The Faculty Baffled- The Great Physician Successful
“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” — Mark 5:25-28.
BRIEFLY consider this poor woman’s case. She was afflicted with a disease of exceedingly long standing, which not only wasted her strength and threatened to bring her speedily to the grave, but rendered her according to the Jewish ceremonial law unclean, and therefore unable to mix in company; thus she was doomed to be a poor, suffering, desponding, desolate woman. The physicians of those days were bold enough to attempt impossible cures, but their skill was not at all commensurate with their courage. They tormented their patients, but seldom relieved them of anything but their money. Even a few hundred years ago many of the articles which were given to patients as medicines, and cried up as drugs of sovereign efficacy, were so unutterably disgusting that I should not like to repeat their names; and the processes of surgery then common among practitioners would have been exceedingly satisfactory if they had been intended to kill, but were both absurd and inhuman if proposed as salutary operations. The science of medicine, indeed , did not then exist; and in the age of our Lord surgery and physic were just a mass of quackery and daring pretension, without anything of skill or knowledge to support their claims. This poor woman had, however, in her anxious desire to be restored to society and to health, gone first to one and then to another, and yet another, although all caused her suffering by acrid medicines or by severe operations; and after the end of twelve years she found herself penniless, as well as worse in health. Just then, her physical state being still the highest thought in her mind, she heard that there was a prophet who healed diseases. Having listened to one or two of the stories of the cures wrought by him, and having perhaps seen some of those who had been happy enough to be the subjects of his miracles, she said in herself, “That man is doubtless sent of God. He professes to be the Messias, the Son of David, the Son of God: I believe he is so; and if he be such a one, then he is so full of sacred force that if I may but get near enough to touch the hem of his robe, I shall be restored.” Happy day it was for her when she imbibed that idea. Happier still when she put it into practice, when tremblingly she put forth her finger, touched the hem of the Saviour’s garment, and was that moment restored.
I shall not need to say more concerning the narrative itself. It com mends the Saviour to you, shows you his great power in the physical world , and so proves his Deity, and endears him to you for his mercy and compassion. But this woman has many parallels in the spiritual world. Multitudes like her are diseased with a wasting despondency, an unceasing tendency to despair, and they have been trying all the miserable comforters with which this world abounds; and after wasting their substance and their strength, they are now brought to utter spiritual destitution, they feel they can do nothing; they are ready to perish. I hope this morning, if never before, they will hear of Jesus who is able to heal the most desperate cases, and that they will be resolved to apply to him, that by a sincere, even if a feeble faith, they may be brought into contact with his healing energy, and may to-day be delivered from all evil by the great Restorer’s touch. God grant it, for the Redeemer’s sake, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and he shall have all the praise.
I intend, this morning, first of all, to expose the physicians upon whom poor sin-sick souls often trust; when I have done so, I will show you why all these physicians, without exception, fail; thirdly, I shall describe the plight of the. patient after the failure of these trusted physicians; and lastly, show how a cure can be wrought even in those.
I. Let me EXPOSE THE PHYSICIANS WHO DELUDE SO MANY BY THEIR VAIN PRETENSIONS.
Amongst the herd of deceivers, I single out one of the vilest first, an old-established doctor, who has had a wide practice amongst sin sick souls — a wicked old poisoner he is, but for all that exceedingly popular, named Dr. Sadducee. He adopts usually the homoeopathic principle, namely, to cure like by its like. He gives one form of sin as a cure for another. For instance, as soon as he sees one melancholy with unbelief, he prescribes licentiousness. He says, “You are getting dull; you must cheer up; you ought to mix with society. A young person like you ought not to be disturbed with these serious thoughts; those are mere fanatics who alarm you; pray be calm. I would recommend you to attend the theatre or the music hall, these will drive dull care away.” He feels the patient’s pulse, tells him it is much too low; he must really take a little stimulant, and try what gaiety will do. Alas! this old but damning prescription is frequently written out and pressed upon awakened souls as if it were wisdom itself, whereas it is a piece of Satanic craft and falsehood. It never did work a cure, and never can. It bids the man escape from drowning by plunging deeper beneath the waves. It tells him to quench the flame which is burning in his heart by adding fuel to it. It pretends to heal the leper by thrusting him into the inner recesses of the lazar-house, where disease runs not the most miserably. By making bad worse, the lover of pleasure hopes to recover from the qualms of conscience. As a notable instance of Dr. Sadducee’s practice, in its mildest form, I would quote the case of George Fox, the celebrated founder of the Quakers; when perplexed about his salvation, he went to divers friends and ministers for advice; one said he thought it would do him much good to smoke tobacco; another recommended him to get married as speedily as possible ; another thought if he joined the volunteers, that would certainly take off his thoughts from melancholy. “Alas!” he says, “I found them as empty as a hollow drum.” Such physicians minister no medicine to a mind diseased. A story is told of Carlini, the Italian actor, who being the subject of heavy depression of spirit, applied to a French physician, and was recommended to attend the Italian theatre, and, said the physician, “If Carlini does not dispel your gloomy complaint, your case must be desperate indeed.” The physician was not a little surprised when his patient replied, “Alas! sir, I am Carlini; and while I divert all Paris with mirth, and make them almost die with laughter, I myself am dying with melancholy.” How empty and insufficient are the amusements of the world! Even in their laughter their heart rejoices not. Miserable comforters are all those who would drown seriousness in wine and merriment. When the heart is breaking it is vain to offer music and the dance, or to fill high the flowing bowl. When the arrows of God stick fast in a man’s soul, the world’s vain songs suit not with the hour; they jar on the ear, and increase the misery which they would remove. When God awakens a sinner, he cannot be so readily deceived as when he was in his dreams. The Holy Ghost has made him feel the bitterness of sin, and bruised him with the rod of conviction; and now his broken bones demand a real and true physician, and he cannot endure the simpering deceiver who tells him that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit. It is too late to say to such a man, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die;” he dreads to die, and trembles lest death should come upon him unawares.
A much more respectable firm of physicians has been established from time immemorial in the region of Mount Sinai, near the abode of one Hagar, known as the bondwoman. The business is now carried on by Dr, Legality and his pupil, Mr. Civility. You will remember that, in John Bunyan’s time, they were in large practice; Mr. Worldly Wiseman was their patron, and sent the pilgrim round that way, telling him that the old doctor had much skill in delivering men of their burdens, and that if the old gentleman himself was not at home, his young man, Mr. Civility, would do almost as well. This firm was trading, in our Saviour’s day, under the name of Scribe and Pharisee. It was the same deceptive system, and under different names it will always be the same piece of imposture until the crack of doom. The theory of practice is this, “Be careful in diet and regimen, be very observant of certain laws and regulations, and then your issue of blood, or whatever it may be, shall be healed.” Go all over England, and the great doctor for men’s souls, the most popular of physicians now living, is this Dr. Legality. The one great prescription is, “Do this and do that; abstain from this, and give up the other; keep the commandments , and pray at certain hours, and these things will save you.” Dressed out in different fashions, but always the same thing, this great falsehood of salvation by the works of the law is still holding men under its iron sway and deluding them to their destruction. There may be some now present who are unhappy enough not to know the truth which Paul tells us so plainly, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” I was myself for many a day treated by this Dr. Legality, and many a black draught have I swallowed under his orders. I tried to keep the law of God, and thought that my repentance and tears must be an atonement for the past. But who can keep the law? What man can keep whole what he has broken? We have each of us already sinned, and therefore the hope of salvation by our own goodness is a vain one. The law pronounces a curse upon the man that sins but once; how can the man, then, having already sinned ten thousand times, hope by any future obedience to escape from the curse which hangs thick and heavy over his head, soon to burst in eternal storm? Yet this is the fond delusion of humanity; Sinai is still the chosen route to heaven for the crippled sons of a father who found the task too much for him. Some of you imagine that if you do your best — if you are kind to everybody, if you are generous to the poor, if you owe no man anything, if you conduct yourselves respectably — this is enough to save you, but it is not so. He that believeth not on Jesus Christ shall be damned as well in his morality as in his debauchery; he that casteth not himself upon the mercy of God as revealed in the crucified Saviour, has shut against himself the one portal to heaven, and shall never be able to enter into life.
There is another physician whom I greatly despise, but am compelled to mention him, because he has entrapped many, one Dr. Ceremonial. He is the vilest of quacks, a very mountebank, a transparent deceiver. His drugs are worthless trash, and his modes of operation are rather the tricks of a merry-andrew, or the antics of a dancing master, than the sober teachings of thought and judgment. This Dr. Ceremonial has patented a lotion for producing regeneration in little children, by the application of a few drops to their foreheads. He puts his hands on the heads of boys and girls, and by what he calls occult influence, confirms them in grace. He professes to be able to make a piece of a loaf and a cup of wine to be actually divine, and in themselves a channel of grace to the souls of men. The substances are material — a mouse may nibble at the one, a bottle will hold the other; you can touch them, taste them, smell them, and yet fools adore them as divine, and imagine that material substances can be food for souls. Surely this Dr. Ceremonial flourishes all the more because of the monstrous absurdity of his teachings; his pills are huge, but men have wide swallows, and can receive anything. Why, think for a minute, and then wonder for an hour: men are to be sanctified by gazing at genuflexions, millinery, and candles! The east is said to be a more gracious quarter of the heavens than the west, and creeds repeated with the head in that direction possess a peculiar efficacy. It appears that in spiritual operation certain colours are peculiarly efficacious, prayers said or sung in white are far more prevalent than in black, and according to the age of the year and the condition of the moon, puce, violet, scarlet, and blue, are more acceptable to God. I have no patience with these things; it is hardly good enough sport for laughter; but so long as fools abound knaves will flourish, and this Dr. Ceremonial will get men to spend their substance in abundance, and laugh in his sleeve to think that rational beings should be his silly dupes. I trust there are none such here. I hope none of you are so befooled. What cm there be in crossings, bowings, and uttering over and over the same words? What is any worship unless the reason and heart enter into it? What can there be in one material substance to give it sanctity? Is it not as absurd as the fetishism of the Bushman, to believe that bricks and mortar, and slates and boarding, can make a holy place? That indeed, any one place can be a jot holier than another; that any plot of ground can be holier than common ground; or that any man, because certain words have been said over his godless, graceless head, can be made a dispenser of the grace of God, and a pardoner of sins! We are not so befooled, but still this quack drives a good trade, and is held in very high repute.
Here I may name one Dr. Ascetic, who has taken a house hard by the abode of Dr. Ceremonial. His business, however, does not flourish quite so much now as formerly, for his methods are a little too rigorous for the times. Under his treatment men are taught that pain and virtue are much alike ; that starvation is a means of grace, dirt is devotion, and horsehair next the skin a sanctifying irritant. Few persons like this heroic treatment, but certain brotherhoods and sisterhoods amuse themselves with the treatment in a modified form. The more heroic doses of wormwood and gall are out of fashion, still men like a bitter in moderate quantities. In the olden times this Dr. Ascetic flourished much. Then men wore hair shirts, flogged their poor shoulders, went on mad pilgrimages, and in other ways afflicted themselves, believing that great self-denials were patent medicines by which deliverance could be obtained from spiritual diseases. This system of soul-cure had such victims as hermits in caverns, and the followers of Simon Stylites elevated upon columns, with other imbeciles which time would fail us to mention. Even in these days we read of the nuns of St. Ann, who always sleep in their coffins upright, and become unable to sleep in any other posture. The Fakeers in Hindostan do but carry out to perfection the regulations which some in this Christian land would impose upon our respect. But all this is the mere invention of man, and he who follows it shall find that he torments himself in vain.
I shall now mention a physician who practises among Dissenters as well as elsewhere, and I am persuaded has some of you for his patients. His name is Dr. Orthodoxy. His treatment consists in this, that you are to believe certain doctrines most firmly and bigotedly, and then you shall be saved. Have I not some in this place, this morning, whose great difficulty about salvation is that they cannot quite comprehend the mystery of predestination? If you talk to them about the precious blood of Jesus, and speak of the soul-saving efficacy of a simple trust in him, they reply, “But I cannot quite understand the doctrine of election!” and then they mention some passage of Scripture upon that subject — their notion being that if they could understand mysteries they would then be saved, if they could hold the orthodox faith in every point they would be delivered from their sins. But it is not so. I have known scores of persons who have been held in horrible bondage by exclusively thinking upon one part of orthodoxy to the exclusion of the rest. They have grown more wretched, more distracted, more hopeless, than they were before, because having heard the doctrine of election and predestination propounded, they must for ever be harping upon it. It is a blessed doctrine, and I believe it and hold it firmly, that God has a chosen people, but for all that, before men have come to Christ they often make that doctrine to be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. Even if you would be infallible and believe every truth as it is taught in Scripture in the most correct manner, your belief would not save you. True religion is something more than correct opinions. A man may as well descend to hell being orthodox as heterodox. There is a correct road to destruction as well as an incorrect one — I mean a way in which a man may carry truth in his right hand, as well as another road in which the pilgrim hides a lie in his left.
One more physician I will mention, and that is Dr. Preparation. He holds and teaches that the way to be saved is to prepare yourselves for Christ, and if you prepare and make yourselves fit for Jesus Christ, then you will obtain peace. The modes of preparation are very much these, “You must deeply wound yourself; you must doubt God’s power to save you, and dishonour Jesus by your fears; you must endure terrors of conscience, and be the subject of alarms.” It is not said so in that Book, but still this is the current teaching of many, and is so much believed that men will not trust in Jesus Christ because they have not felt this nor experienced the other. Do I not every week meet with persons who tell me, “You invite those to come to Christ who feel their need; I do not feel any need as I ought, and therefore I may not come”? I cannot understand why such people do not open their ears, for times out of mind I say that Jesus Christ did not come into this world to save sensible sinners only, but to save sinners from their insensibility; that Jesus Christ bids sinners, as sinners, believe in him , and does not limit the command to those who repeat. Men are not only to come with broken hearts, but for broken hearts; and if they cannot feel their need, they should come to Jesus to be helped to feel their need; for this he gives them, “’Tis his Spirit’s rising beam.” My Lord and Master wants nothing of you, O lost and bankrupt sinners. He bids you come simply trusting in him, being nothing at all in yourself, and having all in him. I believe those who think they do not feel their need, often feel their need the most. If any one should say, “I have a sense of need,” then he claims to have something good; but those who confess that they have no good feelings or emotions, arc poor bankrupts, broken down, so that their last penny is gone, and to them is the gospel sent. Trust Jesus, believe that he can do what you cannot do, and in the absence of any good in yourselves, believe that all the good you want is treasured up in him, and cast yourselves empty, naked, soul-diseased as you are, flat upon the perfect work of Jesus, and you shall be saved.
I have just gone through a list of those physicians with which I believe many of you have long been acquainted.
II. WHAT IS THE REASON OF THEIR FAILURE? Why is it that none of the prescriptions of these learned and popular gentlemen have ever been able to work a single cure? Is it not, first of all, because they none of them understand the disease?
If the disease of human nature were only a matter of outward iniquity, or only skin-deep, through intellectual error, ceremonies perhaps might have some effect, and legal exhortations might be of some use; but since the inmost heart of man is depraved, and the sin of our nature lies in the very core of our humanity, and is inherited from our birth, of what avail is consecrated water, or sacraments, or good works, or anything external, which cannot change the nature and turn the bias of the mind? The will is obstinate, the affections are depraved, the understanding is darkened, the desires are polluted, the conscience is stultified; but legal physicians make clean the outside of the cup and platter, they touch not these inward evils. They do not really know that man is dead in sin; they treat the patient as if he had wounded himself a little, and could be salved, and bound up, and made complete again. They know not the deep pollution of sin, but imagine that man has stained himself a little, and only a little, so a sponge of reformation, and a little hot water of repentance, will soon remove all unpleasant marks. But it is not so: the fountain of our being is polluted, the foundation of our nature is rotten, and not until we come to Christ do we find that the physician who comes to the point and who touches the disease at its source.
Moreover, these physicians often prescribe remedies which are impossible to their patients. They tell the man, “You must feel so much.” “Feel!” saith he, “why my heart is like granite. If I could feel, I could do all the rest ; but I can no more make myself feel than I can make myself an angel. You bid me do what is far beyond my power.” Then they bid him work, crying, “You must press forward, be in earnest, agonise, labour!” “But,” saith he, “I do try; I have tried for years, but my endeavours are not such as God accepts, and I may continue trying till I perish. I want to be told a sure way to salvation at once, I long for immediate peace, and light, and liberty.” These physicians prescribe walking to those who have broken their legs, and sight as a remedy for those whose eyes are gone; bidding men to do what they cannot, and never pointing them to what Jesus has done on their behalf. When the gospel bids the sinner cease from his toiling and trust alone in Jesus, having nothing and being nothing in himself, but taking Jesus to be his all in all; and when it adds that even this is the gift of God’s Spirit, then it puts before him an available method for the weakest, guiltiest, and most distressed.
Many of the medicines prescribed by these physicians do not touch the case at all. As I have already shown you, outward ceremonies cannot by any possibility affect the inward nature ; and the mere performance of good works, and the utterance of excellent prayers, can have no effect in quieting the conscience. Conscience cries, u I have offended God; how may I be reconciled to him? My past sins clamour for vengeance; God is not just if he do not punish me. Oh! where shall I find peace for my soul?” where but in the bosom of the Mediator? Only at Calvary is the medicine for a wounded conscience to be found. From those five wounds of our blessed Lord healing fonts are streaming still; he that looks to him shall find peace and comfort and full salvation; but the doing and the feeling, and the performing of this and that, and ten thousand things beside, are all a mockery, a delusion, and a snare, they touch not the case. The disease of fallen humanity is wholly incurable except by the hand of Omnipotence. It is as easy for us to create a world as to create a new heart; and a man might as well hope to abolish cold and snow as hope to eradicate sin from his nature by his own power; he might as well say to this round earth, “I have emancipated thee from the curse of labour,” as say to himself, “I will set myself free from the thraldom of sin.” Jehovah alone can save, it is his prerogative, and they who tell me that they are to have a finger in it, that they and their deceivers, the priests, can assist a little in salvation, that their tears, their groans, their cries, their repentances and their humblings, can do at least a something, these I say, fly in the face of God, rob him of his dearest prerogative, impugn his word, rob him of his glory, and provoke him to jealousy. God is a sovereign and will be treated as such. Woe unto the man who contends with him!
Brethren and sisters, let me say plainly this one word, and then leave this point. Rest assured, that wherever in salvation you see a trace of the creature’s power or merit, you see a work that is spoiled and polluted. If there be in the fountain one drop of anything but Jesus’ blood, it will not cleanse; if there be in the robe one single thread of anything but what Christ worked out for us while here below, the whole robe is polluted, and will not serve as a wedding garment. For a needy soul the work must be Christ’s from top to bottom, all of him, and all of grace; but if there be anything of human merit, or anything else that cometh of man, the work is marred upon the wheel, and God will not accept it. These are some of the reasons why these physicians fail to bring health and cure.
III. I shall describe THE PLIGHT OF THE PATIENT WHO HAS TRIED THESE deceivers, and now at last finds himself brought into distress. For five years I was in that plight, seeking by every way that I knew of to find peace with God. At the end of that period my condition was much like that of this poor woman. Now, there were four pieces of mischief done in her case. First, the woman had lost all her time. Twelve years! Who knows the value of a day? Who can calculate the costliness of a year? Twelve years, all gone! And what a pity that these poor people who are seeking to be saved by the works of the law should be losing all that precious time! What a pity that you, dear friends, who are not yet saved, should be getting grey, and so many years should be running to waste! They ought to be spent for the Lord. I hope they may be yet, what remaineth of them, but think and be humbled; you have been all this time outside the banquet door — all this time unwashed, when the fountain is full — all this time unhealed, when the restoring hand can save you in a minute — all this time in jeopardy, in danger of your soul, while the gate of the city of refuge has been open. It is a solemn loss of time that these delusions bring on men; and yet we cannot tear them away from them; for if we prove the folly of one they take to another; and if we prove the folly of all, yet still will they go back to them like a dog to his vomit. They will have anything sooner than go to Christ, for Christ himself has said, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;” anywhere else men will cheerfully go, but not to him. The second mischief in the case was that she was no letter. If she had felt a little better she would have had some encouragement; it would have been satisfactory to have some pain mitigated, some measure of the disease stayed; and so in your case, you are no better than you were when you first entered this house five years ago. You have reformed perhaps, which is good; you have given up some evil things which were once very dear to you — that is well; but still you are not one grain happier; you could not die to-day with any greater comfort than you could have died five years ago — you have no better hope of immortality now than you had then; nay, some times you have fancied the darkness thicken, and the prospect of hope become less and less apparent. A sad thing, is it not, that after doing so much it should come to so little! You have put your money into a bag that is full of holes; you have expended it for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not.
The third evil in the woman’s case was that she rather grew worse, and in addition to that she had suffered many things of the physicians. She had gained a loss. The doctors had blistered here, and lanced there, and given this acrid poison and that nauseous drug, and had been skilful in nothing but in causing needless pain. So, while to effect your salvation you have been looking away from Christ to some one else, you have been needlessly troubled and tortured. Despair has hovered around your path, despondency has hung its pall above you; and you have much more gloom and deathshade yet to endure, unless you give up all that comes of self, and cast yourself on Christ. I would make a venture of it, if I were you, for you cannot lose by it; yon are as bad as you can be. Better even if Jesus were angry to run into his arms, than to remain apart from him. Jesus Christ the appointed Saviour of men is able to save to the uttermost, but while you seek to others it is not possible for you to be saved; they will either bolster you up with selfrighteousness, which will harden your heart, or else cast you down by putting before you impossible duties, to attempt which will be to increase your despair.
“None but Jesus, none but Jesus
Can do helpless sinner good.”
Yet helpless sinners pierce themselves through with many sorrows as they fly to earthly physicians for relief. One more matter. The woman had now spent all that she had. Her poverty was a new ill of which the only good was that now she had no more to spend with the physicians, she was driven to Christ. So it is a most blessed though painful experience, when a man has spent all, when he discovers that he has nothing left, no, not so much as an atom of merit, or hope of ever having any. It is well when the man cries. “I have always thought that perchance there might be an escape for me, but I have no hope left now. As for power, I am as destitute of it as I am of merit. I feel that I would but cannot pray; I would but cannot repent; I want to believe, but I can no more believe than I can fly — it must all come from God.” At such a time it will come from God; for man’s extremity is always God’s opportunity. When you are empty; when your stock is all gone, even to the last rag and crumb, and you are left a helpless, hopeless, undeserving, hell-deserving sinner, and can truly feel that unless God stretches out his hand to save you, you are lost as the lost in hell are. It is then that Jesus Christ reveals himself, and the soul cries, “My Lord, the glorious Son of God, there is no hope except in thee; thou canst save me; I cast myself upon thee, whether I sink or swim; for I am persuaded nothing else can rescue me, and while I can but perish if I do rely upon thee, so at a venture I will rely upon thee. If I am cast into hell, as I feel I deserve to be, yet still I will believe that thou canst save me.” Ah! then thou canst not perish, neither shall any pluck thee out of his hands. If God give thee power to believe Christ, and trust thyself to him, thou art as surely saved as God is in heaven, and Christ there pleading at his right hand.
IV. Now to those who have spent their all on the false physicians. I have A WORD TO SHOW HOW A CURE CAN BE WROUGHT.
This woman said to herself, “The way of cure is for me to get near to Jesus; I can see that doctors are of no good. I cannot help myself, neither can all the world besides assist me. I must press to get near to him. If I cannot put my arms around him, yet a little of him is enough. If I cannot press to him so as to lay hold of him with my hand, yet as much as I can touch with my finger will be enough. I know if I cannot touch him, if I can but get near the ravellings of his garment, and touch one of them, it will do.” It is a sweet truth, that the least of Christ will save. The best of men, the whole of men, cannot benefit you an ounce, but the least drop of Christ, the least touch of Christ will save. If thy faith is such a poor trembling thing that it is hardly fit to be called faith, yet if it do connect thee with Christ, thou shalt have the virtue that goeth out from him. For remember it was not this woman’s finger that saved her, it was Christ whom she touched. True, the healing came by the act of faith, but the act of faith is not the healing — the healing all lies in the person; so that you are not to be looking to your faith, but to Jesus the Lord. Has your faith a good object? Dost thou rest in Jesus, God’s Son, God’s appointed propitiation? If so, thy faith will bring thee to heaven — it is good enough. The strongest faith a man ever had, if it did not rest on Christ, damned him; the weakest faith ever man or woman had, if it did but terminate in the precious person and all sufficient work of Jesus, would certainly save. The fact is, sinner, if thou wouldst be saved, thou must from this moment have nothing more to do with thyself, with thy goodness or thy badness. “I cannot feel,” saith the sinner — that is thyself again. Away with that feeling, thou art to be saved by what Christ felt, not by what thou feelest. “I cannot.” What care I what thou canst not do? Thy salvation does not lie in what thou canst do, but in what Jesus can do, and he can do everything. Wilt thou trust him now? Let me help thy faith with two or three words as the Holy Spirit may bless them. Christ is God: hath he not power to save thee? Christ, the bleeding Son of God, hath bowed his head to the accursed death of the cross, bearing his Father’s anger that those who trust him may not bear it. Cannot the bloodstained Christ pardon sin? Christ is his Father’s darling, trust to him. Will not God grant mercy when you plead for Jesus’ sake? Jesus lives today — he is no dead Christ that you are bidden to trust in. He lives, and this is his occupation, he is pleading before the throne of God, and this is his plea, “Father, forgive them for my sake.” Seeing he died to save, cannot he now that he lives save to the uttermost? At his last dying moment he said to the thief, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Can he not say as much now that he wears the crown of glory? Yes, you may have come in here this morning without a good thought, never having spoken a holy word in your life, but he can save you as quickly as he did the thief. Ay, and though when that clock struck twelve you were a graceless wretch, yet at this moment you may be already a saved soul; ay, and ere the clock ticks again, another may be called by grace. Christ works not according to time; he is not limited by minutes. If thou canst turn thine eye to his cross and say,
“Lord, remember me,” he can give as his reply, “Thou shalt be with me ere long in paradise.” With God incarnate, with the God-man who bled on the cross, with the Son of God ascended, clothed with majesty, reigning in splendour, with him whose promise we this day proclaim to you, there can be neither difficulty nor debate. The promise runs thus: “He that believeth on him is not condemned “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;” “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Wilt thou believe in him? It is to come to him, to trust him, to lean upon him, to hang upon him, to make him thy sole and only ground of dependence. Wilt thou do this? Has God enabled thee now to do it? If so, go in peace; thy faith hath made thee whole, thy sins are forgiven thee; go and live to his praise, who bought thee with his blood. Go, young man, and serve him earnestly who hath served thee so well. Go now, and till life’s latest hour be thou his servant who hath been so much thy friend. The Lord bless us for his name’s sake. Amen.