Sermon 841. Crowding to Touch the Savior (No. 841)
Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, November 13, 1868, by C. H. SPURGEON, at Bloomsbury Chapel.
"For He had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon Him for to touch Him, as many as had plagues." Mark 3:10.
OUR Lord had been persecuted and therefore He put forth many proofs of His power. When opposition attends the Gospel it willbe the more triumphant. The warnings of the devil predict the success of the Word of God. When our Lord Jesus had done much,He was under a sacred necessity to do more-for everyone who was healed busied himself in spreading abroad the fame of theBeloved Physician-and others laboring under similar infirmities hastened at once to receive the like cure. The more we dofor Christ the more we may do, and I think usually the more we must do. If we hold back from Christian labor we may thinkthat little is required of us, but as soon as we once enter, heart and soul, into the Master's service, we shall feel as ifwe needed a thousand hands and a hundred lives to overtake the growing demands upon us.
I gather from the case before us in the text, that as it was with the Master so will it always be with the servants. Theirpace of usefulness will increase in geometrical proportion, like that of a falling stone. Healed multitudes will act as willingdecoys to attract multitudes of their unhealed friends. If there are any here who have received the Grace of God, it willbe natural for them to induce others to listen to the Word of Life so they, also, may find salvation in our exalted Savior.Thus it is that the kingdom grows more and more, until the strongholds of sin are overthrown and the gates of Hell are shaken.The little cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, increases till it darkens all the skies and at last deluges the earth withblessings. Let us take care that we prove not an exception to this blessed rule! Never let us, by unholy silence, rob ourMaster of one of His best weapons, and the Church of her greatest joy. You who are healed should publish abroad in every placethe fame of the Friend of Sinners! It is your privilege and your duty.
In calling your attention to the text, I shall notice the parallel, which actually exists, and the fuller parallel which mightbe expected between the present times and those of the text. I shall then briefly notice the sins which prevent the parallelbeing carried out. Thirdly, I shall dwell a little upon Divine Grace which invites us to complete the likeness. And then,lastly, utter some cautions which may be useful.
I. First, the PARALLEL which exists at this moment between these times and the text, and which might be expected more fullyto exist. Thus it is in the text Jesus had healed many. These had informed other afflicted ones, and these afflicted ones,anxious to obtain the gift, pressed around the Savior in a mighty throng-everyone striving to touch Him that he might obtainimmediate healing.
At this present time, also, Jesus Christ has healed many. Spiritual sickness is as rife today as bodily sickness was in theperiod of our Lord's earthly sojourn. He is, at this hour, graciously occupied in healing all kinds of moral deformity andmoral disease. To our knowledge some great sinners have been saved. Some who were diseased with drunkenness, with dishonestyand with lasciviousness have believed in Christ and have been restored to virtue and to holiness! Surely, this ought to encourageothers to hope that better things are possible to them through the Savior's healing power!
The Gospel has had free course in the slums of St. Giles! It has worked graciously in the mansions of Bloomsbury! The Gospelhas been found mighty in Bethual Green, and it has been victorious in the West End. A few have been saved of the highest inthe land, and not some only, but many of the poor in these last days have found Jesus mighty to save! Many who were lost toall spiritual things have been saved of late. During this last week many believed and were changed in heart. Every Sunday,by God's Grace, souls are saved! We may not blazon it in the newspapers, nor parade the work of the Lord in magazines, but,for all that, God is allowing us, week after week, to see evil men made good!
We can assure you that those of us who are pastors, and watch for souls, constantly see Jesus at His gracious work with sin-sicksouls. He is today healing men of the maladies of their souls. Those whom Jesus has healed have been most thoroughly and effectuallyrestored. The drunkard has not merely been reclaimed for a time, but he has become throughout life a sober, excellent citizen.The depraved and the debased have not been lifted up into a transient hypocritical profession of a religion which they didnot understand, but we confidently testify that they have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus and are now among the mosthonorable members of society!
Looking back upon our own observation during a course of years, those of us who are occupied in preaching the Gospel earnestlybear witness that in these degenerate times, as men usually call them, Jesus Christ, exalted in the highest heavens, is stilldelivering men from spiritual infirmities, saving them from gross vices and inveterate habits! So far the parallel exists,and it would be natural to expect to see it completed. Since many diseased in soul have been healed, it might be reckonedthat great multitudes of men would desire to be saved, too. There are crowds of sick folk in every direction. There are manyhere this morning who are spiritually sick. They have eyes that see not God, hearts that throb not with love to Him, kneesthat bow not in earnest prayer, hands withered for all holy service, consciences seared, judgments unbalanced, imaginationsperverse.
All around us spiritual sicknesses of one kind or another meets our eyes. Even this House of God is crowded with diseasedsouls like a huge hospital. As for the great outlying population who fear not God, what a scene of plague meets the spiritualeye! What pestilence stalks in public! What disease festers in private! Soul sickness being thus prevalent, and Jesus beingstill engaged in healing, how is it that the sick folk do not throng to Him? How is it that every house in which Christ ispreached is not crowded to the doors? Why do not men struggle and thrust one another to hear the glad tidings of redemptionfrom their sins? How is it that they are not earnestly engaged in prayer?
One would have thought that every house would have had its sighs, its tears, its groans until Christ should reveal Himselfand the inhabitants should be healed! One would have expected to find whole families engaged in supplications, even to theneglect of worldly business, for a time, until their souls were healed! Men lie awhile with bodily sickness, why not withsoul sickness? We might have imagined that as we walked the streets men would run after us crying, "Brothers and Sisters,what must we do to be saved?" The need of healing is great! The Physician is present-how is it that men sleep on and neglectgracious opportunities which concern their eternal destinies?
The parallel is not carried out. Men care nothing about the Word of their salvation. If they hear it, they forget it. If someof them remember it, they do not practice it. If, for awhile, they practice it, their goodness is "as the morning cloud andas the early dew." The mass of mankind are content to be spiritually blind, and halt, and maimed, and talk as if their wounds,and bruises, and putrefying sores were marks of honor and ensigns of health!
Now, this would not be wondered at if there were reasonable doubts as to whether Jesus did really heal the souls of men. Butthere is no doubt on the minds of those who have watched the various cases. Some of us have, ourselves, been healed-and thereforespeak from assured experience. Here stands a man before you who by the space of five years was secretly bowed down with despondencyand depression of spirits of an unusual sort-one whose life was spent at the very gates of Hell through sorrow of heart whenbut a youth! Yet, in one moment he was lifted into perfect peace-a peace which he would not change with any man beneath thestars! And all that by a simple looking to Him who was crucified upon the Cross!
That one form of healing is a type of others, for all other evils are overcome in the same manner. Jesus can heal you of yourpride. He can deliver you from anger. He can cure you of sluggishness. He can purge you from envy, from lasciviousness, frommalice, from gluttony-from every form of spiritual malady! And this He can do, not by the torturing processes of penance,or the exhausting labors of superstitious performance, or the fiery ordeals of suffering- but the method is simply a wordfrom Him, and a look from you-and all is done. You have but to trust in Jesus and you are saved! Saved this morning! Madea new creature in an instant! Set on your feet again to start upon a new life, with a new power within you which shall conquersin!
We who bear this testimony claim to be believed. We are not liars. Not even for God's honor would we palm a pious fraud uponyou. We have felt in ourselves the healing power of Christ! We have seen it, and do see it every day, in the cases of others,in persons of all ranks and of all ages. All who have obeyed the Word of Jesus have been made new creatures by His power!It is not one or two of us who bear this witness-there are hundreds who certify to the same fact!
Not of ministers alone, but of other professions and callings. There are tradesmen here! There are gentlemen here! There areworking men here! There are persons high and low here, who could, if this were fitting, rise and say, "We, too, are witnessesthat Christ can heal the soul."
Here, then, is the marvel-that those who know this do not immediately throng to Christ to obtain the same blessing! " 'Tisstrange, 'tis passing strange, 'tis unbelievable!" The course of those of whom we read in the text was a rational one. Theyheard that Christ had healed many and the true practical logic was, "Let us be healed, too! Where is He? Let us reach Him.Are there crowds about Him? Let us jostle one another. Let us force our way into the mass until we touch Him, and feel thehealing virtue flowing forth from Him." But men seem to have taken leave of their reason now. They know that the blessingis to be had-an eternal blessing not to be weighed with gold, nor compared with diamonds-and yet they turn their backs uponit!
Selfishness usually attracts men to places where good things are to be had, but here is the chief of all good-the possessionof a sound soul, the gaining of a new nature which will fit a man to be a partaker with angels of light in glory-to be had,and to be had freely, yet man, untrue to himself, not even letting a right-minded selfishness govern him, turns away fromthe Fountain of all goodness, and goes his way into the wilderness to perish of eternal thirst!
II. Secondly, and very solemnly, WHAT ARE THE SINS WHICH PREVENT THE CARRYING OUT OF THIS PARALLEL? Painful is it to rememberthat one of the first sins which prevent men from pressing and thronging to touch Christ is ignorance. The sin of willfulignorance, not knowing what they might know, not knowing in very truth what they have learned in theory.
My dear Hearers, many of you, this morning, are unconverted. You are just what you always were-men diseased by sin. You knowthat Christ is healing souls and yet you have no desire to be healed, or the desire does not lead you practically to pressto Him for the blessing. I say one cause of this is your ignorance. You do not know your disease. You do not know the truemeaning of these three letters-S, I, N. If I were to put you through a few questions, you would admit the truth that you aresinners, but you do not know the meaning of your own confession. You would confess that you were born in sin, but then thetrue meaning of sin has never occurred to you, and the confession is, therefore, good for nothing.
If I were to read the bottom of your soul, I should discover deeply engraved there the belief that you are not very guilty,and that all your sins put together amount to nothing very serious. If you had indulged in some gross external act of iniquityyou might, perhaps, have perceived its vileness. But you do not see any particular heinousness in those commonplace transgressionsinto which you have fallen, and you are quite ignorant of the evil which lies hidden within them. You are at rest, thoughGod is angry with you! You remain at ease though you bear an unclean disease about you which will shut you out of Paradise!If a man were quite sure that he had a cancer in his breast and knew that a medicine was to be found which would heal it,if he did not seek the medicine you would feel confident that he did not know what a cancer meant.
So is it with you. You do not know what sin means. You do not know that the smallest sin is the beginning of Hell, a sparkof the infernal fire, the first cause of that unutterable torment, the smoke of which goes up forever and ever! O poor Souls,to be so ignorant-where not to know is to be forever undone! May God's Eternal Spirit shine like the sun into your dark spiritand reveal yourself to yourself! If I might pray one prevailing prayer for every unconverted one here this morning, it shouldbe this, "Lord, make them to know their present state, and to tremble at it." Oh, if you did but know your danger and knewthe sweetness and efficacy of the Remedy! If you did but know the punishment which is coming- and the blessedness of escapingfrom it-you would be among the first to press and throng about the Savior to obtain healing from Him. But ignorance holdsmany back.
Akin to ignorance is insensibility. Many men know, but do not feel. The mass of our hearers, the unconverted, I mean, havebut very little feeling. Indeed, spiritually they have none at all, for they are "dead in trespasses and sins." You may staba dead man in a thousand places, but he will not cry out. So is it with ungodly men. You may tell them of the love of Christ-thestory of which might surely melt a rock and make a stone dissolve, and if they feel any emotion it is but for a moment-a littlesuperficial feeling, no sooner begun than ended and they go their way to forget it all. The love of the bleeding Immanuelis an idle tale to them.
Then the preacher may bid Sinai thunder with all its mighty peals. God Himself may be heard in judgments loud and terrible!But, while the forests bow and the rocks are shivered, the hardened heart remains unmoved! Defiance is hurled by unbeliefagainst Omnipotence itself! In vain we talk of the terrors of God and the judgment to come! In vain we poor preachers endeavorto convey our warning messages in the most affectionate and pathetic terms! Charm we ever so wisely, the deaf adder will nothear! And we go back to our Master and lament, "Who has believed our report? To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Anawful insensibility has stolen over the natural heart of man, and, therefore it is that though poisoned through and throughwith the venom of sin, with Jesus waiting to heal, men crowd not to find the remedy.
In addition to this insensibility, there grows over unrenewed hearers of the Gospel a sad indifference about it all. I donot hear them speak out this indifference openly, but they might as well do it, for they really feel it. There is this kindof indifference-"Well, well, why make so much to do about it? If I am to be saved, I shall be saved. These things will happenin due time. Meanwhile, why make so much fuss about the soul? Our souls do not pay as a present investment, and we do verywell with them as they are. We are at the desk from Monday to Saturday. We are in the shop or in the exchange all day long.Really, a man must look to the main chance and mind his business, or else nowadays he will soon go to the wall."
There is a tacit persuasion among men that the soul does not matter, although few men would have the hardihood to say as much.Yet he who soberly calculates cannot but know that the soul is of the utmost consequence, for as the life is more than meat,and the body more than raiment, so must the soul be more precious than the body-especially viewing it in the light of immortality."What can it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" When that funeral bell begins to toll, whatuse shall it be to a man that he was learned and famous? That he made so much money and died, as men say, worth so many thousands?How can his wealth serve him if his soul, in all its naked deformity, is bound to stand before its God, its wounds unhealed,its filth unwashed, covered from head to foot with the loathsomeness of its sin?
To hear the Judge say, "Get away from here! You have no portion with the blessed, you are sick unto death! Get you to theabode of the unclean, forever," will be the everlasting death-knell of all hope! O Sirs, you will, then, wish that you hadgiven up all the world to have found Christ! You will, then, curse yourselves that you spent your lives in gaining an infiniteloss, and hoarded and scraped up mere smoke and ashes! How you will mourn that you gave your minds to things which are notbread, and your labor for that which profits not while you suffered your soul's weightiest affairs to go by default! Indifferentwe may be, now, but it will be hard to be so indifferent on a dying bed! It will be impossible to be so before the bar ofGod!
Here we may place earth first, but when we come to die we shall find all mortal things recede. After death what a speck willearth appear! Time's fleeting concerns will have vanished from our thoughts except as they linger in our regrets, and addfiercer pangs to our pains. Oh, I pray you give your thoughts to Heaven-for your immortal natures demand this of you! Pauseawhile! Be sober! Give scope and room to sound judgment! Trifle not with eternity! If you must forget any part of your manhood,let it be the part which shall so soon be worm's meat and melt back to mother earth! But O, rob not your souls! Defraud notyour spirits! Be not indifferent to your own best welfare!
Men press not to Christ as we should expect they would because they procrastinate. Delay is Satan's great net. All men meanto repent. Alas, they will repent one day that they did not repent at once! Most men intend to believe in Jesus, but theyput off believing till there will be no Savior in whom to trust. It is always tomorrow with men. Archias, the Grecian ruler,was met one night by a friendly messenger who brought a communication informing him that he was to be assassinated at a feast.Archias, being in a merry mood, would not read the letter just then. Why should he, as he was going to a banquet? "But," saidthe messenger, "it contains serious things." "Well, well," said he, "serious things tomorrow." He died bearing about him themessage which would have saved his life if he had read it!
Thousands are saying, "Serious things tomorrow!" and so they die. And what is more, they are damned bearing the warning aboutthem which was meant to arouse them! Why will men thus go blindfolded to destruction? God forgive some of you for having delayedso long, and may you be moved by His eternal love to persevere no longer in such a course! Hear, I beseech you, the Word ofGod which says, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." "Today is the accepted time, today is the dayof salvation!"
There is another reason men come not to Christ to seek healing for their souls-because they really love the disease! It isa part of the madness of sin and the folly of iniquity that it fascinates men into a love of itself. If men did not love unrighteousnessthey would not be unrighteous! If men did not love in their hearts disobedience to God and the pleasures of the flesh, theywould no longer be disobedient but would yield to God at once. When we have to deal with sinners about their souls, thereis this difficulty-that instead of desiring to be saved, with many of them-this is the last thing they would wish for. Ifto be saved meant to be delivered from going down to Hell, they would like that well enough. But since it means somethingmore, namely, being saved from their sins, saved from being any longer slaves to their lusts, they care not for such a salvation!
They would rather be spiritually crooked, and blind and lame! They do not desire the holy sanity of spiritual manhood! Theywould rather bear about them the deformity of sin because their perverted minds have gathered a taste for that which destroysthem! They perceive, or think they do, light in that which is darkness and sweetness in that which is bitter! Will not thedrunkard take the cup at all hazards? Ah, have I not seen him poison himself willfully with his excess? When year after yearhe has undermined his constitution and is at death's door, will he not grieve, and even shed tears if from poverty, sent inmercy to him, he is unable to get that drink which is ruining him?
And will not men who have given way to their passions, when they know that mischief will follow-when they have already smartedfrom it-go on in sin like the sheep which follows the butcher into the very shambles? Oh the madness, the raving madness ofmen! The basilisk eyes of the old serpent enchant poor foolish humanity so that it sits still to be devoured and has no willto escape! Men hug their chains and kiss their fetters! They talk of happiness when they are standing over the mouth of Helland in a few short months or days will fall into the devouring fire! Madness reigns in the human heart! O God, remove it!Remove it from each one of my hearers this morning that not one may choose his own delusions, and select for himself a coursewhich must inevitably end in unmeasured misery! Thus I have tried, as best I could, to point out the sins which prevent menfrom thronging to Christ.
But I feel that I speak too coldly upon a theme which charms my heart. And I fear you listen to this matter, you unconvertedones, as though it were of no great concern to you-when oh, within the next hour or two, it may receive an importance whichyou have not dreamed of! Poor dying creatures that we are, at our very longest so short-lived and so apt to be caught awayin a moment, how is it that we can sport and trifle with the things which more concern us than all else beside? What are housesand lands? What are stocks and exchanges? What are all our belongings? What, even, the body itself-these eyes, and hands,and this tongue-compared with the soul which is our essential self, our very being?
If our souls are unsound. If our spirits are rotting with the disease of sin. If we are therefore as lepers shut out fromHeaven and God forever, oh, misery of miseries-what can make up for this if it were but for an hour? But when it is for eternity,and the soul is lost forever, what can compensate? Ah, dear Hearers, run not the risk, but crowd to the Savior, today, whois so willing to receive you right now!
III. This brings me, in the third place, to notice THE GRACE WHICH INVITES us, this morning, to complete the parallel of thetext. Christ is healing souls. Grace invites us to do as the text says, namely, to press upon Him to touch Him, as many ofus as have plagues. Think, now, what facts invite you to come to Christ? In the first place, dear Hearers, you are sparedin this world-and with some of you this is no small wonder!
You have passed, it may be, through great perils. You were sick of the fever. You were laid low with cholera. You have beenin shipwreck. You have escaped from a calamitous fire. You have been in eminent peril many and many a time. It is a wonderto all who know you that you are alive, and it is most of all a wonder to yourself! Account that the longsuffering of Godis salvation, and is meant to lead you to repentance! He has spared you that you might not die until you have found mercy!Thus His eternal mandate ran-"Spare that man till he has yielded Me his heart, for I have loved him with an everlasting love,and I will not suffer death and Hell to take him. He is Mine and he shall live till he repents."
Is it not so? May not God have sent me here this morning to tell you that it is so? You have been allowed to live where othershave perished because God has a special regard for you! I talked with one some years ago who rode in the charge of Balaclava,when the shots were emptying the saddles all around. As in obedience to orders, the troops were galloping on to Death's mouth.I could not but look upon him with awe, hoping that he was one for whom God had a peculiar regard.
Now, you aged men who have been spared till now, your companions have fallen on the right hand and on the left! How Deathhas emptied the saddles of those around you! Those who kept shop in the same street. Those who went to school with you. Yourplaymates, your relatives, your brothers, your cousins-they are nearly all gone, and you are here! What are you here for?Why, I think, to say this morning, "I will arise and go unto my Father. I will tell Him I have sinned against Him. I willask His mercy." Let the fact of your being spared induce you to seek Christ!
There is another encouragement for you in the fact that you are spared to hear the Gospel. You did not always hear it, andyou do not, even now, always hear it. But you are brought, this morning, to listen to one who would gladly, by the Holy Spirit'spower, bring you to Christ, and who, speak as he may, desires to speak out of love to your soul. It is a great mercy thatyou have been permitted to hear the Gospel after having so many times repelled its warnings and forgotten its admonitions-
"Still does His good Spirit strive, With the chief of sinners dwell." I do not believe that the Gospel has been sent intothis place, this morning, to be preached for nothing! I will not believe that my Master directed me to stand in this pulpitand address you without intending that some of you should, by His Spirit's power, comply with the Divine request which isso much for your own profit!
The Gospel is preached unto you, and God has not sent it with the intention that after you have heard it you should seek mercyand not find it. Oh no, God does not tantalize! He does not mock the sons of men. He bids you come to Him. Repent and believe,and you shall be saved! If you come with a broken heart, trusting in Christ, there is no fear that He will reject you-elseHe would not have sent the Gospel to you! Beloved, there is nothing that so delights Jesus Christ as to save sinners. I neverfind that He was in a huff because they pressed about Him to touch Him. No, but it gave Him Divine pleasure to give forthHis healing power.
You who are in trade are never happier than when business is brisk, and my Lord Jesus, who follows the trade of soul-winning,is never happier than when His great business is moving on rapidly. What pleasure it gives a physician when at last he bringsa person through a severe illness into health! I think the medical profession must be one of the happiest engagements in theworld when a man is skillful in it. Our Lord Jesus feels a most Divine pleasure as He bends over a broken heart and bindsit up! It is the very Heaven of Christ's Soul to be doing good to the sons of men! You misjudge Him if you think He wantsto be argued with and persuaded to have mercy! He gives it as freely as the sun pours forth light, as the heavens drop withdew, and as clouds yield their rain.
It is His honor to bless sinners. It makes Him a name and an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. I know I once beliedHim. When I felt my sins to be a great burden, I said within myself, "I will go to Jesus, but perhaps He will reject me."I thought I had much to feel and to do to make myself ready for Him. and I therefore did this and that-but the more I did,the worse I became! I was like the woman who spent her money on physicians and was nothing better, but rather grew worse.At last I found it was of no use, and when I fully understood that there was life in a look at Christ- that all which wasneeded was for me simply to trust, to come as I was and put my case into His dear pierced hands, and leave it there-I couldnot think it could be so!
It seemed so simple-how could it be true? Was that all? I thought when I came to Him He would say to me, "Sinner, you haverejected Me so long. You have mocked Me by saying prayers which you did not feel. You have been a hypocrite and joined withGod's people in singing My praises when you did not praise Me in your heart." I thought He would chide me, and bring 10,000sins to my remembrance. Instead of that, it was but a word and it was all done! I looked to Him and the burden was gone! Icould have sung, "Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord with pardon in His right hand and acceptance inHis left, with abundant blessings to the least deserving of the sons of men."
Now, my dear Hearers, I have to tell you that Jesus Christ abides in the same ability to save as He had in the days of Hisflesh. He ever lives to make intercession for sinners and is, therefore, able to save to the uttermost them that come untoHim-and it is still true that him that comes He will in no wise cast out. There has never been an instance of a man that trustedChrist and perished! And there never shall be an instance! Murderers have tried it, and blood-red murder has been washed outby the crimson blood of Jesus! Harlots have tried it, and have sat at the feet of Jesus and washed them with their tears forvery joy!
Thieves have tried it! The adulterer, the whore-monger, the most debauched and depraved have come to the Cross and have obtainedmercy through the precious blood of my Master! None are excluded who desire to come and who sincerely trust in Christ to savethem! I pray you, therefore, listen to our tearful invitation and stand not back through shame or fear, for Jesus still isable and willing to save all who trust Him! Do I need to enlarge upon this? Perhaps so, but our time fails. I know if youare insensible to your need of Jesus, and do not care about being made whole, you are not likely to come for any drawingsof mine.
But if you are awakened in any degree by the Holy Spirit, let me take hold of your hand and say, My dear Friend, do not delaytrusting Christ. Do not entertain a hope that it will ever be easier to trust Jesus than it is now. Do not think that youwill ever be in a better state for coming than you are in now. The best state in all the world for washing is to be filthy!The best state in all the world to obtain help from a physician is to be sorely sick! The best state for asking alms is tobe a beggar! Do not try to patch up those rags, nor improve your character, nor make yourself better before you come to Christ.Come in all your poverty and vileness, just as you are, and say to Him, "My Lord and my God, You suffered as a Man for allthe sins of all those who trust You-I trust You-accept me, give me peace and joy."
And tell the world, I pray you, whether He accepts you or not! If He casts you away you will be the very first-then let usknow of it! But if He receives you, you will be but one among 10,000s who have been thus accepted-then publish it to the confirmingof our faith!
IV. Lastly, I have one or two CAUTIONS to mention, which seem to me to be necessary in such a case. "He had healed many; insomuchthat they pressed upon Him for to touch Him, as many as had plagues." Our first caution is- never be content with merely pressingupon Christ. When there is a gracious season in a Church and persons are converted, many rest satisfied because they havebeen in the congregation where works of mercy have been performed. It is dreadful to reflect that we have in all our assembliesmen and women who are perfectly satisfied with having spent the Sunday in a place of worship.
Now, suppose the case of a man having the leprosy who goes to the place where Jesus is. He sees the people thronging to getnear, and he joins in the press. He pushes on for a certain length of time and then he comes back perfectly content becausehe has joined with the crowd. The next day the great Master is dispensing healing virtue right and left, and this same manjoins in the throng. He once more elbows himself tolerably near to the Savior, and then retires. "Well," he says, "I got intothe crowd. I pressed and squeezed, and made my way, and so I was in the way. Perhaps I might have got a blessing."
Now that would be precisely similar to the condition of hundreds and thousands of people who go to a place of worship on Sunday.There is the Gospel. They come to hear it. They come next Sunday, there is the Gospel again. They listen to it, and they gotheir way each time. "Fool!" you say to the man with the leprosy, "why, you did nothing! Getting into the crowd was nothing!If you did not touch the Lord who dispensed the healing, you wasted your time. And besides, you incurred responsibility becauseyou got near to Him, and yet for lack of putting out your hand to touch Him, you lost the opportunity."
So you, good people, who come to this Chapel, or go to any other place of worship where Jesus Christ is faithfully preached,you come and go, and come and go continually. And what fools you are, what gross fools, to get into the throng and to be satisfiedwith that and never touch Christ! Don't tell me of your Church goings and your Chapel goings! They are not a morsel of useto you unless you touch the Savior through them! Your occupying that pew for a space of 20 years. Your going to a place ofworship twice every Sunday. Your attendance on the weeknight-all this is only so much responsibility, but not a grain of blessingto you unless you are really come to Jesus Christ! You are right to come to the services, just as they were right to pressinto the crowd. But you are wrong if you stop there-just as that leprous man would have been had he been foolishly contentto have pressed into the throng without getting near toChrist!
And yet, is not this the conduct of a great many of you? It is getting serious, too. You have been Chapel-goers, perhaps,for 30 or 40 years, and are you a bit the better? Your mother took you in her arms to the sanctuary. You went to Sunday school.You have always been in the way of the means of Divine Grace-and yet, for the lack of one thing, a real trusting in Christ,you are perishing in your sin! Living water flows at your feet, but you do not drink. Living bread is upon the table, butyou have not eaten. Divine pardon is before you, and you will not put out your hand to take it.
Heaven's gate is set wide open, and you are content to turn your back upon it. I must caution you, again, not to be contentwith touching those who are healed.
There were many in the crowd, who, having touched the Master, clapped their hands and said, "Glory be to God, my witheredarm is restored." "My eyes are opened." "My dropsy has vanished." "My palsy is gone." One after another they praised God forHis great wonders. And sometimes their friends who were sick would go away with them and say, "What a mercy! Let us go hometogether." They would hear all about it, and talk about it, and tell it to others-but all the while, though they rejoicedin the good that was done to others, and sympathized in it-they never touched Jesus for themselves.
It is very dangerous work for some of you Sunday school teachers, when you are the means of bringing dear children to Christ,and yet do not come yourselves! Noah's carpenters built the ark but were all drowned. Oh, I pray you, be not satisfied withtalking about revivals and hearing about conversions-get an interest in them! Let nothing content any one of us but actualspiritual contact with the Lord Jesus Christ! Let us never give sleep to our eyes or slumber to our eyelids till we have reallylooked to that great Sacrifice which God has lifted up for the sins of men. Let us not think of Christ as another man's Savior,but be passionately in earnest till we get Him for our own. If He is not ours today, today let us lay hold on Him!
I cannot endure the thought of your going out of this House of Prayer before you are saved! Remember, salvation work doesnot require months and years. If you look to Christ at this very moment, you shall have your sins as much forgiven as if youwere 70 years a Christian, for there is no difference, here, between the new-born babe in Christ, and the most advanced veteranin the Christian army. If you only look now, your sins are forgiven you, and you shall, this day, begin the new life-and Godshall be glorified in that new life until He takes you up to dwell with Himself forever!
Do you know what it is to trust Christ? I do not know how to explain it better than by dwelling on the word itself- trust.It is a reliance, a dependence. The old divines used to call it a recumbence. It is a leaning all your weight on Christ, givingup your own power and depending on Him. Dr. Watts puts it thus-
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Your kind arms I fall.
Be You my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my All."
But still, people will not understand us. A young man once said to me, "I want to know what I must do to be saved." I remindedhim of that verse. He said, "Sir, I cannot fall." "Oh," said I, "you do not understand me. I do not mean a fall which needsany strength in you-I mean a fall caused by the absence of all strength." It is to tumble down into Christ's arms becauseyou cannot stand upright. Faint into the arms of Christ-that is faith!
Just give up doing. Give up depending upon anything that you are, or do, or ever hope to be-and depend upon the complete merits,and finished work and precious blood of Jesus Christ. If you do this you are saved. Anything of your own doing spoils it all.You must not have a jot or a tittle of your own! You must give up relying upon your prayers, your tears, your Baptism, yourrepentance-and even your faith itself! Your reliance is to be on nothing but that which is in Christ Jesus.
Those dear hands, those blessed feet are ensigns of His love-look to them! That bleeding, martyred, murdered Person is thegrand display of the heart of the ever-blessed God. Look to Him! Look to the Savior's pangs, griefs, and groans. These arepunishments for human sin. This is God's wrath spending itself on Christ instead of spending itself on the Believer. Believein Jesus, and it is certain that He thus suffered for you. Trust in Him to save you, and you are saved!
God grant you the privilege of faith, and the gift of salvation. Amen.