Sermon 812. The Deep-Seated Character of Sin (No. 812)
Delivered on Sunday Morning, May 17, 1868, by C. H. SPURGEON, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is engraved upon the tablet of theirheart, and upon the horns of your altars." Jeremiah 17:1.
IN traveling in the East, inscriptions upon the rocks are often met with, which have remained almost as sharp and clear aswhen they were first cut by the engraver's tool. Some of these owe their indelible character to the hardness of the rocksupon which they have been engraved. They must have been written, to use the expressive language before us, "with a pen ofiron," and engraved as "with the point of a diamond." When such writing had been once achieved, those who had achieved theirpurpose might have said with Pilate, "What I have written I have written," for there it stood, and there it stands.
The Prophet declares that the sin of Judah was as indelibly cut into their nature as the rock writings in the stone. Theirhearts were as hard as rock and sin was inscribed thereon deeply and plainly-as though written with some iron instrument.Their spirits were just as senseless and hardened as stone itself, and their iniquity appeared as if engraved with the pointof a diamond. What was said of Judah, may, with equal truthfulness be said of the whole human race. Circumstances here donot alter cases. Put men where you will, whether they belong to Judah or to the uncircumcised nations, as face in water answersto face, so the heart of man to man-each man is like his fellow-the hardness of Judah's heart is repeated in the stubbornnessof barbarian and Roman, Greek and Scythian. It is seen, indeed, in us-to deal with ourselves is our main business this morning.
I. We shall commence by answering the question, WHAT IS SIN? We are always hearing about it. It is constantly dunned intoour ears by the preacher. We cannot turn over a page of Holy Writ without meeting with it. What is sin? How few people haveobtained a right idea of sin! How much smaller is the number who express the idea clearly! If you ask the Pharisee of oldwhat sin was-"Well," he would say, "it is eating without washing your hands. It is drinking wine without having first of allstrained out the gnats, for those insects are unclean, and if you should swallow any of them they will render you defiled."
His repentance dealt with his having touched a Gentile, or having come on the wind side of a Publican. Many in these dayshave the same notion, but with a variation. We have read of a Spanish bandit, who, when he confessed before his father-confessor,complained that one sin hung with peculiar weight upon his soul that was of peculiar atrocity. He had stabbed a man on a Friday,and a few drops of the blood of the wound had fallen on his lips, by which he had broken the precepts of "Holy Church," inhaving tasted animal food on a fast day. The murder did not seem to arouse in his conscience any feeling of remorse at all-notone atom-he would have done the same tomorrow. But an accidental violation of the canons of "Mother Church" excited all hisfears!
I read only last night in the newspaper an account of a visit paid by a strict high churchman to a little meeting of PlymouthBrethren and I was amused with the guilt that evidently rested on the writer's conscience in having been found in such anassembly. He tells us, in the first place, that he was not quite well enough to sit out the usual long service in the Church.And in the second place that he had been to a celebration of the "Eucharist" in the morning, and, therefore, he thought thatfor once he might be pardoned for indulging his curiosity. His mind was, however, evidently burdened with the weight of hisheinous sin.
There are men in England to whom it would be one of the highest crimes and misdemeanors to worship God with the most holyof His servants so long as they did not meet within walls which had been superstitiously consecrated. Singular, indeed, arethe ideas which many men have of transgression! But such is not God's view of sin. Half of those things which mere ecclesiasticscondemn are not sins at all. To break the commandments of men may be virtuous! To kick against theconventionalities of a man-made Church may be an evidence of enlightenment! To refuse homage to a proud hierarchy may be abounden duty!
The chains of custom, the fetters of fashion, the manacles of priest craft are to be scorned by all who claim the right ofmanhood. To break them in sunder is no sin. Sin is a want of conformity to the will of God! Sin is disobedience to God's command!Sin is a forgetfulness of the obligations of the relation which exist between the creature and the Creator. This is the veryessence of sin. Injustice to my fellow creature is truly sin, but its essence lies in the fact that it is sin against Godwho constituted the relation which I have violated. It is surprising, when we talk with persons who profess that they haveforsaken their sins, how very seldom they will give you a distinctly spiritual definition of sin. I believe they understandit in their hearts, but their understandings come short of the desired point.
Ask them the question, "What sin has most troubled you?" Or, "What in your sin most distressed you?" You will be amazed attheir replies! Seldom enough will they answer that sin is obnoxious to them because it is an offense against God-rather theywill light on some one offense, and indicate that as the weight which lies heaviest. One very sincere young man told me thatnothing had previously pricked his conscience until he upset an oil can in the warehouse where he was working, and in foolishfear of his master, denied that he had done so.
He felt that he had told a lie and was so overwhelmed with a sense of his meanness that he felt thoroughly degraded, and wasled to search his heart and to make the discovery of the corruption of his nature. It did not appear to have occurred to himup till that moment that he had been living wrongly in living without God, or that he was acting meanly in his ungratefulneglect of his Maker to whom he owed his hearty service. Sin, through all those years, only meant to him mean things towardshis fellow mortals! By God's Grace he now knows how ill it is to rebel against his God.
This last week an esteemed Brother minister was telling me that in speaking to a man who professed to have been converted,he asked him which sin remained as a load upon his mind. "Well," said the man, "I have to see after cows and I have oftenbeaten the cows very badly." "What do you do now?" "Oh, I coax them instead of beating them." Now, I have no doubt that inhis peculiar calling, cruelty to animals would be most strikingly laid upon his conscience, but the pastor had to say to him,"Yes, quite so. But the great sin in your fault is that the cows are God's creatures, and that He is angry if we treat Hiscreatures unmercifully."
The guilt lies in all our offenses in our disobedience to the good Lord who has a claim to be served by us with all our heart,and soul, and strength. Conscience readily enough tells us we are wrong if we defraud our fellow men, but if we rob God, howfeebly does the moral sense upbraid us! If we were ungrateful to our parents or friends we should feel that we had done agrievous wrong-but we confess that we are ungrateful to God-and yet our shame is not so deep as a true sense of wrong wouldproduce. If we were disloyal to our country and rebellious against its laws, we should feel it to be a great crime-but someof us remain in disloyalty to the King of kings, and in disobedience to the best Laws that were ever framed-and yet our spiritualtreason does not strike us with horror!
David touched the center of the matter when he said, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight."Sin is a lack of conformity to the will of God. It is a breach either in imagination, or desire, or word, or action of theDivine Law. It is, to repeat the words I have used before, a forgetfulness of the true relation which exists between a creatureand the Creator. It is but right that He who made us should have our service. It is a great and intolerable wrong that, beingcreated by God, we yet refuse to yield to His will. It is right that He who is so good to us should have our love-it is sinthat, living upon God's goodness we do not return to Him our heart's affection.
It is right that, being sustained by Divine beneficence from day to day we should give to Him constant thankfulness, but,being so sustained, we do not thank Him-herein lies the very soul of sin. Let it be remembered that tens of thousands of personsin this so-called Christian land live in utter neglect of God. If there were no God, it would not in any way affect the livesof most men-they live precisely as if there were none. "God is not in all their thoughts." They never pause over an action,and ask, "Will God be angry with this?" They are never moved to the performance of virtue by the reflection that God willapprove it.
There is no God to them, though the table is loaded with the bounties of His Providence. There is to them no God even thoughthe sick chamber is made to feel the terror of His rod. There is no God to them though they walk in all the fields of Natureand behold evidences of Deity on every side-no God though they might see His finger in every event of their lives. They livelike brutes in this respect and alas, many of them die the same-without God, without hope-earthgrubbers buried in the earth. Multitudes of men who are occasionally stirred with the thought of God, yet, nevertheless, asoften as they can, forget Him. They cannot quite be without reflections upon the existence of the Deity and their own relationto Him, but still it is so unpleasant a thought and so contrary to the general set of their nature that they shake it offas much as possible, and plunge into the frivolities and dissipation's of pleasure, or into the stormy seas of care and troublein business-into anything so that they may be able to be clear of the undesirable remembrance of their Maker.
If they hear a peculiarly earnest sermon they resolve to remember their Creator, but then they have resolved before and theyfind it as easy to forget now as then. Sometimes an arrow from the Eternal One sticks in their loins, and oh, what craftsand arts are practiced to get that arrow out! How they would, if they could, escape from conviction and continue light-heartedand frivolous in forgetfulness of their God, His Law, His justice and the coming Throne before which all the creatures shallbe summoned! Yes, and even when men are compelled to think of God, yet, for all that, they go on sinning! They think of Himand yet violate His commands! They acknowledge His Presence and yet do despite to His love.
Ah, Brothers and Sisters, it is a strange thing! It shows what a monster, what a diabolical miracle sin is, that God shouldbe around us all the day long and yet before His very face we should dare to say and think, and do that which is contraryto His will although a word could crush us as the moth is crushed! Although His will could sink us into the profoundest Hell!What words shall denounce the arrogance and impudence of sin? Who shall sufficiently condemn an evil which defies Jehovahto His face and hurls defiance at the thundering God?
This it is which makes sin so much sin-that it is not sin against God's creatures, an indirect thing-but it is high treasonagainst the Majesty of God Himself. It is a defiance of Him to His face, a stabbing of the Godhead so far as man can do it,to the very heart. This is sin. Now, in the light of this Truth of God, pausing just a minute, let me ask the Believer tohumble himself very greatly on account of sin. That I have not loved my God with all my heart. That I have not trusted Himwith all my confidence. That I have not given Him the glory due unto His name. That I have not acted as a creature shoulddo, much less as a new creature is bound to do-that, receiving priceless mercies, I have made so small a return-let me confessthis in dust and ashes and then bless the name of the Atoner who, by His precious blood, has put even this away so that itshall not be mentioned against us any more forever.
Let me invite the unconverted to reflect upon their state in the light of this Truth. If sin consisted only in dishonesty,in lying, in swearing, in drunkenness-many of you might plead not guilty-and it might go well with you. But if the sin whichwill bring upon you the punishment of Hell is a neglect of God, a lack of love to Him-then where are you? You who, with thePharisee, could say, "Lord, I thank You that I am not as other men," where are you? Why, this shows you that your heart maybe vile and filthy and you, yourself, may be condemned while your outward conduct may be very commendable, and all who knowyou may be praising you for your consistency!
Let this Truth of God, then, shine right into your souls, and as you see it to be a Truth and see yourself exposed by it,remember-
"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins."
Fly to it, and make this the unceasing prayer of your heart, "Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great. Blot it out for Jesus'sake."
II. In the second place, the question, HOW IS THE FIXEDNESS OF SIN WHICH IS DECLARED IN THE TEXT PROVEN? The Prophet tellsus that man's sinfulness is as much fixed in him as an inscription carved with an iron pen in granite. How is this fixednessproven? It is proven in two ways in the text, namely, that it is engraved upon the tablets of their heart, and secondly, uponthe horns of their altar. It clearly proves how deeply evil is fixed in man, when we reflect that sin is in the very heartof man.
Man loves sin. Sin is not an accident to man-a ditch into which he falls because he cannot help it-but sin is the subjectof man's deliberate preference. Man selects evil and rejects good. If a man, for awhile, falls into a habit and yet that habityields him no satisfaction, you may very readily break him of it. But when a man finds his habit to be pleasant to his natureand even dear to him, you may rest assured that you are not likely to turn him from it. The Ethiopian cannot change his skin,nor the leopard his spots. When a sin becomes intertwisted with the roots of the affections, you cannot uproot it. When theleprosy eats deep into the heart of humanity, who can expel it? It becomes, therefore, ahopeless case so far as human power is concerned. Since sin reigns and rules in man's affections, it is deeply ingrained,indeed.
My unconverted Hearer, the sin of forgetting God is in your heart, you know it is. You do not like to think of Him. It isnot your desire to be obedient to Him. Your pleasure lies in quite another direction. You know very well that when you takeup the Bible in the evening and begin to read it, it is a dreadfully dry book. You have no interest in it. And when you goto a place of worship you find no pleasure in it. Your heart does not go after God's praise-you are like the mouse which creptinto the Church and, finding hymn books very dry nibbling, was glad to get away again. The larder suited her better and soit does you.
The music hall, the ballroom, and the theater are more to your taste because there you will not be worried with the thingsof God. God, holiness, Heaven, Hell, eternity and the Atonement-why these things are old and cheerless sounds to you! Youhave heard them many, many times but they ring no music into your ears-they rather beat like muffled drums in a funeral march!As soon expect a stream to flow uphill as look for a natural heart seeking after God! If it were right in this place to talkof certain sins, there are many that would blush and hide their face and say, "I pray that I may never fall into them," andyet they close not their ears when the evil is recited, but listen with evident interest!
When we read police reports and divorce reports, we should be deeply pained and made to shudder, were it not that our evilheart of unbelief is hardened towards evil. Everybody knows that the light literature of the day, which is pretty freely spicedwith shameful sin, goes down readily and second and third editions are called for. Your very decent and moral people likea precious mouthful of scandal or uncleanness to give a flavor to their reading. Yes, there is a love of sin in the heart,a love of everything that is contrary to God! And there is a forgetfulness, a distaste, even a hatred to thoughts concerningthe great Father of spirits!
Oh, if you loved God you would not live without prayer as some of you do! If you loved God you would not repeat forms of prayeras some of you do! If you loved God you would talk to your Father without your book! My child never reads a book to me whenhe wants anything, but he comes with his mouth and his heart ready at once, without any teaching from his brother, to askme for what he needs. If you loved God, you would not live day by day without speaking of Him, without meditating upon Hisglorious works, and without seeking after fellowship and communion with Him! But, inasmuch as you love Him not Who is so worthyand Who by such gentle ways woos your love, who shall deny that your lack of love to God is deeply engraved in the very centerof your heart, and cut into your nature, itself?
The second proof the Prophet gives of the fixedness of human sin is that it was written on the horns of their altars. Whenpeople are bad, at their best they must be very bad, and such were the men of Judah. They sinned in their very religion. Thesepeople sinned by setting up idols and departing from Jehovah-we sin in quite another way. When you get the unconverted manto be religious-which is a very easy thing-what form does the religion take? Frequently he prefers that which most gratifieshis taste, his ears, or his sight. Yes, of course he does not object to a religion which is produced and assisted by paintedwindows, praising machines, elegant tailoring and fine music!
Men's carnal appetites are pleased with these things, and it is gratifying to human nature to discover that such things maybe called religion. The fact is that there is no more true religion in fine music than in discord, and no more genuine worshipin a cathedral than in a hovel. Men might as well look at vestments, and windows, and carvings in the artificers' shops wherethey are made-and there would be quite as much devotion as in looking at them in the place where they are fixed! Others thinkif their ears are pleased with listening to an eloquent discourse they are worshipping God. He who can speak well is, to them,as one who makes a goodly sound on a pleasant instrument. Their religion is to admire elocution, but there is no religionin that! There can be no more Divine Grace in listening to an eloquent minister than in listening to an eloquent parliamentaryorator.
If your heart is touched, that is the worship of God! If your heart is drawn to God, that is the service of God-but if itis the mere ringing of the words, and the falling of the periods, and the cadence of the voice that you regard, why, Sirs,you do not worship God, and on the very horns of your altars are your sins! You are bringing a delight of your own sensuousfaculties and putting that in the place of true faith and love, and then saying to your soul, "I have pleased God," whereasyou have only pleased yourself. When men become serious in religion, and look somewhat to the inward, they then defile theLord's altar by relying upon their own righteousness. Nothing is more pleasing to human nature than the attempt to do somethingby which it may merit salvation at the hand of God.
God thunders out, "By the works of the Law there shall no flesh living be justified," and in the teeth of that, millions ofmen say, "We will be justified by the works of the Law"! So, coming to God with the pretense of worshipping Him, they offerHim that which He abhors and give the lie to Him in all His solemn declarations. If God says that by the works of the Lawno flesh shall be justified, and man declares, "But I will be so justified," he makes God a liar-whether he knows it or nothis sin has that within it. Man is much like a silkworm-he is a spinner and weaver by nature. A robe of righteousness is workedout for him but he will not have it-he will spin for himself-and like the silkworm, he spins, and spins, and he only spinshimself a shroud. All the righteousness that a sinner can make will only be a shroud in which to wrap up his soul, his destroyedsoul-for God will cast him away who relies upon the works of the Law.
In other ways men stain the horns of their altars. Some do it by carelessness. Some of you who come here are filled with vainthoughts. I thank God that I have not to complain of inattentive audiences, but still, how often during prayer your heartsare anywhere but at the Throne of God? And when the sacred song is rising up to the Majesty of Heaven your lips are moving,but your hearts are not praising God! Ah, my Friends, if secret things were testified abroad how many times it would be seenthat the horns of your altar have been stained by irreverence and carelessness! Those lips must be depraved, indeed, whicheven in prayer and praise still continue to sin!
The horns of our altars are defiled by hypocrisy. Into our Churches there will come men who, like Demas and Judas intrudethemselves, uncalled, sitting at the Master's Table. They are baptized into His name and yet for all that are hollow and rotten,deceivers and deceived. You may have seen two fencers practicing their art and noticed how they seem to be seeking each other'sdeath-how they strike and thrust as though they were earnestly contending for life-but after the show is over they sit downand shake hands and are good friends. Often so it is in your prayers and confessions-you will acknowledge your sins and professto hate them-and make resolutions against them-but it is all outward show-fencing, not real fighting! And when the fencingis over, the soul shakes hands with its old enemy and returns to its former ways of sin.
Oh, this foul hypocrisy is a staining of the horns of the altar with a vengeance! But I shall not detain you longer. The factis clear that men do this and the inference is also logical that if men love sin in their hearts, and if even in their religionthey still perpetrate sin, then it must be deeply engraved in them as with the point of a diamond.
III. Thirdly and briefly, WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THIS? How did sin get such a firm footing in humanity? How is it that the EvilOne has so stormed the city of Mansoul as to entrench himself in the impregnable castle of the heart, and bid the black bannerfloat thereon? The answer is, first, we must never forget the Fall. Certain theologians ignore the Fall-but for all that itremains the saddest and the second greatest event in human history. We are fallen. We are none of us today as God made us."God made man upright, but he has sought out many inventions."
Our first parent was the perfect man but he polluted the fountain of life, and, "Behold," as David said, "we are born in sinand shaped in iniquity." In sin do our mothers conceive us. The human judgment is out of balance-it uses false weights andfalse measures. "It puts darkness for light and light for darkness." The human will is no longer supple, as it should be tothe Divine will-our neck is naturally as an iron sinew and will not bow to Jehovah's golden scepter. Our affections, also,are twisted away from their right bent. Whereas we ought to have been seeking after Jesus and casting out the tendrils ofour affections towards Him, we cling to anything but the right and climb upon anything but the true. "The whole head is sick,and the whole heart is faint."
Human nature is like a magnificent temple all in ruins. Where there ought to be shouts of sacred joy and rising paeans ofincessant praise, you can hear the howling of the dragon and the hooting of the owl. Magnificence is there, but for all thatthe ruin is complete. This accounts for the depth and fixedness of sin in us-that it is a matter of birth. Original sin, letit be denied and explained away as it may, remains a great Truth of God and there are problems in human history which nevercan be explained without the belief in it. Indeed, every man is in himself such a problem that if you deny his original depravityyou miss the key to his life-but if you believe that doctrine you may then understand what manhood is-and you are on the righttrack towards getting to find out how manhood can be made better and holier.
In addition, however, to our natural depravity, there comes in, in the second place, our habits of sin. Well may sin be deeplyengraved in the man who has for 20, 40, 50, or perhaps 70 years, continued in his iniquity. Put the wool into the scarletdye, and if it lie there but a week the color will be so ingrained in the fabric that you cannot get it out. But if youkeep it there for so many years, how shall you possibly be able to bleach it? Man has continued in sin, therefore the Prophetsays, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? If so, then he that is accustomed to do evil may learnto do well."
Use is second nature. Nature originally is bad, but the use comes in as a second mischief and makes us doubly inclinable towardsevil. You must remember, in addition to this, that sin is a most clinging and defiling thing. Who does not know that if aman sins once it is much easier to sin that way the next time? No, that he is much more inclinable towards that sin? Thisis conspicuous in certain sins of the flesh which we all condemn. Let any person once have given way, and it becomes an awfulstruggle-a struggle in which the major part are defeated altogether when they attempt it-to break loose from their bands oflasciviousness. I mention that one sin because its power to return upon us is so conspicuous, but it is an illustration ofthe same thing in every other sin.
If you fall into covetousness, you will find it very hard to be generous. And if you continue to be grinding and grasping,generosity will become an impossibility. The muscles of the arm, if you never exert them except in one fashion, will becomeset so that you cannot move them-like the Indian Fakir who held his arm aloft so long that he could not take it down again.Man, continuing in sin, becomes fixed in its habit. Only the other day we read of a great millionaire in New York who wasonce weak enough to resolve to give a beggar a penny. He had grown old in covetousness and he stopped himself just as he wasabout to bestow the gift, saying, "I should like to give you the penny, but you see I should have to lose the interest ofit forever, and I could not afford that."
Habit grows upon a man. Everybody knows that when he has been making money, if he indulges the propensity to acquire, it willbecome a perfectly tyrannical master ruling his entire being. Therefore the reason why sin being in the nature, and secondly,coming upon us in the use and the habit, and thirdly, being in itself a thing which naturally clings to us and gets a dominanceover us, it is written within us as with the point of a diamond. I may add that the Prince of the power of the air, the EvilSpirit, takes care, so far as he can, to add to all this. He chimes in with every suggestion of fallen nature. If we say "One,"he is always ready to say, "Two." If we want a lie to help us in any of our plans, he will be at our beck and call at once.
He knows when to use the bellows when he sees that the fire is beginning to burn. He will never let the tinder lie idle forlack of sparks, nor the ground lie waste for lack of the seeds of thorns and thistles. He has an aptitude for dealing withhuman nature for his own purposes, and so is never far away when a sin is to be produced. When we begin to fasten a nail,he is ready to drive it home and clinch it, too, so that the sin of Judah may be written as with an iron pen and engravedas with the point of a diamond.
Up to now, my dear Brothers and Sisters, I have had to enlarge upon a very dreary statement. What I have said I feel persuadedis true, but I feel no satisfaction in speaking it. I have declared what I believe to be the Truth of God as it is in Jesus,but it is a burden to have to state these things. Let no man imagine that we are the inventors of these doleful doctrines.If they are not true, they certainly are among the most miserable of human conceptions. But if they are true, it is amongthe most honest things that man can do to tell people plainly of them, that they may be prepared against them. But we willnot so finish-we will advance to a more cheering topic.
IV. Our fourth point will be, WHAT IS THE CURE FOR ALL THIS? Sin thus stamped into us, thus ingrained into our nature-canit ever be removed? It must be, or we cannot enter Heaven, for there shall by no means enter within those pearly gates anythingthat defiles! None but the perfect can enter into the land of the perfect, where the thrice-holy God is the center of a perfectlyholy company!
We must be cleansed and purified, but how can it be done? It can only be done by a supernatural process. You cannot do ityourself. The dead in the grave can sooner raise themselves than you, who are accustomed to do evil, can learn to do good!Even those who are saved by Divine Grace will tell you that they can do nothing without the Spirit of God, much less can youwho are dead in sin. If the vessel that is well rigged and manned cannot move upon the waters without the breath of Heaven,much less can the unformed timber which lies in the merchant's yard make itself into a ship and then cross the seas!
If the living Christian needs Divine assistance, much more do you. You have destroyed yourselves, but your help is not inyourselves. In God your help is to be found. Your only help-to make short matter of it-lies in Jesus Christ, the Son of Godwho became the Son of Man that He might lift the sons of men up from their natural degradation and ruin!
How does Jesus Christ, then, take away these deeply-inscribed lines of sin from human nature? I answer, He does it first inthis way-if our heart is like granite and sin is written on it, Christ's ready method is to take that heart away! "A new heartalso will I give you, and a right spirit will I put within you."
Has it ever struck you what a wonderful thing it is for God to promise to give man a new heart? If you get a tree and sawa branch or two off, you may regret that the branches are gone but a new branch may come. And though you may grow a new branchon the tree, you could not obtain a new heart for it. When once the tree gets thoroughly rotten in the center you must giveit up as hopeless-you cannot put new sap into it. But here God promises by the hand of His Son that He will give us new hearts-heartsin which there shall be no sin! Hearts which shall have no tendency towards evil, but which shall be pure hearts-hearts inevery part renewed and filled with Divine love-perfect and right, and pure and good-a copy of His own heart!
The Lord Jesus Christ has for many now present worked this miracle! He has given them the new heart and though the old heartis still there, contending and fighting, yet the new heart will get the victory. We have now new loves, new hates-the nameof God is now the sweetest bell that ever rings! The thought of God's Law is marrow and fatness to us. A sense of God's loveis like honey dropping from the honeycomb. Now, the thought of Hell, solemn as it is, does not alarm us! The thought of Heavenis bright and lustrous, and cheers us in traversing this wilderness. Now, to muse upon eternity and the fact that we shallsee the Lord forever, face to face, is our daily delight! We are not what we ought to be, nor what we want to be, but stillour leanings and inclinations are towards better things.
The new heart has its helm turned in an opposite direction from that in which the old heart was steering. We are sailing undera new flag now-we have enlisted under a new Prince and by God's Grace we shall conquer-and we shall enter into the joy ofour Lord Jesus Christ! It is a part of the Covenant of Grace and a part of His Gospel that Jesus can give to us hearts inwhich there shall not be this tendency to sin, and so the deep-seated sinfulness of our nature shall be overcome.
Next to that, inasmuch as the guiltiness of sin is as permanent as sin itself, Jesus Christ is able to take our guilt away.His dying upon the Cross is the means by which the filthiest sinner out of Hell can be made white as the angels of God, andthat, too, in a single instant! You understand the doctrine of the Atonement, but let me sound it in your ears again. Sinis a thing which God must punish-the eternal laws of the universe demand that there shall never be an offense committed againstthe rules of God which shall escape without a penalty. The penalty of sin is death and God has never seen fit to mitigatethis-its justice makes it perpetual.
The Lord has been pleased to open a way of mercy by sending His only begotten Son into this world as our Substitute. He becameMan and He suffered for His people what they ought to have suffered. He endured at the hand of God what all the redeemed oughtto have endured. Now, God, at this day, never pardons a sin without having first punished it-punished it on Christ for us.God never punishes the man for whom Christ died, but all besides must bear their iniquity. If you believe in Jesus Christ,then Jesus Christ died for you and God cannot put two to death for one offense, nor can He ask for payment twice for one debt-youare therefore free. Christ paid the debts of all His people and obtained their full discharge when He rose again from thedead. And now every soul that believes in Him is clear at the bar of Divine Justice, because it is written, "Who is he thatcondemns? It is Christ that died." "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanses us from all sin."
See then, my Brothers and Sisters, Jesus Christ can take away the deeply-engraved inscription of our sin and can remove thehorrible stains of our iniquity-justly remove them through what He has suffered on our behalf! The Holy Spirit also comesin-the new nature being given and sin being forgiven, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us-as a Prince in His palace, asa God in His temple. Oh, wondrous mystery, that God should dwell in a human heart! He who fills Heaven and earth-whom allworlds cannot comprehend! He, before whom angels bow with veiled faces, deigns to make Himself a habitation within the bodyof the man that trusts in Him! If you are now relying alone on Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit is in you this morning,and, being there, He controls your passions-passions which otherwise would master you.
He rules your will, a stubborn thing, like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke! He guides your affections, wandering things,like wild asses of the desert not to be tamed. He sits, this day, within your soul as God's lieutenant in the kingdom of yourhumanity-ruling, preventing, directing-and making you meet to be partaker of the inheritance ofthe saints in light. Do I hear any say, "Then, I would to God that I may experience the Divine process-the new nature givenwhich is regeneration-the washing away of sin which constitutes pardon and justification, and the indwelling of the Holy Spiritwhich insures final perseverance and complete sanctification. Oh, how can I have these precious things"?
You may have them, whoever you may be, by simply believing in Jesus. Does it seem too simple? Try, and you will find it effectual.The most potent remedies for disease are not always the most elaborate-the simplest may often be the most effectual. I tellyou, you who gad about after your ceremonies, and repentance, and tears-you will never get in all these that which you canhave by simply coming to Jesus and trusting in Him! Now have done with your own doings! Cast yourself on Him who has doneeverything for you! Spin no more, but take the raiment already woven! Work no more, but take the ransom already paid!
Strive no more in your own energy after the works of the Law, but take the great accomplished work which Jesus Christ hasperformed! Believe and live! These are the words which God emblazons across the brow of Truth-which I would gladly write acrossthe brow of Heaven itself-which I would gladly have thunder out of every wave, whispered by every gale, and spoken by everybreath of air!-BELIEVE AND LIVE!-Trust Christ and live! The remedy will meet the disease-this heavenly chisel will cut outthe diamond-worked inscription! This hammer which Christ wields will dash to pieces the granite upon which the pen of ironhas written your sin. Trust in the Lord to save you and you shall yet be made as Adam was at the first-in the image of God!And you shall stand before the Eternal Throne, among the white- robed, pure as they! You shall stand among the celestialsas heavenly as they, and near to God, even made a partaker of the Divine Nature, "having escaped the corruption which is inthe world through lust." God bless you, for Christ's sake!