Number Two-thousand; or, Healing by the Stripes of Jesus
“With his stripes we are healed.”— Isaiah liii. 5.
BEING one evening in Exeter Hall, I heard our late beloved brother, Mr. Mackay, of Hull, make a speech, in which he told us of a person who was under very deep concern of soul, and felt that he could never rest till he found salvation. So, taking the Bible into his hand, he said to himself, “Eternal life is to be found somewhere in this Word of God; and if it be here, I will find it, for I will read the Book right through, praying to God over every page of it, if perchance it may contain some saving message for me.” He told us that the earnest seeker read on through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and so on; and though Christ is there very evidently, he could not find him in the types and symbols. Neither did the holy histories yield him comfort, nor the book of Job. He passed through the Psalms, but did not find his Saviour there; and the same was the case with the other books till he reached Isaiah. In this prophet he read on till near the end, and then in the fifty-third chapter, these words arrested his delighted attention, “With his stripes we are healed.” “Now I have found it,” says he. “Here is the healing that I need for my sin-sick soul, and I see how it comes to me through the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be his name, I am healed!” It was well that the seeker was wise enough to search the sacred volume; it was better still that in that volume there should be such a life-giving word, and that the Holy Spirit should reveal it to the seeker’s heart. I said to myself, “That text will suit me well, and peradventure a voice from God may speak through it yet again to some other awakened sinner.” May he, who by these words spoke to the chamberlain of the Ethiopian queen, who also was impressed with them while in the act of searching the Scripture, speak also to many who shall hear or read this sermon! Let us pray that it may be so. God is very gracious, and he will hear our prayers.
The object of my discourse is very simple: I would come to the text, and I would come at you. May the Holy Spirit give me power to do both to the glory of God!
I. In endeavouring to come to the full meaning of the text, I would remark, first, that GOD, IN INFINITE MERCY, HERE TREATS SIN AS A DISEASE. “With his stripes”— that is, the stripes of the Lord Jesus “we are healed.” Through the sufferings of our Lord, sin is pardoned, and we are delivered from the power of evil: this is regarded as the healing of a deadly malady. The Lord in this present life treats sin as a disease. If he were to treat it at once as sin, and summon us to his bar to answer for it, we should at once sink beyond the reach of hope, for we could not answer his accusations, nor defend ourselves from his justice. In great mercy he looks upon us with pity, and for the while treats our ill manners as if they were diseases to be cured rather than rebellions to be punished. It is most gracious on his part to do so; for while sin is a disease, it is a great deal more. If our iniquities were the result of an unavoidable sickness, we might claim pity rather than censure; but we sin wilfully, we choose evil, we transgress in heart, and therefore we bear a moral responsibility which makes sin an infinite evil. Our sin is our crime rather than our calamity: however, God looks at it in another way for a season. That he may be able to deal with us on hopeful grounds, he looks at the sickness of sin, and not as yet at the wickedness of sin. Nor is this without reason, for men who indulge in gross vices are often charitably judged by their fellows to be not only wholly wicked, but partly mad. Propensities to evil are usually associated with a greater or less degree of mental disease; perhaps, also, of physical disease. At any rate, sin is a spiritual malady of the worst kind.
Sin is a disease, for it is not essential to manhood, nor an integral part of human nature as God created it. Man was never more fully and truly man than he was before he fell; and he who is specially called “the Son of man” knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; yet was he perfectly man. Sin is abnormal; a sort of cancerous growth, which ought not to be within the soul. Sin is disturbing to manhood: sin unmans a man. Sin is sadly destructive to man; it takes the crown from his head, the light from his mind, and the joy from his heart. We may name many grievous diseases which are the destroyers of our race, but the greatest of these is sin: sin, indeed, is the fatal egg from which all other sicknesses have been hatched. It is the fountain and source of all mortal maladies.
It is a disease, because it puts the whole system of the man out of order. It places the lower faculties in the higher place, for it makes the body master over the soul. The man should ride the horse; but in the sinner the horse rides the man. The mind should keep the animal instincts and propensities in check; but in many men the animal crushes the mental and the spiritual. For instance, how many live as if eating and drinking were the chief objects of existence: they live to eat, instead of eating to live! The faculties are thrown out of gear by sin, so that they act fitfully and irregularly; you cannot depend upon any one of them keeping its place. The equilibrium of the life-forces is grievously disturbed. Even as a sickness of body is called a disorder, so is sin the disorder of the soul. Human nature is out of joint, and out of health, and man is no longer man: he is dead through sin, even as he was warned of old, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Man is marred, bruised, sick, paralyzed, polluted, rotten with disease, just in proportion as sin has shown its true character.
Sin, like disease, operates to weaken man. The moral energy is broken down so as scarcely to exist in some men. The conscience labours under a fatal consumption, and is gradually ruined by a decline; the understanding has been lamed by evil, and the will is rendered feeble for good, though forcible for evil. The principle of integrity, the resolve of virtue, in which a man’s true strength really lies, is sapped and undermined by wrong-doing. Sin is like a secret flow of blood, which robs the vital parts of their essential nourishment. How near to death in some men is even the power to discern between good and evil! The apostle tells us that, when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly; and this being without strength is the direct result of the sickness of sin, which has weakened our whole manhood.
Sin is a disease which in some cases causes extreme pain and anguish, but in other instances deadens sensibility. It frequently happens that, the more sinful a man is, the less he is conscious of it. It was remarked of a certain notorious criminal that many thought him innocent because, when he was charged with murder, he did not betray the least emotion. In that wretched self-possession there was to my mind presumptive proof of his great familiarity with crime: if an innocent person is charged with a great offence, the mere charge horrifies him. It is only by weighing all the circumstances, and distinguishing between sin and shame, that he recovers himself. He who can do the deed of shame does not blush when he is charged with it. The deeper a man goes in sin, the less does he allow that it is sin. Like a man who takes opium, he acquires the power to take larger and larger doses, till that which would kill a hundred other men has but slight effect upon him. A man who readily lies is scarcely conscious of the moral degradation involved in being a liar, though he may think it shameful to be called so. It is one of the worst points of this disease of sin that it stupefies the understanding, and causes a paralysis of the conscience.
By-and-by sin is sure to cause pain, like other diseases which flesh is heir to; and when its awakening comes, what a start it gives! Conscience one day will awake, and fill the guilty soul with alarm and distress, if not in this world, yet certainly in the next. Then will it be seen what an awful thing it is to offend against the law of the Lord.
Sin is a disease which pollutes a man. Certain diseases render a man horribly impure. God is the best judge of purity, for he is thrice holy, and he cannot endure sin. The Lord puts sin from him with abhorrence, and prepares a place where the finally-unclean shall be shut up by themselves. He will not dwell with them here, neither can they dwell with him in heaven. As men must put lepers apart by themselves, so justice must put out of the heavenly world everything which defileth. O my hearer, shall the Lord be compelled to put you out of his presence because you persist in wickedness?
And this disease, which is so polluting, is, at the same time, most injurious to us, from the fact that it prevents the higher enjoyment and employment of life. Men exist in sin, but they do not truly live: as the Scripture saith, such an one is dead while he liveth. While we continue in sin, we cannot serve God on earth, nor hope to enjoy him for ever above. We are incapable of communion with perfect spirits, and with God himself; and the loss of this communion is the greatest of all evils. Sin deprives us of spiritual sight, hearing, feeling, and taste, and thus deprives us of those joys which turn existence into life. It brings upon us true death, so that we exist in ruins, deprived of all which can be called life.
This disease is fatal: Is it not written, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”? “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” There is no hope of eternal life for any man unless sin be put away. This disease never exhausts itself so as to be its own destroyer. Evil men wax worse and worse. In another world, as well as in this present state, character will, no doubt, go on to develop and ripen, and so the sinner will become more and more corrupt as the result of his spiritual death. O my friends, if you refuse Christ, sin will be the death of your peace, your joy, your prospects, your hopes, and thus the death of all that is worth having! In the case of other diseases nature may conquer the malady, and you may be restored; but in this case, apart from divine interposition, nothing lies before you but eternal death.
God, therefore, treats sin as a disease, because it is a disease; and I want you to feel that it is so, for then you will thank the Lord for thus dealing with you. Many of us have felt that sin is a disease, and we have been healed of it. Oh, that others could see what an exceedingly evil thing it is to sin against the Lord! It is a contagious, defiling, incurable, mortal sickness.
Perhaps somebody says, “Why do you raise these points? They fill us with unpleasant thoughts.” I do it for the reason given by the engineer who built the great Menai Tubular Bridge. When it was being erected, some brother engineers said to him, “You raise all manner of difficulties.” “Yes,” he said, “I raise them that I may solve them.” So do we at this time dilate upon the sad state of man by nature, that we may the better set forth the glorious remedy of which our text so sweetly speaks.
II. God treats sin as a disease, and HE HERE DECLARES THE REMEDY WHICH HE HAS PROVIDED: “With his stripes we are healed.”
I ask you very solemnly to accompany me in your meditations, for a few minutes, while I bring before you the stripes of the Lord Jesus. The Lord resolved to restore us, and therefore he sent his Only-begotten Son, “Very God of very God,” that he might descend into this world to take upon himself our nature, in order to our redemption. He lived as a man among men; and, in due time, after thirty years or more of service, the time came when he should do us the greatest service of all, namely, stand in our stead, and bear the chastisement of our peace. He went to Gethsemane, and there, at the first taste of our bitter cup, he sweat great drops of blood. He went to Pilate’s hall, and Herod’s judgment-seat, and there drank draughts of pain and scorn in our room and place. Last of all, they took him to the cross, and nailed him there to die— to die in our stead, “the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” The word “stripes” is used to set forth his sufferings, both of body and of soul. The whole of Christ was made a sacrifice for us: his whole manhood suffered. As to his body, it shared with his mind in a grief that never can be described. In the beginning of his passion, when he emphatically suffered instead of us, he was in an agony, and from his bodily frame a bloody sweat distilled so copiously as to fall to the ground. It is very rarely that a man sweats blood. There have been one or two instances of it, and they have been followed by almost immediate death; but our Saviour lived— lived after an agony which, to any one else, would have proved fatal. Ere he could cleanse his face from this dreadful crimson, they hurried him to the high priest’s hall. In the dead of night they bound him and led him away. Anon they took him to Pilate and to Herod. These scourged him, and their soldiers spat in his face, and buffeted him, and put on his head a crown of thorns. Scourging is one of the most awful tortures that can be inflicted by malice. It is to the eternal disgrace of Englishmen that they should have permitted the “cat” to be used upon the soldier; but to the Homan cruelty was so natural that he made his common punishments worse than brutal. The Homan scourge is said to have been made of the sinews of oxen, twisted into knots, and into these knots were inserted slivers of bone, and hucklebones of sheep; so that every time the scourge fell upon the bare back, “the plowers made deep furrows.” Our Saviour was called upon to endure the fierce pain of the Homan scourge, and this not as the finis of his punishment, but as a preliminary to crucifixion. To this they added buffeting, and plucking of the hair: they spared him no form of pain. In all his faintness, through bleeding and fasting, they made him carry his cross until another was forced, by the forethought of their cruelty, to bear it, lest their victim should die on the road. They stripped him, and threw him down, and nailed him to the wood. They pierced his hands and his feet. They lifted up the tree, with him upon it, and then dashed it down into its place in the ground, so that all his limbs were dislocated, according to the lament of the twenty-second psalm, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.” He hung in the burning sun till the fever dissolved his strength, and he said, “My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” There he hung, a spectacle to God and men. The weight of his body was first sustained by his feet, till the nails tore through the tender nerves: and then the painful load began to drag upon his hands, and rend those sensitive parts of his frame. How small a wound in the hand has brought on lockjaw! How awful must have been the torment caused by that dragging iron tearing through the delicate parts of the hands and feet! Now were all manner of bodily pains centred in his tortured frame. All the while his enemies stood around, pointing at him in scorn, thrusting out their tongues in mockery, jesting at his prayers, and gloating over his sufferings. He cried, “I thirst,” and then they gave him vinegar mingled with gall. After a while he said, “It is finished.” He had endured the utmost of appointed grief, and had made full vindication to divine justice: then, and not till then, he gave up the ghost. Holy men of old have enlarged most lovingly upon the bodily sufferings of our Lord, and I have no hesitation in doing the same, trusting that trembling sinners may see salvation in these painful “stripes” of the Redeemer.
To describe the outward sufferings of our Lord is not easy: I acknowledge that I have failed. But his soul-sufferings, which were the soul of his sufferings, who can even conceive, much less express, what they were? At the very first I told you that he sweat great drops of blood. That was his heart driving out its life-floods to the surface through the terrible depression of spirit which was upon him. He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” The betrayal by Judas, and the desertion of the twelve, grieved our Lord; but the weight of our sin was the real pressure on his heart. Our guilt was the olive-press which forced from him the moisture of his life. No language can ever tell his agony in prospect of his passion; how little then can we conceive the passion itself? When nailed to the cross he endured what no martyr ever suffered; for martyrs, when they have died, have been so sustained of God that they have rejoiced amid their pain; but our Redeemer was forsaken of his Father, until he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” That was the bitterest cry of all, the utmost depth of his unfathomable grief. Yet was it needful that he should be deserted, because God must turn his back on sin, and consequently upon him who was made sin for us. The soul of the great Substitute suffered a horror of misery, instead of that horror of hell into which sinners would have been plunged had he not taken their sin upon himself, and been made a curse for them. It is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”; but who knows what that curse means?
The remedy for your sins and mine is found in the substitutionary sufferings of the Lord Jesus, and in these only. These “stripes” of the Lord Jesus Christ were on our behalf. Do you enquire, “Is there anything for us to do, to remove the guilt of sin?” I answer: There is nothing whatever for you to do. By the stripes of Jesus we are healed. All those stripes he has endured, and left not one of them for us to bear.
“But must we not believe on him?” Ay, certainly. If I say of a certain ointment that it heals, I do not deny that you need a bandage with which to apply it to the wound. Faith is the linen which binds the plaster of Christ’s reconciliation to the sore of our sin. The linen does not heal; that is the work of the ointment. So faith does not heal; that is the work of the atonement of Christ.
Does an enquirer reply, “But surely I must do something, or suffer something”? I answer: You must put nothing with Jesus Christ, or you greatly dishonour him. In order to your salvation, you must rely upon the wounds of Jesus Christ, and nothing else; for the text does not say, “His stripes help to heal us,” but, “With his stripes we are healed.”
“But we must repent,” cries another. Assuredly we must, and shall, for repentance is the first sign of healing; but the stripes of Jesus heal us, and not our repentance. These stripes, when applied to the heart, work repentance in us: we hate sin because it made Jesus suffer.
When you intelligently trust in Jesus as having suffered for you, then you discover the fact that God will never punish you for the same offence for which Jesus died. His justice will not permit him to see the debt paid, first, by the Surety, and then again by the debtor. Justice cannot twice demand a recompense: if my bleeding Surety has borne my guilt, then I cannot bear it. Accepting Christ Jesus as suffering for me, I have accepted a complete discharge from judicial liability. I have been condemned in Christ, and there is, therefore, now no condemnation to me any more. This is the groundwork of the security of the sinner who believes in Jesus: he lives because Jesus died in his room, and place, and stead; and he is acceptable before God because Jesus is accepted. The person for whom Jesus is an accepted Substitute must go free; none can touch him; he is clear. O my hearer, wilt thou have Jesus Christ to be thy Substitute? If so, thou art free. “He that believeth on him is not condemned.” Thus “with his stripes we are healed.”
III. I have tried to put before you the disease and the remedy; I now desire to notice the fact that THIS REMEDY IS IMMEDIATELY EFFECTIVE WHEREVER IT IS APPLIED. The stripes of Jesus do heal men: they have healed many of us. It does not look as if it could effect so great a cure, but the fact is undeniable. I often hear people say, “If you preach up this faith in Jesus Christ as saving men, they will be careless about holy living.” I am as good a witness on that point as anybody, for I live every day in the midst of men who are trusting to the stripes of Jesus for their salvation, and I have seen no ill effect following from such a trust; but I have seen the very reverse. I bear testimony that I have seen the very worst of men become the very best of men by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. These stripes heal in a surprising manner the moral diseases of those who seemed past remedy.
The character is healed. I have seen the drunkard become sober, the harlot become chaste, the passionate man become gentle, the covetous man become liberal, and the liar become truthful, simply by trusting in the sufferings of Jesus. If it did not make good men of them, it would not really do anything for them, for you must judge men by their fruits after all; and if the fruits are not changed the tree is not changed. Character is everything: if the character be not set right, the man is not saved. But we say it without fear of contradiction, that the atoning sacrifice, applied to the heart, heals the disease of sin. If you doubt it, try it. He that believes in Jesus is sanctified as well as justified; by faith he becomes henceforth an altogether changed man.
The conscience is healed of its smart. Sin crushed the man’s soul; he was spiritless and joyless, but the moment he believed in Jesus he leaped into light. Often you can see a change in the very look of the man’s face; the cloud flies from the countenance when guilt goes from the conscience. Scores of times, when I have been talking with those bowed down with sin’s burden, they have looked as though they were qualifying for an asylum through inward grief; but they have caught the thought, “ Christ stood for me; and if I trust in him, I have the sign that he did so, and I am clear,” and their faces have been lit up as with a glimpse of heaven.
Gratitude for such great mercy causes a change of thought towards God, and so it heals the judgment, and by this means the affections are turned in the right way, and the heart is healed. Sin is no longer loved, but God is loved, and holiness is desired. The whole man is healed, and the whole life changed. Many of you know how light of heart faith in Jesus makes you, how the troubles of life lose their weight, and the fear of death ceases to cause bondage. You rejoice in the Lord, for the blessed remedy of the stripes of Jesus is applied to your soul by faith in him.
The fact that “with his stripes we are healed” is a matter in evidence. I shall take liberty to bear my own witness. If it were necessary, I could call thousands of persons, my daily acquaintances, who can say that with the stripes of Christ they are healed; but I must not therefore withhold my personal testimony. If I had suffered from a dreadful disease, and a physician had given me a remedy which had healed me, I should not be ashamed to tell you all about it; but I would quote my own case as an argument with you to try my physician. Years ago, when I was a youth, the burden of my sin was exceedingly heavy upon me. I had fallen into no gross vices, and should not have been regarded by any one as being specially a transgressor; but I regarded myself as such, and I had good reason for so doing. My conscience was sensitive because it was enlightened; and I judged that, having had a godly father, and a praying mother, and having been trained in the ways of piety, I had sinned against much light, and consequently there was a greater degree of guilt in my sin than in that of others who were my youthful associates, but had not enjoyed my advantages. I could not enjoy the sports of youth because I felt that I had done violence to my conscience. I would seek my chamber, and there sit alone, read my Bible, and pray for forgiveness; but peace did not come to me. Books such as Baxter’s “Call to the Unconverted,” and Doddridge’s “Rise and Progress,” I read Over and over again. Early in the morning I would awake, and read the most earnest religious books I could find, desiring to be eased of my burden of sin. I was not always thus dull, but at times my misery of soul was very great. The words of the weeping prophet and of Job were such as suited my mournful case. I would have chosen death rather than life. I tried to do as well as I could, and to behave myself aright; but in my own judgment I grew worse and worse. I felt more and more despondent. I attended every place of worship within my reach, but I heard nothing which gave me lasting comfort till one day I heard a simple preacher of the gospel speak from the text, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” When he told me that all I had to do was to “look” to Jesus— to Jesus the crucified One, I could scarcely believe it. He went on, and said, “Look, look, look!” He added, “There is a young man, under the left-hand gallery there, who is very miserable: he will have no peace until he looks to Jesus”; and then he cried, “Look! Look! Young man, look!” I did look; and in that moment relief came to me, and I felt such overflowing joy that I could have stood up, and cried, “Hallelujah! Glory be to God, I am delivered from the burden of my sin!” Many days have passed since then; but my faith has held me up, and compelled me to tell out the story of free grace and dying love. I can truly say—
“E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.”
I hope to sit up in my bed in my last hours, and tell of the stripes that healed me. I hope some young men, yea, and old men before me, will at once try this remedy; it is good for all characters, and all ages. “With his stripes we are healed.” Thousands upon thousands of us have tried and proved this remedy. We speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen. God grant that men may receive our witness through the power of the Holy Spirit!
I want a few minutes’ talk with those who have not tried this marvellous heal-all. Let us come to close quarters. Friend, you are by nature in need of soul-healing as much as any of us, and one reason why you do not care about the remedy is, because you do not believe that you are sick. I saw a pedlar one day, as I was walking out: he was selling walking-sticks. He followed me, and offered me one of the sticks. I showed him mine— a far better one than any he had to sell— and he withdrew at once. He could see that I was not likely to be a purchaser. I have often thought of that when I have been preaching: I show men the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, but they show me their own, and all hope of dealing with them is gone. Unless I can prove that their righteousness is worthless, they will not seek the righteousness which is of God by faith. Oh, that the Lord would show you your disease, and then you would desire the remedy!
It may be that you do not care to hear of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ah, my dear friends! you will have to hear of him one of these days, either for your salvation or your condemnation. The Lord has the key of your heart, and I trust he will give you a better mind; and whenever this shall happen, your memory will recall my simple discourse, and you will say, “I do remember. Yes, I heard the preacher declare that there is healing in the wounds of Christ.”
I pray you do not put off seeking the Lord; that would be great presumption on your part, and a sad provocation to him. But, should you have put it off, I pray you do not let the devil tell you it is too late. It is never too late while life lasts. I have read in books that very few people are converted after they are forty years of age. My solemn conviction is that there is but little truth in such a statement. I have seen as many people converted at one age as at another in proportion to the number of people who are living at that age. Any first Sunday in the month you may see the right-hand of fellowship given to from thirty to eighty people who have been brought in during the month; and if you take stock of them, there will be found to be a selection representing every age, from childhood up to old age. The precious blood of Jesus has power to heal long-rooted sin. It makes old hearts new. If you were a thousand years old, I would exhort you to believe in Jesus, and I should be sure that his stripes would heal you. Your hair is nearly gone, old friend, and furrows appear on your brow; but come along! You are rotting away with sin, but this medicine meets desperate cases! Poor, old tottering pensioner, put your trust in Jesus, for with his stripes the old and the dying are healed!
Now, my dear hearers, you are at this moment either healed or not. You are either healed by grace, or you are still in your natural sickness. Will you be so kind to yourselves as to enquire which it is? Many say, “We know what we are”; but certain more thoughtful ones reply, “We don’t quite know.” Friend, you ought to know, and you should know. Suppose I asked a man, “Are you a bankrupt or not?” and he said, “I really have no time to look at my books, and therefore I am not sure.” I should suspect that he could not pay twenty shillings in the pound: should not you? Whenever a man is afraid to look at his books, I suspect that he has something to be afraid of. So, whenever a person says, “I don’t know my condition, and I don’t care to think much about it,” you may pretty safely conclude that things are wrong with him. You ought to know whether you are saved or not.
“I hope I am saved,” says one, “but I do not know the date of my conversion.” That does not matter at all. It is a pleasant thing for a person to know his birthday; but when persons are not sure of the exact date of their birth, they do not, therefore, infer that they are not alive. If a person does not know token he was converted, that is no proof that he is not converted. The point is, do you trust Jesus Christ? Has that trust made a new man of you? Has your confidence in Christ made you feel that you have been forgiven? Has that made you love God for having forgiven you, and has that love become the mainspring of your being, so that out of love to God you delight to obey him? Then you are a healed man. If you do not believe in Jesus, be sure that you are still unhealed, and I pray you look at my text until you are led by grace to say, “I am healed, for I have trusted in the stripes of Jesus.”
Suppose, for a moment, you are not healed, let me ask the question, “Why are you not?” You know the gospel: why are you not healed by Christ? “I don’t know,” says one. But, my dear friend, I beseech you do not rest until you do know.
“I can’t get at it,” says somebody. The other day a young girl was putting a button on her father’s coat. She was sitting with her back to the window, and she said, “Father, I can’t see; I am in my own light.” He said, “Ah, my daughter, that is where you have been all your life!” This is the position of some of you spiritually. You are in your own light: you think too much of yourselves. There is plenty of light in the Sun of Righteousness, but you get in the dark by putting self in the way of that Sun. Oh, that your self might be put away! I read a touching story the other day as to how one found peace. A young man had been for some time under a sense of sin, longing to find mercy; but he could not reach it. He was a telegraph clerk, and being in the office one morning he had to receive and transmit a telegram. To his great surprise, he spelt out these words— “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” A gentleman out for a holiday was telegraphing a message in answer to a letter from a friend who was in trouble of soul.
It was meant for another, but he that transmitted it received eternal life, as the words came flashing into his soul.
O dear friends, get out of your own light, and at once, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”! I cannot telegraph the words to you, but I would put them before you so plainly and distinctly that every one in trouble of soul may know that they are meant for him. There lies your hope— not in yourself, but in the Lamb of God. Behold him; and as you behold him your sin shall be put away, and by his stripes you shall be healed.
If, dear friend, you are healed, this is my last word to you; then get out of diseased company. Come away from the companions that have infected you with sin. Come ye out from among them, be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing. If you are healed, praise the Healer, and acknowledge what he has done for you. There were ten lepers healed, but only one returned to praise the healing hand. Do not be among the ungrateful nine. If you have found Christ, confess his name. Confess it in his own appointed way. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” When you have thus confessed him, speak out for him. Tell what Jesus has done for your soul, and dedicate yourself to the holy purpose of spreading abroad the message by which you have been healed.
I met this week with something that pleased me— how one man, being healed, may be the means of blessing to another. Many years ago I preached a sermon in Exeter Hall, which was printed, and entitled, “Salvation to the uttermost.” A friend, who lives not very far from this place, was in the city of Para, in Brazil. Here he heard of an Englishman in prison, who had in a state of drunkenness committed a murder, for which he was confined for life. Our friend went to see him, and found him deeply penitent, but quietly restful, and happy in the Lord. He had felt the terrible wound of blood-guiltiness in his soul, but it had been healed, and he felt the bliss of pardon. Here is the story of the poor man’s conversion as I have it:— “A young man, who had just completed his contract with the gas-works, was returning to England, but before doing so he called to see me, and brought with him a parcel of books. When I opened it, I found that they were novels; but, being able to read, I was thankful for anything. After I had read several of the books, I found a sermon (No. 84), preached by C. H. Spurgeon, in Exeter Hall, on June 8th, 1856, from the words, ‘Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost,’ & c. (Hebrews vii. 25.) In his discourse, Mr. Spurgeon referred to Palmer, who was then lying under sentence of death in Stafford Gaol, and in order to bring home this text to his hearers, he said that if Palmer had committed many other murders, if he repents and seeks God’s pardoning love in Christ, even he will be forgiven! I then felt that if Palmer could be forgiven, so might I. I sought, and blessed be God, I found. I am pardoned, I am free; I am a sinner saved by grace. Though a murderer, I have not yet sinned ‘beyond the uttermost,’ blessed be his holy name!” It made me very happy to think that a poor condemned murderer could thus be converted. Surely there is hope for every hearer and reader of this sermon, however guilty he may be!
If you know Christ, tell others about him. You do not know what good there is in making Jesus known, even though all you can do is to give a tract, or repeat a verse. Dr. Valpy, the author of a great many class-books, wrote the following simple lines as his confession of faith:—
“In peace let me resign my breath,
And thy salvation see;
My sins deserve eternal death,
But Jesus died for me.”
Valpy is dead and gone; but he gave those lines to dear old Dr. Marsh, the Rector of Beckenham, who put them over his study mantel-shelf. The Earl of Roden came in, and read them. “Will you give me a copy of those lines?” said the good earl. “I shall be glad,” said Dr. Marsh, and he copied them. Lord Roden took them home, and put them over his mantel-shelf. General Taylor, a Waterloo hero, came into the room, and noticed them. He read them over and over again, while staying with Earl Roden, till his Lordship remarked, “I say, friend Taylor, I should think you know those lines by heart.” He answered, “I do know them by heart; indeed, my very heart has grasped their meaning.” He was brought to Christ by that humble rhyme. General Taylor handed those lines to an officer in the army, who was going out to the Crimean war. He came home to die; and when Dr. Marsh went to see him, the poor soul in his weakness said, “Good sir, do you know this verse which General Taylor gave to me? It brought me to my Saviour, and I die in peace.” To Dr. Marsh’s surprise, he repeated the lines:—
“In peace let me resign my breath,
And thy salvation see;
My sins deserve eternal death,
But Jesus died for me.”
Only think of the good which four simple lines may do. Be encouraged all of you who know the healing power of the wounds of Jesus. Spread this truth by all means. Never mind how simple the language. Tell it out: tell it out everywhere, and in every way, even if you cannot do it in any other way than by copying a verse out of a hymnbook. Tell it out that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. May God bless you, dear friends! Pray for me that this sermon of mine which is numbered TWO-THOUSAND, may be a very fruitful one.