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1833. A Proclamation From The King Of Kings

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No. 1833-31:181. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, October 16, 1884, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, April 5, 1885.

Go and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, “Return, you backsliding Israel,” says the Lord; “and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful,” says the Lord, “and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed my voice,” says the Lord. {Jer 3:12,13}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1833, “Proclamation from the King of Kings, A” 1834}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2931, “Return! Return!” 2932}
   Exposition on Jer 3:12-25 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3324, “Turning From Death” 3326 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Jer 3:1-23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2452, “Hope for the Worst Backsliders” 2453 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Jer 3:6-4:29 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3426, “Sore Grievance, A” 3428 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Backsliders are very many. Departing from the living God is no strange thing. Every church has to lament many who turn aside. In fact, it has become so common in many churches that they do not have faith enough to hold to the scriptural doctrine of the perseverance of the saints; as if the lack of perseverance in mere professors could alter the truth that where the life and power of God are really in the soul there it will abide and remain. Bitter are the disappointments which result from the apostasy of affirmed disciples, and the declension of true followers of the Lamb. We sow, but when we expect to reap we do not fill our arms with sheaves, for many of those who sprang up hastily from the stony ground are withered as soon as the sun has risen. The morning cloud charms us with the hope of rain, but it soon vanishes: the early dew gives us promise of moisture, but it is exhaled, and the earth is hot beneath our feet. Our hearts ache because of blighted hopes where we looked for blessed results. And not only is it a common thing for men who profess godliness, and for a while run well, suddenly to turn aside; but even God’s own people do not keep up the pace as they should. Many Christians are at one time hot, and then lukewarm, or even cold. They are diligent and fervent today, but idle and indifferent tomorrow. There are Galatians still among us, who seem in one way or another to be bewitched with error. Even the best of believers are not always at their best. Who among us has not had reason to make confession that he has not kept up to his first love at all times; neither has his lamp been always clearly burning, nor has he himself been all through the night equally wakeful and watchful for the coming of the Lord? The wise virgins sleep as well as the foolish ones. Alas, that it should be so! Had it not been for the intervention of God’s grace, in many a case, backslidings that have been healed might have been backslidings unhealed, and the gaping wound might have bled to the dreadful weakness of those who suffered from it. May God in infinite mercy help those of us who have been kept by the power of God until now, to rest in faith in him, and may we be very careful that we do not slip with our feet, and do not decline with our hearts! Nor let our earnestness end with self, but let us pray with all our might for those who have wandered upon the dark mountains, that they may not wander for another hour; but that at once, before this service is ended, they may be restored to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, and may find rest, as once they used to find it, at the feet of Jesus Christ.

2. Pray for me, that I may speak in the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to lead back benighted ones who are now stumbling upon the dark mountains. I feel deeply my need of such help, and would breathe my own desire to God in the language of our sweet poetess: — 

   Oh strengthen me, that while I stand
   Firm on the Rock, and strong in thee,
   I may stretch out a loving hand
   To wrestlers with the troubled sea.

3. I. I shall keep to the passage before us, and we will begin with it at once, and notice first in the text THE PROCLAMATION. The prophet receives this message: “Go and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, ‘Return, you backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord.”

4. It was to be a proclamation, for God is King; and if his subjects rebel he does not lose the rights of his sovereignty. Therefore he sends to them a royal message with all the power which belongs to the word of a king. “Go and proclaim.” It is meant to be a loud summons, such as a proclamation should be made when the herald in the name of his royal master proclaims a decree. “Go and proclaim.” It is to be done in state, with order and regularity, with a purpose, and with authority. And so I wish to speak at this time. Hear me, oh my brother, while I plead with you in Christ’s place. In the name of the Ever-Blessed, who has not lost his right to you, oh backslider, you are called upon to return. In his name, who is your Creator and your Lord, the message is sent to you, “Return to me.” It is not delivered as a mere piece of advice from myself personally, which you may treat as you like, because it comes from your friend and your equal; but it comes from your God and your King, to whom you must give an account eventually. It is not even sent as a simple word of advice from him, but the majesty of God is behind it; it will be at your peril if you trifle with it: I urge you do not act so presumptuously. It is a proclamation which demands that every ear should hear it, and that every heart should bow before it. Only traitors will despise our message when the Lord says to us, “Go and proclaim these words, and say, ‘Return.’ ”

5. This proclamation is sent to the worst of sinners, to the very basest of backsliders. The proclamation is to be given publicly, but it was intended for a certain people, and meant for their hearts as well as their ears. It was meant for those who have backslidden; and the house of Israel contained many jet-black backsliders. They were people who had gone aside after seeing the most glorious revelations of God; for to what people did the God of the whole earth ever reveal himself as he did to Israel, a people who had been delivered by the plagues of Egypt, who had drunk water from the rock, and had been fed upon angels’ food, a people in the midst of whom the unique presence of God had been revealed? He had ransomed them, and fed them, and led them, and taught them, and they had been exceptionally indulged — and yet, for all that, they had turned aside from the living God. They were a provoking nation of backsliders because they turned aside to the basest idols. After knowing something of him who is invisible, they made a golden calf, and said, “These are your gods, oh Israel”; and in later years they bowed themselves before the lowest and most degrading forms of idols. They went after the wickednesses, the bestialities of the nations among whom they lived, and they defiled themselves so that God, who never speaks too harshly, said, “They went a whoring after the gods of the heathen.” They broke their marriage bonds to the one living and true God, and made themselves loathsome in his sight by the most detestable idolatries. It is sad that there should have been such a class of backsliders; but it is glorious to think that to such as these the message of God’s mercy was sent. They were the lowest grade of backsliders; and if there are any here tonight who must be put in the same list, it is to them that the message of God’s grace and mercy is to be proclaimed, and I do proclaim it in the name of him who sent me. These backsliders were old offenders, who had long been false to their vows and covenants. They turned aside once, and they were chastened, and they repented; but their hearts were not true, and so when the scourge was taken away they turned aside again, and proved that deceit was bound up in their souls. Many a time he forgave them, and turned back his wrath; but just as often they returned to their provocations. Many, many times he smiled upon them again in favour, and forgave their transgressions, but they provoked him to jealousy even more and more, until he declared that they were bent to backslide from him. It seemed to be their way. It was ingrained in their nature. “Israel is a backsliding heifer,” says the Lord. They would not go properly: they would turn aside. Do I address any such in this discourse? Oh my hearers, may the Lord deal graciously with you by my means, and my heart shall sing for joy! I am not going to enlarge upon any of these points of character, for if the Spirit of God is dealing with you he will enlarge upon them. I have recently met a considerable number over whom I have both sorrowed and rejoiced: I think of them now with mixed feelings, because God is bringing them very low under a sense of their backslidings, and I am hoping that this will be a blessing to them. The Lord is chastening them, and I trust they will turn at his rebuke. Their sin, which was written with an iron pen upon the very horns of their altars, they did not see, and would not see; but now he says they shall see, and he is making them weep as they see. I know that some of you bleed with an inward wound at the heart, a wound which man cannot reach, which only God can heal. I am glad that it is so, for this will convince you that you shall not be at ease away from God, but that in wandering from him into the far country there shall come a mighty famine to you, and you shall begin to be impoverished. Oh, may your poverty drive you home to the great Father’s house, where the best of welcomes awaits you!

6. The Israelite people were not only the worst kind of backsliders, but they had already reaped in a very large measure the result of their backslidings, for they had been carried away captive. They were taken away to the north country by the king of Assyria, far off from the land of promise which flowed with milk and honey. They were bondslaves under the cruellest of oppressors. They had suffered the loss of all things because they had departed from their God, and yet they had not learned the lesson which affliction was meant to teach them. It was still necessary to call them to repentance, and God told them to return to him: his proclamation was to them. I have known men to come down from wealth to poverty through their sin; I have known them to fall from health and happiness to disease and misery; I have seen them brought down from honourable associations to degradation and shame wholly as the result of their departing from the living God. While they walked with him, all went well with them; but when they walked contrary to him, he began to walk contrary to them. There are some who hear me at this moment who know the meaning of that text, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.” They have sinned, and they have smarted, and in the smart this thought has come to their mind, “He will never forgive me. He has beaten me with the blows of a cruel one; he has set me up for the target of all his arrows; his arrows drink up the blood of my soul. I am severely wounded and broken in the place of dragons.” Indeed, so Israel was carried away by Shalmaneser, and yet they were told to return to God with a promise of mercy. Captives and poverty-stricken, they sat down, and wept when they remembered Zion, and then came this royal proclamation of reconciliation upon repentance. From the throne from where they might have expected condemnation and the sentence of death, there came this mission, this word, this message, “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, ‘Return, you backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord.”

7. I see some mercy, and that of no little kind, in the messenger who was sent to deliver this message, for it was Jeremiah, that man of a broken spirit, who could say of himself, “I am the man who has seen affliction.” Somehow, your bright-eyed joyful spirit astonishes the backslider into greater grief. “Alas,” he cries, “such joy I might have known, but I put it all aside!” Such reflections deepen the poor sinner’s woe. Moreover, the man who has never been emptied from vessel to vessel, and has had no experience of the bitterness of sin, is too apt to speak proudly, or, at least, harshly and severely, to a wandering brother. He does not sufficiently remember himself, lest he also is tempted. But as for Jeremiah, his eyes were red with weeping, and his cheeks were guttered by his burning tears; and when he spoke, there was a depth of pathos about every word: so he was qualified to meet mourning souls on their own ground. How he longed for men to come back to God who had chosen them! How compassionately he exclaimed, “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” And God selected this man so that he might go after the stricken ones, and proclaim in stately manner, blended with womanly tenderness, this message, “Return.” I do not feel so suited as Jeremiah, and yet I have an intense desire that any of you who have gone away from God would come back while I speak with you. The Lord knows how this has burdened me recently, for I cannot bear it that you who have sunned yourselves in his smile should choose the darkness; that you who once rejoiced in Christ, and gloried in his cross, should now be crucifying him afresh and putting him to public shame. Here is a huge world that “lies in the wicked one,” and we need all our time to try and enlighten it, and, meanwhile, you who are our camp-followers, and, as we thought, our fellow soldiers, have put up your swords, and gone over to the enemy; at least, you act as if you had, and it pains us. It pains us at the heart. Hear, then, at this hour, the proclamation which we will give as best we can, looking in your direction if you have gone up to the north, and proclaiming these words towards your place, your cold and shivering place, your place of darkness and of misery, your place in the far-off country. I say, we look anxiously and yet hopefully in your direction, and proclaim these words to you, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Return.’ ”

8. So much concerning the proclamation.

9. II. But now, secondly, in our text we find A PRECEPT. It is a very simple one, and as short as it is clear. It is given in the proclamation, — “Return, you backsliding Israel.”

10. Return, — be as you were; come back: repent, and do your first works. Oh wanderer, return to your God! You have forgotten him; you have transgressed against him; and you have grieved him greatly. For these months you have not sought him, nor called upon him. You have not trusted him nor confided in him. You have not loved him, nor sought his honour. Return! You can never be right if you stay where you are: all ills attend the man who forsakes his God. Come back — back to the old place of humiliation in his presence, of confession, of childlike faith, of holy consecration; come back to the happy place which was yours when you were in your best estate; yes, further back than that — back nearer to God than you ever were before. Return to your God.

11. Listen: this is the precept; return to your Saviour; just as you are, come back to him. Come back as you came at first, with your sin acknowledged, looking to his cross for pardon. Did you grow too great, and think you could live without your Saviour? Return! Did you dream of being so perfect that you did not need his righteousness, for your own would suffice? Away with that glittering bauble, that idle notion of your perfection, and come back, and beat upon your breast, and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Repent of your pride, and return again to your Lord Jesus Christ. He will as gladly receive you as a mother presses to her bosom a lost child. The road is paved for your return, the stumbling-blocks are gathered out, the door of the Father’s house is open wide. Come yet again, and receive pardon and cleansing from the precious blood of Jesus. It has not lost its power. The fountain of cleansing is open, not only for the common sinner, but for you, the backslider, for remember how the Scripture has it, “A fountain opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” It is open for those who are in the church of God already, as well as for those who are newly brought into it. Come at once, and do not wait. If your feet are foul with your wanderings through the mire and through the slough, your Saviour takes the towel yet again, and fills the basin from the pitcher, and stoops to wash your feet. Will you not have them washed at this moment until he can say to you again, “You are entirely clean?” You have once been washed in the atoning blood, and you only need now to wash your feet; and when this is done all is well. Go and wash your brethren’s feet in gratitude. “When you are converted, strengthen your brethren.”

12. You see, then, dear friends, how the Lord puts it to you. “Return,” for where you lost your scroll there you will find it. Mr. Bunyan pictures his pilgrim dropping his passport under the seat in that arbour at the bottom of the Hill Difficulty, or halfway up it, where he sat down to rest; and where he did not only rest, but fell into a sinful slumber. Under that very bench, on which you sat, and went to sleep, you will find the scroll which you must carry in your bosom to secure you a welcome at the Palace Beautiful. You must go back and look for your spiritual enjoyment where you lost it. Did you lose it by neglect of prayer? Then search the prayer closet through. Did you lose it by a dusty Bible? Dust that Bible, and search its pages until you find it. Did you lose it by neglect of the means of grace? Were your Sabbaths wasted, and week-night services neglected? Then go back, I say again, to the place where by your sin you allowed your holy confidence to slip from you, and there you will find it again. The point at which you diverged from the right road is the point that you must find, and come back to. “Repent, and do your first works,” is the Master’s call to you tonight. It is his royal proclamation, “Return, you backsliding Israel.”

13. But listen while I make this proclamation again in God’s name. Return at once. Delays are always dangerous, but never so dangerous as when they are proposed by backsliders. Return without another day’s indulgence in sin. The message tolerates no further backsliding. Come back at once; do not wait for second thoughts; your prompt, immediate thoughts are best.

14. And come back with all your heart. Let there be no mimic repentance; no pretended returning. You shall find the Lord if you seek him with all your heart, and all your soul. May God help you to do it now!

15. And take care that you really do return; that is, that your life shall be changed, your idols broken, your omitted duties fulfilled with eagerness, neglected means of grace pursued with fervour; that done which you have left undone, and that evil forsaken into which you have gone with such headlong folly. When the Lord says, “Return,” he does not mean, “Think about returning, promise to return, talk about your wandering,” and all that; but he intends that you should really come back to him with weeping and with supplication, with a true heart believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and beginning again.

16. “Alas,” one says, “I do not know whether I am a backslider, or whether I have been a hypocrite up until now!” Do not argue that question at all. I am constantly asked to decide for people whether they ever were true Christians, or were in error about their condition. It is a difficult enquiry, and of little practical value. I say to myself sometimes, “Well if I never was a child of God I know that I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and I will at once trust in him.” This is how I recover confidence. If I ever was a child of God, then I am a child of God, and he will bring me back; but if I never was a child of God, and my profession was all a mistake, yet still the free salvation sounds out its silver trumpet — 

    “Come, and welcome, sinner: come”;

and I hurry to accept the invitation. You can discuss the question of your previous character after you get back into the fold; but, while you are outside of it, it does not matter much to you. You had better leave such discussions until you are out of the reach of the wolf. In all probability it would be impossible for you to discover your precise condition; but, oh poor soul, this is clear enough, that the Lord cries to you, “Return, you backsliding Israel.” This precept is clear as noonday, and it is sent to you. Come back, with your entire nature, in all ways and respects, back to your God, and back to your Saviour, and back to prayer, and back to holy living, and back to the people of God — back to the very church from which you have wandered. It will be wise to do that before another sun has risen. Come back to the Lord’s Supper, back to feeding spiritually upon his flesh and upon his blood, and living only in him, and by him, and to him, and with him. May God help you to hear this precept, and to put it into practice!

17. III. Now, listen, in the third place, to THE PROMISE, “ ‘Return, you backsliding Israel,’ says Jehovah, ‘and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you.’ ”

18.I will not cause my anger to fall upon you.” See that anger, like a black cloud, charged not with refreshing rain, but with fire-flakes that shall burn as they fall: indeed, burn their way into the very core of your being, as with the fires of hell. A sense of wrath is hell setting the soul on fire, until conscience flames with its own unique fierceness, and seems to anticipate the fire that never can be quenched. You see that gathering storm around you, do you not? But here is the good promise, “Return, and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you.” Not a flake of it shall burn you if you return to your God. There is forgiveness, there is full, and free, and immediate forgiveness to be had. “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and as a cloud, your sins. Return to me.” This is a grand motive for coming back: the sin that separates is put away. He will wash you thoroughly from your iniquity, and cleanse you from your sin, and whatever you need he will give to you, and he will not upbraid you. When the father received the prodigal, did he remind him of his ingratitude, or of his wasting of his wealth? Not a word of it: he kissed away the memory of his wrong-doing. He covered him with a robe of righteousness, and he put a new song into his mouth. The Lord is prepared to do that with you at this moment. I know that your doubts and fears ask the question again and again, “Can it be possible?” All things are possible with God, and especially all deeds of mercy; for his mercy endures for ever, and he delights in it. I know that you say, “Oh, but does the promise mean me, even me?” It means you, even you. You are a backslider; you plead guilty to the charge; and therefore it is to you that the promise is given. Accept the mercy. The man who is condemned by that description — the “backslider” — is the man who is commanded to return, and he is the man to whom the promise is made, “I will not cause my anger to fall upon you.” In all this you can see yourself as in a mirror.

19. I find that the passage might be read, “I will not cause my face to fall upon you,” meaning this — that if the child of God comes back, God will not look angrily at him any more. This is a very great blessing; for when the Lord does not lay punishment upon his people by way of judgment and wrath, yet he does often hide his face from them, or frowns upon them like a cruel one. If you have sinned, God cannot smile upon you; he must chasten you. His own words are, “Only you have I known you of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” You are a child, and therefore you must be whipped if you do wrong: love ensures you that will receive the chastisement. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” But the great Father here shows that he will not continue to frown on you: he will not make his face to fall at the mention of you. He has said, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for my anger is turned away from him.” He might justly say, “You are my child, but I cannot speak comfortingly to you, for you are so disobedient that I must send you away, and make you feel the evil of disobedience.” But, instead of that, he says, “I will not cause my anger to fall upon you. I will not even cause my face to fall at the sight of you; but I will receive you graciously; I will in tender mercy put away your transgressions, and reveal my love to you.” “ ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord: ‘though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ ” Will you not come to him, when he speaks like this?

               Return!
         Oh erring, yet beloved!
   I wait to bind thy bleeding feet, for keen
   And rankling are the thorns where thou hast been;
   I wait to give thee pardon, love, and rest.
   Is not my joy to see thee safe and blest?
   Return! I wait to hear once more thy voice,
   To welcome thee anew, and bid thy heart rejoice.

20. A woman has a husband who has loved her as his own, but she has lent her ear to a serpent — to one who with words of flattery has beguiled her, and she has sinned against her fidelity. She has defiled herself with another, and she has gone away, far away, and the man who has deceived her has forsaken her. She is now a woman of a sorrowful spirit, broken down and cast off. A friend whispers to her, “Return to your husband, for it was better with you then than now.” But this is her stumbling-block: “Will he receive me? Can he receive me? I have dishonoured him. Will he take me back again? Can I expect the love that gladdened my girlish days to be lavished upon me again? Will he not call me an outcast, and say that I have darkened his house, and shall never enter it again?” But if the message comes to her, “He will receive you graciously, and love you freely,” will she not hurry home? When she learns that the anger which he felt is gone, and that his heart yearns towards her, will she not fly home as on the wings of the wind? Unless she has become a monster of immorality, she will seek the man whom she has grieved, and at his feet she will fall in gratitude for his forgiveness. The parable is concerning ourselves who have backslidden from the Lord Jesus Christ. Shall we not also return now that we hear him inviting us to come back like this — yes, making a royal proclamation of his grace? “ ‘Return, you backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you.’ ” May the Lord grant that this word may go home to those whom he has ordained to bless.

21. IV. I pass on, in the next place, fourthly, to notice THE ARGUMENT. The argument here used is twofold, and you will remember the two arguments all the more readily because they begin with the same letter — Mercy and Marriage. We have in the twelfth verse, “ ‘For I am merciful,’ says the Lord”; and in the fourteenth verse, “For I am married to you.”

22. Here is, first, God’s mercy. Nothing delights God more than to forgive sin: he is at home in this blessed work. To some men it is a hard task to forgive an injury. They do it with a squeeze, and a twist, and a wrench: and even then it is questionable if it is done at all, for forced forgiveness is no forgiveness. Some are not unlike the dying man who said to the priest, “If I die you will remember that I forgive Pat Maloney, but if I live I will settle up with him as soon as I can.” Many forgive because they cannot take revenge; their virtue is the result of their inability to be vicious. But, with God, it is his nature to forgive: he is love, and mercy is a drop from the honeycomb of love. God must be just; but to punish is his left-handed labour, while to forgive is his right-handed work. He is happy at it; he finds pleasure in man’s turning to him, and finding life. Mercy was his last-born attribute. Until sin came there was no room for mercy — the mercy that forgives, and therefore mercy is God’s Benjamin, the son of his right hand, and he delights to give to it ten times as much as to his other attributes when they feast together. It is written, “He delights in mercy,” but I never read that he delights in justice, or delights in wisdom, or delights in power: he delights in mercy. God is charmed when he can wash a scarlet sinner white. It is the heaven of his heaven to receive a hell-black sinner to his heart, and put away his sin. “I am merciful,” says the Lord.

23. Did I hear a trembling voice exclaim, “Oh, but you do not know what I have done, sir?” No, and “sir” does not want to know; but then I know that the Lord delights in mercy. Perhaps you had better not tell those midnight deeds, those sins that have defiled you through and through: the confessional is by no means a healthy place; the smell of it is putrid. Confess to God, and not to me. You have lain in the dye until you are soaked and saturated in sin; you are dyed and ingrained with the scarlet of iniquity; but the Lord delights to take out these glaring stains. Things which are impossible with man are the joy of God. Therefore come to him, and believe in his mercy; and doubt no longer, but lovingly receive what he lovingly gives.

24. As for you who once knew him, and loved him, and rejoiced in him, I want you just to dwell on that second argument, namely, marriage. “ ‘For I am married to you,’ says the Lord.” Oh, those were blessed days when you used to sing — 

   ’Tis done, the great transaction’s done
   I am my Lord’s, and he is mine.
   He drew me, and I followed on,
   Charmed to confess the voice divine.

And then you used to join with all of us in singing — 

   Happy day! happy day!
   When Jesus washed my sins away.

Ah, poor soul, where have you been since then? You have been where you ought not to have been, and now your Bridegroom says, “Return, for I am married to you. You may have taken off the ring, but you are mine for all that, and I will have you come back to me. Return.” The bonds that Christ makes are not to be broken. The favour that Christ has shown is not to be removed. Stronger than death and hell is the love of Christ, and who shall separate us from it? Notwithstanding all your sins and iniquities, he says, “ ‘Return, for I am married to you’, says the Lord.” It is done, and though you do not stand to it he does, the great transaction still stands on his part: though you do not believe, he remains faithful. He has bought you with his blood, and the price will never return into his veins. He has loved you with an everlasting love, and therefore it cannot cease. In that love he will always rest, nor will he renege on his oath. Therefore, come back to him.

               Return!
         Oh fallen, yet not lost!
   Canst thou forget the life for thee laid down,
   The taunts, the scourging, and the thorny crown?
   When o’er thee first my spotless robe I spread,
   And poured the oil of joy upon thy head,
   How did thy wakening heart within thee burn!
   Canst thou remember all, and wilt thou not return?
               Return!
         Oh chosen of my love!
   Fear not to meet thy beckoning Saviour’s view;
   Long ere I called thee by thy name, I knew
   That very treacherously thou wouldest deal;
   Now I have seen thy ways, yet I will heal.
   Return! Wilt thou yet linger far from me?
   My wrath is turned away, I have redeemed thee.

25. V. And I finish (for time has failed me) by noticing THE ADVICE that he gives here as to how we are to return: he says, “Only acknowledge your iniquity.”

26. “Oh,” you have said, “I cannot get back to God: it is such a long way back to him. I feel that I have to set myself right, and in that process to pass through a world of sorrow.” Yet the Lord says, “Only acknowledge.” I rejoice in those blessed “onlys” of the Bible! “Only acknowledge your iniquity.” “Alas, I have so wandered!” Acknowledge it. “But I have done it so many times!” Acknowledge it. “But I have wandered against light and knowledge!” Acknowledge it. It is not a hard thing to do, to get to your room, and before God confess your faults. You have, first of all, to have a knowledge of it, and then to ac-knowledge it. Feel your sin, and then confess it. Be convinced of it, and then plead guilty at the judgment seat. Do not attempt to excuse it, or to make apologies for it. As long as you do so, you will never get peace; but let this perilous stuff be purged from off your soul by a clear, plain acknowledgment, such as David made when he said, “Deliver me from blood-guiltiness.” He had tried to call his crime by other names, but his forgiveness came when he admitted that it was murder. When we know our sin, God will make us to know his grace: but if we are self-righteous, our pride will be our ruin.

27. “What am I to acknowledge?” Acknowledge chiefly three things.

28. Your breach of covenant — that you have transgressed against Jehovah your God. You professed to be a child of God, a member of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and you have been false to all these vows. You have broken your vows, you have been false to your baptism, false to your communion at the Lord’s Supper, false to your church membership, false to your prayers. Go and tell the Lord all this, and acknowledge that you have transgressed against Jehovah your God.

29. Next acknowledge your greedy sin — that you “have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree.” Israel had sinned wherever she had an opportunity, — sinned publicly. You would not have thought that she would have dared to do it — sinned again and again, until as many as there were trees in the grove were her adulteries with idol gods. Confess this crime if it is indeed true: “Lord, I have sinned with both hands since I have departed from you. I have committed sins of the eyes, and sins of the feet, and sins of the hand, sins of the head, and sins of the heart, sins against your holy law, sins against your love and blood, sins immense and innumerable. I might as well hope to count the drops that make the ocean, as to calculate the number of my sins.” Make this confession heartily and explicitly. Do not stutter over it, and try to lessen it; but bring it straight out in deep humility. As a backslider you have done far more evil than you know of, and there is no fear of your exaggerating your guilt.

30. And I finish with this: “‘You have not obeyed my voice,’ says the Lord.” That is to say, you have been guilty of sins of omission. This is sufficient to swamp any one of us. Our sins of commission may be few, but as for our omissions, these would sink me, I know, past all hope, were it not for the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Dear friend, hurry to acknowledge your omissions.

31. Confess also your hardness of heart. God has spoken, and you would not hear; he has entreated, and you would not regard him; he has come very near to you, and you have turned your back on him. So he complains of you, “I have spoken, and you would not hear. You have not obeyed my voice.”

32. Confess also your ingratitude. His voice, which is your Father’s voice, you have not heard or obeyed. What unnaturalness! Shall a wife not know her husband’s voice? Shall a brother forget his brothers? Yet it is so with some of you who once used to be with us: you were our joy, and we were your joy, and God the joy of us both; but you have turned aside; you have left your first love; you have departed from the ways of the Lord. Yet remember at this moment there are no judgments for you; no threats, no scolding words for you, but simply this: “Only return.” The heart of love has room in it for you. Hurry home to him who is your only resting-place. You never can be happy where you are, and as you are. You have tried it. Oh, how long you have tried it, but you are going downward, and growing worse and worse. Oh, that you would say, “I will end it: I will end it. Never more will I depart from him who has redeemed me with his blood. I will yield myself to him at once.” Happy is the preacher if this has been accomplished by the Spirit of God. Happy shall you be, also; and happy are these Christian folk to know that such a thing has been done in their midst. May God bless you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Jer 3:12-25]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Christ Of God” 373}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Man Fallen — Jesus Delivering The Lost Ones” 476}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Expostulations — Return, Oh Wanderer” 521}

Letter From Mr. Spurgeon

Mr. Spurgeon has not been very well for the last few days, but he is now much better, and feels assured of returning to his work with renewed energy. He asks his friends to pray for this desirable blessing; and also for the blessing of God upon the Conference of the Pastors’ College, which will take place in the beginning of May. It is of the utmost importance that the pastors then assembled should be filled with the Spirit of God. The times are evil; the gospel is needed; only the Spirit of God can make it effective; let all the saints mightily pray for a divine visitation. Mr. Spurgeon’s College work also needs to be aided by the liberality of his friends at this time, and he would remind them of it very hopefully.

Mentone, March 27, 1885.

Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
373 — Christ Of God
1 Jesus, the Lamb of God,
      Who us from hell to raise
   Hast shed thy reconciling blood,
      We give thee endless praise.
2 God, and yet man, thou art,
      True God, true man, art thou:
   Of man, and of man’s earth a part,
      One with us thou art now.
3 Great sacrifice for sin,
      Giver of life for life,
   Restorer of the peace within,
      True ender of the strife:
4 To thee, the Christ of God,
      Thy saints exulting sing;
   The bearer of our heavy load,
      Our own anointed King.
5 True lover of the lost,
      From heaven thou camest down,
   To pay for souls the righteous cost,
      And claim them for thine own.
6 Rest of the weary, thou!
      To thee, our rest, we come;
   In thee to find our dwelling now,
      Our everlasting home.
                     Horatius Bonar, 1861.


Man Fallen
476 — Jesus Delivering The Lost Ones
1 Buried in shadows of the night
   We lie, till Christ restores the light;
   Wisdom descends to heal the blind,
   And chase the darkness of the mind.
2 Our guilty souls are drown’d in tears
   Till his atoning blood appears;
   Then we awake from deep distress,
   And sing, “The Lord our Righteousness.”
3 Our very frame is mix’d with sin,
   His Spirit makes our natures clean;
   Such virtues from his sufferings flow,
   At once to cleanse and pardon too.
4 Poor helpless worms in thee possess
   Grace, wisdom, power, and righteousness;
   Thou art our Mighty All, and we
   Give our whole selves, Oh Lord, to thee.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.


Gospel, Expostulations
521 — Return, Oh Wanderer
1 Return, oh wanderer! return!
   And seek an injured Father’s face:
   Those warm desires that in thee burn
   Were kindled by reclaiming grace.
2 Return, oh wanderer! return!
   And seek a Father’s melting heart,
   Whose pitying eyes thy grief discern,
   Whose hand can heal thine inward smart.
3 Return, oh wanderer! return!
   He heard thy deep repentant sigh!
   He saw thy soften’d spirit mourn,
   When no intruding ear was nigh.
4 Return, oh wanderer! return!
   Thy Saviour bids thy spirit live;
   Go to his bleeding feet, and learn
   How freely Jesus can forgive.
5 Return, oh wanderer! return!
   And wipe away the falling tear;
   ‘Tis God who says, “No longer mourn,”
   ‘Tis mercy’s voice invites thee near.
6 Return, oh wanderer! return!
   Regain thy lost, lamented rest;
   Jehovah’s melting bowels yearn
   To clasp his Ephraim to his breast.
               William Bengo Collyer, 1812.

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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