3257. Thoughts and Their Fruit

by Charles H. Spurgeon on June 9, 2021
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No. 3257-57:313. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, July 6, 1911.

The fruit of their thoughts. {Jer 6:19}

1. Do you observe here, my brethren, how God declares that he would not only punish Israel for gross overt acts of sin, but that he would also bring down on the nation terrible chastisements for their thoughts? — a solemn warning, full of instruction for us.

2. It has almost passed into a proverb, that “thought is free.” Whether this is true or false, an axiom or a solecism, {a} must depend on the sphere in which thought moves. It is true in the sense of thought being free before men, since none of us can judge our neighbour’s thoughts, nor have we any right to attempt the task. Religious opinion, for example is not a thing of which the law can justly take cognizance. As far as the civil government is concerned, whether a man’s sentiments are those of a Christian or an idolater, a Catholic, a Protestant, or a Mormon, he is entitled to all civil rights. No matter who he may be, he is oppressed if he is deprived of his liberty, or of any privilege, because of his thought. No matter who he may be, he is injured if any one sect is rendered dominant, or is supported by a forced taxation drawn from everyone. Thought must be free, and it shall be acknowledged, by God’s help, perfectly free as between man and man. Whatever tyrants may decree, they have never yet been able to stop the progress of opinion. When they have used all their prisons and their racks, their dungeons and their blazing faggots, they have never been able to turn a sound man from a truth which he has embraced, nor, I may add, have they been able to confirm a wavering man in the falsehood which they have tried to thrust on him. Thought, in that sense, is free by natural right.

3. Yet there is another side to the same question, by reason of which we are bound to make this solemn protest, — thought is not free before God. I have no more authority to think of God as I please than I have to act before him as I please; in either case, the charge of licentiousness would lie against me; for the God who is supreme over the outward actions of my body is likewise the only Lord and Governor of the inward motions of my spirit. All the provinces of the little isle of man’s soul belong to God, the great Governor. Over body, soul, and spirit he is Legislator and Lord.

4. That thought in this sense is not free is to be proved very clearly, for some of these commandments of God contained in the Decalogue particularly relate to thought; such, for example, especially as, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife,” and so on. That command is clearly, particularly, and especially one relating to thought; God’s law therefore takes cognizance of thought. Moreover, we know that God has told us, as we read in the one hundred and thirty-ninth Psalm, that he is constantly watching our thoughts. He knows them before they are known to us: “You understand my thought afar off.” To what purpose, do you think, does God watch our thoughts but with this view, to bring us into judgment at the last great day for every idle word, and for every idle imagination and thought of our hearts? And, my brethren, we have it on record that God not only puts the law to work on our thoughts, and watches our thoughts, but that he is also angry on account of evil thoughts. Remember what we read in Genesis: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord relented that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” {Ge 6:5,6} Do not, therefore, make light of evil thoughts. If your conscience is awakened, truly awakened, you never will. A steeled and seared conscience may look at them with indifference; those whose hearts are not right towards God may sneer at the idea of any evil consequences coming from what they simply think in their minds; but if you have a tender heart, if God has been pleased to take the hardness and the callousness from off your conscience, and to make it sensitive, you will say at once, “Oh, save my soul from base and wicked thoughts!”

5. That thoughts are of the utmost importance may likewise be inferred from the fact that God here makes them the reason for punishing his people. He speaks of “the fruit of their thoughts.” The thought in itself may not be a very great thing, but what will it come to? It may even be a very little thing, but what will be the end of it? Thoughts of evil are in themselves evil thoughts. It is questionable whether we can even read the report of our neighbour’s sin without producing some sinful thoughts in ourselves. It is debatable whether a person can have much to do with speaking or hearing of the offences of others without in some degree defiling himself; for just as pitch sticks, and soot and things black and dirty defile one by the slightest contact, so does sin in any form passing over the mind. Touched by the hand, it might scarcely leave any discernible mark behind; but there is a distinct impression left on the mind, so that every picture of evil which passes through the soul remains there to do that soul harm. The thought of evil is in itself sin.

6. And, what is more, the thought of evil paralyses the finer faculties of the soul. The more we think of sin, and become familiar with it, the less terrible it becomes to our apprehension. I am sure this is the result where men spice their reveries with any form of evil. Could the minds of men who have become murderers be analyzed, I do not doubt it would be found that they had been a long time in schooling themselves to the commission of the horrible crime. They have thought on it, meditated and deliberated about it, until at last it has seemed to them only a mere trifle, and then they have gone out to do it without misgiving. I do not believe that a man becomes a villain all at once. He sends his soul to school, his thoughts are his teachers; or, rather, they are the school-books in which his soul reads; and at last he becomes capable of transacting the deeds of a scoundrel. If you think long on any sin, the probability is that, as soon as the temptation to that sin comes, you will commit it.

7. I have known people to produce a form of insanity by constant brooding. I knew a man once who was constantly apprehensive that he was being poisoned by people; and I always stood in trepidation for that man lest he should poison himself. If you will harbour the evil thought, — if you will ruminate on any sin, thing it over, and advise with it on your pillow, your familiarity will disarm your fear; and the traitor you have harboured will betray you before your suspicions are aroused. Beware, then, of all thoughts of sin. If you show a thief all the locks, and bolts, and bars in your house, and tell him how the cellar window could be opened, or the backdoor lock be made to give way, do not be surprised if, one of these nights, you should find all your goods stolen. If you will do this, and introduce these evil things into your habitation, you cannot wonder about the consequence, however startled your friends may be at the detection.

8. It is certain that thoughts are the eggs of sin. These are the embryo out of which sins spring, — the spawn from which every form of iniquity is developed. We hear sometimes of fever lairs and of pest dens; evil thoughts are just like these. They are the jungles where the monsters of sin fatten and grow. Thoughts of sin are the dark woods that harbour all kinds of evil; they are the evil birds of prey that destroy all kinds of good.

9. Therefore, since God takes cognizance of our thoughts, let us be mindful of the responsibility they entail on us. Let us no longer despise them, but look into the nursery where they are raised, and begin to search our hearts, and to judge ourselves as in the sight of him who searches all hearts.

10. I. BAD THOUGHTS AND THEIR FRUIT EXHIBIT A VERY LARGE VARIETY. I shall, however, only refer you to the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus, where the ten commandments will give us a list of thoughts, all of which are horribly mischievous.

11. The first command which God gives to us is, “You shall have no other gods before me.” That is, in fact, “You shall have no other god but me,” since God is everywhere. This precept is easily broken in our thoughts. If I say to myself, “This is God’s law, but the contrary action will be most to my profit,” then I make myself, or my money, my god. If on any occasion I say within myself, “I clearly perceive that I ought not to indulge in that sin, but then it will give me great pleasure,” should I indulge in it, then I make my pleasure, that is to say, myself, my god, I worship myself instead of God. This is a sin the essence of which must lie in the thoughts, in the judgment, in the affections. You need not make an image of gold, or of wood, and bow down before it; you can become a thorough-paced idolater in the temple of your heart by offering homage to your own self-will.

12. The second commandment contains a further prohibition, “You shall not make for yourself any carved image,” and so on. That is, “You shall not worship God under any symbol; you shall not worship God through any symbol,” or, in spirit, “You shall not worship God in any way which God has not commanded”; “You shall not invent for yourself methods and modes of worship, but you shall do as God commands you.” Now, we can very easily, in our thoughts, fabricate an image. This is what most of us do. We say and think that God is altogether such a one as we are; and, having formed for ourselves an idea of God, we bow down before it, and say, “These are your gods, oh Israel!” Brethren, you may be idolaters as much by worshipping a god whom your imagination has made as by worshipping a block of stone. That incomprehensible One, who has proclaimed himself in Scripture according to the mysterious attributes of his being, and has further revealed himself so sweetly and gloriously in the person of the Lord Jesus, — this is the God we must worship. We must not make a god, but take the God whom the Scripture reveals. We are not to form in our thoughts a god such as we should like him to be, — a god who is pure benevolence, but who has no justice; but we must take the God of Scripture, — grandly stern, severely dreadful in his wrath, while he is unbounded in his compassion, and is always gracious and full of mercy. We must acknowledge the God of the Bible, and not make a deity for ourselves, or else in our thoughts we have broken the divine law, and the fruit of that thought will be that we shall be idolaters, and sin will be laid at our door.

13. The third command, as you will clearly perceive, can be broken without saying a word: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Light thoughts of God, irreverence of soul towards him, is a violation of the solemn prohibition. You only have to think lightly of his name, and you have blasphemed it. Before your mouth has been opened to utter the rash expression, the rebellious thought is a profaning of the Most High.

14. As for the law of the Sabbath in the fourth command, which binds our race, that is readily enough violated by us all. Do not suppose that you are a keeper of the Sabbath because you do no work with your hands; you are just as guilty if you work with your brain. You are to rest on that day from all your own works. Do as much as you please for God on that day, but your mind should lay aside its care. You must not bring your shop here; you might almost as well stay at home, and carry on your trade. You must not bring your burdens in here! No, my brethren, leave them at the door, and ask for God’s grace that today you may rise above all these things, and give your heart and mind entirely to the worship of him who has sanctified the day to himself. You see, then, that this command may readily be broken without any overt act, and the breach destroys the validity of the Sabbath for you. It yields you no comforting rest while your mind is toiling, and tugging, and straining about a thousand troubles and difficulties; but if you kept the command in your spirit, it would be a sweet and blessed rest for you.

15. We turn now to the second table, the commands which relate to men. “Honour your father and your mother.” Ah! when we were children, and since then, unkind and unhallowed thoughts of our parents have been quite sufficient to convict us of offences against the law. Without a disobedient action, without a rebellious word, the child may in thought be a rebel to his parents.

16. “You shall not kill”; but Christ tells us that he who is angry with his brother without a valid reason is virtually a murderer; so that thought can slay and kill, and, indeed, it is the angry thought that lays the foundation for the deadly stroke. There would be no murdering and slaying if there were no enmity. Men would not march to kill each other, surely, or waylay their hapless victims, and do desperate deeds of violence, unless first of all their souls were set on fire by hell.

17. “You shall not commit adultery.” Little will I say on this command, but here is our Lord’s own exposition of it, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Fornication may so abound in us to our defilement, and our souls’ ruin, even though we may still be kept back by fear, maybe, from the commission of the evil deed. Beware, then, you who can gloat over evil; you who can suck the forbidden sweet behind the door; you who can roll the sweet morsel under your tongue; beware lest you shall have your portion with those who fall into the sin. I do not say that the thought of the sin is as bad as the sin itself; it cannot be so, certainly, in its result to others; but still it is a sin, and a sin to be answered for in that tremendous day, when the Judge of all the earth shall allot their portions to men.

18. “You shall not steal.” Every envious thought of another man, every desire to have what is not mine; everything of this kind, in which I would grasp what does not belong to me, is a constructive theft. The thief does not so much steal when he puts out his hand to take his neighbour’s purse, as in the thought which led him to do it, for the hand may sometimes take the purse without offence, — it may be to protect the property of one who is disabled, and incapable of guarding it himself. Such a thing is supposable that one man might take another’s purse legitimately, and have a right to do so. It is not the act, but the motive when he deliberately ventures to take what is not his own, and would possess for himself some of his neighbour’s goods to his neighbour’s injury, — this constitutes the very virus and soul of the theft.

19. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” If I think harshly of my neighbour without a cause; if I conceive an unjust prejudice against him; if I look coldly at him when he really does not deserve it; if I make up my mind out of some whim or fantasy that he is a bad fellow, and shrug my shoulders, and I do not know what else besides, though I have never said a word, yet still in thought I have injured my neighbour. Above all things, brethren, do avoid that shoulder-shrugging; it is an abomination! We sometimes see it in company. Ah! they will not dare to say what it means, — the cowards! You might suppose that the man against whom it is directed had killed his mother if you liked, for you are sure to suppose the worst. Do be brave enough, if it must be spoken, to speak it; and if it must not be spoken, well then, do not say it in that mysterious language which may ruin a man in the estimation of others. Avoid any false witnessing in your thoughts, and you will not bear it in your words.

20. To the last precept of the catalogue I have already referred; it is especially a thought-command: “You shall not covet.“ All greedy desires which make us wish to get our neighbour’s goods to the injury of others are sins, and the fruits of such thoughts are guilt, punishment, and the wrath to come.

21. Let me now conduct you a step further to another set of evil thoughts, which could not be very easily comprised in the Decalogue.

22. There are self-righteous thoughts, — the supposition that we are not as sinful as God says we are, the conceit that we may, perhaps, work ourselves out of our difficulties, and force our way to heaven. Now, the fruit of such a thought as this will be amazement in the day when God will strip us of our self-righteousness, and make us stand naked, to our eternal shame. Beware of self-righteous thoughts, my hearers! They are the Tarpeian {b} rock from which Satan has hurled thousands of souls. It would be better for you that a millstone were fastened around your neck, and that you were cast into the midst of the sea, than that you should thank God that you are not as other men, when after all you are as corrupt as other men, and will perish as they do. Self-righteousness keeps you from coming to Christ, and certainly it excludes you from eternal life, and will close the gates of heaven against you. May God deliver us from the fruit of such thoughts!

23. Then, again, proud, boastful, conceited, self-seeking thoughts are equally obnoxious. How highly some people do think of themselves! You can see it in their gait, and their speech betrays them. Yet their wine is all froth, and their gold in all counterfeit. Their speech, when they begin to tell of what they have, and what they can do, and what they did do on such and such occasions, — all this is an abomination to honest men; but their thoughts must be very abominable to God. It is one of the things which he says he hates, — a proud look. May God grant us grace to be rid of every proud thought, for we have nothing to be proud of! A proud man is nothing but a wind-bag, and when either the ills of life, or the crisis of death shall put a pin into it, what a collapse there will be, how the haughty one will discover himself to be nothing but emptiness and vanity! Get rid of proud thoughts, for, oh! what will they do? Pride dragged an angel from heaven, and made a devil of him, and pride would drag any of us down to the level of the devil if we fall into its snare.

24. Another set of thoughts, even more common, and not much decried, are murmuring thoughts. Ah, me, how full some people are of these! They can hardly speak without having something to grumble about. Business is always bad with them. Ever since I have been in London, business has been bad, but it is even worse now. It never was so bad as it is now, except that it was just as bad last year; and, as far as I know, has always been at the worst. Farmers never have, to the best of my knowledge, had more than “an average crop,” and most years there has been a failure. If the wheat has been good, the turnips have always gone bad, or something. I notice murmuring to be a very common thing with many people, and you no sooner sit down in the cottage than, instead of telling you that someone has been there to help them a little, and give them some assistance, they say they have only the parish allowance, — a miserable pittance! So it is; but they forget the mercies that they have. Why should I be always telling how often I have rheumatic pains, and how many times I find that there is something wrong with my constitution? Why should I make it my constant habit to compel everyone to be miserable wherever I go? “Well,” one says, “but you know we cannot help it!” My dear friend, then, if you do not help it, I will tell you what will be the fruit of it, — you will make yourself incorrigibly miserable. You will bring yourself into a desperate state, in which nothing will comfort you. I believe that, in this respect, we are very much our own masters. Not all bounties of providence can make us happy if we have a thankless ungrateful heart. You may have all that the world can give you, and yet be wretched; or you may be very, very poor, and yet be cheerful. A thankful heart is the thing we need; and, oh, may God be pleased to give us that thankful heart! But what I want you to remember is that murmuring is a great sin. They murmured against God in the wilderness, and he sent poisonous snakes among them. God thinks much of our complaints against his providential dealings with us; let us not think so little of the sin of provoking him with our thoughts.

25. How prone we are likewise to cherish unbelieving thoughts! Oh, that we were all rid of these; but I suppose, if I went around these galleries, I should find in every pew someone who has unbelieving thoughts. We imagine that God will forsake us, that providence will turn against us. We get like old Jacob when he said, “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and you will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me”; whereas everything is working for us, only we cannot see it. Be gone, unbelief, for the fruit of unbelieving thoughts is weakness, sorrow, rebellion against God, and I do not know what else of rashness and presumption. May God save us from these thoughts!

26. Procrastinating thoughts have been the fruitful source of mischief for very many of you. You have good thoughts and good resolves, but you always put things off, and think that better times will come for quitting your sins and seeking Christ; albeit the least evil would be a fearful waste of time, worse than that, for you run a perilous risk, and it is yet to be dreaded that your souls will be lost at the last.

27. Others of us have to complain of wandering thoughts when we are worshipping God, and the fruit of these is to spoil the golden seasons, which, if well used, might yield great profit. Often, when the service has been blessed to minister refreshment and instruction, and others have been nourished by the Word, some poor soul goes out, and says, “I have not enjoyed it at all.” Why, of course not, for your thoughts have been elsewhere. These are the birds that come down on the sacrifice. If, like Abraham, we drive them away, we shall be able to worship in peace; but if not, the fruit of wandering thoughts in the house of God is that the service is spoiled. So too in the prayer closet, whether ostensibly engaged in private devotion, or the reading of Scripture, unless the thoughts are centred on the subject at hand, there can be no spiritual gain in drawing near to God.

28. II. For a few minutes now let us think of brighter things, while I mention A FEW GOOD THOUGHTS AND THEIR FRUIT.

29. “Of which,” says an apostle, “we cannot now speak in detail,” when he had a long list and a short space; so I must say now. If you would have good fruit in your soul, cultivate humble thoughts. No man was ever injured by having too lowly a view of himself. The best definition of humility I ever heard was this, “to think lightly of ourselves.” To think of ourselves as below the standard is baseness; to think of ourselves as above the standard, is pride; but to form a right estimation of ourselves is true humility. Avoid the counterfeit which is in the world; that is mock humility. Be truly humble. Have low thoughts of yourselves, especially before God; penitent thoughts of sin, humble views with regard to divine grace, and a close account of your own responsibility are indispensable; so you will find that humility will sweep out the chamber of your soul, and prepare it for the incoming of the great Prince.

30. Cultivate very much forgiving thoughts towards your fellow men. Never be hard to be persuaded to pardon an offence. He who takes his brother by the throat will be sure to be taken by the throat himself. Evil for evil, it is said, is beastlike; good for good is man-like; evil for good is devil-like; but good for evil is Godlike. Try to do it; and if anything can make the bells ring in your heart, it will be to forgive one who has very greatly and deliberately injured you. The worse the offence, if you can overlook it, the greater will be your own joy, and the better proof will you have that you are a child of God.

31. Go to bed each night, and wake up each morning, with admiring thoughts of God’s goodness, and with adoring thoughts towards God’s greatness. You will find these thoughts to be like bees, that will come home to you laden with honey. Let your soul be a hive of them. Worship the Lord. Think much of him. Let every blessing you receive make you think of him. Do not sit at the table, and offer what we call “grace” because it is the custom to do so; but let your soul really see God’s hand in the gift of everything that is on the table. We need not fear worldly thoughts if we were to sanctify those worldly thoughts. One said, “The road on which I tread makes me think of Christ — the way. The door through which I pass makes me think of Christ — the door. I cannot handle money without thinking that I am not my own, but I am bought with a price. I do not receipt a bill without remembering that he has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against me. I cannot talk to my fellow man, and receive his answer, without thinking how I talk with God, and how he answers me.” In such a way, with many thoughts of God, you will find the fruit of heavenly-mindedness in your spirit. Angels will come and go to and fro between you and the courts of the Most High, if you have many of these admiring and adoring thoughts of God.

32. Thankful thoughts are well deserving your high encouragement. Get a cage full of these birds of paradise, and let them fly around in the groves of your soul, and sing there at all times. Oh! there is no better companion than cheerful gratitude. If a man can only see the mercy of God in everything, instead of always looking at the black side of the picture, he will be happy indeed. The fruit of thankful thoughts will be summer in his soul, even when it is the depth of winter outside. Cultivate thankful thoughts as you cultivate sweet flowers in your garden.

33. Yet again, dear friends, get many and abundant believing thoughts. When you cannot see your way, still trust in your Lord. Believe in him. Though everything should contradict the promise, still believe the promise to be true.

34. Abound much in thoughts of submission to God. Every morning exercise such thoughts. Put your soul into God’s hands so that he may deal with you according to his will all the day; and each night, when you review the day, thank God for it all, whatever it may have been, knowing that it must be good, indeed, must be best if God has ordered it.

35. I will finally say, — seek, believer, to have many longing thoughts after Christ. Have longing thoughts to be with him where he is. Let Christ have the best thoughts, — the cream of them. Let him have the first growth of your spirit. Be with him in waking. Say to him in the evening, “Remain with us, for the day is far spent.” And if you lie awake at night, still seek to have some precious thought of Christ, like a wafer made with honey, to put under your tongue. Oh! we can bring heaven down to earth if we can take our thoughts up to heaven. If thoughts are the wings, and the Spirit are the wind, we will fly away to the celestial paradise.

36. Be much, then, in such thoughts as these, and may the fruit of your thoughts be such as God himself may delight in, to Jesus Christ’s praise! Amen.


{a} Solecism: An error, incongruity, inconsistency, or impropriety of any kind. OED.
{b} Tarpeian: Denoting a rock-face on the Capitoline Hill at Rome over which persons convicted of treason to the state were thrown headlong. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Jer 7:1-15 17:1-14}

7:1-3. The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, “Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah, who enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.’” Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Amend your ways and your doings; and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

Many of them thought that, if they went up to the temple, it was all right with them; if they only went through the outward ritual, they would certainly be accepted. They must have been astonished when Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, met them at the temple door, and told them that the best worship of God was holiness, not the mere outward ceremony, but the renewal of the life, the cleansing of the heart before him.

4-7. Do not trust in lying words, saying ‘The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD. The temple of the LORD, are these.’ For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your harm: then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your forefathers for ever and ever.

The blessing is not to the temple and the temple worshippers, the blessing is to holy men, to such as love righteousness, to such as obey the living God, and do justice between man and man, and especially between themselves and the poor and needy of the earth. It is necessary to say this even now, for there are some who talk about being regenerated by baptism, of being saved by sacraments, they trust in their priests, and rely on their performances. “Do not trust in lying words”; that is the scriptural description of all that kind of thing, — just lying words, and nothing better.

8-10. Behold, you trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?

Will you quote the very decree of God as an excuse for your sin? Will you make it out that even he is partaker in your criminality? That will never do; only a lying heart could conceive of such an abomination.

11-16. Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it,” says the LORD. “But go now to my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these works,” says the LORD, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear; and I called you, but you did not answer; therefore I will do to this house, which is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your forefathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore do not pray for this people, neither lift up a cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear you.”

You know how, through the sin of Eli’s sons, God forsook Shiloh; and the tent of his house and the ark of his covenant were removed, and Shiloh became an utter desolation. So God will do to any church that becomes unfaithful to him. Go to Rome, and see what she is today, — mother of prostitutes, though once she seemed to be the chaste spouse of Christ. Her idolatries are as many as those of the heathen, for she forsook the truth of God, and turned aside from the Most High. Do not think that God is tied to any one place, or to any one ministry. If we do not walk before him properly, he may take the lampstand out of its place; he may take the talent away and give it to others, and then “Ichabod” shall be written on the walls whether it is Shiloh or Jerusalem. So Jeremiah has shown us clearly that no confidence can be placed in holy places or outward ceremonies; the state of the heart and the life is the all-important matter.

17:1. “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 812, “The Deep-Seated Character of Sin” 803}

It is so ingrained in their very nature that you might as well try to erase an inscription that is written on steel with the point of a diamond as hope to get this perversity out of the nation; it is inscribed on the tablets of their heart. What is mere habit can be altered, but what is ingrained in the heart cannot be taken away except by a miracle of grace. It was the heart that was wrong; the fountain-head was polluted, so what could the streams be but foul?

1. It is inscribed on the table of their heart, and on the horns of your altars;

Their holiest things were defiled. They wrote the names of their idol-gods even on God’s altar, and so they bore a written testimony against themselves.

2. While their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees on the high hills.

God forbade the setting up of altars. There was one altar at Jerusalem, and there were to be no more; but they selected places where great trees had long grown, they chose the tops of the hills, and they built shrines for their idols there; and therefore God was angry with them. Oh, how readily we may turn anything into sin! How easily our choicest mercies may be made into occasions for iniquity!

3-8. Oh my mountain in the field, I will give your substance and all your treasures to the spoil, and your high places for sin, throughout all your borders. And you, even yourself, shall let go of your inheritance that I gave you; and I will cause you to serve your enemies in the land which you do not know: for you have kindled a fire in my anger, which shall burn for ever.” Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comes; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Oh, the blessedness of confidence in God! You see it here set out in contrast with the misery of trusting in men. Drought comes even to this tree, and times of trouble come to the believer; but the drought does not affect the tree, for it has secret, underground sources from which it draws its life; it spreads out its roots by the river; and blessed is that man who has a secret life, a secret strength, a secret comfort which sustains him in the trying hour. The world cannot perceive it, but he drinks it in, and lives on it.

9. The heart — 

That is the principal matter; it was the heart of the nation which had gone astray from God: “The heart” — 

9-11. Is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Just as the partridge sits on eggs, and does not hatch them; so he who gets riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

The prophet compares the man who gets riches by falsehood and oppression to a bird which has many eggs, too many for her to cover, and consequently, though she sits on them, there is such a heap of eggs that none of them are hatched; they come to nothing. I think I know some men who are very like that partridge. It would be a great mercy for them if they only had half of the eggs that they have, for all they get is the care and trouble of covering them, but no living joy comes out of them; the eggs are rotten. He who does not have the grace of God in his heart is just like a bird sitting on rotten eggs. Poor soul! “At his end he shall be a fool.” He must therefore be something of a fool now, for he who pursues an end which shall end in folly is a fool to have such an end before him.

12-14. A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. Oh LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be ashamed, and those who depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. Heal me, oh LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are my praise.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1786, “Our Sanctuary” 1787}

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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