1903. Who Found It Out?

by on

No. 1903-32:301. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, June 6, 1886, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said to each other, “Why do we sit here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter into the city,’ then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall to the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live, and if they kill us, we shall only die.” And they rose up in the twilight, to go to the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses even the noise of a great host: and they said to each other, “Lo, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.” Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their donkeys, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. {2Ki 7:3-7}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1903, “Who Found It Out?” 1904}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2894, “Sinner’s Only Alternative, The” 2895}

1. The story of four leprous men inserted in the book of the Kings of Israel: is it not exceptional? No; it is not exceptional for the Bible. If you were to take out of the Scriptures all the stories that have to do with poor, afflicted men and women, what a very small book the Bible would become, especially if together with the stories you removed all the psalms of the sorrowful, all the promises for the distressed, and all the passages which belong to the children of grief! This Book, indeed, for the most part is made up of the annals of the poor and despised. Think for a minute what space is occupied with the life of the man who was separated from his brethren, sold for a slave, and put in prison in Egypt! What a large part of the Bible is occupied by the writings of one who was a babe exposed on the Nile, and afterwards kept a flock for forty years in the wilderness! We could not part with the account of the man who lost all his property and children in one day, and sat among the ashes, covered with severe boils. We could not spare the story of the two widows who came together empty-handed from the land of Moab, one of whom went to glean in the fields of Boaz; nor the history of that woman of a sorrowful spirit, and her little boy, around whom the hope of Israel gathered in the dark days of Eli’s feeble rule. Page after page of holy writ is enriched with the experience of that youth who was taken from tending the flock to become the champion of his country, and was afterwards hunted like a partridge upon the mountain by the envious king. We could not give up the history of the prophet of sorrow, nor of the fugitive who was cast into the sea, nor even the minor incidents of the widow of Sarepta, and her barrel of meal flour, and the prophet’s widow whose creditor was about to seize her children for her husband’s debts. Nor do lepers fall behind; we have two stories of lepers close together — Naaman the Syrian, and the four in our text at Samaria’s gate. They were wisely excluded from Israel, but they were not excluded from Israel’s God.

2. It is clear enough that the poor and the needy are not only observed by our great King; but the pen of the Holy Spirit has been much occupied in recording their affairs. You who are poor and needy, you who are sick and sorrowful, you whose lives are spent in mourning, listen to this discourse, and may the Lord comfort your hearts! On a future day, when the great books of history, which, as yet, are only known to the recording angel, shall be read by all men, your story will appear; and maybe it will be as memorable as that of Hannah or Joseph, and God will get as much glory out of what he has done for you as from any of the deeds of his love recorded in the inspired page. Remember that the New Testament runs in the same strain. Under the economy of grace our Lord Jesus Christ is seen living among fishermen and peasants, and calling the poor to be his disciples. “God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, God has chosen; yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” It is worthwhile to be among the poor, the despised, and the sad, to have your record on high, and to magnify the condescension of the Lord. It is in the hope that some disconsolate ones may be cheered that I speak at this time. Oh, that some leprous ones may go out today, and make a grand discovery! I desire to preach, praying in the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit may bless the word, and move many to rise out of their despair, and say, “Why do we sit here until we die?”

3. I. First, I call your attention to A GREAT WORK OF GOD, WHICH WAS ENTIRELY UNKNOWN.

4. The city of Samaria had been besieged for some time by the Syrian army; famine had fallen upon the people, and driven them to horrible straits. One can hardly bear to read of mothers devouring their own babes through stress of hunger. God sent his servant Elisha to tell them that the next day there should be a superabundance of food in the gates of Samaria, but the message was received with open ridicule. No sooner was the promise given than the Lord began to carry it out. It is the way with him, to be true to his word. However great the promise, it is as sure as it is great. And so, before the sun went down, the Lord had caused Israel’s enemies to flee away, and had opened provisions of food for hungry Samaria. Without human aid Jehovah had accomplished his promise, and much more.

5. The siege was raised from around Samaria. Armed men had stood in their places and kept the way, so that no one could go in or out; but they are all gone, not one of them is left. The troopers had fled on foot, and left their steeds tethered in rows: captains and common soldiers had also taken to their heels in hot haste, flying helter-skelter, like frightened sheep. No host threatened the city, it sat on its hill in the twilight, lonely and free. Yet in the city of Samaria they thought themselves cooped up, and set their guards on the wall because of fear in the night. Everyone who went to bed that night felt that he was still in that horrible den where grim death seemed actually present in the skeleton forms of the hunger-bitten. They were as free as the harts of the wilderness had they known it: but their ignorance held them in bondage.

6. The Lord had also defeated all their enemies. They had run for their lives; they had fled because of a noise in their ears as of horses and of chariots. He who could first get across the Jordan, and put that stream between him and his supposed pursuers was the happiest man. Without aid from Hittite or Ethiopian, the God of Israel had driven the whole host of Syria like chaff before the wind. Israel had not now on this side Jordan a single foe to attack her: and yet she did not know that the Lord’s right hand and his holy arm had gotten him the victory. They set guards to protect them from a foe which was no longer present; and the sentinels paced up and down the walls, and spoke to each other in the hoarse voice of starving men, guarding the walls against an imaginary foe. Oh Samaria, had you known the gift of God, your silent streets would have rung with shouts of joy: your children, instead of cowering down in hunger upon wretched pallets, would have kindled torches, and lit up the night as they hurried to feast on the plenty which their enemies had bequeathed them! God works, and man does not perceive it; therefore man is unhappy, and God is not praised as he should be.

7. God has provided plenty for them. The wretched Samaritans drew the hunger-belt more closely around them, and each man hoped that he might sleep for many an hour, and forget his bitter pangs; yet within a stone’s throw there was more fine flour and barley than they could possibly consume. They were starving in the midst of plenty, pining, when they might have been feasting. They did not believe God, and did not look for relief.

8. Was that not a strange thing? A city besieged, and not besieged; surrounded with enemies, as they thought, and yet not an enemy left; starving, and yet so near to a feast? See, dear friends, what unbelief can do. They had been promised plenty very speedily by God’s own prophet; but they did not believe the promise, nor look for its fulfilment. Had they been on the watch, they might have seen the unusual movement in the Syrian camp, and noticed the absolute stillness which succeeded it.

9. I know a sad parallel to this. The Lord Jesus Christ has come into the world, and has put away the sin of his people; and yet many of them are complaining that their sin can never be put away. The Lord Jesus Christ has routed all the enemies of his people, and yet they are afraid of innumerable evils. No one is left to harm them, but they do not remember that the Lord reigns: they are afraid of this, and afraid of that, and yet in one tremendous battle the Champion of the cross has routed all their foes. They are no longer locked up as prisoners; the Lord has brought them liberty; but they are not aware of it by reason of their unbelief. The Word of God has revealed all this very plainly, and the ministers of Christ proclaim it from day to day; but through unbelief they are still sorrowful, desponding and despairing, in bondage and woe. They will not believe, and therefore they cannot be happy. How sad is this unbelief which renders even truth itself untrue to us, and darkens our sun at midday! Our unbelief is our worst enemy.

10. It is said that drowning men grasp at straws: would you not have thought that famishing men might have seized on the word of Elisha? I grant you the promise did seem too great to be true: that lord who scoffed at it was not the only one who judged it to be impossible to fulfil; and yet when men are brought so very low, they are apt to grasp at any hope. How hardened was the unbelief which refused Jehovah’s word! Out of the whole population of Samaria there was not one who had such faith in Elisha’s promise as to drop over the wall from a window, and go out to see whether the Lord was fulfilling his word. It was solemnly promised, it was grievously needed, and yet not a soul believed in it. Another dreary night is closing in; Samaria is in her pangs; and yet, had she known it, her citizens might dance for joy. I do not know whether I have given you any idea of the scene which rises so vividly before me; but it seems to me to be a very incredible sight — a multitude in the last stage of emaciation, perishing with hunger, absolutely dropping dead as they tried to pace the streets, and yet food within sight and reach. They believed themselves to be prisoners, yet no birds could be more free; they regarded themselves as surrounded by deadly enemies, yet never was the land more clear of invaders. Even so we are constantly seeing the Lord’s elect and redeemed ones considering themselves rejected, and fearing that they shall perish. I see those for whom Christ has shed his blood still refusing to rest in his finished work, and rejoice in his glorious victory. Still I see those for whom there is laid up a crown of life that does not fade away, and who are heirs of all covenant blessings, wringing their hands in the destitution of unbelief, and pining away in wretched fear where no fear is. Their soul refuses to be comforted, and yet all comfort is theirs. Alas, the case is common!

11. II. When you have visualized the picture of the city remaining in sorrow though its deliverance had already come, I want, in the second place, to remark upon A VERY UNUSUAL BAND OF DISCOVERERS.

12. A choice quaternion at last found out what the Lord had done, proved it for themselves, and made it known to their fellow townsmen. Is it not remarkable that these discoverers were lepers? These were the first to discover that Jehovah had gotten the victory, and scattered the armies of Syria, and brought help to his people. These poor diseased beings were compelled to live in shanties outside the city gate, and to keep themselves apart from all others. Fed from day to day with food passed over the wall, as long as there was any to pass over, they rotted away in horrible loathsomeness. What a wretched sight! I will not ask you to step into the hut. There are four living skeletons; or what of flesh remains to them is foul with the hideous marks of leprosy. Their bodies are corrupting in life. They move about, poor sick things as they are, more than half-dead. They have had no food sent to them recently, and they must not go for relief. No man cares for them; the best thing that could possibly happen to them would be to die, and yet they have been clinging to life. They were outcasts, castoffs; Israel had thrust them outside of her gates; their own friends and families were obliged to be separated from them. These were the discoverers of what God had done! It is a wonderful thing that those who are most conscious of sin, most despised by men, and least likely to be favoured, are often those upon whom Jehovah has fixed the eye of his electing love. The chariot of his grace passes by the towers of haughty kings; but it stops at the hovel of poverty, and even at the prison gate of despair. The Lord looks on the chief of sinners, and says, “Here I will display my grace; here the wonders of my love shall be seen.” Lepers are not the only ones whom men cast out, nor are they the only people whom God very often stoops to bless. Some who feel loathsome, and vile, and self-abhorred may be before me now, dreaming that it is impossible for God to bless them; yet these are the characters whom he delights to save. Ah, grace! it is your custom to dwell in most unlikely places! You would have supposed that surely the king would have gone out to see, or that great lord who had ridiculed the prophet might have relented, and gone out to look. But no; there are last who shall be first, and the Lord in his providence and grace selected lepers to be the discoverers of his marvellous miracle. Even so the keenest observers of grace are those who have the deepest sense of sin. I always like to address myself to the most hopeless grade of experience, to those who are most desponding and despairing, for these are the people who will welcome free grace, since they feel their need of it. Talk about charity to the rich, and they will spurn you; talk about it to the destitute, and they will welcome you. Speak of free grace and dying love to self-righteous people, and they are deaf to you; but those who are guilty, and know it, welcome the promise of free pardon. I have to tell this morning of pure, rich, free, undeserved favour, which God displays to the guiltiest of the guilty. Those who are in their own esteem at the lowest ebb are always the first to understand the wonders of grace.

13. These men could not hope for a welcome from the Syrians, poor objects that they were, they would be hated as Israelites, and abhorred as lepers; yet they went, and in that camp they found all that they needed, and much more than they expected. Am I not speaking to some who are saying, “For me to go to Christ would be all in vain: I can suppose his blessing my brother, or my friend, but he never will receive one so altogether unworthy as I am?” That was my thinking once. I believed in the salvation of everyone except myself. It seemed to me as if a special plague and a particular curse had lighted upon my nature, and withered my heart. It was not so, as I soon proved when once I went to Jesus. But how could I expect to be accepted? I, who had sinned against light and knowledge, and spurned the grace of God when it came to me so lovingly! I speak to those of you who feel that you have no right to mercy: you are the very men who may come boldly for it; since it is not by right, but altogether by favour. You who have no claim to the mercy of God, you are the very people to come to him through Jesus Christ; for where there is the least of anything that is good and meritorious, generous gifts and gracious pardons are found most plentiful there. Remember, the Lord Jesus did not come to sell salvation; he asks for neither money nor price; but he himself came as the gift of God, and his own free gift is eternal life. Joseph Hart says rightly —

   Who rightly would his alms dispose
   Must give them to the poor.

Are you poor? Then the Lord has alms for you. If you feel that you are the last person who deserves to be received, you shall be received at once: the deeper your sense of your unworthiness the better. Even if you lament that you do not have a proper sense of need, this only proves your deeper poverty, and shows that you are without claim of any kind. You are neither able to plead law nor gospel in your favour, and must cast yourself on sovereign grace. Do so and live. Oh poor soul! I wish I could take you by the hand, and go myself with you again to my dear Lord as I went to him at first. I went to him in the most despairing manner. You have heard the story of the English king who was angry with the citizens of Calais, and declared that he would hang six of them. They came to him with ropes around their necks, submitting to their doom. That is the way in which I came to Jesus. I accepted my punishment, pleaded guilty, and begged for pardon. Put your rope around your neck; confess that you deserve to die, and come to Jesus. Put no honeyed words into your mouth; turn out that nonsense of self-righteousness from your heart, and cry, “Save, Lord, or I perish!” If you plead like this you shall never perish. You are the kind of man for whom Christ died — the kind of man whom he never did spurn, and never will spurn while the world stands.

14. Another thing to be noticed about these discoverers of the Lord’s work is that they were a people who dared not have joined themselves to God’s people. They were not allowed inside the city walls: their wretched hospital was outside the gate. They were recognised in some kind of a way as belonging to the congregation of Israel, for their place was near the city gates: still, Israel would have nothing to do with them; they must not enter one of her houses to take a meal. Some of you have been attending the Tabernacle for years, I know, but you dare not join the church; you would not venture to baptism, or to the Lord’s Supper, because you feel so unworthy. You hang on to us after a fashion: you would not quite like to give up all connection with the people of God; but yet you would not dare to say that you belong to them. In your secret hearts your bitter cry is that of the leper, “Unclean, unclean, unclean.” Before God you cast ashes on your head, and cover your lip, and sometimes wish that you had never been born: but still you cannot leave the gate of the Lord’s people, nor cease altogether from their company. Israel would not acknowledge these poor creatures, and yet they were the first to find out what the Lord had done for his people. How often does it happen that those who are rejected by men are accepted by God! Did I hear one ask — “Do you really mean it?” I do mean it. I mean that some of you who deem that you are destined to be lost, and yet cannot give up hearing the gospel, are sure to find the gospel yet. I hear you say, “The gospel is not for me, and yet I must hear it. I can never give up my Bible though I only read my own condemnation in its pages.” You are the kind of people to whom the word of salvation is sent, and you are the most likely people to discover what a Christ there is, what a salvation there is, what a deliverance there is in the grace of God. You are the men who shall yet tell to the king’s household the victories of eternal love, and assure those dull, cold Israelites inside the wall that after all there is food enough and to spare, and treasure to be had if they will only come out and have it.

15. To describe these discoverers even more fully, they were men who at last were driven to give themselves up. They said, “We will fall to the Syrians; and if they kill us we shall only die.” Blessed is that man who has given himself up, not to the Syrians, but to the Lord! As long as we can do something, we keep on doing that something to our ruin; but when it is all over with us, and we can do no more, then man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. The man who struggles as he sinks is hard to be rescued; but when the drowning man has gone down twice, and is just going down for the third time — now is the opportunity for the strong swimmer, who comes in and grasps him firmly, and swims with him to shore. You who are going down a third time, you lost ones, listen to this, “The Son of man is come to save those who were lost.” “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” Oh you self-righteous people, how can you talk about being saved? What saving do you need? You are as full of good works as you can be, and your pride shines on your brows; how can you be saved? Those who shall be saved by Jesus are those who are in themselves lost, ruined, and undone. Until you know your ruin, and confess your sin, it is not likely you will ever accept a Saviour. While you feel that you can save yourselves, you will attempt it; but when you can do no more, then you will fall into the arms of your Saviour; and a blessed fall that will be.

16. I would compare these discoverers to Columbus, four times repeated; for they found out a new world for Samaria. These four lepers went to the Syrian camp, and saw for themselves: lepers as they were, they came, they saw, they conquered. I think I can see them in the dim twilight, stealing along until they come to the first tent, expecting to be challenged by a sentinel, and wondering that they are not. They heard no sound of human voice. The horses and mules were heard to stamp, and draw their chains up and down, but their riders were gone, and no noise of human foot was heard. “There are no men around,” cried one of them, “nor signs of men. Let us go into this tent.” They stepped in. A supper was ready. He who had spread that table will never taste it again. The hungry men needed no persuasion, but immediately began to carve for themselves. They took possession of the spoils of war left on the field. After they had feasted they said, “To whom does this gold and silver belong? The prey belongs to us, for our enemies have left the treasure behind them.” They took as many of the valuables as they could carry, then went into another tent: still no living soul was seen. Where recently a host had rioted, not a soldier remained. There was no sound of revelry that night, nor tramp of guard, nor talk around the watch-fire. The lepers tasted more of the forsaken dainties, drained other goblets, and took more gold and silver. “There is more than we shall know what to do with,” they said; so they dug a hole, and banked their gains according to the Oriental custom. Who can conceive the delirious joy of those four lepers in the midst of such abundance?

17. Do you see what these men did? First, they went and saw for themselves, and then they took possession for themselves. All four of them did not own a penny before, and now they are rich beyond a miser’s dream. They have enjoyed the feast, and they are filled to the full. They are fully qualified to go and tell the starving city about their discovery, because they are clear that they have made no mistake. They have satisfied their own hunger gratified their own desire, and tasted and handled for themselves, and so they can speak as men who know and are sure.

18. Dear friends, he knows the grace of God best who, in all his leprosy and defilement, in all his hunger, and faintness, and weariness, has come to Christ, and fed on the bread of heaven, and drank the water of life, and taken the blessings of the covenant, and made himself rich with hidden treasure. Such a man will speak convincingly, because he will bear a personal witness. This man has no doubts about the vital points, for Christ is his life: he does not argue, but testify; he is not a special pleader, but a witness. The leper, fed and enriched, stands outside the city gate, and calls to the porter, and wakes him up at the dead of night, for he has news worth telling. The experienced believer speaks with the accent of conviction, and in it imitates his Master, who spoke with authority. “Why,” says the porter, “I used to speak to you over the city wall; are you the leper to whom I said that there was no more food for you? I have thrown you nothing for a week, and thought you were dead — are you the man?” He answers, “I am: I do not want your wretched rations now; I am filled, and where I have fed there is enough for all of you. Come out, and feast yourselves.” “I should not know you,” says the porter. All four join in saying, “No, you would not know us, we are new men since we have been to the camp. Believe the story, and tell it to all in the city, for it is true. There is enough and to spare, if they will only come out and have it.” The Lord made a good choice when he selected these lepers to be discoverers of his great work. He does wisely when he takes those who are saddest, and fills their mouths with laughter, and their tongues with singing, for these will command attention. These poor wretches could not have made up so amazing a story, nor pretended such joy: sorrowing castaways could not have invented the story of free grace. It must be true. Oh, that men would believe it!

19. How much I wish that through my poor words some gleam of hope would fall upon weary and heavy-laden souls to whom this sermon comes. You say, “Where are they?” I do not know. I know that such people do come under my ministry in extraordinary numbers. I shall know that they are here before next Sunday, for I shall hear from some of them — “I thank God I was there on Sunday morning; it just suited me; I was diseased with sin; my soul was starving and dying; but I went to Jesus as I was, and I discovered what I never dreamed could be true: he has done for me very abundantly, above all that I asked or even thought.”

20. III. So far we have come by the Lord’s help. I now wish to spend a minute or two in noticing HOW THEY CAME TO MAKE THIS DISCOVERY. These four lepers, how did they come to find out the flight of Syria?

21. First, I suppose, they made the discovery rather than anyone else because the famine was most severe with them. You see they were lepers outside the gate. In good times they received a daily portion from the town; but you may be pretty sure that the townsmen did not deny themselves on their account. If anyone has to go short, it will probably be those who are dependent on charity. No one in the east is excessively eager to feed lepers in times of famine. Probably the Samaritans thought, and even said, “They are best dead: they are no good to anyone; they are suffering; they cannot earn anything, let them die.” Besides, when the supplies within the city were exhausted, you could hardly blame the citizens if they sent nothing to the lepers; for those who were themselves without food had nothing to give. Yet the people within the walls could do something or other to palliate their hunger, they could even resort to horrible cannibalism; but these four lepers were cut off from such desperate resources, they had no one to kill and eat, and they must therefore die. It was then that they woke up. Truly, necessity is the mother of invention; and the mother of that blessed invention which finds the Lord Jesus Christ and his finished salvation is the awful necessity of a perishing soul. Only let some men feel the burden of sin, and they will never rest until they come to Jesus. John Bunyan says that he once thought harshly of Christ, but at last he came to such a pitch of misery that he felt he must come to Jesus in any way; and he says that he truly believed that, if the Lord Jesus had stood before him with a drawn sword in his hand, he would have rushed upon the point of his sword rather than stay away from him. I understand that very well. I wish that some of you were reduced to so great a necessity that you were driven to the only one who can help you. Oh, that you were utterly bankrupt! Not a kind wish, you say. Yes, it is. Our complete emptiness constrains us to seek for the divine fulness. Look at the prodigal son; as long as he had anything left he did not go home to his Father; but when he had spent all his substance, and had become so hungry that he envied the very hogs he fed, then he said, “I will arise, and go to my Father.” Spiritual necessity is what nerves the soul with courage to cast itself upon sovereign grace in Jesus Christ.

22. These lepers were driven to go to make the discovery because they felt that they could not be any worse than they were. They said, “If we sit here we shall die; and if the Syrians kill us, we shall only die.” That feeling has often driven souls to Christ.

   I can but perish if I go;
   I am resolved to try;
   For if I stay away, I know
   I must for ever die.

23. They could only die, and they were sure to die if they sat where they were. Poor soul! are you within reach of my voice? Is your case desperate? Well, then, try faith. You cannot be any worse, and you may be better. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If he should reject you, you cannot be any worse; but then, he cannot reject you; for he says, “He who comes to me, I will in no wise cast out.” I would pray for mercy if I were you. Suppose you are not heard: you cannot be any the worse for praying. I would cast myself on Jesus if I were you; you could not be any the worse for doing so. Every day I say to myself —

   What though my eye of faith be dim,
   I’ll hold on Jesus, sink or swim.

I cannot be blamed for trusting in one who has saved so many. Oh my hearer, there is no risk in the matter: you must be infinitely better for coming to the appointed Saviour! Come and try him. Come at this moment.

24. Again, these people saw that there was no reason why they should not go, for they said to each other — “Why do we sit here until we die?” They could not find a justification for inaction. They could not say, “We sit here because the king commands us to stay where we are.” You cannot say, my dear hearer, that you remain ungodly and unbelieving, because the Lord tells you to do so. Far from it. He tells you to forsake your way and your thoughts, and turn to him and live. He promises that he will receive you, and therefore he cries, “Turn, turn, why will you die?” The lepers could not say that they sat there because they were chained, or locked in, and so were compelled to starve in their hut. They could move to the Syrian camp, and this was their one liberty. You also are not compelled to be as you are. Is there any reason why you should not pray? Is there any barrier to your trusting the Lord unless it is in your own heart? You are not compelled to remain ungodly, thoughtless, prayerless, faithless. You are not compelled to be lost; there is no compulsion put upon you to force you away from Jesus and eternal life. Oh, that you would get up courage and say, “Why should we sit here until we die?” I hope there is no deadly despair upon you yet: certainly there should not be. These men did not feel that it was certain that they would die if they went to the Syrian camp; they had a little hope, and they acted on that hope like sensible men. You remember how the people of Nineveh humbled themselves before God with nothing to encourage them, but “Who can tell?” Jonah said, “Forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”; and they could get no more comfort than the question, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish?” Oh, poor troubled heart, who can tell? There may be mercy for you, and not a little mercy, either. The full, rich, eternal mercy of the Lord may be enjoyed by you before the sun goes down. That head of yours will yet wear the starry crown; around your naked loins there shall yet be girt the fair linen of Christ’s righteousness. Do not believe the devil if he says you must die. You need not die. Have confidence and venture now to Christ, and you shall find relief. I speak what I know, and know what I speak.

25. These lepers went to the camp of the Syrians because they were restricted to that one course of action — “If we say, ‘We will enter into the city,’ then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we also die.” Only one road was open. I am always glad when I am in that condition. If many courses are open to me I may make a mistake; but when I see only one road I know which way to go. It is a blessed thing to be restricted to faith in Christ — to be compelled to look to grace alone. I spoke to a friend this week who is severely sick, and I said, “You are resting in Christ, my brother.” He replied, “I have nothing else to rest in.” I said, “Your hope is in the atoning sacrifice of Christ,” and he answered, “What other hope could I have?” While, we have fifty ways of salvation we shall be lost; but when we see that “other foundation can no man lay than what is laid, even Jesus Christ the righteous,” then we shall build upon it and be safe.

26. These lepers were not the men to theorize; they were in such a plight that they must come to prompt action. Many ladies and gentlemen treat religion as a science, and therefore they never know its real powers. Many professors and learned doctors speculate about theology as if it were part of a liberal education, but by no means a practical matter. People who have no sin to wash away, and no great spiritual trouble to bear, play at religion; but those who are ready to perish look on matters in another light. We are not chemists analysing the bread of life; we are fainting men and women who feed on it with eagerness. Our resolve is —

   I’ll go to Jesus, though my sin
   Hath like a mountain rose;
   I know his courts, I’ll enter in,
   Whatever may oppose.
   Perhaps he will admit my plea;
   Perhaps will hear my prayer;
   But if I perish, I will pray,
   And perish only there.

27. These lepers discovered what the Lord had done because they did not give themselves up to dreams and guesses, but came to downright matters of fact. May God drive every unconverted sinner into a corner, and so compel him to yield to grace! May he bring you to act in earnest; may he drive you by the extreme necessities of your case to seek and to find, to search and to discover!

28. IV. I ask for your patience for a minute while I say, in the fourth place, — MAY NOT SOME SAD HEARTS IMITATE THOSE LEPERS and make the same discovery?

29. “I am afraid to believe in Christ,” one says, “for my sins, my many sins, prevent me.” Look at the lepers, and see how much better the Lord was to them than their fears. It is twilight, and they steal into the camp trembling. One cries, “Softly there, Simeon! Your heavy tread will bring the guard upon us.” Eleazar gently whispers to the other, “Make no noise. If they sleep, let us not arouse them.” They might tread as heavily as they pleased, and talk as loudly as they wished, for there was no man there. Do you know it? If you believe in the Lord Jesus, your sins, which are many, are all forgiven — there is no sin left to accuse you. You are afraid they will ruin you? They have ceased to be: the depths have covered them; there is not one of them left. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Your sins were numbered on the scapegoat’s head of old. Jesus bore your sins in his own body on the tree. If you come to Christ, confessing and believing, no sin shall destroy you, for it is blotted out.

30. Perhaps these men feared when they were going into the tent — “A Syrian will meet us at the tent-door, and cry, ‘Back, what business do you have here? Lepers, begone! Back to your dens and die.’ ” They entered into tent after tent: no one forbade them: they had the entry of every pavilion. They were also possessors of all they saw. When I came to Christ, I could not believe that I might take the promises; but I did, and no one said no to me. I have gone on appropriating promises ever since, — extremely great and precious promises; and no one has forbidden me. I find I can make myself most free in Christ’s house, and the more free I am, the better he is pleased. His rule is — ask what you wish, and it shall be done for you. The Lord gives us full liberty to come into his secret place, even to his throne of grace. Oh, that some poor heart would come at this moment! Instead of being repulsed, you shall find a hearty welcome, even into the most holy places.

31. Perhaps the leper felt some little question when he saw a golden cup, or a silver flagon, or a well-fashioned goblet. What have lepers to do with golden cups? But he overcame his scruples. No law could hinder his sharing the leavings of a runaway enemy. No one was there to stop him, and the valuables were set before him, and therefore he took what was provided for him. The lepers grew more and more bold, until they carried off as much of the booty as they were able to hide away. I take up my parable, and without scruple invite you to deal like this with salvation. When I came to Jesus, I hardly dared to appropriate a promise; it looked like stealing. I did not, could not believe, that I had a right to any of the good things provided for the Lord’s people; but I took gospel-leave, and enjoyed them. I find it written, “No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly,” and therefore I feel that nothing is withheld from me. I venture to take what grace has put in my way. I take possession of everything that I can find in Christ. I have never yet found either conscience, or the Word of God, or the Lord himself to upbraid me for appropriating the precious things laid up in the covenant for believers; therefore I grow bolder, and even more bold. One of these days I, who am the least of all saints, expect to stand among the bright ones near the throne, and sing “Hallelujah to God and the Lamb.” I do not think that I shall be ashamed to stand there. I am ashamed of myself for ten thousand reasons, but I shall not be ashamed at the Lord’s coming.

   “Bold shall I stand in that great day.”

You poor lepers, you poor lost and ruined ones, come to my Lord Jesus! Believe it, the whole land is before you: the land that flows with milk and honey is for you. This world is yours, and worlds to come. Christ is yours; yes, God himself is yours. Everything is to be had for nothing. Heaven and all its joys are to be had upon believing. May God make you the discoverers today of his wondrous grace, and to him shall be praise for ever and ever! Amen.

[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 84 2Ki 7]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 84” 84 @@ "(Song 3)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — Mercy For The Guilty” 544}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal Verses 1,2 of “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 1” 546}

If this sermon comforts you, circulate it. — C. H. S.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 84 (Song 1)
1 How pleasant, how divinely fair,
   Oh Lord of hosts, thy dwellings are!
   With long desire my spirit faints
   To meet the assemblies of thy saints.
2 My flesh would rest in thine abode,
   My panting heart cries out for God;
   My God! my King! why should I be
   So far from all my joys and thee?
3 Bless’d are the saints who sit on high
   Around thy throne of majesty;
   Thy brightest glories shine above,
   And all their work is praise and love.
4 Bless’d are the souls that find a place
   Within the temple of thy grace;
   There they behold thy gentler rays,
   And seek thy face, and learn thy praise.
5 Bless’d are the men whose hearts are set
   To find the way to Zion’s gate;
   God is their strength, and through the road,
   They lean upon their helper, God.
6 Cheerful they walk with growing strength,
   Till all shall meet in heaven at length,
   Till all before thy face appear,
   And join in nobler worship there.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 84 (Song 2)
1 Great God, attend while Sion sings
   The joy that from thy presence springs;
   To spend one day with thee on earth
   Exceeds a thousand days of mirth.
2 Might I enjoy the meanest place
   Within thy house, oh God of grace!
   Not tents of ears, nor thrones of power,
   Should tempt my feet to leave thy door.
3 God is our sun, he makes our day;
   God is our shield, he guards our way
   From all th’ assaults of hell and sin,
   From foes without and foes within.
4 All needful grace will God bestow,
   And crown that grace with glory too;
   He gives us all things, and withholds
   No real good from upright souls.
5 Oh God, our King, whose sovereign sway
   The glorious hosts of heaven obey,
   And devils at thy presence flee;
   Bless’d is the man that trusts in thee.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 84 (Song 3) <148th.>
1 Lord of the worlds above,
   How pleasant and how fair
   The dwellings of thy love,
   Thy earthly temples are!
   To thine abode,
      My heart aspires
      With warm desires,
   To see my God.
2 Oh happy souls that pray
   Where God appoints to hear!
   Oh happy men that pay
   Their constant service there!
   They praise thee still;
      And happy they
      That love the way
   To Zion’s hill.
3 They go from strength to strength,
   Through this dark vale of tears,
   Till each arrives at length,
   Till each in heaven appears:
   Oh glorious seat,
      When God our King
      Shall thither bring
   Our willing feet.
4 To spend one sacred day,
   Where God and saints abide,
   Affords diviner joy
   Than thousand days beside:
   Where God resorts,
   I love it more
   To keep the door
   Than shine in courts.
5 God is our sun and shield,
   Our light and our defence;
   With gifts his hands are fill’d;
   We draw our blessings thence;
   He shall bestow
      On Jacob’s race
      Peculiar grace
   And glory too.
6 The Lord his people loves;
   His hand no good withholds
   From those his heart approves,
   From pure and pious souls:
   Thrice happy he,
      Oh God of hosts,
      Whose spirit trusts
   Alone in thee.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Gospel, Stated
544 — Mercy For The Guilty
1 Mercy is welcome news indeed
      To those that guilty stand;
   Wretches, that feel what help they need,
      Will bless the helping hand.
2 Who rightly would his alms dispose
      Must give them to the poor;
   None but the wounded patient knows
      The comforts of his cure.
3 We all have sinn’d against our God,
      Exception none can boast;
   But he that feels the heaviest load
      Will prize forgiveness most.
4 No reckoning can we rightly keep,
      For who the sums can know?
   Some souls are fifty pieces deep,
      And some five hundred owe.
5 But let our debts be what thy may,
      However great or small,
   As soon as we have nought to pay,
      Our Lord forgives us all.
6 ‘Tis perfect poverty alone
      That sets the soul at large;
   While we can call one mite our own,
      We have no full discharge.
                        Joseph Hart, 1759.

Gospel, Received by Faith
546 — Just As I Am <, or L.M.>
1 Just as I am — without one plea
   But that thy blood was shed for me,
   And that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
      Oh Lamb of God, I come.
2 Just as I am — and waiting not
   To rid my soul of one dark blot,
   To thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
      Oh Lamb of God, I come.
3 Just as I am — though toss’d about
   With many a conflict, many a doubt,
   Fightings within, and fears without,
      Oh Lamb of God, I come.
4 Just as I am — poor, wretched, blind,
   Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
   Yea, all I need, in thee to find,
      Oh Lamb of God, I come.
5 Just as I am — thou wilt receive,
   Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
   Because thy promise, I believe,
      Oh Lamb of God, I come.
6 Just as I am — thy love unknown
   Has broken every barrier down,
   Now, to be thine, yea, thine alone,
      Oh Lamb of God, I come.
7 Just as I am — of that free love
   The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
   Here for a season, then above,
      Oh Lamb of God, I come.
                     Charlotte Elliott, 1836.

(Copyright (c) 2015, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario. Permission for non-profit publishing/distribution of this sermon on paper is freely granted. Contact Larry Pierce, (519) 664-2266 ([email protected]) for permission for all other forms of publishing/distribution. We have not knowingly changed the meaning of this sermon. We intended only to eliminate archaic language. If you find a place were you think we have changed the meaning, please contact us so we can correct it.

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).

Terms of Use

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.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390