Sermon 373. Christ Set Forth As A Propitiation
A SERMON DELIVERED ON GOOD FRIDAY MORNING, MARCH 29, 1861, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Christ Jesus whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood"
We commenced the services in this place by the declaration that here Christ shall be preached. Our Brother who followed usexpressed his joy that Christ was preached herein. He did rejoice, yes, and would rejoice, and our friends must have observed,how, throughout the other services there has beena most blessed admixture not only of the true spirit of Christ, but of pointed and admirable reference to the glories andbeauties of His Person. This morning, which is the beginning of our more regular and constant ministry, we come again to thesame noble theme. Christ Jesus istoday to be set forth! You will not charge me for repeating myself-you will not look up to the pulpit, and say, "Pulpitsare places of tautology." You will not reply that you have heard this story so often that you have grown weary of it, forwell I know that with you, the Person,the Character, and the work of Christ are always fresh themes for wonder! We have seen the sea, some of us, hundreds oftimes, and what an abiding sameness there is in its deep green surface; but who ever called the sea monotonous? Travelingover it as the mariner does, sometimes bythe year together, there is always a freshness in the undulation of the waves, the whiteness of the foam of the breaker,the curl of the crested billow, and the frolicsome pursuit of every wave by its long train of brothers. Which of us has evercomplained that the sun gave us butlittle variety-that at morn he yoked the same steeds, and flashed from his car the same golden glory, climbed with dulluniformity the summit of the skies, then drove his chariot downward, and bade his flaming coursers steep their burning hoovesin the western deep? Who among ushas complained of the monotony of the bread that we eat? We eat it today, tomorrow, the next day; we have eaten it for yearspassed, and though we have other savory matters therewith, yet still the one unvarying food is served upon the table, andthe bread remains the staff of life.Surely I know that as Christ is your food, and your spiritual bread; as Christ is your sun, your heavenly light; as Christis the sea of love in which your passions swim, and all your joys are found, it is not possible that you as Christian menand women should complain of amonotony in Him, "He is the same yesterday, today and forever," and yet He has the dew of His youth. He is the manna inthe golden pot which was always the same, but He is the manna which came from Heaven which was every morning new. He is therod of Moses which was dry, and changednot its shape, but He is also to us the rod of Aaron which buds and blossoms and brings forth almonds.
I come then now to preach Christ Crucified, as God has set Him forth to be a Propitiation for us through faith in His blood.To begin at once, then, we shall notice first, what is meant here by God's setting forth Christ as a propitiation. Secondly,we shall dwell upon the Truth which may verynaturally be drawn from the first-Christ the Propitiation, as looked upon by the Believer. And then, thirdly, putting thetwo together, I mean inverting the two thoughts, we shall look at Christ as set forth by us, andlooked upon by God.
I. First then, the text says ofChrist Jesus, "WHOM GOD HAS SET FORTH TO BE A PROPITIATION THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD."
The words, "set forth," in the original may signify, "foreordained;" but according to eminent critics, it has also in it theidea of setting forth as well as a "foreordaining." Barnes says, "The word properly means to place in public view; to exhibitin a conspicuous situation, as goods areexhibited or exposed for sale, or as premiums or rewards of victory were exhibited to public view in the games of the Greeks."So has God the Father set forth, manifested, made conspicuous the Person of the Lord Jesus as the Propitiation of sin. Howhas He done this? He has done itfirst by ordaining Him in the Divine Decree as the Propitiation of sin. Christ did not take upon Himself the office of HighPriest without being chosen thereunto as was Aaron; as surely as every member of Christ's body is elect according to the foreknowledgeof God; as certainly asin God's Book all His members were written which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them, so certainlywas the Head, Himself, ordained the chosen of God. As our poet puts it-
"Christ is My first Elect He said, Then chose our souls in Christ our Head." Perhaps some might say there could be no electionwhere there was no room for choice. But how do we know that there was no room for choice? We can scarcely imagine that angelor archangel could have been set forth aspropitiation for sin. Who can tell whether the Almighty mind might not have devised another plan? Who shall dare to limitthe Holy One of Israel? At any rate, there was this choice between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the Divine Wisdomconjoined with Divine Sovereignty,and chose and appointed and determined that Christ Jesus, the Second of the Mysterious Three, should be the Propitiationfor our sins. When Christ comes into the world, He comes as One of whom all eternity had spoken-He is the Child born-bornfrom the womb of destiny; He is theLamb whom God had appointed from before the foundation of the world. Long before this world was made, or Adam fell, Christhad been set forth; in the volume of the Book, it had been written of Him, "I delight to do Your will, O God." I think thosewho are afraid of looking back uponthe great decrees of God, because they say they are secrets, have a fear where no fear is appropriate. There is never fear,my Brothers and Sisters, of our meddling with secret things. If they are secret, it is quite certain that we shall not meddlewith them! Only let it beannounced once and for all, that they are secret, and there is no one who can betray the secrets of God! But things thatare revealed belong to us and to our children; and this is one of the things that is revealed; this is the decree and we willdeclare it, the Lord said untoChrist, "You are My Son, this day have I begotten You, and He has said unto Him moreover, I will make Him My First-Born,higher than the kings of the earth." And all this that He may be the "Propitiation for our sins by faith in His blood."
And next, God had set forth Christ to be the Propitiation for sins in His promises before the Advent. Did He not set Him forthmost plainly in the Garden where we fell? Was He not plainly revealed afterwards in the Ark in which Noah was saved? Did notGod speak constantly, not only by verbalpromises, but by typical promises, which are just as sure and certain as those which are spoken in words? Did He not toa 100 seers, and to multitudes of holy men and women, constantly reveal the coming of Him who should bruise the serpent'shead, and deliver His people from thepower of the curse? It is wonderful to see how engaged the Holy Spirit was through every age and era in ordaining types,in bringing forth representations, and symbols in which Christ should be set forth as being the appointed Propitiation forsins through faith in His blood! Butthe great setting forth was the actual doing of the deed when Jesus Christ came forth from the chambers of mystery, andrevealed Himself in the manger-when God set Him forth by angelic messengers appointed to be His attendants-set Him forth bythe star in the East which shouldguide the distant strangers to the place where the young Child was. He set Him forth afterwards by preserving His life inthe midst of imminent perils, fulfilling promises made concerning His Infancy in the place where He was hidden from Herod'sfury, and in the spot where He waseducated and brought up. Throughout the life of Christ, how constantly did His Father set Him forth! The voice of God wasin the voice of John-"Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world." And on the Cross itself, "when it pleasedthe Father to bruise Him, andput Him to grief," what an exhibition was there of Christ to the eyes of Jew and Gentile, of prince and peasant, of thelearned Greek, of the ruler Roman-that God had appointed Christ to be the full Propitiation for sin! I think, my dear Friends,while we must always regard theCross as being the representation of Christ's love to His Church, we must also view it as being God setting forth to manthe way by which He will accept man, pardon his sin, hear his prayer, and be reconciled with His erring creatures.
But, O my dear Friends, this is not all; God the Father set forth Christ since then by signs following. What a setting forththat was of Christ the Propitiator, when the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost! And what have all conversions been sincethen? Have they not been repeated seals to thetestimony that Christ is the appointed Redeemer of men, and that through Him the faithful are justified and accepted? You,I trust-many of you-had such a special setting forth of Christ in your own hearts, the that you can set your seal to the textbefore us for Him has God setforth in you as being the Propitiation. By effectual Grace your eyes have been opened-by infinite love your stubborn hearthas been melted; you have been turned from every other hope and every other refuge; you have seen Christ to be the Power ofGod, and the Wisdom of God;compelled by an Omnipotent influence which you neither could nor would resist, you have received Him as the Sent of God,have taken Him as being God's Messiah, and your only refuge. God in you, then, has graciously fulfilled the text, "Him hasGod set forth to be a propitiation."
But now, to change the subject for a moment, and yet to continue on the same point-what is it that God has so manifestly setforth? We have seen how He has done it-we turn now to what? Sinner, listen, and if you have already accepted that which theFather has revealed, let your joy become full.God has set forth Christ as being the Propitiation! The Greek word has it, ilasthrion, which, being translated, may meana mercy seat or a covering. Now God has said to the sinner, "Do you desire to meet Me? Would you be no longer My enemy? Wouldyou tell Me your sorrows? Would youreceive My blessing? Would you establish a commerce between your Creator and your soul? I set forth Christ to you as beingthe Mercy Seat, where I can meet with you, and you can meet with Me." Or take the word as signifying a covering-as the MercySeat covered the tablets of theLaw, and so covered that which was the cause of Divine ire, because we had broken His commandments. "Would you have anythingwhich can cover your sin? Cover it from Me, your God, so that I need not be provoked to anger? Cover it from you so that youneed not be cowed with excessivefear, and tremble to approach Me as you did when I came in thunder and lightning upon Sinai? Would you have a shelter whichshall hide altogether your sins and your iniquities? I set it forth to you in the Person of My bleeding Son! Trust in Hisblood and your sin is covered from Myeyes-no, it shall be covered from your own eyes, too! And being justified by faith, you shall have peace with God throughJesus Christ your Lord." Oh that we may have Grace to accept now what God the Father sets forth! The Romish priest sets forththis and that; our own Romishhearts set forth such-and-such-another thing, but God sets forth Christ. The preacher of doctrine sets forth a dogma. Thepreacher of experience sets forth a feeling. The preacher of practice often sets forth an effort. But God puts before you,Christ "Here will I meet with you.This is the place of My rest-glorious to Me, safe to youï¿½ï¿½ï¿½come to Christ! Come to Christ, and you will come to Me." TheLord Almighty comes to Christ, and there He comes to you. God, then, has set forth Christ Jesus-made Him conspicuous as beingthe Mercy Seat, and the greathider of sin!
What has He set forth? He has set forth Christ before every one of you, in the daily preaching of the Word, and in this InspiredBook as His anointed to do His work, suffering in the place of all who believe on Him. He has set Him forth as nailed to Calvary'sCross, that your sinsmight be nailedthere; set Him forth as dying, that your sins might die-no, buried that your iniquities might be buried-risen, that youmight rise to newness of life; ascended, that you might ascend to God; received in triumph, that you might be received intriumph, too; made to reign, that youmight reign in Him; forever loved, forever crowned, that you in Him may be forever loved, and forever crowned, too. Christhas God the Father set forth, that by faith in His blood, your sins being put away, you might enjoy the blessing of completejustification! "Who is he thatcondemns, Christ has died, yes, rather, has risen again, and sits at the right hand of God, who also makes intercessionfor us." "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Thus, then, and in these respects, has God the Father setforth Christ.
II. And now I proceed in the second place-and may the Spirit of God descend more visibly into our midst than at present-tospeak upon a duty, rather a privilege, which so naturally rises out of God's having shown forth His Son as being the Propitiationthrough faith in His blood. That privilegeis that WE SHOULD LOOK TO CHRIST, AND LOOK TO CHRIST, ALONE, AS THE PROPITIATION FOR OUR SINS, AND TAKE CARE THAT OUR FAITHIS SIMPLE, AND FIXED SOLELY ON HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD.
A very common mistake is to look to our sense of need as being, at least in some degree, a propitiation for sin. Repentanceis an absolute duty, and a Christian Grace-a Grace without which there can he no salvation; but there has been a strong temptationupon many minds to make repentanceapreparation for Christ, and to regard a sense of need as being a kind of wedding garment in which they may approach theSavior. How many read that promise, "Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and theyfondly imagine that if they could bemore weary, and more heavily laden, then they would have rest? Whereas, being weary and heavy laden gives no man rest! Itis coming to Christ that gives him rest, it is not the being weary and the being heavy laden! And I have known some ministerswho preach what is called a deepexperience and law-work, and preach very rightly, too, because many of the people of God have to endure this; but I thinkthey lead the people into error, for the people imagine that this law-work, this deep experience, has something to do withthe propitiation of their sins. Now,my Hearers, the sins of God's people are taken away by the blood of Christ, and not by any repentance of their own. I havealready guarded my statement, and now I will make it as bold as possible. I say that repentance of sin does in no way contributeto the removal of that sinmeritoriously. I say that our sense of need does not take away our guilt, nor help to take it away; but the blood, the blood,the blood alone, pure and unmixed, has forever washed the people of God, and made them whiter than snow! So, poor Heart, ifyour soul is as hard as a nethermillstone; if your conscience seems to be seared by long habits of sin; if you cannot force tears from your eyes, and scarcelycan get a groan from your heart-yet you are groaning today because you cannot groan, weeping because you cannot weep, andsorrowing because you cannotsorrow-hear you, then, this Gospel message! God the Father has set Christ forth to be your Propitiation! Not your tenderconscience; not your groans; not your sense of need; not your law-work; not your deep experience! He is enough without anyof these-have faith in His bloodandyou are saved!
But again, many have fallen into another mistake. They make their propitiation depend upon their evidences. I would be thelast to say, "Away with evidences, away with evidences," for they are good things in their proper place; but there are toomany persons who always judge of their pastconversion, and ultimate salvation by present evidence. Judge Brothers and Sisters, whether you could ever form a properestimate of the world by its appearance on any one day. If I had taken you out a month ago into the fields, you would havedeclared that the trees were dead; whatsigns of life would you have perceived? The bulbs were buried in the ground-you might have taken a solemn oath that flowerswere banished, and you might have imagined that because there were none, there never would be any! But what was your evidenceof the world's state worth?Look at it now-the buds are bursting on the trees; the flowers are springing from the sod; everything is hastening on towardsspring and summer. Why as it is absurd and ridiculous for us to judge of the world's estate by the fact that there was a cloudtoday, and there was ashower of rain yesterday, and therefore infer that the sun has lost its force and will never shine-it is just as ridiculousto judge of our standing before God by our present standing, according to our evidences on some one day! The right way toread evidences is this. First, mySoul, whether you are saved or not, as a poor guilty sinner, look to Christ! When you have done this, then read your evidences-then-nottill then. Then the blessed evidence will be a confirmation. The witness of the Spirit will confirm your faith; but if youlook to yourevidences first, you will be foolish indeed. It is as in a reflector-first, let us have the light, then will the reflectorbe of use to us to increase and reflect back the light; but if I take my reflector into a dark place and look for light init, I shall find none-I mustfirst see to the light itself-and then to the reflection of it. Our Graces are the reflection of Christ's love; they arethe tokens of it, but we had better go to Christ first, and then look to the tokens afterwards!
I am sure if you, as a spouse, had offended your husband, you would find but very sorry comfort in looking at those littletokens of love which in the past he had conferred on you. You would go to him first, ask him whether his love was still firm,whether he had forgiven the fault, and when youhad received the assurance of his unabated and pure affection, could you go upstairs to the secret drawer, and look overthe love notes and the love tokens-but they would have afforded you sorry comfort before. So with any child who has been chastenedby his parent-if he thinksthat his father is angry with him, he will not, if he is a wise child, a simple-hearted child, go up to the nursery, andlook at the gifts which his father gave him-but going to his father's knee, he will look up with a tear in his eye and say,"Father do you love me? Can youforgive your child?" And, when he has had the personal token, the kiss of acceptance, then may the child go back and seein every mouthful that he eats, and every garment which he wears, the sure token of his father's continued affection! Evidencesare good as second things, but asfirst things they are usurpers and may prove anti-Christs to Christ. Whatever my evidences may say, if I believe in theprecious blood, there is not a sin against me in God's Book, and in the teeth of everything which might make me tremble-
"Just as I am, without one plea, But that His blood was shed for me And that He bids me come," I come again, and come afreshto Him whom God has set forth to be the Propitiation for our sins!
Friends, I may surprise you by what I am about to say, but there is another fault into which we sometimes fall, namely, lookingto God's promises instead of looking to Christ as the Propitiation of sin. The text does not say that God the Father has setforth promises; indeed He has given usexceedingly great and precious promises, and they are true in Christ. We often err by going to promises, instead of goingto Christ. I know many Christians who, when they are in distress, take up the Bible to find a promise-a very good and a veryadmirable plan, if, mark-it ispreceded by something else! It they go to Christ first, they may come to the promise afterwards. "Yes," says one, "but supposea promise is fulfilled." Very good; you have comfort out of it, but I say suppose the promise is notfulfilled? What then?Why it is just as sure for allthat-whether the promise is fulfilled or not! Fulfillment is not my duty-my business is to take Christ, whom God the Fatherhas set forth as the Propitiation of my sins, and if in searching this Book through there is not a single promise which Idare lay hold of; if I cannotfind one bottle filled with the rich wine of consolation-if I can lay hold on no bunch of the grapes of Eshcol, still, Godthe Father has set forth Christ, whatever else He has not set forth- and my eye looks to Christ and to Christ alone! Thereis a man who very much desires anestate. At the same time his heart is smitten with the beauty of some fair heiress. He gets the title deeds of her estate.Well, the title deeds are good, but the estates are not his though he has got the title deeds! By-and-by he marries the lady,and everything is his own. Get theheiress and you have got the estate. It is so in Christ-promises are the title-deeds of His estates-a man may get the promisesand not get Christ, and then they will be of no more use to him than the deeds of another man's estate would be to me, ifI am not the lawfulproprietor. But when my soul is married unto Christ, then I am heir of all things in Him and with Him! Why, Christian, whatright have you to say, "that promise is not mine because it is not fulfilled." Your right to the promise does not lie in itsbeing fulfilled, nor yet inyourpower to lay hold of it! Every promise that is in the Bible belongs to everyone who is in Christ, and belongs to himas much one day as another day, because Christ is his at all times, evermore the same! Oh, I do not know whether I can putthis exactly as I mean it. What I meanis that the devil has often tempted me with, "You have not had a promise sent home to your heart for months; you are nochild of God; you cannot get that sweetness out of such-and-such a passage that some men can." I reply to Satan in this way,"Well, God has never said He has setforth the promise to be a propitiation through faith, but He has set forth Christ, and my soul accepts that which God hasset forth, and if ever a promise is applied to me, the promise is mine for all that, and in faith I will lay hold on it, anddefy you to rob me of it when mysoul has laid hold on Christ." Oh, that we lived more on Christ and less on anything but Christ-nearer to Christ's Person,more surely resting on Christ's blood-more simply accepting Him as our All-in-All.
I have not yet done on this second head-A remark or two suggest themselves to me now. God has set forth Christ to be the Propitiationthrough faith in His blood, and we ought to accept Christ as being an all-sufficient Propitiation. I believe in Christ today;but if some sin lies upon myconscience and I am worried and troubled about it, ought I not to perceive at once that I have failed to accept Christ asan all-sufficient Propitiation? Whether my sin is little or it is great, whether it is fresh or old, it is the same sin, andblessed be God, it has all beenatoned for through Christ the Propitiation! We ought to take Christ as being the death of every sin and of all sin-as havingexpunged and wiped out the great debt as well as the little-the 10,00 talents as well as the 100 pence. We have never gottenthe full idea of Christ tillwe know that every sin of thought, of word, of deed that the Believer has ever been guilty of finds its death, its drowning,its total annihilation in the Propitiation which God has set forth! Oh, we need to come where Kent was, when he said-
"Now free from sin I walk at large My Savior's blood's my full discharge! At His dear feet my soul I lay A sinner saved, and homage pay."
Well, but when we have come as far as this, we need to add a second thought. God has set forth Christ to be not only an all-sufficient,but an immutable Propitiation for sin. Christ is as much my soul's Propitiation when my soul has fallen into sin, as whenI have stood firm and resistedtemptation, if I am a Believer. "That is putting it," you say, "in a bold and almost Antinomian way." I cannot help it.It is true-it is true that the Propitiation of Christ is never more, never less; it cannot be more, it is complete; it cannotbe less, for it is the sameyesterday, today and forever! That man who has been washed in blood is spotless; his doubts and fears have not spoiled hisappearance, his powerlessness yesterday in prayer, his despondency a week ago, his all but complete unbelief last month, donot mar the perfection of Jesus'righteousness-do not take away from the complete achievement of the pardon of his sin by precious blood! I do believe andhold and rejoice in that precious Truth-that our standing before God, when we have believed in Jesus-depends no more uponourframes, and our feelings, thanthe sun itself in its native glory depends upon the clouds and darkness that are here below. The same-the same in all itssplendor, the same undimmed, as full of Glory, as full of majesty, the righteousness and blood of Christ abides; and we, standingbefore God in Him-not inourselves-are always complete in Him-always accepted in the Beloved; never more so, never less so. "Strong meat this," saysone. Be it strong-nothing short of this will ever satisfy the tried Christian in the hour when sin rolls over his head! Ifany man can make a bad use ofthe Doctrine of the real Substitution of Christ, and the standing of Christ's people in Christ's place every day-if anyman can make a licentious use of that, his damnation is just; he has no part nor lot in this matter! But I know this-I amnot to be restrained from the comfortof a Doctrine because some licentious vagabond chooses to destroy his soul with it! Still there stands the glorious Truth.And nothing short of this is the full glory of Christ's atonement-that when once He shed His blood, and when once that bloodhas been applied to us, by it,and italone, we stand completely pure and are as pure one day as another day-perfect, complete, accepted, made secure andsafe in Christ Jesus the Lord. "Him has God the Father set forth to be a propitiation for sin." My soul accepts Him todayas it did yesterday, and knows thatthe sin is put away forever.
III. Now I shall come to my third and last point. Turn the thoughts over. We have said God sets forth Christ, and we lookedat Him. Now, as a matter of duty and privilege, we must SET FORTH CHRIST, and GOD WILL LOOK AT HIM.
The preacher, standing here as he does today before this immense assembly, knows that without God's looking upon the ministry,it will be vain and void. How shall God's eyes be secured? How shall His Presence be guaranteed? If in this pulpit Christis set forth, God will look down upon that Christset forth, and honor and bless the Word. Brothers and Sisters, I might preach clear Doctrine, but God might never looksdown upon Doctrine; for I could point you to churches with tears in my eyes, because I am able to do so, where conversionsare rare things. The Doctrine is high,high enough-perhaps so high as to have become putrid. I will not say that, but I do know some churches where there has notbeen an addition to the church by the stretch of ten or a dozen years together, and I have known the reason. Christ was notset forth, and therefore God didnot look down on what was set forth! I have known, too, churches-and with equal sorrow do I mention them-where practicehasbeen preached, but not Christ. People have been exhorted to do 10,000 things; moral duties presented before the people inpleasing and well-polished essayshave taken the place of the Cross of Christ, and there have been no conversions! By degrees the attendance has become veryslender-for Christ is not preached. It is a strange thing-there are some exceptions to the rule, but still the rule is thereeven where there are not manyto listen. Only preach Socinianism, and what a splendid hunting-ground this tabernacle will be for the spiders! Give upChrist and preach philosophy-you need not have an organ, and a skillful person to play the people out of the church-they wouldnever need that. They will nevercome in! So it is. Those flimsy doctrines never can prevail because no one will listen to them-they are not attractive.They look as if they would attract all-but none can receive them; the secret being that God will not look down on any man'sministry unless that man sets forthwhat God sets forth- Christ Jesus as the Propitiation of our sins!
It is not a question as to whether there will be conversions when Christ is set forth; that is certain. Some good Brothersquote the text, "Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but"-and they are a long while upon the, "but," and they pervert thetext a little, "but God gives the increase." Nowthe text does not say any such thing! It says, "Paul plants and Apollos waters, God gives the increase." They are all linkedtogether-Paul does not plant in vain; Apollos does not water in vain-God gives the increase! He is sureto do it, and if thereare not souls saved, thereis always some reason for it; and the reason to which I would look-leaving now the inscrutable Sovereignty of God out ofthe question for a moment-the reason would be either that Christ is not preached, or else He is preached in such a way asHe never ought to be preached-withcold-heartedness, with lack of zeal, with want of tenderness! Only let Christ be preached by an earnest heart, though therebe no eloquence or though the elocution is defective-Christ being set forth, God the Holy Spirit will come forth, and theWord must and wilbe blessed! HisWord shall not return unto Him void. It shall prosper where He has sent it.
But again, as in the ministry we must set forth Christ if we would have God's smile, so you, my Brothers and Sisters, in yourpleadings for the souls of men, must set forth Christ. What a mass of wickedness is hereabouts. What tens of thousands inthis immediate neighborhood who know nothing ofGod! Here is a city with very nearly three millions inhabitants; it is not a city, but an empire in itself. What shall wedo when we are on our knees? I confess I have sometimes found myself utterly unable to express my desires in prayer to Godfor this city. When you once get anotion of its sin, its infamy, its dens, its innumerable missionaries teaching Satanic doctrines, its multitudes of menand women whose likelihood it is to ensnare the simple ones, it is an awful burden to carry before God! You cannot pray forLondon except in sighs and groans! Goodold Roby Flockhart, who stood for many years in the streets of Edinburgh, used to be much laughed at, but he preached everynight in the week, and had during the winter months, a little lantern which he put upon a stick, and then stood in a cornerand preached to the passers-by. Hepreached with a great power, but much eccentricity. That good man was eminent in his prayers when alone. A gentleman whowas extremely poor, told me that he went one night to see poor Robert; the candle had been blown out, and he stumbled hisway up two or three pair of stairs andcame at last to Flockhart's room; he opened the door and he could not see the good old man, but he could hear him say, "OLord, dinna forget Edinboro, dinna forget Edinboro, turn not away Your hand from auld Reekie, dinna forget her, Lord! Yourservant will never give You rest tillYou pour out Your spirit upon Edinboro." My friend stood still and there was that old man alone with his God-my friend hadnever heard such groaning and crying-it seemed as if he could even hear the falling of his tears while he prayed for God tobless Edinburgh, and to pour outHis Spirit upon that city. He made some noise, and the old man said, "There is somebody there I suppose." He struck a lightand found he had taken one of the pillows of his bed to kneel upon by the side of an old chair which was about the only furniture,with the exception of thebed. He would pray for Edinburgh by the hour together, and then go out to preach, though many laughed at and hooted him.Oh, one wants to feel like that for London, too, kneeling there till one's knees are sore, crying, "Do not forget London,do not forget London! Lord do not turnYour face from London! Make bare Your arm in this great city." But how are we to make our prayers prevail with God? Brothersand Sisters, we must show forth Christin prayer, and then God will look upon our prayers! The Methodist cry which was onceheard at the Prayer Meeting when apoor Methodist Brother could not go on, and someone at the far end of the chapel cried out, "Plead the blood, Brother, pleadthe blood"-that old Methodist cry has force and power in it! "Plead the blood." God cannot, cannot, cannotresist the cry ofthe blood of Christ! Abel'sblood demanded vengeance, and it had it. Christ's blood demands pardons, and shall have it, must have it-our God cannotbe deaf to the cry of His own Son's blood! And if you and I, and all of us together can plead the precious blood of Christfor London, a revival must come, willcome, shall come, and the face of the times shall be changed! God's arm shall be revealed, and, "all flesh shall see ittogether, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it."
Yet once again and here with affectionate earnestness-I come to plead personally with each of you. Soul, are you this morningsick of self, and longing to be saved? Do your sins condemn you? Do the lusts accuse you; does your conscience flog you? Haveyou been to God in prayer? Have you soughtfor mercy, and has no mercy come? Have you read the Bible to find a promise? Has no promise dropped with honey to you? Come,I pray you, and obey the Word of God which I utter in your hearing-come and take CHRIST, and show Christ's blood to God, andHe will, He must smile uponyou! If you cannot take the promise, take the BLOOD! If you cannot come before God with any feelings, come with CHRIST inyour hands! "May Itrust Christ?" asks one. May you?! You are commandedto do it! He who believes not has made God a liar becausehe believes not! He who believeshas set to his seal that God is true! Sinner, God is satisfied with Christ; does He satisfy God, and will He not satisfyyou? The eternal Judge has accepted Jesus, and do you refuse Him? The Lord has opened the door, and stands at it. Is the doorgood enough for the king, and yetnot good enough for a rebel like yourself? "But." Away with your "buts!" You want to bring something to add to Christ-isHe enough to reconcile God, and not enough to reconcile you? "But, but," again. So God thinks the precious blood to be a sufficientprice, and you think it isnot? Oh fool and slow of heart, how dare you think that God has not set forth enough, but you must add to it! Instead ofthis, I pray you in Christ's stead, believe in Christ as you are! Whoever you may be, whatever your past life has been, whateveryour present feelingsare-entrust your soul with Christ, and God declares that your sins are put away! Put your soul as it is-I care not how blackwith sin, it matters not how depraved it is-put it here on that Mercy Seat which God has set forth, and you have put it whereGod commanded you put it,and its salvation rests no more with you. You have put your salvation into Christ's hands, it is His business to save you,and He will do it-
"I know that safe with Him remains Protected by His power What I've committed to His hands Till the decisive hour."
I do not know how it is, but this simple Doctrine is the hardest Doctrine to make clear. It seems so easy, and yet many willmystify and doubt it. "What, no good works, no good feelings?" All these things are fruits of Grace-but salvation does notdependupon good works-they are a result ofsalvation. Salvation is in Christ, wholly in Christ-in
Christ alone-and the moment any of you trust Him genuinely to be your sole and only Savior, you have accepted God's Propitiation,and God has accepted you. It is not possible for the Lord, unless He could reverse His Nature, to stain His honor, belie HisCharacter, make His Word a farce, and theAtonement of Christ a falsehood-to reject any man under Heaven who believes in Christ, and takes Him to be His All-in-All!
This day is called Good Friday-may it be a good Friday to some of you! Perhaps I have some here to whom I have preached theselast seven years, and yet you have remained unsaved. I am clear of your blood if you had only heard but this one morning sermon,for God witnesses I know not how to putthe plan of salvation more clearly than I have done! "God has set forth Christ to be a propitiation through His blood."I bid you look to Christ bleeding, to Christ sweating drops of blood, Christ scourged, Christ nailed to the Cross, and ifyou believe in Christ's blood, He is thePropitiation of your sins. But I can do no more than this; it is mine to preach, it is mine to pray, and mine to plead.Oh may God the Holy Spirit give you Grace to receive, to accept, to yield to this blessed proclamation of free mercy! Othersalvation there is none. You may rackyour soul with pain, and wear out your bones with toil, but there is rest nowhere but here, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,and you shall be saved." "He who with his heart believes, and with his mouth makes confession, shall be saved." "For he whobelieves and is baptized shallbe saved, but he who believes not shall be damned." What shall I say? Instead of pleading further with you, I would pleadwith God in private that many of you may now try whether Christ cannot save you. Rest yourself on Him, trust yourself withHim, and He will be as good as Hisword, and save younow, and save you even to the end. The Lord add His blessing, for Jesus' sake. Amen.