Sermon 1234. The Final Separation
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them, one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheepfrom the goats." Matthew 25:32.
JESUS Christ, the man of Nazareth, who is also the Son of God, was crucified, dead and buried, and the third day He rose againfrom the dead. After He had showed Himself to His disciples for 40 days-sometimes to one alone, at other times to two or threetogether, and on one occasion to above 500 Brethren at once-He ascended into Heaven. From the Mount Olivet, from the midstof His disciples, He rose into mid air and, by-and-by, a cloud received Him out of their sight. That same Jesus who is goneinto Heaven shall so come in like manner as He was seen to go up into Heaven. That is to say, in Person, in His own risenbody. The same Christ who rose into the skies will, in the latter day, surely descend again. The time of His coming is notrevealed to us-"Of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels of God," but the time is certainly growing nearerevery day, and we cannot tell when the hour shall be.
We are told that He will come quickly. It seems a long time since that was said, even 1,800 years, but we remember that thingswhich are slow with us, may be very quick with the Lord, for one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousandyears as one day. It is not for us to know the times and the seasons. They remain hidden in the purpose of God. For excellentreasons these times and seasons are unrevealed, that we may be always on the watchtower, not knowing at what hour the LordJesus may be revealed.
To the ungodly world He will come as a thief in the night and take them unaware. But we, Brothers and Sisters, are not indarkness that that day should overtake us as a thief. Being children of the day, we are taught to be wakeful, and standingin the clear light, with our loins girt, we ought to be always looking for our Master's appearing. Always are we to be watching,never sleeping. Our text tells us that as one result of His coming there will be a general judgement. I am not going, tonight,to try and arrange the other events which will happen at the Lord's coming.
It is probably true that at His coming there will be, first of all, a resurrection and rewarding of His saints, a dividingof the 10 cities and the five cities, according to the faithfulness of those who were entrusted with talents. And at the closeof that period will come that last tremendous day of which Prophets and Apostles have spoken-
"The day that many thought should never come; That all the wicked wished should never come; That all the righteous had expectedlong; Day greatly feared, and yet too little feared By him who feared it most."
A day of fear and wrath! A day of destruction of the ungodly! A testing day to all mankind! A day which shall burn as an oven!We may tremblingly say of it, "Who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appears? For He is like arefiner's fire and like fuller's soap."
At that day when Christ shall come He shall judge all nations. There will be gathered before Him not only the Jews, to whomthe Law was given, but the Gentiles, also. Not merely those nations who for many an age have heard the Gospel, but those towhom it shall then have been but lately published, for the kingdom of God must be published throughout all nations as a testimonyagainst them. Everywhere Christ will have been preached and, then, from all regions, men shall be summoned to stand beforeHim. Remember, not merely all the living nations, but all the nationalities that have passed away.
There shall rise from the dead the hosts that perished before the flood and those, also, who were drowned amid its awful surges.There, too, shall appear the myriads that followed at the call of Nimrod, the swarms of the sons of Japheth who divided theisles of the Gentiles, and the hordes that marched to battle at the command of the kings of Assyria and
Babylon. The dead of Egypt shall rise from their beds of spices, or from the earth with which their dust has mingled. Thetens of thousands shall be there over whom Xerxes wept when he remembered how soon they would all pass away. The Greek andthe Persian, these, shall rise, and the Roman, too, and all the hordes of Huns and Goths that swarmed like bees from the northernhives. They all passed into the unknown land, but they are not lost-they shall each answer to the muster roll in the GreatDay of the Lord.
The earth, which is now becoming more and more a graveyard, shall yield up her dead and the sea, itself, transformed intoa solid pavement, shall bear upon its bosom the lonely ones who today lie asleep in her gloomy caverns. All of woman bornshall come forth from the prolific womb of the sepulcher-myriads, myriads countless as the drops of the morning, or as thesands of the sea shore. Multitudes, multitudes shall be gathered together in the valley of decision! Their bones shall cometogether and breath shall enter their bodies anew, and they shall live once more. Long as they have slept in the tomb, theyshall all rise with one impulse and start up with one thought-to appear before their Judge.
The Great White Throne shall be set on high, all pure and lustrous, bright and clear like a sapphire, as one vast mirror inwhich man shall see himself and his sins reflected-and on that Throne shall sit the Son of Man. That same Jesus who was nailedto the tree and rose to Heaven shall sit upon the Judgement Seat, appointed to determine the cases of all mankind of everyage. What an assemblage! No imagination can compass it. Far as the eyes can see-yes, far as the eagle's pinion can soar-theearth shall be covered with men like a field with grass in the springtide! And there will they all stand with the Judge uponthe Great White Throne as the common center of observation, for every eye shall see Him, and they, also, that crucified Him.And all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.
It will be a motley throng, as you may well imagine, but the Shepherd, the great Shepherd, the Judge, Himself, shall dividethem. That division will be the one work of the Judgement Day. He will divide them as readily and unerringly as a shepherddivides his sheep from the goats. Your business, tonight, shall be to draw the attention of each one to that division, thateach of you may enquire what will be the result of it upon himself. I have thought it over on my own account, and desire tothink of it, still. I would bid my mind fly into the future and see, for a moment, "the pomp of that tremendous day when Christ,with clouds, shall come."
I would anticipate the verdict of that hour and I would think of the dread alternative of Heaven or Hell. I pray we may allthink of it and, especially you who are unprepared for it, that you may at once fly to Him whose blood and righteousness,alone, can make you hold up your head in that tremendous hour. Three things we shall speak about-the first is the division.The second is the Divider. And the third is the rule of the division.
I. The first, then, is THE DIVISION. "Before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another,as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats." That is to say, first, they shall be divided into two parts-His sheep andthe goats. There shall be two positions-He shall put His sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left. Is there no placefor a third party? No, for the simple reason that there will, then, be no third class. And there will, then, be none for thisreason-that there never was a third class!
I know there are some here, tonight, who dare not say they believe in Jesus, but they would not like to be put down amongthe ungodly. Yet I pray you remember that there are but two books-and in one or the other of those two your name must standrecorded by the hand of God-for there is no third book. There is the Lamb's Book of Life and if your name is there, happyare you! If it is not there, your sins still stand recorded in the book which contains the condemning evidence which willseal the death warrants of unbelievers.
Listen to me! There are in this world, nowhere, any other sort of people beside those who are dead in sin and those who arealive unto God. There is no state between! A man either lives or is dead! You cannot find a neutral condition. A man may bein a swoon, or he may be asleep, but he is alive-there is no state that is not within the boundary of either life or death!Is not this clear enough? There is no state between being converted and unconverted-between being quickened and being deadin sin. There is no condition between being pardoned and having our sins upon us. There is no state between dwelling in darknessand being brought into marvelous light.
One or the other must always be our condition-and this is the great folly of mankind in all times-that they will dream ofa middle state and try to loiter in it. It was for this cause that the old Prophet, standing on Carmel's brow, said, "Howlong halt you between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him: but if Baal, follow him." And it is for this reason thatwe have constantly to call the attention of mankind to the great declaration of the Gospel-"He that be-
lieves and is baptized shall be saved: he that believes not shall be damned." God has given to the preacher two hands, thathe may set the people on each side and deal out the Truth of God to two characters and no more. Be not deceived about it,you are either on the way to Heaven or on the road to Hell.
There is no "purgatory" or middle condition in the next world. "Purgatory" is an invention of the Pope for the filling ofhis cellar and his pantry-and no more profitable speculation has ever been set than the saying of masses and the robbing ofdupes under the pretence of altering that state which is fixed forever! Purgatory Pick-Purse was the name the first Reformersgave it. But you will go to Heaven or to Hell-and you will remain in one place or the other-for you have either a characterthat is fit for Heaven or a character that is fit for Hell. There is no character which can be supposed, if we understandthe Scriptures correctly, which would be fit for a middle place. And neither is there any middle place prepared for it. "Heshall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His righthand, but the goats on the left." The human flock will be divided into two companies.
Observe, next, that they will be divided readily. It is not everybody that could divide sheep from goats. I suppose, accordingto your ordinary judgement of goats, you could very readily tell them from sheep. But one who has traveled in the East andeven in Italy, knows that it takes somewhat tutored eyes to know a certain kind of goat from a certain kind of sheep. Theyare extremely like each other-the wool of some sheep in a warm climate becomes so like hair and the hair of a kind of goatis so much like wool, that a traveler scarcely knows which is which-but a shepherd who has lived among them knows the differencewell.
So in this world, it is easy enough to tell the sinner from the saint in some cases-you need no great wit to discern the charactersof the grossly dishonest, the drunk, the debauched, the Sabbath-breaker, the profane. You know that they have no part amongthe people of God, for they bear upon themselves the ensigns of the children of the Evil One-the immoral are easily separatedfrom the pure in heart. But inside the Church there are a number of persons who have so much about them that looks good andyet so much that is terribly inconsistent, that we are quite unable to discover which is their true nature!
Thank God we are not called upon to judge them, nor even allowed to do so. The most experienced pastor must scarcely attemptto do so. Certainly, if he feels so much trouble about the matter that he takes it to his Lord and asks for directions asto how to deal with these tares, he will be told to let them grow on till harvest time, lest in rooting up the tares he shouldroot up, also, the wheat with them. I talked, today, to a certain good man who labors hard among the poor in the East end.He said, "We have a great number who profess to be converted, but," he said, "I do not think that much more than one in fiveactually stay and turn out to be really so.
"But," he said, "we have no trouble about them in the Church-no such trouble as you would be likely to have with your people,because," he said, "among the class of people who go to the Tabernacle there is a feeling that it is right to go to the Houseof God at least once on the Sabbath, if not twice. And if persons join the Church, there, they will, from habit. continueto attend. But," he said, "the moment a man of the poorest class ceases to be a Christian in heart, he ceases, at the sametime, to attend the public services, because there is no fashion to keep him up to it. And so he follows his own tastes, stopsat home and loafs about, and in all probability gets drunk, or falls into some other of the common vices of his class, andhe is sifted off at once."
In such cases the classes are easily separated. But among a more respectable class of people, who do not drink and who observethe Sabbath, you will have a number of people who remain in the Church, though they have no secret piety, no real love toChrist, no private prayer and, therefore, there is all the more danger. Now, dear Friends, what we cannot do, and must nottry to do, Jesus Christ will do easily enough. The Shepherd, when He comes, will soon separate His sheep from the goats. Hiseyes of fire will read each heart. The hypocrites in the Church will tremble in a moment- instinctively reading the meaningof that glance, as Christ, will, by that glance say to them, "What are you doing, here, among My people?"
Remember, that as the division will be made readily it will be made Infallibly, that is to say, there will not be found amongthe goats one poor trembling sheep left to be driven off with the unclean herd. When Christ says, "Depart, you cursed," Hewill not say that to one sincere but feeble soul. Ah no, you may condemn yourself, but if you really have a living faith,the Lord will not condemn you. You may often be afraid that He will bid you depart, but He will not. No
lamb of His flock shall be among the goats! The whole company of His redeemed shall be safely gathered into their eternalmansions-
"Lord, those shall bear that day, so dread, so splendid, Whose sins are, by Your merits covered over, Who when Your hand ofmercy was extended, Believed, obeyed, and owned Your gracious power; These, mighty God, shall see without dismay The earthand Hea ven before them pass away!" The sword cuts the other way, too, and therefore be sure of this, that there will be nogoat allowed to enter the pastures of the blessed among the sheep! No unconverted graceless person will follow the Great Shepherdto those living fountains, above, which afford eternal draughts of bliss to the purchased flock. Though the sinner may haveled a sort of outwardly consistent life for 40 or 50 years. Though he may have preached the Gospel and done many wonderfulworks, yet Christ will say to him, "I never knew you." He will not be able to keep on his sheep's clothing, then, or bleatany longer in sheep fashion-Christ will know him under whatever disguise he may wear! He will find him out and drive him tohis own place, so that not a single one of the accursed shall enter into the city with the blessed. It will be an Infalliblejudgment! There is, therefore, good reason that we are prepared for it. There is no bribing or deceiving the Judge and noavoiding His tribunal. Oh, be ready to face that eye which will read you through and through!
That division, when it shall take place, let me further beg you to remember, will be very keen and sharp. Think it over, thinkit over, for some of you may have to smart through it. Two men shall be in the field, one shall be taken and the other left.There were two laborers who worked together, they had guided the same plow and driven the same oxen, but the one shall beupon the right hand and the other on the left. Two carpenters at the same bench had handled the same hammer and the same plane,but one shall be taken and the other left. Two had served in one shop at the same counter with the same goods-and one shallbe taken and the other left-they were familiar acquaintances and old shop mates, but one shall rejoice to hear the welcome"Come," and the other shall tremble as he receives the dread sentence, "Depart."
Alas, the division will come closer home, still. Two women shall be in one house-the one shall be taken and the other left.Two women shall be grinding at the mill, that is, engaged about the household duties, grinding the morning's breakfast corn-oneshall be taken and the other left. So you may be two servants in the same house, cook and housemaid, one saved and the otherlost. Two sisters living together under the same roof, one brought into Glory and the other cast into shame. Two of you maybe dwellers under the same roof, eating bread at the same table, drinking from the same cup and yet one of you shall feastat the eternal banquets and the other shall cry for a drop of water to cool their burning tongue! You would not like to beseparated, but separated you must be.
Alas, there will be a separation still more painful! Two shall be in one bed, the one shall be taken and the other left-thehusband torn away from the wife-and the wife taken from her husband. Oh, there will be partings, there will be partings and,consequently there will be weeping, there will be weeping at the Judgement Seat of Christ! Not for the godly, for in themthe glory of their Lord will swallow up all other thought, but for the Christless, the prayerless, the graceless. Oh, thewailing of the children, and the wailing of the women, and the wailing of the husbands, and the wailing of the fathers whentheir children are saved, or their parents are saved, or their husbands and wives are saved-and they themselves are cast outforever!-
"O there will be mourning Before the Judgement Seat, When this world is burning Beneath Jeho vah's feet. Friends and kindredthen shall part, Shall part to meet no more; Wrath consume the rebel's heart, While saints on high adore!"
The separation will be agony, indeed, to the lost! I could scarcely have the heart to bid a man, "good-bye," if I knew thatI should never see him again. The worst wish I could entertain concerning the worst enemy I ever had-though I do
not know that I have one in the world-would not go so far as to say I wished I might never see him again. Since I hope I shallbe where Jesus is, I should like to see him, be he who he may, and see him there among the blessed. But it must not be. Itmust not be if sinners will not repent of sin if they persist in rejecting Jesus Christ. Unless you believe in Jesus, theparting will be keen and cutting, dividing between joints and marrow, tearing asunder marriage ties and bonds of filial orparental affection-slaying all vain hopes forever. O impenitent souls, I could weep for you! If you are linked in blood relationshipwith the saints, it will not help you if you die unregenerate! Though you were bone of each other's bone, and flesh of eachother's flesh, yet must you be separated unless you are one with Christ! I entreat you unregenerate ones to lay this to heartat once and trifle no longer!
That division, dear Friends, remember, will be very wide as well as very keen, for the division will be such as will be representedin its distance by Heaven and by Hell-and what a distance is that! The distance between God and Satan! Between happiness andmisery! Between Glory and everlasting contempt! Between infinite joy and boundless sorrow! Between songs and weeping! Betweentriumphs and wailing, feasting and gnashing of teeth! If the only division would be such as might arise from difference indegrees of Glory, (if such there is), one might still pine to have the companionship of our dear ones-but the difference isbetween Heaven and Hell-and Christ says of it that there is "a great gulf fixed" so that they that would pass from us to youcannot and neither can they come to us that would come from there. The distance will be wide as eternity, the separating gulfwill be deep as the abyss and impassable as Hell.
And, remember, the separation will be final. There is no flinging a bridge across that vast abyss. Damned spirits may lookdown into that dread gulf, into the unutterable blackness of its darkness, but they will never see a hope of crossing to theland of the blessed. The key is lost-they can never come out of the dungeon of despair. "Forever, forever, forever," is writtenupon the chain which binds the lost spirit! No hope of restoration was ever indulged by a man in Hell and it is idle to dreamabout it now. Of all figments of the imagination, it has the least support in Scripture. The lost sinner is forever separatedfrom Jesus and from the disciples of Jesus, however near akin in the flesh those disciples may have been to him. Unalterableand eternal is the separation!
Beloved, these are such weighty things that while I dwell upon them I feel far more inclined to sit down and weep than tostand up and speak to you. The theme causes me to feel the weakness of mere words and in a measure makes me lose the powerof expression, for what if any ofyou should be lost forever? It was a touching thing to me, yesterday, when I saw a Sisterin Christ who has been my hearer for many years. She told me that she was decided for Christ by my saying, when I went awaylast time, that perhaps I might never address you again and might find a grave in a foreign land. I felt that it might beso at the time I uttered the words, though I am glad that they have not been fulfilled.
She thought, "Well, he has been preaching to me these many years, and if I die unconverted, I shall never see him again."And then it flashed across her mind, "How much worse to feel that I shall never see the King in His beauty! I shall neversee the Savior!" And she was thus led by the Holy Spirit to give her heart to Jesus. Perhaps the Lord may use the thoughtof this separation to move some of you to say, "I will come to Jesus and I will rest in Him." O Lord, my God, grant it maybe so, for Jesus' sake!
II. We have spoken about the division. We will now have a few words about THE DIVIDER. "He shall separate them, one from another."Christ Jesus will be the Divider of the race of men into two parts and this I am glad to know, because, first of all, thiswill be the occasion of lasting, yes, of eternal joy to all the saints. No child of God will ever have a doubt in Heaven,but it is necessary that they begin their bliss with a very strong assurance of Divine Love, or else, I think, they might.
Unless God had ordained the method at which the text hints, I could well imagine myself in Heaven saying to myself, afterI had been there a little while, "Oh, can it be, can it be that I am here? I do remember the sin of such a day and the shortcomingsof such an hour, and my murmurings, and my unbelief, and all my departures from my God, and am I here, after all?" I couldimagine, if there had not been the means used to put an end to such a possibility, my saying, "Surely I am to taste this onlyfor a moment that I may be driven to my due deserts, after all, that my Hell may be made the more terrible because I haveseen what Heaven is, and that my hunger may grow the more intolerable because I have eaten of the bread of angels."
If such a fear were possible, behold the answer to it. "He, the Judge, the Judge, the Judge, Himself, has said, 'Come, youblessed of My Father.'" That Judge cannot be mistaken, for He is Jesus the Infallible Son of God! God Himself has
blessed His chosen and Jesus tells them so in the most plain terms-"Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom preparedfor you." Since Jesus has decreed this everlasting happiness, the child of God cannot doubt throughout eternity! That voicewill sound forever in his ears, sweeter than music of flute or harp or dulcimer! "Come, you blessed of My Father." Why, itwill be the very basis of the bliss of Heaven to think, "Jesus bade me come. Who shall ask me the question, 'How came youin here?' Did not He admit me? Who shall question my right to be here? Did not He say, 'Come, you blessed of My Father'?"
Do you not see that it is a choice and comforting fact that we shall not divide ourselves at the last, nor shall an angeldo it who might err, but the Divider will be Jesus, Himself, the Son of God! And, therefore, the Glory which He metes outto us will be most surely ours and we may enjoy it without fear. But then, note on the other hand, that this will increasethe terror of the lost, that Christ will divide them. Christ, full of infinite Love, would He destroy a sinner unless it mustbe! He that would have saved Jerusalem and wept because it must be destroyed! The guilty city was resolved to perish, butas her Lord pronounced the sentence, He wept! When I hear of a judge putting on the black cap to condemn a man, I like toread in the papers, "The judge's voice faltered and he was evidently unable to suppress his emotion as he uttered the sentenceof death."
What right-minded man could be otherwise than moved when compelled to deliver his fellow creature to the gallows? But no judgeon earth has such compassion for his fellow man as Jesus has for sinners! And when it comes to this, that He says, "I mustdo it, I must condemn you," then, Sinner, it must be so, indeed! When Incarnate Love says, "Depart, you cursed," you mustbe cursed with an emphasis. You must be infamous beings, indeed, when He, whose lips drop blessings as lilies drop sweet-smellingmyrrh-when He calls you so! There must be something very horrible about you that He should bid you, "depart." And, indeed,there is an abominable thing in you, for unbelief in God is the most horrible thing, even in Hell!
Not to believe that God is Love is worthy of the utmost condemnation. You will have to say, if you are lost, "I was condemnedby the most loving Judge that ever sat upon a judgement seat. The Christ that died lifted His pierced hands at the very momentwhen He said, 'Depart, you cursed!'" Yet there is something more, though this might be enough. If you should be lost, as Godforbid you should, it will infinitely add to your terror to know that you were condemned by One who is infinitely Just. Youwill feel that the Christ who condemned you was the holiest of Men, in whom was no sin and, besides that, He is pure and perfectGod, so that you will not be able to quibble at the sentence. Neither will there be any question about a new trial-your ownconscience will make you feel that the decision is final, for it is just-and you will be too well assured of its reality andcertainty, for He who will pronounce that sentence is the God of Truth. He said, "I am the way and the truth." You would nothave Him for the way, but you will find Him to be "the truth." And when He pronounces you cursed, cursed you will be beyondall question!
Once more, if He that condemns you is the Christ of God, you will know that He has power to carry out the sentence, for allpower is given unto Him in Heaven and in earth, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And if He says, "Depart intoeverlasting fire," into that fire you must go. If He declares that the fire shall never be quenched, depend upon it, it willburn on forever. And if He decrees that the worm shall never die, that worm will live and gnaw to all eternity, for He whogives forth the sentence is able to make it good. Remember how He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Heaven and earthshall pass away, but My Word shall never pass away"? Firmer than the rocks shall stand the irrevocable decree-"these shallgo away into everlasting punishment and the righteous into life eternal." My soul trembles while I thus proclaim Jesus asthe Judge whose awful voice divides the sinners from the saints.
III. Lend me your ears but for a minute or two longer, while I notice, in the third place, THE RULE OF THE DIVISION. Did younotice where the division is made? It is very wonderful to notice-very wonderful, indeed! The great division between the sonsof men is Christ. Here are the sheep-there are the goats. What separates them? Christ! He is the center! There is no greatbarrier set up, as it were, on that last tremendous day, but He, Himself is the division. He shall set the sheep on His righthand and the goats on His left.
Now, that which parts us tonight into two portions is our relationship to Jesus Christ. On which side of Christ are you, tonight?I want you to question yourselves about that. If you are on His right hand, you are among His people. If you are not withHim, you are against Him, and so are on His left hand. That which parts the saint and the sinner is Christ. The moment a sinnercomes to Christ he passes over to the other side and is numbered with the saints. This is the
real point of separation. Christ stands between the Believers and the unbelievers, and marks the boundary of each class. WhenAaron stood between the living and the dead swinging the censer full of incense, what separated the dead from the living?Remember the scene before you answer the question.
There they lie! There they lie, I say, stricken with pestilence! The unseen avenger has slain them in heaps. But here arethe living, rejoicing and safe. What separates them? The priest standing there with the censer! Even thus, our great HighPriest stands, at this moment, between the living and the dead, while the incense of His merits ascends before God and makesthe most real dividing wall between dead sinners and those who are alive unto God by Jesus Christ. Christ is the Divider!Christ is, Himself, the Division. But what is the rule by which He separates the people? The rule of the division is, first,actions. Actions! Did you notice that? He says nothing about words. He dwells upon deeds of mercy, "I was hungry and you gaveMe meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was naked and you clothed Me." These are all actions.
Now, perhaps you would have liked the Judge to have said, "You were in the habit of singing hymns out of 'Our Own Hymn Book.'You were known to talk very sweetly about Me and call Me, Master and Lord. You were accustomed to sit at the Communion Table."Not a word is said about these things! No, nor is anything said about ceremonial actions. He does not say, "You used to bowbefore the crucifix. You reverently stood up at one part of the service and knelt at another. You walked round the Churchsinging the processional hymn." Nothing is said about these performances, only common actions are noticed-"I was hungry andyou gave Me meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink." These are all commonplace matters. Actions will be the great ruleat the Last Judgment.
I am not preaching, now, contrary to the Gospel, but only repeating in other words what our Lord, Himself, has said. "We shallgive an account for the deeds done in the body, whether they are good, or whether they are evil," is the statement, not ofthe Law, but of the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Those that have done evil shall go away into eternalpunishment. Are we, then, saved by our works? By no means! Yet our works are the evidences of our being saved-and Grace willbring out these evidences in our lives if we possess them. A Magistrate judges by the actions as proved upon evidence. Itis true he may and will have respect to the motive which urged the action, but first of all the actions, themselves, mustbe before him in evidence. And so here the King mentions the actions that were done.
Let us notice that the actions which were the rule ofjudgement were, all of them, actions about Christ. I want you to carefullynote this. The Lord says, "/ was hungry and you gave Me meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was sick and you visitedMe." This summary is made up of actions about Christ. I will, therefore, earnestly put this question to each of you-What actionshave you ever done in reference to Jesus? "I am a Church member," says one. I will not hear about that just now, because theJudge will not say anything about it. I am glad you are an avowed disciple, if you are honestly so, but do your actions provethat you are really so? That is the question. Have you ever done anything for Christ? Have you ever given anything to Christ?
Could Christ say to you, "I was hungry and you gave Me meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink"? Now, I know some professorsof whom I fear that Jesus Christ could not speak thus, for He cannot speak that which is not true. Their pockets are hermeticallysealed, like tins of Australian meat-even the smell of their money never reaches Christ's poor. Give meat to a hungry man?Not they! Let him go to the parish. Give clothes to a naked man? Not they! What do we pay taxes for? The idea of giving anythingto another, or doing anything for another, without getting paid for it or praised for it, seems to them to be out of all character!
Now, selfishness is as much opposed to the spirit of the Gospel as the cold of the northern region is to the warmth of thesun. If the sun of Christ's love has shone into your heart, you will love others and you will show your love to others bydesiring to do them good in all sorts of ways. And you will do it for Christ's sake-for Christ's sake-so that when He comes,He will be able to say, "I was hungry and you gave Me meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was sick and you visitedMe. I was in prison under reproach and you came unto Me." What have your actions been with regard to Christ? I pray you, Brothersand Sisters, who are one with me in the profession of allegiance to Christ, judge yourselves by your actions with regard toHim, as I, also, will judge myself.
Now, notice that Christ, as it were, inferentially, tells us that the actions which will be mentioned at the Judgement Day,as the proof of our being the blessed of the Lord, spring from the Grace of God, for He says, "You blessed of My Father, inheritthe kingdom prepared for you from before the foundations of the world." They fed the hungry, but Sovereign Grace had firstfed them. They clothed the naked, but Infinite Love first clothed them. They went to the prison, but
Free Grace had first set them free from a worse prison. They visited the sick, but the Good Physician, in His Infinite Mercy,first came and visited them!
They evidently had no idea that there was anything meritorious in what they did. They had never dreamed of being rewardedfor it. When they stand before the Judgement Seat, the bare idea of there being any excellence in what they have done willbe new to the saints, for they have formed a very low estimate of their own performances-and what they have done seems tothem too faulty to be commended. The saints fed the hungry and clothed the naked because it gave them much pleasure to doso. They did it because they could not help doing it-their new nature impelled them to it. They did it because it was theirdelight to do good and was as much their element as water for a fish or the air for a bird! They did good for Christ's sake,because it is the sweetest thing in the world to do anything for Jesus.
Why is it that a wife is so kind to her husband? Because it is her duty, you say. All very well, but the real reason is becauseshe loves him so intensely. Why is a mother so careful over her baby? Is there any rule or act of Parliament commanding mothersto be fond of their little ones? No, there is no act of Parliament. There is an act of God in the bosom, somewhere, passedin the chamber of the heart, and the mother cannot but be kind. Now, when the Lord puts a new nature into us and makes usone with Jesus Christ, we cannot help loving His people! And, seeking the good of our fellow men and the Lord Jesus Christwill be, at the Last Day, an evidence that there was love in the heart, because love was shown by your actions. May God grantthat when the Judge of all shall come, we may be found renewed in heart and full of love through the power of His Holy Spirit.
"Oh," says one, "I wish I had that renewed heart which would produce such actions." Jesus can give it to you! You will alwayslive for self in some sense or other until you are saved-even the most philanthropic who have loved their fellow creaturesbest, without religion-have generally sought their own esteem. And the verse is true concerning the praise of our fellow creatures-
"The proud, to gain it, toils on toils endure;
The modest shun it but to make it sure." But when you receive a new heart you will not live for the approbation of your fellowmen. Then your alms will be done in secret and you will not let your left hand know what your right hand does. Then, whenyou do your kindnesses, it will not be that others may publish abroad the announcement that you have visited the sick andclothed the naked, but your deeds will be done behind the door and in the corner, where none shall know of them but your Godand the grateful recipients of your bounty.
You will quietly put into the treasury the two mites that make a farthing and think yourself unobserved, but One who sitsover against the treasury, who knows your heart, will take good note of it. Your Lord will accept what you do because youdo it out of love to Him-and at the Last Great Day, while you blush to hear it, He will tell it to the angels and to the listeninghosts of earth and Heaven-and swing wide the gates of immortal bliss and let you in, according to the promise of His Grace.God bless you, Beloved, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Matthew 25. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-846, 362, 360.