A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 1, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *10/6/2012
Son of man I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel: therefore hear the word from my mouth, and give them warning from me. [Eze 3:17]
1. In most places the seasons in the church are the opposite of those of nature. Our wintry season generally comes when our hearers are busy in the fields, or resting in their summer retreats, and our harvest time for the ingathering of souls comes to us in the winter, when during the long evenings the people can come together, and special meetings for prayer and exhortation can be held. Just now, as the dews of autumn begin to fall and the days are visibly shortening, we ought to take notice of the signs of the times, and begin sharpening our sickles for a plentiful harvest. The time when kings go out to battle is coming on, and we must muster the host. The season when we can with special ease gather the people, and hopefully labour for their conversion, is now at our doors, and it is well that we gird up our loins for it. I feel deeply anxious, dear friends, that every time these seasons come around all Christians should be fully prepared for them, so that we should make the best of every opportunity, and use with thorough heartedness every hopeful occasion, if by any means we may save some. Now is our time to use all our powers so that we may be the means of bringing glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, and of setting him on high in hearts conquered by his love.
2. We would all desire to take some part in this gracious work. Of course there are, and always will be, in the Christian church, special watchmen: chosen men are set apart by God for the warning of the people, whose one business it is to cry aloud and not to spare, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. Let us be thankful that the Lord gives us such men, and let us beseech him to multiply their number. We prayerfully expect still to have our Ezekiels, to whom the Lord shall say, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman”; but still, beloved, when the camp is in imminent danger every man should become a watchman; and though the special sentinels must keep their posts, and walk their beats, and must with double vigilance act as if everything depended upon them, yet all the rest of the host must be on guard also, and aid in keeping the watches both by day and night. It seems to me, brother, that if the Lord has opened your eyes you have become a seer, and when you have become a seer, and can see, you should also become a watchman, and watch for the good of the church of God, and for the salvation of souls. If this country were invaded, which may God grant it never may be, we could not restrict its defence to our professional soldiers. No, every man would grasp any weapon within his reach, and use it vigorously to drive the intruder over our white cliffs; I might even venture to say every woman would do the same, and matrons would become Amazons. Dear are our hearths and homes, and none of us would ask to be excused from the defence of our beloved isle. Even so in the work of the salvation of souls, every saved one longs to have a share. Can we let sinners perish? Can we permit our own kinsmen to go down into the pit? No, not if our prayers, and tears, and earnest teachings can rescue them. Jesus Christ in mighty love has died to save sinners, and he must be honoured for his glorious deed of grace, — can we permit his name to be trailed in the mire? Shall he still be despised and rejected by human hearts? Shall even the members of our own family refuse his gentle sway? No, not if our testimony may help to honour him; nor if our earnest pleadings may gain him a throne in any one human heart.
3. We feel glad to think that Christ’s battles are not such as require strength of muscle and bone, nor do they need great mental capacity. Even the appointed watchman is set only to warn the people: he does not have to charm them with eloquence, nor to electrify them with novelties of oratory: he is simply to warn them, and the plainest language may suffice for that. Surely it is a grave mistake of the present period that men think their preachers are bound to be oratorical and poetical. Why is such startling ability to be flaunted if the object is to warn a sinner to flee from the wrath to come? I fear that my brethren are forgetting their real errand, and are labouring to dazzle those whom the Lord sent them to warn. If a man is asleep, and I have to wake him up, I need not cultivate a fine tenor voice with which to sing him out of his slumbers; I only have to call with sufficient loudness and distinctness until he is startled. I am glad that you Christian people can all take a share in the service of your Master, since that service is the warning of those around you. You will never deliver sensational discourses, and I am sure you need not regret the inability; but you can give men warning from God. You can warn children, your own children to begin with; you can warn your neighbours, you can warn those of your own rank and age; you can warn all who cross your way, for that is simply to tell the danger, and to recommend the way of escape. Brethren, with only slender knowledge and stammering utterance, we can warn and we will.
4. I am going to address you this morning upon the supposition that all of you who are believers in Christ are panting to take a share in the necessary and earnest work of warning men, lest they come to destruction. May I not hope that this is the case? To me it seems as if there is nothing else worth living for. It cannot be worth while to linger in this land of sorrow and of toil unless God is to be glorified by us; nothing but the accomplishment of his gracious purposes can compensate us for our exile from heaven. No merely earthly object is worthy of an immortal spirit. If we could win the Indies? What is wealth? If we could compel the trumpet of fame to engross itself with our exploits? What is honour? There is nothing beneath the moon worth a man’s lifting his hand for, except the glory of God; and God is best glorified by the conversion of men. You believe that, my brethren, and therefore you intend to have a share in it, if it is only the bringing of one poor child to Christ; therefore I speak to you with confidence, hoping that God may bless my words, so that we may begin a new campaign very well prepared for it, and so may achieve a greater success than any we have so far gained.
5. What are the qualifications for serving God by warning men? Ezekiel had them. What can we learn from the Lord’s words to Ezekiel by which we may all the better serve our Lord and act as watchmen for those around us?
6. I shall speak on three things this morning: first, the ear to be disciplined: secondly, the tongue to be educated: thirdly, a lesson in the text to be practised. May the Holy Spirit bless the whole subject to us.
7. I. If we would be found really useful and serviceable for our Lord and Master, THE EAR IS TO BE DISCIPLINED.
8. Read the text. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel: therefore hear the word from my mouth.” To train the tongue you must begin with the ear. It is well known that no man is fit to command who has not first learned to obey, and assuredly no man is qualified to teach who has not first of all found pleasure in learning. You must be a disciple and sit at the Master’s feet before you can become an apostle and go out to speak in the Master’s name. To acquire eloquence we must train the ear, and especially to warn our fellow men we must ourselves hear the voice of warning. The text says, “Hear the word from my mouth.” What does this mean? I take it, first, that if we wish to be useful our ear must be disciplined to hear only God’s word. We must receive the gospel as God’s own word, and go out to proclaim it as such. I have recently heard very frequently the following sentiment; it is one of the fungi of this enlightened age of advanced thought — “The call is every day more loud for teaching which shall not appeal to the authority of the Bible, but to the decision of the hearts and consciences of men. Our religious teachers should fall back upon the truth which men have gathered from their inner consciousness, and should support their instructions by arguments drawn from the experience of the thoughtful and philosophical. It is too late in the day to be always referring to a book and attempting to prove certain statements by the stereotypical utterances of an antiquated volume.” That is the favourite notion, and those who believe in it may go on and dote and dream as much as they please, and those who think their excogitations worth listening to may listen to them: they will, no doubt, greatly please themselves, and they will for a while amuse the little cliques who look up to them as little popes of a little party. They may even worship them as little gods, for surely the creator and maker of truth within himself does not fall very short of deity. Brethren, we can afford to let this plague of flies pass away; the nuisance is great, but it will not endure for long. There will come an end of all this trifling. Man’s imaginings and reasonings are wood, hay, stubble, and the day is coming which will consume them. Conceited mortals would supplant the eternal testimony with their maunderings, but their way is their folly. Our assurance is that the teaching which is needed for this age must come more and more distinctly from the Book, and must court daily testing by the Book. Teachers if they are to have power must sustain everything with “thus says the Lord.” It is ours to stand or fall by revelation, and to declare “We do not care one single farthing about your imaginary consciousness and the manufacturings of your dreams, your fancies, and your whims; we declare to you that God has spoken, and that what he has said you are bound to receive, because the Lord has said it.” This stands instead of all arguments, “the Lord has said it.” Believe him, for he cannot lie. We come to tell you of what we ourselves have received upon divine authority, and we claim that you receive our testimony, not because it is ours, but because it is supported by divine authority, and is in fact the echo of the divine word. Only by this mode of utterance can we hope to succeed. On any other footing we court failure and deserve it. Brother, do you say, “I desire to spread my religion, because it is my own opinion?” You will never win anyone on such terms; how can you expect it? Your warning of another man, apart from God’s truth, will be of no use to him, for your opinion is as good as his, and his opinion is as good as yours, and neither is worth much. Brother, do you say, “I regard my religion as my own views of things?” Ah, then, your views of things, and my views of things, and everyone else’s views of things are worth little enough, and there is no use in making a stir about them. Any opinion which bears your name at the bottom, or mine, might just as well not be written. What are our names? What are our views? No, brother, if you would speak in order to affect the heart and conscience and destiny of men, you must repeat what you have received from God’s own mouth, as God’s own word: there is a value about that, a fixedness, a certainty about that, and it goes out with a supreme majesty, involving woe upon any who dare to reject it: hence its power. If it is indeed the word of God, woe to you if you do not speak it faithfully, and woe to your hearers if they do not receive it reverently. The very first thing, then, for us to remember, if we would be useful in warning men and saving souls, is, that we feel the full conviction and impression that what we try to teach is God’s own word. “You shall hear the word from my mouth.” We must feel it to be clothed with the imperial robe of divine authority. We are not going to speak it because it is the doctrine authorized by the creed, nor because it is the doctrine of the community to which we belong, but because it is the sure word of the living God. Here is power, — power which hard hearts are forced to feel, power before which even demons tremble. I warrant you if you put God’s word down among fifty thousand words of men it shall be like a lion among a flock of sheep, tearing them in pieces, and it will prove by its own natural force where it comes from and where it is going.
9. Secondly, if we would have our ear educated, it must be not only to receive the word as of divine authority, but to know what God’s word is. Beloved, there are many who are willing to begin winning souls who had better first begin learning about Christ. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” was spoken to men who had been with Jesus for some time, and had learned from him. For others who were to be called it was provided that after baptism they should be taught, so that in due time they also might go out to instruct the nations. I do not like that a man should become so much a learner that he never wishes to speak and to teach others, but I equally dislike that a man should be so anxious to be a teacher that he runs before he is sent, and tries to bring others to a Saviour of whom he knows next to nothing. Fill yourself, brother, before you ask to be poured out, otherwise not much will come of your outpouring. Receive the bread and the fish from the Master, otherwise you will have very little to distribute among the crowd. First of all get to know what it is you have to say, or else how can you speak for God? If a messenger runs swiftly and gets out of breath to the end of his journey, and then says, I have something to say for my master, but I do not know what it is, he will be laughed at for his pains. His swift running is of little consequence, since he had nothing to carry. He should have waited until he knew the message which he had to bring. Brother, hear the word from God’s mouth, and then deliver it in God’s name.
10. What, then, shall we do? Let us study the Bible with diligence. Go to that fountain of truth, I urge you, and never be satisfied with a secondhand version of it. Go to the fountainhead and drink there or otherwise the streams have been muddied by human blundering. We desire to keep the word pure, but we are conscious of infirmity; go to the undefiled well, where there is no mixture of human error. Search the inspired book and desire to know everything which it teaches, for a little error may do much mischief to good teaching, like the fly in the pot of ointment. Even the omission of a truth may injure a man’s usefulness to a very great extent. The Lord does not bless some churches as we would expect them to be blessed, because they are in grievous error upon certain points; and, though he will bless that part of the testimony which is true, yet the other portion hinders. Probably one reason why Christianity does not spread so rapidly just now as it once did is this — that it is so mixed up in most denominations with human tradition and opinion, and because, also, there is so little willingness to examine doubtful points to see whether or not they are according to the mind of God. The church would be one with itself if it were one with the truth. It would be impossible that there should be so many divisions if we all held to the one Lord, one faith, one baptism; but there are sad errors which are allowed to go on from year to year unchallenged, and if any man is honest enough to speak out he is immediately charged with bigotry and uncharitableness. While these things are so, the blessing will be restrained.
11. My dear brother, if you would be eminently useful, let your mind bow before the doctrine of the Scriptures. Seek to know all that the Bible teaches, especially upon the main points of salvation, and yield yourself to the mind of Christ in all things. Desire to tell your fellow men just what the Lord tells you, no more and no less; and endeavour throughout your whole life to follow after revealed truth in its purity, rather than the dogmas of the fathers or the decrees of the sects. The truth as it is in Jesus, pure and simple as we find it in the word, should be our rule and guide. This will greatly help us towards success. It does not look like a very practical remark, but it is so. The Holy Spirit first gives the truth to our understandings, and then gives us grace to impart it to others. Get your ear be cleansed, thoroughly cleansed, to hear God’s word as God’s word, and be determined to know thoroughly what God’s word has really taught; so you shall be instructed to speak as God’s mouth to men.
12. The great thing, I believe, with a successful winner of souls is to hear God’s truth from God’s own mouth. What do I mean by this? I mean that a secondhand message is sure to be delivered rather weakly. A brother repeats a story which someone else has told to him! How cold it gets in passing from hand to hand: he who first saw the fact told it with far more life and energy. What you need to do, brother, is to tell the message as God himself has told it to you by his Holy Spirit. See how Ezekiel was prepared to prophesy. He says, “The hand of the Lord was there upon me; and he said to me, ‘Arise, go out into the plain, and I will talk with you there.’ ” Yes, we must get alone with God and hear what he will speak, for only like this can we fitly be his mouth to others. Do you want to know Christ’s way of making men useful? Turn to Mark and read, “He goes up into a mountain, and calls to him whom he would; and they came to him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons.” [Mr 3:13-15] Do you see the order? He calls them to him, — you must not dream of winning souls until you first come to Christ yourself. Next we read, “That they might be with him,” — you cannot go and teach Christ, or bring others to him, unless you have first been with him. Communion with Jesus is training for service. To remain with your Lord must be your college, and your preparation class for teaching others. After the fellowship comes the work — “That he might send them out to preach, and to have power.” The process requires that the man who is to have power for Christ must first be with Christ. He cannot work miracles until he has been with the great miracle worker.
13. “You shall hear the word from my mouth.” There lies the word in the book. What infinite majesty is there! As I read each letter in that Book of God I worship the eternal mind which dictated it; but oh, when the passage of Scripture leaps out of the book and enters into my soul, by the divine flame of the Holy Spirit, how much more mighty it appears. When my inner ear hears God speak the text, what energy there is about it. Sitting down with the Bible on my knee, I say to myself, “This is no common book which lies before me: there is an inspiration here, not the inspiration of Milton or of Shakespeare, but divine inspiration; this is the language of the Eternal, as truly so as though I now saw Sinai ablaze, and heard out of the thick darkness these accents ringing with trumpet tones, and with the deep thunder of ‘Thus says the Lord.’ ” When we consider like this we are in a right mood to hear the Lord’s word, and to speak it to others. We must acknowledge and feel the majesty of the gospel, and be conscious of its power, or we shall not properly warn men. Brethren, since this book is God’s word to your own souls, take care that you deliver it in deep reverence and holy awe to those whom you intend to instruct. Is it not the voice of God to you? When it speaks home to your heart, does it not move you as nothing else can do? I confess that the words of Scripture thrill my soul as nothing else ever can; they bear me aloft or dash me down, they tear me in pieces or they build me up in an unrivalled way. The words of God have more power over me than David’s fingers ever had over his harp strings. Is it not so with you? Well, you will speak to others with power in proportion as you continually feel the power of the word over your own heart and conscience.
14. This is very wonderful this hearing the truth newly spoken from the Lord’s mouth. Some will not know what I mean, but others of you will. The Holy Spirit has a way of showing to us the old texts in a new light, and applying them with new force, and this is what we greatly need.
15. “You shall hear the word from my mouth.” I would like you Sunday School teachers this afternoon, before you go to your classes, to go up stairs and say, “Good Master, let us hear what we have to tell the children; let us hear it in our souls as from yourself. We are going to warn and instruct and invite them; be pleased to show us how. Master, say the words to us. Make us to hear your voice, and when we have heard your message from your own lips we shall talk to the children in quite another manner from what is usual for us.” Brethren, in spirit maintain your fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, and so you will warn souls with warm, loving admonitions which God will bless. Let us be finished with secondhand messages; speak as the oracles of God.
16. Once more, to have our ear well tutored we must feel the force of the truth that we deliver. Ezekiel had to eat the roll; it must enter into himself before he could reveal its contents to the people. So we must feel the force and power of the gospel before we can effectively declare it. Sin, — are you going to talk about the evil of it? Do you know the evil of it for yourself? Get back to the place of repentance where you once soaked the earth with your tears, and talk to children or grownup people about sin in that spirit. Pardon, — are you going to speak about that? Do you know the sweetness of it? Go to the place where you first saw the flowing of the ever precious blood, and feel again your load of guilt removed, and you will speak of it most sweetly. The power of the Holy Spirit, — are you going to speak about that? Have you felt his quickening, enlightening, comforting, and sanctifying influence? Then according as you have felt you will be able to speak with effect. It is poor work to preach a Christ you never knew. It is terrible to talk about bread you have never tasted, of living water you never drank, and of joys you never felt. The farmer who labours must first be a partaker of the fruits. Go home, and ask the Lord to teach you, but do not go on his errands until first you have sat at his feet, for to those whom he has not taught, God says, “What have you to do that you should declare my statutes? First come and hear the word from my mouth, and then give the people warning from me.” I think I have said enough to show how the ear is to be disciplined.
17. II. Secondly, THE TONGUE IS TO BE EDUCATED. That is indeed the purpose of the discipline of the ear. And to what end is the tongue educated?
18. I answer, first, to be able to deliver an unpleasant message. Any man’s tongue is swift in telling good things; at least it ought to be, or else where is humanity? We are glad enough to tell you glad tidings of good things, but he who is to be useful must be willing to speak unpleasant things. Brothers and sisters, are you ready when you meet careless people to tell them truths that will be unpalatable to them; and when they are awakened are you willing in God’s name to try and smash to pieces their refuges of lies, to tell them plainly about the mistakes that they are so fond of, and point them to the only way of salvation? You and I cannot be useful if we want to be sweet as honey in the mouths of men. God will never bless us if we wish to please men, so that they may think well of us. Are you willing to tell them what will break your own heart in the telling and break theirs in the hearing? If not, you are not fit to serve the Lord. You must be willing to go and speak for God, though you will be rejected. See the seventh verse, where God says, “They will not listen to you, for they will not listen to me.” If they reject the Master, will they receive the servant? They took up stones to stone your own dear Lord and Master, and at last took nails to fasten him to the cross. Do you think they will listen to you? If God is to bless you, dear friend, you must be willing to bear witness for him even if no one should ever believe a word you say, because in so doing you will deliver your soul. Take good heed, all of you, to this danger of being guilty of the blood of others. Have not some of you quite forgotten it? There is blood on your skirts! Do you see the spots? Some of you who never said a word for Christ to your own children, I say there are big drops of soul-blood on your garments. Soul-blood is worse than the blood of the body, and you are smeared with it. Do you not see the spots? Wash them out, I implore you. Oh, you say, it is of no use warning them, they would laugh at you: but you would lose the bloodstains if you did. Their blood would not be required at your hands, therefore if you want to be useful be willing to do unpleasant duties in order to feel, “I have warned them and cleared my soul.”
19. Next, you need your tongue to be tutored to speak the truth as you yourself have heard it. You know there are several ways of speaking. I was trying to illustrate differences of speaking when addressing my students the other day. I said, “Suppose you saw by the look on my face, while I was sitting here, that I was in a terrible state of indignation when I rose to address you, you would say, ‘Now we are in for it; we can see by the look of him that he will drive at us.’ ” Just so when a man preaches, or warns others, it ought to be in a living style which indicates that something is coming. The man should be full of emotion, not moved by anger, but by a sacred passion which arouses him and makes the people feel that he is in awful earnest, carried out of himself, not delivering set phrases and words from his mouth outwards, but speaking from his innermost heart. Now, if we were to meet our Lord Jesus himself, and were then to speak of him in the state of mind in which his presence left us, what a style of speech that would be. I think I hear a mother, who has been with Jesus, talking to her girl. She says, “Dear child, there is such joy in loving Jesus that I pant for you to know it. He is so great and good that my dear little daughter must not forget him.” I can imagine that a father has met the Lord Jesus, and felt God’s truth sent into his own soul by the Holy Spirit, and I am sure that when he gets his boy alone he pleads with him in deep and tender earnestness, which commands the boy’s ear and heart. He does not know what has happened to his father; he is so earnest, and pleads so seriously, but the secret reason is that the father has listened to the Lord himself, and is himself the echo of that voice. Facts vividly brought before the mind greatly influence a speaker. A sinner seen as lost touches the heart. Jesus seen as crucified affects the speech. If I were to stand up in the council of a certain town to urge them to check all their fire escapes, I should do it with tremendous vehemence if I had just come out of the midst of that shuddering crowd which saw a poor woman hanging out of the window in the midst of the flames for lack of proper apparatus to reach her. Any man fresh from such a sight would plead with energy, his whole soul would burn as he thought of the poor perishing fellow creature in the midst of the fire. Would not yours? It is just so when you come fresh from talking with God; the truth is vividly comprehended, an awe is upon you, holy zeal and sacred ardour inflame your heart. If you live away from God you do not feel the value of the gospel message, nor the weight of men’s souls. The grandest of all truths loses force when they cease to be experienced facts, but their power returns when we come again under their actual influence. When the voice of the love of Jesus is still ringing in your ears, then with a deep awe-struck solemnity your whole soul is poured out at your mouth, and you speak as pleading with men that they would yield to God and accept his great salvation. The tongue must speak when the ear is tingling with the message of the Lord.
20. The tongue needs to be trained in the case of each one of us to deliver the message as from God. I do believe that God has given a commission to every Christian who knows the truth to proclaim it, and that there is authority given to every man who has the living water within himself to let it flow out, for it is written, “Out of the midst of him shall flow rivers of living water.” You see your calling, brethren. You may not all be called to the work of prophesying as ministers are, but you are all called by some means to warn men about the wrath to come and lead them to Christ, and I want you to feel that God is sustaining you when you warn sinners. Whenever you pray for a soul, or you weep over a soul, or drop one kernel of divine truth into a human ear, or utter one word of warning or expostulation, be assured that God is with you. God will honour his truth, therefore never be ashamed of it. Make your face like adamant if their hearts are like adamant; if they are not ashamed to sin do not be ashamed to warn them; if they are not ashamed of their unbelief, do not be ashamed of your faith in the divine testimony. The hosts of heaven are on your side, therefore do not be dismayed. Your faith may hear the noise of the wings of the living creatures, and the noise of the wheels, and the noise of a great rushing, for all heaven is astir when the watchman moves to warn the people. [Eze 3:13] If God is behind you speak boldly, and do not let your testimony be silenced.
21. The Lord tells Ezekiel that the people would be a restraint to him, and how often they are so. Failure often ties the preacher up so that he can scarcely speak. “You, oh Son of Man, behold they shall put bands upon you, and shall bind you with them, and you shall not go out among them.” What a grand verse the twenty-seventh is: “But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God; he who hears, let him hear; and he who forbears, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.’ ” No one can silence a mouth which God has opened.
22. May we henceforth feel that now, between here and heaven, we have souls committed to our charge, and that we will be clear of their blood. Each one of you has his little plot of ground to sow, you must resolve that it shall not lie waste. You will be called home very soon, my dear fellow workers, therefore work while it is day. I who have to lead you in this husbandry may soon be called away. I feel it, and I feel that the same is true of each one of us; therefore, since these poor souls are dying as well as we are, and they are sinking into hell for ever, do let us be in earnest, and may God help us to save them. Let us begin to weep, for weeping, perhaps, may be the best beginning for a higher life, as it was the beginning of our natural life. Let us cry to God; let us watch for opportunities, and as they come let us avail ourselves of them, if by any means we may save some. We no longer dare to fritter away life. Dare we? We dare not furnish a continuation of man’s foolish history, if, indeed, it is true that “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” We do not believe that statement, and if it is true we will alter it. Let us upset the stage, tear off the masks, and truly live. “Life is real, life is earnest,” as we shall know at the judgment seat of God. How real will it look by the light of the last great day. Come, let us ask to have ear and tongue trained, and let us begin now to serve our Lord by warning our fellow men.
23. III. I finish my sermon this morning by, in the third place, endeavouring to practise THE LESSON OF THE TEXT. I desire to speak to those of you who are unconverted, and to speak as if I had just come from an interview with my Lord and Master, as I trust I have. I want to speak as if I had just heard him say what I am going to repeat to you. Try and help me with your imagination; and may God give you faith.
24. I have to say to you, dear friends now present, that whatever may be your natural excellence of character, and whatever the religiousness of your training, yet all of you must be born again. You heard me say, “You must be born again”; but I want to say it as Jesus said it when one evening he was visited by a ruler of the Jews, a man of spotless character, of admirable reputation and of deep learning. Sitting alone with him, our Lord treated him with great kindness, but yet with solemn emphasis he said, “You must be born again.” Yes, young friend, there is much about you that is very admirable, and you know a great deal of divine truth, but “You must be born again.” The Master would lay a strong tender emphasis upon the “must.” “You must be born again.” Jesus would not demand of us more than is absolutely necessary, nor say a syllable that would tend to shut a soul out of heaven. If he says, “You must,” why then we must. I want you to admit that requirement.
25. Next I desire to introduce you to Jesus sitting at the well with the woman of Samaria. You can see the smile upon his face as he instructs her. I want you now to hear him say these words: “God is a Spirit: and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” I should like to say to you, dear friend, that all the outward forms of religion in the world will be of no value to you unless you are spiritual. You must have a spiritual mind and a spiritual nature through being born again: and then you must worship God in a spiritual way, for mere outward religion is nothing in his sight. I desire to warn you concerning that fact, but I would rather you should hear my Master say, “The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship him.” You believe it, do you not? Oh, ask that the Spirit of God would teach you how to worship in spirit and in truth.
26. Now listen to my Master again. He is addressing the Jews, and he uses these words. I give them accurately translated — “You search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they testify about me. And you will not come to me, so that you might have life.” I am glad that you read your Bibles, but how is it that you feel so easy when you have read your chapter every day? Do you think you will get salvation by Bible reading? Alas, you are in error. You must go further than that; you must go to Christ Jesus himself, Oh, that you would by an act of faith come to him this morning. Do you think this truth is harsh? I hope you do not, for it is the teaching of Jesus, and I have heard him say it to my own soul. You must come to Jesus himself, or the Scriptures will do you no good. The Scriptures are a sign-post pointing to Christ; it will never do to sit down by the sign-post, but we must hurry on to find the Lord himself.
27. Listen to my Master once again. He says to the Jews “If you do not believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins.” I know you will say that I speak harsh things. Perhaps I do, but not with a hard heart. Now, my Lord is always tender, never man spoke like this man, and never man wept as he did when he had a harsh thing to say; hear then his declaration, “Unless you believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins.” “Die in your sins.” Do you know what that means? To die in irons, to die in a ditch, to die on the gallows — these are nothing compared with dying in your sins!
28. I must tell you some other things which my Master says, because nowadays the fine new theologians do not like to have them spoken. I have heard him speak them in my very soul, and I must therefore warn you about them. He says there are tares growing among the wheat, and that the day will come when the angels will “gather the tares in bundles to burn them.” That is how he expresses the destiny of the ungodly. Hear how the modern divines hiss between their teeth, “Dreadful language. These horrible expressions are borrowed from Dante and Milton, and the old writers.” No Dante, Milton, and the old writers did not exist then, but Jesus himself says, “The Son of man shall send out his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Such will be the lot of some of you, unless you repent. Though growing up among Christian people, and hearing the gospel, and looking very like Christians, you will be separated from among the wheat to be cast into the fire.
29. Some of you are rich, and enjoy yourselves a great deal. I must tell you what Jesus said about one who fared sumptuously every day, but did not care for his soul. He said, “The rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifts up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ ” My Lord, my sweet Lord, my dying, my bleeding Lord, the man who receives sinners, it was he who spoke like this. I would not speak less tenderly than he if I were able, but I want to assure you rich people who have your comforts in this life, and yet are outside of Christ, that this is what will happen to you. Nor will this be for a time, but for ever. You will never be able to escape from torment according to my Master’s teaching, for he says there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who would come from there cannot. I urge you, therefore, take warning, as I would give you warning from his mouth.
The last thing that was ever seen of my Lord and Master upon earth
was this. He stood on tiptoe on this world which had treated him so
badly, and around him were gathered a few disciples. Just before he
rose out of their sight he addressed them in loving tones, and said,
“Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
They stood with their ears and eyes open to know how he would have
them proclaim the gospel, and he said, “He who believes and is
baptized shall be saved; he who does not believe shall be damned.”
Did he say that? Yes, just before the cloud received him out
of their sight, he said, “He who does not believe shall be
damned.” It was he who said it. I should have liked to have
seen how he looked when he spoke like this — the evident pain which
crossed his mind and showed itself in his eyes as he said in effect,
“There will be some who will not believe, but you must tell them
plainly, he who does not believe shall be damned.” I do warn you of
this men and women, every one of you: if I am not a believer in
Christ I shall be damned, and if you are not believers you will be
damned. I do beseech you do not run so dreadful a risk. Trust
yourselves with Jesus now and you shall be saved, for it is he who
says it and not I, — “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved”;
and again, “He who believes in him has everlasting life.” I do not
think he meant me to try and put this in any pretty form in order to
amuse you with it, and I have not tried to do so. I have spoken to
you very honestly his own word as best I know it. May he be pleased
to extract my frailties and throw them away, but may all that is his
own live in your souls and mine to eternal life. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Eze 2:9-3:27]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 63” 63]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — Come And See” 507]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Revivals and Missions — The Holy Spirit Invoked” 972]
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 63 (Song 1)
1 Early, my God, without delay,
I haste to seek thy face;
My thirsty spirit faints away
Without thy cheering grace.
2 So pilgrims on the scorching sand,
Beneath a burning sky,
Long for a cooling stream at hand,
And they must drink or die.
3 I’ve seen thy glory and thy power
Through all thy temple shine;
My God, repeat that heavenly hour,
That vision so divine.
4 Not all the blessings of a feast
Can please my soul so well,
As when thy richer grace I taste,
And in thy presence dwell.
5 Not life itself, with all her joys,
Can my best passions move;
Or raise so high my cheerful voice,
As thy forgiving love.
6 Thus, till my last expiring day,
I’ll bless my God and King;
Thus will I lift my hands to pray,
And tune my lips to sing.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 63 (Song 2)
1 Oh God of love, my God thou art;
To thee I early cry;
Refresh with grace my thirsty heart,
For earthly springs are dry.
2 Thy power, thy glory let me see,
As seen by saints above;
‘Tis sweeter, Lord, than life to me,
To share and sing thy love.
3 I freely yield thee all my powers,
Yet ne’er my debt can pay;
The thought of thee at midnight hours
Turns darkness into day.
4 Lord, thou hast been my help, and thou
My refuge still shalt be;
I follow hard thy footsteps now; —
Oh! when thy face to see?
Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.
Psalm 63 (Song 3)
1 Oh God, thou art my God alone:
Early to thee my soul shall cry:
A pilgrim in a land unknown,
A thirsty land, whose springs are dry.
2 Oh that it were as it hath been,
When praying in the holy place,
Thy power and glory I have seen,
And mark’d the footsteps of thy grace.
3 Yet through this rough and thorny maze,
I follow hard on thee, my God:
Thy hand unseen upholds my ways;
I safely tread where thou hast trod.
4 Thee, in the watches of the night,
When I remember on my bed,
Thy presence makes the darkness light,
Thy guardian wings are round my head.
5 Better than life itself thy love,
Dearer than all beside to me;
For whom have I in heaven above,
Or what on earth compared with thee?
6 Praise with my heart, my mind, my voice,
For all thy mercy I will give;
My soul shall still in God rejoice;
My tongue shall bless thee while I live.
James Montgomery, 1822.
507 — Come And See <7s.>
1 Sinners! come, the Saviour see,
Hands, feet, side, and temples view;
See him bleeding on the tree,
See his heart on fire for you!
2 View awhile, then haste away,
Find a thousand more, and say:
Come, ye sinners! come with me,
View him bleeding on the tree.
3 Who would still such mercy grieve?
Sinners! hear instruction mild,
Doubt no more, but now believe,
Each become a simple child;
4 Artful doubts and reasonings be
Nail’d with Jesus to the tree:
Mourning souls, who simple are,
Surely shall the blessing share.
Nicholas Louis Zinzendorf, 1736.
tr. by Charles Kinchin, 1742
Public Worship, Revivals and Missions
972 — The Holy Spirit Invoked
1 Oh Spirit of the living God,
In all thy plenitude of grace,
Where’er the foot of man hath trod,
Descend on our apostate race.
2 Give tongues of fire and hearts of love
To preach the reconciling word;
Give power and unction from above,
Whene’er the joyful sound is heard.
3 Be darkness, at thy coming, light,
Confusion, order in thy path;
Souls without strength inspire with might,
Bid mercy triumph over wrath.
4 Oh Spirit of the Lord, prepare
All the round earth her God to meet;
Breathe thou abroad like morning air,
Till hearts of stone begin to beat.
5 Baptize the nations far and nigh;
The triumphs of the cross record;
The name of Jesus glorify,
Till every kindred call him Lord.
James Montgomery, 1825.