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Real Grace for Real Need
September 5, 1869 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
“He healed them that had need of healing.” Luke 9:11
“HE healed them that had need of healing,” that is to say, on this gracious occasion no single case came before” him which baffled him. However rampant might be the disease, however extreme the condition of the patient’s malady, Jesus wrought an instantaneous cure. And truly to this very hour no spiritual sickness has defeated the great Physician. No sick souls have ever been carried away from his feet to perish hopelessly, because their need outreached his power. Satan’s worst is soon undone by Jesus’ best. The Son of God in no solitary instance has been foiled, still in the goings forth of his mercy he has “healed them that had need of healing.”
The text also indicates that our Lord continued unwearied to heal all the multitudes that came. From morning till night, as fast as the various patients presented themselves, he wrought their care. There was an eye to be opened here, hearing to be given there, a lame man to be made to leap, a withered limb to be outstretched, there was leprosy to be cleansed, dropsy to be dried, fever, epilepsy, madness, and all manner of maladies to be subdued, but Jesus paused not, virtue continued still to flow to heal “them that had need of healing.” Though they had been countless as the sands, his love, like the sea, should have touched them all. His restoring power was by no means exhausted, the oil only ceased to flow when there was not another vessel to fill; but had the needy continued still to come even to this day, our Master would still have multiplied his miracles of mercy. In spiritual sicknesses, the great Healer of our sin- sick nature has by no means declined in power. He is far from being exhausted by the number of applicants who have come to him. We do well to sing
“Thy precious blood Shall never lose its power, Till all the ransomed church of God Be saved to sin no more.”
If this present world should continue through a century of thousands of years, yet no sinner shall apply to Jesus for pardon, and find that his cleansing efficacy has ceased; so long as sin shall pollute this earth, the Savior shall remain to purify those who believe in him.
But the text seemed particularly to me, as it flashed upon my mind, to indicate this further truth, that as the Redeemer was neither baffled by any one disease, nor drained of his healing virtue by the multitude, so the diseases which he healed were intense, the cures which he wrought were memorable. They were not feigned sicknesses which were brought before him, nor counterfeit miseries, else his cures also had been shams, and he himself had been a mock Savior. Those whom he healed had deep, true, undoubted, urgent need of healing; they were not pretended patients, with sores which they had manufactured for the occasion, or sentimental sufferers with griefs imagined but not existent; but he wrought health for persons who were well known to be cruelly diseased, in whom the mischief was no dream, the misery no fiction; and consequently the cures which he wrought were no fictions either, but they were evident, permanent, and true. Fancied ills he left to others; he healed those that had need of healing. Sentimental grievances may be left to jangling philosophers and hairsplitting rabbis Jesus deals with actual evils whose cure is urgent. Of all men who ever lived, the Prophet of Nazareth was the most practical; doing nothing for show, nothing for mere custom, but everything to work solid good and efface real evil, Not a motion of his finger has he for feigned or fancied grievance, but all his power goes forth to those who have true need of healing.
We shall take this thought, this morning, and dwell upon it. It seems to us to be full of comfort. May God grant it may bring into light and liberty some who have long been bound.
I. Our first head, this morning, shall be that THOSE WHOM CHRIST HAS SAVED WILL ALL CONFESS THAT THEY HAD NEED OF SAVING.
Out of the whole multitude who have believed in Jesus, there is not one to whom his salvation has been a superfluity. I will be spokesman for them, this morning, according to my ability they will all confess that what they have received was what they greatly wanted, that the salvation which Jesus has given them was ‘a salvation without which they would have perished everlastingly. For first, beloved, all the saved saints confess that they had need of healing because of their natural depravity. There is a sad bias in us all towards sin. Whoever may dispute concerning original sin as a universal fact, all the saints confess it as a particular evil in their own case. We are compelled to own that David’s confession must be ours, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Our nature was vitiated at its fountain head. When at any time we were put upon right courses by the stress of moral suasion, or by the urgency of fear, yet still our heart labored to follow its own devices against wind and tide. Even as the bowl from the player’s hand, however straightly it runs for awhile, before long beans to curve according to the bias, even so under all circumstances we tend towards evil. To our nature to do evil is easy, to do good is difficult. We loved darkness naturally rather than light. Uphill work it was to serve God, but as swiftly as a stone hurled down from a crag pursues its downward course, so readily did we follow the way of rebellion. Our sin was of the heart, not of the surface, “The leprosy was deep within.” Our tendency to evil did not spring from imitation for we had set before us, some of us, the noblest of Christian ,examples, but the prompting to evil was within, the taint was in our vital blood. Now there was need of healing here, since the disease had corrupted our essential being, and rendered us hopelessly unclean. To our heart’s center there was urgent need of healing.
But, beloved, many of us have been led to feel that in addition to ordinary original sin, evil tendencies had in the case of some of us assumed peculiar shapes and dreadful forms of besetting and constitutional sin. I will appeal to certain of my brethren here, whether they had not a natural tendency to a quick temper, an anger soon excited, and exceedingly mad when once aroused? In others, there was a strong disposition to pride. Even now, with the grace of God in them, it costs them much to keep their heads in their proper places. Alas! in how many others the animal passions are forceful and eager like hungry lions roaring for their prey, and nothing but grace can keep them in check! Ah! there are some of us who may do well to imagine what we should have been if grace had not interposed; we are bold in spirit, eager in desire, intent in purpose, stubborn in will, energetic and ardent, and had we been set on mischief, nothing could have restrained us in our headlong course. Grace leads us in glad captivity, but apart from this, we had been sinners before the Lord exceedingly. All providences that might have thwarted us would but have incited us to more vehement endeavors to pursue our wicked and willful way; grace has conquered, but what if we had been left alone? A Scotch gentleman was observed to look very intently upon the face of Rowland Hill: the good old man asked him, “And what are you looking in my face at?” The observer replied, “I have been studying the lines of your face.” “And what do you make out of them?” said Rowland. “Why I make out,” said he,” that if the grace of God had not changed your heart you would have been a great rascal.” “Ah!” said Rowland, “you have made out the truth indeed.” Many of us have to confess humbly that in us there was pressing need of healing, for if healing had not come, we should not only have been sinful as others, but should probably have taken the lead in iniquity, and been carried away by the wild sweep of inward passion to the utmost excess of riot.
Brethren, this need of healing will be confessed by the saints in this further respect, that there was not only in us a tendency to sin, but we had grievously sinned in act and deed before conversion. I know it is very customary’ with those who are seeking Christ, to imagine that the saints of God whom they respect and esteem could never have sinned before conversion as they themselves have done. They cannot imagine that the man who is now rejoicing in Christ was once as hardened in sin as themselves. Yet in truth we were even as you. When the apostle mentioned the greatest of sinners, he added, “Such were some of us: but we are washed, but we are sanctified.” O dear seeker, do not believe as Satan tells you, that those who are washed were never as black as you; we were just as vile. It were a shame for us to confess in public all our transgressions and iniquities before we knew pardoning mercy of the Lord, but it will suffice us to say that the remembrance of them lays us in the very dust, so that we should not dare to lift up our head were it not that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. There is not a saint in heaven but what had sinned enough to damn him to the lowest hell if he had not been saved by one who knew he had need of saving. Where had Peter been? As bad as Judas certainly if sovereign grace had not prevented. Where had John been, even loving John? Cursing and blaspheming the very Christ upon whose bosom he laid his head, if it had not been that converting love stepped in and made him in the fullness of time to become a child of God. There would have been no difference between the best and the worst of men if divine favor had not wrought some better thing in the godly. And let this always be treasured up as a hopeful circumstance to you who would be saved, that in the matter of actual sin there was a deep and real need of healing in the saints who are healed. No, sirs, our sins were not mere fiction, our repentances were not fanatical sentiment. Southey, when he writes upon the repentance of John Bunyan, and his terrible accusations of himself, cannot refrain from thinking him a little beside himself, and morbid in his feelings. The good man is candid and honest, and wants to make something out of it, but he cannot see in young Bunyan any cause for such outcries against himself. Had Southey been able to look upon sin in that same vivid but truthful light which had shone upon the young tinker’s soul, he would have seen the least sin to be exceeding sinful, and would have felt that exaggeration in horror against sin is not possible. To sin against light, against conscience, against the Holy Ghost, is to sin with a vengeance. No degree of outward moral purity can comfort a heart which is once made aware of its inward defilement, and of the actual sinfulness of what man calls a trifle. Our actual sins would have been draughts of poison to our souls if the divine antidote had not been given; there was, indeed, great need of healing.
Further, let me say there was need of healing in our case because, in addition to having sinned, we willfully continued in it. In the very teeth of divine mercy, in despite of conscience and of the invitations of the gospel., we persevered in our sinful courses. Do I not remember how often I was invited to come to Christ, and even felt the gentle drawings of his cords of love? but I started back like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke! Do I not recollect how God’s law ploughed me again and again? and yet in those very furrows the cursed darnel and thistle of my sins dared to spring up! How often have I stood and wept, and trembled, but have procrastinated, and so have gone my way to dry those eyes and look again into the face of sin without alarm! Yes, there was need of healing in that heart which the cross of Christ could not affect, which the terrors of hell could not subdue, which the loving invitations of a mother could not persuade to holiness, and that even the warnings of sickness and the fear of death could not bend to the will of God. Some of you were long years before you yielded to the power of divine grace. You will sorrowfully acknowledge, this morning, that in your obstinate will there was need of healing, for had not that healing come, it is as certain as that you are here to- day pilgrims on the way to heaven, that you would have continued to pursue the road to hell. There was need of healing, for the disease was not one that would have died out of itself; it would never have come to a head and then have lost its power. It was a disease that would have spread until it defiled you beyond bearing, and until the righteous God would have said, “Put it away with the unclean for ever and ever, for within the courts of heaven it can never dwell.” O praise your God, this morning, you that are saved, for you had solemn need of saving. The longer I live the more I feel the need of daily salvation. I have need of my great Master’s healing hand every hour. If the Lord do not carry on the work which he has begun, it will surely fail. If he does not continue to repress and destroy in us our carnal inclinations, they will get the better of us even now. If the Holy Spirit does not fan with his living breath that spark of grace which lives within us, it will certainly be quenched with the waterfloods of temptation. If there were no other proof of our need of healing than our experience since conversion, we should have more than enough. If ever I get to heaven, I will praise God more loudly than any of you, for I shall owe more to the grace that will bring me there. But I suppose the like feeling is in every man that is conscious of the sin that dwells in him, and trembles at his own want of strength. God will carry on his work, he will not take away his hand from you, nor suffer you to perish; but in the fact that if he did so withdraw, the best of you would be cast away, and ere to- morrow would be apostates from the faith, you have proof that you have need of healing. You will have need of healing all along until you come to die. Even when just about to enter into the joy of your Lord, when the last sin is under your foot, and your sanctification is all but perfect, when you have almost destroyed by his grace the last indwelling lust, even then you will have need of healing, tie must be the Omega who was the Alpha, or you never can finish. He must carry on even to its close the work which in his tenderness he has commenced, or else it will be incomplete to your eternal overthrow.
So, then, it is established beyond a doubt, and I speak as the witness of ten thousand of God’s servants, that those who are saved were such as had need of saving. The Son of Man came to seek and to save us when we were lost, emphatically lost. He has healed us, but it has not been of a finger- ache or a flea- bite disease; he has healed us of a disease most deadly, that was damnable. Blessed be his name, while we are forced to speak depreciatingly of ourselves, in that very proportion we can speak gloriously of him. We had need of healing, and he has given us just the healing that our spirits needed.
II. Having, as it were, cast up my earthworks round about the soul that I desire to win for Jesus, I shall now come point blank to the attack. You, dear hearers, you unsaved hearers, YOU ALSO HAVE NEED OF SAVING,
I am not going to talk to you, this morning, about your feeling your need of Christ. I know that you make that quite a favorite question and a fond excuse for unbelief; so we shall not speak of your sense of that need, but what is far more vast a subject, namely, your need itself. You unsaved souls, you have great need of saving. You have need of saving, because you are inclined to evil. You have lately been, in a measure, desirous to find eternal life, you are not now so callous as you once were, conscience is awakened, and you are seeking more or less earnestly after Christ; but still with all this your natural inclinations are towards evil. Your goodness will soon pass away like the dew of the morning, but your love to sin is graven, as with a diamond, into your heart of stone. The strong self- will within your soul is set on mischief still. You will not come unto Christ that you may have life. Perhaps you have never thought of your natural corruption, and above all, have never been humbled by it; but it is there notwithstanding your forgetfulness of it. You are a fallen, degenerate creature. You are not a pure spirit, whose judgment is accurately balanced; you judge unrighteous judgment. You are not a creature with a free will that is equally inclinable either to good or evil, according as it may seem most beneficial to yourself. Your overpowering tendency now is towards that which is evil. Your mind puts bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, darkness for light and light for darkness; and your nature, like an evil tree, brings forth evil fruit. You perhaps have never perceived this, but the very fact that you have not perceived it, only proves that you have the greater need of healing, since the disease has become so thorough as to have made you insensible of its own existence. When there is no pain in the limb, then is it certainly in greater risk of mortification; and while your natural depravity causes you no pain whatever, and you are even inclined to deny it and take no shame to yourself concerning it, the more urgent is the need that the Holy Ghost should convince you of sin, and that the Lord Jesus Christ should come and deliver you from it. Ah, poor sinner, what a ruin you are at best I Alas! for human dignity, with its lofty pinnacles of morality and turrets of excellency. What theatrical pasteboard! What; sand built rubbish all appears when seen in the blaze of divine light! Vain are your filmings of your deadly sore; your heart is in itself vile and deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. You may wash the platter as you may, you may make the outside of the cup as clean as you will, but your inward parts are very wickedness. The imaginations of the thoughts of your hearts are evil, only evil, and that continually. “Ye must be born again;” your nature is too depraved for mending. You must be created anew in Christ Jesus. You have need of healing indeed.
In addition to this, dear hearer, thou art day by day proving thy need of healing by your actual sin. I cannot publicly rehearse thy particular and personal sins, but this I know, the charge may be legitimately brought against every unconverted person here, that you are daily living in sin. Take down the ten commandments and read them through. I will but remind you of one, and beg you to examine yourself upon it, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Are you keeping that? Why, you live as if there were no God, you know you do; and day after day, and even month after month, you never do anything to manifest love towards God. You have some love towards your relatives, but no passion like that is kindled in your spirit towards your God; you have no love at all, and yet the precept is, “Thou shall love him with all thy heart.” Why, that one command is lodging charges against thee at the bar of God every day. Indeed, the whole ten thou art constantly breaking, there is not one that thou dost keep. These sins of yours are speeding as messengers up to the record office in heaven, and there thou shall find written down every idle word, every sinful thought, and every guilty action of thy whole life. How wilt thou bear to hear of all these in the latter days, when thy body shall have arisen from the grave at the archangel’s trumpet? How wilt thou bear to hear the book read out that shall rehearse thy sins? At the very thought thereof thy bones may be dissolved within thee: sins against a righteous God, sins against his people, sins against his day, sins against his book, sins against your bodies, sins against your souls, Sills of every kind, sins unseen of human eye, sins unknown to any but yourself and your God, all read and all proclaimed with trumpet voice while men and angels hear. You have need of healing, for you are scarlet, you are crimson, you are double- dyed with your iniquities. O that you did but know this! O that you did but feel this! You have need of healing, and yet dark as the thought is, it gives me comfort, and it ought to give you comfort, to remember the text Jesus healed those that had need of healing; and if you are such, why should he not heal you? Your many sins only prove that you have need of healing, and the desperate’ depravity of your heart only proves still more that you are such as Jesus came to heal. He healed those that had need of healing; he healed just such as you are.
Further, I think I hear some of you confess that you do not feel this as you ought. Now I was about to bring this to you as a proof that you have need of healing. When a man does wrong, and yet will not confess it, how wrong he must be! or when, having confessed it, he feels not the proper shame; or feeling for awhile the proper shame, he yet returns to the same evil like the dog to his vomit, how deep must the evil be in his moral nature, how trebly diseased must he be, inasmuch as he does not feel sin to be sin at all! When a man has done wrong and knows it, and stands with bitter repentance to confess the evil, why, you think hopefully of him; after all there are good points about the man; there is a vitality in him that will throw out the disease; bat when the villain, having perpetrated a grave and causeless offense, does not for a moment acknowledge that he has done amiss, but continues calmly to perpetrate the offense again; ah, then, where is there any good in him? Is he not thoroughly bad? Now, such are you. If you were at all right with God you would fall at your Father’s feet, and never rise until you were forgiven, your tears would flow day and night until you had the assurance of pardon. But since your heart seems to yourself to be made of hell- hardened steel, and to be like the nether millstone, that feels not at all, why, then there is the more need of healing, and you seem to me this morning the very man I am after, the very man that Christ came to save, for he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, not to save those who had no need of healing, but to heal just such as you whose need is desperate indeed.
As if to prove your own need of healing, you are this morning, according to your own statement, unable to pray. You have been trying to pray of late, and wished you could. You put yourself upon your knees, but your heart does not talk with God; a horrible dread comes over you, or else frivolous and vain thoughts distract you. “Oh,” you have said, “I would give a thousand pounds for one tear of repentance; I would be ready to pluck out my eyes if I could but call upon God as the poor publican did, with ‘God be merciful to me a sinner. ’ I thought it the easiest thing in the world once to pray, but now I find that a true prayer is beyond my power.” O soul, you have need of healing indeed, possessed with a dumb devil, and all your other devils to boot, and unable to cry out for mercy; yours is a sad case. You have need of healing, and I cannot help repeating my text to you, “He healed them that had need of healing,” why should he not heal you?
Ah, but you tell me your feelings, your desires after good things, are very often damped. Perhaps this morning you are sincerely in earnest, but tomorrow you may be just as careless as ever. The other day you went into your chamber and did wrestle with God, but a temptation came across your path, and you were as thoughtless about divine things as if you had never been aroused to a sense of their value. Ah! this shows what a need you have of healing. You are vile indeed when you dare to trifle with eternity, to sport with death and judgment, and to be at ease while in danger of hell your heart indeed has need of healing; and though I grieve that you should be in such a plight, yet do I rejoice that I am able to add, “He healed those that had need of healing.”
Though you know your case to be so bad, yet at times you set up a kind of self- repentance, and try to justify yourself in the sight of God. You say, “I have repented, or tried to do so; I have prayed, or tried to pray; I have done all I can to be saved, and God will not save me; that is to say, you throw the blame of your damnation upon God, and make out yourself to be righteous in his sight. You know this to be wrong. If you are not saved, it is because you will not believe in Jesus. There is the only hitch and the only difficulty. Your damnation is not of God, but of yourself; it is necessitated by your own willful wickedness in not believing in Christ; but inasmuch as you are so wicked as to dare to excuse yourself, you have great need of healing, urgent; need of saving. But, then, the minute that you have thus excused yourself, you rush to the opposite extreme; you declare that you have sinned past hope, that you deserve to be now in hell, and that God can never forgive you. You deny the mercy of God, you deny the power of Christ to forgive you and cleanse you; you fly in the face of God’s word, and you make him out to be a liar. When he tells you that if you trust Jesus you shall find peace, you tell him it is not possible there can be any peace to you; when he reminds you that he never rejected one, you insinuate that he will reject you; you thus insult the divine majesty by denying the truthfulness and honesty of God. You have need of healing when you thus allow wicked despair to get the mastery of you; you are far gone, very far gone; but, oh! I rejoice to know that you are still among such as Jesus was wont to heal. He came to heal those that had need of healing, and you cannot deny you are one of those. Why, Satan himself will not have the impudence to tell you that you have no need of healing. O that you would but cast yourself into the Savior’s arms not trying to make yourself out to be good, but acknowledging all that I have laid to your charge, and then, trusting as a sinner to that dear Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Remember, dear hearer, thou hast need of healing, for except thou be healed of these sins, and of all these wicked tendencies and thoughts of yours, as sure as thou art a living man thou wilt be cast into hell. O my dear friend, I know of no truth that ever causes me such pain to preach as this, not that sinners will be damned, awful truth as that is, but that awakened sinners will be damned unless they believe in Jesus. You must not make a Christ out of your tears, you must not hope to find safety in your bitter thoughts and cruel despairs. Except ye believe ye shall never be established. Except ye come to Christ, ye may be convinced of sin, of righteousness, and judgment too, but those convictions will only be preludes to your destruction. My dear hearer, dost thou know what thou art this morning? Thou call thyself a seeker, but until thou art a finder thou art an enemy to God, and God is angry with thee every day. Let but one drop of thy blood go wrong this morning, let but thy beating pulse be suspended, and where art thou? Why, in hell, despite those tears, despite those cries, for if thou will; not believe in Jesus, there is no purgatory for thee, no place where afterwards thou may find space for repentance, and seek the Christ whom thou dost to- day disregard. I have no alternative for you, however tender and broken- hearted you may be, but this one, believe and live, refuse to believe, and you must perish, for your broken heartedness, and tears, and professed contrition, can never stand in the place of Christ. You must have faith in Jesus, or you must die eternally.
I shall press on very briefly to the next point, but I pray God to make these words of use to you before you forget them. I am endeavoring to speak simply, personally, and pointedly. He knows how my soul yearns over those who are here, that they may this morning find life in Jesus. O may he grant the desire of my soul, and bring them to himself now.
III. Our third point is to thee, O needy sinner. JESUS CAN SAVE THEE.
I need not enter into what thy case is. Remember, Jesus has saved a parallel case to yours. Yours may seem to yourself to be exceedingly odd, but somewhere or other in the New Testament you will find one as singular as yours. You tell me that you are full of so much wickedness. Did not he cast seven devils out of Magdalen? Yes, but your wickedness seems to be greater than even seven devils. Did not he drive a whole legion of devils out of the demoniac of Gadara? You tell me that you cannot pray, but he healed one possessed of a dumb devil; you feel hardened and insensible, but he cast out a deaf devil. You tell me you cannot believe; neither could that man with the withered arm stretch out his arm, but he did do it when Jesus bade him. You tell me you are dead in sin, but Jesus made even the dead live,. Your case cannot be so bad but it has been matched, and Christ has conquered the like of it. O poor soul, if thou dost but come to him, thou shall not find thyself one half the singularity that thou dost suppose, for another has been saved just like thyself.
Remember again, Christ can save you, for there is not a record in the world, nor has there ever been handed down to us by tradition a single case in which Jesus has failed. If I could meet anywhere in my wanderings a soul that had cast itself on Christ alone, and yet had received no pardon; if there could be found in hell a solitary spirit that relied upon the precious blood and found no salvation, then the gospel might well be laid by in the dark, and no longer gloried in; but as that has not been, and never shall be, sinner, thou shall not make the first exception. If thou comes to Christ and to come to him is but to trust him wholly and simply thou canst not perish, for he has said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Will he prove a liar! Wilt thou dare to think so? O come thou, for he cannot cast thee out. Bethink thee for a moment, sinner, and this may comfort thee, he whom I preach to thee as the healer of thy soul is God. What can be impossible with God? What sin cannot he forgive who is God over all? If thy transgressions were to be dealt with by an angel, they might surpass all Gabriel’s power, but it is Immanuel, God wish us, who is come to save. Though thou were between the jaws of hell, so long as the pit had not shut her mouth upon thee, he could save thee. Doubt not, where thou hast to deal with Deity, nothing is impossible, or even difficult.
Moreover, thou canst not doubt his will. Hast thou ever heard of him he that was God and became man? He was gentle as a woman
“His heart is made of tenderness, His bowels melt with love.”
it was not in him to be harsh. When the woman taken in adultery, in the very fact, was brought to him, what did he say? “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” It was said of him, “This man receives sinners, and eats with them,” and he is not changed now that he reigns above; he is just as willing to receive sinners now as when he was here below.
Once more, dost thou still doubt? Remember what he has done to save sinners. My time fails me, else would I ask thee to go with me to Gethsemane and view him covered with the sweat of blood; I would ask thee to stand with me in Pilate’s hall when Pilate cries “Ecce Homo;” to see the Savior as his shoulders are crimsoned with streams of gore for sinners who were his enemies; I would ask thee then to stand beneath the cross and view the hands, and feet, and side, all pouring forth his lifeblood. These are the drops that take our sins away; these are the griefs of him who took our guilt that our guilt might be forgiven. Can Jesus the Son of God suffer like this, and yet there be no power in his blood to cleanse? What, was the atonement a fiction? Was the death of the eternal Son of God a thing without effect? There must be power enough there to take away sin. Come and wash, come and Wash, ye vile and black, come and wash, and ye shall find instant cleansing the moment that by faith you touch his purifying blood.
Lastly, Jesus demands of you, sinner, this morning, your trust. He deserves it, let; him have it. You have need of healing; he came to heal those that have need of healing; he can heal you. What is to be done in order that you may be healed this morning, that all your sins may be forgiven and yourself saved? All that is to be done is to leave off your own doing, and let him do for you; leave off looking to yourself, or looking to others, and just come and cast yourself on him. You know Dr. Watts’s lines:
“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On Christ’s kind arm I fall; He is my strength and righteousness, My Jesus and my all.”
“Oh,” say you, “but I cannot believe.” Cannot believe! Then do you know what you are doing? You are making him a liar. If you tell a man, “I cannot believe you,” that is only another way of saying, “You are a liar.” Oh, you will not dare to say that of Christ. No, my friend, I take you by the hand and say another word you must believe him. He is God, dare you doubt him? He died for sinners. Can you doubt the power of his blood? He has promised. Will you insult him by mistrusting his word? “Oh! no,” you say, “I feel I must believe, I must. trust him; but suppose that trust of mine should not be of the right kind? Suppose it should be a natural trust?” Ah! my friend, a humble trust; in Jesus is a thing that never grew in natural ground. For a poor soul to come and trust in Christ, always is the fruit of the Spirit. You need not raise a question about that. Never did the devil, never did mere nature empty a man of himself and bring him to Jesus. Do not be anxious on that point. “But,” says one, “the Spirit must lead me to believe him!” Yes, but you cannot see the Spirit; his work is a secret and a mystery. What you have to do is to believe in Jesus; there he stands, God and yet a suffering man, making atonement, and he tells you if you trust him you shall be saved. You must trust him; you cannot doubt him. Why should you? What has he done that you should doubt him?
“O believe the record true, God to you his Son has given.”
And if you trust him, you need not raise the question as to where your faith came from. It must have come from the Holy Spirit who is not seen in his workings, for he works where he wishes. You see the fruit of his work, and that is enough for you. Dost thou believe that Jesus is the Christ? If so, thou art born of God. If thou hast cast thyself, sink or swim, on him, then art thou saved. We read in the papers this week, how a man was saved from being shot. He had been condemned in a Spanish court, but being an American citizen and also of English birth, the consuls of the two countries interposed, and declared that the Spanish authorities had no power to put him to death, and what did they do to secure his life? They wrapped him up in their flags, they covered him with the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack, and defied the executioners. “Now fire a shot if you dare, for if you do you defy the nations represented by those flags, and you will bring the powers of those two great nations upon you.” There stood the man, and before him the soldiery, and though a shot might soon have ended his life, yet he was as invulnerable as though in coat of triple steel. Even so Jesus Christ has taken my poor guilty soul ever since I believed in him, and has wrapped around me the blood- red flag of his atoning sacrifice, and before God can destroy me or any other soul that is wrapped in the atonement, he must insult his Son and dishonor this sacrifice, and that he never will do, blessed be his name. May the Lord save each one of you. May he do it now, and his shall be the glory. Amen and Amen.
The Comer's Conflict with Satan and The Devil's Last Throw
The Comer's Conflict with Satan
August 24, 1856
C. H. SPURGEON
"And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And
Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him
again to his father."- Luke 9:42 .
This child possessed with an evil spirit, is a most fitting emblem of every
ungodly and unconverted man. Though we be not possessed with devils, yet by
nature we are possessed with devilish vices and lusts, which if they do not
distress and vex our bodies, will most certainly destroy our souls. Never
creature possessed with evil spirit was in a worse plight than the man who is
without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world. The casting out
of the unclean spirit was moreover a thing that was impossible to man and
only possible to God; and so is the conversion of an ungodly sinner a thing
beyond the reach of human ability, and only to be accomplished by the might
of the Most High. The dreadful bellowings, foamings, and tearings caused in
this unhappy child by the unclean spirit, are a picture of the sins,
iniquities, and vices into which ungodly men are continually and impetuously
hurried; and a type of that sad and terrible suffering which remorse will by-
and-bye bring to their conscience, and which the vengeance of God will soon
cause to occupy their hearts. The bringing of this child to the Saviour by
his parents teaches us a lesson, that those of us to whom the care of youth
is entrusted, either as parents or teachers, should be anxious to bring our
children to Jesus Christ, that he may graciously save them. The devout desire
and compassion of the father for his child is but a pattern of what every
parent ought to feel for his offspring. Like Abraham, he should pray, "O that
Ishmael might live before thee;" and not only put up the prayer, but also
strive in the use of the means to bring his child to the Pool of Siloam that
haply the angel may stir the stream, and his son may step into the water and
be made whole. The parent should place his offspring where the Saviour walks,
that he may look upon him and heal him. The coming of the child to Christ is
a picture of saving faith, for faith is coming to Christ, simply believing in
the power of his atonement. And lastly, the casting down and tearing which is
mentioned in my text is a picture of the comer's conflict with the enemy of
souls. "As he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down and tare him." Our
subject this morning will be the well known fact, that coming sinners, when
they approach the Saviour, are often thrown down by Satan and torn, so that
they suffer exceedingly in their minds, and are well nigh ready to give up in
There are four points for our consideration this morning. That you may easily
remember them I have made them alliterative: the devil's doings, designs,
discovery, and defeat.
I. First, THE DEVIL'S DOINGS. When this child came to Christ to be healed,
the devil threw him down and tare him. Now this is an illustration of what
Satan does with most, if not all sinners, when they come to Jesus to seek
light and life through him; he throws them down and tears them. Allow me to
point out how it is that the devil causes those extraordinary pangs and
agonies which attend conversion. He has a multitude of devices, for he is
cunning and crafty, and he has divers ways of accomplishing that end.
1. First of all he does this by perverting the truth of God for the
destruction of the soul's hope and comfort. The devil is very sound in
divinity. I never suspected him of heterodoxy yet. I believe him to be one of
the most orthodox individuals in creation. Other people may disbelieve the
doctrines of revelation, but the devil cannot, for he knows the truth, and
though he will belie it often, he is so crafty that he understand that with
the soul convinced of sin his best method is not to contradict the truth, but
to pervert it. Now I will mention the five great doctrines which we hold to
be most prominent in Scripture, by the perversion of each of which the devil
tries to keep the soul in bondage, darkness, and despair.
First, there is the great doctrine of election-that God hath chosen to
himself a number that no man can number, who shall be holy, since they are
ordained to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Now the devil
agitates the coming soul upon that doctrine. "Oh," saith he, "perhaps you are
not elect. It is of no use your coming, and struggling, and striving; you may
sit still and do nothing, and yet be saved, if you are to be saved; but if
your name is written among the lost, all your praying, seeking, and believing
cannot save you." Thus the devil begins preaching sovereignty in the sinner's
ear, to make him believe that the Lord will assuredly cut him off. He asks,
"How can you suppose that such a wretch as you can be elected? You deserve to
be damned, and you know it. Your brother is a good moral man, but as for you,
you are the chief of sinners; do you think God would choose you?" Then if the
tempted one is instructed that election is not according to merit, but of
God's free will, Satan opens another battery, and insinuates, "You would not
feel like this if you were one of God's elect; you would not be allowed to
come into all this suffering, and pray so long in vain." And again he
whispers, 'You are not one of his;" and thus attempts to throw the soul down
and tear it in pieces. I would just like to have a blow at his schemes this
morning by reminding our friends that when they come to Christ they never
need puzzle themselves about the doctrine of election. No one, in teaching a
child the alphabet, makes him learn Z before he has learned A; so a sinner
must not expect to learn election until he knows faith. The text with which
he has to do is this: "He that believeth on the Lord Jesus shall be saved;"
and when the Lord has enabled him to learn and believe that, he may go on to
this: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through
sanctification of the Spirit unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood
of Jesus." But if he cannot shake off the subject from his mind, he needs not
do it, for he may remember that every penitent is elect, every believer is
elect. However great the sinner, if he does but repent, that is a proof that
he is elect; if he does but believe on Christ, he is as certainly elected as
his faith is genuine. I cannot tell that I am elected before I know whether I
believe in God. I cannot tell a thing unless I see its effects. I cannot tell
whether there is a seed in the ground unless you enable me to stir up the
soil, or to wait till I see the blade shooting from under the earth; so I
cannot tell whether you name is written in the Lamb's book of life until I
see God's love manifested in you in the stretching out of your hearts toward
God. I cannot disembowel the deep rocks of obscurity to find out that hidden
thing, unless evidences and effects furnish me with spade and mattock. There
is a newspaper in Glasgow called the Christian News, alias, the Un-Christian
News, or Christian Wasp, and the editor says of me, that I am not fit to
preach God's word because I do not know (can you guess what it is?) who God's
elect are. He writes words to this effect,-"According to his own confession,
the young man does not know who God's elect are until he has asked them
questions, and knows their character." Well, if I did, I should be
marvelously wise indeed. Who does know them apart from those signs, and
marks, and evidences, in the heart and life which God always vouchsafes to
his elect in due time? Shall I unlock the archives of heaven and read the
rolls, or, with presumptuous hand unfold the Lamb's book of life, to know who
are God's elect? No; I leave that for the editor of the Christian News to do,
and when he publishes a full and correct list of the elect, no doubt it will
be bought up tremendously, and the printer will speedily make a fortune by
it. Let not the soul be distressed about election, for all who repent and
believe do so, as the effect of their election.
The next doctrine is that of our depravity-that all men are fallen in Adam,
that they are all gone aside from the truth, and that moreover by their
practice they have become full of sin; that in them dwelleth no good thing,
and that if any good thing shall ever come there, it shall be put there by
God; for there is not even the seed of goodness in the heart, much less the
flower of it. The devil torments the soul with that doctrine, and he says,
"See what a depraved creature you are; you know how dreadfully you have
sinned against God; you have gone astray ten thousand times. See," he says,
"there are your old sins still crying after you;" and he waves his wand, and
gives a resurrection to past iniquities, which rise up like ghosts and
terrify the soul. "There, look at that midnight scene; remember the deed if
ingratitude; hark! do you not hear that oath echoed back from the walls of
the past. Look at your heart; can that ever be washed? Why, it is full of
blackness. You know you tried to pray yesterday, and your mind roved to your
business before you were half through your prayer; and since you have been
seeking God you have only been half in earnest, knocking at the door
sometimes, and then afterwards giving it up. It is impossible you should ever
be forgiven; you have gone too far astray for the shepherd to find you; you
are altogether become filthy; your heart is deceitful above all things and
desperately wicked, and you cannot be saved." Many a poor soul has had a most
terrible tearing with that doctrine. I have felt something of it myself, when
I have verily thought that I must be rent in pieces by the dread remembrance
of what I had been. The devil throws the sinner down and pulls him almost
limb from limb, by persuading him that his guilt is heinous beyond parallel,
and his iniquities are far beyond the reach of mercy, and his death-warrant
is signed. Ah! poor soul, get up again; the devil has no right to throw you
down. Your sin cannot be too great for God's mercy. It is not the greatness
of sin that can cause any man to be damned, if there be not a want of faith.
If a man has faith, notwithstanding all the sins he ever may have committed,
he shall be saved; but if he have but one sin without faith, that one sin
shall utterly destroy him. Faith in the blood of Christ destroys the sting of
sin. One drop of the Saviour's precious blood could extinguish a thousand
flaming words if God should will it, much more put out the burning fears of
your poor heart. If thou believest in Christ, thou shalt say to the mountain
of thy guilt, "Be thou removed far hence, and cast into the depths of the
Then, there is the doctrine of effectual calling, that God calls his children
effectually; that it is not the power of man which brings us to God, but that
it is the work of God to bring man to grace; that he calls those whom he
would save with an effectual and special call which he vouchsafes only to his
children. "There now," says the evil one, "the minister said there must be an
effectual call; depend upon it yours is not such a call; it never came from
God; it is only a few heated feelings; you were excited a little under the
sermon, and it will all be gone directly, like the morning cloud or the early
dew. You have strong desires sometimes, but at other seasons they are not
half so vehement; if the Lord drew you, you would be always drawn with the
same power; it will be over soon, and you will be all the worse for having
been inclined to go to God under these legal convictions, and then,
afterwards, running away from him." Well, beloved, tell Satan that you don't
know whether it is an effectual call, but you know this, that if you perish
you will go to Christ and perish only there; tell him you know it is so
effectual that you cannot help going to Christ; that whether it is to last or
not you cannot say, that you will let him know by-and-bye; but that you are
resolved (for this is your last defence), if you perish, to perish at the
cross of Christ; and so by the help of God you may by such means overcome him
when he throws you down on that doctrine.
The devil will also pervert the doctrine of final perseverance. "Look," says
Satan, "the children of God always hold on their way: they never leave off
being holy; they persevere; their faith is like the path of the just, shining
more and more unto the perfect day; and so would ours be if you were one of
the Lord's. But you will never be able to persevere. Don't you remember-six
months ago, when you were lying on a sick bed you resolved to serve God, and
it all broke down? You have vowed many times that you would be a Christian,
and it has not lasted a fortnight. It will never do; you are too fickle; you
will never keep fast hold on Christ; you will go with him a little while, but
you will be sure to turn back; therefore, you cannot be one of the Lord's,
for they never do turn back." So he tries to pull and tear the poor soul on
that great and comforting doctrine. The same nail on which a sinner must hang
his hope the devil tries to drive into the very temples of his faith, that he
may die like Sisera in the tent of Jael. Oh, poor soul, tell Satan that thy
perseverance is not thine, but that God is the author of it; that however
weak thou art thou knowest thy weakness, but that if God begins a good work
he will never leave it unfinished. And repelling him thus, thou mayest rise
up from that throwing down and tearing which he has given to thee.
Then there is the doctrine of redemption; with which the unclean spirit will
assault the soul. "Oh," says Satan, "it is true Christ died, but not for you;
you are a peculiar character." I remember the devil once made me believe that
I was one alone, without a companion. I thought there was no one like myself.
I saw that others had sinned as I had done, and had gone as far as I had, but
I fancied what there was something peculiar about my sin. Thus the devil
tried to set me apart as if I did not belong to the rest of mankind, I
thought that if I had been anybody else I might have been saved. How often I
wished I had been a poor swearing drunken man in the streets, and then I
thought I might have a better chance; but as it was, I thought I was to die
alone, like the deer in the shade of the forest. But well do I remember my
friends singing that sweet hymn,-
"His grace is sov'reign, rich and free,
And why, my soul, why not for thee?"
One of the hymns in Denham's selection, and it ought to have been in
Rippon's, as well as I can remember, ends thus,-
"He shed his blood so rich and free,
And why, my soul, why not for thee?"
That is just the question we never put to ourselves. We say, "Sure, my soul,
why not for anybody else but thee." Up, poor soul! If Satan is trying to tear
thee, tell him it is written, "He is able to save to save to the uttermost
all who come unto God by him;" that "whosoever cometh he will in no wise cast
out;" and it may be that thus God will deliver thee from that desperate
conflict into which, as a coming sinner, thou hast been cast.
2. But Satan is not very scrupulous, and he sometimes throws the coming
sinner down and tears him by telling horrible falsehoods. Some of you may not
have known this, and I thank God if you do not understand some of the things
of which I am about to speak. Many a time when the soul is coming to Christ,
Satan violently injects infidel thoughts. I have never been thoroughly an
unbeliever but once, and that was not before I knew the need of a Saviour,
but after it. It was just when I wanted Christ and panted after him, that on
a sudden the thought crossed my mind, which I abhorred but could not conquer,
that there was no God, no Christ, no heaven, no hell; that all my prayers
were but a farce, and that I might as well have whistled to the winds or
spoken to the howling waves. Ah! I remember how my ship drifted along through
that sea of fire, loosened from the anchor of my faith which I had received
from my fathers. I doubted everything, until at last the devil defeated
himself by making me doubt my own existence, and I thought I was an idea
floating in the nothingness of acuity; then startled with that thought, and
feeling that I was substantial flesh and blood after all, I saw that God was,
and Christ was, and heaven was, and hell was, and that all these things were
very truths. I should not be astonished if many here have been upon the very
verge of infidelity, and have doubted almost everything. It is when Satan
finds the heart tender that he tries to stamp his own impress of infidelity
upon the soul; but, blessed be God, he never accomplishes it in the truly
coming sinner. He labours also to inject blasphemous thoughts, and then tells
us they are ours. Has he not sometimes poured in most vehement torrents of
blasphemy and evil imaginations into our hearts, which we ignorantly thought
must be our own? Yet not one of them perhaps belonged to us. I remember I had
once been alone musing on God, when on a sudden it seemed as if the
floodgates of hell had been loosened; my head became a very pandemonium; ten
thousand evil spirits seemed to be holding carnival within my brain; and I
held my mouth lest I should give utterance to the words of blasphemy that
were poured into my ears. Things I had never heard or thought of before came
rushing impetuously into my mind, and I could scarce withstand their
influence. It was the devil throwing me down and tearing me. Ah! poor soul,
thou wilt have that perhaps; but remember it is only one of the tricks of the
arch-enemy. he drives his unclean beasts into your field and then calls them
yours. Now, in old time, when tramps and vagrants troubled a parish, they
whipped them and then sent them on to the next parish. So when you get these
evil thoughts, give them a sound whipping and send them away; they do not
belong to you if you do not indulge them. But if you fear that these thoughts
are your own, you may say, "I will go to Christ, and even if these
blasphemies are mine I will confess them to the great High Priest, for I know
that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men."
3. Then if the devil cannot overcome you there, he tries another method; he
takes all the threatening passages out of God's Word, and says they all apply
to you. He reads you this passage, "There is a sin unto death; I do not say
that ye should pray for it." "There," says the devil, "the apostle did not
say he could even pray for the man who had committed certain sins." Then he
reads, that "sin against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven." "There," he
says, "is your character: you have committed sin against the Holy Ghost, and
you will never be pardoned." Then he brings another passage: "Let him alone;
Ephraim is joined unto idols." "There," says Satan, "you have had no liberty
in prayer lately; God has let you alone; you are given unto idols; you are
entirely destroyed;" and the cruel fiend is to be lost. But do not believe
him my dear friends. No man has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost as
long as he has grace to repent; it is certain that no man can have committed
that sin if he flies to Christ and believes on him. No believing soul can
commit it; no penitent sinner ever has committed it. If a man be careless and
thoughtless-if he can hear a terrible sermon and laughed it off, and put away
his convictions-if he never feels ay strivings of conscience, there is a fear
that he may have committed that sin. But as long as you have any desires for
Christ, you have no more committed that sin than you have flown up to the
stars and swept cobwebs from the skies. As long as you have any sense of your
guilt, any desire to be redeemed, you cannot have fallen into that sin; as a
penitent you may still be saved, but if you had committed it, you could not
II. Let me dwell for a moment or two upon the second point-the DEVIL'S
DESIGN. Why does he throw the coming soul down and tear it?
First, because he does not like to lose it. "No king will willingly lose his
subjects," said Apollyon to Christian when he stretched himself across the
road, "and I swear thou shalt go no farther; here will I spill thy soul."
There he stood vowing vengeance at him because he had escaped from his
dominion. Do you suppose that Satan would lose his subjects one by one, and
not be wroth? Assuredly not. As soon as he sees a soul hurrying off to the
wicket gate, with his eyes fixed on the light, away go all hell's dogs after
him. "There is another of my subjects going; my empire is being thinned; my
family is being diminished:" and he tries with his might and main to bring
the poor soul back again. Ah! soul, don't be deceived by him; his design is
to throw you down; he does not tell thee these things to do thee good, or to
humble thee, but in order to keep thee from coming to Christ, and decoy thee
into his net, where he may utterly destroy thee.
Sometimes, I believe, he has the vile design of inducing poor souls to make
away with themselves before they have faith in Christ. This is an extreme
case, but I have met with not a few who have been thus tempted to take away
their lives, and rush before their Maker with their hands red with their own
blood; for Satan knows full well that no murderer has eternal life abiding in
him. But he never accomplished his design in the soul of one elect sinner
Then Satan has another motive. When the soul is coming to Christ he tries,
out of spite, to worry that soul. Satan's heart is made up of that which is
just the opposite of benevolence-malevolence; he hates everything, and loves
nothing; he hates to see any creature happy, any soul glad; and when he sees
a soul coming to Christ, he says, "Ah! I have nearly lost him; I shall never
have an opportunity of bringing thundering condemnation into his ears, and
dragging him about in the flames of hell as I thought; and now before he is
gone I will do something; the last grip shall be a hard one; the last blow
shall be dealt with all my power;" and down he comes upon the poor soul, who
falls wallowing upon the earth in despair and doubt; then he tears him, and
will not leave him until he has worked as much of his way with him as the
Lord will let him. Don't be afraid, child of God. "Resist the devil, and he
will flee from you;" and even though he may cast you to the ground, remember
that the righteous falleth many times, but he riseth up again; and so shalt
thou, and the designs of the enemy shall be frustrated, as it is written,
"Thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee."
III. In the third place, there is the DEVIL'S DISCOVERY. I do not think the
devil would be able to throw one poor sinner to the ground if he came as the
devil; but it is seldom he does that. He presents himself as an angel of
light, or even as the Holy Spirit. He knows that the Holy Spirit does all the
work of salvation, and therefore he tries to counterfeit the operations of
the Holy Ghost. He knows it is the Holy Spirit's work to take away pride from
man, and to humble the soul. Well, Satan counterfeits that blessed work, and
takes away hope from man as well as pride. Under the pretence of humbling the
poor sinner, and telling him that he ought to lie lower in the dust, he not
only humbles the poor soul, but puts it down so low that he dishonors God too
in the sinner's estimation, by telling him that God himself cannot save him.
Satan will try, if he can, to mar God's work, while it is yet upon the
potter's wheel, by putting on his own instrument while the clay is whirling
round upon the wheel, that it may not assume the Holy Ghost's shape, but that
there may be some marks of the devil's workmanship in the article. Sometimes
you ask God that you may be able to agonize in prayer. "That is right," says
Satan, "agonize in prayer; but remember you must now receive the mercy, or
you are lost." So he glides in and adds a little piece to the truth, making
you believe it is an impulse of the Holy Spirit, while it is, after all, a
deception of the Father of Lies. The Holy Ghost tells you that you are a lost
sinner, and undone; "Ah!" says the devil, "you are, and you cannot be saved;"
and thus again under the very garb of the Spirit's operations he deceives the
soul. It is my firm belief that very much of the experience of a Christian is
not Christian experience. Many Christians experience things that have nothing
to do with Christianity, but more to do with demonology. When you read the
convictions of John Bunyan, you may think that all that terror was the fruit
of the Holy Spirit; but be assured it was the fruit of Satanic influence. You
may think it is God's Holy Spirit that drives sinners to despair and keeps
them shut up in the iron cage so long. Not at all. There was God's Holy
Spirit, and then Satan came in to mar the work if he could.
Now I will give the poor sinner a means of detecting Satan, so that he may
know whether his convictions are from the Holy Spirit, or merely the
bellowing of hell in his ears. In the first, place, you may be always sure
that that which comes from the devil will make you look at yourselves and not
at Christ. The Holy Spirit's work is to turn our eyes from ourselves to Jesus
Christ, but the enemy's work is the very opposite. Nine out of ten of the
insinuations of the devil have to do with ourselves. "You are guilty," says
the devil-that is self. "You have not faith"-that is self. "You do not repent
enough"-that is self. "You have got such a wavering hold of Christ"-that is
self. "You have none of the joy of the spirit, and therefore cannot be one of
his"-that is self. Thus the devil begins picking holes in us; whereas the
Holy Spirit takes self entirely away, and tells us that we are "nothing at
all," but that
"Jesus Christ is all in all."
Satan brings the carcass of self and pulls it about, and because that is
corrupt, tells us that most assuredly we cannot be saved. But remember,
sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not
thy joy in Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not even faith in
Christ, though that is the instrument-it is Christ's blood and merits;
therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ,
as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope;
look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith;
and if thou dost that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down, but as
long as thou lookest at thyself, the meanest of those evil spirits may tread
thee beneath his feet.
You may discern the devil's insinuations in another way, they generally
reflect upon some attribute of God. Sometimes they reflect upon his love, and
tell you that God will not save you; sometimes upon his long suffering, and
they tell you you are too old, and that God won't save you; sometimes upon
his sovereignty, and they tell you that God does not choose as he wills, but
that he has respect to characters, and takes men according to their merits;
sometimes they reflect upon God's truth, and they tell you that he will not
keep his promise; ay, and sometimes they reflect upon the very being of God,
and tell you that there is not such a one. But O poor trembling soul, Satan
shall not get an advantage over thee; but take care-detect him; and when thou
hast found out the devil, thou hast frustrated his aims as far as thou art
IV. Now, in the last place, we have to consider the DEVIL'S DEFEAT. How was
he defeated? Jesus rebuked him. Beloved, there is no other way for us to be
saved from the castings down of Satan but the rebuke of Jesus. "Oh," says one
poor soul, "many months and years have I been distressed for fear I should
not be saved; I have gone from place to place in hopes that some minister
might say something which should rebuke the evil spirit." Sister, or beloved
brother, have you not been doing wrong? Is it not Jesus who rebukes the evil
spirit? Or perhaps you have been trying to rebuke the evil spirit yourself;
you have tried to argue and dispute with him; you have said that you are not
so vile as he described you to be. Beloved, have you not been doing wrong. It
is not your business to rebuke Satan "The Lord rebuke thee," that is what
thou shouldst say. Oh! if you had looked to Jesus and said, "Lord, rebuke
him," he had only need say, "Hush!" and the demon would have been still in a
moment, for he knows how omnipotent Jesus is, since he feels his power. But
you get striving to pacify your own heart when you are under these
temptations, instead of remembering that it is Jesus only who can remove the
affliction. If I had one here who suffered the most from this ailment-the
possession of Satan, I would say to him, beloved, sit down; remember Jesus;
go to Gethsemane, and depend upon it the devil will never stay there with
you; think on the agonies of your Saviour covered with his blood; the devil
cannot bear Christ's blood-he goes howling away at the very thought of it. Go
to the pavement where Christ endured the accursed flagellation; the devil
will not stay long there with you; and if you sit at the foot of his cross
"Oh! how sweet to view the flowing,
Of his ever precious blood,"
you will not long find the devil vexing you. It is no use to get praying
simply. Prayer is good in itself, but that is not the way to get rid of
Satan-it is thinking of Christ. We get saying, "Oh, that I had stronger
faith! Oh, that I had love to Jesus!" It is good for a Christian to say that,
but it is not enough, the way to overcome Satan, and to have peace with God
is through Christ, "I am the way;" if thou wouldst know the way, come to
Christ. "I am the truth:" if thou wouldst refute the devil's lies come to the
truth. "I am the life:" if thou wouldst be spared from Satan's killing, come
to Jesus. There is one thing which we all of us too much becloud in our
preaching, though I believe we do it very unintentionally-namely, the great
truth that it is not prayer, it is not faith, it is not our doings, it is not
our feelings upon which we must rest, but upon Christ, and on Christ alone.
We are apt to think that we are not in a right state, that we do not feel
enough, instead of remembering that our business is not with self, but
Christ. Our business is only with Christ. O soul, if thou couldst fix thy
soul on Jesus, and neglect everything else-if thou couldst but despise good
works, and aught else, so far as they relate to thy salvation, and look
wholly, simply on Christ, I tell thee Satan would soon give up throwing thee
down, he would find it would not answer his purpose, for thou wouldst fall on
Christ, and like the giant who fell upon his mother, the earth, thou wouldst
rise up each time stronger than before. Have I then within hearing one poor
tried, tempted, devil-dragged soul? Has Satan been pulling you through the
thorns, and briers, and thickets, until you are scarred and bruised? Come
now, I have tried to preach a rough sermon to you because I knew I had rough
work to do with roughly used souls. Is there nothing here, poor sinner, that
thou canst lay hold upon? Art thou so locked up that not one ray of light
comes through the iron bars? What! art thou so chained that thou canst not
move hand or foot? Why, man, I have brought thee a pitcher and a piece of
bread to-day even in thy dungeon. Though thou art cast down, there is a
little here to comfort thee in what I have said: but oh! if my Master would
come he would bring more than that, for he would rebuke the unclean spirit,
and it would immediately depart from thee. Let me beseech thee, look only to
Christ; never expect deliverance from self, from Satan, from ministers, or
from means of any kind apart from Christ; keep thine eye simply on him; let
his death, his agonies, his groans, his sufferings, his merits, his glories,
his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning
look for him; when thou liest down at night look for him. Oh! let not thy
hopes or fears come between thee and Christ; seek only Christ; let the hymn
we sang be thy hymn and thy prayer,-
"Lord, deny me what thou wilt,
Only ease me of my guilt,
Prostrate at thy feet I lie,
Give me Christ, or else I die."
And then, even though the devil throw thee down and tear thee, it were better
he should do so now than that he should tear thee for ever.
I have some here, however, who will laugh at what I have been preaching this
morning. Ah! sirs, you may do so; but bitter though my text may be, I wish
you had it in your mouths. Though sad be the experience of being torn when
coming to Christ, I had rather see you so than see you whole, away from
Christ. It is better to be rent in pieces coming to the Saviour, than to have
a sound, whole heart away from him. Tremble, sinner, tremble, for if thou
comest not to Christ, he shall rend thee at last; his eye shall not pity,
neither shall his hand spare thee. He hath said, "Beware ye that forget God,
lest I tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver." Sirs, within another
hour, and some of you may know this; certainly, before long there are some
who will be torn in pieces by the wrath of God. Why will ye die? Why will ye
die? You cannot answer the question, I think; but let it rest upon your
hearts. What profit will you have in your own blood? What will you profit if
you gain the whole world and lose your own soul? Remember, Jesus Christ can
save even you. Believe on his name, ye convinced sinners, believe on Christ.
The Lord bless you, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
The Devil's Last Throw
June 10, 1883 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him." Luke 9:42 .
Our Lord Jesus Christ taught the people much by his words, but he taught them even more by his actions. He was always preaching, his whole life was a heavenly discourse on divine truth; and the miracles which he wrought were not only the proofs of his deity, but the illustrations of his teaching his wonders of mercy were, in fact, acted sermons, truths embodied, pictorial illustrations appealing to the eye, and thus setting forth gospel teaching quite as clearly as vocal speech could have done. When we read of the miracles of our Lord, we should not only accept them as proofs of his Deity, and seals of his commission, but as instructions as to the manner of his gracious working. What he did of old to the bodies of men should be received as a prophecy of what he is to-day prepared to do to the souls of men. I am sure I shall not be straining the meaning of the text, or the intention of the miracle, if, instead of preaching about the youth possessed of the devil, and dwelling only upon that wonderful display of power, I endeavor to show that there are parallel cases at this time in the world of mind. Jesus is able to work in the unseen spirit-world miracles such as were foreshadowed by those, which he wrought in the visible natural world. I suppose that we have never seen Satanic possession, although I am not quite sure about it; for some men exhibit symptoms which are very like it. The present existence of demons within the bodies of men I shall neither assert nor deny; but certainly, in our Savior's day it was very common for devils to take possession of men and torment them greatly. It would seem that Satan was let loose while Christ was here below that the serpent might come into personal conflict with the appointed seed of the woman, that the two champions might stand foot to foot in solemn duel, and that the Lord Jesus might win a glorious victory over him. Since his defeat by our Lord, and by his apostles, it would seem that Satan's power over human bodies has been greatly limited; but we have still among us the same thing in another and worse shape, namely, the power of sin over men's minds. That this is akin to the power of the devil over the body is clear from holy Scripture. "The God of this world hath blinded the eyes of them that believe not." "The spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," says the apostle Paul Satan works in all ungodly men, as a smith at his forge; do you wonder that they sometimes curse and swear? These are only the sparks from the forge below, flying out of the chimney. The evil one is found co-operating with evil natures, finding fire for their tinder, blowing up the flame that is within them, and in every way assisting them, and exciting them to do evil; so that, albeit men are not possessed of devils in the sense in which they were so in Christ's day, yet the evil one still has power over them and leads them whithersoever he desires. Do we not constantly meet with persons of this kind? I do. I know passionate men in whom the fiercest of devils appear to rave and rage; and I could point out others whose love of lying betrays the presence of the father of lies. One blasphemes and uses such filthy language that we are sure his tongue is set on fire of hell, even if the prince of devils is not ruling it. A man says, "Drink is ruining me, body and soul. I know that it is shortening my life. I have had delirium tremens, and I know that I shall have it again if I continue as I am; but I cannot leave the drink. Sometimes the craving comes over me, and I seem as if I must swallow the intoxicating draught, whether I will or no." Whether this is the devil, or whether it is altogether the man himself, I am not going to argue; but the drink-devil, whose name is legion, is certainly among us to this day, and we hear persons tell us that they are anxious to escape from its power, and yet they return to it, rushing to intoxication as the swine rushed into the sea when the demons had entered into them. Need I mention another form of this evil in the shape of unchastity? How many a man there is alas, it is true of women too! struggling against a fierce passion, and yet that passion conquers them; the unclean desire comes upon them like a hurricane bearing all before it, and they yield to it as the sere leaf yields to the blast. Nay more, they rush into a sin, which they themselves condemn, of which already they have tasted the bitter fruit: they could not be more eager for it if it were the purest of all enjoyments. As the moth dashes again into the candle, which has burned its wings, so do men hurry into the vice which has filled them with misery. They are possessed and domineered over by the spirit of lust, and return to their crimes as the oxen return to the stream. I need not go further into details, for one man falls into sin in one way, and another falls after quite a different fashion. All devils are not alike though they are alike evil. Anger differs from lust, and profligacy laughs at covetousness, yet are they all of one brood, privates in the same dreadful legion. Men practice differing sins, but their sins all manifests the same evil power. Unless Christ has set us free we are all in some shape or other under the dominion of the prince of darkness, the master of the forces of evil. This poor young man of whom we are to talk to night was brought into a most horrible condition through the influence of a Satanic spirit. He was a lunatic: reason had been dethroned. He was an epileptic, so that if left alone he would fall into the fire or into the water. You have yourself seen persons in fits of epilepsy, and you know how dreadful would be their danger if they were taken in a fit in the middle of a street, or by the side of a river. In this youth's case the epilepsy was only the means by which the demon exercised his power, and this made his condition seven-fold worse than if it had been simply a disease. This afflicted one had become deaf and dumb besides, and very violent, so that he was capable of doing a great deal of mischief. In all the Holy Land there was only one who could do anything for him there was one name by which he could be cured, and only one. It was the name of Jesus. The Lord Jesus had disciples who had wrought miracles in his name, but they were baffled by this extraordinary case. They tried what they could do, but they were utterly defeated, and gave up the task in despair; and now there remained only one person beneath the canopy of heaven that could touch this child's case and drive out the devil. Only one person could now answer the poor father's prayers: every other hope was dead. That is just the state in which we are: there is bat one name under heaven whereby we must be saved. Many are the pretended salvations, but only one is real.
"There is a name high over all, In hell, and earth, and sky. Angels and men before it fall, And devils fear and fly."
That one name is the name of Jesus, the Son of God, to whom all power is given. He is God, and can deliver any man from the dominion of evil, whatever form it may have assumed, and however long established the dominion may be. Cure besides there is none. Nothing else can rescue a man from the thralldom of his sin but the word of Jesus. When the word of power is spoken from his divine mouth all things obey; but none out of the ten thousand voices of earth can deliver us from evil. We are shut up to heavens unique remedy: God grants that, being so shut up, we may avail ourselves of it. This poor lad, although nobody could cure him save Jesus, had a father that loved him, and nobody could tell the sorrow of that father's heart because of his poor son. The father had a sharp struggle to get his son to the disciples, for epileptic persons who are also insane are hard to manage. I cannot tell how many round about assisted to hold him, all pitying the poor creature. Alas, the Lord Jesus Christ was away! The parent's heart was heavy when he found that the great healer to whom he looked was for a while absent. But when Jesus came down from the mountaintop the poor demoniac had this one great advantage that he had friends to aid in bringing him to Christ. I hope that all here who are not saved are privileged with relationship to some friend who seeks their salvation. Perhaps it is a wife who cannot bear that her husband should remain out of Christ, or a husband who pines till his spouse is turned unto the Lord, and in either case it is a great help. How often a mother bears a secret anguish in her breast for her unconverted sons and daughters! I have known a sister in the family to be the only one who knew the Lord, and she has pleaded with the Lord day and night, entreating him to bless the whole of her household. Frequently a servant in the house becomes its best helper, or it may he a neighbor who has seen the ungodly conduct of his neighbors never ceases to pry for them. When some few get together to bring a especially hard case before Jesus, it is blessed work: for desperate cases grow hopeful under the influence of prayer. Come, ye saved ones, pray with me now for these unrenewed sinners, that at this moment they may feel the power of our Lord Jesus. I. So, then, my first point shall be, that OUR HOPES ARE ALL AWAKENED.
Here is a poor youth, but bad as he is terribly possessed us he is, he is coming to Christ! Prayer has been offered for him by his father, and Jesus is near. All looks well! We will take the ease of a sinner who is in a similar condition: prayer has been offered for him, and that prayer has, in some measure, been heard. We have in this congregation, I trust, some who are coming to Christ, and I am right glad of it. Coming to Christ is not the best possible condition, for the best condition is to have already come to him. For a hungry man to be coming to a dinner is not enough: he must actually reach the table and eat. For a sick man to be coming to an eminent physician is hopeful, but it is not enough; he must get to that physician, take his medicine, and be restored. That is the point. To be coming to Christ is not enough: you must actually come to him, and really receive him; for to such only does he give power to become the sons of God. This poor child was coming, and so are some here: that is to say, they have begun to hear the gospel with attention. They did not aforetime go anywhere on the Sabbath nor did they get up very early on a Sunday morning. I can see a man who seldom rose on a Sunday morning, and when he did, he read his newspaper. You might see him any time before one o'clock in his shirtsleeves. Half this city of London is in that condition every Sunday morning, because they look upon the day as simply their own day, and not the Lord's-day. They have very short memories, and do not "remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy:" they forget all about its being the Lord's-day, and do not reverence it. This is shameful conduct towards God. If a man on the road were to meet with a poor beggar, and give him six out of seven shillings, which he had with him, the beggar would be a wicked wretch if he afterwards knocked the man down and stole the other shilling. Yet there are multitudes of people to whom God gives six days out of seven, and nothing will satisfy them but they must have the seventh all to themselves, and rob God of it. The man I refer to is repenting of this wrong, and so you see him coming upon the Sunday morning to hear the gospel. He hears it very attentively; he leans forward to catch every word, and he treasures up what he hears. We are sure that he is coming to Christ, for when he gets home he reaches down his Bible. He has begun to read the Word of God in an earnest way. He thought at one time that it was about the dullest book in the world. He even dared to turn it into a jest, and all because he never read it; for those who deny the inspiration of Scripture are almost always people who have never read it for themselves. It is a book, which carries conviction within itself to candid minds when they carefully peruse it. Assuredly this man is coming to Christ, for he searches the Scriptures. I feel sure he is coming to Christ, for he has begun to mend in many respects. He has dropped his frequent attendance at his usual place of worship, namely, the public house. He keeps more at home, and is therefore sober. Plenty of people in London need no bell to fetch them into the temples of their gods. We see in some of our churches and chapels persons going in twenty minutes or half-an-hour after service begins; but look at the temples of Bacehus at one o'clock, and at six in the evening, and see how punctual are his votaries! The worshippers of liquid fire stand outside till the shrine is opened; they are afraid of being late; they are so thirsty that they long for the time of the deadly libation. Drink seems to be the water of life to them, poor creatures that they are! But now our friend of whom we are so hopeful is not seen waiting at the posts of the doors the "Blue Posts," I mean. Thank God, he is looking to another fountain for comfort. Note also that he has dropped his blasphemy and his unchastity. He is a purer man in mouth and body than he used to be. He is coming to Christ. But, as I said, coming is not enough. The thing is really to reach the Lord Jesus and to be healed by him. I pray you, do not rest short of this. Still, this is all hopeful, very hopeful. The man is a hearer; he is also a reader of the Scriptures; he has begun to mend a bit; and now he is a thinker, too, and begins to be a little careful about his soul. While he is at his labor, you can see that there is something working in his brain, though once it was filled with vanity and wickedness. He has a weight, too, at his heart, a burden on his mind; he is evidently in earnest; so far as he knows the teaching of Scripture he is deeply affected by it. He has learned that he will not cease to exist when he dies; but that he will continue to be when yonder sun becomes black as a burnt-out coal. He knows that there will he a day of judgment, when throngs upon throngs, yea, all the dead, shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to give an account of the things which they have done in the body; he thinks this over, and he is alarmed. He chews the cud upon divine truth, and finds time for solitary meditation. That man is coming to Christ, for there is no better evidence of the face being set towards Christ and heaven than a thoughtful state of mind. And I have heard of course, I cannot tell, for I was not there to see I have heard, I say, that the other night he began to pray. If so, I know that he is coming to Christ, for prayer is a sure token. He has not vet cast himself fully at the feet of Jesus, but he cries, "Lord, save me." He is coming, and I am as glad as the birds on a spring morning. The angels are watching; they are leaning from the battlements of heaven to see whether it will end rightly, and you and I are very hopeful, especially those of us who have been praying for this man; for since we see that there is some change in him, and he begins to think and pray, we look for his salvation, as men look for flowers when April showers are falling. So, you see, our hopes are excited. II. And now I will read the text again, "As he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him." By this OUR FEARS ARE AROUSED.
What a sight it must have been! Here is the poor father bringing his lunatic son, and friends are helping him; they are getting him near the Savior, and he is just coining to him who can cure him, when, on a sudden, he is taken in a fearful fit, worse than he shall ever suffered before. He is cast down, thrown about, dashed to and fro; he wallows on the ground: he seems to be flung up and down as by an unseen hand, we fear that he will be torn to pieces. See! he falls down like a dead man, and there he lies. As the crowd gathers around him, people cry, "He is dead." Does it not seem a dreadful thing that when hope was at its brightest all should he dashed aside? I have observed this thing scores of times: I might say, I think without exaggeration, hundreds of times. I have seen men, just when they were beginning to hear and beginning to think, taken on a sudden with such violence of sin, and so fearfully carried away by it, that if I had not seen the same thing before I should have despaired of them; but, having often seen it, I know what it means, and I am not so dismayed as a raw observer might be; though I must confess that it half breaks my heart when it happens to some hopeful convert whom I hoped to receive into the church, and to rejoice over. We mourn when we hear that the man who was somewhat impressed has become worse than aforetime, and has gone back to the very vice from which we had rescued him. The case runs on the same lines as our text "As he was a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him." How does the devil do this? Well, we have seen it done in this way: When the man had almost believed in Christ, but not quite, Satan seemed to multiply his temptations around him, and to bring his whole force to bear upon him. There is a wicked man in the shop, and the devil says to him, "Your mate is beginning to be serious: ridicule him. Tempt him all you can. Treat him to strong drink. Get him away to the theater, the music-hall, or the brothel." It is wonderful how the ungodly will lay all kinds of traps for one who is escaping from his sins. They are fearfully set on keeping him from Christ. This is a free country, is it not? A wonderfully free country when a Christian man in the workshop has to run the gauntlet for his very life to this day. A man may swear, and drink, and do what he likes that is detestable, and never is there a word of rebuke for him; but the moment he begins to be serious and thoughtful the wicked are down upon him like so many dogs on a rat. The devil finds willing servants, and they worry the poor awakened one; is there any wonder that, as he has not yet found Christ and is not yet saved, he should for the time be carried away by these assaults, and feel as if he could not go further in the right road? I have known in addition to all this that Satan has stirred up the anxious one's bad passions. Passions that lay asleep have suddenly been aroused. Moreover, the man has become thoughtful, and from that very fact doubts which he never knew before have come upon him. He begins to mend, and now he finds a difficulty in getting his needle through where the rent was made. He finds that tearing is easier work than mending, and that running into sin is a much more easy thing than rising out of the black ditch into which he has fallen. So now, what with those about him tempting him, his bad passions responding to the temptation and his doubts overclouding everything, it is not a marvelous thing that the poor creature grows worse before he gets better. The disease, which before had been concealed in more hidden and vital parts, seems to be thrown out upon the surface, and the sight is sickening. This, however, is not always a bad sign. Doctors rather prefer it to an inward festering. So have I seen it when men have been corning to Christ; their boat has been tossed with tempest, and they have been driven far out upon a raging sea. Yes, and I will tell you what I have seen. I have seen a man almost converted well-nigh a believer in Christ, on a sudden become more obstinate in his opposition to the gospel than ever he was before. A man that was quiet and harmless and inoffensive before has, under the influence of Satan, just when we hoped the best things of him, turned round in a rage against the people who sought to do him good, and he has spoken of the gospel which a little while before he seemed anxious to understand. Sometimes such persons act as if they were reckless and profane; just as boys, when they go through a graveyard, whistle to keep their courage up. Many a man says big things against the gospel when he is pretty nearly caving in, and he does not like anybody to know that he is beaten. He is coming to Jesus; but still he does not want anybody to see that he is so, and therefore he pretends to an opposition which is not sincere. Have you not discovered that a man is never so violent against a thing as when he is unwillingly convinced of the truth of it? He has to try and demonstrate to himself that he does not believe it by being very loud in his declarations: a secret something in his soul makes him believe, and he is mad because he cannot resist the inward conviction. Do not be astonished you that are trying to bring men to Christ if it should often happen that these lunatics break loose that these epileptics have a worse fit just before Christ cures them than ever you knew them to have had before. I will describe the usual way in which the devil throws men down and tears them. You need not listen to this unless you like, because it does not relate to all of you here; but it is true of a sufficient number to render it needful for me to speak of it. It is a very curious thing that if there is a poor soul in London that is well nigh insane through despair of heart he wants to talk to me. I am often sore burdened by the attempt to sympathize with the distracted. I do not know why they should be attracted to me, but they come to tell me of their evil state of mind people who have never seen me before. This fact gives me a wide field of actual practice and careful observation. I frequently meet with persons who are tempted with blasphemous thoughts. They have not yet laid hold on Christ, but they are trying to do so; and at this stage of their experience most horrible thoughts pass through their minds. They cannot prevent it they hate the thoughts, and yet they come, till they are ready to lose their reason. I will tell you what happened to me. I was engaged in prayer alone in a quiet place one day when I had just found the Savior, and while I was in prayer a most horrible stream of blasphemies came into my mind, till I clapped my hand to my mouth for fear that I should utter any one of them. I was so brought up that I do not remember ever hearing a man swear while I was a child; yet at that moment I seemed to know all the swearing and blasphemy that ever was in hell itself; and I wondered at myself. I could not understand whence this foul stream proceeded. I wrote to my venerable grandfather who was fur sixty years a minister of the gospel, and he said to me, "Do not trouble about it. These are no thoughts of yours; they are injected into your mind by Satan. The thoughts of man follow one another like the links of a chain, one link draws on another; but when a man is in prayer the next natural thought to prayer is not blasphemy; it is not, therefore, a natural secession of our own thoughts. An evil spirit casts those thoughts into the mind." I read also in an old book what they used to do years ago in our parishes in the "good old times" when nobody had any sense of humanity. If a poor wretch came to a parish begging, they whipped him through the place and sent him on to his own parish. Thus should we treat these diabolical thoughts. Whip them by hearty penitence and send them off to where they came from, back to their own parish, which is far down in the deeps. Thoughts of this sort, seeing you loathe them, are none of yours. Do not let Satan lay his brats at your door, but send them packing. Perhaps when you know this, it may help to break the chain; for the devil may not think it worth his while to worry you in this way any more, when he cannot by this means lead you to despair: he seldom wastes his time in spreading nets when the bird can see them. Therefore, tell Satan to begone, for you can see him, and you are not going to let him deceive you. It may be he will take the hint and begone. When this does not answer, I have known Satan to throw the coming sinner down and tear him in another way. "There," says he, "did you not hear the preacher speaking about election? You are not one of the elect. "Perhaps I am not," says one. Perhaps you are, say I, and I think that whether you are one of the elect or not, you had better come, on the ground that Jesus says "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If you come, he will not cast you out, and then you will find that you are one of the elect. You need not trouble about predestination you will see that clearly enough very soon. If any man had a ticket to go to a meeting, and he said, "I do not know whether I am ordained to get in or not," I should think it very probable that he was not ordained to eater if he sat at home in the chimney-corner and did not make the attempt to go; but if, having his ticket, he walked to the place and went in, I should feel sure that he was ordained to go in. You will know your election when you have obeyed your calling. Go you to Christ because you are commanded and invited, and leave the deeper question to be answered by the facts. Satan will throw men down and tear them in another way. "Ah!" says he, "you are too big a sinner." I make short work of that. No man is too big a sinner. "All manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." "Oh but," says Satan, "it is too late." Another lie of his. It is never too late so long as we are in this world, and come to Jesus for pardon. Generally in the case of young people he puts the clock back, and says "It is too soon"; and then when they get old he puts the clock on, and says "It is too late." It is never too late as long as Jesus lives, and the sinner repents. If a sinner were as old as Methuselah, if he came to Christ and trusted him he would be saved. "Oh but," the devil says, "it is no use your trying at all. The gospel is not true." Ay, but it is true, for some of us have proved it. I could bring before you to night, if it were necessary, men and women who lived in sin and wallowed in it, and yet the Lord Christ has saved them by his precious blood. They would rejoice to tell you how they have been delivered from the reign of sin by faith in Jesus, though they could never have delivered themselves. The gospel is true. Our converts prove it. Conversion is the standing miracle of the church; and while we see what it works every day in the week, we are confident and sure. When men that were passionate, dishonest, unchaste, covetous, become holy, gracious, loving, pure, generous, then we know that the gospel is true by the effect, which it produces. A lie would never produce holiness and love. Out of the way, devil! It is all in vain for you to come here with your falsehoods; we know the truth about you, and about the gospel, and you shall not deceive us. And then the devil will come with this "It is of no use. Give it up; give it up." Many and many a man who has been on the brink of eternal life, has been thrown down and torn with this," It is of no use; give it up. You have prayed, and you have not been answered: never pray again. You have attended the house of God, and you have become more miserable than ever: never go again. Ever since you have been a thinking man and a sober man, you have had more trouble than ever you had. See, says the devil, "what comes of your religion." Thus he tries to induce the newly awakened to give it up. But oh, in God's name let me implore you do not turn from it, for you are on the brink of the grand discovery. Another turf turned, and there is the golden treasure. After all your striving your long striving never give up the search until you have found your Savior; for your Savior is to be found. Trust in him this night, and he is yours forever. III. I shall not detain you much longer. But as our hopes have been awakened and our fears have been aroused, let us look on the scene till OUR WONDER IS EXCITED.
Did you notice when I was reading in the ninth chapter of Mark, how Jesus healed this poor child? He did heal him, he healed him of all that complication, healed him of the devil's domination, healed him of the epilepsy, healed him of being deaf and dumb, healed him of being a lunatic, healed him of pining away; and in one moment that young man was completely saved from all his ills. He could speak; he could hear; he was cured of his epilepsy, and was no more a lunatic, but a happy rational being. The whole thing was done at once. Wonder, and never leave off wondering! "Can a man be changed all at once? It must take a long time," says one. I admit there are certain qualities, which come only by education and patient watchfulness. There are certain parts of the Christian character that come of culture, and must be watered with tears and prayer. But let me assure you, not as a matter of theory, but as a matter which I have seen for thirty years, that a man's character may be totally changed in less time than it takes me to tell you of it. There is such power in the name of Christ that, if that name be preached and the Spirit of God applies it, men can be turned right round. There can be a total reversal of all their conduct, and, what is more than that, of all their inclinations, and desires and wishes, and delights and hates; for God can take away the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh. The child of darkness can be translated into the kingdom of light. The dead heart can be quickened into a spiritual existence, and that in a single moment, by faith in Jesus Christ. When that poor epileptic child was healed, it is said that the people were amazed. But how much greater will be our amazement if we see the Lord Jesus work such a miracle upon you, have struggled to get better, you have prayed to get better, and all seems to be unavailing. Now, just trust Christ, the blessed Son of God who reigns in heaven, who died for sinners, and now lives for sinners. Only trust him, and this blessed deed is done, you become a new creature in Christ Jesus, and commence a holy life, which shall never end. This wonder can be performed now. This cure was perfected at once, and it remained with the youth. The most charming point about it was that the Lord Jesus said, "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him." Enter no more into him there is the glory of it! Though the epileptic fit was ended, yet the young man would not have been cured if the devil had returned to take possession of him again, The Savior's cures endure the test of years. "Enter no more into him" preserved the young man by a life-long word of power. I never dare to preach to anybody a temporary salvation. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," not for to night merely, but for ever. When God saves a man he is saved: not for weeks and years, but eternally. If Christ turns the devil out of him he shall enter into that man no more for ever. Now, this is a salvation that is worth your having, and worth my preaching. A temporary, I had almost said, a trumpery salvation, that saves a man for a few months and then lets him perish, is not worth preaching or having; but that which so makes a man new as to put into him "a well of water springing up into everlasting life" that is worth worlds. I will tell you a story of Christmas Evans which I like to tell on this point. Christmas Evans was once describing the prodigal's coming back to his father's house, and he said that when the prodigal sat at the father's table his father put upon his plate all the daintiest bits of meat that he could find; but the son sat there and did not eat, and every now and then the tears began to flow. His father turned to him and said, "My dear son, why are you unhappy? You spoil the feasting. Do you not know that I love you? Have I not joyfully received you?" "Yes," he said, "dear father, you are very kind, but have you really forgiven me? Have you forgiven me altogether, so that you will never be angry with me for all I have done?" His father looked on him with ineffable love and said, "I have blotted out thy sins and thy iniquities, and will remember them no more for ever. Eat, my dear son." The father turned round and waited on the guests, but by-and-by his eyes were on his boy, they could not be long removed. There was the son weeping again, but not eating. "Come, dear child," said his father, "come, why are you still mourning? What is it that you want?" Bursting into a flood of tears a second time, the son said, "Father, am I always to stop here? Will you never turn me out of doors?" The father replied, "No, my child, thou shalt go no more out for ever, for a son abides for ever." Still the son did not enjoy the banquet; there was still something rankling within, and again he wept. Then his father said, "Now, tell me, tell me, my dear son, all that is in thy heart. What do you desire more?" The son answered, "Father, will you make me stop here? Father, I am afraid lest, if I were left to myself, I might play the prodigal again. Oh, constrain me to stay here for ever!" The father said, "I will put my fear in thy heart, and thou shalt not depart from me." "Ah! then," the son replied, "it is enough," and merrily he feasted with the rest. So I preach to you just this that the great Father when he takes you to himself will never let you go away from him again. Whatever your condition, if you trust your soul to Jesus, you shall be saved, and saved forever.
"Once in Christ, in Christ for ever: Nothing from his love can sever."
"But what if we fall into great sin?" says one. You shall not abide in great sin. You shall be kept and preserved by that same power which has begun the good work, for it will surely carry it on even to the end. Just two or three sentences and I have finished. I have been speaking about the devil throwing some down and tearing them when they are coming to Christ. Are there any of you who do not know anything about it? Well, I am glad that you do not. If you come to Christ without being thrown down and torn I am glad of it. I have endeavored to help those that are terribly tormented; but if you are not so tried, do not wish to be. There were here this morning two or three of the good fish-people from Newhaven, and when I saw them in their picturesque costumes they reminded me of a story that I heard about an old fishwife who used to live near Edinburgh. A young man visited her, and began speaking to her about her soul. She was going out, and she took up her great load of fish to carry on her back, much more than most men would like to carry. The young man said to her, "Well, you have got a great burden there, good woman. Did you ever feel a spiritual burden?" She put down her load and said, "You mean that harden which John Bunyan speaks about in the Pilgrim's Progress, do you not?" "Yes," he said. "Well," she said, "I felt that burden before you were born, and I got rid of it, too; but I did not go exactly the same way to work that John Bunyan's pilgrim did." Our young friend thought that she could not be up to the mark to talk so, for he fancied that John Bunyan could not make a mistake. "Well," she said, "John Bunyan says that Evangelist pointed the man with the burden on his back to the wicket-gate, and when he could not see the gate, Evangelist said, 'Do you see that light?' And he looked till he thought he saw something like it. 'You are to run that way the way of that light and that wicket gate.' Why, she said, "that was not the right direction to give a poor burdened soul. Much good he got out of it; for he had not gone far before he fell into the Slough of Despond, up to his neck in the mire, and had like to have been swallowed up. Evangelist ought to have said, 'Do you see that cross? Do not run an inch, but stand where you are, and look to that; and as you look your burden will be gone. I looked to the cross at once and lost my load. "What!" said the young man, "did you never go through the Slough of Despond?" "Yes," she said, "I have been through it far too many times; but let me tell you, young friend, that it is a deal easier to go through the Slough of Despond with your burden off than it is with your burden on." There is much blessed truth in this story. Do not any of you be saying to yourselves, "How I wish I could get into the Slough of Despond!" If you say that, you will get in, and then you will say, "How I wish I could get out of the Slough of Despond!" I have met with persons who fear that they never were saved because they have not experienced much terror. I meet with others who say that they cannot be saved because they experience too much terror. There is no pleasing people. Oh that they would look to Jesus whether or no! After I was preaching Jesus Christ from this platform once, there came a man into the vestry who said to me," Blessed be God that I entered this Tabernacle. I come from Canada, sir. My father, before he found true religion had to be locked up in a lunatic asylum, and I always thought that I must undergo a similar terror before I could be saved." I said, "No, no, my dear friend, you are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and if you do that, despond or not despond, you are a saved man." This gospel I preach to you. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Trust him quietly, humbly, simply, immediately. Trust him to make you a holy man to deliver you from the power of the devil and the power of sin, and he will do it: I will be bound for him that he will keep his word. Jesus is truth itself, and never breaks his word. He never boasts that he can do what he cannot do. He has gone into heaven, and he is therefore "able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Only trust him. Trust him to overcome the evil you have to fight with. You will conquer it, man, if you will only trust Jesus. Woman, there is hope for you if you will trust the wounded, bleeding, dying, risen, living Savior. He will battle for you, and you shall get the victory. God bless you, everyone, and may we all meet in heaven to praise the Son of God forever and ever.
The Broken Column
August 4th, 1861 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee: but ." Luke 9:61 .
When you have walked through a cemetery, you have frequently seen over a grave a broken column, intended to memorialize the death of some one who was taken away in the prime of manhood, before as yet his life had come to its climax. I shall take that picture of the broken column to represent my text. It is a broken text. You expected me to go on and to conclude the sentence: I have broken it off abruptly. That broken column shall also represent the broken resolutions of full many who were once in a hopeful state. As if prepared to witness a good profession, they said, "Lord, I will follow thee," when there came a heavy blow from the withering hand of sin; and the column was broken short with a "but." So let my text stand. I will not finish it. But so let not your determination stand. The Lord grant by his effectual grace that while you mourn with sincere grief the grave of many a fair resolve which never attained the maturity of true discipleship cut off with the fatal "but" of indecision, you may now be quickened to newness of life. Thus you shall come to the fullness of the stature of a man in Christ. Thus, as a building fitly framed together and growing to completeness, you shall be made meet for a habitation of God through the Spirit. "Lord, I will follow thee: but ." How remarkably does Scripture prove to us that the mental characteristics of mankind are the same now as in the Savior's day! We occasionally hear stories of old skeletons being dug up which are greater in stature than men of these times. Some credit the story, some do not, for there be many who maintain that the physical conformation of man is at this day just what it always was. Certainly, however, there can be no dispute whatever among observant men as to the identity of the inner nature of man. The gospel of Christ may well be an unchanging gospel, for it is a remedy which has to deal with an unaltering disease. The very same objections which were made to Christ in the days of his flesh are made to his gospel now. The same effects are produced under the ministry of Christ's servants in these modern times as were produced by his own ministry. Still are the promised hopes which make glad the preacher's heart, blasted and withered by the same blights and the same mildews which of old withered and blasted the prospects of the ministry during our Lord's own personal sojourn in the world. Oh! what hundreds, nay, what myriads of persons have we whose consciences are aroused, whose judgments are a little enlightened, and yet they vacillate they live and die unchanged. Like Reuben, "unstable as water, they do not excel." They would follow Christ, but something lies in the way: they would join with him in this generation, but some difficulty suggests itself: they would enter the kingdom of heaven, but there is a lion in the street. They lie in the bed of the sluggard instead of rising up with vigor and striving to enter in at the strait gate. May the Holy Ghost in all the plenitude of his power be with us this morning, so that while I shall deal with the character indicated by the text, He may deal with the conscience of those assembled. I can merely attempt what He can effectually perform. I can but speak the words; it is for Him to draw the bow, fit the arrow to the string, and send it home between the joints of the harness. May some who have been in the state of those described by the text be brought to-day to solemn consideration, and to a serious decision through the Holy Spirit of God. Three things we would labor to do. First of all, let us endeavor to expose your excuses, "Lord, I will follow thee, but ." Secondly, I will try to expose the ignorance which lies at the bottom of the objection which you offer. Then, thirdly, in the most solemn manner, would I endeavor to bring before your mind's eye, O ye who vacillate like Felix, your sin and your danger, that your "buts" may now be put away that your profession may be made with unfaltering tongue that you may henceforth, in very deed, follow Christ whithersoever he goeth. I. First, then, TO EXPOSE YOUR OBJECTIONS. I cannot tell man by man, what may be the precise let that causes you to draw back, but perhaps, by giving a list, I may be directed to describe full many a case exactly, and with precision. Some there be who say, and seem very sincere in the utterance, "Lord, I would be a Christian, I would believe in thee, and take up thy cross and follow thee, but my calling prevents it. Such is my state of life that piety would be to me an impossibility. I must live, and I cannot live by godliness, therefore I am to be excused for the present from following Christ. My position is such in trade, that I am compelled by its practices to do many things which would be utterly inconsistent with the life of Christ in my soul. I know that I have been called to be where I am, but it is a position which renders my salvation hopeless; if I were anything but what I am, or anywhere but where I am, I might follow Christ, but under existing circumstances, it is far beyond my power." Let me answer that excuse of yours, and show how idle it is. Man! would you make God the author of sin? And yet if you are prepared to say that God has put you in the calling where you are, and that that calling absolutely necessitates sin, do you not perceive that you make the sin to be rather God's than yours? Are you prepared to be so blasphemous as that? Will you bring the tricks of your trade, your dishonesties, and your sins, and say, "Great God, thou hast compelled me to do this? "Oh! methinks you cannot have so hardened your brow until it has become like flint. Surely you have some conscience of rectitude left, and if you have, your conscience will respond to me when I say you know you are speaking that which is false. God has not put you where you are compelled to sin, and if you have put yourself there, what ought you to do but to leave that place at once. Surely the necessity to sin, if it arise from your own choice, doth but render your sin the more exceeding sinful. "But," you reply, "I will confess, then, that I have put myself there by choice." Then I say again, if you have chosen so ill a trade that you cannot live by it honestly, in the fear of God, and in obedience to his precepts, you have made an ill and wicked choice; at all hazards for the salvation of your soul rests on it give it up, though it be the renouncing of every worldly prospect. Though wealth be all but in your grasp, unless you would grasp damnation and inherit everlasting wrath, you must renounce it, and renounce it now. Scarcely, however, can I credit that such is the fact, for in all callings, except they be in themselves positively unlawful, a man may serve God. Perhaps the most difficult post for a Christian to occupy is the army, and yet have we not seen, and do we not see at this day men of high and exemplary piety, men of undoubted and pre-eminent godliness, who are still in the ranks and are soldiers of Christ? With the example of Colonel Gardner in years gone by, of Hedley Vicars, and Havelock in these modern times, I will not, I dare not take your excuse, nor do I think your conscience would permit it, but if, while the temptations are strong, and your strength is small, you really think that there you cannot serve God, then resign your commission, give it up; it were better for you to enter into life poor and penniless, and without fame or honor, than having glory, and pomp, and wealth, to enter into hell fire. After all, to come nearer to the point, is it your occupation at all? Is it true? Is it not your sin that has made your "but," and not your calling? Be honest with yourself, sir, I pray you. You say that your calling throws temptations in your way: be it so? Do not other men avoid the temptations, and because they hate sin, being taught of God the Holy Spirit, are they not able, even in the midst of temptation, to keep themselves unspotted from the world? It is, then, in your case not necessity, but wilfulness, that makes you continue impious and impenitent. Put the saddle on the right horse; put it not where it should not be, take it home to yourself. There is no objection in the calling, unless, again I repeat it, it be an objectionable calling; the root and real cause of your hardness of heart against Christ is in yourself and yourself alone. You are willingly in love with sin, it is not in your calling in providence. "Yes, but," saith another, "if it be not in our calling, yet in my case it is my peculiar position in providence. It is all very well for the minister, who has not to mingle with daily life, but can come up into his pulpit and pray and preach, to make little excuse for men; but I tell you, sir, if you knew how I was situated, you would say that I am quite excusable in postponing the thoughts of God and of eternity. You do not know what it is to have an ungodly husband, or to live in a family where you cannot carry out your convictions without meeting with persecution so ferocious and so incessant, that flesh; and blood cannot endure it." "Besides," says another, "I am just now in such a peculiar crisis, it may be I have got into it by my sin, but I feel I cannot get out of it without sin. If I were once out of it, and could start again, and stand upon a new footing, then I might follow Christ, but at the present time there are such things in the house where I live, such circumstances in my business, there are such peculiar trials in my family, that I think I am justified in saying, 'Go thy way this time, when I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.'" Ah! but, my friend, is this the truth? Let me put it to you in other words than you have stated it. You say, if you follow Christ you will be persecuted. And does not the Word of God tell you the same? And is it not expressly said, "He that taketh not up his cross and followeth not after me cannot be my disciple?" Did not the apostle say, "He that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution?" What! is nature to be changed for you? Must the apostles and the martyrs endure and suffer great things, and are the little trials that you have to bear to be valid excuses for you? No, by that host who waded through slaughter to a throne the slaughter of themselves, no, by the men who wear the crowns which they have won on racks and stakes I pray you do not think that this shall be any excuse for you at God's great day. Or if you think that it be an excuse that is valid for you now, remember, if you reject Christ you reject the crown. If you cannot bear the reproach of Christ, neither shall you have Christ's riches. If you will not suffer with him, neither shall you reign with him. You say that your circumstances compel you to sin, or else you would get into a world of trouble. And what do you mean by this, but that you prefer your own case to the Master's service? You have made this your God. Your own emoluments, your own aggrandizement, your own rest and luxury, you have set these up in preference to the command of the God that made you. O sir, do but see the thing in its true light! You have put yourself where the Israelites put the golden calf, and you have bowed down and you have said, "These be thy gods, O Israel!" To these you have offered your peace offerings. Oh, be not deceived! "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "He that would save his life shall lose it, but he that will lose his life for Christ's sake shall save it." Away, then, with these excuses about your circumstances; it is an idle one, and will not endure the light of the day of judgment. "Yes," says another, "I would follow Christ; I have often felt inclinations to do so; and I have had some longings after better things: but the way of Christ is too rough for me. It demands that I should give up pleasures which I really love. I know if I should promise to give them up, I should go back to them very soon. I have tried, but they are too much for me. I did not think at one time that I was so thoroughly chained to them. But, when I tried to break away, I found the chains were not as I thought they were of silk, but of iron, of triple steel. I cannot, sir, I tell you plainly, I cannot. If to be saved requires me to give up my worldly amusements, I cannot do it." Well, sir, I reply, you have spoken with the candour of an honest man. But, will you please to understand the bargain a little more clearly. Remember, soul, when you say, "I cannot give up the world" you have said, "I cannot be saved, I cannot escape from hell, I cannot be a partaker of the glories of heaven." You have preferred the dance to the entertainment of glory; you have preferred the revelling merriments at midnight to the eternal splendours of the throne of God. You have in cool blood now mark it, you have in cool blood, determined to sell your soul for a few hours of giddiness, a little season of mirth. Look it in the face, and God help you to understand what you have done. If Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, what have you done? Lift up your eyes to heaven, behold the golden harps, and listen to the harmony of the glorious song, and then say, "But I prefer thy music, O earth, to this." Look yonder to the golden streets, and the joy and the bliss which await the true believer, and then coolly write it down, and say, "I have chosen the casino, I have preferred the house of sin to this." Look up and behold the draughts of joy that await believers, and then go to the tavern and sit down in the tap room, and say, "I have preferred the enjoyments of intoxication to the mirth of eternity." Come, I say sir, do look it in the face, for this is what you have done, and if, after weighing the two things in the scales together, you find that the momentary enjoyments of the flesh are to be preferred to the eternal weight of glory which God hath reserved for them that love him, then choose them. But if it be nothing in comparison with eternity; if the flesh be but dross in comparison with the spirit, if this world be emptiness when compared with the world to come, then reverse your foolish decision. May God the Holy Ghost make you wise. The only wise God choose your inheritance for you. "Oh," says another, "but it is not exactly my pleasures; for I have found no pleasure in sin. It is some time since iniquity ministered pleasure to me; I have drunk the top of the cup. The froth I have already daintily sipped, but now I have come to the dregs." I know I am speaking to some men to-day, in this very state. "I have jaded myself," says such-an-one "in the race of pleasure; I have exhausted my powers of enjoyment, and yet though the wine yields no lusciousness to my taste, I drink, for I cannot help it; and though lust affords me no longer any exquisite delight, still impelled as by some secret force, I am driven to it. From old habit it has become a second nature with me, and I cannot, I have tried, I have tried awfully and solemnly, I cannot I cannot break it off. I am like a man whose boat is taken up by the rapids. I have pulled against the stream with both my arms, till the veins start like whip-cords to my brow, and the blood starts from my nose in agony of vigor, and yet I cannot reverse the stream; nor can I set my boat's head against it. I can see the precipice; I can hear the roaring of the dashing water as it leaps the cascade, and I am speeding on swifter, and swifter, and swifter, till my very blood boils with the tremendous vehemence of my crimes; I am speeding onward to my merited damnation." Ah, man! yours is a solemn "BUT" indeed. If I thought you meant it all, I would rather speak to you words of encouragement than of warning. For remember this, when you are ready to perish God is ready to save. And when our power is gone, then the plaintive cry, "Lord, save, or I perish," wrung from a despairing heart, shall reach the ears of the Most High, and he that delighteth in mercy shall stretch out his arm to save. There is hope, there in hope for thee yet. What! is the boat's bow already out of the water, and does she seem to leap like a live thing into the midst of the spray? O Eternal God, thou canst save him yet. Thou canst come from above, and take him out of the deep waters, and pluck him out of the billows that are stronger than he. Yet say now, is this just as you have described it? I fear lest perhaps you make "cannot" only a substitute for "will not." Do you not love those ways of the transgressor? Can you honestly say you loathe them? I do not believe you can. Remember the dreadful alternative. When you say I cannot renounce these things, and will not look to God to enable you to do it; you have said, "I cannot escape from the flames of hell; I cannot be rescued from the wrath to come; I am damned." You have, in fact, forestalled your own doom. That awful sentence you have pronounced upon yourself. You have sat in judgment on your own soul, put on the black cap, and read out your own sentence; you have put yourself upon the death-cart; you have adjusted the rope about your own neck, and you are about to draw the bolt and be your own executioner. Oh! weigh your words, and measure your acts, and wake up to a consciousness of what you are about. Do not take the leap in the dark. Look down the chasm first, and gaze a moment at the jagged rocks beneath which soon you must lie a mangled corpse. Now, ere you drink the cup, know the poison that is in the button of it; make sure of what you are doing, and if you are determined that you will clasp your sins with the spasmodic and terrific grasp of a dying, drowning man. Then grasp thy sins and lose thy soul; then keep thy sins, and be thou damned! Hold fast to thine iniquities, and be dashed for ever from the presence of the Eternal One. If it be horrible to hear, how much more horrible to do. If it be dreadful to speak, how much more solemn to perform in cold blood that which our lips have spoken. "But," saith another, "that is not my case. I can say I will follow Christ, but I am of such a volatile, changeable disposition that I do not think I ever shall fulfill my purpose. When I heard you preach a few sabbaths ago, sir, I went home to my chamber, and I shut the door and I prayed. But, you know, some acquaintance called in; he took me away, and soon every good thought was gone. Often have I sat shivering in the pew while the Word of God has been quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of my joints and marrow, being a discerner of the thoughts and intents of my heart, but the world comes in again; so that I seem sometimes as if I were almost a saint, and then again, the next day I am almost a fiend. Sometimes I think I could do anything for Christ, and the next day I do everything for the world. I promise but I do not perform; I vow and break my vows; I am like the smoke from the chimney soon blown away and my good resolutions are like a morning cloud, they are there but for the morning, and soon they are gone." Well, certainly you have described a case which is too frequent. But will you allow me to put that also in a true and scriptural light? Soul, dost thou know thou hast played with heaven? Thou hast made game of eternity, thou art like those men in the parable of whom it is said "they made light of it." Thou hast thought that the things of this world are more engrossing, to thee than the things of the world to come. Thou art perhaps less excusable then any other, for thou knowest the right and doest it not, thou seest thy sin, and yet thou clingest to it; thou perceivest thy ruin, and yet thou goest onwards towards it; thou hast had wooings of love, thou hast had warnings of mercy, and yet thou hast shaken all these off. Oh remember that text, "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." "Because I have called," saith God, "and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh." You may perhaps soon be given up to a seared conscience. The Word may be powerless upon you. You may become hardened and desperate, and then, ah! then, not the devils in hell are in a more hopeless condition than thou shalt be. I have thus gone through the most prominent excuses which men make for scattering from themselves those good thoughts which sometimes seek to get possession of their hearts. "I will follow thee Lord, but ." I cannot of course point out the distinct persons in this large assembly who are in this condition. That there are such is certain. I pray God the Holy Spirit to find them out, and make them judge themselves that they be not judged. II. I shall now come to the second part of my discourse. May the Lord be our helper. Soul, thou who sayest, "I will follow Christ, but ," I now come to EXPOSE THINE IGNORANCE AND THE ILL STATE OF THY HEART. Soul! thou hast as yet no true idea of what sin is. God the Holy Spirit has never opened thine eyes to see what an evil and bitter thing it is to sin against God, or else there would be no "buts." Picture a man who has lost his way, who has sunk into a slough; the waters and the mire are come up to his very throat. He is about to sink in it, when some bright spirit comes, stepping over the treacherous bog, and puts forth to him his hand. That man, if he knows where he is, if he knows his uncomfortable and desperate state, will put out his hand at once. You will not find him hesitating with "buts," and "of," and "peradventures." He feels that he is plunged into the ditch, and would come out of it. And you apparently are still in the wilderness of your natural state. You have not yet discovered what a fool might see, though a wayfaring man, that sin is a tremendous evil, that thy sin is all destructive, and will yet swallow thee up quick and utterly destroy thy soul. I know that when God the Holy Spirit tell me to see the blackness of sin, I did not need any very great pressing to be willing to be washed. My only question was, "Would Christ wash me?" Ask any poor penitent sinner that knows what the burden of sin is, whether he will have it taken off his shoulders, and he will not say, "I would have it taken off; but ." No, he will need but the very mention of the removal of his load; "Lord," saith he, "do but take it away from me: do but take it away, and I am well content." Again: soul, it seems plain to me that thou hast never yet been taught by the Holy Spirit what is thy state of comdemnation. Thou hast never yet learnt that the wrath of God abideth on thee. So long as thou art out of Christ, thou art under a curse. If that word "condemnation" had once been rung in thine ears, thou wouldst have no ifs and buts. When a man's house is on fire, and he stands at the window, and the fire escape is there and his hair begins to be crisp with the hot tongues of fire that scorch his cheeks, he has no "buts" about it, but down the escape he goes at once. When Lot began to see the fiery shower coming down from heaven, he had no "buts" about making the best of his way out of the city and escaping to the mountains. And you, O may God the Holy Ghost show to you, sinner, where you are to-day! Oh that he would make you know that your sentence is pronounced, that God's messengers are out after you to take you to prison. Then you will leave off your "buts," your presences, and excuses, and you will say, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do? "And be it what it may, your soul will make no demurs about it. Surely, methinks you cannot have felt the danger you are in of daily destruction. If you have not felt that, I do not think the Spirit of God has ever come into your soul after a real and saving fashion. You have no proof that you are one of Christ unless you have felt the danger of your natural state. Do you see there? there is a scaffold raised; a man is brought out to execution, there is the block and here stands the headsman with his sharp gleaming axe, gleaming in the morning sun. The man has just laid his neck upon the block in the little hollow place shaped out for it; there he lies, and the headsman has just lifted up the axe to cleave his head from his body As that man lies there, if a messenger should come from the king and say, "Here is a pardon, will you accept it?" do you believe he would say, "I will accept it, but ? No, springing up from what he thought would be his last resting place, he would say, "I thank his majesty for his abundant grace, and cheerfully do I rejoice in accepting it." You cannot have known where you are, or else "but" would be impossible to you. Such is your state, remember, whether you know it or not: you put your neck upon the block of insensibility, but the axe of justice is ready to smite you down to hell. The Lord help you to see your state and put the "buts" away from you. It seems to me, too, that you are ignorant altogether of what the wrath of God must be in the world to come. Oh! could I take you to that place where hope has ever been a stranger: if you could put your ear a moment to the gratings of those gloomy dungeons of which despair is the horrid warder if I could make you listen to the sighs, the useless regrets, and the vain prayers of those who are cast away, you would come back affrighted and alarmed, and sure I am your "buts" would have been driven out of you. You would say, "Great God, if thou wilt but save me from thy wrath, do what thou wilt with me, I will make no conditions, I will offer thee no objections; if I must cut off my right arm, or pluck out my right eye, he it so, if from this place of woe thou wilt but save me. Oh! from this fire that never can he quenched, from this worm of endless folds which can never die, great God deliver me. If rough be the means, and unpleasant to the flesh, yet grant me but this one request, save me, O God, save me from going down into the pit. "If a soul were just sinking to hell, and God could send some bright angel to pluck it from the flames just as it entered there, can you imagine its being so mad as to say, "I would be plucked as a brand from the burning, but ?" No, no. Glad to embrace the messenger of mercy, it would rejoice to fly from hell to heaven. Again, sinner, it seems clear to me, inasmuch as you say, "but," that you can have no idea of the glory of the person of Christ. I see you sitting down in your misery, in the bare uncomfortable cottage of your natural estate: yourself naked and filthy, with your hair matted over your eyes. Behold a bright chariot stays at your door, the sound of music is heard, and the King himself, stepping down from the chariot of his glory comes in, and he says, "Sinner, poor, hopeless, weak, miserable, look unto me and be thou saved. The chariot of my mercy awaits thee, come thou with me, my chariot is paved with love for such as thou art. Come with me, and I will bear thee to my splendours away from thy degradation and thy woe." You sit there and you will not look at him, for if you did look, you must love him. You could not behold his face, you could not see the mercy that is written there, the pity that trembles in his eye, the power that is in his arm, but you would say at once, "Jesu, thou hast overcome my heart, thy gracious beauty is more than a match for me.
"Dissolv'd by thy goodness I fall to the ground, And weep to the praise of the mercy I've found."
What shall I say more? Yet this once again I will admonish thee. O thou procrastinating, objecting sinner, thou hast never known what heaven is, or else thou wouldst never have a "but." If you and I could peep but for an instant within the pearly gates; could you listen to that seraphic song; could you behold the joy which flows and overflows the bosoms of the blessed; could you but spell heaven, not in letters but in feelings; could you wear its crown a moment, or be girt about with its pure white garments, you would say, "If I must go through hell to reach heaven, I would cheerfully do it. What are ye, riches? ye are bubbles. What are ye, pomps? ye are drivelling emptinesses. What are ye, pleasures? ye are mocking, painted witcheries. What are ye, pains? ye are joys. What all be ye, sorrows? ye are but bliss. What are ye, tribulations? ye are lighter than feathers when I compare ye with this exceeding and eternal weight of glory. If we could have but a glimpse of heaven, but a shadow of an idea of what is the eternal rest of God's people, we should be prepared to endure all things, to give up all things, to bear all things, if we might but be partakers of the promised reward. Your "buts" betray your ignorance; your ignorance of self, ignorance of sin, ignorance of condemnation, ignorance of the punishment, ignorance of the Savior's person, and ignorance of the heaven to which he promises to being his people. III. Now, I have my last work to do, and that would I do briefly. Oh, may strength superior to mine come now, and tug, and strive, and wrestle with your hearts! May the Spirit of God apply the words which I shall now use! "Lord, I will follow thee: but ." Sinner, sinner, let me SHOW THEE THY SIN. When thou saidst, "But," thou didst contradict thyself. The meaning of that rightly read is this, "Lord, I will not follow thee." That "but" of thine puts the negative on all the profession that went before it. I wish, my hearers, that this morning you would either be led by grace to say, "I will believe, "or else were permitted honestly to see the depravity and desperate hardness of your own hearts so as to say, "I will not believe in Christ. "It is because so many of you are neither this nor that, but halting between two opinions, that you are the hardest characters to deal with. Sinners who reject Christ altogether wilfully are like flints. When the hammer of the Word comes against them, the flint gives forth the precious spark, and flies to atoms. But you are like a mass of wax moulded one day into one shape, and moulded the next day into another. I know a gentleman of considerable position in the world, who, after having been with me some little time, said, "Now that man is going away, and I shall be just what I was before;" for he had wept under the Word. He compared himself, he said, to a gutta-percha doll; he had got out of his old shape for a little while, but he would go back to what he was before. And how many there are of you of this kind. You will not say, "I will not have Christ," you will not say, "I will not think of these things." You dare not say, "I disbelieve the Bible," or, "I think there is no God, and no hereafter," but you say, "No doubt it is true, I'll think of it by-and-bye." You never will, sinner, you never will, you will go on from day to day, harping that till your last day shall come, and you will be found then where you are now, unless sovereign grace prevent. I could have more hope for you if you would say at once, "I love not God, I love not Christ, I fear him not, I desire not his salvation," for then methinks you would get an idea of what you are, and God the Spirit might bless it to you. Let me show you again your sin in another respect. How great has been your pride! When Christ bids you believe on him, take up his cross and follow him, he tells you to do the best thing you can do, and then you set up your judgment in contradiction to him. You say, "But." What! is Christ to mend his gospel by your whims? What! is the plan of salvation to be cut and shaped to suit you? Does not Christ know what is best for you, better than you do yourself? "Will you snatch from his hand the balance and the rod, rejudge his judgement, dictate to God, the Judge of all the earth? And yet this is what you attempt to do. You set up your throne in rivalry to the throne of grace, and insist upon it that there is more wisdom in being a sinner than in being a believer, that there is more happiness to be found apart from God than there is with him, which is to make God a hard Master, if not indeed to call him a liar to his face. Oh! you know not what is the quintessence of iniquity which lies within those words so easily spoken, but which will be so hard to get rid of on a dying bed "I will follow thee, but " I close when I have just, in a moment or so only, described your danger. Soul, thou art quieting thyself and saying, "Ah! it will be well with me at the last; for I intend to be better by-and-bye." Soul, soul, bethink thee how many have died while they have been speaking like that. There were put into the grave, during the past week, hundreds of persons, no doubt, who were utterly careless, but there were also scores who were not careless, and who had often been impressed, and yet they said "But, but, but," and promised better things, but death came in and their better things came not. And then, remember how many have been damned while they have been saying "But." They said they would repent, meanwhile they died. They said they would believe, meanwhile in hell they lifted up their eyes being in torments. They meant they said, but inasmuch as they did it not they came where their resolutions would be changed into remorse, and their fancied hopes turned into real despair. On such a subject as this I could wish Baxter were the preacher, and that I were the hearer. As I look around you, though there be full many who can read their title clear to mansions in the skies, yet along these pews what a considerable proportion there is of my hearers who are only deceiving their own selves! Well, sinners, I will make the road to hell as hard for you as I can. If you will be lost, I will put up many a chain and many a bar, and shut many a gate across your way. If you will listen to my voice, God helping me, you shall find it a hard way that way of transgressors; you shall find it a hard thing to run counter to the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. But why will ye die, O house of Israel, why will ye die? Where is your reason fled? Have beasts become men and men become beasts? "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib," but ye know not. What! are you become like the silly sheep that goes willingly to his slaughter? Are the swallows and cranes more wise than you? for they know the senses and they judge the times, but you know not that your summer is almost over, that your leaves are falling in the autumn of your life, and that your dreary winter of despair and of hopelessness is drawing nigh. Souls, are these things fancies? If so, sleep while I preach of them. Are they dreams? Do I bring out these doctrines but as bugbears to alarm you as if you were some children in a nursery? No, but as God is true, are not these the most solemn realities that ever rested on the lip of man or moved the heart of hearer? Then why is it, why is it, why is it that you make light of these things still? Why is it that you will go your way to-day as you did before? Why will ye say, "Well, the preacher has warned me faithfully, and I will think of it, but ; I was invited and I will consider, but ; I did hear the warning, but ?" Ah, souls, while you shall be saying "But," there shall be another "But" go forth, and that shall be "But cut him down, why cumbereth he the ground?" Wake, vengeance, wake! The sinner sleeps. Pluck out thy sword, O Justice! let it not rest in its scabbard, come forth! Nay, nay, oh! come not forth devouring sword! oh, come not forth! O Justice, be thou still! O Vengeance, put away thy sword, and Mercy, reign thou still! "Today if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts as in the provocation," but if ye harden your hearts, remember he will swear in his wrath that ye shall not enter into his rest. Oh! Spirit of God, do thou the sinner turn, for without thee he will not turn; our voice shall miss its end, and he will not come to Christ.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Luke 9". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Seventh Sunday after Easter