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Verse 15

Faith and Repentance


July 13th, 1862




"Repent ye, and believe the gospel."--Mark 1:15

Our Lord Jesus Christ commences his ministry by announcing its

leading commands. He cometh up from the wilderness newly anointed,

like the bridegroom from his chamber; his love notes are repentance

and faith. He cometh forth fully prepared for his office, having been in

the desert, "tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin"; his loins

are girded like a strong man to run a race. He preacheth with all the

earnestness of a new zeal, combined with all the wisdom of a long

preparation; in the beauty of holiness from the womb of morning he

glittereth with the dew of his youth. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O

earth, for Messias speaketh in the greatness of his strength. He crieth

unto the sons of men, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." Let us give

our ears to these words which, like their author, are full of grace and

truth. Before us we have the sum and substance of Jesus Christ's whole

teaching--the Alpha and Omega of his entire ministry; and coming

from the lips of such an one, at such a time, with such peculiar power,

let us give the most earnest heed, and may God help us to obey them

from our inmost hearts.

I. I shall commence my remarking that the gospel which Christ

preached was, very plainly, a command. "Repent ye, and believe the

gospel." Our Lord does condescend to reason. Often his ministry

graciously acted out the old text, "Come, now, and let us reason

together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool." He

does persuade men by telling and forcible arguments, which should

lead them to seek the salvation of their souls. He does invite men, and

oh, how lovingly he woos them to be wise. "Come unto me all ye that

labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He does entreat

men; he condescendeth to become, as it were, a beggar to his own

sinful creatures, beseeching them to come to him. Indeed, he maketh

this to be the duty of his ministers, "As though God did beseech you by

us, we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Yet,

remember, though he condescendeth to reason, to persuade, to invite,

and to beseech, still his gospel hath in it all the dignity and force of a

command; and if we would preach it in these days as Christ did, we

must proclaim it as a command from God, attended with a divine

sanction, and not to be neglected save at the infinite peril of the soul.

When the feast was spread upon the table for the marriage-supper,

there was an invitation, but it had all the obligation of a command,

since those who rejected it were utterly destroyed as despisers of their

king. When the builders reject Christ, he becomes a stone of stumbling

to "the disobedient"; but how could they disobey if there were no

command? The gospel contemplates, I say, invitations, entreaties, and

beseechings, but it also takes the higher ground of authority. "Repent

ye" is as much a command of God as "Thou shalt not steal." "Believe

on the Lord Jesus Christ" has as fully a divine authority as "Thou shalt

love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy

strength." Think not, O men, that the gospel is a thing left to your

option to choose it or not! Dream not, O sinners, that ye may despise

the Word from heaven and incur no guilt! Think not that ye may

neglect it and no ill consequences shall follow! It is just this neglect

and despising of yours which shall fill up the measure of your iniquity.

It is this concerning which we cry aloud, "How shall we escape if we

neglect so great a salvation!" God commands you to repent. The same

God before whom Sinai was moved and was altogether on a smoke--

that same God who proclaimed the law with sound of trumpet, with

lightnings and with thunders, speaketh to us more gently, but still as

divinely, through his only begotten Son, when he saith to us, "Repent

ye, and believe the gospel."

Why is this, dear friends; why has the Lord made it a command to us

to believe in Christ? There is a blessed reason. Many souls would

never venture to believe at all if it were not made penal to refuse to do

so. For this is the difficulty with many awakened sinners: may I

believe? Have I a right to believe? Am I permitted to trust Christ? Now

this question is put aside, once for all, and should never irritate a

broken heart again. You are commanded by God to do it, therefore you

may do it. Every creature under heaven is commanded to believe in the

Lord Jesus, and bow the knee at his name; every creature, wherever

the gospel comes, wherever the truth is preached, is commanded there

and then to believe the gospel; and it is put in that shape, I say, least

any conscience-stricken sinner should question whether he may do it.

Surely, you may do what God commands you to do. You may know

this in the devil's teeth--"I may do it; I am bidden to do it by him who

hath authority, and I am threatened if I do not with eternal damnation

from his presence, for 'he that believeth not shall be damned.'" This

gives the sinner such a blessed permit, that whatever he may be or may

not be, whatever he may have felt or may not have felt, he has a

warrant which he may use whenever he is led to approach the cross.

However benighted and darkened you may be, however hard-hearted

and callous you may be, you have still a warrant to look to Jesus in the

words, "Look unto me and be ye saved all ye ends of the earth." He

that commanded thee to believe will justify thee in believing; he

cannot condemn thee for that which he himself bids thee do. But while

there is this blessed reason for the gospel's being a command, there is

yet another solemn and an awful one. It is that men may be without

excuse in the day of judgment; that no man may say at the last, "Lord,

I did not know that I might believe in Christ; Lord, heaven's gate was

shut in my face; I was told that I might not come, that I was not the

man." "Nay," saith the Lord, with tones of thunder, "the times of

man's ignorance I winked at, but in the gospel I commanded all men

everywhere to repent; I sent my Son, and then I sent my apostles, and

afterwards my ministers, and I bade them all make this the burden of

their cry, 'Repent and be converted everyone of you'; and as Peter

preached at Pentecost, so bade I them preach to thee. I bade them

warn, exhort, and invite with all affection, but also to command with

all authority, compelling you to come in, and inasmuch as you did not

come at my command, you have added sin to sin; you have added the

suicide of your own soul to all your other iniquities; and now,

inasmuch as you did reject my Son, you shall have the portion of

unbelievers, for 'he that believeth not shall be damned.'" To all the

nations of the earth, then, let us sound forth this decree from God. O

men, Jehovah that made you, he who gives you the breath of your

nostrils, he against whom you have offended, commands you this day

to repent and believe the gospel. He gives his promise--"He that

believeth and is baptized shall be saved"; and he adds the solemn

threatening--"He that believeth not shall be damned." I know some

brethren will not like this, but that I cannot help. The slave of systems

I will never be, for the Lord has loosed this iron bondage from my

neck, and now I am the joyful servant of the truth which maketh free.

Offend or please, as God shall help me, I will preach every truth as I

learn it from the Word; and I know if there be anything written in the

Bible at all it is written as with a sunbeam, that God in Christ

commandeth men to repent, and believe the gospel. It is one of the

saddest proofs of man's utter depravity that he will not obey this

command, but that he will despise Christ, and so make his doom

worse than the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah. Without the

regenerating work of God the Holy Ghost, no man ever will be

obedient to this command, but still it must be published for a witness

against them if they reject it; and while publishing God's command

with all simplicity, we may expect that he will divinely enforce it in

the souls of those whom he has ordained unto eternal life.

II. While the gospel is a command, it is a two-fold command explaining

itself. "Repent ye, and believe the gospel."

I know some very excellent brethren--would God there were more like

them in zeal and love--who, in their zeal to preach up simple faith in

Christ have felt a little difficulty about the matter of repentance; and I

have known some of them who have tried to get over the difficulty by

softening down the apparent hardness of the word repentance, by

expounding it according to its more usual Greek equivalent, a word

which occurs in the original of my text, and signifies "to change one's

mind." Apparently they interpret repentance to be a somewhat slighter

thing than we usually conceive it to be, a mere change of mind, in fact.

Now, allow me to suggest to those dear brethren, that the Holy Ghost

never preaches repentance as a trifle; and the change of mind or

understanding of which the gospel speaks is a very deep and solemn

work, and must not on any account be depreciated. Moreover, there is

another word which is also used in the original Greek for repentance,

not so often I admit, but still is used, which signifies "an after-care," a

word which has in it something more of sorrow and anxiety, than that

which signifies changing one's mind. There must be sorrow for sin and

hatred of it in true repentance, or else I have read my Bible to little

purpose. In very truth, I think there is no necessity for any other

definition than that of the children's hymn--

"Repentance is to leave

The sins we loved before,

And show that we in earnest grieve,

By doing so no more."

To repent does mean a change of mind; but then it is a thorough

change of the understanding and all that is in the mind, so that it

includes an illumination, an illumination of the Holy Spirit; and I

think it includes a discovery of iniquity and a hatred of it, without

which there can hardly be a genuine repentance. We must not, I think,

undervalue repentance. It is a blessed grace of God the Holy Spirit,

and it is absolutely necessary unto salvation.

The command explains itself. We will take, first of all, repentance. It

is quite certain that whatever the repentance here mentioned may be, it

is a repentance perfectly consistent with faith; and therefore we get the

explanation of what repentance must be, from its being connected with

the next command, "Believe the gospel." Then, dear friends, we may

be sure that that unbelief which leads a man to think that his sin is too

great for Christ to pardon it, is not the repentance meant here. Many

who truly repent are tempted to believe that they are too great sinners

for Christ to pardon. That, however, is not part of their repentance; it

is a sin, a very great and grievous sin, for it is undervaluing the merit

of Christ's blood; it is a denial of the truthfulness of God's promise; it

is a detracting from the grace and favour of God who sent the gospel.

Such a persuasion you must labour to get rid of, for it came from

Satan, and not from the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Ghost never did

teach a man that his sins were too great to be forgiven, for that would

be to make God the Holy Spirit to teach a lie. If any of you have a

thought of that kind this morning, be rid of it; it cometh from the

powers of darkness, and not from the Holy Ghost; and if some of you

are troubled because you never were haunted by that fear, be glad

instead of being troubled. He can save you; be you as black as hell he

can save you; and it is a wicked falsehood, and a high insult against

the high majesty of divine love when you are tempted to believe that

you are past the mercy of God. That is not repentance, but a foul sin

against the infinite mercy of God.

Then, there is another spurious repentance which makes the sinner

dwell upon the consequences of his sin, rather than upon the sin itself,

and so keeps him from believing. I have known some sinners so

distressed with fears of hell, and thoughts of death and of eternal

judgment, that to use the words of one terrible preacher, "They have

been shaken over the mouth of hell by their collar," and have felt the

torments of the pit before they went thither. Dear friends, this is not

repentance. Many a man has felt all that and has yet been lost. Look at

many a dying man, tormented with remorse, who has had all its pangs

and convictions, and yet has gone down to the grave without Christ

and without hope. These things may come with repentance, but, they

are not an essential part of it. That which is called law-work, in which

the sinner is terrified with horrible thoughts that God's mercy is gone

for ever, may be permitted by God for some special purpose, but it is

not repentance; in fact, it may often be devilish rather than heavenly,

for, as John Bunyan tells us, Diabolus doth often beat the great hell-

drum in the ears of the men of Mansoul, to prevent their hearing the

sweet trumpet of the gospel which proclaimeth pardon to them. I tell

thee, sinner, any repentance that keeps thee from believing in Christ is

a repentance that needs to be repented of; any repentance that makes

thee think Christ will not save thee, goes beyond the truth and against

the truth, and the sooner thou are rid of it the better. God deliver thee

from it, for the repentance that will save thee is quite consistent with

faith in Christ.

There is, again, a false repentance which leads men to hardness of

heart and despair. We have known some seared as with a hot iron by

burning remorse. They have said, "I have done much evil; there is no

hope for me; I will not hear the Word any more." If they hear it it is

nothing to them, their hearts are hard as adamant. If they could once

get the thought that God would forgive them, their hearts would flow

in rivers of repentance; but no; they feel a kind of regret that they did

wrong, but yet they go on in it all the same, feeling that there is no

hope, and that they may as well continue to live as they were wont to

do, and get the pleasures of sin since they cannot, as they think, have

the pleasures of grace. Now, that is no repentance. It is a fire which

hardens, and not the Lord's fire which melts; it may be a hammer, but

it is a hammer used to knit the particles of your soul together, and not

to break the heart. If, dear friends, you have never been the subject of

these terrors do not desire them. Thank God if you have been brought

to Jesus any how, but long not for needless horrors. Jesus saves you,

not by what you feel, but by that finished work, that blood and

righteousness which God accepted on your behalf. Do remember that

no repentance is worth having which is not perfectly consistent with

faith in Christ. An old saint, on his sick-bed, once used this

remarkable expression; "Lord, sink me low as hell in repentance; but"-

-and here is the beauty of it--"lift me high as heaven in faith." Now,

the repentance that sinks a man low as hell is of no use except there is

faith also that lifts him as high as heaven, and the two are perfectly

consistent one with the other. A man may loathe and detest himself,

and all the while he may know that Christ is able to save, and has

saved him. In fact, this is how true Christians live; they repent as

bitterly as for sin as if they knew they should be damned for it; but

they rejoice as much in Christ as if sin were nothing at all. Oh, how

blessed it is to know where these two lines meet, the stripping of

repentance, and the clothing of faith! The repentance that ejects sin as

an evil tenant, and the faith which admits Christ to be the sole master

of the heart; the repentance which purges the soul from dead works,

and the faith that fills the soul with living works; the repentance which

pulls down, and the faith which builds up; the repentance that scatters

stones, and the faith which puts stones together; the repentance which

ordains a time to weep, and the faith that gives a time to dance-- these

two things together make up the work of grace within, whereby men's

souls are saved. Be it, then laid down as a great truth, most plainly

written in our text, that the repentance we ought to preach is one

connected with faith, and thus we may preach repentance and faith

together without any difficulty whatever.

Having shown you what this repentance is not, let us dwell for a

moment on what it is. The repentance which is here commanded is the

result of faith; it is born at the same time with faith--they are twins,

and to say which is the elder-born passes my knowledge. It is a great

mystery; faith is before repentance in some of its acts, and repentance

before faith in another view of it; the fact being that they come into the

soul together. Now, a repentance which makes me weep and abhor my

past life because of the love of Christ which has pardoned it, is the

right repentance. When I can say, "My sin is washed away by Jesu's

blood," and then repent because I so sinned as to make it necessary

that Christ should die--that dove-eyed repentance which looks at his

bleeding wounds, and feels that her heart must bleed because she

wounded Christ--that broken heart that breaks because Christ was

nailed to the cross for it--that is the repentance which bringeth us


Again, the repentance which makes us avoid present sin because of the

love of God who died for us, this also is saving repentance. If I avoid

sin to-day because I am afraid of being lost if I commit it, I have not

the repentance of a child of God; but when I avoid it and seek to lead a

holy life because Christ loved me and gave himself up for me, and

because I am not my own, but am bought with a price, this is the work

of the Spirit of God.

And again, that change of mind, that after-carefulness which leads me

to resolve that in future I will live like Jesus, and will not live unto the

lusts of the flesh, because he hath redeemed me, not with corruptible

things as silver and gold, but with his own precious blood--that is the

repentance which will save me, and the repentance he asks of me. O ye

nations of the earth, he asks not the repentance of Mount Sinai, while

ye do fear and shake because his lightnings are abroad; but he asks you

to weep and wail because of him; to look on him whom you have

pierced, and to mourn for him as a man mourneth for his only son; he

bids you remember that you nailed the Saviour to the tree, and asks

that this argument may make you hate the murderous sins which

fastened the Saviour there, and put the Lord of glory to an

ignominious and an accursed death. This is the only repentance we

have to preach; not law and terrors; not despair; not driving men to

self-murder--this is the terror of the world which worketh death; but

godly sorrow is a sorrow unto salvation though Jesus Christ our Lord.

This brings me to the second half of the command, which is, "Believe

the gospel." Faith means trust in Christ. Now, I must again remark

that some have preached this trust in Christ so well and so fully, that I

can admire their faithfulness and bless God for them; yet there is a

difficulty and a danger; it may be that in preaching simple trust in

Christ as being the way of salvation, that they omit to remind the

sinner that no faith can be genuine but such as is perfectly consistent

with repentance for past sin; for my text seems to me to put it thus: no

repentance is true but that which consorts with faith; no faith is true

but that which is linked with a hearty and sincere repentance on

account of past sin. So then, dear friends, those people who have a

faith which allows them to think lightly of past sin, have the faith of

devils, and not the faith of God's elect. Those who say, "Oh, as for the

past, that is nothing; Jesus Christ has washed all that away"; and can

talk about all the crimes of their youth, and the iniquitous of their riper

years, as if they were mere trifles, and never think of shedding a tear;

never feel their souls ready to burst because they should have been

such great offenders--such men who can trifle with the past, and even

fight their battles o'er again when their passions are too cold for new

rebellions--I say that such who think sin a trifle and have never

sorrowed on account of it, may know that their faith is not genuine.

Such men as have a faith which allows them to live carelessly in the

present who say, "Well, I am saved by a simple faith"; and then sit on

the ale-bench with the drunkard, or stand at the bar with the spirit-

drinker, or go into worldly company and enjoy the carnal pleasures

and the lusts of the flesh, such men are liars; they have not the faith

which will save the soul. They have a deceitful hypocrisy; they have

not the faith which will bring them to heaven.

And then, there be some other people who have a faith which leads

them to no hatred of sin. They do not look upon sin in others with any

kind of shame. It is true they would not do as others do, but then they

can laugh at what others commit. They take pleasure in the vices of

others; laugh at their profane jests, and smile at their loose speeches.

They do not flee from sin as from a serpent, nor detest it as the

murderer of their best friend. No, they dally with it; they make excuses

for it; they commit in private what in public they condemn. They call

grave offences slight faults and little defalcations; and in business they

wink at departures from uprightness, and consider them to be mere

matters of trade; the fact being that they have a faith which will sit

down arm-in-arm with sin, and eat and drink at the same table with

unrighteousness. Oh! if any of you have such a faith as this, I pray

God to turn it out bag and baggage. It is of no good to you; the sooner

you are cleaned out of it the better for you, for when this sandy

foundation shall all be washed away, perhaps you may then begin to

build upon the rock. My dear friends, I would be very faithful with

your souls, and would lay the lancet at each man's heart. What is your

repentance? Have you a repentance that leads you to look out of self to

Christ, and to Christ only? On the other hand, have you that faith

which leads you to true repentance; to hate the very thought of sin; so

that the dearest idol you have known, whatever it may be, you desire to

tear from its throne that you may worship Christ, and Christ only? Be

assured of this, that nothing short of this will be of any use to you at

the last. A repentance and a faith of any other sort may do to please

you now, as children are pleased with fancies; but when you get on a

death-bed, and see the reality of things, you will be compelled to say

that they are a falsehood and a refuge of lies. You will find that you

have been daubed with untempered mortar; that you have said, "Peace,

peace," to yourselves, when there was no peace. Again, I say, in the

words of Christ, "Repent and believe the gospel." Trust Christ to save

you, and lament that you need to be saved, and mourn because this

need of yours has put the Saviour to open shame, to frightful

sufferings, and to a terrible death.

III. But we must pass on to a third remark. These commands of Christ

are of the most reasonable character.

Is it an unreasonable thing to demand of a man that he should repent? You

have a person who has offended you; you are ready to forgive him; do you

think it is at all exacting or overbearing if you ask of him an apology; if

you merely ask him, as the very least thing he can do, to acknowledge that

he has done wrong? "No," say you, "I should think I showed my kindness

in accepting rather than any harshness in demanding an apology from

him." So God, against whom we have rebelled, who is our liege sovereign

and monarch, seeth it to be inconsistent with the dignity of his kingship to

absolve an offender who expresseth no contrition; and I say again, is this a

harsh, exacting, unreasonable command? Doth God in this mode act like

Solomon, who made the taxes of his people heavy? Rather doth he not ask

of you that which your heart, if it were in a right state, would be but too

willing to give, only too thankful that the Lord in his grace has said, "He

that confesseth his sin shall find mercy"? Why, dear friends, do you expect

to be saved while you are in your sins? Are you to be allowed to love your

iniquities, and yet go to heaven? What, you think to have poison in your

veins, and yet be healthy? What, man, keep the thief in doors, and yet be

acquitted of dishonesty? Be stained, and yet be thought spotless? Harbour

the disease and yet be in health? Ridiculous! Absurd! Repentance is

founded on the necessity of things. The demand for a change of heart is

absolutely necessary; it is but a reasonable service. O that men were

reasonable, and they would repent; it is because they are not reasonable

that it needs the Holy Spirit to teach their reason right reason before they

will repent and believe the gospel.

And then, again, believing; is that an unreasonable thing to ask of

you? For a creature to believe its Creator is but a duty; altogether apart

from the promise of salvation, I say, God has a right to demand of the

creature that he has made, that he should believe what he tells him.

And what is it he asks you to believe? Anything hideous,

contradictory, irrational? It may be above reason, but it is not contrary

to reason. He asks you to believe that through the blood of Jesus

Christ, he can still be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. He asks

you to trust in Christ to save you. Can you expect that he will save you

if you will not trust him? Have you really the hardihood to think that

he will carry you to heaven while all the while you declare he cannot

do it? Do you think it consistent with the dignity of a Saviour to save

you while you say, "I do not believe thou art a Saviour, and I will not

trust thee"? Is it consistent with his dignity for him to save you, and

suffer you to remain an unbelieving sinner, doubting his grace,

mistrusting his love, slandering his character, doubting the efficacy of

his blood, and of his plea? Why, man, it is the most reasonable thing

in the world that he should demand of thee that thou shouldst believe

in Christ. And this he doth demand of thee this morning. "Repent and

believe the gospel." O friends, O friends, how sad, how sad is the state

of man's soul when he will not do this! We may preach to you, but you

never will repent and believe the gospel. We may lay God's command,

like an axe, to the root of the tree, but, reasonable as these commands

are, you will still refuse to give God his due; you will go on in your

sins; you will not come unto him that you may have life; and it is here

the Spirit of God must come in to work in the souls of the elect to

make them willing in the day of his power. But oh! in God's name I

warn you that, if, after hearing this command, you do, as I know you

will do, without his Spirit, continue to refuse obedience to so

reasonable a gospel, you shall find at the last it shall be more tolerable

for Sodom and Gomorrah, than for you; for had the things which are

preached in London been proclaimed in Sodom and Gomorrah, they

would have repented long ago in sackcloth and in ashes. Woe unto

you, inhabitants of London! Woe unto you, subjects of the British

Empire! for if the truths which have been declared in your streets had

been preached to Tyre and Sidon, they would have continued even

unto this day.

IV. But still, to pass on, I have yet a fourth remark to make, and that

is, this is a command which demands immediate obedience. I do not

know how it is, let us preach as we may, we cannot lead others to

think that there is any great alarm, that there is any reason why they

should think about their souls now. Last night there was a review on

Wimbledon Common, and living not very far away from it, I could

hear in one perpetual roll the cracks of the rifles and the thunder of

cannon. One remarked to me, "Supposing there really were war there,

we should not sit quite so comfortably in our room with our window

open, listening to all this noise." No; and so when people come to

chapel, they hear a sermon about repentance and faith; they listen to it.

"What do you think of it?" "Oh--very well." But suppose it were real;

suppose they believed it to be real, would they sit quite so comfortably?

Would they be quite so easy? Ah, no! But you do not think it is real.

You do not think that the God who made you actually asks of you this

day that you should repent and believe. Yes, sirs, but it is real, and it

is your procrastination, it is your self-confidence that is the sham, the

bubble that is soon to burst. God's demand is the solemn reality, and if

you could but hear it as it should be heard you would escape from your

lives and flee for refuge to the hope that is set before you in the gospel,

and you would do this to-day. This is the command of Christ, I say, to-

day. To-day is God's time. "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not

your heart, as in the provocation." "To-day," the gospel always cries,

for if it tolerated sin a single day, it were an unholy gospel. If the

gospel told men to repent of sin to-morrow, it would give them an

allowance to continue in it to-day, and that would indeed be to pander

to men's lusts. But the gospel maketh a clean sweep of sin, and

demandeth of man that he should throw down the weapons of his

rebellion now. Down with them, man! every one of them. Down, sir,

down with them, and down with them now! You must not keep one of

them; throw them down at once! The gospel challengeth him that he

believe in Jesus now. So long as thou continuest in unbelief thou

continuest in sin, and art increasing thy sin; and to give thee leave to

be an unbeliever for an hour, were to pander to thy lusts; therefore it

demandeth of thee faith, and faith now, for this is God's time, and the

time which holiness must demand of a sinner. Besides, sinner, it is thy

time. This is the only time thou canst call thine own. To-morrow! Is

there such a thing? In what calendar is it written save in the almanack

of the fool? To-morrow! Oh, how hast thou ruined multitudes! "To-

morrow," say men; but like the hind-wheel of a chariot, they are

always near to the front-wheel, always near to their duty; they still go

on, and on, but never get one whit the nearer, for, travel as they may,

to-morrow is still a little beyond them--but a little, and so they never

come to Christ at all. This is how they speak, as an ancient poet said--

"'I will to-morrow, that I will, I will be sure to do it';

To-morrow comes, to-morrow goes, And still thou art 'to do it';

Thus, then, repentance is deferred from one day to another,

Until the day of death is one, And judgment is the other."

O sons of men, always to be blessed, to be obedient, but never

obedient, when will ye learn to be wise? This is your only time; it is

God's time, and this is the best time. You will never find it easier to

repent than now; you will never find it easier to believe than now. It is

impossible now except the Spirit of God be with you; it will be as

impossible to-morrow; but if now you would believe and repent, the

Spirit of God is in the gospel which I preach; and while I cry out to

thee in God's name, "Repent and believe," he that bade me command

you thus to do gives power with the command, that even as Christ

spake to the waves and said, "Be still," and they were still, and to the

winds, "Be calm,", and they were quiet, so when we speak to your

proud heart it yields because of the grace that accompanies the word,

and you repent and believe the gospel. So may it be, and may the

message of this morning gather out the elect, and make them willing

in the day of God's power.

But now, lastly, this command, while it has an immediate power, has

also a continual force. "Repent ye, and believe the gospel," is advice to

the young beginner, and it is advice to the old grey-headed Christian,

for this is our life all the way through--"Repent ye, and believe the

gospel." St. Anselm, who was a saint--and that is more than many of

them were who were called so--St. Anselm once cried out "Oh! sinner

that I have been, I will spend all the rest of my life in repenting of my

whole life!" And Rowland Hill, whom I think I might call St.

Rowland, when he was near death, said he had one regret, and that

was that a dear friend who had lived with him for sixty years would

have to leave him at the gate of heaven. "That dear friend," said he, "is

repentance; repentance has been with me all my life, and I think I

shall drop a tear," said the good man, "as I go through the gates, to

think that I can repent no more." Repentance is the daily and hourly

duty of a man who believes in Christ; and as we walk by faith from the

wicket gate to the celestial city, so our right-hand companion all the

journey through must be repentance. Why, dear friend, the Christian

man, after he is saved, repents more than he ever did before, for now

he repents not merely of overt deeds, but even of imaginations. He will

take himself to task at night, and chide himself because he had

tolerated one foul thought; because he has looked on vanity, though

perhaps the heart had gone no further than the look of lust; because

the thought of evil has flitted through the mind--for all this he will vex

himself before God; and were it not that he still continues to believe

the gospel, one foul imagination would be such a plague and sting to

him, that he would have no peace and rest. When temptation comes to

him the good man finds the use of repentance, for having hated sin

and fled from it of old, he has ceased to be what he once was. One of

the ancient fathers, we are told, had, before his conversion, lived with

an ill woman, and some little time after, she accosted him as usual.

Knowing how likely he was to fall into sin he ran away with all his

might, and she ran after him, crying, "Wherefore runnest thou away?

It is I." He answered, "I run away because I am not I; I am a new

man." Now, it is just that, "I am not I," which keeps the Christian out

of sin; that hating of the former "I," that repenting of the old sin that

maketh him run from evil, abhor it, and look not upon it, lest by his

eyes he should be led into sin. Dear friend, the more the Christian man

knows of Christ's love, the more will he hate himself to think that he

has sinned against such love. Every doctrine of the gospel will make a

Christian man repent. Election, for instance. "How could I sin," saith

he. "I that was God's favourite, chosen of him from before the

foundation of the world?" Final perseverance will make him repent.

"How can I sin," says he, "that am loved so much and kept so surely?

How can I be so villainous as to sin against everlasting mercy?" Take

any doctrine you please, the Christian will make it a fount for sacred

woe; and there are times when his faith in Christ will be so strong that

his repentance will burst its bonds, and will cry with George Herbert--

"Oh, who will give me tears?

Come, all ye springs,

Ye clouds and rain dwell in my eyes,

My grief hath need of all the wat'ry things

That nature hath produc'd. Let ev'ry vein

Suck up a river to supply mine eyes,

My weary weeping eyes; too dry for me,

Unless they set new conduits, new supplies

To bear them out, and with my state agree."

And all this is because he murdered Christ; because his sin nailed the

Saviour to the tree; and therefore he weepeth and mourneth even to his

life's end. Sinning, repenting, and believing--these are three things

that will keep with us till we die. Sinning will stop at the river Jordan;

repentance will die triumphing over the dead body of sin; and faith

itself, though perhaps it may cross the stream, will cease to be so

needful as it has been here, for there we shall see even as we are seen,

and shall know even as we are known.

I send you away when I have once again solemnly declared my

Master's will to you this morning, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel."

Here are some of you come from foreign countries, and many of you

are from our provincial towns in England; you came here, perhaps, to

hear the preacher of whom many a strange thing has been said. Well

and good, and may stranger things still be said if they will but bring

men under the sound of the Word that they may be blessed. Now, this I

have to say to you this morning: In that great day when a congregation

ten thousand times larger than this shall be assembled, and on the

great white throne the Judge shall sit, there will be not a man, or

woman, or child, who is here this morning, able to make excuse and

say, "I did not hear the gospel; I did not know what I must do to be

saved!" You have heard it: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." That

is, trust Christ; believe that he is able and willing to save you. But

there is something better. In that great day, I say, there will be some of

you present--oh! let us hope all of us--who will be able to say, "Thank

God that ever I yielded up the weapons of my proud rebellion by

repentance; thank God that I looked to Christ, and took him to be my

Saviour from first to last; for here am I, a monument of grace, a sinner

saved by blood, to praise him while time and eternity shall last!" God

grant that we may meet each other at the last with joy and not with

grief! I will be a swift witness against you to condemn you if you

believe not this gospel; but if you repent and believe, then we shall

praise that grace which turned our hearts, and so gave us the

repentance which led us to trust Christ, and the faith which is the

effectual gift of the Holy Spirit. What shall I say more unto you?

Wherefore, wherefore will you reject this? If I have spoken to you of

fables, of fictions, of dreams, then turn on your heel and reject my

discourse. If I have spoken in my own name, who am I that you should

care one whit for me? But if I have preached that which Christ

preached, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel," I charge you by the

living God, I charge you by the world's Redeemer, I charge you by

cross of Calvary, and by the blood which stained the dust at Golgotha,

obey this divine message and you shall have eternal life; but refuse it,

and on your heads be your blood for ever and ever!

Verses 29-33

The Best House-Visitation

May 23, 1875 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door." Mark 1:29-33 .

We see before us small beginnings and grand endings. One man is called by the voice of Jesus, and then another; the house wherein they dwell is consecrated by the Lord's presence, and by-and-by the whole city is stirred from end to end with the name and fame of the Great Teacher. We are often wishing that God would do some great thing in the world, and we look abroad for instruments which we think would be peculiarly fit, and think of places where the work might suitably begin: it might be quite as well if we asked the Lord to make use of us, and if we were believingly to hope that even our feeble instrumentality might produce great results by his power, and that our abode might become the central point from which streams of blessing should flow forth to refresh the neighborhood. Peter's house was by no means the most notable building in the town of Capernaum. It was probably not the poorest dwelling in the place, for Peter had a boat of his own, or perhaps a half share in a boat with his brother Andrew, or possibly he and Andrew and James and John were proprietors of some two or three fishing boats, for they were partners, and they appear to have employed hired servants. (Mark 1:20 .) Still Peter was not rich nor famous, he was neither a ruler of the synagogue, nor an eminent scribe, and his house was not at all remarkable among the habitations which made up the little fishing suburb down by the sea-shore. Yet to this house did Jesus go. He had foreknown and chosen it of old, and had resolved to make it renowned by his presence and miraculous power. There hung the fisherman's nets outside the door the sole escutcheon and hatchment of one who was ordained to sit upon a throne and judge with his fellow apostles the twelve tribes of Israel. Beneath that lowly roof Immanuel deigned to unveil himself: God-with-us showed himself. God with Simon. Little did Peter know hone divine a blessing entered his house when Jews crossed the threshold, nor how vast a river of mercy would stream forth from his door adown the streets of Capernaum. Now, dear friend, it may be that your dwelling, though very dear to you, is not very much thought of by anybody else; no poet or historian has ever written its annals, nor artist engraved its image. Perhaps it is not the very poorest cot in the place in which you live; still it is obscure enough, and no one as he rides along asks, "Who dwells there?" or, "What remarkable house is that?" Yet is there no reason why the Lord should not visit you and make your house like that of Obed-edom, in which the ark abode, or like that of Zaccheus to which salvation came. Our Lord can make your dwelling the center of mercy for the whole region, a little sun scattering light in all directions, a spiritual dispensary distributing health to the multitudes around. There is no reason except in yourself why the Lord should not make your residence in a city a greater blessing to it than the cathedral and all its clergy. Jesus cares not for fine buildings and carved stones; he will not disdain to come beneath your cottage roof, and cording there he will bring a treasury of blessings with him, which shall enrich your house, and shall ensure the richest of boons to your neighbors. Why should it not be? Have you faith to pray this moment that it may be so? How much do I wish you would! More good by far will be done by a silent prayer now offered by yourself to that effect than by anything which can be spoken by me. If every Christian here will now put up the supplication, "Lord, dwell where I dwell, and in so doing make my house a blessing to the neighborhood," marvellous results must follow. I am going to speak of three things this morning. The first is, How grace came to Peter's house; secondly, What grace did when it got there; and thirdly, How grace flowed forth from Peter's house. I. HOW GRACE CAME TO PETER'S HOUSE. The first link in the chain of causes was that a relative was converted. Andrew had heard John the Baptist preach, and had been impressed. The text which was blessed to him was probably, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Andrew followed Jesus, and having become a disciple, he desired to lead others to be disciples too. He began, as we all ought to begin, with those nearest to him by ties of relationship; "He first findeth his own brother Simon." Beloved friend, if you are yourself saved, you should cast about you and inquire, "To what house may I become a messenger of salvation?" Perhaps you have no family of your own; I do not know whether Andrew had: he seems at to time of this narrative to have lived in a part of the same house as Peter: possibly they had each of them a house at Bethesda, which was their own city, but they lived together when they went on business to Capernaum. Perhaps Andrew had no wife, and no children; I cannot tell. If it were so? I feel sure that he said to himself, "I must seek the good of my brother and his family." I believe, if we are really lively and thoughtful Christians, our conversion is an omen for good to all our kinsfolk. We shall not idly say, "I ought to have looked after my own children and household, if I had owned any, and having none I am excused"; but we shall consider ourselves to be debtors to those who are kindred householders. I hope that some Andrew is here who, being himself enlisted for Jesus, will be the means of conquering for Jesus a brother and a brother's household. If there be no Andrew, I hope some of the Maries and Marthas will be fired with zeal to make up for the deficiency of the men, and will bring brother Lazarus to the Lord. Uncles and aunts should feel an interest in the spiritual condition of nephews and nieces; cousins should be concerned for cousins, and all ties of blood should be consecrated by being used for purposes of grace. Moses, when he led the people out of Egypt, would not leave a hoof behind, nor ought we to be content to leave one kinsman a slave to sin. Abraham, in his old age, took up sword and buckler for his nephew Lot, and aged believers should look about them and seek the good of the most distant members of their families; if it were always so the power of the gospel would be felt far and wide. The household of which Peter was master might never have known the gospel if a relative had not been converted. This first link of grace drew on another of much greater importance, namely, that the head of the family became a convert. Andrew sought out his brother and spoke to him of having found the Messias: then he brought him to Jesus, and our Lord at once accepted the new recruit, and gave him a new name. Peter believed and became a follower of Christ, and so the head of the house was on the right side. Heads of families, what responsibilities rest upon us! We cannot shake them off, let us do what we may! God has given us little kingdoms in which our authority and influence will tell for the better or the worse to all eternity. There is not a child or a servant in our house but what will be impressed for good or evil by what we do. True, we may have no wish to influence them, and we may endeavor to ignore our responsibility, but it cannot be done; parental influence is a throne which no man can abdicate. The members of our family come under our shadow, and we either drip poison upon them like a deadly upas, or else beneath our shade they breathe an atmosphere perfumed with our piety. The little boats are fastened to our larger vessel and are drawn along in our wake. O fathers and mothers, the ruin of your children or their salvation will, under God, very much depend upon you. The gracious Spirit may use you for their conversion, or Satan may employ you as the instruments of their destruction. Which is it like to be? I charge you, consider. It is a notable event in family history when the grace of God takes up its headquarters in the heart of the husband and the father: that household's story will henceforth be written by another pen. Let those of us who are the Lord's gratefully acknowledge his mercy to us personally, and then let us return to bless our household. If the clouds be full of rain they empty themselves upon the earth; let us pray to be as clouds of grace to our families. Whether we have only an Isaac and an Ishmael like Abraham, or twelve children like Jacob, let us pray for each and all that they may live before the Lord, and that we and all that belong to us may be bound up in the bundle of life. Note, further, that the third step in the coming of grace to Peter's house was, that after the conversion of the brother and Peter, there were certain others converted who were partners and companions with the two brothers. It is a great help to a man to find godly work-fellows. If he must needs go a-fishing like Peter, it is a grand thing to have a James and a John as one's partners in the business. How helpful it is to piety when Christian men associate from day to day with their fellow Christians, and speak often one to another concerning the best things. Firebrands placed closely together will burn all the more freely, coals laid in a heap will glow and blaze, and so hearts touching hearts in divine things cause an inward burning and a sacred fervor seldom reached by those who walk alone. Many Christians are called to struggle hard for spiritual existence through having to work with unbelievers; they are not only sneered at and persecuted, but all sorts of doubts and blasphemies are suggested, and these materially hinder their growth in the heavenly life. When they are brought into this trial in the course of providence they have need of great grace to remain firm under it. Beloved brother, if in your daily business you meet with none to help but many to hinder, you must live all the nearer to God, for you require a double measure of grace; but if in the providence of God you happen to be placed where there are helpful Christian companions, do not readily change that position, even though your income would be doubled thereby. I would sooner work with James and John for twenty shillings a week than with swearers and drunkards for sixty. You who reside with really consistent Christians are much favored, and ought to become eminent Christians. You are like flowers in a conservatory, and you ought to bloom to perfection. You live in a lavender garden, and you ought to smell sweetly. Prove that you appreciate and rightly use your privileged position by endeavoring to bring grace to your house, that it may be altogether the Lord's. A fourth and more manifest step was taken when Peter and his friends were drawn closer to their Lord. The good man of the house was already saved, and his brother and companions, but by the grace of God they rose to be something more than merely saved, for they received a call to a higher occupation and a nobler service; from fishers they were to rise into fishers of men, and from rowing in their own boats to become pilots of the barque of the church. Peter was already a disciple, but he was in the background; he must come to the front: he had been more a fisherman than a disciple, but now he must be more a disciple than a fisherman. He must now follow Jesus by a more open avowal, a more constant service, a nearer communion, a more attentive discipleship, a fuller fellowship in suffering; and for this he must receive an inward preparation by the Divine Spirit: he was, in fact, by the call of his Lord and Master, lifted to a higher platform altogether, upon which he would abide and learn by the Spirit what flesh and blood could never reveal. Beloved, what a difference there may be between one Christian and another. I have sometimes seen it with astonishment; and though I would not go so far as to say that I have seen as much difference between one Christian and another as between a Christian and a worldling; for there must ever be between the lowest grade of life and the fairest form of death a wider distinction than between the lowest and highest grades of life, yet still it is a very solemn difference. We know some who are saved at least we hope they are but oh, how few are the fruits of the Spirit; how feeble is the light they give; how slender is their consecration; how small is their likeness to him whom they call Master and Lord. Thank God, we have seen others who live in quite another atmosphere, and exhibit a far different life. It is not a higher life, I hardly like that term, for the life of God is one and the same in all believers; but it is a higher condition of the life, more developed, more vigorous, more influential; a condition of life which has a clearer eye, and a nimbler hand, a quicker ear, and a more musical speech; a life of health, whereas too many only know life as laboring under disease, and ready to give up the ghost. There are Mephibosheths among the king's favourites, but give me the life of Naphtali, "satisfied with favor and full of the blessing of the Lord;" or of Asher, of whom it is written, "let him dip his foot in oil." An owl is alive though it loves the darkness, and a mole is alive though it is always digging its own grave, but give me the life of those who mount as on the wings of eagles, who live upon the fat things, full of marrow, and drink the wines on the lees well refined. These are the mightier of Israel, whose joyous energy far surpasses that of the weary and faint, whose faith is feeble and whose love is cold. Now, Peter and his friends at this time had been called from their fishing tackle and their boats to abide with Jesus in his humiliation, and learn of him the secrets of the kingdom, which afterwards they were to teach to others. They had heard the Master say, "Follow me," and they had left all at his bidding. They were in the path of fellowship, boldly pressing on at their Lord's command, so that now they had taken a grand stride in their Christian career; and that is the time, beloved, when men bring blessings on their houses. Oh, I could sigh to think of the capacities which lie dormant in some Christians! It is sad to think how their children might grow up, and with God's blessing become pillars in the House of the Lord, and perhaps ministers of the gospel, under the influence of an earnest consecrated father and mother: but instead thereof the dulness, the lukewarmness, the worldliness, and the inconsistencies of parents are hindering the children from coming to Christ, hampering them as to any great advances in the divine life, dwarfing their stature in grace, and doing them lifelong injury. Brethren, you do not know the possibilities which are in you when God's Spirit rests upon you; but this much is certain, if you yourselves be called into a higher form of divine life, you shall then become mediums of blessing to your relatives. Your husband, your wife, your child, your friend, and the whole of your family shall be the better for your advance in spiritual things. Now, observe further, that at this time when the Lord was about to bless the household of Peter he had been further instructing Peter about Andrew and James and John, for he took them to the synagogue, and they heard him preach. A delightful sermon it was a sermon very full of energy, and very unlike the discourses of ordinary preachers, for it had authority and power about it a was when they came home front synagogue, after hearing such a sermon, that the blessing descended upon the house. The best of us need instruction. It is unwise for Christian people to be so busy about Christ's work that they cannot listen to Christ's words. We must be fed, or we cannot feed others. The synagogue must not be deserted, if it be a synagogue where Christ is present. And oh, sometimes, when the Master is present, what a power there is in the word: it is not the preacher's eloquence, it is neither the flow of language, nor the novelty of thought; there is a secret, quiet influence which enters into the soul and subdues it to the majesty of divine love. You feel the vital energy of the divine word, and it is not man's word to you, but the quickening voice of God sounding through the chambers of your spirit, and making your whole being to live in his sight. At such times the sermon is as manna from the slimier, or as the bread and wine with which Melchizedec met Abraham; you are cheered and strengthened by it, and go away refreshed. My dear brother, my dear sister, then is the time to go home and take your Lord home with you. Peter and his friends had so enjoyed the great Teacher's company at the synagogue that they begged him to abide with them, and so they went straight away with him from the synagogue into the house. Can you do that this morning? If my Lord shall come and smile upon you and warm your hearts, do not lose him as you go down the aisles, do not let him go when you reach the streets and are walking home. Do not grieve him by chitchat about worthless matters, but take Jesus home with you. Tell him it is noon-day, and entreat him to tarry with you during the heat of the day; or if it be eventide, tell him the day is far spent, and beseech him to abide with you. You can always find some good reason for detaining your Lord. Do as did the spouse of old, when he said, "I found him whom my soul loveth; I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me." Is there not a sick one at home? Take Jesus home to her. Is there no sorrow at home? Entreat your Lord to come home to help you in your distress. Is there no sin at home? I am sure there is. Take Jesus home to purge it away. But, remember, you cannot take him home with you unless you first have him with you personally. Labour after this then; be not satisfied without it. Resolve to be his servant that I trust you are; to be his servant walling in the light as he is in the light, and having fellowship with him that I hope you are; and then, having gone so far, resolve that you will take him to your friends and to your kinsfolk, that so your whole house may be blest. I desire, before I pass to the second point, to lay great stress upon this. We have an old proverb that charity must begin at home, let me shape it into this, piety must begin with yourself. Before you ask salvation for your family, lay hold upon it for yourself. This is not selfishness: indeed, the purest benevolence makes a man desire to be qualified to benefit others; and you cannot be prepared to bless others unless God has first blessed you. Is it selfishness which makes a man stand at the fountain to fill his own cup, when he intends to hand that cup round for others to drink? Is it any selfishness for us to pray that in us there may be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, when our second thought is that out of us may flow rivers of living water whereby others may be replenished? It is no selfishness to wish that the power of the Lord may be upon you, if you long to exercise that power upon the hearts of others for their good. Look ye well, brethren, to yourselves; ye cannot bless your children, ye cannot bless your households till first of all upon yourselves the anointing of the Lord doth rest. O Spirit of the living God, breathe upon us, that we may live yet more abundantly, and then shall we be chosen vessels to bear the name of Jesus to others. II. Now we take the second step, and show WHAT GRACE DID IN PETER'S HOUSE WHEN IT CAME THERE. The first effect that grace produced was, it led the family to prayer. The four friends have come in, and no sooner are they in than they begin to speak with the Master, for the text tells us, "Anon they tell him of her," of Peter's wife's mother who lay sick. I like that expression I do not know whether you have noticed it "Anon they tell him of her." Luke tells us "they besought him." I have no doubt Luke is right, but Mark is right too. "They tell him of her." It looks to me as if it taught me this that sometimes all I may do with my sore affliction is just to tell my own dear Lord about it, and leave it to his loving judgment to act as he sees fit. Have you any temporal trouble or sickness in the house? Tell Jesus of it. Sometimes that is almost as much as you may do. You may beseech him to heal that dear one, but you will have to say, "Not as I would, but as thou wilt," and so will feel that all you may do is to tell Jesus the case and leave it with him. He is so gentle and loving, that he is sure to do the kindest thing, and the thing which is most right to do; therefore we may be content to "tell him of her." With regard to spiritual things, we may press and be very importunate, but with regard to temporal things, we must draw a line, and be satisfied when we have told Jesus and left the matter to his discretion. Some parents may, when their children are ill, plead with God in a way which shows more of nature then of grace, more clearly the affection of the mother than the resignation of the Christian; but such should not be the case. If we have committed our way unto the Lord in prayer, and meekly told him of our crisis it will be our wisdom to be still, and watch till God the Lord shall speak. He cannot be either unjust or unkind, therefore should we say, "Let him do what seemeth him good." Very likely this good woman, Peter's wife's mother, was herself a believer in Christ; but I venture to take her case as typical of spiritual success, not at all wishing, however, to insinuate that she was spiritually sick, for she may have been one of the most devoted of Christians. But now, suppose you take Jesus Christ home with you, dear friend, if you have an unconverted one in the house, you will immediately begin to "tell him of her." "They told him of her." That is a very simple type of prayer, is it not? Yes, in some respects it is, and therefore I urge you to use it. Do not say you cannot pray for your child; you can tell Jesus of her. Do not say you cannot plead for your brother or your sister; you can go, and in a childlike manner tell Jesus about the case, and that is prayer. To describe your needs is often the best way of asking for help. I have known a person say to a man of whom he needed aid, "Now, I am not going to ask you for anything, I only want you to hear my story, and then you shall do as you like"; and if he wisely tells his story, the other begins to smile, and says,"You do not call that asking, I suppose?" Tell Jesus Christ all about it; his view of the matter will be to your advantage. This elementary form of prayer is very powerful. The police do not allow people to beg in the streets, but I do not know that there is any law to prevent their sitting down in attitudes of misery and exhibiting holes at the knees of their trousers and bare feet staring through soleless shoes. I saw that exhibition this morning. The man was not begging, but it was wonderfully like it, and answered the purpose better than words. To tell Jesus Christ about your unconverted relative or friend may have in it a great deal of power, may be, in fact, one of the most earnest things you could do; because the absence of spoken pleas and arguments may arise from your being so burdened with anxiety that you cannot find words to say, "Lord relieve me," but you stand there and sigh under the burden, and those groanings which cannot be uttered act as urgent pleas with the pitiful heart of Christ, and cry aloud in his ear, "Lord, help me." Telling Jesus is a simple mode of praying, but methinks it is a very believing mode. It is as if they felt, "We only need to tell the case, and our blessed Lord will attend to it. If anon we tell him of her, there shall be no need to clasp his knees and cry with bitter tears for pity upon the fevered one; for as soon as he hears, so loving is his heart, he will stretch out his hand of power." Go to Jesus, then, dear friends, in that spirit, about your unconverted friend or child, and "Tell him of her." There is something very instructive about this particular case, because we are apt to think we must not tell the Lord of the more common troubles which occur in our family; but this is a great error. Too common? How can the commonness of an evil put it out of the list of proper subjects for supplication? The seaboard of Capernaum in which Peter dwelt is said by travelers to be a peculiarly damp, marshy, aguish, feverish place, no end of people had the fever just around the house; but Peter and Andrew did not argue that they must not tell the Lord because it was a common disease. Do not let Satan get an advantage over you by persuading you to keep back commonplace troubles or sins from your loving Lord. Beloved, if he counts the hairs of your heads, if not a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge, depend upon it your commonest trouble will be sympathized in by him. "In all their afflictions he was afflicted." It is a great mistake to think you may not carry to your Redeemer the ordinary trials of the day; tell him, yea, tell him all. If your child is only a common sinner, if there is no unusual depravity in him, if your son hats never grieved you by perverseness, if your daughter has always been amiable and gentle, do not think there is no need to pray. If it is only a common case of the fever of sin, yet it will be deadly in the end unless a balm be found, therefore tell Jesus of it at once. Do not wait till your son becomes a prodigal, pray at once! Do not delay till your child is at death's door, pray now! But sometimes a difficulty arises from the other side of the matter. Peter's wife's mother was attacked by no ordinary fever. We are told it was "a great fever": the expression used implies that she was burning with fever; and she was intensely debilitated, for she was laid or prostrate. Now the devil will sometimes insinuate, "It is of no use for you to take such a case to Jesus; your son has acted so shamefully, your daughter is so wilful: such a case will never yield to divine grace in answer to prayer." Do not be held back by this wicked suggestion. Our Lord Jesus Christ can rebuke great fevers, and He can lift up those that are broken down and rendered powerless by raging sin. "Wonders of grace to God belong." Go and tell Jesus of the case, common or uncommon, ordinary or extraordinary even as they told Jesus of her. Now, notice one or two reasons why we think they were driven to tell Jesus of her. I know the great reason, but I will mention the little ones first. I fancy they told Jesus of her, at first, because it was a contagious fever, and it is hardly right to bring a person into a house that has a great fever in it, without letting them know. If there is a great sin in your house, you may perhaps feel in your heart, "How can Jesus Christ come to my house while my drunken husband acts as he does?" Perhaps, more sorrowful still, the wife drinks in secret, and the husband, who sees it with deep regret, says, "How can I expect the Lord to bless us?" Or perhaps some great, sad sin has defiled your child, and you may well say, "How can I expect the Lord to smile on this house? I might as well expect a man to come into a house which is infected with typhus fever." Never mind. Tell Jesus all about it, and he will come, fever or no fever, sin or no sin. I think perhaps they told him of her because it would be some excuse for the scantiness of the entertainment they were likely to give. What could Peter and Andrew do at preparing a meal? The principal person in the house was ill and could not serve. We poor men are miserable hands at spreading a table, we need a Mary or a Martha to help us, or a Peter's wife, or a Peter's wife's mother. And so they say with long faces, "Good Master, we would gladly entertain thee well, but she who would delight to serve thee is sick." How often a family is hindered from entertaining Christ through some sick soul that is in the house. "O Lord, we would have family prayer, but we cannot: the husband will not permit it." "Lord, we would make this household ring with thy praises, but we should make one tenant of it so angry that we are obliged to be quiet." "We cannot give thee a feast good Lord: we have to set before thee a little as best we can, or the house would grow too hot to hold us." Never mind. Tell Jesus about it; and Jesus will come and sup with you, and turn the impediment into an assistance. Moreover, the faces of the friends looked so sad. I care say while in the synagogue Peter had almost forgotten about his wife's mother, he had been so pleased with the preaching, but when he reached home the first question when he crossed the door was, "How is she now?" The servants replied, "Alas, master, the fever rages terribly." Down went Peter's spirits, a cloud came over his countenance; and he turned to Jesus and cried, "Good Master, I cannot help being sad, even though thou be here, for my wife's mother, whom I love much, is sick of a fever." That sadness may have helped Peter to "tell him of her." But I think the grand reason was this, that our blessed Lord had such a sympathetic heart that he always drew everybody's grief out of them. Men could not keep anything to themselves where he was. He looked like one who was so much like yourself; so much in all points tried like as you are, that you could not help telling him. I exhort you that love my Lord to allow his sweet sympathy to extract from you the grief which wrings your heart; and let it constrain you to tell him of your unconverted relative. He endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, he loved the souls of men, and died for them; and, therefore, he can tenderly enter into the anxieties which you feel for souls rebellious and hardened in sin. Therefore, "tell him of her." I think, however, that they told him of her because they expected that he would heal her. Tell Jesus about your child, or your friend, who is unconverted, and expect that he will look upon them with an eye of love. He can save. It is like him to do it. He delights to do it. It will honor him to do it. Expect him to do it, and tell him the case of your unregenerate friend this very day. May I put the question all round? You have each of you, probably, some one left in your family unsaved, and you have said, "I was in hopes that this one would be converted." Have you ever told Jesus of her or of him? Oh, I hope you can answer, "Yes, I have many times" but it is just possible you have not made a set business of it. Begin now, and go upstairs and take time every day to tell the Lord every bit about Jane, or Mary, or Thomas, or John. Wrestle with God, if need be, all night long, and say, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." I do not think that many of you will be very long with that trouble to carry when you have in that manner told it to your Lord. This is what they did when Jesus came. Immediately they told him of her, for the word "Anon" is really in the Greek "immediately." Directly Christ went in they told him of her, and directly Christ went to heal her. So the first work grace wrought in the house was it led them to pray; and, secondly, this led the Savior to heal their sick. He went into the chamber, spoke a word, gave a touch, lifted up the sick woman, and she was restored, and the wonderful thing was she was able to rise from the bed immediately and wait upon them. This never occurs in the cure of a fever, for when a fever goes it leaves the patient very weak, and he needs days and weeks, and sometimes months, before he recovers his wonted strength. But the cures of Christ are perfect; and so at once the patient rose and ministered unto them. Thus we see that when grace came into that house and wrought its cure it quite transformed the family. Look at the difference. There is the poor woman, the patient, shivering, and then again burning, for the fever is on her; she can scarcely lift hand or foot. Now look at her, she is busily serving, with a smiling face; no one more happy or healthy than she. So when God's grace comes, the one who has been the object of the most anxiety becomes the happiest of all; the sinner, saved by sovereign grace, becomes servant of the Lord; the patient becomes the hostess. Note the change in the rest of them. They had all been heavy of heart, but now they are rejoicing.. There is no anxiety on Peter's face now, Andrew is no more troubled, the skeleton in the closet has disappeared, the sickness has been chased out, and they can all sing, a gladsome hymn. The house is changed from an hospital to a church, from an infirmary to a banqueting hall. The Lord himself seems changed, too, if chancre can come over him, for, from a physician, going carefully into a sick room, he comes forth a King who has subdued an enemy, and they all look upon him with wonder and reverence as the mighty Lord, victorious over invisible spirits. Now, I pray God that our household may be transformed and transfigured in this way: our Luz become a Bethel, our valley of Achor a door of smile, our sons of perverseness a seed to serve the Lord. If you yourself get a fullness of grace, the next step is for your families to receive of the boundless fullness, till not one shall be soul-sick at home, but all shall be happy in the Lord, all, all shall serve him. III. When mercy had once entered, let us see HOW GRACE FLOWED FORTH FROM THE HOUSE. They could not keep the fact hidden indoors that Peter's wife's mother was cured. I do not know who told about it. Had it been in our day I should have thought it was one of the servants over the palings of the backyard, where they are so fond of talking; or perhaps some friend who came in, and was told the news. Perhaps the doctor called round to see the good woman, and, to his utter astonishment, found her up and about the house. He goes to his next patient, and says, "My business will soon come to an end; my patient who had fever yesterday has been made perfectly whole by one Jesus, a prophet of Nazareth." Somehow or other it oozed out. You cannot keep the grace of God a secret; it will reveal itself. You need not advertise your religion: live it, and other people will talk about it. It is good to speak for Christ whenever you have a fair opportunity, but your life will be the best sermon. The story went through the town, and a poor man upon crutches said to himself, "I will hobble out to Peter's house!" Another who used to creep through the streets on all fours quietly whispered "I will go to Peter's house and see." Others, moved by the same impulse, started for the same place. Many who had sick ones said, "fire will carry our friends to Peter's house;" so the house grew popular, and, lo, around the door there was such a sight as Peter had never seen before. It was a great hospital, all down the street patients were clamouring to see the great prophet. "Almost the whole city came round about the door." And, now, what say you to Peter's house? We began with calling it a humble lodging, where a fisherman dwelt; why, it is become a royal hospital, a palace of mercy. Here they come with every kind of complaint, lepers, and halt, and lame, and withered, and there is the loving Master, moving here and there till he has healed every one of them. The streets of Capernaum rang that night with song of joy. There was dancing in the street of a new kind, for the lame man was leaping; and the music that accompanied the dancing was of a new kind too, for then did the tongue of the dumb sing, "Glory be to God." It was out of Peter's house that all this mercy came. Ah, brethren, I would to God he would look first on Peter, and then on Peter's wife's mother, or Peter's child or relative, and then on the whole house, and then from the house cause an influence to stream forth and to be felt by all the neighborhood. "It cannot be so with my home," says one. Why not, dear brother? If you are straitened at all, you are not straitened in God; you are straitened in yourself. "But I live in a place," says one, "where the ministry is lifeless." The more reason why you should be a blessing to the town. "Oh, but I live where many active Christians are doing a great deal of good." The more reason why you should be encouraged to do good too. "Oh, but ours is an aristocratic neighborhood." They want the gospel most of all. How few of the great and mighty are ever saved! "Oh, but ours is such a low neighborhood." That is just the place where the gospel is likely to meet with a glad reception, for the poor have the gospel preached to them, and they will hear it. You cannot invent an excuse which will hold water for a moment: God can make your house to be the center of blessing to all who dwell around it, if you are willing to have it so. But the way to have it so I have described. First, you must be yourself saved, yourself called to the highest form of life, yourself warmed in heart by the presence of your Master; then your family must be blest; and after that the widening circle around your habitation. Oh that it might be so. I know some brethren who, wherever they are, are burning and shining lights; but I know some others who are lamps, but it would be difficult to say whether they are alight or not. I think I see a flicker, but I am not sure. Brethren, aspire to be abundantly useful. Do you wish to live ignoble lives? Do you wish to be bound to the loathsome carcase of a dead Christianity? I abhor lukewarmness from my soul, let us have done with it! We have a very short time in which to bear our testimony, we shall soon be at rest; let us world while we can. The shadows are lengthening, the day is drawing to a close. Up! brethren, up! If you are to bring jewels to Jesus, if you are to crown his head with many crowns, up, I pray you, and labor for him while you can. There are some here who are unconverted. I have not spoken to them, but I have tried to set you all speaking to them. Will you do it, or shall I keep you to hear the second halt of my sermon? No, I will trust you to deliver it, and may God bless you for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Mark 1". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/mark-1.html. 2011.
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