Sermon 578. A Bad Excuse Is Worse Than None
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 3, 1864, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT BAYSWATER.
"And they all with one consent began to make excuses." Luke 14:18.
THE provisions of the Gospel of Christ may well be compared to a supper, provided as they were, in the evening of the world-"inthese last days." The description, "a great supper," is well borne out if we consider the greatness of the provision-how muchlove and mercy God has displayedtowards the sons of men in the Person of Christ Jesus-how much power and gracious working He has shown by His Holy Spirit.A great supper it is if we think of the richness and sweetness of the provision-it is a feast worthy of the great King. Theflesh of Jesus is ourspiritual meat and His blood our choicest wine. Our souls are satisfied with Covenant mercies, most fitly set forth as "Afeast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined."
A great supper it is, moreover, when we consider the number of guests invited. "Go you into all the world and preach the Gospelto every creature." The call of the Gospel comes to every man and woman within hearing of the ministers of God-
"None are excluded there, but those Who do themselves exclude! Welcome the learned and polite, The ignorant and rude."
No other king ever sent out an invitation so broad as this! Wisdom "cries at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the comingin at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call. And my voice is to the sons of man." Is it not strange that when the householdermade so great a supper-when he offered itwithout money and without price-that all his neighbors should with one consent begin to make excuse?
He did not call them to prison or to misery! How, then, came they to be so unwilling to obey the summons? Why this unanimityin the rejection? We find good men differing as to how it is that evil men can hold together so well. What? Not one who hasrespect enough to his generous friend to sit athis table and receive his bounty? Not one. Truly, here, Brethren, we have a picture of the universal depravity of man! Allmen are thus vile and refuse the mercy of God. We never know how bad man is till the Gospel is preached to him. The Gospelacts as a white background to setforth the blackness of man's heart.
Here human nature reaches to the greatest height of sin's enormity! Spitting forth his venom against the Lord of InfiniteLove, man proves himself truly to be of the serpent's brood. The Gospel is preached to thousands and do all make excuse? Sothe parable has it and truly so the fact proves it.What? Is there not one whose free will is inclined towards Christ? Is there not one of so good a natural disposition thathe will come to Jesus? No, the text says, not one-"They all with one consent began to make excuses." How thoroughly has fatherAdam ruined ourunderstandings! What fools, as well as rebels, we are to refuse to partake of the banquet of love! We are altogether becomeunprofitable. There is not one who seeks after God!
You will, perhaps, remind me that there were other men besides those who made excuses. Most true. But these were in the highwaysand hedges, or in the streets and lanes of the city. And so those who do not hear the Gospel and therefore are not guiltyof rejecting it, yet nevertheless are far offfrom God by wicked works and strangers to the commonwealth of Israel. Thus, taking the two characters to represent all mankind,we find all to be enemies of God. Those in the highways need to be "compelled" to come in-they had a natural reluctance tofeast at the good man'stable. And so all sorts of men are averse to the Gospel. They are perfectly willing to sin-content even to perish in sin!But to come to Christ, to accept the great Atonement, to put their trust in Jesus-this is a thing they care not for and withone consent, when theyhear the Gospel-they begin to make excuses.
We fear that there are many in this meeting house this morning who have been blessed with hearing the Gospel for years butup to now the only treatment they have given to the gracious message is to make excuses about it. I hope to deal with suchvery simply and very affectionately-earnestlydesiring that they make their last excuse this morning and that it may meet with its death blow. O that they may come tothe feast which they have long rejected and rejoice in the mercy of God in Christ Jesus!
Why did they make excuses? Let us, first, try to account for their conduct. Secondly, what excuses did they make?- let usrecount them. And thirdly, how foolish thus to make excuses!-here let us encounter them.
I. Let us try to ACCOUNT for the fact, the sad fact, that men are so ready to make excuses rather than to receive the Wordof God. We account for it in the first place by the fact that they had no heart at all to accept the feast. Had they spokenthe truth plainly, they would have said, "We do notwish to come, nor do we intend to do so." If man's heart were not so deceitful, it would not make excuses, but it wouldsay outright, "'We will not have this Man to reign over us. We do not feel our sinfulness. We will not, therefore, acceptpardon. We believe that we can work outour own salvation with our own doings.
"Or, if not, we are content to take our chance. If it shall go ill with us, it will go ill with a great many people. We willrun all risks-we do not need salvation-we choose rather to have our full swing of carnal delights. Your religion involvestoo much self-sacrifice. It isaltogether contrary to the lusting of our minds and therefore we decline it." This is at the bottom of it. Some of you,my Hearers, have often been impressed and partially convinced of sin but you have put off Christ with excuses. Will you bearwith me while I solemnly assure youthat at its core your heart is at enmity to God? Your excuse may look very pretty but it is as flimsy as it is fair. Ifyou were honest with your own soul you would say at once, "I do not love Christ. I do not need His salvation."
Your put offs, your false promises, your excuses are worthless. Anyone with half an eye can see through them, they are sotransparent. You are an enemy of God! You are unreconciled and you are content to be so. This truth may be unpalatable butit is nevertheless most certain. May God help you tofeel this and may it humble you before His Presence. Still, if they would not come to the good man's feast, why did theynot say so? If the real secret of it was that they hated him and despised his provisions, is it not melancholy that they werenot honest enough to give him a "no"at once? Well, they certainly were not and one reason might be because they wished to be upon good terms with their conscience.They felt they ought to go. He was one who had a claim upon their courtesy, if not their gratitude, and therefore feelingthat they ought to go and yet notintending to go, they sought to compromise by an excuse.
Conscience is a very unamiable neighbor to men who live in sin. It is said of David, "David's heart struck him," and it isa very hard blow which the heart is able to give. In order to parry the blow men hold up a shield of excuses. You cannot quiteextinguish your conscience, which is the candleof the Lord and therefore you put it under the bushel of an excuse. The thief fears the watchdog and therefore throws hima bone to keep him quiet-that bone is made of excuses. John Bunyan tells us that Mr. Recorder Conscience, when the town ofMansoul was in the keeping ofDiabolus, used sometimes to cry out at such a rate that he made all the inhabitants afraid and so they put him in a verydark place and tried to put a gag in his mouth to keep him quiet. But for all that, sometimes when his fits came on he madethe town feel very uneasy.
I know what conscience tells some of you-it says to you, "How is it you can forget Divine things? How can you trifle withthe world to come? How can you live as if you never meant to die? What will you do when you come to die without an interestin the Lord Jesus Christ?" And so thatconscience may be quiet awhile, you make an excuse and persevere in refusing to come to the feast. It may be that you makethis excuse to satisfy custom. It is not the custom of this present age to fly immediately in the face of Christ. There arenot many men of your acquaintance ormine who ostensibly oppose religion.
Your father fears God. Your mother is a woman of great devotion. Your friends go to the House of God and speak experimentallyof Divine things-you do not like, therefore, to say to them, "I will never be a Christian! I dislike the ways of God! I donot choose the plan of Sovereign Grace," andtherefore to spare their feelings you make an excuse. You do not want to grieve dear friends-you are afraid if you spokeout honestly what your soul feels it might bring your mother with gray hairs to the grave, or make your father's heart break-andso you make anexcuse. And you think that they may entertain a comfortable hope whereas, while you make excuses, there is no hope for youat all.
For my part I would rather you speak outright and say what you mean! I would that you would say, "I am an enemy of Christ.I do not believe His Gospel. I will not serve Him!" This might sound very badly but it would show, at least, that there wassome sincerity in you and we would hope that beforelong you might be bowed to the will of Christ. Excuses are curses and when you have no excuses left there will be hope foryou!
It may be you make these excuses because you have had convictions which so haunt you at times that you dare not oppose Christto His face. You have gone home from the services to weep. That little chamber of yours is a witness that you cannot livealtogether without prayer. The other day when youwent to a funeral you came home with your mind very solemn and you thought, then, that certainly you would yield to thecommands of Jesus. When you were sick and had that week or two upstairs alone-then you vowed and resolved-but your resolvesmelted into thin air.
The tear starts in your eyes-you are almost persuaded to be a Christian-you breathe a prayer! But ah, some ill companion temptsyou the next morning and there your are, according to the old proverb, "The dog has returned to his vomit and the sow thatwas washed to her wallowing in themire." Ah, how many times did I have convictions of sin and terrible ones, too, and yet I said, like Felix to Paul, "Goyour way for this time. When I have a convenient season, I will call for you"?
But I could not quench these convictions by downright opposition to Christ. I knew too much and felt too much to do that,and so I tried to patch up a truce between my soul and my convictions. Satan is always ready to help men with excuses. Thisis a trade of which there is no end. It certainlycommenced very early, for after our first parents had sinned one of the first occupations upon which they entered was tomake themselves aprons of fig leaves to hide their nakedness! Read the Scriptures through and you will find that excuse-makinghas been a habit in all ages andamong all classes of people.
And till the last sinner shall be saved by Sovereign Grace, I suppose men will still be setting up their vain excuses in thetemple of God! If you will fire the gun, Satan will always keep you supplied with ammunition. When he thinks that a Truthis about to come home to you, if you cannot frame anexcuse he will do it for you. He will run between you and the cannon shot of God's Word to prevent your being wounded byit. If the preacher's sword should be too sharp for you and make your conscience bleed, the Evil One has a Satanic plasterwith which he very soon binds up thewound! The natural self-righteousness of man prompts him to frame apologies. We are all the best men in the world accordingto our own gauge and measure. If we could sit as judges upon ourselves, the verdict would always be "Not guilty."
Sin, which would be very shocking in another, is very venial in us. No, what would be abominable in other men becomes almostcommendable in ourselves so partially do we judge our own case. The sinner cannot think it quite right for himself to be anunbeliever in Christ-and since hisenlightened conscience will not let him say that he is quite safe while he refuses to fly to the wounds of Jesus-he runsto excuses in order that he may still say, "I am rich and increased in goods," and not be driven to the unhappy necessityof crying, "I am naked and poorand miserable."
Sinful self is hard to conquer, but righteous self is the worst enemy of the two. When we can make men plead guilty, thenGod pronounces absolution upon them. But while men will interpose their extenuations there is little or no hope for them.O great God our Master, tear away the excuses fromevery sinner here and make him stand guilty before Your bar in his own consciousness, that he may cry, "God be mercifulto me, a sinner," and find pardon through the blood of Jesus Christ! Take heed, O you ungodly ones, lest you go on excusingand excusing and excusing, until youexcuse yourselves down to the pit of Hell! Know this-you will never be able to excuse yourselves out again.
II. We come to RECOUNT these excuses. Many will not come to the great supper-will not Christians be on the same ground asthose in the parable? They are too busy. They have a large family and it takes all their time to earn bread and cheese forthose little mouths. They have a very largebusiness-many servants in their employ-and from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night, if they do notsee after business, their affairs would go wrong. Or else, if they have no business, yet they have so many pleasures and theserequire so muchtime-their butterfly visits during the morning take up so many hours-the dropping of their small pieces of pasteboard atother people's doors occupy all their leisure and they really have no opportunity to think about matters so unpalatable asdeath and eternity.
This excuse scarcely needs a word from me to answer it because every man knows that it is grossly false. Nobody goes starvingbecause he has not time to eat. Now, if God has given time for us to support our natural frame, much more has He given ustime to feed the soul. I do not find my friends inthe street half dressed. But I find some of them spend many a half-hour over that other pin and that other ribbon. Now surelyif they have time to dress the body, they must have had time given them in which to put on the robe of righteousness and arraythe soul!
If you have not the time, God gave it to you and you must have misspent it. God gives you time as a steward and if you sayto your Master, "I have it not," He will reply to you, "I entrusted it to you. You must have spent it on yourself. You haverobbed God." A little earlier rising, a little lesstime at the table-either of these might give you time enough. You know you have the time and when you say you have it not,the lie is too thin-you can see through it. O Soul! O Soul! When holy men can find hours for prayer-when such a man as MartinLuther, when hewas very busy, used to say-"I must have three hours prayer today at least, or else I cannot get through my business"-donot tell me that you have not time to seek the Lord!
Besides, it is not an affair of time. Salvation may be worked in an instant! There is life in a look at the Crucified One.There is life at this moment for you. And between now and the time when this service shall have gone, there is time enoughfor you to have laid hold upon eternal life and tohave received Christ Jesus to your soul's salvation. That excuse will not do. But then they fly to another. They are toogood. When I have preached Free Grace and a full Christ, I have heard some say, "That is a good sermon for the crowd in atheater-for ignorant, low-livedpeople. But we respectable people do not require such salvation. To offer a free salvation to men who are neither drunkardsnor swearers-why the thing is ridiculous! The sermon was very good for Magdalenes, for thieves and such like-but not for us."
No, you are too good to be saved! You need not a physician because you are whole. Your own table has enough upon it. You donot need to come to this feast. But think, I pray you, whether this is not all a mistake! In what are you better than othermen, after all? What if you do not indulge in opensins-does not your heart often go a-lusting towards evil? Does your tongue always speak that which is right and true? Ifyou cannot remember sins of commission, what about the sins of omission? Have you fed the hungry? Have you clothed the naked?Have you taught the ignorant?Have you loved God with all your heart and soul and strength? Have you given Him all that He demands of you? Why you cannotsay this!
Now the perfection, the holiness which God demands in order to salvation must be like a perfect alabaster vase-if there isa single crack or spot on it-all is spoiled. You may say, "Well, it is not much broken. We have not seriously damaged it."No, but God requires it to be perfect andno matter how slight the damage it may have sustained, you cannot enter Heaven upon the footing of your good works-you arecast out forever! Hear these words, "By the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight." "Cursed is everyonethat continues not inall things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them." And, "As many as are of the works of the Law are underthe curse." God save you from that false excuse!
Another class says, "We are too bad to be saved. The Gospel cries, 'Believe in Jesus Christ and live,' but it cannot meanme. I have been too gross an offender. When I was but young I went into evil and since then I have gone from bad to worse.O Sir, I have cursed God to His face! I have sinnedagainst light and knowledge, against a mother's prayers and tears. I have spoken evil of God's Word! I have laughed at thevery name of His Son Jesus Christ! I am too evil to be saved." Here is another bad excuse. You know, Sinner, if you have beena hearer of the Gospel, that thisis not true! For bad as you are, no man is excluded from Christ on account of his vileness. "All manner of sin and of blasphemyshall be forgiven unto men."
The invitations of the Gospel do not stop at a certain point of sin. On the contrary, they seem to select the worst sinnersfirst. What did the Savior say? "Begin at Jerusalem." But, Lord, the men who crucified You live there! "Begin at Jerusalem."But, Lord, it was in Jerusalem that they shed Yourblood and thrust out the tongue and laughed at You and made a mockery of Your prayers! "Begin at Jerusalem"-the worst first-justas the surgeon in a battle is apt to look to the worst cases first. Here is a man who has lost his finger. Ah, well, let himbide awhile, wewill see to that. But here is another who has lost a limb and he is bleeding fast and if the blood is not stopped, his lifewill ooze out. The surgeon sees him first.
O you great sinners, you who feel yourselves to have been notorious offenders, I pray you are not so guilty as to make thisan excuse for not coming to Christ! On the contrary, use it as a reason why you should fly to Him at once. The more filth,the more need of washing. The more sick, the moreneed of a physician. The more hungry, the more welcome to the table. Come to Jesus just as you are, with all your sins-"Thoughthey are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." No form ofsin imaginable orunimaginable can by any possibility be a bar to any man's salvation if he will but believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!
Then comes another excuse, "Sir, I would trust Christ with my soul this morning, but I do not feel in any state to trust Christ.I have not that sense of sin which I think to be a fit preparation for coming to Christ-
" 'If anything is felt, 'tis only pain To find I cannot feel.'"
Ah, my dear Hearer, this is an excuse which looks like a very good one, but it has no truth in it! There is no fitness neededbefore you may trust in Christ! Whatever may be your present condition, if you trust Jesus Christ with your soul you are savedon the spot! Your sins are forgiven you! Youare made a child of God! You are accepted in the Beloved! Where do you read of fitness for Christ in the Scriptures? Doyou think the dead whom Jesus restored were fit to be raised? Why, Martha said of her brother, "Lord, by this time he stinks,for he has been dead four days"! Wasthere any fitness in Lazarus for a resurrection? And yet Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth!" Does the Gospel say, "He whois in a certain state, and then believes, shall be saved"? No, but, "He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved."
How am I bid to preach to you? Am I to say, "Whoever feels this is to come"? No, but, "Whoever will, let him come and takethe water of life freely." Are you willing to have Christ? Then you may have Him, for Christ is as free to every needy sinneras the drinking fountain in the street is free toevery thirsty passer-by. Trust Jesus, even if your heart is hard as granite-He can soften it! Trust Him though conscienceis asleep-though all the mental faculties are perverted! Trust Him! It is His business to make you holy, not your business-trustHim to do itall! He is called Jesus because He saves His people from their sins!
Trust Him to overcome your corruptions, to kill your evil temper, to subdue your will, to soften your heart, to enlightenyour conscience, to inflame your love-trust Him to do it ALL! O, be not so foolish as to say, "I am too ill to send for adoctor-when I get better, when I feelbetter, then I will send for him." Do not say, "I am so dirty. If I felt more clean, I would wash." No-wash because youare dirty! Wash because you have nothing but filth about you! Send for the Great Physician because there is no health in you!There is nothing in you butwounds, bruises and putrefying sores. Therefore let your faith entrust your healing entirely to Him.
Here comes another: "O Sir, I would trust Christ with my soul, but it seems too good to be true that God should save me onthe spot, this morning. You little know where I was last night, or what I did yesterday. You cannot tell who I am nor howbad I have been and you tell me that if I trust JesusChrist, I shall be saved. Sir, it is too good to be true! I cannot imagine it." My dear Friend, do you measure God's cornwith your bushel? Because the thing seems an amazing thing to you, should it therefore be amazing unto Him? What if His thoughtsshould be as high above yourthoughts as the heavens are above the earth? Is not this just what He has said in Scripture? I know you find it hard toforgive your fellow man, but my Father, my God, can readily forgive you!-
"Crimes of such horror to forgive, Such guilty daring worms to spare- This is Your grand prerogative And none shall in thehonor share."
He creates like a God! He does not make a few insects, or here and there a star! This great world He fashioned and He scatteredthe starry orbs about with both His hands. So when the Lord comes to pardon, He does not pardon some small offenses and winkat trifles-but the whole mass of sin Hecleans away in a moment and all manner of sin and blasphemy, in an instant He casts behind His back. Believe that God isGod and not such a one as you are! Believe that He is capable of doing greater things than you can dream of! Trust Him! TrustHim NOW and however good the thingsare you shall find them true! However great, they shall be yours! I think I hear one say, "It is too soon for me to come.Let me have a little look at the world first. I am scarcely fifteen or sixteen. There is plenty of time for me."
Have you been to the graveyard" Are there not there the records of those who have found fifteen or sixteen none too soon,for lo, at that age they were taken away to their last account? Too soon? Is it ever too soon to be happy? If religion madeyou miserable I might advise you to put it off to thelast, but inasmuch as to be in Christ is to be happy, you cannot be in Him too soon! I have sat by many deathbeds and heardmany regrets, but never did I hear a Christian regret that he was converted too soon! I have received many young convertsinto Church fellowship, but I neverheard any one of them say they were sorry to be called by Grace so early!
If I were condemned to die and anyone should bring me a pardon, I should not think I received it too soon! The wrath of Godabides on you-can it be too soon to escape from it? You are the subject of daily temptations and you daily add to your sins-canit be too soon to have a new heartand a right spirit? Others will row in the opposite direction, pleading, "Alas, it is too late!" The devil first puts theclock back and tells you it is too soon-and when this does not serve his turn-he puts it on and says, "The hour is passed,the day of Grace is over!Mercy's gate is bolted, you can never enter it!"
Let us answer this at once. It is never too late for a man to believe in Jesus while he is out of his grave. While the lampof life continues to burn, the vilest sinner who returns shall find Christ ready to receive him. There have been men convertedat a hundred years of age-we haveinstances on record of persons who have even passed the century and become children of Christ Jesus! How old are you? Areyou in the sere and yellow leaf of eighty? Ah, you have many sins, but what a triumph of Grace it will be when eighty yearsof sin shall all be washed away in amoment! I tell you that if you were as old as Methuselah and in every year of that long life you had as many sins as youhave already committed in the whole eighty years, yet the Grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient to put all this away!
Your sins may mount up like mountains, but the love of Christ, like Noah's flood, can go twenty cubits upwards and the topsof the mountains shall be covered. It is not too soon! It is not too late! Neither of these reasons are of any value thoughthey delude many. "Well," says another, "I wouldbelieve in Christ but I do not know whether I am one of God's elect or not. Sir, that doctrine of election troubles me andstaggers me. If I knew I was one of the elect, I would trust Christ."
That is-if God will show you His secrets then you will do God's will. And so the Almighty is to bend to your conditions andthen you will do as He bids you? You will come to feast at the man's table if he will take you into his secret closet andshow you all his treasure! He will do nothingof the kind! How foolish this talk is about election! The doctrine of election is a great and precious Truth of God, butit never can be a valid reason for a man's not believing in Christ! You are ill today and the doctor comes, "There," sayshe, "there is the medicine, I willguarantee if you take it, it will heal you." You say, "Sir, I would take it at once, but I do not know whether I am predestinatedto get over this fever. If I am predestinated to live, why then, Sir, I will take the medicine, but I must know first." "Ah,"says the doctor, "I tellyou what. If you do not take it you are predestinated to die."
And I will tell you this-if you will not believe in Jesus Christ you will be damned, be you who you may-but you will not beable to lay it at predestination's door! It will be at your own. A man has fallen overboard. A rope is thrown to him, buthe says, "I should like to grasp thatrope only I do not know whether I am predestinated to be drowned." Fool! He will go down to the bottom with a lie in hismouth! We do not say, "I would sit down to dinner today, but I will not eat because I do not know whether I am predestinatedto have any dinner today." We do nottalk so foolishly in common things! Why, then, do we so in religion? When men are hard up for an excuse they are glad torun to the mysteries of God to use them as a veil to cover their faces. O my dear Friends, you must know that though God hasa chosen people-yet when Hecommands you to believe in Christ-His having a chosen people, or not having a chosen people cannot excuse you from obedienceto the Divine Command-"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved."
I could not attempt to go through all the excuses and therefore after handling two more, I will have done. "Well," says one,"if I were to believe in Christ I should be as bad, after a short time, as I used to be. I might be a little better for atime, but I should go back again-so it is ofno use trusting Christ." That is to say, dear Friend, Jesus Christ says if you trust Him, He will save you-but you say ifyou trust Him, He will not save you! That is what it comes to. Jesus Christ promises that if you trust Him, He will save youfrom your sins. You say, "No,I should go back to my sins and be as bad as before."
Which am I to believe-your excuse, or His promise? Why, Christ's promise, surely! "But I tried once before," says one. Verylikely you did, but Christ never tried! If He had tried He would have succeeded. "Well, but, I did hold on a certain lengthof time." I dare say you did-you heldon. But if Christ had hold of you, He would never have let you go.
When you get hold of Christ you may soon drop Him-but when Jesus gets hold ofyou, He says, "I give unto My sheep eternal lifeand they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." If you had greatly trusted Christ He wouldnot have suffered you to become what you usedto be. "Well," says one, "I cannot trust Christ, I cannot believe Him."
You talk Latin, Brother! You talk Latin. "No," you say, "I do not talk Latin." Yes, you do. I will translate that word intothe English for you. It means, "I will not." When you say, "I cannot," it means, "I will not." And understand, whenever theminister says, "You cannot," he means, "you willnot," for he does not mean that you have any natural inability, but that you have a moral inability caused by your loveof sin-a willful inability. "I cannot," is the Latin, but "I will not," is the English of it. A man once sent his servantto a certain town to fetch somegoods. And he came back without them. "Well, Sir, why did you not go there?" Well, when I got to a certain place, I cameto a river, Sir, a very deep river-I cannot swim and I had no boat-so I could not get over."
A good excuse, was it not? It looked so. But it happened to be a very bad one, for the master said, "Is there not a ferrythere?" "Yes, Sir." "Did you ask the man to take you over?" "No, Sir." Surely the excuse was a mere fiction! So there aremany things with regard to our salvation which wecannot do. Granted, but there is a ferry there! There is the Holy Spirit who is able to do all things and you remember thetext, "If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which isin Heaven give good things to themthat ask Him?" It is true you cannot make yourself a new heart, but did you ask for a new heart with sincerity and truth?Did you seek Christ? If you say, "Yes, I did sincerely seek Christ and Christ would not save me," why then you are excused.
But there never was a soul who could, in truth, say that! There never was a sinner yet who perished seeking Christ and therenever will be! And if your heart's sincere desire is after the salvation which is treasured in Christ Jesus, then Heaven andearth may pass away but Christ will never castyou out while His own Word stands, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out." "Still," you say, "I cannot trustChrist." Now, I am at issue with you here-I am at issue with every awakened sinner. I agree with you if you will let me givemy own translation of the word"cannot"-that you will not-but if it is to stand as the word is generally used, I am at issue with you.
Suppose that you believe me to be an honest man. Would it be fair after that, to say, "Sir, I cannot believe you"? Now, ifyou believe me to be a liar, I can very well understand that you cannot trust me. But if you take it for granted that I amincapable of telling a falsehood and yet do notbelieve what I tell you, you are a liar! Now, you believe that Christ is incapable of falsehood-you are not like those whoare ignorant of the Character of Christ and therefore you know Him to be incapable of untruthfulness. And then you say youcannot believe Him? Seeing thatJesus Christ cannot but speak Truth, it cannot be a difficult thing for any man to believe what He speaks! If you have sufficientlight given you by the Holy Spirit to know that Christ is the Truth, I believe you have sufficient power from the same sourceto believe what Christsays.
I trace this to God's gift, but I pray you to exercise the power which you certainly have. Tell Christ you cannot believeHim? Will you tell Him that to His face when He sits upon the Judgment Seat at last? Will you dare to say this when His eyesof fire shall look you through and through? "Mostholy Christ, I could not trust You! Most truthful Savior, I could not believe You! I suspected You. I doubted You!" "Whydid you doubt Me? What cause had I ever given you? Why did you think Me a liar? In what had I ever broken My promises, orwhen did I err from the Truth?" "He thatbelieves not," says John, "has made God a liar, because he believes not the record that God gave of His Son." O, think ofthis and never make that excuse again! Instead of saying, "I cannot believe," say, "I cannot make God a liar, I must thereforebelieve, for I know God is noliar-I must therefore trust His Son Jesus Christ!
I have recounted a few of the excuses. Perhaps you will make another batch before the evening comes on-you who determine notto be saved. It is only the mighty Spirit of God who can sweetly constrain your will to yield to Christ and so I close withthese two or three words, upon the thirdpoint.
III. HOW FOOLISH THUS TO MAKE EXCUSES! For first remember with Whom it is you are dealing. You are not making excuses beforea man who may be duped by them-you make these excuses before the heart-searching God! My dear Hearers, let me speak very solemnlyand push this point closely home. Youknow that God can see through all this-why, then, do you hang up such thin veils? Confess before Him now your folly-"Lord,I have been an enemy to
You. Lord, I have been averse to Your Son, Jesus Christ, and therefore have I dreamed up these excuses-forgive me. I see howfoolish I have been. Grant that I may do so no more."
Remember again, what it is you are trifling with. It is your own soul, the soul which can never die! You are trifling witha Heaven which you will never see if you keep on with these excuses. You are trifling, Sinner, with that Hell which must beyour never-ending portion if you continue as youare. Can you play with Hell-fire? O, can you make sport of Heaven? Can you laugh at the blood of Jesus? You are really doingso while you are thus halting between two opinions. If you must play the fool, find something cheaper to play with than this!O Sirs, if you must have mirth,I pray you have it out of something else than this.
To be saved! Listen to Heaven's music! To be lost! Listen to Hell's groans! Neither of these things are matters for you toplay with. Say, as now you are sitting here-I pray God help you to say it before you leave this building-"Lord, I have beentrifling with eternity. I have beenmaking frivolous excuses rather than I would accept Your love in Christ. I have trifled with Heaven and Hell-grant, Lord,that this may be brought to an end-that I may love and trust You this day."
Remember, again, that these excuses will look very different soon. How will you make excuses when you come to die, as dieyou must? When death gets the grip of you and the strong man fails. When they wipe the death sweat from your fevered brow.When the glaze of death's night is coming over youreyeballs-what will you think of these excuses then? It may be you will rave with very fury at yourselves that you couldhave played with your souls to such an extent. What will you do with your excuses when you stand at the bar of Judgment? Thetrumpet rings, you have awakenedfrom your grave, you stand amidst the myriads to be judged. The books are opened and Christ proclaims your doom-"Depart,you cursed, into everlasting fire." Will excuses comfort you then? Will you be able to say, then, "Lord, it was too soon!Lord, it was too late! Lord, I wastoo great a sinner to believe in Jesus! Lord I did not need a Savior"?
No, when the trumpet peals and the heavens are in a blaze. When the sun is turned into sackcloth and the moon into blood andthe stars fall like fig leaves from the tree, you will find other work to do than excuse-making! You will weep and wail becauseof sin and when you are cast into Hell whatwill you make, then, of your excuses? Written in letters of fire you shall see in one tremendous arch above your heads,"You knew your duty, but you did it not! You heard the Gospel, but you made excuses!" Thundering more tremendous than thetrump of resurrection shall come thesewords to you, "Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out My hand and no man regarded, I, also, will laughat your calamity. I will mock when your fear comes. When your fear comes as desolation and your destruction comes as a whirlwind.When distress and anguishcome upon you."
O, the Lord have mercy upon you, excuse-makers, and bring you to look to Jesus now! Now, I say, for the Scripture says, "Todayis the accepted time, today is the day of salvation." The only way to end your excuses is not by praying nor resolving, butby looking to Christ. There hangs the bleedingSavior on the Cross. He dies-the Just for the unjust-to bring us to God! He suffers there that sin may be forgiven! Lookto Him! Trust Him and you shall be saved! My Hearer, I give you now in God's name this invitation, this command-trust yoursoul to Jesus, theSon of God, who suffered for sin-and you shall be saved!
But mind you, I may never meet you all this side the grave but I will meet you all at God's Great Day and if you receive notChrist and trust in Him, I am clear of your blood. Upon my garments your doom cannot fall. You have heard the Gospel! Youhave been told to trust Jesus as you are! You havebeen assured that He is able to save to the uttermost them that come to Him! You have been bid to come and now on your ownheads be your soul's ruin if you come not!
May the Spirit of God take these things and apply them to your souls. May He be as a fire and as a hammer in your souls-asa fire to melt, or as a hammer to break. And may you, today, with brokenness of heart take Christ to be your Savior, bothnow and forever. Amen.