Sermon 1590. The Barrier
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MARCH 27, 1881,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And there shall in nowise enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie: but theywhich are written in the Lamb's Book of Life." Revelation 21:27.
THE text refers to the glorified Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. That perfected company of the elect and sanctified is setforth in this wonderful chapter under the image of a city descending "from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adornedfor her husband." Her workday dress all laid aside, the bride appears in garments of needlework and raiment of worked gold.The militant Church, the Church of the present day, is comparable to a tent and is well imaged by the Tabernacle in the wilderness-itis lit up within by the Glory of God's Presence and covered without by the fiery cloudy pillar of His eternal Providence!But to the eyes of men it is mean and inconsiderable, for verily it does not yet appear what it shall be. By-and-by this sameChurch which, today, is likened unto a structure of curtains readily removed from place to place, shall become a city-fixed,permanent, high-walled and compact-a "city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God."
The comforts and trials of the desert life shall be exchanged for the quiet and comfort of a city dwelling. There shall benothing of the wilderness about the Church triumphant-it shall be a right royal abode, the metropolis of the universe, thepalace of the great King! Everything that is lustrous, pure, precious, majestic shall be there. Rare and priceless thingswhich are now the peculiar treasure of kings shall be the common possession of all the sanctified. The Church shall be nolonger despised, but shall sit as a queen among the nations while at her feet they shall heap up all their glory and honor.In that Church there shall remain nothing for which men shall reproach her, but everything shall be manifested in her forwhich they shall do her honor. Her very streets to be trod on shall be of pure gold like unto transparent glass and her lowestcourse of stones shall be of jasper.
Everything about the perfected Church shall be the best of the best-she shall be recognized as being the fairest among women,the bride, the Lamb's wife, the crown and flower of the universe! We read the sparkling figures of John's vision as emblemsof moral and spiritual excellence, but we doubt not that beyond the spiritual riches of the Church, all materialism will alsobe at her disposal and the restored creation shall bring her choicest beauties to adorn the chosen bride of the Lamb. We havesaid that the glorified Church will be the crown of the new creation and it is into the new heavens and the new earth thatshe is represented as coming down from God. He that sits upon the Throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
The creation which is round about us at this hour waxes old and is ready to vanish away. Wise men tell us that there are evidentpreparations in the bowels of the earth for a burning up of the earth and of all the works of men that are upon it, for itscenter is an ocean of fire. God shall but speak and as once the waters leaped upon the world and utterly destroyed all thingsthat were upon it, so shall He call to the waves of flame and they shall rise from their hidden furnaces to melt all thingswith their fervent heat. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness!The former things shall have passed away and a new creation shall dwell beneath the new heavens, filling up the new earth-andthe flower and perfection of the new creation shall be the Church of the Living god in her full bloom and perfection!
Even now the regenerate are a kind of first fruits of God's creatures, the forerunners of the renewed universe. But then theyshall be its center and glory! The new birth is the beginning of the new creation-we lead the way, even we who are the Churchof the First-born-but the whole creation groans to follow us so as to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into theglorious liberty of the children of God! It is the glorified Church, I say, that is here spoken of and,
therefore, the text may be said to refer to Heaven, for at the present moment the nucleus of the glorified Church is in Heavenand from Heaven every defiled thing must be shut out.
Hence, too, it may refer to the kingdom of the millennial age, when the saints will reign with Christ upon the earth for athousand years, when even upon this battlefield our conquering Leader shall be crowned with victory and where His blood wasshed, His Throne shall be set up, for among the sons of men shall He triumph, even among those that spat in His face. Thetext may also be read as including the eternal world of future bliss, for of that glorious, endless, undefiled inheritance,the Church glorified will be the possessor-but out of her shall long before have been gathered all things that offend andthem that do iniquity.
From Heaven and from all heavenly joys and states, sin must be shut out. Into the perfected Church there shall never enteranything that defiles and from all its honors and rewards every polluted person is shut out by immutable decree. I shouldlike you, for a minute or two, to think of that perfected Church as she is described in this chapter, for it is a descriptionworthy of the most profound study. What glory will surround the risen saints in their capacity as the city of God-"havingthe glory of God"-says the 11th verse. What a glory of glories is this! Even now, my Brothers and Sisters, you that are inChrist possess the Grace of God, but you shall, by-and-by, conspicuously shine with the Glory of God! At present you sharein the dishonor which falls to the lot of your Master and His cause among a wicked generation, but then you shall share inthe Glory which is the reward of the travail of His soul. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdomof their Father."
How glorious will that Church be whose light shall be the Presence of God, Himself-light in which the nations of them thatare saved shall rejoice! O my God, write my name among them! And to that end write me among Your persecuted saints below!Well may we be content to endure what little shame shall come upon the Church militant on earth if we may participate in thehonor of the Church glorified above, for this is a glory which excels, "having the Glory of God." The city is described asexhibiting great massiveness, for the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. It is a solid square, perfectand compact-
"Your walls are made of precious stones, Your bulwarks diamond square." What a Church will the Church of God be in those happierdays! Now she is as a rolling thing, removed as readily as a shepherd's tent-but then she shall stand firm as a cube whichrests upon its base!
We watch the Church of God, sometimes, with trepidation and alarm, for though we know that the gates of Hell shall not prevailagainst her, yet her feebleness makes the timid tremble. But in her state after the Resurrection there shall remain no signsof feebleness, for that which was sown in weakness shall be raised in power! She shall be a city the like of which has neverbeen beheld, whose foundation shall be deeper than the depths beneath and her towers shall reach above the clouds! No institutionshall exist so long or flourish so abundantly as the Church of the Living god! When you think of the massiveness of the Churchof God settled in her place by the Almighty, Himself, who has established her, remember at the same time her vastness, fora multitude that no man can number shall be comprehended among her inhabitants- her census shall prove her citizens to beas the stars of Heaven for multitude!
Her stones shall not lie cut about as a little heap, but from her vast foundation the living stones shall rise course uponcourse, 12 foundations of jewels, till "the mountain of the Lord's House shall be exalted above the hills." I say again, writemy name down among the dwellers in the great city! What higher honor can I crave than to have it said, "This man was bornthere"? To be numbered with princes; to be named with emperors-what of it? Your golden fleece, silken garter and gilded starsare all poor toys-true glory lies in being part and parcel of the Church-today despised and rejected by men, but which shall,before long, look forth fair as the sun and astonish the world with the brightness of her rising! Ambition's self needs askno more than citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The perfection of the Church is set forth in her being foursquare, her value in the sight of God by her walls being composedof the rarest gems and her delights in the variety of the sparkling jewels which bedeck her. There is scarcely one preciousstone omitted of those that were known to Orientals, while some are mentioned which are scarcely known to us at all. All mannerof joys and treasures and pleasures and delights, every form and shade of excellence, virtue and bliss shall belong to theperfected ones when their number and character shall be complete and they shall be comparable to the
city of God! The safety and quiet of the Church is set forth by her gates forever open. In times of war the city gates arefast closed, but for the New Jerusalem there will remain no fear of foe, no need to set a watch against an invader.
Gog and Magog will be slain and Armageddon's battle fought and finished-unbroken rest shall be the portion of the glorified.Write my name among them, O my God, and permit me to enter into Your rest! Best of all, remark how holy the Church will be.She shall have no temple within her walls, for this simple reason, that she shall be all Temple. She shall have no spot reservedfor sacred uses, because all shall be "holiness unto the Lord." The Divine Presence shall be in all and over all and thisshall be the joy of her joy! "The Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light
Brethren, the glory of the Church even here below is the Presence of God in her midst, but what will that Presence be whenit shines forth in noonday brightness-when spirits strengthened for the vision shall endure with transport the full splendorof Jehovah's throne? Tongue cannot tell the glory, for thought cannot conceive it! Write my name among the blessed who shallsee Jehovah's face! O living God, my soul thirsts after You! To dwell in Your Presence is the summit of the soul's delight!To be with You where You are and to behold Your Glory is the Heaven of Heaven! To what beyond this can thoughts aspire?
I. It being declared that the glorified Church is to be all this and a great deal more, of which we cannot now speak particularly,we may well long to enter within her gates of pearl. But what says the text? I beseech you listen attentively to the solemnsound OF THE WORDS OF EXCLUSION-"There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination,or makes a lie." Listen, I say, to these words of exclusion, though it sounds like a death-knell in my ears! Learn that itcan be abundantly justified to the conscience of all thoughtful men! Learn that your own soul, if it is honest, must set itsseal to the sentence of exclusion. This is no arbitrary decree, it is a solemn declaration to which all holy spirits givetheir willing assent and consent-an ordinance of which even the excluded, themselves, shall admit is just.
For, first, it is not meet that so royal and Divine a corporation as the glorified Church of God should be ruined by defilement.God forbid that "her light, which is like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal," shouldever be dimmed by the breath of sin! How beautiful was this fair world in the early morning of her creation, when the dewof her youth glistened upon her and the sunlight of God made her face to shine. Keep watch and ward, you shining ones, thatthis beauty be not marred! Let watchers and holy ones fly round the new-made world to drive far from her the apostate spiritand his fellows who kept not their first estate! Sad was the hour when, with dragon wings, the fallen spirit descended intoEden, advanced to mother Eve and whispered in her ear the fell temptation! Oh, you seraphs, would God your fiery swords hadkept out the Arch-Deceiver, that this world might never have fallen, that we might have dwelt here amidst sunny glades bypure rivers rippling over sands of gold-a holy and happy race, making every hill and valley vocal with the praises of God!
Now, O Earth, you are a field of blood, but you might have been a garden of delights! Now you are one vast cemetery whereall the dust was once a part of the living fabric of mortal men-but you might have been as the firmament filled with stars,all shining to their Creator's praise! Alas that Eden should now remain only as a name-gone as a vision of the night! Inasmuchas we could heartily wish that evil had never entered into the primeval world, we earnestly deprecate the idea that it shouldever defile the new! Shall those new heavens ever look down with amazement upon the flight of a rebellious spirit flying beneaththeir serene azure on an errand of destruction? Shall the jeweled walls of the thrice Holy City be leaped over by an enemyof the King who is there enthroned? Shall the serpent leave his horrid trail upon the heavenly Eden, twice made of the Lord?God forbid!
The purity of a world twice made, the perfection of the Church of the regenerate, the majesty of the Presence of God all demandthat every sinful thing should be excluded. All Heaven and heavenly things cry, "Write the decree and make it sure, thereshall in nowise enter into it anything that defiles." Engrave it as in eternal brass and let Omnipotence go with the decreeto execute it with the utmost rigor, for it would be horrible, indeed, if a second time evil should destroy the work of God!Into the Church of the First-born above, the breath of iniquity must not enter. It cannot be that the work which cost theRedeemer's blood should yet be defiled! The eternal purpose of the Father and the love of the Spirit forbid that the Lord'sown perfected Church should be invaded by any unholy thing.
Brothers and Sisters, there can be no entrance of evil into the Kingdom of God, for it is the very essence of the bliss ofthe glorified Church that evil should be excluded! Imagine, for a moment, that the decree of our text were reversed or suspendedand that it were allowed that a few unregenerate men and women should enter into the glorified Church of God. Suppose, inaddition, that those few should be of the gentler sort of sinners, not those who would profanely blaspheme the name of God,nor openly break the eternal Sabbath, but a few who are indifferent to God's Glory and cold and formal in His praise. Howcould Heaven bear with these? These, who are neither cold nor hot, are sickening both to Christ and to His people-and mustthey endure the nausea of their society? Why, as in a living body the existence of a dead piece of bone breeds fret, painand disease, so would the presence of these few defiling ones cause, I know not what, of disquietude and sorrow. It must notbe!
Love to the saints demands that they be no more vexed by sin or sinners. Pity, mercy, yes, even the partiality of kindredlove dares not ask that it may be! All Heaven is up in arms at the supposition! Holy spirits are alarmed at the idea thatthey should again be tempted by the presence of evil! Bar the gates of pearl and never open them again, you spirits, ratherthan that there should come upon that pure street of transparent gold a foot that will not walk in the ways of God's commandmentsor the halls of Zion be disgraced by a single spirit that shall refuse to love the holy and exalted name! Heaven were notHeaven if it were possible for evil of any sort to enter there. Therefore, stand firm, O dread decree, for it would be crueltyto saints and destruction to Heaven that there should in anywise enter into it anything that defiles.
Furthermore, let me beg you to consider that there is an impossibility of any defiled, sinful, unrenewed person ever enteringinto the corporate body of the glorified Church of God-an impossibility within the persons themselves. Look, good Sirs, thereason why wicked men cannot be happy is not only because God will not let rebellion and peace dwell together, but becausethey will not let themselves be happy. The sea cannot rest because it is the sea and the sinner cannot be quiet because heis a sinner! How could you, O natural, unregenerate man, ever enter into the Kingdom of Heaven as you are? You are not capableof it! It is not possible! Holiness has in it no attractions for you since you love sin and the wages of it. You do not knowGod and cannot see Him, for this is the privilege of the pure in heart and of them alone. You live in a world where everythinghas been made by the great Lord and yet you do not perceive His hands, so great is your blindness! Shall blind men grope throughthe streets of the New Jerusalem?
You are unacquainted with the simplest elements of spiritual things, for they can only be spiritually discerned and you haveno spiritual faculty. You are blind and deaf! Yes, dead to God and heavenly things-you know you are! Well, then, of what usewould it be that you should enter the spiritual realm, supposing it to be a place? For if you were admitted into the placecalled Heaven, you would not be a partaker of the state of Heaven and it is the state of mind and character which is, afterall, the essence of the joy. To be in a heavenly place and not in a heavenly condition would be worse than Hell, if worsecan be! What are songs to a sad heart? Such would Heaven be to an unrenewed mind. The element of Glory would destroy, ratherthan bless an unrenewed mind!
It is as though you saw before you a blazing furnace in which happy creatures disported themselves among the flames, bathingthemselves in the white heat, leaping in rapture amid the rising sparks, for they are children of the flame who drink in fireand find it life. Imagine yourself to be a poor fly such as you hear buzzing on the windowpane and you ask to enter into theglow of the furnace, thinking to be as merry as the fire-children. Keep back! Why tempt your doom? You will die soon enough-whyask to perish more quickly? No place would be so dreadful to a sinner as the place where God is most openly manifest! Thatholy element which is the habitat of the new-born soul would be the grave, the everlasting prison if an unholy soul couldenter there.
To the wicked, the day of the Lord is darkness and not light. And the Glory of the Lord is terror and not bliss. Oh, unconvertedHearer, they sing in Heaven-but in their songs your ears would find no delight. They worship God in Heaven-but as Divine worshipis irksome to you, even if it is kept up for an hour or so below-what would it be to dwell forever and ever in the world tocome in the midst of hallelujahs? O soul defiled with sin, you are incapable of Heaven! The Roman Emperor Caligula, in hismadness, made his horse first consul of Rome-but his horse could not be a magistrate-it could not judge or govern, whateverthe emperor might decree! Though he fed it upon gilded oats from an ivory manger, it was a horse and nothing more!
Even so, if a man is unregenerate and unbelieving, we may do what we will with him, but he cannot rise to spiritual joys.And if we could even bid him come into Heaven, he would still remain what he was-incapable of the joy and bliss which Godhas prepared for them that love Him. So stands it a fact in the very essence and nature of things, that there shall in nowiseenter into the realm of the spiritual, the Kingdom of the true, the land of the blessed, the home of the perfected, anythingthat defiles. It cannot come there from incapacity within itself. Let me add that our own hearts forbid that evil should soenter. As I mused on this text, I supposed myself to be defiled with sin, yet standing outside the pearl gates of Heaven.
Then I said within myself, "If I might enter there defiled as I am, would I do so?" And my heart answered, "No, I would notif I could. How could I blot such brightness and spoil such happiness?" Suppose myself infected today with a deadly fever-anincurable typhus which would bring death to any that touched me? The blast is pitiless and the snow is falling-and I standshivering at the door of one of your houses-longing for shelter. I see inside the room your little children, playing in fullhealth! Shall I venture among them? I long to escape from the cold outside, but if I should enter your room I should bringfever to you and death to your innocent little ones and to yourselves-and thus turn your happiness into misery! I would turnaway and brave the storm and sooner die than bring such desolation into a friend's home!
And well might any honest spirit say at sight of the perfect family above, "No, if I might, I would not be admitted into aperfect Heaven while yet I might defile it and spread the contagion of moral evil." You know, Brothers and Sisters, how afew rags from the East have sometimes carried a plague into a city. And if you were standing at the dock when a plague-ladenship arrived, you would cry, "Burn those rags! Do anything with them, but keep them away from the people! Bring not the pestinto a vast city where it may slay its thousands!" So do we cry, "Great God, forbid it that anything that defiles should enterinto Your perfected Church! We cannot endure the thought." Draw your swords, you angels! Stand in your serried ranks, youseraphim, and smite every defiled one that would force a passage within the gates of pearl! It must be-"There shall in nowiseenter into it anything that defiles."
The fiat of God has gone forth and the fiery sword is set at the gate of the new Eden. Into the first Paradise there camethe serpent-into the second never shall the subtle tempter enter! Into the first Paradise there came sin and God was drivenfrom it as well as man-but into the second there shall never come anything that approximates sin or false-hood-the Lord Godshall dwell there forever and His people shall dwell there with Him. Thus much, then, upon the words of exclusion.
II. I desire, as I continue this meditation in the power of the Holy Spirit, not so much to preach as to think inwardly
and ask you to think with me OF THOSE WORDS OF EXCLUSION WORKING WITHIN THE SOUL-within my
soul, within yours. They sit in judgment upon me and they chasten me. It strikes home to my conscience and awakens me to self-examination.Its voice is solemn and strikes heavily upon the ears as we remember its wide sweep and comprehensive breadth-"There shallin nowise enter into it anything that defiles." No person who defiles, no fallen spirit, or sinful man can enter. And as noperson, so no tendency, leaning, inclination, or will to sin can gain admission! No wish, no desire, no hunger towards thatwhich is unclean shall ever be found in the perfect city of God! Nor even a thought of evil can be conceived there, much lessa sinful act performed. Nothing shall ever be done within those gates of pearl contrary to the perfect Law, nor anything imaginedin opposition to spotless holiness.
Consider such purity and wonder at it! The term, "anything that defiles," includes even an idea, a memory, a thought of evil.Thoughts that flit through the mind as birds through the air that never roost or build a nest-even such shall never glanceacross the skies of the new creation! It is altogether perfect! And, mark well, that no untruth can enter-"neither whatevermakes a lie." Nothing can enter Heaven which is not real! Nothing erroneous, mistaken, conceited, hollow, professional, pretentious,unsubstantial can be smuggled through the gates. Only the Truth of God can dwell with the God of Truth. These are sweepingand searching words-no evil, nothing that works to evil-no falsehood, nothing that works to falsehood can ever enter intothe triumphant Church of God!
O my Soul! My Soul, how does this bear upon you? Cuts it not to the very quick? For how are you to enter, defiled as you areand so diseased with falsehood of one sort or another? Well may we be awakened when we remember what defiled and defilingcreatures we have been in the days of our unregeneracy. Brothers and Sisters, let us not shrink from the humbling contemplation!Come down from your high places and see the horrible pit in which you lie by nature. Think of
your past lives, I pray you-of those days in which you found pleasure in walking after the flesh. I call on you to rememberthe sins of your youth and your former transgressions of thought, word, and deed! If they are shut out who defile and aredefiled, where are you? Where are you? These sins of ours, though they were committed years ago, are, none the less, sinfultoday-they are as fresh to God as if we perpetrated them this very moment.
Your hands are still bloody red, O sinful Man, though your crime was worked some 20 years ago! Your are still black, O Sinner,though it was 50 years ago that your chief sin was committed, for time has no bleaching power upon a crimson sin. The guiltof an old offense is as fresh as though it were worked but yesterday. Our sins, in themselves, make us unclean and unfit forholy company and, alas, they are many! Our sins have left a second defilement on us by creating the tendency to do the sameagain. Is there one among us that has sinned who does not know that he is all the more likely to sin again? Since after oncebeing drawn aside by sin, there are stronger urges in the same way-sin once committed becomes a fountain of defilement! Thestream in which the fish has played will be sought by it again in its season and the swallow will return to its old nest-evenso will the mind return to its folly. Yes, so it is. And if everything that defiles is shut out from the Holy City-my God,my God-am not I shut out, too?
Do not think that only actual sin shuts men out of Heaven, for this text goes to the heart by reminding us that we have withinus inbred sin which would defile us speedily even if we were now clean of positive transgression. The fountain from whichactual sin comes is within every unrenewed bosom. How can you and I enter Heaven while there is unholy anger in us? The bestof men are too apt to retain an unhallowed quickness of temper which, under certain circumstances, works wrath. There shallin nowise enter into Heaven a hasty temper, or a quick imperious spirit, or a malicious mind, for these defile. In certainpersons there is no quickness of spirit, but there is a cold obstinacy, so that having once resolved, though the resolve isevil, they stand to it doggedly and cannot be moved. Like obstinate mules, they can scarcely be driven-blows cannot stir themfrom their purpose! Disobedient obstinacy cannot enter the Kingdom-my Hearers-are you under its dominion?
And, oh, there is in all of us a lusting after evil of some sort or other! Only place us in certain conditions and the fleshlongs after forbidden things and though we chide ourselves and check the longing, yet is there not within us a relish forthe sweet stolen morsels of transgression? We could weep our eyes out when we discover what a palate for pleasurable sin ourold nature still retains-yes, a longing for the very sin of which we most bitterly repent and from which we most eagerly longto be delivered! How can we hope to enter Heaven if there are these appetites in us? They are there and they defile! Whatcan we do? There, too, is that vile thing called, "pride." Why, some of us cannot be trusted with a pennyworth of successand we are exalted above measure! Some of God's children cannot have ten minutes fellowship with Christ but they must puton their fine feathers and crow right lustily because they feel themselves to be nearing absolute perfection! Alas for thepride of our hearts and the pollution which comes of it! How can such vain creatures be admitted among the glorified?
Nor is this all, for sloth preys on many and tempts them to shun God's service-and especially to shun the Cross of Christ.Sloth is a rust which has a sadly defiling power-we gather moth and mildew from inaction. Never is a man pure who is not zealousin the service of God. We rot in corruption if we lie still. How, then, shall we be admitted within the jeweled city? Ah,look within your heart, my Brother-look steadily beneath the fair film of the surface and mark the inward evil which it conceals.Judge not yourself when at your best, occupied with your prayers and praises and almsgivings, but look steadily into yoursoul at other times and you shall see a loathsome mass of evil life, a seething corruption moving within your heart-for evilremains, even in the regenerate-and this cannot enter Heaven. Thank God, it cannot! Even though the words of exclusion staggerme and send me back as with a stunning blow and makes me cry, "You shut me out, my God, by this, Your decree," yet I feelthat if it is so-the decree is right, just and good. "There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defiles." Amen andamen!
Now, I ask you whether these words of exclusion do not, in you who know its meaning, slay all hope of self-salvation? For,first, here are our past sins and they defile and make us defiling. How are we to get rid of them? How can we wash out thesepolluting blots? Tears? So much salt water thrown away if looked upon as a bath for sin! Good works performed? They are alreadydue to God! How shall future discharge of debts repay the past? O my God, if I have ever known what sin means, I have alsoknown that it is impossible that its defiling nature should ever be changed, or that the pollution should ever be removedby any efforts of my own!
I spoke with one the other day who said that she was seeking salvation by good works. I knew that she had performed self-denyingacts of charity and I asked her whether she felt nearer to the salvation at which she aimed. I knew that I spoke to a sincere,honest person and her reply did not surprise me. She answered sadly, "The more I do, the more I feel I ought to do and I amno nearer to the point I am aiming at." And so it is-the more a sincere heart does seek to serve God, the more it feels theshortcoming of its service-and the more a person seeks after purity by his own efforts, the further he judges himself to befrom it! Our standard rises as we rise toward it! Our conscience becomes tender in proportion as we obey it and so, in thenature of things, rest of heart comes not in that manner.
Ah, there remains not beneath Heaven anything that can wash out the defilement of past sin except only one cleansing flood!O sinful Man, plunge your hands into the Atlantic and they shall crimson every drop of its tremendous waters and yet the stainon your hands shall be as scarlet as before! No, no, no-it is certain that no man can enter Heaven by reason of his transgressionand his sinfulness-unless Omnipotence shall cleanse him! But then look at the other part of the difficulty, that is, the makingof your own heart pure and clean. How shall this be done? How shall the Ethiopian change his skin and the leopard his spots?Have you tried to master your temper? I hope you have. Have you managed it? Your tendencies this way or that-you have strivedagainst them, I hope. But have you mastered them?
I will tell you. You thought you had. You thought you had bound the enemy with strong ropes-you tied him and you fastenedhim down-you shut him up in an inner chamber and you said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson." You felt that the championwas vanquished, now, but oh how grimly did he laugh at you as the old adversary arose within you and snapped the bonds andhurled you to the ground! You were defeated when you thought that you had won the victory! I cannot overcome myself, nor overcomemy sin. I will never cease from the task, God helping me, but apart from the Divine Spirit, the task is as impossible as itis to make a world!
III. It seems to me that we may most fitly come to the close of our sermon by thinking Of THE WORDS OF SALVATION which justmeets the difficulty raised by the sentence-"There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defiles." But, first, my pastsin, what of that? There are many who are even now within the Church of God above and we will ask, concerning them, "Who arethese arrayed in white robes and from where did they come?" We receive the reply, "These are they that have washed their robesand made them white in the blood of the Lamb." "In the blood of the Lamb!" I feel as if I could sing those words! What joythat there should be anything that can take all my sins away-all without excep-tion-and make me whiter than snow!
If Christ is God. If it is true that He, within that Infant's body, contained the fullness of the Deity and, being thus Godand Man, He did take away my sin and in His own body on the Cross did bear it and suffer its punishment for me, then I canunderstand how my transgression is forgiven and my sin is covered. Short of this, my conscience cannot rest. The misty atonementsof modern divines cannot calm my conscience-they are not worth the time spent in listening to them! They are cobwebs of thefancy, altogether insufficient to sustain the strain, even, of the present conscience, much less of the conscience which shallbe awakened by the judgment bar of God!
But this Truth of God-Christ, instead of me! God, Himself, the offended One in the offender's place, bowing His august headto vengeance and laying His eternal majesty in the dishonor of a tomb-this is the fullness of consolation! O Lamb of God,my Sacrifice, I shall enter Heaven now! I shall pass the scrutiny of the infallible watchers! I shall not be afraid of theeyes of fire. I shall be without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing-"Washed in the blood of the Lamb!" This is our first greatcomfort, Brothers and Sisters-"He that believes in Him is not condemned." He that believes in Him is justified from all thingsfrom which he could not be justified by the Law of Moses. "There is therefore, now, no condemnation to them that are in ChristJesus."
But here is the point, there is still no entrance into the Holy City as long as there are any evil tendencies within us. Thisis the work, this is the difficulty and since these are to be overcome, how is the work to be done? Simple believing uponChrist brings you justification, but you need more than that-you need sanctification, the purging of your nature-for havewe not seen that until our nature, itself, is cleansed, the enjoyment of Heaven is impossible? There can be no knowledge ofGod, no communion with God, no delight in God hereafter unless all sin is put away and our fallen nature is entirely changed.Can this be done?
It can! Faith in Christ tells us of something else besides the blood. There is a Divine Person-let us bow our heads and worshipHim-the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father-and He, it is, who renews us in the spirit of our
minds. When we believe in Jesus, the Spirit enters into the heart, creating within us a new life. That life struggles andcontends against the old life, or rather, the old death and, as it struggles, it gathers strength and grows. It masters theevil and puts its foot upon the neck of the tendency to sin. Do you feel this Spirit within you? You must be under its poweror perish! If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. I would not have you imagine that in death everythingis to be accomplished for us mysteriously in the last solemn article-we are to look for a work of Grace in life-a presentwork, molding our character among men.
Oh, Sirs, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is not a sort of extreme unction reserved for deathbeds-it is a matter forthe walks of life and the activities of today! I do not know how much is done in the saint during the last minute of his lingeringhere, but this I do know-in a true Believer the conquest of sin is a matter to be begun as soon as he is converted and tobe carried on throughout life. If the Spirit of God dwells in us, we walk not after the flesh but after the spirit and wemortify the corruptions and lusts of the old man. There must be, now, a treading under foot of lust and pride and every evilthing, or these evils will tread us under foot forever in the future state where character never changes. There must be, now,a rejection of the lie-a casting out of the evil-or we shall be cast out, ourselves, forever! There must be, now, a cry, "OLord, You desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssopand I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
Beloved, it is to this we must come-to be washed in the water which flowed with the blood from Jesus' side, for there mustbe a purging of nature as well as a removal of actual transgression or else the inevitable decree, like a fiery sword, willkeep the gate of Paradise against us-"There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination,or makes a lie." O my Hearers, suppose we should never enter there? No, start not, for the supposition will soon be a factwith many of you unless you repent! Suppose we should be in the next world what some of us are now, defiled and untruthful-whatremains?
That is an awful text in the parable of the virgins-"And the door was shut." You read of those who said, "Lord, Lord, opento us," to whom He answered, "I know you not." You have read of them-will any of us be among them? Will any of us who hasa lamp and is thought to be a virgin soul be among the shut out ones on whose ears shall fall the words, "I know you not fromwhere you are"? You see you cannot be anywhere else but out unless you are in! And you must be shut out if you are defiledand defiling. Dear Heart, this is a question I beg you to look to at once! You do not know how short a time you have leftto you in which you may look into it. Some who were here but a Sabbath or so ago are now gone from us. Eleven deaths werereported at one Church Meeting among our members!
We are a dying people! We shall all be gone within a very short time. I charge you by the living God and as you are dyingmen and women-see to it that you are not shut out so as to hear the fatal cry-"Too late, too late, you cannot enter." Thereshall be no "Purgatory," in eternity and no possible way of entering in among the perfected, for it is written, "There shallin nowise enter into it anything that defiles." No crying, "Lord! Lord!" No striving to enter in! No tears, no, not even thepangs of Hell, itself, shall ever purge the soul so as to make it fit to join with the holy Church above should it pass intothe future state uncleansed! Shut out! Shut out!
O God, may that never be true of anyone among us, for Christ's dear name's sake, Amen.