Sermon 22. A Caution to the Presumptuous
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 13, 1855, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At Exeter Hall, Strand.
"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." -1 Cor. 10:12
IT is a singular fact, but nevertheless most certain, that the vices are the counterfeits of virtues. Whenever God sends fromthe mint of heaven a precious coin of genuine metal, Satan will imitate the impress, and utter a vile production of no value.God gives love; it is his nature and his essence. Satan also fashioneth a thing which he calls love, but it is lust. God bestowscourage; and it is a good thing to be able to look one's fellow in the face, fearless of all menin doing our duty. Satan inspires fool-hardiness, styles it courage, and bids the man rush to the cannon's mouth for "bubblereputation." God creates in man holy fear. Satan gives him unbelief, and we often mistake the one for the other. So with thebest of virtues, the saving grace of faith, when it comes to its perfection it ripens into confidence, and there is nothingso comfortable and so desirable to the Christian, as the full assurance of faith. Hence, we find Satan, when he sees thisgood coin, at once takes the metal of the bottomless pit, imitates the heavenly image and superscription of assurance,and palms upon us the vice of presumption.
We are astonished, perhaps, as Calvinistic Christians, to find Paul saying, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lesthe fall;" but we need not be astonished, for though we have a great right to believe that we stand, if we think we stand throughthe power of God-though we cannot be too confident of the might of the Most High, there is a thing so near akin to true confidence,that unless you use the greatest discernment you cannot tell the difference. Unholypresumption-it is against that which I am to speak this morning. Let me not be misunderstood. I shall not utter one wordagainst the strongest faith. I wish all Little-Faiths were Strong-Faiths, that all Fearings were made Valiants-for-Truth,and the Ready-to-Halts Asahel's Nimble-of-Foot, that they might all run in their Master's work. I speak not against strongfaith or full assurance; God giveth it to us; it is the holiest, happiest thing that a Christian can have, and there is nostate sodesirable as that of being able to say, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that whichI have committed unto him." It is not against that I speak, but I warn you against that evil thing, a false confidence andpresumption which creepeth over a Christian, like the cold death-sleep on the mountain-top, from which, if he is not awakened,as God will see that he shall be, death will be the inevitable consequence. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lesthe fall."
I shall this morning attempt first, to find out the character; secondly, to show the danger; and thirdly, to give the counsel. The character is, the man who thinks he stands; the danger is, that he may fall; and the counsel is, "let him take heed.
1. My first business shall be to FIND OUT THE CHARACTER intended by the presumptuous man, the man who thinks he stands. Icould find a multitude of such if I might search the wide world o'er. I could find men in business filled with an arroganthardihood, who, because they have in one speculation been successful will wade far out into the stormy sea of this contendinglife, risk their all-and lose it too. I might mention others who, presuming upon their health, arespending their years in sin and their lives in iniquity, because they think their bones iron and their nerves steel, and"all men mortal but themselves." I might speak of men who will venture into the midst of temptation, confident in their boastedpower, exclaiming with self-complacency, "Do you think I am so weak as to sin? Oh! no; I shall stand. Give me the glass; Ishall never be a drunkard. Give me the song; you will not find me a midnight reveller. I can drink a little and then I canstop." Such are presumptuous men. But I am not about to find them there; my business this morning is with God's church.The fanning must begin with the floor; the winnowing must try the wheat. So we are to winnow the church this morning to discoverthe presumptuous. We need not go far to find them. There are in every Christian church men who think they stand, men who vauntthemselves in fancied might and power, children of nature finely dressed, but not the living children of the living God;they have not been humbled or broken in spirit, or if they have, they have fostered carnal security until it has grownto a giant and trampled the sweet flower of humility under its foot. They think they stand. I speak now of real Christians,who, notwithstanding, have grown presumptuous, and indulge in a fleshly security. May my Master arouse such, while in preachingI endeavour to go to the core and root of the matter. For a little while I will expatiate upon the frequent causes ofpresumption in a Christian.
1. And first, a very common cause, is continued worldly prosperity. Moab is settled on his lees, he hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel. Give a man wealth; let his ships bring home continuallyrich freights; let the winds and waves appear to be his servants to bear his vessels across the bosom of the mighty deep;let his lands yield abundantly; let the weather be propitious to his crops, and the skies smile pleasantly upon his enterprise;let the bands ofOrion be loosed for him; let the sweet influence of the Pleiades descend upon him; let uninterrupted success attend him;let him stand among men as a successful merchant, as a princely Dives, as a man who is heaping up riches to a large extent,who is always prospering: or, if not wealth, let him enjoy continued health; let him know no sickness; allow him with bracednerve and brilliant eye, to march through the world, and live happily; give him the buoyant spirit; let him have the songperpetually on his lips, and his eye be ever sparkling with joy:-the happy, happy man who laughs at care, and cries, "Begone,dull care, I prithee begone from me." I say the consequence of such a state to a man, let him be the best Christian who everbreathed, will be presumption; and he will say, "I stand." "In my prosperity," says David, "I said, I shall never be moved."And we are not much better than David, nor half as good. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity-if wewere always dandled on the knees of fortune-if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar, if there were not a fewclouds in the sky, some specks in our sunshine-if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should becomeintoxicated with pleasure, we should dream "we stand;" and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; stand we might,but hike the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy. We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thankhimfor our depressions of spirit; we extol his name for the losses of our property; for we feel that had it not so happenedto us, had he not chastened us every morning, and vexed us every evening, we might have become too secure. Continued worldlyprosperity is a fiery trial. If it be so with any of you, apply this proverb to your own state, "As the fining pot for silver,and the furnace for gold: so is a man to his praise."
2. Again, light thoughts of sin will engender presumption. When we are first converted, our conscience is so very tender, that we are afraid of the slightestsin. I have known young converts almost afraid to proceed a step, lest they should put their feet in the wrong direction.They will ask advice of their minister, and difficult cases of moral casuistry will they bring before us, such as we hardlyknow how to answer. They have a holy timidity, a godly fear, lestthey should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the roughhandling of the surrounding world. The sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easilyyielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian will grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him andmade his blood run cold, does not alarm him in the least. I can speak from my own experience. When first I heard an oath,Istood aghast, and knew not where to hide myself; yet now I can hear an imprecation or blasphemy against God, and thougha shudder still runs through my veins, there is not that solemn feeling, that intense anguish, which I felt when first I heardsuch evil utterances. By degrees we get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slightsounds. The men who work in those huge vessels, the hammering of which causes immense noise, cannot at first sleep, for thecontinual din in their ears; but by-and-by, they, when they are used to it, think nothing of it. So with sin. First, alittle sin doth startle us. Soon we say, "Is it not a little one?" like Lot did of Zoar. Then there comes another, larger,and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard it as but a little ill; and then you know, there comes an unholy presumption,and we think we stand. "We have not fallen," say we, "we only did such a little thing; we have not gone astray. True, wetripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We might have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of ourconversation, it was consistent." So we palliate sin; we throw a gloss over it, we try to hide it. Christian, beware! whenthou thinkest lightly of sin, then thou hast become presumptuous. Take heed, lest thou shouldst fall. Sin- a little thing!Is it not a poison! Who knows its deadliness? Sin- a little thing! Do not the little foxes spoil the vines? Sin-a little thing!Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock that wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continualdroppings wear away stones? Sin-a little thing! It girded his head with thorns that now is crowned with glory. Sin-a little thing! It made him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe, till he endured
"All that incarnate God could bear, with strength enough, and none to spare."
It is not a little thing, sirs. Could you weigh it in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, andabhor the least appearance of evil. But alas! loose thoughts of sin often beget a presumptuous spirit, and we think we stand.
3. A third reason often is, low thoughts of the value of religion. We none of us value religion enough. Religious furor, as it is called, is laughed at everywhere; but I do not believe thereis such a thing as religious furor at all. If a man could be so enthusiastic as to give his body to be burned at the stake,could he pour out his drops of blood and turn each drop into a life, and then let that life be slaughtered in perpetual martyrdom,he would not love hisGod too much. Oh, no! when we think that this world is but a narrow space; that time will soon be gone, and we shall bein the for-ever of eternity; when we consider we must be either in hell or in heaven throughout a never- ending state of immortality,how sirs, can we love too much? how can we set too high a value on the immortal soul? Can we ask too great a price for heaven?Can we think we do too much to serve that God who gave himself for our sins? Ah! no; and yet my friends, most of us donot sufficiently regard the value of religion. We cannot any of us estimate the soul rightly; we have nothing with whichto compare it. Gold is sordid dust; diamonds are but small lumps of congealed air that can be made to melt away. We have noughtwith which to compare the soul; therefore we cannot tell its value. It is because we do not know this, that we presume. Doththe miser who loves his gold let it be scattered on the floor that his servant may steal it? Doth he not hide it in somesecret place where no eye shall behold it? Day after day, night after night, he counteth out his treasure because he lovesit. Doth the mother trust her babe by the river-side? Doth she not in her sleep think of it? and when it is sick, will sheleave it to the care of some poor nurse, who may suffer it to die? Oh! no; what we love, we will not wantonly throw away;what we esteem most precious, we will guard with the most anxious care. So, if Christians knew the value of their souls, iftheyestimated religion at its proper rate, they never would presume; but low thoughts of Christ, low thoughts of God, meanthoughts of our souls' eternal state-these things tend to make us carelessly secure. Take heed, therefore, of low ideas ofthe gospel, lest ye be overtaken by the evil one.
4. But again, this presumption often springs from ignorance of what we are, and where we stand. Many Christians have not yet learned what they are. It is true, the first teaching of God is to shew us our own state, butwe do not know that thoroughly till many year s after we have known Jesus Christ. The fountains of the great deep within ourhearts are not broken up all at once; the corruption of our soul is not developed in an hour. "Son of man," said the angelofEzekiel, "I will show thee the abominations of Israel." He then took him in at one door, where he saw abominable things,and stood aghast. "Son of man, I will show thee greater abominations than these;" then he takes him into another chamber,and Ezekiel says, "Surely I have now seen the worst." "No," says the angel, "I will show thee greater things than these."So, all our life long the Holy Spirit reveals to us the horrid abomination of our hearts. I know there are some here who donot thinkanything about it; they think they are good-hearted creatures. Good hearts, have you? Good hearts! Jeremiah had a betterheart than you, yet he said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" No; the blacklesson cannot be learned in a night. God alone knows the evil of the heart; and Young says, "God spares all eyes but his ownthat awful sight-the vision of a human heart." If we could but see it, we should stand aghast. Well, it is ignorance of thisthat makes us presume. We say, "I have a good nature, I have a noble disposition; I have none of those hot and angry passionsthat some have; I can stand secure; I have not that dry, tindery heart that is on fire in a moment; my passions are weakened;my powers for evil are somewhat taken down, and I may stand safely." Ah! ye little know that it is when ye talk like this,that ye presume. O worm of the dust, thou art not yet free from an evil nature, for sin and corruption remain in the hearteven of the regenerate; and it is strangely true, though it appears a paradox, as Ralph Erskine said, that a Christiansometimes thinks himself
"To good and evil equal bent
And both a devil and a saint."
There is such corruption in a Christian, that while he is a saint in his life, and justified through Christ, he seems a devilsometimes in imagination, and a demon in the wishes and corruptions of his soul. Take heed, Christian, thou hast need to beupon the watch tower; thou hast a heart of unbelief; therefore watch thou both night and day.
5. But to finish this delineation of a presumptuous man-Pride is the most pregnant cause of presumption. In all its various shapes it is the fountain of carnal security. Sometimes it is pride of talent. God has endowed a man with gifts; he is able to stand before the multitude, or to write for the many; he has a discerningmind, he has a judgment, and such like things. Then says he, " As for the ignorant, those who have no talent, they may fall;my brotherought to take care: but look at me. How am I wrapped in grandeur!" And thus in his self-complacency he thinks he stands.Ah! those are the men that fall. How many that flamed like comets in the sky of the religious world have rushed into spaceand been quenched in darkness! How many a man who has stood like a prophet before his fellows, and who would exclaim as hewrapped himself in his conceit, "I, only I am alive, I am the only prophet of God;" and yet that only prophet fell; his lampwasquenched, and his light put out in darkness. How many have boasted of their might and dignity, and have said, "I havebuilt this mighty Babylon," but then they thought they stood, and they fell at once. "Let him that thinketh he standeth,"with the proudest talents, "take heed lest he fall."
Others have the pride of grace. That is a curious fact; but there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, "I have great faith, I shall not fall;poor little faith may, but I never shall." " I have fervent love," says another man, "I can stand, there is no danger of mygoing astray; as for my brother over there, he is so cold and slow, he will fall, I dare say." Says another, "I have a mostburning hope of heaven, and that hope will triumph; it willpurge my soul from sense and sin, as Christ the Lord is pure. I am safe." He who boasts of grace, has little grace toboast of. But there are some who do that, who think their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantlyfrom the fountain head, else the bed of the brook shall soon be dry, and ye shall see the pebbles at the bottom. If a continuousstream of oil come not to the lamp, though it burn brightly to-day, it shall smoke to-morrow, and noxous will be the scentthereof. Take heed that thou neither gloriest in thy talents nor in thy graces.
Many are worse still; they think they shall not fall because of their privileges. "I take the sacrament, I have been baptized in an orthodox manner, as written in God's word; I attend such and such a ministry;I am well fed; I am fat and flourishing in the courts of my God. If I were one of those starved creatures who hear a falsegospel, possibly I might sin; but oh! our minister is the model of perfection; we are constantly fed and made fat; surelywe shallstand." Thus in the complacency of their priviledges they run down others, exclaiming, "My mountain standeth firm, I shallnever be moved." Take heed, presumption, take heed. Pride cometh before a fall; and a haughty spirit is the usher of destruction.Take heed; watch thy footsteps; for where pride creepeth in, it is the worm at the root of the gourd, causing it to witherand die. "Let him that thinketh he standeth," because of pride of talent, or grace, or privilege, "take heed lest he fall."
I hope I have touched some here; I trust the lancet has been sharp; I have taken the scalpel, and I hope I have discoveredsomething. O ye presumptuous ones, I speak to you; and I shall do so while next I warn you of your danger.
II. I shall be more brief on the second point-THE DANGER. He who thinks he stands is in danger of a fall. The true Christiancannot possibly suffer a final fall, but he is very much disposed to a foul fall. Though the Christian shall not stumble soas to destroy his life, he may break his limb. Though God has given his angels charge over him, to keep him in all his ways,yet there is no commission to keep him when he goes astray; and when he is astray he may thrusthimself through with many sorrows.
1. I must now try and give you the reason why a man who thinks he stands is more exposed to the danger of falling than anyother. First, because such a man in the midst of temptation will be sure to be more or less careless. Make a man believe he is very strong, and what will he do? The fight is thickening around him; yet he has his sword in hisscabbard. "Oh," saith he, " my arm is nimble and strong; I can draw it out and strike home." So perhaps he lies down inthe field, or sloth-fully sleeps in his tent; "for," saith he, "when I hear enemies approaching, such is my prowess andsuch my might, that I can mow them down by thousands. Ye sentinels watch the weak; go to the Ready-to-halts and the Fearings,and arouse them. But I am a giant; and let me once get this old Toledo blade in my hand, it will cut through body and soul.Whenever I meet my enemies I shall be more than conqueror." The man is careless in battle. He lifteth up his helmet, as itissaid Goliath did, and then a stone pierceth his forehead; he throws away his shield, and then an arrow penetrateth hisflesh; he will put his sword into his scabbard, then the enemy smiteth him, and he is ill prepared to resist. The man whothinks he is strong, is off his guard; he is not ready to parry the stroke of the evil one, and then the poignard enterethhis soul.
2. Again, the man who thinks he stands will not be careful to keep out of the way of temptation, but rather will run into it. I remember seeing a man who was going to a place of worldly amusement-he was a professor of religion-andI called to him, "What doest thou there, Elijah?" "Why do you ask me such a question as that?" said he. I said, "What doestthou here, Elijah? Thou art going there." "Yes," he replied, with some sort of blush, "but I can do that withimpunity." "I could not," said I; "if I were there I know I should commit sin. I should not care what people said aboutit; I always do as I like, so far as I believe it to be right; I leave the saying to anybody who likes to talk about me. But it is a place of danger, and I could not go there with impunity." "Ah!" said he,"I could; I have been before, and I have had some sweet thoughts there. I find it enlarges the intellect. You are narrow-minded;you do not get these good things. Itis a rich treat I assure you. I would go if I were you." "No," I said, "it would be dangerous for me: from what I hear,the name of Jesus is profaned there; and there is much said that is altogether contrary to the religion we believe. The personswho attend there are none of the best, and it will surely be said that birds of a feather flock together." "Ah, well," hereplied, "perhaps you young men had better keep away; I am a strong man, I can go;" and off he went to the place of amusement.That man, sirs, was an apple of Sodom. He was a professor of religion. I guessed there was something rotten at the corefrom that very fact; and I found it so by experience, for the man was a downright sensualist even then. He wore a mask, hewas a hypocrite, and had none of the grace of God in his heart. Presumptuous men will say they can go into sin, they are sofull of moral strength; but when a man tells you he is so good, always read his words backwards, and understand him to meanthat heis as bad as he can be. The self- confident man is in danger of falling because he will even run into temptation in theconfidence that he is strong, and able to make his escape.
3. Another reason is, that these strong men sometimes will not use the means of grace, and therefore they fall. There are some persons here, who never attend a place of worship very likely; they do not professto be religious; but I am sure they would be astonished if I were to tell them, that I know some professedly religious peoplewho are accepted in some churches as being true children of God, who yet make it a habit of stopping away from the house ofGod,because they conceive they are so advanced that they do not want it. You smile at such a thing as that. They boast suchdeep experience within; they have a volume of sweet sermons at home, and they will stop and read them; they need not go tothe house of God, for they are fat and flourishing. They conceit themselves that they have received food enough seven yearsago to last them the next ten years. They imagine that old food will feed their souls now. These are your presumptuous men.They arenot to be found at the Lord's table, eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, in the holy emblems of bread andwine. You do not see them in their closets; you do not find them searching the Scriptures with holy curiosity. They thinkthey stand-they shall never be moved; they fancy that means are intended for weaker Christians; and leaving those means, theyfall. They will not have the shoe to put upon the foot, and therefore the flint cutteth them; they will not put on the armour,and therefore the enemy wounds them-sometimes well- nigh unto death. In this deep quagmire of neglect of the means, manya haughty professor has been smothered.
4. Once more, the man who is self- confident runs a fearful hazard, because God's Spirit always leaves the proud. The gracious Spirit delights to dwell in the low places. The holy dove came to Jordan; we read not that it ever rested onBashan. The man upon the white horse rode among the myrtle trees, not among the cedars. The myrtle trees grew at the footof the mountains; the cedars on the summit thereof. God loves humility. He who walks with fear and trembling,fearing lest he should go astray, that man the Spirit loves; but when once pride creeps in, and the man declares, "NowI am in no danger," away goes the dove; it flies to heaven and will have nought to do with him. Proud souls, ye quench theSpirit. Ye arrogant men, ye grieve the Holy Ghost. He leaves every heart where pride dwelleth; that evil spirit of Luciferhe abhors; he will not rest with it; he will not tarry in its company. Here is your greatest danger, ye proud ones- that theSpiritleaves those who deny their entire dependence on him.
III. The third point is THE COUNSEL. I have been expounding the text; now I want to enforce it. I would, if my Lord wouldallow me, speak home to your souls, and so picture the danger of a presumptuous man, that I would make you all cry out toheaven that sooner might you die than presume; that sooner might you be found amongst those who lie prostrate at the footof Christ, trembling all their lives, than amongst those who think they stand, and therefore fall. Christianmen, the counsel of Scripture is-" Take heed."
1. First, take heed, because so many have fallen. My brother, could I take thee into the wards of that hospital where lie sick and wounded Christians, I could make you tremble.I would show you one, who, by a sin that occupied him not a single moment, is so sore broken, that his life is one continuedscene of misery. I could show you another one, a brilliant genius, who served his God with energy, who is now-not a priestof the devil it is true, but almostthat-sitting down in despair, because of his sin. I could point you to another person, who once stood in the church, piousand consistent, but who now comes up to the same house of prayer as if he were ashamed of himself, sits in some remote corner,and is no longer treated with the kindness he formerly received, the brethren themselves being suspicious, because he so greatlydeceived them, and brought such dishonor upon the cause of Christ. Oh! did ye know the sad pain which those endure whofall. Could ye tell how many have fallen, (and have not perished, it is true,) but still have dragged themselves along,in misery, throughout their entire existence, I am sure ye would take heed. Come with me to the foot of the mountain of presumption.See there the maimed and writhing forms of many who once soared with Icarian wings in the airy regions of self-confidence;yet there they lie with their bones broken, and their peace destroyed. There lies one who had immortal life within him; seehow full of pain he appears, and he looks a mass of helpless matter. He is alive, it is true, but just alive. Ye knownot how some of those enter heaven who are saved, "so as by fire." One man walks to heaven; he keeps consistent; God is withhim, and he is happy all his journey through. Another says, "I am strong, I shall not fall." He runs aside to pluck a flower;he sees something which the devil has laid in his way; he is caught first in this gin, and then in that trap; and when hecomesnear the river, instead of finding before him that stream of nectar of which the dying Christian drinks, he sees firethrough which he has to pass, blazing upon the surface of the water. The river is on fire, and as he enters it he is scorchedand burned. The hand of God is lifted up saying, "Come on, come on;" but as he dips his foot in the stream, he finds the firekindling around him, and though the hand clutches him by the hair of the head, and drags him through, he stands upon the shoreofheaven, and cries, " I am a monument of divine mercy, for I have been saved so as by fire." Oh ! do you want to be savedby fire, Christians? Would ye no rather enter heaven, singing songs of praises? Would ye not glorify him on earth, and thengive your last testimony with, "Victory, victory, victory, unto him that loved us;" then shut your eyes on earth, and openthem in heaven? If you would do so, presume not. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
2. Once more, my brother, take heed, because a fall will so much damage the cause of Christ. Nothing has hurt religion one-half, or one thousandth part, so much as the fall of God's people. Ah ! when a true believersins, how will the world point at him. "That man was a deacon, but he knows how to charge exorbitantly. That man was a professor,but he can cheat as well as his neighbours. That man is a minister, and he lives in sin." Oh ! when the mighty fall-it isrejoice fir tree, for the cedar has fallen-how does the world exult ! They chuckle over our sin; they rejoice over ourfaults; they fly around us, and if they can see one point where we are vulnerable, how will they say, "See these holy peopleare no better than they should be." Because there is one hypocrite, men set down all the rest the same. I heard one man say,a little while ago, that he did not believe there was a true Christian living, because he had found out so many hypocrites.Ireminded him that there could be no hypocrites if there were no genuine ones. No one would try to forge bank notes ifthere were no genuine ones. No one would think of passing a bad sovereign if there were no sterling coin. So the fact of theirbeing some hypocrites proves that there are some genuine characters. But let those who are so, take heed; let them always,in their conduct, have the ring of true gold. Let your conversation be such as to become the gospel of Christ, lest by anymeansthe enemy get the advantage over us, and slander the name of Jesus.
And especially is this incumbent upon the members of our own denomination, for it is often said that the doctrines we believehave a tendency to lead us to sin. I have heard it asserted most positively, that those high doctrines which we love and whichwe find in the Scriptures, are licentious ones. I do not know who has the hardihood to make that assertion, when they considerthat the holiest of men have been believers in them. I ask the man who dares to say thatCalvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitfield, who in successiveages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of those Puritans, whose works are full of them?Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing; but now we are lookedupon as the heretics, and they the orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent fromthe Apostles. It is that vein of free grace running through the sermonising of Baptists, which has saved us as a denomination.Were it not for that, we should not stand where we are. We can run a golden link from hence up to Jesus Christ himself, througha holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can say of them, where will you find holierand better men in the world? We are not ashamed to say of ourselves, that however much we may be maligned and slandered,ye will not find a people who will live closer to God than those who believe that they are saved not by their works, butby free grace alone. But, oh ! ye believers in free grace, be careful. Our enemies hate the doctrine; and if one falls, "Ahthere," say they, "see the tendency of your principles." Nay, we might reply, see what is the tendency of your doctrine. The exception in our case proves the rule is true, that after all, our gospel does lead us to holiness. Of all men, thosehavethe most disinterested piety, the sublimest reverence, the most ardent devotion, who believe that they are saved by grace,without works, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christian take heed, lest by any means Christshould be crucified afresh, and should be put unto an open shame.
And now what more can I say ? Oh ye, my beloved, ye my brethren, think not that ye stand, lest ye should fall. Oh ye fellowheirs of everlasting life and glory, we are marching along through this weary pilgrimage; and I, whom God hath called to preachto you, would turn affectionately to you little ones, and say, take heed lest ye fall. My brother, stumble not. There lieththe gin, there the snare. I am come to gather the stones out of the road, and take away the stumblingblocks. But what can I do unless, with due care and caution, ye yourselves walk guardedly. Oh, my brethren; be much morein prayer than ever. Spend more time in pious adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your livesmore carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven.Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men's souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have beenwithJesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come when he whom you love shall say, "Come up higher,"let it be your happiness to hear him say, "Come my beloved, thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course,and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness that fadeth not away". On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling ! On yet, with faith and confidence, for thou shalt not fall. Read the next verse of thisverychapter: "He will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able to bear, but will, with the temptation, alsomake a way to escape."
But I have some here, perhaps, who may never hear my voice again; and I will not let my congregation go, God helping me, withouttelling them the way of salvation. Sirs, there are some of you who know ye have not believed in Christ. If ye were to diewhere ye now sit ye have no hope that ye would rise amongst the glorified in bliss. How many are there here who if their heartscould speak, must testify that they are without God, without Christ, and strangers from thecommon-wealth of Israel. Oh, let me tell you then, what ye must do to be saved. Does your heart beat high? Do ye grieveover your sins? Do ye repent of your iniquities? Will ye turn unto the living God? If so, this is the way of salvation; "Whosoeverbelieveth and is baptised shall be saved." I cannot reverse my Master's order-he says, "believeth," and then "baptised;" andhe tells me that "he that believeth not shall be damned." Oh, my hearers, your works cannot save you. Though I havespoken to Christians, and exhorted them to live in good works, I talk not so to you. I ask ye not to get the flower beforeye have the seed. I will not bid you get the roof of your house before ye lay the foundation. Believe on the name of the LordJesus Christ, and ye shall be saved. Whosoever here will now cast himself as a guilty worm flat on Jesus-whoever will throwhimself into the arms of everlasting love, that man shall be accepted; he shall go from that door justified and forgiven,with his soul as safe as if he were in heaven, without the danger of its ever being lost. All this is through belief inChrist.
Surely ye need no argument. If I thought ye did I would use it. I would stand and weep till ye came to Christ. If I thoughtI was strong enough to fetch a soul to Jesus, if I thought that moral suasion could win you, I would go round to each of yourseats and beg of you in God's name to repent. But since I cannot do that, I have done my duty when I have prophesied to thedry bones. Remember we shall meet again. I boast of neither eloquence nor talent, and I cannotunderstand why ye come here; I only speak right on, and tell you what I feel; but mark me, when we meet before God's bar,however ill I may have spoken, I shall be able to say, that I said to you, "Believe on the name of Jesus, and ye shall besaved." Why will ye die, O house of Israel? Is hell so sweet, is everlasting torment so much to be desired, that thereforeye can let go the glories of heaven, the bliss of eternity? Men, are ye to live for ever? or, are ye to die like brutes? "Live!"say you, Well, then, are you not desirous to live in a state of bliss? Oh, may God grant you grace to turn to him withfull purpose of heart! Come, guilty sinner, come! God help you to come, and I shall be well repaid, if but one soul be addedto the visible fold of Jesus, through aught I may have said.