Sermon 1516. Salvation by Knowing the Truth
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
'God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.'1 Timothy 2:3, 4.
MAY GOD THE HOLY GHOST guide our meditations to the best practical result this evening, that sinners may be saved and saintsstirred up to diligence. I do not intend to treat my text controversially. It is like the stone which makes the corner ofa building, and it looks towards a different side of the gospel from that which is mostly before us. Two sides of the buildingof truth meet here. In many a village there is a corner where the idle and the quarrelsome gathertogether; and theology has such corners. It would be very easy indeed to set ourselves in battle array, and during thenext half-hour to carry on a very fierce attack against those who differ from us in opinion upon points which could be raisedfrom this text. I do not see that any good would come of it, and, as we have very little time to spare, and life is short,we had better spend it upon something that may better tend to our edification. May the good Spirit preserve us from a contentiousspirit, and help us really to profit by his word.
It is quite certain that when we read that God will have all men to be saved it does not mean that he wills it with the forceof a decree or a divine purpose, for, if he did, then all men would be saved. He willed to make the world, and the world wasmade: he does not so will the salvation of all men, for we know that all men will not be saved. Terrible as the truth is,yet is it certain from holy writ that there are men who, in consequence of their sin and their rejectionof the Savior, will go away into everlasting punishment, where shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Therewill at the last be goats upon the left hand as well as sheep on the right, tares to be burned as well as wheat to be garnered,chaff to be blown away as well as corn to be preserved. There will be a dreadful hell as well as a glorious heaven, and thereis no decree to the contrary.
What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most ofyou, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. 'All men,' say they,'thatis, some men': as if the Holy Ghost could not have said 'some men' if he had meant some men. 'All men,' say they; 'that is,some of all sorts of men': as if the Lord could not have said 'all sorts of men' if he had meantthat. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written 'all men,' and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get ridof the force of the 'alls' according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how itcan be applied here with due regard to truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains thetext so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thoughtwhen I readhis exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, 'Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth.' Had such been the inspired language every remark of thelearned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, 'Who will have all men to be saved,' his observations are more than a little out of place. My love of consistency with my own doctrinalviews is not great enough to allow meknowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration isfar greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the wordof God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself; for who am I that I should everlastinglybe consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away abough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape,even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, 'God our Savior; who will haveall men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.'
Does not the text mean that it is the wish of God that men should be saved? The word 'wish' gives as much force to the originalas it really requires, and the passage should run thus'whose wish it is that all men should be saved and come to a knowledgeof the truth.' As it is my wish that it should be so, as it is your wish that it might be so, so it is God's wish that all men should be saved; for, assuredly, he is not less benevolent thanwe are. Then comes thequestion, 'But if he wishes it to be so, why does he not make it so? ' Beloved friend, have you never heard that a foolmay ask a question which a wise man cannot answer, and, if that be so, I am sure a wise person, like yourself, can ask mea great many questions which, fool as I am, I am yet not foolish enough to try to answer. Your question is only one form ofthe great debate of all the ages,'If God be infinitely good and powerful, why does not his power carry out to the full allhisbeneficence?' It is God's wish that the oppressed should go free, yet there are many oppressed who are not free. It isGod's wish that the sick should not suffer. Do you doubt it? Is it not your own wish? And yet the Lord does not work a miracleto heal every sick person. It is God's wish that his creatures should be happy. Do you deny that? He does not interpose byany miraculous agency to make us all happy, and yet it would be wicked to suppose that he does not wish the happiness of allthecreatures that he has made. He has an infinite benevolence which, nevertheless, is not in all points worked out by hisinfinite omnipotence; and if anybody asked me why it is not, I cannot tell. I have never set up to be an explainer of alldifficulties, and I have no desire to do so. It is the same old question as that of the negro who said, 'Sare, you say thedevil makes sin in the world.' 'Yes, the devil makes a deal of sin.' 'And you say that God hates sin.' 'Yes.' 'Then why doesnot hekill the devil and put an end to it?' Just so. Why does he not? Ah, my black friend, you will grow white before that questionis answered. I cannot tell you why God permits moral evil, neither can the ablest philosopher on earth, nor the highest angelin heaven.
This is one of those things which we do not need to know. Have you never noticed that some people who are ill and are orderedto take pills are foolish enough to chew them? That is a very nauseous thing to do, though I have done it myself. The rightway to take medicine of such a kind is to swallow it at once. In the same way there are some things in the Word of God whichare undoubtedly true which must be swallowed at once by an effort of faith, and must not be chewed byperpetual questioning. You will soon have I know not what of doubt and difficulty and bitterness upon your soul if youmust needs know the unknowable, and have reasons and explanations for the sublime and the mysterious. Let the difficult doctrinesgo down whole into your very soul, by a grand exercise of confidence in God.
I thank God for a thousand things I cannot understand. When I cannot get to know the reason why, I say to myself, 'Why shouldI know the reason why? Who am I, and what am I, that I should demand explanations of my God?' I am a most unreasonable beingwhen I am most reasonable, and when my judgment is most accurate I dare not trust it. I had rather trust my God. I am a poorsilly child at my very best: my Father must know better than I. An old parable-maker tells us that heshut himself up in his study because he had to work out a difficult problem. His little child came knocking at the door,and he said 'Go away, John: you cannot understand what father is doing; let father alone.' Master Johnny for that very reasonfelt that he must get in and see what father was doing'a true symbol of our proud intellects; we must pry into forbidden things,and uncover that which is concealed. In a little time upon the sill, outside the window, stood Master Johnny, looking inthrough the window at his father; and if his father had not with the very tenderest care just taken him away from thatvery dangerous position, there would have been no Master Johnny left on the face of the earth to exercise his curiosity indangerous elevations. Now, God sometimes shuts the door, and says, 'My child, it is so: be content to believe.' 'But,' wefoolishly cry. 'Lord, why is it so?' 'It is so, my child,' he says. 'But why, Father, is it so?' 'It is so, my child, believeme.' Thenwe go speculating, climbing the ladders of reasoning, guessing, speculating, to reach the lofty windows of eternal truth.Once up there we do not know where we are, our heads reel, and we are in all kinds of uncertainty and spiritual peril. Ifwe mind things too high for us we shall run great risks. I do not intend meddling with such lofty matters. There stands thetext, and I believe that it is my Father's wish that 'all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.' ButI know,also, that he does not will it, so that he will save any one of them, unless they believe in his dear Son; for he hastold us over and over that he will not. He will not save any man except he forsakes his sins, and turns to him with full purposeof heart: that I also know. And I know, also, that he has a people whom he will save, whom by his eternal love he has chosen,and whom by his eternal power he will deliver. I do not know how that squares with this; that is another of the things I donot know. If I go on telling you of all that I do not know, and of all that I do know, I will warrant you that the thingsthat I do not know will be a hundred to one of the things that I do know. And so we will say no more about the matter, butjust go on to the more practical part of the text. God's wish about man's salvation is this,'that men should be saved andcome to the knowledge of the truth.
Men are saved, and the same men that are saved come to a knowledge of the truth. The two things happen together, and the twofacts very much depend upon each other. God's way of saving men is not by leaving them in ignorance. It is by a knowledge of the truth that men are saved; this will make the main body of our discourse, and in closing we shall see how this truth gives instruction to those who wish to be saved, and also to those who desire to save others.May the Holy Spirit make these closing inferences to be practically useful.
Here is our proposition: IT IS BY A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH THAT MEN ARE SAVED.
Observe that stress is laid upon the article: it is the truth, and not every truth. Though it is a good thing to know the truth about anything, and we ought not to be satisfiedto take up with a falsehood upon any point, yet it is not every truth that will save us. We are not saved by knowing any onetheological truth we may choose to think of, for there are some theological truths which are comparatively of inferior value.They are not vital or essential, and a manmay know them, and yet may not be saved. It is the truth which saves. Jesus Christ is the truth: the whole testimony of God about Christ is the truth. The work of the Holy Ghost in the heart is to work in us the truth. The knowledge of the truth is a large knowledge. It is not always so at the first: it may begin with but a littleknowledge, but it is a large knowledge when it is further developed, and the soul is fully instructed in the whole range ofthe truth.
This knowledge of the grand facts which are here called the truth saves men, and we will notice its mode of operation. Veryoften it begins its work in a man by arousing him, and thus it saves him from carelessness. He did not know anything about the truth which God has revealed, and so he lived like a brute beast. If he had enough toeat and to drink he was satisfied. If he laid by a little money he was delighted. So long as the days passed pretty merrily,and hewas free from aches and pains, he was satisfied. He heard about religion, but he thought it did not concern him. He supposedthat there were some people who might be the better for thinking about it, but as far as he was concerned, he thought no moreabout God or godliness than the ox of the stall or the ostrich of the desert. Well, the truth came to him, and he receiveda knowledge of it. He knew only a part, and that a very dark and gloomy part of it, but it stirred him out of hiscarelessness, for he suddenly discovered that he was under the wrath of God. Perhaps he heard a sermon, or read a tract,or had a practical word addressed to him by some Christian friend, and he found out enough to know that 'he that believethnot is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Son of God.' That startled him. 'God is angry with the wickedevery day:'that amazed him. He had not thought of it, perhaps had not known it, but when he did know it, he could rest nolonger.Then he came to a knowledge of this farther truth, that after death there would be a judgment, that he would rise again,and that, being risen, he would have to stand before the judgment-seat of God to give an account of the things which he haddone in the body. This came home very strikingly to him. Perhaps, also, such a text as this flamed forth before him,'For everyidle word that man shall speak he must give an account in the day of judgment.' His mind began to foresee that last tremendousday, when on the clouds of heaven Christ will conic and summon quick and dead, to answer at his judgment-seat for thewhole of their lives. He did not know that before, but, knowing it, it startled and aroused him. I have known men, when firstthey have come to a knowledge of this truth, become unable to sleep. They have started up in the night. They have asked thosewho were with them to help them to pray. The next day they have been scarcely able to mind their business, for a dreadfulsoundhas been in their ears. They feared lest they should stumble into the grave and into hell. Thus they were saved from carelessness.They could not go back to be the mere brute beasts they were before. Their eyes had been opened to futurity and eternity.Their spirits had been quickened'at least so much that they could not rest in that doltish, dull, dead carelessness in whichthey had formerly been found. They were shaken out of their deadly lethargy by a knowledge of the truth.
The truth is useful to a man in another way: it saves him from prejudice. Often when men are awakened to know something about the wrath of God they begin to plunge about to discover divers methodsby which they may escape from that wrath. Consulting, first of all, with themselves, they think that, if they can reform'giveup their grosser sins, and if they can join with religious people, they will make it all right. And there are some who goand listen to a kind ofreligious teacher, who says, 'You must do good works. You must earn a good character. You must add to all this the ceremoniesof our church. You must be particular and precise in receiving blessing only through the appointed channel of the apostolicalsuccession.' Of the aforesaid mystical succession this teacher has the effrontery to assure his dupe that he is a legitimateinstrument; and that sacraments received at his hands are means of grace. Under such untruthful notions we have knownpeople who were somewhat aroused sit down again in a false peace. They have done all that they judged right and attendedto all that they were told. Suddenly, by God's grace, they come to a knowledge of another truth, and that is that by the deedsof the law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God. They discover that salvation is not by works of the lawor by ceremonies, and that if any man he under the law he is also under the curse. Such a text as the following conies home,'Notof blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God'; and such another text as this, 'Ye must beborn again,' and then this at the back of it'that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spiritis spirit.' When they also find out that there is necessary a righteousness better than their own'a perfect righteousnessto justify them before God, and when they discover that they must be made new creatures in Christ Jesus, or else they mustutterlyperish, then they are saved from false confidences, saved from crying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace. It is agrand thing when a knowledge of the truth stops us from trusting in a lie. I am addressing some who remember when they weresaved in that way. What an opening of the eyes it was to you! You had a great prejudice against the gospel of grace and theplan of salvation by faith; but when the Lord took you in hand and made you see your beautiful righteousness to be a moth-eatenmassof rags, and when the gold that you had accumulated suddenly turned into so much brass, cankered, and good for nothing,'whenyou stood stripped naked before God, and the poor cobwebs of ceremonies suddenly dropped from off you, oh, then the Lord wasworking his salvation in your soul, and you were being saved from false confidences by a knowledge of the truth.
Moreover, it often happens that a knowledge of the truth stands a man in good stead for another purpose; it saves him from despair. Unable to be careless, and unable to find comfort in false confidences, some poor agitated minds are driven into a wide andstormy sea without rudder or compass, with nothing but wreck before them. 'There is no hope for me,' says the man. 'I perceiveI cannot save myself. I see that I am lost. I am dead in trespasses and sins, andcannot stir hand or foot. Surely now I may as well go on in sin, and even multiply my transgressions. The gate of mercyis shut against me; what is the use of fear where there is no room for hope?' At such a time, if the Lord leads the man toa knowledge of the truth, he perceives that though his sins be as scarlet they shalt be as wool, and though they be red likecrimson they shall be as white as snow. That precious doctrine of substitution comes in'that Christ stood in the stead ofthesinner, that the transgression of his people was laid upon him, and that God, by thus avenging sin in the person of hisdear Son, and honoring his law by the suffering of the Savior, is now able to declare pardon to the penitent and grace tothe believing. Now, when the soul comes to know that sin is put away by the atoning blood; when the heart discovers that itis not our life that saves us, but the life of God that comes to dwell in us; that we are not to be regenerated by our ownactions,but are regenerated by the Holy Ghost who comes to us through the precious death of Jesus, then despair flies away, andthe soul cries exultingly, 'There is hope. There is hope. Christ died for sinners: why should I not have a part in that preciousdeath? He came like a physician to heal the sick: why should he not heal me? Now I perceive that he does not want my goodness,but my badness; he does not need my righteousness, but my unrighteousness: for he came to save the ungodly and to redeemhis people from their sins. I say, when the heart comes to a knowledge of this truth, then it is saved from despair; andthis is no small part of the salvation of Jesus Christ.
A saving knowledge of the truth, to take another line of things, works in this way. A knowledge of the truth shows a man his personal need of being saved. O you that are not saved, and who dream you do not need to be, you only require to know the truth, and you will perceivethat you must he saved or lost for ever.
A knowledge of the truth reveals the atonement by which we are saved: a knowledge of the truth shows us what that faith is by which the atonement becomes available for us: a knowledge of the truth teaches us that faith is the simple act of trusting, that it is not an action of which man may boast;it is not an action of the nature of a work, so as to he a fruit of the law; but faith is a self-denying grace which findsall its strength in him upon whom itlives, and lays all its honor upon him. Faith is not self in action but self forsaken, self abhorred, self put away thatthe soul may trust in Christ, and trust in Christ alone. There are persons now present who are puzzled about what faith is.We have tried to explain it a great many times to you, hut we have explained it so that you did not understand it any thebetter; and yet the same explanation has savingly instructed others. May God the Holy Ghost open your understandings thatyou maypractically know what faith is, and at once exercise it. I suppose that it is a very hard thing to understand becauseit is so plain. When a man wishes the way of salvation to be difficult he naturally kicks at it because it is easy; and, whenhis pride wants it to be hard to be understood, he is pretty sure to say that he does not understand it because it is so plain.Do not you know that the unlettered often receive Christ when philosophers refuse him, and that he who has not called ninnyofthe great, and many of the mighty, has chosen poor, foolish, and despised things? That is because poor foolish men, youknow, are willing to believe a plain thing, but men wise in their own conceits desire to be, if they can, a little confoundedand puzzled that they may please themselves with the idea that their own superior intellect has made a discovery; and, becausethe way of salvation is just so easy that almost an idiot boy may lay hold of it, therefore they pretend that they do notunderstand it. Some people cannot see a thing because it is too high up; but there are others who cannot see it becauseit is too low down. Now, it so happens that the way of salvation by faith is so simple that it seems beneath the dignity ofexceedingly clever men. May God bring them to a knowledge of this truth: may they see that they cannot be saved except bygiving up all idea of saving themselves; that they cannot be saved except they step right into Christ, for, until they getto the endof the creature, they will never get to the beginning of the Creator. Till they empty out their pockets of every mouldycrust, and have not a crumb left; they cannot come and take the rich mercy which is stored up in Christ Jesus for every empty,needy sinner. May the Lord be pleased to give you that knowledge of the truth!
When a man comes in very deed to a knowledge of the truth about faith in Christ, he trusts Christ, and he is there and thensaved from the guilt of sin; and he begins to be saved altogether from sin. God cuts the root of the power of sin that veryday; hut yet it has such life within itself that at the scent of water it will bud again. Sin in our members struggles tolive. It has as many lives as a cat: there is no killing it. Now, when we conic to a knowledge of thetruth, we begin to learn how sin is to be killed in us'how the same Christ that justifies, sanctifies, and works in usaccording to his working who worketh in us mightily, that we may he conformed to the image of Christ, and made meet to dwellwith perfect saints above. Beloved, many of you that are saved from the guilt of sin, have a very hard struggle with the powerof sin, and have much more conflict, perhaps, than yon need to have, because you have not come to a knowledge of all the truthabout indwelling sin. I therefore beg you to study much the word of God upon that point, and especially to see the adaptationof Christ to rule over your nature, and to conquer all your corrupt desires, and learn how by faith to bring each sin beforehim that, like Agag, it may be hewed in pieces before his eyes. You will never overcome sin except by the blood of the Lamb.There is no sanctification except by faith. The same instrument which destroys sin as to its guilt must slay sin as to itspower. 'They overcame by the blood of the Lamb,' and so must you. Learn this truth well, so shall you find salvation wroughtin you from day to day.
Now, I think I hear somebody say, 'I think I know all about this.' Yes, you may think you know it, and may not know anythingat all about it. ' Oh, but,' says one, 'I do know it. I learned the 'Assembly's Catechism' when I was a child. I have readthe Bible ever since, and I am well acquainted with all the commonplaces of orthodoxy.' That may be, dear friend, and yetyou may not know the truth. I have heard of a man who knew how to swim, but, as he had never been in thewater, I do not think much of his knowledge of swimming: in fact, he did not really know the art. I have heard of a botanistwho understood all about flowers, but as he lived in London, and scarcely ever saw above one poor withered thing in a flowerpot,I do not think much of his botany. I have heard of a man who was a very great astronomer, but he had not a telescope, andI never thought much of his astronomy. So there are many persons who think they know and yet do not know because they havenever had any personal acquaintance with the thing. A mere notional knowledge or a dry doctrinal knowledge is of no avail.We must know the truth in a very different way from that.
How are we to know it, then? Well, we are to know it, first, by a believing knowledge. You do not know a thing unless you believe it to be really so. If you doubt it, you do not know it. If you say, 'I reallyam not sure it is true,' then you cannot say that you know it. That which the Lord has revealed in holy Scripture you mustdevoutly believe to be true. In addition to this, your knowledge, if it becomes believing knowledge, must be personal knowledge'apersuasion that it is true in reference to yourself. It is true about your neighbor, about your brother, but you mustbelieve it about yourself, or your knowledge is vain'for instance, you must know that you are lost'that you are in danger of eternal destruction from the presence of God'that for you there is no hope but in Christ'that for you there is hope if you rest in Christ'that resting in Christ you are saved. Yes, you. You must know thatbecause you have trusted in Christ you are saved, and that now you are free from condemnation, and that now in you the new life has begun, which will fight against the old life of sin, until it overcome, and you, even you, are safely landedon the golden shore. There must be a personal appropriation of what you believe to be true. That is the kind of knowledgewhich saves the soul.
But this must be a powerful knowledge, by which I mean that it must operate in and upon your mind. A man is told that his house is on fire. I will suppose thatstanding here I held up a telegram, and said, 'My friend, is your name so-and-so?' 'Yes.' 'Well, your house is on fire.' He knows the fact, does he not? Yes,but he sits quite still. Now, my impression is about that good brother, that he does not know, for he does not believe it.He cannot believe it,surely he may believe that somebody's house is on fire, but not his own. If it is his house which is burning, and he knowsit, what does he do? Why he gets up and goes off to see what he can do towards saving his goods. That is the kind of knowledgewhich saves the soul'when a man knows the truth about himself, and therefore his whole nature is moved and affected by theknowledge. Do I know that I am in danger of hell fire? And am I in my senses? Then I shall never rest till I have escapedfromthat danger. Do I know that there is salvation for me in Christ? Then I never shall be content until I have obtained thatsalvation by the faith to which that salvation is promised: that is to say, if I really am in my senses, and if my sin hasnot made me beside myself as sin does, for sin works a moral madness upon the mind of man, so that he puts bitter for sweetand sweet for bitter, and dances on the jaws of hell, and sits down and scoffs at Almighty mercy, despises the precious bloodofChrist and will have none of it, although there and there only is his salvation to be found.
This knowledge when it comes really to save the soul is what we call experimental knowledge'knowledge acquired according to the exhortation of the psalmist, 'Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good'acquired by tasting.Now, at this present moment, I, speaking for myself, know that I am origin ally lost by nature. Do I believe it? Believe it?I am as sure of it as I am of my own existence. I know that I am lost by nature. It would not be possible for anybody to makeme doubt that: I have felt it. How many weary days I spent under the pressure of that knowledge! Does a soldier know thatthere is such a thing as a cat when he has had a hundred lashes? It would take a deal of argument to make him believe thereis not such a thing, or that backs do not smart when they feel the lash. Oh, how my soul smarted under the lash of consciencewhen I suffered under a sense of sin! Do I know that I could not save myself? Know it? Why, my poor, struggling heart laboredthis way and that, even as in the very fire with bitter disappointment, for I labored to climb to the stars on a treadwheel,and I was trying and trying and trying with all my might, but never rose an inch higher. I tried to fill a bottomless tubwith leaking buckets, and worked on and toiled and slaved, but never accomplished even the beginning of my unhappy task. Iknow, for I have tried it, that salvation is not in man, or in all the feelings, and weepings, and prayings, and Bible readings,and church goings, and chapel goings which zeal could crowd together. Nothing whatsoever that man does can avail him towardshis own salvation. This I know by sad trial of it, and failure in it.
But I do know that there is real salvation by believing in Christ. Know it? I have never preached to you concerning that subjectwhat I do not know by experience. In a moment, when I believed in Christ I leaped from despair to fullness of delight. SinceI have believed in Jesus I have found myself totally new'changed altogether from what I was; and I find now that, in proportionas I trust in Jesus, I love God and try to serve him; but if at any time I begin to trust inmyself, I forget my God, and I become selfish and sinful. Just as I keep on being nothing and taking Christ to be everything,so am I led in the paths of righteousness. I am merely talking of myself, because a man cannot bear witness about other peopleso thoroughly us he can about himself. I am sure that all of you who have tried my Master can bear the same witness. You havebeen saved, and you have come to a knowledge of the truth experimentally; and every soul here that would be saved mustin the same way believe the truth, appropriate the truth, act upon the truth, and experimentally know the truth, whichis summed up in few words:'Man lost: Christ his Savior. Man nothing: God all in all. The heart depraved: the Spirit workingthe new life by faith.' The Lord grant that these truths may come home to your hearts with power.
I am now going to draw two inferences which are to be practical. The first one is this: in regard TO YOU THAT ARE SEEKINGSALVATION. Does not the text show you that it is very possible that the reason why you have not found salvation is becauseyou do not know the truth? Hence, I do most earnestly entreat the many of you young people who cannot get rest to be verydiligent searchers of your Bibles. The first thing and the main thing is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,but if you say,' I do not understand it,' or 'I cannot believe,' or if there be any such doubt rising in your mind, thenit may be because you have not gained complete knowledge of the truth. It is very possible that somebody will say to you,'Believe, believe, believe.' I would say the same to you, but I should like you to act upon the common-sense principle ofknowing what is to be believed and in whom you are to believe. I explained this to one who came to me a few evenings ago.She saidthat she could not believe. 'Well,' I said, 'now suppose as you sit in that chair I say to you, 'Young friend, I cannotbelieve in you': you would say to me, 'I think you should.' Suppose I then replied, 'I wish I could.' What would you bid medo? Should I sit still and look at you till I said, 'I think I can believe in you'? That would be ridiculous. No, I shouldgo and enquire, 'Who is this young person? What kind of character does she bear? What are her connections?' and when I knewallabout you, then I have no doubt that I should say, 'I have made examination into this young woman's character, and I cannothelp believing in her.' Now, it is just so with Jesus Christ. If you say, 'I cannot believe in him,' read those four blessedtestimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and especially linger much over those parts where they tell you of his death.Do you know that many, while they have been sitting, as it were, at the foot of the cross, viewing the Son of God dying formen, have cried out, 'I cannot help believing. I cannot help believing. When I see my sin, it seems too great; hut whenI see my Savior my iniquity vanishes away.' I think I have put it to you sometimes like this: if you take a ride through London,from end to end, it will take you many days to get an idea of its vastness; for probably none of us know the size of London.After your long ride of inspection you will say,' I wonder how those people can all be fed. I cannot make it out. Where doesall the bread come from, and all the butter, and all the cheese, and all the meat, and everything else? Why, these peoplewill be starved. It is not possible that Lebanon with all its beasts, and the vast plains of Europe and America should eversupply food sufficient for all this multitude.' That is your feeling. And then, to-morrow morning you get up, and you go toCovent Garden, you go to the great meat-markets, and to other sources of supply, and when you come home you say, 'I feel quitedifferent now, for now 1 cannot make out where all the people come from to eat all this provision: I never saw such storeof food in all my life. Why, if there were two Londons, surely there is enough here to feed them.' Just so'when you thinkabout your sins and your wants you get saying, 'How can I be saved?' Now, turn your thoughts the other way; think that Christis the Son of God: think of what the merit must be of the incarnate God's hearing human guilt; and instead of saying, 'Mysin istoo great,' you will almost think the atoning sacrifice too great. Therefore I do urge you to try and know more of Christ;and I am only giving you the advice of Isaiah, 'Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live.' Know,hear, read, and believe more about these precious things, always with this wish'I am not hearing for hearing's sake, and Iam not wishing to know for knowing's sake, but I am wanting to hear and to know that I may be saved.' I want you to be likethewoman that lost her piece of silver. She did not light a candle and then say, 'Bravo, I have lit a candle, this is enough.'She did not take her broom and then sit down content, crying, 'What a splendid broom.' When she raised a dust she did notexclaim, 'What a dust I am making! I am surely making progress now.' Some poor sinners, when they have been seeking, get intoa dust of soul-trouble, and think it to be a comfortable sign. No, I'll warrant you, the woman wanted her groat: she did notmind the broom, or the dust, or the candle; she looked for the silver. So it must be with you. Never content yourselfwith the reading, the hearing, or the feeling. It is Christ you want. It is the precious piece of money that you must find;and you must sweep until you find it. Why, there it is! There is Jesus! Take him! Take him! Believe him now, even now, andyou are saved.
The last inference is for YOU WHO DESIRE TO SAVE SINNERS. You must, dear friends, bring the truth before them when you want to bring them to Jesus Christ. I believe that exciting meetings do good to some. Men are so deadand careless that almost anything is to be tolerated that wakes them up; but for real solid soul-work before God' tellingmen the truth is the main thing. What truth? It is gospel truth, truth about Christ that they want. Tell it in a loving,earnest, affectionate manner, for God wills that they should be saved, not in any other way, but in this way'by a knowledgeof the truth. He wills that all men should be saved in this way'not by keeping them in ignorance, but by bringing the truthbefore them. That is God's way of saving them. Have your Bible handy when you are reasoning with a soul. Just say, 'Let mecall your attention to this passage.' It has a wonderful power over a poor staggering soul to point to the Book itself. Say,'Did you notice this promise, my dear friend? And have you seen that passage?' Have the Scriptures handy. There is a dearbrother of mine here whom God blesses to many souls, and I have seen him talking to some, and turning to the texts very handily.I wondered how he did it so quickly, till I looked in his Bible, and found that he hind the choice texts printed on two leavesand inserted into the book, so that he could always open upon them. That is a capital plan, to get the cheering wordsready to hand, the very ones that you know have comforted you and have comforted others. It sometimes happens that onesingle verse of God's word will make the light to break into a soul, when fifty days of reasoning would not do it. I noticethat when souls are saved it is by our texts rather than by our sermons. God the Holy Ghost loves to use his own sword. Itis God's word, not man's comment on God's word, that God usually blesses. Therefore, stick to the quotation of the Scriptureitself,and rely upon the truth. If a man could be saved by a lie it would be a lying salvation. Truth alone can work results that are true. Therefore, keepon teaching the truth. God help you to proclaim the precious truth about the bleeding, dying, risen, exalted, coming Savior; and God will blessit.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON'1 Timothy 2.
HYMNS FROM 'Our Own Hymn Book'551, 546, 556.
LETTER FROM MR. SPURGEON.
DEAR FRIENDS,'Accept again my heartiest salutations. I hope soon to issue sermons preached at home on the previous Sabbaths,for I purpose, if the Lord will, to leave this shelter on February 2, or thereabouts. Six weeks of continuous fine weatherhave by God's blessing delivered me from my pains, and enabled me to regain a large measure of strength; and the daily goodtidings from home has also helped to quiet my mind and revive my spirit. O that I may be the better forthis affliction. As after heavy showers the fountains and brooks run with new force and fullness, so may it be with thesesermons now that with me 'the rain is over and gone.' If you, dear readers, are the more refreshed I shall count pain andweakness to be a small cost for so blessed a result.
Yours most heartily
Menton, January 16, 1880.