A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, December 5, 1858, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
Compel them to come in. (Luke 14:23)
1. I feel such a compulsion to go out and obey this commandment this morning, by compelling those to come in who are now loitering in the highways and hedges, that I cannot wait for an introduction, but must at once set about my business.
2. Hear then, oh you who are strangers to the truth as it is in Jesus—hear then the message that I have to bring to you. You have fallen, fallen in your father Adam; you have fallen also in yourselves, by your daily sin and your constant iniquity; you have provoked the anger of the Most High; and as assuredly as you have sinned, so certainly must God punish you if you persevere in your iniquity, for the Lord is a God of justice, and will by no means clear the guilty. But have you not heard, has it not long been spoken in your ears, that God, in his infinite mercy, has devised a way by which, without any infringement upon his honour, he can have mercy upon you, the guilty and the undeserving? To you I speak; and my voice is to you, oh sons of men; Jesus Christ, very God of very God, has descended from heaven, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. Begotten by the Holy Spirit, he was born by the Virgin Mary; he lived in this world a life of exemplary holiness, and of the deepest suffering, until at last he gave himself up to die for our sins, “the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” And now the plan of salvation is simply declared to you—“Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.” For you who have violated all the precepts of God, and have disdained his mercy and dared his vengeance, there is yet mercy proclaimed, for “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “For this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief;” “whoever comes to him he will in no wise cast out, for he is able also to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him, seeing he lives for ever to make intercession for us.” Now all that God asks of you—and this he gives to you—is that you will simply look at his bleeding dying Son, and trust your souls in the hands of him whose name alone can save from death and hell. Is it not a marvellous thing, that the proclamation of this gospel does not receive the unanimous consent of men? One would think that as soon as it was preached that, “Whoever believes shall have eternal life,” each of you, “casting away his sins and his iniquities,” would lay hold on Jesus Christ, and look to his cross alone. But alas! such is the desperate evil of our nature, such is the pernicious depravity of our character, that this message is despised, the invitation to the gospel feast is rejected, and there are many of you who are to this day enemies of God by wicked works, enemies of the God who preaches Christ to you today, enemies of him who sent his Son to give his life a ransom for many. Strange to say that it should be so, yet nevertheless it is the fact, and hence the necessity for the command of the text,—“Compel them to come in.”
3. Children of God, you who have believed, I shall have little or nothing to say to you this morning; I am going straight to my business—I am going after those who will not come—those that are in the byways and hedges, and God going with me, it is my duty now to fulfil this command, “Compel them to come in.”
4. First, I must, find you; secondly, I will go to work to compel you to come in.
5. I. First, I must FIND YOU. If you read the verses that precede the text, you will find an amplification of this command: “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind;” and then, afterwards, “Go out into the highways,” bring in the vagrants, the thieves, “and into the hedges,” bring in those that have no restingplace for their heads, and are lying under the hedges to rest, bring them in also, and “compel them to come in.” Yes, I see you this morning, you who are poor. I am to compel you to come in. You are poor in circumstances, but this is no barrier to the kingdom of heaven, for God has not exempted from his grace the man who shivers in rags, and who is destitute of food. In fact, if there is any distinction made, the distinction is on your side, and for your benefit—“To you is the word of salvation sent;” “For the poor have the gospel preached to them.” But I must especially speak to you who are poor spiritually. You have no faith, you have no virtue, you have no good work, you have no grace, and what is worse than poverty, you have no hope. Ah, my Master has sent you a gracious invitation. Come and welcome to the marriage feast of his love. “Whoever will, let him come and partake of the waters of life freely.” Come, I must lay hold upon you, though you are defiled with foulest filth, and though you have nothing but rags upon your back, though your own righteousness has become as filthy rags, yet I must lay hold upon you, and invite you first, and even compel you to come in.
6. And now I see you again. You are not only poor, but you are maimed. There was a time when you thought you could work out your own salvation without God’s help, when you could perform good works, attend to ceremonies, and get to heaven by yourselves; but now you are maimed, the sword of the law has cut off your hands, and now you can work no longer; you say, with bitter sorrow—
The best performance of my hands,
Dares not appear before your throne.
You have lost all power now to obey the law; you feel that when you wish to do good, evil is present with you. You are maimed; you have given up, as a forlorn hope, all attempts to save yourself, because you are maimed and your arms are gone. But you are worse off than that, for if you could not work your way to heaven, yet you could walk your way there along the road by faith; but you are maimed in the feet as well as in the hands; you feel that you cannot believe, that you cannot repent, that you cannot obey the stipulations of the gospel. You feel that you are utterly undone, powerless in every respect to do anything that can be pleasing to God. In fact, you are crying out—
Oh, could I only believe,
Then all would easy be,
I would, but cannot, Lord relieve,
My help must come from thee.
I am sent also to you. Before you I am to lift up the bloodstained banner of the cross, I am to preach this gospel to you, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved;” and I am to cry to you, “Whoever will, let him come and partake of the water of life freely.”
7. There is yet another class. You are halt. You are halting between two opinions. You are sometimes seriously inclined, and at another times worldly gaiety calls you away. What little progress you do make in religion is only a limp. You have a little strength, but that is so little that you make only painful progress. Ah, limping brother, to you also the word of this salvation is sent. Though you halt between two opinions, the Master sends me to you with this message: “How long do you halt between two opinions? if God is God, serve him; if Baal is God, serve him.” Consider your ways; set your house in order, for you shall die and not live. Because I will do this, prepare to meet your God, oh Israel! Halt no longer, but decide for God and his truth.
8. And yet I see another class,—the blind. Yes, you who cannot see yourselves, who think of yourselves as being good when you are full of evil, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, darkness for light and light for darkness; to you I am sent. You, blind souls who cannot see your lost estate, who do not believe that sin is so exceedingly sinful as it is, and who will not be persuaded to think that God is a just and righteous God, to you I am sent. To you too who cannot see the Saviour, who see no beauty in him that you should desire him; who see no excellence in virtue, no glories in religion, no happiness in serving God, no delight in being his children; to you, also, I am sent. Indeed, to whom am I not sent if I take my text? For it goes further than this—it not only gives a particular description, so that each individual case may be met, but afterwards it makes a general sweep, and says, “Go into the highways and hedges.” Here we bring in all ranks and conditions of men—my lord upon his horse in the highway, and the woman trudging about her business, the thief waylaying the traveller—all these are on the highway, and they are all to be compelled to come in, and there away in the hedges there lie some poor souls whose refuges of lies are swept away, and who are seeking now to find some little shelter for their weary heads, to you, also, we are sent this morning. This is the universal command—compel them to come in.
9. Now, I pause after having described the character, I pause to look at the herculean labour that lies before me. Well did Melanchthon say, “Old Adam was too strong for young Melanchthon.” As well might a little child seek to compel a Samson, as I seek to lead a sinner to the cross of Christ. And yet my Master sends me on this errand. Lo, I see the great mountain before me of human depravity and stolid indifference, but by faith I cry, “Who are you, oh great mountain? before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain.” Does my Master say, compel them to come in? Then, though the sinner is like Samson and I am like a child, I shall lead him with a thread. If God says do it, if I attempt it in faith it shall be done; and if with a groaning, struggling, and weeping heart, I so seek this day to compel sinners to come to Christ, the sweet compulsions of the Holy Spirit shall go with every word, and some indeed shall be compelled to come in.
10. II. And now to the work—directly to the work. Unconverted, unreconciled, unregenerate men and women, I am to COMPEL YOU TO COME IN. Permit me first of all to accost you in the highways of sin and tell you my errand once more. The King of heaven this morning sends a gracious invitation to you. He says, “As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him who dies, I would rather that he should turn to me and live:” “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are as scarlet they shall be as wool; though they are red like crimson they shall be whiter than snow.” Dear brother, it makes my heart rejoice to think that I should have such good news to tell you, and yet I confess my soul is heavy because I see you do not think it is good news, but turn away from it, and do not give it due regard. Permit me to tell you what the King has done for you. He knew your guilt, he foresaw that you would ruin yourself. He knew that his justice would demand your blood, and in order that this difficulty might be escaped, that his justice might have its full due, and that you might yet be saved, Jesus Christ has died. Will you just for a moment glance at this picture? You see that man there on his knees in the garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood. You see this next: you see that miserable sufferer tied to a pillar and lashed with terrible scourges, until the shoulder bones are seen like white islands in the midst of a sea of blood. Again you see this third picture; it is the same man hanging on the cross with hands extended, and with feet nailed firmly, dying, groaning, bleeding; I thought the picture spoke and said, “It is finished.” Now all this has Jesus Christ of Nazareth done, in order that God might consistently with his justice pardon sin; and the message to you this morning is this—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” That is, trust him, renounce your works, and your ways, and set your heart alone on this man, who gave himself for sinners.
11. Well brother, I have told you the message, what do you say about it? Do you turn away? You tell me it is nothing to you; you cannot listen to it; that you will hear me by and by; but you will go your way this day and attend to your farm and merchandise. Stop brother, I was not told merely to tell you and then go about my business. No; I am told to compel you to come in; and permit me to say to you before I go further, that there is one thing I can say—and to which God is my witness this morning, that I am in earnest with you in my desire that you should comply with this command of God. You may despise your own salvation, but I do not despise it; you may go away and forget what you shall hear, but will you please remember that the things I now say cost me many a groan before I came here to utter them. My inmost soul is speaking out to you, my poor brother, when I beseech you by him who lives and was dead, and is alive for evermore, consider my Master’s message which he bids me now to address to you.
12. But do you spurn it? Do you still refuse it? Then I must change my tone for a minute. I will not merely tell you the message, and invite you as I do with all earnestness, and sincere affection—I will go further. Sinner, in God’s name I command you to repent and believe. Do you ask me from where my authority comes? I am an ambassador of heaven. My credentials, some of them secret, and in my own heart; and others of them open before you this day in the seals of my ministry, sitting and standing in this hall, where God has given me many souls for my hire. As God the everlasting one has given me a commission to preach his gospel, I command you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; not on my own authority, but on the authority of him who said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;” and then annexed this solemn sanction, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be damned.” Reject my message, and remember “He who despised Moses’s law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God.” An ambassador is not to stand below the man with whom he deals, for we stand higher. If the minister chooses to take his proper rank, girded with the omnipotence of God, and anointed with his holy unction, he is to command men, and speak with all authority compelling them to come in: “command, exhort, rebuke with all longsuffering.”
13. But do you turn away and say you will not be commanded? Then I will change my tone again. If that does not work, all other means shall be tried. My brother, I come to you with simple words, and I exhort you to flee to Christ. Oh my brother, do you know what a loving Christ he is? Let me tell you from my own soul what I know about him. I, too, once despised him. He knocked at the door of my heart and I refused to open it. He came to me, times without number, morning after morning, and night after night; he checked me in my conscience and spoke to me by his Spirit, and when, at last, the thunders of the law prevailed in my conscience, I thought that Christ was cruel and unkind. Oh I can never forgive myself that I should have thought so poorly of him. But what a loving reception did I have when I went to him. I thought he would strike me, but his hand was not clenched in anger but opened wide in mercy. I thought surely that his eyes would dart lightning flashes of wrath upon me; but, instead they were full of tears. He fell upon my neck and kissed me; he took off my rags and clothed me with his righteousness, and caused my soul to sing aloud for joy; while in the house of my heart and in the house of his church there was music and dancing, because his son who he had been lost was found, and he who was dead was made alive. I exhort you, then, to look to Jesus Christ and to be enlightened. Sinner, you will never regret,—I will be bondsman for my Master that you will never regret it,—you will have no sigh to go back to your state of condemnation; you shall go out of Egypt and shall go into the promised land and shall find it flowing with milk and honey. You shall find the trials of the Christian life heavy, but you will find grace will make them light. And as for the joys and delights of being a child of God, if I lie this day you shall charge me with it in days to come. If you will taste and see that the Lord is good, I am not afraid that you shall find that he is not only good, but better than human lips ever can describe.
14. I do not know what arguments to use with you. I appeal to your own self-interests. Oh my poor friend, would it not be better for you to be reconciled to the God of heaven, than to be his enemy? What are you getting by opposing God? Are you the happier for being his enemy? Answer, pleasure seeker; have you found delights in that cup? Answer me, self-righteous man: have you found rest for the sole of your foot in all your works? Oh you who go about to establish your own righteousness, I urge you let your conscience speak. Have you found it to be a happy path? Ah, my friend, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy; listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” I exhort you by everything that is sacred and solemn, everything that is important and eternal, flee for your lives, do not look behind you, do not stay in all the plain, do not stop until you have proven, and found an interest in the blood of Jesus Christ, that blood which cleanses us from all sin. Are you still cold and indifferent? Will not the blind man permit me to lead him to the feast? Will not my maimed brother put his hand upon my shoulder and permit me to assist him to the banquet? Will not the poor man allow me to walk side-by-side with him? Must I use some stronger words? Must I use some other compulsion to compel you to come in? Sinners, this one thing I am resolved this morning, if you are not saved then you shall be without excuse. You, from the grayheaded down to the tender age of childhood, if you this day do not lay hold on Christ, your blood shall be on your own head. If there is power in man to bring his fellowmen, (as there is at the time when man is helped by the Holy Spirit) that power shall be exercised this morning, God helping me. Come, I am not to be put off by your rebuffs; if my exhortation fails, I must try something else. My brother, I ENTREAT you, I entreat you stop and consider. Do you know what it is you are rejecting this morning? You are rejecting Christ, your only Saviour. “Other foundation can no man lay;” “there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.” My brother, I cannot bear that you should do this, for I remember what you are forgetting: the day is coming when you will need a Saviour. It is not long before weary months shall have ended, and your strength begins to decline; your pulse shall fail you, your strength shall depart, and you and the grim monster death, must face each other. What will you do in the swellings of Jordan without a Saviour? Deathbeds are stony things without the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an awful thing to die in any manner; he who has the best hope, and the most triumphant faith, finds that death is not a thing to laugh at. It is a terrible thing to pass from the seen to the unseen, from the mortal to the immortal, from time to eternity, and you will find it hard to go through the iron gates of death without the sweet wings of angels to conduct you to the portals of the skies. It will be a hard thing to die without Christ. I cannot help thinking of you. I see you committing suicide this morning, and I picture myself standing at your bedside and hearing your cries, and knowing that you are dying without hope. I cannot bear that. I think I am standing by your coffin now, and looking into your clay cold face, and saying, “This man despised Christ and neglected the great salvation.” I think what bitter tears I shall weep then, if I think that I have been unfaithful to you, and how those eyes closed fast in death, shall seem to chide me and say, “Minister, I attended the Music Hall, but you were not in earnest with me; you amused me, you preached to me, but you did not plead with me. You did not know what Paul meant when he said, ‘As though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.’”
15. I entreat you let this message enter your heart for another reason. I picture myself standing at the judgment bar of God. As the Lord lives, the day of judgment is coming. Do you believe that? You are not an infidel; your conscience would not permit you to doubt the Scripture. Perhaps you may have pretended to do so, but you cannot. You feel there must be a day when God shall judge the world in righteousness. I see you standing in the midst of that throng, and the eye of God is fixed on you. It seems to you that he is not looking anywhere else, but only upon you, and he summons you before him; and he reads your sins, and he cries, “Depart you cursed into everlasting fire in hell!” My hearer, I cannot bear to think of you in that position; it seems as if every hair on my head must stand on end to think of any hearer of mine being damned. Will you picture yourselves in that position? The word has gone forth, “Depart, you cursed.” Do you see the pit as it opens to swallow you up? Do you listen to the shrieks and the yells of those who have preceded you to that eternal lake of torment? Instead of picturing the scene, I turn to you with the words of the inspired prophet, and I say, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Oh! my brother, I cannot let you dismiss religion like this; no, I think of what is to come after death. I should be destitute of all humanity if I should see a person about to poison himself, and did not dash away the cup; or if I saw another about to jump from London Bridge, if I did not assist in preventing him from doing so; and I would be worse than a fiend if I did not now, with all love, and kindness, and earnestness, beseech you to “lay hold on eternal life,” “not to labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to everlasting life.”
16. Some hyper-Calvinist would tell me I am wrong in so doing. I cannot help it. I must do it. Since I must stand before my Judge at last, I feel that I shall not make full proof of my ministry unless I entreat with many tears that you would be saved, that you would look to Jesus Christ and receive his glorious salvation. But does not this avail? Are all our entreaties lost upon you; do you turn a deaf ear? Then I change my tone again. Sinner, I have pleaded with you as a man pleads with his friend, and for the life of me I could not speak more earnestly this morning than I do speak concerning your life. I felt earnest about my own soul, but not a whit more than I do about the souls of my congregation this morning; and therefore, if you ignore these entreaties I have something else:—I must threaten you. You shall not always have such warnings as these. A day is coming, when hushed shall be the voice of every gospel minister, at least for you; for your ear shall be cold in death. It shall not be any more threatening; it shall be the fulfilment of the threatening. There shall be no promise, no proclamations of pardon and of mercy; no peace speaking blood, but you shall be in the land where the Sabbath is all swallowed up in everlasting nights of misery, and where the preaching of the gospel is forbidden because it would be pointless. I charge you then, listen to this voice that now addresses your conscience; for if not, God shall speak to you in his wrath, and say to you in his hot displeasure, “I called and you refused; I stretched out my hand and no man regarded; therefore I will mock at your calamity; I will laugh when your fear comes.” Sinner, I threaten you again. Remember, it is only a short time you may have to hear these warnings. You imagine that your life will be long, but do you know how short it is? Have you ever tried to think how frail you are? Did you ever see a body when it has been cut in pieces by the anatomist? Did you ever see such a marvellous thing as the human frame?
Strange, a harp of a thousand strings,
Should keep in tune so long.
Let only one of those cords be twisted, let only a mouthful of food go in the wrong direction, and you may die. The slightest chance, as we have it, may send you swiftly to death, when God wills it. Strong men have been killed by the smallest and slightest accident, and so may you. In the chapel, in the house of God, men have dropped down dead. How often do we hear of men falling in our streets—rolling out of time into eternity, by some sudden stroke. And are you sure that your heart is quite sound? Is the blood circulating with all accuracy? Are you quite sure of that? And if it is so, how long shall it be? Oh, perhaps there are some of you here who shall never see Christmas day; it may be the mandate has gone forth already, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” Out of this vast congregation, I might with accuracy tell how many will be dead in a year; but it is certain that all of us shall never meet together again in any one assembly. Some out of this vast crowd, perhaps some two or three, shall depart before the New Year shall be ushered in. I remind you, then, my brother, that either the gate of salvation may be shut, or else you may be left outside the gate of mercy. Come, then, let the threatening have power on you. I do not threaten because I wish to alarm for no good reason, but in hopes that a brother’s threatening may drive you to the place where God has prepared the feast of the gospel. And now, must I turn hopelessly away? Have I exhausted all that I can say? No, I will come to you again. Tell me what it is, my brother, that keeps you from Christ. I hear one say, “Oh, sir, it is because I feel myself too guilty.” That cannot be, my friend, that cannot be. “But, sir, I am the chief of sinners.” Friend, you are not. The chief of sinners died and went to heaven many years ago; his name was Saul of Tarsus, afterwards called Paul the apostle. He was the chief of sinners, I know he spoke the truth. “No,” but you still say, “I am too vile.” You cannot be more vile than the chief of sinners. You must, at least, be second worst sinner. Even supposing you are the worst sinner now alive, you are still the second worst, for he was chief. But suppose you are the worst, is not that the very reason why you should come to Christ? The sicker a man is, the more reason he should go to the hospital or physician. The more poor you are, the more reason you should accept the charity of another. Now, Christ does not want any merits of your’s. He gives freely. The worse you are, the more welcome you are. But let me ask you a question: Do you think you will ever get better by staying away from Christ? If so, you know very little as yet of the way of salvation at all. No, sir, the longer you stay, the worse you will grow; your hope will grow weaker, your despair will become stronger; the nail with which Satan has fastened you down will be more firmly embedded, and you will be less hopeful than ever. Come, I beseech you, remember there is nothing to be gained by delay, but by delay everything may be lost. “But,” cries another, “I feel I cannot believe.” No, my friend, and you never will believe if you look first at your believing. Remember, I am not come to invite you to faith, but am come to invite you to Christ. But you say, “What is the difference?” Why, just this. If you first of all say, “I want to believe a thing,” you never do it. But your first enquiry must be, “What is this thing that I am to believe?” Then faith will come as the consequence of that search. Our first business has nothing to do with faith, but with Christ. Come, I beseech you, on Calvary’s mount, and see the cross. Behold the Son of God, he who made the heavens and the earth, dying for your sins. Look at him, is there not power in him to save? Look at his face so full of pity. Is there not love in his heart to prove him willing to save? Surely sinner, the sight of Christ will help you to believe. Do not believe first, and then go to Christ, or else your faith will be a worthless thing; go to Christ without any faith, and cast yourself upon him, sink or swim. But I hear another cry, “Oh sir, you do not know how often I have been invited, how long I have rejected the Lord.” I do not know, and I do not want to know; all I know is that my Master has sent me, to compel you to come in; so come along now. You may have rejected a thousand invitations; do not make this the thousandth and one. You have been up to the house of God, and you have only been gospel hardened. But do I not see a tear in your eye? Come, my brother, do not be hardened by this morning’s sermon. Oh, Spirit of the living God, come and melt this heart for it has never been melted, and compel him to come in! I cannot let you go on such idle excuses as that; if you have lived so many years slighting Christ, there are so many reasons why you should not slight him now. But did I hear you whisper that this was not a convenient time? Then what must I say to you? When will that convenient time come? Shall it come when you are in hell? Will that time be convenient? Shall it come when you are on your deathbed, and the death rattle is in your throat—shall it come then? Or when the burning sweat is scalding your brow; and then again, when the cold clammy sweat is there, shall those be convenient times? When pains are racking you, and you are on the borders of the tomb? No, sir, this morning is the convenient time. May God make it so. Remember, I have no authority to ask you to come to Christ tomorrow. The Master has given you no invitation to come to him next Tuesday. The invitation is, “Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,” for the Spirit says “Today.” “Come now and let us reason together;” why should you put it off? It may be the last warning you shall ever have. Put it off, and you may never weep again in chapel. You may never have so earnest a sermon addressed to you. You may not be pleaded with as I would plead with you now. You may go away, and God may say, “He is given to idols, let him alone.” He shall throw the reins upon your neck; and then, note—your course is certain, but it is certain damnation and swift destruction.
17. And now again, is it all in vain? Will you not now come to Christ? Then what more can I do? I have only one more method and I shall try that. I can be permitted to weep for you; I can be allowed to pray for you. You shall scorn the address if you like; you shall laugh at the preacher; you shall call him a fanatic if you will; he will not chide you, he will bring no accusation against you to the great Judge. Your offence, as far as he is concerned, is forgiven before it is committed; but you will remember that the message that you are rejecting this morning is a message from one who loves you, and it is given to you also by the lips of one who loves you. You will remember that you may sell your soul to the devil, that you may listlessly think it a matter of no importance; but there lives at least one who is in earnest about your soul, and one who before he came here, wrestled with his God for strength to preach to you, and who, when he has gone from this place, will not forget his hearers of this morning. I say again, when words fail us we can give tears—for words and tears are the arms with which gospel ministers compel men to come in. You do not know, and I suppose could not believe, how anxious a man whom God has called to the ministry feels about his congregation, and especially about some of them. I heard only the other day of a young man who attended here a long time, and his father’s hope was that he would be brought to Christ. He became acquainted, however, with an infidel; and now he neglects his business, and lives in a daily course of sin. I saw his father’s poor sorrowful face; I did not ask him to tell me the story himself, for I felt it was stirring up trouble and opening a sore; I fear, sometimes, that good man’s grey hairs may be brought with sorrow to the grave. Young men, you do not pray for yourselves, but your mothers wrestle for you. You will not think of your own souls, but your father’s anxiety is exercised for you. I have been at prayer meetings, when I have heard children of God pray there, and they could not have prayed with more earnestness and more intensity of anguish if each of them had been seeking their own soul’s salvation. And is it not strange that we should be ready to move heaven and earth for your salvation, and that still you should have no thought for yourselves, no regard for eternal things?
18. Now I turn for one moment to some here. There are some of you here who are members of Christian churches, who make a profession of religion, but unless I am mistaken about you—and I shall be happy if I am—your profession is a lie. You do not live up to it, you dishonour it; you can live in the perpetual practice of absence from God’s house, if not, in sins worse than that. Now I ask such of you who do not adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour, do you imagine that you can call me your pastor, and yet that my soul cannot tremble over you and in secret weep for you? Again, I say it may be a very little concern to you how you defile the garments of your Christianity, but it is a great concern to God’s hidden ones, who sigh and cry, and groan for the iniquities of the professors of Zion.
19. Now does anything else remain for the minister besides weeping and prayer? Yes, there is one more thing. God has given to his servants not the power of regeneration, but he has given them something close to it. It is impossible for any man to regenerate his neighbour; and yet how are men born to God? Does not the apostle say of such a one that he was begotten by him in his bonds? Now the minister has a power given to him from God, to be considered both the father and the mother of those born to God, for the apostle said he travailed in birth for souls until Christ was formed in them. What can we do then? We can now appeal to the Spirit. I know I have preached the gospel, that I have preached it earnestly, I challenge my Master to honour his own promise. He has said it shall not return to him void, and it shall not. It is in his hands, not mine. I cannot compel you, but you oh Spirit of God who has the key of the heart, you can compel. Did you ever notice in that chapter of the Revelation, where it says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” a few verses before, the same person is described, as he who has the key of David. So that if knocking will not avail, he has the key and can and will come in. Now if the knocking of an earnest minister does not prevail with you this morning, there still remains that secret opening of the heart by the Spirit, so that you shall be compelled.
20. I thought it my duty to labour with you as though I must do it; now I throw it into my Master’s hands. It cannot be his will that we should travail in birth, and yet not bring forth spiritual children. It is with him; he is master of the heart, and the day shall declare it, that some of you constrained by sovereign grace have become the willing captives of the all-conquering Jesus, and have bowed your hearts to him through the sermon of this morning.
[Mr. Spurgeon concluded with a very interesting anecdote, but since its insertion would make the sermon too long for a penny number, the publishers have decided to print it as one of the “New Park Street Tracts.”]