Sermon 1983. How Hearts Are Softened
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 18, 1887,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplications: thenthey will look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be inbitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem,as the mourning of Hadad Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo." Zechariah 12:10,11.
HARDNESS of heart is a great and grievous evil. It exists not only in the outside world, but in many who frequent the courtsof the Lord's House. Beneath the robes of religion many carry a heart of stone. It is more than possible to come to Baptismand the sacred Supper, to come constantly to the hearing of the Word and even, as a matter of form, to attend to private religiousduties-and yet still have an unrenewed heart-a heart within which no spiritual life palpitates and no spiritual feeling exists.Nothing good can come out of a stony heart-it is barren as a rock. To be unfeeling is to be unfruitful. Prayer without desire;praise without emotion; preaching without earnestness-what are all these? Like the marble images of life, they are cold anddead! Insensibility is a deadly sign. Frequently it is the next stage to destruction. Pharaoh's hard heart was a prophecythat his pride would meet a terrible overthrow. The hammer of vengeance is not far off when the heart becomes harder thanan adamant stone.
Many and great are the advantages connected with softness of spirit. Tenderness of heart is one of the marks of a graciousperson. Spiritual sensibility puts life and feeling into all Christian duties. He that prays feelingly, prays, indeed. Hethat praises God with humble gratitude, praises Him most acceptably and he that preaches with a loving heart has the essentialsof true eloquence. An inward, living tenderness, which trembles at God's Word, is of great price in the sight of
You are in this matter agreed with me-at least I know that some of you are thoroughly thus minded, for you are longing tobe made tender and contrite. Certain of you who are truly softened by Divine Grace are very prone to accuse yourselves ofbeing stony-hearted. We are poor judges of our own condition and in this matter many make mistakes. Mark this-the man whogrieves because he does not grieve is often the man who grieves most! He that feels that he does not feel is probably themost feeling man of us all! I suspect that hardness is almost gone when it is mourned over. He who can feel his insensibilityis not insensible. Those who mourn that their heart is a heart of stone, if they were to look calmly at the matter, mightperceive that it is not all stone, or else there would not be a mourning because of hardness! But, whether this is so or not,I address myself to all of you whose prayer is for godly sorrow for sin.
It is written in the Covenant of Grace, "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart offlesh." I pray that this may be fulfilled in you even now. The object of this sermon is to show how this tenderness is tobe obtained and how an evangelical sorrow for sin can be produced in the heart and maintained there. I would set forth thesimple method by which the inward nature can be made living, feeling and tender, full of warm emotions, fervent breathingsand intense affections towards the Lord Jesus Christ. While I speak, I beseech you to pray-"Create in me a tender heart, OLord, and renew within me a contrite spirit."
It will be instructive to keep to the words of the text. This passage is peculiarly suited to our purpose and it will addauthority to that which we teach. Observe that holy tenderness arises out of a Divine operation-"I will pour on the houseof David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplications." Secondly, it is actually worked bythe look of faith-"Then they will look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him." And, thirdly, the tendernesswhich comes in this way leads to mourning for sin of an intense kind-"They shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his onlyson, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a greatmourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadad Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo."
I. First, note that THE HOLY TENDERNESS WHICH MAKES MEN MOURN FOR SIN ARISES OUT OF A DIVINE OPERATION. It is not in fallenman to renew his own heart! Can the adamant turn itself to wax, or the granite soften itself to clay? Only He that stretchesout the heavens and lays the foundation of the earth can form and reform the spirit of man within him. The power to make therock of our nature flow with rivers of repentance is not in the rock itself.
The power lies in the Omnipotent Spirit of God and it is an omen for good that He delights to exercise this power. The Spiritof God is prompt to give life and feeling. He moved of old upon the face of the waters and, by His power, order came out ofconfusion. That same Spirit at this time broods over our souls and reduces the chaos of our natural state to light and lifeand obedience. There lies the hope of our ruined nature. Jehovah who made us can make us over again! Our case is not beyondHis power. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? He can change the nether millstone intoa mass of feeling and dissolve the northern iron and the steel into a flood of tears. When He deals with the human mind byHis secret and mysterious operations, He fills it with new life, perception and emotion. "God makes my heart soft," said Job,and in the best sense this is true. The Holy Spirit makes us like wax and we become impressible to His sacred seal. Remember,you that are hard of heart, that your hope lies this way-God Himself, who melts the icebergs of the northern sea, must makeyour soul yield up its hardness in the Presence of His love. Nothing short of the work of God within you can effect this."You must be born again." And that new birth must be from above! The Spirit of God must work regeneration in you. He is able,of these stones, to raise up children unto Abraham. But until He works, you are dead and insensible. Even now I perceive thegoings forth of His power-He is moving you to desire His Divine working and, in that gracious desire, the work has alreadybegun!
Note next, that as this tenderness comes of the Spirit of God, so it also comes by His working in full co-operation with theFather and with the Son. In our text we have all the three Persons of the Divine Trinity. We hear the Father say, "I willpour on the house of David the Spirit of grace." And that Spirit, when poured out, leads men to look to Him whom they pierced,even to the Incarnate Son of God. Thus the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, fulfils the purpose of theFather by revealing the Son, and thus the heart of man is reached. The Divine Father sends forth the Holy Spirit and He bearswitness to the Son of God-and so men come to mourn for sin. We believe in the three Persons of the blessed God and yet weare equally clear that God is One. We see the divers operations of these three Divine Persons, but we perceive that they areall of One and work to the same end, namely, that Grace may reign by delivering us from our natural impenitence and by causingus to sorrow because we have sinned.
The Holy Spirit works not without the Father and the Son, but proves Himself to be in full union with both by His operationsupon the soul of man. Do not think, therefore, when you feel the Holy Spirit melting you, that the Father will refuse you-itis He that sent the Holy Spirit to deal with you! Imagine not that you can feel repentance for sin and bow in sorrow at theSavior's feet-and that Jesus will reject you-for it is He who sent the Spirit of Grace to bring you to repentance and makeyou mourn because of the ill which you have done. The glorious One God, who made the heavens and the earth, is dealing withyour heart if the Holy Spirit is now working in you as "the Spirit of grace and of supplications."
This operation is an unseen secret work. You cannot perceive the work of the Spirit by the senses of the flesh-it is spirituallydiscerned. When the Spirit of God was poured out at Pentecost, there were divers signs attendant thereupon, such as rushingmighty wind and cloven tongues as it were fire-but these were outward signs only-the Spirit, Himself, is inward and secret.The Spirit is as the wind, invisible except by its effects. The Holy Spirit comes as the dew which in soft silence refreshesthe tender herb. Not with sound of trumpet or observation of man does the Spirit perform His gracious deeds. His working isone of the secrets and mysteries which no man can explain to his fellow. He that feels the movement of the Holy Spirit knowsthat a singular work is going on within him, but what it is, or who it is that works it, he knows not. Do not, therefore,expect to be informed when the Spirit is upon you! Marvel not if it should so happen that He is dealing with you now, thoughyou know it not, "For God speaks once, yes twice, yet man perceives it not." The operations of the Holy Spirit are consciouslyperceived by the human heart, but they are not always attributed to their right cause. Many a man, to use the words of ourhymn-
"Wonders to feel his own hardness depart."
He does not know how his new tenderness has been produced. He finds himself anxious to hear and understand the Gospel-andhe feels that the Gospel affects him as it never did before-but he does not perceive those "invisible" cords of love whichare drawing him towards his Savior. Before long he will cry, "This is the finger of God!" But as yet he perceives not theDivine cause. It is well set forth by Mr. Bunyan in his parable of the fire which burned, though a man tried to quench it.There was one behind the wall who secretly poured oil upon the fire! He himself was unperceived, but the fire burned becauseof what he poured on it. You can see the flames, but you cannot see the hidden one who ministers the fuel. The Spirit of Godmay work in you, my dear Hearer, this morning, but it will not be with special token of marvel, or voice, or vision. Not withearthquake, nor wind, nor fire will He come, but with "a still small voice." He may deal with many of you at once and yetnone may see it in his neighbor! I expect that He will work upon many at this time, for much prayer has been put up that theLord Jesus may be glorified in our midst.
But the secret operation of the Spirit is known by its effects, for it is sweetly productive. We read in the text of "theSpirit of grace and of supplications," which must mean that the Spirit produces graciousness and prayerfulness in the soulupon which He works. The man is now willing to receive the Grace or free favor of God-he ceases to be proud- and becomes gracious.He is put into a condition in which God's Grace can deal with him. As long as you are self-righteous, God cannot deal withyou in the way of favor-you are upon wrong ground, for you are making claims which He cannot possibly allow. Mercy and meritcan no more blend than fire and water! You must be willing to receive as a free favor what God will never give you if youclaim it by right. When you are made conscious of sin, then forgiveness can be granted. When you are malleable under the hammerof God's Word, then will He work His work of love upon you. When you lay your own righteousness aside and take up the cry,"God be merciful to me a sinner," then shall you go to your house justified! It needs the Spirit of Grace to give us Graceto receive Grace. We are so graceless that we will not even accept Grace till God gives us "Grace for Grace"-Grace to acceptGrace. Blessed is the hour when the Spirit of God comes to us as the Spirit of Grace and works in us that graciousness whichmakes us value and seek after the free Grace of God in its further forms. Grace, itself, clears out a space in the heart forGrace to enter and carry on its work.
It is also said that the Lord will pour out "the spirit of supplications." This is the creation of desires and longings whichexpress themselves in prayer. When the Holy Spirit works savingly upon the heart, then the man begins to approach the MercySeat with frequent and fervent supplications. The words may be broken and confused, but what are words? Sighs, tears, heavingof the breast and upward glances of the eyes-these are true prayers-and are very prevalent with God. Brothers and Sisters,we poor preachers cannot make men pray! We can produce a Book of Common Prayer and read it to them-and get them to utter theresponses-but we cannot make them pray by this means. The Spirit of God is still needed. The child may be taught a form ofprayer at its mother's knees and he may repeat it daily till he is old-and yet he may never have prayed in all those years!Only the Spirit of God can produce the smallest atom of prayer! I tell you, there was never a prayer on earth that God couldaccept, but what first came down from Heaven by the operation of the Spirit of God upon the soul. But here is the point-haveyou this "Spirit of supplications" this morning? Are you groaning, crying, sighing-"Lord, save, or I perish! Give me Christ,or else I die"? Well then, I trust you have come under the sacred outpouring promised in the text-"I will pour on the houseof David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of Grace and of supplications."
All this leads on towards the tenderness which begets mourning for sin. Again, I say, this is the point from which help mustcome for the sinner. You that have been striving to feel and yet cannot feel-and do not feel-you should look to the strongfor strength and to the living for life! He, who in the day of man's creation, breathed into the nostrils of man the breathof life, so that he became a living soul, can infuse the new life into you and give you, with it, all the feeling which isnatural thereto. Think much of the Holy Spirit, for He can make you live in the truest sense. It is God's to give you a tenderheart, not yours to create it within yourself. Do not attempt, first, to renew your heart, and then to come to Christ forsalvation-for this renewal of heart is salvation! Come you as you are, confessing all your hardness, your wickedness, yourwillful obduracy and obstinacy-confess it all-and then put yourself into the hands of the Spirit, who can remove your hardnessat the same time that Divine Grace removes your guilt!
The Holy Spirit can make your heart as tender as the apple of the eye and cause your conscience to be as sensitive as a rawwound which feels the slightest touch. God grant us Grace to deal with Him about these things and not to be look-
ing to ourselves. As well hope to extract juice from the stones of the seashore, as spiritual feeling from the carnal mind!He who can make the dry bones live and He, alone, can make the hardened mourn over sin.
II. But now I come to the core and center of our subject-THIS TENDERNESS OF HEART AND MOURNING
FOR SIN IS ACTUALLY WORKED BY A FAITH-LOOK AT THE PIERCED SON OF GOD. True sorrow for sin
comes not without the Spirit of God, but even the Spirit of God, Himself, does not work it except by leading us to look toJesus the Crucified. There is no true mourning for sin until the eyes have seen Christ. It is a beautiful remark of an oldDivine, that eyes are made for at least two things. First, to look with and next, to weep with. The eyes which look to thePierced One are the eyes which weep for Him. O Soul, when you come to look where all eyes should look, even to Him who waspierced, then your eyes begin to weep for that for which all eyes should weep-even the sin which slew your Savior! There isno saving repentance except within sight of the Cross. That repentance of sin which omits Christ is a repentance which willhave to be repented of. If such sorrow may be called repentance at all, it is only as wild grapes are yet called grapes, thoughthey have in them none of the qualities and virtues of the clusters of the true vine. Evangelical repentance is acceptablerepentance-but that only-and the essence of evangelical repentance is that it looks to Him whom it pierced by its sin. Sorrowfor sin without faith in Christ is the hard bone without the marrow-it kills, but never blesses. It is a tempest of the soulwith thunder and lightning, but no rain. God save us from remorse! It works death.
Mark you, wherever the Holy Spirit does really come, He always leads the soul to look to Christ. Never yet did a man receivethe Spirit of God unto salvation, unless he received Him to the bringing of him to look to Christ and mourn for sin. Faithand repentance are born together, live together and thrive together. Let no man put asunder what God has joined together.No man can repent of sin without believing in Jesus, nor believe in Jesus without repenting of sin. Look, then, lovingly toHim that bled upon the Cross for you, for in that look you shall find pardon and receive softening. How wonderful that allour evils should be remedied by that one sole prescription-"Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth"! Yetnone will look until the Spirit of God inclines them so to do. And He works on none to their salvation unless they yield toHis influences and turn their eyes to Jesus.
Note well that this look to the Pierced One is peculiarly dear to God. Observe the change of the pronoun in the middle ofthe verse-"They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him." The Me and the Him refer to thesame Person. I lay no special stress upon this and I do not attempt to prove any doctrine from it, but certainly it is remarkablethat when we read this verse with defined views as to the Oneness of Christ with God-and the union of God and Man in one Personin the Lord Jesus-we find the pronouns perfectly correct and understand why there should be, "Me," in one case, and, "Him,"in another. If you adopt any other theory, then the passage would seem to be a jumble of words. It is instructive to notethat the Lord, instead of saying, "They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced," cannot keep Himself in the third person,but bursts upon the scene in His own individuality!
Either you have, here, the Father regarding Himself as pierced in His Son, or the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, speaking inthe spirit of prophecy of Himself and personally noting those looks of faith and penitence which are fixed upon His sacredPerson. He has such a delight in those looks of believing sorrow, that He mentions them as having personally beheld them-"Theyshall look upon Me whom they have pierced." Nothing pleases Jesus more than the faith-looks of His people. In every stageof their history, the glances of Believers' eyes are very precious to Him. "You have ravished My heart, My sister, My spouse;you have ravished My heart with one of your eyes," says the Bridegroom in the heavenly Canticle. Surely the first glance ofa tearful, penitent eye to Christ is very dear to Him. He says, "I have seen him and observed him." Nobody sees our look offaith but Himself and it is not necessary that anyone else should see it-is it not a matter between our own soul and our Lord?
He foresaw that look and in this verse uttered a prophecy concerning it. And He looks back upon it with pleasure, keepingit before His mind as a part of His satisfaction for the travail of His soul. The looks of faith and the tears of repentanceare precious jewels to our Lord Jesus. He rejoices so much when one sinner repents that the angels see His joy. O dear Hearts,if this morning, in those pews, you believingly look to Christ, accepting Him as God's salvation, then is the promise fulfilledbefore the eyes of Him who spoke it and said, "They shall look on Me whom they have pierced." He will be glad of your faith-Heinvites it, He accepts it, He rewards it! "They looked unto Him and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed." Lookingunto Jesus we receive joy and we give Him joy. As He delights in mercy, so He delights
in those who come to Him and accept His mercy. He was lifted on the Cross to be looked at. He was nailed there that He mightbe a perpetual spectacle and His heart was pierced that we might see the blood and water-which are our double cure.
The look which blesses us so as to produce tenderness of heart is a look to Jesus as the Pierced One. On this I want to dwellfor a season. It is not looking to Jesus as only God which affects the heart, but looking to this same Lord and God as crucifiedfor us. We see the Lord pierced and then the piercing of our own heart begins. When the Lord reveals Jesus to us, we beginto have our sins revealed. We see who it was that was pierced and this deeply stirs our sorrow. Come, dear Souls, let us gotogether to the Cross for a little while and note who it was that there received the spear-thrust of the Roman soldier. Lookat His side and mark that fearful gash which has broached His heart and set the double flood in motion. The centurion said,"Truly, this was the Son of God." He who by Nature is God over all, "without whom was not anything made that was made," tookupon Himself our Nature and became a Man like ourselves, save that He was without taint of sin. Being found in fashion asa Man, He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. It is He that died! He who only has immortality condescendedto die! He was all glory and power-and yet He died! He was all tenderness and Grace-and yet He died! Infinite Goodness washung upon a tree! Boundless bounty was pierced with a spear!
This tragedy exceeds all others! However dark man's ingratitude may seem in other cases, it is blackest here! However horriblehis spite against virtue, that spite is most cruel here! Here Hell has outdone all its former villainy, crying, "This is theheir; let us kill Him." God dwelt among us and man would have none of Him. So far as man could pierce his God and slay hisGod, he went about to commit the hideous crime, for man slew the Lord Christ and pierced Him with a spear-and therein showedwhat he would do with the Eternal, Himself, if he could come at Him. Man is, at heart, a deicide! He would be glad if therewere no God. He says in his heart, "No God" and, if his hand could go as far as his heart, God would not exist another hour!This it is which invests the piercing of our Lord with such intensity of sin-it meant the piercing of God.
But why? Why is the good God thus persecuted? By the loving kindness of the Lord Jesus, by the glory of His Person and bythe perfection of His Character, I beseech you be amazed and ashamed that He should be pierced! This is no common death! Thismurder is no ordinary crime. O Man, He that was pierced with the spear was your God! On the Cross behold your Maker, yourBenefactor, your best Friend!-
"Alas, and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sa vior die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?"
Look steadily at the Pierced One and note the suffering which is covered by the word, "pierced." Our Lord suffered greatlyand grievously. I cannot, in one discourse, rehearse the story of His sorrows; the griefs of His life of poverty and persecution;the griefs of Gethsemane and the bloody sweat; the griefs of His desertion, denial and betrayal; the griefs of Pilate's Hall,the scourging, the spitting and the mockery; the griefs of the Cross with its dishonor and agony. The sufferings of our Lord'sbody were only the body of His sufferings-
"It was not the insulting voice of scorn
So deeply wrung His heart.
The piercing nail, the pointed thorn,
Caused not the saddest smart-
But every struggling sigh betrayed
A heavier grief within,
How on His burdened soul was laid
The weight of human sin."
Our Lord was made a curse for us! The penalty for sin, or that which was equivalent thereto, He endured. "He Himself boreour sins in His own body on the tree." "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed." Brothersand Sisters, the sufferings of Jesus ought to melt our hearts! I mourn this morning that I do not mourn as I should! I accusemyself of that hardness of heart which I condemn, since I can tell you this story without breaking down! My Lord's griefsare untellable! Behold and see if there was ever sorrow like His sorrow! Here we lean over a dread
abyss and look down into fathomless gulfs. Now we are upon great waters where deep calls unto deep. If you will steadfastlyconsider Jesus pierced for our sins and all that is meant thereby, your hearts must relent. Sooner or later the Cross willbring out all the feeling of which you are capable and give you capacity for more! When the Holy Spirit puts the Cross intothe heart, the heart is dissolved in tenderness. Crux in corde, as the old preachers used to say-this is the source of godlysorrow. The hardness of the heart dies when we see Jesus die in woe so great.
It behooves us further to note who it was that pierced Him-"They shall look on Me whom they have pierced." The, "they," ineach case, relates to the same persons. We slew the Savior, even we, who look to Him and live! If a man were condemned andput to death, you might enquire who it was that slew him. And you might be told that it was the judge who condemned him, butthat would not be all the truth. Another might blame the jury who brought in the verdict of guilty, or the executioner whoactually hanged him. But when you go to the root of the matter, you would find that it was the man's crime which was the realblameworthy cause of his death. In the Savior's case, sin was the cause of His death. Transgression pierced Him! But whosetransgression? Whose? It was not His own, for He knew no sin, neither was guile found on His lips. Pilate said, "I find nofault in this Man."
Brothers and Sisters, the Messiah was cut off, but not for Himself! Our sins slew the Savior. He suffered because there wasno other way of vindicating the justice of God and allowing us to escape! The sword which otherwise had smitten us was awakenedagainst the Lord's Shepherd, against the Man that was Jehovah's Fellow! Truly may we sing-
"Twas for my sins my dearest Lord
Hung on the cursed tree!
And groaned away a dying life
For you, my soul, for thee!
Oh, how I hate those lusts of mine
That crucified my God-
Those sins that pierced and nailed His flesh
Fast to the fatal wood!
Oh, if my soul were formed for woe
How would I vent my sighs!
Repentance should like rivers flow
From both my streaming eyes." If this does not break and melt our hearts, let us note why He came into a position in whichHe could be pierced by our sins. It was love, mighty love, nothing else but love which led Him to the Cross. No other chargecan ever be laid at His door but this, that He was "found guilty of excess of love." He put Himself in the way of piercingbecause He was resolved to save us. He loved us better than He loved Himself! And shall we hear of this and think of thisand consider this-and remain unmoved? Are we worse than brutes? Has all that is human quit our humanity? If God the Holy Spiritis now at work, a sight of Christ will surely melt our heart of stone!
Furthermore, notice that looking to the Pierced One causes mourning in every case. All hearts yield to this. Under the powerof the Holy Spirit, this works efficaciously of itself. Nothing else is needed. "They shall look upon Me" and, "they shallmourn." Faith in Christ is sufficient for the production of acceptable and deep repentance! This, and this only, without mortificationsand penances.
Let me also say to you, Beloved, that the more you look at Jesus crucified, the more you will mourn for sin. Growing thoughtwill bring growing tenderness. I would have you look much at the Pierced One, that you may hate sin much. Books which setforth the passion of our Lord and hymns which sing of His Cross have always been most dear to saintly minds because of theirholy influence upon the heart and conscience. Live at Calvary, Beloved, for there you will live at your best. Live at Calvaryand love at Calvary till live and love become the same thing! I would say look to the Pierced One till your own heart is pierced!An old Divine says, "Look at the Cross until all that is on the Cross is in your heart." He further says-Look at Jesus untilHe looks at you. Steadily view His suffering Person until He seems to turn His head and look at you, as He did at Peter whenhe went out and wept bitterly. See Jesus till you see yourself-mourn for Him till you mourn for your sin.
The whole of this subject leads me to observe that the conversion of the Jews will come from a sight of the crucified Messiah.I conclude from this text that Israel will be brought to know the Lord, not by a vision of Christ in His Glory,
but by a sight of Christ in His humiliation. "They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for Him." ButI also conclude that this holds good of all mankind. By the preaching of Christ Crucified will their hearts be broken! TheCross is God's hammer of Love with which He smites the hearts of men with irresistible blows. Men tell us we should preachChrist as an example. We do preach Him as an example and rejoice to do so-but we can never allow that view of our Lord toovershadow our preaching of Him as a Sacrifice for sin! He suffered in the place of guilty men- this is the Gospel! Whateverothers may preach, "we preach Christ Crucified." We will always bear the Cross in the forefront! The Substitution of Christfor the sinner is the essence of the Gospel. We do not keep back the doctrine of the Second Advent but, first and foremost,we preach the Pierced One, for this it is that shall lead to evangelical repentance, when the Spirit of Grace is poured out!
O Brothers, whatever else you preach, or do not preach, preach Christ Crucified! Jesus Christ my Lord as crucified is my maintopic and shall be till I die! I trust you feel a pleasure in thinking of the Lord Jesus in any Character in which He is revealed,but yet the Cross is that whereon He is most lifted up-and this is the chief attraction for sinful men. Though it is to theJews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, it is still the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes!
III. My time is nearly over and, therefore, I must only for a minute touch upon the surface of my third subject-THE SIGHTOF CHRIST CRUCIFIED WILL PRODUCE A MOURNING FOR SIN OF A VERY THOROUGH CHARACTER. It will be immediate. If the Spirit of Godgrants us an inward sight of Christ, we shall bleed inwardly at once! The sentences are fast joined together-"They shall lookupon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn." How rapidly the Spirit of God often works! "His word runs very swiftly."With a single blow of Grace, the bars of iron are broken. Saul of Tarsus was foaming at the mouth with rage against Jesusof Nazareth and His disciples, but a flash and a word changed him. "Why do you persecute Me?" showed him the pierced Lordand, "Lord, what will You have me to do?" was his speedy answer! One glimpse at Christ will make yonder stubborn sinner bowthe knee. Look on him, Lord!
This mourning, according to our text, is refined and pure. They shall mourn for Him. They shall be in bitterness for Him.They sorrow for Jesus rather than for themselves. Sin is not mentioned in these verses and yet the sorrow is all concerningsin. The grief for sin, itself, is overborne and compassed about by the greater grief occasioned by the sad results of sinupon the Person of the Pierced One. Sin is grieved over as it is against the Lord-even as David cries, "Against You, You only,have I sinned." The mourning of a penitent is not because of Hell-if there were no Hell, he would mourn just as much! Hisgrief is not for what sin might cost himself, but for what it has cost the Substitute! He bemoans himself thus, "Oh, how couldI have pierced Him! How could I have wounded the Beloved? Lover of my soul, how could I have pierced You?" True penitentssmite upon their breasts as they behold their Savior bleeding on the tree! This is the sense of sin which is the mark of God'selecting love-the token of the effectual calling of His Grace.
In this mourning there is a touching tenderness-"They shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for hisfirst-born." It is not a son lamenting for a father, for there the grief might be as much for the loss of the father's careand help as for the father, himself. But in the case of a father mourning his young son, the father is not supposed to loseanything but his boy-his grief is for the child, himself. Mourning for a son is caused by a peculiarly pure and unmixed love.Some of that which is of the earth, earthy, may enter into the mourning for a wife-but for his son-a father laments with alove which none may question. For an only son, the mourning is bitter, indeed! And for a first-born it is as gall and wormwood.The Israelite was specially sensitive concerning the death of his offspring. To lose his first-born was as when a nation losesits prince. To lose his only son was to quench the light of the house.
The old man mourns, "I am as good as dead. I am blotted out of the book of the living, for I now have no son to bear my name!The lamp has gone out in my tent, for my son, my only son, my first-born, has gone down to the gates of the grave!" The casewas hopeless for the future-none remained to continue his family among those who sit in the gate- and the old man tore hisclothes and wept bitterly. It is a bitter mourning which we have when we see Jesus slain by our sins. Were it not for theconsequences which Grace has caused to flow from it, our sorrow would be hopeless and helpless, for we feel that in killingJesus we have destroyed our best, our only hope-our one and only joy. His death was the hiding of the sun and the shakingof the earth-and we feel it to be so within our own souls. All that is worth having is gone when Jesus is gone. When God'sonly Son, His First-Born, dies, we sympathize with the great Father and feel ourselves bereaved of our chief joy, our hope,our delight.
This sorrow is intense. The word, "bitterness," is used twice. Sorrow at the foot of the Cross is sorrow, indeed, sorrow uponsorrow, grief upon grief! Then we have bitterness and bitterness, bitterness upon bitterness, the bitterness of bitterness.Thank God it is a healthy tonic-he that has tasted this bitterness may say, "Surely the bitterness of death is
And this kind of mourning is very extraordinary. The Prophet could not recollect any mourning which he had ever heard of thatwas like it, except the lamentation of the people for the death of Josiah. Then all Judah mourned and Jeremiah wrote sad dirges-andother Prophets and poets poured forth their lamentations. Everywhere throughout the land there went up an exceedingly greatand bitter cry, for the good king had fallen and there were no princes of like mind to follow him. Alas, poor nation! It wasyour last bright hour which saw him ride to the battle! In his death your star has set! In the valley of Hadad Rimmon themourning began, but it spread through all the land. The fatal fight of Megiddo was wailed by every woman in Jerusalem! Bravelyhad Josiah kept his word and sought to repel the Egyptian invader-but the hour of Judah's punishment was come and Josiah died.A mourning as sincere and deep comes to us when we perceive that Jesus died for us! Blessed be His name-the joy that comesof it when we see sin put away by His death turns all the sorrow into joy.
This mourning is personal grief-every man repents apart and every woman apart. It is a private, personal grief. It is notproduced by the contagion of example, but by the conviction of the individual conscience. Such sorrow is only to be assuagedby Jesus Christ, Himself, when He is revealed as the Salvation of God.
Brothers and Sisters, I am conscious that I have not preached as I ought to have preached this morning. I have been masteredby my subject. I can sit down, alone, and picture my Divine Master on the Cross. I delight to do so. It is my comfort to meditateon Him. I see Him hanging on the tree and I carefully survey Him, from His head encircled with the thorns down to His blessedfeet, made by the nails to be fountains of crimson blood. I have wept behind the Cross at the marks of the dread scourgingwhich He bore. And then, coming to the front, I have gazed upon His pierced hands and lingered long before that opened side.Then I feel as if I could die of a pleasing grief and mournful joy! Oh, how I then love and adore! But here before this crowd,I am a mere lisper of words-words which fall far below the height of this great argument. Ah me! Ah me! Who among the sonsof men could fitly tell you of His unknown agonies, His piercing anguish, His distraction and heart-break? Who can fully interpretthat awful cry of, "Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani? My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Alone, I can hide my face andbow my head. But here, what can I do? O Lord, what can Your servant do?-
"Words are but air and tongues but clay, And Your compassions are Divine.'" I cannot tell of Love's bleeding, Love's agony,Love's death! If the Holy Spirit will graciously come at this time and put me and my words altogether aside-and set my Lordbefore you, evidently crucified among you-then I shall be content and you will go home thoughtful, tender, hating sin and,therefore, more deeply happy, more serenely glad than ever before! The Lord grant it for His name's sake! Amen.