Sermon 2685. The Oft-Repeated Invitation
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JULY 29, 1900.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JULY 10, 1881.
"And let him who thirsts come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17.
Our morning's discourse [Sermon #1608, Volume 27-THE DOUBLE "COME"] was upon the first part of this verse-"The Spiritand the bride say, Come. And let him that hears, say, Come." I tried to show that everyone who has truly heard the Gospelcall is bound to go forth and, in his turn, cry to others, "Come to Jesus." But if every hearer of the Gospel is to say, "Come,"certainly every preacher of it is especially called to repeat the invitation again and again. I seemed, this morning, to haveit laid upon my own heart that the very next time I entered the pulpit, I must take care to make this call the burden of mydiscourse, as I ask you, dear Friends, also to make it the burden of yours. "Let him that hears say, Come." But let him thatpreaches say it with a more distinct emphasis than anyone else! So, tonight, I daresay that my message will appear to someof you to be monotonous, for I shall strike the same note again and again, and again, and bring out from it only this onesound, "Come, Come, Come!" Yet let me tell you that if God shall bless that invitation, and sinners do come to Christ, therewill be more music evoked from this note than if my sermon had been as brilliant as the highest human eloquence could makeit, for angels in Heaven and God, Himself, will rejoice if sinners are brought to the Savior!
People used to say of George Whitefield-who commonly finished up his discourse by crying, "Come to Jesus," with his handsuplifted and his eyes streaming with tears-that when he was hard up for an idea, he always cried, "O Sinners, come to Jesus!"God be praised if all preachers imitate him in that respect when they are hard up for an idea, for I know of no idea thatcould possibly equal in value an earnest, simple, loving Gospel invitation! How that man of God would stand on KenningtonCommon or Moorfields and cry, in trumpet tones, "Come, O come! Why will you not come? Come now to Jesus"! The best of it isthat his cries were not in vain, for the people did come-they came by hundreds and thousands unto Him who said, "All thatthe Father gives Me shall come to Me; and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast
I. In handling my text, I am going to make a few remarks, and this shall be the first of them. I call upon every unconvertedperson here present who hears the message of my text, to notice THE GREAT SOLEMNITY OF THE INVITATION. "Let him who thirstscome. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
To my mind, the solemnity of this invitation lies partly in the fact that it is placed at the very end of the Bible and placedthere because it is the sum and substance-the aim and objective of the whole Bible. It is like the point of the arrow andall the rest of the Bible is like the shaft and the feathers on either side of it. We may say of the Scriptures what Johnsaid of his Gospel, "These are written"-all these books that are gathered together into one grand library called the Bible-"theseare written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And that believing you might have life throughHis name." So far as you are concerned, this blessed Book has missed its purpose unless you have been led by it to come toChrist!
It is all in vain that you have a Bible, or read your Bible, unless you really "take the water of life" of which it speaks.It is worse than vain, for if it is not a savor of life unto life to you, it shall be a savor of death unto death! Thereforeit seems to me that this is a very solemn invitation because all the books of the Bible do, in effect, cry to sinners, "Cometo
Jesus." All the Prophets of the Bible, all the Apostles of the Bible, all the threats of the Bible, all the promises of theBible gather themselves up and focus themselves into this one burning ray, "Come to Jesus! Come, and take the water of lifefreely." Oh, that it might burn its way right into your heart! It is the very end of the Bible, then-the end of the Biblein two senses-its end and its objective that you should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The solemnity of my text lies also in another thing, for it might have been something very different I t says, "You thirstyones, come and drink the water of life." But shall I tell you what it might have said? Let me read to you the 11th verse ofthis chapter. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still." I am devoutlythankful that I have not to come to this railing and to say to you, "My unconverted Hearers, you may listen to me if you like,but it will be of no use. You are unconverted and so you always must be! You are unjust and you always must be unjust. Youare filthy and you always must be filthy!" God might have sent me with that heavy message of woe, but it is a sweetly solemnthought to my heart that, instead of doing so, He has bid me say, "You unjust, come to the Just One and be made just by Him.You filthy, come to the Water of Life and wash and be clean."
God is not yet dealing with you according to His infinite Justice-it is mercy that rules this hour! Mercy is flowing throughthis place like a life-giving river-will you not drink and live? No axe is yet uplifted to smite the sinner-it is still boundup in the rods that Mercy has tied around it and there is no order to unfasten the cords. Love, Grace, Welcome-these are thesort of words we can still use-and I pray God that you may be glad that it is so and give most earnest heed to these wordslest you should have to listen to a message of quite another character. Look, for instance, at the 15th verse-"Outside aredogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." Did I hear yousay, "We are not dogs, nor sorcerers," and so on? Perhaps you are not, yet you may be loving and practicing a lie-and youare doing so if you are trusting in your own righteousness and cherishing the notion that you do not need a Savior!
If you who are unconverted do not need a Savior, then the Gospel is a monstrous folly and the death of Christ upon the Crosswas a superfluity, not to be praised, but to be condemned! O Sirs, do not love or practice that lie, but NOW, while Christis freely preached to you, come, I pray you, and listen to His wooing words! Take Him now and have Him forever!
Suppose that, instead of my having to say to you, "Come to Jesus," you heard a voice, loud as the thunder when the very heavensseem to crack and rend, shouting to you, "Come to judgment.." Suppose you heard the trumpet of the archangel announcing thatChrist had come from Heaven with His mighty angels, "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and thatobey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"? You wilhear it one day-you may hear it within the hour! You must hear it beforelong-and this will be the chief note of it-
"Come to judgment! Come to judgment, come away!" Would to God that you would listen, now, to the voice that cries, "Come tomercy! Come and find mercy now, that you need not fear the great Day of Judgment, come when it may."
That, then, is my first remark-that the invitation of the text has a very solemn setting.
II. Now, secondly, I want you to notice, in the invitation before us, THE SUITABILITY OF ITS PROVISIONS. "Let him who thirstscome. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
That is just what you need-your greatest need is life. Merely to breathe, eat and drink is not, according to God's notion,living. That is a mere animal kind of life and there is a far better and higher life than anything that men know about untilGod's Grace quickens them and makes them truly live. Life is needed by every unconverted man and woman. Life-not merely anoutward change of life, or a reformation-but the reception of a new lifeby regeneration, as our Lord said to Nicodemus, "Youmust be born again." There are some things that you may be or may not be, but this is a must be-"You must be born again."
Our text speaks of "the water of life" which men are bid to take and which God most freely gives. It is called "the waterof life" because it quenches thirst A man may scarcely know what thirst of soul really is even when he has begun to experienceit. He has a sense of unrest and a desire for something that he does not possess. He does not know what that something is,but he knows that something is lacking-that is one indication of thirst of soul. And when the Spirit of
God comes and deals with a man or woman, he or she gets a still more intense sense of uneasiness and unhappiness-and the pangsof desire are still more acute within.
Thirst is a very strong form of desire. Hunger may be somewhat appeased by various expedients, but I have been told that thepangs of thirst are terrible in the extreme. When it really burns a man, it is like a fierce fire raging within him. So, whena soul needs, desires, longs and pines for this unknown gift, it does not know what it really does need, but its one needis a Savior. It needs renewal, it needs forgiveness, it needs life and God, here, in our text, presents the blessing to mankindunder the figure of, "the water of life," which removes the thirst of the soul, refreshes the drooping spirit and cleansesthe whole life. Oh, that men would but take it-and take it at once!
My dear Hearer, let me assure you that, in the Gospel, there is exactly what you require. Have you been trying to make yourselfbetter and yet you are conscious that you are no better? The Gospel, received by faith, will make you better. Are you unhappy?Do you long to find something that will give you peace? The Gospel would give you peace if you would only believe it! Yousay that you want to get away from your old sinful self and to be made anew. Well, in the Gospel, that great work is providedfor and many here can testify that, by its means, they have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus. There is a black pastin your history that you would gladly forget-and in the Gospel there is revealed the Fountain that can wash out all its stains.Perhaps some of you are dreading the dangerous future-in the Gospel there is ample protection for all that lies before you.Possibly, to some of you, the present is a time of great darkness-in the Gospel there is light for the present-yes, joy evenfor this moment in which you seem to be driven almost to despair! When I preach about the water of life, so freely given byGod, I mean just this-that all you need between here and Heaven, Christ is ready to give you! All that your soul can possiblyrequire to enable you to stand in the Presence of God without fear and to dwell in the bosom of God forever, made perfectlylike to God by His Grace-all that is in the Gospel for you! And we are commanded to invite you to partake of it in the nameof Jesus Christ our Lord!
I think the thought of the suitability of the provision of the Gospel for me is one that is worth dwelling upon. I have alwaysfelt, since I believed the Gospel, that it was made on purpose for me. If it does not suit any other man, it exactly fitsme. And if you try it, my Hearer, you will find that it exactly fits you, also! The Lord knows your measure and He has madeit just the right size and shape for you-there is not a particle of your being which the Gospel cannot cover. There is nota wish in your heart, which ought to be there, that the Gospel will not gratify! If you accept it, it will fill you to thebrim with happiness and you shall overflow with exceeding joy of heart in the treasure which Christ has brought to you!
III. But I must hasten on to notice, in the third place, THE FREENESS OF THIS GIFT, because our text says, "Whoever will,let him take the water of life freely."
The Gospel is priceless in value, but it is to be had "without money and without price." The salvation of God can never bepurchased. I am amazed that anyone should ever cherish the idea of a man buying a place for himself in Heaven. Why, the verystreets are paved with exceedingly rich and rare gold, and a rich man's whole fortune would not buy a single paving stonein those golden streets! There is nothing that you can ever bring to God as the purchase-money for salvation! He is infinitelyrich-what does He want of yours? If you are righteous, what do you want from Him? The impossibility of salvation by humanmerit or good works ought to be clear to every thinking man. If we do all that God bids us do, we are doing no more than weought to do-and even then we are unprofitable servants!
You may offer whatever terms you please, but God will never sell Christ. Judas did that, but the Father never will. He givesHim freely to all who are willing to have Him, but He will never sell Him. He will never barter and haggle with you concerningHim-so much alms and so much repentance, and then you shall have Christ? No, Sirs, I tell you again that my Lord will neverdegrade His well-beloved Son by bargaining with you about Him! Will you have Him for nothing? I hear people say, sometimes,that certain things cannot be had "for love or money." Well, God will not give Christ for money, but He will give Him outof pure love to you! If you will have Him freely and for nothing, the great transaction is done-He is yours and you have Him!But if you bring anything to pay for Him, you cannot have Him. If all the stars in the sky were worlds of gold and you couldcarry them all in your belt and then take them out and throw all those starry treasures down upon the floor of Heaven as theprice of a single gleam of Divine Love, you could not buy it!
Solomon said, "If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly despised." And if a man couldgive the whole universe, he could not purchase the love of God! No-yet you can have Christ for nothing-
now, at once, just where you are if you will take him on God's terms! Will you have Him? Oh, that we would as freely takeasGod freely gives! And why, since God is willing to give, should I be unwilling to receive? O my Heart, my Heart, my Heart,why are you unwilling to receive-unwilling to be saved-unwilling to be pardoned-unwilling to have Christ for nothing? Foolthat you are, I might truly say this of myself if I were unwilling to accept God's free gift! If I had some gold to give awaytonight, I would not need to say much to induce you to have it. The other day I saw a diamond which was said to be worth ahundred thousand pounds-and if I had it here and said, "Dear Hearer, you may have it, and have it for nothing," the only conceivablereason why any of you would hesitate to take it would be because you might not believe me. Otherwise, you would all cry outat once, "Thank you, Sir! Pass it over here! Have you anymore diamonds to dispose of on the same terms?"
Everybody would be willing to accept it for nothing. But when we preach Christ and His Gospel, then men want to buythe pricelesstreasure-they want to feelsomething, or to besomething, or to dosomething, or else they will not have Him! I have no warrantto offer Christ to any man in exchange for the payment of even a penny, but I do declare that He is to be given freely, accordingto my text, "Let him who thirsts come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
IV. Now I pass on to make a further remark concerning THE WONDERFUL SIMPLICITY OF THE WAY OF SALVATION. Two words describeit here. "Let him who thirsts come. And whoever will, let him take."
Surely everybody understands those two words. Take the first-"Come" If a physician should advertise that every person whowas sick might come to him, you would know what that meant. If you were sick, you would soon be at his door if you could getthere. And you would put yourself into his hands if you believed him to be able to cure you. Treat the Lord Jesus Christ asyou would treat an eminent physician, that is, go to Him. "Where is He?" you ask. "I know how to go to an earthly physician,I either walk or ride to his house or consulting room." Well, you can stand still and yet come to Christ because we reachHim by mental traveling, not bodily traveling. Think of Christ-that is the way to come to Him. Think much of Christ-that isstill further on the way to Him. Believe Him, believe in Him, believe on Him-that is, trustHim, and all is done. As soon asyou have trusted Christ, you are a saved man, or woman, or child. That very trust of yours is an evidence that your heartis changed-you would never have trusted the Son of God with your soul if salvation had not already come to your house! Now,that is coming to Christ-just putting yourself into His hands.
The other word is quite as simple-"Take." Everybody knows what it is to take something. To take water, for instance, the textsays, "Whoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Well, what does a man do when he takes water? Perhaps he hasa hand that trembles so much that he can hardly hold the glass or cup that contains the water, yet he takes it. Anybody cantake water. There is no need to send a child to school to teach him how to take it. He puts it to his mouth and it flows down.That is all-and that is exactly how, in a spiritual'sense, we take the water of life, and take Christ, Himself. There is anotherpassage, you know, which says, "The word is near you, even in your mouth," and, as I have often told you, when anything isin your mouth and you want to keep it, the proper thing to do with it is to swallow it, that is all. I do not know how tomake the process of receiving Christ more simple than that. You smile, dear Friends, but the very essence of the Gospel liesin receiving Christ like that-it is taking into yourself what God freely gives to you-that is all.
"Come...take." "Come...take." "Come...take"-not run, fly, leap, bring-no, but, "come...take." Oh, that you could all see howsimple is this wondrous plan of salvation! The other day there passed away one who had, as I judge, been a Believer for years,but it had always been a question with her friends whether she was a Believer or not. And she said to my brother, when uponher death-bed, "The simplicity of the Gospel has been a stumbling-block to me all my life, but now that I am about to die,instead of being a stumbling-block, it is my delight, for what would I do, now, without the simple Gospel, 'Believe and live'?"She was a very good Churchwoman, one of the best I ever knew. She always observed all fast days and feast days and did allmanner of good things. She never seemed to do anything wrong, but always to do what was right. Yet those are just the peoplewho find it difficult to yield to Christ, because of their self-righteousness.
But whoever you may be, you will have to come down to God's terms if you wish to be saved! There is only one door to Heavenand but one way for the worst and for the best. You must bow down and accept Jesus as the sinners' Savior, or
else you cannot have Him at all! God's terms are, "Come...take." So, do not try any other plan. Do not say, "Well, I willbring something." Do not bring anything! It is not what you bringto Christ, but what you take ofChrist that will save you!Therefore hear and heed the message of the text. God make you to hear it in your very soul! It is the true Gospel message-"Come...take."
V. My fifth remark is this, NOTICE THE BREADTH OF THE GOSPEL INVITATION. "Let him who thirsts come. And whoever will, lethim take the water of life freely."
I will suppose that I am addressing a person who is very anxious about his soul-one who has been for weeks or perhaps formonths seeking salvation, but who has not found it. I take him by the hand and I say, "My dear Friend, you are the very individualto whom my text refers. You know that the first part applies to you-'Let him who thirsts come.' You have an earnest desireto be saved, you have that thirst of which the text speaks, so come and take the water of life
Yet even while I am speaking, I can see another Brother and I know that he is groaning and saying, "Oh, I wish I had thatthirst! I wish I had that desire, but I have not any. I do not feel anything! All that I feel is that I wish I did feel, butI do not feel at all." Come along, my Friend, you are another of the very men that I am sent to seek, for the second partof the text says, "Whoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The first net has somewhat wide meshes, so some littlefish slip through it, but the second one has very small meshes. I wish it would catch the very smallest fishes-the spratsor the whitebait-I mean those persons who have the least possible desire to be saved. "Whoever will." "Whoever will." "Oh,I am willing enough," says one, "but perhaps, after all, I am not one of those persons who are invited!" Oh, but it says,"Whoever will." I am very fond of that word, "whoever." I think that the translators have left, "whoever," out in some places-maythe Lord forgive them and teach them better! But we shall always keep it in even if they leave it out- and I am sure it oughtto be here-"whoever will." It is a word that the Holy Spirit has blessed to thousands of souls and He has not blessed a lieor a blunder, so I am quite sure that it is "whoever will!" We will stick to that, we must have that glorious Word of God-"whoeverwill, let him take the water of life freely."
"Oh, but he is a very poor man!" What does that matter? "Whoever will." "But he is a very ignorant man, he does not even knowhis letters!" What has that to do with the text? "Whoever will." "Ah, but he has been a very bad man!" Well, what about that?It is, "whoever will." Does he will to trust Christ? Is he willing to take the water of life? Then, "let him take the waterof life freely." "Oh, but," says one, "he is altogether an out-of-the-way sinner! You do not know how shamefully he has behaved."No, and I do not want to know! But I do know that if he will but take the water of life, he may do so, for the text says,"whoeverwill."
There is no limit to the mercy of God to all who trust His dear Son! And there is no limit to you but that which your ownwill imposes. If you nilit, that is, make nothing of it, then it shall be nil, that is, nothing, to you. But if you willit,it is God's will that you should have it! When your will is brought to accept the Savior, then, depend upon it, it is God'swill that you should have Him! "Whoever will." "Whoever." I cannot conceive, in any language, a wider sweep of word than that,so come along, poor troubled Sinner, come to Jesus Christ! Accept Him and you shall be saved here and now!
VI. Now I close with the last remark, which concerns THE EARNESTNESS OF THIS CALL ON GOD'S PART- "Whoever will, let him takethe water of life freely."
Who is the Person that invites? Listen. First, it is the Holy Spirit-gentle, loving, tender, gracious, mysterious, adorable,Divine. He says, "Come." The Spirit that brooded over the chaos in the first creation and brought forth order, says, "Come,and be made new in Christ Jesus." Who is it, next, that says, "Come"? "The bride"-that is, the entire Church of God. All thepeople of God cry to you, "Come!" Those on earth and those in Heaven, too-if you could hear them speak out of the excellentGlory, you would know that the very joy they have in Christ moves them to call you to join them! They are leaning over thebattlements of Heaven and beckoning you to Christ. The bride, that is, the whole Church in Heaven and on earth, says, "Come,come!"
And then, next, everyone who hears the Gospel is bid to say to you, "Come." Because the Lord knew how hard you would be toconvince, He has told everybody who hears the Gospel to try and bring you-"Let Him that hears say, Come." If you were to receivean invitation to a feast, it is possible that you would go the first time you were asked. But if you had a dozen letters invitingyou, tomorrow morning you would say, "Dear me, this is very remarkable! I have 12 letters, from 12 different people, all invitingme to this banquet." Suppose, when you went out of your door in the morning, there was a servant who stood there, and said,"Sir, I have come to invite you to the banquet." "Why, dear me!" you would say, "I have already been invited a dozen times."During the day, there comes a telegraph inviting you to this same banquet-perhaps you do not think much of that, but whenyou get home, your wife says, "Dear, I want to invite you to go to that banquet." You smile and possibly you even put heroff, but there comes in a dear child of yours, and he says, "Father, I have been to that gentleman's house to a banquet andhe has asked me to give you an invitation, and I do so want you to go to it." You could hardly refuse that! And if, everytime you met 50 or a hundred people, they all invited you to go, you would, at last, say, "Well, I really must go, for itseems such a strange thing that everybody is inviting
That is just the case with some of you here. We mean never to let you have any rest till you come to Christ! I have heardthat there are some friends about this Tabernacle who "bother" people concerning their souls-and I hope they will keep on"bothering" them! They will not let them come and go out of this building without having an earnest word with them-I hopeit will always be so. We have some Brothers and Sisters here who are sharpshooters-they are just now lying low in the rifle-pit,taking aim at some of you-and they will shoot at you before you get away tonight! I hope they will hit you, too, because whoeverhears the Gospel is bid to say to others, "Come." You will get girdled round with a ring of invitations, for God means tobless you and, therefore, if you escape one, He will not let you escape another!
Listen further. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, ' 'Come." On one occasion, on the last day, that great day of the feast,Jesus stood and cried, "If any man thirsts, let him come unto Me, and drink." And another day our blessed Master said, "Comeunto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." So, here is Jesus calling, and the Holy Spiritcalling, and His people calling-even the Prophet Isaiah is still calling! Dear good man, he has been in Heaven for thousandsof years, yet at this moment he cries out of the holy Book, "Ho, everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he thathas no money; come you, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Why, it is like the oldages, the ancient centuries come back again to call to you to come to Christ! I hear that call from Heaven. I hear Christcalling from the Throne of God. I hear the Spirit calling. I hear the bride calling. I am calling as one of those who haveheard the Gospel for myself. Listen, then, oh, listen! Was there ever such a chorus of united invitations? Did ever so manyhearts combine before about any one thing? Will you not come? Will you not come? Why will you die? Why will you die when thewater of life flows at your feet?-
"Stoop down and drink, and live!" May God lead you so to do, for Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH1:1-20.
This is a chapter which, I think, teaches an important lesson to those of us who desire the salvation of men, for it showsus how God sets about that work. He begins by exhibiting the sinner's sin to him before He proclaims mercy to him-and if wewant to be the means of doing good to men, it will not be by merely crying to them, "Believe, believe, believe"-there mustbe a laying of the axe at the root of the tree of self-righteousness and a cutting away of all trust in self. A man must realizehis danger before he will desire to escape from it and it is a mistaken kindness which refuses to set before him the perilin which he is. God, who is infinitely tender and inconceivably merciful, shows us, in this chapter, how to go to work withsinners.
Verses 1, 2. The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham,Ahaz, andHezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, andgive ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and broughtup children, and they have rebelled against Me. "If they were simply My subjects, I could bear their rebellion better thanI can, now, for they are my children. I have nourished them and brought them up and, after long and persevering kindness towardsthem, I might have expected some affection from them in return, but, 'they have rebelled against Me.'"
3. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel does not know, My people do not consider See how theLord still acknowledges the children of Israel as His people, though He contrasts their conduct with the behav-
ior of the ox and the ass. So we see that, however far God's people may have gone into sin, they are still His people andHe does not deny their relationship to Him. "Israel does not know, My people do not consider."
4. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters. What a terrible picture!A nation burdened with iniquity, as full of sin as their fathers were, and their offspring growing up like themselves. Byhereditary transmission they have received a predisposition to evil that cannot be taken out of the blood except by Divinepower!
4. They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One ofIsrael unto anger, they are gone away backward. What a descriptionthis is of the state of the unregenerate-even of God's elect among them who are still crushed under the ruins of the Fall!Perhaps, as I am reading this chapter, some poor soul here is saying, "That just describes me." Well, let it describe you,but lament, mourn and humiliate yourself before the Most High as you realize what is your sad condition! You have acted worsetowards God than an ass does to its master. You have behaved shamefully towards Him and thus you have provoked Him to anger.Do not think lightly of your sin, but let it weigh heavily upon your spirit, as you are "laden with iniquity," God grant thatit may be a heavy burden to you! The Lord next goes on to exhibit the sin of the people in the light of His chastisement.When a child sins and does wrong, a wise parent uses correction to see whether he cannot overcome the evil tendencies, butalas, there is no correction that will ever get sin out of the sinner! See what God did with these people, and what came ofit.
5, 6. Why should you be stricken anymore? You will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faintFrom the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: theyhave not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment' 'You are already in this terrible plight and yoursufferings are the direct result of your sins."
7, 8. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and itis desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter ofZion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a gardenof cucumbers, as a besieged city. Now, to translate all this into plain English, I have known men who have been chastenedfortheir sins and bytheir sins. God has chastised them and they have been severely chastised-but no obedience, no repentancehas followed upon the chastisement. Men have been brought, by their sin, from wealth to poverty, from competence to actualneed. Have we not seen them, by drunkenness, brought to rags, and by vice brought to rottenness? Have we not seen men broughtto the very gates of Hell by their iniquities, yet still they have clung to those iniquities? They have begun to drink thecup of their own damnation and, even when they realized what they were doing, they have still clutched the burning chalicein their hands and have willingly drained it to the last dregs! Oh, it is horrible, it is terrible, to see at what a costmen will ruin their own souls! They go to Hell as if they were at a steeplechase-no hedge is too high and no brook too widefor them-and they ride to destruction at a desperate pace. If we who are God's people were half as earnest in serving Himas the ungodly are in their efforts to be lost, what great service we should render to Him! God reminded these people of allthat He had done to them by way of chastening-yet no good had come of it.
9. Except the LORD ofHosts hadleft us a very small remnant, we shouldhave been as Sodom, and we should have been like Gomorrah.I am afraid that this verse applies to London at the present time. To what an awful extent has the sin of the people gone-andamong those who commit it are many of the great ones of the earth. It is a crying iniquity which may well make God angry.I marvel not that there are alarms, and all sorts of frightful rumors in the city which has become like Sodom and Gomorrahof old.
10. Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the Law of our God, you people of Gomorrah. Isaiah nextgoes on still further to expose the sin of the people and, anticipating that they would say that they had been very religious,that they had attended the means of Grace, that they had been observant of the outward ritual of God's sanctuary, he admitsthe truth of it all-and then shows what is the real value of it.
11. 12. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? says the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams,and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When you come to appearbefore Me, who has required this at your hand, to tread My courts?Have not some of you at times felt as if the Lord had saidto you, "What right have you to be among My people?" For years you have been worshipping professedly, but not sincerely. Itis a wonder that the seat you sit on bears you up when your worship has been all hypocrisy-a delu-
sion-you have only given to God the external husk of devotion! The kernel of true heart-worship has never been there
13, 14. Bring no more vain oblation; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies,I cannot endure-away with them; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soulhates: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them. When God is wearied by a man's best things, what must His feelingsbe concerning the man's worst things?
15. And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide My eyes from you: yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear:your hands are full of blood. When even a man's prayers become an abomination in the sight of God, what must the man, himself,be? As long as men live in sin and love it, God will not hear their supplications. Whether their hands are stained with blood,or whatever other sin it is of which they are guilty-until they forsake the evil, God will not answer their prayers. The Lord,having thus set before the people their sin and the aggravation of that sin in that they had continued in it after severechastisement, and the further aggravation of it in that, all the while, they had professed to be true and faithful servantsof Jehovah, though they had been in constant rebellion against Him, He yet goes on to speak to them in this gracious fashion-
16, 17. Wash you, make yourself clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil; learn to dowell; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. That is to say, "Bring forth fruitsmeet for repentance, so that it may be seen that your heart is really changed and that you desire better things, and thingsmore pleasing in My sight." Then listen further to this marvelous message-
18. Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool There is not as much music to a poor convinced sinner's ears in awhole oratorio of Handel as there is in this one verse of Scripture! But your ears must be attuned to this music before youcan appreciate its blessed sweetness. He only knows the music of mercy who knows the misery of sin! I think that I must readthis precious verse again-"Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are as scarlet"-we will notdispute about them, they are all you think they are, and much worse-"though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as whiteas snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
19. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.' 'You shall not any longer be 'as a lodge in a gardenof cucumbers, as a besieged city.' You shall be no more desolate, but, 'you shall eat the good of the land.' I will take awayfrom you My chastisement when I take away your sin. I will take care to feed you if you will but come back to Me. There shallbe feasting, music and dancing, instead of starving, sighing and sorrow, if you will only return to your Father's house. 'Ifyou are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.'"
20. But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it. So the Lordhas mercy in His right hand for those who will turn from their sin-but He has a sword in His left hand for those who willcontinue to live in their iniquities. God grant us Grace, now, to yield to the sweet reasoning of His love, and to turn fromour sins, for His dear Son's sake! Amen.