Sermon 1191. For Whom Did Christ Die?
Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, September 6th, 1874, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
'Christ died for the ungodly.''Romans 5:6.
In this verse the human race is described as a sick man, whose disease is so far advanced that he is altogether without strength:no power remains in his system to throw off his mortal malady, nor does he desire to do so; he could not save himself fromhis disease if he would, and would not if he could. I have no doubt that the apostle had in his eye the description of thehelpless infant given by the prophet Ezekiel; it was an infant'an infant newly born'an infantdeserted by its mother before the necessary offices of tenderness had been performed; left unwashed, unclothed, unfed,a prey to certain death under the most painful circumstances, forlorn, abandoned, hopeless. Our race is like the nation ofIsrael, its whole head is sick, and its whole heart faint. Such, unconverted men, are you! Only there is this darker shadein your picture, that your condition is not only your calamity, but your fault. In other diseases men are grieved at theirsickness,but this is the worst feature in your case, that you love the evil which is destroying you. In addition to the pity whichyour case demands, no little blame must be measured out to you: you are without will for that which is good, your 'cannot'means 'will not,' your inability is not physical but moral, not that of the blind who cannot see for want of eyes, but ofthe willingly ignorant who refuse to look.
While man is in this condition Jesus interposes for his salvation. 'When we were yet without strength, in due time Christdied for the ungodly'; 'while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,' according to 'his great love wherewith he loved us,even when we were dead in trespasses and sins.' The pith of my sermon will be an endeavour to declare that the reason of Christ'sdying for us did not lie in our excellence; but where sin abounded grace did much more abound, forthe persons for whom Jesus died were viewed by him as the reverse of good, and he came into the world to save those whoare guilty before God, or, in the words of our text, 'Christ died for the ungodly.'
Now to our business. We shall dwell first upon the fact''Christ died for the ungodly'; then we shall consider the fair inferences therefrom; and, thirdly, proceed to think and speak of the proclamation of this simple but wondrous truth.
First, here is THE FACT''Christ died for the ungodly.' Never did the human ear listen to a more astounding and yet cheering truth. Angels desire to look into it, and if men werewise they would ponder it night and day. Jesus, the Son of God, himself God over all, the infinitely glorious One, Creatorof heaven and earth, out of love to me stooped to become a man and die. Christ, the thrice holy God, the pure-hearted man,in whom there was no sin and could be none,espoused the cause of the wicked. Jesus, whose doctrine makes deadly war on sin, whose Spirit is the destroyer of evil,whose whole self abhors iniquity, whose second advent will prove his indignation against transgression, yet undertook thecause of the impious, and even unto death pursued their salvation. The Christ of God, though he had no part or lot in thefall and the sin which has arisen out of it, has died to redeem us from its penalty, and, like the psalmist, he can cry, 'ThenIrestored that which I took not away.' Let all holy beings judge whether this is not the miracle of miracles!
Christ, the name given to our Lord, is an expressive word; it means 'Anointed One,' and indicates that he was sent upon a divineerrand, commissioned by supreme authority. The Lord Jehovah said of old, 'I have laid help upon one that is mighty, I have exalted one chosen out of the people'; and again, 'I have given him as a covenant to the people, a leader and commander to the people.' Jesus was both set apart to this work, and qualifiedfor itby the anointing of the Holy Ghost. He is no unauthorised saviour, no amateur deliverer, but an ambassador clothed withunbounded power from the great King, a Redeemer with full credentials from the Father. It is this ordained and appointed Saviourwho has 'died for the ungodly.' Remember this, ye ungodly! Consider well who it was that came to lay down his life for suchas you are.
The text says Christ died. He did a great deal besides dying, but the crowning act of his career of love for the ungodly, and that which rendered allthe rest available to them, was his death for them. He actually gave up the ghost, not in fiction, but in fact. He laid downhis life for us, breathing out his soul, even as other men do when they expire. That it might be indisputably clear that hewas really dead, his heart was pierced with the soldier's spear, andforthwith came there out blood and water. The Roman governor would not have allowed the body to be removed from the crosshad he not been duly certified that Jesus was indeed dead. His relatives and friends who wrapped him in linen and laid himin Joseph's tomb, were sorrowfully sure that all that lay before them was a corpse. The Christ really died, and in sayingthat, we mean that he suffered all the pangs incident to death; only he endured much more and worse, for his was a death ofpeculiarpain and shame, and was not only attended by the forsaking of man, but by the departure of his God. That cry, 'My God,my God! why hast thou forsaken me?' was the innermost blackness of the thick darkness of death.
Our Lord's death was penal, inflicted upon him by divine justice; and rightly so, for on him lay our iniquities, and thereforeon him must lay the suffering. 'It pleased the Father to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.' He died under circumstanceswhich made his death most terrible. Condemned to a felon's gibbet, he was crucified amid a mob of jesters, with few sympathisingeyes to gaze upon him; he bore the gaze of malice and the glance of scorn; he was hooted andjeered by a ribald throng, who were cruelly inventive in their taunts and blasphemies. There he hung, bleeding from manywounds, exposed to the sun, burning with fever, and devoured with thirst, under every circumstance of contumely, pain, andutter wretchedness; his death was of all deaths the most deadly death, and emphatically 'Christ died.'
But the pith of the text comes here, that 'Christ died for the ungodly'; not for the righteous, not for the reverent and devout, but for the ungodly. Look at the original word, and you will find that it has the meaning of 'impious, irreligious, and wicked.' Our translationis by no means too strong, but scarcely expressive enough. To be ungodly, or godless, is to be in a dreadful state, but asuse has softened the expression, perhaps you will see the sensemore clearly if I read it, 'Christ died for the impious,' for those who have no reverence for God. Christ died for the godless, who, having cast off God, cast off with him all lovefor that which is right. I do not know a word that could more fitly describe the most irreligious of mankind than the originalword in this place, and I believe it is used on purpose by the Spirit of God to convey to us the truth, which we are alwaysslow to receive, that Christ did not die because men weregood, or would be good, but died for them as ungodly'or, in other words, 'he came to seek and to save that which was lost.'
Observe, then, that when the Son of God determined to die for men, he viewed them as ungodly, and far from God by wicked works.In casting his eye over our race he did not say, 'Here and there I see spirits of nobler mould, pure, truthful, truth-seeking,brave, disinterested, and just; and therefore, because of these choice ones, I will die for this fallen race.' No; but lookingon them all, he whose judgment is infallible returned this verdict, 'They are all gone out ofthe way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.' Putting them down at thatestimate, and nothing better, Christ died for them. He did not please himself with some rosy dream of a superior race yetto come, when the age of iron should give place to the age of gold,'some halcyon period of human development, in which civilisationwould banish crime, and wisdom would conduct man back to God. Full well he knew that, left to itself, the world would growworse and worse, and that by its very wisdom it would darken its own eyes. It was not because a golden age would comeby natural progress, but just because such a thing was impossible, unless he died to procure it, that Jesus died for a racewhich, apart from him, could only develop into deeper damnation. Jesus viewed us as we really were, not as our pride fanciesus to be; he saw us to be without God, enemies of our own Creator, dead in trespasses and sins, corrupt, and set on mischief,andeven in our occasional cry for good, searching for it with blinded judgment and prejudiced heart, so that we put bitterfor sweet and sweet for bitter. He saw that in us was no good thing, but every possible evil, so that we were lost,'utterly,helplessly, hopelessly lost apart from him: yet viewing us as in that graceless and Godless plight and condition, he diedfor us.
I would have you remember that the view under which Jesus beheld us was not only the true one, but, for us, the kindly one;because had it been written that Christ died for the better sort, then each troubled spirit would have inferred 'he died notfor me.' Had the merit of his death been the perquisite of honesty, where would have been the dying thief? If of chastity,where the woman that loved much? If of courageous fidelity, how would it have fared with the apostles,for they all forsook him and fled? There are times when the bravest man trembles lest he should be found a coward, themost disinterested frets about the selfishness of his heart, and the most pure is staggered by his own impurity; where, then,would have been hope for one of us, if the gospel had been only another form of law, and the benefits of the cross had beenreserved as the rewards of virtue? The gospel does not come to us as a premium for virtue, but it presents us with forgivenessforsin. It is not a reward for health, but a medicine for sickness. Therefore, to meet all cases, it puts us down at ourworst, and, like the good Samaritan with the wounded traveller, it comes to us where we are. 'Christ died for the impious'is a great net which takes in even the leviathan sinner; and of all the creeping sinners innumerable which swarm the sea ofsin, there is not one kind which this great net does not encompass.
Let us note well that in this condition lay the need of our race that Christ should die. I do not see how it could have beenwritten 'Christ died for the good.' To what end for the good? Why need they his death? If men are perfect, does God need to be reconciled to them? Was he everopposed to holy beings? Impossible! On the other hand, were the good ever the enemies of God? If such there be are they notof necessity his friends? If man be by nature just with God,to what end should the Saviour die? 'The just for the unjust' I can understand; but the 'just dying for the just' were a double injustice'an injustice that the just should be punishedat all, and another injustice that the just should be punished for them. Oh no! If Christ died, it must be because there wasa penalty to be paid for sin committed, hence he must have died for those who had committed the sin. If Christ died, it musthave been because 'a fountain filled with blood' wasnecessary for the cleansing away of heinous stains; hence, it must have been for those who are defiled. Suppose thereshould be found anywhere in this world an unfallen man'perfectly innocent of all actual sin, and free from any tendency toit, there would be a superfluity of cruelty in the crucifixion of the innocent Christ for such an individual. What need hashe that Christ should die for him, when he has in his own innocence the right to live? If there be found beneath the copesof heavenan individual who, notwithstanding some former slips and flaws, can yet, by future diligence, completely justify himselfbefore God, then it is clear that there is no need for Christ to die for him. I would not insult him by telling him that Christdied for him, for he would reply to me, 'Why should he? Cannot I make myself just without him?' In the very nature of thingsit must be so, that if Christ Jesus dies he must die for the ungodly. Such agonies as his would not have been endured hadthere not been a cause, and what cause could there have been but sin?
Some have said that Jesus died as our example; but that is not altogether true. Christ's death is not absolutely an examplefor men, it was a march into a region of which he said, 'Ye cannot follow me now.' His life was our example, but not his deathin all respects, for we are by no means bound to surrender ourselves voluntarily to our enemies as he did, but when persecutedin one city we are bidden to flee to another. To be willing to die for the truth is a most Christlything, and in that Jesus is our example; but into the winepress which he trod it is not ours to enter, the voluntary elementwhich was peculiar to his death renders it inimitable. He said, 'I lay down my life of myself; no man taketh it from me, butI lay it down of myself.' One word of his would have delivered him from his foes; he had but to say 'Begone!' and the Romanguards must have fled like chaff before the wind. He died because he willed to do so; of his own accord he yielded up hisspirit to the Father. It must have been as an atonement for the guilty; it could not have been as an example, for no manis bound voluntarily to die. Both the dictates of nature, and the command of the law, require us to preserve our lives. 'Thoushalt not kill' means 'Thou shalt not voluntarily give up thine own life any more than take the life of another.' Jesus stoodin a special position, and therefore he died; but his example would have been complete enough without his death, had it notbeen for the peculiar office which he had undertaken. We may fairly conclude that Christ died for men who needed sucha death; and, as the good did not need it for an example'and in fact it is not an example to them'he must have died for theungodly.
The sum of our text is this'all the benefits resulting from the Redeemer's passion, and from all the works that followed uponit, are for those who by nature are ungodly. His gospel is that sinners believing in him are saved. His sacrifice has putaway sin from all who trust him, and, therefore, it was offered for those who had sin upon them before. 'He rose again forour justification,' but certainly not for the justification of those who can be justified by their ownworks. He ascended on high, and we are told that he 'received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also.' He lives tointercede, and Isaiah tells us that 'He made intercession for the transgressors.' The aim of his death, resurrection, ascension,and eternal life, is towards the sinful sons of men. His death has brought pardon, but it cannot be pardon for those who haveno sin'pardon is only for the guilty. He is exalted on high 'to give repentance,' but surely not to give repentance tothose who have never sinned, and have nothing to repent of. Repentance and remission both imply previous guilt in thosewho receive them: unless, then, these gifts of the exalted Saviour are mere shams and superfluities, they must be meant forthe really guilty. From his side there flowed out water as well as blood'the water is intended to cleanse polluted nature,then certainly not the nature of the sinless, but the nature of the impure; and so both blood and water flowed for sinnerswhoneed the double purification. To-day the Holy Spirit regenerates men as the result of the Redeemer's death; and who canbe regenerated but those who need a new heart and a right spirit? To regenerate the already pure and innocent were ridiculous;regeneration is a work which creates life where there was formerly death, gives a heart of flesh to those whose hearts wereoriginally stone, and implants the love of holiness where sin once had sole dominion. Conversion is also another gift, whichcomes through his death, but does he turn those whose faces are already in the right direction? It cannot be. He convertsthe sinner from the error of his ways, he turns the disobedient into the right way, he leads back the stray sheep to the fold.Adoption is another gift which comes to us by the cross. Does the Lord adopt those who are already his sons by nature? Ifchildren already, what room is there for adoption? No; but the grand act of divine love is that which takes those who are'children of wrath even as others,' and by sovereign grace puts them among the children, and makes them 'heirs of God,joint heirs with Jesus Christ.'
To-day I see the Good Shepherd in all the energy of his mighty love, going forth into the dreadful wilderness. For whom ishe gone forth? For the ninety and nine who feed at home? No, but into the desert his love sends him, over hill and dale, toseek the one lost sheep which has gone astray. Behold, I see him arousing his church, like a good housewife, to cleanse herhouse. With the besom of the law she sweeps, and with the candle of the word she searches, and what for?For those bright new coined pieces fresh from the mint, which glitter safely in her purse? Assuredly not, but for thatlost piece which has rolled away into the dust, and lies hidden in the dark corner. And lo! grandest of all visions! I seethe Eternal Father, himself, in the infinity of his love, going forth in haste to meet a returning child. And whom does hego to meet? The elder brother returning from the field, bringing his sheaves with him? An Esau, who has brought him savourymeat suchas his soul loveth? A Joseph whose godly life has made him lord over all Egypt? Nay, the Father leaves his home to meeta returning prodigal, who has companied with harlots, and grovelled among swine, who comes back to him in disgraceful rags,and disgusting filthiness! It is on a sinner's neck that the Father weeps; it is on a guilty cheek that he sets his kisses;it is for an unworthy one that the fatted calf is killed, and the best robe is worn, and the house is made merry with musicandwith dancing. Yes, tell it, and let it ring round earth and heaven, Christ died for the ungodly. Mercy seeks the guilty,grace has to do with the impious, the irreligious and the wicked. The physician has not come to heal the healthy, but to healthe sick. The great philanthropist has not come to bless the rich and the great, but the captive and the prisoner. He putsdown the mighty from their seats, for he is a stern leveller, but he has come to lift the beggar from the dunghill, and tosethim among princes, even the princes of his people. Sing ye, then, with the holy Virgin, and let your song be loud andsweet,''He hath filled the hungry with good things, but the rich he hath sent empty away.' 'This is a faithful saying, andworthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.' 'He is able to save to the uttermost themthat come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.' O ye guilty ones, believe in him and live.
II. Let us now consider THE PLAIN INFERENCES FROM THIS FACT. Let me have your hearts as well as your ears, especially thoseof you who are not yet saved, for I desire you to be blessed by the truths uttered; and oh, may the Spirit of God cause itto be so. It is clear that those of you who are ungodly'and if you are unconverted you are that'are in great danger. Jesus would not interpose his life and bear the bloody sweat and crown of thorns, and nails, andspear, and scorn unmitigated, and death itself, if there were not solemn need and imminent peril. There is danger, solemndanger, for you. You are under the wrath of God already, and you will soon die, and then, as surely as you live, you willbe lost, and lost forever; as certain as the righteous will enter into everlasting life, you will be driven into everlastingpunishment. The cross is the danger signal to you, it warns you that if God spared not his only Son, he will not spare you.It isthe lighthouse set on the rocks of sin to warn you that swift and sure destruction awaits you if you continue to rebelagainst the Lord. Hell is an awful place, or Jesus had not needed to suffer such infinite agonies to save us from it.
It is also fairly to be inferred that out of this danger only Christ can deliver the ungodly, and he only through his death. If a less price than that of the life of the Son of God could have redeemed men, he would have been spared. When a countryis at war, and you see a mother give up her only boy to fight her country's battles'her only well-beloved, blameless son'youknow that the battle must be raging very fiercely, and that the country is in stern danger:for, if she could find a substitute for him, though she gave all her wealth, she would lavish it freely to spare her darling.If she were certain that in his heart a bullet would find its target, she must have strong love for her country, and her countrymust be in dire necessity ere she would bid him go. If, then, 'God spared not his Son, but freely delivered him up for usall,' there must have been a dread necessity for it. It must have stood thus: die he, or the sinner must, or justice must;and since justice could not, and the Father desired that the sinner should not, then Christ must; and so he did. Oh, miracle of love! I tell you, sinners, you cannot help yourselves, nor can all the priests of Rome orOxford help you, let them perform their antics as they may; Jesus alone can save, and that only by his death. There on thebloody tree hangs all man's hope; if you enter heaven it must be by force of the incarnate God's bleeding out his life foryou. You are in such perilthat only the pierced hand can lift you out of it. Look to him, at once, I pray you, ere the proud waters go over yoursoul.
Then let it be noticed'and this is the point I want constantly to keep before your view'that Jesus died out of pure pity. He must have died out of the most gratuitous benevolence to the undeserving, because the character of those for whom he diedcould not have attracted him, but must have been repulsive to his holy soul. The impious, the godless'can Christ love thesefor their character? No, he loved them notwithstanding their offences, loved them ascreatures fallen and miserable, loved them according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses and tender mercies, frompity, and not from admiration. Viewing them as ungodly, yet he loved them. This is extraordinary love! I do not wonder thatsome persons are loved by others, for they wear a potent charm in their countenances, their ways are winsome, and their characterscharm you into affection; 'but God commendeth his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.' Helooked at us, and there was not a solitary beauty spot upon us: we were covered with 'wounds, and bruises, and putrefyingsores,' distortions, defilements, and pollutions; and yet, for all that, Jesus loved us. He loved us because he would loveus; because his heart was full of pity, and he could not let us perish. Pity moved him to seek the most needy objects thathis love might display its utmost ability in lifting men from the lowest degradation, and putting them in the highest positionofholiness and honour.
Observe another inference. If Christ died for the ungodly, this fact leaves the ungodly no excuse if they do not come to him, and believe in him unto salvation. Had it been otherwise they might have pleaded, 'We are not fit to come.' But you areungodly, and Christ died for the ungodly, why not for you? I hear the reply, 'But I have been so very vile.' Yes, you havebeen impious, but your sin is not worse than this word ungodly will compass. Christ died for thosewho were wicked, thoroughly wicked. The Greek word is so expressive that it must take in your case, however wrongly youhave acted. 'But I cannot believe that Christ died for such as I am,' says one. Then, sir, mark! I hold you to your words,and charge you with contradicting the Eternal God to his teeth, and making him a liar. Your statement gives God the lie. TheLord declares that 'Christ died for the ungodly,' and you say he did not, what is that but to make God a liar? How can youexpectmercy if you persist in such proud unbelief? Believe the divine revelation. Close in at once with the gospel. Forsakeyour sins and believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall surely live. The fact that Christ died for the ungodly renders self-righteousnessa folly. Why need a man pretend that he is good if 'Christ died for the ungodly?' We have an orphanage, and the qualificationfor our orphanage is that the child for whom admission is sought shall be utterly destitute. I will suppose a widowtrying to show to me and my fellow trustees that her boy is a fitting object for the charity; will she tell us that herchild has a rich uncle? Will she enlarge upon her own capacities for earning a living? Why, this would be to argue againstherself, and she is much too wise for that, I warrant you, for she knows that any such statements would damage rather thanserve her cause. So, sinner, do not pretend to be righteous, do not dream that you are better than others, for that is toargueagainst yourself. Prove that you are not by nature ungodly, and you prove yourself to be one for whom Jesus did not die.Jesus comes to make the ungodly godly, and the sinful holy, but the raw material upon which he works is described in the textnot by its goodness but by its badness; it is for the ungodly that Jesus died. 'Oh, but if I felt!' Felt what? Felt somethingwhich would make you better? Then you would not so clearly come under the description here given. If you are destitute ofgoodfeelings, and thoughts, and hopes, and emotions, you are ungodly, and 'Christ died for the ungodly.' Believe in him andyou shall be saved from that ungodliness.
'Well,' cries out some Pharisaic moralist, 'this is dangerous doctrine.' How so? Would it be dangerous doctrine to say thatphysicians exercise their skill to cure sick people and not healthy ones? Would that encourage sickness? Would that discouragehealth? You know better; you know that to inform the sick of a physician who can heal them is one of the best means for promotingtheir cure. If ungodly and impious men would take heart and run to the Saviour, and by himbecome cured of impiety and ungodliness, would not that be a good thing? Jesus has come to make the ungodly godly, theimpious pious, the wicked obedient, and the dishonest upright. He has not come to save them in their sins, but from their sins; and this is the best of news for those who are diseased with sin. Self-righteousness is a folly, and despairis a crime, since Christ died for the ungodly. None are excluded hence but those who do themselves exclude; this great gateisset so wide open that the very worst of men may enter, and you, dear hearer, may enter now.
I think it is also very evident from our text that when they are saved, the converted find no ground of boasting; for when their hearts are renewed and made to love God they cannot say, 'See how good I am,' because they were not so bynature; they were ungodly, and, as such, Christ died for them. Whatever goodness there may be in them after conversion theyascribe it to the grace of God, since by nature they were alienated from God, and far removed fromrighteousness. If the truth of natural depravity be but known and felt, free grace must be believed in, and then all gloryingis at an end.
This will also keep the saved ones from thinking lightly of sin. If God had forgiven sinners without an atonement they might have thought little of transgression, but now that pardon comesto them through the bitter griefs of their Redeemer they cannot but see it to be an exceeding great evil. When we look toJesus dying on the cross we end our dalliance with sin, and utterly abhor the cause of so great suffering to so dear a Saviour.Every wound of Jesus is anargument against sin. We never know the full evil of our iniquities till we see what it cost the Redeemer to put themaway.
Salvation by the death of Christ is the strongest conceivable promoter of all the things which are pure, honest, lovely, andof good report. It makes sin so loathsome that the saved one cannot take up even its name without dread. 'I will take awaythe name of Baalim out of thy mouth.' He looks upon it as we should regard a knife rusted with gore, wherewith some villainhad killed our mother, our wife, or child. Could we play with it? Could we bear it about our persons orendure it in our sight? No, accursed thing! stained with the heart's blood of my beloved, I would fain fling thee intothe bottomless abyss! Sin is that dagger which stabbed the Saviour's heart, and henceforth it must be the abomination of everyman who has been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice.
To close this point. Christ's death for the ungodly is the grandest argument to make the ungodly love him when they are saved. To love Christ is the mainspring of obedience in men'how shall men be led to love him? If you would grow love, you must sowlove. Go, then; and let men know the love of Christ to sinners, and they will, by grace, be moved to love him in return. Nodoubt all of us require to know the threatenings of the wrath of God; but that which soonesttouches my heart is Christ's free love to an unworthy one like myself. When my sins seem blackest to me, and yet I knowthat through Christ's death I am forgiven, this blest assurance melts me down.
'If thou hadst bid thy thunders roll,
And lightnings flash, to blast my soul.
I still had stubborn been;
But mercy has my heart subdued,
A bleeding Saviour I have view'd,
And now I hate my sin.'
I have heard of a soldier who had been put in prison for drunkenness and insubordination several times and he had been alsoflogged, but nothing improved him. At last he was taken in the commission of another offence, and brought before the commandingofficer, who said to him, 'My man, I have tried everything in the martial code with you, except shooting you; you have beenimprisoned and whipped, but nothing has changed you. I am determined to try something else with you.You have caused us a great deal of trouble and anxiety, and you seem resolved to do so still; I shall, therefore, changemy plans with you, and I shall neither fine you, flog you, nor imprison you; I will see what kindness will do, and thereforeI fully and freely forgive you.' The man burst into tears, for he reckoned on a round number of lashes, and had steeled himselfto bear them, but when he found he was to be forgiven, and set free, he said, 'Sir, you shall not have to find fault withmeagain.' Mercy won his heart. Now, sinner, in that fashion God is dealing with you. Great sinners! Ungodly sinners! Godsays, 'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways. I have threatened you, and you hardened your heartsagainst me. Therefore, come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' 'Well,' says one, 'I am afraid if you talk to sinners so they willgo andsin more and more.' Yes, there are brutes everywhere, who can be so unnatural as to sin because grace abounds, but I blessGod there is such a thing as the influence of love, and I am rejoiced that many feel the force of it, and yield to the conqueringarms of amazing grace. The Spirit of God wins the day by such arguments as these; love is the great battering-ram which opensgates of brass. When the Lord says, 'I have blotted out thy transgressions like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thineiniquities,' then the man is moved to repentance.
I can tell you hundreds and thousands of cases in which this infinite love has done all the good that morality itself couldask to have done; it has changed the heart and turned the entire current of the man's nature from sin to righteousness. Thesinner has believed, repented, turned from his evil ways, and become zealous for holiness. Looking to Jesus he has felt hissin forgiven, and he has started up a new man, to lead a new life. God grant it may be so this morning,and he shall have all the glory of it.
III. So now we must close'and this is the last point'THE PROCLAMATION OF THIS FACT, that 'Christ died for the ungodly.' Iwould not mind if I were condemned to live fifty years more, and never to be allowed to speak but these five words, if I mightbe allowed to utter them in the ear of every man, and woman, and child who lives. 'CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY' is the bestmessage that even angels could bring to men. In the proclamation of this the whole church ought totake its share. Those of us who can address thousands should be diligent to cry aloud''Christ died for the ungodly'; butthose of you who can speak to one, or write a letter to one, must keep on at this''Christ died for the ungodly.' Shout itout, or whisper it out; print it in capitals, or write it in a lady's hand''Christ died for the ungodly.' Speak it solemnly,it is not a thing for jest. Speak it joyfully; it is not a theme for sorrow, but for joy. Speak it firmly; it is indisputablefact. Facts of science, as they call them, are always questioned: this is unquestionable. Speak it earnestly; for if therebe any truth which ought to arouse all a man's soul it is this: 'Christ died for the ungodly.' Speak it where the ungodlylive, and that is at your own house. Speak it also down in the dark corners of the city, in the haunts of debauchery, in thehome of the thief, in the den to the depraved. Tell it in the gaol; and sit down at the dying bed and read in a tenderwhisper''Christ died for the ungodly.' When you pass the harlot in the street, do not give a toss with that proud headof yours, but remember that 'Christ died for the ungodly'; and when you recollect those that injured you, say no bitter word,but hold your tongue, and remember 'Christ died for the ungodly.' Make this henceforth the message of your life''Christ diedfor the ungodly.'
And, oh, dear friends, you that are not saved, take care that you receive this message. Believe it. Go to God with this onyour tongue''Lord save me, for Christ died for the ungodly, and I am of them.' Fling yourself right on to this as a man commitshimself to his lifebelt amid the surging billows. 'But I do not feel,' says one. Trust not your feelings if you do; but withno feelings and no hopes of your own, cling desperately to this, 'Christ died for the ungodly.' Thetransforming, elevating, spiritualising, moralising, sanctifying power of this great fact you shall soon know and be nomore ungodly; but first, as ungodly, rest you on this, 'Christ died for the ungodly.' Accept this truth, my dear hearer, andyou are saved. I do not mean merely that you will be pardoned, I do not mean that you will enter heaven, I mean much more;I mean that you will have a new heart; you will be saved from the love of sin, saved from drunkenness, saved from uncleanness,saved from blasphemy, saved from dishonesty. 'Christ died for the ungodly''if that be really known and trusted in, itwill open in your soul new springs of living water which will cleanse the Augean stable of your nature, and make a templeof God of that which was before a den of thieves. Trust in the mercy of God through the death of Jesus Christ, and a new erain your life's history will at once commence.
Having put this as plainly as I know how, and having guarded my speech to prevent there being anything like a flowery sentencein it, having tried to put this as clearly as daylight itself,'that 'Christ died for the ungodly,' if your ears refuse theprecious boons that come through the dying Christ, your blood be on your own heads, for there is no other way of salvationfor any one among you. Whether you reject or accept this, I am clear. But oh! do not reject it, for itis your life. If the Son of God dies for sinners, and sinners reject his blood, they have committed the most heinous offencepossible. I will not venture to affirm, but I do suggest that the devils in hell are not capable of so great a stretch ofcriminality as is involved in the rejection of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Here lies the highest love. The incarnate Godbleeds to death to save men, and men hate God so much that they will not even have him as he dies to save them. They willnot bereconciled to their Creator, though he stoops from his loftiness to the depths of woe in the person of his Son on theirbehalf. This is depravity indeed, and desperateness of rebellion. God grant you may not be guilty of it. There can be no fiercerflame of wrath than that which will break forth from love that has been trampled upon, when men have put from them eternallife, and done despite to the Lamb of God. 'Oh,' says one, 'would God I could believe!' 'Sir, what difficulty is there init?Is it hard to believe the truth? Darest thou belie thy God? Art thou steeling thy heart to such desperateness that thouwilt call thy God a liar?' 'No; I believe Christ died for the ungodly,' says one, 'but I want to know how to get the meritof that death applied to my own soul.' Thou mayest, then, for here it is''He that believeth in him,' that is, he that trustsin him, 'is not condemned.' Here is the gospel and the whole of it''He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: he thatbelieveth not shall be damned.'
I am a poor weak man like yourselves, but my gospel is not weak; and it would be no stronger if one of 'the mailed cherubim,or sworded seraphim' could take the platform and stand here instead of me. He could tell to you no better news. God, in condescensionto your weakness, has chosen one of your fellow mortals to bear to you this message of infinite affection. Do not reject it!By your souls' value, by their immortality, by the hope of heaven and by the dread of hell,lay hold upon eternal life; and by the fear that this may be your last day on earth, yea, and this evening your last hour,I do beseech you now, 'steal away to Jesus.' There is life in a look at the crucified one; there is life at this moment foryou. Look to him now and live. Amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON'Ezekiel 16:1-14; Romans 5:1-11.
HYMNS FROM 'OUR OWN HYMN BOOK'174, 502 (v. 4, 5, 6), 553.