Attention!
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Matthew 11

Verse 2

Holy Violence

May 15th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force," Matthew 11:12 .

When John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea, the throng of people who pressed around him became extremely violent to get near enough to hear his voice. Often when our Saviour preached did the like scene occur. We find that the multitudes were immense beyond all precedent. He seemed to drain every city, every town, and every village, as he went along preaching the word of the gospel. These people, moreover, not like our common church-and-chapel-goers, content to hear, if they could, and yet more content to keep without hearing, if it were possible, were extremely earnest to get near enough to hear anyhow. So intense was their desire to hear the Saviour that they pressed upon him, insomuch that they trod one upon another. The crowd became so violent to approach his person, that some of the weaker ones were cast down and trodden upon. Now, our Saviour, when he witnessed all this struggling round about to get near him, said, "This is just a picture of what is done spiritually by those who will be saved. As you press and throng about me," said Christ, "and thrust one another, with arm and elbow, to get within reach of my voice, even so must it be if ye would be saved, 'For the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.'" He pictured to himself a crowd of souls desiring to get to the living Saviour. He saw them press, and crowd, and throng, and thrust, and tread on one another, in their anxious desire to get at him. He warned his hearers, that unless they had this earnestness in their souls, they would never reach him savingly; but if they had it, they should certainly be saved. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." "But," says one, "do you wish us to understand, that if a man is to be saved he must use violence and vehement earnestness in order to obtain salvation?" I do, most assuredly; that is the doctrine of the text. "But," says one, "I thought it was all the work of God." So it is, from first to last. But when God has begun the work in the soul, the constant effect of God's work in us is to set us working; and where God's Spirit is really striving with us, we shall begin to strive too. This is just a test whereby we may distinguish the men who have received the Spirit of God, from those who have not received it. Those who have received the Spirit in verity and truth are violent men. They have a violent anxiety to be saved, and they violently strive that they may enter in at the strait gate. Well they know that seeking to enter in is not enough, for many shall seek to enter in but shall not be able, and therefore do they strive with might and main. I shall this morning, first, direct your attention to these violent men. Look at them. Secondly, we shall show their conduct. What makes them so violent? Are they justified in this impetuous vehemence? We shall next rejoice in the fact, that they are sure to be successful in their violence. And then, I shall endeavour to arouse in your hearts, by the help of God's Holy Spirit, that holy violence, without which the gates of heaven will be shut in your teeth, and you will never be able to enter the pearly portals of Paradise. 1. First then, LET US LOOK AT THESE VIOLENT MEN. Understand that what they are, they have been made by divine grace. They are not so naturally of themselves. But there has been a secret work of grace in them, and then they have become violent men. Look at these violent men, who are violently in earnest to be saved. You will observe them when they come up to the house of God; there is no yawning with them, no listlessness or inattention, no imagination that if they do but sit in the place the hour-and-a-half which is regularly allotted to divine worship, they will have done enough. No; they hear with both their ears, and they look with both their eyes, and all through the service they have an intense desire that they may find Christ. Meet them as they go up to the house of prayer, and ask them why they are going there. They know right well what they are going after. "I am going there to find mercy, and to find peace and rest to my soul; for I am in anguish about sin, and I want to find the Saviour; I am in hopes that being in the way the Lord will meet with me, so I am about to lay myself down by the side of the pool of Bethesda, in the hope that the Holy Spirit will stir the pool and enable me to step in." You do not find these people like the most of modern hearers, critical, or else careless. No; they are all awake to see whether there is not something to be had which may be a balm to their wearied spirits, and a cordial to their troubled breasts. Mark these violent people after they have gone home. They go to their chambers and they begin to pray; not that prayer between sleeping and waking that some of you are used to attend to, not that drowsy supplication which never gets beyond the ceiling of your bedroom; but they fall on their knees and with a holy anxiety they begin to cry, "Lord, save or I perish; O Lord save me; I am ready to perish, Lord; I beseech thee, stretch out thine hand and rescue my poor soul from that destruction which now haunts my spirit." And see them after they have prayed, how they turn over the Word of God. They do not read its chapters as if the mere looking at the letters was enough, but they read just as Watts says in his hymn,

"Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord, Whose hope, still hovering round thy word Would light on some sweet promise there, Some sure support against despair."

And down they are on their knees again. "O Lord speak to my soul through thy word! Lord help me to lay hold on the promise, enable me to grasp it! Oh, let not my soul perish for lack of thy help and thy grace." And then see these violent men whom God has really made in earnest about being saved. You will not find them leaving their devotions in their closets, or in their house of prayer. Wherever they go there is a solemn earnestness upon them, which the world cannot understand. They are seeking after Jesus, and rest they neither will nor can until they find him. Their nights are disturbed with dreams, and their days are made sad with their pantings after the blessing without which they cannot live, and without which they dare not die. My hearer, have you ever been one of these violent men, or are you so now? Blessed be God if this holy violence is in your spirit: you shall take heaven by force yet; you shall take it by storm, and carry the gates of heaven by the battery of your prayers. Only persevere with importunity; still plead, still wrestle, still continue to strive, and you must at length prevail. But ah! my hearer, if thou hast never had a strong unconquerable anxiety about thy soul, thou art as yet a stranger to the things of God. Thou dost not understand that violence victorious without which the gates of heaven never can be stormed. Some of us can look back to the time when we were seeking Christ. I could myself awake of a morning easily then. The first ray of light that came into my chamber would awaken me to take up Baxter's Call to the Unconverted that lay under my pillow. I believed I had not repented enough, and I began to read that. Oh! how I hoped that would break my heart. And then I would get Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, and Allen's Alarm, and read them. But, still, I think I might have read them to this day, and not been a whit the better, if I had not something better than alarm, in remembering that Christ came into the world to save every sinner who was willing to cast himself upon his blood and righteousness, and take him at his word, and trust God. Have ye not seen many and are there not many among us men who have said, "I must have mercy, I must have it: it is not a thing which I may have, or may not have; but I am a lost soul if I have it not?" And when they have gone to pray they have seemed like Samsons; they have got hold of the two posts of heaven's gate of mercy, and they have pulled as if they would pull them up by their eternal roots sooner than not get the blessing. They have hammered at the gates of heaven until it seemed as if they would split the golden bolts rather than be turned away. No man ever gets peace until he gets into such a passion of earnestness to be saved, that he cannot find peace until Christ speaks pardon to his soul, and brings him into life and liberty. "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." But this violence does not end when a man finds Christ; it then begins to exercise itself in another way. The man who is pardoned, and who knows it, then becomes violently in love with Christ. He does not love him just a little, but he loves him with all his soul and all his might. He feels as if he could wish to die for Christ, and his heart pants to be able to live alone with his Redeemer, and serve him without interruption. Mark such a man who is a true Christian, mark his prayers, and you will see there is violence in all his supplications when he pleads for the souls of men. Mark his outward actions, and they are violently sincere, violently earnest. Mark him when he preaches: there is no dull droning out of a monotonous discourse, he speaks like a man who means what he says, and who must speak it, or else woe would be unto him if he preached not the gospel. As I look around on many of the churches, yea, on many members of my own church, I am apt to fear that they are not God's children at all, because they have nothing of this holy violence. Have ye ever read Coleridge's Ancient Mariner? I dare say you have thought it one of the strongest imaginations ever put together, especially that part where the old mariner represents the corpses of all the dead men rising up, all of them dead, yet rising up to manage the ship; dead men pulling the ropes, dead men steering, dead men spreading the sails. I thought what a strange idea that was. But do you know I have lived to see that true: I have seen it done. I have gone into churches and I have seen a dead man in the pulpit, and a dead man as a deacon, and a dead man holding the plate at the door, and dead men sitting to hear. You say "Strange!" but I have. I have gone into societies, and I have seen it all going on so regularly. These dead men, you know, never overstep the bounds of prudence, not they: they have not life enough to do that. They always pull the rope orderly, "as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." And the dead man in the pulpit, is he not most regular and precise? He systematically draws his handkerchief from his pocket, and uses it just at the regular period, in the middle of the sermon. He would not think of violating a single rubric that has been laid down by his old-fashioned church. Well, I have seen these churches I know where to point them out and have seen dead men doing everything. "No," says one, "you can't mean it?" Yes, I do, the men were spiritually dead. I have seen the minister preaching, without a particle of life, a sermon, which is only fresh in the sense in which a fish is fresh when it has been packed in ice. I have seen the people sit, and they have listened as if they had been a group of statues the chiseled marble would have been as much affected by the sermon as they I have seen the deacons go about their business just as orderly, and with as much precision as if they had been mere automatons, and not men with hearts and souls at all. Do you think God will ever bless a church that is like that? Are we ever to take the kingdom of heaven with a troop of dead men? Never! We want living ministers, living hearers, living deacons, living elders, and until we have such men who have got the very fire of life burnings in their souls, who have got tongues of life, and eyes of life, and souls of life, we shall never see the kingdom of heaven taken by storm. "For the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Frequently complaints are made and surprise expressed by individuals who have never found a blessing rest upon anything they have attempted to do in the service of God. "I have been a Sunday-school teacher for years," says one, "and I have never seen any of my girls or boys converted." No, and the reason most likely is, you have never been violent about it; you have never been compelled by the Divine Spirit to make up your mind that converted they should be, and no stone should be left unturned until they were. You have never been brought by the Spirit to such a passion, that you have said, "I cannot live unless God bless me; I cannot exist unless I see some of these children saved." Then, falling on your knees in agony of prayer, and putting forth afterwards your trust with the same intensity towards heaven, you would never have been disappointed, "for the violent take it by force." And you too, my brother in the gospel, you have marvelled and wondered why you have not seen souls regenerated. Did you ever expect it? Why, you preach like one who does not believe what he is saying. Those who believe in Christ, may say of you with kind partiality, "Our minister is a dear good man;" but the careless young men that attend your ministry, say, "Does that man expect to make me believe that which he only utters as a dry story, and to convince me when I see him go through the service with all the dulness and monotony of dead routine?" Oh, my brethren, what we want today in the churches is violence, not violence against each other, but violence against death, and hell, against the hardness of other men's hearts, and against the sleepiness of our own. In Martin Luther's time, truly the kingdom of heaven suffered violence. The whole religious world was wide awake. Now, I fear for the most part it is sound asleep. Go where you may, our churches have come to be old-established businesses. They do not care to extend themselves. We must have new blood, nay, we must have new fire from heaven to fall upon the sacrifice, or else, like Baal's priests, we may cut and hack our bodies, and distract our minds in vain; there will be "no voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regardeth." The sacrifice shall lay unburnt upon the altar, and the world will say our God is not the living God, or surely we are not his people, "And thou shalt grope at noon-day, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee." Violent men, then, are those that take the kingdom of heaven by force. II. NOW, BRING THESE VIOLENT MEN FORWARD, AND LET US ASK THEM WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT. When a man is very earnest, he ought to be ready to give a reason for his earnestness. "How now, sirs, what is all this strife about? why all this earnestness? You seem to be boiling over with enthusiasm. What is up? Is there anything that is worth making such a stir about?" Hear them, and they will soon convince you that all their enthusiasm and striving to enter the kingdom of heaven by force, is not a whit more strong than reasonable. The first reason why poor sinners take the kingdom of heaven by force is, because they feel they have no natural right to it; and, therefore, they must need take it by force it they would get it at all. When a man belongs to the House of Lords, and knows that he has got a seat there by prescriptive right and title, he does not trouble himself at the time of the elections. But there is another man, who says, "Well, I should like a seat in the House of Commons, but I have no absolute right to it. If I get it, it will be by a desperate struggle." Do you not see how busy he is on the day! how the carriages fly about everywhere; and how earnest are his supporters that he may stand at the head of the poll and win the day! He says, "I have no absolute right to it; if I had, then I would just take it easy and walk into my seat at the proper time." But now he labors, and strives, and wrestles, because without so doing he does not expect to succeed. Now, look at those who are saved; they have no right to the inheritance they are seeking. What are they? Sinners, the chief of sinners; in their own esteem the vilest of the vile. Now, if they would get heaven they must take it by force, for they have no right to it by birth or lineal entail. And what are they else? They are the poor ones of this earth. There stands the rabbi at the gate, and he says, "You can't come in here; this is no place for the poor to enter." "But," says he. "I will;" and pushing the rabbi aside, he takes it by force. Then, again, they were Gentiles too; and Jews stood at the gate, and said, "Stand back, you Gentile dogs, you cannot come in." Now, if such would be saved, they must take the kingdom of heaven by storm, for they have no rights to assert. Ah, my fellow men, if ye sit down and fold your arms, and say, "I am so good I have a right to heaven," how deceived you will be. But if God has convinced you of your lost, ruined, and undone condition, and if he has put his quickening Spirit within you, you will use a bold and desperate violence to force your way into the kingdom of heaven. The Spirit of God will not lead you to be obsequious in the presence of foes, or faint-hearted in the overwhelming crisis; he will drive you to desperate labour that you may be saved. Ask one such man, again, why is he so violent in prayer; he replies, "Ah, I know the value of the mercy I receive. Why, I am asking for pardon, for heaven, for eternal life, and am I to get these with a few yawns and sleepy prayers? I am asking that I may wear the white robe, and sing the never-ending song of praise; and do you think that a few poor supplications are to be enough? No, my God; if thou wouldst make me tarry a hundred years, and sigh, and groan, and cry through that long century; yes, if I might but have heaven at last, all my prayers would have been well-spent; nay, had they been a thousand times as many, they were well rewarded if thou wouldst hear me at last. But," says he again, "if you want to know why I am so earnest, let me tell you it is because I cannot bear to he lost for ever." Hear the earnest sinner when he speaks. You say to him "Why so earnest?" The tear is in his eye, the flush is on his cheek, there is emotion in every feature, while he says, "Would to God I could be far more earnest; do you know I am a lost soul, perhaps before another hour is over I may be shut up in the hopeless fires of hell! Oh, God, have mercy on me, for if thou dost not, how terrible is my fate. I shall be lost lost for ever! Once let a man know that hell is beneath his feet, and if that does not make him earnest, what would? No wonder that his prayers are importunate, that his endeavours are intensely earnest, when he knows that he must escape, or else the devouring fire will lay hold on him. Suppose now, you had been a Jew in the olden time, and one day while taking a walk in the fields you had seen a man running with all his might. "Stop!" you say, "stop! my dear friend, you will exhaust yourself." He goes on, and on, with all his might. You run after him. "Pause awhile," you say, "and rest; the grass is soft, sit down here, and take your ease. See, here I have some food and a bottle; stop and refresh yourself." But without saluting you, he says, "No, I must away, away, away." "Why? wherefore?" you say. He is gone so far ahead, you run after him with all your might; and scarcely able to turn his head, he exclaims, "The city of refuge! the city of refuge! the manslayer is behind me." Now, it is all accounted for; you do not wonder that he runs with all his might now. When the manslayer is after him, you can well understand that he would never pause for rest until he has found the city of refuge. So let a man know that the devil is behind him, that the avenging law of God is pursuing him, and who can make him stop? Who shall endeavor to make him stay his race until he enters Christ, the city of refuge, and finds himself secure? This will make a man earnest indeed to dread "the wrath to come," and to be labouring to escape therefrom. Another reason why every man who would be safe must be in earnest, and be violent, is this, there are so many adversaries to oppose us, that if we are not violent we shall never be able to overcome them. Do you remember that beautiful parable in John Bunyan's Pilgrim? "I saw also, that the Interpreter took him by the hand, and led him into a pleasant place, where was built a stately palace, beautiful to behold; at the sight of which Christian was greatly delighted. He saw also upon the top thereof certain persons walking, who were clothed all in gold. Then said Christian, 'May we go in thither?' Then the Interpreter took him and led him up toward the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but durst not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his ink-horn before him, to take the name of him that should enter therein; he saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armour to keep it, being resolved to do to the men that would enter what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze. At last, when every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of a very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, Set down my name, sir;' the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet upon his head, and rush toward the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, (Matt. xi. 12. Acts xiv. 22.) he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace; at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying,

'Come in, come in, Eternal glory thou shalt win.'

So he went in, and was clothed with such garments as they." And surely the dreamer saw the truth in his dream. It is even so. If we would win eternal glory we must fight.

"Sure we must fight, if we would reign; Increase our courage, Lord!"

Ye have enemies within you, enemies without, enemies beneath, enemies on every side the world, the flesh, and the devil; and if the Spirit of God has quickened you, he has made a soldier of you, and you can never sheathe your sword till you gain the victory. The man who would be saved must be violent, because of the opposition he has to encounter. But do you still condemn this man, and say that he is an enthusiast and a fanatic? Then God himself comes forth to vindicate his despised servant. Know that this is the sign, the mark of distinction between the true child of God and the bastard-professor. The men who are not God's children are a careless, stumbling, coldhearted race. But the men that are God's in sincerity and truth, are burning as well as shining lights. They are as brilliant constellations in the firmament of heaven, burning stars of God. Of all things in the world, God hates most the man that is neither hot nor cold. Better have no religion than have a little: better to be altogether without it, enemies to it, than to have just enough to make you respectable, but not enough to make you earnest. What does God say concerning the religion of this day? "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Lukewarmness of all things God abhors, and yet of all things it is the predominant mark of the present day. The time of the Methodists, of Whitfield and Wesley, was a time indeed of fire and of divine violence and vigour. But we have gradually cooled down, now, into a delightful consistency, and though here and there there is a little breaking out of the old desperado spirit of the Christian religion, yet for the most part the world has so mesmerised the church, that she is as nearly asleep as she can be; and much of her teaching, and much of the doings of her religious societies, is sheer somnambulism. It is not the wide-awake earnestness of them that walk with their eyes open. They walk in their sleep; very nimbly they walk, too and very nicely they "trim their way," but very little is there of the life of God in aught they do, and very little of divine success attending their agencies, because they are not violent with regard to the matters of the kingdom of God. III. Having thus endeavoured to screen the violent men from harsh criticism, I shall now invite you for a moment to reflect, that THE VIOLENT MAN IS ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL. Do you think you are going to be carried to heaven on a feather bed? Have you got a notion in your heads that the road to paradise is all a lawn, the grass smoothly mown, still waters and green pastures ever and anon to cheer you? You have just got to clear your heads of that deceitful fancy. The way to heaven is up hill and down hill; up hill with difficulty, down hill with trials. It is through fire and through water, through flood and through flame, by the lions and by the leopards. Through the very mouths of dragons is the path to paradise. But the man who finds it so, and who desperately resolves in the strength of God to tread that path nay, who does not resolve as if he could do nothing else but resolve, but who feels driven, as if with a hurricane behind him, to go into the right road, this man is never unsuccessful, never. Where God has given a violent anxiety for salvation he never disappoints it. No soul that has ever cried for it with a violent cry has been disappointed. From the beginning of creation until now there has never been raised to the throne of God a violent and earnest prayer which missed its answer. Go, soul, in the strong confidence that if thou goest earnestly thou goest successfully. God may sooner deny himself than deny the request of an earnest man. Our God may sooner cease to be "the Lord God, gracious and merciful," than cease to bless the men who seek the gates of heaven, with the violence of faith and prayer. Oh, reflect, that all the saints above have been led by divine grace to wrestle hard as we do now with sins, and doubts, and fears. They had no smooth path to glory. They had to dispute every inch of the way at the sword's point. So must you: and as surely as you are enabled to do so, so surely will you conquer. Only the violent are saved, and all the violent are saved. When God makes a man violent after salvation, that man cannot perish. The gates of heaven may sooner be unhinged than that man be robbed of the prize for which he has fought. IV. And, now I have to close, for I find my voice fails me this morning, when most I need it. I have to close abruptly by endeavouring earnestly TO EXCITE EACH OF YOU TO A VIOLENCE AFTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. In this great crowd there are surely some of the class I am about to describe. There is one man here who says, "I don't know that I have done much amiss in my life: I am about as regular a man as there is living. Don't I attend a place of worship regularly? I believe that l shall most certainly be saved. But I don't take much trouble about it, it never disquiets me particularly. I don't like" says this man " that intrusive kind of religion that always seems to be thrusting itself in everybody's way. I think it is quite right that people should go to their place of worship, but why take any further trouble? I just believe that I shall fare as other people fare: I am a steady unpretending sort of man, and I have no reason to doubt that I shall be saved." Ah, friend, you have never seen the gate of heaven? It is obvious that you have never seen it, or else you would know better; for at the gate of heaven multitudes are struggling, the gates of heaven are thronged, and he that would enter there must press, and elbow, and push, or he may go away certain that he can never enter. No! your easy religion will just bring you in too late. It may carry you nine miles out of ten; but what is the good of that to a man who must perish unless he is carried the whole way? It will go a good way with you when you follow the counsels of a gospel ministry with outward propriety; but at the bar of God it will utterly fail you, when you lack the inward witness of strong crying and supplications. No! an easy religion is the way to hell, for it is not the way to heaven. Let your soul alone, and you need not expect much good fruit to come of it, any more than a farmer who leaves his fields alone, need expect to reap a harvest. Your religion is vain and futile if that is all. "Ah" cries another "but I am in quite a different case. I am a sinner so vile, sir, that I know I never can be saved, therefore, what is the use? I never think about it now, except with blank despair. Have I not long rebelled against God; will he ever pardon me? No, no; don't exhort me to try. I may as well take my full swing of pleasure while I am here, for I feel I never shall enjoy the pleasures of heaven hereafter." Stop friend, "The violent take it by force." If the Lord has taught thee thy utter sinfulness, go and try say,

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

Go home, go to your closet, fall on your knees, put your trust alone in Christ and, my friend, if the Lord does not have mercy upon you, then he is not the God we have preached to you, and he has not substantiated his faithful promise: you cannot, you shall not seek in vain. But mark, you must not think that your once seeking is enough; continue in it. If God has given you his Spirit you will continue you will never leave off praying until you get the answer. Oh! my friend, if God hath given thee this day a longing after his love; if he has caused thee to say, "I will never give it up, I will perish at the foot of the cross if I perish at all;" thou canst no more perish than the angels in Paradise. Be of good cheer; use violence again and again, and thou shalt take it by force. And then, let each one of us as we retire, and if we have tasted that the Lord is precious, determine to love him more earnestly than before. I never leave my pulpit washout feeling ashamed of myself. I do not remember a time when I have been able to go home without being suffused with humiliation and cast down with self-reproach, because I had not been more earnest. I very seldom flog myself for using an ugly word, or anything of that sort; it is for not having been earnest enough about the salvation of men. When I sit down, I begin to think of this vast stream of people being swept along towards the gulf of eternity bound for heaven or hell; and I wonder how it is that I do not weep all the time I am here why it is that I do not find red-hot burning words with which to address you. I find fault with others sometimes, but far more with myself in this matter. Oh! how is it that a man can be God's ambassador, and yet have so callous, so insensitive a heart, as many of us have in this work? Oh! how is it that we tell the tale of death and life, of heaven and hell, of Christ crucified and his gospel despised, so quietly as we do? Condemn not the minister for excitement or fanaticism; condemn him because he is not half in earnest, as he ought to be. Oh my God! impress me, I beseech thee, more with the value of souls, and then impress my hearers, also, with the value of their own souls. Are you not going to-day, many of you, post-haste to perdition? Is it not the fact, that your conscience tells you that many of you are enemies to God? You are without Christ, you have never been washed in his blood; never been forgiven. Oh! my hearers, if ye continue as ye are, a few more rising suns, and then your sun must set for ever. Only a few more Sundays have you to waste, a few more sermons have you to hear, and the pit of hell must open wide its jaws, and then where are you? But a few more days, and the heavens shall be rent, and Christ shall come to judge the earth, and sinner where are you? Oh! I beseech you now by the living God, and by his Son Jesus Christ, think of your state; repent of your sins; turn you to God. Oh Spirit of God, turn, I pray thee, turn the hearts of sinners now. Remember, if you now repent, if you now confess your sins, Christ is preached to you. He came into the world to save sinners. Oh! believe on him; throw yourselves before his cross; trust in his blood; rely on his righteousness,

"But if your ears refuse The language of his grace, And hearts grow hard like stubborn Jews, That unbelieving race;

The Lord, in vengeance dress'd, Will lift his hand and swear, 'You that despise my promised rest, Shall have no portion there.'"

Oh! if I had the tongue of Whitfield, or the mouth of an archangel, if I could speak like the cherubim, I would pour out my heart before you, and pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. I must face you soon before God's great bar, and shall your blood be laid to my door? Shall you perish, and must I perish with you for unfaithfulness? May God forbid it! Now may he

"Let you see your lost estate, And save you ere it be too late, Wake you to righteousness."

Lord have mercy upon you all for Jesus' sake!

Verse 5

Preaching for the Poor

January 25, 1857 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"The poor have the gospel preached to them." Matthew 11:5 .

John, the forerunner of Christ, had some followers who continued with him after Christ had come in the flesh, and openly manifested himself among the people. These disciples were in doubt as to whether Jesus was the Messiah or no. I believe that John himself had no doubt whatever upon the matter, for he had received positive revelations, and had given substantial testimonies on the subject. But in order to relieve their doubts, John said to his disciples, in some such words, "Go and ask him yourselves;" and, therefore, he dispatched them with this message, "Tell us whether thou art he that should come, or do we look for another?" Jesus Christ continuing his preaching for a while, said, "Stay and receive your answer;" and instead of giving them an affirmative reply, "I am that Messiah," he said, "Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." As much as to say, "That is my answer; these things are my testimonies on the one hand, that I come from God, and, on the other hand, that I am the Messiah ." You will see the truth and force of this reply, if you will observe that it was prophesied of the Messiah, that he should do the very things which Jesus at that moment was doing. It is said of Messias, in the 35th chap. of Isaiah, at the 5th and 6th verses, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert." The Jews had forgotten this too much; they only looked for a Messiah who should be clothed with temporal grandeur and dignity, and they overlooked the teaching of Isaiah, that he should be "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." And besides that, you observe, they overlooked the miracles which it was prophesied should attend the coming of the glorious one, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus gave this as his answer a practical demonstration of John's problem, proving to an absolute certainty. But he not only referred to the miracles, he gave them a further proof "The poor have the gospel preached to them." This, also, was one evidence that he was Messias. For Isaiah, the great Messianic prophet, had said, "He shall preach the gospel unto the meek;" that is, the poor. And in that Jesus did so, it was proved that he was the man intended by Isaiah. Besides, Zechariah mentions the congregation of the poor who attend on him, and therein evidently foretold the coming of Jesus Christ, the preacher to the poor.

I shall not, however, dwell upon these circumstances this morning; it must be apparent to every hearer, that here is sufficient proof that Jesus Christ is the person who had been foretold under the name of Shiloh, or Messiah. We all believe that , and, therefore, there is little need that I should try to prove what you have already received. I rather select my text this morning as one of the constant marks of the gospel in all ages and in every land. "The poor have the gospel preached to them." This is to be its semper idem its constant stamp. And we believe, where the poor have not the gospel preached unto them, there is a departure from the dispensation of the gospel, the forsaking of this which was to be a fundamental trait and characteristic of the gospel dispensation: "The poor have the gospel preached to them."

I find that these words will bear three translations; I shall, therefore, have three heads, which shall be composed of three translations of the text. The first is that of the authorised version : "The poor have the gospel preached to them;" it is also Tyndal's version. The second is the version of Crammer, and the version of Geneva , which is the best, "The poor are evangelized," that is to say, they not only hear the gospel, but they are influenced by it; the poor receive it. The last is a translation of some eminent writers , and above all, of Wyckliffe , which amused me when I read it, although I believe it to be as correct as any of the others. Wyckliffe translates it "pore men ben taken to prechynge of the gospel." The verb may be equally well translated in the active as in the passive sense: "The poor have taken to the preaching of the gospel." That is to be one of the marks of the gospel dispensation in all times.

I. First, then, THE AUTHORISED VERSION, "The poor have the gospel preached to them." It was so in Christ's day; it is to be so with Christ's gospel to the end of time. Almost every impostor who has come into the world has aimed principally at the rich, and the mighty, and the respectable; very few impostors have found it to be worth their while to make it prominent in their preaching that they preach to the poor. They went before princes to promulgate their doctrines; they sought the halls of nobles where they might expatiate upon their pretended revelations. Few of them thought it worth their while to address themselves to those who have been most wickedly called "the swinish multitude," and to speak to them the glorious things of the gospel of Christ. But it is one delightful mark of Christ's dispensation, that he aims first at the poor. "The poor have the gospel preached to them." It was wise in him to do so. If we would fire a building, it is best to light it at the basement; so our Saviour, when he would save a world, and convert men of all classes, and all ranks, begins at the lowest rank, that the fire may burn upwards, knowing right well that what was received by the poor, will ultimately by his grace be received by the rich also. Nevertheless, he chose this to be given to his disciples, and to be the mark of his gospel "The poor have the gospel preached to them." Now, I have some things to say this morning, which I think are absolutely necessary, if the poor are to have the gospel preached unto them.

In the first place, let me say then, that the gospel must be preached where the poor can come and hear it . How can the poor have the gospel preached to them, if they cannot come and listen to it? And yet how many of our places of worship are there into which they cannot come, and into which, if they could come, they would only come as inferior creatures. They may sit in the back seats, but are not to be known and recognised as anything like other people. Hence the absolute necessity of having places of worship large enough to accommodate the multitude; and hence, moreover, the obligation to go out into the highways and hedges. If the poor are to have the gospel preached unto them, then we must take it where they can get it. If I wanted to preach to English people, it would be of no use for me to go and stand on one of the peaks of the Himalayas, and begin preaching; they could not hear me there. And it is of little avail to build a gorgeous structure for a fashionable congregation, and then to think of preaching to the poor; they cannot come any more than the Hottentots can make their journey from Africa and listen to me here. I should not expect them to come to such a place, nor will they willingly enter it. The gospel should be preached, then, where the poor will come; and if they will not come after it, then let it be taken to them. We should have places where there is accommodation for them, and where they are regarded and respected as much as any other rank and condition of men. It is with this view alone that I have laboured earnestly to be the means of building a large place of worship, because I feel that although the bulk of my congregation in New Park-street Chapel are poor, yet there are many poor who can by no possibility enter the doors, because we cannot find room for the multitudes to be received. You ask me why I do not preach in the street. I reply, I would do so, and am constantly doing so in every place except London, but here I cannot do it, since it would amount to an absolute breach of the peace, it being impossible to conceive what a multitude of people must necessarily be assembled. I trembled when I saw twelve thousand on the last occasion I preached in the open air; therefore I have thought it best, for the present at least, to desist, until happily there shall be fewer to follow me. Otherwise my heart is in the open air movement; I practise it everywhere else, and I pray God to give to our ministers zeal and earnestness, that they may take the gospel into the streets, highways and byeways, and compel the people to come in, that the house may be filled. Oh that God would give us this characteristic mark of his precious grace, that the poor might have the gospel preached unto them!

"But," you reply, "there are plenty of churches and chapels to which they might come." I answer, yes, but that is only one half of the matter. The gospel must be preached attractively before the poor will have the gospel preached unto them. Why, there is no attraction in the gospel to the great mass of our race, as it is currently preached. I confess that when I have a violent headache, and cannot sleep, I could almost wish for some droning minister to preach to me; I feel certain I could go to sleep then, for I have heard some under the soporific influence of whose eloquence I could most comfortably snore. But it is not at all likely that the poor will ever go to hear such preachers as these. If they are preached to in fine terms in grandiloquent language which they cannot lay hold of the poor will not have the gospel preached to them, for they will not go to hear it. They must have something attractive to them; we must preach as Christ did; we must tell anecdotes, and stories, and parables, as he did; we must come down and make the gospel attractive. The reason why the old puritan preachers could get congregations was this they did not give their hearers dry theology; they illustrated it; they had an anecdote from this and a quaint passage from that classic author; here a verse of poetry; here and there even a quip or pun a thing which now-a-days is a sin above all sins, but which was constantly committed by these preachers, whom I have ever esteemed as the patterns of pulpit eloquence. Christ Jesus was an attractive preacher; he sought above all means to set the pearl in a frame of gold, that it might attract the attention of the people. He was not willing to place himself in a parish church, and preach to a large congregation of thirteen and a-half, like our good brethren in the city, but would preach in such a style that people felt they must go to hear him. Some of them gnashed their teeth in rage and left his presence in wrath, but the multitudes still thronged to him to hear and to be healed. It was no dull work to hear this King of preachers, he was too much in earnest to be dull, and too humane to be incomprehensible. I believe that until this is imitated, the poor will not have the gospel preached to them. There must be an interesting style adopted, to bring the people to hear. But if we adopt such a style they will call us clownish, vulgar, and so on. Blessed be God, we have long learnt that vulgarity is a very different thing from what some men suppose. We have been so taught, that we are willing to be even clowns for Christ's sake, and so long as we are seeing souls saved we are not likely to alter our course. During this last week I have seen, I believe, a score of persons who have been in the lowest ranks, the very meanest of sinners, the greatest of transgressors, who have, through preaching in this place, been restored and reclaimed. Do you think then I shall shear my locks to please the Philistine? Oh, no; by the grace of God, Samson knoweth where his strength lieth, and is not likely to do that to please any man or any set of men. Preaching must reach the popular ear; and to get at the people it must be interesting to them, and by the grace of God we hope it shall be.

But, in the next place, if the poor are to have the gospel preached unto them, it must be preached simply . It is a waste of time to preach Latin to you, is it not? To the multitude of people it is of no use delivering a discourse in Greek. Possibly five or six of the assembly might be mightily edified, and go away delighted; but what of that? The mass would retire unedified and uninstructed. You talk about the education of the people, don't you, and about the vast extent of English refinement? For the most part it is a dream. Ignorance is not buried yet. The language of one class of Englishmen is a dead language to another class; and many a word which is very plain to many of us, is as hard and difficult a word to the multitude as if it had been culled out of Hindostani or Bengali. There are multitudes who cannot understand words composed of Latin, but must have the truth told them in round homely Saxon, if it is to reach their hearts. There is my friend the Rev. So-and-so, Doctor of Divinity; he is a great student, and whenever he finds a hard word in his books he tells it next Sunday to his congregation. He has a little intellectual circle, who think his preaching must be good, because they cannot understand it, and who think it proven that he must be an intelligent man because all the pews are empty. They believe he must be a very useful member of society; in fact, they compare him to Luther, and think he is a second Paul, because nobody will listen to him, seeing it is impossible to understand him. Well, we conceive of that good man that he may have a work to do, but we do not know what it is. There is another friend of ours, Mr. Cloudyton, who always preaches in such a style that if you should try to dissect the sermon for a week afterwards, you could by no possibility tell what he meant. If you could look at things from his point of view you might possibly discover something; but it does appear by his preaching as if he himself had lost his way in a fog, and were scattering a whole mass of mist about him everywhere. I suppose he goes so deep down into the subject that he stirs the mud at the bottom, and he cannot find his way up again. There are some such preachers, whom you cannot possibly understand. Now, we say, and say very boldly too, that while such preaching may be esteemed by some people to be good, we have no faith in it all. If ever the world is to be reclaimed, and if sinners are to be saved, we can see no likelihood in the world of its being done by such means. We think the word must be understood before it can really penetrate the conscience and the heart; and we would always be preaching such as men can understand, otherwise the poor will not "have the gospel preached to them." Why did John Bunyan become the apostle of Bedfordshire, and Huntingdonshire, and round about? It was because John Bunyan, while he had a surpassing genius, would not condescend to cull his language from the garden of flowers, but he went into the hayfield and the meadow, and plucked up his language by the roots, and spoke out in words that the people used in their cottages. Why is it that God has blessed other men to the stirring of the people, to the bringing about of spiritual revivals, to the renewal of the power of godliness? We believe it has always been owing to this under God's Spirit that they have adopted the phraseology of the people, and have not been ashamed to be despised because they talked as common people did.

But now we have something to say more important than this. We may preach, very simply too, and very attractively, and yet it may not be true that "the poor have the gospel preached to them," for the poor may have something else preached to them beside the gospel. It is, then, highly important that we should each of us ask what the gospel is, and that when we think we know it we should not be ashamed to say, "This is the gospel, and I will preach it boldly, though all men should deny it." Oh! I fear that there is such a thing as preaching another gospel, "which is not another, but there be some that trouble us." There is such a thing as preaching science and philosophy attractively, but not preaching the gospel. Mark, it is not preaching, but it is preaching the gospel that is the mark of Christ's dispensation and of his truth. Let us take care to preach fully the depravity of man, let us dwell thoroughly upon his lost and ruined estate under the law, and his restoration under the gospel; let us preach of these three things, for, as a good brother said, "The gospel lies in three things, the Word of God only, the blood of Christ only, and the Holy Spirit only." These three things make up the gospel. "The Bible; the Bible alone the religion of Protestants; the blood of Christ the only salvation from sin, the only means of the pardon of our guilt; and the Holy Spirit the only regenerator, the only converting power that will alone work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure." Without these three things there is no gospel. Let us take heed, then, for it is a serious matter, that when the people listen to us, it is the gospel that we preach, or else we may be as guilty as was Nero, the tyrant, who, when Rome was starving, sent his ships to Alexandria, where there was corn in plenty, not for wheat, for sand to scatter in the arena for his gladiators. Ah! there be some who seem to do so scattering the floor of their sanctuary, not with the good corn of the kingdom, upon which the souls of God's people may feed and grow thereby, but with sand of controversy, and of logic, which no child of God can ever receive to his soul's profit. "The poor have the gospel preached to them." Let us take heed that it is the gospel. Hear then, ye chief of sinners, the voice of Jesus. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." "Whosoever believeth and is baptized, shall be saved." "For the Son of man is come to seek and save that which is lost."

And just one more hint on this point, namely, this, it must be said of us, if we would keep true to Christ's rule and apostolic practice, that "the poor have the gospel preached to them." In these days there is a growing hatred of the pulpit. The pulpit has maintained its ground full many a year, but partially by its becoming inefficient, it is losing its high position. Through a timid abuse of it, instead of a strong stiff use of the pulpit, the world has come to despise it; and now most certainly we are not a priest-ridden people one-half so much as we are press-ridden people. By the press we are ridden indeed. Mercuries, Despatches, Journals, Gazettes and Magazines, are now the judges of pulpit eloquence and style. They thrust themselves into the censor's seat, and censure those whose office it should rather be to censure them. For my own part, I cheerfully accord to all men the liberty of abusing me; but I must protest against the lying conduct of at least one editor, who has misquoted in order to pervert my meaning, and has done more; he has, to his eternal disgrace, manufactured a quotation from his own head, which never did occur in my works or words. The pulpit has become dishonoured; it is esteemed as being of very little worth and of no esteem. Ah! we must always maintain the dignity of the pulpit. I hold that it is the Thermopylae of Christendom; it is here the battle must be fought between right and wrong not so much with the pen, valuable as that is as an assistant, as with the living voice of earnest men, "contending earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints." In some churches the pulpit is put away; there is a prominent altar, but the pulpit is omitted. Now, the most prominent thing under the gospel dispensation is not the altar which belonged to the Jewish dispensation, but the pulpit. "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle;" that altar is Christ; but Christ has been pleased to exalt "the foolishness of preaching" to the most prominent position in his house of prayer. We must take heed that we always maintain preaching. It is this that God will bless; it is this that he has promised to crown with success. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." We must not expect to see great changes nor any great progress of the gospel until there is greater esteem for the pulpit more said of it and thought of it. "Well," some may reply, "you speak of the dignity of the pulpit; I take it, you lower it yourself, sir, by speaking in such a style to your hearers." Ah! no doubt you think so. Some pulpits die of dignity. I take it, the greatest dignity in the world is the dignity of converts that the glory of the pulpit is, if I may use such a metaphor, to have captives at its chariot-wheels, to see converts following it, and where there are such, and those from the very worst of men; there is a dignity in the pulpit beyond any dignity which a fine mouthing of words and a grand selection of fantastic language could ever give to it. "The poor have the gospel preached to them."

II. now, the next translation is, THE TRANSLATION OF GENEVA, principally used by Calvin in his commentary; and it is also the translation of Thomas Crammer, whose translation, I believe, was at least in some degree moulded by the Genevan translation. He translates it thus: "The poor receive the gospel." The Genevan translation has it, "The poor receive the glad tidings of the gospel," which is a tautology, since glad tidings mean the same thing as gospel. The Greek has it, "The poor are evangelised." Now, what is the meaning of this word "evangelised?" They talk with a sneer in these days of evangelical drawing-rooms and evangelicals, and so on. It is one of the most singular sneers in the world; for to call a man an evangelical by way of joke, is the same as calling a man a gentleman by way of scoffing at him. To say a man is one of the gospellers by way of scorn, is like calling a man a king by way of contempt. It is an honourable, a great, a glorious title, and nothing is more honourable than to be ranked among the evangelicals. What is meant, then, by the people being evangelised? Old Master Burkitt, thinking that we should not easily understand the word, says, that as a man is said to be Italianised by living among the Italians, getting their manners and customs, and becoming a citizen of the state, so a man is evangelised when he lives where the gospel is preached and gets the manners and customs of those who profess it. Now, that is one meaning of the text. One of the proofs of our Saviour's mission is not only that the poor hear the Word, but are influenced by it and are gospelized. Oh! how great a work it is to gospelize any man, and to gospelize a poor man. What does it mean? It means, to make him like the gospel. Now, the gospel is holy, just, and true, and loving, and honest, and benevolent, and kind, and gracious. So, then, to gospelize a man is to make a rogue honest, to make a harlot modest, to make a profane man serious, to make a grasping man liberal, to make a covetous man benevolent, to make the drunken man sober, to make the untruthful man truthful, to make the unkind man loving, to make the hater the lover of his species, and, in a word, to gospelize a man is, in his outward character, to bring him into such a condition that he labours to carry out the command of Christ, "Love thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself." Gospelizing, furthermore, has something to do with an inner principle; gospelizing a man means saving him from hell and making him a heavenly character; it means blotting out his sins, writing a new name upon his heart the new name of God. It means bringing him to know his election, to put his trust in Christ, to renounce his sins, and his good works too, and to trust solely and wholly upon Jesus Christ as his Redeemer. Oh! what a blessed thing it is to be gospelized! How many of you have been so gospelized? The Lord grant that the whole of us may feel the influence of the gospel. I contend for this, that to gospelize a man is the greatest miracle in the world. All the other miracles are wrapped up in this one. To gospelize a man, or, in other words, to convert him, is a greater work than to open the eyes of the blind; for is it not opening the eyes of the blind soul that he may see spiritual matters, and understand the things of heavenly wisdom, and is not a surgical operation easier than operation on the soul? Souls we cannot touch, although science and skill have been able to remove films and cataracts from the eyes. "The lame walk." Gospelizing a man is more than this. It is not only making a lame man walk, but it is making a dead man who could not walk in the right way walk in the right way ever afterwards. "The lepers are cleansed." Ah! but to cleanse a sinner is greater work than cleansing a leper. "The deaf hear." Yes, and to make a man who never listened to the voice of God hear the voice of his Maker, is a miracle greater than to make the deaf hear, or even to raise the dead. Great though that be, it is not a more stupendous effort of divine power than to save a soul, since men are naturally dead in sins, and must be quickened by divine grace if they are saved. To gospelize a man is the highest instance of divine might, and remains an unparalleled miracle, a miracle of miracles. "The poor are evangelized."

Beloved, there have been some very precious specimens of poor people who have come under the influence of the gospel. I think I appeal to the hearts of all of you who are now present, when I say there is nothing we more reverence and respect than the piety of the poor and needy. I had an engraving sent to me the other day which pleased me beyond measure. It was an engraving simply but exquisitely executed. It represented a poor girl in an upper room, with a lean-to roof. There was a post driven in the ground, on which was a piece of wood, standing on which were a candle and a Bible. She was on her knees at a chair, praying, wrestling with God. Everything in the room had on it the stamp of poverty. There was the mean coverlet to the old stump bedstead; there were the walls that had never been papered, and perhaps scarcely whitewashed. It was an upper story to which she had climbed with aching knees, and where perhaps she had worked away till her fingers were worn to the bone to earn her bread at needlework. There it was that she was wrestling with God. Some would turn away and laugh at it; but it appeals to the best feelings of man, and moves the heart far more than does the fine engraving of the monarch on his knees in the grand assembly. We have had lately a most excellent volume, the Life of Captain Hedley Vicars; it is calculated to do great good, and I pray God to bless it; but I question whether the history of Captain Hedley Vicars will last as long in the public mind as the history of the Dairyman's Daughter, or the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain. The histories of those who have come from the ranks of the poor always lay hold of the Christian mind. Oh! we love piety anywhere; we bless God where coronets and grace go together; but if piety in any place do shine more brightly than anywhere else, it is in rags and poverty. When the poor woman in the almshouse takes her bread and her water, and blessed God for both when the poor creature who has not where to lay his head, yet lifts his eye and says, "My Father will provide," it is then like the glow-worm in the damp leaves, a spark the more conspicuous for the blackness around it. Then religion gleams in its true brightness, and is seen in all its lustre. It is a mark of Christ's gospel that the poor are gospelized that they can receive the gospel. True it is, the gospel affects all ranks, and is equally adapted to them all; but yet we say, "If one class be more prominent than another, we believe that in Holy Scripture the poor are most of all appealed to." "Oh!" say some very often, "the converts whom God has given to such a man are all from the lower ranks; they are all people with no sense; they are all uneducated people that hear such-and-such a person." Very well, if you say so; we might deny it if we pleased, but we do not know that we shall take the trouble, because we think it no disgrace whatever; we think it rather to be an honour that the poor are evangelized, and that they listen to the gospel from our lips. I have never thought it a disgrace at any time. When any have said, "Look, what a mass of uneducated people they are." Yes, I have thought, and blessed be God they are, for those are the very people that want the gospel most. If you saw a physician's door surrounded by a number of ladies of the sentimental school, who are sick about three times a week, and never were ill at all if it were said he cured them, you would say, "No great wonder too, for there never was anything the matter with them." But if you heard of another man, that people with the worst diseases have come to him, and that God has made use of him, and his medicine has been the means of healing their diseases, you would then say, "There is something in it, for the people that want it most have received it." If, then, it be true that the poor will come to hear the gospel more than others, it is no disgrace to the gospel, it is an honour to it, that those who most want it do freely receive it.

III. And now I must close up by briefly dwelling on the last point. It was the third translation, WYCKLIFFE'S TRANSLATION. To give it you in old English "Poor men are taking to the preaching of the gospel." "Ah!" say some, "they had better remain at home, minding their ploughs or their blacksmith's hammer; they had better have kept on which their tinkering and tailoring, and not have turned preachers." But it is one of the honours of the gospel that poor men have taken to the preaching of it. There was a tinker once, and let the worldly-wise blush when they hear of it there was a tinker once, a tinker of whom a great divine said he would give all his learning if he could preach like him. There was a tinker once, who never so much as brushed his back against the walls of a college, who wrote a "Pilgrim's Progress. Did ever a doctor in divinity write such a book. There was a pot-boy once a boy who carried on his back the pewter pots for his mother, who kept the Old Bell. That man drove men mad, as the world had it, but led them to Christ, as we have it, all his life long, until, loaded with honours, he sank into his grave, with the good will of a multitude round about him, with an imperishable name written in the world's records, as well as in the records of the church. Did you ever hear of any mighty man, whose name stood in more esteem among God's people than the name of George Whitfield? And yet these were poor men, who, as Wyckliffe said, were taking to the preaching of the gospel. If you will read the life of Wyckliffe, you will find him saying there, that he believed that the Reformation in England was more promoted by the labours of the poor men whom he sent out from Lutterworth than by his own. He gathered round him a number of the poor people whom he instructed in the faith, and then he sent them two and two into every village, as Jesus did. They went into the market-place, and they gathered the people around; they opened the book and read a chapter, and then they left them a manuscript of it which for months and years after the people would assemble to read, and would remember the gospellers that had come to tell them the gospel of Christ. These men went from market-place to market-place, from town to town, and from village to village, and though their names are unknown to fame, they were the real reformers. You may talk of Cranmer, and Latimer, and Ridley; they did much, but the real reformers of the English nation were people whose names have perished from the annals of time, but are written in the records of eternity. God has blessed the poor man in preaching the truth. Far be it from me to depreciate learning and wisdom. We should not have had the Bible translated without learning and the more learning a man can have, if he be a sanctified man, the better; he has so many more talents to lay out in his Master's service; but it is not absolutely necessary for preaching of the Word. Rough, untamed, untaught energy, has done much in the church. A Boanerges has stood up in a village; he could not put three words together in grammatical English; but where the drowsy parson had for many a year lulled all his people into an unhallowed rest, this man started up, like the herdsman Amos, and brought about a great awakening. He began to preach in some cottage; people thronged around him, then a house was built, and his name is handed down to use as the Rev. So-and-so, but then he was known as Tom the ploughman, or John the tinker. God has made use of men whose origin was the most obscure, who seemed to have little, except the gifts of nature, which could be made use of in God's service; and we hold that this is no disgrace, but on the contrary an honour, that poor men are taking to preaching the gospel.

I have to ask you this morning to help some poor men in preaching the gospel. We are constantly receiving letters from our poor brethren, and it is very seldom that we say "No," to their appeals for assistance, but we must do so, unless our friends, more especially those who love the gospel, really will do something towards the maintenance of God's faithful servants. I have, during the past year, preached many times for ministers on this ground, that they could not live unless some preached a sermon and made a collection for them. In some places the population was so small that they could not maintain their minister, and in others it was a new movement, and therefore they were unable to support him. Some of you subscribe to the Church Pastoral Aid Society. That is a very excellent society, but I never could see any good in it. There are many poor clergy in the Church of England who want assistance bad enough; but if you want to know the right way of keeping poor curates, I will tell you. Split a bishop up into fifty, and that will do it. If that could be done at once and speedily, there would be no need of Pastoral Aid Societies. You will say, perhaps, "Let such a thing be done in our denomination." I answer that we have no bishops with whom such a thing could be done. I believe there is not to be found one minister in the whole Baptist denomination whose salary has ever exceeded £600, and there are only three, I believe, who receive as much as that, of which I am not one, and these three men are in such a position that their demands are great, and they have not one penny too much, while the great mass of our denomination receive £20, £30, £40, £50, £60, and so on, but below £100. The sum collected to-day will be given to those whose incomes are below £80, and whose needs are great.

And now, beloved, I have opened my mouth for the dumb, and pleaded the cause of the poor, let me end by entreating the poor of the flock to consider the poor man's Christ; let me urge them to give Him their thoughts, and may the Lord enable them to yield him their hearts. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

May God bless the high and low, the rich and poor; yea, all of you, for his name's sake. Amen.

Verse 12

Holy Violence

May 15th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force," Matthew 11:12 .

When John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea, the throng of people who pressed around him became extremely violent to get near enough to hear his voice. Often when our Saviour preached did the like scene occur. We find that the multitudes were immense beyond all precedent. He seemed to drain every city, every town, and every village, as he went along preaching the word of the gospel. These people, moreover, not like our common church-and-chapel-goers, content to hear, if they could, and yet more content to keep without hearing, if it were possible, were extremely earnest to get near enough to hear anyhow. So intense was their desire to hear the Saviour that they pressed upon him, insomuch that they trod one upon another. The crowd became so violent to approach his person, that some of the weaker ones were cast down and trodden upon. Now, our Saviour, when he witnessed all this struggling round about to get near him, said, "This is just a picture of what is done spiritually by those who will be saved. As you press and throng about me," said Christ, "and thrust one another, with arm and elbow, to get within reach of my voice, even so must it be if ye would be saved, 'For the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.'" He pictured to himself a crowd of souls desiring to get to the living Saviour. He saw them press, and crowd, and throng, and thrust, and tread on one another, in their anxious desire to get at him. He warned his hearers, that unless they had this earnestness in their souls, they would never reach him savingly; but if they had it, they should certainly be saved. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." "But," says one, "do you wish us to understand, that if a man is to be saved he must use violence and vehement earnestness in order to obtain salvation?" I do, most assuredly; that is the doctrine of the text. "But," says one, "I thought it was all the work of God." So it is, from first to last. But when God has begun the work in the soul, the constant effect of God's work in us is to set us working; and where God's Spirit is really striving with us, we shall begin to strive too. This is just a test whereby we may distinguish the men who have received the Spirit of God, from those who have not received it. Those who have received the Spirit in verity and truth are violent men. They have a violent anxiety to be saved, and they violently strive that they may enter in at the strait gate. Well they know that seeking to enter in is not enough, for many shall seek to enter in but shall not be able, and therefore do they strive with might and main. I shall this morning, first, direct your attention to these violent men. Look at them. Secondly, we shall show their conduct. What makes them so violent? Are they justified in this impetuous vehemence? We shall next rejoice in the fact, that they are sure to be successful in their violence. And then, I shall endeavour to arouse in your hearts, by the help of God's Holy Spirit, that holy violence, without which the gates of heaven will be shut in your teeth, and you will never be able to enter the pearly portals of Paradise. 1. First then, LET US LOOK AT THESE VIOLENT MEN. Understand that what they are, they have been made by divine grace. They are not so naturally of themselves. But there has been a secret work of grace in them, and then they have become violent men. Look at these violent men, who are violently in earnest to be saved. You will observe them when they come up to the house of God; there is no yawning with them, no listlessness or inattention, no imagination that if they do but sit in the place the hour-and-a-half which is regularly allotted to divine worship, they will have done enough. No; they hear with both their ears, and they look with both their eyes, and all through the service they have an intense desire that they may find Christ. Meet them as they go up to the house of prayer, and ask them why they are going there. They know right well what they are going after. "I am going there to find mercy, and to find peace and rest to my soul; for I am in anguish about sin, and I want to find the Saviour; I am in hopes that being in the way the Lord will meet with me, so I am about to lay myself down by the side of the pool of Bethesda, in the hope that the Holy Spirit will stir the pool and enable me to step in." You do not find these people like the most of modern hearers, critical, or else careless. No; they are all awake to see whether there is not something to be had which may be a balm to their wearied spirits, and a cordial to their troubled breasts. Mark these violent people after they have gone home. They go to their chambers and they begin to pray; not that prayer between sleeping and waking that some of you are used to attend to, not that drowsy supplication which never gets beyond the ceiling of your bedroom; but they fall on their knees and with a holy anxiety they begin to cry, "Lord, save or I perish; O Lord save me; I am ready to perish, Lord; I beseech thee, stretch out thine hand and rescue my poor soul from that destruction which now haunts my spirit." And see them after they have prayed, how they turn over the Word of God. They do not read its chapters as if the mere looking at the letters was enough, but they read just as Watts says in his hymn,

"Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord, Whose hope, still hovering round thy word Would light on some sweet promise there, Some sure support against despair."

And down they are on their knees again. "O Lord speak to my soul through thy word! Lord help me to lay hold on the promise, enable me to grasp it! Oh, let not my soul perish for lack of thy help and thy grace." And then see these violent men whom God has really made in earnest about being saved. You will not find them leaving their devotions in their closets, or in their house of prayer. Wherever they go there is a solemn earnestness upon them, which the world cannot understand. They are seeking after Jesus, and rest they neither will nor can until they find him. Their nights are disturbed with dreams, and their days are made sad with their pantings after the blessing without which they cannot live, and without which they dare not die. My hearer, have you ever been one of these violent men, or are you so now? Blessed be God if this holy violence is in your spirit: you shall take heaven by force yet; you shall take it by storm, and carry the gates of heaven by the battery of your prayers. Only persevere with importunity; still plead, still wrestle, still continue to strive, and you must at length prevail. But ah! my hearer, if thou hast never had a strong unconquerable anxiety about thy soul, thou art as yet a stranger to the things of God. Thou dost not understand that violence victorious without which the gates of heaven never can be stormed. Some of us can look back to the time when we were seeking Christ. I could myself awake of a morning easily then. The first ray of light that came into my chamber would awaken me to take up Baxter's Call to the Unconverted that lay under my pillow. I believed I had not repented enough, and I began to read that. Oh! how I hoped that would break my heart. And then I would get Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, and Allen's Alarm, and read them. But, still, I think I might have read them to this day, and not been a whit the better, if I had not something better than alarm, in remembering that Christ came into the world to save every sinner who was willing to cast himself upon his blood and righteousness, and take him at his word, and trust God. Have ye not seen many and are there not many among us men who have said, "I must have mercy, I must have it: it is not a thing which I may have, or may not have; but I am a lost soul if I have it not?" And when they have gone to pray they have seemed like Samsons; they have got hold of the two posts of heaven's gate of mercy, and they have pulled as if they would pull them up by their eternal roots sooner than not get the blessing. They have hammered at the gates of heaven until it seemed as if they would split the golden bolts rather than be turned away. No man ever gets peace until he gets into such a passion of earnestness to be saved, that he cannot find peace until Christ speaks pardon to his soul, and brings him into life and liberty. "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." But this violence does not end when a man finds Christ; it then begins to exercise itself in another way. The man who is pardoned, and who knows it, then becomes violently in love with Christ. He does not love him just a little, but he loves him with all his soul and all his might. He feels as if he could wish to die for Christ, and his heart pants to be able to live alone with his Redeemer, and serve him without interruption. Mark such a man who is a true Christian, mark his prayers, and you will see there is violence in all his supplications when he pleads for the souls of men. Mark his outward actions, and they are violently sincere, violently earnest. Mark him when he preaches: there is no dull droning out of a monotonous discourse, he speaks like a man who means what he says, and who must speak it, or else woe would be unto him if he preached not the gospel. As I look around on many of the churches, yea, on many members of my own church, I am apt to fear that they are not God's children at all, because they have nothing of this holy violence. Have ye ever read Coleridge's Ancient Mariner? I dare say you have thought it one of the strongest imaginations ever put together, especially that part where the old mariner represents the corpses of all the dead men rising up, all of them dead, yet rising up to manage the ship; dead men pulling the ropes, dead men steering, dead men spreading the sails. I thought what a strange idea that was. But do you know I have lived to see that true: I have seen it done. I have gone into churches and I have seen a dead man in the pulpit, and a dead man as a deacon, and a dead man holding the plate at the door, and dead men sitting to hear. You say "Strange!" but I have. I have gone into societies, and I have seen it all going on so regularly. These dead men, you know, never overstep the bounds of prudence, not they: they have not life enough to do that. They always pull the rope orderly, "as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." And the dead man in the pulpit, is he not most regular and precise? He systematically draws his handkerchief from his pocket, and uses it just at the regular period, in the middle of the sermon. He would not think of violating a single rubric that has been laid down by his old-fashioned church. Well, I have seen these churches I know where to point them out and have seen dead men doing everything. "No," says one, "you can't mean it?" Yes, I do, the men were spiritually dead. I have seen the minister preaching, without a particle of life, a sermon, which is only fresh in the sense in which a fish is fresh when it has been packed in ice. I have seen the people sit, and they have listened as if they had been a group of statues the chiseled marble would have been as much affected by the sermon as they I have seen the deacons go about their business just as orderly, and with as much precision as if they had been mere automatons, and not men with hearts and souls at all. Do you think God will ever bless a church that is like that? Are we ever to take the kingdom of heaven with a troop of dead men? Never! We want living ministers, living hearers, living deacons, living elders, and until we have such men who have got the very fire of life burnings in their souls, who have got tongues of life, and eyes of life, and souls of life, we shall never see the kingdom of heaven taken by storm. "For the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Frequently complaints are made and surprise expressed by individuals who have never found a blessing rest upon anything they have attempted to do in the service of God. "I have been a Sunday-school teacher for years," says one, "and I have never seen any of my girls or boys converted." No, and the reason most likely is, you have never been violent about it; you have never been compelled by the Divine Spirit to make up your mind that converted they should be, and no stone should be left unturned until they were. You have never been brought by the Spirit to such a passion, that you have said, "I cannot live unless God bless me; I cannot exist unless I see some of these children saved." Then, falling on your knees in agony of prayer, and putting forth afterwards your trust with the same intensity towards heaven, you would never have been disappointed, "for the violent take it by force." And you too, my brother in the gospel, you have marvelled and wondered why you have not seen souls regenerated. Did you ever expect it? Why, you preach like one who does not believe what he is saying. Those who believe in Christ, may say of you with kind partiality, "Our minister is a dear good man;" but the careless young men that attend your ministry, say, "Does that man expect to make me believe that which he only utters as a dry story, and to convince me when I see him go through the service with all the dulness and monotony of dead routine?" Oh, my brethren, what we want today in the churches is violence, not violence against each other, but violence against death, and hell, against the hardness of other men's hearts, and against the sleepiness of our own. In Martin Luther's time, truly the kingdom of heaven suffered violence. The whole religious world was wide awake. Now, I fear for the most part it is sound asleep. Go where you may, our churches have come to be old-established businesses. They do not care to extend themselves. We must have new blood, nay, we must have new fire from heaven to fall upon the sacrifice, or else, like Baal's priests, we may cut and hack our bodies, and distract our minds in vain; there will be "no voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regardeth." The sacrifice shall lay unburnt upon the altar, and the world will say our God is not the living God, or surely we are not his people, "And thou shalt grope at noon-day, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee." Violent men, then, are those that take the kingdom of heaven by force. II. NOW, BRING THESE VIOLENT MEN FORWARD, AND LET US ASK THEM WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT. When a man is very earnest, he ought to be ready to give a reason for his earnestness. "How now, sirs, what is all this strife about? why all this earnestness? You seem to be boiling over with enthusiasm. What is up? Is there anything that is worth making such a stir about?" Hear them, and they will soon convince you that all their enthusiasm and striving to enter the kingdom of heaven by force, is not a whit more strong than reasonable. The first reason why poor sinners take the kingdom of heaven by force is, because they feel they have no natural right to it; and, therefore, they must need take it by force it they would get it at all. When a man belongs to the House of Lords, and knows that he has got a seat there by prescriptive right and title, he does not trouble himself at the time of the elections. But there is another man, who says, "Well, I should like a seat in the House of Commons, but I have no absolute right to it. If I get it, it will be by a desperate struggle." Do you not see how busy he is on the day! how the carriages fly about everywhere; and how earnest are his supporters that he may stand at the head of the poll and win the day! He says, "I have no absolute right to it; if I had, then I would just take it easy and walk into my seat at the proper time." But now he labors, and strives, and wrestles, because without so doing he does not expect to succeed. Now, look at those who are saved; they have no right to the inheritance they are seeking. What are they? Sinners, the chief of sinners; in their own esteem the vilest of the vile. Now, if they would get heaven they must take it by force, for they have no right to it by birth or lineal entail. And what are they else? They are the poor ones of this earth. There stands the rabbi at the gate, and he says, "You can't come in here; this is no place for the poor to enter." "But," says he. "I will;" and pushing the rabbi aside, he takes it by force. Then, again, they were Gentiles too; and Jews stood at the gate, and said, "Stand back, you Gentile dogs, you cannot come in." Now, if such would be saved, they must take the kingdom of heaven by storm, for they have no rights to assert. Ah, my fellow men, if ye sit down and fold your arms, and say, "I am so good I have a right to heaven," how deceived you will be. But if God has convinced you of your lost, ruined, and undone condition, and if he has put his quickening Spirit within you, you will use a bold and desperate violence to force your way into the kingdom of heaven. The Spirit of God will not lead you to be obsequious in the presence of foes, or faint-hearted in the overwhelming crisis; he will drive you to desperate labour that you may be saved. Ask one such man, again, why is he so violent in prayer; he replies, "Ah, I know the value of the mercy I receive. Why, I am asking for pardon, for heaven, for eternal life, and am I to get these with a few yawns and sleepy prayers? I am asking that I may wear the white robe, and sing the never-ending song of praise; and do you think that a few poor supplications are to be enough? No, my God; if thou wouldst make me tarry a hundred years, and sigh, and groan, and cry through that long century; yes, if I might but have heaven at last, all my prayers would have been well-spent; nay, had they been a thousand times as many, they were well rewarded if thou wouldst hear me at last. But," says he again, "if you want to know why I am so earnest, let me tell you it is because I cannot bear to he lost for ever." Hear the earnest sinner when he speaks. You say to him "Why so earnest?" The tear is in his eye, the flush is on his cheek, there is emotion in every feature, while he says, "Would to God I could be far more earnest; do you know I am a lost soul, perhaps before another hour is over I may be shut up in the hopeless fires of hell! Oh, God, have mercy on me, for if thou dost not, how terrible is my fate. I shall be lost lost for ever! Once let a man know that hell is beneath his feet, and if that does not make him earnest, what would? No wonder that his prayers are importunate, that his endeavours are intensely earnest, when he knows that he must escape, or else the devouring fire will lay hold on him. Suppose now, you had been a Jew in the olden time, and one day while taking a walk in the fields you had seen a man running with all his might. "Stop!" you say, "stop! my dear friend, you will exhaust yourself." He goes on, and on, with all his might. You run after him. "Pause awhile," you say, "and rest; the grass is soft, sit down here, and take your ease. See, here I have some food and a bottle; stop and refresh yourself." But without saluting you, he says, "No, I must away, away, away." "Why? wherefore?" you say. He is gone so far ahead, you run after him with all your might; and scarcely able to turn his head, he exclaims, "The city of refuge! the city of refuge! the manslayer is behind me." Now, it is all accounted for; you do not wonder that he runs with all his might now. When the manslayer is after him, you can well understand that he would never pause for rest until he has found the city of refuge. So let a man know that the devil is behind him, that the avenging law of God is pursuing him, and who can make him stop? Who shall endeavor to make him stay his race until he enters Christ, the city of refuge, and finds himself secure? This will make a man earnest indeed to dread "the wrath to come," and to be labouring to escape therefrom. Another reason why every man who would be safe must be in earnest, and be violent, is this, there are so many adversaries to oppose us, that if we are not violent we shall never be able to overcome them. Do you remember that beautiful parable in John Bunyan's Pilgrim? "I saw also, that the Interpreter took him by the hand, and led him into a pleasant place, where was built a stately palace, beautiful to behold; at the sight of which Christian was greatly delighted. He saw also upon the top thereof certain persons walking, who were clothed all in gold. Then said Christian, 'May we go in thither?' Then the Interpreter took him and led him up toward the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but durst not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his ink-horn before him, to take the name of him that should enter therein; he saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armour to keep it, being resolved to do to the men that would enter what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze. At last, when every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of a very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, Set down my name, sir;' the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet upon his head, and rush toward the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, (Matt. xi. 12. Acts xiv. 22.) he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace; at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying,

'Come in, come in, Eternal glory thou shalt win.'

So he went in, and was clothed with such garments as they." And surely the dreamer saw the truth in his dream. It is even so. If we would win eternal glory we must fight.

"Sure we must fight, if we would reign; Increase our courage, Lord!"

Ye have enemies within you, enemies without, enemies beneath, enemies on every side the world, the flesh, and the devil; and if the Spirit of God has quickened you, he has made a soldier of you, and you can never sheathe your sword till you gain the victory. The man who would be saved must be violent, because of the opposition he has to encounter. But do you still condemn this man, and say that he is an enthusiast and a fanatic? Then God himself comes forth to vindicate his despised servant. Know that this is the sign, the mark of distinction between the true child of God and the bastard-professor. The men who are not God's children are a careless, stumbling, coldhearted race. But the men that are God's in sincerity and truth, are burning as well as shining lights. They are as brilliant constellations in the firmament of heaven, burning stars of God. Of all things in the world, God hates most the man that is neither hot nor cold. Better have no religion than have a little: better to be altogether without it, enemies to it, than to have just enough to make you respectable, but not enough to make you earnest. What does God say concerning the religion of this day? "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Lukewarmness of all things God abhors, and yet of all things it is the predominant mark of the present day. The time of the Methodists, of Whitfield and Wesley, was a time indeed of fire and of divine violence and vigour. But we have gradually cooled down, now, into a delightful consistency, and though here and there there is a little breaking out of the old desperado spirit of the Christian religion, yet for the most part the world has so mesmerised the church, that she is as nearly asleep as she can be; and much of her teaching, and much of the doings of her religious societies, is sheer somnambulism. It is not the wide-awake earnestness of them that walk with their eyes open. They walk in their sleep; very nimbly they walk, too and very nicely they "trim their way," but very little is there of the life of God in aught they do, and very little of divine success attending their agencies, because they are not violent with regard to the matters of the kingdom of God. III. Having thus endeavoured to screen the violent men from harsh criticism, I shall now invite you for a moment to reflect, that THE VIOLENT MAN IS ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL. Do you think you are going to be carried to heaven on a feather bed? Have you got a notion in your heads that the road to paradise is all a lawn, the grass smoothly mown, still waters and green pastures ever and anon to cheer you? You have just got to clear your heads of that deceitful fancy. The way to heaven is up hill and down hill; up hill with difficulty, down hill with trials. It is through fire and through water, through flood and through flame, by the lions and by the leopards. Through the very mouths of dragons is the path to paradise. But the man who finds it so, and who desperately resolves in the strength of God to tread that path nay, who does not resolve as if he could do nothing else but resolve, but who feels driven, as if with a hurricane behind him, to go into the right road, this man is never unsuccessful, never. Where God has given a violent anxiety for salvation he never disappoints it. No soul that has ever cried for it with a violent cry has been disappointed. From the beginning of creation until now there has never been raised to the throne of God a violent and earnest prayer which missed its answer. Go, soul, in the strong confidence that if thou goest earnestly thou goest successfully. God may sooner deny himself than deny the request of an earnest man. Our God may sooner cease to be "the Lord God, gracious and merciful," than cease to bless the men who seek the gates of heaven, with the violence of faith and prayer. Oh, reflect, that all the saints above have been led by divine grace to wrestle hard as we do now with sins, and doubts, and fears. They had no smooth path to glory. They had to dispute every inch of the way at the sword's point. So must you: and as surely as you are enabled to do so, so surely will you conquer. Only the violent are saved, and all the violent are saved. When God makes a man violent after salvation, that man cannot perish. The gates of heaven may sooner be unhinged than that man be robbed of the prize for which he has fought. IV. And, now I have to close, for I find my voice fails me this morning, when most I need it. I have to close abruptly by endeavouring earnestly TO EXCITE EACH OF YOU TO A VIOLENCE AFTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. In this great crowd there are surely some of the class I am about to describe. There is one man here who says, "I don't know that I have done much amiss in my life: I am about as regular a man as there is living. Don't I attend a place of worship regularly? I believe that l shall most certainly be saved. But I don't take much trouble about it, it never disquiets me particularly. I don't like" says this man " that intrusive kind of religion that always seems to be thrusting itself in everybody's way. I think it is quite right that people should go to their place of worship, but why take any further trouble? I just believe that I shall fare as other people fare: I am a steady unpretending sort of man, and I have no reason to doubt that I shall be saved." Ah, friend, you have never seen the gate of heaven? It is obvious that you have never seen it, or else you would know better; for at the gate of heaven multitudes are struggling, the gates of heaven are thronged, and he that would enter there must press, and elbow, and push, or he may go away certain that he can never enter. No! your easy religion will just bring you in too late. It may carry you nine miles out of ten; but what is the good of that to a man who must perish unless he is carried the whole way? It will go a good way with you when you follow the counsels of a gospel ministry with outward propriety; but at the bar of God it will utterly fail you, when you lack the inward witness of strong crying and supplications. No! an easy religion is the way to hell, for it is not the way to heaven. Let your soul alone, and you need not expect much good fruit to come of it, any more than a farmer who leaves his fields alone, need expect to reap a harvest. Your religion is vain and futile if that is all. "Ah" cries another "but I am in quite a different case. I am a sinner so vile, sir, that I know I never can be saved, therefore, what is the use? I never think about it now, except with blank despair. Have I not long rebelled against God; will he ever pardon me? No, no; don't exhort me to try. I may as well take my full swing of pleasure while I am here, for I feel I never shall enjoy the pleasures of heaven hereafter." Stop friend, "The violent take it by force." If the Lord has taught thee thy utter sinfulness, go and try say,

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

Go home, go to your closet, fall on your knees, put your trust alone in Christ and, my friend, if the Lord does not have mercy upon you, then he is not the God we have preached to you, and he has not substantiated his faithful promise: you cannot, you shall not seek in vain. But mark, you must not think that your once seeking is enough; continue in it. If God has given you his Spirit you will continue you will never leave off praying until you get the answer. Oh! my friend, if God hath given thee this day a longing after his love; if he has caused thee to say, "I will never give it up, I will perish at the foot of the cross if I perish at all;" thou canst no more perish than the angels in Paradise. Be of good cheer; use violence again and again, and thou shalt take it by force. And then, let each one of us as we retire, and if we have tasted that the Lord is precious, determine to love him more earnestly than before. I never leave my pulpit washout feeling ashamed of myself. I do not remember a time when I have been able to go home without being suffused with humiliation and cast down with self-reproach, because I had not been more earnest. I very seldom flog myself for using an ugly word, or anything of that sort; it is for not having been earnest enough about the salvation of men. When I sit down, I begin to think of this vast stream of people being swept along towards the gulf of eternity bound for heaven or hell; and I wonder how it is that I do not weep all the time I am here why it is that I do not find red-hot burning words with which to address you. I find fault with others sometimes, but far more with myself in this matter. Oh! how is it that a man can be God's ambassador, and yet have so callous, so insensitive a heart, as many of us have in this work? Oh! how is it that we tell the tale of death and life, of heaven and hell, of Christ crucified and his gospel despised, so quietly as we do? Condemn not the minister for excitement or fanaticism; condemn him because he is not half in earnest, as he ought to be. Oh my God! impress me, I beseech thee, more with the value of souls, and then impress my hearers, also, with the value of their own souls. Are you not going to-day, many of you, post-haste to perdition? Is it not the fact, that your conscience tells you that many of you are enemies to God? You are without Christ, you have never been washed in his blood; never been forgiven. Oh! my hearers, if ye continue as ye are, a few more rising suns, and then your sun must set for ever. Only a few more Sundays have you to waste, a few more sermons have you to hear, and the pit of hell must open wide its jaws, and then where are you? But a few more days, and the heavens shall be rent, and Christ shall come to judge the earth, and sinner where are you? Oh! I beseech you now by the living God, and by his Son Jesus Christ, think of your state; repent of your sins; turn you to God. Oh Spirit of God, turn, I pray thee, turn the hearts of sinners now. Remember, if you now repent, if you now confess your sins, Christ is preached to you. He came into the world to save sinners. Oh! believe on him; throw yourselves before his cross; trust in his blood; rely on his righteousness,

"But if your ears refuse The language of his grace, And hearts grow hard like stubborn Jews, That unbelieving race;

The Lord, in vengeance dress'd, Will lift his hand and swear, 'You that despise my promised rest, Shall have no portion there.'"

Oh! if I had the tongue of Whitfield, or the mouth of an archangel, if I could speak like the cherubim, I would pour out my heart before you, and pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. I must face you soon before God's great bar, and shall your blood be laid to my door? Shall you perish, and must I perish with you for unfaithfulness? May God forbid it! Now may he

"Let you see your lost estate, And save you ere it be too late, Wake you to righteousness."

Lord have mercy upon you all for Jesus' sake!

Verse 19

The Sinner's Friend

A Sermon By the Rev. C. H. SPURGEON, At the Newington

"A friend of publicans and sinners." Matthew 11:19 .

MANY A TRUE WORD is spoken in jest, and many a tribute to virtue has been unwittingly paid by the sinister lips of malice. The enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ thought to brand him with infamy, hold him up to derision, and hand his name down to everlasting scorn, as "a friend of publicans and sinners." Short-sighted mortals! Their scandal published his reputation. To this day the Savior is adored by the title which was minted as a slur. It was designed to be a stigma, that every good man would shudder at and shrink from; it has proved to be a fascination which wins the heart, and enchants the soul of all the godly. Saints in heaven, and saints on earth delight to sing of him thus

"Savior of sinners they proclaim, Sinners of whom the chief I am."

We shall take this title of Jesus to-night as an order of distinction which sets forth his excellency, and as God helps us, we shall try to exalt his name and proclaim his fame, while we attempt to explain how he was the friend of sinners; and how he shows that he is still the same. What better proof could he give of it than coming from the majesty of his Father's house to the meanness of Bethlehem's manger? What better proof could he give than leaving the society of cherubim and seraphim, to lie in the manger where the horned oxen fed, and to become the associate of fallen men? The incarnation of the Savior in the very form of sinners, taking upon himself the flesh of sinners, being born of a sinner, having a sinner for his reputed father his very being a man, which is tantamount to being in the same form with sinners surely this were enough to prove that he is the sinner's friend. As soon as Jesus Christ, being born in the likeness of sinful flesh, has come to years of maturity, and has commenced his real life-work, he at once discloses his friendship for sinners by associating with them. You do not find him standing at a distance, issuing his mandates and his orders to sinners to make themselves better, but you find him coming among them like a good workman who stands over his work; he takes his place where the sin and the iniquity are, and he personally comes to deal with it. He does not write out a prescription and send by another hand his medicines with which to heal the sickness of sin, but he comes right into the lazar-house, touches the wounded, looks at the sick; and there is healing in the touch; there is life in the look. The great Physician took upon himself our sicknesses and bare our infirmities, and so proved himself to be really the sinner's friend. Some people appear to like to have a philanthropic love towards the fallen, but yet they would not touch them with a pair of tongs. They would lift them up if they could, but it must be by some machinery some sort of contrivance by which they would not degrade themselves or contaminate their own hands. Not so the Savior. Up to the very elbow he seems to thrust that gracious arm of his into the mire, to pull up the lost one out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay. He takes himself the mattock and the spade, and goes to work in the great quarry that he may get out the rough stones which afterwards he will himself polish with his own bitter tears and bloody sweat, that he may make them fit to shine for ever in the glorious temple of the Lord his God. He comes himself into direct, personal contact with sin, without being contaminated with it. He comes as close to it as a man can come. He eats and drinks with sinners. He sits at the Pharisee's table one day, and does not rise because there is a crowd of people no better than they should be coming near him. Another day he goes to the publican's house, and the publican had, no doubt, been a great extortioner in his time; but Jesus sits there, and that day does salvation come to that publican's house. Beloved, this is a sweet trait about Christ, and proves how real and how true was his love, that he made his associations with sinners, and did not shun even the chief of them. And you know, dear friends, he did not prove his love merely by preaching to them, and living with them, and by his patience in enduring their contradiction against himself, and all their evil words and deeds, but he proved it by his prayers too. He used his mighty influence with the Father in their behalf. He took their polluted names on his holy lips; he was not ashamed to call them brethren. Their cause became his own, and in their interest his pulse throbbed. How many times on the cold mountains he kept his heart warm with love to them! How often the sweat rolled down his face when he was in an agony of spirit for them I cannot tell you. This much I do know, that on that self-same night when he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground, he prayed this prayer after having prayed for his saints, he went on to say "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." Here, truly, the heart of the Savior was bubbling up and welling over towards sinners. And you never can forget that almost his last words were, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Though wilfully and wickedly they pierced his hands and his feet, yet were there no angry words, but only that short, loving, hearty prayer "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Ah! friends, if there ever was a man who was a friend to others, Jesus was a friend to sinners his whole life through. But the trial is over; the struggle is passed; the Savior is dead and buried; he rises again, and after he has spent forty days on earth in that forty days proving still his love for sinners he rose again for their justification; I see him ascending up on high. Angels attend him as the clouds receive him.

"They bring his chariot from on high, To bear him to his throne; Clap their triumphant wings and cry, 'The glorious work is done.'"

What pomp! What a procession! What splendor! He will forget his poor friends the sinners now, will he not? Not he! I think I hear the song, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in." The bars of massy light are all unloosed; the pearly gates are all wide open flung; and as he passes through, mark you, the highest joy which swells his soul is that he has opened those gates, not for himself, for they were never shut on him, but that he has opened them for sinners. It was for this, indeed, he died; and it is for this that he ascends on high, that he may "open the kingdom of heaven for all believers." See him as he rides through heaven's streets! "Thou hast ascended up on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts of men." Ah! but hear the refrain, for this is the sweetest note of all the hymn, "Yea, for the rebellious also yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." The scattered gifts of his coronation, the lavish bounties of his ascension, are still for sinners. He is exalted on high for what? To give repentance and remission of sins. He still wears upon his breastplate the names of sinners; upon his hands and upon his heart does he still bear the remembrance of those sinners; and every day for the sinner's sake he doth not hold his peace, and for the sinner's sake he doth not rest, but cries unto God until every sinner shall be brought safely home. Every sinner who believeth, every sinner who was given to him, every sinner whom he bought with blood he will not rest, I say, till all such are gathered to be the jewels of his crown, world without end. II. While we change the subject a little, we shall still keep to the text, and notice WHAT CHRIST IS DOING NOW FOR SINNERS. Ah! then; I would go further. I would entreat thee to make the case thine own. Thou art a sinner; can I not convince thee that he is thy friend? And where are you to-night? Perhaps, my hearers, you are in an unusual place for you. Your Sunday evenings are not often spent in the house of God. There are other places which know you, but your seat there is empty to-night. There has been much persuasion to bring you here, and it may be that you have come against your will; but some friend has asked you to conduct him to the spot, and here you are. Do you know why you are here? It is a friendly providence, managed by the sinner's friend which has brought you here, that you may hear the sound of mercy, and have a loving invitation tendered to you. Be grateful to the Savior that he has brought you to the gospel-pool. May you O, may you this night be made to step in and be washed from sin! But it is kind of him, and proves how true a friend he is of sinners, that he has brought you here. I will leave you now where you are, and I will tell you how he has dealt with other sinners, for mayhap this may lead you to ask him to deal the same with you. Ay, said I, Christ is the friend of sinners! So say I, and so will I say while this poor lisping stammering tongue can articulate a sound. And methinks God had a design of abundant mercy when he saved my soul. I had not then believed it, though a mother's loving accents might have whispered it in my ears. But he seems to remind me of it over and over again, till love and terror mingle in my breast, saying, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel." O my blessed Master, thou dost trust my lips when thou dost bear witness to my heart. Thou givest charge to my tongue when thou constrained my soul. "Am I a chosen vessel?" It is to bear his name to sinners. As a full bottle seeks vent, so must my testimony pant for utterance. O sinner, if thou trustest him, he will be such a friend to thee; and if thou hast now a broken heart and a contrite spirit, these are his work; and it is a proof of his great love to thee if he has made thee to hunger and thirst after him. We know of a place in England still existing, where there is a dole of bread served to every passer-by who chooses to ask for it. Whoever he may be he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him. Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that, whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this hospital of the cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always efficacious. There is no sinner who ever went into it and found it, could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow. As if this were not enough, there is attached to this hospital of the cross a wardrobe, and a sinner, making application simply as a sinner, with nothing in his hand, but being just empty and naked, he may come and be clothed from head to foot. And if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have an under garment, but he may have armor which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Nay, if he wants a sword he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. There is nothing that his heart can desire that is good for him which he shall not receive. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord. Now do recollect, that we have been talking about sinners; there is a notion abroad that Jesus Christ came into the world to save respectable people, and that he will save decent sort of folks; that those of you who go regularly to a place of worship, and are good sort of people, will be saved. Now Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; and who does that mean? Well, it includes some of us who have not been permitted to go into outward sin; but it also includes within its deep, broad compass those who have gone to the utmost extent of iniquity. Oh! by that love, looking out of those eyes in tears; oh! by that love, streaming from those wounds flowing with blood; by that faithful love, that strong love, that pure, disinterested, and abiding love; oh! by the heart and by the bowels of the Savior's compassion, I do conjure you turn not away as though it were nothing to you; but believe on him and you shall be saved. Trust your souls with him and he will bring you to his Father's right hand in glory everlasting. "May God give us a blessing for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Verses 27-28

Powerful Persuasives

March 9th, 1916 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:27-40.11.28 .

I have preached to you, dear friends, several times from the words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There is such sweetness in the precept, such solace in the promise, that I could fain hope to preach from it many times more. But I have no intention just now to repeat what I have said in any former discourse, or to follow the same vein of thought that we have previously explored. This kindly and gracious invitation needs only to be held up in different lights to give us different subjects for admiration. That it flowed like an anthem from our Saviour's lips we perceive, in what connection if was spoken we may properly enquire. He had just made some important disclosures as to the covenant relations that existed between himself and God the Father. This interesting revelation of heavenly truth becomes the basis upon which he offers an invitation to the toiling and oppressed children of men, and assigns it as a reason why they should immediately avail themselves of his succour. Such is the line of discourse I propose now to follow. Kindly understand me that I want to deal with the hearts and consciences of the unconverted, and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to plead with them that they may at once go to Jesus and find rest unto their souls. I shall require no stories or anecdotes, no figures or metaphors, to illustrate the urgent necessity of the sinner and the generous bounty of the Saviour. We will make it as plain as a pikestaff, and as sharp as a sword, with the intention of driving straight at our point. Time is precious, your time especially, for you may not have many days in which to seek the Lord. The matter is urgent. Oh! that every labouring, weary sinner here might at once come to Jesus and find that rest which the Saviour expresses himself as so willing to give! With all simplicity, then, let me explain to you tile way of salvation, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden."

The way to be saved is to come to Jesus. To come, to Jesus means to pray to him, to trust in him, to rely upon him. Each man who trusts in another may be said to come to that other for help. Thus to trust in Jesus is to come to him. In order to do this I must give up all reliance upon myself, or anything I could do or have done, or anything I do feel or can feel. Nor must I feel the slightest dependence upon anything that anyone else can do for me. I must cease from creature helps and carnal rites, to rest myself upon Jesus. That is what my Saviour means when he says, "Come unto me." The exhortation is very personal. "Come unto me," says he. He saith not, come to my ministers to consult them. nor come to my sacraments to observe them, nor come to my Bible to study its teaching interesting and advantageous as under some circumstances any or all of these counsels might be; but he invites us in the sweetest tune of friendship, saying, "Come to me." For a poor sinner this is the truest means of succour. Let him resort to the blessed Lord himself. To trust in a crucified Saviour is the way of salvation. Let him leave everything else and fly away to Christ, and look at his dear wounds as he hangs upon the cross. I am afraid many people are detained from Christ by becoming entangled in the meshes of doctrine. Some with heterodox doctrine, others with orthodox doctrine, content themselves. They think that they have advanced far enough They flatter their souls that they have ascertained the truth! But the fact is, it is not the truth as a letter which, saves anybody. It is the truth as a person it is Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life, whom we need to apprehend.

Our confidences must rest entirely upon him. "Come unto me," saith Jesus; Come unto me, and I will give you rest."

The exhortation is in the present tense. "Come" now; do not wait; do not tarry; do not lie at the pool of ordinances but come unto me; come now at once, immediately, just where you are, just as you are. Wherever the summons finds you, rise without parley, without an instant's delay. "Come." I know that the human mind is very ingenious, and it is especially perverse when its own destruction is threatened. By some means or other it will evade this simple call. "Surely," says one, "there must be something to do besides that." Nay, nothing else is to be done. No preliminaries are requisite. The whole way of salvation is to trust in Jesus. Trust him now. That done, you are saved. Rely upon his finished work. know that he has meditated on your behalf. Commit thy sinful self to his saving grace. A change of heart shall be yours. All that you need he will supply.

"There is life in a look at the crucified One; There is life at this moment for thee."

So sweet an invitation demands a spontaneous acceptance. Come just as you are. "Come unto me," saith Christ. He does not say, "Come when you have washed and cleansed yourself." Rather should you come to be cleansed. He does not say, "Come when you have clothed yourself and made yourself beautiful with good works." Come to be made beautiful in a better righteousness than you can wear. Come naked, and let him gird thee with fine linen, cover thee with silk, and deck thee with jewels. He does not say, "Come when your conscience is tender, come when your heart is penitent, when your soul is full of loathing for sin, and your mind is enlightened with knowledge and enlivened with joy. But ye that labour, ye that are heavy laden, he bids you to come as you are. Come oppressed with your burdens, begrimed with your labours, dispirited with your toils. If the load that bends you double to the earth be upon your shoulders? just come as you are. Take no plea in your mouth but this he bids you come. That shall suffice as a warrant for your coming, and a security for your welcome. If Jesus Christ bids you, who shall say you nay?

He puts the matter very exclusively. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden." Do nothing else but come to him. Do you want rest? Come to him for it. The old proverb hath it that betwixt two stools we come to the ground." Certainly, if we trust partly in Christ and partly in ourselves, we shall fall lower than the ground. We shall sink into hell. "Come unto me" is the whole gospel. "Come unto me." Mix nothing with it. Acknowledge no other obedience. Obey Christ, and him alone. Come unto me. You cannot go in two opposite directions. Let your tottering footsteps bend their way to him alone. Mix anything with him, and the possibility of your salvation is gone. Yours be the happy resolve:

"Nothing in my hands I bring: Simply to thy cross I cling."

This must be your cry if you are to be accepted at all. Come, then, ye that labour, ye horny-handed sons of toil. Come ye to Jesus. He invites you. Ye that stew and toil for wealth, ye merchants, with your many cares, labourers ye are. He bids you come. Ye students, anxious for knowledge, chary of sleep, burning out the midnight oil. Ye labour with exhausted brains; therefore, come. Come from struggling after fame. Ye pleasure seekers, come; perhaps there is no harder toil than the toil of the man who courts recreation and thinks he is taking his ease. Come, ye that labour in any form or fashion; come to Jesus to Jesus alone. And ye that are heavy laden; ye whose official duties are a burden; ye whose domestic cares are a burden; ye whose daily toils are a burden; ye whose shame and degradation are a burden, all ye that are heavy laden, come and welcome. If I attach no exclusive spiritual signification to these terms, it is because there is nothing in the chapter that would warrant such a restriction. Had Christ said, "Some of you that labour and are heavy laden may come," I would have said "some" too. Howbeit he has not said "some," but "all" "that labour and are heavy laden." It is wonderful how people twist this text about. They alter the sense by misquoting the words. They say, "Come ye that are weary and heavy laden." After this manner some have even intended to define a character rather than to describe condition, so they shut out some of those who labour from the kind invitation. But let the passage stand in its own simplicity. Let any sinner here, who can say, "I labour," though he cannot say spiritually labour, come on the bare warrant of the word as he finds it written here; he will not be disappointed of the mercy promised. Christ will not reject him. Himself hath said it, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." And any man that is heavy laden, even though it may not be a spiritual burden that oppresses him, yet if he comes heavy laden to Christ, he certainly shall find relief. That were a wonder without precedent or parallel, such as was never witnessed on earth throughout all the generations of men, that a soul should come to Jesus, be rebuffed, and told by him, "I never called you, I never meant you; you are not the character; you may not come." Hear, O heaven! witness, O earth! such thing was never heard of. No, nor ever shall it be heard of in time or in eternity. That any sinner should come to the Saviour by mistake is preposterous. That Jesus should say to him, "Go your way; I never called for you," is incredible. How can ye thus libel the sinner's friend? Come, ye needy come, ye helpless come, ye simple come, ye penitent come, ye impenitent come, ye who are the very vilest of the vile. If you do but come, Jesus Christ will receive you, welcome you, rejoice over you, and verify to you his thrice blessed promise, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."

Now to the tug of war. It shall be my main endeavour to press the invitation upon you, my good friends, by the arguments which the Saviour used.

Kindly look at the text. Read the words for yourselves. Do you not see that the reason why you are solemnly bidden to come to Christ is because:

I. HE IS THE APPOINTED MEDIATOR.

"All things are delivered unto me of my Father." God, even the Father, your Creator, against whom you have transgressed, has appointed our Lord Jesus Christ to be the way of access for a sinner to himself. He is no amateur Saviour. He has not thrust himself into the place officiously. He is officially delegated. In times of distress, every man is at liberty to do his best for the public welfare; but the officer commissioned by his Sovereign is armed with a supreme right to give counsel or to exercise command. Away there in Bengal, if there are any dying of famine, and I have rice, I may distribute it of my own will at my own charge. But the commissioner of the district has a special warranty which I do not posses; he has a function to discharge; it is his business, his vocation; he is authorised by the Government, and responsible to the Government to do it. So the Lord Jesus Christ has not only a deep compassion of heart for the necessities of men, but he has God's authority to support him. The Father delivered all things into his hands, and appointed him to be a Saviour. All that Christ teaches has this superlative sanction. He teaches you nothing of his own conjecture. "What I have heard of the Father," he saith, "that reveal I unto you." The gospel is not a scheme of his suggestion. He reveals it fresh from the heart of God. Remember that the promises Christ makes are not merely his surmises, but they are promises with the stamp of the court of heaven upon them. Their truth is guaranteed by God. It is not possible they should fail. Sooner might heaven and earth pass away than one word of his fall flat to the ground. Your Saviour, O sinner your only Saviour is one whose teachings, whose invitations, and whose promises have the seal royal of the King of kings upon them. What more do you want? Moreover, the Father has given all things into his hands in the sense of government. Christ is king everywhere. God has appointed Christ to be a mediatorial prince over all of us I say over us all not merely over those who accept his sovereignty, but even over the ungodly. He hath given him power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as he has given him. It is of no use your rebelling against Christ, and saying, "We will not have him" the old cry, "We will not have this man to reign over us." How read ye in the second Psalm "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. "Christ is supreme. You will have either to submit to his sceptre willingly, or else to be broken by his iron rod like a potter's vessel. Which shall it be? Thou must either bow or be broken; make your choice. You must bend or break. God help you wisely to resolve and gratefully relent. Has the Father appointed Christ to stand between him and his sinful creatures? Has he put the government upon his shoulders, and given him a name called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty, the everlasting King? Is he Emmanuel, God with us, in God's stead? With what reverence are we bound to receive him!

Moreover, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, of mercy and goodness, are laid up in Christ. You recollect when Pharaoh had corn to sell in Egypt, what reply he made to all who applied to him, "Go to Joseph." It would have been no use saying, "Go to Joseph," if Joseph had not the keys of the garner; but he had, and there was no garner that could be opened in Egypt unless Joseph lent the key. In like manner, all the garners of mercy are under the lock and key of Jesus Christ, "who openeth, and no man shutteth; who shutteth, and no man openeth." When you require any bounty or benefit of God, you must repair to Jesus for it. The Father has put all power into his hands. He has committed the entire work of mercy to his Son, that through him as the appointed mediator, all blessings should be dispensed to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. "Now, sirs, do you want to be saved? I charge you to say whether you do or not; for if you care not for salvation, why should I labour among you? If you choose your own ruin, you need no counsel; you will make sure of it by your own neglect. But if you want salvation, Christ is the only authorized person in heaven and earth who can save you. "There is no other name, given among men whereby we must be saved." The Father hath delivered all things into his keeping. He is the authorised Saviour. "Come unto me, then, "all ye that labour and are heavy laden." This argument is further developed by another consideration: Christ is:

II. A WELL-FURNISHED MEDIATOR,

"All things are delivered unto me," he said, "of my Father. "Sum up all that the sinner wants, and you will find him able to supply you with all. You want pardon; it is delivered unto Christ of the Father. You want change of heart; it is delivered unto Christ of the Father. You want righteousness in which you may be accepted; Christ has it. You want to be purged from the love of sin; Christ can do it. You want wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It is all in Christ. You are afraid that if you start on the road to heaven, you cannot hold on. Persevering grace is in Christ. You think you will never be perfect; but perfection is in Christ, for all believers, being saints of God and servants of Christ, are complete in him. Between hell-gate and heaven-gate there is nothing a sinner can need that is not treasured up in his blessed person. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." He is "full of grace and truth." Oh! sinner, I wish I could constrain you to feel as I do now, that had I never come to Christ before, I must come to him now, just now. Directly I understand that:

"Thou, O Christ, art all I want, More than all in thee I find."

Why, then, should I not come? Is it because I want something before I come? Make the question your own. Where are you going to seek it? All things are delivered unto Christ. To whom should you go for ought you crave? Is there another who can aid you when Christ is in possession of all? Do you want a tender conscience? Come to Christ for it. Do you want to feel the guilt of your sin? Come to Christ to be made sensitive to its shame. Are you just what you ought not to be? Come to Christ to be made what you ought to be, for everything is in Christ. Is there any, thing that can be obtained elsewhere and brought to him? The invitation to you is founded upon the explanation that accompanies it. "All things are delivered unto me of my Father"; therefore, Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The argument is so exclusive, that it only wants a willing mind to make it welcome. Only let God the Holy Spirit bless the word, and sinners will come to Christ, for unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Now note the next argument. Come to Christ, ye labouring ones, because:

III. HE IS AN INCONCEIVABLY GREAT MEDIATOR.

Where do I get that? Why, from this that no man knows him but the Father. So great is he, so good, so full of all manner of precious store for needy sinners. No man knows him but the Father. He is too excellent for our puny understanding to estimate his worth. None but the infinite God can comprehend his value as a Saviour. Has anyone here been saying, "Christ cannot save me; I am such a big sinner"? You don't know him, my friend you don't know him. You are measuring him according to your little insignificant notions. High as the heavens are above the earth so high are his ways above your ways, and his thoughts than your thoughts. You don't know him, sinner, and no one does know him but his Father. Why, some of us who have been saved by him, thought when we saw the blessed mystery of his substitutionary sacrifice, that we knew all about him; but we have found that he grows upon our view the nearer we approach, and the more we contemplate him. Some of you have now been Christians for thirty or forty years, and you know much more of him than you used to do; but you do not know him yet; your eyes are dazzled by his brightness; you do not know him. And the happy spirits before the throne who have been there, some of them, three or four thousand years, have hardly begun to spell the first letter of his name. He is too grand and too good for them to comprehend. I believe that it will be, the growing wonder in eternity to find out how precious a Christ, how powerful, how immutable in a word, how divine a Christ he is. in whom we have trusted. Only the infinite can understand the infinite. "God only knows the love of God,"and only the Father understands the Son. Oh! I wish I had a week in which to talk on this, instead of a few minutes! You want a great Saviour? Well, here he is. Nobody can depict him, or describe him, or even imagine him, except the infinite God himself. Come, then, poor sinner, sunken up to your neck in crime, black as hell come unto him. Come, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and prove him to be your Saviour. The fact that no one knows how great a Saviour he is except his Father may encourage you. Now for another argument. Come to him because:

IV. HE IS AN INFINITELY WISE MEDIATOR.

He is a mediator who understands both persons on whose behalf he mediates. He understands you. He has summed and reckoned you up, and he has made you out to be a heap sin and misery, and nothing else. The glory of it is that he understands God, whom you have offended, for it is written, "Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son," and he knows the Father. Oh! what a mercy that is to have one to go before God for me who knows him intimately. He knows his Father's will; he knows his Father's wrath. No man knows it but himself. He has suffered it. He knows his Father's love. He alone can feel it such love as God felt for sinners. He knows how his Father's wrath has been turned away by his precious blood; he knows the Father as a Judge whose anger no longer burns against those for whom the Atonement has been made. He knows the Father's heart. He knows the Father's secret purposes. He knows the Father's will is that whosoever seeth the Son and believeth on him shall have everlasting life. He knows the decrees of God, and yet he says, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give, you rest." There is nothing in that contrary to the decrees of God; for Jesus knows what the decrees are, and he would not speak in contradiction to them. He knows God's requirements. Sinner, whatever it is God requires of you, Christ knows what they are, and he is ready to meet them. "The law is holy, and just, and good," and Jesus knows it, for the, law is in his heart. Justice is very stern, and Jesus knows it, for Jesus has felt the edge of the sword of justice, and knows all about it. He is fully equipped for the discharge of his mediatorial office, and those that put their trust in him shall find that he will bear them through. Often, when a prisoner at the bar has a barrister who understands his work, and is perfectly competent for the defense, his friends say to him, "Your case is safe, for if there is a man in England who can get you through, it is that man." But my Master is an advocate who never lost a case. He has a plea at the throne of God that never failed yet. Give him oh! give him your cause to plead, nor doubt the Father's grace. Poor sinner, he is so wise an advocate that you may well come to him, and he will give you rest. But I must not weary you, although there is a fulness of matter on which I might enlarge. With one other argument I conclude:

V. HE IS AN INDISPENSABLE MEDIATOR.

The only mediator, so the text says. "Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son." Christ knows the Father; no one else knows him, save the Son. There is none other that can approach unto God. It is Christ for your Saviour, or no Saviour at all. Salvation is in no other; and if you will not have Christ, neither can you have salvation. Observe how that is. It is certain that no man knows God except Christ. It is equally certain that no man can come, to God except by Christ. He says it peremptorily; "No man cometh to the Father but by me." Not less certain is it that no man can please the Father except through Christ, for "without faith it is impossible to please him." No faith is worth having except the grace that is founded and based upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and him only. Oh! then, souls, since you are shut up to it by a blessed necessity, say at once, "I will to the gracious Prince approach, and take Jesus to be my all in all. "If I might hope you would do this early, I could go back to my home and retire to my bed, praising God for the work that was done, and the result that was achieved. Let us reiterate again and again the gospel we have to declare, the very essence of the gospel it is which we proclaim. Trust your souls with Jesus, and your souls are saved. He suffered in the room, and place, and stead of all that trust him. If you rely upon him by an act of simple faith, the simplest act in all the world, immediately you so rely you are forgiven, your transgressions are blotted out for his name's sake. He stands in spirit among us at this good hour, and says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden"; and he gives you these arguments, which ought to convince you. I pray they may. He is an authorized Saviour, and a well-furnished Saviour. He is the friend of God, and the friend of man. God grant you may accept him, and find the boon which he alone can bestow. Amen.

Verses 28-30

The Meek and Lowly One and Rest, Rest

The Meek and Lowly One

July 31st, 1859

by

C. H. SPURGEON

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you

rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in

heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my

burden is light."-- Matthew 11:28-40.11.30 .

The single sentence which I have selected for my text consists of these

words:--"I am meek and lowly in heart." These words might be taken to

have three distinct bearings upon the context. They may be regarded as

being the lesson to be taught: "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in

heart." One great lesson of the gospel is to teach us to be meek--to put

away our high and angry spirits, and to make us lowly in heart.

Peradventure, this is the meaning of the passage-- that it we will but

come to Christ's school, he will teach us the hardest of all lessons,--how

to be meek and lowly in heart. Again; other expositors might consider

this sentence to signify, that is the only Spirit in which a man can learn

of Jesus,-- the Spirit which is necessary if we would become Christ's

scholars. We can learn nothing, even of Christ himself, while we hold

our heads up with pride, or exalt ourselves with self-confidence. We

must be meek and lowly in heart, otherwise we are totally unfit to be

taught by Christ. Empty vessels may be filled; but vessels that are full

already can receive no more. The man who knows his own emptiness

can receive abundance of knowledge, and wisdom, and grace, from

Christ; but he who glories in himself is not in a fit condition to receive

anything from God. I have no doubt that both of these interpretations

are true, and might be borne out by the connection. It is the lesson of

Christ's school--it is the spirit of Christ's disciples. But I choose, rather,

this morning, to regard these words as being a commendation of the

Teacher himself. "Come unto me and learn; for I am meek and lowly in

heart." As much as to say, "I can teach, and you will not find it hard to

learn of me."

In fact, the subject of this morning's discourse is briefly this: the

gentle, lovely character of Christ should be a high and powerful inducement

to sinners to come to Christ. I intend so to use it: first of all, noticing

the two qualities which Christ here claims for himself. He is "meek;" and

then he is "lowly in heart;" and after we have observed these two things, I

shall come to push the conclusion home. Come unto him, all ye that are

labouring and are heavy laden; come unto him, and take his yoke upon you;

for he is meek and lowly in heart.

I. First, then, I am to consider THE FIRST QUALITY WHICH JESUS CHRIST

CLAIMS. He declares that he is "MEEK."

Christ is no egotist; he takes no praise to himself. If ever he utters a

word in self-commendation, it is not with that object; it is with another

design, namely that he may entice souls to come to him. Here, in order

to exhibit this meekness, I shall have to speak of him in several ways.

1. First, Christ is meek, as opposed to the ferocity of spirit manifested

by zealots and bigots. Take, for a prominent example of the opposite of

meekness, the false prophet Mahomet. The strength of his cause lies in

the fact, that he is not meek. He presents himself before those whom he

claims as disciples, and says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of

me, for I am neither meek, nor lowly in heart; I will have no patience

with you; there is my creed, or there is the scimitar-- death or

conversion, whichever you please." The moment the Ma- hometan

religion withdrew that very forcible argument of decapitation or

impalement, it stayed in its work of conversion, and never progressed;

for the very strength of the false prophet lays in the absence of any

meekness.

How opposite this is to Christ! Although he hath a right to demand man's

love and man's faith, yet he comes not into the world to demand it with fire

and sword. His might is under persuasion; his strength is quiet forbearance,

and patient endurance; his mightiest force is the sweet attraction of

compassion and love. He knoweth nothing of the ferocious hosts of Mahomet;

he bids none of us draw our sword to propagate the faith, but saith, "Put up

thy sword into its scabbard; they that take the sword shall perish by the

sword." "My kingdom is not of this world, else might my servants fight."

Nay, Mahomet is not the only instance we can bring; but even good men are

subject to the like mistakes. They imagine that religion is to be spread by

terror and thunder. Look at John himself, the most lovely of all the

disciples: he would call fire from heaven on a village of Samaritans,

because they rejected Christ. Hark to his hot enquiry,--"Wilt thou that we

command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" Christ's disciples

were to him something like the sons of Zeruiah to David; or when

Shimei mocked David, the sons of Zeruiah said, "Why should this dead

dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his

head." But David meekly said, "What have I to do with you, ye sons of

Zeruiah? "--and put them aside. He had something of the spirit of his

Master; he knew that his honour was not then to be defended by sword

or spear. O blessed Jesus! thou hast no fury in thy spirit; when men

rejected thee thou didst not draw the sword to smite, but, on the

contrary, thou didst yield thine eyes to weeping. Behold your Saviour,

disciples, and see whether he was not meek. He had long preached in

Jerusalem without effect, and at last he knew that they were ready to

put him to death; but what saith he, as, standing on the top of the hill,

he beheld the city that had rejected his gospel?

Did he invoke a curse upon it? Did he suffer one word of anger to leap from

his burning heart? Ah! no; there were flames, but they were those of love;

there were scalding drops, but they were those of grief. He beheld the city,

and wept over it, and said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I

have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens

under her wings, and ye would not." And for a further proof of the

absence of all uncharitableness, observe that, even when they drove the

nails into his blessed hands, yet he had no curse to breathe upon them,

but his dying exclamation was, "Father, forgive them, for they know

not what they do." O sinners! see what a Christ it is that we bid you

serve. No angry bigot, no fierce warrior, claiming your unwilling faith:

he is a tender Jesus. Your rejection of him has made his bowels yearn

over you; and though you abhor his gospel, he has pleaded for you,

saying, "Let him alone yet another year, till I dig about him;

peradventure he may yet bring forth fruit." What a patient master is he!

Oh! will you not serve him!

2. But the idea is not brought out fully, unless we take another sense.

There is a sternness which cannot be condemned. A Christian man will

often feel him self called to bear most solemn and stern witness against

the error of his times, But Christ's mission, although it certainly did

testify against the sin of his times, yet had a far greater reference to the

salvation of the souls of men. To show the idea that I have in my own

mind, which I have not yet brought out, I must picture Elijah. What a

man was he! His mission was to be the bold unflinching advocate of the

right, and to bear a constant testimony against the wickedness of his

age. And how boldly did he speak! Look at him: how grand the picture!

Can you not conceive him on that memorable day, when he met Ahab,

and Ahab said, "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" Do you mark

that mighty answer which Elijah gave him, while the king trembles at

his words. Or, better still, can you picture the scene when Elijah said,

"Take you two bullocks, ye priests, and build an altar, and see this day,

whether God be God or Baal be God." Do you see him as he mocks the

worshippers of Baal, and with a biting irony says to them, "Cry aloud,

for he is a god." And do you see him in the last grand scene, when the

fire has come down from heaven, and consumed the sacrifice, and

licked up the water, and burned the altar? Do you hear him cry, "Take

the prophets of Baal; let not one escape?" Can you see him in his might

hewing them in pieces by the brook, and making their flesh a feast for

the fowls of heaven? Now, you cannot picture Christ in the same

position He had the stern qualities of Elijah, but he kept them, as it

were, behind, hike sleeping thunder, that must not as yet waken and lift

up its voice. There were some rumblings of time tempest, it is true,

when he spoke so sternly to the Sadducees, and Scribes, and Pharisees;

those woes were like murmurings of a distant storm, but it was a distant

storm; whereas, Elijah lived in the midst of the whirlwind itself, and

was no still small voice, but was as the very fire of God, and hike the

chariot in which he mounted to heaven-- fit chariot for such a fiery

man! Christ here stands in marked contrast. Picture him in somewhat a

like position to Elijah with Ahab. There is Jesus left alone with an

adulterus woman. She has been taken in the very fact. Her accusers are

present, ready to bear witness against her.

By a simple sentence he emptied the room of every witness; convicted by

their conscience they all retire. And now what does Christ say? The woman

might have lifted her eyes, and have looked at him, and said, "Hast thou

found me O mine enemy? "--for she might have regarded Christ as the enemy of

so base a sin as that which she had committed against her marriage bed.

But instead thereof Jesus said, "Doth no man condemn thee? Neither do

I condemn thee; go and sin no more." Oh, how different from the

sternness or Elijah! Sinners! if I had to preach Elijah as your Saviour I

should feel that I had a hard task, for you might throw it in my teeth--

"Shall we come to Elijah? He will call fire from heaven on us, as he did

upon the captains and their fifties. Shall we come to Elijah? Surely he

will slay us, for we have been like the prophets of Baal?" Nay, sinners;

but I bid you come to Christ. Come to him, who, although he hated sin

more than Elijah could do, yet nevertheless, loved the sinner--who,

though he would not share iniquity, yet spares the transgressors, and

has no words but those of love and mercy, and peace and comfort, for

those of you who will now come and put your trust in him.

I must put in a word here by way of caveat. I am very far from

imputing, for a single moment, any blame to Elijah. He was quite right.

None but Elijah could have fulfilled the mission which his Master gave

him. He needed to be all he was, and certainly not less stern; but Elijah

was not sent to be a Saviour; he was quite unfit for that. He was sent to

administer a stern rebuke. He was God's iron tongue of threatening, not

God's silver tongue of mercy. Now, Jesus is the silver tongue of grace.

Sinners! hear the sweet bells ringing, as Jesus now invites you to come

unto him. "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden;' for I

am not stern, I am not harsh, I am no fire- killing Elijah; I am the meek,

tender, lowly-hearted Jesus."

3. Christ is meek in heart. To exhibit this quality in another light, call

to your minds Moses. Moses was the meekest of men; and yet Christ far

excels Moses in his meekness. Around Moses there seems to be a hedge, a ring

of fire. The character of Moses is like Mount Sinai; it hath bounds set

about it, so that one cannot draw near unto him. Moses was not an

approachable person, he was quiet and meek, and tender, but there was a

sacred majesty about the King in Jeshurun that hedged his path, so that we

cannot imagine the people making themselves familiar with him. Whoever read

of Moses sitting down upon a well, and talking to a harlot like the woman of

Samaria? Whoever heard a story of a Magdalene washing the feet of Moses? Can

ye conceive Moses eating bread with a sinner, or passing under a sycamore

tree, and calling Zaccheus, the thievish publican, and bidding him come

down? There is a kind of stately majesty in Moses, no mere affectation of

standing alone, but a loneliness of superior worth. Men looked up to him as

to some cloud-capped mountain, and despaired of being able to enter into

the lofty circle, within which they might have communed with him.

Moses always had in spirit what he once had in visible token; he had a

glory about his brow, and before he could converse with men he must

wear a veil, for they could not bear to look upon the face of Moses. But

how different is Jesus! He is a man among men; wherever he goes no

one is afraid to speak to him. You scarcely meet with any one who

dares not approach him. There is a poor woman, it is true, who hath the

flux, and she fears to come near him, because she is ceremonially

unclean; but even she can come behind him in the press, and touch the

hem of his garment, and virtue goeth Out of him. Nobody was afraid of

Jesus.

The mothers brought their little babes to him: whoever heard of

their doing that to Moses? Did ever babe get a blessing of Moses? But

Jesus was all meekness--the approachable man, feasting with the

wedding guests, sitting down with sinners, conversing with the unholy

and the unclean, touching the leper, and making himself at home with

all men. Sinners! this is the one we invite you to--this homely man,

Christ. Not to Moses, for you might say, "He hath horns of light, and

how shall I draw near to his majesty ! He is bright perfection--the very

lightnings of Sinai rest upon his brow." But sinners, ye cannot say that

of Christ. He is as holy as Moses--as great, and far greater, but he is still

so homely that ye may come to him. Little children, ye may put your

trust in him. Ye may say your little prayer,

"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,

Look on me, a little Child;

Pity my simplicity,

Suffer me to come to thee."

He will not cast you away, or think you have intruded on him. Ye

harlots, ye drunkards, ye feasters, ye wedding guests, ye may all come;

"This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." He is "meek and

lowly in heart." That gives, I think, a still fuller and broader sense to the

term, "meek."

4. But yet, to push the term a little further. Christ on earth was a king;

but there as nothing about him of the exclusive pomp of kings, which

excludes the common people from their society. Look at the Eastern

king Ahasuerus, sitting on his throne. He is considered by his people as

a superior being. None may come in unto the king, unless he is called

for. Should he venture to pass the circle, the guards will slay him,

unless the king stretches out the golden sceptre. Even Esther, his

beloved wife, is afraid to draw near, and must put her life in her hand, if

she comes into the presence of the king uncalled. Christ is a king; but

where his pomp? Where the Janitor that keeps his door, and thrusts

away the poor? Where the soldiers that ride on either side of his chariot

to screen the monarch from the gaze of poverty? See thy King, O Sion!

He comes, he comes in royal pomp! Behold, Judah, behold thy King

cometh! But how cometh he? "Meek and lowly, riding upon an ass, and

upon a colt, the foal of an ass." And who are his attendants? See, the

young children, boys and girls! They cry, "Hosannah! Hosannah!

Hosannah!" And who are they that wait upon him? His poor disciples.

They pull the branches from the trees; they cast their garments in the

street, and there he rideth on-- Judah's royal King. His courtiers are the

poor; his pomp is that tribute which grateful hearts delight to offer. O

sinners, will you not come to Christ? There is nothing in him to keep

you back. You need not say, like Esther did of old," I will go in unto

the king, if I perish I perish. Come, and welcome! Come, and welcome!

Christ is more ready to receive you than you are to come to him. Come

to the King! "What is thy petition, and what is thy request? It shall be

done unto thee." If thou stayest away, it is not because he shuts the

door, it is because thou wilt not come. Come, filthy, naked, ragged,

poor, lost, ruined, come, just as thou art. Here he stands, like a fountain

freely opened for all comers. "Whosoever will, let him come and take

of the waters of life freely."

5. I will give you but one more picture to set forth the meekness of

Christ, and I think I shall not have completed the story without it. The

absence of all selfishness from the character of Christ, makes one

ingredient of this precious quality of his meekness. You remember the

history of Jonah. Jonah is sent to prophecy against Nineveh; but he is

selfish. He will not go for he shall get no honour by it. He does not

want to go so long a journey for so small a price. He will not go. He

will take a ship and go to Tarshish. He is thrown out into the sea,

swallowed by a fish, and vomited by it upon dry land. He goes away to

Nineveh, and not wanting courage, he goes through its streets, crying,

"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." That one man's

earnest cry moves the city from one end to the other. The king

proclaims a first; the people mourn in sackcloth and confess their sins.

God sends them tidings of mercy, and they are spared. But what will

Jonah do? Oh, tell it not, ye heavens; let none hear it--that ever a

prophet of God could do the like! He sits himself down, and he is angry

with God. And why his anger? Because, says he, "God has not

destroyed that city." If God had destroyed the city he would have

shouted over the ruins, because his reputation would have been safe;

but now that the city is saved, and his own reputation for a prophet

tarnished, he must needs sit down in anger. But Christ is the very

reverse of this. Sinners! Christ does thunder at you sometimes, but it is

always that he may bring you to repentance. He does take Jonah's cry,

and utter it far more mightily than Jonah could; he does warn you that

there is a fire that never can be quenched, and a worm that dieth not;

but if you turn to him, will he sit down and be angry? Oh! no; methinks

I see him. There you come poor prodigals; your father falls upon your

neck and kisses you, and you are accepted, and a feast is made. Here

comes the elder brother, Jesus. What does he say? Is he angry because

you are saved? Ah! no! "My Father," saith he, "my younger brother

have all come home, and I love them; they shall share my honours; they

shall sit upon my throne; they shall share my heaven." "Where I am,

there they shall be also." I will take them into union with myself, and as

they have wasted their inheritance, all that I have shall be their's for

ever. Oh! come home, prodigal, there is no angry brother and no angry

father. Come back, come back, my brother, my wandering brother, I

invite thee; for Jesus is rejoiced to receive thee. Do you not see, then,

that the meekness of Christ is a sweet and blessed reason why we

should come to him?

II. The second virtue which Christ claims for himself, is LOWLINESS OF

HEART.

When I looked this passage out in the original, I half wondered how it

was that Christ found such a sweet word for the expression of his

meaning; for the Greeks, do not know much about humility, and they

have not a very good word to set forth this idea of lowliness of heart. I

find that if this passage stood in another connection, the word might

even be interpreted "degraded, debased," for the Greeks thought that if

a man was humble, he degraded himself--that if he stooped, he debased

himself right out. "Well," says Christ, "if you think so, so be it, and he

takes the word. The word means, "near the ground." So is Christ's heart.

We cannot be so low that he will not stoop to reach us. I would just set

out the lowliness of Christ's heart in this way. Christ is "lowly in heart;"

that is, he is willing to receive the poorest sinner in the world. The

pharisee thought that the keeper of the gate of heaven would admit only

the rich, and not the poor. Mark Christ's teaching. There were two came

to the gate once upon a time; one was clothed in purple and fine linen,

and fared sumptuously every day; he knocked, and thought that full

sure he must enter; but "in hell he lift up his eyes being in torments."

There came another, borne on angel's wings. It was a beggar, whose

many sores the dogs had licked and he had not so much as to knock at

the gate, for the angel's carried him straight away into the very centre of

paradise, and laid him in Abraham's bosom. Jesus Christ is willing to

receive beggars into his bosom. Kings, you know, condescend, when

they permit even the rich to be presented to them, and the kissing of a

monarch's hand is something very wonderful indeed, but to have the

kisses of his lips who is the King of kings, is no uncommon thing for

men that are shivering in rags, or that are sick upon miserable beds, in

dingy attics. Christ is "lowly in heart;" he goes with what men call the

vulgar herd; he hath nothing of affected royalty about him--he hath a

nobler royalty than that, the royalty that is too proud to think anything

of a stoop, that can only measure itself by its own intrinsic excellence,

and not by its official standing. He receiveth the lowest, the meanest,

the vilest, for he is "lowly in heart." If I have among my congregation

some of the poorest of the poor, let them come away to Christ, and let

them not imagine that their poverty need keep them back. I am always

delighted when I see a number of women here from the neighbouring

workhouse. I bless God that there are some in the workhouse that are

willing to come; and though they have sometimes been put to a little

inconvenience by so doing, yet I have known them sooner give up their

dinner than give up coming to hear the Word. God bless the workhouse

women, and may they be led to Christ, for be is meek and lowly in heart, and

will not reject them. I must confess also, I like to see a smock frock here

and there in the midst of the congregation. Oh! what a mercy, that in the

palace of the Great King there shall be found these workmen, these blouses,

They shall be made partakers of the kingdom of God. He makes no difference

between prince and pauper; he takes men to heaven just as readily from the

workhouse, as from the palace.

Further, this lowliness of heart in Christ leads him to receive the most

ignorant as well as the learned to himself. I know that sometimes poor

ignorant people get a notion in their heads that they cannot be saved,

because they cannot read and do not know much. I have sometimes,

especially in country villages, received this answer, when I have been

asking anything about personal religion. "Well, you know, sir, I never

had any learning." Oh! but, ye unlearned, is this a reason why ye should

stay away from him who is lowly in heart? It was said of an old Greek

philosopher, that he wrote over his door, "None but the learned may

enter here." But Christ, on the contrary, writes over his door, "He that is

simple let him turn in hither." There are many great men with long

handles to their names who know little of the gospel, while some of the

poor unlettered ones spell out the whole secret, and become perfect

masters in divinity. If they had degrees who deserve them, diplomas

should often be transferred, and given to those who hold the plough

handle or work at the carpenter's bench; for there is often more divinity

in the little finger of a ploughman than there is in the whole body of

some of our modern divines. "Don't they understand divinity?" you say.

Yes, in the letter of it; but as to the spirit and life of it, D.D. often

means DOUBLY DESTITUTE.

The lowliness of Christ may be clearly seen in yet another point of

view. He is not only willing to receive the poor, and to receive the

ignorant, but he is also ever ready to receive men, despite the vileness

of their characters. Some teachers can stoop, and freely too, to both

poor and ignorant; but they cannot stoop to the wicked. I think we have

all felt a difficulty here. "However poor a man may be, or however little

he knows," you say, "I don't mind talking with him, and trying to do

him good; but I cannot talk with a man who is a rogue or a vagabond,

or with a woman who has lost her character." I know you cannot; there

are a great many things Christ did which we cannot do. We, who are the

servants of Christ, have attempted to draw a line where duty has its

bound. Like the domestic servant in some lordly mansion who stoops

not to menial employment. We are above our work. We are so fastidious, that

we cannot go after the chief of sinners, and the vilest of the vile. Not so,

Christ. "He receiveth sinners and eateth with them."

He, in the days of his flesh, became familiar with the outcasts. He

sought them out that he might save them; he entered their homes; he

found his way into the slums. like some diligent officer of the police, he

was willing to lodge where they lodged, eat at their table, and associate

with their class to find them out. His mission was to seek as well as to

save. Oh, see him stand, with arms wide open! Will that thief, who is

justly executed for his crimes, be recognized by him? Yes, he will.

There, with his arms outstretched, he hangs; the thief flies as it were to

his bosom, and Jesus gives him a most blessed embrace. "To-day shalt

thou be with me in Paradise." Christ has received the thief with open

heart and open arms too. And there is Mary. Do you see her? She is

washing the feet of Jesus. Why, she is a bad character, one of the worst

women on the town. What will Christ say? Say? Why, hear how he

speaks to Simon, the pious, reputable Pharisee. Saith he, after putting

the parable concerning the two debtors, "which of them shall love him

most?"--and then he explains that this woman hath had much forgiven,

and therefore she loves him much. "Thy sins, which are many, are all

forgiven," saith he, and she goes her way in peace. There are many men

you and I would not demean ourselves to notice, that Christ will take to

heaven at last; for he is "lowly in heart." He takes the base, the vilest,

the scum, the offscouring, the filth, the garbage of the world, and out of

such stuff and matter as that, he buildeth up a holy temple, and

gathereth to himself trophies for his honour and praise.

And further, while I speak of the lowliness of Christ's heart, I must

remark another thing. Perhaps one is saying here, "Oh! sir, it is not

what I have been, as to my conduct, that keeps me back from Christ; but I

feel that what I am as to my nature restrains me; I am such a dolt, I shall

never learn in his school I am such a hard-hearted one, he will never melt

me, and if he does save me, I shall never be worth his having. Yes, but

Christ is "lowly in heart." There are some great goldsmiths that of course

can only think of preparing and polishing the choicest diamonds; but Jesus

Christ polishes a common pebble, and makes a jewel of it. Goldmsiths make

their precious treasures out of precious materials; Christ makes his

precious things out of dross. He begins always with bad material. The palace

of our king is not made of cedar wood, as Solomon's, or if it be made of

wood, certainly he has chosen the knottiest trees and the knottiest planks

wherewith to build his habitation. He has taken those to he his scholars who

were the greatest dunces; so amazing is the lowliness of Christ's heart. He

sits down on the form with us to teach us the A,B,C, of repentance, and if

we are slow to learn it he begins again, and takes us through our

alphabet, and if we forget it he will often teach us our letters over again;

for though he is able to teach the angels, yet he condescends to instruct

babes, and as we go step by step in heavenly literature, Christ is not

above teaching the elements. He teaches not only in the University, and

the Grammar-school, where high attainments are valued, but he teaches

in the day-school, where the elements and first principles are to be

instilled. It is he who teaches the sinner, what sinner means in deep

conviction, and what faith means in holy assurance. It is not only he

who takes us to Pisgah, and bids us view the promised land, but it is he

also who takes us to Calvary, and makes us learn that simplest of all

things, the sacred writing of the cross. He, if I may use such a phrase,

will not only teach us how to write them highly ornamental writing of

the Eden Paradise, the richly gilded, illuminated letters of communion

and fellowship, but he teaches us how to make the pot-hooks amid

hangers of repentance and faith. he begins at the beginning; for he is

"meek and lowly in heart." Come, then, ye dolts, ye fools; come ye

sinners, ye vile ones; come, ye dullest of all scholars, ye poor, ye

illiterate, ye who are rejected and despised of men; come to him who

was rejected and despised as well as you. Come and welcome! Christ

bids you come!

"Let not conscience make you linger;

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness he requireth,

Is to feel your need of him:

This he gives you;

'Tis his Spirit's rising beam.

Come, poor sinners! come to a gentle Saviour! and you shall never regret

that you came to him.

III. Having thus spoken on the two marks of our Lord's character, I

propose to conclude, if God shall help me, by knocking home the nail,

by driving in the wedge, and pressing upon you a conclusion from

these arguments. The conclusion of the whole matter is this, since

Christ is "meek and lowly in heart," sinners come to him.

Come to him, then, first, whoever you may be, for he is "meek and

lowly in heart." When a man has done anything wrong, and wants a

help through his difficulty, if about to employ some counsel to plead

for him in a court of law, he might say, "Oh! don't engage Mr. So-and-

so for me; I hear he is a very hard-hearted man; I should not like to tell

him what I have done, and entrust my case in his hands. Send for Mr.

So-and-so; I have heard that he is very kind and gentle; let him come

and hear my case, and let him conduct the pleadings for me:" Sinner!

you are sinful, but Christ is very tender-hearted. Speed thy way to

Christ's private chamber,--your own closet of prayer. Tell him all you

have done; he will not upbraid you: confess all your sins; he will not

chide you. Tell him all your follies; he will not be angry with you.

Commit your case to him, and with a sweet smile he will say, "I have

cast thy sins behind my back; thou hast come to reason with me; I will

discover to thee a matter of faith which excels all reason,--" Though thy

sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red like

crimson, they shall be whiter than snow Come to Christ, then, sinful

ones, because he is "meek and lowly in heart," and he can bear with the

narrative of your offences. "But, sir, I am very timid, and I dare not go."

Ah, but however timid you may be, you need not be afraid of him. He

knows your timidity, and he will meet you with a smile, and say, "Fear

not. Be of good cheer. Tell me thy sin, put thy trust in me, and thou

shalt even yet rejoice to know my power to save. Come now," saith he,

"come to me at once. Linger no longer. I do not strive nor cry, nor

cause my voice to be hearth in the streets. A bruised reed I will not

break, the smoking flax I will not quench; but I will bring forth

judgment unto victory." Come then, ye timid ones to Christ for he is

meek and lowly in heart. "Oh," says one, "but I am despairing; I have

been so long under a sense of sin, I cannot go to Christ." Poor soul! he

is so meek and lowly, that, despairing though thou mayest be, take

courage now; though it be like a forlorn hope to thee, yet go to him.

Say, in the words of the hymn--

" I' ll to the gracious King approach,

Whose sceptre pardon gives;

Perhaps he may command my touch,

And then the suppliant lives.

I can but perish if I go;

I am resolved to try;

For if I stay away, I know

I must for ever die."

And you may add this comfortable reflection--

"But if I die with mercy sought,

When I the King have tried,

This were to die (delightful thought!)

As sinner never died."

Come to him, then, timid and despairing; for he is "meek and lowly in

heart." First, he bids thee confess. What a sweet confessor! Put thy lip

to his ear, and tell him all. He is "meek and lowly in heart." Fear not.

None of thy sins can move him to anger. If thou dost but confess them.

If thou keepest them in thy heart, they shall be like a slumbering

volcano; and a furnace of destruction thou shalt find even to the

uttermost by-and-bye. But confess thy sins; tell them all; he is meek

and lowly in heart." Happy confession! when we have such a confessor.

Again, he bids thee trust him; and canst thou not trust him? He is "meek

and lowly in heart." Sinner! put confidence in Christ. There never was

such a tender heart as his, never such a compassionate face. Look him

in the face, poor soul, as thou seest him dying on the tree, and say, is

not that a face that any man might trust! Look at him! Canst thou doubt

him? Wilt thou withhold thy cause from such a Redeemer as this? No,

Jesus! thou art so generous, so good, so kind Take thou my cause in

hand. Just as I am, I come to thee. Save me, I beseech thee, for I put my

trust in thee.

And then Jesus not only bids you confess and believe, but he bids you

afterwards serve him. And sure, sinners, this should be a reason why

you should do it. that he is so "meek and lowly in heart." It is said,

"Good masters make good servants." What good servants you and I

ought to be, for what a good Master we have! Never an ill word doth he

say to us. If sometimes he pointeth out anything we have done amiss, it

is only for our good. Not for his profit doth he chasten, but for ours.

Sinner! I ask thee not to serve the god of this world--that foul fiend who

shall destroy thee after all thy service. The devil is thy master now, and

ye have heard the wages he bestows. But come and serve Christ, the

meek and lowly one, who will give thee good cheer while thou art

serving him, and give thee a blessed reward when thy work is done.

And now, best of all, sinners! come to Christ. Come to him in all his

offices, for he is "meek and lowly in heart." Sinner! thou art sick--

Christ is a physician. If men have broken a bone, and they are about to

have a surgeon fetched, they say, "Oh! is he a feeling tender hearted

man?" For there is many an army surgeon that takes off a leg, and never

thinks of the pain he is giving. "Is he a kind man?" says the poor

sufferer, when he is about to be strapped down upon the table." Ah!

poor sufferer, Christ will heal thy broken bones, and he will do it with

downy fingers. Never was there so light a touch as this heavenly

surgeon has. "Tis pleasure even to he wounded by him, much more to

be healed, Oh! what balm is that he gives to the poor bleeding heart!

Fear not; there was never such a physician as this. If he give thee now

and then a bitter pill and a sour draught, yet he will give thee such

honied words and such sweet promises therewith, that thou shalt

swallow it all up without murmuring. Nay, if he be with thee, thou

canst even swallow up death in victory; and never know that thou hast

died because victory hath taken the bitter taste away.

Sinner! thou art not only sick, and therefore bidden to come to him, but

thou art moreover in debt, and he offers now to pay thy debts, and to

discharge them in full. Come, come to him, for he is not harsh. Some

men, when they do mean to let a debtor off, first have him in their

office, and give him as much as they can of the most severe rebukes;--"

You rogue, you! how dare you get in my debt, when you knew you

could not pay? You have brought a deal of trouble on yourself, you

have ruined your family," and so forth; and the good man gives him

some very sound admonition, and very right too; till at length he says,

"I'll let you off this time; come, now, I forgive you, and I hope you will

never do so again." But Christ is even better than this. "There is all your

debt," he says, "I have nailed it to the cross; sinner, I forgive thee all,"

and not one accusing word comes from his lips. Come, then, to him.

I fear I have spoilt my master in the painting; something like the artist

who had to depict some fair damsel, and he so misrepresented her

features, that she lost her reputation for beauty. I have sometimes feared

lest I should do the same, and so distort the face of Christ, and so fail of

giving the true likeness of his character that you would not love him.

Oh! could you see him! If he could stand here for one moment, and tell

you that he was meek and lowly in heart. Oh, methinks you would run

to him and say, "Jesus, we come Thou meek and lowly Messiah, be

thou our all!" Nay, you would not come; I am mistaken. If sovereign

grace draw you not under the sound of the gospel, neither would you be

converted though Christ should appear before you. But hear now the

message of that gospel--"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you

shall be saved; for he that believeth on him, and is baptized shall be

saved; he that b

Rest, Rest

January 8th, 1871

by

C. H. SPURGEON

(1834-1892)

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give

you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and

lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is

easy, and my burden is light.-- Matthew 11:28-40.11.30 .

We have oft repeated those memorable words, and they have brought

us much comfort; but it is possible that we may never have looked

deeply into them, so as to have seen the fulness of their meaning. The

works of man will seldom bear close inspection. You shall take a

needle which is highly polished, which appears to be without the

slightest inequality upon its surface, and you shall put it under a

microscope, and it will look like a rough bar of iron; but you shall

select what you will from nature, the bark or the leaf of a tree, or the

wing or the foot of an insect, and you shall discover no flaw, magnify it

as much as you will, and gaze upon it as long as you please. So take the

words of man. The first time you hear them they will strike you; you

may hear them again and still admire their sentiment, but you shall

soon weary of their repetition, and call them hackneyed and over-

estimated. The words of Jesus are not so, they never lose their dew,

they never become threadbare. You may ring the changes upon his

words, and never exhaust their music: you may consider them by day

and by night, but familiarity shall not breed contempt. You shall beat

them in the mortar of contemplation, with the pestle of criticism, and

their perfume shall but become the more apparent. Dissect, investigate,

and weigh the Master's teaching word by word, and each syllable will

repay you. When loitering upon the Island of Liddo, off Venice, and

listening to the sound of the city's bells, I thought the music charming

as it floated across the lagune; but when I returned to the city, and sat

down in the centre of the music, in the very midst of all the bells, the

sweetness changed to a horrible clash, the charming sounds were

transformed into a maddening din; not the slightest melody could I

detect in any one bell, while harmony in the whole company of

noisemakers was out of the question. Distance had lent enchantment to

the sound. The words of poets and eloquent writers may, as a whole,

and heard from afar, sound charmingly enough; but how few of them

bear a near and minute investigation! Their belfry rings passably, but

one would soon weary of each separate bell. It is never so with the

divine words of Jesus. You hear them ringing from afar and they are

sweetness itself. When as a sinner, you roamed at midnight like a

traveller lost on the wilds, how sweetly did they call you home! But

now you have reached the house of mercy, you sit and listen to each

distinct note of love's perfect peal, and wonderingly feel that even

angelic harps cannot excel it.

We will, this morning, if we can, conduct you into the inner chambers

of out text, place its words under the microscope, and peer into the

recesses of each sentence. We only wish our microscope were of a

greater magnifying power, and our ability to expound the text more

complete; for there are mines of instruction here. Superficially read,

this royal promise has cheered and encouraged tens of thousands, but

there is a wealth in it which the diligent digger and miner shall alone

discover. Its shallows are cool and refreshing for the lambs, but in its

depths are pearls for which we hope to dive.

Our first head, this morning, is rest: "Come unto me, all ye that labor

and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The second head is rest:

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in

heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

I. Let us begin at the beginning with the first REST, and here we will

make divisions only for the sake of bringing out the sense more clearly.

1. Observe the person invited to receive this first rest: "Come unto me,

all ye that labor and are heavy laden." The word "all" first demands

attention: "All ye that labor." There was need for the insertion of that

wide word. Had not the Saviour said a little before, "I thank thee, O

Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things

from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes?" Some

one who had been listening to the Saviour, might have said, "The

Father, then, has determined to whom he will reveal the Christ; there is

a number chosen, according to the Father's good pleasure, to whom the

gospel is revealed; while from another company it is hidden!" The too

hasty inference, which it seems natural for man to draw from the

doctrine is, "Then there is no invitation for me; there is no hope for me;

I need not listen to the gospel's warnings and invitations." So the

Saviour, as if to answer that discouraging notion, words his invitation

thus, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden." Let it not

be supposed that election excludes any of you from the invitation of

mercy; all of you who labor, are bidden to come. Whatever the great

doctrine of predestination may involve, rest assured that it by no means

narrows or diminishes the extent of gospel invitations. The good news

is to be preached to "every creature" under heaven, and in this

particular passage it is addressed to all the laboring and heavy laden.

The description of the person invited is very full. It describes him both

actively and passively. "All ye that labor"--there is the activity of men

bearing the yoke, and ready to labor after salvation; "heavy laden"--

there is the passive form of their religious condition, they sustain a

burden, and are pressed down, and sorely wearied by the load they

bear. There are to be found many who are actively engaged in seeking

salvation; they believe that if they obey the precepts of the law they

will be saved, and they are endeavoring to the utmost to do them; they

have been told that the performance of certain rites and ceremonies will

also save them, they are performing those with great care; the yoke is

on their shoulders, and they are laboring diligently. Some are laboring

in prayer, some are laboring in sacraments, others in self-denials and

mortifications, but as a class they are awakened to feel the need of

salvation, and they are intensely laboring to save themselves. It is to

these the Saviour addresses his loving admonition: in effect he tells

them, "This is not the way to rest, your self-imposed labors will end in

disappointment; cease your wearisome exertions, and believe in me, for

I will at once give you rest--the rest which my labors have earned for

believers." Very speedily those who are active in self-righteously

working for salvation fall into the passive state, and become burdened;

their labor of itself becomes a burden to them. Besides the burden of

their self-righteous labor, there comes upon them the awful,

tremendous, crushing burden of past sin, and a sense of the wrath of

God which is due to that sin. A soul which has to bear the load of its

own sin, and the load of divine wrath, is indeed heavily laden. Atlas

with the world upon his back had a light load compared with a sinner

upon whom mountains of sin and wrath are piled. Such persons

frequently are burdened, in addition, by fears and apprehensions; some

of them correct, others of them baseless, but anyhow the burden daily

grows. Their active labors do not diminish their passive sufferings. The

acute anguish of their souls will often be increased in proportion as

their endeavors are increased; and while they hope at first that if they

labor industriously they will gradually diminish the mass of their sin, it

happens that their labor adds to their weariness beneath its pressure;

they feel a weight of disappointment, because their labor has not

brought them rest; and a burden of despair, because they fear that

deliverance will never come. Now these are the persons whom the

Saviour calls to himself--those who are actively seeking salvation,

those who are passively bearing the weight of sin and of divine wrath.

It is implied, too, that these are undeserving of rest, for it is said,

"Come unto me, and I will give you rest." A gift is not of merit but of

grace; wages and reward are for those who earn, but a gift is a matter of

charity. O you who feel your unworthiness this morning, who have

been seeking salvation earnestly, and suffering the weight of sin, Jesus

will freely give to you what you cannot earn or purchase, he will give it

as an act of his own free, rich, sovereign mercy; and he is prepared, if

you come to him, to give it to you now, for so has he promised, "Come

unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

2. Notice next, the precept here laid down: "Come." It is not "Learn," it

is not "Take my yoke"--that is in the next verse, and is intended for the

next stage of experience-but in the beginning the word of the Lord is,

"Come unto me," "Come." A simple word, but very full of meaning. To

come is to leave one thing and to advance to another. Come, then, ye

laboring and heavy laden, leave your legal labors, leave your self-

reliant efforts, leave your sins, leave your presumptions, leave all in

which you hitherto have trusted, and come to Jesus, that is, think of,

advance towards, rely upon the Saviour. Let your contemplations think

of him who bore the load of human sin upon the cross of Calvary,

where he was made sin for us. Let your minds consider him who from

his cross hurled the enormous mass of his people's transgressions into a

bottomless sepulchre, where it was buried forever. Think of Jesus, the

divinely-appointed substitute and sacrifice for guilty man. Then, seeing

that he is God's own Son, let faith follow your contemplation; rely

upon him, trust in him as having suffered in your stead, look to him for

the payment of the debt which is due from you to the wrath of God.

This is to come to Jesus. Repentance and faith make up this "Come"--

the repentance which leaves that place where you now stand, the faith

which comes into reliance upon Jesus.

Observe, that the command to "Come" is put in the present tense, and

in the Greek it is intensely present. It might be rendered something like

this: "Hither to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden!" It is a

"Come" which means not "Come to-morrow or next year," but "Now,

at once." Advance, ye slaves, flee from your task-master now! Weary

ones recline on the promise now, and take your rest! Come now! By an

act of instantaneous faith which will bring instantaneous peace, come

and rely upon Jesus, and he will now give you rest. Rest shall at once

follow the exercise of faith. Perform the act of faith now. O may the

eternal Spirit lead some laboring heavy laden soul to come to Jesus,

and to come at this precise moment!

It is "Come unto me." Notice that. The Christ in his personality is to be

trusted in. Not "Come to John, and hear him say, "Repent, for the

kingdom of heaven is at hand,'" for no rest is there. John commands a

preparation for the rest, but he has no rest to give to the soul. Come not

to the Pharisees, who will instruct you in tradition, and in the jots and

tittles of the law; but go past these to Jesus, the man, the God, the

mediator, the Redeemer, the propitiation for human guilt. If you want

rest come to Christ in Gethsemane, to Christ on Calvary, to Christ

risen, to Christ ascended. If you want rest, O weary souls, ye can find it

nowhere until ye come and lay your burdens down at his dear pierced

feet, and find life in looking alone to him. There is the precept then.

Observe it is nothing but that one word, "Come." It is not "Do;" it is not

even "Learn." It is not, "Take up my yoke," that will follow after, but

must never be forced out of its proper place. To obtain the first rest, the

rest which is a matter of gift--all that is asked of you is that you come

to have it. Now, the least thing that charity itself can ask when it gives

away its alms, is that men come for it. Come ye needy, come and

welcome; come and take the rest ye need. Jesus saith to you, "Come

and take what I freely give." Without money come, without merit

come, without preparation come. It is just, come, come now; come as

you are, come with your burden, come with your yoke, though the

yoke be the yoke of the devil, and the burden be the burden of sin, yet

come as you are, and the promise shall be fulfilled to you, "I will give

you rest."

3. Notice next the promise spoken, "I will give you rest." "I will give."

It is a rest that is a gift; not a rest found in our experience by degrees,

but given at once. As I shall have to show you, the next verse speaks of

the rest that is found, wrought out, and discovered; but this is a rest

given. We come to Jesus; we put out the empty hand of faith, and rest

is given us at once most freely. We possess it at once, and it is ours

forever. It is a present rest, rest now; not rest after death; not rest

after a time of probation and growth and advancement; but it is rest given

when we come to Jesus, given there and then. And it is perfect rest too;

for it is not said, nor is it implied, that the rest is incomplete. We do not

read, "I will give you partial rest," but "rest," as much as if there were

no other form of it. It is perfect and complete in itself. In the blood and

righteousness of Jesus our peace is perfect.

I shall not stay except to ask you now, brethren and sisters, whether

you know the meaning of this given rest. Have you come to Jesus and

has he given you perfect and present rest? If so, I know your eye will

catch joyously those two little words, "And I," and I would bid you

lovingly remember the promiser who speaks. Jesus promises and Jesus

performs. Did not all your rest, when first your sin was forgiven, come

from him? The load was gone, but who took it? The yoke was

removed, but who lifted it from off the shoulder? Do you not give to

Jesus, this day, the glory of all your rest from the burden of guilt? Do

you not praise his name with all your souls? Yes, I know you do. And

you know how that rest came to you. It was by his substitution and

your faith in that substitution. Your sin was not pardoned by a violation

of divine justice; justice was satisfied in Jesus; he gave you rest. The

fact that he has made full atonement is the rest of your spirit this

morning. I know that deep down in your consciences, the calm which

blesses you springs from a belief in your Lord's vicarious sacrifice. He

bore the unrest that you might have the rest, and you receive rest this

day as a free gift from him. You have done now with servile toils and

hopeless burdens, you have entered into rest through believing; but all

the rest and deliverance still comes to you as a gift from his dear hands,

who purchased with a price this blessing for your souls. I earnestly

wish that many who have never felt that rest, would come and have it;

it is all they have to do to obtain it--to come for it; just where they now

are, if God enables them to exercise a simple act of faith in Jesus, he

will give them rest from all their past sins, from all their efforts to save

themselves, a rest which shall be to his glory and to their joy.

II. We must now advance to our second head--REST.

It looks rather strange that after having received rest, the next verse

should begin: "Take my yoke upon you." "Ah! I had been set free from

laboring, am I to be a laborer again?" Yes, yes, take my yoke and

begin. "And my burden is light." "Burden? Why, I was heavy laden

just now, am I to carry another burden?" Yes. A yoke--actively and a

burden--passively, I am to bear both of these. "But I found rest by

getting rid of my yoke and my burden!" And you are to find a further

rest by wearing a new yoke, and bearing a new burden. Your yoke

galled, but Christ's yoke is easy; your burden was heavy, but Christ's

burden is light. Before we enter into this matter more fully, let us

illustrate it. How certain it is that a yoke is essential to produce rest,

and without it rest is unknown! Spain found rest by getting rid of that

wretched monarch Isabella; an iron yoke was her dominion upon the

nation's neck, crushing every aspiration after progress by an intolerable

tyranny. Up rose the nation, shook off its yoke, and threw aside its

burden, and it had rest in a certain sense, rest from evil. But Spain has

not fully rested yet, and it seems that she will never find permanent rest

till she has voluntarily taken up another yoke, and found for herself

another burden. In a word, she must have a strong, settled, recognized

government, and then only will her distractions cease. This is just a

picture of the human soul. It is under the dominion of Satan, it wears

his awful yoke, and works for him; it bears his accursed burden, and

groans under it; Jesus sets it free--but has it, therefore, a perfect rest?

Yes, a rest from, but not a rest in. What is wanted now is a new

government; the soul must have a sovereign, a ruling principle, a

master-motive; and when Jesus has taken that position, rest is come.

This further rest is what is spoken of in the second verse. Let me give

you another symbol. A little stream flowed through a manufacturing

town; an unhappy little stream it was, for it was forced to turn huge

wheels and heavy machinery, and it wound its miserable way through

factories where it was dyed black and blue, until it became a foul and

filthy ditch, and loathed itself. It felt the tyranny which polluted its very

existence. Now, there came a deliverer who looked upon the streamlet

and said, "I will set thee free and give thee rest." So he stopped up the

water-course, and said, "abide in thy place, thou shalt no more flow

where thou art enslaved and defiled." In a very few days the brooklet

found that it had but exchanged one evil for another. Its waters were

stagnating, they were gathering into a great pool, and desiring to find a

channel. It was in its very nature to flow on, and it foamed and swelled,

and pressed against the dam which stayed it. Every hour it grew more

inwardly restless, it threatened to break the barrier, and it made all who

saw its angry looks tremble for the mischief it would do ere long. It

never found rest until it was permitted to pursue an active course along

a channel which had been prepared for it among the meadows and the

corn fields. Then, when it watered the plains and made glad the

villages, it was a happy streamlet, perfectly at rest. So our souls are

made for activity, and when we are set free from the activities of our

self-righteousness and the slavery of our sin we must do something,

and we shall never rest until we find that something to do. Hence in the

text you will be pleased to see that there is something said about a

yoke, which is the ensign of working, and something about a burden,

which is the emblem of enduring. It is in man's mortal nature that he

must do or endure, or else his spirit will stagnate and be far from rest.

1. We will consider this second rest, and notice that it is rest after rest.

"I will give you rest" comes before "Ye shall find rest." It is the rest of

a man who is already at rest, the repose of a man who has received a

given rest, and now discovers the found rest. It is the rest of a learner--

"Learn of me, and ye shall find rest." It is not so much the rest of one

who was aforetime laboring and heavy laden, as of one who is to-day

learning at the Saviour's feet. It is the rest of a seeker evidently, for

finding usually implies a search. Having been pardoned and saved, the

saved man in the course of his experience discovers more and more

reason for peace; he is learning, and seeking, and he finds. The rest is

evidently lighted upon, however, as a thing unknown, which becomes

the subject of discovery. The man had a rest from his burden; now he

finds a rest, in Christ, which exceeds what he asked or even thought.

I have looked at this rest after rest as being a treasure concealed in a

precious box. The Lord Jesus gives to his people a priceless casket,

called the gift of rest; it is set with brilliants and inlaid with gems, and

the substance thereof is of wrought gold; whosoever possesses it feels

and knows that his warfare is accomplished and his sin is pardoned.

After awhile the happy owner begins to examine his treasure. It is all

his own, but he has not yet seen it all, for one day he detects a secret

drawer, he touches a hidden spring, and lo! Before him lies a priceless

Koh-i-noor surpassing all the rest. It had been given him it is certain,

but he had not seen it at first, and therefore he finds it. Jesus Christ

gives us in the gift of himself all the rest we can ever enjoy, even

heaven's rest lies in him; but after we have received him we have to

learn his value, and find out by the teaching of his Spirit the fulness of

the rest which he bestows.

Now, I say to you who are saved, you who have looked to Jesus Christ,

whether you looked this morning or twenty years ago, have you found

out all that there is in the gift which Christ has given you? Have you

found out the secret drawer yet? He has given you rest, but have you

found the innermost rest which he works in your hearts? It is yours, for

it is included in the one gift; but it is not yours enjoyed, understood,

and triumphed in as yet unless you have found it, for the rest here

meant is a rest after rest, a spiritual, experienced rest, which comes

only to those who find it by experience.

2. Further observe that the rest in this second part of our text is a rest in

service. It is coupled with a yoke, for activity--"Take my yoke;" it is

connected with a burden, for endurance--"My burden is light." He who

is a Christian will not find rest in being idle. There is no unrest greater

than that of the sluggard. If you would rest take Christ's yoke, be

actively engaged in his service. As the bullock has the yoke put upon

its neck and then begins to draw, so have the yoke of Christ put on

your neck and commence to obey him. The rest of heaven is not the

rest of sleep; they serve him day and night in his temple. They are

always resting, and yet, in another sense, they rest not day nor night.

Holy activity in heaven is perfect rest. True rest to the mind of the child

of God is rest on the wing, rest in motion, rest in service, not rest with

the yoke off, but with the yoke on. We are to enter upon this service

voluntarily; we are to take his yoke upon us voluntarily. You observe, it

does not say, "Bear my yoke when it is laid upon you, but take it." Do

not need to be told by the minister, "My dear brother, such-and-such a

work you are bound to do," but take up the yoke of your own accord.

Do not merely submit to be the Lord's servant, but seek his service.

Ask, "What can I do?" Be desirous to do it' voluntarily, cheerfully, do

all that lieth in you for the extension of his kingdom who has given you

rest, and you shall find that the rest of your soul shall lie in your doing

all you can for Jesus. Every active Christian will tell you he is never

happier than when he has much to do; and, on the whole, if he

communes with Jesus, never more at rest than when he has least

leisure. Look not for your rest in the mere enjoyments and excitements

of religion, but find your rest in wearing a yoke which you love, and

which, for that reason, is easy to your neck.

But, my dear brother, you must also be willing to bear Christ's burden.

Now the burden of Christ is his cross, which every Christian must take

up. Expect to be reproached, expect to meet with some degree of the

scandal of the cross, for the offence of it never ceases. Persecution and

reproach are a blessed burden; when your soul loves Jesus it is a light

thing to suffer for him, and therefore never, by any cowardly

retirement or refusal to profess your faith, evade your share of this

honorable load. Woe unto those who say, "I will never be a martyr."

No rest is sweeter than the martyr's rest. Woe unto those who say, "We

will go to heaven by night along a secret road, and so avoid the shame

of the cross." The rest of the Christian is found not in cowardice but in

courage; it lies not in providing for ease but in the brave endurance of

suffering for the truth. The restful spirit counts the reproach of Christ to

be greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt; he falls in love with

the cross, and counts the burden light, and so finds rest in service, and

rest in suffering. Note that well.

3. The rest before us is rest through learning. Does a friend say, "I do

not see how I am ever to get rest in working, and rest in suffering?" My

dear brother, you never will except you go to school, and you must go

to school to Christ. "Learn of me," saith he, "for I am meek and lowly

in heart." Now, in order to learn of Christ it is implied that we lay aside

all prejudices of the past. These things much prevent our finding peace.

Have you any preconceived notions of what religion should be? Have

you fashioned on your own anvil ideas of what the doctrines of the

gospel ought to be? Throw them all away; learn of Jesus, and unlearn

your own thoughts.

Then, when you are willing to learn, please to note what is to be

learned. In order to get perfect rest of mind you have to learn of Jesus

not only the doctrines which he teaches, but a great deal more than that.

To go to school to be orthodox is a good enough thing, but the

orthodoxy which brings rest is an orthodoxy of the spirit. Observe the

text, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me." What? For I am wise

and learned, and can teach you? No; you are to learn from his example

to be "meek and lowly in heart," and in learning that you will "find rest

unto your souls." To catch the spirit of Jesus is the road to rest. To

believe what he teaches me is something, to acknowledge him as my

religious leader and as my Lord is much, but to strive to be conformed

to his character, not merely in its external developments but in its

interior spirit, this is the grammar of rest. Learn to be like the meek and

lowly-hearted One, and ye shall find rest.

He tells us the two points in which we are to learn of him. First, he is

meek, then he says he is lowly in heart. Take the work "meek" first. I

think that refers to the yoke-bearing, the active labor. If I actively labor

for Christ I can only find rest in the labor by possessing the meek spirit

of my Lord; for if I go forth to labor for Christ without a meek spirit, I

shall very soon find that there is no rest in it, for the yoke will gall my

shoulder. Somebody will begin objecting that I do not perform my

work according to his liking. If I am not meek I shall find my proud

spirit rising at once, and shall be for defending myself; I shall be

irritated, or I shall be discouraged and inclined to do no more, because

I am not appreciated as I should be. A meek spirit is not apt to be

angry, and does not soon take offence, therefore if others find fault, the

meek spirit goes working on, and is not offended; it will not hear the

sharp word, nor reply to the severe criticism. If the meek spirit be

grieved by some cutting censure and suffers for a moment, it is always

ready to forgive and blot out the past, and go on again. The meek spirit

in working only seeks to do good to others; it denies itself; it never

expected to be well treated; it did not aim at being honored; it never

sought itself, but purposed only to do good to others. The meek spirit

bowed its shoulder to the yoke, and expected to have to continue

bowing in order to keep the yoke in the right place for labor. It did not

look to be exalted by yoke-bearing; it is fully contented if it can exalt

Christ and do good to his chosen ones. Remember how meek and lowly

Jesus was in all his service, and how calmly, therefore, he bore with

those who opposed him? The Samaritans would not receive him, and

therefore John, who felt the yoke a little galling to his unaccustomed

shoulder, cried, "Master, call fire from heaven." Poor John! But Christ

bore the yoke of service so well because of his meek spirit that he

would do nothing of the kind. If one village would not receive him he

passed on to another, and so labored on. Your labor will become very

easy if your spirits are very meek. It is the proud spirit that gets tired of

doing good if it finds its labors not appreciated; but the brave, meek

spirit, finds the yoke to be easy. "Consider him who endured such

contradictions of sinners against himself lest ye be weary and faint in

your minds." If ye learn his meekness his yoke will be pleasant to your

shoulder, and you will never wish to have it removed.

Then, as to the passive part of our rest-lesson, note the text, "I am lowly

in heart." We shall all have to bear something for the truth's sake so

long as we are here. The reproach is a part of the gospel. The rod is a

blessing of the covenant. The lowly heart finds the burden very light

because it acquiesces in the divine will. The lowly heart says, "Not my

will but thine be done; let God be glorified in me, it shall be all I ask.

Rich, poor, sick, or in health, it is all the same to me. If God the great

One has the glory, what matters where such a little one as I am may be

placed?" The lowly spirit does not seek after great things for itself, it

learns in whatsoever state it is therewith to be content. If it be poor,

"Never mind," says the lowly one, "I never aspired to be rich; among

the great ones of this earth I never desired to shine." If it be denied

honor, the humble spirit says, "I never asked for earthly glory, I seek

not mine own honor but his that sent me. Why should I be honored, a

poor worm like me? If nobody speaks a good word of me, if I get

Christ to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," that is enough.

And if the lowly-hearted have little wordly pleasure, he says, "This is

not my place for pleasure, I deserve eternal pain, and if I do not have

pleasures here I shall have them hereafter. I am well content to abide

my time." Our blessed Lord was always of that lowly spirit. He did not

strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets. The

baubles of empire had no charm for him. Had fame offered to sound

her trumpet for none but him he would have cared not one whit for the

offer. The kingdoms of this world and the glory thereof were offered

him, and he repelled the tempter. He was gentle, unobtrusive, self-

denying; hence he treated his burden of poverty and shame as a light

thing. "He endured the cross, despising the shame." If we once learn

Christ's spirit we shall find rest unto our souls.

4. But we must pass on to notice, that it is very evident that the rest

which we are to find is a rest which grows entirely out of our spirits

being conformed to the spirit of Christ. "Learn of me, and ye shall find

rest." It is then a spiritual rest altogether independent of circumstances.

It is a vain idea of ours, to suppose that if our circumstances were

altered we should be more at rest. My brother, if you cannot rest in

poverty, neither would you in riches; if you cannot rest in the midst of

persecution, neither would you in the midst of honor. It is the spirit

within that gives the rest, that rest has little to do with any thing

without. Men have sat on thrones and have found them uneasy places,

while others on the rack have declared that they were at rest. The spirit

is the spring of rest, as for the outward surroundings they are of small

account. Let but your mind be like the mind of Christ, and you shall

find rest unto your souls: a deep rest, a growing rest, a rest found out

more and more, an abiding rest, not only which you have found, but

which you shall go on to find. Justification gave you rest from the

burden of sin, sanctification will give you rest from molesting cares;

and in proportion as it becomes perfect, and you are like your Saviour,

your rest shall become more like that of heaven.

I desire one other thing to be called to your mind before I turn to the

practical use of the text, and that is that here, as in the former rest, we

are led to adore and admire the blessed person of our Lord. Observe the

words, "For I." Oh! it all comes from him still, the second rest as much

as the first, the casket and the treasure in the secret drawer. It all hinges

there, "For I am." In describing the second rest there is more said

concerning him than in the first. In the first part of our text it only says,

"I will give you rest;" but in the second part his character is more fully

explained--"For I am meek and lowly in heart;" as if to show that as

believers grow in grace, and enjoy more rest, they see more of Jesus

and know more of him. All they know when sin is pardoned is that he

gives it, perhaps they hardly know how; but afterwards when they

come to rest in him in sweet fellowship, they know more of his

personal attributes, and their rest for that very reason becomes more

deep and perfect.

Come we now to the practical use of all this. Read the chapter before us

and find the clue. First, my dear brethren, if you find rest to your souls

you will not be moved by the judgment of men. The children in the

market-place were the type of our Lord's generation, who railed both at

John the Baptist and at our Lord. The generation which now is follows

the same course, men are sure to cavil at our service. Never mind; take

Christ's yoke on you, live to serve him; take Christ's burden, make it a

point to bear all things for his sake, and you will not be affected either

by praise or censure, for you will find rest to your souls in surrendering

yourself to the Father's will. If you learn of Jesus you will have rest

from the fear of men. I recollect, before I came to London, being at a

prayer-meeting where a very quaint brother prayed for me that I might

be delivered from the "bleating of the sheep." I understood it after

awhile, he meant that I might live above the fear of man, that when

such a person said "How much we have been edified today," I might

not be puffed up; or if another said, "How dull the discourse was to-

day," I might not be depressed. You will be delivered from "the

bleating of the sheep" when you have the spirit of the Good Shepherd.

Next you will be delivered from fretfulness at want of success. "Then

began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were

done, because they repented not." He had wrought his mighty works,

and preached the gospel, and they did not repent. Was Jesus

discouraged? Was he, as we sometimes are, ready to quit the work?

No; his heart rested even then. If we come to Jesus, and take his yoke

and burden, we too shall find rest, though Israel be not gathered.

Then, too, our Lord denounced judgments upon those who repented

not. He told them that those who had heard the gospel and rejected it

would find it more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of

judgment than for them. There are some who quarrel with the

judgments of God, and declare that they cannot bear to think of the

condemnation of the impenitent. Is not this because they do not bear

the burden of the Lord, but are self-willed? The saints are described in

the book of Revelation as singing "Hallelujah" while the smoke of

Babylon goeth up for ever and ever. We shall never receive with

humble faith the judgment of God in its terror until we take Christ's

yoke, and are lowly in heart. When we are like Jesus we shall not feel

that the punishment is too much for the sin, but we shall sympathize

with the justice of God, and say "Amen" to it. When the mind is lowly

it never ventures to sit in judgment upon God, but rests in the

conviction that the Judge of all must do right. It is not even anxious to

make apologies and smooth down the fact, for it feels, it is not mine to

justify him, he can justify himself.

So, again, with regard to the divine sovereignty. Notice the rest of the

Saviour's mind upon that matter: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of

heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and

prudent." Learning of Jesus we too shall rest in reference to divine

decrees; we shall rejoice in whatever the Lord determines;

predestination will not cast a gloom over us, but we shall thank God for

all he ordains.

What a blessed rest! As we open it up, does not its compass and depth

surprise you? How sweet to lie passive in his hands, reconciled to every

mystery, content with every dispensation, honored by every service

satisfied in God!

Now, I do not know whether I am right, but it struck me, when

considering this text from various points, that probably our Saviour

meant to convey an idea of deeper fellowship than we have yet

considered. Did not he mean this--that he carried a yoke on his

shoulder, which he calls, "my yoke?" When bullocks are yoked, there

are generally two. I have watched them in Northern Italy, and noticed

that when two are yoked together, and they are perfectly agreed, the

yoke is always easy to both of them. If one were determined to lie

down and the other to stand up, the yoke would be very uncomfortable;

but when they are both of one mind you will see them look at each

other with those large, lustrous, brown eyes of theirs so lovingly, and

with a look they read each other's minds, so that when one wants to lie

down, down they go, or when one wishes to go forward, forward they

both go, keeping step. In this way the yoke is easy. Now I think the

Saviour says to us, "I am bearing one end of the yoke on my shoulder;

come, my disciple, place your neck under the other side of it, and then

learn of me. Keep step with me, be as I am, do as I do. I am meek and

lowly in heart; your heart must be like mine, and then we will work

together in blessed fellowship, and you will find that working with me

is a happy thing; for my yoke is easy to me, and will be to you. Come,

then, true yoke-fellow, come and be yoked with me, take my yoke

upon you, and learn of me." If that be the meaning of the text, and

perhaps it is, it invites us to a fellowship most near and honorable. If it

be not the meaning of the text, it is at any rate a position to be sought

after, to be laborers together with Christ, bearing the same yoke. Such

be our lot. Amen.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 11". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/matthew-11.html. 2011.