A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, January 30, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *5/3/2012
Submit yourselves therefore to God. [Jas 4:7]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Jas 4:7"]
1. This advice should not need much pressing. “Submit yourselves to God” — is it not right upon the very face of it? Is it not wise? Does not conscience tell us that we ought to submit? Does not reason bear witness that it must be best to do so? “Submit yourselves to God.” Should not the creature be submissive to the Creator, to whom it owes its existence, without whom it would never have been, and without whose continuous good pleasure it would at once cease to be? Our Creator is infinitely good, and his will is love: to submit to one who is “too wise to err, too good to be unkind,” should not be hard. If he were a tyrant it might be courageous to resist, but since he is a Father it is ungrateful to rebel. He cannot do anything which is not perfectly just, nor will he do anything which is inconsistent with the best interests of our race; therefore to resist him is to contend against one’s own advantage, and, like the untamed young bull, to kick against the pricks to our own harm. “Submit yourselves to God” — it is what angels do, what kings and prophets have done, what the best of men delight in — there is therefore no dishonour nor sorrow in so doing. All nature is submissive to his laws; suns and stars yield to his behests, we shall only be in harmony with the universe in willingly bowing to his sway. “Submit yourselves to God” — you must do it whether you are willing to do so or not. Who can stand up against the Almighty? For puny man to oppose the Lord is for the chaff to set itself in battle array with the wind, or for the tow to make war with the flame. Man might as well attempt to turn back the tide of the ocean, or check the march of the hosts of heaven as dream of overcoming the Omnipotent. The Eternal God is irresistible, and any rebellion against his government must soon end in total defeat. By the mouth of his servant Isaiah the Lord challenges his enemies, saying, “Who would set the briars and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.” God will be sure to overthrow his adversaries: he may in his infinite patience permit the rebel to continue for a while in his revolt, but as surely as the Lord lives he will compel every knee to bow before him, and every tongue to confess that he is the living God. “Submit yourselves to God.” Who would do otherwise, since not to submit is injurious now, and will be fatal in the end? If we oppose the Most High, our opposition must lead on to defeat and destruction, for the adversaries of the Lord shall be as the fat of rams, they shall consume away into smoke. For the man who strives with his Maker there remains a fearful looking for of judgment and the dread reward of everlasting punishment. Who will be so foolhardy as to provoke such a result?
“Submit yourselves to God” is a precept which to thoughtful men is a
plain dictate of reason, and it needs few arguments to support it.
Yet because of our foolishness the text enforces it by a “Therefore,”
which “Therefore” is to be found in the previous verse, — “He resists
the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore
to God.” His wrath and his mercy both argue for submission. We are
both driven and drawn to it. The Romans were accustomed to say of
their empire that its motto was to spare the vanquished, but to war
continually against the proud. This saying aptly describes the
procedure of the Most High. He aims all his arrows at the lofty, and
turns the edge of his sword against the stubborn; but the moment he
sees signs of submission his pity comes to the forefront, and through
the merits of his Son his abounding mercy forgives the fault. Is not
this an excellent reason for submission? Who can refuse to be
vanquished by love? Who will not say as our hymn puts it —
Lord, thou hast won, at length I yield;
My heart, by mighty grace compell’d,
Surrenders all to thee;
Against thy terrors long I strove,
But who can stand against thy love?
Love conquers even me.
If resistance will only bring out the omnipotent wrath of God, but true submission will lead to the obtaining of his plentiful grace, who will continue in arms? I shall not tarry to carry the argument further, but aim at once to press home this precept upon you as God the Holy Spirit may enable me. I believe it to be addressed both to saint and sinner, and therefore I shall urge it home first upon the child of God, and say to all of you who love the Lord, “Submit yourselves to God”; and then we shall take a little longer time to say in deep solemnity to those who are not reconciled to God by the death of his Son, “Submit yourselves to God” if you want to be saved.
3. I. TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD, “Submit yourselves to God.” He is your God, your Father, your friend, yield yourselves to him. What does this counsel mean?
4. It means, first exercise humility. We do well to interpret a text by its context: now the context here is “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” and therefore the submission meant here must include humility, even if it is not the chief thing intended. Brothers and sisters, let us take our proper place before God. And what is that? Is it the highest seat in the synagogue? Is it the place of those who thank God that they are not as other men are? I scarcely need to reply, you who are the children of God will not dream of occupying such a position. If by reason of temporary foolishness you ever boast, I am sure, my dear friends, when you think it over in the watches of the night you are very much ashamed of yourselves, and would be glad to eat your own words. A pardoned sinner boasting! A debtor to sovereign grace extolling himself! It is horrible. Nothing can be more out of place than boasting upon the lips of a child of God. If I heard Balaam’s donkey speak I should impute it to a miracle that it should use the language of man, but that a man of God should use the braying of vanity is a miracle another way, not of God but of Satan. Is it not one of the fundamental truths of our faith that we are saved by grace? And what does the apostle say? “Where is boasting then? It is excluded.” The word “excluded” means shut out. Boasting comes to the door, it knocks, it pleads for admission, but it is excluded. Possibly through our unwatchfulness it gains a momentary entrance, but as soon as the grace of God within us ascertains that the intruder is within our gates it ejects him, shuts the door in his face, and bars him out, and in answer to the question “Where is boasting then?” free grace replies, “It is excluded, by the law of grace.” If all the good we have has been given to us freely by divine favour, in what can we glory? If we possess the highest degree of spirituality, if our life is perfectly clear from any open fault, and if our hearts are wholly consecrated to the Lord, still we are unprofitable servants; we have done no more than it was our duty to have done. But, alas, we fall far short of this, for we have not done what it was our duty to have done, and in many things we fail and come short of the glory of God. The right position of a Christian is to walk with lowly humility before God, and with meekness towards his fellow Christians. The lowest room becomes us most, and the lowest seat in that room. Look at Paul, who knew far more of Christ than we do, and who served him far better. It is edifying to notice his expressions. He is an apostle, and he will by no means allow anyone to question his calling, for he has received it from the Lord; but what does he say? “Not fit to be called an apostle.” What can be more lowly than this? But we shall see him descending far below it. He takes his place among the ordinary saints, and he will not give up his claim to be numbered with them, for he has made his calling and election sure; but where does he sit among the people of God? He calls himself “less than the least of all saints.” There is a great descent from “not fit to be called an apostle” to “less than the least of all saints”; but he went even lower, for at another time he confessed himself to be still a sinner, and coming into the assembly of sinners where does he take his position? He writes himself down as “the chief of sinners.” This is submission to God, the true surrender of every proud pretension or conceited claim. If, my brethren, the Lord has called us to be ministers, let us always feel that we are not worthy of so great a grace: since he has made us saints, let us confess that the very least of our brethren is more esteemed by us than we dare to esteem ourselves; and since we know that we are sinners let us look at our sins under that light which most reveals their heinousness, for in some respects and under certain lights there are evils in our character which make us guiltier than the rest of our fellow sinners. The stool of repentance and the foot of the cross are the favourite positions of instructed Christians.
5. Such humility is not at all inconsistent with believing that we are saved, nor with the fullest assurance of faith, indeed, not at all inconsistent with the closest communion with God. Listen to Abraham: “I have taken upon me to speak to the Lord, I who am only dust and ashes.” He has drawn very near to the Lord, and speaks with him as a man speaks with his friend, and yet he says “I am only dust and ashes.” His boldness did not destroy his humbleness, nor his sense of nothingness hinder his close approach to the Lord. My dear brethren, we know that in Christ we are accepted, we know that we are dear to God and loved with an everlasting love, we know that he hears our prayers and answers us continually, we know that we walk in the light of his countenance. But still our posture should always be that of deep humiliation before the Lord, and in the attitude of complete submission we should sit at the Master’s feet and say, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” May the Holy Spirit work this gracious submission in every regenerated soul.
Let us next observe that our text bears a second meaning, namely,
that of submission to the divine will: that of course would
strike you in the wording of the verse — “Submit yourselves therefore
to God.” Beloved Christian friends, be willing to accept whatever God
appoints. Let us each pray to be
Simple, teachable and mild,
Awed into a little child;
Pleased with all the Lord provides,
Wean’d from all the world besides.
Is it indeed so with us? Are not some of you very far from it? Are you quite sure that you are submissive to the divine will as to your position in society? Have you accepted your position in the scale of worldly wealth? Are you satisfied to be sickly, obscure, or of scant ability? Are God’s appointments your contentments? Too many professors are quarrelling with God that they are not other than they are. This is evil, and shows that pride is still in their hearts, for if they were conscious of their own deservings they would know that anything short of hell is more than we deserve, and as long as we are not in the pit of torment gratitude becomes us. It is a happy thing when the mind is brought to submit to all the chastisements of God, and to acquiesce in all the trials of his providence. Knowing as we do that all these things work together for our good, and that we never endure a smart more than our heavenly Father knows to be necessary, we are bound to submit ourselves cheerfully to all that he appoints. Though no trial for the present is joyful, but grievous, yet we ought to resign ourselves to it because of its subsequent results. Even the beasts of the field may teach us this. I read the other day about an elephant which had lost its sight: it was brought to the surgeon, and he placed some powerful substance upon the eye, which caused it great pain, and of course the huge creature was very restless during the operation. After a while it began to see a little, and when it was brought the next day to the operator it was as docile as a lamb, for it evidently perceived that benefit had resulted from the painful application. If such a creature has enough intelligence to perceive the benefit, and to accept the pain, how much more should we! Since we know that we owe infinite blessings to the rod of the covenant we ought to be willing to bare our own back to the scourge, and let the Lord do as he wishes with us. Yes, I go beyond this, even if we did not know that good would come of it, we ought to submit because it is the Lord’s will, for he has a right to do whatever he wishes with us. Can you subscribe to this? As a true child can you make a complete surrender to your Father’s good pleasure? If not, you have not fairly learned the mind of Christ. It is a great thing to have the soul entirely submitted to God about everything, so that we never wish to have anything in providence other than God would have it to be, nor desire to have anything in his Word altered: not one ordinance of the church of God, not one doctrine of revelation, not one precept or warning other than it is. We shall never be at rest until we come to this. It is essential to our happiness to say at all times, “Nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.” Brothers and sisters, ought it not to be so? Who ought to rule in the house except the Father? Who should govern in the body except the Head? Who should lead the flock except the Shepherd? We owe so much to Jesus, and so entirely belong to him, that even if it were put to the vote, all of us would give our suffrages so that the Lord Jesus should be King, Head and Chief among us; for is he not the Firstborn among many brethren? Submit, then, my brethren. Beseech the Holy Spirit to bow your wills to complete subjection. You will never be happy until self is dethroned. I know some of God’s children who are in great trouble only because they will not yield to the divine will. I met one, I believe a good sister, who said she could not forgive God for taking away her mother; and another friend said he could not see God to be a good God for he had made him to suffer such terrible afflictions. Their furnace was heated seven times hotter by the fuel of rebellion which they threw into it. As long as we blame the Lord and challenge his rights, our self-tortured minds will be tossed to and fro. No father can let his boy clench his little fist in defiance, and yet treat that child with the same love and fondness as his other children, who submit themselves to him. You cannot enjoy your heavenly Father’s smile, my dear brother or sister, until you cease from being in opposition to him, and yield the point in debate; for he has said that if we walk contrary to him he will walk contrary to us. It will be wise for you to cry, “My Father, my naughty spirit has rebelled against you, my wicked heart has dared to question you; but I cease from it now: let it be even as you wish, for I know that you do right.” So the text means first humility, and then submission to the Lord’s will. Lord, teach us both.
7. It means also obedience. Do not merely passively lie back and yield to the demands of the position, but gird up the loins of your mind, and reveal a voluntary and active submission to your great Lord. The position of a Christian should be that of a soldier to whom the centurion says “Go,” and he goes, and “Do this,” and he does it. It is not ours to question, that would be to become masters; but it is ours to obey without questioning, even as soldiers do. Submission to our Lord and Saviour will be revealed by ready obedience: delays are essentially insubordinations, and neglects are a form of rebellion. I fear that there are some Christians whose disobedience to Christ is a proof of their pride. It may be said that they do not know such and such a duty to be incumbent upon them. Indeed, but there is a proud ignorance which does not care to know, a pride which despises the commandment of the Lord, and considers it non-essential and unimportant. Can such scorn be justifiable? Is that a right temperament for the Lord’s servant to indulge? Can any point in our Lord’s will be unimportant to us? Can the wish of a dear friend be trivial to those who love him? Has Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments,” and shall I treat them as matters of no consequence? No, my Lord, if it were the lifting of a stone from the road, if it were the moving of a sere leaf, or the brushing away of a cobweb, if you ordain it, then it becomes immediately important, — important to my loving allegiance, that I may by my prompt obedience show how fully I submit myself to you. Love is often more seen in little things than in great things. You may have in your house a servant who is dissatisfied, and yet she will perform all the necessary operations of the household, but the loving child attends to the little details which make up the comfort of life, and are the tests of affection. Let your love be shown by a childlike obedience, which studies to do all the Master’s will in all points.
8. I am afraid there are some who do not obey the Master because they are proud enough to think that they know better than he does; they judge the Lord’s will instead of obeying it. Are you a judge of the law, my brother? Are you to sit on the judgment seat and say of this or that statute of the law, “This is not relevant,” or, “That may be set aside without any loss to me?” This is not according to the mind of Christ, who did his Father’s will and asked no questions. When next you pray, “Your will be done in earth, even as it is in heaven,” remember how they do that will before the throne of God, without hesitation, demur, or debate, being wholly subservient to every wish of the Most High. Thus, dear brethren, “Submit yourselves to God.”
9. The expression, however, is not well worked out unless I add another explanation, and perhaps even then I have not brought out its meaning fully. “Submit yourselves to God” by yielding your hearts to the motions of the divine Spirit: by being impressionable, sensitive, and easily affected. The Spirit of God has hard work with many Christians to lead them in the right way, they are as the horse and the mule which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle. There is the stout oak in the forest, and a storm howls through it, and it is not moved, but the rush by the river yields to the faintest breath of the breeze. Now, though in many things you should be as the oak and not as the rush, yet in this thing be as the bulrush and be moved by the slightest breathing of the Spirit of God. The photographer’s plates are rendered sensitive by a particular process: you shall take another sheet of glass and your friend shall stand before it as long as he likes, and there will be no impression produced, at least none which will be visible to the eye; but the sensitive plate will reveal every little wrinkle of the face and perpetuate every hair of the head. Oh, to be rendered sensitive by the Spirit of God, and we can be made so by submitting ourselves entirely to his will. Is there not a promise to that effect? — “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
10. Sometimes the Spirit of God whispers to you, “Retire to pray.” At such times enter your closet at once. Remember how David said, “When you said to me, ‘Seek my face,’ my heart said to you, ‘I will seek your face Lord.’ ” The Spirit of God will sometimes impel you to a duty which involves self-denial, which will take up much of your leisure, and will bring you little honour as a reward. Do not be disobedient to his call, but go about your work speedily. Say with the Psalmist, “I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.” The Spirit will at times urge us to deep repentance on account of faults in which we have been living, he will rebuke us for some ugly temper which we have indulged, or for some harsh word which we have spoken against a brother, or because of the worldliness of mind into which we have fallen. Oh, brother, bestir yourself at such times, and examine and purge your soul. Let a hint from the Holy Spirit be enough for you. As the eyes of the handmaiden are towards her mistress, so let your eyes be towards your Lord. The handmaid does not require the mistress to speak: it will often happen when she is waiting at the table, and there are friends, the mistress nods or puts her finger up, and that is enough. She does not call out “Mary, do this or that,” or speak to her loudly a dozen times, as the Lord has to do to us, but a wink suffices. So it ought to be with us; half a word from the divine Spirit, the very gentlest motion from him, should be enough guidance, and immediately we should be ready to do his bidding. In this matter it is not so much your activity as your submission to the Holy Spirit which is needed; it is not so much your running as your willing to be drawn by him. There is to be an activity in religion: we are to wrestle and to fight, but side by side with that we are to yield ourselves to the Spirit’s impulse, for it is he who works in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure; he strives in us mightily, and if we will only resign ourselves, and no longer be obstacles in his divine way, he will carry us to greater heights of grace, and create in us more fully the likeness of Christ. “Submit yourselves to God.” Learn the sweetness of lying passive in his hand, and knowing no will except his: learn the blessedness of giving yourselves up entirely to his divine sway, for in so doing you will enter into heaven below.
11. II. Now we come to that part of our discourse in which we must earnestly pray God the Holy Spirit to help us doubly. I desire now to address myself TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT SAVED, but have some desire to be so.
12. I am thankful to God that there should be even the faintest wish of the kind. May it grow at once into an impetuous longing; yes, may that longing be fulfilled this very morning, and may you go out of this house saved. You tell me that you have been anxious about your soul for some time, but have made no headway. You have been exerting great efforts, you have been very diligent in attending the means of grace, in searching the Scriptures, and in private prayer, but you cannot make any progress. It is very possible, my dear friend, that the reason is this, that you have not submitted yourself to God; you are trying to do when the best thing would be to cease from yourself, and drop into the hand of the Saviour who is able to save you though you cannot save yourself. For a proud heart the very hardest thing is to submit. Do you find it so? “No surrender” is the stubborn sinner’s motto. I have known men who would give their bodies to be burned sooner than yield to God. Their high resistance has stood out long against the Most High, and they have been little Pharaohs until the Lord has brought them to their senses. “Must I yield, must I bow at his feet?” — they could not brook such humiliation. If the gospel had tolerated their pride and given them a little credit they would have rejoiced in it; but to be tumbled in the dust, and made to confess their own nothingness they could not bear. “Submit” is wormwood and gall to haughty sinners, yet they must drink the cup or die. Hear then, you stout hearted, you can never be saved unless you submit, and when you are saved one of the main points in your salvation will be that you have submitted. I desire to whisper one little truth in your ear, and I pray that it may startle you: you are submitting even now. You say, “Not I; I am lord of myself.” I know you think so, but all the while you are submitting to the devil. The verse before us hints at this. “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” If you do not submit to God you never will resist the devil, and you will remain constantly under his tyrannical power. Who shall be your master, God or devil, for one of these must? No man is without a master: some power or other is paramount within us, either good or evil is supreme in our hearts; and if we will not be mastered by the good, the evil has already gained the sway.
13. “How then am I to submit?” one says: “To what shall I submit, and in what respects?” Well, first, submit yourself, if you would be saved, to the Word of God. Believe it to be true. Believing it to be true, yield yourself to its force. Does it accuse you? Confess the accusation. Does it condemn you? Plead guilty. Does it hold out hope to you? Grasp it. Does it command you? Obey it. Does it guide you? Follow it. Does it cheer you? Believe it. Submit yourself to him who in this blessed page proclaims himself the Saviour of all such as will throw down the weapons of their rebellion and end their futile war by relying upon his power to save them.
14. Yield yourself, next, to your conscience. You have quarrelled with your conscience, and your conscience with you. It persists in speaking, and you desire it to be quiet. After dissipation, in the lull which comes after a storm of evil pleasure, a voice is heard saying, “Is this right? Is this safe? Will this last? What will the end of this be? Would it not be better to seek some better and nobler thing than this?” God speaks often to men through the still small voice of conscience. Open your ear, then, and listen. Your conscience can do you no harm; it may disturb you, but it is good to be disturbed when peace leads on to death. He was a fool who killed the watchdog because it alarmed him when thieves were breaking into his house. If conscience upbraids you, feel its upbraiding and heed its rebuke. It is your best friend; faithful are its friendly wounds, but the kisses of a flattering enemy are deceitful.
15. God also sends many messengers. To some of you he has sent the tenderest of messengers. Listen to their admonitions and regard their kind warnings, for they intend well for your souls. Is it hard, oh son, is it hard to submit when the message comes by a mother’s loving lips, when her tears bedew each word she speaks? It must have been difficult for some of you in your young days to stand out against a mother’s entreaties when she not only pointed you to heaven, but led the way; not only spoke of Jesus, but reflected his love in her daily walk and conversation. You have a sister, young man, whom you love and respect: you could hardly tell how much an object of admiration she is to you. Now, that letter of hers, which you turned into a joke; you felt it, after all. Yield to its pathetic pleadings, yield to its tender entreaties. Remember, God has other messengers whom he will send if these loving ones do not suffice. He will soon send you a sterner summons. If you do not listen to the gentle word, the still, small voice, he can send to you by the rougher messengers of disease and death. Do not be so foolish as to provoke him to do so.
16. Moreover, submit yourselves to God, since he has, perhaps, already sent his messengers in sterner forms to you. It was only a few days ago that you lost your old friend. Many a merry day you have spent together, and many a jovial night too; he was in as good health as yourself, apparently, but he was struck down, and you have followed him to the tomb. Is there no voice from that fresh grave to you? I think your friend in his sudden end was a warning to you to be ready for a similar departure! You have also yourself suffered from premonitory symptoms of sickness; perhaps you have actually been sick, and been made to lie where your only prospect was eternity; a dread eternity is surely yours. You trembled to gaze into it, but the very tones of the surgeon’s voice compelled you to do so. You feared that you would have to leave this body, and you could not help saying to yourself, “Where shall I flee? My naked spirit, where must it go when once it leaves the warm precincts of this house of clay?” It is not my business one tenth as much as it is yours — but I charge you, hear the voice of these providences, listen to these solemn calls. The angel of death has stood at your bedside and pointed to you and said, “Young man, it is the fever this time and you may recover, but the next time you will never rise from the bed on which you lie: or, you have been rescued now from a dreadful accident, but the next time there will be no escape for you. Because I will do this, prepare to meet your God.”
17. Above all, I urge you submit yourselves, if you are conscious of such things, to the whispers of God’s Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit does not strive with every man equally. Some have so grieved him that he has ceased to strive with them, or does so very occasionally and then they so resist his strivings that they are never very long continued. The worst man who lives has his better moments, the most careless has some serious thoughts; there are lucid intervals in the madness of carnal pleasure. At such times men hear what they call “their better selves.” It is hardly so. I prefer to call it the general reprovings of God’s Spirit in their souls. He says to them, “Is this right? Is this wise? This trifling, this time killing, this depraving of the soul by allowing the bodily appetites to rule, this lowering of the man to the level of the brute, can this be right? Is there no eternity? Is there no immortality, no God, no judgment to come?” The Holy Spirit sometimes opens the man’s eyes as he did the eyes of Balaam, and makes him see the certainty of the judgment day and the nearness of its approach. The man is led to anticipate the trumpet’s sound which heralds the assize, the coming of the Judge upon his great white throne, the gathering of the multitudes of the quick and dead, the opening of the books, the dividing of the throng, the driving away of the goats to their everlasting punishment, and the reception of the righteous to their everlasting joy. Oh, when you are made to feel all this, I urge you submit yourself to it. It costs some men a great deal of trouble to be damned; and a man who blasphemes and talks infidelity, merely does so to conceal his inward struggles. Like the boy who whistles as he goes through the churchyard to keep his courage up, they talk blasphemy to divert their mind from its own fears. He who is most fierce in the utterance of his disbelief is not the greatest unbeliever. When the heathen offered children to Moloch they beat their drums to drown the cries of the victims, and even so these men make a great noise to drown the voice of conscience. The man knows better, and I charge him to let that better knowledge come to the forefront and lead him to his God and Father. It will be a blessed thing for him if it shall be so even today. “Submit yourselves to God.”
18. If you ask me again, “In what respect am I to submit myself?” I answer as briefly as I can, first submit yourself by confessing your sin. Cry “I have sinned.” Do not brazen it out and say “I have not sinned.” You will never be pardoned while that is the case. “He who confesses his sin shall find mercy.” Sinner, choose between one of two things; judge yourself, or be judged by God. If you will judge yourself and put in a plea of guilty, then the Great Judge will grant you forgiveness, but not otherwise. Condemn yourself and you shall not be condemned. Confess the indictment to be true, for it is true, and to deny it is to seal your doom.
19. Next, honour the law which condemns you. Do not persevere in picking holes in it and saying that it is too severe, and requires too much of a poor fallible creature. The law is holy, and just, and good. Put your lips down and kiss it, though it condemns you, and say, “though it charges me with guilt and convicts me of deadly sin, yet it is a good law, and ought not to be altered, even to save me.”
20. Next, admit the justice of the penalty. Your sins condemn you to hell: do not say “God is too severe; this is a punishment disproportionate to the offence.” You will never be pardoned if you think so, but God will be justified in your condemnation: the pride of your heart will be a swift witness against you. Confess with your heart, “If my soul were sent to hell it is no more than I deserve.” When you have confessed the guilt, and honoured the law, and acknowledged the justice of the penalty, then you are nearing the position in which God can be merciful to you.
21. Submit yourself, sinner — I urge you to do it now — submit yourself to God as your King. Throw down your weapons; lower your crest and cast away those robes of pride. Surrender unconditionally and say, “Lord God, I acknowledge you to be King now, no longer like stout hearted Pharaoh will I ask, ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?’ but like one brought to his senses I yield as reason and grace suggest.” It will go well with you when you make a full capitulation, an unconditional surrender. Fling the gates wide open of the city of Mansoul, and admit the Prince Emmanuel to rule as sole sovereign in every street in the city. No longer dispute his sovereignty, but pray to be made a loyal subject, obedient in all things. You shall find grace in the sight of the Lord if you will do this.
22. Furthermore, submit yourself to God’s way of saving you. Now God’s way of saving you is only by his grace, not by your merits; by the blood of Jesus, not by your tears and sufferings. He will justify you by your simply trusting Jesus now. Your proud heart does not admire the Lord’s way of salvation; you stand up and say, “How is this consistent with morality?” As if you were the guardian of morality, as if the King of Heaven and earth could not take care of morality without assistance from you. Who are you to be suddenly the champion of morality? How dare you dream that the thrice holy God will not take care of that? He tells you to trust his Son Jesus; will you do so or not? If you will not, there is no hope for you; if you will, you are saved the moment that you believe, — saved from the guilt of sin by trusting Jesus.
23. You must also surrender yourself to his discretion — to his method of operating upon you. One says, “I would believe in Jesus, sir, if I felt the horror and terror which some have experienced on account of sin.” What do you demand of God that he should drag you through horrors and terrors before you will believe? Submit yourself to be saved in a gentler way. “But I read of one,” says another, “who had a dream: I would believe if I saw a vision too.” Must God give you dreams? Must he play lackey to you, and save you in your way? He tells you plainly, “If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you shall be saved.” Will you believe or not? For if you do not, neither dreams, nor visions, nor terrors, nor anything else can save you. There is God’s way, sinner: I ask you, and perhaps your answer will settle your fate for ever, will you follow that way or not? If you will not, you have chosen your own destruction; but if you will have it, and will submit yourself to be saved by believing in Jesus Christ, it is well with you. I know there are some in this place who feel ready to burst, for their broken hearts are saying, “I yield at once. Oh, if he would only save me.” How glad I am to hear you say so, for “he gives grace to the humble.” I remember the time when I have stood and cried to God, “Oh God, if I must lie on a sickbed until I die, I do not care if you will only have mercy on me; if you will only conquer my proud will, and make a new man of me, you may do whatever you please with me; only save me from the guilt, the power of sin.” When the Lord brought me down there then he enabled me to see life and salvation in Jesus Christ; and if he has brought you down to that point, sinner, then you have nothing to do except simply trust the Lord Jesus Christ, and you are assuredly saved.
When he brings you to submit he has given you his grace. Submission
to his divine will is the essence of salvation. Now, who will yield?
Who will yield at once? The Master has come among us, the King
himself is here, your Maker, your Redeemer: see the marks of his
wounds, see the scars in his hands and feet and side! He asks of you,
“Will you yield to me? Will you throw down your weapons? Will you end
the war? Will you surrender to my discretion?” If so, he gives you
his hand and says, “Go in peace; there is peace between me and you.”
Kiss the Son lest he is angry, and you perish from the way, while his
wrath is kindled only a little. I prayed the Lord to give me many
souls, and I believe I shall have them this morning. I feel sure of
it. Grant me this favour: if you submit yourselves to Christ let me
hear about it, and do not delay to unite yourselves with those who
rejoice to be led in triumph as the captives of his grace.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Jas 4]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth” 181]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — The Penitent” 578]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, World Renounced — Old Things Are Passed Away” 654]
The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for February, 1876.
Concentration and Diffusion. Sermonette by C. H. Spurgeon.
A Few Words from Mrs. Spurgeon concerning her Book Fund.
William West, The Veteran Sunday School Superintendent. By Vernon J. Charlesworth.
On a Squatter’s Run in Victoria. An interesting Letter from Mr. Bunning of Geelong.
John Knox — Reformer and Hero. By G. Holden Pike.
The Divine Wooer and the Trembling Believer.
The Lion Fountain.
Baptist Chapel, Charles Street, Camberwell New Road, S. E.
Messers. Moody and Sankey in Great Britain.
Notices of Books.
Loan Building and Reserve Fund.
Price 3d. Post free, 4 stamps.
God the Father, Attributes of God
181 — The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth
1 The Lord is King; lift up thy voice,
Oh earth, and all ye heavens rejoice:
From world to world the joy shall ring,
The Lord Omnipotent is King.
2 The Lord is King: who then shall dare
Resist his will, distrust his care,
Or murmur at his wise decrees,
Or doubt his royal promises?
3 The Lord is King: child of the dust,
The Judge of all the earth is just;
Holy and true are all his ways,
Let every creature speak his praise.
4 He reigns! ye saints, exalt your strains:
Your God is King, your Father reigns;
And he is at the Father’s side,
The Man of love, the Crucified.
5 Come, make your wants, your burdens known;
He will present them at the throne;
And angel bands are waiting there,
His messages of love to bear.
6 Oh! when his wisdom can mistake,
His might decay, his love forsake,
Then may his children cease to sing,
The Lord Omnipotent is King.
Josiah Conder, 1824.
The Christian, Contrite Cries
578 — The Penitent
1 Prostrate, dear Jesus, at thy feet
A guilty rebel lies;
And upwards to thy mercy seat
Presumes to lift his eyes.
2 Oh let not justice frown me hence;
Stay, stay, the vengeful storm:
Forbid it that Omnipotence
Should crush a feeble worm!
3 If tears of sorrow would suffice
To pay the debt I owe,
Tears should from both my weeping eyes
In ceaseless torrents flow.
4 But no such sacrifice I plead
To expiate my guilt;
No tears but those which thou hast shed!
No blood, but thou hast spilt.
5 Think of thy sorrows, dearest Lord,
And all my sins forgive:
Justice will well approve the word
that bids the sinner live.
Samuel Stennett, 1787.
The Christian, World Renounced
654 — Old Things Are Passed Away
1 Let worldly minds the world pursue,
It has no charms for me;
Once I admired its trifles too,
But grace has set me free.
2 Its pleasures now no longer please,
No more content afford;
Far from my heart be joys like these,
Now I have seen the Lord.
3 As by the light of opening day
The stars are all conceal’d;
So earthly pleasures fade away,
When Jesus is reveal’d.
4 Creatures no more divide my choice,
I bid them all depart;
His name, and love, and gracious voice,
Have fix’d my roving heart.
5 Now, Lord, I would be thine alone,
And wholly live to thee;
But may I hope that thou wilt own
A worthless worm like me?
6 Yes! though of sinners I’m the worst,
I cannot doubt thy will;
For if thou hadst not loved me first,
I had refused thee still.
John Newton, 1779.