A Call to the Unconverted
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."—Galatians 3:10
My hearer, art thou a believer, or no? for, according to thine answer to that question, must be the style in which I shall address thee to-night. I would ask thee as a great favor to thine own soul, this evening to divest thyself of the thought that thou art sitting in a chapel, and hearing a minister who is preaching to a large congregation. Think thou art sitting in thine own house, in thine own chair, and think that I am standing by thee, with thy hand in mine, and am speaking personally to thee, and to thee alone; for that is how I desire to preach this night to each of my hearers—one by one. I want thee, then, in the sight of God, to answer me this all important and solemn question before I begin—Art thou in Christ, or art thou not? Hast thou fled for refuge to him who is the only hope for sinners? or art thou yet a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, ignorant of God, and of his holy Gospel? Come—be honest with thine own heart, and let thy conscience say yes, or no, for one of these two things thou art to-night—thou art either under the wrath of God, or thou art delivered from it. Thou art to-night either an heir of wrath, or an inheritor of the kingdom of grace. Which of these two? Make no "ifs" or "ahs" in your answer. Answer straight forward to thine own soul; and if there be any doubt whatever about it, I beseech thee rest not till that doubt be resolved. Do not take advantage of that doubt to thyself, but rather take a disadvantage from it. Depend upon it, thou art more likely to be wrong than thou art to be right; and now put thyself in the scale, and if thou dost not kick the beam entirely, but if thou hangest between the two, and thou sayest, "I know not which," better that thou shouldst decide for the worst, though it should grieve thyself, than that thou shouldst decide for the better, and be deceived, and so go on presumptuously until the pit of hell shall wake thee from thy self-deception. Canst thou, then, with one hand upon God's holy word, and the other upon thine own heart, lifts thine eye to heaven, and say, "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see; I know that I have passed from death unto life, I am not now what I once was; 'I the chief of sinners am, but Jesus died for me.' And if I be not awfully deceived, I am this night "A sinner saved by blood, a monument of grace?'" My brother, God speed you; the blessing of the Most High be with you. My text has no thunders in it for you. Instead of this verse, turn to the 13th, and there read your inheritance—"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." So Christ was cursed in the stead of you, and you are secure, if you are truly converted, and really a regenerated child of God.
But my hearer, I am solemnly convinced that a large proportion of this assembly dare not say so; and thou to-night (for I am speaking personally to thee), remember that thou art one of those who dare not say this, for thou art a stranger to the grace of God. Thou durst not lie before God, and thine own conscience, therefore thou dost honestly say, "I know I was never regenerated; I am now what I always was, and that is the most I can say." Now, with you I have to deal, and I charge you by him who shall judge the quick and the dead, before whom you and I must soon appear, listen to the words I speak, for they may be the last warning you shall ever hear, and I charge my own soul also, be thou faithful to these dying men, lest haply on thy skirts at last should be found the blood of souls, and thou thyself shouldst be a castaway. O God, make us faithful this night and give the hearing ear, and the retentive memory, and the conscience touched by the Spirit, for Jesus' sake.
First, to-night we shall try the prisoner; secondly, we shall declare his sentence; and thirdly, if we find him confessing and penitent, we shall proclaim his deliverance; but not unless we find him so.
I. First, then, we are about to TRY THE PRISONER.
The text says—"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Unconverted man, are you guilty, or not guilty? Have you continued "in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them?" Methinks you will not dare to plead, "Not guilty." But I will suppose for one moment that you are bold enough to do so. So, then, sir, you mean to assert that you have continued "in all things which are written in the book of the law." Surely the very reading of the law would be enough to convince thee that thou art in error. Dost thou know what the law is? Why, I will give thee what I may call the outside of it, but remember that within it there is a broader spirit than the mere words. Hear thou these words of the law—"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." What! hast thou never loved anything better than God? Hast thou never made a god of thy belly, or of thy business, or of thy family, or of thine own person? Oh! surely thou durst not say thou art guiltless here. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."What! hast thou never in thy life set up anything in the place of God? If thou hast not, I have, full many a time. And I wot, if conscience would speak truly, it would say, "Man, thou hast been a mammon worshiper, thou hast been a belly worshiper, thou hast bowed down before gold and silver; thou hast cast thyself down before honor, thou hast bowed before pleasure, thou hast made a god of thy drunkenness, a god of thy lust, a god of thy uncleanness, a god of thy pleasures!" Wilt thou dare to say that thou hast never taken the name of the Lord thy of God in vain? If thou hast never sworn profanely, yet surely in common conversation thou hast sometimes made use of God's name when thou oughtest not to have done so. Say, hast thou always hallowed that most holy name? Hast thou never called upon God without necessity? Hast thou never read his book with a trifling spirit? Hast thou never heard his gospel without paying reverence to it? Surely thou art guilty here. And as for that fourth commandment, which relates to the keeping of the Sabbath—"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,"—hast thou never broken it? Oh, shut thy mouth and plead guilty, for these four commandments were enough to condemn thee! "Honor thy father and thy mother."What! wilt thou say thou has kept that? Hast thou never been disobedient in thy youth? Hast thou never kicked against a mother's love, and striven against a father's rebuke? Turn over a page of your history till you come to your childhood; see if you cannot find it written there; ay, and your manhood too may confess that you have not always spoken to your parents as you should, or always treated them with that honor they deserved, and which God commanded you to give unto them. "Thou shalt not kill;" you may never have killed any, but have you never been angry? He that is angry with his brother is a murderer; thou art guilty here. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Mayhap thou hast committed unclean things, and art here this very day stained with lust; but if thou hast been never so chaste, I am sure thou hast not been quite guiltless, when the Master says, "He that looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery already with her in his heart." Has no lascivious thought crossed thy mind? Has no impurity ever stirred thy imagination? Surely if thou shouldest dare to say so, thou wouldest be brazen-faced with impudence. And hast thou never stolen? "Thou shalt not steal;" you are here in the crowd to-night with the product of your theft mayhap, you have done the deed, you have committed robbery; but if you have been never so honest, yet surely there have been times in which you have felt an inclination to defraud your neighbor, and there may have been some petty, or mayhap some gross frauds which you have secretly and silently committed, on which the law of the land could not lay its hand, but which nevertheless, was a breach of this law. And who dare say he has not borne false witness against his neighbor? Have we never repeated a story to our neighbor's disadvantage, which was untrue? Have we never misconstrued his motives? Have we never misinterpreted his designs? And who among us can dare to say that he is guiltless of the last—"Thou shalt not covet?" for we have all desired to have more than God has given us; and at times our wandering heart has lusted after things which God has not bestowed upon us. Why, to plead not guilty, is to plead your own folly; for verily, my brethren, the very reading of the law is enough, when blessed by the Spirit, to make us cry, "Guilty, O Lord, guilty."
But one cries, "I shall not plead guilty, for though I am well aware that I have not continued 'in all things which are written in the book of the law,' yet I have done the best I could." That is a lie—before God a falsehood. You have not! You have not done the best you could. There have been many occasions upon which you might have done better. Will that young man dare to tell me that he is doing the best he can now? that he cannot refrain from laughter in the house of God? It may be possible that it is hard for him to do so, but it is just possible he could, if he pleased, refrain from insulting his Maker to his face. Surely we have none of us done the best we could. At every period, at every time, there have been opportunities of escape from temptation. If we had had no freedom to escape from the sin, there might have been some excuse for it; but there have been turning points in our history when we might have decided for right or for wrong, but when we have chosen the evil and have eschewed the good, and have turned into that path which leadeth unto hell.
"Ah, but," saith another, "I declare, sir, that while I have broken that law, without a doubt, I have been no worse than my fellow-creatures." And a sorry argument is that, for what availeth it thee? To be damned in a crowd is no more comfortable than to be damned alone. It is true, thou hast been no worse than thy fellow-creatures, but this will be of very poor service to thee. When the wicked are cast into hell, it will be very little comfort to thee that God shall say, "Depart ye cursed" to a thousand with thee. Remember, God's curse, when it shall sweep a nation into hell, shall be as much felt by every individual of the crowd, as if there were but that one man to be punished. God is not like our earthly judges. If their courts were glutted with prisoners, they might be inclined to pass over many a case lightly; but not so with Jehovah. He is so infinite in his mind, that the abundance of criminals will not seem to be any difficulty with him. He will deal with thee as severely and as justly as it there were never another sinner in all the world. And pray, what hast thou to do with other men's sins? Thou art not responsible for them. God made thee to stand or fall by thyself. According to thine own deeds thou shalt be judged. The harlot's sin may be grosser than thine, but thou wilt not be condemned for her iniquities. The murderers guilt may far exceed thy transgressions, but thou wilt not be damned for the murderer. Religion is a thing between God and thine own soul, O man; and therefore, I do beseech thee, do not look upon thy neighbor's, but upon thine own heart.
"Ay, but," cries another, "I have very many times striven to keep the law, and I think I have done so for a little." Hear ye the sentence read again—"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Oh! sirs; it is not some hectic flush upon the cheek of consumptive irresolution that God counts to be the health of obedience. It is not some slight obedience for an hour that God will accept at the day of judgment. He saith "continueth;" and unless from my early childhood to the day when my gray hairs descend into the tomb, I shall have continued to be obedient to God, I must be condemned. Unless I have from the first dawn of reason, when I first began to be responsible, obediently served God, until, like a shock of corn, I am gathered into my Master's garner, salvation by works must be impossible to me, and I must (standing on my own footing), be condemned. It is not I say, some slight obedience that will save the soul. Thou hast not continued "in all things which are written in the book of the law," and therefore thou art condemned.
"But," says another, "there are many things I have not done, but still I have been very virtuous." Poor excuse that, also. Suppose thou hast been virtuous; suppose thou hast avoided many vices: turn to my text. It is not my word, but God's—turn to it—"all things. It does not say "some things."—"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Now, hast thou performed all virtues? Hast thou shunned all vices? Dost thou stand up and plead, "I never was a drunkard?"—Yet shalt thou be damned, if thou hast been a fornicator. Dost thou reply, "I never was unclean?" Yet thou hast broken the Sabbath. Dost thou plead guiltless of that charge? Dost thou declare thou hast never broken the Sabbath? Thou hast taken God's name in vain, hast thou not? Somewhere or other God's law can smite thee. It is certain (let thy conscience now speak and affirm what I assert)—it is certain thou hast not continued "in all things which are written in the book of the law." Nay, more, I do not believe thou hast even continued in any one commandment of God to the full, for the commandment is exceeding broad. It is not the overt act, merely, that will damn a man; it is the thought, the imagination, the conception of sin, that is sufficient to ruin a soul. Remember, my dear hearers, I am speaking now God's own word, not a harsh doctrine of my own. If you had never committed one single act of sin, yet the thought of sin, the imagination of it would be enough to sweep your soul to hell for ever. If you had been born in a cell, and had never been able to come out into the world, either to commit acts of lasciviousness, murder, or robbery, yet the thought of evil in that lone cell might be enough to cast your soul for ever from the face of God. Oh! there is no man here that can hope to escape. We must every one of us bow our heads before God, and cry, "Guilty, Lord, guilty—every one of us guilty—'Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.'" When I look into thy face, O law, my spirit shudders. When I hear thy thunders, my heart is melted like wax in the midst of my bowels. How can I endure thee? If I am to be tried at last for my life, surely I shall need no judge, for I shall be mine own swift accuser, and my conscience shall be a witness to condemn.
I think I need not enlarge further on this point. O thou that art out of Christ, and without God, dost thou not stand condemned before him? Off with all thy masks, and away with all excuses; let every one of us turn our idle pretences to the wind. Unless we have the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ to cover us, we must every one of us acknowledge that this sentence shuts the gates of heaven against us, and only prepares us for the flames of perdition.
II. Thus have I singled out the character, and he is found guilty; now I have TO DECLARE THE SENTENCE.
God's ministers love not such work as this. I would rather stand in this pulpit and preach twenty sermons on the love of Jesus, than one like this. It is very seldom that I meddle with the theme, because I do not know that it is often necessary; but I feel that if these things were kept altogether in the background, and the law were not preached, the Master would not own the gospel; for he will have both preached in their measure, and each must have its proper prominence. Now, therefore, hear me whilst I sorrowfully tell you what is the sentence passed upon all of you who this night are out of Christ. Sinner, thou art cursed to-night. Thou art cursed, not by some wizard whose fancied spell can only frighten the ignorant. Thou art cursed—not cursed by some earthly monarch who could turn his troops against thee, and swallow up thy house and thy patrimony quick. Cursed! Oh! what a thing a curse is anyhow! What an awful thing is the curse of a father. We have heard of fathers, driven to madness by the undutiful and ungracious conduct of their children, who have lifted their hands to heaven, and have implored a curse, a withering curse upon their children. We can not excuse the parent's mad and rash act. God forbid we should exempt him from sin; but oh, a father's curse must be awful. I can not think what it must be to be cursed by him that did beget me. Sure, it would put out the sunlight of my history for ever, if it were deserved. But to be cursed of God—I have no words with which to tell what that must be. "Oh, no," you say, "that is a thing of the future; we do not care about the curse of God; it does not fall upon us now." Nay, soul, but it does. The wrath of God abideth on you even now. You have not yet come to know the fullness of that curse, but you are cursed this very hour. You are not yet in hell; not yet has God been pleased to shut up the bowels of his compassion, and cast you for ever from his presence; but notwithstanding all that, you are cursed. Turn to the passage in the book of Deuteronomy, and see how the curse is a present thing upon the sinner. In the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, at the 15th verse, we read all this as the sentence of the sinner: "Cursed shalt thou be in the city"—where you carry on your business God will curse you. "Cursed shalt thou be in the fields"—where you take your recreation; where you walk abroad, there shall the curse reach you. "Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out." There are some men upon whom this curse is very visible. Whatever they do is cursed. They get riches, but there is God's curse with the riches. I would not have some men's gold for all the stars, though they were gold: and if I might have all the wealth of the world, if I must have the miser's greed with it, I would rather be poor than have it. There art some men who are visibly cursed. Don't you see the drunkard? He is cursed, let him go where he may. When he goes into his house, his little children run up stairs to bed, for they are afraid to see their own father; and when they grow a little older, they begin to drink just as he did, and they will stand and imitate him; and they too will begin to swear, so that he is cursed in the fruit of his body. He thought it was not so bad for him to be drunk and to swear; but O what a pang shoots through the fathers conscience, if he has a conscience at all, when he sees his child following his footsteps. Drunkenness brings such a curse upon a man, that he can not enjoy what he eats. He is cursed in his basket, cursed in his store. And truly, though one vice may seem to develop the curse more than others, all sin brings the curse, though we can not always see it. O! thou that art out of God, and out of Christ, and a stranger to Jesus, thou art cursed where thou sittest, cursed where thou standest; cursed is the bed thou liest on; cursed is the bread thou eatest; cursed is the air thou breathest. All is cursed to thee. Go where thou mayest, thou art a cursed man. Ah! that is a fearful thought. O! there are some of you that are cursed to-night. O, that a man should say that of his brethren! but we must say it, or be unfaithful to your poor dying souls. O! would to God that some poor soul in this place would say, "Then I am cursed to-night; I am cursed of God, and cursed of his holy angels—cursed! cursed! cursed!—for I am under the law." I do think, God the Spirit blessing it, it wants nothing more to slay our carelessness than that one word—"cursed!" "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
But now, my hearer, thou that art in this state, impenitent and unbelieving, I have more work to do before I close. Remember, the curse that men have in this life is as nothing compared with the curse that is to come upon them hereafter. In a few short years, you and I must die. Come, friend, I will talk to you personally again—young man, we shall soon grow old, or, perhaps, we shall die before that time, and we shall lie upon our bed—the last bed upon which we shall ever sleep—we shall wake from our last slumber to hear the doleful tidings that there is no hope; the physician will feel our pulse, and solemnly assure our relatives that it is all over! And we shall lie in that still room, where all is hushed except the ticking of the clock, and the weeping of our wife and children; and we must die. O! how solemn will it be that hour when we must struggle with that enemy, Death! The death-rattle is in our throat—we can scarce articulate—we try to speak; the death-glaze is on the eye: Death hath put his fingers on those windows of the body, and shut out the light for ever; the hands well-nigh refuse to lift themselves, and there we are, close on the borders of the grave! Ah! that moment, when the Spirit sees its destiny; that moment, of all moments the most solemn, when the soul looks through the bars of its cage, upon the world to come! No, I can not tell you how the spirit feels, if it be an ungodly spirit, when it sees a fiery throne of judgment, and hears the thunders of Almighty wrath, while there is but a moment between it and hell. I can not picture to you what must be the fright which men will feel, when they realize what they often heard of! Ah! it is a fine thing for you to laugh at me to-night. When you go away, it will be a very fine thing to crack a joke concerning what the preacher said; to talk to one another, and make merry with all this. But when you are lying on your death-bed, you will not laugh. Now, the curtain is drawn, you can not see the things of the future, it is a very fine thing to be merry. When God has removed that curtain, and you learn the solemn reality, you will not find it in your hearts to trifle. Ahab, on his throne laughed at Micaiah. You never read that Ahab laughed at Micaiah when the arrow was sticking between the joints of his harness. In Noah's time, they laughed at the old man; they called him a gray-headed fool, I doubt not, because he told them that God was about to destroy the earth with a flood. But ah! ye scorners, ye did not laugh in that day when the cataracts were falling from heaven, and when God had unloosed the doors of the great deep, and bidden all the hidden waters leap upon the surface; then ye knew that Noah was right. And when ye come to die, mayhap ye will not laugh at me. You will say, when you lie there, "I remember such-and-such a night I strolled into Park street; I heard a man talk very solemnly; I thought at the time I did not like it, but I knew he was in earnest, I am quite certain that he meant good for me; oh, that I had hearkened to his advice; oh, that I had regarded his words! What would I give to hear him again!" Ah! it was not long ago that a man who had laughed and mocked at me full many a time, went down one Sabbath day to Brighton, to spend his day in the excursion—he came back that night to die! On Monday morning, when he was dying, who do you suppose he wanted? He wanted Mr. Spurgeon! the man he had laughed at always; he wanted him to come and tell him the way to heaven, and point him to the Saviour. And although I was glad enough to go, it was doleful work to talk to a man who had just been Sabbath breaking, spending his time in the service of Satan, and had come home to die. And die he did, without a Bible in his house, without having one prayer offered for him except that prayer which I alone did offer at his bedside. Ah! it is strange how the sight of a death-bed may be blessed to the stimulating of our zeal. I stood some year or so ago, by the bedside of a poor boy, about sixteen years of age, who had been drinking himself to death, in a drinking bout, about a week before, and when I talked to him about sin and righteousness, and judgment to come, I knew he trembled, and I thought that he had laid hold on Jesus. When I came down from those stairs, after praying for him many a time, and trying to point him to Jesus, and having but a faint hope of his ultimate salvation, I thought to myself, O God! I would that I might preach every hour, and every moment of the day, the unsearchable riches of Christ; for what an awful thing it is to die without a Saviour. And then, I thought how many a time I had stood in the pulpit, and had not preached in earnest as I ought to have done; how I have coldly told out the tale of the Saviour, when I ought to have wept very showers of tears, in overwhelming emotion. I have gone to my bed full many a season, and have wept myself to sleep, because I have not preached as I have desired, and it will be even so to-night. But, oh, the wrath to come! the wrath to come! the wrath to come!
My hearers, the matters I now talk of are no dreams, no frauds, no whims, no old wives' stories. These are realities, and you will soon know them. O sinner, thou that hast not continued in all things written in the book of the law; thou that hast no Christ; the day is coming when these things will stand before thee, as dread, solemn, real things. And then; ah! then; ah! then; ah! then what wilt thou do?—"And after death the judgment."—O, can ye picture—
"The pomp of that tremendous day,
When Christ with clouds shall come."
I think I see that terrible day. The bell of time has tolled the last day. Now comes the funeral of damned souls. Your body has just started up from the grave, and you unwind your cerements, and you look up. What is that I see? O! what is that I hear? I hear one dread, tremendous blast, that shakes the pillars of heaven, and makes the firmament reel with affright; the trump, the trump, the trump of the arch-angel shakes creation's utmost bound. You look and wonder. Suddenly a voice is heard, and shrieks from some, and songs from others—he comes—he comes—he comes; and every eye must see him. There he is; the throne is set upon a cloud, which is white as alabaster. There he sits. 'Tis He, the Man that died on Calvary—I see his pierced hands—but ah, how changed! No thorn-crown now. He stood at Pilate's bar, but now the whole earth must stand at his bar. But hark! the trumpet sounds again: the Judge opens the book, there is silence in heaven, a solemn silence: the universe is still. "Gather mine elect together, and my redeemed from the four winds of heaven." Swiftly they are gathered. As with a lightning flash, the angel's wing divides the crowd. Here are the righteous all in-gathered; and sinner, there art thou on the left hand, left out, left to abide the burning sentence of eternal wrath. Hark! the harps of heaven play sweet melodies; but to you they bring no joy, though the angels are repeating the Saviour's welcome to his saints. "Come ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world." You have had that moments respite, and now his face is gathering clouds of wrath, the thunder is on his brow; he looks on you that have despised him, you that scoffed his grace, that scorned his mercy, you that broke his Sabbath, you that mocked his cross, you that would not have him to reign over you; and with a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, he cries, "Depart, ye cursed. And then—No, I will not follow you. I will not tell of quenchless flames: I will not talk of miseries of the body, and tortures for the spirit. But hell is terrible; damnation is doleful. Oh, escape! escape! Escape, lest haply, being where you are, you should have to learn what the horrors of eternity must mean, in the gulf of everlasting perdition. "Cursed is the man that hath not continued in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them."
III. DELIVERANCE PROCLAIMED.
"You have condemned us all," cries one. Yes, but not I—God has done it. Are you condemned? Do you feel you are to night? Come, again, let me take thee by the hand, my brother: yes, I can look round upon the whole of this assembly, and I can say, there is not one now in this place whom I do not love as a brother. If I speak severely unto any of you, it is that you may know the right. My heart, and my whole spirit are stirred for you. My harshest words are far more full of love than the smooth words of soft-speaking ministers, who say, "Peace, peace," where there is no peace. Do you think it is any pleasure to me to preach like this? Oh? I had far rather be preaching of Jesus; his sweet, his glorious person, and his all-sufficient righteousness. Now, come, we will have a sweet word before we have done. Do you feel you are condemned? Do you say, "O God, I confess thou wouldest be just, if thou shouldest do all this to me?" Dost thou feel thou canst never be saved by thine own works, but that thou art utterly condemned through sin? Dost thou hate sin? Dost thou sincerely repent? Then, let me tell thee how thou mayest escape.
Men and brethren, Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was crucified, dead, and buried; he is now risen, and he sitteth on the right hand of God, where he also maketh intercession for us. He came into this world to save sinners, by his death. He saw that poor sinners were cursed: he took the curse on his own shoulders, and he delivered us from it. Now, if God has cursed Christ for any man, he will not curse that man again. You ask me, then, "Was Christ cursed for me?" Answer me this question, and I will tell you—Has God the Spirit taught you that you are accursed? Has he made you feel the bitterness of sin? Has he made you cry, "Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner?" Then, my dear friend, Christ was cursed for you; and you are not cursed. You are not cursed now. Christ was cursed for you. Be of good cheer; if Christ was cursed for you, you can not be cursed again. "Oh!" says one, "if I could but think he was cursed for me." Do you see him bleeding on the tree? Do you see his hands and feet all dripping gore? Look unto him, poor sinner. Look no longer at thyself, nor at thy sin; look unto him, and be saved. All he asks thee to do is to look, and even that he will help thee to do. Come to him, trust him, believe on him. God the Holy Spirit has taught you that you are a condemned sinner. Now, I beseech you, hear this word and believe it: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Oh, can you say, "I believe this Word—it is true—blessed be his dear name; it is true to me, for whatever I may not be, I know that I am a sinner; the sermon of this night convinces me of that, if there were nothing else; and, good Lord, thou knowest when I say I am a sinner, I do not mean what I used to mean by that word. I mean that I am a real sinner. I mean that if thou shouldest damn me, I deserve it; if thou shouldest cast me from thy presence forever, it is only what I have merited richly. O my Lord I am a sinner; I am a hopeless sinner, unless thou savest me; I am a helpless sinner, unless thou dost deliver me. I have no hope in my self-righteousness; and Lord, I bless thy name, there is one thing else, I am a sorrowful sinner, for sin grieves me; I can not rest, I am troubled. Oh, if I could get rid of sin, I would be holy, even as God is holy. Lord, I believe. But I hear an objector cry out, "What, sir, believe that Christ died for me simply because I am a sinner!" Yes; even so. "No, sir; but if I had a little righteousness; if I could pray well, I should then think Christ died for me." No, that would not be faith at all, that would be self-confidence. Faith believes in Christ when it sees sin to be black, and trusts in him to remove it all. Now, poor sinner, with all thy sin about thee, take this promise in thy hands, go home to-night, or if thou canst, do it before thou gettest home—go home, I say, up stairs, alone, down by the bed-side, and pour out thine heart, "O Lord, it is all true that that man said; I am condemned, and Lord, I deserve it. O Lord, I have tried to be better, and have done nothing with it all, but have only grown worse. O Lord, I have slighted thy grace, I have despised thy gospel: I wonder thou hast not damned me years ago; Lord, I marvel at myself; that thou sufferest such a base wretch as I am to live at all. I have despised a mother's teaching, I have forgotten a father's prayers. Lord, I have forgotten thee; I have broken thy Sabbath, taken thy name in vain. I have done everything that is wrong; and if thou dost condemn me, what can I say? Lord, I am dumb before thy presence. I have nothing to plead. But Lord; I come to tell thee to-night, thou hast said in the Word of God, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Lord, I come: my only plea is that thou hast said, 'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.' Lord, I am a sinner; he came to save me; I trust in it—sink or swim—Lord, this is my only hope: I cast away every other, and hate myself to think I ever should have had any other. Lord, I rely on Jesus only. Do but save me, and though I can not hope by my future life to blot out my past sin, O Lord, I will ask of thee to give me a new heart and a right spirit, that from this time forth even for ever I may run in the way of thy commandments: for, Lord, I desire nothing so much as to be thy child. Thou knowest, O Lord, I would give all, if thou wouldest but love me; and I am encouraged to think that thou dost love me; for my heart feels so. I am guilty, but I should never have known that I was guilty if thou hadst not taught it to me. I am vile, but I never should have known my vileness, unless thou hadst revealed it. Surely, thou wilt not destroy me, O God, after having taught me this. If thou dost, thou art just, but,
"Save a trembling sinner, Lord,
Whose hopes still hovering round thy Word,
Would light on some sweet promise there;
Some sure support against despair."
If you can not pray such a long prayer as that, I tell you what to go home and say. Say this, "Lord Jesus, I know I am nothing at all; be thou my precious all in all."
Oh, I trust in God there will be some to-night that will be able to pray like that, and if it be so, ring, the bells of heaven; sing, ye seraphim; shout, ye redeemed; for the Lord hath done it, and glory be unto his name, for ever and ever.