263. The Story of God’s Mighty Acts

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Perhaps there are no stories that we remember so long as those which we hear in our childhood, those tales which are told to us by our fathers, and in our nurseries.

A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 17, 1859, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

We have heard with our ears, oh God, our fathers have told us, what work you did in their days, in the times of old. (Ps 44:1)

1. Perhaps there are no stories that we remember so long as those which we hear in our childhood, those tales which are told to us by our fathers, and in our nurseries. It is a sad reflection that too many of these stories are idle and vain, so that our minds in early infancy are tinctured with fables, and inoculated with strange and lying narratives. Now, among the early Christians and the old believers in the far off times, nursery tales were far different from what they are now, and the stories with which their children were amused were of a far different class from those which fascinated us in the days of our babyhood. No doubt, Abraham would talk to young children about the flood, and tell them how the waters spread over the earth, and how Noah alone was saved in the ark. The ancient Israelites, when they lived in their own land, would all tell their children about the Red Sea, and the plagues which God did in Egypt when he brought his people out of the house of bondage. Among the early Christians we know that it was the custom of parents to recount to their children everything concerning the life of Christ, the acts of the apostles, and the similar interesting narratives. Indeed, among our Puritan ancestors such were the stories that regaled their childhood. Sitting down by the fireside, before those old Dutch tiles with the quaint eccentric drawings upon them of the history of Christ, mothers would teach their children about Jesus walking on the water, or of his multiplying the loaves of bread, or of his marvellous transfiguration, or of the crucifixion of Jesus. Oh how I wish that similar stories were told in the present age, that the stories of our childhood would be again the stories of Christ, and that each of us would believe that, after all, there can be nothing so interesting as that which is true, and nothing more striking than those stories which are written in sacred writ; nothing that can more truly move the heart of a child than the marvellous works of God which he did in the olden times. Now, it seems that the psalmist who wrote this most musical ode had heard from his father, handed to him by tradition, the stories of the wondrous things which God had done in his day; and afterwards, this sweet singer in Israel taught it to his children, and so one generation after another was led to call God blessed, remembering his mighty acts.

2. Now, my dear friends, this morning I intend to recall to your minds some of the wondrous things which God has done in the olden time. My aim and object, will be to excite your minds to seek after the like; that looking back upon what God has done, you may be induced to look forward with the eye of expectation, hoping that he will again stretch forth his potent hand and his holy arm, and repeat those mighty acts he performed in ancient days.

3. First, I shall speak of the marvellous stories which our fathers have told us, and which we have heard of the olden time; secondly, I shall mention some disadvantages under which these old stories labour with regard to the effect upon our minds; and, then, I shall draw the proper inferences from those marvellous things which we have heard, that the Lord did in the days of yore.

4. I. To begin then, with THE WONDERFUL STORIES WE HAVE HEARD OF THE LORD’S ANCIENT DOINGS.

5. We have heard that God has at times done very mighty acts. The plain everyday course of the world has been disturbed with wonders at which men have been exceedingly amazed. God has not always permitted his church to go on climbing by slow degrees to victory, but he has been pleased at times to strike one terrible blow, and lay his enemies down upon the earth, and bid his children march over their prostrate bodies. Turn back then, to ancient records, and remember what God has done. Will you not remember what he did at the Red Sea, how he struck Egypt and all its chivalry, and covered Pharaoh’s chariot and horse in the Red Sea? Have you not heard tell how God struck Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites, because they withstood the progress of his people? Have you not learned how he proved that his mercy endures for ever, when he killed those great kings and cast the mighty ones down from their thrones? Have you not read, too, how God struck the children of Canaan, and drove out its inhabitants, and gave the land to his people, to be a possession by lot for ever? Have you not heard how when the hosts of Jabin came against them, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera? The river of Kishon swept them away, “that ancient river, the river Kishon,” and there was not one of them left? Has it not been told you, too, how by the hand of David, God struck the Philistines, and how by his right hand he struck the children of Ammon? Have you not heard how Midian was put to confusion, and the myriads of Ethiopia were scattered by Asa in the day of his faith? And have you not heard, too, how the Lord sent a blast upon the hosts of Sennacherib, so that in the morning they were all dead men? Tell—tell these, his wonders! Speak of them in your streets. Teach them to your children. Let them not be forgotten, for the right hand of the Lord has done marvellous things, his name is known in all the earth.

6. The wonders, however, which concern us most, are those of the Christian era; and surely these are not second to those under the Old Testament. Have you never read how God won to himself great renown on the day of Pentecost? Turn to this book of the record of the wonders of the Lord and read. Peter the fisherman stood up and preached in the name of the Lord his God. A multitude assembled and the Spirit of God fell upon them; and it came to pass that three thousand in one day were pricked in their heart by the hand of God, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. And do you not know how the twelve apostles with the disciples went everywhere preaching the Word, and the idols fell from their thrones? The cities opened their gates wide, and the messengers of Christ walked through the streets and preached. It is true that at first they were driven here and there, and hunted like partridges upon the mountains: but do you not remember how the Lord obtained a victory for himself, so that in a hundred years after the nailing of Christ to the cross, the gospel had been preached in every nation, and the isles of the sea had heard about it? And have you yet forgotten how the heathen were baptized, thousands at a time, in every river? What stream is there in Europe that cannot testify to the majesty of the gospel? What city is there in the land that cannot tell how God’s truth has triumphed, and how the heathen has forsaken his false god, and bowed his knee to Jesus the crucified? The first spread of the gospel is a miracle never to be eclipsed. Whatever God may have done at the Red Sea, he has done still more within a hundred years after the time when Christ first came into the world. It seemed as if a fire from heaven ran along the ground. Nothing could resist its force. The lightning shaft of truth shivered every pinnacle of the idol temple, and Jesus was worshipped from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.

7. This is one of the things we have heard of about the olden times.

8. And have you never heard of the mighty things which God did by preachers some hundreds of years from that date? Have you not been told about the golden mouthed Chrysostom, how, whenever he preached, the church was thronged with attentive hearers; and there, standing and lifting up holy hands, he spoke with a majesty unparalleled, the word of God in truth and righteousness; the people listening, leaning forward to catch every word, and immediately breaking the silence with the clapping of their hands and the stamping of their feet; then silent again for a while, spell bound by the mighty orator; and again carried away with enthusiasm, springing to their feet, clapping their hands, and shouting for joy again? Numberless were the conversions in his day. God was exceedingly magnified, for sinners were abundantly saved. And have your fathers never told you of the wondrous things that were done afterwards when the black darkness of superstition covered the earth, when Popery sat upon her ebony throne and stretched her iron rod across the nations and shut the windows of heaven, and quenched the very stars of God and made thick darkness cover the people? Have you never heard how Martin Luther arose and preached the gospel of the grace of God, and how the nations trembled, and the world heard the voice of God and lived? Have you not heard of Zwingle among the Swiss, and of Calvin in the holy city of Geneva, and of the mighty works that God did by them? Indeed, as Britons have you forgotten the mighty preacher of the truth—have your ears ceased to tingle with the wondrous story of the preachers that Wycliffe sent forth into every market town and every hamlet of England, preaching the gospel of God? Oh, does not history tell us that these men were like firebrands in the midst of the dry stubble; that their voice was as the roaring of a lion, and their going forth like the springing of a young lion. Their glory was as the firstling of a bull; they pushed the nation before them, and as for the enemies, they said, “Destroy them.” No one could stand before them, for the Lord their God had girded them with might.

9. To come down a little closer to our own times, truly our fathers have told us the wondrous things which God did in the days of Wesley and of Whitfield. The churches were all asleep. Irreligion was the rule of the day. The very streets seemed to run with iniquity, and the gutters were filled full with the iniquity of sin. Up rose Whitfield and Wesley, men whose hearts the Lord had touched, and they dared to preach the gospel of the grace of God. Suddenly, as in a moment, there was heard the rush as of wings, and the church said: “Who are these who fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?” They come! they come! numberless as the birds of heaven, with a rushing, like mighty winds that are not to be withstood. Within a few years, from the preaching of these two men, England was permeated with evangelical truth. The Word of God was known in every town, and there was scarcely a hamlet into which the Methodists had not penetrated. In those days of the slow coach, when Christianity seemed to have bought up the old wagons in which our fathers once travelled—where business runs with steam, there oftentimes religion creeps along with its belly on the earth,—we are astonished at these stories, and we think them to be wonders. Yet let us believe them; they come to us as substantial matters of history. And the wondrous things which God did in the olden times, by his grace he will yet do again. He who is mighty has done great things and holy is his name.

10. There is a special feature to which I would call your attention with regard to the works of God in the olden time; they derive increasing interest and wonder from the fact that they were all sudden things. The old veterans in our churches believe that things must grow, gently, by degrees; we must go step by step onward. Concentrated action and continued labour, they say, will ultimately bring success. But the marvel is, all God’s works have been sudden. When Peter stood up to preach, it did not take six weeks to convert the three thousand. They were converted at once and baptized that very day; in that hour they were turned to God, and become as truly disciples of Christ as they could have been if their conversion had taken seventy years. So it was in the day of Martin Luther: it did not take Luther centuries to break through the thick darkness of Rome. God lit the candle and the candle burned, and there was the light in an instant—God works suddenly. If anyone could have stood in Wurtemburg, and have said: “Can Popery be made to quail, can the Vatican be made to shake?” The answer would have been:—“No; it will take at least a thousand years to do it. Popery, the great serpent, has so twisted itself around the nations, and bound them so firmly in its coil, that they cannot be delivered except by a long process.” However God said, “Not so.” He struck the dragon severely, and the nations went free; he cut the gates of brass, and broke asunder the bars of iron, and the people were delivered in an hour. Freedom did not come in the course of years, but in an instant. The people who walked in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, the light shone. So it was in Whitfield’s day. The rebuking of a slumbering church was not the work of ages; it was done at once. Have you never heard of the great revival under Whitfield? Take for an example what happened at Camslang. He was preaching in the churchyard to a great congregation, that could not get into any edifice; and while preaching, the power of God came upon the people, and one after another fell down as if they were struck; and at least it was estimated that not less than three thousand people were crying out at one time under the conviction of sin. He preached on, now thundering like Boanerges, and then comforting like Barnabas, and the work spread, and no tongue can tell the great things that God did under that one sermon of Whitfield. Not even the sermon of Peter on the day of Pentecost was equal to it.

11. So it has been in all revivals; God’s work has been done suddenly. As with a clap of thunder God has descended from on high; not slowly, but he rides royally on the cherubim; he flies on the wings of the mighty winds. The work has been sudden; men could scarcely believe it to be true, it was done in so short a time. Witness the great revival which is going on in and around Belfast. After carefully looking at the matter, and after seeing some trusty and well beloved brother who lived in that neighbourhood, I am convinced, notwithstanding what enemies may say, that it is a genuine work of grace, and that God is doing wonders there. A friend who called to see me yesterday, tells me that the lowest and vilest men, the most depraved females in Belfast, have been visited with this extraordinary epilepsy, as the world calls it; but with this strange rushing of the Spirit, as we have it. Men who have been drunkards have suddenly felt an impulse compelling them to pray. They have resisted; they have sought to their cups in order to put it out; but when they have been swearing, seeking to quench the Spirit by their blasphemy, God has at last brought them on their knees, and they have been compelled to cry for mercy with piercing shrieks, and to agonize in prayer; and then after a time, the evil one seems to have been cast out of them, and in a quiet, holy, happy frame of mind, they have made a profession of their faith in Christ, and have walked in his fear and love. Roman Catholics have been converted. I thought that an extraordinary thing; but they have been converted very frequently indeed in Ballymena and in Belfast. In fact, I am told the priests are now selling small bottles of holy water for people to take, in order that they may be preserved from this desperate contagion of the Holy Spirit. This holy water is said to have such efficacy, that those who do not attend any of the meetings are not likely to be meddled with by the Holy Spirit—so the priests tell them. But if they go to the meetings, even this holy water cannot preserve them—they are as liable to fall prey to the divine influence. I think they are just as likely to do so without as with it. All this has been brought about suddenly, and although we may expect to find some portion of natural excitement, yet I am persuaded it is in the main a real, spiritual, and abiding work. There is a little froth on the surface, but there is a deep running current that is not to be resisted, sweeping underneath, and carrying everything before it. At least there is something to awaken our interest, when we understand that in the small town of Ballymena on market day, the tax collectors have always taken one hundred pounds for whisky, and now they cannot take a sovereign all day long in all the public houses. Men who were once drunkards now meet for prayer, and people after hearing one sermon will not go until the minister has preached another, and sometimes a third; and at last he is obliged to say: “You must go, I am exhausted.” Then they will break up into groups in their streets and in their houses, crying out to God to let this mighty work spread, that sinners may be converted to him. “Well,” one says, “we cannot believe it.” Very likely you cannot, but some of us can, for we have heard it with our ears, and our fathers have told us the mighty works that God did in their days, and we are prepared to believe that God can do similar works now.

12. I must remark again here, in all these old stories there is one very common feature. Whenever God has done a mighty work it has been by some very insignificant instrument. When he killed Goliath it was by little David, who was only a ruddy youth. Do not preserve the sword of Goliath—I always thought that was a mistake by David—do not preserve Goliath’s sword, but preserve the stone, and treasure up the sling in God’s armoury for ever. When God wished to kill Sisera, it was a woman that must do it with a hammer and a nail. God has done his mightiest works by the lowliest instruments: that is a fact most true of all God’s works—Peter the fisherman at Pentecost, Luther the humble monk at the Reformation, Whitfield the waiter in the Old Bell Inn at Gloucester in the time of the last century’s revival; and so it must be to the end. God does not work by Pharaoh’s horses or chariot, but he works by Moses’ rod; he does not do his wonders with the whirlwind and the storm; he does them by the still small voice, that the glory may be his and the honour all his own. Does not this open a field of encouragement to you and to me? Why may not we be employed in doing some mighty work for God here? Moreover, we have noticed in all these stories of God’s mighty works in the olden time, that wherever he has done any great thing it has been by someone who has had very great faith. I do truly believe at this moment that, if God willed it, every soul in this hall would be converted now. If God chose to send forth the operations of his own mighty Spirit, not even the most obdurate heart would be able to stand against it. “He will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy.” He will do as he pleases; no one can restrain his hand. “Well,” one says, “but I do not expect to see any great things.” Then, my dear friend, you will not be disappointed, for you will not see them; but those who expect them shall see them. Men of great faith do great things. It was Elijah’s faith that killed the priests of Baal. If he had the little heart that some of you have, Baal’s priests would have still ruled over the people, and would never have been killed with the sword. It was Elijah’s faith that made him say: “If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal, then follow him.” And again: “Choose one bull for yourselves, cut it in pieces, lay it on wood and put no fire under it, call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of Jehovah.” It was his noble faith that made him say: “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape;” and he brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there—a holocaust to God. The reason why God’s name was so magnified, was because Elijah’s faith in God was so mighty and heroic. When the Pope sent his papal bull to Luther, Luther burned it. Standing up in the midst of the crowd with the blazing paper in his hand he said: “See here, this is the Pope’s bull.” What did he care for all the Popes that were ever in or out of hell? And when he went to Worms to meet the grand Diet, his followers said: “You are in danger, stay away.” “No,” said Luther, “if there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs of the houses, I would not fear; I will go;”—and into Worms he went, confident in the Lord his God. It was the same with Whitfield; he believed and he expected that God would do great things. When he went into his pulpit he believed that God would bless the people, and God did. Little faith may do little things, but great faith shall be greatly honoured. Oh God! our fathers have told us this, that whenever they had great faith you have always honoured it by doing mighty works.

13. I will detain you no longer on this point, except to make one observation. All the mighty works of God, have been attended with great prayer, as well as with great faith. Have you ever heard of the commencement of the great American revival? A man unknown and obscure, laid it up in his heart to pray that God would bless his country. After praying and wrestling and making the soul stirring enquiry: “Lord, what will you have me to do? Lord, what will you have me to do?” He rented a room, and put up an announcement that there would be a prayer meeting held there at such and such an hour of the day. He went at the proper hour, and there was not a single person there; he began to pray, and prayed for half an hour alone. One came in at the end of the half hour, and then two more, and I think he closed with six. The next week came around, and there might have been fifty dropped in at different times; at last the prayer meeting grew to a hundred, then others began to start prayer meetings; at last there was scarcely a street in New York that was without a prayer meeting. Merchants found time to run in, in the middle of the day to pray. The prayer meetings became daily ones, lasting for about an hour; petitions and requests were sent up, these were simply asked and offered before God, and the answers came; and many were the happy hearts that stood up and testified that the prayer offered last week had been already fulfilled. When they were all earnest in prayer, then suddenly the Spirit of God fell upon the people, and it was rumoured that in a certain village a preacher had been preaching in thorough earnest, and there had been hundreds converted in a week. The matter spread into and through the Northern States—these revivals of religion became universal, and it has been sometimes said that a quarter million people were converted to God within two or three months. Now the same effect was produced in Ballymena and Belfast by the same means. The brother thought that it lay at his heart to pray, and he did pray, then he held a regular prayer meeting, day after day they met together to entreat the blessing, and fire descended and the work was done. Sinners were converted, not by ones or twos but by hundreds and thousands, and the Lord’s name was greatly magnified by the progress of his gospel. Beloved, I am only telling you facts. Each of you make your own evaluation of them if you please.

14. II. Agreeable to my division, I have now to make a few observations upon THE DISADVANTAGES UNDER WHICH THESE OLD STORIES FREQUENTLY LABOUR. When people hear about what God used to do, one of the things they say is: “Oh, that was a very long while ago.” They imagine that times have altered since then. One says: “I can believe anything about the Reformation—the largest accounts that can possibly be given, I can accept.” “And so could I concerning Whitfield and Wesley,” says another, “all that is quite true, they laboured vigorously and successfully, but that was many years ago. Things were in a different state than from what they are now.” Granted; but I want to know what the things have to do with it. I thought it was God who did it. Has God changed? Is he not an immutable God, the same yesterday, today and for ever? Does not that furnish an argument to prove that what God has done at one time he can do at another? No, I think I may push it a little further, and say what he has done once, is a prophecy of what he intends to do again—that the mighty works which have been accomplished, in the olden time shall all be repeated, and the Lord’s song shall be sung again in Zion, and he shall again be greatly glorified. Others among you say, “Oh well, I look upon these things as great prodigies—miracles. We are not to expect them every day.” That is the very reason why we do not have them. If we had learned to expect them, we should no doubt obtain them, but we put them up on the shelf, as being out of the common order of our moderate religion, as being mere curiosities of scriptural history. We imagine such things, however true, to be prodigies of providence; we cannot imagine them to be according to the ordinary working of his mighty power. I beseech you, my friends, away with that idea, put it out of your mind. Whatever God has done in the way of converting sinners is to be looked upon as a precedent, for “his arm is not shortened that he cannot save, not is his ear heavy that he cannot hear.” If we are constrained at all, we are not constrained in him, we are constrained in our own heart. Let us take the blame for it ourselves, and with earnestness seek that God would restore to us the faith of the men of old, that we may richly enjoy his grace as in the days of old. Yet there is yet another disadvantage under which these old stories labour. The fact is, we have not seen them. Why, I may talk to you ever so long about revivals, but you will not believe them half so much, nor half so truly, as if one were to occur in your very midst. If you saw it with your own eyes, then you would see the power of it. If you had lived in Whitfield’s day, or had heard Grimshaw preach,1 you would believe anything. Grimshaw would preach twenty-four times a week: he would preach many times in the course of a sultry day, going from place to place on horseback. That man did preach. It seemed as if heaven would come down to earth to listen to him. He spoke with a real earnestness, with all the fire of zeal that ever burned in mortal man, and the people trembled while they listened to him, and said, “Certainly this is the voice of God.” It was the same with Whitfield. The people would seem to move to and fro while he spoke, even as the harvest field is moved with the wind. So mighty was the energy of God that after hearing such a sermon the hardest hearted men would go away and say, “There must be something in it, I never heard the like.” Can you not realise these as literal facts? Do they stand up in all their brightness before your eyes? Then I think the stories you have heard with your ears should have a true and proper effect upon your lives.

15. III. This brings me in the third place to the PROPER INFERENCES THAT ARE TO BE DRAWN FROM THE OLD STORIES OF GOD’S MIGHTY DEEDS.

16. I wish that I could speak with the fire of some of those men whose names I have mentioned. Pray for me, that the Spirit of God may rest upon me, that I may plead with you for a little time with all my might, seeking to exhort and stir you up, that you may have a similar revival in your midst. My dear friends, the first effect which the reading of the history of God’s mighty works should have upon us, is that of gratitude and praise. Have we nothing to sing about today?—then let us sing concerning days of yore. If we cannot sing to our Well Beloved a song concerning what he is doing in our midst, let us, nevertheless, take down our harps from the willows, and sing an old song, and bless and praise his holy name for the things which he did for his ancient church, for the wonders which he did in Egypt, and in all the lands where he led his people, and from which he brought them out with a high hand and with an outstretched arm. When we have thus begun to praise God for what he has done, I think I may venture to impress upon you one other great duty. Let what God has done suggest to you the prayer that he would repeat similar signs and wonders among us. Oh! men and brethren, what would this heart feel if I could only believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival of religion—men whose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessions that God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations. Why, see in this present assembly what objects there are for our compassion. Glancing around, I observe one and another whose history I may happen to know, but how many are there still unconverted—men who trembled and who know they have, but have shaken off their fears, and once more are daring their destiny, determined to be suicides to their own souls and to put away from them that grace which once seemed as if it was striving in their hearts. They are turning away from the gates of heaven, and running post haste to the doors of hell; and will you not stretch out your hands to God to stop them in this desperate resolve? If out of this congregation there would be only one unconverted man and I could point him out and say: “There he sits, one soul that has never felt the love of God, and never has been moved to repentance,” with what anxious curiosity would every eye regard him? I think out of thousands of Christians here, there is not one who would refuse to go home and pray for that solitary unconverted individual. But, oh! my brethren, it is not one who is in danger of hell fire; here are hundreds and thousands of our fellow creatures.

17. Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? So far all other means have been used without effect. God is my witness how often I have striven in this pulpit to be the means of the conversion of men. I have preached my very heart out. I could say no more than I have said, and I hope the secrecy of my room is a witness to the fact that I do not cease to feel when I cease to speak; but I have a heart to pray for those of you who are never affected, or who, if affected, still quench the Spirit of God. My hearers, I have done my utmost. Will you not come to the help of the Lord against the mighty? Will your prayers not accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Here they are; I commend them to you. Men and women whose hearts refuse to melt, whose stubborn knees will not bend; I give them up to you and ask you to pray for them. Carry their cases on your knees before God. Wife! never cease to pray for your unconverted husband. Husband! never stop your supplication until you see your wife converted. And, oh fathers and mothers! have you no unconverted children? have you not brought them here many and many a Sunday, and they remain just as they have been? You have sent them first to one chapel and then to another, and they are just what they were. The wrath of God abides on them. They must die; and should they die now, to a certainty you are aware that the flames of hell must engulf them. And do you refuse to pray for them? Hard hearts, brutish souls, if knowing Christ yourself will you not pray for those who come from your own loins—your children according to the flesh?

18. Dear friends, we do not know what God may do for us if we would only pray for a blessing. Look at the movement we have already seen; we have witnessed Exeter Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey, crammed to the doors, but we have seen no results as yet from all these mighty gatherings. Have we not tried to preach without trying to pray? Is it not likely that the church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? Oh dear friends! let us agonize in prayer, and it shall come to pass that this Music Hall shall witness the sighs and groans of the penitent and the songs of the converted. It shall yet happen that this vast host shall not come and go as now it does, only a little the better; but men shall go out of this hall, praising God and saying:—“It was good to be there; it was none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven.” Thus much to stir you up to prayer.

19. Another inference we should draw is that all the stories we have heard should correct any self-dependence which may have crept into our treacherous hearts. Perhaps we as a congregation have begun to depend upon our numbers and so forth. We may have thought: “Surely God must bless us through the ministry.” Now let the stories which our fathers have told us remind you, and remind me, that God does not save by many nor by few; that it is not in us to do this but God must do it all; it may be that some hidden preacher, whose name has never been known, some obscure denizen of St. Giles will yet rise up in this city of London and preach the Lord with greater power than bishops or ministers have ever known before. I will welcome him; God be with him; let him come from wherever he may; only let God speed him, and let the work be done. Maybe, however, God intends to bless the agency used in this place for your good and for your conversion. If so, I am thrice happy to think such should be the case. But place no dependence upon the instrument. No, when men laughed at us and mocked us most, God blessed us most; and now it is not a disreputable thing to attend the Music Hall. We are not so much despised as we once were, but I question whether we have so great a blessing as once we had. We would be willing to endure another pelting in the pillory, to go through another ordeal with every newspaper against us, and with every man hissing and abusing us, if God so pleases, if he will only give us a blessing. Only let him cast out of us any idea that our own bow and sword will get us victory. We shall never have a revival here unless we believe that it is the Lord, and the Lord alone, that can do it.

20. Having made this statement, I will endeavour to stir you up with confidence that the result may be obtained that I have pictured, and that the stories we have heard of the olden time, may become true in our day. Why should not every one of my hearers be converted? Is there any limitation in the Spirit of God? Why should not the feeblest minister become the means of salvation to thousands? Is God’s arm shortened? My brethren, when I bid you to pray that God would make the ministry quick and powerful, like a twoedged sword, for the salvation of sinners, I am not giving you a hard, much less an impossible, task. We have only to ask and to receive. Before we call, God will answer; and while we are yet speaking he will hear. God alone can know what may come of this morning’s sermon, if he chooses to bless it. From this moment on you may pray more; from this moment on God may bless the ministry more. From this hour on other pulpits may become more full of life and vigour than before. From this same moment the Word of God may flow, and run, and rush, and obtain for itself an amazing and boundless victory. Only wrestle in prayer, meet together in your houses, go to your closets, be instant, be earnest in season and out of season, agonize for souls, and all that you have heard shall be forgotten in what you shall see; and all that others have told you shall be as nothing compared with what you shall hear with your ears and see with your eyes in your own midst. Oh you, to whom all this is as an idle tale, who do not love God, neither serve him, I beseech you stop and think for a moment. Oh, Spirit of God, rest on your servant while a few sentences are uttered, and make them mighty. God has striven with some of you. You have had your times of conviction. You are trying now, perhaps, to be infidels. You are trying to say now—“There is no hell—there is no hereafter.” It will not do. You know there is a hell and all the laughter of those who seek to ruin your souls cannot make you believe that there is not. You sometimes try to think so, but you know that God is true. I do not argue with you now. Conscience tells you that God will punish you for sin. Depend upon it—you will find no happiness in trying to stifle God’s Spirit. This is not the path to bliss, to quench those thoughts which would lead you to Christ. I beseech you, take off your hands from God’s arm; do not resist his Spirit still. Bow the knee and lay hold of Christ and believe on him. It will come to this yet. God the Holy Spirit will have you. I do trust that in answer to many prayers he intends to save you yet. Give way now, but oh, remember if you are successful in quenching the Spirit, your success will be the most awful disaster that can ever occur to you, for if the Spirit forsakes you, you are lost. It may be that this is the last warning you will ever have. The conviction you are now trying to put down and stifle may be the last you will have, and the angel standing with the black seal and the wax may be now about to drop it upon your destiny, and say, “Let him alone. He chooses drunkenness—he chooses lust—let him have them; and let him reap the wages in the everlasting fires of hell.” Sinners, believe on the Lord Jesus: repent and be converted every one of you. I am bold to say what Peter did. Breaking through every bond of every kind that could bind my lip, I exhort you in God’s name repent and escape from damnation. A few more months and years, and you shall know what damnation means, unless you repent. Oh! flee to Christ while yet the lamp holds out and burns, and mercy is still preached to you. Grace is still presented; accept Christ, do not resist him any longer; come to him now. The gates of mercy are wide open today; come now, poor sinner, and have your sins forgiven. When the old Romans used to attack a city, it was sometimes their custom to set up at the gate a white flag, and if the garrison surrendered while that white flag was there, their lives were spared. After that the black flag was put up, and then every man was put to the sword. The white flag is up today; perhaps tomorrow the black flag will be elevated upon the pole of the law; and then there is no repentance or salvation either in this world or in that which is to come. An old eastern conqueror when he came to a city used to light a brazier of coals, and, setting it high upon a pole he would, with sound of trumpet proclaim, that if they surrendered while the lamp held out and burned he would have mercy upon them, but that when the coals were out he would storm the city, pull it stone from stone, sow it with salt, and put men, women, and children, to a bloody death. Today the thunders of God bid you to heed a similar warning. There is your light, the lamp, the brazier of hot coals. Year after year the fire is dying out, nevertheless there is coal left. Even now the wind of death is trying to blow out the last live coal. Oh! sinner, turn while the lamp continues to blaze. Turn now, for when the last coal is dead your repentance cannot avail you. Your everlasting yelling in torment cannot move the heart of God; your groans and briny tears cannot move him to pity you. Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the provocation. Oh, today lay hold on Christ, “Kiss the Son, lest he is angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled only a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.”

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Footnotes

  1. William Grimshaw 1708-1763.

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