1933. “Your Rowers Have Brought You Into Great Waters.”

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No. 1933-32:661. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, September 10, 1885, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 12, 1886.

Your rowers have brought you into great waters. {Eze 27:26}

1. This was spoken by the prophet concerning Tyre, that great mercantile city where all the commerce of the East found its outlet towards the West. Tyre, when the Chaldeans invaded Palestine, had greatly rejoiced at the fall of Jerusalem. She said, “Aha, she is broken who was the gates of the people: I shall be replenished now that she is laid waste.” It was a cruel and selfish exaltation. After a while the city in the sea came to feel the weight of the great oppressor’s arm; for thus said the Lord, “I will bring upon Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north. He shall set engines of war against your walls, and with his axes he shall break down your towers.” For thirteen years the city endured a siege under Nebuchadnezzar, and it was concerning this calamity that the prophet said, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” The merchant princes of Tyre had so managed the affairs of the State that they brought the Tyrians into desperate straits. They had incited them to oppose the great king; and they discovered in due time that they were striving against a power too strong for them. Their policy had been a mistake. Comparing Tyre to one of its own galleys propelled with oars, the prophet declares, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

2. All the glories and the woes of Tyre are over now. “What city is like Tyre, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?” That page of history has long ago been turned over to give place to the rise and fall of other cities and empires; but the prophetic expression is still full of power. To many people in our own day we may well cry with Ezekiel, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

3. I. First and foremost, this is truly applicable to SINNERS WHO ARE BEGINNING TO TASTE THE RESULT OF THEIR SINS — ungodly people, who have chosen their own ways and followed their own devices, and now at last are finding that the way of transgressors is hard.

4. Sinners may go unpunished for many a bright hour of the morning of life; but as the day grows older, the shadows fall, and their way is clouded over. I meet many who may be well assured that God will ultimately punish sin, because the first flakes of the endless fire-shower have begun to fall upon them, and they cannot escape. They are beginning now to reap the first-ripe ears of that awful harvest whose sheaves of woe shall fill their hearts, world without end. In those who sin with the flesh the result of their vices is seen and felt to a horrible degree in their own bodies. Many a man bears in his bones the sins of his youth. Around us are many who already wish that they had never been born, because of the condition into which their immorality has brought them. The sin which at the first seemed a dainty luxury, sweet to their palate, has now developed into a corrosive poison in their bowels, eating their flesh as with fire, and burning up their spirits. Lust was their pilot; the siren of pleasure lured them on, and now they are wrecks, breaking to pieces on the rocks. Despondent, ashamed, haunted with nameless terrors, afraid to hope, they dare neither live nor die. They are overcome with alarm, as they look forward, for if it is darkness behind, and night all around, tenfold blackness lies before them by reason of their transgression and their sins. Oh sinner spent with sin, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

5. Certain transgressors are beginning to feel the result of wrong-doing in their circumstances. They have brought themselves from wealth to poverty by drunkenness, dishonesty, or vice. The owner of a fair estate is compelled to associate with the lowest of the low in a filthy lodging. He who was educated for a profession, and is skilled in learned languages, employs his superior knowledge to beg and cheat, and even then remains in loathsome rags. Not even in this world does sin pay its servants good wages. Drunkenness and idleness clothe a man with rags: these are the livery of sin. Those godly men who spend their lives in the painful business of seeking out the fallen often harrow our feelings with the dread stories of those who are truly prodigals, not merely in parable, but in literal fact, who have wasted their substance in riotous living, and now, if it were possible, would be glad to fill their belly with the husks that swine eat, and no man gives to them. Many a broken-down sinner has in this house found his way back to the great Father. Oh, that it may be so during this service! Extremely tossed about, in sickness and in poverty, both of them the result of your sin, you are in a sorry plight at this hour. “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” You would not take Christ to be your pilot in your youth: you were too proud to accept your father’s God, your mother’s Saviour: you needed to have your own way, and follow your own devices; and now the desperate tuggings of your passions have brought you into deep waters indeed. You said in your pride, “I will not be tied to my mother’s apron-strings”; but you are now a captive, fastened with bonds of steel to one who will be no mother to you, but a destroyer. You gave up your barque to pirate rowers, and now see where they have brought you! The waters around you are dark and tempestuous, and no port is near. One thing you can do, and I would have you do it — warn others lest they come into your place of danger. With broken health and lost estate, at least be humane; and when you are most in your misery, call to yourself the young who have not yet known your evil ways, and charge them to shun your course. If you cannot be an example, I would use you as a beacon. “Though hand join in hand, yet shall not the wicked be unpunished,” and you are a proof of the same. “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

6. Others who have not yet been afflicted by any outward providence are beginning to feel the sting of sin upon their conscience. This will, I trust, be used for their good. I trust the Lord has a kind intention towards them, and is condemning them in the inward court of conscience, so that they may not be judged and condemned with the godless world at the last great day. The Lord’s eye perceives many who once were at ease in their iniquities who now are greatly troubled by their own reflections. Like the troubled sea, they cannot rest: their memories are constantly casting up the mire and dirt of their former transgressions. There is no peace for them day or night. They know that they must die; they have heard also of judgment to come: the blast of the trumpet of doom is sounding in their ears, and therefore they cannot sleep at night, nor be at rest by day. A tempest is hurrying up; black masses of cloud hang overhead; thunder mutters from afar, and the lightning lights up the sky. Sin is always before them. It casts ashes into their bread, and gall into their drink. Their merry comrades cannot figure them out, for they were once as wild as any. Men wonder why it is that for them there seems to be no music in the lute, no pleasure in the bowl, no joy in the dance. They do not know the voice which cries to the troubled one — “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

7. Oh soul, you are come now where your sins surround you, and shut you in on every side. They seemed as if they were all forgotten, like dead men, out of mind; but they have risen again, and in their rising you have fallen. Just as a man pursued by wolves in the steppes of Russia seeks to escape from the hungry pack which hurry on so swiftly, so you are trying to escape from your sins; but all in vain. You hear their howls behind you as they chase you with untiring feet; and what can you do? The sins of twenty years ago are upon you! Fierce sins of your hot and youthful blood, which seemed so harmless then; they are demons now from which you cannot hide. What would you give to forget them? But they will not be forgotten. The devourers are near you; their hot breath comes upon you! Their fangs are in your flesh! They taste your blood! Truly, you have made a poor business of life to become the prey of such horrors! At a time of life when many a Christian man is in full vigour of usefulness, you are worn out, and near to die, and near to hell. Your sins are upon you, even now they overtake you; and what will you do? Oh gallant barque, of the silken sail, and the painted hull, where are you now? “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” 8. Listen to me, then, while I speak to you words which may seem harsh, but they are all meant in love for you. Listen, I say, and take warning from your present sorrows.

9. If the waters are great today, what will they be before long? If now you cannot bear the wages of sin, what will you do when they are paid to you in full? “What will you do in the swelling of Jordan?” What will you do when they wipe the clammy sweat from your brow, and tell you that a few more gasps will send you into eternity? Oh man, however great the waters are now, they are as nothing compared with what they will be at the last! You are only running with the footmen now, and yet they weary you; what will you do when you contend with horses? When the Lord shall walk through the sea with his horses, through the heap of great waters; what will become of you? Your case is lamentable. My heart weeps for you. “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

10. Learn, I urge you, this piece of timely wisdom. Your rowers have brought you into no quiet waters; they have found you no harbours of delight: shall they any longer be your rowers? Do this one thing to your own soul if you have any sense left, or any pity on yourself; cry out against those who are ruining you. Now say, “I will go no farther with these rowers. God helping me, the helm shall be reversed.” If such is your resolve, and the great Pilot shall come to your help, you will never drink again from the accursed cup, and you will shun the company which has lured you to your present wretchedness. Hear me while I cry to you, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you!” for maybe you will never have another hope of escaping; but you will henceforth drift from bad to worse, until the worst of all shall come. “Your rowers have brought you into great waters” — have no more to do with them. Oh that the Spirit of the Lord may help you to break the oars and cast the rowers into the sea!

11. Remember, also, that they have rowed you into the stormy waters, but they cannot row you out of them. You can find no rest by continuing in sin, neither can you save yourself from your present forlorn condition. Oh man, cry mightily to God. He will hear you. He has revealed a way of deliverance for you in the person of his dear Son, and all your hope lies there. Have you not heard of Jesus, who can stop the wind, and bring your vessel into an instant calm? While there is life in you there is hope in Christ for you. You are not yet in torment, not yet in hell; still his good Spirit strives and remains with the chief of sinners. Therefore, though the sun is gone down for today, I urge you do not allow it to rise again until you have committed your soul into the hands of your Redeemer. In desperate jeopardy of eternal destruction, cry to the mighty God for help, and he will make bare his arm and rescue you from your destructions. Do not despair. There is a Saviour, and a great one, and he has come here to seek and to save those who were lost. Trust in him who is mighty to save. By the terror of your destruction, I beseech you believe in the great salvation. Cry —

   Jesu, lover of my soul,
   Let me to thy bosom fly,
   While the nearer waters roll,
   While the tempest still is high!
   Hide me, oh my Saviour, hide,
   Till the storm of life be past;
   Safe into the haven guide;
   Oh receive my soul at last.

12. I have spoken very feebly; but I pray the Lord to bless it to every unconverted person within these walls.

13. II. And now, secondly, I think that I see another ship. It is not black with the grime of the world: it resembles the gilded barge of a mighty prince; but still, for all that, its rowers have brought it into great waters. This represents THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS BROUGHT INTO DISTRESS.

14. Many men are fondly persuaded that either they need no saving or that they can save themselves. Either in whole or in part, their natural goodness, or their benevolent actions, or their careful attention to external religion, will secure their safety. They suppose that by going to hear the gospel, by participating in sacraments, by contributing towards church work, and the like, they will find themselves borne securely towards the desired haven. This ship is rarely built. It resembles what Ezekiel compares Tyre with: “They have made all your planks of fir trees from Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make a mast for you. Of the oaks of Bashan have they made your oars; they have made your benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood, from the isles of Kittim. Of fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was your sail, so that it might be for an ensign for you; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was your awning.” {Eze 27:4-7} There is no end to the gallant show which self-righteousness can exhibit. No ship of Tyre can excel it.

15. Yet to this glorious ship a trying voyage is appointed. Alas, my friend! your rowers have brought you into great waters. I would like you to think of the difficult journey which lies before you. The proposal is that you shall row yourself by your good works across that sea of sin to the port of glory. Before you enter into a matter it is good to count the cost. Do you not know that, if you are to be saved by obedience to the law of God, your obedience must be absolutely perfect? If there is a breach of one single commandment, although all the others should be scrupulously kept, yet the law is broken, and the course of it descends. If you have a chain, and you break one link, it is of no further use. It is idle to say, “All the other links are strong.” The miner would not risk his life on a chain with one dangerous link; and the strength of the whole chain must be measured, not by its strongest, but by its weakest link. Do you think, my friend, that you can perfectly keep the law of God? Can you do it as long as you live? I should like you to think what great waters the rowers are proposing to take you into if you are to win salvation by an obedience which shall never fail or falter. You see from Holy Scripture that God gave his Son Jesus Christ to die for us so that we might be saved by his grace. Do you suppose that this gift of Jesus was a superfluity? There would have been no need for that great offering on the part of our Lord Jesus Christ if men can save themselves by their own merits. Calvary is a blot on the character of Deity if salvation by self is possible. His own Son put to death without a stern necessity for it would be the grossest charge that could be brought against the great Father! You certainly are attempting a very exceptional work if you are to perform what cost the glorious Son of God his life. Great waters, dear friend — waters too great for your frail vessel.

16. Look, sirs, you who have been resting in your own righteousness; have you never sinned? Analyse even today; has no evil thought, or wrong desire, or immoral thought, defiled its hours? Have you never spoken a sinful, unkind, untruthful, or proud word? Do you claim to have been absolutely perfect before your Maker from your childhood? Surely, you must have a brow of brass to make such a boast. What does he say to you? “There is not a just man upon earth, who does good, and does not sin.” “All we like sheep have gone astray.” “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Truly, my friend, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” If you are to be saved by your works, see where you are! Any one day you may slip and stumble, and then what becomes of all your past life? for, “When the righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, all his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, he shall die in them.” {Eze 18:24} If this is your style of standing before God, it is a poor standing indeed. Can you ever be sure that you will be safe in an hour’s time? Come, my friend, can you be sure that you have done enough, and felt enough, and prayed enough, and given enough alms, and gone a sufficient number of times to the meeting-house, or to the church? Can you be sure that it is well with you even now? And if your faith is in a priest, can you be sure that he who baptized you, and confirmed you, had the apostolic succession? Can you be sure that he who gave you the sacrament was truly ordained? When you lie dying, a thousand questions will haunt you! You will have to ask yourself about this, and that, and the other; and on your present way of going to work you can never be sure.

17. The religion of self-righteousness never proposes such a thing as security. It does not give the quiet of faith, much less the deep repose of full assurance. “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” Uncertainty follows uncertainty, and the wind of fear tosses the billows of doubt. You will have to slave your fingers to the bone with incessant efforts, and then never quit. Your life will be one perpetual treadmill, and you will never be an inch the higher. You might as well attempt to sail across the Atlantic on a sere leaf of autumn, as hope to reach heaven by your own works. You have no good works man: you are incapable of good works. Your motive is tainted, and it pollutes all your doings. Self-salvation is your goal, and, therefore, you are serving yourself, and not your God. The motive is the essence of the deed. Now, the grand motive which makes virtue a virtue is absent in the selfish heart. The motive of love is necessary for acceptance with God, and you know nothing about it. As yet, all your labour comes from a joyless servitude: it is slave’s work for a slave’s wage; and the wage you will get, for you are a sinner, will be no more than death when all is done. “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

18. I remember when I reached those same terrible seas. I, as a youth, sometimes used to think that I was as good as other lads, and perhaps I was, for I had not fallen into the grosser vices. I imagined that if anyone was saved by a moral life, I might be. But oh, when God lifted the veil of my nature, and I saw what my heart really was, I sang another tune. I had been down into the cellar of my heart a great many times in the dark, and it seemed pretty fair; but when the Holy Spirit opened the shutters, and let in the light, what loathsome abominations I saw there! My life, too, no longer appeared to be the good thing I had imagined it to be. Ah, no! my beauty was turned into corruption. Only let a man get the light of God streaming into his soul, convincing him of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, and all reliance upon self, in any form, will seem to him to be the most hateful of crimes. What crime is there that is more like the pride of Lucifer than the pride of a wretched rebel, who talks about meriting heaven, and finding entrance among glorified spirits, without washing his robes in the blood of Jesus, under the pretence that they never were foul. Does he imagine that he will be admitted to the courts of the Eternal King, to sing his own praises, and so insult the Lord? While others come there through rich and free and sovereign grace, and, therefore, rapturously adore almighty love, is he to reach the blissful shores to magnify his own excellence? I tell you, sir, that if you have put to sea in the barque of self-righteousness, however strong the rowers who tug those three banks of oars, and make the vessel leap through the waves, the day shall come when you will hear a voice across the waters crying, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters: the east wind has broken you in the midst of the seas.” The voyage is too great for you: shipwreck is certain. May God give you grace to shun the attempt! Flee from your own works to Christ’s work. Place your trust where God has placed his love, namely, in the Lord Jesus. Then you shall have good works indeed, but they shall be the cargo which you carry, not the ship which carries you. They shall then be based on the motive of gratitude, and not of selfishness; and then real virtue shall be possible for you — virtue based on love for God. When you are delivered from your sin, and safe in the righteousness of Christ, then you will say, as each believer does when his heart is warm with affection,

   Loved of my God, for him again
      With love intense I burn:
   Chosen of him ere time began,
      I choose him in return.

So we have seen two gallant ships in grievous straits, and we have listened to counsels by which we may avoid their dangers. May God bless my simple word!

19. III. But now, very briefly, there is a third case, THE ERRORIST IN HIS DIFFICULTIES.

20. This is a very common sight in these wayward times. I might say to many a man who has ventured out to sea under the strong impulse of curiosity, trusting in his own proud intellect, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” The only safe course for a thoughtful man is to trust in God, and to accept the Scriptures as infallible truth. There is our anchorage. Every mind needs a fixed point: we must have infallibility somewhere: my infallible guide is Holy Scripture. I know of no other anchorage. The revelation of God to man in the person of the Son of God, even Christ Jesus, is the one and only hope for men, and the word of the Lord in which we have the divine testimony to the appointed Saviour is our oracle and court of appeal.

21. But there are men who cannot tolerate this; and, first of all, I think that they begin to get into great waters when they resolve to be guided by their own judgment and their own intellect, without submitting to the teachings of Christ. It is proud and dangerous work to set up to be your own guide. You are undertaking a very large responsibility when you refuse to sit at Jesus’ feet, and prefer to assume the teacher’s chair. If you will rely on your own wisdom, wit, and will, you choose a highland road, rough, rugged, and full of perils. You cast away the possibility of that sweet peace which comes from reposing on superior wisdom; you miss, in fact, that joy of faith, that sweet rest of mind which is the reward of the lowly of heart. Simple trust in Christ is to me the well-spring of comfort. To believe because the Lord speaks is rest for my heart. I could not live except as I leave questions with God, and accept his word instead of all reasoning.

22. Oh my wise and thoughtful friend, do you know what will soon happen to you? You will probably fall under the domination of another’s intellect: you will become the shadow of some greater man. The man who will be guided by nobody is usually guided by someone more foolish or more knavish than himself. I have seen both cases. I have seen a man of superior abilities crouching at the feet of a semi-idiot, who seemed to the other to be a profound mystic, and I have also seen the deep, designing man of brazen impudence towering above an abler man, and cowing him into submission. He swore that he would be independent, and to be so he cast off all old beliefs, and fettered himself to foolish falsehood. He would not stay at home with his father to partake of the joyful inheritance, for he longed for freedom. Alas! before long a master sent him into his fields to feed swine. He could not believe the simplicities of truth; but now he groans beneath the monstrosities of superstition.

   Hear the just law, the judgment of the skies!
   He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies;
   And he that will be cheated to the last,
   Delusion, strong as hell, shall bind him fast.

23. The man has given up the old doctrine because it was difficult, and has accepted new doctrine which is ten times more difficult. He would not be credulous, and now he is a hundred times more so. Creation staggered him, and he tries to believe in evolution. Faith in Jesus seemed hard, but he must now accept Agnosticism. The difficulties of unbelief are ten times greater than the difficulties of faith. We may require a great stretch of faith to accept all that the Holy Spirit teaches; but once believe in his faithful word, and you have found a way of life; if you do not do this, you have continually to enlarge the gullet of your credulity, and remain for ever receptive of mere wind, which can never fill the mind. Unbelief calls you to go from improbability to impossibility; from extravagance to romance; from romance to raving. I appeal to candid people who have ventured from the moorings of faith to sport on the waves of modern speculation, whether they are not conscious of a great loss. When faith evaporates there is a speedy departure of spiritual power. The new notions intoxicate, but they do not sustain. The near approach to God is gone when the old faith in the atonement is shaken; and the enjoyment of hallowed communion ceases when the din of perpetual controversy frightens away the dove of peace. I have heard it remarked that the modern apostles, when they preach, often discourse very prettily — for they are clever men; but all sense of enjoyment of what they preach is lacking. They are not themselves feeding upon what they hand out. There is no beaming light upon their faces as of men who are enamoured by the doctrines they proclaim. Their teachings can cause them little delight, and you see that it is so. They are not heralds arrayed to adorn a banquet, but surgeons gathered for an operation. Well may they be without enjoyment, for there is nothing to enjoy. Who smiles as he sits down to a meatless, marrowless bone? Who rejoices as he lifts a shining cover which has nothing beneath it? In the dogmas of modern thought there is not enough mental meat to bait a mousetrap: as for food for a soul, there is none of it; an ant would starve on such small grain. No atonement, no regeneration, no eternal love, no covenant: what is there worth thinking on? “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” They have taken away the light, the life, the love, the liberty of free grace, and they have given us nothing in it place except pretty toys, which they themselves will break before many days are past. Oh sirs, it is all very fine to be amused in the heyday of our health with “bubbles from the brunnen” {a} of superior intellects; but times will come when the soul will have to do business on great waters, and then it will need substantial help. When a man comes face-to-face with eternity, he demands certainties about which his heart has no shadow of question.

24. I have lain by the hour together consciously looking into death, in as bitter suffering of body and mind as a man might well endure; and I tell you nothing will then satisfy the heart except the atoning sacrifice; nothing will avail to clear the sky except a distinct view of Jesus as a substitute and a vicarious sacrifice for human sin. Nothing cheers me at such times except the eternal covenant, ordered in all things and sure; promises founded on the faithfulness of God; grace given by the sovereignty of God to guilty and undeserving men: you may make do with lighter things, but I must have these, and nothing less. Grace, with omnipotence and immutability to back it, will bear my spirit up, and nothing else. But if you will let go of the old gospel, if you will go from one new theory to another, after a short time you will come into misery of the direst order. I have seen men give up first of all the communion of saints; then all belief in the Word of God. After that they have gone into the common pleasures of worldlings, and so they have drifted and drifted until at length the seat of the scorner, the song of the drunkard, or the stews of the unchaste have afforded them carrion suited to their taste. How many who only meant to go a little from the old ways of truth have gone too far aside even for themselves! Truly, my speculative friend, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” I am not intending to follow you. You are so wise that I am satisfied to be a fool, because I would wish to be the opposite of what you are. I am content to be weak, for your strong mind is bringing you little profit. I would not at any time rest my soul’s eternal hope on a theory, or on the workings of my own brain. I need a firmer foundation. On the truth revealed in this Book, on the clear and certain verities of Holy Scripture, I dare risk my soul for time and for eternity, without the shadow of a doubt. I would earnestly entreat you to do the same, lest eventually your rowers bring you into great waters.

25. Why, to me it seems very great waters to be brought into to be forced to say that I know nothing. One walking with me observed, with some emphasis, “I do not believe as you do. I am an Agnostic.” “Oh,” I said to him. “Yes. That is a Greek word, is it not? The Latin word, I think, is ignoramus.” He did not like it at all. Yet I only translated his language from Greek to Latin. These are queer waters to get into, when all your philosophy brings you is the confession that you know nothing, and the obstinance which enables you to boast in your ignorance. As for those of us who rest in Jesus, we know and have believed something; for we have been taught eternal verities by him who cannot lie. Our Master was not accustomed to say, “It may be,” or, “It may not be”; but he had an authoritative style, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you.” Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of what he has taught us shall cease to be the creed of our souls. We feel safe in this assurance; but should we abandon it, we should expect soon to find ourselves in troubled waters.

26. IV. Now I pass on to dwell for a moment upon another sight, which is as sad as any of the others; perhaps more sad. Behold THE BACKSLIDER FILLED WITH HIS OWN WAYS. Oh wanderer from the Lord your God, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.”

27. I have seen and talked with some to whom this text has become an awful truth. There are some here tonight who, if I brought them up on this platform, and they had the courage to speak, could unfold a tale of measureless misery which they have brought upon themselves by departing from the Lord. Look at that woman. She once rejoiced in the gospel as one who finds great spoil. It is thirty years ago; but at that time she knew the truth, and loved it. She was the joy of the pastor who brought her to Christ, for she was earnest, intense, devoted. There were years of gracious walking, and then there came a temptation. She grew cold in heart, she was poor, she was infatuated, she turned aside, she was wretched, she found comfort in the glass. Drop the veil. It is many years ago since that fall, and she plunged on in suffering, misery, and sin, such as I will not attempt to describe. She became a mere wreck; death stared her in the face. She returned to us, and said, “Let me be taken into the church before I die; for I have never lost, after all, the life of God in my soul; but, oh, I stepped aside, and from that day sorrow has pursued me. Restore me to the church, for I am by grace restored to God.” As you looked at her, you said, “Poor weather-beaten barque! it was a bad day for you when your rowers brought you into these great waters.”

28. You know how it begins: first of all, that holy, joyful walk with God is lost. You used to sing from morning to night for joy of heart, for, like Enoch, you walked with God. Alas! that music came to a close. It did not seem much — merely to lose rapturous enjoyment; but it was much in itself, and it meant more. Then there came a loss of relish for the means of grace. The services were long, and the ministry grew dull: the prayer meeting was not worth attending, and week-night services were too much of a good thing. Secret prayer was neglected, and the Bible was unread. The forms of religion were kept up longer than the enjoyment of it; but there was no life, no power in them. After that there came a general fault-finding with brethren, a quarrelling with sisters, a constant quibbling about this and that. Nothing was good enough. The soul was drifting, and it imagined that the church and the world were no longer what they were, just as men in a boat imagine that the shore is moving. How many endeavour to be blind to their own declensions by pretending to see fault and falsehood in other people! Then there came a distaste for Christian company: godly people were too commonplace and prosaic. The love of something “brighter” called them away from upright conduct. Occasionally they were found in places doubtfully virtuous and unquestionably irreligious. Songs other than those of Zion began to be relished, and teachings not of the Bible were listened to.

29. All the while there was an inward unrest, and there was a yearning of the spirit for better things. The man felt, every now and then, that he was losing sight of shore, and floating into dangerous places: he was uneasy as to where the currents would carry him, and did not feel safe under his new pilot. Then on a black day there were rocks ahead — rocks from which in former years his vessel had steered clear with ease; and now a current and a wind drove the ship that way, and before he was well aware of it the man was wrecked. To leave our metaphor, the sin which the man once hated he now played with; he did not intend to yield, but he gave way a little, and soon became the slave of appetite. He who sat at the sacramental table was now to be seen intoxicated. She who would have communed only with believers in Christ was now found in very dubious society.

30. At last it went further: it came to actual and open sin, and ruin followed. I cannot tell how long that sinner may remain in his sin. How long David continued impenitent I need not mention, but oh that he had never fallen into it! Oh that he had never idled that day away upon his bed so as only to rise in the evening to see a sight that led him to rush headlong into foul transgression! Oh brothers and sisters, when you begin to get a little away from Christ you do not know how far you may yet go, nor how soon you may commit the grossest crimes. There may be some here tonight who once were preachers of the gospel, or earnest Sunday School teachers, or Christian women devoted to the cause of God; and now, alas! they are separated from the fellowship of the church, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, outcasts from the communion of saints!

31. Oh friend, “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” Oh that he would come who owns your barque, who shed his blood for you! Oh that he would step into your vessel, and take the helm and turn around tonight by a great stroke of his almighty grace, and turn your head to the port of peace! Do you ask, “Will he receive me again?” Listen to his voice: he says to you, “ ‘Turn, oh backsliding children,’ says the Lord; ‘for I am married to you.’ ” Take with you words, and come to him at once, for he is ready to receive you. Do not linger. But oh backslider in heart, even before you are filled with your own ways, come home, come home and say. “Return to your rest, oh my soul.” Remember that if you are a child of God you will never be happy in sin. You are spoiled for the world, the flesh, and the devil. In the day when you were regenerated there was put into you a vital principle, which can never die nor be content to dwell in the dead world. You will have to come back, if indeed you belong to the family: prodigal as you are, you are still a child. Though you return with every bone broken, you will have to return. He who is married to you has not forgotten the marriage bond. Though you have forsaken him, and defiled yourself with many lovers, yet it is written, “He hates divorce.” He cannot endure a divorce; his almighty love will win you back. He cannot and he will not give you up. Read those memorable passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, where the Holy Spirit uses that simile which I scarcely dare use tonight, where the most defiled and corrupt of adulterous souls are still invited to come back to their first husband, because the marriage bond still holds good, and the Lord will neither let them go, nor allow them to continue in sin. “Your rowers have brought you into great waters.” Oh for a pilot to guide you into port! Return, return. I leave my text and those to whom it applies with the God of all grace. May he bless you all, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 107 (part of)]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Christ’s Sufferings And Glory” 426}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Desiring To Submit” 589}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Supplicating” 587}

{a} Bubbles from the brunnen of Nassau (1845) by Sir Francis Bond Head. See Explorer "https://archive.org/details/bubblesfromsome02headgoog"

Mr. Spurgeon, having been taken by a severe attack of his old complaint, is unable to write anything to his friends this week from Mentone; but he wishes an earnest interest in their prayers.

The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for December, 1886.
Mysterious Visits. By C. H. Spurgeon.
Lessons from the Loom.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas.
A Thursday Evening Address.
Scepticism among Working Men.
Whitfield in America — His Last Sermon.
The Capacity for Mischief Possessed by Small Beings.
The Broadmead Records.
Some Special Preservations Experienced. By C. H. Spurgeon.
A Word for Ritualists.
Notices of Books.
Pastors’ College.
Stockwell Orphanage.
Colportage Association.
Society of Evangelists.

Price 3d. Post-free, 4 Stamps.
Passmore & Alabaster, 4 Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.

Jesus Christ, His Praise
426 — Christ’s Sufferings And Glory
1 Now for a tune of lofty praise
   To great Jehovah’s equal Son!
   Awake, my voice, in heavenly lays,
   Tell the loud wonders he hath done!
2 Sing how he left the worlds of light,
   And the bright robes he wore above;
   How swift and joyful was his flight,
   On wings of everlasting love!
3 Down to this base, this sinful earth,
   He came to raise our nature high;
   He came to atone Almighty wrath;
   Jesus, the God, was born to die.
4 Deep in the shades of gloomy death
   The Almighty Captive prisoner lay;
   The Almighty Captive left the earth,
   And rose to everlasting day.
5 Lift up your eyes, ye sons of light,
   Up to his throne of shining grace!
   See what immortal glories sit
   Round the sweet beauties of his face!
6 Amongst a thousand hearts and songs,
   Jesus, the God, exalted reigns;
   His sacred name fills all their tongues,
   And echoes through the heavenly plains.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
589 — Desiring To Submit
1 Oh that my load of sin were gone!
   Oh that I could at last submit
   At Jesus’ feet to lay it down,
   To lay my soul at Jesus’ feet!
2 When shall mine eyes behold the Lamb?
   The God of my salvation see?
   Weary, oh Lord, thou know’st I am;
   Yet still I cannot come to thee.
3 Rest for my soul I long to find;
   Saviour divine, if mine thou art,
   Give me thy meek and lowly mind,
   And stamp thine image on my heart.
4 Break off the yoke of inbred sin,
   And fully set my spirit free:
   I cannot rest till pure within,
   Till I am wholly lost in thee.
5 Come, Lord, the drooping sinner cheer,
   Nor let thy chariot wheels delay;
   Appear, in my poor heart appear!
   My God, my Saviour, come away!
                  Charles Wesley, 1742, a.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
587 — Supplicating <8.7.>
1 Jesus, full of all compassion,
      Hear thy humble suppliant’s cry:
   Let me know thy great salvation:
      See! I languish, faint, and die.
2 Guilty, but with heart relenting,
      Overwhelm’d with helpless grief,
   Prostrate at thy feet repenting,
      Send, oh send me quick relief!
3 Whither should a wretch be flying,
      But to him who comfort gives? —
   Whither, from the dread of dying,
      But to him who ever lives?
4 While I view thee, wounded, grieving,
      Breathless on the cursed tree,
   Fain I’d feel my heart believing
      That thou suffer’dst thus for me.
5 Hear, then blessed Saviour, hear me;
      My soul cleaveth to the dust;
   Send the Comforter to cheer me;
      Lo! in thee I put my trust.
6 On the word thy blood hath sealed
      Hangs my everlasting all:
   Let thy arm be now revealed;
      Stay, oh stay me, lest I fall!
7 In the world of endless ruin,
      Let it never, Lord, be said,
   “Here’s a soul that perish’d suing
      For the boasted Saviour’s aid!”
8 Saved — the deed shall spread new glory
      Through the shining realms above!
   Angels sing the pleasing story,
      All enraptured with thy love!
                     Daniel Turner, 1787.

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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