Sermon 1058. No Quarter
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 30, 1872,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Elijah said unto them, take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape," 1 Kings 18:40.
ELIJAH may be called the Iron Prophet. He was a stern and brave man who flinched not to deliver his Master's message at allhazards. It was right that such a man should be raised up just at that time, for the Sidonian queen, Jezebel, was a womanof imperious spirit, superstitious to the last degree and resolute in carrying out her will. She ruled King Ahab with sovereignsway and had issued her mandate that the Prophets of Jehovah should be slain-a mandate which was all too well obeyed. Nonecould stand before this tigress until Elijah came and dared her malice to do its worst. That lone man, of heroic soul, stemmedthe fearful torrent of idolatry and like a rock in mid-current, firmly stood his ground. He, alone and single-handed, wasmore than a match for all the priests of the palace and the groves, even as one lion scatters a flock of sheep.
On the occasion of our text, you will remember that he had proved the prophets of Baal to be liars and pretenders, and then,like a practical man as he was, he went on to the natural conclusion. The Law of Israel was, "The prophet which shall presumeto speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even thatprophet shall die." And, therefore, the case being proven before all men, Elijah became, himself, the executioner. He badethe people seize the impostors and he himself purpled the Kishon with their blood. "Take the prophets of Baal; let not oneof them escape," was the thundering voice of the Prophet of fire. The man did his Master's will thoroughly, never dreamingof compromise.
Perhaps it was for this reason that he, with but one other of woman born, ascended to Heaven by an unusual road. The God whomade him so grandly faithful had determined that he who passed through the world differently from other men should pass outof it differently, and he who had in life flamed like a seraph, should in a chariot of fire be carried to his reward. I amnot, however, about to go further into the details of that matter, but would seek instruction from its main idea.
Brothers and Sisters, the spiritual teaching of such an utterance as this is far-reaching. There is a lesson in it which mightbe turned to many accounts, for like the cherubic sword at the gate of Eden, it turns every way. One use of it must sufficefor this morning-but at the same time-as a hint of how it might be employed, we would observe that it has a distinct bearingupon the present condition of the Church of God. "Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape," is a voice whichour cathedrals and parish Churches might be the better for hearing. Unholy compromises are the fashion of the day! An infusionof honest blood is needed, greatly needed. Men are growing utterly careless as to religious truth because they see the servantsof God and the votaries of Baal associated in the same church, and worshipping at the same altars!
Sincere loyalty to God brooks not this confederacy with idolaters. Errors were suffered to remain in the National Church forthe sake of peace, and now they have become dominant and threaten to destroy the lovers of the Truth of God! It is now clearthat every error of doctrine or ordinance is as mischievous as a prophet of Baal and should not be endured. The world is wideand men are only responsible to God for their beliefs-but the Church should not, within her borders, suffer falsehood to propagateitself. Christians have no right to associate themselves with any Church which errs in its teaching. If we see that grosserror is rampant in a Church and we join it in membership, we are partakers of its sins-and we shall have to share in itspunishment in the day of visitation. It is utterly false that it does not matter to what Church we belong!
It matters to every man who has a conscience and loves his God. I dare not associate in Church fellowship with Ritualistsand Rationalists-loyal subjects will not join the society of traitors. What a blessing it would have been in
Luther's time if the Reformation had been carried out completely! Great as the work was, it was, in some points, a very superficialthing and left deadly errors untouched. The Reformation in England was checked by policy almost as soon as it commenced. Oursis a semi-popish Church! If in this country the axe had been laid to the root of the trees, as John Knox laid it in Scotland,we might have been spared a thousand evils! But now, the trees, which were only lopped, begin to send out their branches againand the errors which were allowed to occupy a secondary place by permission, now come to the front and threaten to thrustout the Truth of God altogether.
The only way in which our conscience can be kept clear before God, so that we can walk with Him in light, is that we abhorevery false way and renounce everything which is not of God and of the Truth. "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speaknot according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." When will Christians see this? The Bible, and the Biblealone, is said to be the religion of Protestants, but the statement is a terrible lie! The most of Protestants believe a crowdof other things over and above what is taught in the Bible! They practice ordinances destitute of Scriptural authority andbelieve doctrines which are not revealed by the Holy Spirit. Happy will the Churches be when they shall cast off the yokeof all authority apart from the Scriptures and the Spirit!
What have the Lord's free men to do with councils of the Church? With fathers and doctors, with tradition and custom? Thetrue Church has but one Rabbi, and His Word suffices her. Away with the commandments of men! Down with the traditions whichmake void the Law of God. "Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape." A thorough purgation is needed-a root andbranch reformation is imperatively necessary. May the Lord send us a Prophet, clothed with the spirit and power of Elijah,by whom the fruitless and poisonous trees of error shall be hewn down and cast into the fire!
I am not, however, about to speak upon that important subject. I need to carry fire and sword into another district whereI trust the invasion will yield practical results. Let us look at home, searching our own hearts, testing our own souls. Ourmanhood is a triple kingdom-spirit, soul, and body are the United Kingdom of the Isle of Man-that kingdom ought to be whollydedicated to the one God of Israel! But instead, sin has polluted it, and even where, by God's Grace, the reigning power ofevil has been subdued, sin still intrudes and seeks to regain the mastery. The great Law of Christian life in regard to sinwithin ourselves is, "Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape." We hold neither truce nor parley with iniquity-warto the knife against every sin of every sort should be the constant habit of the Christian man's innermost nature!
I shall, this morning, only speak to the people of God. Let that be fully understood. I am not addressing myself now to unregeneratepersons, to those who are not Believers in Jesus Christ. I should be foolish, indeed, if I were to exhort those who are deadin sin to fight with their sins in the hope of obtaining salvation-for that is not the way of salvation at all-even were theycapable of it! Sinners must first be led to Christ and find saving Grace in Him by a look of faith! Faith is the first business,not works. To talk of good works before the new birth is to disregard the Divine order and put the last first. It is idleto talk of the duties of a Christian to a man who is not a Christian.
To you unconverted hearers, the first, and for the present, the only work of God is that you believe in Jesus Christ whomHe has sent. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved," for, "he that believes and is baptized shall be saved;but he that believes not shall be damned." I address myself to only those who have believed-and upon them I would press homethe clear, sharp, thorough counsel of the text. We shall give, first of all, reasons for the slaughter which we now command.Secondly, arguments for its thoroughness, "let not one escape." And then, thirdly, truths of practical value will be mentioned,to help us in carrying out the command.
I. First, then, let us cite some REASONS FOR THE SLAUGHTER which we now advise. At the outset we remind you that our sinsdeserve to die, every one of them, because they are traitors to our God. Once we were traitors, too, and then we gave oursins a willing shelter. We conspired against the Majesty of Heaven, and, therefore, our transgressions were loved and pampered.They were our darlings and we doted on them.
At this time, Beloved, the case is altered, the Lord Jehovah is our God and King-we delight in His reign-and our prayer is,"Let the whole earth be filled with His Glory." Our inbred sins would gladly rob the Lord of His Glory. Every sin is virtuallyan attack upon the Throne of the Most High. It is a treasonable assault upon the crown rights of Heaven.
He who rebels against the Law of God by his breach of that law virtually says, "I will not have this Lawmaker to rule overme." It is not right then, O you children of the kingdom, that sin should be permitted to assail the Lord through
you! It is not right that souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus, loved with an everlasting love and made secure of endlessfavor, should harbor those black and foul traitors-the sins of the flesh and of the mind! Let the decree go forth in the powerof God the Holy Spirit this day to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts! Take those foxes which spoil the vinesand let not one of them escape!
Let them be slain, secondly, because they have already done us infinite evil. In their assault upon God we have already founda master motive for their overthrow. Let us remember, also, that they have sorely injured us and our race. My Brethren, whathas sin done for us? Can you point to any advantage or blessing with which it has enriched us? Look down the roll of historyand see if sin is not man's worst enemy. Whose hot breath blasted Eden, withered all its bowers of bliss and caused the earthto become barren so that without labor even unto sweat she will not yield bread for our sustenance? Mark well yon innumerablegraves which cover every plain with hillocks. Who slew all these?
By what gate came Death into the world? Was not Sin the janitor to open the portal? Hearken at this moment to the shouts ofwar which in every age of the world's history have created a horrible din of groans of dying men and shrieks of flying women.Who first dipped yon flag in blood and made the air pestilent with carnage? And yonder despotic throne which has crushed downthe multitude and made the lives of many bitter with hard bondage-who laid its dark foundations and cemented it with blood?From where came war with its carnage and tyranny with its sufferings? From where, indeed, but from the sins and lusts of men?
All over the world, if there is hemlock in the furrow and thistles on the ridge, Sin's hand has sown them broadcast. Sin turnedthe apples of Sodom to ashes and the grapes of Gomorrah to gall. The trail of this serpent, with its horrid slime, has obliteratedthe footsteps ofjoy! Before the march of Sin I see the garden of the Lord, and behind it a desert and a morgue! Stay awhile.No, start not, but come with me. Look down into the ghastly gloom of Tophet, that abhorred region where dwell the finallyimpenitent who died with unforgiven sins upon their heads! Can you bear to hear their groans and moans of anguish? We willnot attempt to describe the sufferings of spirits driven from their God, eternally banished from all hope and peace, but wewill ask you, O Brothers and Sisters, who dug yon pit and cast men into it? Who provides the fuel for that terrible flame,and where gets the worm that dies not its tooth which never blunts?
Sin has done it all! Sin, the mother of Hell, the fountain of fire to which we may trace each burning stream. O Sin, it isnot right that any heir from Heaven, redeemed from Hell, should make friends with you! Shall we fondle the adder, or pressthe deadly cobra to our bosom? If it had not been for the Grace of God our sins would have shut us up in Hell already! Andeven now they seek to drag us there! Therefore let us take these enemies of our souls and slay them-let not one escape!
But further, dear Brethren, it is right that every sin should die through the Grace of God, whether it is pride, or sloth,or covetousness, or worldliness, or lust, or any other form of evil. It is right that it should die because it will work usserious mischief if it is not put to death. Of great sins, as men think them, there is little need that I speak unto you foryou all know how dangerous they are-but those called little sins are equally to be renounced! To fall by little and littleis a terrible way of falling. A Christian cannot indulge a known sin and yet walk with God! As soon as we tolerate sin withinourselves we lose power in prayer. The Scriptures cease to be sweet to us when sin becomes pleasant. The services of the sanc