A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, November 30, 1873, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *12/25/2011
But the Scripture has concluded all under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. [Ga 3:22]
1. In every work which we undertake it is most important that we should act upon right principles; for if we are misled upon essential points, our efforts will be wasted, since success cannot possibly be the result. A man may study the stars as long as he pleases, but he certainly will not come to right conclusions if he calculates their courses upon the theory that they daily revolve around the earth as their centre. The alchemists were earnest even to enthusiasm, but the object of their pursuit was unattainable, and the theories which guided their investigations were absurd, and, therefore, they exhibited a sorrowful spectacle of perseverance misapplied, and labour thrown away. In mechanics the most ingenious contriver must fail if he forgets the law of gravitation. You must proceed upon right principles, or disappointment awaits you. If a man in London believed that he would reach the city of York by travelling rapidly to the south, he would certainly fail, even though he had a special express attached to his carriage. If another should be sincerely of the opinion that by drinking a strong poison he would restore himself to health, his friends and survivors would have to regret his infatuation. The earnestness of his belief will not alter the fact; the principles which make the deadly drug so murderous will not yield because the man was sincere, but he will certainly die for his obstinacy. Now, the greatest matter of concern for any one of us is the eternal salvation of our soul. We need to be saved, and, according to the Scriptures of truth, there is only one way of salvation; but that way does not happen to be in favour among the sons of men. The great popular principle, popular all over the world, no matter whether the people happen to be Protestant or Catholic, Parsee or Mohammedan, Brahminist or Buddhist, is self-salvation — they would reach eternal life by merit. There are differences about what is to be done, but the great universal principle of unregenerate man is that he is, somehow or other, to save himself. This is his principle; and the further he goes in it the less likely he is to be saved. My object this morning is to bring before you the much despised principle which God has revealed as the only true one, namely, salvation by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, by simple faith in him. We preach, at God’s command, the way of salvation by mercy, not by merit; by faith, not by works; by grace, not by the efforts of men. May God help us so to describe that principle, so that many may accept it. I do not care one snap of my finger about preaching so that the style shall please the ear, but I long to reach your hearts. I want you to receive the only sure method of salvation, and I pray the Holy Spirit to baptise my words in his own mighty fire, and make them to burn their way into your hearts, and subdue you to the obedience of faith.
2. The text divides itself into two parts, but my sermon will not end there, for I shall try to enforce its great truths. We will speak at once upon two points. The first is a crowded prison, — “The Scripture has concluded all under sin”: and the second is a glorious jail delivery, — “so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” After that we will try to show how excellent that plan is which God has accomplished — the plan of deliverance from sin by the promise of faith in Christ Jesus.
3. I. Behold THE CROWDED PRISON. — “The Scripture has concluded or shut up all are under sin.”
4. The jailer is the Scripture, — a lawful authority, for the Scripture is not the word of man, but of the Spirit of God. If any man rejects the Scripture, I have little to say to him at this moment, for I am speaking mainly to those who accept the Bible as having been written by an infallible pen. If the Scriptures then, which you admit to be written by God, shut you up in sin, you are shut up by a lawful authority, against which you cannot rebel. God has done it, God’s own voice has declared you to be a prisoner under sin. No authority is more powerful than that of Scripture, for it is not only true, but it has force to support it. Where the word of God is, there is power; the Scripture, when it comes home to the heart, like a hammer breaks in pieces, and like a fire burns its way. We need not be alarmed when judged by men, but the voice of the Lord is full of terrible majesty, and awes the spirit which it condemns.
5. But how does the Scripture shut up all men under sin? I reply, first, it has been well observed by Martin Luther that the very promises of Scripture shut up all mankind under sin. To begin with the first — that morning star of promise which shone over this world when our parents first left the gates of blighted Eden — “The seed of the women shall bruise the serpent’s head.” Since such a promise was needed, it is clear that the blessing could only come to men through the Redeemer, the seed of the woman, and that in the case of all men the serpent’s head must be broken, or they would remain under his dominion. When a blessing is promised, there must have been a need for it; where a deliverer is predicted, there must have been a necessity for him. If a blessing could come to men by the way of merit, or in the course of nature, there would be no need of a promise; a promise implies a need, and the very first promise of deliverance by the woman’s seed from the power of the serpent implies that men were under that evil power.
6. The promise of grace is clear in the covenant with Noah, in which the Lord declared that he would no more destroy the earth with a flood. If the race of man had been holy, God could not have destroyed it with a flood, for he would have violated justice by destroying an innocent race. To a pure race there could be no need for a covenant of preservation, for there would be no conceivable reason for the destruction of the innocent. The very making of a covenant that the earth should not again be swept with an overwhelming flood implies that, apart from such a gracious covenant, the earth might justly have been destroyed at any time. The lovely rainbow, while it comfortingly reminds us of the divine faithfulness, is also a memorial of that universal depravity of our race which necessitated a covenant of grace to stand as a barrier for our protection, lest the righteous wrath of God should break out upon us.
7. The even more explicit covenant which God made with Abraham plainly shows men to be shut up under sin, because it runs thus, “In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” proving that the nations were not originally in a blessed state, and could only be blessed through the promised seed. If some of them were blessed already, or could be blessed by their works, then the words of the promise would not be true. The covenant blessing comes to the nations only through Jesus Christ, the seed, and, consequently, it is clear that the nations were in need of a blessing.
8. The fact is that the very existence of the gospel, and its provisions of grace, pardon, and so on, the coming of a Saviour, his death upon the tree, and his intercession in heaven, all prove that men were shut up under sin. If they had not been so; what was the need of you, oh Cavalry? What need of your five wounds, oh Son of God? Surely all this vast machinery for redemption is ridiculous if men are not slaves; this wondrous filling of a fountain with blood is a vain superfluity if men are not foul. So that the very Scripture which is brightest with life to the sons of men carries within it convincing evidence that men, apart from the grace of God, are shut up under sin.
9. I have no doubt the apostle alluded more immediately to that part of Scripture which deals with law. Turn, I ask you, to the twentieth chapter of Exodus, which I hope you carry in your memories. Let me ask you to read those Ten Commandments with deep solemnity, and see whether they do not shut you up under sin. What man can read them and then say, “I am clear of all these?” The Ten Commandments surround us on all sides, and encompass all the movements of body, soul, and spirit, comprising under their jurisdiction the whole range of moral action; they hold us under fire from all points, and nowhere are we out of range. These ten precepts are condensed into two comprehensive precepts, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself.” Can you listen to those two precepts, which are the essence of the ten, without feeling that you have not loved God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, but very far from it, and that you have not loved your neighbour as yourself, but have gone far aside. A man who can read the law and not tremble, if he is outside of Christ, must be dead in his sin, he must be ignorant altogether of its meaning, or else he must have hardened his heart against its terrible importance. The awakened conscience knows that the law curses every one of us, without exception, for we have broken it.
10. The law as given on Sinai does that; and let us remember that the law as repeated by Mosaic command upon Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, at the time of the entrance of Israel into the Holy Land, is no less expressive than the thunders of the mount which might not be touched. Read the passage in De 27:26. Perhaps of all the verses of the Word of God this is the most sweeping and utterly crushing to self-righteous hopes. “Cursed is he who does not continue in all the words of the law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen”; which the apostle quotes in another form: “Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” [Ga 3:10] The law roars like a lion upon us in this sentence. If there is in any one of us a solitary violation of the command of God, we are cursed by him; if we have at any time throughout life, in any measure or degree, in deed, word, or thought, by omission or commission, diverged from absolute perfection, we are cursed. Such is the statement of God himself, by the mouth of his servant Moses, in this book of Deuteronomy. There is no exception made whatever; all sins are included in it, and all of us are included: “Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” Very well does our text say that the Scripture has shut all of us up under sin.
11. We are putting no strain upon the Scripture, for such was the understanding of the law by the saints of old. Turn to Ps 143:2, and remember, while I quote this, that this is by no means a solitary passage, but only selected as one of many. There David says, “Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for in your sight no man living shall be justified.” He stood before God, a man whose heart was sincere and true, but he did not dare to bring his works into judgment; and, speaking by the Spirit of God as a prophet, he declared that in God’s sight no man could be clear of guilt.
12. And yet further, brethren, the law of God shuts us up, not only as it was delivered from Sinai, as it was repeated at Gerizim, as it was understood by the saints, but especially as it was expounded by the Saviour. He did not come to break the bars of this prison, nor to remove this jailer from being its warden: his deliverance is not by violence, but by fair legal process. He came to strengthen rather than to weaken the law; for what does he say concerning it? He does not merely forbid adultery, but he expounds the command by saying, “He who looks upon a woman to lust after her commits adultery with her already in his heart.” He shows what had been so much forgotten by the Jews, that the commandments are spiritual, and that they reach infinitely further than mere outward actions; that, for example, “You shall not kill” does not merely mean “You shall do no murder,” but is to be understood in the sense given to it by the Lord Jesus: “I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” As Christians understand it, the law forbids our doing anything by which the natural or spiritual life of another may be placed in jeopardy. Now, since the law is to be so understood, its commandments are exceedingly broad. Since it touches our thoughts, our imaginations, and our casual wishes, who among us can stand before it? Truly the law shuts us up as in a terrible Bastille, [a] and each of us are prisoners under sin.
13. Here will be the time for us to say that not only do the Scriptures of promise and the Scriptures of law shut us up, but so do all the Scriptures of the old ceremonial law of the Jews. “Oh,” you say, “how is that?” I reply, “When the destroying angel went through Egypt on that memorable night, not one man, woman, or child was delivered except through the sprinkling of the blood upon the doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they lived.” What did that mean? Why, that they were all under sin; and had it not been for the blood, the same angel who struck the firstborn of Egypt must have struck every one of them, God’s people as they were, for they were all under sin. When they reached the wilderness, there were various rites and ceremonies, but it is remarkable that everything under the law was sprinkled with blood, because the people and all that they did were polluted with sin before God, and needed to be cleansed by an atonement. When an Israelite came to worship God at the Tabernacle, he could not come without a sacrifice. Atonement for sin was the way to God — the altar and the slaughtered lamb were the way of approach. There must be blood to cleanse the comer, because every comer was in himself unclean. Notice also that the Holy Place in the Tabernacle in the wilderness was closed, and no man went into it except the High Priest, and he only once every year; this was a most solemn declaration of God that no man was fit to come near to his infinite holiness, that every man, even of the chosen people, was so polluted that there must be hung up a veil between him and God; and the one man who did come near at all must approach with sprinkled blood and smoking incense, typical of the coming sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. There was nothing about the Mosaic economy to say to man, “You are good, or you can be good, and you can save yourself”; but everywhere the declaration was, “You have rebelled and have not served the Lord; you cannot come near to him until you are purged by the blood of the great sacrifice; God cannot accept you as you are; you are polluted and defiled.” The sinfulness of all men is abundantly taught in Scripture; indeed, it is to be found on every page of it.
14. I have spoken of the jailer; now notice his prisoners. “The Scripture has concluded all under sin” — all, all. The heathen? Yes, for the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans tells us that, though they do not have God’s written law, they have enough of it upon their consciences to accuse them if they do wrong, and every heathen has violated the law of God by sinning against the light of nature. To us who have heard that law the “all” of the text is very emphatic. But you have been very moral, you say. Yes, but you are shut up under sin, for, outwardly moral as you have been, you dare not say that you have never thought of evil so as to long for it, that you have never indulged wrong imaginations, that you have never spoken a rash word, that you have never sinned in action. Surely you dare not say that you have loved God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, nor that you have always loved your neighbour as yourself? My friend, you, who are so fair to look upon when you look in the mirror of your own self-adulation, if you could see yourself as God sees you, would discover that you are leprous from head to foot; your sins are abundant and loathsome, though you do not see them. And this is true of the most religious of those men who are resting in outward observances. They have prayed every night and morning since they were children; they are always present at every assembly for worship, they have attended to baptism, and communion, and the like. Ah, sirs, but the law takes no account of this: if you have not kept its ten commandments perfectly, it accepts no ceremonies as a payment. God requires from his creatures that they obey his law completely, without flaw, and one sin of omission or commission will bring down that dreadful sentence which I have already quoted, “Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” Religious or irreligious, the broken law shuts up all men in the very same prison.
15. Now, notice for a minute the prison itself. It is one from which we cannot escape by any efforts of our own. Brethren, if we say, “We will never sin again,” we shall sin; and our never sinning again would make no atonement for past offences. Suppose we were to resolve from this time on that we would suffer mortifications of body, and sorrow of heart, to make atonement for sin, it would be useless, for the law speaks nothing of repentance. When a man has broken the law, he must be punished for it; there is no allowance made for repentance under the law, and the certain result of our being shut up in the prison of the law, apart from the grace of God, is to be taken from that prison to execution, and to be destroyed for ever by the wrath of God. There is the prison of the text; there is the jailer, and his prisoners.
16. II. It is our great happiness to know that we are not shut up in this way with a view to our hopeless destruction, but in order that the grace of God may come to us, and so we have to speak of A GLORIOUS JAIL DELIVERY.
17. The jail delivery which I have to speak of is evidently for those who are shut up in the prison. “The Scripture has concluded all under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Christ came into this world to save those who have broken the law, those whom the law curses, and those who have no means whatever of escaping from the curse, unless Jesus opens the way. He has not come to save the righteous. If there are any among you who will not believe that you are shut up in the prison of the law, I have no gospel to preach to you. Why send a physician to a man who is not sick? and why offer alms to a man who is not poor? If you can save yourselves by your works, go and do so, fools that you are, for you might as well hope to drink the Atlantic dry. If you believe in self-salvation, I am hopeless of doing you any good until you have exhausted your strength. When you are weak, and sick, and ready to die, then you will be willing to accept the free salvation of Christ. But remember, Christ came to save the ungodly; the guilty alone are objects for mercy.
18. The Lord Jesus Christ has come to bring to all those who believe in him a complete deliverance from the bondage of the law. The man who believes in Jesus is forgiven; the very moment he believes, all his transgressions are blotted out, and from that moment he is just in the sight of God. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Having believed, he becomes at once a child of God, a son of the Most High, and since God will never cast away his children, nor reject those whom he has loved, the man is saved then and there, and saved eternally. He was a slave before, and deserved the lash, and felt it; he is a child now, and is no longer under the law, but under grace. The principle which guides him now is not “Do this and you shall live,” but this — “I am saved, and now I love to serve my God.” Now he does not work for wages, and expect to win a reward by merit; he is a saved man, and he has all that he needs; for Christ is his, and Christ is all. Now a higher principle burns within his heart than that of self-salvation, he loves God, and is no longer selfish.
19. Observe that this jail delivery comes to men by promise. It is salvation according to promise. The promise is given, says the text. Now, if any man is saved by the biblical plan of salvation, it is not the result of anything he has done, he has never deserved it, it is not the result of a bargain between him and God. No, the Lord says freely, “I will blot out your sins; I will accept you; I will hear your prayer; I will save you.” He does this, because he chooses to do it, by his own sovereign good will and pleasure. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” “So, then, it is not by him who wills, nor by him who runs, but by God who shows mercy.”
20. The promise is not made to works, but only to faith. It is “the promise of faith in Christ Jesus.” If God had made his promise to a certain measure of holiness, or a certain amount of feeling, then, brethren we might have despaired; but the promise is to faith. If you believe, you are saved. You poor prostitute, if you believe, you are saved; you thief, you murderer, you vilest of wretches, however far you may have gone, if you believe in Jesus Christ, your transgressions are forgiven you, and you are a child of God. It is your believing, not your doing; your trusting, your relying upon Christ, not your prayers, tears, preachings, hearings, or anything else you can do, or be, or feel. You are saved by giving up self entirely, and resting wholly on him whom God has made to be a propitiation, namely, the crucified Redeemer.
21. Observe that the faith spoken of in the text is faith in Christ Jesus. It must not be faith in yourself, nor faith in a priest, nor faith in sacraments, nor faith in a set of doctrines; the promise is to faith in Christ Jesus: that is to say, you must believe that Christ the Son of God came on earth and became a man, took your sins upon his shoulders, bore them up to the tree, and suffered what was due for your sins in his own body on the cross; and you must trust yourself with him, with him fully, with him only, and with all your heart; and if you do so, the promise is given to faith in Christ Jesus, and it will be fulfilled for you, and you shall be blessed and saved.
22. This promise of faith in Christ Jesus is given to all believers, weak as well as strong, young as well as old. Dear friend, if you have only believed in Jesus during the present service, you are as certainly forgiven as if you had been a believer for fifty years; for, if you only believed in Jesus when the last word escaped my lip, yet still your faith has saved you. Go in peace. Faith is the vital matter.
23. “But there must be works,” one says, “to follow.” Brother, there will be works to follow. There was never a true faith which did not produce works; but the works do not save us: faith alone saves. How strong is the apostle Paul upon this point! Read the Epistle to the Romans carefully, and the Epistle to the Galatians, and you will see that they come down like a pile driver upon all notion of salvation by our own doings. No reasoning could be more cogent, no expressions more plain. “Not by works, lest any man should boast,” says the apostle; and he says it over again: “If by grace, then it is no more by works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it is by works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” He will have it that we are saved as poor sinners by the sovereign grace of God, through faith in Christ Jesus, and not by works, or forms, or ceremonies, or anything whatever of our own doing.
24. Now, there is the plan of salvation. I present it to you, and I pray through Jesus Christ that many may receive it, for it is not a matter of human opinion, but by divine ordinance. I am not setting up the dogma of a sect; I am preaching to you the very truth of God. If there is salvation by any other way than by Jesus Christ I am a false prophet among you, and this Bible also is false, but if there is salvation to believers in Jesus, I am a saved man, and all of you who have believed in Jesus are saved also, effectively and eternally saved.
25. Having thus spoken upon the text itself, I desire to say a few things upon the subject in general. Objections are continually raised to this plan of salvation. The world’s plan of salvation is “Do”; the biblical plan of salvation is “It is all done, accept it as a free gift.” The gospel way of salvation is, Christ has saved his people, and as many as trust in him are his people, and are saved. Just think for a minute, is not this way of salvation which we have preached to you the only one which would be suited to all kinds and conditions of men? Dear sir, you yourself may be a man of excellent disposition, and of admirable habits; I will suppose that the salvation to be preached by us was exactly such as would be suitable to such a person as you believe yourself to be, would this not be a very unfortunate thing for many others? Are there not living within your observation many people who are far below you in moral character? Do you not know of whole hoards of your fellow creatures whose outward life is utterly defiled? Some of these are conscious of their degradation, and would gladly rise out of it: would you have them left in despair? A way of salvation suited to the righteous it is clear would not suit them: are they to be overlooked? Would you have salvation put up to an examination like a place in the Civil Service, and only those allowed to pass who are as good as you are? Are all beneath your level to perish? I am speaking to you based upon your own reasoning, I feel sure that you love your fellow men enough to say, “No, let the plan of salvation be such as to save the most reprobate of men.” Then, I ask you, what plan could there be except this one, that God freely forgives for Christ’s sake even the greatest offenders if they turn to him and put their trust in his dear Son? We have here a gospel which reaches to the lowest depths and saves to the uttermost.
26. But I shall raise another argument. Would any other salvation than that which I have preached suit any man? Oh excellent sir, would any other, after all, suit you? I admit, and I admire your excellencies; I wish that all men were such as you are, rather than dissolute and depraved; but, sir, can you really sit down in the peace and quiet of your room, and as a thoughtful man weigh your own character in the scales, and say that it is so perfect that you could die with it in perfect peace, and stand before your Maker without fear? I am sure it is not so. It is very remarkable that some people who have been exceedingly moral have never seen their sinfulness until they have been on the borders of the grave, and then they have understood eternity, and have abhorred themselves in dust and ashes. I have heard of some who, in the very hour of imminent peril of death by drowning, have in the act of sinking seen the whole panorama of their lives pass before them, and they have seen, as they never saw before, the evil nature of what they previously thought so excellent: then they have said, “I must be saved by the merits of Jesus; I cannot be saved by my own merits.” My dear friend, whoever you may be, I am not about to criticise you, but I must believe God’s word before I believe your estimate of yourself; and as God’s word has declared that you have sinned, and are condemned, I am sure that for you, as well as for the rest of your fellow men, there is no plan of salvation at all available except that of salvation by the free mercy of God, through Jesus Christ his Son.
27. Now, observe a few of the beauties of the plan of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. It prevents men from having low thoughts of sin, because if a man says, “I have not kept this law of God perfectly, but still I have done very well, and any mistakes I have made are little sins; God is merciful, he will wipe them out,” — he is sure to be a believer in self-salvation. It always is connected with narrow thoughts of sin. A man knows he has sinned, but he thinks little of the wrong; he cannot believe that sin is such a great evil that men should be cast into hell for it. He kicks against the doctrine of damnation, he will not believe it is just, because he does not know and will not admit that sin is a great and tremendous evil. As long as the idea of self-salvation exists, sin is lightly thought of; but oh, when we see that sin could not be put away until the incarnate God himself hung upon the tree and bled to death for men, then we see sin in its true colours, and loathe it as a deadly thing, and with our joy for pardoned guilt we mingle abhorrence of the sin which required such an atoning sacrifice.
28. The plan of salvation by grace has this beauty about it, that it gives men high thoughts about God. In the other system their idea of God is that he is very much like themselves. See the Catholic’s God. He is pleased with candles and delights in incense; he is a God who likes show and gewgaws, garments of blue and scarlet, and dolls dressed up, and flowers on his altars. I do not know what kind of God to call him. However, that is their notion of him. They try to save themselves, and they pull down God to their standard; and every man who is a self-saver, even if he is a Protestant, lowers God in some manner. He imagines that God will accept something short of perfection. Each man has a different standard. That miserly old gentleman — his standard is that he will build a row of almshouses with his mouldy leavings, and that will satisfy the Most High. Another says, “I never open my shop on a Sunday.” Perhaps he cheats enough on Monday to make up for it, but Sunday’s rest, that will do for his God. Another, who is living a wicked life in private, believes the doctrines of grace, and that will satisfy his God. But the man who is saved by the grace of God says, “My God is infinitely just; nothing will satisfy him except a perfect righteousness; as a moral lawgiver, he will not put away sin until he had laid punishment upon one who stood in the sinner’s place. He is so loving that he gave his Son; he is so just that he killed his Son on my behalf.” All the divine attributes flame forth with splendour before the eyes of the man who is saved by faith, and he is led to reverence and to adore.
The way of salvation by grace, beloved, is the best promoter of
holiness in all the world. “There,” says that gentleman, “I went to
hear Spurgeon in the Tabernacle this morning, and he was crying out
against salvation by good works. Of course, the worst results will
come from such teaching.” Ah, that has been the cuckoo-cry from the
very first, whereas salvation by grace, promotes good works far
better than the teaching of salvation by works ever will, for those
who hope to be saved by their works have generally very scanty works
to be saved by, and those who set works aside altogether as a reason
for hope, and look to grace alone, are the very people who are most
zealous to perform good works, and I will tell you why. Who loved
Christ best at the Pharisee’s feast? Simon, the Pharisee, who had
kept the law? Ah! no; he was to be saved by his doings, and yet
Christ said to him “You gave me no kiss; you gave me no water to wash
my feet.” Simon did not love the Master. He did what he did because
he thought he ought to do it and must do it; but there was a poor
woman there who was a sinner, and she had had much forgiven, and
it was she who washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with
the hairs of her head. Simon shows how self-righteous men love the
Saviour: they do not even wash his feet or kiss his cheeks; but those
who are saved by grace love Jesus, and therefore kiss his feet and
bathe them with their tears, and would willingly lay down their lives
for him. Law! There is no power for holiness in it! Law drives our
spirits to rebellion, but love has magic in it. Has God forgiven
me? Did Christ die for me? Am I God’s child? Has he forgiven me, not
because of anything I did, but just because he would do it, out of
love for my poor guilty soul? Oh God, I love you. What would you have
me to do? There speaks the man who will perform good works, I warrant
you, sir; and while he will tread underfoot with the deepest
detestation any idea that he can merit anything from God, he is the
man who will lay himself out, as long as he lives, for the honour of
that dear Lord and Master by whose precious blood he has been
redeemed. The law does not furnish me with a constraining
principle, but the gospel does. The law treats me like a mere
hireling, and a hireling never can serve with the zeal which is born
from love. There is a better place with double wages, and naturally
enough the servant leaves your house, but your child will not. You
do not give your child wages, and you do not bind him by indentures
or agreements. He loves you, and his sense of your love leads him to
a tender obedience, and what he does is doubly sweet to you.
Missionaries and martyrs have done and borne for love’s sake what law
could not have forced from them. Oh yes, the doctrine of salvation by
grace, by teaching men to love, transforms them, and makes new
creatures of them. I have seen it hundreds of times. There are some
here, but I will not speak of them, but of cases similar to theirs.
They have been to a place of worship, and they have been preached to
about their duty, and they have read the Bible, and have thought it
was all about what was required from their own efforts, but all the
while they have felt no obedience of heart, no love for Christ, and
no joy in God. But those same people have heard the gospel, and found
that there is nothing to do, that Jesus Christ had done it all, that
sin was put away by his death, and righteousness was established; and
they have just taken what God has presented to them, and believed in
Jesus and been saved, and from that very moment the difference has
been evident. They have cried, “I never felt any love for God before,
but now I do. I love him with all my soul for what he has done for
me.” You hear them say, “I used to go to the house of God as a matter
of duty, and I might almost as well have been away, for it was no
enjoyment for me; but now I go as a matter of privilege, and I take
my heart with me and sing God’s praises with all my soul, because he
has done so much for me.” Those people will tell you that, whereas
they resolved to be good, and to give up vice, and to practise
virtue, they never did it until they believed in Jesus; and when they
believed in him, love for him made service easy, and sin hateful, and
they became new creatures in Christ Jesus, by the Spirit’s power.
There is the essence of it all. If you want to get rid of the guilt
of sin, you must believe in Jesus; but equally, if you wish to be
rid of the chains of sin, the tyranny of your passions, the
domination of your lusts, you must believe in him, for from his side
there flows not merely blood but water — blood to take away your
criminality, and water to take away your tendencies to sin — so that
henceforth you shall not serve sin, or live any longer in it. It is
all there in that pierced heart; it is all there in that crimson
fount, opened on Calvary’s bloody tree. Look to Jesus, and you shall
be saved. It is all in that nutshell.
“There is life in a look at the crucified One.”
I may never have an opportunity of preaching this gospel to some of
you again: it may be the first time you have heard it, and perhaps
the last. Oh sirs, I charge you to accept it, and may the Spirit of
God constrain you to do so. We will meet in heaven if it is so; but
if you put it from you, you are like a man who flings away the only
life jacket that can keep him alive in the angry flood; you put from
you the only medicine under heaven that can heal your soul, for I am
holding up before you the only gospel in the world. If any man
preaches any other gospel, let him be accursed. Intolerant! I am
content to be as intolerant as my Master, and he asked me to say, “He
who believes and is baptised shall be saved; he who does not believe
shall be damned.” “But may I not be saved some other way?” No, sir,
“But may I not reject with impunity what you have preached?” No, sir;
it is at your peril and as God as my witness I will put it very
plainly before you. You must believe in Jesus, and if you reject him
your blood is upon your own head, for there is no other way of
salvation. May the Lord grant that you may receive it, for Jesus’
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ga 3]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 84” 84 @@ "(Song 3)"]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — Christ And His Righteousness” 554]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Solid Rock” 549]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3564, “Publications” 3566 @@ "The Interpreter"]
[a] Bastille: Name of the prison fortress built in Paris in the fourteenth century, and destroyed in 1789. OED.
Now ready, Price One Penny each, Spurgeon’s Illustrated Almanac. For 1874; and John Ploughman’s Almanac.
London: Passmore and Alabaster, 4, Paternoster Buildings.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 84 (Song 1)
1 How pleasant, how divinely fair,
Oh Lord of hosts, thy dwellings are!
With long desire my spirit faints
To meet the assemblies of thy saints.
2 My flesh would rest in thine abode,
My panting heart cries out for God;
My God! my King! why should I be
So far from all my joys and thee?
3 Bless’d are the saints who sit on high
Around thy throne of majesty;
Thy brightest glories shine above,
And all their work is praise and love.
4 Bless’d are the souls that find a place
Within the temple of thy grace;
There they behold thy gentler rays,
And seek thy face, and learn thy praise.
5 Bless’d are the men whose hearts are set
To find the way to Zion’s gate;
God is their strength, and through the road,
They lean upon their helper, God.
6 Cheerful they walk with growing strength,
Till all shall meet in heaven at length,
Till all before thy face appear,
And join in nobler worship there.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 84 (Song 2)
1 Great God, attend while Sion sings
The joy that from thy presence springs;
To spend one day with thee on earth
Exceeds a thousand days of mirth.
2 Might I enjoy the meanest place
Within thy house, oh God of grace!
Not tents of ears, nor thrones of power,
Should tempt my feet to leave thy door.
3 God is our sun, he makes our day;
God is our shield, he guards our way
From all th’ assaults of hell and sin,
From foes without and foes within.
4 All needful grace will God bestow,
And crown that grace with glory too;
He gives us all things, and withholds
No real good from upright souls.
5 Oh God, our King, whose sovereign sway
The glorious hosts of heaven obey,
And devils at thy presence flee;
Bless’d is the man that trusts in thee.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 84 (Song 3) <148th.>
1 Lord of the worlds above,
How pleasant and how fair
The dwellings of thy love,
Thy earthly temples are!
To thine abode,
My heart aspires
With warm desires,
To see my God.
2 Oh happy souls that pray
Where God appoints to hear!
Oh happy men that pay
Their constant service there!
They praise thee still;
And happy they
That love the way
To Zion’s hill.
3 They go from strength to strength,
Through this dark vale of tears,
Till each arrives at length,
Till each in heaven appears:
Oh glorious seat,
When God our King
Shall thither bring
Our willing feet.
4 To spend one sacred day,
Where God and saints abide,
Affords diviner joy
Than thousand days beside:
Where God resorts,
I love it more
To keep the door
Than shine in courts.
5 God is our sun and shield,
Our light and our defence;
With gifts his hands are fill’d;
We draw our blessings thence;
He shall bestow
On Jacob’s race
And glory too.
6 The Lord his people loves;
His hand no good withholds
From those his heart approves,
From pure and pious souls:
Thrice happy he,
Oh God of hosts,
Whose spirit trusts
Alone in thee.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Gospel, Received by Faith
554 — Christ And His Righteousness
1 No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of thy Son.
2 Now for the love I bear his name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to his cross.
3 Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake:
Oh may my soul be found in him,
And of his righteousness partake!
4 The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before thy throne:
But faith can answer thy demands,
By pleading what my Lord has done.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
Gospel, Received by Faith
549 — The Solid Rock
1 My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame;
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, his covenant, and his blood,
Support me in the sinking flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
4 When the last awful trump shall sound,
On may I then in him be found,
Dress’d in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote, 1825, a.