Sermon 233. Free Grace
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 9th, 1859, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
"Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O houseof Israel."-Ezekiel 36:32.
There are two sins of man that are bred in the bone, and that continually come out in the flesh. One is self-dependence andthe other is self-exaltation. It is very hard, even for the best of men, to keep themselves from the first error. The holiestof Christians, and those who understand best the gospel of Christ, find in themselves a constant inclination to look to thepower of the creature, instead of looking to the power of God and the power of God alone. Over and overagain, Holy Scripture has to remind us of that which we never ought to forget, that salvation is God's work from firstto last, and is not of man, neither by man. But so it is, this old error-that we are to save ourselves, or that we are todo something in the matter of salvation-always rises up, and we find ourselves continually tempted by it to step aside fromthe simplicity of our faith in the power of the Lord our God. Why, even Abraham himself was not free from the great errorofrelying upon his own strength. God had promised to him that He would give him a son-Isaac, the child of promise. Abrahambelieved it, but at last, weary with waiting, he adopted the carnal expedient of taking to himself Hagar, to wife, and hefancied that Ishmael would most certainly be the fulfillment of God's promise; but instead of Ishmael's helping to fulfillthe promise, he brought sorrow unto Abraham's heart, for God would not have it that Ishmael should dwell with Isaac. "Castout,"said the Scripture, "the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." Now we, in the matter of salvation, are apt to think that God is tarrying long in the fulfillment of His promise,and we set to work ourselves to do something, and what do we do?sink ourselves deeper in the mire and pile up for ourselvesa store of future troubles and trials. Do we not read that it grieved Abraham's heart to send Ishmael away? Ah! and many aChristianhas been grieved by those works of nature which he accomplished with the design of helping the God of grace. Oh, beloved,we shall find ourselves very frequently attempting the foolish task of assisting Omnipotence and teaching the Omniscient One.Instead of looking to grace alone to sanctify us, we find ourselves adopting Philosophic rules and principles which we thinkwill effect the Divine work. We shall but mar it; we shall bring grief into our own spirits. But if, instead thereof, we inevery work look up to the God of our salvation for help, and strength, and grace, and succor, then our work will proceedto our own joy and comfort, and to God's glory. That error, then, I say is in our bone, and will always dwell with us, andhence it is that the words of the text are put as an antidote against that error. It is distinctly stated in our text thatsalvation is of God. "Not for your sakes do I this." He says nothing about what we have done or can do. All the preceding andall the succeeding verses speak of what God does. "I will take you from among the heathen." "I will sprinkle clean water upon you." "I will give you a new heart." "I will put my Spirit within you." It is all of God: therefore, again recall to our recollection this doctrine, and give upall dependence upon our own strength and power.
The other error to which man is very prone, is that of relying upon his own merit. Though there is no righteousness in anyman, yet in every man there is a proneness to truth in some fancied merit. Strange that it should be so, but the most reprobatecharacters have yet some virtue as they imagine, upon which they rely. You will find the most abandoned drunkard pride himselfthat he is not a swearer. You will find the blaspheming drunkard pride himself that at least he ishonest. You will find men with no other virtue in the world, exalt what they imagine to be a virtue-the fact that theydo not profess to have any; and they think themselves to be extremely excellent, because they have honesty or rather impudenceenough to confess that they are utterly vile. Somehow the human mind clings to human merit; it always will hold to it, andwhen you take away everything upon which you think it could rely, in less than a moment it fashions some other ground forconfidence out of itself. Human nature with regard to its own merit, is like the spider, it bears its support in its ownbowels, and it seems as if it would keep spinning on to all eternity. You may brush down one web, but it soon forms another,you may take the thread from one place, and you will find it clinging to your finger, and when you seek to brush it down withone hand you find it clinging to the other. It is hard to get rid of; it is ever ready to spin its web and bind itself tosomefalse ground of trust. It is against all human merit that I am this morning going to speak, and I feel that I shall offenda great many people here. I am about to preach a doctrine that is gall and vinegar to flesh and blood, one that will makerighteous moralists gnash their teeth, and make others go away and declare that I am an Antinomian, and perhaps scarcely fitto live. However, that consequence is one which I shall not greatly deplore, if connected with it there should be in otherheartsa yielding to this glorious truth, and a giving up to the power and grace of God, who will never save us, unless we areprepared to let Him have all the glory.
First, I shall endeavor to expound at large the doctrine contained in this text; in the next place I shall endeavour to show its force and truthfulness; and then in the third place I shall seek God's Holy Spirit to apply the useful, practical lessons which are to be drawn from it.
I. I shall endeavour to EXPOUND THIS TEXT. "Not for your sakes do I this saith the Lord God." The motive for the salvationof the human race is to be found in the breast of God, and not in the character or condition of man. Two races have revoltedagainst God-the one angelic, the other human. When a part of this angelic race revolted against the Most High, justice speedilyovertook them; they were swept from their starry seats in Heaven, and henceforth they have beenreserved in darkness unto the great day of the wrath of God. No mercy was ever presented to them, no sacrifice ever offeredfor them; but they were without hope and mercy, forever consigned to the pit of eternal torment. The human race, far inferiorin order of intelligence, sinned as atrociously; at any rate, if the sins of manhood that we have heard of be put togetherand rightly weighed, I can scarcely understand how even the sins of devils could be much blacker than the sin of mankind.However, the God who in His infinite justice passed over angels, and suffered them forever to expiate their offences inthe fires of hell, was pleased to look down on man. Here was election on a grand scale; the election of manhood, and the reprobationof fallen angelhood. What was the reason for it? The reason was in God's mind, an inscrutable reason which we do not know,and which if we knew probably we could not understand. Had you and I been put upon the choice of which should have beenspared, I do think it probable we should have chosen that fallen angels should have been saved. Are they not the brightest?Have they not the greatest mental strength? If they had been redeemed, would it not have glorified God more, as we judge,than the salvation of worms like ourselves? Those bright beings-Lucifer, son of the morning, and those stars that walked inhis train-if they had been washed in His redeeming blood, if they had been saved by sovereign mercy, what a song would theyhave lifted up to the Most High and everlasting God! But God, who doeth as He wills with His own, and giveth no accountof His matters, but who deals with His creatures as the potter deals with his clay, took not upon Him the nature of angels,but took upon Him the seed of Abraham, and chose men to be the vessels of His mercy. This fact we know, but where is its reason?certainly not in man. "Not for your sakes do I this. O house of Israel, be ashamed and be confounded for your own ways."
Here, very few men object. We notice that if we talk about the election of men and the non-election of fallen angels, thereis not a cavil for a moment. Every man approves of Calvinism till he feels that he is the loser by it; but when it beginsto touch his own bone and his own flesh then he kicks against it. Come, then, we must go further. The only reason why oneman is saved, and not another, lies not, in any sense, in the man saved, but in God's bosom. The reason whythis day the gospel is preached to you and not the heathen far away, is not because, as a race, we are superior to theheathen; it is not because we deserve more at God's hands; His choice of Britain, in the election of outward privilege, isnot caused by the excellency of the British nation, but entirely because of His own mercy and His own love. There is not reasonin us why we should have the gospel preached to us more than any other nation. Today, some of us have received the gospel,andhave been changed by it, and have become the heirs of light and immorality, whereas others are left still to be the heirsof wrath. But there is no reason in us why we should have been taken and others left.
"There was nothing in us to merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight.
'Twas 'Even so, Father!' we ever must sing,
Because it seem'd good in thy sight."
And now, let us review this doctrine at length. We are taught in Holy Scripture that, long before this world was made, Godforeknew and foresaw all the creatures He intended to fashion; and there and then foreseeing that the human race would fallinto sin, and deserve His anger, determined, in His own sovereign mind, that an immense portion of the human race should beHis children, and should be brought to Heaven. As to the rest, He left them to their own deserts. to sowthe wind and reap the whirlwind, to scatter crime and inherit punishment. Now, in the great decree of election, the onlyreason why God selected the vessels of mercy must have been because He would do it. There was nothing in any one of them whichcaused God to choose them. We all were alike, all lost, all ruined by the fall; all without the slightest claim upon His mercy;all, in fact, deserving His utmost vengeance. His choice of any one, and His choice of all His people, are causeless, sofar as anything in them was concerned. It was the effect of His sovereign will, and of nothing which they did, could do,or even would do; for thus saith the text: "Not for your sakes do I this, O house of Israel!"
As for the fruit of our election, in due time Christ came into this world, and purchased with His blood all those whom theFather hath chosen. Now come ye to the cross of Christ; bring this doctrine with you, and remember that the only reason whyChrist gave up His life to be a ransom for His sheep was because He loved His people, but there was nothing in His peoplethat made Him die for them. I was thinking as I came here this morning, if any man should imagine that thelove of God to us was caused by anything in us, it would be as if a man should look into a well to find the springs ofthe ocean, or dig into an anthill to find an Alp. The love of God is so immense, so boundless and so infinite, that you cannotconceive for a moment that it could have been caused by anything in us. The little good that is in us-the no good that isin us-for there is none, could not have caused the boundless, bottomless, shoreless, summitless love which God manifests toHispeople. Stand at the foot of the cross, ye merit-mongers, ye that delight in your own works; and answer this question:Do you think that the Lord of life and glory could have been brought down from Heaven, could have been fashioned like a man,and have been led to die through any merit of yours? Shall these sacred veins be opened with any lancet less sharp than Hisown infinite love? Do you conceive that your poor merits, such as they are, could be so efficacious as to nail the Redeemerto thetree, and make Him bend His shoulders beneath the enormous load of the world's guilt? You cannot imagine it. The consequenceis so great, compared with what you suppose to be the case, that your logic fails in a moment. You may conceive that a coralinsect rears a rock by its multitude, and by its many years of working; but you cannot conceive that all the accumulated meritsof manhood, if there were such things, could have brought the Eternal from the throne of His majesty, and bowed Him tothe death of the cross: that is a thing as clearly impossible to any thoughtful mind, as impossibility can be. No; fromthe cross comes the cry-"Not for your sakes do I this, O house of Israel."
After Christ's death, there comes, in the next place, the work of the Holy Spirit. Those whom the Father hath chosen, and whom the Son has redeemed, in due time the Holy Spirit calls "out of darkness intomarvelous light." Now, the calling of the Holy Spirit is without any regard to any, merit in us. If this day the Holy Spiritshall call out of this congregation a hundred men, and bring them out of their estate of sin into a state of righteousness,you shall bringthese hundred men, and let them march in review, and if you could read their hearts, you would be compelled to say, "Isee no reason why the Spirit of God should have operated upon these. I see nothing whatever that could have merited such graceas this-nothing that could have caused the operations and motions of the Spirit to work in these men." For, look ye here.By nature, men are said to be dead in sin. If the Holy Spirit quickens, it cannot be because of any power in the dead men,or anymerit in them, for they are dead, corrupt and rotten in the grave of their sin. If then, the Holy Spirit says, "Come forthand live," it is not because of anything in the dry bones, it must be for some reason in His own mind, but not in us. Therefore,know ye this, men and brethren, that we all stand upon a level. We have none of us anything that can recommend us to God;and if the Spirit shall choose to operate in our hearts unto salvation, He must be moved to do it by His own supreme love,for He cannot be moved to do it by any good will, good desire, or good deed, that dwells in us by nature.
To go a little further: this truth, which holds good so far, holds good all the way. God's people, after they are called by grace, are preserved in Christ Jesus; they are "kept by the power of God through faithunto salvation;" they are not suffered to sin away their eternal inheritance, but as temptations arise they have strengthgiven with which to encounter them, and as sin blackens them they are washed afresh, and again cleansed. But mark, the reasonwhy Godkeeps His people is the same as that which made them His people-His own free sovereign grace. If, my brother, you havebeen delivered in the hour of temptation, pause and remember that you were not delivered for your own sake. There was nothingin you that deserved the deliverance. If you have been fed and supplied in your hour of need, it is not because you have beena faithful servant of God, nor because you have been a prayerful Christian; it is simply and only because of God's mercy.Heis not moved to anything He does for you by anything .that you do for Him; His motive for blessing you lies wholly andentirely in the depths of His own bosom. Blessed be God, His people shall be kept.
"Nor death, nor Hell shall e'er remove
His favourites from His breast;
In the dear bosom of His love
They must forever rest."
But why? Because they are holy? Because they are sanctified? Because they serve God with good works? No, but because he inhis sovereign grace has loved them, does love them, and will love them, even to the end.
And to conclude my exposition of this text. This shall hold good in Heaven itself. The day is coming when every blood-bought,blood-washed child of God shall walk the golden streets arrayed in white. Our hands shall soon bear the palm; our ears shallbe delighted with celestial melodies, and our eyes filled with the transporting visions of God's glory. But mark, the onlyreason why God shall bring us to Heaven shall be His own love, and not because we deserved it. We mustfight the fight, but we do not win the victory because we fight it; we must labour, but the wage at the days' end shallbe a wage of grace, and not a debt. We must honour God here, looking for the recompense of the reward; but that recompensewill not be given on a legal ground, because we merited it, but given to us entirely because God had loved us, for no reasonthat was in us. When you and I and each of us shall enter Heaven, our song shall be, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thynamebe all the glory;" and that shall be true, it shall not be a mere exaggeration of gratitude. It shall be true; we shallbe compelled to sing it, because we could not sing anything else. We shall feel that we did nothing, and that we were nothing,but that God did it all-that we had nothing in us to be the motive of his doing it, but that His motive lay in Himself; thereforeunto Him shall be every particle of the honour forever and ever.
Now, this, I take it, is the meaning of the text; distasteful it is to the great majority, even of professing Christians inthis age. It is a doctrine that requires a great deal of salt, or else few people will receive it. It is very unsavory tothem. However, there It stands. "Let God be true, and every man a liar." His truth we must preach, and this we must proclaim.Salvation is "not of men, neither by man; not of the will of the flesh, nor of blood," nor of birth, butof the sovereign will of God, and God alone.
II. And now, in the second place, I have to ILLUSTRATE AND ENFORCE THIS TEXT.
Consider a moment man's character. It will humble us, and it will tend to confirm this truth in our minds. Let me take anillustration. I will consider man as a criminal. He certainly is such in the sight of God, and I shall not slander him. Supposenow that some great criminal is at last overtaken in his sin, and shut up in Newgate. He has committed high treason, murder,rebellion, and every possible iniquity. He has broken all the laws of the realm-every one of them.The public cry is everywhere-"This man must die; the laws cannot be maintained unless he shall be made an example of theirrigour. He who beareth not the sword in vain must this time let the sword taste blood. The man must die; he richly deservesit." You look through his character: you cannot see one solitary redeeming trait. He is an old offender; he has so long perseveredin his iniquity that you are compelled to say, "The case is hopeless with this man; his crimes have such aggravation wecannot make an apology for him, even should we try. Not jesuitical cunning itself could devise any pretence of excuse,or any hope of a plea for this abandoned wretch; let him die!" Now, if her Majesty the Queen, having in her hands the sovereignpower of life and death, chooses that this man shall not die, but that he shall be spared, do you not see as plain as daylight,that the only reason that can move her to spare that man, must be her own love, her own compassion? For, as I have supposedalready that there is nothing in that man's character that can be a plea for mercy, but that, contrariwise, his wholecharacter cries aloud for vengeance against his sin. Whether we like it or not, this is just the truth concerning ourselves.This is just our character and position before God. Ah! my hearer, you may turn upon your heel, disgusted and offended; butthere are some here who feel it to be solemnly true in their own experience, and they will therefore drink in the doctrine,for itis the only way whereby they can be saved. My hearer, your conscience perhaps is telling you this morning that you havesinned so heinously that there is not an inlet for a solitary ray of hope in your character. You have added to your sins thisgreat one, that you have rebelled against the Most High wantonly and wickedly. If you have not committed all the sins in thecalendar of crime, It has been because providence has stayed your hand, Your heart has been black enough for it all. You feelthat the vileness of your imagination and desires has achieved the consummation of human guilt, and further you couldnot go. Your sins have prevailed against you, and have gone over your head. Now, man, the only ground upon which God can saveyou is His own love. He cannot save you because you deserve it, for you do not deserve it, because there is no excuse thatmight be made for your sin. No, you are without any excuse, and you feel it. Oh! bless His dear name, that He has devisedthis way,whereby He can save you upon the basis of His own sovereign love and unbounded grace, without anything in you. I wantyou to go back to Newgate again to this criminal. We suppose now that this criminal is visited by her Majesty in person. Shegoes to him, and she says to him, "Rebel, traitor, murderer, I have in my heart compassion for you; you deserve it not; butI am come this day to you, to tell you that if you repent you shall have mercy at my hands." Suppose this man, springing up,shouldcurse her-curse this angel of mercy to her face, spit upon her, and utter blasphemies, and imprecate curses upon her head.She retires; she is gone; but so great is her compassion, that the next day she sends a messenger, and days, and weeks, andmonths, and years, she continually sends messengers, and these go to him, and they say, "If you will repent of your transgressionsyou shall have mercy; not because you deserve it, but because her Majesty is compassionate, and out of her gracioussoul she desires your salvation. Will you repent?" Suppose this man should curse at the messenger, stop his ears againstthe message, spit upon him, tell him he does not care for him at all. Or to suppose a better case-suppose he turns upon hisseat and says, "I don't care whether I am hanged or not; I'll take my chance along with other people; I shall take no noticeof you." And suppose more than that, rising from his seat, he indulges again in all the crimes for which he has already beencondemned, and plunges headlong afresh into the very sins which have brought his neck under the rope of the gallows. Now,if her Majesty would spare such a man as that, on what terms can she do it? You say, "Why, she cannot, unless she does itout of love; she cannot because of any merit in him, because such a beast as that ought to die." And now what are you andI by nature but like this? And my unconverted hearer, what is this but a picture of you? Has not God Himself visited yourconscience?and has He not said to you, "Sinner! come now, let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet they shall be aswool." And what have you done? Stopped your ear against the voice of conscience-cursed and swore at God, blasphemed His holyname, despised His Word, and railed against His ministers. And this day, again, with tears in his eyes, a servant of God iscome to you, and his message is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved; as I live, saith the Lord, I havenopleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live." And what will you do. Why,if left to yourselves you will laugh at the message-despise it. It will glance off from you like an arrow from a man thatis girt about with mail, and you will go away to despise God again, as you have done before. Do you not see, then, that ifGod ever shall save you, it cannot be for your sakes; but must be from His own infinite love; it cannot be from any otherreason,since you have rejected Christ, despised His gospel, trodden under foot the blood of Jesus, and have refused to be saved.If He saves you, it must be free grace, and free grace alone.
But now picture a little more about this criminal at Newgate. Not content with having added sin to sin, and having rejectedmercy for himself, this wretch industriously employs himself in going round to all the cells where others are confined, andhardening their hearts also against the mercy of the Queen. He can scarce see a person but he begins to taint him with theblasphemy of his own heart; he utters injurious things against the majesty that spares him, and endeavoursto make others as vile as himself. Now, what does justice say? If this man ought not to die on his own account, yet heought to die for the sake of others; and if he be spared, is it not as plain as a pike-staff that he cannot be spared becauseof any reason in him? It must be because of the unconquerable compassion of the Sovereign. And now look you here: is not thisthe case of some here present? Not only do you sin yourselves, but lead others into sin? I know this was one of my plaguesandtorments, when first God brought me to Himself, that I have led others into temptation. Are there not men here that havetaught others to swear? Are there not fathers here that have helped to destroy their own children's souls? Are there not someof you that are like the deadly Upas tree? You stretch out your branches, and from every leaf there drops poison upon thosewho come beneath its deadly range. Are there not some here who have seduced the virtuous, that have misled those who wereseemingly pious, and that are perhaps so hardened that they even glory in it? Not content with being damned yourselves,you are seeking to lead others to the pit also. Thinking it not enough yourselves to be at enmity with God, you want to imitateSatan by dragging others with you. O my hearer, is not this thy case? Does not thy heart confess it? And does not the tearflow down thy cheek? Remember, then, this must be true: if God shall save thee, it must be because He will do it. It cannotbebecause there is anything good in thee, for thou deservedst now to die, and if He spare thee it must be sovereign loveand sovereign grace.
I will just use one other illustration, and then, I think I shall have made the text clear enough. There is not so much differencebetween black and a darker shade of black as there is between pure white and black. Every one can see that. Then there isnot so much difference between man and the devil as there is between God and man. God is perfection; we are black with sin.The devil is only a darker shade of black; and great as may be the difference between our sin andthe sin of Satan, yet it is not so great as the difference between the perfection of God and the imperfection of man.Now, imagine for a minute that somewhere in Africa there should be a tribe of devils living, that you and I had it in ourpower to save these devils from some threatened wrath which must overtake them. If you or I should go there and die to savethose devils, what could be our motive? From what we know of the character of a devil, the only motive that could make usdo that mustbe love. There could not be any other. It must be simply because we had such big hearts that we could even embrace fiendswithin them. Well, now, there is not so much difference between man and the devil as between God and man. If, then, the onlymotive that could make men save a devil must be man's love, does it not follow with irresistible force, that the only motivethat could lead God to save men must be God's own love. At any rate, if that reason be not cogent the fact isindisputable-"Not for your sakes do I this, O house of Israel." God sees us, abandoned, evil, wicked, and deserving Hiswrath; if He saves us, it is His boundless, fathomless love that leads Him to do it-nothing whatever in us.
III. And now, having thus preached this doctrine, and enforced it, I come to a very solemn PRACTICAL APPLICATION. And heremay God the Holy Spirit help me labour with your hearts!
First, since this doctrine is true, how humble a Christian man ought to be. If thou be saved, thou hast had nought to do with it; God has done it. If thou be saved, thouhast not deserved it. It is mercy undeserved which thou hast received. I have sometimes been delighted when I have seen thegratitude of abandoned characters to any who have assisted them. I remember visiting a house of refuge. There was a poor girlthere who had fallen into sin long, and when shefound herself kindly addressed and recognized by society, and saw a Christian minister longing after her soul's good,it broke her heart. What should a man of God care about her? she was so vile. How could it be that a Christian should speakto her? Ah! but how much more should that feeling rise in our hearts? My God! I have rebelled against thee, and yet thou hastloved me, unworthy me! How can it be? I cannot lift myself up with pride, I must bow down before Thee in speechlessgratitude. Remember, my dear brethren, that not only is the mercy which you and I have received undeserved, but it wasunasked. It is true you prayed, but not till free grace made you pray. You would have been, to this day, hardened in heart, withoutGod, and without Christ, had not free grace saved you. Can you be proud then?-proud of mercy which, if I may use the term,has been forced upon you?-proud of grace which has been given you against your will, until your will was changedby sovereign grace? And think again. All the mercy you have you once refused, Christ sups with you; be not proud of Hiscompany. Remember, there was a day when He knocked, and you refused-when He came to the door and said, "My head is wet withdew, and my locks with the drops of the night; open to me, my beloved;" and you barred it in His face and would not let Himenter. Be not proud, then, of what thou hast, when thou rememberest that thou didst once reject Him. Does God embrace Theein Hisarms of love? Remember, once thou liftedst up thine hand of rebellion against Him. Is thy name written in His book? Ah!there was a time when, if it had been in thy power, thou wouldst have erased the sacred lines that contained thine own salvation.Can we, dare we, lift up our wicked head with pride, when all these things should make us hang our heads down in the deepesthumility? That is one lesson: let us learn another.
This doctrine is true, and therefore it should be a subject of the greatest gratitude. When meditating upon this text yesterday, the effect it had upon me was one of transport and joy. Oh! I thought, upon whatother condition could I have been saved? And I looked back upon my past estate; I saw myself piously trained and educated,but revolting against all that. I saw a mother's tears shed over me in vain, and a father's admonition lost upon me, and yetI foundmyself saved by grace, and I could only say, "Lord, I bless Thee that it is by grace, for if it had been by merit I hadnever been saved. If thou hadst waited till there was something good in me, thou wouldst have waited till I sank into thehopeless perdition of hell, for good in man there never would have been, unless thou hadst first put it there." And then Ithought immediately, "Oh! how I could go and preach that to the poor sinner!" Ah! let me try if I cannot. O sinner! you sayyou darenot come to Christ because you have nothing to recommend you. He does not want anything to recommend you; He will notsave you, if you have anything to recommend you, for His says, "Not for you sake do I this." Go to Christ with earrings inyour ears, and jewels upon you; wash your face, and array yourself with gold and silver, and go before Him and say, "Lord,save me; I have washed myself and clothed myself; save me!" "Get you gone! Not for your sakes will I do this." Go to Him again,andsay, "Lord, I have put a rope about my neck, and sackcloth about my loins; see how repentant I am, see how I feel my need;now save me!" "No," saith He, "I would not save you on account of your flaunting robes, and now I will not save you becauseof your rags; I will save you for nothing about you; if I do save you, it will be from something in my heart, not from anythingyou feel. Get ye gone!" But if today you go to Christ and say, "Lord Jesus, there is no reason in the world why I should besaved-there is one in Heaven; Lord, I cannot urge any plea, I deserve to be lost, I have no excuse to make for all my sins, no apology tooffer; Lord, I deserve it, and there is nothing in me why I should be saved, for if thou wouldst save me I should make buta poor Christian, after all; I fear that my future works will be no honour to Thee-I wish they could be, but thy grace mustmake them good, else they will still be bad. But, Lord, thou I have nothing to bring, and nothing tosay for myself, I do say this: I have heard that thou hast come into the world to save sinners-O Lord, save me!
'I the chief of sinners am.'
I confess I do not feel this as I ought, I do not mourn it as I ought; I have no repentance to recommend me; nay, Lord, Ihave no faith to recommend me either, for I do not believe thy promise as I ought; but oh! I cling to this text. Lord, thouhast said thou wilt not do it for my sake. I thank Thee thou hast said that. Thou couldst not do it for my sake, for I haveno reason why thou shouldst. Lord, I claim thy gracious promise. 'Be merciful to me, a sinner."' Ah! yougood people, this doctrine does not suit some of you; it is too humbling, is it not? You that have kept your churchesregularly, and been to meetings so piously, you that never broke the Sabbath, or never swore an oath, or did anything wrong,this does not suit you. You say it will do very well to preach to harlots, and drunkards, and swearers, but it will not suitsuch good people as we are. Ah! well, this is your text-"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."Youare "whole"-you are; you "need not a physician, but they that are sick." Go your way. Christ came to save such as youare. You think you can save yourselves. Do it, and perish in the doing of it. But I feel that the same gospel that suits aharlot suits me, and that that free grace which saved Saul of Tarsus must save me, else I am never saved. Come, let us allgo together. We are all guilty-some more, some less, but all hopelessly guilty. Let us go together to the footstool of Hismercy,and though we dare not look up, let us lie there in the dust, and sigh out again, "Lord have mercy upon us for whom Jesusdied."
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
Sinner, come now; come now, I beseech thee; I entreat thee, come now. O Spirit of the living God, draw them now! Let thesefeeble weak words be the means of drawing souls to Christ. Will you reject my Master again? Will you go out of this househardened once more? You may never again have such feelings as those which are aroused in your soul. Come, now, receive Hismercy; now bend your willing necks to His yoke; and then I know you shall go away to taste His faithful love,and at last to sing in Heaven the song of the redeemed-"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his ownblood, unto him be glory forever. Amen."
"O thou great eternal Jesus,
High and mighty Prince of Peace,
How Thy wonders shine resplendent,
In the wonders of Thy grace:
Thy rich gospel scorns conditions,
Breathes salvation free as air;
Only breathes triumphant mercy,
Baffling guilt, and all despair.
"O the grandeur of the gospel,
How it sounds the cleansing blood;
Shows the bowels of a Saviour,
Shows the tender heart of God.
Only treats of love eternal,
Swells the all-abounding grace,
Nothing knows but life and pardon,
Full redemption, endless peace."