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Heaven and Hell by
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
© Copyright 2004 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.
Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ©1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio Cassette or CD:
Delivered in the open air on September 4th, 1855, to an audience of 12,000 persons.
"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 8:11-40.8.12
This is a land where one is allowed to speak plain English, and where the people are willing to listen to anyone who can tell them something worth listening too. Tonight I am quite certain of an attentive audience, for I know you too well to suppose otherwise. This open field, as you are aware of, is private property; and I would just give a suggestion to those who go out in the open air to preach--that it is far better to go into a field, or a vacant country lot, than to tie up the streets in the city and interrupt commercial business.
Tonight, I will hope to encourage you to seek the road to heaven. I will also need to utter some very piercing things concerning the end of the unbeliever in the pit of hell. I will try to speak on both of these subjects, as God helps me. But, I beg you, if you love your souls, ponder right and wrong this night; see whether what I say is the truth of God. If it is not, then reject it completely, and throw it away; but if it is, you are at great risk to disregard it; for, you shall answer before God, the great Judge of heaven and earth, it will be terrible for you if you despised the words of His servant and His Scripture.
My text has two parts. The first is very pleasant to my mind, and gives me pleasure; the second is extremely terrible; but since they are both the truth, they must be preached. The first part of my text is, "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." The sentence which I call the gloomy, dark, and threatening part is this: "But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I. Let us take the first part. Here is a most glorious promise. I will read it again: "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." I like that text, because it tells me what heaven is, and gives me a beautiful picture of it. It says, it is a place where I will sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. O what a sweet thought that is for the working man! He often suffers from the stress and fatigue of the job, and wonders whether there is a time and place where he will no longer have to work. Often he comes home exhausted, and throws himself on his couch, maybe too tired to sleep. He says, "Oh! is there no place where I can rest? Is there no place where I can sit, and for once let this tired body be at rest? Is there no quiet place where I can be." Yes, you son of stress and fatigue,
"There is a happy land, Far, far away--"
where stress and fatigue are unknown. Beyond the blue sky there is a city fair and bright, its walls are made of clear gold, and its light is brighter than the sun. There "the weary are at rest, and the wicked no longer bother anyone." Immortal spirits are there, who never experience fatigue and stress, for "they do not sow or reap;" they don't have to work and labor.
"There on a green and flowery mount, Their weary souls shall sit;
And with captivating joys recount The labors of their feet."
To my mind, one of the best views of heaven is, that "it is a place of rest"--especially to the working man. Those who don't have to work hard, think they will love heaven as a place of service to God. That is very true. But to the working man, to the man who works with his mind or with hands, it must ever be a sweet thought that there is a land where we shall rest. Soon, this voice will never be strained again; soon, these lungs will never have to exert themselves beyond their power; soon, this brain will not be racked for thought; but instead I will sit at the banquet table of God; yes, I will lean on the chest of Abraham, and be at ease forever.
Oh! tired sons and daughters of Adam, you will not have to drive the plow into the unthankful soil of heaven, you won't need to get up before sunrise, and work long after the sun has set; but you will be still, you will be quiet, you will be resting, for all are rich in heaven, and all are happy there, all are peaceful.
And note the good company that they are sitting with. They are to "take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Some people think that in heaven we won't know anyone. But our text declares here, that we "will take our places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." I am sure that we will be aware that they are Abraham, and Isaac, and
Jacob. I have heard of a good woman, who asked her husband, when she was dying, "My dear, do you think you will know me when you and I get to heaven?" "Will I know you?" he said, "why, I have always known you while I have been here, and do you think I will know less when I get to heaven?" I think it was a very good answer. If we have known one another here, we will know one another there.
I have dear departed friends up there, and it is always a sweet thought to me, that when I will put my foot, as I hope I may, into the doorway of heaven, there will come my sisters and brothers to hold me by the hand and say, "Yes, you loved one, you are here." Dear relatives that have been separated, you will meet again in heaven. One of you has lost a mother--she is gone above; and if you follow the way of Jesus, you shall meet her there.
I think I see yet another coming to meet you at the door of paradise; and though the ties of natural affection may be somewhat forgotten--I may be allowed to use a figure--how blessed would she be as she turned to God, and said, "Here I am, and the children that you have given to me." We will recognize our friends:--husbands, you will know your wife again. Mother, you will know those dear babes of yours--you noted their features when they were panting and gasping for breath as they lay dying. You know how you hung over their graves when the cold dirt was sprinkled over them, and it was said, "Earth to earth, dust to dust, and ashes to ashes."
But you will hear those loved voices again: you will hear those sweet voices once more; you will yet know that those whom you loved have been loved by God. Wouldn't it be a dreary heaven for us to inhabit, where we would all look the same and we would not know anyone or be known by any? I wouldn't care to go to such a heaven as that. I believe that heaven is a fellowship of the saints, and that we will know one another there. I have often thought I should love to see Isaiah; and, as soon as I get to heaven, I think, I would ask for him, because he spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest. I am sure I should want to find that good George Whitefield--he who so continually preached to the people, and wore himself out with angelic zeal. O yes! we will have some choice company in heaven when we get there.
There will be no distinction of educated and uneducated, pastor and congregation, but we will walk freely among each another; we will feel that we are brethren; we will "take our places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." I have heard of a woman who was visited by a minister on her deathbed, and she said to him, "I want to ask you one question, now that I am about to die." "Well," said the minister, "what is it?" "Oh!" she said, in a very pretentious way, "I want to know if there are two places in heaven, because I couldn't bear that our cook Betsy, in the kitchen, should be in heaven along with me, she is so unrefined?" The minister turned around and said, "O! don't trouble yourself about that, madam. There is no fear of that; for, until you get rid of your selfish pride, you will never enter heaven at all."
We must all get rid of our pride. We must humble ourselves and realize that we are equals in the sight of God, and see in every man a brother, and in every woman a sister, before we can hope to be found in glory. Yes, we bless God, we thank Him that there will be no separate table for one and for another. The Jew and the Gentile will sit down together. The great and the small will feed in the same pasture, and we will "take our places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
But my text has yet a greater depth of sweetness, for it says, that "many will come and will take their places." Some narrow minded bigots think that heaven will be a very small place, where there will be very few people, and only those who went to their church. I confess, I have no wish for a very small heaven, and love to read in the Bible that there are many rooms in my Father's house. How often do I hear people say, "Ah! small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. There will be very few in heaven; for most of the people will be lost."
My friend, I differ from you. Do you think that Christ will let the devil beat Him? That he will let the devil have more in hell than there will be in heaven? No: it is impossible. For then Satan would laugh at Christ. There will be more in heaven than there are among the lost. God says, that "there will be a number that no man can count that will be saved;" but He never says, that there will be a number that no man can count that will be lost. There will be a host beyond all count who will get into heaven. What good news for you and for me! for, if there are so many to be saved, why shouldn't I be saved? Why shouldn't you? Why shouldn't the man over there in the crowd, say, "Can't I be one among the multitude being saved?" And shouldn't that poor woman there take heart, and say, "Well if there were but half-a-dozen saved, I might fear that I wouldn't be one; but, since many are to saved, why shouldn't I also be saved?"
Cheer up, dejected one! Cheer up, grieving one, child of sorrow, there is hope for you yet! I don't know of any man that is beyond God's grace. There are only a few that have sinned that unpardonable sin, and God gives up on them; but the vast majority of mankind are yet within reach of His sovereign mercy--"many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
Look again at my text, and you will see where these people come from. They are to "come from the east and the west." The Jews said that they would all come from Palestine, every one of them, every man, woman, and child; that there would not be one in heaven that was not a Jew. And the Pharisees thought that, if they were not all Pharisees, they could not be saved. But Jesus Christ said, there will be many that will come from the east and from the west. There will be a multitude from that far-off land of China, for God is doing a great work there, and we hope that the gospel will yet be victorious in that land. There will be a multitude from this western land of England, from the western land beyond the Atlantic ocean in America, and from the south in Australia, and from the north in Canada, Siberia, and Russia.
From the uttermost parts of the earth there will come many to sit down in the kingdom of God. But I don't think this text is to be understood so much geographically as spiritually. When it says that they "will come from the east and the west," I don't think it refers to nations particularly, but to different kinds of people. Now, "the east and the west" signify those who are the very farthest away from religion; yet many of them will be saved and get to heaven. There is a class of persons who will always be looked on as hopeless. Many times I have heard of a man or woman say about someone, "He can't be saved: he is too depraved. What is he good for? When asked to go to church on Sunday--he went out and got drunk on Saturday night. What would be the use of trying to reason with him? There is no hope for him. He is a hardened person. See what he has done all these years. What good would it be to speak to him?"
Now, hear this, you who think others are worse than you--you who condemn others, whereas often you are just as guilty: Jesus Christ says, "many will come from the east and the west." There will be many in heaven that were once drunkards. I believe, among that blood-bought throng, there are many who staggered in and out of bars half of their lifetime. But, by the power of divine grace, they were able to throw the drink glass to the ground. They renounced the frenzy of intoxication--ran away from it--and served God. Yes! There will be many in heaven who were drunkards on earth.
There will be many prostitutes: some of the most forsaken will be found there. You remember the story Whitefield once told, that there would be some in heaven who were "the devil's castaways;" some that the devil would hardly think good enough for him, yet whom Christ would save. Lady Huntington once gently hinted to Whitefield that such language was not quite proper. But just then, there was a ring of the doorbell, and Whitefield went downstairs. Afterwards he came up and said, "Your ladyship, what do you think a poor woman had to say to me just now? She was a sad depraved woman, and she said, 'O, Mr Whitefield, when you were preaching, you told us that Christ would take in the devil's castaways, and I am one of them,' and that was the means of her salvation."
Shall anyone ever stop us from preaching to the lowest of the low? I have been accused of getting all the vulgar of London around me. God bless the vulgar! God save the vulgar! But, suppose it is "the vulgar," who needs the gospel more than they do? Who requires to have Christ preached to them more than they do? We have lots of those who preach to ladies and gentlemen, and we want someone to preach to the vulgar in these degenerate days. Oh! here is comfort for me, for many of the vulgar are to come the east and from the west.
Oh! what would you think if you were able to see the difference between some that are in heaven and some that will be there? There might be found one who has hair that is matted, he looks horrible, his eyes are bloated, he grins almost like an idiot, he has drunk away his brain until life seems to have departed, insofar as sense and being are concerned; yet I will tell you, "that man is capable of salvation"--and in a few years I might say "look up in the sky;" you see that bright star? Do you notice that man with a crown of pure gold on his head? Do you notice him dressed in robes of sapphire and in garments of light? That is the same man who sat here a poor, destitute, almost idiotic person; yet sovereign grace and mercy have saved him!
There are none, except those, as I have said before, who have sinned the unpardonable sin, who are beyond God's mercy. Bring me the worst, and still I would preach the gospel to them; bring me the vilest, still I would preach to them, because I remember my master saying, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet." "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
There is one more word I must discuss before I will be done with this sweet portion--that is the word "will." Oh! I love God's "wills" and "shalls" There is nothing comparable to them. Let a man say "shall," what good is it? "I will," says a man, and he never performs; "I shall," he says, and he breaks his promise. But it is never that way with God's "shalls." If He says "shall," it shall be; when He says "will," it will be. Now here He has said, "many will come." The devil says, "they will not come;" but "they will come." Their sins say "you can't come;" God says "you will come." You, yourselves, say, "you won't come:" God says "you will come." Yes! there are some here who are laughing at salvation, who can scoff at Christ and mock the gospel; but I tell you some of you will yet come.
"What!" you say, "can God make me become a Christian?" I tell you yes, for herein lies the power of the gospel. It does not asks for your consent; but it gets it. It does not say, "Will you receive it" but it makes you willing in the day of God's power. Not against your will, but it makes you willing. It shows you its value, and then you fall in love with it; and immediately you run after it and make it yours. Many people have said, "we will not have anything to do with religion," yet they have been converted. I have heard of a man who once went to church only to hear the singing, and as soon as the minister began to preach, he put his fingers in his ears and refused to listen. But in time a small insect landed on his face, so that he was forced to take one finger out of his ears to brush it away. Just then the minister said, "he that has ears to hear let him hear." The man listened; and God met with him at that moment and converted his soul.
He went out a new man, a changed person. He who came in to laugh left to find a quiet place to pray; he who came in to mock went out to bend his knee in repentance; he who entered to spend an idle hour went home to spend an hour in devotion with his God. The sinner became a saint; the shameless became ashamed. Who knows but we might have some like that here tonight. The gospel does not want your consent, it gets it. It knocks the hostility against God out of your heart. You say, "I don't want to be saved;" Christ says you shall be. He makes your will turn around, and then you cry, "Lord, save me, or I will perish." "Ah," Heaven might exclaim, "I knew that I would make you say that;" and then He rejoices over you because He has changed your will and made you willing in the day of His power.
If Jesus Christ were to stand on this platform tonight, what would many people do with Him? "O!" some say, "we would make Him a King." I do not believe it. They would crucify Him again, if they had the opportunity. If He were to come tonight and say, "Here I am, I love you, will you be saved by me?" Not one of you would consent if you were left to your own will. If He should look on you with those eyes, before whose power the lion would have couched; if He spoke with that voice which poured forth a downpour of eloquence like a stream of nectar rolling down from the cliffs above, not a single person would come to be His disciple. No; it takes the power of the Spirit to make men come to Jesus Christ. He himself said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." Yes! We want that; and here we have it. They will come! They will come!
You may laugh, you may despise us; but Jesus Christ shall not die for nothing. If some of you reject Him, there are some that will not. If there are some that are not saved, others will be. Christ shall see His seed, He shall lengthen his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. Some think that Christ died for some who will be lost. I never could understand that doctrine. If Jesus, my assurance, bore my griefs and carried my sorrows, then I believe that I am as secure as the angels in heaven. God cannot ask for payment twice. If Christ paid my debt, will I have to pay it again? No.
"Free from sin I walk at large The Savior's blood my full discharge;
At His dear feet content I lay, A sinner saved, and homage pay."
They will come! They will come! And nothing in heaven, nor on earth, nor in hell, can stop them from coming.
And now, you chief of sinners, listen for a moment, while I call you to Jesus. There is one person here tonight, who thinks of himself as the worst soul that ever lived. There is one who says to himself, "I don't deserve to be called to Christ, I am sure!" Soul! I call you! you lost, most wretched outcast, this night, by authority given me in God, I call you to come to my Savior.
Some time ago, when I went to the Country Court to see what they were doing, I heard a man's name called out, and immediately the man said, "Make way! make way! they are calling me!" And up he came. Now, I call the chief of sinners tonight, and let him say, "Make way! make way, doubts! make way, fears! make way, sins! Christ calls me! And if Christ calls me, that is enough!"
"I will to His gracious feet approach Whose scepter mercy gives.
Perhaps He may command me 'Touch!' And then the humble petitioner lives."
"I can but perish if I go; I am resolved to try,
For if I stay away, I know I must forever die."
Go and try my Savior! Go and try my Savior! If He casts you away after you have sought Him, tell it in hell that Christ wouldn't listen to your plea for salvation. But that you will never be allowed to do. It would dishonor the mercy of the covenant for God to cast away one repentant sinner; and it shall never be while it is written, "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
II. The second part of my text is heart-breaking. I could preach with great personal delight from the first part; but here is a dreary task to my soul, because there are gloomy words here. But, as I have told you, what is written in the Bible must be preached, whether it be gloomy or cheerful. There are some ministers who never mention anything about hell. I heard of a minister who once said to his congregation, "If you don't love the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be sent to that place which it is not polite to mention." He should not have been allowed to preach again since he could not use plain words. Now, if I saw that house on fire over there, do you think I would stand and say, "I believe the operation of combustion is taking place over there?" No; I would call out, "Fire! fire!" and then everybody would know what I meant.
So if the Bible says, "The subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness," am I to stand here and soften God's words by changing them to milder terms? God forbid! We must speak the truth as it is written. It is a terrible truth, for it says, "the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside!" Now, who are those subjects? I will tell you. "the subjects of the kingdom" are those people who are noted for the external display of reverence for God, but who have no reverence for Him on the inside. They are people who you will see with their Bibles going off to church as religiously as possible, trying to appear devout and modest, looking as somber and serious as they can, fancying that they are quite sure they are saved, because they do Christian things on the outside, whereas their hearts are not changed. These are the persons who are "the subjects of the kingdom." They have no grace, no life, no Christ, and they will be thrown into utter darkness.
Again, these people are the children of Christian fathers and mothers. There is nothing that touches a man's heart, mark you, like talking about his mother. I have heard of a swearing sailor, whom nobody could control, not even the police. He was always making some disturbance wherever he went. Once he went into a church during the worship service and no one could keep him still; but a gentleman went up and said to him, "Sailor, you once had a mother." With that the tears ran down his cheeks. He said, "Bless you, sir, I had; and she went to the grave with much gray hair and sorrow that I caused, and look at the pretty sight I am making here tonight." He then sat down, quite sobered and subdued by the very mention of his mother. Ah, and there are some of you, "subjects of the kingdom," who can remember your mothers.
Your mother took you on her knee and taught you early how to pray; your father tutored you in the ways of godliness. And yet you are here tonight, without grace in your heart--without hope of heaven. You are going downwards towards hell as fast as your feet can carry you. There are some of you who have broken your poor mother's heart. Oh! if I could tell you what she has suffered for you when you have at night been indulging in your sin. Do you know what your guilt will be, you "subject of the kingdom," if you perish after a Christian mother's prayers and tears have fallen on you? I can conceive of no one entering hell with a worse guilt than the one who goes there with drops of his mother's tears on his head, and with his father's prayers following him at his heels.
Some of you will inevitably endure this doom; some of you, young men and women, will wake up one day and find yourselves in utter darkness, while your parents will be up there in heaven, looking down on you with scolding eyes, seeming to say, "What! after all we did for you, all we said, you come to this?" "Subjects of the kingdom!" don't think that a Christian mother can save you. Do not think, because your father was a member of such-and-such a church, that his godliness will save you.
I picture someone standing at heaven's gate, and demanding, "Let me in! Let me in!" What for? "Because my mother is in there." Your mother had nothing to do with you. If she was holy, she was holy for herself; if she was evil, she was evil for herself. "But my grandfather prayed for me!" That is of no use: did you pray for yourself? "No, I did not." Then grandfather's prayers, and grandmother's prayers, and father's and mother's prayers may be piled on the top of one another until they reach the stars, but they never can make a ladder for you to go to heaven on. You must seek God for yourself; or rather, God must seek you. You must have an active experience of godliness in your heart, or else you are lost, even though all your friends were in heaven.
There was a dreadful dream which a Christian mother once had, and she told it to her children. She dreamed the judgment day had come. The great books were opened. The people all stood before God. And Jesus Christ said, "Separate the chaff from the wheat; put the goats on the left hand, and the sheep on the right." The mother dreamed that she and her children were standing right in the middle of the great assembly of people. And an angel came, and said, "I must take the mother, she is a sheep: she must go to the right hand. The children are goats: they must go on the left." She thought as she went, her children clutched her, and said, "Mother, do we have to part? Must we be separated?" She then put her arms around them, and seemed to say, "My children, I would, if possible, take you with me." But in a moment the angel touched her; the tears on her cheeks dried, and now, overcoming natural affection, being rendered supernatural and exalted, submissive to God's will, she said, "My children, I taught you well, I trained you, and you abandoned the ways of God; and now all I have to say is, Amen to your condemnation." They then were snatched away, and she saw them in perpetual torment, while she was in heaven.
Young man, what will be your thoughts, when the last day comes, to hear Christ say, "Depart, you who are cursed?" And there will be a voice just behind Christ, saying, Amen. And, as you ask whose voice was that, you will find out that it was you mother. Or, young woman, when you are thrown into the utter darkness, what will you think when you hear a voice saying, Amen. And as you look, there sits your father, his lips still moving with the solemn curse. Ah! "subjects of the kingdom," the repentant reprobates will enter heaven, many of them; "tax collectors and sinners" will get there; repenting drunkards and blasphemers will be saved; but many of the "subjects of the kingdom" will be thrown out. Oh! to think that you who had been so well trained in Christian matters should be lost, while many of the worse will be saved.
It will be the hell of hells for you to look up and see there "poor Jack," the drunkard, lying in Abraham's bosom, while you, who had a Christian mother, are thrown into hell, simply because you would not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but instead refused His gospel, and lived and died without it! That is what makes it hurt so much, to see ourselves thrown out, when the chief of sinners finds salvation.
Now listen to me for a while--I will not detain you long--while I undertake the doleful task of telling you what is to become of these "subjects of the kingdom." Jesus Christ says they are to be "thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
First, notice, they are to be thrown outside. They are not told to go; but, when they come to heaven's gates, they are to be thrown out. As soon as hypocrites arrive at the gates of heaven, Justice will say, "There he comes! there he comes! He spurned a father's prayers, and mocked a mother's tears. He has forced his way downward against all of the advantages mercy has supplied. And now, there he comes. Gabriel, take that man." The angel, tying you hand and foot, holds you one single moment over the mouth of the abyss. He commands you look down--down--down. There is no bottom; and you hear coming up from the abyss, gloomy moans, and meaningless groans, and screams of tortured spirits. You tremble, your bones melt like wax, and your marrow shudders within you. Where now is you strength? And where is your boasting and bragging? You shriek and cry, you beg for mercy; but the angel, with one tremendous grip, quickly jerks you, and then hurls you down, with the cry, "Away, away!" And down you go to the pit of hell that is bottomless, and spiral forever downward--downward--downward--never to find a resting place for the soles of your feet. You will be thrown out.
And where are you to be thrown to? You are to be thrown "outside, into the darkness;" you are to be put in the place where there is no hope. For, by "light," in Scripture, we understand "hope;" and you are to be put "outside, into the darkness," where there is no light--no hope. Is there a man here who has no hope? I can't imagine such a person. One of you, perhaps, says, "I am in deep financial debt, and will soon have to sell all that I have; but I have hope that I may get a loan, and so escape my difficulty." Another says, "My business is ruined, but things make take a turn for the better soon--I have a hope." Another says, "I am in great distress, but I hope that God will provide for me." Another says, "I am in great debt; I am sorry about it; but I will set these strong hands to work, and do my best to get out of debt." One of you has a friend that is dying, but you have hope that, perhaps, the fever may take a turn--that he may yet live.
But, in hell, there is no hope. They don't even have the hope of dying or the hope of being annihilated. They are forever--forever--forever--lost! On every link of the chains in hell are written the word "forever." In the fires, the flames spell out the word "forever." Up above their heads, they read the words "forever." Their eyes are irritated, and their hearts are in anguish with the thought that it is "forever." Oh! if I could tell you tonight that hell would one day be burned out, and that those who were lost might be saved, there would be a jubilee in hell at the very thought of it. But it cannot be--it is "forever." They are "thrown outside, into the darkness."
But I want to finish this as quickly as I can; for who can bear to talk like this to his fellow creatures? What is it that the lost are doing? They are "weeping and gnashing their teeth." Do you gnash you teeth now? You wouldn't do it unless you were in pain and agony. Well, in hell there is always gnashing of teeth. And do you know why? There is one gnashing his teeth at his companion, and mutters, "I was led into hell by you; you led me astray, you taught me to take the first drink." And the other gnashes his teeth and says, "What if I did? You made me act worse than I would have when we went out drinking at night."
There is a child who looks at her mother, and says, "Mother, you taught me to be dishonest." And the mother gnashes her teeth back at the child, and says, "I have no pity for you, because you became more dishonest than I and even taught me new ways of evil." Fathers gnash their teeth at their sons, and sons at their fathers. And, I think, if there are any who will gnash their teeth more than others, it will be the seducers, when they see those whom they have led into immorality, and hear them saying, "Ah! we are glad you are in hell with us, you deserve it, for you led us here."
Tonight, do any of you have on your consciences the fact that you have led others to the pit of hell? O, may the sovereign grace of God forgive you. "We have gone astray like lost sheep," said David. Now a lost sheep never goes astray alone, if it is one of a flock. I read lately of a sheep that leaped over the side guard railing of a bridge, and was followed by every one of the flock. So, if one man goes astray, he leads others with him. Some of you will have to give an account for others' sins when you get to hell, as well as your own. Oh, what "weeping and gnashing of teeth" there will be in that pit!
Now shut your Bible. Who wants to say any more about it? I have warned you solemnly. I have told you of the wrath to come. The evening darkens and the sun is setting. Ah! and the evening of life darkens for some of you. I can see gray-headed men here. Are your gray hairs a crown of glory, or a fool's cap to you? Are you on the very verge of heaven, or are you staggering on the edge of your grave, and sinking down to hell?
Let me warn you, gray-headed men; your evening is coming. O, poor, staggering gray-head, will you take the last step into the pit? Let a young child step in front of you and beg you to reconsider. Think tonight of your past seventy years worth of sin. Let your past life march before your eyes. What will you do with seventy wasted years to answer for--with seventy years of criminality to bring before God? God give you grace this night to repent and to put your trust in Jesus.
And you, middle-aged men, are not safe either; the evening lowers on you too; you may die soon. A few mornings ago, I was awakened early from my bed, and asked that I would hurry and go to see a dying man. I hurried as fast as I could to see this poor dying creature; but, when I reached the house, he was dead--a corpse. As I stood in the room, I thought, "That man gave little thought that he would die so soon." There were his wife and children, and friends--they also gave little thought that he would die, for he was robust, strong, and healthy just a few days earlier. None of you have a signed guarantee on the length of the days of your lives. Go and see if you have such a contract anywhere in your house. No! you may die tomorrow. Therefore, let me warn you by the mercy of God; let me speak to you as a brother; for I love you, you know I do, and would press the matter home to your hearts. Oh, to be among the many who shall be accepted in Christ--how blessed that will be! And God has said that whoever will call on His name will be saved: He throws none out that come to Him through Christ.
And now, you young men and women, one word with you. Perhaps you think that religion is not for you. "Let us be happy," you say: "let us be cheerful and content." How long, young man, how long? "Till I am twenty-one." Are you sure that you will live till then? Let me tell you one thing. If you do live till that time, if you have no heart for God now, you will have none then. Men do not get better if left alone. They are just like a garden: if you leave it alone, and allow weeds to grow, you will not expect to find it better in six months--but worse. Men talk as if they could repent whenever they like. It is the work of God to give us repentance. Some even say, "I will turn to God someday." But if you truly had the right heart, you would say, "I must run to God, and ask Him to given me repentance now, lest I should die before I have found Jesus Christ, my Savior."
Now, one word in conclusion. I have told you of heaven and hell; what is the way, then, to escape from hell and to be found in heaven? I will not tell you my old story again tonight. I remember when I told it to you before, a good friend in the crowd said, "Tell us something fresh, old fellow." Now really, in preaching ten times a week, we cannot always say things fresh each time. You have heard John Gough, and you know he tells his tales over again. I have nothing but the old gospel. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved." There is nothing here of works. It does not say, "He who is a good man will be saved." but "Whoever believes and is baptized." Well, what is it to believe? It is to put your trust entirely on Jesus. Poor Peter once believed, and Jesus Christ said to him, "Come on, Peter, walk to me on the water." Peter went stepping along on the tops of the waves without sinking; but when he looked at the waves, he began to tremble, and down he went. Now, poor sinner, Christ says, "Come on; walk on your sins; come to me;" and if you do, He will give you power.
If you believe in Christ, you will be able to walk over your sins--to tread on them and overcome them. I can remember the time when my sins first stared me in the face. I thought myself to be the most accursed of all men. I hadn't committed any great visible sin against God; but I remembered that I had been well trained and tutored, and I thought my sins were thus greater than other people's. I cried to God to have mercy; and I feared that he would not pardon me. Month after month, I cried to God, and He did not hear me, and I did not know salvation. Sometimes I was so tired of the world that I wanted to die; but then I remembered that there was a worse world after this, and that it would be foolish to rush before my Maker unprepared. At times I wickedly thought God was a heartless tyrant, because He did not answer my prayer; and then, at other times, I thought, "I deserve his displeasure; if He sends me to hell, He will be just."
But I remember the hour when I stepped into a little church, and saw a tall, thin man step into the pulpit: I have never seen him from that day, and probably never will, till we meet in heaven. He opened the Bible and read, with a feeble voice, "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other." Ah! I thought, I am one of the ends of the earth; and then turning around, and fixing His gaze on me, as if he knew me, the minister said, "Turn, Turn, Turn." Why, I thought I had a great deal to do, but I found it was only to turn. I thought I had to make my own clothes of righteousness; but I found that if I turned, Christ would give me the righteous clothes.
Turn, sinner, that is all that is needed to be saved. Turn to Him, all you ends of the earth, and be saved. That is what the Jews did, when Moses held up the bronze serpent. He said, "Look!" and they turned and looked. The serpent might be twisting around them, and they might be almost dead; but they simply turned and looked, and the moment they turned and looked the serpent dropped off, and they were healed. Turn to Jesus, sinner. "No one but Jesus can do any good to helpless sinners." There is a hymn we often sing, but which I don't think is quite right. It says, "Venture on Him, venture wholly; Let no other trust intrude." Now, it is no venture to trust in Christ, not in the least; he who trusts in Christ is quite secure.
I remember that, when dear John Hyatt was dying, Matthew Wilks said to him in his usual tone, "Well, John, could you trust your soul in the hands of Jesus Christ now?" "Yes," said he, "a million! a million souls!" I am sure that every Christian that has ever trusted in Christ can say Amen to that. Trust in Him; He will never deceive you. My blessed Master will never throw you away.
I can't speak much longer, and I have only to thank you for your kindness. I never saw so large a number of people be so still and quiet. I do really think, after all the hard things that have been said, that the English people knows who loves them, and that they will stand by the Man who stands by them. I thank every one of you; and above all, I beg you, if there be reason or sense in what I have said, think of yourselves for what you really are, and may the Blessed Spirit reveal to you your state! May He show you that you are dead, that you are lost, and ruined. May He make you feel what a dreadful thing it would be to sink into hell! May He point you to heaven! May He take hold of you as the angel did long ago, and put his hand on you and say, "Flee for your lives! Flee for your lives! Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" And may we all meet in heaven at last; and there we shall be happy forever. Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 8". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent