Sermon 556. The Sinner's Friend
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"A friend of publicans and sinners."-Matthew 11:19.
MANY A TRUE WORD is spoken in jest, and many a tribute to virtue has been unwittingly paid by the sinister lips of malice.The enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ thought to brand him with infamy, hold him up to derision, and hand his name down toeverlasting scorn, as "a friend of publicans and sinners." Short-sighted mortals! Their scandal published his reputation.To this day the Savior is adored by the title which was minted as a slur. It was designed to be a stigma, thatevery good man would shudder at and shrink from; it has proved to be a fascination which wins the heart, and enchantsthe soul of all the godly. Saints in heaven, and saints on earth delight to sing of him thus-
"Savior of sinners they proclaim,
Sinners of whom the chief I am."
What the invidious Jews said in bitter spleen, has been turned by the Holy Spirit to the most gracious account. Where theypoured out vials of hate, odours of sacred incense arise. Troubled consciences have found a sweet balm in the very sound.Jesus, "the friend of publicans and sinners," has proved himself friendly to them, and they have become friends with him;so completely has he justified the very name which his enemies gave him in ribald affront.
We shall take this title of Jesus to-night as an order of distinction which sets forth his excellency, and as God helps us,we shall try to exalt his name and proclaim his fame, while we attempt to explain how he was the friend of sinners; and how he shows that he is still the same.
I. OUR LORD PROVED HIMSELF IN HIS OWN TIME TO BE THE FRIEND OF SINNERS.
What better proof could he give of it than coming from the majesty of his Father's house to the meanness of Bethlehem's manger?What better proof could he give than leaving the society of cherubim and seraphim, to lie in the manger where the horned oxenfed, and to become the associate of fallen men? The incarnation of the Savior in the very form of sinners, taking upon himselfthe flesh of sinners, being born of a sinner, having a sinner for his reputed father-his verybeing a man, which is tantamount to being in the same form with sinners-surely this were enough to prove that he is thesinner's friend.
When you take up the roll of his earthly lineage and begin to read it through, you will be struck with the fact that thereare but few women mentioned in it; and yet three out of those mentioned were harlots, so that even in his lineage there wasthe taint of sin, and a sinner' s blood would have run in his veins if he had been the true son of Joseph; but inasmuch ashe was begotten by the Holy Ghost, who overshadowed the Virgin, in him was no sin; yet his reputed pedigreeran through the veins of sinners. Tamar, and Rahab, and Bath-sheba are three names which bring to remembrance deeds ofshame, and yet these stand in the records as the ancestors of the Son of Mary, the sinner's friend!
As soon as Jesus Christ, being born in the likeness of sinful flesh, has come to years of maturity, and has commenced hisreal life-work, he at once discloses his friendship for sinners by associating with them. You do not find him standing ata distance, issuing his mandates and his orders to sinners to make themselves better, but you find him coming among them likea good workman who stands over his work; he takes his place where the sin and the iniquity are, and hepersonally comes to deal with it. He does not write out a prescription and send by another hand his medicines with whichto heal the sickness of sin, but he comes right into the lazar-house, touches the wounded, looks at the sick; and there ishealing in the touch; there is life in the look. The great Physician took upon himself our sicknesses and bare our infirmities,and so proved himself to be really the sinner's friend. Some people appear to like to have a philanthropic love towards thefallen, but yet they would not touch them with a pair of tongs. They would lift them up if they could, but it must beby some machinery-some sort of contrivance by which they would not degrade themselves or contaminate their own hands. Notso the Savior. Up to the very elbow he seems to thrust that gracious arm of his into the mire, to pull up the lost one outof the horrible pit and out of the miry clay. He takes himself the mattock and the spade, and goes to work in the great quarrythat hemay get out the rough stones which afterwards he will himself polish with his own bitter tears and bloody sweat, thathe may make them fit to shine for ever in the glorious temple of the Lord his God. He comes himself into direct, personalcontact with sin, without being contaminated with it. He comes as close to it as a man can come. He eats and drinks with sinners.He sits at the Pharisee's table one day, and does not rise because there is a crowd of people no better than they should becoming near him. Another day he goes to the publican's house, and the publican had, no doubt, been a great extortionerin his time; but Jesus sits there, and that day does salvation come to that publican's house. Beloved, this is a sweet traitabout Christ, and proves how real and how true was his love, that he made his associations with sinners, and did not shuneven the chief of them.
Nay, he not only came among them, but he was always seeking their good by his ministry. If there was anywhere a sinner, alost sheep of the house of Israel, Christ was after that sinner. Never such an indefatigable shepherd; he sought that whichwas lost till he found it. One of his earliest works of mercy we will tell you of in brief. He was once on a journey, andSamaria was a little out of his way; but there lived in a city of that country a woman-ah! the less said ofher the better. She had had five husbands, and he whom she then had was not her husband, nor were any of the others either.She was a disgrace to that city of Samaria. But Jesus, who has a keen eye for sinners, and a heart which beats high for them,means to save that woman, and he must and he will have her. Being weary, he sits down on a well to rest. A special providencebrings the woman to the well. The conventionalities of society forbid him to talk with her. But he breaks through thenarrow bigotry of caste. A Samaritan by birth, he cares not for that; but will that most holy being condescend to havefamiliar conversation with her-a dishonor to her sex? He will. His disciples may marvel when they come back and find him talkingwith her, but he will do it. He begins to open up the Word of life to her understanding, and that woman becomes the firstChristian missionary we ever hear of, for she ran back to the city, leaving her water-pot, and crying, "Come, see a man whichtold me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" And they came and believed; and there was great joy in thatcity of Samaria. You know, too, that there was another sinner. He was a bad fellow-I fear him. He had been constantly grindingthe faces of the poor, and getting more out of them by way of taxation than he should have done; but the little man had thebump of curiosity, and he must needs see the preacher, and the preacher must needs love him; for I say there was a wonderfulattraction in Jesus to a sinner. That sinner's heart was like a piece of iron: Christ's heart was like a loadstone; andwherever there was a sinner the loadstone began to feel it, and soon the sinner began to feel the loadstone too. "Azccheus,"said Christ, "make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house;" and down comes the sinner, and salvation hascome to his house at that hour, Oh! Christ never seemed to preach so sweetly as when he was preaching a sinner's sermon. Iwouldhave loved to have seen that dear face of his when he cried, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, andI will give you rest;" or, better still, to have seen his eyes running with whole showers of tears when he said, "O Jerusalem,Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, andye would not even!" or to have heard him preach those three great sermons upon sinners when he described the woman as sweepingthehouse and taking away the dust, that she might find the lost piece of her money; and the shepherd going from hill to hillafter the wandering sheep; and the father running to welcome that rag-clad prodigal; kissing him with the kisses of love,clothing him with the best robe, and inviting him into the feast, while they did dance and make merry because the lost wasfound, and he who was dead was alive again. Why, he was the mightiest of preachers for sinners, beyond a doubt, Oh! how helovedthem! Never mind the Pharisees: he has thunderbolts for them. "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees!" But when publicansand harlots come, he always has the gate of mercy ajar for them. For them he always has some tender word, some loving saying,such as this-"Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven untomen;" or such like words of tender wooing. The very chief of sinners was thus drawn into the circle of his disciples.
And you know, dear friends, he did not prove his love merely by preaching to them, and living with them, and by his patiencein enduring their contradiction against himself, and all their evil words and deeds, but he proved it by his prayers too.He used his mighty influence with the Father in their behalf. He took their polluted names on his holy lips; he was not ashamedto call them brethren. Their cause became his own, and in their interest his pulse throbbed. How manytimes on the cold mountains he kept his heart warm with love to them! How often the sweat rolled down his face when hewas in an agony of spirit for them I cannot tell you. This much I do know, that on that self-same night when he sweat as itwere great drops of blood falling down to the ground, he prayed this prayer-after having prayed for his saints, he went onto say-"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." Here, truly, theheartof the Savior was bubbling up and welling over towards sinners. And you never can forget that almost his last words were,"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Though wilfully and wickedly they pierced his hands and his feet,yet were there no angry words, but only that short, loving, hearty prayer-"Father, forgive them; for they know not what theydo." Ah! friends, if there ever was a man who was a friend to others, Jesus was a friend to sinners his whole life through.
This, however, is but little. As for the river of the Savior's love to sinners, I have only brought you to its banks. Youhave but stood on the bank and dipped your feet in the flood; but now prepare to swim. So fond was he of sinners that he madehis grave with the wicked. He was numbered with the transgressors. God's fiery sword was drawn to smite a world of sinnersdown to hell. It must fall on those sinners. But Christ loves them. His prayers stay the arm of God alittle while, but still the sword must fall in due time. What is to be done? By what means can they be rescued? Swifterthan the lightning's flash I see that sword descending. But what is that in vision I behold? It falls-but where? Not on theneck of sinners; it is not their neck which is broken by its cruel edge; it is not their heart which bleeds beneath its awfulforce. No; the "friend of sinners" has put himself into the sinner's place! and then, as if he had been the sinner, thoughinhim was no sin, he suffers, bleeds, and dies-no common suffering-no ordinary bleeding-no death such as mortals know. Itwas a death in which the second death was comprehended; a bleeding in which the very veins of God were emptied. The God-mandivinely suffered. I know not how else to express the suffering. It was a more than mortal agony, for the divine strengthenedthe human, and the man was made vast and mighty to endure through his being a God. Being God and man he endured more thanten thousand millions of men all put together could have suffered. He endured, indeed, the hells of all for whom he died,the torments, or the equivalent for the torments, which all of them ought to have suffered-the eternal wrath of God condensedand put into a cup, too bitter for mortal tongue to know, and then drained to its utmost dregs by the loving lips of Jesus.Beloved, this was love. "Herein is love, that while we were yet sinners, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." "Greaterlove hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." This Christ has done, and he is, therefore demonstratedto be the friend of sinners.
But the trial is over; the struggle is passed; the Savior is dead and buried; he rises again, and after he has spent fortydays on earth-in that forty days proving still his love for sinners-he rose again for their justification; I see him ascendingup on high. Angels attend him as the clouds receive him.
"They bring his chariot from on high,
To bear him to his throne;
Clap their triumphant wings and cry,
'The glorious work is done.'"
What pomp! What a procession! What splendor! He will forget his poor friends the sinners now, will he not? Not he! I thinkI hear the song, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may comein." The bars of massy light are all unloosed; the pearly gates are all wide open flung; and as he passes through, mark you,the highest joy which swells his soul is that he has opened those gates, not for himself, for they werenever shut on him, but that he has opened them for sinners. It was for this, indeed, he died; and it is for this thathe ascends on high, that he may "open the kingdom of heaven for all believers." See him as he rides through heaven's streets!"Thou hast ascended up on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts of men." Ah! but hear the refrain,for this is the sweetest note of all the hymn, "Yea, for the rebellious also-yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord Godmight dwell among them." The scattered gifts of his coronation, the lavish bounties of his ascension, are still for sinners.He is exalted on high-for what? To give repentance and remission of sins. He still wears upon his breastplate the names ofsinners; upon his hands and upon his heart does he still bear the remembrance of those sinners; and every day for the sinner'ssake he doth not hold his peace, and for the sinner's sake he doth not rest, but cries unto God until every sinner shallbe brought safely home. Every sinner who believeth, every sinner who was given to him, every sinner whom he bought withblood-he will not rest, I say, till all such are gathered to be the jewels of his crown, world without end.
Methinks we cannot say more; and 1 think you will say we could not have said less concerning the way in which the Savior provedhimself to be the sinner's friend. If there are any of you who dare to doubt him after this, I know not what further to advance.If there can be one who has proved himself your friend, surely Jesus did it, and he is willing to receive you now. What hehas done he still continues to do. O that you might have grace to perceive that Jesus is thelover of your soul, that you might find the blessedness which all these tokens of friendship, of which we have been speaking,have brought for believing sinners.
II. While we change the subject a little, we shall still keep to the text, and notice WHAT CHRIST IS DOING NOW FOR SINNERS.
There is a deep principle involved here-a principle the Pharisee of old could not understand, and the cold heart of humanityis slow to embrace it to-day. I have two explanations to offer of the way in which Jesus personally discovers himself to bethe friend of sinners, and I will just mention these before I come to the application of the subject I intend. Once upon atime a woman was brought to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees: she was an adulteress, she had beentaken in the very act. They tell "the sinners friend" what sentence Moses would pronounce in such a case, and they askhim, how sayest thou? This they said tempting him. They were not much concerned about the unhappy creature; the accusationthey were intent to lay was against the Man of Nazareth. You know how he disposed of the case, and put her accusers out ofcountenance. He did not bring the sinner up before the magistrate; nay, he would not act the judge's part, and pronounce sentence,rather would he act the neighbor's part; he acquitted himself as a friend. There is a proverb among a certain class ofhard-dealing tradesmen, "We know no friendship in business;" and full well they carry it out, while they grind the faces ofthe poor without pity, and strive to over-reach one another without fairness. And there was in like manner no friendship,no mercy whatever, among those gentlemen of the long robe. Righteousness, to their idea, stood in exacting justice with rigidseverity; and as for wickedness, it was only shameful when it was found out. She who was taken in the act must be stoned.They who had done it secretly must prosecute. The real friendship of Jesus appears in his singling out the object of pity;and where they accused him of winking at crime and harbouring the criminal, he was truly laying the axe at the root of thetree, and sheltering the victims while he upbraided the arrogant rulers, whose secret vices were the genuine cause of thewretchedness which had fallen upon the dregs of the nation. I commend this thought to your consideration. When it is saidof him, he is a "friend of pubhicans and sinners," it was implied that he was not a friend of Scribes and Pharisees. Yet again,I want you to notice that the office which Christ came to fulfill towards sinners was that of pure, unmingled friendship.Let us give you an illustration. There is an awful story abroad: a murder has been committed; and the poor wretch who committedit has cut his own throat. The policeman and the surgeon are quickly on the spot. The one comes there in the interestof law, the other attends in the interest of humanity. Says the officer of police, "Man, you are my prisoner;" says the doctor,"My dear fellow, you are my patient." And now he lays a delicate hand upon the wound, he stanches the blood, applies softliniments, binds it up with plasters, and, bending down his ear, listens to the man's breathing: taking hold of his hand,he feelshis pulse: gently raising his head, he administers to him some wine or stimulant, takes him to the hospital, gives thenurse instructions to watch him, and orders that he shall be given nutritious diet as he is able to bear it. Day after dayhe still visits him, and uses all his skill and all his diligence to heal the man's Wounds. Is that the way to deal with criminals?Certainly it is not the manner in which the police deal. Their business is to find out all the traces and evidences of hisguilt. But the medical attendant is not concerned with the man as an evil doer, but as a sufferer. So is it with the sinner.Moses is the officer of justice who comes to arrest him. Christ is the good Physician who comes to heal him; he says, "O Israel,thou hast destroyed thyself but in me is thy help." He deals with the disease, with the wounds, with the sufferings of sinners.He is therefore their friend. Of course the parallel will only go a little way. In the instance of the murderer, thesurgeon would hand his patient over to the officers as soon as his wound was recovered; but in the conduct of our Saviorhe redeems the soul from under the law, and delivers it from the penalty of sin, as well as restores it from the self-inflictedinjuries. But oh! if I could but show thee that Christ treats the sinner with pity, rather than with indignation; that theSon of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them; that his visit to our world was mediatoral, not to condemntheworld, but to give his life a ransom for many; surely, then, thou wouldst see reason enough why the sinner should lookto him as a friend indeed.
Ah! then; I would go further. I would entreat thee to make the case thine own. Thou art a sinner; can I not convince theethat he is thy friend?
You were sick the other day. The physician looked very grave, and whispered something to your wife. She did not tell you whatit was, but your own life trembled in the scale, and it is a wonder you are here to-night. Shall I tell you why you are here?Do you see that tree yonder? It has been standing in its place for many years, but it has never yielded any fruit, and severaltimes the master of the garden has said, "Cut it down." The other day the woodman came with hisaxe; he felt its edge, it was sharp and keen enough, and he began to cut, and the chips were flying, and he made a deepgash. But the gardener came by, one who had watched over the tree, and had hope of it even yet, and he said, "Spare it-spareit yet a little longer; the wound thou hast made may heal; and I will dig about it, and dung it, and if it bring forth fruitwell; spare it another year, and if not then cut it down." That tree is yourself. The woodman is Death. That chipping at thetrunk of the tree was your sickness. Jesus is he who spared you. You had not been here to-night-you had been there inhell among damned spirits, howling in unutterable woe, if it had not been that the friend of sinners had spared your life.
And where are you to-night? Perhaps, my hearers, you are in an unusual place for you. Your Sunday evenings are not often spentin the house of God. There are other places which know you, but your seat there is empty to-night. There has been much persuasionto bring you here, and it may be that you have come against your will; but some friend has asked you to conduct him to thespot, and here you are. Do you know why you are here? It is a friendly providence, managed by thesinner's friend which has brought you here, that you may hear the sound of mercy, and have a loving invitation tenderedto you. Be grateful to the Savior that he has brought you to the gospel-pool. May you-O, may you this night be made to stepin and be washed from sin! But it is kind of him, and proves how true a friend he is of sinners, that he has brought you here.I will leave you now where you are, and I will tell you how he has dealt with other sinners, for mayhap this may lead youtoask him to deal the same with you.
I know a sinner-while I live I must know him. Full well do I remember him when he was hard of heart and an enemy to God bya multitude of wicked works. But this friend of sinners loved him; and passing by one day, he looked right into his soul withsuch a look, that his hard heart began to break. There were deep throes as though a birth of a divine sort were coming on.There was an agony, and there was a grief unutterable; and that poor soul did not think it kind ofJesus; but, indeed, it was kindness too intense ever fully to estimate, for there is no saving a soul except by makingit feel its need of being saved. There must be in the work of grace an emptying and a pulling down before there can be a fillingand a building up. That soul knew no peace for many a year, and the sole of its foot had no rest; but one day
"I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down,
Thy head upon my breast.
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary, and worn, and sad,
I found in him a resting-place,
And he has made me glad!
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink, and live.
I came to Jesus and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quench'd, my soul revived,
And now I live in him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
I am this dark world's light,
Look unto me, thy morn shall rise,
And all thy days be bright.
I look'd to Jesus and I found
In him my star, my sun
And in that light of light I'll walk,
Till travelling days are done."
Ay, said I, Christ is the friend of sinners! So say I, and so will I say while this poor lisping stammering tongue can articulatea sound. And methinks God had a design of abundant mercy when he saved my soul. I had not then believed it, though a mother'sloving accents might have whispered it in my ears. But he seems to remind me of it over and over again, till love and terrormingle in my breast, saying, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel." O my blessed Master, thoudost trust my lips when thou dost bear witness to my heart. Thou givest charge to my tongue when thou constrained my soul."Am I a chosen vessel?" It is to bear his name to sinners. As a full bottle seeks vent, so must my testimony pant for utterance.O sinner, if thou trustest him, he will be such a friend to thee; and if thou hast now a broken heart and a contrite spirit,these are his work; and it is a proof of his great love to thee if he has made thee to hunger and thirst after him.
Let me impress upon you that Jesus is the friend of the friendless. She who had spent all her money on physicians withoutgetting relief, obtained a cure gratis when she came to him. He who bath "nothing to pay" gets all his debts cancelled by this friend. And he who was ready to perishwith hunger, finds not only a passing meal, but a constant supply at his hands.
We know of a place in England still existing, where there is a dole of bread served to every passer-by who chooses to askfor it. Whoever he may be he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him. JesusChrist so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that, whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knockand have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this hospital of the cross abath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, alwaysefficacious. There is no sinner who ever went into it and found it, could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarletand crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow. As if this were not enough, there is attachedto this hospital of the cross a wardrobe, and a sinner, making application simply as a sinner, with nothing in his hand, butbeingjust empty and naked, he may come and be clothed from head to foot. And if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merelyhave an under garment, but he may have armor which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Nay,if he wants a sword he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. There is nothing that his heart can desire that isgood for him which he shall not receive. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritageofglorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.
Beloved, I cannot tell you all that Christ has done for sinners, but this I know, that if he meets with you to-night, andbecomes your friend, he will stand by you to the last. He will go home with you to-night. No matter how many pairs of stairsyou have to go up, Jesus will go with you. No matter if there be no chair to sit down on, he will not disdain you. You shallbe hard at work to-morrow, but as you wipe the sweat from your brow he shall stand by you. You will,perhaps, be despised for his sake, but he will not forsake you. You will, perhaps, have days of sickness, but he willcome and make your bed in your sickness for you. You will, perhaps, be poor, but your bread shal be given you, and your watershall be sure, for he will provide for you. You will vex him much and grieve his Spirit. You will often doubt him-you willgo after other lovers. You will provoke him to jealousy, but he will never cease to love you. You will, perhaps, grow coldto him,and even forget his dear name for a time, but he will never forget you. You may, perhaps, dishononr his cross, and damagehis fair fame among the sons of men, but he will never cease to love you; nay, he will never love you less-he cannot loveyou more. This night he doth espouse himself unto you. Faith shall be the wedding-ring which he will put upon your finger.He plights his troth to you,
"Though you should him ofttimes forget
His lovingkindness fast is set."
His heart shall be so true to you that he will never leave you nor forsake you. You will come to die soon, but the friendof sinners, who loved you as a sinner and would not cast you off when your sinnership kept breaking up, will still he withyou when you come to the sinner's doom, which is to die. I see you going down the shelving banks of Jordan, but the sinner'sfriend goes with you. Ah! dear heart, he will put his arm beneath you, and bid you fear not; and when inthe thick shades of that grim night you expect to see a fearful visage-the grim face of Death-you shall see instead thereof,you shall see his sweet and smiling face, bright as an evening star, by your soul, and you shall hear him say, "Fear not,I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God." You will land in the world of spirits by-and-by; but will the sinner's friendforsake you then? No; he will be pleased to own you; he will meet you on the other side the Jordan, and he will say,"Come, my beloved, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and have bought thee, though thou wast a sinner vile, andnow I am not ashamed to confess thee before my holy angels; nay, come with me, and I will take thee to my Father's face, andwill confess thee there." And when the day shall come in which the world shall be judged, he will be thy friend then. Thoushalt sit on the bench with him. At the right hand of the Judge shalt thou stand, accepted in him who was thine Advocate,and whois now thy Judge, to acquit thee. And when the splendours of the millennium shall come, thou shalt partake of them; andwhen the end shall be, and the world shall be rolled up like a worn-out vesture, and these arching skies shall have passedaway like a forgotten dream; when eternity, with its deep-sounding waves shall break upon the mocks of time and sweep themaway for ever-then, on that sea of glass mingled with fire, thou shalt stand with Christ, thy friend still, owning theenotwithstanding all thy misbehaviour in the world which has gone, and loving thee now, loving thee on as long as eternityshall last. Oh! what a friend is Christ to sinners, to sinners!
Now do recollect, that we have been talking about sinners; there is a notion abroad that Jesus Christ came into the worldto save respectable people, and that he will save decent sort of folks; that those of you who go regularly to a place of worship,and are good sort of people, will be saved. Now Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; and who does that mean?Well, it includes some of us who have not been permitted to go into outward sin; but it also includeswithin its deep, broad compass those who have gone to the utmost extent of iniquity.
Talk of sinners! Walk the streets by moonlight, if you dare, and you will see sinners then. Watch when the night is dark,and the wind is howling, and the picklock is grating in the door, and you will see sinners then. Go to you jail, and walkthrough the wards, and see the men with heavy, over-hanging brows, men whom you would not like to meet out at night, and thereare sinners there. Go to the Reformatories, and see those who have betrayed an early and a juveniledepravity, and you will see sinners there. Go across the seas to the place where a man will gnaw a bone upon which isreeking human flesh, and there is a sinner there. Go you where you will, and ransack earth to find sinners, for they are commonenough; you may find them in every lane and street, of every city and town, and village and hamlet. It is for such that Jesusdied. If you will select me the grossest specimen of humanity, if he be but born of woman, I will have hope of him yet, becausethe gospel of Christ is come to sinners, and Jesus Christ is come to seek and to save sinners. Electing love has selectedsome of the worst to be made the best. Redeeming love has bought, specially bought, many of the worst to be the reward ofthe Savior's passion. Effectual grace calls out and compels to come in many of the vilest of the vile; and it is thereforethat I have tried to-night to preach my Master's love to sinners.
Oh! by that love, looking out of those eyes in tears; oh! by that love, streaming from those wounds flowing with blood; bythat faithful love, that strong love, that pure, disinterested, and abiding love; oh! by the heart and by the bowels of theSavior's compassion, I do conjure you turn not away as though it were nothing to you; but believe on him and you shall besaved. Trust your souls with him and he will bring you to his Father's right hand in glory everlasting.
May God give us a blessing for Jesus' sake. Amen.