Sermon 600. The Centurion-Or An Exhortation To The Virtuous
A SERMON DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he lovesour nation and he has built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far from the house, the centurionsent friends to Him, saying unto Him, Lord,trouble not Yourself: for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof: why neither thought I myself worthy to comeunto You: but say in a word and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiersand I say unto one, Go and hegoes. And to another, Come and he comes. And to my servant, Do this and he does it. When Jesus heard these things, He marveledat him and turned Him about and said unto the people that followed Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no,not in Israel." Luke 7:4-9.
THIS Centurion certainly had a high reputation. Two features of character blend in him which do not often meet in such gracefulharmony. He won the high opinion of others and yet he held a low estimation of himself. There are some who think little ofthemselves. And they are quite correct in theirfeelings as all the world would endorse the estimate of their littleness. Others there are who think great things of themselves-butthe more they are known the less they are praised-and the higher they carry their heads the more the world laughs them toscorn!
Nor is it unusual for men to think great things of themselves because the world commends or flatters them. They robe themselveswith pride and cloak themselves with vanity because they have by some means, either rightly or wrongly, won the good opinionof others. There are very few who have thehappy combination of the text. The elders say of the centurion that he is worthy. But he says of himself, "Lord, I am notworthy!" They commend him for building God a house. But he thinks that he is not worthy that Christ should come under theroof of his house. They plead hismerit. But he pleads his demerit.
Thus he appeals to the power of Christ apart from anything that he felt in himself or thought of himself. O that you and Imight have this blessed combination in ourselves! To win the high opinion of others, so far as it can be gained by integrity,by uprightness and by decision of character andyet at the same time to walk humbly with our God! Now there are three things I shall speak about tonight and may God makethem profitable. First, here is a high character. Secondly, here is deep humility. And, thirdly, here is, notwithstandingthat deep humility, a very mightyfaith.
I. To begin, then, dear Friends, here is A HIGH CHARACTER. Let us thoroughly appreciate it and give it a full measure of commendation.When preaching Jesus Christ to the chief of sinners, we have sometimes half dreamed that some who are moral and upright mightthink themselves excluded-theyought not to think so, nor is it fair for them to draw such an inference. We have heard the whisper of some who have saidthey could almost wish that they had been more abandoned and dissolute in the days of their unregeneracy so they might havea deeper repentance and be witnessesof a more palpable and thorough change and that they might never have cause to doubt of the triumph of Grace in their experience!
We have even heard some say, "I could have wished that I had groveled in the very mire of sin-not that I love it- on the contrary,I loathe it. But because had I then to be rescued from such a course of life, the change would be so manifest and apparentthat I should never dare to askmyself whether I was a changed man or not. I should feel it and see it in my daily course and conversation." Dear Friends,if anything we have ever said should have led you into this mistake we are sorry for it-it was never our intention. Whilewe would open the gates of mercyso wide that the greatest blas- phemer, the most unchaste and the most debauched may not be without hope-yet we never wantto shut those gates in the face of such as have been brought up in a godly manner-those who through the Providence of Godand the checks ofeducation have been kept from the grosser vices.
On the contrary, we thought that when we opened it for the worst there would be room for the best! And if Noah's ark tookin the unclean, certainly the clean would not be afraid to enter. If Jesus Christ was able to cure those who were far gonein sickness, you might infer that He would certainlybe able to heal those who, though they were sick, might not be so far advanced in disease! Besides, a little reflectionmay suggest to you that the penitence of contrite Believers is not regulated by the extent of their crimes against what youcall the moral code. It is one thing toestimate sin by its apparent turpitude and another and an infinitely better thing to have the eyes of the understandingenlightened-to see sin in its infinite malignity as it appears in the light of heavenly purity and perfection which proceedsfrom the Throne of God, or as itis reflected from Mount Calvary where the amazing Sacrifice of Christ was offered.
What? Do you think the whitewashed sepulcher of a Pharisee's heart is less loathsome to the Almighty than the open pollutionof a Magdalene's life? Or, in the matter of experience, could the recollection of a thousand debaucheries give such a meltingsense of contrition as a sight of the CrucifiedOne? O Friends, let me remind you of the words of Jesus, "When He"-the Spirit of Truth-"is come, He will reprove the worldof sin and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on Me."
That one sin of unbelief is such a concentration of all wickedness that it could outweigh the crimes of Sodom and Gomorrahand make them more excusable in the Day of Judgment than the men of Capernaum who saw the mighty works of Christ and did notrepent! That one sin of unbelief is so heinous thatthe groans of the whole creation were but pitiful sighs to deplore it! And rivers of tears were but a weak tribute to lamentit. However, as mistakes do arise and misapprehensions will take place, let us have a few words concerning a high characterin the sight of men. Such acharacter among your fellow creatures may be gained in any situation.
The centurion was a soldier-a profession of life not altogether the most favorable for moral excellence-though there havebeen in the army some of the brightest saints that ever lived. He was a soldier, moreover, in a foreign country-not the placewhere he was likely to winesteem. He was there as one of the representatives of a power which had conquered Judea and had treated it with great cruelty.Yet, notwithstanding the prejudices of race and nationality, this man's kindness of disposition and goodness of conduct hadwon for him the esteem ofothers.
Moreover, being a commander of soldiers, he, naturally, would be blamed for every act of violence committed by his soldiers.Whatever might be done by his hundred men would be laid to the captain, so that his was a condition of peculiar difficultyand yet, notwithstanding this, the elders said, "Heis worthy." Let none of you despair! Wherever you may be placed, a noble character may be earned. You may serve God in themost menial capacity but you may compel your very foes to admit your excellence! You may stand without blame before men andyou may walk so uprightly before Godthat those who watch for your stumbling may bite their lips with disappointment-while they shall not have a single wordto say against you except it is about the religion of your God and King.
Let no man, wherever he may be thrown-though he is surrounded by those who tempt him-despair, especially if the Grace of Godis in him. Let him pray like Joab that he may have favor in the eyes of his Master and expect to win it. This centurion musthave been a man of sterling worth. Hewas not merely quiet and inoffensive like some men who are as dull as they are harmless. Though a high character may bewon, it cannot be won without being earned. Men do not get character among their fellows by indolence and listlessness, orby pretensions and talk. Action!Action!-this is what the world wants!
And there is more truth than we have dreamed of in Nelson's opinion-"England expects every man to do his duty." Certainlymen will not speak well of you unless you do well. This centurion did so, for you will observe that they said he was worthy-whichmust have signified that he wasjust in his dealings and generous in his habits-or they would not have thought him worthy. It would appear, too, that hisprivate temperament as well as his public spirit contributed to the estimation in which he was held. You will notice in thecircumstances which bring himbefore us, how his tender feelings and his intense anxiety were drawn out on behalf, not of a child, but of a servant-perhapsof a slave!
And then we might have thought it had been enough to have said that the man was highly valued by his master-but the expressionis one of fondness-he was, "dear unto him." The fidelity of the servant may be implied, but it is the amiability of the masterwhich is most prominent andchiefly arrests our attention. Nor need we overlook the fact that Matthew lays an emphasis upon the servant being, "at home,"under his master's roof. We know that the Romans were not remarkable for the kindness they showed to their dependants-oftenthey were merely lookedupon as slaves.
Why, in our own days and in the midst of our boasted civilization, when Christianity has exerted a salutary influence uponall our social relations, I suppose it is not uncommon for a domestic servant to go home to her parents' house in the caseof sickness. It is not every good man among us, Ifear, whose gentleness would equal that of the centurion in the love which he bears to his servant and the comfort he providedfor him in his own house!
Next to this you will observe his generosity. It is not, my dear Friends, by occasional deeds of showy luster but by the habitualpractice of lovely virtues that a worthy character is built up. A thousand kindnesses may be nestling beneath the soil likethe many-fibred root of a gigantic tree, whenit is said, "He loves our nation," and then the conspicuous fruit appears in its season-"He has built us a synagogue." Thisexample of liberality is spoken of as a mere supplement. The Jewish elders do not say, "He loves our nation" for-but theysay, "he loves our nationand he has built us a synagogue." This last was a visible token of innumerable good offices which had already won theirsecret esteem before it bloomed in an open reputation.
I have heard all sorts of men praised and I have noted the qualities which win the plaudits of the crowd. Even the high andhaughty have some to praise them. But I think I never heard a niggardly man praised, or one who was perpetually guilty ofmeanness. Let him have whatever virtues he may, if helack liberality, few, if any, will speak well of him. Let me commend liberality to the Christian-in all his actions andbenevolence-in all his thoughts. This may sound commonplace, but I am persuaded that the little tricks in trade-those littlesavings of thepence, those sharp dealings-are just the things which bring religion into disrepute. It were infinitely better that theChristian should pay too much than too little. He had better be blamed for an excess of generosity than take credit to himselffor a rigid stinginess.
Rather let him become, now and then, the dupe of an imposter than shut up the heart of his compassion against his fellow man.I would seek, Christian man, to win a noble character. I cannot see how you can do so except you should put generosity intothe scale and enroll it in the list of yourvirtues. A high character, when earned, is very useful. I am saying this because some might imagine that in the preachingof the Gospel we put the base and the wicked before those who have walked uprightly. A good character, a good reputation inthe esteem of men, when earned, maywin for us as it did for this centurion, kind thoughts, kind words, kind acts, kind prayers.
There is many a man who will pray for you if he sees you walk uprightly. Yes, and your very adversary who would otherwisehave cursed you, will find the curse trembling on his tongue. Though he would gladly scorn, yet does he bate his breath, abashedat your excellencies. Let the Christian labor soto live that he shall not lack a friend. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness," is one of Christ'sown precepts. If to stoop, to cringe, to lie, wins you friends, do not do it! But if with uprightness before God you can stillmingle such affection and suchgenerosity towards men that you shall win their support, do it, I pray you. The time may come when their sympathy shallbefriend you.
But remember, and here I close this point, however good your character or however excellent your reputation, not one wordof this is ever to be mentioned before the Throne of the Most High. Job could say when he was talking with his adversaries,"I am not wicked." He could boast in hisexcellencies, as he did. But in the Presence of God how he changed his note-"Now my eyes see You: why I abhor myself andrepent in dust and ashes." Coming before the Lord, we must all come as sinners. When on your knees you have nothing to boastof more than the worst rogue orthe man who has sinned against his country's laws. There, at the foot of the Cross, one needs the cleansing blood as muchas the other. At mercy's gate we must alike knock and we must be fed by the same generous hand. There are no degrees here-weenter by the same door. Wecome to the same Savior.
And we shall ultimately-Glory be to His name!-sit together in the same Heaven whether we have earned a good reputation ornot! Whether we have crept into Heaven, as the thief did at the eleventh hour, or through forty and five years of public serviceearned the applause of men, as didCaleb the son of Jephunneh-
"Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Your Cross I cling," must be the common footing and the like confession of both beforethe God of Mercy. Thus much by way of tribute to the high character of the centurion and the high motives to emulate it.
II. Secondly, in the centurion we see coupled with this high and noble repute, DEEP HUMILIATION OF SOUL. "I am not worthythat You should enter under my roof." Humility, then, it appears, may exist in any condition. There are some men who are toomean to be humble. Do you understand me? They aretoo crouching, crawling, sneaky and abject to be humble. When they use humble words, they disgrace the words they use! Youperceive at once that it is rather a rise than a stoop for them to be humble.
How could it be otherwise? It certainly is not for the least vermin that creep the earth to talk about humility. They mustbe low-it is their proper place. Such the creatures who cringe and fawn-"Whatever you please, Sir," "Yes," "No," in the samebreath. They have not a soul withinthem that would be worth the notice of a sparrow hawk. They are too little to be worthy of observation yet they say theyare humble! A man, to be humble, needs to have a soul-to stoop, you must have some elevation to stoop from. You must havesome real excellence within youbefore you can really understand what it is to renounce merit.
Had the centurion been unworthy, had he been ungenerous and an oppressor, he would have spoken the truth when he said, "Iam not worthy that You should enter under my roof." But there would have been no true humility in what he said. It was becauseof his excellence, as acknowledged by others, thathe could be humble in the modesty of his opinion of himself. We have heard of a certain monk who, professing to be humble,said he had broken all God's Commandments. He said he was the greatest sinner in the world-he was as bad as Judas. Somebodysaid, "Why tell us that? Wehave all of us thought that a long time!" Straightway the holy man grew red in the face and struck the accuser and askedhim what he had ever done to deserve such an accusation!
We know some of that kind-they will use the words of humility, appear very contrite and perhaps even at Prayer Meetings youwould think them the meekest and most broken-hearted of men-but if you were to take them at their word, straightway they wouldtell you they use the language assome ecclesiastical personages do, in a non-natural sense! They do not quite mean what they were supposed to mean, but somethingvery different. That is not humility-it is a kind of mock-modesty which hankers after applause and holds out specious wordsas a bait for the trapof approbation.
Our centurion was truly humble. This a man may be, though possessing the highest excellence and standing in the most eminentposition. I believe, in my soul, that no man had truer humility in him than John Knox and yet John Knox never cringed andnever bowed. When Luther dared the thunders of theVatican, no doubt many said how self-conceited, egotistical and proud he was. But for all that, God knew how humbly MartinLuther walked with Him. When Athana-sius stood up and said, "I, Athanasius, against the world," it had the ring of pride aboutit-but there was true andsound humility before God in it-because he seemed to say, "What am I? Not worthy of taking care of. And therefore I do notuse the deceptions of cowardice for my own personal safety. Let the world do what it will to me, God's Truth is infinitelymore precious than I am and soI give myself up as an offering upon its altar."
True humility will agree with the highest chivalry in maintaining Divine Truth and with the boldest assertion of what oneknows in his own conscience to be true. Though it may be the lot of Christians to be thought proud, let it never be true orcapable of being substantiated concerning them. Thecenturion, though worthy, was still humble. His friends and neighbors gauged him by what he said and what he did. He askedthem to go for him, seeing he was not worthy. Then, finding that they asked too great a gift, he comes to stop them-"I amnot worthy that You should enterunder my roof."
You need not tell people that you are humble. You have no occasion to advertise that you have genuine humility- let it discoveritself as spice does, by its perfume-or as fire, by its burning. If you live near to God and if your humility is of the rightkind it will tell its own talebefore long. But the place where humility does speak out is at the Throne of Grace. Beloved, there are some things we wouldconfess of ourselves before God which we would not confess before men. There is an attitude of prostration at the Throne ofthe Most High which will never beso gracefully or graciously taken as by that man who would spurn to prostrate himself before his fellows.
That is not true humility which bends the knee at the tyrant's throne-that is true humility which, having bearded the tyrantto his face, goes down on its knees before the God of Heaven-bold as a lion before men, but meek as a lamb before Jehovah!The true man, whom God approves, willnot-dares not-turn aside the love he bears his sovereign Lord when he faces men. But when he is alone with his Maker heveils his face with something better than the wings of angels!
Wrapped all over with the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, he rejoices with fear and trembling that he is justifiedfrom all things. Yet, conscious of the total defilement of his nature, with deep prostration of soul he uses the leper's cry,"Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!" Thus does he fix allhis hope upon that cleansing blood and depends alone on that meritorious obedience of Jesus upon which every sanctifiedBeliever exclusively relies. Seek, then, as much as lies in you, that high character which the Christian should maintain amongmen. But with it always blend thattrue humility which comes of the Spirit of God and ever behooves us in the Presence of the Lord.
III. The main thing I am aiming at, because, after all, the most practical, lies in my third point. However deep our humility,however conscious we may be of our own undeservedness, WE SHOULD NEVER DIMINISH OUR FAITH IN GOD. Observe the confession-"Iam not worthy that You should enter undermy roof." What then will be the inference? "I fear, therefore, my servant will not be healed"? No, no! But-"Say in a Wordand my servant shall be healed"!
It is all a mistake that great faith implies pride. Beloved, the greater the faith, the deeper the humility. These are brothers,not foes. The more the Glories of God strike your eyes, the humbler you will lie in conscious abasement but the higher youwill rise in importunate prayer! Let us takethis principle and endeavor to apply it to a few cases. I say that a deep sense of our own nothingness is not to preventour having strong faith. We will take a few instances. There is a minister here who has been preaching the Word of God-hehas so proclaimed it that God hasbeen pleased to own it in some degree.
But, it may be, he has stirred up strife. He has caused, I know not what amount of turmoil and of noise, as the faithful servantof God will in his measure. And now, coming before God, he is asking that a greater blessing than ever may rest upon his labors.But something checks his tongue. Heremembers his many infirmities. He remembers, perhaps, how slack he is in his private devotions and how cold he is in hispleading with the sons of men. He has before Him the promise, "My Word shall not return unto Me void." But for all that, heis so conscious that he does notdeserve the honor of being useful that he is half afraid to pray as he should pray and to believe as he should believe.
Dear Brother, may I press upon you the case of the centurion? It is right for you-it is right for me, to say, "Lord, I amnot worthy to be made the spiritual parent of one immortal soul." It is right for me to feel that it is too great an honorto be permitted to preach the Truth of God atall and almost too high a thing for such a sinner to have any jewels to present to the Redeemer to fix in His crown! But,oh, we must not from this infer that He will not fulfill His promise to us and hear our prayers! "Lord, speak in a Word and,feeble though the instrument may be,the congregation shall be blessed! Say but the Word and the marvelous testimony, though marred with a thousand imperfections,shall yet be 'quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.' "
Let this comfort and cheer any desponding pastor-let him take heart from this and learn that it is not himself to whom heis look to, but that he is to look to God. And that it is not his own arm upon which he is to depend, but the promise of Godand the strong arm of the Most High. Or, am Iaddressing some Brother or Sister in a somewhat similar perplexity of mind? In your private life, dear Friend, you havelaid upon your heart some of your relatives and neighbors who are very dear to you.
Or perhaps, you teach a class in the Sunday school, or possibly you have a larger class of adults and sometimes Satan willbe very busy with you. The more useful you are, the more busy he will be. And he will say to you, "What are you, that youshould ever hope to see conversions? Other men andwomen have had them, but they were better than you are- they had more talent. They had more ability. They served God better.And God gave them a greater reward. You must not hope to see your children saved! You cannot expect it. How should such teachingas yours ever beuseful?"
Friend, you are right in saying, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof." The more you can feel that,the more hopeful shall I be of your success! You are right in feeling that David is not fit to meet the giant and that thestones out of the brook are scarcely fit weapons forsuch a warfare. But, oh, do not push the right into a wrong! Do not, therefore, mistrust your God! No matter what a foolyou may be-God has confused wise things by the foolish long before now. No matter how weak you are-God has brought down themighty by weakinstrumentalities often enough before this time!
Have hope in Him and tonight in your prayers, when you have made your confessions, do not let your faith fail you, but say,"Lord, say in a Word and my class shall be blessed! Say in a Word and those stubborn boys and girls, those to whom I havetalked so often, who seem to be none thebetter-shall be saved." Have faith in God, beloved fellow work- ers! The result of all, under God, must rest with your faith!If you believe for little success, you shall have little success. But if you can believe for great things and expect greatthings, you shall certainlyfind your Master's Words fulfilling your desire!
Do I now also address parents here who have been praying for their children? Or a husband who has been pleading for his wife?Or a wife who has been making intercession for her husband? God only knows what heart-rending prayers are often heard in familieswhere only a part is saved! Ah, what griefis it to a truly godly father to see his sons and daughters still heirs of wrath! And what a pang to know that the partnerof your bosom must be separated from you forever by the stroke of death! I marvel not that you pray for your friends! ShouldI not marvel at you if you did not?And now, when you have been praying lately, a sense of your unworthiness has almost stopped you. And though, perhaps, therehas been no public sin about you-before others you could have defended yourself-you have said in private, "Lord, I am notworthy of this blessing."
You have said, "Lord, my children are not saved because my example is not as good as it should be. My conversation is notas upright as it should be." You have felt, as I have sometimes, that there was no creature in the whole world so little andno man loved of God in all the world that was sogreat a wonder of ingratitude as you are. I say it is right that you should feel this-but do not let this stop your prayers!Offer your request! Depend upon the blood of Christ for its plea and upon the intercession of Christ for its prevalence! Donot be afraid!
An evil hand drops a letter into the post office, but the blackness of that hand will not hinder the dispatch of it. Thereis a stamp upon it and it will go. And your black hand drops a prayer before Christ's feet, but that black hand will not stopits being heard, for there is a stamp uponit-Jehovah Jesus' blood! It may be blotted and misspelled and there may be many blurs all over it, but do not be afraid,for God knows His Son's signature and that will give a worth to your prayers. It is the bloody signature of Him whose handwas nailed to the Cross that willcarry the day with God. Therefore do not, I pray you, give place to fear-your prayers shall return into your bosom withan answer of peace.
"Well, but," says one, "I have prayed so long." Ah, Brother, do not, "limit the Holy One of Israel." Sister, do not let yourdoubts prevail. Renew your appeal to Jesus, "Say in a Word-only say one Word." It is all done if He shall speak! Darknessfled before Him in the primeval chaos andorder followed confusion. Do you think, if He shall say, "Let there be light" in a dark heart, that there shall not be lightthere? Angels fly at His bidding-at His Presence the rocks melt and the hills dissolve-Sinai is altogether on a smoke. Andwhen He comes forth,dressed in the robes of salvation, there are no impossibilities with Him. He can win and conquer to your heart's best desire.Therefore be humble, but be not unbelieving.
By your leave, I shall now turn the principle of my text to an account in another way. Concerning yourselves, Friends, whatare the mercies which you want? If every man could write down his own peculiar prayer, what a variety we should have uponthe paper as it just went round the front row of thatgallery. If it went round to all, it would not be like Jeremiah's roll, written within and without with lamentations, butit would be filled within and without with many petitions! But now just imagine what your own case is and the case of othersand let us apply this principle toit-we are utterly unworthy to obtain the temporal or spiritual mercy which, it may be, we are now seeking-we may feel this,but in asking anything for ourselves we must still ask in faith in God-in His promise and in His Grace-and we shall prevail.
This blessed principle may be turned to all sorts of uses. Whatever your desire may be, only believe and it shall be grantedunto you if it is a desire in accordance with His will and in accordance with the promises of His Word-or else God's Wordis not true. Be humble about it, but do not bedoubtful about it. The case I have in my mind's eye is this- there is an unsaved soul here tonight. It happens to be onewhose character has been morally admirable. Nobody finds any fault with you, and, as I said before, you almost wish they could!You cannot feel, as some do,the terrors of the Lord. Your heart is not broken with conviction as the hearts of some are, but there is this desire init, "Lord, save me, or I perish!"
Now, dear Friend, it is well that you should feel that there is nothing in you to commend you to Christ. I am glad that youfeel this. Though before the eyes of men and even of your own parents there is nothing which can cause you a blush, I am gladthat you feel that before God you have nothingwhatever to boast of. I think I see you now-you are saying, "My Church goings, my Chapel goings, I do not trust in them-Iwould not give up attendance at the means of
Grace, but, Sir, I have no reliance upon all this. As for my Baptism, or my confirmation, or my taking the sacrament, I knowthat all this has nothing whatever in it which can save my soul. And though I love God's ordinances, yet I cannot trust inthem. Sir, I have fed the poor. I have taught theignorant. In my measure I would do anything to assist those who need my aid. But I do solemnly renounce all this as a groundof trust. I have nothing of which to glory."
Well now, dear Friend, there remains only one thing to give you perfect peace tonight! And may the Master give you that onething! Lift up this prayer to Him, "Say in a Word and I shall be made whole." Christ can do it! The offering is made. Theprecious blood is spilt. There is an almightyefficacy in it-He can put away your sin. Christ lives to intercede before the Throne and "is able also to save them to theuttermost that come unto God by Him." Doubt not, then, but now, trusting yourself with Jesus Christ, remember you are saved!
I am not now looking for the vilest of the vile. How many times have we said from this place that none are excluded? Nonebut those who exclude themselves. No mountains of sin nor height of vileness can shut a man out of Heaven if he believes inJesus-but just now we are after you. I know youare a numerous class. You are, in some respects, our dear Friends. And though not of us, you hover round us. If there isanything to be done for the cause of God, you are, perhaps, first in it. And yet you, yourselves, are not saved! I cannotbear the thought of your being castaway-to be so near the gates of Heaven and yet to be shut out after all! Why should it be? The voice speaks to you now-theSpirit of the living God speaks through that voice.
There is life in a look for you as well as for the chief of sinners! Without the strong convictions, without the terrors ofconscience, without a sense of any aggravated crimes-if you rest on Jesus, you are saved! There is no amount of sin specifiedthere. You are lost in theFall-wholly lost-even if you had no sin of your own. But your own actual sin has irretrievably ruined you apart from theGrace of Christ. You know this and to an extent you feel it. You will feel it all the more when you have believed in Jesus.But now the one message ofmercy is, "Believe and you shall live." I feel as if I cannot get at you. My soul will not go out as I desire and yet youknow that I am talking about you and about your case.
When we are firing our shots at sin we hardly ever strike you. You have become so used to our appeals that there seems nolikelihood of our getting at you. Oh, there are some of you whom I would not find fault with if I could. You make your motherglad with your industry. You make your sister'sheart rejoice at your many virtues. But yet there is one thing which you lack! Remember that when the strength of a chainis to be measured, it is measured at its one weakest link. If you have that one weak link, the vital union is snapped.
You may have anything and everything else, but you will be only a child of nature and not a living son! I am only tellingyou over and over Truths of God which you have known for many years. You will not dispute these things. And sometimes youfeel an earnestness about your eternal portion, though,like so many others, you are putting off and putting off. But death will not put off! The Judgment Day will not be postponedfor you. O may you be brought in now! What a happy Church we should be if such as you should be brought in. We rejoice overthe chief of sinners-we makethe place ring when the prodigals come in. But elder Brother, why will you not come in?
You who have not been standing all the day in the market idle, but only the first hour-say not, no man has hired you. O comein, that the house of mercy may be filled! God grant the desire of our hearts and to His name shall be the praise. Amen andAmen.