Sermon 3094. Heart Piercing
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, MAY 28, 1908.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 12, 1874.
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men andbrethren, what shall we do?" Acts 2:37
[Another Sermon by Mr. Spurgeon upon the same text (together with verse 36,) is #2102, Volume 35-"PRICKED IN THEIR HEART]
I DARESAY you have seen collections of celebrated sermons which have been chosen with more or less discretion. I suppose thatthe sermon of Peter, on the day of Pentecost, was one of the most celebrated discourses that was ever delivered, for it wasthe means of bringing 3,000 persons to conviction, to conversion, to profession of faith and to union with the visible Church!Yet I do not believe that any library collector would ever have put this sermon by Peter among the most famous. It does notseem to me to be very eloquent-there is no climax in it, nothing of that fashionable thing called a "peroration." It is allplain speaking and hard hitting, very personal, very much to the point, very full of clear Scriptural reasoning-but thereis nothing at all oratorical about it. It is just such a simple speech as you might expect from a fisherman as Peter had been!I should think that Peter's discourse was delivered calmly and deliberately. He was at a white heat of earnestness and wasaltogether too earnest to lose his self-control. His whole being was so thoroughly possessed by what he had to say that hethought little of how he said it.
It was a very powerful sermon, but where did the power lie, do you think? Well, instrumentally and speaking after the mannerof men, I think it lay partly in Peter's vivid realization of what he was saying. He knew that his Lord and Savior had, withwicked hands, been crucified and slain-and that He had risen from the grave and had gone back again to Heaven. You could see,by his whole manner, that he was not talking about myths and fancies, but about truths and things of which he knew for certain.There is always a power about a man's message when his hearers know that he who delivers it believes what he is saying andhas no latent doubts, no concealed skepticisms, but speaks what he knows and testifies what he has seen.
The next secret of the power of Peter's discourse was, I think, that it was full of Scripture. There is a quotation, firstof one Psalm, and then of another-David said this, and David said that-Peter's superstructure of argument was built upon thesolid rock of Holy Scripture. Peter had a great mass before him that day needing to be moved and I do not wonder that he gotsuch good leverage with such a fulcrum as he had. The more of Scripture, yes, of the very words of Scripture that we can usein preaching, the better and, certainly, the more of such thing as can begin with, "Thus says the Lord." Men will not careabout what we say, or, "Thus says Mr. Wesley," or, "Thus says John Calvin"-it is, "Thus says the Lord" that will have powerover them! McCheyne says that you will generally notice that conversions are worked rather by the preacher's text, or by somepassage of Scripture quoted by him, than by his sermon, "For," he adds, "it is God's Word, not our comment upon God's Word,which is usually blessed to the salvation of souls." I think it is so, though the rule is not without many exceptions, andour Lord hints at that when He says, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me throughtheir word," as if the message of God-sent servants was not only God's Word, but also theirword-and men were led to believeon Jesus through hearing it.
But the real strength of Peter's sermon lay in this, that he had been that very day baptized with the Holy Spirit and withfire. Sitting in that upper room with the rest of the disciples, he had heard "the sound from Heaven as of a rushing mightywind" which "filled all the house where they were sitting." And the "cloven tongues like as of fire" had sat upon
Peter as well as upon the rest-and he, too, had been "filled with the Holy Spirit," so that through him the Holy Spirit spoke.Therefore it was that when he delivered that very simple sermon, his hearers were pricked in their heart, and thousands ofthem cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Oh, that some such power might fall upon this congregation this evening,especially upon the unconverted part of it, that they might be "pricked in their heart" as Peter's hearers were!
I. My subject is the pricking in the heart and my first observation is that A SAVING IMPRESSION IS ALWAYS A PRICK IN THE HEART.
A prick in the heart is very painful. To be pricked anywhere is not a thing to be desired, but a prick in the heart wouldnot merely be painful, but, in a natural and literal sense, it would be fatal. There are a great many different kinds of impressionsmade by preachers upon their hearers, but blessed is that preacher who makes a wound right in their hearts!
A saving impression must be made in their heart, because all their religion must begin there. A great many attempts have beenmade to make men religious from the outside. Some have thought that a very low coat, reaching almost to the ground, and astrange kind of hat-a biretta, I think it is called-have a great deal of religion in them. It is amazing how much religionis supposed to depend upon tailors and hatters! But I fail to see how anybody's heart can be affected by the cut of his coat,or the shape of his hat! Some try to affect a man by the performance of certain ceremonies. They take him in his childhoodand "regenerate" him after their fashion. And later they "confirm" him in something or other and external ceremonies of variouskinds are performed upon him. They remind one rather of Babylon than of Jerusalem. But I have never heard of anyone beingbrought to Jesus Christ in that way, or of any conscience being awakened, or any man finding peace with God in that fashion!
Some have tried what could be done by advising abstinence from meats and drinks. This is a very proper thing in its placeand may lead to useful results. But Christ's teaching is, "Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man, but that whichcomes out of the mouth that defiles a man." It is the heart which must be affected! And nothing that comes of man, or thatcan be manipulated by the human hand seems able to touch that. "Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto theLord your God," is the demand even under the old Law of God-and one of the first laws of pure spiritual religion is this-"Godis a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." "The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink;but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." And, therefore, no impression can be of any saving use to a manunless it reaches his heart.
Many of you, dear Friends, have made a profession of religion and you are moral enough to be reckoned consistent with thatprofession and attentive enough to outward religious duties to consider yourselves to be all that you should be. But, oh,I do implore you never to be satisfied with any religion which does not affect your heart, and with no religious exercisewhich is not true heart-work. You might as well be sitting in your own homes as be here without your hearts. It is no moreuseful to sing a hymn than to sing a song unless you sing it with the heart and so make melody to God. The heart, the heart,the heart, the heart-that is the vital place! Out of it are the issues of life and unless it is savingly affected, the wholelife will still be estranged from God!
If those who hear the Gospel are to be blessed by it, they must be impressed and pricked in their heart because other impressionsmay even be evil They may be forcible, yet they may be productive of no good results. Another of Peter's discourses made avery singular impression upon his hearers. If you turn to Acts 5:33 you will find these words, "When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them." That time,you see, the wound went just as far as the heart, but it stopped there-"they were cut to the heart." It was a deep cut-tothe heart, but not in the heart! And the consequence was not that they cried out, "Men and brethren, what must we do?" butthey, "took counsel to slay them." Oftentimes if the Word is delivered earnestly and with power, men cannot help feeling theforce of it. But what do they do after feeling it? They gnash their teeth for very rage, or they try to besmear and bespatterthe preacher and to ridicule or misrepresent what he has said. If anything has pointedly come home to them, they twist itinto quite another form and say, "The preacher said such-and-such," when he really said nothing of the kind! That is a wayof taking counsel to slay him-they dare not kill his body, but they kill his reputation as far as they can. You may be deeplyimpressed by a sermon so as to feel under it in a way which you will never forget and yet, for all that, you may only be cutto the heart!
Yet I would rather that people were cut to the heart than not wounded at all, because I hope that the sword of the Spiritwill penetrate a little further and really enter the heart. I have often been told this sort of story-"I came to hear youpreach, Sir, on such an occasion, and I went away very angry. I could not bear the Doctrine that was proclaimed and I wentout hating the man who had talked in that fashion. Yet I could not forget it. It rankled in my mind until, at last, I beganto think there was something in it. By-and-by, I saw that it was true and then I said, 'What a fool I am to struggle againstit!'" I do not mind my hearers being angry with me because of my preaching, for it is a good deal like fishing. If you havea good large salmon at the end of the line, he will struggle and pull with all his might-and thus he will swallow the hookall the more deeply and there will be the less likelihood of his getting away. And an obstinate resistance to the Gospel issometimes an indication that the Gospel is piercing and pricking the hearer-and making him snap at it as a wounded beast triesto bite the spear which has been thrust into him and which he cannot pull out. So, when a man is cut to the heart, I hopethat he will soon be cut in the heart, but if the sword of the Spirit does not prick him in the heart, no permanent good willbe effected.
And further, supposing the impression made should be good in itself, yet if the hearer is not pricked in the heart, the impressionwill be only transient and we shall have to say to the man, as the Lord said to Judah, "Your goodness is as a morning cloud,and as the early dew it goes away." Or if the impression lasts a little longer, it will only need enough of the fervent heatof the rising sun upon the blade which has begun to spring up, but under which there is no depth of earth-and in due seasonits verdure will vanish and it will perish. If it is not real heart-work, it will not last. The reason why so many backslideis that they built on the sand-there was no deep foundation-work. The soul-saving work, the work which lasts, is that whereGod plows deeply into the conscience and sows the good Seed of the Kingdom in the heart. It is principle, not passion-fullconviction, not merely a profession of faith-that will endure unto the end. If the impression made does not prick the heart,it will be only transient-and when it disappears, evil will come of it, for perhaps the people who are most difficult to bemoved are those who have been impressed a great many times, yet not saved. The first time you heard God's faithful servantpreach, you felt ready to weep yourself away under the power of the Truth of God which he proclaimed, but now his voice hasgrown so familiar that even when it is most pathetically earnest, you go to sleep under it! I have been in a mill when therehas been such a clatter of wheels that I could not hear myself speak, yet the miller has told me that he was so used to thenoise that he could go to sleep in it. And there are persons who have sat so long under a faithful minister that they havegot used to his message and do not feet its force as they did when first they heard it. To use a common expression, they havebecome Gospel-hardened. And this is a very serious state for any man to reach. May God save us from that perilous conditionby causing us to be pricked in the heart!
When the Truth pricks the hearers of it in the heart, the impression becomes operative. In the case before us, if you readthe narrative, you will find that these men became earnest enquirers. They said to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles,"Men and brethren-what must we do?" Being told what to do, merely, "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you," they did repent.There was a change of mind which was followed by a corresponding change of life-and they were baptized-they obeyed the commandof Christ and made an open declaration of their faith in Him in His own appointed way. Thus they were added to the Church,"and they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' Doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
All this followed because they had been "pricked in their heart." It was a sorrowful beginning, yet it was a good beginning,for it was God's way of beginning the work of Grace in their souls. I wish that all converts began in that way. Some seemto me to jump into religion as if they were going into a bath-and then jump out of it again just as quickly. I do not believein the faith that is unaccompanied by repentance. Some have spoken in disparagement of repentance by saying "that the originalword means nothing more than a change of mind." And you might imagine that it was a very unimportant change of mind. But theirknowledge of Greek is not very deep and their experimental knowledge of true religion would seem to be still more shallow.This change of mind, I believe, was never better pictured than in that verse of the children's hymn-
"Repentance is to leave The sin we loved before And show that we in earnest grieve, By doing so no more."
A faith that has no tears in its eyes is a blind faith, for where there is sight there will be weeping. Never did a soul lookto Christ, whom it had pierced, without weeping and mourning because of its sin. Faith and repentance are twins-they are borntogether and they will live together-and as long as a Christian is in this world both will be needed. Rowland Hill used tosay that the only thing that he would be sorry to leave when he went to Heaven was that sweet, lovely, sorrowful Grace ofrepentance-he supposed he could not repent in Heaven, but it was such a sweet experience to keep on repenting that he wouldwish to repent forever if such a thing might be.
II. Now, in the second place, let us notice WHAT TRUTHS GOD USES AS DAGGERS TO PRICK SINNERS IN
I have known some pricked in the heart merely by discovering that the Gospel, the Bible, was really true. They have been skeptical-theyhave perhaps been blasphemers but, all of a sudden, being honestly convinced that the Bible was true, they have been brokendown at once, just as Saul of Tarsus was. He would not have persecuted Christ if he had believed Him to be the Messiah, buthe thought He was an impostor and, therefore, honestly determined to put down His followers. He says concerning himself, "Iobtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." The moment the Lord Jesus called to him out of Heaven, and said,"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?...I am Jesus who you persecute," he was pricked in the heart and soon he became, asmany others have become, just as earnest in the defense of the Truth of God as he had before, in his ignorance, been in oppositionto it!
I have known others pierced in the heart by shame through some particular sin. I will give you an instance in which that wasthe case. A young man has been moral from his youth up. He has had much to thank God for with regard to what he has been.He has never mixed with the wanton or wicked world, yet there is always a danger as well as a benefit in this state of things.This young man becomes self-righteous. He thinks himself a great deal better than others. Perhaps he says that he is a sinnerbecause everybody says that out of a sort of compliment to God, but he does not feel that he has ever done much that was wrongand he wishes that other people were half as good as he thinks that he is! But one day he commits a certain definite sin.I do not know whether the young Brother is here, but he told me of a case ofjust this kind. He said that when he was in theworkshop one day, he upset the oil can and an enquiry was made as to who had been so careless. He was asked-and he said thathe had not done it. And from his usual character everybody believed his denial. "But," he said, "as I went home that night,it came to my mind, 'You are a liar. You are a liar.' I felt so mean," he said to me, "I never felt like that before. I hadalways acted like a man and like a good man, I thought, but now I felt that I had been a liar. When I got up in the morning,I did not like to go among the other men in the workshop. I thought they would all look at me and say, 'You are a liar.' Icould not bear to think of it and a sense that I had lied brought me down on my knees before God."
Now I do not say that I was glad that young man had told a lie, but I did feel thankful that he had discovered what a liarhis heart had been all his life-for his heart had always been saying to him, "You are a good fellow," yet he had not beenso in reality! If there had not been lies in his heart, that lie would not have come out of his mouth. If there were ratsunder that floor, you might not know it was so until one happened to pop his head up through a hole in the boards-yet he onlyshows you what was there all the while! And so, sometimes some one sin has crept up into the light to let a man see what alwayswas secretly in his soul-and that one sin has proved to be, in the hands of God, a sharp sword which has cut right into hisheart and convinced him that he is a sinner in the sight of God.
In a great many other cases, God has used teaching concerning His Law as the means of pricking sinners in the heart A manreads the Ten Commandments and he says, "All these have I kept from my youth up." But he is told, upon Christ's authority,that every Commandment contains within itself a great deal more than appears on the surface, as, for instance, "You shallnot kill," is a Commandment which is broken by anger. "He that hates his brother" so that he wishes that there were no suchperson, is, in heart, the perpetrator of the crime of murder! Then take the Command, "You shall not commit adultery." "Oh,"says one, "I never sinned in that way!" And some excellent woman says, "I could not bear even to think of such a thing!" Yetthere have been unchaste desires, glances, thoughts, imaginations-and the Commandment covers all those. I do not need to gointo the details of each command-it will suffice to sum all up as that "certain lawyer" did. "You shall love the Lord yourGod with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself."Did you ever do that? Has anyone among us come anywhere near to doing that? When the Law of the Lord, in its wide sweep andwondrous compass of all our thoughts
and imaginations and devices comes to be thoroughly understood by us, then it is that God causes us to be pricked by its sharppoint!
I have known some also pricked in the heart when they have discovered that there is to be a judgment about everything thatwe have done-no, more than that-about everything that we have said and everything that we have thought-and that that judgmentwill be most solemn and its sentence most severe. There will be pronounced, from the lips of God, a sentence of condemnationupon the ungodly which will rest upon them forever and ever, so that they shall abide in a living death in which there shallbe no gleam of light or joy, but all shall be a desolation and a ruin, where misery shall lift up its doleful notes foreverproclaiming the Infinite Justice of God. Many have been "pricked in their heart" when they have found that though some preachersmake our sin to be only a trifle, God's Word does not. Man may try to make the penalty of sin seem small, but God's Word doesnot. God's scale of sin and man's scale of sin differ very widely. God regards sin as a vast evil requiring an Infinite Atonement,while some who profess to be His servants treat it as quite an insignificant thing. I pray that the Truth, as revealed inGod's Word, may be applied with power to every unwounded heart here, and that many may be "pricked in their heart," and causedto cry out, as they did after Peter's discourse on the day of Pentecost, "Men and brethren, what must we do?"
On the other hand, a great many have been "pricked in their heart" by a sense of the great goodness of God. They have said,"Has God been so good, so kind, so tender to us and have we never loved Him or sought His Glory?" And they have felt ashamedas they have thought of their base ingratitude. There is one thing I often feel-I do not know whether you feel as I do andI do not know whether I can quite make you see what I mean-I often feel a great pity for God, I feel as if I could weep tearsof blood because God is so shamefully treated by His own creatures. God Himself feels their ingratitude, for He says, "Hear,O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelledagainst Me. The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master's crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider."He feels that it is a hard case that He should be treated thus, and when men feel that it is a hard case, it is a proof thatthey have been "pricked in their heart."
But the chief instrument, I think, that God uses for pricking sinners in their heart is the dying love of Jesus Christ Nothingwounds like the Cross of Christ, just as nothing heals like the Cross. When we discover that out of Infinite love and pity,Jesus came to this earth and took upon Him our sins, our sorrows, our sicknesses and died in our place upon Calvary's Cross,we say, "How can we stand out against One who is so disinterested, so condescending and so kind?" Looking to Him whom we havepierced by our sin, we are made to weep on account of it. Are not your hearts, my fellow Christians, always most tender whenyou get nearest the Cross? I am sure you agree with the poet who wrote-
"My sins, my sins, my Savior,
How sad on You they fall!
Seen through your gentle patience
I tenfold feel them all.
I know they are forgiven,
But still their pain to me
Is all the grief and anguish
They laid, my Lord, on Thee." Yes, a bleeding Savior makes men's hearts bleed. When He is pieced, they also are pierced. Ofone thing I am sure, that nothing ever pierced my heart like the discovery of God's boundless love in giving His well-belovedSon to die for me. I will put it to any man here, even if he is living this day an ungodly life, even if he has plunged intothe very worst and most infamous of sins-if tonight he could know that God had loved him from before the foundation of theworld-that long before the stars began to shine, electing love had pitched on him to be its peculiar object-that Christ diedespecially for him-that for him there was appointed pardon and acceptance. And for him a crown already made in Heaven anda white robe which would fit no one but himself, and a harp which no hand but his could ever play, oh, I think he would loathehimself, and say, "I did not know this, or else I would not have lived as I have lived. I did not know that I was the favoriteof Heaven. I did not know that I was bought with the precious blood of Jesus! I did not know that God had ordained me untoeternal life, else had I long ago fled into my Father's arms and cried, 'I have sinned against Heaven, and before You.'" OSpirit of the living God, make such a Revelation to some of God's elect here now! Wound
thus their hearts and then lead them to the wounded Savior, and let them know that whoever believes in Him was loved of Godbefore time began and shall be loved of God when time shall be no more!
III. Now I want to notice very briefly, in the third place, WHOSE HAND USES THESE SHARP DAGGERS SO THAT SINNERS GET "PRICKEDIN THEIR HEART."
Not Peter's, my Brothers and Sisters, nor mine, nor the hand of any Gospel minister! It must be a more powerful hand thanany of these-even the hand of the Holy Spirit The fact is that He who wrote these Truths in the Bible must Himself write themon men's hearts, or else they will forever remain inoperative except to condemn! There is One who knows all about the humanheart-the Holy Spirit searches the heart and tries the reins of the children of men-and He knows how to apply the Truth ofGod so as to make it quick and powerful, and to drive home to the heart that sword which, because He uses it, is called "thesword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." I pray that He may take the Truth this very moment and use it thus. A swordhanging on the wall does not wound anybody. Our daily prayer ought to be, "O almighty Spirit, gird Your sword upon Your thighand wield it in Your Omnipotent might, that sinners may be 'pricked in their heart,' and so be brought to repentance and salvation!"
One very comforting thought is that He who alone can pierce sinners' hearts, is named "the Comforter." Catch at that, Sinner,catch at that! He who wounds the heart is also the Comforter! He who kills is the Quickener who makes alive! The Spirit whoconvicts is also the Spirit who consoles! He has come to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and ofjudgment, but itis also His office to take of the things of Christ and reveal them unto us. Though one of His hands holds a sharp dagger,the other hand bears the remedy with which to heal the wound, for still is that saying true, "I kill, and I make alive; Iwound, and I heal." Only He who kills can make alive, but blessed be God that the same Divine Spirit is both Wounder and Healer!
Therefore let us, who are the children of God, cry mightily unto the Spirit and entreat Him to make the preaching of the Gospel,here and everywhere else, to be like a sharp sword piercing the hearts of sinners! How many preachers, nowadays, are usinga sword without either edge or point? I recollect hearing a sermon and before it was preached there was a prayer offered thatsouls might be saved by it, yet I could not see how any soul could have been saved by that sermon unless the hearer had misunderstoodwhat the preacher said and then, perhaps, he might have been converted. Yet many people called it "a very fine sermon." Theman had put the sword of the Spirit into a splendid scabbard decorated all the way up with gold and diamonds-and then he wavedit about and prayed the Lord to kill somebody with it! But the Lord could not do it unless He acted directly contrary to Hisusual method of working! He often uses our weakness and our infirmity to glorify Himself, but He cannot do many mighty workswith some instrumentality. Brothers and Sisters, pray to God to send us the Holy Spirit-that is what we need above everythingelse! Pray day and night for this and believe and expect that God will grant your request. If the preacher does not happento be the man you like best to hear, say to yourself, "God can use that man," and then pray, "O Lord, give him Your Holy Spirit!"I remember that Mr. Matthew Wilkes once preached from the text, "You are our Epistle written in our hearts...written not withink, but with the Spirit of the living God." He compared the preacher to a pen and said that some pens needed mending nowand then, and that all pens, however good they were, must be dipped in the ink if they were to do any writing at all. Andhe added, "You ought to pray all the more for your preacher when he does not write well, 'Lord, dip him in the ink! Give himmore of the unction of the Holy Spirit and then his word will have power over the hearts of
IV. Our last enquiry must be, HOW CAN THESE PRICKS IN THE HEART BE HEALED? You had the answer in the first hymn we sang tonight-
"When wounded sore the stricken soul Lies bleeding and unbound. One hand only, a pierced hand, Can salve the sinner's wound.When sorrow swells the laden breast, And tears of anguish flow, One heart only, a broken heart Can feel the sinner's woe."
Is your heart bleeding? Then bring it to the bleeding heart of Jesus, for that will stanch its wound! Does your brow ache?Then put it near that brow which was crowned with thorns and its aching will soon be gone. Are you sorely wounded? Then layyour wounds close to the wounds of Jesus and they shall be healed.
This is the whole story. You are guilty and God must punish sin. He cannot be a just God and yet not exact the penalty forsin. But Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and He has stood as the Substitute for His people, bearing theirsins in His own body up to the tree and on the tree. And there He endured the wrath of God against sin, "being made a cursefor us, for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree." You ask, "Did Christ bear my sins?" Let me ask you-doyou believe in Him? Do you trust Him as your Savior? Will you confide your everlasting destiny into His dear hands? Will youabandon your self-righteousness and will you rest in Jesus alone? Will you take Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to be your soul'sonly confidence? If you can truly say, "Ah, that I will, and glad will I be to have such a Christ to trust in," then I canassure you that He did die for you-and that your sins are pardoned and shall never be mentioned against you any more forever!Go in peace, for you are justified by faith, and you are dear to the heart of God. Remember that glorious declaration, "Thereis therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Goaway singing of Substitution-the richest word in all our language-Christ standing in my place that I may stand in Christ'splace! Christ on the Cross for me, Christ in the grave for me and now I in Heaven where Christ is, for God "has raised usup together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." I at the right hand of God, beloved and honoredbecause Christ has gone there to prepare a place for me that where He is, there I may be also!
Yet, before you go, let me urge you, if you are trusting in Christ, to confess your faith as the converts did on the day ofPentecost-
"Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The trumpet call obey!
Forth to the mighty conflict,
In this, His glorious day!
You that are men, now serve Him,
Against unnumbered foes
Your courage rise with danger
And strength to strength oppose." You who really love the Lord ought to be ashamed to make any difficulty of confessing yourfaith in Him. I remember, when I was a lad of fifteen, resolving that as a Believer in Christ, I ought to join the Churchin the place where I was then living. I asked the deacon about it and he said that I must see the pastor. I remember wellgoing to see him on a Monday and receiving a reply that he could not see me. I called again on Tuesday and Wednesday and gotan answer that he was busy and could not see me. But when I made up my mind to do a thing, even in those days, I meant todo it. So I managed to get to the door of his study and I said to him, "As I have come three times to see you, Sir, and theChurch Meeting is to be held tomorrow evening, I will go to the Church Meeting and propose myself as a member. I mean to beunited to the visible Church of Christ. So if you cannot see me, I will go to the members and ask them to receive me."
When he saw how determined I was, he found time to see me directly, and I was very soon admitted into the Church. Now, youwill not have as much trouble as I had, for you will find many Christians ready to welcome you into our fellowship. It isno trouble at all compared with what Christians found it in the olden times. I think I see, in the early days of Christianity,a good old saint at one of the meetings down in the catacombs, talking with a young man who says to him, "I wish to be a followerof Christ." The old saint says, "I rejoice, Brother, to give you the right hand, but do you know what it means to be a followerof Christ?" "Well," he says, "I think I do." "Come with me," says he, "and we will take a walk to the Coliseum." And in thedead of night, while the moon is shining upon that vast amphitheatre, the old man says to him, "Do you see there tens of thousandsof seats?" "Yes." "Well, if you do become a follower of Christ, it is very likely that everyone of those seats will be filledwith a cruel spectator who will gaze upon you one of these days." "But, Brother, what would happen to me then?" "Come withme," he says, "across this great arena. Do you see those bones? They are the bones of some of the soldiers belonging to thearmy that you wish to join. Now step across to this low arch. Can you hear those growls?" "Yes, Brother, what animals arethose?" "Lions, tigers, and other savage beasts
from Africa and Gaul." "Why are they there, Brother?" "To tear the Christians limb from limb when they shall be placed inthe middle of that amphitheatre. If you are with them, there will be tens of thousands looking down upon you, eager for yourdeath, and not one of them will pity you. Are you prepared to follow Christ here?" I think I can hear the young Christianhero, when he thoroughly appreciates the risk, saying, "It will be hard for flesh and blood to die like that, yet, by theGrace of God, I will never bow before an idol. My hope is fixed on Jesus Christ who bled and died for me. Brother, put myname down! Introduce me to the pastor of the Church and let me be immersed into Christ, for His I am, and if I am called todie here, by His Spirit's help I will not draw back! I will face the lions and die the martyr's death, that I may wear themartyr's crown."
You young men and young women who have lately been converted here, are not called to such a death as that. Will you shrinkfrom the little trials and petty persecutions of the present time? Are you afraid of someone who will point the finger ofscorn at you and say, "There goes a Christian"? Then, what poor stuff you must be made of and how little of the Spirit ofGod can be in you! You have grave need to question whether you have been born-again, for if you are, indeed, the Lord's own-ifHe has bought you with His blood-you will come forward and say, "His I am, and I am not ashamed to admit it! No, but I evenglory in it."
The Lord bless you, dear Friends! If you have been wounded in heart, may He heal you! And if you never have been thus wounded,may there be such a wound produced in your heart right speedily that only the pierced hand of Christ shall be able to salve-andto Him shall be the Glory forever and ever! Amen.