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May 27th, 1860 by C. H. SPURGEON (1832-1892)
"Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations." Ezekiel 16:1-2 .
And how think you did the prophet proceed in order to accomplish the solemn commission which had been thus intrusted to him? Did he begin by reminding the people of the law which was delivered to Moses on the top of Sinai? Did he picture to them the exceeding fearfulness and quaking of the leader of Israel's host when he received that stony law in the midst of thunders and lightnings? Or did he, do you think, proceed to point out to them the doom which must inevitably befall them, because they had broken the divine law, and violated God's holy statutes? No, my brethren; if he had been about to show to the then unprivileged gentiles their iniquity, he might have proceeded on legal grounds; he was now however about to deal with Jerusalem, the highly-favoured city, and here he does not bring to their mind the law; he does not begin dealing out law-thunders to them at all; he fetches obligations as his arguments to convince them of sin from the grace of God, rather than from the law of God. And, my brethren, as I am about this evening to address you who profess to be followers of the Son of God, and who by faith have "fled for refuge to the hope set before you in the gospel," as my business is to convince you of sin, I shall not begin by taking you to Sinai, I shall not attempt to show you what the law is, and what that penalty is which devolves upon every man that breaks it; but, feeling that you are not under the law, but under grace, I shall draw arguments from the grace of God, from his gospel, from the favour which he has shown to you arguments more powerful than any which can be fetched from the law, to show you the greatness of your sin, and the abomination of any iniquity which you have committed against the Lord your God. I shall take Ezekiel's method as my model, and proceed to copy it thus: First, let us consider the abomination of our sin, aggravated as it is by the remembrance of what we were when the Lord first looked upon us; secondly, let us see our sins in another light in the light of what the Lord has made us since those happy days; and then, let us proceed to notice what our sins have themselves been; and we shall have, I think, three great lamps which may cast a terrible light on the great wickedness of our sins. I. First, then, let us consider our iniquities I mean those committed since conversion, those committed yesterday, and the day before, and to-day and let us see their sinfulness in the light of what we were when the Lord first looked upon us. In the words of the prophet Ezekiel, observe what was our "birth and our nativity." He says of us, "Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canan. Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite." Now, Canaan, as you know, was a cursed one, and the land of Canaan here meant, refers to the cursed people whom God utterly gave up to be destroyed with the sword, that not one of them might escape. Mark it, our nativity and our birth were of the land of the curse. "Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite." Though when the Lord is speaking of his people as they are in covenant with him, he tells them that their father was Abraham, whom he did choose, and their mother was Sarah whom he loved; yet when he speaks of their natural estate, he compares their parentage to that mixed offspring of an Amorite father and a Hittite mother. Ay, and what was our parentage, men and brethren? Let us look back and wonder. Surely our father Adam's wickedness was in us. Our early childhood began to discover the latent sparks of our sin. Scarcely do we remember the time when they were sparks, so early were they fanned into a flame. When any of you look back to your father's house, to the place from which God called you, you may be constrained to wonder, for I know there are many members of this church here present who are the only ones out of a family who were ever called to know the Lord. Your father, perhaps, lived and died a drunkard. You can look back to the two or three that you remember of your ancestors, and they have been "without God and without hope, strangers to the commonwealth of Israel." Then what was there in you or in your father's house that God should set his love on you? Indeed, as for those of us who have been blessed with pious parents, we have nothing to boast of our ancestry, for we all were "born in sin and shapen in iniquity." Hath the Lord loved us, though there was nothing in our birth or parentage to invite regard or merit esteem? Then surely every sin that we commit now, is aggravated by that sovereign choice, that infinite compassion that doated upon us, though our birth was vile, and our original base. Didst thou take me from the dunghill, O my God, and do I sin against thee? Didst thou take the beggar in his rags and lift him up to make him sit among thy sons and daughters, the very blood-royal of heaven? And has that beggar afterwards become a rebel against thee? Oh sin, thou art an accursed thing indeed! When I think of that grace which has thus honored the dishonorable, exalted the mean things of this world, and saved creatures that were the offscouring of creation, how I blush for the ingratitude that can forget such tender obligations, and do despite to such extraordinary unmerited goodness! Further, the prophet goes on to say that not only their parentage was base, but their condition was dangerous in the extreme. That which was absolutely necessary for the life of an infant had in this case been utterly neglected. The babe had been cast away as though it were useless, and its life unworthy of preservation. Offspring deserted, having none to tend it or care for its welfare, may perhaps awaken the lowest, the most contemptuous kind of pity. Was not that just our condition when the Lord looked upon us? We had not been severed from the old natural stock of Adam; there had been no water used to wash us from our natural pollution, or to make our conscience supple, our neck pliant, or our knees bend before the power of grace. We had not been swaddled or cared for. There was everything in our condition that would tend to destruction, but nothing in us that would tend upwards towards God. Yet there we were, dying, nay dead, rotten, corrupted, so abominable that it might well be said, "Bury this dead one out, of my sight," when Jehovah passed by and he said unto us, "live." Oh! some of you can remember how you were steeped up to the very neck in lust. Pardon me, brethren, when I allude to these things that you may be led to see your present sins in the light of the mercy which has blotted out your past iniquities. It is not long since with some of you that oaths larded your conversation daily, you could scarcely speak without blasphemy; as for others of us who were preserved from open sin, how base were we! The recollection of our youthful iniquity crushes us to the very earth. When we think how we despised the training we received, could laugh at a mother's prayers and contemn all the earnest tender exhortations which a godly parent's heart afforded to us, we could hide ourselves in dust and ashes and never indulge another thought of self-satisfaction. Yet though sovereign mercy has put all these sins away; though love has covered all these iniquities, and though everlasting kindness has washed away all this filth, we have gone on to sin. We have gone on to sin thank God not to sin as we did before, not so greedily, not as the ox drinketh down water; still we have transgressed, and that in the light of mercy, which has "blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins. Our sins, since redemption was revealed to our souls, are abominations indeed! If I had known, O my brethren, in that hour when Christ took away my sin if I had known what an untoward disposition I had then to show, and what broken vows I should have now to reflect upon, I do not think I could have borne the revelation. If some of us who are here present, rejoicing in covenant love and mercy, could have a clear view of all the sins we have committed since conversion, of all the sins we shall commit till we land in heaven, I question whether our senses might not reel under the terrible discovery of what base things we are. I am sure if any man had told me that my heart would ever grow cold, that I should ever forget my Lord and Master, and get worldly if an angel from heaven had told me these things, in the day when I first saw his face and looked and loved and lived, I should have said, "Is thy servant a dog that I should do this thing?" When I sat down and viewed the flowing of his precious blood and knew that my sins were put away, I thought I should never sin against him any more. I dreamed, and was it only a dream, that I should spend and be spent in his service; that no toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too great. And here we find ourselves flinching, and drawing back, and finding excuses for leaving his service; nay, worse than that, smiting the face of our best Friend and grieving his Holy Spirit, and often causing him to hide his face from us by reason of our sin. Well might Moses say, "I beseech thee, O Lord, show me not my wretchedness." One thing else appears designed to represent our sins as blacker still. It appears from the fifth verse, that this child, this Jewish nation, when God loved it had none other to love it. "None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion on thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field to the loathing of thy person in the day that thou wast born." Do any of you know what it is to be cast out to the loathing of your person? We will not say that our character had become such that we were loathed by others, but well we remember the time when we loathed ourselves; when we could say with John Banyan that we wished we had been a dog or a toad sooner than have been a man, because we felt ourselves so vile in having sinned against God. Oh! I can recollect the season when my fondest wish was that I had never been born, because I so sinned against God. The sight of my iniquity was such, that horror took hold of me and amazement of soul overwhelmed me. I was indeed cast out to my own loathing if not to the loathing of others; and indeed it is no wonder if a man, when he has his eyes opened, loathes himself, for there is nothing so loathsome as an unregenerate heart a heart that is like a den of unclean birds full of all manner of filthiness and ravenousness. The greatest abomination that ever existed physically is not to be compared with the moral abominations that dwell in the unrenewed heart. It is a miniature hell, it is pandemonium in embryo; you have but to let it grow, and the vileness which is in the human heart by nature would soon make a hell if there were no hell; and yet, my brethren, when we were loathed, when even our person was loathed, he loved us. Great God I how couldst thou love that which we ourselves hated? Oh! 'tis grace, 'tis grace, 'tis grace indeed! Where is free-will, my brethren; where is free-will? There is no such thing. "Nomen est sine re," said Martin Luther, it is a name for nothing. When we think of what we were; the thought of merit vanishes; it at once refutes itself the moment we look it in the face. It was grace free, rich, unconstrained, sovereign grace which looked on us. I am sure if there be any who think there was some good thing in them that invited God's attention, or led him to look upon them, I can only say I know there was nothing of the sort in me; there was everything to hate, nothing to desire; everything to detest, nothing to delight in; much that he might spend his hatred on, but nothing which could command his affection or his love; still he loved us, still he loved us, and yet O ye heavens be astonished yet we have sinned against him since then, we have forgotten him, we have doubted him, we have grown cold towards him; we have loved self at times better than we have loved our Redeemer, and have sacrificed to our own idols and made gods of our own flesh and self-conceit, instead of giving him all the glory and the honor for ever and for ever. This is putting sin in a gospel light. I pray you, brethren, if my speech be feeble and I cannot make the light shine on these things, spend a little season, as you can, in retirement when you are at home, look at your sins in the light of the mercy which looked on you when you were thus dead, and lost, and hopelessly ruined. And surely the blush will mantle on your cheek, and you will bow your knee with many a tear, and cry, "Lord have mercy upon me! O, my, Father cast not away thy child! forgive a child that spurned his Father's love! forgive a wife who has played the harlot against a divine husband! pardon a soul that has been traitorous to its own Lord, to him who is its life, its joy, its all! "
II. We must now pass on to another point. We have to think of what the Lord has done for us since the time he first loved us. I have made a mistake, brethren; I have made a mistake. "The time when he first loved us," did I say ! Why, before all time, when there was no day but the unrising unsetting day of eternity, a beginning that knew no beginning, years that had no date. He loved his people then. I meant to refer rather to THE TIME WHEN HE BEGAN TO MANIFEST HIS LOVE TO US PERSONALLY AND INDIVIDUALLY. Well then, observe, that one of the chief things he did to us was to spread his skirt over us, and cover our nakedness. He washed us with the water of regeneration, yea, and truly washed away the stain of our natural sanguinity. Oh, that day, that day of days, as the days of heaven upon earth, when our eyes looked to Christ and were lightened, when the burden rolled from off our back! Oh, that hour, that earliest of all our gracious remembrances, that first of all dates, when we began to live, when we stepped down into that bath of atoning blood and came out of it fairer than any queen, more glorious than the daughters of men, white as alabaster, pure as crystal, like the driven snow without spot or blemish! That day we never can forget, for it always rises to our recollection the moment we begin to speak about pardon the day of our own pardon, of our own forgiveness. The galley-slave may forget the hour when he ceased to tug the oar. The poor chattel of his master may forget the time when he escaped from the accursed slave-holder's grasp, and became a freeman. The sick man may forget the day when, after being long worn with pain till he was emaciated and at the gates of death, the blood began to leap in his veins, and the glow of health began to invigorate his frame. The culprit who lay shivering beneath the heads-man's axe may forget the hour when suddenly his pardon was granted and his life was spared. But if all these should consign to oblivion their surprising joys, the pardoned soul can never, never, never forget. Unless reason should lose her seat, the quickened soul can never cease to remember the time when, Jesus said to it, "Live." Oh! and has Jesus pardoned all our sins and have we sinned still? Has he washed me, and have I defiled myself again? Did he shed his blood to cleanse me and have I returned again to my natural depravity? Oh, these are abominations indeed! I have heard some say that the sins of believers are but trifles. Ah! my brethren, I do think if there be any difference, the sins of disciples of Christ are a thousand times worse than the sins of unbelievers, because they sin against a gospel of love, a covenant of mercy; against sweet experience and against precious promises. The sinner may kick against the pricks, that is bad enough; but to kick against the wounds of Christ, is worse still. Yet that is what you and I have done. We have sinned since the dear hour that cleansed our guilt away. Nor did the gracious things we have mentioned exhaust the lovingkindness of the Lord. When he had washed us, according to the ninth verse, he anointed us with oil. Yes, and that has been repeated many and many a time. "Thou hast anointed my head with oil." He gave us the oil of his grace; our faces were like priests, and we went up to his tabernacle rejoicing. Have ye received the Spirit, my brethren? Oh, think how great an honour that God should dwell in man. The centurion said he was not worthy that Christ should come under the roof of his house, and yet the Holy Spirit has not merely come under your roof but has come into your heart; there he dwells and there he reigns. Yet, my dear brethren, yet you have sinned. With God's oil on your head you have sinned. With the Holy Ghost in your heart you have sinned. Ah! if any man carried God within him, would he go and sin? Shall the body that is the temple of the Holy Ghost be desecrated? Yet that has been the case with us. We have had God within us, and yet we have sinned. Marvel of marvels! He that would defile the house in which the king lived, would certainly be guilty of high insult; but he who defiles the temple in which the Holy Ghost resides what shall be said of him? This is what we have done. O Lord, have mercy upon thy people! Now we see our abomination in this clear light, we beseech thee pardon it, for Jesu's sake! But further, we find that he not only washed us, he not only anointed us with oil; but he clothed us, and clothed us sumptuously. The rich man in the parable of Jesus was clothed in scarlet, but we are better robed than he, for we are clothed in broidered-work. "Jesus spent his life to work my robe of righteousness." His sufferings were so many stitches when he made the broidered-work of my righteousness. "I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin." Our shoes have been as iron and brass, and as our day, so has our strength been. We have had always grace hitherto sufficient for us. "And I girded thee about with fine linen," the righteousness of saints. He has given to us the virtues of the Holy Spirit, the robe of sanctification; and then he has covered us with silk, even with that all-glorious robe of righteousness "woven from the top throughout without seam," in which all his people stand arrayed. There never was any one dressed so well as God's people. Outwardly they may wear fustian and calico; they may come up to the house of God dressed in the garb of poverty, but they have robes which men cannot see, though such as angels can see and admire. A saint's wardrobe would be a matchless thing to look at if we could but see it with the eyes of our understanding illuminated. Have you ever been taken to see the wardrobes of some great personages, their multiplied garments the robes which they wore in state? You have wondered at their lavish expenditure; but see your own, see those shoes, that girding of fine linen, and that covering of silk. Why, all the wealth of mankind could not buy an ell of that stuff; they could not procure a hem, much less the entire robe with which the righteous are adorned and made glorious. And yet they have turned aside and sinned. What should you think of a bishop in his lawn sleeves defiling himself with outcasts in the street? What would think you of a king with a crown on his head going to break the laws of his kingdom? What would you think if a monarch should invest us with all the insignia of nobility, and we should afterwards violate the high orders conferred upon us while adorned with the robes of state? This is just what you and I have done. We have had all these costly robes and glorious garments, and then we have gone and sinned against our God. O ingratitude of the vilest sort! Where are there words to denounce it? What language can fully express it? We have but time to notice each one of these briefly; we have not only received clothing, but ornaments. "I have decked thee also with ornaments, and put bracelets upon thy hands and a chain on thy neck, and I put a jewel on thy forehead and earrings in thy ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head." Just like a loving husband, not content with giving his wife an ornament, he gives her many. And the Lord, you see, gives to his Church all the ornaments she can possibly desire. There are ornaments for her ears, a crown for her head, bracelets for her hands, and a chain for her neck. We cannot be more glorious; Christ has given the Church so much, she could not have more. He could not bestow upon her that which is more beautiful, more precious, or more costly. She has all she can receive. The Lord Jesus has bestowed all his wealth, and all heaven's wealth upon his Church, and you and I are the inheritors and wearers of these precious ornaments. He has given to us jewels in our ears a hearing ear; he has given us the jewel in our forehead a holy courage for his name; he has given us a crown upon our head a garland crown of lovingkindness and tender mercy; he has given us bracelets upon our hands, that whatsoever we touch may be graced, that our conduct may be beautiful and lovely, an ornament to the profession which we have espoused; and he has been pleased to put a chain about our necks, that we may ever be known to be right noble personages noble of rank, exalted of station. Nevertheless, in the face of all these, we have sinned against him. Dear friends, it may seem like repetition when I go over the list of these mercies, but I cannot help it. I should like every one of these to be as a trumpet in your ear to wake you up to look at your sins, and as a dagger in the heart of your pride to stab it and make it die. By these mercies of God, I adjure you, do hate your sins; by these lovingkindnesses, these favours, immense, innumerable, unsearchable, by these covenant gifts, every one of them more precious, than a world of diamonds, I beseech you hate the sins that have grieved your gracious Lord; and made his Spirit mourn. To see my sins in the lurid light of Sinai were bad enough, but to see them in the mellow radiance of his countenance and in the light that is shed from the cross of my dying Master, this is to see sin in all its blackness and all its heinousness. Never, dear brethren, tamper with sin; never have anything to do with those who think sin is little because grace is great. Shun, I beseech you, any man who comforts his heart with the hope that the crimes of God's children are mere trifles. No; though there be precious blood to wash it all away, yet sin is an awful thing. Though there be covenant promises to keep the believer secure, yet sin is a damning thing. Though there be eternal love which will not execute the divine anger upon us, yet sin is a thrice cursed thing. In fact, I would strain language to find an epithet for that sin which dares to nestle in the heart of a man whom God has loved and chosen. I know that there is a tendency among some ministers I will not say to whom I allude; you may readily guess who preach a gospel which does seem as if it tolerated iniquity. Oh, come not into their secret, I pray you. Better for you, though it were one of the worst things that could be, if you were to endorse Arminianism, rather than Antinomianism. Of the two devils I think the white devil is the least devilish. As Rowland Hill said, "The one is a white devil and the other a black one." They are both devils, I doubt not, but still one is more fearful in its character than the other. Have nothing to do with that horrible spirit which has done more to destroy sound doctrine in our churches than anything else. Arguments will never break Antinomianism down. We are not afraid to meet our antagonists in fair and open battle. The ill lives of some who call themselves Calvinists, and are no more Calvinists than they are Jews, have brought that doctrine into great disrepute, and we often have flung in our faces the wickedness of some professors, and the rash, not to say wicked teaching of some of our preachers, as a reason why our brethren should be accounted worthy of all scorn. The more gracious God is, the more holy you should be; the more love he manifests to you, the more love should you reflect to him. III. And now, I shall close by noticing in the third place, WHAT OUR SINS REALLY HAVE BEEN. We will not enter into particulars, we have each one, a different way. It were idle therefore for me to think of describing the sins of such an assembly as the present. The germs, the vileness, the essence of our own sin, has lain in this that we have given to sin and to idols things that belong unto God. "Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them, and tookest thy broidered garments and coveredst them, and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them. My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour." I have done this let me make confession for myself, and then I admonish you each one apply the case to yourselves. It has been a happy Sabbath day, my soul has enjoyed personal fellowship with Christ: I have gone up in the pulpit and had liberty of speech, and power has attended the words; there has been manifestly the Holy Spirit in the midst of his Church; I have, gone home, had access to God in prayer, and enjoyed again communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. I go forth once more to unfold the things of the gospel, and with delight to my own soul, have I heard afterwards of saints who have been refreshed, and sinners converted. This was like "fine flour, and honey and oil" that God had given to me. What did he give it me for? Why, that I might offer it to him, and give him all the glory. And do you know, I have caught myself saying, "Ah, you have done well to-day; you are growing in grace, and living near to God." What! am I offering God's blessings before the shrine of my abominable pride? Am I making an offering to Moloch, and bringing the very gifts and love-tokens of my Father, to be laid upon the altar of my own pride? This is abominable indeed! This is so vile that no language can execrate it sufficiently. To offer my own work is bad enough, but to offer God's grace to idols, to spend his mercies in the gratification of my flesh to look upon my own self as having done it, to sacrifice to my own conceit, to make an oblution to self of that which God has given me this is atrocious enough to make a man fall very humbly before God, to feel the bitterness of his sin, and ask for pardon. You have transgressed in like manner, I dare say. When you pray at a prayer meeting, the devil insinuates the thought, and you entertain it, "What a fine fellow I am!" You may detect yourself when you are talking to a friend of some good things God has done, or when you go home and tell your wife lovingly the tale of your labour, there is a little demon of pride at the bottom of your heart. You like to take credit to yourself for the good things you have done. I am speaking of you all; there is no exception here. Does not a little bit of the old man creep out, just as when Jehu said, "Come see my zeal for the Lord." Now what is that but taking God's fine meal, and oil, and honey, and offering them to yourselves? It there should be an innocent man, one who pleads "not guilty" upon this matter he can get up and go out if he likes; but I am sure you will all sit still, at least, all who know your own hearts. Your own experience will compel you to say " I must confess it before God." But have you not noticed that there are other ways besides this? Sometimes a man has another god besides pride. That god may be his sloth. He does not want to do much; he reads in the Bible that there is a finished righteousness, that the covenant of grace is complete. Have you never detected yourself, when inclined to be dilatory in spiritual things, leaning on the oar of the covenant, instead of pulling at it, and saying, "Well, these things are true, but there is no great need for me to stir myself." Ah! you have been quietly nestling down to sleep, even under the influence of the sweet wine of the covenant of grace. It is sad that it should be so. It would be bad enough if we had picked up an excuse from our own logic; but instead of that, we have gone to God's book to feign apologies for our idleness. Was not that taking his mercies and sacrificing them to false deities? Sometimes it is even worse. God gives to his people riches, and they offer them before the shrine of their covetousness. He gives them talent, and they prostitute it to the service of their ambition. He gives them judgment, and they pander to their own advancement, and seek not the interest of his kingdom. He gives them influence; that influence they use for their own aggrandisement, and not for his honour. What is this but parallel to taking his gold, and his jewels, and hanging them upon the neck of Ashtaroth. Ah! let us take care when we think of our sins, that we set them in this light. It is taking God's mercies to lavish them upon his enemies. Now, if you were to make me a present of some token of your regard, I think it would be the meanest and most ungracious thing in the world I could do to take it over to your enemy, and say, "There, I come to pay my respects." To pay my respects to your foe with that which had been the token of your favour! There are two kings at enmity with one another two powers that have been at battle, and one of them has a rebellious subject, who is caught in the very act of treason, and condemned to die. The king very graciously pardons him, and then munificently endows him. "There," says he, "I give you a thousand crown-pieces;" and that man takes the bounty, and devotes it to increasing the resources of the king's enemies. Now, that were a treason and baseness too vile to be committed by worldly men. Alas then! that is what you have done. You have bestowed on God's enemies what God gave to you as a love token. Oh, men and brethren, let us bow ourselves in dust and ashes before God; let us turn pride out to-night if we can; but it will be hard work. Let us try, in the strength of the Spirit, that we may at least put our foot on its neck, and as we come to the Lord's table, may we have a joy for pardoned guilt, but may we mourn that we have pierced the Lord, and mourn most that we continue to pierce him still, and sometimes put him to an open shame by our disregard for his laws. The Lord bless this to his people; and as for those who are unconverted, let them recollect that if the righteous have cause to weep, and if the sins of the saint be abominable, what must be the iniquity of that man who goeth on still in his sins and repenteth not! The Lord grant to such, grace to repent, and pardon, for Jesus' sake.
How Saints May Help the Devil
July 24th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"That thou mayest bear thing own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them." Ezekiel 16:54 .
It is not a comfortable state to be at enmity with God, and the sinner knows this. Although he perseveres in his rebellion against the Most High, and turns not at the rebuke of the Almighty, but still goeth on in his iniquity, desperately seeking his own destruction, yet is he aware in his own conscience that he is not in a secure position. Hence it is that all wicked men are constantly on the look out for excuses. They find these either in pretended resolutions to reform at some future period, or else in the declaration that reformation is out of their power, and that, acting according to their own nature, they must continue to go on in their iniquities. When a man is willing to find an excuse for being God's enemy he need never be at a loss. He who hath to find a fact may find some difficulty; but he who would forge a lie may sit at his own fireside and do it. Now, the excuses of sinners are all of them false; they are refuges of lies; and therefore we need not wonder that they are exceedingly numerous, and very easy to come at. One way in which sinners frequently excuse themselves is by endeavoring to get some apology for their own iniquities from the inconsistencies of God's people. This is the reason why there is much slander in the world. A true Christian is a rebuke to the sinner, wherever he goes he is a living protest against the evil of sin. Hence it is that the worldling makes a dead set upon a pious man. His language in his heart is, "He accuses me to my face; I cannot bear the sight of his holy character; it makes the blackness of my own life appear the more terrible, when I see the whiteness of his innocence contrasting with it." And then the worldling opens all his eyes, and labors to find a fault with the virtuous. If, however, he fails to do so, he will next try to invent a fault; he will slander the man; and if even there he fails, and the man is like Job, "perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil;" then the sinner will, like the devil of old, begin to impute some wrong motive to the Christian's innocency. "Doth Job serve God for nought?" said the devil. He could find no fault with Job whatever, his character was untainted and unblemished; but, says he, "he keeps to his religion for what he gets by it." I reckon it to be a glorious accusation when we are falsely charged with being religious for the sake of gain. It shows that our enemies have no other charge that they can bring against us. They have ransacked all the flies of their calumny, and they can find nothing tangible, and this is the last they can bring an imputation upon the motive of the man who has no other motive in all the world than to glorify his God and win sinners from destruction. In this, then, let us glory. If sinners slander us, it is because we make them uneasy. They see that our lives are a protest against them: and what can they do? They must somehow or other answer the Bill which we have filed against them in Heaven's Chancery, and they do it by issuing a Rejoinder against us, and bringing us in as defendants in the case. We glory in this, that we are defendants who can prove our innocence, and we are not ashamed to stand before the her of God to have our motives tried. There is much I say to cheer us in the fact of such a libel. We know the work is done. We are sure our shots have told on their armor, when they are driven to return on us their calumnies and the venom of their wrath. Now we know that they feel the might of our arm, now we know we are not like them, mere drivellings and dwarfs. They have felt our might, and against it they kick, they foam, they forth their wrath. In this, I say, we glory. We have smitten them hard, or else they would not rise against us in this fashion. Alas! alas! however, sinners have not always to use calumny and lies. It is too true that the church has given a real bona fide cause to the wicked for excusing themselves in their sin: the inconsistencies of professors, the want of heart in piety, the absence of devout earnestness, have given sad grounds to the ungodly to justify themselves in their sin. It is upon this melancholy subject that I am about to enter this morning; and may God grant unto all his people who shall feel convicted in their consciences, the spirit of mourning and contrition, that they may vex themselves before God, and confess this great iniquity that they have done, namely, that they have comforted sinners in their sin by their own inconsistency, and have justified the wicked in their rebellion by their own rebellings and revoltings. This morning I shall deal thus with the subject. First, I shall point out the fact the different acts of Christians which have helped to comfort sinners in their sin; and then, secondly, I shall observe the consequences of this evil how much the world at large has been injured by the deeds of professed followers of Christ; and then I shall come with a solemn warning, bringing out the great battering ram, to dash against these refuges of lies and moreover crying with a loud voice to those who are the faithful servants of Christ, to withdraw their hands, and no longer to assist in keeping up the Jericho in which the wicked have entrenched themselves. I. First, then, it shall be my sad and melancholy business this morning to show certain facts which it were dishonest to deny, namely, that THE ACTS OF MANY OF CHRIST'S FOLLOWERS HAVE BEEN THE CAUSE OF JUSTIFYING AND COMFORTINGS SINNERS IN THEIR EVIL WAYS. 1. And first I would observe, that the daily inconsistencies of the people of God have much to do in this matter. By inconsistencies I do not exactly mean those grosser crimes into which, at sad and mournful periods, many professors fall; but I mean those frequent inconsistencies which become so common indeed that they are scarcely condemned by society. The covetousness of too many Christians has had this offset. "Look," says the worldling, "this man professes that his inheritance is above, and that his affection is set not on things on earth, but on the things of heaven but look at him, he is just as earnest as I am about the things of this world; he can drive the screw home as tightly with his debtor as I can; he can scrape and cut with those that deal with him quite as keenly as ever I have done." Nay, beloved, this is not a mere tale; alas! I have seen persons held up to commendation as successful merchants, whose lives will not bear the test of Scripture, whose business transactions were as hard as griping, as grasping, as the transactions of the most worldly. How often has it happened that some of you have bent your knee in the sanctuary, and have said, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," and one hour afterwards your finger has been almost meeting your thumb through the jugular vein of some debtor whom you had seized by the throat! The church of Christ appears to be as worldly as the world itself, and professors of religion have become as sharp in trade and as ungenerous in their dealing as those that have never been baptised into the Lord Jesus, and have never professed to serve him. And now what does the world say? It throws this in our teeth. If it be accused of loving the things of time and sense, it answers, "And so do you." If we tell the world that it has set its hopes upon a shadow, it replica, "But we have set our hope upon the self-same thing in which you are trusting; you are as worldly, as grasping, as covetous as we are; your protest has lost its force; you are no longer witnesses against us we are accusers of you." Another point in which the sinner often excuses himself is the manifest worldliness of many Christians. You will see Christian men and women as fond of dress, and as pleased with the frivolities of the age, as any other persons possibly could be, just as anxious to adorn their outward persons, so as to be seen of men; just as ambitious to win the praise which fools accord to fine dressing, as the most silly fop or the most gaudy among worldly women. What saith the world, when we turn round to it, and accuse it of being a mere butterfly, and finding all its pleasures in gaudy toys? "Oh! yes," it says, "we know your cant, but it is just the same with you." Do you not stand up and sing,
"Jewels to me are gaudy toys, And gold but sordid dust?"
And yet you are just as fond of glittering as we are; your doctors of divinity pride themselves just as much in their D.D. as any of us in other titles. You are Just as punctillious about terms of honor as any of us can be. You talk about carrying the cross; but we do not see it anywhere, except it be a golden cross sometimes hanging on your bosom. You say you are crucified to the world, and the world to you: it is a very merry sort of crucifixion. You say that you mortify your members and deny yourselves: your mortification must be suffered in secret, for it is but very little that we can see of it! Thus the worldling casts back to our challenge, declaring that we are not sincere, and thus he comforts himself a his sin, and justifies himself in his iniquity, Look, too, at the manifest pride of many professors of religion. You see members of Christian churches as proud as they possibly can be. Their backs are as stiff as if an iron rod were in the center, they come up to the house of God, and it is a Christian doctrine that God has made of one flesh all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth, but the Christian is as aristocratic as anybody else, just as proud and just as stiff. Is the Christian clothed in broad cloth? How often does be feel it a condescension to own a smock frock! and how often do you see a sister of Christ in satin, who thinks it something wonderful if she owns a fellow-member in an unwashable print. It is of no use denying it. I do not think that the evil is so common amongst us as it is in some churches; but this I know, that there are respectable churches and chapels in which a poor man scarcely dares to show his face. The pride of the church surely has become almost as great as the pride of Sodom of old. Her fullness of bread and her stiffness of neck hath brought her to exalt herself; and whereas it is the real glory of the church that "the poor have the gospel preached unto them," and that the poor have received the Word with gladness, it becomes now the honor of the church to talk of her respectability of the dignity and station of her members, and of the greatness of her wealth. What, then, do worldlings say? "You accuse us of pride, you are as proud as we are. You the humble followers of Jesus, who washed his saints' feet? Not you; no, you would have no objection, we doubt not to be washed by others, but we do not think it likely that you would ever wash ours. You the disciples of the fishermen of Galilee? Not you; you are too fine and great for that. Accuse us not of pride: why, you are as stiff-necked a generation, as we ourselves are." Now, these are only mentioned amongst us as inconsistencies not as sins. Sins they verily are; and they are such sins that they restrain the Spirit of God from blessing the church. Sins, too, they are that render the wicked callous in their sins, blunt the edge of our rebukes, and prevents the Word of God from working in the hearts of men. I might mention another sad fact with regard to the church, which often stings us sorely, the various enmities, and strifes, and divisions, that arise. You tell the worldly man that Christians love each other. "Ah!" says he, "you should go over to Ebenezer or to Rehoboth, and see how they love each other. Don't talk of leading a cat and dog life! Look at many of your churches; see how the minister is treated, and how the deacons are in arms, and how the members hate one another. They can scarcely hold a church meeting without abusing each other!" How often is this proved to be true in many churchesl And then the worldling says, "You tell us that we bite and devour each other, and that our wars and fightings come from our lusts. Where do your wars and fightings is come from? You tell us that our anger and wrath are the effect of sin that dwelleth in us: what causes your divisions and your strifes?" In this way, you see, the testimony of the children of God is rendered invalid, and we help to comfort sinners in their sins. 2. Now it is my mournful duty to go a step further. It is not merely these inconsistencies, but the glaring crimes of some professed disciples, thee have greatly assisted sinners in sheltering themselves from the attacks of the Word of God. Every now and then the cedar falls in the midst of the forest. Some one who stood prominent in the church of God, as a professed follower of Jesus, turns aside. "They go out from us because they were not of us; for if they had been of us, doubtless, they would have continued with us, but they went out from us, that it might be manifest that they were not of us." We have wept over high professors becoming drunkards; we have seen mighty men at religious public meetings becoming scoundrel bankrupts. We have had it dashed in our faces, dozens of times, that religion how often become a cloak for fraud, and that when the world has trusted a religious man with its wealth, that religious man has carried it off with him, and has not been found at the proper time. Oh! this is the great curse of the church. I was thinking only yesterday, with much sorrow in my heart, of the present age, and I could not but come to the conclusion, that all the burnings of Pagan tyrants, that all the tortures of Popish executioners, that all the bloody deaths to which God's people were ever put, in any one age of the world, have never done so much hurt to the cause of Christ as the inconsistencies of professors of the present time. It was about three years ago I think, that failures among religious men seemed to be the order of the day, and our papers literally teemed with accusations against the church of God. O my brethren, let us not talk of these things, except with mourning and tears. Wrap thyself in sackcloth, O church of God; put away thy laughter, and cast ashes on thine head, for the crown of thy glory is departed, thy garments are stained, and the filthiness of thy skirts witnesses against thee. O church of Christ, thy Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, but now their visage is blacker than a coal, and their hands are defiled with iniquity. Remember thou the time of thy purity, when thy priests were glorious, and thy sons and daughters were clothed in royal apparel. How art thou fallen! how art thou cast down from the high mountains! Thy princes are clothed in rags; the veils are plucked from the face of thy daughters, and thou thyself art become disconsolate and a widow, by reason of the iniquity of thy sons and of thy daughters. Woe unto us, for thy glory is departed, thy sun is covered with thick darkness, and thy stars withhold their light. The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us that we have sinned. My hearers, my soul has carried me away; breathless and panting I return to my humbler but not less earnest style. Remember how vast your powers for mischief! Your ministers may preach as long as they will; but you undo their preaching if you are unholy. If you are inconsistent in your lives, Paul, Apollos, and Cephas might preach with power; but they have not half the power to build up that you have to pull down. You are the mightiest workmen ye professors of religion; you can undo infinitely more than we can accomplish. And now I pause, and relieve the shadow of this subject with something which, I fear, is in the sight of God equally vile. How often do the people of God comfort sinners in their sins by their murmurings and their complaints? Oh beloved, we are too much in the habit of covering our faces with sadness, on account of our temporal trials, and too little in the habit of weeping on account of the failings of the church of God! Hour frequently do you meet with a true Christian full of unbelieving cares! Ah! he says, "All these things are against me." He has food and raiment, but he is not content with it; he has more than that, but his store is a little diminished, and he is very cast down, and he has no faith, and cannot trust the Lord. "Oh!" says the worldling, "see these Christians; they talk about faith, but their faith is not of half so much service to them, as my desperation is to me that hardens my heart, and makes me stand up against affliction a great deal better than their faith in God's providence can do. Why, just look at these saints: a drivelling set of crying creatures, they never have either peace or joy; they are everlastingly pulling long faces, and talking through their noses, about their sad trials and troubles; they never have an hour of happiness. Who would be a Christian? I don't want to be converted," says the worldling. "Why should I pluck out the sunbeam from my eye, and take the smile from my brow? Why should I profess to follow a God whose servants only worship him by weeping,and never offer any sacrifice but that of groans, and sighs, and murmurs?" Might not a wicked man come in often, when Christians are grumbling together about the badness of the times, about the high price of commodities, and the low rate of wages, and so forth; and might he not say, "Yes, I can see your God treats you very badly; if I were you I'd strike, and have nothing to do with him?" And he would go away laughing, and saying, "Ah! Baal treats me better; I get more pleasure in this world than these Christian people do. Let them have their brave heaven to themselves, if they like; I'm not going snivelling through this world with them; let me have joy and rejoicing while I may." Don't you think that in this way you and I have done a world of damage to the cause of Christ, and may have helped to comfort sinners in their iniquities? One other point, and I will have done with this. Perhaps the greatest evil has been done by the coldheartedness, and indifference of religious professors. I charge thee not, O church of God, with inconsistency; I lay no crime at thy door now; it is with another fault I charge thee one as grievous these. I pray thee, plead guilty to it, for thou wilt but speak the truth, and then I pray God that this thy guilt may be cleansed, and that thou mayest offend him no longer with this thine evil. The church of God at the present age, is cold and lukewarm, and lifeless, compared with what it used to be. When I was preaching in Wales this week, I could not but observe the power which attended the ministry, when there was a living congregation and an earnest company gathered together to hear the Word of God. We have become accustomed to sit in a kind of solemn silence to hear the gospel. Not so in Wales. There is to be heard the voice of acclamation; every person expresses the feelings of his soul in audible prayers and cries to God; and at last, when the Spirit has descended, you hear the loud cries of "Gogoniant," "Glory to God." As each precious sentence drops from the lips of the preacher, it seems to be taken up and fed upon by the people, while they shout aloud for joy. I believe it is a great improvement on our English congregations, and some of our English preachers could not go on in their dull style, if sometimes the people had a chance of either hissing them or cheering them on. That, however, is but an index of the cold state of the churches. We are a phlegmatic, cold nation; even Scotch divines are more alive than we are, they speak the Word of God with more earnestness than many of our ministers do in England. Cold as we think the north is, yet hath even it become warmer than we are. And now what says the world to all our coldness? Why, it says "Ah, this is the kind of religion we like," says the worldling; "we don't like those raving Methodists; we can't stand them; we don't like those earnest indefatigable Christians of the cars of Whitfield; oh! no, they were a raving set of folks; we don't like them; but we like these quiet folks." "Yes," says the worldling, "I think it is quite right that every man should go to his church and his chapel on a Sunday; but I never could go and hear such raving as Mr. So-and-so gives." Of course you could not; you are an enemy to God, and that is why you like a Laodicean church. That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors. The world says, "We like everything to go on smoothly; we like a man to go to his own parish church, and hear a good, solid, substantial sermon read; we like to go up to the meeting house, and hear a sober, eloquent divine; we don't like any of this furious preaching, any of these earnest exhortations." No, of course you like that of which God has said, "Thou art neither cold nor hot;" God hates such, and that is why sinners love it. But what effect does all this have upon the worldling? Why, just this. He says, "I like you, because you don't rebuke me; I like that kind of religion, because it is no accusation against me. When I see a Christian hot and in earnest about being saved," he says, "it rebukes my own indifference; but when I see a professed Christian just as indifferent about the salvation of men as I am, why, then I say, it is all a farce, nonsense! they don't mean it, the minister does not care a bit about whether souls are saved or not, and as for the church, they make a great, deaf of noise every now and then at Exeter Hall, about saving some poor blacks far away, but they don't care about saving us." And so a worldling wraps himself up, and goes on his way in his sin and his iniquity, and perseveres, even to the last declaring all the while that religion is but a sham, because he sees us careless in solemn matters, and cold concerning everlasting realities. Thus I have, mournfully in my own soul, set forth the plan whereby Satan comforts sinners in their sins, even by means of those who ought most sternly to rebuke them. II. And now for the second point THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS EVIL. And here I wish to speak very pointedly and personally to all of you who are professors of religion, and I do hope that you will take every point to yourself, in which you must feel that you have been and are guilty. Friends, how often have you and I, in the first place, helped to keep sinners easy in their sin, by our inconsistency! Had we been true Christians, the wicked man would often have been pricked to the heart, and his conscience would have convicted him; but having been unfaithful and untrue, he has been able to sleep on quietly, without any disturbance from us. Do you not think, my dear brothers and sisters, that you have each been guilty here? that you have often helped to pacify the wicked in their rebellion against God? I must confess myself that I am guilty. I have labored to escape from the sin, but I am not clean delivered from it. I pray each one of you, make a full confession before God, if by your silence, when sin has been committed before your eyes, or by a smile, when a lascivious joke has been told in your hearing, or if by a constant indifference to the cause of Christ you have led sinners to sleep more securely in the bed of their iniquities. But to go further still. Do you not think that very often, when a sinner's conscience has been roused, you and I have helped to give it a soporific draught by our coldness of heart, "Hush! Master Conscience," says the sinner, but he will not be still, but cries aloud, "Repent, repent." And then you, a professing Christian pass try, and you administer the laudanum draught of your indifference and the sinner's conscience falls back again into its slumber, and the reproof that might have been useful is entirely lost upon him. I am sure that this is one of the great crying sins of the church, that we are not now the witnesses of God, as we should be, but often quiet the witness of conscience in the souls of men. Look now to your lives I am speaking personally to each one look at yesterday, and the days that went before, and I ask you, and I solemnly charge you to answer that question, Have you not often assisted, in the first place, to keep men's consciences quiet, and afterwards to send them to sleep when they have been aroused? Further; is it not possible that often sinners have been strengthened in their sin by you? They were but beginning in iniquity, and had you rebuked with honesty and sincerity, by your own holy life, they might have been led to see their folly and might have ceased from sin; but you have strengthened their hands. They have gone forward confidently, because they have said, "See, a church member leads the way." "So-and-so is not more scrupulous than I," says such an one; "I may do what he does" And so you have helped to strengthen sinners in their sins. Nay, is it not possible that some of you Christians have helped to confirm men in their sins and to destroy their souls? It is a master-piece of thy devil, when he can use Christ's own soldiers against Christ. But this he has often done. I have known many a case. Let me tell a story of a minister one which I believe to be true and which convicts myself, and therefore I tell it with the hope that it may also waken your consciences and convict you too. There was a young minister once preaching very earnestly in a certain chapel, and he had to walk some four or five miles to his home along a country road after service. A young man, who had been deeply impressed under the sermon, requested the privilege of walking with the minister, with an earnest hope that he might get an opportunity of telling out his feelings to him, and obtaining some word of guidance or comfort. Instead of that, the young minister all the way along told the most singular tales to those who were with him, causing loud roars of laughter, and even relating tales which bordered upon the indecorous. He stopped at a certain house, and this young man with him, and the whole evening was spent in frivolity and foolish talking. Some years after, when the minister had grown old, he was sent for to the bedside of a dying man. He hastened thither with a heart desirous to do good. He was requested to sit down at the bedside and the dying man, looking at him, and regarding him most closely, said to him, "Do you remember preaching in such-and-such a village on such an occasion?" "I do," said the minister. "I was one of your hearers," said the man, "and I was deeply impressed by the sermon." "Thank God for that," said the minister. "Stop!" said the man, "don't thank God till you have heard the whole story; you will have reason to alter your tone before I have done." The minister changed countenance, but he little guessed what would be the full extent of that man's testimony. Said he, "Sir, do you remember, after you had finished that earnest sermon, I with some others walked home with you? I was sincerely desirous of being led in the right path that night; but I heard you speak in such a strain of levity, and with so much coarseness too, that I went outside the house, while you were sitting down to your evening meal; l stamped my foot upon the ground; I said that you were a liar, that Christianity was a falsehood, that it you could pretend to be so in earnest about it in the pulpit, and then come down and talk like that, the whole thing must be a sham; and I have been an infidel," said he, "a confirmed infidel, from that day to this. But I am not an infidel at this moment. I know better; I am dying, and I am about to be damned; and at the bar of God I will lay my damnation to your charge; my blood is one your head;" and with a dreadful shriek, and one demoniacal glance at the trembling minister, he shut his eyes and died. Is it not possible that we may have been guilty thus? The bare idea would make the flesh creep on our bones; and yet I think there are few among us who must not say, "That has been my fault, after all." But are there not enough traps, in which to catch souls, without your being made Satan's fowlers to do misehief? Hath not Satan legions enough of devils to murder men, without employing you? Are there no hands that may be red with the blood of souls beside yours? O followers of Christ! O believers in Jesus! Will ye serve under the black prince? Will ye fight against your Master? Will ye drag sinners down to hell? Shall we (I take myself in here, more truly than any of you) shall we, who profess to preach the gospel of Christ, by our conversation injure and destroy men's souls? III. Thus I think I have expounded the solemn consequences of this fearful evil. And now I come, in conclusion, and I pray God to help me, while I deal earnestly, and solemnly with you, AND BRING OUT THIS GREAT BATTERING RAM, TO BEAR AGAINST THIS VAIN EXCCUSE OF THE WICKED. Among this great congregation, I have doubtless a very large number of persons who are not converted to God, and who have continually made this their excuse, "I see so much of the inconsistency of professors that I do not intend to think about religion myself." My hearer, I conjure thee by the living God, give me thine ear a moment, while I pull this vain excuse of thine to pieces. What hast thou to do with the inconsistencies of another? "To his own master he shall stand or fall." What will it better thee, if one half of all the professors of religions be sent to hell? What comfort will that be to thee, when thou shalt come there thyself? Man, will God require the sins of other people at thine hands? Where is it said that God will punish thee for what another does? Or dost thou imagine that God will reward thee because another is guilty? Thou art surely not foolish enough for that. I ask thee, what canst thou have to do with another's servant? That man is a servant of God, or at least professes to be; if he be not so, what busines can it possibly be of thine? If thou shouldst see twenty men drinking poison, would that be a reason why thou shouldst drink it? If, passing over London Bridge, thou shouldst see a dozen miserable creatures leaping off the parapet, there would be a good argument why thou thyself shouldst seek to stop them, but no argument why thou shouldst leap too. What if there be hundreds of suicides? will that excuse thee, if thou shalt shed thine own blood? Do men plead thus in courts of law? Does a man say, "O Judge, excuse me for having been a thief, there are so many hundreds of men that profess to be honest that are as big thieves as I?" Thou wilt be punished for thine own offenses, remember not for the offenses of another. Man! I conjure thee, look this in the face. How can this help to assuage thy misery? How can this help to make thee happier in hell, because thou sayest there are so many hypocrites in this world? But, besides, thou knowest well enough that the church is not so bad as thou sayest it is. Thou seest some that are inconsistent; but are there not many that are holy? Dost thou dare to say there are none? I tell thee, man, thou art a fool. There are many bad coins in the world, many counterfeits; do you, therefore, say there are no good ones? If you say so, you are mad; for the very fact that there are counterfeits is a proof that there must be realities. Would any man think it worth his while to make bad sovereigns if there were no good ones? It is just the quantity of good ones that passes off the few false coins. And so no man would pretend to be a Christian unless there were some good Christians. There would be no hypocrites if there were not some true men. It is the quantity of true, men that helps to pass off the hypocrite in the crowd. And then again, I say, when thou comest before the bar of God, dost thou think that this will serve thee as an excuse, to begin to find fault with God's own children? Suppose you were brought before a king, an absolute monarch, and you should begin to say, by way of appeal, "O king, I have been guilty, it is true, but your own sons and daughters I do not like; there are a great many faults in the princes of the blood." Would he not say, "Wretch! thou art adding insult to wickedness; thou art guilty thyself, and now thou dost malign mine own children, the princes of the blood?" The Lord will not have thee say that at last. He has pardoned his children; he is ready to pardon thee. He sends mercy to thee this day, but if thou reject it, imagine not that thou shalt escape by recounting the sins of the pardoned ones. The rather this shall be an addition to thy sin, and thou shalt perish the more fearfully. But come, man, once again: I would entreat of thee with all my might. What! canst thou be so foolish as to imagine, that because another man is destroying his own soul by hypocrisy, that this is a reason why thou shouldet destroy thine by indifference? If there be thousands of untrue Christians, so much the more reason why I should be a true one: if there are hundreds of hypocrites, this should make me more earnest to search myself, and should not make me indifferent about the matter. O sinner! thou wilt soon be on thy dying bed, and will it comfort thee there to think, "I have rejected Christ, I have despised salvation, I am perishing in my sins," and to add, "But there are many Christians who are hypocrites!" No, death will tear away that excuse. That will not serve you. And when the heavers are in a blaze, when the pillars of the earth shall reel, when God shall came on flying clouds to judge the children of men, when the eternal eyes are fixed upon you, and like burning lamps are enlightning the secret parts of your belly, will you then be able to make this an excuse "Good God! it is true,I have damned myself, it is true, I have wilfully transgressed; but there were many hypocrites?" Then shall the Judge say, "What hast thou to do with that? Thou hadst nought to do, to interfere with my kingdom and with my judgeship; for thine own offenses thou art lost; for thine own rejection of Christ thou shalt perish everlastingly." And now I conclude, by addressing the people of God with equal solemnity and earnestness. My dear hearers, if I could weep tears of blood this morning, I could not show too much emotion concerning this most solemn point. I do not know that this text ever struck me before yesterday, but I no sooner noticed it than it came home to me as an accusation. I plead guilty to it, and I pray for forgiveness. I only wish that a like power may attend it to you, that you may feel that you have been guilty too. O friends, can you bear the thought that you may have helped to drag others down to hell? Christ has loved you and pardoned your sins; and will you push others downward? And yet if you are inconsistent, and especially if you are cold and lukewarm in your religion, you are doing it. "Well," says one, "I don't do much good, but I do no hurt." That is an impossibility. You must be either doing good or evil. There is no borderland between truth and sin; a men must be either on land or in the water; and you are either serving God or serving Satan; each day you are increasing your Master's kingdom, or else diminishing it. I cannot bear the thought that any of you should be employed in Satan's camp. Suppose there ever should be an invasion of this country by France. The tocsin rings from every church steeple, the drum is sounding in every street, and men are gathering at every market-cross. Peaceful men spring up to soldiers in an instant; and multitudes are marching away to the coast. When we come near it we behold a troop of soldiers who have climbed our white cliffs, and with bayonets fixed they are marching against us. We, with a tremendous cheer, rush on against them, to drive them back into the sea which girds our beloved country. Suddenly, as we rush forward, we detect scores of Englishmen marching in the same ranks with our foes, and seeking to ravage their own country. What should we say? Seize these traitors; let not one of them escape; put them all to death. Can Englishmen take the side of England's enemies? Can they march against our hearths and homes, betray their fatherland, and take the side of the tyrant Emperor? Can this be? Then let them die the death!" And yet this day I behold a more mournful spectacle yet. There is King Jesus marching at the head of his troops; and can it be that some of you, who profess to be his followers, are on the other side; that professing to be Christ's you are lighting in the ranks of the enemy carrying the baggage of Satan and wearing the uniform of hell, when you profess to be soldiers of Christ? I know there are such here: God forgive them! God spare them; and may the deserters yet come back, even though they come back in the chains of conviction! May they come back and be saved! O brethren and sisters, there are enough to destroy souls without us enough to extend the kingdom of Satan without our helping him. "Come out from among them; touch not the unclean thing; be ye separate." Church of God! awake, awake, awake to the salvation of men! Sleep no longer, begin to pray, to wrestle, to travail in birth; be more holy, more consistent, more strict, more solemn in thy deportment! Begin, O soldiers of Christ, to be more true to your colors, and as surely as the time shall come when the church shall thus be reformed and revived, to surely shall the King come into our midst, and we shall march on to certain victory, trampling down our enemies, and getting to our King many crowns, through many victories achieved.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany