A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 1, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *7/29/2012
I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall
look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as
one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as
one who is in bitterness for his firstborn. [Zec 12:10]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 575, “Pierced One Pierces the Heart, The” 566]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1362, “Mourning for Christ” 1353]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1983, “How Hearts are Softened” 1984]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2683, “Bitterness of the Cross, The” 2684]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2901, “Mourning at the Cross” 2902]
Exposition on Ps 51 Zec 12:10-13:6 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2431, “Double Cleansing, The” 2432 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Zec 12:10-13:2 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2695, “Christian Conversation” 2696 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Zec 12:1-13:1 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2901, “Mourning at the Cross” 2902 @@ "Exposition"]
1. See, beloved, from where every good thing flows — “I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of grace.” The starting point is the Lord’s sovereign act in giving the Spirit. Every work of grace begins with God; no gracious thought or act ever originates in the free will of unregenerate man. The Lord is first in all things which are acceptable in his sight. It is God who “works in us to will and to do his own good pleasure.” “You have accomplished all our works in us.”
2. Then notice how exceedingly effective the work of the Lord is. Men may persuade, and even inspired prophets may warn, without effect, but when the Lord puts his hand to the work he never fails; as soon as he ever says “I will pour,” the next sentence is, “and they shall look.” When he works, who shall hinder? His people shall be willing in the day of his power. “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn.” This is effective calling indeed. In such results we see what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead.
3. Observe, thirdly, the dignity and the prominent position which is occupied by faith. “I will pour upon them the spirit of supplication, and they shall look.” Faith is evidently intended here, for faith is always that glance of the eye which brings to us the blessing which Christ has to bestow. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: so that whoever believes in him should not perish.” A look at the brazen serpent healed Israel, and, according to the type, believing in Jesus Christ is a saving look. Now, this look of faith is mentioned as the first-fruit of the Spirit; before they mourn they look; when the spirit of grace and supplication is given its principal result is looking to Jesus.
4. But now see what a choice fruit follows after faith; a soft, sweet, mellow fruit of the Spirit — “They shall mourn for him as one who mourns for his only son.” This sorrow is a sweet bitter, a delightful grief, full of all manner of rare excellencies. It is a particular order of mourning, and differs greatly from the sorrow of the world, which results in death. Those who mourn in this way are made sorry in a godly manner, for godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of. Notice, it is godly sorrow or repentance towards God. Its speciality is that it looks towards God, and weeps because of grieving him. The lamentation described in the text is a mourning for Christ. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn.” This is a very remarkable feature of true evangelical repentance; it fixes its eye mainly upon the wrong done to the Lord by its sin. No other repentance except what is evangelical looks in that direction. The repentance of ungodly men is a horror at their punishment, an alarm at the dire result of their transgressions. They repent like Esau, not of eating the pottage, but of losing the birthright; they see sin only in reference to themselves and their fellow men, but they quite ignore its higher bearings in reference to the Lord. The ungodly at times, and especially in the hour of death, feel remorse, but it has nothing to do with God, unless it is that they tremble at his justice, and fear the punishment which he executes; it is, after all, pure selfishness; they are sorry because they are about to suffer the consequences of their rebellion. Evangelical repentance sympathises with the Great Father, and grieves that he should have been so sadly provoked. See it in David: “Against you only I have sinned, and done this evil in your sight.” See it in the prodigal: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son.” See how it was accomplished in Saul of Tarsus, for the voice from heaven said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” It was sin as against the exalted Saviour which struck home to Paul’s heart and laid him low at the feet of his Lord. All true repentance has this for its special characteristic, that it is attended with evident reconciliation towards God, since it now regrets the wrongs done to him. One sure seal of its genuine spirituality is that it is a lamentation on account of the dishonour which sin has done to God and to his Christ. We are going to view the special case before us from that point of view, and work it out in three or four ways.
5. I. First, according to our text, when the spirit of grace is given, THERE WILL BE A SPECIAL MOURNING FOR CHRIST ON THE PART OF ISRAEL.
6. You must take the text in its primary meaning, for we must treat the word of God fairly. There will come a day when the ancient people of God, who have rejected Jesus of Nazareth for so long, will discover him to be the Messiah, and then one of their first feelings will be that of deep humiliation and bitter regret before God. They will mourn as at the mourning of Hadadrimmon, when the beloved Josiah fell in battle, and all good men knew that the light of the nation was quenched. “The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was caught in their snares, of whom we said, ‘Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.’ ” They justly mourned for pious Josiah, for he was the last of their godly kings, and the full shower of wrath began to fall upon Judah when he was taken from the evil to come. It will be very well also for them to mourn bitterly as a nation, when they discern the Lord whom they have pierced, for is there not a good reason? They had a particular interest in the Messiah, for it was to them, and almost to them only, that his coming was clearly revealed. God spoke of him to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and their forefathers. It was from their nation that the Messiah was to come. It is no small honour to Abraham’s seed that the man Christ Jesus is one of them. It was a Judean virgin of whom he was born, and to Israel he is indeed bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. When he came on earth, he confined his ministry to them; of them he said, “I am only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He healed their sick, he opened the eyes of their blind ones, and raised their dead. It was in their streets that he delivered his gracious messages of love; and when he was gone it was in their chief city that the preaching of the gospel began, and the Holy Spirit was poured out. “Go and teach all nations,” he said, “beginning at Jerusalem.” It was from among the Jews that the first vanguard of the church’s host was chosen. The first to preach the gospel were from the house of Israel, and they might have been to this day in the very forefront of the army, particularly adapted as they are in many respects to lead the way in the teaching of a pure faith, but they considered themselves to be unworthy, and therefore the ministers of Christ, though chosen from themselves, were obliged to say, “We turn to the Gentiles.” Then came their casting away for a time, during which season their own Messiah is despised and blasphemed by the nation which ought to have received him with exaltation. “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.”
7. Their rejection of the Lord Jesus was most determined, and carried to the utmost length. It was not sufficient for that generation in which Jesus lived to turn a deaf ear to his admonitions, they needed to seek his life also. Once they would have cast him headlong from the brow of a hill, at another time they took up stones again to stone him, and at last they took him and bear false witness against him, fiercely seeking his blood. By their malice he was given over to the Romans and put to death, not because the Romans desired to kill him, but because the clamour of the multitude was, “Crucify him, crucify him”; and their voices prevailed with Pilate. They imprecated on their heads his blood, saying, “His blood be on us and on our children.” They pushed the rejection of the King of the Jews to the utmost possible extreme, for they did not rest until he hung upon the shameful tree, and life remained no more in him. Peter said, “And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance you did it, as your rulers also did.” How bitterly then will they lament when that ignorance is removed! They will mourn as one who has lost his firstborn and only child, as for a loss never to be reversed.
8. Worse still was this, that their ignorance was to a large extent wilful, for Jesus was rejected by them against the clearest possible light. John came as a voice crying in the wilderness, and all men knew that John was a prophet. Those who most hated Jesus of Nazareth were even afraid to say that John was not sent by God. Yet he bore witness of Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Moreover, Jesus himself spoke as no other man spoke; his teachings carried their own evidence within themselves, so that he justly said, “If I would not have come and spoken to them, they had not had any sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin.” His words were accompanied, also, with signs and wonders, by which he proved his deity and his Father’s pleasure in him, so that he said, “If I had not done among them the works which no other man did, they had not had any sin; but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.” In memory of this he stood and wept over Jerusalem, saying, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not.” What agony will rend their hearts when they perceive how blinded they were, and how they despised their own mercies.
9. One great reason for the bitter mourning of restored and believing Israel will be the long ratification of this rejection of Christ by generation after generation; for nearly two millennia have passed since Calvary’s cross was erected, but they still reject the Nazarene. Alas, poor Israelites! The veil is still over their faces, though Moses is read in their synagogues every Sabbath day. Alas! for the sorrowing seed of Jacob, waiting still, with their wailing hymns, for the coming of the Messiah, who has come already, but who was “despised and rejected” by his own people, and made by them “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” They will mourn as over the grave of an only child when they come to know that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the virgin born Emmanuel, God with us. They will wring their hands and seek to blot out the pages of their history with tears because they so despitefully maltreated and so obstinately rejected their Lord, the Prince of the house of David. If another Jeremiah shall be found to lead the singing men and singing women in their lamentations he will have no need to look long for subjects for his laments. Looking to him whom they pierced, the whole house of Israel will weep bitterly.
10. And now, dear brethren, it will tend to increase the blessed sorrows which will then sweep over Israel, to think how the Lord has had patience with them, and still has never cast them away. To this day they are as distinct a people as they ever were. They dwell alone; they are not numbered among the people. Persecuted almost beyond conception, poor Israel, for many a century, has been the butt and jest of those — I am shamed to say it — who called themselves Christians, and yet despised the chosen people of the Lord. Alas! the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, have been esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! “How has the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel!” They have for centuries endured a terrible chastening; they have been turned upside down, and wiped as when a man wipes a dish, but still they stand waiting for a vainly expected King. They would not have their true King, Jesus the Son of David, and they have no other — where is there any king of the Jews? The sceptre has departed from Jacob, and the lawgiver from between his feet, for Shiloh has come, even he who, as he hung upon the cross, was thrice named, “King of the Jews.” Jesus is the sole and only King of the Jews, and they are preserved and kept alive notwithstanding a thousand influences which threatened to make them lose their nationality; they shall still be gathered again, and their restoration shall be the fulness of the Gentiles, and we and they shall rejoice together in him who has made both one, and broken down the middle wall or partition, so that there is now neither Jew nor Gentile, barbarous Scythian, bond nor free, but we are all one in Christ Jesus.
11. II. I now come to more personal matters. In the second place THERE IS A GENERAL MOURNING WHICH GOD GIVES TO HIS CHURCH ON BEHALF OF CHRIST; a mourning which is only known and revealed when the spirit of grace and supplication is fully poured out.
12. I wish that we might have a large measure of that mourning at this present hour. Let us deplore at this time, beloved brothers and sisters, that Jesus Christ by the great majority of men is treated with utter indifference, if not with contempt. Where are the multitudes even of our own city at this present moment? There are many gathered in places of worship to sing hymns in the Redeemer’s praise, but there are many, many thousands in this city, — I have even heard it said that there are a million people, — who seldom, if ever, enter within the walls of the house of God. Jesus has suffered and bled to the death for men who, when they hear of it, treat his loving sacrifice as an idle tale. He is not quite unknown, I hope, to any of our city, some knowledge of him must have reached their ears, but they scarcely have enough curiosity to enquire more about it. Their little children go home from Sunday School and sing to them on the Sabbath day, and so they have sweetly sounded in their ears the “old, old story” of redeeming love; but ah, they break the Sabbath, they make it a day of amusement and pleasure, or they spend it in sloth. The Bible is left unread, or read without interest in its divine message. They have no care for the bleeding Lamb, no regard for their best friend. If they do not sorrow about this, we ought to sorrow for them, for they are men and women like ourselves, and they are living in contempt of our Lord Jesus. Some of them have many amiabilities, there is so much indeed of human excellence about them that we have deplored that the “one thing” which they lacked was not sought after by them; yet they continue as they are, and it is to be feared many of them will continue so until they perish. Do not weep so much because Jesus suffered on the cross, as because he is practically crucified every day by this carelessness and contempt. The crucifixion at Calvary is over now, and it is only the visible sign of a crucifixion to which careless men and women are subjecting the Redeemer to every day. They care nothing about him; dead or alive he is nothing to them. At the thought of such unkindness will you not cry, “For these things I weep; my eye, my eye runs down with water?”
13. Reflect sorrowfully, too, how the Lord Jesus has been poorly treated and pierced and wounded by his opponents; and I mention here as among the chief of them those who deny his deity. At this moment there are men of great attainments and abilities who will extol our Lord’s manhood, and even profess to be in love with his character, but they will not yield him divine honours, Oh, you Son of God, to whom the Father bore witness by an audible voice out of heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, hear him,” — they reject the witness of God and so dishonour you, you did not think it robbery to be equal with God, but they gladly would pierce you in your divinity, and make you nothing but a man. Men also reject our Lord’s atonement. By many that truth is obscured or utterly denied! I still hear the cry in many quarters, “Let him come down from the cross and we will believe on him.” Modern philosophers will accept anything except the bleeding Substitute for guilty man. When I think of the false doctrine which is preached about the Lord Jesus, and how his glory is tarnished by the lips of his professed ministers, who think his gospel to be a worn-out tale, I see that there is, indeed, good reason for to go to our bedrooms, and there pour out our hearts in lamentation. Alas, my Lord, why are you so blasphemed by the worldly-wise? Why is your truth despised among the learned and ridiculed by the Scribes?
14. I do not know when my grief has been more stirred for my Lord and Master than when brought actually to see the superstition by which our holy faith is travestied and his blessed name blasphemed. Turning from scepticism, where he is wounded in the house of his enemies, you come to superstition, where he is wounded in the house of his professed friends, and what wounds they are! I have felt sometimes as if I could tear down the baby image held in the Virgin’s hands, when I have seen men and women prostrate before it. What, oh you sons of Antichrist, could you not make an idol, like the Egyptians, out of your cats and dogs, or find your gods in your gardens? Could you not make a golden calf, as Israel did in the wilderness, or borrow the fantastic shapes of India’s deities? Could nothing satisfy you until the image of the holy child Jesus should be made into an idol, and Christ upon the cross uplifted should be set up as an image for men to bow before it? The idolatry which worships the image of the devil is less blasphemous than what worships the image of Christ. It is an awful sacrilege to make the holy Jesus appear to be an accomplice in the violation of the divine commandment; yes, and to turn that blessed memorial of death into an idolatrous rite in which divine honours are given to a piece of bread. Was there ever sin like this sin? You, innocent Saviour, it is grief indeed to think that you should be set up in the idol temple, among saints and saintesses, and that men should think that they are honouring God by breaking his first and second commandments. This must be to our Lord the most loathsome of all things under heaven. How does he in patience bear it? Do not let his people see it without a mourning like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon, [Zec 12:11] because our blessed Christ is so blasphemed by Antichrist that the image of the incarnate Son of God is set up as an object of idolatrous worship.
15. There should be great sorrow and mourning when we read the history of the past, and look even at the present, at the fearful wrongs which have been done in the name of Jesus. Jesus is all love and tenderness, and yet they place his cross upon the blood-stained banners of accursed war. Jesus, who said, “Put up your sword into its sheath, for those who take the sword shall perish with the sword,” is nevertheless conscripted to go out with armed hosts to blow men to pieces with guns, or pierce them with bayonets. When the Spanish nation captured Peru and Mexico, it makes one’s blood boil to read that, while they murdered the defenceless people for their gold, they set up in every town the holy cross. What had the cross to do with their murders and robberies! They tortured their victims in the name of Jesus, and when they put them to death they held up before them the image of the crucified Jesus. What horrors have been performed in your name, oh Christ of God! Men have, indeed, pierced you, and those who take your name and call themselves of “the Society of Jesus” have been chief enactors of these abominations. Your crucifixion at Calvary is a small part of the matter; for the sons of men have gone on piercing you by maligning you so infamously, oh Lord of boundless love.
16. And now today, what is done in our land? I can scarcely take time to enlarge, but there are multitudes of things done in the name of the religion of Christ which are a dishonour to it. Under the pretence of guarding the interests of his church, a certain community of professing Christians insist that their fellow Christians may not be buried within the same enclosure as themselves; truly, Christ’s name must sanction such un-Christly bigotry! One section of the church must also be patronized and made dominant in the land, and this wrong is done in the name of Jesus. It is to honour him that this crying injustice is perpetrated! Hear it, you heavens! There are multitudes of things besides, which I shall not mention, for which the Christian church ought perpetually be in sorrow. That she does wrong is enough to make her be humble; but that she has dared often to do wrong, even in the very name of Jesus, is worst of all!
17. Still, brethren, the worst sorrow probably for us all is that there should be so many professing Christians who act in a manner the very opposite to what Christ would have them do. The heathen everywhere point to our countrymen, who are supposed to be Christians, and they say of us that we are the most drunken nation of men upon the face of the earth; and I suppose we are. Charges are brought against us which are supported by the conduct of our sailors and soldiers, and others who go abroad, which make the followers of Mohammed and the disciples of Brahminism to think their religion superior to our own. These Englishmen are supposed to be Christians, though they are not. This is a great scandal and a grievous sorrow under the sun.
18. And then in the very heart of it all lies this, that true Christians, those who are truly Christ’s blood-bought, regenerated people, nevertheless do not sufficiently bring glory to his name. Where is the zeal of the Church — the all consuming zeal of other days? Where is the consecration which ought to rest upon all members of Christ’s blood-bought body? Where, I say, is that mightiness in prayer and supplication which at the first so gloriously prevailed? Where is that spirit of hearty love and unity; of brotherly kindness and compassion, which ought to be seen in all Christians? The first church brought great honour to the name of Christ; does the church of today do the same? Do even the most spiritual portions of the church bring to the Lord Jesus such honour and glory as he ought to have? Judge what I say. Are we not all unprofitable servants? Is there not reason for mourning, and for great mourning too, to think that Jesus should have been so badly treated by friends and foes? For him, our best beloved, perpetually pierced, the Church may well proclaim a fast, and mourn before the Lord, as in the day of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
19. III. Permit now a word or two upon the third point, for THE TEXT SPEAKS OF A FAMILY MOURNING.
20. It will be a very blessed day indeed when we see this, when the spirit of grace and supplication shall be largely poured out, and the land shall mourn, every family individually. Have you ever seen this in your households? Where the Spirit of God really rests upon a family there will be much of it, and surely there is reason enough for it in some families where there is none at all. We ought to grieve to think that there has been such formality and coldness in family devotion, so little love for Jesus revealed in the morning and evening worship. I fear that there are professing families where daily prayer is altogether neglected. The individuals, I trust, pray in their bedrooms, but they have given up the assembling of themselves as families to worship in the name of Jesus; as families they are prayerless and dishonour the Lord. In this there is a serious reason for sorrow, because our Lord loses by this neglect what he delights in, namely, family praises.
21. Families should also mourn because the Lord is not so regarded as he should be in family management. Christ is not made first and chief in family matters. Fathers look rather to the worldly prosperity of their boys in seeking positions for them, than to their moral and spiritual advantage. Many a time marriages for the daughters are sought, not in the Lord, but solely in reference to pecuniary considerations. How much of the arrangement of the household ignores the existence of the Saviour; as for example — much work done on the Sabbath which might be spared by a little care and thought, and consequent inability to go out to worship the Saviour with the rest of God’s people. There is a way of setting the Lord always before us in the management of household matters, and, on the other hand, there is a way of so acting as to prove that God is not in the least considered. For family quarrels, family pride, family covetousness, and family sins of all kinds, which bring shame upon our profession, and dishonour upon the name with which we are named, there ought to be great sorrow.
22. If there are any members of a family unconverted, this should cause deep regret for the whole household. If there is only one child unsaved, all the rest should plead for him with tears. Happy are you who have all your household walking in the faith; but if there is one left out, do not weep for the dead, neither bewail him, but weep for the living who is dead to his Lord. Wife, be grieved in your heart if you have a worldly husband. Oh husband, mourn for your unconverted wife! If you have brothers or sisters not yet brought to Jesus, do not fail to lament concerning them. I wish that families did sometimes come together to pay their vows with special care, and that the father would confess family faults and family sins in the name of them all, and so acknowledge each wound given to the Lord in that house. I am not alluding to those private rebukes which every wise parent must give, but I would have a common confession from all, uttered by the voice of the head of the household. Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, how blessed it is to think that you are the God of all the families of Israel, and that you love the tents of Jacob well. Grant that our households, as households, inasmuch as they sin and transgress, may also walk before you in all humbleness. Let all families mourn; let the house of David mourn, for there is sin in royal and noble families. Let the house of Levi repent, for, alas, there are sins in ministers’ families which greatly provoke the Lord our God. The house of Shimei, of whom we know nothing, may represent the private families which are unknown, and of the more humble order; let these also draw near to God in penitential grief. The house of Nathan may be regarded as the prophetic, or perhaps as the princely house; but no matter who they are, let them all come before the Most High, each with the language of confession. It will be a grand thing for England when we shall see more family piety and family mourning for sin. They tell us that in Cromwell’s day if you went down Cheapside at a certain hour in the morning every blind of every house was down, because the residents were at family prayer. It was then a standing ordinance of all professors of religion, and it was the great buttress against Popery. Modern Ritualists want us to go to church every morning and night to pray; the church is opened all day long, so I see by a notice on one of our churches, for private prayer; it strikes me as being rather a place for public prayer, and well adapted for the display of devotion. The idea that prayer is more acceptable in the parish church than in your own houses is a superstition, and ought to be treated with no respect. If we will pray in our families, and make every house into a church, and consecrate every room by private supplication, we shall not be fascinated by the foolish idea of the holiness of places or priests, and we shall so be guarded against the seductions of Popery. May the Lord pour out the spirit of grace upon all the families of his people!
23. IV. But now, lastly, and more personally; according to the text, when the Spirit of God is given, there will be PERSONAL, SEPARATE, AND SALUTARY MOURNING ON THE PART OF EACH ONE. “Every family by itself, and their wives by themselves,” these words, often repeated, bring out vividly the individuality of this holy sorrow before the Lord. Let us now endeavour to enter into it.
24. First, dear brothers and sisters, let us mourn that our sins caused our Lord’s death; and when we have done this, which would naturally be the first thought from the text, and therefore will naturally occur to you without my needing to urge it, let us go on to mourn our sins before our regeneration. To me it will always cause regret that I was unbelieving towards One who could not lie. Now, as I know my Lord, and have proved his faithfulness so well, it looks so strangely cruel that I should have doubted him, that I should have thought he could not cleanse me, or that he would not receive me. He is the most tender of all hearts, the most loving of all beings, and yet there was a day when I thought him to be a severe tyrant who expected a preparation from me which I could not produce in myself. I did not know that he would take me just as I was and blot out my sin; I know it now, but I mourn that I so grievously doubted him. Ought we not to grieve over our long carelessness? You used to hear the gospel, dear friend, and you understood its plan and scope, but you did not wish to feel its power; the Son of God in pity came to die for you, and yet you thought it an everyday matter to be attended to at your convenience, and you went your way to tend to earthly things. Oh Lord, how could I shut the door of my heart against you so long, when your head was wet with dew and your locks with the drops of the night? You gently knocked, and knocked again, my God, and still I would not let you in for many a year! I would sorrowfully repent for this.
25. Think then, dear friends, of the contempt which we cast upon Christ while we were living in that state of carelessness; for did we not as good as say in our heart, “Pleasure is to be found in the world and not in Christ; rest is to be had in wealth, not in Jesus?” Did we not deliberately choose when were young to follow the devices of our own hearts instead of the will of Jesus? Now that we know him we think ourselves ten thousand fools that we should have seen any charms in the painted face of that Jezebel world, when Jesus stood by with all his matchless beauties. Forgive us, dear Redeemer, that we ever thought of these trifles, these transitory toys, these mockeries, and let you go though it were only for an hour. Alas, this base contempt of you was no error of an hour, but a crime which lasted for many years. Pardon us, oh Lord.
26. Let us reflect, again, with great regret upon the resistance which we offered to Christ. In some of us the Spirit strove mightily. I do confess that under sermons I was often brought to my knees and driven to my bedroom with tears, but the next morning saw those tears evaporate, and I was as obdurate as before. Did Jesus persuade us to come to his wedding feast? Did he put his arms around our neck and say, “Come and receive my love?” By his tenderness did he persuade us, and by his terrors did he threaten us, and yet did we resist him? What a crime this is! Look at him now! Oh, look at him with his dear wounds and his face marred more than any man! Did we push him aside? Did we contend with him who only meant our good? Did we not pierce our Lord by this conduct? It was even so. Alas, for those dark days! Let our entire life before conversion be considered only as a breathing death. Write down its days as nights, and let the nights perish and be forgotten for ever.
27. But we have more than this to reflect upon, namely, our sins since conversion. Do I address any this morning who have grievously backslidden since they professed faith in Christ? Have you committed great and public sins? Has it even been found necessary to remove you from the church of God as the leper is put out from the camp? Then do not think of it without feeling your eyes swim in tears. What is justly bound by the church on earth is bound in heaven, and therefore do not despise the censure of the church of God. And if others of us have been kept — as I trust we have — from the great transgression, yet, beloved, what shall we say? Are there not with us, even with us, many sins against the Lord? We too have often been guilty of doubt. We have doubted the Lord, who is truth itself. What a stab at his heart this is! What a reopening of his veins! We have been gloomy sometimes, and full of murmuring, until men have said that Christians are miserable, and they have taken up a proverb against our holy faith because we have been despondent, and have not felt the joy of the Lord. This is wounding him in the house of his friends, and let us mourn for this evil.
28. Might not our Beloved charge lukewarmness upon very many who would be unable to deny the accusation? Lukewarm towards the bleeding Lamb — towards the dear lover of our souls! Have we not been disobedient too, leaving undone certain duties because they were unpleasant to the flesh, and doing other things which we know we ought not to have done, because we chose to please ourselves? This is a sad state of things to exist between our hearts and our Best Beloved.
29. Has there not been in us a very great lack of self-denial? What little we have ever given to him! Did we ever stint ourselves for him? Might he not say to us, “You have bought me no sweet cane with money, neither have you filled me with the fat of your sacrifices: but you have made me to serve with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities.” And how little zeal we have shown for him. Zeal has just lingered on, like a spark in the flax unquenched; but how little flame has there been, how little love for God, how little love for perishing sinners, how little love even for Christ’s own people. How scant has been our fellowship with Jesus. I know some who, I hope, love him, who go from day to day without hearing his voice, and some will even live a week in that condition. Shame! shame! to live a month in the same house with our heart’s husband, and not to have a word with him! It is sad indeed, that he, who should be all in all to us, should often be treated as if he were second best, or not even in the running. Alas, alas; Christ is all excellence, and we are all deficiency. In him we may rejoice, but as for ourselves, we ought to mourn like doves because of the griefs we must have caused to his Holy Spirit through the poor state of our souls.
We have asked you, and I pray the Spirit of God to enable you, to
mourn over the past, but what shall we say concerning the
present? Take stock now of last week. I invite myself and you, for
we are one in Christ if we are believers, to look through last week.
Did you make any accounting of the days as they passed? If so I think
you might have said with Dr. Watts —
What have I done for him that died
To save my guilty soul?
How are my follies multiplied,
Fast as my minutes roll.
Has it been a week of real service for Christ? You have done something, did you do your best? Did you throw your heart into it? Did you feel that tenderness, when you were trying to bring others to Christ, which a Christian ought to feel? You had some little contention with another, did you act in a Christian spirit? Did you show the mildness and gentleness of Jesus? You were offended, did you forgive freely? for his dear sake did you cast it all behind your back? You have been somewhat in trouble, did you take your burden to him as naturally as a little child runs to his mother with a cut finger? Did you tell him all, and leave it all to him? You had a loss, did you voluntarily resign all to his will? Has there been no pride this week? Pride grieves him very much, for he is not a proud Master, and is not pleased with a proud disciple. Has there not been much to mourn over?
And now at this very moment what is the state of our feeling
towards him? Must we not confess that though there is a work of grace
in our souls, yet there is much about us at this moment which should
make us bow down in grief before the Lord. Dear Saviour, you know
there is not one in this house who has more cause to mourn for you
than he does who speaks for you now; for he feels that these poor
lips are not able to tell what his heart feels, and his heart does
not feel what it ought to. A preacher should be like a seraph. One
who speaks for Christ, and tries to praise him, should be a very
Niobe [a] when he sees the sin of men and his own. Where are my
tears? The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak. I think
what I have now said about myself will suit most of you who are
engaged in my Master’s service. Do you not feel that you blunder at
it, that when you would paint him you make a mess of his likeness?
When you would present him visibly crucified among the people, do you
not obscure him with the very words with which you wish to reveal
him? You must have such feelings, and if you have them let me close
by reading these words to you; they are assuredly true when there is
a time of hearty, sincere mourning for Jesus; “In that day there
shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and for the
inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” So let us
plunge into the sacred bath. Believing in the precious blood, let us
wash and be clean. Glory be to his name, those whom he has washed are
completely clean. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Zec 12]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — The Passion And Exaltation Of Christ” 429]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — ‘They Crucified Him’ ” 278]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — A Song At The Foot Of The Cross” 287]
[a] Niobe: In Greek legend, the name of the daughter of Tantalus, supposed to have been changed into stone while weeping for her children. OED.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
429 — The Passion And Exaltation Of Christ
1 Come, all harmonious tongues,
Your noblest music bring,
‘Tis Christ the everlasting God,
And Christ the Man we sing.
2 Tell how he took our flesh
To take away our guilt,
Sing the dear drops of sacred blood
That hellish monsters spilt.
3 The waves of swelling grief
Did o’er his bosom roll,
And mountains of almighty wrath
Lay heavy on his soul.
4 Down to the shades of death
He bow’d his awful head,
Yet he arose to live and reign
When death itself is dead.
5 No more the bloody spear,
The cross and nails no more,
For hell itself shakes at his name,
And all the heavens adore.
6 There the Redeemer sits
High on the Father’s throne,
The Father lays his vengeance by,
And smiles upon his Son.
7 There his full glories shine
With uncreated rays,
And bless his saints’ and angels’ eyes
To everlasting days.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
278 — “They Crucified Him”
1 Oh come and mourn with me awhile;
Oh come ye to the Saviour’s side;
Oh come together, let us mourn:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
2 Have we no tears to shed for him,
While soldiers scoff and Jews deride?
Ah! look how patiently he hangs;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
3 How fast his hands and feet are nail’d
His throat with parching thirst is dried;
His failing eyes are dimm’d with blood;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
4 Come let us stand beneath the cross;
So may the blood from out his side
Fall gently on us drop by drop;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
5 A broken heart, a fount of tears
Ask, and thy will not be denied;
Lord Jesus, may we love and weep,
Since thou for us art crucified.
Frederick William Faber, 1849, a.
Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
287 — A Song At The Foot Of The Cross
1 Let all our tongues be one,
To praise our God on hight,
Who from his bosom sent his Son
To fetch us strangers nigh.
2 Nor let our voices cease
To sing the Saviour’s name;
Jesus, th’ ambassador of peace,
How cheerfully he came!
3 It cost him cries and tears
To bring us near to God:
Great was our debt, and he appears
To make the payment good.
4 Look up, my soul, to him
Whose death was thy desert,
And humbly view the living stream
Flow from his breaking heart!
5 There, on the cursed tree,
In dying pangs he lies,
Fulfils his Father’s great decree,
And all our wants supplies.
6 Lord, cleanse my soul from sin,
Nor let thy grace depart;
Great Comforter, abide within,
And witness to my heart!
Isaac Watts, 1709.