A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, January 13, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *8/30/2012
Behold, now is the day of salvation. [2Co 6:2]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 603, “Now” 594]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1394, “Day of Salvation, The” 1385]
Exposition on 2Co 6:1-18 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2885, “Christ’s Sympathy with His People” 2886 @@ "Exposition"]
1. No one can change the outward features of a day. The kings of the earth cannot command for themselves bright days nor inflict upon their enemies days of tempest. It belongs to one a higher than they to command the morning and cause the day-star to know its place. It is little they can do in reference to the light and the sun, and the clouds, and the rain; they cannot bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades nor release the bands of Orion. Still rulers and governors and kings have accomplished much in shaping the social character of the days of their subjects. Sometimes, like the king of Nineveh, they have proclaimed days of fasting, and their subjects have been clothed in sackcloth; and on other occasions they have exercised the prerogative to ordain days of feasting, as Ahasuerus did at the palace of Shushan, when for a hundred and eighty days “he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty,” by filling the capital with feasting. Kings of the older stamp were more able to affect the days of their people than they are now; in former times, when men had less wit and more faith in the fable of divine right than they have now, a despot could cause a thick darkness over all the land, even a darkness that might be felt. They made war according to their own fancy or frenzy, and what is that except moral midnight? What does war mean except crime, suffering, death, poverty? Is it not usually the sum of all villainies? Everything that is evil either marches with it or follows in its train. The very thought of war for our beloved country darkens our heavens. Alas, with what a light heart have despots drawn the sword and sought to wade through slaughter to imaginary glory, shutting the gates of mercy on mankind so that they might seize a province or avenge a jest. Kings can also brighten men’s days when they have a mind to be quiet: they make peace and then the nations bask in the sun, and earth covers her battlefields with verdure. Peace gives the poor world respite to bind up her gaping wounds and remedy a little of the mischief of the bloody fight. Hard labour and stern self-denial are not begrudged by the suffering peasants if they may only have a little breathing room, and the land may enjoy her Sabbaths; but why should such toil and suffering have been demanded? Simply because kings quarrel, and their subjects must die to end the strife. Princes have also on occasion exercised their prerogative by proclaiming days of amnesty and forgiveness: a long rebellion has been crushed out, and there has been no fear of its return, and then the monarch has thought it best to refrain from undue severity, and overlook the evil which he has subdued; accordingly he proclaims that the past shall be blotted out if by a certain time rebellious ones will surrender, lay down their arms, and promise loyalty. Such days are calm and clear, and bring light to despairing rebels who saw no end except the gallows tree. Thus, for humiliation or rejoicing, for war, for peace, or for pardon, monarchs can set their seal upon a day, and mark it with their signature in history. If earthly monarchs can somewhat affect the days of men; what then can be done by the King of kings? The Creator of day and night can surely order all our lights and shadows. The Ancient of days is he who can give us “mornings without clouds” or make the day dark with gloom. How often has he made the sun of prosperity to gladden us, and how suddenly has he shrouded us beneath the thick clouds of adversity! Our days are in his hand; and he is Lord of all. You and I, looking back, may well bow before the power and majesty of the Eternal, who has such infinite power over us that none of us can restrain his hand nor say to him, “What are you doing?”
2. The Lord has had his days of vengeance; are they not written in the book of the wars of the Lord? How terrible was the hour when he opened the sluices of the firmament so that the rain might descend in torrents, and bade the fountains of the great deep to rise to meet the descending floods. How dreadful were the forty days in which the floods above the firmament, in tumultuous mirth, leaped downward to embrace their brethren of the ocean, until the whole earth was covered with one all-devouring deluge, and sea monsters whelped and stabled in the palaces of kings. That was the assize of justice, and the day of vengeance of our God. Such days have been at other times, as, for example, when he poured hell out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah; when he overthrew Pharaoh and all his host in the midst of the Red Sea; and when his sword did not stop shedding blood until Hivite and Perizzite and all the Canaanites fell before the hand of Joshua because the iniquity of the people was full, and the hour of execution had arrived. Those were the “dies irae,” [days of wrath] and there is another far more terrible yet to come, when heaven and earth shall flee away before the face of him who shall sit upon the great white throne. Blessed be God, we are not at this time living under the rod of vengeance, but our text tells us that “now is the day of salvation.” When it is a day of vengeance the Lord does his strange but necessary work thoroughly; for it is written, “ ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” The prophet said of him, “The Lord revenges, and is furious.” Well did Miriam sing, “The Lord is a man of war, Jehovah is his name”: but when he puts on the silken robes of mercy, and proclaims with silver trumpet the day of salvation, “blessed are the people who know the joyful sound.” I trust that we are among that happy company, and have heard with the inner ear the note of grace. At any rate the Lord has set a period of salvation, even from the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus to this present hour. The day of salvation has not been suspended, it lasts on, and it shall last until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout: then the judgment shall come, and strict justice shall sit upon the throne.
3. The apostle when he was writing this very wonderful sentence dreaded lest men should not avail themselves of its great truth. Read the first verse of the chapter, — “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you do not receive the grace of God in vain.” The day of salvation is a great favour from God, and it would be a fearful thing if we should live in it and miss its privilege. Dear hearers, it is only of divine favour that we enjoy this day of amnesty, oblivion, and forgiveness; and, therefore, we beseech you not to let its golden hours pass over you in vain. This is the great anxiety of my heart at this time in addressing you; I have great fear lest some of you should live in the day of salvation and yet die without being saved, should live in the midst of light with blinded eyes, should dwell with deaf ears, where the silver trumpet sounds and so the kingdom of God should come very near to you and yet you should not enter it. It will be sad indeed if you should see strangers from afar brought into the kingdom of heaven, and yourselves, who live on its borders, should be utterly thrust out. May the Holy Spirit bless the words which shall now be spoken, so that the evil which we fear may not come upon you, but that you may receive this grace or favour of God for your eternal good.
4. That you may not receive this grace in vain I shall try, first, to show the grand reason for this day of salvation; secondly, I shall speak of the glorious day itself; and thirdly, for a minute or two I shall dwell upon the dark shadows which may close that day, if the Spirit does not lead us into salvation.
5. I. First, then, THE GRAND REASON FOR THIS DAY — “Now is the day of salvation.”
6. Will you kindly read the context in order to understand why there is a present day of salvation? I will take you a little away from the text to the twentieth verse of the preceding chapter, and ask you to bear in mind that the division into chapters is purely arbitrary, and we need take no notice of it whatever. The apostle says, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God beseeched you by us: we implore you in Christ’s behalf, to be reconciled to God. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” [2Co 5:20,21] Here then is the secret of the whole matter. Today is the day of salvation because “he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” There could have been no day of salvation if a Saviour had not appeared, and if that Saviour had not become our Substitute and Surety, salvation would have been denied to us by the stern voice of justice. But now Christ has come into the world and died for sin, and because he has finished all the works which he undertook, the Lord our God proclaims for us the day of salvation.
7. Notice that according to the context this is the day of salvation, because we may now be reconciled to God. “We implore you in Christ’s behalf, to be reconciled to God.” The Lord would not set his ministers to implore men to be reconciled to him if peace were out of the question. He would not send us upon an impossible errand. God is already reconciled to every sinner who has an interest in the blood of Jesus. Towards those the Lord is full of peace. Nothing is needed now to reconcile God to the believing man. The great thing that is required is to bring men to believe in Jesus Christ so that they may be reconciled to God. The feud between you and God, poor prodigal child, need not be continued. You quarrelled with your Father, and you went into the far country; and now you have spent your substance, but your Father sends to you this message, “Be reconciled. Come home, a loving reception awaits you; return at once.” Because Jesus has died the partition wall is broken down; the great gulf between a holy God and unholy man is bridged by the atoning blood. You may be reconciled; there is no reason why the terrible quarrel should continue, and therefore, because reconciliation is possible, it is a day of salvation. As long as man remains an enemy to God he cannot of course be saved, for enmity towards God is the very essence of his ruin and the sting of his condemnation. While a man lives in enmity towards God he is, and he must be, under the power of an evil spirit which curses him; and therefore reconciliation to God is absolutely necessary for the enjoyment of salvation. I repeat that, because reconciliation is possible, this day of salvation has come.
8. Next, lest any one should exclaim, “But how is it and why is it that so great a blessing is conferred? I cannot understand it and therefore I am plunged into doubt” — the plain statement of the twenty-first verse explains it all: “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” Here is the grand doctrine of substitution. Oh soul, if you believe in Christ Jesus you shall be saved because he stood in your place, he took your sin, and the Lord made him to be sin on your account, and exacted at his hand satisfaction for your iniquity. He bruised him and put him to grief, so that he was made a curse for us and bore in our place the wrath of heaven. Now therefore the righteous God will not, cannot, need to vindicate his law a second time. If he has made the Lord Jesus to be sin for us, then he need not visit us for sin nor punish the same offence a second time. No, it would be injustice to lay sin once upon the substitute and afterwards upon the sinner; therefore well may there be a day of salvation proclaimed since Christ has finished transgression and made an end of sin.
9. To help us to understand mercy’s great expedient still better, the Holy Spirit tells us that the divine plan in Christ Jesus is to make us the “righteousness of God” in Christ. Wonderful expression! I shall not attempt to enter into its fulness, but I will be content with saying that the two expressions of the verse present the imputation of sin to Christ and of righteousness to us, the substitution of Christ in our place, and the standing of our souls in Christ’s place, in terms so forcible that he must be determined not to believe the doctrine who does not see it in the words before us. Our Lord is not merely made a sin offering, but he is made sin, and we are not merely made righteous in Christ, but we are made righteousness itself, indeed, and the righteousness of God, too, which is the very highest conceivable righteousness. I never wish to strain expressions, nor push them one inch beyond their proper meaning, but I think it is difficult to do so here, since the language is so very forcible and explicit. If the doctrine which I have explained were intended to be taught, I do not see how it could be more clearly stated. Now, soul, if you desire salvation, see how God can give it to you. Just as he takes your sin and lays it upon Christ so he takes Christ’s righteousness and lays it upon you. He looks at you as if you were as righteous as his Son who represents you. He treats you as if you had been obedient to all his law; he looks upon the model man Christ Jesus, the perfect humanity, and he sees in Christ all his people, and treats them accordingly. He looks upon his people as if they themselves had magnified the law and made it honourable by a sinless life. This is a wondrous doctrine, but he who believes it shall find rest for his soul; and it is because of it that we are authorized to come out this day and declare the day of salvation. The guilt of the believing sinner is put away, for Christ has carried it; and now righteousness belongs to the sinner, for God imputes it to him without works: therefore this is the day of salvation.
Still keeping to the context, and illustrating it in another way — the
grand reason for the day of salvation, will you kindly read the verse
itself which contains our text? “For he says, ‘I have heard you in an
accepted time, and in the day of salvation I have helped you: behold,
now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’ ” It
is a quotation: Paul says, “he says.” Where does God say that? We
have no difficulty in discovering that: it is in the forty-ninth of
Isaiah, which passage should be carefully read by you and heartily
pondered. I wish to call your special attention to it as opening up
the glorious reason for the famous proclamation of which we are
preaching. That chapter, from the sixth to the twelfth verse
eminently applies to the Messiah, that is, to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of whom else could the prophet have spoken as in the seventh verse
“Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him
whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of
rulers?” Who is this except our Lord as he stood before Herod and
Pilate? To this very day he is abhorred by the Jews: they mention him
ordinarily by the name of “the Crucified,” and to them that term is
the embodiment of the utmost scorn. We glory in that word, but to
them it is the essence of contempt. “He is despised and rejected by
men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” We are sure that
Isaiah spoke concerning him, the Crucified, whom we adore, and our
next enquiry is, what did he say about him? Read the fifth and sixth
verses: “And now, says the Lord who formed me from the womb to be his
servant, to bring Jacob again to him, though Israel is not gathered,
yet I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be
my strength. And he said, ‘It is a light thing that you should be my
servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved
of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, so that
you may be my salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” Beloved, are you
not glad to hear these words? If you are not curious to hear me,
but eager to hear my Master’s truth, your heart will rejoice at this
blessed news, that now Christ has come to be the salvation of the
Gentiles. We were out in the cold, we were the younger branch of
the family, and the heir despised us, we had not yet come into our
portion, we were left in darkness and in sin; but now our turn has
come, and we are favoured. From the day when Jesus said, “Go into all
the world and preach the gospel to every creature” our privileges
began. From the day when Paul said, “Since you put it from you, and
judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the
Gentiles,” ours has been a day of favour, and the portion which once
belonged alone to the seed of Abraham we have obtained, only that we
have obtained it to a far larger extent, and we see more clearly its
deep spiritual meaning and wealth of blessing. What was veiled under
types and shadows is clearly presented before our eyes. Beloved, tell
it all over the world today, that salvation has come to the Gentiles,
and especially to the dwellers in the islands. How remarkable it is
that islands are so often alluded to in the Scriptures, and that they
receive the gospel so much more readily than any other parts of the
world. As for the ends of the earth, surely we are intended by that
term, for our forefathers dwelt where Phoenicians made distant and
dangerous journeys to find tin and other metals, and our land was
thought to be upon creation’s verge, inhabited by a barbarous people
of uncouth tongue, and yet to us, even to us, has the gospel come,
and now —
The British islands are the Lord’s,
Here Abraham’s God is known;
While powers and princes, shields and swords,
Submit before his throne.
Jehovah, the God of the whole earth is our God at this very day; let us exalt in this, for it proves that the day of salvation has come to the Gentiles.
11. Further, he goes on to say in the eighth verse, “Thus says the Lord, ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you.’ ” Note this well. God saves us because he heard the Lord Jesus. There is the secret of all the answers of grace to the prayers of penitents. He says, “I have heard you in an accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation.” In the lonely watches of the night our great Intercessor prayed for his own. He lived a life of supplication, and he did not pray in vain, for he once said to the Father, “I know that you hear me always,” and indeed it was always so. His prayers may be said to have reached their highest point when he offered the marvellous intercession recorded in John 17, and followed it up by his strong crying and tears in the garden when he poured out his soul in agony, while prostrate among the olives he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground. Mysterious was that bloody sweat! Oh you precious drops, you did not fall by chance; what did you write on the soil of Gethsemane in crimson hieroglyphics? You wrote upon the earth the reversal of the curse which fell upon the ground, and the ending of the day of wrath in the day of salvation. That sacred sweat bedewed a garden which henceforth yields the oil of joy, by which believers may anoint their faces with gladness. Jesus was heard in that he feared, and henceforth to the chief of sinners it is a gospel of good cheer. “In an acceptable time I have heard you.” Is it not wonderful that Jesus in the garden made intercession for transgressors who as yet had not learned to pray for themselves? I trust that among those who hear me, there are people unconverted as yet who nevertheless are special objects of the Redeemer’s intercession, and who shall find salvation because their great Substitute was heard on their account. We were all heard when our Great High Priest was heard; the Father’s answer to him was an answer of peace for all his people.
It is added, “In a day of salvation I have helped you.” Help came to
the man Christ Jesus in his hour of agony; the Father helped him, and
there appeared to him an angel strengthening him. How must that angel
have marvelled as he saw the face of the incarnate God red with a
sweat of blood. The whole scene is beyond conception strange and
singular: the prostrate Saviour in agonizing pangs utters strong
cryings, and is helped by his God.
His earnest prayer, his deepening groans,
Were heard before angelic thrones;
Amazement wrapped the sky:
“Go, strengthen Christ!” the Father said:
The astonish’d seraph bow’d his head,
And left the realms on high.
The angel came to strengthen our champion, not to join in the fight. No one could share the conflict, Jesus must tread the wine-press alone; but the angel was empowered to impart strength to the manhood of Christ, and he did so. It was then that, being helped in his hour of need, our Master took the appointed cup so full of woe, and drank it to its utmost dregs, and said, “It is finished!” It was then that by one dreadful draught he pledged the justice of God, and gave this day of salvation to the sons of men.
13. You see, then, that our present day of privilege has come to us through the Lord’s hearing and helping our Daysman and Redeemer; but, beloved, salvation comes to us also, because according to the eighth verse it is written, “I will preserve you, and give you for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth.” Jesus is now God’s covenant with man, and that covenant is one of peace and favour. The Lord says to each believing man, “I will remember your sin no more. I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a right spirit within you. You shall be mine. I will sanctify you and glorify you with my Son. Behold, as a sign of my faithfulness I have given my Son to be the seal, the surety, and the sum of my covenant. Behold, I have given him for a covenant to the people, a leader and commander for the people.” Brethren, you are not under the covenant of Moses today, you are under the covenant of Jesus; you are not under law, but under grace, and because of this today is the day of salvation.
14. I cannot at this time enlarge upon the other blessed verses which make up the forty-ninth of Isaiah; but let me say it is because Christ is now anointed to give liberty to all captives, and say to them, “Go out”; it is because he brings the darkened ones out of the shadow of death and says, “Show yourselves,” that therefore this is a day of salvation. And, furthermore, when we are delivered from bondage and darkness then because Christ is a shepherd, and leads his flock, and makes them to feed in the ways, and finds pasture for them in high places, and protects them from hunger and thirst, and gives them springs of water to drink from, — it is because of all this that now is the day of salvation.
15. I will not enlarge further but only say if I now preach the day of salvation, as I will try to do, with the utmost boldness and fulness, if any of you enquire, “How is it? How is it? Why is grace so free today?” I shall tell you that the reason is quite as marvellous as the fact, that the way of salvation is as surprising as salvation itself, and that Jesus Christ the Son of God, who has done, and is doing it all, is the most wonderful of all. In his eyes I see the stars which can shine away the midnight of despair; in his hands I see the majestic might which can break the fetters of Satanic bondage; and in his face I see the sacred guidance which shall bring the sacramental host of his elect safely home in unbroken ranks, to the land of the tearless eyes.
16. II. Now, kindly leave Isaiah and turn again to the text. Under the second point we have to speak upon THE GLORIOUS DAY ITSELF, for the day of salvation is rich with blessing.
17. First, I would commend that day because of its fourfold excellence. Read again the verse in which our text stands. Although the words must be regarded as spoken, in the first place, to our Lord, the best expositors say that they are also addressed to his church in him. The word came to him as the Head and Representative of his people, and so to his chosen as one with him. So then, beloved, in this day of salvation our prayer will be heard: “I have heard you in an accepted time.” Dear hearer, if you will sincerely pray in the name of Jesus you will be heard. Are you very guilty? Ask for mercy, and you will be heard. “I have heard you in an accepted time.” Have you condemned yourself? Have you written your own death-warrant? Are you bowed down with a sense of guilt? Pray and pray, and pray again! Oh, brother, pray, I beseech you. If you are between the jaws of hell, still pray, for now is the day of salvation, and it is a day in which he who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.
18. Secondly, we are further told that today help will be given. What does it say? “In the day of salvation I have helped you.” Are you helpless, are you without hope? This is a day in which God will come to your relief. Do you need strength to break the chains of habit? Do you need power even to repent? Do you need help to feel your helplessness? Do you need everything? “Behold,” he says, “in the day of salvation I have helped you.” He will help you; only ask him, only trust him. When there was a great dearth of business in the Manchester district during the American civil war, and many were out of work and starving, many cases occurred in which people were found near to death’s door, “clamming” as they called it, or dying of starvation. When they were kindly visited and asked why they did not apply for relief, they answered that they could not ask. British independence, as we call it, and a very noble spirit it is within proper bounds, was strong within them, and many a man said, “I could not bring myself to ask.” I admire that spirit between man and man, but I do not admire it when it touches the matter of the soul, and lies between a poor worthless sinner and the great and ever-blessed God. Do not be proud and say, “I cannot bring myself to ask,” for behold your prayer will be answered now and whatever help you require will be freely given to you. Does not that one fact show that we live in the day of salvation?
19. And then it is added, “Behold, now is the accepted time,” so that the third blessing is that coming sinners will be accepted. If you will come to God he will not reject you, whoever you may be. However poor your repentance and weak your faith, it is a gracious time and the Lord will freely accept your sincere desires for his Son’s sake. Does not this fact encourage you to come? The door of mercy is open and no man can shut it. The Lord Jesus has never yet rejected a coming sinner and he never will, for it is written, “He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” It is a time of acceptance, not of rejection: come and partake in the blessing.
20. And then the fourth excellence is that it is a time of salvation, of which we will speak at greater length. You need saving; be glad then that it is salvation’s own day. All that can be needed to secure the salvation of a sinner has been fully prepared by Christ and is now freely presented in the preaching of the word to every soul that is willing to receive it. Jesus was born to save, he died to save, and lives to save.
21. Now, let me notice that this ought to be particularly pleasant news to those who are heavily laden with guilt. I have known the day when, if I had heard such words as those I try to speak, I think I should have leaped at them at once, as a hungry dog does at a bone. Sinners, this is the day of salvation, not a day of justice. Come and confess your sin: you shall not be accused, condemned, and punished, but freely forgiven. It is a day in which you may mourn to think you have sinned, but need not despair nor indulge a single unbelieving thought, for that would be unsuitable for the time, which is a day of good news. From now until the day when you shall pass out of this mortal state it is one long and blessed day of grace. There was a week of creation, and the Lord God performed great wonders of creating power and did not stretch out his left hand to destroy; so now there is a day of salvation, and all around angels of love are hovering, still singing, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” God is saving all who come to him by Jesus Christ. Everything proclaims salvation; the air is full of gentle voices; in fact, your very existence, continued by longsuffering, is a message of grace. Being found in a house of prayer this morning you have an eye towards your being saved. Your eager attention gives me hope it shall be so. Shall it not be accomplished now by your believing in Jesus? The fountain to wash your guilt away is filled; the “best robe” to cover you is prepared; the ring-finger of everlasting love is ready to be put upon your finger, and the shoes of gladness and of peace are awaiting you. Oh, poor soul, today I have nothing to preach except salvation; salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel,” said our Lord Jesus, and that gospel is salvation, free salvation for the sons of men.
22. The truth of our text should also be very encouraging to those who are fighting against inward sin. I know some who can trust Christ for pardon, but their chief difficulty is how they can be made holy. I greatly delight in seekers in whom this is the main thought; not so much to escape punishment as to avoid future sin. Well, if you are fighting against evil in the name of Jesus Christ, do not be discouraged, you will master it, because it is the day of salvation, and it is written, “They shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Do I address a drunkard? Does the intoxicating cup have a strange fascination for you, and have you gone back to drinking, after having often loathed yourself for it? You need not be a slave to it any longer, for this is a day of salvation from that sin: by faith in Christ you shall be delivered out of that deadly snare. Or have you been tempted to some other gross iniquity which holds you spell-bound? Does a certain vice fix its basilisk [a] eyes upon you and enchant you until you can no longer restrain yourself? Rejoice, then, for this is the day of salvation from sin. Neither saint nor sinner need sit down under the power of any sin, for in Christ Jesus’ name we can overcome the power of evil. Do not excuse yourselves by talking about besetments, you must thrust away all sin; you must overcome temptation, for if any sin shall totally vanquish you, you will be lost for ever, since it is only to “him who overcomes” that the crown is given. How, then, can you overcome? Why, only by the power of Christ, who invites us today to lay hold upon salvation from sin. Come to him and trust him, and he will destroy the works of the devil within you.
23. While this is very encouraging to penitents and to those who are fighting with sin it should be equally cheering to tried believers. Beloved, are you in deep trouble just now? Is your spirit overwhelmed within you? Be of good cheer, for this is the day of salvation. It is not a time for saints to die in; it is not a day in which the enemy shall triumph over believers; it is for us the day of salvation. Be glad, then, oh you who are assailed by the enemy. Though your foe may put his foot upon your neck, yet he cannot crush your life out, but you may boldly cry, “Do not rejoice over me, oh my enemy: when I fall, I shall rise again.” It is the day in which believers must be saved. Did not Christian, in “Pilgrim’s Progress,” find it so from the very day in which he left the city of destruction to the time when he passed through the river and said, “I feel the bottom, and it is good?” He had days of conflict, days of weariness, and days of deep distress of mind, but all along he was saved, saved from the lions, and saved from Giant Despair, saved from the flatterer’s net, and saved from the last river with its chill floods. We also live in the day of salvation. “Ah,” said a Popish bishop once to one of our martyrs, “You are a heretic, and you will be damned.” “My lord,” said the heroic man, “there I differ with you; I may be burned, but I never shall be damned.” “Why so?” said his adversary. The man replied by quoting that passage in the old translation, “There is therefore now no damnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Who shall condemn those for whom Christ has died? It is the day of salvation, not of accusation. It is the day of victory, not of defeat, not of captivity, much less a day of destruction for the true people of God. Let us, then, as is most appropriate, hang out the streamers of joy, and with glad music keep our souls in a proper state to keep the feast of salvation.
24. And do you not think this truth should encourage all who are at work to win souls for Jesus? Brethren, if I had my pick of days I should like to go out and preach the gospel when it was a day of salvation, would not you? One likes to go down the river with the tide, and if you can have a fair wind as well it is grand sailing: but surely, now, whenever you seek for souls you have wind and tide with you, for it is the day of salvation. God is saving men, it is his daily business, and his crowning glory, and he has set his heart on it; just as I remarked that Ahasuerus ordained a time of feasting and banqueted the people, and there is no doubt that they feasted at a royal rate, so when the infinite Jehovah proclaims a day of salvation the people shall be saved, and there shall be no question about it. Thousands upon thousands of erring ones shall repent and believe, and so shall be saved to the glory of his grace. Do not tell me that London is very wicked, I know it is; but the Lord has many people in this city, and he will redeem them from all iniquity. Our rural population may also be in many places perishing in gross darkness, but “the Lord knows those who are his”: he has jewels in those cottages, and he will make them to be his own. His chosen are hidden away in the dark mines of iniquity, but he will find his gold and purify it. His everlasting purpose shall not fail, and his infinite pity shall not be suspended. Glory be to his blessed name, he will accomplish all his purposes, for this is a day of salvation, and his people shall be called to him by some means, by any means, by every means. They shall be brought up out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay; and they shall know that the Lord does not save by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit.
25. I think I have worked out that point sufficiently. “Now is the day of salvation.”
26. I wonder whether anyone does not understand me. Dear friends, you know we commonly call this year a year of grace. We are quite right, for it is so. We say Anno Domini, the year of our Lord, and so it is; it is Jesus Christ’s year. Any time between the first of January and the last of December in which you seek him, he will be found by you. Suppose you try it now, There cannot be a better hour. Here, where many have found him, consecrate that seat on which you sit. Dear brother, may the Holy Spirit help you to do so by now saying, “I would be reconciled to you, my God, by the great Mediator: I would accept this salvation which you have freely set before me.” I implore you to do so.
27. III. To some of you I have spoken these many years, getting now into the twenty-fifth year, and shall I speak in vain? Our last word was to be something about A DARK CLOUD WHICH MAY DARKEN THE CLOSE OF THIS DAY OF SALVATION.
I hope it may not, yet I fear it. My dread is lest you receive this
great favour in vain, lest you live in this day of salvation and yet
are lost. That will be a calamity for me, for I shall lose my labour;
and more, there will be your mother’s tears all lost, your father’s
prayers all lost, and your Sunday School teacher’s earnest
instructions all lost, and other ministers’ frequent invitations all
gone for nothing. May it not be so, for that is unprofitable for you
as well as for us. You will have lost all those Sabbaths, all those
Bible readings, all those prickings of conscience. I know some of you
are very attentive hearers and yet you have not found grace in this
day of salvation. Salvation is all around you, yet you do not have
it. You have wasted golden opportunities. Ah, there will come a day
when you will wish for another Sabbath but it will be denied to you;
your last sermon shall have been heard and your last warning shall
have been received. Do not lose, I urge you, the privileges you enjoy
of being born in a Christian land, of having an open Bible, of
listening to an earnest ministry. Do not let those who never enjoyed
such privileges have in the eternal world the advantage over you. Do
not let Sodom and Gomorrah and Tyre and Sidon have to tell you that
it is more tolerable for them in hell than for you. The Lord Jesus
assures us that it will be so if you have been hearers of the gospel
and lived in the day of salvation and received this grace in vain.
The text says it is a day; and a day comes to an end. These are
not my words, but the words of Scripture. “ ‘Again, he limits a
certain day,’ saying in David, ‘Today if you will hear his voice.’ ”
Do you not see that the day of salvation, though it has lasted almost
two millennia, is still a day, and will surely end? The opportunity
of mercy does not last for ever, let no one deceive you concerning
that matter. The hope of grace will end with the day of grace; do
not let the smooth tongued ministers of the devil who enter the
pulpits of Christ nowadays delude you as to any vain hope that
another day of grace will come. I have no such flattering message
to speak to you, but I speak as this Book teaches. If you let this
day of salvation pass, and if you glide into another world unsaved
you are lost for ever. I know no more than this, but I know that this
Bible declares it to be so. “These shall go away into everlasting
punishment, and the righteous into eternal life.” Do not indulge vain
dreams. If the Lord speaks of a day, be sure that he has limited the
day; and if he declares this to be the day of salvation, you are not
authorized to expect that another such period will ever come. “If he
who despised the law of Moses died without mercy under two or three
witnesses” (listen to that): “of how much more severe punishment, do
you suppose, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden underfoot
the Son of God.” Oh, yield to the Lord Jesus, accept his salvation,
and trust him at once. I urge you in Christ’s name, be reconciled to
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isa 49]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — The Messenger Of Grace” 241]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — Salvation” 239]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Surety” 406]
[a] Basilisk: A fabulous reptile, also called a cockatrice, alleged to be hatched by a serpent from a cock’s egg; ancient authors stated that its hissing drove away all other serpents, and that its breath, and even its look, was fatal. OED.
The Work of Grace as a Whole
241 — The Messenger Of Grace
1 Raise your triumphant songs
To an immortal tune:
Let the wide earth resound the deeds
Celestial grace has done.
2 Sing how eternal love
Its chief Beloved chose,
And bid him raise our wretched race
From their abyss of woes.
3 His hand no thunder bears,
Nor terror clothes his brow:
No bolts to drive our guilty souls
To fiercer flames below.
4 ‘Twas mercy fill’d the throne,
And wrath stood silent by,
When Christ was sent with pardons down
To rebels doom’d to die.
5 Now, sinners, dry your tears,
Let hopeless sorrows cease;
Bow to the sceptre of his love,
And take the offer’d peace.
6 Lord, we obey thy call:
We lay an humble claim
To the salvation thou hast brought,
And love and praise thy name.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
The Work of Grace as a Whole
239 — Salvation
1 Salvation! oh, the joyful sound!
‘Tis pleasure to our ears;
A sovereign balm for every wound,
A cordial for our fears.
2 Buried in sorrow and in sin,
At hell’s dark door we lay;
But we arise by grace divine,
To see a heavenly day.
3 Salvation! let the echo fly
The spacious earth around,
While all the armies of the sky
Conspire to raise the sound.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
406 — Surety <7s.>
1 Christ exalted is our song,
Hymn’d by all the blood bought throng;
To his throne our shouts shall rise,
God with us by sacred ties.
2 Shout, believer, to thy God,
He hath once the winepress trod;
Peace procured by blood divine,
Cancell’d all thy sins and mine.
3 Here thy bleeding wounds are heal’d,
Sin condemn’d, and pardon seal’d;
Grace her empire still maintains;
Love without a rival reigns.
4 In thy Surety thou art free,
His dear hands were pierced for thee;
With his spotless vesture on,
Holy as the Holy One.
5 Oh the heights and depths of grace!
Shining with meridian blaze;
Here the sacred records show
Sinners black, but comely too.
6 Saints dejected, cease to mourn,
Faith shall soon to vision turn;
Ye the kingdom shall obtain,
And with Christ exalted reign.
John Kent, 1803.