Sermon 1042. A Persuasive to Steadfastness
Delivered on Thursday Evening, February 29th, 1872, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
'For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.''Hebrews 3:14.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE for the preacher to say too much about faith, or to extol this grace too highly! It is of vital importance,not at one stage of the Christian's history only, but throughout the whole of his career, from his setting out even till hereaches the goal where faith is turned to sight. By faith we begin the life of obedience to Christ, and by faith we continueto lead the life of holiness, for 'the just shall live by faith.' This is the point of honorand of safety with all the just'the justified ones. The whole compass of their well-being, though it take in the sternestsense of duty and the highest grant of privilege, is to believe simply, to rely implicitly, and to confide cheerfully, intheir covenant God. The beginning of their confidence is a hopeful sign. Time will test its value. The result of that professionhas yet to be shown. Hence it is necessary that the beginning of their confidence should be held fast, steadfast even untothe end. When we begin in the spirit we do not proceed with a hope to be made perfect in the flesh. We do not start withjustification by faith, and then look for perfection by works. We do not lean upon Christ when we are little children, andthen expect to run alone when we are men; but we live by drawing all our stores from him, while as yet we are naked, and poor,and miserable. When most enriched by his grace, we still have to say and delight to say it, 'all my springs are in thee.'Faithat the beginning and faith at the close; faith all the way through is the one important matter. A failure in this, aswe observed in our reading, shut Israel out of the promised land. 'They could not enter in because of unbelief.' Unbeliefis always the greatest mischief to the saints; hence they have need earnestly to watch against it. Faith is always the channelof innumerable blessings to them: they ought, therefore, most watchfully to maintain it.
We shall have to show the value of faith while we try to open up the text before us, in which I see, first, a high privilege: 'we are made partakers of Christ;' and secondly, by implication, a serious question'the question whether or no we have been made partakers of Christ and, then, in the third place, an unerring test. 'We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.'
I. First, then, here is A VERY HIGH PRIVILEGE. 'We are made partakers of Christ.'
Observe that the text does not say, 'we are made partakers with Christ.' That would be true, a very precious truth too, for we are joint-heirs with Christ, and because all things are his,all things are ours. Christ holds for us the entire heritage of the faithful as our representative, and as we are made partakerswith him in the Father's favor, and in the world's hatred, so we shall be partakers with him in the glory to be revealed,and in the bliss whichendures for ever and ever. But here we have to do with our being partakers of Christ, rather than our being partakers with Christ.
Neither does it say we are made partakers of rich spiritual benefits. That is a fact which we may greet with thorough trustand hearty welcome. But, dear brethren, there is more than that here. To be partakers of pardoning mercy, to be partakersof renewing grace; to be partakers of the adoption, to be partakers of sanctification, preservation, and of all the othercovenant blessings, is to possess an endowment of unspeakable value; but to be made 'partakers ofChrist,' is to have all in one. You have all the flowers in one posy, all the gems in one necklace, all the sweet spices in one deliciouscompound. 'We are made partakers of Christ''of himself. 'It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell,' and we are made partakers with him of all thathe is ordained to be of God unto us''wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.' We are partakers of him; thisis a privilege that no tongue can ever utter, nothought of finite mortal can ever grasp. But ah, it would need more time than we can afford, and far more spiritual teachingthan we profess to have attained, to dive into this great and profound utterance, 'We are made partakers of Christ.' Still,as we stand spell-bound on the margin, let us venture to sail out just a little upon the surface of this ocean of goodnessand of grandeur.
We are made partakers of Christ, beloved, when first of all by faith in him we-procure a share in his merits. Sinful and sad,covered with transgressions and conscious of our shame, we come to the fountain filled with his blood, we washed in it, andwere made white as snow. In that hour we became partakers of Christ. Christ is the substitute for sin. He suffered the penaltydue from the unjust, for whom he died, to the violated law of God. When we believe in him we becomepartakers of those sufferings, or rather of the blessed fruit of them. The fact of his having borne what we ought to haveborne becomes available to us. We present the memorial thereof at the altar of God, the throne of the heavenly grace, in prayersand professions, and in spiritual worship. The blood pleads our cause. The blood of Jesus, which speaketh better things thanthat of Abel, intercedes for mercy, not for vengeance. By its rich virtue, its real value, its vital merit, it puts oursins for ever to death and lays our fears for ever to rest. Oh, how blessed to be a partaker of Christ, the sin-atoningsacrifice'to stand before God as a sinner that deserves nothing but damnation in himself, and yet knows by precious faith,that
'Covered is my unrighteousness,
From condemnation I am free''
'that I am a partakerof the meritorious sacrifice of the great high Priest, who, having once offered one sacrifice for ever,now sits down, his work being done, at the right hand of God. What a privilege is this!
Moreover, we are partakers of Christ, inasmuch as his righteousness also becomes ours by imputation. We are not only freedfrom sin through his atonement, but we are rendered acceptable to God through his obedience as our responsible surety. Weare 'accepted in the beloved,' we are justified through his righteousness. God seeth not us marred in the likeness of thefirst Adam who sinned, but he seeth us in Christ, the second Adam, remade, redeemed, restored, arrayed ingarments of glory and beauty, with the Savior's vesture on, as holy as the Holy One. He seeth 'no sin in Jacob nor iniquityin Israel.' When Jacob learns to trust in the Messiah, and Israel hides behind his representative, the Lord our Righteousness,Jacob ceases to wrestle, for he prevails, and Israel stands in honor, for he is a prince with God. Blessed, thrice blessed,are they who are partakers of Christ in his righteousness.
After we are thus saved from sin, and righteousness is imputed to us by faith, we further become partakers of Christ by livingupon him, feeding on him. The sacramental table represents our fellowship. Though it does no more than represent it, it representsit well. At that table we eat bread, and we drink wine, and the body is thus fed, typifying that through meditation upon theincarnate Christ our soul is sustained, and by remembering the passion of the Lord, as thewine cup sets forth his blood, our spirits are comforted and revived, and our hearts are nourished. It is not that thebread is anything or the wine anything, but it is that Christ is everything to us. He is our daily bread, his atonement makesglad our heart'makes us 'strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.' Brethren, you know what it is to feed upon Jesus,and what satisfying food it is! When nothing else can give your soul rest and peace, remembering the incarnate God will doit,a study of the suffering Savior will bring the refreshment and consolation you want. Jesus Christ when he is our foodmakes us to be partakers of himself.
But, is there not a doctrine concealed here of deeper significance? The union of believers with himself was among the latestof all the revelations which our blessed Lord when on earth made known to his disciples. With a parable he showed it, andwithout a parable he declared it plainly. Every true child of God is one with Christ. This union is set forth in Scriptureby several images, to which we will just refer, but upon none of which can we just now enlarge. We are onewith Christ and partakers of him as the stone is cemented to the foundation. It is built upon it, rests upon it, and,together with the foundation, goes to make up the structure. So we are built into Christ by coherence and adhesion, joinedto him, and made a spiritual house for the habitation of God by the Holy Ghost. We are made partakers with Christ by a unionin which we lean and depend upon him. This union is further set forth by the vine and the branches. The branches are participatorswith the stem, the sap of the stem is for the branches. It treasures it up only to distribute it to them. It has no sapfor itself alone, all its store of sap is for the branch. In like manner we are vitally one with Christ, and the grace thatis in him is for us. It was given to him that he might distribute it to all his people. Furthermore, it is as the union ofthe husband with the wife, they are participators the one with the other. All that belongs to the husband the wife enjoysand shareswith him. Meanwhile she shares himself, nay, he is all her own. Thus it is with Christ. We are married unto him'betrothedunto him for ever in righteousness and in judgment, and all that he has is ours, and he himself is ours. All his heart belongsto each one of us. And then, too, as the members of the body are one with the head, as they derive their guidance, their happiness,their existence from the head, so are we made partakers of Christ. Oh, matchless participation! It is 'a greatmystery' saith the apostle; and, indeed, such a mystery it is as they only know who experience it. Even they cannot understandit fully; far less can they hope to set it forth so that carnal minds shall comprehend its spiritual meaning. The day comethwhen we shall be partakers of Christ to the highest and uttermost degree that symbols can suggest, prophecy forestal, faithanticipate, or actual accomplishment bring to pass; for, albeit, though of all that our Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven wehave a reversionary interest to-day by faith, we shall have a share in it by actual participation ere long.
Partakers of Christ! Yes, and therefore with him partakers in destiny. When he shall come his holy ones shall come with him. That he has risenfrom the dead is the earnest of their resurrection. At the day of his appearing they shall rise and participate in the fruitionof his mediatorial work. Then, in the judging of the world, in the destruction of all his spiritual foes, in the great marriage-daywhen the bride shall have made herself ready, and he shall drink ofthe new wine in the kingdom of his Father, and in all else that is to come, too glorious to be described except by symbolslike those of the Apocalypse, his people shall participate with him, for this honor have all his saints. All right and allmight, all that can extol or delight, all that for ever and for ever shall contribute to the glory of Christ, shall be sharedby all the faithful, for we are partakers not only with him, but of him'of Christ'therefore of all thesurroundings of glory and honor that shall belong to him.
The language of the text reminds us that none of us have any title to this privilege by nature. 'We are made partakers of Christ.' From our first parentage He derived a very different entail. We all of woman born became partakersof the ruin of the first Adam, of the corruption of humanity, of the condemnation common to the entire race. Oh, to be made partakers! This is a work of grace, of sovereign omnipotent grace'a work which a man cannot sufficientlyadmire, and for which he can never be sufficiently grateful. 'We are made partakers of Christ.' This is the Holy Ghost'swork in us, to rend us away from the old wild olive, and to graft us into the good olive,'to dissolve the union between usand sin, and to cement a union between our souls and Christ,'to take us out of the Egyptian bondage and the Egyptian nightin which we willingly sat, and to bring us into the liberty and the light wherewith Christ makes his people free and glad.Thisis work as grand and godlike as to create a world. For it let the Lord's name be magnified by each one of us if, indeed,we have been made partakers of Christ. If'I say; and that 'if' leads me to the second point I proposed to consider.
II. The privilege of which we have spoken suggests A SOLEMN SEARCHING QUESTION. Are we made partakers of Christ? O beloved,many think they are who are not. There is nothing more to be dreaded than a supposititious righteousness, a counterfeit justification,a spurious hope. Better, I sometimes think, to have no religion than to have a false religion. I am quite certain that theman is much more likely to be saved who knows that he is naked, and poor, and miserable, thanthe man who says, 'I am rich and increased in goods.' It were infinitely better to take the road to heaven doubting thanto go in another direction presuming. I am far better pleased with the soul that is always questioning, 'Am I right?' thanwith him who has drunk the cup of arrogance till he is intoxicated with selfconceit and says, 'I know my lot; the lines havefallen to me in pleasant places; there is no need for self-examination in my case.' Brethren, be assured of this; all menare notpartakers of Christ: all baptised men are not partakers of Christ: all churchmen are not partakers of Christ: all dissentersare not made partakers of Christ: all members of this church are not made partakers of Christ: all ministers, all elders,all bishops, are not made partakers of Christ. Yea, all apostles were not made partakers of Christ. One of them, Christ'sfamiliar friend, who kept the little purse which held all the Master's earthly store, lifted up his heel against him, betrayedhimwith a tender treacherous kiss, and became the son of perdition. He was a companion of Christ not a partaker of him?
Am I made a partaker of Christ? Multiply the question till each individual among you makes it his own. In this congregation thereare various classes. There are probably some here who are only hearers'hearers about Christ, not partakers of Christ. It isone thing to hear about a banquet, it is quite another thing to be fed at it. It is one thing in the wilderness to hear ofrippling streams, and quite another to stoop down and drink the cooling draught'one thingfor the prisoner by night to dream of liberty, or by day to read of roaming free through his native country, another thingto get rid of the chain'one thing to hear of pardon, another thing to be pardoned'one thing to hear of heaven, another thingto go there. O my dear hearers! some of you are as familiar with the gospel as you are with the house you live in; yet, thoughyou live in the house, you never live in the gospel, and I fear you never will. You hear it, and hear it, that is all.God grant you may not have to hear of your hearing in another world, where it shall be laid down among the chief of yoursins that you were of those who, when they heard did provoke'provoke because they rejected what they ought to have received.
Others go farther than hearing. They become professors. May I remind you'and I would not judge anyone harshly'certainly noman more harshly than I would myself'it is one thing to profess to be a partaker of Christ, and another thing to be made apartaker of Christ. I may profess that I am rich and be all the while a bankrupt, a dishonest bankrupt for having made theprofession. I may protest that I am in health, while a deadly cancer may lurk within. I may declarethat I am honest, but it will not clear me before the judge if I am proved a thief. I may avow that I am loyal, but itwould not save my life if I were convicted of high treason. Professions; ah, I fear they are in many cases but a painted pageantrythat makes the road to hell attractive. Professions there are not unfrequently upon which we may gaze with a vacant wonderand turn away with a cold shudder, as from the sombre gaudiness of a funeral, wherein prancing steeds, stately mutes, noddingplumes, and velvet palls adorn the obsequies of the dead. God save us from a lifeless profession! May we never be likecertain trees, of which Bunyan said, that they were green outside, but inwardly they were so rotten that they were only fitto be tinder for the devil's tinder-box. Many professors are too fair not to be false; too comely outside not to be loathsomewithin; for there is an over-doing of the sepulchre's whitewash. You feel convinced that there would not be so much whitewashingwithout if there were not a good deal of rottenness inside to be concealed. Essence of roses or of lavender is sweet,but much scent excites much suspicion. Oh, let us, each one who professes to-night, say to himself, 'I was baptised on a professionof my faith, but was I ever baptised into Christ? When the Sacred name of the triune God was named on me, did I then enterinto the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? I have come often to the communion table; but have Icommuned with Christ there? My name is on the church-book, but is it written in heaven? I have said to others I am a Christian,but am I in very deed known unto Christ? Or will he say unto me in that day, 'I never knew you: depart from me ye workersof iniquity'?'
These are solemn questionings. Many persons are temporary followers of Christ, and outwardly, as far as the human eye canfollow, they appear to be real followers of Christ. I believe in the final perseverance of the saints; but I do not know,nor can any man know, how near a man may approach to the likeness of a saint and yet after all apostatise. Nor is any oneof us able to say of himself, or of his fellow members, 'We never shall fall away.' I remember one whose voiceI, and many of your heard in prayer, and we enjoyed the exercise of his gifts. The man had been reclaimed from the lowestclass of society, and he distinguished himself by his devotion in such a way that he was accepted as a church officer amongus. I remember, when the first charge of sin was brought against him, and of very grievous sin, one among us said, 'If thatman is not a child of God I am not a child of God.' The expression seemed to me too strong, but in my heart I almost joinedinit. I was ready to pronounce him innocent before I investigated the charges. I felt certain that there could not be insuch a man as that the impurity laid at his door; yet it was there, it was all there, and worse than tongue can tell. He repentedand though not received into the church because the profession of repentance did not seem to be all we could wish it to be,yet there was a turning aside from sin for awhile. But he went into it again, and he wallowed in it. He died in it. As faraswe could any of us judge, he perished in it. He went from bad to worse. I feel I might say without uncharitableness thisman carried his iniquity, as far as human judgment could track him. Therefore, without prejudice to the doctrine of the finalperseverance of the saints, which I implicitly believe, I will not venture to say of any among you'much less will I ventureto say it of myself, that I am sure I am so made a partaker of Christ that I shall hold fast my confidence to the end. I hopeso. I rest in Christ, trusting in him. The possibility is that I am deceiving myself; the possibility is that you maybe self-deceivers. At any rate, it is so far a possibility that I would beseech you to have no confidence but such as theHoly Ghost gives you; to put no reliance as to the future anywhere but in the eternal arms; have no assurance but that assurancewhich is based upon the word of God and the witness of the Spirit within your soul. That can give you infallible assurance.Apartfrom that, I repeat it again, I will say neither of you nor of myself, that I can be sure with all the profession thatis made, that you are partakers of Christ. Some go even farther than being temporary followers of Christ, and yet after allperish. They maintain a consistent profession before the eye of men throughout the whole of their lives, as vessels that navigatethe whole of the sea and go down in the harbour. There are soldiers that have held out and fought valiantly up to the verymoment of victory, and then have run away. And there are professors that have been unexceptional in their lives, whosecharacter has been apparently without a blemish, and even those who knew them in private could not detect any serious flawin their conduct; yet, for all that, there was a worm at the root; a fly in the pot of ointment; a failure as to the sincerityof their grace. They had not, after all, the true faith which hangs upon Christ, and they did not persevere in heart, thoughtheyappeared to persevere in life. The difference between the Christian and the professor is sometimes such as only God candiscern. There is a path which the eagle's eye hath not seen, and the lion's whelp hath not traversed'a path of life intowhich God can bring us, end of which it may be said that he knows all who are in it. But, there is a something like it, away which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. There is a counterfeit of the true metal ofgrace sowell manufactured, that only omniscience itself can tell which is the reprobate silver and which is the pure shekel ofthe sanctuary. Grave reason have we, then, for raising the question as to whether we are made partakers of Christ or not.
III. Now we come to THE UNERRING TEST. Patience comes to the aid of faith here. Evidences accumulate till the issue is conclusive.'We are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.'
This passage may be read in two ways, neither of which violates the literal meaning of the original, either of which may expressto us the mind of the Spirit'as we have it in our version, 'the beginning of our confidence,' or, as I would rather translateit, 'the foundation of our confidence,' the basis on which our confidence rests.
Take your choice. We will expound and vindicate both. That man is a partaker of Christ who holds fast they he had at first,having received it, not as an education, but as an intuition of his spirit life; not as an argument, but as an axiom he couldnot challenge, or rather as an oracle he received joyfully and bowed to submissively. The confidence which is based upon thetrue foundation, even Christ Jesus, is simple and clear as one's own consciousness. It asks no proofbecause it admits no doubt. In vain the sceptic comes to me now and says, 'Sir, you are asleep, and dreaming.' I answer,'No, sir, I am speaking to these thousands, and they are listening to me.' Even so, when I first believed the Gospel storyit was with a childlike feeling that it was so and I knew it. The man who is not a partaker of Christ hears the gospel, professesto believe it, and in some measure acts accordingly; but he perishes because this pure, unwavering faith does not abide inhim. He has not the faith of God's elect which never can be destroyed. He has only a notion, a creed of his own making,and not a faith of the Spirit's giving.
Now, beloved, what was the beginning of our confidence? Well, the beginning of my confidence was, 'I am a sinner, Christ isa Savior; and I rest on him to save me.' Long before I began with Christ he had begun with me; but when I began with him itwas, as the law writers say, 'In formÂƒ pauperis,' after the style of a wretched mendicant'a pauper who had nothing of his own, and looked to Christ for everything. I knowwhen I first cast my eye to his dear cross andrested in him, I had not any merit of my own, it was all demerit. I was not deserving, except that I felt I was hell-deserving:I had not even a shade of virtue that I could confide in. It was all over with me. I had come to an extremity. I could nothave found a farthing's worth of goodness in myself if I had been melted down. I seemed to be all rottenness, a dunghill ofcorruption, nothing better, but something a great deal worse. I could truly join with Paul at that time, and say that my ownrighteousnesses were dung. A strong expression he used; but I do not suppose he felt it to be strong enough. He says,'I count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him.' Well, that is how we began with Christ. We were nothingat all, and Jesus Christ was all in all. Now, brethren, we are not made partakers of Christ unless we hold this fast to theend. Have you got beyond that? Are you something creditable in your own estimation? I am afraid of you. Are you richer nowinyourselves that you were then? I am afraid of you, brethren. Do you mind the place you used to stand in? you dared notlift your eyes, to heaven, but cried, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.' How in Christ you have a far nobler place than that,for you are made to sit with him in the heavenly places. But, I ask you, apart from Christ, have you any different place fromthat of deep selfabasement? If you have, you have not held the beginning of your confidence fast even until now. Begin tosuspectyourself. This is the position always to take 'having nothing and yet possessing all things.'
'I the chief of sinners am
But Jesus died for me.'
Such is the beginning of our confidence. Brethren, where else was the beginning of your confidence? May we not say of it thatit was only and wholly, entirely and exclusively, in the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ? In the beginningof your confidence you did not rely upon any ceremonies, nor upon priests, nor upon your Bible readings, nor upon your prayings,nor upon your feelings, nor your experiences, nor your orthodoxy, nor your knowledge of doctrine,nor upon your works, nor your preachings, your sanctifications or your mortifications. No, in the beginning of your confidencethe one foundation was Jesus only. Nothing save Jesus would I know. Oh, if on that day, I had met with a man who had any trust in his own righteousness, I knowI should have quarrelled with him. If he had told me that he hoped that Jesus Christ would help him to save himself I couldhave wept over him to think he should be such a fool. Why, Christ is all ornothing. He must save us from top to bottom, or we never shall be saved at all. If our foundation is partly on the rockof his finished work, and partly on the sand of our own unworthy doing, the whole house totters and it must come down.
Well, brethren, is there any correspondence between the beginning of your confidence and your present look-out? Had you anythingexcept Christ to depend upon in the hour you first believed? Is there ought now added to that one foundation that God haslaid, or hath your trust been supplemented by any fresh conceit of your own? Are you faithless? God is faithful. With you,it may be yea and nay; with him it is yea and amen. Some of the Israelites when they came out of Egyptdepended upon God. They saw that he had divided the Red Sea, and rained down the manna, and refreshed them with streamsin the desert, and so they believed, but their faith did not hold out. While they could see miracles of mercy, they reliedon God, with nothing else to rely on; but when they got into a little difficulty they did not hold fast the beginning of theirconfidence unto the end, for they began to lose faith in Moses, or to confide in a golden calf. So there are some that begin,ina time of weakness, calamity, or despondence, by saying, 'I trust in Christ, as a sinner.' They get beyond that when theyrecover from their temporary depression. Then they qualify their confessions after their altered circumstances, and electtheir religion after their own deliberate choice. But the God of Israel will not allow it. He will not have us put any trustbut in his dear Son. We must be stripped naked of everything but that which Christ spins. We must have all our bread mouldytil wecast it out because we loathe it, and we must feed on nothing but the bread of heaven. If we get beyond that and feedon anything else, we are not made partakers of him, for we have not held fast the beginning of our confidence.
Let me call back your thoughts again, beloved, to the love of your espousals, when you acknowledged the Lord and went afterhim into the wilderness. Did you not then have confidence in Christ of a very humble character? Oh, at that time you did notwant to be among the first of God's people to play the part of Diotrephes. When you were at the foot of the cross, and lookedup as a poor sinner, you had no notion about being a distinguished man in the church. I know it didnot come into my head that day that I should be a leader in God's Israel. Ah no, if I might but sit in the corner of hishouse, or be a door keeper it had been enough for me. If, like the dog under the table, I might get a crumb of his mercy,were it but flavoured by his hand, because he had broken it off that is all I wanted. That is just how we ought always tolive'lowly, humbly, gentle, and broken-spirited, and ready to be anything, so that Christ may he glorified. It shows the risingsofthe old nature when we get to be such consequential people that if anybody should say a hard word, we wonder, or if anybodyslanders us, instead of saying, 'Ah, if he knew us he could say something a good deal worse,' we are in a high and mightytemper because our brilliant character is injured.
Verily, I think, that when I was first converted to God if the Lord had said, 'I have taken you into my house' and I am goingto make use of you, and you shall be a door-mat for the saints to wipe their feet on,' I should have said, 'Ah, happy shallI be if I but take the filth off their blessed feet, for I love God's people; and may I minister to them in the slightestdegree, it shall be my delight.' But when we get away from that position we are in danger. If we are madepartakers of Christ, the proof will be in our continuing to be of a meek and lowly spirit'willing to serve him in anycapacity'in our becoming like little children, for 'except we become as little children, we shall in no wise enter the kingdomof heaven.' Little children we were in the beginning of our confidence; little children we must continue to be, or else wemay gravely question whether we have been made partakers of Christ.
When we were first made partakers of Christ, we received him very gratefully. How thankful we were for one look from Jesus'eye. Half a promise seemed precious in those days. The sermon, though it was uncouth perhaps, if full of Christ, fed us tothe full. Now, alas, how many professors despise precious truth if it does not happen to be clothed in the most polished phrases;they run hither and thither where there is no food for them: not hungering and thirsting afterrighteousness as of yore, they admire the banquet spread out with all flowers and no fruit: they look after gaudy periods,where pure silver and polished sham do sparkle, though there be no food for the soul to feed on. Did they hold fast the beginningof their confidence they would prize the truth and love the truth, and account that if it were but the truth, it did not matterin what shape it came to them, so long as they could get hold of a promise, have a smile from Christ's face or enjoyone ray of the blessed Spirit's consolation in their souls. But now the starving beggars have become dainty epicures;those who once were glad enough to come and feast on broken crusts from the Master's table, become connoisseurs of their Master'sfood; their soul 'loatheth this light bread,' though it is the bread of angels, and drops from the granaries of God. We shouldsuspect ourselves, when we get into that squeamish condition. Such a proud captious state of heart does not evidence thatwehave been made partakers of Christ at all.
When we first received our confidence, we were obedient in word and deed. I wish all disciples of Christ had the like scrupulousconscience. I speak my own experience. The first week after I was converted to God, I felt afraid to put one foot before anotherfor fear I should do wrong; when I thought over the day if there had been a failure in my temper, or if there had been a frothywork spoken, or something done amiss, I did chasten myself sorely, and had I known at thattime anything to be my Lord's will, I think I should not have hesitated to do it; to me it would not have mattered whetherit was a fashionable thing or an unfashionable thing, if it was according to his word. Oh, to do his will! to follow him whithersoeverhe would have me go! Why, then it seemed as though I should never, never, never be slack in keeping his commandments. Dearbrethren, have you held fast the beginning of your confidence? I smite upon my own breast when I remember that, inthat respect, I have not held fast the beginning of my confidence. To the cross again! Beloved, if any of you have doubtsaroused in your mind by such bitter reflections upon yourselves, do not dispute with your doubts; go to the cross again. Neverdispute with the devil. He can always beat you. Go straight to the cross. If he says, 'Thou art no saint,' say then 'Verylikely I am not, but there is one thing even thou canst not deny thou canst not say I am not a sinner; a sinner Iam. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners and if I never trusted him before, I will begin now. If I never yetdid know the life of God, I will look to his death forthwith. Oh, if I never was healed of the disease of sin, there is healingin those dear wounds, and I, by faith, will have it while yet it is called to-day.' Jesus, I trust thee; I trust thee wholly,and thee alone. I have heard that some years ago there was a coal-pit in work, the shaft of which by some means got blockedup, and the men could not get out of it. They were very nearly perishing. One of them had heard that there was an oldworking which led to another mine, and though he was afraid it might be blocked up, yet the best thing they could do wouldbe to go along, if, perhaps, they might come to the mouth of another shaft. This old working had not been traversed for sometime; it never was very lofty. They had to go along on their hands and knees, and generally needed to crawl lying flat onthe ground.At length they came to the mouth of that old shaft, were soon extricated, and they gladly found their way to the upperair again. Peradventure, some of you have been living heretofore by frames and feelings; that experience has been the shaftby which you have been coming and going; and this shaft has been blocked up to-night. Well, I am not sorry for it. Come, now,brethren, let us all go along on our hands and knees where the sinners go. Let us crawl to the old shaft: let us prostrateourselves, confessing, 'Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin. Lord, I am unworthy: Lord, I am earthly, selfish, devilish.Lord, I am a mass of wounds and a mass of loathsomeness. I am unworthy of thy favor and thy love.' Let us just creep alongin that fashion till we come to Christ, and say,
'Just as I am, without one plea,
Save that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.'
You will find that old shaft is not shut up. There is light. Look up! There is the cross above you. Jesus is still willingto receive sinners, still able to save sinners, for he is 'exalted' on high 'to give repentance unto Israel and remissionof sins.' O come to him just that way; and, brother, when you get back to Christ in that way by which you went years ago,the advice of the text, with which I will sum up all, is keep on coming to him in that same way always. Keepon coming always. Keep on coming always. Perhaps you have been on the top of a mountain such as the Rigi or as Snowden.You know these mountains do not move. They are good solid rock under your feet. But people erect platforms on the top of themto see the sun rise a little sooner, or something of that sort. From the top of one of those platforms a man may come downwith a crash and break his limbs. That is something like our erections which we put up over our simple faith in Christ. Ourbeautiful frames and feelings and experiences'they will come down with a crash some day, for they are rotten stuff; but,when a man stands upon this''Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and I am resting upon him: he is all my salvationand all my desire: his precious blood is all my confidence. The love of his heart, the power of his arm, the merit of hisplea,'here I rest myself,''O beloved, there is no fear of that confidence ever giving way beneath your feet. There mayyou stand and serenely rejoice when worlds shall melt and the pillars of the earth shall reel. God bless you, and keepyou ever holding the beginning of your confidence steadfast unto the end. So shall it be proved beyond question that you arepartakers of Christ.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON'Hebrews 3.
'THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL.' Edited by C. H. SPURGEON.
Contents for April, 1872.
Advice Gratis. By C. H. Spurgeon.
The Story of an Eventful Life.
The Gospel in France.
Recollections of the Rev. Rowland Hill. By an Old Member of Surrey Chapel.
Remarks on Beecher's Life of Christ. By Vernon J. Charlesworth.
Cromwell's Puritanism. By E. Leach.
A New Interpretation of Pilgrim's Progress. By G. Rogers (Continued.)
Parental Duties. By Edward Dennett.
The Sinners of Mullion.
Report of Visitor from the Sunday School Union (Lambeth Auxiliary).
Pastors' College Account.
Orphanage for Girls.
Price 3d. Post free, 4 stamps.
London: Passmore & Alabaster, 18, Paternoster Row, and all Booksellers.