Life for a look
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:22
suggested further reading: Acts 26:1–29
Six years ago, today, as nearly as possible at this very hour of the day, I was “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity,” but had yet, by divine grace, been led to feel the bitterness of that bondage, and to cry out by reason of the soreness of its slavery. Seeking rest, and finding none, I stepped within the house of God, and sat there, afraid to look upward, lest I should be utterly cut off, and lest his fierce wrath should consume me. The minister rose in his pulpit, and, as I have done this morning, read this text—“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” I looked that moment; the grace of faith was vouchsafed to me in the self-same instant; and now I think I can say with truth:
“E’er since by faith I saw the stream His flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”
I shall never forget that day, while memory holds its place; nor can I help repeating this text, whenever I remember that hour when first I knew the Lord. How strangely gracious! How wonderfully and marvellously kind, that he who heard these words so little time ago for his own soul’s profit, should now address you from the same text, in the full and confident hope that some poor sinner may hear the glad tidings of salvation for himself also, and may today, on this 6th of January, be “turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”
for meditation: Even if you cannot pinpoint an exact time or place, can you recall your conversion when the Lord Jesus Christ became real to you and you trusted him to be your Saviour? If you can, are the memories of that great event still as precious as they should be? If you have no such memories, Spurgeon, though dead, speaks to you today. Read again his testimony, obey his text and look to his Saviour so that you too may be saved.
sermon no. 60
The death of Christ
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10
suggested further reading: Acts 4:23–31
He who reads the Bible with the eye of faith, desiring to discover its hidden secrets, sees something more in the Saviour’s death than Roman cruelty or Jewish malice: he sees the solemn decree of God fulfilled by men, who were the ignorant, but guilty instruments of its accomplishment. He looks beyond the Roman spear and nail, beyond the Jewish taunt and jeer, up to the sacred fount, whence all things flow, and traces the crucifixion of Christ to the breast of deity. He believes with Peter—“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” We dare not impute to God the sin, but at the same time the fact, with all its marvellous effects in the world’s redemption, we must ever trace to the sacred fountain of divine love. So does our prophet. He says, “It pleased Jehovah to bruise him.” He overlooks both Pilate and Herod, and traces it to the heavenly Father, the first person in the divine trinity. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Now, beloved, there be many who think that God the Father is at best but an indifferent spectator of salvation. Others belie him still more. They look upon him as an unloving, severe being, who had no love to the human race, and could only be made loving by the death and agonies of our Saviour. Now, this is a foul libel upon the fair and glorious grace of God the Father, to whom for ever be honour: for Jesus Christ did not die to make God loving, but he died because God was loving.
“‘Twas not to make Jehovah’s love
Towards his people flame,
That Jesus from the throne above,
A suff’ring man became.
‘Twas not the death which he endured,
Nor all the pangs he bore,
That God’s eternal love procured,
For God was love before.”
for meditation: Who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16)?
sermon no. 173
Election and holiness
“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” Deuteronomy 10:14–16
suggested further reading: Isaiah 45:1–13
Preaching a few months ago in the midst of a large congregation of Methodists, the brethren were all alive, giving all kinds of answers to my sermon, nodding their heads and crying,“Amen!” “Hallelujah!” “Glory be to God!” and the like. They completely woke me up. My spirit was stirred, and I preached away with an unusual force and vigour; and the more I preached the more they cried, “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” “Glory be to God!” At last, a part of text led me to what is styled high doctrine. So I said, this brings me to the doctrine of election. There was a deep drawing of breath. “Now, my friends, you believe it;” they seemed to say “No, we don’t.” But you do, and I will make you sing “Hallelujah!” over it. I will so preach it to you that you will acknowledge it and believe it. So I put it thus: Is there no difference between you and other men? “Yes, yes; glory be to God, glory!” There is a difference between what you were and what you are now? “Oh, yes! oh, yes!” There is sitting by your side a man who has been to the same chapel as you have, heard the same gospel, he is unconverted, and you are converted. Who has made the difference, yourself or God? “The Lord!” said they, “the Lord! Glory! Hallelujah!” Yes, cried I, and that is the doctrine of election; that is all I contend for, that if there is a difference the Lord makes the difference. Some good man came up to me and said, “Thou’rt right, lad! thou’rt right. I believe thy doctrine of election; I do not believe it as it is preached by some people, but I believe that we must give the glory to God; we must put the crown on the right head.”
for meditation: The doctrines of God give God all the glory. The doctrines of man seek to steal some of God’s glory to give to man instead (Isaiah 42:6–8).
sermon no. 303
Importance of small things in religion
“The Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.” 1 Chronicles 15:13
suggested further reading: 1 Samuel 13:8–14
When we come before God, it will be no excuse for us to say, “My Lord, I did wrong, but I thought I was doing right.” “Yes, but I gave you my law, but you did not read it; or, if you read it, you read it so carelessly that you did not understand it, and then you did wrong, and you tell me you did it with a right motive. Yes, but it is of no avail whatever.” Just as in Uzzah’s case, did it not seem the rightest thing in the world to put out his hand to prevent the ark from slipping off? Who could blame the man? But God had commanded that no unpriestly hand should ever touch it, and inasmuch as he did touch it, though it was with a right motive, yet Uzzah must die. God will have his laws kept. Besides, my dear brethren, I am not sure about the rightness of your motives after all. The State has issued a proclamation, it is engraven, according to the old Roman fashion, in brass. A man goes up with his file, and he begins working away upon the brass; erases here, and amends there. Says he, “I did that with a right motive; I didn’t think the law a good one, I thought it was too old-fashioned for these times, and so I thought I would alter it a little, and make it better for the people.” Ah, how many have there been who have said, “The old puritanic principles are too rough for these times; we’ll alter them, we’ll tone them down a little.” What are you at, sir? Who are you that dares to touch a single letter of God’s Book?
for meditation: Sincerity needs to be allied to truth (Joshua 24:14). It is possible to be sincerely wrong (John 16:2; Acts 26:9; Romans 10:2).
sermon no. 307
Peace at home, and prosperity abroad
“He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat. He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.” Psalm 147:14–15
suggested further reading: 1 Thessalonians 1
Suppose the pulpit in our land gives an uncertain sound. As a result God’s people begin to forsake the assembling of themselves together; no crowds gather to hear the Word; places begin to get empty; prayer-meetings become more and more deserted; the efforts of the Church may be still carried on, but they are merely a matter of routine; there is no life, no heart in it. I am supposing a case you see, a case which I trust we never may see. Things get worse and worse; the doctrines of the gospel become expunged and unknown; they that fear the Lord no more speak one to another. Still for a little time the money continues to be brought into the Society, and foreign missions are sustained. Can you not imagine in the next report, “We have had no converts this year; our income is still maintained; but notwithstanding that, our brethren feel that they are labouring under the greatest possible disadvantages; in fact, some of them wish to return home and renounce the work.” Another year—the missionary spirit has grown cold in the churches, its funds decrease. Another year, and yet another; it becomes a moot point among us as to whether missions are absolutely necessary or not. We have come at last to the more advanced point which some divines have already reached, and begin to question whether Mohammed and Confucius had not a revelation from God as well as Jesus Christ. And now we begin to say, “Is it needful that we should extend the gospel abroad at all? We have lost faith in it; we see it does nothing at home, shall we send that across the sea which is a drug on the market here, and distribute as a healing for the wounds of the daughters of Zidon and of Tyre that which has not healed the daughter of Jerusalem?”
for meditation: A healthy church is the light of the world; an unhealthy church will be as much use to the world as the seven churches of Revelation are today (Matthew 5:13–16).
sermon no. 314
The Christian—a debtor
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors.” Romans 8:12
suggested further reading: Luke 7:36–50
Christian, stop and ponder for a moment! What a debtor thou art to divine sovereignty! Thou art not as some, who say, that thou didst choose thyself to be saved; but thou believest that God could have destroyed thee, if he had pleased, and that it is entirely of his own good pleasure that thou art made one of his, while others are suffered to perish. Consider, then, how much thou owest to his sovereignty! If he had willed it, thou wouldst have been among the damned; if he had not willed thy salvation, all thou couldst do would have been utterly powerless to deliver thee from perdition. Remember how much thou owest to his disinterested love, which rent his own Son from his bosom that he might die for thee! Let the cross and bloody sweat remind thee of thine obligation. Consider how much thou owest to his forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts he loves thee as infinitely as ever; and after a myriad sins, his Spirit still resides within thee. Consider what thou owest to his power; how he has raised thee from thy death in sin; how he has preserved thy spiritual life, how he has kept thee from falling, and how, though a thousand enemies have beset thy path, thou hast been able to hold on thy way! Consider what thou owest to his immutability. Though thou hast changed a thousand times, he has not changed once; though thou hast shifted thy intentions, and thy will, yet has he not once swerved from his eternal purpose, but still has held thee fast. Consider thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast. “Brethren, we are debtors.”
for meditation: The reasonable response to forgiven debt is love to God and to one another, but we will always be in debt (Romans 13:8).
sermon no. 96