Sermon 594. An Awful Premonition
A SERMON DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Assuredly I say unto you, there are some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming inHis kingdom." Matthew 16:28.
I must confess that I have frequently read this verse with but a vague sense of its profound impressiveness and I have passedit over rapidly because I did not understand it clearly. Though well acquainted with the usual interpretations, none of themhad ever satisfied my mind. It seemed to me asif the text had awakened surprise without suggesting a simple obvious meaning, and therefore the good commentators had inventedexplanations and offered suggestions widely different one from another, but all equally obscure and improbable. Lately, however,in reading a volume ofsermons by Bishop Horseley, I have met with a view altogether new of the passage which I firmly believe to be the correctone.
Though I do not suppose I shall carry the judgment of all of you with me, yet I shall do my best to bring out of it that terribledenunciation which I believe the Savior has here left on record. With His own Cross and passion in view, He was admonishingHis disciples to steadfastness, appealing tothem at any sacrifice to take up their cross and follow Him. Then portraying the inestimable value of the soul and reflectingon the horror of the soul being lost-a doom, the full force of which would be impossible to comprehend until He should comein the Glory of His Father,with all His holy angels- He stopped short, looked upon some of the company and said in words like these, "There are certainpersons standing here who shall never taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
Now what did He mean by this? Obviously it is either a marvelous promise to some who were His disciples, indeed, or else itis a portent of woe to others who should die in their sins. How do the popular interpretations of our learned expositors lookat it? Some say it refers to the Transfigurationand it certainly is remarkable that the account of the Transfiguration immediately follows this verse both in Mark and inLuke, as well as in this record of Matthew. But can you, for a moment, bring your minds to believe that Christ was describingHis Transfiguration when He spokeof "the Son of Man coming in His kingdom"?
Can you see any connection between the Transfiguration and the preceding verse, which says, "For the Son of Man shall comein the Glory of His Father with His angels. And then He shall reward every man according to His works"? We grant you thatChrist was in His Glory upon Mount Tabor, but He didnot there "reward every man according to his works," nor is it fair to call that a "coming" of the Son of Man at all! Hedid not "come" on Mount Tabor, for He was on the earth already. And it is a misuse of language to construe that into an advent.Besides, where would be theoccasion for such a solemn prefix-"Assuredly I say unto you"?
Does it not raise expectation merely to cause disappointment if He intended no more than this-"There are some standing herewho shall see Me transfigured"? That scene took place six days afterwards. The next verse tells you so, "And after six daysJesus takes Peter, James and John, hisbrother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart." Why, the majesty of the prediction which carries our thoughtsforward to "the last things" in the world's history makes us shrink from accepting an immediate fulfillment of it all! I cannotimagine, therefore, that theTransfiguration is in the slightest degree referred to here-and I do not think that anyone would have thought of such athing unless he had been perplexed and utterly nonplussed for an explanation.
And again-though it seems almost incredible-Dr. Gill endorses this view, and moreover says that it also refers to the descentof the Holy Spirit. At this I am staggered! How any man can find an analogy with Pentecost in the connection here I cannotunderstand! Pentecost took place sixmonths after this event and why Jesus Christ should say, "Assuredly I say unto you there are some standing here who willlive six months," I really cannot comprehend! It seems to me that my Master did not waste people's time by talking such platitudes.Who, that reads this passage,can think it has any reference to the descent of the Holy Spirit?-"For the Son of Man shall come in the Glory of His Fatherwith His angels. And then shall He reward every man according to his works."
Did Christ come at Pentecost in the Glory of His Father? Was there any company of angels at Pentecost? Did He then rewardevery man according to his works? Scarcely can the descent of the Holy Spirit, or the appearance of cloven tongues, like asof fire, be called the "coming of the Son of Man inthe Glory of His Father with His angels, to give every man according to his works" without a gross misuse of our mothertongue, or a strange violation of symbolic imagery. Both these constructions, however, which I now mention, have now beengiven up as unsatisfactory by thosemodern students who have thought most carefully upon the subject.
The third still holds its ground and is currently received, though I believe it to be quite as far from the Truth of God asthe others. Will you carefully read the chapter through at your leisure and see if you can find anything about the siege ofJerusalem in it? Yet this is the interpretationthat finds favor at the present time! Some persons were standing there who would be alive when Jerusalem should be destroyedby the Romans!! Nothing, surely, could be more foreign to the entire scope of our Lord's discourse, or the narrative of theEvangelists. There is not theslightest shadow of a reference to the siege of Jerusalem!
It is the coming of the Son of Man which is here spoken of, "in the glory of His Father with His angels, to reward men accordingto their works." Whenever Jesus spoke of the siege of Jerusalem and of its coming, he was known to say, "Assuredly I say untoyou, this generation shall not pass till allthese things are fulfilled," but He never singled out some few persons and said to them, "Assuredly I say unto you, thereare some standing here which shall not taste of death till the city of Jerusalem is besieged and destroyed."
If a child were to read this passage I know what he would think it meant-he would suppose Jesus Christ was to come and therewere some standing there who should not taste of death until really and literally He did come. This, I believe, is the plainmeaning. "Well," says one, "I am surprised!Do you think, then, that this refers to the Apostle John?" No-by no means. The fable passed current, you know, that Johnwas to live till Christ came again. But John himself repudiated it. For at the end of his Gospel, he says, "Then went thissaying abroad among the Brethren,that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die, but, If I will that he tarry till I come,what is that to you?"
This, you see, was putting a suppositions case and in no sense the language of prediction. Now, dear Brethren, if you areso far convinced of the unreasonableness of each of these efforts to solve the difficulty by feigning a sense, I shall hopeto have your minds in readiness for that explanationwhich appears to me to harmonize with every requirement. I believe the "coming" here spoken of, is the coming of the Sonof God to judgment at the last great and terrible assize, when He shall judge the righteous and separate the wicked from amongthem. The next questionis-"Of whom were the words spoken?"
Are we warranted in supposing that our Lord intended this sentence as a gracious promise, or a kindly expectation that Hewould kindle in the breast of His disciples? I suppose not. To me it appears to have no reference whatever to any man whoever had Grace in his soul-such language is farmore applicable to the ungodly than the wicked. It may well have been aimed directly at those followers who should apostatizefrom the faith, grasp at the world, shrink at the Cross, endeavor to save their lives but really lose them and barter theirsouls. At the glorious appearingof Christ there are some who will taste death, but will they be the righteous? Surely, my dear Friends, when Christ comes,the righteous will not die!
They will be caught up with the Lord in the air. His coming will be the signal for the resurrection of all His saints. Butmark you, at the time of His coming, the men who have been without God and without Christ, will begin, for the first time,to "taste of death." They passed the first stage ofdissolution when the soul quitted the body, but they have never known the "taste of death." Till then, they will not haveknown its tremendous bitterness and its awful horror. They will never drink of the wormwood and the gall, so as really to"taste of death," till the Lord shallcome.
This tasting of death here may be explained and I believe it is to be explained by a reference to the second death, whichmen will not taste of till the Lord comes. And what a dreadful sentence that was, when the Savior said-perhaps singling outJudas as He spoke-"Assuredly I say untoyou, there are some standing here who shall never know what that dreadful word 'death' means, till the Lord shall come.You think that if you save your lives, you escape from death.
Ah, you do not know what death means! The demise of the body is but a prelude to the perdition of the soul. The grave is butthe porch of death-you will never understand the meaning of that terrible word till the Lord comes."
This can have no reference to the saints, because in the eighth chapter of John and the fifty-first verse, you find this passage-"Verily,verily, I say unto you, If a man keeps My sayings, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto Him, Now we know thatyou have a devil. Abraham isdead and the Prophets. And you say, If a man keeps My sayings, he shall never taste of death." No righteous man, therefore,can ever "taste of death."
He will fall into that deep oblivious sleep in which the body sees corruption. But that is another and a very different thingfrom the bitter cup referred to as tasting of death. When the Holy Spirit wanted an expression to set forth what was the equivalentfor the Divine wrath, what expression wasused? "Christ, by the Grace of God, tasted death for every man." The expression, "to taste of death," means the receptionof that true and essential death, which kills both the body and the soul in Hell forever. The Savior said then, as He mightsay, I fear, if He stood in thispulpit tonight-"Assuredly I say unto you, there are some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see theSon of Man coming in His kingdom."
If this is the meaning and I hold that it is in keeping with the context, it explains the verse, sets forth the reason whyChrist bespoke breathless attention with the word "assuredly," answers both the grammar and the rhetoric and is not by anyargument that I have ever heard of to be repudiated.If this is so, what thrilling denunciations are contained in my text! O, may the Holy Spirit deeply affect our hearts andcause our souls to thrill with its solemnity! What thoughts it stirs up! Compared with the doom which will be inflicted uponthe ungodly at the coming of Christ,the death of nature is nothing.
We go farther-compared with the doom of the wicked at the coming of Christ, even the torments of souls in a separate stateare scarcely anything. The startling question then comes up-"Are there any sitting or standing here who will have to tasteof death when the Lord comes?"
I. THE SINNER'S DEATH IS BUT A FAINT PRESAGE OF THE SINNER'S DOOM AT THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN IN HIS GLORY. Let me endeavorto show the contrast. We can make but little comparison between the two in point of time. Many men meet with their death sosuddenly that it can scarcely involve any painto them. They are crushed, perhaps, by machinery. A shot sends them to find a grave upon the battlefield, or they may bespeedily poisoned.
If they are for hours, or days, or weeks, or months, upon the bed of sickness, yet the real work of dying is but short. Itis more a weary sort of living than an actual sense of dying while hope lingers though even in fitful dreams. Dying is butthe work of a moment-if it shall be said tolast for hours, yet the hours are brief. Misery may count them long, but oh, with what swift wings do they fly! To die,to fall asleep, to suffer-it may be but a pin's prick-and then to have passed away from the land of the living to the realmof shades!
But oh, the doom which is to be brought upon the wicked when Christ comes! This is a death which never dies. Here is a heartpalpitating with eternal misery. Here is an eye never filmed by the kind finger of generous forgetfulness. Here will be abody never to be stiffened in apathy-never tobe laid quietly in the grave-never rid of keen pangs, wearing disease and lingering wretchedness! To die, I say, is nature'skind release-it brings ease. It comes to a man, for this world, at least, a farewell to his woes and griefs.
But there shall be no ease, no rest, no pause in the destination of impenitent souls. "Depart, you cursed," shall ever ringalong the endless aisles of eternity. The thunderbolt of that tremendous word shall follow the sinner in his perpetual flightfrom the Presence of God-from its balefulinfluence he shall never be able to escape-no, never! A million years shall make not so much difference to the durationof his agony as a cup of water taken from the sea would to the volume of the ocean. No, when millions of years told a milliontimes shall have rolled theirfiery orbits over his poor tormented head, he shall be no nearer to the end than he was at first.
Talk of Death! I might even paint him as an angel when once I think of the terrors of the wrath to come. Soon come, soon gone,is Death. That sharp scythe gives but one cut and down falls the flower and withers in the heat of the sun. But eternity,eternity, eternity! Who shall measure its wounds?Who shall fathom the depths of the gashes? When eternity wields the whip, how dreadfully will it fall! When eternity graspsthe sword, how deep shall be the wounds, how terrible its killing!-
"To linger in eternal pain, Yet death forever fly."
You are afraid of death, Sinner? You are afraid of death? Were you wise, you would be ten thousand times ten thousand timesmore afraid of the coming and the judgment of the Son of Man! In point of loss there is no comparison. When the sinner diesit is not tasting of death in its true sense, forwhat does he lose? He loses wife and children and friends. He loses all his dainty bits and his sweet draughts. Where noware his violin and his lute? Where now the merry dance and the joyful company? For him no more pleasant landscape nor glidingstream. For him no more light ofthe sun by day, nor light of moon and stars by night. He has lost, at one stroke, every comfort and every hope.
But then the loss, as far as death is concerned, is but a loss of earthly things-the loss of temporal and temporary comforts-andhe might put up with that. It is wretched enough to lose these, but let your imagination follow me, faint as is my power todescribe the everlasting andinfinite loss of the man who is found impenitent at the last great Judgment Day. What does he lose then? The harps of Heavenand the songs. The joys of God's Presence and the light. The jasper sea and the gates of pearl. He has lost peace and immortalityand the crown of life.
No, he has lost all hope-and when a man has lost that, what remains for him? His spirit sinks with a terrible depression,more frightful than a maniac ever knew in his wildest moods of grief. His soul sinks never to recover itself into the depthsof dark despair, where not a ray of hope canever reach him. Lost to God! Lost to Heaven! Lost to time! Lost to the preaching of the Gospel! Lost to the invitation ofmercy! Lost to the prayers of the gracious! Lost to the Mercy Seat! Lost to the blood of sprinkling! Lost to all hope of everysort-lost, lost, forever!Compared with this loss the losses of death are nothing, and well might the Savior say that lost spirits shall not even"taste of death" until He shall come and they shall receive their sentence.
Neither does death bear any comparison with the last judgment in point of terror. I do not like to paint the terrors of thedeathbed of unrepentant men. Some, you know, glide gently into their graves. It is, in fact, the mark of the wicked that theyhave no bands in their death-their strengthis firm. They are not troubled like other men are. Like the sheep they are laid in the grave. A peaceful death is no signof Grace. Some of the worst of men have died with a smile upon their countenance to have it changed for one eternal weeping.But there are more men of otherexquisite sensibility, instructed men, who cannot die like brutes-and they have alarms and fears and terrors when they areon their deathbeds.
Many an atheist has cried to God under dying pangs and many an Infidel who up to then could brag and speak high things againstGod, has found his cheek turn pale and his throat grow hoarse when he has come there. Like the mariner, the boldest man inthat great storm reels to and fro and staggerslike a drunken man and is at his wits' ends-for he finds that it is no child's play to die. I try sometimes to picture thathour when we shall perhaps be propped up in bed, or lying down with pillows round about us, and diligently watched. And asthey hush their footfalls andgaze anxiously on, there is a whisper that the solemn time has come and then there is a grappling of the strong man withthe stronger than he.
Oh, what must it be to die without a Savior! To die in the dark without a light except the lurid glare of the wrath to come!Horrors there are, indeed, around the deathbed of the wicked! But these are hardly anything compared with the terrors of theDay of Judgment! When the sinner wakes from hisbed of dust, the first object he will see will be the Great White Throne and the Judge seated upon it-the first sound thatwill greet his ears will be the trumpet sounding-
"Come to judgment, come to judgment, Come to judgment, Sinner, come."
He will look up and there will be the Son of Man on His judgment throne-the King's officers arranged on either side-the saintson His right hand and angels round about. Then the books will be opened. What creeping horror will come upon the flesh ofthe wicked man! He knows his turn willarrive in a moment. He stands expecting it. Fear takes hold upon him while the eyes of the Judge look him through and throughand he cries to the rocks to hide him and the mountains to fall upon him! Happy would he be now to find a friendly shelterin the grave, but the grave hasburst its doors and can never be closed upon him again. He would even be glad to rush back to his former state in Hell,but he cannot!
The judgment has come, the assize is set-again the trumpet rings-
"Come to judgment, come to judgment, Come to judgment, come away." And then the book is opened and the dread sentence is pronounced.And, to use the words of Scripture, "Death and Hell are cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whoeverwas not found written in the Book of Lifewas cast into the lake of fire." The man never knew what death was before. The first death was but a flea-bite! This isdeath, indeed. The first death he might have looked back upon as a dream, compared with this tasting of death now that theLord has come!
From what we can gleam darkly from hints of Scripture, the pains of death are not at all comparable to the pains of the judgmentat the second advent. Who will speak in a depreciating manner of the pains of death? If we should attempt to do so, we knowthat our hearts would contradict us. In theshades of night, when deep sleep falls upon men, you sometimes suddenly awake. You are alarmed. The terror by night hascome upon you. You expect-you hardly know what it is-but you are half afraid that you are about to die. You know how the coldsweat comes upon thebrow. You may have a good hope through Grace, but the very thought of death brings a peculiar pang.
Or when death has really come in view, some of us have marked with terrible grief the sufferings of our dearest friends. Wehave heard the eye-strings break. We have seen the face all pallid and the cheek all hollow and sunken. We have sometimesseen how every nerve has become a road for the hotfeet of pain to travel on and how every vein has been a canal of grief. We have marked the pains, and moans, and groans,and dying strife that frightens the soul away. These, however, are common to man. Not so the pangs which are to be inflictedboth on body and soul at the comingof the Son of God!
They are such that I cast a veil over them, fearful of the very thought! Let the Master's words suffice-"Fear Him who is ableto cast both body and soul into Hell; yes, I say unto you, fear Him." Then the body in all the parts shall suffer. The memberswhich were once instruments ofunrighteousness shall now be instruments of suffering. And the mind, the major sinner, shall be also the greater sufferer.The memory, the judgment, the understanding, the will, the imagination and every power and passion of the soul will becomea deep lake of anguish. But I spareyou these things! Oh, spare yourselves! God alone knows with what pain I have talking about these horrors!
Were it not that they must be spoken of, or else I must give my account at the Day of Judgment as a faithless servant. Wereit not that I speak of them in mercy to your souls, poor Sinners, I would gladly forget them altogether, seeing that my ownsoul has a hope in Him who saves from the wrath tocome. But as long as you will not have mercy upon yourselves, we must lay this axe at your root-so long as you will makea mockery of sin and set at nothing the terrors of the world to come-we must warn you of Hell.
If it is hard to talk of these things, what must it be to endure them? If a dream makes you quiver from head to foot, whatmust it be to endure really and in person, the wrath to come? O Souls, were I to speak as I ought, my knees would knock togetherwith trembling! Were you to feel as you should,there would not be an unconverted man among you who would not cry, "Sir, what must I do to be saved?" I do beseech you toremember that death, with all its pangs, is but a drop in a bucket compared with the deep, mysterious, fathomless, shorelesssea of grief you must endure foreverat the coming of the Lord Jesus unless you repent!
Death makes great discoveries. The man thought himself wise, but Death draws the curtain and he sees written up in large letters-"Youfool!" He said he was prudent, for he hoarded up his gold and silver and kept the wages of the laborer. But now he finds thathe has made a bad bargain whilethe question is propounded to him-"What does it profit you, to have gained the world and to have lost your soul?" Deathis a great revealer of secrets. Many men are not believers at all until they die. But Death comes and makes short work withtheir skepticism. It gives butone blow upon the head of doubt and all is done. The man believes then, only he believes too late!
Death gives to the sinner the discovery that there is a God-an angry God-and punishment is wrapped up in the wrath to come.But how much greater the discoveries that await the Day of Judgment! What will the sinner see then? He will see the Man whowas crucified sitting upon His Throne.He will hear how Satan has been defeated in all his craftiest undertakings. Read from those mysterious books, the secretsof all hearts shall then be revealed. Then men shall understand how the Lord reigned supremely even when Satan roared mostloudly-how the mischief and thefolly of man did but, after all, bring forth the great purposes of God.
All this shall be in the books and the sinner shall stand there defeated, terribly defeated, beaten at every point- baffled,foiled, stultified in every act and every purpose by which he thought to do well for himself. Yes, and utterly confused inall the hostility and all the negligence ofhis heart towards the living and true God who would, and who did rule over him. Too late he will discover the preciousnessof the blood he despised-the value of the Savior he rejected-the glory of the Heaven which he lost and the terror of the Hellto which he issentenced! How wise, how dreadfully wise will he be when fully aware of his terrible and eternal destruction! Thus sinnersshall not taste of death in the real meaning of the term until the Lord shall come.
II. Still further-IN THE STATE OF SEPARATE SPIRITS THEY HAVE NOT FULLY TASTED OF DEATH, NOR WILL THEY DO SO UNTIL CHRIST COMES.The moment that a man dies, his spirit goes before God. If without Christ, that spirit then begins to feel the anger and thewrath of God. It is as when a man istaken before a magistrate. He is known to be guilty and therefore he is remanded and put in prison till his trial shallcome. Such is the state of souls apart from the body-they are spirits in prison-waiting for the time of their trial.
There is not, in the sense in which the Romanist teaches it, any purgatory! Yet there is a place of waiting for lost spiritswhich is in Scripture called, "Hell," because it is one room in that awful prison, in which must dwell forever spirits thatdie finally impenitent and without faith inChrist. But those of our departed countrymen and fellow citizens of earth who die without Christ have not yet fully tastedof death, nor can they until the advent of the Lord. Just consider why not. Their bodies do not suffer. The bodies of thewicked are still the prey of theworm-still the atoms are the sport of the winds and are traversing their boundless cycles and must do so until they aregathered up into the body again, at the trump of the archangel-at the voice of God.
The ungodly know that their present state is to have an end at the Judgment, but after the Judgment their state will haveno end. It is then to go on and on and on, forever and forever, unchanged and unchangeable. Now there may be half a hope,an anticipation of some change, for change brings somerelief. But to the finally damned-upon whom the sentence has been pronounced-there is no hope even of a change. Foreverand forever shall there be the same ceaseless wheel of misery!
The ungodly, too, in their present state, have not as yet been put to the shame of a public sentence. They have, as it were,merely been cast into prison, the facts being too clear to admit of any doubt as to the sentence. And they are their own tormentors,vexing and paining themselves with thefear of what is yet to come. They have never yet heard that dreadful sentence-"Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire,prepared for the devil and his angels." I was struck, while studying this subject, to find how little is said about the painsof the lost while they aremerely souls and how much is said concerning them when the Lord comes.
You have that one parable of the rich man and Lazarus and there it speaks of the soul being already tormented in the flame.But if you turn to the thirteenth chapter of Matthew and read the parable of the tares, you will find it is at the end ofthe world that the tares are to be cast into thefire. Then comes the parable of the dragnet. It is when the dispensation comes to an end that the net is to be dragged toshore and then the good are to be put in vessels and the bad cast away. And then the Lord says, "The Son of Man shall sendforth His angels and they shall gatherout of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: thereshall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
That memorable description in Matthew of those of whom He said, "I was hungry and you gave me no meat. I was thirsty and yougave me no drink," is described as happening when, the "Son of Man shall come in His glory and all His holy angels with Him."The Apostle Paul, too, tells us plainly in theEpistle to the Thessalonians that the wicked are to be destroyed at His coming by the brightness of His power. The recompenseof the ungodly, like the reward of the righteous, is anticipated now-but the full reward of the righteous is to be at Hiscoming. They are to reignwith Christ. Their fullness of bliss is to be given them when the King Himself in His glory shall sit upon His Throne. So,too, the wicked have the beginning of their heritage at death, but the dread fullness of it is to be hereafter.
At the present moment, death and Hell are not yet cast into the lake of fire. Death is still abroad in the world slaying men.Hell is yet loose. The devil is not yet chained, but still does he go about the "dry places, seeking rest and finding none."At the last day, at the coming of Christ, "deathand Hell shall be cast into the lake of fire." We do not understand the symbol. But if it means anything, one would thinkit must mean this-that at that day the scattered powers of evil, which are to be the tormentors of the wicked, but which haveup to now been wandering upand down throughout the world, shall all be collected together-and then, indeed, shall it be that the wicked shall beginto "taste of death" as they have never tasted of it before!
My soul is bowed down with terror while I speak these words to you! I scarcely know how to find suitable words to expressthe weight of thought which is upon me. My dear Hearers, instead of speculating upon these matters, let us try to shun thewrath to come. And what can help us to do that betterthan to weigh the warning words of a dear and loving Savior when He tells us that at His coming such a gloom shall passupon impenitent souls, that compared with it, even death itself shall be as nothing?
Christians, by the faith of their risen Lord, swallow death in victory. But if you die impenitent, you swallow death in ignorance.You do not feel its bitterness now. But, oh, that bitter pill has yet to work its way and that fierce draught has yet to bedrained even to the dregs, unless yourepent! And now, does not the meditation of these terrors prompt A QUESTION. Jesus said-"Assuredly I say unto you, thereare some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Are there any standingor sitting here who shallnot taste of death till then?
In that little group addressed by the Savior stood Judas. He had been trusted by His Master and he was an Apostle. But afterall he was a thief and a hypocrite. He, the son of perdition, would not taste of death till Christ should come in His kingdom.Is there a Judas here? I look into your facesand many of you are members of this Church and others of you, I doubt not, are members of other Christian Churches-but areyou sure that you have made sound work of it? Is your religion genuine? Do you wear a mask, or are you an honest man?
O Sirs, try your own hearts and since you may fail in the trial, ask the Lord to search you! For as the Lord my God lives,unless you thus search yourselves and find that you are in the right, you may come presumptuously to sit at the Lord's Table.Though with a name to live, you may be among Hispeople here, but you will have to taste of death when the Lord comes. You may deceive us, but you cannot deceive Him! Thepreacher reflects that he himself may be mistaken. That he himself may be self-deceived. If it is so, may the Lord open myeyes to know the worst of my ownstate! Will you put up this prayer for yourselves, professors? Do not be too bold, you who say you are Christ's-never besatisfied till you are quite sure of it. And the best way to be sure is to go again just as you went at first and lay holdon eternal life through the powerof the blessed Spirit and not by any strength of your own.
No doubt, however, there stood in that little throng around the Savior some who were careless sinners. He knew that they hadbeen so during the whole of His teaching and that they would be so still, and therefore they would taste of death at His coming.Are there not some careless persons come inhere tonight? I mean you who never think about religion, who generally look upon Sunday as a day of pleasure, or who lollabout in your shirtsleeves nearly all the day. You who look upon the very name of religion as a bugbear to frighten childrenwith-who mock God's servantsand despise the very thought of earnestly seeking after the Most High.
Oh, will you, will you be among the number of those who taste of death when the Son of Man shall come in His kingdom? Oh,must I ring your death knell tonight? Must my warning voice be lost upon you? I beseech you to recollect that you must eitherturn or burn! I beseech you to rememberthis-"Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts. And let him turn unto the Lord and He will havemercy upon him. And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." By the wounds of Jesus, Sinner, stop and think! If God's dearSon was slain for humansin, how terrible must that sin be! And if Jesus died, how base are you if you are disobedient to the doctrine of faith!I pray you, if you think of your body, give some thought to your soul! "Why do you spend money for that which is not bread?And labor for that which satisfiesnot?" Hearken diligently unto Jehovah's Word and eat of that which is good, real, and substantial food. Come to Jesus andyour soul shall live!
And there are some here of another class-Bethsaida sinners, Capernaum sinners! I mean some of you who constantly occupy thesepews and stand in yonder area and sit in yonder gallery Sunday after Sunday. The same eyes look down on me week after week.The same faces salute me often with a smilewhen Sunday comes and I pass you journeying to this, the Tabernacle of your worship. And yet how many of you are still withoutGod and without Christ? Have I been unfaithful to you? If I have, forgive me and pray to God both for me and for yourselvesthat we may mend our ways.
But if I have warned you of the wrath to come, why will you choose to walk in the path which leads to it? If I have preachedto you Christ Jesus, how is it that His charms move you not and that the story of His great love does not bring you to repentance?O that the Spirit of God would come anddeal with you, for I cannot! My hammer breaks not your flinty hearts, but God's arm can do it and O, may He turn you yet!Of all sinners over whom a minister ought to weep, you are the worst-for while the careless perish you perish doubly!
You know your Master's will and yet you do it not. You see Heaven's gate set open and yet you will not enter. Your viciousfree will ruins you! Your base and wicked love of self and sin destroys you! "You will not come unto Me that you might havelife," said Christ. You are so vile that you willnot turn even though Jesus should woo you. I pray you let the menace of judgment to come contained in my text stir you nowif you have never been stirred before! May God have pity on you even if you will have no pity upon yourselves.
Perhaps among that company there were some who held the Truth of God, but who held it in licentiousness-and there may be suchhere present. You believe in the doctrine of election. So do I. But then you make it a cloak for your sin! You hold the doctrineof the perseverance of the saints, butyou still persevere in your iniquity. Oh, there is no way of perishing that I know of worse than perishing by making theDoctrines of Grace an excuse for one's sins! The Apostle has well said of such that their damnation is just-it is just toany man, but to a seven-folddegree is it just to such as you are! I would not have you forget the doctrine, nor neglect it, nor despise it-but I dobeseech you do not prostitute it-do not turn it to the vile purposes of making it pander to your own carnal ease.
Remember, you have no evidence of election except you are holy and you have no right to expect you will be saved at the lastunless you are saved now. A present faith in a present Savior is the test. O that my Master would bring some of you to trustHim tonight! The plan of salvation issimple-trust Christ and you are saved! Rely upon Him and you shall live! This faith is the gift of God, but remember thatthough God gives it, He works in you to will and to do of His own good pleasure. God does not believe for you. The Holy Spiritdoes not believe foryou-you must believe, or else you will be lost!
And it is quite consistent with the fact that it is the gift of God, to say that it is also the act of man. You must, poorSoul, be led to trust the Savior, or into Heaven you can never enter. Is there one here who says, "I desire to find the Saviortonight"? Go not to your bed until you havesought Him and seek Him with sighs and with tears. I think this is a night of Divine Grace. I have preached the Law andthe terrors of the Lord to you, but it will be a night of Grace to the souls of some of you! My Master does but kill you thatHe may make you alive! He does butwound you that He may make you whole!
I feel a sort of inward whisper in my heart that there are some of you who even now have begun your flight from the wrathto come. Where do you flee? Fly to Jesus! Hurry, Sinner, hurry! I trust you will find Him before you retire to your beds,or if you lie tossing there in doubt and fear, then mayHe manifest Himself to you before the morning light. I think I would freely give my eyes if you might but see Christ! AndI would willingly give my hands if you might but lay hold on Him! Do, I beseech you, put not from you this warning, but letit have its proper work upon you andlead you to repentance!
May God save you and may the prayer we have already offered this evening be answered, that the company of you may be foundamong His elect at His right hand. To that end let us pray. Our Father, save us with Your great salvation. We will say untoGod, do not condemn us! Deliver us from going downto the pit, for You have found the ransom. May we not be among the company that shall taste of death when the Son of Manshall come. Hear us, Jesus, through Your blood. God be merciful to us sinners. Amen.