1714. Earnest Expostulation

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No. 1714-29:193. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, April 1, 1883, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? {Ro 2:4}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1714, “Earnest Expostulation” 1715}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2857, “God’s Goodness Leading to Repentance” 2858}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3154, “Concerning the Forbearance of God” 3155}

1. The apostle is intensely personal in his address. This verse is not spoken to us all in the mass, but to some one in particular. The apostle fixes his eyes upon a single person, and speaks to him as “Thee” and “Thou.” “Do you {thou} despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you {thee} to repentance?” It should always be the intent of the preacher to convey his message to each hearer individually. It is always a very happy sign when a man begins to think of himself as an individual, and when the expostulations and invitations of the gospel are seen by him to be directed to himself personally. I will give nothing for that indirect, essay-like preaching which is as the sheet lightning of summer, dazzling for the moment, and flaming over a broad expanse, but altogether harmless, since no bolt is launched from it, and its ineffective fires leave no trace behind. I will give nothing for that kind of hearing which consists in the word being heard by everyone in general, and by no one in particular. When the preacher can “Thee” and “Thou” his hearers then he is likely to do them good. When each man is made to say, “This is for me,” then the power of God is present in the word. One personal, intentional touch of the hem of Christ’s garment conveys more blessing than all the pressure of the crowd that thronged around the Master. The laying of his healing hand upon the individual who was suffering had more power in it than all those heavenly addresses which fell from his lips upon minds that did not receive the truth for themselves. I pray that we may come to personal dealings with the Lord individually, and that the Spirit of God may convince each man and each woman, according as the case may stand before the living God. Oh my hearer, you are now to be lovingly spoken with: I do not speak to you as to many, but to you, as one by yourself.

2. Observe that the apostle singled out an individual who had condemned others for transgressions, in which he himself indulged. This man possessed so much spiritual light that he knew right from wrong, and he diligently used his knowledge to judge others, condemning them for their transgressions. As for himself, he preferred the shade, where no fierce light might beat on his own conscience and disturb his unholy peace. His judgment was spared the pain of dealing with his home offences by being set to work upon the faults of others. He had a candle, but he did not place it on the table to light his own room; he held it out at the front door to inspect his neighbours with it who passed by. Ho! my good friend, my sermon is for you. Paul looks this man in the face and says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, oh man, whoever you are, who judge: for however you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge do the same things”: and then he pointedly says to him: “Do you think this, oh man, you judge them who do such things, and do the same, that you shall escape the judgment of God?” Well did the apostle aim that piercing arrow; it hits the centre of the target and strikes a folly common to mankind. The poet of the night-watches wrote, — 

   “All men think all men mortal but themselves.”

As truly might I say, “All men think all men guilty but themselves.” The punishment which is due to sin the guilty think to be surely impending upon others, but they scarcely believe that it can ever fall upon themselves. A personal doom for themselves is an idea which they will not harbour: if the dread thought should light upon them they shake it off as men shake snowflakes from their coats. The thought of personal guilt, judgment, and condemnation is inconvenient; it creates too much trouble within, and so they refuse it lodging. Vain men go maundering on their way, whispering of peace and safety; doting as if God had passed an act of amnesty and oblivion for them, and had made for them an exception to all the rules of justice, and all the manner of his courts. Do men indeed believe that they alone shall go unpunished? No man will subscribe to that notion when it is written down in black and white, and yet the majority of men live as if this were true; I mean the majority of men who have sufficient light to condemn sin in others. They recoil from the fact of their own personal guiltiness and condemnation, and go on in their ungodliness as if there were no great white throne for them, no last assize, no judge, no word of condemnation, and no hell of wrath. Alas, poor madmen, to dream like this! Oh Spirit of Truth save them from this fatal infatuation.

3. Sin is always on the downward grade, so that when a man proceeds a certain length he inevitably goes beyond it. The person addressed by the apostle first thought to escape judgment, and then he came to think lightly of the goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering of God. He thinks he shall escape in the future, and because of that he despises the present goodness and longsuffering of the Most High. Of course he does. If he does not believe in the terrors of the world to come for himself, he naturally thinks it to be a small thing to have been spared their immediate experience. Barren tree as he is, he does not believe that he will ever be cut down, and therefore he feels no gratitude to the dresser of the vineyard for pleading, “Leave it alone for another year, until I dig around it, and fertilize it.” I wish, as God shall help me, to drive hard at the consciences of men upon this matter. I would be to you, my careless friend, what Jonah was to Nineveh: I would warn you, and bestir you to repentance. Oh that the Holy Spirit would make this sermon effective for the arousing of every unsaved soul that shall hear or read it!

4. I. First, let me speak this morning to you, oh unregenerate, impenitent man, concerning THE GOODNESS OF GOD WHICH YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED.

5. You have known the goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering of God. According to the text, “riches” of these have been spent upon unconverted, ungodly men, and upon you as one of them. Let me speak with you first, oh man, and remind you how favoured you have been of God by being made a partaker of “the riches of his goodness.” In many cases this is true of temporal things. Men may be without the fear of God, and yet, for all that, God may be pleased to prosper their endeavours in business. They succeed almost beyond their expectation — I mean some of them; probably the description applies to you. They rise from the lowest position, and accumulate about them the comforts and luxuries of life. Though they have no religion, they have wit, and prudence, and thrift, and so they compete with others, and God permits them to be winners in the race for wealth. Moreover, he allows them to enjoy good health, vigour of mind, and strength of constitution: they are happy with the wife of their youth, and their children are all around them. Theirs is an envied lot. Death seems for a while forbidden to knock at their door, even though he has been ravaging the neighbourhood; even sickness does not molest their household. They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men. Abraham had to prepare a Machpelah, and David mourned over his sons; but these have had to make little provision for family sepulchre; a hedge has in very deed been placed around them and all that they have. I know that it is so with many who do not love God, and have never yielded to the entreaties of his grace. They do not love the hand which enriches them, they do not praise the Lord who daily loads them with benefits. How is it that men can receive such kindness, and yield no return? Oh sirs, you are today blessed with all that you need; but I urge you to remember that you might have been in the depths of poverty. An illness would have lost you your job; or a slight turn in business would have left you bankrupt. You are healthy today; but you might have been tossing to and fro upon a bed of sickness; you might have been in the hospital, about to lose a limb. Shall God not be praised for health and freedom from pain? You might have been confined in that asylum, in the agonies of madness. A thousand ills have been kept from you; you have been extremely favoured by the goodness of the Most High. Is it not so? And truly it is a wonderful thing that God should give his bread to those who lift up their heel against him, that he should cause his light to shine upon those who never perceive his goodness in it, that he should multiply his mercies upon ungodly men who only multiply their rebellions against him, and turn the gifts of his love into instruments of transgression.

6. Furthermore, this goodness of God had not only come to you in a temporal form, oh impenitent man, but it has also visited you in a spiritual manner. Myriads of our fellow men have never had an opportunity of knowing Christ. The missionary’s foot has never trodden the cities where they live, and so they die in the dark. Multitudes are going downward, downward; but they do not know the upward road; their minds have never been enlightened by the teachings of God’s word, and hence they sin with less grievousness of fault. You are placed in the very focus of Christian light, and yet you follow evil! Will you not think of this? There was a time when a man would have to work for years to earn enough money to buy a Bible. There were times when he could not have earned one even with that toil; now the word of God lies upon your table, you have a copy of it in almost every room of your house; is this not a blessing from God? This is the land of the open Bible, and the land of the preached word of God; in this you prove the riches of God’s goodness. Do you despise this wealth of mercy? Possibly you have enjoyed the further privilege of sitting under a ministry which has been particularly plain and earnest; you have not had sermons preached before you, they have been preached at you: the minister has seized upon you and tugged at your conscience, as though he would force you to the Saviour. With cries and entreaties you have been invited to your heavenly Father, and yet you have not come. Is this a small thing?

7. What is more, you have been favoured with a tender conscience. When you do wrong you know it, and smart for it. What do those wakeful nights mean after you have yielded to a temptation? What does that miserable feeling of shame mean? that fever of unrest? You find it hard to stifle the inward monitor, and difficult to resist the Spirit of God. Your road to perdition is made particularly hard; do you intend to follow it at all costs, and go over every obstacle to hell?

8. You have not only been aroused by conscience, but the good Spirit has striven with you, and have been almost persuaded to be a Christian. Such has been the blessed work of the Spirit upon your heart that you have at times been melted down, and ready to be moulded by grace. A strange softness has come over you, and if you had not gathered up all your evil strength, and if the devil had not helped you to resist, you would have by this time dropped into the Saviour’s arms. Oh, the riches of the goodness of God to have wooed you like this, and pressed his love upon you! You have scarcely had a stripe, or a frown, or a harsh word from God; his ways have been all kindness, and gentleness, and longsuffering from the first day of your memory even until now. “Do you despise the riches of his goodness?” Oh man, answer this, I implore you.

9. The apostle then dwells upon the riches of “forbearance.” Forbearance comes in when men having offended, God withholds the punishment that is due to them; when men, having been invited to mercy, have refused it, and yet God continues to stretch out his hands, and invite them to come to him. Patient endurance of offences and insults has been revealed by God to many of you, who now hear these words of warning. The Lord knows to whom I speak and may he make you, also, know that I am speaking to you, even to you. Some men have gone back to the very sin of which for a while they repented; they have suffered for their folly, but have turned again to it with suicidal determination. They are desperately intent on their own ruin, and nothing can save them. The burnt child has run to the fire again; the singed moth has plunged again into the flame of the candle: who can pity such self-inflicted miseries? They are given over to perdition, for they will not be warned. They have returned to the haunt of vice, though they seemed to have been snatched from the deep ditch of its filthiness. They have wantonly and wilfully returned to their cups, though the poison of former draughts is still burning in their veins. Yet, despite this folly, God shows forbearance towards them. They have grievously provoked him when they have done despite to his word, and have even turned to laughter the solemnities of his worship, against their own consciences, and to their own confusion: yet when his hand has been lifted up he has withdrawn it in mercy. See how God has always tempered his providence with kindness to them. He laid them low so that they were severely sick, but at the voice of their moaning he restored them. They trembled on the brink of death, yet he permitted them to recover strength; and now, despite their vows of amendment, here they are, callous and careless, unmindful of the mercy which gave them a reprieve.

10. Did you ever think what is included in the riches of forbearance. There are quick-tempered individuals who only need to be a little provoked, and harsh words and blows come quick and furious: but, oh, the forbearance of God when he is provoked to his face by ungodly men! By men, I mean, who hear his word, and yet refuse it! They slight his love, and yet he perseveres in it. Justice lays its hand on the sword, but mercy holds it back in its scabbard. Well might each spared one say, — 

   Oh unexhausted Grace
      Oh Love unspeakable!
   I am not gone to my own place;
      I am not yet in hell!
   Earth doth not open yet,
      My soul to swallow up:
   And, hanging o’er the burning pit,
      I still am forced to hope.

11. Our apostle adds to goodness and forbearance the riches of “longsuffering.” We draw a distinction between forbearance and longsuffering. Forbearance has to do with the magnitude of sin; longsuffering with the multiplicity of it: forbearance has to do with present provocation; longsuffering relates to that provocation repeated, and continued for a length of time. Oh, how long does God suffer the bad manners of men! He was grieved for forty long years with that generation whose carcasses fell in the wilderness. Has it come to forty years yet with you, dear hearer? Possibly it may have passed even that time, and a half century of provocation may have gone into eternity to bear witness against you. What if I should even have to say that sixty and seventy years have continued to heap up the loads of their transgressions, until the Lord says, “I am pressed down under your sins; as a cart that is full of sheaves I am pressed down under you.” Yet for all that, here you are on praying ground and pleading terms with God; here you are where still the Saviour reigns upon the throne of grace; here you are where mercy is to be had for the asking, where free grace and dying love ring out their charming bells of invitation to joy and peace! Oh, the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering. Threefold is the claim: will you not regard it? Can you continue to despise it?

12. I should like to set all this in a striking light if I could, and therefore I would remind you of who and what that God is who has exhibited this goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering to men. Remember how great he is. When men insult a great prince the offence is thought to be highly heinous. If anyone should openly insult our own beloved Queen, and continue to do so, all the nation would be clamorous to have the impertinence ended speedily. We cannot bear that a beloved ruler should be publicly insulted. And what do you think of the sin which provokes God? which to his face defies him? and in his very courts resists him? Shall this always be forborne with? Is there not a limit to longsuffering? Goodness also adds another item to the provocation; for we naturally say, “Why should one so good be treated so cruelly?” If God were a tyrant, if he were unrighteous or unkind, it would not be so much amiss that men opposed him; but when his very name is love, and when he reveals the heart of a Father towards his wandering children it is shameful that he should be so wantonly provoked. Those words of Jesus were extremely touching when he pointed to his miracles, and asked, “For which of these things do you stone me?” When I think of God I may well say — for which of his deeds do you provoke him? Every morning he draws the curtain and rejoices the earth with light, and gives you eyes to see it; he sends his rain upon the ground to produce bread for man, and he gives you life to eat it — is this a reason for revolting from him? Every single minute of our life is cheered with the tender kindness of God, and every place is gladdened with his love. I wonder that the Lord does not sweep away the moral nuisance of a guilty race from off the face of the earth. Man’s sin must have been terribly offensive to God from day to day, and yet still he shows kindness, love, forbearance. This adds an excessive venom to man’s disobedience. How can he grieve such goodness? How can divine goodness fail to resent such base ingratitude?

13. Think also of God’s knowledge; for he knows all the transgressions of men. “What the eye does not see the heart does not rue,” is a truthful proverb; but every transgression is committed in the very presence of God, so that penitent David cried, “Against you, you only have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight.” Transgression is committed in the sight of God, from whose eyes nothing is hidden. Remember also, that the Lord never can forget; before his eyes all things stand out in clear light, not only the things of today, but all the transgressions of a life. Yet for all this he forbears. With evil reeking before his face, he is slow to anger, and waits so that he may be gracious.

14. All this while, remember, the Lord is great in power. Some are patient because they are powerless: they bear and forbear because they cannot very well help themselves; but it is not so with God. Had he only willed it, you would have been swept into hell; only a word from him and the impenitent had fallen in the wilderness, and their spirits would have passed into the realms of endless woe. In a moment the Lord could have avenged himself of his adversary; he could have stopped that flippant tongue, and closed that lustful eye in an instant. That wicked heart would have failed to beat if God had withdrawn his power, and that rebellious breath would have ceased also. Had it not been for longsuffering you unbelievers would long since have known what it is to fall into the hands of an angry God. Will you continue to grieve the God who so patiently bears with you?

15. May it never be forgotten that sin is to God much more intolerable than it is to us. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Things which we call little sins are great and grievous evils to him: they do, as it were, touch the apple of his eye. “Oh, do not,” he says, “do not do this abominable thing that I hate!” His Spirit is grieved and vexed with every idle word and every sensual thought; and hence it is a wonder of wonders that a God so sensitive to sin, a God so able to avenge himself of his adversaries, a God who knows the abundance of human evil, and sees it all, should nevertheless exhibit riches of goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; yet this is what you, my ungodly hearer, have been experiencing for many a long year. Here let us pause; and oh that each one who is still unsaved would sing most sincerely the words of Watts: — 

   Lord, we have long abused thy love,
      Too long indulged our sin,
   Our aching hearts e’en bleed to see
      What rebels we have been.
   No more, ye lusts, shall ye command,
      No more will we obey;
   Stretch out, oh God, thy conqu’ring hand,
      And drive thy foes away.

16. II. Come with me, friend, and let me speak to you concerning THE SIN OF WHICH YOU ARE SUSPECTED. Hear me, unconverted sinner: the sin of which you are suspected is this, — “Do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?” The Lord’s goodness ought to be admired and to be adored, and do you despise it? His goodness ought to be wondered at and told as a marvel in the ears of others, and do you despise it? So that I may rake your conscience a little, lend me your ear.

17. Some despise God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, because they never even gave a thought to it. God has given you life to keep you in being, and he has indulged you with his kindness, but it has not yet occurred to you that this patience is at all remarkable or worthy of the smallest thanks. You have been a drunkard, have you? a swearer? a Sabbath breaker? a lover of sinful pleasure? Perhaps not quite so; but still you have forgotten God altogether, and yet he has abounded in goodness towards you: is this not a great wrong? The Lord says, “Hear, oh heavens, and give ear, oh earth: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib: but these who are my creatures do not know, my favoured ones do not consider.” Why, you have no such forbearance with others as God has had with you. You would not keep a dog if it never followed at your heel, but snarled at you: you would not even keep a potter’s vessel if it held no water, and was of no service to you; you would break it in pieces, and throw it on the dunghill. As for yourself, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, both as for your body and as for your soul, and yet you have been of no use to your Maker, nor even thought of being of use to him. Still, he has spared you all these years, and it has never occurred to you that there has been any wonderful forbearance in it. Assuredly, oh man, you despise the longsuffering of your God.

18. Others have, perhaps, thought of it, but have never seriously meditated on it. When we offend a man, if we are right-minded, we not only note the fact with regret, but we sit down and weigh the matter, and seek to rectify it; for we would not be unjust to any person, and if we felt that we had been acting unfairly it would press upon our minds until we could make amends. But are there not some of you who have never given half-an-hour’s consideration to your relationship to your God? He has spared you all this while, and yet it has never occurred to you to enter into your room and sit down and consider your conduct towards him. It would seem to be too much trouble even to think of your Creator. His longsuffering leads you to repentance, but you have not repented; in fact, you have not thought it worth your while to consider the question at all: you have thought it far more important to enquire, “What shall I eat and what shall I drink?” Bread and broadcloth have shut out the thought of God. Ah me, you will stand at his judgment bar before long — and then? Perhaps before this week is finished you may have to answer, not to me, but to him who sits upon the throne; therefore I implore you now, for the first time give this matter thought. No longer despise the goodness and longsuffering of God.

19. This longsuffering is despised, further, by those who have imagined that God does not take any great account of what they do. So long as they do not go into gross and open sin, and offend the laws of their country, they do not believe that it is of any consequence whether they love God or not, whether they do righteousness or not, whether they are sober and temperate, or drunken and wanton; whether they are clean in heart by God’s Spirit, or defiled in soul and life. You think that God is altogether such a one as yourself, and that he will wink at your transgression and cover up your sin; but you shall not find it so. That base thought proves that you despise his longsuffering.

20. Some even get to think that the warnings of love are so much wind, and that the threatenings of God will never be fulfilled. They have gone on for many years without being punished, and instead of drawing the conclusion that the longer the blow is in falling the heavier it will be when it does come, they imagine that because it is long delayed the judgment will never come at all; and so they sport and trifle between the jaws of death and hell. They hear warnings as if they were all moonshine, and imagine that this holy Book, with its threatenings, is only a bugbear to keep fools quiet. If you think so, sir, then indeed you have despised the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God. Do you imagine that this forbearance will last for ever? Do you dream that at least it will continue with you for many years? I know your secret thoughts: you see other men die suddenly, but your secret thought is that you will have ample time: you hear of one struck down with paralysis, and another carried off by apoplexy, {a} but you flatter yourselves that you will have plenty of leisure to think about these things. Oh, how can you be so secure? How can you tempt the Lord like this? False prophets in these evil days play into men’s hands and hold out the hope that you may go into the next world wrong, and yet be set right in the end. This is a vile flattery of your wicked hearts; but still remember that even according to their maundering, centuries may elapse before this imaginary restoration may occur. A sensible man would not like to run the risk of even a year of agony. Half-an-hour of acute pain is dreaded by most people. Can it be that the very men who recoil from the dentist’s door, afraid of the pinch which extricates an aching tooth, will run the risk of years of misery? Take the future of the impenitent even on this footing, it is a thing to be dreaded, and by every means avoided. I say, these flattering prophets themselves, if properly understood, give you little enough of hope; but what will come to you if the old doctrine proves to be true and you go away into everlasting fire in hell, as the Scripture puts it? Will you live an hour in jeopardy of such a doom? Will you so despise the longsuffering and forbearance of the Lord?

21. I will not enlarge and use many words, for I am myself weary of words: I want to persuade you even with tears. My whole soul would attract you to your God, your Father. I would come to close quarters with you, and say, — Do you not think that, even though you fall into no doctrinal error, and indulge no hazy hope concerning either restitution or annihilation, yet still it is a dreadful despising of God’s mercy when you keep on playing with God, and saying to his grace, “Go your way for now; when I have a more convenient time I will send for you?” The more gentle God is, the more you procrastinate, and the more in tenderness he speaks of pardon, the more you transgress. Is this generous? Is it right? Is it wise? Can it be a fit and proper thing to do? Oh, my dear hearer, why will you act shamefully like this? Some of you delight to come and hear me preach, and drink in all I have to say, and you will even commend me for being earnest with your souls; and yet, after all, you will not decide for God, for Christ, for heaven. You are between good and evil, neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot; I could even wish that you either thought this word of mine to be false, or else that, believing it to be true, you at once acted on it. How can you incur the double guilt of offending God and of knowing that it is an evil thing to do so? You reject Christ, and yet admit that he ought to be received by you! You speak well of a gospel which you will not accept for yourselves! You believe great things of a Saviour whom you will not have to be your Saviour! Jesus himself says, “If I tell you the truth, why do you not believe me?”

22. “Do you despise the longsuffering of God?” Dare you do it? I tremble as I think of a man despising God’s goodness. Is this not practical blasphemy? Do you dare to do it? Oh, if you have done it so far, do it no more. Before that sun goes down again, say within your heart, “I will be a despiser of God’s goodness no longer; I will arise and go to my Father, and I will say to him, — Father, I have sinned. I will not rest until in the precious blood he has washed my sins away.”

23. III. In closing this sermon I desire to remind you, oh ungodly man, of THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHICH YOU ARE FORGETFUL. Read my text, — “Do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

24. Now there are many here who know as a matter of doctrine that the goodness of God leads them to repentance, and yet they do not know it as a practical truth affecting their lives: indeed, they so act that it is not true for them at all. Yet, if they do not know this they are wilfully ignorant; not willing to retain in their minds a fact so disagreeable to them. None are so blind as those who will not see: but he who does not see, and yet has eyes, has a criminality about his blindness which is not found in that of those who have no sight. Dear hearer, whether you know this truth or not, I would remind you that God’s patience with you is meant to lead you to repentance. “How?” you say. Why, first by giving you an opportunity to repent. These years, which are now coming to a considerable number with you, have been given to you in order that you might turn to God. By the time you were twenty-one you had sinned quite enough; perhaps you had even then begun to mislead other youths, and to instruct in evil those under your influence. Why did God not take you away at once? It might have been for the benefit of the world if he had done so; but yet you were spared until you were thirty. Did not each year of your lengthened life prove that the Lord was saying, “I will spare him, for perhaps he will yet amend and think upon his God. I will give him more light, and increase his comforts; I will give him better teaching, better preaching; perhaps he will repent.” Yet you have not done so. Have you lived to be forty, and are you where you were when you were twenty? Are you still outside of Christ? Then you are worse than you were; for you have sinned more deeply and you have provoked the Lord more terribly. You have now had time enough. What more do you need? When the child has offended, you say, “Child, unless you beg pardon at once, I must punish you”: would you give a boy so many minutes to repent in as God has given you years? I think not. If a servant is continually robbing you; if he is careless, slothful, disobedient, you say to him, “I have passed over your faults several times, but one of these days I shall discharge you. I cannot always put up with this slovenliness, this blundering, this idleness: one of these times you will have to go.” Have you not so spoken to your female servant, and thought it kind on your part to give her another chance? The Lord has said the same to you; yet here you are, a living but impenitent man; spared, but spared only to multiply your transgressions. Know this that his forbearance gives you an opportunity to repent; do not turn it into an occasion for hardening your heart.

25. But next, the Lord in this is pleased to give a suggestion to you to repent. It seems to me that every morning when a man wakes up still impenitent, and finds himself outside of hell, the sunlight seems to say, “I shine on you yet another day, so that in this day you may repent.” When your bed receives you at night I think it seems to say, “I will give you another night’s rest, so that you may live to turn from your sins and trust in Jesus.” Every mouthful of bread that comes to the table says, “I have to support your body so that you may still have time for repentance.” Every time you open the Bible the pages say, “We speak with you so that you may repent.” Every time you hear a sermon, if it is such a sermon as God would have us preach, it pleads with you to turn to the Lord and live. Surely your past life may suffice you to have accomplished the will of the Gentiles. “The times of your ignorance God winked at, but now commands men everywhere to repent.” Do not life and death, and heaven and hell, call upon you to do so? Hence you have in God’s goodness time for repentance, and a suggestion to repent.

26. But something more is here; for I want you to notice that the text does not say, “The goodness of God calls you to repentance,” but “leads you.” This is a much stronger word. God calls to repentance by the gospel; God leads to repentance by his goodness. It is as though he tugged at your sleeve and said, “Come this way.” His goodness lays its gentle hand on you, drawing you with cords of love and bands of a man. God’s forbearance cries, “Why will you hate me? What wrong have I done to you? I have spared you; I have spared your wife and children to you; I have raised you up from the bed of sickness; I have loaded your table; I have filled your wardrobe; I have done you a thousand good turns; why do you disobey me? Turn to your God and Father, and live in Christ Jesus.”

27. If, on the other hand, you have not received rich temporal favours, yet the Lord still leads you to repentance by a rougher hand; as when the prodigal gladly would have filled his belly with husks, but could not, and the pangs of hunger came upon him; those pains were a powerful message from the Father to lead him to the home where there was bread enough and to spare. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” Oh, that you would yield to its sweet leading, and follow as a child follows the guidance of a nurse. Let your crosses lead you to the cross; let your joys lead you to find joy in Christ.

28. Do you not think that all this should encourage you to repent, since God himself leads you that way? If God leads you to repentance he does not intend to cast you away. If he invites you to repent, then he is willing to accept your repentance, and to be reconciled to you. If he asks you to change your mind, it is because his own mind is love. Repentance implies a radical change in your view of things, and in your estimate of matters; it is a change in your purposes, a change in your thoughts and in your conduct. If the Lord leads you that way he will help you in it. Follow his gracious leading until his divine Spirit shall lead you with still greater power and still greater efficacy, until at last you find that he has created in you both repentance and faith, and you are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. If “the goodness of God leads you to repentance,” then be sure of this, that the goodness of God will receive you when you repent, and you shall live in his sight as his well-beloved and forgiven child.

29. I close now, but I am sorry to do so, for I have not pleaded one half as well as I could have wished. Yet what more can I say? I will put it to yourselves. If you were in God’s place, could you bear to be treated as you have treated him? If you were all goodness and tenderness, and had borne with a creature now for thirty or forty years, how would you bear to see that creature still opposing you, and even draw an inference from your gentleness to encourage him in his rebellion? Would you not say, “Well, if my longsuffering makes him think little of sin, I will change my tactics. If tenderness cannot win him, I must leave him; if even my love does not affect him, I will leave him alone. He is given over to his evil ways — I will cease from him, and see what his end will be?” Oh Lord, do not say so, do not say so to anyone in this house, but by your great mercy make today to be as the beginning of life to many. Oh that hearts may be touched with pity for their slighted Saviour, so that they may seek his face! Here is the way of salvation: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” You know how the Master told us to say it. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” First, we are to preach faith, by which we lay hold on Christ; then baptism, by which we confess that faith, and acknowledge that we are dead and buried with Christ so that we may live with him in newness of life. Those are the two points he tells us to set before you, and I do set them before you. Weary, but not quite wearied out, oh impenitent man, I plead with you! Though you have so often been pleaded with in vain, once more I speak with you in Christ’s place, and say — Repent of your sin, look to your Saviour, and confess your faith in his own appointed way. I truly believe that if I had been pleading with some of you to save the life of a dog I should have prevailed with you a long while ago. And will you not care about the saving of your own souls? Oh, strange infatuation — that men will not consent to be saved themselves; but foolishly, madly, hold out against the mercy of God which leads them to repentance. May God bless you, beloved, and may none of you despise his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Lu 13:1-17,20-30]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 103” 103}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Expostulations — Despising The Riches Of Goodness” 516}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Expostulations — Hear And Live” 518}


{a} Apoplexy: A malady, very sudden in its attack, which arrests more or less completely the powers of sense and motion; it is usually caused by an effusion of blood or serum in the brain, and preceded by giddiness, partial loss of muscular power, etc. OED.

Might not the distribution of this sermon be useful? If the Christian reader thinks so, will he favour the preacher by placing copies of it in the hands of people who need just such special appeals? The prayers of God’s people are entreated that this discourse may bear fruit to eternal life.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 103 (Version 1)
1 My soul, repeat his praise,
      Whose mercies are so great;
   Whose anger is so slow to rise,
      So ready to abate.
2 God will not always chide;
      And when his strokes are felt,
   His strokes are fewer than our crimes,
      And lighter than our guilt.
3 High as the heavens are raised
      Above the ground we tread,
   So far the riches of his grace
      Our highest thought exceed.
4 His power subdues our sins;
      And his forgiving love,
   Far as the east is from the west,
      Doth all our guilt remove.
5 The pity of the Lord,
      To those that fear his name,
   Far as the east is from the west,
      He knows our feeble frame.
6 He knows we but dust,
      Scatter’d with every breath;
   His anger, like a rising wind,
      Can send us swift to death.
7 Our days are as the grass,
      Or like the morning flower;
   If one sharp blast sweep o’er the field,
      It withers in an hour.
8 But thy compassions, Lord,
      To endless years endure;
   And children’s children ever find,
      Thy words of promise sure.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 103 (Version 2)
1 Oh bless the Lord, my soul!
      Let all within me join,
   And aid my tongue to bless his name,
      Whose favours are divine.
2 Oh, bless the Lord, my soul,
      Nor let his mercies lie
   Forgotten in unthankfulness,
      And without praises die.
3 ‘Tis he forgives thy sins;
      ‘Tis he relieves thy pain;
   ‘Tis he that heals thy sicknesses,
      And makes thee young again.
4 He crowns thy life with love,
      When ransom’d from the grave;
   He that redeem’d my soul from hell
      Hath sovereign power to save.
5 He fills the poor with good,
      He gives the sufferers rest;
   The Lord hath judgments for the proud,
      And justice for the oppress’d
6 His wondrous works and ways
      He made by Moses known;
   But sent the world his truth and grace
      By his beloved Son.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 103 (Version 3) <8.7.4.>
1 Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
   To his feet thy tribute bring!
   Ransom’d, heal’d, restored, forgiven,
   Who like me his praise should sing!
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise the everlasting King!
2 Praise him for his grace and favour
   To our fathers in distress!
   Praise him still the same as ever,
   Slow to chide and swift to bless!
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him
   Glorious in his faithfulness!
3 Father-like he tends and spares us,
   Well our feeble frame he knows;
   In his hands he gently bears us,
   Rescues us from all our foes.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Widely as his mercy flows.
4 Frail as summer’s flower we flourish;
   Blows the wind, and it is gone;
   But while mortals rise and perish,
   God endures unchanging on.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise the High Eternal One.
5 Angels, help us to adore him;
   Ye behold him face to face;
   Sun and moon bow down before him,
   Dwellers all in time and space.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise with us the God of grace!
                     Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.


Gospel, Expostulations
516 — Despising The Riches Of Goodness
1 And canst thou, sinner, slight
      The call of love divine?
   Shall God with tenderness invite,
      And gain no thought of thine?
2 Wilt thou not cease to grieve
      The Spirit from thy breast,
   Till he thy wretched soul shall leave,
      With all thy sins oppress’d?
3 Today, a pardoning God
      Will hear the suppliant pray;
   Today, a Saviour’s cleansing blood
      Will wash thy guilt away.
4 But, grace so dearly bought
      If yet thou wilt despise,
   Thy fearful doom with vengeance fraught,
      Will fill thee with surprise.
                     Ann Beadley Hyde, 1825.


Gospel, Expostulations
518 — Hear And Live <8.7.4.>
1 Sinners, will you scorn the message
      Sent in mercy from above?
   Every sentence, oh, how tender!
      Every line is full of love:
         Listen to it;
      Every line is full of love.
2 Hear the heralds of the gospel
      News from Zion’s King proclaim:
   “Pardon to each rebel sinner;
      Free forgiveness in his name”:
3 Tempted souls, they bring you succour;
      Fearful hearts, they quell your fears;
   And with news of consolation,
      Chase away the falling tears:
         Tender heralds!
      Chase away the falling tears.
4 Who hath our report believed?
      Who received the joyful word?
   Who embraced the news of pardon
      Spoken to you by the Lord?
         Can you slight it?
      Spoken to you by the Lord?
5 Oh ye angels, hovering round us,
      Waiting spirits, speed your way;
   Haste ye to the court of heaven,
      Tidings bear without delay:
         Rebel sinners,
      Glad the message will obey.
                        Jonathan Allen, 1801, a.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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