2692. Church Increase

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Church Increase

No. 2692-46:433. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, August 18, 1881, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 16, 1900.

The children whom you shall have, after you have lost the others, shall say again in your ears, “The place is too small for me: give me a place where I may live.” Then you shall say in your heart, “Who has begotten these for me, since I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and wandering to and fro? And who has brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where have they been?” {Isa 49:20,21}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2692, “Church Increase” 2693}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2776, “Church a Mother, The” 2777}
   Exposition on Isa 49:1-23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2703, “Preservation of Christians in the World, The” 2704 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Isa 49:13-26 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2265, “Harvest Joy” 2266 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Re 7:9-17 Isa 49 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3238, “Vision of the King, A” 3240 @@ "Exposition"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Isa 49:21"}

1. Men who have no grace in their hearts despise the Church of God. Those who have only a little grace have only slight sympathy with her condition. Men who have great grace, and are conscious of having received much mercy from God, have great sympathy with the Church of God, and a deep regard for her. You remember how David, in that memorable penitential Psalm, the 51st, after he had poured out his whole soul in pleading for mercy and forgiveness for himself, concluded his prayer by saying, “Do good in your good pleasure to Zion: build the walls of Jerusalem.” In the same way, those who have needed mercy, and have pleaded for mercy, and have received much mercy, are usually those who are most anxious that the people of God should be happy, that the cause of God should prosper, that the truth of God should speedily overthrow error, and that the Christ of God should be exalted and glorified on the earth.

2. I do not expect to say anything on this subject which will interest those who have no love for the Church of God; but those who belong to her, and who are spending their lives to promote her welfare because she is the bride of Christ, will, I trust, find something in what I say which will interest and perhaps encourage them. I shall come at once to the text, and notice that, first, we must expect a measure of decrease in the Church; but then, secondly, we may expect a great increase in the Church; and, thirdly, from what this text has to say on that subject, and for other reasons also, we ought to be encouraged to seek the increase of the Church of God.

3. I. First, then, dear friends, THERE IS A DECREASE GOING ON IN THE CHURCH OF GOD ON EARTH.

4. Zion is represented here as mourning for the children whom she had lost. The Jewish Church in the olden times saw her sons and daughters slain with the sword, or carried away captive. Afterwards, she saw the great majority of the nation refusing Christ, and turning away from him, and so the Jewish Church was diminished and brought very low. The same thing has happened in many other cases, and I am going to apply the text to ourselves and our own churches. We must naturally expect to see, in each individual church of Jesus Christ, a certain process and measure of decrease.

5. For, first, some are being drafted from us to supply the choirs of heaven with new singers. That is a happy source of loss which we would not stop if we could. Perhaps, in the case of each sheaf that is gathered into the heavenly garner, there are some who would gladly detain it, to the loss of that particular sheaf, and also to the loss of the great Farmer. When we speak as we ought concerning those who are taken home like this, we thank God that, when the sheaves of grain are fully ripe, they are no longer left in the field to suffer through the falling showers or the blighting mildew, but they are carried away to their proper place in the garner of God.

6. Therefore, beloved, do not bury the saints with dolorous music, but sing psalms of praise as you bear them to the grave. I like the old Puritan style of funeral, when the body of the believer was borne to the tomb on men’s shoulders, and the surviving friends sang psalms and hymns as they marched along. Their faith taught them that they had no need to sorrow as those who are without hope, so they took care always to mingle the music of a joyful faith with the tears that they shed over the departure of those who had fallen asleep in Christ. So let it always be with us. As star by star descends below the horizon of earth, it shines far more brightly in the skies above. Should not Jesus have his own? Is it not still his prayer, “Father, I will that they also, whom you have given to me, be with me where I am; so that they may behold my glory?” Should we wish to detain them from their Lord’s embrace, or rob the Master of the satisfaction of receiving home his loved ones? No; certainly not. That source of decrease has recently taken away some of the godliest and most gracious of ministers. Some of the officers of the church, who seemed to be its pillars, have been removed; and others, less known, but equally gracious, have also been missed from our midst. So it must continue to be; therefore, let us not rebel against the blessed necessity. Who among us would wish to alter the Lord’s arrangement? No; let this form of decrease still go on, and let the Church on earth be the nursery for the Church above; let it be the school, the place of education, the training ground, until the children shall come of age, and enter on their inheritance fully prepared to enjoy it to the praise and glory of their Lord.

7. Each individual church will also have a measure of decrease through the relocation of God’s servants from one place to another. This is a circumstance which is sometimes much regretted, but I think it should not be so. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Often, the departure of a Christian from a particular place is in order that he may be more helpful to another community than he is in his present position. I have frequently seen brethren, who were just ordinary members of this church, good, useful people, but they did not attain to any very great prominence; yet, in another place, they have been extremely useful. I go into the country to preach, and the deacon shakes hands with me, and as I look at him, I say, “Ah! I remember you.” “Well, sir,” he replies, “I moved away from London, some years ago, and the Lord has been pleased to put me here, so that I may help this little cause. It has been strengthened, I hope, by my coming”; and I find the brother greatly developed by being transplanted. He is in the place where the trees do not stand so thickly together as they do here, and he grows all the better for the change. Sometimes, under the shadow of some great tree, there is a large number of saplings, and they grow there pretty well. But, eventually, the big tree is cut down; and it is not altogether a loss, for then the smaller trees, that were beneath it, begin to develop, and to become strong forest trees themselves. So it is, sometimes, that men are overshadowed in one position, and their departure is for their own development. On the whole, it is a gain for the Church of God for certain churches to lose some of their members. Do not, therefore, always regret this source of decrease. For my part, I thank God for the many whom we lose by emigration. I am glad that some friends have gone to America. What would the United States have been, at this moment, if it had not been for “the men of the Mayflower” in the olden times, and the many pilgrim fathers and pilgrim sons who have since gone across the Atlantic to be as salt in that part of the earth? Look still further away to Australia, so largely populated by those who are of our nation. What a mercy that it is so! Would you have those lands given up to Romanism, or to Mohammedanism, or to Paganism? God forbid! Salt ought not to be kept in a box; it is meant to be rubbed into the meat, and Christians are intended to be scattered all over the carcass of this world, to salt it all, and act with purifying and preserving power in every place. Do not let the members of any one church, therefore, sit down, and sigh, and cry, because their fellow members are removed. There are as many good fish in the sea as ever came out of it, so try to catch some more. If your brothers and sisters are gone where they can be more useful, may God prosper them! Freely and cheerfully let them go. A heart that should try to keep all the blood within itself would be no source of life for the body; no, it could not live by itself; but the heart that continually pumps in the blood and then pumps it out again, is the one that is serving its proper purpose. That is how churches should do; let them not be parsimonious, but rather prodigal in the cause of God. Depend on it that, if we decrease in numbers because our friends depart to other spheres of service for the Saviour, it is not a thing to weep over. We must try to get in some new members to take their places, and may God prosper the endeavour!

8. But there is another source of decrease over which we must greatly grieve, and that is, the backsliding of many professors. Over this decrease I mourn even more than over another, grievous as that is, namely, the sifting process by which the chaff is removed from the wheat. For, when the saints backslide, they are still God’s people, although their power for good, their influence, their help to the Church of God is gone until they are brought back, and that is very lamentable. Churches lose much, if not in number, yet certainly in strength, in fervour, in power of prayer, by the declining in grace of some who once ran well, but who have been hindered. Pray much, dear friends, that God would keep all who are members with us from growing cold. May they have their first love restored, if it is at all declining; and may they have much more than that, for it is little to remain just as we were when we were spiritually made alive! We ought to “grow in grace.” Our first love should be like the kindling of the fire when, perhaps, there are shavings or straw set on fire, and it burns apparently more fiercely than it does afterwards; yet, later on in the Christian life, there ought to be a steady flame like the glow of the coals when they are turned in the grate to one solid ruby. That steady glow of permanent love for the Lord Jesus Christ is what we should seek after; but we do not see it in some of our fellow members. Then, eventually, they cease their attendance at the communion, and they are missing from various forms of Christian work and service, and so the church has inefficient members, and so it has to regret a real decrease.

9. As for that other decrease over which we mourn, — the sifting by which the chaff is separated from the wheat, — how sadly true it still is, as the beloved apostle wrote, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, so that it might be revealed that they were not all of us.” There is a separating process always going on in the professing church, and the most effective fan of all is a faithful ministry. After a while, some of our hearers do not like what we say; it is too personal, too cutting, too searching. They want to listen to that kind of preaching which will allow them to go on comfortably in their sins, and to keep up a name to live even while they are dead. How constantly our Lord’s teaching kept on sifting his disciples! After one of his utterances concerning human inability apart from divine grace, we read, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” As he continually brought out some of the deeper truths as his disciples were able to bear them, there were certain of the mixed multitude that had joined with his followers who went off this way and that way. So it always is, and so it must be, under the faithful preaching of the Word; and you must not be astonished or grieved when it is so. It is a gain to any church to lose such members as these, for the mixed multitude usually falls to lusting as it did in the olden time. Half the sin in the camp in the wilderness did not come from the children of Israel, but from the riff-raff and rabble who went up out of Egypt with them, and who were mixed among them to their harm.

10. Do not, dear friends, ever believe that the true saints of God can finally turn away from him, and be lost. There was a notable sermon preached, last Sunday, in St. Paul’s Cathedral, against the perseverance of the saints. Did you notice why it was preached, and the whole tone and tenor of it? It was this. If the saints shall finally persevere, why, then, we do not need “the sacraments.” Ah, that is the great secret! Calvinism is the death of priestcraft; Calvinism is the end of Sacramentalism; and, hence, “sacraments” must be extolled, and God’s everlasting love is to be proved to be mutable, and the covenant to be founded on an “if” and an “an,” and the Christ of God is, after all, to be just a toy for “priests” to play with! The preacher, perhaps unintentionally, let the cat out of the bag; “the sacraments” must be extolled, “the priests” must be kept up, and everything else must go; but we do not believe any such teaching as that. We still hold that, when Christ gives to his sheep eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of his hands. Yet there are some who come in among his sheep who are only goats or wolves in sheep’s clothing; and, after a time, these depart, and so the church apparently decreases. But so it must be to the end, even as Judas went to his own place, yet the apostles did not really lose by his departure, they were rather the gainers by it; and as those who are not true converts go out from her, the church need not lament except for their sakes, — certainly, not for her own.

11. I have brought this subject forward because I may be addressing some brethren who see the tide running out in their churches, and they are very sad as they watch the ebb. I have not seen much of that kind of thing myself, but the least ebb troubles me, and I go before God in prayer about it. I cannot bear really to lose one of the members of my church, or to see one of them turn aside from the company of the faithful. Yet there is another side to this picture, and we must not shut our eyes to it.

12. II. So I ask you now to consider with me the second part of our subject; that is, THERE IS AN INCREASE TO BE EXPECTED IN THE CHURCH OF GOD. There are new converts yet to come in, as my text says, — these children whom Zion is to have, after she has lost the others.

13. And, brethren, these new converts are necessary. No church can be healthy without the constant infusion of fresh blood. Unless there are new converts, you cannot see the church built up. They often help to keep the old members warm and zealous. How I like, at a prayer meeting, to hear a brother pray for the first time; and I am not greatly grieved even if he breaks down, for it is the best kind of praying in the world when a man breaks down. Such an incident puts a sense of reality into the whole meeting. Our good old friends, who could not break down, but must inevitably run on until the winding was all worked out, were not always the most edifying to us. But those who, from very passion of earnestness, cannot find words in which to express their feelings, and so come to a pause with a sigh or groan, or a flood of tears, often do us the most good. The young converts are also quick in inventing new ways of usefulness, and they venture to do things which some consider “imprudent.” Oh, how I love that word “imprudent” in such a context! I like “imprudent” young people. The more “imprudent” they are, in the cause of God, in the judgment of stolid, cold-hearted professors, the more I rejoice in them; for imprudence which believes in God, and dares to do exploits in his strength, is far preferable to that prudence which has no faith, and is therefore a poor, dead, useless thing.

14. So you see that the church needs new converts; and, therefore, she ought to have every preparation for their reception. There should always be an arrangement in every church to afford a welcome to the coming ones. Everything should be in readiness for the reception of the new-born converts. They should scarcely have to ask for admission; and, certainly, as soon as they come, they should see that it is the church’s joy to welcome them. Hence we should always be on the look-out for them; we ought to look for new converts every Sunday. I do not think any sermon ought to be preached without each one of you Christian people saying, “I wonder whether God has blessed the message to this stranger who has been sitting next to me. I will ask a gentle question of him, and see if I can find out.” I have known some hearers to be annoyed at such a question being asked of them by an earnest brother. Do not be annoyed, dear friend, if you can help it, because you are very likely to be treated in that way again. It is our custom to do it here, so you will have to put up with it; and the only way to get over the annoyance is to give your heart to Christ, and settle the matter once and for all. Then, the next time you come here, you will not be asked the question because they will know who you are, for they will recognise your happy face; or if anyone else should ask you the question, you will give such a glad answer to it that both of you will rejoice together.

15. We expect people to be converted when they come here. So much is this the case that I know a friend, who came to take a seat, — I will not point it out, but I know just where he is now occupying it; — and he said that he must see me before he took the seat. He said, “I understand that, if I take a seat here, you will expect me to be converted.” I said, “Oh, yes! I do expect that.” “Well,” he replied, “I cannot guarantee that.” “No, my good man,” I answered, “I know you cannot; but you use the word ‘expect’ in a different sense from what I do. I hope you will be converted through coming here; that is what I mean.” “Oh!” he said, “I hope so, too”; and that is just what did happen. When people come to the house of God, and they expect to be saved, and we expect it, too, it is tolerably certain that they will be converted before long; we may rejoice and bless God if you live in an atmosphere of holy expectancy. Where the great door stands wide open for the prodigal son to come back, where all in the house are on the watch for his return, where they keep on sending letters to him to ask him to come home, is there not a good hope that such a wanderer will indeed return, and that the great Father will be made glad?

16. Churches need converts, and they should be on the look-out for them, and all who love the Lord should labour earnestly on their behalf. All of us, who believe in Jesus, should seek, as God helps us according to our individual talent, to bring others to the dear Saviour’s feet. If we do this, we shall often be made to remember that all true conversion comes from God alone. There is no possibility of converting anyone by persuasion, by logic, by rhetoric, or anything of the kind. It is the work of God, and the work of God alone; and though he uses instrumentality in almost every case, yet he will not use that instrumentality which thinks itself sufficient for the work. He will make us know that we are nothing, and then he will make everything of us. He does not mind how much he makes of his servants when all that he does for them brings the more glory to his own name, and they do not, even with their little finger, touch its honour, or wish to do so.

17. When we come to that point, and we are all pleading and labouring for an increase to the church, it will come; and when it comes, it is probable that we shall be astonished at the number of those who come: “The children whom you shall have, after you have lost the others, shall say again in your ears, ‘The place is too small for me: give me a place where I may live’ ”; or, to quote another text, the church shall say, “Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like the doves to their roosts?” I wish I could put it into the heads of some Christian people that, when there are large additions to a church, the new members are not necessarily at all inferior to those who come in by slow degrees, and in small numbers. My own solemn impression is, that it is more probably a work of God in conversion when there are many than when there are only a few. For, look, when there are few converts, the tendency of human nature is to encourage as many as possible to come forward; and, in the process, to bring some who, if more caution had been used, and more true judgment exercised, might have been told to hold off for a while. The tendency of the minister, and of everyone else, is to try to bring in some when only a few are being converted; and the probability is that all of them will not prove to be true Christians. But when there are a great many candidates coming forward, I can vouch for it that we become even more earnest than usual not to receive any except those who are, so far as we can judge, truly converted. Every elder is doubly watchful at such a time; and everyone tries, if possible, to prevent an enthusiasm which might deceive people into the notion of their being Christians when they are not. We feel that we can afford, as it were, to use many sieves and strainers, many tests, by which to try whether they really are the children of God or not, — whether they are resolved and determined that they will follow Christ at all costs.

18. I do not say this as though I would depreciate the work of God in the conversion of ones, and twos, and threes. No, no; I bless God for them; but I want to make it clear that, when great numbers of converts come, it is wrong of people, for that reason, to think that it is not the work of God. I should, on the contrary, conclude that it is the work of God when many are saved at one time. If Peter, when he preached on the day of Pentecost, had been the means of the conversion of half-a-dozen of his hearers, it would have been a thing for which to praise God, and no one ought to have suspected the genuineness of the half-dozen; but, since Peter’s ministry was blessed by God to three thousand, there was not any the more reason to say that there was one too many. Remember, also, dear friends, that they were all baptized before night, and the entire three thousand were received into the church that same day. Many critics might have said, “Oh, dear! there is far too much excitement.” Are you afraid of excitement, brother? You have excitement in political affairs, you have excitement in business matters, you have excitement in your family. What excitement there was in your house when only one little stranger came there; and shall there be no excitement in the Church of God when souls are born there? Why, surely we may be permitted to share in a divine excitement, for there is an excitement in heaven. Our Lord Jesus has told us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” There was considerable excitement when the prodigal son came home; it was so great that they killed the fatted calf, and had a festival of joy; there was holy merriment in the house, it was the scene of intense excitement; and I think, within reasonable bounds, within such bounds as true reason would dictate, from the great events that are happening, — for the conversion of a soul is the grandest event in human history next to redemption, — there must be a blessed excitement among the people of God.

19. Dear friends, expect great numbers of sinners to be converted by the proclamation of the gospel. I remember praying, when I went to preach in the great shed at Bedford, belonging to Mr. Howard, the plough-maker, that God would be pleased to bring at least a few souls to himself by that service. Dear old Mr. Howard, a Wesleyan friend, who has since gone home to heaven, kept on saying, “Amen, Amen, Amen” while I was praying; but he did not say “Amen” to that particular petition. When I went home to the house, he said to me, “I joined with you in all your prayer except when you asked that God would at least convert a few people. Why, my dear friend,” he said, “did you not pray that God would convert every soul there?” I said, “I will tonight, Mr. Howard. I am rebuked by what you have said.” We do not ask enough from God. Open your mouth wide, and he will fill it. Oh, that we would open our mouths wide in large requests to God that he would bring in the converts by hundreds of thousands to the glory of his holy name!

20. The next thing that was a subject for astonishment to Zion was, how those converts came to be born at all. She enquired, in the language of the text, “Who has begotten these for me?” The reason was that she did not feel as if she had any power to give birth to all these. “Why,” she said, “I have been in a truly sad state. ‘I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and wandering to and fro.’ How did it ever happen that all these should be my children?” Ah, brethren! sometimes we ask the same question. Yesterday, I had a joyful day; all the bells of my heart rang. While many of you have been away at the seaside, I thought there was a little difference in the numbers coming to hear; and when I sat to see enquirers, there did not seem to be quite as many as usual coming forward, and I was troubled about it; but I came yesterday, and I had so many sheaves that the cart was loaded with them, and my helpers came to me, every now and then, and said, “What a joyful day!” I do not know whether all the friends whom I saw yesterday are here, but they delighted my soul with the stories they told me of what the grace of God had done for them. I bless God and take courage as I see another great slice cut out of devildom, and transferred to the kingdom of Christ. Quite a number of people, who had never known the Lord, or anything about him, — outsiders altogether, — had dropped in here, and heard the Word, and found Christ; and they kept on coming, hour after hour, until I was weary with the blessed task of speaking to them one by one about their souls. And as I went home I kept saying to myself, “How has all this come about?” because I have often felt so dull and heavy when I have been preaching. “Who has begotten these for me?”

21. And, dear friends, if God blesses you in your Sunday School classes, you also will say, “However has this come about? What could I have said that could have brought my scholars to Christ?” If the Lord shall bless you much, my dear brother, in your preaching, you will more and more marvel that he ever should use such a poor tool as you are. I do not mean that you are a worse tool than I am, for I feel that I am an even poorer instrument than you are; but I often wonder that God uses me as he does, and I think you will also marvel that he uses you. When the church has grown feeble, when she has seemed to have no hope that God should bless her, and he then comes and visits her, and a multitude of converts is suddenly born, she may well say, “Who has begotten these for me, since I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and wandering to and fro?” Take comfort then, beloved, from the fact that, whatever the decreases in the church may be, we may also expect increase; but in their number, the converts will surprise us; and in their being converted at all, we shall greatly marvel.

22. But what Zion wondered about next was, how they had been nurtured, for she says, “Who has brought up these?” They were not merely born, but they had been brought up; and we also meet people, who come forward to tell us that they are converted to Christ; and they are by no means fools. No; but when we begin to question them concerning the things of God, they answer us sensibly and intelligently. They do not need us to lead them like little children, and to put the words into their mouth, for they know what to say; yet some of them have only been converted about a month, and they have not been used to hearing the gospel; but since they have heard it, they seem to have sucked it in like Gideon’s fleece drank in the dew. Many doctors of divinity make a dreadful muddle of their theology, but these dear converts are as clear as possible on what they believe; they have it all at their finger tips, and they can tell what “covenant” means, and what “substitution” means, and what “regeneration” means. We say, “Who has brought up these?” It seems so wonderful to us. Has it not often been so for you also, dear friends? Yet, all the while, we have been forgetting the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and we have said, “Why, my poor teaching could not have taught them all this.” No, nor has it taught them all this. There is a higher Teacher than the best of ministers, there is a better Teacher than the most earnest and the most advanced of Christians; and he still fulfils that gracious promise, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord.”

23. A further reason for wonder was, the sudden appearance of this great increase. Zion enquires, “These, where had they been?” Ah! that is just what I thought and said last night; and that is why I took this text, for it kept coming to my mind, “These, where had they been?” Some of them I had seen here for ever so long; but others of them I had never seen at all, except on two or three Thursday nights recently I noticed them, and perhaps at one or two prayer meetings, and I began to think that there was something good happening to them, or else they would not have come. So I kept saying to myself, as I went home, “These, where had they been?” A month ago, I could not have found them. “These, where had they been?” They have sprung up, and come forward all of a sudden through the blessed working of the Spirit of God.

24. “These, where had they been?” Shall I tell you where they had been? Some of them had been in godly families, with fathers and mothers praying for them. No wonder that they were saved by Christ. Some of them had been in the Sunday School, in classes where brothers and sisters love their children, and never rest until they bring them to a decision for Christ. It is not so very amazing that they should, eventually, come forward. “These, where had they been?” Well, they had been under the influence of Christian wives, Christian children, sometimes Christian brothers and sisters; and so, at last, the gracious influence took effect on them, by the power of God’s Spirit, and out they came. Thank God that there are still great numbers under those sacred influences, for they also are sure to come in due time, and say, “We are on the Lord’s side.”

25. Then there were some others. “Where had they been?” Well, they had long been listening to the gospel, regularly sitting in their pews; and we had heard of them as people who had been attracted by our ministry for twenty years, but who did not know the Lord. What a blessing it was for those who, even after the hardening influence of listening for so long to the gospel, the gospel had operated on them, — for it has such an influence in some cases, — yet, at last, God himself touched the rock, and the waters streamed out! There are some such people now coming forward to join us in church fellowship; let us pray for all the rest of our fellow worshippers who are unconverted, that they also may come after them.

26. But there were others whom I saw yesterday about whom I might well ask, “These, where had they been?” On the Lord’s day, at home in their shirtsleeves; on week-nights, at the theatre or the music hall, finding enjoyment in the lowest form of amusement. “Where had they been?” Never troubling church or chapel, some of them scarcely ever entering such an edifice at all; but God, in his providence, brought them for once to hear the Word, and, as one said to me, “I laid hold on something, and something laid hold on me, and I shall never part with it, for it will never part with me.” This is how it happened with many utterly irreligious people, those who had no fear or thought of God. And there were some worse still, who had gone into sin, and transgression, and crime; but they had been induced by some kind friend to come and listen to the gospel, so there they were to tell of “free grace and dying love,” and to testify what infinite mercy had done for them.

27. “These, where had they been?” Well, I cannot tell you where they had all been; some had been at death’s dark door, buried in sorrow and in sin, in poverty and in vice. Others, though they were not apparently so bad as these, were, notwithstanding, quite as much lost, for they were in the dark woods of self-righteousness, boasting that they were not as other men, and that they were as good as they ought to be, and so deceiving themselves. Now, it is just as much a marvel of mercy for God to save a self-righteous man as it is for him to save a drunkard or a prostitute, and it takes as much of the almighty grace of God to tear a man away from his own righteousness as to pull him away from his sin. Oh, the wonders of redeeming love that, out of every place, can fetch its thousands on thousands to make the church glad, and to cry in sweet surprise, “These, where had they been?”

28. III. I have no time to dwell on the third point, further than just to say that ALL THINGS SHOULD ENCOURAGE THIS CHURCH — and the same rule applies to every church that God blesses, — TO SEEK LARGER INCREASES.

29. For, first, dear brethren, there is the same power to convert ten thousand as there is to convert one. The Lord, who brought you in, can bring thousands in; and if he adds to our church some hundreds now and then, why should he not be constantly doing it? His arm is not shortened, and he is still ready to bless us.

30. Besides, we ought to be encouraged by the fact that the converts come in answer to prayer. Notice that these additions to our church have come just when we have been praying more than ever. Every Thursday night, before the service, there is a prayer meeting at 6 o’clock, in which a few friends gather specially to pray that their Pastor may be helped to preach; and tonight I suppose there were three or four hundred gathered together with that object, and it is real praying, let me tell you, — short, deep, earnest cries to God for a blessing; and the preacher cannot help preaching when he is prayed for like that. As that prayer meeting has increased in intensity and power, a blessing has already begun to come. Some of us are conscious of it; we cannot help seeing it. Is it possible for me not to believe in prayer? Can I deny that there is such a thing as the electric current when I see a tower shattered by the lightning flash? If I were fool enough, I could deny that; but I never could be such a fool as to deny the power of prayer which I see everyday exhibited in all kinds of things, and all kinds of ways. Very largely, in proportion as we pray, God blesses the Word. It has been so for years; and those who have been among us, and know, can bear witness that this is an unexaggerated statement of fact. Well, then, if that is so, let us pray; if prayer can be the means of bringing souls to Christ, let there be no stint in that matter.

31. And, further, since the converts come from all kinds of places, let us carry the gospel into all kinds of places. There is not any place of London, however bad it may be, where God may not have an elect soul in it. Go after him, then; down into the deepest kennel, in the worst court, in the filthiest houses, following the vilest occupation, there may be some whom God in mercy intends to bless through you; so go after them, and go after them at once. You can never tell where God’s chosen ones are. “These, where had they been?” is the question concerning those who have come to him; and where they were, there are others like them.

    How many sheep are straying,
       Lost from the Saviour’s fold!
    Upon the lonely mountain,
       They shiver with the cold;
    Within the tangled thickets,
       Where poison vines do creep,
    And over rocky ledges,
       Wander the poor lost sheep.
    Oh, come let us go and find them!
    In the paths of death they roam;
    At the close of the day
    ’Twill be sweet to say,
    “I have brought some lost one home.”

32. What a little thing God often blesses to save a soul, — a word from a sister, — a little note from a Christian woman, — half a word in these aisles! A man, who was never before spoken to about his soul, has not been pleaded with for five minutes before he comes under conviction of sin, and soon he finds the Saviour. The very smallest thing has been made the means of bringing souls to Christ. Will you not, dear friends, make use of those little things? Will you not use everything? Will you not be willing to spend and be spent for Christ in this blessed work of soul-saving? “In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand: for you do not know whether it shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be equally good.” Go on, dear brothers and sisters, to cry mightily to God, and to labour earnestly for him, until we shall, in glad surprise, bless and magnify his grace that multitudes are brought to him, and that his name is made to be even more renowned. Let us constantly have your prayers at home as well as here, and may the Lord be with you all! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Revivals and Missions — The Church Awakened” 965}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Holy Spirit — Pentecost” 449}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Ambassador” 369}


Public Worship, Revivals and Missions
965 — The Church Awakened
1 Daughter of Zion, from the dust
      Exalt thy fallen head;
   Again in thy Redeemer trust,
      He calls thee from the dead.
2 Awake, awake, put on thy strength,
      Thy beautiful array;
   The day of freedom dawns at length,
      The Lord’s appointed day.
3 Rebuild thy walls, thy bounds enlarge,
      And send thy heralds forth;
   Say to the south — “Give up thy charge,
      And keep not back, oh north.”
4 They come, they come: thine exiled bands,
      Where’er they rest or roam,
   Have heard thy voice in distant lands,
      And hasten to their home.
5 Thus, though the universe shall burn,
      And God his works destroy,
   With songs thy ransom’d shall return
      And everlasting joy.
                  James Montgomery, 1825.


Holy Spirit
449 — Pentecost
1 Great was the day, the joy was great,
   When the divine disciples met;
   Whilst on their heads the Spirit came,
   And sat like tongues of cloven flame.
2 What gifts, what miracles he gave!
   And power to kill, and power to save!
   Furnish’d their tongues with wondrous words,
   Instead of shields, and spears and swords.
3 Thus arm’d, he sent the champions forth,
   From east to west, from south to north;
   “Go, and assert your Saviour’s cause;
   Go, spread the mystery of his cross.”
4 These weapons of the holy war,
   Of what almighty force they are,
   To make our stubborn passions bow,
   And lay the proudest rebel low!
5 Nations, the learned and the rude,
   Are by these heavenly arms subdued;
   While Satan rages at his loss,
   And hates the doctrine of the cross.
6 Great King of Grace, my heart subdue,
   I would be led in triumph too,
   A willing captive to my Lord,
   And sing the victories of his word.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.


Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
369 — Ambassador
1 Jesus, commission’d from above,
   Descends to men below,
   And shows from whence the springs of love
   In endless currents flow.
2 He, whom the boundless heaven adores,
   Whom angels long to see,
   Quitted with joy those blissful shores,
   Ambassador to me!
3 To me, a worm, a sinful clod,
   A rebel all forlorn:
   A foe, a traitor, to my God,
   And of a traitor born.
4 To me, who never sought his grace,
   Who mock’d his sacred word:
   Who never knew or loved his face,
   But all his will abhorr’d
5 To me, who could not even praise
   When his kind heart I knew,
   But sought a thousand devious ways
   Rather than find the true:
6 Yet this redeeming Angel came
   So vile a worm to bless;
   He took with gladness all my blame,
   And gave his righteousness.
7 Oh that my languid heart might glow
   With ardour all divine!
   And, for more love than seraphs know,
   Like burning seraphs shine!
                     Ambrose Serle, 1786.

Spurgeon Sermons

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

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

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