Sermon 615. Human Depravity And Divine Mercy
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 19, 1865, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And the Lord smelled a sweet savor. And the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground anymore for man's sake;for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again destroy anymore every thing living as I havedone."
PETER tells us that Noah's ark and Baptism are figures of salvation. He puts the two together as pictures of the way by whichwe are saved. Noah was not saved by the world's being gradually reformed and restored to its primitive innocence, but a sentenceof condemnation was pronounced and death,burial and resurrection ensued. Noah must go into the ark and become dead to the world. The floods must descend from Heavenand rise upward from their secret fountains beneath the earth. The ark must be submerged with many waters-here was burial.And then after a time Noah andhis family must come out into a totally new world of resurrection life.
It is the same in the figure of Baptism. The person baptized, if he is already dead with Christ, is buried-not purified andimproved-but buried beneath the waves. And when he rises he professes that he enjoys newness of life. Baptism is setting forthjust what Noah's ark setforth-that salvation is by death and burial. You must be dead to the world. The flesh must be dead with Christ, buried withChrist-not improved, not made better, but utterly put aside as unimprovable, as worthless, dead-a thing to be buried and tobe forgotten.
And we must come forth in resurrection life, feeling that above us there is a new Heaven and beneath us a new earth whererighteousness dwells, seeing that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. It would be very instructive to dwell upon each pointof the resemblance between Noah's deliverance andthe salvation of every elect soul. Noah enters into the ark-there is a time when we distinctly enter into Christ and becomeone with Him. Noah was shut in the ark so that he could never come out again till God should open the door. There is a timewhen every child of God isshut in-when faith and full assurance give him an evidence that he is indissolubly one with Christ Jesus. He is graspedin Christ's hand so that none can pluck him out. He is hidden in Christ's loins so that none can separate him from the loveof God.
Then comes the flood-there is a season in the Christian's experience when he discovers his own depravity. He is saved. Heis in the ark. He is, however, still a sinner, still the subject of inbred lusts. Suddenly all these corruptions break up!They beat upon his ark, they assail his faith,they endeavor, if possible, to drown his soul in sin. But he is not destroyed by them-for, by the grace of God, he is whereother men are not-he is where he cannot be drowned by sin. He is in Christ Jesus! He mounts as the floods deepen. The morehe feels the depth ofhis depravity, the more he admires the fullness of the atoning sacrifice! The more terrible the temptation, the more joyousis his consolation in Christ Jesus.
And so he rises in holy communion towards his God. Then comes the wind-typical of the breath of the sacred Spirit by whichthe floods of corruption are calmed and peace reigns within and the soul sings, "Therefore being justified by faith we havepeace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."Then the tops of the mountains appear-sanctification takes place upon a part of the man. There are some bright graces whichglisten out of the general flood of corruption. There are some points of his new-born nature which delight him with theirbeauty. His ark has groundedand settled- he no longer floats, so to speak, tossed about with a struggling faith and contending unbelief-he feels thatas Christ Jesus is forever seated firmly at the right hand of God, so he, in Christ Jesus, has entered into rest.
The ark grounded on the top of Ararat-so does the Believer's experience come to a settled condition. He is no more moved aboutwith fears and questions, but rejoices in hope of the Glory of God. He sends forth his thoughts in search after evidence ofhis complete salvation, and probably hesends out some of his own ignorant carnal expectations, just as Noah sent out the raven. These ignorant imaginations ofwhat the work of the Spirit is go forth and they never return because no unclean child of the old Adam can be a discernerof the new world. Then he sends out thedove-holy desires, earnest prayers go to and fro. By and by they come back with a token for good, some choice mercy fromthe hand of God-an olive branch of assured peace-and the Believer surely knows not only that he is in Christ, not only thathe is grounded inChrist, but that all the waters are calmed, all sin is gone, all danger removed, all death destroyed!
Then occurs a period where God opens the door. Christ had been as a sort of prison to the Christian up till then. The Crosshad been a burden. He did not rejoice in liberty. But God the Father now comes with the blessed Spirit and opens the doorand the Believer is fully at liberty in the newworld. The saved soul's first act is, like Noah, to build an altar unto God and, as a priest, to offer sacrifice, which,as it rises to Heaven, is accepted because it is a memorial of Christ. The Lord smells a sweat savor and though the believingman is still full of sin and fromhis youth up has an evil imagination, yet he hears the Covenant voice which says, "I will no more curse, I will no moredestroy."
He hears the Covenant promise which confirms forever the faithfulness of God and he rejoices to inherit, like Noah, a newworld where righteousness dwells. I do not lay any stress upon these interpretations, but I know the Apostle says concerningHagar and Sarah, "which things are an allegory." Ibelieve that the book of Genesis is a book of dispensa-tional Truth and if it were rightly read, not by the eye of curiosity,but by the heart of the student who has been made wise to see the deep things of God, very much of Divine and holy teachingwould be discoverable in it.
But now I come to the text itself. We have here, first, a very sad and painful fact, "the imagination of man's heart is evilfrom his youth." We have, secondly, God's most extraordinary reasoning, "I will not again curse the ground for man's sake,for the imagination of man's heart is evil." Then,thirdly, we have some inferences less extraordinary but practical to ourselves from the text.
I. To begin, then, with the text, we have here A MOST PAINFUL FACT that man's nature is incurable-"the imagination of man'sheart is evil from his youth." You will remember, beforethe flood, in the fifth verse of the sixth chapter it is written,"God saw that the wickedness of man was greatin the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only continually evil." After the flood it isjust the same. The description in the sixth chapter belonged to all the antediluvian race.
You might have hoped that after so terrible a judgment, when only a few-a picked and peculiar few-that is, eight, were savedby water, that then, as man began anew with a better stock, the old branches that were sere and rotten being cut away-thatnow the nature of man would beimproved. It is not one whit so. The same God who, looking at man, declared that his imagination was evil before the flood,pronounces the very same verdict upon them afterwards. Oh God! How hopeless is human nature! How impossible is it that thecarnal mind should be reconciled toGod! How needful is it that You should give us new hearts and right spirits, seeing that the old nature is so evil thateven the floods of Your judgments cannot cure it of its evil imaginations!
I would have you studiously notice the words used in both these passages-the antediluvian and the postdiluvian verdict ofGod. Look at the fifth verse of the sixth chapter-God saw not only outward sin that was great and multiplied and cried toHim for vengeance-He saw sin in thesons of men, the descendants of Cain. Worse still, He saw treachery and departure from God in the sons of the chosen ones,the sons of Seth had gone astray, also. The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair and the two races becamemingled so as to produce monstersof iniquity. But, worse than that, He saw that the thoughts of men's hearts were evil-man could not think without beingevil.
No, more! The substratum which underlies actual thought-unformed, unfashioned thought-the eggs, the embryos of thought, calledhere the imagination of the thought, the first conception, the infant motions of the soul-all these God found to be evil.But observe, He says they were,"only evil." Not one trace of good! No gold amidst the dross, no light amidst the darkness-they were "only evil." And thenHe adds that word "continually." What? Never any repentance? Never any yearning towards the right? No pure drops of holinessnow and then? No, never!
"Every imagination"-notice that word. The whole verse is most clear, a broom that sweeps man clean of all boasted good. "Everyimagination"-when he was at his best, when he stood at God's altar, when he tried to be right- even then his thoughts hadevil in them! Dr. Dick says,"All man's thoughts, all his desires, all his purposes are evil, expressly or by implication because the subject of themis avowedly sinful, or because they do not proceed from a holy principle and are not directed to a proper end. It is not occasionallythat the human soul is thusunder the influence of de- pravity. This is its habit and state. It seems impossible to construct a sentence which shouldmore distinctly express its total corruption than this."
Look at this other passage which is our text. You will see it gives a different phase of the same evil, but it does not abateone jot or tittle of it. It is still, "the imagination of man's heart." It is still the inward character, the core, the pith,the marrow of mankind which God is dealingwith. It is not the stream which comes from man that is foul but the fountain of man-the innermost source of the fountain!The imagination of his heart is evil-and we are told here what we are not told in the other text-that his thoughts are evilfrom his youth,that is to say, from his earliest childhood.
And it would not be evil from his childhood in every case if there were not certain seeds of evil sown before that and thereforewe can go further and in the words of Holy Scripture we can confess with sorrowful truthfulness-"Behold I was shapen in iniquity,and in sin did my mother conceiveme." From the very earliest imaginable period in which human nature exists it is a defiled, tainted thing and only worthyof God's utter abhorrence! And were it not that He smells a sweet savor in the sacrifice of Christ, He would say, as He didsay in the sixth chapter, "Herepented that He had made man on the earth and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom Ihave created from the face of the earth."
I have thus brought out this painful fact distinctly, I hope, before you. It is true both before and after the flood. If youwant any proof of its being true now turn to the scores of passages of Scripture which all prove it. I think, however, ifour time were limited, as it is this morning, Ishould prefer to mention the third chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans. It is the most sweeping description of the universalityof human depravity that could possibly have been penned. I will read from the ninth to the nineteenth verse-"What then? Arewe better than they?No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin as it is written, There isnone righteous, no, not one: there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.
"They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable. There is none that does good, no, not one. Theirthroat is an open sepulcher. With their tongues have they used deceit. The poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouthis full of cursing and bitterness: their feet areswift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fearof God before their eyes. Now we know that what things so ever the Law says, it says to them who are under the Law: that everymouth may be stopped and all theworld may become guilty before God."
Jonathan Edwards says upon this passage, "If the words which the Apostle uses here (Rom. 3:10-19) do not most fully and determinately signify a universality, no words ever used in the Bible, or elsewhere, are sufficientto do it. I might challenge any man to produce any one paragraph in theScripture, from the beginning to the end, where there is such a repetition and accumulation of terms so strongly and emphaticallyand carefully formulated to express the most perfect and absolutely universality, or any place to be compared to it. Whatinstance is there in theScripture, or indeed any other writing when the meaning is only the much greater part?
"Where this meaning is signified in such a manner by repeating such expressions, 'They are all,' 'they are all together,''every one,' 'all the world' joined to multiplied negative terms, to show the universality to be without exception? Saying,'There is no flesh,' 'there is none, there is none,there is none, there is none,' four times over. Besides the addition of, 'no, not one,' 'no, not one,' once and again. .. So that if this matter [universal depravity] is not here set forth plainly, expressly and fully, it must be because no wordscan do it. And it is not in thepower of language, or any manner of terms and phrases, however contrived and heaped one upon another, determinately to letus remember the confessions of God's people."
You never heard a saint on his knees yet tell the Lord that he had a good nature, that he did not need renewing. Saints, asthey grow in Divine Grace, are made to feel more and more acutely the evil of their old nature. You will find that those whoare most like Christ have the deepest knowledge oftheir own depravity and are most humble while they confess their sinfulness. Those men who know not their own hearts maybe able to boast, but that is simple ignorance, for if you will take down the biographies of any persons esteemed among usfor holiness and for knowledge in thethings of God, you will find them frequently crying out under a sense of inward carnality and sin.
If I may return to Scripture I cannot help quoting David, "Behold I was born in sin and shapen in iniquity." It is a mostvillainous thing that some persons try to slander David's mother and to suppose that there was something irregular about hisbirth which made him speak as he has done! Whereasthere cannot be the slightest imputation upon that admirable woman. David himself speaks of her with intense respect andsays, "Save the son of Your handmaid" as though he felt it no discredit to be the son of such a woman.
She was, doubtless, one of the excellent of the earth and yet, excellent as she was, it could not but be otherwise that insin her son was conceived. Let us not at all attempt to escape from the force of what David says. He is using no exaggeratedexpressions. There is no indication of hyperbolethroughout the whole Psalm. He is a broken-hearted man on his knees. He is confessing his own sin with Bathsheba and isnot likely either to bring any accusation against his own mother or to use exaggerated terms! Beloved it is so. We, all ofus, the best of us still have to bearabout with us the marks of the unclean thing from which we sprang.
Take Paul again-was there ever a man who knew more of what sanctity of nature means, or who was brought nearer to the imageof Christ? Yet he cries out, "Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death." He finds no joyuntil he can say, "I thank God through JesusChrist our Lord." Still I think we have another proof, namely, our own observation. We have lived long enough to observewith our own eyes and by our reading that sin is the universal disease of manhood. Is it not certain, according to observation,that man's heart is evil? Theyused to tell pretty tales about the charming innocence of men dwelling in the wooded bowers of primeval forests, untaintedby the vices of civilization, unpolluted by the inventions of commerce and art.
The woods of America were searched and no such sweet babes of grace were discovered. The ferocity and cruelty of the Indiansjustify my saying that they were hateful and hating one another. The blood-red tomahawk might have been emblazoned as theRedman's coat of arms and his eyes glaring withrevenge might be taken as the true index of his character. Travelers have penetrated of late into the center of Africa wherewe may expect to see nature in its primitive excellence and what is the report that is brought back to us? Why, it is naturein its primitive devilry, that isall!
Let such abominable tyrants as Messrs. Grant and Speke describe to us indicate to us what man is when he is left in his primevalstate, untainted by civilization-he is simply a greater devil-he is naked and he is not ashamed! In this, only, is he likeour unfallen parents. Again, trythe mildest races. There is the mild Hindu. You look into his gentle face and you cannot suppose him capable of cruelty.Trust well that mild Hindu, subdued by British arms so speedily and so cheerfully bowing his neck to the yoke. But you mayas well trust the sleek and cunningtiger from his jungle-let the story of the Sepoy rebellion of a few years ago show us the gentleness of the mild Hindu!
Live among the mild Hindu and if you dare read the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, remember that it is a decentaccount of what, in ordinary life, is practiced among the Hindu but which could not be more clearly described, because themouth of modesty would refuse to speak it and theears of modesty would tingle at the hearing of it. The life of the most respectable Hindu is tainted with vices too vileto mention. "Yes, but still," says one, "we must look at children, because sin may enter into us through education-let uslook at children."
Very well, I am willing to look at children and I am unwilling that anybody should say a word that is harsh or severe againstchildren's nature. But I will say that any man who declares children to be born perfect never was a father! If he would onlywatch his own child-not merely when thatchild has its toys around it and is pleased and happy, but when its little temper is ruffled-he would soon perceive evilnestling there. Your child without evil? You without eyes, you mean!! If you will only look and listen you will soon discover,if no other fault, this one,"they go astray from the womb, speaking lies."
One of the earliest vices of children which needs to be corrected with most constant and wise rigor is the tendency towardsfalsehood. It is all very pretty for people to talk about the innocence of children. But I would like them to have to keepone of the nursery schools like those at Manchester,where the children are left while the mothers are at work in the mills! They would soon discover in their pulling one another'shair, and scratching at one another's eyes, and such like pretty little diversions and innocent freaks, that they are notaltogether the sweet babes ofinnocence they are supposed to be!
"Well," says one, "still, human nature may have some spiritual good in it. Look at the men who make illustrious the page ofhistory-look at Socrates, for instance-religion did nothing for Socrates, but yet what a fine character he was." Who toldyou that? I will venture to say that thephilosopher's character would not bear description in a decent assembly. We know from undoubted authority that the purestphilosophers at times indulged in bestiality and filth. So- lon and Socrates were no exceptions. When Infidels hold up thesesages as being such patterns of whathuman nature might become, they have history dead against them. "The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. Thereis no soundness in it."
And this, be it remembered, is without an exception in the long history of humanity, say six thousand years. There is notone that has escaped contamination, not one who has come into the world clean, not one who dares go before his Maker's barand say, "Great God, I have never sinned, but havekept Your Law from my youth up."
II. Now I want you to notice, in the second place, a most extraordinary thing-when I noticed it yesterday I was surprisedand overwhelmed with grateful admiration-that is, GOD'S EXTRAORDINARY REASONING. Good reasoning, but most extraordinary. Hesays, "I will not again curse the groundanymore for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." Strange logic! In the sixth chapterHe said man was evil and therefore He destroyed him. In the eighth chapter He says man is evil from his youth and thereforeHe will not destroy him!
Strange reasoning! Strange reasoning!-to be accounted for by the little circumstance in the beginning of the verse, "the Lordsmelled a sweet savor." There was a sacrifice there-that makes all the difference! When God looks on sin apart from sacrifice,Justice says, "Destroy! Destroy!Smite! Curse! Destroy!" But when there is a sacrifice, God looks on sin with eyes of mercy and though Justice says, "Destroy,"He says, "No, I have punished My dear Son. I have punished Him and will spare the sinner." Mercy looks to see if she cannotfind some loophole, somethingthat she can make into an excuse why she may spare mankind.
Is then, natural depravity, an excuse for sin? Does God use it as such? No, Beloved-that our heart is vile is rather an aggravationof the vileness of our action than any excuse for it. Yet there is this one thing-we are born sinners and God sees there,I will say, a sort of loophole.Rightly, upon the terms of Justice, there is no conceivable reason why He should have mercy upon us. But Divine Grace makesand invents a reason. O may I be helped, while I try to show you where I think the ground of mercy lies! Devils fell separately-wehave every reason tobelieve that every fallen angel sinned on his own account and fell. And it is very likely that on this account there wasno possibility, as we know of, of their restoration-every separate fallen spirit was given up forever to chains and darknessand flames of fire.
But men! Men did not fall separately and individually. Our case is a somewhat different one from that of fallen angels. We,all of us, fell without our own consent, without having, in fact, any finger in it, actually. We fell federally in our covenanthead-it is in consequence of our fallingin Adam that our heart becomes evil from our youth. Now it looks to me as if God's mercy caught that. He seemed to say,"These My creatures have, according to my arrangement of federation, fallen representatively. Then I can save them representatively.They perished in one, Adam. Iwill save them in Another. They fell not by their own overt act, though, indeed, their own overt acts have added to thisand deserve My wrath, but their first fall was not through themselves. They are sinful from their very infancy. ThereforeHe says, "I will deliver them by Anotheras they fell by another."
I do not know whether I can make it clear. I do not think that this was any reason before the bar of Justice why God shouldsave us, for I believe that He might justly have condemned the whole race of Adam on account of Adam's sin and their own guilt.But I do think that this was a blessed loopholethrough which His mercy could, as it were, come fairly to the sons of men. "There," He says, "I made them not distinct individualsbut a race. They fell as a race, they shall rise as an elect race-'As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be madealive.' 'As by thetransgression of one many were made sinners, so by the righteousness of one shall many be made righteous.' "
I think you see the drift of it, then. Man's being sinful, is in the logic of justice, a reason for punishment. Man's beingsinful from his youth by inheritance from his federal head becomes, through mercy, a reason why Sovereign Grace should lightupon men while fallen angels are left to perishforever. Oh, I bless God that I did not fall first of all myself. I do bless the day, now, that I fell in Adam, for it maybe if I had never fallen in Adam I should have fallen in myself and then I must have been, like fallen angels, shut out foreverfrom the Presence of God and inthe flames of Hell! One of the old Divines used to say of Adam's sin, "Beata culpa"-"Happy fault!"
I dare not say that, but in one sense I will say, blessed Fall that renders it possible for me to rise! Blessed way of ruinwhich renders it possible for the blessed way of salvation to be brought about-salvation by Substitution! Salvation by Sacrifice!Salvation by a new Covenant Head, whofor us is offered up that God may smell a sweet savor and may deliver us! I hope nobody will misconstrue what I have saidand make out that I teach that human depravity is an excuse for sin-God forbid! It is only in the eyes of Divine Grace thatit becomes the door of mercy.
You know if your child has offended you, you do not want to chastise him and yet you feel he deserves it. How you do try,if you are a loving parent, to find some reason why you may let him go. There is no reason-you know that. If you deal withhim in terms of justice, there is no reason whyhaving sinned he should not smart for it. But you keep casting about for an excuse-perhaps it is his mother's birthday andyou let him off for that. Or else there was some little circumstance which softened the offense for which you may have himexcused.
I do not know whether the story is true, but it is said of Queen Victoria when she was just queen-just a girl-she was askedto sign a death warrant for a person who, by court martial, had been condemned to die. It is told that she said to the Duke,"Cannot you find any reason why thisman should be pardoned?" The Duke said, "No, it was a very great offense, he ought to be punished." "But was he a good soldier?"The Duke said he was a shamefully bad soldier, had always been noted as a bad soldier. "Well, cannot you invent for me anyreason?" "Well," he said, "Ihave every reason to believe from testimony that he was a good man as a man, although a bad soldier." "That will do," shesaid, and she wrote across the warrant, "pardoned"-not because the man deserved it-but because she wanted a reason for havingmercy.
So my God seems to look upon man and after He has looked him through and through and cannot see anything, at last He says,"He is evil from his youth," and he writes "Pardoned." He smells the sweet savor first and His heart is turned towards thepoor rebel. Then He turns to him with mercy andblesses him.
III. But now, thirdly, by your leave and patience, I shall have to lead you to a few inferences from the doctrine of the depravityof man. If the heart is so evil, then it is impossible for us to enter Heaven as we are. We cannot suppose that those holygates shall enclose those whose imaginationsand thoughts are evil, and evil continually. No, if that is the place into which nothing shall enter that defiles, thenno man being what he was in his first birth can ever stand there!
Another step. Then it is quite clear that if I am to enter Heaven no outwardreform will ever do, for if I wash my face, thatdoes not change my heart And if I give up all my outward sins and become outwardly what I ought to be, yet still, if it istrue that my heart is the villainous thing whichScripture says it is, then my outward reformation cannot touch that and I am still shut out of Heaven. If inside that cupand platter there is all this filthiness, I may cleanse the outside, but I have not touched that which will shut me out ofHeaven.
I go, then, a little farther and I observe that I must have a new nature-not new practice only, but a new nature- not newthoughts or new words, but a new nature so as to become a totally new man. And when I draw the inference, I have Scriptureto back me at once, for what does Jesussay to Nicodemus? "You must be born again." But what is to be born again? To my first birth, I owe all I am by nature. Imust get a secondbirth to which I am to owe all I am as I enter Heaven. Multitudes of persons have been saying, "What is Regeneration?"Here they have beenwriting hundreds of pamphlets and no two of them agree upon what Regeneration is except that they say that a man may beregenerated and not converted.
Here is an extraordinary thing! An unconverted man who is regenerated? One who is an enemy to God and yet he has in himselfa new nature? He has been born again and yet is not converted to God? What? A Regeneration that does not convert? A Regeneration,in fact, that leaves men just where they werebefore? But to every babe in Christ the word, "regenerate," is as plain as possible-he wants no definition, no description."To be born again? Why," he says, "I comprehend that it is to be made over again, a new creature in Christ Jesus! My firstbirth makes me acreature-my second birth makes me a newcreature and I become what I never was before."
I must remember that what is needed in me is not to bring out and develop what is good in me, for, according to God's Wordin the sixth of Genesis, there is nothing good, it is only evil. Grace does not enter to educate the germs of holiness withinme, for there is no germ of good in man atall-he is "evil continually"- and every imagination is "only evil." I must, then, die to sin! My old nature must be slain,it cannot be mended! It is too bad, too rotten to be patched up-that must die. By the death of Jesus it must be destroyed.It must be buriedwith Christ and I must rise in resurrection life to conformity with my Lord Jesus.
Well then, advancing one step further-It is clear if I must be this before I can enter Heaven that I cannot give myself anew nature. A crab tree cannot transform itself into an apple tree! If I am a wolf I cannot make myself a sheep. Water canrise to its own proper level, but it cannot gobeyond it without pressure. I must have, then, something worked in me more than I can work in myself and this, indeed, isgood Scriptural doctrine. "That which is born of the flesh"-what is it? When the flesh has done its very best what is it?-"Thatwhich is born of theflesh is flesh"-it is filthy to begin with and filth comes of it-only "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit: marvelnot that I said unto you you must be born again."
My soul must come under the hand of the Spirit. Just as a piece of clay is on the potter's wheel and is made to revolve andis touched by the fingers of the potter and molded into what he wishes it to be, so must I lie passively in the hands of theSpirit of God and He must work in me to will andto do of His own good pleasure. And then I shall begin to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, but never,never till then. I must have more than nature can give me, more than my mother gave me, more than my father gave me, morethan flesh and blood can produce underthe most favorable circumstances. I must have the Spirit of God from Heaven.
Then comes this inquiry, "Have I received it? What is the best evidence of it?" The best evidence of it is this-Am I restingupon Christ Jesus, alone, for salvation? You generally find on potters' vessels that there is a certain mark so that you canknow who made them. I want to know whetherI am a vessel fit for the Master's use, molded by His hands and fashioned by His Spirit. Now, every single vessel that comesout of God's hands has a Cross on it. Have you the Cross on you? Are you resting upon Christ's bloody Atonement made on Calvary?Is He to your soul your onerock of refuge- your one only hope? Can you say this morning-
"Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Your Cross I cling- Naked, come to You for dress; Helpless, look to You for Grace. Black, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Savior, or I die"?
Then, my Brothers and Sisters, you have a new heart and a right spirit! You are a new creature in Christ Jesus, for simplefaith in Christ is what the old Adam never could attain! A simple faith in Jesus is the great, sure mark of a work of theHoly Spirit in your soul by which you are made to be apartaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Do you believethat Jesus is the Christ? Do you take Him to be God's Anointed to you? Do you trust yourself to Him to plead for you, to workfor you, to fulfill the Lawfor you, to offer Atonement for you?
If so, if Jesus is the Christ to you-you are born of God. The Spirit which is in you now will drive out the old nature, slayit utterly, cut it up root and branch and you shall one day bear the image of the heavenly, even as you have till now bornethe image of the earthly. May God blessthese words of mine to your souls' good.
"Eternal Spirit, we confess And sing the wonders of Your Grace! Your power conveys our blessings down From God the Father and the Son. Enlightened by Your heavenly ray, Our shades and darkness turn to day. Your inward teachings make us know Our danger and our refuge, too. Your power and glory works within, And breaks the chains of reigning sin, Does our imperious lusts subdue, And forms our wretched hearts anew. The troubled conscience knows Your voice, Your cheering Words awake our joys; Your Words allay the stormy wind, And calm the surges of the mind."