A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *12/21/2012
I am made all things to all men, so that I might by all means save
some. [1Co 9:22]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1170, “By All Means Save Some” 1161]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1507, “Soul Saving Our One Business” 1507]
Exposition on 1Co 9:22-27 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2920, “Election: Its Defences and Evidences” 2921 @@ "Exposition"]
1. It is a grand thing to see a man thoroughly possessed with one master passion. Such a man is sure to be strong, and if the master principle is excellent, he is sure to be excellent too. The man with one purpose is a man indeed. Lives with many goals are like water trickling through innumerable streams, none of which is wide enough or deep enough to float the smallest cockleshell of a boat; but a life with one purpose is like a mighty river flowing between its banks, bearing to the ocean a multitude of ships, and spreading fertility on either side. Give me a man not only with a great purpose in his soul, but thoroughly possessed by it, his powers all concentrated, and himself on fire with vehement zeal for his supreme purpose, and you have put before me one of the greatest sources of power which the world can produce. Give me a man engrossed with holy love with respect to his heart, and filled with some masterly celestial thought with respect to his brain, and such a man will be known wherever his lot may be cast, and I will venture to prophecy that his name will be remembered long after the place of his sepulchre shall be forgotten.
2. Such a man was Paul. I am not about to set him upon a pedestal, so that you may look at him and wonder, much less that you may kneel down and worship him as a saint. I mention Paul, because what he was every one of us ought to be; and although we cannot share in his office, not being apostles; though we cannot share in his talents or in his inspiration, yet we ought to be possessed by the same spirit which motivated him, and let me also add we ought to be possessed by it in the same degree. Do you demur to that? I ask you what there was in Paul by the grace of God which may not be in you, and what had Jesus done for Paul more than for you? He was divinely changed; and so have you been if you have passed from darkness into marvellous light. He had much forgiven; and so have you also been freely pardoned. He was redeemed by the blood of the Son of God; and so have you been — at least, so you profess to have been. He was filled with the Spirit of God; and so are you, if you are truly such as your Christian profession makes you out to be. Owing, then, your salvation to Christ, being debtors to the precious blood of Jesus, and being quickened by the Holy Spirit, I ask you why there should not be the same fruit from the same sowing? Why not the same effect from the same cause? Do not tell me that the apostle was an exception, and cannot be set up as a rule or model for more common people, for I shall have to tell you that we must be such as Paul was if we hope to be where Paul is. Paul did not think that he had attained, neither was already perfect. Shall we think him to be so — so think him to be so as to regard him to be inimitable, and so be content to fall short of what he was? No, truly, but let it be our incessant prayer as believers in Christ that we may be followers of him as far as he followed Christ, and where he failed to set his feet in his Lord’s footprints may we even outstrip him, and be more zealous, more devoted to Christ than even the apostle of the Gentiles. Oh that the Holy Spirit would bring us to be like our Lord Jesus himself.
3. At this time I shall have to speak to you upon Paul’s great purpose in life; he tells us it was to “save some”; we will then look into Paul’s heart and show you a few of the great reasons which made him think it so important that some at least should be saved; then, thirdly, we will indicate the great methods which the apostle used to that end; and all with this view, that you, my dear hearers, may seek to “save some”; that you may seek this because of powerful reasons which you cannot withstand, and that you may seek it with wise methods such as shall succeed in the end.
4. I. First, then, brethren, WHAT WAS PAUL’S GREAT PURPOSE IN HIS DAILY LIFE AND MINISTRY? He says it was to save some.
5. There are ministers of Christ present at this hour, together with City missionaries, Bible women, Sunday School teachers, and other workers in my Master’s vineyard, and I am bold to enquire of each one of them — Is this your purpose in all your Christian service? Do you above all things make an effort to save souls? I am afraid that some have forgotten this grand goal; but, dear friends, anything short of this is unworthy to be the great goal of a Christian’s life. I fear there are some who preach with the view of amusing men, and as long as people can be gathered in crowds, and their ears can be tickled, and they can leave being pleased with what they have heard, the orator is content, and folds his hands, and goes back self-satisfied. But Paul did not lay himself out to please the public and assemble the crowd. If he did not save them he felt that it was of no avail to interest them. Unless the truth had pierced their hearts, affected their lives, and made new men of them, Paul would have gone home crying, “Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
6. It seems to be the opinion of a large party in the present day that the purpose of Christian effort should be to educate men. I grant you that education is in itself an extremely valuable thing, so valuable that I am sure the whole Christian church rejoices greatly that at last we have a national system of education, which only needs to be carefully carried out and every child in this land will have the keys of knowledge in his hand. Whatever price others may set upon ignorance we are promoters of knowledge, and the more it can be spread the better we shall be pleased. But if the church of God thinks that it is sent into the world merely to train the mental faculties, it has made a very serious mistake, for the purpose of Christianity is not to educate men for their secular callings, or even to train them in the more polite arts, or the more elegant professions, or to enable them to enjoy the beauties of nature or the charms of poetry. Jesus Christ did not come into the world for any of these things, but he came to seek and to save those who were lost, and he has sent his church on the same errand, and she is a traitor to the Master who sent her if she is beguiled by the beauties of taste and art to forget that to preach Christ and him crucified is the only purpose for which she exists among the sons of men. The business of the church is salvation. The minister is to use all means to save some; he is no minister of Christ if this is not the one desire of his heart. Missionaries sink far below their level when they are content to civilise: their first purpose is to save. The same is true of the Sunday School teacher, and of all other workers among children; if they have merely taught the child to read, to repeat hymns, and so forth, they have not yet touched their true vocation. We must have the children saved. We must aim at this nail, and the hammer must always come down upon this head — If by all means I may save some, for we have done nothing unless some are saved.
7. Paul does not even say that he tried to moralise men. The best barometer of morality is the gospel. When a man is saved he becomes moral — he becomes more, he becomes holy. But, to aim first at morality is altogether to miss the mark, and if we did attain it — as we shall not — yet we would not have attained that for which we were sent into the world. Dr. Chalmer’s experience is a very valuable one for those who think that the Christian ministry ought to preach mere morality, for he says that in his first parish he preached morality, and saw no good whatever arising out of his exhortations. But, as soon as he began to preach Christ crucified, then there was a buzz and a stir, and much opposition, but grace prevailed. He who wishes for perfumes must grow the flowers; he who desires to promote morality must have men saved. He who wants motion in a corpse should first seek life for it, and he who desires to see a properly ordered life should first desire an inward renewal by the Holy Spirit. We are not to be satisfied when we have taught men their duties towards their neighbours, or even their duties towards God: this would suffice for Moses, but not for Christ. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. We teach men what they ought to be, but we do far more; by the power of the gospel applied by the Holy Spirit we make them what they ought to be by the power of God’s Spirit. We do not put before the blind the things that they ought to see, but we open their eyes in the name of Jesus. We do not tell the captive how free he ought to be, but we open the door and take away his fetters. We are not content to tell men what they must be, but we show them how this character can be attained, and how Jesus Christ freely presents all that is essential for eternal life to all those who come and put their trust in him.
8. Now observe, brethren, if I, or you, or any of us, or all of us, shall have spent our lives merely in amusing men, or educating men, or moralising men, when we shall come to turn in our account at the last great day we shall be in a very sorry condition, and we shall have only a very sorry record to render; for of what avail will it be to a man to be educated when he comes to be damned? Of what good will it be to him to have been amused when the trumpet sounds, and heaven and earth are shaking, and the pit opens wide her jaws of fire and swallows up the unsaved soul? Of what avail even to have moralised a man if he is still on the left hand of the judge, and if, “Depart, you cursed,” shall still be his portion? Blood-red with the murder of men’s souls will be the skirts of professing Christians, unless the intention, and purpose, and goal of all their work has been to “save some.” Oh! I beseech you, especially you, dear friends, who are working in Sunday and Ragged Schools, [a] and elsewhere, do not think that you have done anything unless the children’s souls are saved. Settle it that this is the top and bottom of the business, and throw your whole strength, in the name of Christ, and by the power of the Eternal Spirit, into this one purpose — if by any means you may save some, and bring some to Jesus so that they may be delivered from the wrath to come.
9. What did Paul mean by saying that he desired to save some? What is it to be saved? Paul meant by that nothing less than that some should be born again; for no man is saved until he is made a new creature in Christ Jesus. The old nature cannot be saved; it is dead and corrupt; the best thing that can be done with it is to let it be crucified and buried in the sepulchre of Christ. There must be a new nature implanted in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, or we cannot be saved. We must be as much new creations as if we had never been: we must come a second time as fresh from the hand of the Eternal God as if we had been moulded today by divine wisdom as Adam was in Paradise. The Great Teacher’s words are, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you cannot tell from where it comes nor where it goes; so is everyone who is born by the Spirit.” “Unless a man is born again from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Then Paul meant men must be new creatures in Christ Jesus, and we must never rest until we see such a change performed in them. This must be the purpose of our teaching, and of our praying, indeed, the object of our lives, that “some” may be regenerated.
10. He meant, besides that, that some might be cleansed from their past iniquity through the merit of the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God. No man can be saved from his sin except by the atonement. Under the Jewish law it was written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” That curse has never been revoked, and the only way to escape from it is this: Jesus Christ was made a curse for us, as it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Now, he who believes in Jesus, who puts his hand upon the head of Jesus of Nazareth, the scapegoat of his people, has lost his sins. His faith is sure evidence that his iniquities were of old laid upon the head of the great Substitute. The Lord Jesus Christ was punished in our place, and we are no longer obnoxious to the wrath of God. Behold, the sin-atoning sacrifice is slain and offered on the altar, and the Lord has accepted it, and is so well pleased that he has declared that whoever believes in Jesus is fully and eternally forgiven. Now, we long to see men forgiven like this. We pine to bring the prodigal’s head into the Father’s bosom, the wandering sheep to the good Shepherd’s shoulder, the lost piece of money into the owner’s hands, and until this is done nothing is done. I mean, brethren, nothing spiritually, nothing eternally, nothing that is worthy of the agony of a Christian’s life, nothing that can be looked upon as deserving of an immortal spirit’s spending all its fires upon it. Oh Lord, our soul yearns to see Jesus rewarded by the salvation of the blood-bought. Help us to lead souls to him.
11. Once more; when the apostle wished that he might save some he meant that, being regenerated, and being pardoned, they might also be purified and made holy; for a man is not saved while he lives in sin. Let a man say whatever he wishes, he cannot be saved from sin while he is the slave of it. How is a drunkard saved from drunkenness while he still riots as before? How can you say that the swearer is saved from blasphemy while he is still profane? Words must be used in their true meaning. Now, the great purpose of the Christian’s work should be that some might be saved from their sins, purified, and made white, and made examples of integrity, chastity, honesty, and righteousness as the fruit of the Spirit of God, and where this is not the case we have laboured in vain and spent our strength for nothing.
12. Now, I protest before you all that I have in this house of prayer never sought anything except the conversion of souls, and I call heaven and earth to witness, and your consciences, too, that I have never laboured for anything except this, the bringing of you to Christ, so that I might present you at last to God accepted in the Beloved. I have not tried to gratify depraved appetites either by novelty of doctrine or ceremonies, but I have kept to the simplicity of the gospel. I have kept back no part of the price of God’s word from you, but I have endeavoured to give you the whole counsel of God. I have sought out no fineries of speech, but have spoken plainly, and very straight at your hearts and consciences, and if you are not saved, I mourn and lament before God that up to this day, though I have preached hundreds of times to you, yet I have preached in vain. If you have not accepted Christ, if you have not been washed in the fountain filled with blood, you are waste pieces of soil from which no harvest has yet come. You tell me, perhaps, that you have been kept from a great many sins, that you have learned a great many truths by coming here. So far so good; but could I afford to live for this, merely to teach you certain truths or keep you back from public sins? How could this satisfy me if I knew all the while that you were still unsaved, and must, therefore, after death, be cast into the flames of hell? Indeed, beloved, before the Lord I consider nothing to be worthy of your pastor’s life, and soul, and energy except the winning of you to Christ. Nothing except your salvation can ever make me feel that my heart’s desire is granted. I ask every worker here to see to this, that he never turns aside from shooting at this target, and at the centre of this target, too, namely, that he may win souls for Christ, and see them born to God, and washed in the fountain filled with blood. Let the workers’ hearts ache, and yearn, and their voices cry until their throats are hoarse, but let them judge that they have accomplished nothing whatever until, at least, in some cases, men are really saved. As the fisherman longs to take the fish in his net, as the hunter pants to bring home his spoil, as the mother pines to clasp her lost child to her bosom, so do we faint for the salvation of souls, and we must have them, or we are ready to die. Save them, oh Lord, save them for Christ’s sake.
13. But now we must leave that point for another.
14. II. THE APOSTLE HAD GREAT REASONS FOR CHOOSING SUCH A PURPOSE IN LIFE.
15. Were he here I think he would tell you that his reasons were something of this kind. To save souls! If they are not saved how is God dishonoured! Did you ever think over the amount of dishonour that is done to the Lord our God in London in any one hour of the day? Take, if you will, this prayer hour, when we are gathered here ostensibly to pray. If the thoughts of this great assembly could all be read, how many of them would be dishonouring to the Most High! But outside of every house of prayer, outside of every place of worship of every kind, think of the thousands and tens of thousands, the hundreds of thousands, who have all this day neglected the very semblance of the worship of the God who has made them, and who sustains their lives! Think of how many times the door of the gin palace has swung on its hinges during this holy hour: how many times God’s name has been blasphemed at the drinking bar! There are worse things than these, if worse can be, but I shall not lift the veil. Transfer your thoughts to an hour or so later, when the veil of darkness has descended. Shame will not permit us even to think of how God’s name is dishonoured in the people of those whose first father was made after the image of God, but who pollute themselves to be the slaves of Satan and the prey of bestial lusts! Alas! alas! for this city, it is full of abominations, of which the apostle said, “It is a shame even to speak of those things which were done by them in secret.” Christian men and women, nothing can sweep away the social evil except the gospel. Vices are like vipers, and only the voice of Jesus can drive them out of the land. The gospel is the great broom with which to cleanse the filthiness of this city, and nothing else will avail. Will you not, for God’s sake, whose name is profaned every day, seek to save some? If you will enlarge your thoughts and take in all the great cities of the Continent; indeed, further still, take all the idolaters of China and India, the worshippers of the false prophet and the antichrist, what a mass of provocation do we have here! What a smoke in Jehovah’s nose must this false worship be! How he must often put his hand to the hilt of his sword as though he would say, “Ah! I will rid myself of my adversaries.” But he bears it patiently. Let us not become indifferent to his longsuffering, but day and night let us cry to him, and daily let us labour for him if by any means we may save some for his glory’s sake.
16. Think, dear friends, also, of the extreme misery of our human race. It would be a very dreadful thing tonight if you could get any idea of the aggregate of the misery of London at the present moment in the hospital and the workhouse. Now, I would not say half a word against poverty, wherever it comes it is a bitter evil; but you will see as you notice carefully that, while a few are poor because of unavoidable circumstances, most of the poverty of London is the sheer and clear result of profuseness, lack of forethought, idleness, and, worst of all, of drunkenness. Ah, that drunkenness! That is the master evil. If drink could only be gotten rid of we might be sure of conquering the very devil himself. The drunkenness created by the infernal liquor dens which plague all of this huge city, is appalling. No, I did not speak in haste, or let slip a hasty word; many of the drink houses are nothing less than infernal: in some respects they are worse, for hell has its uses as the divine protest against sin, but as for the gin palace there is nothing to be said in its favour. The vices of the age cause three quarters of all the poverty. If you could look at the homes tonight, the wretched homes where women will tremble at the sound of their husband’s foot as he comes home, where little children will crouch down with fear upon their little heap of straw because the human brute who calls himself “a man” will come reeling home from the place where he has been indulging his appetites — if you could look at such a sight, and remember that it will be seen ten thousand times over tonight, I think you would say, “God help us by all means to save some.” Since the great axe to lay at the root of the deadly upas tree [b] is the gospel of Christ, may God help us to hold that axe there, and to work constantly with it until the huge trunk of the poison tree begins to rock to and fro, and we cut it down, and London is saved, and the world is saved from the wretchedness and the misery which now drips from every bough.
17. Again, dear friends, the Christian has other reasons for seeking to save some; and chiefly because of the terrible future of impenitent souls. That veil which hangs before me is not penetrated by every glance, but he who has his eye touched with heavenly eyesalve sees through it, and what does he see? Myriads upon myriads of spirits in dread procession passing from their bodies, and passing — where? Unsaved, unregenerate, unwashed in precious blood, we see them go up to the solemn judgment bar from where in silence the sentence is pronounced, and they are banished from the presence of God, banished to horrors which are not to be described nor even to be imagined. This alone would be enough to cause us distress day and night. This decision of destiny has about it a terrible solemnity. But the resurrection trumpet sounds. Those spirits come out from their prison-house. I see them returning to earth, rising from the pit to the bodies in which they lived: and now I see them stand — multitudes, multitudes, multitudes, multitudes — in the Valley of Decision. And HE comes, with the crown upon his head and the books before him, sitting on a great white throne. And there they stand as prisoners at the judgment bar. My vision now perceives them — how they tremble! How they quiver like aspen leaves in the breeze! Where can they flee? Rocks cannot hide them, mountains will not open their bowels to conceal them! What shall become of them? The dread angel takes the sickle, reaps them as the reaper cuts up the tares for the oven, and as he gathers he casts them down where despair shall be their everlasting torment! Woe is me, my heart sinks as I see their doom, and hear the terrible cries of their too late awakening. Save some, oh Christians! By all means save some. By those flames, and outer darkness, and the weeping, and the wailing, and the gnashing of teeth, seek to save some. Let this, as in the case of the apostle, be your great, your ruling purpose in life, so that by all means you may save some.
18. For, oh! if they are saved, observe the contrast. Their spirits mount to heaven, and after the resurrection their bodies ascend also, and there they praise redeeming love. No fingers are more nimble on the harp strings than theirs! No notes are more sweet than theirs, as they sing, “To him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, be glory for ever and ever.” What bliss to see the once rebellious brought home to God, and heirs of wrath made possessors of heaven. All this is involved in salvation. Oh that myriads may come to this blessed state. “Save some” — oh! some at least. Seek that some may be there in glory. Behold your Master. He is your pattern. He left heaven to save some. He went to the cross, to the grave, to “save some”: this was the great purpose of his life, to lay down his life for his sheep. He loved his church and gave himself for it, so that he might redeem her to himself. Imitate your Master. Learn his self-denial and his blessed consecration if by any means you may save some.
My soul yearns that I personally may “save some,” but my desire is
broader than that. I would have every one of you, my beloved
friends, associated here in church fellowship to become spiritual
parents of children for God. Oh, that every one of you might “save
some.” Yes, my venerable brethren, you are not too old for service.
Yes, my young friends, you young men and maidens, you are not too
young to be recruits in the King’s service. If the kingdom is ever to
come to our Lord, and it will come, it never will come through a few
ministers, missionaries, or evangelists preaching the gospel. It must
come through every one of you preaching it — in the shop and by the
fireside, when walking outside and when sitting in the room. All of
you must be always endeavouring to “save some.” I would enlist you
all afresh tonight, and bind anew the King’s colours upon you. I wish
that you would fall in love with my Master all over again, and enter
a second time upon the love of your espousals. There is a hymn of
Cowper’s which we sometimes sing —
“Oh for a closer walk with God!”
May we get to have a closer walk with him, and if we do so we shall also feel a more vehement desire to magnify Christ in the salvation of sinners. I would like to press the enquiry upon my hearers tonight, you who are saved — How many others have you brought to Christ? You cannot do it by yourself, I know; but I mean how many has the Spirit of God brought by you? How many, did I say? Is it quite certain that you have led any to Jesus? Can you not remember one? I pity you, then! “Write,” said Jeremiah, “Write that man childless.” That was considered to be a fearful curse. Shall I write you childless, my beloved friends? Your children are not saved, your wife is not saved, and you are spiritually childless. Can you bear this thought? I urge you to wake up from your slumbering and ask the Master to make you useful. “I wish the saints cared for us sinners,” said a young man. “They do care for you,” answered one, “care very much for you.” “Why do they not show it, then?” he said, “I have often wished to have a talk about good things, but my friend, who is a member of the church, never broaches the subject, and seems to study how to keep clear of it when I am with him.” Do not let them say so. Do tell them about Christ and divine things, and make this your resolve, every one of you, so that if men perish they shall not perish for lack of your prayers, nor for lack of your earnest and loving instructions. May God give each one of you grace to resolve by all means to save some, and then to carry out your intention.
20. III. But my time is almost gone, and therefore I have to mention, in the last place, THE GREAT METHODS WHICH THE APOSTLE USED.
21. How did he who so longed to “save some” go about it? Why, first of all, by simply preaching the gospel of Christ. He did not attempt to create a sensation by startling statements, neither did he preach erroneous doctrine in order to obtain the assent of the multitude. I fear that some evangelists preach what in their own minds they must know to be untrue. They keep back certain doctrines, not because they are untrue but because they do not give scope enough for their ravings, and they make loose statements because they hope to reach more minds. However earnest a man may be for the salvation of sinners I do not believe that he has any right to make any statement, which his sober judgment will not justify. I think I have heard at revival meetings of things said and done which were not according to sound doctrine, but which were always excused by “the excitement of the occasion.” I hold that I have no right to state false doctrine, even if I knew it would save a soul. The supposition is, of course, absurd; but it makes you see what I mean. My business is to bring to bear upon men, not falsehood, but truth; and I shall not be excused if under any pretence I palm off a lie upon the people. Rest assured that to keep back any part of the gospel is not the right, nor the true method for saving men. Tell the sinner all the doctrines. If you hold Calvinistic doctrine, as I hope you do, do not stutter about it, nor stammer over it, but speak it out. Depend upon it, many revivals have become imperceptible because a full-orbed gospel was not proclaimed. Give the people every truth, every truth baptized in holy fire, and each truth will have its own useful effect upon the mind. But the great truth is the cross, the truth that “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Brethren, keep to that. That is the bell for you to ring. Ring it, man! Ring it! Keep on ringing it. Sound out that note upon your silver trumpet, or if you are only a ram’s horn, sound it out, and the walls of Jericho will come down.
Alas for the fineries of our “cultured” modern divines. I hear them
crying out, and denouncing my old-fashioned advice. This talking
about Christ crucified is said to be archaic, conventional, and
antique, and not at all suitable for the refinement of this wonderful
age. It is astonishing how learned we have all become recently. We
are getting so very wise, I am afraid we shall ripen into fools
before long, even if we have not arrived at it already. People want
“thinking” nowadays, so it is said, and the working men will go
where science is deified and profound “thought” is enshrined. I
have noticed that as a general rule wherever the new “thinking”
drives out the old gospel there are more spiders than people, but
where there is the simple preaching of Jesus Christ, the place is
crowded to the doors. Nothing else will crowd a meeting-house, after
all, for any length of time, but the preaching of Christ crucified.
But concerning this matter, whether it is popular or unpopular, our
mind is made up and our foot is put down. We have no question
regarding our own course. If it is foolish to preach atonement by
blood, we will be fools; and if it is madness to stick to the old
truth, just as Paul delivered it, in all its simplicity, without any
refinement, or improvement, we intend to stick to it, even if we are
pilloried as being incapable of progressing with the age, for we are
persuaded that this “foolishness of preaching” is a divine ordinance,
and that the cross of Christ which trips up so many, and is ridiculed
by so many more, is still the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Yes, just the old-fashioned truth — if you believe you shall be
saved — we will stick to that, and may God send his blessing upon it
according to his own eternal purpose. We do not expect this preaching
to be popular, but we know that God will justify it before long.
Meanwhile, we are not staggered because
The truths we love a sightless world blasphemes
As childish dotage, and delirious dreams;
The danger they discern not they deny;
Laugh at their only remedy, and die.
23. Next to this, Paul used much prayer. The gospel alone will not be blessed; we must pray over our preaching. A great painter was asked what he mixed his colours with, and he replied he mixed them with brains. It was good for a painter, but if anyone should ask a preacher what he mixes truth with, he ought to be able to answer — with prayer, much prayer. When a poor man was breaking granite by the roadside, he was down on his knees while he gave his blows, and a minister passing by said, “Ah, my friend, here you are at your hard work; your work is just like mine; you have to break stones, and so do I.” “Yes,” said the man, “and if you manage to break stony hearts, you will have to do it as I do, go down on your knees.” The man was right, no one can use the gospel hammer well unless he is much on his knees, but the gospel hammer soon splits flinty hearts when a man knows how to pray. Prevail with God, and you will prevail with men. Let us come fresh from the prayer closet to the pulpit, with the anointing oil of God’s Spirit fresh upon us. What we receive in secrecy we are cheerfully to dispense in public. Let us never venture to speak for God to men, until we have spoken for men to God. Yes, dear hearers, if you want a blessing on your Sunday School teaching, or any other form of Christian labour, mix it up with fervent intercession.
24. And then observe one other thing. Paul went to his work always with an intense sympathy for those he dealt with — a sympathy which made him adapt himself to each case. If he talked to a Jew, he did not begin at once blurting out that he was the apostle of the Gentiles, but he said he was a Jew, since he was Jew. He raised no questions about nationalities or ceremonies. He wanted to tell the Jew of him of whom Isaiah said, “He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” in order that he might believe in Jesus and so be saved. If he met a Gentile, the apostle of the Gentiles never showed any of the squeamishness which might have been expected to cling to him on account of his Jewish education. He ate as the Gentile ate, and drank as he did, sat with him, and talked with him; was, as it were, a Gentile with him; never raising any question about circumcision or uncircumcision, but solely wishing to tell him about Christ, who came into the world to save both Jew and Gentile, and to make them one. If Paul met a Scythian, he spoke to him in the Barbarian tongue, and not in classical Greek. If he met a Greek, he spoke to him as he did at the Areopagus, with language that was suited for the polished Athenian. He was all things to all men, so that he might by all means save some. So with you, Christian people: your one business in life is to lead men to believe in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, and every other thing should be made subservient to this one purpose; if you can only get them saved, everything else will come right in due time. Mr. Hudson Taylor, a dear man of God, who has laboured much in Inland China, finds it helpful to dress as a Chinaman, and wear a pigtail. He always mingles with the people, and as far as possible lives as they do. This seems to me to be a truly wise policy. I can understand that we shall win over a congregation of Chinese by becoming as Chinese as possible, and if this is the case we are bound to be Chinese to the Chinese to save the Chinese. It would not be amiss to become a Zulu to save the Zulus, though we must take care that we do it in another sense than Colenso did. [c] If we can put ourselves on a level with those whose good we seek, we shall be more likely to achieve our purpose than if we remain aliens and foreigners, and then talk about love and unity. To sink myself to save others is the idea of the apostle. To throw overboard all peculiarities, and yield a thousand indifferent points, in order to bring men to Jesus, is our wisdom if we would extend our Master’s kingdom. Never may any whim or conventionality of ours keep a soul from considering the gospel, — that would be horrible indeed. Better far to be personally inconvenienced by compliance with things indifferent, than to retard a sinner’s coming by quarrelling about trifles. If Jesus Christ were here today, I am sure he would not put on any of those gaudy rags in which the Puseyite [d] delights himself. I cannot imagine our Lord Jesus Christ decked out in that style. Why, the apostle tells our women that they are to dress themselves modestly, and I do not think Christ would have his ministers set an example of tomfoolery: but yet even in dress something may be done on the principle of our text. When Jesus Christ was here, what dress did he wear? To put it in plain English, he wore a smock-frock. [e] He wore the common dress of his countrymen — a garment woven from the top throughout, without a seam; and I think he would have his ministers wear that attire which is most like the dress which their hearers wear in common, and so even in dress associate with their hearers, and be one among them. He would have you teachers, if you want to save your children, talk to them like children, and make yourselves children if you can. You who want to get at young peoples’ hearts must try to be young. You who wish to visit the sick must sympathise with them in their sickness. Get to speak as you would like to be spoken to if you were sick. Come down to those who cannot come up to you. You cannot pull people out of the water without stooping down and getting hold of them. If you have to deal with bad characters you must come down to them, not in their sin, but in their roughness and in their style of language, in order to get a hold of them. I pray God that we may learn the sacred art of soul winning by adaptation. They called Mr. Whitfield’s chapel at Moorfields “The Soul Trap.” Whitfield was delighted, and said he hoped it always would be a soul trap. Oh that all our places of worship were soul traps, and every Christian a fisher of men, each one doing his best, as the fisherman does, by every art and skill to catch those they fish for. Well may we use all means to win so great a prize as a spirit destined for eternal weal or woe. The diver plunges deep to find pearls, and we may accept any labour or hazard to win a soul. Rouse yourselves, my brethren, for this Godlike work, and may the Lord bless you in it.
I commend these wandering thoughts to your earnest attention. I pray
the ungodly to remember what their ruin will be unless they come to
Jesus and trust in him; and I ask believers to be doubly earnest from
this time on in labouring to save the souls of men, and may God send
us such a blessing that we shall not have room to receive it.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 1Co 1]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Revivals and Missions — The Holy Spirit Invoked” 972]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Its Excellencies — The Different Success Of The Gospel” 483]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Second Advent — An Admonition” 365]
[a] Ragged Schools: A free school for children of the poorest class. OED.
[b] Upas: A fabulous tree alleged to have existed in Java, at some distance from Batavia, with properties so poisonous as to destroy all animal and vegetable life to a distance of fifteen or sixteen miles around it. OED.
[c] For the life history of Bishop J. W. Colenso See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Colenso". His views on the Bible were most liberal and warped to fit current scientific thought.
[d] Puseyite: A follower of Pusey; a supporter or promoter of the Oxford or Tractarian Movement. Puseyism was a name given by opponents to the theological and ecclesiastical principles and doctrines of Dr. Pusey and those with whom he was associated in the “Oxford Movement” for the revival of Catholic doctrine and observance in the Church of England which began about 1833; more formally and courteously called Tractarianism. Now little used. Dr. Pusey’s initials were appended to No. 18 (21 Dec. 1833, on Fasting) of the Tracts for the Times, and, of the ninety, seven were written by him. His academic and ecclesiastical position gave great weight to his support of the movement, and specially associated his name with it. OED.
[e] Smock-frock: A loose fitting garment of coarse linen or the like, worn by farm labourers over or instead of a coat and usually reaching to midleg or lower. OED.
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.
Gospel, Its Excellencies
483 — The Different Success Of The Gospel
1 Christ and his cross is all our theme;
The mysteries that we speak
Are scandal in the Jew’s esteem,
And folly to the Greek.
2 But souls enlighten’d from above
With joy receive the Word;
They see what wisdom, power, and love,
Shine in their dying Lord.
3 The vital savour of his name
Restores their fainting breath;
But unbelief perverts the same
To guilt, despair, and death.
4 Till God diffuse His graces down,
Like showers of heavenly rain,
In vain Apollos sows the ground,
And Paul may plant in vain.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
Jesus Christ, Second Advent
365 — An Admonition
1 How will my heart endure
The terrors of that day;
When earth and heaven, before his face,
Astonish’d shrink away?
2 But ere that trumpet shakes
The mansions of the dead;
Hark, from the gospel’s gentle voice,
What joyful tidings spread!
3 Ye sinners, seek his grace,
Whose wrath ye cannot bear;
Fly to the shelter of his cross,
And find salvation there
4 So shall that curse remove,
By which the Saviour bled;
And the last awful day shall pour
His blessings on your head.
Philip Doddridge, 1755.