A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, June 25, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon. At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *5/28/2012
God has exalted him to his right hand to be a Prince and a
Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of
sins. [Ac 5:31]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1301, “Prince and a Saviour, A” 1292]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3229, “Royal Saviour, The” 3230]
1. The same fact appears very differently to different people. Our Lord Jesus, having risen from the dead, was exalted to the right hand of God. To the Jewish priests and rulers this was a dreadful announcement. They could not endure to hear that Jesus, whom they killed and hanged on a tree, was still alive. Just as the murderer is startled at the apparition of the ghost of the man he has slain, so were these rulers altogether dismayed at the idea that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had nailed to the cross, was risen from the grave; and they were astounded at the very thought that he whom they had put to death with all the shame that they could devise was with the full might and majesty of God exalted to the highest heavens. They were cut to the heart by the announcement as though a sword had cut them in two, dividing their very bones. Full of indignation, they consulted how they could accomplish the death of those who had brought such evil tidings to their ears.
2. The fact had a very different effect upon the apostles. They were the friends of Jesus, and witnesses to his majesty; and when they were certain that, though they had seen him laid in the grave, he had risen and had ascended, and was now sitting at the right hand of God, even the Father, filled them with the greatest boldness and consolation. They might well speak in such a name, for it was assuredly divine. He who had conquered death, and opened the gates of heaven, must be able to take care of his own followers, and therefore with delight and courage they confronted his enemies in their dens. There was no need for trembling; who could harm them? They did not blush; there was nothing to blush about, for it was a triumphant cause. They did not fear; there was nothing to fear, for the name high over all in heaven, and earth, and hell, would surely protect them from all peril. What was to the rulers a source of dismay was to the apostles a reason for courage.
3. Let me now enquire of you all how this fact of the exaltation of Christ impresses you? What do you think of Christ? Since time would fail me to press this enquiry upon all classes in this assembly, I shall confine myself to those who have not yet found peace with God, and shall set the Ascended One before them, so that they may find salvation in him. That is to be my subject: this morning I want to find seekers, and by the help of God’s Holy Spirit to encourage them, to direct them, so that if possible this may be the last morning in which they shall be called seekers, and the first day in which they shall be finders, and know how sweet Christ is to those who find him, and how inestimably precious his salvation is to those who receive it by faith in him.
4. I should be very glad this morning if we could get down to business; for a great deal of hearing is not earnest hearing, but mere playing at hearing. Too many of you have ears to hear and yet do not truly hear. The word reaches the outward ear and goes no further, because you do not hear heartily and with earnest heed. Thousands of hearers are like spectators at a banquet who come into the gallery and look down upon the guests who are feasting below, but never taste a morsel themselves. For them there are no dainties for actual tasting: they look at the oxen and the fatlings, they see the enjoyment of the feasters, sometimes they feel their own mouths watering for the good things, and they almost envy those who are banqueting; but they do not seek a place at the loaded tables for themselves, they remain onlookers. I pray this morning, and may God hear the desire of my soul, that you may all become partakers of the exceeding grace of God in Christ Jesus at this moment. May you who have fed feed again as you see the feast prepared in Christ, and may you who have never ventured to “taste and see that the Lord is good” approach the provisions of love this morning, and be fed with bread to the full. I want to see an end of mere wishes and desires, and to rejoice over the beginning of actual faith, and experience salvation. Let us get down to business, and let us have no more talk or delay. I long to see you saved and saved at once, or perhaps you may never be saved at all.
5. Seeker, you know very well that if you are ever to be saved your salvation lies in Jesus Christ. “There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved,” and you know that it is so. The point is to obtain the salvation which is in that name, and so to lay hold of Christ, so that what is stored in him may become your own. May the Spirit of God bless you now, so that while we expound our text you may be led by it to actual salvation in Christ Jesus.
6. I. First, then, let me invite you to NOTICE HIS TITLES and learn the meaning. He is called “a Prince and a Saviour.” You must know the Saviour, or you cannot be saved. It is important to you to understand the nature and character of him whom the Lord has presented to be the only salvation of guilty men. The Lord Jesus is here described to you under two instructive names which contain within themselves most of his offices and relationships; consider him now with deep attention.
7. He is called a Prince first. This tells you that he is receiving honour at this time as the reward of his sufferings on earth. While he was here below he was treated by his rebellious subjects as if he had been a felon. What a number of presents the Prince of Wales has brought home from his foreign travel; but when the Prince of Glory visited his dominions here below what did he take home with him except his wounds? “He came to his own, and his own did not received him.” The shame and the rejection are now ended, and in the glory up there our Lord Jesus is obviously a Prince, reverenced, obeyed, and honoured. Every angel in heaven delights to sing, “You are the King of glory, oh Christ!” The highest powers and potentates of the spiritual kingdom bow before him, and hail him, joyfully hail him, as Lord over all, blessed for ever. His dominion extends over all creation; all things are put under his feet; he is the Prince of the kings of the earth, yes, he is Lord of all. Think of him, then, oh seeking sinner, in this honourable position. Let your mind conceive of Christ as worthy of all the homage and reverence that you can ever pay to him. Do not approach him without serious thought and careful reverence, for though he is condescending and gentle, yet he is a Prince to whom honour and obeisance must be paid.
The title of “prince” in our Lord’s case means not only honour, but
actual power. His is no nominal prince — he has both glory and
strength. The mediatorial kingdom is given to him, which includes all
power in heaven and in earth, so that he is well called “the blessed
and only Potentate.”
His hands the wheels of nature guide
With an unerring skill,
And countless worlds, extended wide,
Obey his sovereign will.
9. Was it not said of old, “The government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” He is the Prince of the house of David, he opens and no man shuts; he shuts and no man opens. There is no limit to the power of Christ. If you seek his salvation think of him as Almighty, and remember that his power is now employed for the salvation of those who trust in him. He is exalted on high to be a Prince that he may give repentance and forgiveness of sins, so that the power which you see in him is all available for your salvation. Is this not encouraging? Does this not remove those fears which are suggested by your own feebleness? I desire that you may be led by the power of the Holy Spirit to conceive of our glorified Lord with the reverence which his honour deserves, and with the confidence which his power should command.
Remember, too, that a Prince means one who has dominion, and if
Christ is to be yours today you must let him have dominion over you.
“He must reign.” He claims to be Master and Lord to those who ask for
salvation from him; and is not the claim a just one? Whom should we
serve except the Lord who became a servant for our sakes? It must be
so, or salvation is impossible; those who serve sin are not saved,
nor can they be except by being brought to serve the Christ of God.
This know, nor of the terms complain,
Where Jesus comes he comes to reign;
To reign, and with no partial sway;
Lusts must be slain that disobey.
You must accept Jesus to be a leader and a commander for you, or you cannot win the battle of life. You must yield him loving obedience, or he will not be married to your souls. His dominion is sweetly tempered by love, so that, as the prophet writes, “You shall no more call me Baali,” that is, “My Lord,” with a hardness of rulership, but Ishi, “My Lord,” because you are my man, my husband; even so Jesus is our head and Lord, but his rule is that of supreme affection. There must be obedience to Jesus if there is faith in him, for true faith works by love. Will you render it?
11. Thus, then, Christ Jesus our Prince is crowned with honour and clothed with power, and he legally claims and exercises dominion. I pray, dear hearer, that you may pay homage before him at once as your Prince.
12. The other title of the text is “A Saviour,” and this name, it seems to me, should be very delightful to every seeking soul. Struggling into light, and prizing every ray of hope, it must be sweet to you to know that the Son of God is still a Saviour, though obviously a Prince.
13. Observe here the perseverance of the Lord’s love. He was a Saviour here below; he is a Saviour now that he has reached his throne. We read of him while on earth, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save those who were lost,” and now that he has gone we still hear concerning him, “He is able, therefore, to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him, seeing he lives for ever to make intercession for them.” He has not paused in his blessed work of love. “He is the Saviour of the body.” He was the Saviour when he wore the garment without seam, and traversed the weary miles of Palestine; he is now Saviour that he is girt about the chest with a golden band, and sits upon the throne; and he shall be the Saviour in his second advent, for which we look, even the glorious appearing of our God and Saviour. He was the Saviour when he wept over Jerusalem, he is still the Saviour, though his eyes are like a flame of fire, and he shall be the Saviour to his own redeemed when before his glance this earth shall flee away. Look up to him under that aspect.
14. Oh you who seek him, remember that our exalted Lord is a Saviour in virtue of the prevalence of the work which he achieved while here below. When he lived here among men he was able to save, but his salvation was not complete, for he had not yet said, “It is finished.” Now his redeeming work is done, and saving is a simple matter for him. Never did he so well deserve the name of Saviour as the time when he climbed to his throne. The ransom price has all been paid, and now, oh Jesus, you are the Saviour indeed. The head of the serpent has been broken beneath your heel: you indeed are the Saviour. The gates of the grave have been burst, the sepulchre is bereft of its prey, and the resurrection is brought to light; you are henceforth a Saviour to the uttermost, oh Jesus. “By your agony and bloody sweat, by your cross and passion, by your precious death and burial,” you have finished salvation, and now our spirits shall rejoice in God our Saviour. I pray that you who seek him may have grace this morning to see him in the light of a Saviour, as still pursuing the work of saving souls, but yet pursuing it only to apply the atonement which his death completed. Look at him, oh you ends of the earth, as the Saviour, for such he is, and there is no one else.
15. If he is a Saviour too, remember, this shows to trembling hearts how approachable he is. You might be abashed at coming to a prince, but you may be encouraged in coming to a Saviour. Oh you who would be rid of your sin, do you fear the Prince? Well you may, for he can punish you. But do not fear, for the Saviour will forgive you. Diseased with sin, do you think yourself unworthy of his princely presence? Yet he is a Physician as well as a Prince: therefore come where the glance of his eye or the touch of his hand will make you perfectly whole. I wish I knew how to put my Lord before you in the best of words, and describe him so sweetly that you would all fall in love with him: but, indeed, I believe him to be so beautiful that if I can only convey to you the faintest idea of him you must be enamoured by him, if you love what is good and fair. While I am describing him I feel I only put a mist around him; but, then, he is the sun, and he can break through my cloudy language, and cause your hearts to see him in all his glory.
16. “A Prince and a Saviour.” Suppose I put the words together and say, a Prince-saviour: one who is lordly and kingly in the salvation which he brings, and deals out no stinted grace, but makes us to receive from his fulness grace for grace. Turn the titles the other way, and reverse the order, and truly he is a Saviour-prince whose glory it is to save, whose kingdom and power and dominion are all turned in full force to achieve the work of rescuing his people from destruction. “A Prince and a Saviour.” This is the Christ to whom you must come, oh you who would be delivered from your sins. Look to him and live.
17. II. APPROACH HIM, THEN, UNDER THESE TWO CHARACTERS.
18. I would come to very close quarters with you who are seeking the Lord, while I urge you to approach Jesus Christ as a Prince. “And how shall we do that?” you ask. I answer, come to him at once, with the sorrowful confession of your past rebellion. You have lived I do not know how many years, you unconverted ones, without paying due homage to Jesus; you have known about him, but you have not obeyed him. Up to this moment you have resisted his love, and said, “Let us break his bands asunder and cast his cords from us.” Confess this, and be ashamed, for it is a great disgrace not to be swayed by such love as that of Christ; it is a great sin not to be in love with such an inimitable character as what shines in the person of the Son of God; it shows great moral hardness of heart, and bluntness of perception, and prejudice of soul, and ignorance of mind not to be at once the willing subject of Christ. For these many years you have said, “I will not have this man to reign over me.” Oh, may the gentle Spirit cause you now to see the folly and the sin of this conduct, and may you confess it with tearful eyes while you obey the bidding of the old Psalm, and “Kiss the Son, lest he is angry.”
19. When you have confessed the past before this Prince, then I charge you to accept his great purpose and submit to his rule. He is a Prince, therefore yield yourself to be his subject. Do you know what the object of his rule is? It is to make you love God, and to be like God. You are created, and therefore launched upon the sea of existence; you cannot help this fact or alter it; your existence has been given to you and you cannot lose it. How can this creation of yours be an eternal blessing, and the danger be removed of its becoming a never-ending curse? The answer is simple; if you are right with your Creator you are right with everything; if you are reconciled to him you will be happy in time and in eternity. But you cannot be right with your Creator until past guilt is forgiven and sin is given up, and the love of wrongdoing, the love of everything that is contrary to his pure and holy mind is destroyed in you. Now, Jesus comes in order that he may kill in you everything that is contrary to the mind of God; he comes to make you holy, indeed, to make you perfect. Will you yield yourself to his gentle purpose? Are you ready to obey his precepts by means of which his Spirit will sanctify you wholly — spirit, soul, and body? He is able to save from sin; his name is Jesus, “for he shall save his people from their sins.” Do you really wish to be saved from sin? Jesus once asked a sick man, “Will you be made whole?” It is the question which he asks of you today, dear friend. You would be glad to be saved from going to hell; indeed, that is not it; do you desire to be saved from what created hell, from what is the fuel of the unquenchable fire and the tooth of the undying worm — namely, the love of iniquity, the love of sin? Christ can save from sin as a Saviour, and lead you into the kingdom of righteousness, of which he is the Prince. Are you willing that he should do so?
If it is taken for granted that you have approached the Lord Jesus in
this way, I would next say, since he is a Prince, surrender
everything to him. Christ claims from you that if you are saved,
since it is through his redemption, you should henceforth be his. If
he has redeemed you then you belong to him; henceforth you are not
your own, you are bought with a price. It is an inevitable
consequence of being redeemed from death and hell by Jesus’ blood
that you should be Christ’s for ever. Oh! can you lift your eye to
heaven and say, “If he will have me, I will cheerfully be his?” Can
you surrender now, this morning, by the help of God’s Spirit, your
body and your soul as a living sacrifice? Can you give to him now all
that you owe, and all that you have? Could you stand at the foot of
the cross and say —
And if I might make some reserve,
And duty did not call,
I love my God with zeal so great,
That I would give him all?
He asks it of you: will you do it, oh seeking soul, will you do it? For if that is done surely then Christ is to you a Prince and a Saviour!
21. And if this is accomplished, and he is Lord, then pay your loving, loyal homage to your Prince. Behold him in his glory, where all the angels cast their crowns before him, while the elders adore him with vials full of sweet odours. If Christ is to be your Saviour he must be your prince, and you must have a loyal attachment to him, deep and true. Is this a hard thing to ask of you? I think it is the joy of my life to be the subject and the servant of King Jesus. The name of the Queen stirs the British soldier’s heart, and often in the hour of battle he has thought of his sovereign and his country, and has been willing to lay down his life; but the love of Jesus is a more intense passion by far; and the loyalty of a good soldier to Jesus Christ is a stronger force than any loyalty to earthly princes. You must have this. Do you see how right it is that you should have it? Towards such a one as Jesus we are proud to cherish a love which many waters cannot quench, a love stronger than death. Approach him, then, with loving hearts, or at least bring your hearts, and ask to have them be made loving.
22. You must also approach the Lord Jesus as Saviour. Do not proudly murmur at this. I have known some who have been willing to take Christ for their example, and as their teacher; and so far they have acknowledged him as a Prince, but they cannot tolerate it that they should confess their need of a Saviour: but you must have Jesus as a Saviour as well as a Prince, or you will be lost for ever. I do now affectionately urge the sinner who is seeking mercy to come to Christ Jesus, confessing that he needs a Savour. Look at your sin, and consider your past life with all its transgressions. Are you not ashamed of it? Are you not afraid to stand before that judgment seat where you must give an account for every idle word that you have spoken? Does not conscience fill you with trembling? Well, come and tell the Saviour; tell him all. Pour out your heart before him; acknowledge that you are undone, and condemned, unless he can in his pity obtain a pardon for you. Are you actually doing so now? Get down to business, as I have said before; make the confession now from your heart while we are still speaking.
23. When that is done, since Christ is a Saviour, believe that he is able to save you. Seeing he died the bitter death of the cross, suffering from divine justice in a most terrible manner upon Calvary, there must be in those five wounds power enough to be the death of every sin. Oh crimson blood, you must have merit enough in you to wash out crimson sin. It must be so. He who died upon the cross is God as well as perfect man, and a sacrifice offered by him must have infinite power and efficacy to remove sin. Believe this also, and when you have believed it then understand that you must submit yourself entirely to his process of salvation. He is able to save you, but he has a way of his own, and he will not save you in your way but in his way; and his way of saving you is to make you feel the smart and bitterness of sin, to make you hate that sin and loathe it, and so to turn you from it for ever. Thus he saves you: are you willing to have it so? Can you say “Farewell” this morning to the sins you have loved for so long? Is there any attraction to you yet in the prostitutes and the riotous people with whom you have spent your Father’s substance? Do you still have a lingering love for the far country, or can you bid its citizens a long farewell? Do the swine attract you? Do you have a hankering after the husks which they eat, so that you can refuse to go to Christ when he would take you away from these filthy pleasures and degrading delights? Can you say, “I cannot linger longer here; it is Sodom, and the fire will soon descend from heaven; I must flee for my life, and not look behind me; I must and will do so, for Jesus takes me by the hand and leads me on?” If you have sincerely done this and you are willing to have a divorce from your sins, Mensa et thoro, from table and bed, and hearth, and in all ways, so that sin and you shall no more be on loving terms, then, I say, if you are willing for this, all you have now to do is to trust your Saviour. Lean all your weight on him; repose your whole self on him. You see your need of him, you see his power to save you, and you know what is meant by being saved, namely, delivered from the power of sin: will you now trust him to make you pure? If you do, you have come to him as a Prince and a Saviour, and he has said, “Him who comes to me I will in no wise cast out,” and he will not — cannot cast you out.
24. This approach to the Lord Jesus should be made at this moment, where you are now. There is no need to go elsewhere, or tarry for an hour. While you are still here God’s Holy Spirit can enable you to come to Christ as your Prince and your Saviour.
25. I am putting the truth very plainly. I have scarcely used one figure of speech or a single ornament of language, but I have tried to tell you the way of salvation very plainly, and having told you the way I can do no more but earnestly ask you, will you have this Prince and Saviour or not? May the Spirit of God persuade you to give the right reply.
26. III. In the third place, NOTICE THE GIFTS OF THE LORD JESUS. He is “exalted to God’s right hand to give repentance and forgiveness of sins.”
27. Now if, dear hearer, you are distressed this morning beneath the burden of sin, I urge you to grasp at this blessed sentence, for there is honey here which shall take away the bitterness of your soul. I think I heard you say, “I would gladly have Christ as Prince and Saviour: I am willing enough; but this hard heart, this rebellious will, what can I do with them?” Listen: “He is exalted to give repentance.” This does not mean, as some have said, to give time for repentance. We must not add words to Scripture. Nor does it mean to make repentance acceptable. Look at the text, and no trace of such a meaning is there. But “to give repentance,” and repentance itself is intended, which is as much the gift of the ascended Saviour as the forgiveness which follows upon it. What is repentance? If we keep to its literal meaning it is a change of mind, but then it is a very wonderful change of mind. He can give you to change your mind about all the past, so that the things which pleased you shall grieve you, what charmed you shall disgust you, what you love you shall hate, and what you desire you shall abhor. This is his gift to his chosen: “I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them a heart of flesh; I will also give them a new heart, and I will put within them a right spirit.” What a marvellous thing this change of mind concerning the past is. He can also change your mind concerning the present and the future, so that instead of looking for present pleasure you will find your delight in future glory apprehended by faith. Do you understand me? It shall be pleasure enough for you to think of the pleasures at God’s right hand for evermore. Jesus can save you from living like the beast which does not look an hour ahead, but is content with the pasturage around it, and will even walk into the slaughter-hoiuse to be slain, so little does it know what is reserved for it. Jesus can save you from being so brutish, and make you look into the eternal future with the eye of a wise man. He can give you a good hope, and inspire you with a good object worthy of the eternity which lies before you. Christ can give such a change of mind as shall make the whole world seem new, and yourself most changed of all.
Repentance includes a most necessary sense of sin, and the Saviour can
give you this by his Spirit. He can fill your soul with the barbed
arrows of conviction until your heart bleeds with inward grief on
account of sin, or he can work more gently and make you repent by
melting you beneath the smiles of love. He can make you sing —
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.
He can work in you desires after holiness and hatred of every false way; he can take the guile out of your soul as well as the guilt out of your life; he can give you to be true and upright before him, and cleansed in the inward parts.
Jesus Christ is exalted to give everything that is included in
“repentance.” Now, if no one obtains repentance, then Christ is
exalted in vain; but someone must have it, for Christ is not exalted
in vain; why then should you not have it? You need it: your heart
seems as hard as granite and as cold as a block of ice. Well, if you
need it, why should you not have it? To whom does a man give his alms
but to the needy? Do not the wise distribute their gifts to those who
need them? If you want them come and freely take them. Repentance
will not spring out of your unrenewed heart, but the Prince and
Saviour can create it in you; come to him for it.
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.
Here I preach Christ not merely to penitent sinners, but to impenitent sinners. Oh rock, be struck with this rod! The cross can draw the waters of repentance out of stony hearts! Oh hard heart be melted with this sacred fire! The fire of Jesus’ love can dissolve the northern iron and steel of obdurate impenitence. He is exalted on high to give repentance, therefore, oh sinners, look to him for repentance.
30. It is added as his second gift, “to give forgiveness”; and the forgiveness which Jesus gives is very blessed. I urge you, seeking soul, seize each word I now say on this point. He can pass an act of amnesty and oblivion for all your sin. If he forgives you, all your transgressions shall be as though they had never been. He will make thorough work of it, blotting out every record of your sin, so that in God’s book there shall be no grieving memory of your having been a sinner at all. So powerful is the atoning blood that all manner of sin and transgression shall be forgiven to men for its sake. Sins against a holy God, sins against Christ’s love and blood, sins against conscience, sins against the law, sins against the gospel, sins which have lain in your bones from your youth up, sins of your middle age, sins of your old age, aggravated sins, black sins, damnable sins, all are gone when he says, “I have blotted out your sins like a cloud, and as a thick cloud your transgressions.” Jesus has gone to heaven on purpose to give this complete forgiveness.
31. Now notice, when full forgiveness comes it brings with it the eternal removal of the penalty. The forgiven man cannot be punished; for him there is no hell, no worm that does not die, nor fire that never can be quenched. God cannot forgive and then punish. If he removes your transgressions from you as far as the east is from the west, then who is he who shall lay anything to your charge? Who is he who can condemn? And who is he who can punish you?
With the pardon of sin there shall come also a restoration of every
privilege. All that Adam had in the garden you shall have to be
yours — not all of it to enjoy just now, but all and more than all
shall really be restored to you, for the man who wears the
righteousness of Christ and is accepted in the Beloved may not have a
paradise on earth, but he has a paradise above; for him there may be
no golden apples of Eden, but there shall be the fruit of the tree of
life, of which he shall eat for ever and ever.
What Adam had, and forfeited for all,
Christ hath who cannot fail nor fall.
He who believes on Christ Jesus shall dwell in bliss and be satisfied with the goodness of the Lord.
33. And notice once again, you shall, when forgiven, have quiet in your soul, for when you are pardoned, all the hurly burly of your spirit shall turn into a deep calm; you shall have the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding” to “keep your heart and mind by Christ Jesus.” “Oh,” one says, “I would give my eye-teeth for it.” You shall have it without giving your eyes. Give your heart: indeed, and not even give your heart as a price for it, but take the blessing freely, for it is given freely. Jesus is exalted on high so that he may grant free pardons to great offenders. I come back to that statement: if Jesus is exalted on purpose to give pardon, then if he does not give forgiveness to someone he is exalted in vain. He must therefore give it to some: why should be not bestow it upon you?
The text says, “to give repentance to Israel.” Who and what was
Israel? The people of Israel in our Lord’s time were surely the very
worst of sinners, for it was by them that the Lord was nailed to the
cross. It was the Jews who cried “Crucify him, crucify him.” It
means, then, that Jesus is exalted to give repentance and pardon to
the chief of sinners, and if I am one, if instead of blaming Jews or
the Romans I blame myself, if I take the death of Christ on my own
shoulders and say,
’Twas you my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were;
Each of my crimes became nail,
And unbelief the spear.
Then he is exalted to give me repentance and remission for my great sins.
35. Do I need to ask you, will you have these two gifts? Ah, friends, it shows how deep the depravity of the human heart is that we should have need to press our Master’s mercies on you. If sin were not a madness, it would only need the preacher to come and proclaim this blessed gospel, and you would begin to sing, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns as a Prince and a Saviour in heaven.’ ” Instead, however, of offering my Lord a joyful reception, some of you will consider it a weariness to be entreated and pleaded with. I feel in my own soul that though my Master enables me to place these things before you, you will not receive them unless his love constrains you. We can bring the horse to the water, but we cannot make him drink; and we can bring Christ before you, but we cannot make you accept him. I pray that there may be some soft relentings, some gentle meltings of your spirit this very morning, for “the word of this salvation is sent to you.”
36. My dear hearer, I may never have addressed you before; I shall be happy if at the very first assault I win your soul for my Master. Or perhaps I have spoken with you many, many times, and my voice is getting rather stale and flat for you. Well, I am sorry if I mar the message, but still it is so good that, though I stammered it, you ought still to grasp it and say, “Yes, if he is exalted to give repentance and pardon, here is my heart, Lord, pour them both into my soul at this good hour.”
37. IV. As I said to you about the titles, approach the Lord Jesus as such, so now I say about his gifts — ASK HIM FOR THEM.
Ask now, at this moment. Again I say, I want you to get down to
business, and be doing as well as listening; while I am speaking may
the Holy Spirit incline your hearts to practical obedience. At this
moment ask the Lord Jesus humbly for repentance and pardon. You
do not deserve these gifts; if he leaves you to perish he will be
just. He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have
compassion on whom he will have compassion. You have no claim on his
love, and must not set up any. Your heart is hard, and he can leave
you in your unbelief: you are guilty, and he can justly leave you to
bear your punishment. Ask humbly, therefore, not daring to claim
anything, but appealing to his sovereign grace. Sing —
Oh save a guilty sinner, Lord,
Whose hope still hovering round thy word;
Would light on some sweet promise there,
Some sure support against despair.
Ask importunately. Do not come to mercy’s gate this morning with
a cold heart and a trifling spirit. Come with this resolve, “I will
not leave the cross until my sins have left me. I will plead for the
grace of God until I obtain it. With importunity I will wrestle
Lord, I cannot let thee go
Till a blessing thou bestow.”
The angel is near this morning; seize him; grasp him; and if he seems to fling you off yet still hold him, and say, “I will not let you go unless you bless me, and bless me now!” You will get the blessing if you can pray like that: with deep humility because you are unworthy, but with violent importunity because you are in such fearful peril, and you cannot endure to be lost.
But I ask you to pray believingly, and this is indeed the heart
of the matter. Ask for remission and repentance this morning,
believing that Christ can give it, and believing that he is as
willing as he is able. If you can look up and see those dear eyes
which wept over sinners; if you can see those wounds, still open for
sinners, like so many gates of heaven, you will perceive that Jesus
still calls to you, and invites you to trust him. Do not think him
unwilling to forgive. That would be too cruel a suspicion after he
has died. Trust him wholly, only, sincerely, solely. Be finished with
those works, and prayers, and tears which you have been accustomed to
rely on. All that you ever did to save yourself must be undone.
Nature’s spinning must all be unravelled, her fig leaves will wither;
sin’s nakedness requires a better covering. Your only hope lies in
him who is Prince and Saviour. Cry at once to him —
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Thou art my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.
And — and this is the last word — ask now. Do not put me off this
morning. I am in earnest if you are not. But oh, it is your soul,
not mine, that is now at stake. I urge you to be in earnest, oh man,
and be so now. Perhaps you will never hear another pleading; it may
be this is the last Sunday you will spend on earth; and where will
you be if you reject the Saviour? Where the Sabbath bell shall never
ring out its happy summons, where the silver voice of mercy shall
never again greet you. There is another world; you will not die like
a dog; there is a judgment to come, and you will have to stand before
your Maker to give an account of all your life. There is an
everlasting punishment as surely as there is an eternal reward. Now I
ask you, and I charge you, not to go further until you have answered
this question — is it worth while to lose your soul whatever you can
gain by it? The Romans [a] when they meant to bring things to a head
with an oriental tyrant, sent their ambassador, and the ambassador
was to bring his answer back — yes or no, war or peace. What do you
think the messenger did? When he saw the king he stooped down, and
with a vine twig he had in his hand he drew a ring on the ground
around the monarch; and then said, “Step outside that ring, and it
means war with Rome; before you leave that circle you must accept our
terms of peace, or know that Rome will use her utmost force to fight
with you.” I draw a ring around you while you are sitting in that
pew, or standing in that aisle, and I demand an answer. Sinner, will
you be saved now or not? Today is the accepted time, today is the day
of salvation. Oh Holy Spirit, lead the sinner now to ask and he shall
receive, to believe, and he shall be saved. Amen and Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ac 5:17-42]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Seen of Angels — Jesus Seen Of Angels” 304]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — The Longsuffering Of God” 569]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, In Heaven — He Must Reign” 332]
[a] In 168 BC, the Romans set Popilius to Antiochus in Egypt demanding he cease his hostilites against that country otherwise he would be at war with Rome. These events are well documented by ancient writers. Editor.
Jesus Christ, Seen of Angels
304 — Jesus Seen Of Angels
1 Beyond the glittering starry skies,
Far as th’ eternal hills,
There, in the boundless worlds of light,
Our dear Redeemer dwells.
2 Immortal angels, bright and fair,
In countless armies shine!
At his right hand, with golden harps,
They offer songs divine.
3 In all his toils and dangerous paths
They did his steps attend,
Oft paused, and wonder’d how at last
The scene of love would end.
4 And when the powers of hell combined
To fill his cup of woe,
Their pitying eyes beheld his tears
In bloody anguish flow.
5 As on the tottering tree he hung,
And darkness veil’d the sky,
They saw, aghast, that awful sight,
The Lord of Glory die!
6 Anon he bursts the gates of death,
Subdues the tyrant’s power;
They saw the illustrious Conqueror rise,
And hail’d the blessed hour.
7 They brought his chariot from above,
To bear him to his throne;
Clapp’d their triumphant wings, and cried,
“The glorious work is done.”
8 My soul the joyful triumph feels,
And thinks the moments long
Ere she her Saviour’s glory sees,
And joins the rapturous song.
James Fanch and Daniel Turner, 1791, a.
The Christian, Contrite Cries
569 — The Longsuffering Of God <7s.>
1 Lord, and am I yet alive,
Not in torments, not in hell!
Still doth thy good Spirit strive —
With the chief of sinners dwell?
Tell it unto sinners, tell,
I am, I am out of hell!
2 Yes, I still lift up mine eyes,
Will not of thy love despair;
Still in spite of sin I rise,
Still I bow to thee in prayer.
Till it unto sinners, tell,
I am, I am out of hell!
3 Oh the length and breadth of love!
Jesus, Saviour, can it be?
All thy mercy’s height I prove,
All the depth is seen in me.
Tell it unto sinners, tell,
I am, I am out of hell!
4 See a bush that burns with fire,
Unconsumed amidst the flame!
Turn aside the sight to admire,
I the living wonder am.
Tell it unto sinners, tell,
I am, I am out of hell!
Charles Wesley, 1743.
Jesus Christ, In Heaven
332 — He Must Reign
1 ‘Tis past — that agonizing hour
Of torture and of shame;
And Jesus is gone up with power,
His promised throne to claim.
2 The Father heard him when he cried
From sorrow’s deepest flood;
And gave him those for whom he died,
And purchase of his blood.
3 The first fruits have been gather’d in,
The work of love begun;
But brighter years shall soon begin
Their glories course to run.
4 The name of Jesus shall be known
To earth’s remotest bound;
Nations shall bow before his throne,
And hail the joyful sound.
5 His summons shall awake the dead,
And break the captive’s chain,
Till o’er a ransom’d world shall spread
Christ’s universal reign.
William Hiley Bathurst, 1831.