2870. Revelation And Conversion

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Revelation And Conversion

No. 2870-50:73. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, January 23, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, February 11, 1904.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul. {Ps 19:7}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2870, “Revelation and Conversion” 2871}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3314, “God in Nature and in Revelation” 3316}
   Exposition on Ps 19 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2775, “David Warned and Rewarded” 2776 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 19 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2870, “Revelation and Conversion” 2871 @@ "Exposition"}

1. When he spoke of “the law of the Lord,” David did not merely mean the law as it was given in the ten commandments, although that also is perfect, and is used, to some extent, in the conversion of souls. The term includes the entire doctrine of God, — the whole divine revelation; and though, in David’s day, there was not so full and clear a revelation as we have, — for the New Testament was not then given, nor much of the Old Testament, yet the text has lost none of its former force, but has rather gained more; so I shall use it as applicable to the entire Scriptures, — to the law and to the gospel, and to all that God has revealed; and speaking of it in that sense, I may truly say that it is perfect, and that it converts the soul.

2. A tree is known by its fruit, and a book must be tested by its effects. There are some books which bear their fruit for the hangman and the jail; and such books are very widely spread nowadays. They are frequently embellished with engravings, and put into the hands of boys and girls, and a crop of criminals is constantly the result of their publication and circulation. There have been books written which have spread moral contagion throughout centuries. I need not mention them; but if it were possible to gather them all together in one heap, and burn them as the Ephesians burnt their books of magic, it would be one of the greatest conceivable blessings. Yet, if that were done, I fear that other wicked brains would be set to work to think out similar blasphemies, and that other hands would be found to scatter their vile productions.

3. The Word of God must be tested, like other books, by the effect which it produces; and I am going to speak on one of its effects to which many of us here present can bear personal witness. The old proverb says, “Speak as you find”; and I am going to speak of the Bible as I have found it, — to praise the bridge that has carried me over every difficulty until now, and that has carried a great many of you over also. We know that the law of the Lord is good because it converts the soul; and, to our mind, the best proof of its purity and power is that it has converted our soul.

4. My first object will be to show how the Word of God converts the soul; then to show the excellence of the work of conversion; and, therefore, thirdly, the excellence of that Book which produces conversion.

5. I. First, then, I am to show HOW THE WORD OF GOD CONVERTS THE SOUL.

6. Man’s face is turned away from his Maker. Ever since the fatal day when our first parents broke the law of God, all of us have been guilty of the same great crime. We stand as men who have their backs to the light, and we are going on the downward road, the road which leads to destruction. What we need is to be turned around, for that is the meaning of the word “converted” — turned right about. We need to hear the command, “Right about face,” and to march in the opposite direction from any in which we have ever marched before. Our text truly says that the Word of God turns us around. It does not mean that the Word alone does that apart from the Spirit of God, because a man may read the Bible through fifty times, and, for fifty years, hear sermons that have all come out of the Bible, and yet they will never turn him unless the Spirit of God makes use of the Word of God or the preacher’s sermons. But when the Spirit of God goes with the Word, then the Word becomes the instrument of the conversion of the souls of men.

7. This is how the work of conversion is accomplished. First, it is by the Scriptures of truth that men are made to see that they are in error. There are millions upon millions of men, in the world, who are going the wrong way, yet they do not know it; and there are tens of thousands, who believe that they are even doing God service, when they are utterly opposing him. Some who, as far as it is in their power, are even killing Christ, do not know what they are doing. One of the pleas that our Saviour used on the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” To take my own case, I know that, for years, I was not conscious of having committed any great sin. I had been, by God’s restraining grace, kept from outward immoralities, and from gross transgressions, and therefore I thought I was all right. Did I not pray? Did I not attend a place of worship? Did I not do what was right towards my fellow men? Did I not, even as a child, have a tender conscience? It seemed to me, for a time, that all was well; and, perhaps, I am addressing someone else who says, “Well, if I am not right, I wonder who is; and if I have gone wrong, where must my neighbours be going?” Ah, that is often the way we talk! As long as we are blind, we can see no faults in ourselves; but when the Spirit of God comes to us, and reveals to us the law of God, then we perceive that we have broken all of the ten commandments in the spirit, if not in the letter of them. Even the most chaste of men may well tremble when they remember that searching word of Christ, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” When you understand that the commandments of God not only forbid wrong actions, but also the desires, and imaginations, and thoughts of the heart, and that, consequently, a man may commit murder while he lies in his bed, — may rob his neighbour without touching a penny of his money or any of his goods, — may blaspheme God though he never uttered an oath, and may break all the commands of the law, from the first to the last, before he has put on his clothes in the morning; — when you come to examine your life in that light, you will see that you are in a very different condition than you thought you were in. Think, for example, of that solemn declaration of our Lord, “I say to you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account for it in the day of judgment.” It is by bringing home to the heart such truths as these that the Spirit of God, through the Word, makes a man see that he is in error, and in danger; and this is the beginning of his conversion. You cannot turn a man around as long as he believes he is going in the right way. While he has that idea in his head, he goes straight on, marching, as he supposes, safely; so the very first thing to be done to him is to let him see that there is a terrible precipice right before him, over which he will fall if he goes on as he is going. When he realizes that, he stops and considers his position.

8. Then the Word of God comes in, in the next place, to dissuade the man from all attempts to get right by wrong means. When a man knows that he is going wrong, his instinct should lead him to seek to get right; but, unhappily, many people try to get right by getting wrong in another direction. A good man sent me a volume of his poems, the other day. As soon as I looked into it, I saw that there was one line of the verse that was too short, and the good brother evidently felt that it was, so he tried to set the matter right by making the next line too long, which, as you see at once, made two faults instead of one. In the same way, you will find that men, who are wrong in one direction with regard to their fellow men, often become very superstitious, and go a great deal further in other directions than God asks them to go, and so, practically, make a long line towards God in order to make up for the short line towards men, and so they commit two errors instead of one. Here is a sheep that has gone astray; it has wandered so far to the east that, in order to get right, it tries to go just as far to the west; and if convinced that it is on the wrong road, all it does is to stray just as far to the north; and, eventually, to the south. It is wandering all the while in a different way, with the intent to get back to the fold; and, in this respect, sinners are just as silly as the sheep. Now, the Word of God tells a man that, by the works of the law, he cannot be justified; it tells him that his heart is defiled, that he himself is condemned already, that he is shut up under condemnation for having broken God’s law, and indicates to him that, whatever he may do, or however much he may struggle, if he does not seek salvation in God’s way, he will only make the bad worse, and be like a drowning man who sinks all the faster the more he struggles. When the Word of God shows a man that, and makes him feel though he were hopeless, helpless, shut up in the condemned cell, it has done a great deal towards turning him around.

9. The next thing the Word of God does is to show the man how he might get right. And, oh, how perfectly it shows him this! It comes to the man, and says to him, “Your sin deserves punishment. God has laid that punishment on his only-begotten Son; and, therefore, he is ready to forgive you freely for Christ’s sake, not because of anything good in you, or anything you ever can do, but entirely by his free mercy. He invites you trust yourself in the hands of Jesus that he may save you.” Come, then, and rely on what Christ has done, and is still doing for you, and believe in the mercy of God, in Christ Jesus, to all who trust him. Oh, how clearly the Word of God sets Christ before us! It is a kind of mirror in which he is revealed. Christ himself is up in heaven, and a poor sinner, down here on earth, cannot see him however long he looks; but this Word of the Lord is like a huge mirror, better even than Solomon’s molten sea; and Jesus Christ looks down into this mirror, and then, if you and I come and look into it, we can see the reflection of his face. Blessed be his holy name, it is true, as Dr. Watts sings, —

    Here I behold my Saviour’s face
       Almost in every page.

There is scarcely one chapter in which Christ is not, more or less clearly, presented as the Saviour of sinners. So the Word of God, you see, shows the man that he is in the wrong, takes him away from wrong ways of trying to get right, and then puts him in the way to get right, namely, by believing in Jesus.

10. But the Word of the Lord does more than that. In the power of the Holy Spirit, it helps the man to believe; for, at the first, he is quite staggered at the idea of free salvation, — instantaneous pardon, — the blotting out of sin all for nothing, — pardon for the worst and vilest freely given, and given now. The man says, “Surely, it is too good to be true.” He is filled with amazement, for God’s thoughts are as high above him, and as far out of his reach, as the heavens are above the earth. Then the Word comes to him, and says, “ ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord: ‘though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ ” The Word also says to him, “All kinds of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven to men.” The Word says, “The mercy of the Lord endures for ever.” “He delights in mercy.” “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins.” I need not go on repeating the texts with which I hope many of you have long been familiar. There is a great number of them, — precious promises, gracious invitations, and comforting doctrines; and, as the sinner reads them, with trembling gaze, the Spirit of God applies them to his soul, and he says, “I can and I do believe in Jesus. Lord, I do gladly accept your pardoning mercy. I look to him who was nailed to the cross, and I find in him the cure for the snake-bites of sin. I do and I will believe in Jesus, and venture my soul on him.” It is like this that the Word of God converts the soul, by helping the man to believe in Jesus.

11. And when it has done that, the man is converted; for when a man looks to Christ alone, he has turned his face towards God. Now, he has confidence in God, and out of this grows love for God, and now he desires to please God because God has been so very gracious in providing such a Saviour for him. The man is turned right around; from rebelling against God, he has come to feel intense gratitude for his Redeemer, and he seeks to live for God’s glory as he would never have thought of doing before.

12. I ask you, who are the people of God, whether you have not felt, since your conversion, the power of the Word of God in sustaining you in your converted condition. Do you not often feel, as you hear the gospel preached, your heart grow warm within you? Some time ago, when I went away for a week’s holiday, I was more than a little troubled about many things. I had been, for a long while, preaching to others, and I thought I would like to feel the power of the Word in hearing it myself. I went to a little chapel in the country, and there I heard a lay brother — I think he must have been an engineer — preach a sermon. There was nothing very grand in it, except that it was full of Christ; and as I listened to it, my tears began to flow. I wish that, sometimes, some of you, my brethren, would preach, and let me take my turn at listening. Well, on that occasion, my soul was melted as I heard the gospel proclaimed very simply, and I thought, “After all, I do feel its power; I do enjoy its sweetness”; for, while I listened to it, my heart overflowed with joy and delight, and I could only sit still and weep as I heard the simple story of the cross.

13. And have you not, beloved, often found it so, in your experience, as you have been reading the Word of the Lord? If you ever get dull in the things of God, it is not the Bible that has made you so. If your heart ever grows cold, it is not the promises of God that have made you cold. If ever you cannot sing, and cannot pray, it is not the searching of the Scriptures that has brought you into that condition; and if you ever have the misery of hearing a sermon that deadens your spiritual life, I am quite certain that that sermon is not in harmony with the mind of God, and not according to the teaching of the Word of God. But when you hear the gospel fully and faithfully preached, if your heart is at all capable of feeling its power, it stirs your spirit, it wakes you up, it produces holy emotions, — love for God, love for your fellow men, heart-searching, deep humiliation, ardent zeal, and all the Christian graces in full exercise. The Word of the Lord is perfect, and its effect is continually to restore and revive the soul of the Christian.

14. This has been to me one of the great evidences of the truth of inspiration. Standing alone at night, and looking up to the starry vault of heaven, I have asked myself, “Is this gospel, which I have believed, which I have preached to others for so many years, really true?” Being absolutely certain that there is a God, — for no one but a fool can doubt that, — I have said, “Well, this gospel has made me love God. I know I love him with all my heart and soul. And whenever it exerts its rightful power over me, it makes me try to please him. Whenever I am under its influence, it makes me hate all wrong, and all baseness, and all falseness. Now, it would be a very strange thing if a lie could lead a man to act like that, so it must be true.” The moral effect of the Word of God on one’s own nature, from day to day, becomes, in the absence of all other proof, — even if we had no other — the surest and best evidence for a man that “the law of the Lord is perfect,” for it converts his soul.

15. I once heard a charming story of Robert Hall, — that mightiest of our Baptist orators, — perhaps one of the greatest and most eloquent ministers who ever lived. He was subject to fits of terrible depression of spirits; and, one night, he had been snowed in, on his way to a certain place where he was going to preach. There was such a great depth of snow that he was obliged to stay for the night at the farmhouse where he had stopped. But he must preach, he said, he had prepared his discourse, and he must deliver it; so they brought in the servants, and the farm people, and he preached the sermon he had prepared, — a very wonderful one to be delivered in a farmhouse parlour; and after the others had all gone, he sat down by the fireside with the good man of the house, and he said to him, — a plain, country farmer, “Now tell me, Mr. So-and-so, what do you think is the best evidence of a man being a child of God, for I sometimes am afraid I am not one?” “Oh!” said the farmer, “my dear Mr. Hall, how can you talk like that?” “Well, what do you think is the best evidence that a man is really a child of God?” “Oh!” replied the farmer, “I feel sure that, if a man loves God, it must be all right with him.” “Then,” said the farmer, as he told the story, “you should have heard him speak. He said, ‘Love God, sir? Love God? If I were damned, I would still love him; he is such a blessed Being, — so holy, so true, so gracious, so kind, so just!’ He went on for an hour, praising God, the tears running down his cheeks as he kept on saying, ‘Love him! I cannot help loving him; I must love him. Whatever he does to me, I must love him.’ ” Well, now, I have felt just like that sometimes, and then I have said to myself, “What made me love the Lord like this? Why, what I have read about him in this blessed Book; and what I believe that he has done for me, in the person of his dear Son; and what brings me into such a state that I love him with all my nature, must be a right and a true thing.”

16. The Word of God is perfect, converting the soul. You will find it to be so the longer you live, and the more you test and try it. Whenever you go astray, it is because you get away from the Word of God; and as long as you are kept right, it is because you are drinking in the precious truth concerning Jesus as it is revealed in the Bible. That is the one perfect Book in the world, and it will make you also perfect if you will yield to its gracious influence. Only submit yourself to it, and you will, one day, become perfect, and be taken up to dwell where the perfect God, who wrote the perfect Book, will reveal to you the perfection of bliss for ever and for evermore. May God grant to you, dear brothers and sisters, to know the power of this converting Book! If any of you have backslidden, I pray that this same blessed Book may bring you back. I had a letter, the other day, from the backwoods of America, that did my heart good. It was from a man, who was one of my first converts at New Park Street Chapel. He had been for years a member of the church, but he grew cold, and ceased to attend the means of grace; and, at last, he had to be excommunicated from the church. He went out to America; and there, far away, he began to examine himself, and the Spirit of God brought home to his heart the old texts which he used to hear. He writes that he was brought to his knees, and now he is actively engaged in the service of God, endeavouring to bring other backsliders and sinners to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Word of God that will restore you, backslider; I hope it will do so this very hour, and that, soon, you will come to us, and say, “Take me into the church again, for the Lord has restored me to fellowship with him through his blessed Word.”

17. II. I must be very brief on the second part of my subject, which is, THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS WORK OF CONVERSION. That is a boundless theme, but I must be content just to touch on a few points of this excellence.

18. When the Word of God converts a man, it takes away from him his despair, but it does not take from him his repentance. He does not now think that his sin will cast him into hell, but he does not therefore think that his sin is a trifle. He hates the sin as much as if he feared that it would destroy him for ever. That is a grand kind of conversion, — that the man, who had been in despair because of his sin, is made to know that his sin is forgiven, and yet he is not led to trifle or tamper with sin. By faith, he sees the wounds of Jesus, and he knows how Christ bled to set him free from the bondage of sin, and that makes him hate sin for ever. Is that not an excellent conversion?

19. True conversion also gives a man pardon, but does not make him presumptuous. His past transgression is all forgiven him, but he does not, therefore, say, “I will go, and transgress in the same way again. If pardon is so easily obtained, why should I not sin?” If a truly converted man ever talked like that; or, if such a thought ever occurred to him, he must have said at once, “Get behind me, Satan, for you do not savour the things that are of God.” Such talks as that would be diabolical. “Shall we sin, so that grace may abound? God forbid!” Though the man is pardoned, he hates sin as the burnt child dreads the fire. He is afraid lest, by any inadvertent step, he should grieve his Lord, who has blotted out the past.

20. Further, true conversion gives a man perfect rest, but does not stop his progress. He knows that the work that has saved him is the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he does not have to add even one thread to the robe of righteousness which has been given to him; yet he desires to grow in grace, to become holier and holier, more like his Lord and Master. While he perfectly rests in Christ, he spreads the wings of his soul so that he may fly higher and higher towards his Lord and Master.

21. Again, true conversion gives a man security, but it does not allow him to stop being watchful. He knows that he is safe, and that he shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck him out of Christ’s hands; but he is always on the watch against every enemy, — against the world, the flesh, and the devil. One of our hymn writers puts this double truth very sweetly, —

    We have no fear that thou shouldest lose
    One whom eternal love could choose;
    But we would ne’er this grace abuse,
    Let us not fall. Let us not fall.

22. True conversion also gives a man strength and holiness, but it never lets him boast. He glories, but he glories only in the Lord. He knows that a great change has been accomplished in him, but he still sees so much of his own imperfections that he mourns over them before the Lord. He has no time for boasting because all his time is taken up with repenting for his sins, believing in his Saviour, and seeking to live for the praise and glory of God.

23. True conversion likewise gives a harmony to all the duties of Christian life. It makes a man love his God better, and love his fellow men better. I have no use for that religion which consists in a so-called profession of religion which makes a young woman leave her father and mother, and all her family, and go and shut herself up in a convent, or become a sister of misery of some kind or other. If my child, when he says that he is converted, stops loving his father, I have very grave doubts about his conversion; I think it must be a conversion accomplished by the devil, not by God. But wherever there is true love for God, there is sure to be love for our fellow men also. The same God, who wrote on one table certain commands in reference to himself, wrote on the other table the commands with regard to our fellow men. “You shall love the Lord your God,” is certainly a divine command; and so is the other, “and your neighbour as yourself.” True conversion balances all duties, emotions, hopes, and enjoyments.

24. True conversion brings a man to live for God. He does everything for the glory of God, — whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does. True conversion makes a man live before God. He used to try to imagine that God did not see him; but, now, he desires to live as in God’s sight at all times, and he is glad to be there, — glad even that God should see his sin, so that he may blot it out as soon as he ever sees it. And such a man now comes to live with God. He has blessed communion with him; he talks with him as a man talks with his friend; and, eventually, he shall dwell with God, throughout eternity, in the palace above. This ought to convince you what an excellent thing true and real conversion is.

25. III. I have no need to say much, in the third place, concerning THE RESULTING EXCELLENCE OF THE WORD OF GOD. The law of the Lord, which accomplishes such an excellent work, must be itself excellent. I will, therefore, only make one or two brief remarks, and then close.

26. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul,” immediately from the beginning of conversion to the end. Whenever we want to have converts, — and I hope that is always, — the best thing for us to do is to “preach the Word.” There is nothing better; there can be nothing more; there must be nothing less. I do not wonder that, in some churches and chapels, there are no conversions, because the sermons that are preached there are not adapted to that purpose. They are like a book I reviewed, the other day, of which I said, that there was, possibly, one person in the world who understood it, and that was the writer of the book; and that, if he did not read it through every morning, he certainly would not know, the next day, what he meant by it. In some such way as that, there are sermons that are so involved, perplexing, metaphysical, and I do not know what else besides, that I do not see how any souls can ever be converted by them. The people need to have a dictionary in the pew, instead of a Bible; they need never turn to any biblical references, but they need someone to explain to them the meaning of the hard words which the preacher is so fond of using. Have I not also read sermons, which were very highly polished, and which, I daresay, were preceded by a prayer that God would convert souls by them? But it was morally impossible that the Lord should do anything of the kind, unless he reversed all his usual methods of procedure, for there was nothing in the sermon that could have been made the means of the conversion of a soul. But, my dear brother, if you preach the Word of God, if you lift up the crucified Christ on the pole of the gospel, you need not be very particular about the style of your speech. You need not say, “I must be a first-class speaker; I must be a trained rhetorician.” I believe that a great deal of that first-class speaking is simply the means of veiling the cross of Christ, and that fine talk about Jesus Christ is about the last thing that poor sinners need. I sat at a hotel table, in Mentone, one evening at dinner, and I wanted to speak to a friend who was sitting opposite to me, but someone had put a most magnificent bouquet of flowers in a very splendid vase between us. I was grateful that those flowers bloomed in the middle of winter, and I was pleased to see and to smell them; but, eventually, I moved them to one side because they stood in the way of my view of my friend’s face. So, I admire fine language, no one enjoys it more than I do in its proper place; I even think that I could manage a little of it myself if I were to try. But whenever it stands between a poor soul and Christ, I should like to say, “Break that vase into a thousand pieces, fling those flowers into the fire; we do not want them there, for we want the poor sinner to see Christ.” It is the Word of God that converts the soul; not our pretty phrases about the Word; not our fine talk about it, but the Word itself. So, dear teachers, and dear brother ministers, let us give them the Word. Yes, that is a very handsome scabbard; but, if you are going to fight, you must take it off; and there is nothing like the naked blade, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to cut, and hew, and hack, and kill, in a spiritual sense; that same Word will, by God’s almighty grace, make men alive again, so we must “preach the Word” if we want to have conversions.

27. There is another thing that I feel I must say to you. We must not think that, in order to have conversions, it is necessary to leave out any part of the gospel. I am afraid that some people think that, if you stand and shout, “Believe, believe, believe, believe, believe, believe, believe,” you will convert any number of people; but it is not so. You must tell your hearers what they have to believe; you must give them the Word of God, the doctrines of the gospel; for the people, who are said to be converted without being taught from the Scriptures, will very soon need to be “converted” again. There must be shot and shell in our guns if any real execution is to be done; blowing off a lot of powder, and making a great noise, may sound very well for a time, but it comes to nothing in the end. Just the same gospel — adapted as to its tone and method, but the same gospel — that I preach in this place, I would preach in a thieves’ kitchen, or to the poorest of the poor, and the most illiterate of mankind. It is the gospel, and only the gospel, that will convert the soul.

28. Now, dear friends, you who are not converted, my closing word is to you. If you really wish for strength, life, salvation, you will get it through hearing the Word of God, or through reading this precious Book. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Eye-gate is not usually the way by which Emmanuel rides into the city of Mansoul. The lifting up of the host, the pretty decorations on the priest’s robe, the crucifix, the stations of the cross, and all that Roman Catholic mummery, will save no one. That is not God’s way of salvation; but Christ comes into Mansoul through Ear-gate. “Incline your ear, and came to me; hear, and your soul shall live.” Whenever the gospel is preached, dear hearer, really do hear it. Remember how our Lord Jesus Christ said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Some people do not hear. I have often been thankful, when I have heard some people talk, that I have two ears, because, though their conversation goes in at one ear, I thank God I can let it go out of the other, and so it does me no harm. But if you are hearing the gospel, be careful not to act like that. Then let your two ears be two entrances for the Word. Do not have one for entrance, and the other for exit; but “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Let it go in at both ears, and remain in your memory until it reaches your heart. I do not believe that anyone is an earnest and attentive hearer, longing to hear to his soul’s profit, without his so hearing if the gospel is preached to him. As I have already told you, the promise is, “Hear, and your soul shall live”; and if you come with a willing mind, — willing to judge, and weigh, and then to believe the Word, — the moment you do believe it, you are saved. That Word of God, which leads you to believe, has already converted you; so, come out, and confess what God has done for you, and then go on your way rejoicing. May God bless every one of you without a single exception, for his name’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — Christ Is All” 551}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Dedication To God — The Heart Given To God” 658}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Great Sight” 561}

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 19}

This Psalm teaches us the excellence of the two revelations which God has made to man. The first is the revelation which he has made in nature, and the second is what he has made in his inspired Word. The psalmist first sings about God as he displays himself in his works in creation: —

1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handywork.

So much is this the case that it has been well said that “an undevout astronomer is mad.” There are such traces of the Infinite and the Omnipotent in the stars, and especially the more thoroughly they are studied, and the science of mathematics is brought to bear on them, in order, in some degree, to guess at the incalculable distances and mighty weights of the starry orbs, that a man must perceive in them traces of the divine handiwork if he is only willing to do so: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handywork.”

2. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.

Every day speaks to the following one, even as the day that went before it spoke to it, and each day has its own message. Its history is an echo of the voice of God; and if man only had ears to hear, he would perceive that the things which happen from day to day proclaim the presence and power of God. And even night, with her impressive silence, reveals the Most High in the solemn hush and stillness. In the great primeval forests, the winds seem, with songs without words, to declare the presence of the Most High. There is something there, in the stillness of the night, so eerie and so solemn, which has made unbelief retreat, and caused faith to lift up her eye, and see more in the heavens at night than she had seen by day: “Night unto night shows knowledge.”

3, 4. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Though nature does not speak, yet its words go to the ends of the earth; and, silently, they sing the praises of God. To the inner ears of an enlightened man, there is a measure of spiritual teaching always going on.

4-6. In them he has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run a race. Its going out is from the end of the heaven, and its circuit to the ends of it: and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

All this is emblematic of the spread of the gospel; so Paul tells us in the Epistle to the Romans: “Their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Our Lord Jesus, springing up from the tomb in which he slept for a while, has sent his light even to the ends of the earth.

    Nor shall his spreading gospel rest
       Till through the world his truth has run, —
    Till Christ has all the nations blest,
       That see the light, or feel the sun.

There are brighter days yet to come to us. The strength of Christ, as he daily runs the gospel race, has not diminished, indeed, he puts it out even more and more, and the day shall come when, just as the full sunlight makes the perfect day, so shall the full revelation of the gospel to the eyes of all men fill the whole earth with the praises of God.

Now let us read concerning the Book of God. We have read about his works, now let us read about his words.

7. The law of the LORD is perfect, —

“The doctrine of the Lord (as it may be read,) is perfect,” —

7. converting [or, restoring] the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure,

Oh, what a mercy that is! What could our souls do with ifs and buts and perhapses? But the teachings of God’s Word are certain, positive, infallible.

7. Making wise the simple.

No matter how foolish, how childlike, we may be to begin with, so long as our minds are free from cunning and craftiness, and so are simple and sincere, this Book will make us truly wise.

8. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:

You know they do. Often your heart has leaped for joy when the statutes of the Lord have been made known to you.

8-11. The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned:

Do you not find it so, — that, often, a text of Scripture comes to your mind just at the moment when you were about to suffer spiritual shipwreck? When you would have done something that would have caused you lifelong grief and vast damage, the Word of God has stepped before you with the flaming danger-signal, and you have been stopped in time.

11. And in keeping of them there is great reward.

Not, for keeping of them, for it is not of debt; but, “in keeping of them.” It is always best to do as God tells you to. You never forget a duty, or refuse to do it, without suffering loss; and every mistake you make, with regard to your Lord’s will, is a damage to yourselves. The keeping of his commands is most soul-enriching. The most profitable business that a child of God can carry on is the business of obedience to his Lord’s commands: “In keeping of them there is great reward.”

12. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

The man who searches his heart most will still leave some sin undiscovered; and he who says, “I have no sin; I am living without sin,” has surely never seen into his own heart at all; he must be an utter stranger to the condition it is in. Let this be the prayer of each one of us: “Cleanse me from secret faults.”

13. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

“Let me never dare to do what I know to be wrong. Let me not say, ‘I will go just so far, and then stop.’ Let me not tempt the Holy Spirit of God. Oh, let me never tempt the devil to tempt me, and put myself into a dangerous position under the notion that God will keep me if I am his child: ‘Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins’ ”; —

13. Let them not have dominion over me: then I shall be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

You will never go into apostasy if you are watchful against presumption. Those men who, like Judas, commit the great transgression, and utterly perish, are men who knew nothing about watching their own hearts, but who presumed, and were sinfully bold and self-confident, and so came to a bad end. You know where John Bunyan says Heedless and Too-Bold went to; and there are many like them.

14. Let the word of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight; oh LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer.

Gospel, Received by Faith
551 — Christ Is All <7s.>
1 Jesus, lover of my soul,
   Let me to thy bosom fly,
   While the nearer waters roll,
   While the tempest still is high!
   Hide me, oh my Saviour, hide,
   Till the storm of life be past;
   Safe into the haven guide;
   Oh receive my soul at last.
2 Other refuge have I none,
   Hangs my helpless soul on thee!
   Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
   Still support and comfort me!
   All my trust on thee is stay’d
   All my help from thee I bring;
   Cover my defenceless head
   With the shadow of thy wing.
3 Thou, oh Christ, art all I want;
   More than all in thee I find:
   Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
   Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
   Just and holy is thy name,
   I am all unrighteousness,
   False and full of sin I am;
   Thou art full of truth and grace.
4 Plenteous grace with thee is found,
   Grace to cover all my sin;
   Let the healing streams abound,
   Make and keep me pure within;
   Thou of life the fountain art,
   Freely let me take of thee!
   Spring thou up within my heart,
   Rise to all eternity!
                     Charles Wesley, 1740.

The Christian, Dedication To God
658 — The Heart Given To God
1 Oh happy day, that fix’d my choice
   On thee, my Saviour, and my God;
   Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
   And tell its raptures all abroad.
2 ‘Tis done! the great transaction’s done:
   I am my Lord’s, and he is mine:
   He drew me, and I follow’d on,
   Charm’d to confess the voice divine.
3 Now rest, my long divided heart;
   Fix’d on this blissful centre, rest:
   With ashes who would grudge to part,
   When call’d on angels’ bread to feast?
4 High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
   That vow renew’d shall daily hear:
   Till in life’s latest hour I bow,
   And bless in death a bond so dear.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.

Gospel, Received by Faith
561 — The Great Sight
1 In evil long I took delight,
      Unawed by shame or fear,
   Till a new object struck my sight,
      And stopp’d my wild career.
2 I saw One hanging on a tree,
      In agonies and blood,
   Who fix’d his languid eyes on me,
      As near his cross I stood.
3 Sure never till my latest breath
      Can I forget that look;
   It seem’d to charge me with his death,
      Though not a word he spoke.
4 My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
      And plunged me in despair;
   I saw my sins his blood had spilt,
      And help’d to nail him there.
5 Alas! I knew not what I did;
      But now my tears are vain;
   Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
      For I the Lord have slain.
6 A second look he gave, which said,
      “I freely all forgive;
   This blood is for thy ransom paid,
      I die, that thou mayest live.”
7 Thus while his death my sin displays
      In all its blackest hue
   (Such is the mystery of grace),
      It seals my pardon too.
8 With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
      My spirit now is fill’d
   That I should such a life destroy,
      Yet live by him I killed.
                        John Newton, 1779.

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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