Sermon 2836. Prayerful Importunity
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JUNE 21, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF AMERSHAM BAPTIST CHAPEL, IN NOVEMBER, 1857.
"And shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, though He bears long with them?" Luke 18:7.
YOU remember this is the conclusion of the parable of the importunate widow. Her husband was dead. He had left her, perhaps,a little property, but some adversary, very probably a lawyer, seized hold of it and took from her all that she had. Whatwas she to do? She went straightway to the judge, the appointed minister of justice in the city. The first time she went,she met with a cold repulse. She went a second time-her poverty drove her, her necessity compelled her to face the man again.Now the judge "neither feared God, nor regarded man," but at last, seeing the vehemence of the woman, feeling that he shouldbe exceedingly troubled by her constant importunity, he granted her request and he did avenge her of her adversary. Jesusused this to show the power of importunity-"Hear what the unjust judge said"- "And if the unjust judge did this, shall notGod avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him?"
Now, in trying to discuss this text this evening, I shall first show what I believe to be the primary application of it And,secondly, I shall try to enlarge upon the general principle involved in it-that importunity is very prevalent with God.
I. To begin, then, WHAT WAS THE ABSOLUTE AND CLEAREST MEANING THAT OUR SAVIOR WOULD CONVEY TO HIS DISCIPLES BY THE PARABLE?
Well, now, I think the whole sense of the parable, as far as we can make any special application of it, hinges upon the meaningof that word, "avenge." What is it that Christ's Church is always praying for? The answer is they are praying spirituallyfor that which the poor widow prayed for actually-they are praying to be avenged of their adversary. Now what did this meanin the poor woman's case? For, in some degree, it means just the same in the Church's case. I do not believe that that poorwidow, when she went to the judge, went for mere vengeance's sake. I cannot conceive that our Savior would have exhibitedthe perseverance of malice as an example to His people. I do not think that when she applied day after day to the court ofthe judge, to be avenged, she applied to have her adversary punished for the mere sake of his being punished. It strikes methere was no revenge whatever in the poor woman's spirit and that what she went for was simply this-her husband was dead,he had left her a little property, it was all she had to bring his babes up and support herself-someone had seized this propertyand what she needed was that the property might be restored to her.
Her request was that that which had been unlawfully taken from the weak by the mighty, might at once be taken from the clutchesof the strong and restored unto the rightful owner. I think any intelligent person reading the passage would at once conceivethat that was what she was seeking. Now the Church of Christ is seeking the very same thing. Those that can cry day and nightin Heaven before the Throne of God do not cry out of a spirit of revenge. The saints, when they pray to God on earth and girdlethe globe with supplication, do not pray against the wicked out of a spirit of hatred. God forbid that any of us should everfall on our knees and ask God to avenge us of our adversary in the common acceptation of that phrase! I am sure there is noChristian actuated by the Spirit of Christ who would ever ask for vengeance, even on the head of the bloodiest persecutor.For if he should do so, I think the lips of Jesus might rebuke him, for we know what Jesus said when He was dying-He did notwish to be avenged, for He said-"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Christ's Church is seeking after just what the poor widow was seeking and we are to understand our text, "Shall not God avengeHis own elect?" in that modified sense which the parable would convey to us. The fact is, Christ's Church is a widow. It istrue her Husband is alive but she is in a widowed state because He has departed from her. Our Lord Jesus Christ who is theBridegroom, was once with His people and the Church could not mourn or fast when the Bridegroom was with her. But He said,"The day shall come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away, and then she shall fast." These are the days-"Our Jesus has goneup on high"-He is not with us in Person, now-He has left His Church in the wilderness. It is true He has left the Comforterwith her, but His own absolute, personal Presence is not vouchsafed to her. He is not yet come a second time without a Sin-Offeringunto salvation. Well, then, taking advantage of the absence of Christ, the Church's Husband, the kings, the princes, the rulersand spiritual wickedness in high places have sought to rob the Church of her rights and her privileges! And what the Churchis always crying for is that God would restore her, her rights-that He would give to her the portion which her Husband lefther in His last legacy and which, in due time, when God shall have answered her prayers, He shall restore unto her. And whatis that legacy?
My Brothers and Sisters, there are many things that Christ has left to His Church of which the world has robbed us. The Churchwas once a united Church. When Christ was in this world, His prayer was that they all might be one, even as He and His Fatherwere One. Alas, the world has robbed us of our unity and now behold the Church cries day and night, "Restore, O Lord, thescattered of Israel, and bring us into one fold, and let us have one Shepherd!" The spirit of the world has crept into ourmidst and split us into many denominations. God's children are not now called Christians, but they are called Baptists andIndependents, Churchmen, Dissenters and such-like names of distinction. Their oneness, although it really exists in the heart,is lost, at least in the outward appearance of it and, to some degree, it is entirely lost. But the Church is crying for itevery day-the true hearts in the midst of God's Zion and the glorified spirits above are crying day without night, "O Lord,make Your Church one!"
Again, the Church was sent into this world to bring the world to a knowledge of the Truth of God and, one day the kingdomsof this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. We may say that all the world is Christ's, though heathenismhas a part of it, Mohammed has another and the Pope another. The world is divided into different sections, under differentfalse systems of religion, but all the world belongs by right to Christ. We can cast our eyes around the world from the rivereven to the ends of the earth and we can say, "The kings of the isles shall bring tribute; the princes of Sheba and Seba shalloffer gifts; kings shall yet be the nursing fathers of the Church, and queens the nursing mothers." But the world has robbedus of this-the different false religions have spoiled the Church's inheritance, the wild boar of the woods wastes her anddevours her borders. Zion's banner should wave everywhere in every kingdom, but instead thereof the priests, the kings, theidol gods have taken the kingdoms unto themselves.
Now this is the great thing, I believe, that the Church is praying for. You know the Church is one day to wear a crown. Christ'sChurch is Christ's royal bride and she is to have a crown. But she can never have it until her prayer has been heard, untilher Lord comes to revenge her wrongs. For, lo, the Church of God is trampled on and despised! The precious sons of Zion, comparableunto fine gold-how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the workings of the potter! God's chosen people are counted as theoff-scouring of all things, instead of being as, indeed they are, considered as the blood royal of the universe-the princesamong men! Now, because of these lost rights, Christ's Church cries day and night unto God, crying out, "O Lord, avenge usof our adversary, and restore unto Your widowed Church her rights!"
Put the Jew wherever you may, and he will always declare that the promised land belongs to his nation. There is a pride aboutthe Jew, wherever he may be-he believes himself to still belong to that chosen family whose were the Covenants and the oracles.That is true of the Christian-he may be ever so poor, ever so despised, but knowing himself to belong to the chosen body,he claims that all things are his own. You may clothe him in fustian and you may feed him on bread and water, but he willstill say, "All things are mine." You may thrust him into a dungeon and let no light come to him except through iron bars,but he will still declare, "Mine are the valleys and the hills! Mine by sacred right-my Father made them all." There is aroyalty in a Christian which persecution cannot burn out, which shame cannot crush, which poverty cannot root up! There itis and there it must be forever-conscious of his high rights and distinctive privileges, the Christian, the Believer, willnever cease to cry unto Christ that he may yet have his rights and possess what his God gave him.
Now, dear Friends, very often we are low-spirited and down-hearted. Sometimes the Christian minister goes back from his pulpitand says, "Ah, the Gospel seems to be making very little progress I do not see how the kingdoms of this earth are to belongto Christ." The Sunday school teacher goes home from his class and says, "This is weary work. If things go on as they do now,we shall always have to say, 'Who has believed our report,' and how can the Church prosper if things are so?" And there aretimes with each of us-when a kind of sickness seizes our spirits-we look at everything with a sad eye and we say, "Ah, themillennium is many years off." Indeed, unbelief says it is quite impossible! "How shall the heathen bow before Him? How shallthey that dwell in the wilderness lick the dust?" Now, you who have thought thus and you who are thinking so now, hear theSavior's argument for your consolation, the argument couched in the text-The Church of God is crying unto Him day and night!There where the burning lamps of Heaven perpetually light the skies-high in the seventh heaven, above the stars, where angelscast their crowns before the Most High, the saints forever cry to God, "O Lord, avenge Your own elect!" for prayer is madein Heaven. The saints under the altar cry aloud, "O Lord, how long?" There is never a moment when the saints cease to pray.They have-
" Vials full of odor sweet, And harps of sweeter sound." And we remember that the saints on earth are always in prayer. Youmeet together in the evening for prayer. You scatter to your houses and then your family fires begin to burn. And when yourfamily fires are put out and your private devotions have ceased, the sun is just rising in the other land across the westernsea and there they are beginning to pray again! And when the sun has set, then it rises somewhere round the world in the fareast, there by the Ganges river, there by the Himalaya steeps-and the saints of God begin again. And when the sun winds onits course and again shines somewhere else, then the saints of the Lord offer incense and a pure offering, so that there isnever an hour when this world ceases to offer its incense-not one moment, even in the darkest shades of midnight-when prayerdoes not ascend from this lower world! And it would be ill for the world if there were a moment when prayer should be suspended,for remember what a poet says, "Perhaps the day when this world shall be consumed will be a day unbrightened by a prayer."Perhaps it may be so, but certainly such a day as that has not yet rolled over the world, for day without night the worldis girdled with prayer and one sacred belt of supplication winds the whole globe!
Now, said Christ, if God's elect in Heaven and on earth are day without night without ceasing, crying to God to give the Churchher empire, her reign, her splendors, her victories-rest assured the Church shall have what it asks for! Shall not God avengeHis own elect that cry day and night unto Him? Yes, Beloved Brothers and Sisters, we may not live to see it, though sometimesI think there are some alive in this world who will live to see that bright day. And yet, if we live not to see it, the dayshall come when Christ, who is the Truth, shall have all power given unto Him under Heaven even as He really has even now-Heshall then have it given to Him in the form and symbol and fashion of it also. The day is coming when Christ shall come inthe clouds of Heaven to reign upon this earth in the midst of His people. Then, when He shall come, the kingdoms of this worldshall be converted to Him-all people shall flock to His colors! Every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue confess thatthe Lord is God!
I have sometimes thought that I may yet live to see that day, and perhaps some of you. We cannot tell when Christ shall come.We are very apt to forget that He comes as a thief in the night, in such an hour as we think not. It is a pleasing thought,sometimes, to remember that there may be some standing here that will not die, for we know the Scripture says, "Behold, Itell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the lasttrump." When Christ shall come, we shall be alive and remain, perhaps, some of us, for He may come tomorrow, He may come tonight!Before the word I am speaking reaches your ears, the trumpet of the Resurrection and Jubilee may startle us all and we maybehold Christ come in the clouds of Heaven! But whether He comes or not in our lifetime, there will be some alive when Heshall come and they, if they are His people, shall not die-they shall be changed-"the dead shall be raised incorruptible,and we shall be changed." "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meetthe Lord in the air: and so shall we always be with the Lord."
O work on, minister! Toil on, teacher! Weep on, mourner! Pray on, intercessor! Hope on, Believer, the hallowed day is coming!Some of the streaks of the gray light already mark the horizon. Some of the sweet tidings of the Master's coming have alreadybeen announced to God's favorite people! Some that have dwelt high on the mountaintop of communion have declared that thetime is approaching. The chariot wheels of Christ are drawing near! But be it near, or be it
far off, it must come. It shall come! The Church shall triumph-the world shall be subdued beneath her feet. God shall avengeHis own elect who cry day and night unto Him. Now, I take that as the absolute meaning of the passage, the nearest and mostappropriate way of explaining it.
II. And now I am going to try to work out THE PRINCIPLE OF THE TEXT. It is this-Importunity will prevail. Now you must notsmile while I give you two pictures-the pictures that Christ gave His disciples, worked out a little, so as to be more plainto you. Jesus Christ says if you need anything of God, if you do not get it the first time, try again. And if you do not getit then, continue in prayer, for continuing long in prayer, you will prevail with God. And He gives you two pictures thatwe have had this evening.
The first is the good man who had no bread in his house when his friend came. You may picture the scene. He says, "I am veryglad to see you, but I have not a morsel of food in the house. If I had the richest dainties in the world, you could havethem all but I have not any." "Well, but," says his friend, "I have come a good many miles this day. I cannot go to rest withoutsomething to eat. I shall faint." "Well, but," he says, "I have nothing for you." "My dear Friend," says the other, "cannotyou obtain a morsel? I am famished by the way-I expected to have got to my resting place at noontide, and now it is midnight.I have been travelling these twelve hours and have had nothing at all to eat." "Well," says his friend, "I have somethingfor your horse to eat, but I cannot give you anything." But at length he says, "There is a friend of mine who lives down thestreet. I will go and get something from him. You shall not starve. I will not come away till I get something."
Away he goes and finds his friend asleep. He gives a loud knock. The man is upstairs in bed and he says, "My wife and my childrenare with me in bed." He does not want to hear that knock and so he just sleeps on. Then there comes another tremendous knock.Says the man, "I cannot think who that can be." The question is asked by those who are upstairs, but he does not feel at allinclined to get out and look. It is a cold night and why should he get up? Then there comes another rap. "Well," he says,"there is somebody at the door." He still turns in his bed and will not get up. He doesn't see why he should rise at suchan untimely hour as that. Besides, it may be only some drunken fellow going home late. Then there comes another tremendousknock. He goes to the window, puts his head out and asks what is the matter. "Oh," says the man, "I need some loaves of bread.A friend of mine has come to see me and I have nothing for him." "Why do you come to me for at such an hour as this? I cannotcome down; my wife and my children are with me in bed; I cannot give you bread at this hour of the night." "But," says theother, "I must have it and I hope you will give it to me. What a friend you have been to me in times past!" "Friend or nofriend," he says, "I shall not give you anything at this time of night."
He will not rise and give to him just because he is his friend. Then what does the poor man do? He says, "I will not go back."He thinks he sees that poor hungry man and he cannot bear the thought of going back and saying that he has nothing for him.That was the only house where he could get bread and so he knocks again. "Oh, dear me, says the man-I thought I had got ridof that fellow. I told him I couldn't get up at this hour and I won't!" But then there comes another rap-a tremendous oneand a child says "Father, we can't go to sleep! Hadn't you better go and give that man his bread?" But the father says, "No,I shall not! Why does he trouble me in this way?" Then there comes another rap and he goes to the window in great anger andasks him, "What do you want, coming here knocking in this way? I tell you once and for all, I shall not give you anything!"
"Well," says the man, "you must give me bread. I cannot go till you do! If you do not give me any, I mean to stay here andknock all night." "Well," says Jesus, "I tell you, though he will not arise and give it to him because he is his friend, yetbecause of his importunity he will arise and give him what he needs." So he comes downstairs, gets the loaves, opens the doorand says to the man, "Here, take as many as you need, and be off with you, and never come to disturb me any more at night."So off he goes-and importunity gets what even friendship could not obtain!
Well, then the Savior gives another picture. Importunity can get what even justice ought to get, but cannot. There is thepoor widow-she is robbed of all she has. She had a little plot of ground and a little cottage with just enough to keep herchildren through the winter. And there was a little field, or two, that she could let out for sufficient rent to keep herall the year-but now it is all pounced upon. She does not know what she is to do. Somebody will come in to claim it who hasno right to it. She is turned out of house and home-and she and her poor children are on the streets! She goes off to thejudge's house to see him-a rather wild errand, that, for when she gets there, there stand the porters at the door, and themen with long spears and they say, "Woman, what do you want?" "I want to see the judge." "You cannot
see the judge. He has got plenty to do without seeing you." "But I must see him! There is a man who has been taking..." "Ido not want to know anything at all about it! You cannot see him." "But I must see him," says the woman and, somehow or other,though the porters repulse her all day long, she manages to get into court! And just when some witness steps down, up comesthe woman and begins, "My Lord." "What case is this, Sergeant?" asks the judge. "Oh, it has nothing to do with the court businesstoday, my Lord!" "Get down with you," says the judge to the woman. "O my Lord," she replies, "there is a man that has comeand taken away..." "Now, you have no right here, I tell you, you must
And she steps down, sad at heart. But the next morning she comes again. As soon as ever the court house is open, there isthe woman at the door! Before anybody can be found to enter, there she is! She had established herself there as soon as thepeople came to get the place ready. Well, before they can begin the business of the day, the woman begins crying out, "O mylord, my husband is dead." "Did you not come here yesterday?" asks the judge. "Yes, my Lord." "Well, I thought I told youthis was not the proper time and place to apply. I cannot attend to you." "O my Lord, if you would but just hear my case alittle!" "Bring up the next case," says the judge, and there is a case brought up, and the judge proceeds. There happens,however, to be an interlude in the business, such as the poor widow has been looking for a long time. And his Honor is justgoing out of court for a little refreshment. And as he is leaving, the woman steps up and says, "My Lord." "Now take thatwoman away! She is always coming here and disturbing me."
The poor woman is taken away, but she returns, and all day long the poor soul is there. She comes the next day, and when thejudge arrives, there is the apparition of this poor woman to startle him again. What is to be done all day long? He knowsthat at every possible opportunity she can get, she will be down upon him to ask him to avenge her of her adversary. At lengthhe says, "Well, what is your case?" And as soon as it is stated, he thinks to himself, "I know that man very well, that hastaken away her property. He is a friend of mine. I shall not interfere in the case. I neither fear God, nor regard man, butas a friend of mine has got her property, I shall not interfere." And then, addressing the woman, "I absolutely forbid youever to come to this place again."
But she comes again, and again, and again, until one day she steps into the witness box, and says, "My lord, I am a womanof a sorrowful spirit." "Now I do not want any more of that! You are always giving me your long sermons in court." "My lord,"continues the woman, "I will have a hearing today. I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit. I have been here many times beforeand you have sent me away when I ought to have had justice at your hands. And now this day, unless I am dragged out of courtby force, I will stop until I get justice!" Well, the judge thinks to himself a moment or two and says, "If I were just todecide this woman's case, I would get rid of her. Well, come, my good Woman, let us hear about it." So she tells the wholehistory of the case. The judge sends the officer of the court to enquire into it and, at last he says, "Though I fear notGod, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her of her adversary." He accordingly sets all heraccounts square and she goes home to her cottage with a joyous heart-and her children are fed and all is happy, for the judgehas set her free from all her dilemmas!
Now, Friends, there you have a case of importunity even going before the claims of justice, as in the other case it went beforethe claims of friendship.
Now what are these two pictures to teach the sinner? They are to teach the sinner that if the importunate woman could prevailwith an unjust judge, you will prevail with a loving Savior! They are to teach you that if by constant knocking, the friendwho at first would not rise, at last did rise and give bread, by your repeated prayers you shall at last find the salvationthat you need! I am certain that somewhere within the compass of my voice, there is one who has been for weeks and monthsseeking the Savior, but he or she has never yet found Him. Satan has perhaps whispered, "God will never have mercy on you.Youmay as well give up prayer-prayer is a useless employment if it has no answer! Never attend the House of God again-there isno mercy for you. Never again come to the Throne of Grace, for God's ears are deaf to you-He will not hear your supplication."
Now, poor Heart, listen not to the temptation of the devil, but listen to this that I have to say to you! Go again seven timesand if that suffices not, 70 times seven! God has not promised to answer you the first time! He will answer you, however,at the end, so continue your prayers. When, with deep anxiety of spirit I sought the Savior, I prayed many months before Icould get an answer. And I heard my mother say, one day, that there never was a man in the world, she believed, so wickedas to say that he had sought God truly and earnestly in prayer, and God had not answered him.
"Many black oaths," she said, "have been sworn, but I never heard of any man who was allowed to utter a sentence so derogatoryto the love and mercy of God as that, 'I have sought God and He would not save me.'" At once the thought struck me, "I willsay that, for I know I have sought God and I feel He has not heard me." I resolved that I would say it and that she shouldhear me, for I felt my spirit vexed within me. I had sought God and, I thought, with all my heart, and He had never vouchsafedto hear me. But then it occurred to me, "Would it not be better to try again before saying it?" That time I sought as I hadnot sought before and that time I found and rejoiced in hope of the Glory of God, because my supplication had been answeredin my own heart, to my own soul's comfort!
Now, if you are in the same position and are laboring under the same temptation, try again. If your knees have been bent 70times in vain, remember you have 70 times the fewer to pray in vain, so try again! You are so much nearer the appointed numberwhich you must reach before God will hear you! Do not give up your efforts. In fact, I know you neither will nor can giveup if God, the Holy Spirit, has taught you praying, for that is one of the things that Satan cannot do-he cannot effectuallystop a praying tongue! He cannot forever quench the desire of the soul, though he may for a time do it by despondency anddespair, yet he cannot do it in the end. I want, before I have done, to take the hand of that young man, or that young womanwho is tonight seeking the Savior, but, as yet, without having found Him to his heart's joy. And I want to say a kind wordto him. Dear Brother, Sister, God willhear you! Be of good courage, but, in the meantime, to keep your spirits up, I willtell you a few things.
Consider what a great Being God is, and what a little creature you are, and then you need not wonder that you have to wait.Why poor people, when they go to see a rich man, will stay in his hall for hours! And if they are going to see a great lord,they will not mind waiting in the antechamber where there is no fire till their feet are cramped with cold, so long as theyhave a hope that they shall get an audience at last. The pertinacity of the beggar in the streets is sometimes astonishing-youcannot get rid of him! You walk a little faster and he walks a little faster, too! He keeps talking to you about his wifewho is sick, and tells you that he is a poor man, that you will never miss what you give him, that God will bless you andall that. Well, if a beggar will wait upon his fellow worm, if we would be content to wait upon the great of the earth forso long a season, oh, we need not murmur against God if He bids us wait in His halls, for we are poor miserable sinners whoare good for nothing and He is the eternal God! There is such a distance between Him and us that we need not murmur if Hekeeps us waiting.
Besides, let us recollect what a great blessing it is we are asking for. The beggar will stay at your door half an hour withthe hope of getting, perhaps, a crust of bread. And men will go and wait in the halls of princes just to get a word. But ah,my Friends, that which we are seeking is more than that! We are seeking for the salvation of our souls! We are seeking forthe blood of Christ, for the pardon of sin, for a seat in Paradise, for deliverance from the flames of Hell! And for sucha gift as this it were worthwhile waiting a thousand years if we might be sure of getting it at last!
But again, poor Soul, be willing to wait because, let me tell you this, you are sure to get what you seek. "Oh," cries one,"I would not mind what I did if I thought I could be saved at last." Well, you will. There was never a soul that perishedpraying, never one who sought the Savior who was at last cast away! Oh, if the Lord should keep you waiting till your headis silvered over with gray, His mercy would not come too late! He would be sure at last to give an ear to your supplicationand bestow upon you the blessing. Therefore be patient. Though the promise tarries, wait for it, for it will be sure to come.But while you are waiting, do not do as some people have done. I once had a hearer who used to tell me that he was waitingand I could never get him out of that idea, say what I would, until at last I had to use a good illustration in order to proveto him that he was not waiting.
"Now," I said, "suppose I came to your house one day to tea and you said to me, 'My dear Sir, how late you are! We have beenwaiting for you.' And suppose there was no fire in the grate, no kettle singing on the hob, and no tea made? I would say,'I do not believe you.'" Waiting implies being ready! If a man is waiting for another, he is ready for him. If you are waitingfor the coach, why, you have your hat on and great coat and your gloves, and your bag is packed and you are ready to start.If you are waiting for the train, you are standing on the platform and looking for its arrival. And when a man is waitingfor Christ, he is ready for Christ. But when they say they are waiting and they fold their arms in unconcern, it is a grosslie! They are waiting for God to destroy them, and nothing else!
When men do really wait for the Lord, this is the way they wait-they go where they hope to meet Him. If they hear that Jesusis in the House of God, they go there. If they hear that He is to be found in the reading of the Word, they read
it day and night. If they hear that some minister has been especially blessed in the salvation of souls, they will go manymiles to hear him in order that they may see Jesus. They will go where Jesus goes and when they get near Jesus, they willcry after Him. They will do as the blind man did when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth passed by! Let us describe that scene,for a moment. A poor man sat by the wayside one day. He could see nothing, but he heard a great noise and a lot of peoplecoming his way, so he said to some of the crowd, "What is that?" And they replied, "It is Jesus of Nazareth that passes by."That, he thinks, is a fine opportunity, and he cries out as loud as ever he can, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus Christ is preaching to the crowd as He walks along, working miracles, and He takes no notice of the cry. Then thereis another shout, "You, Son of David, have mercy on me!" The disciples come and tell him to be quiet, that he is disturbingChrist in His preaching and that he must not make so much noise-but so much the more, a great deal, he cries, "You, Son ofDavid, have mercy on me!" And that shout prevailed over the voice of Christ and the tramping of the feet of the multitude!Then Christ stood still and looked at the blind man, opened his eyes and gave him sight! Now you must do the same-you mustcry to Christ, you must agonize in prayer and wrestle on your knees before Him when you think that you are near to Him. Aboveall, study His promises and read His Word. And if this suffices not, hear, then, the last advice and the best-go to your chamber,tonight, you that have sought the Savior long and, as you think, sought Him in vain-go to your chamber, shut your door, fallon your knees, open His Holy Word, turn to that passage which describes the death of Jesus and when you have meekly and reverentlyread through the story of the Crucifixion, shut the Book, sit down and picture in your mind's eye the hill of Calvary-seethe Cross in the midst of those two other crosses of the thieves. Picture to yourselves the Lord Jesus with the crown of thornson His head, with His hands all dropping blood, with His side distilling a purple torrent. Don't think of anything else!
The first thing that will happen, God the Holy Spirit helping you, will be that you will begin to weep. Tears will run downyour cheeks at the sight of the dear bleeding Man and, after a while, faith will begin to kindle and the thought will arise,"Many souls have been saved by trusting in Him that died upon the Cross-and why not I?" And it may be that you shall comedown from that chamber of yours with a light heart and gladsome countenance, singing as you come down the stairs-
"Oh, how sweet to view the flowing Of His sin-atoning blood! With Divine assurance knowing He has made my peace with God!"
There is no other way of getting peace like that. O you that have sought often, adopt this last resource! You can but perishcoming to Jesus! You will perish if you do not come! But at His feet never a sinner died and never a sinner shall! "Come untoMe all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." You sin-bitten, conscience-stricken sons of men, hearthe Gospel-"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."This is the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, that Christ died for sinners. Believe the Gospel and your soul shall live!You shall be saved and rejoice in everlasting Glory!
Christ died for real sinners. You ask a man, "Do you take God's name in vain?" "No." "Do you honor other gods before the LordJehovah?" "No." "Do you ever break the Sabbath?" "No." "Do you always honor your father and mother?" "Yes, all these thingshave I kept from my youth up." Well then, Jesus Christ did not die for you at all-you are too good to go to Heaven! You arenot the sort of person the Gospel is preached to! Jesus Christ says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."He came to save him whose aching heart and bleeding spirit and tearful eyes betray the man who feels himself a sinner!
Now, may I write the word SINNER in great capital letters and ask, "Who is the man that this word depicts?" Suppose I wereto do it? Are there not some of you who would get up and say from your hearts, "O Sir, that is my name! You may put that onme, I the am chief of sinners." Well then, Jesus died for you! "But," says one, "if I had a few good works, I should thenthink He died for me." Then you would have no reason to think so! Your reason for believing that Christ died for you mustbe grounded on your sins. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"-that must be your only groundwork. "It is hard,"says one, "to draw white from black." Yes, but though it is hard, that is what faith must do. You must infer the good fromthe seeming evil. You know Martin Luther's logic. He says, in his book on Galatians, that Satan once came to him and said,"Martin, you are a great sinner. You will be damned." "No," said he, "Satan, the first
is true-I am a great sinner. The second is not true, for, because I am a great sinner, (and I thank you for telling me ofit), and because I feel it, I shall be saved, for Christ came to save sinners! And so I cut your head off with your own sword."The greatest saints on earth often have come to this. "Oh," said the heir of Heaven, "I am afraid I am no child of God." Andthe shortcut to comfort is this, "Well, if I am not a child of God, I am a sinner and-
"'A sinner is a sacred thing,
The Holy Spirit has made him so.'" And straightway he comes to Christ, and cries-
"Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Your Cross I cling!" Poor Sinners, that is believing on Christ, believing that He died for you when there is noevidence that He did except your own sense of sin. Then, casting your black soul into the fountain, bringing your naked soulto the heavenly wardrobe-then do you prove the power of faith and then are you thus manifested to be the children of God inverity and truth.
May the Lord add His blessing! If there are any careless souls here, may He awaken them, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.