Sermon 898. A Word with those who Wait for Signs and Wonders
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, OCTOBER 31, 1869, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"This is an evil generation: they seek a sign."- Luke 11:29.
READING the Old Testament we observe that the Lord, in the olden times, condescendingly gave signs to His servants when Hesaw that it would be for their good. Moses, when he was called to undertake the great work of bringing the chosen people upout of Egypt and conducting them into the promised land, had a sign given him by which to assure him that he was truly calledof God. He put his hand into his bosom and when he took it out it was leprous, white as snow. He thrust it into his bosomagain and again removed it and, lo, it was whole as the other! He cast his rod upon the earth and the rod became a serpent,and when he took it by the tail, it stiffened into a rod again.
So also in the case of Gideon, when he was commanded to go against the Midianite oppressors of Israel, you remember how hisfleece was wet when all around was dry. And how the sign was reversed and when all around was saturated with moisture, thefleece was dry. In the cases of holy men favored with signs, there was faith. There was a real desire for more faith and awilling obedience to God. But the work to which the men were called was peculiar, difficult and even superhuman! And the fleshbeing but weak, God in infinite tenderness to the weakness of His servants, gave them signs and wonders that they might bestrengthened.
Doubtless, if again there should come a necessity for signs to any of God's servants, such tokens would be given them. Ifthere should ever be a time when it was not possible for Christians to walk by faith alone, or when it would be more to thehonor of God that their confidence should be somewhat assisted by marvels and tokens, then would God go out of the ordinaryway once again and His people should receive miraculous seals. If it were utterly impossible for the anxious and truly penitentspirit to find rest without a sign, I believe the sign would be given. I also believe that in no case is such a thing at allnecessary under the present Gospel dispensation which is so enriched with the most plain evidence, and that to add more wouldbe to hold a candle to the sun, or pour water into the ocean.
In addition to this first remark, let us add that signs have been given and yet have not worked faith in those who have seenthem, and there is no necessary connection between seeing signs and believing that which the signs attest. Israel in the wildernesssaw great marvels worked by the Lord their God and yet perished in unbelief. Pharaoh is a still more notable instance-whatsigns and wonders God worked in the fields of Zoan! How was the Nile crimsoned into blood and all Egypt filled with lamentation!The Lord turned the dust of the land into lice and the ashes into plagues! He brought up frogs into their chambers and locustsdevoured their fields. He darkened the heavens at midday and deluged them with hail and rain such as the land had never seenbefore!
A grievous disease fell upon their cattle and death upon their firstborn-yet all the wonders which God worked did not softenPharaoh's heart and, though, for awhile he trembled, yet again he steeled himself against the God of Israel and said, "Whois the Lord, that I should obey His voice?" My Hearers, if you do not believe Moses and the Prophets. If you do not believein Jesus Christ with the testimonies which are already before you, neither would you believe though one rose from the dead,or though all the plagues of Egypt should be repeated upon you with tenfold fury! There is no necessary connection betweenthe seeing of wonders and the believing in God! We learn clearly from Pharaoh's case and from many others that all the displaysof wonderful power, either of judgment or of mercy, do not beget faith in unbelieving hearts.
I come, this morning, to deal with a class of persons very commonly still among us-exceedingly common in all congregationswhere the Gospel its faithfully preached-whom I shall attempt to describe, in the first place, and then go on to deal withthem as God shall help me.
I. First, then, I shall ask your attention while I DESCRIBE THE PERSONS who are an evil generation that seek after a sign.We have among us many individuals who are aware that they are sinners and are conscious of their guilt to such an extent asto be very uneasy as to their condition. They dearly perceive that sin will be punished by the Great Judge and they are muchafraid of the wrath to come. They anxiously desire, moreover, to find salvation, and, having long listened to the Gospel,they are not ignorant of the way in which salvation is obtained. They understand the Gospel in the letter of it to the highestdegree.
They are not unbelievers in any of the doctrines of the Gospel. They accept the Deity of Christ. They believe Him to be verilythe Son of God. They believe that He died upon the Cross and offered Atonement for iniquity. They, moreover, know that thisatone-merit is effectual for the putting away of transgressions and they are persuaded that if they had an interest in it,it would wash away their sins and would give them peace of mind. You will say to me, "Knowing all this, of course they areBelievers in Christ." No, they are not. We are very hopeful of them but we are, at the same time, much alarmed about them.
They are not Believers, for they willfully persist in demanding some sign or wonder within themselves, or around themselves,before they will personally put their trust in the Lord Jesus. Having been taught all they have been taught and acceptingfor the Truth of God all that they do accept, the logical inference would be that they trust in Christ and are saved-but illogicalas their state is they still remain unbelievers, with all this belief about them-and they justify their remaining in unbeliefby telling you that if they felt this, or if they saw that, or if this happened, or if the other thing occurred, then theywould believe in Jesus, but not until then! They make different demands. There are some, and these are generally the mostuneducated, who expect to experience remarkable dreams or to behold singular visions.
I am sometimes astonished that there should linger among our population, still, a notion that a certain kind of dream, especiallyif it is repeated a number of times and if it is so vivid as to remain upon the imagination for a long period, is an indexof the Divine favor. Nothing can be more grossly untrue! Nothing can be more baseless and without the shadow of evidence toback it up! And yet many imagine that if they, I was about to say, suffered so grievously from indigestion that their sleepwas spoiled by vivid dreams, then they could put their trust in Jesus Christ! The notion is so absurd, that if it is but mentionedto rational men they must ridicule it and yet I have known many who have been, and still are, slaves to this delusion!
Not very long ago, after preaching in a remote country village, I was earnestly sought for as a spiritual adviser by an importunateletter from a woman who ascribed to me much greater wisdom than I ever claimed to possess. I wondered what her spiritual difficultywas, and when I went to her house and found her very sick, I was saddened to find her the victim of a superstition in which,I fear, her minister had comforted and so confirmed her. She solemnly informed me that she had seen something standing atnight at the foot of her bed. She was in hopes that it was our blessed Lord, but she could not see his head. As I knew somuch of spiritual things, could I tell her who it was? I said I thought she must have hung up her dress on a peg on the wallat the foot of her bed and in the dark had mistaken it for an apparition.
Of course, that did not satisfy her. I fell at once in her estimation to the dead level of a very carnal-minded man, if nota scoffer, but I could not help it-I could not dally with such ridiculous superstition-I was obliged to tell her it was allnonsense for her to hope for salvation because she was silly enough to fancy that she saw Jesus with her bodily eyes, forthe saving sight was a spiritual one. As to the question of the supposed apparition having a head or not, I told her if shewould but use her own head and heart in meditating upon the Word of God, she would be in a far more hopeful condition.
There may have been, I will not deny it-for stranger things have happened-there may have been dreams and even apparitionswhich have aroused the conscience and so led to the commencement of spiritual life in some rare cases where God has chosenspecially to interfere. But that these are to be looked for and to be expected is a thing as far from the Truth of God asthe east is from the west! What if you did see anything-or dream anything-what would that prove? Why, prove nothing whateverexcept that you were in an ill state of health and that your imagination was morbidly active. Put such things away-they aresuperstitions fit for Bushmen and Hottentots-but they are not fit for Christians of the 19th Century! I do but mention them,not because I think any of you may have fallen into them, but that you may deal with them always very rigidly wherever youmeet with them.
They are superstitions not to be tolerated by Christian men, yet there are some who actually will not believe Christ's simpleGospel unless some such absurdity as this can be joined into it. God deliver you from such unbelief! Others we have met withwho suppose that in order to be saved they must feel some very peculiar physical sensation. Now, that joy and peace of mindand the discovery of the Gospel when it for the first time flashes on the mind may produce extraordinary sensations in thebody through the force of mental emotion, I do not doubt. But do, I pray you, remember that the Divine Grace of our Lord JesusChrist has nothing to do with nerves and muscles and sinew and things to be seen and to be felt in the flesh. The operationsof Grace are a mental, spiritual, work!
My dear Hearers, you must never imagine, when we talk about the heart, that we mean that central organ within us from whichthe blood circulates. We mean nothing which has to do with this fleshly organization-the work of the Holy Spirit concernsitself with the mind, the affections, the soul, the spirit, and His work is altogether spiritual. God forbid that you shouldlook for any physical work, or strange affection of nerve and sinew, as some have talked of and others have looked for. Youmust not put physical contortions or sensations as a test before the Lord and say you will not believe in Him otherwise. These,I hope, are rare cases, but in very frequent instances I have met with people who will not believe in Jesus Christ to thesalvation of their souls because they have not felt wretched enough.
They have read in certain books of holy men who, when they were seeking a Savior, were broken in pieces under the ponderoushammer of the Law. They turn to such biographies and they find the subjects of them uttering language similar to the bookof Job, or to the words of Jeremy in the Lamentations. Now these were good and holy men and the way by which they were ledto Christ was a way trod by many feet, but these persons say, "Unless I can feel just this. Unless I can be led into despair.Unless I can be tempted to destroy myself. Unless I become so desponding that I am more fit for a lunatic asylum than to bein my own family, I cannot believe in Jesus Christ."
Ah, poor demented one, to desire misery and to make your own wretchedness and even your own unbelieving and wicked thoughtsof God to be a kind of preparation for faith in Jesus Christ! It is a most insanely wicked thing and yet many, many, manypersist in unbelief because they think they are not yet wretched enough! Running to the other extreme, I have met with otherswho would not simply trust Christ because they were not happy enough. They have heard of the Christian's joys and the peace,like a river, that evermore abides, and they have said, "If I could get this peace. If this deep calm ruled in my spirit,then I could believe." As much as to say, "If I saw the wheat full grown in the fields of my soul, then I would begin to sow"-whereasthe sowing must precede the reaping! "If I had within me the flower in all its beauty and bloom, then I would begin to plantthe root"-whereas the root must always precede the flower!
Peace of mind is the result of faith, but it demands that it shall be the result of faith before you can exercise faith. Intruth, they come to God and ask for the wages before the work is begun! They demand peace before they will believe! Believeme, if any of you thus act willfully and strangely, you must not suppose that God will turn aside from His wise proceedingsto gratify your whims. Ah, no! You may tempt the Lord, but He is not tempted of any man. What folly it is and yet folly asit is, how common is it on all sides! I have met with some who would not believe in Christ because they could not pray eloquently."Oh," they have said, "if I could pray like So-and-So, to whom we have listened with the greatest pleasure at the Prayer Meetings,then I could put my trust in Christ and there would be some hope for me!"
Now, praying fluently is sometimes only the result of oratorical gifts and if you will never believe in Christ till you getoratorical gifts, then how foolish you are to shut yourself out from Heaven because you cannot play the orator! Because youcannot be a preacher, do you refuse to be a child of God? True, fluency in prayer may also be the result of great depth ofpiety, but do you expect to have a great depth of piety before you even have the beginning of Divine Grace in your soul? Beforeyou will put your trust in Christ and become a babe in His family, you claim you must be a man six feet tall? Before you willlearn the "A B C" of the language of Canaan, you declare that you must be able to sound its very hardest syllables and pronounceits most difficult sentences? That which is frequently the result of years of training and long habit of deep, solitary contemplation,you expect to leap into at once, or else you refuse to be saved?
O Madness, to what height will you not mount?! I have known others who must feel precisely like certain eminent saints havefelt many years after their conversion, or else they cannot believe that they are saved. They will reach down the life ofsome holy man who had mastered his passions by long years of mortification-who had come to live near to God and whose lifewas the heavenly life on earth, and they will mentally vow-"I must be just like this man, or else I cannot believe in Jesus."They say, in fact, to the Heavenly Physician, "I am sick and ready to die, but, Good Physician,
You must make me as strong as Samson at once, and on the spot, or else I will not receive Your medicine"-just as if the perfectspiritual cure of the soul were not a lifelong work of Grace!
They expect to be made perfect in an instant, or they will not trust the ever faithful Savior. They look for the mature fruitsof autumn in the early spring and even if they bear even so much as a bud or blossom, they must have the full ripe fruit orelse they will not believe. Well, this is marvelous and truly, if there is anything amazing on earth beside the mercy of Godit is the perversity of man, and the strange way in which unbelief will dare impudently to set up one demand after anotheras an excuse for rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have met this mischief at other times in a somewhat indescribable shape. "Sir," says the young convert, "you tell me thatif I simply put my trust in Jesus I shall be saved. But is not salvation a great mystery?" Our reply must honestly be, "Nodoubt it is." Well, then, they determine to wait until they are the subjects of some singular feeling, some mysterious phenomenonwithin themselves. It is not to be denied that the work of Divine Grace by the Holy Spirit in the soul is the greatest ofall mysteries, but it is never, also, to be forgotten that it is one of the grandest of all simplicities! The mysteries ofthe church of Rome are mock mysteries rendered dark by the veil which she casts over the Truth of God. By her incantations,her paraphernalia, her performances and her use of a strange tongue, that which is simple is darkened into a mimic mystery-forwhat is really in it is a plain lie for thoughtful men to laugh at!
This is a kind of mystery of which the Gospel knows nothing. The mysteries of regeneration are not artificial, but natural.Now all natural mysteries in the world are, from another point of view, clear simplicities. Light, we know what it is, wesee it every day. It is the greatest of all mysteries, yet practically it is the most common of all simplicities. When thesun scatters the darkness, there is no mystery about it. Or when we light a candle, there is no need of wonder. Light is awondrous mystery, yet to obtain it, the least educated need not go to school. The electric telegraph is practically, as amatter of every day use, so simplified that a lad may officiate at the instrument and yet it remains and ever will remaina mystery.
Understand that such is the mystery of regeneration. It is so mysterious that no one can explain it, but it is so simple thateveryone that believes in Christ has experienced it already! It is so mysterious that if the most learned authors were composedto define it, all the writers in the world might fail in the definition. But it is such a simplicity that whoever believesin Jesus Christ is born of God. There is nothing mysterious about it, I was about to say, in the artificial meaning of thatword "mystery." The only mystery lies in the operation of the Holy Spirit whose coming and going we cannot comprehend. Ifyou believe, you have felt the mystery! If you trust Jesus, you possess the mystery! All that is meant in regeneration, allthat is wrapped up in the work of the Holy Spirit actually belongs to every soul that has believed in Jesus Christ and inHim only!
But I know what it is, you will go to Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, but you will not come to the blood of Christand wash and be clean! You will say, "I thought he would surely come and strike his hand over the place and call upon thename of the Lord his God and recover the leper," but you cannot accept the simple word, "Believe and live," so grand in itssimplicity. The most of men reject the Gospel for that very reason of its simplicity. Signs and wonders they will still demand-somethingartificially mysterious their soul still craves after-but the naked grandeur of the sublime mystery of faith they cannot perceive.Their folly is clear enough to all men that have eyes.
I have just described the character and if any have felt themselves portrayed this morning, I hope they will prepare theirhearts for what will follow and be willing to receive my Master's Word.
II. I shall now, secondly, show THE FOLLY OF SUCH CONDUCT. My dear Friend, I get you by the hand and look you in the face,anxiously desiring, as I do, that you may be saved this very morning. You are seeking a sign, one of these which I have described,or some other. You seek what is quite unnecessary. What do you need a sign for? You need, you say, a token of God's love.What token of God's love to you can ever be needed, now that He has given His only-begotten Son-first to live on earth andthen to die in extreme pains, the Just for the unjust-"that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlastinglife"?
I blush for you, that you should ask any token of God's love while Jesus Christ is before you-for herein is such love as nothingelse can ever equal! What do you need a sign for? Why, to show, you say, that there is mercy for you. How do you need that?The very fact that you are alive shows how merciful God is! Had He been unmerciful, He would long ago have cut you down, forwhat are you but a cumberer of the ground, with your heart full of evil devices at this very
moment, at enmity against Him? I know you are so, or otherwise you would not be so hard to lead to faith, yet are you sparedby His mercy! Is not that proof enough?
And, moreover, the Gospel is preached to you. You are told that, "he that believes and is baptized shall be saved." He mustbe a good God who lets you hear such a Gospel and who bids me plead with you, as though Christ pleaded with you, that youwould lay hold of Him. Why, the Gospel itself is the greatest of signs and wonders! Why do you need more that that? "Oh,"you say, "can the Gospel save me?" My dear Friend, you do not need any sign to prove that! You have your own relatives, yourown sons and daughters who have been saved. You are a witness to what Divine Grace has done for them-what more evidence canyou require? Remember the dying bed of your sainted mother! Remember the joyous departure of your brother, or your convertedchild! Evidently Grace did wonders for them. What more do you need to convince you?
Mark you, if you did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. If you did not believe that His blood could cleanse from sin,I might talk somewhat differently to you. But you do believe all this and I say, in the name of all that is reasonable, whatmakes you ask for any greater sign than the signs which God has already given you? You are seeking for altogether unnecessarythings! You are also asking for useless signs. What evidence could there be now, for instance, in mere dejection of spirit?You want to feel miserable, you say-what evidence would that be of your salvation? It seems to me that you are like a manwho should say that he would catch hold of a rope if he could sink so many fathoms deeper in the ocean, or that he would availhimself of a hospital if his disease were so much worse. How strange that a rational man should talk like this!
Despair is no help to faith. Sinful doubts cannot assist you to Christ-they may most effectually keep you from
"Why those fears, poor trembling Sinner? Why those anxious, gloomy fears? Doubts and fears can never sa ve you, Life is neverwon by tears! 'Tis believing,
Which the soul to Christ endears. Tears, though flowing like a river, Never can one sin efface. Jesus' tears would not availyou- Blood alone can meet your case. Fly to Jesus!
Life is found in His embrace."
"Oh," but you say, "I have desired to feel ecstatic joy!" But if you did, how could that help you to believe in Christ? Yourjoy might be no more than worldlings feel when their wealth increases. It might spring of mere excitement. It might all bebased upon a lie and your joy might be your damnation! O Man, Christ is worthy of confidence, but your joys and your sorrowsare not! They may be good or they may be bad, they may be hopeful or they may be delusive. Why do you look at them, or seekanother foundation than God has laid? Your feelings are fickle things. Believe and live!
Are you not also seeking most unreasonable things? To ask a sign from God when He pledges His Word seems to me to be out ofall reason. You are a beggar, remember, and we have an old proverb that beggars must not be choosers. Above all, how darea beggar demand a sign before he will receive an alms? I am walking in the street and am accosted by a hungry man and if Ioffer him a loaf of bread, is he to refuse to take it unless I will fly in the air or help him to turn a stone into bread?"Let the man starve, Sir," you will say, "if he is so unreasonable as to demand a sign." And yet that is just like you! Youwill not take the mercy which the Gospel freely offers you, which God even commands you to accept- you will not take it unlesssome astonishing sign or wonder shall be worked in you!
Let your folly appear still further when I remind you that you are asking for unpromised signs. God has promised that everyonethat believes in Jesus Christ shall live. He has promised to hear prayer. But He has never promised to give any one of youa sign or a wonder! And yet you will ask Him to give you a sign which He has never promised and dare not ask Him to give youeternal life which He has promised? Folly indeed! Some of you are seeking for injurious signs. That depression of spirit whichsome think would be such an encouragement to them, why it is even sinful! And how should I
ask a sinful thing of God? To be distracted in my mind. To be so depressed and melancholy as to make myself and all my householdmiserable-is that a good thing? It is a great sin against God! And am I to ask God to give me this sign in order to help meto believe?
Thoughts of suicide! Why, my Brothers and Sisters, they are awful-they are not to be allowed! There is murder in them! Hethat even thinks of them has committed murder already in his heart! And are these terrible, these devilish things, to be helpsto you to believe? Why, they would just drive you into Hell! How can they help you to Heaven? You are asking for that whichwould be your ruin. You ask for a scorpion. You ask for a stone. You ask for a serpent and then you think that after havingall these evil things you would be more fit to receive the bread of the Divine blessing? God will deny you, I trust, whatyou so foolishly ask for. Oh, be content to be led in a gentler way! Be willing to be blown to Christ by the soft south wind-asknot for tempests! Be satisfied to be drawn by the cords of love! Demand not by the bands of a man-demand not whips and chains!Enquire not for the thunder and lightning of Sinai-be satisfied with the turtle-notes of Calvary-
"Hark! the voice of Jesus calling, 'Come, you laden, come to Me, I have rest and peace to offer Rest, poor laboring one, foryou. Take salvation, Take it now and happy be.' Life is found alone in Jesus, Only there 'tis offered you- Offered withoutprice or money, 'Tis the gift of God sent free! Take salvation, Take it now and happy be."
Remember, my dear Hearers, that some of you who are not believing are seeking signs which others have never had. To give youan instance or two. There stood the prodigal son feeding the swine, so hungry that he would gladly have filled his belly withthe husks. The thought crossed his mind, "I will arise and go unto my father." What sign had he? He sets off to seek his father'sface. What sign had he, I say? There does not appear to have been even an invitation sent, but he sought his father and hefound forgiveness. Take another case. Christ has likened seeking souls to the widow who sought help of the unjust judge. Shecried to him. She continued to cry to him until she gained her suit! But what sign had she? If any sign, it was all negative-allfrom the opposite quarter-yet on she went.
Look at the Canaanite woman. She desired that her daughter might be healed. What sign had she? Christ said, "It is not meetto take the children's bread and cast it to dogs." Instead of a sign to help her it was a hard word to discourage her, butyet she won her suit! And why not you, my Hearers, why not you? The poor woman who touched the hem of Christ's garment inthe press of the crowd, what sign had she of His willingness to help her? It was her own earnest, intense desire and her faithin Jesus that made her touch the hem out of which the virtue came. Wait not, then, for signs to be given to you when theyhave not been given to others, but do as others have done and obtain the like blessing.
III. I shall now need a few minutes more and your very serious attention, while I now LAY BARE YOUR SINS, your grievous sins.My dear Hearers, in the first place, you make God a liar. Is not this the testimony of the Holy Spirit, "he that believesnot has made God a liar"? How do we treat liars? If they tell us a thing, we say, "I am doubtful of it." We need more evidence.Now, I feel persuaded that many of you respect even me so well that if I made a statement you would accept it without anyfurther evidence.
But here is the Everlasting God who declares that whoever trusts His Son shall be saved and you practically give Him the lie-forif you believed what He testifies, since you want to be saved-you would surely trust His Son! But you practically say, "Wedo not believe it. We do not believe it! We need more evidence. We need a sign and a wonder." You make God a liar. In thenext place, you insult God's Sovereignty. He has a right to give signs or not, as He wills, but you, as it were, say, "Youshall give me a sign or else I will be damned. I will not have Your mercy if I cannot have it in my own way. Great God, Iwill not be saved unless I can feel as I want to feel. I have a whim in my mind as to how the work of Grace shall be worked,and if it begins not as I think best, I will sooner make my bed in Hell than accept Your Son."
Is the preacher too hard on you? Ah, it is love that makes me hard! In truth, it is you who are hard with GOD! And hard withyour own souls. O fling away this accursed pride of yours and kiss His silver scepter and say, "Lord, save me as You will.I believe, help You my unbelief." I must tell you what is more-you are acting the part of an idolater. What does an idolaterdo? He says, "I cannot believe in an unseen God. I must have a golden calf or an image that I can see with my eyes and touchwith my hands." You say just the same. You cannot believe God's naked Word-you demand something you can feel, something youcan see. Sheer idolatry!
Do you not see it? You make your own feelings and emotions, or strange impressions, to be more worthy of trust than even GodHimself! You make them idols and put them into God's place. You, so far as you can, undiefy the Deity. O tremble at such acrime as this! Do you not see, moreover, that you crucify the Savior? Those who nailed His hands to the tree were not greatersinners, even if they were so great, as you are who say to Him, "Bleeding Savior, I believe that You have died on the Cross.I believe that Your blood could cleanse my sin, but I cannot trust You to do it. I have no confidence in You. I cannot, willnot trust You. I trust my husband, but I cannot trust my Savior. I trust my child, but I cannot trust my God. I trust my minister,but I cannot trust the Son of God exalted in the highest heavens."
Why, this is crucifying Him-this is treating Him as a dog should be treated! I know not what can be worse than this! Nailsin His hands are not more cruel than this mistrust of His deep love and His Divine power. "Ah," says one, "I do not mean that,but I need to see the work of the Holy Spirit in my soul." Ah, then, I have another charge to bring against you-you are wantingto trust in the work of the Holy Spirit instead of trusting in the work of Jesus Christ! There is no text in all the Biblewhich tells you to make the work of the Holy Spirit the foundation of your confidence! Nowhere is it set forth as the groundfor a sinner's reliance! It occupies quite another place. If you try to put the work of the Spirit where the work of Christshould be, you grieve the Holy Spirit, for the very last thing that ever the Holy Spirit would do would be to supplant theLamb of God!
It is His office and mission to glorify Christ! How, then, shall He supplant Him? When you say, "I cannot trust the blood,I cannot trust the righteousness of Christ. I must have something from the Holy Spirit to trust to," you do, as it were, tryto make a clash between the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of Christ-and this grieves the Spirit to the last degree.
IV. Ah, I have thought over this subject carefully and I have tried to speak upon it earnestly, but I am conscious when Ihave done my best that you will go on in this folly and continue still in this sin. Yet I do pray the Holy Spirit that itmay not be so, for now during the last few minutes I desire to show YOU YOUR DANGER as I have shown you your folly and sin.My dear Friends, you are in danger of death! You admit that, and now, suppose you die in the state you are in? Why, you arealmost saved! You are awakened, you are aroused, you have many good desires, but a man who is only almost saved will be altogetherdamned!
There was a householder who almost bolted his door at night, but the thief came in. A prisoner was condemned to be hangedand was almost pardoned, but he hung on the gallows. A ship was almost saved from shipwreck, but she went to the bottom withall hands on board. A fire was almost extinguished, but it consumed a city. A man almost decided remains to perish in theflames of Hell! So is it with you unless you believe! All these things which you possess of good desire and emotion shallbe of no service to you at all, for, "he that believes not shall be damned." Remember, Friend, you may be damned before thesun goes down today-the flames of Hell may enclose you before the sun shall gild another morning with his light.
O seek the Savior now while the Gospel message comes with fresh power on this Lord's-Day! "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christand you shall be saved," for, "he that believes and is baptized shall be saved."-
"Soon that voice will cease its calling,
Now it speaks and speaks to you-
Sinner, heed the gracious message,
To the blood for refuge flee!
Take it now and happy be."
There is one other thing of which you are in danger, namely, that if you are spared for years to come, yet, through long procrastinationyour conscience may become seared as with a hot iron. If you believe this day, whatever you may have
been, your sins are all forgiven you in a moment. If you do now look to Christ upon Calvary and trust your soul with Him,you shall now live, for-
"There is life in a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment for you." But if you will look to your good works, to your preparations, to your fears, to yourjoys-if, indeed-you look to anything but Christ, it may be the Holy Spirit will never strive with you again-your consciencewill become hardened and you, being given up to your idols, will perish, utterly perish, under the sound of the Gospel-perishwith the light of the Gospel shining on your eyeballs! Perish of the serpent bite while the bronze serpent is lifted high!Perish of thirst when the Water of Life runs rippling at your feet because you are not content to stoop down and take it asGod presents it to you! O that you would this very day end these follies and these sins, believing in Jesus Christ throughthe power of the Holy Spirit!-
"Jesus, the eternal Son of God, Whom seraphim obey, The bosom of the Father lea ves And enters human clay."
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Luke 11:14-44.