A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 10, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *6/9/2012
And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with
all your heart. [Jer 29:13]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1313, “Second Word to Seekers, A” 1304]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1457, “Seekers Directed and Encouraged” 1452]
1. Last Sunday morning we gave out words of good cheer to those who seek the Lord, dwelling upon those encouraging words of the Saviour upon the cross, “Those who seek him shall praise the Lord.” [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1312, “Good News for Seekers” 1303] We aimed only at the one point of encouraging seekers, for a single object is always enough for one discourse, and the impression made is all the more likely to be permanent: we had neither time nor desire to qualify our language with discriminating remarks, which would help to show who are true seekers and who are not. One cannot reap and winnow with the same machine. I think it is therefore right that we should follow up that discourse by another in which we shall discern between those who truly seek and those who only nominally seek the Lord. Such discrimination will be useful in many ways. Perhaps, dear friend, after last Lord’s day you said, “I do not understand this promise that seekers shall praise God, for I have been seeking for these many months but I have not been able to praise him yet. Surely the promise cannot be true for me.” Rest assured, dear friend, that the promise is true for you if you are true to it. The word of the Lord is sure, there can be no question upon that point; the questions to be raised must deal with yourself and your searching, either you do not seek or else you seek amiss. Always conclude that if a general promise does not turn out to be true in your particular case there is something in you that hinders it. You must have fallen short of the character to which the promise is made; the promise itself cannot be suspected. “Let God be true and every man a liar.” You may account for your not obtaining the blessing which you have asked for using any theory which humbles yourself, but you must never suppose that the Lord will break his promise, for that would be to dishonour his holy name, deny his faithfulness, and pour contempt upon his truth. If his good word appears to fail for you, is there not a reason? Does sin not lie at the door? Is there not some idol in the inner chamber which must be searched for and taken away? “Are the consolations of God small with you? Is there any secret thing with you?” It is a general truth that proper food will build up the human body, but if food is eaten, and yet no nourishment whatever is obtained from it, we conclude that the system is thrown out of order by some inward disease. The food is good, it must therefore be the stomach or some other organ that is ailing, and turns what is good into evil. If a fire is kindled, and a person is placed close to it, and yet he declares that he is not warmed by the heat, because of this we do not entertain any doubt of the power of fire to warm the human body, but we conclude that the man has an ague or some other malady, which prevents his feeling the natural warmth of the fire. The failure of warmth cannot lie in the fire, it must be in the man, for fire must warm any healthy limbs which are held near to it. If a medicine which has been known to produce a cure in hundreds of cases is taken by an individual, and it is found to have no result, or to work in a manner contrary to its natural and ordinary effect, we conclude that either the state of the case has been misjudged, or that there is present some other potent drug which neutralises its effect. The man himself may not be aware that he is eating or imbibing what counteracts the prescription of his physician, and yet it may be so; and, therefore, the power of the medicine is not to be doubted, but the interposing substance must bear all the blame. For this reason we will try this morning to discriminate a little, with no wish whatever to grieve any seeking soul, but with a strong desire to indicate any weak point in the seeking, any counteracting habit which may be at this time preventing the soul from entering at once into the peace and joy for which it is seeking. “He who seeks finds” is an indisputable fact; but, just as all is not gold that glitters so all is not seeking which bears the name.
2. We come at once to our point by noticing the quality required in every true seeker. The verse tells us — “You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” Whole-heartedness is the quality required. Secondly, we shall show the reasons why whole-heartedness is required; and, thirdly, indicate one or two of the main hindrances to it, which we pray the Lord to remove.
3. I. THE QUALITY REQUIRED IN THE SEEKER is whole-heartedness: he must search for the Lord with all his heart. This means, I take it, three things.
4. First, in order to find the Lord there must be an undivided purpose in the seeker’s mind. See how the text runs — “You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” The purpose is one and only one. The sinner is at a distance from God, and guilt separates him from his God: he longs to draw near to the heavenly Father and to be reconciled; he therefore seeks after God, and God alone. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” “Oh that I knew where I might find HIM!” Now, the Lord is to be found by the guilty only in Christ Jesus, who is the mercy seat where God meets sinners and hears their prayers. It is there that the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and there the fulness of divine grace and truth are stored up so that we may receive from it. We must turn our eye, then, to God in Christ Jesus, and keep the eye fixed there. “My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from him.” If the eye is not focused only on Christ and in desire of salvation through him, it will be no wonder if we seek for mercy, but seek in vain. How can a man run in two ways at the same time? Brother, you must shake off from you all trust in self, for God will have none of it. You must not seek God by the works of the law, or by any supposed merit that is or ever can be in yourself, for he utterly refuses this. If you attempt to mix law with gospel, self with Christ, and merit with mercy, you will certainly miss your goal: your whole soul must concentrate itself upon this — to find God as he is revealed in Christ, a God of grace and love, the God who justifies the ungodly when he looks upon the merit of his Son, and sees the sinner’s confidence in him.
5. You must so seek the Lord as to make no provision for the lusts of the flesh and the desires of the mind. If it costs you the giving up of every pleasure that you have, yet in searching after the Lord you must seek him so entirely that you would cut off right arms and pluck out right eyes sooner than you should miss him and so miss eternal life. However sweet the sin may have been to your palate you must spit it out of your mouth, for it is as poisonous as it is pleasant, and therefore it is to be put far away from you. “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts,” for if you do you have not sought the Lord with all your heart. There must be one goal, and that must be neither self nor sin, but you must feel and say, “in God is my salvation, and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God, therefore I follow after the Lord with strong desire, even the Lord alone.”
Moreover, there must be no reservations made in this search to
gratify pride in any of its forms. If you say within your heart,
“I will only accept mercy if it comes to me in a certain way,” — you
put yourself beyond all hope of grace, for God is a sovereign, and
will do as he wishes with his own. Some will not have Christ without
signs and wonders: they demand exceptional experiences, horrible
depressions, or delirious excitements, and they will not believe
unless some marvellous thing is performed in them or before them. You
must make no conditions with God, either of this or of any other
kind. You shall find him if you will seek him, without bargains and
terms and demands, for who are you that you should demand anything of
your Maker, and lay down rules and regulations for the dispensing of
a mercy to which you have no claim? Come as you are, poor sinner, and
without any reservation submit yourself to the mercy of God in Christ
Jesus, only desiring this one thing — that you may find God and his
love in Christ Jesus.
Lord, deny me what thou wilt,
Only ease me of my guilt;
Supplicant at thy feet I lie,
Give me Christ, or else I die.
You shall find the Lord to be your help and your salvation, if you seek him as the one and only object of your desire. “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.”
7. The phrase “with all your heart” means, next, with the entire faculties of our being. A man must seek after God in Christ Jesus with his entire nature. David said, “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you.” If one part of the man refuses to seek the Lord, and remains reserved for Satan, then the evil one has a lien upon the whole man. Here is a little bird, and it tries to fly into the open air, but it is not free. And why not? Its wings are loose, see how it flutters; its head is not bound, hear how it sings; and this foot is free, too — why is it not at liberty? Do you not perceive that the other leg is bound by a thin twine? True, it is only held by that single thread, but yet it is not free. The whole bird is bound, because that one foot is held by that single thread; and as long as a man of free choice gives up any part of himself to the power of sin, and keeps back any part of his nature from seeking after God, he is not really seeking the Lord at all, but remains a slave of sin. Oh man, if you wish to find God, set your faculties upon the search, marshal your powers, muster your forces, and let your entire nature, body and soul, search after Jesus Christ, as the merchantman seeks goodly pearls. Set your thoughts at work, and let them search the Scriptures. Arouse your understanding and endeavour to comprehend your danger and to know your remedy. Set your wits to work: let your ingenuity and your research be brought to bear on heavenly things, for maybe when you understand the gospel you will believe and have peace. An enlightened judgment is a great help towards faith. Many a man remains without peace because his understanding has never been exercised upon the gospel and divine things, but if he would think them over, meditate upon them and ponder them in his heart, by the enlightening of the sacred Spirit new light would flash into his soul, and he would see and believe. “Do you understand what you are reading?” is an important question, and suggests that in the search after salvation the understanding should be called into play. Do not expect to be saved as dumb driven cattle, but as a reasonable man, and therefore apply your reason and understanding to divine things, asking the Lord to teach your reason right reason, and to give your understanding a right understanding of his word.
8. It will be good for a man in seeking the Lord to use his memory and his conscience. Let him go over the list of his past sins, and recall the wanderings of his heart, the follies of his tongue, the iniquities of his hand. Maybe memory will call up conscience, and become the mother of repentance. The memory of the sinful past will by the Spirit’s grace create a penitent present. Do not forget, I urge you, to remember your former days, for God requires what is past. Remember, too, what God has done by way of mercy for others. Think of friends and companions who are saved. Remember the grand old records of inspiration: turn to the Bible and see how God has saved seeking souls, and your memory may thus foster faith in you by the work of the Spirit of God. The text asks you to search “with all your heart,” and your memory, as one of the faculties of your mind, should assist in the search.
9. As for your will, how necessary that this also is captured and compelled to join heartily in the pursuit. It is a stubborn thing and will not readily bend, but how can you expect to find mercy if you are not willing to submit to God’s rebukes, and accept his methods of salvation? Bring out my Lord Will-be-Will and let grace cause him to submit himself. Though he was once Lord Mayor of Mansoul, he must bare his neck to the yoke of Christ, and acknowledge that the will of the Lord is higher than man’s will. Make him say, “Not as I will, but as you will.” As for every other faculty that you have, if you are indeed in earnest, let it be aroused. Do not leave a single part of your nature behind you when you come to God, but seek him with your whole heart, with intense eagerness and strong desire. “My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commandments with you; so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you shall understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”
10. I have now given you two meanings for the phrase, to seek the Lord with all our heart: it indicates an undivided object and the entireness of our faculties in the search. But, thirdly, it indicates mainly aroused energy. “When you shall search for me with all your heart you shall find me.” It includes the getting out of that dull, sluggish, indifferent spirit which seems so common. Indifference to eternal realities seems to impregnate the very air we breathe in this sleepy world — sleepy I mean concerning spiritual and divine things. We are busy about a thousand things, but sluggish about our souls. Yet do not be deceived, if men are to be saved it will not be accomplished while they slumber, nor will mercy be found by listless, careless, lackadaisical search for it. Not until the Spirit of God sets a man searching does he become earnest, intense, fervent, vehement, and strives to enter in at the strait gate, “for the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” He who would be saved must be resolved to escape from the wrath to come. It must come to this with you — that you will not rest until you find Christ and eternal life; for you cannot endure to be damned, and therefore you are determined that if there is on earth or in heaven any remedy for your soul’s sickness, you will have it if seeking can obtain it. When the Lord has made you resolute like this you will need to have perseverance, to follow hard after him until you have beheld his face in peace. If you have once read the Scriptures to find Christ in them, you will read them again and again, and dig the field of the word over ten times until you find the hidden treasure. If you have once prayed for grace and peace you will pray again and again, and again, and again, until your knees are sore rather than miss the blessing. If you have heard the word preached many times and yet it has not brought peace to your soul, you will be early and late in your waiting at the posts of Jehovah’s doors to hear those glad tidings of which it is written, “Hear, and your soul shall live.” There will be in your spirit a determination that cannot be shaken, a desire which cannot be appeased. We must be importunate, like the widow with the unjust judge, or the man at midnight with his friend, for importunity prevails. “Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out your heart like water before the Lord.” If you cannot rest until you receive the kiss of pardon, you shall soon obtain it. If you cannot relax until you are taken into the Father’s house and admitted to be his child, you shall soon rejoice in the adoption. May the Lord be pleased to arouse all seekers to passionate earnestness, for when they are filled with travail of soul they shall obtain mercy. If you are content to go without salvation you shall go without it, but if your soul longs, yes, even faints for it, you shall have it.
11. There are some poor souls who will, perhaps, be distressed with these remarks about energetic seeking. They are constitutionally weak and feeble in all that they feel and do, and therefore they will say, “Alas, Sir, I am afraid I never was so earnest as you describe. I am a poor feeble soul, and very low in spirit. I fear I have no such eagerness and energy.” No, dear trembler, and I would not have you misunderstand me, for the force I am now commending is not physical, but spiritual, and rather that of weakness than of strength. Have you not heard that once upon a time two knocks were given at mercy’s door, and he who kept the door opened to one in an instant, but to the other there was no reply. The knock to which the door was opened was only a gentle one, and scarcely could be heard by those outside the gate, yet it evidently struck some secret spring upon the door, for its sound thundered along the palace halls. The second knock was very loud, and was heard by all who stood around the door, but it commanded no answer from within. Then he who had knocked like this marvelled, and enquired of him who kept the gate and said, “How is it that I have knocked so loudly and yet have not entered, while the trembling woman whose knock was very soft and low obtained immediate admittance?” Then he who kept the door answered, “She who knocked so feebly, yet knocked with all her might. Her strength was little, but it was all she had, and therefore it sounded powerfully within these palace walls. As for you, you have exerted much energy, but it was not your all, and therefore there is no response to you. Take the hammer of the gate with both your hands, and throw your whole soul into each blow, and see if the door does not yield you admittance.” He did so, the gate flew open to him, and he entered into the place which his feeble sister had already gained. If you seek God with all your heart, whether your heart is strong or feeble, you shall find him.
12. II. Secondly, we have to consider THE REASON FOR THIS REQUIREMENT.
13. The requirement is so natural that it needs no excusing, it must recommend itself to every thoughtful person; but since it may help us to be earnest if we are told why it is required of us, I would answer first, that in every other pursuit where the object is at all worthy of a man’s efforts, whole-heartedness is required. I knew a man who had a business, but if you called to see him upon any matter you seldom found him in: he was taking a holiday, or else he had not risen. He made an appointment with you, but he never kept it, or came in so late that you were weary with waiting. Commissions that he was entrusted with were often left unexecuted for weeks on end, or attended to in a slovenly manner. Do you wonder that when I passed by his shop one day I saw the shutters closed, and learned that he had failed? Do you not know that success in life depends upon earnestness in it? Do you not teach your sons this important lesson? And if it is so in the lower things of this mortal life, how much more is it in the matters of the world to come? No man becomes learned by sleeping with a book for his pillow, or famous by slumbering at the foot of the ladder of honour. You find everywhere that the kingdom of this world suffers violence, and never more so than in these days of increasing competition. Surely you cannot expect that if you must run for this world then you may creep and win the next! No, no, you shall find the Lord, seeker, if you seek him with all your heart, but not otherwise. Spiritual sluggards shall starve; labour, therefore, for the food which endures to eternal life.
14. The danger from which the need to escape is so great that the utmost earnestness is not too much. Consider for a moment the imminence of our peril and the overwhelming nature of it. The unsaved man lies under the wrath of God, and if any man only knew what the wrath of God is, he would think Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace to be cool compared with that burning oven. He is in instant danger of death and of the judgment, and of that second death which follows on the heels of condemnation and consists in banishment from the presence of God and the glory of his power. Oh, if a man only knew while he lived what it is to die — if he could only guess what it is to stand before God’s judgment bar, and if he could have an inkling of what it must be to be cast down where their worm does not die and their fire is not quenched — this would surely make him seek the Lord with all his heart. Oh man, if you were in a burning house you would be eager to get out of it; if there seemed a probability that you would sink in a river you would struggle desperately to get to shore, how is it then that you are moved so little by the peril of your soul? Man is aroused when his life is once known to be in peril, how much more earnest ought he to be when eternal life or eternal death are the solemn alternative. “What do you mean, oh sleeper? Arise, and call upon your God!”
15. Look, moreover, at the greatness of the mercy which you are seeking. It is none other than pardon for all your sins, perfect righteousness in Christ Jesus, safety through his precious blood, adoption into the family of God, and eternal enjoyment of the presence of God in heaven. Those who seek for pearls, and gold, and precious stones, use all their eyes and all their wits, but what are those gaudy toys compared with these immortal treasures? How ought a man to seek after heaven and eternal life? Should it not be with all his heart?
16. Remember that in this matter everyone else is in earnest. Poor seeker, everyone whom you have to do with in this matter is in earnest. Look down on hell’s domain and see how earnest Satan is to hold you and to ruin you! How diligently the enemy baits his hooks and sets his traps to catch the souls of men! How he crosses sea and land to hold his captives lest they escape. See how earnest on the other hand Christ is! He proved his earnestness by a life of toil by day and of prayer by night; by hunger, and thirst, and faintness, and bloody sweat. The zeal of God’s house had eaten him up; he was earnest even to the death for sinners. And God is in earnest: there is no mockery with him, or carelessness or indifference about human souls. When he speaks of the sinner’s perishing, he cries out with a solemn oath that he has no pleasure in their death; but if to the last they refuse his love and defy his justice he will not trifle with them, but will judge in earnest and punish in earnest. Has he not said, “Beware therefore, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there is no one to deliver.” The majesty of his power is revealed in flaming wrath against transgressors; hell is no trifle, and his wrath is no small matter. Heaven and hell, then, are in earnest, and so must you be if you would find salvation. Shall we who have to tell you to escape from the wrath to come pray to be in earnest, and shall we never feel earnest enough, but always cry that we may be seized with an even more intense passion for your welfare; and shall it seem to you to be a commonplace affair — a thing that you may leave alone and let happen as it may? Oh, sirs, if you talk like that, the madness of sin is very obvious in you; may the Lord make you sane.
17. Where everything is in earnest be in earnest too. You have been earnest enough and whole-hearted enough in the ways of sin. Think of yourself as engrossed with those things of which you ought to be ashamed. Have you not been earnest indeed there? Concerning this world you have risen up early, and sat up late, and eaten the bread of carefulness. When you went into sin, did you not sin with both your hands? Perhaps I speak to some here who could never sin enough. When they were in company they were ahead of all others — ringleaders in every kind of wickedness. It was not enough for them to be as common sinners, but they were known by everyone to be the boldest and most daredevil of all the crew. They led the vanguard in the march to hell. And sirs, are you going to reveal all that earnestness in reviling and rebelling against God, and is there to be no warmth, no ardour, no strong excitement of your nature when you seek the Lord and his grace? Think of this, and chide your laggard steps!
18. Besides, look, sirs, how can there be anything true about your seeking if it is not whole-hearted? Here is a man who almost repents of his sin, or half repents of it. Does that not mean that he does not repent of it at all? How can there be repentance of a deed to which half the heart is still wedded? If only half the heart seems to be separated from sin, it is only a seeming; the man’s whole heart in truth still loves his sin. And how can there be half-hearted faith? He who half believes, does not believe at all. If you say, “I almost believe,” where is your faith? “If you believe with all your heart you may” be baptized and added to the church; but if you believe half-heartedly, what kind of faith is this? For a man half to turn from sin and half to turn to God, is that conversion? No, he has not turned to God who has only half turned to God. He remains where he was, only probably he has added hypocrisy to his other sins. He who leaves half his heart behind him when he comes to God does not come at all. “Their heart is divided, now they shall be found faulty.”
19. See yet again, my brethren, you who are seeking the Lord; there must be whole-heartedness in your seeking, because what you seek if you obtain it is a whole-hearted thing. Hear how true Christians pray. Do they pray with half their hearts? No, for one says, “I have sought you with my whole heart.” So say all the saints. They know that if they ask in a chilly way they are asking to be denied, and therefore they besiege heaven with all the power of prayer. They knock and knock again with fervour and importunity when they wish to obtain what they need. They say with wrestling Jacob, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Prayer is the vital breath of the Christian, and if he cannot pray without whole-heartedness, then it is clear that to have spiritual life, you, oh seeker, must give all your heart to it.
20. Obedience to God in the believer is whole-hearted. What does David say? “I will keep your precepts with my whole heart.” There is no doing the will of God with half a heart. That would be such an obedience as he could not accept in any way. It would be a sign of formality and hypocrisy, but not of sincerity. Genuine Christians love God with all their heart. What is the demand of the old law, but “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?” To love God with half your heart would be another name for not loving God at all. Love for God is the proof and test of a believer, but how can you have it if even in your seeking your heart is divided? When believers praise God, they do it in the manner of the psalmist who said, “I will praise you, oh God, with my whole heart.” What other songs can have music in them to the ears of the God of truth? All ten stringed instruments must be vain if the heart does not praise. “Unite my heart to fear your name,” said the holy man; and we must pray the same, for the Christian life is impossible without wholeness of heart.
21. Only imagine for a moment that I were permitted to come here and say to you sinners, “God is very easily entreated, and if you seek him, no matter in what cold and careless way, he will be found by you. You may be half asleep, but yet as long as there is a little desire in your soul, it will go well with you; you need not be very earnest or specially prayerful, or whole-hearted: you may take it very easy, it will all go well with you.” What pretty preaching that would be! Some might like it, but what kind of Christians would we produce by it? Even when we preach earnestness, a great number of professors are drowsy enough; but what would they be if we had such a slumbering gospel as this to preach? I have known people go to sleep in the house of prayer when the seats have been hard; but suppose we provided pillows for all armholes, and downy cushions for drowsy heads, who would wonder it you all went to sleep? What kind of a church should we build up if we did not tell the enquirer to seek with his whole heart, but urged him to be indifferent from the very first? Have I not reduced the whole thing to an absurdity; and do you not see at once that there must be a seeking of the Lord with all your heart if indeed you are ever to find him? May the divine Spirit, who comes as a rushing mighty wind and as a consuming fire, come upon all wavering hearts at this hour, and cause them to be eager after the things which make for their peace.
22. III. I am going to mention, in the third place, one or two of THE HINDRANCES, which stand in the way of a sincere, whole-hearted, persevering search after the Lord and his salvation.
I truly believe that a principal hindrance is presumption. The
ungodly say within themselves, “God is very merciful and ready to
forgive. We like to hear the preacher proclaim the abundant mercy of
God; we are pleased to hear him show how willing the Father is to
forgive, and how he delights to receive returning prodigals.” Yes,
and after saying this you continue in sin: your base, dastardly,
worse than brutish heart resolves to sin because God is merciful! I
do not know how to find adjectives sufficiently strong to describe
the degradation of a nature which can multiply offences because the
offended one is of a forgiving spirit. How worse than brutish are
those who say, “Because God is so merciful, therefore we will go on
in sin!” Are you not ashamed of yourselves? I am sure I am ashamed of
you that such a thought should ever cross your mind. It is so
ungrateful, so ungenerous — I was going to say, it is so devilish; but
the devil himself has never been so guilty, for he has never had any
hope of mercy. To sin because of mercy is a step lower than even
the devil has descended. Because God is merciful, therefore you will
not seek his mercy, but will continue in sin. Ah, be ashamed and be
confounded! You hear us continually say that whoever believes in
Jesus is not condemned: and you say to yourself in the secret of your
heart, “This is very easy. Only believe, and you shall be saved;
simply put your confidence in Christ,” and from this you take licence
to go on in sin. Let me put this to you again so that you may see the
baseness of such a course. Do you say, “Because the way of salvation
is so simple, therefore I will not attend to it at present. Any day
will do. I will put it off?” Oh, man, can it be that you have fallen
so low as this? Oh, the deep depravity of your spirit, that if God
is so ready to forgive, you are, therefore, all the more unready to
be forgiven; and because he frames it on such easy terms, therefore
you turn upon your heel and refuse his love. What is this but
virtually to crucify Christ afresh by sinning because he is gracious?
What is this except mocking him and spitting in his face by refusing
his salvation because it is so free? Oh, do not do so! Do not be so
unmanly, so cruel to yourself, and so unkind to the Christ of God.
“Ah,” one says, “a few words of prayer at last will do.”
While the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return.
Ah, I have often wondered how men can dare to speak like this within themselves. They seldom talk like that to others, because they dare not; but they flatter themselves in secret. How do you know that you will have the few minutes in which to utter those pious words? “God be merciful to me a sinner” may be more than you will be able to say. Beware, lest he takes you away with a stroke, for then you will not be able to raise even the shortest prayer. Some have been struck down in their sins, and those have been the very men who said, “Any time will do; I can turn to God when I please, and make my peace with him.” Many men have fallen from a height, or been killed on the railway, or drowned at sea, or paralysed by a stroke, and their souls have stood in all their naked shame before the judgment bar of God to answer for their ungodly speeches. Presumption upon the mercy of God is the reason why so many wrap themselves up in the garments of carnal security, and put far from them the evil day. May God deliver you from this great evil!
24. Secondly, many are hindered, I do not doubt, by remnants of self-confidence. If they knew that they could not save themselves they would be in earnest to seek after God and his righteousness; but they still harbour some vain notion that there must be at least a little good thing about them; at least a spark, and a great fire may come from a spark. They never were as bad as some — they were not swearers or drunkards, they have never plunged into actual lust and defiled themselves with uncleanness. Somewhere or other they have hoarded up a little supply of native goodness, and upon this they dote in a timorous, half suspicious way, and therefore they do not cry out to God with the energy of those who must find mercy in Christ or be for ever lost. He who thinks that he can swim will never seize the life jacket with the clutch of a drowning man. How fierce is the grasp of a man who is drowning, and knows that his firm hold is his only chance! How he clutches, as if his fingers should be made to go right through the board. When a man feels that nothing is left for him but God in Christ, then with earnestness he seizes upon the hope set before him.
25. I am afraid that some are hindered by a very opposite evil, namely, despair. Ah! some of you do not believe that you can be forgiven, you imagine that you never can be God’s people. If you were quite sure that you could obtain perfect peace with God — if you knew that before the sun goes down today, you might have the bright eye which looks up to heaven, and says, “There is a throne there for me,” and the placid heart that feels perfect rest in Christ — if you knew that these could be yours, would you not seek them? Well now, I want just to read a verse to you which comes before my text; and as I read it I pray the Holy Spirit to apply its comforting assurance to your soul. Look at the eleventh verse: — “ ‘For I know the thoughts that I think towards you’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil.’ ” Oh, if God’s thoughts towards you are good, come to him now, and kiss his feet. The prodigal, when he was returning home, did not doubt that his father would receive him somehow or other, even if it were as one of his hired servants. He knew that he would be received somehow, and he was willing to be received in any way.
26. Come, poor soul, the Lord will receive you, whoever you may be. If with your whole heart you consent at once to trust the Lord Jesus, he will receive you. Yes, he will show you how to trust, he will give you faith, and give you the blessing which your faith looks for. Why should you not meet your Lord in these pews this morning? Why, before you descend the steps of the Tabernacle, should you not breathe the prayer of faith, and lean your weight upon the cross of Christ, and find the mercy which our text declares you shall find if you seek it with all your heart?
27. Lastly, I am afraid that some people have been kept from whole-hearted seeking by the conduct of Christian professors. Let me urge you never to take your pattern — you who are coming to Christ — from those who profess to be his followers, for some of them are a sorry lot: yet let them be as bad as they may, what is that to you? You have your own soul to look after; and you have to seek Christ with all the more earnestness, because some who think that they have found him have been mistaken. It is a great pity when there are Christian people around, or those who say that they are Christians, to whom a poor seeking soul is unable to appeal because he would get no sympathy from them. I heard of one who, being ill, desired someone to visit him occasionally, and pray with him. A young man, a professing Christian, was mentioned as one who would willingly do so. “No,” said the other, “I do not want him to pray with me, for his life does not pray.” There are people of that kind all around, many of them; there are some such here. One would not have much faith in their prayers, or derive much comfort from their conversation, for, though you may hope, charitably, that there may be grace in them, it is like coal in a pit, it is a long way down and hard to get at. Their hearts are lukewarm at the best and therefore they never boil with warm and loving expressions. The genuine and healthy Christian is one who is so full of love that his heart boils over with a good matter, and others are compelled to feel that the fire of God is burning in his soul for they see and feel the effects. Oh Christian brethren, I do trust that you will see to this, because, if you are half-hearted the chill which surrounds you will freeze the hearts of many who are seeking the Saviour. Father, mother, may you not fear that you are hindrances to your children? Sunday School teachers, if you go to your class like blocks of ice this afternoon, you will have cold attention when you come to talk about Christ. If the minister preaches with icicles hanging on his lips, how can he expect that men’s hearts will be thawed by his icy words? No; we must set the example of seeking God with our whole heart — we who are his people; and then God by the Holy Spirit will bless our example to others, and they will come to seek him with their whole hearts too.
May the Lord make us to be in downright earnest, so may we hope that
towards us he will fulfil that ancient promise, “I will give them one
heart, and one way, so that they may fear me for ever, for the good
of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an
everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them,
to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they
shall not depart from me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them
good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole
heart and with my whole soul.” Think of God’s blessing us like this
with his whole heart and his whole soul. Amen, Lord, so let it be.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Lu 11:1-28]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Song Of Songs” 427]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Deliver Me” 594]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Let Us Return’ ” 605]
Jesus Christ, His Praise
427 — Song Of Songs
1 Come, let us sing the song of songs,
The saints in heaven began the strain,
The homage which to Christ belongs:
“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain!”
2 Slain to redeem us by his blood,
To cleanse from every sinful stain,
And make us kings and priests to God:
“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain!”
3 To him who suffer’d on the tree,
Our souls, at his soul’s price, to gain,
Blessing, and praise, and glory be:
“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain!”
4 To him, enthroned by filial right,
All power in heaven and earth proclaim,
Honour, and majesty, and might:
“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain!”
5 Long as we live, and when we die,
And while in heaven with him we reign;
This song our song of songs shall be:
“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain!”
James Montgomery, 1853.
The Christian, Contrite Cries
594 — Deliver Me <8.7.>
1 Mercy, mercy, God the Father!
God the Son, be thou my plea!
God the Holy Spirit, comfort!
Triune God, deliver me!
2 Not my sins, Oh Lord, remember,
Not thine own avenger be;
But, for thy great tender mercies,
Saviour God, deliver me!
3 By thy cross, and by thy passion,
Bloody sweat and agony,
By thy precious death and burial,
Saviour God, deliver me!
4 By thy glorious resurrection,
Thine ascent in heaven to be,
By the Holy Spirit’s coming,
Saviour God, deliver me!
5 In all time of tribulation,
In all time of wealth, in the
Hour of death, and day of judgment,
Saviour God, deliver me!
John S. B. Monsell, 1863.
The Christian, Contrite Cries
605 — “Let Us Return”
1 Come, let us to the Lord our God
With contrite hearts return;
Our God is gracious, nor will leave
The desolate to mourn.
2 His voice commands the tempest forth,
And stills the stormy wave;
And though his arm be strong to smite,
‘Tis also strong to save.
3 Long hath the night of sorrow reign’d;
The dawn shall bring us light;
God shall appear, and we shall rise
With gladness in his sight.
4 Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
Shall know him and rejoice;
His coming like the morn shall be,
Like morning songs his voice.
5 As dew upon the tender herb,
Diffusing fragrance round;
As showers that usher in the spring,
And cheer the thirsty ground.
6 So shall his presence bless our souls,
And shed a joyful light;
That hallow’d morn shall chase away
The sorrows of the night.
John Morrison, 1781.