Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Matthew 22

Verses 2-4

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

February 12, 1871 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed and all things are ready: come unto the marriage." Matthew 22:2-4 .

If God grant me strength I hope to go through this parable, but at this present we shall confine our thoughts to the opening scene of the royal festival. Before, however, we proceed further, it is most fitting that we give expression to our deep gratitude, that it has pleased the infinite mind to stoop to our narrow capacities, and instruct us by parable. How tenderly condescending is God to devise similitudes, that his children may learn the mysteries of the kingdom! If it be sometimes marveled at among men that great minds are ever ready to stoop, what a far greater marvel that God himself should bow the heavens and come down to meet our ignorance and slowness of comprehension! When the learned professor has been instructing his class in the hall in recondite matters of deep philosophy, and then goes home and takes his child upon his knee, and tries to bring down great truth to the grasp of his child's mind, then you see the great love of the man's heart: and when the eternal God, before whom seraphim are but insects of an hour, condescends to instruct our childishness and make us wise unto salvation, we may well say, "herein is love." Just as we give our children pictures that we may win the attention, and may by pleasing means fix truth upon their memories, so the Lord with loving inventiveness has become the author of many a charming metaphor, type, and allegory, by which he may gain our interest, and through his Holy Spirit enlighten our minds. If he who thunders till the mountains tremble, yet deigns to speak with us in a still small voice, let us gladly sit in Mary's place at his gracious feet, and willingly learn of him. O that God would give to each one a teachable spirit, for this is the greatest step towards understanding the mind of God. He who is willing to learn, in a childlike spirit, is already in a considerable measure taught of God. May we all so study this instructive parable as to be quickened by it to all that is well-pleasing in the sight of God, for after all true learning in godliness may be judged of by its result; upon our lives. If we are holier we are wiser, practical obedience to the will of the Lord Jesus is the surest evidence of an understanding heart. In order to understand the parable before us we must first direct our attention to the design of the "certain king" here spoken of. He had a grand object in view; he desired to do honor to his son upon the occasion of his marriage. We shall then notice the very generous method by which he proposed to accomplish his purpose; he made a dinner, and bade many: there were other modes of honoring his son, but the great king elected the mode which would best display his bounty. We shall then observe, with sad interest, the serious hindrance which arose to the carrying out of his generous design those who were bidden would not come. There was nothing to hinder the magnificence of the festival in the riches of the prince he lavished out his stores for the feast; but here was a hindrance strange and difficult to remove, they would not come. Then our thoughts will linger admiringly over the gracious rejoinder which the king made to the opposers of his design; he sent other servants to repeat the invitation, "Come ye to the marriage." If we shall drink deep into the meaning of these three verses, we shall have more than enough for one meditation. I. A certain king of wide dominions and great power designed to give a magnificent banquet, with a GRAND OBJECT in view. The crown prince, his well beloved heir, was about to take to himself a fair bride, and therefore the royal father desired to celebrate the event with extraordinary honors. From earth, look up to heaven. The great object of God the Father is to glorify his Son. It is his will "that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." (John 5:23 .) Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is glorious already in his divine person. He is ineffably blessed, and infinitely beyond needing honor. All the angels of God worship him, and his glory fills all heaven. He has appeared on the stage of action as the Creator and as such his glory is perfect, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him." He said, "Light be," and it flamed forth. He bade the mountains lift their heads, and their summits pierced the clouds. He created the water-floods, he bade them seek their channels, and he appointed their bounds. Nothing is lacking to the glory of the Word of God, who was in the beginning with God, who spake and it was done, who commanded, and it stood forth. He is highly exalted also as the preserver, for he is before all things, and by him all things consist. He is that nail fastened in a sure place, upon which all things hang. The keys of heaven, and death, and hell, are fastened to his girdle, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful. He hath a name which is above every name, before which all things shall bow, in heaven, and earth, and under the earth. He is God over all. He is blessed for ever. To him that is, and was, and is to come, the universal song goeth up. But there is another relation in which the Son of God has graciously been pleased to stand towards us. He has undertaken to be a Savior, in order that he might be a bridegroom. He had enough glory before, but in the greatness of his heart, he would magnify his compassion even above his power, and he therefore condescended to take into union with himself the nature of man, in order that he might redeem the beloved objects of his choice from the penalty due to their sins, and might enter into the nearest conceivable union with them. It is as Savior that the Father seeks to honor the Son, and the gospel feast is not for the honor of his person merely, but for the honor of his person in this new, yet anciently purposed relationship. It is for the honor of Jesus as entering into spiritual union with his church, that the gospel is prepared as a royal entertainment. Brethren, when I said that here was a grand occasion, it certainly is so in God's esteem, and it should be so in ours; we should delight to glorify the Son of God. To all loyal subjects in any realm, the marriage of one of the royal family is a matter of great interest, and it is usual and fitting to give expression to congratulations and sympathies by suitable rejoicings. In the instance before us the occasion calls for special joy from all the subjects of the great king of kings. For the occasion in itself is a subject for great delight and thankfulness to us personally. The marriage is with whom? With angels? He took not up angels. It is a marriage with our own nature, "he took up the seed of Abraham." Shall we not rejoice when heaven's great Lord is incarnate as a man, and stoops to redeem humanity from the ruin of the fall? Angels rejoice but they have no such share in the joy as we have. It is the highest personal joy to manhood that Jesus Christ who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, was made in the likeness of men that he might be one flesh with his chosen. Arise ye who slumber! If there was ever an occasion when ye should bestir your spirits and cry "wake up my glory, awake psaltery and harp" it is now, when Jesus comes to be affianced to his church, to make himself of one flesh with her, that he may redeem her, and afterwards exalt her to sit with him upon his throne. Here were abundant reasons why the invited guests should come with joyful steps, and count themselves thrice happy to be bidden to such a banquet. There is overwhelming reason wily mankind should rejoice in the glorious gospel of Jesus and hasten to avail themselves of it. Beside that we must consider the royal descent of the Bridegroom. Remember that Jesus Christ our Savior is very God of very God. Are we asked to do him honor? It is right, for to whom else should honor be given? Surely we should glorify our Creator and Preserver! Willful must be the disobedience which will not pay reverence to one so highly exalted and so worthy of all homage. It is heaven to serve such a Lord. His glory reaches unto the clouds; let him be adored for ever and ever; O come let us worship and bow down, let us cheerfully obey those commands of God which aim at the honor of his Son. Remember also the person of Immanuel, and you will desire his glory. This glorious Son, whose fame is to be spread abroad, is most certainly God of that we have spoken, but he is also most assuredly man, our brother, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Do we not delight to believe that he, tempted in all points as we are, has never yet submitted to be stained by sin? Never such a man as he, head of the race, the second Adam, the everlasting Father who among us would not do him reverence? Will we not seek his honor, seeing that now he lifts our race to be next to the throne of God. Remember, too, his character. Was there ever such a life as his? I will not so much speak of his divine character, though that furnishes abundant reason for worship and adoration, but think of him even as a man. O beloved, what tenderness, what compassion, yet what holy boldness; what love for sinners, and yet what love for truth! Men who have not loved him have nevertheless admired him, and hearts in which we least expected to see such recognition of his excellence have nevertheless been deeply affected as they have studied his life. We must praise him, for He is "chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely." It were treason to be silent when the hour has come to speak of him who is peerless among men and matchless among angels. Clap, clap your hands at the thought of the marriage of the King's Son, for whom his bride hath made herself ready. Think, too, of his achievements. We take into reckoning whenever we do honor to a prince all that he may have done for the nation over which he rules. What, then, has Jesus done for us? Rather let me say what has he not done? Upon his shoulders were laid our sins; he carried them into the wilderness, and they are gone for ever. Against him came forth our foes; he met them in shock of battle, and where are they now? They are cast into the depths of the sea. As for death itself, that last of foes, he has virtually overcome it, and ere long the weakest of us through him shall say "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" He is the hero of heaven. He returned to his Father's throne amidst the acclamations of the universe. Do we not, for whom he fought, for whom he conquered, do we not desire to honor him? I feel I speak with bated breath upon a theme where all our powers of speech should be let loose. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown him! Is it not the universal verdict of all who know him? Ought it not to be the cry of all the sons of men? East and west, and north and south, ought they not to ring the joy bells and hang out streamers on his marriage day, for joy of him? Is the King's Son to be married, is there a festival in his honor? O then let him be great, let him be glorious! Long live the King! Let the maidens go forth with their timbrels, and the sons of music make sweet melody yea, let all creatures that have breath break forth with his praises. "Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." II. Secondly, here is a GENEROUS METHOD of accomplishing the design. A king's son is to be honored on the day of his marriage, in what way shall it be done? Barbarous nations have their great festivals, and alas, that men should have sunk so low; on such occasions rivers of human blood are made to flow. To this very day, on the borders of civilization, there is found a wretched tyrant whose infernal customs, for I dare not call them by a less severe term, command the murder of hundreds of his fellow creatures in cold blood, on certain high days and festivals. Thus would the monster honor his son by acting like a fiend. No blood is poured forth to honor the Son of heaven's great King. I doubt not Jesus will have honor even in the destruction of men if they reject his mercy, but it is not so that God elects to glorify his Son. Jesus the Savior, on his wedding-day with manhood, is glorified by mercy, not by wrath. If blood be mentioned on such a day, it is his own by which he is glorified. The slaughter of mankind would bring no joy to him, he is meek and lowly, a lover of the sons of men. It has been the custom of most kings to signalize a princely wedding by levying a fresh tax, or demanding an increased subsidy from their subjects. In the case of the anticipated wedding of our beloved Queen's daughter, the dowry sought will be given with greater pleasure than upon any former occasion, and none of us would lift a whisper of complaint; but the parable shows that the King of kings deals with us not after the manner of man. He asks no dowry for his Son; he makes the marriage memorable not by demands but by gifts. Nothing is sought for from the people, but much is prepared for them, gifts are lavishly bestowed, and all that is requested of the subjects is, that they for awhile merge the subject in the more honorable character of the guest, and willingly come to the palace, not to labor or serve at the table, but to feast and to rejoice. Observe, then, the generous method by which God honors Christ is set forth here under the form of a banquet. I noted Matthew Henry's way of describing the objects of a feast, and with the alliteration of the Puritans, he says, "A feast is for love and for laughter, for fullness and for fellowship." It is even so with the gospel. It is for love; in the gospel, sinner, you are invited to be reconciled to God, you are assured that God forgives your sins, ceases to be angry, and would have you reconciled to him through his Son. Thus love is established between God and the soul. Then it is for laughter, for happiness, for joy. Those who come to God in Christ Jesus, and believe in him, have their hearts filled with overflowing peace, which calm lake of peace often lifts up itself in waves of joy, which clap their hands in exultation. It is not to sorrow but to joy that the great King invites his subjects, when he glorifies his Son Jesus. It is not that you may be distressed, but that you may be delighted that he bids you believe in the crucified Savior and live. A feast, moreover, is for fullness. The hungry famished soul of man is satisfied with the blessings of grace. The gospel fills the whole capacity of our manhood. There is not a faculty of our nature which is not made to feel its need supplied when the soul accepts the provisions of mercy; our whole manhood is satisfied with good things and our youth is renewed like the eagles. "For I have satisfied the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul." To crown all, the gospel brings us into fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. In Christ Jesus we commune with the sacred Trinity. God becomes our Father, and reveals his paternal heart. Jesus manifests himself unto us as he doth not unto the world, and the communion of the Holy Ghost abides with us. Our fellowship is like that of Jonathan with David, or Jesus with John. We feast on the bread of heaven, and drink wines on the lees well refined. We are brought into the heavenly banqueting house where the secret of the Lord is revealed to us, and our heart pours itself out before the Lord Very near is our communion with God; most intimate love and condescension does he show to us. What say you to this? Is there not here a rich repast worthy of him who prepares it. Here all your capacious powers can wish, O sinner, shall be given to you; all you want for time and for eternity God prepares in the person of his dear Son, and bids you receive it without money and without price. I have already told you that all the expense lies with him. It was a very sumptuous festival, there were oxen, and there were fatlings, but none of these were taken from the pastures, or stalls of the guests. The gospel is an expensive business; the very heart of Christ was drained to find the price for this great festival; but it costs the sinner nothing, nothing of money, nothing of merit, nothing of preparation. You rosy come as you are to the gospel feast, for the only wedding dress required is freely provided for you. Just as you are, you are bidden to believe in Jesus. You have nothing to do but to receive of his fullness, for to "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." You are not asked to contribute to the provision, but to be a feaster at the divine banquet of infinite compassion. How honorable, too, is the gospel to those who receive it. An invitation to a regal marriage was a high honor to those who were bidden. I do not suppose that many of us are likely to be invited to the Princess's wedding, and, if we were, we should probably be greatly elated, for we should most of us feel it to be one of the great events of our lives. So was it with these people. A king's son is not married every day, and it is not everybody that is bidden to the monarch's entertainment. All their lives long they would say, "I was at his wedding, and saw all the splendor of the marriage festival." Probably some of them had never before enjoyed such a feast as the luxurious potentate had prepared for that day, and had never before been in such good company. My brethren nothing so honors a man as for him to accept the gospel. While his faith honors Christ, Christ honors him. It is no mean thing to be a king's son, but those who come to the marriage feast of God's own Son shall become King's sons themselves themselves participators in the glory of the great heir of all things. While I am speaking of this generous method my heart glows with sacred ardor, and my wonder rises that men do not come to the banquet of love which honors all its guests. When the banquet is so costly to the host, so free to the guests, and so honorable to all concerned, how is it that there should be found any so unwise as to refuse the favor. Surely here is an illustration of the folly of the unrenewed heart, and a proof of the deep depravity which sin has caused. If men turn their backs on Moses with his stony tables, I do not marvel, but to despise the loaded tables of grace, heaped up with oxen and fatlings this is strange. To resist the justice of God is a crime, but to repel the generosity of heaven, what is this? We must invent a term of infamy with which to brand the base ingratitude. To resist God in majesty of terror is insanity but to spurn him in the majesty of his mercy is something more than madness. Sin reaches its climax when it resolves to starve sooner than owe anything to divine goodness. I feel I must anticipate the period for delivering my message, and as I have described to you the way in which God honors his Son, I must at once proclaim the invitation, and cry to you, "Come to the wedding feast. Come ye, and glorify Jesus by accepting the provisions of grace. Your works will not honor him, if you set them up as a righteousness in competition with his righteousness. Not even your repentance can glorify him, if you think to make it a rival to his precious blood. Come, guilty sinner, as you are, and take the mercy Jesus freely presents to you, and accept the pardon which his blood secures to those who believe in him." Methinks when the messenger went out from the King and first of all marked signs of neglect among those who were bidden, and saw that they would not come, he must have been mute with astonishment. He had seen the oxen, and seen the fatlings, and all the goodly preparations, he knew the King, he knew his Son, he knew what joy it was to be at such a feast; and when the bidden ones began to turn their backs on him, and go their way to their farms, the messenger, repeated his message over and over again with eagerness, wondering all the while at the treason which dared insult so good a Being. I think I see him, at first indignant for his Master's sake, and afterwards melted to pity as he saw what would surely come of such an extravagance of ingratitude, such a superfluity of insolence. We mourned that his fellow-citizens whom he loved should be such fools as to reject so good an offer, and spurn so blessed a proclamation. I, too, am tossed to and fro in soul, with mingled but vehement feelings. O, my God, thou hast provided the gospel, let none in this house reject it, and so slight thy Son and dishonor thee, but may all rejoice in thy generous way of glorifying Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom of his church, and may they come, and willingly grace the festival of thy love. III. We now advance to our third point, and regretfully remember THE SERIOUS HINDRANCE which for awhile interfered with the joyful event. The king had thought in his mind, "I will make a great feast, I will invite a large number. They shall enjoy all my kingdom can afford, and I shall thus show how much I love my son, and moreover all the guests will have sweet memories in connection with his marriage." When his messengers went out to intimate to those who had received previously an express invitation that the time was come, it is written, "They would not come;" not they could not, but they "would not come." Some for one reason, some for another, but without exception they would not come. Here was a very serious hindrance to the grand business. Cannot the king drag his guests to the table? Yes, but then it would not accomplish his purpose. He wants not slaves to grace his throne. Persons compelled to sit at a marriage-feast would not adorn it. What credit could it be to a king to force his subjects to feast at his table? No for once, as I have said before, the subject must be merged in the guest. It was essential to the dignity of the festival that the guests should come with cheerfulness to the festival, but they would not come. Why? Why would they not come? The answer shall be such as to answer another question Why do not you come and believe in Jesus! With many of them it was an indifference to the whole affair. They did not see what concern they had in the king or his son. Royal marriages were high things and concerned high people; they were plain-speaking men, farmers who went hedging and ditching, or tradesmen who made out bills and sold by the yard or pound. What cared they for the court, the palace, the king, the prince, his bride, or his dinner! They did not say quite that, but such was their feeling; it might be a fine thing, but it was altogether out of their line. How many run in the same groove at this hour? We have heard it said, "What has a working man to do with religion?" and we have heard others of another grade in life affirm that persons who are in business cannot afford time for religion, but had better mind the main chance. The Lord have mercy upon your folly! Here is one great obstacle to the gospel, the stolid indifference of the human mind concerning this grandest of all conceptions God's glorifying his dear Son by having mercy upon sinners. At the bottom the real reason for the refusal of those in the parable was that they were disloyal, they would not come to the supper because they saw an opportunity for the loyal to be glad, and not being loyal they did not wish to hear the songs and acclamations of others who were. By staying away they insulted the king, and declared that they cared not whether he was a king or not, whether his son was a prince or not. They determined to disavow their allegiance by refusing the invitation. They said in effect, "Anyhow, if he be a king and his son a prince, we will do him no honor, we will not be numbered with those who surround his board and show forth his splendor. No doubt a feast is worth having, and such a feast as there will be provided t'were well for us to participate in, but for once we will deny our appetites that we may indulge our pride. We proclaim a revolt. We declare we will not go." Ah, ye who believe not in Jesus, at the bottom of it your unbelief is enmity to your Maker, sedition against the great Ruler of the universe, who deserves your homage. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib," but ye know not, neither do ye consider; ye are rebels against the Majesty of heaven. Moreover, the refusal was a slight to the prince as well as to his father, and in some cases the gospel is refused mainly with this intent, because the unbeliever rejects the deity of Christ, or despises his atonement. O sirs, beware of this, I know of no rock more fatal than to dishonor Christ by denying his sonship and his deity. Split not upon it, I beseech you "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little." Indifference covered the refusal in the text, "they made light of it," but if you take off the film you will see that at the bottom there was treason against the majesty of the king, and distaste to the dignity of his son. No doubt some of them despised the feast itself. They must have known that with such a king it could not be a starveling meal, but they pretended to despise the feast. How many there are who despise the gospel which they do not understand, I say which they do not understand, for almost invariably if you hear a man depreciate the gospel, you will find that he has scarcely even read the New Testament and is a utter stranger to the doctrines of grace. Listen to a man who is voluble in condemnation of the gospel, and you may rest assured that he is fond because he is empty. If he understood the subject better he would find, if he were indeed a man of candor, that he would be led at least to be silent in admiration if he did not become loyal in acceptance. Beloved friends, the feast is such as you greatly need, let me tell you what it is. It is pardon for the past, renewal of nature for the present, and glory for the future. Here is God to be our helper, his Son to be our shepherd, the Spirit to be our instructor. Here is the love of the Father to be our delight, the blood of the Son to be our cleansing, the energy of the Holy Spirit to be life from the dead to us. You cannot want anything that you ought to want, but what is provided in the gospel, and Jesus Christ will be glorified if you accept it by faith. But here is the hindrance, men do not accept it, "they would not come." Some of us thought that if we put the gospel in a clear light, and if we were earnest in stating it our hearers must be converted, and God forbid we should ever try to do otherwise than make it plain and be earnest, but for all that the best ministry that ever was, or ever could be, will be unsuccessful in a measure; yea, and altogether so, unless the effectual work of the Spirit be present. Still will the cry go up, "Who hath believed our report?" Still will those who serve their Master best, have reason to mourn that they sow on stony ground, and cast their bread on thankless waters. Even the prince of preachers had to say, "Ye search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, but ye will not come to me that ye might have life." Alas, alas, that mercy should be rejected and heaven spurned. IV. So now we must close with the most practical matter of consideration, THE GRACIOUS REJOINDER of the king to the impertinence which interfered with his plans. What did he say? You will observe that they had been bidden, and then called; after the Oriental custom, the call intimated that the festival was now approaching, so that they were not taken unawares, but knew what they did. The second invitation they rejected in cold blood, deliberately, and with intent. What did the monarch do? Set their city in a blaze, and at once root out the rebels? No, but in the first place, he winked at their former insolent refusal. He said in himself, "Peradventure they mistook my servants, peradventure they did not understand that the hour was come. Perhaps the message that was delivered to them was too brief, and they missed its meaning. Or, if perchance, they have fallen into some temporary enmity against me, on reconsideration, they will wish that they had not been so rude, and ungenerous to me. What have I done that they should refuse my dinner? What has my son done that they should not be willing to honor him by feasting at my table. Men lone feasting, my son deserves their honor why should they not come? I will pass over the past and begin again." My hearers, there are many of you who have rejected Christ after many invitations, and this morning my Lord forgets your former unkindnesses, and sends me again with the same message, again to bid you "come to the wedding." It is no small patience which overlooks the past and perseveres in kindness, honestly desiring your good. The King sent another invitation "all things are ready, come ye to the marriage," but you will please to observe that he changed the messenger. "Again he sent forth other servants." Yes, and I will say it, for my soul feels it, if a change of messengers will win you, much as I love the task of speaking in my Master's name, I would gladly die now, where I am, that some other preacher might occupy this platform, if thereby you might be saved. I know my speech to some of you must be monotonous. I seek out images fresh and many, and try to vary my voice and manner, but for all that one man must grow stale to you when heard so often. Perhaps my modes are not the sort to touch your peculiarities of temperament well, good Master, set thy servant aside, and consider him not. Send other messengers if perchance they may succeed. But to some of you I am another messenger, not a better, but another, since my brethren have failed with you. Oh, then, when my voice cries, "Come unto Jesus, trust in his atonement, believe in him, look to him and live," let the new voice be successful, where former heralds have been disregarded. You notice, too, that the message was a little changed. At first it was very short. Surely if men's hearts were right, short sermons would be enough. A very brief invitation might suffice if the heart were right, but since hearts are wrong God bids his servants enlarge, expand, and expound. "Come, for all things are ready. I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fatlings are killed, all things are ready, come to the marriage." One of the best ways of bringing sinners to Christ is to explain the gospel to them. If we dwell upon its preparations, if we speak of its richness and freeness, some may be attracted whom the short message which merely tells the plan of salvation might not attract. To some it is enough to say, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," for they are asking, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" but others need to be attracted to the wedding feast by the description of the sumptuousness of the repast. We must try to preach the gospel more fully to you, but we shall never tell you of all the richness of the grace of God. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are his thoughts above your thoughts, and his ways above your ways. Forsake your sins and your thoughts and turn to the Lord, for he will abundantly pardon you. He will receive you to his heart of love, and give you the kiss of his affection at this hour, if, like prodigal children, you come back and seek your Father's face. The gospel is a river of love, it is a sea of love, it is a heaven of love, it is a universe of love, it is all love. Words there are none, fully to set forth the amazing love of God to sinners, no sin too big or too black, no crime too crimson or too cursed for pardon. If you do but look to his dear crucified Son all manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven you. There is forgiveness. Jesus gives repentance and remission. And then the happiness which will be brought to you here and hereafter are equally beyond description. You shall have heaven on earth and heaven in heaven; God shall be your God, Christ shall be your friend, and eternal bliss shall be your portion. In this last message the "guests were pressed very delicately, but still in a way which if they had possessed any generosity of heart at all, must have touched them. You see how the evangelist puts it, he does not say, "Come, or else you will miss the feast; come, or else the king will be angry; come, come, or else you will be the losers." No, but he puts it, as I read it, in a very remarkable way. I venture to say if I be wrong, the Master forgive me so saying the king makes himself the object of sympathy, as though he were an embarrassed host. See here, "My dinner is ready, but there is no one to eat it; my oxen and fatlings are all killed, but there are no guests." "Come, come," he seems to say, "for I am a host without guests." So sometimes in the gospel you will see God speaks as if he would represent himself as getting an advantage by our being saved. Now we know that herein he condescends in love to speak after the manner of men. What can he gain by us? If we perish what is he the loser? But he makes himself often in the gospel to be like a father who yearns over his child, longing for him to come home. He makes himself, the infinite God, turn beggar to his own creatures, and beseeches them to be reconciled. Wondrous stoop; for, like a chapman who sells his wares, he cries, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, let him come." Do you observe how Christ, as he wept over Jerusalem, seems to weep for himself as well as for them. "How often would I have gathered thy children together." And God, in the prophets, puts it as his own sorrow, "How can I set thee as Admah, how can I make thee as Zeboim," as if it were not the child's loss alone, but the father's loss also, if the sinner died. Do you not feel, as it were, a sympathy with God when you see his gospel rejected? Shall the cross be lifted high, and none look to it? Shall Jesus die, and men not be saved by his death? O blessed Lord, we feel, if nothing else should draw us, we must come when we see, as it were, thyself represented as a host under our embarrassment, for lack of guests. Great God, we come, we come right gladly, we come to participate of the bounties which thou hast provided, and to glorify Jesus Christ by receiving as needy sinners that which thy mercy has provided. Brethren and sisters since Christ finds many loath to honor him, my exhortation is to you who love him, honor him the more since the world will not. You who have been constrained to come, remember to sing as you sit at his table, and rejoice and bless his name. Next go home and intercede for those who will not come, that the Lord will enlighten their understandings, and change their wills, that they may be yet constrained to believe in Jesus; and as for those of you who feel half inclined this morning by the soft touches of his grace to come and feast, let me bid you come. It is a glorious gospel the feast is good. He is a glorious king the Host is good. He is a blessed Savior, he who is married, he is good. It is all good, and you shall be made good too, if your souls accept the invitation of the gospel which is given to you this day. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be damned." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." The Lord send his Spirit to make the call effectual, for his dear Son's sake. Amen.

Verse 5

Making Light of Christ

August 17, 1856

by

C. H. SPURGEON

(1834-1892)

"They paid no attention and went off - one to his field, another to his

business." [Matthew 22:5 ]

Man is not much changed since the days of Adam. In his bodily frame he

appears to be exactly similar, for skeletons many hundred years' old are the

exact counterparts of ours; and sure enough that which was recorded in

history as having been done by man centuries ago, might be written again, for

"there is nothing new under the sun." The same class of men is still to be

discovered (although, perhaps, differently dressed) as that which existed

ages long gone by. There are still men today who have the same disposition as

men in the Savior's day. "They paid no attention and went off - one to his

field, another to his business," making light of the glorious things of the

gospel.

I am certain I have many such characters here tonight, and I pray the Lord

that I may be enabled to discourse to them very solemnly and very clearly.

And I must ask all of you who understand the heavenly art of prayer, to pray

that God would be pleased to send home every thought into the breast where he

intends it to lodge, that it may bring forth the soft fruit of righteousness

in the salvation of many souls. "They paid no attention;" so do too many in

this day; and so will a large portion of my hearers tonight. I believe that

to pay no attention to Christ is a sin; and at all risks of being falsely

called legalist, or "free-willer," by those who consider themselves wiser

than what I have written, I will instruct you as such, for I hope I will

never belong to that class of Calvinists who do the devil's work by excusing

sinners in their sins.

In the first place, we shall have a few words with you, concerning "what it

is that the sinner pays no attention to; secondly, how it is that he pays no

attention; and thirdly, why it is that he pays no attention to it. Then a

general observation or two, and we will not weary you.

In the first place, WHAT IS IT THAT THE SINNER PAYS NO ATTENTION TO?

According to the parable, the person alluded to paid no attention to a

marriage banquet which a king had provided, with all kinds of delicacies, to

which they were freely invited, and from which they willfully stayed away

from. The spiritual meaning of this is easy to discover. Sinners who pay no

attention to Christ express their contempt of a glorious banquet which God

has provided at the marriage of His Son. This is solemn ground to tread upon.

Oh! for the teachings of the Holy Spirit.

Taking this parable as the basis of our remarks, we may observe, first, that

the sinner pays no attention to "the messenger who brings him the news that

the marriage supper is prepared." These men refused to come; they went-"One

to his field, another to his business," and so paid no attention to the

messenger; and every sinner who neglects the great salvation of Jesus Christ,

pays no attention to the gospel minister, which is a big insult in God's

estimation. It is never considered a small offense by our great nation, if

our ambassador is treated with indifference; and take it for a truth, it is

no light thing with God if you despise the ambassadors he sends to you. But

this is comparatively little; the ambassadors are men like yourselves, who

can well afford to be condemned, if that were all. In fact, we would be glad

to forgive you if it were in our power to do so, and if this were all your

guilt.

But these people "despised the feast." Some of them fancied that the fattened

cattle, and other provisions that would be on the table, would be no better

than what they had at home. They thought that the royal banquet would be no

big thing for which to give up their business for a day, or to renounce their

farming even for an hour. Oh! sinner, when you neglect the great salvation,

think about what you are despising; when you pay no attention to God's

gospel, you pay no attention to justification by faith; you pay no attention

to washing in the blood of Jesus; you pay no attention to the Holy Spirit;

you pay no attention to the road to heaven; and then you pay no attention to

faith, and hope, and love; you pay no attention to all the promises of the

eternal covenant, of all the glorious things that God has laid up for them

that love him, and of everything which he has revealed in his Word as being

the promised gift to those who come to him. It is a serious thing to pay no

attention to the gospel, for in that Word, God's gospel-good news, is summed

up in all that human nature can require, and all that even the saints in

bliss can receive. Oh! to despise the gospel of the blessed God, how mad! how

worse than folly! Despise the stars, and you are a fool; despise God's earth,

with its glorious mountains, with its flowing rivers, and its fair meadows,

and you art a maniac; but despise God's gospel, and you are ten thousand

maniacs in one. Pay no attention to that, and you are far more foolish than

he who sees no light in the sun, who beholds no fairness in the moon, and no

brilliancy in the starry sky. Trample, if you please, his lower works; but

oh! remember, when you pay no attention to the gospel, you are paying no

attention to the masterpiece of your great Creator-that which cost him more

than to create a myriad of worlds-the bloody purchase of our Savior's

agonies.

And, again, these people "paid no attention to the King's Son." In was his

marriage, and inasmuch as they stayed away, they dishonored the glorious One

in whose honor the supper was prepared. They slighted him whom his Father

loved. Oh! sinner, when you pay no attention to the gospel, you pay no

attention to Christ-that Christ before whom glorious celestial spirits bow

themselves-that Christ at whose feet the exalted archangel thinks it is

happiness to cast his crown; you pay no attention to him with whose praise

all of heaven rings; you pay no attention to him whom God makes much of, for

he has called him, "God over all, forever praised!" [Romans 9:5 ] Yes, it is a

solemn thing to pay no attention to Christ. Despise a prince, and you will

have little honor at the king's hand for it; but despise the Son of God, and

the Father will have vengeance on you for his slighted Son. Oh! my dear

friends, it seems to me to be a sin, not unpardonable, I know, but still most

heinous, that men should ever despise my blessed Lord Jesus Christ and treat

him with cruel scorn. Pay no attention to You, sweet Jesus! Oh! when I see

You with Your shirt of blood, wrestling in Gethsemane, I bow myself before

You, and I say, "O, Redeemer, bleeding for sin, can any sinner ever ignore

You?" When I behold him with a river of blood rolling down his shoulder,

beneath the cursed flogging of Pilate's whip, I ask, "Can a sinner refuse to

pay attention to such a Saviour as this?" And when I see him later, covered

with his blood, nailed to a cross, expiring in torture, shrieking, "Eli, Eli,

lama sabachthani," I ask myself, "Can anyone refuse to pay attention to

this?" Oh, if they do, then, indeed, it is a sin enough to damn them, if they

have no other sin-that they have lightly esteemed the Prince of Peace, who is

glorious and altogether lovely. Oh! my friend, if you pay no attention to

Christ, you have insulted the only one who can save you-the only one who can

carry you across the Jordan-the only one who can unbolt the gates of heaven,

and welcome you. Let no smooth talking preacher persuade you that this is not

a crime. O, sinner, think of your sin, if you pay no attention to him, then

you are paying no attention to the King's only Son.

And yet again, these people "also paid no attention to the King" who had

prepared the banquet, Oh! little do you know, O sinner, when you ignore the

gospel, you are insulting God. I have heard some say, "Sir, I do not believe

in Christ, but still I am sure I try to reverence God; I do not care about

the gospel, I do not wish to be washed in Jesus' blood, nor to be saved with

free grace; but I do not despise God; I am a very religious person!" No sir,

but you do insult the Almighty, inasmuch as you deny his Son. Despise a man's

offspring, and you have insulted the man himself; reject the one and only Son

of God, and you have rejected the eternal one himself. There is no such thing

as true religion apart from Christ; it is a lie and a falsehood, it is the

refuge of a man who is not brave enough to say he hates God, but it is only a

refuge of lies; for he who denies Christ in that act offends God, and shuts

heaven's gates against himself. There is no loving the Father except through

the Son; and there is no acceptable worship of the Father, except through the

Great High Priest the Mediator, Jesus Christ. Oh! my friend, remember you

have not merely despised the gospel, but you have despised the gospel's God.

In laughing at the doctrines of the Bible, you have laughed at God; in

scorning the truth of the gospel, you have scorned God himself, you have

shook your fist in the face of the Eternal; your blasphemy have not fallen on

the church, they have fallen on God himself. Oh! remember, you that mock the

message of Christ! Oh! remember, you that turn away from the ministry of

truth! God is a mighty one; how severely "can" he punish! God is a jealous

God; oh! how severely "will" he punish! Pay no attention to God, sinner? Why,

this above all things is a damning sin, and in committing it, it may be you

will one day sign your own death-warrant; for paying no attention to God, to

Christ, and to his holy gospel. You are destroying your own soul, and rushing

headfirst into hell. Oh! unhappy souls, most unhappy must you be, if you live

and die paying no attention to Christ, and preferring your farms and your

businesses to the treasures of the gospel.

Again, remember my poor, pitiable friend, that when you pay no attention to

all the things I have mentioned, "you are paying no attention to the

seriousness of eternity." The Man who pays no attention to the gospel pays no

attention to hell; he thinks its fires are not hot, and its flames not such

as Christ has described them; he pays no attention to the burning tears that

scald despairing cheeks forever; he pays no attention to the screams and

shrieks that must be the wretched songs and terrible music of perishing

souls. Oh! it is not wise to pay no attention to hell.

Consider again: you who pay no attention to heaven-that place to which the

blessed ones long to go, where glory reigns without a cloud, and bliss

without a sigh. You put the crown of everlasting life beneath your feet; you

tread the palm-branch of eternal peace beneath your unholy foot and you think

it not important to be saved, nor to be glorified. "Oh! poor soul, once you

are in hell, and when the iron key is turned forever in the lock of

inevitable destiny, you will find hell to be something easy to despise; and

when you have lost heaven and all its bliss, and can only hear the song of

the blessed, sounding faintly in the distance, increasing your misery by

contrast with their joy, then you will find it a very serious error to have

paid no attention to heaven. Every man who pays no attention to Christianity

pays no attention to these things. He misjudges the value of his own soul,

and the importance of its eternal state.

This is what men make light of, "Oh! sir," says one, "I never indulge in any

words hostile to God's truth, I never laugh at the minister, nor do I despise

the Sabbath." Stop, my friend, I will acquit thee of all that; and yet I will

solemnly lay to thy charge this great sin of making light of the gospel. Hear

me then!

II. HOW IS IT THAT MEN MAKE LIGHT OF IT?

In the first, it is making light of the gospel and of the whole of God's

glorious things, when men go to hear and yet do not attend. How many frequent

churches and chapels to indulge in a comfortable nap! Think what a fearful

insult that is to the King of heaven. Would they enter into Her Majesty's

palace, ask an audience, and then go to sleep before her face? And yet the

sin of sleeping in Her Majesty's presence, would not be so great, even

against her laws, as the sin of wilfully slumbering in God's sanctuary. How

many go to our houses of worship who do not sleep, but who sit with vacant

stare, listening as they would to a man would could not play a lively tune

upon a good instrument. What goeth in at one earth goeth out at another.

Whatever entereth the brain goeth out without ever affecting the heart. Ah,

my hearers, you are guilty of making light of God's gospel, when you sit

under a sermon without attending to it! Oh! what would lost souls give to the

hear another sermon! What would yonder dying wretch who is just now nearing

the grave, give for another Sabbath! And what will you give, one of these

days, when you shall be hard by Jordan's brink, that you might have one more

warning, and listen once more to the wooing voice of God's minister! We make

light of the gospel when we hear it, without solemn and awful attention to

it.

But some say they do attend. Well, it is possible to attend to the gospel,

and yet to make light of it. I have seen some men weep beneath a powerful

sermon; I have marked the tears chase each other-tears, blessed tell-tales of

emotions within. I have sometimes said to myself, it is marvellous to see

these people weep under some telling word from God, which is alarming them,

as if Sinai itself were thundering in their ears. But there is something more

marvellous than men's weeping under the word. It is the fact that they soon,

too soon, wipe all their tears away. But ah! my dear hearer, recollect that

if thou hearest of these things and shakest off a solemn impression, thou

art, in doing that, slighting God and making light of his truth; and take

heed how you do that, lest your own garments be red with the blood of your

soul, and it be said, "Oh, Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself."

But there are others who make light of it in a different fashion. They hear

the word and attend to it; but, alas! they attend to something else with it.

Oh! my hearer, thou makest light of Christ, if thou puttest him anywhere save

in the centre of thine heart. He who gives Christ a little of his affections,

makes light of Christ; for Christ will have the whole heart or none at all.

He who gives Christ a portion, and the world a portion, despises Christ, for

he seems to think that Christ does not deserve to have the whole. And

inasmuch as he says that, or thinks that, he hath mean and unholy thoughts of

Christ. Oh! carnal man, thou who art half religious, and half profane; thou

who art sometimes serious, but as often frivolous; sometimes apparently

pious, but yet so often unholy, thou makest light of Christ. And ye who weep

on the Sunday, and then go back to your sins on the Monday; ye who set the

world and its pleasures before Christ, ye think less of him than he deserves;

and what is that but to make light of him? Oh! I charge you, ask yourself, my

hearer this night, art not thou the man? dost thou not thou thyself make

light of Christ? The self-righteous man who sets himself up as a partner with

Christ in the matter of salvation, notwithstanding all his trumpery good

works, is such a ringleader among despisers, that I would gibbet him in the

very middle of them, and bid all like him tremble, lest they also be found

slighters of Jesus.

He makes light of Christ, again, who makes a profession of religion, and yet

does not live up to it. Ah! church members, ye want a great deal of sifting;

we have an immense quantity of chaff now mixed with the wheat; and sometimes

I think we have something worse than that. We have some in our churches that

are not so good as chaff, for they do not seem to have been near the wheat at

all; they are nothing better than tares. They have come into our churches,

just as they would into a trade-association, because they think it will

improve their business. It gives respectability to their name to take the

sacrament; it makes them esteemed to have been baptized, or to be a member of

a Christian church; and so they come in by shoals after the loaves and

fishes, but not after Jesus Christ. Ah! hypocrite, thou makest light of

Christ if thou thinkest that he is a stalkinghorse to get thee wealth. If

thou dreamest that thou art to saddle and bridle Christ, and ride to wealth

upon him, thou makest a grand mistake, for he was never meant to carry men

anywhere except to heaven. If you suppose that religion was intended to gild

your homes, to carpet your floors, and line your purses, you have greatly

erred. It was intended to be profitable to the soul; and he who thinks to use

religion to his own personal advantage thinks lightly of Christ: and at the

last day this crime shall be laid to his charge-that he has made light of

it;" and the King shall send his armies to cut him in pieces, among those who

have despised his Majesty, and would not obey his laws.

III. And now, in the third place, I will tell you WHY THEY MADE LIGHT OF IT.

They did so from different reasons.

Some of them made light of it because they were ignorant; they did not know

how good the feast was; they did not know how gracious the king was; they did

not know how fair the Prince was, or else they might have thought

differently. Now, there are many present to-night, I dare say, who think

lightly of the gospel, because they do not understand it. I have often heard

people laugh at religion; but ask them what it is, and they know no more

about religion than a horse, and worse than that, for they believe untruths

about it, and a horse does not do that. They laugh at it, simply because they

do not comprehend it; it is a thing beyond them. We have heard of a foolish

man who, whenever he heard a piece of Latin mentioned, laughed at it, because

he thought it was a joke, at any rate it was a very outlandish way of

talking-and so he laughed. So it is with many when they hear the gospel; they

do not know what it is, and so they laugh at it. "Oh!" they say, "the man is

mad." But why is he mad? Because you do not understand him. Are you so

conceited as to suppose that all wisdom and all learning must rest with you?

I would hint to you that the madness is on the other side. And though you may

say of him, "Much learning hath made thee mad;" we would reply, "It is quite

as easy to be made mad with none at all." And those who have none, and

especially those who have no knowledge of Christ, are the most likely to

despise him. Well did Watts say-

"His worth, if all the nations knew,

Sure, the whole earth would love him too."

Oh! dear friends, if you once knew what a blessed master Christ is, if you

once knew what a blessed thing the gospel is, if you could once be brought to

believe what a blessed God our God is, if you could only have one hour's

enjoyment such as the Christian experiences, if you could only have one

promise applied to your heart, you would never make light of the gospel

again. Oh! you say you do not like it! Why, you have never tried it? Should a

man despise the wine of which he has never sipped. It may be sweeter than he

dreams? Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good, and so sure as ever you

taste, you will see his goodness. I will venture to say, again, that there

are many who make light of the gospel, simply through ignorance; and if that

is so, I am somewhat in hopes that when they are a little enlightened by

sitting under the Word, the Lord may be pleased graciously to bring them to

himself; and then I know they will never make light of Christ again. Oh! do

not be ignorant, "for that the soul be without knowledge is not good." Seek

to know him whom to know aright is life eternal; and when you know him you

will never make light of him.

Other people make light of it because of pride. "What is the good," said one,

"of bringing me that invitation? Step into my house, my man, I will show you

a feast quite as good as any you can tell me of. Look here! there is good

cheer for you; my table is as well spread as any man's; begging his Majesty's

pardon, the King cannot give a better feast than I; and I do not see why I

should drag my bones about to get nothing better than I can get at home." So

he would not go, out of pride. And so with some of you. You want to be

washed! No, you were never filthy; were you? You need to be forgiven! Oh no!

you are rather too good for that. Why, you are so awfully pious in your own

conceit, that if it were all true, you would make even the angel Gabriel

blush to think of you. You do not think even an angel capable of holding a

candle to you. What! you seek for mercy? It is an insult to you. "Go and tell

the drunkard," you say, "go and fetch the harlot; but I am a respectable man;

I always go to church or chapel; I am a very good sort of fellow; I may

frolic now and then, but I make it up some other day; I am sometimes a little

slack, but then I rein the horses in, and make up the distance afterwards;

and I dare say I shall get to heaven as soon as anybody else. I am a very

good sort." Well, my friend, I do not wonder that you despise the gospel, for

the gospel just tells you that you are entirely lost. It tells you that your

very righteousness is full of sin. That, as for any hope of your being saved

by it, you might as well try to sail across the Atlantic on a sere leaf as

try to get to heaven by your righteousness. And as for it being a garment fit

to cover you, you might as well get a spider's web to go to court in, and

think it a dress fit to appear in before her Majesty. Ah! my hearer, I know

why thou despisest Christ; it is because of thy Satanic pride. May the Lord

pull the pride out of thee; for if he do not, it will be the faggot that

shall roast thy soul for ever. Take heed of pride; by pride fell the angels-

how can men, then, though the image of their Maker, hope to win by it? Shun

it, flee from it; for so sure as thou art proud, wilt thou incur the guilt of

making light of Christ.

Perhaps quite as many made light of the good news, because they did not

believe the messenger. "Oh!" said they, "stop a moment. What! a dinner to be

given away? I do not believe it. What! the young Prince going to be married?

Tell that to fools, we do not believe any such thing. What! we all invited?

We do not believe it; the story is incredible." The poor messenger went home

and told his Master that they would not believe him. That is just another

reason why many men make light of the gospel, because they do not believe it.

"What!" they say, "Jesus Christ died to wash men from their sins? We do not

believe it. What! A heaven. Who ever saw it? A hell! Who ever heard its

groans? What! Eternity. Who ever returned from that last hope of every

spirit. What! Blessedness in religion? We do not believe it-it is a moping,

miserable thing. What! Sweetness in the promises? No there is not; we believe

there is sweetness in the world, but we do not believe there is any in the

wells the Lord has digged." And so they despise the gospel, because they do

not believe it. But, I am sure, that when a man once believes it, he never

thinks lightly of it. Once let me have the solemn conviction in my heart by

the Holy Spirit, that if unsaved, there is a gaping gulf that shall devour

me; do you think I can go to rest till I have trembled from head to foot?

Once let me heartily believe that there is a heaven provided for those who

believe on Christ, do you think I could give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to

my eyelids, till I have wept because it is not mine? I believe not. But

damnable unbelief thrusts his hand into the mouth of an, and plucks up his

heart, and so destroys him, for it will not let him believe, and, therefore,

he cannot feel, because he believeth not. Oh! my friends, it is unbelief that

makes men think lightly of Christ; but unbelief will not do so by-and-bye.

There are no infidels in hell; they are all believers there. There are many

that were infidels here, but they are not so now; the flames are too hot to

make them doubt their existence. It is hard for a man, tormented in the

flame, to doubt the existence of the fire. It would be difficult for a man,

standing before the burning eyes of God, to doubt the existence of a God

after that. Ah! unbelievers, turn ye, or rather, may the Lord turn you from

your unbelief, for this makes you think lightly of Christ; and this is it

that is taking away your life, and destroying your souls.

Another set of people thought lightly of this feast because they were so

worldly; they had so much to do. I have heard of a rich merchant who was

waited on one day by a godly man, and when he stopped him, he said to him,

"Well, sir, what is the state of your soul?" "Soul!" he said, "bother you, I

have no time to take care of my soul; I have enough to do to take care of my

ships." About a week after, it so happened that he had to find time to die,

for God took him away. We fear he said to him, "Thou fool! this night thy

soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou

hast hoarded up for thyself?" Ye merchants of London, there are many of you

who read your ledgers more than your Bibles. Perhaps you must, but ye do not

read your Bibles at all, while ye read your ledgers every day. In America, it

is said, they worship the almighty dollar; I believe that in London many men

worship the almighty sovereign; they have the greatest possible respect for

an almighty bank note; that is the god which many men are always adoring. The

prayer-book they carry so religiously in their hands is their cash-book. Even

on Sunday, there is a gentleman over there, he does not think his foreman

knows it, but he was sitting in doors all this morning, because it was wet,

casting up his accounts; and now he comes here in the evening, because he is

a very pious man-extraordinarily so. He would shut the parks up on a Sunday,

he would-he would not let a soul get a breath of fresh air, because he is so

pious, but he himself may sit for half-a-day in the counting-house and yet

think it no sin. But many are too busy to think of these things. "Pray!" they

say, "I have no time for that; I have to pay. What! read the Bible? No I

cannot; I have to be looking over this thing and that thing, and seeing how

the markets go. I find time to read the Times, but I could not think of

reading the Bible." It will be marvellously unfortunate for some of you, that

you will find the lease of your lives rather shorter than you expected. If

you had taken a lease of your lives for eighty-eight years from this date,

you would be foolish enough, perhaps, to spend forty-four in sin. But

considering that you are a tenant at will, and liable to be turned out any

day, it is the height of folly, the very climax of absurdity, excelling all

that the fool, with his cap and bells, ever did, to be living just to gather

up the pelf of this world, and not for things to come. Worldliness is a demon

that hath wrung the neck of many souls; God grant that we may not perish

through our worldliness!

There is another class of people that I can only characterize in this way:

they are altogether thoughtless. If you ask them concerning religion, they

have no opinion at all about it. They do not positively detest it, they do

not mock at it; but they have not a thought about it. The fact of it is, they

intend thinking about it by-and-bye. Theirs is a kind of butterfly existence;

they are always moving about, never doing anything, neither for others or

themselves. And these are very amiable people, who are always ready to give a

guinea for a charity; they never refuse anybody, and they would give their

guinea all the same, whether it was for a cricket match or a church. Now, if

I were forced to go back to the world, and had to chose the character I would

wish to be, the last position I would wish to occupy would be that of the

thoughtless man. I believe thoughtless persons are in the most danger of

being lost of any class I know. I like, sometimes to get under the word a

thoroughly stout, stiff, hater of the gospel, for his heart is like a flint,

and when it is struck with the hammer of the gospel the flint goes to pieces

in a moment. But these thoughtless people have india-rubber hearts-you hit

them, and they give way; you strike them again, and they give way. If they

are sick, and you visit them, they say "yes." You talk to them about the

importance of religion; they say "yes." You talk to them about escaping from

hell and entering heaven, they say "Yes." You preach a sermon to them when

they are better, and remind them of the vows they made in their sickness; "it

is quite right, sir," they say. And they say the same whatever you may tell

them. They are always very polite to you; but whatever you say to them is put

aside. If you begin talking to them about drunkards; oh! they are not

drunkards; they may have accidently got drunk once, but that was a little

thing out of the usual way. And bring whatever sin you like to them, you may

hit them, and hit them, but it is no good, for they are not half so easily

broken (speaking after the manner of men) as the real stout-hearted hater of

the gospel. Why, there is a sailor comes rolling home from sea, swearing,

blaspheming, cursing; he comes into the house of God, and almost the first

word is applied by the Spirit for the breaking of Jack's heart. Another young

man says, "I know as much as any minister can tell me; for my own mother

taught me, and my old father used to read the Bible to me till, I believe, I

have got every bit of it in my head. I go to chapel out of respect to his

memory, but I really don't care at all about it; it is very good for old

people, it is quite right for old women, and those who are dying, and in time

of cholera. It is a very good thing, but I don't care anything about it just

now." Now, I tell you, careless people, most solemnly, that you are the very

devil's lifeguards; you are his reserve; he keeps you away from the battle,

he does not send you out like he does a blasphemer, for he fears that a shot

may haply light upon you, and you may be saved. But he says, "Stand by here,

and if you have to go out I will give you an inpenetrable coat of mail." The

arrows go rattling against you; they all hit you; but alas! there is not one

of them that penetrates your heart, for that is left elsewhere. You are only

an empty chrysalis, and when you come to God's house, and his word is

preached, you make light of it, because it is your habit to be thoughtless

about everything.

Very briefly I must touch another case, and then I must dismiss you. You may

make light of the gospel out of sheer presumption. They are like the foolish

man who goes on, and is punished; not like the prudent man, who "forseeth the

evil, and hideth himself." They go on; that step is safe-they take it; the

next step is safe-they take it; their foot hangs over a gulf of darkness; but

they will try one step, and as that is safe, they think they will try the

next; and as the last has been safe, and as for many years they have been

safe, they suppose they always shall be; and because they have not died yet,

they think they will never die. And so out of sheer presumption, thinking

"all men mortal but themselves," they go on making light of Christ. Tremble,

ye presumptuous, you will not always be able to do that.

And, lastly, I fear there are a great many who make light of Christ because

of the commonness of the gospel. It is preached everywhere, and that is why

you make light of it. You can hear it at the corner of every street; you can

read it in this widely circulated Bible; and because the gospel is so common,

therefore, you don't care for it. Ah! my dear friends, if there were only one

gospel minister in London that could tell you the truth; if there were only

one Bible in London, I believe you would be rushing to hear that Bible read;

and the man who had the message would have no sinecure of it, he would be

obliged to work from morning to night, to tell it out to you. But now,

because you have so many Bibles you forget to read them; because you have so

many tracts you pack up any article in them; because you have so many sermons

you do not think anything at all of them. But what is that? Dost thou think

the less of the sun because he scatters his beams abroad? Dost thou think the

less of bread because it is the food which God gives to all his children?

Dost thou think the less of water, when thou art thirsty, because every rill

will afford it to thee? No. If thou wert athirst after Christ, thou wouldst

love him all the better, because he is preached everywhere; and thou wouldst

not think lightly of him because of that.

"They made light of it." How many of my hearers to-night, I ask again, are

making light of Christ? Many of you are, no doubt. I will give you, then,

just one warning, and then farewell. Make light of Christ, sinner! let me

say, again, to thee, and thou wilt rue the day, when thou comest on thy

death-bed. It will go hard with thee when the bony monster has got the grip

of thee, and when he is bringing thee down to the river, to steep thee in the

lake of death. It will go hard with thee, when thy eye-strings break, and

when thy death-sweat stands upon the brow. Remember, last time thou hadst a

fever; ah! how thou didst shake. Remember, last night, how thou didst quake

in thy bed, when flash after flash of lightning came through thy window; and

how thou didst tremble when the deep-mouthed thunder spake out the voice of

God. Ah! sinner, thou wilt tremble worse then when thou shalt see death for

thyself, and when the bony rider, on his white horse, shall grasp his dart

and plunge it in thy bowels. It will go hard with thee if thou hast despised

Christ, and shalt die a despiser. See that flying angel? his wings are made

of flame, and in his hand he grasps a sharp two-edged sword. O angel,

wherefore dost thou wing thy speedy flight? "Hark!" says he, "this trump

shall tell you." And he puts a trumpet to his lips, and

"Blows a blast so loud and dread,

Ne'er were prophetic sounds so full of woe."

Look! the sheeted dead have started from their graves. Behold, the cloudy

chariot of wheeled along by cherub's hand. Mark! there upon the throne there

sits the King-the Prince. O angel, what in this terrible day must become of

the man that has thought lightly of Christ? See there, he unleashes his

sword. "This blade," says he, "shall find and pierce him through. This blade,

like a sickle, shall reap each tare from the wheat, and this strong arm shall

bind him up in his bundle to be burned; and this great arm of mine shall

grasp him, and hurl him down, down, down, where flames for ever burn, and

hell for ever howls." It will go hard with you then. Mark this man's word to-

night; go away and laugh at it; but remember, I say to you again, it will be

a solemn thing for you when Christ shall come to judgment, if you have made

light of him, and worse than all, if you should ever be locked up in the

caverns of despair, if you should ever hear it said, "Depart ye cursed," if

you should ever mingle your awful shrieks with the doleful howls of lost

myriads, if you should see the pit that is bottomless, and the gulf that has

walls of fire. It will be a fearful thing to find thyself in there, and to

know that thou canst ne'er get out again! Sinner, this night I preach the

gospel to thee. E'er thou goest, hear it, and believe it; may God grant thee

grace to receive it, so thou shalt be saved. "He that believeth and is

baptized, shall be saved. He that believeth not," so saith the Scripture,

"shall be damned." To believe, is to put your trust in Christ; to be

baptized, is to be plunged in water in the name of the Lord Jesus, as a

profession that you are already saved, and that you love Christ. "He that

believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall

be damned." O may you never know the meaning of that last word. Farewell!

Verses 11-14

Making Light of Christ

August 17, 1856

by

C. H. SPURGEON

(1834-1892)

"They paid no attention and went off - one to his field, another to his

business." [Matthew 22:5 ]

Man is not much changed since the days of Adam. In his bodily frame he

appears to be exactly similar, for skeletons many hundred years' old are the

exact counterparts of ours; and sure enough that which was recorded in

history as having been done by man centuries ago, might be written again, for

"there is nothing new under the sun." The same class of men is still to be

discovered (although, perhaps, differently dressed) as that which existed

ages long gone by. There are still men today who have the same disposition as

men in the Savior's day. "They paid no attention and went off - one to his

field, another to his business," making light of the glorious things of the

gospel.

I am certain I have many such characters here tonight, and I pray the Lord

that I may be enabled to discourse to them very solemnly and very clearly.

And I must ask all of you who understand the heavenly art of prayer, to pray

that God would be pleased to send home every thought into the breast where he

intends it to lodge, that it may bring forth the soft fruit of righteousness

in the salvation of many souls. "They paid no attention;" so do too many in

this day; and so will a large portion of my hearers tonight. I believe that

to pay no attention to Christ is a sin; and at all risks of being falsely

called legalist, or "free-willer," by those who consider themselves wiser

than what I have written, I will instruct you as such, for I hope I will

never belong to that class of Calvinists who do the devil's work by excusing

sinners in their sins.

In the first place, we shall have a few words with you, concerning "what it

is that the sinner pays no attention to; secondly, how it is that he pays no

attention; and thirdly, why it is that he pays no attention to it. Then a

general observation or two, and we will not weary you.

In the first place, WHAT IS IT THAT THE SINNER PAYS NO ATTENTION TO?

According to the parable, the person alluded to paid no attention to a

marriage banquet which a king had provided, with all kinds of delicacies, to

which they were freely invited, and from which they willfully stayed away

from. The spiritual meaning of this is easy to discover. Sinners who pay no

attention to Christ express their contempt of a glorious banquet which God

has provided at the marriage of His Son. This is solemn ground to tread upon.

Oh! for the teachings of the Holy Spirit.

Taking this parable as the basis of our remarks, we may observe, first, that

the sinner pays no attention to "the messenger who brings him the news that

the marriage supper is prepared." These men refused to come; they went-"One

to his field, another to his business," and so paid no attention to the

messenger; and every sinner who neglects the great salvation of Jesus Christ,

pays no attention to the gospel minister, which is a big insult in God's

estimation. It is never considered a small offense by our great nation, if

our ambassador is treated with indifference; and take it for a truth, it is

no light thing with God if you despise the ambassadors he sends to you. But

this is comparatively little; the ambassadors are men like yourselves, who

can well afford to be condemned, if that were all. In fact, we would be glad

to forgive you if it were in our power to do so, and if this were all your

guilt.

But these people "despised the feast." Some of them fancied that the fattened

cattle, and other provisions that would be on the table, would be no better

than what they had at home. They thought that the royal banquet would be no

big thing for which to give up their business for a day, or to renounce their

farming even for an hour. Oh! sinner, when you neglect the great salvation,

think about what you are despising; when you pay no attention to God's

gospel, you pay no attention to justification by faith; you pay no attention

to washing in the blood of Jesus; you pay no attention to the Holy Spirit;

you pay no attention to the road to heaven; and then you pay no attention to

faith, and hope, and love; you pay no attention to all the promises of the

eternal covenant, of all the glorious things that God has laid up for them

that love him, and of everything which he has revealed in his Word as being

the promised gift to those who come to him. It is a serious thing to pay no

attention to the gospel, for in that Word, God's gospel-good news, is summed

up in all that human nature can require, and all that even the saints in

bliss can receive. Oh! to despise the gospel of the blessed God, how mad! how

worse than folly! Despise the stars, and you are a fool; despise God's earth,

with its glorious mountains, with its flowing rivers, and its fair meadows,

and you art a maniac; but despise God's gospel, and you are ten thousand

maniacs in one. Pay no attention to that, and you are far more foolish than

he who sees no light in the sun, who beholds no fairness in the moon, and no

brilliancy in the starry sky. Trample, if you please, his lower works; but

oh! remember, when you pay no attention to the gospel, you are paying no

attention to the masterpiece of your great Creator-that which cost him more

than to create a myriad of worlds-the bloody purchase of our Savior's

agonies.

And, again, these people "paid no attention to the King's Son." In was his

marriage, and inasmuch as they stayed away, they dishonored the glorious One

in whose honor the supper was prepared. They slighted him whom his Father

loved. Oh! sinner, when you pay no attention to the gospel, you pay no

attention to Christ-that Christ before whom glorious celestial spirits bow

themselves-that Christ at whose feet the exalted archangel thinks it is

happiness to cast his crown; you pay no attention to him with whose praise

all of heaven rings; you pay no attention to him whom God makes much of, for

he has called him, "God over all, forever praised!" [Romans 9:5 ] Yes, it is a

solemn thing to pay no attention to Christ. Despise a prince, and you will

have little honor at the king's hand for it; but despise the Son of God, and

the Father will have vengeance on you for his slighted Son. Oh! my dear

friends, it seems to me to be a sin, not unpardonable, I know, but still most

heinous, that men should ever despise my blessed Lord Jesus Christ and treat

him with cruel scorn. Pay no attention to You, sweet Jesus! Oh! when I see

You with Your shirt of blood, wrestling in Gethsemane, I bow myself before

You, and I say, "O, Redeemer, bleeding for sin, can any sinner ever ignore

You?" When I behold him with a river of blood rolling down his shoulder,

beneath the cursed flogging of Pilate's whip, I ask, "Can a sinner refuse to

pay attention to such a Saviour as this?" And when I see him later, covered

with his blood, nailed to a cross, expiring in torture, shrieking, "Eli, Eli,

lama sabachthani," I ask myself, "Can anyone refuse to pay attention to

this?" Oh, if they do, then, indeed, it is a sin enough to damn them, if they

have no other sin-that they have lightly esteemed the Prince of Peace, who is

glorious and altogether lovely. Oh! my friend, if you pay no attention to

Christ, you have insulted the only one who can save you-the only one who can

carry you across the Jordan-the only one who can unbolt the gates of heaven,

and welcome you. Let no smooth talking preacher persuade you that this is not

a crime. O, sinner, think of your sin, if you pay no attention to him, then

you are paying no attention to the King's only Son.

And yet again, these people "also paid no attention to the King" who had

prepared the banquet, Oh! little do you know, O sinner, when you ignore the

gospel, you are insulting God. I have heard some say, "Sir, I do not believe

in Christ, but still I am sure I try to reverence God; I do not care about

the gospel, I do not wish to be washed in Jesus' blood, nor to be saved with

free grace; but I do not despise God; I am a very religious person!" No sir,

but you do insult the Almighty, inasmuch as you deny his Son. Despise a man's

offspring, and you have insulted the man himself; reject the one and only Son

of God, and you have rejected the eternal one himself. There is no such thing

as true religion apart from Christ; it is a lie and a falsehood, it is the

refuge of a man who is not brave enough to say he hates God, but it is only a

refuge of lies; for he who denies Christ in that act offends God, and shuts

heaven's gates against himself. There is no loving the Father except through

the Son; and there is no acceptable worship of the Father, except through the

Great High Priest the Mediator, Jesus Christ. Oh! my friend, remember you

have not merely despised the gospel, but you have despised the gospel's God.

In laughing at the doctrines of the Bible, you have laughed at God; in

scorning the truth of the gospel, you have scorned God himself, you have

shook your fist in the face of the Eternal; your blasphemy have not fallen on

the church, they have fallen on God himself. Oh! remember, you that mock the

message of Christ! Oh! remember, you that turn away from the ministry of

truth! God is a mighty one; how severely "can" he punish! God is a jealous

God; oh! how severely "will" he punish! Pay no attention to God, sinner? Why,

this above all things is a damning sin, and in committing it, it may be you

will one day sign your own death-warrant; for paying no attention to God, to

Christ, and to his holy gospel. You are destroying your own soul, and rushing

headfirst into hell. Oh! unhappy souls, most unhappy must you be, if you live

and die paying no attention to Christ, and preferring your farms and your

businesses to the treasures of the gospel.

Again, remember my poor, pitiable friend, that when you pay no attention to

all the things I have mentioned, "you are paying no attention to the

seriousness of eternity." The Man who pays no attention to the gospel pays no

attention to hell; he thinks its fires are not hot, and its flames not such

as Christ has described them; he pays no attention to the burning tears that

scald despairing cheeks forever; he pays no attention to the screams and

shrieks that must be the wretched songs and terrible music of perishing

souls. Oh! it is not wise to pay no attention to hell.

Consider again: you who pay no attention to heaven-that place to which the

blessed ones long to go, where glory reigns without a cloud, and bliss

without a sigh. You put the crown of everlasting life beneath your feet; you

tread the palm-branch of eternal peace beneath your unholy foot and you think

it not important to be saved, nor to be glorified. "Oh! poor soul, once you

are in hell, and when the iron key is turned forever in the lock of

inevitable destiny, you will find hell to be something easy to despise; and

when you have lost heaven and all its bliss, and can only hear the song of

the blessed, sounding faintly in the distance, increasing your misery by

contrast with their joy, then you will find it a very serious error to have

paid no attention to heaven. Every man who pays no attention to Christianity

pays no attention to these things. He misjudges the value of his own soul,

and the importance of its eternal state.

This is what men make light of, "Oh! sir," says one, "I never indulge in any

words hostile to God's truth, I never laugh at the minister, nor do I despise

the Sabbath." Stop, my friend, I will acquit thee of all that; and yet I will

solemnly lay to thy charge this great sin of making light of the gospel. Hear

me then!

II. HOW IS IT THAT MEN MAKE LIGHT OF IT?

In the first, it is making light of the gospel and of the whole of God's

glorious things, when men go to hear and yet do not attend. How many frequent

churches and chapels to indulge in a comfortable nap! Think what a fearful

insult that is to the King of heaven. Would they enter into Her Majesty's

palace, ask an audience, and then go to sleep before her face? And yet the

sin of sleeping in Her Majesty's presence, would not be so great, even

against her laws, as the sin of wilfully slumbering in God's sanctuary. How

many go to our houses of worship who do not sleep, but who sit with vacant

stare, listening as they would to a man would could not play a lively tune

upon a good instrument. What goeth in at one earth goeth out at another.

Whatever entereth the brain goeth out without ever affecting the heart. Ah,

my hearers, you are guilty of making light of God's gospel, when you sit

under a sermon without attending to it! Oh! what would lost souls give to the

hear another sermon! What would yonder dying wretch who is just now nearing

the grave, give for another Sabbath! And what will you give, one of these

days, when you shall be hard by Jordan's brink, that you might have one more

warning, and listen once more to the wooing voice of God's minister! We make

light of the gospel when we hear it, without solemn and awful attention to

it.

But some say they do attend. Well, it is possible to attend to the gospel,

and yet to make light of it. I have seen some men weep beneath a powerful

sermon; I have marked the tears chase each other-tears, blessed tell-tales of

emotions within. I have sometimes said to myself, it is marvellous to see

these people weep under some telling word from God, which is alarming them,

as if Sinai itself were thundering in their ears. But there is something more

marvellous than men's weeping under the word. It is the fact that they soon,

too soon, wipe all their tears away. But ah! my dear hearer, recollect that

if thou hearest of these things and shakest off a solemn impression, thou

art, in doing that, slighting God and making light of his truth; and take

heed how you do that, lest your own garments be red with the blood of your

soul, and it be said, "Oh, Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself."

But there are others who make light of it in a different fashion. They hear

the word and attend to it; but, alas! they attend to something else with it.

Oh! my hearer, thou makest light of Christ, if thou puttest him anywhere save

in the centre of thine heart. He who gives Christ a little of his affections,

makes light of Christ; for Christ will have the whole heart or none at all.

He who gives Christ a portion, and the world a portion, despises Christ, for

he seems to think that Christ does not deserve to have the whole. And

inasmuch as he says that, or thinks that, he hath mean and unholy thoughts of

Christ. Oh! carnal man, thou who art half religious, and half profane; thou

who art sometimes serious, but as often frivolous; sometimes apparently

pious, but yet so often unholy, thou makest light of Christ. And ye who weep

on the Sunday, and then go back to your sins on the Monday; ye who set the

world and its pleasures before Christ, ye think less of him than he deserves;

and what is that but to make light of him? Oh! I charge you, ask yourself, my

hearer this night, art not thou the man? dost thou not thou thyself make

light of Christ? The self-righteous man who sets himself up as a partner with

Christ in the matter of salvation, notwithstanding all his trumpery good

works, is such a ringleader among despisers, that I would gibbet him in the

very middle of them, and bid all like him tremble, lest they also be found

slighters of Jesus.

He makes light of Christ, again, who makes a profession of religion, and yet

does not live up to it. Ah! church members, ye want a great deal of sifting;

we have an immense quantity of chaff now mixed with the wheat; and sometimes

I think we have something worse than that. We have some in our churches that

are not so good as chaff, for they do not seem to have been near the wheat at

all; they are nothing better than tares. They have come into our churches,

just as they would into a trade-association, because they think it will

improve their business. It gives respectability to their name to take the

sacrament; it makes them esteemed to have been baptized, or to be a member of

a Christian church; and so they come in by shoals after the loaves and

fishes, but not after Jesus Christ. Ah! hypocrite, thou makest light of

Christ if thou thinkest that he is a stalkinghorse to get thee wealth. If

thou dreamest that thou art to saddle and bridle Christ, and ride to wealth

upon him, thou makest a grand mistake, for he was never meant to carry men

anywhere except to heaven. If you suppose that religion was intended to gild

your homes, to carpet your floors, and line your purses, you have greatly

erred. It was intended to be profitable to the soul; and he who thinks to use

religion to his own personal advantage thinks lightly of Christ: and at the

last day this crime shall be laid to his charge-that he has made light of

it;" and the King shall send his armies to cut him in pieces, among those who

have despised his Majesty, and would not obey his laws.

III. And now, in the third place, I will tell you WHY THEY MADE LIGHT OF IT.

They did so from different reasons.

Some of them made light of it because they were ignorant; they did not know

how good the feast was; they did not know how gracious the king was; they did

not know how fair the Prince was, or else they might have thought

differently. Now, there are many present to-night, I dare say, who think

lightly of the gospel, because they do not understand it. I have often heard

people laugh at religion; but ask them what it is, and they know no more

about religion than a horse, and worse than that, for they believe untruths

about it, and a horse does not do that. They laugh at it, simply because they

do not comprehend it; it is a thing beyond them. We have heard of a foolish

man who, whenever he heard a piece of Latin mentioned, laughed at it, because

he thought it was a joke, at any rate it was a very outlandish way of

talking-and so he laughed. So it is with many when they hear the gospel; they

do not know what it is, and so they laugh at it. "Oh!" they say, "the man is

mad." But why is he mad? Because you do not understand him. Are you so

conceited as to suppose that all wisdom and all learning must rest with you?

I would hint to you that the madness is on the other side. And though you may

say of him, "Much learning hath made thee mad;" we would reply, "It is quite

as easy to be made mad with none at all." And those who have none, and

especially those who have no knowledge of Christ, are the most likely to

despise him. Well did Watts say-

"His worth, if all the nations knew,

Sure, the whole earth would love him too."

Oh! dear friends, if you once knew what a blessed master Christ is, if you

once knew what a blessed thing the gospel is, if you could once be brought to

believe what a blessed God our God is, if you could only have one hour's

enjoyment such as the Christian experiences, if you could only have one

promise applied to your heart, you would never make light of the gospel

again. Oh! you say you do not like it! Why, you have never tried it? Should a

man despise the wine of which he has never sipped. It may be sweeter than he

dreams? Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good, and so sure as ever you

taste, you will see his goodness. I will venture to say, again, that there

are many who make light of the gospel, simply through ignorance; and if that

is so, I am somewhat in hopes that when they are a little enlightened by

sitting under the Word, the Lord may be pleased graciously to bring them to

himself; and then I know they will never make light of Christ again. Oh! do

not be ignorant, "for that the soul be without knowledge is not good." Seek

to know him whom to know aright is life eternal; and when you know him you

will never make light of him.

Other people make light of it because of pride. "What is the good," said one,

"of bringing me that invitation? Step into my house, my man, I will show you

a feast quite as good as any you can tell me of. Look here! there is good

cheer for you; my table is as well spread as any man's; begging his Majesty's

pardon, the King cannot give a better feast than I; and I do not see why I

should drag my bones about to get nothing better than I can get at home." So

he would not go, out of pride. And so with some of you. You want to be

washed! No, you were never filthy; were you? You need to be forgiven! Oh no!

you are rather too good for that. Why, you are so awfully pious in your own

conceit, that if it were all true, you would make even the angel Gabriel

blush to think of you. You do not think even an angel capable of holding a

candle to you. What! you seek for mercy? It is an insult to you. "Go and tell

the drunkard," you say, "go and fetch the harlot; but I am a respectable man;

I always go to church or chapel; I am a very good sort of fellow; I may

frolic now and then, but I make it up some other day; I am sometimes a little

slack, but then I rein the horses in, and make up the distance afterwards;

and I dare say I shall get to heaven as soon as anybody else. I am a very

good sort." Well, my friend, I do not wonder that you despise the gospel, for

the gospel just tells you that you are entirely lost. It tells you that your

very righteousness is full of sin. That, as for any hope of your being saved

by it, you might as well try to sail across the Atlantic on a sere leaf as

try to get to heaven by your righteousness. And as for it being a garment fit

to cover you, you might as well get a spider's web to go to court in, and

think it a dress fit to appear in before her Majesty. Ah! my hearer, I know

why thou despisest Christ; it is because of thy Satanic pride. May the Lord

pull the pride out of thee; for if he do not, it will be the faggot that

shall roast thy soul for ever. Take heed of pride; by pride fell the angels-

how can men, then, though the image of their Maker, hope to win by it? Shun

it, flee from it; for so sure as thou art proud, wilt thou incur the guilt of

making light of Christ.

Perhaps quite as many made light of the good news, because they did not

believe the messenger. "Oh!" said they, "stop a moment. What! a dinner to be

given away? I do not believe it. What! the young Prince going to be married?

Tell that to fools, we do not believe any such thing. What! we all invited?

We do not believe it; the story is incredible." The poor messenger went home

and told his Master that they would not believe him. That is just another

reason why many men make light of the gospel, because they do not believe it.

"What!" they say, "Jesus Christ died to wash men from their sins? We do not

believe it. What! A heaven. Who ever saw it? A hell! Who ever heard its

groans? What! Eternity. Who ever returned from that last hope of every

spirit. What! Blessedness in religion? We do not believe it-it is a moping,

miserable thing. What! Sweetness in the promises? No there is not; we believe

there is sweetness in the world, but we do not believe there is any in the

wells the Lord has digged." And so they despise the gospel, because they do

not believe it. But, I am sure, that when a man once believes it, he never

thinks lightly of it. Once let me have the solemn conviction in my heart by

the Holy Spirit, that if unsaved, there is a gaping gulf that shall devour

me; do you think I can go to rest till I have trembled from head to foot?

Once let me heartily believe that there is a heaven provided for those who

believe on Christ, do you think I could give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to

my eyelids, till I have wept because it is not mine? I believe not. But

damnable unbelief thrusts his hand into the mouth of an, and plucks up his

heart, and so destroys him, for it will not let him believe, and, therefore,

he cannot feel, because he believeth not. Oh! my friends, it is unbelief that

makes men think lightly of Christ; but unbelief will not do so by-and-bye.

There are no infidels in hell; they are all believers there. There are many

that were infidels here, but they are not so now; the flames are too hot to

make them doubt their existence. It is hard for a man, tormented in the

flame, to doubt the existence of the fire. It would be difficult for a man,

standing before the burning eyes of God, to doubt the existence of a God

after that. Ah! unbelievers, turn ye, or rather, may the Lord turn you from

your unbelief, for this makes you think lightly of Christ; and this is it

that is taking away your life, and destroying your souls.

Another set of people thought lightly of this feast because they were so

worldly; they had so much to do. I have heard of a rich merchant who was

waited on one day by a godly man, and when he stopped him, he said to him,

"Well, sir, what is the state of your soul?" "Soul!" he said, "bother you, I

have no time to take care of my soul; I have enough to do to take care of my

ships." About a week after, it so happened that he had to find time to die,

for God took him away. We fear he said to him, "Thou fool! this night thy

soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou

hast hoarded up for thyself?" Ye merchants of London, there are many of you

who read your ledgers more than your Bibles. Perhaps you must, but ye do not

read your Bibles at all, while ye read your ledgers every day. In America, it

is said, they worship the almighty dollar; I believe that in London many men

worship the almighty sovereign; they have the greatest possible respect for

an almighty bank note; that is the god which many men are always adoring. The

prayer-book they carry so religiously in their hands is their cash-book. Even

on Sunday, there is a gentleman over there, he does not think his foreman

knows it, but he was sitting in doors all this morning, because it was wet,

casting up his accounts; and now he comes here in the evening, because he is

a very pious man-extraordinarily so. He would shut the parks up on a Sunday,

he would-he would not let a soul get a breath of fresh air, because he is so

pious, but he himself may sit for half-a-day in the counting-house and yet

think it no sin. But many are too busy to think of these things. "Pray!" they

say, "I have no time for that; I have to pay. What! read the Bible? No I

cannot; I have to be looking over this thing and that thing, and seeing how

the markets go. I find time to read the Times, but I could not think of

reading the Bible." It will be marvellously unfortunate for some of you, that

you will find the lease of your lives rather shorter than you expected. If

you had taken a lease of your lives for eighty-eight years from this date,

you would be foolish enough, perhaps, to spend forty-four in sin. But

considering that you are a tenant at will, and liable to be turned out any

day, it is the height of folly, the very climax of absurdity, excelling all

that the fool, with his cap and bells, ever did, to be living just to gather

up the pelf of this world, and not for things to come. Worldliness is a demon

that hath wrung the neck of many souls; God grant that we may not perish

through our worldliness!

There is another class of people that I can only characterize in this way:

they are altogether thoughtless. If you ask them concerning religion, they

have no opinion at all about it. They do not positively detest it, they do

not mock at it; but they have not a thought about it. The fact of it is, they

intend thinking about it by-and-bye. Theirs is a kind of butterfly existence;

they are always moving about, never doing anything, neither for others or

themselves. And these are very amiable people, who are always ready to give a

guinea for a charity; they never refuse anybody, and they would give their

guinea all the same, whether it was for a cricket match or a church. Now, if

I were forced to go back to the world, and had to chose the character I would

wish to be, the last position I would wish to occupy would be that of the

thoughtless man. I believe thoughtless persons are in the most danger of

being lost of any class I know. I like, sometimes to get under the word a

thoroughly stout, stiff, hater of the gospel, for his heart is like a flint,

and when it is struck with the hammer of the gospel the flint goes to pieces

in a moment. But these thoughtless people have india-rubber hearts-you hit

them, and they give way; you strike them again, and they give way. If they

are sick, and you visit them, they say "yes." You talk to them about the

importance of religion; they say "yes." You talk to them about escaping from

hell and entering heaven, they say "Yes." You preach a sermon to them when

they are better, and remind them of the vows they made in their sickness; "it

is quite right, sir," they say. And they say the same whatever you may tell

them. They are always very polite to you; but whatever you say to them is put

aside. If you begin talking to them about drunkards; oh! they are not

drunkards; they may have accidently got drunk once, but that was a little

thing out of the usual way. And bring whatever sin you like to them, you may

hit them, and hit them, but it is no good, for they are not half so easily

broken (speaking after the manner of men) as the real stout-hearted hater of

the gospel. Why, there is a sailor comes rolling home from sea, swearing,

blaspheming, cursing; he comes into the house of God, and almost the first

word is applied by the Spirit for the breaking of Jack's heart. Another young

man says, "I know as much as any minister can tell me; for my own mother

taught me, and my old father used to read the Bible to me till, I believe, I

have got every bit of it in my head. I go to chapel out of respect to his

memory, but I really don't care at all about it; it is very good for old

people, it is quite right for old women, and those who are dying, and in time

of cholera. It is a very good thing, but I don't care anything about it just

now." Now, I tell you, careless people, most solemnly, that you are the very

devil's lifeguards; you are his reserve; he keeps you away from the battle,

he does not send you out like he does a blasphemer, for he fears that a shot

may haply light upon you, and you may be saved. But he says, "Stand by here,

and if you have to go out I will give you an inpenetrable coat of mail." The

arrows go rattling against you; they all hit you; but alas! there is not one

of them that penetrates your heart, for that is left elsewhere. You are only

an empty chrysalis, and when you come to God's house, and his word is

preached, you make light of it, because it is your habit to be thoughtless

about everything.

Very briefly I must touch another case, and then I must dismiss you. You may

make light of the gospel out of sheer presumption. They are like the foolish

man who goes on, and is punished; not like the prudent man, who "forseeth the

evil, and hideth himself." They go on; that step is safe-they take it; the

next step is safe-they take it; their foot hangs over a gulf of darkness; but

they will try one step, and as that is safe, they think they will try the

next; and as the last has been safe, and as for many years they have been

safe, they suppose they always shall be; and because they have not died yet,

they think they will never die. And so out of sheer presumption, thinking

"all men mortal but themselves," they go on making light of Christ. Tremble,

ye presumptuous, you will not always be able to do that.

And, lastly, I fear there are a great many who make light of Christ because

of the commonness of the gospel. It is preached everywhere, and that is why

you make light of it. You can hear it at the corner of every street; you can

read it in this widely circulated Bible; and because the gospel is so common,

therefore, you don't care for it. Ah! my dear friends, if there were only one

gospel minister in London that could tell you the truth; if there were only

one Bible in London, I believe you would be rushing to hear that Bible read;

and the man who had the message would have no sinecure of it, he would be

obliged to work from morning to night, to tell it out to you. But now,

because you have so many Bibles you forget to read them; because you have so

many tracts you pack up any article in them; because you have so many sermons

you do not think anything at all of them. But what is that? Dost thou think

the less of the sun because he scatters his beams abroad? Dost thou think the

less of bread because it is the food which God gives to all his children?

Dost thou think the less of water, when thou art thirsty, because every rill

will afford it to thee? No. If thou wert athirst after Christ, thou wouldst

love him all the better, because he is preached everywhere; and thou wouldst

not think lightly of him because of that.

"They made light of it." How many of my hearers to-night, I ask again, are

making light of Christ? Many of you are, no doubt. I will give you, then,

just one warning, and then farewell. Make light of Christ, sinner! let me

say, again, to thee, and thou wilt rue the day, when thou comest on thy

death-bed. It will go hard with thee when the bony monster has got the grip

of thee, and when he is bringing thee down to the river, to steep thee in the

lake of death. It will go hard with thee, when thy eye-strings break, and

when thy death-sweat stands upon the brow. Remember, last time thou hadst a

fever; ah! how thou didst shake. Remember, last night, how thou didst quake

in thy bed, when flash after flash of lightning came through thy window; and

how thou didst tremble when the deep-mouthed thunder spake out the voice of

God. Ah! sinner, thou wilt tremble worse then when thou shalt see death for

thyself, and when the bony rider, on his white horse, shall grasp his dart

and plunge it in thy bowels. It will go hard with thee if thou hast despised

Christ, and shalt die a despiser. See that flying angel? his wings are made

of flame, and in his hand he grasps a sharp two-edged sword. O angel,

wherefore dost thou wing thy speedy flight? "Hark!" says he, "this trump

shall tell you." And he puts a trumpet to his lips, and

"Blows a blast so loud and dread,

Ne'er were prophetic sounds so full of woe."

Look! the sheeted dead have started from their graves. Behold, the cloudy

chariot of wheeled along by cherub's hand. Mark! there upon the throne there

sits the King-the Prince. O angel, what in this terrible day must become of

the man that has thought lightly of Christ? See there, he unleashes his

sword. "This blade," says he, "shall find and pierce him through. This blade,

like a sickle, shall reap each tare from the wheat, and this strong arm shall

bind him up in his bundle to be burned; and this great arm of mine shall

grasp him, and hurl him down, down, down, where flames for ever burn, and

hell for ever howls." It will go hard with you then. Mark this man's word to-

night; go away and laugh at it; but remember, I say to you again, it will be

a solemn thing for you when Christ shall come to judgment, if you have made

light of him, and worse than all, if you should ever be locked up in the

caverns of despair, if you should ever hear it said, "Depart ye cursed," if

you should ever mingle your awful shrieks with the doleful howls of lost

myriads, if you should see the pit that is bottomless, and the gulf that has

walls of fire. It will be a fearful thing to find thyself in there, and to

know that thou canst ne'er get out again! Sinner, this night I preach the

gospel to thee. E'er thou goest, hear it, and believe it; may God grant thee

grace to receive it, so thou shalt be saved. "He that believeth and is

baptized, shall be saved. He that believeth not," so saith the Scripture,

"shall be damned." To believe, is to put your trust in Christ; to be

baptized, is to be plunged in water in the name of the Lord Jesus, as a

profession that you are already saved, and that you love Christ. "He that

believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall

be damned." O may you never know the meaning of that last word. Farewell!

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 22". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/matthew-22.html. 2011.