Sermon 1929. To Those Who Are Angry With Their Godly Friends
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And the Lord said unto Cain, Why are you angry? And why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And unto you shall be his desire and you shall rule over him." Genesis 4:6, 7.
SINNERS are not all of the laughing sort-Cain's mind was angry and his heart was heavy. The short life of the vicious is notalways a merry one. See, here you have a man who is utterly without God, but he is not without sorrow. His countenance hasfallen, his looks are sullen-he is a miserable man. There are many ungodly people still in the world who are not happy inthe condition in which they find themselves. The present does not content them and they have no future from which to borrowthe light of hope. The service of sin is hard to them and yet they do not quit it for the service of the Lord. They are indanger of having two Hells-one in this life and another in the world to come!
They have a religion of their own, even as Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground, but it yields them no comfort,for God has no respect to their offering and, therefore, they are displeased about it. The things of God bring an increaseto their inward wretchedness-it was after a sacrifice that Cain's countenance fell. Many unrenewed hearts quarrel with Godat His own altar-quarrel by presenting what He never commanded and then by growing angry because He rejects their will-worship!They attend the means of Grace, but they are not saved nor comforted, and they do not like it. They pray, after a fashion,but they are not heard-and they feel indignant at the slight. They read the Scriptures, but no cheering promise is ever appliedto their hearts-and they grow fierce at their failure. They see another accepted, as Abel was, and this excites their jealousyand envy gnaws at their heart. They are angry with God, with their fellow man and with everything about them! Their countenancefalls and they are in a morose mood which fits them for any cruel word or deed. Can you not see their sullen looks?
They would very much like to have the enjoyments of religion. They would like to have peace of conscience. They would liketo be uplifted beyond all fear of death and they would like to be as happy as Christian people are, but they do not want topay the price, namely, obedience to God by faith in Jesus Christ! They would willingly bring an offering to God accordingto their own choice and taste, but they do not care to come with "the Lamb" as their Sacrifice-they cannot accept the Atonementmade by our Lord's laying down His life for us. They wish to have the reward of obedient faith while yet they have their ownway! They would reap the harvest without sowing the seed. They would gather clusters without planting vines. They would winthe wages without serving the Master of the vineyard! But as this cannot be and never will be, they are full of bitter feeling.Since sin and sorrow are sure to be, sooner or later, married together- and since only by walking in the ways of God can wehope to find peace and rest-they quarrel with the Divine arrangement, grow inwardly miserable and show it by their sullenlooks and growling words.
They are in a bitter state of heart and it is fair to ask each one of them, "Why are you angry?" Alas, they are not angrywith themselves, as they ought to be, but angry with God-and often they are angry with God's chosen and envious of them-evenas Cain was malicious and vindictive towards Abel. "Why should my neighbor be saved, and not I? Why should my brother rejoicebecause he has peace with God while I cannot get it? Why should my own sister be converted and sing of Heaven and I, who havegone to the same place of worship and have joined in the same prayers and hymns, seem to be left out in the cold?" Such questionsmight be useful to them, but instead of looking into their own hearts to see what is wrong there-instead of judging themselvesand trying to get right with God-they inwardly blame the Lord or the persons whom they think to be more favored than themselves!The blessings of Grace are to be had by them, but they refuse to take them and yet quarrel with those who accept them! Theyplay the part of the dog in the manger,
who could not eat the hay, himself, and would not let the horses do so. They will not accept Christ and yet grumble becauseothers have Him.
It is one of the sure signs of the seed of the serpent-that they will always be at enmity with the Seed of the woman. Thisis one of the marks of distinction between those who walk after the flesh and those who walk after the spirit, for as Ishmaelmocked Isaac, so the child of the flesh mocks the child of promise even to this day! As soon as the two sons born to Adamwere grown up, the great division was seen-he who was of the Wicked One slew the man who, by faith, offered a more acceptablesacrifice. This division has never ceased and never will cease while the race of man remains on earth under the reign of God'slong-suffering! By this shall you know to which seed you belong-whether you are of those who hate the righteous, or of thosewho are hated for Christ's sake.
Now, I want to call attention to a very gracious fact connected with this text and that is, that although Cain was in sucha bad temper that he was very angry and his countenance fell, yet God, the infinitely Gracious One, came and spoke with himand patiently reasoned with him. It is wonderful that God should speak with man at all, considering man's insignificance.Did not the Psalmist say, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You haveordained, what is man that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You visit him?" But for the Lord to speak withsinful man is a far greater marvel! And for Him to reason with such a man as Cain, a murderer in heart and soon to be a murdererin deed-impenitent, implacable, presumptuous, blasphemous-this is a miracle of mercy! Shall the pure and holy God speak withsuch a wretch as Cain who was angry with his brother without just cause? Why does He not, at once, cut him off while yet hishate has not issued into murder-and thus at the very beginning show His detestation of envy and malice? Truly His mercy enduresforever! Behold, the Lord comes to Cain with a question, gives him an opportunity of speaking for himself and defending, ifhe can, his state of mind. "Why are you angry? And why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?And if you do not do well, sin lies at the
Yet this is no solitary instance of the condescension of God-it is the way of our God to expostulate with sinners and to letthem produce their strong reasons and justify themselves if they can. It is His fashion to say, "Turn you: turn you, why willyou die, O house of Israel?" for He wills not the death of any, but that they should turn unto Him and live! He is greatlypatient and waits to be gracious. God gives none up until they fatally resolve to give themselves up-and even then His goodSpirit strives with them as long as it is possible to do so, consistently with His holiness.
Often to the very gates of death and up to the very edge of the bottomless Pit, His pity follows obstinate sinners, cryingstill, "Turn you! Turn you! Turn you! Why will you die?" Yes, the angry sinner-the Cain-ite sinner-the sinner whose face betraysthe anger of his soul, whose heart is hot with enmity against God and against His Christ, even he is not left to die withoutDivine pleadings which may show him his fault and folly. Still does the Lord handle conscience with skill and awaken thoughtwith fit enquiries-"Why are you angry? And why is your countenance fallen?"
I pray God that He may speak to any among my congregation who may be in this sad and evil condition. I have felt, lately,that I may have but few more opportunities of preaching the Gospel and, therefore, I would try and speak more solemnly everytime I preach and endeavor to strike right home at the heart and conscience, if, by any means, I may save some. Oh how I longto bring men to Jesus! I could gladly lay down my life to save my hearers. May the Holy Spirit make my words to be full offorce and holy fire-and may they meet the case of some here present whom I have never seen before, but whose thoughts areas well known to God as if they were printed in a book and laid open before His eyes! Oh that I may be moved to speak a wordwhich shall fit the case as a glove fits the hand which wears it! May it not merely be the voice of man that speaks to you,but may it be clear that God has commissioned His servant to speak to your hearts and that by my sermon, God, Himself expostulateswith you even as He expostulated with Cain in those ancient times!
Remember that the case is that of a man who is angry-angry mainly because he cannot get the comforts of religion. He seeshis brother enjoying them and he grows angry with him for that reason. With him and all like he, I would reason with kindwords.
I shall take the last sentence of the text, first-"Unto you shall be his desire and you shall rule over him." In these wordsGod argues with Cain and answers the charge of favoritism which was lurking in his mind. He tells him, in effect, that NODIFFERENCE IS MADE IN THE ARRANGEMENT OF SOCIAL LIFE BECAUSE OF THE ARRANGEMENTS OF GRACE. Notice that He says to him, "Untoyou shall be his desire and you shall rule over him"-which I
understand to mean just this, "Why are you so angry against Abel? It is true that I have accepted his offering-it is truethat he is a righteous man and you are not, but, for all that, you are his elder brother and he looks up to you. His desireis toward you and you shall rule over him. He has not acted otherwise than as a younger brother should act towards an elderbrother, but he has admitted your seniority and priority. He has not revolted from you. You rule over him-you are his master.Why, then, are you so angry?"
Observe this, then-that if a man shall be angry with his wife because she is a Christian, we may well argue with him-Why areyou thus provoked? Is she not a loving and obedient wife to you in all things except in this matter touching her God? Is shenot all the better for her religion? I have known a husband meet his wife at the Tabernacle door and call her foul names allthe way home for no other reason than because she joined in the worship of God! Yet she was all the more loving, diligentand patient because of that worship. Here is your child converted and you are angry. Are you not unreasonable in this? Youare his father and he yields obedience to you. God has not caused religion to alter the natural position of things-your child,your servant, your wife all recognize this-and remain in due subservience to you. For what cause are you thus sullen and angry?Good Sir, this is not like a reasonable man! Be persuaded to let better feelings sway you.
Now, this is an important thing to note because, first of all, it takes away from governments their excuse for persecution.In the early days of Christianity, multitudes of Christians were tormented to death because of their faith in Jesus. Therewas no excuse for it, for they had done no harm to the State. Christianity does not come into a nation to break up its arrangements,or to break down its fabric. All that is good in human society it preserves and establishes. It snaps no ties of the family;it dislocates no bonds of the body politic. There are theories of socialism and the like which lead to anarchy and riot, butit is not so with the mild and gentle teaching of Jesus Christ, whose every word is love and patience. He says, "Resist notevil, but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other, also." His Apostle says-"Wives, submit yourselvesunto your own husbands: husbands, love your wives; children, obey your parents in all things: servants, obey in all thingsyour masters, not with eye service as men pleasers: masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowingthat you, also, have a Master in Heaven." Such precepts as these are no injury to government.
Paul was no leader of sedition, no destroyer of the rights of property. Caesar needed not to fear Christ. Jesus did not covetCaesar's purple or Caesar's throne. Even Herod needed not to tremble for his princedom, for the Child that was born at Bethlehemwould not have hunted that fox or disturbed his den. "My Kingdom is not of this world," said our Lord Jesus, "otherwise wouldMy servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews." Now, inasmuch as the religion of Jesus Christ does no hurtany social order, teaches no one to be rebellious, takes away from no man his rights, but guards the rights of all from themeanest to the greatest, all excuse is taken away from any government that dares to put out its hand to touch the Church ofGod! As to each disciple of Jesus, the government may be satisfied that he is loyal. "You shall rule over him" is certainlytrue. Christians will cheerfully submit to all lawful rule and righteous authority. To them it is a matter of joy if theyare enabled to lead peaceable lives because the magistrate is a terror to evildoers.
They are a non-resistant, peaceable, quiet people, who have, from the beginning of the world until now, borne burdens andsuffered and been content to suffer so that they might but be true to their Master. They hate tyranny, but they love order.They protest against oppression, but they uphold law and justice. Why, then, should they be persecuted? They ask nothing fromthe State by way of pay or patronage-they only ask to be left alone and to be subject to no disability on account of theirreligion. Let all who are in authority, whether as kings or petty magistrates, beware of wantonly molesting a people who causethem no trouble, lest they be found in this matter to be fighting against God!
That being so in the broad field of national life, it is just the same if you bring it down to the little sphere of home.There is no reason why Cain should be so angry with Abel because God loves him, for the love of God to Abel does not takeaway from Cain his right as an elder brother. It does not teach Abel to refuse to Cain the rights of his position, nor leadhim to act rudely and wrongfully toward him. No, Abel's desire is unto Cain and Cain rules over him as his elder brother.Why, then, should Cain be angry and his countenance fall?
My dear Friend, if you are angry, tonight, about the Sovereignty of the Grace of God, as seen in the conversion of another,let me ask you what hurt has the Grace of God in the heart of the person you envy done to you? Is your eye evil because God'seye is good? Have you suffered in any sense because that other one is saved? You cannot have your way if
you wish to coerce the envied one into giving up his faith-but have you a right to your own way? Is it not the privilege ofevery man to have his conscience left free to serve God alone? What right have you as an Englishman to take away liberty fromanother? You say, "Why, I think he is very stupid to believe as he does." Very likely you may think so, but then your judgmentis given you for yourself, not for another, and you must not become a tyrant and domineer over others. I thought you werea stickler for liberty! And yet you sneer at others because they think for themselves, or at least do not think as you do!If religion made men false in their dealings with others. If it made the servant careless and indifferent. If it made thehusband a tyrant. If it made the wife a tattler and untidy and dirty. If it turned all relationships upside-down-then therewould be some little reasonableness in the opposition which you offer to it! But if it does nothing of the kind, why are youangry? And why is your countenance fallen?
Why, to me it seems to be a great blessing to a man to have his friends converted-a blessing to be desired and prized! Theirconversion may do you good, even if you are not converted, yourself. Laban learned by experience that the Lord blessed himfor Jacob's sake. Look at Joseph. The Lord was with him and we find that wherever Joseph went, others were the better becauseGod blessed them through Joseph! A good man in a house is good store to the family. A converted daughter, a praying son, aholy husband, a gracious wife-why, these are the pillars, the ornaments, the buttresses of the house! Godly people hedge themansion in with their prayers! Who can tell what blessings God gives to unconverted men because of their converted relatives?I do not doubt that, as sometimes the chaff is spared for the sake of the grain which it covers and protects, so, often, thelives of ungodly men are spared for the sake of the children whom they have to bring up-for the sake of those who have tobe cherished by them for a while. Had it not been for the grief it would cause the mother whom you mock, the Lord might havecut you down, young man, long ago! Pity for holy relatives may be the motive for the Lord's long-suffering to many rebels.Therefore be not angry with the righteous.
I could hope, my angry friend, that God means to still give a greater blessing to you-that He means to entice you to Heavenby showing your wife the way, or He means to lead you to Christ by that dear child of yours. I have known parents broughtto repentance by the deaths of daughters or of sons who have died in the faith. I hope you will not have to lose those youlove that you may be brought to Jesus by their dying words. But it may be so-it may be so. It will be better for you to yieldto their gentle example while yet they are spared, than for you to be smitten to the heart by their sickness and death. Ohthat the persecuted one may live to have the great joy of going to the House of God with his Father, or walking with brotherin the ways of godliness, or bringing the thoughtless sister to seek and find the Savior! Why should it not be so? Let ushope for it!
At any rate, I do not see any cause to be angry because Grace has visited your family. To say the very least about it, a manwho is angry with another for enjoying a religion which he, himself, does not care for, is a poor specimen of good nature!Surely he may allow others to enjoy what he does not, himself, desire. If you do not wish for salvation, why worry yourselfbecause others possess it? If you do not mean to serve Christ, at least stand out of the way and let other people serve Him.There cannot be any gain to you in kicking against the pricks, by resisting the power of Divine Grace! You will find it hardwork in the long run, for the Lord has said that if any shall offend one of the least of His little ones, it were better forhim that a millstone were hung about his neck and that he were cast into the midst of the sea! For prudence's sake, for yourown sake, for reason's sake, for freedom's sake, I pray you be no longer angry and let not your countenance fall! If we cannotagree in matters of religion, let us not persecute or think contemptuously of one another.
II. Now let us advance farther into the text. There is no room for being angry, for THOUGH THE DIFFERENCE LIES FIRST WITHTHE GRACE OF GOD, YET IT LIES, ALSO, WITH THE MAN'S OWN SELF. "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do notdo well, sin lies at the door."
First, then, if you are not accepted and you are angry because you are not accepted, is there not a just cause for it? Ifyou do not enjoy the comforts of religion and you grow envious because you do not, you should cool your wrathfulness by consideringthis question-"If you do well, will you not be accepted?" That is to say, will you not be accepted on the same terms as Abel?You will be accepted in the same way as your brother, your sister, your child. How is it that the one you envy is full ofpeace? It is because he has come to Jesus and confessed his sin and trusted his Redeemer. If you do this, shall not you, also,be accepted? Has not the Lord said, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out"? If you, too, come and confess yoursin and trust the Savior, you are as certain to be accepted as your friend. You are envious because another is full of joy.Where did that joy come from but from this-that he came according to the Divine command and
rested himself upon the finished work of Christ and gave himself up to be Christ's servant-and asked for the Holy Spirit torenew him and lead him into the way of righteousness?
That has been done according to the faithful promise of God which is sure to all who obey the Gospel command. If you comein the same way and rest on the same Savior and yield yourself up to be renewed by the same Spirit, the Lord will not refuseyou! Put it to the test and see. Try Him. Try Him and if He refuses you, let me know, for I am telling everybody that Jesusnever casts out any that come to Him-and I must not do so any more if I find out that He does reject you or anyone else! Cometo Jesus confessing your sin and trusting in Him and if He does not save you, let me know, and I will publish it to the fourwinds of Heaven! We shall be bound to make it known that Christ has broken His Word and that His Gospel has become of no effect,for we must, on no account, cry up a falsehood and lead our fellow men to believe that which is not true! Try the Lord Jesus,I beseech you, and I know what the result will be! You shall find that the gate of mercy stands wide open for you and thatyou will be received as well as others. There is no difference in this mat-ter-whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shallbe saved! Whoever will, may take of the Water of Life freely!
Now, is it not much wiser for a man, instead of being angry with another's enjoying the comforts of religion, to seek to enjoythem himself? Am I hungry-and angry with another because he has eaten a good meal when the same bread stands before me? ThenI am foolish and cross-grained! Do I see another refreshed at the fountain and do I stand at the freely flowing stream andcomplain? Do I bitterly demand why his lips are moistened while my mouth is dried up like an oven? What is the use of beingangry with the neighbor who has quenched his thirst when the same fountain is free to me? O murmuring Friend, why do you not,yourself, believe? Stoop and drink as your friend has done and you shall be refreshed as he has been!
If you do well-that is, if you are obedient to the precious Word of the Gospel-will you not be accepted? "No," says one, "Iam afraid that I shall not be." Who told you so? Your fear is without scriptural foundation. "But perhaps my name is not writtenin the Book of Life." Who told you so? Who has climbed up to the secret chamber of God to read the mystic roll? Who daresto tell you that your name is not there? Who knows anything about the secret purposes of God? I venture to tell you this-thatif you believe in Jesus Christ, be you who you may, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life! "Him that comes to Me,"He says, "I will in no wise cast out." Any "him" that comes in all the world, while time shall last, if he does but come toChrist, Christ has said that He cannot and will not cast him out! Therefore, come, and you shall find Grace in His sight!Instead of being angry with another for believing and rejoicing, taste, for yourself, the joys which faith secures. May infiniteGrace lead you to do so now!
God's second word with Cain was, however, "If you do not do well, sin lies at the door." That is to say, "If religion doesnot yield you joy as it does your brother, what is the reason? Surely sin blocks the entrance, as a stone blocking the doorway.If you cannot gain an entrance to mercy, it is because sin, like a huge stone, has been rolled against it, and remains there.If the way to God and salvation is, indeed, blocked up, it is only blocked up by your own sin! The door is not locked by aDivine decree, nor nailed up by any necessity of circumstances, nor barred by any peculiarity of your case. No, there is neitherblock, nor bar, nor lock except your sin. Your sin lies at the door and makes you a prisoner, where, otherwise, you mightbe free as air! I desire to press this point home upon any unconverted persons who are somewhat anxious, but yet cannot getpeace. A secret something is keeping you from being accepted as Abel was accepted. I am sure it is sin in one shape or another.I entreat you to see what that sin is!
Is it unbelief? In most cases unbelief is the damning sin. You will not believe God's Word. You reject the testimony of Godconcerning His Son Jesus and thus you put away from you eternal life. You say, "I cannot believe." But that will not do, foryou know that God is true and if God is true, how dare you say that you cannot believe Him? If, when I stated solemnly a fact,you told me, "I cannot believe you," I should understand you to mean that I am a liar. And when you say, "I cannot believeGod," do you not know that the English of such an expression is this-you make God a liar by refusing to believe on His Son?This unbelief is sin enough-sin enough to destroy you forever! What higher offense can there be against any man, much moreagainst God, than to accuse Him of a lie? Every person here who does not now believe in Jesus Christ is guilty of the highprofanity and infinite blasphemy of making the Almighty God a liar! This is the huge stone which lies at the door. May Godhelp you to roll it away, by saying, "I will believe; I must believe. God must be true; the blood of His dear Son must beable to wash away sin. I will trust in it now!"
Possibly, however, another form of the same stone of sin lies at your door and keeps you back. Is it impenitence? Are youhardened about your sin? Do you refuse to quit it? Is there no sorrow in your heart to think that you have broken the DivineLaw and have lived forgetful of your God? A hard heart is a great stone to lie in a man's way, for he who will not acknowledgehis sin and forsake it is wedded to his own destruction! May God soften your heart and help you, at once, to repent of sin!
Or, is it pride? Are you too big a man to become a Christian? Are you too respectable, too wealthy, too polite? Are you toodeep a thinker? Do you know too much? You could not go and sit down with the humble people who, like little children, believewhat God tells them. No, no-you have too much brain for that, have you? Now be honest and admit it. You read the reviews andyou like a little dash of skepticism in your literature. You could not possibly listen to Jesus when He says, "Except yoube converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." You do not care for such old-fashioneddoctrine, for you are too much of a philosopher! Well, I have heard of a Spanish monarch who perished through etiquette-therewas too much fire in the grate and it was not according to state for His Majesty to pull his chair back from the fire. Andso he became over-heated and died in consequence. I would not care to lose my soul to gratify my loftiness! Would you? One'spride may carry him far if he is a great fool, but let him not suffer his pride to carry him into Hell, for it certainly willnever carry him out, again!
Alas, there are some who have another sin, a hidden sin. I cannot mention it. It is a shame, even, to speak of the thingswhich are done by them in secret. I have been frequently puzzled to know why certain persons cannot attain peace. Do whatwe may with them, they appear to have a tide of disquiet forever ebbing and flowing and casting up mire and dirt. They haveseemed to be in a fair way to salvation and yet they have never reached it-they have been one day near and the next far off!In one or two instances I have not discovered the reason why the Gospel never succeeded with them till they were dead. Whenthey were gone, the sad truth was revealed which accounted for all their uneasiness-but I will not tell you what it was. Therewas a secret which, if it had been known, would have made their character abhorrent to those who, in ignorance, respectedthem!
Does any man here carry about with him a guilty secret? Does he persevere in shameful acts which he labors to conceal? Howcan a man hope for peace while he wars with the laws of morality? What rest can there be while solemn vows are broken andthe purest of relationships are treated with despite? No, while there is any uncleanness about a man, or about a woman, therecannot be peace with God-such sins must be given up or there cannot be acceptance with the Most High. Would you, for a moment,insinuate that the Lord Jesus died to allow you to sin and yet escape its penalty?
We have known persons practice dishonesty in business and this has shut them out from acceptance. Not that they actually pilfer,but they have ways and means of calling things by wrong names and taking fraudulent advantage. Cheating is called, "customof trade," and so on. I could not tell why the Lord did not accept certain people when they appeared to be seeking mercy.I understand it now. How can the Lord be gracious to one who continues in dishonesty? Will He choose thieves to be His friends?If He will take thieves and make them honest-they shall enter His kingdom-but if we abide in transgression of any sort whenit is known to us, we cannot expect to be accepted! My Brothers and Sisters, to be very plain with you, an honest heart andan honest hand must be found in every man who is to be justified at the Last Great Day.
Some cannot get peace because they neglect prayer. They do not ask, or seek or knock-and so they do not receive, they cannotfind and the door of Grace is not opened to them. Oh, how can you think that God accepts you when you live day after day withoutprayer?
Not a few harbor enmity in their hearts towards their brother or neighbor. O angry Hearer, God cannot accept your sacrificeuntil you are at peace with your brother! It cannot be. He might as well have pressed Cain to His bosom as you, for he thathates his brother abides in death! "You know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Go home and be reconciled.Go home and forgive your fellow servant, for if you do not so forgive your little debts, the great Lord will not forgive youall your great debt! Before you can hope to have peace with God, you must be at peace with those who have offended you.
Then there are some who keep evil company. They like to come to the Tabernacle, or to some other place where the Gospel ispreached, and they hope that they may find Christ-but then they also like a lascivious song. They relish those silly, coarse,loathsome ditties which have a touch of "smut" about them. These are disgraceful things and yet certain
people roll them out as choice morsels! While that is the case, can a man hope that God will accept him? No! It is of no usepretending anything of the kind! You and your sins must part, or God and you cannot be friends. God will accept us and receiveus as penitent sinners, but not so long as we open the back door for the devil and enthrone him in our heart of hearts. Ifyou are not accepted, sin lies at the door and shuts you out of present rest and peace, even as it will ultimately shut youout of Heaven!
I think this word of Divine expostulation bears another meaning. "If you do not do well, sin lies at the door." That is tosay, not only as a stone to block your way, but as a lion to pounce upon you. It is true that sin is hindering you from peace,but it is also true that a greater sin is lurking at the door ready to spring upon you. What a warning this word ought tohave been to Cain! If you are doing evil and God is not accepting you- and that fact is making you angry- there is a worsesin lying like a lion ready to devour you! It was so with Cain. Perhaps at that moment he had not seriously thought of killinghis brother. He was angry, but he was not yet implacable and malicious. But God said, "There is a sin lying at your door thatwill come upon you to your destruction." May it not be the same with you, my Hearer? What if I were to look steadily in theface of some undecided person here, tonight, and say, "Friend, are you not accepted by God and are you angry? A sin is lyingat your door which will be your ruin. You will go on from being a sinner to become a criminal." Is Hazael here? Shall I, likethe Prophet, look you in the face till my tears begin to flow at the sight of you, and say, "I know what you will do. Youwill be a terror to all around you"? You would probably answer me as Hazael did-"Is your servant a dog, that he should dothis great thing?"
Many a man would be horrified to be told what yet will be the fact in his case. Dreadful to tell, men that have been meltedby a sermon have afterwards grown hard enough to perpetrate crimes that have brought them before the courts of their country!Almost converted, almost persuaded, it looked as if a vista opened up before them leading to endless glory and happiness-butin one sad hour they turned the other way. Like Felix, they waited for a more convenient season and their life was, from thatday on, down, down, deeper and deeper and deeper-till it ended in the lowest Hell. Oh, my dear Hearers, I am always fearfulabout those who are so near salvation and yet are not decided! Judas, who can preach the Gospel. Judas, who is an Apostle.Judas, who can say, "Lord, is it I?"-He is the man that at the last sells his Master! Though an Apostle in appearance, hewas in heart a traitor and a son of perdition! The raw material for a devil is an angel! The raw material for the son of perditionwas an Apostle-and the raw material for the most horrible of apostates is one who is almost a saint!
I say no more than I mean and than history can prove. There have usually been splendid traits of character about men who havebeen unfit to live. The question has been in their minds, "Which shall have the mastery?" and, for a while, the result hastrembled in the balance! But when they have decided for evil, it has been decision with a vengeance. God gave Cain the clearestwarning. He did as good as say-"Why are you angry? And why is your countenance fallen? There is an opportunity for you. Ifyou do well, shall not you, even you, O Cain, be accepted? And if you do evil, sin lies at the door to spring upon you anddrag you down." Oh that he had been capable of taking the warning and escaping the evil! Be you warned, O man or woman towhom these words shall come, lest your last end be worse than the first!
But there is yet another meaning which I must bring out, here, and that is one which is held by many critics, though it isquestioned by others. I am content to go with a considerable following, especially of the old divines, who say that the wordhere used may be rendered, "If you do evil, a sin offering lies at the door." And what a sweet meaning this gives us! Godgraciously declares to angry Cain, "You can bring a sin offering, as Abel has done, and all will be well. You can presenta bleeding sacrifice, typical of the great Atonement-a sin offering lies at the door." This should be an encouraging assuranceto anyone who is anxious and, at the same time, greatly afraid that pardon is not possible. My dear Friend, why need you growdespondent because another enters Heaven? A sin offering lies at your door, also! You can have your sin forgiven even as hishas been forgiven-come and try for yourself!
"Where can I find Christ?" asks one. He stands at the door! He waits for you! The offering is not far to seek. You have notto climb to Heaven to bring Him down. He has descended! You have not to dive into the depths to fetch Him up. He has risenfrom the dead! "The Word is near you, even in your mouth," so says Paul. What then? If you would have it for your own andknow its virtue, receive it into your soul. "Alas!" cries one, "I am dying! Where is the elixir which will restore me?" Inyour mouth! Swallow it, by God's Grace! You have not even to open the box to get out the pill. It is in your mouth! Receiveit into your inward parts. Jesus crucified is freely presented to you. All the merit of His death is
here at this moment. Accept it. It is yours. A sin offering lies at the door! That is to say, the sufferings of Christ, theAtonement of Christ and the righteousness of Christ are available at this moment! You may have all that Jesus has pur-chased-haveit for nothing, the free gift of God! Repenting of sin and believing in Jesus, you have it all! Eternal salvation is yoursif the Holy Spirit has made you willing to have it. "He that believes on Him is not condemned." Only trust Him and the deathof Christ is death for you and the righteousness of Christ is your righteousness! A sin offering lies at the door. God does,as it were, say, "Bring it, I will receive it and I will receive you, for its sake."
Do but take Christ by faith and bring Him before God. Say unto God "My Father, I have no good works to trust in, but I trustYour Son. I desire to be rid of my sin and I trust in You to purify me. I pine to become a new creature and I trust in YourSpirit to new-create me. Behold the bloody Sacrifice offered upon Calvary. I present it to You. For Jesus' sake accept me."He will do it, dear Friend! He will do it!
I do not know that I can say any more. I wish that I could have said it better. I would speak right into your heart. May theSpirit of God so speak! Do not be angry because another is saved, but turn your anger on yourself because you have not acceptedsalvation. Remember, if you do what other sinners have done, namely, simply come to Christ, you shall be accepted as theyhave been! And if you are not accepted, it is your sin that is preventing it. A sin offering is waiting to take away thatsin. Oh, reject not the priceless gift! Trifle not with your soul and with your Savior! Do not incur an eternity of misery!Do not lose an eternity of bliss! "Turn you, turn you; why will you die, O house of Israel?"
If I never should occupy this pulpit again, what should I wish to have preached? Nothing but the Gospel which I have now preachedfor so many years. I wish I had spoken better, but I do not know that I could have said more. If these kind pleadings do nottouch angry hearts, neither would they be affected though martyrs rose from the dead.