Unwillingness to Come to Christ
“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”— John v. 40.
OUR Lord was addressing himself to the unbelieving Jews. He told them that they had received abundant evidence of his being the sent one of God, but yet they had rejected him, and he solemnly charged this home upon their consciences. If you read the passage at home yon will see that in the thirty-sixth verse he reminded them that he had received the witness of John, and all men believed John to be a prophet. He had come as the herald of Christ, the promised Elijah, and he had borne witness, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Yet this clear testimony they had despised, and trodden under foot.
Next, our Lord claimed that his miracles and life-work were a sufficient witness to his Messiahship. “The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” There is, perhaps, no better evidence of the truth of our Saviour’s mission than his character, life, and miracles. The truths which he revealed, the perfections which he displayed, and the wonders which he wrought, all went to show that he was, indeed, anointed of God, and sent to be the Saviour of men.
Further, our Lord informs them that there was more testimony still, though in that evidence many of them had not shared. He says, “The Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.” Three times out of the excellent glory had the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” This was good evidence, whether they had heard it or not, and though he tells them that they had neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape, yet others had heard that voice, and seen the descent of the Spirit like a dove, and their testimony ought to have had weight with them. To you, dear friends, assembled here to-night, this is a very important piece of evidence, we rejoice as we hear that God has actually spoken by audible sounds out of heaven, and borne testimony to his Son that he is the Christ.
Then our Lord goes on to say that there was yet another evidence in which the Jews had not shared — the unbelieving ones— and that is, the internal evidence which, to those who have it, is the very best in all the world. Internal evidence, the evidence of a renewed heart, the evidence of joy and peace, the evidence of conscious pardon, the evidence of sanctification, this is the most convincing of all evidence to those who possess it. It is clear as the sun in the heavens, but they had not shared in it, and therefore felt it not. “Ye have not his word abiding in you; for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.”
And then the Master reminds them that there was yet a fifth mode of evidence which demonstrated him to be the Christ, and that was the Scriptures, of which he says, (if I may read the text in the indicative, and I think it must be so read)— “Ye search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Hence, if we will now forget the unbelieving Jews, and only think of unbelieving Gentiles, there are to us to-night evidences concerning the Lord Jesus of the most convincing character: there are John’s witness, the witness of the miracles, the witness of the voice of the Father out of heaven, the inner witness which many of our friends and kindred tell us of, and then the witness of the Holy Spirit in sacred Scripture. All these show that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Redeemer of man, that he is the appointed Mediator of the covenant of grace, and that through him there is immediate salvation for all who will believe on him.
The worst point about the whole conduct of the Jews was that, with all this witness in his favour, which they could not overturn, they would not come to him that they might have eternal life. At this moment there are many such unbelievers upon the face of the earth; and, what is more to the point, I fear, that at this hour, in this congregation, there are some who will not come unto Jesus that they may have life. There are persons in this great assembly, consisting as it does of individuals who have enough thought about religion to come out on a week-night to hear a sermon about it, who, nevertheless, will not come to Christ. Some of these persons are often here, familiar with these courts and familiar with this voice, perhaps so familiar that they have grown accustomed to it, and it has but little power with them; and yet though they will come to us they will not come to Christ. However, it is to them that I shall speak to-night, and I ask God’s people to pray that, while I am speaking, the Spirit of God may apply the word to the heart and to the conscience. I speak in great weakness and bodily pain, and therefore I hope to be aided and assisted by a double portion of the divine strength, and, if it be so, God’s glory will come of it.
Now, we shall notice, first of all, the great plan of salvation. Let us look at it: it is coming to Christ that we might have life. Secondly, I shall look, and ask you to look at, your position towards it— “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” Then, thirdly, I shall dwell for a few minutes upon what will certainly be the result of such conduct as this. And, fourthly, before we have done, let us hope for a change in your state of mind, so that before you sleep to-night it shall cease to be true of you that you will not come, and a joyful fact that you have come and found life eternal. Your immediate conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ shall be the great object of our discourse, and of the prayers which will go with it from the Lord’s people here assembled.
I. First, then, the text very briefly sets forth THE PLAN OF SALVATION. Christ speaks of it thus, “Come to me that ye might have life.” The way to be saved is to come to Christ. Christ is a person, a living person, full of power to save. He has not placed his salvation in sacraments, or books, or priests, but he has kept it in himself; and if you want to have it you must come to him. He is still the one source and fountain of eternal mercy. There is no getting it by going round about him, or only going near to him: you must come to him,, actually to him, and there must be a personal contact established between the Lord Jesus and your spirit. Of course it cannot be a natural contact, for his body is in the heavens and we are here; but it must be a spiritual contact, by which your mind, heart, thought, shall come to Christ, and faith, like a hand, shall touch him spiritually, grasp him by believing upon him, and receive life and grace from his divine power. Just as when the woman of old touched his garment’s hem, the virtue went out of him to her, and she was healed; so now, though he be yonder, faith’s long hand can touch his divine and human person, by confiding, trusting, and resting in him, and so virtue will flow from him into our soul, and our mind shall be healed of whatsoever disease it hath.
Think, then, at this very moment, of Jesus Christ, who was once nailed to the cross and died as the sacrifice for sin. Think of him as sitting now at the right hand of God, even the Father, clothed with infinite majesty and might; and if you are enabled now to repose your heart upon him, to believe that he is able to save you, and, by an act of faith, to commit your soul into his keeping that he may save it, you have done what he bids you do: you have come to him, and he will not cast you out, but the blessings of his salvation shall be yours. This is the coming which he sets before you: the drawing near of the mind, the heart, the soul, to Jesus, so as to trust in him— to trust in him at once for all that your soul needs.
The text, when it says, “Come to me that ye might have life,” implies that we are to come to Jesus Christ for everything; for life includes all that is absolutely needful for salvation, yea, salvation itself. It is the lowest stage of grace, and yet the term comprehends the very highest condition of the soul even when it enters into glory and enjoys life at the right hand of God. O sinner, by nature thou art dead in sin; and thou must be made alive or thou canst not dwell with God, for he is not the God of the dead but of the living. To be quickened thou must come into contact with him who is “the life,” even Jesus; and if thou come to him thou hast begun to live. Thou art also condemned to die on account of thy breaches of the law. Thou art condemned already, for thou hast sinned against the most high God. If thou come to Christ, the mediator, the sentence against thee shall be removed. Thou shalt live, for “there is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” As soon as the soul comes to Christ it receives pardon and justification, and these twain remove from ns the guilt which brought us under condemnation, and put upon us a righteousness which entitles us to stand before the most high God without fear, for “who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.”
Coming to Christ gives us actual spiritual life, and gives us also judicial life, so that we need not fear the axe of justice. Those cannot be condemned who are accepted in the Beloved, and all are thus accepted who have come to Christ. I will read you these two verses, as they certainly may be translated without the slightest violation of the original language. The text runs thus: “Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me; but ye will not come unto me that ye might have life,”— as if to show you that there are many persons who seek life, and even think that they have it, and yet have not found it, because they stop short of Christ. They Search the Scriptures, but they will not come to Jesus. Is it not, therefore, a good thing to search the Scriptures? Ay, that it is, and the more you search them the better; but still it is not the thing: it is not the saving work. You may be Bible readers and yet perish, but this can never happen if you come to Jesus by faith. I may put the same truth in another shape. Ye pray; some of you pray earnestly; but yet ye will not come unto Christ that ye might have life. Is it not a good thing to pray? Ay, indeed, a blessed thing to pray, but still it is not the thing; it is not the subject of the great saving command. The gospel precept is not, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that searcheth the Scriptures and prayeth shall be saved.” Nay, but the gospel runneth thus: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” There stands the healing touch— the act which brings us life: faith in the heart, and confession with the mouth. To these the promise is made, and of those who neglect these our Lord says, “ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”
Now, observe that this way of coming to Christ, which is indicated in the text, is the only way. There are other preachings, but there is only one true ministry, and the true ministry beareth witness concerning Christ. There are other supposed ways of salvation, but they shall be accursed that preach them; and woe unto them in the last great day who have deluded men’s souls with their “other gospels,” for “other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid— Jesus Christ the righteous.” “Believe and live” is the one unchanging oracle, and he that hath regard to it shall find eternal life. But take heed that ye despise not him that speaketh from heaven this wondrous word, “for there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby ye must be saved.” Come to Christ: come to the anointed Saviour; come to the Son of God; come to him who is both God and man; come to the Mediator; come to the Redeemer; come to the Great Substitute for sinners; come and trust him and you shall live. I have no other message for you. Do not reject it, for if you do you must perish without hope.
And this way, as it is the only one, blessed be God, is a sure way and an open way. Sure, for none ever tried it and failed. There lives not on earth— there lives not in hell— one soul that trusted in Christ and yet was not saved.
“There is life in a look at the Crucified One.
There is life at this moment for thee
Life in every instance. There has never yet been one that did confide alone in Jesus, that found faith to be useless, for faith is a living thing, and works by love, and purifies the soul, and saves the man through Jesus Christ.
And it is an open way as well as a sure one,— open to you to-night, dear friend. “Say not in thy heart, who shall ascend into heaven to bring Christ down? Or who shall descend into the deep to bring him up again from the dead? The word is nigh thee, on thy lip and in thy heart.” If thou wilt with thy heart believe in the Lord Jesus, and with thy mouth make confession of him, thou shalt be saved, even thou. The latter days have fallen upon us, the shades of the evening of the world and the damps of its autumn are all around us; but still there soundeth forth the cry, “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely.” Still is the fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
“Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.”
Thus have I put, as plainly as I can, the plan of salvation. That is it, and that is all of it: it is to come to Christ. If I talked much longer I might darken, but I could scarcely make clearer, the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus. It is to come to Christ, to trust him, to obey him, to yield yourself to him, to love him: so to come to him as to cleave to him on earth and be with him for ever and ever.
II. Now, secondly, and very solemnly, I want to speak to you unconverted ones, who have heard the gospel a long time, about YOUR POSITION IN REFERENCE TO THIS PLAN OF SALVATION. “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.”
That describes your position, and I earnestly beseech you to look it in the face. I would have you get alone and say to yourself deliberately aloud, “I will not come unto him, that I might have life.” But you reply, “That would be an awful thing to say.” I know it would be, but it is a more awful thing to my mind not to dare to say it and yet practically to be doing it. Are you ashamed to say it and yet not ashamed to do it? I know there is a curious feeling about some men, that if the preacher openly rebukes a vice which they practise they find fault with him for even speaking of it, and they say that he ought not to allude to such vile things, while in these very sins they live from day to day. This is the hypocrisy and cant of sinners, and it is detestable. And so men will live in unbelief, but if you ask them to say decidedly, “I do not believe,” or to assert openly, “I will not come unto Christ that I may have life,” they think we must be as wicked as they are to ask them to say any such thing. Now, what you dare do, you will surely dare to say, or else what a coward you are, and what a liar to your soul! If it is a right thing to do, it must be right to say. I do not ask you to go and proclaim it to others, to infect them with your disease, but I do ask you to say it to yourself— to label yourself as you are, and let it be distinctly understood by your own soul what you mean, and where your position is. I pray you act honestly and openly with your own heart. It surely cannot be wise to cheat yourself.
Ye will not come unto Jesus that ye might have life: we know this to be true of many of you, because you have not come. If you say it is not true that you will not come, then I reply, “How is it that you have not come?” If you have come, how readily do I withdraw the charge; with what joy and happiness do I bless the Lord that you have been led to his dear Son: but, if you have not come, dear friend— and you know yourself whether you have or not— then I cannot retract a syllable of the accusation, but I repeat the charge— you will not come unto him that you might have life. I know that you would rather put it another way, and you would say softly, “I cannot come.” But this is flattering language: do you know what “cannot” in such a case means in Scripture? It means the same thing as “will not.” If you had the will you would have the power, for, wherever there is the will, God has given it, and he does not give the will without giving the power. Though sometimes we have to cry out that “to will is present with us,” but “how to perform that which we would we find not,” yet that lasts not long. When the Lord gives the will he soon gives the way. His grace does not divide the two gifts, but the power comes with the will; and if you have the will to-night you have the power. That you cannot is true, but it is only true because you will not: your will is the seat of the weakness. I may say of a man that he cannot be chaste. Why? Because he will not be chaste; that is the only reason. I may say of another man that he cannot speak the truth. What do I mean by that? I mean that he is such a liar that he will not speak the truth. He could if he would, but there is the point: he will not. Our weakness to do good lies in the fact that our will itself is opposed to the right. “Ye will not come that ye might have life” is the true English of that excuse of yours, that you cannot. If you would you could. It is because you will not that you cannot.
But one of you will say, “It is not that I will not, but that I dare not, come to Jesus.” Ah, my dear friend, but if you say “I dare not,” I have to ask you on what grounds you support that remarkable fear. Dare not be saved? Dare not come to the Son of God whose very person is love? Dare not do what God commands you? for “this is his commandment, that ye believe on Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.” Turn that “dare not” round the other way: it were much better used so — “I dare not refuse to come; I dare not tarry any longer; I dare not disbelieve; I dare not distrust, I dare not keep my sin and let my Saviour go.” That is the true kind of “dare not,” but the other is an idle excuse. How idle it must be for a man to say, “I dare not obey my God and trust in his Son,” I leave your own consciences to judge. The truth is, “Ye will not come to Christ, that ye might have life.”
Let me hold you now, and ask you to think for a few minutes of what you are doing. Think of the life which you are spurning! There is no life for you anywhere but in Christ, and if you will not come unto him you will never have life: that is to say, you will not have that without which this poor existence of yours is only a lingering death. The grace which enables you to overcome sin, the joy which enables us to master trouble, the light which helps us to look into divine mysteries, the inward spiritual principle given in regeneration, by which we have fellowship with God and with his Son Jesus Christ— these are main ingredients in the life which you need. O my dear friend, life— the life of God in the soul — is to me the one thing needful, the one thing without which all the world were not worth the having. It were better to be poor and hungry and naked, than to be without this inner life. It is true life in this world to live by faith upon the Son of God; and that you are missing and despising. This is the life which made your mother what she was: you remember her holy living, and you cannot forget her triumphant dying. The life which makes men holy, happy, safe, and blessed is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” and this it is that you need. Will you reject it? O be not so foolish.
Remember that this life which you spurn is the life eternal. It is the life with which you are to live in another world, the life which shall qualify you to dwell with cherubim and seraphim and join their songs, the life which will enable you to stand before the throne of God and cast your crown at his feet in ecstasy of grateful joy. It is this that you do not care to have, for you will not come to Christ that you might have life. Do not continue thus to spurn the best of God’s gifts.
Let me tell you, the day will come when you will wring your hands in anguish to think that you despised that life. It may be that it will be so in the throes of death, but it is certain that it will be so amid the terrors of judgment, when there shall open wide before you the gates of hell, and before you shall blaze the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. They who are not born twice will have to die twice; and he that hath not life through faith in Jesus must die the second death, and endure its pangs for ever and for ever. See, then, the life you spurn, dear friend, and ask yourself whether this be wise.
Next think — and I wish I could speak to you as I would— think of the person whom you reject. “You will not come unto ME,” says Christ. I have been thinking of this all day— how it is that any man can be so base as not to come to my Lord Jesus Christ. Look at him: let me portray him to you as he completed your redemption. He hangs upon his cross: his face is all distained with the bruises and the spittle of the rough soldiery, and adown it trickle the red drops that have been started from his temples by the crown of thorns. His eyes are red with weeping and with watching, and his visage is more marred than that of any man. You can tell all his bones; his body is emaciated and worn with anguish. His hands the cruel nails have dragged and torn till you see the wide gaping wounds from which the blood distils. His feet are the same, they are both founts of blood: and then his side! Behold his side, from which gushed blood and water from the deep wound made by the spear. It is he who thus redeemed mankind. The Lord of glory hangs there! The only begotten Son of the Highest, the Prince of the kings of the earth, hath emptied himself of all glory for you— hath given up himself to bleed and to die a felon’s death for you. And what is your attitude towards him? You turn your backs upon him! Is it nothing to you? “Is it nothing to you that Jesus should die?” Do you mean that it is nothing to you that Jesus should bleed to redeem men? Do you mean to refuse a share in that redemption? Do you utterly reject the bloody ransom price he paid upon the cross? If it be so, then put it down in plain English— put it down in black and white, and sign your name to it, I refuse Christ’s blood. To write it down is the very best thing you can do, if it be so indeed; because, perhaps, when you have read the dreadful lines your conscience may be lashed into something like life, and you may begin to look at him whom you have pierced, and mourn because of him. Do think of this, you that will not come unto him that you might have life.
But, lo, I see him yet again. He is in heaven now. Quite another picture may we set before you. There he is at the right hand of God, even the Father, clothed with a snow-white garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle, distributing crowns and thrones worshipped by ten thousand times ten thousand blood-washed spirits, and angels in all their ranks. Now be ye sure of this, that he it is to whom you will not come. From his glory as well as from his shame you turn away. It is well for me that I do not feel just now about it as I did before I entered this pulpit, for if I did, I could only stand here and burst into tears, and could not dare to say what I am uttering now. This is so unkind to Jesus! So ungenerous to Jesus! I cannot bear it. It is at the price of your souls that you reject him. Will you sooner be damned than have him? Do you mean that? What strange hate is this, that to show your despite of Jesus you will destroy yourselves? O foolish sinners! Foolish sinners! What mad freak of sin is this, that you will bear your sins and dare the death they bring, sooner than have Christ to be your Saviour? Yet it is so, so long as it is true that you will not come to him that you might have life.
Now, think again what it is you are doing. What is this which you refuse to do? What is the action you refuse? You refuse to come to him. If it were to come to Sinai, where the trumpet waxes exceeding loud and long, and where the flaming lightnings flash forth amidst tremendous thunders, I could understand your reluctance: but the deed you refuse to do is to come to Calvary, to come to Jesus, where nothing sounds but love and mercy. You will not come to him. That means, with some of you, that you will not even think about Christ. He may die, but you cannot trouble to think his redemption over; he may rise, and thus may justify his people, but you have something else to think about; and that something else with some of you is earning your daily bread. With others of you it is only how you may pass the hours, and go from one amusement to another. Salvation is worth Christ dying for, but not worth your thinking about! Alas, how the mass of people in London think of anything except Christ and their souls! The papers ring with some fresh thing, and the news is on everybody’s tongue; but my Lord’s death for sinners— oh, it is a bore, is it not? It is a weariness to hear about it, and “sermons are very dull” they say. It is because men’s hearts are dead that sermons are dull. Jesus is not endured because men will not come unto him and live. O blessed Spirit, turn their hard hearts and stubborn wills, and turn them now.
While some will condescend to think a little, yet they utterly refuse to come to the point and believe. Now, surely, the very least thing that the Lord Jesus Christ can claim of us is that we believe him. When has he ever been false? What is there about his character that is untrue? It is due to truth to render to it our confidence and our trust; and when we know that this faith, this believing him, this trusting him, which is his due, is, nevertheless, simple as it is, the highest and most saving act of the mind, it is strange that we should still refuse to believe. What Jesus claims is that we so believe him as to obey him. Now, if he were a tyrant we might very well be reluctant to obey: but he is so gracious, his yoke is so easy, and his burden is so light, that it is foolish as well as wicked to stand out. All his followers tell us that there never was such a Master, and that they wish they could altogether obey his every will and wish, for obedience to him is bliss to them; and yet you refuse to yield obedience to such a Master? Is this wise or right? He asks your love— the love of your heart. What a heart that must be which cannot and will not love him! How foul, how vile, how dead, how black, how stony is the heart that cannot love him who gave his heart’s blood to redeem us! O soul, soul, soul, if you perish, it is not because the gospel was hard and exacting, and its terms severe, or because the saving act was impossible to you and out of your reach: you perish because you will not come unto him that you might have life.
I desire you still to keep your eye fixed on that fact, my friend, that you are acting as if you had said, “I will not come to Christ that I might have life.” Think of why you will not come. Can you give me some good reason why you will not come? Perhaps you answer that you hope to find salvation somewhere else. These Jews fancied so. They thought that they would find it in the Scriptures. “In them ye think ye have eternal life.” Hence a personal Christ was rejected, that they might go on searching into the original text, counting the letters, and disputing over knotty points. They were, however, mistaken: the book cannot save. Perhaps you feel that you can get more good by trying to understand doctrine than by coming to Christ. You will be bitterly mistaken. However excellent the Scriptures are, if you put Scripture in the place of Christ you have made a choice, and you have set your choice in opposition to God’s choice, which is this— “that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” It is not on “it” — that you are to believe, but on “him whom he hath sent.” That is the great saving point, the person, the very person of the Lord Jesus Christ. O beloved, I wish you could see this— that Jesus Christ gathers up in his person all the teaching of Scripture; that in his blessed person is all the efficacy of his redemptive work for men, and that what is to be done is to come to him. When you do not believe in Jesus you refuse to honour the Son of God; and he hath said, “He that refuseth me, refuseth him that sent me.” You refuse God when you refuse his Christ.
Possibly, dear friend, the reason why you will not come is that you indulge some secret sin which you cannot give up. O that secret sin! That secret sin! That worm at the root of the soul! I know not what it is, my friend, but God knows, and thou knowest. Is it thy pride? Canst thou not stoop to be saved by mercy, through the grace of God? Or is it a fleshly lust from which thou canst not separate thyself? Is it dear to thee as thy right hand? Off with it, man! “It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” Is sin holding thee back from Christ, from life, from heaven? Dear as this Barabbas may be, do not prefer him to thy Lord. Away with the sin, it is a viper! Away with it, or else God will say, “Away with thee.”
I fear, in some cases, that the chain which holds men back from Christ is sheer frivolity. It is so with a great many young people; and there are some old people who are quite as trifling, they have grey hairs on the outside of their heads, but none within. Their minds are none the riper for being old. They are silly, frivolous, superficial, trifling with everything, never serious upon any theme, and above all others they need to be sharply rebuked. Ah, sirs, if you must play, I wish you would play with something cheaper than the blood of Christ. If you must trifle, trifle with something that will cost you less than your souls. It seems a dreadful thing for a man to stake his whole estate on the running of a horse, as some have done, but it is less foolish than to stake your endless destiny upon the possibility of your living another week, or another day. Yet you are doing this: you know you are. God awaken you, dear friend! May he speedily awaken you from such folly as this.
Now, I want you, dear hearer, to come back to the point, and look at the fact that you will not come to Christ. You will do anything else, but you will not come to Christ. You will come out to our special meetings, but why do you come? What do you come to these meetings for, if you do not want Christ? And you will pray from mere habit: you would not like to go to sleep without praying after a fashion: but what do you pray for, if you will not have the best gift which God can give you, even Jesus Christ? What is there worth praying for, if you refuse Christ? Yes, you will search the Scriptures, but in the name of reason what for? Why do men go into the harvest fields if they want no grain? Why do they dig in the mines if they do not want to find metals? The Scriptures (with all reverence of them do we speak) are but the mine, and Christ is the treasure; they are the fields, but he is the harvest. Take Christ out of the Bible, and what is it? He is the sum and the substance of it all; and when you search the Scriptures you should search them that you may find him, or else you misuse and abuse them. But why this strange reluctance? “Oh, I want to feel,” says one. Yes, I know. You would like to feel deep convictions; yon would like anything rather than to come to Christ. “But,” says one, “I must have time to think.” I know: you want to be saved by your thinkings— anything is more desirable to you than coming to Christ. But come to Christ just as you are, just as you are now, while now his Spirit pleads with you. Ah, you will not do this, some of you will not, and therefore I must leave you. Let us pass on to the third point very briefly.
III. Let us consider thoughtfully WHAT WILL BE THE RESULT OF THIS. I will put myself into your case now, and speak for you.
“I will not come unto Christ that I might have life.” When I have said that, what does it involve? It involves that any good feelings which I may have had through hearing the preaching of the gospel, or through listening to the addresses of earnest Christian men, are as the morning cloud, and as the early dew. They are all to end in nothing, and to pass away. They cannot do me good. I have heard sermons in vain; I have read the Scriptures in vain; I have attended prayer-meetings in vain. If I will not come to Christ all these things are in vain. But what next? Why, then I may expect that the feelings I now have (for I am conscious of some measure of holy desire) will pass away. I shall grow harder, and harder, and harder in heart, and more indifferent, and more callous, as time rolls on. And what will happen to me then? Why, this— that I never shall come to Christ at all.
I suppose that some of you, though you will not come yet, think you will come to Jesus one day. Oh, if it were told you, to a dead certainty, that you never would come, you would stand aghast. “Ah, me!” you would say, “must I then be lost for ever? Shall I never come to Christ?” My dear friend, it looks very likely that you never will be saved. If you are to come to Jesus, why not now? Why not now? Every day adds to the chances, if I may use such an expression, adds to the deadly “odds” against you, that you never will come to Christ. Ah, it is a prediction which might be terribly accurate if we were to say that some of you who have oftentimes been awakened, and yet have gone to sleep again, will sleep for ever, and will never lift up your eyes till you awake in the flames of hell. Ah, God, of thy mercy prevent this! But this is the last result of all. If I will not come unto Christ that I might have life, then I must die eternally, and be driven for ever from the presence of God, and from the glory of his power. And, O my soul, what will that be? What will that be? Ask those who know what it is. Ask Dives while he begs Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue. Ask those whose perpetual reply is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. But I will not pause to give you their answers, this would be too dreadful. Do look at your future. If ye will not come unto Jesus that ye might have life, ye shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on you.
IV. And now, last of all, LET US HOPE THAT THERE WILL BE A CHANGE, and a change to-night. I felt while I was speaking that some of you were saying, “No, I dare not say that I will not come.” Well, then, there is only one other word to say: “I will come” O that you would say, “I will come,” and then carry out the resolve at once. “He is worthy of my trust: I will trust him. He is worthy of my obedience: if he will help me, I will obey him. He is worthy of my love: by his rich grace I will love him— I will, I will.” Thank God, dear friend, if you have said that, though it has been with trembling lip: for you may come. He bids you. His own words are, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” You may come. His church invites you, and his Spirit invites you, for “the Spirit and the Bride say Come.” We who have ourselves come would all invite you, for it is written, “Let him that heareth say, Come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Do you feel a softness of soul coming over you? Does something whisper, “Now is mercy’s hour”? Then, I beseech thee, quench not the Spirit, and tarry no longer. Nay, tarry not even to leave that pew, and find thy little chamber, and fall on thy knees, but here and now yield thyself to him. It will be the best moment thou hast ever lived — the beginning of days to thee. As the night when Israel came out of Egypt shall this night be to thy spirit if thou yield thyself.
“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Christ’s kind arms I fall;
He is my strength and righteousness
My Jesus, and my all.” —
What he bids you do is two-fold, believe and be baptized. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” First, with the heart man believeth, and next with his mouth he maketh confession of Jesus; baptism is the way to make confession according to Christ’s own rule, to which I charge you to be obedient, and may he accept you and bless you this night, for his name’s sake.
We shall sing this one verse, and I ask nobody to sing it who does not mean it.
“’Tis done— the great transaction’s done:
I am my Lord’s, and he is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice divine.”
Now, for once do not stand up, but sit still and sing it just as you are — those who can sing it; as for the rest of you, the Lord have mercy upon you. Amen.