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'Come and Welcome' and 'God's Will and Man's Will'
Come and Welcome
October 16th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17 .
The cry of the Christian religion is the simple word, "Come." The Jewish law said, "Go, and take heed unto thy steps as to the path in which thou shalt walk. Go, and break the commandments, and thou shalt perish; Go, and keep them, and thou shalt live." The law was a dispensation of the whip, which drove men before it; the gospel is just of the opposite kind. It is the Shepherds dispensation. He goeth before his sheep, and he bids them follow him, saying unto them, "Come." The law repels; the gospel attracts. The law shows the distance between God and man; the gospel bridges that distance, and brings the sinner across that great fixed gulf which Moses could never bridge. The fact is, as you will all have to learn, if you know anything of gracious experience, that from the first moment of your spiritual life until you are ushered into glory, the cry of Christ to you will be, "Come, come unto me." He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow him as the soldier follows his leader. He will always go before you to pave your way, and to prepare your path, and he will bid you come after him all through life, and in the solemn hour of death, when you shall lie panting upon your bed, his sweet word with which he shall usher you into the heavenly world shall be "Come, come unto me. Stretch thy wings and fly straight to this world of joy where I am dwelling. Come and be with me where I am." Nay, further than this, this is not only Christ's cry to you; but if you be a believer, this is your cry to Christ "Come! come!" You will be longing for his second advent; you will be saying, "Come quickly, even so come Lord Jesus." And you will be always panting for nearer and closer communion with him. As his voice to you is "Come," even so will be your prayer to him, "Come, Lord, and abide in my house. Come, and consecrate me more fully to thy service; come, and without a rival reign; come, occupy alone the throne of my heart." "Come," then, is the very motto-word of the gospel. I hope to expand that word, this morning, to beat out the golden grain into goldleaf, and may God the Holy Spirit speak this day with his minister, and may some who have never come to Jesus before, now come to him for the first time. Let us go at once to our text "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Now, there are four things very plain from our text, namely, that first, there is a "water of life;" that secondly, the invitation is very wide "Whosoever will;" that thirdly, the path is clear, for it says, "Whoever will, let him come;" and then again, that, fourthly, the only rule that is prescribed is let him take it "freely." That is the only price demanded, and the only condition, which indeed is not a condition, but a death-blow to all conditions. "Let him come and take the water of life freely." I. First, then, remember I am about to preach a very simple sermon this morning, dealing with simple souls. I am longing to see sinners brought to Christ, my heart yearns after the multitude of men who see no beauty in him that they should desire him. God has saved many in this place; may he be pleased this morning to bring some wanderer to the Father's house, through the merit of the Son's cross by the Spirit's influence. Well, then, THERE IS A "WATER OF LIFE." Man is utterly ruined and undone. He is lost in a wild waste wilderness. The skin bottle of his righteousness is all dried up, and there is not so much as a drop of water in it. The heavens refuse him rain, and the earth can yield him no moisture. Must he perish? He looks aloft, beneath, around, and he discovers no means of escape. Must he die? Must thirst devour him? Must he fall upon the desert and leave his bones to bleach under the hot sun? No; for the text declares there is a fountain of life. Ordained in old eternity by God in solemn covenant, this fountain, this divine well, takes its spring from the deep foundations of God's decrees. It gusheth up from the depth which coucheth beneath, it cometh from that place which the eagle's eye hath not seen, and which the lion's whelp hath not passed over. The deep foundations of Godly government, the depth, of his own essential goodness and of his divine nature these are the mysterious springs from which gush forth that fountain of the "water of life" which shall do good a to man. The Son hath digged this well and bored through massive rocks which prevented this living water from springing upward. Using his cross as the grand instrument he has pierced through rocks, he has himself descended to the lowest depth, and he hath broken a passage by which the love and grace of God, the living water which can save the soul, may well up and overflow to quench the thirst of dying men. The Son hath bidden this fountain freely flow, hath removed the stone which laid upon the mouth thereof, and now having ascended upon high he standeth there to see that the fountain shall never stay its life-giving course, that its floods shall never be dry, that its depths shall never be exhausted. This sacred fountain, established according to God's good will and pleasure in the covenant, opened by Christ when he died upon the cross, floweth this day to give life and health, and joy and peace to poor sinners dead in sin, and ruined by the fall. There is a "water of life." Let us pause awhile and look at its floods as they come gushing upwards, overflowing on every side, and assuaging men's thirst. Let us look with joyous eye. It is called the "water of life," and richly doth it deserve its name. God's favor is life, and in his presence there is pleasure for evermore; but this water is God's favor, and consequently life. By this water of life is intended God's free grace, God's love for men, so, that if you come and drink, you shall find this to be life indeed to your soul, for in drinking of God's grace you inherit God's love, you are reconciled to God, God stands in a fatherly relation to you, he loves you, and his great infinite heart yearns towards you: Again, it is living water not simply because it is love, and that is life, but it saves from impending death. The sinner knows that he must die because he is filthy. He has committed sins so tremendous that God must punish him. God must cease to be just if he does not punish the sins of man. Man when conscious that he has been very guilty, stands shivering in the presence of his Maker, feeling in his soul that his doom is signed, and sealed, and that he must certainly be cast away from all hope, and life, and joy. Come hither then ye sin-doomed; this water can wash away your sins, and when your sins are washed away, then shall ye live; for the innocent must not be punished. Here is water that can make you whiter than driven snow. What though you be black as Kedar's smoky tents, here is water that can purge you, and wash you to the whiteness of perfection, and make you fair as the curtains of king Solomon. These waters well deserve the name of life, since pardon is a condition of life. Unpardoned we die, we perish, we sink into the depths of hell; pardoned we live, we rise, we ascend to the very heights of heaven. See here, then, this ever-gushing fountain will give to all who take thereof life from the dead, by the pardon of their sins. "But," saith the poor convicted soul, "This is not all I want, for if all the sins I have ever committed were blotted out, in one ten minutes I should commit many more. If I were now completely pardoned, it would not be many seconds before I should destroy my soul and sink helplessly again." Ay! but see here this is living water, it can quench thy thirst of sin; entering into thy soul it shall overcome and cover with its floods thy propensities to evil. It shall cover them first, it shall afterwards drown them, and at last, it shall utterly carry them away, sucking them into its whirlpool-depths where they shall never be found any more for ever. Oh sinners! this fountain of gospel grace can so wash your hearts that you shall no longer love sin, yea, so perfectly can this water refine the soul that it shall one day make you as spotless as the angels who stand before the throne of God, and you too, like them, shall obey the behests of God, hearkening to his commands, and rejoicing to be his servants. This is life indeed, for here is a favor, here is pardon, here is sanctity, the renewing of the soul by the washing of water, through the Word. "But," saith one, "I have a longing within me which I cannot satisfy. I feel sure that if I be pardoned yet there is something which I want which nothing I have ever heard of, or have ever seen or handled can satisfy. I have within me an aching void which the world can never fill." "There was a time," says one, "when I was satisfied with the theater, when the amusements, the pleasures of men of the world, were very satisfactory to me. But lo! I have pressed this olive till it yields no more the generous oil; it is but the dreggy thick excrement thereof that now I can obtain. My joys have faded; the beauty of my fat valley hath become as a faded flower. No longer can I rejoice in the music of this world." Ah! soul, glad am I that thy cistern has become dry, for till men are dissatisfied with this world they never look out for the next; till the God of this world has utterly deceived them they will not look to him who is the only living and true God. But hearken! thou that art wretched and miserable, here is living water that can quench thy thirst. Come hither and drink, and thou shalt be satisfied; for he that is a believer in Christ finds enough for him in Christ now, and enough for ever. The believer is not the man who has to pace his room, saying, "I find no amusements and no delight." He is not the man whose days are weary, and whose nights are long, for he finds in religion such a spring of joy, such a fountain of consolation, that he is content and happy. Put him in a dungeon and he will find good company; place him in a barren wilderness, still he could eat the bread of heaven; drive him away from friendship, he will find the "friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Blast all his gourds, and he will find shadow beneath the rock of ages; sap the foundation of his earthly hopes, but since the foundation of his God standeth sure, his heart will still be fixed, trusting in the Lord. There is each a fullness in religion, that I can honestly testify from experience,
"I would not change my best estate, For all that earth calls good or great."
I never knew what happiness was till I knew Christ; I thought I did. I warmed my hands before the fire of sin, but it was a painted fire. But oh, when once I tasted the Saviour's love, and had been washed in Jesus' blood, that was heaven begun below.
"'Tis heaven on earth, and heaven above, To see his face, to taste his love."
Oh, if ye did but know the joys of religion, if ye did but know the sweetness of love to Christ, surely ye could not stand aloof. If ye could but catch a glimpse of the believer when he is dancing for joy, you would renounce your wildest mirth, your greatest joy, to become the meanest child in the family of God. Thus then it is the living water, it is the water of life, because it satisfies our thirst, and gives us the reality of life which we can never find in anything beneath the sky. And here let me add very briefly, he who once drinks of this water of life, drinks that which will quench his thirst for ever. You shall never thirst again, except it be that you shall long for deeper draughts of this living fountain. In that sweet manner shalt thou thirst. It shalt not be a thirst of pain, it shall be a thirst of loving joy a happy thirst, you will find it a sweet thing to be thirsting after more of Christ's love. Become a Christian, and thou shalt be satisfied for life, thou shalt then be able to say, "Return unto thy rest, O my son, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with thee." Thou shalt find an ever-living tree upon which thou shalt build thy nest, and no axe shall ever fell it, no winds shall ever shake thy quiet resting-place, but thou shalt rest for ever on the dear bosom of the Saviour where thou shalt find eternal rest, eternal joy and peace. Oh, come and take of him, and drink of the water of life freely. And, moreover, he who drinketh of this living water shall never die. His body shall see corruption for a little while, but his soul mounting aloft, shall dwell with Jesus. Yea! and his very body when it has passed through the purifying process, shall again more glorious than when it was sown in weakness. It shall rise in glory, in honor, in power, in majesty, and united with the soul, it shall everlastingly inherit the joys which Christ has prepared for them that love him. This is the living water; I see the fountain flowing now, freely flowing, sparkling with all these excellent properties. Who would not long to come and drink thereof? II. In the second place we observe from the text that the invitation is very wide "WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." How wide is this invitation! There are some ministers who are afraid to invite sinners, then why are they ministers! for they are afraid to perform the most important part of the sacred office. There was a time I must confess when I somewhat faltered when about to give a free invitation. My doctrinal sentiments did at thee time somewhat hamper me. I boldly avow that I am unchanged as to the doctrines I have preached; I preach Calvinism as high, as stern, and as sound as ever; but I do feel, and always did feel an anxiety to invite sinners to Christ. And I do feel also, that not only is such a course consistent with the soundest doctrines, but that the other course is after all the unsound one, and has no title whatever to plead Scripture on its behalf. There has grown up in many Baptist churches an idea that none are to be called to Christ but what they call sensible sinners. I sometimes rebut that by remarking, that I call stupid sinners to Christ as well as sensible sinners, and that stupid sinners make by far the greatest proportion of the ungodly. But I glory in the avowal that I preach Christ even to insensible sinners that I would say even to the dry bones of the valley, as Ezekiel did, "Ye dry bones live!" doing it as an act of faith; not faith in the power of those that hear to obey the command, but faith in the power of God who gives the command to give strength also to those addressed, that they may be constrained to obey it. But now listen to my text; for here, at least, there is no limitation. But sensible or insensible, all that the text saith is, "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." The one question I have to ask this morning is, art thou willing? if so, Christ bids thee take the water of life. Art thou willing? if so, be pardoned, be sanctified be made whole. For if thou art willing Christ is willing too, and thou art freely invited to come and welcome to the fountain of life and grace. Now mark, the question has to do with the will. "Oh," says one, "I am so foolish I cannot understand the plan of salvation, therefore I may not come and drink." But my question has nothing to do with your understanding, it has to do with your will. You may be as big a fool as you will, but if you are willing to come to Christ you are freely invited. If you could not read a single letter in the alphabet, or spell out a word in the book, yet may your lips ignorant lips though they be now drink of this water of life. It has nothing to do with your understanding; it does not say "Whosoever understandeth let him come," but "whosoever will," and I do not doubt but what there are many souls who when they first come to Christ have very little understanding of the way of salvation, and very little knowledge of the way in which he saves; but they come to Christ, the Holy Ghost makes them willing to come, and so they are saved. Oh ye who have been for many a year wearing the pauper's garb, ye who come here from the workhouse, ye that are ignorant, ye that are despised among men are you willing to be saved? Can you say from your heart, "Lord, thou knowest I would have my sins forgiven?" Then come and welcome. Jesus bids thee come. Let not thine ignorance keep thee away. He appeals, not to thine understanding, but to thy will. "Oh," says one, "I can understand the plan of salvation, but I cannot repent as I would. Sir, my heart is so hard, I cannot bring the tear to my eye, I cannot feel my sins as I would desire.
"My heart how dreadful hard it is, How heavy here it lies; Heavy and cold within my breast, Just like a rock of ice."
Ay, but this text has nothing to do with your heart; it is with your will. Are you willing? Then be your heart hard as the nether millstone if thou art willing to be saved I am bidden to invite thee. "Whosoever will," not "whosoever feels," but "whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." "Yes," says one, "I can honestly say I am willing, but my heart will not soften. I wish that grace would change me. I can say I wish that Christ would soften my heart. I do desire that he would put the living fire within my cold breast and make me repent, and make me love him, and make me believe in him. I am willing." Well, then, the text is for thee, "Whosoever will, let him come." If thou art willing thou art freely invited to Christ. "No," saith one, "but I am such a great sinner. I have been a drunkard; I have been a lascivious man; I have gone far astray from the paths of rectitude. I would not have all my sins known to my fellow creatures. How can God accept of such a wretch as I am, such a foul creature as I have been?" Mark thee, man! There is no reference made here to thy past life. It simply says, "whosoever will," Art thou willing? Art thou willing to be saved? Canst thou say, "Now, Lord, I am willing to be saved, give me a new heart; I am willing to give up my sins; I am willing to be a Christian; I am willing to believe and willing to obey, but oh for this no strength have I, Lord, I have the will; give me the power." Then thou art freely invited to come, if thou art but willing. There is no barrier between thee and Christ except thy stubborn will. If thy will is subdued, and if thou art saying "Yes, Lord, I am willing," then art thou freely invited. Oh, reject not the invitation, but, come and welcome, sinner come." But saith one, "I cannot come, I cannot believe; I cannot do as I would." Well, but it does not say, "Whosoever can, let him come," but "whosoever will, let him come." Art thou willing? You know there is many a man that has more will than power, but God estimates us not by our power, but by our will. You see a man on horseback, he is in haste to fetch a doctor for some dying man: the horse is a miserable jade, and will not go as rapidly as the man would like, but you cannot scold him because you see him whipping and spurring, and thus proving that he would go if he could, and so the master takes the man's will for the deed. So is it with you, your poor heart will not go, it is a sorry, disabled jade, but it would go if it could. So Jesus invites you, not according to what you can, but according to what you will. "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." All the stipulation is Art thou willing truly willing? If so, thou art freely welcome. Thou art earnestly invited to take of the water of life, and that freely too. Surely as this goes round the hall, there will be many found who did answer to it, and who will say, from all their hearts, "I am willing: I am willing." Come let the question go personally round. Let me not talk to you in the mass, but let the arrow reach the individual. Grey head, give thy reply, and let you fair-haired boy answer also. Are you willing now to be saved are you willing to forsake sin willing to take Christ to be your master from this day forth and for ever? Are you willing to be washed in his blood? Willing to be clothed in his righteousness? Are you willing to be made happy willing to escape from hell, and willing to enter? Strange that it should be necessary to ask such questions, but still it is. Are you willing? Then remember that whatever may be against you whatever may have defiled you however black, however filthy, however worthless you may be, you are invited this day to take of the fountain of the water of life freely, for you are willing, and it is said, "Whosoever will, let him come." "Ah!" saith one, "God knows I am willing, but still I do not think I am worthy." No, I know you are not, but what is that to do with it? It is not "whosoever is worthy," but "whosoever will, let him come." "Well," says one, "I believe that whosoever will may come, but not me, for I am the vilest sinner out of hell." But mark thee, sinner, it says, "whosoever." What a big word that is! Whosoever! There is no standard height here. It is of any height and any size. Little sinners, big sinners, black sinners, fair sinners, sinners double dyed, old sinners, aggravated sinners, sinners who have committed every crime in the whole catalogue, whosoever. Doth this exempt one? Who can be excluded from this whosoever? It mattereth not who thou mayest be, nor what thou mayest have been, if thou art willing to be saved; free as the air thou breathest is the love and grace of God. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Thus have I tried to show you how broad the invitation is. III. And now I am about to show you, in the third place, how clear the path is. "WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." That word "let" is a very curious word, because it signifies two opposite things. "Let" is au old-fashioned word which sometimes signifies "hinder." "He that letteth shall be taken away," that is, "He that hindereth." But here, in our text, it means the removing of all hindrance. "Let him come:" Methinks I hear Jehovah speaking this. Here is the fountain of love and mercy. But you are too unworthy, you are too vile. Hear Jehovah! He cries, "Let him come, he is willing. Stand back! doubts and fears, away with you, let him come; make a straight road; let him come if he be but willing." Then the devil himself comes forward and striding across the way, he says to the poor trembling soul, "I will spill thy blood; thou shalt never have mercy. I defy thee; though shalt never believe in Christ, and never be saved." But Christ says, "Let him come;" and Satan, strong though he be, quails beneath Jehovah's voice, and Jesus drives him away, and the path stands clear this morning, nor can sin, nor death, nor hell, block up the way, when Jehovah Jesus says, "Let him come." Methinks I see several ministers standing in the way. They are of such high doctrine that they dare not invite a sinner, and they therefore clog the gospel with so many conditions. They will have it that the sinner must feel a certain quantity of experience before he is invited to come, and so they put their sermons up and say, "You are not invited, you are a dead sinner, you must not come; you are not invited; you are a hardened rebel." "Stand back," says Christ, "every one of you, though ye be my servants. Let him come, he is willing stand not in his way." It is a sad thing that Christ's ministers should become the devil's aiders and abettors, and yet sometimes they are, for when they are telling a sinner how much he must feel, and how much he must know before he comes to Christ, they are virtually rolling big stones in the path, and saying to the willing sinner, "Thou mayest not come." In the name of Almighty God, stand back everything this morning that keeps the willing sinner from Christ. Away with you, away with you! Christ sprinkles his blood upon the way, and crises to you, "Vanish, begone! leave the road clear; let him come; stand not in his path; make straight before him his way, level the mountains and fill up the valleys; make straight through the wilderness a highway for him to come, to drink of this water of life freely. 'Let him come.'" Oh, is not that a precious word of command! for it has all the might of Omnipotence in it. God said, "Let there be light and there was light," and he says, "Let him come" and come he will and must, that is but willing to come. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." And now, sinner, remember God says, "come." Is there anything in thy way? Remember, he adds, "Let him come." He bids everything stand out of thy way. Standing one day in the court-house, some witness was required, I forget his name, it may have been Brown, for instance, in one moment the name was announced, "Brown, Samuel Brown," by-and-bye twenty others take up the cry, "Samuel Brown, Samuel Brown." There was seen a man pushing his way through, "Make room," said he, "make room, his honor calls me," and though there were many in his path, they gave way, because his being called was a sufficient command to them, not to hinder him, but to let him come. And now, soul, if thou be a willing sinner, though thy name it not mentioned if thou be a willing sinner, thou art as truly called as though thou wert called by name, and therefore, push through thy fears. Make elbow room, and come; they that would stop thee are craven cowards. He has said "Let him come," and they cannot keep you beck; Jehovah has said, "Let him come," and it is yours now to say, "I will come. "There is nothing that shall hinder me, I will push through every thing, and
'I will to the gracious King, Whose scepter mercy gives,'
I will go to the fountain and take of the water of life freely." IV. And now this brings me to the last head, the condition which is the death of all conditions LET US TAKE IT FREELY. Methinks I see one here who is saying "I would be saved and I will do what I can to be worthy of it." The fountain is free, and he comes with his halfpenny in his hand, and that a bad one, and he says, "Here, sir, give me a cup of this living water to drink; I am well worthy of it for see the price is in my band." Why, man, if thou could'st bring the wealth of Potosi, or all the diamonds of Galconda, and all the pearls of Ormuz, you could not buy this most costly thing. Put up your money, you could not have it for gold or silver. The man brings his merit, but heaven is not to be sold to meritmongers. Or perhaps you say "I will go to church regularly, I will give to the poor, I will attend my meeting-house, I will take a sitting, I will be baptized, I will do this and the other, and then no doubt I shall have the water of life." Back, miserable herd, bring not your rags and rubbish to God, he wants them not. Stand back, you insult the Almighty when you tender anything as payment. Back with ye; he invites not such as you to come. He says come freely. He wants nothing to recommend you. He needs no recommendation. You want no good works. Do not bring any. But you have no good feelings. Nevertheless you are willing, therefore come. He wants no good feelings of you. You have no belief and no repentance, yet nevertheless you are willing.
"True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings us nigh, Without money, Come to Jesus Christ and buy."
Do not try to get them yourself come to him, and he will give them to you. Come just as you are; it is "freely," "without money and without price." The drinking fountains at the corners of our streets are valuable institutions; but I cannot imagine anyone being so foolish, as when he comes to the drinking. fountains fumbling for his purse, and saying, "I cannot drink because I have not five pounds in my pocket." Why, however poor the man is, there is the fountain, and poor as he is he may drink of it. It is put there for the public. Thirsty souls as they go by, whether they are dressed in fustian or in broad cloth, don't look for any warrant for drinking; they come and drink of it freely. Here it is; the liberality of some good friend has put it there, and they take it and ask no questions whatever. Perhaps the only persons that ever need to go thirsty through the street where there is a drinking fountain, are the fine ladies and gentlemen who are in their carriages. They are very thirsty, and cannot think of being so vulgar as to get out to drink. It would bemean them, they think, to drink at a common drinking fountain, so they go with parched lips. Oh, how many there are that are rich, rich in their own good works, that cannot come to Christ. "I will not he saved," they say, "in the same way as a harlot or a swearer. What I go to heaven the same way as a chimney sweep! Is there no pathway to glory, but the path which a Magdalene may take? I will not be saved that way." Then you fine gentry may remain without. You are not bidden to come, for you are not willing. But remember,
"None are excluded hence, But those who do themselves exclude; Welcome the learned and polite, The ignorant and rude."
"Whosoever wills let him come." Let him bring nothing to recommend him. Let him not imagine he can give any payment to God or any ransom for his soul; for the one condition that excludes all conditions is, "Let him come and take the water of life freely." There is a man of God here, who has drank of the river of the water of life many times; but he says, "I want to know more of Christ, I want to have nearer fellowship with him; I want to enter more closely into the mystery of his sacrifice; I want to understand more and more of the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be made conformable unto his death." Well, believer, drink freely. You have filled your bowl of faith once, and you drank the draught off, fill it again, drink again, and keep on drinking. Put your mouth to the fountain if you will, drink right on. As good Rutherford says in one of his letters, "I have been sinking my bucket down into the well full often, but now my thirst after Christ has become so insatiable, that I long to put the well itself to my lips, and drain it all, and drink right on." Well take it freely as much as ever you can. You have come now into the field of Boaz, you may pick up every ear that you can find, nay more than that, you may carry away the sheaves if you like, and more than that, you may claim the whole field to be yours if you will. The eating and drinking at Christ's table is like that of Ahasuerus, only in an opposite way. It is said of that table, none did compel; it is said of this, none doth withhold: none can restrain. If there be a big vessel full of this holy water, drink it all up, and if there be one that holdeth twelve firkins, drink it, yea, drink it all, and thou shalt find that even then there is as much as ever. In Christ there is enough for all, enough for each enough for evermore; and none shall ever have need to say that there was not enough in Christ for him. Drink freely. So you see that there are two meanings drink without price, and drink without stint. Then, again, we have an old proverb that there are certain guests who come to our houses who are more free than they are welcome. They make free themselves, and go further than we can bid them welcome. But with regard to those who come to the fountain of living waters, you may make as free as you will and you are welcome; make as free as you can, take this water as you will, Christ will not grudge you. He that stands by the fountain will never mourn because you drink too much; he will never be dissatisfied because such a black fellow as you has dared to wash himself in the living stream. No, but the blacker you are the more will he rejoice that you have been washed; the more thirsty you are the more will his soul be gladdened to have you drink even to the full and be satisfied. He is not enriched by withholding; rather he is enriched in joy by giving. It is as much a pleasure to Christ to save you as it will be to you to be saved. He is just as glad to see the poor, the lame, the halt, and the blind sit at his table as ever they can be to sit there. He is just as pleased to carry men to heaven as they themselves can be when they drink of the river of joy at the fountain-head of eternity, "Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." And now I do not know what to say further. My text is such a precious one that I cannot enter into the fullness of its freeness and sweetness. Remember, my dear friends, if you are willing to be saved, God requires nothing of you except that you will yield yourselves up to Christ. If you are willing to be saved none can prevent; there is no obstacle. You are not going like the daughters of Hobab to a well from which you will be driven by the coarseness and rudeness of shepherds. You are come where Jesus stands stands with open arms, stands with open mouth, crying to you this day, "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink, and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." And now will you refuse the invitation? See that you refuse not him that speaketh! Will you go this day and abuse the free mercy of God? Shall this very mercy lead you into more sin? Will you be wicked enough to say, that because grace is free, therefore you will continue in sin year after year? Oh do not so; grieve not the Spirit of God; to-day is the accepted time; to-day is the day of salvation. If ye turn not he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. You have been warned, your conscience has often pricked you, now this day you are sweetly invited. But the time of warnings and invitations will not last for ever: they will soon be over, and when your funeral knell is tolling, you shall be in that lake of fire, that land of misery and pain, where not a drop of water shall ever cool your burning tongue. As you would escape from the flames of hell, as you would be delivered from the eternal torments which God will certainly hurl upon you like hailstones, I beseech thee now consider thy ways, and if now thou art willing thou art invited and none can keep thee back from his mercy. "Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." Shall I preach in vain? Will you all go away and not take the water of life? Come, soul is there not one at least that God shall give me this day for my hire not one? May I not take one of you by the hand, some poor sinning erring brother? Come, brother let us go together and drink. O may the Holy Ghost incline you. Take it my brother. See on that bloody tree Jesus hangs; behold he pays his life a ransom for your sins and mine. Believe on him, trust him, commit your soul to him and be saved. Will you not say in your soul
"Just as I am without one plea But that thy blood was shed for me And that thou bid'st me come to thee, O lamb of God I come, I come?"
And as my Master is true and faithful, he cannot cast away one soul that cometh, for "him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." O Spirit, now draw reluctant hearts, and now give timid souls courage to believe for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Spurgeon Collection" by:
Tony Capoccia Bible Bulletin Board Box 314 Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022 Websites: and Email: Online since 1986
God's Will and Man's Will
March 30th, 1862
C. H. SPURGEON 1834-1892
“It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.”-- Romans 9:16 “Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”-- Revelation 22:17
The great controversy which for many ages has divided the Christian Church has hinged on the difficult question of “the will.” Without a doubt that conflict has done much harm to the Christian Church, but I will also say, that it has been loaded with immeasurable usefulness; for it has thrust forward before the minds of Christians, precious truths, which without it, might have been kept in the shade. I believe that the two great doctrines of human responsibility and divine sovereignty have both been brought out more prominently in the Christian Church by the fact that there is a class of strong-minded, hard-headed men who magnify sovereignty at the expense of responsibility; and another earnest and useful class who uphold and maintain human responsibility oftentimes at the expense of divine sovereignty. I believe there is a need for this in the finite character of the human mind, for the natural lethargy of the Church requires a kind of healthy irritation to arouse her powers and to stimulate her actions. The pebbles in the living stream of truth are worn smooth and round by friction. Who among us would wish to suspend a law of nature whose effects on the whole are good? I glory in that which at the present day is so much spoken against-sectarianism, for “sectarianism” is the jargon phrase which our enemies use for all firm religious belief. I find it applied to all sorts of Christians; no matter what views he may hold, if a man is earnest, he is quickly labeled a sectarian. Success to sectarianism, let it live and flourish, for the day it ceases then we can say farewell to the power of godliness.
When each of us cease to maintain our own views of truth, and to maintain those views firmly and strenuously, then truth will fly away, and only error will reign: this, indeed, is the objective of our foes: under the cover of attacking sects, they attack true religion, and would drive it, if they could, off the face of the earth. In the controversy which has raged-a controversy which, I again say, I believe to have been really healthy, and which has done us all a vast amount of good-in this controversy mistakes have arisen from two reasons. Some brethren have completely forgotten one category of truths, and then, in the next place, they have gone too far with others. We all have one blind eye, and too often we are like Admiral Nelson in the battle, we put the telescope to that blind eye, and then complain that we cannot see. I have heard of one man who said he had read the Bible through thirty-four times on his knees, but could not see a word about election in it; I think it very likely that he couldn’t; kneeling is a very uncomfortable posture for reading, and possibly the superstition which would make the poor man perform this penance would disqualify him for using his reason: moreover, to go through the Bible thirty-four times, he probably read in such a hurry that he did not know what he was reading, and might as well have been dreaming over “Robinson Crusoe” as the Bible. He put the telescope to the blind eye. Many of us do that; we do not want to see a truth, and therefore we say we cannot see it.
On the other hand, there are others who push a truth too far. “This is good; oh! this is precious!” they say, and then they think it is good for everything; that in fact it is the only truth in the world. You know how often things are injured by too much praise; how a good medicine, which really was a great treatment for a certain disease, comes to be utterly despised by the physician, because a certain quack has praised it as being a universal cure; so exaggerated praise in a specific doctrine leads to dishonor. Truth has thus suffered on all sides; on the one hand brethren refuse to see the truth, and on the other hand they magnified what they do see way out of proportion. Have you seen those mirrors, which when you walk up to them, you see your head ten times as large as your body, or you walk away and put yourself in another position, and then your feet are monstrous and the rest of your body is small; this is an ingenious toy, but I am sorry to say that many approach God's truth using the model of this toy; they magnify one basic truth until it becomes monstrous; they minimize and speak little of another truth till it becomes completely forgotten. In what I say this morning you will probably detect the failing to which I allude, the common fault of humanity, and suspect that I also am magnifying one truth at the expense of another; but I will say this, before I proceed further, that it will not be the case if I can help it, for I will honestly endeavor to bring out the truth as I have learned it, and if you believe that I am teaching you what is contrary to the Word of God, reject it; but be aware, if it is according to God's Word, then reject it at your peril; for once I have delivered it to you, if you do not receive it, then the responsibility lies with you.
This morning, there are two things that I will have to talk about. The first is, that the work of salvation rests on the will of God, and not on the will of man; and secondly, the equally sure doctrine, that the will of man has its proper position in the work of salvation, and is not to be ignored.
I. First, then, SALVATION HINGES ON THE WILL OF GOD AND NOT ON THE WILL OF MAN.
Our text says, “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy;” which clearly means that the reason why any man is saved is not because he wills it, but because God willed it, in accordance to that other passage, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” The whole plan of salvation, from the first to the last, hinges and turns, and is dependent on the absolute will of God, and not on the will of the creature.
This, we think, we can show in two or three ways;
1. first, we think that an analogy furnishes us with a rather strong argument.
There is a certain likeness between all God's works; if a painter paints three pictures, there is a certain identity of style about all the three which leads you to know that they are from the same hand. Or, if an author writes three works on three different subjects, yet there are qualities running through the whole, which leads you to assert, “That is the same man's writing, I am certain, in all of the three books.”
Now what we find in the works of nature, we generally find to be correct with regard to the work of providence; and what is true of nature and of providence, is usually true with regard to the greater work of grace. Turn your thoughts, then, to the works of creation. There was a time when these works had no existence; the sun was not born; the young moon was not in orbit; the stars did not exist; not even the apparent endless void of space existed. God lived alone without a creature. I ask you, with whom did he take counsel? Who instructed him? Who had a voice in the counsel by which the wisdom of God was directed? Didn’t it rest with his own will whether he would create or not? Wasn’t creation itself, when it laid as an embryo in his thoughts, in his keeping, totally subjected to what he was pleased to do or not do? And when he willed to create, didn’t he still exercise his own discretion and will as to what and how he would create? If he has made the stars to be spheres, what reason was there for this but that it was his own will? If he has chosen that they would move in a circle rather than in any other orbit, is it not God's own arbitrary will that has made them do so? And when this round world, this green earth on which we live, leaped from his shaping hand into its sunlit track, wasn’t this also according to the divine will? Who ordained, except the Lord, the exact location where the Himalayas would lift up their heads and pierce the clouds, and where the deep cavernous recesses of the sea should pierce the earth's heart of rock? Who, except God himself, ordained that the Sahara Desert would be brown and sterile, and that the tropical island should laugh in the midst of the sea with joy over her greenness? Who, I say, ordained this, except God? You see running all through creation, from the tiniest molecule up to the tallest archangel who stands before the throne, this working out of God's own will. Milton was so right when he represents the Eternal One as saying,
My goodness is most free To act or not: Necessity and Chance Do not approach me, and what I will is fate.
He created as it pleased him; he made them as he chose; the potter exercised power over his clay to make his vessels as he willed, and to make them for whatever purposes he pleased. Do you think that he has abdicated the throne of grace? Does he reign in creation and not in grace? Is he absolute king over nature and not over the greater works of the new nature? Is he Lord over the things which his hand first made, and not King over the great regeneration, where he makes everything new?
But take the works of Providence. I suppose there will be no dispute among us that in providential matters God orders all things according to the wisdom of his own will. If we should, however, be troubled with doubts about the matter, we might hear the striking words of Nebuchadnezzar when, taught by God, he had repented of his pride- “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”
From the first moment of human history even to the end, God's will shall be done. What though it be a catastrophe or a crime-there may be the second causes and the action of human evil, but the great first cause is in everything. If we could imagine that one human action had eluded the predestination of God, we could suppose that everything might have done so, and all things might drift to sea, anchorless, rudderless, controlled by every wave, the victim of a gale and a hurricane. One leak in the ship of Providence would sink her, one hour in which Omnipotence relaxed its grasp and she would break into pieces. But it is the comfortable conviction of all God's people that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him;” and that God rules and overrules, and reigns in all acts of men and in all events that transpire; still producing good from evil, and better still, and better still in infinite progression, still ordering all things according the wisdom of his will. And do you think that he reigns in Providence and is King there, and not in grace? Has he given up the blood-bought land to be ruled by man, while common Providence is left as a lonely providence to be his only heritage? He has not let loose of the reins of the great chariot of Providence, and do you think that when Christ goes forth in the chariot of his grace it is with unguided horses, or driven only by chance, or by the fickle will of man? Oh, no brethren. As surely as God's will is the axle of the universe, as certainly as God's will is the great heart of providence sending its pulses through even the most distant limbs of human actions, so in grace let us rest assured that he is King, willing to do as he pleases, having mercy on whom he will have mercy, calling whom he chooses to call, opening the heart and soul of whom he wills, and fulfilling, despite man's hardness of heart, despite man's willful rejection of Christ, his own purposes, his own decrees, without one of them falling to the ground. We think, then, that analogy helps to strengthen us in the declaration of the text, that salvation is not left to man's will.
2. But, secondly, we believe that the difficulties which surround the opposite theory are tremendous.
In fact, we cannot bear to look them in the face. If there are difficulties about ours, there are ten times more about the opposite. We think that the difficulties which surround our belief that salvation depends on the will of God, arise from our ignorance in not understanding enough of God to be able to judge them properly; but that the difficulties in the other case do not arise from that cause, but from certain great truths, clearly revealed, which stand in clear opposition to the fantasy which our opponents have espoused. According to their theory-that salvation depends on our own will-you have first of all this difficulty to meet, that you have made the purpose of God in the great plan of salvation entirely contingent. You have the put an “if” on everything. Christ may die, but it is not certain according to their theory that he will redeem a great multitude; no, not certain that he will redeem any, since the effectiveness of the redemption according to their plan, does not rests in its own intrinsic power, but in the will of man accepting that redemption. Therefore if man is, as we know he always is, if he is a slave to the will of his own wicked heart, and will not yield to the invitation of God's grace, then in such a case the atonement of Christ would be valueless, useless, and altogether in vain, for not a soul would be saved by it; and even when souls are saved by it, according to that theory, the value, I say, lies not in the blood itself, but in the will of man which gives it value. Redemption is therefore made contingent; the cross shakes, the blood falls powerless on the ground, and atonement is a matter of perhaps. There is a heaven provided, but it may be that no souls will ever come there if their coming is to be of themselves.
There is a fountain filled with blood, but no one will ever wash in it unless divine purpose and power compels them to come. You may look at any one promise of grace, but you cannot say over it, “This is the sure mercy of David;” for there is an “if,” and a “but;” a “perhaps,” and a “chance.” In fact, the reigns are taken out of God's hands; the linchpin is taken away from the wheels of the creation; you have left the whole economy of grace and mercy to be nothing but the gathering together of chance atoms impelled by man's own will, and nobody can know what will become of it in the end. We cannot tell on that theory whether
God will be gloried or sin will triumph. Oh! how happy are we when come back to the old fashioned doctrines, and cast our anchor where it can get its grip in the eternal purpose and counsel of God, who works all things to the good pleasure of his will.
Then another difficulty comes in; not only is everything made contingent, but it does seem to us as if man were thus made to be the supreme being in the universe. According to the freewill theory the Lord intends to do good, but he must subject his will to his own creature to know what his intention is; God wills good and would do it, but he cannot, because he has an unwilling man who will not have God's good thing put into effect. What do you do, you who believe in the freewill of man, but drag the Eternal from his throne, and lift up into it that fallen creature, man: for man, according to your theory nods, and his nod is destiny. You must have a destiny somewhere; it must either be as God wills or as man wills. If it is as God wills, then Jehovah sits as sovereign on his throne of glory, and all of creation obeys him, and the world is safe; if not God, then you put man there, to say. “I will” or “I will not; if I will it I will enter heaven; if I will it I will despise the grace of God; if I will it I will conquer the Holy Sprit, for I am stronger than God, and stronger than omnipotence; if I will it I will make the blood of Christ of no effect, for I am mightier than that blood, mightier than the blood of the Son of God himself; though God has his purpose, yet I will laugh at his purpose; it will be my purpose that will make his purpose stand, or make it fall.” Why, you who believe in the absolute freewill of man, if this is not Atheism, it is idolatry; it is putting man where God should be, and I shrink with solemn awe and horror from that doctrine which makes the grandest of God's works-the salvation man-to be dependent on the will of his creature whether it will be accomplished or not. I can and must glory in my text in its fullest sense. “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.”
3. We think that the known condition of man is a very strong argument against the supposition that salvation depends on his own will; and therefore is a great confirmation of the truth that it depends on the will of God; that it is God that chooses, and not man-God who takes the first step, and not the creature.
You who believe in the freewill of man, believing the theory that man comes to Christ of his own free will, what do you do with texts of Scripture which say that man is dead? Ephesians 2:1 , “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins;” you will say that is only a figure of speech. I grant that, but what is the meaning of it? You say the meaning is, he is spiritually dead. Well, then I ask you, how can he perform the spiritual act of willing that which is right? He is alive enough to will that which is evil, only evil and that continually, but he is not alive to will that which is spiritually good. Don’t you know, to turn to another Scripture, that he cannot even discern that which is spiritual? “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” [1 Corinthians 2:14 ]. Why, he does not have a “spirit” with which to discern them; he only has a soul and a body, but the third principle, implanted in regeneration, which is called in the Word of God, “the spirit,” he knows nothing of and he is therefore incapable, seeing that he is dead and is without the vitalizing spirit, incapable of doing what you say he does.
Then again, what do you make of the words of our Savior where he said to those who had heard him preach, “You refuse to come to me to have life.” Where is freewill after such a text as that? When Christ affirms that they will not, who dare say they will? “Ah, but,” you say, “they could if they would.” Dear sir, I am not talking about that; I am talking about if they would, the question is “will they?” and we say “no,” they never will by nature. Man is so depraved, so set on mischief, and the way of salvation is so obnoxious to his pride, so hateful to his lusts, that he cannot like it, and will not like it, unless he who ordained the plan will change his nature, and subdue his will. Note this-this stubborn will of man is his sin; he is not to be excused for it; he is guilty because he will not come; he is condemned because he will not come; because he will not believe in Christ, therefore condemnation is resting on him, but still the fact does not change, because of all that, that he will not come by nature if left to himself. Well, then, if man will not, how will he be saved unless God will make him willing?-unless, in some mysterious way, he who created man’s heart will touch its mainspring so that it will move in a direction opposite to that which it naturally follows.
4. But there is another argument which will come closer home to us. It is consistent with the universal experience of all God's people that salvation is of God's will.
You will say, “Pastor, you are still young, you have not had a very long life.” True, I have not, but I have had a very extensive acquaintance with all sections of the Christian Church, and I solemnly protest before you, that I have never yet met with a man professing to be a Christian, let alone his really being so, who ever said that his coming to God was the result of his unassisted nature. Universally, I believe, without exception, the people of God will say it was the Holy Spirit that made them what they are; that they would have refused to come as others do unless God's grace had sweetly influenced their wills. There are some hymns in Mr. Wesley's hymnbook which are stronger on this point than I could ever venture to be, for he puts prayer into the lips of the sinner in which God is even asked to force him to be saved by grace. Of course I can take no objection to a term so strong, but it goes to prove this, that among all sections of Christians, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whatever their doctrinal sentiments may be, their experimental sentiments are the same. I do not think any of them would refuse to join in the verse-
Oh! yes, I do love Jesus, Because he first loved me.
Nor would they find fault with our own hymn,
'Twas the same love that spread the feast, That sweetly forced us in; Else we had still refused to taste, And perished in our sin.'
We bring out the crown and say, “On whose head will we put it? Who ruled at the moment of salvation? Who decided that the sinner would be saved?” and the universal Church of the Living God, throwing away their creeds, would say. “Crown him; crown him, put it on his head, for he is worthy; he has made us to believe; he has done it, and to him be the praise forever and ever.” What staggers my minds is, that men can believe doctrines contrary to their own experience-that they can bring near to their hearts something they consider precious despite the fact that their own inward convictions reveal it to be a lie.
5. But, lastly, in the way of argument, and to bring our greatest weapon at the end. It is not, after all, arguments from analogy, nor reasons from the difficulties of the opposite position, nor inferences from the known feebleness of human nature, nor even deductions from experience, that will settle this question once for all. “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” Do me the pleasure, then, to use your Bibles for a moment or two, and let us see what Scripture says on this main point.
First, with regard to the matter of God's preparation, and his plan with regard to salvation. We turn to the apostle's words in the epistle to the Ephesians, and we find in the first chapter and the third verse, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” You will notice-it is according to his pleasure and his will. No expression could be stronger in the original to show the entire absoluteness of this thing as depending on the will God. It seems, then, that in the choice of his people their adoption is according to his will. So far we are satisfied, indeed, with the testimony of the apostle.
Then in the ninth verse, “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” So, then, it seems that the grand result of the gathering together of all the saved in Christ, as well as the primitive purpose, is according to the counsel of his will. What stronger proof can there be that salvation depends on the will of God?
Moreover, it says in the eleventh verse-“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”-his free unbiased will, his will alone. As for redemption as well as for the eternal purpose-redemption is according to the will of God. You remember that verse in Hebrews, tenth chapter, ninth verse, where Jesus said to the Father: “‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So that the redemption offered up on Calvary, like the election made before the foundation of the world, is the result of the divine will. There will be little controversy here: the main point is about our new birth, and here we cannot allow of any diversity of opinion. Turn to the Gospel according to John, the first chapter and thirteenth verse. It is utterly impossible that human language could have put a stronger negative on the conceited claims of the human will than this passage does: “Born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, but born of God. A passage equally clear is to be found in the Epistle of James, in the first chapter, and the eighteenth verse: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
In these passages-and they are not the only ones-the new birth puts an end to all debate and in the strongest language is put down as being the fruit and effect of the will and purpose of God. As to the sanctification which is the result and outgrowth of the new birth, that also is according to God's holy will. In First Thessalonians, chapter four, and verse three, we read, “It is God's will that you should be sanctified.” And one more passage I must refer you to, the sixth chapter, and verse thirty-nine. Here we find that the preservation, the perseverance, the resurrection, and the eternal glory of God's people, rests on his will. “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” And to be sure, this is why the saints go to heaven, because in the seventeenth chapter of John, Christ is recorded as praying, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.” We close, then, by noticing that according to Scripture, every single blessing in the new covenant which is conferred on us, is according to the will of God, and that like the picture hangs on the nail, so every blessing, we receive hangs on the absolute will and counsel of God, who gives these mercies even as he gives the gifts of the Spirit according to his will. We will now leave that point, and take the second great truth, and speak a little while on it.
II. MAN'S WILL HAS ITS PROPER PLACE IN THE MATTER OF SALVATION.
“Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” According to this and many other texts the Scripture where man is addressed as a being having a will, it appears clear enough that men are not saved by compulsion. When a man receives the grace of Christ, he does not receive it against his will. No man will be pardoned while he abhors the forgiveness. No man will have joy in the Lord if he says, “I do not wish to rejoice in the Lord.” Do not think that anybody will have the angels pushing them behind into the gates of heaven. They must go there freely or else they will never go there at all. We are not saved against our will; nor again, mark you, is the will taken away; for God does not come and convert the intelligent free-agent into a machine. When he turns the slave into a child, it is not by plucking out of him the will which he possesses. We are as free under grace as ever we were under sin; no, we were slaves when we were under sin, and when the Son makes us free we are free indeed, and we are never free before. Erskine, in speaking of his own conversion, says he ran to Christ “with full consent against his will,” by which he meant it was against his old will; against his will as it was till Christ came, but when Christ came, then he came to Christ with full consent, and was as willing to be saved-no, that is a cold word-as delighted, as pleased, as transported to receive Christ as if grace had not constrained him. But we do hold and teach that though the will of man is not ignored, and men are not saved against their wills, that the work of the Spirit, which is the effect of the will of God, is to change the human will, and so make men willing in the day of God's power, working in them to will to do his own good pleasure. The work of the Spirit is consistent with the original laws and constitution of human nature. Ignorant men talk grossly and carnally about the work of the Spirit in the heart as if the heart were a lump of flesh, and the Holy Spirit turned it round mechanically. Now, brethren, how is your heart and my heart changed in any matter? Why, the instrument generally used is persuasion. A friend sets before us a truth we did not know before; pleads with us; puts it in a new light, and then we say, “Now I see that,” and then our hearts are changed towards the thing. Now, although no man's heart is changed by moral persuasion in itself, yet the way in which the Spirit works in his heart, as far as we can detect it, is instrumentally by a blessed persuasion of the mind. I do not say that men are saved by moral persuasion, or that this is the first cause, but I think it is frequently the visible means. As to the secret work, who knows how the Spirit works? “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit;” but yet, as far as we can see, the Spirit makes a revelation of truth to the soul, whereby it sees things in a different light from what it ever did before, and then the will cheerfully bows that neck which once was stiff as iron, and wears the yoke which it once despised, and wears it gladly, cheerfully, and joyfully. Yet, note that the will is not gone; the will is treated as it should be treated; man is not acted on as a machine, he is not polished like a piece of marble; he is not planed and smoothed like a plank of wood; but his mind is acted on by the Spirit of God, in a manner quite consistent with mental laws. Man is thus made a new creature in Christ Jesus, by the will of God, and his own will is blessedly and sweetly made to yield.
Then, mark you-and this is a point which I want to put into the thoughts of any who are troubled about these things-this gives the renewed soul a most blessed sign of grace, insomuch that if any man wills to be saved by Christ, if he wills to have sin forgiven through the precious blood, if he wills to live by a holy life resting on the atonement of Christ, and in the power of the Spirit, that will is one of the most blessed signs of the mysterious working of the Spirit of God in his heart; if it is real willingness, I will venture to assert that that man is not far from the kingdom. I do not say that he is saved, nor that he himself may conclude he is, but there is a work begun, which has the germ of salvation in it. If you are willing, depend on it that God is willing. Soul, if you are concerned about Christ, he is more concerned about you. If you have only one spark of true desire for him, that spark is a spark from the fire of his love to you. He has drawn you, or else you would never run after him. If you are saying, “Come to me, Jesus,” it is because he has come to you, though you do not know it. He has sought you like a lost sheep, and therefore you have sought him like a returning prodigal. He has swept the house to find you, as the woman swept for the lost piece of money, and now you seek him as a lost child would seek a father's face. Let your willingness to come to Christ be a hopeful sign and indicator.
But once more, let me have the ear of the true seeker. It appears that when you have a willingness to come to Christ, there is a special promise for you. You know, my dear listeners, that we are not accustomed in this church to preach one side of truth, but we try if we can to preach it all. There are some brethren with small heads, who, when they have heard a strong doctrinal sermon, grow into hyper-Calvinists, and then when we preach an inviting sermon to poor sinners, they cannot understand it, and say it is a yes and no gospel. Believe me, it is not yes and no, but yes and yes. We give your yes to all truth, and our no we give to no doctrine of God. Can a sinner be saved when he wills to come to Christ? Yes. And if he does come, does he come because God brings him? Yes. We have no “nos” in our theology for any revealed truth. We do not shut the door on one word and open it to another. Those are the yes and no people who have a no for the poor sinner, when they profess to preach the gospel. As soon as a man has any willingness given to him, he has a special promise. Before he had the willingness he had an invitation. Before he had any willingness, it was his duty to believe in Christ, for it is not man's condition that gives him a right to believe. Men are to believe in obedience to God's command. God commands all men everywhere to repent, and this is his great command, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” “This is the commandment, that you believe in Jesus Christ whom he has sent.” Therefore, it is your right and your duty to believe; and once you have got the willingness, then you have a special promise-“Whosoever wishes, let him come.” That is a sort of extraordinary invitation. I think this is the utterance of the special call. You know how John Bunyan describes the special call in words to this effect. “The hen goes clucking about the farmyard all day long; that is the general call of the gospel; but she sees a hawk up in the sky, and she gives a sharp cry for her little ones to come and hide under her wings; that is the special call; they come and are safe.” My text is a special call to some of you. Poor soul! are you willing to be saved? “O, sir, willing, willing indeed; I cannot use that word; I would give all I have if I might but be saved.” Do you mean you would give it all in order to purchase it? “Oh no, sir, I do not mean that; I know I cannot purchase it; I know it is God's gift, but still, if I could be but saved, I would ask nothing else.
Lord, deny me what you wilt, Only ease me of my guilt; Pleading at Your feet I lie, Give me Christ, or else I die.
Why, then the Lord speaks to you this morning, to you if not to any other man in the church, he speaks to you and says-”Whosoever wishes, let him come.” You cannot say this does not mean you. When we give the general invitation, you may exempt yourself perhaps in some way or other, but you cannot now. You are willing, then come and take the water of life freely. “Shouldn’t I pray first?” It does not say so; it says, take the water of life. “But hadn’t I better go home and get better first?” No, take the water of life, and take the water of life now. You are standing by the fountain, and the water is flowing and you are willing to drink; you are picked out of a crowd who are standing about, and you are especially invited by the person who built the fountain. He says, “Here is a special invitation for you; you are willing; come and drink.” “Sir,” you say, “I must go home and wash my pitcher.” “No,” says he, “come and drink.” “But, sir, I want to go home and write a petition to you.” “I do not want it,” he says, “drink now, drink now.” What would you do? If you were dying of thirst, you would just put your lips down and drink. Soul, do that now. Believe that Jesus Christ is able to save you now. Trust your soul into his hands now. No preparation is needed. Whosoever will let him come; let him come at once and take the water of life freely. To take that water is simply to trust Christ; to rest in him; to take him to be your all in all. Oh that you would do it now! You are willing; God has made you willing.
When the crusaders heard the voice of Peter the hermit, as he begged them to go to Jerusalem to take it from the hands of the invaders, they cried out at once, “Deus vult; God wills it; God wills it;” and every man took his sword from its scabbard, and set out to reach the holy city, for God willed it. So come and drink, sinner; God wills it. Trust Jesus; God wills it. If you will it, that is the sign that God wills it. “Father, your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven.” As sinners, humbly stoop to drink from the flowing crystal clear water which streams from the sacred fountain which Jesus opened for his people; let it be said in heaven, “God's will is done; hallelujah, hallelujah!” “It does not depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy;” yet “Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Amen. Updated and added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Spurgeon Collection" by:
Tony Capoccia Bible Bulletin Board Box 119 Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022 Our websites: and Email: Online since 1986
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Revelation 22". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17