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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Psalms 106

Verse 7

Sin: Its Spring-head, Stream, and Sea

May 10th, 1891 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea." Psalms 106:7 .

Our fathers! From them we derive our nature. We inherit our fathers' propensities; for that which is born of the flesh is flesh. As is the nature, such is the conduct. Hence the Psalmist writes in verse 6: "We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly." If we must mention our fathers' faults, it is not to screen ourselves; for we have to confess that our life's story is no brighter than theirs. It is not because the fathers have eaten sour grapes that the children's teeth are set on edge; for we ourselves have greedily devoured those evil clusters: "We have sinned with our fathers." "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." When we read of the sins of others, we ought to be humbled and warned; for "all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." We have no space wherein to set up a monument to our own glory. As we cannot boast in our pedigree, for we are the children of sinners; so we cannot exalt ourselves because of our personal excellence, for there is none that doeth good, no not one. We come before God and confess our iniquities as a race and as individuals; and we cry unto him, in the words of the forty-seventh verse, "Save us, O Lord our God." It may help us to escape out of the meshes of our natural depravity, if we look back and see the causes of our fathers' sins. To confess our personal sin will tend to keep us humble; and in view of the Lord's mercy, which has spared and pardoned us, a sense of our guilt will make us grateful. The less we think of ourselves the more we shall think of him whose "mercy endureth for ever"; and if we see where our fathers' sins began, and how they grew, and what they came to, we may hope that the Spirit of God will help us to turn from the beginnings of evil, and forsake the fountain-heads of our iniquities. This will tend to repentance and holiness. May we be so wrought upon by the Spirit of God that we shall not be as our earthly fathers, but become like our heavenly Father, who says to us, "Be ye followers of God, as dear children." We are not to take our fathers after the flesh for our example wherein they have gone astray; but our Father who is in heaven we are to imitate by the power of his grace. Great things, whether good or evil, begin with littles. The river that rolls its mighty volume to the sea was once a tiny brook; nay, it started as a spring-head, where the child stooped down to drink, and, with a single draught, seemed as if he would exhaust the supply. The rivulet ripples itself into a river. Sin is a stream of this sort. It starts with a thought; it increases to a resolve, a word, an act; it gathers force, and becomes habit, and daring rebellion. Follow me, therefore, first, when I notice, that want of understanding lies at the fountain-head of sin: "Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt." Out of this lack of understanding comes the greater offense of ungrateful forgetfulness. Failure of memory follows upon a want of understanding: "They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies." This readily leads on to the sad consummation of rebellion. Provocation follows upon forgetfulness. Inward faults display themselves in outward offenses: "They provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea." I. Let us begin at the beginning. WANT OF UNDERSTANDING OF GOD'S WONDERS IS THE SOURCE OF SIN. The wonders that God wrought in Egypt were exceedingly great and instructive. The ten plagues were memorable master-strokes of God's judgment upon the proud, and notable displays of his favor to the oppressed. How Egypt staggered beneath the blows of Jehovah! Those tremendous judgments came one after another with righteous deliberation, and yet with terrible rapidity. Pharaoh and his proud nobles were wounded and humbled: the leviathan of Egypt was broken in pieces as one that is slain. Surely they for whom all these plagues were wrought ought to have considered them, and ought to have spied out the plain lessons which they taught; but they failed to do so, for they were dull of understanding. Albeit, God had come out of his secret places, and had made bare his arm for them, yet "our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt." We see this to be the case when we read the story; for at the first, when God began to work for them, they were so taken up with the present that they complained of Moses, for the cruel retort of Pharaoh. He had gone in unto the proud monarch, and had urged the demand of Jehovah; and the tyrant had replied, "Ye hinder the people from their works; get you unto your burdens." He increased their toil, by refusing to give the people straw to make bricks; and so their bondage was made bitter to the last degree, and they groaned as they saw "that they were in evil case." They are not blamed for groaning; but it was very blameworthy that they should say to Moses and Aaron: "The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hands to slay us." It was mean to blame their friends for the cruel fault of their enemy. How wretchedly have we also complained when God, in his gracious dealings with us, has caused us an inward grief! He began to show us our sin a very necessary thing; but we kicked against it and said, "Is this the grace of God? Oh, that we were rid of these convictions!" Thus the Lord took away our self-confidence; but we were full of unbelief, and we thought some great evil had happened to us; whereas it was the way of God's wisdom and love to make sin as much a bondage to us as Egypt was to Israel. How else should we feel our need of redemption, and be willing to come forth free by the blood of the Lamb? If the Lord doth but lay his little finger upon us we complain; and instead of seeing love in our affliction, we cry out as if the Lord dealt hardly with us. His mercy designs to teach us some great lesson for our eternal benefit; and we murmur and ask, "Is this the love of God to his chosen?" Our fathers understood not his wonders in Egypt, and oftentimes this is our case; we judge by the feelings of the present, and forget the eternal future. We cannot understand our burdens and our soul-humblings; we stand bewildered and amazed. Though the point is plain enough to faith, unbelief does not hear the rod, nor him that has appointed it; but we are taken up with our present smart. Our selfish desire for immediate comfort prevents our understanding the great plans of divine grace. Further on we find Israel broken down by utter hopelessness. Moses spoke to them again, but we read, "They hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage." They had been so brutally crushed by the Egyptians, that they had lost all heart. Slavery had killed all the manhood of their race: they were abject, timorous, and crouching bondsmen. The last ounce that breaks the camel's back was laid on them by Pharaoh, and they could no more listen to words of hope. Moses said he had come to deliver them; he told them they should be brought out with a high hand and an outstretched arm; but they could not think it possible; they shook their heads, and turned a deaf ear to what they regarded as vain words. Hope had fled. They understood not that God could, by any possible means, deliver them from the gigantic power which held them down. Alas! this also has been the case with us; and perhaps is the case with some here at this moment. You are so sad and so depressed that you cannot believe in salvation. Your presumptuous hopes lie dead in heaps round about you, and you cannot believe that you will ever be saved. "Oh!" say you, "there may be mercy for anybody else, but there is no mercy for me. God can forgive the chief of sinners, but he will never forgive me." Though we tell you of free grace and dying love, and of pardon for sins of deepest dye, a pardon bought with Jesus' blood, you turn a deaf ear to us because your spirit is wounded and faint. You understand not God's wonders for and in you. You cannot think that indeed and of a truth the Lord Jesus loved you, and gave himself for you. You dare not hope that he has ordained you unto eternal life, that he will put his Spirit within you, and that he will give you power to become children of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Your very sorrow for sin has made you incapable of understanding God's wonders of grace. This is a painful state of mind. You see, dear friends, these people, though they saw God's plagues on the Egyptians, which were mercies to Israel, yet they did not enter into their teaching. One would have thought that every Israelite would have said, when the thick darkness was over all the land, even "darkness that might be felt", surely Jehovah is a great and mighty God. When there was a storm of thunder and hail over all Egypt, the like of which had never been known before, would it not have been natural for them to cry, "Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah? We, thy people, bow before thy majesty!" The right-minded Israelite would have prostrated himself before the supreme power of God and would never henceforth have doubted the Lord's ability to redeem his chosen nation. Should not Israel have learned also the royal sovereignty of the Lord God? What armies obeyed the call of that great King! At his word the river brought forth frogs abundantly. He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their borders. "He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number, and did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground." Jehovah's camp is very great. The waters were turned into blood, and the dust into creeping things; the heavens were set on fire, and the habitations of men were darkened. He who did all these marvellous things is King over all the earth. "He smote all the first-born in Egypt, the chief of their strength." Even the first-born of Pharaoh, that sitteth on the throne, was made to die. Surely Jehovah is King of kings. Would you not have thought that his people would have felt the force of his divine dominion, and would have bowed before his supreme will throughout the rest of their lives? Awed by his power and glory, we might have expected to find in Israel a loyal people. But no; they neither seemed to tremble before the power, nor to bow before the sovereignty, of Jehovah; but they murmured against him, and declared that he could not deliver them, and complained that they had been brought out of Egypt to die by the hand of Pharaoh at the Red Sea. Beyond all question, they ought to have recognized Jehovah's love to them. By so much as the plagues were terrible to Egypt they were gracious to his people. Though the Israelites were a race of down-trodden slaves the Lord loved them. He moved heaven and earth to liberate them: he not only made the very dust of Egypt alive for them, but he sent swift angels out of heaven to avenge the wrongs of his chosen. The orbs of heaven and the creatures of earth all were brought to bear upon God's great purpose of grace towards Israel. Truly said the Lord, "I gave Egypt for thy ransom: Ethiopia and Seba for thee." It was love, wondrous love to Israel, which made the Lord to show his signs in Egypt, his wonders in the land of Ham. Why did they not become lovingly obedient in return for such favors? Why were they hard of heart, and stiff of neck, and unwilling to be led of the Lord their God? Alas! they understood not what the Lord was doing for them. To you, beloved, it may be that the same fault can be laid. God has done great wonders for believers; but, it may be, we have not yet learned his power so as to trust his might; nor his sovereignty, so as to submit to his will; nor his love, so as to rejoice in his faithfulness. Alas! we have but little understanding; nay, worse, we have none at all except as the Lord, the Holy Spirit, teaches us to profit, and instructs us, as children are instructed. The tribes of Israel did not see in all this the claim which the Lord had upon them. As a people, they belonged to him who had made them a nation. Because of what he had done for them, the Lord took up a peculiar position to them, which he would have them acknowledge. Remember how, in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, before the Lord proclaims his ten commands, he says "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." By this, Jehovah separated them to be his people, and he declared himself to be their God. During the plagues, he marked his special love to his own; for when the Lord sent a thick darkness over all the land, we read, "But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." When the cattle of Egypt died, Pharaoh sent and found, upon inquiry that "there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead." When the firstborn of Egypt fell dead beneath the angel's sword, the sprinkled blood of the passover lamb secured to all Israel protection from the midnight slaughter; and men were made to know that God did put a difference between his chosen and the men of Egypt. Yet, the favored people did not understand it: the truth was conspicuous enough; but they did not perceive it as they ought to have done; neither did they practically show that they were the Lord's people, and that he only was their God. The like slowness to take up our true position, we may see and mourn in ourselves. After all the Lord's wonders of grace towards us, we do not exalt him as our God, nor serve him as his people, as we ought to do. Lord, have mercy upon us! The people did not see that their God by all his wonders was pledging himself to them. After having done so much for them, he would not leave them. Could he have brought them out of Egypt to kill them at the Red Sea? They even dared to say that this was their suspicion. Oh, the slanders of unbelief! But if they had understood his wonders, they would have seen that he who had done such great things for them had bound himself to perfect his purpose, and to bring them into the land which he had promised to their fathers. "Ah!" you say, "they were very stupid." I do not defend them; but what about yourselves? Have we not been mistrustful? Have we not said in our hearts, "He will yet fail us, and our faith will be disappointed"? Alas, great God, we blush and are ashamed! But, listen

"Determined to save, he watched o'er my path When, Satan's blind slave, I sported with death; And can he have taught me to trust in his name, And thus far have brought me to put me to shame."

Will the Lord lose all that he has wrought in us, and for us? Is he like to the foolish one, who began to build and was not able to finish? Does the Eternal revoke his resolves? Does the Almighty turn from his purposes? Is it not said, "The strength of Israel will not lie; for he is not a man, that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent"? O believer, learn this lesson well; and trust in your unchanging God: thus shall you understand his wonders in Egypt. The fact is, dear friends, these people had no deeply spiritual work upon their hearts. "They understood not his wonders in Egypt", because their hearts were hardened by their association with a proud, worldly, idolatrous and yet cultured nation, and they had turned aside from the spiritual faith of their fathers. Wonders were wrought, and they saw them, and were amazed; but they did not see beneath the surface, nor perceive the Lord's meaning in them. Beloved, I pray to God for you who are newly called out from the world, that the first working of grace in your souls may be deep, true, clear, and lasting. I would have you not only know, but understand. Depend upon it a man's after-character is very much shaped by the mode of his conversion. Why do some turn back altogether? It is because their change of heart was not that thorough radical conversion which involves the creation of a new nature. They felt certain superficial impressions which they mistook for the new birth, and they made a hasty profession which they could not afterwards maintain. They were not thoroughly saved from the dominion of sin, or they would have hold on to the end. Many professing Christians of whom we have a good hope that they will prove to be sincere, never had any deep conviction of sin, nor any overwhelming sense of their need of Jesus: hence they have seen little of our Lord in his glorious offices, and all-sufficient sacrifice, and have gained no thorough understanding of his truth. They are like slovenly farmers, who have ploughed their fields after a fashion, but they have not gone deep, and the land will never yield more than half a crop. We have all around us too much surface work. Numbers of conversions are true as far as they go, but they go a very little way. I am afraid for you if you have only a flimsy experience, a skin-deep conviction, a blind man's apprehension of heavenly light. No wonder if very soon you forgot, and afterwards rebel. Let us pray God that both in ourselves, and in those whom we bring to Christ, the work of grace may be deep and thorough; and may our faith in Jesus be sustained by a clear understanding of the gospel, and of our Lord's dealings with us! The truth itself, and our experience of it, may be likened to food: it is not the food we swallow which benefits us, but that which we digest. If food lies in our inward parts undigested, and unassimilated, it will brood disease rather than promote health; so truth which is not understood, and thus taken up into the soul, cannot "feed" us in the true spiritual sense of that word. You see, brethren, here was a flaw in the Israelites at the beginning: "They understood not thy wonders in Egypt." When an iron girder suddenly snaps, they tell us that there was a flaw in the original casting. It was quite imperceptible at the first, and therefore the girder passed all the tests of the engineer; and it was not until years of wear and tear that it gave way. Here was a manifest flaw in the casting as to the people of Israel: "They understood not thy wonders in Egypt." Had they well understood the truth at the very first, they would not and could not have forgotten it; and they would not have been so little influenced by it in their conduct towards God. So much upon the first point. We have had before us a subject which should produce great thoughtfulness, and devout anxiety. II. FAILURE OF MEMORY FOLLOWS UPON WANT OF UNDERSTANDING. Children forget what they learn unless they understand it. They may pass the School Board standards, and yet in a few years they may know very little. The capacity for forgetting in some children is amazing. Many even among grown-up people have splendid memories for forgetting. Alas! it is the case with certain of the Lord's people. That which we do not understand we readily forget. When a child understands his lesson thoroughly, it will be fixed in his memory; but if he has merely learned the words, and has not entered into their senses, do you wonder that his lesson slips away? So was it with Israel in Egypt and at the Red Sea. Those sentences follow each other in true logical order: "They understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies." Mercies should be remembered. It is a great wrong to God when we bury his mercies in the grave of unthankfulness. Especially is this the case with distinguishing mercies, wherein the Lord makes us to differ from others. Light, when the rest of the land is in darkness! Life, when others are smitten with the sword of death! Liberty from an iron bondage! O Christians, these are not things to be forgotten! Abundantly utter the memory of distinguishing mercies! Discriminating grace deserves unceasing memorials of praise. Mercies multiplied should never be forgotten. If they are new every morning, our memory of them should be always fresh. Read the story of the ten plagues, and see how the Lord heaped up his mercies upon Israel with both his hands. Even if they had forgotten one wonder they ought to have remembered others. "Forgot not all his benefits." Alas! some men, though their memories are refreshed with renewed loving-kindnesses, yet prove by their discontent and mistrust that they do not remember the Lord's goodness. A grievous thing is this, when God sends mercy, and mercy, and mercy, and mercy, and mercy, and mercy heaps of mercies, loads of mercies, hills of mercies, mountains of mercies, worlds of mercies, and yet men forget. His mercies are more than the stars, more than the drops of dew, more than the sands on the sea-shore, and yet we do not remember. This is a mournful and inexcusable fault! "They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies." That is to say, they did not remember these blessings permanently. They remembered the Lord's wonders a little, and then they sang; but when the song was over, their memories failed. They remembered God's mercies while they marched for the first few days as freemen, who had no daily task of brick-making to fulfill; but when they found that Pharaoh pursued them they forgot all the Lord's mighty acts. When they tasted the waters of Marah, and found them bitter, "they murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?" They forgot God's wonders whenever they were in straits, and limited The Holy One of Israel by their unbelief. "They soon forget his works; they waited not for his counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert." Our remembrance of the Lord's wonders of love should abide with us all our days. May the Lord give us a permanent recollection of his great goodness, both in providence and in grace! Hutton, Bishop of Durham, was one day riding over the bleak northern hills. He stopped, and, giving his horse to his servant, he went aside from the road to kneel down on a certain spot. He always did so when he reached that place; for in the day of his wealth and honor he had not forgotten that when he was a poor boy he had crossed those wild hills, without shoes and stockings, and had turned a cow out of her place that he might warm his foot with what little heat remained in the place where the creature had lain. He had become bishop of a rich see, and a man of renown; but he never passed that spot without kneeling down and praising God. May we have faithful memories for the goodness of our faithful God! The Israelites had memories out of which the mercies of God soon faded. The Lord save us from being like them, and cause us to bless his name for what he did for us fifty years ago! Some of us would not have been among his people to-day if it had not been for the Lord's favors in our early youth: therefore let us praise him for old mercies as well as for new ones. But Israel did not remember God's mercies powerfully. If they recollected these things, yet the remembrance did not enable them to bear up under present discouragements. The Egyptians pursued them; and when they heard the cracking of the whips, and the neighing of the horses, they cried out unto the Lord, and whined out "It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." Had they forgotten Jehovah, who had glorified himself over Egypt, and had crippled all her power? Their memory of Jehovah's wonders had not influence enough over them to keep up their courage! Oh, for such a powerful memory of God's mercies that we may never distrust him! They did not remember practically. Their lives were not affected thereby. True gratitude shows itself in acts and deeds. A gentleman had been the means of making a position for a tradesman; and by a misfortune he came to be himself in want of immediate help to tide over a season of great pressure. He called at the house of the person he had so successfully helped, and found the wife at home. He told her the case, and she answered at once, "My husband will be ready to lend you his name to the full amount required. He will hasten to you the moment you need him, and be glad to do so." A prudent neighbor afterwards said, "But you may have to pay away all you have in the world." "Yes", said the grateful wife, "we do not mind that: he was the making of us; and if we have to lose everything for his sake, we shall do it very cheerfully, for we shall only be back to where we were when he first helped us." That is a form of gratitude which is rare enough in this world, though I have seen it here and there. Beloved, if the Lord were to take all away that we have, we should only be back where we were at the beginning. We have nothing but what we have received from him. He takes nothing from us but what he first gave us: let us bless a taking as well as a giving God. Oh, for this practical gratitude towards the Lord, that we may in all things either do his will cheerfully, or suffer it patiently! If we remember the multitude of his mercies practically we shall be ready to surrender honor, ease, health, estate, yea, life itself for him who gave himself for us. Oh, to remember God's mercies practically in every-day life, in thought and word, and deed! In fact, the Lord's mercies ought to be remembered progressively. We should think more and more of his exceeding kindness. A Christian man's life should be like another Bible, another Book of Chronicles. When we come to read through our personal life-story, we shall say, neither the ninth chapter of Nehemiah, nor the hundred-and-sixth psalm can exceed my experience. The Lord has dealt well with his servant, according to his word. If some of us had opportunity to write our lives in full which we could hardly venture to do, because there are private passages between our souls and our God which no human eye may read how fully could we now testify to the faithful love of our covenant God! On our parts, sin and weakness and fickleness have been conspicuous in our career; but on the Lord's part, grace and truth, and faithfulness and love, shine forth as the sun. Beloved, we must not let go the memory of the Lord's matchless kindness; but we must remember it more and more. The older we are, the more must we trust in him, who has not suffered one of his promises to fail. III. I want a little time for the third head, which is this: GRIEVOUS PROVOCATION FOLLOWED THEIR FORGETFULNESS OF GOD. Want of understanding begat forgetfulness, and forgetfulness brought forth rebellion. Let me read the last part of the text: "They provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea." Why does the Psalmist dwell upon the place, and say, "at the sea, even at the Red sea"? Why was it worse to provoke the Lord there than elsewhere? It evidently was so, for the inspired Scripture mentions the spot twice to put an emphasis upon it. Why was this? The offense itself was grievous anywhere. They doubted God when they heard that Pharaoh pursued after them, and they said, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" This imputation of cruelty to their faithful God provoked his sacred heart. The Lord is very pitiful, and his name is love, and therefore he is not easily provoked; but he declares that he was provoked by this display of their mistrust. They provoked him: they called him forth, as it were, to battle; they vexed him, and stirred him up to contend with them. O brothers and sisters, after so much love as God has shown us, we must not fall to provoking him; let us far rather spend our lives in extolling him! To provoke him at any time is a wanton wickedness unjust, ungenerous, diabolical. It is no common sin which thus provokes the longsuffering Lord. Many a sin God has endured patiently, but in this case he is provoked to anger. This is an offense which touches the apple of his eye, and causes his jealousy to burn like coals of fire. O children of God, how can you provoke your Father to wrath? The Lord have mercy upon us! We must bow low at his feet with sorrowful repentance. Let us shun this fault in the future. But why did their transgression at the sea so greatly anger the Lord? Was it because it came at the outset of their existence as a nation? They had not gone many days' journey out of Egypt before they rebelled. They had not yet eaten up the bread they carried in their kneading troughs, and they had scarcely met their first difficulty; and yet they hastened to provoke their God. How could they rebel so soon? They had scarcely reached the Red Sea before they began provoking the Lord with their dishonorable suspicions. O young Christian, if you provoke the Lord as soon as you are converted, your conduct will be black indeed. Only a day or two ago you sang his praises, and shouted, "Hallelujah! The blood of the Lamb has saved me." Will you so speedily distrust the Lord, and provoke him "at the sea, even at the Red sea"? What! stumble in the first few steps? God grant it may not be so! If you feel that you have already thus provoked the Lord, confess the wrong, and ask pardon through the precious blood. To begin to doubt almost as soon as you begin to believe is a wretched business. What! have you come out of Egypt, and have you brought its bondage with you? You have been saved by the sprinkled blood, and you have fed upon the Paschal lamb, and can you so soon utter words dishonoring to your delivering Lord? To doubt in the presence of a mercy is to doubt indeed. To doubt the power of the blood of Christ when you have newly been saved, to doubt the power of the Holy Ghost to keep you to the end when you have just been renewed why, this is aggravated guilt! It is sadly common, but it is none the less grievous to the heart of God. He marks it down, and there stands the record "They provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea." This is a poor beginning of a march to Canaan. Now this Red Sea was the place of their consecration. Here they were "baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." Here it was that they said, "He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him." As they stood by that Red Sea which had swallowed up all their enemies, they sang the praises of God, and proposed to do great things in his honor. What wonderful obedience they meant to render! And yet they provoked him there and then. What! will you come up from the waters of your baptism, and go home and provoke God by unholy conversation and ungovernable temper? Can any of you go from the Communion Table into sin? I heard of one who went from the table of the Lord across the street into the public-house. This is too gross. Such conduct grieves holy men, and much more the Holy God. To go from prayer to robbery, from reading the Word to fellowship with ungodly men this must be terribly provoking to the thrice holy Jehovah. It is as though it were written again, "They provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea." It is a high crime and misdemeanor to sin in the presence of a great mercy. There is the sea; they have just marched through it, and they have reached Marah, where the waters are brackish. If they now distrust and complain, close on the heels of their great deliverance, it will be a crime indeed. O men, what are you at? There is the Red Sea which God divided: and yet you think he cannot give you water to drink! O fools and slow of heart, thus to doubt the Almighty! Doubt in the presence of a mercy! Doubt while so great a favor is before your eyes! This is evil indeed! I find the Hebrew has been read by some, "They provoked him in the sea, even in the Red sea" while they were passing through the deep they were rebelling. You will hardly believe it! What! when the waters stood upright as an heap, and wore a wall on other side of them, and they walked through the depths of the sea, and found good footing where sea-monsters once had whelped and stabled were they then provoking him? Yes, they carried their sinful hearts with them even into the heart of the sea. O beloved, do not bear hard upon these Israelites, bear hard upon yourselves, and hate the sin which dares intrude within the sacred encloses of your joy in the cross, and dares to tempt you even when the five wounds of Jesus are shining on your soul like stars of God. Hate the sins which follow you to the Table of the Lord. Hate the wandering mind which taints the sacred bread and wine, and defiles you when the instructive symbols are yet in your mouths. Abhor the sin which dogs your heel, and follows you even to your knees, and hinders you in drawing near to God in prayer. Oh, the accursed sin which even on Tabor's top makes us fall asleep or talk foolishly! Lord, have mercy upon us, and forgive the sins of our holy places, and let it not stand against us in thy book that "They provoked thee at the sea, even at the Red sea." It was called the Sea of Weeds, and truly many were the weeds which grew, not only in the water, but in the hearts of those who stood on its shore. I must give one or two touches to complete the picture. This provocation of God was all the worse because they had only just done singing. What a song it was! Handel with all the majesty of his half-inspired music, can hardly set forth that wondrous song of Israel at the sea. "I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." That was a noble anthem; but murmuring was a miserable sequel to it. "The Lord shall reign for ever and ever" was a glorious hallelujah; but ere its echoes had ceased to stir the heart of the lone hills, the same tongues were heard to complain against the Lord. "The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation", died away into mutterings of unbelief. Do you wonder that God was provoked? Have you ever acted so? Did you ever rise high in rapture, and praise the Lord upon the high-sounding cymbals, and then find yourself grovelling on the ground within an hour? Have you felt so jubilant that you could have snatched Gabriel's silver trumpet from his mouth that you might blow it with all your might, and have you before long been looking for a mousehole in which to hide your miserable head by reason of your unbelief. What fools we are! "Verily every man at his best estate is altogether vanity." When we know most, we are ignorant; when we swell to our greatest, we are big nothings. When God makes much of us, we think least of ourselves. How greatly do we prize and praise the precious blood of Jesus which cleanseth us from all sin! This evil happened near the time of their strong faith. You remember how they sang: "Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hath purchased. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established." They felt quite sure of conquering the land and chasing out the foe. They were so strong in faith, that they thought they should never again mistrust the Lord, whose right hand was so glorious in power. The exultant women who followed Miriam never suspected that they could doubt the Lord, whose right hand had dashed in pieces the enemy. One of them would probably have said, "As for our enemies, the depths have covered them, there is not one of them left. I shall never fear again. I have attained full assurance and perfection, and I shall never again mistrust the Lord." Yet these were the people who speedily murmured for want of bread, until the Lord heard them, and was grieved. I dare say the men of the Red Sea said each one, "My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved"; and yet in how brief an hour were they challenging the faithfulness of Jehovah, and questioning his power to give them bread in the wilderness! Lord, what is man? We distrust providence, we suspect grace, and we question the Lord himself; and all this after the Lord had made our assurance doubly sure. We are sad creatures, and yet the Lord does not cast us away; for it is written, "Nevertheless he saved them for his names sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known." Two things more, and I have done. Admire the patient faithfulness of our God. Jehovah, though provoked, still loves his people. Admire his love to ourselves; and especially that he should entertain such constancy of affection towards such wayward, fickle, unreliable souls as we are! Next, believe God so as to cease to grieve him. Do not start aside at the next little puddle you see in the road: it is not an ocean. Do not whine that you will be devoured the next time you see a cat in the garden: it is not a lion after all. Do not groan, "I cannot pass this dread abyss"; for it is only a little ditch, which you can leap by faith. God helping you rest not till you become "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Doubt God when he gives you cause to do so; but not till then. If God had left those Israelites once, they might have had some excuse for distrusting him; but he had never done so. If he had ever failed in his judgments, they might have had some excuse for unbelief; but when he threatened their enemies with plagues those plagues never failed to come. Was there a single weak point in what God had done for them? They had no ground whatever for their disbelief. O brothers, let us never distrust our God until he gives us ground for so doing; and that will be never. O thou blessed Holy Spirit, strengthen the faith of thy people this day, and may that faith create in us perfect obedience to the will of the Lord, so that henceforth we may magnify his holy name, and walk with him until we see his face unveiled above! The Lord sanctify us unto himself, for Jesus' sake! Amen.

Verse 8

Why Are Men Saved?

February 1, 1857 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake." Psalms 106:8 .

In looking upon the works of God in creation, there are two questions which at once occur to the thoughtful mind, and which must be answered before we can procure a clue to the philosophy and science of creation itself. The first one is the question of authorship: Who made all these things? And the next question is that of design: For what purpose were all these things created? The first question, "Who made all these things?" is one which is easily answered by a man who has a honest conscience and a sane mind, for when he lifts eyes up yonder to read the stars, he will see those stars spell out in golden letters this word God ; and when he looks below upon the waves, if his ears are honestly opened, he will hear each wave proclaiming, God . If he looks to the summits of the mountains, they will not speak, but with a dignified answer of silence they seem to say,

"The hand that made us is Divine."

If we listen to the rippling of the freshet at the mountain side, to the tumbling of the avalanche, to the lowing of the cattle, to the singing of the birds, to every voice and sound of nature, we shall hear this answer to the question, "God is our maker; he hath made us, and not we ourselves."

The next question, as to design Why were these things made? is not so easy to answer, apart from Scripture; but when we look at Scripture we discover this fact that as the answer to the first question is God, so the answer to the second question is the same. Why were these things made? The answer is, for God's glory, for his honor, and for his pleasure. No other answer can be consistent with reason. Whatever other replies men may propound, no other can be really sound. If they will for one moment consider that there was a time when God had no creatures when he dwelt alone, the mighty maker of ages, glorious in an uncreated solitude, divine in his eternal loneliness "I am and there is none beside me" can any one answer this question Why did God make creatures to exist? in any other way than by answering it thus: "He made them for his own pleasure and for his own glory." You may say he made them for his creatures; but we answer, there were then no creatures to make them for. We admit that the answer may be a sound one now . God makes the harvest for his creatures; he hangs the sun in the firmament to bless his creatures with light and sunshine; he bids the moon walk I her course by night, to cheer the darkness of his creatures upon earth. But the first answer, going back to the origin of all things, can be nothing else than this: "For his pleasure they are and were created." "He made all things for himself and by himself."

Now, this which holds good in the works of creation, holds equally good in the works of salvation. Lift up your eyes on high; higher than those stars which glimmer on the floor of heaven; look up, where spirits in white, clearer than light, shine like stars in their magnificence; look there, where the redeemed with their choral symphonies "circle the throne of God rejoicing," and put this question: "Who saved those glorified beings, and for what purpose were they saved." We tell you that the same answer must be given as we have previously given to the former question " He saved them he saved them for his name's sake." The text is an answer to the two great questions concerning salvation: Who saved men, and why are they saved? "He saved them for his name's sake."

Into this subject I shall endeavour to look this morning. May God make it profitable to each of us, and may we be found among the number who shall be saved "for his name's sake." Treating the text verbally and that is the way most will understand here are four things. First, a glorious Saviour " He saved them;" secondly, a favored people "He saved them ;" thirdly a divine reason why he saved them "for his names sake;" and fourthly, an obstruction conquered , in the word "nevertheless," implying that there was some difficulty that was removed. "Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake." A Saviour; the saved; the reason; the obstruction removed.

I. First, then, here is A GLORIOUS SAVIOUR " He saved them." Who is to be understood by that pronoun "he?" Possibly man of my hearers may answer, "Why, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of men." Right, my friends; but not all the truth. Jesus Christ is the Saviour; but not more so than God the Father, or God the Holy Ghost. Some persons who are ignorant of the system of divine truth think of God the Father as being a great Being full of wrath, and anger, and justice, but having no love, they think of God the Spirit perhaps as a mere influence proceeding from the Father and the Son. Now, nothing can be more incorrect than such opinions. It is true the Son redeems me, but then the Father gave the Son to die for me, and the Father chose me in the everlasting election of his grace. The Father blots out my sin; the Father accepts me and adopts me into his family through Christ. The Son could not save without the Father any more than the Father without the Son; and as for the Holy Spirit, if the Son redeems, know ye not that the Holy Ghost regenerates? It is he that makes us new creatures in Christ, who begets us again unto a lively hope, who purifies our soul, who sanctifies our spirit, and who, at last, presents us spotless and faultless before the throne of the Most High, accepted in the beloved. When thou sayest, "Saviour," remember there is a Trinity in that word the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, this Saviour being three persons under one name. Thou canst not be saved by the Son without the Father, nor by the Father without the Son, nor by Father and Son without the Spirit. But as they are one in creation, so are they one in salvation, working together in one God for our salvation, and unto that God be glory everlasting, world without end, Amen.

But, note here, how this Divine being claims salvation wholly to himself. "Nevertheless HE saved them." But, Moses, where art thou? Didst not thou save them, Moses? Thou didst stretch the rod over the sea, and it clave in halves; thou didst lift up thy prayer to heaven, and the frogs came, and the flies swarmed, and the water was turned into blood, and the hail smote the land of Egypt. Was not thou their Saviour, Moses? And thou Aaron, thou didst offer the bullocks which God accepted; thou didst lead them, with Moses, through the wilderness. Wast not thou their Saviour? They answer, "Nay, we were the instruments, but he saved them. God made use of us, but unto his name be all the glory, and none unto ourselves." But, Israel, thou wast a strong and mighty people; didst not thou save thyself? Perhaps it was by thine own holiness that the Red Sea was dried up; perhaps the parted floods were frighted at the piety of the saints that stood upon their margin; perhaps it was Israel that delivered itself. Nay, nay, saith God's Word; he saved them; they did not save themselves, nor did their fellow-men redeem them. And yet, mark you, there are some who dispute this point, who think that men save themselves, or, at least, that priests and preachers can help to do it. We say that the preacher, under God, may be the instrument of arresting man's attention, of warning him and arousing him; but the preacher is nothing; God is everything. The most mighty eloquence that ever distilled from the lips of seraphic preacher is nothing apart from God's Holy Spirit. Neither Paul, nor Apollos, nor Cephas, are anything: God gave the increase and God must have al the glory. There are some we meet with here and there who say, "I am Mr. So-and-so's convert; I am a convert of the Rev. Dr. this or that." Well, if you are, sir, I cannot give you much hope of heaven. Only God's converts go there; not proselytes of man, but the redeemed of the Lord. Oh, it is very little to convert a man to our own opinions; it is something to be the means of converting him to the Lord our God. I had a letter some time ago from a good Baptist minister in Ireland, who very much wanted me to cover over to Ireland, as he said, to represent the Baptist interest, because it was low there, and perhaps it might lead the people to think a little more of Baptists. I told him I would not go across the street merely to do that, much less would I cross the Irish Channel. I should not think of going to Ireland for that; but if I might go there to make Christians, under God, and be the means of bringing men to Christ, I would leave it to them what they should be afterwards, and trust to God's Holy Spirit to direct and guide them as to what denomination they should consider nearest akin to God's truth. Brethren, I might make all of you Baptists, perhaps, and yet you would be none the better for it; I might convert you all in that way, but such a conversion would be that you would be washed to greater stains, converted into hypocrites, and not into saints. I have seen something of wholesale conversion. Great revivalists have rise up; they have preached thundering sermons that have made men's knees knock together. "What a wonderful man!" people have said. "He has converted so many under one sermon." But look for his converts in a month, and where will they be? You will see some of them in the alehouse, you will hear others of them swear, you will find many of them rogues, and cheats, because they were not God's converts, but only man's. Brethren, if the work be done at all, it must be done of God, for if God do not convert there is nothing done that shall last, and nothing that shall be of any avail for eternity.

But some reply, "Well, sir, but men convert themselves." Yes, they do, and a fine conversion it is. Very frequently they convert themselves. But then that which man did, man undoes. He who converts himself one day, unconverts himself the next; he tieth a knot which his own fingers can loosen. Remember this you may convert yourselves a dozen times over, but "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," and "cannot see the kingdom of God." It is only "that which is born of the Spirit" that "is Spirit," and is therefore able to be gathered at last into the spirit-realm, where only spiritual things can be found before the throne of the Most High. We must reserve this prerogative wholly to God. If any man state that God is not Creator, we call him infidel; if any man entrench upon this doctrine, that God is the absolute Maker of all things, we hiss him down in a moment; but he is an infidel of the worst kind, because more specious, who puts God out of the mercy throne, instead of putting him out of the creation throne, and who tells men that they may convert themselves, whereas God doth it all. "He" only, the great Jehovah Father, Son, and Holy Ghost "he saved them for his name's sake.

Thus have I endeavoured to set out clearly the first truth of the divine and glorious Saviour.

II. Now, secondly, THE FAVORED PEOPLE "He saved them ." Who are they? You will reply, "They were the most respectable people that could be found in the world; they were a very prayerful, loving, holy, and deserving people; and, therefore, because they were good he saved them." Very well, that is your opinion, I will tell you what Moses says, "Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitudes of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea. Nevertheless he saved them." Look at the 7th verse, and you will have their character. In the first place, they were a stupid people "Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt." In the next place, they were an ungrateful people "they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies." In the third place, they were a provoking people "they provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea." Ah, these are the people whom free grace saves, these are the men and these the woman whom the God of all grace condescends to take to his bosom and to make anew.

Note, first, that they were a stupid people . God sends his gospel not always to the wise and prudent, but unto fools;

"He takes the fool and makes him know The wonders of his dying love."

Do not suppose, my hearer, because you are very unlettered and can scarcely read do not imagine, because you have always been brought up in extreme ignorance, and have scarcely learnt to spell your name, that therefore you cannot be saved. God's grace can save you, and then enlighten you. A brother minister once told me a story of a man who was known in a certain village as a simpleton, and was always considered to be soft in the head; no one thought he could ever understand anything. But one day he came to hear the gospel preached. He had been a drunken fellow, having wit enough to be wicked, which is a very common kind of wit. The Lord was pleased to bless the word to his soul, so that he became a changed character; and what was the marvel of all was, his religion gave him a something which began to develop his latent faculties. He found he had a something to live for, and he began to try what he could do. In the first place he wanted to read his Bible, that he might read his Saviour's name; and after much hammering and spelling away, at last he was able to read a chapter. Then he was asked to pray at a prayer-meeting; here was an exercise of his vocal powers. Five or six words made up his prayer, and down he sat abashed. But by continually praying in his own family at home, he came to pray like the rest of the brethren, and he went on till he became a preacher, and, singularly enough, he had a fluency a depth of understanding and a power of thought, such as are seldom found among ministers who only occasionally occupy pulpits. Strange it was, that grace should even tend to develop his natural powers, giving him an object, setting him devoutly and firmly upon it, and so bringing out all his resources that they were fully shown. AH, ignorant ones, ye need not despair. He saved them; not for their sakes there was nothing in them why they should be saved. He saved them, not for their wisdom's sake; but, ignorant though they were, understanding not the meaning of his miracles, "he saved them for his name's sake."

Note, again, they were a very ungrateful people , and yet he saved them. He delivered them times without number, and worked for them mighty miracles; but they still rebelled. Ah, that is like you, my hearer. You have had many deliverances from the borders of the grave; God has given you house and food day after day, and provided for you, and kept you to this hour; but how ungrateful you have been! As Isaiah said, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but my people doth not know, Israel doth not consider." How many there are of this character, who have favors from God, the history of which they could not give in a year; but yet what have they ever done for him? They would not keep a horse that did not work for them, nor as much as a dog that would not notice them. But here is God; he has kept them day by day, and they have done a great deal against him, but they have done nothing for him. He has put the bread into their very mouths, nurtured them, and sustained their strength, and they have spent their strength in defying him, in cursing his name and breaking his Sabbath. "Nevertheless he saved them." Some of this sort have been saved. I hope I have some here now who will be saved by conquering grace, made new men by the mighty power of God's Spirit. "Nevertheless he saved them." When there was nothing to recommend them, but every reason why they should be cast away for their ingratitude, "Nevertheless he saved them."

And note, once more, they were a provoking people "They provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea." Ah! how many people there are in this world that are a provoking people to God! If God were like man, who among us would be here to-day? If we are provoked once or twice, up goes the hand. With some men their passion stirs at the very first offence; others, who are somewhat more placid will bear offence after offence, till at last they say, "there is an end to everything, and I can bear that no longer; you must stay it, or else I must stay you!" Ah! if God had that temper, where should we be? Well might he say, "My thoughts are not as your thoughts; I am God, I change not, or else ye sons of Jacob had been consumed." They were a provoking people, "nevertheless he saved them." Have you provoked him? Take heart, if you repent, God has promised to save you; and what is more, he may this morning give you repentance, and even give you remission of sins, for he saves provoking people for his name's sake. I hear one of my hearers say, "Well, sir, that is encouraging sin with a vengeance!" Is it, indeed, sir! Why? "Because you are talking to the very worst of men, and you are saying that they may yet be saved." Pray, sirs, when I spoke to the worst of men, did I speak to you or not? You say, "No; I am one of the most respectable and best of men." Well then, sir, I have no need to preach to you, for you think you do not need mercy. "The whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick." But these poor people, whom you say I am encouraging in sin, need to be spoken to. I will leave you. Good morning to you! You keep to your own gospel, and I wonder whether you will find your way to heaven by it. Nay, I do not wonder, I know you will not, unless you are brought as a poor sinner to take Christ at his word, and be saved for his name's sake. But I say farewell to you, and I will keep on in my course. But why did you say I encourage men in sin? I encourage them to turn from it. I did not say he saved the provoking people, and then let them still provoke him as they had done before; I did not say he saved the wicked people, and then let them sin as they did before. But you know the meaning of the word "saved;" I explained it the other morning. The word "saved" does not mean merely taking men to heaven; it means more it means saving them from their sin; it means giving them a new heart, new spirits, new lives; it means making them into new men. Is there anything licentious in saying that Christ takes the worst of men to make them into saints? If there be, I cannot see it. I only wish he would take the worst of this congregation and make them into the saints of the living God, and then there would be far less licentiousness. Sinner, I comfort thee; not in thy sin, but in thy repentance. Sinner, the saints of heaven were once as bad as thou hast been. Art thou a drunkard, a swearer, an unclean person? "Such were some of them; but they have been washed but they have been sanctified." Is thy robe black? Ask them whether their robes were ever black, they would not have wanted washing, "We have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Then sinner, if they were black, and were saved, why not thyself?

"Are not his mercies rich and free? Then say, my soul, why not for thee? Our Jesus died upon the tree, Then why, my soul, why not for thee?"

Take heart, penitents, God will have mercy on you. "Nevertheless, he saved them for his name's sake."

III. Now we come to the third point THE REASON OF SALVATION: "He saved them for his name's sake." There is no other reason why God should save a man, but for his name's sake; there is nothing in a sinner which can entitle him to salvation, or recommend him to mercy; it must be God's own heart which must dictate the motive why men are to be saved. One person says, "God will save me, because I am so upright." Sir, he will do no such thing. Says another, "God will save me because I am so talented." Sir, he will not. Your talent! Why thou drivelling, self-conceited idiot, thy talent is nothing compared with that of the angel that once stood before the throne, and sinned, and who now is cast into the bottomless pit for ever! If he would save men for their talent, he would have saved Satan; for he had talents enough. As for thy morality and goodness, it is but filthy rags, and he will never save thee for aught thou doest. None of us would ever be saved, if God expected anything of us: we must be saved purely and solely for reasons connected with himself, and lying in his own bosom. Blessed be his name, he saves us for "his name's sake." What does that mean? I think it means this: the name of God is his person, his attributes, and his nature. For his nature's sake, for his very attribute's sake, he saved men; and, perhaps, we may include this also, "My name is in him" that is, in Christ; he saves us for the sake of Christ, who is the name of God. And what does that mean? I think it means this:

He saved them, first, that he might manifest his nature. God was all love, and he wanted to manifest it; he did show it when he made the sun, the moon, and the stars, and scattered flowers o'er the green and laughing earth. He did show his love when he made the air balmy to the body, and the sunshine cheering to the eye. He gives us warmth even in winter, by the clothing and by the fuel which he has stored in the bowels of the earth; but he wanted to reveal himself still more. "How can I show them that I love them with all my infinite heart? I will give my Son to die to save the very worst of them, and so I will manifest my nature." And God has done it, he has manifested his power, his justice, his love, his faithfulness, and his truth; he has manifested his whole self on the great platform of salvation. It was, so to speak, the balcony on which God stepped to show himself to man the balcony of salvation here it is he manifests himself, by saving men's souls.

He did it, again, to vindicate his name. Some say God is cruel; they wickedly call him tyrant. "Ah!" says God, "but I will save the worst of sinners, and vindicate my name; I will blot out the stigma; I will remove the slur: they shall not be able to say that, unless they be filthy liars, for I will be abundantly merciful. I will take away this stain, and they shall see that my great name is a name of love." And said he, again, "I will do this for my name's sake; that is, to make these people love my name; but if I take the worst of men, oh, how they will love me! If I go and take some of the offscouring of the earth, and make them my children, oh, how they will love me! Then they will cleave to my name; they will think it more sweet than music; it will be more precious to them than the spikenard of the Eastern merchants; they will value it as gold, yea, as much fine gold. The man who loves me best, is the man who has most sins forgiven: he owes much, therefore he will love much." This is the reason why God often selects the worst of men to make them his. Saith an old writer, "All the carvings of heaven were made out of knots; the temple of God, the king of heaven, is a cedar one, but the cedars were all knotty trees before he cut them down." He chose the worst, that he might display his workmanship and his skill, to make unto himself a name; as it is written, "It shall be unto me for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." Now, dear hearers, of whatever class you are, here is something I have to offer well worthy of your consideration, namely that if saved, we are saved for the sake of God, for his name's sake, and not for our own.

Now this puts all men on a level with regard to salvation. Suppose that in coming into this garden, the rule had been that every one should have made mention of my name as the key of admittance; the law is, that no man is to be admitted for his rank or title, but only by the use of a certain name. Up comes a lord; he makes use of the name and comes in; up comes a beggar, all in patches; he makes use of the name the law says it is only the use of the name that will admit you he makes use of it and he enters, for there is no distinction. So, my lady, if you come, with all your morality, you must make use of His name: if you come, poor filthy inhabitant of a cellar or a garret, and make use of His name, the doors will fly wide open, for there is salvation for every one who makes mention of the name of Christ, and for none other. This pulls down the pride of the moralist, abases the self exaltation of the self righteous, and puts us all, as guilty sinners, on an equal footing before God, to receive mercy at his hands, "For his name's sake," and for that reason alone.

IV. I have detained you too long; let me close by noticing the OBSTACLES REMOVED in the word "nevertheless." I shall do that in somewhat of an interesting form, by way of parable.

Once on a time, Mercy sat upon her snow-white throne, surrounded by the troops of love. A sinner was brought before her, whom Mercy designed to save. The herald blew the trumpet, and after three blasts thereof, with a loud voice, he said "O heaven and earth, and hell, I summon you this day to come before the throne of Mercy, to tell why this sinner should not be saved." There stood the sinner, trembling with fear; he knew that there were multitudes of opponents, who would press into the hall of Mercy, and with eyes full of wrath would say, "He must not, and he shall not escape, he must be lost!" The trumpet was blown, and Mercy sat placidly on her throne, until there stepped in one with a fiery countenance; his head was covered with light; he spoke with a voice like thunder, and out of his eyes flashed lightning! "Who art thou?" said Mercy. He replied, "I am Law; the law of God." "And what hast thou to say?" "I have this to say," and he lifted up a stony tablet, written on both sides; "these ten commands this wretch has broken. My demand is blood; for it is written, 'The soul that sinneth it shall die.' Die he, or justice must." The wretch trembles, his knees knock together, the marrow of his bones melts within him, as if they were ice dissolved by fire, and he shakes with very fright. Already he thought he saw the thunderbolt launched at him, he saw the lightning penetrate into his soul, hell yawned before him in imagination, and he thought himself cast away for ever. But Mercy smiled, and said, "Law, I will answer thee. This wretch deserves to die; justice demands that he should perish I award thee thy claim." And oh! how the sinner trembles. "But there is one yonder who has come with me to-day, my king, my Lord; his name is Jesus; he will tell you how the debt can be paid, and the sinner can go free." Then Jesus spake, and said, "O Mercy, I will do thy bidding. Take me Law; put me in a garden; make me sweat drops of blood; then nail me to a tree; scourge my back before you put me to death; hang me on the cross; let blood run from my hands and feet; let me descend into the grave; let me pay all the sinner oweth; I will die in his stead." And the Law went out and scourged the Saviour, nailed him to the cross, and coming back with his face all bright with satisfaction, stood again at the throne of Mercy, and Mercy said, "Law, what hast thou now to say?" "Nothing," said he, "fair angel, nothing." "What! not one of these commands against him?" "No, not one. Jesus, his substitute, has kept them all has paid the penalty for his disobedience; and now, instead of his condemnation, I demand as a debt of justice that he be acquitted." "Stand thou here," said Mercy, "sit on my throne; I and thou together will now send forth another summons." The trumpet rang again. "Come hither, all ye who have aught to say against this sinner, why he should not be acquitted;" and up comes another one who often troubled the sinner, one who had a voice not so loud as that of the Law, but still piercing and thrilling a voice whose whispers were like the cuttings of a dagger. "Who art thou?" says Mercy. "I am Conscience; this sinner must be punished; he has done so much against the law of God that he must be punished; I demand it; and I will give him no rest till he is punished, nor even then, for I will follow him even to the grave, and persecute him after death with pangs unutterable." "Nay," said Mercy, "hear me," and while he paused for a moment, she took a bunch of hyssop and sprinkled Conscience with the blood, saying, "Hear me, Conscience, 'The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin;' Now hast thou ought to say,?" "No," said Conscience, "nothing."

'Covered is his unrighteousness; From condemnation he is free.'

Henceforth I will not grieve him; I will be a good conscience unto him, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ." The trumpet rang a third time, and growling from the innermost vaults, up there came a grim black fiend, with hate in his eyes, and hellish majesty on his brows. He is asked, "Hast thou anything against that sinner?" "Yes," said he, "I have; he has made a league with hell, and a covenant with the grave, and here it is signed with his own hand. He asked God to destroy his soul in a drunken fit, and vowed he would never turn to God; see, here is his covenant with hell!" "Let us look at it," said Mercy; and it was handed up, whilst the grim fiend looked at the sinner, and pierced him through with his black looks. "Ah! but," said Mercy, "this man had no right to sign the deed; a man must not sign away another's property. This man was bought and paid for long beforehand; he is not his own; the covenant with death is disannulled, and the league with hell is rent in pieces. Go thy way Satan," "Nay," said he, howling again, "I have something else to say: that man was always my friend; he listened ever to my insinuations; he scoffed at the gospel; he scorned the majesty of heaven; is he to be pardoned, whilst I repair to my hellish den, for ever to bear the penalty of guilt?" Said Mercy, "Avaunt, thou fiend; these things he did in the days of his unregeneracy; but this word 'nevertheless' blots them out. Go thou to thy hell; take this for another lash upon thyself the sinner shall be pardoned, but thou never, treacherous fiend!" And then Mercy, smilingly turning to the sinner, said, "Sinner, the trumpet must be blown for the last time!" Again it was blown, and no one answered. Then stood the sinner up, and Mercy said, "Sinner ask thyself the question ask thou of heaven, of earth, of hell whether any can condemn thee?" And the sinner stood up, and with a bold loud voice said, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" And he looked into hell, and Satan lay there, biting his iron bonds; and he looked on earth, and earth was silent; and in the majesty of faith the sinner did even climb to heaven itself, and he said, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? God?' And the answer came, "No; he justifieth." "Christ?" Sweetly it was whispered, "No; he died." Then turning round, the sinner joyfully exclaimed, "Who shall separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." And the once condemned sinner came back to Mercy; prostrate at her feet he lay, and vowed henceforth to be hers for ever, if she would keep him to the end, and make him what she would desire him to be. Then no longer did the trumpet ring, but angels rejoiced, and heaven was glad, for the sinner was saved.

Thus, you see, I have what is called, dramatized the thing; but I don't care what it is called; it is a way of arresting the ear, when nothing else will. "Nevertheless;" there is the obstruction taken away! Sinner, whatever be the "nevertheless," it shall never the less abate the Saviour's love; not the less shall it ever make it, but it shall remain the same.

"Come, guilty soul, and flee away To Christ and heal thy wounds; This is the glorious gospel-day, Wherein free grace abounds. Come to Jesus, sinner, come."

On thy knee weep out a sorrowful confession; look to his cross, and see the substitute; believe, and live. Ye almost demons, ye that have gone farthest in sin, now, Jesus says, "If you know your need of me, turn unto me, and I will have mercy upon you: and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Verse 9

Israel at the Red Sea

A Sermon

(No. 72)

Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856, by the

REV. C. H. Spurgeon

At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

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"He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness." Psalms 106:9 .

SEVERAL Sabbaths ago we preached upon the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, by the blood of the passover: and we told you then, that we believed that event to be typical of the coming forth of God's people from that spiritual house of bondage, that furnace of mental suffering whence they are delivered by the omnipotent grace of God, at the time of their conversion. This morning we pursue the narrative. No doubt the children of Israel supposed that now all was over; the Egyptians has sent them away, entreating them to depart, and loading them with riches. Terror had smitten the heart of Egypt, for from the king on the throne to the prisoner in the dungeon, all was dismay and fear on account of Israel. Egypt was glad for them when they departed. Therefore the children of Israel said within themselves, "We shall now march to Canaan at once; there will be no more dangers, no more troubles, no more trials; the Egyptians themselves have sent us away, and they are too much afraid of us ever to molest us again. Now shall be tread the desert through with hasty footstep; and when a few more days have passed, we shall enter into the land of our possession the land that floweth with milk and honey." "Not quite so speedily," says God; "the time is not arrived yet for you to rest. It is true I have delivered you from Egypt; but there is much you have to learn before you will be prepared to dwell in Canaan. Therefore I shall lead you about, and instruct you, and teach you." And it came to pass that the Lord led the children of Israel about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea, till they arrived over against Baalzephon, where on either side the craggy mountains shut them in. Pharoah hears of it; he comes upon them, to overcome them; and they stand in terrible fright and jeopardy of them, to overcome them; and they stand in terrible fright and jeopardy of their lives. Now, beloved, it is usually so with the believer: he marches out of Egypt spiritually at the time of his conversion, and he says within himself, "Now I shall always be happy." He has a bright eye, and a light heart, for his fetters have been dashed to the ground, and he feels no longer the lash of conscience upon his shoulder. "Now," says he, "I may have a short life, but it will be a happy one."

"'A few more rolling years at most,

Will land me on fair Canaan's coast.'

And then I shall have no more warfare, no more fighting, no more disturbance; but I shall be at peace." "Not quite as thou desirest," says God. "Oh! thou little one; I have more to teach thee ere thou art prepared for my palace." Then he commences to lead us about, and bring us into straits and perils. The sins which we thought had utterly left us are hunting us behind, while impassible floods block up the way. Even trembling Israel halting by the Red Sea is but a faint emblem of that terrible position into which the child of God usually falls, within a few weeks or months after he has come out of the land of Egypt.

I shall preach this morning a sermon, which I hope will be useful to such of you as have lately come to know the Lord. You were expecting to build tabernacles, in which to dwell on the summit of the mountains of joy for ever; but you find, on the contrary, that you have very great troubles and conflicts; and perhaps now you have a more terrible trial than you ever experienced in all your life before. I will endeavour to show you, that this is just what you might have expected; that there will be a Red Sea very soon after you come out of your house of bondage. Others of you, my dear friends, have passed through all these things many years ago. You can say,

"Many days have passed since then,

Many changes I have seen,

Yet have been upheld till now;

Who could hold me up but thou?"

But I am sure you will be glad to re-visit the spot, where God delivered you from your distresses. We find it very pleasant to look upon the place where we were taught in our school-boy days, or to visit the haunts of our childhood. So you who are grey-headed in the cause of your Master, will not find it very tedious work to go back a little way, and look to that Red Sea which God rebuked and dried up, that you might be led through it even as through the wilderness.

Coming, then, to the subject; the children of Israel had their difficulties, and so generally the child of God has his very soon after he comes out of Egypt. But then they had their refuges; and moreover, God had a great and grand design to answer in all the troubles into which they were brought.

I. Taking the first point, the children of Israel just now had THREE DIFFICULTIES three exceeding great dangers. And so I believe that every heir of heaven, within a very short period after the time of his deliverance, will meet with the same.

The first they had was a great trial sent by God himself. There was the Red Sea in the front of them. Now, it was not an enemy that put the sea there; it was God himself. We may therefore think, that the Red Sea represents some great and trying providence, which the Lord will be sure to place in the path of every new-born child; in order to try his faith, and to test the sincerity of his trust in God. I do not know, beloved, whether your experience will back up mine: but I can say this, that the worst difficulty I ever met with, or I think I can ever meet with, happened a little time after my conversion to God. And you must generally expect, very soon after you have been brought to know and love him, that you will have some great, broad, deep Red Sea straight before your path, which you will scarcely know how to pass. Sometimes it will occur in the family. The husband says, for instance if he is an ungodly man "You shall not attend such-and-such a place of worship; I positively forbid you to be baptized, or to join that church;" there is a Red Sea before you. You had done nothing wrong; it is God himself who places that Red Sea before your path. Or perhaps before that time, you were carrying on a business which now you cannot conscientiously continue; and there is a Red Sea which you have to cross in renouncing your means of livelihood. You don't see how it is to be done; how you are to maintain yourself, and to provide things honest in the sight of all men. Or perhaps your employment calls you amongst men with whom you lived before on amicable terms, and now on a sudden, they say, "Come! won't you do as you used to do?" There, again, is a Red Sea before you. It is a hard struggle; you do not like to come out and say, "I cannot, I shall not, for I am a Christian." You stand still, half afraid to go forward. Or perhaps it is something proceeding more immediately from God. You find that just when he plants a vine in your heart, he blasts all the vines in your vineyard; and when he plants you in his own garden, then it is that he uproots all your comforts and your joys. Just when the Sun of Righteousness is rising upon you, your own little candle is blown out; just when you seem to need it most, your gourd is withered, your prosperity departs, and your flood becomes an ebb. I say again, it may not be so with all of you, but I think that most of God's people have not long escaped the bondage of Egypt, before they find some terrible, rolling sea, lashed perhaps by tempestuous winds directly in their path; they stand aghast, and say, "O God, how can I bear this? I thought I could give up all for thee; but now I feel as if I could do nothing! I thought I should be in heaven, and all would be easy; but here is a sea I cannot ford there is no squadron of ships to carry me across: it is not bridged even by thy mercy; I must swim it, or else I fear I must perish."

Then the children of Israel had a second difficulty. They would not have cared about the Red Sea a single atom, if they had not been terrified by the Egyptians who were behind them. These Egyptians, I think may be interpreted this morning, by way of parable, as the representatives of those sins of ours, which we thought were clean dead and gone. For a little while after conversion sin does not trouble a Christian; he is very happy and cheerful, in a sense of pardon; but before many days are past, he will understand what Paul said, "I find another law in my members, so that when I would do good, evil is present with me." The first moment when he wins his liberty he laughs and leaps in an ecstacy of joy. He thinks, "Oh! I shall soon be in heaven; as for sin, I can trample that beneath my feet!" But mark you, scarce has another Sabbath gladdened his spirit, ere he finds that sin is too much for him; the old corruptions which he fancied were laid in their graves get a resurrection and start up afresh, and he begins to cry, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" He sees all his old sins galloping behind him: like Pharoah and his host pursuing him to the borders of the Red Sea. There is a great trial before him. Oh! he thinks he could bear that; he thinks he could walk through the Red Sea; oh! those Egyptian they are behind him! He thought he should never have seen them any more for ever; they were the plague and torment of his life when they made him work in the brick-kiln. He sees his old master, the very man who was wont to lay the lash on his shoulders, riding post haste after him; and there are the eyes of that black Pharoah, flashing like fire in the distance; he sees the horrid scowling face of the tyrant, and how he trembles! Satan is after him, and all the legions of hell seem to be let loose, if possible, utterly to destroy his soul. At such a time, moreover, our sins are more formidable to us than they were before they were forgiven; because, when we were in Egypt, we never saw the Egyptians mounted on horses, or in chariots; they only appeared as our task-masters, with their whips; but now these people see the Egyptians on horseback, clad in armour; they behold all the mighty men of valour come out with their warlike instruments to slay them. So did I find, speaking for myself, that when I first knew the weight of sin, it was as a burden, as a labour, as a trouble; but when the second time

"I asked the Lord that I might grow,

In faith, and love, and every grace;

Might more of his salvation know,

And seek more earnestly his face;"

and when he answered me by letting all my sins loose upon me they appeared more frightful than before. I thought the Egyptians in Egypt were not half so bad as the Egyptians out of Egypt; I thought the sins I knew before, though they were cruel task-masters, were not half so much to be dreaded as those soldier-sins, armed with spears and axes, with chariots of iron with scythes upon their axles, hastening to assault me. It is true they did not come so near to me as heretofore; nevertheless they occasioned more fright than when I was their slave. It may be, poor child of God, thou art astonished and amazed to find, that thy sins are more black now than they were when thou wast under conviction; that thou hast less hope than thou hadst even then; and that thy condition is possibly far worse than when the law was beating thee from head to foot, and rubbing brine into the wounds of thy conscience. Thou mayest be saying, "Ah! well, I never thought of this; if I be a child of God, if I were really pardoned and forgiven, how could it be that I should be so vexed and tormented with a sense of my guilt? And if all my transgressions have been cast into the depths of the sea, how is it that I hear the armies of my sins, rattling their horse-hoofs and chariot-wheels behind me?" I tell thee, beloved, in the name of the Lord, that is just what you ought to have expected. The pangs after we come out of Egypt are at times even more painful than those we feel in the house of bondage; and there is usually a time of trial a little while after the new birth, which is even more terrible and awful than the previous agony of the soul, though not usually so protracted. This was the second difficulty.

But there was a third difficulty, which perhaps wrought them more misery than either of the other two: these poor children of Israel had such faint hearts. They no sooner saw the Egyptians than they began to cry out; and when they beheld the Red Sea before them, they murmured against their deliverer. A faint heart is the worst foe a Christian can have; whilst he keeps his faith firm, whilst the anchor is fixed deep in the rock, he never need fear the storm; but when the hand of faith is palsied, or the eye of faith is dim, it will go hard with us. As for the Egyptian, he may throw his spear; while we can catch it on the shield of faith, we are not terrified by the weapon, but if we lose our faith, the spear becomes a deadly dart. While we have faith, the Red Sea may flow before us, as deep and dark as it pleases: for like Leviathan, we trust we can snuff up Jordan at a draught. But if we have no faith, then at the most insignificant streamlet, which Faith could take up in her hands in a single moment, and drink like Gideon's men, poor Unbelief stands quivering and crying, "Ah! I shall be drowned in the floods, or I shall be slain by the foe; there is no hope for me; I am driven to despair. It would have been better for me that I had died in Egypt, than that I should come hither to be slain by the hand of the enemy." The child of God, when he is first born, has but very little faith, because he has had but little experience; he has not tried the promise, and therefore he does not know its faithfulness. He has not used the arm of his faith, and therefore the sinews of it have not become strong. Let him live a little longer, and become confirmed in the faith, and he will not care for Red Seas, nor yet for the Egyptians; but just then his little heart beats against the walls of his body, and he laments, "Ah, me! ah, me! O wretched man that I am! How shall I ever find deliverance?" This description of spiritual geography may be uninteresting to some, because they may not have travelled through this part of the wilderness, but others will view it with attention. Who cared about maps of the Crimea till there was war there? But as soon as our soldiers were engaged in that particular spot, every man bought a map of the Crimea and studied the boundaries of Russia. So if you have been in these straits, you will be very glad of my map this morning, that you may see the way in which God leads his family. These are the three dangers a great trial, sins pursuing us behind, and an exceedingly faint heart.

II. But, thanks be to God! the children of Israel had THREE HELPS.

Oh! child of God? dost thou discern this mystery? Whenever thou hast three trials, thou wilt always have three promises; and if thou hadst forty afflictions, thou wouldst have forty measures of grace. Yes, and if thou hadst a million troubles, thou wouldst have a million measures of mercy. The Israelites had three difficulties, and they had three helps; and as the difficulty was put in the way by providence, so providence did also furnish a relief.

The first help they had was Providence. Providence put the Red Sea there, and piled the rocks on either hand, while providence represented by the fiery cloudy pillar, had led them to its shore, and conducted them into the defile, and now the same pillar of providence came to their assistance. They had not come thither undirected, and therefore they should not be left unprotected, for the same cloudy pillar which led them there, came behind them to protect them.

Cheer up, then, heir of grace! What is thy trial? Has providence brought it upon thee? If so, unerring wisdom will deliver thee from it. What is it thou art now exercised upon? As truly as thou art alive, God will remove it. Dost thou think God's cloudy pillar would ever lead thee to a place where God's right arm would fail thee? Dost thou imagine that he would ever guide thee into such a defile that he could not conduct thee out again? The providence which apparently misleads, will in verity befriend thee. That which leads thee into difficulties guards thee against thy foes; it casts darkness on thy sins, whilst it giveth light to thee. How sweet is providence to a child of God, when he can reflect upon it! He can look out into this world, and say, "However great my troubles, they are not so great as my Father's power; however difficult may be my circumstances, yet all things around me are working together for good. He who holds up yon unpillared arch of the starry heavens can also support my soul without a single apparent prop; he who guides the stars in the well-ordered courses, even when they seem to move in hazy dances, surely he can overrule my trials in such a way that out of confusion he will bring order; and from seeming evil produce lasting good. He who bridles the storm, and puts the bit in the mouth of the tempest, surely he can restrain my trial, and keep my sorrows in subjection. I need not fear while the lightnings are in his hands and the thunders sleep within his lips; while the oceans gurgle from his fist, and the clouds are in the hollow of his hands; while the rivers are turned by his foot, and while he diggeth the channels of the sea. Surely he whose might wings an angel, can furnish a worm with strength; he who guides a cherub will not be overcome by the trials of an emmet like myself. He who makes the most ponderous orb roll in dignity, and keeps its predestined orbit, can make a little atom like myself move in my proper course, and conduct me as he pleaseth. Christian! there is no sweeter pillow than providence; and when providence seemeth adverse, believe it still, lay it under thy head, for depend upon it there is comfort in its bosom. There is hope for thee thou child of God! The great trouble which is to come in thy way in the early part of thy pilgrimage, is planned by love, the same love which shall interpose as thy protector.

Again: the children of Israel had another refuge, in the fact, that they knew that they were the covenant people of God, and that, though they were in difficulties, God had brought them there, and therefore God, (with reverence let me say it,) was bound in honor to bring them out of that trouble into which he had brought them. "Well," says the child of God, "I know I am in a strait, but this one thing I also know, that I did not come out of Egypt by myself I know that he brought me out; I know that I did not escape by my own power, or slay my first-born sins myself I know that he did it; and though I fled from the tyrant I know that he made my feet mighty for travel, for there was not one feeble in all our tribes; I know that though I am at the Red sea, I did not run there uncalled, but he bade me go there, and therefore I give to the winds my fears; for it he hath led me here into this difficulty, he will lead me out, and lead me through.

But the point to which I want to direct your attention most of all is this. The third refuge which the children of Israel had, was in a man; and neither of the two others, without that, would have been of any avail. It was the man Moses. He did everything for them. Thy greatest refuge, O child of God! in all thy trials, is in a man: not in Moses, but in Jesus; not in the servant, but in the master. he is interceding for thee, unseen and unheard by thee, even as Moses did for the children of Israel. If thou couldst but, in the dim distance, catch the sweet syllables of his voice as they distil from his lips, and see his heart as it speaks for thee, thou wouldst take comfort; for God hears that man when he pleads. He can overcome every difficulty. He has not a rod, but a cross, which can divide the Red sea; he has not only a cloudy pillar of forgiving grace, which can dim the eyes of your foes and keep them at a distance; but he has a cross, which can open the Red sea and drown thy sins in the very midst. He will not leave thee. Look! on yonder rock of heaven he stands, cross in hand, even as Moses with his rod. Cry to him, for with that uplifted cross he will cleave a path for thee, and guide thee through the sea; he will make those hoary floods, which had been friends for ever, and stand asunder like foes. Call to him, and he will make thee a way in the midst of the ocean, and a path through the pathless sea. Cry to him, and there shall not a sin of thine be left alive; he will sweep them all away; and the king of sin, the devil, he too shall be overwhelmed beneath the Saviour's blood, whilst thou shalt sing

"Hell and my sins obstruct my path,

But hell and sin are conquer'd foes;

My Jesus nailed them to his cross,

And sang the triumph as he rose."

Still look thou to that man who once on Calvary died!

III. GOD HAD A DESIGN IN IT. And here, also, we wish you to regard with attention what God's design is, in leading the Christian into exceeding great trials in the early part of his life. This is explained to us by the Apostle Paul. A reference Bible is the best commentator in the world; and the most heavenly exposition is the searching out of kindred, texts, and comparing their meaning. "They were all baptized," says the Apostle, "unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea." God's design in bringing his people into trouble, and raising all their sins at their heels, is to give them a thorough baptism into his service, consecrating them for ever to himself. I mean by baptism this morning, not the rite, but what baptism represents. Baptism signifies dedication to God initiation into God's service. It is not when we are first converted that we so fully dedicate ourselves to God, as afterwards, when some great Red sea rolls before us. I should be delighted to see some of you get into trouble. Am I unkind to utter such a wish? Well I repeat it, I should; for I shall never get you into the church unless you do; you will never come forward and make a thorough dedication of yourselves to God, till you have had a sharp trial. Rest assured of this, that sharp trials were no slight cause of the heroic devotion of the martyrs, confessors, and missionaries, who so thoroughly consecrated themselves to their Master's service. The great purpose of all our affliction is the promotion of an entire dedication to Christ in all our hearts. It is only in the font of sorrow that we are baptized with Christ's baptism. No holy chrism hath efficacy to baptize; it is the Spirit, who alone can dedicate us in the waters of the sea of tribulation. You are brought into these straits, young believer, that you may at such a time receive the baptism for God. Do not, I beseech you, let the time pass by; for there are some who neglect it, who, afterwards, never perfectly know what it is to be "baptized unto Jesus, in the cloud and in the sea." They say, "they will wait a little while," but the consequence is, they wait a very long while. They say they will do to-morrow what they ought to do to-day. Beware how you let slip the opportunity which God presents you, that you may devote yourself publicly to him. The very first time after conversion, when we come into straits and difficulties, is intended that we should then be dedicated to Jesus, and come out openly as the children of the living God.

Now, beloved, let these thoughts rest with you. You may think them unimportant, but I am sure they are not. Believe me, you ought, indeed, to own yourselves on the Lord's side. If God be God, serve him; if Baal be God, serve him. There is nothing which I would more earnestly and ardently press upon you, than the great duty of decision for Jesus Christ. How many of you have a faint and indistinct hope, that when you die you will be Christ's people; and yet you must confess that you are not decided for Christ. You think you are his, but you often neglect duty, and frequently allow what you think a little sin to stain your conscience. You are not godly in worldly affairs. But I beseech you, put truth and righteousness into one scale, and put your own worldly gain into the other, and see which is the most important, and if you think that prudence dictates attention to this world instead of God, then remember, that is hellish prudence, and cometh of the devil, and, therefore, reject it. If ye were Egyptians, I might tell you to serve another master; but since you are God's people, or profess to be, I charge home upon you; and I beg of you, if you make a profession, to be out-and-out with it. How we do loathe those hot and cold people, who are neither one thing nor the other! You, who hold with the hare and run with the hounds you, who are first one thing and then another you, who are half horse, half alligator, and neither of them you, who are something between the two, who are neither Christians nor worldlings in your own opinions. We know which you are. I have often thought what a consistent religion the Roman Catholic would be for some of you go-between people. You are not exactly children of God; but you would not like to be called the children of the devil. Where should we put you at last? It would be a very convenient thing to have a purgatory for you, to place you somewhere between the two. But as we have no such place, we do not wish to have any such characters, and we believe there are none such; you are either servants of God, or servants of the devil. Don't stand halting between two opinions, but just say, once for all, whom you will serve. If you choose the devil, choose him, love him, serve him, and rejoice in your choice. If you choose hell, go there, rush madly there; it's a fearful dwelling place for eternity an awful home for ever! But if you choose God, I beseech you be in downright earnest about it. The religion of the present day, what mockery it is to call it religion at all! I protest, I believe the common religion of this age will not carry half those who profess it to heaven. It is a religion which they might easily carry to heaven, for it is too light to burden them, but it is too fragile to carry them there. They have a godliness which has not eaten up their soul. I heart a minister say once to his people, that "it would be a long time before the zeal of God's house would eat them up." Take the churches all round: what a slumbering brotherhood they are! There might almost be a controversy between the prince of this world, and the prince of heaven to whom they belonged. But I beseech you, let there be a marked and decided difference between you and the world. Let your heart be steeped in godliness; let your life be saturated with religion. Take care that, "whether you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, you do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by him." So shall God see his great design subserved of making you to be baptized unto Jesus, "in the cloud and in the sea."

In concluding, there is one sad aspect of this picture, which I wish you to regard. It is this. Some of you are journeying in an unconverted state to that bourne from which there is no return. At death you will find a Red Sea in your way the sea of death staring you in the face. When you come before it, you will find no bridge, no ships; but you must wade that sea alone. And, mark you, if you are living now in an ungodly condition, and are doing so when you die, as certainly as you are here, just when that great sea of death is rolling before you, all the Egyptian hosts of your sins will harass you in the rear. All your sins will come bellowing after you; you will have your iniquities like wild winter wolves pursuing you, athrist for blood, and swift to slay. You will hear fiends howling in your ears. And when already the raging flood of Jordan hath made your bones shake, and your marrow quiver, just then you will see the red eyes of your sins peering through the darkness of your despair, and hear the howlings of your former transgressions, as they hound you to the pit, seeking after your soul's blood. Ah, then, my hearer, thou wilt have no cloudy pillar to give thee light; thou wilt have no pillar of darkness to confound thy foes; but thou wilt have behind thee all thy sins, and before thee that black sea of death, which thou art compelled to cross. But mark thee, those sins will swim that sea with thee; they will not be like the Egyptians which were drowned; but when thou art wading through the sea, thou wilt find thy sins like hounds fixing on a stag, drinking thy heart's blood. Ay, when thou hast landed in eternity, thou wilt find there was not a single one drowned in the sea, but that they are all alive; every sin grown into a giant, every lust brandishing a thousand arms, each arm bearing a thousand horrid fingers of flame, and each finger a claw of iron, which shall tear thy soul. Oh! I warn thee against these Egyptians of thy sins, for unless the blood be sprinkled on thy door-post and on thy lintel, and unless the destroying angel smite those sins for thee, they will assuredly follow thee across the sea. Methinks I see thee there! Thou art just in the midst of the Jordan. Poor soul! the river itself is work enough for a man to wade through it; for dying is not easy labour. The waters are rushing into his lips, and gurgling in his throat, like a whirlpool. See how he shakes. White as the floods around him, he quivers, like the very waves themselves. And, ah! just when in his fell despair, he shrieks see, the harpies feed him with black fruits of hell; and when he quivers most, see there the scalding brimstone of Almighty God rained upon his body. Just when he is shrieking in death's torments, then is it that Satan takes the opportunity to howl in his face, and show him his glaring eyes of fire, to terrify his poor soul, worse than death itself. Sinner! when thou diest, remember that thou wilt have to die two deaths, one death which we shall see, another death which we only know of by the shrieks, and groans, and anguish, which even we may hear on this side of the grave. But what thou wilt experience in the next world, I cannot picture to thee, I cannot tell thee; those dim shapes of horror I cannot paint to thee; those fierce flames of misery I cannot now describe; that doleful miserere of desolation, and that awful lament of eternity, I cannot endure to hear; I dare not lift the veil that conceals the dread scenes, which haunt the spirits of the ungodly departed.

Well, then, what shalt thou do to escape this death? What canst thou do to be saved? Why, sinner, in the first place, of thyself thou canst do nothing at all. But, in the second place, there is one a Man, who can do all for thee. He is the Man Christ Jesus; if thou believest on him, filthy as thou art, and wretched, and outcast, and vile, thou shalt never see the second death, but shalt have eternal life abiding in thee; and when thou diest in this world, instead of black fiends to hound thee through the river, thou wilt have sweet angels playing o'er the stream, waiting to waft thee unto glory; thou wilt feel bright spirits fanning thy hot brow with their soft wings; thou wilt hear songs, sweet as the music of paradise, and when thy troubles are the strongest, thou wilt have a peace with God "which passeth all understanding;" a "joy unspeakable and full of glory," which shall enable thee to "swallow up death in victory." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Poor, trembling, penitent sinner, put thine hand inside the hand of Christ; now fall on his mercy; "to-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart." I beseech you for Christ's sake, "be ye reconciled to God." And if ye be penitents, may God give you faith that ye may be believers! As for the rest of you, remember, ere you go, I have told you no fable, but the truth. You may go away and say, "There is no hell." Well, suppose there is none, believers will be as well off as you are. But suppose there is and there is for a certainty suppose yourselves in it, you cannot then suppose yourselves out of it any more. May God grant his blessing, for Jesus' sake; turning many of you to righteousness.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 106". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/psalms-106.html. 2011.