truth, even when it condemns you. I rejoice to see you under concern, and I hope that something may come of it. Your face is now turned in the right direction, now that you are it seeking for Jesus." When you sought sinful pleasure you were facing the pit of hell, now your face is heavenward. I am glad that Jesus is the object of your search, for depend upon it, nothing else is worth seeking for: salvation from sin and hell should be the first object of your soul's desire. For an alarmed and awakened sinner to seek rest in ceremonies, will be a search for bread among ashes; to labor for salvation by thine own righteousness, will be looking for substance among dreams. Thy seeking after Jesus shows that thou art on the right tack, and though as yet thou hast not reached the haven, the helm is set in the right direction, and I am grateful to God for it, and encouraged concerning thee. I regard thy present state as the little cloud which foretells the coming rain; but, alas! I may be disappointed, and the early cloud may melt into nothingness. Hope tells a flattering tale, but she may be deceived. What a pleasing sight it is to see a man who has formerly been prayerless, casting himself upon his knees in secret! How gratifying to see the unread Bible brought out from the dust and carefully studied! Methinks an angel must look on with holy interest when he sees the fresh tear fall in the solitary chamber, and the unaccustomed suppliant bow before his God. Glad are those blessed spirits when they hear the seeker say, "O God, I will seek thee until I find thee; I will cry unto thee till I receive an answer of peace." Intelligence of such a vow would make a church rejoice in hope; trusting that the time for newborn children of God to be found in her midst was fully come. A heart that turns itself to Christ if haply it may find him, is evidently in a hopeful condition. Yet in the state of "seeking for Jesus" there is much that is doubtful; for, my brethren, the seeker after Christ remains disobedient to the great command of the gospel. If he were obedient to the great gospel precept, he would at once cease to be a seeker, and become a happy finder. What is the command of the gospel? "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Properly speaking, Christ is not an object for seeking, he is not far from any of us; like the brazen serpent uplifted by Moses, he is not so much to be looked for as looked at. We have neither to clamber to heaven to find him in the loftiness of his Deity, and bring him down; nor dive into the chambers of Hades, to bring him up again from the dead. Thus saith the Lord, "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. A prayer will reach him, a wish will find him, a groan will pierce his heart do but confide in him, and he is yours. The first command of the gospel to guilty sinners is not to pray, to search the Scriptures, to attend upon sermons all these are natural duties, and woe unto the man who neglects any of them; but the command, the special command of the gospel is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!" Now, the seeking sinner is disobedient to the command. He is going about hither and thither seeking, but he declines trusting; he is eagerly looking abroad for that which is at home; he is seeking for peace afar off when it is nigh him. He looks east and west to behold a wonder, while the Wonderful, the Savior, stands at his right hand ready to forgive. The way of salvation for me as a sinner is simply this, that I, being a sinner, do now put my trust in Christ Jesus the substitute for sinners. God has set forth his crucified Son as the accepted propitiation for sin: the way of salvation is that I accept him for what God has set him forth, namely, as the atonement for my sin, in which I place my sole reliance. Seeing he is God, seeing he took upon himself the nature of man, seeing that as mediator he suffered in the stead of as many as trust in him, I trust him, and I obtain thereby the blessed result of his sufferings I am in fact thereby saved. Now, it is some good thing certainly to be a seeker, but it is also an ill thing if I follow my seeking and refuse God's way of salvation. Hear what the apostle John saith: "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." This is no small sin to be guilty of, and it entails no small punishment, for "he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Suppose that I have been told of a remedy for my disease. Well, it is so far good that I desire to be cured of my deadly malady, it is so far hopeful that I have sent for a physician. But after being informed that there is the one specific for my disease, and that it alone will certainly heal me if I were still to continue seeking a remedy, or to say I am seeking this one true remedy, I shall remain sick, and ultimately die. I shall never be healed unless I take that which is prescribed: to seek it is not enough, I must actually take it. In seeking, then, there is some good, but oh, how much of evil! Here are gleams and flashes of light, but oh, how dense is the darkness! Here is a little smoke in the flax, but I dare scarcely call it a spark. O seeker for Jesus, think of this, for while I would not discourage thee, yet would I encourage thee to end thy seeking by becoming a believer. Look not at salvation's cup, but drink of it. Stand not by the fountain's brim, but wash in it and be clean. O may the Holy Spirit lead thee to cease thy search for goodly pearls, for the pearl of great price is before thee. Jesus is not to be discovered as a secret, he stands before thee openly. Behold his hands and his feet, mark well his riven side, and as thou lookest, trust, and henceforth he is all thine own. Hear, dear friend, your true position. It is the case of a soldier on the battle field, wounded, bleeding, life oozing away from him, he is perishing, but he is sufficiently sensible to know it and to call for help. The surgeon is on the field within hearing, the sufferer pleads for relief with many cries and entreaties. So far well; but I pray you remember that crying and weeping will not of themselves heal the sick man the surgeon must actually come and bind up his wounds; and if he refuses to receive him, he may cry as he wills, but he will bleed to death. So remember that your prayers and seekings of themselves cannot save you, Jesus must come to you, and it is madness on your part to refuse him by your unbelief. To give another similitude: you are to-day like the manslayer of old, you have done the murderous deed, vengeance is armed against you; swift as lightning judgment pursues you; you are not now slumbering in foolish security, or presumptuously defying the avenger, but happily you are so aroused that you are running towards the city of refuge. I delight to mark your earnest running, but run as you may, you are not safe until you are within the city gate; the most vigorous running will not save you if it do not end within the walls of refuge. To enter that open gate, to dwell within that sheltering wall, to enjoy the privilege of sanctuary this is safety; all else is but hope of escape, and not deliverance itself. To pray, to hear, to desire, to seek all this is the roadway and the running, but Christ himself must be laid hold upon by faith, or we are not saved. Run, man, but oh! take care that thou run in God's way, by faith in Jesus, and not by trusting in thy resolves and feelings. Thou must have Christ to be thine by personal faith, or thou must die eternally. Let me give yet another picture. You are like one who has been asleep in a burning house. At last you are awakened; the cries of those who would fain save you have broken your deadly slumbers. You start up in horror. I think I see you now at the upper window, with the flames drawing near to you. You clearly perceive your danger, you passionately clamor for aid; all your energies are aroused. So far, good; but, man, all this will not rescue thee; thou must get into the fire escape which is now uplifted to the window. Art thou unwilling to take the one and only way of escape? It is close to thee; it is suitable, it is efficient; why seek another? There it is, and precisely what thou needest. Thy present alarm will only be the prelude of thy despair, if thou dost put from thee the way of escape. I put these figures before you that you may see that while you are only seeking for Jesus, your best friends dare not altogether hope for you, but are led to tremble too. We wonder which way the scale will turn, your future quivers in the balances. As anxious eyes watch a laboring barque making with difficulty for port, and in imminent danger of the rocks, so watch we you. We see you like Lot and his family, ready to leave the City of Destruction, but you have not yet reached the mountain, and our heart asks concerning you, "Will he linger in the plain? Will he look back? Or will he altogether be delivered?" If you remain as you are, there is no hope of you. All the supposed good which is now in you, is vanity itself if it leaves you short of Christ. Remember well this verse, and I will pass on:

"Why those fears, poor seeking sinner? Why those anxious, gloomy fears? Sighs and sorrowings cannot save thee, Healing dwells not in thy tears; 'Tis BELIEVING Which the soul to Christ endears."

II. The second part of our discourse shall deal with THE PERPLEXITIES OF THIS STATE. "Seeking for Jesus" is a state of heart in which the poor soul is usually very much put to it "tumbled up and down in his thoughts," as John Bunyan would say; for first seekers are very often much perplexed, as the result of their ignorance of the way of salvation. Too often, awakened souls, though they may have heard the gospel, do not in their hearts understand it. Many enquirers do not know what faith is. I am persuaded millions of our fellow country-men do not know what believing in Jesus means. Though every Sabbath-day they are told, yet do they not catch the thought, for the Spirit of God has not illuminated their minds. To believe in Jesus, as we say again, and again, and again, is simply to trust in Jesus to take God at his word, to take Christ for what God says he is, namely, the atonement, the satisfaction for sin, the Savior of sinners. But poor, troubled consciences think faith is a deep mystery, and they go about like blind men groping for the wall; they wander like travelers in a dense fog, not knowing which way leads to their homes; hoping, but hoping against hope, by reason of ignorance. Many, though desirous to be saved, do not understand the work of Christ, or know what atonement is. Though the doctrine of substitution, which is the very marrow of the gospel, is to believers so very plain, yet many seekers have not learned it. That Jesus bore the sin of his people; that "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;" that he was made a sin for us; that justice received its due at his hands; this precious fact many penitent sinners have not grasped. They still think there is so much repentance to do, so much feeling to endure, so much praying to go through, so much mystery to be experienced; but the plain, simple precept, "Believe and live," trust and be accepted, hide under the shadow of the cross and be safe this, through ignorance, they do not understand, and this involves them in trouble upon trouble, till their way is hedged up with thorns. At such times, too, to increase their perplexity, they are usually distracted with fear. Persons in a panic act generally in the worst conceivable manner for their own safety, and an awakened sinner is in much the same condition; a terrible sound is in his ears, he hears the rumbling of the everlasting tempest, he sees the gathering storm. He knows not what to do, nor whither to flee. His sins, which once appeared such trifles, now rise before him like mountains of blackness; the wrath of God, which once he defied, makes him exceeding fear and quake. He sees the dark record of his transgressions, and anticipates the hour when all his sins shall be read before the assembled universe, and the sentence of wrath shall go forth against him. Whither shall he flee! He scarce knows how or where to fly. A spirit distracted with dread is never a wise spirit, and often is goaded on to madness. Pressed out of measure with forebodings of heart, and threatenings of conscience, many a man refusing to believe in Jesus, has laid violent hands upon himself. Do you wonder, then, that souls under a sense of sin and fear of wrath, are far from being calm and collected, but rather are like mariners in a storm, who "reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man"? How soon would their bewilderment end in sweet repose, if they would obey the divine mandate and accept the great salvation! During these struggles for life, the mind is usually harassed with a thousand questions. The newly-awakened mind is very apt to lose itself in the many spiritual problems which lie before it. The man cared nothing for these matters before, but now he has even a morbid craving after knowledge; he seems as if he could not learn too much or too fast. How many an enquirer instead of turning to the cross, worries himself with intricacies of doctrine, vexed points which belong rather to metaphysics than to divinity! They are fascinated by the "things hard to be understood," and forget the truths which a wayfaring man, though a fool, may readily comprehend. How many ask themselves, "Are we elect?" when their enquiry should be, "How can a man be cleansed from iniquity?" Forsooth, they must learn Latin and Greek before they know their letters, and must fathom the doctrine of election before they will believe in the redemption of Jesus. They would come to the Father before they have come to the Son, and learn their predestination before their pardon. That which has perplexed the wisest of men, namely, how to reconcile divine ordination with the free agency of man, they attempt to grapple with while they are in danger of the unquenchable fire. They philosophise at hell's mouth, and debate in the jaws of perdition. You may show them how absurd it is, as absurd as for a drowning man to wish to quibble about hydraulics, and refuse to lay hold on the friendly rope until he understands some mystery in hydrostatics; or, as if a person sorely sick refused all surgery until he understood anatomy, and comprehended the secret influences of drugs upon the divers portions of the body. Yet some enquirers will abide in this folly. I do not wonder at it, when I remember how foolish man is by nature. Men who have left the whole spiritual realms untrodden are very apt, when they see it open up suddenly before their eyes, to aspire in their hearts' pride to stand upon its loftiest peaks, to climb its Himalayas, to swim its Bosphorus, to fathom its Atlantic, and from this cause they forget its green pastures and still waters. I would have every convinced sinner here listen to my word this morning. Friend, thou hast to do with the plain truth of the gospel namely, this, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners" sinners such as thou art, and faith links thee to that Savior. When thou hast learned that lesson, then shalt thou discover that God hath chosen thee from the beginning, that he hath ordained thee unto eternal life; but as yet thou canst not unriddle that matter. Leave thou that glorious doctrine till first thy soul be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. It is plain, however, that this appetite for strong meat takes off the babe from the unadulterated milk of the word. These questions help to confuse, trouble, worry, and distract the seeker for Jesus. At this hour too, to make confusion more confounded, Satan is quite sure to assail the soul with his diabolical insinuations and suggestions, with strong temptations and despairing thoughts. No king will willingly lose his subjects, and Satan when he sees his captives about to turn runaways, sets extra guards around them. He will set others on to tempt them, or be will come himself personally and inject into the soul the most horrible thoughts, the most blasphemous suggestions, and the most despairing forebodings that can be conceived of. Having felt this, I speak tenderly to such as may now be exercised with them. Marvel not at them, neither be dismayed. If thou canst, by the Holy Spirit's help, resist Satan, he will flee from thee; if thou canst assail him with "it is written," he will leave thee; but be not astonished if now for awhile the fiery darts fly thick as hail. He has his mitrailleuses from which he can vomit ten thousand shots at once upon a poor lost soul, and make it feel as though it were broken in pieces all asunder with horror and dismay. Thou wilt triumph over him yet if thou believest: the Lord will bruise Satan under thy feet shortly. Be thou of good courage! Though thou fall, thou shalt rise again; faith will lift thee up in the power of Jesus. I marvel not that when that dog of hell howls in thine ears, thy spirit is sorely put to it for comfort. It may be also that when the soul is seeking for Jesus, it is at the same time much grieved to find it cannot even now cease from sin. "My old sins," saith the heart, "I would be rid of them, but how can I hope for forgiveness, for I have sinned this very day? I went to my chamber, and I bowed my knee, and said, 'God be merciful to me, a sinner!' and I came down stairs resolved to be watchful, but something vexed me, and I spoke unadvisedly. How can I think God will have mercy on me?" Or saith another, "I was seeking the Savior this morning; but I went out to my business, and I met with worldly company, and I forgot my Lord: I am afraid I mingled with them so closely as to participate in their sinful mirth, and now how can the Lord have any pity upon such a hypocritical seeker as I have been?" As if that poor heart expected to be perfect before it had even found pardon! As if a patient expected to be perfectly well before he had followed the advice of his physician! My dear hearer, if you were able to cease from all sin for a single day, I am sure you would be out of place on earth, for heaven is the place for perfect people, and not this sinful earth. If a fountain sent forth nothing but pure water for one whole day, we might conclude that it was completely purified. The bearing of good fruit for one season would prove the tree to be good. If your heart abstained from sin of itself throughout one day, it might for another, and so on for ever, and where would be the need of a Savior? What, dost thou not know that Christ came to save thee from thy new sins as well as from thine old transgressions? Is his arm too short to reach thy daily needs? His blood of too little power to wash away thy fresh pollutions? Hast thou still some hope of bettering thyself? Have done with this trifling. Confess thyself a helpless sinner, shapen in iniquity, conceived in sin, depraved in heart, and, therefore, needing the never-ceasing mercy of the Lord thy God. Come, wash now in the fountain filled with blood, and if sin returneth, ask Jesus to wash thy feet again. Make Jesus your sole reliance. Cry to him, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Nothing else can end your perplexities; you cannot untie the Gordian knot of your difficulties, cut it, then, by leaving all to Jesus. You cannot overcome your sins except by the blood of the Lamb. You cannot be what you should be, nor what you would be, except by taking Jesus to be your all in all. Here is a song for you

"At last I own it cannot be That I should fit myself for thee: Here, then, to thee I all resign; Thine is the work, and only thine.

What shall I say thy grace to move? I give up every plea beside, Lord I am sin, but thou art love: Lord, I am lost but thou hast died!"

III. And now, in the third place, let me warn you of THE DANGERS OF THE STATE of "seeking for Jesus." I have already told you that there is much of hopefulness, but there is much of peril in your condition. Dear seeker, what a sad thing it is that you should be wasting so much time, and losing so much comfort, by this long-continued seeking, when it might all end so happily even now at this present hour. Hadst thou believed in Jesus at the very first, thou hadst had light at once. How often would he have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but you would not! If you will trust him now, the day star shall shine in your heart. You are like Hopeful and Christian in Giant Despair's Castle. They lamented and bemoaned their common sorrow, and planned divers unavailable methods of escape; but at last Christian, as one half amazed, broke out into this passionate speech: "What a fool, quoth he, am I to lie in this stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle." Then said Hopeful, "That's good news: good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom, and try." My awakened hearer, this is your condition. You have in your bosom, and you have in God's word, that which will unlock every door in your prison-house. Up, man, and try it now. Canst thou not believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that God has sent Jesus to bear thy sin? Canst thou not trust in him? If thou canst, thou art free; thy sins are forgiven thee, thou art saved. You have perhaps heard the incident of a dove pursued by a hawk, which flew into the bosom of a man who was walking in the fields, and you remember that it was safely protected by him whom it had trusted. The dove would not of itself have flown there, but under the terror of the hawk it sought a shelter. You have been afraid of Jesus, you have thought he would not receive you. But now that hell pursues you, be venturesome, and fly to him. Say as our hymn puts it:

"I can but perish if I go I am resolved to try; For if I stay away, I know I must for ever die."

If Christ stood with a drawn sword in his hand, you had better run on the point of his sword than perish without him. O come thou to him, driven by desperation itself, if by nothing else, come into his bosom! Thou shalt have peace at once. But all the while thou remainest seeking, I know not in what distracted manner, thou art wasting time, thou art missing comfort, thou art losing opportunities of happiness. Cease thy seeking, for there is the Man whom you seek. He stands revealed before thee. Reach hither thy finger and put it into the print of the nails; or if that be too bold, touch but the hem of his garment, and thou shalt be made whole. Another evil is not only the losing present peace and comfort, but the danger of being driven to despair. I do not doubt that some persons who were once sincere but unrenewed seekers, have now given up all thought of seeking Christ, because they continued to seek when he was near them, to look for him instead of looking to him; and they have waited so long in prayer and Bible reading, and so on, that now they utterly despair, and give all up as hopeless. It is no wonder. If you will try to do a thing in a wrong way, you cannot hope to succeed. If a man will not plough and sow, neither shall he reap. If ye will not believe, neither shall ye be established. A person may be very industrious indeed in what he does, but if he follows a method which never can produce the result he desires, he must not be surprised when he is disappointed. You are a seeker, and I am glad you are; but if you will not put your trust in Jesus, and lay your burden down at the cross where he offered the great sacrifice, it is no marvel if you continue to seek in vain. It will be a great sorrow, but it will not be a great wonder, if you become at last despairing, and are shut up in the iron cage. O man, O woman, break away from this. May God's Holy Spirit come to your rescue now! Give up thine own ideas of how to get peace, take God's method of salvation, and lay hold on eternal life by trusting in the Savior slain. Another danger is that in some cases, seeking at length dies out in indifference. Having sought after a fashion by prayer, and failing to find peace at once, temptations to go back to the world's pleasure attack the soul, and too often it becomes henceforth impervious to exhortations and expostulations. The unbroken, unrenewed heart grows sullen, and declares, "I tried, but I did not succeed. I may as well have what pleasure I can have, for spiritual joys are denied me. If the world to come cannot be mine, I will have this world and take my fill of it." I pray you may never be driven to that, but my fear is that if you tarry long in this border land, seeking but yet halting between two opinions, undecided and unbelieving, at last you will relapse into your former state of spiritual slumber, and your last end will be worse than the first. Another danger is lest you should take up with something short of Jesus Christ. I have known persons who have been content to remain seekers all their days. They have felt comforted by the thought that they are seekers. Now, such comfort is daubing with untempered mortar. A man out of employment has been walking up and down the London streets to find something to do. His family is in need, and he must find a situation. He is quite right to seek, but he will not be satisfied with seeking, he wants to find. Tramping the street will not feed his children. He is not contented with having called at many shops; he will not rest till he finds what he is after and he would be very foolish if he did. So to be a seeker after Christ, walking up and down the streets as it were, will not fill your hungry soul; you must get Christ himself. If any unemployed father of a family were to say, "Well, I walk about so many days in the week, and so many hours in the day, and I am quite satisfied, though I do not find anything to do," you would think him a great simpleton. And so with you. It is a good sign when there is an appetite; but a mere appetite does not satisfy a man he must eat the food provided. Your seeking Christ will not save you, except it leads you in very deed to believe in Jesus. It is an ill sign when a man says, "Well, I am doing my best, I am always at a place of worship, I am a Bible reader, I practice prayer at home, I do my best." My dear friend, if you settle down in that idea, you are self-righteous, and are off the road altogether; besides, you are lying to your own heart, for after all you are at enmity with Cod, and the sign of that enmity is this, that you refuse to believe on his dear Son. If you were reconciled to God you would love Jesus Christ, and trust in him. I see what it is you have resolved, after all, to be your own saviour; you still think that there is something in outward religion to produce salvation; whereas, I solemnly assure you that, if you stand out against believing in Christ, if you will not fly to those dear wounds of his, if you will not hide beneath the shelter of the atonement, you will go to hell as well from a place of worship as from the haunts of sin, and will perish as certainly with a Bible read as with a Bible burned.

"None but Jesus, none but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good."

"Oh, but," you say, "I feel my sins so much!" Yes, but if you trust in your feelings you will perish in them as much as though you wallowed in your sins. O soul, resolve with Toplady

"He that suffer'd in my stead, Shall my Physician be I will not be comforted Till Jesus comforts me."

Never hope to be saved except by God's way of salvation. O that the Holy Ghost would enable you in your heart to say, "Now I come to thee, O Jesus; guilty as I am, I lift my eye to thee, and this is my prayer: 'Help me for thy mercy's sake; have pity upon me and cleanse me in thy blood, for I put all my trust in thee.'" Resolve, O seeker, to have no refuge of lies, no Savior but the Lamb of God. I will confess to you, dear seeker, that often and often I am myself personally driven to do what I trust you may be led to do to-day. I look back upon my past life, and while I have much to thank God for, much in which to see his Spirit's hand, yet when I feel my responsibilities and my shortcomings, my heart sinks within me. When I think of my transgressions, better known to myself than to any one else, and remember too that they are not known even to me as they are to God, I feel all hope swept away and my soul left in utter despair, until I come anew to the cross, and bethink me of who it was that died there, and why he died, and what designs of infinite mercy are answered by his death. It is so sweet to look up to the Crucified One again, and say, "I have nought but thee, my Lord, no confidence but thee. If thou be not accepted as my substitute I must perish, if God's appointed Savior be not enough I have no other, but I know thou art the Father's Wellbeloved, and I am accepted in thee. Thou art all I want, and all I have." How I desire, with intense longing, that you may do the same; it would be a blessed day for you, and for me a joyful occasion. The Jews in the present chapter asked our Savior, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" and he said, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." The greatest of all works, the most Godlike work, is to leave off self-righteous seeking, and trust in Jesus. IV. Now I will conclude by delivering one or two DIRECTIONS TO THOSE WHO ARE "SEEKING FOR JESUS." Very brief shall these be. The first direction is give attention, dear friend, to the object of faith. The only way by which you can be saved is by faith. Take that to be settled. Now if a man says, "I cannot believe such a thing" what then? What is his wisest course? Suppose you find a difficulty in believing a report what do you do? why, you consider the probabilities of it. Suppose it, had been rumoured that the Emperor Napoleon had shot himself. Shall I believe the report? I will ask whence the rumor comes, what intelligence corroborates it, upon what authority it is stated, and soon; by that means I arrive at a conclusion whether it is probably true, or is a mere idle tale. Now if you earnestly desire to believe, faith is the gift of God, and a work of the Spirit, but God works according to the laws of mind, and faith in Christ will most readily come to you in conformity with those laws. "Faith cometh by hearing," how by hearing? Why, because by hearing I learn the truth concerning Christ, and what I hear commends itself to my judgment and understanding, and so I come to believe. Faith comes to us by reading which is another form of hearing. Read what the Scripture has to say about the Messiah and his work, and you will be helped to believe God's testimony, by knowing what it is and on what authority it comes to you. Let your hearing and your reading be accompanied with meditation; like the Virgin Mary, ponder these things in your heart. "Incline your ear," saith the Spirit, "and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live." Now, that inclining of the ear means a devout and diligent attention to the good news, and a weighing of it in your inmost heart. Now look at it, you have sinned, and God must punish sin. These two facts are clear enough to your conscience. Is it not a marvellous system that God should be pleased to put away sin through an atonement, by laying the sin upon another, and punishing it in the person of his Son? Do you know of any other system that would meet the case so well, that would be so suitable to you? I believe that the authenticity of Scripture is better proved by the very existence of this doctrine than by anything else, for no human mind could ever have contrived or conceived of a way so just to God, and yet so infinitely gracious. I feel sure it is true, I am certain of it. Then I find it promised over and over again by God himself, that if I trust Christ I shall have the benefit of all his work. I therefore believe the thing is reasonable, it is proclaimed by divine authority. I have God's promise for it, I know that the Almighty One cannot lie; I cheerfully accept what be provides for me, and I am saved. My dear hearer, if thou findest it hard to believe, shut thyself up this afternoon in thy room, and come not out again till thou hast pictured to thy mind's eye the everlasting God unveiling himself of his ineffable splendours, and taking upon himself the nature of man; behold that glorious one nailed to Calvary's tree, forsaken of God, crying out in anguish, and dying without a friend, and all to make an atonement to the law of God! As thou art fixing thine eyes upon this, and bowing in humble prayer, faith will come to thee, the Holy Ghost will over-shadow thee and beget it in thy soul; faith will drop in thy soul like the dew from heaven; thou wilt wonder to find the hardness of thine heart all gone, and thine unbelief all departed, and thou wilt say, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Another direction, however, is take care, my dear friend, to clear away as for as possible, everything that would hinder your believing. Now you may depend upon it that going into sin binders believing. You cannot continue in wilful sin and yet become a believer; sin cherished in the heart is an effectual hindrance. A man cannot be tied to a post and yet run away at the same time; if you bind yourself to your sin, you cannot escape. Withdraw at once from evil company it is a very deadly mischief to young seekers. You hear an impressive sermon, but then you go away talking with idle gossips, and you fall into frivolous chit-chat on the Sabbath afternoon; you cannot expect your soul to grow in the right direction under such influences. Get you to your knees, get you to solitude, get you to your God, get, you to Jesus Christ; this it is that will roll away the stone which blocks the door. And, once again, do remember that till you have believed, your danger is of the most imminent kind. You are not in danger of something future only, you are in peril even now, for the wrath of God abideth on you. You are not like a city which is to be attacked by troops yet at a distance: the Judge is even at the door. You are actually besieged. The foes have encompassed you round about; they lift the scaling ladders, they will soon scale the walls. Beware, O sinner, beware, for thy present state is terrible; thy future state will be hopeless. To-day is the accepted time. Now or never it is with some of you now escape for your lives: now seek, but seek in the right way, by believing in him who is the Savior of the sons of men. How I have longed, this morning, for a tongue like the pen of a ready writer; how I have opened my mouth and panted to speak these things in passionate earnest, for I hunger for your salvation. Speak from my soul I do, but I cannot preach as I would, else would I saturate this sermon with my tears. O that the Master might bless even my weakness of speech to carry home the truth to your hearts and consciences. I do not like to let one of you go unless you have thought over these things, and have given your hearts to Jesus. I shall probably never address many of you again, certainly not all of you. You have come across the sea and you are going to the ends of the earth, some of you. I speak in God's name. O now, ere yet thou hast gone from under the sound of the word, now let the believing look be given: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." It is the cry of the crucified Savior. Turn not away from that dear voice so full of anguish, hide not your eyes from that brow still marked with the thorn-crown, despise not those nailed hands and feet, but yield to him as again he cries in agony of love, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." O Lord, do thou turn them, and they shall be turned. Amen.

Verse 37

The Sum and Substance of all Theology

June 25th, 1861



Note: On Tuesday, June 25th, 1861, the beloved C. H. Spurgeon visited

Swansea. The day was wet, so the services could not be held in the

open-air; and, as no building in the town was large enough to hold the

vast concourses of people who had come from all parts to hear the

renowned preacher, he consented to deliver two discourses in the

morning; first at Bethesda, and then at Trinity Chapel. At each place

he preached for an hour and a quarter. The weather cleared up during

the day; so, in the evening, Mr. Spurgeon addressed an immense

gathering of people in the open-air.

"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that

cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."-- John 6:37 .

What a difference there is between the words of Christ, and those

of all mere man! Most men speak many words, yet say but little;

Christ speaks few words, yet says very much. In modern books,

you may read scores of pages, and scarcely come across a new

thought; but when Christ speaks, every syllable seems to tell. He

hits the nail on the head each time He lifts the hammer of His

Word. The Words of Christ are like ingots of solid gold; we

preachers too often beat out the gold so thin, that whole acres of

it would scarcely be worth a farthing. The Words of Christ are

always to be distinguished from those of His creatures, not only

for their absolute truthfulness, but also for their profound fulness

of matter. In all His language He is "full of grace and truth." Look

at the text before us. Here we have, in two small sentences, the

sum and substance of all theology. The great questions which

have divided the Church in all ages, the apparently contradictory

doctrines which have set one minister of Christ against his fellow,

are here revealed so simply and plainly, "that he may run that

readeth" (Habakkuk ii.2). Even a child may understand the

Words of Christ, though perhaps the loftiest human intellect

cannot fathom the mystery hidden therein.

Take the first sentence of my text: "All that the Father giveth Me

shall come to Me." What a weighty sentence! Here we have

taught us what is called, in the present day, "High Calvinistic

doctrine"--the purpose of God; the certainty that God's purpose

will stand; the invincibility of God's will; and the absolute

assurance that Christ "shall see of the travail of His soul, and

shall be satisfied."

Look at the second sentence of my text: "And him that cometh to

me I will in no wise cast out." Here we have the richness, the

fulness, the unlimited extent of the power of Christ to save those

who put their trust in Him. Here is a text upon which one might

preach a thousand sermons. We might take these two sentences

as a life-long text, and never exhaust the theme.

Mark, too, how our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the whole truth.

We have many ministers who can preach well upon the first

sentence: "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." Just

set them going upon Election, or everlasting covenant

engagements, and they will be earnest and eloquent, for they are

fond of dwelling upon these points, and a well-instructed child of

God can hear them with delight and profit. Such preachers are

often the fathers of the Church, and the very pillars thereof; but,

unfortunately, many of these excellent brethren cannot preach so

well upon the second sentence of my text: "And him that cometh

to Me I will in no wise cast out." When they get to that truth, they

are half afraid of it; they hesitate to preach what they consider to

be a too open salvation. They cannot give the gospel invitation as

freely as they find it in the Word of God. They do not deny it, yet

they stutter and stammer sadly, when they get upon this theme.

Then, on the other hand, we have a large number of good

ministers who can preach on this second clause of the text, but

they cannot preach on the first clause. How fluent is their

language as they tell out the freeness of salvation! Here they are

much at home in their preaching; but, we are sorry to be

compelled to say that, very often, they are not much at home

when they come to doctrinal matters, and they would find it

rather a difficult matter to preach fluently on the first sentence of

my text. They would, if they attempted to preach from it,

endeavour to cut out of it all that savours of Divine Sovereignty.

They do not preach the whole "truth" which "is in Jesus."

Why is it that some of us do not see both sides of God's revealed

truth? We persist in closing one eye; we will not see all that may

be seen if we open both our eyes; and, sometimes, we get angry

with a brother because he can see a little more than we do. I think

our text is very much like a stereoscopic picture, for it presents

two views of the truth. Both views are correct, for they are both

photographed by the same light. How can we bring these two

truths together? We get the stereoscope of the scripture, and

looking with both eyes, the two pictures melt into one. God has

given us, in His Word, the two pictures of divine truth; but we

have not all got the stereoscope properly adjusted to make them

melt into one. When we get to heaven, we shall see how all God's

truth harmonizes. If we cannot make these two parts of truth

harmonize now, at any rate we must not dare to blot out one of

them, for God has given them both.

Now, as God shall help me this morning, I want to expand both

sentences of my text with equal fidelity and plainness. I shall not

expect to please some of you while speaking on the first

sentence, and I shall not be surprised if I fail to please others of

you when I come to the second sentence; but, in ether case, it will

be a small matter to me if I have an easy conscience because I

have proclaimed what I believe to be the whole truth of God. I

am sure you will be willing to give a patient hearing to that which

you may not fully receive, if you believe it to be declared in all

honesty. Reject what I say, if it be not true, but if it be the Word

of God, receive it; and, be it known unto you that it is at your

peril if you dare to reject the truthful Word of the glad tidings of


I. I will begin with the first sentence of the text: "All that the

Father giveth Me shall come to Me." We have here, first, THE FIRM


It rests, you perceive, not on something which man does, but on

something which God the Father does. The Father gives certain

persons to His Son, and the Son says, "All that the Father giveth

Me Shall come to Me." I take it that the meaning of the text is

this,--that, if any do come to Jesus Christ, it is those whom the

Father gave to Christ. And the reason why they come,--if we

search to the very bottom of things,--is, that the Father puts it into

their hearts to come. The reason why one man is saved, and

another man is lost, is to be found in God; not in anything which

the saved man did, or did not do; not in anything which he felt, or

did not feel; but in something altogether irrespective of himself,

even in the sovereign grace of God. In the day of God's power,

the saved are made willing to give their souls to Jesus. The

language of Scripture must explain this point. "As many as

received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of

God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born,

not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,

but of God" (John i. 12, 13). "So then it is not of him that willeth,

nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans

ix. 16). If you want to see the fount of grace, you must go to the

everlasting God; even as, if you want to know why that river runs

in this direction, and not in that, you must trace it up to its source.

In the case of every soul that is now in heaven, it was the will of

God that drew it thither. In the case of every spirit that is on its

way to glory now, unto God and unto Him alone must be the

honour of its salvation; for He it is who makes one "differ from

another" (1 Cor. iv. 7).

I do not care to argue upon this point, except I put it thus: If any

say, "It is man himself who makes the difference," I reply, "You

are involving yourself in a great dilemma; if man himself makes

the difference, then mark--man himself must have the glory."

Now, I am certain you do not mean to give man the glory of his

own salvation; you would not have men throw up their caps in

heaven, and shout, "Unto ourselves be the glory, for we,

ourselves, were the hinge and turning point of our own salvation."

No, you would have all the saved cast their crowns at the feet of

Jesus, and give to Him alone all the honour and all the glory.

This, however, cannot be, unless, in that critical point, that

diamond hinge upon which man's salvation shall turn, God shall

have the control, and not the will of man. You know that those

who do not believe this truth as a matter of doctrine, do believe it

in their hearts as a matter of experience.

I was preaching, not very long ago, at a place in Derbyshire, to a

congregation, nearly all of whom were Methodists, and as I

preached, they were crying out, "Hallelujah! Glory! Bless the

Lord!." They were full of excitement, until I went on to say in my

sermon, "This brings me to the doctrine of Election." There was

no crying out of "Glory!" and "Hallelujah!" then. Instead, there

was a great deal of shaking of the head, and a sort of telegraphing

round the place, as though something dreadful was coming. Now,

I thought, I must have their attention again, so I said, "You all

believe in the doctrine of Election?" "No, we don't, lad," said one.

"Yes, you do, and I am going to preach it to you, and make you

cry 'Hallelujah!' over it." I am certain they mistrusted my power

to do that; so, turning a moment from the subject, I said, "Is there

any difference between you and the ungodly world?" "Ay! Ay!

Ay!" "Is there any difference between you and the drunkard, the

harlot, the blasphemer?" "Ay! Ay! Ay!" Ay! there was a

difference indeed. "Well, now," I said, "there is a great

difference; who made it, then?" for, whoever made the difference,

should have the glory of it. "Did you make the difference?" "No,

lad," said one; and the rest all seemed to join in the chorus. "Who

made the difference, then? Why, the Lord did it; and did you

think it wrong for Him to make a difference between you and

other men?" "No, no," they quickly said. "Very well, then; if it

was not wrong for God to make the difference, it was not wrong

for Him to purpose to make it, and that is the doctrine of

Election." Then they cried, "Hallelujah!" as I said they would.

The doctrine of Election is God's purposing in His heart that He

would make some men better than other men; that He would give

to some men more grace than to other men; that some should

come out and receive the mercy; that others, left to their own free

will, should reject it; that some should gladly accept the

invitations of mercy, while others, of their own accord,

stubbornly refuse the mercy to which the whole world of mankind

is invited. All men, by nature, refuse the invitations of the gospel.

God, in the sovereignty of His grace, makes a difference by

secretly inclining the hearts of some men, by the power of His

Holy Spirit, to partake of His everlasting mercy in Christ Jesus. I

am certain that, whether we are Calvinists or Arminians, if our

hearts are right with God, we shall all adoringly testify: "We love

Him, because He first loved us." If that be not Election, I know

not what it is.

II. Now, in the second place, note THE CERTAINTY OF THE ETERNAL


Me shall come to Me."

This is eternally settled, and so settled that it cannot be altered by

either man or devil. All whose names are written in the Book of

Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, all whom

God the Father designed to save when He gave up His well-

beloved Son to die upon the cross of Calvary, shall in time be

drawn by the Holy Spirit, and shall surely come to Christ, and be

kept by the Spirit, through the precious blood of Christ, and be

folded for ever with His sheep, on the hill-tops of glory.

Mark! "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." Not one

of those whom the Father hath given to Jesus shall perish. If any

were lost, the text would have to read: "Almost all," or, "All but

one;" but it positively says "All," without any exception; even

though one may have been, in his unregenerate state, the very

chief of sinners. Yet even that chosen one, that given one, shall

come to Jesus; and when he has come, he shall be held by that

strong love that at first chose him, and he shall never be let go,

but shall be held fast, even unto the end. Miss Much-afraid, and

Mrs. Despondency, and Mr. Feeble-mind, shall as certainly come

to the arms of Christ, as Mr. Great-heart, and Mr. Faithful, and

Mr. Valiant-for-Truth. If one jewel were lost from Christ's

crown, then Christ's crown would not be all-glorious. If one

member of the body of Christ were to perish, Christ's body would

not be complete. If one of those who are one with Christ should

miss his way to eternal live, Christ would not be a perfect Christ.

"All that the Father giveth Me Shall come to Me." "But suppose

they will not come?" I cannot suppose any such thing, for He

says they "shall come." They shall be made willing in the day of

God's power. God knows how to make a passage through the

heart of man; and though man is a free agent, yet God can incline

him, willingly, to come to Jesus. There are many sentences even

in Wesley's hymn-book which contain this truth. If God took

away freedom from man, and then saved him, it would be but a

small miracle. For God to leave man free to come to Jesus, and

yet to so move him as to make him come, is a divinely-wrought

miracle indeed. If we were for a moment to admit that man's will

could be more than a match for God's will, do you not see where

we should be landed? Who made man? God! Who made God?

Shall we lift up man to the sovereign throne of Deity? Who shall

be master, and have his way, God or man? The will of God, that

says they "shall come", knows how to make them come.

"But suppose it should be one of those who are living in the

interior of Africa, and he does not hear the gospel; what then?"

He shall hear the gospel; either he shall come to the gospel, or

the gospel shall go to him. Even if no minister should go to such a

chosen one, he would have the gospel specially revealed to him

rather than that the promise of the Almighty God should be


"But suppose there should be one of God's chosen who has

become so bad that there is no hope for him? He never attends a

place of worship; never listens to the gospel; the voce of the

preacher never reaches him; he has grown hardened in his sin,

like steel that has been seven times annealed in the fire; what

then?" That man shall be arrested by God's grace, and that

obdurate, hard-hearted one shall be made to see the mercy of

God; the tears shall stream down his cheeks, and he shall be

made willing to receive Jesus as Saviour. I think that, as God

could bend my will, and bring me to Christ, He can bring


"Why was I made to hear His voice,

And enter while there's room;

When thousands make a wretched choice,

And rather than come?

"'Twas the same love the spread the feast,

That sweetly forced me in;

Else I had still refused to taste,

And perish'd in my sin."

Yes, "sweetly forced me in;"--there is no other word that can so

accurately describe my case. Oh, how long Jesus Christ stood at

the door of my heart, and knocked, and knocked, and knocked in

vain! I asked: "Why should I leave the pleasures of this world?"

Yet still He knocked, and there was music in every sound of His

pleading voice; but I said, "Nay, let Him go elsewhere." And

though, through the window, I could see His thorn-crowned head,

and the tears standing in His eyes, and the prints of the nails in

His hands, as He stood and knocked, and said, "Open to Me," yet

I heeded Him not. Then He sent my mother to me, and she

pleaded, "let the Saviour in, Charlie;" and I replied, in action,

though not in words, "Nay, I love thee, my mother; but I do not

love Christ, thy Saviour." Then came the black hours of sickness;

but in effect I said, "Nay, I fear not sickness, nor death itself; I

will still defy my Maker." But it happened, one day, that He

graciously put in His hand by the hole of the door, and I moved

toward Him, and then I opened the door, and cried, "Come in!

Come in!" Alas! alas! He was gone; and for five long years I

stood, with tears in mine eyes, and I sought Him weeping, but I

found Him not. I cried after Him, but He answered me not. I said,

"Whither is He gone? Oh, that I had never rejected Him? Oh, that

He would but come again!" Surely the angels must then have

said, "A great change has come over that youth; he would not let

Christ in when He knocked, but now he wants Christ to come."

And when He did come, do you think my soul rejected Him?

Nay, nay; but I fell down at His feet, crying, "Come in! Come in!

thou Blessed Saviour. I have waited for Thy salvation, O my


There is no living soul beyond the reach of hope, no chosen one

whom Christ cannot bring up even from the very gates of hell. He

can bare His arm, put out His hand, and pluck the brand "out of

the fire" (Zechariah iii.2). In a horrible pit, in the miry clay, His

jewels have been hidden; but down from the throne of light He

can come, and thrusting in His arm of mercy, He can pull them

out, and cause them to glitter in His crown for ever. Let it be

settled in our hearts, as a matter of fact, that what God has

purposed to do, He will surely accomplish.

I need not dwell longer upon this point, because I think I have

really brought out the essence of this first sentence of my text:

"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." Permit me just

to remark, before I pass on, that I am sometimes sad on account

of the alarm that some Christians seem to have concerning this

precious and glorious doctrine. We have, in the Baptist

denomination,--I am sorry to have to say it,--many ministers,

excellent brethren, who, while they believe this doctrine, yet

never preach it. On the other hand, we have some ministers,

excellent brethren, who never preach anything else. They have a

kind of barrel-organ that only plays five tunes, and they are

always repeating them. It is either Election, Predestination,

Particular Redemption, Effectual Calling, Final Perseverance, or

something of that kind; it is always the same note. But we have

also a great many others who never preach concerning these

doctrines, though they admit they are doctrines taught in Sacred

Scripture. The reason for their silence is, because they say these

truths are not suitable to be preached from the pulpit. I hold such

an utterance as that to be very wicked. Is the doctrine here--in

this Bible? If it is, as God hath taught it, so are we to teach it.

"But," they say, "not in a mixed assembly." Where can you find

an unmixed assembly? God has sent the Bible into a mixed

world, and the gospel is to be preached in " all the world", and

"to every creature." "Yes," they say, "preach the gospel, but not

these special truths of the gospel; because, if you preach these

doctrines, the people will become Antinomians and Hyper-

Calvinists." Not so; the reason why people become Hyper-

Calvinists and Antinomians, is because some, who profess to be

Calvinists, often keep back part of the truth, and do not, as Paul

did, "declare all the counsel of God"; they select certain parts of

Scripture, where their own particular views are taught, and pass

by other aspects of God's truth. Such preachers as John Newton,

and in later times, your own Christmas Evans, were men who

preached the whole truth of God; they kept back nothing that

God has revealed; and, as the result of their preaching,

Antinomianism could not find a foot-hold anywhere. We should

have each doctrine of Scripture in its proper place, and preach it

fully; and if we want to have a genuine revival of religion, we

must preach these doctrines of Jehovah's sovereign grace again

and again. Do not tell me they will not bring revivals. There was

but one revival that I have ever heard of, apart from Calvinistic

doctrine, and that was the one in which Wesley took so great a

part; but then George Whitefield was there also to preach the

whole Word of God. When people are getting sleepy, if you want

to arouse and wake them up thoroughly, preach the doctrine of

Divine Sovereignty to them; for that will do it right speedily.

III. I shall now turn very briefly to the second sentence of my

text: "And him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."

"Now," says somebody, "he is going to knock down all that he

has been building up." Well, I would rather be inconsistent with

myself than with my Master; but I dare not alter this second

sentence, and I have no desire to alter it. Let it stand as it is, all

its glorious simplicity:--


Let the whole world come, still this promise is big enough to

embrace them all in its arms. There is no mistake here, the wrong

man cannot come. If any sinner come to Christ, he is sure to be

the right one. Mark, too, as there is no limitation in the person

coming, so there is no limitation in the manner of the coming.

Says one, "Suppose I come the wrong way?" You cannot come

the wrong way; it is written, "No man can come to Me, except

the Father which hath sent Me draw him." "No man can come

unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father" (John

vi.44,65). If, then, you come to Christ in any way, you are drawn

of the Father, and He cannot draw the wrong way. If you come to

Christ at all, the power and will to come have been given you of

the Father. If you come to Christ, He will in no wise cast you out;

for no possible or conceivable reason will Jesus ever cast out any

sinner who comes to Him. There is no reason in hell, or on earth,

or in heaven, why Jesus should cast out the soul that comes to

Him. If Satan, the foul accuser of the brethren, brings reasons

why the coming sinner should not be received, Jesus will "cast

down" the accuser, but He will not "cast out" the sinner. "Come

unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give

your rest," is still His invitation and His promise, too.

Let us suppose a case by the way of illustration. Here is a man in

Swansea,--ragged, dirty, coal-begrimed,--who has received a

message from Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria. It

reads in this wise: "You are hereby commanded to come, just as

you are, to our palace at Windsor, to receive great and special

favours at our hand. You will stay away at your peril." The man

reads the message, and at first scarcely understands it; so he

thinks, "I must wash and prepare myself." Then, he re-reads the

royal summons, and the words arrest him: "Come just as your

are." So he starts, and tells the people in the train where he is

going, and they laugh at him. At length he arrives at Windsor

Castle; there he is stopped by the guard, and questioned. He

explains why he has come, and shows the Queen's message; and

he is allowed to pass. He next meets with a gentlemen in waiting,

who, after some explanations and expressions of astonishment,

allows him to enter the ante-room. When there, our friend

becomes frightened on account of his begrimed and ragged

appearance; he is half inclined to rush from the place with fear,

when he remembers the works of the royal command: "Stay away

at your peril." Presently, the Queen herself appears, and tells him

how glad she is that he has come just as he was. She says she

purposes that he shall be suitably clothed, and be made one of the

princes of her court. She adds, "I told you to come as you were. It

seemed to be a strange command to you, but I am glad you have

obeyed, and so come."

I do think this is what Jesus Christ says to every creature under

heaven. The gospel invitation runs thus: "Come, come, come to

Christ, just as you are." "But, let me feel more." No, come just as

you are. "But let me get home to my own room, and let me pray."

No, no, come to Christ just as you are. As you are, trust in Jesus,

and He will save you. Oh, do dare to trust Him! If anybody shall

ask, "Who are you?" answer, "I am nobody." If anyone objects,

"You are such a filthy sinner," reply, "Yes,'tis true, so I am; but

He Himself told me to come." If anyone shall say, "You are not

fit to come," say, "I know I am not fit; but He told me to come."


"Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,

Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Jesus ready stands to save you,

Full of pity join'd with power;

He is able,

He is willing; doubt no more.

"Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness He requireth,

Is to feel you need of Him:

This He gives you;

'Tis the Spirit's rising beam."

Sinner, trust in Jesus: and if thou dost perish trusting in Jesus, I

will perish with thee. I will make my bed in hell, side by side

with thee, sinner, if thou canst perish trusting in Christ, and thou

shalt lie there, and taunt me to all eternity for having taught thee

falsely, if we perish. But that can never be; those who trust in

Jesus shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His

hand. Come to Jesus, and He will in no wise cast thee out.

May the Lord bless the words I have spoken! Though hastily

suggested to my mind, and feebly delivered to you, the Lord bless

them, for Christ's sake! Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 6". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.