Corn in Egypt
"Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons,Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die."—Genesis 42:1, 2
God in his wisdom hath so made the outward world, that it is a strange and wonderful picture of the inner world. Nature has an analogy with grace. The wonders that God does in the heart of man, each of them finds a parallel, a picture, a metaphor, an illustration, in the wonders which God performs in providence. It is the duty of the minister always to look for these analogies. Our Saviour did so. He is the model preacher: his preaching was made up of parables, pictures from the outer world, accommodated to teach great and mighty truths. And so is man's mind constituted that we can always see a thing better through a picture than anyhow else. If you tell a man a simple truth, he does not see it nearly so well as if you told it to him in an illustration. If I should attempt to describe the flight of a soul from sin to Christ, you would not see it one half so readily as if I should picture John Bunyan's pilgrim running out of the city of destruction, with his fingers in his ears, and hastening with all his might to the wicket gate. There is something tangible in a picture, a something which our poor flesh and blood can lay hold of; and therefore the mind, grasping through the flesh and the blood, is able to understand the idea, and to appropriate it. Hence the necessity and usefulness of the minister always endeavouring to illustrate his sermon, and to make his discourse as much as possible like the parables of Jesus Christ.
Now, there are very few minds that can make parables. The fact is, I do not know of but one good allegory in the English language, and that is, the "Pilgrim's Progress in Parables, pictures, and analogies are not so easy as some think; most men can understand them, but few can create them. Happy for us who are ministers of Christ, we have no great trouble about this matter; we have not to make parables; they are made for us. I believe that Old Testament history has for one of its designs the furnishing of the Christian minister with illustrations; so that a truth which I find in the New Testament in its naked form taught me as a doctrine, I find in the Old Testament cast into a parable. And so would we use this most excellent ancient book, the Old Testament, as an illustration of the New, and as a means of explaining to our minds the truth that is taught to us in a more doctrinal form in the New Testament.
What, then, do we see in these two verses of the forty-second chapter of Genesis? We have here a picture of man's lost estate, he is in a sore soul-devouring famine. We discover here man's hope. His hope lies in that Joseph whom he knows not, who has gone before him and provided all things necessary, that his wants may be supplied. And we have here practical advice, which was preeminently wise on the part of Jacob to his sons in his case, and which, being interpreted, is also the wisest advice to you and to me. Seeing that there is mercy for sinners, and that Jesus our brother has gone before us to provide for us an all-sufficient redemption, "why sit we here and look one upon another?" There is mercy in the breast of God, there is salvation in Christ; "get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die."
Three things, then, this morning: first, a pitiful plight; secondly, good news; and thirdly, excellent advice.
I. First, A PITIFUL PLIGHT. These sons of Jacob were overtaken by a famine. We may talk of famines, friends, but none of us know what they are. We have heard of a famine in Ireland, and some dreadful stories have been related to us that have harrowed our hearts and almost made our hair stand up on end; but even there the full fury of famine was not known. We have heard too, to our great grief, that there are still in this city, dark and hideous spots, where men and women are absolutely perishing from hunger, who have sold from off their backs the last rags that covered them, and are now unable to leave the house, and positively perishing of famine. Such cases we have seen in our daily journals, and our hearts have been sick to think that such things should now occur. But we cannot any of us guess what is the terror of an universal famine, when all men are poor, because all men lack bread, when gold and silver are as valueless as the stones of the street, because mountains of silver and gold would scarce suffice to buy a single sheaf of wheat. Read the history of the famine of Samaria, and see the dreadful shifts to which women were driven, when they did even eat their own offspring. Famines are hells on earth. The famine which had overtaken Jacob was one which, if it had not at the moment of which this passage speaks, exactly arrived at that dreadful pitch, was sure to come to it; for the famine was to last for seven years; and if, through the spendthrift character of Eastern nations, they had not saved in the seven years of plenty enough even for one year, what would become of them during the sixth or seventh year of famine? This was the state of Jacob's family. They were cast into a waste, howling wilderness of famine with but one oasis, and that oasis they did not hear of till just at the time to which our text refers, when they learned to their joy that there was corn in Egypt. Permit me now to illustrate the condition of the sinner by the position of these sons of Jacob.
First, the sons of Jacob had a very great need of bread. There was a family of sixty-six of them. We are apt, when we read these names of the sons of Jacob, to think they were all lads. Are you aware, that Benjamin, the youngest of them, was the father of ten children, at the time he went into Egypt, so that he was not so very small a lad at any rate, and all the rest had large families, so that there were sixty-six to be provided for. Well, a famine is frightful enough when there is one man who is starving—when there is one brought down to a skeleton through leanness and hunger: but when sixty-six mouths are craving for bread, that is indeed a horrible plight to be in. But what is this compared with the sinner's needs! His necessities are such that only Infinity can supply them; he has a demand before which the demands of sixty-six mouths are as nothing. He has before him the dreadful anticipation of a hell, from which there is no escape; he has upon him the heavy hand of God, who has condemned him on account of his sins. What needs he? Why, all the manna that came down from heaven in the wilderness would not supply a sinner's necessities, and all the water that gushed from the rock in the desert would not be sufficient to quench his thirst. Such is the need of the sinner, that all the handsfull of Egypt's seven years would be lost upon him. He needs great mercy; the greatest of mercy, nay, he needs an infinity of mercy, and unless this be given him from above, he is worse than starved, for he dies the second death, and lives in eternal death, without the hope of annihilation or escape. The demands of a hungry man are great; but the demands of a hungry soul are greater still; until that soul gets the love and mercy of God manifested to it, it will always hunger and always thirst, though it had worlds given it for mouthfulls, its hungry stomach would be still unsatisfied, for nothing but the Trinity can fill the heart of man; nothing but an assurance of the everlasting, immutable love of God, and an application of the most precious blood of Jesus, can ever stay the terrible hunger of the sinner's soul.
Mark, again: what these people wanted was an essential thing. They did not lack clothes, that were a want, but nothing like the lack of bread; for a man might exist with but scanty covering. They did not need luxuries, —these they might want, and our pity would not be so much excited; they did not need tents, —without these they might be able to satisfy the cravings of nature: but they lacked bread—that without the fire of life would dwindle to a spark, which at last must die out in the darkness of death. "Bread! bread!" what a cry is that, when men gather together, and in the days of scarcity make that their war-cry. "Bread! bread!" what is a more dreadful sound than that? "Fire! fire!" may be more alarming, but "Bread! bread!" is more piercing to the heart. The cry of "Fire!" rolls like thunder; but the cry of "Bread!" flashes like lightning, and withers one's soul. O that men should cry for bread, —the absolute necessary for the sustenance of the body! But what is the sinner's want? Is it not exactly this? —he wants that without which the soul must perish. Oh! sinner, if it were health, if it were wealth, if it were comfort, which thou wert seeking, then thou mightest sit down content, and say, "I can do without these," but in this matter it is thy soul, thy never-dying soul, that is hungering, and it is its salvation, its rescue from the flames of hell, which now demands thy attention. Oh! what a need is that, —the need of the soul's salvation! Talk we of bread and of skeleton bodies? These are frightful things to look upon; but when we speak of a lack of bread, and of dying perishing souls, there is something more frightful here. See, then, your case, ye who are without the grace of God; ye have great necessity, —necessity for essential things.
Yet again; the necessity of the sons of Jacob was a total one. They had no bread; there was none to be procured. So long as they had some of their own, they could stint themselves, and diminish their rations, and so, by moderation, maintain themselves. But they looked into the future, and saw their children dying with hunger, and not one crust with which to palliate their pangs. They saw their wives sickening before them, and their babes at their breasts, unable to obtain nourishment from those dry fountains. They saw themselves at length, solitary, miserable men, with their hands on their loins, bundles of bones, crawling about the tents where their children lay dead, and themselves without strength enough to bury them. They had a total lack of bread. They might have borne with scarceness: but a total lack of bread was horrible in the extreme. Such is the sinner's case. It is not that he has a little grace, and lacks more; but he has none at all. Of himself he has no grace. It is not that he has a little goodness, and needs to be made better, but he has no goodness at all, no merits, no righteousness—nothing to bring to God, nothing to offer for his acceptance; he is penniless, poverty stricken; everything is gone whereon his soul might feed. He may gnaw the dry bones of his own good works; but if the Lord hath sent conviction into his heart, he will gnaw them in vain; he may try to break the bones of ceremonies, but he shall find that instead of marrow they contain gall and bitterness. He may hunger and hunger, because he has positively nothing with which he could stay his stomach. Such is your case, then. How abject is such a necessity as this: a total lack of an essential thing for which you have an immense need.
But yet worse; with the exception of Egypt, the sons of Jacob were convinced that there was no food anywhere. I believe the reason why they looked one upon another was this. At first one looked at the other as much as to say, "Haven't you some to spare? Couldn't you give me some for my family?" Perhaps Dan appealed to Simeon, "Haven't you some? my child is starving this day; cannot you help me?" Another might look at Judah; and perhaps they might fancy that Benjamin the favourite would surely have some morsel stored up. So they looked one to another. But soon alas! the look of hope changed into the look of despair. They were quite certain that the necessities of each house had been so great, that no one could help the other. They had all come to poverty; and how can beggars help each other, when all are penniless? And then they began to look upon one another in despair. In speechless silence they resigned themselves to the woe which threatened to overwhelm them. Such is the sinner's condition, when first he begins to feel a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, he looks to others. He thinks, "Surely the minister can help me, the priest may assist me." "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out." But after awhile he discovers that the state of all men is the same, that all are without grace, that "none can save his brother, or give to God a ransom for him." And apart from Christ we, my dear friends, this morning might look one on another, aghast and in despair—might try the wide world over, and say "Where is salvation to be found!" Oh! if it lay in the very center of the earth we could dig through the rocks and into the very bowels of the earth to find it. If it were in heaven, we would seek to scale it with some Babel-tower, that we might reach the boon. If we had to walk through fire to gain it, we should gladly accept the burning pilgrimage. Or if we had to walk through the depths of the sea, we should be content to let all its billows roll over us, if we might find it. But if every man had to say to his fellow "there is no hope for us; we have all been condemned, we have all been guilty, we can do nothing to appease the Most High;" what a wretched world were ours, if we were equally convinced of sin, and equally convinced that there was no hope of mercy! This, then, was the condition of Jacob's sons temporally, and it is our condition by nature spiritually. We are in a land of famine; we have nothing of our own; we are hungering, we are dying of hunger, and our case seems totally hopeless, for on earth there is nothing to be found to satisfy the raving hunger of the soul.
II. Now we come, in the second place, to the GOOD NEWS. Jacob had faith, and the ears of faith are always quiet; faith can hear the tread of mercy, though the footfall be as light as that of the angel among the flowers. Though mercy should be a thousand leagues away, and its journey should occupy ten thousand years, yet faith could hear its footsteps, for it is quick of ear and quick of eye. Nay, more, if God should give a promise which should never be fulfilled till the old rolling skies were dissolved, faith would look through all the generations, along the vista of the centuries, and see the spirit of promise afar off, and rejoice therein. Jacob had the ears of faith. He had been at prayer, I doubt not, asking God to deliver his family in the time of famine; and by-and-bye he hears, first of his household, that there is corn in Egypt. Do you see the gathering? The venerable patriarch sits in the tent. his sons come to pay him their morning obeisance; there is despair in their faces, they bring their little children with them. All that the patriarch has he gives; but this morning he adds good news to his benediction, he says to them, "There is corn in Egypt." Can you conceive how their hearts leaped? He scarcely needs to add, "Get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live and not die." Jacob heard the good news, and communicated it as speedily as possible to his descendants.
Now, we also have heard the good news. Good news has been sent to us in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. "There is corn in Egypt." We need not die. There is salvation with God. We need not perish—there is mercy in the Most High. We need not think that we must necessarily be lost; there is a way of salvation; there is a hope of escape—do we not receive the tidings in joy? Do not our hearts rejoice within us at the thought that we are not hopelessly condemned, but that the Lord may yet have mercy upon us? Now, we have better news than even Jacob had; although the news is similar, understanding it in a spiritual sense.
First, we are told to-day by sure and certain witnesses, that there is corn in Egypt, there is mercy in God. Jacob's messenger might have deceived him—idle tales are told everywhere, and in days of famine men are very apt to tell a falsehood, thinking that to be true which they wish were so. The hungry man is apt to hope that there may be corn somewhere; and then he thinks there is; and then he says there is; and then, what begins with a wish comes to be a rumor and a report. But this day, my friends, it is no idle talk; no dream, no rumor of a deceiver. There is mercy with God, there is salvation with him, that he may be feared. The fountain is filled to the brim; the granaries are full of the good old corn of the kingdom. There is no reason why we should perish. By sure infallible, and certain witness, we are told upon the very oath of God himself; that there is salvation for the sons of men. But Jacob did not know how much corn there was in Egypt. He said there was corn, but he did not know how much. Now, today, we are something like Jacob. There is mercy with God; we do not know, any of us, how much. "Oh," says one sinner, "I am such a hungry soul, that all the granaries of Egypt would not be enough for me." Ah, but, poor soul. God is all that you could want, even though you should want an infinite supply. The sixty-six in the family of Jacob would make a heavy draw upon the granaries of any nation; but yet, so abundant were the storehouses in every city, that we do not read that Joseph missed all that he gave them. So it is with you. Your necessities are immense, but nothing equal to the supply. Your soul requires great mercy, but you will no more exhaust the mercy of God than the taking a cup full of water out of the sea would exhaust its fullness. High above the summits of your mountain-sins the stars of grace are shining.
There is another thing in which we have the start of Jacob. Jacob knew there was corn in Egypt, but did not know who had the keeping of it. If he had known that, he would have said, "My sons, go down at once to Egypt, do not be at all afraid, your brother is lord of Egypt, and all the corn belongs to him." Nay, more I can readily imagine that he would have gone himself, forthwith. And Simeon and the rest though they might feel a little abashed, when they thought of the unkindness that they had shown to their brother, when they began to feel a little hungry, if they had known all about Joseph, would have said, "We need not fear to go and submit ourselves to him, for we know he has a gracious and loving heart and would never let his poor brethren die of hunger." Sinner, the mercies of God are under no lock and key except those over which Christ has the power. The granaries of heaven's mercy have no steward to keep them save Christ. He is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. And the keys of grace are swinging at the girdle of your own brother; he who died for you, he who loved you so much, that he loved you better than he did himself. He has the keys of grace, and will you fear to go? Will you tremble to go to these rich stores of mercy when they are in the hands of a loving, tender, and ever-gracious Lord? No, this is good news, that all the grace is in the hands of Jesus.
There is yet another thing which the sons of Jacob knew nothing of. When they went to Egypt, they went on hap-hazard. If they knew there was corn, they were not sure they would get it. But when you and I go to Christ, we are invited guests. Suppose now you should have it in your heart to invite some of the most ragged people of London to your house; you give to each of them an invitation, and they come to the door, perhaps they are half ashamed to come in, and want to steal round the back way; but if they should meet you, they are not at all abashed, they say, "Sir, I was not afraid to come, because you sent me an invitation. If it had not been for that, although I might have known your generosity, although I might have known you could afford to help me, I should not have dared to come if you had not sent me an invitation." Now Joseph sent no invitation to his brethren; but Jesus has sent an invitation to you. To each of you who are perishing sinners he has said, "Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." He has said himself, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." He has sent his messengers and bidden them cry, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Now, sinner, you need never be afraid to go where you are invited. Christ Jesus invites; he invites the hungry, he invites the weary. Such are you—both hungry and weary. He invites the heavy laden—such are you. Come and welcome, then. You need not go on hap-hazard, you have the invitation and the promise. Wherefore look ye then at one another? Arise and come to Christ; arise and come to his cross. May he now prove in you his power to save!
But one other remark, and I will have done with this second point. The sons of Jacob were in one respect better off than you are apparently, for they had money with which to buy. Jacob was not a poor man in respect of wealth, although he had now become exceedingly poor from lack of bread. His sons had money to take with them. Glittering bars of gold they thought must surely attract the notice of the ruler of Egypt. You have no money, nothing to bring to Christ, nothing to offer him. You offered him something once, but he rejected all you offered him as being spurious coin, imitations, counterfeits, and good for nothing. And now utterly stripped, hopeless, penniless, you say you are afraid to go to Christ because you have nothing of your own. Let me assure you that you are never in so fit a condition to go to Christ as when you have nowhere else to go to, and have nothing of your own. But you reply, "I should like at least to feel my need more." That would be something of your own—you must go to Christ with nothing. "But I wish I could believe more." That would be something of your own. You want to get your own faith to bring to Christ. No, you must go to Christ just as you are. "But sir, I must reform myself before I can believe that Christ will have mercy upon me." Your fancied reformation would unfit you for grace, rather than prepare you for it. Reformation before grace is frequently a step backward instead of forward. That reformation may confirm you in self-righteousness, but it cannot bring you to Christ. Go as you are. At a hospital, the best recommendation is sickness. He that is a little sick needs some help to get him there, but let me be run over in the street, and be near to die, and I need nothing to recommend me to the hospital—open flies the door, and I am taken in directly. So a condition of your lost and ruined state is the only recommendation you need in going to Christ. Just now a lot of people want to bestow their charity, and they do not know how to get at the lowest class of the poor; they want to lay hold of those whose beds are made of straw; they desire to gain knowledge of those low lodging-places of the very poor, which are worse than the places that beasts inhabit. These are the men they want to find; and the greater the poverty the more recommendation. So in your case. Your woes plead with God. Your wants, your misery, your helplessness, your ill-deserts, these are the orators that move the heart of God towards you, but nothing else. Come just as you are, with nothing in your hand, to Jesus Christ, who is Lord over the land of mercy, and will not send you empty away.
III. Thus I have noticed the good news as well as the pitiful plight. I come now to the third part, which is GOOD ADVICE. Jacob asks, "Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die." This is very practical advice. I wish people would act the same with religion as they do in temporal affairs. Jacob's sons did not say, "Well, that is very good news; I believe it," and then sit still and die. No, they went straightway to the place of which the good news told them corn was to be had. So should it be in matters of religion. We should not be content merely to hear the tidings, but we should never be satisfied until by divine grace we have availed ourselves of them' and have found mercy in Christ. Some ministers do in fact tell poor awakened sinners to be inactive; they say to them something like this—"You must wait, you must wait till Christ comes to you." They will even dissuade the woman who had an issue of blood, from pushing through the crowd to lay hold upon the hem of the Redeemer's garment. They would bid the man who is crying aloud by the wayside to hold his tongue; to sit still quietly till Christ should turn and look upon him. They cannot endure that Christ Jesus should invite men to his feast, much less that the servants of the Lord should endeavor to compel them to come in. They excuse the sinner and even dare to teach that the rejection of Christ by the sinner, is no sin at all. Now, as in the sight of God, I do fear such men are guilty of the blood of souls. I would not stand in the position of a man who talks like that for all the stars thrice reckoned up in gold. I cannot understand that; I cannot understand that when my Master said, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed," that I am to tell a sinner to sit still. When the angel said, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee; stay not in all the plain; but flee to the mountain, lest thou be consumed," am I to go to Sodom, and say to Lot, "Stop here till the Lord brings you out?" Why, we know, of a surety, that salvation is the Lord's work, and the Lord's work alone; but we equally know of a surety, that when the Lord works, he sets us to work. When he works in our soul, the Lord does not believe; he has nothing to believe, he makes us believe. When the Lord works repentance, he does not repent what has he to repent of? He makes us repent. The Lord brought Lot out of Sodom, but did not Lot use his own legs to run to the mountain? And so it must be with us. Christ does all, but he makes us the instruments. He tells us to stretch out our own withered hand, and yet we do not stretch forth that withered hand of ourselves. He tells us to do it, and we do it through his strength. Tell a sinner to sit still! What does hell desire more than that? Tell a sinner to wait; would not Satan approve of such a ministry? And does he not approve of it? Ah, my brethren, he that loves his Master, he that loves the gospel, he that loves men's souls cannot preach such untruthful and unchristian doctrine. He feels that the humanity within him is much more the grace within him, revolts against a thing so barbarous and so inhuman as that. No, when we preach to the sinner, we must say to him, "Thou knowest thy need, thou feelest that thou canst not be saved except through mercy in Christ. Look to him, believe on him, seek him, and thou shalt find him."
But I have heard it said, that if a sinner seeks Christ without Christ seeking him he will perish. Now what an absurd thing for anybody to say. Because, did a sinner, or could a sinner ever seek Christ without Christ seeking him. I never like to suppose an impossibility, and then draw an inference from it. "Suppose," said one, I know of—"a sinner should come to Christ without Christ coming to him, he would be lost." Well, that is very clear, only it is supposing a thing that cannot happen; and what is the good of that? Sometimes people have put to me this question—"Suppose a child of God should live in sin, and die in sin, would he be saved?" The thing is impossible. If you suppose yourself into a difficulty, you must suppose yourself out of it. It is like the old supposition, "Suppose the moon were cream cheese, what would become of us on a dark night?" So, suppose a sinner should come to Christ without Christ coming to him, what could be the result? It is supposing an impossibility, and then drawing an absurdity from it. Christ said, "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." If a sinner comes, he is drawn, or he would not have come. It is mine, therefore, to exhort the sinner to come to Christ; it is the Holy Spirit's work to enforce the exhortation, and draw the sinner to Christ.
Lastly, let me put this question, "Why do ye look one upon another?" Why do ye sit still? Fly to Christ, and find mercy. Oh, says one, "I cannot get what I expect to have." But what do you expect? I believe some of our hearers expect to feel an electric shock, or something of that kind, before they are saved. The gospel says simply, "Believer." That they will not understand. They think there is to be something so mysterious about it. They can't make out what it is; but they are going to wait for it and then believe. Well, you will wait till doomsday; for if you do not believe this simple gospel, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," God will not work signs and wonders to please your foolish desires. Your position is this—you are a sinner, lost, ruined; you cannot help yourself. Scripture says, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Your immediate business, your instantaneous duty is to cast yourself on that simple promise, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that as he came into the world to save sinners, he has therefore come to save you. What you have to do with, is that simple command—"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt he saved." Now take the sons of Jacob as your example. No sooner had their father told them what they had to do than the first thing they did was, they went and fetched their empty sacks. Now do the same. "What is the good of them?" you say; "there is no corn in them." No I know there is not, still you must take your empty sacks and have them filled. Bring out your sins; bring out all the aggravation of your sins; cast them all at the feet of Christ, and make your confession. There is no salvation in confession, but still you cannot have salvation without it. You must make a full and free confession of your sins. "What, to you, sir?" I am extremely obliged to you. I would not hear your sins on any account. No sum of money would be sufficient compensation for the impurity that must accrue to any man who shall hear another's sins. I would not tell you mine; much less hear your's. No, make your confessions to God. Go to your closet; shut to your door; then pull out your empty seeks—that is, make a full confession of your sins; tell the Lord that you are a wretch undone without his sovereign grace. When you have done that, you say, what next? Then cast away all hope you ever had or have, put away all trust in your good works and everything else; and what next? Cast yourself simply on this great truth, that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and you shall rise from your knees a happier man. Or if that is not the case, try it again, and again, and again, and it shall not fail you. Prayer and faith were never lost. He who confessed his sins and sought the Saviour never roughs in vain. When I was first convinced of sin, yet a lad, I did go to God and I cried for mercy with all my might, but I did not find it. I do not think I knew what the gospel was. For three year's I persevered in that; and many a day, in every room of the house in which I lived, as each room became unoccupied, upon an occasion, have I spent hours in prayer, the tears rolling down my cheeks, and straining myself in an agony of desire to find Christ and find salvation. But it never came. It was not until I heard that simple doctrine, "Look unto me and be ye saved." I then found that my prayers were a kind of righteousness of my own that I was relying on them, and consequent was on the wrong road. Then did the Holy Spirit enable me to look to Christ hanging on the cross. I did not give up my prayers, but I did put the Lord Jesus, the object of my faith, far above all prayers, and then when I had looked to him hanging, dying, bleeding, my soul rejoiced, and I fell upon my knees no more to cry with agony, but to exclaim with delight, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." But if in that day, instead of simply looking to Christ, I had said, "No, Lord, I will not wash in Jordan and be clean. I will wait till Elijah comes out and strikes the leper with his hand; I will not look to the brazen serpent. That is legal preaching, that is Arminian doctrine. I will wait till the serpent knocks right against my eyes," it would have never come. But having looked simply to Christ, I cast all my other trust away; and how my soul rejoices in the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free. So shall it be with you. The gospel is this day freely preached to you. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down from heaven, was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; and was crucified for sin. Turn now your eyes to yonder cross. Behold a God expiring. Behold the Infinite hanging on the tree in pangs. Those sufferings must save you; will you rely upon them? Without any other trust, shall the cross be the unbuttressed pillar of your hope? If so, you are saved. The moment you believe in Jesus, the Redeemer, you are saved, your sins are forgiven; God has accepted you as his child; you are in a state of grace; you are passed from death unto life. Not only are you not condemned but you never shall be. There is for you a crown, a harp, a mansion, in the realms of the glorified. Oh that God may help you now to go down into Egypt for heavenly corn, and may you return with your sacks full to the brim.
In conclusion, I make this last remark. —Did you notice the argument Jacob used why the sons should go to Egypt? It was this—"That we may live, and not die." Sinner, this is my argument with thee this morning. My dear hearers, the gospel of Christ is a matter of life and death with you. It is not a matter of little importance, but of all importance. There is an alternative before you; you will either be eternally damned, or everlastingly saved. Despise Christ, and neglect his great salvation, and you will be lost, as sure as you live. Believe in Christ; put your trust alone in him, and everlasting life is yours. What argument can be more potent than this to men that love themselves? Are you prepared for everlasting burnings? Friend, art thou ready to make thy bed in hell, and to be lost? If so, reject Christ. But if thou desirest to be blessed for ever, to be accepted of God in the tremendous day of judgment, and to be crowned by him in the day of the reward, I beseech thee, hear again the gospel, and obey it. "He that believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." For this is the gospel; it is yet again preached to you, and this is its solitary mandate—"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." O Lord, help us now to believe, if we have not believed before, for Jesus' sake!