Sermon 669. Open Heart For The Great Savior
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 17, 1865,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But as many as received Him, to them ga ve He power to become the sons of God, even to them thatbelieve on His name: whowere born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12.
DIVINE Truth is one, but it is many-sided. When you have looked at it from one point of view you may reverse your position,and, though the Truth at which you look will be the same, you will marvel at its freshness as seen from another aspect. Thismorning we sought to show you how Jesus Christreceived sinners [Volume 11, Sermon #665-Open House for All Comers.] Tonight it shall be our endeavor, as the Holy Spiritmay enable us, to set forth how sinners receive Christ.
It is perfectly true that the work of salvation lies first and mainly in Jesus receiving sinners to Himself to pardon, tocleanse, to sanctify, to preserve, to make perfect. But, at the same time the sinner also receives Christ. There is an acton the sinner's part by which, being constrained byDivine Grace, he opens his heart to the admission of Jesus Christ and Jesus enters in and dwells in the heart, and reignsand rules there. To a gracious readiness of heart to entertain the Friend who knocks at the door, we are brought by God theHoly Spirit, and then He sups with usand we with Him.
We shall take, tonight, the view of the subject opened up before us by this text. We shall begin by simply and shortly describinghow the sinner receives Christ. Secondly, the privilege, or power, which is conferred as the result of this reception of Christ.And thirdly, the great change which isinvolved in the fact that the sinner has received Christ, the fact that the sinner has been born again from above, "notof the will of man, but of God."
I. As briefly, then, as may be, and very simply, indeed, we will describe WHAT IT IS FOR THE SINNER TO RECEIVE CHRIST. Thisreceiving Christ lies in several things. If a man would receive Christ he must, first of all, receive Him in His Person asHe is revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. We aretaught over and over again in Scripture that Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God with us, God manifest in the flesh, Jehovah'sequal in fashion as a man.
The "WORD"-that "Word" of which it is said, "the Word was God"-was "made manifest" in flesh among men, and they "beheld Hisglory." Though He "thought it not robbery to be equal with God," yet "He made Himself of no reputation, but took upon Himthe form of a servant, and was made inthe likeness of men." This was a new and startling doctrine when first preached to heathen sages, that God should take humanityinto so intimate a connection with Himself, as really and truly to be Man and God in the same Person.
But it is a doctrine which must be received by you or else you cannot receive Christ. My Master will not be satisfied withthe acknowledgment that His Character is lovely, His doctrine pure, and His moral teaching super-excellent. He will not becontent with your admission that He is a Prophetgreater than any Prophet that ever came before or after Him. He will not rest satisfied with your admission that He is ateacher sent from Heaven, and a Being who, on account of His virtues, is now peculiarly exalted in Heaven.
All this is well, but it is not enough! You must also believe that He, who as Man was born of the Virgin, and was dandledupon her lap at Bethlehem, was as God none other than the everlasting Lord, without beginning of days or end of years. Youdo not receive Christ in very deed and truth unlessyou believe in His proper humanity and actual Godhead. Indeed, what is there for you to receive if you do not receive this?A Savior who is not Divine can be no Savior for us! How can a mere man, however eminent, deliver his fellows from sins suchas yours and mine? How can he bearthe burden of our guilt any more than we can ourselves bear it, if there is no more about him than about any other singularlyvirtuous man?
An angel would stagger beneath the load of human criminality, and much more would this be the case with even a perfect man.It needed those mighty shoulders-"Which bear the earth's huge pillars up," to sustain the weight of human sin, and carry itinto the wilderness of forgetfulness! Youmust receive Christ, in order to be saved by Him, as being God though man. But, my dear Friends, the mere belief of thisdoctrine will not save anybody! There are many persons who have no need to fear the curses of the Athanasian Creed, nor thetest of any other dogmatic way ofexpressing the fact of the Deity of Christ. But they are, nevertheless, very far from having received Christ Jesus Himself!A man may believe another to be a clever physician, and yet if he has a personal objection to him, he may refuse to receivehim as such.
If a man would receive Jesus rightly, he must, in the next place, accept Him in all His offices. Our blessed Lord has threemain offices. We find Him spoken of as "Prophet," "Priest," and "King," and men must be willing to take Him in each and allof the three. As a "Prophet" He teaches-whatHe has received of God He manifests to man. Am I willing to abide by His teaching? Do I take His words, and the words whichHe delivered by His Apostles, as being my directory and rule? I have a certain "doxy" which some call, "heterodoxy," but which,perhaps, I think to be"orthodoxy." Can I sincerely say that Jesus Christ is the Dictator of my orthodoxy?
Do I take Him and His teaching to be the Truth by which I will abide? I find one Church holding one creed, and another Churchholding another. Do I look at all these standards of faith, and say of them, "I will follow them as far as they follow Christ,but neither to cardinal, bishop, synod, norpresbytery will I yield my faith"? I must first know whether the teaching of these men is in accordance with the teachingof Him whom I take to be my Master and my Teacher. Whether you are Calvinists, or Arminians, or anything else, dear Friends,be first and chieflyChristians- Christians following Christ-receiving Him as the great Expositor to you of God, and of the great Truths of Revelation.
You will tell me you have your "bodies of divinity." There never was but one "body of divinity," and that was the "body" ofthe Man, Christ Jesus! Do you, abating all prejudices and self-formed opinions, receive our Lord as the great embodiment ofTruth? The truest and the best system of theologyis Jesus Christ! If you learn Him you have all Truth- you have nothing in excess, and nothing is omitted. He is the moldof Truth into which your prepared mind must be delivered to receive form and shape from His perfect wisdom. Our hearts mustreceive Him as the Truth ofGod-
"You are the Truth, Your Word alone True wisdom can impart. To You I yield a willing mind, And open all my heart."
If I receive Jesus as "Prophet," I must also take Him as "Priest." Herein, indeed, mainly lies His work. He came to purifymen from sin. He stood before God offering a sacrifice of propitiation by which the guilt of man is removed. If I am not willingto receive Him as an atoning sacrifice, it isin vain for me to esteem Him as an exemplar. His Cross of Atonement is inseparable from Himself. We must not only gloryin Christ but in Him Crucified, or else we shall surely be led forth with His enemies. Jesus must be my only ground of confidencefor pardon. I must leave allhuman priests. I must have done with all trusting in priest-craft in any shape or form, whether it is in the Popish, Anglican,or any other fashion.
I must neither make myself a priest, nor look upon any other man as being priest for me. I must look upon Jesus Christ asbeing the only Priest in whom I confide-for, mark you-my Master claims the sole prerogative of priesthood and He only permitsus, His people, to hold it as being inHim. And then we all, without exception, can say-"He has made us kings and priests unto God." But any special form of priesthood,peculiar to a certain class, is as alien to the spirit of Christianity as any dogma can possibly be. Every regenerated manbecomes a priest byvirtue of his union with Christ Jesus. But out of this union, it is treason to think of priesthood.
You have not received Christ as the truly regenerated children of God have received Him unless you have accepted Him as theAnointed of God, the only Priest in whom to trust for the salvation of your soul-
"I other priests disclaim, And laws, and offerings, too. None but the bleeding Lamb The mighty work can do. He shall have all the praise, for He Has loved, and lived, and died for me."
If I yield to the Lord Jesus Christ as Prophet and Priest, I must also give Him allegiance as my "King." He will reign whereHe purifies. He is not content to teach me, but He will also govern me. What do you say, my Hearers? Will you give yourselfup, body and soul, to be ruled absolutely byChrist? Shall His Laws be binding upon your conscience and carried out in your life?
Do you say now, as before the Searcher of all hearts-"I desire in everything to be guided by Him, to submit myself to Hisabsolute control"? You cannot really and truly receive the Savior unless you are willing to do this. God has not sent HisSon to be the messenger of sin! He will forgiveyour past offenses, but you must in the future submit yourselves to His gentle sway. "Kiss the Son," is one of the firstGospel commands-"Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the Way when His wrath is kindled but a little." Rememberthe doom of those men whosaid, "We will not have this Man to reign over us."
Take His easy yoke. Bow before His Throne of love. Touch the silver scepter of His Divine Grace. "He is your Lord, and worshipHim." Crown Him in the palace of your soul and set Him on the throne of your affections, for He is the King of angels andshould be the King of men-
"My King supreme, to You I bow, A willing subject at Your feet. All other Lords I disavow, And to Your government submit. My Savior King this heart would love, And imitate the blest above."
Can we, dear Friends, thus accept Christ tonight, as Prophet, Priest, and King? If not, it is idle to talk about receivingJesus Christ-we do not know Him-and are not known of Him! Our Lord is not to be divided and parceled out. You must have Himaltogether or not at all. You must admitHim in all His offices, or He will not come under your roof.
But a man may agree to all this and yet not receive Christ! All this is necessary as a steppingstone, but we must go on tosomething more. I must receive Jesus Christ as being all this to me. I must give myself to Him and take Him as mine, as havingnear relationship to me and influence upon me.Another man's Christ will not save you. He must be your Christ. You have been accustomed to go to a place of worship andyou think, perhaps, "Well, I have gone with the rest, and therefore it is all right with me." And when you have heard a sermonit has been addressed to thecongregation in the plural and you have been content to get a little share of it, but a very little one, indeed.
Now, you have never heard aright unless the Truth has come to you in the singular number, as to you alone. The gate of salvationis too narrow for two persons to go through arm-in-arm. You must all singly and separately pass the portal of Eternal Lifejust as you did the portal of natural life. Youmust feel not only that such and such things are true, but that they are true to you. If you receive our dear Redeemer asa Prophet, He begins to exercise that office by telling you that you are naturally lost, ruined, and undone. Do you believethis? Do you believe it to be true ofyou-not of chimney-sweeps, not of streetwalkers, not only of thieves in prison, but of you-that you are condemned underthe Law of God? Do you take home the doctrine of the Fall, and of the depravity of human nature as being true to you?
He tells you, next, that the only way to remove your sin is by His precious blood. Has that blood any reference to you? Haveyou trusted it? Has it washed you from sin? You have not taken the Lord Jesus as a Priest unless you have believed in Hisblood as presenting a propitiation for your sins,and as cleansing you before the holy Presence of the Most High God. You have not truly accepted Jesus as King unless youhave personally submitted yourself to Him. In everything else people are so selfish that nothing but personal possession willcontent them! Why are they not thuscareful in religious matters?
They do not rejoice in the gold in the bank cellars-they aspire to have a good account at their own bank account. They donot consider themselves fed because there may happen to be a fine dinner provided at the London Tavern-they wish to see afeast on their own tables. But in eternalmatters of infinitely more importance, men are, alas, so satisfied with generalities. "Yes! Oh yes, we are a Christian nation."Wonderfully so! "Of course, we, as a family always go to a place of worship. We are not heathens! We were born in a Christianland." A "Christian land." Itis, we must all admit, a very Christian land!
Very Christian, indeed! Look at our gin palaces and our divorce courts! But what of that? How can national religion contentprivate conscience any more than national wealth can console personal poverty? Still, the most of men care so little abouttheir souls that they are satisfied withgeneralities! They do not come to particulars, to personalities. Why should they be so particular in other matters and notin religion? Why seek a personal interest in gold and land and estates, and then leave
Heaven and the eternal world to be matters of universal speculation? You have not received Christ truly if you have not grippedHim with your own hands and claimed Him as your own!
You must get right hold of Him for yourselves. There is no receiving a thing unless the thing received is held by the receiver.Water is poured into a vessel and anything received is contained within the thing receiving it. So Christ Jesus must comeright into you, into personal, consciousrelationship with your own spirit so as to act upon you and influence you or else you have not received Him! I hope I shallnot make what is very plain, very difficult.
One is sometimes afraid, in giving explanations, that one may do what a good Divine did with Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress"which he edited with explanatory notes. He went round among his flock and said to one good woman, "Do you understand Mr. Bunyan'sPilgrim?" "Oh yes, Sir," was the answer, "verywell, indeed. And I hope that one day I shall be able to understand your explanations." So, perhaps, you will say of me,that you understand the text very well, and you hope that one day you will be able to understand my explanations!
Well, I really do not know how to make it more plain. My desire is to say very distinctly that we must receive the Lord JesusChrist as a Divine Being-receive Him in all His offices-and receive Him to ourselves in all those offices. The pith and marrowof receiving Christ we find in thenext remark: we must trust Him. The true reception of Christ is explained in the text, "Even to them that believe on Hisname." To "receive" then, is to "believe," or, in other words, to credit, to rely upon, to trust.
Now this is the simplest matter in all the world, and yet, by reason of its simplicity, it is the hardest possible act forhuman nature to perform. So hard, that although faith still remains the act of man, it is an act which he never performs tillhe receives faith as the gift of God. We do notnaturally care for a plan of salvation so simple and devoid of merit-but there it is and we cannot alter it-nor ought wedesire to do so. As many as trust Christ, to them He gives power to become the sons of God. The whole act of faith lies inthe simple matter ofbelieving that Jesus is God's appointed Savior, and then throwing ourselves upon Him to save us.
You know what trust is in earthly matters. You rely upon a friend in cases of difficulty, and then you do not trouble yourselfabout the matter any more. A person offers to pay your debts and you go home and consider yourself out of debt- you trustthe person. Now Jesus says to you, "I havesuffered for the sin of all Believers. God can now forgive sin and yet be a just God. He has punished Me instead of sinnerswho believe on Me. Trust Me. Rely upon Me and your reliance will be at once evidence to you that I died for you-that I carriedyour sin-that Godpunished Me for you. He, therefore, never can punish you because in justice He cannot punish both Substitute and offenderfor one and the same sin."
God can never punish Christ for your sin and then lay the sin at your door. He will not send your Substitute to the wars foryou and then demand you to go for whom the Substitute has already gone. The act of trusting Jesus Christ is the act whichbrings a soul into a state of Grace and is the markand evidence of our being bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus. Do you trust Him, dear Hearers? Then, if so, you receiveHim. When the soul has thus trusted Christ there comes another form of reception. The outer golden door of faith being firstopened, the inner pearly gate ofaffection is next thrown open. They who trust Christ, love Christ-
"Sure Imust love, or are my ears Still deaf, nor will my passions move? Lord! Melt this flinty heart to tears- This heartshall yield to death or love." I do not love Christ first, and then trust Him. I, in the dawn of spiritual life, trust Himto save me. I find He does save me and I thenlove Him because He first loved me. I trust Him to deliver me out of the bondage of my daily sins. And then I find thatI am stronger against those sins than I ever was before-that I can tread a corruption under foot when I trust Jesus, whichI could not battle with before Itrusted Him. I find He really does come to my rescue, and therefore I then say to him, "I love You, O my Helper and Friend."And from that time on Jesus Christ lives in my heart!
We cannot help using expressions such as, "Christ living in us," "Jesus formed in us," and the like, when talking about thesethings. And to spiritual men they are very simple, but to the carnal mind they are very difficult. Let us in a word expoundthem. Just as when a man is attached to a certainfriend, that friend is said to, "live in his heart." So Jesus lives in the hearts of His people because they love Him.
And, just as when a man has devoted himself to the pursuit of science, that science fills his soul, lives in his soul, makesan abode of it, makes a kingdom of it where it will rule and reign. So, love to Jesus, faith in Him, and devotion to His causeenter into the soul of the Believer and fillit, and thus that soul receives Him. The first door is the door of simple faith-a door which has been opened in many a sinner'sheart by the loving hand of the Holy Spirit-a door, which we pray, may be opened in yours tonight. Oh, how gently does thedoor of faith turnon its hinges! A babe taught of God may push it open!
You may not understand all the doctrines of the Bible but you can understand this-if you trust in Jesus Christ you will bea son of God! You cannot perform a complex act of an educated mind. Sympathy with poetic imagery and enjoyment of metaphysicalrefinements are quite beyond you. But ifthe Holy Spirit teaches you, you will see that the act of faith is not a complex act, but a very simple one, indeed! Itis so simple that children of three and four years of age have doubtless been capable of it. And there have been many personsbut very little removed from absoluteidiocy who have been able to believe.
A doctrine which needs to be reasoned out may require a high degree of mental development-but the simple act of trusting requiresnothing of the kind. If you cannot read a letter in a book you may believe this-that God came down from Heaven in the Personof Jesus Christ and suffered forsin Himself that He might forgive sin and yet be just. I wonder that a man can hear it and not believe it! It is an amazingthing that such good news is not at once believed. Let me repeat it, and oh, may the blessed Spirit work faith in you whohear it! God was so just that Hecould not forgive sin without violating His Nature! He must award punishment to transgression.
But to make mercy consistent with the severest justice, the Lawgiver came Himself among men and gave His own shoulders tothe scourge, and stretched out His own hands to feel the nails, to suffer, bleed, and die! And now if you trust God in thePerson of Christ, and do rely upon Him to put awayyour sin. And if you take Him from now on to be your King and Ruler, you shall be saved! God be thanked that we have sosimple a Gospel to preach and may the Lord bring many to receive it, that they may become His sons!
II. We now turn to THE GREAT PRIVILEGE, which is said in the text to be given to those who trust in the Son of God. "But asmany as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." The word "power" here may be translated "privilege,"and one of the older commentators and translatorsrenders it "honor." "To them gave He the honor to become the sons of God." Now, what is it to be a "son of God"? This themedemands a seraph to discourse upon it! Yes, even an archangel might fail to describe what it is to be a son of God!
Certainly it is a point of dignity beyond what any angel ever attained. "Unto which of the angels said He at any time, Youare My son, this day have I begotten you?" But every man, woman, and child that believes in Jesus Christ is from that timeon a child of God. You know what it is to be the sonof a good man and true, and some of you would not willingly renounce your birthright. You claim from your father a child'sprivileges. You expect, that being a son, you shall inherit certain rights, and those rights you will duly receive.
If I could stand here tonight and say I were a king's son, many would be wonderfully envious. But what do you say to this-Iclaim to be one of the sons of God? Does no man's heart aspire to this felicity? Are there no spirits which pine for thisdignity? Oh, the stolid baseness which does notrise to a desire after this glory! Do not suppose that when we say "son of God," we merely use a metaphor without meaning!No, every person who believes in Christ Jesus is entitled to all rights and privileges which go with son-ship relationshipin any case, but which emphaticallygo with son-ship in the case of a son of God!
What, then, are we entitled to, and what do we receive? A complete list I cannot attempt to make out for you, but as my mindsuggests the gifts of adoption, they shall come before you. If we are the sons of God, we are dearly beloved of God. Did youever try to get that thought into your mind, thatGod loves you? I can understand that God pities me- that is a feeling which so vastly superior a Being might well feel toso inferior an existence-but that He loves me is scarcely conceivable, although it is most sure and certain! Who can drinkthis well dry? Who canbear home this fruitful sheaf of delights, this purple cluster of Eshcol?
Sons of God are loved of their Father with a love surpassing thought! They are, indeed, intimately related as well as dearlyloved. There is a union between God and His sons. There is the same Nature in the son as there is in the Father, for we become"partakers of the Divine Nature, having escapedthe corruption that is in the world through lust." These are no words of mine, but of the Holy Spirit! One would not havedared to have uttered them if inspiration had not made them ready to our hand. We are most near and dear to the blessed Godwho fills all in all. Being sons weare graciously treated. "Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him." "He spares them asa man spares his own son that serves him." Goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life and we shall dwellin the house of the Lord forever.
Being sons, again, we are wisely educated. Parents do not think they have done their duty unless they bring their childrenup to understand knowledge, and to be fitted to take their part with full grown men. We are trained in the school of God.We receive chastisement and are made to smart underHis rod. We read in the illuminated Book of His Grace, and are "made meet," when fully educated, "to be partakers of theinheritance of the saints in light." "All your children shall be taught of the Lord." There is no school like that in whichlove is the head master. As childrenwe are admitted to a familiarity which servants cannot know. A child may say and do to his father what no stranger could.
God manifests Himself to us as He does not unto the world. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He willshow them His Covenant. We have access to God at all hours! The Father's door is never locked against His much-loved children.Our cry He knows even as a father knows hischild's cry from every other sound. All our needs are provided for, and our Father's loving heart watches over all our wanderingsand forgives all our offenses. Remember that a father's relationship is one which cannot be suspended.
I know the old proverb says, "A father's a father till he gets a new wife," which implies that he is not afterwards, but thatonly means as to his actions, for he must be a father always. He cannot break off that relationship. He must cease to be beforehe can cease to be a father so long as hischildren live. When I have heard people say that you may be a child of God one day and a child of the devil the next, Ihave felt inclined to buy them a dictionary so that they might know the meaning of the word "father." What a mistake! Whata misuse of words do they commit! If Iam my father's child I am so, and there is no power, human or Divine-I speak with reverence-that can disown me!
Adoption might cease to operate, but birth, never! I must be the child of him that begat me. And so, if I am a child of God,begotten unto God by the incorruptible seed of His Word, there is no power, infernal or Divine, that can possibly rob me,as a child of God, of this privilege! As a child Iam, and a child I must be. So then, we have honorable standing, safe, abiding, blessed inheritance, and perfected educationall belonging-to whom? Why, to as many as receive Christ! That is, to as many as trust Him! Poor trembling Soul, why shouldnot you be in that number?
III. The third point was to be, THE GREAT WORK, WHICH IS NECESSARILY INVOLVED IN THIS ACT OF
RECEIVING CHRIST. Every man who trusts the Lord Jesus has been born again. The question was once argued in an assembly ofDivines as to whether a person first had faith or regeneration, and it was suggested that it was a question which must foreverbe unanswerable. The process, if such it is, mustbe simultaneous-no sooner does the Divine life come into the soul than it believes on Christ. You might as well ask whetherin the human body there is first the circulation of the blood or the heaving of the lungs-both are essential ingredients inlife, and must come atthe same time.
If I believe in Jesus Christ I need not ask any question as to whether I am regenerated, for no unregenerate person ever couldbelieve in the Lord Jesus Christ! And if regenerated I must believe in Jesus, for he who does not do so is clearly dead insin. See, then, the folly of persons talkingabout being regenerated who have no faith! It cannot be! It is impossible! We can have no knowledge of such a thing as regenerationwhich is not accompanied with some degree of mental motion and consciousness.
Regeneration is not a thing which takes place upon matter-it is a thing of spirit. The birth of the spirit must be the subjectof consciousness, and though a man may not be able to say that at such and such a moment he was regenerated, yet the act offaith is a consciousness of regeneration.The moment I believe in Jesus Christ my faith is an index to me of a work that has gone on within. And the secret work within,and the open act of faith which God has joined together let no man put asunder. Those who believe not are unregenerate, thoughthey may have been sprinkledby the best priest who ever had Episcopal hands laid on his head!
If a man believes not he is unregenerate, whether baptized or not. But if he believes, he is regenerate, though he may neverhave been baptized at all. Baptism may outwardly express regeneration after it has been received, and then the symbol becomesvaluable-but without faith there can be noregeneration, even though Baptism is administered a thousand times!
Observe what kind of new birth it is which all Believers have received. It is one which comes "not of bloods," (so the originalhas it). Neither by the blood of circumcision, nor of the Passover, nor especially by the blood of descent. Sin runs in theblood, if you will, but Divine Grace does not.We are not born Christians by the mere fact of our being the children of godly Christian people. Neither are we born Christians"of the will of man." The best men in the world cannot create us anew-if they pray for us ever so much-the power of theirwill apart from thewill of God cannot avail.
We are not born "of the will of the flesh," that is to say, our own free will does not cause it. If a man could will himselfinto a state of newness of heart, the fact of his being willing to be in such a state would, I suppose, be evidence of hisbeing in that state already-but the humanwill is powerless in itself to produce regeneration. We must be born again from above! The Holy Spirit must, by His Divineenergy, enter into us and make us new creatures-for such a heavenly birth is essential to eternal life.
Now, I think I hear some troubled conscience saying, "When you said just now that if I trusted in Christ I should be saved,I rejoiced, but when you say we must be born again, that saying seems so mysterious that I am troubled." My dear Friend, thereis no need to be troubled. If you trust inChrist, then you are born again! I have already told you that there is no possibility of a soul ever truly relying uponthe Savior unless there has been a previous new birth to produce his faith.
If you are, tonight, able to put your whole trust in Jesus Christ as God's dear Son, and to take Him to be yours, though yournew birth may be too mysterious a thing for you to know much about it, for, "the wind blows where it likes, and you hear thesound of it, but can not tell from where itcomes, and where it goes." Yet, your faith is a sufficient index that you are really a partaker of the new birth. I do notwant to open the boiler of a steam engine for the sake of knowing what quantity of water there is in it-I am perfectly satisfiedby looking at the"tell-tale."
Now faith is the "tell-tale" of the human soul! Where there is faith there is new life. Where there is no faith there is nolife. There is no need to dissect a man, anatomize him, and cut him up in order to find out his spirit-you would destroy himin so doing. But when you see the man hasaction, motion, energy-when you put your hand upon his breast and feel the heaving of the lungs-you know that there is life.Now, if I may so say, faith is the heaving of the spiritual lungs! If you believe in Jesus Christ you are a living man-youhave been born,"not of the will of man, but of God."
I should like to ask one question before I am done-have all of you received Christ? "Yes," or "No"? You good people up inthe gallery there, I am not going to ask you where you worship generally, nor to what Church you belong, but have you receivedChrist? "Well, Sir, we were baptized." I donot care a farthing at this moment whether you were baptized or not! I leave that question till we have settled an earlierone. Have you received Christ? "Well, we take the sacrament." Never mind that! Have you received Christ? Do you trust Himand Him only?
To the point now-can your soul say-
" On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand"? Have you received Jesus Christ, each one of you? Andif you have not, why not? Is there anything so hard in receiving Him? I have sometimes thought I should like to tell the taleof the Cross for the first time to a number ofsavages who would just have sufficient culture to understand it-God was made flesh and dwelt among us. And rather than menshould suffer God suffered Himself! And because Justice required punishment, "He bore the punishment instead" of sinners.Why, I think I see their eyesglistening, and I think their hearts must melt!
But you have heard the tale so often that it has become an old story to you! However, I would like to put the question toyou again-have you received Jesus Christ? "Well, I have not had much experience," laments one, and another says, "I do notknow much," and another cries, "We have hadfamily prayer for twenty years," and another says, "My name is down for twenty guineas in several charitable institutions."Well, all that is very well, but I do not care about any of these matters tonight! All I want to know is, have you receivedChrist?
"Oh!" says one, "Of course! I was always brought up to it." But you cannot be "brought up to it." You must be brought downto it by being born again! There must be a change in your nature. We do not preach the Gospel, as I have said before, to thedepraved and debauched alone. We preach it to yougood, excellent people-you whose honesty in trade, and whose moral character set you on high among your fellows, as upona pinnacle. Even YOU must be born again! Ladies and Gentlemen, you must be born again, as well as the lowest of the low andthe poorest of the poor. We havethe same Gospel to preach to Her Majesty the Queen as we have to the sinners in a refuge or the rogues in a reformatory.We know of no difference in this matter between any of you. A difference of morality there is, and we are thankful for it-butyou must be born again as muchas the worst rebels in the world!
And you below here, have you received Christ? I know that many of you have, and that your hearts leap at the sound of Hisname. You can say-
"Jesus, the very thought of You, With rapture fills my breast."
But there are some of you who have not received Christ-I mean not merely you who are occasional hearers-but my constant hearers.You have received me-you believe what I say-but you have not received Christ, and you do not believe what HE tells you. Itis one thing to believein your minister, but quite another to believe in Jesus Christ! I pray you never stop short in receiving anything becausewe say it, or because we seem to prove it-you must get it burned into you as with a red-hot iron by God the Holy Spirit'spower or else it will be of noservice to you.
I stood a few hours ago at the bedside of one of our Brethren in Christ who seemed sorely sick and at the point of death.He could not speak aloud but the soft and gentle words which he whispered in my ear were very precious. He had not his peaceto make with God in his last hour-he had notthen to seek Christ-but was full of perfect peace and rejoicing in unbroken calm. "He will not leave me, will He?" he asked-"Hecannot deny Himself. I may sink, but I cannot sink lower than He will go, for underneath me are the everlasting arms."
Oh, my Brothers and Sisters, the mere letter of Gospel doctrine will not do to die on-you must have the spirit of it in yourheart or you cannot be comforted by it! Believe me, it is stern work to die. A Christian dies peacefully, but it is no child'splay, even to him. Some of us, when wehave been sick and racked with pain, know that we have had to search for our evidences with much care and anxiety. I haveturned over many a moldy old deed that laid by in the chest of my evidences to try if I could-
"Read my title clear To mansions in the skies," and glad enough have I been to light on some such word as this-
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in You,"
and to sing-
"Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Your Cross I cling."
But, my Hearers, what of some of you? The day is coming when the great assemblies of this house will seem but as nothing-whenthis immense gathering will be but as a drop in a bucket compared with that greater gathering! The trumpet, ringing throughearth and Heaven, shall awaken the dead!The righteous and the wicked shall stand in judgment. We shall all be there-this company shall have no exception-there shallbe no excuse for being absent on that tremendous day, and then there will be no question which will have so much weight asthis one-HAVE YOURECEIVED CHRIST?
I think I see the Reaper coming. He is hastening to gather the vintage of the world, for the grapes are fully ripe. The ungodlymust be gathered first and there they are-thrown in clusters into the winepress of the wrath of God-while the dread angelsof avenging Justice tread the grapesuntil the blood flows out. Will you be there among the accursed clusters of Sodom and Gomorrah? Will you be there, you menof London, you dwellers in Newington and Walworth, who hear the Gospel constantly-will you be cast into the winepress of Jehovah'swrath? And shall thestreets be red with your blood?
Or will you be yonder, where, with golden sickle, trusting no angel to do the work, Christ Himself shall reap His golden corn,ear after ear, and take it all home with shouts of delight to His Father's garner? Will you see Him, in that day, as the Godthat died for you? Will you see Him withexultation? Will you meet Him in the air, and so be forever with the Lord? If so, then receive Jesus, and He will receiveyou. Take Him into your hearts and He will take you into Heaven. Take Him, His Cross, His people, His Gospel, His doctrines!Take Him, to "have and to hold" Him,"for better and for worse," and then not even "death" shall "part" you, but you shall be with Him "in the day of His appearing."
May the Lord seal His Word with His own blessing!