Sermon 676. Man'S Thoughts And God'S Thoughts
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 18, 1866,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than theearth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8,9.
THE text speaks of thoughts. It mentions the thoughts of man and the thoughts of God. The power of thought is one point inwhich man is made in the image of God. Other animated creatures which are put in subjection to the thinking, intelligent creature,man, have no fellowship with God inthought-into His world of pure spirit they cannot enter. To the majestic lion or to the monstrous leviathan, no speech couldbe addressed by God involving the terms, "My thoughts," and "your thoughts."
But the Lord is here speaking to a creature of another mold which He has made a living soul, capable of fellowship with theinvisible, the spiritual, and the Divine. When men do not think, and especially when they do not think of the highest andmost important matters, they degrade themselves fromthe true position and occupation of immortal minds. The beast's spirit goes downward-and frivolous, thoughtless personsdo as much as they can to descend to the groveling level of the mere animal.
Thought is that which likens us unto God. The powers of mind, when rightly exercised upon eternal things, are the means ofuplifting us to the highest point to which unaided human nature can attain. And low as this point is, it is vastly betterthan brutish carelessness. I see the thoughtless soulyonder moving on all fours with the beast looking for nothing more than food and drink. The thoughtful I see walking erectwith his brow toward Heaven seeking for something which clods of clay cannot yield him. I am thankful this morning if youhave begun to think upon spiritualthings, and though there should unhappily be a spice of skepticism about your thoughts-though they should be mournfullyfar from being God's thoughts-yet I shall hail it as no ill omen if you think at all.
The man who begins to think about God, and his soul, eternity, sin, and righteousness, is becoming like the bones in the visionwhen there was a noise and a shaking. And there is a prospect that before long bone will come to his bone and the dead shalllive. As for you who never think at all, mytext can scarcely yield you a single ray of comfort. It is my first duty to pray that the Lord may lead you to exercisethe royal prerogative of thought and to shake you from the terrible lethargy into which you have fallen.
In the text we have two persons thinking-and the result-man's thoughts and God's thoughts. God's thoughts are declared byHimself to be exceedingly above man's. And yet if ever man is to dwell with God he must think as God thinks. "How can twowalk together except they are agreed?" Ifmy thoughts run this way, and God's thoughts are in an opposite direction, I cannot have any fellowship with Him. My thoughtsmust be conformed to God's thoughts or I cannot be like He and walk with Him.
Yet He tells me that His thoughts are not my thoughts, but are as high above mine as the heavens are above the earth! What,then, can I do to rise to Him? Think as much as I please it only sets me on my feet, and so far does me service-but it stillleaves me on earth, and God is yonder farabove me! My thoughts can no more attain unto Him than an infant can touch the stars with his finger. Still, it is a comfortto me if I am sincerely thoughtful after God, that He is thinking about me-for if my thoughts cannot bear me up to Him-Histhoughts can bring Himdown to me! And when He has established a connection between the Heaven which is above me and the earth which is beneathHimself, then I, laying hold on His thoughts, and believing what He has thought out for me, shall be drawn up to His elevation-andI shall come to think Histhoughts and so be in communion and fellowship with the Most High.
This morning I want, as the Holy Spirit enables me, to speak to those who have been led so far as to have thoughts concerningeternal things, and especially thoughts upon forgiveness of sin. You have as yet only your own thoughts, and these are troublingand misleading you. I desire to contrastyour thoughts with God's thoughts in the hope that you may lay hold on God's thoughts by faith. And, then, by holding themfast you may be drawn up by them as by a Divine hand into a clearer atmosphere, and into a happier state than that in whichyour soul now sits, weeping anddisconsolate. It may be that into perfect peace and joyous confidence God's thoughts may lift you as on eagle's wings thismorning-a work which your deepest and most anxious thoughts can never achieve for you.
I shall attempt first, this morning, to contrast your thoughts as to the possibility of pardon with God's thoughts. Then,secondly, your thoughts as to the plan of pardon shall be set in the same light. And thirdly, your thoughts as to the presentpossession of personal pardon shall pass in briefreview.
I. May the Holy Spirit help me while I endeavor to compare your thoughts of THE POSSIBILITY OF PARDON with God's thoughtsabout it. You naturally form your ideas of God's ways from what you conceive would be yours if you were in His position. Itake you on that ground this morning, and we willsuppose that some wicked person has very grossly injured you-and that the question of your forgiving him is now before you.We will suppose you to be of a generous, frank, forgiving disposition and in a calm and judicious state of mind.
You are ready to act most leniently, but still, the case in hand is no trifle and requires consideration. After well ponderingand considering the matter, you feel bound to say, "I could forgive this person, but his offense is of a peculiarly grievouskind. Had he robbed me of my purse or my estateI could have overlooked it. But he has despoiled my character. He has touched my person in its most tender part and injuredme to the highest extent possible. I could forgive ten thousand other forms of trespass, but the form of evil from which hehas made me suffer is peculiarlyoffensive and injurious to me. The person under consideration has perpetrated the worst conceivable form of wrong againstme. With the most sincere desire to pass over it I feel that I must not, but must let the law take its course."
There have been many occasions when persons aggrieved have thus spoken and when no reasonable person could have blamed them.Such, O awakened Sinner, is your case before the Lord! And if He should think of you as one man would think of another, youmust admit Him to be just. It is certain, dearFriend, that you have offended God in the most tender point-you have denied His right to you, though you are His creature.You have denied your Maker's right to command you, saying, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?"
Though you have been a pensioner upon His daily bounty, you have constantly insisted upon it that you were your own masterand had a right to do just as you pleased. You have thus invaded the crown rights of the King of kings, and committed treasonagainst His sovereignty which He guards mostjealously. Worst of all you have committed sin against His only begotten and most dear Son, the Lord Jesus. You may nothave persecuted His people, or spoken against His Deity-but you have slighted the precious blood and you have passed by thecrucified Savior as though HisAtonement were nothing to you.
You have thus perpetrated the most provoking offense against God and touched Him in the apple of His eye. If it were yourcase, you could not forgive-but be astonished as you hear that your thoughts are not God's thoughts-and His ways of forgivenessare as high above your ways as theheavens are above the earth! If you trust in the Lord Jesus, your iniquity, although most heinous and detestable, shallbe blotted out forever! It is supposable that when you are weighing the case of an offender you decide upon it thus: "I couldforgive him, bad as the sin is, if Ithought he had fallen into it from inadvertence or carelessness, or if I supposed that he was moved by some great hope ofgain for himself. But the offense was intentional, malicious, and wanton, and therefore I cannot remit it."
Naturally you transfer these thoughts of yours to the Lord of Heaven, and you say, "He will never pardon me for I have trespassedwillfully. I knew the right, but I chose the wrong. I was never a gainer by my sins-I was often made to smart through them.And even when I became like a burntchild, I wanted only to thrust my finger into the fire again. I had no conceivable motive for sin except the determinedand incorrigible love of evil! I drank down iniquity as the ox drinks down water-but the ox drinks to slake his thirst-I onlygratified my passions andhardly that, for the more I sinned, the more unhappy I became! The more I drank of that ill stream, the more my horrid thirstcame upon me. I have sinned without excuse."
My dear Friend, such language as this befits a penitent's tongue, but since you have Jehovah in Christ Jesus to deal with,do not despair! Men cannot forgive their fellows when they perceive wanton malice in their crimes, but God can forgive YOU!And though you have intentionally slighted,aggrieved, vexed, and even blasphemed Him as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are His ways above your ways!You will in some cases also be obliged to say, "I could very readily have overlooked this fault but it has been repeated.It was not once, nor twice, nor eventwenty times, but this person has so hated me that he has purposely spited me every day of his life! He has teased and worriedme with his insolence till I cannot do other than let my wrath loose against him! Forgive him? I might have done it if itwere seventy times seven, but hehas out-done Herod and gone beyond all number in his insults and injuries. You cannot expect me to forgive."
Such, exactly, is your case, O troubled Sinner, with regard to God. It is certain that your offenses are as many as the sandson the seashore. You have, through a life of twenty, thirty, forty, perhaps sixty or seventy years, done nothing else butsin! Your transgressions have been as numerous asthe beats of your pulse, but still, though you hardly dare to think of forgiveness, God can not only think of it, but bestowit! The sins of twice ten thousand years He can blot out in a moment if there could be supposed a sinner who had them allheaped upon himself! God's thoughtsare not your thoughts with regard to the number of sins, neither are His ways your ways.
I can conceive a person greatly injured saying, "I would overlook all these injuries which have been hurled against me, butI cannot see any reason why I should have been the particular object of this man's spite. It has been quite undeserved onmy part, and unprovoked. I never gave this enemy ofmine any occasion to speak against me. I never did him an ill turn-on the contrary, if he has asked me for any help I havealways given it cheerfully and liberally." That would be a very excellent reason in a court of justice for insisting on thepunishment of an offender. Ajudge would allow very much weight to it, and everyone would admit its reasoning.
Powerful, indeed, would it be in your case, O guilty Sinner, if the Lord should plead it! Listen, I pray you, to the voiceof the good God whom you have injured. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! I have nourished and brought up children andthey have rebelled against Me. The ox knows hisowner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel does not know, My people do not consider." What do you think is the sequelto this very just but sad complaint? Is it, "Because of this ingratitude I will never forgive"? No. "Come now, and let usreason together, says the Lord:though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Dear Friend, you have received nothing from God but mercy, and though you have been very ill, what a mercy it is that youare spared! You brought on your sickness by your own sin, and tender mercy might have been worn out with your rebellions andhave let you destroy yourself outright! But God hasspared you! He has been provoked, but He has kept back His mighty hand, and you are a trophy of His wonderful longsuffering.Oh why do you continue to sin against Him? Why do you rebel against One so kind? How can you be so ungenerous to a God sofull of Grace? Let His love meltyou, for although men cannot forgive the ungrateful wretches who wound their benefactors, yet the Lord's thoughts are asmuch above our thoughts as the heavens are above the earth!
"Yes," says an offended person, "I might overlook the fault if I thought the man were wholly humbled. You see he asks me topardon him, but he has not a sufficient sense of his guilt. He has no idea of how much I have had to smart-it has been sportto him, but it has been death tome-and he does not seem to be rightly aware of the really heinous nature of his sin. He asks for pardon very glibly, witha very smooth tongue, but I believe if he were left to himself and had an opportunity he would do the same again-how can youexpect me to forgivehim?"
Troubled Sinner, this is very much your case. You are somewhat broken down this morning, but you must confess that your heartis still hard compared with what it ought to be. I do not think any of us have such a sense of sin as could be called a perfectsense of it. The most grieved, broken, andcontrite sinner does not perceive all the blackness of sin as God perceives it. And I am afraid the most of us, though wedo come to Christ, must mourn that we do not mourn more thoroughly and bitterly over our sins.
We have sometimes made an excuse for not pardoning an offender because of his want of humbling, but God does not do so-Hesays, "I will take away the heart of stone and I will give them a heart of flesh." He does not say, "I will have nothing todo with that sinner because he has a stonyheart." No, "I will take away the heart of stone out of his flesh and give him a heart of flesh." Here is mercy, indeed-mercylooking upon the heart of adamant and melting it until it becomes as wax-long-suffering bearing with impenitence, and thenputting its own handto the work to turn impenitence into contrition of soul. Truly is it written, "My thoughts are not your thoughts."
"Still," exclaims the aggrieved party, "I think the man ought to make me some compensation. He speaks of forgiveness, butthen look at the mischief he has done me all these past years. He ought to propose something by way of making amends to mefor the ill which he has done." This principle is veryproperly recognized in courts of justice. It is always thought that when a man has sustained a wanton injury he is not tobe expected to overlook it unless compensation is offered.
Now, poor Sinner, you feel that you cannot bring any compensation. If you know yourself aright, you perceive that you cando nothing to undo what you have done. You have dishonored the Law of God in such a way that there is no hope of your everremoving the affront. But our loving God does not askyou for any compensation! He says, "Only return unto Me." "Only confess your iniquity which you have committed." Only acknowledge,as David did to Nathan, the sin you have done, and you shall receive, through Jesus, a word like that which Nathan broughtto David-"The Lord hasput away your sin; you shall not die."
He that confesses and forsakes his sin shall find mercy. No compensation is needed. Sin is freely forgiven for Jesus' sake.Naturally many a just-minded person would say, "If I were most gracious, yet I could not find it in my heart freely to forgivewhen I see the consequences always before myeyes." Suppose that somebody had wantonly injured your child. Suppose he had broken one of your child's limbs, for instance.I think I hear you say, "I could forgive him, but look at my poor limping child! Do you expect a father freely to forgivewhen he sees that poor limping oneconstantly before him to remind him of this man's wanton cruelty? Can I forgive?"
But, Sinner, God sees before Him daily tokens of what you have done! Frivolous, dissolute man, there is that poor girl's ruinedbody and soul through you, in years gone by, and nothing you can ever do can undo that mischief! Could your tears flow foreveryou can never undo the past, nor restore thelost one. Could you bring that wandering soul back by Divine Grace, even then the bitter past could not be unwritten, forshe, too, has spread the poison. All that accursed past of sin must live on. God forgives sin, but much of the consequencesof sin God Himself does not prevent.If you light the fire, it will burn on to the lowest Hell! God may forgive your evil deeds, but the fire itself still continues.
You spoke a word against the Lord Jesus in the ears of some youngster years gone by which turned him aside from the rightpath. You cannot unsay it, and that youngster's infidelity and unbelief you cannot now destroy. The perpetual mischief whichyou have done to others might fitly be a reasonwhich the Most High should not forgive you-but yet He says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts." With all this before Him,with all the consequences of your sin before Him, He forgives you freely if you rest on Jesus!
Ah, it is a wonderful thing-we may have been the instrument of sending others down to the pit, and alas, we cannot restorethem from their endless woe-yet we may, by Grace, amazing Grace-be delivered ourselves from the horrible doom of sinners!The mercy of God may be extolled inus, and His justice in them. There is the infidel, the atheist who has poisoned the minds of others and sent them down toHell, and yet almighty mercy saves him at the last hour! He cannot save his dupes-he cannot pull up his followers from thepit-but he is himselfsaved! What a stupendous wonder of Divine Sovereignty and Grace! Well did we sing just now-
"Who is a pardoning Godlike you? Or who gives Grace so rich and free?"
Furthermore, I can conceive a case in which the offended party can fairly say, "I do feel from my heart fully prepared toforget this offense against me, but it was public, and therefore highly obnoxious and injurious. If no one else had knownit, I think I might have overlooked it. But this wasdone in the marketplace, and not in a corner. I was put to public shame before a company of those whose respect I deserved.I was laughed at in the streets through the infamous villainy of this man. Do you expect me to pass by such an affront asthat?"
Trembling Sinner, you also may well think, "Surely God will never forgive me, for against Him only have I sinned, and donethis evil in His sight. I sinned in the face of the sun. My iniquities were open and visible to all. I sinned unblushingly,and gloried in my shame." Rejoice, poor Mourner,that this is no reason why the Lord should not forgive you, for as high as the heavens are above the earth so high are Histhoughts above your thoughts! Only turn to Him with a simple confession upon your heart, and put your trust in His dear Sonand He will put all this away!
I will not prolong this talk, but only mention one more dark line of guilt. I can imagine it possible that an offended personmight add, by way of clenching all his arguments against pardon, this one-"My forgiveness he has already despised. I haveoften asked this man to be at peace with me.I have put myself out of the way to be at peace with him. Notwithstanding all his malice and mischief I have said to him,'Come, let us make a treaty and be friends. Why should this enmity continue? Why should there not be peace between us?' Andwhen I have done this, he has turnedscornfully on his heels and has said that he defied my mercy, and cared not for my love. I have acted thus generously manytimes. I have put myself to a great expense in order to subdue his hatred and set him right with me. And yet he has stoodout against me! How can reason andjustice expect me to do any more?"
I might, perhaps, answer, "No, neither of them can well expect more of you. But what we cannot expect of you, the guilty penitentmay yet expect of God." After all these years of rebellion, after these many times in which you have rejected loving invitationsgiven by a tender mother or an earnestminister in God's name-after these multiplied rejections-His mercy is not gone forever, neither does His loving kindnessfail! It is astonishing that some of you are still on earth after the many, many times that you have been bestirred in soulto call unto God. I knowit has not been this voice only which has called you, but there has been a voice within-your conscience, your awakened consciencehas cried to you-"Return unto the Lord your God."
But you have silenced the thunder of conscience so many times that it is a marvel the Holy Spirit has not said, "Let him alone,he is given unto idols." Here you are, still on praying ground and pleading terms with God. Thank Him for it, and be gratefulthat all these rejections have not moved Himto swear that you shall not enter into His rest. He waits still to be gracious-
"Still does His good Spirit strive With the chief of sinners."
May God grant that you may have made your last rejection, and may you, this day, yield to the Savior!
I should like to ask a favor of anyone here who is under conviction of sin and who has formed his thoughts of God from whathe would do if he were in God's place. I would earnestly beg him to go out into the street, or the field, or the garden-whereverhe best can this afternoon-andjust look up and try, if he can, form an idea of how high the heavens are above the earth. Or if you prefer, when nightcomes on, stand under that starry canopy and think about how high those heavens are above the earth. You need not limit yourcontemplations to the planets and thenearest of the fixed stars-go beyond, beyond, beyond, beyond the most distant of the nebulae-and think how matchless theheavens are in height above the globe on which we tread.
Think over, if you will, what you know concerning astronomy. Measure the infinite leagues of space which lie beyond the narrowbounds of our solar system, or even of this universe of visible stars. And then remember that as high as these heavens areabove the earth, so high are the Lord's thoughtsabove your thoughts, and His ways above your ways! Indeed, there is no comparison between the two, for He says positively,"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways your ways."
II. Let us now turn to the second head and contrast your thoughts about THE PLAN OF PARDON with God's thoughts. If you haveadvanced far enough to believe that God can pardon, and have to this extent laid hold upon God's thoughts, it is well. Butstill another of your own thoughts drags you down,for you have a wrong idea of the way of pardon. I will suppose that there are persons here who ignorantly say, "If it istrue that the Lord will pardon sin, let Him do it outright. Let Him just take the pen and mark through all my transgressions,and have done with them. He has butto say, 'I forgive you,' and that is the end of it."
But God's thoughts are not your thoughts in this case. You have evidently become so impure in heart as to look upon sin asa trifle. But the Judge of all the earth is of another mind. He is the Governor of all worlds and must maintain His government.There may be tens of thousands of races ofcreatures all subject to Him and governed by the same Law of immutable right and justice. If it were whispered throughoutthe universe that on so much as one solitary occasion the Judge of all the earth had winked at sin and exercised His Sovereigntyto suspend His moral Law and todeny Justice its due-it would not matter how obscure an object the tolerated sinner might be-he would be quoted in everyworld and mentioned by every race of creatures as a proof that Divine Justice was not invariable and without respect of persons.
If it is right to punish sin at all, it must be right to do so in every case! And suffering sin to go unpunished in one casewould be a sort of confession that the penalty was too severe. Now, therefore, the great Ruler cannot suffer sin to go unpunished.God as a moral Governor is such in all Hisactions, on the smallest scale, as it would be best for Him to be on the grandest scale. If God forgave sin without penalty,He would no longer be equally resplendent in every attribute since Mercy would eclipse Justice.
Princes may, on earth, exercise their sovereignty with a mercy which forgets justice. This is because of the imperfectionof the laws which they administer, or of themselves as governors. But God, reigning as a perfect Governor, administering perfectLaws, never allows exceptions or does other thanwhat is right. Jehovah is invariably the same, and if the angels that sinned were punished, so must every other sinningcreature be punished or else God will have changed-which can never be-since He is the same evermore.
Now, Sinner, you think that God might forgive you and no hurt would come of it. I have hinted that there might be an universalevil spreading through unnumbered worlds by the forgiveness of the most obscure individual without the exaction of a penalty.The foundations would be removed and then whatcould even the righteous do? No, God will not forgive you without penalty. Your thoughts are not His thoughts. He will havestroke for stroke, and what the Law required it shall receive! He will not pass by your transgressions without exacting thefull demands of His justice.
I have no doubt there are others here who have a notion that God may, perhaps, forgive them by putting them through a courseof affliction. It is still a superstitious notion lingering in England that poor persons are the special subjects of Divinefavor, and that hard work and poverty, andespecially a long lingering sickness are a means of putting away sin. Persons so afflicted have had so much misery in thislife that they do not deserve to suffer more!
This is a falsehood which is seldom mentioned in the pulpit because it is thought to be non-existent. But we know it to bevery prevalent among certain classes. But oh, my Hearer, your thoughts on this matter are not God's thoughts! The eternalmiseries of Hell are not a full expiation for theunutterable blackness of sin-much less can the miseries of this life be! You may be as poor as Lazarus and never lie inAbraham's bosom! You may endure as many sufferings here as fell to the lot of Job, and yet you may go from Job's dunghillto the flames of Hell. Cast out anyidea that these sufferings or privations of yours can make atonement for sin! God's thoughts are not your thoughts.
A more current idea, still, is that God will put away the past and give men a new start. And that if they go on well for thefuture, then in their dying hour, when it comes to the end, God will pardon. But Soul, there is nothing of that said in theWord of God! That truthful Book tells us solemnlythat as far as the matter of keeping the Law and being saved by our good works are concerned, we have, all of us, but oneopportunity-and the moment we commit one sin that opportunity is over! No, before we began life our father Adam had spoiledthat chance for us by his sin.The Word of God never speaks about giving us a second chance! The law says, "Cursed is every man that continues not in allthings that are written in the Book of the Law to do them."
It says nothing whatever of starting in business again in the hopes that you may at last make your spiritual fortune! Nothingof the kind! And those of you who are trying your hands at reformation and hoping that in a dying hour you will get peaceto your souls are spending your money for thatwhich is not bread, and your labor for that which profits not-for if you never sinned in the future-what would that haveto do with the past? Will a man's paying ready money in the future defray the debts which he has already incurred? God hasa right to the obedience ofyour whole life-do you suppose that giving Him the obedience of a part of it will be accepted as a satisfaction for thewhole?
Moreover, who are you that you should be holy? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. You will only repeatyour former life-you will go back again like the dog to its vomit-and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.As for peace in the hour of death, hewho is not pardoned living is not likely to be pardoned dying. Nine out of ten, perhaps nine hundred and ninety-nine outof every thousand of professed deathbed salvations are a delusion! We have good facts to prove that. A certain physician collectednotes of several hundreds ofcases of persons who professed conversion who were supposed to be dying. These persons did not die but lived, and in thecase of all but one they lived just as they had lived before-though when they were thought to be dying they appeared as ifthey were truly converted. Do notlook forward to that! It is a mere snare of Satan. God save you from it-for in this case His thoughts are not your thoughts.
There is a very current supposition, however, that God pardons sin in this way-that He says, "Well now. I forgive you thepast. My Law was a little too severe for you, but I will try you again under a more lenient rule. Do us well as you can, attenda place of worship, pray and be veryreligious and I will save you." Ah, but my dear Friend, God does nothing of the kind! He does not say to a sinner, "There,Sinner, I forgive the past. Now you must see how you can behave for the future." The forgiveness which is given to a sinnerreaches to the sins which are yet tobe committed as well as to the sins which he has already done-
"Here's pardon for transgressions past, It matters not how black their cast. And oh my Soul, with wonder view, For sins tocome here's pardon too!"
Jesus does not forgive a part, but He forgives the whole. He says, "I absolve you, none shall lay anything to your charge."And this is not only for the present but for the future, too! It is a forgiveness which makes a clean sweep of all sin, sinceall the sin of all Believers is present sin inthe sight of God though it is not present sin to them. If the Lord forgives you at all, dear Sinner, let me tell you whatHe will do-He will punish that sin of yours-no He has punished it in Christ! Christ stood for you and bore all that you oughtto have borne from thewrath of God-therefore God is severely just while He is bountifully merciful to you!
In the next place, when God forgives you He does it unconditionally. He will not forgive you on the condition of this or thatin the future. But He now speaks the word, "I have blotted out your sins like a cloud, and like a thick cloud your iniquities."All this He can do in a moment! Before thatclock ticks yet again the sentence may go forth, "That soul has trusted My dear Son and I have made him whiter than snow,and whiter than snow He shall be in My sight in time and in eternity. I have cast all his sins behind My back. I have coveredhim with a robe of righteousness.He is now Mine, and he shall be Mine in the day when I make up My jewels."
Here is a pardon which you have not to earn, but to accept freely. Here is a pardon given to you-not on the condition of anythingyou are to be, to feel, to do, or to give-but a pardon given freely to you out of the riches of God's loving kindness andtender mercy. Jesus Christ hasbought it! Jesus Christ has bought it for you! He brings it to you now, and oh, if you have Divine Grace to receive it,you may accept it and go on your way rejoicing in the Lord your God! This is a pardon worth receiving!
Let me ask you a second time to look up and consider that all your ideas of God's pardon are but thoughts here on the earth-butHis thoughts of love to you are as high above you as the heavens are above the earth.
III. To conclude-time seems to have traveled at double speed this morning-I wanted to have said, in the third place, a littleas to THE PRESENT POSSESSION of this pardon. There is an idea in the mind of many of you that the plan of just trusting inChrist and being pardoned on the spotis too simple to be safe. You want a plan which involves a host of Latin and Greek and all sorts of ornaments and garments.You want vestments, and altars, and prayers, and hymns, and chants, and Te Deums and all that kind of thing. You want a longceremony of baptism, confirmation,confession, communion, penance, matins, vespers, festivals and I know not what!
But the Gospel is, "Trust Jesus and live." "Believe on Jesus Christ and you are saved." It is too simple, you think, to besafe. Now it is a well known fact that the simplest remedies are the most potent and safe. And, certainly, the simplest rulesin mechanics are just those upon which thegreatest engineers construct their most wonderful inventions! The moment you get to complexity you get into a snarl andare on the brink of weakness. Simplicity, how solid it is! See the old-fashioned plan of putting a plank across the villagebrook-that was the old way ofmaking a bridge! Well, then, somebody came in and invented an arch-a grand invention, certainly, but not in all cases available,because in a measure complex.
What are the engineers coming back to? The old plan of the plank! The Menai tubular bridge is nothing more than the old planof a plank thrown across the brook-and more and more great engineers revert to simplicities. When man grows wisest he comesback to where he was when he started. Isuppose that when the swan first sailed across the lake it gave to the navigator the best possible model of a vessel towhich navigation will always have to keep close if it would keep close to the true and beautiful. Now, as in nature simplicityis strength, so is it certainly inDivine Grace. Trust Christ and live! And let me say, simple as it looks, it is the most philosophical plan of salvationthat could have been thought out-for faith is the mainspring of the entire man-and when faith is right all the powers areright.
Teaching men morals is as though I had a clock that would not go, and I turned round one of the cog-wheels. But faith takesthe key and winds up the mainspring and the whole thing runs on readily. Do not despise the Gospel because it is simple! TrustChrist and you shall live now! Believe thatJesus Christ has made a full Atonement and rest yourself wholly on Him! Just as I rest wholly now upon this rail-with yourwhole weight rest on Christ! And if you are not saved the Word of God does not speak the truth, for it is written, "He thatbelieve on Him is notcondemned." "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved."
I think I hear you say, "It is too good to be true." That is an objection I myself fought with for a very long time. But surelythe best things about our good God must be the truest. If anyone should tell me a thing that was not very good about God,I might indignantly say, "That must be untrue! Ifit is about God it must be good, and as it is about the Most High it must be good in the highest degree." Oh Sinner, itdoes seem a very wonderful thing that you should be made a child of Heaven this morning-crimes of such horror and multitudebe forgiven in a moment-itdoes seem too good to be true!
But then it is just like our God. "Is not it surprising," said one to a good old saint, "that God should forgive such sins?""No," she said, "it is not surprising, it is just like Him." And it is just like Him-just like a God who gave His own dearSon to die that He should take the prodigaland fall upon his neck, and kiss him, and feast him, and rejoice and be merry because His lost one was found!
Lastly, I think I hear your heart say, "It seems to me to be a plan too swift to be sure. What? In a moment? I can understandgetting through a long treadmill of doubts that would take me a dozen years, and then getting into something like light andpeace. But can all this be done in an instant?""I do not believe in those medicines," says one, "which say 'cured in an instant.'" Very likely not, there are many quacksabout! But this is no human cure-this is a Divine prescription. Believe and live! Have done with yourself and begin with Christ!From sin to holiness,from earth to Heaven is only one step-that one step is out of self and into Christ.
The thing is as simple as taking that step. "Why is it so hard, then?" says somebody. Because your hearts are hard. It isnot hard in itself. If it were a harder thing you would like it better-but it is because it is so simple that your wickedheart will never take it till God the Holy Spiritbreaks that heart. I never knew a man believe in Jesus Christ till he felt he could not do anything else. "Well," says he,"I cannot save myself and I will therefore let Christ do it." May the Lord pump you dry of all your self-sufficiency and thenthe stream of eternal mercy willcome flowing down through the silver pipe of the atoning sacrifice and you shall rejoice and live!
I have now to say to every sinner here, in conclusion, that my God is a God willing to pardon, a God passing by transgression,iniquity, and sin! These are His words, not only to the whole of you as a mass, but to each unconverted person in particular,though I cannot point the finger to everyone."Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they arered like crimson, they shall be as wool." Do not those words melt you at all? I pray God that He may bless them to you. Youhave been restored, brought here againafter much affliction. God has been gracious to you. He has passed by much sin in His long-suffering.
Oh, let Heaven's mercy melt you! He seems to me, this morning, to be standing here and to be saying, "How can I give you up,Ephraim? How shall I deliver you, Israel? How can I set you as Admah? How can I make you as Zeboim? My heart is moved, myrepentings are kindled together. I will not destroyyou, for I am God and not man." Fly, then, to your Father's bosom! Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from theway! And may this day witness joy in Heaven because the prodigal has returned and the lost sheep is found! God bless thissimple address to each of us, forJesus Christ's sake. Amen.