Sermon 327. Vessels Of Mercy-A Sermon Of Self-Examination
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, AUGUST 5, 1860, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.
"And that He might make known the riches of His Glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,even us, whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles."
IT is with no view to controversy that I have selected this text, but for a far higher and more practical purpose, namely,that by this Truth of God, many of us may search ourselves, and that we may be able to discover whether we have any of themarks of the vessels of mercy which God has prepared beforehand for glory. We must take the next verse to complete our text-"evenus, whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles."
The context invites us to visit the potter's house. There, in the workshop, you perceive sundry vessels in process of formation.The wheel is revolving, and from it you see continually taken, vessels of an ignoble sort, fitted only for the very meanestpurposes. On the other hand, from the same clay you see produced vessels that might grace the palace of a king-vessels ofhonor fit for honorable purposes. We now conduct you to a greater workshop-to the Great Potter's house of Providence. Continuallyrevolving is the wheel of circumstances; men, like masses of clay, are placed upon it, but they are not all fashioned alike.There are some men who are evidently to the casual observer, vessels not adapted for the high and honorable occupations ofHeaven and glory. There are men who, every time the wheel revolves, become worse in character and more depraved in mind; thereare men who, by the very Providence which is blessed to others, become more complete adepts in iniquity and masters in crime.On the other hand, with pleasure you may perceive that on the same wheel there are some vessels, which, touched by the skillfulhand of the Great Potter, are being daily more and more finished and completed and you can soon perceive that they are notof the same sort as those we have just now passed by. They are intended for higher uses and nobler purposes. In fact, theyare preparing to stand at last, in the midst of Paradise, the glorious trophies of the skill and power of the Great Maker!
As my sermon is intended to be practical and not controversial, I shall solemnly invite each hearer to tremble lest he shouldbelong to the reprobate and abandoned vessels of wrath. I speak with the deepest sorrow when I ask the question, with theprobability, no, the almost certainty that it must be answered in the affirmative. Are there not some of you, here present,who are being fitted for destruction? God is not fitting you, you are fitting yourselves, by daily developing and indulgingthe depravity of your heart. You are seeking out every new pleasure and every new sin, and though often warned to turn fromyour course of evil, are there not some of you who are rushing headlong to destruction? Are not many of you, by a course ofsin and folly, ripening yourselves for the great harvest of the Lord? Are you not making yourselves ready to be as stubblefully dried, cast into the oven of His wrath? This is not to be laid to the charge of God, but at your own door, the guiltmust be! If you perish-any one of you-on your own head shall be your blood! The eternal God is not guilty of the murder ofmen's souls-they who die and sink in Hell are suicides-they have rejected mercy, they have despised the Savior, they havechosen sin and hated holiness. As was their choice, such is their portion! As was their rebellious will on earth, such mustbe their tormented destiny forever. Oh, if I could see with an infallible glance, the hearts and consciences of all present,might I not, as I cast my eyes along these seats, say of such an one, and of such an one-even in the judgment of charity-"thatman is preparing for destruction?" His crimes demand punishment, his spirit is of such a character that he requires to dwellforever at a distance from God! His will is so headstrong, his intentions so obstinate, his passion so desperate, that everyonemay see with half an eye, that he is preparing to dwell forever where bliss and even hope, are everlasting strangers!
O my dear Brothers and Sisters, what shall I say to you? How shall I preach to you? You are filling up the measure of youriniquity, and preparing with all diligence to be fitting companions for the devils in Hell! It needs a tender heart, and anearnest voice, to address such as you are! Permit me to speak to you in the language of Scripture. Why will you die, O houseof Israel, why will you hug the pleasures of sin-pleasures which you know must be followed by the torments of eternity? Whywill you put from you the hope of life? Why will you reject the Savior? It will be an awful thing, you who are vessels ofmirth, when you shall be filled with wrath! You who are now vessels of pleasure, and vessels of pride-it will be a dreadfulthing when God shall fill you to the brim with misery, and you shall be overflowing with His anger! Oh Lord, we beseech You,undo the sinner's work! Great Potter, reverse the wheel, re-mold the clay, break in pieces the old vessel that is preparingto be a drinking cap for Satan! Melt it down and refashion it, and bring it forth again upon the wheel, and touch it withYour own hands, and make it yet a vessel for honor, fitted for the Master's use!
And now I have a more pleasing task of turning immediately to our text, and considering the character of those who, on theother hand, are the "vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom he called, not of the Jewsonly, but also of the Gentiles." There are three things we will look at this morning. First, the vessels. Secondly, the Potterat His work And then, the Potter's stamp which is set upon the vessels-the stamp of Divine calling, which marks them as beingthe vessels of mercy.
I. First, then, let us look upon the saints of God as here described, under the title of VESSELS OF MERCY.
1. And the first thing we observe here is that, as vessels of mercy it is distinctly said that they are made of the same lumpas the vessels of wrath. The same piece of clay from which the vessel of wrath is fashioned may be used by God to also makea vessel of mercy. Oh, dear Brothers and Sisters! You who have hope of Heaven hereafter, and a foretaste of it even now-lookback to the hole of the pit from where you were dug, to the miry clay from where you were drawn! There was nothing in youby nature better than that which is found in any other man! You did lie in the impure mass of fallen creatureship, and ifGod has made you a vessel of mercy, it was not because there was anything in you that could merit esteem! There was no fitness,no natural adaptation in you to become what you are. You are a miracle of His love and of His distinguishing Grace! Had Heleft you to yourself, you had been as base and vile as others in your life; you had been as despairing, and as Christlessas others in your death; you would have been as surely damned in eternity as the man who has descended into the pit of Hell,red with the blood of many a murdered one! Remember, you were in the loins of Adam, in the loins which begat a Judas! Youare a son of the same mother Eve, who conceived and brought into the world, Cain the murderer, and of Demas who forsook theLord, and of Judas who sold Him for 30 pieces of silver. You know, too, in your own experience, that your temper is as evil,your disposition as vile, and your tendency as hellish as that of any man who has perished upon the gallows! If there is adifference in you, the difference is of God's Grace, and not of nature. This very morning you have had in your own soul aproof that you are taken from the old block, and are but a shred from the leprous rag of fallen humanity!
My dear Hearers, have you learned this Truth of God in your souls? I know there are some who will not believe that you aredepraved. You cannot be brought to think that youare as fallen as the worst of men; you set yourselves up with pride, pretendingto believe that there is something in you better than is to be found in the criminal or the profligate. I give you but littlehope that you are a child of God if you have never learned this Truth of God! I find that God's elect, here, are of the samelump as the chief of sinners, and if you are of a different lump, it argues that you are not one of the chosen people of God.All God's people must learn, as surely as ever Grace teaches them, that they are vile. Christians may differ in a thousanddoctrines, but they never differ in this one point. We all believe, and we are all compelled to confess, that our nature isvile from its original-evil-only evil and that continually! If there is any good in any of us, we all acknowledge it is thework of Divine Grace, and not the fruit of creature strength, nor an emanation from our depraved hearts. I pray God that youmay learn this lesson, and if you have learned it, let it not discourage you, but rather give you hope! As you look upon yourselvesand say, "I see that I am of the old stock," lift up your eyes to the God of All Grace, and cry, "O Great Potter! Though Iam of the old clay, yet fashion me by Your Grace, and make me a vessel of mercy prepared for glory."
2. Further, it appears both from the text and the context, that these vessels of mercy were as much as any other portion ofthe clay, entirely in the Potter's hands. Had the Potter willed to leave that mass of clay alone, and let it revolve uponthe wheel untouched by His gracious hands, or surrendered to the tools of Satan and his craft-if, I say, the Great Potterhad left you or me, who are vessels of mercy to ourselves, we should have been vessels of wrath most surely! Jehovah mighthave done this if He had willed to do so, and there would have been no power in us to fit ourselves for Heaven. Hell's thistlesgrow self-sown, but God's wheat needs a Husbandman. Vessels of mercy fit themselves for destruction, but God's Grace, alone,can prepare a soul for glory. There is no reason in the world why any man should be saved apart from the Sovereign and distinguishingGrace of God. If the Lord had permitted the whole human race to perish, He would have been infinitely just, and throughouteternity the angels would have hymned Him in songs of adoration. If He had chosen to spare a few of mankind, the sparing ofbut a few would have been an act of surprising mercy-and mercy and judgment would have constituted the two elements of theeternal song! Inasmuch however, as He has taken so much of the clay, and has been pleased to make innumerable vessels of mercyas the stars of Heaven, unto His name be all the Glory forever and ever! Take heed that when you think of the number of theredeemed, you do not mar the idea that God is still a Sovereign. Had He saved but one, you would have said it was an instanceof absolute Sovereignty-though He has saved tens of thousands, the Sovereignty is just as absolute as it was before. Had theLord left you to become all that your evil nature and Satan could have made you, you could not have murmured. If He had permittedyou to go on in your drunkenness without sending the Gospel to you; if He had allowed you to reject that Gospel as you wouldhave done unless He had compelled you to receive it-you could not have impugned His Justice- even though you might have murmuredat it. You have been made what you are, not as the result of any compulsion of merit demanding a debt from the Lord, nor byany effort of your own-you are what you are as the effect of the Sovereign discriminating love of God the Father in ChristJesus our Lord!
Now let me ask my hearers again, have you learned this Truth of God? Have you learned how entirely you lie in God's hands?Have you ever been brought, my Hearer, to believe that if saved, it must be His will that saves you, though if lost it isyour will that damns you? Have you ever been stripped so naked, so thoroughly naked, that you have said, "I have no claimupon God. If He saves me, it must be mercy, pure mercy, unmingled mercy"? Oh, if you have never been brought here, I tremblefor you! I pray the Lord to bring you to this spot, for it is the very threshold of the door of Divine Grace. And when a manis brought here, he is not far from the Kingdom of God! Be it so with each of us, that we may acknowledge the Sovereigntyand then admire Grace in the Sovereignty.
3. But to proceed. The text speaks of God's chosen ones as being "vessels." Now as we all know, a vessel is nothing but areceiver. A vessel is not a fountain-it is not a creator of the water-but a container and holder of that which is poured intoit. Such are the redeemed of God. They are not fountains by nature, out of whom there springs up anything that is good. Theyare simply receivers, and receivers only! At one time they are full of themselves, but God's Grace empties them-and then asempty vessels they are set in the way of God's goodness, God fills them to the brim with His loving kindness, and so are theyproved to be the vessels of His mercy. Sinner! Remember all that God asks of you in order to your salvation is that you wouldbe a receiver and this He gives you-even the power to receive! You may receive from Him who gives all; He asks you not todo anything but to hold out your empty hand and take all you need. He does not ask you to come with your mouth full as onethat is fat and filled with bread-but to open wide your empty mouth, and He will fill it with His salvation. He does not bidyou store your granaries and become rich-He bids you simply confess your poverty, and open the doors of your empty chambers,that He may pour you out a blessing such as you shall scarcely find room to receive! The elect of God, to repeat my text,are vessels and vessels, only! They may, as vessels, afterwards give out to others, but they can only give out what God hasput in them. They may work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, but they cannot work it out unless God works inthem both to will and to do of His good pleasure! They may run over with gratitude, but it is only because God has filledthem with Grace-they may stream forth with holiness, it is only because the Lord keeps the supply overflowing. They are receiversand only receivers!
And now let me ask, have you ever learned this Truth, my Hearer? Have you come to live as a receiver at the hands of God?Have you stood at Mercy's gate as a ragged beggar crying for His bread? Have you ever been compelled to say-
"Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Your Cross I cling"? In God's name I assure you, if you have never become a vesselof mercy, if you have never yet been willing to take from God instead of giving of your own doings to Him, if you are notwilling to be a recipient of His gratuitous goodness, you are a total stranger to everything like the Gospel of Christ! TheRomanist who brings his prayers, the formalist who brings his ceremonies, the hypocrite who brings his profession-all thesemen have mistaken the Gospel! The Gospel is a scheme not of giving to God, but of taking from God. It is not of bringing somethingto the Eternal Jehovah, but it is taking from His fullness, drinking from His well, receiving from His storehouse. You havenot yet begun to spell out salvation unless you have learned, first of all, that you can do nothingand be nothing, exceptGod makes you something and enables you to do something in His cause.
4. But furthermore and lastly upon this first head, the children of God are called vessels, but they have this added by wayof distinction-they are "vessels of mercy." In order that they may be vessels of mercy, it is certainly necessary that theyshould be sinful, and that they should be miserable. Pity may be given to the miserable, but mercymust be bestowed upon thesinful! For a judge to talk of mercy to those who never had offended, would be to insult them; and for the philanthropistto offer pity to the man who knows no sorrow, would be but to mock him! The only qualifications that a man can have for beinga vessel of mercy, are the qualifications of being sinful and of being sorrowful-two qualifications which I doubt not, manyof you now possess, although because you have them, you think that you never can be a child of God. O rejoice in this thought,that in order to be filled with Grace, the qualification is emptiness! In order to be clothed with righteousness, the indispensablequalification is nakedness! In order to be washed in Jesus' blood, all that is needed of you is that you should feel yourneed of that washing! The redeemed of God are not vessels of merit, but vessels of mercy! They are sinful men and women whohave felt their sin, and have mourned over their iniquity, and have hence become sorrowful and miserable. Then it is thatGod shows to them that they are vessels of mercy. If I could wander through this hall and read each heart, I should find some,I doubt not, who have come here saying, "I am the chief of sinners; I feel that if all the world were saved, there is no roomfor me, for there is not one good trait in my character. My sin is so aggravated; I have heard the Gospel so often and yetI have rejected it! Conscience has attired me so many times, and yet I would not listen to its admonitions. I am sure, I amcertain that I am in the most hopeless plight, and I am fearfully miserable upon this account. Oh, that there were mercy tobe had in Heaven, and that God would have pity upon such an one as I am!" Soul, there is comfort for you in this text! HaveI not told you, and do you not believe it, that the vessel must be empty before it can be filled And you are empty! Thereis hope, then, that God will save you! The vessel must be black with sin before it can be washed with mercy. And you are black.There is hope, then, that you shall be cleansed. A vessel must be filled with misery before it can be filled with mercy-youare filled with misery and full of sorrow. Oh, be of good cheer! Bring this vessel of yours, full of misery though it is,and empty it all at the foot of the Cross, and I tell you, Sinner-my words are true-He will fill your vessel with the richestmercy that ever He gave to the brightest of His saints, or to the boldest of His Apostles!
What a glad and joyous hour it is, when God, for the first time, fills the vessel with His mercy! My soul cannot help goingback to the hour in my own experience, when the first flood of mercy brimmed this poor empty vessel. Filled to bursting withwormwood and gall had that vessel been for many and many a day. Often had it seemed as if the vessel must be shivered withthe workings of inward sorrow. At last the hour had come, Jehovah said, "Look unto Me, and be you saved, all the ends of theearth." These eyes, by God's Grace, looked! This heart believed, and in a moment that vessel emptied of self. And emptiedof misery, I was plunged into the sea of mercy and fully submerged! I thought I should have a little hope at first, and thena stronger confidence, but no, my sun arose in the fullness of His strength! The stream came not by slow degrees, but in aninstant was the vessel covered, swallowed up and lost in joy and love! The gladsomeness of that hour, I can remember, butI cannot tell. Then I knew my sins forgiven! I could dance for mirth! Then I knew my name was inscribed in the Lamb's fairBook of Life, and nothing that earth could have afforded could give a drop ofjoy that was comparable to the bliss of thathour! Oh, may it be so with some of you this morning! Men, Brothers and Sisters, Fathers, Mothers and Children-may it be sowith you! Turn, I beseech you, your tearful eyes to Jesus hanging on the Cross, and it shall be so NOW! Come, bring your emptyvessels, for the fountain flows! Break not your pitcher with despair, but come and fill it with the hands of faith. Thereis room for you here at the marriage feast-you shivering beggar clothed with the rags of sin! Come, the voice of Mercy bidsyou. The arms of Jesus are outstretched to woo you! You are not rejected; Mercy's door is not shut-come and welcome! It isthe 11th hour-the 12th hour, though it has struck on earth, has not struck in Heaven-there is time! Your noon-time of mercyis not passed! The hour of Divine Grace still lasts, and even now you may read your name as a vessel of mercy fully preparedunto eternal glory!
II. We have cast our eye upon the vessels, let us now pause a little while and see THE POTTER AT HIS WORK.
When a potter is about to make a vessel, you must not imagine that he takes up the mere clay and puts it on the wheel, andthen leaves it to chance as to what shall be made of it. No, he has his plan. Before he sits down to the labor, he knows whatkind of vessel he is about to make. So it is with our Divine Potter who is in Heaven. He takes the poor sinner as a mass ofclay-He puts him on the wheel, and as that wheel revolves, the Potter looks and sees in that clay a future something whichdoes not appear to the vessel, but which only appears to the Great Workman's eyes. We may truly say of each of us who knowthe Lord, that, "it does not yet appear what we shall be." And what we shall be will never appear until we shall see Christas He is, and be like He! The Potter, however, knows what we are to be. Our Father who is in Heaven will not be deceived atlast as to what He will make of His people. He has a plan and that plan, I think, I may say to you in these few words-"Hewill present us without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." Sweet and blessed consideration! God intends to make of everysinner who believes on Him, a spotless, perfect vessel, full of glory! He does not intend to leave a single sin unpardoned,or to let a single evil principle remain in your soul. He means to tear up your iniquity by the roots, and make you totallyfree from the very being and indwelling of sin! He means to wash you so completely in the blood of Christ, that both the powerand the guilt of sin shall all be taken away! And He means, as the completion of all, to make you in the image of Christ Jesus-asfair and lovely as that spotless and perfect Lamb of God! Oh, Christian, does not this rejoice your heart? You shall yet belike Christ! Oh, do you say, "I am as much like the devil, sometimes, as I can be, and I often have to mourn that there isso much of the old Adam in me"?
Yes, but rejoice. It does not yet appear what you shall be! Every mark of Satan shall yet be put away from you. Every tingeof the old depravity shall yet be cleansed. And when you shall be taken into Heaven as a vessel thoroughly finished, you willbe a theme of wonder to all the angels and the glorified spirits who shall gather round about you to see the matchless skilland Grace of God as it is manifested in your character and in your nature! The Lord grant that we may always have an eye tothe great plan of the Potter, so that when sharp afflictions make us whirl upon the wheel, we may rejoice that the plan isbeing accomplished, and that we shall come forth perfect from the hands of the Maker.
And now while we are stopping here to notice the Potter at His work, having glanced at the plan, let us observe that likeevery potter, He first of all makes the outlines in the clay. You may have seen the man at work executing designs in glass.Perhaps at the very first moment, you may form a rough guess of what the whole thing is to be, though the ornament and elaborationwhich constitute the main part of the beauty you cannot yet discover. Certain it is, that the moment a man begins to be preparedfor Heaven by the Grace of God in his soul, you may see the outlines of what he is to be, although it is but the bare outline.Shall I tell you what those outlines are? There is first of all in him-faith in Christ. A simple, childlike trust in Him whohung upon the tree. There is next in him another mark of the Potter's hands-that is love to Christ-a love that is strong asdeath, though sometimes it seems to be feeble as a worm! There is also in him a hope that makes him not ashamed; and a joywhich makes glad his countenance. It is but the bare outline, as I have said, for the glory which excels is not there. Thevase is only in its embryo, but yet sufficiently developed to give a prophecy of its finished form; but as for the picturesthat shall be inlaid, as for all the different colors that shall be spent upon it, you cannot guess as yet-nor could you-unlessyou could climb to the Potter's seat and see the plan upon which He looks as the clay revolves upon the wheel.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, have you anything in you as yet of the great outlines? Can you say in truth, "I do believe on theLord Jesus"? Fear not then, my Hearer, you are a vessel of mercy! Not a finished vessel, but one that shall be finished. Canyou say-
"Oyes, I do love Jesus, Because He first loved me"? If that is true, you are not yet what you shall be, but you are a vessel of mercy for all that! And does your hope sometimestell you that through Jesus you shall stand among the glorified? Then be glad; The Potter has begun with you, and He willnever leave you! He mars no vessel on the wheel, or if it is marred, He will remake it. He casts not away the clay which Hehas once taken in His hands; He will complete what He has begun; He knows no failures and no disappointments. You shall yetbe all that He would have you be and, filled with glory, you shall glitter in Heaven at last! But to proceed-as the Potter goes on with His work, you may perceive the gradual completion of the article which He manufactures.And so, dear Brothers and Sisters, if you are vessels of mercy, there will not always be in you the bare outline, but as timegoes on there will be some of the beautiful lines and firings He puts there! It is always a joy to me that such a large proportionof gray-headed Christians always attend here, and it is a theme of wonder, also, as well as ofjoy, because I can scarcelyunderstand what they can learn from me. The Lord must have taught them so much more in these many years. He must have beenengraving them, and using the tools of discernment upon them so long that they must be getting ready-they must be gettingnearer to that glorious readiness which prepares the people of God for entrance into eternal life! I am not among those whothink that a Christian is a thing that stands still. He is a vessel, but is a vessel on the wheel. He is clay, but he is clayin the Potter's hands gradually being formed. I should question whether there is any of the life of God in a man if that lifedoes not germinate and grow-for life is a thing that will grow, and you cannot prevent it-you may seek to bind up the branchof a tree or to restrain it, but if it cannot grow in one direction, it will in another. If it cannot swell in one place whereyou have bandaged it-although it will often burst the tightest bond you can put around it-if it cannot swell there, it willsurely grow somewhere else! So is it with the life of God in the Christian-it will grow! The Christian will be getting moreand more like his Master. You sometimes seem to think you are going backward-yet if you are the children of God, there is a constant going forward,after all. There may be occasional backslidings, but the tenor of your life will be progress. You may slip, yes, and fall-butstill, "Onward," will be the true motto of your course. You will be progressing in the Divine Life, but I do not think, Brothersand Sisters, that you are a vessel of mercy, if after 20 or 30 years of union with Christ's Church there has been no growthin you. If you do not know more of your Lord's faithfulness; if you do not feel more of your own weakness and depravity; ifyour faith has not become more unstaggering, and more confident in Him who is faithful and true; if you have not more longingsafter Him, and more will to be spent in His cause, I should begin to question whether you are a vessel on the Master's wheel.I do not think He would lose 25 years over you-that He would let you be spinning round on the wheel of Providence all thatwhile, and yet never have touched you-and never have made you more meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saintsin light! In fact, it is just this growth of God's Grace that is one of the evidences of life, and though you may not be ableat all times to discover it, yet it is there! If you are a vessel of mercy, you are getting nearer towards completion-nearerto the day when with everlasting songs you shall be presented before the Father's face. Oh, Brothers and Sisters, if we can only see here on earth, vessels getting ready for perfection, and if those vessels haveso much beauty in them as the children of God really have, what must they be when at last they shall be finished? Jehovah,how glorious shall be Your workmanship in this, Your second Creation! If this world is fair, how much fairer shall the newworld be-if in this, Your old Creation, You have made such beauties that the admiring angels may come down to view them, andthe morning stars may find in them subjects for song-what shall Your new Creation be? If that rough work, which You did butspeak from Your mouth, is so marvelously beautiful-what must be that work to accomplish which You have sat down to the potter'swheel? That work to perform which You have shed Your own blood, and to perfect which You have not spared the treasures ofHeaven, but emptied them out that You might complete those vessels which shall be for Your glory? Oh, the songs! Oh, the hallelujahsthat shall greet Jehovah's workmanship, when all shall be completed, when all the vessels shall be brought Home-when Heaven'stables shall be loaded with the richest of all ware, when souls shall be filled with the red wine of bliss and all the glorifiedshall rejoice in God! What songs, I say, what hallelujahs shall make the courts of Heaven echo and re-echo throughout eternityforever and ever! III. And now I shall come to my last point, upon which I shall be somewhat brief, but I hope, thoroughly in earnest. The lastpoint was THE POTTER'S MARK UPON HIS VESSELS. In all manufacturing of costly wares, there is always some trademark peculiar to the firm that has manufactured the article-amark which is not to be imitated-and without which no vessel is the genuine production of the professed maker. Brothers andSisters, you may know today whether you are a vessel of mercy! You may know by the Master's mark upon you! That mark, theApostle tells you, is calling. Have you been called? If you are called, you are elected. Has Divine Grace called you out ofdarkness into the marvelous Light of God? If so, it is not a matter of question as to whether you are ordained to eternallife. You may rest assured that, without a doubt, your name was in the Lamb's Book of Life from before the foundations ofthe world-if you have in time been called from sin unto righteousness! Mark, then, the distinguishing mark of the Great Potterupon His vessels of mercy is effectual calling. And I would here remark that that is a mark which no man can put upon you!It is one which God alone can impress. We can call you, but we cannot call you effectually. The earnest minister may cry aloud,and spare not, and bid sinners come to the marriage supper of the Lamb-but it is in vain calling to deaf ears-and such arethe ears of all men by nature! The Lord alone can so speak that the deaf, no, the dead, will hear! Have you ever, then, felta calling which is not ofman, neither byman? Has the voice of Mercy ever spoken to your soul and said, "Come to Jesus"? Andhas it so spoken that your heart has said, "Your face, Lord, will I seek"? Oh, my dear Hearers, you have been called time enough by me--so many times that if you perish, your blood must lie at yourown door! God is witness that over the most of you, these eyes have wept many and many a time. The Lord knows how earnestlyI have called to you, how I have pleaded with you as though it were my own soul that was at hazard-and as though I pleadedfor my own life! If you have rejected these callings, be prepared to answer for it at the Last Great Day. But alas, thesecallings you may have, and they may only sink you lower than the lowest Hell! Have you ever received the Irresistible callingof the Holy Spirit? Has He said to you, "Mary," and have you said, "Rabboni"? Has He cried to you, "Zaccheus make haste andcome down!" And have you come down and received Him into your house? None but a call from Christ's own lips shall ever compelsuch stubborn hearts as ours to follow Him! Have you had that call? If so, you have the mark of the Potter upon you! You arenot a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction, but a vessel of mercy prepared unto glory! I would further remark, that as thisis a mark which no man can put upon you, so blessed be God, it is one which no man can take away from you! If God has calledyou, that calling is without repentance-God will not repent and take back the gift which He has given you. If He has calledyou by His Grace to repentance, He will call you to faith, and then from faith to love, from love to patience, and to hopeand onwards till at last He whispers, "Come up here," and He calls you unto glory! I do not believe in that Gospel which teachesthat a man may be effectually called, and yet may perish; that a heart may be thoroughly renewed, and yet may go back to itsold state-that, in fact- God's work may melt away like "the baseless fabric of a vision." I do not believe that His new Creationis but froth and foam-that it only lives by the will of a creature, and it dies if that creature has a will that it shoulddo so! No, my Brothers and Sisters, if the Lord has put Heaven's light in you, once, it is there forever-and not death nor Hell canquench it-but in your soul it must and will burn! "Ah, but," says one, "if I indulge in sin." Yes, but you shall not indulgein sin-the Lord will preserve and keep you so that the Wicked One touches you not. "But if I go back and sin as I used todo." Yes, but you cannot do it. That Grace of God which has changed your nature will hold you to the end-you shall walk inthe Light of God till you come to walk in Heaven! "Your path shall be as the shining light which shines more and more untothe perfect day," and if you go back, we will say of you, "He went out from us because he was not of us, for if he had beenof us, he doubtless would have continued with us." "The dog has returned to his vomit, because he was a dog, and the sow thatwas washed has returned to her wallowing in the mire, because she was a sow." But had the natures been changed, they wouldnever have returned to their old propensities! Had they been made new creatures in Christ Jesus, that new Creation could neverhave been undone! God's tapestry could not have been unraveled; His work could not have been consumed; it is eternal and mustabide; it must last even to the perfection in Heaven. Be of good cheer then, if the Lord has put His mark upon you, the devilcannot wash it out! And then, to conclude, let me remark, if you have had the seal of calling put upon you, that seal is sure and certain. Therenever was a man yet called out of darkness into the Light of God by mistake! There never was a man who repented, and thenfound he was not an elect one; never a man went to Christ, and then found he had not a right to come, and must go back. "Whoevercomes unto Me I will in nowise cast out." God has never made mistakes in the callings of His Grace! The right man is calledat the right time, and the right place; he goes to Christ and finds that what is a fact in time, was a purpose in all eternity!Between calling and election there is an indissoluble union. If you have the link of calling in your hand, depend upon itthat it is fastened-though you can not see it-unto the other golden link of Divine Decree! You could not have come to Christ unless the Father had drawn you, and the Father would not have drawn you unless He had intendedto draw you, and that intention is Election's decree. Be, then, quite certain that if you come, it was intended that you shouldcome; and you were chosen of God from before the foundation of the world! But am I certain that I am regenerate? I cannotallow a dispute about whether I am elected or not. Am I sure that- "My faith is fixed on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness?"
I may be as sure of my election, as if I could climb to Heaven and turn over the red roll and read my name in letters of gold!The Lord has given you a test which never failed yet, and never will. You shall not meet, either in time or in eternity, asingle penitent who found that he had repented and believed through error. Oh, no! The fruit proves the life of the tree andthe fact that you have mercy, proves that God intended to give you the mercy. And what is that, but all that we mean by theDoctrine, that God has, from the beginning, chosen unto salvation those who believe in Christ Jesus?
And now, before I send you away, let me say one or two earnest words. It makes my heart glad to see what work the Lord isdoing in our day everywhere. I do not think these are times over which God's people ought to sorrow. There is more doing inLondon, now, than has been accomplished for the last 20 years. The people of God are earnest in prayer. There are men raisedup to preach in simple language the Truth of God as it is in Jesus, and I do hope that whatever good we have seen in the past,is about to be quite eclipsed and outdone by greater things that are on their way! But, my Brothers and Sisters, who can shuttheir eyes to the sad fact that in days of revival there are some who are unblessed? I am anxious about you, that while Godis working on the right hand, and on the left, you should not escape without receiving the blessing from on high! Oh, to belike Gideon's fleece-dry when the floor is wet! To remain in a barren spot of ground when all the earth is filled with fertility!And yet, my dear Hearers, this is the case with some of you. You are still becoming more and more fitted for destruction!Oh, I would solemnly warn you that fitness fordestruction will certainly end in destruction! Sin and Hell are married unlessRepentance proclaim the divorce! As you sow, you must reap. It is of no use your looking into mysterious doctrines to findanything which can contradict this Truth of God. As your life is such must your endbe! And if your course is out of Christ,your end shall be out of Christ, and your eternal home shall be out of hope and far away from eternal happiness! But oh, Ipray that instead thereof, the Lord, in His Infinite bounty may call you effectually by His Grace! I pray that the Holy Spiritmay descend-but how shall we obtain that Holy Spirit? Only by the conjoined and united prayers of the Church of Christ! Mydear Friends, let us pray more earnestly. Not only our own comfort, but the salvation of sinners lies in the hands of God.We cannot save them! We cannot awaken them! Let us cry-"Oh Lord! You take the work in hand/" and from this hour let everyChristian in our midst resolve that he will give the Lord no rest until He sends down the showers of His Grace and revivesHis work in the midst of our Church, and throughout every land! Let me dismiss you with just a word of prayer to that effect.
Oh Lord, revive Your work, we pray! We are feeble and weak; we can do nothing. But come Yourself and achieve triumphs, andlet victories be won. Come and break the hard heart, and subdue the stubborn will. Lord, save the unsaved! O God, awaken thosehere present who are dead in sin, and let the vessels of mercy whom in Your Sovereign good pleasure You have chosen out ofthe mass of mankind be filled with mercy till they overflow with gratitude and joy! Oh Lord, hear us and let the feeble effortof this morning be crowned with richer success than we can ask or even think, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.