A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, August 10, 1879, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *12/3/2012
(When the regular congregation unanimously left their seats to be occupied by strangers, who crowded the building to its utmost capacity.)
Whatever prayer and supplication is made by any man, or by all your people Israel, when each man knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands towards this house: then hear in heaven your dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart you know; (for you, even you only, know the hearts of all the children of men;) that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land which you gave to our forefathers. [1Ki 8:38-40]
1. You all know that the temple at Jerusalem was the one place of sacrifice throughout all the holy land, for thus had the Lord spoken, “Whatever man there is of the house of Israel, or of the strangers, which sojourn among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it to the Lord; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.” According to God’s law there was one altar, and it was considered a high crime when the tribes who lived beyond Jordan built another, and their brethren besought them, saying, “Do not rebel against the Lord in building an altar besides the altar of the Lord our God.” [Jos 22:19] Just as there was only one high priest, so there was only one altar; and sacrifice might not be offered anywhere else except on that altar at Jerusalem. Hence, when a man wished to present his offerings to God he went up to the one temple which Solomon dedicated by the prayer in which our text occurs. The people afterwards built altars on high hills and in green groves, but these places, and the sacrifices offered there, were contrary to the mind of God. There was only one altar and one sacrifice, and that was at the temple. Hence when the godly Israelite prayed he looked towards the one place of sacrifice, not in superstition, but in believing remembrance of the one sacrifice, and the one altar, and the one glorious sign of the divine presence which shone over the mercy seat within the veil. He knew that God could only accept him through the one sacrifice, and therefore he looked that way.
2. The people especially looked toward the temple in prayer in times of national calamity. In drought, or when the crops were consumed by locusts or by caterpillars, or when blight, and mildew destroyed the hope of harvest, or in time of war, or pestilence, their supplications were presented to the one Jehovah, all eyes looking towards his one sacred shrine where the one sacrifice smoked upon the altar. But, although there were those special opportunities, and God heard his people’s cry, as a nation, it is very pleasant to observe that he regarded the griefs of individuals. Every man, says the text, who knew the plague of his own heart was to spread out his hands towards that one place of sacrifice and pray, and God would forgive him and deliver him. That is my subject tonight. The Lord will hear whatever prayer and supplication is made by any man in reference to his own personal affliction, if his heart is turned towards God’s own temple.
But what is that temple and where is it? There are now no material
temples beneath the whole heaven, unless the bodies of believers may
be so called, and no one thinks of looking to them. No, “The Most
High does not dwell in temples made with hands.” No one place is more
sacred than another.
Where’er we seek him he is found,
And every place is hallowed ground.
There remains one temple, however, and that is the body of the Lord
Jesus Christ. He is temple, altar, and sacrifice; and if you would
look the right way in prayer, and if you desire your prayers to
prosper, you must look to him by the eye of faith. See, there he sits
at the right hand of God. Having finished the one sacrifice, and made
atonement for sin for ever, there he sits — priest, altar, offering,
temple; and every true supplicant must enter into the holiest by his
blood, “by a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us,
through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” Whoever beneath the
wide heavens is conscious of the plague of his own heart, or has
anything that plagues him or anything that troubles him, may turn his
eyes towards Christ, the true temple, with a certainty that God will
hear his prayer and answer his request, and send deliverance to him.
“We have an altar,” and that altar is our Lord’s own blessed person;
we have only one, and we tremble for those who set up another, but to
that one we look with confident hope, being assured that the
sacrifice once offered there has made our peace with God, and
procured acceptance for our supplications.
We rear no altar — thou hast died;
We deck no priestly shrine;
What need have we of creature aid?
The power to save is thine.
4. But now I must come nearer to the point in hand. The text speaks of “every man who shall know the plague of his own heart.” I am going to talk to you about that knowledge, and the plague with which it deals.
5. These are home affairs that we shall speak of tonight; not matters beyond our line, and impractical, but our own personal concerns, — “Every man the plague of his own hearts.” A great many men think they know the plague of other people’s hearts, and there is a great deal of talk in the world about this family, and that person, and the other. I urge you to leave the scandals of the hour alone, and think of your own evils. Tonight let each man consider his own home affairs, and not other people’s business. He would be a bad farmer who ploughed other people’s lands, and left his own untilled. He would be a poor gardener who used his hoe on other men’s weeds, and not on his own. Tonight I urge you to let each man think of home affairs. Yes, and let him think of heart affairs; for, whatever may be wrong about us, the worst place to have anything wrong is the heart. Out of it are the issues of life. We can endure the burdens of life, but “who can bear a wounded spirit?” A plague in the body is not half so bad as a plague in the heart — a plague in the soul: of all plagues the plague of the heart is the most severe. It is not the plague of another man’s heart which I have to think about tonight, but the plague of my own heart, for the text speaks of knowing, “Every man the plague of his own heart.”
It is a dreadful mischief that there should be a plague in the heart,
for a plague is a dreadful thing. A plague means, first, something
which brings pain; and there is many a secret heart-ache in this
world where we least suspect it. If you could take the roofs off the
houses of London strange sights would be seen, but if once you could
proceed to put a window into every heart, some of those whose faces
look the happiest would appear to us to be among the most miserable
of men. The plague of the heart means pain, care, worry, grief, and
trouble of mind: but it means more than that, for the plague is a
disease. Now, a diseased heart is something terrible. Often we
see it reported that a man died suddenly of disease of the heart,
which I suppose frequently means that the doctors do not know what he
died of; but certainly anything that ails the heart is a disease in a
most important organ. The hand may be cured, or we may even lose it
and live; but when the heart is affected the whole system gets out of
joint, and life itself verges dangerously upon the edge of death. As
it is with the heart of the body so it is with the soul’s heart: its
depravity, or, in other words, its moral disease, puts all the
faculties out of order and ruins our whole nature. Nothing can be
right with the immortal nature until the heart is cured of the plague
which came upon it through the Fall. The worst point about the plague
of the heart is the fact that if it is not removed it will ultimately
bring death upon the soul. Plague at the heart is mortal, and I
am much surprised if I do not have in this great congregation some
who have a present pain, a present disease of the heart, and who,
unless God by his grace leads them to adopt the cure we shall set
before them tonight, will perish through this deadly plague. Oh that
while I am speaking to you the Holy Spirit may lead many a sin-sick
soul to breathe out some such desire as that expressed by John Newton
when he wrote,
Physician of my sin-sick soul,
To thee! bring my case;
My raging malady control,
And heal me by thy grace.
Pity the anguish I endure,
See how I mourn and pine;
For never can I hope a cure
From any hand but thine.
Lord, I am sick, regard my cry,
And set my spirit free:
Say, canst thou let a sinner die,
Who longs to live to thee?
7. Now we come to close quarters. Our first point will be forms of this plague, the next will be mode of treatment, and the third will be help to be expected.
8. I. First, let us mention various FORMS OF THIS PLAGUE OF THE HEART. They are very many, perhaps almost as many as the hearts themselves.
9. Some have this plague of the heart in the form of a terrible memory. With a blood-red line remorse has scored their memories in an indelible manner. We need not go into details — a secret something known scarcely to anyone but themselves hides away in the tenderest part of their nature and eats out their vitals. They sinned — sinned terribly, and the sin haunts them. They could be happy if they could forget, but that one sin is always before them as though a blood spot were painted on their very eyes. They are reminded of it by the simplest events, for it seems as though God had put an accusing tongue into the stones they walk upon and the walls which surround them. Even their beds refuse them repose; they wake up in the darkness and sit in speechless horror, or if they fall asleep the visions of the night scare them. Few know of their fault, and yet they imagine that they are universally suspected. No one has cried shame upon them, but they cry shame upon themselves. It may not be one sin alone, but perhaps all their sins in one pack, bay at them and pursue them like bloodhounds eager to devour. They can hear the voice of their sins above all notes of music or shouts of laughter. When they would be quiet and at rest they cannot be, for they are tossed to and fro like an ocean in a storm. They have the plague of remembered sin upon them and see no remedy for it: tonight it is my cheering message that there is a cure for this form of heart plague, an effective cure. Transgression can be blotted out, even the greatest trespass can be altogether forgiven. Sin can be put away so that it shall not be mentioned against you any more for ever. Blessed be God for this. If this is the plague of your heart, have confidence and embrace the cure tonight.
10. With others it takes another form. Their heart plague has assumed the form of dissatisfaction and unrest. They cannot be quiet. They are like the troubled sea which cannot rest. They were a little pleased at one time when they had a new scheme on hand to divert their thoughts and amuse their minds. The scheme has prospered, but that prosperity has brought them no contentment; they must now be doing something else, and while the new plan is in full swing, they will forget for a little while, but when that also is accomplished they will sit down and cry, “What next? I am sick of all things, and most of all of myself. Life is worry and disappointment. I cannot be quiet. I crave a something, I do not know what.” There are hundreds and thousands of men who have all that heart can wish for, and yet are miserable. On the other hand I could point you to many hundreds who have very little in this world and yet are almost as happy as the angels, in full contentment rejoicing in their God. The plague in the heart rages fiercely in those who lack for nothing except the power to enjoy what they have. They have succeeded in their learning, and gained their degree, but increased learning has only enlarged the sphere of their turmoil. They have succeeded in business and have retired, but retirement is a weariness to them. They have prospered in everything, and this has become their adversity. Like the wise man of old, they cry, “Vanity of vanities! All is Vanity.” They mourn over all earthly good, saying, “There is nothing in it. It is an empty thing. Woe is me! Where is rest for my soul?” Again it is my glad errand tonight to tell you where perfect rest and sweet contentment can be found; where your soul shall dwell at ease and possess the earth, and inherit worlds to come, and your peace shall be like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. May the Lord God, the Holy Spirit, help you to avail yourselves of the blessed peace stored up in the one great Sacrifice which every unresting heart may have, if it will come to him.
11. This plague takes another form, and I mention several, so that I may come home to many hearts, and depict many experiences; in many it is a wretched tendency to some one sin, which, nevertheless, the man in his better moments does not wish to commit. Some are horribly plagued by their passions. They stand out against them occasionally, and come to a pause, and resolve, “It shall not be. In the name of everything that is good, it shall not be.” They hate and despise themselves for it, and yet they yield to overwhelming lust, and are hurried forward by their passions like sear leaves in the tempest, or spray dashed aloft by the storm.
12. Many individuals are plagued with the temptation to strong drink. They vow that they will abstain, but the serpent stings and they thirst for the firewater, and will have it, though it degrades their manhood below the level of the swine. With others lewdness and lust have gained the mastery, and the plague is foul indeed. With another class it is ungovernable anger, quickness of wrath, or that slow-burning, smouldering fire called malice, which is nearest akin to the fire of hell. Better burn with a lifelong fever than be the prey of these fierce heats. Some know the evil, which twines around them like a python, and they wish to resist it, and yet they are so fascinated by the sin that they cannot tear away the serpent folds. Many are as though they were taken in a net, or clothed about with lusts, until they are comparable to Hercules of old when he put the tunic which burned into his flesh and clung to his body, so that when he laboured to tear it off as best he could, he tore away his flesh with it. Many are enshrouded in a horrible robe of habit which has become a part of their being, the very skin of their souls. They cannot get rid of that awful fire-tunic — a tendency to sin. To them also I have the joy to proclaim, in the name of God, the all-merciful, that they can be redeemed from this: they can be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
13. In others, this plague of the heart is a wretched indecision — a perpetual vacillation. They are resolved at times, but their resolve ends in nothing. Oh, there are numerous men who know it themselves — that they never can succeed in life because they are “everything by turns, and nothing for long,” and especially in matters of religion they wax and wane like the moon. Today they repent: tomorrow they return to their sin. Today they are in earnest; tomorrow they are careless. Today they are almost persuaded to be Christians; tomorrow they are quite persuaded to find pleasure in sin. False as the waves and fickle as the winds, they are never long enough in one place to take root anywhere. Unstable as water, they shall not excel. Who can heal them of this moral palsy? Can nothing influence them in the right direction? Yes, there is One who can influence them. There is One who can throw the weight of his sweet love into the quivering balance, and make it turn in the right direction. Oh hesitating mortal, if you have grace to look tonight towards the one Sacrifice, the Holy Spirit will root and ground you in love, Jesus will make a steadfast man of you, and you shall yet say, “Oh God, my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”
14. I have known this plague of the heart in some to take the form of a mournful hardness, so that they cry, “I would, but cannot, repent. I would feel, but I cannot feel. I seem to be given up, seared as with a hot iron, and insensitive.” This is a fearful plague, perhaps worse than all I have previously mentioned because it is more fatal. Is there, then, no hope? Yes, there is one who can make the dead to live, who can take away the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh, and it is his name we preach tonight, the name of Jesus, who shall save his people from their sins.
15. There are others whom I continually meet who have a faintness of heart, a despondency of spirit, and this is their plague. They cannot believe that there is mercy for them. They cannot hope that they could live a new life. At times they feel a desire to turn to the Lord, but they think it is impossible; and that grim impossibility drives them back from Christ, and onward to even grosser sin. Many a man has said, “Because there is no hope, therefore I will sin to the very length of my tether. I cannot be saved, and so I may as well have the pleasures of sin to the full.” I urge you, dear hearer, do not let despair saddle you and ride you like this, for there is no reason for it. There is salvation where Jesus comes, and he comes here tonight. No man needs to say that he is denied a hope since Christ came into the world to seek and to save those who were lost. Oh, my hearer, hope as long as you live. To the very confines of death’s dominions and to the borders of hell let this word of mercy fly, “There is hope: there is hope.” For the most hopeless there is still hope. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
One other form of heart plague is a constant dread of the future.
Multitudes of people are always under apprehension, and especially
under apprehension of death. You must not mention death in some
places, the very word is horrible. Some would like, I dare say, that
the etiquette of the age should respect their cowardly fears and be
as daintily absurd as that of the French monarch who would not allow
death to be mentioned in his presence, and when his secretary read
the words, “the death of the king of Spain,” he sharply asked, “What
is that? What is that?” in anger that such a thing should be
mentioned in his sacred presence. The secretary was obliged to say
that it was a circumstance which occasionally happened to kings in
Spain. Scores of people would like us to be just as delicate as that
upon the subject of their end. But, oh sirs, you must die. The
youngest among us who is in best health will die — may die soon;
but where the snows of winter lie upon your heads, and where already
the tenement begins to crumble through old age, death must come.
Are you not prepared, my friend? Are you not prepared? Then I do not
wonder that you tremble at the very thought of being summoned before
your Maker’s judgment bar. But do not be as the ostrich which hides
its silly head from the hunter, and then dreams of being secure.
Learn to look death in the face, for it will soon stare you down. Do
you call yourself a Christian, and are you afraid to die? Oh! if God
had made you such a man as you ought to be you would not dread to
die, for death is a mere undressing for the true believer, an
undressing which leads to his being arrayed in glory. Death for the
saint is the gate of endless joy, and shall he dread to enter there?
To such as are in Christ who have looked to the one temple, to the
one sacrifice, to the one priest, to the one altar, the fear of death
is gone. Within them God has accomplished such a work, and for them
Christ has prepared such a heaven, that without apprehension they may
look through the gates of pearl, and often clap their hands for very
joy, as they sing —
See that glory, how resplendent!
Brighter far than fancy paints;
There in majesty transcendent,
Jesus reigns, the King of saints.
Spread my wings, my soul, and fly
Straight to yonder world of joy.
So elevated is the joyous experience of the true believer, that death for him would be unmingled gain, and he knows it to be so, and therefore at times he is even in a hurry to be gone.
17. Have I, in any of these descriptions, singled you out, my dear friend, tonight? Have you a heart plague like any of these? Or is it some other form of the great spiritual pestilence? I cannot spend any more time to describe it, for now I want to speak upon the mode of treatment. May the Holy Spirit help you to feel the plague, and accept the remedy upon the spot.
18. II. You desire to get rid of this heart plague — effectively rid of it; let us then consider the MODE OF TREATMENT, which will work a cure.
19. I hope you are not so foolish as to say, “I shall not think about the matter, for it would only plague me more”: That is a very bad habit, and only such as a frivolous or a wicked person would follow. A man is in business, and he says to his clerk, “Do not bring me the books, I do not want to know anything about my accounts. Do not let me see the journal or ledger; I would rather not be troubled with them.” The confidential clerk replies, “Sir, I think you ought to see your account at the bank.” “No,” answers the silly one “I should not like to be perplexed with figures, and balances, and losses, and deficits. I should not enjoy my dinner if I attended to these matters; let us drive dull care away and enjoy life while we may. Do not worry me, but keep those wretched books away.” I do not think it needs a prophet to foretell that this businessman will soon be in his creditors’ hands, with very few assets. By such avoidance of knowing his position he will be ruined as sure as doomsday. And whenever a man dares not look into the state of his own soul and dreads a half-an-hour alone, he may conclude that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark — something far, far gone with regard to his soul’s estate. He need not question that, I think. But let us not be so unwise, for the first mode of treatment we prescribe tonight, in order for the remedy, is that every man should know the plague of his own heart; that is to say, he should endeavour to get a true and accurate knowledge of his spiritual condition as in the sight of God.
20. What is this sin that troubles you? Honestly look at it. What is this fear that haunts you? Do you know what it is? I would advise you to write it down and see it in black and white. What is this tendency to sin that enslaves you? What is this wretched indecision. Get a diagnosis of the disease and be sure it is a correct one. Look at your own case through and through. It very much helps towards salvation when a man knows something of his need of it, and he will be very much helped to a sense of his need if he will impartially examine his own state. Might I ask such a thing, I fear it would not be granted, but I am sure good would come of it if I could get it — that every person tonight on his going home would sit down in his bedroom, look into the state of his heart before God, and then write on a piece of paper one of two words — “saved” or “lost?” My friend, do not write that word “saved” unless you can honestly and sincerely say, “I have looked to the Saviour, and he has saved me.” But suppose you are forced in honesty to your own conscience to write down the word “lost” as your true description, it will be both manly and useful to do so. I have known this to be done in cases in which, before the morning light, that piece of paper has been burned and another word has been written in its place, even the bright consoling word “saved,” Only foolish people object to enquiry concerning their state: do not be one of them. Write down the condition of your soul. Take stock, and make sure. Write down “impenitent,” if you are so: put it before you in black and white. Write “unbelieving,” if you are so. It cannot harm you to know the truth, and it may be of lasting benefit to you. We prescribe that to begin with.
21. Then, next, just as Solomon told those who knew the plague of their own heart to turn their eyes to the great sacrifice at the temple, so the next thing to do is to turn your eye to God. You cannot help yourself, and no one on earth can help you. Your case, apart from divine grace, is desperate. This heart plague will not die out of its own accord, nor will any change of your outward condition eradicate it. Turn, then, to the great physician and cry to him like this, “Lord God, you made me, you can mend me. You made me, you can make me over again. I am lost. Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, you can save me.” Look heavenward and Christward. Look to the bleeding Lamb, to the risen Redeemer. To look within will create despair, but to look to Christ on the cross, indeed, to Christ, who is now at the right hand of God, will create a living hope. Jesus is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him, since he lives for ever to make intercession for them” — to look to him is the main part of the cure. Bring God into the business; bring Christ into your trouble, for here lies your help. Look that way, I urge you. Look and live.
22. And when you have looked that way, the next thing to do is to spread the trouble before God. Some do not know how to pray. When you cannot pray begin your attempt in this manner: “Lord, I cannot pray; I cannot pray; oh, teach me to pray.” But you say you do not feel: then I would urge you to confess, “Lord, I do not feel. My heart is hard, Lord, cause me to feel.” Oh, but you say you are so troubled, and so unrestful. Go and tell him, “Lord, I am so troubled: I cannot rest. Help me; help me.” Tell it all to Jesus without reserve. I am persuaded that if you will confess the plague to God, you will soon find help from that act of confession. The Lord Jesus will speedily relieve your conscience in a very special and effective manner. Tell it to no man; tell it to God alone. Judas confessed to the priests, and you know what he did next. Confess to God, and you shall not go out to hang yourself, but you will go out to find that he is able to help you, for “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to save us from all unrighteousness.” Pour out your heart before him, and it will ease you mightily.
23. After confession is made, with your eye on the sacrifice, pray with your eye still upon the Lord Jesus. Pleading the blood of Jesus, be importunate for pardon. No man has truly sought God in prayer, looking to Jesus Christ, and has been refused, and there never shall be such a man. I remember how I was struck with what my mother said to me when she was pleading with me to lay hold on Christ, and I was despairing. She said, “There was never yet a man so wicked as to say that he had sincerely sought the Lord and asked for mercy from his hands through Christ, and yet had been denied.” Now, I thought that I had done so, and I felt sure that the Lord had refused me, and I half resolved in my mind that I would say as much; but I have never said it, for this reason, that I sought him again and found him, to the joy of my spirit. So shall it be with you, poor, weary seeker. You shall find him soon if you seek him with your whole heart. Eternity shall not reveal a single case in which Christ Jesus cast away a sinner who came to him. All hell shall be searched through, and they shall ask them, “Is there one here who can say that Christ rejected him when he came to him?” and though glad enough to blaspheme, there shall not be found among the damned a single tongue that shall dare to utter such a baseless slander against the Friend of sinners. My hearer, if you repentingly believe and yet are rejected, you will be the first. Come, then, indeed, come tonight, and confess the plague of your heart with your eye to Christ, and then plead with God, “Lord, save me.” I would put words into your mouth if I could. Say, “Lord, save me. I am lost, save me. There is a plague in my heart, heal it. I confess my great sin, Lord, blot it out. I acknowledge my present depravity and tendency to sin, Lord, tear up my sin by the roots. You know my turmoil, and my hardness of heart, Lord give me peace. There is something in me, I scarcely know what it is, that I must get rid of; Lord, rid me of it, for Jesus’ sake: Oh, for his Son’s sake, for his blood’s sake, for his death’s sake, for his resurrection’s sake, I beseech you, hear me.” Earnest, childlike pleading shall certainly have its answer. Only believe that the Lord can do this, and he will do it. Faith is the starting point of salvation, yes, it brings you to salvation itself. Jesus Christ said, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and the poor man answered, “Lord, I believe.” Follow his example. My Lord Jesus Christ is God as well as man. He is the Son of the Highest, and he came into this world, and took the form of man, and in that form he suffered, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God; why, then, should we doubt him? The merit of his precious blood is extremely great beyond compare, and he would have us believe in its eternal efficacy; why should we not? Do you say you cannot believe? Read over the story of the four evangelists, and then sit down for a while and think it all over. He who suffered so is God. The incarnate God died this shameful death to save the guilty. As surely as you look you will believe. The Holy Spirit will create faith in you by his own inspired testimony. You will say, “I do not know how it is, but faith comes stealing over me. I believe the dying Saviour’s love, and I cast my soul upon him.” That is the way of salvation — just to rest in Christ. Just as the pitcher hangs on the hook, so must we hang on Christ. Just as the babe lies in its mother’s arms without fear, so must we lie in the arms of Jesus. We must be nothing, and Christ everything. When we do this we shall have rest; rest from all the plague of the heart.
24. III. I close, lest I weary you, by mentioning, in the third place, HELPS WHICH WE MAY EXPECT TO RECEIVE if we follow the treatment which I have tried to describe.
The first help we shall have according to our text is, “Then hear in
heaven, your dwelling-place, and forgive.” In answer to your
confession and your prayer and your looking to the great altar and
the great sacrifice there shall come a free pardon from the court of
heaven. What a splendid word that is, “forgive,” when you know God’s
sense of it. It is to cast into the depths of the sea all memory of
sin, to blot it out as a paid debt, to drive it away as a cloud, to
cover it so that it is out of sight for ever, to cast it behind his
back, yes, even to cause it to cease to be as though it had never
been. I know one who differed from his friend, and spoke, under a
misunderstanding, more sharply than the case required. His friend was
quite able to fight his own battles, and say sharp things too. The
case was cleared up, and misapprehension removed, and he who had been
first offended said in all heartiness, “Let us take the sponge and
clean the slate and begin anew, as if the past had never been.” The
other was a good man and true, but he paused so much in his reply
that the first brother does not feel that he has healed the wound,
and felt tempted to say, “Say straight out that you do not mean to
forgive, and then I shall know where you stand.” A limping
reconciliation is half a feud. But when God forgives he means it, and
the offence is gone for ever. He cleans off the record. It is all
gone, every trace of it. I think I see that slate with your sins
written on it tonight, a long and heavy score, but if you go to the
Lord as I have described, he will wipe it all out. As far as the east
is from the west he will remove your transgressions from you. Do you
remember the story of Martin Luther when Satan came to him, as he
thought, with a long black roll of his sins, which truly might make a
swaddling-band for the round world? To the arch-enemy Luther said,
“Yes, I must acknowledge them all. Do you have any more?” So the foul
fiend went his way and brought another longer roll, and Martin Luther
said “Yes, yes, I must acknowledge them all. Do you have any more?”
The accuser of the brethren, being expert at the business, soon
supplied him with a further length of charges, until there seemed to
be no end to it, Martin waited until no more were forthcoming, and
then he cried, “Do you have any more?” “Were not these enough?”
Indeed, that they were. “But,” said Martin Luther, “write at the
bottom of the whole account, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us
from all sin.’ ” Brethren, this was a receipt in full, stamped in such
a manner that even Satan could not question the correctness of it.
However many or however few, all our sins are gone when the atoning
blood comes in. I have an ugly thing in my study; it is a piece of
iron, with a sharp point to it at the top, and the bottom is formed
of a rounded piece of wood. It is not an ornamental object,
especially since it holds impaled upon it a fine selection of bills,
which are inclined to go yellow and dusty. Bills are horrible things,
but although I have a file of them they never horrify me in the
least, for though they are very many, and some of them are for large
amounts, yet there is not one of them that does not have Her
Majesty’s head in the corner, with the name of the creditor to whom I
have paid it. I have no fear of these records either day or night;
in fact, it is a comfort to keep them now that they are discharged.
When I look at the old file I think of my old sins, pierced through
by my Lord, and kept in my penitent memory as a witness to the value
of his blood which has set me free from sin’s tremendous debt. Here
is the receipt for them all — “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanses us from all sin.” Some of you, I dare say, can look tonight
at many a file of your transgressions. Are the bills all receipted?
Are your sins all blotted out? Then you can bless the name of the
Lord that the plague of your heart is gone. You are not afraid to
live or afraid to die; for perfect pardon, irreversible pardon,
pardon which makes a sweep of all transgression and sinks it as in a
bottomless sea, from which it never can be washed up for ever — pardon,
perfect pardon is yours in Christ Jesus. How sweetly this now rings
out. Is there any music of silver bell that can equal it? Pardon!
Earth has a joy unknown in heaven —
The new-born peace of sins forgiven!
Tears of such pure and deep delight,
Ye angels! never dimmed your sight.
The freeness, fulness, perpetuity, and completeness of pardon is its greatest joy. Our Lord does nothing by halves, but plunges the whole of our guilt into the sea of his own blood, where it is drowned for ever, and, being justified by faith, henceforth we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. That is the first help we will mention, and who shall say that it is not a grand one?
26. Did you notice in my text a little word, which follows pardon, “and do.” Now, when the Lord forgives a man’s sins he then begins to do for him many wonderful things. For example, that hardness of the heart he melts down; that uneasiness he quiets; that tendency to sin he destroys by imparting a new tendency — a tendency to holiness. The Lord can make the old sinner to become a babe in grace, so that he shall be just as if he were born again — indeed, he shall be born again. An old man who had lived a vicious life sat down in his cottage a sad remnant of humanity, a worn-out waster of life, and when his little grandchild came with curly locks, and clambered up his knee, he patted his cheeks, and murmured to himself, “Oh God, if I could be a little child again and begin anew!” That wish of many shall be fulfilled for all who look to Jesus “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you shall in no way enter into the kingdom of heaven.” “You must be born again.” The mercy is that you may be born again. New life shall enter old hearts, or old hearts shall be made new and filled with eternal life, which for ever has the dew of its youth. Turning your eye to the great sacrifice, altar, temple, priest, even Jesus Christ, and crying to him the prayer of faith, his Spirit will come upon you, and working miracles upon you, will make you a new creature in Christ Jesus. Old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new.
After that the Lord will continue to do great things for you. He will
keep you to the end; he will lead you from strength to strength and
from joy to joy. He will make you useful, and that is what you never
dreamed you could be: the thorny waste shall bear fruit a
hundredfold. He will take you from among sinners, and place you among
saints; and placing you among the saints he will make your very
experience of sin to be instrumental for good. Just as none make
better gamekeepers than old poachers when they are reclaimed, so no
one seems better able to bring others to Christ than those who know
what sin and salvation mean by actual experience. Such people speak
of what they have felt in their own case, and when they are saved
they speak of a salvation which is obvious to everyone, for they are
such changed men and women that no one can deny the power of grace
upon them. How eagerly do I hope that my Lord Jesus will round up
enemy tonight. Oh Lord, come in and capture some out of this crowd.
Say to many who throng this building, “Tonight I must reside in your
house.” Oh my brother, live no longer an indifferent life, but begin
to care for your soul’s eternal interests. No longer oppose your
Saviour. Become one of his disciples. He has many such as you are,
and he does not despise them because they once rioted in sin; on the
contrary, he binds them to himself by the greatness of their former
guilt. They love him much because they have had much forgiven, and
they serve him all the more earnestly because of what he has done for
them. May the Lord grant that the same may happen in your case, for
Jesus Christ’s sake, and he shall have all the glory. Amen and Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 116]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation” 531]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Life Look” 538]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Only Plea” 556]
Just Published, Royal 32mo., Cloth Gilt.
Eccentric Preachers. No. 6 of Spurgeon’s Series.
“A more amusing and interesting book has not come from the press for a long while.” — Freeman.
Passmore & Alabaster, 4, Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.
531 — The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation
1 Jesus, th’ eternal Son of God,
Whom seraphim obey,
The bosom of the Father leaves,
And enters human clay.
2 Into our sinful world he comes,
Messenger of grace,
And on the bloody tree expires,
A victim in our place.
3 Transgressors of the deepest stain
In him salvation find:
His blood removes the foulest guilt,
His Spirit heals the mind.
4 That Jesus saves from sin and hell,
Is truth divinely sure;
And on this rock our faith may rest
5 Oh let these tidings be received
With universal joy,
And let the high angelic praise
Our tuneful powers employ!
6 “Glory to God who gave his Son
To bear our shame and pain;
Hence peace on earth, and grace to men,
In endless blessings reign.”
Thomas Gibbons, 1769.
538 — The Life Look
1 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
There is life at this moment for thee;
Then look, sinner — look unto him, and be saved —
Unto him who was nail’d to the tree.
2 It is not thy tears of repentance or prayers,
But the blood that atones for the soul:
On him, then, who shed it, believing at once
Thy weight of iniquities roll.
3 His anguish of soul on the cross hast thou seen?
His cry of distress hast thou heard?
Then why, if the terrors of wrath he endured,
Should pardon to thee be deferr’d?
4 We are heal’d by his stripes; — wouldest thou add to the word?
And he is our righteousness made:
The best robe of heaven he bids thee put on:
Oh! couldest thou be better array’d?
5 Then doubt not thy welcome, since God has declared,
There remaineth no more to be done;
That once in the end of the world he appear’d,
And completed the work he began.
6 But take, with rejoicing, from Jesus at once
The life everlasting he gives:
And know, with assurance, thou never canst die,
Since Jesus, thy righteousness, lives.
7 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
There is life at this moment for thee:
Then look, sinner — look into him and be saved,
And know thyself spotless as he.
Amelia Matilda Hull, 1860.
Gospel, Received by Faith
556 — The Only Plea
1 Jesus, the sinner’s Friend, to thee,
Lost and undone, for aid I flee;
Weary of earth, myself, and sin,
Open thine arms and take me in.
2 Pity and heal my sin sick soul;
‘Tis thou alone canst make me whole;
Fallen, till in me thine image shine,
And lost I am, till thou art mine.
3 At last I own it cannot be
That I should fit myself for thee:
Here, then, to thee I all resign;
Thine is the work, and only thine.
4 What shall I say thy grace to move?
Lord, I am sin, but thou art love:
I give up every plea beside,
Lord, I am lost — but thou hast died!
Charles Wesley, 1739.