Sermon 946. The Profit Of Godliness In The Life To Come
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 19, 1870,
BY C. H. SPURGEON
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Timothy 4:8.
WE endeavored, this morning to prove the profitableness of godliness as to the life which now is, and to discriminate as towhat the promise of this life really is. We tried to prove that "the promise" of the life that now is-its real and highestbeauty and excellence-consists in peace of mind, peace with God, contentment, and happiness of spirit. And while we pointedout that godliness did not ensure wealth, or health, or even a good name-for all these, even to godly men, might not be granted-yetwe showed that the great end of our being, that for which we live and were created, that which will best make it worth whileto have existed, shall certainly be ours if we are godly.
We did not think it an unimportant matter to expound the bearing of true religion upon this present state. But I trust wedid not exaggerate that view so as to keep those in countenance who dream that this world is the main consideration-and thatthe wisest man is he who makes it the be-all and the end-all of his existence.
Beloved Friends, there is another life beyond this fleeting existence. This fact was dimly guessed by heathens. Strange astheir mythology might be, and singular as were their speculations us to the regions of bliss and woe, even barbarous nationshave had some glimmering light concerning a region beyond the river of death. Hardly yet have we been able to discover a peoplewith no idea of an after-state. Man has scarcely ever been befooled into the belief that death is the finis of the volumeof his existence.
Few, indeed, have been so lost to natural light as to have forgotten that man is something more than the dog which followsat his heel. That which was dimly guessed by the heathen was more fully worked out by the bolder and clearer minds among philosophers.They saw something about man that made him more than either ox or horse. They marked the moral government of God in the world,and as they saw the wicked prosper, and the righteous afflicted, they said, "There must be another state in which the GREATAND JUST ONE will rectify all these wrongs-reward the righteous, and condemn the wicked."
They thought it proved that there would be another life. They could not, however, speak with confidence. For reason, howeverright her inferences, does not content the heart, or give "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."That is reserved for faith. The best light of heathens was but twilight. Yet was there so much light in their obscurity thatthey looked beyond the stream of death and thought they saw shades as of creatures that had once been here and could not die.What was thus surmised and suspected by the great thinkers of antiquity has been brought to light in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He has declared to us that we shall live again, that there will be a Judgment and a Resurrection both of the righteous andof the wicked, and that there will be awarded to the righteous a reward that shall know no end, while the wicked shall bedriven into a banishment to which there shall be no close. We are not left, now, to speculate nor to rely upon unaided reason.We have been told upon the authority of God, sometimes by the lips of Prophets, at other times by the lips of His own dearSon, or by His inspired Apostles, that there is a world to come, a world of terrors to the ungodly, but a world of promisedblessing to the righteous.
My dear Hearer, if it is so, what will the world to come be to you? Will you inherit its promise? You may easily answer thatquestion by another. Have you godliness? If you have, you have the promise of the life that is to come. Are you ungodly? Doyou live without God? Are you without faith in God, without love to God, without reverence to God? Are you without the pardonwhich God presents to believers in Christ Jesus? Then you are without hope, and the world to come has nothing for you buta fearful looking for ofjudgment and of fiery indignation which will devour you.
I. GODLINESS CONCERNING THE LIFE TO COME POSSESSES A PROMISE UNIQUE AND UNRIVALLED. I say a unique promise, for, observe-infidelitymakes no promise of a life to come. It is the express business of infidelity to deny that there is such a life, and to blotout all the comfort which can be promised concerning it. Man is like a pris-
oner shut up in his cell, a cell all dark and cheerless unless there is a window through which he can gaze upon a gloriouslandscape.
Infidelity comes like a demon into the cell, and with desperate hands blocks up the window, that man may sit forever in thedark, or at best may have the boasted light of a farthing rush-light called free-thinking. All that infidelity can tell himis that he will die like a dog. Fine prospect for a man who feels eternity pulsing within his spirit! I know I shall not dielike the beast that perishes. And let who will propound the theory, my soul sickens and turns with disgust from it. Nor wouldit be possible by the most specious arguments so to pervert the instincts of my nature as to convince me that I shall thusdie, and that my soul, like the flame of an out-burnt candle, shall be quenched in utter annihilation.
My inmost heart revolts at this degrading slander. She feels an innate nobility that will not allow her to be numbered withthe beasts of the field, to die as they must do without a hope. Oh, miserable prospect! How can men be so earnest in proclaimingtheir own wretchedness? Enthusiasts for annihilation? Why not fanatics for Hell itself? Godliness has promise of the lifethat is to come, but infidelity can do nothing better than deny the ennobling revelation of the great Father and bid us becontent with the dark prospect of being exterminated and put out of being. Aspiring, thoughtful, rational Men-can you be contentwith the howling wildernesses and dreary voids of infidelity? Leave them, I pray you, for the goodly land of the Gospel whichflows with milk and honey! Abandon extinction for immortality! Renounce perishing for Paradise!
Again, let me remark that this hope is unique because popery in any of its forms cannot promise us the life which is to come.I know that it speaks as positively as Christianity does about the fact that there will be another life. But it gives us nopromise of it-for what is the expectation of the Romanist, even of the best Romanist? Have I not before remarked to you thatwe have heard-and therefore it is no slander for us to say it-of "masses" being said for the repose of the souls of the mosteminent Romanists?
Cardinals distinguished for their learning, confessors and priests distinguished for their zeal, and even Popes reputed tobe remarkable for holiness and even infallibility, have, when they died, gone somewhere! I know not where, but somewhere wherethey have needed that the faithful should pray for the repose of their souls! That is a very poor look-out for ordinary peoplelike ourselves. For if these superlatively good people are still uneasy in their souls after they die, and have in fact, accordingto their own statements, gone to purgatorial fires or to purgatorial chills-to be tossed, as certain of their prophets haveinformed us-from icebergs into furnaces, and then back again, until by some means, mechanical, spiritual, or otherwise, sinshall be burnt out, or evaporated from them. If that is their expectation, I think I should be inclined, as the Irishman said,to become a Protestant heretic, and go to Heaven at once, if there is so sorry a prospect for the Catholic.
Godliness has the promise of the life which is to come, but it is altogether unique in possessing such a promise. No voicefrom the Vatican sounds one-half so sweetly as that from Patmos, which we unabashedly accept-"I heard a voice from Heavensaying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest fromtheir labors. And their works do follow them." Our sorrow for the departed is not embittered by the absence of hope, for webelieve that "them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." Neither superstition on the one hand, nor unbeliefon the other, so much as dares to offer a promise as to the life to come.
No system based upon human merit ever gives its votaries a promise of the life to come which they can really grasp and beassured of. No self-righteous man will venture to speak of the assurance of faith. In fact, he denounces it as presumption.He feels that his own basis is insecure, and therefore he suspects the confidence of others to be as hollow as his own. Helives between hope and fear-a joyless, unsatisfied life. While the believer in Jesus, knowing that there is no condemnationto him, awaits the hour of his entrance into Heaven with joyful expectancy. What is never promised to man's fancied righteousnessis secured to all who possess the righteousness of Christ Jesus. "Come, you blessed," is their assured welcome-to be withJesus-their entailed portion.
Godliness has a monopoly of heavenly promise as to the blessed future. There is nothing else beneath high Heaven to whichany such promise has ever been given by God, or of which any such promise can be supposed. Look at vice, for instance, withits pretended pleasures-what does it offer you? It offers pleasure in the life that now is. But as it speaks, you detect thelie upon its face, for even in the life that now is vice gives but a hasty intoxication, to be followed by woe and rednessof the eyes. It is true it satiates with sweets, but in all its tables there is vomit. Satiety follows its gluttony, dissatisfactioncomes with discontent, loathing, remorse, and misery-like hounds at its heels.
Vice dares not say, it never has had the effrontery yet to say, "Do evil and live in sin, and eternal life will come out ofit." No, the theater at its door does not proffer you eternal life-it invites you to the pit. The house of evil communica-
tions, the drunkard's settle, the gathering place of scorners, the chamber of the strange woman-none of these has yet daredto advertise a promise of eternal life as among the gifts that may tempt its votaries. At best, sin gives you but bubbles,and feeds you upon air. The pleasure vanishes, and the misery is left. Even this side of the tomb the hollowness of sinfulmirth is clear to all but the most superficial, and he said truly who sang concerning merry worldlings -
"They grin. But why? And how long the laugh?
Half ignorance, their mirth. And half a lie
To cheat the world, and cheat themselves, they smile.
Hard either task! The most abandoned own
That others, if abandoned, are undone-
Then, for themselves, the moment reason wakes,
Oh, how laborious is their gaiety!
They scarce can swallow their ebullient spleen,
Scarce muster patience to support the farce,
And pump sad laughter till the curtain falls.
Scarce did I say? Some cannot sit it out;
Oft their own daring hand the curtain draws,
And shows us what is their joy by their despair." If such is the failure of the mirth of fools this side of eternity, of whatlittle benefit can it prove hereafter?
So with other things not sinful in themselves-there is no promise of the life that is to come appended to them. For instance,birth. What would not some men give if they could but somehow trace their pedigree up to a distinguished Crusader, or up toa Norman knight reported of in the battle-roll of Hastings? Yet, nowhere in the world is there a promise of eternal life toblood and birth. "For when he dies he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he livedhe blessed his soul: and men will praise you, when you do well to yourself. He shall go to the generation of his fathers.They shall never see light."
Genealogies and pedigrees are poor things. Trace us all up far enough, and we are all descended from that naked sinner whotried to cover his shame with fig leaves, and owed his first true garment to the charity of offended Heaven. Let the pedigreerun through the loins of kings, yes, and of mighty kings, and let every one of our forefathers have been distinguished forhis valor-yet no man shall pretend, because of this, that eternal life will be secured thereby. Ah, no. The king rots likea slave and the hero is devoured by the worm as though he had been but a swineherd all his days. Yes, and the flame unquenchablekindles an earl, and duke, and millionaire, as well as a serf and peasant.
And it is equally certain that no promise of the life that is to come is given to wealth. Men hoard it, and gather it, andkeep it, and seal it down by bonds and settlements as if they thought they could carry some thing with them. But when theyhave gained their utmost, they do not find that wealth has the promise even of this life, for it yields small contentmentto the man who possesses it. "Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue forever, and their dwelling placesto all generations. They call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man being in honor abides not."
As for the life to come, is there any supposable connection between the millions of the miser's wealth and the glory thatis to be revealed hereafter? No, but by so much more as the man lives for this world, by so much more shall he be accursed.He said, "I will pull down my barns and build greater." But God calls him a fool, and a fool he is, for when his soul is requiredof him, whose shall these things be which he had prepared? No, you may grasp the Indies if you will. You may seek to containwithin your estates all the lands that you can see far and wide, but you shall be none the nearer to Heaven when you havereached the climax of your avarice. There is no promise of the life that is to come in the pursuits of usury and covetousness.
Nor is there any such promise to personal accomplishments and beauty. How many live for that poor bodily form of theirs whichso soon must molder back to the dust! To dress, to adorn themselves, to catch the glance of the admirer's eye, to satisfypublic taste, to follow fashion! Surely an object in life more frivolous never engrossed an immortal soul. It seems as strangeas if an angel should be gathering daisies or blowing soap bubbles! An immortal spirit living to dress the body! To paint,to dye, to display a ribbon, to dispose a pin-is this the pursuit of an immortal? Yet tens of thousands live for little else.But ah, there is no promise of the life to come appended to the most noble beauty that ever fascinated the eye. Far deeperthan the skin is the beauty which is admired in Heaven.
As for earth's comeliness, how do time, and death, and the worm together make havoc of it! Take up yonder skull, just upturnedby the sexton's careless spade, "and get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, though she paint an inch thick, to this complexionshe must come at last." All her dressing shall end in a shroud, and all her washings and her
dainty ornaments shall only make her but the sweeter morsel for the worm. There is no promise of the life to come to thesefrivolities-why, then, waste your time and degrade your souls with them?
Nor even to higher accomplishments than these is there given any promise of the life to come. For instance, the attainmentof learning, or the possession of that which often stands men in as good place as learning, namely, cleverness, brings therewithno promise of future bliss. If a man is clever, if he can write interesting stories, if he can sketch the current fashions,if he can produce poetry that will survive among his fellow men-it matters not. Though his pen never wrote a line for Christ,and though he never uttered a sentence that might have led a sinner to the Cross. Though his work had no aim beyond this life,and paid no homage to the God of the Gospel, yet even professed Christians will fall at the man's feet! And when he dies,will canonize him as a saint, and almost worship him as a Demigod!
I reckon the meanest Christian that loved his God, though he could only speak with a stammer the profession of his faith,is nobler far than he who possessed the genius of a Byron or the greatness of a Shakespeare who only used his ten talentsfor himself and for his follow men, but never consecrated them to the great Master to whom the interest of them altogetherbelonged. No. There is no promise of the life that is to come to the philosopher, or to the statesman, or to the poet, orto the literary man, as such. They have no preference before the Lord. Not gifts but Divine Grace must save them. Humbly,penitently, and believingly they must find the promise of eternal life in godliness. And if they have not godliness, theyshall find it nowhere.
Godliness has that promise, I say, and none besides. I saw in Italy standing at the corner of a road, as you may frequentlysee in Italy, a large Cross, and on it were these words, which I had not often seen on a Cross before-"Spes unica"-the onlyhope, the one unique hope, the one only hope of mankind. So would I tell you that on Christ's Cross there is written thisday, "Spes unica"-the one hope of men. "Godliness has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."To nothing else anywhere-search for it high or low, on earth or sea-to nothing else is the promise given save to godlinessalone.
II. I pass on to notice, in the second place, that THE PROMISE GIVEN TO GODLINESS IS AS COMPREHENSIVE AS IT IS UNIQUE. I havenot time on this occasion to go into all the promises of the life that is to come which belong to godliness-who shall givean inventory where the treasure is boundless, or map out a land which has no limit? It will suffice if I give you the headsof this great theme. That promise is something of this kind. The godly man, unless Christ shall come, will die as others die,as to the matter of outward fact, but his death will be very different in its essence and meaning.
He will pass gently out of this world into the world to come, and then, at that instant, he will begin to realize the promisewhich godliness gave him. For he will enter then, no, he has entered now, upon an eternal life far other than that which belongsto other men. The Christian's life shall never be destroyed-"Because I live, you shall live also," says Christ. There is nofear of the Christian's ever growing aged in Heaven, or of his powers failing him. Eternal youth shall be to those who wearthe unfading crown of life. Yon sun shall become black as a coal. yonder moon shall fail until her pale beams shall nevermore be seen. The stars shall fall like withered figs-even this earth, which we call stable, terming it terra firma, shall,with yonder heavens, be rolled up like a vestment that is worn out, and shall be laid aside among the things that were, butare not.
Everything which can be seen is but a fruit with a worm at the core, a flower doomed to fade. But the Believer shall liveforever, his life shall be coeval with the years of the Most High. God lives ever, ever, ever, and so shall every godly soul.Christ, having given him eternal life, he is one with Jesus, and as Jesus lives forever, even so shall he. In the moment ofdeath the Christian will begin to enjoy this eternal life in the form of wonderful felicity in the company of Christ, in thePresence of God, in the society of disembodied spirits and holy angels. I say in a moment, for from the case of the dyingthief we learn that there is no wait upon the road from earth to Heaven-
"One gentle sigh the fetter breaks-
We scarce can say, 'He'sgone!'
Before the willing spirit takes
Its mansion near the Throne."
How does Paul put it? "Absent from the body." But you have hardly said that word, when he adds, "present with the Lord." Theeyes are closed on earth and opened again in Heaven! They loose their anchor, and immediately they come to the desired haven.How long that state of disembodied happiness shall last it is not for us to know, but by-and-by, when the fullness of timeshall come, the Lord Jesus shall consummate all things by the resurrection of these bodies. The
trumpet shall sound, and as Jesus Christ's body rose from the dead as the first fruits, so shall we arise, every man in hisown order.
Raised up by Divine power, our very bodies shall be reunited with our souls to live with Christ, raised however, not as theyshall be put into the grave to slumber, but in a nobler image. They were sown like the shriveled seed, they shall come uplike the fair flowers which decorate your summer gardens. Planted as a dull unattractive bulb, to develop into a glory likethat of a lovely lily with snowy cup and petals of gold. Sown like the shriveled barley or wheat, to come up as a fair greenblade, or to become the golden ear. "It does not yet appear what we shall be, but when He shall appear we shall be like Heis, for we shall see Him as He is."
Come, my Soul, what a promise is given you in God's Word of the life that is to come! A promise for my soul, did I say? Apromise for my body, too. These aches and pains shall be repaid. This weariness and these sicknesses shall all be recompensed.The body shall be remarried to the soul, from which it parted with so much grief, and the marriage shall be the more joyousbecause there never shall be another divorce. Then, in body and in soul made perfect, the fullness of our bliss shall havearrived.
But will there not be a judgment? Yes, a judgment certainly. And if not in set ceremonial, a judgment for the righteous, assome think, yet in spirit certainly. We shall gather at the Great White Throne, gather with the goats or gather with the sheep.But there is this promise to you who are godly, that you shall have nothing to fear in that Day of Judg-ment-you shall goto it with the blood-bought pardon in your bosom, to be shown before the Judgment Seat. You shall go to that judgment to haveit proclaimed to men, to angels, and to devils, that "there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," nonebeing able to lay anything to the charge of those for whom Jesus Christ has died, and whom the Father justifies.
You need not fear the judgment, you need not fear the conflagration of the world, or whatever else of terror shall be attendantupon the coming of Christ as a thief in the night. You have the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.Listen to me! You have the promise that you shall enjoy forever the high dignity of being priests and kings unto God. Yousons of toil, you daughters of poverty-you shall be peers in Heaven, you shall be courtiers of the Prince Imperial-yourselvesbeing princes of the royal blood!
Your heads shall wear crowns, your hands shall wave palms of triumph. And as you shall have glorious rank, so shall you havecompanions suitable to your condition. The worldling's haunt, the synagogue of Satan, shall be far away from you. No moreshall you sojourn in Mesech and dwell in the tents of Kedar. No idle talk shall vex you, no blasphemies shall inflict themselvesupon your ears. You shall hear the songs of angels. And as they charm you, you shall also charm them by making known untothem the manifold wisdom of God. The holiest and best of men, redeemed by Jesus' precious blood, shall commune with you, and,best of all -
"He that on the Throne does reign You for evermore shall He feed; With the tree of life sustain, To the living fountain lead."
You shall have unbroken fellowship with God and with His Christ. What ravishing joy this will be! We shall better be ableto experience than to imagine. Communion with Jesus here below uplifts us far above the world, but what its delights are inthe unclouded skies of face-to-face fellowship, has not yet entered into the heart of man.
Hearken yet more, Beloved. You shall have suitable occupation. I know not what you may have to do in Heaven, but I do knowit is written, "They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads, and His servants shall serve Him." Theyserve Him day and night in His Temple. You would not be happy without occupation. Minds made like yours could not find restexcept upon the wing-delightful and honorable employment shall be allotted you-suitable to your perfected capabilities. But,mark you, you shall have rest as well as service. No wave of trouble shall roll over your peaceful bosoms. You shall foreverbathe your souls in seas of blissful rest-no care, no fear, no unsatisfied desire. For all desires shall be consummated, allexpectations be fulfilled. God shall be your Portion, the infinite Spirit your Friend, and the ever-blessed Christ your elderBrother.
Into the joy of Heaven, which knows no bounds, shall you enter, according to His Words, "Enter you into the joy of your Lord."And all this, and infinitely more than my tongue can tell you, shall be yours forever and forever, without fear of ever losingit, or dread of dying in the midst of it. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, thethings that God has prepared for them that love Him, but He has revealed them unto us by His Spirit."
All the kingdom which the Father has prepared, and the place which the Son has prepared, are yours, O Believer, by the promiseof the Lord. For "whom He justified, them He also glorified."
The promise goes with godliness, and if you have godliness there is nothing in Heaven of joy, there is nothing there of honor,there is nothing there of rest and peace-which is not yours. For godliness has the promise of it, and God's promise neverfails-
"Lo! I see the fair immortals, Enter to the blissful seats;
Glory opens her waiting portals, And the Savior's train admits. All the chosen of the Father, All for whom the Lamb was slain,All the Church appear together,
Washed from every sinful stain. His dear smile the place enlightens More than thousand suns could do; All around, His Presencebrightens,
Changeless, yet forever new. Blessed state! Beyond conception!
Who its vast delights can tell? May it be my blissful portion,
With my Savior there to dwell."
Perhaps within the next ten minutes we may be there! Who knows? I had half said, "God grant it to me!" No doubt, many anxiousspirits would be glad to end so soon life's weary journey and rest in the Fathers Home!
III. Now, very briefly, consider another point. I have shown you that the promise appended to godliness is unique and comprehensive,and now observe that IT IS SURE. "Godliness has promise." That is to say, it has God's promise. Now, God's promise is firmerthan the hills. He is God, and cannot lie. He will never retract the promise, nor will He leave it unfulfilled. He was toowise to give a rash promise-He is too powerful to be unable to fulfill it. "Has He said, and shall He not do it?"
Already tens of thousands to whom the promise was made have obtained a measure of this bliss in the glorification of theirperfect spirits. We are on the road to the same happy state. Some of us are on the river's brink. Perhaps the Lord may comesuddenly, and we shall be changed, and so perfected without dying. Be that as the Lord wills, it is not a question which disturbsus. By God's Grace, our faith is strong and firm. We are sure that we, too, shall enter into the rest which remains, and withall the blood-washed multitude shall in wonder and surprise adore the God before whose Throne we shall cast our crowns.
IV. But I shall not tarry upon that, for there comes a fourth thought. This promise is A PRESENT PROMISE. You should noticethe participle, "having promise." It does not say that godliness after awhile will get the promise, but godliness has promisenow-at this very moment. My dear Hearer, if you are godly, that is, if you have submitted to God's way of salvation. If youtrust God, love God, serve God-if you are, in fact, a converted man-you have NOW the promise of the life that is to come.When we get a man's promise in whom we trust, we feel quite easy about the matter under concern. A note of hand from manya firm in the city of London would pass current for gold any day in the week.
And surely when God gives the promise, it is safe and right for us to accept it as if it were the fulfillment itself, forit is quite as sure. We have the promise, let us begin to sing about it! What is more, we have a part of the fulfillment ofit, for, "I give unto My sheep eternal life," says Christ-shall we not sing concerning that? Believe in Jesus-you have eternallife NOW. There will be no new life given to you after death. You have even NOW, O Christian, the germ within you which willdevelop into the Glory-life above. Grace is Glory in the bud. You have the earnest of the Spirit. You have already a portionof the promise which is given to godliness.
Now, what you should do is to live now in the enjoyment of the promise. You cannot enjoy Heaven, for you are not there, butyou can enjoy the promise of it, Many a dear child, if it has a promise of a treat in a week's time, will go skipping amongits little companions as merry as a lark about it. It has not the treat yet, but it expects it. And I have known in our Sundayschools our little boys and girls, months before the time came for them to go into the country, as happy as the days werelong, in prospect of that little pleasure. Surely you and I ought to be childlike enough to begin to rejoice in the Heaventhat is so soon to be ours! I know tomorrow some of you will be working very hard, but you may sing-
"This is not my place of resting, Mine's a city yet to come; Onward to it I am hasting On to my eternal home."
Perhaps you will have to fight the world's battles, and you will find them very stern. Oh, but you can sing even now of thepalm branch, and of the victory that awaits you! And as your faith looks at the crown that Christ has prepared for it, youwill be much rested even in the heat of the battle. When a traveler who has been long an exile returns home, it may be afterwalking many miles he at last gets to the brow of the hill where he can see the Church of the little town, and get a bird's-eyeview of the parish. He gazes awhile, and as he looks again and again, says to himself, "Yes, that is the High Street there,and yonder is the turning by the old inn, and there-yes, there, I can see the gable of the dear old house at home."
Though his feet may be blistered, the way may have been long, and the sweat may be pouring from his face, yet he plucks upcourage at the sight of home. The last mile down hill is soon over, for he has seen his long-loved home. Christians, you maysee it, you may see the goodly land from Nebo even now-
At times to faith's far-seeing eye, The golden gates appear!"
When the Crusaders first came in sight of Jerusalem, though they had a hard battle before them before they could win it, yetthey fell down in ecstasy at the sight of the holy city. And do not you and I say, "Soldiers of the Cross, my fellow Crusadersin the holy war of righteousness, will you not in prospect of the coming glory sing-
OO my sweet home, Jerusalem,
Would God I were in you!
Would God my woes were at an end,
Your joys that I might see!'?"
When the brave soldiers, of whom Xenophon tells us, came at last in sight of the sea, from which they had been so long separated,they cried out, "Thallasse! Thallasse!"-"The sea! The sea!" And we, though death appears between us and the better land, canyet look beyond it and see the-
"Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Arrayed in living green,"
and bless God that a sight of what is to be revealed renders the burdens of the way light as we march towards Glory. Oh, live,live in the foretaste of Heaven. Let worldlings see that-
"The thought of such amazing bliss
Does constant joys create."
V. Last of all. This promise which is appended to godliness is A VERY NEEDFUL ONE. It is a very necessary one, for ah, ifI have no promise of the life that is to come, where am I? Where am I? And where shall I be? Where shall I be? I live, I know.I die, I know I must. And if it all is true as this old Bible, my mother's Bible, tells me-that there is a hereafter. If Ihave no godliness, then woe is the day to me! Oh, how much I want the promise of the life to come, for if I have not thatI have a curse for the life to come.
I cannot die, God has made my soul immortal. Even God Himself will never annihilate me, for He has been pleased to createme an immortal spirit, and on I must live forever. There are some who say, and I think the doctrine is full of unnumberedperils to the souls of men, that God made man naturally mortal, and the soul can become extinct. And they go on to teach thatsinners are made to live after death on purpose to be tormented for a longer or shorter time, and then at last are annihilated.What a God must He be to give them a life they need not have-on purpose-that He might torment them! I know no such God.
But HE, whom I adore, in His unbounded goodness, gave to mankind what was in itself a wondrous blessing- immortality. Andif you, my Hearer, choose to turn it into a curse forever, it is you that are to be blamed for it! Not God who gave you theimmortality which, if you believe in the appointed Savior, will be to you an eternity of bliss. You are now past all recallan immortal being, and if you die without hope in Christ there will remain only this for you-to go on sinning in another stateas you have gone on sinning here. But you will get no pleasure from it as you think you do sometimes, here-on the contrary,you will be tortured with remorse concerning it. And you will be vexed with angry passions to think that you cannot have yourwill, passions that will make you struggle yet worse against your God, and make your misery consequently the greater.
The worm that never dies will be your own furious hatred of God. The fire that never shall be quenched is probably the flamesof your own insatiate lust after evil. I say not that there will not be bodily pains, but the natural results of sin are thedeepest Hell to the soul. Sin has made you unhappy now. It will ripen. It will increase. When everything that checks it shallbe taken off, your true character will be developed, and with that development will come enlarging wretchedness. Separatedfrom the company of the righteous, and placed among the wicked, you will go on to be worse and worse, and every stop in theincrease of sin necessitates an increase of misery.
It is not true that God will punish you in mere caprice. He has ordained, and right enough was He to ordain it, that sin shouldpunish itself-that sin should be its own misery, and its own anguish. Sin will be to you a never-ending death. O why willyou die? Why will you die? Why will you, by the love of sin, bring upon yourselves an eternity of sin, an eternity of suffering?Turn unto Christ! I pray His Spirit to turn you. Come now, come now, and lay hold on eternal life!
I have been thinking while I have been preaching to you, this evening, of my own self, awhile, and I shall turn my thoughtsto myself and any others who are preachers or teachers, and who try to do good to others. Years ago Hamburgh was nearly halfof it burned down, and among the incidents that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a yard inwhich there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle of the night barked and howled most furiously. It wasonly by his barking that the family was awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and their lives were spared.
But the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself.Oh, do not you, who work for God in this Church, perish in that fashion! Do not permit your sins to enchain you, so that whileyou warn others, you become lost yourselves! See to it that you have the godliness which has the promise of the life thatis to come.
And now, you who really desire to find godliness, remember, it is to be had in Christ, and only in Christ. I was in Windermeresome three weeks ago on a hot, dusty day, and I saw a little gushing stream of water, and a chain with a ladle to it for thepasserby to drink. I wanted to drink, and I went to it, but the ladle was cracked quite through, was very rusty, and wouldnot hold a drop of water. Neither was the water, if it had been held in it, fit to drink. There are ways of salvation chosenby some that are equally as deceptive. They mock the traveler.
But oh, my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, is a river of mercy, deep and broad. You have but to stoop and drink, and you maydrink as much as you will, and none shall tell you stop. Have you not His Word for it, "Let him that is athirst come. Andwhosoever will, let him take the water of life freely"? God grant you may with your heart believe the Gospel of Jesus, forour heart believes the Gospel of Jesus, for Christ's sake.
[Sermon #937, The Profit of Godliness in This Life, is the sermon Brother Spurgeon alluded to at the beginning of this sermon.]