Sermon 106. Turn or Burn
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 7, 1856, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
"If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow and made it ready."-Psalm 7:12.
IF THE SINNER turn not, God will whet his sword." So, then, God has a sword, and he will punish man on account of his iniquity.This evil generation hath laboured to take away from God the sword of his justice; they have endeavoured to prove themselvesthat God will "clear the guilty," and will by no means "punish iniquity, transgression and sin." Two hundred years ago thepredominant strain of the pulpit was one of terror: it was like Mount Sinai, it thundered forth thedreadful wrath of God, and from the lips of a Baxter or a Bunyan, you heard most terrible sermons, full to the brim withwarnings of judgment to come. Perhaps some of the Puritanic fathers may have gone too far, and have given too great a prominenceto the terrors of the Lord in their ministry: but the age in which we live has sought to forget those terrors altogether,and if we dare to tell men that God will punish them for their sins, it is charged upon us that want to bully them intoreligion, and if we faithfully and honestly tell our hearers that sin must bring after it certain destruction, it is saidthat we are attempting to frighten them into goodness. Now we care not what men mockingly impute to us; we feel it our duty,when men sin, to tell them they shall be punished, and so long as the world will not give up its sin we feel we must not ceaseour warnings. But the cry of the age is, that God is merciful, that God is love. Ay; who said he was not? But remember, itisequally true, God is just, severely and inflexibly just. He were not God, if he were not just; he could not be mercifulif he were not just, for punishment of the wicked is demanded by the highest mercy to the rest of mankind. Rest assured, however,that he is just, and that the words I am about to read you from God's Word are true-"The wicked shall be turned into hell,and all the nations that forget God;' "God is angry with the wicked every day;" "If he turn not, he will whet his sword; hehath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrowsagainst the persecutors." Forsooth, because this age is wicked it is to have no hell; and because it is hypocritical it wouldhave but feigned punishment. This doctrine is so prevalent as to make even the ministers of the gospel flinch from their dutyin declaring the day of wrath. How few there are who will solemnly tell us of the judgment to come. They preach of God's loveandmercy as they ought to do, and as God has commanded them; but of what avail is it to preach mercy unless they preach alsothe doom of the wicked? And how shall we hope to effect the purpose of preaching unless we warn men that if they "turn not,he will whet his sword?" I fear that in too many places the doctrine of future punishment is rejected and laughed as a fancyand a chimera; but the day will come when it shall be known to be a reality. Ahab scoffed at Micaiah, when he said he shouldnever come home alive; the men of Noah's generation laughed at the foolish old man, (as they thought him), who bid themtake heed, for the world should be drowned; but when they were climbing to the tree-tops, and the floods were following them,did they then say that the prophecy was untrue: and when the arrow was sticking in the heart of Ahab, and he said, "Take mefrom the battle, for I must die;" did he then think that Micaiah spoke an untruth? And so it is now. Ye tell us we speak lies,when we warn you of judgment to come; but in that day when your mischief shall fall on yourselves, and when destructionshall overwhelm you, will you say we were liars then? Will ye then turn round and scoff, and say we spake not the truth? Rather,my hearers, the highest need of honour will then be given to him who was the most faithful in warning men concerning the wrathof God. I have often trembled at the thought that, here I am standing before you, and constantly engaged in the work of theministry, and what if, when I die, I should be found unfaithful to your souls, how doleful will be our meeting in theworld of spirits. It would be a dreadful thing if you were able to say to me in the world to come, "Sir, you flattered us;you did not tell us of the solemnities of eternity; you did not rightly dwell upon the awful wrath of God; you spoke to usfeebly and faintly; you were somewhat afraid of us; you knew we could not bear to hear of eternal torment, and therefore youkept itback and never mentioned it!" Why, methinks you would look me in the face and curse me throughout eternity, if that shouldbe my conduct. But by God's help it never shall be. Come fair or foul, when I die I shall, God helping me, be able to say,"I am clear of the blood of all men." So far as I know God's truth I will endeavour to speak it; and though on my head opprobriumand scandal be poured to a ten-fold greater extent than ever, I'll hail it and welcome it, if I may but be faithful to thisunstable generation, faithful to God, and faithful to my own conscience. Let me, then, endeavour-and by God's help I willdo it as solemnly and as tenderly as I can-to address such of you as have not yet repented, most affectionately remindingyou of your future doom, if you should die impenitent. "If he turn not, he will whet his sword."
In the first place, what is the turning here meant? In the second place let us dwell on the necessity there is for men's turning, otherwise God will punish them; and then thirdly, let me remind you of the means whereby men can be turned from the error of their ways, and the weakness and frailty of their nature amended by thepower of divine grace.
I. In the first place, my hearers, let me endeavour to explain to you the NATURE OF THE TURNING HERE MEANT. It says-"if heturn not he will whet his sword."
To commence then. The turning here meant is actual, not fictitious-not that which stops with promises and vows, but that which deals with the real acts life. Possible one ofyou will say, this morning "Lo I turn to God; from this forth I will not sin, but I will endeavour to walk in holiness; myvices shall be abandoned, my crimes shall be thrown to the winds, and I will turn unto God with full purpose of heart;" but,mayhap, to-morrow you will have forgottenthis; you will weep a tear or two under the preaching of God's word, but by to-morrow every tear shall have been dried,and you will utterly forget that you ever came to the house of God at all. How many of us are like men who see their facesin a glass, and straightway go away and forget what manner of men they are! Ah! my hearer, it is not thy promise of repentancethat can save thee; it is not thy vow, it is not thy solemn declaration, it is not the tear that is dried more easily thanthedew-drop by the sun, it is not the transient emotion of the heart which constitutes a real turning to God. There mustbe a true and actual abandonment of sin, and a turning unto righteousness in real act and deed in every-day life. Do you sayyou are sorry, and repent, and yet go on from day to day, just as you always went? Will your now bow your heads, and say,"Lord, I repent," and in a little while commit the same deeds again? If ye do, your repentance is worse than nothing, andshall butmake your destruction yet more sure; for he that voweth to his Maker, and doth not pay, hath committed another sin, inthat he hath attempted to deceive the Almighty, and lie against the God that made him. Repentance to be true, to be evangelical,must be a repentance which really affects our outward conduct.
In the next place, repentance to be sure must be entire. How many will say, "Sir, I will renounce this sin and the other; but there are certain darling lusts which I must keep andhold." O sirs, In God's name let me tell you, it is not the giving up of one sin, nor fifty sins, which is true repentance;it is the solemn renunciation of every sin. If thou dost harbour one of those accursed vipers in thy heart, thy repentanceis but a sham. If thou dost indulge in butone lust, and dost give up every other, that one lust, like one leak in a ship, will sink thy soul. Think it not sufficientto give up thy outward vices; fancy it not enough to cut off the more corrupt sins of thy life; it is all or none which Goddemands. "Repent," says he; and when he bids you repent, he means repent for all thy sins, otherwise he never can accept thyrepentance as being real and genuine. The true penitent hates sin in the race, not in the individual-in the mass, not in theparticular. He says, "Gild thee as thou wilt, O sin, I abhor thee! Ay, cover thyself with pleasure, make thyself guady,like the snake with its azure scales-I hate thee still, for I know thy venom, and I flee from thee, even when thou comestto me in the most specious garb." All sin must be given up, or else you shall never have Christ: all transgression must berenounced, or else the gates of heaven must be barred against you. Let us remember, then, that for repentance to be sincereit mustbe entire repentance.
Again, when God says, "If he turn not, he will whet his sword," he means immediate repentance. Ye say, when we are nearing the last extremity of mortal life, and when we are entering the borders of the thickdarkness of futurity, then we will change our ways. But, my dear hearers, do not delude yourselves. It is few who have everchanged after a long life of sin. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" If so, let him that is accustomedto doevil learn to do well. Put no faith in the repentances which you promise yourselves on your death beds. There are tenthousand arguments against one, that if you repent not in health, you will never repent in sickness. Too many have promisedthemselves a quiet season before they leave the world, when they could turn their face to the wall and confess their sins;but how few have found that time of repose! Do not men drop down dead in the streets-ay, even in the house of God? Do theynotexpire in their business? And when death is gradual, it affords but an ill season for repentance. Many a saint has saidon his death-bed, "Oh! if I had now to seek my God, if I had now to cry to him for mercy, what would become of me? These pangsare enough, without the pangs of repentance. It is enough to have the body tortured, without having the soul wrung with remorse."Sinner! God saith, "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, when your fatherstempted me and proved me." When God the Holy Spirit convinces men of sin, they will never talk of delays. You may neverhave another to repent in. Therefore saith the voice of wisdom, "Repent now." The Jewish rabbis said, "Let every man repentone day before he dies, and since he may die to-morrow, let him take heed to turn from his evil ways to-day." Even so we say;immediate repentance is that which God demands, for he hath never promised thee that thou shalt have any hour to repent in,except the one that thou hast now.
Furthermore; the repentance here described as absolutely necessary is hearty repentance. It is not a mock tear; it is not hanging out the ensigns of grief, whilst you are keeping merriment in your hearts.It is not having an illumination within, and shutting up all the windows by a pretended repentance; it is the putting outof the candles of the heart; it is sorrow of soul which is true repentance. A man may renounce every outward sin, and yetnot really repent.True repentance is a turning of the heart as well as of the life; it is the giving up of the whole soul to God, to behis for ever and ever; it is a renunciation of the sins of the heart, as well as the crimes of the life. Ah! dear hearers,let none of us fancy that we have repented when we have only a false and fictitious repentance; let none of us take that tobe the work of the Spirit which is only the work of poor human nature; let us not dream that we have savingly turned to God,when,perhaps, we have only turned to ourselves. And let us not think it enough to have turned from one vice to another, orfrom vice to virtue; let us remember, it must be a turning of the whole soul, so that the old man is made anew in Christ Jesus;otherwise we have not answered the requirement of the text-we have not turned unto God.
And lastly, upon this point, this repentance must be perpetual. It is not my turning to God during to-day that will be a proof that I am a true convert; it is forsaking of my sin throughoutthe entire of my life, until I sleep in the grave. You need not fancy that to be upright for a week will be a proof that youare saved; it is a perpetual abhorrence of evil. The change which God works is neither a transitory nor a superficial change;not a cutting off the top ofthe weed, but an away of that which is the cause of the defilement. In old times, when rich and generous monarchs cameinto their cities they made the fountains run milk and wine; but the fountain was not therefore a fountain of milk and winealways; one the morrow it ran with water as before. So you may to-day go home and pretend to pray; you may to-day be serious,to-morrow you may be honest, and the next day you may pretend to be devout, but yet if thou return, as Scripture has it, "likethedog to its vomit, and like the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire," your repentance shall but sink you deeperinto hell, instead of being a proof of divine grace in your hearts.
It is very hard to distinguish between legal repentance and evangelical repentance; however, there are certain marks wherebythey may be distinguished, and at the risk of tiring you, we will just notice one or two of them; and may God grant that youmay find them in your own souls! Legal repentance is a fear of damning: evangelical repentance is a fear of sinning. Legalrepentance makes us fear the wrath of God; evangelical repentance makes us fear the cause of that wrath,even sin. When a man repents with that grace of repentance which God the Spirits works in him, he repents not of the punishmentwhich is to follow the deed, but of the deed itself; and he feels that if there were not pit digged for the wicked, if therewere no ever-gnawing worm, and no fire unquenchable, he would still hate sin. It is such repentance as this which every oneof you must have, or else you will be lost. It must be a hatred of sin. Do not suppose, that because when you come to dieyou will be afraid of eternal torment, therefore that will be repentance. Every thief is afraid of the prison; but hewill steal to-morrow if you set him free. Most men who have committed murder tremble at the sight of the gallows-tree, butthey would do the deed again could they live. It is not the hatred of the punishment that is repentance; it is the hatredof the deed itself. Do you feel that you have such a repentance as that? If not, these thundering words must be preached toyouagain,-"If he turn not, he will whet his sword."
But one more hint here. When a man is possessed of true and evangelical repentance-I mean the gospel repentance which savesthe soul-he not only hates sin for its own sake, but loathes it so extremely and utterly that he feels that no repentanceof his own can avail to wash it out, and he acknowledges that it is only by an act of sovereign grace that his sin can bewashed away. Now, if any of you suppose that you repent of your sins, and yet imagine that by a course ofholy living you can blot them out-if you suppose that by walking uprightly in future you can obliterate your past transgressions-youhave not yet truly repented; for true repentance makes a man feel, that
"Could his zeal no respite know,
Could his tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone,
Christ must save, and Christ alone."
And if it is so killed in thee that thou hatest as a corrupt and abominable thing, and wouldst bury it out of thy sight, butthat thou feelest that it will never be entombed, unless Christ shall dig the grave, then thou hast repented of sin. We musthumbly confess that we deserve God's wrath, and that we cannot avert it by any deeds of our own, and we must put our trustsolely and entirely in the blood and merits of Jesus Christ. If ye have not so repented, again weexclaim in the words of David, "If you turn not, he will whet his sword."
II. And now the second point; it is a yet more terrible one to dwell upon, and if I consulted my own feelings I should notmention it; but we must not consider our feelings in the work of ministry, any more than we should if we were physicians ofmen's bodies. We must sometimes use the knife, where we feel that mortification would ensue without it. We must frequentlymake sharp gashes into men's consciences, in the hope that the Holy Spirit will bring them to life. Weassert, then, that there is a NECESSITY that God should whet his sword and punish men, if they will not turn. EarnestBaxter used to say, "Sinner! turn or burn; it is thine only alternative: TURN OR BURN!" And it is so. We think we can showyou why men must turn, or else they must burn.
1. First we cannot suppose the God of the Bible could suffer sin to be unpunished. Some may suppose it; they may dream theirintellects into a state of intoxication, so as to suppose a God apart from justice; but no man whose reason is sound and whosemind is in a healthy condition can imagine a God without justice. Ye cannot suppose a king without it to be a good king; yecannot dream of a good government that should exist without justice, much less of God, the Judge andKing of all the earth, without justice in his bosom. To suppose him all love, and no justice, were to undeify him, andmake him no longer God; he were not capable of ruling this world if he had not justice in his heart. There is in man a naturalperception of the fact, that if there be a God, he must be just; and I can scarcely imagine that ye can believe in a God withoutbelieving also in the punishment of sin. It were difficult to suppose him elevated high above his creatures, beholding theirdisobedience, and yet looking with the same serenity upon the good and upon the evil; you cannot suppose him awardingthe same need of praise to the wicked and to the righteous. The idea of God, suppose justice; and it is but to say justicewhen you say God.
2. But to imagine that there shall be no punishment for sin, and that man can be saved without repentance, is to fly in theface of all the Scriptures. What! Are the records of divine history nothing? And if they be anything must not God have mightilychanged, if he doth not now punish sin? What! did he once blast Eden, and drive our parents out of that happy garden on accountof a little theft, as man would style it? Did he drown a world with water, and inundate creationwith the floods which he had buried in the bowels of this earth? And will he not punish sin? Let the burning hail whichfell on Sodom tell you that God is just; let the open mouth of the earth which swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, warnyou that he will not spare the guilty: let the mighty works of God which he did in the Red Sea, the wonders which he wroughton Pharaoh, and the miraculous destruction which he brought on Sennacherib, tell you that God is just. And it were perhapsout ofplace for me in the same argument to mention the judgments of God even in our age; but have there never been such? Thisworld is not the dungeon where God punishes sin, but still there are a few instances in which we cannot but believe that heactually did avenge it. I am no believer that every accident is a judgment; I am far from believing that the destruction ofmen and women in a theatre is a punishment upon them for their sin, since the same thing has occurred in divine service toourperpetual sorrow. I believe judgment is reserved for the next world; I could not account for providence if I believedthat God punishes here. "Those men upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners aboveall men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you nay." It has injured religion for men to take up every providence, and say, forinstance, that because a boat was upset on the Sabbath-day it was a judgment on the persons that were in it. We assuredlybelievethat it was sinful to spend the day in pleasure, but we deny that it was a punishment from God. God usually reserves hispunishment for a future state; but yet, we say, there have been a few instances in which we cannot but believe that men andwomen have been by Providence in this life punished for their guilt. I remember one which I scarcely dare relate to you. Isaw the wretched creature myself. He had dared to imprecate on his head the most awful curses that man could utter. In hisrage andfury he said he wished his head were twisted on one side, that his eyes were put out, and that his jaws were made fast:but a moment afterwards the lash of his whip-with which he had been cruelly treating his horse-entered his eye, brought onfirst inflammation, and then lock-jaw, and when I saw him he was just in the very position in which he had asked to be placed,for his head was twisted round, his eye-sight was gone, and he could not speak except through his closed teeth. You willremember a similar instance happening at Devizes, where a woman declared that she had paid her part of the price of asack of meal, when she had it in her hand, and immediately dropped down dead on the spot. Some of these may have been singularcoincidences; but I am not so credulous as to suppose that they were brought about by chance. I think the will of the Lordwas in it. I believe they were some faint intimations that God was just, and that although the full shower of his wrath doesnotfall on men in this life, he does pour a drop or two on them, to let us see how he will one day chasten the world forits iniquity.
3. But why need I go far to bring arguments to bear on you, my hearers? Your own consciences tell you that God must punishsin. You may laugh at me, and say that you have no such belief. I do not say you have but I say that your conscience tells you so, and conscience has more power over men than what theythink to be their belief. As John Bunyan said, Mr. Conscience had a very loud voice, and though Mr. Understanding shut himselfup in a dark room, where he couldnot see, yet he used to thunder out so mightily in the streets, that Mr. Understanding used to shake in his house throughwhat Mr. Conscience said. And it is often so. You say in your understanding, I cannot believe God will punish sin;" but youknow he will. You would not like to confess your secret fears, because that were to give up what you have so often most bravelyasserted. But because you assert it with such boast and bombast, imagine you do not believe it, for if you did, you wouldnotneed look so big while saying it. I know that when you are dying you will believe in a hell. Conscience makes cowardsof us all, and makes us believe, even when we say we do not, that God must punish sin.
Let me tell you a story; I have told it before, but it is a striking one, and sets out in a true light how easily men willbe brought in times of danger to believe in God, and a God of justice too, though they have denied him before. In the backwoodsof Canada there resided a good minister, who one evening, went out to meditate, as Isaac did, in the fields. He soon foundhimself on the borders of a forest, which he entered, and walked along a track which had been troddenbefore him; musing, musing still, until at last the shadows of twilight gathered around him, and he began to think howhe should spend a night in the forest. He trembled at the idea of remaining there, with the poor shelter of a tree into whichhe would be compelled to climb. On a sudden he saw a light in the distance among the trees, and imagining that it might befrom the window of some cottage where he could find a hospitable retreat, he hastened to it, and to his surprise, saw a spacecleared and trees laid down to make a platform, and upon it a speaker addressing a multitude. He thought to himself, "Ihave stumbled on a company of people, who in this dark forest have assembled to worship God, and some minister is preachingto them, at this late hour of the evening, concerning the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;" but to his surprise andhorror, when he came nearer, he found a young man declaiming against God, daring the Almighty to do his worst upon him, speakingterrible things in wrath against the justice of the Most High, and venturing most bold and awful assertions concerninghis own disbelief in a future state. It was altogether a singular scene; it was lighted up by pine-knots, which cast a glarehere and there, while the thick darkness in other places still reigned. The people were intent on listening to the orator,and when he sat down thunders of applause were given to him; each one seeming to emulate the other in his praise. Thoughttheminister, "I must not let this pass; I must rise and speak; the honour of my God, and his cause demands it." But he fearedto speak, for he knew not what to say, having come there suddenly; but he would have ventured, had not something else occurred.A man of middle age, hale and strong, rose, and leaning on his staff he said, "My friends, I have a word to speak to you to-night.I am not about to refute any of the arguments of the orator; I shall not criticise his style; I shall say nothingconcerning what I believe to be the blasphemies he has uttered; but I shall simply relate to you a fact, and after I havedone that you shall draw your own conclusions. Yesterday, I walked by the side of yonder river; I saw on its floods a youngman in a boat. The boat was unmanageable; it was going fast towards the rapids; he could not use the oars, and I saw thathe was not capable of bringing the boat to the shore. I saw that young man wring his hands in agony; by-and-bye he gave uptheattempt to save his life, kneeled down and cried with desperate earnestness, "O God! save my soul! If my body cannot besaved, save my soul.' I heard him confess that he had been a blasphemer, I heard him vow that if his life were spared he wouldnever be such again; I heard him implore the mercy of heaven for Jesus Christ's sake, and earnestly plead that he might bewashed in his blood. These arms saved that young man from the flood; I plunged in, brought the boat to shore, and saved hislife.That same young man has just now addressed you, and cursed his Maker. What say you to this, sirs!" The speaker sat down.You may guess what a shadow ran through the young man himself, and how the audience in one moment changed their notes, andsaw that after all, whilst it was a fine thing to brag and bravado against Almighty God on dry land, and when danger was distant,it was not quite so grand to think ill of him when near the verge of the grave. We believe there is enough conscience inevery man to convince him that God must punish him for his sin; therefore we think that our text will wake an echo inevery heart-"If he turn not, he will whet his sword."
I am tired of this terrible work of endeavouring to show you that God must punish sin; let me just utter a few of the declarationsof his Holy Word, and then let me tell you how repentance is to be obtained. O sirs! ye may think that the fire of hell isindeed a fiction, and that the flames of the nethermost pit are put popish dreams; but if ye are believers in the Bible yemust believe that it cannot be so. Did not our Master say, "Where the worm dieth not, and the fireis not quenched." You say it is metaphorical fire. But what meant he by this-"He is able to cast both body and soul intohell?" Is it not written, that there is reserved for the devil and his angels fearful torment? and do you not know that ourMaster said, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment;" "Depart, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for thedevil and his angels?" "Yes," you say, "but it is not philosophical to believe that there is a hell; it does not consort withreason to believe there is." However, I should like to act as if there were, even if there is no such place; for as thepoor and pious man once said, "Sir, I like to have two strings to my bow. If there should be no hell I shall be as well offas you will; but if there should, it will go hard with you." But why need I say "if?" You know there is. No man has been bornand educated in this land without having his conscience so far enlightened as to know that to be a truth. All I need to dois topress upon your anxious consideration this thought:-Do you feel that you are a fit subject for heaven now? Do you feelthat God has changed your heart and renewed your nature? If not, I beseech you lay hold of this thought, that unless you berenewed all that can be dreadful in the torments of the future world must inevitably be yours. Dear hearer, apply it to thyself,not to thy fellow-men, but to thine own conscience, and may God Almighty make use of it to bring thee to repentance.
III. Now briefly what are the MEANS of repentance? Most seriously I say, I do not believe any man can repent with evangelicalrepentance of himself. You ask me then to what purpose is the sermon I have endeavoured to preach, proving the necessity ofrepentance? Allow me to make the sermon of some purpose, under God, by its conclusion. Sinner! thou art so desperately seton sin, that I have no hope thou wilt ever turn from it of thyself. But listen! He who died on Calvaryis exalted on high "to give repentance and remission of sin." Dost thou this morning feel that thou art a sinner? If so,ask of Christ to give thee repentance, for he can work repentance in thine heart by his Spirit, though thou canst not workit there thyself. Is thy heart like iron? he can put it into the furnace of his love and make it melt. Is thy soul like thenether millstone? His grace is able to dissolve it like the ice is melted before the sun. He can make thee repent, thoughthoucanst not make thyself repent. If thou feelest thy need of repentance, I will not now say to thee "repent," for I believethere are certain acts that must precede a sense of repentance. I should advise you to go to your houses, and if you feelthat you have sinned, and yet cannot sufficiently repent of your transgressions, bow your knees before God and confess yoursins: tell him you cannot repent as you would; tell him your heart is hard; tell him it is as cold as ice. You can do thatif Godhas made you feel your need of a Saviour. Then if it should be laid to your heart to endeavour to seek after repentance,I will tell you the best way to find it. Spend an hour first in endeavouring to remember thy sins; and when conviction hasgotten a firm hold on thee, then spend another hour-where? At Calvary, my hearer. Sit down and read that chapter which containsthe history and mystery of the God that loved and died; sit down and think thou seest that glorious Man, with blood droppingfrom his hands, and his feet gushing rivers of gore; and if that does not make thee repent, with the help of God's Spirit,then I know of nothing that can. An old divine says, "If you feel you do not love God, love him till you feel you do: if youthink you cannot believe, believe till you feel you believe." Many a man says he cannot repent, while he is repenting. Keepon with that repentance, till you feel you have repented. Only acknowledge thy transgressions; confess thy guiltiness; ownthathe were just if he should destroy thee; and say this, solemnly-
My faith doth lay its hand
On that dear head of thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.
Oh! what would I give if one of my hearers should be blessed by God to go home and repent! If I had worlds to buy one of yoursouls, I would readily give them, if I might but bring one of you to Christ. I shall never forget the hour when I hope God'smercy first looked on me. It was in a place very different from this, amongst a despised people, in an insignificant littlechapel, of a peculiar sect. I went there bowed down with guilt; laden with transgression. The ministerwalked up the pulpit stairs, opened his Bible, and read that precious text, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the endsof the earth; for I am God, and beside me there is none else;" and, as I thought, fixing his eyes on me, before he began topreach to others, he said, "Young man! look! look! look! You are one of the ends of the earth; you feel you are; you knowyour need of a Saviour; you are trembling because you think he will never save you. He says this morning, 'Look!'" Oh, howmy soulwas shaken within me then! what! thought I, does that man know me, and all about me? He seemed as if he did. And it mademe "look!" Well, I thought, lost or saved, I will try; sink or swim, I will run the risk of it; and in that moment I hopeby his grace I looked upon Jesus, and though desponding, downcast, and ready to despair, and feeling that I could rather diethan live as I had lived, at that very moment it seemed as if a young heaven had had its birth within my conscience. I wenthome,no more cast down; those about me, noticing the change, asked me why I was so glad, and I told them that I had believedin Jesus, and that it was written, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk notafter the flesh, but after the Spirit." Oh! if one such should be here this morning! Where art thou, thou chief of sinners,thou vilest of the vile? My dear hearer, thou hast never been in the house of God perhaps these last twenty years; but herethou art,covered with thy sins, the blackest and vilest of all! Hear God's Word. "Come, now let us reason together, though yoursins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be white than snow." And all thisfor Jesus' sake; all this for his blood's sake! "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved;" for his word and mandateis, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned."
SINNER! TURN OR BURN!