Sermon 603. Delivered On Sunday Morning, December 4, 1864,
BY C, H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For He says, I have heard You in a time accepted and in the day of salvation have I succored You: behold, nowis the acceptedtime; behold, nowis the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2.
WE frequently hear the question discussed as to which are the best times. Some are perpetually singing the praises of the"good old times," though, if one reads the pages of history it does not appear that the old times deserve any very specialpraise-unless oppression, ignorance, persecutionand abundant suffering deserve to be the theme of song! It is the common habit of the fathers, with tears in their eyes,to say, "The former days were better than these." But we have the wisdom of Solomon on our side when we tell them they donot enquire wisely concerning this. "Donot say, Why were the former days better than these? For you do not enquire wisely concerning this" (Eccl. 7:10).
There are others who are always boasting of the present eventful period. There was none like it-this is the era of inventionand of progress, the age of liberty and of light-when slavery must cast away her fetters and superstition must hide herselfamong her congenialassociates-the moles and bats. But I cannot perceive that this century is so much the age of gold as to need very enthusiasticpraises. Its greatest virtues are counterbalanced by greater sins. And the progress which has been made towards liberty hasscarcely kept pace withits advance towards licentiousness-the barriers have been broken down, it is true-but in some places the bulwarks have fallen,too.
Many there are with bright eyes looking forward to the future and their declaration is that the "good time is coming," ifwe but "wait a little longer"-if we will but look ahead, till this beast shall have been slain, that vial shall have beenpoured out and the other seal shall have beenbroken-then it is that we shall arrive at halcyon times! We agree with these watchful waiters-the age of gold is yet tocome. The Advent is the world's best and brightest hope, insomuch that every lover of his kind may importunately cry out,"Come quickly! Yes, comequickly, Lord Jesus!"
But there is one thought which should not leave us when talking about times and seasons, namely, that now, now, just now,this present flying moment-that second which is being recorded by the ticking of yonder clock-is the only time which we haveto work with! I can do nothing with thedays that are past. I can do nothing with the days future- though I reach out towards them-I cannot improve them. The pastand present are fields far beyond the reach of my culture. I can neither plow nor sow the future, nor can I prune and correctthe past. Forpractical purposes, the only time I have is that which is just now passing.
Did I say I had it? While I said I had it, it is gone like the meteor which dashes adown the sky, or the eagle which fliesafar, or the swift ships which disappear beyond the horizon! Time present is the only time I may ever have. Before any futureshall have become present, I may be merged ineternity. As far as I know, this day may be the end of my life's career and when yonder sun sinks to his rest, I may sinkto my rest also, so far as time is concerned. If there is more time allotted to me, yet it will never come to me in any otherguise and form than as timepresent. I call it future now, but when I get, say, to 1866, or 1880, it will be just like these moments-it will be to mepresent then-and consequently, for practical purposes, however much we may speculate upon the past or the future, the presentmoment is the only timewe have, may have, or ever can have!
And it becomes important that all our thoughts should be centered upon it if we would make our calling and election sure.Our text directs us to that solemn employment and it does so by a very telling argument. You perceive that our text is a quotation.How ought we to value the Old Testament! Ifinspired men of God, who spoke by the Holy Spirit quoted the Old Testament, how valuable must its bejeweled sentences be!The Apostle here quotes from the forty-ninth chapter of Isaiah, the eighth verse. In that passage the Lord God is speakingto the Messiah, speaking to our LordJesus Christ and He says to Him, "In an acceptable time have I heard You and in a day of salvation have I helped You."
The first part, then, of this verse is a quotation from Isaiah. The second part of the verse is Paul's commentary upon thepassage-"Behold, now is the accepted time." He takes his text from the Old Testament, but he gives us a New Testament sermonupon it. Let us try, if we can, to catch theApostle's meaning. When Paul was reading in Isaiah, he perceived that the Lord Jehovah had expressly said to him, "Whomman despises, to Him whom the nation abhors (and who is this but the Lord Jesus?) in an acceptable time have I heard You."
Jesus' sighs and tears and bloody sweat in the garden of Gethsemane did not fall unheeded. Like the blood of Abel, they criedfrom the ground and were heard acceptably above. An answer was given-this was plainly proved by the descent of the angel tostrengthen the Savior. So the propheticwords add, "In a time accepted and in the day of salvation have I succored You." The Apostle infers from this that inasmuchas God has accepted Christ, the representative of His people, He has thereby ushered in an era of acceptance. Acceptance givento the Savior is, in theApostle's view, acceptance given to sinners.
Inasmuch as Christ is heard-He prayed not for Himself, but for us-there is, therefore, an accepted time for us begun and commencedfrom the day when Christ went up to the tree, stretched His hands to the nails, bowed His head to death and said, "It is finished."Paraphrase the textthus-"I have heard Jesus, the Surety, in an acceptable time. In the day of salvation have I succored Him, the mighty Savior.And therefore to you, My people, to you, poor lost and wandering sinners, to you, now is the accepted time. Now is the dayof salvation."
If Christ had not died, there had never been a day of salvation. If Christ had not been heard and accepted, an accepted timecould never have come to us! But since He, man's representative, has obtained favor in the eyes of God and through His completework has forever settled that favor uponHimself, there is favor in the heart of God to those whom Christ represented-even to those transgressors for whom He makesintercession!
We shall now take the text, as God may help us, using it, first, to look at the now of Believers. Then, at the now of sinners.And after this taking wing from the text, we shall offer a few reflections upon now in Heaven. And close with a few solemnthoughts upon now in Hell.
I. First, then, NOW, WITH THE BELIEVER. With him, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." As a Believer,it is well for the Christian to live in the present. I say, as a Believer, for, alas, there is a temptation to make our faitha thing of the past. It is nearly sixteenyears since I first looked to the Crucified Redeemer and was lightened and my face was not ashamed. Is there a temptationin me to say the faith which I exercised in Christ in my youthful days has saved me, and therefore I am now in a differentposition from what I was then and neednot feel now as I did at first?
If there is such a temptation, let me shake it off as a man would shake off the deadly sleep of frozen climates. Let me, thismorning, feel myself to be still just what I was-a loathsome sinner, undeserving, ill-deserving, Hell-deserving. And whatthen? Why, let me, then, this morning standwhere I stood in the first moment of my salvation-at the foot of the Savior's Cross and look up and view the flowing ofHis soul-redeeming blood, with Divine assurance, knowing He has made my peace with God. At this moment, my dear Brothers andSisters, your proper standing isas a sinner saved by blood, looking up to those dear wounds from which your pardon streamed.
Have you had many virtues since then? Has the Grace of God led you on to add to your faith, courage? And to your courage,experience? And to your experience, brotherly kindness? And to brotherly kindness, charity? Yet, for all this, your safest,happiest, holiest, best position is at the foot ofthe Cross-with none of these things in your hand as the price of your salvation, but looking to your Redeemer-who alonehas found a ransom for you. Since the day of your espousals you have committed many sins-dare you look at them without trembling?How often havewe grieved our Lord? Our love to Him? Shall we dare call it love? Our faith in Him, how mixed with unbelief! Our zeal, howdashed with selfishness! Our humility, how stained with pride! Our patience, how spoiled with murmuring!
Our every good thing is marred and rendered worthless! What a crop of weeds the soil of our heart has produced! When we lookwithin we see, "The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy," and every unclean bird seeks a lodging place in our hearts asin a grove of vanities-what shall we do? Why,come just now with all these sins and wash once more in that fountain which has lost none of its fullness! And feel thepower of that precious blood which has not diminished one whit in its efficacy! I know the temptation is to climb to somehigher room, but let us be warned by thenonsuccess of the boasting Pharisee and taught by the justification of the humble publican, still to cry, "God be mercifulto me a sinner."
Beware of trying to live before God as a minister. Brother minister, this is poor living-to live officially, to go to thecloset or come into God's House merely as holding a certain profession! Oh, this is starving work! If your tendency is tolive as Church members, if not altogether asworldly men, rouse yourselves from it, I pray you, and confess with Paul, "And the life which I now live in the flesh Ilive by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
The proper place of a Christian is never to get one inch beyond this-a monument of Grace-a sinner saved by blood. I live inJesus, on Jesus, for Jesus, with Jesus and hope soon to be perfectly conformed to His likeness. Let me remember that if therecould be a moment in which my soulmight stand out of Christ-no longer leaning upon Him and no longer covered with His righteousness-that very moment I mustbe condemned! For there is no condemnation only to them that are in Christ Jesus. But there is a terrible condemnation againstevery soul that is outof Him.
Have you climbed so high that you have towered above the place of the poor thief? Come back again, Brother, for you have climbedto a dangerous altitude and maybe you shall find it a gallows where Haman was hanged and you shall hang with him. Or haveyou dived so deep in a sense of your owndepravity, that you have forgotten to rest on Jesus Christ as able, still, to save you? My Brother, look up from the holeof the pit, for in it there is no water and you will perish there with a grievous famine.
O, then, away with all but Jesus! None but Jesus-this must be our watchword at the gates of death and we must enter Heavenwith it! As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so must we walk in Him-He must be Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End,Author and Finisher, First and Last. AsBelievers, let us by God the Holy Spirit's Grace keep our trust just where it was at first-in Him whom God has set forthto be a Propitiation for our sins!
Take the word "now," again, and look at the Christian as a professor. Now you are in the House of God, my dear Friends andyou remember that you profess to be followers of Christ. Now, therefore, you sing in holy hymns of praise and join in solemnprayers to God as Christians should do in theworship of God. Tomorrow morning, some of you, perhaps, will be at Copenhagen Fields' Market, some of you at Newgate Market,others of you will be lighting the fire in your master's house, others seeing to your numerous families, others taking downthe shop shutters-will youthen remember, dear Friends, that now, where you are then -you are a Christian?
You are not to say, "I was a Christian yesterday," but "now, now I am not a Christian." A customer will come in. The temptationwill be, perhaps, to take more than you ought to do. Will you please remember, "Now I am a child of God"? not, "yesterday,when I was listening to Mr. Spurgeon at theTabernacle," but now! When you are in the market, there will be much to plague and vex you and perhaps you will think, "Icannot enjoy the Presence of God here." Oh, but my dear Brothers and Sisters, "now is the accepted time." Buying sheep, sellingbullocks, using the hammer,snipping with the scissors, working at the plow, tending your sheep-now, now, NOW is the day of salvation-you are stilla Christian-therefore act as a Christian!
But you are much plagued and vexed. Somebody teases you, things go wrong-what could be a better stop to that little risingpassion, what could keep the naughty spirit under control better than to remember-"Now, now I am a Christian-even now." Atrue Christian cannot shake off hischaracter. He is really what he is-he always must be a Christian. I heard the other day of a certain Scotch moderate minister,who being much provoked by a person in his parish, said, "If I were not a minister, I would give you a sound thrashing, Sir."And when he was furtherirritated, he took off his coat and said, "There is the minister-there he lies." He was then in his shirt sleeves-"Thereis the minister and I am only So-and-So and will give you your due." And he proceeded at once to give the man a sound thrashing.
It is just possible the man may have deserved it. That is not my point. But if a man can say, "There lies the minister," or,when you take off your coat tonight, if you can say, "There lies the member of the Church." If you, good women, when you takeoff your gowns, can say, as you hang up yourbest attire in the wardrobe, "There goes the Christian," then you have no religion at all, you have none whatever worthhaving! You have the faith of devils that will damn you, but not the faith of Christians that will save you!
It is not a religious coat, but a renewed heart-I pray you keep this at all times on your mind-"Now I am accepted. Now I amsaved-how can such a man as I do such a thing? How, then, can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Mordecai oncewore the king's robe, but hesoon took it off because he was not really a king. And thus do many act who wear the garb of religion in the House of God,but cast it off when they go home. When Lord Burleigh, Queen Elizabeth's counselor, reached his home he was so little pleasedwith the cares of State, thattaking off his robe, he threw it down, saying, "Lay there, Lord Chancellor." Ah, how irksome must some men's religion beto them and how cheerfully would they lay aside its restraints! But you who are really the Lord's, will, I trust, feel yourfaith to be your constant help andyour profession your perpetual honor. You will not, you cannot sin, because you are born of God.
Suppose a Brother has his pen in his hand and is going to write what we sometimes call a nasty letter-now suppose an angelshould whisper in his ear as he is writing, "Now, now, you are one of God's chosen. You have been washed in the precious bloodof Christ and now you profess to be amember of His body, a king and a priest unto God." Why, I think he would throw the pen away and tear the paper up. Or, justwhen you are about to proceed to extremities with some poor soul who asks your mercy, if you could remember that you are now,even now, an heir of Heaven, Ithink you would say, "Lord, give me Grace to act according to my profession and not to stain the character I have assumed."Let "now" stay upon your mind with regard to your profession and the duty which it brings.
Dear Friends, let me comfort your hearts by the remembrance that now, as a child of God, you are a possessor of present privileges.I do not know what your frame of mind may be this morning. You may have been very much tempted, you may feel, through somesickness of body, anything but cheerful. Butif you believe in Christ, remember now you are a son of God and though it does not yet appear what you shall be, yet whenHe shall appear, you shall be like He, for you shall see Him as He is.
At this very moment, I, a Believer in Christ, am completely pardoned-no spot of sin remains on me if I believe in Jesus. Whiteas the newly-fallen snow is every soul that has been washed in the precious blood. Think of this delightful Truth of God,desponding Christian, and let yourcountenance be sad no more! Your eye of faith is dim, your evidences are very slender, your graces are at a low ebb, butyou are completely forgiven, absolved and acquitted at this moment, if your soul rests upon the Rock of Ages! You are completelyjustified at this moment, despiteyour sins. Wearing your Savior's righteousness, you stand all beauteous in the eyes of God at this very moment-the wordsof Solomon to the spouse are the words of Christ to you though you are vexed with a thousand cares-"You are all fair My love:there is no spot inyou."
Covered with His righteousness and washed in His blood, even the pure and holy eyes of God can find no fault in you, and,as a consequence of this, you are this moment accepted! "He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither has He seen perversenessin Israel." "Who shall lay anything to the chargeof God's elect?" God does not look upon you with any anger. Though your heart may be struggling and tormented with sin,yet if you are resting upon God's Son, the love of God is flowing out to you in a stream which never can be stopped. Thinkof this sweet thought and let your soulbe filled with the perfume of it! Loved of God now, the object of the almighty affection of the Blessed One are you NOW.
No, more than this, you are not only accepted-you are in union with Christ now. Beloved Believer, can you realize it? Youare a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones! There is a vital union at this instant between you and the Lord ofGlory! The life-blood flows from Him, the Head,to you. And at this moment, whether in your worst state of feeling or your best, you are now one with Jesus, by eternalunion-ONE! I would to God we realized our present privileges! We are thinking about the Heaven that is to come and forgettingthe Heaven below. The first weshould do-but the second we should not leave undone. The men of Divine Grace find that the fruits of Paradise hang overthe wall and they begin to pluck and eat them before they pass the gates of pearl. Come, Christian, "Now is the accepted time;behold, now is the day ofsalvation." Since Jesus is accepted, so you are even now. Live upon your present privileges and be glad!
Remember that wherever there is present privilege there is also a present duty to be performed and so I touch a string whichI made to sound just now. Since "now is the accepted time" with sinners, now is the accepted time for you to work, O Christian.I know what you intend to do-you havevast plans and machinery. My Brother, I do not care what you mean to do tomorrow, but I do care about what you intend todo today. Oh, those daydreams of ours! We are always intending in a year or two's time to be such valorous defenders of thefaith, such good soldiers of Christ,such good winners of souls!
My dear Brothers and Sisters, what are you doing now? There flies that moment! What does it bear upon its wings? Another dropof the stream of time is passed away-what action of yours is reflected on its crystal surface? Are you doing anything now?"I do not know," says one, "I do not knowthat I can do anything just now. When the service is bro- ken up, I may get home and then try to do something." I wouldpray you remember that, "now is the accepted time," and therefore seek now to get your heart warm. And when the service isover, think you hear the now, and beginto speak to those in the pew, or on the way home talk to any person you may meet with. And then, tomorrow, do not say, "Sundayis over and I cannot do any good on the week-day," but think you hear the clarion sound of this word now!
You have a sister unsaved, pray for her now. You have a brother unconverted, write to him if you cannot speak to him and doit now. There is a court, a blind alley, which needs visiting. A dying man who needs instruction-do it now. Do you feel youhave a talent? Use it now. You think you willhave a better sphere in ten years' time? I pray you get a sphere now, for now is the day of salvation! I say again, I donot care what you do with your tomorrow. If you will but give God your now, your tomorrows will be all right. For duty, then,let the Christian prize the "now."
One more thought. The Christian remembers that now he may die. What is his prospect now? Let him take courage. If his Lordshould come now, he has his loins girt about and his lamp well trimmed and he is ready to enter into the supper. He will notbe overtaken as by a thief, but his Lord, when Hecomes, shall find him watching-and should death come before the Advent, then he can say, "Now shall I enter into my rest.Now shall I see the face of my Lord Jesus without a veil to hide Him and I shall be with Him supremely blest."
The glorious Advent or the bliss of Heaven is your prospect now! Not that you will go to Heaven if you die in twenty years'time-but if you die now-if the hand of death should take you in the street, or you should feel its numbing influence whileyou are in the pew! Now the celestialband shall bear you to the sublimities of Glory and introduce you to the Presence of Him whom you love! Now, Christian,rejoice, now labor, now live at the foot of the Savior's Cross!
II. May the Master give us power on the second point to deal with "NOW" AS IT RESPECTS THE SINNER. The great mischief of mostmen is that they procrastinate. It is not that they resolve to be damned, but that they resolve to be saved tomorrow. It isnot that they reject Christ forever, but thatthey reject Christ today. And truly they might as well reject Him forever, as continue perpetually to reject Him "now."
Sinner, let me put your "now" before you as a man. You must soon pass away and be forgotten, like the flowers that witheredin autumn and the insects which flitted through the summer hours. Now, then, is your time to think about eternity and to prepareyourself to meet your God. "See to yourbusiness first, James," said a careful father-"get a good trade and after that, look to your religion." There spoke a FOOLwho knew not that infinite Wisdom has commanded, "Seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these thingsshall be added unto you."Would you give God the tail end of your life? Take care lest you have no old age at all! For many candles are blown outas soon as lit.
Would you, as a lamb, be Satan's? And when you are withered and worn out, shall the lean skeleton of tottering weakness bebrought and laid upon the altar? Be it not so! Let your flower be plucked in the bud and put into the hand of Jesus. God grantyou Grace to seek Him in the days of your youth,for the promise is, "They that seek Me early shall find Me." As a man, I charge you, since there is only a "day of salvation"before the sun goes down and the black night of eternal ruin shall come upon you, lay hold upon the hope that is set beforeyou!
As a sinner, I also address you concerning this "now." Now is the day of salvation-you need it now. God is angry with younow. You are condemned already! It is not only the torment of Hell you have to dread, but if you have your senses, you wouldtremble at your present state. Now withoutGod. Now without hope. Now an alien from the commonwealth of Israel! Now dead in trespasses and sins. Now in danger of thewrath to come! You need a Savior this morning, young man! Young woman, I do not charge you to store up medicine against themaladies of twenty years fromnow-it is the sickness of today of which I would gladly have you cured this very morning! It is not to look after a dangerwhich shall press upon you when you grow old that I exhort you, but now you are on the brink of the precipice!
Now, therefore, you need to be saved! And here comes the beauty of my text-as a sinner under the Gospel, I pray you to remember-"Nowis the accepted time"! The most of my unconverted hearers do not believe this. I know what you are saying. You say, "I havehad a great many thoughtsabout religion." But why do you not believe in Christ now? "Well," you say, "I will endeavor to think seriously of it."But what will be the result of your thinking? After you have thought ever so much, do you imagine you will think yourselfinto salvation? If the Gospel commandwere, "Think and be saved," I would cheerfully allow you a month's thinking. But the command is, "Believe in the Lord JesusChrist," and, "Now is the accepted time."
"But, Sir, I do not think such things should be done in a hurry." A hurry? What does David say? "I made haste and delayednot to keep Your commandments." A hurry? When a man is on the edge of damnation and on the borders of the grave? Do not talkof hurry, Sir-when it is a case of life anddeath. Let us fly swift as a flash of lightning. "Well, but I do not feel prepared." Do you think that disobeying God willmake you more prepared? If you have lived a month without believing, you have lived a month in sin! Do you think when youhave sinned more, you will be betterprepared to obey the command which comes to you, "Believe now in the Lord Jesus Christ"? "Yes, but my heart feels so hard."
Dear Friend, do you think you will be able to soften it between this and next week, or next month, or next year? Is thereanything in the Word of God which leads you to believe that you can, in any way, soften your own heart? Is not this a mightywork of Grace? And when the text says, "Now is theaccepted time," does not this suppose that even if you have a hard heart, still it is true that NOW is the accepted time?"Well, but," says one, "I do not feel convicted enough." That is to say, dear Friend, you do not think that "now is the acceptedtime." You think that anothertime when you get more convicted will be the accepted time.
Here is a quarrel between God and you. He says "Now," you say, "No, no, it cannot be true! When I am more convicted, thenwill be the time." My dear Friend, are you not altogether mistaken? The likelihoods are that you never will be more convictedthan now, if you are brought now to think uponthese things. Your heart will certainly grow harder in the course of time-softer, never! I never heard the case of a manwhose heart was made softer by delay. "Yes, but I should like to get home and pray." My text does not say it will be the acceptedtime when you get home andpray. It says, "Now!" And as I find you are "now" in this pew, "now" is the accepted time. If you trust Christ now, youwill be ac-cepted-if now you are enabled to throw yourself simply into the hands of Christ-now is the accepted time betweenGod and you.
"Well," says another, "it does seem strange to think that I shall be saved this morning-there must be a little time occupiedin it, surely?" The text says, "Now is the accepted time," it does not say, "There is an accepted time lasting through a periodof weeks or months in which we pumpourselves up into a state of Grace." No! "Now," in a moment, acceptance is given. "But do you really mean it" says one,"that I, as I am, trusting Christ this morning, without any previous preparation whatever, shall be accepted?" My dear Friend,it is not what I mean-it iswhat the Scripture means. "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." The moment a sinner trusts inChrist, he is saved and if you trust Him now, it is the day of salvation to you!
Will you kindly look at that text-just open your Bibles now and look at it-you especially who are unconverted- whether myhearers or readers! It has two fingerposts to point to it-two beholds. "Behold, now is the accepted time." Now, stop and lookat that. Do you believe it?Say, "Yes," or "No." There is another "Behold." "Behold, now is the day of salvation." Do you believe that? I have askedyou to look at the text, because I want you to look in its face and, if you dare, say, "That is a lie"-no, you do not daresay that! Then if you do not dareto say so, away must go, in a single moment, all those excuses which you make about a hard heart, not being convicted enough,praying, reading, preparing, and so on.
Now, just as the clock ticks, not as an event to take place during a quarter of an hour, but in a moment the whole thing isdone-"Now is the day of salvation." And what do you say to this? Does God the Holy Spirit now lead your soul to say, "GraciousLord, I trust my soul with You now"? Oh,it is all done! Fly up to Heaven, angels! Bear the tidings! Tell the spirits who look down, anxiously watching for the spreadingkingdom of the Savior, that another heir of Glory is born, another prodigal has returned to his Father's house! Now! Now!Now! O God, let conquering Graceget the victory!
How my soul has longed over this text! And now when I get at it, I cannot handle it as I would. But, if I might, I would gladlytake some of you by the hand-think that I have your hand now-and I would put this to you! I may never have another opportunityof preaching this text in yourears, for you may be gone before there is another season to hear. "Will you be made whole?" "Can you believe?" "If you canbelieve, all things are possible to him that believes." Old Na-bal said to David, "There are many servants nowadays that breakaway every man from his master."A bad old fellow, but he spoke a good sentence there without knowing it. Are there not some here who will break away fromtheir old master?
Are there not some who would gladly be servants of Christ and no longer servants of Satan? O Souls, if God has made you willingto break with Satan, to lay hold on Christ, this is not a day in which Christ will deny you, for He has expressly said Hewill accept you now, for, "Now is the acceptedtime." But, Sir, I am a harlot steeped up to the throat in vice." Still, "Now is the accepted time." Ah, but I have growngray, Sir. I am seventy or eighty and have lived in sin all these years." Yes, but. "Now is the accepted time." Do you believeit or not? "Oh, I have refused theinvitation a thousand times over." Yes, but still, still the abundant Grace of God says, "Now, is the accepted time." Iwould to God some of you would decide this very morning, this very morning in your pew where you are now sitting. Now, O Spiritof the living God, waken those whomYou have chosen and set apart unto eternal life.
I have not time now to dwell on the other two points. We will merely, therefore, hint at them.
III. Now IN HEAVEN! Can you think of it? NOW in Heaven! They now delight in the society of Christ. They are now blest withcommunion with all the glorified spirits. They are now resting from their labors, their toils, their sufferings. They arenow full of joys, while with their golden harps theysing. They are just now satisfied with the favor and full of the goodness of the Lord. They are now knowing what they knewnot here, knowing even as they are known.
They are now more than conquerors, waving their palm branches. They are now safely shut in from all fear of danger. They arenow perfect, without taint of sin or remnant of corruption. They are now supremely blest. I merely point the finger wheremy wing cannot carry me and where my eyes cannotsee. Such are your friends who have departed. Your wife is there now. Your little infant children are there. Your brotheris there, your grandsire is there and we, if we should now die, blessed be the name of God, many of us should know what theyknow and taste what they enjoy in aninstant!
IV. But this is a dreary thought-Now IN HELL! Some of my hearers who listened to me last year and in the years that are past,are now-NOW-in Hell! Now, where no hope can come! Now, where no Gospel shall ever be preached! Now, where they bitterly regrettheir wasted Sabbaths anddespised opportunities! Now, where memory holds a dreadful reign, reminding them of all their sins! Now, "Where their wormdies not, and the fire is not quenched"-where they gnaw their fire-tormented tongues in vain! Now, where God's fury is manifestedto the full in Tophet'shideous fire!
Now, where devils, once their tempters, become their tormentors! Now, where sinners who kept jovial company, help to increasethe doleful misery of sighs and groans and weeping and gnashing of teeth! Now, accursed of God, accursed forever and ever!And within a moment, that may be the lot of everysinner here! Within the twinkling of an eye, there is not a man or woman among us out of Christ who may not know this. Onedrop of blood goes wrong-a thousand chances, as we say-may cause it and Hell is your portion.
Every anatomist knows that hundreds of times in an hour, through the internal economy of the human frame, our life is in danger.No, there is not a second in which it is not so. "Great God! On what a feeble thread hang everlasting things!"-
"Our life contains a thousand springs, And dies if one is gone. Strange that a harp of a thousand strings Should keep in tuneso long."
While we are in this danger, we are passing on to our doom-
"We nightly pitch our moving tent A day's march nearer home." But where is that home to be with you unconverted ones?
When the express trains first began to run to Scotland there was seen at the station, one evening, a gentleman tall and thin,whose cheek had the consumptive mark upon it. The porters asked him several questions about his luggage, of which there wasa good deal. And when he had been asked severaltimes by different persons, another came up and said, "Where are you going, Sir?" Being of short temper and in great haste,he said, "To Hell!" A servant of Christ passed by that moment and heard the answer. He sought to get in the same carriageand did so, but at the other end ofit.
Now this gentleman was talking very freely to different persons upon common topics and the man thought, "I will get a wordin if I can." So he joined in the general tenor of the conversation till they alighted at a refreshment station, when, takingthe opportunity, he said to the gentleman, "Whendo you expect to get to the end of your journey?" "Oh," said he, "I am going to cross at such-and-such a town by the boattonight and hope to get to my journey's end about twelve o'clock tomorrow morning."
The man said, "I think you misunderstand my question. You said when the porter asked you just now where you were going, thatyou were going to a very different place." "Ah, yes, I remember I did," said the gentleman, "but I am sometimes very hasty."The other said to him, "Was it true? Are yougoing to Hell? If so, when do you expect to get there?" And he began to talk to him about that sickness which he could seeso certainly in his cheeks and warned him that unless he sought another road and fled to Christ, the only Refuge, he wouldcertainly reach that dreadful end.
There are some in this place, who if they were labeled this morning as to where they are going, would have to be directed"to Hell." You know that this is the case! And when will you get to your journey's end? Some here may live another fifty years.I pray God that that question of mine may hauntyou and if it is never blessed to you before, may it be then-"When will you yet to your journey's end? When will you arrivein Hell?"
This morning some of you may, in your hearts, say, "I am journeying there, but, by the Grace of God, I have come to a deadhalt and not another inch will I go! Lord, make me ready to go to Heaven! Give me Grace now to trust the Savior that I maylive." May God bless these feeble words of mine toHis glory and your profit. Amen.