Only Trust Him! Only Trust Him!
“And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.”— Luke xvii. 12— 14.
SEVERAL interesting topics might fairly be found in these verses. We see here the abounding fruit of sin, for here were ten lepers in a group, and the abundance of divine power to meet it, for they were all cleansed. So also we see how Christ must come first, and ceremonies second: first the work of grace, and then the outward showing of it. The Lord’s tenderness towards outcasts, his attention to prayers from a distance, and his regard for the ceremonial law so long as it was in force, might each one yield an instructive meditation. I have, however, only one thought which I wish to bring under your notice, and to press upon you, perhaps almost to repetition and monotony. That thought I would engrave as with an iron pen upon the hearts and minds of all here present who desire to find eternal salvation. May the Holy Ghost imprint it upon every living soul.
These ten lepers were required by the Saviour to perform an act of faith in him before they had the slightest evidence in themselves that he had wrought a good work upon them. Before they began to feel their foul blood cleansed, before the horrible dryness of leprosy had yielded to healthy perspiration, they were to go towards the house in which the priest lived to be examined by him and to be pronounced clean. They were to exhibit faith in Christ Jesus’s power to heal them by going to exhibit themselves as healed, though as yet they were in the same condition as before. They were to start to the place where they should be examined by the priest, believing that Jesus had healed them, or would heal them, though, as yet, they had no internal evidence whatever that their flesh should become as that of a little child. This is the point I wish to dwell upon— that the Lord Jesus Christ bids sinners believe in him, and trust their souls to him, though they may not yet discern in themselves any work of his grace. Just as these men were lepers, and nothing but lepers, so you may be sinners, and nothing but sinners, and yet you are bidden to exhibit faith in Jesus Christ while you are just what you are. As these men were to start straight away to the priest with all their leprosy white upon them, and to go there as if they felt they were already healed, so are you, with all your sinnership upon you, and your sense of condemnation heavy on your soul, to believe in Jesus Christ just as you are, and you shall find everlasting life upon the spot. This is my point, and it is of the first importance. Sinners, as sinners, are to believe in Jesus for everlasting life. The voice to each one of them is, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life.”
Now, first, I shall notice what signs are commonly looked for by unconverted men as reasons for believing in Christ; which, indeed, are no reasons at all: then, secondly, I shall try to show what is the real ground and reason for faith in Christ; and, thirdly, what will be the issue of a faith in Christ similar to that of the lepers.
I. First, then, I say that we are to believe in Jesus Christ him to heal us of the great disease of sin— though as yet we— may to trust have about us no sign or token that he has wrought any good work upon us. We are not to look for signs and evidences within ourselves before we venture our souls upon Jesus. The contrary supposition is a soul-destroying error, and I will try to expose it by showing WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT ARE COMMONLY LOOKED FOR BY MEN.
One of the most frequent is a consciousness of great sin, and a horrible dread of divine wrath, leading to despair. Strange to say, we constantly meet with persons who say, “I could believe in Jesus Christ if I felt more burdened by a sense of sin. I could trust him if I were driven more entirely to despondency and to despair; but I am not depressed enough I am not broken-hearted enough; I am sure I am not brought low enough, and therefore I cannot trust Christ.” Strange notion, that if the night were darker we should see the better! Strange idea, that if we were nearer death we should have better hope of life! Now, my friend, you are speaking and acting in distinct disobedience to Christ; for he would have you trust himself, not on the ground of your feeling much or little, or on the ground of your feeling anything at all, but simply because you are sick and he has come to heal you, and is abundantly able to work your cure. If you say, “Lord, I cannot trust thee unless I feel this or that,” then you, in effect, say, “I can trust my own feelings, but I cannot trust God’s appointed Saviour.” What is this but to make a god out of your feelings, and a saviour out of your inward griefs? Is your own heart to save you by its dark insinuations against divine love? Is unbelief, after all, to bring you salvation because you refuse to believe your God? And despair— wicked despair, which gives the lie to God— is that to be trusted in, and not the Saviour whom God has sent into the world to save sinners? Is there, then, a new gospel, and does it run, “He that denies the power of Jesus and despairs of his love shall be saved”?
You know that Jesus justifies the ungodly, and cleanses the wicked from their sin through his precious blood; and though you know this to be true, you say, “I cannot trust the Crucified, I cannot rely upon his full atonement unless I feel my guilt to be unpardonable, and disbelieve my God.” I pray that you may never feel as you foolishly think you ought to feel; for feelings of despair dishonour the Lord and vex his Spirit, and certainly cannot be good for you. It comes to this— that you are making a god of your despair, and a Christ out of your horrors, and so you are setting up an antichrist in the place where Christ alone should be. Come, young friend, though you have not been terrified and alarmed and heart-broken to the extent of some, will you trust Christ with your soul, and ask no questions? I pray you, trust Jesus once for all.
“Cast thy guilty soul on him,
Find him mighty to redeem;
At his feet thy burden lay;
Look thy doubts and cares away;
Now by faith the Son embrace;
Plead his promise, trust his grace.”
That is the point. Can you trust Jesus? for that is what he bids you do. How strange it seems that anyone should raise a question about trusting HIM! How insane and insulting to be willing to trust our feelings and not trust the Saviour! These ten lepers felt no change whatever wrought upon them when Jesus bade them go off to be examined by the priest; yet away they went, and as they went they were made whole. Trust Jesus Christ just as you are, without those feelings which you have hitherto supposed to be necessary as a sort of preparation. Trust him at once, and follow him, and he will make you whole before you have taken many steps in the path of faith and obedience. O Lord God, lead all my hearers and readers to trust thy Son at once.
Many other persons think that they must, before they can trust Christ, experience quite a Maze of joy. “Oh,” says one, “I heard a Christian say that when he found the Saviour he was so happy that he did not know how to contain himself, and he sang like a whole band of music in one—
‘Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away.’
Oh that I could be as full of joy as these ‘happy day’ people!” Just so. But what mischief will you make out of that? Are you going to find evil even in our delights? Will you feed your unbelief on the joy of the Lord? What strange perversity! “Why,” you say, “must I not be happy before I can believe in Christ?” What? What? Must you, needs have the joy before you exercise the faith? How unreasonable! Because we tell you that such and such a root produces a sweet fruit, will you say that you must have the fruit before you will accept the root? Surely that is bad reasoning. We who have experienced this joy came to Christ in order to obtain it, and did not wait until we found it, or else we should have waited until now. We came to Jesus just as we were: some of us were very wretched, but we came just as we then were, and we trusted Christ, and we were made whole. Then followed joy and peace; but if we had waited till we felt joy and peace before we came, we should have been standing out against the gospel plan, which is, that men are to trust the Saviour before they feel the slightest benefit from him. O sinner, is not this common sense? Must we not take medicine before we are cured by it? must we not eat
bread before it removes our hanger? Must we not open our eyes before we see? Before the Lord Jesus has either comforted you or healed you consciously, you are to come and just do what he bids you, and trust in him to save you. Neither the gloom of horror nor the blaze of delight is to be looked for before faith, but faith is to precede all and that faith is a simple, humble reliance upon Christ.
We have known others who have expected to have a text impressed upon their minds. A kind of superstition has grown up that a special scripture must, somehow or other, hover over the mind, and continue there, so that you cannot get rid of it, and then you may hope that you are saved. In old families there are superstitions about white birds coming to a window before a death, and I regard with much the same distrust the more common superstition that if a text continues upon your mind day after day you may safely conclude that it is an assurance of your salvation. I hope I have never taught you to draw any such a conclusion. Far be it from me to assist you into a confidence which has so questionable a foundation. The Spirit of God often does apply Scripture with power to the soul; but this fact is never set forth as the rock for us to build upon. Will you find anything in the Bible to support the supposition that the vivid recollection of a text is a seal of conversion? It has often happened that some word of God does greatly comfort the soul; but why should you demand the same? Have you any right to say, “I will not believe God’s word unless he impresses it upon me”? Is it a lie, then? “No, it is true,” say you. Remember, if it is not true, an impression upon your mind would not make it true, and if it is true, why do you not believe it? If it is true, accept it. If there be any force about a promise, pray God to make you feel its force and power; but you ought to feel its force and power, and if you do not, sin lies at your door. As a reader of the Scriptures you must not fall into the idea that you are to wait till some Scripture burns its way into your soul; but you must read attentively, and believe what the Lord God says to you. Furthermore, I would have you remember, it is not reading the Scripture that saves you; it is believing in Christ. What did Christ himself say? He said to the Bible readers of his day, “Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; but ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” Good as the searching of Scripture is, it is nothing without coming to Christ. You will only read your own condemnation in the Bible if you remain out of Christ. Even the Bible itself may be made into a stumbling-block if you substitute Bible-reading for closing in with Christ and putting your trust in him. Your immediate business is to trust Jesus, and no measure of reading will compensate for neglect of faith. What if no special text of Scripture were ever laid home to your heart at all, yet here it stands, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” That is your business, my dear hearer, if you are to get peace at once; and I earnestly hope that some of you are going to get it before this sermon is over. I have asked your souls of my God, and I have got them for a prey to-night. They shall be David’s spoil, and you shall be led in chains of grace to Jesus. Who among you will put his trust in Jesus? for, if you do so, you shall surely find eternal salvation the moment you believe in his dear name.
There is another way in which some men try to get off believing in Christ, and that is, they expect an actual conversion to be manifest in them before they will trust the Saviour. Now, understand that Christ has wrought salvation in no man who is unconverted. There must be a perfect turning round of us— a complete conversion from sin to holiness. But that is salvation, and not a preparation for salvation. Conversion is the manifestation of Christ’s healing power. But you are not to have this before you trust him; you are to trust him for this very thing. When a man with a disease goes to an eminent physician, does he say, “Doctor, I will trust you with my case when I have reached a certain stage”? “Nay,” says the physician, “if you have reached that state you will be in a fair way of healing, and you won’t want me.” Your wisest plan is to go to your physician just as you are; and if you can be sure that he is an infallible healer, just put yourself into his hands as if you knew nothing, and he knew everything, and as if you would not have a will, or way in it, but would leave yourself entirely with him. That is the thing to do with the Lord Jesus, the infallible Physician of the souls of men. Why, you poor wretched sinner, you say, “I am not a saint. I cannot be saved.” Who said you were a saint? It is Christ’s work to make you into a saint. “Oh, but I do not repent as I should.” It is Christ’s work to make you repent as you should, and to him you must come for repentance. “Oh, but my heart won’t break.” It is Christ who is to break your heart— not you who are to break it, and then come to him with it ready broken. Come to Jesus just as you are, with your hard, stony, senseless heart, and trust that and everything else to his saving power. “I do not seem even to have a strong desire,” says one. Christ himself gives every spiritual desire by his Holy Spirit. He is a Saviour that begins the alphabet of mercy at A. He does not ask you to get as far as B, C, D, and promise then to meet you; but he begins at the beginning. The good Samaritan when he found the man beaten by the thieves came where he was. That is what Jesus does. He does not say, “Now, then, you wounded man, get up, and come to me, and I will pour the oil and wine into you.” No; but he goes where the wounded one lies in utter helplessness, stoops over him, removes his rags, cleanses his wounds, pours in the oil and wine, and lifts him up, and bears him to the house of mercy. Poor soul! My Master is not a half Saviour, but a whole one; and if you are lying at the gates of death, hard by the doors of hell, he is as able to save you as if you were sitting on the doorstep of heaven. Just where you are, and as you are, trust Christ to save you, and you shall be saved. Do not look for conversion first, but expect it as the result of faith.
We have known some who have had a very curious idea, which I can hardly put into words, namely, that if they were to be saved they would experience some very singular sensation. They could believe m Christ if they felt in a mysterious fashion. It is rather difficult to understand people, but when I have been talking to some enquirers I have thought that they expected even a physical sensation— a sensation within their bodies. I remember one saying to me, “Sir, I was quite sure I was saved, for I felt so light.” Poor simpleton, what does it matter whether you felt light or heavy! What has that to do with it? Perhaps you were light-headed, or half out of your mind with absurd excitement. Beware of such nonsense. To feel light may be interpreted into being weighed in the balances and found wanting; it is a sensation which may frighten as much as console. “Oh,” says one, “but I felt so singular.” Yes, and many who are now in Bedlam could say the same. What does it matter what you felt? It is not feeling that will save you. Believing on Jesus will bring you the blessings of grace; but strange feelings may be produced by what you have eaten, or by the weather, or by hysteria, or a hundred other things. Do you not know that when politics are being discussed, or when some other subject is under dispute, an earnest orator will often stir men with excitement till their flesh creeps? But what of that? Excitement does not save anybody. Many are melted to tears by a novel or a play; but what is the benefit? You may be moved with religious excitement, and half the emotion may be purely physical, and there may be nothing of the grace of God in it. The wiser way is calmly to sit down and say, “Here is God’s way of salvation— salvation through his crucified Son, Jesus Christ; and he has promised that if I trust his Son he will save me from sinning, and make a new man of me, and heal me of my spiritual diseases. I will trust him, for I am sure that the witness of God is true.” By that simple and deliberate act of faith you are saved; the power to believe your God is the evidence that the cure has begun, and begun well. If you have, indeed, trusted him, Jesus has undertaken your case, and he will save you.
The very fact that you can and do believe has within it the essential force by which you will be delivered from the alienation of your mind. He that believes God is no longer an enemy to him. Those whom we trust we soon learn to love. This, you see, demands no singular sensation or excitement; this is plain and clear enough. “But must we not be born again?” says one. Yes, truly; and he that believes in Christ is born again. Though as yet he knows it not, the first mark of life is within his soul, for the first sure token of spiritual life is trusting Jesus Christ alone. The best evidence is not trusting marks, signs, evidences, inward feelings, impressions, and so on; but just getting out of that and trusting Jesus. There lies the essence of the saving change, the getting from self to the Lord God in Christ Jesus. A certain mariner has a fine anchor, one of the best constructed anchors ever used in the navy. He has it on board his ship, and yet it is not a pennyworth of use to him. While he has it on board his ship it does not answer the purpose of an anchor: his vessel drifts with the anchor on board. He drags it out upon the deck and looks at it. What an anchor! Would not that hold in the day of storm? He admires his anchor as if it were a mass of gold. The winds howl and the waves roar, but he feels safe with his anchor on board. Fool, this anchor is of no use to you while you can see it. A ship’s anchorage cannot be in the ship itself. “Suppose I hang the anchor from the side of the vessel.” It is of no use there. What must you do with it? Fling it overboard. Let it down into the deep, even to the sea-bottom. It is gone. You cannot see where it is. All right! That will do. Now, soul, fling your anchor of trust overboard. Do not let it hang to your feelings, or to your impressions, or to anything that is in you; but overboard let it go, deep into the waters of infinite love, and let it get a grip on Jesus. Outside of you your hope must be; for as long as your confidence is within you, or has any dependence upon yourself, it is like an anchor on board, which can only increase the weight of the ship, but certainly cannot help it in the day of storm. There is the truth. God grant you grace to accept it.
II. And now, secondly, and as briefly as I can, I want to bring forward WHAT THE REASON IS FOR OUR BELIEVING IN JESUS CHRIST. What warrant have I, as a sinner, for trusting myself with Jesus Christ?
No warrant whatever within ourself need be looked for. The warrant for our believing Christ lies in this— first, there is God’s witness concerning his Son Jesus Christ. God, the Everlasting Father, has set forth Christ “to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sin of the whole world.” God the Father says to men, “I am able to forgive you justly through the death and righteousness of my Son. Trust me, and I will save you.” What do you want more than that? He that believeth not hath made God a liar, because he hath not believed his witness concerning his Son. Why, surely, if God declares a thing, you do not need further evidence. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” What can be firmer than the voice of God, who cannot lie? Beloved hearers, I feel as if I really ought not to bring any other evidence before you. It looks so like insulting the Lord by trying to defend him, as if his perfect truth needed my testimony to support it. Angels never doubt God. Those bright and glorious beings never suspect their Maker. Worms of the dust! Worms of the dust, how can you doubt the God that made you? Oh, let it not be so. And when his testimony is that he is a God ready to pardon the guilty, waiting to forgive all those that trust his Son, why should we doubt such a gracious declaration? My soul, I charge thee trust thy Saviour, and raise no further question, but let the matter be assured and established within thee.
The next warrant for our believing is Jesus Christ himself. He bears witness on earth as well as the Father, and his witness is true. Consider who this Christ is whom we are bidden to trust. Look at his person. He is God, “very God of very God.” Can we doubt him? He is perfect man, and he has taken perfect manhood upon himself for our sakes. Can we doubt him? He has lived a perfect life. When did he ever lie? Who can charge him with falsehood? He has died “the just for the unjust, to bring us to God”; and God has accepted the sacrifice of his dear Son. What surer proof of his truthfulness can he give us than his death for us? O trembler, why wilt thou refuse thy confidence to one so worthy of it? Canst thou doubt Calvary? Wilt thou despise the cross? Wilt thou say, “I want some other warrant for trusting Christ besides his own person and his finished work”? I feel ashamed almost to be pleading here for such a thing as this. Tell me wherein my Lord was ever false. O sons of men, tell me when once he refused to receive a sinner that came to him. You know that he is risen from the dead, and that he has gone into heaven, and sitteth now at the right hand of God, and will shortly come, and dare you treat him as a mere pretender? Can you not trust in him? Can you dare distrust him? Do you want signs and wonders over and above those which are in himself? If one should rise from the dead you would not believe, if you do not believe Jesus, for you have more than Moses and the prophets, when you have Christ himself risen from the dead. Will you not trust him? I would like to get you by the hand, my brother, and put it personally to you,— Do you mean it, that you suspect my Saviour and cannot trust your soul with him? Do you mean it? Nay, with tears I do entreat you, do not treat him so badly, but cast your soul on him at this instant, and believe him just as you are, and he will save you. He will not run back from his word, but he will wash out your guilt in his own blood if you will consent to be cleansed.
Still, to put this in another shape, you want to know why you are to believe: your warrant for believing lies in the fact that God commands you to believe. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” And this commandment we have received from our Master— that we preach this gospel unto every creature under heaven: and we do preach it in his name, commanding you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that ye believe in him. This divine command is warrant enough for you. If God commands you to do it, you need not say, “May I do it?” Nobody can want any permission to keep the law: the command includes a permit. When the law of the gospel comes from God himself, dear hearer, what is there to do but to obey it and believe at once? The door is open, enter. The feast is spread, eat. The fountain is filled, wash.
Moreover, there is the promise made to you and to every creature, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” “He that believeth in him is not condemned.” Do you hear that? “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life.” He has eternal life, he has it now. These are promises rich and free for you. What more do you want? Oh, I know not what more I can say,— when Jesus commands you, when Jesus invites you, how can you stand back? O blessed Spirit, make this plain to men and lead them to believe.
I will add only this one more thing: I dare say these poor lepers believed in Jesus because they had heard of other lepers whom he had cleansed. Now, here stands one before you, a representative of many more in this place, who, if this were a fit time, would stand up and say the same. I came to Jesus full of sin, guilty and lost, with a hard heart and a heavy spirit; and I looked to him, trusting him alone to save me; and he has saved me. He has changed my nature, he has blotted out ray sin, and he has made me love him, and love all that is good and true and generous, for his sake. It is not I, even I, that am left alone to tell you; but, as I have said, there are thousands in this Tabernacle, at this very hour, upon whom the same miracle of divine mercy has been wrought. Therefore trust my Lord Jesus, and you shall feel the same miracle wrought upon you. Where are you, friend, you who want so much persuading for your own good? If I have money to give away I do not find that I have to persuade anybody to have it. Jingle a guinea, and what ears men have I How soon they will rush where the coin gives forth its golden notes. Give bread away in a cold winter, or even a little soup, how the poor will crowd to get it! But when it is, “Trust Jesus, and your sin shall be forgiven you, and your nature shall be changed, and you shall be saved from sinning, and you shall be made pure and holy,” oh, my Master, what are they at that they want calling so often? Men not only require calling, they need compelling to come in.
“Dear Saviour, draw reluctant hearts.
To thee let sinners fly,
And take the bliss thy love imparts,
And drink, and never die.”
III. I must now close with the third point, which shall not occupy you many minutes; it is this, WHAT IS THE ISSUE OF THIS KIND OF FAITH THAT I HAVE BEEN PREACHING? This doctrine of “only trust Jesus,”— what does it lead to? This trusting in Jesus without marks, signs, evidences, tokens, what is the result and outcome of it?
The first thing that I have to say about it is this,— that the very existence of such a faith as that in the soul is evidence that there is already a saving change. “Oh,” say you, “I do not see that. How can it prove that I am a new man because I trust myself with Christ?” Consider a little: it will be an evidence of a saving change already wrought, for it will show that you have come to be obedient to Jesus, and obedient upon a matter which your proud will has long struggled against. Every man by nature kicks against simply trusting in Christ; and when at last he yields to the divine method of mercy it is a virtual surrender of his own will, the ending of rebellion, the establishment of peace. Faith is obedience. Faith is the evidence that the warfare has been ended by unconditional surrender. They said to Jesus in olden times, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?” and he answered, “This is the work of God— the most godlike work that ye can do— that ye believe on Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.” It is even so: in one sense faith is not a work at all, and in another sense it is the grandest of all works. Here is where God and you are at issue, this is the central point of the quarrel: you want to be saved by something in yourself, but God says that he will save you if you trust in Christ. Now, if you do trust Christ just as you are, it will be an evidence that you have been made obedient to God, and so obedient that a complete, deep-seated, radical renewal of your nature has evidently taken place.
It will be an evidence, also, that you are humble; for it is pride that makes men want to do something, or to be something, in their own salvation, or to be saved in some wonderful way, that they may tell other people how wonderfully they were saved. When you are willing just to be saved like a poor, good-for-nothing sinner as you are, then you are already saved from pride. I will not compliment you: you are a good-for-nothing wretch of a sinner; and if you will trust Jesus, as a man must do who truly bears that character, it will prove that you are humble, and this will be good evidence that a change has passed over your spirit.
Again, faith in Jesus will be the best evidence that you are reconciled to God, for the worst evidence of your enmity to God is that you do not like God’s way of salvation. You so much dislike God that you will not have heaven on God’s terms. You, the sinner, are so much at war with God that you will go to hell rather than be saved in God’s way. That is what it comes to. And when you give that up and say, “Lord, so long as I can be made whole— so long as I can be made to love thee— I am willing to be saved anyhow,” there will be evidence of a great change in you. When you cry, “Lord, I will be saved in thine own way, and I will therefore trust Christ as thou hast bidden me,” then God and you are reconciled upon a point of the chief importance. There is no battle between you now, for you are of one mind about trusting Christ. God has trusted his honour in Christ’s hands, and you are trusting your soul in his hands, so that God and you are now agreed to honour Jesus. The moment you have trusted Christ, that simple thing becomes in itself a distinct admission and indisputable proof that a great change has been wrought in your relation to God, and in your feelings in reference to him.
Now, mark you, before long, sooner or later, you will become delightfully conscious of the fact that you are saved. Many a man is saved, and for a time he questions the truth of the gracious work, but in due time the blessing is made clear to him. When a man trusts Jesus as these ten lepers did, and acts upon his trust, good always comes of it. See the ten men! They are going towards the priest, though they have not yet felt that they are healed. They are acting upon Christ’s authority, and he will not make fools of them, for they that trust in him shall not be ashamed nor confounded. They must start on their walk before they feel the healing; but as they are going they shall feel it. And you, too, trusting Christ without any sense of any good thing, shall not be long before you shall feel his blessed power upon your heart. I wish to speak my own experience simply to help those who are coming to Jesus. While I was coming to Christ I did not know that I was coming; and when I looked to Christ, I scarcely knew whether it was the right sort of look or no; but when I felt at last that Jesus had healed me, then I knew what I had done. Many a blessing God has given me as to which I have not found out that I had it till some time after my reception of it. I have read the feelings of certain good men, and I have said, “I wish I felt like them”; and some time after, when I looked back, I perceived that I was actually moving in their orbit, and passing through the self-same experience. Many a man wishes he was humble, and he is humble because he does not think he is humble. Many a person sighs, “I wish I had a tender heart,” but I am sure that his heart is tender because he mourns its hardness. He longs to be deeply sensitive before the Lord, but it is clear that he has a tenderness which he does not himself recognise. His ideal of tenderness is very high, and properly so, and therefore he dreads falling short of it. O my dear friend, if you trust Jesus in the dark, you shall one day enter into the light; and if you never should enjoy comfort you would still be safe— if all the way between this place and heaven you should never have a consciousness of being saved, yet if you have trusted Christ, you must and shall be saved, for he cannot possibly allow faith in him to be exercised in vain. Ere long, if you trust Jesus, you shall know his love. Trust him as you sink and you shall swim. Trust him as you feel yourself dying and you shall live. If you trust him before you feel any work of grace upon you, you shall soon discover that there was a work upon you, though you discerned it not. If you trust the Lord you are already the subject of a divine power, for nothing short of omnipotent grace could have led you to believe and live. The state and act of faith are simplicity itself; but to bring us into that simplicity God himself must new create us.
To put all in one, if you are ready to come to Christ, and trust him without any miracles, signs, or evidences, but will simply trust him alone, you have within you a power which will carry you through life, and preserve you in holiness even to the end. This morning I spoke about David’s encouraging himself in God. When Ziklag was burnt, and his wives were gone, and his men talked of stoning him, he fell back on God alone. This is a high attainment, and yet it is one which has its parallel in the very dawn of faith in the sinner. It is a grand start in life for you, a poor sinner, to begin by trusting Christ alone, saying, “I, without anything good in me whatever, without anything that I can lay hold of as a hope for me, do cast myself, whether sink or swim, upon Christ Jesus the Saviour of sinners, and ‘if I perish, I perish.’” This is a glorious beginning. To many a saintly life such a faith in the Lord alone has been a crowning act, and yet you, poor sinner, may exercise this same faith while yet you are a babe in Christ. You will often have to trust in this fashion in future life, and therefore it is well to begin as you will have to keep on. You will be brought, in business, in the family, and in the various trials of life, into such a condition that you will have to exercise a faith just of the same sort as that which you begin with; I would, therefore, have you learn the lesson while you are young. You will have to say, “Though I am weakness itself, and poverty itself, and do not see how I may be provided for, yet as the ravens and the sparrows are fed, so shall I be; and therefore I cast my nakedness upon God for clothing, and my hunger upon God for food , and my very life I cast upon him that he may preserve it to me between the jaws of death.”
This is grand faith, and you must begin there, for if you do not you have not begun to build on the rock. Your first course must be the live rock, or else all will be insecure. To begin well is half the battle: mind that you get a foundation which can never be moved; for life has many trials, and woe to the man whose foundation fails him. This is grand faith to die with as well as to live with. Now the curtains are drawn and the light of the sun is shut out, and the voices of friends begin to fail, and the ear is dull, and the eye-strings break. My soul, thou art now about to launch into the unseen world. What wilt thou do now? What, indeed, but faint into the arms of thy Father and thy God! Oh, my dear hearer, if you have learned to trust at the very first because of what Jesus is, and not because of what you are, then you will know how to die; for standing there, in the prospect of the great account, or rather lying there upon the bed, in prospect of the Lord’s coming, fears will come, and doubts will come, and terrors will come, if you are looking within, or looking back upon your past life and trying to find a reliance there. But if you can say, “My Saviour, into thy hands I commit my spirit: my naked soul I put into thy pierced hands again,” then may you breathe your last in peace, knowing whom you have believed, and being persuaded that he is able to keep that which you have committed to him until that day. When John Hyatt lay a-dying, one of his friends said, “Mr. Hyatt, can you trust your soul with Jesus now?” “Man,” said he, “trust him with one soul? That is nothing. I could trust him with a million souls if I had them. I know that he is able to save all who trust him.” I want you to begin, then, as these poor lepers did, by just taking Christ at his word, and going your way in the strength of that word before you feel any hopeful change within. In this fashion when you come to die you may look out for glory and expect it, though the brilliance has not yet transfigured you; you may look out for the eternal crown, look out for the harp, look out for the face of the Well-Beloved, and the bliss unspeakable, and expect them, even though the clouds gather around you. Before you pass the gates of pearl, or cross the chilly sea, you may enjoy the sight of the beatific vision by an unstaggering faith. Hope that is seen is not hope; but glorious is the faith which seeth him who is invisible, and grasps the substance of the things not seen as yet. By this power I even now anticipate the joys of the upper skies. Try, beloved, to do the same. O for more faith! It will be grand to know all heaven, though you have not seen it and felt it, because you knew and trusted the Lord of heaven. Hitherto you have found the promise true; now trust the Lord for glory as once you trusted him for grace, and you shall find ere long that his richest promises are sure.
God save you, every one of you, beloved; and may he do so at this very hour, for his dear Son’s sake. Amen.