The Call of “To-Day”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon September 2, 1909 Scripture: Hebrews 3:7 From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 55

No. 3160
A Sermon Published on Thursday, September 2, 1909,
At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington,
On Thursday Evening, May 1, 1873

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith) “to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” — Hebrews 3:7.

THE Holy Ghost saith “Today.” There is a great talk about yesterday. There are some who will have it that there are none like the days that are past “the good old times.” There are some who glory in what they did years ago. Their work was done yesterday. They have long ago retired from the business of life, but still they are accustomed to indulge in the recollections of what they did in days gone by. Yesterday is also dwelt upon in lamentation and even in despair. Yesterday! alas, opportunities are past. “The harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and we am not saved.” Yesterday we lived in sin; yesterday we rejected Christ; yesterday we stifled conscience; and therefore despair says that it is all over now. Time is gone. Closed for ever are the gates of mercy: the death warrant is signed: the gallows are erected for the execution.

Now it is noteworthy that the Holy Ghost, neither that we may take comfort in it, nor despair about it, saith not “yesterday” — he saith “today.” He points us not to the past-(we shall have to look at that and weep over it, or bless God for it either with repentance or gratitude)-he points us not to the time of the Flood but to to-day. A very large proportion of mankind, you will find, delight in dwelling upon the word “to-morrow.” Oh what will they not do to-morrow! Sin shall be rejected to-morrow; the Savior shall be sought to-morrow. Clasped in the arms of faith, they will exult in the peace of Christ to-morrow; they will pray to-morrow; they will serve God to-morrow. Alas! Of all the nets of Satan as a fowler for the souls of men, perhaps there is none in which he taketh more that in this big net of procrastination. “I will, — I will,” and there it ends. “I go, sir,” and he went not. To resolve and re-resolve, and then to die, the same is the melancholy history of thousands of hearers who bid fair for heaven a thousand times, and yet will never enter there.

To-morrow! Oh, thou cursed word to-morrow! How has man made thee cursed! I find thee not in the almanack of the wise; thou art only in the calendar of fools. To-morrow! There is no such thing except in dreamland, for when that comes which we call to-morrow it will be to-day, and still for ever, to-day, to-day, to-day. There is no time but that which is. Time was, is not and time to come, is not.

To-day is the only time we have. Happily for us, the Holy Ghost saith, “TO-DAY IF YE WILL HEAR HIS VOICE.” Never do I find him saying “tomorrow.” His servants have often been repulsed by men like Felix who have said, “Go thy way for this time. When I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” And never did any apostle say, “Repent tomorrow, or wait for some convenient season to believe.” The constant testimony of the Holy Ghost, with regard to the one single part of time, which I have shown indeed to be all time, is, “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Now I am trying to speak to-night not as though I were preaching at all, but I want to talk to you Christians first, and then to you unconverted people very seriously, and may God the Spirit speak through the words.

First to you that love the Lord, or profess to do so-Christian people I have to say to you to-night,-the HOLY GHOST SAITH “TO-DAY.” That is to say, that it is essential to duty that we attend to it at once. Every command of Christ bears date today. If a thing be right, it should be done at once; if it be wrong, stop it immediately. Whatever you are bound to do, you are bound to do now. There may be some duties of a later date, but for the present that which is the duty, is the duty now. There is an immediateness about the calls of Christ. What he bids you do, you must not delay to do. The Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” And I would say this with regard to everything. Do you love the Lord? Have you ever professed his name? Then the Holy Ghost saith “to-day.” Hesitate not to take up his cross at once and follow him,-the cross of him whom was nailed to the cross for you; who by his precious blood has made you not your own, but his. Confess him before men. Has he not said, “He that denieth me before men, him will I deny before my Father which is in heaven! “Confess with thy mouth, if thou hast believed with thy heart.

It is the immediate duty of the believer to be baptized. “As soon as thou believest in Christ thou rnayest.” “To-day,” saith the Holy Ghost. Having united thyself to the people of God, the whatever, according to thy position and calling, is incumbent upon you, do it. Art thou a young Christian, warm, fervent in spirit, and do thy seniors call thee impudent and damp thine ardor? Listen not to them: go and do what is in thy heart. I would give nothing for a mans zeal if that zeal does not make him sometimes indiscreet. Imprudence so far from being a sin is often an index of the possession of the highest grace. Nay, David, imprudent as thou art, take the smooth stones from the brook. Wait not till thou art become a king or a hoary-headed monarch about to resign the crown to Solomon. While thou art ruddy and a youth hesitate not. The Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” Or art thou called in middle life? Thy sun has already spent half its day. Is it suggested to thee that thou shouldst seek thy children’s conversion? Plead at once that thy little ones so long neglected may now be saved. The Holy Ghost saith to thee, parent, father, mother,- “To-day.” Art thou come into the midst of a multitude of workers of which thou art the master seeking their good? Seek it today. Hast thou in thy heart the intention to serve God when thou hast amassed so much wealth? What! shall God be second? Shall mammon take the first place and Jehovah be put in the background? Nay, let thy gold come in second or not at all. Let thy God come in now. The Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” “But there are urgent things pressing.” If thou canst claim that they are duties, God forbid that I should bid thee neglect, them, but if they are covetous and lustful, put them aside and now, in the prime of your life, while yet the marrow is in thy bones and thine eye is not dim, give to God what he claims of thee to-day.

Have you lingered long upon the road, and has the evening come, and has the sun almost touched the horizon, and is the red light gleaming in the sky? Then the Holy Ghost, says to thee, “O aged Christian, serve God today.” I cannot comprehend the postponements of old age; yet do we frequently meet with them. There was an aged man who meant to devote all his substance to the church of God, but he put it off and the thing was never done. There was another who meant to have spoken to his children. He would gather them together on a certain day, and would speak to them and their children; for so had it come about that he was a grandsire now;

but he said he would do it by and by; and the time never came. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do” — what saith the Scripture? Think about it? No, — ”do it.” Give God thy first and choicest thoughts. Many a man has thought over a good thing till the devil has come in with a second thought and the thing has never been done. I love that blessed thing that, made Magdalen, or Mary, whichever it was, break the alabaster box over the Savior. She did not sit down to calculate or the thing would not have been done. And this is especially incumbent upon the aged. You are not, likely to be guilty of indiscretion; your blood is not hot; therefore you may fling the reins on the back of your zeal; you are not likely to exceed in your zeal; therefore, go at once, I pray you. Oh, I wish Christians were in the habit of following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Remember, there are many things he gives to us that we do not deserve at all or do not receive so as to carry them out. Be ye not as the horse or mule which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle. Oh, be guided by gentler means, the softer touches of God’s hand. The Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” Whatever Christian service may come across you, Christian brother, let me urge you not to let the night pass away, nor tomorrow until you have accomplished the whole of it. Get through it, dear brother, get through it, at once. The Lord knows when duty will be most acceptable to him. The Lord loves fresh gathered fruit. You are not to store it up until the bloom is gone and say, “I will bring it to-morrow.” The Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” WHATEVER IS TO BE DONE FOR THE LORD, LET IT BE DONE NOW.

And then there is a second set of obligations which, come upon the Christian, viz., undoing. Now THE HOLY GHOST SAITH TO-DAY.” Have I done wrong towards my neighbor? Have I spoken an unkind word? Have I made an unjust speech? Let me make my peace with my friend. But when? “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” I heard the other day that when a wasp had stung one, the sting would go away if the wasp, died ere the sun went down. And peradventure there may be about each one of us some bad habit, something we cannot justify ourselves in. Let us seek to be purged from it; for “the Holy Ghost saith ‘To-day.’” Is there any sin to be conquered? There is no such time to smite sin as today. You will never smite this Amalekite as well as now. He will be off his guard if you smite him now. AT ONCE, THEN, STRIKE THE BLOW AGAINST THE SIN, WHATEVER IT MAY BE. There is no time for killing weeds in the garden of the soul like today. There is no time for throwing salt upon the field which is fitful with noxious poison like now. Never imagine that you will get rid of sin by degrees. I know some people have been cured of a taste for strong drink by degrees, and such things may be possible, but the Christian will find it easier to wean himself at once by a sacred total abstinence from everything that is sinful; for as long as you parley with the enemy the enemy will still have power over you, and blessed is that man who does not begin to take off one finger of his right hand and then another and then another, but takes the axe and chops it off as one whole thing at once. “If thy right hand offend thee cut it off.” Some think this enough — ”If thy right hand offend thee pare the nails.” It is not so. Oh, yes; for doing and for undoing, the Holy Ghost saith “To-day.”

But I cannot linger where there is so much to say. Remember, beloved Christian friends, that, there are some duties which if you DON’T DO TODAY YOU NEVER WILL DO. I called upon a Christian man some time ago and saw him looking very sorrowful. He was a man of earnest spirit, always trying to do good, and I was surprised to see sorrow on his face; but he said, “My dear sir, I met with a very sad thing this morning. There is a man who has been doing certain errands about, here, and I noticed him and felt a great concern about his soul, and yesterday I had resolved that when he came into the shop, I would speak to him. It has been my habit to speak to all I came in contact with. Well, I don’t know whether I can excuse myself or not, but this man came upon his usual errands, and I was busy and did not speak to him as I designed. I intended to do it this morning, and his wife, has come, round and said he is dead, and I cannot forgive myself, for there is nothing else I can do for him, and I feel almost as though his blood will lie at my door.”

You cannot tell but what you will be in company this evening with somebody who will never have a warning if you do not give it to-night, never have another invitation to come to Jesus, and if you should hear tomorrow that your friend has suddenly dropped down dead, and that he was unconverted, it would cause you some regret and remorse that you had not spoken. Now, now, because it is “now, or never.” If it might be “Now or tomorrow,” there might be some reason for delay, but it is not so, it is “now or never. Therefore I do pray you, brethren (and I am speaking much more to myself than to you), to be instant in season and out of season. Oh, pity those poor souls who live in darkness and do not know our sweet Lord Jesus. “Ye are the light of the world.” Defer not the light-giving, lest the night come to them wherein you cannot, help them.

Notice again. WHEN WE INTEND TO DO CHRISTIAN SERVICE TO-MORROW, AND DO IT FAITHFULLY AND WELL, YET WE SIN. There is a contract for certain steamers to carry her Majesty’s mails, and they are bound to leave Liverpool at such a time and arrive at New York so long afterwards. Suppose they leave six hours after the time, if they make the best voyage they can, they break the contract. And an action which is done to-morrow, but should have been done to-day, whatever be its acceptableness in itself, is faulty. It is as an untimely fruit, out of date. If I do not do till to-morrow what I ought to do to-day, I cannot do to-morrow’s duties. I cannot possibly put Thursday’s work into Friday. Cannot I call in help Yes, but I am robbing my Master of my friend’s service. I have work to do which never can be done in eternity unless it is done to-day. Throughout the whole of eternity I can never make up for that lost hour. The work of that hour is gone and can never be done. Eternal mercy can wipe out the sin and, blessed be God, it will; but there is the fact for all that. Therefore the Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” To-day’s work is to be done today, therefore, let it be done.

For, beloved friends, there is one remark with regard to service for God, and that is, that DUTIES PUT OFF TEND TO THE HARDENING OF THE HEART. You begin to be familiar with the neglect of them; and nothing is more injurious to the mind than familiarity with sin. To be acquainted with sin is to be made sinful. When I postpone a duty I am acquainted with the neglect of that duty. How many times-(I will put, a riddle to you if I can; probably you will recollect it)-how many times does a man sin in an hour who does not perform the duties of that hour. There is one act of omission, which he has committed the first minute. He ought to have done it at once. Is there a sin each minute or is there a sin each tick of the clock? I would like you to think of that. It seems to me that, we do not know how many sins there may be crowded into the neglect of a duty for an hour. And some have neglected duties for a week; they have disobeyed God for a week. Have you ever seen your child sin in that way? You have said, “John, go to the door!” Has he been an obstinate child and not gone but stood still? You say again, “John, go to the door!” Still he does not go. I wonder how long you would let your child stand still? I think I know some who could not manage for five minutes to keep their hands off him, and perhaps it is well they should not stand it long.

But now God has had his hands off you, some professors, by the week together, and the year together, for what you know you ought to have done; and yet you have not done it. And all the while the Word of God saith to you, “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” But you have still continued to tempt the Lord and tried him, though by the winds of his mercy he has kept his hands off. Don’t provoke him any more, but go and say, “I have delayed too long. Now, Father, I will do what thou bid’st me. Help me by thy grace, for I will not he a disobedient child any more.” Delay not; for you have provoked him too long already. I have often pitied God, to think be should be so badly treated, that his children whom he treats so well should make him such poor return. Let us have sympathy with our dear heavenly Father and say, “We will grieve him no more.”

There is one more thing that I want to say to you, dear Christian. I have been putting it, very strongly today, but I have felt authorized to do so because the text puts it so. THE HOLY GHOST SAITH “TO-DAY.” The Holy Ghost! That clothes it with deep solemnity. The Holy Ghost! That is, the Divine Person of the Godhead, concerning whom we find that there is a Sin against him which will never be forgiven. If we want to keep clear of that sin, grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Be very tender concerning all sin: be tender most of all concerning this. Remember how the Holy Ghost loves you-how he loves you! Jesus Christ loved men so that he came and lived amongst them, and the Holy Ghost loves men so that he comes and lives in them. I wonder which is the more admirable in condescension,-the incarnation of the Son, or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are both divinely merciful and gracious. Grieve him not, then,-he is your Comforter,-he is your Comforter! And have you vexed him who dwelleth in you and shall be with you The human heart ne’er entertained so divine a guest. Resist him not. Yield to him now; for that is the very point on which he lays stress. The Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” Now I have said in myself (and I pray God to help me to carry it, out) I will strive after more grace, and I will seek to do what good I can now. Dear brethren, let that not be a resolution merely, but let us practice it, for the Holy Ghost saith “To-day.”

Now I am going to turn away from you Christians to talk to the unconverted a little, and I pray that what is said may go to their hearts. To YOU, UNCONVERTED SINNERS, THE HOLY GHOST SAITH “TO-DAY.” I asked a brother why he was not present on a certain occasion and he, said, “I never got an invitation.” I am afraid there are some sinners that never come to Christ because they do not get an invitation. I know that is not the case with any sinner who is in the habit of coming to this house. I believe Christian ministers would do well, or, at any rate not ill, if they never preached anything but invitation. There is much more to preach to advanced people of God, but still there are men who all their lives long have invited men to come to Christ, and I believe they do not ill to spend their whole time in that.

Now the point, in the invitation is,-When is it Somebody says, “Will you come to my house to dinner?” Well, if that is all he says, I do not come; but if he says, “I dine at half-past five,” then he gives me the time of day and tells me when he wants to see me. You know if a person says, “Whenever you are going by this way I shall be glad to see you,” you never call in at all, but if a man says, “I shall be glad to see you at such-and-such a time,” you understand his invitation. And now the Holy Ghost puts a time to the invitation. I am not invited to-morrow, but this first of May-this sweet May day, the Holy Ghost says to me, “Come to Christ, to-day.” And he says to you to-night through these lips of mine, “To-day, even now, come seek and find every good in Jesus joined.” “Look unto him, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth.” The time is fixed, and the time is fixed for to-day.

Why did he fix to-day? Well, first, it was his mercy fixed it. Suppose he had said “to-morrow,” it would have been unkind to detain you in the gall of bitterness all the night. You would have had a wretched night and have said, “I shall not live through it.” You would have wanted Christian people to come and sit with you, and pray with you, while you were under condemnation, that you might reach to-morrow morning. But he has not, said to you that you have got to wait until you are seventeen, or to you yonder, that you have got to wait until you are thirty. Oh, no, he says, “Today.” And then it is in wisdom that he says “to-day,” because it is wisdom to seek the Lord at once; for otherwise the thread of life may be snapped. Have you ever noticed how much more frail our life is than glass? I have seen thin Venice glass three or four hundred years old, but I never saw a man last that time. We are frail things. A moment’s touch and we are dust. The Holy Ghost therefore does not put it off unwisely, but he says, “Today.”

And the Holy Ghost does it, too, in addition to his mercy and wisdom, out of love to holiness. He would be a partakar of our sin if he excused our living an hour in sin. He never does. If I had God’s liberty to remain in sin a week, he would be a partaker in my sin. But he has bidden us fly to the fountain now. Lovingly and yet with a sort of sternness does he bid me come! To-day. “To-day if ye will hear his voice,” forsake your sin and fly for refuge.

I might mention other attributes of God which would move him to put it “To-day,” but I will not. If you are at all affected by what I have said (and I hope you may be) don’t say, “Well, I will resolve to think about my soul.” I have noticed so many people who have felt “I’m a good fellow after all-I have made a splendid resolution, haven’t I.” Just as I have seen men in commercial life over head and ears in debt, go to a loan society or raise a little money at their bankers, or perhaps do what is much the same thing, without raising money at all, give an accommodation bill, and say, “Well, I’ve paid that man!” when they have never paid him a farthing, but have given him merely a bit of paper. They get on wonderfully easy because, they have passed a bit of paper saying that they will pay at a certain time when they know that they never mean to do it. Resolutions are accommodation bills that men give to God and nothing ever comes of them. I some times wish there was no “paper” in business, and certainly I wish there were no “resolutions” in religion. A resolution to repent may damn a man, but a belief would save him. A resolution to believe in Christ may only check the voice of conscience, but a belief would save. Your resolutions are of no use whatever-like draughts from Aldgate pump. They are not worth thinking of. Oh, to have real practical obedience to Christ, for the Holy Ghost saith “To-day.”

Let, me just speak further to you for a moment or two. It does seem very sweet that the Holy Ghost saith “To-day.” Do you know what I would do if I were in your case and you in mine? I recollect when I sought the Lord I hoped that, after some months of darkness I might get, light, and it was according to my hope. Now if I had to seek him over again, I would go and say, “Lord, thou hast said ‘To-day.’ Lo! I seek thee to-day; and shall I say ‘To-day’ and thou say ‘To-morrow?’ Dear Savior, I trust thee to-day. To-day speak peace to my conscience. To-day apply the blood of sprinkling and give my spirit rest.” I would make a plea of it if I were you; for if a man made a great feast and said to the poor, “Come to-day,” the poor would not expect to sit shivering there to get, a meal to-morrow; but they would say, “Our invitation was to-day. There is provender to-day.” So, sinner, if you will come to the Lord and say, “My Lord, my Father, thou hast called me to-day therefore to-day I feel thy love to me, and I pray thee to-day to put my sins away as far as the east is from the west,” — God will keep to his, word and you will find speedy rest.

Oh, some of you HAVE LIVED LONG ENOUGH WITHOUT GOD. Some of you have lived fifty years without God and long enough to be condemned. Oh, you would not like to be converted, and then be of no service, to your Lord at all, or only have given him a few months of your life. I pray you, think of this,-the long time past which may have sufficed you to have wrought the will of the flesh and the short time that is to come. Do you know how soon you are to die? Is there any man here who is certain that he will live to see another year When the next service is held to watch the old year out and the new year in, will you be here, or where will you be? the Holy Ghost says “To-day.” Every hour that passes is hardening you if you are remaining out of Christ: it becomes less probable that God will meet with you. There are so many more opportunities wasted, so many more appeals thrown away. O, dear hearers, if God made you stand on this platform and said, “I will tell you who they are that will reject your message and perish finally,” I would say, “Good Spirit, tell me no such thing! Conceal the secret! I do not wish to know it.” I think it would break my heart to look in some of your faces and think, “That man will be in hell and be in anguish, and ask for a drop of water to cool his tongue.” I could not, bear to feel that it would be so. And yet I feel morally certain it will be so with some of you. Oh, I am staggered when I feel how souls come into this Tabernacle (and some of you are always here) and do not get the blessing. I pray to-night that some of us may get the blessing.

An incident occurred this afternoon. An aged minister, an excellent man, came into my vestry, and shook my hand and said, “I have got this letter which I should like you to see.” Well, I had many things to attend to, but he was so anxious and said, “I know you will like to hear it,” that I took the letter. Before I read it he explained to me that he had a son who had made a profession of religion, but had gone aside from it, and it had pretty well broken his heart. At last, he was to go to America, and the father sent him away with a very heavy heart. The old man took off his spectacles. The letter was from his son and it said, “I went to hear Mr. Spurgeon, and I have not the slightest doubt that it has had an influence on my whole life. The text was, ‘He is as a root out of a dry ground.’ The sermon was divided into four parts.” I can recollect the sermon well enough. I was suffering from great pain at the time. “The point which lasted longest was that in which he said that God had made Christ to grow up like a root, like a root out of a dry ground. He went on for twenty-five minutes,” — (then he gave an opinion of my style which I won’t read to you) — ”but what surprised me most was that out of five or six thousand, he fastened his eyes or me though I was in the farthest gallery” — (the young man’s name was Thomas So-and-so-the son of the Baptist minister-: and suddenly he shouted out these words, ‘There’s that wild, dare-devil Tom. God means to save him: and he will be a comfort to his father in his old age.’” The old gentleman took off his spectacles again when he got to that and said, “And so he is.” It went on, “I thought he was going to say my name.” He trembled lest the people should think his name was Tom. Well, that cheered my heart to think of that young fellow, and I thought I would have a shot at some of you to-night, and I pray that it may go right straight through your hearts.

And now, this first of May, if you meet with God tonight, if you pray and believe in Jesus to-night, this will be your spiritual birthday. You will recollect the night that believers were baptized and that that night Christ met with you. It is now three-and-twenty years, I think, within an hour or two, since I was also baptized on the first of May, confessing Christ in my early youth, and I will close my sermon by saying that if he had been a bad master I would have run away from him, and if he had not kept his promises I would not believe him; but he has been a good master and a dear Savior. I think it is twenty-four years during which I can bear an earnest testimony to the goodness and love of Christ. If you knew him you would not live a minute, without him. “Ah,” say you — “will he have me?” Will you have him? That is the point. You won’t have any wooing to do towards Christ. He loved sinners; he died for sinners. “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

THE HOLY GHOST SAITH TO-DAY. Do you say To-day too? Amen and amen.