3023. John Mark; or, Haste In Religion

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No. 3023-53:37. A Sermon Delivered In The Year 1864, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, January 17, 1907.

And they all forsook him and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth wrapped around his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked. {Mr 14:50-52}

1. This little episode in the narrative of the evangelist is very unusual. One wonders why it is introduced; but a moment’s reflection will, I think, suggest a plausible reason. It strikes me that this “certain young man” was none other than Mark himself. He was probably asleep; and, aroused by a great clamour, he asked what it was about. The information was speedily given, “The guards have come to arrest Jesus of Nazareth.” Moved by sudden impulse, not thinking of what he was doing, he rises from his bed, rushes down, pursues the soldiers, dashes into the midst of their ranks, as though he alone would attempt the rescue when all the disciples had fled. The moment the young men lay hold on him, his heroic spasm is over; his enthusiasm evaporates; he runs away, leaves the linen cloth that was loosely wrapped around his body behind, and makes his escape. There have been many, since then, who have acted as Mark did; and it seems to me that this digression from the main narrative is intended to illustrate a moral.

2. First, however, you will ask me, “Why do you suppose that this ‘certain young man’ was Mark?” I grant you that it is merely a supposition, yet it is supported by the strongest chain of probabilities, and will sufficiently account for the manner in which he has inserted it. Calvin, following Ambrose and Chrysostom, thinks it was John, albeit few modern critics attach much weight to that conjecture. I find that the more learned critics of the modern school ascribe this transaction to Mark for these reasons: — It was usual, among the evangelists, to relate transactions in which they themselves took part without mentioning their own names. This commonly occurs in the case of John, for example. He bashfully keeps back his name when there is anything to his credit, and he does the same when it is to the opposite. I could quote one or two examples of this practice in the Gospel of Luke, and it is not at all remarkable that such a thing should have occurred in the case of Mark. Whoever it was, the only person likely to know it was the man himself. I cannot think that anyone else would have been likely to tell it to Mark, and, therefore, I conceive it to have been himself; for he might scarcely have thought it worthy of recording if it had been told to him by someone else; and it is not likely that anyone to whom it had occurred would have felt it was much to his credit, and been likely to relate it to Mark with a view to its being recorded.

3. Again, we know that such a transaction as this was quite in keeping with Mark’s general character. We gather his character partly from the book which he has written: the Evangel of Mark is the most impulsive of all the Gospels. You are aware, and I have frequently mentioned it to you, that the word eutheos, translated “straightway,” “forthwith,” “immediately,” is used a very great number of times by this evangelist in his book. He is a man who does everything immediately; he is full of impulse, dash, fire, flash; the thing must be done, and done now. His Gospel is of that description. You do not find many of Christ’s sermons in Mark. He gives you just a sketch, an outline. He did not have perseverance enough to write the whole sermon down; and he scarcely finishes the narration of the death of Christ. His Book seems to break off abruptly, yet he is the most picturesque of all the evangelists. There are pieces of imagination, and there are Hogarthian {a} touches, in the sacred biography he writes, that are not to be found in Matthew, or Luke, or John. The man is a man of fire; he is all enthusiasm. Poetry has filled his soul, and, therefore, he dashes at the thing. He lacks perseverance, and will hardly finish what he undertakes to do; yet there is a genius about him not altogether uncommon to Christian men in this age, and there are faults in him quite common at the present time.

4. Once more, the known life of John Mark tends to make it very probable that he would do such a thing as is referred to in our text. When Paul and Barnabas set out on their missionary enterprise, they were attended by Mark. As long as they were sailing across the blue waters, and as long as they were in the island of Cyprus, Mark stayed with them. Indeed, while they travelled along the coast of Asia Minor, we find they had John Mark to be their minister; but the moment they went up into the inland countries, among the robbers and the mountain streams, — as soon as the road ever began to be a little too rough, John Mark left them, his missionary zeal had oozed out. At a later period, Mark was the cause of a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas. Paul would not have Mark with him any longer. He could not trust him; he did not believe in these impulsive people, who could not hold up under difficulties; but Barnabas, knowing him better, — for Mark was sister’s son to Barnabas, — and feeling a kinsman’s gentleness to his faults, insisted that they should take John Mark; and the altercation grew so violent between Paul and Barnabas that they separated on this account, and would not proceed together on their divine mission. Yet Barnabas was right, and I think that Paul was not wrong. Barnabas was right in his mild judgment of Mark, for he was a sound believer at heart, and, notwithstanding this fault, he was a real, true-hearted disciple. We find him afterwards reconciled entirely to the apostle Paul. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Take Mark, and bring him with you: for he is profitable to me for the ministry”; and we find Paul affectionately mentioning “Mark, sister’s son to Barnabas,” which shows, on the one hand, the apostle’s Christian candour and kindness, and, on the other hand, that Mark had retrieved his character by perseverance.

5. Tradition says that Mark became the Bishop of Alexandria. We do not know whether that was correct or not, but it is likely enough that he was. Certainly he was with Paul at Rome, and the latter part of his life was spent with Peter at Babylon. See what a man he is. He goes to Rome, but he cannot stay there for long. He has done his work in Rome. He is one of your fidgety people who do things suddenly; so away he goes to Alexandria. But I think he must have found a very congenial friend in Peter. He would be a blessing to Peter, and Peter would be a blessing to him; for Peter’s disposition was cast in something of the same mould as his own. You may have noticed that Mark gives the most explicit account of Peter’s fall. He enters very fully into it. I believe that he received it from Peter vivā voce, {orally} and that Peter told him to write it down; and I think the modest spirit of Mark seemed to say, “Friend Peter, while the Holy Spirit moves me to tell your fault, and let it stand on record, he also constrains me to write my own as a kind of preface to it, for I, too, in my mad, hare-brained folly, would have run, unclothed as I was, against the guards to rescue my Lord and Master; yet, at the first sight of the rough legionaries, at the first gleam of their swords, I away fled, timid, faint-hearted, and afraid that I should be too roughly handled.”

6. For these reasons, the supposition that this “certain young man” was John Mark appears to me not to be utterly baseless. There is no hypothesis in favour of any other man that is supported by equal probabilities. Very well, then. We will assume that he was the man, and use the incident as the basis for our discourse. We have some counterparts of him here, and we shall try to find them, and make use of Mark’s blunder for their correction, in respect both to hasty following and hasty running away.

7. I. First, here is HASTY FOLLOWING.

8. John Mark does not wait to robe himself, but, just as he is, he dashes out for the defence of his Lord. Without a moment’s thought, taking no kind of consideration, down he goes into the cold night air to try and deliver his Master. Fervent zeal did not wait for cautious prudence. There was something good and something bad in this, something to admire as well as something to censure.

9. Beloved, it is a good and right thing for us to follow Christ, and to follow him at once; and it is a brave thing to follow him when his other disciples forsake him and flee. It is a bold and worthy courage to oppose deadly odds for Christ, and to rush, one against a thousand, for the honour of his dear hallowed name. Oh that all professors of religion had the boldness of Mark! Oh that all who have been careless about religion might emulate his haste, and be as fast in fleeing to Christ by faith as he was in running to the rescue in that hour of assault! Most men are too slow; — fast enough in the world, but, ah! how slow in the things of God! I protest that, if corporations and companies were half as dilatory about worldly things as the Church of God is about spiritual things, instead of a railway accident every three or four months, we should have one every hour, and instead of a revolution every one or two centuries, it would be good if we did not have one every year, for, of all the indolent things in the world, the Church of Christ is the most sluggish. Of all people that dilly-dally in this world, I think the professed servants of God are the most sluggish and trifling.

10. How slothful are the ungodly, too, in divine things! Tell them they are sick, and they hurry to a surgeon; tell them that their title-deeds are about to be attacked, and they will defend them with legal power; but tell them, in God’s name, that their soul is in danger, and they think it matters so little, and is of so little importance that they will wait on, and wait on, and wait on, and doubtless continue to wait on until they find themselves lost for ever. Let me stir up those who have not believed in the Lord Jesus Christ to look diligently to their eternal state. You have delayed long enough. The time that you have been outside of Christ is surely long enough for the lusts of the flesh. What fruit have you gathered in your impenitence and sin? How much have you been bettered by neglecting Christ, and minding worldly things? Has it not been all a dreary toil? It may have been decked out with a few transient pleasures; but, putting the ungodly life into the scale, what does it come to? “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Do you not confess this? Why delay then any longer? Have you gotten any happiness in being an enemy to God? Then, why not be reconciled to him? Oh, that the Spirit of God would make you see that the time past has sufficed you to have done the will of the flesh!

11. Besides, how little time you have to spare! Even if you have much, Jesus demands that you repent now. “The Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’” The gospel invitation is not for tomorrow, but for today. The warnings of the gospel all tell you to shun procrastination. Is this not Satan’s great net in which men, like the silly fish of the deep, are taken to their eternal destruction? Oh you dove, pursued by the hawk, do not delay; but fly at once to the dovecot, — to the wounds of Jesus, and find shelter there! Jesus calls you. Come to him while he calls you. Why will you delay? His cause needs you. Young men, there are some of you who will spend the best of your days in Satan’s cause; and when we get you, as we hope we shall, we shall have to baptize into Christ your shrivelled age, your palsied weakness. Let it not be so, please. In these days of error and sin, Christ needs for his kingdom men who are strong and vigorous, young men who are strong, as John says, and “have overcome the wicked one.” I would gladly turn recruiting sergeant, and enlist you for my Master. Oh, that you were on his side now! You cannot be too hasty here. If now the weapons of your rebellion are thrown down, if now you “kiss the Son, lest he be angry,” you will have waited already too long; you will not? You cannot come to Christ too soon. Listen! listen! I hear the chariot wheels of Death. He comes! he comes! and the axles of his chariot are hot with sped. He stands aloft, driving his black horse. The skeleton rider brandishes his awful spear, and you are the victim. God has spared you up until now, but he may not allow you to spend another Sabbath day here. I hear the mower’s scythe everywhere, as I pass along, making ready to cut down the grass and its flower. Death’s scythe is being sharpened now. He reaps his harvest every day; and, whether you are prepared or not, you must be cut down when God’s time shall come.

12. Flee, then, please; and though you are, like John Mark, unfit and unprepared, remember that you may come to Christ naked, for he can clothe you; you may come to Christ filthy, for he can wash you; you may come all unholy and defiled to Jesus, for he can put away your sin. Come! The Spirit of God seems to me to say to you, “Come.” I pray that he may ask you to come, and “lay hold on eternal life.” I do not know how it is, I sometimes feel for many of my hearers — especially for those of you whose faces I have seen for years, — an awful earnestness even when I am not in this pulpit; and I think then that, if I could get your ear, I would plead with you. Remember how many like you I have buried. How often do I stand at the grave’s mouth, until sometimes, when, week after week, and twice each week, I stand there, I imagine myself talking to dying men, and not to living men at all, talking to a company of shadows that come and go before me, and I stand still, myself a shadow, soon to flit like the rest. Oh, that I could talk to you as I then feel, and pour out my soul to you! We need a Baxter to bring men to immediate decision, — Baxter with weeping eyes and burning heart, — Baxter, who says, “I will go down on my knees to entreat you to think about eternal things”; Baxter, who cries and groans for men until they cry and groan for themselves. Why will you die? Why will you let that fatal procrastination kill you? Why will you put off seeking the Saviour until your day is over? Why will you still waste the candle which is so short? Why will you let the day go when the sun dips already beneath the horizon? By the shortness of time, by the sureness of death, by the certainty of eternal judgment, I beseech you to flee to Jesus, and to flee to Jesus now, even though it should be in the hurry of John Mark.

13. Now I change my note, for there is a haste that we must reprove. The precipitate running of Mark suggests an admonition that should put you on your guard. He came suddenly by his religion, and there are some people who do this who might as well have no religion at all. That, however, was not the case with Mark. He was a genuine Christian character; yet, with nine out of ten of these people, I am afraid it is far otherwise. Let me address some here who have all of a sudden come to Christ. I do not want to throw doubts in their way concerning their sincerity, but I do want to incite them to examine themselves.

14. I am afraid some people make a hasty profession through the persuasion of friends. You walk with your friend, and he says, “I have joined the church; why do you not do so?” He is not wise enough to ask you pointed questions which would let him see whether you are converted or not, but he unwisely presses you to make a profession when there is no grace in your heart. Please, as soon as ever you know Christ, speak out for him, and come out, and show your colours; but I also beseech you never profess to follow Christ merely through the persuasion of friends. I trust no pious mother would ever recommend you to do so. I am sure no wise father would ever urge it on you. They would tell you to flee to Christ at once; but, as for making a profession of faith, they would have you see first whether the root of the matter is in you, and when they are persuaded, and you are persuaded that it is, they will throw no stumbling-blocks in your way.

15. Young people, please, do not be deceived in this matter. How many have we seen, in revival times, who have been induced to come forward to “the penitent form,” as it is called. That night, oh, how much they felt, because their natural senses were strongly worked on; but the next morning, oh, how little they have felt! When the agencies that stimulated them have been withdrawn, when the meetings that stirred the embers, and the preacher that fanned the flame no longer exert any transient spell over them, their disenchanted souls sink down into a profound stupor. In many churches, there are so few making profession of religion, that there is not much danger of this evil; but here, where we receive so many every week, there is need for wise discrimination. I beseech you never to sit down with a religion that comes to you merely through your being talked to by your acquaintances.

   True religion’s more than notion;

   Something must be known and felt

16. Nor are there a mere few who get their religion through excitement. This furnishes another example of injudicious haste. They hear religion painted as being very beautiful; they see the beauty of it; they admire it; they think what a lovely thing it must be to be a Christian. Feeling this, and misled by a kind of excitement in their minds, they conclude that this is repentance. A false confidence they write down as faith. They eagerly infer that they are the children of God, whereas, alas! they are only the dupes of their own emotion, and still “the children of wrath, even as others.” Please beware of a religion which lives on excitement. We ought to be filled with enthusiasm. A fervent love should make our hearts always glow. The zeal of God’s house should be our master-passion. Men never do much in politics until they grow warm on a question; and, in religion, the very highest degree of excitement is not only pardonable, but praiseworthy. What, then, is it, which we deprecate? Not the emotions of spiritual life, but an exclusive dependence on impulse. If you try to live on the spell of a man’s words, on the imposing grandeur of a multitude assembled together, on the fascination of congregational singing, or even on the heart-thrilling fervour of prayer meetings, you will find the lack of substantial food, and the danger of an intoxicated brain. As it was with the quails which the children of Israel ate in the wilderness, God’s bounties may be fed on to your harm. No, dear friends, there must be the real work of the Holy Spirit in the soul, or else the repentance we get will be a repentance which needs to be repented of.

17. I know well a town where there was a certain eminent revivalist, whom I greatly respect. It was said that half the population had been converted under his ministry; but I do not think that, if the numbers were told at the present time, there would be found a dozen of his converts. This revival work, where it is real and good, is God’s best blessing, but where it is flimsy and unreal, it is Satan’s worse curse. Revivalists are often like the locusts. Before them, it may not be quite an Eden; but, certainly, behind them, it is a desert when the excitement is over. I like rather to see the Word so preached that men are brought under its power by the force of the truth itself, and not by excitement; — by the truth of God being laid down in so clear a way as to enlighten the judgment, rather than by perpetual appeals to the passions, which ultimately wear out the sinews of mental vigour, and make men more dull in religion than they were before.

18. Please beware of getting the mere religion of poetry, enthusiasm, and rhapsody. Many profess Christ, and think to follow him, without counting the cost. They imagine the road to heaven is all smooth, forgetting that the way is rough, and that there are many foes. They set out, like Mr. Pliable, for the Celestial City; but they stumble into the first bog, and then they say that, if they can only get out on the side nearest to their own house, Christian may have the brave country all to himself for them. Oh, the many we have seen, at various times, that did seem to run well, but they ran in the strength of the flesh, and in the mists of ignorance. They had never sought God’s strength; they had never been emptied of their own works and their own conceits; consequently, in their best estate they were vanity; they were like the snail that melts as it crawls, and not like the snowflake on the Alps, which gathers strength in its descent, until it becomes a ponderous avalanche. May God make you to be not meteors, but stars fixed in their place. I want you to resemble, not the ignis fatuus {b} of the morass, but the steady beacon on the rock. There is a phosphorescence that creeps over the summer sea, but who is ever illuminated by it to the port of peace? And there is a phosphorescence which comes over some men’s minds; it seems very bright, but it is of no value; it brings no man to heaven.

19. Be as hasty as John Mark, if it is a sound haste; but, take care that it is not a spasm of excitement, — a mere fit. Otherwise, when the fit is over, you will go back to your old haunts and your old habits with shame. You will be like Saul among the prophets one day, and hating the anointed king the next. So much, so earnestly would I warn you against hasty followings of Christ.

20. II. It only remains for me briefly to notice THE HASTY RUNNING AWAY.

21. I do not know that the people who are quickest to run away are always those who were the fastest to make their profession; I am inclined to think not. But some, who do run well at first, have hardly breath enough to keep the pace up, and so turn aside for a little comfortable ease, and do not get on the road again. Such are not genuine Christians; they are only men-made, self-made Christians; and these self-made Christians never hold on, and never can hold on, because time wears them out, and they turn back to their former state.

22. There are two kinds of desertion which we denounce as hasty running away: the one temporary, the other final. To the members of the church, let me speak on the former. My dear brothers and sisters, especially you who are young in years, and have recently been added to our number, please watch against temporary runnings away from the truth of Christ. Think what a fool Mark made of himself. Here he comes; here is your hero. What wonders he is going to do! Here is a Samson for you. Perhaps he will slay his thousand men. But no; he runs away before he strikes a single blow. He does not even have courage enough to be taken prisoner, and to be dragged away with Christ to the judgment seat, and bear a patient witness there; but he turns tail at once, and away he flees. How simple he looked! How everyone in the crowd must have laughed at the venturesome coward, — the dastardly bravo! And what a fool will you seem if, after uniting yourself with the church, and seeming to be a servant of God, you shall give way under temptation! Some young man in the same shop laughs at you, and says, “Aha, aha, you are baptized, I hear”; and you tremble, like Peter, under the questioning of the little maid; or your employer sees something wrong, and he makes some rough remark to you, “Well, this is a fine thing for a Christian soldier!” Can you not face the enemy for the first time? “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the swelling of Jordan?”

23. A religion that cannot stand a little laughter must be a very rotten one. We know some people, whose religion is on so unsound a basis, whose profession is so hollow, and whose position is so shaky, that they make a great noise when we touch them. Their system is of human construction, and rotten, and they know it, therefore they are angry if we only allude to it. Were it sound and good, then, whatever we might say would never frighten them. But, sirs, how many, who have made a fair show in the flesh, have been personally and individually tried and found wanting. “Tekel” has been written on the wall concerning them. Their first setting out was hasty, and they have been turned aside through a little laughter.

24. Do you not see, dear friends, that this will always render you very untrustworthy? If you shrink in this way, the church will never trust you. I hope you will be a leader in God’s Israel one day, young man. We are looking to you, if not to be a preacher, yet to be a church officer one day; but who will ever ask you to do anything when you cannot keep steadfast, and hold your own position? He who does not have enough grace to prevent his running away in the time of tribulation is not at all likely to be made a leader of God’s host. The church will retain you, as it retained Mark, but it will always look on you with a kind of suspicion. We shall always say, “Where is So-and-so? We know where he was yesterday; but where is he today?” Therefore, abstain from these inconsistencies for your own character’s sake.

25. Besides, how much damage you do to the church with which you are connected! All the persecutors and infidels outside the church’s walls can never harm us so much as inconsistent people inside. “Ah!” they say, “there is one of the people who go to the meeting,” when they see a man in the tavern who sits at the communion table, “Ah! there is one of your religious people! He can cheat as well as anyone else. He knows how to thumb the yard-stick. He knows how to give short weight. He knows how to promise to pay on a certain day, and then get into the Bankruptcy Court. The servants of Christ are no better than other people. They make a great fuss about their purity, but see what they will do.”

26. And then see what harm this will do to Christ’s Church itself. How many, who love God, will sit down, and weep when they see such inconsistencies in you! Good captains can endure wounds, they can even bear defeat; but they cannot bear to see cowardice on the part of their troops; they cannot bear to see their men running away. If “the men of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turn back in the day of battle,” then their leader weeps, for the glorious cross of Christ is dishonoured, the escutcheon {c} is sullied, and the banner is trailed in the mud. May the Lord keep us so that our garments shall be always white; that, though before God we may have many sins to confess, we may stand like Job, and say, “Lord, you know that I am not wicked.” May your testimony be so clear concerning the religion of Christ that those, who watch for your halting, and who hate you with a perfect hatred, may nevertheless find nothing against you, but may be constrained to say, “These are the servants of the living God, and they serve him indeed and truly.”

27. I urge you not to flee or to flinch. Some of us have had much lying and slander to bear in our time, but are we any the worse? No, and if we had to choose whether we would bear it again, would we not do so? We may have had to be laughed at and caricatured, but all that breaks no bones, and should not make a brave man wince. Who can be afraid or alarmed when his war-cry is, “The Lord of hosts,” and when the banner of God’s own truth waves over his head? Be of good courage, my brethren, and you shall yet win the victory. In the world you shall have tribulation, but in Christ you shall have peace. Value the Holy Spirit above all things. Realize your entire dependence on him. Pray for fresh grace. Do not venture into the world without a fresh supply of his hallowed influence. Live in the divine love. Seek to be filled with that blessed Spirit; and then, my brethren, even if the strong man armed shall lay hold of you, you will not flee away; shame shall not overtake you, dismay shall not frighten your souls, but you shall stand in unblemished integrity to the end as the true servants of Jesus Christ

28. And now, in concluding, what am I to say of a final apostasy? None of God’s people ever pursue their wanderings to this terrible issue. No vessel of mercy was ever finally wrecked. No elect souls can run to this fatal length of wickedness. But there are many, in the visible church, who do draw back to perdition. Many, who profess to belong to Christ, are branches that bear no fruit, and therefore are cut off, and cast into the fire. That may be the condition of some present here; it, may be the lot of some of you who “have a name to live, and are dead.” Let me plead with you. Oh, what a dreadful thing it will be if you apostatize after all! Shall I live to see you go back into the world? I would sooner bury you. Shall I live to see some of you, who have professed to find the Lord under my ministry, at last sinning with a high hand and an outstretched arm, and living worse than you did before? May God spare us this evil thing! Let him chastise his servant in any way he thinks fit; but, oh Lord, if possible, do not let this be the rod, — to see professors become false!

29. Remember that, if you do apostatize, you have increased your guilt by the profession you have made, and impressed your character with a more terrible defilement. When the unclean spirit went out of the man, and afterwards returned, he brought with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they entered in, and dwelt there, and the last state of that man was worse than the first. It would have been better for you never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn aside to those crooked paths. Think what the death-bed of an apostate must be. Did you ever read of “The Groans of Spira?” {d} That was a book, circulated about the time of the Reformation, — a book so terrible that even a man of iron could scarcely read it. Spira knew the gospel, but yet went back to the Church of Rome. His conscience awoke on his death-bed, and his cries and shrieks were too terrible to be endured by his nurses; and as for his language, it was despair written out at full length in capital letters. My eminent predecessor, Mr. Benjamin Keach, published a similar narrative of the death of John Child, who became a minister of the gospel, but afterwards went back to the church from which he had seceded, and died in the most frightful despair. May God keep you from the death-bed of any man who has lived as a professing Christian, yet, who dies an apostate from the faith!

30. But what must be the apostate’s doom when his naked soul goes before God? How can he hear that awful sentence, “Depart, you cursed one; you have rejected me, and I reject you; you have departed from me, I also have cast you away for ever, and will not have mercy on you.” What will be this poor wretch’s shame, at the last great day, when, before the assembled multitudes, the apostate shall be unmasked? I think I see the profane and public sinners, who never professed religion, lifting themselves up from their beds of fire to point at him. “There he is,” one says; “will he preach the gospel in hell?” “There he is,” says another; “he rebuked me for cursing, yet he was a hypocrite himself.” “Aha!” says another, “here comes a psalm-singing Methodist, one who was always at his meeting; he is the man who boasted of his religion, yet here he is.” No greater eagerness will ever be seen among Satanic tormentors than in that day when demons drag the hypocrite’s soul and the apostate’s spirit down to perdition. Bunyan pictures this with massive but awful grandeur of poetry when he speaks of the back-way to hell. The demons were binding a man with nine cords, and were taking him from the road to heaven, in which he had professed to walk, and thrust him through the backdoor of hell. Beware of that back-way to hell, professors! You professors of religion, who have been in the church for years, “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith.” Examine yourselves, whether you are deceived. Look well to your state, see whether you are really in Christ, or not. It is the easiest thing in the world to give a lenient verdict when you yourself are to be tried; but oh, I implore you, be just and true here. Be just to all, but be especially rigorous in judging yourself. Remember, if it is not a rock on which you build, your house will fall, and great will be its fall. Oh, may the Lord give you sincerity, constancy, and firmness; and in no day, however evil, my you be tempted to turn aside; rather, may you hold on firmly by God and his truth, — by Christ and his cross, come what may!

31. My soul longs, however many years God may spare me to walk in and out among you, to find you as earnest for God, and as loving towards Christ, as you are today. I glory in you among all the churches. God has given you the spirit of faith, and prayer, of earnest zeal, and a sound mind. To him be the glory. But, as a church, do not backslide. Do not let our fervour diminish, do not let our zeal die out. Let us love each other more tenderly than ever; let us cling firmly to each other; let us not be divided, let no root of bitterness springing up trouble us; firm and steadfast, shoulder to shoulder, like a phalanx of old, let us stand firm, and so repel the foe, and win the kingdom for Jesus Christ our Lord. “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with very great joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.”

{a} William Hogarth: a satirical painter and caricaturist of the 18th c. OED.
{b} Ignis Fatuus: A phosphorescent light seen hovering or flitting over marshy ground, and supposed to be due to the spontaneous combustion of an inflammable gas (phosphuretted hydrogen) derived from decaying organic matter; popularly called Will-o’-the-wisp, Jack-a-lantern, etc. It seems to have been formerly a common phenomenon; but is now exceedingly rare. When approached, the ignis fatuus appeared to recede, and finally to vanish, sometimes reappearing in another direction. This led to the notion that it was the work of a mischievous sprite, intentionally leading benighted travellers astray. Hence the term is commonly used allusively or fig. for any delusive guiding principle, hope, aim, etc. OED.
{c} Escutcheon: Shield containing a coat of arms. OED.
{d} Francis Spira (d. 1548) was an Italian lawyer who became a Protestant but apostatized. He died in despair thinking himself to be a reprobate. See Explorer "http://www.puritanboard.com/f18/francis-spira-17917/"

Publishers’ Note

No Exposition of the passage of Scripture read by Mr. Spurgeon before he preached the foregoing Sermon appears to have been preserved, and the subject on which he spoke was so unusual that no other Exposition would have been appropriate to accompany it. Since the preacher, in his introduction, referred to various portions of the New Testament where allusion is made to Mark, it has been deemed advisable to reprint all the references to John Mark, so that readers may examine them in the light of Mr. Spurgeon’s message. Under the circumstances, they are printed without note or comment

Ac 12:11-25. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain, that the Lord has sent his angel, and has delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.” And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to listen, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter’s voice, she did not open the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said to her, “You are mad.” But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then they said, “It is his angel.” But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning to them with the hand to hold their peace, declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go show these things to James, and the brethren.” And he departed, and went into another place. Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and did not find him, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there. And Herod was highly displeased with those of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. And on a set day Herod arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. And the people gave a shout, saying, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” And immediately the angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give God the glory: and he was eaten by worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

Ac 13:5. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they also had John as their assistant.

Ac 13:13. Now when Paul and his company sailed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

Ac 15:35-41. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days after Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.” And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul did not think it was good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and did not go with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

Col 4:10,11. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom you received commandments: if he comes to you, receive him;) and Jesus, who is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. Only these are my fellow workers to the kingdom of God, who have been a comfort to me.

2Ti 4:11. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Phm 23,24 There greet Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow labourers.

1Pe 5:13. The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.

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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