Sermon 1213. Faith, And The Witness Upon Which It Is Founded
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He has witnessed ofHis Son. He that believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God, has made Him a liar; becausehe believes not the witness that God witnessed of His Son." 1 John 5:9,10.
YOU observe that I have somewhat corrected the translation. The same word is employed in every case in the original, but forthe sake of variety of expression the translators have used four different words in our version and so, instead of improvingthe sense, which, indeed, never can be in the case of the Holy Spirit's writing, they have rather darkened the meaning. Putthe word, "witness," or, "testimony," in each case, and you get the true meaning.
Last Thursday night I tried to show the great importance of faith and that while it was a most simple thing it was also mostsublime. While it appeared to be weak, it was really the strongest of all motive principles, and produced the most amazingresults. If, on this occasion I shall run in the same strain, for me, indeed, it will not be grievous, and for you it willbe safe, for we cannot too often review the Truths of God which are the vitals of our holy religion. Faith stands, under theCovenant of Grace, in a leading position among the works of the regenerate man and the gifts of the Spirit of God.
Righteousness is no longer to him that works, but to the man that believes on Him that justifies the ungodly. The promiseno longer stands to the man who does these things, that he shall live in them, else we were shut out of it, but, "The justshall live by faith." God now bids us live by believing in Him. He saw that we were not willing to yield obedience to Himand remained rebellious. Perceiving, with a glance, that the root of that rebellion lay in lack of love to Him and in needof confidence in Him, He now begins, at the very foundation of the whole matter, and by a wondrous act of Grace, to claimour confidence. He gives us proof that He deserves it and then comes to us, and says, "Trust Me. Trust My Son, who has diedfor you, and you are reconciled to Me by His blood.
"Begin, then, the new life, with confidence in Me as the mainspring of all your actions, and thus shall you be saved. If Ithreaten you, you will only revolt more and more. If I strike you, you will sooner die under the rod than repent. Nothingremains with which to influence you but love. And now, in the Person of My Son, I commend My love to you and show you whatgood intents I have towards you. Come and trust Me. Let us be Friends again. Rely upon what I have worked in the Person ofMy Son, that you might be forgiven. Trust Him and you are saved."
Men are willing enough to accept a Gospel which requires them to do something. They admire the impossible way of salvationby works. Man is afraid, when Sinai is altogether on a smoke, and begs that the terrible words of the Law may not be spokento him again. And yet he still loves to wander around the foot of Sinai and is unwilling to come unto Mount Zion. The oldspirit of Hagar is upon us-and until the Lord causes us to be born again we remain children of the bondwoman and will notrejoice in the promise. To accept the gift of Free Grace is contrary to our proud nature! The power of God is needed to induceus to throw down the tools with which we work for salvation and take, with joyful hands, the full, free and finished salvationwhich Jesus bestows on all who trust Him. One would have thought this plan of trusting in Jesus for salvation would be joyfullyaccepted by all, but, instead of that, no man receives the witness of God, though it is Infallible.
I wish to speak, this evening, a little upon the grounds of testimony-the reasons of faith-and may God grant, while we speakabout them, Believers may be refreshed and unbelievers may be led to Jesus! First, in our text, we have the external evidence,or the witness of God to us-"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of Godwhich He has witnessed of His Son." Then, secondly, we shall consider the internal evidence, or the witness of God in us."He that believes on the Son has the witness in himself." And then, thirdly, we shall inquire how we
are treating the witness of God, especially dealing with those of whom we find it said, "He that believes not God, has madeHim a liar, because he believes not the witness that God witnessed of His Son."
I. First, then, dear Friends, since our great business is that we believe God, let us see what reason we have for believingHim. THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE given is stated in the first verse of the text, as the evidence of God to us, and it is prefacedby the remark that, "we receive the witness of men." We are accustomed to receive the witness of men. David said, "All menare liars," but he spoke in haste. There would be no history if we did not receive the witness of men. If we neglected humanevidence there could be no courts of law, no trading between man and man except for cash money. Confidence would cease andthe bands which unite the social fabric would be snapped. We do and must believe the testimony of men as a general rule-andit is only right that we should account witnesses honest till they have proven themselves false.
The principle may very readily be pushed too far, and we may take the witness of men and find ourselves deceived. Still, forall that, the evidence of honest men is weighty and, "in the mouth of two or three witnesses the whole shall be established."Now God has been pleased to give us a measure of the witness of men with regard to His Son, Jesus Christ. We have the witnessof such men as the four Evangelists and the 12 Apostles. These men saw Jesus Christ. Some of them were familiar with Him foryears. They saw evidence of His Deity, for they saw Him walk on water and heard Him say to the winds and the waves, "Peace,be still," and there was a great calm! These witnesses say that they saw Him heal lepers with a touch, open blind men's eyesand even raise the dead.
Three of them tell us that they were on the Mountain of Transfiguration with Him and saw His Glory, and heard a Voice outof Heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son: hear you Him." These persons were very unsophisticated individuals. They mostlybelonged to a class of men who are rather celebrated for their bluff honesty, namely, fishermen. They certainly had nothingto gain by saying that they saw all these things-in fact, they had everything to lose. Their names are famous, now, but theycould little have reckoned upon such fame. And they do not appear to have been men who cared about fame at all.
They lost their all. They were despised and maltreated, and most of them met with a cruel death on account of having bornewitness to what they saw. Their witness is by no means of a doubtful character. They were very positive that they saw thethings of which they are witnesses. One of them has said, "he that saw it bore record, and he knows that his witness is true,and he knows what he says true." No part of history has come down to us so well attested as the life of our Lord and SaviorJesus Christ!
Now, a man takes Tacitus, and he believes what Tacitus tells him, although, very likely, Tacitus did not see the things andonly got them second hand. But as a reputable historian, his witness is received. Surely the witness of Matthew and Mark,and Luke and John, and Peter and James and Paul is as good as the witness of Julius Caesar or Tacitus! And it is renderedthe more trustworthy from the fact that they died for adhering to it-which neither Caesar nor Tacitus were made to do. Besides,for the Gospel narrative we have many witnesses-the number of names was about 120-and they all agreed and stood fast. Andeven the one who did, for a time, seem to forsake his testimony, bad as he was, returned to it and threw down the money forwhich he had sold his Master and said, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent
We have the witness of men as to the facts that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived and died and rose again and ascended intoHeaven. Further, we have the testimony of men as to the present power of that same Jesus to forgive men their trespasses andto save them from the power of sin. From the first day when our Lord was taken up till now, men and women have come forwardand have said, "We were once lovers of sin. Whatever our neighbors are, such were we, but we are washed! We are sanctified!And all this by faith in Jesus." Those who knew these people have confessed the change, although they have often been, atthe same time, angry with them for it. They have acknowledged their virtues and have persecuted them on that account.
Now these converted people have stood to it that they obtained a new heart and a right spirit through believing in Jesus.They have been put in prison for saying this and for declaring that faith in the crucified Savior had delivered them fromthe dominion of sin, from despondency and despair. That it had made them love God, given them hope and joy and peace, taughtthem to love their neighbors, to do justice and to expect a home in Heaven. These people have been among the best in the world,all along, even as we read in history of the Albigenses and the Waldenses, or the Vaudois or the
Lollards. They are described as detestable fanatics and enthusiasts, but they are admitted to have been sober, honest, chaste,quiet citizens and industrious parents-so that the very kings who put them to death regretted that it was necessary to sacrificesuch subjects.
Now, it is a very singular thing that these people should so constantly and continuously come forward and say, "The witnessof God is true. He has sent His Son into the world and those that believe on Him are saved. We are saved and we will burnat Smithfield, rot in the Lollards' tower, or lie in a dungeon till the moss grows on our eyelids-but we will never deny orcease to assert this Gospel." All ages have supplied the witness of men. Some of you, beloved Friends, have had this witnessin a very pointed and practical manner. I may be addressing one who is irreligious, but he never can forget his mother, orhis sister, or some other beloved relative now gone to Heaven. You are never able to laugh at religion, though you do notbelieve in it, because these sainted ones rise up before your mind.
You are persuaded that they were under a delusion, but, for all that, they were so happy that you half wish you were deluded,too. You would sooner put your children in a school with godly people than with skeptics like yourself-you know you would!There is a something about a Christian which is a witness to you. To me, I must confess, the witness of the lives of someChristians has been wonderfully confirmatory when I have seen how they suffer without repining and even bless the Lord inthe midst of agony. If this is the essence of the Christian religion it must be true! And so, on dying beds, when we haveseen the remarkable peace and, sometimes, the extraordinary joy of persons departing, we have felt quite sure that faith inJesus is no fiction.
I have heard dying children speak like doctors of divinity about the things of God! I have heard dying women who were quiteuneducated, speak of the world unseen in a style of inspiration which has struck me with awe. I do not believe that a faithwhich enables a man to die triumphantly, rejoicing in his God, or to die calmly in the midst of pain, looking for a worldto come, can be, after all, a myth! O, if it were so, and the wise man could prove it was all a mistake, I would almost askhim to forego his work-for this has charmed away our fears and turned our desert life into a garden of the Lord! The Gospelhas smoothed the pillow of the dying and wiped the tears of the desponding! Alas, for you, O Earth, if this could be provena dream! Then were your sun quenched forever and it had been better for us all that we had never been born!
But it is not so! The witness of men about the things of God is very clear. Some years ago there went into a Methodist classmeeting, a lawyer who was a doubter, but at the same time a man of candid spirit. Sitting down on one of the benches, he listenedto a certain number of poor people, his neighbors, whom he knew to be honest people. He heard some 13 or 14 of these personsspeak about the power of Divine Grace in their souls, and about their conversion and so on. He jotted down the particularsand went home, sat down, and said to himself, "Now, these people all bear witness. I will weigh their evidence." It struckhim that if he could get those 12 or 13 people into the witness box, to testify on his side in any question before a court,he could carry anything.
They were persons of different degrees of intellect and education, but they were all of the sort of persons whom he wouldlike to have for witnesses-persons who could bear cross-examination and by their very tone and manner would win the confidenceof the jury. "Very well," he said to himself, "I am as much bound to believe these people about their religious experienceas about anything else." He did so and that led to his believing on the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart! Thus, you see,the testimony of God to us does, in a measure, come through men and we are bound to receive it.
But now comes the text-"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater." God is to be believed if all mencontradict Him! "Let God be true and every man a liar." One Word of God ought to sweep away 10,000 words of men, whether theyare philosophers of today or sages of antiquity. God's Word against them all, for He knows Infallibly! Of His own Son He knowsas none else can. Of our condition before Him, He knows! Of the way to pardon us He knows! There is nothing in God that couldlead Him to err or make a mistake-and it were blasphemy to suppose that He would mislead us!
It were an insult to Him, such as we may not venture to perpetrate for a moment, to suppose that He would willfully misleadHis poor creatures by a proclamation of mercy which meant nothing, or by presenting to them a Christ who could not redeemthem! The Gospel, with God for its witness, cannot be false! Whatever may be the witness against it, the witness of God isgreater! We must believe the witness of God! Now, what is the witness of God with regard to Christ?
How does He prove to us that Jesus Christ did really come into the world to save us? He proves it in three ways accordingto the context of this passage. God's witnesses are three-the Spirit, the water, and the blood.
God says, "My Son did come into the world. He is My gift to sinful men. He has redeemed you and He is able to save to theuttermost them that come unto Me by Him. And in proof that it is so, the Holy Spirit has been given. He descended at Pentecost.He abides with you forever. He has not gone back again. He is in the Word-He is with the Word. He is in the Church-He is withthe Church." Whenever God the Holy Spirit is pleased to work, whether in revivals, or by individual conversions, the wonderfulphenomena which are worked by Him, which are miracles in the world of the mind, are as astonishing as the miracles of Christin the world of matter. God is saying, "I declare Christ to be My Son and your Savior, for I have sent the Holy Spirit toprove it. I have converted yonder sinner, I have comforted yonder saint, by the Holy Spirit. I have instructed the ignorant,I have sanctified the impure, I have guided My people safely by the Holy Spirit. He is My witness. If you need any evidencethat Jesus is really My Son, behold My Spirit going forth among the sons of men, converting whom He wills by the Truth concerningJesus."
Then the water, that is to say, the purifying power of the Gospel is also God's witness to the Truth of the Gospel. If itdoes not change men's characters when they receive it, it is not true. If it does not purify and produce virtue and holiness,do not believe it! But as God everywhere-among the most savage tribes, or among the most refined of mankind- makes the Gospelto be sacred, it has the power of cleansing the hearts and lives of men. He gives another witness that His Son is really Divineand that His Gospel is true-the blood also witnesses. Does believing in Jesus Christ do what the blood was said to do, namely,give peace with God through the pardon of sin? Does it, or not?
Hundreds of thousands all over the world affirm that they had no peace of conscience till they looked to the streaming veinsof Jesus-and then they saw how God can be Just and yet forgive sin. Wherever God gives peace through the blood, that bloodwitnesses with the Spirit and the water on God's behalf. He says to us sinners, "I have spoken to you a Word of love, andthat word is My Son. What I have said to you is Jesus. He is My communication to men. I have delivered Him as My message toyour souls. And in proof that He is my message to you-a message of love and mercy and pardon-behold, I send the Holy Spiritforth among the sons of men! Behold, I work a purifying work among the sons of men and I give peace in the heart through theblood of the Atonement. These three agreeing in one, are My witness concerning My Son."
Now, dear Brothers and Sisters, remember that the evidence of faith to every soul hangs here. I shall soon speak to you ofthe witness in you, but the faith demanded of men rests not upon the ground of any witness in them, but of the witness tothem. I am to believe God because He cannot lie. I am to believe Christ because God gives me the witness concerning Christ.And if I will not do so I shall have no other witness. The inward evidence only comes to those who, first of all, accept theevidence of God. Witness in us is not given first, but witness to us-and if the evidence to us is rejected, we shall be castaway and lost forever.
II. I come now TO THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE, or the witness in us. "He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in Himself."When a man is led by the Spirit of God to believe that God cannot lie, he enquires what it is that God says. And he hearsthat atonement has been made and that whoever believes in Jesus shall have eternal life. He sees the witness to be good andhe believes it. That man is saved. What happens next? Why, this man becomes a new creature! Old things have passed away. Heloves what he hated and hates what he loved! He believes what he denied and disbelieves what he formerly accepted. He is radicallychanged.
"Now," says he to himself, "I am sure of the Truth of the Gospel, for this change, this wonderful change in me, in my heart,my speech and my life, must be of Divine origin! I was told that if I believed I should be saved from my former self, andI am! I know not only by the external witness, nor even because of the witness of God, but I have an inner consciousness ofa most marvelous birth and this is a witness in myself." The man then goes on to enjoy great peace. Looking alone to JesusChrist for pardon, he finds his sins taken from him and his heart is unburdened of a load of fear. And this rest of heartbecomes to him another inward witness.
To be forgiven makes his very soul dance for joy and he cries, "Now I know that Christ's blood can wash away sin, becausemine has gone." Oh, believe me, if you were ever reduced to despair under a sense of sin. If you were ever dragged througha thorn hedge, laid by the feet in the stocks of conviction and beaten with the great ten-thonged whip of the Law till therewas not a sound place on you and you were utterly ready to die-if Jesus then came to you and said, "Be of
good comfort, your sins are forgiven you"-you knew that it was so and doubted His existence no more! From that moment youlearned to say, "I once hated the testimony of Matthew and Mark, and Luke, and John, and Paul, but I do not now. I believeand am sure, for I have felt it myself, and know it in my soul."
Perhaps a skeptical neighbor will sneeringly say, "It is fanaticism." Yes, but you will feel just like a man who went to theOphthalmic Hospital as blind as a bat and came out able to see clearly-and somebody said it was fanaticism and he said-"Well,I do not know what that hard word means, but one thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see." It is a wonderfully hard thingto drive a man out of his consciousness. "Prove that you are alive," said somebody, and the man who was asked for the proofwalked across the room. Instead of a syllogism he gave a fact! So does the joy and peace which the Lord gives to His peoplefrom Himself become to them the very best evidence of the power of the precious blood and of the Divine mission of Jesus!
As the Christian thus goes on from strength to strength, he meets with answers to prayer. He goes to God in trouble, tellsthe Lord about it, and he gets out of his trouble, or he is enabled to bear it and to see it all works for his good. In greatperplexity he hastens to the Lord-light comes and he sees his way through it. He needs many favors. He asks for them and theyare bestowed. He does not need Elijah to come and say, "God hears prayer, for He answered my cries on Carmel and sent rain."He wants no Old Testament saint to declare to him that God answers His people's requests. He is glad of their testimony, buthe has the witness in himself!
I sometimes hear of even professed ministers of Christ who have doubts about these things. I should like to ask them a questionor two. I should not enquire as to what they believe or do not believe, but I should begin thus-"Do you know Jesus Christin your own soul? Were you ever converted? Do you feel the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon you?" If I came to closequestioning with some of these skeptical gentlemen, I guarantee you they would soon take themselves off to some other company!I do not believe in this modern doubting-I have no faith in its honesty and no belief in its depth. The most foolish men Iknow of take up with it just as small boys like to wear men's clothes.
But when a man knows anything about God by fellowship and has really experienced these things, doubts and fears may flit acrosshis soul-just as the migratory birds in the end of autumn may be heard flying overhead in the air-but they will not alighton his soul to rest! Infidel theories find no dwelling place in a soul that is really born unto God and has daily and continualdealings with Him. A man does not doubt things that are an integral part of his daily existence. Very few skepticisms arisein a man's mind about the facts of pain and pleasure, or the phenomena of hunger and thirst. So, when it comes to living andfeeding upon Christ, practical experience soon puts an end to questions. "He that believes has the witness in himself."
O, Brothers and Sisters, the Lord gives to His people answers to prayer! And he gives them such a sense of nearness to Himselfand sometimes such overpowering joys in His Presence, or such an overwhelming sense of awe when He comes near to them, thatthey believe and are sure that it is even so. "He that believes has the witness in himself" and there is no witness like it!Expect the witness of God, which stands first and which we are to receive, or perish-there is nothing equal to the witnesswithin yourself. Somebody wants to prove to me that sugar is sweet. My dear Sir, you may spare yourself the trouble. I hadsome in my tea, just now, and I am quite sure about it.
He wants to prove to me that seawater is salty. Sir, I do not question it, I have tasted it quite often enough to have nodoubt about it. Things of religion must be tasted to be proved-"O, taste and see that the Lord is good." First believe theGospel to be true, because of the witness of God. And if, having so believed, you would be deepened and strengthened in faith,go on to enjoy the blessings of Divine Grace and you will grow in faith. Christian people, I ask you this question and I knowyour answer-If you ever doubt about the truthfulness of God, is it not when your piety is in a low condition? If you haveneglected prayer. If you have lost fellowship with Jesus. If you have dropped out of accord with God. Is it not then thatyou are plagued with questions?
But if we walk in the Light, as God is in the Light, and abide in Him whom we have received, is it not true that though wemay be quite unable to meet, in the ways of logic, the objections that are raised, there is a something within, an inwardindisputable assurance which is not shaken and cannot be? It is said of a Roman Catholic priest that he took away the NewTestament from a child on one occasion, but the child's teacher had taught the boy 12 chapters of the Gospel according toJohn, and so he said to the priest, "But you cannot take it all away, Sir." "Why not?" "Because I have learned 12 chaptersby heart."
Now, if the critics begin tearing away at our precious Book-though I would not let them have a verse of it-yet, if they couldobliterate some of its promises, they could not tear it all away because we have it in our hearts. We know it is true. Manya poor man and woman could illuminate their Bibles after the fashion of the tried saint who placed a, "T and P," in the margin.She was asked what it meant and replied, "That means, 'Tried and Proved,' Sir." Yes, we have tried and proved the Word ofGod and are sure of its Truth!
III. I have shown you that the Gospel is proclaimed to men and they are expected to believe it-not upon the ground of anywitness that is in them, but because of the witness of God to them. And I have also shown that the witness in them followsin due course as a reward of faith rather than a ground of faith. But here is the practical point-HOW ARE WE TREATING THEWITNESS OF GOD? For it is written in our text, "He that believes not God, has made Him a liar; because he believes not thewitness that God witnessed of His Son."
Now, are we believing the witness of God? I believe that the most of you here present entertain no doubt, whatever, that theBible is the Word of God. Do not, therefore, I pray you, think it superfluous for me to ask you! Do you believe it? Do youbelieve it? You reply, "of course I do." Well, I am not sure that it is, "of course," because there are persons who believein a way-and that way is a false one. I have heard of a poor curate who was upbraided for not believing the articles of hisChurch and replied that he believed at the rate of 40 pounds a year.
There are persons who believe at a very cheap rate. They believe in the Westminster Assembly's Catechism-it is true they neverread it-but they believe it. The Church has a creed-they do not know what it is-but they still say they believe it. They believewhat the Church believes. "But what does the Church believe?" "It believes what I believe." "And what do you and the Churchbelieve?" "We both believe the same thing." That is what it comes to. Such a faith will not save your soul! There must bean intelligent reception of the testimony which God has given. There are many in whom this faith does not exist, because ifit did they could not act as they do.
Do you unconverted people believe that the wrath of God abides on you? Then you must be insane if you do not seek to escapefrom that wrath! If you believed that at this moment there was a snake in your pew, I guarantee you, you would soon rush outinto the aisle! I should not need to argue with you about it, either! I might try to persuade you to sit still, but you wouldnot be persuaded. If you really believed that your sins had destroyed you, you could not be careless any longer. Do you believethat Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners and that He is able to save you? Yes, you are sure you do.
I am not so sure, because if it were certain that there was outside yonder door a purse of gold worth 50,000 pounds and thatwhoever chose to take it should have it, you would be glad to hear me pronounce the benediction, the most devout of you, sothat you might get the treasure! You would not need any exhorting to go, for natural instincts would lead you to make hasteand seize the golden opportunity. If you believe that Jest Christ saves from sin and gives to the soul a treasure far beyondall price, you should make all speed to obtain the precious gift! Is it not so? He who believes in the value of a gift willhasten to accept it unless he is out of his mind!
Many of you who think you believe, and say you believe, do not believe at all! And, I put it to you, do you know what youare doing? You are calling God a liar! So the text says. "No, I would not do that," says one. Friend, I hope that your caseis well described in that prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But after tonight you will knowwhat you do. If you do not believe what God says, you call Him a liar. "I do not see that," says one. You cannot help seeingit if you will but look at it, for if any person bears witness to you concerning some important matter and you say, "I donot believe you," you call that person a liar!
When God bears witness in any way, He ought to be believed. To deny the Truth of God is a fearful insult to Him. To everyman and to every good man, especially, his truthfulness is a jewel. He cannot endure to have his truth impugned, and do youthink that God can? The more pure a man is, the more indignant he is when his truthfulness is assailed. And to doubt God isto assail a truthfulness which is unimpeachable and ought never to be questioned! Besides, look at the whole case. You havequarreled with God. You have broken His Law. You have sinned. You deserve to be cast into Hell! And yet, in His mercy, Hesays, "Sinner, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, but would rather that he should turn unto Me and live. Andin order that I may be able to forgive you and yet be Judge of all the earth, I have given My own Son to bleed and die onCalvary, that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life. Come," He says, "Sinner, trust in My Son,and I will forgive you."
And your answer is, "I do not believe You." Now that is, in addition to the insult of unbelief, exceedingly provoking to theloving heart of God! I have met with persons who have been generous to the poor until the murmuring words of some whom theyhave tried to benefit have quite wearied them from their benevolent course. Most persons who are doing generous actions arevery sorely hurt if their conduct is misrepresented and their kindness treated with ingratitude. Now, when so splendid anact of generosity, so unparalleled a deed of Grace as the gift of His own Son is made a subject of undeserved unbelief, ittouches God in a very tender place. I am not using too strong language when I remind you that He whom He gave to us was Hisown Son, very dear to Him, and yet He put Him to grief on our account.
The bloody sweat of Gethsemane and the wounds of Calvary show how greatly God pressed and bruised that matchless cluster-Hisown Son. And, after all that, for you to say "No, I do not believe in Jesus. I will not have His Atonement and I will nottrust in Him," is cruel of you, Sinner! It is cruel of you to the last degree! To stand at Calvary's Cross and see Him bleed,whose unspeakable beauties might put the very sun to blush for the dimness of His light-to see Him die for His enemies andto hear Him say, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and then to turn your backon Him? This is the direst proof of the depravity of human nature that ever was presented under Heaven!
All the iniquities and transgressions that are committed by men. All the crimes that have ever stained humanity do not equal,in extent of enmity to God, the hatred that lurks in the resolve sooner to be damned than owe salvation to the Free Graceof God! He hates God, indeed, who hates Him so much that he will even dwell forever in Hell sooner than be forgiven by Himand saved through the blood of His Son! Man shows his deadly enmity against God to the fullest extent when he will destroyhimself to indulge it! I think I hear one say, "I would believe if I felt something in my heart." You will never feel thatsomething! You are required to believe on the witness of God-and will you dare to say that His evidence is not sufficient?
If you will believe on the Divine testimony you shall have the witness within, by-and-by, but you cannot have that first.The demand of the Gospel is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and believe upon God's testimony." What more testimony do youneed? God has given it to you in many forms. By holy men who have gone before, as I have told you. By His Inspired Bible.By the various works of His Spirit. And by the water and the blood in the Church all around you. Above all, Jesus Himselfis the best of witnesses. Believe Him. "But I wish I could have a very striking dream-perhaps that would convert me." Wouldyou put more confidence in a dream than in God's Word? "O, but I hear of persons who have received revelations from the Spiritof God."
Do not tell me about the Spirit of God speaking to anybody more than is in the Bible! What is in the Scriptures the Spiritof God will apply to the heart. But if you need the Spirit of God to speak to you over and above that, you will never haveit! You have Moses and the Prophets-hear them-and if you do not, neither will you be converted though one rose from the dead!But nobody will rise from the dead. You have, upon the strength of the Divine testimony, to trust your soul in the hands ofJesus-and if you do so you shall be saved. May the Holy Spirit lead you to do so at this very moment.
"That is an easy matter," says one. I know it is, and that is why it is so hard. If it were a hard thing, you would do it,or try to do it. But because it is so easy, your pride will not come down to it unless my Master moves you to consent. Itis simply, "wash and be clean." "Believe and live, trust and find it true." Ah, may the Lord grant that this simple mattermay be clear to you-that you may accept it eagerly, lay hold upon it earnestly-and then, having believed, you shall have thewitness in yourself which will prove it to be true.
"Doctor," you say, "will your medicine heal me?" "Yes," he says. "But doctor," you say, "I cannot believe till I have thewitness in myself that it will make me well." "But," he says, "you won't be able to take my medicine on those terms becauseyou cannot have that witness till you have taken it! Will you have it on my witness that I have prescribed this in many similarcases and I know, from what I understand of the anatomy of the body, that the drugs suit your disease and will remove it.""No, doctor," says the man, "I must feel better before I can have confidence in you." "What? Feel the power of the medicinebefore you take it?" "Yes." "Then your demand is preposterous. You must surely be weak in your
Moved by this reproof, you take the medicine. He comes the next day and you feel relieved front the pain. A new tone is givento your system and you cheerfully exclaim, "Now, doctor, I have the witness in myself." But, if you had been
foolish enough to insist and not take the medicine till you had proved it-and yet you could not prove it till you took it-youwould have behaved like an idiot! And the man who will not take God at His Word, but needs something else besides the Lord'switness, not only insults God, but plays the part of an insane suicide and deserves to perish! God give you Grace to acceptthe Gospel! Then you shall have the witness in yourself and He shall have the praise, and you shall have the comfort.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-1 John 5. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-531, 486.