Sermon 1301. A Prince and a Savior
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 25, 1876,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Him has God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness ofsins." Acts 5:31.
THE same fact appears very differently to different people. Our Lord Jesus, having risen from the dead, was exalted with theright hand of God. To the Jewish priests and rulers this was a dreadful announcement. They could not endure to hear that Jesus,whom they slew and hanged on a tree, was yet alive. As the murderer is startled at the apparition of the ghost of the manhe has slain, so were these rulers altogether dismayed at the idea that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had nailed to the Cross,was risen from the grave. And they were astounded at the very thought that He, whom they had put to death with all the shamethat they could devise, was with the full might and majesty of God exalted to the highest heavens. They were cut to the heartby the announcement as though a sword had cut them in two, dividing their very bones. Full of indignation, they consultedhow they could compass the death of those who had brought such evil tidings to their ears.
The fact had a very different effect upon the Apostles. They were the friends of Jesus and witnesses to His majesty. And whenthey were certain that, though they had seen Him laid in the grave, He had risen and had ascended, and was now sitting atthe right hand of God, even the Father, it filled them with the greatest boldness and consolation! They might well speak insuch a name, for it was assuredly Divine! He who had conquered death and opened the gates of Heaven must be able to take careof His own followers and, therefore, with delight and courage, they bearded His enemies in their dens! There was no need fortrembling-who could harm them? They blushed not-there was nothing to blush at, for it was a triumphant cause! They fearednot-there was nothing to fear, for the name high over all in Heaven, earth and Hell would surely protect them from all peril!What was to the rulers a source of dismay was to the Apostles a cause of courage!
Let now enquire of you all how this fact of the exaltation of Christ impresses you? What do you think of Christ? As time wouldfail me to press this enquiry upon all classes in this assembly, I shall confine myself to those who have not yet found peacewith God-and shall set the Ascended One before them that in Him they may find salvation! That is to be my subject-I want,this morning, to discover seekers! And by the help of God's Holy Spirit I want to encourage them, to direct them and, if possible,may this be the last morning in which they shall be called seekers and the first day in which they shall be finders! And maythey, this day, know how sweet Christ is to those who find Him and how inestimably precious His salvation is to those whoreceive it by faith in Him!
I should be very glad, this morning, if we could get down to business, for a great deal of hearing is not earnest hearing,but mere playing at hearing. Too many of you have ears to hear and yet do not truly hear. The Word of God reaches the outwardear and goes no further because you do not listen heartily and with earnestness. Thousands of hearers are like spectatorsat a banquet who come into the gallery and look down upon the guests who are feasting below-but they never taste a morsel,themselves. For them there are no dainties for actual tasting! They look at the oxen and the fatlings. They see the enjoymentof the feasters. Sometimes they even feel their own mouths watering for the good things and they almost envy those who arebanqueting. But they do not seek a place at the loaded tables for themselves-they remain lookers-on.
I pray this morning, and may God hear the desire of my soul, that you may all become partakers of the exceeding Grace of Godin Christ Jesus at this moment! May you who have fed, feed again as you see the feast prepared in Christ! And may you whohave never ventured to "taste and see that the Lord is good," approach the provisions of love this morning and be fed withbread to the fullest! I want to see an end of mere wishes and desires! I want to rejoice over the
commencement of actual faith and realized salvation! Let's get down to business and let us have no more talk or delay! I longto see you saved and saved at once, or perhaps you may never be saved at all!
Seeker, you know right well that if you are ever to be saved your salvation lies in Jesus Christ. "There is none other namegiven under Heaven whereby we must be saved." And you know that it is so! The point is to obtain the salvation which is inthat name and so to lay hold of Christ, that what is stored in Him may become your own! May the Spirit of God bless you, now,so that while we speak to our text you may be led by it to actual salvation in Christ Jesus!
I. First, then, let me invite you to NOTE HIS TITLES and learn their meaning. He is called, "a Prince and a Savior." You mustknow the Savior or you cannot be saved. It is important to you to understand the Nature and Character of Him whom the lordhas set forth to be the only salvation of guilty men. The Lord Jesus is here described to you under two instructive nameswhich comprehend within themselves the moat of His offices and relationships. Consider him now with deep attention.
He is called a Prince first. This tells you that He is receiving honor at this time as the reward of His sufferings on earth.While He was here below, He was treated by His rebellious subjects as if He had been a felon. What a mass of presents thePrince of Wales has brought home from his foreign travels! But when the Prince of Glory visited His dominions here below whatdid He take home with Him except His wounds? "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." The shame and the rejectionare now ended, and in Glory, yonder, our Lord Jesus is manifestly a Prince- reverenced, obeyed, and honored! Every angel inHeaven delights to sing, "You are the King of Glory, O Christ!"
The highest powers and potentates of the spiritual kingdom bow before Him and hail Him-joyfully hail Him-as Lord over all,blessed forever! His dominion extends over all creation. All things are put under His feet. He is the Prince of the kingsof the earth, yes, He is Lord of All! Think of Him, then, O seeking Sinner, in this honorable estate! Let your mind conceiveof Christ as worthy of all the homage and reverence that you can ever pay to Him! Do not approach Him without serious thoughtand careful reverence, for though He is condescending and gentle, yet is He a Prince to whom honor and obeisance must be paid!
The title of "Prince," in our Lord's case, signifies not only honor, but actual power. His is no nominal princedom- He hasboth glory and strength! Unto Him is given the mediatorial kingdom which includes all power in Heaven and in earth, so thatHe is well styled, "the Blessed and only Potentate."-
"His hands the wheels of Nature guide With an unerring skill, And countless worlds, extended wide, Obey His sovereign will."
Was it not said of old, "The government shall be upon His shoulders and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, TheMighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"? He is the Prince of the house of David! He opens and no man shuts.He shuts and no man opens. There is no boundary to the power of Christ! If you seek His salvation, think of Him as Almightyand remember that His power is now employed for the salvation of those who trust in Him.
He is exalted on high to be a Prince that He may give repentance and forgiveness of sins-so that the power which you see inHim is available for your salvation! Is not this encouraging? Does not this remove those fears which are suggested by yourown feebleness? I desire that you may be led by the power of the Holy Spirit to conceive of our glorified Lord with the reverencewhich His honor deserves and with the confidence which His power should command. Remember, too, that a Prince signifies onewho has dominion. And if Christ is to be yours, today, you must let Him have dominion over you. "He must reign."
He claims to be Master and Lord to those who ask salvation at His hands-and is not the claim a just one? Whom should we servebut the Lord who became a servant for our sakes? It must be so, or salvation is impossible! Those who serve sin are not saved,nor can they be unless by being brought to serve the Christ of God-
"This know, nor of the terms complain. Where Jesus comes, He comes to reign. To reign, and with no partial stray. Lusts mustbe slain that disobey. " You must accept Jesus to be Leader and Commander to you or you cannot win the battle of life! Youmust yield Him loving obedience, or He will not be married to your souls. His dominion is sweetly tempered by love, so that,as the Prophet
writes, "You shall call Me no more Baali," that is, "My Lord," with a hardness of rulership, but Ishi, "My Lord," becauseyou are My man, My husband.
Even so Jesus is our Head and Lord, but His rule is that of supreme affection. There must be obedience to Jesus if there isfaith in Him, for true faith works by love. Will you render it? Thus, Christ Jesus our Prince is crowned with honor and clothedwith power-and He rightly claims and exercises dominion. I pray, dear Hearer, that you may pay homage before Him at once asyour Prince. The other title of the text is, a "Savior," and this name, it seems to me, should be very delightful to everyseeking soul. Struggling into light and prizing every ray of hope, it must be sweet to you to know that the Son of God isstill a Savior, though manifestly a Prince!
Observe here the perseverance of the Lord's love. He was a Savior here below. He is a Savior now that He has reached His Throne.We read of Him while on earth, "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." And now that He has gone,we still hear concerning Him, "He is able, therefore, to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He everlives to make intercession for them." He has not paused in His blessed work of love! "He is the Savior of the body." SaviorHe was when He wore the garment without seam and traversed the weary leagues of Palestine. Savior He is now that He is girtabout with a golden belt and sits upon the Throne! And Savior He shall be in His Second Advent, for which we look, even theglorious appearing of our God and Savior!
Savior He was when He wept over Jerusalem. Savior He is, still, though His eyes are like a flame of fire. And Savior shallHe be to His own redeemed when, before His glance, this earth shall flee away. Look up to Him under that aspect, O you whoseek Him! Remember that our exalted Lord is a Savior in virtue of the prevalence of the work which He achieved while herebelow. When He dwelt here among men, He was able to save, but His salvation was not complete, for He had not yet said, "Itis finished." Now His redeeming work is done and saving is a simple matter to Him. Never did He so well deserve the name ofSavior as when He climbed to His Throne.
The ransom price has all been paid and now, O Jesus, You are Savior, indeed! The head of the serpent has been broken beneathYour heel-You are Savior, indeed! The gates of the grave have been burst, the sepulcher is bereaved of its prey and the Resurrectionis brought to light-You are, from now on, a Savior to the uttermost, O Jesus! "By Your agony and bloody sweat, by Your Crossand passion, by Your precious death and burial," you have finished salvation and now our spirits stall rejoice in God ourSavior! I pray that you who seek Him may have Grace, this morning, to see Him in the light of a Savior, as still pursuingthe work of saving souls, but yet pursuing it only to apply the Atonement which His death completed. Look at him, O you endsof the earth, as the Savior, for such He is, and there is none else!
If He is a Savior, remember, this shows to trembling hearts how approachable He is. You might be abashed at coming to a Prince,but you may be encouraged in coming to a Savior! O you that would be rid of your sin, do you fear the Prince? Well may you,for He can punish you! But fear not, for the Savior will forgive you! Diseased with sin, do you think yourself unworthy ofHis princely Presence? Yet He is Physician as well as Prince-therefore come where the glance of His eye, or the touch of Hishand will make you perfectly whole!
I wish I knew how to put my Lord before you in the best of words and describe Him so sweetly that you would all fall in lovewith Him, but, indeed, I believe Him to be so beautiful that if I can only convey to you the faintest idea of Him you mustbe enamored of Him, if you love that which is good and fair! While I am describing Him I feel I do but put a mist about Him.But, He is the sun and He can break through my cloudy language and cause your hearts to see Him in all His glory. "A Princeand a Savior." Suppose I put the words together and say, a Prince-Savior-One who is lordly and kingly in the salvation whichHe brings? He deals out no stinted Grace, but makes us to receive of His fullness, Grace for Grace.
Turn the titles the other way and reverse the order, and truly He is a Savior-Prince whose Glory it is to save, whose kingdomand power and dominion are all turned in full force to achieve the work of rescuing His people from destruction. "A Princeand a Savior." This is the Christ to whom you must come, O you who would be delivered from your sins. Look to Him and live!
II. APPROACH HIM, THEN, UNDER THESE TWO CHARACTERS. I would come to very close quarters with you who are seeking the Lord,while I urge you to approach Jesus Christ as a Prince. "And how shall we do that?" you ask. I answer, come to Him at oncewith the sorrowful confession of your past rebellion. You have lived, I do not know how many years, you unconverted ones,without paying due homage to Jesus! You have known about Him, but you have
not obeyed Him. Up to this moment you have resisted His love and said, "Let us break His bands asunder and cast His cordsfrom us." Confess this and be ashamed, for it is a great disgrace not to be swayed by such love as that of Christ!
It is a great sin not to be in love with such an One as that which shines in the Person of the Son of God! It shows moralhardness of heart and bluntness of perception. It shows prejudice of soul and ignorance of mind not to be, at once, the willingsubject of Christ. These many years you have said, "I will not have this Man to reign over me." Oh, may the gentle Spiritcause you, now, to see the folly and the sin of this conduct! And may you confess it with tearful eyes while you obey thebidding of the old Psalm and, "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry."
When you have confessed the past before this Prince, then I charge you accept His great purpose and submit to His rule. Heis a Prince, therefore yield yourself to be His subject. Do you know what the objective of His rule is? It is to make youlove God and to be like God! You are created and, therefore, launched upon the sea of existence! You cannot help this factor alter it-your existence has been given you and you cannot lose it! How can this creation of yours be an eternal blessingand the danger be removed of its becoming a never-ending curse? The answer is simple-if you are right with your Creator, youare right with everything! If you are reconciled to Him, you will be happy in time and in eternity!
But you cannot be right with your Creator until past guilt is forgiven and sin is given up-and the love of wrongdoing, thelove of everything that is contrary to His pure and holy mind-is destroyed in you. Now, Jesus comes in order that He may killin you everything that is contrary to the mind of God. He comes to make you holy, yes, to make you perfect! Will you yieldyourself to His gentle purpose? Are you ready to obey His precepts by means of which His Spirit will sanctify you wholly-spirit,soul and body? He is able to save from sin! His name is Jesus, "for He shall save His people from their sins."
Do you really wish to be saved from sin? Jesus once asked a sick man, "Will you be made whole?" It is the question which Heasks of you today, dear Friend. You would be glad to be saved from going to Hell. Yes, but that is not it. Do you desire tobe saved from that which created Hell, from that which is the fuel of the unquenchable fire and the tooth of the undying worm-namely,the love of iniquity, the love of sin? Christ can save from sin, as a Savior, and lead you into the Kingdom of Righteousnessof which He is the Prince. Are you willing that He should do so? If it is taken for granted that you have approached the LordJesus in this way, I would next say, as He is a Prince, surrender everything to Him. Christ claims of you that if you aresaved, since it is through His redemption, you should, from now on, be His. If He has redeemed you, then you belong to Him-fromnow on you are not your own-you are bought with a price.
It is an inevitable consequence of being redeemed from death and Hell by Jesus' blood that you should be Christ's forever.Oh, can you lift your eyes to Heaven and say, "If He will have me, I will cheerfully be His"? Can you make over now, thismorning, by the help of God's Spirit, your body and your soul as a living sacrifice? Can you give to Him, now, all that youowe and all that you have? Could you stand at the foot of the Cross and say-
"And if I might make some reverse, And duty did not call, I love my God with zeal so great, That I would give Him all"?
He asks it of you. Will you do it, O seeking Soul, will you do it? For if that is done, surely, then, Christ is to you a Princeand a Savior! And if this is accomplished and He is Lord, then pay your loving, loyal homage to your Prince. Behold Him inHis Glory, where all the angels cast their crowns before Him while the elders adore Him with vials full of sweet odors!
If Christ is to be your Savior, He must be your Prince, and you must have a loyal attachment to Him, deep and true. Is thisa hard thing to ask of you? I think it is the joy of my life to be the subject and the servant of King Jesus! The name ofthe Queen stirs the British soldier's heart and oftentimes, in the hour of battle, he has thought of his Sovereign and hiscountry, and has been willing to lay down his life. But the love of Jesus is a more intense passion, by far, and the loyaltyof a good soldier to Jesus Christ is a stronger force than any loyalty to earthly princes! You must have this! Do you seehow right it is that you should have it? Towards such an one as Jesus we are proud to cherish a love which many waters cannotquench! A love stronger than death! Approach Him, then, with loving hearts, or at least bring your hearts and ask to havethem made loving.
You must also approach the Lord Jesus as Savior. Do not proudly murmur at this. I have known some who have been willing totake Christ for their example and as their teacher-and so far they have acknowledged Him as a Prince-but they cannot standit that they should confess their need of a Savior! But you must have Jesus as a Savior, as well as a
Prince, or you will be lost forever! I do now affectionately urge the sinner who is seeking mercy to come to Christ Jesus,confessing that he needs a Savior. Look at your sin and consider your past life with all its transgressions. Are you not ashamedof it? Are you not afraid to stand before that Judgment Seat where you must give an account for every idle word that you havespoken?
Does not conscience fill you with trembling? Well, come and tell the Savior! Tell Him all! Pour out your heart before Him!Acknowledge that you are undone and condemned unless He can, in His pity, obtain a pardon for you. Are you actually doingso, now? Let us get down to business, as I have said before! Make the confession, now, from your heart while we are yet speaking.That done, since Christ is a Savior, believe that He is able to save you. Seeing He died the bitter death of the Cross, sufferingfrom Divine Justice in a most terrible manner upon Calvary, there must be, in those five wounds, power enough to be the deathof every sin! O crimson blood, you must have merit enough in you to wash out crimson sin! It must be so! He who died uponthe Cross is God as well as perfect Man and a Sacrifice offered by Him must have infinite power and efficacy to remove sin.
Believe this, also, and when you have believed it, then understand that you must submit yourself entirely to His processesof salvation. He is able to save you, but He has a way of His own and He will not save you in your way, but only in His way!And His way of saving you is to make you feel the smart and bitterness of sin, to make you hate that sin, loathe it and toturn you from it forever! Thus He saves you-are you willing to have it so? Can you say, "Farewell," this morning, to the sinsyou have loved so long? Is there any attraction to you, yet, in the harlots and the riotous with whom you have spent yourFather's substance? Have you still a lingering love to the far country, or can you bid its citizens a long farewell?
Do the swine attract you? Have you a hankering after the husks which they eat, so that you can refuse to go to Christ whenHe would take you away from these filthy pleasures and degrading delights? Can you say, "I cannot linger longer here. It isSodom and the fire will soon descend from Heaven! I must flee for my life and look not behind me. I must and will do so, forJesus takes me by the hand and leads me on"? If you have sincerely done this and you are willing to have a divorce from yoursins-all and thoroughly-from table, bed, hearth and in all ways so that sin and you shall no more be on loving terms, then,I say, if you are willing for this, all you have now to do is to trust your Savior! Lean all your weight on Him! Repose yourwhole self on Him!
You see your need of Him. You see His power to save you and you know what is meant by being saved, namely, delivered fromthe power of sin-will you now trust Him to make you pure? If you do, you have come to Him as a Prince and a Savior, and Hehas said, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out," and He will not, cannot cast you out! This approach to the LordJesus should be made at this moment, where you now are! There is no need to go elsewhere, or tarry for an hour. While yetyou are here, God's Holy Spirit can enable you to come to Christ as your Prince and your Savior. I am putting the Truth ofGod very plainly. I have scarcely used one figure of speech or a single ornament of language. I have tried to tell you theway of salvation very plainly. And having told you, I can do no more but earnestly ask you-will you have this Prince and Savior,or not? May the Spirit of God persuade you to give the right reply! ' III. In the third place, NOTE THE GIFTS OF THE LORDJESUS. He is "exalted with God's right hand to give repentance and forgiveness of sins." Now if, dear Hearer, you are distressed,this morning, beneath the burden of sin, I pray you to catch at this blessed sentence, for there is honey here which shalltake away the bitterness of your soul! I think I heard you say, "Gladly would I have Christ as Prince and Savior! I am willingenough, but this hard heart, this rebellious will-what can I do with them?" Listen-"He is exalted to give repentance." Thisdoes not mean, as some have said, to give space for repentance. We must not add words to Scripture!
Nor does it mean to make repentance acceptable. Look at the text and no trace of such a meaning is there. But, "to give repentance,"and repentance, itself, is intended, which is as much the gift of the ascended Savior as the forgiveness which follows uponit! What is repentance? If we keep to its literal meaning it is a change of mind, but then it is a very wonderful change ofmind! He can give you to change your mind about all the past so that the things which pleased you shall grieve you! That whichcharmed you shall disgust you! That which you do love you shall hate and that which you do desire you shall abhor. This isHis gift to His chosen-"I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh and I will give them a heart of flesh; a new heart,also, will I give them, and a right spirit will I put within them."
What a marvelous thing this change of mind as to the past is! He can also change your mind as to the present and the future,so that, instead of looking for present pleasure, you will find your delight in future Glory realized by faith! Do you understandme? It shall be pleasure enough to you to think of the pleasures at God's right hand forevermore! Jesus can save you fromliving like the beast which looks not an hour ahead, but is content with the pasture around it-and will even walk into theslaughterhouse to be slain-so little does it know what is reserved for it! Jesus can save you from being so brutish and makeyou look into the eternal future with the eyes of a wise man!
He can give you a good hope and inspire you with a good objective worthy of the eternity which lies before you. Christ cangive such a change of mind as shall make the whole world seem new-and yourself most changed of all! Repentance includes amost necessary sense of sin and the Savior can give you this, by His Spirit. He can fill your soul with the barbed arrowsof conviction till your heart bleeds with inward grief on account of sin, or He can work more gently and make you repent bymelting you beneath the smiles of His love. He can make you sing-
"Your mercy is more than a match for my heart, Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart. Dissolved by Your goodness,I fall to the ground And weep to the praise of the mercy I've found." He can work in you desires after holiness and hatredof every false way. He can take the guile out of your soul as well as the guilt out of your life. He can give you to be trueand upright before Him and cleansed in the inward parts. Everything that is included in "repentance," Jesus Christ is exaltedto give.
Now, if no one obtains repentance, then Christ is exalted in vain-but somebody must have it, for Christ is not exalted invain! Why, then, should YOU not have it? You need it! Your heart seems hard as granite and cold as a block of ice. Well, ifyou need it, why should you not have it? To whom does a man give his alms but to the needy? Do not the wise distribute theirgifts to those who need them? If you need them, come and freely take them! Repentance will not spring out of your unrenewedheart, but the Prince and Savior can create it in you! Come to Him for it-
"True belief and true repentance, Every Grace that brings You nigh, Without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy."
Here I preach Christ not merely to penitent sinners, but to impenitent sinners! O rock, be smashed with this rod! The Crosscan fetch the waters of repentance out of stony hearts! O hard heart, be melted with this sacred fire! The fire of Jesus'love can dissolve the northern iron and steel of obdurate impenitence! He is exalted on high to give repentance! Therefore,O Sinners, look to Him for repentance!
It is added as His second gift, "to give forgiveness.'" And the forgiveness which Jesus gives is very blessed. I pray you,seeking Soul, pay attention to each word I now say on this point. He can pass an act of amnesty and oblivion for all yoursins. If He forgives you, all your transgressions shall be as though they had never been! He will make clean work of it, blottingout every record of your sin so that in God's book there shall be no grieving memory of your having been a sinner at all!So powerful is the atoning blood that all manner of sin and transgression shall be forgiven unto men for its sake. Sins againsta holy God, sins against Christ's love and blood, sins against conscience, sins against the Law, sins against the Gospel,sins which have lain in your bones from your youth up, sins of your middle age, sins of your old age, aggravated sins, blacksins, damnable sins-all are gone when He says, "I have blotted out your sins like a cloud, and as a thick cloud your transgressions."Jesus has gone to Heaven on purpose to give this complete forgiveness!
Now mark, when full forgiveness comes, it brings with it the eternal removal of the penalty! The forgiven man cannot be punished!For him there is no Hell, no worm that dies not, nor fire that never can be quenched. God cannot forgive and then punish!If He removes your transgressions from you as far as the east is from the west, then who is he that shall lay anything toyour charge? Who is he that can condemn? And who is he that can punish you? With the pardon of sin, there shall come, also,a restoration of every privilege. All that Adam had in the Garden you shall have to be yours- not all of it to enjoy justnow-but all and more than all shall be restored to you, for the man who wears the righteousness of Christ and is acceptedin the Beloved may not have a Paradise on earth, but he has a Paradise above! For him there may be no golden apples of Eden,but there shall be the fruit of the Tree of Life, of which he shall eat forever and ever-
"What Adam had, and forfeited for us all, Christ has, who cannot fail nor fall." He that believes on Christ Jesus shall dwellin bliss and be satisfied with the goodness of the Lord!
And mark you, once again, you shall, when forgiven, have quiet in your soul, for when you are pardoned, all the hurly-burlyof your spirit shall turn into a deep calm. You shall have the "peace of God which passes all understanding" to "keep yourheart and mind by Christ Jesus." "Oh," says one, "I would give my eyes for it!" You shall have it without giving your eyes!Give your heart-no, and not even give your heart as a price for it-take the blessing freely, for freely it is given! Jesusis exalted on high that He may grant free pardons to great offenders! I come back to that statement-if Jesus is exalted onpurpose to give pardon, then if He does not give forgiveness to someone, He is exalted in vain! He MUST, therefore, give itto some-why should He not bestow it upon you?
The text says, "to give repentance to Israel." Who and what was Israel? The people of Israel, in our Lord's time, were surelythe very worst of sinners, for it was by them that the Lord was nailed to the Cross! It was the Jews who cried, "Crucify Him!Crucify Him!" It means, then, that Jesus is exalted to give repentance and pardon to the chief of sinners, and if I am one,if, instead of blaming Jews or the Romans, I blame myself! if I take the death of Christ on my own shoulders and say-
"Twas you my sins, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were! Each of my crimes became a nail, And unbelief the spear,"
then He is exalted to give me repentance and remission for my great sins! Do I need to ask you, will you have these two
Ah, Friends, it shows how deep is the depravity of the human heart that we should have need to press our Master's mercieson you. If sin were not a madness, it would only need the preacher to come and tell about this blessed Gospel and you wouldbegin to sing, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes salvation, thatsaid unto Zion, Your God reigns as a Prince and a Savior in Heaven." Instead, however, of offering my Lord a joyful reception,some of you will count it a weariness to be entreated and pleaded with. I feel in my own soul that though my Master enablesme to put these things before you, you will not receive them unless His love forces you. We can bring the horse to the water,but we cannot make it drink. And we can bring Christ before you, but we cannot make you accept Him.
I pray that there may be some soft relenting, some gentle melting of your spirit this very morning, for ,"unto you is theword of this salvation sent." My dear Hearer, I may never have addressed you before. Happy shall I be if at the very firstassault I win your soul for my Master! Or perhaps I have spoken with you many, many times and my voice is getting rather staleand flat to you. Well, I am sorry if I mar the message, but still it is so good that, though I stammered it, you ought, still,to catch at it and say, "Yes, if He is exalted to give repentance and pardon, here is my bosom, Lord! Pour them both intomy soul at this good hour."
IV. As I said to you about the titles, approach the Lord Jesus as such, so now I say about His gifts-ASK HIM FOR THEM. Asknow, at this moment! Again, I say I want you to get down to business and be doing as well as listening. While I am speaking,may the Holy Spirit incline your hearts to practical obedience! At this moment ask the Lord Jesus humbly for repentance andpardon. You do not deserve these gifts-if He leaves you to perish He will be just. He will have mercy on whom He will havemercy, and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion.
You have no claim to His love and must not set up any! Your heart is hard and He can leave you in your unbelief. You are guiltyand He can justly leave you to bear your punishment. Ask humbly, therefore, not daring to claim anything, but appealing toHis Sovereign Grace. Say-
"O save a guilty sinner, Lord, Whose hope still hovering round Your Word Would light on some sweet promise there, Some suresupport against despair."
Ask importunately. Do not come to Mercy's gate, this morning, with a cold heart and unwilling spirit. Come with this resolve,"I will not leave the Cross till my sins have left me. I will plead for the Grace of God until I obtain it. With importunitywill I wrestle saying-
'Lord, I cannot let You go Till a blessing You bestow.'"
The Angel is near this morning! Seize Him! Grasp Him! And if He seem to fling you off, hold to Him, still, and say, "I willnot let You go except you bless me, and bless me now!" You will get the blessing if you can pray like that! Pray with deephumility, because you are unworthy, but with violent importunity because you are in such fearful peril and you cannot endureto be lost!
But I ask you to pray believingly and this is, indeed, the heart of the matter. Ask for remission and repentance, this morning,believing that Christ can give it and believing that He is as willing as He is able. If you can look up and see those deareyes which wept over sinners. If you can see those wounds, still open for sinners like so many gates of Heaven, you will perceivethat Jesus still calls to you and bids you trust Him! Do not think Him unwilling to forgive. That would be too cruel a suspicionafter He has died! Trust Him wholly, only, sincerely, solely! Have done with those works and prayers and tears which you havebeen known to rely upon! All that you ever did to save yourself must be undone! Nature's spinning must all be unraveled-herfig leaves will wither-sin's nakedness requires a better covering. Your only hope lies in Him who is Prince and Savior. Cryat once to Him-
"A guilty weak, and helpless worm,
On Your kind arms I fall;
You are my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my All."
And-and this is the last word-ask now! Do not put me off this morning! I am in earnest, even if you are not! But oh, it isyour soul, not mine, that is now at stake! I pray you be in earnest, O Man, and be so now! Perhaps you will never hear anotherplea! It may be this is the last Sabbath you will spend on earth! Where will you be if you reject the Savior? Where the Sabbathbell shall never ring out its happy summons! Where the silver voice of Mercy shall never again salute you! There is anotherworld-you will not die like a dog! There is a judgment to come and you will have to stand before your Maker to give an accountof all your life!
There is an everlasting punishment as surely as there is an eternal reward. Now I ask you, and I charge you, to go no furthertill you have answered this question-Is it worth while to lose your soul for whatever you can gain by it? The Romans, whenthey meant to bring things to an issue with an Oriental tyrant, sent their Ambassador. And the Ambassador was to bring hisanswer back-yes or no, war or peace. What do you think the Ambassador did? When he saw the king, he stooped down and withhis wand he drew a ring upon the ground round the monarch. And then he said, "Step outside that ring, and it means war withRome. Before you leave that circle you must accept our terms of peace, or know that Rome will use her utmost force to fightwith you."
I draw a ring round you while you are sitting in that pew, or standing in that aisle, and I demand an answer! Sinner, willyou now be saved or not? Today is the accepted time! Today is the day of salvation! O Holy Spirit, lead the sinner to nowask and he shall receive! To believe, and he shall be saved. Amen and Amen!
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Acts 5:17-42. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-304, 569, 332.