2547. “Return! Return!”

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No. 2547-43:589. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, September 21, 1884, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 12, 1897.

Return now everyone from his evil way. {Jer 18:11}

1. As I read the Scripture in your hearing, a few minutes ago, I was greatly startled by one word in the first part of the chapter: “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” How did those Galileans perish? I am solemnly afraid that some of you will perish just as they did. Christ says, “likewise, ” that is to say, in the same way as they perished, so will you, unless you repent. Well, how did they perish? Their blood was mingled with their sacrifices. Will it be, — can it be, — shall it be, that some of you will keep on coming to the house of prayer, that you will continue to join in all the exercises of our public service, and yet that you will not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, so that you will perish, and your blood will be mingled with your sacrifices? Think of it, dear friends; your blood on your chapel-going, — your blood on your church-going, — your blood on your hymn-singing and on your prayers, — because you have not yielded yourselves up to God, or obeyed the word of his gospel! If my blood must be spilt through an act of divine vengeance, let it fall anywhere but on my religion, for that would seem a doubly dreadful thing, — to die at the altar, and to let one’s blood be mingled with his sacrifice! Yet I really do fear that this must and will, in the necessary order of things, be the lot of some here who never forsake the gatherings of God’s people, and yet, at the same time, who have never yielded their hearts to God.

2. Then, think of those on whom the tower in Siloam fell, — how did they die? Christ says, “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Why, they were destroyed by their own defences; the tower was built to defend the place, yet it fell on eighteen of the inhabitants, and killed them! It is an awful thing when a man’s self-righteousness damns him, when what is his confidence becomes his condemnation, when the very thing in which he trusted shall totter to its fall, and bury him beneath its ruins. That is the dread I have on me, lest this calamity should happen to some of you, that your supposed tower of defence should prove to be your grave, and that you should find a sepulchre beneath your own confidences. Christ says it shall be so, “Unless you repent.”

3. My text is all about repentance; it is an exhortation from God, very brief, and thought-provoking, but very earnest and plain: “Return now everyone from his evil way.” I want you all to notice that this is the call of mercy. God might have let you die, to mingle your blood with your sacrifices; he might have let your tower fall on you, to destroy you. Instead of that, the voice of mercy still sounds in your ears: “ ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked men turn from his way and live: turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die?’ ” And in the words of our text he says, “Return now everyone from his evil way.” May God help you to listen to the call, and to obey it! It is a message of mercy, and it means that God would have you saved, and therefore he cries to you, “Return,” because he is willing to receive you, and to blot out all your sin.

4. But remember that it is equally the call of a holy God, the God who knows that you cannot be saved unless you turn from your evil ways. A holy God will give no salvation to the man who continues in his unrighteousness. There is no heaven for the man who will not leave his sin. You must quit your sin, or renounce all hope of salvation; you must turn or burn; you must repent or perish. God’s unsullied holiness will never alter this law, you must be driven from his face in the day of his wrath unless you turn from your evil way in the day of his mercy. Do not hope that there shall be any exception made for you to this rule, for there shall not be. Within the gate of pearl, no one who is defiled, and whoever would defile the holy place, shall never enter; if you wish to be a partaker in the glories of heaven, you must be washed, cleansed, sanctified. You must be made to hate your sin, or else, where God is, you can never come. Listen, then, to this urgent but gracious message which I trust that God, in his mercy, has sent for many of you: “Return now everyone from his evil way.”

5. I. I want you to join me in looking at the words of my text as I try to press them home by the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and, first, I will answer this question, WHAT DOES THE TEXT SAY? It says, “Return.”

6. The picture is that of a man who is going the wrong way. He is trespassing, he is on forbidden ground, he is advancing on a dangerous road, and if he shall continue to go in that direction, he will eventually come to a dreadful precipice over which he will fall, and there he will be ruined. A voice cries to him, “Return!” What does that word mean? It is very simple, and so that I may make it even plainer, perhaps, for practical purposes, let me say that the first thing such a man would do would be to stop. If I was out in the country, on a road which I did not know, and I heard a voice crying out to me, “Return,” I should certainly stop, and listen; and if I heard the cry repeated, with great eagerness and earnestness, “Return! Return!” I should pause, and look around, and try to see who it was who had called to me. I should look ahead to see whether there was any particular reason for telling me to return, and I should look all around me to try and discover why the man had told me go back. I wish that all of you who are wandering away from God, would stop, and consider where you are going. The trouble with some of you is that you will not think, but you go blundering on, like some wild beast that cannot keep still. Please stop right now for a little while, and think of what you have been doing, and to what your present course must lead, and in what woe it must end. Stop! In God’s name, I would arrest you; as God’s officer, I would put my hand on your shoulder, and say to you, “You must stop; you shall pause; you shall consider your ways. I cannot let you go on carelessly to your ruin, like a sheep into the slaughter-house, or a young bull going to be killed.” Stop, please.

7. Suppose a man did stop, that would not be returning; it is only the beginning of the return when a man stops, but it will be necessary for him, next, to turn around. The order for him to obey is, “Right about face.” He must turn his face in the opposite direction from what he was travelling in before. I need not, perhaps, say much about what that opposite direction will necessarily be with some of you. If you are going on in sin, you know that your future direction must be the way of holiness. If you are trying to reach that refuge of lies, self-righteousness, the direction for you is, “Turn right around, and look to Christ.” If you are to be just the opposite of what you now are, your own conscience may be your instructor as for the particular road you are to take. When God says, “Return,” it is plain that he means, “Turn your face in exactly the opposite direction from what it is now turned. Love what you now hate; hate what you now love. Do what you have left undone; leave undone what you have been accustomed to do.” There must be a total, a radical change in you, if you are really to obey the command, “Return.” I think I hear you ask, “Who can accomplish this change?” And I am glad to hear that question, for I trust it will lead you to pray, “Turn me, oh Lord, and I shall be turned!” May he, whose converting grace can turn the sinner from the error of his ways, turn you, dear friend, to himself!

8. There is something done towards returning when a man stops, there is still more done when he turns around; yet he does not actually return until, with persevering footsteps, the wanderer hurries back to him from whom he has departed. What God desires is that all his prodigal children should come home, that his stray sheep should be brought back to the fold, that the lost pieces of silver should be put into the treasury again; that, indeed, you who have wandered in sin should be as they are whom Christ has washed in his precious blood, whom the Holy Spirit has regenerated, and whom the Father has adopted, and put among his children. Oh, that it might be so with you even now! I charge you, never be content until it is so. Give no rest to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids, until you have obeyed that gracious summons, “Return,” and have said to the Lord, “Behold, we come to you, for we know that it is your love which has told us to return.”

9. So much in answer to the question, “What does the text say?”

10. II. Now I am going to dwell on another word, and to ask a second question, WHEN ARE SINNERS TO RETURN? The text says, “Return now everyone from his evil way.”

11. I do not expect or wish to please you all by what I say; I should think my main purpose would be defeated if I did. I want to carry out the unpleasant duty of pressing on you that this return should be immediate: “Return now.” Men are quite willing to promise to return when they have gone a little further; when, perhaps, they will have gone past all possibility of returning; but “now, ” is always an ugly word to them. “Tomorrow,” they like much better. “Now, ” is a monosyllable which seems to burn into their heart like a hot coal, and therefore they pluck it out, and throw it from them.

12. But listen to me, dear friends. The voice of God tells you to return now, and I would urge you to do so, because life is so uncertain that, if you do not return now, you may not live to return at all. I need not quote the many cases of men, apparently strong and healthy, who have suddenly been taken from us. I often note, as you must have done, that sickly people are spared to us while the robust and vigorous are called away. I could quote cases where the husband lives who, I thought, would have gone long ago, and the wife, who seemed the more healthy of the two, is dead and buried. But the sickly go, too, and go sometimes just when we thought they were recovering. There was great hope that they had outgrown the weakness, or that the disease would never return; but, in a moment, it leaped on them, like a lion out of the thicket, and they were gone. He who would have his estate properly ordered when he is dead should have his will made, everyone says that; and he who would have his eternal estate ordered properly should yield himself at once to the sovereign will of the Most High, for life is so uncertain.

13. Return, now, for the calls of grace may not always come to you. You do sometimes hear a sermon now which touches you, and pricks your conscience; but, in a short time, you may move to a place where you will hear no such sermons, or where, though you hear them, they may no longer impress you. I am afraid my voice is so familiar to some of you unconverted ones that you are getting like the miller who can go to sleep notwithstanding the click of the mill, — indeed, who goes to sleep better in his mill than he does anywhere else; or like some men I have heard of, over there in Southwark, who work inside the great boilers. When a poor fellow first begins to labour in such a place, the deafening noise is horrible to him, he thinks he must die; but, after a while, he gets so used to the reverberation that he could almost sleep notwithstanding all the hammering. It is much the same with hearing the Word; therefore, please, if you have long listened to one who would gladly do you good, yield to the message he delivers to you; before you grow so familiar with it that it loses all its power over your heart, accept it as good tidings, of great joy. May God grant that you may do so now! While grace calls, do not refuse.

14. Remember, also, that your sin will be increased by delay. The longer you stay away from God, the more deeply you will sin. If you keep on in the wrong path, not only will you have sinned all the more, but that sin will have taken a more terrible hold on you. Habits begin like cobwebs, but they end like chains of iron. A man might more readily have swept away the temptation when it was new to him, than he will be able to do when, having yielded to it many a time, the devil has learned the way to master him. May God help you to flee from sin as soon as you perceive it, lest you are caught in its net of steel, and are held in it to your eternal destruction!

15. Moreover, it is good for us to return to our God now, because, the sooner we return to him, the sooner we shall enjoy his favour, and the more delightful will our life become. If to repent, and to return to God, involved a lifetime of misery, I would still urge it, for it would be worth while to spend the rest of our days in bitter grief, and then to be eternally blessed; it would be worth while to give away the pleasure of time for the sake of the joys of eternity. But it is not so, for he who repents of sin loses nothing of joy when he loses sin, and he who finds God, finds heaven. Peace with God makes even this life to be a blessed life; and he who has it begins, even here, to enjoy the felicities of the glorified. Come, then, dear friends; you cannot be happy too soon and therefore you cannot be holy too soon. You cannot be safe too soon, and therefore you cannot return too soon from the evil of your ways.

16. Do you not see, too, that God will have all the more service from you? The sooner you are brought to him, the longer you will have of life in which to serve him. I always bless God that I was brought to Christ in my youth, for it left a good long time of life to be spent in the Lord’s service. If any of you have gone past youth, into manhood, and to middle age, or even to old age, then the word “now” should come to you with a sharp, clear crack like that of a rifle. It comes like a staccato note in music, “Now! Now! Now!” It comes to you over and over again with a definite, imperious accent, “Now!” “Return now.” Why, my venerable friend, you are seventy years of age already; I have put the number too low, for if you are spared to see another birthday, your next will find you eighty; yet you are unsaved! May God be merciful to you, aged sinner! Even now, may you return from your evil way!

17. Yet once more, return now, because, if ever there is a reason for returning, that reason points to the present moment. If there is a reason why you should repent before you die, that reason urges you to repent today. If it is reasonable that God should expect a man to leave his sin, it is reasonable that God should expect him to leave it now. If there is a hope that a man will leave his sin some time or other, there must be a better hope that he will leave it now than that he will leave it in a year’s time. Wisdom’s voice cries, “Now!” It is folly that says, “Wait.” Oh, that God himself, by his own gracious Spirit, may now make you wise enough to turn from your evil way, and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may be saved!

18. III. Now may God help me, for a minute or two, while I try to answer this third question, WHO IS THE PERSON WHO IS TO RETURN? The text says, “Return now everyone from his evil way.”

19.Everyone.” Many of you have returned, blessed be God for that! But every man, every woman, every child who has not returned, should hear the voice of the Lord repeating this message, “Return now everyone from his evil way.” “Oh!” you thought to yourself, “I wonder whether So-and-so will think of what is being said.” Will you kindly forget him, and think only about yourself. It would not be proper for me to single out individuals in this great crowd; but will you consider that I single you out, one by one. The message of the text to each friend here who is unconverted is, “Return now everyone from his evil way.”

20. “Well,” one says, “perhaps there will be some people converted through this sermon.” Please do not talk like that. Will you be converted through it? “You are the man,” said the prophet to David, and I would be just as personal in my address to every sinner here. I want you, my friend, by mighty grace to be turned from the error of your way. Why not? Some of you have been coming here for a very long time; and there are some of you who are unhappy if you cannot come. You love the very sound of the gospel, and you are interested in everything which has to do with Christian work here; I cannot quite figure you out, you are indeed strange people. I love you very much, but I cannot figure out why you do not love your own soul’s better. You run around the house with the knives, and the forks, and the plates, and the dishes, so that others may be fed, and yet you never eat anything yourself. I see you at the well, and you are always ready, if you can, to turn the wheel, and help to bring up the water for other people, but you never drink it yourself. What are you doing? What are some of you doing, — you whom I might truly call loafers about this house of prayer? I wish you would be real loafers, and eat from the gospel loaf that is set on the table for all hungry sinners; take a slice of it for yourselves this very hour. But no; you like to be here, yet you are mere hangers-on; you take your turn in helping every good work, yet you do not give God your hearts. You must be fools, to act in such a way. I do not want to say anything harsh or unkind, but that is exactly what you are. If you said that we were all wrong, and laughed at our religion, I could understand you. You would be very wrong, but you would at least be consistent in it. You seem by your action to say that we are right, and yet not right; at least, you seek to help us in our service, but you do not give yourself to the Lord. Why, man, you yourself are dying, and yet you run for the doctor for someone else, and all the while think yourself perfectly well! You are starving, and yet you are eager to hand the bread out to the hungry; but why do you not also take a bite yourself? Oh dear hearts, what can be your hindrance in trusting the Saviour? What is it that keeps some of you away from Christ? I try to put the gospel so plainly and simply that everyone may understand it. I have had it said to me, recently, I daresay a dozen times, by people in spiritual trouble who have come many a mile to see me, — indeed, some of them from the very ends of the earth, — “No one has encouraged and helped us as you have by your sermons; you seemed as if you did not want to turn any of us away, but as if you longed to bring us all to the Saviour; and that is why we have come to see you.” Well, now, I think they would not have said that so often if it had not been true. I do not frighten you away from Christ; at least, I do not intend to do so, I would much rather beckon you to come to him. It is not fear, I think, that has kept you back. What is it, then? Ah! perhaps we shall find out before we are finished; for you are staked down somehow, and cannot escape.

21. Possibly, some of you are like the man we read about in the papers some time ago. He was walking by the seaside, and stepped on a large chain, and slipped his foot right through one of the links. When he tried to draw it back again, he could not, for he was held tightly. The tide was coming in, and there he was a prisoner. He had to call long and loud before anyone came; and by the time the people arrived, he had very much hurt his foot in endeavouring to extricate himself. He begged them to run for the smith, that he might come, and break the iron. He came, but he brought the wrong tools with him, so he could not accomplish the task. It would be some time before he could be back, and, meanwhile, the tide had come in, and the water was up to the man’s feet, so he cried, “Run for the surgeon. Let him come, and cut my leg off; it is the only hope of saving my life.” But by the time the surgeon came, the water was up to the man’s neck, so the doctor could not get down to where his foot was held firmly in the iron chain, and there was nothing that could be done for him. There he was, poor fellow, and the tide rolled over him, and he was drowned. Some of you seem to me to be just like that man, held firm by some invisible force; yet when I try to get at the chain, I cannot find what it is, it is so far under the water. Perhaps you yourself do not know what it is. I am going to make a dive to try to get at it, as I ask my last question concerning the text.

22. IV. From WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE TO RETURN? the text says, “Return now everyone from his evil way.”

23. “From his evil way.” Then, each man has a way of his own, — an evil way of his own, — some personal form of sin. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.” Well now, my friend, what is your evil way? If we can find that out, perhaps we shall learn why it is that you are not saved.

24. What is your own way? Is it some constitutional sin to which you are prone? There can be no doubt that we all have some infirmity, or weakness, or tendency to sin, more fully developed in us than in other people. There is one man who is a fine fellow in many ways, but he is dreadfully impulsive, and gets into furious tempers. He is soon cool again, and he is very sorry for what he has said and done, but there is not much good in that; because, if you scald anyone to death, and then say that you are sorry, that does not bring him back to life again. There are others, whose tendency would be to the sins of the flesh, much more than is the case with a great many of their neighbours; some are more inclined to pride, and some to sloth; but there is something about the constitution of men, inherited from their parents, or brought on by their circumstances, which leads each man towards some particular sin rather than to others. You know, dear friends, what contrasts there are among men; there are some mean, stingy, cold-blooded fellows, who would never become spendthrifts; it is a very great difficulty to extract even a sixpence from them. They could not be prodigals and spendthrifts, and there are others who never could be misers, except by a miracle, for they never could keep a penny in their pockets. It always burned a hole through. These observations may help some of you to see where your own evil way may lie, according to the peculiarity of your constitution, and circumstances, and habits.

25. “Well,” one asks, “what do you think is my evil way?” I will answer by asking you another question, What is the sin into which you most frequently fall? I should think you can tell that, and that is the evil way from which you have most to fear. It is from that one way that you are especially called on to return. What sin can you be most easily led into? Read the Bible through, and you will find that one man was led into drunkenness, another into licentiousness, one man into anger, another into lying. Which has the greater power over you? Tonight, if you were tempted, to which temptation would you be most likely to yield? You do not know, you say; well then, let me ask you another question.

26. When do you get most angry if anyone rebukes you? If you are rebuked for a sin you do not commit, you need not get angry about that. You can calmly say, “My friend, you have made a mistake.” If you are chided for having done a thing of which you feel that you are perfectly innocent, you may even say, “Now, that is a lie”; but yet you need not be very greatly provoked. But, oh, if we know your tender places, and we begin just to hint at some of your private goings on, — just lay bare a little of your secrets, — indeed, then you get furious, do you not? Now what is it about religion that you dislike the most? What is it in the preaching that makes you say, “There, I will never go to hear that man again; he cuts my hair so short, he comes quite close to the skin?” Well now, that will help you to find out what is your own personal evil way; and it is from that way that you are to return.

27. Again, what sin of yours eats up the other sins? Look at a miser; he will not fall into licentiousness, because it is expensive, and he cannot afford it. He is greedy for money, so he sins by covetousness, which is idolatry. He does not go and get drunk, for that is an expensive sin, and he thinks he cannot afford it. The love of money is his besetting sin; his covetousness is like Aaron’s rod, it opens its mouth, and swallows up all the other sins. Here, on the other hand, is a man who is proud; he does not try to save money, for he spends it to flatter his pride. Everything must be in grand style for such a grand man as he is. You will not find him falling into drunkenness, or into the gross sins of certain other men, because he is proud of being a respectable person; he has a character to keep up, so his pride swallows up all the other kinds of sin, and people call it “a decent pride,” “a respectable pride,” “a proper pride.” Yes, that is one kind of demon that kills some other demons. So far, it is a good thing to have demons killed; but if he kills them by swallowing them, it only makes him so much the worse. Ah! look next at the man who is given to the sins of the flesh; you will not find that he is a miser; poor wretch, he has nothing left that he can store up. I heard only yesterday of a man who was once in a good position in life, with a wife and children. I have known him as what is called a respectable man, worth several thousand pounds. At the present moment, he is only earning a few shillings a week, and I fear he will fall even lower. He has had another house besides his own to maintain, and a house that has swallowed up all his wealth. He parted with his business for £500, and within a few weeks all that money was gone; and if it had been £50,000, it would have gone, for whoredom is a deep ditch that swallows a man, body and soul, fortune and everything. Mark my words, that man will die in the streets, one day, though he could have bought out some of us not so very long ago. That sin of his, you see, has swallowed everything up; it all disappears when he once goes that way. It is the same with gambling; when a man takes to the gaming-table, it seems as if his whole soul ran out at that sluice, and his entire life is just nothing to him. Wife, children, wealth, — all must go at the throw of the dice, or be wagered on the running of a horse. So, you see, dear friends, you can find out which is your sin if you can discover what it is that swallows up all the others, and becomes the master of your entire being. Where does your money mostly go? You could have told that Joseph was Jacob’s favourite, because he made him a coat of many colours; and there are some sins that wear the coat of many colours, and often, as it were, it is dipped in the man’s own blood, for everything goes for that particular sin.

28. I know that I am speaking to some such people. Please turn, for before long you will be beggars if you do not turn from your sins, for before long you will be where hope can never come, where no messenger of mercy will invite you to return, but where the bell of eternity shall ring out its dreadful knell, “for ever, for ever, for ever.”

    There are no acts of pardon passed
       In the cold grave to which we haste;
    But darkness, death, and long despair
       Reign in eternal silence there.

Therefore, “return now everyone from his evil way.”

29. But I have not hit on your sin yet, my friend, have I? You have an evil way which you will not tell to anyone; it is not as bad as any I have mentioned, it is a very respectable kind of evil way which you have. Your evil way is this, the evil way of self-righteousness. You do your very best; in fact, you think you do a little better than most people. You are not a Christian, but you are rather better than some Christians. In truth, you are so good a fellow that it is perfectly amazing how the world bears up with such a good person as you are on its surface! You utterly despise the evils I have been talking about, and the people who commit them. You will not associate with them, nor say “Good morning” to them; you are so good. Ah, yes! but do you know where such “good” people as you are go to? Not heaven, notice that, for all those who are in heaven have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and yours, according to your own account, do not need to be washed. The day will come, I assure you, when, if this has been your evil way, it shall turn out to be as destructive as the way of the worst transgressor, for self-righteousness is an open and gross insult to God. It insinuates that the death of Christ was a superfluity; it tells God that he is wrong in charging a man with sin; it raises a clamour against God; it claims as a right every good thing that God has to give; it does, in fact, uncrown the Saviour, tells the Holy Spirit to go his way as no longer needed, and throws the gospel, which is the crown-jewel of God, into the mire.

30. I wish that we were all agreed, by the power of the good Spirit, that we would turn to our God with contrite hearts! Come, dear friends, let us first acknowledge our sin. Come, let us trust in the great Sacrifice. Come, let us lay our hand on your dear head, oh Christ, while we stand here, and confess our sin. Come, let us ask the Holy Spirit to make us strong enough to forsake our sin. Let us ask him to give us new hearts, and right spirits, so that we may really turn from all sin, and follow on to know the Lord. Children of God, pray for the whole congregation now. Let us pray.

31. Oh Lord, turn us; turn us, and we shall be turned! And, if you have turned us, help us to persevere in righteousness, and let us not turn again to folly. But oh, turn men and women tonight, for your love’s sake, — for your mercy’s sake, — for Christ’s sake! Turn the whole congregation of unsaved ones with their face to the cross; and may they look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn for their sin; and then may they look again to him, and be enlightened, as they see their sin effectively and eternally put away by the substitutionary sacrifice of their redeeming God! Answer, oh Christ, the cries of our soul, for your own name’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Lu 13:1-22}

1. There were present at that season some who told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

It was a cruel and wicked act on the part of Pilate to wreak his vengeance on the Galileans when they were occupied in offering the sacrifices of their religion.

2. And Jesus answering said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were sinners more than all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?

If men die violent deaths, if they perish in an accident, are they therefore to be accounted more guilty than the rest of mankind?

3-5. I tell you, no: but, unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, do you think that they were sinners more than all men who lived in Jerusalem? I tell you, no: but, unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.”

Here, then, is a word of warning to those who have seen others die suddenly, and who have wrapped themselves up in the robe of self-conceit, saying to themselves, “No doubt these people were much worse than we are. They have been taken away, but we still live.” Take heed, sirs; for God’s justice is equal, and unerring, and he will deal with you even as he has dealt with others.

Our Lord next spoke a parable of warning to those who live in the midst of privileges, but who produce no fruit for God. Let those to whom this parable belongs take note of the message it is intended to convey to them.

6, 7. He also spoke this parable; “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and looked for fruit on it, and found none. Then, he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Behold, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why does it encumber the ground?’

“In the first year, it may have been a bad season; the second may have been the same; but for a tree to be fruitless for three years, to have so long a time of probation, and yet to bear no fruit, proves it to be worthless. If I had found even a little fruit on it, I would have been hopeful that more would come eventually; but these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none. Surely, there never will be any. It has had every opportunity; there is no need of any longer delay: ‘cut it down; why does it encumber the ground?’ ”

8, 9. And he answering said to him, ‘Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I shall dig around it, and fertilize it: and if it bears fruit, good: and if not, then after that you shall cut it down.’ ”

The vine-dresser has much patience; but there is a limit to it. He will not willingly lose a tree; but only one more year is to be given to this encumberer of the vineyard. Who can tell but that, in the case of some who are here, that final year is coming to a close? Oh, that the Lord would cause the fruitless to become fruitful before the year ends!

Next, in the chapter, we have a word of comfort for those who have been under the dominion of sin for many a day, and who are almost in despair. Here is one of Christ’s Sabbath miracles.

10-17. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, and was bent over, and could in no wise lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said to her, “Woman, you are released from your infirmity.” And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said to the people, “There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him, and said, “You hypocrite, does not each one of you on the Sabbath take his ox or his donkey out of the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo, these eighteen years, be released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed:

So they will be again one of these days, — all his present adversaries as well as all the old ones, — those who deny his deity, those who dispute his doctrines, those who refuse to yield obedience to his commands, those who know nothing about him, and who call themselves “agnostics.” “All his adversaries were ashamed.”

17. And all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

There is a very striking contrast between the two parts of this verse: “All his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.”

The next parable is full of comfort for those in whom there is at present little grace; but, being a living seed, it will become more.

18-22. Then he said, “What is the kingdom of God like? and to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and threw into his garden; and it grew, and became a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in its branches.” And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal flour, until the whole thing was leavened.” And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

With his face toward the place where he should offer an atonement for the sin of men, which was to be the climax of all his labours.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — Come And Welcome” 509}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Let Us Return’ ” 605}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — All In All” 368}

The Standard Life Of C. H. Spurgeon

To be completed in 4 Volumes, Demy 4to, 10/6 each, or in about 32 Shilling Parts. Vol. I. and Part I. will be ready on December 15th.

Special Notice from “The Sword and the Trowel.”

We are happy to be able to announce that, during the forthcoming Book Season, Messrs. Passmore & Alabaster will (D. V.) publish the first Volume of the long-expected Standard of Life of C. H. Spurgeon. It will take the form of an Autobiography, for which Mr. Spurgeon had long been preparing the material before he was “called home.” There will be four large handsome Volumes, fully illustrated, and it will also be published in 1/-Monthly Parts. The title page of the first volume will give some idea of the unique character of the work, so we include a copy of it: —

C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, By his Wife and his Private Secretary. Vol. I., 1834 — 1854.

Important Notice. — The January Number of “The Sword And The Trowel” will be 6d. net. With it will be issued, as a Supplement, the First Shilling Part of “The Standard Life of C. H. Spurgeon.” Order them early from your Bookseller; or they will be sent post free for 8½d. by the Publishers, —

Passmore & Alabaster, 4, Paternoster Buildings, London. E. C.

Gospel, Invitations
509 — Come And Welcome <8.7.4.>
1 Come, and welcome, to the Saviour,
      He in mercy bids thee come:
   Come, be happy in his favour,
      Longer from him do not roam;
         Come, and welcome,
      Come to Jesus, sinner, come!
2 Come, and welcome; start for glory,
      Leave the wretched world behind:
   Christ will spread his banner o’er thee,
      Thou in him a friend shalt find;
         Come, and welcome,
      To a Saviour good and kind.
3 Come, and welcome: do not linger,
      Make thy happy choice today;
   True thou art a wretched sinner,
      But he’ll wash thy sins away:
         Come, and welcome,
      Time admits of no delay.
                     Albert Midlane, 1865.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
605 — “Let Us Return”
1 Come, let us to the Lord our God
      With contrite hearts return;
   Our God is gracious, nor will leave
      The desolate to mourn.
2 His voice commands the tempest forth,
      And stills the stormy wave;
   And though his arm be strong to smite,
      ‘Tis also strong to save.
3 Long hath the night of sorrow reign’d;
      The dawn shall bring us light;
   God shall appear, and we shall rise
      With gladness in his sight.
4 Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
      Shall know him and rejoice;
   His coming like the morn shall be,
      Like morning songs his voice.
5 As dew upon the tender herb,
      Diffusing fragrance round;
   As showers that usher in the spring,
      And cheer the thirsty ground.
6 So shall his presence bless our souls,
      And shed a joyful light;
   That hallow’d morn shall chase away
      The sorrows of the night.
                     John Morrison, 1781.

Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
368 — All In All <8.7.>
1 Jesus is our God and Saviour,
   Guide, and Counsellor, and Friend,
   Bearing all our misbehaviour,
   Kind and loving to the end.
   Trust him; he will not deceive us,
   Though we hardly of him deem:
   He will never, never leave us;
   Nor will let us quite leave him.
2 Nothing but thy blood, oh Jesus,
   Can relieve us from our smart;
   Nothing else from guilt release us;
   Nothing else can melt the heart.
   Law and terrors do but harden,
   All the while they work alone;
   But a sense of blood bought pardon
   Soon dissolves a heart of stone.
3 Jesus, all our consolations
   Flow from thee, the sovereign good,
   Love and faith, and hope, and patience,
   All are purchased by thy blood.
   From thy fulness we receive them;
   We have nothing of our own:
   Freely thou delight’st to give them
   To the needy, who have none.
                        Joseph Hart, 1759.

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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