A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, April 28, 1861, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” (Ps 35:3)
1. The Psalmist, when he wrote these words, was surrounded by many and furious enemies. He pleads with God to take hold on shield and buckler, and to come forth for his defense. Yet he feels that there is only one thing which God needs to do in order to remove his fears, and make him strong in the day of conflict, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation,’ and I will defy them all. In the name of God I will set up my banner; and though weak in myself, yet I shall be able to overcome them readily, and tread them as straw is trodden from the dunghill, when the joy of the Lord shall be my strength, because you have said to me, ‘I am your salvation.’” Brethren, there is nothing that can make you strong to labour for God, bold to fight against your enemies, and mighty to resist your temptations, like a full assurance that God is your God, and your sure salvation. Your doubts and fears weaken you. While they nourish your despair, and diminish your joy, they do at the same time cut the sinews of your valour, and blunt the edge of your sword. A fully assured Christian is a very giant in our Israel; like Saul he stands for happiness and beauty, head and shoulders taller than the rest; while for strength and courage he is equal to David, and is like the angel of the Lord.
2. It is upon the subject of full assurance that I shall address you this morning, without further preface. I shall first bid you hear objectors, who oppose themselves to full assurance; secondly, I shall ask you to hear the test; and then I shall request you to hear the preacher.
3. I. First of all, let us HEAR OBJECTORS.
4. There are some who say, it is better that a man should stand in jeopardy of his soul every hour—better for him to be exercised with doubts and fears, than that he should grow confident, and have the joy of knowing assuredly that he is a saved man, is in the favour of God, and shall never be condemned. We will hear these objectors for a moment, and answer them speedily.
5. One of them advances, and he says, “First, I object to your preaching this morning, the doctrine of full assurance, because I believe it to be impossible. I cannot conceive that any man can know in this life, whether he shall be saved in the life to come. Perhaps I may grant you that, in the dying hour, some men may get a little confidence; but, with the exception of a few of the eminently holy, and the profoundly spiritual, it cannot be possible that Christians should attain to a full confidence, and an infallible assurance of being saved.” To this, sir, I reply thus. You say it is impossible: I say it is not only possible, but has been certainly enjoyed by the people of God. Does the Spirit of God teach men to pray for impossibilities? Yet David prays for it here: “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” The thing is possible, then, or else David would not have asked for it; it can be granted by God; it can be received by the Christian, or else this prayer would never have been put in inspired record. Besides, do you think that the Holy Spirit would exhort us to do an impossibility? And yet, does he not speak by the mouth of Paul, and say, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure?” Does he not bid us to be assured that we are called by grace, and that we are chosen by God? I say, that which may be a matter of prayer, and which is a subject of precept, cannot be an impossible thing. Besides, it has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of even ordinary every day Christians. We could read you their biographies, and find expressions like this: “I have no more doubt of my interest in Christ than I have of my existence.” “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him.” And there are many in this house today, who if this were the time for them to give their personal testimony, could say, “I know that I have been born again; I am sure that my sins are all forgiven; I am neither afraid to die, nor do I fear to live; for, living, Christ is with me, and dying, I shall be with Christ; being justified, I have peace with God through Jesus Christ my Lord.” Brethren, it is not impossible; it is attainable by the man who has faith, if he knows how to use the proper means.
6. But shall I tell you who the gentlemen are who generally raise objections to the glorious privilege of assurance? There are, first of all, the adherents of the Pope of Rome. Of course, the Papist does not like full assurance. And why? The Pope and his priest would have a lean larder if full assurance were well preached. Only conceive, my brethren, if the Roman Catholic could get the full assurance of salvation, surely the Cardinals would hardly find money enough to buy their red hats. For where would purgatory be then? Purgatory is an impossibility, if full assurance is possible. If a man knows himself to be saved, then he is not to be troubled with a silly fear about waiting in the intermediate state, to be purified with fire, before he can enter into heaven. Purgatory is only acceptable to those poor trembling souls who know of no sure salvation here, and are glad of this deceptive hope of a salvation to be performed in the world to come. Purgatory being thus built upon a lying imposition—on the fears of ignorant consciences, becomes what brave old Hugh Latimer used to call it, “Purgatory Pick Purse,” to the poor sinner, and “Purgatory Fill Purse” to the vagabond priest. Once let full assurance be given to all Christian men—first make the Romanist a Christian, and then let him be fully assured of his interest in Christ, and away goes purgatory, and there will never be a soul found to tremble about it any more.
7. The other people who object to this doctrine, are generally people who have no religion, and who want, therefore, to comfort themselves by the notion that no one has any more than they have. Your easy church goers and chapel goers; your ladies and gentlemen who think that religion consists in buying a Prayer Book, who imagine that to have a book of Psalms and Hymns, constitutes godliness; your fine folks to whom religion is as much a matter of fashion as some new colour, or some new form of dress;—these people, having no vitality in their godliness, never having a religion which could either make them cry or sing, never having godliness enough either to make them miserable, or make them blessed—these think there is nothing more in godliness than they have themselves. They say, “I never knew my sins were forgiven,” and judging all others by themselves, they think that no one else can know it either. And I am sorry to say, grieved at heart to say it, frequently I have known professed ministers of the gospel, who have even rebuked those who have reached to the high attainment of assurance. I was waited upon, not very long ago, by a lady of considerable standing, who had long been seeking rest, and nothing would satisfy her, unless she knew her sins were forgiven. She had called upon a clergyman, of some standing too, and he had assured her that the thing was utterly impossible; and she was ready to go mad with the idea that she must all her life go mourning on somewhere between hope and fear, in the balances between despair and hope. When I told her that it was not only the privilege of the Christian, but his duty to know himself to be saved, and that no man ought to rest until he was infallibly assured by the Holy Spirit that he was in a gracious state and delivered from fear of hell, the joy that flushed her face was something worth beholding, and she went on her way to seek, and I trust to find, the grace which is in Christ Jesus. I would have each of you put aside those carnal quibbles which are raised by Romanists and Romanizers, against the idea that we can know that we are saved, for not only can we know it, but we ought never to be satisfied until we do know it. And this, mark you, is not my statement; it is the obvious testimony of the Book of God, and was plainly held by all the fathers of the Church, Augustine, Chrysostom, and the like; it is the testimony of all the Reformers—of all the giant divines of the Puritan times, it is the testimony of all truly evangelical Christians, that every Christian has a right to have a full assurance of his salvation, and should never be content until he attains it.
8. But another objector rises, and faintly says, “But I am afraid, sir; I am afraid of your preaching full assurance, because so many people have boasted about it, and they have been vile pretenders, and have perished after all.” Friend, it is to be admitted that there have been many who have mistaken presumption for assurance. They have thought that the arrogant impertinence of a proud unhumbled spirit was the same thing as the simple child-like confidence of a renewed, regenerated heart. But note, assurance is not possible to you, until you are born again; you have no business to dream of it, until you have a new heart and a right spirit. It would indeed be a fearful piece of blasphemy for you to think that God is your Father when he is not your Father, or to dream that your sins are forgiven when your hands are scarlet with them, and your soul is black with your crimes. But because some make the counterfeit, am I to throw away the genuine? Because, truly, there are some tin shillings, will you all throw away the silver ones? Because some pass upon you the base forged banknote, will you therefore burn those which really come from the bank? I do not think so. And, my dear brethren, if thousands presumed, that would not be an argument why one true Christian should not be fully assured of his interest in Christ.
9. “Yes, but,” another says, “I am afraid, if men get fully assured, they will grow careless.” This is the old objection that was brought against faith in Luther’s time. “If men believe that they will be justified by faith,” said the Romanist, “they will never do any good works;” whereas the fact is, men never do any good works until they are justified by faith. Those who decry good works as the ground of hope, are the very men who work with all their might in the service of Christ; and as assurance is only faith come to perfection, the assured man will always be the most industrious man. Why, when I know that I am saved,
Then for the love I bear his name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
I pour contempt on all my shame,
And nail my glory to his cross.
A well grounded assurance is the most active worker in the field, the most valiant warrior in the battle, and the most patient sufferer in the furnace. There are none so active as the assured. Let a tree be planted in this soil, and watered with this river, and its boughs will bend with fruit. Confidence of success stimulates exertion, joy in faith removes sorrows, and realising assurance overcomes all difficulties. Like the sword of Goliath we may say of assurance, “There is nothing like it; give it to me.” Who cares for death, or demons, when he can read his title clear? What does the tempest matter without when there is calm within? Assurance puts the heart in heaven, and moves the feet to heaven. Its children are all fair, like the holy children in Babylon, and no race can compare for a moment with these “hinds let loose,” these “lion-like men,” these children of the sun. There never were men so self-sacrificing, so daring, so zealous, so enthusiastic in the cause of Christ, as the men who know that their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and therefore out of gratitude serve their God. Why, I ask the sinner here, who never thought of this matter before. Poor man! if your sins could be all forgiven this morning, and you could know it—if God should say to your soul, “I am your salvation,” and if you could go out of this house knowing that you were a child of God, do you think it would make you unholy? Do you think it would make you negligent? No, I think I see the tear in your eye, as you reply, “I would do anything for him; I would live for him; I would die for him, to show how I love him who loved me.” Ah! poor soul, if you believe in Christ now, that will be true. If you will cast yourself on Jesus now, you shall be forgiven; there shall be no sin left in God’s book against you; you shall be absolved, acquitted, delivered, cleansed and washed; and then you shall prove in your experience that assurance does not make men sin, but that assurance of pardon is the very best means of making men holy, and keeping them in the fear of God.
10. I have one class of objectors to answer, and I have finished. There is a certain breed of Calvinists, whom I do not envy, who are always jeering and sneering as much as they ever can at the full assurance of faith. I have seen their long faces; I have heard their whining periods, and read their dismal sentences, in which they say something to this effect—“Groan in the Lord always, and again I say, groan! He who mourns and weeps, he who doubts and fears, he who distrusts and dishonours his God, shall be saved.” That seems to be the sum and substance of their very ungospel-like gospel. But why is it that they do this? I speak now honestly and fearlessly. It is because there is a pride within them—a conceit which is fed on rottenness, and sucks marrow and fatness out of putrid carcasses. And what do you say is the object of their pride? Why, the pride of being able to boast of a deep experience—the pride of being a blacker, grosser and more detestable backslider than other people. “Whose glory is in their shame,” may well apply to them. A more dangerous, because a more deceitful pride than this is not to be found. It has all the elements of self-righteousness in it. I would sooner a man boast in his good works than boast in his good feelings, because you can deal with the man who boasts in his good works, you have plain texts of Scripture, and you convict him of being a legalist but this other man boasts that he is no legalist; he can speak very sharply against legality; he knows the truth, and yet the truth is not in him, in its spirit, because still he is looking to his feelings, and not looking to the finished work of Christ. Of all the Diabolians that ever stole into the city of Mansoul, Mr. Live-by-feeling was one of the worst of villains, though he had the fairest face. Brethren, you had better live by works than live by feelings; both are damning forms of trust, but the one is more deceptive and more delusive than the other by far. You are justified by faith, not by feelings; you are saved by what Christ felt for you, not by what you feel; and the root and basis of salvation is the cross, and “other foundation shall no man lay than what is laid,” even though he places his experience there, he builds “wood, hay, and stubble,” and not on the corner stone, which is Christ Jesus the Lord.
11. I have thus tried to meet my objectors: I shall now turn to the second part of the discourse briefly.
12. II. Let us HEAR THE TEXT. “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’”
13. The first thing the text seems to say is, David had his doubts, then; for why would he pray, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation,’” if sometimes he was not exercised with doubts and fears? Cheer up, Christian brother! If David doubted, you must not say, “I am not a Christian, because I have doubts.” The best of believers sometimes are troubled with fears and anxieties. Abraham had the greatest faith, but he had some unbelief. I envy the brother who can say that his faith never wavered. He can say more than David did, for David had cause to cry, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’”
14. But, next, the text says that David was not content while he had doubts and fears but he went at once to the mercy seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. “Oh Lord!” David seems to say, “I have lost my confidence; my foot slips; my feet are almost gone; my doubts and fears prevail; but I cannot bear it. I am wretched, I am unhappy. Say—say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’”
15. And then the text tells you yet a third thing—that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He goes at once to God in prayer. He knows that knee work is means to increase faith, and there, in his closet, he cries out to the Most High, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” Oh my brethren, we must be much alone with God, if we wish to have a clear sense of his love! Let your cries cease, and your eyes will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress.
16. Now pull the text into pieces, and let us look at the words. And notice, that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say to my soul.” Great God! if the priest should say it, it is nothing; if my minister should say it if the deacons, the Church officers, and all the members of the Church should say it, it is nothing. Lord, do you say it! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever satisfy the true Christian. The Spirit of God must himself, after a supernatural manner, speak to our conscience and to our heart, or else our spirit can never be peaceful and quiet. Gracious God! do not let me take my hopes for granted; do not let my confidence be poorly based and built upon the sand. Speak yourself, with your word of truth and wisdom, and say to me, even to me, “I am your salvation!”
17. Note, next, David cannot be content unless his assurance has a vivid personality about it. “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” If you should say this to all the saints, it would be nothing, unless you should say it to me. Lord, I have sinned; I do not deserve it; I am sinful; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say it to my soul even to my soul, “I am your salvation.” Let me have a pointed, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am yours, and that you are mine.
18. See, next, David must have it come deep into his inner being. “Say to my soul. Do not merely speak it into my ears; say it to my soul. Great God! do not let me imagine that I heard it in the air; do not let me dream that I listened to it in my sleep; but speak it right into the ears of my spirit, and let the inner man hear the echoes of your peace speaking voice,—‘Say to my soul, I am your salvation.’” Brethren, it is no skimming the surface which will do for us; we must have quiet in the deeps. That blessing “of the depth which lies under” we need and must have. We will not be content to have a fair skin, scarcely concealing with its deceitful gauze the foul and deadly leprosy. Our soul must be sound and healthy to the very core. Lord, say to my soul, in my heart’s inner depths, “I am your salvation.” Put it beyond doubt; put it beyond all chance, dispute, or question, “I am your salvation.”
19. Note again, David wants present assurance. He does not say, “Say to my soul, I will be your salvation,” but, “I am.” And yet that “am,” as you will see if you look at the text, is not in the original; it is in italics; it has been supplied by our translators. That word “am” is man’s word, not God’s; therefore I will say very little about it. It may be, “I will be your salvation,” or “I have been your salvation,” or “I am:” and very rightly there is no word there at all. You can learn as much from God’s silence as you can from his speech, and I think this silence means just this. There is no word put there at all, because full assurance enables the Christian to say of God, “He was my salvation before the worlds began, he is my salvation now, he will be when the world shall pass away.” So that you may prayer in any tense you prefer. “Say to my soul, I—your salvation,” The two terms shall be alike. “God—your salvation”—“I,” the great personal self-existent Deity, “your salvation.” The two shall stand and fall together; both of them shall be sure, both eternal in the ancient ages, both everlasting in the ages to come. “Say to my soul, ‘I, your salvation.’”
20. I think we have thus heard what the text has to say to us. You will remark, when you look at it all the way through, that the only question which we need ask is this: “How can God say to us, ‘I am your salvation?’” Do you expect to hear it as you walk along the streets, do you imagine that you will see it written on the skies? No, God speaks to his people thus: by his Word, by his ministers, and by his Holy Spirit silently and mysteriously imprinting upon the heart the fact, that that heart is washed in the Redeemer’s blood. Dr. Caesar Malan, of Geneva, has put in a very plain light the way in which God in his Word says to us, “I am your salvation.” You are to suppose the minister is talking to a friend; this friend is anxious and doubting, and wants to know how the Bible can say to any man, that that man is saved. The conversation runs like this:—
21. Pastor. “He who believes in Jesus Christ, has eternal life,” (John 3:36) do you know this declaration of the word of God? Very well, but you appear to think it is obscure or equivocal. John. Never, I am sure it is true. Yet all those who say—I believe in Jesus Christ, are not the elected of God, bought by the Lord, or saved by grace. All these are not chosen, for there are many hypocrites who dare to say that they believe in the Son of God. Pastor. You observe, that the word does not say, that those who say they believe, or pretend to believe, in Jesus Christ, or who imagine falsely that they believe, have eternal life; but this infallible word says, that those who believe in effect and really, have this life; so, then, the multitude in Christian nations who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, is not proof that they believe in effect; but if this multitude believes in effect on the Saviour, certainly they will have eternal life. John. Thus, then, sir, whoever is able to assure himself that he believes on the Saviour, then he will be certain that he has actually the eternal life, and that he is also elected.—(The minister took a little bit of paper and wrote upon it these words.) “Whoever receives from my hand this paper, and this declaration, I hold him for my friend: (he put his name to these words, and presenting it to John, he said to him.) Receive this from my hand, and believe my testimony, for I am a creditable person:”—(John took the paper and read what the minister had written.) Pastor. How am I to regard you, John, after this testimony that I have given you? John. I have the minister for a friend. Pastor. Is it from you to me that this friendship flows, or is it from me to you? John. It is from you to me. Pastor. Do you hesitate to say that I am your friend, and that you have become mine? John. If I said I did not believe you, I would make you a liar. Pastor. Do you, then, look with affection towards me, or is it I with affection towards you? for you are assured that I am your friend, and that I regard you as mine. John. You, dear sir, love me, and care for me. Pastor. And how are you assured that this goodwill is addressed to you! John. Because you have been pleased to say it, and I do not doubt your veracity. Pastor. I am sure that I have not written your name, as my friend; why then do you know that I have mentioned you in particular? John. You have written with your own hand, that whoever receives this paper, you shall have him for a friend; and because I have received this paper, and because I know that you are of good authority, I have no doubt at all upon the subject. Pastor. That is, then, because you have been certain on the one hand of having received this paper from my hand, and on the other hand, that I am of good authority, that you are certain of possessing, at the present, my affection. John. I do not think that I am able to speak with doubt upon this point, without insulting your veracity.
22. The substance of which is just this, that when you can take the Word, and find that you are the character there spoken of, it is as good as if an angel should fly down out of heaven to you, sitting in your pew now, and should say in your ear, in the presence of this congregation, “God is your salvation.” Now, brethren, I know today I have no other trust except in the cross of Christ; therefore I am saved; and you can say the same, each one of you, if you are resting in Christ alone, There is not an “if” or a “but” about it; you are saved. Oh! do enjoy that thought, and go home and live upon it; it shall be marrow and fatness to your spirit.
23. But, then, God often speaks by his minister, as well as by his Word. But that is very much in the same way. While the minister is preaching concerning those who are saved, you listen, and you say, “Ah, he speaks to me!” He describes your character, and though you are standing far away in the gallery, you say, “Ah, that is my character!” He speaks of the weary and heavy laden sinner, and he bids him come, and you say, “Ah, I am weary and heavy laden, and I will come,” and when you have come, Christ has given you rest. You need have no doubt about it; if you can fairly take hold on the promise which is offered to individuals who have certain characteristics, why, then you can go your way saying, “God has said to me by his servant, ‘I am your salvation.’”
24. Besides this, God has a way of speaking, without the Word and without the ministers, to our hearts. His Spirit can drop like the rain, and distil like the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb. We do not know how it is, but sometimes there is a deep sweet calm. Our conscience says, “I have been washed in the blood of Christ,” and the Spirit of God says, “Indeed, it is true, it is true.” In such times we are so happy—so happy that we want to tell our joys—so blessed, that if we could only borrow an angel’s wings and fly away, we would scarcely know the change when we passed through the pearly gates, for we have had heaven below, and there has been very little difference between that and heaven above. Oh, I wish my whole congregation, without exception, consisted of men and women who had heard the Spirit say, “I am your salvation.” What happy hymns! What happy prayers! You might go home to some poor single room; you might go to a scantily furnished house, and to a table that has hardly any bread upon it; but happy men! happy men! Your dinner of herbs would be better, than a stalled ox without confidence in Christ; better your rich poverty, than the poverty of the rich who have no faith in Jesus; better all the griefs you have to endure, when sanctified by assurance, than all the joys the worldling has, when unblessed by faith, and unhallowed by love for God. I can say now,—
Grant me the visits of your face,
And I desire no more.
25. I shall now pass to my third and last point—for a little while only, but earnestly, I trust.
26. III. Will you patiently HEAR THE PREACHER, in what he has to say?
27. I know that in this large assembly, I am addressing very many who never knew that they were saved. I must put you all into one class, though, indeed, you are not in the same state; for there are some who never knew that they were saved, who are saved. They do believe in Jesus; but their faith is so little, that they never know that they are forgiven. I have to put you in the class, because you do belong in it for the time being. But there are many of you who never knew that you were saved, because you never cared to know. It has been a matter of concern with you to find out your pedigree; but you never asked, “Is God my Father?” You have made quite sure of the title deeds of your estate; but you never took the trouble to ask whether heaven was yours or not. And possibly, some of you have imbibed a notion that it is a very easy thing to be saved—that there is no need to trouble your heads much about it—that as long as you do your duty, attend your church or frequent your chapel, it is well and good, and there is no use making this fuss about being born again, and having a new heart, and a right spirit. I may never have your ear again, but note this at the day of judgment, I will be clear of your blood if you perish in your delusion. This is the delusion of England. We have not half so much to dread Popery as we have that nominal Christianity, fostered by a national Church—that nominal Christianity which has no root nor soul within it. Oh! there are millions of Englishmen who think they are Christians, because they were sprinkled in infancy with holy drops, and because they have come to the Lord’s Table; whereas, little do they know that every time they have come there, they did eat and drink damnation to themselves, because they did not discern the Lord’s body. This is the curse and plague of England, that we have so much profession and so little possession—such multitudes of you who are content to sit under a sleepy ministry where ministers will not tell you the truth for fear of hurting your feelings; where they will preach the truth generally, as if a man should wave a sword, but do not come home personally, as if a man should drive it through your very heart. What we want is more home dealing, more plain speaking, more thrusting of the hand inside your soul, to make you tremble, and ask yourselves the question whether you are right before God or not.
28. I speak then, to all of you who never knew that you were saved; and first I say to you how foolish you are! Oh sirs! you are to die soon, and you are to go to heaven or to hell,—to splendours and glories, or to glooms and horrors; and yet you do not know which is to be your portion. Oh fools! miserable fools! If some of you should say, “I do not know whether I have a cancer or not,” I should say, seek the physician, and enquire if there is a fear; but to say, “I do not know whether I am in the bonds of iniquity and the gall of bitterness or not,” is awful indeed. Why, you make your estates as tight as law can tie them; all the skill of legal language is employed to make the deed secure; and yet you are content to have heaven as a thing of if, and but, and perhaps. Oh! fools indeed! How can you be so mad? Sure to die, and yet not sure whether you are saved! Sure to appear before the judgment bar of God, and yet not know whether you shall be acquitted or condemned? Oh! if there is wisdom left within you, if your brain is not turned to perfect madness I conjure you by the living God to make sure work of it, and never be content until you know that you are saved.
29. But again: I must not only call you foolish, but miserable. Miserable, I say. Do you look at me and say, “We are comfortable, we are easy; we are content?” Indeed, sirs, so do madmen talk. If I saw a man lying down upon the brink of the crater of a volcano, and I knew that very soon the lava would come streaming up, and then rolling down, I could not call him happy, though he was playing with Nature’s fairest flowers, or sucking her most delicious sweets. And you—you are in such a state as this! Upon a puff of wind, a bubble, hangs your eternal state. If life depended on a hair, it would indeed be precarious; but here is your soul depending on your life, which depends on something frailer than a dream. Oh sirs! you may drop dead in this house. Such things are not extraordinary. Men have come into the house of God bodies, and they have gone out corpses. And while I think that any one of you may die, and you are uncertain whether you shall be lost or saved I could sooner call you kings than call you happy; and the best title I can give to you is, oh miserable men! miserable men! uncertain as to your future state.
30. Once more, and let this last thought ring in your ears. Ah! you may go away, perhaps to your carefree parties, to your rounds of merriment, to your midnight balls, to your varnished ribaldry, maybe, but let this ring in your ears, “Oh! the danger—the danger of not knowing whether you shall be saved or lost!” You will die! I suppose you will not dispute with me about that. You do not claim to be immortal; you expect to die. You die; and what, sirs;—what, madam;—what if your fears should be true? Your companions are happy no longer; they are the damned spirits of hell; your occupations are frivolous no more; they are solemn and serious now—as solemn as death, and as serious as eternity. Where now is the music which once regaled our dainty ears? Your only symphonies are sighs, dirges, and howlings. Where now is the soft couch on which you took your rest and pleasure? You have made your bed in hell; and what a change for some of you—from the scarlet of Dives to the flames of hell—from the feasts so sumptuous to the fiends so terrible! Where are you now, you church goers, you chapel goers? You have no profession of religion here, no hymn books here; no minister of mercy; no voice of holy song; no ring of Sabbath bells; no tearful eye; no tender heart; no lip which trembles while it speaks to you, and only speaks of terror because it loves you, and would save you if it could. Oh my hearers, if you are not sure of being saved, what if you are sure of being damned! And you are either—note this—not to your own apprehension perhaps, but in fact; you are sure of one or the other. Which is it? Which must it be? I know, when I preach these terrible things, men will not listen to me; but God is my witness, I would not speak about them if I dare be silent about them. But if you perish, sirs, it shall not be for lack of pleading with, or praying for, or weeping over. Sinner! I beseech you turn! By him who died, and lives, and has sent me to plead with you, I beseech you, seek, if you have never sought, and if you have sought, seek again; and if you have found, find yet more fully, until you can say, “He is mine, and I am his.” Put your downy pillow under your head tonight, you sluggards: but do not sleep, for you may never wake in this world. Sit down to your luxurious meal tomorrow: let the dainties be sweet, leave them untasted, for you may one day be denied a drop of water. Oh sirs! do not be happy until you have made your happiness sure. Oh! have no peace, until your peace is everlasting, substantial peace. Do not talk of being blessed, until God has blessed you. Do not think that you can be blessed, while “God is angry with the wicked every day,” and has said, “Cursed is he who is under the law.”
31. But do you wish to be saved? Does the Spirit of God whisper to you, “Escape! escape!” There is forgiveness still; there is forgiveness now; there is forgiveness for you. Trust Christ, sinner, and you shall be saved—saved this moment. Believe in him now with all your guilt and sin around you. May the Holy Spirit now lead you to trust my Lord and Master; and you may go home assured that he has put away your sin for ever, and you are accepted and blessed in him. May God bless you, each one of you, now and for ever. Amen.
Surrounded by a host of foes,
Storm’d by a host of foes within,
Nor swift to flee, nor strong to oppose,
Single against hell, earth, and sin;
Single, yet undismay’d, I am;
I dare believe in Jesus’ name.
What though a thousand hosts engage,
A thousand worlds my soul to shake?
I have a shield shall quell their rage,
And drive the alien armies back;
Portray’d it bears a bleeding Lamb;
I dare believe in Jesus’ name.