Charles Spurgeon describes how the stony heart of flesh must be renewed from the inside out.
A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, August 31, 1873, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *12/9/2011
I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give
you a heart of flesh. [Eze 36:26]
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1. It is a particular feature in our holy religion that it begins its work within, and acts first upon the heart. Other religions, like that of the Pharisees, begin with outward forms and ceremonies, perhaps hoping to work inwardly from without, although the process never ends so, for the outside of the cup and of the platter is made clean, but the inside still remains full of rottenness as before. No truth is more sure than this concerning all the sons of men, “You must be born again”; there must be an entire and radical change of man’s nature, or else where God is he can never come: the gospel does not flinch from this, but enforces the declaration. The Holy Spirit does not attempt to improve human nature into something better, but lays the axe at the root of the trees, and declares that we must become new creatures, and that by a supernatural work of the omnipotent God. Scripture does not mince matters, or say that some men may be better than others naturally, and by an improvement of their excellencies may at last become good enough for God; far from it, it declares concerning all, “Unless you are converted, and become as little children, you shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” True religion begins, then, with the heart, and the heart is the ruling power of manhood. You may enlighten a man’s understanding and you have done much, but as long as his heart is wrong, the enlightenment of the understanding only enables him to sin with a greater weight of responsibility resting upon him. He knows good to be good, but he prefers the evil; he sees the light, but he loves the darkness, and turns from the truth because his heart is alienated from God. If the heart is renewed, the judgment before long will follow in the same track; but as long as the heart is wrong the affections govern the will and bias the character of the man towards evil. If a man loves evil he is evil; if he hates God he is God’s enemy, whatever his outward professions, whatever his knowledge, whatever his apparent good qualities. “As a man thinks in his heart so he is.” The heart is more nearly the man than any other of the faculties and powers which God has bestowed upon our nature. What if I say that the heart is the Eve in the little garden of our nature, and it is she who first plucks the evil fruit, and though the understanding follows the affections, even as Adam followed Eve, still the first power for good or evil lies in the affections. The heart, when renewed by grace, is the best part of manhood; unrenewed, it is the very worst. Aesop, when his master ordered him to provide nothing for a feast except the best things in the market, brought him nothing but tongues, and when the next day he ordered him to buy nothing except the worst things in the market, still brought nothing but tongues; and I would venture to correct or spiritualize the story, by exchanging hearts for tongues, for there is nothing better in the world than renewed hearts, and nothing worse than unregenerate hearts.
2. It is a great covenant promise that the heart shall be renewed, and the particular form of its renewal is this, that it shall be made living, warm, sensitive, and tender. It is naturally a heart of stone: it is to become, by a work of divine grace, a heart of flesh. Hence, very much of the result of regeneration and conversion will be found to lie in the production of a tender spirit. Tenderness, the opposite of what is stout, obstinate, cold, hard, tenderness is one of the most gracious signs in a man’s character, and where God has given fleshiness, or living sensitiveness, instead of stoniness, or dead insensitivity of heart, there we may conclude that there is a real work of grace, and that God has created vital godliness within. Concerning this tenderness I am about to speak, — “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
3. I. Our first remark is that THE TENDERNESS HERE INTENDED IS ABSENT IN THE UNREGENERATE.
4. The unregenerate frequently have a natural sensitiveness; some people who are not converted are very tender indeed, as mothers to their children, as fathers to their offspring, as friends to friends; and God forbid that we should say anything amiss concerning what is good in human nature after its kind, but that is widely different from the spiritually tender heart. There are some who have a tenderness which arises from timidity, a tenderness which sometimes inclines them to good, not because they love the good, but because they are easily governed by their company; so that they would be just as easily led towards evil if they associated with bad counsellors. They have no principle, no root in themselves; such a tenderness Rehoboam had, who was tender, and therefore followed evil advisers to his own injury. Such an unmanly softness as this is to be striven against, for we need to have some grit in our constitution, some firmness and resolution, and that kind of pliability which unman’s a man, and makes him a puppet for others to handle, is a great evil.
5. There is also a tenderness which arises mainly from legal terror and fear, which is very different from the evangelical or saving softness of heart which is described in our text. Some also I know who exhibit a kind of counterfeit tenderness. When they hear a sermon they are stirred by it; and if it is about the world to come, the lifting up of the curtain of the future, they are affected for the time being; but then their goodness soon departs from them; they forget the next moment what affected them a moment before; they are soon hot and soon cold, they are as fickle as the wind. That is a kind of tenderness also not to be desired, — goodness which is as the morning cloud, and the early dew, which pass away.
In all unregenerate men there is a lack of the real spiritual
tenderness of which I have to speak, though all are not equally
hardened. In all, for example, there is a natural stoniness of
heart. We are not born into this world perfect, so that when sin
meets us it receives a kindly reception, and is not dreaded and
shunned as it should be. Those who notice children in their first
acts will not have discovered any strong aversion in them to
children’s sins, or horror at the sight of them. How early does the
little child give way to unrestrained passion, and practise little
acts of deceit. As the prophet said, “We go astray from the womb,
speaking lies.” Our children’s poet was correct when he said —
True, you are young, but there’s a stone
Within the youngest breast,
Or half the sins which you have done
Would rob you of your rest.
The heart by nature is like the nether millstone, and its hardness is increased by contact with the world. A youth fresh from a godly household is not one half so hard as he who has been for some time in the midst of ungodly company, and has seen the ways of the debauched and the profane. Custom has a great power over us, and what we see others do with impunity we by and by come to think (unless the grace of God prevents) cannot be quite so bad as our parents and guardians taught us that it was. Familiarity with sin does not breed contempt for it, but often causes a measure of contempt for the law which forbids it. We see the sparkling eye of the drunkard, we hear his hilarious shout, and imagine that there is pleasure in the bowl; or we hear men speak about the delights of their transgressions and the sweets of lust, and unless we are held back by Providence and grace, we are apt to think lightly of those things which once we regarded with abhorrence. This world is a petrifying spring, and all who are of the world are being petrified in its stream, and so are growing harder and harder as the years roll on.
7. Moreover, men harden themselves by their own sins. Every time a man sins it becomes more easy for him to sin again. Like a stone falling, sin gains impetus and increases velocity. The man who sins once has a stronger tendency to sin again, and there are some sins which almost necessitate a succession of sins. The man who lies, for example, thinks he must lie a second time to conceal the first; and some transgressions which root themselves in the flesh breed a hunger and a thirst for the sin so that the flesh craves to be indulged again, and those who cannot bridle their passions are thus carried away by them with great force. Just as labour renders the hand hard, so sin makes the heart callous, and each sin makes the stony heart even more like adamant.
8. At the same time, all the circumstances around an unregenerate man will be perverted to the same result. If, for example, a man prospers, nothing is more hardening to the heart than long prosperity. Find me an ungodly man whose course has been one of perpetual gain, and you shall find me almost certainly a man who is ready to say to the Lord, “Who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice?” Pride is often fostered by fulness of bread. If the man had known what poverty is, he might, perhaps, have been humbled before God; but now he boasts in his broad acres and his large estates, and, like Nebuchadnezzar, he says, “Behold this great Babylon that I have built.” It is also a dangerous thing to be for many years in good health without a sickness. This also hardens a man. The sickness which brings to the borders of the grave is often sanctified to the breaking of the heart, but to be without ache or pain for a long time, is so far from being a blessing from God to the wicked, that I scarcely know anything which may turn out to be a greater curse to an ungodly man. Never chastened! then you are no child; left to find pleasure in sin! then surely it must be that God will let you have what pleasure you may in this world, because he knows a terrible future awaits you. Oh soul in prosperity, disturb yourself, for you are in solemn danger. Hardness of heart will almost inevitably come upon you. You are at ease from your youth; you have not been emptied from vessel to vessel; therefore your scent remains in you, and that scent is pride and carnal security.
9. The opposite condition of circumstances will, through sin, produce the same result. Affliction hardens those whom it does not soften. There are men who have been in many storms at sea, and, though once they feared, they never tremble now. If the mast had to be cut away, and the vessel were almost to go down, they would curse and swear in the teeth of the tempest, they have grown so desperate. Those who have escaped many accidents and dire diseases, who have passed unscathed by the hot furnace mouth of fever, or have risen from between the jaws of cholera, are too often men whom nothing can move. What the fire does not melt, it anneals as steel. Alas, of how many may it be said, “Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more and more.” They resemble Ahaz of old, who, the more he was afflicted, the more he sinned, of whom the Spirit of God has written, “This is that King Ahaz.” This is obduracy indeed, comparable to that of Pharaoh, whom the Lord hardened by judgments which ought to have melted him to repentance.
10. And alas! alas! that we should have to add it, holy influences will come in to complete this hardening, and carry it to a still higher degree. The gospel has an incredibly hardening power over those who reject it. The sun shines out of the heavens upon wax and softens it, but at the same time it shines upon clay and hardens it. The sunlight of the gospel shining upon hearers either melts them into repentance or else hardens them into greater obstinacy. You cannot be hearers of the gospel without its having some effect upon you. Some of you have attended this place ever since it was built, and if you are not the better for it you certainly are the worse. If the gospel is not a savour of life to life to you it will be a savour of death to death. Among hardened sinners the gospel hardened sinner is one of the worst.
11. Yet, further, when an unregenerate man dares to put on a Christian profession, this is perhaps the most rapid and certain process for consummating the devil’s work; for if a man will be audacious enough to join himself with the saints while he is indulging in private sin; if he will continue to come to the communion table when he knows that his basest lusts are still indulged; and if, moreover, he has the nerve to boast of being a child of God when he knows that he is an utter stranger to divine grace, why, such a man is the raw material out of which Satan can make a Judas. The devil himself could not make a Judas until he had found a false apostle. You must look among hypocritical professors of religion if you want to find the worst of men; and I must add, you may succeed best in your search if you can find a false hearted minister. The higher the place in God’s garden the more rank the weeds. The hardest hearted men of all are not those who have been guilty of crimes against society, and have been put away into our jails: often a little kindness will melt these savages down, but the worst of all are those demons in human form who make a profession of being the people of God and all the while know that they are sinning wickedly with both hands. To cover a vile life with the coverlet of a Christian profession is a sign of reprobation.
12. Take men, however, at any stage, this is still true, that the heart of flesh is not to be found in any unregenerate man.
13. II. WHEREVER TRUE TENDERNESS IS FOUND, IT IS A SPECIAL GIFT OF THE NEW COVENANT.
14. A heart of flesh is a blessing of sovereign grace, and it is always the result of divine power. No heart of stone was ever turned into flesh by accident, nor by mere providential dispensations, nor by human persuasions. You might argue with a rock a long while before you would persuade it into flesh. Neither is such a change accomplished by a man’s own actions. How shall a stone, being a stone, produce in itself flesh? A power from above the man must work upon him, according to the language of the Scriptures, “Unless a man is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The Spirit of God must change the nature, or the heart of stone will never become a heart of flesh.
15. Notice that the first works of the Spirit of God upon the soul tend towards this tenderness, for when he comes to a man he convicts him of sin and so softens him; the man convicted of sin does not laugh at sin any longer, neither does he despise the wrath of God on account of it. When the Spirit of God shoots the arrows of conviction into the soul, then the heart begins to bleed, and the man is conscious of feelings and emotions to which he was a stranger previously. I trust there are some of you who understand this first work of the Spirit in the heart: he has begun to make you feel the guilt of sin, he has compelled you to tremble before an angry God, and to dread the wrath to come: this early work of grace has already made you sensitive as you never were before, and the further the Spirit’s work proceeds the more tender will you become.
16. When the soul comes to be truly saved, and to obtain peace through Jesus Christ, one great characteristic of its salvation is tenderness in heart. Oh, what a place for tenderness the cross is! When for the first time our eye beholds the Saviour, we weep; we look and live, but we also look and mourn that we pierced the Lord. Who can see a bleeding Saviour suffering for his sin without being melted down? No heart of stone can bear contact with the cross. Only let Jesus glance a look of love, and we are dissolved, as once Peter’s heart was melted and made to flow out in penitential tears. Only let us hear the accents of our Redeemer’s voice, and we shall cry, “My soul melted while he spoke to me.” The fact that he loved us and gave himself for us is enough to dissolve a heart of iron, if it could once know it.
17. Now just as these first works of the Spirit of God, in conviction and conversion lead to tenderness, so it is true of all the divine operations which follow in due course. The whole tenor of the gospel is towards tenderness. I cannot remember a promise, I cannot recall a doctrine, I cannot remember a fact connected with the gospel, which could make a believer hard hearted. Can you? I think, if you will think over all that you know, and all that God has revealed concerning salvation, you will find nothing to make you stubborn and wilful, but everything to make you tender and sensitive. Oh, to think that salvation should be by the sovereign grace of God! How it humbles us; how it lays us in the dust. No more talking about man’s rights as a creature, man’s claims, and what God ought to do; we are broken down, and feel that the Lord may do exactly what he wishes; and so we are made tender before his face. Oh, to know that there is no pardon except by faith in a Substitute; to understand that God must and will punish sin: how it makes us feel that sin is no trifle; how it leads us to abhor sin as a great evil, and so makes us jealous lest we should offend again. When we read that all our help was laid on Jesus Christ, how it cuts away by the roots all our self-confidence and makes us lie low at the foot of the throne. I might go through all the truths and doctrines and promises, if we had time, and I think I could prove beyond a doubt that their legitimate effect is to render the heart tender, wherever they operate.
18. So it is with every Christian grace. All the Christian virtues promote warmth and tenderness of heart. Do you have zeal for God? I know you will be fearful about sinning, you will hate the very garment spotted by the flesh. Do you have patience under the divine rod? That patience is only softness of heart in one of its sweetest forms. Do you have much love? Then I am sure you have much tenderness, for in proportion as the heart is stony it is destitute of affection. Every one of the divine circle of graces has an intimate connection with the heart of flesh; and this thing I also venture to say, that the more tender a man is the more advanced in grace he is: and that the more callous and unconcerned he is the further he is from what he should be. Let the unfeeling professor know and rest assured that if he is a child of God at all, he is certainly in a weak and backsliding state, or his insensibility would be a great burden and grief to him. Every grace leans towards tenderness, and the whole current of the divine life flows that way. You cannot be strong in piety unless you are tender in heart. Are you a child? Can a child be good if he is indifferent, haughty, obstinate, and stony hearted towards his parents? Are you a servant? Who is a good servant except he who is tender concerning his master’s reputation, and anxious to fulfil his master’s command? Are you a soldier? Where is there a good soldier who is not jealous for his captain’s honour, and careful lest by any means he should break the martial law? There must be tenderness. It is an essential point. Unless it is melted down the hard metal cannot be poured into the mould and fashioned for use and beauty. The Lord Jesus will never set his seal upon cold wax, he stamps his image on hearts of flesh and not on stones. A tender conscience is an essential ingredient in the perfect Christian character, and where it is not present neither is the life and work of God there.
19. III. Let us dwell upon another point, that THIS TENDERNESS, WHEN IT IS GIVEN, IS OBSERVABLE UNDER SEVERAL ASPECTS.
The man who has a heart of flesh given to him becomes sensitive to
fear. He trembles at the thought of a holy God up in arms against
him. He no longer quibbles about hell and eternity, as so many do,
but he says, “My heart stands in awe of you, and I am afraid of your
judgments.” He no longer argues that the Lord is too severe, but he
admits that he is just when he judges, and clear when he condemns. The
renewed heart is afraid of what other men call little sins, and flees
from them as from a serpent. The regenerate man knows that there is
death in every drop of sin’s wine, and he will not venture to sip
from it, nor taste a mouthful of sin’s most royal dainties. He fears
the Lord, and dreads to offend, because he is made alive, in order to
know the Lord’s holiness and perceive his justice. The stony heart
neither knows nor fears, and therefore abides in death. I have little
fear for a soul that fears, but I tremble for those who never
tremble. I have sometimes wished that certain very assured
Christians, as they think themselves to be, who are I fear in very
truth presumptuous pretenders, I wish they could and would have a
dash of fear about them. Fear of the kind we now mean is a holy salt
to a man’s character. Fear and trembling well become even the most
eminent saint. “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of his
saints.” “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Though I
greatly deplore all doubts of God’s truthfulness, I do not equally
deprecate doubts concerning our own condition, for there is such a
thing as holy anxiety, and I charge you never to think little of it,
but remember the poet’s lines —
He that never doubted of his state,
He may, perhaps, he may, too late.
Self-examination will often suggest holy fear and deep searching of heart, and it will reveal so much of sin in us that we shall be sent to our knees, with weeping and supplication, to cry out for help and pardon. To live without fear is to live in sin, for one characteristic of a believer is that he has the fear of God before his eyes. In this sense, “blessed is the man who always fears.”
Again, a tender heart becomes sensitive concerning the decisions of
its enlightened conscience. The heart changed by grace begins to
weigh its own actions towards God, and it comes to the conclusion, “I
have acted unjustly towards my Creator and Benefactor: he has been
all goodness to me, I have received at his hands countless benefits,
and yet I have ungratefully forgotten him; when I have heard of him I
have treated him slightingly; I have lived for myself but not for my
good and gracious Creator.” The quickened conscience holds a daily
court, and its sentences are heard and respected by the heart of
flesh. In the ungodly man there is a conscience, but it is asleep and
needs a cannon fired at its ear to wake it up; so that the stony
heart is never troubled by it. Let our prayer be —
Quick as the apple of an eye,
Oh God, my conscience make;
Awake my soul when sin is nigh,
And keep it still awake.
The Christian feels that it is a horrible thing to sin against God, against the Saviour’s love, and against the influence of the indwelling Spirit, and he recoils from sin, not only is he afraid of the punishment but because he is wounded by the sin itself. As smoke to the eyes, as thorns to the flesh, and as gall to the palate, so is sin to the heart of flesh.
22. Then, again, the new heart, the fleshy heart, becomes sensitive to the divine love. Is it not one of the most incredible things in the world that the story of Calvary does not flood with tears every eye that reads it? Was there ever such touching, affecting love as that shown by the Son of God towards his enemies, when he left the dignities of heaven for the shame and suffering of earth? Silly stories of lovesick maidens, or the improbable plots of three volume romances, will bring showers of tears from those who peruse them, while this grand narrative, this wondrous tragedy of love, is as a thrice told tale, and the book which contains it is often put up on the shelf as far too dry for reading. Though it concerns us all, and we are lost without it, and with it are lifted up to be close to God, yet this dying love of Christ is disregarded. How can it be otherwise while the heart is made of stone? When his heart is turned to flesh, then the love of God affects the man, humbles him, melts him, woos him, wins him, captivates him, enchants him, enamours him, inflames him with ardent thankfulness, and draws him up towards heaven.
23. Divine love creates in the renewed man a sensitivity to gratitude. “Has Jesus done all this for me? Then, what can I do for him? Has he bought me with his blood? Then I am his, and not my own, or the world’s. What can I do for him who died to save my grateful soul?” The renewed heart feels that the love of Christ constrains it, and it judges “that if Christ died for all, then all were dead, and that he died for all, so that those who live should not live henceforth to themselves, but to him who died for them and rose again.”
24. Moreover, the heart becomes sensitive henceforth to holy grief: When it has erred, it chastens and humbles itself for having grieved the Saviour: it takes revenge upon itself if sin has been indulged.
25. As well it becomes sensitive to joy, and oh the joy which a Christian feels, to which the ungodly man must for ever be a stranger. The renewed heart sings at the sound of the Saviour’s footfall, and when his love is shed abroad no precious ointment can be half so sweet to it. Oh, the exhilarations and delights we have known when we clearly see our acceptance in the Beloved! Oh, the feastings and the banquetings when we have fellowship with the Crucified One! Oh, the ravishments and ecstasies when we look through the opened gates of pearl and behold our eternal inheritance, the crowns of gold, and the palm branches of victory. By regeneration we are made capable of an unknown fulness of joy, every power and faculty is so quickened as to be able to quiver with delight. Heaven itself seems to flash along every nerve when the heart is steeped in fellowship with Jesus.
And so we become sensitive with compassion for others. I would
give nothing for your religion if you do not desire others to share
in it; if you can, without emotion, think of a soul being damned, I
fear that it will be your own lot. If you can look upon the
ignorant, and the perverse, and the rebellious, and think of their
destruction with complacency, you are no child of God. Your Saviour
who is the firstborn of the divine family, wept over Jerusalem. Have
you no tears? Then you are not a member of the family of which he is
Did Christ o’er sinners weep,
And can our cheeks be dry?
Let drops of sympathetic grief
Distil from every eye.
A heart of stone says, “Let them go where they wish: am I my brother’s keeper?” but a heart of flesh says, “Lord, help me by any means to save some; it shall be a delight to me to turn sinners from the error of their ways.”
27. Where this tenderness of heart is carried to a high pitch, as it ought to be in every Christian, the believer becomes delicately sensitive concerning the things of God. I have seen an instrument for weighing of so exceedingly delicate a nature that it has been affected by a particle of dust, quite imperceptible by the naked eye. An invisible atom has turned the scale. We have different kinds of weighing machines; some are so crude that they would hardly yield to the pressure of an ounce, but others quiver if the smallest particle falls upon them, the believer’s heart should be like the last one. A Christian’s heart should resemble the sensitive plant, which the moment it is touched folds up its leaves, as a sailor reefs his canvas; or like a wound in a man’s flesh, which is pained by the faintest brush. Spiritual sensitivity is fulness of life; insensitivity is death. To feel the slightest motion of the Holy Spirit is a sign of high spirituality. I would not wish to be in my heart like the Great Eastern [a] upon the sea, needing an Atlantic roller to stir it; I would rather desire to be as the angler’s float, which mounts or sinks by the force of the last ripple. Spirit of the Lord, thus act upon my willing heart. I want to be so aware of the Spirit of God that I may be like the aspen leaf, which trembles even when the breeze is not perceptible to others. We should watch to do God’s will, and not need his whip and bridle to force us to obey. Yet I have known professors who have clearly seen a certain duty to be taught in the Bible, but they have said, “Well, we think it is scriptural, but we want to have it brought to us by a deep impression on our mind, and our way pointed out by providential circumstances.” This is a disobedient spirit; it ought to receive grave censure. The Lord’s word is our guide, not our impressions or our circumstances; and to the renewed heart it should be enough to know the Lord’s will, and our obedience should be prompt. On the other hand, if anything is forbidden in the word, or is clearly wrong, nothing can justify our continuance in it; we are bound at once to forsake it. The great need of this age is sensitivity toward revealed truth and the divine will. We have a church in our land in which there are three distinct classes of men, who all declare that they believe the entire Book of Common Prayer, and it is clearly impossible that they should do so, since these parties have no points of agreement with one another, and wage incessant war with each other. Yet each one of them receives it all ex amino; all of it, when no man living; nor angel, nor devil could believe it all, the book itself being self-contradictory. This, however, is of little consequence to supple consciences, trained to play with language. Some ministers of this church know their position to be a doubtful one, and yet retain it on the plea that their usefulness might be impaired if they left the church: is this reasoning fit for Christians? Are we to seek a supposititious usefulness by continuing where our consciences are ill at ease? Surely not. Our rule of conduct is the divine will, and that only. Oh, I long to see a race of men born among us like the old Covenanters, who would die for the least word of Jesus, and would give their blood for the smallest jewel of his crown. But now we are to be charitable, and if any of us speaks out for God, immediately we are condemned for lack of charity, whereas it is our great love for souls that makes us speak out and run all risks. We have love for dying men and love for the age to come. We see deadly error propped up by temporizers, and we cannot be silent. If ministers of the gospel set the example of wresting words and trifling with truth, where will this nation’s morals be in the next generation? Brethren, we who preach the gospel must follow the highest conceivable standard of strict truth, for God’s sake, for our office sake, and for the people’s sake. We cannot afford to be lax in our solemn declarations, for we shall have to answer for them to our Lord at the last great day. If we are to be teachers of other men we must ourselves be beyond suspicion, we must be inflexible in truthfulness, and sooner die than be false concerning faith, or countenance anything that savours of dishonesty, or is tainted with equivocation. We shall never lead God’s troops to victory against error and falsehood if we ourselves vacillate. Oh, for great tenderness of heart towards the truth. Even though scrupulousness should foster the revival of a fierce sectarianism, it would be infinitely more to be desired than the soul deceiving charity which is the Diana of this age and the destroyer of souls. Translated into plain English, the current charity of the times only means that it does not matter one bit what God has said; let us make our own systems, and mutually agree to shelve all the inconvenient parts of revelation. Let us be liberal to our fellow men out of our Lord’s estate; what does our Lord’s honour matter as long as we make things pleasant all around? In the teeth of this the sensitive heart will be faithful, and will bear the censure of all men sooner than incur the displeasure of the Lord. We must have tenderness towards God. Oh, for the old Elijah spirit of stern determination, tempered with John’s spirit of love to those whose errors we condemn. Jehovah must be King in this land, and the idols must be utterly abolished.
28. IV. I shall close with a few reflections on the same subject. TENDERNESS OF HEART IS TO BE GREATLY PRIZED AND EARNESTLY CULTIVATED.
29. Some among you may for the first time be distressed on account of sin; I rejoice about it. Some of you are not what you used to be, carefree and light hearted; you are now thoughtful, and, with that thoughtfulness, sorrowful. You came here this morning, praying that God would give you peace, but you have not obtained it. I pray God to give you your wish, but may you never find peace unless it is the peace of God, peace through Jesus Christ. May your resolution be, “I will never rest until I rest in God’s rest, even in his own dear Son.” Beloved, do not try to get rid of soul alarm, and conviction, and sin except in God’s way. There are physicians of no value who would heal your wound if you would let them; do not endure them, for they will only bandage it over and leave an ulcer beneath which will cost you your soul. Ask the Lord to make your minister faithful to you, allow him to use the lancet, to open the wound, and cut out the proud flesh; yes, ask the Spirit of God to probe you to the quick sooner than allow you to be flattered into the conception that you are healed when you are not. Go to the Lord for healing, all other healing is worthless. Say, “Lord, make sure work of it in me; save me yourself; save me thoroughly; deliver me from trusting in myself or my fellow man, and bring me to rely upon yourself and your dear Son alone.” Do not go to amusements which will help you to forget your true condition; do not be danced or fiddled, or play acted, into indifference. Be anxious that this bruising and breaking should go on further so that you may be even yet more conscious of the exceeding guilt of sin. You will never prize the Saviour until you loathe yourself; you will never love his blood until you have been ashamed of the crimson of your own sin. Jesus will never be to you a Saviour until you are in your own eyes a poor, lost, ruined sinner. Go to Jesus and put your trust in him, and do not harden your heart against him.
Next, I speak to you, oh child of God. Cultivate tenderness of heart
more and more. I would say to you who are Christians, do not believe
anything the legitimate result of which would be to make you callous
in your spiritual feelings, or lax in your dealings with your fellow
men, or careless with your God. I dread lest any of the truths which
we profess should come to be so held in unrighteousness as to make us
feel easy in sin. Whenever I find a brother perfectly content with
himself I am afraid for him. I know he does not see the sin that God
sees in him, or he would rather bemoan himself than give way to
boasting. I delight to hear men preaching a high standard of
holiness, the higher the better, but if any man shall say that he has
reached it, I blush and tremble for him. He better begin again upon
the ladder of sanctification, for he has not put his foot on its
first rung yet, for that is humility. Be very humble, lie very low:
be more and more conscious of your natural guilt, and repent daily
more earnestly. I protest before you all that I believe the very best
place for a man to stand in is with his arms around the cross, saying
I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.
31. I am nothing, but Christ is everything: a mass of loathsomeness in myself, but nevertheless accepted in the Beloved.
Daily may we fear lest we should fall into a routine religion,
without life and power. We can sing without real joy or praise; we
can pray without any earnestness or fervency; we can read the Bible
without feeding on its truths; and we can know the doctrines of the
gospel without proving their influences upon the heart. Pray against
this, yes, pray against all lifeless religion. I wish to have my soul
vital all over, and as sensitive towards God as though it were
flayed, and had no calloused skin upon it, so that every truth, every
promise, every word of God, should make me feel intensely, acutely,
and at once. I beseech you who are believers to strive after this.
Remember how tender the Saviour was. There was no stone about his
heart. May you be as tender as he was, and you will then be fashioned
into the likeness for which God is preparing you by his eternal
Spirit. Dread growing hard in your thoughts of sin; dread growing
cold in your thoughts of Christ; dread growing stony in your thoughts
of your fellow sinners; but let this promise be pleaded in your
prayers before God, “I will take away the heart of stone out of your
flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” May the Lord fulfil it
for you for his truth’s sake, and his name’s sake. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Eze 36]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 5” 5]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Depth Of Mercy” 568]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — Promises Of Grace” 489]
[a] Great Eastern: SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers around the world without refuelling. Her length of 692 feet (211 m) was only surpassed in 1899 by the 705-foot (215 m) 17,274-gross-ton RMS Oceanic, and her gross tonnage of 18,915 was only surpassed in 1901 by the 701-foot (214 m) 21,035-gross-ton RMS Celtic. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Great_Eastern"
Spirit of the Psalms
1 Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear
My voice ascending high;
To thee will I direct my prayer,
To thee lift up mine eye.
2 Unto the hills where Christ is gone
To plead for all his saints;
Presenting at his Father’s throne
Our songs and our complaints.
3 Thou art a God before whose sight
The wicked shall not stand;
Sinners shall ne’er be thy delight,
Nor dwell at thy right hand.
4 But to thy house wilt I resort,
To taste thy mercies there;
I will frequent thy holy court,
And worship in thy fear.
5 Oh may thy Spirit guide my feet
In ways of righteousness!
Make every path of duty straight,
And plain before my face.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
The Christian, Contrite Cries
568 — Depth Of Mercy <7s., Double.>
1 Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God his wrath forbear?
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood his grace,
Long provoked him to his face;
Would not hearken to his calls:
Grieved him by a thousand falls.
2 Kindled his relentings are;
Me he still delights to spare;
Cries, “How shall I give thee up?”
Lets the lifted thunder drop.
There for me the Saviour stands;
Shows his wounds and spreads his hands,
God is love, I know, I feel
Jesus pleads, and loves me still.
3 Jesus, answer from above:
Is not all thy nature love?
Wilt thou not the wrong forget?
Suffer me to kiss thy feet?
If thou all compassion art,
Bow thine ear, in mercy bow;
Pardon and accept me now.
4 Pity from thine eye let fall;
By a look my soul recall;
Now the stone to flesh convert,
Cast a look, and break my heart.
Now incline me to repent;
Let me now my fall lament:
Now my foul revolt deplore;
Weep, believe, and sin no more.
Charles Wesley, 1740.
489 — Promises Of Grace
1 In vain we lavish out our lives
To gather empty wind,
The choicest blessings earth can yield
Will starve a hungry mind.
2 Come, and the Lord shall feed our souls,
With more substantial meat,
With such as saints in glory love,
With such as angels eat.
3 Come, and he’ll cleanse our spotted souls,
And wash away our stains,
In the dear fountain that his Son
Pour’d from his dying veins.
4 Our guilt shall vanish all away,
Though black as hell before,
Our sins shall sink beneath the sea,
And shall be found no more.
5 And lest pollution should o’erspread
Our inward powers again,
His Spirit shall bedew our souls,
Like purifying rain.
6 Our heart, that flinty, stubborn thing,
That terrors cannot move,
That fears no threatenings of his wrath,
Shall be dissolved by love:
7 Or he can take the flint away
That would not be refined;
And from the treasures of his grace
Bestow a softer mind.
8 There shall his sacred Spirit dwell,
And deep engrave his law;
And every motion of our souls
To swift obedience draw.
9 Thus will he pour salvation down,
And we shall render praise,
We the dear people of his love,
And he our God of grace.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).
Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.