Sermon 422. The Peacemaker
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 8, 1861,
BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
THIS is the seventh of the beatitudes. There is a mystery always connected with the number seven. It was the number of perfectionamong the Hebrews and it seems as if the Savior had put the peacemaker there-as if He were nearly approaching to the perfectman in Christ Jesus. He who would haveperfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must labor to attain to this seventh benediction and become apeacemaker. There is a significance also in the position of the text, if you regard the context. The verse which precedesit speaks of the blessedness of "thepure in heart, for they shall see God." It is well that we should understand this.
We are to be "first pure, then peaceable." Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or an alliance with that whichis evil. We must set our faces like flint against everything which is contrary to God and His holiness. That being in oursouls a settled matter we can go on topeaceableness towards men. No less does the verse that follows my text seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceablewe may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, byHis very peacefulness, broughtfire upon the earth.
He Himself, though He loved mankind and did no ill, was "despised and rejected of men, a Man of Sorrow and acquainted withgrief." Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the followingverse, "Blessed are they which are persecuted forrighteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Thus the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, butthey are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude! Purify our minds that wemay be "first pure, then peaceable."Fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into surprise and despair, when for Your sake we are persecutedamong men.
Now let us endeavor to enter into the meaning of our text. Thus would we handle it this morning, as God shall help us. First,let us describe the peacemaker. Secondly let us proclaim his blessedness. Thirdly, let us set him to work. And then, fourthly,let the preacher become a peacemaker himself.
I. First, LET US DESCRIBE THE PEACEMAKER.
The peacemaker, while distinguished by his character, has the outward position and condition of other men. He stands in allrelations of life just as other men do. Thus the peacemaker is a citizen and though he is a Christian, he remembers that Christianitydoes not require him to forego hiscitizenship, but to use and to improve it for Christ's glory. The peacemaker, then, as a citizen, loves peace. If he livesin this land, he knows that he lives among a people who are very sensitive of their honor and are speedily and easily provoked-apeople who are so fierce intheir character that the very mention of war stirs their blood and they feel as if they would go at it at once with alltheir force.
The peacemaker remembers the war with Russia and he recollects what fools we were that we should have meddled there-to bringto ourselves great losses both in trade and money-and no advantage whatever that is perceptible. He knows that this nationhas often been drifted into war for politicalpurposes and that usually the pressure and burden of it comes upon the poor working man-upon such as have to earn theirliving by the sweat of their face. Therefore, though he, like other men, feels hot blood-and being an Englishman, feels theblood of the old sea kings often inhis veins-yet he represses it and says to himself, "I must not strive, for the servant of God must be gentle to all men,apt to teach, patient."
So he puts his back against the current and when he hears everywhere the noise of war-and sees many that are hot for it-hedoes his best to administer a cooling draught. He says, "Be patient, let it alone, if the thing is evil, yet war is worsethan any other evil. There was never a bad peaceyet and never a good war," says he. "And whatever loss we may sustain by being too quiet, we shall certainly lose a hundredtimes as much by being too fierce."
And then in the present case he thinks how ill it would be for two Christian nations to go to war-two nations sprung of thesame blood-two countries which really have a closer relation than any other two countries upon the face of the earth. Rivalsin their liberal institutions-coadjutors inpropagating the Gospel of Christ-two nations that have within their midst more of the elect of God and more of the truefollowers of Christ than any other nations under Heaven. Yes, he thinks within himself, it were ill that the bones of oursons and daughters should go again tomake manure for our fields, as they have done.
He remembers that the farmers of Yorkshire brought home the mold from Waterloo with which to manure their own fields-the bloodand bones of their own sons and daughters-and he thinks it not meet that the prairies of America should be enriched with theblood and bones of his children. And on theother hand he thinks that he would not smite another man but would sooner be smitten of him and that blood would be to himan awful sight. So he says, "What I would not do myself, I would not have others do for me and if I would not be a killer,neither would I have others killedfor me."
He walks in vision over a field of battle. He hears the shrieks of the dying and the groans of the wounded. He knows thateven conquerors themselves have said that all the enthusiasm of victory has not been able to remove the horror of the dreadfulscene after the fight and so he says, "No, peace,peace!" If he has any influence in the commonwealth, if he is a member of the House of Parliament, if he is a writer ina newspaper, or if he speaks from the platform, he says, "Let us look well to it before we hurry into this strife. We mustpreserve our country's honor. We mustmaintain our right to entertain those who flee from their oppressors.
"We must maintain that England shall ever be the safe home of every rebel who flies from his king, a place from which theoppressed shall never be dragged by force of alms. Yet, still," he says, "cannot this be and yet no blood?" And he bids thelaw officers look well to it and see if they cannotfind that perhaps there may have been an oversight committed which may be pardoned and condoned without the shedding ofblood-without the plucking of the sword from its scabbard. Well, he says of war that it is a monster, that at its best itis a fiend, that of all scourges it isthe worst.
And he looks upon soldiers as the red twigs of the bloody rod and he begs God not to smite a guilty nation thus, but to putup the sword awhile that we be not cast into trouble, overwhelmed with sorrow and exposed to cruelty which may bring thousandsto the grave and multitudes to poverty. Thus thepeacemaker acts and he feels that while he does so, his conscience justifies him. And he is blessed and men shall one dayacknowledge that he was one of the children of God.
But the peacemaker is not only a citizen, but a man. If sometimes he lets general politics alone, yet as a man he thinks thatthe politics of his own person must always be those of peace. There, if his honor is stained, he stands not up for it- hecounts that it were a greater stain to his honorfor him to be angry with his fellow than for him to bear an insult. He hears others say, "If you tread upon a worm it willturn," but he says, "I am not a worm, but a Christian and therefore I do not turn except to bless the hand that smites andto pray for those that despitefullyuse me."
He has his temper, for the peacemaker can be angry and woe to the man who cannot be-he is like Jacob halting on his thigh-foranger is one of the holy feet of the soul when it goes in the right direction. But while he can be angry, he learns to "beangry and sin not," and "he suffers not thesun to go down upon his wrath." When he is at home, the peacemaker seeks to be quiet with his servants and with his household.He puts up with many things sooner than he will speak one uncomely word and if he rebukes, it is ever with gentleness, saying,"Why do you do this?-Why doyou do this!"-Not with the severity of a judge, but with the tenderness of a father.
The peacemaker may learn a lesson perhaps, from a story which I met with last week in reading the life of Mr. John Wesley.Going across in a ship to America with Mr. Oglethorpe, who was to be the governor of Savannah, he one day heard a great noisein the governor's cabin. So Mr. Wesley went thereand the governor said, "I dare say you want to know what this noise is about, Sir. I have good occasion for it. You know,Sir," said he, "that the only wine I drink is Cyprus wine and it is necessary for me. I put it on board and this rascal, myservant, this Grimaldi, has drunk allof it.
"I will have him beaten on the deck and the first ship of war that comes by, he shall be taken by press and enlisted in HisMajesty's service and a hard time he shall have of it, for I will let him know that I never forgive." "Your honor," said Mr.Wesley, "then I hope you never sin." The rebukewas so well put, so pointed and so needed, that the governor replied in a moment, "Alas, Sir, I do sin and I have sinnedin what I have said. For your sake he shall be forgiven. I trust he will not do the like again." So the peacemaker alwaysthinks that it is best for him, as he isa sinner himself and responsible to his own Master, not to be too hard a master on his servants, lest when he is provokingthem he may be also provoking his God.
The peacemaker goes abroad also and when he is in company he sometimes meets with slurs and even with insults- but he learnsto bear these-for he remembers that Christ endured much contradiction of sinners against Himself. Holy Cotton Mather, a greatPuritan Divine of America, had received anumber of anonymous letters in which he was greatly abused. Having read them and preserved them, he put a piece of paperround them and wrote upon the paper when he put them on a shelf, "Libels-Father forgive them!" So does the peacemaker do.He says of all these things, "They arelibels-Father, forgive them!" And he does not rush to defend himself, knowing that He whom he serves will take care thathis good name will be preserved, if only he himself be careful how he walks among men.
He goes into business and it sometimes happens to the peacemaker that circumstances occur in which he is greatly tempted togo to the law. But he never does this, unless he is compelled to it, for he knows that law-work is playing with edged toolsand that they who know how to use the tools yet cuttheir own fingers. The peacemaker remembers that the law is most profitable to those who carry it on. He knows, too, thatwhere men will give sixpence to the ministry for the good of their souls and where they pay a guinea to their physician forthe good of their bodies, they willspend a hundred pounds, or five hundred as a refresher to their counsel in the Court of Chancery.
So he says, "No, better that I be wronged by my adversary and he get some advantage, than that both of us should lose ourall." So he lets some of these things go by and he finds that on the whole he is none the loser by sometimes giving up hisrights. There are times when he is constrained todefend himself but even then he is ready for every compromise, willing to give way at any time and at any season. He haslearned the old adage, that "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure." And so he takes heed to it-to agree withhis adversary quickly while he isyet in the way- letting strife alone before it is meddled with. Or when it is meddled with, seeking to end it as quicklyas may be, as in the sight of God.
And then the peacemaker is a neighbor and though he never seeks to meddle with his neighbor's disputes, more especially ifit is a dispute between his neighbor and his wife, for well he knows that if they two disagree, yet they will both agree verysoon to disagree with him, if he meddles betweenthem. If he is called in when there is a dispute between two neighbors, he never excites them to animosity, but he saysto them, "You do not well, my Brethren. Why do you strive with one another?" And though he takes not the wrong side but seeksever to do justice, yet he tempersever his justice with mercy and says unto the one who is wronged, "Can not you have the nobility to forgive?"
And he sometimes puts himself between the two, when they are very angry and takes the blows from both sides. For he knowsthat Jesus did so -who took the blows from His Father and from us also-that so by suffering in our place, peace might be madebetween God and man. Thus the peacemaker actswhenever he is called to do his good offices and more especially if his station enables him to do it with authority. Heendeavors, if he sits upon the judgment seat, not to bring a case to a trial if it can be arranged otherwise. If he is a ministerand there is a difference amonghis people, he enters not into the details, for well he knows that there is much idle tittle-tattle, but he says, "Peace"to the billows and "Hush" to the winds. And so he bids men live.
They have so little while, he thinks, to dwell together, that it were meet they should live in harmony. And so he says, "Howgood and pleasant a thing it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity!" But once again the peacemaker has for his highesttitle, that he is a Christian. Being a Christian,he unites himself with some Christian Church-and here, as a peacemaker, he is as an angel of God. Even among Churches thereare those that are bowed down with infirmities and these infirmities cause Christian men and Christian women to differ attimes. So the peacemaker says,"This is unseemly, my Brother. Let us be at peace."
And he remembers what Paul says, "I beseech Euodias and I beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." Andhe thinks that if these two were thus besought by Paul to be of the same mind, unity must be a blessed thing and he laborsfor it. And sometimes the peacemaker, when he seesdifferences likely to arise between his denomination and others, turns to the history of Abram. and he reads how the herdsmanof Abram did strive with the herdsman of Lot.
And he notes that in the same verse it is said, "And the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled in the land." So he thinks itwas a shame that where there were Perizzites to look on, followers of the true God should disagree.
He says to Christians, "Do not do this, for we make the devil sport. We dishonor God. We damage our own cause. We ruin thesouls of men." And he says, "Put up your swords into your scabbards. Be at peace and fight not one with another." They whoare not peacemakers, when received into a Church,will fight upon the smallest notion-will differ about the minutest point. We have known Churches rent in pieces and schismscommitted in Christian bodies through things so foolish that a wise man could not perceive the occasion. Things so ridiculousthat a reasonable man must haveoverlooked them.
The peacemaker says, "Follow peace with all men." Specially he prays that the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of peace, mightrest upon the Church at all times. Banding believers together in one-that they being one in Christ, the world may know thatthe Father has sent His Son into the world,heralded as His mission was with an angelic song- "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men."
Now I trust in the description which I have given of the peacemaker, I may have described some of you. But I fear the mostof us would have to say, "Well, in many things I come short." However, this much I would add-if there are two Christian menhere present who are at variance with each other,I would be a peacemaker and bid them be peacemakers, too. Two Spartans had quarreled with each other and the Spartan king,Aris, bade them both meet him in a temple. When they were both there he heard their differences and he said to the priest,"Lock the doors of the temple, thesetwo shall never go forth till they be at one," and there, within the temple, he said, "It is unmeet to differ."
So they compounded at once their differences and went away. If this were done in an idol temple, much more let it be donein the house of God and if the Spartan heathen did this, much more let the Christian, the believer in Christ do it. This veryday, put aside from you all bitterness and allmalice and say one to another, "If in anything you have offended me, it is forgiven. And if in anything I have offendedyou, I confess my error, let the breach be healed and as children of God, let us be in union with one another." Blessed arethey who can do this, for "blessed arethe peacemakers!"
II. Having thus described the peacemaker, I shall go on to DECLARE HIS BLESSEDNESS. "Blessed are the peacemakers: for theyshall be called the children of God." A three-fold commendation is implied.
First, he is blessed. That is, God blesses him and I know that he whom God blesses is blessed. And he whom God curses, iscursed. God blesses him from the highest heavens. God blesses him in a god-like manner. God blesses him with the abundantblessings which are treasured up in Christ. And whilehe is blessed of God, the blessedness is diffused through his own soul. His conscience bears witness that as in the sightof God through the Holy Spirit, he has sought to honor Christ among men. More especially is he most blessed when he has beenmost assailed with curses. For thenthe assurance greets him, "So persecuted they the Prophets that were before you."
And whereas he has a command to rejoice at all times, yet he finds a special command to be exceedingly glad when he is ill-treated.Therefore he takes it well, if for well-doing he is called to suffer and he rejoices thus to bear a part of the Savior's Cross.He goes to his bed, no dreams of enmitydisturb his sleep. He rises and goes to his business and he fears not the face of any man, for he can say, "I have not inmy heart anything but friendship towards all." Or if he is attacked with slander and his enemies have forged a lie againsthim, he can nevertheless say-
"He that forged and he that threw the dart, Has each a brother's interest in my heart." Loving all, he is thus peaceful inhis own soul and he is blessed as one that inherits the blessing of the Most High.
And not infrequently it comes to pass that he is even blessed by the wicked. For though they would withhold a good word fromhim, they cannot. Overcoming evil with good, he heaps coals of fire upon their heads and melts the coldness of their enmitytill even they say, "He is a good man." And whenhe dies, those whom he has made at peace with one another, say over his tomb, "It were well if the world should see manyof his like, there were not half the strife, nor half the sin in it if there were many like he."
Secondly, you will observe that the text not only says he is blessed, but it adds, that he is one of the children of God.This he is by adoption and grace-but peacemaking is a sweet evidence of the work of the peaceful Spirit within. As the childof God, moreover, he has a likeness to his Fatherwho is in Heaven. God is peaceful, longsuffering and tender, full of loving kindness, pity and compassion. So is this peacemaker.Being like God, he bears his Father's image. Thus does he testify to men that he is one of God's children. As one of God'schildren, the peacemaker hasaccess to his Father.
He goes to Him with confidence, saying, "Our Father which are in Heaven," which he dare not say unless he could plead witha clear conscience. "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." He feels the tie of brotherhood with man and thereforehe feels that he may rejoice in the Fatherhood ofGod. He comes with confidence and with intense delight to his Father who is in Heaven, for he is one of the children ofthe Highest, who does good both to the unthankful and to the evil.
And still, there is a third word of commendation in the text. "They shall be called the children of God." They not only areso, but they shall be called so. That is, even their enemies shall call them so, even the world shall say, "Ah, that man isa child of God." Perhaps, Beloved, there is nothingthat so strikes the ungodly as the peaceful behavior of a Christian under insult. There was a soldier in India, a big fellow,who had been, before he enlisted, a prizefighter and afterwards had performed many deeds of valor. When he had been convertedthrough the preaching of amissionary all his mess-mates made a laughingstock of him. They counted it impossible that such a man as he had been shouldbecome a peaceful Christian.
So one day when they were at mess, one of them wantonly threw into his face and bosom a whole basinful of scalding soup. Thepoor man tore his clothes open to wipe away the scalding liquid and yet self-possessed amidst his excitement, he said, "Iam a Christian, I must expect this," and smiled atthem. The one who did it said, "If I had thought you would have taken it in that way, I would never have done it. I am verysorry I ever did so." His patience rebuked their malice and they all said he was a Christian. Thus he was called a child ofGod. They saw in him all evidencethat was to them the more striking, because they knew that they could not have done the same.
When Mr. Kilpin, of Exeter, was one day walking along the streets, an evil man pushed him from the pavement into the ditchand as he fell into the ditch, the man said, "Lay there, John Bunyan-that is good enough for you." Mr. Kilpin got up and wenton his way and when afterwards this man wantedto know how he took the insult, he was surprised that all Mr. Kilpin said was that he had done him more honor than dishonor,for he thought that being called John Bunyan was worth being rolled in the ditch a thousand times. Then he who had done thissaid that he was a good man.
So that they who are peacemakers are "called the children of God." They demonstrate to the world in such a way that the veryblind must see and the very deaf must hear that God is in them. O that we had grace enough to win this blessed commendation!If God has brought you far enough, my Hearer, tohunger and thirst after righteousness, I pray you never cease your hunger till He has brought you so far as to be a peacemaker,that you may be called a child of God.
III. But now, in the third place, I am to try and GET THE PEACEMAKER TO WORK.
You have much work to do, I doubt not, in your own households and your own circles of acquaintance. Go and do it. You rememberwell that text in Job-"Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?"-bywhich Job would have us know that unsavorythings must have something else with them, or else they will not well be pleasant for food. Now, our religion is an unsavorything to men-we must put salt with it and this salt must be our quietness and peace-making disposition. Then they who wouldhave eschewed our religionalone, will say of it, when they see the salt with it, "This is good," and they will find some relish in this "white ofan egg."
If you would commend your godliness to the sons of men-in your own houses make clear and clean work, purging out the old leaven-thatyou may offer sacrifices to God of a godly and heavenly sort. If you have any strifes among you, or any divisions, I prayyou, even as God, for Christ's sakeforgave you, so also do you. By the bloody sweat of Him who prayed for you and by the agonies of Him who died for you andin dying said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," forgive your enemies. "Pray for them that despitefullyuse you and bless them that curseyou." Let it be always said of you, as a Christian, "That man is meek and lowly in heart and would sooner bear injury himselfthan cause an injury to another."
But the chief work I want to set you about is this. Jesus Christ was the greatest of all peacemakers. "He is our Peace." Hecame to make peace with Jew and Gentile, "for He has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of partition betweenus." He came to make peace between all strivingnationalities, for we are "no more Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is All in All." He came to makepeace between His Father's justice and our offending souls and He has made peace for us through the blood of His Cross. Now,you who are the sons of peace,endeavor as instruments in His hands to make peace between God and men.
For your children's soul, let your earnest prayers go up to Heaven. For the souls of all your acquaintance and kinsfolk letyour supplications never cease. Pray for the salvation of your perishing fellow creatures. Thus will you be peacemakers. Andwhen you have prayed, use all the means withinyour power. Preach, if God has given you the ability- preach with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven-the reconcilingWord of Life.
Teach, if you cannot preach. Teach the Word. "Be instant in season and out of season." "Sow beside all waters." For the Gospel"speaks better things than the blood of Abel," and cries peace to the sons of men. Write to your friends of Christ and ifyou cannot speak much, speak a little for Him. Butoh, make it the object of your life to win others for Christ. Never be satisfied with going to Heaven alone. Ask the Lordthat you may be the spiritual father of many children and that God may bless you to the ingathering of much of the Redeemer'sharvest.
I thank God that there are so many among you who are alive to the love of souls. It makes my heart glad to hear of conversionsand to receive the converts. But I feel most glad when many of you, converted by my own instrumentality, under God, are madethe means of the conversion of others. Thereare Brothers and Sisters here who bring me constantly those who have been brought first to this house by them, over whomthey watched and prayed and at last have brought them to the minister, that he may hear their confession of faith.
Blessed are such peacemakers! You have "saved a soul from death and hidden a multitude of sins." "They that turn many to righteousnessshall shine as the stars forever and ever." They, indeed, in Heaven itself "shall be called the children of God." The genealogyof that Book, in which the names ofall the Lord's people are written, shall record that through God the Holy Spirit they have brought souls into the bond ofpeace through Jesus Christ.
IV. The minister has now, in the last place, TO PRACTICE HIS OWN TEXT, AND ENDEAVOR THROUGH GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE A PEACEMAKERTHIS MORNING.
I speak to many a score of persons this morning who know nothing of peace. For "there is no peace, says my God, to the wicked.""The wicked is like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." I speak not to you with anydesire of making a false peace with your souls.Woe to the prophets who say, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace!" Rather let me, first of all, that we may make soundwork in this matter, expose the peaceless, the warring state of your soul.
O Soul! You are this morning at war with your conscience. You have tried to quiet it, but it will prick you. You have shutup this recorder of the town of Mansoul in a dark place and you have built a wall before his door. But still, when his fitsare on him, your conscience will thunder at you andsay, "This is not right. This is the path that leads unto Hell, this is the road of destruction." Oh, there are some ofyou to whom conscience is as a ghost, haunting you by day and night. You know the good, though you choose the evil. You prickyour fingers with the thorns ofconscience when you try to pluck the rose of sin. To you the downward path is not an easy one. It is hedged up and ditchedup and there are many bars and gates and chains on the road but you climb over them, determined to ruin your own souls.
Oh, there is war between you and conscience. Conscience says, "Turn," but you say, "I will not." Conscience says, "Close yourshop on Sunday," conscience says, "Alter this system of trade, it is cheating." Conscience says, "Lie not one to another,for the Judge is at the door." Conscience says,"Away with that drinking cup, it makes the man into something worse than a brute." Conscience says, "Rend yourself fromthat unchaste connection-have done with that evil- bolt your door against lust." But you say, "I will drink the sweet thoughit damn me, I will go still to mycups and to my haunts though I perish in my sins."
There is war between you and your conscience! Still your conscience is God's vice-regent in your soul. Let conscience speaka moment or two this morning. Fear him not, he is a good friend to you. And though he speak roughly, the day will come whenyou will know that there is more music in the veryroaring of conscience than in all the sweet and siren tones which lust adopts to cheat you to your ruin. Let your consciencespeak.
But more, there is war between you and God's Law. The Ten Commandments are against you this morning. The first one comes forwardand says, "Let him be cursed, for he denies Me. He has another God besides Me, his God is his belly, he yields homage to hislust." All the Ten Commandments, like tengreat pieces of cannon are pointed at you today for you have broken all God's statutes and lived in the daily neglect ofall His commands. Soul, you will find it a hard thing to go to war with the Law. When the Law came in peace, Sinai was altogetheron a smoke and even Moses said,"I do exceedingly fear and quake."
What will you do when the Law comes in terror? When the trumpet of the archangel shall tear you from your grave? When theeyes of God shall burn their way into your guilty soul? When the great books shall be opened and all your sin and shame shallbe published? Can you stand against an angry Law inthat day? When the officers of the Law shall come forth to devour you up to the tormentors and cast you away forever frompeace and happiness, Sinner, what will you do? Can you dwell with everlasting fires? Can you abide the eternal burning?
O Man, "agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him-lest at any time the adversary deliver you tothe judge and the judge deliver you to the officer and you be cast into prison. Verily I say unto you, you shall by no meanscome out from there till you have paid theuttermost farthing."
But, Sinner, do you know that you are this morning at war with God? He that made you and was your best Friend you have forgottenand neglected. He has fed you and you have used your strength against Him. He has clothed you-the clothes you have upon yourback today are the livery of Hisgoodness-yet, instead of being the servant of Him whose livery you wear, you are the slave of His greatest enemy. The verybreath in your nostrils is the loan of His charity and yet you use that breath perhaps to curse Him, or at the best, in lasciviousnessor loose conversation,to do dishonor to His Laws.
He that made you has become your enemy through your sin and you are still today hating Him and despising His Word. You say,"I do not hate Him." Soul, I charge you then, "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." "No," you say, "I cannot, I will not dothat!" Then you hate Him. If you loved Him, you wouldkeep this, His great command. "His commandment is not grievous," it is sweet and easy. You would believe in His Son if youdid love the Father, for "he that loves the Father loves Him also that is begotten of Him." Are you thus at war with God?Surely this is a sorry plight for youto be in. Can you meet Him that comes against you with ten thousand? Can you stand against Him who is Almighty, who makesHeaven shake at His reproof and breaks the crooked serpent with a word?
Do you hope to hide from Him? "Can any hide in secret places, that I shall not see him?" says the Lord. Though you dig inCarmel, yet will He pluck you from there. Though you dive into the caverns of the sea, there shall He command the crookedserpent and it shall bite you. If you make your bed inHell, He will find you out. If you climb to Heaven, He is there. Creation is your prison and He can find you when He will.Or do you think you can endure His fury? Are your ribs of iron? Are your bones brass? If they are so, yet shall they meltlike wax before the coming of the LordGod of Hosts, for He is mighty and as a lion shall He tear in pieces His prey and as a fire shall He devour His adversary,"for our God is a consuming fire."
This, then, is the state of every unconverted man and woman in this place this morning. You are at war with conscience, atwar with God's Law and at war with God Himself. And, now, then, as God's ambassador, I come to treat of peace. I beseech yougive heed. "As though God did beseech you by me, Ipray you, in Christ's place, be you reconciled to God." "In Christ's place." Let the preacher vanish for a moment. Lookand listen. It is Christ speaking to you now. Me-thinks I hear Him speak to some of you. This is the way He speaks, "Soul,I love you. I love you from My heart, Iwould not have you at enmity with My Father." The tear proves the Truth of what He states, while He cries, "How often wouldI have gathered you, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wing, but you would not."
"Yet," says He "I come to treat with you of peace. Come, now and let us reason together. I will make an Everlasting Covenantwith you, even the sure mercies of David. Sinner," says He, "you are bid now to hear God's note of peace to your soul, forthus it runs-'You are guilty and condemned. Willyou confess this? Are you willing to throw down your weapons now and say, Great God, I yield, I yield, I would no longerbe Your foe?' " If so, peace is proclaimed to you. "Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts andlet him turn unto the Lord, for Hewill have mercy upon him and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
Pardon is finely presented to every soul that unfeignedly repents of its sin. But that pardon must come to you through faith.So Jesus stands here this morning, points to the wounds upon His breast and spreads His bleeding hands and says, "Sin, ortrust in Me and live!" God proclaims to you nolonger His fiery Law, but His sweet, His simple Gospel-believe and live. "He that believes on the Son is not condemned,but he that believes not is condemned already, be- cause he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.""As Moses lifted up the serpent in thewilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have eternallife."
O Soul, does the spirit of God move in you this morning? Do you say, "Lord, I would be at peace with You?" Are you willingto take Christ on His own terms and they are no terms at all-they are simply that you should make no terms in the matter-butgive yourself up, body, soul and spirit, to besaved of Him? Now, if my Master were here visibly, I think He would plead with you in such a way that many of you wouldsay, "Lord, I believe, I would be at peace with You."
But even Christ Himself never converted a soul apart from the Holy Spirit and even He as a preacher won not many to Him, forthey were hard of heart. If the Holy Spirit is here, He may as much bless you when I plead in Christ's stead as though Hepleaded Himself. Soul, will you have Christ or not?Young men, young women, you may never hear this word preached in your ears again. Will you die at enmity against God? Youthat are sitting here, still unconverted, your last hour may come, before another Sabbath's sun shall dawn. The morrow youmay never see.
Would you go into eternity "enemies to God by wicked works?" Soul, will you have Christ or not? Say "No," if you mean it.Say "No, Christ, I never will be saved by You." Say it. Look the matter in the face. But I pray you do not say, "I will makeno answer." Come, give some answer thismorning-yes, this morning. Thank God you can give an answer. Thank God that you are not in Hell. Thank God that your sentencehas not been pronounced-that you have not received your due deserts. God help you to give the right answer! Will you haveChrist or not?
"I am not fit." There is no question of fitness. It is, will you have Him? "I am black with sin." He will come into your blackheart and clean it. "Oh, but I am hard-hearted." He will come into your hard heart and soften it. Will you have Him?-you canhave Him if you will. When God makes a soulwilling, it is a clear proof that He means to give that soul Christ. And if you are willing He is not unwilling. If He hasmade you willing, you may have Him. "Oh," says one, "I cannot think that I might have Christ." Soul, you may have Him now.Mary, He calls you! John, He callsyou! Sinner, whoever you may be out of this great throng, if there is in your soul this morning a holy willingness towardsChrist, yes, or if there is even a faint desire towards Him, He calls you, He calls you!
O tarry not, but come and trust in Him. Oh, if I had such a Gospel as this to preach to lost souls in Hell, what an effectit would have upon them! Surely, surely, if they could once more have the Gospel preached in their ears, methinks the tearswould bedew their poor cheeks and they would say,"Great God, if we may but escape from Your wrath we will lay hold on Christ." But here it is preached among you, preachedevery day, till I fear it is listened to as an old, old story. Perhaps it is my poor way of telling it. But God knows if Iknew how to tell it better, I would doso.
O my Master! Send a better ambassador to these men, if that will woo them. Send a more earnest pleader and a more tender heartif that will bring them to Yourself! But oh, bring them, bring them! Our heart longs to see them brought. Sinner, will youhave Christ or not? I know this morning is theday of God's power to some of your souls. The Holy Spirit is striving with some of you. Lord, will them! Conquer them! Overcomethem! Do you say, "Yes, happy day! I would be led in triumph, captive to my Lord's great love?"
Soul, if so, it is done if you believe. Trust Christ and your many sins are all forgiven you-cast yourself before His dearCross and say-
"A guilty, weak and helpless worm, Into Your arms I fall; Be You my strength and righteousness, My Jesus and my All."
And if He rejects you, come tell me of it. If He refuses you, let me hear about it. There was never such a case yet. He alwayshas received those that come. He always will. He is an open-handed and an open-hearted Savior. O Sinner! May God bring youto put your trust in Him once and for all!
Spirits above! Tune your harps anew. There is a sinner born to God this morning! Lead the song, O Saul of Tarsus! And followthe sinner with sweetest music, O Mary! Let music roll up before the Throne today! For there are heirs of glory born and prodigalshave returned! To God be the glory foreverand ever! Amen.