Sermon 1991. "Sitting By"
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 13, 1887,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law sitting by." Luke 5:17.
A CONGREGATION is a strange aggregate-it is like the gatherings of a net, or the collections of a dredge. If it is a verylarge one, it is especially remarkable. What strange varieties of creatures meet in the Noah's ark of a crowded House of Prayer!If anybody could write the histories of all gathered here, the result would be a library of singular stories.
You, my dear Friends, who usually worship here, have probably no idea of the strange medley of nations, ranks, professions,conditions and religions which are represented in one of the great congregations of this Tabernacle. I am often myself greatlystartled when I come across the tracks of people quite unknown to me, except by the newspapers, who have mingled in thesevast assemblies. I could not have imagined that they would ever have entered a place where the Gospel is preached! It is noteworthythat God always selects our congregations for us-and His arrangements are always wise. I have frequently said to myself, "Ishall have a picked congregation tonight," and in some instances this has been very singularly the case. Persons have comehere who had, themselves, no thought of coming, till some special matter drew them-and then the Word of God spoken has beenso manifestly suited to their case that it made them marvel! If they had sent notice of their coming and the preacher hadknown all about them, he might not have ventured to be quite so personal, for he has unwittingly entered into minute detailsand secret items which, knowingly, he would never have revealed! The Lord who knows what is done in the closet, knows howto direct His ministering servant so that he shall speak to the point and speak to the heart.
In the present congregation we have a large company of people who have long known the Lord and have, for years, rejoiced inHis name. We have another company of persons who do not know the Lord savingly, but yet are well acquainted with the Gospeland are not far from the Kingdom of God. They are almost persuaded. They tarry in the border land. Oh, that they would crossthe frontier and become dwellers in Immanuel's Land! We have also among us some who are far removed from Divine life-a peopleabout whom we have little or no hope. Yet it is from among these that we reap the richest spoils for Christ, for He has compassionon the ignorant and on those that are out-of-the-way. I am fond of that word, "out-of-the-way." The Lord save all of you whoare out-of-the-way ones!
In every congregation we have a fourth class who would decline to be classed at all-they may be said to be here and not here!They are spectators rather than hearers. Like the gentlemen mentioned in our text, they are "sitting by." They are too respectableto be numbered with the vulgar crowd. No, no-they are only callers, sitting by. They would not like to have it supposed thatthey are regular hearers, much less converts-they are "sitting by." They are not repenting. They are not believing. They arenot entering into the Truth of God at all. But, they are, "sitting by." They have come to look on, take notes and make remarks.They are on the outskirts of the battle, but they are not combatants at all-they are "sitting by"-where they hope they areout the range of gunshot!
It is about these who are "sitting by "that I shall now speak, for I am afraid they are becoming by far too easy in the seatswhich they have chosen. They are sitting as God's people sit and yet they are not truly among them, but only, "sitting by."They are a very irritating and disappointing part of our assemblies, but, at the same time, there they are and we would notturn them out if we could! We are glad to have these persons to quarry from, for who knows but that out of
them, God, in infinite mercy, may select individuals who will never again "sit by," but who will be heart and soul with Christand His people-and even become leaders of the host of God?
Let me freely speak to you concerning certain of those who sat by. They were by no means to be despised, for some of themwere eminent persons. They were Pharisees, members of the separate sect, who kept themselves to themselves, and were punctiliousabout the externals of religion. Very superior, indeed, were these Pharisees-and you could see by their faces that they feltthemselves to be persons of importance. With these were doctors of the Law of God, the learned men who had studied the Scripturesvery carefully, counted the words of each Holy Book and found out the middle letter of it. These doctors of the Law had cometo hear the unlettered peasant from Nazareth, concerning whom they had a very strong, but by no means favorable opinion. Theyhad heard about Him and they condescended to give Him a hearing, half blushing at their own modesty in doing so. Not, of course,that He could teach them anything-they were merely, "sitting by," and nothing more. We do not see many of these great folkamong our crowds and, perhaps, there are none such here on this occasion, but we cannot be sure. I do not much care to knowwhether the learned and profound are here, but they do come among us at times, though it is only to sit by. I will say nomore about these remarkable people just now, for many others come into congregations merely to sit by. They have not comewith any wish to learn, or understand, or feel, or be saved-they are only "sitting by."
I. Let our first head answer the enquiry-WHAT WERE THESE PEOPLE DOING? They were "sitting by." There is a good deal in this.First, they were indulging their curiosity. They had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem to know what thisstir was all about. They had heard the great fame of Christ for working miracles and this drew them into the throng whichcontinually surrounded Him. Besides, the crowd, itself, drew them. Why was there such a large company? What could it be allabout? They would like to know for the sake of curiosity. They would, for once, hear the Man, that they might be able to saythat they had heard Him-but they were not going to be influenced by what they heard-they would hear Him as outsiders, "sittingby." They were curious, but not anxious.
As a rule, very little comes of this kind of attendance at places of worship. And yet, I had sooner people come from thismotive than not at all! Curiosity may be the stepping-stone to something better, but, in itself, what good is there in it?Persons on the Sunday go to St. Paul's, to Westminster Abbey, to the Tabernacle, to this place and to that-and they supposethat they are worshipping God-whereas they might just as well have gone to see a show! In fact, it is going to a show andnothing more as far as their motive is concerned! Do not flatter yourselves-if you go to places of worship merely to lookabout you or to hear music, you are not worshipping God! If you come to this great house to gratify your own fancy, you areno more worshipping God than you would be if you walked in the fields! You are only, in a very poor and groveling sense, "sittingby."
Many come into our assemblies and sit by in this respect-that they are altogether indifferent. I do not suppose that thesescribes and Pharisees were quite good enough to be altogether indifferent-they leaned the wrong way and were bitterly opposed.Too many act as if they said, "I come to hear a noted preacher, but what his doctrine may be I neither know nor care." Theydo not enquire, "What is this doctrine of the Fall? What is this depravity of heart? What is this work of the Spirit? Whatis this vicarious Sacrifice?" They do not care to know whether they are concerned in anything that is spoken of. Nor do theyask, "What is this new birth, this translation from darkness to Light, this sanctification of nature?" They hear a theologicalterm and dismiss it as no concern of theirs. They do not want to know too much. This atoning Sacrifice-they hear so much aboutit. This shedding of the precious blood of Jesus. This putting away of sin by the Sacrifice of Jesus-they will not lend anear to this saving mystery-but treat it as a matter of little or no consequence. It is nothing to them that Jesus should die!
O dear Sirs, it ought to be something to you! If there is anything worth enquiring into, it is your own state before God,your position as to eternal things, your condition at this moment in reference to sin-whether it stains you scarlet, or whetheryou have been washed from it in the fountain which Christ has opened! If there is anything worthy of a man's enquiry, it isthe matter which concerns his own soul for eternity! Would God you would no longer be found, "sitting by," but would in earnestfeel, "There is something here for me. Perhaps for me there is a peace which I have never known, a joy which I have neverimagined. I will see for myself. Perhaps for me there is a Heaven of which I have, up to now, despised. I will make a searchingenquiry and see whether it is so or not." May that be your resolve and may you no longer be among those who sit by in stolidindifference!
The scribes and Pharisees were sitting by in another and a worse, sense, for they were there to criticize in an unfriendlyspirit, and either find faults, or invent them. I see them take out their notebooks to jot down a Word the Savior said whichthey thought could be twisted. How they nudged one another as He said something which sounded unusual and bold! Oh, couldthey but catch Him! When, at last, He said to the sick man, "Your sins are forgiven you," I think I see their eyes flash withmalignant fire! "Now we have got Him! Now we have got Him! This Man blasphemes!" They hoped He had now said more than He couldstand to and they asked in triumph, "Who can forgive sins but God only?" They were, "sitting by," watching the Savior as acat watches a mouse! How eagerly they spring upon Him!
My Hearers, this was a wretched business, was it not? It is a very poor business to go to the House of God to criticize afellow mortal who is sincerely trying to do us good. It will not, in the present case, affect the preacher much, for his skinis hardened and he feels not the tiny strokes of ordinary censure. In no case can ungenerous criticisms do any good. But thepity of it is that when we earnestly desire to show you the way of salvation, some of you should hinder us by petty observationsupon a faulty mannerism, a slight blunder, a mispronunciation of a word, or an inaccurate accent! Alas, what small thingsput the eternal Truth of God on one side! I do not know and I would not like to say if I did know, what petty trifles peoplewill carry away and talk of, after we have been solemnly pleading with them about Heaven, Hell, the Judgement Day and thewrath to come-and the way to escape from it! Was it Carlyle who spoke of the cricket as chirping amid the crack of doom?
I am apt to think that many people are like that cricket-they go on with their idle chitchat when Christ, Himself, is setbefore them on the Cross. Assuredly this is poor work! I am hungry. I come to a banquet, but, instead of feasting upon thefood, I begin to criticize the dress of the waiters, abuse the arrangements of the banqueting hall and vilify the provisions!I shall go home as hungry as I came and who will be blamed for it? The best criticism that you can possibly give of your friend'sentertainment is to be hearty in partaking of it! The greatest honor that we can do to Christ Jesus is to feed upon Him, toreceive Him, to trust Him, to live upon Him! Merely to complain and to question will bring no good to the most clever of you.How can it? It is a pitiful waste of time for yourself and a trial of temper to others. Yet there are many who, like the scribesand Pharisees, are in this manner, "sitting by."
Now, I do not care to go farther into these different forms of "sitting by," but no doubt some kindly admire, but do not profit.Hundreds of people are "sitting by" who are attentive hearers and warm friends-and yet have no part nor lot in the matter.They have been more or less regular attendants at this House of Prayer for, say 12, 14, 15, 20 years-and yet they are notone whit the better! Some go from public worship to the public house-and yet they would not neglect church or chapel on anyaccount! Many are no better at home for all they have heard-their wives are sorrowful witnesses to that fact. Why, some ofyou have been prayed for time out of mind and you have been preached at as well, but still, you are, "sitting by." I cannotmake out why you come so constantly and yet profit so little! It would seem to all who knew you a very odd thing if you wereseen loafing about a certain shop for an hour and a half one day in the week for 20 years and yet you never bought a pennyworthof goods! Why do you hang about the Gospel shop and yet purchase nothing? On your own showing you are a fool! I do not likeusing a hard word, still, it is used in Scripture for such as you are. He who believes a thing to be so important that hespends one day in the week in hearing about it, and yet does not think it important enough to accept it as a gift, stultifieshimself by his own actions! How will you answer for it at the Last Great Day when the Judge shall say, "You believed enoughto go and hear about salvation. Why did you not believe enough to accept it? You believed enough to quarrel for it. You wouldstand up for the doctrine of the Gospel- and yet you, yourself, perished in your sin." What answer will you give, you thatare "sitting by"? You will have to give some answer, what will it be? Oh, that you would use a little commonsense about yoursouls and would quit the seat of the foolish for the stool of the penitent-and no more be of those who are "sitting by!"
II. Secondly, let us enquire WHAT WAS HAPPENING WHILE THESE PERSONS WERE "SITTING BY"? They had entered the room where Jesuswas preaching, where crowds were listening, where miracles of mercy were being worked. They were criticizing, carping andquibbling-but what was happening to them all the while?
Well, first, they were incurring responsibility. Sirs, you cannot hear the Gospel and refuse it, and yet remain as you were!You are either better or worse after hearing the Gospel. It is made to you either a savor of life unto life, or else of deathunto death! Remember, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgement, than for Bethsaida and Chorazin,who had heard the Gospel. The refusal of the Gospel is a crowning crime-there is no sin like
it! Does not the Word of God say so? This is no gloomy talk of mine. The Lord Jesus taught that the men of Nineveh would condemnthe men of Jerusalem because they heeded warning and Jerusalem did not. Oh, you that have heard the Gospel so long, and havebeen "sitting by" all the while, what a mountain of guilt rests upon you! How shall you escape? What must become of you aftersuch base ingratitude?
Besides that, they were gathering hardness of heart. Every hour that you listen to the Gospel-and bar your heart against it-youare less and less likely to admit it. The bolt that is rusted is hard to move back from its place. The path that has longbeen trodden by daily traffic has become hard, as though it were paved with stone-hearts that have often been traversed bythe Gospel become like iron beneath its tread. I fear your consciences have grown hardened by the traffic of the Gospel. Iknow that it is so with many. The Lord forgive them! If I could have a congregation that never heard the Gospel before, Ishould feel more hopeful than I do when I speak to you who have heard it for years. What is now likely to affect you? Whatfresh arguments can I bring? I can tell you some new story, perhaps, but what of that? You have had too many stories already!It is not so easy a matter to retain your attention, now, as it once was-the voice has grown familiar and the manner is staleto you. Can I hope that I shall now reach the hearts at which I have shot so many arrows which have all missed the mark? OGod, have mercy upon those who have been "sitting by" so long!
Once again, let me remind you that those who were "sitting by" were obstructing Christ all that they could. There is a something-everypreacher has felt it-there is a something in a congregation itself which affects the preacher, even as he affects the congregation.I soon feel when godly men are praying for me and crying, "O Lord, help him to preach!" I cannot tell you how it is, but soit is, that some congregations freeze me and others set me on fire. When the doctors of the Law and the Pharisees are, "sittingby," they drag us down and we cannot do many mighty works. If my eye catches the glance of one of these ice men. If I perceivehis wretched indifference and detect his half-concealed sneer, I am weakened by it. I fancy I hear such folks saying, "Wecare nothing for what you say. We do not belong to those whom you can influence. We are clad in mail against your weapons."This chills one to the marrow.
Now, this is the tendency of your conduct if you are "sitting by"-you chill the preacher-and in chilling the preacher youdo boundless mischief to the congregation. Don't you know that it was said, even of Jesus, "He did not many mighty works therebecause of their unbelief? Even He, as Man, was, in a measure, dependent upon those who surrounded Him! When He saw theirfaith, He healed the sick of the palsy! And at another time, when He saw their unbelief, He looked round with indignation!It is a terrible fact that certain of you may be so acting as to hinder the salvation of others by your indifference to thesacred message! I believe that this is eminently the case with you that are very good people in all but the one thing necessary-youdo not fear God and your very goodness works for evil! The example of a rank and rotten profligate will not influence certainminds, for they are disgusted by its grossness and driven to seek something better. But when young men see an excellent personlike you, so moral and amiable, without religion, they gather from your example that godliness is not absolutely necessaryand take license to do without it! Thus, you who are "sitting by" may be a curse when you little suspect it-you may be encouragingothers in the attempt to live without the Savior!
Yet let me not finish this head without repeating the remark that we are glad to have these people, "sitting by," rather thannot coming at all! Being in the way, the Lord may meet with them. If you go where shots are flying, you may be wounded oneof these days. Better to come and hear the Gospel from a low motive than not to come at all! Remember Hugh Latimer's quaintstory when he urged all his hearers to go and hear the Gospel? He even praised that sleepless woman who had been taking sleepingmedicine, but found that there was no drug strong enough to make her sleep till, at last, she said, "If you would take meto the parish church I know that I could go to sleep, for I have slept there every Sunday for many years." She was taken tothat place of rest and was soon at peace! "Well, well," said Latimer, "she had better come for sleep than not come at all."And so I say-even if you come here to sleep, the Lord may awake you to seek and find the Savior! Still it is a wretched business-this,"sitting by."
III. Next, let us enquire WHAT WAS THE REASON THESE PEOPLE WERE "SITTING BY"? Why did they come to hear Jesus and yet didnot become a part of the really attentive congregation, but were hovering round the skirts of it and, "sitting by"? I wouldnot needlessly offend any of those who have come here at this time, but let me quietly say a few things which may be applicableto them.
In the first place, in the case of the scribes it was self-conceit which made them sit by. They were divided from the commonthrong by a sense of superiority. They said, "What have we to do with hearing Jesus of Nazareth and His message concerningthe pardon of sin?" "Why," they said, "we are highly educated people and do not need to listen to so plain a preacher. Hissalvation we do not need, for we are not lost." Jesus, Himself, said, "They that are whole need not a physician; but theythat are sick," thus indicating that it was their good idea of themselves which kept them back from Him. That is the reasonwhy so many sit by-in their own opinion they are quite as good as the best and are not in need of any great change. They aremost respectable people and they believe that they are also upright and generous.
There went a man out of this place one evening who was spoken to by one of our friends who happened to know him in trade andhad him in good repute. "What? Have you been to hear our minister tonight?" The good man answered, "Yes, I am sorry to sayI have." "But," said our friend, "why are you sorry?" "Why," he said, "he has turned me inside out and spoiled my idea ofmyself! When I went into the Tabernacle I thought I was the best man in Newington, but now I feel that my righteousness isworthless." "Oh," said the friend, "that is all right, you will come again, I am sure. The Word of God has come home to youand shown you the truth-you will get comfort soon." That friend did come again and he is here tonight-he takes pleasure inthat very Truth of God which turned him inside out! And he comes on purpose that the Word of the Lord may search him and tryhim-and be to him as a refiner's fire! He that is most afraid to be turned inside out is the man who most needs to undergothat process!
Alas, many will not let the Word of God search them! They say within themselves, "That is good, very good. But it is not forme." Such are those that sit by. They sit in a corner, out of the wind of the winnowing fan. Do you not see them draw themselvesup and look very solemnly at other people, as if they would say to their neighbor, "There, you take that home! That doctrineis good for you sinners, but the preacher has no reference to me."
These people were "sitting by" because there was, in them, no sense of personal need, no perception of their own nakednesswhich only Christ can cover, no sense of inward hunger which only Jesus can remove. They did not need a Savior for themselves,though quite willing to hear Him preached to others. They did not require mercy for themselves, though pleased that sinnersshould hear of it. They could see and, therefore, needed not that their eyes should be opened. They had all things and hadno poverty to plead. So it always will be in the preaching of the Word-those will hear it with gladness who perceive thatthey need what it presents to them-but others will take no interest in it. Conscious need inclines the ear to hear-and untilthe Spirit of God works this in us, we shall be deaf as posts to the voice of love-and continue "sitting by."
There was also about these people a mass of prejudice. Their conservative tendency kept them aloof. Carried a certain distance,this tendency is good, but it may turn a man into a pillar of salt and prevent his fleeing for his life. Having drunk theold wine, these immovable people do not desire new because they feel sure that the old is better. Yet if the old wine is souror musty and the new wine is sweet and good, it is a pity to prefer the bad to the good! The old intoxicating wine of salvationby human merit, or by ceremonies, is, by many, preferred to our Lord's own new wine of the Kingdom, namely Justification byHis righteousness through faith. "Believe and live" is set aside for, "the man that does these things shall live by them."They prefer Sinai to Calvary, their own filthy rags to the Lord's perfect robe of righteousness! They stick to the Old Covenant,which is taken away, and cannot endure the Everlasting Covenant of Grace. The prejudice of proud human nature is hard to overcome-menare not willing to search the Scriptures and see whether they are right or not-they stick to their inherited falsehoods.
Many are "sitting by" because of resolute unbelief and determined self-confidence. O Friends, it is born in us by nature tobelieve in ourselves! What is that but clear idolatry? It is not till we are born again that we come to believe in Jesus Christand so to trust in the living God and receive a living hope! May the Lord deliver us from that old, good-for-nothing confidencein self, confidence in works, confidence in outward ceremonies, confidence in the flesh! Oh, that we might pour the old andmusty wine on the ground-and taste of the new wine, crushed from the cluster by the dying Son of God-the new wine of salvationby Grace, through faith, unto the glory of God! Would God that those who are "sitting by" on account of their vaingloriousprejudices, may be brought into the marriage feast of Grace and made willing to wear the wedding garment and honor Him whohas prepared it! Prejudice is the ruin of thousands! They might be made to see if they did not think that they already saw!They might be happy in the Lord if their groundless conceit did not make them to be "sitting by."
IV. WHAT SHALL WE SAY OF THESE SITTERS-BY? Just a word by way of forming an estimate of them and then I will have done withthem. Oh, that the Lord, Himself, might deal with them by His Holy Spirit! These sitters-by, these people who do not go infor the Truth of God and faith of the Gospel, but hear it, play with it, talk about it and then have done with it-what shallI say of them?
Why, first, they seem to me to be wonderfully out of place when you think of the Lord who was preaching. How could they beindifferent in His Presence? He was at a white heat and they were blocks of ice. He was all energy and they were "sittingby." He spending and being spent-and they "sitting by." He engaged all night in prayer with His Divine Father and now, comingforth clothed with Divine Power to heal-and they, "sitting by." Pretending to be doctors and teachers of the people and, therefore,under great responsibility, they were yet content to be, "sitting by," when Jesus was pouring out His soul! O Sirs, none ofus ought to be indifferent in the Presence of the Christ of God! He is clad with zeal as with a cloak-how can we be lukewarm?He laid down His life for the sheep-how can we live for self? He still lives for His people and holds not His peace, but byHis incessant pleading He proves His everlasting interest in our cause -for us to be, "sitting by," is horrible ingratitude!Men who have received great salvation, "sitting by," while the Savior dies? Or even men who are in danger of sinking at onceto Hell carelessly, "sitting by," when the gate of mercy is set open before them by the pierced hand of Jesus? Oh, it is sadlystrange! Lord, teach this foolish generation wisdom! Let them not still be, "sitting by"!
It was equally incongruous with the condition of the rest of the congregation. Look, there is such a crowd around the LordJesus that they are trying to bring in a man who is sick of the palsy, but they cannot get him near. Nobody will make way-theyare all so eager to hear and to get a blessing! At last they take the palsied man to the roof-they actually break up the tiling!They lower the man down with ropes over the heads of the people! Yes, right in among the learned lawyers and the proud Pharisees!The pieces of the tiles are falling everywhere! The dust is on the doctors and divines! Look how eager, how earnest, how impetuousthe people are! And yet these gentlemen Pharisees and lawyers are, "sitting by" with cold indifference!
Look at them taking out their notebooks to jot down an expression with which they may find fault! See how they coolly observelittle points in what is done! They are not moved-not they! A man is about to be healed who has long been paralyzed-and theytreat it as if it were an interesting case in the hospital-around which a company of medical students gather, as to a show.How can they act in this way? Are they made of stone or iron? One would think common humanity might affect them-but no, theywill not enter into anything that Jesus says or does-they are merely, "sitting
It will be an awful thing for some of you to be cast away forever-and then to remember that you sat next to people that weresaved-sat next them at the very time when they heard unto eternal life! How will you bear to know that these people were savedby that powerful sermon which drove even you to your knees, but you shook off the impression, grew careless and again continuedin your sin? This reflection will sting you as does a serpent when you are past hope and are driven forever from the Presenceof God. This will be as the worm that never dies-when you say to yourself-"I was present when Jesus, by His Grace, renewedmen's hearts. I was present when my companion heard, believed and was saved, but I willfully refused to hear and turned awayfrom the only Savior." What shall I say to yonder husband who will have to remember that she who in this world lay in hisbosom, wept for him, told him that she had found a Savior and begged him to think of his immortal soul and turn unto the Lord?You will remember how you steeled your heart against the blessed influence and refused the holy tears of one you loved sowell!
Or is it so, that your darling child came home from the Sunday school weeping on account of sin and you, the mother who oughtto have thanked God for blessing your offspring, ridiculed your child's repentance? This is, "sitting by," in a most horribleway-"sitting by" to scoff and oppose! While others are saved-you are "sitting by." Why, if I were sick of the palsy, tonight.If I were lying here and I saw the Master healing you who were sick, I think I should at least cry out as best I could, "Jesus,Master, have mercy on me!" I exhort any of you who are unconverted to take these words out of my mouth and with your wholeheart use them in prayer. Cry, "Lord have mercy upon me! Christ have mercy upon me!"
V. I had much more to add upon this point, but time admonishes me. Let me in a few sentences speak to some WHO SHOULD NOTBE AMONG THOSE WHO ARE "SITTING BY." You that feel your soul-sickness will not be of that
number. You feel your guilt-you feel your need of Christ. You are broken down-then do not, for a moment, sit by! Rise, Hecalls you! Press through the crowd to Jesus! Believe in Him and live! May His Spirit lead you to do so at once!
Before I found the Savior, I visited nearly every place of worship in the town where I lived, but I did not find full salvationat any one of them. I believe that it was through my own ignorance. In the little Primitive Methodist chapel, when I heardChrist preached and was bid to look, alone, to Him, I found rest unto my soul! But the reason why I found Him was becauseHis Grace had made me know that I needed Him. I do not suppose that the sermon which was made useful to me had anything init more remarkable than other Gospel sermons. The special point was that the Lord had prepared me to receive the Gospel message.They say that the water of the Nile is very sweet. We have heard some of our countrymen assert that a very little of it wastoo much for them and that they never wished to drink of it again. There is no use in disputing about tastes, but surely,people might agree upon the quality of water! Yet some praise this Nile water to the skies and others call it muddy stuff.The reason why the water of the Nile is so sweet to Egyptians is that their climate is dry and the people are thirsty-andother water is scarce. Under a burning sun, a drink of water is very refreshing. To the soul that is thirsty after mercy andreconciliation and eternal life, every promise of the Lord is delightful! Nothing puts such a savor and flavor into the Gospelas that work of the Holy Spirit, by which we are made to feel our great need of it!
Oh, if you have not found Christ-you that are seeking Him-go to every place where Christ is preached till you find Him! Ifyou do not get the heavenly blessing in one place, go to another! Do not stop where there is no blessing merely because itis your regular place of assembly. You need bread and if one baker has not got it, go to another! Seek after the Savior asmen dig for gold or search for diamonds.
I have heard of a man who had long attended one of the Churches in Scotland, but as he did not get any good, he went off tolisten to certain irregular preaching and there he found peace with God. The old minister warned him of his wickedness inbeing away from the Church and said, in Scotch, what I must put into English, "Donald, you should not have gone to hear thatman! He is not of the old Church." "Well," said Donald, "but I needed a blessing and I felt I must go anywhere to get it.""Well," said the minister, "Donald, you should have waited at the pool, like the man in the Gospels, till the water was stirred.""Well, Sir," said the man, "but you see that man saw that the water was sometimes stirred and though he did not get in, himself,yet he knew that others stepped in and were healed. And that encouraged him to wait a little longer, in the hope that histurn might yet come. But I have lain at your pool these 40 years and I never saw the water stirred, neither did anybody gethealed in it. And so I thought it was time for me to look somewhere
Indeed it was! We cannot afford to be lost for the sake of churches or chapels. O my Hearer, seek the Lord with all your heart!And seek Him on and on till you find Him! Do not be a mere sitter-by any longer, but obey the call which bids you draw near.Be not content to sit in any pretended House of Prayer where prayer is not heard and souls are never saved. Do not let downyour bucket into any more dry wells. Go where Jesus is! Traverse all the denominations and stay not till you can say, "I havefound Jesus." If He is not preached in one place, hasten to another. Keep your ears and your hearts open. "Seek you the Lordwhile He may be found; call upon Him while He is near." Do not fall into the habit of going to a place because you alwayswent there and always mean to go there. Why, some of you have almost grown to your seats and are as wooden as that which bearsyou up! O mere sitter-by, I implore you, do not remain in this wretched case! May your cry to the Lord be, at this moment-
"Give me Christ, or else I die!" May God help you to make your hearing a reality, your sitting under the Gospel a true receptionof it!
You that are in great sorrow I do not think it possible that you can be altogether sitters-by! You have been disappointedin love. You have met with a world of trouble, or else you have been the round of amusements and have seen no end of gaiety-butyou are sick of it-and weary of the world and of yourself. You feel that you might as well try to fill your belly with windas fill your soul with the world's amusements-and you have come here jaded and nauseated. Your heart is laboring and heavyladen and you pine for rest. Come and try my Master! He invites you. He entreats you to come. He cries to you, "Come untoMe, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He means what He says. You have labored enough forthe world, and its wages are not worth having. Come now to Him whose gift is eternal life! May His Holy Spirit lead you tocome at once and delay no longer! You are one of those that cannot afford to be, "sitting by," for sin curses you, death threatensyou and eternal wrath pursues you! I know how it will be with you
unless Grace prevents-you will go home and the sermon will be over-and the many of you will still be sitters-by, for you willshake off conviction and still be careless. Remember, I have warned you. Will you despise the warning?
A poor fallen woman is here at this time, worn out with her crimes. Does she desire to know the Savior? Let her confess hersin and forsake it-then she will not be "sitting by." There is a broken-hearted youth here who begins to reap the wild oatshe has sown. Will he sit by? Does he wish to know how his heart can be changed, his sin forgiven, his soul comforted? Lethim arise and go to his Father-and no longer be "sitting by."
And so I close with a full and free Gospel call! Come and welcome, you that gladly would come to Jesus. Come just now, withall your sins about you, and behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! If you want to know what it is tocome to Him, know that it is to trust Him. Go to your chamber, and look up and say, "Jesus, I cannot see You; but You arewherever there is a broken heart. Behold, I seek You; reveal Yourself to me. I trust You to forgive me and to renew me."
Jesus will not refuse you, for He casts out none that come to Him. I said, "Go home," but I will alter that. Keep your seatsand seek Him where you are and as you are! Before you leave this place, commit yourselves into those dear hands which werepierced for the guilty and are always ready to grasp a sinner. As the pearl fisher is happy when he finds a handful of pearls,so is Jesus happy when He lays hold on poor sinners and takes them to be His own! Commit your souls to His keeping. Whollytrust Him! Trust him only! Trust him now! Today, escape for your lives and find refuge in the Rock of Ages! Jesus cries, "Lookunto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth." O Lord, lead all these sinners to look to Jesus by Your Holy Spiritfor Your mercy's sake! Amen.