Sermon 39. Heaven and Hell
Delivered on Tuesday Evening, September 4, 1855, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
In a field, King Edward's Road, Hackney.
"And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, inthe kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashingof teeth."-Matthew 8:11-12.
This is a land where plain speaking is allowed, and where the people are willing to afford a fair hearing to any one who cantell them that which is worth their attention. To-night I am quite certain of an attentive audience, for I know you too wellto suppose otherwise. This field, as you are all aware, is private property; and I would just give a suggestion to those whogo out in the open air to preach-that it is far better to get into a field, or a plot of unoccupiedbuilding-ground, than to block up the roads and stop business; it is moreover, far better to be somewhat under protection,so that we can at once prevent disturbance.
To-night, I shall, I hope, encourage you to seek the road to heaven. I shall also have to utter some very sharp things concerningthe end of the lost in the pit of hell. Upon both these subjects I will try and speak, as God helps me. But, I beseech you,as you love your souls, weigh right and wrong this night; see whether what I say be the truth of God. If it be not, rejectit utterly, and cast it away; but if it is, at your peril disregard it; for, as you shall answerbefore God, the great Judge of heaven and earth, it will go ill with you if the words of his servant and of his Scripturebe despised.
My text has two parts. The first is very agreeable to my mind, and gives me pleasure; the second is terrible in the extreme;but, since they are both the truth, they must be preached. The first part of my text is, "I say unto you, that many shallcome from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." The sentencewhich I call the black, dark, and threatening part is this: "But the children of the kingdom shall be castout into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I. Let us take the first part. Here is a most glorious promise. I will read it again: "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, inthe kingdom of heaven." I like that text, because it tells me what heaven is, and gives me a beautiful picture of it. It says,it is a place where I shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. O what a sweet thought that is for the working man!He often wipes the hot sweat fromhis face, and he wonders whether there is a land where he shall have to toil no longer. He scarcely ever eats a mouthfulof bread that is not moistened with the sweat of his brow. Often he comes home weary, and flings himself upon his couch, perhapstoo tired to sleep. He says, "Oh! is there no land where I can rest? Is there no place where I can sit, and for once let theseweary limbs be still? Is there no land where I can be quiet? Yes, thou son of toil and labor,
"There is a happy land
Far, far away-"
where toil and labor are unknown. Beyond yon blue welkin there is a city fair and bright, its walls are jasper, and its lightis brighter than the sun. There "the weary are at rest, and the wicked cease from troubling." Immortal spirits are yonder,who never wipe sweat from their brow, for "they sow not, neither do they reap;" they have not to toil and labor.
"There, on a green and flowery mount,
Their weary souls shall sit;
And with transporting joys recount
The labors of their feet."
To my mind, one of the best views of heaven is, that it is a land of rest-especially to the working man. Those who have not to work hard, think they will love heaven as a place of service. That isvery true. But to the working man, to the man who toils with his brain or with his hands, it must ever be a sweet thoughtthat there is a land where we shall rest. Soon, this voice will never be strained again; soon, these lungs will never haveto exert themselves beyondtheir power; soon, this brain shall not be racked for thought; but I shall sit at the banquet-table of God; yea, I shallrecline on the bosom of Abraham, and be at ease for ever. Oh! weary sons and daughters of Adam, you will not have to drivethe ploughshare into the unthankful soil in heaven, you will not need to rise to daily toils before the sun hath risen, andlabor still when the sun hath long ago gone to his rest; but ye shall be still, ye shall be quiet, ye shall rest yourselves,forall are rich in heaven, all are happy there, all are peaceful. Toil, trouble, travail, and labor, are words that cannotbe spelled in heaven; they have no such things there, for they always rest.
And mark the good company they sit with. They are to "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." Some people think that in heaven we shall know nobody. But ourtext declares here, that we "shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." Then I am sure that we shall be aware thatthey are Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. I have heard of a good woman, who asked her husband, when she was dying, "My dear,do you think you will know me when you and I get to heaven?""Shall I know you?" he said, "why, I have always known you while I have been here, and do you think I shall be a greaterfool when I get to heaven?" I think it was a very good answer. If we have known one another here, we shall know one anotherthere. I have dear departed friends up there, and it is always a sweet thought to me, that when I shall put my foot, as Ihope I may, upon the threshold of heaven, there will come my sisters and brothers to clasp me by the hand and say, "Yes, thoulovedone, and thou art here." Dear relatives that have been separated, you will meet again in heaven. One of you has lost amother-she is gone above; and if you follow the track of Jesus, you shall meet her there. Methinks I see yet another comingto meet you at the door of Paradise; and though the ties of natural affection may be in a measure forgotten,-I may be allowedto use a figure-how blessed would she be as she turned to God, and said, "Here am I, and the children that thou hast givenme." We shall recognize our friends:-husband, you will know your wife again. Mother, you will know those dear babes ofyours-you marked their features when they lay panting and gasping for breath. You know how ye hung over their graves whenthe cold sod was sprinkled over them, and it was said, "Earth to earth. Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes." But ye shall hearthose loved voices again: ye shall hear those sweet voices once more; ye shall yet know that those whom ye loved have beenlovedby God. Would not that be a dreary heaven for us to inhabit, where we should be alike unknowing and unknown? I would notcare to go to such a heaven as that. I believe that heaven is a fellowship of the saints, and that we shall know one anotherthere. I have often thought I should love to see Isaiah; and, as soon as I get to heaven, methinks, I would ask for him, becausehe spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest. I am sure I should want to find out good George Whitefield-he who socontinually preached to the people, and wore himself out with a more than seraphic zeal. O yes! We shall have choice companyin heaven when we get there. There will be no distinction of learned and unlearned, clergy and laity, but we shall walk freelyone among another; we shall feel that we are brethren; we shall "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob." I have heardof a lady who was visited by a minister on her deathbed, and she said to him, "I want to ask you one question, now I amabout to die." "Well," said the minister, "what is it?" "Oh!" said she, in a very affected way, "I want to know if thereare two places in heaven, because I could not bear that Betsy in the kitchen should be in heaven along with me, she is sounrefined?" The minister turned round and said, "O! don't trouble yourself about that, madam. There is no fear of that; for,until you get rid of you accursed pride, you will never enter heaven at all." We must all get rid of our pride. We must comedownand stand on an equality in the sight of God, and see in every man a brother, before we can hope to be found in glory.Aye, we bless God, we thank him that there will be no separate table for one and for another. The Jew and the Gentile willsit down together. The great and the small shall feed in the same pasture, and we shall "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac,and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."
But my text hath a yet greater depth of sweetness, for it says, that "many shall come and shall sit down." Some narrow-minded bigots think that heaven will be a very small place, where there willbe a very few people, who went to their chapel or their church. I confess, I have no wish for a very small heaven, and loveto read in the Scriptures that there are many mansions in my Father's house. How often do I hear people say, "Ah! straightis the gate and narrow isthe way, and few there be that find it. There will be very few in heaven; there will be most lost." My friend, I differfrom you. Do you think that Christ will let the devil beat him? That he will let the devil have more in hell than there willbe in heaven? No; it is impossible. For then Satan would laugh at Christ. There will be more in heaven than there are amongthe lost. God says, that "there will be a number that no man can number who will be saved;" but he never says, that therewill bea number that no man can number that will be lost. There will be a host beyond all count who will get into heaven. Whatglad tidings for you and for me! For, if there are so many to be saved, why should not I be saved? Why should not you? Whyshould not yon man, over there in the crowd, say, "cannot I be one among the multitude?" And may not that poor woman theretake heart, and say, "Well, if there were but half-a-dozen saved, I might fear that I should not be one; but, since many areto come,why should not I also be saved?" Cheer up, disconsolate! Cheer up, son of mourning, child of sorrow, there is hope forthee still! I can never know that any man is past God's grace. There be a few that have sinned that sin that is unto death,and God gives them up; but the vast host of mankind are yet within the reach of sovereign mercy-"and many of them shall comefrom the east and from the west, and shall sit down in the kingdom of heaven."
Look at my text again, and you will see where these people come from. They are to "come from the east and west." The Jewssaid that they would all come from Palestine, every one of them, every man, woman, and child; that there would not be onein heaven that was not a Jew. And the Pharisees thought that, if they were not all Pharisees, they could not be saved. ButJesus Christ said, there will be many that will come from the east and from the west. There will be amultitude from that far-off land of China, for God is doing a great work there, and we hope that the gospel will yet bevictorious in that land. There will be a multitude from this western land of England, from the western country beyond thesea in America, and from the south in Australia, and from the north in Canada, Siberia, and Russia. From the uttermost partsof the earth there shall come many to sit down in the kingdom of God. But I do not think this text is to be understood somuchgeographically as spiritually. When it says that they "shall come from the east and west," I think it does not refer tonations particularly, but to different kinds of people. Now, "the east and the west" signify those who are the very farthestoff from religion; yet many of them will be saved and get to heaven. There is a class of persons who will always be lookedupon as hopeless. Many a time have I heard a man or woman say of such a one, "He cannot be saved: he is too abandoned. Whatishe good for? Ask him to go to a place of worship-he was drunk on Saturday night. What would be the use of reasoning with him? There is no hope for him. He is a hardened fellow. See what he has done these many years. What good will it be to speak tohim? Now, hear this, ye who think your fellows worse than yourselves-ye who condemn others, whereas ye are often just as guilty:Jesus Christ says, "many shall come from the east and west." There will be many in heaven thatwere drunkards once. I believe, among that blood-bought throng, there are many who reeled in and out the tavern half theirlifetime. But, by the power of divine grace, they were able to dash the liquor-cup to the ground. They renounced the riotof intoxication-fled away from it-and served God. Yes! There will be many in heaven who were drunkards on earth. There willbe many harlots: some of the most abandoned will be found there. You remember the story of Whitefield's once saying, thatthere would be some in heaven who were "the devil's castaways;" some that the devil would hardly think good enough forhim, and yet whom Christ would save. Lady Huntingdon once gently hinted that such language was not quite proper. But, justat the time, there happened to be heard a ring at the bell, and Whitefield went down-stairs. Afterwards he came up and said,"Your ladyship, what do you think a poor woman had to say to me just now? She was a sad profligate, and she said, 'O, Mr.Whitefield, when you were preaching, you told us that Christ would take in the devil's castaways, and I am one of them,'"and that was the means of her salvation. Shall anybody ever check us from preaching to the lowest of the low? I have beenaccused of getting all the rabble of London around me. God bless the rabble! God save the rabble! then, say I. But, supposethey are "the rabble," who need the gospel more than they do? Who require to have Christ preached to them more than they do?Wehave lots of those who preach to ladies and gentlemen, and we want some one to preach to the rabble in these degeneratedays. Oh! here is comfort for me, for many of the rabble are to come from the east and from the west. Oh! what would you thinkif you were to see the difference between some that are in heaven and some that shall be there? There might be found one whosehair hangs across his eyes, his locks are matted, he looks horrible, his bloated eyes start from his face, he grins almostlike an idiot, he has drunk away his very brain until life seems to have departed, so far as sense and being are concerned;yet I would tell to you, "that man is capable of salvation:-and in a few years I might say "look up yonder;" see you thatbright star? discern you that man with a crown of pure gold upon his head? do you notice that being clad in robes of sapphireand in garments of light? That is the self-same man who sat there a poor, benighted, almost idiotic being; yet sovereigngrace and mercy have saved him! There are none, except those, as I have said before, who have sinned the unpardonablesin, who are beyond God's mercy. Fetch me out the worst, and still I would preach the gospel to them; fetch me out the vilest,still I would preach to them, because I recollect my Master said, "Go ye out into the highways and hedges, and compel themto come in that my house may be filled." "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac,andJacob, in the kingdom of heaven."
There is one more word I must notice before I have done with this sweet portion-that is the word "shall." Oh! I love God's "shalls" and "wills." There is nothing comparable to them. Let a man say "shall," what is it good for? "Iwill," says man, and he never performs; "I shall," says he, and he breaks his promise. But it is never so with God's "shalls."If he says "shall," it shall be; when he says "will," it will be. Now he has said here, "many shallcome." The devil says "they shall not come;" but "they shall come." Their sins say "you can't come;" God says "you shallcome." You, yourselves, say, "you won't come;" God says "you shall come." Yes! There are some here who are laughing at salvation,who can scoff at Christ and mock at the gospel; but I tell you some of you shall come yet. "What!" you say, "can God makeme become a Christian?" I tell you yes, for herein rests the power of the gospel. It does not ask you consent; but it getsit.It does not say, Will you have it? But it makes you willing in the day of God's power. Not against your will, but it makesyou willing. It shows you its value, and then you fall in love with it; and straightway you run after it and have it. Manypeople have said, "we will not have anything to do with religion." yet they have been converted. I have heard of a man whoonce went to chapel to hear the singing, and as soon as the minister began to preach, he put his fingers in his ears and wouldnotlisten. But by-and-by some tiny insect settled on his face, so that he was obliged to take one finger out of his earsto brush it away. Just then the minister said, "he that hath ears to hear let him hear." The man listened; and God met withhim at that moment to his soul's conversion. He went out a new man, a changed character. He who came in to laugh retired topray; he who came in to mock went out to bend his knee in penitence; he who entered to spend an idle hour went home to spendan hourin devotion with his God. The sinner became a saint; the profligate became a penitent. Who know that there may not besome like that here? The gospel wants not your consent, it gets it. It knocks the enmity out of your heart. You say, "I donot want to be saved;" Christ says you shall be. He makes your will turn round, and then you cry, "Lord, save, or I perish.""Ah," might Heaven exclaim, "I knew I would make you say that;" and then he rejoices over you because he has changed yourwill andmade you willing in the day of his power. If Jesus Christ were to stand on the platform to-night, what would many peopledo with him? "O!" say some, "we would make him a King." I do not believe it. They would crucify him again, if they had theopportunity. If he were to come and say, "Here I am, I love you, will you be saved by me?" not one of you would consent ifyou were left to your will. If he should look upon you with those eyes, before whose power the lion would have crouched; ifhe spokewith that voice which poured forth a cataract of eloquence like a stream of nectar rolling down from the cliffs above,not a single person would come to be his disciple. No; it wants the power of the Spirit to make men come to Jesus Christ.He himself said, "No man can come to me except the Father who hath sent me draw him." Ah! we want that; and here we have it.They shall come! They shall come! Ye may laugh, ye may despise us; but Jesus Christ shall not die for nothing. If some ofyou rejecthim, there are some that will not. It there are some that are not saved, others shall be. Christ shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. Some think that Christ died, and yet, that some for whom he died will be lost. I never could understandthat doctrine. If Jesus, my surety, bore my griefs and carried my sorrows, I believe myself to be as secure as the angelsin heaven. God cannot ask payment twice. IfChrist paid my debt, shall I have to pay it again? No.
"Free from sin I walk at large
The Saviour's blood's my full discharge;
At his dear feet content I lay,
A sinner saved, and homage pay."
They shall come! They shall come! And naught in heaven, nor on earth, nor in hell, can stop them from coming.
And now, thou chief of sinners, list one moment, while I call thee to Jesus. There is one person here to-night, who thinkshimself the worst soul that ever lived. There is one who says to himself, "I do not deserve to be called to Christ, I am sure!"Soul! I call thee! thou lost, most wretched outcast, this night, by authority given me of God, I call thee to come to my Saviour.Some time ago, when I went into the County Court to see what they were doing, I heard a man'sname called out, and immediately the man said, "Make way! make way! They call me!" And up he came. Now, I call the chiefof sinners to-night, and let him say, "Make way! make way, doubts! make way, fears! make way, sins! Christ calls me! And ifChrist calls me, that is enough!"
"I'll to his gracious feet approach
Whose sceptre mercy gives.
Perhaps he may command me, "Touch!"
And then the suppliant lives."
"I can but perish if I go;
I am resolved to try,
For if I stay away, I know
I must for ever die."
"But, should I die with mercies sought,
When I the king have tried,
That were to die, (delightful thought!)
As sinner never died."
Go and try my Saviour! Go and try my Saviour! If he cast you away after you have sought him, tell in the pit that Christ wouldnot hear you. But that you shall never be allowed to do. It would dishonor the mercy of the covenant for God to cast away one penitent sinner; andit never shall be while it is written, "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac,and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."
II. The second part of my text is heart-breaking. I could preach with great delight to myself from the first part; but hereis a dreary task to my soul, because there are gloomy words here. But, as I have told you, what is written in the Bible mustbe preached, whether it be gloomy or cheerful. There are some ministers who never mention anything about hell. I heard ofa minister who once said to his congregation, "If you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be sentto that place which it is not polite to mention." He ought not to have been allowed to preach again, I am sure, if hecould not use plain words. Now, if I saw that house on fire over there, do you think I would stand and say, "I believe theoperation of combustion is proceeding yonder?" No; I would call out, "Fire! fire! and then everybody would know what I meant.So, if the Bible says, "The children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness," am I to stand here and mince thematterat all? God forbid! We must speak the truth as it is written. It is a terrible truth, for it says, "the children of the kingdom shall be cast out!" Now, who are those children? I will tell you. "The children of the kingdom" are those people who arenoted for the externals of piety, but who have nothing of the internals of it. People whom you will see with their Biblesand Hymn Books marching off to chapel as religiously as possible, or going to church as devoutly and demurely as theycan, looking as sombre and serious as parish beadles, and fancying that they are quite sure to be saved, though theirhearts are not in the matter; nothing but their bodies. These are the persons who are "the children of the kingdom." Theyhave no grace, no life, no Christ, and they shall be cast into outer darkness.
Again, these people are the children of pious fathers and mothers. There is nothing touches a man's heart, mark you, like talking about his mother. I have heard of a swearing sailor, whomnobody could manage, not even the police, who was always making some disturbance wherever he went. Once he went into a placeof worship, and no one could keep him still; but a gentleman went up and said to him, "Jack, you had a mother once." Withthat the tears ran down his cheeks.He said, "Ha! bless you, sir, I had; and I brought her gray hairs with sorrow to the grave, and a pretty fellow I am tobe here to-night." He then sat down, quite sobered and subdued by the very mention of his mother. Ah, and there are some ofyou, "children of the kingdom," who can remember your mothers. Your mother took you on her knee and taught you early to pray;your father tutored you in the ways of godliness. And yet you are here to-night, without grace in you heart-without hope ofheaven. You are going downwards towards hell as fast as your feet can carry you. There are some of you who have brokenyour poor mother's heart. Oh! if I could tell you what she has suffered for you when you have at night been indulging in yousin. Do you know what your guilt will be, ye "children of the kingdom," if ye perish after a pious mother's prayers and tearshave fallen upon you? I can conceive of no one entering hell with a worse grace than the man who goes there with drops ofhismother's tears on his head, and with his father's prayers following him at his heels. Some of you will inevitably endurethis doom; some of you, young men and women, shall wake up one day and find yourselves in utter darkness, while your parentsshall be up there in heaven, looking down upon you with upbraiding eyes, seeming to say, "What! after all we did for you,all we said, are ye come to this?" "Children of the kingdom!" do not think that a pious mother can save you. Do not think,becauseyour father was a member of such-and-such a church, that his godliness will save you. I can suppose some one standingat heaven's gate, and demanding, "Let me in! Let me in!" What for? "Because my mother is in there." Your mother had nothingto do with you. If she was holy, she was holy for herself; if she was evil, she was evil for herself. "But my grandfatherprayed for me!" That is no use: did you pray for yourself? "No, I did not." Then grandfather's prayers, and grandmother'sprayers, andfather's and mother's prayers may be piled on the top of one another till they reach the stars, but they never can makea ladder for you to go to heaven by. You must seek God for yourself; or rather, God must seek you. You must have vital experienceof godliness in you heart, or else you are lost, even though all your friends were in heaven. That was a dreadful dream whicha pious mother once had, and told to her children. She thought the judgment day was come. The great books were opened. Theyall stood before God. And Jesus Christ said, "Separate the chaff from the wheat; put the goats on the left hand, and thesheep on the right. The mother dreamed that she and her children were standing just in the middle of the great assembly. Andthe angel came, and said, "I must take the mother, she is a sheep: she must go to the right hand. The children are goats:they must go on the left." She thought as she went, her children clutched her, and said, "Mother, can we part? Must we beseparated?" She then put her arms around them, and seemed to say, "My children, I would, if possible, take you with me."But in a moment the angel touched her; her cheeks were dried, and now, overcoming natural affection, being rendered supernaturaland sublime, resigned to God's will, she said, "My children, I taught you well, I trained you up, and you forsook the waysof God; and now all I have to say is, Amen to you condemnation." Thereupon they were snatched away, and she saw them inperpetual torment while she was in heaven. Young man, what will you think, when the last day comes, to hear Christ say,"Depart, ye cursed?" And there will be a voice just behind him, saying, Amen. And, as you inquire whence came the voice, youwill find it was your mother. Or, young woman, when thou art cast away into utter darkness, what will you think to hear avoice saying, Amen. And as you look, there sits your father, his lips still moving with the solemn curse. Ah! "children ofthekingdom," the penitent reprobates will enter heaven, many of them; publicans and sinners will get there; repenting drunkardsand swearers will be saved; but many of the "children of the kingdom" will be cast out. Oh! to think that you who have beenso well trained should be lost, while many of the worse will be saved. It will be the hell of hells for you to look up andsee there "poor Jack," the drunkard, lying in Abraham's bosom, while you, who have had a pious mother, are cast into hell,simply because you would not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but put his gospel from you, and lived and died withoutit! That were the very sting of all, to see ourselves cast away, when the chief of sinners finds salvation.
Now list to me a little while-I will not detain you long-whilst I undertake the doleful task of telling you what is to becomeof these "children of the kingdom." Jesus Christ says they are to be "cast into utter darkness, where there is weeping andgnashing of teeth."
First, notice, they are to be cast out. They are not said to go; but, when they come to heaven's gates, they are to be cast out. As soon as hypocrites arrive at the gates of heaven, Justice will say, "There he comes! there he comes! He spurned afather's prayers, and mocked a mother's tears. He has forced his way downward against all the advantages mercy has supplied.And now, there he comes. "Gabriel, take the man." The angel, binding you hand andfoot, holds you one single moment over the mouth of the chasm. He bids you look down-down-down. There is no bottom; andyou hear coming up from the abyss, sullen moans, and hollow groans, and screams of tortured ghosts. You quiver, your bonesmelt like wax, and your marrow quakes within you. Where is now thy might? and where thy boasting and bragging? Ye shriek andcry, ye beg for mercy; but the angel, with one tremendous grasp, seizes you fast, and then hurls you down, with the cry, "Away,away!" And down you go to the pit that is bottomless, and roll for ever downward-downward-downward-ne'er to find a resting-placefor the soles of your feet. Ye shall be cast out.
And where are you to be cast to? Ye are to be cast "into outer darkness;" ye are to be put in the place where there will be no hope. For, by "light," in Scripture,we understand "hope;" and you are to be put "into outer darkness," where there is no light-no hope. Is there a man here whohas no hope? I cannot suppose such a person. One of you, perhaps, says, "I am thirty pounds in debt, and shall be sold upby-and-by; but I have a hope that I may get a loan, and soescape my difficulty." Says another, "My business is ruined, but things may take a turn yet-I have a hope." Says another,"I am in great distress, but I hope that God will provide for me." Another says, "I am fifty pounds in debt; I am sorry forit; but I will set these strong hands to work, and do my best to get out of it." One of you thinks a friend is dying, butyou have a hope that, perhaps, the fever may take a turn-that he may yet live. But, in hell, there is no hope. They have noteven the hope of dying-the hope of being annihilated. They are for ever-for ever-for ever-lost! On every chain in hell,there is written "for ever." In the fires, there blaze out the words, "for ever." Up above their heads, they read "for ever."Their eyes are galled, and their hearts are pained with the thought that it is "for ever." Oh! if I could tell you to-nightthat hell would one day be burned out, and that those who were lost might be saved, there would be a jubilee in hell atthe very thought of it. But it cannot be-it is "for ever" they are "cast into utter darkness."
But I want to get over this as quickly as I can; for who can bear to talk thus to his fellow-creatures? What is it that thelost are doing? They are "weeping and gnashing their teeth." Do you gnash you teeth now? You would not do it except you werein pain and agony. Well, in hell there is always gnashing of teeth. And do you know why? There is one gnashing his teeth athis companion, and mutters, "I was led into hell by you; you led me astray, you taught me to drink thefirst time." And the other gnashes his teeth and says, "What if I did? You made me worse than I should have been in aftertimes." There is a child who looks at her mother, and says, "Mother, you trained me up to vice." And the mother gnashes herteeth again at the child, and says, "I have no pity for you, for you excelled me in it, and led me into deeper sin." Fathersgnash their teeth at their sons, and sons at their fathers. And, methinks, if there are any who will have to gnash their teethmore than others, it will be seducers, when they see those whom they have led from the paths of virtue, and hear themsaying, "Ah! we are glad you are in hell with us, you deserve it, for you led us here." Have any of you, to-night, upon yourconsciences the fact that you have led others to the pit? O, may sovereign grace forgive you. "We have gone astray like lostsheep," said David. Now a lost sheep never goes astray alone, if it is one of a flock. I lately read of a sheep that leapedoverthe parapet of a bridge, and was followed by every one of the flock. So, if one man goes astray, he leads others withhim. Some of you will have to account for others' sins when you get to hell, as well as your own. Oh, what "weeping and gnashingof teeth" there will be in that pit!
Now shut the black book. Who wants to say any more about it? I have warned you solemnly. I have told you of the wrath to come.The evening darkens, and the sun is setting. Ah! and the evenings darken with some of you. I can see gray-headed men here.Are your gray hairs a crown of glory, or a fool's cap to you? Are you on the very verge of heaven, or are you tottering onthe brink of your grave, and sinking down to perdition?
Let me warn you, gray-headed men; your evening is coming. O, poor, tottering gray-head, wilt thou take the last step intothe pit? Let a young child step before thee, and beg thee to consider. There is thy staff-it has nothing of earth to restupon: and now, ere thou diest, bethink thyself this night; let seventy years of sin start up; let the ghosts of thy forgottentransgressions march before thine eyes. What wilt thou do with seventy wasted years to answer for-withseventy years of criminality to bring before God? God give thee grace this night to repent and to put thy trust in Jesus.
And you, middle-aged men, are not safe; the evening lowers with you, too; you may soon die. A few mornings ago, I was rousedearly from my bed, by the request that I would hasten to see a dying man. I hurried off with all speed to see the poor creature;but when I reached the house, he was dead-a corpse. As I stood in the room I thought, "Ah! that man little thought he shoulddie so soon." There were his wife and children, and friends-they little thought he would die;for he was hale, strong, and hearty but a few days before. None of you have a lease of your lives. If you have, whereis it? Go and see if you have it anywhere in your chest at home. No! ye may die to-morrow. Let me therefore warn you by themercy of God; let me speak to you as a brother may speak; for I love you, you know I do, and would press the matter home toyour hearts. Oh, to be amongst the many who shall be accepted in Christ-how blessed that will be! and God has said that whosoevershall call on his name shall be saved: he casts out none that come unto him through Christ.
And now, ye youths and maidens, one word with you. Perhaps you think that religion is not for you. "Let us be happy," sayyou: "let us be merry and joyous." How long, young man, how long? "Till I am twenty-one." Are you sure that you will livetill then? Let me tell you one thing. If you do live till that time, if you have no heart for God now, you will have nonethen. Men do not get better if left alone. It is with them as with the garden: if you let it alone, and permitweeds to grow, you will not expect to find it better in six months-but worse. Ah! men talk as if they could repent whenthey like. It is the work of God to give us repentance. Some even say, "I shall turn to God on such-and-such a day. Ah! ifyou felt aright, you would say, "I must run to God, and ask him to give me repentance now, lest I should die before I havefound Jesus Christ, my Saviour."
Now, one word in conclusion. I have told you of heaven and hell; what is the way, then, to escape from hell and to be foundin heaven? I will not tell you my old tale again to-night. I recollect when I told it you before, a good friend in the crowdsaid, "Tell us something fresh, old fellow." Now really, in preaching ten times a week, we cannot always say things fresh.You have heard John Gough, and you know he tells his tales over again. I have nothing but the old gospel."He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." There is nothing here of works. It does not say, "He who is a goodman shall be saved," but "he who believes and is baptized." Well, what is it to believe? It is to put your trust entirelyupon Jesus. Poor Peter once believed, and Jesus Christ said to him, "Come on, Peter, walk to me on the water." Peter wentstepping along on the tops of the waves without sinking; but when he looked at the waves, he began to tremble, and down hewent. Now,poor sinner, Christ says, "Come on; walk on your sins; come to me; and if you do, he will give you power. If you believeon Christ, you will be able to walk over your sins-to tread upon them and overcome them. I can remember the time when my sinsfirst stared me in the face. I thought myself the most accursed of all men. I had not committed any very great open transgressionsagainst God; but I recollected that I had been well trained and tutored, and I thought my sins were thus greater thanother people's. I cried to God to have mercy; and I feared that he would not pardon me. Month after month, I cried toGod, and he did not hear me, and I knew not what it was to be saved. Sometimes I was so weary of the world that I desiredto die; but then I recollected that there was a worse world after this, and that it would be an ill matter to rush beforemy Maker unprepared. At times I wickedly thought God a most heartless tyrant, because he did not answer my prayer; and then,at others, Ithought, "I deserve his displeasure; if he sends me to hell, he will be just." But I remember the hour when I steppedinto a little place of worship, and saw a tall, thin man step into the pulpit: I have never seen him from that day, and probablynever shall, till we meet in heaven. He opened the Bible and read, with a feeble voice, "Look unto me, and be ye saved allthe ends of the earth; for I am God, and beside me there is none else." Ah, thought I, I am one of the ends of the earth;andthen turning round, and fixing his gaze on me, as if he knew me, the minister said, "Look, look, look." Why, I thoughtI had a great deal to do, but I found it was only to look. I thought I had a garment to spin out for myself; but I found that if I looked, Christ would give me a garment. Look, sinner,that is to be saved. Look unto him, all ye ends of the earth, and be saved. That is what the Jews did, when Moses held upthe brazen serpent. He said, "Look!" and they looked. Theserpent might be twisting round them, and they might be nearly dead; but they simply looked, and the moment they looked,the serpent dropped off, and they were healed. Look to Jesus, sinner. "None but Jesus can do helpless sinners good." Thereis a hymn we often sing, but which I do not think is quite right. It says,
"Venture on him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude."
Now, it is no venture to trust in Christ, not in the least; he who trusts in Christ is quite secure. I recollect that, whendear John Hyatt was dying, Matthew Wilks said to him, in his usual tone, "Well, John, could you trust your soul in the handsof Jesus Christ now?" "Yes," said he, "a million! a million souls!" I am sure that every Christian that has ever trusted inChrist can say Amen to that. Trust in him; he will never deceive you. My blessed Master will never castyou away.
I cannot speak much longer, and I have only to thank you for your kindness. I never saw so large a number so still and quiet.I do really think, after all the hard things that have been said, that the English people know who loves them, and that theywill stand by the man who stands by them. I thank every one of you; and above all, I beg you, if there be reason or sensein what I have said, bethink yourselves of what you are, and may the Blessed Spirit reveal to you yourstate! May he show you that you are dead, that you are lost, ruined. May he make you feel what a dreadful thing it wouldbe to sink into hell! May he point you to heaven! May he take you as the angel did of old, and put his hand upon you, andsay, "Flee! flee! flee! Look to the mountain; look not behind thee; stay not in all the plain." And may we all meet in heavenat last; and there we shall be happy for ever.
P.S. This sermon was watered by many prayers of the faithful in Zion. The preacher did not intend it for publication, butseeing that it is now in print, he will not apologize for its faulty composition or rambling style; but instead thereof, hewould beg the prayers of his readers, that this feeble sermon may more exalt the honour of God, by the salvation of many whoshall read it. "The excellency of the power is of God, and not of man."