Sermon 1302. Good Cheer For Outcasts
A SERMON DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 15, 1876,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"He gathers together the outcasts of Israel." Psalm 147:2.
DOES not this show us the great gentleness and infinite mercy of God? And as we know most of God in the Person of our Lord,Jesus Christ, should it not charm us to remember that when He came on earth He did not visit kings and princes, but He cameunto the humble and simple folk? He did not seek out Pharisees, wrapped up in their own supposed righteousness, but He soughtout the guilty, for He said, "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick."
The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost! It would have seemed natural that our Lord Jesus, when Hecame here, should, first of all, have addressed Himself to the most respectable people He could find and should have sentHis message to the rabbis of Jerusalem, to the senators at Rome, to the philosophers of Greece. But instead, the common peopleheard Him gladly and He rejoiced in spirit while He said, "I thank You, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because You havehid these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Yoursight."
I think you may judge of a man's character by the persons whose affection he seeks. If you find a man seeking only the affectionof those who are great, depend upon it, he is ambitious and self-seeking. But when you observe that a man seeks the affectionof those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he, himself, is not seeking, but thatpure benevolence sways his heart. When I read in the text that the Lord gathers together the outcasts of Israel-and when Isee that the text is truly applicable to the Lord Jesus Christ, because this is just what He did-I see another illustrationof the gentleness of His heart, who said, "Take My yoke upon you, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find restunto your souls."
Be glad tonight, dear Friends, that we gather around such a Savior as this, from whom all pride and self-seeking are absentand who, coming down among us in gentleness and meekness, comes to gather those whom no man cares for- those who are judgedto be worthless and irreclaimable! He comes to gather together the outcasts of Israel! Applying this text to our Lord JesusChrist, we not only see His gentleness, but we also clearly see an illustration of His love to men, as men. If you seek onlyafter rich men, suspicion arises-and it is more than suspicion-that you seek their wealth rather than they. If you aim onlyat the benefit of wise men, it is probably true that it is their wisdom which attracts you, and not their manhood.
But the Lord Jesus Christ did not love men because of any advantageous circumstances, or any commendable incidents of theircondition. His love was to manhood. He loved His own chosen people as men, not as this or that among men. He has no respectfor rank, nor care for wealth. A man is a man with Christ whether the "guinea-stamp" is there or not. He died not for titlesand dignities, but for men. "Not yours, but you," our Lord Jesus could truly say. Where Jesus Christ sees a man, though heis an outcast, an outlaw or one condemned by the law of his own country-He sees a human being-a creature capable of awfulsin and terrible misery, but yet, renewed by Grace, capable of bringing wondrous glory to the Most High.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, by gathering together the outcasts, proves that it is not the things which surround men, but the men,themselves, that He cares for. He considers not so much where a man is, but what he is-not what he has learned, or what heis thought of, or what he has done-just what he is. The man is the jewel. The immortal soul is the Pearl of Great Price whichJesus seeks as a merchantman seeks goodly pearls. Another thing is also clear. If Jesus gathers together the outcasts of Israel,it proves His power over the hearts of men. There is a certain class of men who follow that which is morally good becausethe Lord has given them a noble disposition. Thank God, He has, in mercy, been pleased to give
some men a desire after that which is beautiful and true. They, too, are merchantmen seeking goodly pearls, and it is notdifficult, when the heart is brought into such a desirable state, for the excellence and beauty of Jesus Christ to attractit!
But here is a tug of war-there are men still left in the guilt and filthiness of human nature who have no desire after thatwhich is good-but whose entire longings are after evil, only evil and that continually. These have no more eye to anythingthat is high and noble than the swine has for the stars. The minister of Christ may appeal to them, but he will appeal invain. And Providence may warn them, by the deaths of others and by personal sickness, but they are not to be separated fromthe earth to which they are glued. Yet our Lord Jesus can gather together even these, the outcasts of Israel! Such is Hispower that He does not stop till He sees good desires in men-He imparts those desires to those who have them not! Such arethe charms of His Cross, that blind eyes are made to see by its beauty! Such is the music of His voice, that deaf ears areopened by it! Such is the majesty of His life, that the dead hear His voice and they that hear are made to live!
No groundwork of goodness is asked or expected from any man that Christ may come and act upon it-He takes man in his ruinand in the extremity of his depravity-and begins with him then and there. When the good Samaritan came to the wounded man,he did not wait for him to make the first advance, or come a little towards him. He went to him, where he was, and pouredinto his wounds the oil and the wine. So the Lord comes where hurtful nature is and, bad as its condition is, He stoops toit and He gathers together the outcasts of Israel! Oh, it is a wonderful thing, this, that there should be attractions aboutthe Lord Jesus Christ which can draw to Him those whom nothing else that is good can possibly stir!
You may preach virtue to the sinner, but he does not practically yield to its charms. You may preach to the drunk, to theunchaste, to the immoral, the beauties and excellences of honesty and of all the virtues and the Graces, but little good willcome of it-the result is infinitesimal. You may charm very wisely upon those subjects, but these deaf adders do not care forcharming. We have heard of a Divine who said that he had preached honesty till he had not an honest person left in the parish!And he preached of virtue till he did not know where Diogenes, with his lantern, could find it! Nothing worth having comesof preaching when Christ is not the theme!
You may preach the Law and men will be frightened by it, but they will forget their fears. Yet if Jesus Christ is preached,He draws all men unto Him. The most wicked will listen to the news of Him who is able to save unto the uttermost them thatcome unto God by Him. The most stubborn have been known to weep when they have heard the story of His grief and of His love!The most proud have found themselves suddenly humbled at His feet, of which some of us are witnesses, for we marveled to findthe hardness and loftiness of our hearts suddenly removed by a sense of His goodness! I do not believe that we preachers havehalf enough, or a tenth enough faith in Jesus Christ. If we could preach Jesus Christ to a company of convicted felons, shouldwe be wrong in hoping to see the larger part of them converted on the spot?
If we had but faith enough to preach to them as we should, aiming directly, distinctly and believingly at their souls, mightwe not look for great results? We go so timidly, so doubtingly to work. We pray that God would save some out of our congregationsand that He would be pleased to bless the Word here and there! But, such a splendid Gospel as we have to preach should notbe preached so, nor should we so pray about it! When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, it was not withthis prayer-"Lord, grant that one or two of those who are bitten by the serpent may look and live." No, Moses came out boldlywith his serpent high upon the pole! He believed that thousands would look-they did look-and they lived! May we, after thesame manner, proclaim Jesus who "gathers together the outcasts of Israel."
Now, with this introduction, I would speak upon the text a little more particularly, and we shall observe with brevity, first,to whom the text applies-"He gathers together the outcasts of Israel." Secondly, we shall consider in what sense He may besaid to gather them. And then, thirdly, what lesson this teaches us.
I. First, then, TO WHOM MAY THIS TEXT APPLY-"He gathers together the outcasts of Israel"? It refers to several classes indifferent ways. First, it is a fact that our Lord Jesus gathered together some of the very poorest and most despised amongmen- those who might, under some respects, be regarded as outcasts. And it is certain that, to this day, the Gospel comesin the largest measure of power to the poor of this world. Often, too, it comes with amazing power to those who are despisedby others, or are regarded as being of inferior degree.
You know that at this time it is boastfully said by the enemies of the Gospel that the culture, the brain, the intellect,the education of England is all on the side of skepticism. I am not so sure. When people say that they possess a great deal
of brains, I am not certain that their claim is correct, unless it is that as sheep have a good deal of brains and yet arenot the wisest animals in the world, so these gentlemen, also, are no wiser than they should be. As to those gentlemen whoso evidently claim to be the cultured people, who monopolize all the sweetness and the light, I am not clear that they haveall the modesty. It does seem to me that if they talked in a lower key, it would be as well. And if they thought a littleless of their own culture and allowed a little more to other people, we might have more faith in this wonderful "culture"of theirs.
Some of us have failed to see the deep thought and the profound learning we were told to look for in the books of the skepticalcultured mind and, therefore, we are less patient when we hear the perpetual bragging of our foes. Still, let it stand so.We will not quarrel with it. Suppose it to be so-that none but foolish people embrace the old-fashioned faith-Puritanism which,they say, is nearly dead-the old evangelism which they ridicule as being exploded. Let it be so, that we are an inferior orderof people with very little brains and all that. Well, we are not out of heart on that account, because we find that it sohappened in our Savior's day and has happened all days since-that the wisdom of the world has been at enmity with God.
And it has also flamed out that the foolishness of God has been wiser than men and God has mastered human wisdom by the foolishnessof preaching! By that Gospel which wise men laughed at as being folly, God has brought carnal wisdom to nothing! The LordJesus Christ looks with love on those whom others look down upon with scorn-
"He takes the fool and makes him know.
The wonders of His dying love,
To lay aspiring wisdom low,
And all our pride reprove."
I am thankful when I meet with poor saints and see what a grip humble men and women get of the promises of God. Laboring men,humble shepherds and the like have often been more distinguished for deep insight into the mysteries of Grace than learneddoctors of divinity! Where there has been little in the cupboard and the provision on the table has been but slender, therehas been more enjoyment of the favor of God than among the great ones of the earth!
They may regard those who still stand by the old-fashioned Truth of God as being outcasts from the commonwealth of lettersand not worthy to be named among the cultured intellects of the age, but if the Lord will but gather us continually to Hisbosom and refresh us with Himself, we shall be content! The text should be a source of joy to us if any of us happen to beextremely poor-so poor that even Christian men are so ungenerous as to give us the cold shoulder, or if we happen to be thedespised ones of our family. Here and there, sad to say it, there will be, in families, a better one than the rest, less thoughtof than the others-a Joseph whom his brothers hate because he loves his God.
Well, you may become as a stranger to your mother's children and you may have no one to give you a good word, yet may youput this verse under your tongue as a sweet morsel-"He gathers together the outcasts of Israel." Those who are lowest in theesteem of men are still remembered by the Lord! The text may be applied very well to those who have made themselves outcastsby their wickedness and are deservedly cast out of society. May God grant that none of us may be, or may have been, amongthat number. But if I should be addressing any such at this time, I have a word for them. If there should be some such here,tonight, who do not often attend places of worship, but have dropped in from curiosity, I may suppose your case to be thatof one who has broken a mother's heart and brought a father's gray hairs to the grave with grief.
You have lived such a life that your own brothers could scarcely be expected to acknowledge you. You have sinned and sinnedterribly. Man or woman-for woman, also, becomes an outcast-she is too severely treated, as a general rule, and more oftenbecomes an outcast than the man who deserves it more! If I address such, it is a great joy to me to know that our Lord JesusChrist can save the most wicked of the wicked, the most fallen of the fallen, the most depraved of the depraved! If you havesunk so low that there is not much to choose between you and a devil-and some men and women do get as low as that-yet JesusChrist can lift you up!
If your life story is such that it would be a pity it should ever be told and most grievous that it should ever have beenenacted, yet Jesus can wash all the stains of your life away and save you, even you! Only one such may be present here tonight,but I make no apology for concentrating my whole thoughts upon one single person! I leave the 99, to go after the one lostsheep, that in the one lost one may be revealed the richness and freeness of the Grace of God in Jesus Christ! Come, then,Outcast! Come to your Redeemer and find pardon! "Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as snow!
Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool!" Jesus is able to wash away every transgression from those who aresteeped in guilt. Countless iniquities dissolve and disappear before the presence of His mighty love, for He, even Jesus,gathers together the outcasts of Israel!
Is there no helper on earth? Yet is there One in Heaven! Is there no friend below? Yet is there One above! Is there nothingthat can save you? Do you contemplate suicide? Stop, stop your hand, for Jesus is "able to save to the utter-most"-to theuttermost-"them that come unto God by Him." Let the prayer go up, "God be merciful to me a sinner," and go your way with hopein your soul, for "He gathers together the outcasts of Israel."
A third class of persons consists of those who judge themselves to be outcasts, though, as to outward actions they certainlydo not deserve the label. Many who have written about John Bunyan have been surprised at the description which he gives ofhis own life, for it does not appear that, with the sole exception of the use of blasphemous language, John Bunyan was oneof the very worst of mankind. But he thought himself to be so. Now it often happens-I do not say always, but I think it isgenerally so-that when the Spirit of God comes, with power, to the conscience and awakens it, the man judges himself to bethe very chief of sinners.
For it may be that you have never gone into actual vice. You have never been a blasphemer or dishonest. You have, on the contrary,from the instructions of your childhood, been led into the path of right-and yet, when you are awakened, you may feel yourselfto be vilest of the vile. Everything that is lovely and of good report has been found in you- you do not know the time inwhich you would not have been shocked to hear a blasphemous word-and yet when the Holy Spirit awakens you, you will pleadguilty among the very worst! I know in my own case I had a horror of ungodliness. And, yet, when the Spirit of God came tome, I felt myself to be far worse than the swearer or the drunk-for this reason-that I knew that many who indulged in thoseopen sins did so ignorantly. They did so from the imitation of those in whose society they had been brought up.
But as for me, with a godly parentage, with a mother's prayers and tears, with light and knowledge, understanding the letterof the Gospel, having read the Bible from my youth, up, I felt that my sins were blacker than those of others because I hadsinned against light and knowledge. And you must have felt the same, I am persuaded. Perhaps you are even, now, feeling it.You remember that night when you stifled conviction, when conscience had an earnest battle with you and it seemed that youmust yield to God and to His Christ-but you deliberately did violence to the inward principle and resolved to go on in sin.Do you remember that? If you do, it will sting you as does a serpent, now that you are under conviction of sin-and you willfeel yourself to be the very chief of sinners on account of it, though no public sin may ever have stained your life.
Well, I should not wonder, if such is your condition, that you also judge that there is no salvation for you-that God mightsave your mother, your brother, or your friend-but not you. You believe the blood of Jesus to be very precious, but you thinkit never will be applied to you. You heard, the other day, of the conversion of a friend and you felt glad, but at the sametime you thought, "Grace will never come to me." When the preacher has exhorted his hearers to believe in Jesus Christ, youhave said, "Ah, but I-I cannot! I am in a condition in which that Gospel is of no use to me." You think yourself an outcast.You feel that you deserve to be.
You are not content to be so, but, at the same time, you could not blame the Lord if He left you to perish. You feel thatyour transgressions have been so great that if He should leave you out of His gracious plans and Grace should come to othersand not to you, you could only bow your head in bitterest sorrow and say, "You are just, O God." Now, listen, you who havecondemned yourself! The Lord absolves you! You who have shut yourself out as an outcast, you shall be gathered! For whereasthey call you an outcast, whom no man seeks after, you shall be called Hephzibah, for the Lord's delight is in you! Only believein Jesus Christ and cast yourself upon Him! Outcasts of this sort are the people who most gladly welcome Christ. People whohave nowhere else to go but to Him-people so cast down, so full of sin, so everything but what they ought to be-these arethe people to whom Christ is very precious!
"Oh," says one, "but I do not feel like that. I cannot feel my guilt as I should." Very well, then, you are one of the outcastsamong the outcasts-you do not think yourself to be as good, even, as they are! You are, in your own esteem, one of the worstoutcasts of them all because you lack even the feeling of your need. You say, "I have a hard heart. I cannot see sin as othershave seen it who have found Christ. I wish I could. I smite my breast and mourn that I cannot mourn,
for if anything is felt, it is only pain to find that I cannot feel. I seem made of Hell-hardened steel which will not meltor
Well, I see that you are, but, "such were some of us." We, also, knew our insensibility and lamented that we could not lament!But He gathered us! And there stands the text, "He gathers together the outcasts of Israel." If you have not a broken heart,only Christ can give it to you! If you cannot come to Him with it, go to Him for it! If you cannot come to Him wounded, cometo Him that He may wound you and make you whole! You need bring nothing to Jesus! I would like to whisper in your ear justthis-that those people who think themselves insensible, generally think so because they are more than usually sensitive. Andthose who think that they do not feel, are usually those who feel the most! I do not think we are ever good judges of ourown feeling in this matter.
The day may come when, in looking back, you will say, "I did, after all, mourn over sin when I thought that I did not. I hadsuch a sense of how black it was that I felt I was not mourning enough, even when I was deeply mourning!" Brother, you neverwill mourn enough. Enough? Would oceans full of tears be enough to mourn the guilt of sin? No, but, blessed be God, we arenot asked to repent or to mourn up to a certain standard! O outcast Soul, trust in Jesus and He will save you! I must notdwell, however, on this class, but proceed further to notice that there is another sort of people whom Jesus gathers who areeven more truly the outcasts of Israel.
I mean the backsliders from the Church-the outcasts of Israel who have been put out, and properly put out, for their unholylives and inconsistent actions-those whom the Church is obliged, alas, to look upon as diseased members that must be removed.They are sickly sheep that infect the flock and must be put away. They are lepers that must be set aside from the camp. OWanderer, banished from a Church, there is a word in the Gospel for you, also-even for the backslider! The Lord calls backHis wandering children. Though His Church does right to put out those who do dishonor to His holy name, yet she would do wrongif she did not follow her Lord in saying, "Return, you backsliding children."
It is not easy to persuade one who has been a backslider to come back to his first love. The return journey is uphill andflesh and blood do not assist us in it. Many new converts come, but the old wanderers remain outside and sometimes they dothis because they fancy they will not be welcome. But if you are sincerely repenting of the sin which has put you away fromthe Church, the Church of Christ will be glad to receive you! And if you are, indeed, the Lord's believing one, though youhave defiled yourself, He does not forget you! He does earnestly remember you, still, and He bids you come, in all your defilement,and wash in His atoning blood!
The fountain that Jesus has opened is not only for strangers, when they are first brought near-but it is opened "for the houseof David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem"-those who know the Lord, that they may be daily purged from their transgressionsand be cleansed from the filthiness of their backslidings. The Lord gathers together those who have been carried captive bytheir sins and makes them, once more, to dwell in the land of uprightness-and all His wandering sheep He brings back to Himself.
The expression of the text may certainly be applied to those, also, who have loved the Lord for years, but who have falleninto great depression of spirit. We happen, every now and then, to meet with some of the best of God's people who get intothe Slough of Despond and stick there by the month together-yes, by the year together! These are Believers who take periodicallyto despondency, as birds do to molting, and when the fit is on them you cannot cheer or comfort them. They then write bitterthings against themselves and call themselves all the ugly names in the dictionary-until they make us smile to hear them-becausewe know how mistaken they are. We are admiring their consistency and they are mourning over their foolishness.
We see their generosity towards the cause of God and their devotion to everything that is good. Yet they say there is nothinggood in them. We know where they are, for we have been laid in iron, ourselves, and set fast in the very same stocks. Whata mercy it is that when you who love the Lord thus, and sit down and commune with your despondencies- I mean you, Miss Much-Afraid,you, Mr. Ready-to-Halt and you, Mr. Feeble-Mind-my Lord does not leave you nor judge you as you judge yourselves! He is pleasedto gather together, in mercy, those who think themselves outcasts in Israel.
Lastly, upon this point, there are some who become outcasts through their love to Christ and of these the text is peculiarlytrue. I mean those who suffer for righteousness' sake till they are regarded as the off-scouring of all things. Are thereany that serve God faithfully, who have escaped the trial of cruel mockery? The names of those who are eminently
useful are generally used as footballs for an ungodly world. The world is not worthy of them and yet their enemies think theyare hardly worthy to live in the world. We do not hear much about persecution nowadays, but in private life there is a worldof it! The cold shoulder is given where once friendship was sought-hard, cruel, cutting things are said where once admirationwas expressed-and separations take place between good friends because of Christ.
It is still true, in the Christian's case, that a man's foes are they of his own household. But if you should become an outcastupon the face of the earth for Christ's sake, there is this for your comfort-"The Lord does build up Jerusalem, He gatherstogether the outcasts of Israel." Of the persecuted He makes pillars in His holy temple forever. Blessed are those who areoutcasts for Christ! Rich are those who are so honored as to be permitted to become poor for Him! Happy are they who havehad this Grace given them-to be permitted to lay life, itself, down for Jesus Christ's sake!
II. Now a few words upon the second point-IN WHAT SENSE DOES THE LORD JESUS GATHER TOGETHER THESE OUTCASTS OF DIFFERENT CLASSES?Of course I should have to vary the explanation to suit each case, but as that would take a long time, let me say that theLord Jesus has several ways of gathering together the outcasts. He gathers them to hear the Gospel. Preach Jesus Christ andthey will come! Both outcast saints and outcast sinners will come to hear the charming sound of His blessed name! They cannothelp it. Nothing draws like Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ next gathers them to Himself. The parable of the wedding feast is repeated again, "Go out into the highways andhedges and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled." "Bring in here the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, andthe blind." In this sort, the Lord Jesus Christ gathers multitudes where He is faithfully preached. He gathers all sorts ofcharacters and especially the odds and ends of society-the despised of men and the despised of themselves. He gathers themto Himself.
And oh, what a blessed gathering place that is where there is cleansing for their filthiness, health for their disease, clothingfor their nakedness and all-sufficient supplies for their abundant necessities! He gathers them to Himself- which is to gatherthem to God-to gather them to blessedness and peace through reconciliation with the Father. "To Him shall the gathering ofthe people be."
When He has done that, He gathers them into the Divine family. He takes the outcasts and makes them children of God-heirswith Himself. From the dunghill He lifts them and sets them among princes! He takes them from the swine trough and puts thering on their fingers and the shoes on their feet-and they sit down at the Father's table to feast and to be glad! Jesus Christ,as the good Shepherd, gathers the lost sheep, the lame, the halt, the diseased and feeds them. He makes them to lie down andrestores their souls and, finally, He leads them to the rich pastures of the Glory Land.
In due time the Lord gathers together the outcasts into His visible Church. As David enrolled a company of men that were indebt and discontented, so does Jesus Christ gather the indebted ones and the malcontents and makes them His soldiers. Theseare known as the Church militant. Surely as David did great exploits by those Pelethites, Cherethites, Gittites and strangemen of foreign extraction whom he gathered to himself, so does Jesus of Nazareth do great things by those great sinners whomHe greatly forgives-those hard-hearted ones whom He so strangely changes and makes to be the Old Guard of His army.
Yes, He gathers them into His Church and He gathers them into His work. The outcasts of Israel He uses for His own Glory.And when He has done that, He gathers them into Heaven. What a surprise it must be for any man to find himself in Heaven whenhe remembers where he once was! The outcast remembers the ale-bench on which he sat and soaked himself in liquor till he degradedhimself below the brute beast. And now to be cleansed in the Redeemer's blood and to sit among the angels-this will be surprisingGrace, indeed! "Oh, to think," one might well say, "that I, who was once in lewd company, polluted and defiled, am now madeto wear a crown and sit at the Redeemer's feet!"
When we reach Heaven, Brothers and Sisters, I do not suppose that we shall forget all the past. And sometimes it must burstin upon us as a strangely Divine instance of love that Christ should have brought us there and set us among the peers of Hisrealm! And yet He will do it! And you, Mrs. Much-Afraid-you will be there! And you who think, "surely Satan will have me!"you will be there! You who are stumbling over every straw! You who seem stopped by every little gully in the road and whofancy, "Surely, there is no Grace in my heart." And yet you are still holding on, "faint, yet pursuing."
You who touch the hem of Christ's garment, but have so little faith that you are afraid that you have none at all- you shallget up from that mourning and moaning, you shall rise from that despondency and distress-and among the sweetest music of Heavenshall be your songs of gratitude and joy! "He gathers together the outcasts of Israel."
III. Well, now, WHAT IS THE LESSON OF THIS? I think there are three lessons and I will just hint at them. One is this-encouragementto those who are unworthy, or think themselves so, to go to Jesus Christ tonight. I have been trying to think of all I knowand I have lifted up my heart to the Holy Spirit to guide me that I may cheer some discouraged one. It was my objective, lastSunday night, to comfort the broken-hearted, and I do not seem to have gotten out of that vein, yet.
I believe there are some here, whom God has sent me to, who really believe themselves to be out of the region of hope. Mydear Friends, if God gathers together the outcasts, why should He not gather you? And if it is true that Jesus Christ doesnot look for goodness, but that He only considers our sin and misery, why should He not look upon you? May I urge you to trymy Master? If you go to Him confessing your unworthiness and trusting yourself with Him, if He does not save you, I wouldlike to know about it, because you will be the first person I have ever heard of that trusted himself with Jesus and was rejected!It will not be the case, whatever your condition may be, however desperate your state!
You think your condition to be worse than I have pictured it to be and you fancy that I cannot know anything about how badyou are. Well, I do not know your special form of rebellion, but you are the very person I mean, for all that. I say, if youare as black as Hell. If you are as foul as the Stygian bog. If you have sinned till your sins cannot be counted and if youractions are so heinous that infinite wrath is their just desert-yet come and look to those five wounds and to that sacredhead once wounded, and to that heart pierced with the spear! There is life in a look at Jesus crucified! Will you try it?As surely as God's word is true, if you do but glance your eyes at Him who "died the just for the unjust," you shall be broughtto God and reconciled!
And that now-note-while sitting in that seat, before the last word of this sermon shall be uttered, for whoever believes inHim shall be saved! "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoeverbelieves in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." O that you would believe on Jesus now! We sometimes sing-
"Venture on Him: venture wholly. Let no other trust intrude. None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good."
But, Sinner, it is not a venture! As surely as you cast yourself upon Him, He will be sure to save you! I will not multiplywords, but I would, if I thought words would draw you. I pray the blessed and eternal Spirit to sweetly influence your minds,young people, tonight-and old people, too, and middle-aged people, too-that you may have done with trying to do anything,or to be anything in order to your own salvation, and know that it was all done when Jesus bled and died, all finished whenHe cried, "It is finished!" You have only to take believingly what He presents to you and accept Him as your All in All. Godhelp you to do it!
The second reflection is this. If Jesus Christ received some of us when we felt ourselves to be outcasts, how we ought tolove Him! It does us good to look back to the hole of the pit from where we were dug. We get to be very top-lofty at times,my Brothers and Sisters. We are wonderfully big, are we not? Are we not experienced Christians, now? Why, we have known theLord these 25 years! Dear me, how important we are! And perhaps we are deacons of Churches, or, at any rate, we have a classin the Sunday school and we pray in the Prayer Meetings-considerable importance attaches to us and we are high and mightyon that account.
Ah, I have heard say of a man worth his thousands that once he had not a shirt on his back-and if he remembered what he sprangfrom he would not carry his head so high! I do not see much in that, but I do see something in this-that if we rememberedthe time when we were dead in trespasses and sins. When we had not a rag to cover us. When we were under God's frown and wereheirs of wrath even as others-if we remembered our lost and ruined state by nature-I am sure that we should not lift our headsso very loftily and want to have respect paid to us in the Church, or think that God ought not to deal so very harshly withus, as if we had cause for complaint!
Dear Friends, let us remember what we used to be, and that will keep us low in our own esteem. But, oh, how it will fire uswith zeal to remember from what a depth He has lifted us up! Did Jesus save such a wretch as I was? Then for Him would I liveand for Him would I die! This ought to be the utterance of us all. We ought to live in that spirit. God grant we may! Then,again, let us always feel that if the Lord Jesus Christ took us up when we were not worth having, we will never be ashamedto try and pick up others who are in the same condition. We will not count it any lowering of our dignity to go after themost fallen of all. We will reckon that they are no worse than we were, if we were viewed from a certain point, and we will,therefore, aim at their conversion, hope for it and expect it!
This lesson is peculiarly applicable to some Christians here present. Dear Brothers and Sisters, if you really feel yourselvesto have been outcasts and yet have been received into the Divine family-and are now on the road to Heaven-I ask you to payevery attention to any whom you meet with who are, now, what you once were! If you meet with any in great despair of soul,say, "Ah, I must be a comforter here, for I have gone through this. I will never let this poor soul go till, by God's help,I have cheered him." If you meet with one who is an open sinner, perhaps you will have to say to yourself, "I was an opensinner, too." But if not, say, "My sins were more secret, but still they were as bad as his and, therefore, I have hope ofthis poor soul and will try whether he cannot be loved to Christ by me."
Mark my expression-"loved to Christ," for that is the power we must use-sinners are to be loved to Christ! The Holy Spirituses the love of saints to bring poor sinners to know the love of Christ! Search after them and do not let them perish. MayGod put this resolve into your soul-"If there is anything that I can do, in the name of Jesus, and with the power of the HolySpirit upon me, that might save that soul, it shall be done and, if that soul dies lost, when I hear the passing bell I will,God helping me, be able to say, 'I did set Christ before that soul. I did plead with that conscience. I did seek to bringthat sinner to Jesus.'"
The outcast, when converted, should seek after his brother outcasts. Young man, did you ever swear? Seek the conversion ofswearers! Young man, have you been fond of the card table? Have you been a frequenter of low resorts of pleasure? Then addictyourself to looking after persons of the same sort! George Whitefield says that after his own conversion his first concernwas the conversion of those with whom he had taken pleasure in sin. And he had the privilege of seeing many of them broughtto Christ! Have you been a man of business and have you been associated in wrongdoing with others? Seek the salvation of thosewho were associated with you! It is a natural obligation which Christ imposes upon all of any special sort, that they shouldseek those of their own sort, and labor to bring them to repentance.
May God bless you, Beloved. We shall soon be in Heaven. I can see some here tonight who, owing to their age, cannot be longbefore they enter the Glory of Christ. I see others of us who are younger, who do not know, from feebleness of health, howlong it may be before we see the face of the Beloved. But we would say of Him tonight, what a blessed Savior He is and whatan infinity of love there must be in Him to have ever revealed Himself to such as we are!
Oh, when shall we be near Him and worship Him forever and ever? Make no tarrying, O our Beloved!
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 147. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-587; 147 (SONG II.); 784.