Sermon 714. A Savior Such As You Need
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 7, 1866,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us: for after He had said before, This is the covenant thatI willmake with them afterthose days, says the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, then He adds, Theirsins and iniquities I will remember no more. Nowwhere there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin." Hebrews 10:15-18.
WE have all heard of Utopia, that imaginary land where all things are such as one might desire. A man who should conceivea spiritual Utopia might well be supposed to say, "What a delightful thing it would be if a man could, in this life, be completelysaved! What a priceless gift would be bestowedupon a man if he could know, by infallible authority, that his every sin was pardoned as to the past, and that, as to hissins in the future, there is provided the certainty of pardon! And what if such a man should also possess the invaluable blessingof another nature, a naturewhich would be prone to good, just as his present nature is inclined to sin?
"A nature which would prompt him to every holy thing, and spur him forward to the loftiest aims! What a thrice happy man wouldhe be who could feel that death itself would be gain to him, and that the trials of life will cause him no real loss! He wouldbe blest, indeed, who could rest secure atall times, because whenever the messenger of doom might come he was ready to meet him, prepared with the absolute certaintythat he should enter into immortal glories!"
A vision of such a supposable blessing as this has crossed the minds of many, but they have permitted it to melt into thinair, and have said, "The thing is impossible, but, if it could be attained, what a blessing it would be!" Now, I have comehere this morning to tell you that this pricelessblessing is obtainable! No, more-that it has been obtained, and is now enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of persons now livingupon the face of the earth-and that you, my dear Hearers, shall every one of you enjoy it if you are led to put your trustin that Savior whocame into this world on purpose to bring a perfect salvation to the sons of men!
It is true that every man who has believed in Jesus is perfectly pardoned. There is against him no sin in God's book and Godhas blotted out all his transgressions. As for the sins which he may yet commit, the blood of Jesus has already been shedto make atonement for those possible sins, and theyare already, in God's esteem, carried away by the great Sin-bearer. As to his nature, the Believer is a renewed man. Albeitthat his old nature is still inclined to that which is evil, yet he possesses within him a mortal principle-an incorruptibleseed-which lives andabides forever.
And as to his dying or his living, these are but small matters to him. If he lives in the flesh he serves God, and if he dieshe only falls asleep to wake up in Jesus Christ's likeness to serve Him yet more perfectly above. Thus, what was held to beUtopian is but the common possession of everyChristian, and this supposable good, which might have been thirsted after if it had not been obtainable, is actually inthe possession and enjoyment of every Believer in Christ Jesus!
I. I must not tarry, but conduct you at once to the text-IT IS THIS WHICH CONSTITUTES THE GLORY AND SUPERIORITY OF THE NEWCOVENANT OF GRACE-NAMELY THAT IT GIVES, TO ALL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN IT, PERFECT SALVATION.
Under the Old Covenant no one who rested in its many sacrifices ever was or could be perfected. The worshipper brought histurtledoves or his young pigeons, his bullock or his ram, and these were offered. He went away feeling that he had been obedientto a ceremonial command, and therefore heenjoyed some degree of short-lived content. After a time he sinned again, and he had to say to himself, "I must provideanother victim. I must go once more up to the tabernacle, or to the temple, for I have further sin to be washed away."
And even when this was done, after awhile he must come again. He could never come to a point in his life in which he couldsay, "It is finished, there has been a sufficient sacrifice offered. The atonement is complete. I have no need from now onto bring another offering."" Such a state of mind wasnot supposable under the old Jewish law. There was always needed a renewal of sacrifice because it was always an imperfectthing, never finished, but always needing an additional sacrifice. It is true that the true saints under the old dispensation,did, I have no doubt, obtainpeace and rest, but that was because they looked through and beyond the burnt offering upon the visible altar to the greatSin-Offering upon the invisible altar of God's eternal purpose, and virtually entered into the New Covenant.
For instance, David, in the fifty-first Psalm, passed right through the veil of outward ordinances and stood before the trueMercy Seat in the secret of God. He says, "You desire not sacrifice, You delight not in burnt offering." He gets away fromthe ceremonial to the evangelical, and he rested inthe real and true power of the sacrifice, which was to be presented in the latter days. The mass of the Jewish people-thegreat multitude of the nation-rested content with that which was outward. And they found no solid peace-for their very worshipgave them aremembrance of sin every year.
Let us rejoice that it is not so under the Gospel system. The sacrifice has been offered once-offered in such a way that completeatonement has been made. Sin has been pardoned, and the sinner who has taken that one finished sacrifice to be the groundof his trust feels that there is nothingleft for him to do! It is all done for him! He has not to add a single stone to the building, for the topmost pinnacle,the Lord Jesus, has brought forth with shouts of, "Grace, Grace unto it," crying with His expiring breath, "It is finished!"Our text tells us that in two pointsthe Old Covenant was far behind the new. First, in the matter of sanctification the Old Covenant did not do what the newone accomplishes, for the new writes God's Law upon our hearts and upon our minds, whereas the Old Covenant was only writtenout on tablets of stone.
And secondly, the Old Covenant could not put away the guilt of sin, whereas the New Covenant runs on this wise: "Their sinsand iniquities I will remember no more."
1. To begin, then, with the first point-he who came to the outward and visible rites of Jewish ceremony was not sanctified.He might stand as long as he would at the altar, and watch the blood poured out in copious libations, but he would go awayand sin just as he had sinned before. Therewere, no doubt, tens of thousands of persons who were familiar with all the ceremonies of the Jewish law who had no holythoughts excited by it. They were neither hindered from sin nor impelled to virtue by anything which they beheld, for theyonly looked upon the outward, and nevergazed into the inward meaning or felt the true spiritual power. And so they obtained no benefit as to the sanctificationof their lives by all that they saw.
I do not doubt that tens of thousands heard the Law of Moses read, but were not led to keep it. Did not the people stand shiveringaround Mount Sinai to hear that Law proclaimed as it never had been proclaimed since, and yet what effect had it upon them?A sort of stupid terror seized them so thatthey desired the voice of the Lord to be hushed, for they could not endure to hear it! But a very few days afterwards theytook their earrings from their ears and made them into a molten calf-and bowing down before it, they said, "These are yourgods, O Israel, which broughtyou up out of the land of Egypt."
All the quaking of the earth, all the moving of that smoking hill, all the thunder of the pealing trumpet could not make Israelobedient. They knew the Law, but they would not keep it! So far as its influence upon their lives was concerned, the Law withall the ceremonies which clustered around itwas a failure. It did not make them holy-it could not! But the Gospel is no such failure. Observe that those who come underthe influence of the New Covenant really are sanctified, and that by means calculated to so Divine an end. The New Covenantdoes not give me a Law, it iscontent to tell me that, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of the Law shall fail."
But what does the New Covenant do? Instead of bringing me a Law, it says, "I will give you love instead of Law. You shallnot be under the principle of Law any longer, but you shall be ruled by the principle of Divine Grace. Instead of saying toyou, 'You shall do this, and you shall not do theother,' I will make you love your God. And when you love Him, then you will say, 'What is my God's will shall be my will,and that which my God abhors I will abhor for His sake.' " Law is a principle of power with perfect beings, but it is notpowerful enough to keep such wretchedhearts as ours in subjection. It rather provokes hostility and excites rebellion-but when love comes in, this omnipotentprinciple sweetly constrains us.
Let me give you an illustration of the difference between the Old and the New Covenants drawn from human affairs. There aretwo schoolmasters. One of them, with many threats, issues rules and laws for his pupils as to what they shall do and whatthey shall not do, and certain severe punishments arethreatened for disobedience, the rod being the great governor of the school. Now, I can suppose these children to be merehypocrites-obeying when the master was present, but utterly destitute of any principle of order or obedience-glad enough torun into riotous disorderat the first instant the master's back is turned.
But the other master, by his kindness, his gentle reasoning and loving instructions has won the hearts of his pupils. He has,therefore, no need to be always giving minute regulations because the lads themselves, knowing in their own consciences whatis right to him, and having an affection forhim, would be unwilling to grieve him. Men will do far more from love than we might dare to ask as a matter of duty. Napoleon'ssoldiers frequently achieved exploits under the influence of fervid attachment for him which no law could have required themto attempt. Had there beencold-blooded orders issued by some domineering officer, who said, "You shall do this and you shall do that," they wouldhave mutinied against such tyranny. And yet when the favorite little corporal seizes the standard, and cries, "Come on," theywill rush even to the cannon's mouthout of love to the person of their gallant leader.
This is the difference between the Law and the Gospel. The Law says, "You shall, or you shall be punished." But the Gospelsays, "I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have forgiven all your trespasses. Now My love shall sweetly constrainyou, and the influence of inward principle shallguide you in My ways. My Law shall be written not upon stone but upon the fleshy tablets of your hearts." The Old Covenant,in all that it did, only provided precepts. But the Gospel provides the power to keep the precept. The Law appealed to theselfishness of our corrupt nature.The Gospel appeals to the nobler instincts of a Heaven-born life. The Law drove us, but the Gospel draws us. The Law camebehind us with its dog and stick as our drovers do from the cattle markets. But the Gospel goes before us as the Eastern shepherdbefore his sheep, and wecheerfully follow where the Gospel leads the way.
This is the difference, then, between the old Law and its inability to sanctify us, and the Gospel and its wonderful powerto purify. Beloved Brethren upon whom the Gospel has exercised its power, you know that the love of Christ constrains you.Before your conversion you used to hear moral essaysand to yield your assent to the excellence of virtue. But when temptation attacked you, what help could mere moral essaysafford you? What strength to resist sin did you find in your belief in the excellence of virtue?
Did you not resign yourself to the energy of evil as the snow melts in the fierce heat of the sun? But now, since you havebeen converted, you are not kept from sin by fear but by love, and you are not impelled to holiness because you are afraidof Hell, but because, being saved from the wrath tocome and loved with an everlasting love, you cannot be so recreant to your heart's love and to every hallowed impulse ofgratitude as to turn back to the beggarly elements from which you have been delivered.
What the Law could not do with its iron fetters, the Gospel has done with its silken bonds. If God had thundered at you, youwould have grown proud like Pharaoh, when he said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?" But when the Lord Jesus spokesoftly to you, you bowed before Him, and said, "Heis my Lord and my God." The blustering wind of the Law made you bind about yourself the cloak of your sins, but the genialwarmth of the sun of the Gospel constrained you to cast away the garments of your sin and fly to the Savior.
Melted and constrained by love, the icy bosom flows in streams of devout affection and sacred love where the glorious summerof heavenly Grace pours its full influence upon it, while all the howling winds of winter did but lock it in more iron bonds.Yes, there is a sanctifying power in theprinciple of the Gospel which is not to be found in the principle of the Law!
2. The second point concerns pardon of sin. The Law, as we have observed, could never put away sin. There was always a freshoffering needed because the stain still remained. But it is not so with the Gospel. Brethren, if you and I were living nowas Jews under that old dispensation, when we camehome from offering our sin-offering we could not be sure that we were pardoned. We should gravely question it, for our understandingwould say to us, "What connection is there between the killing of a lamb or a bullock and the pardon of sin?" And the convictionwould force itselfupon our understanding that the blood of bulls or of goats could not take away sin.
We would, therefore, feel uncertain as to whether any pardon was received. Moreover, we would never feel safe, for, albeitthat yesterday we offered the sin-offering, and did feel secure, yet we have sinned since yesterday and in what state arewe now? Suppose we die before we present another lamb,or suppose we expire just at the point when we had nearly completed a sufficient sacrifice, but yet some portion of sinis left-what then? Why, as a Jew, I could never have felt safe! I might have felt hopeful, but that would have been all. Therewould always have been thedark thought, "Perhaps I have not been fully obedient," and if I have failed in one point, I hear the rumbling of that cursein my ears, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things that are written in the Book of the Law to do them."
But, Beloved, the Gospel yields us something solid to rest upon, for under the Gospel we have offered for us not a typical,but a real sacrifice for sin! This is an old story, but the Christian cannot hear it too often. Once in the end of the worldGod Himself descended from the skies and wasveiled in our inferior clay. Here on earth God's eternal Son lived and dwelt like one of us. And in the fullness of time,when the sins of all His people had been laid upon Him, He was seized by the officers of Justice, and was taken away as havingour sins upon His own Person. Andon the tree was He fastened that He might die, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.
Christ stood in the place of His people, and when God's wrath fell upon sin it fell upon Him and spent itself upon His Person.There is no wrath left in God's heart now against those for whom the Savior died. Christ has suffered all. The penalty whichwas due to our guilt has not been remitted, buthas been paid to the utmost farthing by God Himself in the Person of His own dear Son. That death of Jesus Christ on Calvaryhas a sublimity about it which language fails to convey to the human mind-for He who there, as Man, was made an offering forsin was none other than GodHimself! Is it not written, "The flock of God, which He has purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28)?
He who died upon the tree was not mere Man, but, "Very God of very God," and hence there is an infinite efficacy in the pangswhich He endured, and in the death to which He became obedient, by which the sin of man is put away from the Presence of God.My Brothers and Sisters, when you and I havebeen, by faith, to the Cross, we do not ask with the ancient Israelites what connection there can be between the sacrificeand pardon. On the contrary, we can clearly see a very distinct and logical connection between the Sacrifice of Jesus andthe pardon of sin, for if Christ diedfor me I must be pardoned! How can it be possible that if Christ has suffered in my place I should suffer, too?
Would this be just? How can it be consistent with justice to punish the Substitute and those also for whom He stood? A manemploys a substitute for himself to serve in the army. Is he to be called upon to serve in person, too? A man finds anotherperson to pay his debts for him. Is he to pay hisown debts after that, himself? Surely not! For the thing is done and done with. I say it, not fearing to be misunderstoodin the connection in which I say it, that the sin of God's people is "non est," has ceased to be, for Christ Jesus destroyedit by burying it in His tomb.
The Prophet has said, "The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." And since Jesus has taken upon Himself that sin,and has been punished for that sin, there remains nothing now for which God's people can be punished-their sins God has punishedalready. And it is according to neitherjustice nor mercy that sin should be atoned for twice-that first the bleeding Sufferer should endure-and then those forwhom He suffered. Surely God is not unjust to forget the Savior's work and labor of love!
Now there was no connection, you see, between the blood of a bull and the putting away of sin, but there is a great connectionbetween the blood of Christ and the putting away of sin because that was shed instead of our blood. He died in the place ofthe multitude of men of Adam born who put theirtrust in Him. He was their Substitute and their complete salvation. You know this doctrine well enough, for you have heardit hundreds of times. Do you all believe it? Are you all resting on it? That is the point-to rest on this is to build on arock which will not be shaken,even when earth's old columns bow, and the stars fall like fig leaves from the tree!
Further, not only has a real sacrifice been offered, but sin is therefore really atoned for. I want to bring every Believerand every unbeliever, too, to face this Truth of God. What sin is that which I have committed? Do I trust Christ? If I unfeignedlytrust Him, then the punishment due to my sinhas been exacted already! Have I been a swearer? My blasphemy was laid on Christ before I was born, and I cannot be punishedat God's bar for that blasphemy because Christ has been punished for it.
Have I been a thief? Have I been a liar? Have I been a drunkard? Or, have my sins, instead of that, been merely sins of theheart rather than of the life? Have I been an unbeliever, hard-hearted, callous, careless? Whatever my sins may have been,they were numbered on Christ's head of old when Hewas the Scapegoat for my sins, and all the wrath which was due to all the sins which I have committed, or ever shall commit,if I am a Believer, was borne by my Redeemer! He received for my debts a full receipt from the hand of everlasting Justice,and my sins are forever put awayby Him.
What does the Scripture say? "He finished transgression, and made an end of sin." What a wonderful word-"made an end of sin"!And then, again, "Once in the end of the world has Christ appeared to put away sin." You know what that means: to put it rightaway so that you cannot find it anymore. He has made an end, then, of His people's sin and put it away. Christ, by suffering what was due to God on accountof sin, has uplifted sin from His people and destroyed it, stamping it out as men stamp out sparks of fire, casting it rightinto the depths of the sea as mencast away that which they wish never to see again.
Surely this gives us solid ground for comfort if we now are resting upon it! It appears from the text, yet further, that sincea real Sacrifice has been offered, and sin has been really atoned for, all the sin of those who are in the Covenant is gone.No, do not think I speak too boldly! What doesthe text say? "Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." They are gone, then! Every Believer in Christ is as clearbefore God as though he had never sinned! If he had not sinned he would have worn the innocence of a creature, but now, thoughhe has sinned, he has beenwashed in the blood of Jesus! And clothed with the righteousness of Christ he wears the righteousness of the Creator Himself.
If I had been a perfectly innocent creature I could have gone up to Heaven on the footing of mortal merit. Yet, sinner asI am, I rest in Jesus and now I shall enter Heaven on the footing of immortal merit. I could have gone there had I never sinned,enrobed in a white garment, but I shall go therewith a garment quite as white now, only I shall have to sing, "I have washed my robe, and made it white in the blood ofthe Lamb." Christian, let not your past sin lead you into despondency. Hate it, repent of it-but do not let it depress yourspirit, or destroy yourjoy-for your sin is forgiven. "I have blotted out like a cloud your iniquities, and like a thick cloud your transgressions."
The Lord has cast your sins into the depths of the sea. "Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as wool. Though theyare red like crimson, they shall be white as snow." All the Believer's sins are gone, and what is more, they are gone on thehighest authority, for what does the textsay?-"Thus says the Lord, their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." Now, if the Jew received pardon from the lipsof a priest he might not be quite sure that the priest had any right to give it.
And I am sure if I received absolution from any priest on earth I should feel as if it was not worth the shilling which Ipaid for it. What right has he to pardon me? I never offended him. If I have offended him he can pardon me for the offenseas it stands against himself-but it is clearthat nobody can pardon except the person offended. If anybody insulted me and one of you forgave him for it, I should say,"Well, much good may it do him." Who can forgive but he who has been injured? Now, the pardon of our sin is no good exceptit comes from God Himself. And thetext says, "Thus says the Lord, their sins and iniquities I will remember no more."
God himself speaks here, not through the mediate interposition of some earth-born priest, but He speaks directly Himself,"I forgive them, I pardon them, I cleanse them. Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." And then observe, thispardon is forever. It is not, "Their sins andiniquities I will forgive for the present," but, "I will remember them no more." Sin once pardoned can never be imputedto a man again! God never plays fast and loose with us. He does not say today, "I absolve you," and then the next day accuseus. The Apostle Paul used this as anargument. He says, "Who is he who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"
And, as if nobody could, he answers triumphantly, "It is God that justifies." He gives as a reason why none can condemn-thefact that Christ has died and risen again! Sin forgiven comes not back to us. Let none of you labor under fear of that. Yourold sins are buried and they shall neverhave a resurrection. Then there comes in, to complete the whole, the sweet satisfaction that our sins are gone in the mostcomplete sense. God says He will remember them no more. It is possible for God to forget, then? Can Infinite Wisdom ceaseto remember? Can the Eternal Mind casta thing completely out of itself?
Brethren, He speaks after the manner of men, and you know what a man means when he says he will never remember a thing. Ihave heard some say, "Well, I can forgive it, but I will never forget it," which being interpreted, means, "I never will forgiveit." But God, when He forgives, forgets, too!That is to say, He will make no difference in His future dealings with us on account of our past sins. He will treat Hischildren as though they had always been obedient children, and had never revolted. When the prodigal is received and forgiven,he is not put at the end of thetable, below the salt, or sent into the kitchen with the servants as if his faults were forgiven but yet remembered. Heis invited to the table and he feasts there upon the best the house affords. The fatted calf is killed, the ring is on hisfinger, and there are music and dancingfor him-as sweet music and as joyous dancing as for the constantly obedient elder son-no, more, for there is more joy overhim than over the son who went not astray.
Brethren, God in this sense forgets His people's sins. Why is it, then, that you and I sometimes are desponding in spiritconcerning past sin? It is right of us to hate it, to sorrow over it, but it is not right for us to get to fearing and tremblingas to the punishment of that sin. Why do we? Iwill tell you. It is because we forget the Cross. That repentance which does not look to the Cross is a legal repentance,and it will breed misery.
True Repentance looks to Jesus bleeding on the tree and she weeps, but as she weeps she says, "Lord, I do not weep for thissin because I believe I shall ever be punished for it. I know I never shall, for I see my sin punished in the Person of mySavior. I hear the whip that ought to have fallen onmy back falling cruelly on Jesus. I see the wounds that ought to have been made in my soul and body made in my Lord's Person.The bitter cry of anguish which ought to have come from a soul like mine I hear coming from Him as He cries, 'My God, My God,why have You forsaken Me?' andI mourn for my sin because it made the Savior bleed. I mourn to think I should have been so guilty as to need that He shouldsuffer in order that I might be delivered from my guilt."
Brothers and Sisters, beware of an unbelieving repentance, for God does not accept it! Seek to get repentance at the footof the Cross. If you have an eye to sin, take care to have an eye to the Atonement, too. Let your eyes be full of tears, butlet those tears act like magnifying glasses to youreyes to make the Cross appear a grander and a dearer thing than ever. Never let your sin shake your confidence in Christ,for if you are a great sinner, glorify Him by believing Him to be a great Savior. Do not diminish the value of the blood whileyou magnify the intensity of yoursin. Think as badly of sin as you can, but think right gloriously of Christ-for there is no sin, however hellish or devilish-whichthe blood of Jesus cannot take away! And if the concentrated essence of everything that is diabolical in iniquity is foundin yourself, yet"the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin," and herein we must, yes, and will, rejoice!
This, then, is the superiority of the Covenant of Grace. It really does sanctify a man, supplying him with motives for holiness.It really does justify and pardon a man, actually and really taking away his sin, so that it is said of him, "His sins andiniquities I will remember no more." We mustnow, very briefly, glance at the second point.
II. Secondly, THERE IS A DOCTRINE TAUGHT BY THIS which is to be found in the eighteenth verse, "Now where there is remissionof these, there is no longer an offering for sin." We have tried to show from the words of the text that Christ is sufficientto purify us by supplying us with holy motives,and to pardon us by His having Himself atoned for sin. The doctrine, then, is, that THERE IS NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SIN,BECAUSE CHRIST SUPPLIES ALL THAT IS NEEDED.
Just see what a broom this doctrine is to sweep this country from Popery, and to sweep all nations of it! Think, in the firstplace, of what is called, "the unbloody sacrifice of the 'mass for the quick and the dead.' " What becomes of that? The Apostlesays, "Where there is remission of these,there is no longer an offering for sin." Where, then, did the "mass" come from, and of what good is it? The Lord's Supperwas intended to be the remembrance to us of our Lord's sufferings, instead of which it has been prostituted by the Churchof Rome into the blasphemy of apretended continual offering up of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ-a continual sacrifice!
According to the Romish doctrine the offering upon Calvary is not enough! The Atonement for sin is NOT finished! It has tobe performed every day, and many times a day, in the many churches of Christendom, by certain appointed persons, so that thatsacrifice is always being offered. Do you noticehow strongly the Apostle speaks in this matter? He says Christ offered a sacrifice for sin ONCE. He declares that whileother priests stood ministering at the altar, this Man, the Lord Jesus, offered a sacrifice ONCE, and has by that ONE offeringperfected forever His elect ones!
Oh, Brothers and Sisters, the mass is a mass of abominations! It is a mass of Hell's own concocting, a crying insult againstthe Lord of Glory! It is not to be spoken of in any terms but those of horror and detestation! Whenever I think of anothersacrifice for sin being offered, by whomever it maybe presented, I can only regard it as an infamous insult to the perfection of the Savior's work!
Then, again, what becomes of penance? Is not penance in its essence an offering for sin? I do not care who it is that prescribesthe penance, nor what it is-whether it is licking the pavement with your tongues, or wearing a hair-shirt, or laying on thewhip-if it is supposed that by themortification of the flesh men can take away my sin, this text is like a two-edged sword to pierce the inmost heart of suchteaching! "Where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin." Take off your hair shirt, poor Fool!Wash the stones with a dishclothand keep your tongue clean! There is no need for these fooleries! Christ has completed the Atonement, you need not sufferthus! You need not, like Luther, go up and down the staircase of Pilate, and think that your poor sore knees will find favorwith God!
Christ has suffered! God exacts no more! Do not try to supplement His gold with your dross. Do not try to add to His matchlessrobes the rags of your poor penance. "There is no more sacrifice for sin." How this, again, shuts the gates of "purgatory"!It is held that there are some who die who areBelievers, but who are not quite purified from sin, and in an after state they must undergo a purgatorial quarantine tobe purged by fire, so that they may become quite complete. But, says the text, "Where there is remission of these, there isno longer an offering for sin."
Beloved, when the thief died on the cross he had but just believed, and had never done a single good work! But where did hego? Well, he ought to have gone to "purgatory" by rights if ever anybody did, but instead of that, the Savior said to him,"Today shall you be with Me in Paradise." Why?Because the ground of the man's admission into Paradise was perfect. The grounds of his admission there was Christ's work,and that is how you and I will get into Heaven-because Christ's work is finished. The thief did not go down to "purgatory,"nor, blessed be His name,neither shall you nor I if we trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus.
"Ah!" you will say, "this is meant for Romanists." Well, then, a little for yourselves. There are some of you who are quiteas bad! You receive the same doctrine only in another shape. There are some here who think they cannot be saved by Christbecause they have not had enough terrors ofconscience. "Oh," say some, "if I could dream horrible dreams! If I could feel as if I could kill myself! If I were afraidthat Satan would surely have me, then I could come to Christ!" Oh, you Simpleton! Do you think that this can be an offeringfor sin? Do you suppose that yourfrights, your dreams, your terrors, your unbelief, your distress of mind can help to make you fit for Christ?
Come, poor Soul, without any terrors! Come as you are. Christ is enough for you! If you cannot bring a penny, come! If youare ever so empty-handed, Christ died for empty-handed sinners. He delights to meet with poor miserable beggars who have nothingof their own, that He may say, and say truly,"I have saved them completely, and I shall have all the glory for it." Some others of you think that you must get your heartssoftened before you can trust in Christ. When we preach the Gospel to you, you say, "I do not feel such tenderness as I shouldlike to feel." No, dearFriend, and you never will while you talk so- for true tenderness of heart is not obtained by shutting your eyes to theCross.
If you will not trust Christ, your heart will grow harder instead of softer. And if you set up the softness of your own heartin the place of Christ's sufferings, you will find that this unbelief of yours will make you grow more stubborn still. "Oh,"you say, "but I cannot pray as I would wish."Very likely, but then do you think that your prayers are to make up for Christ's work? I tell you that your prayer is amost precious thing, and that a broken heart is a precious thing, and yet your prayer and your broken heart are good for nothingif you put them in the place ofChrist! You are not saved by your prayers or your brokenness of spirit, but by what Jesus did upon the tree. And you mustrest there and there only.
Will you, Sinner? Will you do this, or will you still put away the comfort of the Cross and say, "No, I will not trust Christtill I can trust my own prayers"? You will never be saved while you talk so. May the Holy Spirit cure you of your unbelief!"Ah!" says another, "but then I cannot realizethis." Oh, I see, then is your realizing it that is to do it, is it? Not Christ's sufferings? You will have a finger inthis pie, and think that surely my Master cannot do the work without your help. Oh, poor Sinner, you talk about humility,but this is the most rank pride in theworld-to want to do something to save yourself! Come now! May the Holy Spirit help you to come now, as you are!
Give up these dreams, these notions, these proud fancies, and come as you are, and say, "If God Himself became Man to diefor sin, there must be merit enough in His death to remove my sin. Does God himself say that if I trust Christ my sins andmy iniquities He will remember no more? Then I willtrust Christ, I cannot help it. I must cast myself on Him." Oh, my dear Hearers, depend upon it-you may spin, and spin,and spin-but all that you ever spin God will undo as fast as you spin it! You will think, "Now I am in a fair way of goingto Heaven." I tell you, youare in a fair way of going to Hell when you talk so!
You are never on the road to Heaven unless you stand self-condemned. When you are convicted in yourselves, then God acquitsyou. But when you say, "Lord, I thank You that I am not as other men are," you are a poor condemned Pharisee, and your portionwill be the flames! If you will come allunworthy and undeserving as you are-altogether lost and ruined, all hopeless and helpless, fit for nothing but to be sweptout of God's universe-if you will acknowledge yourself to be an undutiful child, a wandering sheep and a sinner deservingHis anger-then Hewill meet you! When you are yet a long way off He will meet you, and will fall upon your neck and kiss you, and say, "Takeoffhis rags and clothe him."
My Savior loves sinners! My heavenly Father loves His prodigal children, but He does not love those who bring Him their ownworks, and their own righteousness. Away with these things, away with them! They are a stench in the nostrils of God! Yourvery prayers, and tears, and repenting, andhumbling-if you put them in the place of the Cross of Christ-are only so much dogs' meat to be cast into the fire of Hell!He will not have you and your good works, but He will have you and your sins. He will not have you and your riches, but Hewill have you and yourpoverty. He will not have you and your fullness, but He will have you and your emptiness!
He will have you as you are, just as you are-only trust Him! Trust Him, and you shall find that this New Covenant will dofor you what the Old Covenant of "Do, do, do," could never do-it will sanctify you and justify you.
III. Lastly, does not this doctrine ANSWER A QUESTION that has often been propounded to me, namely, HOW IS IT
THAT THERE ARE SO MANY HEARTS WHICH CAN FIND NO PEACE? Some people are always learning, but never coming to the Truth of God.They are good people in many senses, and you are very hopeful that there is a work of Divine Grace in them, but they cannotbe happy. They are always dissatisfied anddiscontented. And they are not only miserable, themselves, but they make other people miserable-and so do mischief to others'souls by their unhappiness.
Now, what do you think is the reason? I am sure it is this-they will not agree that Christ shall be All in All to them. Itell you, in God's name, that I am sure in this thing I speak God's very mind. If you will have Christ to be All, you mayhave peace and joy-no-you SHALL haveit! But there is a secret something which you are clinging to. You want to divide the glory with Christ. Your mind is notbrought down to this-that Christ must be altogether your Savior. Remember-
"'Tis perfect po verty alone That sets the soul at large, While we can call one mite our own We find no full discharge."
When we get down to perfect poverty and have nothing to depend upon but Christ, if such a soul is not saved God must havereversed His plans and changed His Nature! He never did cast out a needy sinner yet, and He said, "Him that comes to Me Iwill in no wise cast out." But oh, the stubbornness ofthe human will that it will not come to Christ! We may preach. We may continue to do so till we are dumb in death! Goodbooks may be read. The Bible may be well known, but oh, you will not come and trust my Master! It is such a simple thing,too-and apparently soeasy-and yet your proud heart kicks against it.
Oh, you must come down to it, my Hearers, you must come down to it! You shall never have peace-you shall only get worse andworse with all your striving-you shall never have peace till you trust Christ. It is in this matter as it is with a man inthe water. We are told that if a man whohas fallen into the water kicks and plunges he is sure to be drowned, but if he throws himself back and floats he cannotsink. So it is with you. Now, leave off your kicking and your plunging, and throw yourselves back in simple confidence uponthe mercy of our good God in thePerson of His dear Son and you shall never perish!
Now, Christians, do you not see the reason why you also sink into this state of heart sometimes? Why, Brothers and Sisters,it is the same with you as it is with sinners-if you do not keep close to the Cross you will soon become unhappy. I know youdoubting professors, you who have beensinging-
"'Tis a point I long to know," you would not sing that if you lived close to the Cross and sung-
"My faith looks up to You, You Lamb of Calvary, Savior Divine."
And you backsliders, you would never backslide if you lived where the blood continually flows! For that which pardons us sanctifiesus. I believe that when you and I begin to think we are fine saints, and forget that we are only just filthy sinners washedin the blood, we begin to backslide. Thereis nothing like living every day as we lived the first day of our conversion. Does not Paul say, "As you have received ChristJesus the Lord so walk you in Him"? That is, live every day as you lived at first, being nothing in yourself, but Jesus beingAll in All to you. Away withself, and let Jesus be glorified! We must not have so much as a shadow of dependence upon anything that we can do or feel,or promise-we must depend alone upon that dear, that blessed Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us!
I feel this morning as if I could come afresh to that dear Cross, and rest there on Christ. I feel as if I could put my fingerinto the print of the nails and thrust my hand into His side, and say, "My Lord and my God!" Oh, cannot some poor soul dothis who never did it before? I pray God he may!And if it is done by you, and you trust in Jesus, then let Heaven rejoice! Let earth be glad, and praise surround the Throneof God, because such a one is saved, for is it not written, "Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more"?