Sermon 859. The Old Way of the Wicked
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, MARCH 7, 1869, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Have you marked the old way which wicked men have trod? Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was swept awaywith a flood: Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?"- Job 22:15-17.
"HAVE you marked the old way?" Antiquity is no guarantee for truth. It was the old way, but it was the wrong way. If our religionis to be settled by antiquity, we shall presently pass back to the worst form of idolatry, for we would have to become Druids.It is not always that "the old is better." Sometimes, by reason of the depravity of human nature, the old is the more corrupt.The oldest of all would be the best, but how shall we come at it? Adam was once perfection- but how shall we regain that state?Old, exceedingly old, is the path of sin and the path of error, for as old as the Father of Lies is sin.
Antiquity is, moreover, no excuse for sin. It may be that men have long transgressed, but use in rebellion will not mitigatethe treason before the eternal Throne. If you know better, it will not stand you in any place that God winked at the ignoranceof others in former ages. If you have had more light than they, you shall have severer judgment than they-therefore pleadnot the antiquity of any evil custom as an excuse for sin. It was an old way, but they who ran in it perished in it just assurely as if it had been a new way of sinning entirely of their own invention. Antiquity will be no consolation to those whoperish by following evil precedents. It will serve no purpose to lost souls that they sinned as thousands sinned before them!And if they shall meet long generations of their ancestors lost in the same overthrow, they shall by no means be comfortedby such grim companionship.
Therefore, it becomes all of us to examine whether those religious dogmas which we have accepted on account of their apparentvenerableness of age and universality of custom are, indeed, the Truth of God. We are not among those who believe that thetraditions of the fathers are the ultimate tests of the Truth of God. We have heard the voice which says, "To the Law andto the Testimony. If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." We would not affectnovelty for its own sake-that were folly-neither will we adore and venerate antiquity for its own sake, for that would leadus into idolatry and superstition.
Is the thing right? Then follow it, though you have discovered it but yesterday. Is it wrong? Then, though the road were trodby sinners of the first ages, yet do not pursue it unless you desire to meet with the same end as they. Search and look toyour creeds, your worships and your customs, for this world has long enough been deluded by hoary superstitions. Search, myHearer, search and look right carefully within your heart, for you may be deceived and it were a pity if it should be so withyou while there are such opportunities given you to discover and rectify your mistakes. We shall now, this morning, in thewords of the text, mark the old way of wicked men, observe it carefully and consider it well. There shall be three pointsthis morning, the way, the end, the warning.
I. The first shall be THE WAY-"the old way which wicked men have trod." First, what it was. There is no doubt that Eliphazis here alluding to those who sinned before the Flood. He is looking to what were ancient days to him. Living as he did, inwhat is olden time to us, his days of yore were the days beyond the Flood and the old way he speaks of is the way and courseof sinners before the world was destroyed by water.
Now this way, in the first place, was a way of rebellion against God. Adam, our first parent, knew God's will-that will oughtnot to have been irksome to him. The command was a very easy one. The denial of the one tree to him should have been no greatloss. He ought to have been well content when all the rest of the garden was his own leasehold, to have that one tree belongto the Great Freeholder of all-but he set his will in direct antagonism to the will of the Most High.
The sin itself looked small. The act of plucking the forbidden fruit appeared to be trivial, but within the loins of it lurkeda dark hostility to the mind of God which led to open breach of the Lord's command.
That is the way in every transgressor's case, for every sinner is a rebel against God. Though the man, at the time when hecommits the sin, may claim that he was not thinking of God, yet the fact of his acting without regard to Him whom he oughtalways reverently to consider was, in itself, a sin. Sin is a defiance of Divine authority, it throws down the gauntlet andchallenges the rights of the King of kings. Are there any here, this morning, who are pursuing that old way which wicked menhave trod? Do not many of you neglect, as a rule, the consideration of what is God's mind? Do you not act as unrestrainedlyas if there were no God at all? Do you not constantly follow after that which the Lord abhors?
I fear many of you are traversing the way of rebellion and are daily provoking the Great Judge. I pray you beware, for thisis the old way which wicked men have trod and you may be sure that as God met with them, and their rebellion soon ended interrible destruction, so will He also meet with you, for God's ways are equal and He deals out justice to sinners, now, asHe did then.
In the next place, the old way was a way of selfishness. Why did Eve take of that fruit? It was because she believed thatthe taking of it would delight her appetite and would also make her wise. It was to gain something for self that evil wasdone. And her children also have participated in the same feeling. It was this that made Nimrod the mighty tyrant of the world.It was this which led the sons of God before the Flood to look upon the daughters of men, for they were fair, because theysought their own pleasure and not the service of God. Self reigned! The men cast themselves down before their own naturalpropensities, indulged their wantonness and had no delight in God. This is the old way which wicked men have trod and I fearit is a well-trod path today.
How do the mass of mankind cry? "Show us any good! Show us something that shall give us pleasure, amusement, sport-we carelittle what it is! Let it be decent and respectable, if so it may be, but by any means let us disport ourselves and find pleasure,or get gain, or heap to ourselves honor!" Man seeks himself, still, and this is the root of man's sin. He cannot believe thatif he would find himself he must not seek himself. He cannot believe the Savior's testimony that he that would save his lifemust be content to lose it-that in looking after God and denying self we follow the highest and surest road to promote ourown happiness.
No, the sinner resolves to serve self, first, and then, perhaps, he will condescend, even, to follow God Himself out of self-loveand be religious and devout and worship God after his fashion in order to save himself, still seeking self even at the footof the Throne of God! Well, dear Friend, if you, this morning, have not been taught that you must live unto God and not toself. If you are still following out your own ends and aims, and if the main object of your life is to acquire wealth or toget position, or to live in comfort, or to indulge your passions-then depend upon it, you are treading in the old way whichwicked men have trod-and as it has always ended in disappointment, so will it with you! The apple stolen out of God's gardenhas turned to ashes in the hand! The Abimelech of self has become a tyrant! Fire has come forth from the bramble which menhave made a king and their cedars have been burned! Be wise, I pray you, and forsake the road which leads to misery!
The old way, in the third place, was a way of pride. Our mother, Eve, rebelled against God because she thought she knew betterthan God did. She would be as a God-that was her ambition and the same thought had entered into her husband's mind. He wasnot content to be what his Maker would have him. He would, if he could, leap into the very Throne of Deity and put upon hisown head the diadem of universal dominion! An ambitious pride led them both astray and this, I fear, is the road in whichmany are constantly treading. Content to be as nothing before God, no, they will not-they boast that they are something andthey lift up their heads and claim dignity and ask for respect.
Lie at the feet of Jesus Christ and receive salvation as a gift of mercy, pure mercy? No, that they will not-they talk ofmerits, prayers, tears! They will, if they can, find something of their own in which to trust. They wrap their miserable ragsabout them and claim that they are well-dressed, and being fascinated by self-deceit, they imagine that they are rich andincreased in goods when they are naked and poor and miserable!
This old way which wicked men have trod is still frequented by the mass of those who hear the Gospel, but who reject it, totheir own confusion. O you who are pilgrims in it, remember Pharaoh and how the Lord crushed the pride of that haughty monarch!Remember He has always cut down the lofty trees and leveled towering hills, and it is His sworn
purpose to stain the pride of all glory and to bring into contempt all the excellency of earth. Tarry awhile, O pilgrim ofpride, and humble yourself in dust and ashes that you may be exalted by the hand of God!
Hoping that each one before me is undergoing the process of self-examination, I would further remark that the old way whichwicked men have trod is a way of self-righteousness. Cain, especially, trod that road. He was not an outwardly irreligiousman, but quite the reverse. Inasmuch as a sacrifice must be brought, he will bring an offering on his own account. If Abelkneels by the altar, Cain will kneel by the altar, also. It was respectable and reputable in that age to pay deference tothe unseen God-Cain therefore does the same. But mark where the flaw was in his religion!
Abel brought a bloody sacrifice, a lamb, indicating his faith in the great atoning sacrifice which was to be offered in theend of the world in the Person of the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus. But Cain presented an unbloody offering of the fruits ofthe earth, the products of his own toil. And he thought himself as good as Abel, perhaps better. When the Lord did not accepthis service, the envious heart of the self-righteous man boiled over with indignation and he became a persecutor, yes, a murderer.None are so bitter as the self-righteous. None so cruelly persecute the righteous as those who think themselves righteousand are not.
It was because Saul of Tarsus boasted in a fancied righteousness of his own that he breathed out threats against those whofound their righteousness alone in Christ. The old way of self-righteousness, then, was trod by the feet of the first murdererand it is trod still by tens of thousands of men. Ah, your Church attendance and your Chapel attendance, your receiving ofthe sacrament, your Baptism, your confirmation, your ceremonies of all sorts and kinds, your gifts to the poor, your contributionsto charities, your amiable speeches and your repetitions of your liturgies, or of your extemporaneous prayers-these, all puttogether, are rested on as the rock of your salvation!
Beware, I entreat you, for this is the old way of the Pharisee when he thanked God that he was not as other men! It is theold way of universal human nature which evermore goes about to establish its own righteousness and will not submit itselfto the righteousness of Christ! As surely as the Pharisees were condemned as a generation of vipers and could not escape thedamnation of Hell, so surely every one of us, if we set up our righteousness in the place of Christ's righteousness, willmeet with condemnation and will be overthrown by God's sudden wrath! Mark that old way and I beseech you, Brothers and Sisters,flee from it! By God's Grace, flee from it now!
The old way which wicked men have trod was, in the next place, a way of unbelief. Noah was sent to tell those ancient sinnersthat the world would be destroyed by a flood. They thought him an old dotard and mocked him to scorn. For 120 years that "preacherof righteousness" continually lifted up his warning voice. He threatened that the world would certainly be deluged and theungodly sons of men would surely be swept away. He pointed to the ark of safety which he was building in testimony againstthem and besought them to humble themselves and break off their sins by righteousness-but they would not believe the Prophet,preacher of righteousness though he was-they turned his most earnest words into jests and his tender invitations were madethe subject of their scorn.
This was the old way and the old way has not lost its pilgrims. In different forms and different ways, the atheism of thehuman heart still continues to discover itself, yes, and discover itself in Christian congregations. You that are unconvertedsurely do not believe that you will be condemned by the righteous justice of God, or you would not be so much at ease. Ifyou solemnly believed in the justice of God, you would not dare to bring it down upon your heads! If you really and in verytruth believed in the great assize and in the Judge of all, you would not spend your lives in violation of the Law and inbringing upon yourself the penalty!
Oh, if you believed that there is a Hell for such as die out of Christ, you would be afraid to remain out of Christ anotherday! You would seek your chambers, fall upon your knees and cry to God in mercy that He would now accept you and let you nowbe reconciled to Him through His blood. Alas, you hear of God's anger and you profess to believe in it, but you act like infidelsand as you act, so you are! This old way of disbelief has always ended in confusion, for the Flood did come and their disbeliefcould not arrest its rising. The angry waters burst out from their lairs like beasts of prey, hungry for human life and therebellious race was utterly destroyed! Even thus most surely shall the vengeance of God overtake us, whether we believe itor not, unless we fly to Christ, the Ark, and are housed in Him from the coming tempest.
I will not detain you much longer over this very terrible story, but the old way which wicked men have trod is a way of worldlinessand carelessness and procrastination. What did those men do before the Flood? They married and were
given in marriage till the Flood came and swept them all away. If any of them believed in Noah, they, at any rate said, "Wewill wait a little longer, there will be time for us to escape from the threatened flood when the first appearance of thedescending rains and the upheaving fountains shall be visible to us." The whole world seems to have been making festival onthat black day that closed the years of mercy. Never did the joy-bells ring more sweetly. Never was the marriage dance moremerry. Never did eyes of love speak to loved eyes more than when the first booming of the terrible battle were heard afaroff and Jehovah came forth to vengeance, dressed like a man of war, resolved to ease Him of His adversaries!
Are there not some of you treading in this old way of worldliness, dear Hearers, this very morning? Perhaps you are professorsof religion and yet treading in this way. I mentioned the sons of God just now who are said by Moses to have looked upon thedaughters of men and formed alliances with them. Perhaps you may be contemplating the same act and when the flood comes yourprofession will be no refuge to you, but you shall be swept away with the rest. Alas, this is the world's great catechism,"What shall we eat and what shall we drink and with what shall we be clothed?" And this is the world's trinity in unity, "Thelust of the eye and the lust of the flesh and the pride of life." And this is the course of this world-ever does it seek afterits own gain and its own pleasure, saying to more solemn and serious things-"When I have a more convenient season I will sendfor you."
Though the King of Heaven has spread a banquet, yet men make light of it! Though He has killed His oxen and His fatlings,they go their way, every man, to his farm and to his merchandise and so will they do till-
"God's right arm is bared for war, And thunder clothes His cloudy car." Where shall the ungodly fly in that tremendous day?They have chosen this old way and have walked in it, but how will they escape Him when His flood shall sweep them away? Eliphazsays, "Have you marked the way?" I want you to stop a little while and look at that road, again, and mark it anew. The firstthing I observe, as I look at it, is that it is a very broad way. Our Savior's words are most true, "Wide is the gate andbroad is the way that leads to destruction and many there are which go in there."
The road of sin is so wide that it has room for rebels, for selfish sinners, for proud sinners, for professors of religion,for infidels, for the worldly and for the hypocrite. Those who tread the narrow way must all go in at one gate. They mustall partake of one washing in the Savior's blood. They must all be renewed by one Holy Spirit. They must walk in one command.But as for the ungodly, they may follow-
"Each a different way Though all the downward road." The road is so wide that there may be many independent tracks in it andthe drunkard may find his way along it without ever ruffling the complacency of the hypocrite. The mere moralist may picka clean path all the way, while the immoral wretch may wade up to his knees in mire throughout the whole road.
Behold how sinners disagree and yet agree! How the Sadducee and the Pharisee are opposed to each other in most respects andyet agree in this-that they are opposed to God! It is a broad road. Observe that it is a very popular road. The way downwardto destruction is a very fashionable one and it always will be. To follow God and to be right has always been a thing espousedby the minority. Holy Richard Baxter says that, when a child, he marveled that if he ever met with a man who was much moreholy than other men-spoke more of Christ, was more prayerful, was more scrupulous in business-he was always the man of whomthe neighbors spoke worst! And he wondered more, as he read history, that the children of God always were the nicknamed ones,the persecuted ones, the despised ones-until he began to understand that text of Scripture, "I will put enmity between youand the woman, between your seed and her
It must be so! The people of God must expect to go against the stream, as the living fish always do. They must stem the torrentof custom and of fashion. But if you want to follow the old way which wicked men have trod, you will find plenty of companionsand everyone will give you good cheer. It is a very easy way, too. You need not trouble yourself about finding the entranceinto it, you can find it in the dark! And the path is so exceedingly smooth that you need not exert yourself much to makegreat progress in it.
If you desire to go to Heaven and you ask me what is to be done, why, I am earnest to inform you rightly. But if you ask mewhat you are to do to be damned, well, nothing at all, it is only a little matter of neglect. "How shall we escape,"
says the Apostle, "if we neglect so great a salvation?" Leave your boat alone, slip the oars, just sit still and fold yourarms and she will descend to the rapids swiftly enough. The way to total destruction is most easy! But ah, if you would escape,Divine Grace must make you work out your own salvation! You must trust in Jesus and by His Grace tug at the oars like a man,for if the righteous scarcely are saved, where shall the ungodly and the wicked appear?
This old way, if you look at it, is the way in which all men naturally run. I called it a popular road and a crowded road,but, indeed, it is the road of universal human nature! Only put a child on his feet and leave him alone, and his first footstepsare towards this broad way. He will need no teaching. You shall have no difficulties in training him. He will find out theevil path and he will run in it. Yes, and will delight in it-and unless the Grace of God shall turn him, he will continuein it even when he leans upon his staff. And when his hair grows gray he will still persevere in the old way which wickedmen have trod.
For all that, it is a most unsatisfactory road. Dangerous, I should think, it must clearly be seen to be, even by those whothink the least of it. Since you set out on it, my Brother, how many have perished from the way? Look back, I pray you, uponyour companions-where are they now? They have gone to the place appointed for all living, one by one, and I will ask you,now, what testimony have they left behind as to the way? When I speak of the pathway to the skies, I can recount a thousandtestimonies of dying Christians who have all spoken well of the ways of God. Their unanimous testimony, borne, mark you, inthe light of another world where hypocrisy will be impossible-the unanimous testimony has been, that her, "ways are ways ofpleasantness and all her paths are peace."
But who ever heard of the testimony of an ungodly man, when dying, to the sweetness of sin and to the excellence of unholiness?Why, I think I might stake the whole matter upon the testimony of such a one as Byron, a man of gigantic genius, having anexperience of the widest kind, who had drunk of the bowl of pleasure and of fame to its very dregs. His testimony put intoother words is precisely that of Solomon-"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." He became an unhappy man, wearied of life anddied disgusted with all that he had seen. Better far for him had he lived the most obscure Believer in Christ, who, dying,could have exclaimed, "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, therefore there is laid up for me a crown of lifethat fades not away." Let the testimonies, then, of those who have trod this road and found it out to be so poor a one, convinceyou that it is dangerous for you to tread it, for all along the route you meet with nothing but disappointments. If you wishto spend your money for that which is bread and your labor for that which truly profits, you will leave this tempting butdeceptive pathway and fly to another road in which you shall have present comfort and everlasting felicity.
One thing more I want you to notice before I take you away from this old way which wicked men have trod, and it is this, thatacross it here and there Divine mercy has set bars. Along the road of sin men dash with increasing rapidity every year. Itis marvelous the rate at which wickedness will travel when it has once overcomes all the drags and brakes of common senseand of respect to one's fellows. The course of sin is downhill and the rate of sinning is every day accelerated. Across thefirst part of the ungodly man's course, God has been pleased to place many chains and bars and barricades-and one of those,though it may be but a frail one-is to you, dear Hearer, the subject of this morning.
You were led here that I might say to you as solemnly as I can, if you are selfish, if you are proud, if you are self-righteous,if you are indulging the lusts of your flesh, you are on the old way which wicked men have trod and, for your own sake, stop!The Angel of Mercy stands before you, now, and bids you tarry. Why will you die? Why will you choose a path that even nowgives you no rest? Why select a way which hereafter shall fill you with eternal misery? O tarry awhile and ask yourself whetherit is well to fling away your everlasting hope and ruin yourself for present willfulness! O pause awhile!
That dead child at home lies in your pathway like the dead Amasa, who, as he lay decaying in his blood, made an army pause.That sickness of yours from which you have just recovered. That loss of property which has made you so sorrowful. That direaffliction which you see in a beloved wife-all these are bars and chains-will you leap over them-will you go steeple-chaseto Hell? Oh, sorry exertion for so miserable an end! No, but let Mercy arrest you. God's hand is put upon the bridle now-Hereins up your horse. He thrusts back the steed upon its haunches-will you heed your Maker? Will you let your conscience listento His voice? Stay on the plains of mercy! If you break through this warning, you may have another and another, but the furtherthe road is traveled the fewer the barricades and the impediments become-till the last part of that tremendous road whichleads down to death is all smooth as glass and a
soul may take a dreadful slide-as down the steep sides of an Alpine mountain and so glide into Hell without the soul beingdisturbed.
The Lord may give you up and then, like the train of which we read the other day in the newspapers, when the engine had becomeoverpowered by the weight and the brakes were of no further use, the whole will run down the tremendous decline to destruction.God permits the last end of many men to be just such an awful descent. Oh, for God's sake, put the breaks on this morning!For Christ's sake, I pray you, seek to arrest the growing force of your lusts-its growing tendency towards evil-and may HisSpirit make use of the words which the text has suggested to us, to come to a dead halt, and to be saved by faith in Jesus!
II. We come now to say a little concerning THE END-"Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was swept away witha flood." The end of these ancient travelers was that the Flood came and swept them all away. It is a parallel case to theend of all ungodly men. I do not intend, however, to detain you long upon the horrible subject, but only to utter these fewwords. The end of these travelers was not according to their unbelief, but according to the despised Truth of God. They wouldnot believe Noah, but the Flood came. You may reject the testimony of God's Bible. You may despise the daily warnings of God'sministers, but the result will be as we have said.
God is bound to make true His threats as well as His promises. His people bear witness that He has never lied to them in asingle gracious Word and you may be sure He will never lie to you if you persevere in your sin-every single threatening Wordwill be fulfilled. He is very loath to punish, but He will do it. He will unsheathe His heavenly sword, and He will strikeand none shall stand against the stroke. God did not fail at the end of the 120 years to visit the guilty world, and He willnot fail, when your iniquities are full, to visit you. If your ears refuse the language of His Grace, as surely as there isa God in Heaven, you shall be made to feel the power of His vengeance.
Those who will not be covered by the wings of Mercy, as a hen covers her chicks, shall see Justice darting upon them as withthe wings of an eagle. Power reigned in the world's creation-Providence reigns in the world's preservation. Mercy reignedin its redemption, but Justice will reign in its condemnation. Remember this, then, unbelief will not, laugh as it may, removeone jot of the penalty! The Flood, like the destroying fire which will come upon ungodly men, was total in its destructiveness.It did not sweep away some of them, but all, and the punishments of God will not be to a few rebels, but to all. It will findout the rich in their palaces, as well as the poor in their hovels. The sword of Vengeance will not be bribed, neither willit be made quiet by prayers and entreaties-when it is once drawn out of the scabbard of Mercy-it shall find out the sinner,even though he seeks sanctuary in the Church of God and lays hold on the horns of the altar of profession.
He that is not washed in Jesus' blood and covered with His righteousness, shall find the overthrow of God to make no exceptions.It will be an overthrow of the most awful kind. What a sight the angels must have seen as they saw the miserable men and womenof that old world fleeing to the hills and to the mountains and to the tops of the craggy rocks to escape, if possible, theever-advancing Flood! I shall not try to make your ears listen to their cries and their imprecations. Oh, will it ever beyour fate, thus hopelessly, to fear the floodgates of Divine Vengeance drawn up and the wrath of God, like flaming fire, letloose upon you and your fellow sinners?
Moreover, it was a final overthrow. None out of the ark outlived the Flood. They perished, every one of them. So shall itbe when the wrath of God comes-it shall be eternal destruction from the Glory of the Lord and from the presence of His power.There is no hope for those with whom God deals in justice-no expectation-no, not a ray of expectancy can ever reach the gloomychambers of their despair. Their death-knell is tolled. Their prison is fastened forever. God has turned the key in the lockand hurled that key into the abyss where even He will never find it to unlock and to unloose. The fetters of the damned areeverlasting! The fires that burn about them never can be quenched and their worm shall never die!
O that men would take heed of this and not wantonly incur that tremendous wrath of which the Scripture, if it speaks but sparingly,yet speaks most solemnly! I am not of those who delight to dwell upon this subject. I have accused myself, sometimes, thatI have so seldom spoken of the terrors of the Law, that I have not entered into details with regard to the wrath to come andthe judgments that await the wicked. O let me urge you not to tempt the mercy of God, nor provoke His wrath lest you shouldknow in your own experience with a bitter and fearful knowledge far more than I
either care to say to you this morning, or could say if I cared! Consider the old way which wicked men have trod and how theywere swept away with the devouring Flood.
The text gives us two pictures and these two may suffice to bring out the meaning of Eliphaz. First, he says, they were "cutdown out of time." The representation here is that of a tree with abundant foliage and wide-spreading boughs, to which thewoodsman comes. He feels his axe-it is sharp and ready-and he gives blow after blow till the tree begins to shake and quiver.And at last, leaning to the side to which it must fall, with a tremendous crash it falls headlong on the turf. Such is thesinner in his prosperity, spreading himself like a green bay tree-birds of song are among his branches and his fruit is fairto look upon. But the axe of Death is near and where the tree falls there it must forever lie. Fixed is its everlasting state.The crash which we hear in this world as the sinner dies does but foretell to us his perpetual doom.
The other picture of the text is that of a building which is utterly swept away. Here I would have you notice that Eliphazdoes not say that the Flood came and swept away the building of the wicked, but swept away their very foundations! If in thenext world the sinner only lost his wealth or his health, or his outward comforts of this life, it would be subject for seriousreflection. But when it comes to this-that he loses his soul, his very self. When not the comfort of life, but life itselfis lost-not the comforts of the mind, but the mind itself-oh, then it becomes a thing to consider with all one's reason andwith something more of the enlightenment which God's Spirit can add to our reason!
O that we would but be wise and think of this! May God grant that we may not run the risks of having the foundation of ourhope, our comfort, our very joy torn up by an overwhelming torrent and swept away, every stone of it, while we poor foolswho built on sand shall wring our hands with anguish to think that we would not take the warning and build on the Rock whilewe might have done so!
III. And now our last word is THE WARNING of the text. And its warning seems to me to be summed up in the enquiry of everyoneof us, "Am I, or am I not, treading in that broad way?" I would not like a hearer to go out of this place, this morning, withoutmy having accosted him personally, as best I may while standing here and put to him the question, Are you treading in theold way which wicked men have trod?
"Ah," says one, "I do not know." Do you want to know? I will help you to answer it. Are you traveling in the narrow way inwhich Believers in Christ are walking? "I cannot say that," you say. Well, then, I can tell you without hesitation that youare treading in the broad way, for there are but two ways-the one the way of mercy that leads upward to the chambers of peace-andthe other the way of sin that leads down to the gates of Hell. Be not deceived, there are no neutrals here! Christ's wordis, "He that is not with Me, is against Me. And he that gathers not with Me, scatters abroad."
Do you say, "I take no part in this quarrel. I am not for God and I am not against Him"? No, then, out of your own mouth areyou condemned! If you are not for God, who made you, then you have thrown off your allegiance and denied the rights of Godto possess the creature which He Himself has formed! You are in the wide and broad way. The Lord help you! But if you cannotanswer the question, I will help you in another way. Friend, did you ever experience a great change? Are you a new man? Ifnot, you are in the old way, for the way of nature for every one of us is the old way and none ever runs in the way of righteousnessbut such as are renewed by the interposition of the Holy Spirit.
"You must be born again." "Except a man be born again from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." "That which is born ofthe flesh is flesh. And that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Do I hear one say, "Then I trust I am changed. I trustI have come into the narrow way"? Brother, bless God for it this morning! Hang your head in shame to think you have been inthe broad road, but bless the Grace which has taken you from it! And be sure to prove your gratitude by trying to rescue others!This very day, as much as lies in you, tell the Gospel of your salvation, that it may be the Gospel of their salvation, too.Have you bread to eat while others starve? Eat not your morsel alone. Have you light while others are in the dark? Lend themyour candle-you shall see all the better for the loan. God help you, dear Brothers and Sisters, to prove by your life to othersthat you love God because you love your brother also.
As for you who confessedly are in the old way, would you turn, would you leave it? Then the turning point is at yonder Crosswhere Jesus hangs a bleeding Sacrifice for the sons of men. Stop there, stay there! Look up and count the purple drops whichflow from His dear hands and feet and side! And if the Holy Spirit shall help you to say, "Jesus, accept me, wash me frommy sin and take me to be Your servant and lead me in a right way, even the way everlasting,"
then it is done and this very day you may go your way rejoicing! The turning point is not a thing of months, weeks, and years,but rather of seconds when the Grace of God comes to work with man!
My prayer is that some who came in here today the slaves of Satan, may go out the Lord's free men and that pilgrims in theway to ruin may become travelers on the road to Heaven and to God be the glory! Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-2 Peter 3.