Sermon 1646. A Home Question and a Right Answer
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 5, 1882,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"From that time many of His disciples went back and walkedno more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will you, also,go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe andare sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." John 6:66-69.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, we believe that the righteous shall hold on his way and he that has clean hands shall wax stronger andstronger. We also believe that he that believes in Christ "has everlasting life" and, consequently, must live forever. Theliving water which Christ gives a man shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. Our Lord has saidof His sheep that they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hands. Yet we know that if any man drawsback, the Lord will have no pleasure in him, and we are sure that, "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Thereforewe very heartily sing the verse in one of our hymns-
"We ha ve no fear that You should lose
One whom eternal love could choose;
But we would never this Grace abuse,
Let us not fall! Let us not fall!
We consider that it would be an abusing of this Grace if we were to grow careless, presumptuous, high-minded and imagine thatfor ourselves, personally, it would not be possible to become apostates, or even to turn aside a little from the right way.We believe the Truth of God of the Final Perseverance of the Saints concerning the true people of God, but the question comesto our heart, Are we such? Is there in us the incorruptible Seed which lives and abides forever? And how are we to know thatwe are such but by this very perseverance which, while it is an effect of Grace, is also one of the most certain tokens ofit, for there is not the true Grace of God in the heart where there is no perseverance in Grace even unto the end.
"He that endures to the end shall be saved." But what if we should only have the transient gleams of temporary illuminationand should relapse into a thick Egyptian night? Here is cause enough for holy fear! Come, then, Brothers and Sisters, trustingin the Immutable Grace and love and power of God, let each man, nevertheless, examine himself and let this be a time of heart-searching.Say not this is out of place when we are just gathering around the table of the Lord, for is it not written, "Let a man examinehimself, and so let him eat of that bread"? Let us get ready to come to the festival of our Lord's Supper by putting our Lord'squestion, each one to His own heart, and trying to answer it by the help of God's own Spirit.
First, the reason for the question-Why did Christ ask of the twelve, "Will you, also, go away?" Then, secondly, the questionitself. And, thirdly, the answer which Peter most fitly gave to it, which, I doubt not, he gave in the name and on the behalfof all his Brothers. The same reply we would also give tonight- "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternallife. And we believe and are sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
I. First, then, WHY DID THE SAVIOR ASK THE TWELVE THIS QUESTION? He would not have caused them needless pain. He had a wisereason for trying them with such an enquiry. It was, first, because it was a season of defection. "From that time many wentback and walked no more with Him." You will find, I think, that in all Churches there are times of flocking in, when manyfly to the Church like doves to their windows. But happy is that Church which never has a time of flying out, when numberswho have been tested, fail, and are no more to be found. Churches have summers, like our gardens, and then all things arefull. But then come their winters and, alas, what emptying is seen!
Have we not all seen the flood when the tide has come up far upon the beach? And have we not all marked the ebb when everywave has seemed to fall short of that which preceded it? Such ebbs and floods there are in the history of the
Kingdom of Christ. One day, "The kingdom of God suffers violence and every man presses into it." At another time men seemto be ashamed of the Christian faith and they wander off into a thousand delusions-and the Church is diminished and broughtlow by heresy, by worldliness, by lukewarmness and by all sorts of evils.
Often may the chronicle run thus-"Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled." It is right, then, at times when those thatdid run well are hindered, that the Master should say to those who, for a while, remain steadfast, "Will you, also, go away?"Ah, dear Friends, some of you are very steadfast now while this Church flourishes-how would you be if the pastor were dead,or his name in ill-repute? How would you be if the attendance on the means of Grace grew slack? How would you be if therewas a decline in all the work of the Church? Have you backbone enough in you to be faithful if all others were faithless?Is there the real grit about you? Could you dare to be Daniels and, "dare to stand alone"? Can you fight a losing battle?Can you stand in the gap and be the last of a few heroic men who will defend the pass against all comers?
Alas, what numbers swim with the tide! How few can swim against the current! How readily are men seized with panic and runfor it with might and main if they see others hastening from the battle. How few can hold the bridge like Horatius in thebrave days of old! Well may the Savior ask the question of us tonight, for we are as frail and fickle as others! Well mayHe ask it now, for worse times than these may be drawing near- "Will you, also, go away?" It was a time, too, of defectionamong disciples. I call your attention to the use of that word here. "From that time many of His disciples went back." Disciples?Yes, not merely camp-followers! Not the mob that hung upon His skirts for the sake of the loaves and fishes, but some of Hisdisciples went back-those of nobler spirit, who had listened to His words and, for a while had professed to call Him, "Masterand Lord"
Even some of these deserted the standard. Their name remains-they are called "disciples," still, though they have gone back!And this sets forth the grievous guilt of such men and women as enter into the Church and then, after a while, turn asideto false doctrine or to sin. They depart with their Prince's uniform upon their backs and carry the livery of Christ intothe service of Satan! The stamp of a disciple is upon each of them, still, though they are renegades and perverts! They willbe judged as having been what they professed to be-and heavy will be their sentence as apostates. We read of "Simon, the leper."He is called, "the leper" after He had been healed. Here, on the other hand, are some who bear their good name even aftertheir villainy has been discovered-and this helps to make their treachery the more glaring.
Just as the name, "harlot," stuck to Rahab after she had become an honest woman and a Believer, so does a good name stickto one after it has ceased to be true-and it remains as a reminder of their fearful folly. Go and live down Turncoat Lane.Hide yourself away as much as you can, but whenever you come into the street, if they do not say it to your face, the neighborswill whisper behind your back, "There goes one who was a disciple. There is one who professed to be a follower of Christ,but he has turned his back upon his Lord." The memory of your profession will stick to you through life! It will stick toyou throughout eternity! If you are a wolf in sheep's clothing, some flecks of the wool will hang about you long after youhave dragged the fleece over your head. Damnable apostate shall be your brand, even when you are cast away from the face ofGod forever! Oh, that none of us might ever earn such a title, by being reckoned among the disciples that went back and walkedno more with Jesus! Yet, when disciples fall away, it is time to ask other disciples, "Will you, also, go away?"
The defection in this case was on account of doctrine. Our Savior had done nothing that could vex His followers; He had noteven spoken sharply to His disciples. Far from it. He had simply preached the glorious Truth of God that He is the Food ofthe new-born life. But this they did not understand and so they would listen no further and would not stay to ask an explanation.They went back at once, as if horrified at what they heard. The Truth was too hard for them; it was not to be borne with."It is a hard saying. Who can bear it?" A true disciple sits at the feet of his Master and believes what he is told even whenhe cannot quite comprehend the meaning, or see the reasons for what his Master utters. But these men had not the essentialspirit of a disciple and, consequently, when their Instructor began to unfold the innermost parts of the roll of Truth, theywould not listen to His reading of it.
They would believe as far as they could understand, but when they could not comprehend, they turned on their heels and leftthe school of the Great Teacher. Besides, the Lord Jesus Christ had taught the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God and of theneed of the Spirit of God, that men should be led to Him, "for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were
that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, exceptit were given unto Him of my Father." Here our Lord uttered a bit of the old-fashioned doctrine of Free Grace, such as peoplenowadays do not like. They call it, "Calvinism," and put it aside among the old exploded tenets which this enlightened ageknows nothing of!
What right they have to ascribe to the Genevan reformer a doctrine old as the hills I do not know! But our Lord Jesus neverhesitated to fling that Truth of God into the face of His enemies! He told them, "You believe not, because you are not ofMy sheep, as I said unto you." No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw Him." Here He tells them plainlythat they could not come unto Him unless the Father gave them the Grace to come! This humbling doctrine they could not receiveand so they went aside. Now, when the Truth of God, itself, becomes a stumbling block-when the Gospel, itself, which oughtto draw men to Heaven becomes the reason why they go back-it is time for us to suspect ourselves and to-
"Think we hear the Sa vior say,
Will you forsake Me too?"
"Will not you, also, be staggered? Will not some Truth stumble you? Will not some mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven make you,also, to be scandalized?" Blessed is the man that is not offended in Christ! Happy is he who lays aside his own wisdom tobe taught of the Lord!
Further, it is worthy of notice that this question was put because many were not only going away from Christ, but they weregoing back. Read the words. They, "went back and walked no more with Him." They did not go off to the right or to the left,making some slight departure from the straight road, but they turned deliberately around and went back, reversing their courseand retracing their steps. Of course, in consequence of this, they were very soon what they used to be! The reclaimed drunkwent back to his cups-the cups were soon full, again, and he was soon wallowing in drink, like a sow in the mire. The manwho had lived a lascivious life and, for a time, had cast it off to put on the garb of morality, went back. And you saw himonce again in the house of the strange woman. "The dog has returned to his vomit."
The reformed liar was again false. The thief was again pilfering. The swearer was again profane. They went back, like Pliable,who quit the Pilgrim Road and returned to the City of Destruction. Now, it is really a dreadful thing, when men have seenthe folly of their lives and have come out of it, for them to go back to their former habits. Well said the Prophet, "Letthem not turn, again, to folly." But, alas, these burned children ran to the fire, again! The silly moths made another dashat the candle! They were well-nigh escaped, but they plunged, again, into the flood of iniquity! What is to become of them?Is not this the fear-that their last end shall be terrible because of the violence done to conscience and to the Word of theLord?
The evil spirit went out of them and took his walks abroad. But soon he went back, again, and found the house empty, sweptand garnished! He, therefore, takes unto himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself and the last end of that manwill be worse than the first! I should not have believed it, though a man had declared it to me, that such a one could goback, for he seemed so sick of sin, so wearied with its bondage! I could imagine that he might step aside under a strong temptation,but to go back-how can that be? Why, this is the man who was converted from drunkenness and delivered temperance lectures!Is he a drunk, again? This is the man that had clean escaped from his former filthiness and warned others! Is he wallowingin lust, again? What fools!
What a multitude of fools in one is such a man! If his course was wise, why did he leave it? And if it were wise to leaveit, why has he gone back to it? If it is right to go back to it, why did he not always continue in it? For this unmitigatedfolly, his blood will be upon his own head! But when we see rational men act thus, even men of whom we hoped better things,we need not be surprised that we, also, are put to a stand with the personal question, "Will you, also, go away?" In the casebefore us, the defection from Christ was open defection, for we read, "They went back, and walked no more with Him." Theyonce walked with Jesus in the public streets, but now they will have no more to do with Christ.
When Jesus preached-these constant hearers-where were they? When He worked a miracle-these admiring lookers-on-where werethey? They had ministered to Him of their substance-no more supplies come from them. They had often asked Him to explain theWord when He had spoken in public-they desire no more secret interviews. They had asked Him, also, to teach them how to pray.But they no longer care to be found upon their knees. They are not
hypocrites enough to keep step with Him when their hearts are not with Him. They are, at least, decent enough to walk no morewith Him, now that they have gone back to their sins!
Alas, we know some that used to walk with Christ who, at this time, walk no more with His people, for their hearts have goneaway from Christ. The Sabbath is ignored. The House of God is forsaken. The Bible is put away; prayer is a thing neglectedand, perhaps, despised! They walk no more with Christ, for they prefer a broader or a smoother road. If anybody mentions tothem what they used to be, they slink away and seem to say, "Never mention it again! We wish it to be ignored." I remembera household where the sons and daughters all professed to be converted to Christ, but some of the young people were fond ofamusements that were not consistent with the profession of religion and, when they were found in such engagements, what didthey do? Why, they blushed a little, but, by-and-by, they boldly declared that they had never been converted-that they wereforced into it by persuasion and hurried on by excitement to do that which their better sense led them to regret!
Their excuse was as false as their former profession! They knew that they acted of their own accord and that they willinglyprofessed Christ. Alas, just as willingly, when they came in the way of temptation, they forsook Him! Ah, Apostate, it isall very well to say that you were persuaded and all that-but you know that you did deliberately confess your faith, or youwould never have been baptized by us! You did deliberately seek membership with the Church of God, or you would not have beenreceived! And on yourself must be the responsibility of it! If you have gone back from Christ, you must bear the shame intime and eternity!
But when any do thus openly sever themselves from the companionship of the Crucified One, well may the question pass fromheart to heart, "Will you, also, go away?" Thus have I introduced the question by giving the reason for it.
II. Now, THE QUESTION ITSELF. The Master pressed it upon the disciples-"Will you, also, go away?" He
might well press the question, for one of them would certainly do so. He said, "I have chosen you twelve!" Not many- justtwelve. "I have chosen you." A very prudent Chooser-much better able to judge than any of His ministers. "I have chosen youtwelve and one of you is a devil." Are our pastors and elders likely to make a better selection? Is it likely that the percentageof deceit is less among us than in the Apostolic college?
I would not like to say-it would be wrong to say-that one out of every 12 of Church members is a Judas. What right have Ito say it? But if I were called upon to depose that I am certain that they are not, I dare not make so bold an assertion!I fear that the average of mankind in any place would, in all probability, be much the same as in our Lord's day-and possiblythere may be a worse state of things in London than in Judea and Galilee. Still, if we conceive our case to be improved, yeta measure of danger exists. Is it true in the case of only one member of this Church that he will betray Christ? If it is,then let the question begin at the pulpit and go round to the youngest member, "Lord, is it I?"-a question suitable for thisTable, for at this Table of fellowship it was asked by every one of the 12, "Lord, is it I?"
Certainly, some among us-some one among us-will deny or sell his Master. God grant it be not I! Let each one breathe thatprayer! Besides, the Master knew that all of them might do so. All of them might go away from Him-apart from His Grace, indeed,all of them would! There stood Peter, this very Peter who gave such a bold answer to the question-and the Master knew thatthere was enough in Peter to have made him as faithless as Judas if it had not been for His upholding Grace! Ah, Brothersand Sisters, when we see others fall, today, let us say, "It may be my case tomorrow!" Is there not the same heart, the samenature, the same tendency to sin? Have we not the same weakness? Are we not exposed to the same temptations?
Is there not the same devil craftily searching out our infirmities, that he may work upon them? Are we not all in danger?I fear that he is especially in jeopardy who will say, tonight, "I am a man of experience. I am out of harm's way." If thereis a Brother among us who says, "These warnings are not meant for me," he is probably the man who will disgrace that holyname by which he is named. If there is a deacon, an elder, a gray-headed Christian man, a venerable, believing woman, whoshall be saying, "I have nothing to fear from temptation. I have passed out of the realm of caution and watchfulness," I standin doubt of such! Confident Friend, I fear that you are the man! This carnal confidence, this proud presumption as to yourselfshould be a caution to you, for these things are the smoke which denote a smoldering fire!
"Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." The Master put the question because He knew that it ought to comehome to every heart among the twelve. Moreover, He put the question to them because if they turned aside it would be especiallysad. I do not read that Jesus said anything about those that had already gone back. He alludes to them by
the use of the word, "also," but He does not seem to have ran after them to beg them to return. He knew what they were andknew that they were best apart from Him. When the chaff was blown away, it was only the fulfillment of John the Baptist'swords, "His fan is in His hand and He shall thoroughly purge His floor," so He suffered the chaff to go to its own place.But when the Master looked at the 12, then He said with holy care and anxiety, "Will you? Will you, also, go away?" As muchas to say, "If you go away, who have been with Me from the beginning, who have been chosen by me to be eyewitnesses of Mylife. If you that have been near My inmost heart and shared My trials and My joys-if you go away it will be sin, indeed."
Friends, if any of us turn aside, what excuse shall be made for us? I say deliberately that if I go away from my Master Ican expect nothing but the hottest wrath of God forever! Unhappy, unhappy wretch, to have preached to such multitudes, ifI deny my Lord! Condemned out of my own mouth a thousand times over! I shall be a mark for all the arrows of vengeance. Andwhat shall I say of my Brothers behind me, the deacons and elders of this Church? If they go away from Christ and forsakeHim after their brave professions, who shall apologize for them? Many here are marked men and women! Your experience of Christhas been long, sweet, deep, remarkable-and you have spoken of it to others with much confidence and delight. If you go away,you will deserve to be hung up like Haman, on the gallows, fifty cubits high-an exhibition of direct treachery and a monumentof the awful wrath of God against such as trample on the blood
You will be sinners above all the sinners of yours time! Oh, may it never be, for if one of the 12 shall do it, it will bethe greatest sin of all! It will grieve the heart of the Master! It will open the mouths of blasphemers. It will afflict thesaints. It will disgrace the apostates and bring down upon them infinite condemnation! And yet, do you know, when others areturning aside, the question has to be asked, for apostasy is very contagious. We are called sheep and it is of the natureof sheep that if one goes right, the next will follow. But if they meet with a gap in the hedge and one leaps through it,they will all follow the same road! When backsliding and apostasy become fashionable, you may ask, even the 12, "Will you,also, go away?"
As I have seen, in my short experience, minister after minister turning aside to novelties of doctrine and especially intothe deep pit of "modern thought"-into which the abhorred of the Lord fall-I have thought of one and of another, "Will you,also, go away?" As men that I have spoken with, prayed with and trusted in have, one by one, apostatized from the faith ofGod's elect, I have been staggered and astounded! Surely this fashionable sin has a fascinating influence over many mindsand would delude, if it were possible, the very elect! How few stand to the landmarks in this age of wandering! How few arefound approved in the day of trial! The question is one that must of necessity be pressed home, "Will you, also, go away?"
And, to conclude this part of our subject, our Savior, I think, asks the question because He wishes His following to be alwaysperfectly voluntary. We sometimes speak of "the sweet compulsions of Grace." But let it be always understood that this isby way of metaphor and figure, for none can truly walk with Jesus unwillingly. The lack of will would be fatal! There is aninfluence which the Grace of God exerts upon the will, by which the unrenewed will is led captive, and yet as soon as it isa renewed, will it becomes emphatically free. It ceases to be a will if it has no determining power-the Grace of God givesit that power to a high degree.
Those who truly follow Christ do not follow Him because they are forced to do so. Grace has no slaves. It rules a Kingdomto which the Son has given true liberty! Christians are not dragged after Christ. They yield most sweetly to the charms ofHis love, to the force of the Truths of God which He teaches and the love which He manifests. They gladly serve their Lordand Master. Jesus seems to say, "If you do not serve Me so, you may go." Will you go? Christ does not need anybody to professto be a Christian who does not wish to be a Christian. He does not need one to come to this Table because he thinks it tobe a Light of God or a custom, by which he is bound! He wants you to come because you delight to do so.
He does not desire any minister to preach the Gospel because he is paid for it, or because he would lose face among godlypeople if he did not. He needs no slaves to grace His Throne. The very charm of obedience is that it is rendered cheerfully.The very bliss of Christ's service is that we voluntarily, with all our heart and soul, take up his Cross and follow Him.I am not denying the compulsions of Grace. I am only saying that they are perfectly consistent with the absolute freedom ofthe gracious will! God treats men as men and not as heaps of brick and mortar. His Grace displays itself
in converting and changing them as men that have wills-not as logs of wood which Solomon may cut and plane in the mountainswithout their consent.
No, no! If you will to go, go! But if your will is to cling to Him, then will He give you Grace to follow Him, even to theend. I do not know whether I impress my congregation with a sense of the importance of the Truths of God I am trying to presshome, but I feel them myself. Oh, Brothers and Sisters, it is a very easy thing to gather a crowd of people- the difficultyis to hold together, year after year, those that profess to be converted! There is a constant winnowing going on in all Churchesand this drives away the light and chaffy ones. There is a fan at work upon this floor! Some stay, year after year, and yetturn out to be of no account. The Lord goes on sifting, but certain of the chaff do not blow off at first because, perhaps,the wheat is lying on top of it-there is a good wife or holy mother or a godly husband that keeps the doubtful ones right.When these are taken away, the next blast of the winnowing fan sweeps that bit of chaff away.
Oh, be not as the chaff, which is covered up and so hidden among the wheat! Turn not aside, I pray you! The Lord keep you.I shall reckon it to be a privilege to bury you rather than have to erase your name from our Church roll for conduct inconsistentwith your profession! May you gather around my corpse, when God pleases to let me go Home, and may you say, "He lived an honorablelife and died faithful to His Lord." Yes, let that gathering be before another Sabbath dawns, if God so wills, rather thanthat I should live to dishonor the precious Truths of God which I have preached, and turn aside from the Master whom I professto love!
What I say to myself I think I hear each one of you say to himself or herself, "Better far that we die than that we deny ourLord."
III. I shall close with my third head and consider THE ANSWER WHICH QUICK-VOICED PETER GAVE-the
answer which I hope we are prepared to give to our Divine Leader, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternallife. And we believe and are sure that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." It is threefold. "Lord, to whom shallwe go?" This is the first answer. Observe that Peter does not appear to think it possible, or think it less than abominable,for a man to go back-for the natural answer to Peter's question, "To whom shall we go?" is, "Go back?" No, but Peter doesnot tolerate the idea of going back.
I ask you, my beloved Brother in Christ, can you tolerate it? Can you? Can you? I might address myself to a Brother who wasonce among the profane and the drunken, who is now among the most earnest of us. And I might ask him- Brother, would you goback? I am sure that the thought of the rack would be more pleasant than the idea of returning to his old haunts! I mightaddress myself to another who was fond of every form of gaiety, spending his money for that which was not bread, and his laborfor that which did not satisfy him-he will be found among us tonight, happiest among the happy in the service of his Master,and I enquire of him-Brother, will you go back? Would you like to enjoy all your gay life again? It would be death to you.
Suppose that any of us who know the joy of being Christ's could have it proposed to us to go back-suppose we were not immoral,but were everything that could be desired in our outward conduct-would we like to go back to that dead morality which hadno life of faith nor light of hope about it? No! No! When Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress thought about going back, heremembered that he had no armor for his back. He had a breastplate. He was covered from head to foot by his shield-but therewas nothing to protect his back and, therefore, if he retreated, the adversary could split him with a javelin in a moment!So he thought that, bad as it was to go forward, it would be worse to go backward and, therefore, he bravely cut a path forhimself straight onward for Glory!
Look at that fact whenever you are tempted! Do not endure the idea of turning tail in the day of battle! May retreat be impossibleto you. God make it impossible by His Grace! But then to whom should we go? I was ruminating in my mind the other day-
"Could I so false, so faithless prove
To quit Your service and Your love,
Where, Lord, could I Your Presence shun,
Or from Your dreadful Glory run?" Where could I retire if I would avoid my lifework and cease witnessing for Jesus? If I wereon board ship and a storm came, the sailors would say, "He is the Jonah." I know they would! If I forsook my God and His cause,the lowest and meanest would point at me as a turncoat. If I were to cross the western continent and hide away in the backsettlements, it
is 10 to one that if I went into the most remote log cabin, somebody would spy me out, and say, "Why, you are the man whosesermons I read in our newspapers. Why are you here?"
In the loneliest spots on earth, where men speak the English tongue, my own sermons would serve as a hue and cry, if not asa writ of arrest. I should be sure to hear the question, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" and how could I answer? Wherecould I go? No hiding place remains for me! I must serve God forever. So is it with you in a degree, dear Friends. You cannotget away from Jesus. You that are disciples have committed yourselves to Christ. There is nowhere for you to go. Suppose youwere to try infidelity. You know too much. You have felt too much. Unbelief would not ease you, whatever it may do with others.Be a free-thinker? Well, you are made of the wrong stuff for that-your conscience would trouble you. Suppose you became aRomanist? Would forms and ceremonies content you? No! Of all the people in the world that cannot be Romanists, commend meto Baptists!
A few have joined the church of Rome-so few that I never knew but one. You cannot convert these dreadful Anabaptists! Theyare too positive and too much accustomed to prefer their own judgment to the directions of a ghostly father in Rome! My Brothersand Sisters, I do not know where you could go if you leave Jesus and the Truth of God. You can go down to the bottomless pit,if you will, but you will have no rest there, for the lost ones will cry, "Have you come here? Why, you were at the Lord'sTable, were you not? You are the people that used to give away tracts. Did we not hear you preach at the corner of the streets?"It will be an uneasy thing for you to be lost, I tell you, Sirs, 10 times worse than for others, for the hiss of those whonever professed religion will follow you throughout eternity-and their words will burn like coals of juniper when they cry,"Hypocrite! Apostate! You knew the Truth and did it not!"
There is nowhere else for us to go. If we are weary of our Master, we cannot get another-where can we find another so goodas He is? Shall we go back, or shall we get right with Him? Let us go at once and tell Him how foolish we have been. Let usbeg Him to keep us in His House. "Dismiss me not from Your service, Lord." I am not worthy, even, to unloose the laces ofYour shoes, but let me be Your servant, for whom else can I serve? How else can I live? What other joy remains for me butto do something for Your blessed name?
But then Peter gave a second answer. He said to our Lord, "You have the words of eternal life," as much as to say, "We cannotgo away from You, good Master, when we think of eternity." Oh, eternity! Eternity! Those who, for a little wealth, or to escapea foolish laugh, shall turn aside from Christ-what will they do in eternity? Those who, to be thought respectable, or to beconsidered clever, shall renounce the simple Gospel of Christ-what will they do in eternity? Christ, alone, can give eternallife, or life for eternity! Apart from Him we are cast out as dead. The unbelievers shall be banished forever from the Presenceof God and the Glory of His power, for, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Brothers and Sisters, we believethat there is salvation in Christ and nowhere else. How can we leave Him,
We know and are sure that His Word has already put the immortal life into us, for we feel it pulsing within our being! Wesometimes see glimmerings of the eternal day into which the Light of God we have is sure to develop-and we are certain thatthe Lord has given us eternal life by His Word. How, then, can we forsake Him? Bind us, Savior-bind us to Yourself! Come,brand us with the Cross! Let us bear in our body Your mark! Some of us wear the watermark upon our whole body. Our seal ofthe Covenant is not on some one portion of our frame, but we have been immersed into Your name and from head to foot we areYours. We cannot undo the fact that we were buried with You by Baptism unto death. Yours by that outward sign, but yet muchmore Yours by the inward Grace which You have given, by which You have made us dead to the world, dead to self and quickenedus unto eternal life in Yourself.
There are two ties, then, to hold us. The one is that we have nowhere else to go. And the second is that we have no life apartfrom Christ. The third holdfast is this-"We believe and are sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Blessedare you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you." Have you learned, dear Brothers and Sisters, thatChrist is truly the Messiah, the Son of the Father? Do you believe it? And, more than that, do you both believe and know thatChrist is also the Son of the Highest? How can we leave Him? Has God sent Him and shall we forsake Him? Is He God and shallwe desert Him? No, good Master, at Your feet we fall and to those feet we cling! We humbly resolve, by Your good Spirit'spower to abide in You. Savior, we will be Yours forever!
You may speak this very boldly if you speak it in the confidence of Grace, for, Brothers and Sisters, "Who shall separateus from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?" What torments the saints have endured from their perse-
cutors and how ineffectual have been the assaults of their foes to separate them from Christ! If we are really one with Christ,Satan can no more tear us away from Jesus than he could tear away Paul or John! These saints had no more power of their ownthan we have-they derived everything from Christ-and we do the same. Think of how the martyrs have been scourged and evenflayed alive-and yet have cried out-"None but Christ!" They have been tied to the tails of horses and dragged to death, butnever a thought of apostatizing has occurred to them.
In those early days men, women and children crowded the tribunals till the judges grew weary of their bloody task. The persecutorsdevised all kinds of tortures, such as I scarcely dare mention, but the saints of God triumphed over all their torments! Fiercewas the duel between the infernal cruelty of Roman paganism and the splendor of God within the souls of faithful men and women!Look even later down at our own Marian persecutions-when Smithfield was all aglow with the death of the saints-how gloriouslyBelievers defeated their adversaries!
We read of a holy woman, bearing a child in prison, crying out in labor and her tormentors exultingly demanded, "If you cannotbear these pangs, how will you bear to be burnt alive in a few days' time?" She replied, "You see in me, who am a woman, thefeebleness of nature. But wait till the day comes and you shall see in me, who am a member of the body of Christ, the strengthof Grace, for I shall never start or cry when I am burning for Christ!" And they took note that she never flinched, or winced,or cried, or stirred, but quick to the death she burned in her confession of her Lord! Oh, it was amazing! It was amazing!Christ laughed at His mightiest enemies, but His Spirit rested upon His poor, feeble saints and strengthened them so thatthey were more than conquerors!
Think of Ann Askew, whom I often quote-our own Ann Askew-sitting up after they had racked her till every bone was draggedfrom its fellow and still defending the faith against the Romish shavelings! O that we had the same Grace! We shall have itwhen the trial comes, for "the Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." If Jesus is, indeed, the Anointedof the Lord, He will anoint us in the hour of need! And because we believe and are sure that it is even so, we are bold tosay in His strength, "No, Lord, we will never leave You! Though all men shall forsake You, yet we will not." By Your faithfulness,O Lord, keep us faithful! Amen.