Sermon 713. Soul Murder-Who Is Guilty?
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 30, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness."Psalm 51:14.
DAVID had been grossly guilty towards his faithful and veteran friend Uriah. He had given instructions that Uriah should beled into the hottest part of the fight and then suddenly deserted so that he might be struck by the sword of the Syrians,and might appear to have died in the natural order ofbattle. Whereas, of course, his death was a cowardly murder, planned and devised by the very man who ought to have beenhis protector.
It is pleasing to observe in David's penitence that he plainly names his sin. He does not call it manslaughter. He does notspeak of it as an imprudence by which an unfortunate accident occurred to a worthy man, but he calls it by its true name,bloodshed. It is true he did not actually slay thehusband of Bathsheba-it was by another hand that Uriah died. But still it was planned in David's heart that Uriah shouldbe slain, and he was before the Lord the murderer of Uriah. He calls a spade a spade, and names his crime as bloodshed.
Let us learn in our confessions to be honest with God. Do not give fair names to foul sins. Call them what you will, theywill smell no sweeter. What God sees them to be, that you must labor to feel them to be, and with all openness of heart acknowledgetheir true character. Observe, too, thatDavid not only gives it the right name, but is evidently oppressed with a sense of the heinousness of his sin. It is easyto use words, but it is difficult to feel their meaning. He prays like one who is consciously guilty. The blood of Uriah wasnow not on his hands, alone, but onhis conscience. The bloody hand was before him continually and the impossibility to purge away the stain, except by thesacrificial hyssop, made David's heart lay low in the dust.
The fifty-first Psalm is the photograph of a contrite spirit. Oh, let us seek after the like brokenness of heart, for howeverexcellent our words may be, yet if the heart is not conscious of the blackness and Hell-deservingness of sin, we cannot expectto find mercy with the Judge of all the earth!Possibly, my Brethren, you will think that I ought not to use such a text as this in addressing you, for there are no murderershere. "A sermon from this text to someone who had strangled another, or fired the deadly shot through his enemy's heart mightbe well enough, but are thereany here," says one, "that are guilty of bloodshed?"
Yes, Friend. The preacher is guilty, at any rate, if no one else is! And he believes that there is not a person here who willbe able to go out of this house unconvicted of sin in this respect, if God the Holy Spirit is but here, first, to enable thepreacher to lay the charge clearly, andsecondly, to enable your conscience honestly to take that home which really belongs to you. There are other ways of beingguilty of bloodshed besides stabbing with a knife, or poisoning with a deadly drug. There is another kind of murder far lessdetested, but equally black in God'ssight-not the destruction of the body-but the destruction of the soul! Not the destruction of the mere shell, the outwardman, but the murder of the real man, the inward self, the inner spirit, the soul murder which cries for vengeance before highHeaven, concerningwhich we have need to offer the prayer of David, "Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation."
Before I proceed to the heavy work of this morning, which is to bring home sin to our consciences, I would like to put ina word by way of caution. I shall have to speak of some who "destroy with their meat those for whom Christ died," and of otherswho, "crucify the Lord afresh, and put Him to anopen shame." And when I do so, there will be some who will not dare to take exception to the Scriptural phraseology, becauseeveryone yields to that, but they will fight hard against the supposed meaning of the very expressions which they are forcedto put up with. They will say tome, "It is impossible that any should be destroyed for whom Christ died."
And I may add it is equally impossible that Christ should be crucified afresh. I shall quite agree with them in this, butif they, therefore, gather that it is impossible for anyone to be guilty of the two sins mentioned, I shall not agree withthem, because such offenses would not have beenmentioned in Scripture as having been committed if they could not be committed.
Do you not know, dear Friends, that a man may be guilty of a sin which he never could actually commit, but which he committedin his heart? For instance, in very deed and act, I can never destroy a man for whom Christ died. It is not in my power norin the power of even devils to destroy suchsouls! But if I commit an action which in the ordinary nature of things would destroy such a soul. If I utter teachings,or if I present an example which, if God did not prevent, would destroy such a soul, then I am guilty because I should havedestroyed that soul if it had not beenfor God's interposing. His interposition does not take away my guilt though it prevented its effects.
Though I cannot crucify the Lord afresh, that is to say, He is so exalted in Heaven that all Hell could not drag Him downto the Cross-yet if I do an action which would crucify Him again, if it could be done-an action which has a tendency to putHim to an open shame, though I may not beable to complete the thing in act, yet, since its natural influence would lead to such a result, I am guilty of it. Thisis easily illustrated. Suppose that a man who had the management of certain points on a railway should willfully turn thepoints in such a way that two trainsmust come into collision and the passengers must be killed.
Imagine that an angel should descend from Heaven and stand between those two trains and prevent the collision. Where wouldbe the difference between the man's guilt whether the people were killed or not killed? The guilt is the same, because thething would have happened if it were not for amiraculous interposition. So by bad teaching, and by unholy living, those for whom Christ died would be made to perish ifit were not for a Divine interposition. And by inconsistency of conduct Christ could be nailed again to the tree if it werenot prevented by Divine power. Butthat prevention does not at all alter my sin. I am just as guilty as if the natural effect had followed. If you should fireat a man and the bullet were unexpectedly turned aside, you would be as truly guilty as if your victim had died!
Human law might not call you a murderer, because human law is obliged very much to judge a sin by the effect, but the Lordlooks at the heart and weighs the motive, the desire and the design. Please understand, then, that when I shall be speakingthis morning about your destroying souls, I do notmean that you will in the end defeat the Divine purpose of Divine Grace, but you will be as guilty as if you could. JesusChrist will not lose a soul whom He has determined to save, or be thwarted in any of His designs of mercy-but this will notextenuate your guilt, or mine.I put this in by way of caution, lest any should think me dubious of the great doctrines of Sovereign Grace which are everyday dearer than ever to me.
I. The first business this morning is to awaken and bring home to the conscience of this assembled multitude A STARTLING CRIME.There are many ways of being guilty of bloodshed. Every man is guilty of it in one respect, namely, concerning the death ofour Lord. I will not say that we are all guiltyof His actual murder upon the tree, for we were not then born. Yet, as it was the common sin of mankind which rendered itnecessary that He should suffer, we cannot escape from a share in His death.
This I can see very clearly, that those who reject, despise or neglect the claims of the Lord Jesus, and refuse to bow beforeHim, do, in effect mock Him, scourge Him, and put Him to death. In speaking against His Gospel, in deriding His servants,in neglecting His Book, in denying His Deity, andin refusing to believe in Him, men are virtually guilty of crucifying the Lord of Glory-for they thus do that which provesthat if they had been in a like condition with the Roman soldiers and with the Jewish priests-they would have nailed Him tothe Cross. We havecommitted actions tantamount to the crucifying of the Savior, and therein His blood comes upon us to our condemnation-unlessby faith it comes upon us to our acceptance and forgiveness.
Oh, Sinner, let this be forever a subject of trembling to you, that you have necessarily something to do with the Cross! Thathaving heard of it, it shall be unto you either a savor of death unto death, or of life unto life! Either the blood of Jesusshall fall upon your heart to cleanse you fromall guilt, or it shall fall upon your head to condemn you. You have said, "I know Him not. I will not obey Him. I will notyield to Him. I will, as far as lies in me, put out His light and quench His dominion in the midst of mankind." What is thisbut aiming at the very life ofChrist, and being guilty of His blood?
Another form of bloodshed, and I am only hinting at these two, is that of anger without a cause. We are told on Inspired authoritythat he that is angry with his brother is a murderer. Unless there is good and sufficient cause for anger, in which case aman may be angry and sin not, anger ismurder! When I have a hasty thought against a man and wish him out of the world, I have killed him in thought, and eventhough I may disguise the wish under the expression of wishing him in Heaven, there is guilt in the desire! Oh the hard, cruel,black thoughts which men havetowards one another when they are angry! Why, they kill and slay a thousand times over! These hasty sins are soon forgottenby us, but they are not soon forgotten by God. Let us weep over our hot tempers, for the fire of Hell burns in them!
And let us be forever free from that lingering malice which harbors resentment and will not be brought to forgive, for this,especially, is before God a form of bloodshed, and concerning it we have need to pray, "Deliver me, O God, from malice, andevil temper, and envy, and all uncharitableness,lest the guilt of bloodshed should be at my door." Having hinted at these, I now come to what I am driving at, namely, thosesins against men's souls by means of which blood may be at our door.
Let me call to your remembrance, some of you, your early days and your first youthful transgressions. It is taken for grantedin the world that young persons ought to be allowed to sow their "wild oats." And then it is hoped that afterwards they willsettle down. But these wild oats are more easilysown than reaped, and many men might weep tears of blood to think of what a harvest has sprung from them. We sinned verycarelessly and joyously, and led others into sin without a thought of the future. And now that we are converted to God wehave to look back, and wish in vain thatothers could be turned from the dangerous paths into which we led them! I do not want to bring any needless bitterness intothe heart of any person who is saved and pardoned, but I should like to cast a dash of gall into men's hearts who have neversought the Savior and who aregrowing gray.
I would make them seriously reflect upon the mischief of their early days. Alas, you cannot undo the evils of your sins! Yourchildren, trained amiss with a bad example before them, are not now to be tutored for God. Your acquaintances who have copiedyour habits are not now to be reclaimed.Perhaps some of you have had companions with whom you used to drink and feast who are now in Hell and brought there verymuch through you. How sad should be those depraved men who have been partners in the sin of guilty women, or women who havelured giddy young men into the pathsof vice. I feel sure that even when such persons repent and find forgiveness the thought of the past cuts like a knife.
I can hear one of them sighing. "Alas, I cannot undo my deeds! Those with whom I sinned are gone, gone where I cannot reachthem even with a prayer. And although others linger upon earth, they are gone, now, to such extremes of sin that it is almosthopeless to think that they shall be reclaimed,and all this is due to my youthful follies. Oh that I could wipe them out, even with my blood!" "Deliver us from the guiltof bloodshed, O God, The God of our salvation."
Many unconverted persons here will perhaps feel, I trust they may, the point of the next observation, namely, that false teachinginvolves the guilt of bloodshed. Some, who afterwards have become ministers of Christ, were at one time ministers of Arianism,Socinianism, Deism, or infidelity. Now theman who leads the young mind astray from the Truth of God and guides youth into doubt and skepticism must not think thathe shall go unscathed. Those who err from the Truth perish, but their blood shall be laid at the door of the teachers whofirst sowed the seeds of evil thoughtwithin them.
There was a despot in Italy who was wont to shoot poisoned adders at passersby in the street, and there are men who delightto shoot sharp, stinging doubts into young minds. They will not deny any one grand Truth of God, but they will insinuate covertdoubts which assail the whole Gospel system.Pity, Brethren, heartily pity those false teachers who have been able to attain to eminence by the fatal gift of unsanctifiedtalent. What must be at their door who have denied the Deity of Christ, who have despised and spoken slightingly of God'sAtonement? To have beguiled theminds of men till they have looked upon you as their oracle, and then to have taught them false doctrine-what is more horrible?With what solemnity is the teacher's office invested when we remember that God will require at our hands the blood of souls!
You who are now converted, but were once infidels, or miscalled Unitarians, I pray you go not to your bed tonight till youbreathe this prayer, "Deliver me, O God, from the blood of souls! Let none go down to the pit cursing me because I taughtthem error and led them away from the fountain oflife. Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation." It is a dastardly thing to poison the wells of a city,but what is it to poison the well of the Truth of God and make soul-thirst the medium of soul-ruin?
It was an accursed thing, in the old story, for a man to pour poison into his sleeping brother's ear, and yet hundreds havedone the same! Sometimes by word of mouth, and still more often by infamous literature. Who knows the evil caused by evilbooks scattered broadcast over the land, which, likethe ashes that Moses hurled into the sky, have brought a grievous plague wherever they have fallen? O you authors and editorsof newspapers who teach ungodly principles and sneer at Divine Truth-take heed lest the blood of souls cry out against you-asthe blood of Abeldid against the first manslayer!
Our text has a voice in another direction. Some men actually trade in luring others into sin. By this craft they get theirwealth. Pandering to the drunken and vicious habits of the multitude, they literally fatten on the ruin of those whose eviltastes they gratify and excite. Satan has manysoul-hunters in his pay who hunt for the precious life. It is an amusement to some to decoy others into the snares and meshesof the Evil One. I have known beings of this class. I will paint one whom I knew who is gone to his last account. He was anold drunkard, hoary with years ofinfamy. His language-profanity. His life-abomination. I should blush to mention the sins of which he would speak with adelighted leer.
Never came there a young man within his range but what he tempted him to the tavern and to places still worse. If one sawany youth of the congregation walking with that man, you knew that he would soon be missing from the House of Prayer. It wasimpossible for a person to be five minutes with thatold wretch without being infected by the contagion of his filthiness. His whole heart went with his foul tongue in the workof depraving the youthful mind! It was a sight to see the man's lips as he spoke lusciously of a dainty sin, and to see thecontempt that was in hiscountenance as the minister of righteousness looked sorrowfully at the destroyer and his victim. His joy was greatest whenhe had been the means of casting down a professor of religion, or could see young Hopeful become as vile as himself!
When he saw those die-whom he had led into sin and educated in profanity till they became as bad as himself-no twitch of conscienceever came over him! When he died and was buried, one almost thanked God for his removal, for he was a most fearful hindranceto the kingdom of the LordJesus. Oh, should I address some such who delight to sing lascivious songs, and to talk loosely, God forgive you! You area great sinner, and may He take that black heart out of you, and give you a new heart and a right spirit, for, if He doesnot, double damnation must be yourportion, since as he that, by God's Grace, turns many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever, so shallyou who have turned many to unrighteousness be plunged in the blackness of darkness forever!
This, I dare say, comes home to but very few-indeed, I trust to none of you here-but the next point may touch us all in somerespects. Bad example is a way by which the blood of souls may come upon us. If a man should live in a densely populous neighborhood,and should carry on a tradewhich sent forth deadly fumes into the air so that everybody who breathed them would be infected with disease and die, whocould acquit him of murder? Granted that he clearly knows that the fumes which he makes are deadly-if he, for any hope ofgain-causes such ruin, hedeserves to die himself.
But what is bad example? Is not that in the family and in the social circle just such a deadly vapor? I spoke just now ofbad teaching, but bad example is even more dangerous, because its range is wider. Bad example reaches those who would nothave listened to false doctrine, but who receive thepoison through their eyes. How do you know, Mother, but that the girl who breaks your heart learns her first sin from you?Father, can you be so angry with your child when you are not quite sure but what he has imitated you?
Master, you, the other day, spoke very severely about a certain servant who forfeited your trust-are you sure there was notsome irregularity in your conduct which misled him? Every man, especially in a great city like this, is responsible not onlyfor himself but for his neighbors, and thereare some of us who are like the church clock-other people set their watches by us. It becomes such of us as are religiousteachers to be particularly careful. There are some things which I feel I might do, as far as I am concerned, which I believeI might do without sufferingany personal hurt. But I do not do them for your sakes, and which I dare not do for the sake of many who would take licensefrom my example to do a great deal more than I would do, and would make me the horse on which they would put the saddle oftheir sin.
Christian parents, you must not always say, "I can do this." Yes, but would you like everybody else to do it? Because, ifit is unsafe for one, it seems to me you have no business to touch it. "If meat offends my brother, I will eat no meat whilethe world stands," is a grand old Christian sayingof one who was not a whit behind the very chief of the Apostles. We must be careful even of things indifferent. But whenit comes to those things which are positively evil, the bad example of a Christian is ten times worse than that of one whois not a Christian. If I see a sinnercommit sin, his example is poison, but it is labeled. The inconsistent life of a professor is unlabeled poison, and I amvery likely to be injured by it. Inconsistent Christians, false professors, you that have a name to live and are dead, takecare lest bloodshed be at your door,and much of it, too!
But these are things of which the ungodly have their share, and therefore I come, now, to talk a few quiet words to the Christianonly. I want to single out those Brothers and Sisters who love the Lord, and who are saved from the wrath to come throughHim. I want to ask you, Do you not think thatyou and I may have been guilty of the blood of souls, though we are set by God to be, instrumentally, their salvation? Thoughwe are the lights of the world and the salt of the earth, yet may we not have been darkness, and salt that has lost its savor?Answer, I pray, such questionsas these! May we not have bloodshed laid to us from neglect of family duties? I fear that this is one of the sins of thisage.
The Puritans were noted for the care in which they brought up their children-they never fell into the fault of sparing therod, and their children were catechized every Sunday. They were prayed for and wept over, and the Puritan household was avery Heaven upon earth. But oh, if some of ussee our children running into sin, and growing up to be thoughtless, careless, and giddy-what can we say-who shall we blame?Are there none here, like Eli, who have only said to their children, when they have done wrong, "My sons, why do you do this?"but have let themgo unchastised? Remember the character of Hophni and Phinehas, and the message of Samuel concerning them-"Thus says theLord, I will do a thing at which both the ears of everyone that hears shall tingle: I will judge the house of Eli becausehis sons made themselves vile, andhe restrained them not."
Let us take heed, lest God bring the like on us! Oh, Sirs, it is no small charge to be a parent, and to neglect that chargebrings no small guilt upon us! When I see so many children of Christians turn out worse than others. When I find some of thesons of ministers among the ringleaders insin-what can I do but pray that I may sooner die than have such a curse fall upon myself? If any of us have neglected homeduties, let us beware lest we have the blood of our children laid at our door!
Have we not often neglected the souls of seekers in distress who would become very glad of our attention? At our meeting forprayer and fasting last Tuesday, a Brother who was, I think, the best man among us, made a confession of cowardice and weall looked at him and could not understand how hecould be a coward. A bolder man I do not know! He told us that there was a man in his congregation who was a wealthy man.If he had been a poor man he would have spoken to him about his soul. But, being a wealthy man, he thought it would be takingtoo much liberty. At last, one ofthe members happened to say to him, "Mr. So-and-So, have you found a Savior?" and bursting into tears, the man said, "Thankyou for speaking to me! I have been in distress for months, and thought the minister might have spoken to me. Oh, I wish hehad. I might have found peace."
I am afraid that often you good people have sinners convicted of sin sitting beside you in your place of worship, and whenthe sermon is over you ought to get a word with them-you might be the means of their comfort-but you forget it, and you goyour way. Now, is this a thing to beforgotten, as if it were no great offense? Let me give you a picture which may set it forth. See yonder poor wretches whoseship has gone down at sea? They have constructed a poor tottering raft and have been floating on it for days. Their supplyof bread and water is exhausted andthey are famishing. They have bound a handkerchief to a pole and hoisted it, and a vessel is within sight. The captain ofthe ship takes his telescope, looks at the object, and knows that it is a shipwrecked crew.
"Oh!" he says to his men, "we are in a hurry with our cargo, we cannot stop to look after an unknown object. It may be somebodyperishing, and it may not be, but, it is not our business," and he keeps on his course. His neglect has murdered those whodied on the raft! Yours is much the same case,only it is worse because you deal with immortal souls! And he only deals with bodies which he allows to die. Oh, my Brother,I do implore you before the Lord, never let this sin lay at your door again! If there is one who is impressed, and needs aword of comfort, fly on the wingsof Mercy to such a soul and help cheer him as God enables you!
May we not be guilty, in the next place, of neglecting to warn many that are not impressed? If I saw a man go reeling on towardsa precipice, and knew, as he went staggering forward, that in a few minutes he would go over the edge and be plunged intoeternity-if I did not shout out and warnhim to draw back-I should feel that when he fell I had a share in his death. When you hear a funeral bell toll for a neighbor,can you say, "If that soul is gone to its last account, I did at least tell him of the way of mercy"? No, I fear there aremany now slumbering in thesepulcher whom you can never warn now, but whom you ought to have warned-your brothers, your sisters, your own children,your next door neighbors- they are gone, gone from where they never can return. And among the things they will have to sayat the Day of Judgment willbe this, that they can bear witness against you that you never warned them to flee from the wrath to come.
O God, we are all guilty here! "Deliver us from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of our salvation." Further, have wenot been guilty of the blood of souls by exposing them to danger? When a father puts his boy apprentice, if he only caresabout his worldly gain and not about his soul'sinterest, I cannot acquit him, nor will God acquit him. Parents have sometimes put their girls to school and their boysto trade where if they had obtained any good it would have been a miracle, and where if they met with mischief it was onlywhat they might expect.
Now it is according to law that if I expose my child to the cold and it perishes through my negligence I am punished. Surelyit must be so with sin. So with our servants, our neighbors, and work people-if we expect them to do for us what we wouldnot do for ourselves we are guilty of theirsins. Some here may possibly be carrying on unnecessary trades which require working men to toil all Sunday (works of necessity,of course, I speak not of), but there are systems of trading which for no justifiable reason involve the keeping away of themen employed from a place ofworship. Now when these men are lost, I ask at whose door will their blood lie? Who had the profits of their labor? Whofattened on their gains? Who sucked the very blood of their souls to coin it into wealth for himself? If there is such anone, let him cease from the sin, andpray, "Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation."
Christian, do you not think that sometimes you may have been guilty from unholy silence? When I hear God's name profaned andoffer no rebuke, but take it quietly, is there no sin there? When I see my neighbor going into sin, and have an opportunityof speaking and do not, is that silence withoutblame? When I go up and down the street and meet people in many ordinary avocations to whom I might speak of Christ andnever do-when they perish, shall I be clear? Oh the thousands that some of us come in contact with, and yet leave them asif we had no care about theireternal state! Shall we be clear, Brothers and Sisters, shall we be clear?
May not another sin also be charged upon some of you? Some have a way, not only of doing no good, but doing a deal of mischiefby their harsh conversation to young beginners. I have known elderly professors who, instead of encouraging the young, wouldseem as though they would snap the child's headoff if it spoke of Divine things! They doubt the possibility of the conversion of little ones and will ask knotty questions,and raise difficult points to perplex those who have but lately found Christ. They delight to insinuate that the convert'sjoy is nothing but mere excitement,and they do all they can to thrust seeking souls into despair.
Unlike the Master, who never broke the bruised reed, they break all they can! And, unlike He who never quenched the smokingflax, they would, if they could, quench even those that have begun to blaze! Is there no guilt here? Are there none such inthis House? I know there are! May they have DivineGrace to feel the sin and to plead for mercy! Unhallowed levity about Divine things is another home-born sin. Do we evertrifle about God's Word? Are we not tempted to joke and utter a silly jest when it would have been prudent to have urged awarning? I fear, Brethren, and fearsorrowfully, that many of us who ought to know better are verily guilty here. To trifle with eternal things is no smallcrime.
But here is a point upon which I would speak more earnestly, still-how often have we withheld prayer concerning others? Weknow they are perishing, but we do not pray for them! We are conscious that their state will be one of woe, but yet no tearsflow from our inhuman eyes, and our spiritsare not affected. Neglected closets shall call upon them to speak against us. I shall leave our lack of prayer in privateto be a matter of personal confession, but I am afraid that after having thought it over we shall feel we have been guiltyof bloodshed.
Then there is a general need of earnestness especially chargeable upon us who are ministers. That I should ever have preachedto you as I have sometimes done ought to break my heart. And that some of you should teach in Sunday school as you teach oughtto cause you deep regret! And that you shouldgo even about tract distributing in so cold a manner as you sometimes do should make you smite upon your breasts. Oh ifwe were half as earnest to serve God as others are to win gold, what success we might expect! And we have not had it becauseof our want of earnestness! Deliver usfrom the guilt of bloodshed, O God!
II. In the second place, let us make AN EARNEST CONFESSION. Let us not deny our responsibility or we shall be like Cain, whosaid, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Shun a Cainish spirit. Let us not try to shift the responsibility to God's shoulders bysaying, "God's decree will be fulfilled." That istrue, but Divine sovereignty is no excuse for human negligence. Let us feel, "We are guilty here," and do not let us murmur,"Well, we have a right to do as we like. It is a voluntary work."
It is so, but, Brethren, we are debtors unto the Jew and Gentile. Loved with such mercy as that which we have received, weought to have done more for souls and we are guilty because we have not done it. Let us not soothe ourselves with, "Well,we will do better in the future." Look to thepast-how can you undo that? And the souls that have gone, past recall, down the cataract of death-what can you do for them?Bestir yourself! Bestir yourself for the future! For there you can do much. But for the past, what is to be done but weep!Let us make a cleanbreast of it when we are alone, and solemnly confess that we have been guilty of the blood of souls.
III. In the third place, our text has in it AN EARNEST PRAYER which I commend to you. You observe it is addressed to God.It is not a resolution made in his own strength, but it is addressed to God. "Deliver me, O God." You observe that it is addressedto the God of salvation. Thanks be to Hisname, He can save us! He is the God of salvation. It is His prerogative to forgive. It is His very name and office to savethose who seek His face. Let us go to the God of salvation!
Better still, the text calls Him the God of my salvation. Yes, blessed be His name, guilty as I am I am saved! Though theblood of others once lay at my door-and my sin humbles me-yet through Jesus' precious blood I can rejoice in the God of mysalvation! Then look at the word,"Deliver." It has two meanings. "Deliver me from the guilt of the past- whatever I may have been in the years gone by forgiveit. But Lord, deliver me from the power of it for the future." If I am a minister, Lord, make me more prayerful. If I am aSunday school teacher, helpme to teach the children as though they would be dead before we met again. If I am a father or a mother, help me to instructmy dear children as though their salvation rested upon me.
If I am a neighbor, let me not neglect the street, or court, or lane where I live. If I am a citizen, let me not neglect theclaims of those who live in the same city with me. If I am a Christian, do not let me be a dark lantern, do not suffer meto be unsavory salt. Some of you professors are ofno use to anybody. I know some professing Christians who hoard their money just as if they did not owe Christ anything.They never give to the cause of God and their gold and their silver are red with blood-the blood of those who might have hadthe Gospel preached to them ifthere had been the means of sending it. I know others who come in and out and occupy seats and sing and pray as others do,but take no part in the work of the Church. They are useless idlers, like the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt withthe children of Israel.
If such are present now, the Lord send the darts of conviction through them! If you are His people, I hope you have the Graceto receive the rebuke in the spirit in which it is sent to you and profit by it. If you have been bought with blood, liveas one who is not his own! If you are a mereworldling, why do you come here and make a profession of Christianity? But if you have been saved, ask to be delivered fromthe great sin of bloodshed!
IV. The psalmist ends with A COMMENDABLE VOW. It is about the only vow that I can advise any of you to make. He says, firstof all, if God will deliver him, he will sing. And I vow I will. If I am only able to say as George Fox said, when he wasdying-honest Quaker as he was-"I amclear"-oh if I can say, "I am clear," I will sing, indeed! It is enough to make any man sing if he can be minister to sucha congregation as this and be clear.
Sometimes when I have gone down out of the pulpit, and somebody has said, "There are six or seven thousand people withoutexcuse because they have heard the Gospel," I have said, "Yes, it is so," but I have thought, "Have I preached it as earnestlyas I ought?" And many a time it has made me tosson my bed to think of the responsibility of this mass of human beings, and the twenty thousand or more who regularly readthe sermons as they come from the press. Who is sufficient for these things? Truly a saved minister will be an everlastingwonder!
Then it is said, "My tongue shall sing aloud." Oh yes, indeed! Who can sing in any other style if such a mercy as this isafforded us? If, indeed, we are found faithful, we will not sing in a whisper! If we have discharged our conscience, and noman can say, "You have been unfaithful to me," ourtongue shall sing aloud! But note the subject, note the subject! It does not say my tongue shall sing aloud of my faithfulness,of my integrity, or of my earnestness. Oh no! When I have done my best. When I am delivered from all guilt of bloodshed, andmy tongue begins tosing-it shall not sing of anything but Your righteousness, YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, O Jesus!
We cannot sing of ourselves. We must sing of the finished work of a precious Savior. "Ah," said one to a dying saint, "youhave fought a good fight!" "Ah," said he, "do not tell me that. I am thinking of how Jesus Christ said, 'It is finished.'" This is solid comfort for our souls. We must come assinners, still! I would like to have some such verse sung over my dead body as was sung over dear Rowland Hill when theyburied him under his pulpit at Surrey Chapel. He had asked them to sing the hymn-
" Jesus, Your blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress" and that verse was sung slowly and solemnly- "When from the dust of death I rise, To take my mansion in the skies, Even then shall this be all my plea, 'Jesus has lived and died for me.'"
Yes, we shall sing and sing aloud, too, but we shall not sing of goodness, but of the righteousness of our dear Redeemer!
Now, poor Sinner, what do you say of Christ's righteousness? Do you not see that you are guilty of many sins? Oh that youmay have Divine Grace to confess them! Remember the righteousness of Christ can wash away all sin, and however black and foulwe may have been, we have but to come to thefountain filled with blood, and if we wash there, we shall be white as snow! The Lord give us such a washing, and we willsing aloud of His righteousness!