Sermon 1010. Light for Those Who Sit in Darkness
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, September 10, 1871, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the peoplewhich sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up,"-Matthew 4:15-16.
FULL OF LOVE to the place where he had been brought up, our Lord had gone to Nazareth, and in the Synagogue he had preachedthe gladdest tidings; but, alas, the greatest of prophets end the Lord of prophets, received no honor in his own country."He came unto his own and his own received him not." Expelled the city by violence, the patient one turned his footsteps anotherway, yet, even when justly angry, love guided his footsteps. He must go for the Nazarenes had provedthemselves unworthy, but whither shall he go? He will go to the outcasts, to that part of his country which was most neglected,to that region where the population was mixed and degenerate so as to be called, not Galilee of the Jews, but Galilee of theGentiles, where from distance from Jerusalem little was known of the worship of the temple, where error was rampant, wheremen's minds were enveloped in darkness, and their hearts in the gloom of deathshade. The loss of Nazareth shall be the gainof Galilee. Even his judgment upon a place is overruled in mercy, and even thus to day there are some in this house whohave often had Jesus preached to them from their very childhood, but until this hour they have refused obedience to the gospel'scommand. What if he should now turn away from them; I pray he may not have done so already. Yet, in turning away from them,he will deal with others in mercy. As the casting away of the Jews was the salvation of the Gentiles, so the leaving of theseprivileged ones shall open a door of mercy and hope to those who have not enjoyed the privilege aforetime. To you whoare not familiar with the gospel sound, to you who count yourselves more unworthy than the rest of mankind, to you despondingand despairing ones who write bitter things against yourselves, to you is the gospel sent. As aforetime, the Lord preachedto Zabulon and Nephthalim, and the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, even so is he this day proclaimed among you.
From the text it appears that some are in greater darkness than others; and that, secondly, for such there is a hope of light; but that, thirdly, the light which will come to them lies all in Christ; and, fourthly (joyful news!) that light is already sprung up all around them: they have but to open their eyes to delight in it.
I. SOME SOULS ARE IN GREATER DARKNESS THAN OTHERS. It appears from the text that it was so in Christ's days, and certainlyit is so now. Divine sovereignty runs through all God's dealings. He does not even distribute the privilege of hearing thegospel to all alike, for some lands are as yet untrodden by the missionary's foot, while here at the corner of all our streetsthe gospel is preached to us. Some, from the very circumstances of their birth and parentage, have neverattended the worship of God, while others, even before they had the discretion to choose, were carried in their parents'arms to the place where prayer is wont to be made. God distributeth his grace and privileges even as he wills.
In the text, those persons who were more deplorably circumstanced than others are described first as being in darkness-"The people that sat in darkness;" by which is meant, first, ignorance. The Galileans were notoriously ignorant: few teachers of the law had been among them; they did not know even the letter ofthe law. So are there many, to whom the gospel, even in the theory of it, is a thing scarcely known. They may have gone toplaces of worship inthis country from their youth up, and have never heard the gospel, for the gospel is a rare thing in some synagogues;you shall hear philosophy, you shall hear ceremonialism and sacramentarianism cried up, but the blessed truth, "Believe, andlive," is kept in the background, so that men may come to full age, ay, and even to old age, in Christian England, and yetthe plan of salvation by the righteousness of Jesus Christ may be an unknown thing to them. They sit in the darkness of ignorance.
The consequence is, that another darkness follows, the darkness of error. Men who know not the truth, since they must have some faith, seek out many inventions; for, if they are not taught of God,they soon become taught of Satan, and apt scholars are they in his school. Galilee was noted for the heresies which aboundedthere. But what a mercy it is that God can save heretics. Those who have received false doctrine, and added darkness to darknessin so doing, canyet be brought into the glorious light of truth. Though they may have denied the Deity of Christ, though they may havedoubted the inspiration of Scripture, though they may have fallen into many traps and pitfalls of false doctrine, yet theDivine Shepherd, when he seeks his lost sheep, can find them out and bring them home again.
In consequence of being in the darkness of ignorance and error, these people were wrapt in the gloom of discomfort and sorrow. Darkness is an expressive type of sorrow. The mind that knows not God, knows not the heart's best rest. There is no solacefor our griefs like the gospel of Jesus Christ, and those who are ignorant of it are tossed about upon a stormy sea, withoutan anchorage. Glory be to God; when sorrow has brought on a midnight, grace can transform itinto noon.
This darkness of sorrow was no doubt attended with much fear. We love not darkness because we cannot see what is before us, and therefore we are alarmed by imaginary dangers; and, inthe same way, those who are ignorant of the light of Christ will frequently be the victims of superstitious dread; ay, andtrue and well founded fears will arise too, for they will dread death, and the bar of God, and the sentence of justice. Believeme, there is no darkness so black asthe horror which surrounds many an awakened conscience when it sees its ruin, but cannot find a Savior; feels its sin,and cannot see the way by which it may be expiated.
Here, then, we have considered one part of this sad condition; perhaps it describes some of you.
It is said next that they "sat in darkness." Matthew did not quote from Isaiah correctly; I think he purposely alters it. Isaiah speaks, in his ninth chapter,of a people that "walked in darkness;" but here the evangelist speaks of a people who "sat in darkness." That is a state of less hopefulness. The man who walks is active, he has some energy left, and may reach abrighter spot; but a man sitting down is inactive, and will probably abide where heis. "The people that sat in darkness"-as if they had been there a long while, and would be there longer yet. They satas though they had been turned to stone. They "sat in darkness," probably through despair; they had, after a fashion, strivenfor the light, but had not found it, and so they gave up all hope. Their disappointed hearts told them that they might aswell spare those fruitless efforts, and therefore down they sat with the stolidity of hopelessness. Why should they make anymoreexertion? If God would not hear their prayers, why should they pray any longer? Being ignorant of his abounding grace,and of the way of salvation by his Son, they considered themselves as consigned to perdition. They "sat in darkness." Perhapsthey sat there so long that they reached a state of insensibility and indifference, and this is a horrible condition of heart;but, alas! a very common one. They said, "What matters it, since there is no hope for us? Let it be as fate appoints, we willsit still, we will neither cry nor pray." How many have I met with who are not only thus in darkness, but are half-contentto dare the terrible future, and sullenly to wait till the storm-cloud of wrath shall burst over them. It is a most sad andwretched condition, but what a blessing it is that this day we have a gospel to preach to such.
Our description is not complete, for the text goes on to speak of them as sitting "in the region of death;" that is to say, these people lived in a territory that appeared to be ruled by death, and to be death's hauntand natural abode. Many at this time, and in this City, are truly living in the domain of spiritual death. All around themis death. If they have stepped into this house this morning, their position is an exception to their general one. They willgohome to a Sabbath-breaking household; they hear habitually oaths, profane language, and lascivious songs; and thus theybreathe the reek of the charnel-house. If they have a good thought, it is ridiculed by those about them. They dwell as amongthe tombs, with men whose mouths are open sepulchres, pouring forth all manner of offensiveness. How sad a condition! It seemsto such poor souls, perhaps, being now a little awakened, that everything about them is prophetic of death. They are afraidtotake a step lest the earth should open a door to the bottomless pit. I remember well, when I was under conviction, howall the world seemed in league against me, the beasts of the field and the stones thereof. I wondered then the heavens couldrefrain from falling upon me, or the earth from opening her mouth to swallow me up. I was under sentence of divine wrath,and felt as if I were in a condemned cell, and all creation were but the walls of my dungeon. "They sat in the region of death."
But it is added that they sat "in the shadow of death;" that is, under its cold, poisonous, depressing shade; as though grim death stood over them in all they did, and his shadowkept from them the light of heaven. They are sitting there this morning: they are saying to themselves, "Preach, sir, as youmay, you will never comfort me: you may tell me of love and mercy, but I shall never be cheered thereby: I am chilled throughmy very marrow, as though the frost ofdeath had smitten me: I am unable now to hope, or even to pray, even my desires are all but dead. Like a frozen corpseis my soul."
And it is implied, too, that to such death itself is very near, for those who are in the shadow of a thing are near to thething itself; and the sinner, bewildered and amazed at the guilt of his sin, is only sure of one thing, and that is, thathe is in immediate danger of being cast into hell. I have known some afraid to shut their eyes at night, lest they shouldopen them in torments; others have been afraid to go to their beds, lest their couch should become theircoffin; they have not known what to do, by reason of depression of spirit. Job's language has been theirs, "My soul isweary of my life." It is clear to me that the description of the text very accurately pictures many of the sons of men. Ipray God that none of you poor darkened souls may be so foolish as to try to exclude yourself from it, though such is theperversity of despondency that I greatly fear you may do so. However small we make the meshes of the gospel net, there arecertainlittle fish that will find a way of escaping from its blessed toils, though we try to meet the character, we miss it throughthe singular dexterity of despair. The fact is that when a man is sin-sick, his soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and unlessthe beloved physician shall interpose, he will die of famine with the bread of life spread out before him. Dear friends, maythe Lord visit you with his saving health, and give to the saddest of you joy and peace in believing.
II. Having given the description of those in the darkness, let us now pass on to the second point. FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN AWORSE CONDITION THAN OTHERS THERE IS HOPE AND LIGHT.
To the benighted land of Zabulon and Naphtali the gospel came, and evermore to souls enwrapt in gloom the gospel has comeas a cheering and guiding light; and there are good reasons why it should be so. For, first, among such people the gospelhas reaped very rich fruit. Among barbarous nations Christ has won great trophies. The poor Karens are wonders of grace, thecannibals of the South Sea Islands are miracles of mercy, and among the once enslaved Ethiopians there arewarm and loving hearts which rejoice in Jesus' name. In this city, I will venture to say, that no churches reflect morehonor upon the Master's name than those which have been gathered from among the destitute districts. What wonders God hasdone by that blessed church in Golden Lane, under our dear brother Orsman? What conversions have taken place in connectionwith the mission churches of St. Giles' and Whitechapel? churches made of the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low.God isglorified when the thief and the harlot are washed and cleansed and made obedient to the law of Christ. When those whoare healed stand at the pastor's side, even ribald tongues are silent, or are made to exclaim, "What hath God wrought?" Thesame is true of persons mentally depressed, who are despairing of themselves; many such have been converted. Some of us werebrought very low before we found the Savior; lower we could not well have been: we were emptied like a dish that a man wipesandturns upside down; we had not even a drop of hope left in us; but we rejoice in Christ to-day, and we say to despairingsouls, we are personal witnesses that Christ has saved such as you are, he has in our case caused light to shine on thosewho sat in darkness, and out of death's cold shade into life's full light he has brought us as prisoners of hope; and, therefore,he can do the same with you. Be of good courage, there is hope for you.
It is a further consolation to sad hearts, that many promises are made to such characters, even to those who are most dark.How precious is that word, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Is not that madefor you, ye burdened and laboring sinners? What say you to that gracious word-"When the poor and needy seek water, and thereis none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Jacob will notforsake them?" Is there no light in that word of love-"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon?" Is thereno music in this passage-"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnantof his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will havecompassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea?" I recollectwhen my soul was stayed for weeks on that one short word, "Whosoever calleth upon the Lord, shall be saved." I knew I did call on his name, and therefore I hoped to see his salvation. Many have laidhold and rested themselves on this faithful saying, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." He will receive any"him" or "her" in all the world thatcomes, be he or she ever so defiled. That also is a rich word, "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come untoGod by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." What a word was that of our Master when he commanded hisdisciples to preach the gospel to every creature, beginning at Jerusalem. They were to commence their labors amongst his murderers,amongst hypocritical Pharisees and proud Herodians; they were to begin where the devil reigned most supreme, and to presentChrist to the worst sinners first. See you, then, that great sinners, so far from being excluded, are just those to whomthe good news is to be first published. Be of good comfort, then, ye that sit in darkness: there are special promises foryou.
Moreover, remember, that the conversion of the more deplorably dark and despairing brings the highest degree of glory to God.When his glory passes by great sin, then it is mercy indeed. Where it is greatly displaced, it is greatly extolled. Many aresaved by Christ, in whom the change is not very apparent, and consequently but little fame is brought to the good Physicianthrough it; but, oh, if he will have mercy upon yonder mourner, who has been these ten years indespair; if he will say, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmities," the whole parish will ring with it! If Jesuswill come and save that black, ignorant sinner, whom everybody knows because he has become a pest and a nuisance to the town;if such a demoniac has the devil cast out of him, how all men will say. "This is the finger of God." Yes, a poor wretch broughtback again, as the sixty-eighth Psalm has it, "from Bashan, and from the depths of the sea," is a splendid trophy to theconquering power of Almighty grace. God's great object is to glorify his great name; and, as this is best accomplishedwhen his mercy delivers the worst cases, there is surely hope for those who sit in darkness, bound in affliction and iron.
Moreover, when they happily behold the light, such persons frequently become eminently useful to others. Their experienceaids them in counseling others, and their gratitude makes them eager to do so. O sweet light, how precious art thou to blindeyes, when they are newly opened. You do not know what it is to be blind: thank God that you do not: there are some here,however, who painfully know what constant darkness is; it is a grievous privation: but when their eyes areopened, as they will be in another state, and they see that best of sights, the King in his beauty, how sweet will lightbe to them!
"Nights and days of total blindness
Are their portion here below;
Beams of love from eyes of kindness,
Never here on earth they know.
But on high they shall behold
Angels tuning harps of gold;
Rapture to the new-born sight;
Jesus in celestial light!
So, when the spiritual eye has long been dim, and we have mourned and wept for sin, but could not beheld a Savior, light issweet beyond expression. And, because it is so sweet, there is a necessity within the enlightened soul to tell out the joyfulnews to others. When a man has deeply felt the evil of sin, and has at length obtained mercy, he cries with David, "Then willI teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee." John Bunyan's impulse whenhe found the Savior was to tell the crows on the ploughed ground about it, and he lived to do better than talk to crows,for day by day, from generation to generation, his works proclaim the Friend of sinners, who leads them from the City of Destructionto the Celestial glory. Zealous saints are usually those who once were in great darkness; they see what grace has done forthem, and for that very reason they feel an attachment to their dear Lord and Master, which they might never had felt ifthey had not once sat in the valley of the shadow of death. So, poor troubled ones, for these reasons, and fifty moreI might bring if time did not fail me, there is hope for you.
III. But now, the best part of our discourse comes under the third head. THE TRUE LIGHT FOR A SOUL IN DARKNESS IS ALL IN CHRIST.Hear ye the text. "The people which sat in darkness saw great light." Now Christ is not only light, but great light; he revealsgreat things, he manifests great comforts, saves us from great sin and great wrath, and prepares us for great glory. He is,however, a Savior that must be seen. "The people that sat in darkness saw great light."Light is of no use unless it be seen. Faith must grasp the blessings which the Savior brings. "Look unto me, and be yesaved, all ye ends of the earth." We must see the Savior with a glance of faith, then have we light. Let us consider how clearlyChrist Jesus himself is the light of every believing eye, and delivers the most troubled soul from its misery. In him is light,and the light is the light of men. Jesus personally is the day-dawn and the morning without clouds.
First, there is light in Christ's name for a troubled sinner. What is it? Jesus. Jesus, a Savior. I am a sinner lost and ruined, but I rejoice, for Jesus has come to seek and to save that which was lost.My sins trouble me, but he shall save his people from their sins. Satan annoys me, but he has come to destroy the works ofthe devil. He is not a nominal, but a real Savior. We know captains and colonels who have no troops, and never saw fighting,but not sothe Captain of our salvation; he brings many sons unto glory. If a man is called a builder, we expect him to build; ifa merchant, we expect him to trade; and as Jesus is a Savior, he will carry on his sacred business, he will save multitudes.Why, surely there is comfortable hope here. Do you not see the dawning in the name of Savior? Surely if he comes to save,and you need saving, there is a blessed suitability in you for one another. A prisoner at the bar is glad to meet one whois byprofession an advocate, a ship out of its track welcomes a pilot; a traveler lost on the moors is delighted if he meetsone who is by trade a guide; and so a sinner should rejoice at the bare mention of a Savior.
There is similar encouragement in the second name, Christ, for it means anointed. Our Lord Jesus is not an amateur Savior, who has come here without a commission from God; he is notan adventurer, who sets up on his own account to do a kind of work for which he is not qualified: no, the Spirit of the Lordis upon him, for the Lord hath anointed him to this work of saving souls. He is Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent. Him hathGod the Father sealed. He spake not ofhimself, but God was with him, and in him. Why, beloved friend, now that I am in the light I can see a whole sunful ofsplendor in that double name Jesus Christ, and yet I fear that those who are in darkness may not perceive it. Whom God anointsto save, must surely be both able and willing to save the guilty. This name is as the morning star; look at it, and know thatday is near. It has such joy in it that misery itself ought to leap with holy mirth at the sound of it.
It is our delightful task to add that there is light for those who sit in darkness in our Lord's person and nature. Mark right well who this Jesus Christ is. He is in the constitution of his person both God and man, divine and human, equalwith God and fellow with man. Do you not see in this fact the love of God, that he should be willing to take humanity intounion with himself? If God becomes man, he does not hate men, but has love towards them. Do you not see thesuitability of Christ to deal with you, for he is like yourself a man, touched with the feeling of your infirmities; ofa human mother born, he hung at a woman's breast, he suffered hunger and thirst and weariness, and, dead and buried in thetomb, he was partaker in our doom as well as our sorrow? Jesus of Nazareth was most truly a man, he is bone of our bone andflesh of your flesh. O sinner, look into the face of the man of sorrows and you must trust him. Since he is also God, youthereinsee his power to carry on the work of salvation. He touches you with the hand of his humanity, but he touches the Almightywith the hand of his Deity. He is man, and feels your needs; he is God, and is able to supply them. Is anything too tenderfor his heart of love? Is anything too hard for his hand of power? When the Lord himself, that made the heavens and diggedthe foundations of the earth, comes to be your Savior, there remains no difficulty in your being saved. Omnipotence cannotknow adifficulty, and, O sinner, to an omnipotent Savior it is not hard to save even you. A look of faith will give you perfectpardon. A touch of the hem of the Redeemer's garment will heal you at once. Come, then, and trust the incarnate God. Castyourself into his arms at once.
There is light, moreover, in his offices, and, indeed, a brightness of glory which a little thought will soon perceive. What are his offices? I cannot stay to mentiona tithe of them, but one of them is that of Mediator. Your soul longs to speak to God and find acceptance with him, but youare afraid to venture into his terrible presence. I wonder not at your fear, for "even our God is a consuming fire." But beof good comfort, the way of access is open, and thereis One who will go in unto the King with you, and open his mouth on your behalf. Jesus has interposed and filled the greatgulf which yawned between the sinner and his righteous judge. His blood has paved the crimson way; his cross has bridged eachstream; his person is the highway for those who would draw near to God. Now, as Christ Jesus is the Mediator between God andman, and you want one, take him and you will have light at once.
You desire, also, this day a sacrifice, to make atonement for your iniquities; that also you will find in Christ. God mustpunish sin, every transgression must receive its just recompense of reward; but, lo, Christ has come, and as the scape-goathe has carried sin away; as the sin-offering he has removed transgression. Is not this good news? But I hear you say thatyour sins are too many and great. Do you then foolishly think that Christ is a sin-bearer for the innocent?That would be ridiculous. Do you suppose that Christ bore little sins only? That is to make him a little Savior. Bewareof this. Nay, but mountain sins, heaven-defying sins, were laid on him when he hung upon the tree, and for these he made effectualatonement. Is there no light in all this?
Moreover, to mention only one other office, our Lord is an Intercessor. Perhaps, one of your greatest difficulties is thatyou cannot pray. You say, "I cannot put a dozen words together; if I groan, I fear I do not feel in my heart what I oughtto feel." Well, there is One who can pray for you if you cannot for yourself. Give him your cause to plead, and do not doubtbut that it shall succeed. God grant you grace, as you see each office of Christ, to perceive that it has abright side for sinners. I doubt not, light streams continually from every part of the sun to cheer the worlds that revolvearound it; so, from the whole of Christ, there issues forth comfort for poor and needy souls. He delighteth in mercy. He isa Savior and a great one. He is all love, all tenderness, all pity, all goodness; and the very chief of sinners, if they dobut see him, shall see light.
Once again, if you want light, think of his character, as the meek and lowly Savior. Little children loved him; he called them and they willingly came, for he was meek and lowlyof heart. O sinner, could he refuse thee? Do you think he could give you a hard word and send you about your business, ifyou were to seek mercy to day? It could not be; it is not in the nature of him, who was both the Son of God and the Son ofMan, ever to repel a heart that fain wouldcling to him. Until he has once acted harshly to a coming sinner, you have no right to dream of his rejecting you, ifyou come to him.
Think for a minute of his life. He was "separate from sinners," we are told, and yet it is elsewhere said of him, "this manreceiveth sinners, and eateth with them." Friend of sinners was his name, and is still. Think of that self-denying life spentamong the sick and the sinful for their good. And then think of his death, for here the light of grace is focused; the cross,like a burning-glass, concentrates the light and heat of Christ's love upon the sinner. See himagonizing in the garden for sins that were not his own: see him scourged with awful flagellations for transgressions inwhich he had no share: behold him bleeding and dying on the tree for his enemies; sufferer for iniquities in which he neverwas a participator, for in him was no sin. It must be true that God can save me, if Christ has died in the stead of the guilty.This argument has killed my unbelief. I cannot disbelieve, when I see incarnate God suffering for the guilty, the just fortheunjust, to bring them to God.
"Sinners! come, the Savior see,
Hands, feet, side, and temples view;
See him bleeding on the tree,
See his heart on fire for you!
View awhile, then haste away,
Find a thousand more, and say:
Come, ye sinners! come with me,
View him bleeding on the tree."
I wish it were in my power to convey the light which I see in the cross into the mental eyeballs of all my hearers, but Icannot; God the Holy Ghost must do it. Yet, beloved, if ever you get light, it will be in this way: Christ must be a greatlight to you. Nobody ever found light by raking in his own inward darkness; that is indeed seeking the living among the dead.You may rake as long as ever you will among the embers of your depravity before you will find a spark ofgood there. Away from self, away from your own resolutions, away from your own prayers, repentances, and faith; away toChrist on the cross must you look. All your hope and help are laid on Immanual's shoulders. You are nothing. Not a rag nora thread of your own righteousness will do; Christ's robe of righteousness must cover you from head to foot. Blow out yourpaltry candles, put out the sparks which you have vainly kindled, for behold the Sun is risen! "Arise, shine; for thy lightis come,and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Ye want no other light than that of Jesus: dream of no other. Give up self,give up self-hope, be in utter despair of anything that you can do, and now, whether you sink or swim, throw yourself intothe sea of Christ's love: rest in him and you shall never perish, neither shall any pluck you from his hands.
"Cast your deadly 'doing' down,
Down at Jesus' feet,
Stand in him, in him alone,
IV. But, lastly, we would say to every poor soul in darkness, you need be in darkness no longer; for LIGHT IS ALL AROUND YOU:it has already "sprung up."
What a mercy, my dear despairing hearer, that you are not in hell! You might have been there: many no worse than you are there;and yet here you are in the land of hope. This day God does not deal with you according to the law, but after the gospel fashion;you are not come to Sinai this morning, no burning mountain is before you, and no tones of thunder peal from it; you are comeunto Mount Zion, where the mediator of the new covenant speaks peace and pardon. I have nocommission to curse you, but I have distinct authority from my Master to bid you come and receive his blessing. On Zion'stop to-day ye have come to the blood of sprinkling; you might have been called to the blood of your own execution! No devilsare around you, but an innumerable company of angels, who wish you well. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. Remember,dear hearers, that to-day the gospel command is sent to you all; you that are most despairing, you are bidden to believe intheLord Jesus Christ. "Prove that," say you. I prove it thus: he bade his disciples go into all the world and preach thegospel to every creature; you are a creature, therefore we preach it to you. And what was the gospel? Why, just this: "Hethat believeth and is baptised, shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be damned." That gospel, then, comes to you-Godcommandeth all men, everywhere, to repent. O what mercy it is that the light of the gospel shines around you still! Will youshutyour eyes to it? I beseech you, do not so wickedly.
Moreover, the provisions of the gospel, which are full of light and love, are all around you at this moment. If you will nowbelieve in Christ Jesus, every sin that you have committed shall be forgiven you for his namesake; you shall be to God asthough you had never sinned; the precious blood shall make you as white as snow. "But that will not suffice," says one, "forGod righteously demands obedience to his holy law, and I have not kept his commandments, and therefore amweighed in the balances and found wanting." You shall have a perfect righteousness in one moment if you believe in Jesus,"even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works." Happy is theman to whom Jesus Christ is made wisdom and righteousness, and he is so to every one that believeth." There is therefore nowno condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." "Ah," say you, "but I have a bad heart and an evil nature." If thoubelievest, thy nature is changed already, "A new heart also will I give them, and a right spirit will I put within them.""They shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them." He can change you so that you shall scarcelyknow yourself; you shall be a new creature in Christ Jesus; old things shall pass away and all things shall become new. Hewill take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. "Alas," say you, "even this is not enough, for I shall neverholdon in the ways of righteousness, but shall go back unto perdition." Hear, O thou trembler, these gracious words: "I willput my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from; me." And what saith our Lord himself? He saith, "They shall neverperish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springingup unto everlasting life." "But what, if I go astray," says one. Then he will heal your backslidings, receive yougraciously, and love you freely. "He restoreth my soul." He will not suffer even his wandering sheep to perish, but onceagain will he put them in the right way. "Ah, but my soul-poverty is deep, and my wants will be too great." How can you saythis? Is he not the God all sufficient? Has the arm of the Lord waxed short! Did he not furnish a table in the wilderness?Is it not written, "My God shall supply all your need?" He shall cause all grace to abound towards you. "Fear not thou wormJacob,I will help thee, saith the Lord." "Ah, but," saith one, "I shall surely be afraid to die, for I am afraid of it evennow." "He that liveth and believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." "When thou passest through the rivers,I will be with thee." Death is swallowed up in victory. Having loved his own which are in the world, he will love them tothe end. Thou shalt have such faith in dying moments that thou shalt say: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where isthy victory?""But you do not mean me," saith one. I mean you that sit in darkness, you that are ignorant, you that are depressed, you that have no good thing ofyour own, you that cannot help yourselves, you lost ones, you condemned ones, I mean you. And this is God's message to you:"God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." "Whom God hathset forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for theremission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: thathe might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." "He that believeth on him is not condemned." Oh, come,ye guilty; for he is ready to forgive you. Come, ye filthy; the fountain is ready for your cleansing. Come, ye sorrowful,since joy is prepared; his oxen and fatlings are killed, for all things are ready; come to the feast of love. But I hear yousay,"I must surely do something." Have done with your doings, and take Christ's doings. "Oh, but I do not feel as I should."Have done with your feelings: Christ's feelings on the cross must save you, not your own feelings. "Oh, but I am so vile."He came to save the vile.
"Come, in all thy filthy garments,
Tarry not to cleanse or mend;
Come, in all thy destitution,
As thou art, and he'll befriend.
By the tempter's vain allurements,
Be no longer thou beguiled:
God the Father waits to own thee
As his dear adopted child."
"But I have been an adulterer, I have been a thief, I have been a whoremonger, and everything that is bad." Be it so, yetit is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. All mannerof sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men. It is true that you are much worse then you think you are: you may tellme you are horribly bad, but you have no idea how bad you are: the hottest place in hell is your desert; butit is to you the mercy is sent; to you, O man, to you, O woman, to you who have defiled yourself with all manner of unmentionableenormities, even to you, thus saith the Lord, "I have blotted out thy sins like a cloud and like a thief; cloud thy transgressions;return unto me and I will have mercy upon thee." I cannot say more. I wish I had the power to speak, I was about to say, withthe tongues of men and of angels, but I have such a blessed message to deliver to you, that I feel it need notgoodly words, the message itself is all that is needed if the Spirit bless it. Oh, do not reject it, I beseech you, youguilty ones! you despairing ones, do not turn from it, put not away from you the kingdom lest you prove yourselves unworthy,and bring upon yourselves wrath unto the uttermost.
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. Receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior, now on the spot.May God the Holy Spirit lead you to do this, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Matthew 4:12-25; and 5:1-12.