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The Greatest Trial on Record
February 22nd, 1863 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed." Psalms 2:2 .
After our Lord had been betrayed by the false-hearted Judas, he was bound by the officers who had come to take him; no doubt the cords were drawn as tight, and twisted as mercilessly as possible. If we believe the traditions of the fathers, these cords cut through the flesh even to the very bones, so that all the way from the garden to the house of Annas, his blood left a crimson trail. Our Redeemer was hurried along the road which crosses the brook Kedron. A second time he was made like unto David, who passed over that brook, weeping as he went; and perhaps it was on this occasion that he drank of that foul brook by the way. The brook Redron, you know, was that into which all the filth of the sacrifices of the temple was cast, and Christ, as though he were a foul and filthy thing, must be led to the black stream. He was led into Jerusalem by the sheep-gate, the gate through which the lambs of the Passover and the sheep for sacrifice were always driven. Little did they understand, that in so doing they were again following out to the very letter the significant types which God had ordained in the law of Moses. They led, I say, this Lamb of God through the sheep-gate, and they hastened him on to the house of Annas, the ex-high priest, who, either from his relationship to Caiaphas, from his natural ability, or his prominence in opposing the Savior, stood high in the opinion of the rulers. Here they made a temporary call, to gratify the bloodthirsty Annas with the sight of his victim; and then, hastening on, they brought him to the house of Caiaphas, some little distance off; where, though it was but a little past the dead of night, many members of the Sanhedrim were assembled. In a very short time, no doubt informed by some speedy messenger, all the rest of the elders came together, and sat down with great delight to the malicious work. Let us follow our Lord Jesus Christ, not, like Peter, afar off, but, like John, let us go in with Jesus into the high priest's house, and when we have tarried awhile there, and have seen our Savior despitefully used, let us traverse the streets with him, till we come to the hall of Pilate, and then to the palace of Herod, and then afterwards to the place called "the pavement," where Christ is subjected to an ignominious competition with Barabbas, the murderer, and where we hear the howling of the people, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Brethren, as the Lord gave commandment concerning even the ashes and offal of the sacrifices, we ought to think no matter trivial which stands in connection with our great burnt offering. My admonition is, "Gather up the fragments which remain, that nothing be lost." As goldsmiths sweep their shops, to save even the filings of the gold, so every word of Jesus should be treasured up as very precious. But, indeed, the narrative to which I invite you is not unimportant. Things which were purposed of old, prophesied by seers, witnessed by apostles, written by evangelists, and published by the ambassadors of God, are not matters of secondary interest, but deserve our solemn and devout attention. Let all our hearts be awed as we follow the King of kings in his pathway of shame and suffering. I. Come we, then, to the hall of Caiaphas. After the mob had dragged our Lord from the house of Annas, they reached the palace of Caiaphas, and there a brief interval occurred before the High Priest came forth to question the prisoner. How were those sad minutes spent? Was the poor victim allowed a little pause to collect his thoughts, that he might face his accusers calmly? Far from it; Luke shall tell the pitiful story: "And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him." The officers were pausing until the chairman of the court should please to have an interview with the prisoner, and instead of suffering the accused to take a little rest before a trial so important, upon which his life and character depended, they spend all the time in venting their bitter malice upon him. Observe how they insult his claim to the Messiahship! In effect, they mock him thus: "Thou claimest to be a prophet like unto Moses; thou knowest things to come; if thou be sent of God, prove it by discovering thy foes; we will put thee on thy trial, and test thee, O thou man of Nazareth." They bind his eyes, and then, smiting him one after another, they bid him exercise his prophetic gift, for their amusement, and prophesy who it was that smote him. Oh, shameful question! How gracious was the silence, for an answer might have withered them for ever. The day shall come when all that smite Christ, shall find that he has seen them, though they thought his eyes were blinded. The day shall come, blasphemer, worldling, careless man, when everything that you have done against Christ's cause and Christ's people, shall be published before the eyes of men and angels, and Christ shall answer your question, and shall tell you who it is that smote him. I speak to some this morning who have forgotten that Christ sees them; and they have ill-treated his people; they have spoken ill of his holy cause, saying, "How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?" I tell you, the Judge of men shall ere long, point you out, and make you, to your shame and confusion of face, confess that you smote the Savior when you smote his Church. This preliminary mockery being over, Caiaphas, the high priest came in; he began at once to interrogate the Lord before the public trial doubtless with the view of catching him in his speech. The high priest asked him first of his disciples. We do not know what questions he asked; perhaps they were something like these: "What meanest thou, to allow a rabble to follow thee wherever thou goest? Who art thou, that thou shouldst have twelve persons always attending thee and calling thee Master? Dost thou intend to make these the leaders of a band of men? Are these to be thy lieutenants, to raise a host on thy behalf? Or dost thou pretend to be a prophet, and are these the sons of the prophets who follow thee, as Elisha did Elias Moreover, where are they? Where are thy gallant followers? If thou art a good man, why are they not here to bear witness to thee? Where are they gone? Are they not ashamed of their folly, now that thy promises of honor all end in shame?" The high priest "asked him of his disciples." Our Lord Jesus on this point said not a syllable. Why this silence? Because it is not for our Advocate to accuse his disciples. He might have answered, "Well dost thou ask, 'Where are they?' the cowards forsook me; when one proved a traitor, the rest took to their heels. Thou sayest, 'Where are my disciples?' there is one yonder, sitting by the fire, warming his hands, the same who just now denied me with an oath." But no, he would not utter a word of accusation; he whose lips are mighty to intercede for his people, will never speak against them. Let Satan slander, but Christ pleads. The accuser of the brethren is the prince of this world: the Prince of peace is ever our Advocate before the eternal throne. The high priest next shifted his ground, and asked him concerning his doctrine what it was that he taught whether what he taught was not in contradiction to the original teachings of their great law-giver Moses and whether he had not railed at the Pharisees, reviled the Scribes, and exposed the rulers. The Master gave a noble answer. Truth is never shamefaced; he boldly points to his public life as his best answer. "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold they know what I said." No sophistries no attempt at evasion the best armor for truth is her own naked breast. He had preached in the market-places, on the mountain's brow, and in the temple courts; nothing had been done in a corner. Happy is the man who can make so noble a defense. Where is the joint in such harness? Where can the arrow pierce the man arrayed in so complete a panoply? Little did that arch-knave Caiaphas gain by his crafty questioning. For the rest of the questioning, our Lord Jesus said not a word in self-defense; he knew that it availed not for a lamb to plead with wolves; he was well aware that whatever he said would be misconstrued and made a fresh source of accusation, and he willed, moreover, to fulfill the prophecy, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." But what power he exerted in thus remaining silent! Perhaps nothing displays more fully the omnipotence of Christ, than this power of self-control. Control the Deity? What power less than divine can attempt the task? Behold, my brethren, the Son of God does more than rule the winds and commend the waves, he restrains himself. And when a word, a whisper, would have refuted his foes, and swept them to their eternal destruction, he "openeth not his mouth." He who opened his mouth for his enemies, will not utter a word for himself. If ever silence were more than golden, it is this deep silence under infinite provocation. During this preliminary examination, our Lord suffered an outrage which needs a passing notice. When he had said, "Ask them that hear me," some over-officious person in the crowd struck him in the face. The margin in John 18:22 , very properly corrects our version, and renders the passage, "with a rod." Now, considering that our blessed Lord suffered so much, this one little particular might seem unimportant, only it happens to be the subject of prophecy in the book of Micah 5:1 , "They shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek." This smiting while under trial is peculiarly atrocious. To strike a man while he is pleading in his own defense, would surely be a violation of the laws even of barbarians. It brought Paul's blood into his face, and made him lose his balance when the high priest ordered them to smite him on the mouth. I think I hear his words of burning indignation: "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?" How soon the servant loses his temper: how far more glorious the meekness of the Master. What a contrast do these gentle words afford us "If I have spoken evil bear witness to the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" This was such a concentrated infamy, to strike a man while pleading for his life, that it well deserved the notice both of evangelist and prophet. But now the Court are all sitting; the members of the great Sanhedrim are all in their various places, and Christ is brought forth for the public trial before the highest ecclesiastical court; though it is, mark you, a foregone conclusion, that by hook or by crook they will find him guilty. They scour the neighborhood for witnesses. There were fellows to be found in Jerusalem, like those who in the olden times frequented the Old Bailey, "straw witnesses," who were ready to be bought on either side; and, provided they were well paid, would swear to anything. But for all this, though the witnesses were ready to perjure themselves, they could not agree one with another; being heard separately, their tales did not tally. At last two came, with some degree of similarity in their witness; they were both liars, but for once the two liars had struck the same note. They declared that he said "I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands," Mark 14:58 . Now here was, first, misquotation. He never said, "I will destroy the temple," his words were, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." See how they add to his words and twist them to their own ends. Then again, they not only misquoted the words, but they misrepresented the sense, wilfully, because he spake concerning the temple of his body, and not the literal temple in which they worshipped; and this they must have known. He said, "Destroy this temple" and the accompanying action might have showed them that he meant his own body, which was raised by his glorious resurrection after destruction upon the cross. Let us add, that even when thus misrepresented, the witness was not sufficient as the foundation of a capital charge. Surely there could be nothing worthy of death in a man's saying, "Destroy this temple, and I will build it in three days." A person might make use of those words a thousand times over he might be very foolish, but he would not be guilty of death for such an offense. But where men have made up their minds to hate Christ, they will hate him without a cause. Oh! ye that are adversaries of Christ and there are some such here to-day I know ye try to invent some excuse for your opposition to his holy religion; ye forge a hundred falsehoods; but ye know that your witness is not true, and your trial in conscience through which you pass the Savior, is but a mock one. Oh that ye were wise, and would understand him to be what he is, and submit yourselves to him now. Finding that their witness, even when tortured to the highest degree, was not strong enough, the high priest, to get matter of accusation, adjured him by the Most High God to answer whether he was the Christ, "the Son of the Blessed." Being thus adjured, our Master would not set us an example of cowardice; he spake to purpose; he said, "I am," Mark 14:62 , and then, to show how fully he knew this to be true, he added, "ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." I cannot understand what Unitarians do with this incident. Christ was put to death on a charge of blasphemy, for having declared himself to be the Son of God. Was not that the time when any sensible person would have denied the accusation? If he had not really claimed to be the Son of God, would he not now have spoken? Would he not now, once for all, have delivered our minds from the mistake under which we are laboring, if, indeed, it be a mistake, that he is the Son of God? But no, he seals it with his blood; he bears open testimony before the herd of his accusers. "I am." I am the Son of God, and I am the sent-one of the Most High. Now, now the thing is done. They want no further evidence. The judge, forgetting the impartiality which becomes his station, pretends to be wonderfully struck with horror, rends his garments, turns round to ask his co-assessors whether they need any further witness, and they, all too ready, hold up their hands in token of unanimity, and he is at once condemned to die. Ah! brethren, and no sooner condemned, than the high priest, stepping down from his divan, spits in his face, and then the Sanhedrim follow, and smite him on his cheek; and then they turn him down to the rabble that had gathered in the court, and they buffet him from one to the other, and spit upon his blessed cheeks, and smite him, and then they play the old game again, which they had learned so well before the trial came on; they blindfold him for a second time, place him in the chair, and as they smite him with their fists they cry. "Prophet! Prophet! Prophet! who is it that smote thee? Prophecy unto us!" And thus the Savior passed a second time through that most brutal and ignominious treatment. If we had tears, if we had sympathies, if we had hearts, we should prepare to shed those tears, to awake those sympathies, and break those hearts, now. O thou Lord of life and glory! how shamefully wast thou illtreated by those who pretended to be the curators of holy truth, the conservators of integrity, and the teachers of the law! Having thus sketched the trial as briefly as I could, let me just say, that, throughout the whole of this trial before the ecclesiastical tribunal, it is manifest that they did all they could to pour contempt upon his two claims to Deity and to Messiahship. Now, friends, this morning this morning, as truly as on that eventful occasion you and I must range ourselves on one of two sides. Either this day we must cheerfully acknowledge his Godhead, and accept him also as the Messias, the Savior promised of old to us; or else we must take our post with those who are the adversaries of God and of his Christ. Will you ask yourself the question, on which side will you now stand? I pray you, do not think that Christ's Deity needs any further proof than that which this one court gives. My dear friends, there is no religion under heaven, no false religion, which would have dared to hazard such a statement, as that yonder man who was spit upon and buffeted was none other than incarnate God. No false religion would venture to draw upon the credulity of its followers to that extent. What! that man there who speaks not a word, who is mocked, despised, rejected, made nothing of what! he "very God of very God?" You do not find Mohammed, nor any false prophet, asking any person to believe a doctrine so extraordinary. They know too well that there is a limit even to human faith; and they have not ventured upon such a marvellous assertion as this, that yonder despised man is none other than the upholder of all things. No false religion would have taught a truth so humbling to him who is its founder and Lord. Besides, it is not in the power of any man-made religion to have conceived such a thought. That Deity should willingly submit to be spit upon to redeem those whose mouths vented the spittle! In what book do you read such a wonder as this? We have pictures drawn from imagination; we have been enchanted along romantic pages, and we have marvelled at the creative flights of human genius; but where did you ever read such a thought as this? "God was made flesh and dwelt among us" he was despised, scourged, mocked, treated as though he were the offscouring of all things, brutally treated, worse than a dog, and all out of pure love to his enemies. Why, the thought is such a great one, so God-like, the compassion in it is so divine, that it must be true. None but God could have thought of such a thing as this stoop from the highest throne in glory to the cross of deepest shame and woe. And do you think that if the doctrine of the cross were not true, such effects would follow from it? Would those South Sea Islands, once red with the blood of cannibalism, be now the abode of sacred song and peace? Would this island, once itself the place of naked savages, be what it is, through the influence of the benign gospel of God, if that gospel were a lie? Ah! hallowed mistake, indeed, to produce such peaceful, such blessed, such lasting, such divine results! Ah! he is God. The thing is not false. And that he is Messiah, who shall doubt? If God should send a prophet, what better prophet could you desire? What character would you seek to have exhibited more completely human and divine? What sort of a Savior would you wish for? What could better satisfy the cravings of conscience? Who could commend himself more fully to the affections of the heart? He must be, we feel at once, as we see him, one alone by himself, with no competitor; he must be the Messiah of God. Come, now, sirs, on which side will you range yourselves? Will you smite him? I put the question "Who is it that will smite him this day? Who is it that will spit upon him this day?" "I will not," says one, "but I do not accept nor believe in him." In that you smite him. "I do not hate him," says another, "but I am not saved by him." In refusing his love you smite him. Whoever among you will not trust him with your soul in that you smite him, smite him in the tenderest part: since you impugn his love and power to save. Oh! "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." That suffering man stands in the room, and place, and stead of every one that will believe on him. Trust him! trust him! you have then accepted him as your God, as your Messiah. Refuse to trust him! you have smitten him; and you may think it little to do this to-day; but when he rides upon the clouds of heaven you will see your sin in its true light, and you will shudder to think that ever you could have refused him who now reigns "King of kings and Lord of lords." God help you to accept him, as your God and Christ, to-day! II. But our time flies too rapidly, and we must hasten with it, and accompany our Savior to another place. The Romans had taken away from the Jews the power to put a person to death, they sometimes did it still, but they did it, as in the case of Stephen, by popular tumult. Now, in our Savior's case they could not do this, because there was still a strong feeling in favor of Christ among the people, a feeling so strong, that had they not been bribed by the rulers, they would never have said, "Crucify him! crucify him!" You will remember that the priests and rulers did not arrest him on the feast day, "lest" said they "there be a tumult among the people." Besides, the Jewish way of putting a person to death, was by stoning: hence, unless there was a sufficient number of persons who hated him, a person would never get put to death at all. That is why the method of putting to death by stoning was chosen, because if a person was generally thought to be innocent, very few persons would stone him; and although he would be somewhat maimed, his life might possibly be spared. They thought, therefore, the Savior might escape as he did at other times, when they took up stones to stone him. Moreover they desired to put him to the death of the accursed; they would confound him with slaves and criminals, and hang him like the Canaanitish kings of old; therefore they hound him away to Pilate. The distance was about a mile. He was bound in the same cruel manner, and was doubtless cut by the cords. He had already suffered most dreadfully; please to remember the bloody sweat of last Sabbath week; then remember that he has already twice been beaten; and he is now hurried along, without any rest or refreshment, just as the morning is breaking, along the streets to the place where Pilate lived, perhaps the tower of Antonia, close to the temple itself; we are not quite sure. He is bound and they hurry him along the road; and here the Romish writers supply a great number of particulars of anguish out of their very fertile imaginations. After they had brought him there a difficulty occurred. These holy people, these very righteous elders, could not come into the company of Pilate, because Pilate, being a Gentile, would defile them; and there was a broad space outside the palace, like a raised platform, this was called "the pavement," where Pilate was wont to sit on those high days, that he might not touch these blessed Jews. So he came out on the pavement, and they themselves went not into the hall, but remained before "the pavement." Always notice, that sinners who can swallow camels will strain at gnats, crowds of men who will do great sins are very much afraid of committing some little things which they they think will affect their religion. Notice, that many a man who is a big thief during the week, will ease his conscience by rigid Sabbatarianism when the day comes round. In fact, most hypocrites run for shelter to some close observance of days, ceremonies, and observations, when they have slighted the weightier matters of the law. Well, Pilate receives him bound. The charge brought against him was not, of course, blasphemy; Pilate would have laughed at that, and declined all interference. They accused him of stirring up sedition, pretending to be a king, and teaching that it was not right to pay tribute to Caesar. This last charge was a clear and manifest lie. He refuse to pay tribute? Did not he send to the fish's mouth to get the money? He say that Caesar must not have his due? Did he not tell the Herodians "Render unto Caesar the things that are Cresar's?" He stir up a sedition? the man that had "not where to lay his head?" He pretend to snatch the diadem from Caesar? he, the man who hid himself, when the people would have taken him by force and made him a king? Nothing can be more atrociously false. Pilate examines him, and discovers at once, both from his silence and from his answer, that he is a most extraordinary person; he perceives that the kingdom which he claims is something supernatural; he cannot understand it. He asks him what he came into the world for, the reply puzzles and amazes him, "To bear witness to the truth," says he. Now, that was a thing no Roman understood; for a hundred years before Pilate came, Jugurtha said of the city of Rome, "a city for sale;" bribery, corruption, falsehood, treachery, villany, these were the gods of Rome, and truth had fled the seven hills, the very meaning of the word was scarcely known. So Pilate turned on his heel, and said, "What is truth?" As much as to say, "I am the procurator of this part of the country; all I care for is money." "What's truth?" I do not think he asked the question, "What is truth?" as some preach from it, as if he seriously desired to know what it really was, for surely he would have paused for the divine reply and not have gone away from Christ the moment afterwards. He said, "Pshaw; What's truth?" Yet there was something so awful about the prisoner, that his wife's dream, and her message "See that thou have nothing to do with this just person," all worked upon the superstitious fears of this very weak-minded ruler; so he went back and told the Jews a second time, "I find no fault in him;" and when they said, "He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning at Galilee to this place," he caught at that word "Galilee." "Now," he thought, "I will be rid of this man; the people shall have their way, and yet I will not be guilty." "Galilee?" said he; "why, Herod is ruler there; you had better take him to Herod at once." He thus gained two or three points; he made Herod his friend; he hoped to exonerate himself of his crime, and yet please the mob. Away they go to Herod. Oh! I think I see that blessed Lamb of God again hounded through the streets. Did you ever read such a tale? No martyr, even in bloody Mary's time, was ever harried thus as the Savior was. We must not think that his agonies were all confined to the cross; they were endured in those streets in those innumerable blows, and kicks, and strikings with the fist, that he had to bear. They took him before Herod, and Herod having heard of his miracles, thought to see some wonderful thing, some piece of jugglery, done in his presence; and when Christ refused to speak, and would not plead before "that fox" at all, then Herod treated him with a sneer. "They made nothing of him." Can you picture the scene? Herod, his captains, his lieutenants, all, down to the meanest soldiers, treat the Savior with a broad grin! "A pretty king," they seem to say; "a miserable beggar better! Look at his cheeks, all bruised where they have been smiting him: is that the color of royalty's complexion?" "Look," say they, "he is emaciated, he is covered with blood, as though he had been sweating drops of blood all night. Is that the imperial purple?" And so they "made nothing of him," and despised his kingship. And Herod said, "Bring out that costly white robe, you know, if he be a king, let us dress him so," and so the white robe is put on him not a purple one that Pilate put on afterwards. He has two robes put on him the one put on by the Jews, the other by the Gentiles; seeming to be a fit comment on that passage in Solomon's song, where the spouse says, "My beloved is white and ruddy" white with the gorgeous robe which marked him King of the Jews, and then red with the purple robe which Pilate afterwards cast upon his shoulders, which proved him King of nations too. And so Herod and his men of war, after treating him as shamefully as they could, looking at him as some madman mare fit for Bedlam than elsewhere, sent him back again to Pilate. Oh! can you not follow him? You want no great imagination as you see them dragging him back again! It is another journey along those streets; another scene of shameful tumult, bitter scorn, and cruel smitings. Why, he dies a hundred deaths, my brethren, it is not one it is death on death the Savior bears, as he is dragged from tribunal to tribunal. See, they bring him to Pilate a second time. Pilate again is anxious to save him. He says, "I have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod; I will therefore release him!" "No, no," they say; and they clamor greatly. He proposes a cruel alternative, which yet he meant for tender mercy "I will therefore chastise him, and let him go." He gave him over to his lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was, as I have explained before, a most dreadful instrument. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and little sharp pieces of bone, which, you know, cause the most frightful lacerations, if by accident you even run them into your hand; little sharp pieces, splinters of bone, were intertwisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down some of these pieces of bone went right into the flesh, and tore off heavy thonglulls, and not only the blood but the very flesh would be rent away. The Savior was tied to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictor was probably the most severe of his flagellations. After Pilate had beaten him, he gave him up to the soldiers for a short time, that they might complete the mockery, and so be able to witness that Pilate had no idea of the royalty of Jesus, and no complicity in any supposed treason. The soldiers put a crown of thorns on his head, and bowed before him, and spat on him, and put a reed in his hands; they smote the crown of thorns into his temple, they covered him with a purple robe; and then Pilate brought him out, saying, "Behold the man!" I believe he did it out of pity. He thought, "Now I have wounded him and cut him to pieces thus, I will not kill him; that sight will move their hearts." Oh! that Ecce Homo ought to have melted their hearts, if Satan had not made them harder than flints and sterner than steel. But no, they cry, "Crucify him! crucify him!" So Pilate listens to them again, and they change their note, "He hath spoken blasphemy." This was a wrong charge to bring; for Pilate, having his superstition again aroused, is the more afraid to put him to death; and he comes out again, and says, "I find no fault in him." What a strong contest between good and evil in that man's heart! But they cried out again, "If thou let this man go thou art not Caesar's friend." They hit the mark this time, and he yields to their clamor. He brings forth a basin of water, and he washes his hands before them all, and he says, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." A poor way of escaping! That water could not wash the blood from his hands, though their cry did bring the blood on their heads "His blood be on us and on our children." When that is done, Pilate takes the last desperate step of sitting down on the pavement in royal state; he condemns Jesus, and bids them take him away. But ere he is taken to execution, the dogs of war shall snap at him again. The Jews no doubt having bribed the soldiers to excessive zeal of scorn, they a second time (oh! mark this; perhaps ye thought this happened only once. This is the fifth time he has thus been treated) the soldiers took him back again, and once more they mocked him, once more they spat upon him, and treated him shamefully. So, you see, there was once when he first went to the house of Caiaphas; then after he was condemned there; then Herod and his men of war; then Pilate after the scourging; and then the soldiers, after the ultimate condemnation. See ye not how manifestly "he was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." I do not know when I ever more heartily wished to be eloquent than I do now. I am talking to my own lips, and saying, "Oh! that these lips had language worthy of the occasion!" I do but faintly sketch the scene. I cannot lay on the glowing colors. Oh, that I could set forth thy grief, thou Man of Sorrows! God the Holy Ghost impress it on your memories and on your souls, and help you pitifully to consider the griefs of your blessed Lord. I will now leave this point, when I have made this practical application of it. Remember, dear friends, that this day, as truly as on that early morning, a division must be made among us. Either you must this day accept Christ as your King, or else his blood will be on you. I bring my Master out before your eyes, and say to you, "Behold your King." Are you willing to yield obedience to him? He claims first your implicit faith in his merit: will you yield to that? He claims, next, that you will take him to be Lord of your heart, and that, as he shall be Lord within, so he shall be Lord without. Which shall it be? Will you choose him now? Does the Holy Spirit in your soul for without that you never will does the Holy Spirit say, "Bow the knee, and take him as your king?" Thank God, then. But if not, his blood is on you, to condemn you. You crucified him. Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod, the Jews and Romans, all meet in you. You scourged him; you said, "Let him be crucified." Do not say it was not so. In effect you join their clamours when you refuse him; when you go your way to your farm and to your merchandise, and despise his love and his blood, you do spiritually what they did literally you despise the King of kings. Come to the fountain of his blood, and wash and be clean. III. But we must close with a third remark. Christ really underwent yet a third trial. He was not only tried before the ecclesiastical and civil tribunals, but, he was really tried before the great democratical tribunal, that is, the assembly of the people in the street. You will say, "How?" Well, the trial was somewhat singular, but yet it was really a trial. Barabbas a thief, a felon, a murderer, a traitor, had been captured; he was probably one of a band of murderers who were accustomed to come up to Jerusalem at the time of the feast, carrying daggers under their cloaks to stab persons in the crowd, and rob them, and then he would be gone again; besides that, he had tried to stir up sedition, setting himself up possibly as a leader of banditti. Christ was put into competition with this villain; the two were presented before the popular eye, and to the shame of manhood, to the disgrace of Adam's race, let it be remembered that the perfect, loving, tender, sympathizing, disinterested Savior was met with the word, "Crucify him!" and Barabbas, the thief, was preferred. "Well," says one, "that was atrocious." The same thing is put before you this morning the very same thing; and every unregenerate man will make the same choice that the Jews did, and only men renewed by grace will act upon the contrary principle. I say, friend, this day I put before you Christ Jesus, or your sins. The reason why many come not to Christ is because they cannot give up their lusts, their pleasures, their profits. Sin is Barabbas; sin is a thief; it will rob your soul of its life; it will rob God of his glory. Sin is a murderer; it stabbed our father Adam; it slew our purity. Sin is a traitor; it rebels against the king of heaven and earth. If you prefer sin to Christ, Christ has stood at your tribunal, and you have given in your verdict that sin is better than Christ. Where is that man? He comes here every Sunday; and yet he is a drunkard? Where is he? You prefer that reeling demon Bacchus to Christ. Where is that man? He comes here. Yes; and where are his midnight haunts? The harlot and the prostitute can tell! You have preferred your own foul, filthy lust to Christ. I know some here that have their consciences open pricked, and yet there is no change in them. You prefer Sunday trading to Christ; you prefer cheating to Christ; you prefer the theater to Christ; you prefer the harlot to Christ; you prefer the devil himself to Christ, for he it is that is the father and author of these things. "No," says one, "I don't, I don't." Then I do again put this question, and I put it very pointedly to you "If you do not prefer your sins to Christ, how is it that you are not a Christian?" I believe this is the main stumbling-stone, that "Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." We come not to Christ because of the viciousness of our nature, and depravity of our heart; and this is the depravity of your heart, that you prefer darkness to light, put bitter for sweet, and choose evil as your good. Well, I think I hear one saying, "Oh! I would be on Jesus Christ's side, but I did not look at it in that light; I thought the question was. "Would he be on my side? I am such a poor guilty sinner that I would fain stand anywhere, if Jesu's blood would wash me." Sinner! sinner! if thou talkest like that, then I will meet thee right joyously. Never was a man one with Christ till Christ was one with him. If you feel that you can now stand with Christ, and say, "Yes, despised and rejected, he is nevertheless my God, my Savior, my king. Will he accept me? Why, soul, he has accepted you; he has renewed you, or else you would not talk so. You speak like a saved man. You may not have the comfort of salvation, but surely there is a work of grace in your heart, God's divine election has fallen upon you, and Christ's precious redemption has been made for you, or else you would not talk so. You cannot be willing to come to Christ, and yet Christ reject you. God forbid we should suppose the possibility of any sinner crying after the Savior, and the Savior saying, "No, I will not have you." Blessed be his name, "Him that cometh to me," he says, "I will in no wise cast out." "Well," says one, "then I would have him to-day. How can I do it?" There is nothing asked of thee but this. Trust him! trust him! Believe that God put him in the stead of men; believe that what he suffered was accepted by God instead of their punishment; believe that this great equivalent for punishment can save you. Trust him; throw yourself on him; as a man commits himself to the waters, so do you; sink or swim! You will never sink, you will never sink; for "he that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ hath everlasting life, and shall never come into condemnation." May these faint words upon so thrilling a subject bless your souls, and unto God be glory, for ever and ever. Amen and Amen.
An Earnest Invitation
July 3rd, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." Psalms 2:12 .
It will not be needful for me this morning to be controversial in my discourse; for but two Sabbaths ago I addressed you from that text, "The mighty God," and endeavored with the utmost of my ability to prove that Christ must be "very God of very God," co-equal and co-eternal with his Father. Without, then, attempting to prove that, let us drive onward towards the practical issue; for, after all, practice is the end of preaching; or, if ye will have it, I will put it into Herbert's words
"Attend sermons, but prayers most, Praying's the end of preaching."
And that too is in the text, for what lip can give the kiss of sincerity to the Son of God, save the lip of prayer. We drive onward, then, towards the practical conclusion May God the Holy Spirit assist us. Now it has sometimes been disputed among most earnest and zealous ministers, which is the most likely means of bringing souls to Christ; whether it is the thunder of the threatening, or the still small whisper of the promise. I have heard some ministers who preferred the first; they have constantly dwelt upon the terrors of the law, and they have certainly, many of them, been eminently useful. they hare had Scripture for their warrant Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. With "terrible things in righteousness" declaring the just anger and judgment of God against sin, they have alarmed those who were sitting at ease in a graceless state, and have thus been the means in the hands of God, of inducing them to flee from the wrath to come. Some, on the other hand, have rather decried the threatenings; and have dwelt almost entirely upon the promises. Like John their ministry has been full of love; they have constantly preached from such texts as this "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and such like, Now, these also have been eminently useful; and they too have had Scriptural warrant in abundance, for thus spake Christ's apostles full often, and thus spake Jesus Christ himself, wooing with notes of mercy, and melting with tones of love those whom the law's terrors would but have hardened in their sins. My text, however, seems to be a happy combination of the two, and I take it, that the most successful ministry will combine both means of bringing men to Christ. The text thunders with all the bolts of God "Lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." But it does not end in thunder, there comes a sweet soft, reviving shower after the storm; "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." This morning I shall endeavor to use both arguments, and shall divide my text thus: First, the command, "Kiss the Son" secondly, the argument used, "lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way;" and thirdly, the benediction with which the text closes "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him;" this benediction being a second reason why we should obey the commandment. I. First, then, THE COMMAND "Kiss the Son." This bears four interpretations. A kiss has divers meanings in it progressive meanings. I pray that we may be led by grace from step to step, so that we may understand the command in all its fullness by putting it in practice. 1. In the first place, it is a kiss of reconciliation. The kiss is a token of enmity removed, of strife ended, and of peace established. You will remember that when Jacob met Esau, although the hearts of the brothers had been long estranged, and fear had dwelt in the breast of one, and revenge had kindled its fires in the heart of the other; when they met they were pacified towards each other and they fell upon each other's neck, and they kissed: it was the kiss of reconciliation. Now, the very first work of grace in the heart is, for Christ to give the sinner the kiss of his affection, to prove his reconciliation to the sinner. Thus the father kissed his prodigal son when he returned. Before the feast was spread, before the music and the dance began, the father fell upon his son's neck, and kissed him. On our part, however, it is our business to return that kiss; and as Jesus give's the reconciling kiss on God's behalf, it is ours to kiss the lip of Jesus, and to prove by that deed that we are "reconciled to God by the death of his Son." Sinner, thou hast hitherto been an enemy of Christ's gospel. Thou hast hated his Sabbaths; thou hast neglected his Word; thou hast abhorred his commandments and cast his laws behind thy back; thou hast, as much as lieth in thee, opposed his kingdom; thou hast loved the wages of sin, and the ways of iniquity better than the ways of Christ. What sayest thou? Does the Spirit now strive in thy heart? Then, I beseech thee, yield to his gracious influence, and now let thy quarrel be at an end. Cast down the weapons of thy rebellion; pull out the plumes of pride from thy helmet, and cast away the sword of thy rebellion. Be his enemy no longer; for, rest assured, he willst to be thy friend. With arms outstretched, ready to receive thee, with eyes full of tears, weeping over thine obstinacy, and with bowels moved with compassion for thee, he speaks through my lips this morning, and he says, "Rise the Son;" be reconciled. This is the very message of the gospel "The ministry of reconciliation." Thus speak we, as God hath commanded us. "We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." And is this a hard thing we ask of you, that you should be at friendship with him who is your best friends Is this a rigorous law, like the commands of Pharaoh to the children of Israel in Egypt, when he bids you simply strike hands with him who shed his blood for sinners? We ask you not to be friends of death or hell; we beg you rather to dissolve your league with them; we pray that grace may lead you to forswear their company for ever, and be at peace with him who is incarnate love and infinite mercy. Sinners why will ye resist him who only longs to save you? Why scorn him who loves you? Why trample on the blood that bought you, and reject the cross which is the only hope of your salvation? " Kiss the Son."
"Bow the knee, and kiss the Son, Come and welcome, sinner, come."
That is the first meaning of the text the kiss of reconciliation. The Spirit of God must work a change in man's heart before he will be willing to give this kiss, and it is my heart's desire, that by the words which shall be uttered this morning, the Spirit may bow the obdurate heart, and lead you to give Christ the kiss of reconciliation this very day. 2. Again, the kiss of my text is a kiss of allegiance and homage. It is an Eastern custom for the subjects to kiss the feet of the king; nay, in some instances their homage is so abject that they kiss the dust beneath his feet, and the very steps of his throne. Now, Christ requires of every man who would be saved, that he shall yield to his government and his rule. There are some who are willing enough to be saved and take Christ to be their priest:, but they are not willing to give up their sins, not willing to obey his precepts, to walk in his ordinances, and keep his commandments. Now, salvation cannot be cut in twain. If you would have justification you must have sanctification too. If your sins are pardoned they must be abhorred; if ye are washed in the blood to take away the guilt of sin, you must be washed in the water to take away the power of sin over your affections and life. Oh, sinners. the command is, "Kiss the Son," bow your knee, and come and own him to be a monarch, and say, "Other lords have had dominion over us; we have worshipped our lusts, our pleasures, our pride, our selfishness, but now will we submit ourselves to thine easy yoke. Take us and make us thine, for we are willing to be thy subjects
"Oh, sovereign grace our hearts subdue; We would be led in triumph too, As willing captives to our Lord, To sing the triumphs of his Word."
You must give him the kiss of fealty, of homage, and loyalty; and take him to be your king. And is this a hard thing? Is this a rigorous commandment? Why look at Englishmen, how they spring to their feet and sing with enthusiasm
"God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen!"
And is it a hard thing for you and me to be bidden to cry, "God save King Jesus! Spread his kingdom! Let him reign, Ring of kings and Lord of lords I Let him reign in our hearts?" Is it a hard thing to bow before his gentle scepter? Is there any cruelty in the demand, that we should submit ourselves to the law of right, and rectitude, and justice, and love? "His ways are ways of pleasantness and all his paths are peace." "His commandments are not grievous." "Come unto me," saith the Lord, "and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you;" it is not heavy; "take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." O sinner, leave that black monarch; turn your back upon the king of hell. May grace enable you now to flee away from him who deludes you to-day, and shall destroy you for ever; and come ye to the Prince Immanuel, the Son of God, and now declare yourselves to be the willing subjects of his blessed kingdom. "Kiss the Son." It is the kiss of reconciliation and the kiss of homage. 3. Again, it is the kiss of worship. They that worshipped Baal kissed the calves. It wee the custom in the east for idolaters to kiss the god which they foolishly adored. Now the commandment is that we should give to Christ divine worship. The Unitarian will not do this: he says, "Christ is but a mere man;" he will not kiss the eternal Son of God. Then let him know that God will not alter his gospel to suit his heresy. If he rebelliously denies the Godhead of Christ, he need not marvel if in the last day Christ shall say "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me," It is no marvel if he who rejects the Godhead of Christ should find that he has built his house upon the sand, and when the rain descends, and the flood comes, his hope shall totter, and great shall be the fall thereof. We are bidden to worship Christ, and O how pleasant is this command, to kiss him in adoration! It is the highest joy of the Christian to worship Jesus. I know of no thrill of pleasure that can more rejoice the Christian's breast, and thrill his soul to music, than the song of
"Worthy is he that once was slain, The Prince of Peace that groan'd and died, Worthy to rise, and live, and reign let his Almighty Father's side."
Surely that shall be the very song of heaven, to sing "Worthy the Lamb," and yet again to shout louder still, "Worthy the Lamb! worthy the Lamb! "Well, sinner, thou art bidden to do this to acknowledge Christ thy God. "Kiss the Son;" go to him in prayer this very day cast thyself on thy knees and worship him; confess thy sin committed against him; lay hold of his righteousness; touch the hem of his garment adore him by thy faith, trusting in him; adore him by thy service, living for him; adore him with thy lip, praising him; adore him with thy heart, loving him, and surrendering thy whole being to him. God help thee in this way to "kiss the Son." 4. There is yet a fourth meaning, and I think this is the sweetest of all. "Kiss the Son." Ah. Mary Magdalene, I need thee this morning! Come hither, Mary, thou shalt explain my text. There was a woman who had much forgiven and she loved much, and as a consequence, loving much she desired much the company and the presence of the object of her affection. She came to the Pharisee's house where he was feasting, but she was afraid to enter for she was a sinner; the Pharisee would repulse her, and tell her to go away. What did a harlot there in the house of a holy Pharisee? So she came to the door. as if she would peep in and just get a glimpse of him whom her soul loved. But there he lay upon the table, and happily for her, the Pharisee had slighted Christ, he had not put him at the head of the table, but at the end, and therefore his feet laying backward as he declined were close against the door. She came, and oh! she could not dare to look upon his head; she stood at his feet, behind him, weeping And as she wept, the tears flowed so plenteously that she washed his feet which the Pharisee had forgotten to wash with her tears. And then unbraiding her luxurious tresses, which had been the nets into which she had entangled her lovers, she began to wipe his feet with the hairs of her head. and stooping down she kissed his feet, and kissed them yet again. Poor sinner, thou that art full of guilt, if thou hast played the harlot, or if thou hast been a sinner in other ways, come, I beseech thee, to Jesus now. Look to him, believe in him,
"Trust in his blood, for it alone Hath power sufficient to atone."
And this done, come thou and "kiss the Son" kiss his feet with lore. Oh, if he were here this morning, methinks I would kiss those feet again and again. And if any should enquire the reason, I would answer,
"Love I much? I've much forgiven, I'm a miracle of grace."
Jesus, dost thou permit me to kiss thy feet with the kisses of affection? And may I pray like the spouse in the Canticles: "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love is better than wine." May I so pray? Then, glory be to thy name, I will not be slow in praying it. If I may be so highly favored I will not lose the favor through negligence and coldness of heart. Even now my soul gives the kiss of deep and sincere affection.
"Yes, I love thee and adore, O for grace to love thee more."
"Kiss the Son." Do you see then the meaning of it? It is a kiss of reconciliation, a kiss of homage, a kiss of worship, and a kiss of affectionate gratitude. "Kiss the Son." And what if in this great assembly there should be some soul that saith, "I will not kiss the Son, I owe him nothing, I will not serve him, I will not be reconciled to him?" Ah! soul, there are tears for thee. Would God that all the people of Christ would weep for thee until thy heart were changed; for the terrible part of the text which we are to read belongs to thee, and ere long thou shalt know its fearful meaning. But may we not hope better things? Have we not somewhere in this great hall some poor trembling penitent, who with the tear in his eye is saving, "Kiss him and be reconciled to him! Oh that I might My fear is, sir, it I should try to draw near to Christ, he would say, "Get thee gone, I will have nought to do with thee; thou art too vile, too hardened; thou hast too long resisted the Word, too long despised my grace get thee gone." No, soul, Jesus never said that yet, and he never will. Whatever are thy sins as long as thou art in the body there is hope. However great thy guilt, however enormous thy transgression, if thou art now willing to be reconciled, God has made thee willing, and he would not have put the will if he did not intend to gratify it. There is nothing that can keep thee from Christ if thou art willing to come. Christ casts out none that desire to be saved. There is in his heart enough for all that seek him, enough for each, enough for evermore. Oh! think not that Christ is ever slower than we are. We never love him before he loves us. If our heart loves him, his soul loved us long ago. and if we are now willing to be reconciled to him, let us rest assured that Jehovah's melting bowels yearn to clasp his Ephraims to his breast. May God bless this exhortation to every heart now present, and to him be the glory. II. This brings us to the second part of the text. "kiss the Son" and THE ARGUMENT is "Lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." read it "Lest he be angry." And can he be angry? Is he not the Lamb of God? Can a Lamb be angry? Did not he weep over sinners? Can he be angry? Did not he die for sinners can he be angry. yes, and when he is angry, it is anger indeed When he is angry it is anger that none can match. The most awful word I times think in the whole Bible that shriek of the lost. "Rocks hide us! mountains, fall upon us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." What a fearful con unction of terms "the wrath of the Lamb?" Can you picture that dear face of his, those eyes that wept, those hands that bled, those lips that spoke quell notes of love, such words of pity and can you believe that one day those eyes shall know no tears. but shall flash with lightning, that those hands shall know no mercy, but shall grasp a rod of iron and break the wicked into pieces like potter's vessels; and those feet shall know no errands of love, but he shall tread upon his enemies, and crush them, even as grapes are trodden by the wine-pressers, and the blood thereof shall stein his garments, and as he comes up from their destruction they shall ask him, "Who is this that cometh" not from Calvary, not from Gethsemane, but "Who is this that cometh from Edom" the land of his enemies with dyed garments from Bozrah?" the land of his stoutest foes "this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?" And what shall be the answer? It is most terrible. Who is this that has trodden his enemies and crushed them? "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Why, Jesus, if thou hadst said, "Mighty to destroy," we might have understood thee; but "mighty to save!" and so he is this gives the edge to the whole sentence, that when he shall destroy his enemies, he that is mighty to save will be mighty to crush, mighty to damn, mighty to devour, and rend his prey in pieces. I know nothing, I repeat, more fearful than the thought that Christ will be angry, and that if we live and die finally impenitent, rejecting his mercy and despising his sacrifice we have good need to tremble at this sentence, "Kiss the Son lest he be angry" And now do you see again that if Christ once be angry, it must be all over with our hopes or our rest? We will suppose now some poor girl who has stepped aside from the paths of right. She teas persevered in her iniquity despite many warnings. Friends rise up to help her, but they drop off one by one, for she becomes incorrigibly wicked. Others come to help her, but as often as they rise they fall again, for she sins, and sins, and sins again. There is, however, one who has oftentimes received her to his bosom, erring though she be her father. He says, "Shall I forget the child I have begotten? Sinner she is, but she is still my child," and often as she sins and goes away he will not reject her; he receives her to his house again; tainted and defiled, again he gives her the kiss of fond affection. At last she perseveres in her iniquity, and goes to such a length, that one day in her desperate despair, some one says to her, why not seek a friend to deliver you in this your awful hour of distress and anguish on account of sin? "Oh," says she, "I have none left." "But there is your father. have you note father or a mother?" "Yes," says she, "but he is angry, and he will do nothing for me." Then her last door is shut, and her hope is over. What wonder that
"Mad from life's history, Glad to death's mystery, Swift to be hurled Anywhere, anywhere, Out of the world,"
she ends her life because her only helper is angry, and her hope is gone? Despair must seize her then, when her best, her only helper is angry with her. Let me give you another picture, a simpler one. There is a dove long gone out of Noah's ark: suppose that dove to have been flying many hours till its wing is weary Poor, poor dove! Across the shoreless sea it flies, and finds never a spot whereon its weary feet may rest. At last, it bethinks itself of the ark, it flies there, hoping there to find a shelter: but suppose it should see Noah standing looking through the window with crossbow to destroy it, then where were its hope? Its only hope hath proved the gate of death. Now let it fold its wings and sink into the black stream, and die with all the rest. Ah! sinner, these two are but Saint pictures of the desperateness of your despair when once he is angry, he who is the sinner's friend, the sinner's wooer, he of whom we sometimes say,
"Jesus, lover of my soul."
When he is angry, where, where, oh where can sinners hide? When he is angry, when he takes a bow and fits an arrow to the string, where is your shelter then? where your defense and refuge? Sinners, "Kiss the Son," bow before him now, and receive his grace; acknowledge his sway, lest he be angry with you, and for ever shut you up in black despair, for none can give you hope or joy when once he is angry. And now mark the effects of Christ's anger. "And ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." Let me give you a picture. Ye have seen the maid light the are. At first it is the match, the spark. and there is a little kindling; a kindling but a little. What is that compared with the fire that is to succeed? Ye have heard of the prairie burning. The traveler hath lie his fire and dropped a spark the fire is kindling but a little, and a small circle of flame is forming. Ye cannot judge what will be the mighty catastrophe when the sheet of flame shall seem to cover half the continent. And yet, mark you, up your text says that "when God's wrath is kindled but a little" it is even then enough to utterly destroy the wicked, so that they " perish from the way " What a fearful thought it presents to us if we have but eyes to see it! It is like one of Martin's great pictures: it has more cloud in it than plain outline; it has in it great masses of blackness; there is only this little kindling and there is the sinner destroyed. But what is that! Black thick darkness for ever. What must become of the sinner then when the breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone shall blow up Tophet till its flames reach above all thought, and till the fire burns, beneath, even to the lowest hell? His wrath is kindled but a little then. I and, however, Calvin, together with several other excellent commentators, give another interpretation to this: "In but a little," and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled very soon, or, "in but a little time." So it may be well translated without any violence whatever to the original. God's anger kindles very speedily when once men have rejected him: when the period of their mercy is passed away, then comes the hour of their black despair, and his wrath is kindled in a little time. This should make each one of us think about our souls the fact that God may take us away with a stroke, and a great ransom cannot deliver us. We had, last Sabbath day a terrible picture of how soon God can take away a man with a stroke. On our common, you will remember, at Clapham, a man sought shelter beneath a poplar tree, and in a moment a bolt fell from heaven and rent his body in pieces, and he died. I should not have marveled if last night, when I was reading my text by the glare of the lightning, thinking is over amidst the roarings of the thunder, if many such deaths had occurred. God can soon take us away. But this is the wonder, that men will visit that tree by which their fellow died, and go away and be just as careless as they were before. You and I hear of sudden deaths, and yet we imagine we shall not die suddenly. We cannot think God's wrath will be kindled in a little time, and that he will take us away with a stroke. We get the idea that we shall die in our nests, with a slow and gradual death, and have abundance of time for preparation. Oh, I beseech you, let no such delusion destroy your soul. "Kiss the Son now, lest he be angry in a little while, and ye perish from the way." Now bow before him and receive his grace. However I return to the old reading of the text, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." How terrible i s the doom of the wicked I The little kindling of God's wrath kills them; what shall the eternal burnings be? Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall abide with everlasting burnings? There is a land of thick darkness and despair where dwelleth the undying worm, which in its ceaseless folds doth crush the spirits of the damned. There is a fire quick burning, that drieth up the very marrow of body and soul and yet destroyeth them not. There also is the pit that knoweth no bottom, the hopeless falling without a thought of ever coming to an end. There is a land where souls linger in eternal death, and yet they never die; crushed, but not annihilated; broken, but Dot destroyed; for ever, for ever, for ever, is the ceaseless wave which rolls its fresh tide of fire upon a shore of agony, whose years are as countless as the sands of the sea. And shall it be your lot and mine to dwell for ever with the howling spirits of the damned? Must these eyes weep the briny tear that cannot assuage thirst? Must these lips be parched with the infinite heat? Must this body be everlastingly tormented, and this soul, with all its powers, become a lake of grief into which torrents of Almighty wrath shall roll ceaselessly with black and fiery streams? Oh, my God, and can the thought be utter there may be some in this hell this morning, who, ere long, shall be in hell? If you should see an arrow fitted to a string pointed in yon direction, would you think it a hard prophecy if I should say, that, ere long, the arrow would fined its mark over yonder? "No," you would say, "it is but nature that it should go in the way in which it is directed." But, sinners, some of you are this day fitted on the bow of sin. Sin is the string that impels you forward. Nay, more than this. Some of you are whistling onward towards death, despair and hell. Sin is the path to hell, and you are traveling in it with lightning speed. Why need you think me harsh if I prophecy that you will get to the end ere long and reap the harvest to your soul? Oh, "kiss the Son," I beseech you; for if ye kiss him not, if ye receive not his grace and mercy, perish ye must. there is no hope for you desperate, without remedy, your end must be, if ye will not yield your pride and submit to Jesus, Oh! what language shall I use? Here were a task for Desmosthenes, if he could rise from the dead, and be converted, and preach with all his mighty eloquence, and exhort you to flee from the wrath to come. Here is a text that might exhaust the eloquence of the apostle Paul, while with tears running down his cheeks he would plead with you to flee to Christ, and lay hold upon his mercy. As for me, I cannot speak my soul out. Would that my heart could speak without my lips to tell out the agony I feel just now concerning your souls. Oh, why will ye die? "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Will you make your beds in hell? Will you wrap yourselves about with flame for ever? Will you have the merriment of sin in this life, and then reap the harvest of destruction in the world to come? Oh, men and brethren, I beseech you by the living God, by death, by eternity, by heaven, and by hell; I implore you, stop! stop! and "kiss the Son, lest he be angry and ye perish from the way." Oh I the terrors of the Lord I who shall speak them? I Last night, we saw, as it were, the back parts of the terrible God, when his skirts of light swept through the sky. He made clouds his chariot, and he did ride upon the wings of the wind Sinners, can ye stand before the God of thunder? Can ye war against the God of lightning? Will ye resist him, and despise his Son, and reject the offer of mercy, and dash yourselves upon his spear, and rush upon his sword? Oh, turn ye! turn ye now! Thus saith the Lord: "Consider your ways."
"Bow the knee, and kiss the Son; Come, and welcome, sinner, come!"
III. And now give me your attention just a moment or two longer while with all earnestness I endeavor to preach for a little while upon THE BENEDICTION WITH WHICH THE TEXT CLOSES "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." I have been beating the big drum of threatening, and now let us have the soft, sweet harp of David, of sweet, wooing benedictions. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." dost thou put thy trust in him, my hearer? Beneath the wings of God we nestle, and we know of no security elsewhere. This is enough for us. Now the test says, that those that trust in him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those that trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for it is none of it a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes hate a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God's blessing is come to them Dot in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.
"They would not change their blest estate For all the world calls good and great."
Then, further they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eye-balls; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all. their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness, the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." Time fails me to enter into this blessed benediction, and therefore I pause and come back to my old work again, of endeavoring to reach you by earnest entreaty, while I urge you to "kiss the Son." Sinner, you are bidin to trust in Christ this morning. Come, this is your only hope. Remember, you may do a hundred things, but you will be none the better. You will be like the woman mentioned in Scripture, who spent all her money on physicians, and was none the better, but, rather, grew worse. There is no hope or you but in Christ. Rest assured, that all the mercy of God is concentrated in the cross. I hear some talk about the uncovenanted mercies of God: there are no such things. The mercies of God are all emptied out into the covenant; God hath put all his grace into the person of Christ, and you shall have none elsewhere. Trust, then, in Christ, so you shall be blessed, but you shall be blessed nowhere else. Again, I urge you to "kiss the Son," and trust Christ, because this is the sure way. None have perished, trusting in Christ. It shall not be said on earth nor even in hell shall the blasphemy be uttered, that ever a soul perished that trusted in Christ. "But suppose I am not one of God's elect," says one. But if you trust in Christ you are; and there is no supposing about it. "But suppose Christ did not die for me." But, if you trust him, he did die for you. That feet is proved, and you are saved. Cast yourself simply on him. dare it, run the risk of it; venture on him, venture on him, (and there is no risk). You shall not find that you have been mistaken. Sometimes I feel anxiety and doubt about my own salvation; and the only way I can get comfort is this: I go back to where I began, and say,
"I the chief of sinners am;"
I go to my chamber, and once more confess that I am a wretch undone, without his sovereign grace, and I pray him to have mercy on me yet again Depend on it, it is the only way to heaven, and it is a sure one. If you perish trusting in Christ, you will be the first of the kind. Do you think God would allow any to say, "I trusted in Christ and yet he deceived me; I cast my soul on him, and he was not strong enough to bear to me?" Oh, do not be afraid, I beseech you. And I conclude now by noticing that this is an open salvation. Every soul in the world that feels its need of a Saviour, and that longs to be saved, may come to Christ. It God hath convinced thee of sin, and brought thee to know thy need come, come away; come, come away! come now; trust now in Christ, and thou shalt now find that blessed are all they that trust in him. The door of mercy does not stand on the jar, it is wide open. The gates of heaven are not merely hanging on the latch, but they are wide open both night and day. Come, let us go together to that blessed house of mercy, and drive our wants away. The grace of Christ is like our street drinking fountains, open to every thirsty wanderer There is the cup, the cup of faith. Come and hold it here while the water freely flows and drink. There is no one can come up and say it is not made for you; for you can say, "Oh, yes it is, I am a thirsty soul; it is meant for me." "Nay," says the devil, "you are too wicked." No, but this is a free-drinking fountain. It does not say over the top of the fountain, "No thieves to drink here." All that is wanted at the drinking fountain, is simply that you should be willing to drink, that you should be thirsty and desire. Come, then,
"Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream; All the fitness he requireth, Is to feel your need of him."
He has given you this; come and drink; drink freely. "The Spirit and the bride say come; and let him that heareth say come; and whosoever is athirst, let him come, and take the water of life freely."
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 2". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26