Sermon 264. How Saints May Help the Devil
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, July 24th, 1859, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
"That thou mayest bear thing own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort untothem."-Ezekiel 16:54.
IT IS NOT a comfortable state to be at enmity with God, and the sinner knows this. Although he perseveres in his rebellionagainst the Most High, and turns not at the rebuke of the Almighty, but still goeth on in his iniquity, desperately seekinghis own destruction, yet is he aware in his own conscience that he is not in a secure position. Hence it is that all wickedmen are constantly on the look out for excuses. They find these either in pretended resolutions to reformat some future period, or else in the declaration that reformation is out of their power, and that, acting according totheir own nature, they must continue to go on in their iniquities. When a man is willing to find an excuse for being God'senemy he need never be at a loss. He who hath to find a fact may find some difficulty; but he who would forge a lie may sitat his own fireside and do it. Now, the excuses of sinners are all of them false; they are refuges of lies; and thereforewe neednot wonder that they are exceedingly numerous, and very easy to come at.
One way in which sinners frequently excuse themselves is by endeavoring to get some apology for their own iniquities fromthe inconsistencies of God's people. This is the reason why there is much slander in the world. A true Christian is a rebuketo the sinner, wherever he goes he is a living protest against the evil of sin. Hence it is that the worldling makes a deadset upon a pious man. His language in his heart is, "He accuses me to my face; I cannot bear the sight ofhis holy character; it makes the blackness of my own life appear the more terrible, when I see the whiteness of his innocencecontrasting with it." And then the worldling opens all his eyes, and labors to find a fault with the virtuous. If, however,he fails to do so, he will next try to invent a fault; he will slander the man; and if even there he fails, and the man islike Job, "perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil;" then the sinner will, like the devil of old, beginto impute some wrong motive to the Christian's innocency. "Doth Job serve God for nought?" said the devil. He could findno fault with Job whatever, his character was untainted and unblemished; but, says he, "he keeps to his religion for whathe gets by it." I reckon it to be a glorious accusation when we are falsely charged with being religious for the sake of gain.It shows that our enemies have no other charge that they can bring against us. They have ransacked all the flies of theircalumny, and they can find nothing tangible, and this is the last they can bring-an imputation upon the motive of theman who has no other motive in all the world than to glorify his God and win sinners from destruction. In this, then, letus glory. If sinners slander us, it is because we make them uneasy. They see that our lives are a protest against them: andwhat can they do? They must somehow or other answer the Bill which we have filed against them in Heaven's Chancery, and theydo it byissuing a Rejoinder against us, and bringing us in as defendants in the case. We glory in this, that we are defendantswho can prove our innocence, and we are not ashamed to stand before the her of God to have our motives tried. There is muchI say to cheer us in the fact of such a libel. We know the work is done. We are sure our shots have told on their armor, whenthey are driven to return on us their calumnies and the venom of their wrath. Now we know that they feel the might of ourarm, nowwe know we are not like them, mere drivellings and dwarfs. They have felt our might, and against it they kick, they foam,they forth their wrath. In this, I say, we glory. We have smitten them hard, or else they would not rise against us in thisfashion.
Alas! alas! however, sinners have not always to use calumny and lies. It is too true that the church has given a real bona fide cause to the wicked for excusing themselves in their sin: the inconsistencies of professors, the want of heart in piety,the absence of devout earnestness, have given sad grounds to the ungodly to justify themselves in their sin. It is upon thismelancholy subject that I am about to enter this morning; and may God grant unto all his peoplewho shall feel convicted in their consciences, the spirit of mourning and contrition, that they may vex themselves beforeGod, and confess this great iniquity that they have done, namely, that they have comforted sinners in their sin by their owninconsistency, and have justified the wicked in their rebellion by their own rebellings and revoltings.
This morning I shall deal thus with the subject. First, I shall point out the fact-the different acts of Christians which have helped to comfort sinners in their sin; and then, secondly, I shall observe the consequences of this evil-how much the world at large has been injured by the deeds of professed followers of Christ; and then I shall come with a solemn warning, bringing out the great battering ram, to dash against these refuges of lies andmoreover crying with a loud voice to those who are the faithful servants of Christ, to withdraw their hands, and no longerto assist in keeping up the Jericho in which the wicked have entrenched themselves.
I. First, then, it shall be my sad and melancholy business this morning to show certain facts which it were dishonest to deny,namely, that THE ACTS OF MANY OF CHRIST'S FOLLOWERS HAVE BEEN THE CAUSE OF JUSTIFYING AND COMFORTINGS SINNERS IN THEIR EVILWAYS.
1. And first I would observe, that the daily inconsistencies of the people of God have much to do in this matter. By inconsistenciesI do not exactly mean those grosser crimes into which, at sad and mournful periods, many professors fall; but I mean thosefrequent inconsistencies which become so common indeed that they are scarcely condemned by society.
The covetousness of too many Christians has had this offset. "Look," says the worldling, "this man professes that his inheritance is above,and that his affection is set not on things on earth, but on the things of heaven but look at him, he is just as earnest asI am about the things of this world; he can drive the screw home as tightly with his debtor as I can; he can scrape and cutwith those that deal with him quite as keenly as ever I have done." Nay, beloved,this is not a mere tale; alas! I have seen persons held up to commendation as successful merchants, whose lives will notbear the test of Scripture, whose business transactions were as hard as griping, as grasping, as the transactions of the mostworldly. How often has it happened that some of you have bent your knee in the sanctuary, and have said, "Forgive us our debts,as we forgive our debtors," and one hour afterwards your finger has been almost meeting your thumb through the jugular veinof some debtor whom you had seized by the throat! The church of Christ appears to be as worldly as the world itself, andprofessors of religion have become as sharp in trade and as ungenerous in their dealing as those that have never been baptisedinto the Lord Jesus, and have never professed to serve him. And now what does the world say? It throws this in our teeth.If it be accused of loving the things of time and sense, it answers, "And so do you." If we tell the world that it has setitshopes upon a shadow, it replica, "But we have set our hope upon the self-same thing in which you are trusting; you areas worldly, as grasping, as covetous as we are; your protest has lost its force; you are no longer witnesses against us-weare accusers of you."
Another point in which the sinner often excuses himself is the manifest worldliness of many Christians. You will see Christian men and women as fond of dress, and as pleased with the frivolities of the age,as any other persons possibly could be, just as anxious to adorn their outward persons, so as to be seen of men; just as ambitiousto win the praise which fools accord to fine dressing, as the most silly fop or the most gaudy among worldly women. What saiththeworld, when we turn round to it, and accuse it of being a mere butterfly, and finding all its pleasures in gaudy toys?"Oh! yes," it says, "we know your cant, but it is just the same with you." Do you not stand up and sing,
"Jewels to me are gaudy toys,
And gold but sordid dust?"
And yet you are just as fond of glittering as we are; your doctors of divinity pride themselves just as much in their D.D.as any of us in other titles. You are Just as punctillious about terms of honor as any of us can be. You talk about carryingthe cross; but we do not see it anywhere, except it be a golden cross sometimes hanging on your bosom. You say you are crucifiedto the world, and the world to you: it is a very merry sort of crucifixion. You say that you mortifyyour members and deny yourselves: your mortification must be suffered in secret, for it is but very little that we cansee of it! Thus the worldling casts back to our challenge, declaring that we are not sincere, and thus he comforts himselfa his sin, and justifies himself in his iniquity,
Look, too, at the manifest pride of many professors of religion. You see members of Christian churches as proud as they possibly can be. Their backs are asstiff as if an iron rod were in the center, they come up to the house of God, and it is a Christian doctrine that God hasmade of one flesh all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth, but the Christian is as aristocratic as anybody else,just as proud and just as stiff. Is the Christian clothed in broadcloth? How often does be feel it a condescension to own a smock frock! and how often do you see a sister of Christ insatin, who thinks it something wonderful if she owns a fellow-member in an unwashable print. It is of no use denying it. Ido not think that the evil is so common amongst us as it is in some churches; but this I know, that there are respectable churches and chapels in which a poor man scarcely dares to show his face. The pride of the church surely has become almostasgreat as the pride of Sodom of old. Her fullness of bread and her stiffness of neck hath brought her to exalt herself;and whereas it is the real glory of the church that "the poor have the gospel preached unto them," and that the poor havereceived the Word with gladness, it becomes now the honor of the church to talk of her respectability of the dignity and stationof her members, and of the greatness of her wealth. What, then, do worldlings say? "You accuse us of pride, you are as proudaswe are. You the humble followers of Jesus, who washed his saints' feet? Not you; no, you would have no objection, we doubtnot to be washed by others, but we do not think it likely that you would ever wash ours. You the disciples of the fishermen of Galilee? Not you; you are too fine and great for that. Accuse us not of pride: why, youare as stiff-necked a generation, as we ourselves are."
Now, these are only mentioned amongst us as inconsistencies-not as sins. Sins they verily are; and they are such sins thatthey restrain the Spirit of God from blessing the church. Sins, too, they are that render the wicked callous in their sins,blunt the edge of our rebukes, and prevents the Word of God from working in the hearts of men.
I might mention another sad fact with regard to the church, which often stings us sorely,-the various enmities, and strifes, and divisions, that arise. You tell the worldly man that Christians love each other. "Ah!" says he, "you should go over to Ebenezer or toRehoboth, and see how they love each other. Don't talk of leading a cat and dog life! Look at many of your churches; see howthe minister is treated, and how the deacons are in arms, and howthe members hate one another. They can scarcely hold a church meeting without abusing each other!" How often is this provedto be true in many churchesl And then the worldling says, "You tell us that we bite and devour each other, and that our warsand fightings come from our lusts. Where do your wars and fightings is come from? You tell us that our anger and wrath arethe effect of sin that dwelleth in us: what causes your divisions and your strifes?" In this way, you see, the testimony ofthechildren of God is rendered invalid, and we help to comfort sinners in their sins.
2. Now it is my mournful duty to go a step further. It is not merely these inconsistencies, but the glaring crimes of someprofessed disciples, thee have greatly assisted sinners in sheltering themselves from the attacks of the Word of God. Everynow and then the cedar falls in the midst of the forest. Some one who stood prominent in the church of God, as a professedfollower of Jesus, turns aside. "They go out from us because they were not of us; for if they had been ofus, doubtless, they would have continued with us, but they went out from us, that it might be manifest that they werenot of us." We have wept over high professors becoming drunkards; we have seen mighty men at religious public meetings becomingscoundrel bankrupts. We have had it dashed in our faces, dozens of times, that religion how often become a cloak for fraud,and that when the world has trusted a religious man with its wealth, that religious man has carried it off with him, and hasnotbeen found at the proper time. Oh! this is the great curse of the church. I was thinking only yesterday, with much sorrowin my heart, of the present age, and I could not but come to the conclusion, that all the burnings of Pagan tyrants, thatall the tortures of Popish executioners, that all the bloody deaths to which God's people were ever put, in any one age ofthe world, have never done so much hurt to the cause of Christ as the inconsistencies of professors of the present time. Itwasabout three years ago I think, that failures among religious men seemed to be the order of the day, and our papers literallyteemed with accusations against the church of God. O my brethren, let us not talk of these things, except with mourning andtears. Wrap thyself in sackcloth, O church of God; put away thy laughter, and cast ashes on thine head, for the crown of thyglory is departed, thy garments are stained, and the filthiness of thy skirts witnesses against thee. O church of Christ,thyNazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, but now their visage is blacker than a coal, and their handsare defiled with iniquity. Remember thou the time of thy purity, when thy priests were glorious, and thy sons and daughterswere clothed in royal apparel. How art thou fallen! how art thou cast down from the high mountains! Thy princes are clothedin rags; the veils are plucked from the face of thy daughters, and thou thyself art become disconsolate and a widow, by reasonofthe iniquity of thy sons and of thy daughters. Woe unto us, for thy glory is departed, thy sun is covered with thick darkness,and thy stars withhold their light. The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us that we have sinned.
My hearers, my soul has carried me away; breathless and panting I return to my humbler but not less earnest style. Rememberhow vast your powers for mischief! Your ministers may preach as long as they will; but you undo their preaching if you areunholy. If you are inconsistent in your lives, Paul, Apollos, and Cephas might preach with power; but they have not half thepower to build up that you have to pull down. You are the mightiest workmen ye professors of religion;you can undo infinitely more than we can accomplish.
And now I pause, and relieve the shadow of this subject with something which, I fear, is in the sight of God equally vile.How often do the people of God comfort sinners in their sins by their murmurings and their complaints? Oh beloved, we aretoo much in the habit of covering our faces with sadness, on account of our temporal trials, and too little in the habit ofweeping on account of the failings of the church of God! Hour frequently do you meet with a true Christianfull of unbelieving cares! Ah! he says, "All these things are against me." He has food and raiment, but he is not contentwith it; he has more than that, but his store is a little diminished, and he is very cast down, and he has no faith, and cannottrust the Lord. "Oh!" says the worldling, "see these Christians; they talk about faith, but their faith is not of half somuch service to them, as my desperation is to me that hardens my heart, and makes me stand up against affliction a great dealbetter than their faith in God's providence can do. Why, just look at these saints:-a drivelling set of crying creatures,they never have either peace or joy; they are everlastingly pulling long faces, and talking through their noses, about theirsad trials and troubles; they never have an hour of happiness. Who would be a Christian? I don't want to be converted," says the worldling. "Why should I pluck out the sunbeam from my eye, and take the smile frommy brow? Why should I professto follow a God whose servants only worship him by weeping, and never offer any sacrifice but that of groans, and sighs,and murmurs?" Might not a wicked man come in often, when Christians are grumbling together about the badness of the times,about the high price of commodities, and the low rate of wages, and so forth; and might he not say, "Yes, I can see your Godtreats you very badly; if I were you I'd strike, and have nothing to do with him?" And he would go away laughing, and saying,"Ah!Baal treats me better; I get more pleasure in this world than these Christian people do. Let them have their brave heavento themselves, if they like; I'm not going snivelling through this world with them; let me have joy and rejoicing while Imay." Don't you think that in this way you and I have done a world of damage to the cause of Christ, and may have helped tocomfort sinners in their iniquities?
One other point, and I will have done with this. Perhaps the greatest evil has been done by the coldheartedness, and indifferenceof religious professors. I charge thee not, O church of God, with inconsistency; I lay no crime at thy door now; it is withanother fault I charge thee-one as grievous these. I pray thee, plead guilty to it, for thou wilt but speak the truth, andthen I pray God that this thy guilt may be cleansed, and that thou mayest offend him no longerwith this thine evil. The church of God at the present age, is cold and lukewarm, and lifeless, compared with what itused to be. When I was preaching in Wales this week, I could not but observe the power which attended the ministry, when therewas a living congregation and an earnest company gathered together to hear the Word of God. We have become accustomed to sitin a kind of solemn silence to hear the gospel. Not so in Wales. There is to be heard the voice of acclamation; every personexpresses the feelings of his soul in audible prayers and cries to God; and at last, when the Spirit has descended, youhear the loud cries of "Gogoniant,"-"Glory to God." As each precious sentence drops from the lips of the preacher, it seemsto be taken up and fed upon by the people, while they shout aloud for joy. I believe it is a great improvement on our Englishcongregations, and some of our English preachers could not go on in their dull style, if sometimes the people had a chanceofeither hissing them or cheering them on. That, however, is but an index of the cold state of the churches. We are a phlegmatic,cold nation; even Scotch divines are more alive than we are, they speak the Word of God with more earnestness than many ofour ministers do in England. Cold as we think the north is, yet hath even it become warmer than we are. And now what saysthe world to all our coldness? Why, it says-"Ah, this is the kind of religion we like," says the worldling; "we don't likethose raving Methodists; we can't stand them; we don't like those earnest indefatigable Christians of the cars of Whitfield;oh! no, they were a raving set of folks; we don't like them; but we like these quiet folks." "Yes," says the worldling, "Ithink it is quite right that every man should go to his church and his chapel on a Sunday; but I never could go and hear suchraving as Mr. So-and-so gives." Of course you could not; you are an enemy to God, and that is why you like a Laodiceanchurch. That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors. The world says, "We like everythingto go on smoothly; we like a man to go to his own parish church, and hear a good, solid, substantial sermon read; we like to go up to the meeting house, and hear a sober, eloquent divine; we don't like any of this furious preaching, anyof these earnest exhortations." No, of course you like that of which God has said, "Thou art neither cold nor hot;" God hatessuch, and that is why sinners love it. But what effect does all this have upon the worldling? Why, just this. He says,"I like you, because you don't rebuke me; I like that kind of religion, because it is no accusation against me. When I seea Christian hot and in earnest about being saved," he says, "it rebukes my own indifference; but when I see a professed Christianjust as indifferent about the salvation of men as I am, why, then I say, it is all a farce, nonsense! they don't mean it,theminister does not care a bit about whether souls are saved or not, and as for the church, they make a great, deaf of noiseevery now and then at Exeter Hall, about saving some poor blacks far away, but they don't care about saving us." And so aworldling wraps himself up, and goes on his way in his sin and his iniquity, and perseveres, even to the last declaring allthe while that religion is but a sham, because he sees us careless in solemn matters, and cold concerning everlasting realities.
Thus I have, mournfully in my own soul, set forth the plan whereby Satan comforts sinners in their sins, even by means ofthose who ought most sternly to rebuke them.
II. And now for the second point-THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS EVIL. And here I wish to speak very pointedly and personally toall of you who are professors of religion, and I do hope that you will take every point to yourself, in which you must feelthat you have been and are guilty.
Friends, how often have you and I, in the first place, helped to keep sinners easy in their sin, by our inconsistency! Hadwe been true Christians, the wicked man would often have been pricked to the heart, and his conscience would have convictedhim; but having been unfaithful and untrue, he has been able to sleep on quietly, without any disturbance from us. Do younot think, my dear brothers and sisters, that you have each been guilty here?-that you have often helpedto pacify the wicked in their rebellion against God? I must confess myself that I am guilty. I have labored to escapefrom the sin, but I am not clean delivered from it. I pray each one of you, make a full confession before God, if by yoursilence, when sin has been committed before your eyes, or by a smile, when a lascivious joke has been told in your hearing,or if by a constant indifference to the cause of Christ you have led sinners to sleep more securely in the bed of their iniquities.
But to go further still. Do you not think that very often, when a sinner's conscience has been roused, you and I have helpedto give it a soporific draught by our coldness of heart, "Hush! Master Conscience," says the sinner, but he will not be still,but cries aloud, "Repent, repent." And then you, a professing Christian pass try, and you administer the laudanum draughtof your indifference and the sinner's conscience falls back again into its slumber, and the reproofthat might have been useful is entirely lost upon him. I am sure that this is one of the great crying sins of the church,that we are not now the witnesses of God, as we should be, but often quiet the witness of conscience in the souls of men.Look now to your lives-I am speaking personally to each one-look at yesterday, and the days that went before, and I ask you,and I solemnly charge you to answer that question, Have you not often assisted, in the first place, to keep men's consciencesquiet, and afterwards to send them to sleep when they have been aroused?
Further; is it not possible that often sinners have been strengthened in their sin by you? They were but beginning in iniquity,and had you rebuked with honesty and sincerity, by your own holy life, they might have been led to see their folly and mighthave ceased from sin; but you have strengthened their hands. They have gone forward confidently, because they have said, "See,a church member leads the way." "So-and-so is not more scrupulous than I," says such an one; "Imay do what he does" And so you have helped to strengthen sinners in their sins.
Nay, is it not possible that some of you Christians have helped to confirm men in their sins and to destroy their souls? Itis a master-piece of thy devil, when he can use Christ's own soldiers against Christ. But this he has often done. I have knownmany a case. Let me tell a story of a minister-one which I believe to be true and which convicts myself, and therefore I tellit with the hope that it may also waken your consciences and convict you too. There was a youngminister once preaching very earnestly in a certain chapel, and he had to walk some four or five miles to his home alonga country road after service. A young man, who had been deeply impressed under the sermon, requested the privilege of walkingwith the minister, with an earnest hope that he might get an opportunity of telling out his feelings to him, and obtainingsome word of guidance or comfort. Instead of that, the young minister all the way along told the most singular tales to thosewhowere with him, causing loud roars of laughter, and even relating tales which bordered upon the indecorous. He stoppedat a certain house, and this young man with him, and the whole evening was spent in frivolity and foolish talking. Some yearsafter, when the minister had grown old, he was sent for to the bedside of a dying man. He hastened thither with a heart desirousto do good. He was requested to sit down at the bedside and the dying man, looking at him, and regarding him most closely,said to him, "Do you remember preaching in such-and-such a village on such an occasion?" "I do," said the minister. "Iwas one of your hearers," said the man, "and I was deeply impressed by the sermon." "Thank God for that," said the minister."Stop!" said the man, "don't thank God till you have heard the whole story; you will have reason to alter your tone beforeI have done." The minister changed countenance, but he little guessed what would be the full extent of that man's testimony.Saidhe, "Sir, do you remember, after you had finished that earnest sermon, I with some others walked home with you? I wassincerely desirous of being led in the right path that night; but I heard you speak in such a strain of levity, and with somuch coarseness too, that I went outside the house, while you were sitting down to your evening meal; l stamped my foot uponthe ground; I said that you were a liar, that Christianity was a falsehood, that it you could pretend to be so in earnestabout itin the pulpit, and then come down and talk like that, the whole thing must be a sham; and I have been an infidel," saidhe, "a confirmed infidel, from that day to this. But I am not an infidel at this moment. I know better; I am dying, and Iam about to be damned; and at the bar of God I will lay my damnation to your charge; my blood is one your head;"-and witha dreadful shriek, and one demoniacal glance at the trembling minister, he shut his eyes and died. Is it not possible thatwe mayhave been guilty thus? The bare idea would make the flesh creep on our bones; and yet I think there are few among us whomust not say, "That has been my fault, after all." But are there not enough traps, in which to catch souls, without your being made Satan's fowlers to do misehief? Hath not Satan legions enough of devils to murder men, without employing you?Are there no hands that may be red with the blood of souls beside yours? O followers of Christ! O believers in Jesus! Willyeserve under the black prince? Will ye fight against your Master? Will ye drag sinners down to hell? Shall we-(I take myself in here, more truly than any of you)-shall we, who profess to preach the gospel of Christ, by our conversation injure and destroy men's souls?
III. Thus I think I have expounded the solemn consequences of this fearful evil. And now I come, in conclusion, and I prayGod to help me, while I deal earnestly, and solemnly with you, AND BRING OUT THIS GREAT BATTERING RAM, TO BEAR AGAINST THISVAIN EXCCUSE OF THE WICKED.
Among this great congregation, I have doubtless a very large number of persons who are not converted to God, and who havecontinually made this their excuse, "I see so much of the inconsistency of professors that I do not intend to think aboutreligion myself." My hearer, I conjure thee by the living God, give me thine ear a moment, while I pull this vain excuse ofthine to pieces. What hast thou to do with the inconsistencies of another? "To his own master he shall standor fall." What will it better thee, if one half of all the professors of religions be sent to hell? What comfort willthat be to thee, when thou shalt come there thyself? Man, will God require the sins of other people at thine hands? Whereis it said that God will punish thee for what another does? Or dost thou imagine that God will reward thee because anotheris guilty? Thou art surely not foolish enough for that. I ask thee, what canst thou have to do with another's servant? Thatman is aservant of God, or at least professes to be; if he be not so, what busines can it possibly be of thine? If thou shouldstsee twenty men drinking poison, would that be a reason why thou shouldst drink it? If, passing over London Bridge, thou shouldstsee a dozen miserable creatures leaping off the parapet, there would be a good argument why thou thyself shouldst seek tostop them, but no argument why thou shouldst leap too. What if there be hundreds of suicides? will that excuse thee, if thoushalt shed thine own blood? Do men plead thus in courts of law? Does a man say, "O Judge, excuse me for having been athief, there are so many hundreds of men that profess to be honest that are as big thieves as I?" Thou wilt be punished forthine own offenses, remember not for the offenses of another. Man! I conjure thee, look this in the face. How can this helpto assuage thy misery? How can this help to make thee happier in hell, because thou sayest there are so many hypocrites inthisworld?
But, besides, thou knowest well enough that the church is not so bad as thou sayest it is. Thou seest some that are inconsistent;but are there not many that are holy? Dost thou dare to say there are none? I tell thee, man, thou art a fool. There are manybad coins in the world, many counterfeits; do you, therefore, say there are no good ones? If you say so, you are mad; forthe very fact that there are counterfeits is a proof that there must be realities. Would any manthink it worth his while to make bad sovereigns if there were no good ones? It is just the quantity of good ones thatpasses off the few false coins. And so no man would pretend to be a Christian unless there were some good Christians. Therewould be no hypocrites if there were not some true men. It is the quantity of true, men that helps to pass off the hypocritein the crowd.
And then again, I say, when thou comest before the bar of God, dost thou think that this will serve thee as an excuse, tobegin to find fault with God's own children? Suppose you were brought before a king, an absolute monarch, and you should beginto say, by way of appeal, "O king, I have been guilty, it is true, but your own sons and daughters I do not like; there area great many faults in the princes of the blood." Would he not say, "Wretch! thou art adding insult towickedness; thou art guilty thyself, and now thou dost malign mine own children, the princes of the blood?" The Lord willnot have thee say that at last. He has pardoned his children; he is ready to pardon thee. He sends mercy to thee this day,but if thou reject it, imagine not that thou shalt escape by recounting the sins of the pardoned ones. The rather this shallbe an addition to thy sin, and thou shalt perish the more fearfully.
But come, man, once again: I would entreat of thee with all my might. What! canst thou be so foolish as to imagine, that becauseanother man is destroying his own soul by hypocrisy, that this is a reason why thou shouldet destroy thine by indifference?If there be thousands of untrue Christians, so much the more reason why I should be a true one: if there are hundreds of hypocrites,this should make me more earnest to search myself, and should not make me indifferent aboutthe matter. O sinner! thou wilt soon be on thy dying bed, and will it comfort thee there to think, "I have rejected Christ,I have despised salvation, I am perishing in my sins," and to add, "But there are many Christians who are hypocrites!" No,death will tear away that excuse. That will not serve you. And when the heavers are in a blaze, when the pillars of the earthshall reel, when God shall came on flying clouds to judge the children of men, when the eternal eyes are fixed upon you, andlike burning lamps are enlightning the secret parts of your belly, will you then be able to make this an excuse-"GoodGod! it is true,I have damned myself, it is true, I have wilfully transgressed; but there were many hypocrites?" Then shallthe Judge say, "What hast thou to do with that? Thou hadst nought to do, to interfere with my kingdom and with my judgeship;for thine own offenses thou art lost; for thine own rejection of Christ thou shalt perish everlastingly."
And now I conclude, by addressing the people of God with equal solemnity and earnestness.
My dear hearers, if I could weep tears of blood this morning, I could not show too much emotion concerning this most solemnpoint. I do not know that this text ever struck me before yesterday, but I no sooner noticed it than it came home to me asan accusation. I plead guilty to it, and I pray for forgiveness. I only wish that a like power may attend it to you, thatyou may feel that you have been guilty too. O friends, can you bear the thought that you may have helped todrag others down to hell? Christ has loved you and pardoned your sins; and will you push others downward? And yet if youare inconsistent, and especially if you are cold and lukewarm in your religion, you are doing it. "Well," says one, "I don'tdo much good, but I do no hurt." That is an impossibility. You must be either doing good or evil. There is no borderland betweentruth and sin; a men must be either on land or in the water; and you are either serving God or serving Satan; each day youare increasing your Master's kingdom, or else diminishing it. I cannot bear the thought that any of you should be employedin Satan's camp. Suppose there ever should be an invasion of this country by France. The tocsin rings from every church steeple,the drum is sounding in every street, and men are gathering at every market-cross. Peaceful men spring up to soldiers in aninstant; and multitudes are marching away to the coast. When we come near it we behold a troop of soldiers who have climbedour white cliffs, and with bayonets fixed they are marching against us. We, with a tremendous cheer, rush on against them,to drive them back into the sea which girds our beloved country. Suddenly, as we rush forward, we detect scores of Englishmenmarching in the same ranks with our foes, and seeking to ravage their own country. What should we say? Seize these traitors;let not one of them escape; put them all to death. Can Englishmen take the side of England's enemies? Can theymarch against our hearths and homes, betray their fatherland, and take the side of the tyrant Emperor? Can this be? Thenlet them die the death!" And yet this day I behold a more mournful spectacle yet. There is King Jesus marching at the headof his troops; and can it be that some of you, who profess to be his followers, are on the other side; that professing tobe Christ's you are lighting in the ranks of the enemy-carrying the baggage of Satan and wearing the uniform of hell, whenyouprofess to be soldiers of Christ? I know there are such here: God forgive them! God spare them; and may the desertersyet come back, even though they come back in the chains of conviction! May they come back and be saved! O brethren and sisters,there are enough to destroy souls without us-enough to extend the kingdom of Satan without our helping him. "Come out fromamong them; touch not the unclean thing; be ye separate." Church of God! awake, awake, awake to the salvation of men! Sleepnolonger, begin to pray, to wrestle, to travail in birth; be more holy, more consistent, more strict, more solemn in thydeportment! Begin, O soldiers of Christ, to be more true to your colors, and as surely as the time shall come when the churchshall thus be reformed and revived, to surely shall the King come into our midst, and we shall march on to certain victory,trampling down our enemies, and getting to our King many crowns, through many victories achieved.