Sermon 698. Seeing Is Not Believing, But Believing Is Seeing
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 1, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT CORNWALL ROAD CHAPEL, BAYSWATER.
"Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and fullof glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8,9.
A VERY formidable difficulty frequently besets earnest but uninstructed minds who are seeking the Savior. They do not findit difficult to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is a Savior, that He is mighty to save-their difficulty liesin getting at Him. They believe that themedicine will cure, but their question is, how shall they drink it? They are convinced that a touch of the hem of the Savior'sgarment would heal their diseases, but their question is how to touch. By what means shall they be brought into contact withChrist and a Savior become theSavior of their souls? The constant aim of the Gospel ministry should be to remove such difficulties as these out of theway of coming souls, and we shall try this morning, as God shall help us, to lift out that stone and fill up that miry placein the king's highway that some maytoday be enabled to come to Jesus-understanding what that coming means-and exercising it before they leave this house.
It is very common to meet with persons who say, "I wish that I had heard the Savior-actually heard Him speak. If I could havelistened to that matchless eloquence of which it is written, 'Never man spoke like this Man,' I should have been convinced,melted, led to penitence and inspired withfaith. I wish I could have heard Him pronounce those words, 'Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and Iwill give you rest.' I would have leaped from among the crowd, and I would have cried, 'Master, I come! Your invitation drawsme! Here I am, a heavy-laden sinner,give me rest.' "
You have also wished that you had been able literally to touch Him-to have put your finger into the print of the nails-andto have thrust your hand into His side. It seems to you that then you could have believed. If you might have been privilegedwith even the touch of the woman whodid but touch the hem of His garment, much more if you might have been privileged to lean your head upon His bosom withJohn, you would then have believed, you think, as a matter of course, and there would have been no sort of difficulty in theway of your salvation. You havesighed, "Oh that I could have heard, have touched, and have seen Him! These would have been three pearly gates through whichI might have come at Him. I could have reached Him then, if I might but have exercised my senses upon His blessed Person."
Your soul has lingered over the thought of seeing Him. You have especially wondered whether it would have been possible tohave seen Him upon Tabor with His garments glistening whiter than any fuller could have made them, and yet not have believed!You have thought it impossible! You have said, "IfI could have been among the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane to have seen the bloody sweat and marked the tokens ofthe drops of blood on the frosty ground. And if I could, with tearful eyes have seen Him at the scourging and the spitting.If I could have wondered and wept withMary at the foot of the Cross and seen the blood drop from His hands and feet, I should then have been saved! It would havebeen easy to believe if there had been something to see."
At first sight, indeed, this is a very plausible statement and seems as if there must be truth in it. But believe me, my dearHearer, there is none at all! And I may say of the Savior very much what Abraham said of Lazarus, You have the Gospels andthe Epistles, and you have the abiding Presence ofthe Holy Spirit. And if you believe not, neither would you have believed if you had been among the company who saw Jesus,touched Him and listened to His voice. It is a mistake, a great mistake-as I think a moment's reflection would show you-toconceive that contact withJesus through the senses would produce faith.
Mark the fact that out of the mass who did see Jesus, and who did hear Him, few, very few believed. The crowd which gatheredround the Crucifixion, which might seem to be the most moving scene in the story, were not bettered by what they saw. As themultitude gazed, instead of tears they yieldedlaughter! Instead of penitence they exhibited blasphemy! There they gathered, thousands of them of all sorts, the highestand the lowest, the intelligent and the uneducated, and all alike they spat the venom of their hatred upon the Crucified One.They cried, "If He is the Son ofGod, let Him come down from the Cross." Seeing was not believing, but disbelieving and hating!
They had beheld His miracles before His being nailed to the Cross. They had seen dead Lazarus come forth from the tomb andmarked those that had leprosy and other incurable diseases suddenly healed. They had, moreover, feasted upon the bread whichHe Himself had created for them, and yet theybelieved not. Why, then, do you conclude that you would have done so? There is nothing better in your heart than in thehearts of other men! Doubtless you would have seen all, and have been astonished and possibly affected-but the probabilitiesare that you would have remainedwhat you are now, if not something worse-an unbeliever, an unsaved one.
Besides, it should never be forgotten that those who did believe in Jesus Christ in His own day had to get out of and beyondthe sphere of the senses in order to believe. Let me show you what I mean. I am not certain that what they saw helped themto believe. I think it did the reverse. I grant youthat to see the holiness and the self-consecration of the Lord Jesus must have had a convincing influence upon gracioushearts. But then, let me ask you, would the sight of the deep poverty of the Man of Sorrows lead you to believe in His Godhead?Would an association with Him inHis rejection and dishonor lead you to believe in His celestial Glory?
Is it likely that if you had seen Him betrayed and dragged away to an ignominious doom that the shameful scene would havebeen an assistance to your faith? Would not your faith have had need to triumph over all that the eye beheld, and would itnot have been needful to use the soul's eyes ratherthan the poor optics of the body in order to see the Son of God in the Son of Man? How was the Messiah-ship, the Godhead,the Glory and the power of Christ to be seen by the eye? That which was seen was to a great extent hostile to faith, contradictoryto it, and faith, to beexercised, had to struggle with what it saw.
Does not the Prophet tell us that when we shall see Him there is no beauty that we should desire in Him? He is a root outof a dry ground. He is a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. That which was seen of the Christ was a difficulty in thematter of faith instead of being an assistance toit. Yet further, I say when they did believe they went beyond the mere evidence of sense. Even Thomas, in that celebratedinterview with Christ, when he made the utmost use of seeing, and touching, and handling, went much farther than mere sightcould conduct him. The putting of hisfinger into the print of the nails, and thrusting his hand into the side was convincing evidence that Christ had risen,but it does not seem to me to be evidence of what Thomas drew from it-namely, "My Lord and my God."
Here faith went beyond what the finger revealed. The eye and hand showed a wounded man-but faith could see Godhead and authority-andtherefore bowed and accepted the risen Man as being from now on her Lord and her God! Now a number of reflections of thiskind I think would go very farto show you that instead of it being certain that had you seen and heard and touched the Savior you would have believed,it is, on the contrary, quite certain that you might not have believed. And that if you had done so it would not have beenthe result of your seeing, but it wouldhave had to be accounted for on quite another ground, namely, that described by the Savior, when He said to Peter, "Blessedare you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you."
You would not have had faith in Christ as the result of sight. The Holy Spirit must have worked faith in you if you had receivedit. That same Spirit who is able and willing to give you faith today though now you see not the Savior! The question returns,"If I cannot come into contact with theSavior by seeing, by hearing, by touching, tell me how I may, for I do desire that virtue should come out of Him to me.I am sick. I would be healed. I am lost. I would be saved. But by what means can I attain unto that salvation which He cameupon earth to bestow?"
The answer is in the text and we shall bring it out by the following method-First, we will observe how we come into contactwith Jesus. Secondly, what virtue flows from that contact. And then, thirdly, what then?-What are the inferences from thisTruth of God?
I. To begin, then, upon this point-HOW DO WE COME INTO CONTACT WITH JESUS? The uppermost point of contact, the most apparentand visible in the Believer's life, is love. Observe-"Whom having not seen you love." The Apostle Peter twice puts in the"not seen," as if he felt that thoughhe, himself, had seen or had been with Jesus in the most private of His retirements, yet these Hebrew saints, strangersscattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, had not seen Jesus.
He dwells much on the fact because he knew that they were types and specimens of all succeeding Believers, of us among therest. Therefore, recording the fact that they had not seen Jesus, he describes them as loving Him whom they had not seen.Now then, dear Fiends, the first point of contact withChrist is love and I think I can show you that we can, no, that we do love Him whom we have not seen! Jesus Christ is IncarnateGod. He who fills all things and yet is not contained by all things that are made because He is greater than them all, condescendedto become bone of ourbone and flesh of our flesh.
He was born of the virgin and laid in the manger. In His flesh we have not seen Him. We might have gazed upon that Infant'sface and seen Him in the flesh and yet we might not have loved Him. But now, as our believing hearts think of Him as Incarnate,our minds go back to Bethlehem and Nazareth,and our recollection pictures Him as a Man among us men. And as our soul sees Him, first as an Infant of a span long, andthen suffering all our infirmities and tempted in all points like as we are-and when we reflect that He need not have sufferedso, but condescended to castaside His Glory wherein He counted it not robbery to be equal with God that He might be on a level with us-why, then, withoutseeing Him we love Him!
Blessed Man, blessed God, condescending to be Man for me! At the very thought of Your leaving the highest throne of Glory,I love You! Foxes have holes and the birds have nests, but You had not where to lay Your head, and yet You were Lord of All!My soul needs not to see You-she loves You!
We believe, moreover, that as a Man there were beauties in His Character of such a sort that it must have been impossible,spiritually, to appreciate them without loving Him. Now we never saw Him when He forgave His enemies, when He answered meeklythose who railed at Him. We never saw Him in allHis splendid life of disinterested philanthropy, nor do we regret that we did not. But when we read the story of His life,our heart pictures Him who went about doing good-and falling adoringly by faith at His feet, we say-Such a character is lovely!Such a Personcommands our hearts! And though we have not seen Him, yet the mental sight of His portrait as it is drawn by those fourmaster artists, the Evangelists, wins our affections and holds our souls fast.
It is true, too, that we never saw the Redeemer's grief. We never peered into that face, more marred than that of any man.We did not see Him in the garden in His agony, nor behold Him upon the Cross when the cry of, "Lama Sabacthani!" startledHeaven and earth. But we have mused upon all, and withthe spirit's eye have seen all. We need no great strength of imagination to think of Him until Ecce Homo-"Behold the Man!"-ringsas clear from the page of Scripture as though it came from Pilate himself.
We have realized, by meditation, the scars upon His back where the plowers made deep furrows. We have thought upon the crownof thorns and marked the ruby drops. We have considered Him staggering beneath His Cross along the Via Dolorosa. We have markedHim as His hands and feet were pierced. Wehave counted the purple drops and said, "Thus our sins were washed away." And though we have not seen Him, we do not needsight to make us love Him, for the very thought of Him-the contemplation of His intense agony for us who were His enemies-constrainsus to love Him.We are fastened to that Cross forever, crucified with Him-the nails which fasten us being the mighty love He bore us.
Now, Beloved, though we never saw Him dead and did not handle that sorely marred but blessed Body-that casket for awhile deprivedof its inestimable jewel, His sinless soul-yet when we think of Him as lying in the cold prison of the tomb, embalmed in spices,we cannot but shed tearswhich are only wiped away by the glorious truth of His Resurrection! So all the story through we feel that in each one ofthe positions the Savior commands from us as much love as if we had been present there to see Him.
No, perhaps the sight might have produced too much astonishment, if not terror, to have permitted us to indulge with freedomthe holy passion of consecrated love. Possibly we might have been so amazed, astounded-perhaps even alarmed when we saw thecircumstances which surrounded the Master'sgrief-that we might have forgotten Him in His surroundings. But now we can sit alone in our little upper room, or beneathsome silent shade in the calm retreat which so well agrees with prayer and praise-and there, all alone and quiet-we can bringthe Savior beforeour mind and feel that we love Him.
Now, my dear Hearer, I think you will see that this, although it does not seem to be so real a contact as touching Him, istruly, if you think of it, more real. I may see things and yet not truly perceive them. You may travel through a country withoutunderstanding it. You see a thousand things indaily life which do not sufficiently catch your mind for you really to grasp them. But here is a case in which, withoutthe exercise of sight, it is quite plainly within the range of our ability to get the very soul, and heart, and essence ofthe entire matter. And after all, it isnot the seeing-that must ever be external-it is the thinking upon the thing, the understanding, the being affected withit which is the real point of contact.
So, love to Christ becomes as real a means of union, as strong a bond to bind as ever sight and touch could be, and infinitelymore so. You may touch without realizing, but you cannot love a fiction, you cannot love a myth. Love makes the Savior realto the heart. When I preach sometimes, and mylove is cold, and my zeal is flagging, I talk about the Master as though He were but an historical person, someone thathad lived and gone. But when my heart is warm towards Him! Then I talk of Him as though He were in the pulpit with me! Asthough I could see Him! As though you,too, could see Him! As though I was speaking of our own familiar Friend who was here in the midst of us!
Beloved, every spiritual mind knows, and I need not remind him of it, that love realizes Christ and thus the contact whichlove makes between Christ and the soul is more real than any which the hands or the eyes could form.
But the text tells us of another point of contact-"Though now you do not see Him, yet believing." We are again reminded herethat we do not see, but we are assured of the possibility of believing in Him without sight. I must take you again to theSavior's life. Beloved, we did not see Himdie-that terrible misery, that fearful ignominy we never did behold. We did not sit still during the three hours of blackdarkness which covered all the land! We did not hear Him say, "I thirst," nor mark them as they thrust the sponge full ofvinegar up to His blessed lips!But we have believed on Him.
Ah, have I not, by faith, made real to myself the Savior on the Cross? Have I not, by faith, seen Him and cast myself thereand said, "Ah, Lord, I trust my whole eternity with You? My soul, my spirit, my body, everything that is mine trusts in You."I know, and you know who have believed Him, thatyou could not, if you saw Him, trust Him more really than you do now. His death is the unsupported pillar of your confidenceand the sole foundation of your hope. In Christ you have believed, and you know that your sins are forgiven, that His righteousnessis imputed to you, andthat you stand accepted in the Beloved.
This is not to you a matter of hope-it is a matter of firm conviction. If you perish you will perish at the foot of the Cross.But you are convinced you will never perish there. You have not seen, but you have believed. As to His Resurrection, also,you did not see Him when He rose early inthe morning from the tomb and the watchmen in terror fled far away. But you have believed in Him as risen. Have you notthus believed? We are persuaded that Jesus lives and we derive consolation from the fact. We believe concerning Him that deathhas no more dominion over Him.Immortal, He cannot die again. The lamb of the Jewish Passover was slain every year, but He, our Lamb, lives no more todie for He has accomplished the work of His death and now lives to carry on the work of His great after-life.
We trust Him! Why not? What more reason for trust could I have if I had seen Him rise than I have now, when I believe thefact? I cast myself upon the Truth of God that my Lord is risen! I believe that because He lives I shall also live! And itis possible to believe this as firmly as though we sawit! Beloved, at this moment Christ is in Heaven pleading for us! We cannot see the ephod and the breastplate. We cannothear the tones of majestic love in which our great High Priest pleads before His Father's Throne! But we believe that He intercedessuccessfully for us.
We choose Him to be our Advocate in every case of sore distress, in every case of grievous sin! We believe that because Heis at the Father's right hand He is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by Him and we leave our suit withHim in perfect confidence. Believing in Jesusbrings us into as real a contact with Him as seeing Him could possibly produce, for you cannot believe in what you thinkto be fiction. You cannot trust your soul and your best and most weighty interests with a mere myth. Your faith must be convincedof Christ and must have hadcommunion with Him, or else it would not be faith at all! So you see, dear Friends, both love and faith are two clear pointsof contact. These are the two bonds which unite us to the Savior.
While some go about teaching that there is a connection with Jesus brought about by infant sprinkling and by confirmation-bywhat certain gentlemen are pleased to call "the blessed Sacraments"-we solemnly testify in the name of Him that lives andwas dead, that the true way of coming toJesus lies in faith and love. And without these you may baptize and confirm and give sacraments ad nauseam-but you havenot approached the Lord! The true Christ is not there at the font, nor there with the lawn sleeve, nor there at the altar,nor with your acolytes and otherperformers-He is to be found where the heart longs after Him, where the soul trusts Him, where the spirit loves Him. Eventhe two Scriptural ordinances are but in the outer court and are nothing of themselves. The true keepers of the door of Jesus'house are faith and love.
I read the other day of a certain renovated Puseyite synagogue having a path up to it called the Via Crucis. I must confessto having had but slender acquaintance with the play-things and nursery games of that sect. I have no idea of what is meantby their Via Crucis, but this I know, the true ViaCrucis, or Way of the Cross, is to believe and to love. We were told not long ago by an Anglican priest that the historyof the spiritual life was portrayed in the edifice in which he officiated. He began with regeneration in the font, and ledhis hearers by easy stages till heperfected them in the chancel or up in the steeple, I cannot remember which!
All that may sound very pretty-I think it shamelessly immature! To me it looks like a return to the absurd superstitions ofthe Dark Ages. I have no more reverence for their genuflections, performances, and theatrics than for the incantations ofan old hag who pretends to be a witch! There isnothing manly, much less Divine, in the new-fangled
Romanism! God's religion is spiritual- theirs is carnal and sensuous. "The day comes, and now is, when they that worship theFather must worship Him in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him."
For spiritual men there is not needed incense, banners, wide-sleeved garments, or crosses, nor any external thing- only themental action of the inward nature exercised upon the Lord Jesus in love and trust. How simple this is! There is a story toldof a certain farmer in France who, in thedays of bad farming, produced wonderful crops from his ground. All his neighbors believed him to be addicted to witchcraftand when they summoned him for the practice of it, he brought up before the court his two sturdy lads, his oxen, and his plows.He said, "These are theimplements of my witchcraft! I simply work hard."
Now I fear there are many who, if asked what is the way of their coming into union with Christ, have all sorts of mysterious,laborious inventions. But we bring before you nothing but just these-trust and love! These are the instruments of our religion.Like the Apostles, we need no wagon tocarry with us our altar, our vestments and other paraphernalia-we preach the Gospel and exhort men to faith and love-wehave no need of drapery, architecture, rubrics and ceremonies. Trust and love! These two things brining the spirit into contactwith the Lord JesusChrist! And we are prepared against all the world to hold these two things and believe that were those other things to fail,and turn out to be a delusion and a lie, these will succeed to the salvation of the soul. "Whom having not seen you love.Though now you do not see Him, yetbelieving, you rejoice."
Still, the point is that carnal people will imagine that if there could be something to touch or smell they should get on,but mere believing and loving are too hard for them. Yet such thought is not reasonable and I can show you why. Occasionallyone meets with an illiterate working man who willsay to those whose occupation is mental, "I work hard for my living," insinuating that the mind-worker does not work atall. Yet I ask any man who is engaged in a mental pursuit whether he does not know that mental work is quite as real work-andsome of us think moreso-as working with your hands. The thing is mental, but is none the less real.
An illiterate man cannot see that it is work, but he who is capable of mental labor soon feels the reality of it. Just transferthat thought. Coming into contact with Christ by touch looks to most people to be most real because their animal nature isuppermost. Coming into contact with Jesus by thespirit seems to them to be unreal only because they know nothing of spiritual things. Thoughtless persons think that mentalpain is nothing. Mere animal men will often say, "I can understand the headache, I can understand the pain of having a legcut off." But the pain of injuredaffection, or of receiving ingratitude from a trusted friend-this is by the rough mind thought to be no pain at all. "Oh,"he says, "I could put up with that."
But I ask you who have minds, Is there any pain more real than mental pain? Is it not the sharpest when the iron enters intothe soul? Just so the mental operation-for it is a mental operation-of coming into contact with Christ by loving Him and trustingHim is the most real thing inall the world! And no one will think it unreal who has once exercised it. So then, poor seeking Sinner, it comes to this-youhave not to go anywhere, or say anything, or do anything-but, sitting where you are, if you can trust the Son of God withyour soul, if you canlove the altogether Lovely One, the thing is done!
There is life in a look, we often say, but this is the kind of look-the look is loving and trusting-they go together, theyare born at the same time. We love those we trust, and we trust those we love, and if you love and trust Jesus you are saved.
II. I must have your patient attention to the second part of the subject-WHAT VIRTUE IS THIS WHICH FLOWS FROM HIM? When asoul has touched Him by love and faith, what virtue comes? The Apostle answers, "Whom having not seen you love. Though nowyou do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoicewith joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." The firstresult of trusting and loving Christ is joy, and joy of a most singular, remarkable kind. It is far above all common joy.It is spoken of as"inexpressible"-"joy inexpressible."
Now earth-born joys can be told to the full. One man can tell his joy to his fellow and his fellow understands, for he isearth-born, too. But spirit-born joys cannot be told because we have not yet received a spiritual language. I suppose thatis the language reserved for Heaven where spiritualminds shall talk to spiritual minds without being confined to the poor poverty-stricken words of earth so necessary to uswhile yet in the body. The joy is inexpressible because you cannot possibly describe its true essence. If a man should tryto tell all spiritual joys to hisfellow he would feel silenced like Paul, and feel that he had heard things which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Holy Rutherford, in his letters, has gone far to picture to us what the Christian's joy is, and so has Solomon in the Bookof the Song. But carnal men cannot comprehend Rutherford, and as to the Canticles, there is no book in the Bible which staggersa worldling so much as the Song. He says, "Oh,it is a mere love tale." Of course it is to you, O carnal Reader, but the reason is in yourself. It was not possible forSolomon to put into language the experience of Divine Love, except by the use of metaphors. He had to describe love as wehave to describe God, speaking after themanner of men, and so he must speak after a natural sort and therefore the golden Canticle looks as if it were an earthlynuptial ode, whereas it is so high that the uninstructed cannot attain to it.
The joy of Believers is unspeakable because there is no telling it. Earthly joy is often exaggerated. You can describe itin words too flatteringly expressive, but you cannot act thus with a Christian's joy. His joy is one that speaks better throughhis eyes than his lips! It makes his countenanceglow with delight. I have seen men's faces lit up with Heaven's sunlight when the joy of the Lord has been shed abroad intheir hearts. The very people who a day ago looked dull and heavy look as if they could dance for mirth because they havefound the Savior and their soul is atpeace through Him.
The Apostle adds that it is full of glory. Many sensual joys are full of shame-a man with a conscience dares not tell themto his fellows. The joys of sense are oftentimes unfit to be whispered in the dark, and the joys of the world are mostly tooselfish to be boasted of. The joy of makingmoney is not full of glory, nor is the joy of killing one's fellows in battle. There is no joy like that of the Christian,for he dares to speak of it everywhere, in every company. We will tell the devils in Hell that we are not ashamed to gloryin the Cross and we will tellunbelievers upon earth the same!
We will dare to say it to the teeth of the worst of men that we have a joy they know nothing about. And in Heaven we shallnot be ashamed to tell to principalities and powers of those draughts of love which we have been made to drink from the wellof Christ Jesus-in whom, though now we seeHim not-yet believing, we rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory! Why is this joy of the Christian so inexpressibleand full of glory? I think it is because it is so altogether Divine. It is God's own joy! It is Christ's own joy! Can youguess what the joy of God is?No, perhaps not-but every Christian has within himself a portion of the joy of God, for God joys in Christ and glorifiesHimself in Jesus-and so do we, also, joy and glory in Him whom having not seen, we love.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, it is for you to prove to the world by your daily walk and conversation thatit is so! For my own part, I will bear my own personal witness that I never knew the meaning of that little word "joy" tillI knew Christ. I knew the childish glee of boyhood.I understand, alas, something of the frothy joy upon the cup of sin, but let me say-I am speaking to those of my own ageespecially-if I had to die like a dog and there was no hereafter. If I had nothing for my faith but the happiness which ityields me in this life, Iwould be a Christian sooner than I would be any conceivable form of existence.
I would sooner be a believer in Jesus in the depth of poverty, racked with bodily suffering and oppressed with the greatestpossible persecution, than I would be without faith in Christ! I would rather be a believer in Christ Jesus than have thenoblest possible position with the greatest possibleearthly enjoyments-for there is nothing at all like the joy inexpressible and full of glory! Sometimes, when it is flood-tidewith us, our joy is so great that we think we shall die- our joy is too strong for our frail body! And even when it is ebb-tidewith us, yet wehave a peace of God which passes all understanding-a peace which the world cannot give, and which, thank God-it cannot,cannot take away!
Now, Brethren, many of you know this, and you know also that this joy inexpressible and full of glory is not dependent uponcircumstances. You have had great success-this joy inexpressible and full of glory was not increased by that success-you rathertrembled lest you should sinthrough being in high places. And you who have had great trouble-this joy inexpressible has not been diminished by it. Youhave felt that God was with you and that all things would work together for your good! You have wept over your children whenthey have died-amother's grief has filled the eyes with tears-but still the joy inexpressible has cheered the heart.
You have lost property and been wrongfully despoiled of reputation, but the joy inexpressible has been unaffected by all this.You have done with your crown jewels what many of the princes on the Continent have done with theirs-you have sent them wherethey are safe-you have put yourtreasure in the better land on the other side of Jordan, in the islands of the blessed, in the land of the hereafter whereJesus is. The Apostle mentions another blessing received by loving and trusting Christ. He says, "receiving the end of yourfaith, even the salvation of yoursouls."
Every man who trusts and loves Christ is saved. The common idea is that perhaps we shall get saved when we die. I know nothingof such a salvation! True salvation saves NOW. The Apostle, when he writes to Believers, always speaks to them as personswho are saved, not who shall be, but are. Whensalvation is once done, it is done forever! If you are saved, you are saved-you will be never lost. Those who trust Jesusand love Him are saved. But it will be said, "How is that a matter of fact?"
Well, it is a matter of fact two ways. First, they are conscious that they are saved from the guilt of sin. Of this they areconscious in themselves. The guilt of sin, when it is on a man's conscience, is unmistakably there, for it weighs him downto such an extent that he cannot doubt it. Well dosome of us recollect when we could not even sleep by night much less have comfort by day because sin was on our conscience.We wished sometimes, as John Bunyan says, that we had been made frogs or snakes rather than men, for sin on the consciencemakes manhood odious and life itselfundesirable. But when we believed and loved Jesus we knew that our guilt was taken off the conscience.
You say, "How did you know?" We knew just as we knew when it was on. If a man has a burden on his back, even though he hasno eyes, he can feel it. And as soon as it is gone, though he has no eyes he can feel that it is removed. So was it with us-whenwe believed in Jesus, our sin was allgone! Our feelings were altogether different from what they were-
"Now, oh joy my sin is pardoned, Now I can and do believe."
We began to sing for very joy of heart! The removal of guilt is no fiction. It will be said it is a mere brain-sick enthusiasm.Have you ever tried it? If you have not, you are not fit to judge about it! But if you have experienced it you will say ofit, "Oh if it is enthusiasm, blessed enthusiasm!Let me never be rid of it! If this is a dream it is so Divine that it should be true!" When we trusted Jesus, though weused no forms and ceremonies, we received the salvation of our souls! Here is a point more tangible still-they who trust andlove Christ are saved from thepower of sin-and this is a practical point to be seen even by the eye.
For instance, a man with a horrid temper-almost insane from his anger-was led to trust Jesus and to love Him. There may betraces of that old temper in the man still, but I will defy you to find a gentler or more patient soul than he is now! Thatsame man whose fist was so soon doubledand whose eye so rapidly flashed fire will now hear a vast amount of teasing and look on and feel, "If I were what I oncewas I would join in this row, but now I pity and forgive." I can picture you another. There was a man who spent every nightin the beer house or in worse places.His house was a Hell- his wife and family afraid to see him-the man a drunkard, a fornicator and everything that was foul.But he came to believe and trust Christ.
Now it is a matter of fact that he is a new man through believing. Ask his wife and she says, "Never was there such a change!Our home is happy, our children happy! We have happy mornings and evenings for my husband prays! That is not all, Sir-my husbandis such a heavenly-minded man that youcould no more believe him to be the same man than you could believe that a lamb was once a lion." Ah, the man has receivedthe salvation of his soul! How did he receive it? Did we baptize a new heart into him? Did we confirm him into morality? Didwe perfume him, intone him andconfess him into holiness? No! No! He trusts Jesus and loves Him, and all is done! He received the salvation of his soulby these simple means.
Now every man who has trusted and loved Jesus becomes a living witness to this. The vital power of religion is perceived byeach man in himself. If you have a faith which has left you what you used to be, throw your faith to the dogs! If you havea faith in Christ which does not make you desireholiness it is a delusion that will drag you to the bottomless pit! Only the faith that works by love and purifies the soulis genuine. True trust in Jesus and love to Him always does this-it makes the man receive the salvation of his soul from theenslavement of his baserpowers, delivers him from the dominion of Satan and of sin and he becomes at once a sinner saved by Divine Grace-and allthis by the two points of contact you cannot see-trusting and believing.
III. I must not stop longer, but finish by a few words upon the third point. WHAT FOLLOWS, THEN, FROM THE
WHOLE OF THIS? It follows, in the first place, that a state of joy and salvation is the fitting, proper, and expected conditionof every believer in Christ. If you are a believer in Jesus, and I see you sorrowing, what must I say? I do not mean sorrowingas the effect of mere Providentialarrangements-of course we sorrow as other men-and Jesus wept. I mean this-if I see you constantly without joy inexpressible-ifI mark that all your joy and hope are gone, what must I say?
I begin to doubt whether you can be a Believer. And if I may not raise that question, and if it is certain that you have faithand love to Christ, I must say to you, my dear Friend, that you have suspended their action and therefore you have suspendedthe enjoyment of their result. Go back again towhere you were! Go and stand at the foot of the Cross and trust Christ and love Him-and your joy will return. I am sureit will. I have tried it-I have tried it hundreds of times! I am unbelieving by constitution, frequently desponding, veryoften depressed. But I havenever been in the depths of despondency without almost immediately coming up from them as soon as ever I have thought ofHim, and my soul has rested upon Him and leaned on Him.
There is another inference to be drawn from my subject, and that is to the seeking soul. If you want comfort this morning,go to Christ. But I have here the old answer again-I have heard it scores of times-"Sir, you say come to
Christ. How can I come? If Jesus Christ were at New York I should know how to get at Him. I should understand what He meantby 'come.' If there were some appointed place in London where every soul might go, I could understand it." Yes, that is tosay, you could understand the mere carnal act ofcoming. But this coming is a spiritual thing and it is just as real as if it were carnal. You come to Christ by thinkingof Him, trusting Him, and loving Him though you have not seen Him.
I say, then, come to Christ! Trust Him and love Him! And whatever your infirmities and spiritual difficulties, you shall getover them all-for if Christ undertakes to get you through them He will do it. He is mighty to save! But you say, "I cannotbelieve, 'Faith is the gift of God.' " I knowit is, but perhaps you have it already. Dead men cannot believe, but the quickened can. The Son of God bleeds for sinners!The Son of God, on the tree, offers an Atonement for human sin! Can you trust Him? You answer, "I do trust Him." Then younot only have the power to do it, butyou are doing it!
If you are convinced that Jesus is able to save you, and are willing to trust Him, you certainly can trust Him for inabilitylies in the will, and as your will is now right, all your inability is gone. The power which the Holy Spirit gives is spiritual-apower which removes our naturalopposition to Jesus-and when this is removed the power is given! If you do now trust Christ, fall before Him and say, "Savior,God, deliver me! By Your life and by Your death. By Your griefs and passion. By Your resurrection and Your pleading at YourFather's Throne, deliverme! I trust You to deliver me. I cast myself upon You!"
If you do this you are saved-you are saved now-you have no sin in God's book. Every sin is blotted out and therefore beingjustified by faith, you shall have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. But you reply, "My sins are very great."Yes, but however great your sin it mattersnot. The same hand which can receipt a little bill can receipt a great one-it takes no more when the money is paid. Christhas paid all the debts of those that trust Him and He can readily forgive you. "Come now and let us reason together, saidthe Lord. Though your sins areas scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." "Yes, but," says another,"it is my propensity to sin that I am afraid of. How shall I ever break the neck of my corruptions?"
You will never do it, but He will! Do you not remember that when they pierced His side there flowed blood-that was for pardon.And there flowed water-what was that for? That was for cleansing. He will be sin's double cure. Is it some sin or some lustthat you would conquer, or an angrydisposition? Take it to Him! Those vipers die at the sight of Christ! There is no form of sinfulness to which you are captivewhich Christ cannot remove! You must give them up. Remember there is no going to Heaven and keeping your sins-you must givethem all up. But then youare not to give them up in your own strength. You shall receive a strength which shall make you more than a man-you shallbe a man with God living in you-for the Holy Spirit dwells in us! We are temples of God.
When God dwells in the temple He can purge out a great deal which we cannot purge out. He can make us clean though otherwisewe must have remained impure. "Still," says another, "I have such a need of tenderness this morning. I have not thought aboutthese things. I have lived a careless giddylife-must I not give some week or month or two to the consideration of these things-and then come to Christ? Must I notgo home and humble myself before God and then believe and love?"
My dear Hearer, do what you will after trusting, but trusting is the immediate remedy this morning! Now is the accepted time!Now is the day of salvation! May you and I come to trust and love-and we shall soon prove to ourselves, if we cannot proveit to others-that there is a power andvitality in faith and love not to be found in all the performances of the priests who are laboring to bring our nation backto the midnight of Romanism!