Sermon 31. The Desire of the Soul in Spiritual Darkness
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, June 24, 1855, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
"With my soul have I desired thee in the night."-Isaiah 26:9.
NIGHT APPEARS to be a time peculiarly favorable to devotion. Its solemn stillness helps to free the mind from that perpetualdin which the cares of the world will bring around it; and the stars looking down from heaven upon us shine as if they wouldattract us up to God. I know not how you may be affected by the solemnities of midnight, but when I have sat alone musingon the great God and the mighty universe, I have felt that indeed I could worship him; for night seemedto be spread abroad as a very temple for adoration, while the moon walked as high priest, amid the stars, the worshippers,and I myself joined in that silent song which they sang unto God: "Great art thou, O God! great in thy works. When I considerthy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindfulof him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" I find that this sense of the power of midnight not only acts uponreligious men, but there is a certain poet, whose character, perhaps, I could scarcely too much reprobate: a man veryfar from understanding true religion; one whom I may, I suppose, justly style an infidel a libertine of the worst order, andyet he says concerning night in one of his poems:-
"Tis midnight on the mountains' brown,
The cold round moon shines deeply down;
Blue roll the waters, blue the sky
Spreads like an ocean hung on high,
Bespangled with those isles of light,
So wildly, spiritually bright;
Who ever gazed upon them shining,
And turning to earth without repining,
Nor wish'd for wings to flee away,
And mix with their eternal ray."
Even with the most irreligious person, a man farthest from spiritual thought, it seems that there is some power in the grandeurand stillness of night to draw him up to God. I trust many of us can say, like David, "I have thought upon thee continually,I have mused upon thy name in the night watches, and with desire have I desired thee in the night." But I leave that thoughtaltogether. I shall not speak of night natural at all, although there may be a great deal of roomfor poetic thought and expression. I shall address myself to two orders of persons, and shall endeavor to show what Iconceive to be the meaning of the text. May God make it useful to you both. First, I shall speak to confirmed Christians; and from this text I shall bring one or two remarks to bear upon their case, if they are in darkness. Second, I shall speakto newly awakened souls, and try if I can find some of them who can say, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night."
I. I am about to address this text to the more confirmed believer; and the first fact I shall educe from it-the truth of whichI am sure he will very readily admit-is, that THE CHRISTIAN MAN HAS NOT ALWAYS A BRIGHT SHINING SUN: that he has seasons of darkness and of night. True, it is written in God's word, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;" and it is a great truththat religion-the true religion of the living God-is calculatedto give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But, notwithstanding, experience tells us that if the course ofthe just be "as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds and darkness cover the sun, and he beholds no clear shining of the daylight,but walks in darkness and sees no light. Now there are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they havebasked in the sunshineGod has been pleased to give them in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the "green pastures,"by the side of the "still waters," and suddenly-in a month or two-they find that glorious sky is clouded: instead of "greenpastures," they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of "still waters," they find streams brackish to their tasteand bitter to their spirits, and they say, "Surely, if I were a child of God this would not happen." Oh! say not so, thouwho art walking in darkness. The best of God's saints have their nights; the dearest of his children have to walk througha weary wilderness. There is not a Christian who has enjoyed perpetual happiness, there is no believer who can always singa song of joy. It is not every lark that can always carol. It is not every star that can always be seen. And not every Christianis always happy. Perhaps the King of Saints gave you a season of great joy at first because you were a raw recruit and hewould not put you into the roughest part of the battle when you had first enlisted. You were a tender plant, and he nursedyou in the hot-house till you could stand severe weather. You were a young child, and therefore he wrapped you in furs andclothed you in the softest mantle. But now you have become strong and the case is different. Capuan holidays do not suit Romansoldiers; and they would not agree with Christians. We need clouds and darkness to exercise our faith, to cut off selfdependence, and make us put more faith in Christ, and less in evidence, less in experience, less in frames and feelings.The best of God's children-I repeat it again for the comfort of those who are suffering depression of spirits-have their nights.Sometimes it is a night over the whole church at once; and I fear we have very much of that night now. There are times whenZion is under a cloud, when the whole fine gold becomes dim, and the glory of Zion is departed. There are seasons when wedo not hear the clear preaching of the word; when the doctrines are withheld; when the glory of the Lord God of Jacobis dim; when his name is not exalted; when the traditions of men are taught, instead of the inspirations of the Holy Ghost.And such a season is that when the whole church is dark. Of course each Christian participates in it. He goes about and weeps,and cries, "O God, how long shall poor Zion be depressed? How long shall her shepherds be 'dumb dogs that cannot bark?' Shallherwatchmen be always blind? Shall the silver trumpet sound no more? Shall not the voice of the gospel be heard in her streets?"O! there are seasons of darkness to the entire church! God grant we may not have to pass through another! but that, startingfrom this period, the sun may rise ne'er to set, till, like a sea of glory, the light of brilliance shall spread from poleto pole!
At other times, this darkness over the soul of the Christian rises from temporal distresses. He may have had a misfortune as it is called-something has gone wrong in his business, or an enemy has done somewhat againsthim; death has struck down a favourite child-bereavement has snatched away the darling of his bosom, the crops are blighted;the winds refuse to bear his ships homeward; a vessel strikes upon a rock, another founders, all goes ill with him, and,like a gentle man who called to see me this week, he may be able to say, "Sir, I prospered far more when I was a worldlyman than I have done since I have become a Christian: for, since then, everything has appeared to go wrong with me. I thought,"be said, "that religion had the promise of this life as well as of that which is to come." I told him, Yes, it had; and soit should be in the end. But he must remember there was one great legacy which Christ left his people; and I was glad he hadcome in for a share of it-"In the world ye shall have tribulation; in me ye shall have peace." Yes! you may be troubledabout this, you may be saying, "Look at so-and-so: see how he spreads himself like a green bay-tree. He is an extortionerand wicked man, yet everything he does prospers. You may even observe his death, and say, there are no bands in his death."They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men." Ah! beloved! ye are come into the sanctuaryof Godthis morning, and now shall ye understand their end. God hath set them in slippery places, but he casteth them down todestruction. Better to have a Christian's days of sorrow, than a worldling's days of mirth. Better to have a Christian's sorrowsthan a worldling's joys. Ah! happier to be chained in a dungeon with a Paul than reign in the palace with an Ahab. Betterto be a child of God in poverty than a child of Satan in riches. Cheer up, then, thou downcast spirit, if this be thy trial.Remember that many saints have passed through the same; and the best and most eminent believers have had their nights.
"But oh!" says another, "you have not described my night, sir. I have not much amiss in business; and I would not care ifI had-but I have a night in my spirit." "O sir," says one, "I have not a single evidence of my Christianity now. I was a childof God, I know; but something tells me that I am none of his now. There was a season when I flattered myself that I knew somethingabout godliness and God; but now I doubt whether I have any part or lot in the matter. Satansuggests that I must dwell in endless flames. I see no hope for me. I am afraid I am an hypocrite. I think I have imposedon the church and upon myself also. I fear I am none of his. When I turn over God's Scriptures there is no promise; when Ilook within, corruption is black before me. Then while others are commending me, I am accusing myself of all manner of sinand corruption. I could not have thought that I was half so bad. I am afraid there cannot have been a work of grace in myheart, orelse I should not have so many corrupt imaginations, filthy desires, hard thoughts of God; so much pride, so much selfishnessand self-will. I am afraid I am none of his." Now, that is the very reason why you are one of his, that you are able to saythat: for God's people pass through the night. They have their nights of sorrow. I love to hear a man talk like that. I wouldnot have him do so always. He ought at times to enter into "the liberty where with Christ hath made him free." But I knowthat frequently bondage will get hold of the spirit, But you say, "Surely no one ever suffers like that." I confess Ido myself constantly, and very often there are times when I could not prove my election in Jesus Christ, nor my adoption,though I rejoice that for the most part I can cry,-
"A debtor to mercy alone
Of covenant mercy I sing."
Yet at other seasons I am sure the meanest lamb in Jesu's fold I reckon ten thousand times more in advance than myself andif I might but sit down on the meanest bench in the kingdom of heaven, and did but know I was in, I would barter everythingI had, and I do not believe there ever existed a Christian yet, who did not now and then doubt his interest in Jesus. I think,when a man says, "I never doubt," it is quite time for us to doubt him, it is quite time for us tobegin to say, "Ah, poor soul, I am afraid you are not on the road at all, for if you were, you would see so many thingsin yourself, and so much glory in Christ more than you deserve, that you would be so much ashamed of yourself, as even tosay, 'It is too good to be true.'"
2. The first part then is fully established by experience, that Christian men very frequently have their nights. But the secondthing here is that a Christian man's religion will keep its colour in the night. "With my soul have I desired thee in the night." What a mighty deal of silver-slipper religion we have in this world. Menwill follow Christ when every one cries "Hosanna! Hosanna!" The multitude will crowd around the man then, and they will takehim by forceand make him a king when the sun shines, when the soft wind blows. They are like the plants upon the rock, which sprangup and for a little while were green, but when the sun had risen with fervent heat straightway withered away. Demas and Mr.Hold-the-world, and a great many others, are very pious people in easy times. They will always go with Christ by daylight,and will keep in company so long as fashion gives religion the doubtful benefit of its patronage. But they will not go withhim inthe night. There are some goods whose colour you can only see by daylight-and there are many professors the colour ofwhom you can only see by daylight. If they were in the night of trouble and persecution you would find that there was verylittle in them. They are good by daylight but they are bad by night. But, beloved, do you not know that the best test of aChristian is the night? The nightingale, if she would sing by day when every goose is cackling, would be reckoned no betteramusician than the wren. A Christian if he only remained steadfast by daylight, when every coward is bold, what would hebe? There would be no beauty in his courage, no glory in his bravery. But it is because he can sing at night-sing in trouble-singwhen he is driven well nigh to despair; it is this which proves his sincerity. It has its glory in the night. The stars arenot visible by daylight, but they become apparent when the sun is set. There is full many a Christian whose piety did notburn much when he was in prosperity; but it will be known in adversity. I have marked it in some of my brethren now present,when they were in deep trial not long ago. I had not heard them discourse much about Christ before, but when God's hand hadrobbed them of their comfort, I remember that I could discern their religion infinitely better than I could before. Nothingcan bring our religion out better than that. Grind the diamond a little and you shall see it glisten. Do but put a troubleonthe Christian, and his endurance of it will prove him to be of the true seed of Israel.
3. A third remark from this to the confirmed Christian is, all that the Christian wants in the night is his God. "With desire have I desired thee in the night." By day there are many things that a Christian will desire besides his Lord; but in the night he wants nothingbut his God. I cannot understand how it is unless it is to be accounted for by the corruption of our spirit, that when everythinggoes well with us we are setting our affection first onthis object and-then on another, and then on another; and that desire which is as insatiable as death and as deep as hellnever rests satisfied. We are always wanting something, always desiring a yet beyond. But if you place a Christian in troubleyou will find that he does not want gold then-that he does not want carnal honour-then he wants his God. I suppose he is likethe sailor, when he sails along smoothly he loves to have fair weather, and wants this and that to amuse himself withon deck. But when the winds blow all that he wants is the haven. He does not desire anything else. The biscuit may bemouldy, but he does not care. The water may be brackish, but he does not care. He does not think of it in the storm. He onlythinks about the haven then. It is just so with the Christian, when he is going along smoothly he wants this and that comfort;he is aspiring after this position, or is wanting to obtain this and that elevation. But let him once doubt his interest inChrist-let him once get into some soul-distress and trouble, so that it is very dark-and all he will feel then is, "Withdesire have I desired thee in the night." When the child is put upstairs to bed it may lie while the light is there, and lookat the trees that shake against the window, and admire the stars that are coming out; but when it gets dark and the childis still awake it cries for its parent. It cannot be amused by aught else. So in daylight will the Christian look atanything. He will cast his eyes round on this pleasure and on that! but, when the darkness gathers, it is "My God! myGod! why hast thou forsaken me?" "O why art thou so far from me and from the word of my roaring?" Then it is,
"Give me Christ or else I die;
These can never satisfy."
4. But now one more remark before I leave my address to confirmed saints. There are times when all the saints can do is to desire. We have a vast number of evidences of piety: some are practical, some are experimental, some are doctrinal; and the moreevidences a man has of his piety the better, of course. We like a number of signatures, to make a deed more valid, if possible.We like to invest property in a great number of trustees, in order that it may be all thesafer, and so we love to have many evidences. Many witnesses will carry our case at the bar better than a few: and soit is well to have many witnesses to testify to our piety. But there are seasons when a Christian cannot get any. He can getscarcely one witness to come and attest his godliness. He asks for good works to come and speak him. But there will be sucha cloud of darkness about him, and his good works will appear so black that he will not dare to think of their evidences.He willsay, "True, I hope this is the right fruit, I hope I have served God but I dare not plead these works as evidences." Hewill have lost assurance and with it his enjoyment of communion with God. "I have had that fellowship with him," perhaps hewill say, and he will summon that communion to come and be an evidence. But he has forgotten it, and it does not come, andSatan whispers it is a fancy, and the poor evidence of communion has its mouth gagged, so that it cannot speak. But thereis onewitness that very seldom is gagged, and one that I trust the people of God can always apply, even in the night; and thatis, "I have desired thee I have desired thee in the night." "Yes, Lord, if I have not believed in thee, I have desired thee; and if I have not spent and been spent in thy service, yet one thing I know, and the devil cannot beat me out of it,I have desired thee-that I do know-and I have desired thee in the night, too, when no one saw me, when troubleswere round about me."
Now, my beloved, I hope there are many of you here this morning who are strong in faith. You do not, perhaps, want what Ihave said; but I will advise you to take this cordial, and if you do not want to drink it now, put it up in a small phial,and carry it about with you till you do; you do not know how long it may before you are faint. And as Mr. Greatheart gaveChristiana a bottle of wine to take with her that she might drink when she was fatigued, so you take this, anddo not laugh at a poor despised believer because he is not so strong as yourself. You may want this yourself some day.I tell you there are times when a Christian will be ready to creep into a mousehole if he might but get into heaven; whenhe would be glad to throw anything away to get into the smallest crevice to escape from his fears; when the meanest evidenceseems more precious than gold; when the very least ray of sunlight is worth all the riches of Peru; and when a doit of comfortismore sweet than a whole heaven of it may have been at other seasons. You may be brought into the same condition, so takethis passage with you and have it ready-have it ready to plead at the throne: "With desire have I desired thee in the night."
II. The second part of my sermon is to be occupied by speaking to NEWLY AWAKENED SOULS; and as I have made four remarks toconfirmed Christians, I will now endeavor to answer three questions to those who are newly awakened.
The first question they would ask me is this. How am I to know that my desires are proofs of a work of grace in my soul? Some of you may say, I think I can go so far as the text-I have desired God; I know I have desired to be saved. I have desiredto have an interest in the blood of Jesus, but how am I to know that it is a desire sent of God, and how can I tell whetherit will end in conversion? Hear me, then, while I offer one or two tests.
1. First, you may tell whether your desires are of God by their constancy. Many a man when he hears a stirring sermon, has a very strong desire to be saved; but he goes home and forgets it. He isas a man who seeth his face in a glass, goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he is. He returns again:once more the arrow sticks hard in the heart of the King's enemy; he goes home, only to extract the arrow, and his goodnessis as the morning cloud;and as the early dew it passeth away. Has it been so with you? Have you had such a desire? Will to-morrow's business takeit away? Are you wanting Christ to-day? and will ye despise him to-morrow? Then I am afraid your desires are not of God; theyare merely the desires of a naturally awakened conscience, just the stirrings of mere nature, and they will go as far as naturecan go, and no farther. But if your desires are constant ones take comfort. How long have they lasted? Have you beendesiring Christ this last month or these last three or four months? Have you been seeking him in prayer for a long season?And do you find that you are anxious after Christ on the Monday as well as on the Sunday? Do you desire him in the shop whenthe intervals of business allow you to do so? Do you seek him in the night-in the solemn loneliness, when no ministers voicebreaks on your ear, when no truth is smiting your conscience? Is it but the hectic flush of the consumption that has comeupon your cheek? which is not the mark of health. Or is it the real heat of a true desire, which marks a healthy soul?Are you desiring God constantly? I admit there will be variations even to our more sincere desires, but a certain measureof constancy is essential to their real value as evidences of a divine work.
2. Again: you may discern whether they are right or wrong by their efficacy. Some persons desire heaven very earnestly, but they do not desire to leave off drunkenness: they desire to be saved, butthey do not desire salvation enough to shut their shops up on Sunday morning; or to bridle their tongues, and leave off speakingill of their neighbors. They desire salvation; but they do not desire it enough to come sometimes on the week-day to hearthe gospel. You maytell the truthfulness of your desires by their efficacy. If your desires lead you into real "works meet for repentance,"then they come from God. Wishes, you know, are nought unless they are carried out. "Many; say unto you, shall seek to enterin, but shall not be able" "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Seeking will not do; there must be striving. Our prophethere informs us, that whilst he desired God in the night, that desire was very efficacious. For, in the 18th verse, he declares,"In the way of thy judgments, O Lord, we have waited for thee." This desire made me wait for thy judgments. How many doI hear say I am waiting for God, it is all I do: there I lie at the pool of Bothesda, and one of these days an angel willcome and stir the pool. Stop! How do you know you are not deceiving yourself? There is a friend waiting for me to tea: I willstep into the room. There is no kettle on the fire: there is not a bit for me to eat. "Sir, we have been waiting for you."Butthere is nothing ready in the house! I do not believe them; they could not have been waiting for me, or else they wouldhave been ready. And waiting for God always implies being ready. Says a man, "I am waiting for God." But he is not ready forGod at all: he still keeps on his drunkenness, the house is still unswept; he is as worldly as ever. He is waiting. Yes, butwaiting implies being ready; and nobody is waiting that is not ready, You are not waiting for the coach until you have yourcoatand hat on ready to start, and are looking out at the door for it; and you are not waiting for God, until you are readyto go with God. No man ought to say, I am waiting for God. No, beloved, it is God who is waiting for us generally, ratherthan any of us waiting for him. No sinner can be beforehand with him. But the prophet waited "in the way of God's judgments:"that is, waited in the right place-waited in the house of God-waited under the sound of the gospel. And then this desire ledhim to seek. "With my spirit within me will I seek thee." It led him to seek after God. Oh! the poor pitiful desires ofsome of you are very little good. An old writer says, "Hell is paved with good intentions." I was not aware that there wasany pavement at all-because it has no bottom, but at the same time I believe that the sides of the pit are hung round withgood intentions; and men will feel themselves pricked and goaded from side to side with good designs that they once formedbutnever carried out-children that were strangled at the birth-desires that never were brought into living acts-desires thatsprang up like the mushroom in the night, and like the fungus were swept away-like smoke from the chimney, that stopped assoon as the fire had gone out. Oh! brethren, if these are your desires, they are not practical, they do not come of God. Butif your desires have made you give up your drunkenness-have compelled you to renounce your theatre-going-haveconstrained you to seek God with full purpose of heart-have brought you to give up one lust and another-take comfort,you are in the right road, if your desires are practical desires.
3. Again: you can tell these desires by their urgency. Ah! you want to be saved some of you, but it must be this day next week. But when the Holy Ghost speaks, he says, "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." It must be now or never. "To-day give me grace; to-day give me mercy;to-day give me pardon." Some of you hope to be saved before you die, before the pit closes on you; you hope Jesus Christ willlook down upon you in some years tocome. You have not set down how many years, I suppose; but it is always in the distant hazy future. But the true desireis now. Does the poor man who stands upon the scaffold with a rope round his neck say, "Pardon me in a year's time?" No, he is afraidhe shall the next minute be launched into eternity. He who feels his danger will cry, "Now!" He who wants Christ really, willcry, "Now!" He who is spiritually awakened will cry out, "Now or never!" What! sinner, will it do to postponesalvation? Doth thine heart tell thee it will do by-and-bye? What! when the fire is just coming through the boards ofthy little chamber? What! when thy ship has struck upon the rock, and is filling? Yes, she is filling, while the fire at theother end is rushing up; and fire and water together are seeking thy destruction. Wilt thou say, "To-morrow?" Why, thou mayestbe dead ere to-morrow's sun has risen. To-morrow! where is it? In the devil's calendar, it is not written in any book on earth.To-morrow! It is some fancied islet in the far-off sea that the mariner has never reached. To-morrow! It is the fool'sdesire: which he never shall gain. Like a will-o'-the wisp it dances before him, but only lands him in the marshes of distress.To-morrow! There is no such thing. It is God's. If there is such a day, ours it cannot be. Tillotson well remarks:-"To bealways intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it; this is as if a man should put off eating anddrinking, and sleeping, from one day and night to another, till he is starved and destroyed"
But you say, "If I have desired God, why have I not obtained my desire before now? Why has not God granted my request?"
In the first place, you have hardly a right to ash the question; for God has a right to grant your petition or not as he pleases; and far be it from man to say to God "What doest thou?"He is a sovereign, and has power to do what he will. But since thine anxiety has dictated the question, let my anxiety attemptto answer it. Perhaps God has not granted thy desire, because he wishes thine own profit thereby. He designs to show theemore of the desperate wickedness ofthine heart, that in future thou mayest fear to trust it. He wants thee to see more of the blackness of darkness and ofthe horrible pit of sin, that like a burnt child thou mayest shun the fire for ever. He lets thee go down into the dungeon,that thou mayest prize liberty the better when it comes. And he is keeping thee waiting, moreover, that thy longings may bequickened. He knows that delay will fan the desire, and that if he keeps you waiting it will not be a loss to you, but willgainyou much, because you will see your necessity more clearly, seek him more earnestly, cry more bitterly and your heartwill be more in earnest after him. Besides, poor soul, God keeps thee waiting, perhaps in order that he may display the richesof his grace more fully to thee at the last. I believe that some of us who were kept by God a long while before we found him,loved him better perhaps than we should have done if we had received him directly, and we can preach better to others, wecanspeak more of his loving kindness and tender mercy. John Bunyan could not have written as he did if he had not been draggedabout by the devil for many years. Ah! I love that picture of dear old Christian. I know when I first read that book, andsaw the old woodcut in it of Christian carrying the burden on his back, I felt so interested for the poor fellow, that I thoughtI should jump with joy when, after the poor creature had carried his burden so long, he at last got rid of it. Ah! beloved;and God may make you and me carry the burden for a long time till he takes it off that we may leap all the higher withjoy when we do get deliverance; for depend upon it, there is no poor penitent who loves mercy so well as he who has been ferryingfor it for a season. Perhaps that is the reason why God keeps you waiting.
One more thought here. Perhaps it has come already. I think some of you are pardoned and you do not know it. I think some of you are forgiven; though you are expecting somethingwonderful as a sign which you will never receive. Persons have got the strangest notions in the world about conversion. Ihave heard persons tell the queerest tales you could imagine about how they were converted; though of course I did not believethem. And I fancy some of you think youwill have a kind of electric shock-that a sort of galvanism, or something or other, will pass through you, such as younever had before. Do not be expecting any miracles now. If you will not think you are pardoned till you get a vision, youwill have to wait many a year. Some people fancy they are not pardoned because they have never heard a voice in their ears.I should be very sorry to have my salvation dependent on a text of Scripture applied to my heart; I should be afraid thatthe devilhad applied it, or that it was the wind whistling behind me. I want something more sure than that. But perhaps you areforgiven, and you do not yet know it. God has spoken the tidings of mercy to your spirit, and you have not yet heard it, becauseyou are saying, "It cannot be that." If you could but sit down and think of this:-"This is a faithful saying, and worthy ofall acceptation, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief," methinks you would find that after allyou are not excluded. There is no great need for any of these miraculous things that you are reckoning upon. God may havegiven them to some of his people, but he has never promised them. Perhaps, then, the question may be answered by saying, "Thepardon is there, but you do not know it." Oh! may God speak loudly in your soul, that you may know really and certainly thathe has forgiven you!
But there is one more serious enquiry: and it is, "Will God grant my desire at last?" Yes, poor soul, verily he will. It is quite impossible that you should have desired God and should be lost, if you have desiredhim with the desire I have described. For I will suppose that you should go down into the chambers of the lost with the desirestill in your spirit: when you entered within the gates you would have to say, "I desired mercy of God, and he would not giveitme: I sought grace at the hands of Jesus, and he would not give it." You know what would be said at once. Satan wouldbe so pleased. "Ah!" he would say, "here is a sinner that perished praying: God has not kept his promise, he said, 'Whosoevercalls on the name of the Lord shall be saved:' "and here is one that did it, and he is lost!" Ah! how they would howl forjoy in hell! They would sing a blasphemous song against the Almighty God-that one poor desiring soul should be there! I tellyouone thing: I have heard many wicked things in my life-I have heard many men swear and blaspheme God, till I have trembled,but there is one thing I never did hear a man say yet, and I think God would scarcely permit any man to perpetrate such alie, I never heard even a drunken man say, "I sincerely sought God with full purpose of heart, and yet he has not heard me,and will not answer me, but has cast me away." I scarcely think it possible, although I know that men can be infinitely wicked,that any man could utter such an abominable falsehood as that. At any rate, I can say I never heard it; and I believethere are some of you who can say, "I have been young and now am old, yet have I never seen one penitent sinner who couldsay, in despair, I am not saved. I have sought God and he will not hear me, he has cast me away from his face and will notgive me mercy;" and, I think, as long as you live you will not meet a case. Then why should you be the first? Why, poor penitent,shouldst thou be the first? Dost thou think thou art a chosen mark for all the arrows of the Almighty? Hath he set theefor a butt against which he will direct all the thunderbolts of his vengeance? Art thou to be the first instance in whichmercy fails? Art thou to be the one who shall first out-do the infinity of love? Oh! say not so. Despair is mad; but for oneinstant gather up thy reason thou despairing one. Would God wish to see thee damned? Hath he not said, "As I live, saith theLord, Ihave no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but would rather that he should turn to me and live." Do you think itwould be a pleasure to the Almighty to have your blood? Oh! far be it from you to conceive it. Do you not think that he lovesto pardon? Hath he not said himself he delighteth in mercy? And is it not written, "As the heavens are higher than the earthso are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." What advantage would it be to God to destroy yoursouls? Would it not be more to his honour to save you? Ah, assuredly; because you would sing his praise in heaven, wouldyou not? Yes, but recollect, the best argument I can use with you is this: Do you suppose that God would give his Son to diefor sinners, and yet would not save sinners? It is written in the Scriptures, that "Jesus Christ came into the world to savesinners," and you are a sinner; you feel that you are a sinner; you know it. Then he came to save you? Only believe that.As apoor penitent you have a right to believe it. If you were a Pharisee you would not have that right; but as a penitent,humble, contrite soul, you have a right to believe in Jesus. The Pharisee has none for it is never written that he came tosave the righteous; and if he believed he did he would believe a lie; but every man who is a sinner, every man who lays claimto that title, has a right also to believe that Christ died for him; and not only so but it is the truth. He came into theworldfor a certain purpose and what he came for he will do. He came into the world to save sinners, and now it is written "Whosoeverbelieveth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." When, last Friday, I had the honourof preaching to many thousand persons in the open air, such an assembly as I never dreamed of seeing and such a vast numberas I could scarcely have fancied would have met for any religious purpose, I noticed a most singularly powerful echo,constantly taking up the last words of my sentences and sending them back, as if some great giant voice had spoken toconfirm what I had said. When I had repeated the words, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," echo said, "Saved!"and when I proceeded, "He that believeth not shall be damned," I heard the echo gently say "Damned!" Methinks this morningI hear that echo: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" and the saints above cry, "Saved!" Hark! how they singbefore the throne! Hark! how your glorified parents and your immortalized relatives, cry, "Saved!" Hear ye not the echo,as it echoes from the blue sky of heavens-"Saved!" And, oh! doleful thought, when I utter those words, "He that believethnot shall be damned," there comes up that dread word-"Damned!" from the place where there are "hollow groans, and sullen moans,and shrieks of tortured ghosts." God grant that you may never know what it is to be damned! God give you to believe now;for, "to-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."