Sermon 1129. The Heart Of Flesh
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 31, 1873,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.'' Ezekiel 36:26.
IT is a peculiar feature in our holy religion that it begins its work within and acts first upon the heart. Other religions,like that of the Pharisees, begin with outward forms and ceremonies, perhaps hoping to work inwardly from without, althoughthe process never ends, for though the outside of the cup and of the platter is made clean, the inside still remains fullof rottenness as before. No Truth of God is more sure than this concerning all the sons of men, "You must be born again."
There must be an entire and radical change of man's nature or else where God is he can never come-the Gospel does not flinchfrom this, but enforces the declaration. The Holy Spirit does not attempt to improve human nature into something better, butlays the axe at the root of the trees and declares that we must become new creatures-and that by a supernatural work of theOmnipotent God.
Scripture does not mince matters, or say that some men may be better than others, naturally, and by an improvement of theirexcellencies may at last become good enough for God. Far from it! It declares concerning all, "Except you are converted andbecome as little children, you shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of Heaven." True religion begins, then, with the heart,and the heart is the ruling power of manhood. You may enlighten a man's understanding and you have done much, but as longas his heart is wrong, the enlightenment of the understanding only enables him to sin with a greater weight of responsibilityresting upon him. He knows good to be good, but he prefers the evil. He sees the light, but he loves the darkness and turnsfrom the Truth of God because his heart is alienated from God.
If the heart is renewed, the judgment will, before long, follow in the same track. But as long as the heart is wrong, theaffections govern the will and bias the character of the man towards evil. If a man loves evil he is evil. If he hates Godhe is God's enemy, whatever his outward professions, whatever his knowledge, whatever his apparent good qualities. "As a manthinks in his heart so he is." This is more nearly the man than any other of the faculties and powers which God has bestowedupon our nature. What if I say that the heart is the Eve in the little garden of our nature and she it is that first plucksthe evil fruit? And though the understanding follows the affections, even as Adam followed Eve, yet the first power for goodor evil lies in the affections.
The heart, when renewed by Grace, is the best part of manhood. Unrenewed, it is the very worst. Aesop, when his master orderedhim to provide nothing for a feast but the best things in the market, brought him nothing but tongues, and when, the nextday, he ordered him to buy nothing but the worst things in the market, still brought nothing but tongues. And I would ventureto correct or spiritualize the story by exchanging hearts for tongues, for there is nothing better in the world than heartsrenewed, and nothing worse than hearts unregenerate. It is a great Covenant promise that the heart shall be renewed and theparticular form of its renewal is this-that it shall be made living, warm, sensitive, and tender. It is naturally a heartof stone-it is to become, by a work of Divine Grace-a heart of flesh. Therefore, very much of the result of regeneration andconversion will be found to lie in the production of a tender spirit.
Tenderness, the opposite of that which is stout, obstinate, cold, hard-tenderness is one of the most gracious signs in a man'scharacter. And where God has given fleshiness, or living sensitiveness instead of stoniness, or dead insensibility of heart,there we may conclude that there is a real work of Grace and that God has created vital godliness within. Concerning thistenderness I am about to speak-"I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh."
I. Our first remark is that THE TENDERNESS HERE INTENDED IS ABSENT IN THE UNREGENERATE. They frequently have a natural sensitiveness-somepersons who are not converted are very tender, indeed, as mothers to
their children, as fathers to their offspring, as friends to friends. And God forbid that we should say anything amiss concerningthat which is good in human nature after its kind! But that is widely different from the spiritually tender heart. Some thereare who have a tenderness which arises from timidity, a tenderness which sometimes inclines them to good, not because theylove the good, but because they are easily ruled by their company-so that they would be just as easily led towards evil ifthey fell in with bad companions. They have no principle, no root in themselves.
Such a tenderness Rehoboam had, who was tender, and therefore followed evil advisers to his own injury. Such an unmanly softnessas this is to be strived against, for we need to have some grit in our constitution, some firmness and resolution-and thatsort of pliability which unman's a man and makes him a puppet for others to handle is a great evil. There is also a tendernesswhich arises mainly from legal terror and fear which is very different from the evangelical or saving softness of heart whichis described in our text. I know some who exhibit a sort of counterfeit tenderness. When they hear a sermon they are excitedby it and if it is about the world to come, the lifting up of the curtain of the future, they are affected for the time being.But then their goodness soon departs from them. They forget the next moment that which affected them a moment back-they aresoon hot and soon cold-they are inconstant as the wind. That is a not the kind of tenderness to be desired-goodness whichis as the morning cloud and the early dew which passes away.
In all unregenerate men there is a lack of the real spiritual tenderness of which I have to speak, though all are not equallyhardened. In all, for instance, there is a natural stoniness of heart. We are not born into this world perfect, so that whensin meets us it receives a kindly reception and is not dreaded and shunned as it should be. Those who notice children in theirfirst acts will not have discovered any strong aversion in them to children's sins, or horror at the sight of them. How earlydoes the little child give way to unrestrained passion and practice little acts of deceit? As the Prophet said, "We go astrayfrom the womb, speaking lies." Our children's poet was correct when he said-
"True, you are young, but there's a stone Within the youngest breast, Or half the sins which you have done Would rob you ofyour rest."
The heart by nature is like the nether millstone and its hardness is increased by contact with the world. A youth's fleshfrom a godly household is not one-half so hard as he who has been for some time in the midst of ungodly company and has seenthe ways of the debauched and the profane. Custom has a great power over us and what we see others do with impunity we by-and-bycome to think, (unless the Grace of God prevents it), it cannot be quite so bad as our parents and guardians taught us thatit was. Familiarity with sin does not breed contempt for it, but often causes a measure of contempt for the law which forbidsit. We see the sparkling eye of the drunk. We hear his hilarious shout and imagine that there is pleasure in the bowl. Orwe hear men speak of the delights of their transgressions and the sweets of lust, and unless we are held back by Providenceand Grace, we are apt to think lightly of those things which once we regarded with abhorrence. This world is a petrifyingspring and all who are of the world are being putrefied in it and are growing harder and harder as the years roll on.
Moreover, men harden themselves by their own sins. Every time a man sins it becomes more easy for him to sin again. Like astone falling, sin gains impetus and increased velocity. The man who sins once has a stronger tendency to sin again and thereare some sins which almost necessitate a succession of sins. The man who lies, for instance, thinks he must lie a second timeto conceal the first. And some transgressions which root themselves in the flesh breed a hunger and a thirst for the sin sothat the flesh craves to be indulged again-and those who cannot bridle their passions are thus carried away by them with greatforce. As labor renders the hand hard, so sin makes the heart callous, and each sin makes the stony heart yet more like adamant.
At the same time, all the circumstances around an unregenerate man will be perverted to the same result. If, for instance,a man prospers, nothing is more hardening to the heart than long prosperity. Find me an ungodly man whose course has beenone of perpetual gain and you shall find me, almost certainly, a man who is ready to say unto the Lord, "Who is Jehovah thatI should obey His voice?" Pride is often begotten of fullness of bread. If the man had known what need is, he might, perhaps,have been humbled before God. But now he boasts in his broad acres and his large estates and, like Nebuchadnezzar, he says,"Behold this great Babylon that I have built."
It is also a dangerous thing to be for many years in good health without a sickness. This also hardens a man. The sicknesswhich brings a man to the borders of the grave is often sanctified to the breaking of the heart. To be without
ache or pain for a long time is so far from being a blessing from God to the wicked, that I scarcely know anything which mayturn out to be a greater curse to an ungodly man. Never chastened? Then you are no child of God! Left to find pleasure insin? Then surely it must be that God will let you have what pleasure you may in this world because He knows a terrible futureawaits you! O soul in prosperity, disturb yourself, for you are in solemn danger! Hardness of heart will almost inevitablycome upon you. You are at ease from your youth-you have not been emptied from vessel to vessel- therefore your scent remainsin you, and that scent is pride and carnal security.
The opposite condition of circumstances will, through sin, produce the same result. Affliction hardens those whom it doesnot soften. There are men who have been in many storms at sea and, though once they feared, they never tremble now. If themast had to be cut away and the vessel were almost to go down, they have grown so desperate they would curse and swear inthe teeth of the tempest! Those who have escaped many accidents and dire diseases, who have passed unscathed by the hot furnaceof fever, or have risen from between the jaws of cholera, are too often men whom nothing can move. What the fire does notmelt it anneals as steel. Alas, of how many may it be said, "Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more andmore."
They resemble Ahaz of old, who, the more he was afflicted, the more he sinned-of whom the Spirit of God has written, "Thisis that king Ahaz." This is obduracy, indeed, comparable to that of Pharaoh, whom the Lord hardened by judgments which oughtto have melted him to repentance. And alas! Alas, that we should have to add it-holy influences will come in to complete thishardening and carry it, still, to a higher degree! The Gospel has a wonderfully hardening power over those who reject it.The sun shines out of the heavens upon wax and softens it, but at the same time it shines upon clay and hardens it. The sunlightof the Gospel shining upon hearers either melts them into repentance or else hardens them into greater obstinacy. You cannotbe hearers of the Gospel without its having some effect upon you.
Some of you have attended this place ever since it was built [12 years earlier] and if you are not the better for it, youcertainly are the worse. If the Gospel is not a savor of life unto life to you it will be a savor of death unto death. Amonghardened sinners the Gospel-hardened sinner is one of the worst. Yet, further, when an unregenerate man dares to put on aChristian profession, this is perhaps the most rapid and certain process for consummating the devil's work, for if a man willbe audacious enough to join himself with the saints while he is indulging in private sin-if he will continue to come to theCommunion Table when he knows that his base lusts are still indulged-and if, moreover, he has the face to boast of being achild of God when he knows that he is an utter stranger to Divine Grace, why, such a man is the raw material out of whichSatan can make a Judas!
The devil himself could not make a Judas till he had found a false Apostle. You must look among hypocritical professors ofreligion if you would find the worst of men! And I must add, you may succeed best in your search if you can find a false-heartedminister. The higher the place in God's garden the more the weeds stink. The hardest-hearted men of all are not those whohave been guilty of crimes against society and have been put away into our jails-often a little kindness will melt these savagesdown. No, the worst of all are those demons in human shape who make a profession of being the people of God and all the whileknow that they are sinning wickedly with both hands! To cover a vile life with the coverlet of a Christian profession is asign of reprobation. Take men, however, at any stage, this is still true-that the heart of flesh is not to be found in anyunregenerate man.
II. WHEREVER TRUE TENDERNESS IS FOUND, IT IS A SPECIAL GIFT OF THE NEW COVENANT. A
heart of flesh is a gift of Sovereign Grace and it is always the result of Divine power. No heart of stone was ever turnedinto flesh by accident, nor by mere Providential dispensations, nor by human persuasions. You might argue with a rock a longwhile before you would persuade it into flesh. Neither is such a change worked by a man's own actions. How shall a stone,being a stone, produce in itself flesh?
A power from above the man must work upon him. According to the language of the Scriptures, "Except a man be born from abovehe cannot see the kingdom of God." The Spirit of God must change the nature, or the heart of stone will never become a heartof flesh! Note that the first works of the Spirit of God upon the soul tend towards this tenderness, for when He comes toa man He convinces him of sin and so softens him. The man convinced of sin does not laugh any longer at sin, neither doeshe despise the wrath of God on account of it. When the Spirit of God darts the arrows of conviction into the soul, then theheart begins to bleed and the man is conscious of feelings and emotions to which he was a stranger before.
I trust there are some of you who understand this first work of the Spirit in the heart-He has begun to make you feel theguilt of sin, He has compelled you to tremble before an angry God and to dread the wrath to come-this early work of Gracehas already made you sensitive as you never were before. And the further the Spirit's work proceeds, the more tender willyou become. When the soul comes to be really saved and to obtain peace through Jesus Christ, one great mark of its salvationis tenderness in heart. Oh, what a place for tenderness the Cross is! When for the first time our eyes behold the Savior,we weep! We look and live, but we also look and mourn that we pierced the Lord. Who can behold a bleeding Savior sufferingfor his sin without being melted down? No heart of stone can bear contact with the Cross.
Let but Jesus dart a look of love and we are dissolved, as once Peter's heart was melted and made to flow out in penitentialtears. Only let us hear the accents of our Redeemer's voice and we shall cry, "My soul melted while He spoke to me." The factthat He loved us and gave Himself for us is enough to dissolve a heart of iron, if it could once know it. Now as these firstworks of the Spirit of God in conviction and conversion lead to tenderness, so it is true of all the Divine operations whichfollow in due course. The whole tenor of the Gospel is towards tenderness. I cannot remember a promise, I cannot recall adoctrine, I cannot remember a fact connected with the Gospel which could make a Believer hard-hearted. Can you? I think, ifyou will turn over all that you know and all that God has revealed concerning salvation, you will find nothing to make youstubborn and willful, but everything to make you tender and sensitive.
Oh, to think that salvation should be of the Sovereign Grace of God! How it humbles us. How it lays us in the dust. No moretalking about man's rights as a creature, man's claims and what God ought to do! We are broken down and feel that the Lordmay do exactly what He wills and thus we are made tender before His face. Oh, to know that there is no pardon except by faithin a Substitute! To understand that God must and will punish sin-how it makes us feel that sin is no trifle! How it leadsus to abhor sin as a great evil and makes us jealous lest we should offend again! When we read that all our help was laidon Jesus Christ, how it cuts away, by the roots, all our self-confidence and makes us lie low at the foot of the Throne ofGod!
I might go through all the Truths of God and Doctrines and promises, if we had time, and I think I could prove to a demonstrationthat their legitimate effect is to render the heart tender, wherever they operate. So it is with every Christian Grace. Allthe Christian virtues promote warmth and tenderness of heart. Have you zeal for God? I know you will be fearful of sinning.You will hate the very garment spotted by the flesh. Have you patience under the Divine rod? That patience is only softnessof heart in one of its sweetest forms. Have you much love? Then I am sure you have much tenderness, for in proportion as theheart is stony it is destitute of affection. Every one of the Divine circle of Graces has an intimate connection with theheart of flesh. And I also venture to say that the more tender a man is the more advanced in Grace he is-and that the morecallous and unconcerned he is the further is he from what he should be. Let the unfeeling professor know, and rest assuredthat if he is a child of God at all, he is certainly in a weak and backsliding state, or his insensibility would be a greatburden and grief to him.
Every Grace leans towards tenderness, and the whole current of the Divine life sets that way. You cannot be strong in pietyunless you are tender in heart. Are you a child? Can a child be good if it is indifferent, haughty, obstinate and stony-heartedtowards its parents? Are you a servant? Who is a good servant but he that is tender of his master's reputation and anxiousto fulfill his lord's command? Are you a soldier? Where is there a good soldier that is not jealous of his captain's honorand careful, lest by any means, he should break the martial law? There must be tenderness. It is an essential point. Unlessit is melted down the hard metal cannot be poured into the mold and fashioned for use and beauty. The Lord Jesus will neverset His seal upon cold wax. He stamps His image on hearts of flesh and not on stones. A tender conscience is an essentialingredient in the perfect Christian character and where it is not, neither is the life and work of
III. Let us dwell upon another point, that THIS TENDERNESS, WHEN IT IS GIVEN, IS OBSERVABLE UNDER SEVERAL ASPECTS. The manwho has a heart of flesh given him becomes sensitive to fear. He trembles at the thought of a holy God in arms against him.He no longer jokes about Hell and eternity, as so many do, but he says, "My heart stands in awe of You and I am afraid ofYour judgments." He no longer argues that the Lord is too severe, but he admits that He is just when He judges and clear whenHe condemns. The renewed heart is afraid of what other men call little sins and flees from them as from a serpent. The regenerateman knows that there is death in every drop of sin's wine and he
will not venture to sip thereof, nor taste a mouthful of sin's most royal dainties. He fears the Lord and dreads to offendbecause he is made alive, so as to know the Lord's holiness and perceive His justice.
The stony heart neither knows nor fears and therefore abides in death. I have little fear for a soul that fears, but I tremblefor those who never tremble. I have sometimes wished that certain, very-assured Christians, as they think themselves, whoare, I fear, in very truth presumptuous pretenders-I wish they could and would have a dash of fear about them. Fear of thekind we now mean is a holy salt to a man's character. Fear and trembling well become even the most eminent saint. "God isgreatly to be feared in the assembly of His saints." "Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling." "Work out yourown salvation with fear and trembling." Though I greatly deplore all doubts of God's truthfulness, I do not equally deprecatedoubts concerning our own condition, for there is such a thing as holy anxiety and I charge you never to think little of it,but remember the poet's lines-
"He that never doubted of his state, He may, perhaps, he may, too late."
self-examination will often suggest holy fear and deep searching of heart-and it will reveal so much of sin in us that weshall be sent to our knees, with weeping and supplication, to cry out for help and pardon. To live without fear is to livein sin, for one mark of a Believer is that he has the fear of God before his eyes. In this sense, "blessed is the man thatfears always." Again, a tender heart becomes sensitive as to the decisions of its enlightened conscience. The heart changedby Grace begins to weigh its own actions towards God and it comes to the conclusion-"I have acted unjustly towards my Creatorand Benefactor. He has been all goodness to me. I have received, at His hands, countless benefits and yet I have ungratefullyforgotten Him. When I heard of Him I treated Him slightingly. I have lived for myself but not for my good and gracious Creator."The quickened conscience holds a daily court and its sentences are heard and respected by the heart of flesh.
In the ungodly man there is a conscience, but it is asleep and needs a cannon fired to wake it up, so that the stony heartis never troubled. Let our prayer be-
"Quick as the apple of an eye, O God, my conscience make. Awake my soul when sin is near, And keep it still awake."
The Christian feels that it is a horrible thing to sin against God, against the Savior's love and against the influence ofthe indwelling Spirit. He starts back from sin-he is not only afraid of the punishment but he is wounded by the sin, itself.As smoke to the eyes, as thorns to the flesh and as gall to the palate, such is sin to the heart of flesh.
Then, again, the new heart, the fleshy heart, becomes sensitive of the Divine love. Is it not one of the most amazing thingsin the world that the story of Calvary does not flood with tears every eye that reads it? Was there ever such touching, affectinglove as that shown by the Son of God towards His enemies when He left the dignities of Heaven for the shame and sufferingof earth? Silly stories of love-sick maids, or the improbable plots of three-volume romances will bring showers of tears fromthose who read them-while this grand narrative, this wondrous tragedy of love-is as a thrice-told tale and the Book whichcontains it is often put upon the shelf as far too dry for reading! Though it concerns us all and we are lost without it-andwith it are lifted up to be near akin to God-yet this dying love of Christ is disregarded.
How can it be otherwise while the heart is made of stone? When his heart is turned to flesh, then the love of God affectsthe man, humbles him, melts him, woos him, wins him, captivates him, enchants him, enamors him, inflames him with ardent thankfulnessand draws him up towards Heaven! Divine Love begets in the renewed man a sensitiveness to gratitude. "Has Jesus done all thisfor me? Then what can I do for Him? Has He bought me with His blood? Then I am His and not my own, or the world's. What canI do for Him who died to save my grateful soul?" The renewed heart feels that the love of Christ constrains it and it judges"that if Christ died for all, then were all dead and that He died for all, that they which live should not live from now onto themselves, but unto Him that died for them and rose again."
Moreover, the heart becomes sensitive, from now on, to holy grief. When it has erred, it chastens and humbles itself for havinggrieved the Savior. It takes revenge upon itself if sin has been indulged. It becomes sensitive to joy and oh, what a joya Christian feels-a joy to which the ungodly man must forever be a stranger! The renewed heart sings at the sound of the Savior'sfootsteps and when His love is shed abroad, no precious ointment can be half so sweet! Oh, the
exhilarations and delights we have known when we clearly see our acceptance in the Beloved! Oh, the feasts and the banquetswhen we have fellowship with the Crucified One! Oh, the ravishments and ecstasies when we look through the open gates of pearland behold our eternal inheritance, the crowns of gold and the palms of victory!
By regeneration we are made capable of an unknown fullness of joy. Every power and faculty is so quickened as to be able toquiver with delight! Heaven itself seems to flash along every nerve when the heart is steeped in fellowship with Jesus! Andso we become sensitive with pity for others. I would give nothing for your religion if you do not desire others to share init. If you can, without emotion, think of a soul being damned, I fear that it will be your own lot. If you can look upon theignorant, the perverse, the rebellious and think of their destruction with complacency, you are no child of God! Your Savior,who is the first-born of the Divine family, wept over Jerusalem. Have you no tears? Then you are not a member of the familyof which He is the Head!-
"Did Christ over sinners weep,
And can our cheeks be dry?
Let drops of sympathetic grief
Distil from every eye."
A heart of stone says, "Let them go where they will: am I my brother's keeper?" But a heart of flesh says, "Lord, help meby any means to save some; it shall be a delight to me to turn sinners from the error of their ways." Where this tendernessof heart is carried to a high point, as it ought to be in every Christian, the Believer becomes delicately sensitive concerningthe things of God. I have seen an instrument for weighing of so exceedingly delicate a nature that it has been affected bya particle of dust quite imperceptible by the naked eye. An invisible atom has turned the scale! We have different kinds ofweighing machines. Some are so rough that they would hardly yield to the pressure of an ounce, but others quiver if the smallestparticle falls upon them. The Believer's heart should be like this last. A Christian's heart should resemble the sensitiveplant, which the moment it is touched, folds up its leaves as a sailor reefs his canvas, or like a wound in a man's fleshwhich is pained by the faintest brush.
Spiritual sensitiveness is fullness of life-insensibility is death. To feel the slightest motion of the Holy Spirit is a signof high spirituality. I would not wish to be, in my heart, like the Great Eastern upon the sea, needing an Atlantic rollerto stir it. I would rather desire to be as the angler's float which mounts or sinks by the force of the least ripple. Spiritof the Lord, thus act upon my willing heart! I want to be so sensitive of the Spirit of God that I may be like the aspen leafwhich trembles even when the breeze is not perceptible to others. We should watch to do God's will and not need His whip andbridle to force us to obedience.
Yet I have known professors who have clearly seen a certain duty to be taught in the Bible, but they have said, "Well, wethink it is Scriptural, but we need to have it brought to us by a deep impression on our mind and our way pointed out by Providentialcircumstances." This is a disobedient spirit and ought to meet with grave censure! The Lord's Word is our guide, not our impressionsor our circumstances! And to the renewed heart it should be enough to know the Lord's will and our obedience should be prompt.On the other hand, if anything is forbidden in the Word, or is clearly wrong, nothing can justify our continuance in it. Weare bound, at once, to forsake it. The great need of this age is sensitiveness about revealed Truth and the Divine will.
We have a Church in our land in which there are three distinct classes of men who all declare that they believe the wholeof the Book of Common Prayer-and it is clearly impossible that they should do so, since these parties have no points of agreementwith one another and wage incessant war with each other. Yet they each one receive it all ex amino, all of it, when no manliving, nor angel, nor devil could believe it all-the book itself being self-contradictory! This, however, is of small consequenceto supple consciences trained to play with language. Some ministers of this Church know their position to be a doubtful oneand yet retain it on the plea that their usefulness might be impaired if they left the Church-is this reasoning fit for Christians?!Are we to seek a supposititious usefulness by continuing where our conscience is ill at ease? Surely not! Our rule of conductis the Divine will, and that only.
Oh, I long to see a race of men born among us like the old Covenanters who would die for the least word of Jesus and wouldgive their blood for the smallest jewel of His crown! But now we are to be charitable and if any of us speak out for God,straightway we are hounded down for lack of charity-whereas it is our great charity for souls that makes us speak out andrun all risks! We have charity for dying men and charity for the age to come! We see deadly error propped up by temporizersand we cannot be silent. If ministers of the Gospel set the example of wresting words and trifling with the
Truth of God, where will this nation's morals be in the next generation? Brothers, we who preach the Gospel must follow thehighest conceivable standard of strict Truth, for God's sake, for our office sake and for the people's sake. We cannot affordto be lax in our solemn declarations, for we shall have to answer for them to our Lord at the Last Great Day.
If we are to be teachers of other men we must, ourselves, be beyond suspicion. We must be inflexible in the Truth of God andsooner die than be false of faith, or preach anything that savors of dishonesty or is tainted with equivocation. We shallnever lead God's troops to victory against error and falsehood if we vacillate ourselves! Oh, for great tenderness of hearttowards the Truth of God! Even though scrupulosity could beget the revival of a fierce sectarianism, it were infinitely moreto be desired than the soul-deceiving charity which is the Diana of this age and the destroyer of souls! Translated into plainEnglish, the current charity of the times only means that it matters not one atom what God has said! Let us make our own systemsand mutually agree to shelve all the inconvenient parts of Revelation. Let us be liberal to our fellow men out of our Lord'sestate-what matters our Lord's honor so long as we make things pleasant all round? In the teeth of this, the sensitive heartwill be faithful and will bear the censure of all men sooner than incur the displeasure of the Lord. Tenderness towards Godwe must have!
Oh, for the old Elijah spirit of stern determination, tempered with the John spirit of love to those whose errors we condemn!Jehovah must be King in this land and the idols must be utterly abolished!
IV. I shall close with a few reflections on the same subject. TENDERNESS OF HEART IS TO BE GREATLY PRIZED AND EARNESTLY CULTIVATED.Some among you may, for the first time, be distressed on account of sin. I rejoice because of it! Some of you are not whatyou used to be-gay and light-hearted. You are now thoughtful and, with that thoughtfulness, sorrowful. You came here thismorning praying that God would give you peace, but you have not obtained it. I pray God to give you your wish, but may younever find peace unless it is the peace of God, peace through Jesus Christ. May your resolution be, "I will never rest untilI rest in God's rest, even in His own dear Son."
Beloved, do not try to get rid of soul alarms, conviction, or sin except in God's way. There are physicians of no value whowould heal your wound if you would let them-do not endure them, for they will only film it over and leave an ulcer beneathwhich will cost you your soul. Ask the Lord to make your minister faithful to you, allow him to use the lance to open thewound and cut out the proud flesh. Yes, ask the Spirit of God to probe you to the quick sooner than allow you to be flatteredinto the conception that you are healed when you are not!
Go to the Lord for healing-all other healing is worthless. Say, "Lord, make sure work of it in me. Save me Yourself. Saveme thoroughly. Deliver me from trusting in myself or my fellow man and bring me to rely, alone only Yourself and Your dearSon." Do not go to amusements which will help you to forget your true condition. Don't be danced or fiddled, or play-acted,into indifference. Be anxious that this bruising and breaking should go on further, that you may be even more conscious ofthe exceeding guilt of sin. You will never prize the Savior until you loathe yourself. You will never love His blood untilyou have been ashamed of the crimson of your own sin. Jesus will never be to you a Savior till you are in your own eyes apoor, lost, ruined sinner. Go to Jesus and put your trust in Him and harden not your heart against Him.
Next, I speak to you, O child of God. Cultivate tenderness of heart more and more. I would say to you who are Christians,do not believe anything, the legitimate result of which would be to make you callous in your spiritual feelings, or lax inyour dealings with your follow men, or careless with your God. I dread lest any of the Truths of God which we profess shouldcome to be so held in unrighteousness as to make us feel easy in sin. Whenever I find a Brother perfectly content with himself,I am afraid for him. I know he does not see the sin that God sees in him, or he would rather bemoan himself than give wayto boasting. I delight to hear men preaching up a high standard of holiness-the higher the better! But if any man should saythat he has reached it, I blush and tremble for him. He had better begin again upon the ladder of sanctification, for he hasnot put his foot on the first step of it yet-for that is humility.
Be very humble, lie very low. Be more and more conscious of your natural guilt and repent more earnestly each day. I proclaimbefore you all that I believe the very best place for a man to stand in is with his arms around the Cross, saying-
"I the chief of sinners am, But Jesus died for me."
I am nothing, but Christ is everything. I am a mass of loathsomeness in myself, but nevertheless accepted in the Beloved.Daily may we fear lest we should fall into a routine religion without life and power. We can sing without real joy or
praise. We can pray without any earnestness or fervency. We can read the Bible without feeding on its Truths. And we can knowthe doctrines of the Gospel without proving their influences upon the heart. Pray against this, yes, pray against all lifelessreligion! I would have my soul vital all over and as sensitive towards God as though it were flayed of all earth-hardenedskin upon it-every Truth, every promise, every Word of God should make me feel intensely, acutely and at once-tenderness ofheart.
I beseech you who are Believers to strive after this. Remember how tender the Savior was. There was no stone about His heart.May you be as tender as He was and you will then be fashioned into the likeness for which God is preparing you by His eternalSpirit. Dread growing hard in your thoughts of sin! Dread growing cold in your thoughts of Christ! Dread growing stony inyour thoughts of your fellow sinners! And let this promise be pleaded in your prayers before God, "I will take away the heartof stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." The Lord fulfill it to you for His Truth's sake and Hisname's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Ezekiel 36.