2073. Two Essential Things

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No. 2073-35:121. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, March 3, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. {Ac 20:21}

1. This was the practical drift of Paul’s teaching at Ephesus, and everywhere else. He kept back nothing which was profitable for them; and the main profit he expected them to derive from his teaching the whole counsel of God was this, that they should have “repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” This was the great purpose of the apostle. I pray that it may be so with all of us who are teachers of the Word: may we never be satisfied if we interest, please, or dazzle; but may we long for the immediate production, by the Spirit of God, of true repentance and faith. Old Mr. Dodd, one of the quaintest of the Puritans, was called by some people, “Old Mr. Faith and Repentance,” because he was always insisting upon these two things. Philip Henry, remarking upon his name, writes somewhat to this effect — “As for Mr. Dodd’s abundant preaching repentance and faith, I admire him for it; for if I die in the pulpit, I desire to die preaching repentance and faith; and if I die outside of the pulpit, I desire to die practising repentance and faith.” Someone remarked to Mr. Richard Cecil, that he had preached very largely upon faith; but that good clergyman assured him that if he could rise from his death-bed, and preach again, he would dwell still more upon that subject. No themes can exceed in importance repentance and faith, and these need to be brought very frequently before the minds of our congregations.

2. Paul testified concerning “repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”; by which I understand that, as an ambassador for Christ, he assured the people that through repentance and faith they would receive salvation. He taught in God’s name mercy through the atoning sacrifice to all who would leave their sin and follow the Lord Jesus. With many tears he added his own personal testimony to his official statement. He could truly say, “I have repented, and I do repent”; and he could add, “but I believe in Jesus Christ as my Saviour; I am resting upon the one foundation, only trusting in the Crucified.” His official testimony, with its solemnity, and his personal testimony, with its passionate earnestness, made up a very weighty witness-bearing on the behalf of these two points — repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Beloved friends, we cannot at this time do without either of these any more than the Greeks and Jews could. They are essential for salvation. Some things may be, but these must be. Certain things are necessary for the well-being of a Christian, but these things are essential for the very being of a Christian. If you do not have repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, you have no part nor lot in this matter. Repentance and faith must go together to complete each other. I compare them to a door and its post. Repentance is the door which shuts out sin, but faith is the post upon which its hinges are fixed. A door without a door-post to hang on is not a door at all; while a door-post without the door hinged to it is of no value whatever. What God has joined together let no man put asunder; and these two he has made inseparable — repentance and faith. I desire to preach in such a way that you shall see and feel that repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ are the two things which you must have; but even then I fail, unless you obtain them. May the Holy Spirit plant both these precious things in our hearts; and if they are already planted there, may he nourish them and bring them to much greater perfection.

4. I. Let me observe, in the first place, that THERE IS A REPENTANCE WHICH IS NOT TOWARDS GOD. Discriminate this morning. Paul did not merely preach repentance, but repentance towards God; and there is a repentance which is fatally faulty, because it is not towards God.

5. In some there is a repentance of sin which is produced by a sense of shame. The evildoers are found out, and indignant words are spoken about them: they are ashamed, and so far they are repentant, because they have dishonoured themselves. If they had not been found out, in all probability they would have continued comfortably in the sin, and even have gone further on in it. They are grieved at having been discovered; and they are sorry, very sorry, because they are judged and condemned by their fellows. It is not the evil which troubles them, but the dragging of it to light. It is said that among Orientals it is not considered wrong to lie, but it is considered a very great fault to lie so blunderingly as to be caught at it. Many who profess regret for having done wrong are not sorry for the sin itself, but they are affected by the opinion of their fellow men, and by the remarks that are made concerning their offence, and so they hang their heads. Truly, it is something in their favour that they can blush; it is a mercy that they have so much sense left as to be afraid of the observation of their fellows; for some have lost even this sense of shame. But shame is not evangelical repentance; and a man may go to hell with a blush on his face as surely as if he had the brazen forehead of a shameless woman. Do not mistaken a little natural fluttering of the heart and blushing of the face, on account of being found out in sin, for true repentance.

6. Some, again, have a repentance which consists in grief because of the painful consequences of sin. The man has been a spendthrift, a gambler, a profligate, and his money is gone; and now he repents that he has played the fool. Another has been indulging the passions of his corrupt nature, and he finds himself suffering for it, and therefore he repents of his wickedness. There are many cases that I need not enumerate here, in which sin comes home very quickly to men. Certain sins bear fruit speedily: their harvest is reaped soon after the seed is sown. Then a man says he is sorry, and he gives up the sin for a time; not because he dislikes it, but because he sees that it is ruining him: just as sailors in a storm cast overboard the cargo of the ship, not because they are weary of it, but because the vessel will go to the bottom if they retain it. This is regret for consequences, not sorrow for sin. Ah, look at the drunkard, how penitent he is in the morning! “Who has woe? Who has redness of the eyes?” But he will get a hair of the dog’s tail that bit him, he will be at his cups again before long. He repents of the headache, and not of the drink. The dog will return to his vomit. There is no repentance which only consists of being sorry because one is smarting under the consequences of sin. Every murderer regrets his crime when he hears the hammers going that knock the scaffold together for his hanging. This is not the repentance which the Spirit of God works in a soul; it is only such a repentance as a dog may have when he has stolen food, and is whipped for his pains. It is repentance of so low a kind that it can never be acceptable in the sight of God.

7. Some, again, exhibit a repentance which consists entirely of horror at the future punishment of sin. This fear is healthy in many ways, and we can by no means dispense with it. I do not wonder that a man who has lived a liar, a forger, and a perjurer, should, in the hour of his discovery, put an end to his life. If he accepts modern theology, he has escaped, by this means, from the hand of justice: the little pretence of punishment which deceivers predict for the next world no man need be afraid to risk rather than subject himself to a felon’s fate. According to current teaching, it will be all the same with all men in the long run, for there is to be a universal restitution; and therefore the suicide only rationally leaps from pursuit and punishment into a state where all will be made happy for him eventually, even if he does not find it altogether heaven at first. He escapes from punishment in this life, and whatever inconvenience there may be for him in the next life he will soon get over it, for it is said to be so trivial that those who keep to scriptural lines, and speak the dread truth revealed in it, are barbarians or fools. Many men do, no doubt, repent truly through being aroused by fear of death, and judgment, and the wrath to come. But if this fear goes no further than a selfish desire to escape punishment, no reliance can be placed on its moral effect. If they could be assured that no punishment would follow, such people would continue in sin, and not only be content to live in it, but be delighted to have it so. Beloved, true repentance is sorrow for the sin itself: it has not only a dread of the death which is the wages of sin, but of the sin which earns the wages. If you have no repentance for the sin itself, it is in vain that you should stand and tremble because of judgment to come. If judgment to come drives you, by its terrors, to escape from sin, you will have to bless God that you ever heard of those terrors, and that there were men found honest enough to speak plainly about them; but, I urge you, do not be satisfied with the mere fear of punishment, for it is of little worth. You must lament the evil itself, and your daily cry must be, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”

8. Another kind of repentance may be rather better than any we have spoken of, but still it is not repentance towards God. It is a very good counterfeit; but it is not the genuine article. I refer to a sense of the unworthiness of a bad life. I have known people, upon a review of their past, rise above the grovelling level of absolute carelessness, and they have begun to enjoy some apprehension of the beauty of virtue, the nobleness of usefulness, and the baseness of a life of selfish pleasure. A few of those who have no spiritual life, have, nevertheless, keen moral perceptions, and they are repentant when they see that they have lost the opportunity of distinguishing themselves by noble lives. They regret that their story will never be quoted among the examples of good men, who have left “footprints on the sands of time.” Musing upon their position in reference to society and history, they wish that they could blot out the past, and write more worthy lines on the page of life. Now, this is hopeful; but it is not sufficient. We are glad when men are under influences which promise amendment; but if a man stops at a mere apprehension of the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice, what is there in it? This is not repentance towards God; it may not be repentance at all in any practical sense. Men have been known to practise the vices they denounced, and avoid the virtues they admired; human sentiment does not have enough force to break the fetters of evil. Repentance towards God is the only thing which can effectively cut the cable which holds a man to the fatal shores of evil.

9. Once more, there is a repentance which is partial. Men sometimes wake up to the notice of certain great blots in their lives. They cannot forget that black night: they dare not tell what was done then. They cannot forget the villainous act which ruined another, nor that base lie which blasted a reputation. They recall the hour when the inward fires of passion, like those of a volcano, poured the lava of sin all down their lives. At the remembrance of one gross iniquity, they feel a measure of regret when their better selves are to the forefront. But repentance towards God is repentance of sin as sin, and of rebellion against law as rebellion against God. The man who only repents of this and that glaring offence, has not repented of sin at all. I remember the story of Thomas Olivers, the famous cobbler convert, who was a loose-living man until he was renewed by grace through the preaching of Mr. Wesley, and became a mighty preacher, and the author of that glorious hymn, “The God of Abraham Praise.” This man, before conversion, was much in the habit of contracting debts, but could not be brought to pay them. When he received grace, he was convicted that he had no right to remain in debt. He says, “I felt as great sorrow and confusion as if I had stolen every sum I owed.” Now, he was not repentant for this one debt, or that other debt, but for being in debt at all, and, therefore, having a little coming to him from the estate of a relative, he bought a horse, and rode from town to town, paying everyone to whom he was indebted. Before he had finished his pilgrimage, he had paid seventy debts, principal and interest, and had been compelled to sell his horse, saddle, and bridle, to do it. During this eventful journey he rode many miles to pay a single sixpence: it was only a sixpence, but the principle was the same, whether the debt was sixpence or a hundred pounds. Now, just as he who hates debt will try to clear himself of every sixpence, so he who repents of sin, repents of it in every form. No sin is spared by the true penitent. He abhors all sin. Brethren, we must not imitate Saul, who spared Agag and the best of the sheep. He had been told to destroy all, but he wanted to spare some. Agag must be hewn in pieces, and the least objectionable of sin, if such there is, must be at once destroyed. Grace spares no sin. “Oh,” says one man, “I can give up every sin except one pleasure. This I reserve: is it not a little one?” No, no; in the name of truth and sincerity, make no reserve. Repentance is a broom which sweeps the house from attic to cellar. Though no man is free from the commission of sin, yet every converted man is free from the love of sin. Every renewed heart is anxious to be free from even a speck of evil. When sin’s power is felt within, we do not welcome it, but we cry out against it, as Paul did when he said, “Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” We cannot bear sin: when it is near us, we feel like a wretch chained to a rotting carcass; we groan to be free from the hateful thing. Yes, repentance vows that the enemy shall be turned out, bag and baggage; and neither Sanballat, nor any of his trumpery, shall have a room or a closet within the heart which has become the temple of God.

10. II. I have said enough to show that there is a repentance which is not towards God; and now, secondly, let us observe that EVANGELICAL REPENTANCE IS REPENTANCE TOWARDS GOD.

11. Lay stress on the words, “towards God.” True repentance looks towards God. When the prodigal son went back to his home, he did not say, “I will arise, and go to my brother; for I have grieved my brother by leaving him to serve alone.” Neither did he say, “I will arise and go to the servants, for they were very kind to me. The dear old nurse who brought me up is broken-hearted by my conduct.” “No,” he said, “I will arise and go to my Father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son.’ ” So our Lord’s picture of a returning sinner is drawn in very clear colours, as a return to the Father, a repentance towards God. You are bound to make humble apology and ample compensation to everyone you have wronged; you are bound to make every acknowledgment and confession to all whom you have slandered or misrepresented: this is right and just, and must not be forgotten. Still, the essence of your repentance must be “towards God”; for the essence of your wrong is towards God. I will endeavour to show you this. A boy is rebellious against his father. The father has told him such a thing is to be done, and he determines that he will not do it. His father has forbidden him certain things, and he therefore defiantly does them. His father is much grieved, talks with him, and endeavours to bring him to repentance. Suppose the boy were to reply, “Father, I feel sorry for what I have done, because it has vexed my brother.” Such a speech would be impertinence, and not penitence. Suppose he said, “Father, I will also confess that I am sorry for what I have done, because it has deprived me of a good deal of pleasure.” That also would be a selfish and impudent speech, and show great contempt for his father’s authority. Before he can be forgiven and restored to favour, he must confess the wrong done in disobeying his father’s law. He must lament that he has broken the rule of the household; and he must promise to do so no more. There can be no restoration of that child to his proper place in the family until he has said, “Father, I have sinned.” He is stubborn, proud, and rebellious until he comes to that point. All the repentance that he feels about the matter which does not go towards his father, misses the mark: in fact, it may even be an impudent aggravation of his rebellion against his father’s rule that he is willing to admit his wrong towards others, but will not confess the wrong he has done to the one chiefly concerned.

12. Oh sinner, you must repent before God, or you do not repent at all; for here is the essence of repentance. The man repenting sees that he has neglected God. Even though I have never been a thief nor an adulterer; yet God made me, and I am his creature, and if throughout twenty, thirty, or forty years I have never served him, I have all that while robbed him of what he had a right to expect from me. Did God make you, and has he kept the breath in your nostrils, and has he kindly supplied your needs until now, and all these years has he had nothing from you? Would you have kept a horse or a cow all this time, and have had nothing from it? Would you keep a dog if it had never fawned upon you? never noticed your call? Yet all these years God has so preserved you in being, and blessed you with great mercies, and you have made no response. Hear how the Lord cries, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me!” This is the place where the sin lies.

13. Further than that, the true penitent sees that he has misrepresented God. When he has suffered a little affliction, he has thought God was cruel and unjust. The heathen misrepresent God by worshipping idols: we misrepresent God by our murmurings, our complainings, and our thought that there is pleasure in sin, and weariness in the divine service. Have you not spoken of God as if he were the reason for your misery, when you have brought it all upon yourself? You talk about him as if he were unjust, when it is you who are unjust and evil.

14. The penitent man sees that the greatest offence of all his offences is that he has offended God. Many of you think nothing of merely offending God: you think much more of offending man. If I call you “sinners” you do not repel the charge; but if I called you “criminals” you would rise in indignation, and deny the accusation. A criminal, in the usual sense of the term, is one who has offended his fellow man: a sinner is one who has wronged his God. You do not mind being called sinners, because you think little of grieving God; but to be called criminals, or offenders against the laws of man, annoys you; for you think far more of man than of God. Yet, in honest judgment, it would be better, infinitely better, to break every human law, if this could be done without breaking the divine law, than to disobey the least of the commands of God. Do you not know, oh man, that you have lived in rebellion against God? You have done the things he tells you not to do, and you have left undone the things which he commands you to do. This is what you have to feel and to confess with sorrow; and without this there can be no repentance.

15. Near the vital heart of repentance, right in its core, is a sense of the baseness of our conduct towards God. Especially our ingratitude to him, after all his favour and mercy. It is this that troubles the truly penitent heart most: that God should love so much, and should have such a wretched return. Ingratitude, the worst of evils, makes sin extremely sinful. Sorrow for having so badly treated the Lord is a spiritual grace. A tear of such repentance is a diamond of the first water, precious in the sight of the Lord.

16. True repentance is also towards God in this respect, that it judges itself by God. We do not repent because we are not so good as a friend whom we admire, but because we are not holy as the Lord. God’s perfect law is the transcript of his own perfect character, and sin is any lack of conformity to the law and to the character of God. Judge yourselves by your fellow men, and you may be self-content; but measure yourselves by the perfect holiness of the Lord God, and oh, how you must despise yourself! There is no deep repentance until our standard is the standard of perfect rectitude, until our judgment of self is formed by a comparison with the divine character. When we behold the perfection of the thrice-holy Jehovah, and then look at ourselves, we cry with Job, “My eyes see you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

17. To sum up: evangelical repentance is repentance of sin as sin: not of this sin nor of that, but of the whole mass. We repent of the sin of our nature as well as of the sin of our practice. We bemoan sin inside us and outside of us. We repent of sin itself as being an insult to God. Anything short of this is a mere surface repentance, and not a repentance which reaches to the bottom of the mischief. Repentance of the evil act, and not of the evil heart, is like men pumping water out of a leaky ship, but forgetting to plug the leak. Some would dam up the stream, but leave the fountain still flowing; they would remove the eruption from the skin, but leave the disease in the flesh. All that is done by way of amendment without a bemoaning of sin because of its being rebellion against God will fall short of the mark. When you repent of sin as against God, you have laid the axe at the root of the tree. He who repents of sin as sin against God, is no longer sporting with the evil, but has come to stern business with it; now he will be led to change his life, and to be a new man: now, also, he will be driven to cry to God for mercy, and as a result he will be drawn to trust in Jesus. He will now feel that he cannot help himself, and he will look to the strong for strength. I can help myself towards my fellow man, and I can improve myself up to his standard; but I cannot help myself towards God, and cannot wash myself clean before his eye; therefore I flee to him to purge me with hyssop, and make me whiter than snow. Oh gracious Spirit, turn our eyes towards God, and then fill them with penitential tears.

18. III. Thirdly, I am going to throw in a bit of my own. I confess that it does not rise to the glorious fulness of the text, but I use it as a stepping-stone for feeble footsteps. So I apologize as I say — THOSE WHO HAVE EVANGELICAL REPENTANCE ARE PERMITTED TO BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST.

19. Paul says that he testified of “repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ”; and, therefore, where there is repentance, faith is allowable. Oh penitent sinner, you may believe in the Saviour! While you are labouring under your present sense of guilt, while you are loathing and abhorring yourself, while you are burdened and heavy laden with fears, while you are crushed with sorrow as you lie before the Lord, you may now trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Before you have any quiet of conscience, before any relief comes to your heart, before hope shines in your spirit; now in your direct distress, when you are ready to perish, you may at once exercise faith in him who came to seek and to save those who were lost. There is no law against faith. No decree of heaven forbids a sinner to believe and live.

20. You may pluck up courage to believe when you remember this — first, that though you have offended God (and this is the great point that troubles you) that God, whom you have offended, has himself provided an atonement. The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ is practically a substitution presented by God himself. The offended dies to set the offender free. God himself suffers the penalty of his law, that he may justly forgive; and that, though Judge of all, he may yet righteously exercise his fatherly love in the putting away of sin. When you are looking to God with tears in your eyes, remember it is the same God who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this offended God, “so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

21. Remember, also, that this atonement was presented for the guilty: in fact, there could be no atonement where there was no guilt. It would be superfluous to make expiation where there had been no fault. For man, as a sinner, Christ died. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” I urge you, then, the more deeply you feel your sinnership, the more clearly you perceive that the sacrifice of Calvary was for you. For sinners the cross was lifted high, and for sinners the eternal Son of God poured out his soul to death. Oh that my hearers, who mourn over sin, could see this, and rejoice in the divine method of putting sin out of the way!

22. But, remember, you must, with your repentance, come to God with faith in his dear Son. I have said that you may do so; but I apologize for saying so, for it is only half the truth. God commands you to believe. The same God who says, “You shall not steal,” is that God who says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” This is his commandment, that you believe in Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. Faith is not left to your option, you are commanded to accept the witness of God. “Believe and live,” has all the force of a divine statute. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Therefore, if you are already a rebel, do not go on rebelling by refusing to believe in the Lord’s own testimony.

23. Remember that there can be no reconciliation made between you and God unless you believe in Jesus Christ, whom he has given as a Saviour, and commissioned to that end. Not believing in Jesus is criticizing God’s way of salvation and quarrelling with his message of love. Will you do this? You have done enough wrong by fighting against Jehovah’s law, are you going to fight against his gospel? Without faith it is impossible to please him; will you continue to displease him? Not believing in Christ is on your part casting a new dishonour upon God, and so it is a perseverance in rebellion of the most aggravated form. By refusing his unspeakable gift, you do, as it were, put your finger into the very eye of God. To refuse the Son is to blaspheme the Father. “He who does not believe God has made him a liar; because he does not believe the record that God gave concerning his Son.” Come, poor soul, be encouraged. Clearly, if you have repentance towards God, you are allowed to believe in Jesus. Upon the drops of your repentance the sun of mercy is shining; what a rainbow of hope is made by this!

24. Do not hesitate. You would gladly be washed, for you mourn your defilement; over there is the cleansing fount! You are pained with the malady of sin; there stands the healing Saviour, cast yourself at his feet! No embargo is laid upon your believing. God has not even in secret said to you, “Seek my face in vain.” Come, I urge you, and do not fear.

25. We testify to you “repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” But that faith must be towards the Lord Jesus Christ. You must look to Jesus, to the substitute, to the sacrifice, to the mediator, to the Son of God. “No man comes to the Father,” says Jesus, “but by me.” No faith in God will save the sinner except it is faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. To attempt to come to God without the appointed Mediator, is again to insult him by refusing his method of reconciliation. Do not do so, but let your repentance towards God be accompanied with faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; you are warranted in believing like this.

26. IV. And now I come to my last point. Oh that I might be helped by the Holy Spirit! Here I come back to the text, and get on firm ground. EVANGELICAL REPENTANCE IS LINKED TO FAITH, AND FAITH IS LINKED TO REPENTANCE. We testify not only of repentance towards God, but also of faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

27. Repentance and faith are born from the same Spirit of God. I do not know which comes first; but I fall back on my well-worn image of a wheel — when the cart starts, which spoke of the wheel moves first? I do not know. Repentance and faith come together. Perhaps I may say that repentance is like Leah, for it is “tender-eyed”; and faith is like Rachel, fairer to look upon. But you cannot take Rachel for yourself unless you will have Leah also; for it is according to the rule of the gospel that it should be so. The Old Testament, with its law of repentance, must be bound up in one volume with the New Testament of the gospel of faith. These two, like Naomi and Ruth, say to each other, “Where you live I will live.” There are two stars called the Gemini, which are always together: faith and repentance are the Twins of the spiritual heavens. What if I compare them to the two valves of the heart? They must be both in action, or the soul cannot live. They are born together, and they must live together.

28. Repentance is the result of an unperceived faith. When a man repents of sin, he inwardly believes, in a measure, although he may not think so. There is such a thing as latent faith: although it yields the man no conscious comfort, it may be doing something even better for him; for it may be working in him truthfulness of heart, purity of spirit, and abhorrence of evil. No true repentance is quite apart from faith. The solid of faith is held in solution in the liquid of repentance. It is clear that no man can repent towards God unless he believes in God. He could never feel grief at having offended God, if he did not believe that God is good. To the dark cloud of repentance there is a silver lining of faith; yet, at the first, the awakened soul does not know this, and therefore laments that he cannot believe; whereas, his very repentance is based on a measure of faith.

29. Repentance is also greatly increased as faith grows. I fear that some people imagine that they repented when they were first converted, and that, therefore, they are finished with repentance. But it is not so: the higher the faith, the deeper the repentance. The saint most ready for heaven is the most aware of his own shortcomings. As long as we are here, and grace is an active exercise, our consciousness of our unworthiness will grow on us. When you have grown too big for repentance, depend on it you have grown too proud for faith. Those who say they have ceased to repent confess that they have departed from Christ. Repentance and faith will each grow as the other grows: the more you know the weight of sin, the more you will lean on Jesus, and the more you will know his power to uphold. When repentance measures a cubit, faith will measure a cubit also.

30. Repentance also increases faith. Beloved, we never believe in Christ to the full until we get a clear view of our need of him; and that is the fruit of repentance. When we hate sin more we shall love Christ more, and trust him more. The more self sinks, the more Christ rises: like the two scales of a balance, one must go down so that the other may go up: self must sink in repentance so that Christ may rise by faith.

31. Moreover, repentance salts faith and sweetens it, and faith does the same to repentance. Faith, if there could be true faith without repentance, would be like the flowers without the dew, like the sunshine without shade, and like hills without valleys. If faith is the cluster, repentance is the juice of the grape. Faith is dry, like the fleece on the threshing-floor, receptive and retentive; but when heaven visits it with fulness, it drips with repentance. If a man professes faith, and has no sense of personal unworthiness, and no grief for sin, he becomes a man of the letter, sound in the head, and very apt to prove his doctrine orthodox by apostolic blows and knocks. But when you add to this the mollifying effects of true repentance, he becomes lowly, and humble, and easy to be entreated. When a man repents as much as he believes, he is as patient in his own quarrel as he is valiant in “the quarrel of the covenant.” He holds his own sinnership as firmly as he holds the Lord’s Saviourship, and he frequents the Valley of Humiliation as much as the hills of Assurance.

32. If there could be such a thing as a man who was a believer without repentance, he would be much too big for his boots, and there would be no tolerating him. If he were always saying, “Yes, I know I am saved; I have a full assurance that I am saved”; and yet had no sense of personal sin, how loudly would he crow! But, oh dear friends, while we mourn our sins, we are not puffed up by the privileges which faith receives. An old Puritan says, that when a saint is made beautiful with rich graces, as the peacock with many-coloured feathers, let him not be vain, but let him remember the black feet of his inbred sin, and the harsh voice of his many shortcomings. Repentance will never allow faith to strut, even if it had a mind to do so. Faith cheers repentance, and repentance sobers faith. The two go well together. Faith looks to the throne, and repentance loves the cross. When faith looks most rightly to the Second Advent, repentance forbids its forgetting the First Advent. When faith is tempted to climb into presumption, repentance calls it back to sit at Jesus’ feet. Never try to separate these dear companions, which minister more sweetly to each other than I have time to tell. That conversion which is all joy and lacks sorrow for sin, is very questionable. I will not believe in that faith which has no repentance with it, any more than I would believe in that repentance which left a man without faith in Jesus. Like the two cherubs who stood gazing down upon the mercy seat, so stand these two inseparable graces, and no one must dare to remove the one or the other.

33. I am almost finished; but the thought strikes me, “Will these good people go home, and remember about repentance and faith? Have I so talked that they will think of me rather than of the points in hand?” I hope it is not so. I urge you, throw away all that I may have said apart from the subject; cast it off as so much chaff, and keep only the wheat. Remember, “repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let each one ask himself, “Do I have a repentance which leads to faith? Do I have a faith which joins hands with repentance?” This is the way to weave an ark of bulrushes for your infant assurance: twist these two together, repentance and faith. Yet trust neither repentance nor faith; but repent towards God, and have faith towards the Lord Jesus. Take care to do this; for there is a sad aptitude in many hearers to forget the essential point, and think of our stories and illustrations rather than of the practical duty which we would enforce. A famous minister, who has long ago gone home, was once taken ill, and his wife requested that he go and consult an eminent physician. He went to this physician, who welcomed him very heartily. “I am very glad to see you, sir,” he said; “I have heard you preach, and have been greatly profited by you, and therefore I have often wished to have half-an-hour’s chat with you. If I can do anything for you, I am sure I will.” The minister stated his case. The doctor said, “Oh, it is a very simple matter; you only have to take such and such a drug, and you will soon be right.” The patient was about to go, thinking that he must not occupy the physician’s time; but he pressed him to stay, and they entered into pleasant conversation. The minister went home to his wife, and told her with joy what a delightful man the doctor had proved to be. He said, “I do not know that I ever had a more delightful talk. The good man is eloquent, and witty, and gracious.” The wife replied, “But what remedy did he prescribe?” “Dear!” said the minister, “I quite forget what he told me on that point.” “What!” she said, “did you go to a physician for advice, and have you come away without a remedy?” “It quite slipped my mind,” he said: “the doctor talked so pleasantly that his prescription has quite gone out of my head.” Now, if I have talked to you so that this will happen, I shall be very sorry. Come, let my last word be a repetition of the gospel remedy for sin. Here it is. Trust in the precious blood of Christ, and make full confession of your sin, heartily forsaking it. You must receive Christ by faith, and you must loathe every evil way. Repentance and faith must look to the water and the blood from the side of Jesus for cleansing from the power and guilt of sin. Pray God that you may, by both these priceless graces, receive at once the merit of your Saviour to eternal salvation. Amen.

[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ac 20:17-27 Ps 51]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 34” 34 @@ "(Version 1)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Sin Wounding Jesus” 579}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 51” 51 @@ "(Version 2)"}
The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for March, 1889.
Special Pleading with the Specially Feeble. By C. H. Spurgeon.
Glow-worms.
The True Apostolical Succession.
A Visit to Foreign Prisons.
Samuel Morley, the Merchant Philanthropist.
“By Dilution.”
Central Africa and our Mission Stations.
Who shall Keep the Keepers!
Little Mary the Martyr.
Students of the Pastor’s College and their Work.
A View in Old Mentone.
Questions for “Down-Grade” Doubters.
Notices of Books.
Notes.
Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Stockwell Orphanage.
Colportage Association.
Society of Evangelists.
For General Use in the Lord’s Work.

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


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 34 (Version 1)
1 Through all the changing scenes of life,
   In trouble and in joy,
   The praises of my God shall still
   My heart and tongue employ.
2 Of his deliverance I will boast,
   Till all that are distress’d
   From my example comfort take,
   And charm their griefs to rest.
3 Come magnify the lord with me;
   With me exalt his name;
   When in distress to him I call’d
   He to my rescue came.
4 Oh make but trial of his love;
   Experience will decide
   How blest are they, and only they,
   Who in his truth confide!
5 Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
   Have nothing else to fear;
   Make you his service your delight,
   He’ll make your wants his care.
                     Tate and Brady, 1696.


Psalm 34 (Version 2)
1 Lord, I will bless thee all my days,
   Thy praise shall dwell upon my tongue
   My soul shall glory in thy grace,
   While saints rejoice to hear the song.
2 Come, magnify the Lord with me;
   Come, let us all exalt his name:
   I sought the eternal God, and he
   Has not exposed my hope to shame.
3 I told him all my secret grief,
   My secret groaning reach’d his ears;
   He gave my inward pains relief,
   And calm’d the tumult of my fears.
4 To him the poor lift up their eyes,
   Their faces feel the heavenly shine;
   A beam of mercy from the skies
   Fills them with light and joy divine.
5 His holy angels pitch their tents
   Around the men that serve the Lord;
   Oh hear and love him, all his saints;
   Taste of his grace, and trust his word.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


The Christian, Contrite Cries
579 — Sin Wounding Jesus <7.6.>
1 My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
      How sad on thee they fall,
   Seen though thy gentle patience,
      I tenfold feel them all.
2 I know they are forgiven,
      But still their pain to me
   Is all the grief and anguish
      They laid, my Lord, on thee.
3 My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
      Their guilt I never knew
   Till, with thee, in the desert
      I near thy passion drew;
4 Till with thee in the garden
      I heard thy pleading prayer,
   And saw the sweet drops bloody
      That told thy sorrow there.
                  John S. B. Monsell, 1863.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 51 (Version 1)
1 Show pity, Lord; oh Lord, forgive;
   Let a repenting rebel live:
   Are not thy mercies large and free?
   May not a sinner trust in thee?
2 My crimes are great, but don’t surpass
   The power and glory of thy grace:
   Great God, thy nature hath no bound,
   So let thy pardoning love be found.
3 Oh wash my soul from every sin,
   And make my guilty conscience clean;
   Here, on my heart, the burden lies,
   And past offences pain my eyes.
4 My lips, with shame, my sins confess
   Against thy law, against thy grace:
   Lord, should thy judgment grow severe,
   I am condemn’d, but thou art clear.
5 Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
   I must pronounce thee just in death;
   And, if my soul were sent to hell,
   Thy righteous law approves it well.
6 Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord;
   Whose hope, still hovering round thy word,
   Would light on some sweet promise there,
   Some sure support against despair.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 51 (Version 2)
1 Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin,
   And born unholy and unclean;
   Sprung from the man whose guilty fall
   Corrupts the race, and taints us all.
2 Soon as we draw our infant breath,
   The sees of sin grow up for death;
   Thy law demands a perfect heart,
   But we’re defiled in every part.
3 Behold I fall before thy face,
   My only refuge is thy grace;
   No outward forms can make me clean;
   The leprosy lies deep within.
4 No bleeding bird, nor bleeding beast,
   Nor hyssop branch, nor sprinkling priest,
   Nor running brook, nor flood nor sea,
   Can wash the dismal stain away.
5 Jesus, my God! thy blood alone
   Hath power sufficient to atone;
   Thy blood can make me white as snow;
   No Jewish types could cleanse me so.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 51 (Version 3)
1 Oh thou that hear’st when sinners cry,
   Though all my crimes before thee lie,
   Behold them not with angry look,
   But blot their memory from thy book.
2 Create my nature pure within,
   And form my soul averse to sin;
   Let thy good Spirit ne’er depart,
   Nor hide thy presence from by heart.
3 Though I have grieved thy Spirit, Lord,
   His help and comfort still afford;
   And let a wretch come near thy throne,
   To plead the merits of thy Son.
4 A broken heart, my God, my King,
   Is all the sacrifice I bring;
   The God of grace will ne’er despise
   A broken heart for sacrifice.
5 My soul lies humbled in the dust,
   And owns thy dreadful sentence just;
   Look down, oh Lord, with pitying eye,
   And save the soul condemn’d to die.
6 Then will I teach the world thy ways;
   Sinners shall learn thy sovereign grace;
   I’ll lead them to my Saviour’s blood,
   And they shall praise a pardoning God.
7 Oh may thy love inspire my tongue;
   Salvation shall be all my song;
   And all my powers shall join to bless
   The Lord, my strength and righteousness.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 51 (Version 4)
1 Oh God of mercy, hear my call,
   My load of guilt remove;
   Break down this separating wall
   That bars me from thy love.
2 Give me the presence of thy grace:
   Then my rejoicing tongue
   Shall speak aloud thy righteousness,
   And make thy praise my song.
3 No blood of goats, nor heifer slain,
   For sin could e’er atone:
   The death of Christ shall still remain
   Sufficient and alone.
4 A soul oppress’d with sin’s desert,
   My God will ne’er despise!
   A humble groan, a broken heart,
   Is our best sacrifice.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

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.

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