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God Alone the Salvation of his People
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 18, 1856, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
“He only is my rock and my salvation.”—Psalm 92:2.
HOW noble a title. So sublime, suggestive, and overpowering. “MY ROCK.” It is a figure so divine, that to God alone shall it ever be applied.
Look on yon rocks and wonder at their antiquity, for from their summits a thousand ages look down upon us. When this gigantic city was as yet unfounded they were grey with age; when our humanity had not yet breathed the air, ‘tis said that these were ancient things; they are the children of departed ages. With awe we look upon these aged rocks, for they are among nature’s first-born. You discover, embedded in their bowels, the remnants of unknown worlds, of which, the wise may guess, but which, nevertheless, they must fail to know, unless God himself should teach them what hath been before them. You regard the rock with reverence, for you remember what stories it might tell, if it had a voice; of how through igneous and aqueous agency, it has been tortured into the shape it now assumes. Even so is our God pre-eminently ancient. His head and his hair are white like wool, as white as snow, for he is “the ancient of days,” and we are always taught in Scripture to remember, that he is “without beginning of years.” Long ere creation was begotten, “from everlasting to everlasting,” he was God.
“My rock!” What a history the rock might give you of the storms to which it has been exposed; of the tempests which have raged in the ocean at its base, and of the thunders which have disturbed the skies above its head; while it, itself, has stood unscathed by tempests, and unmoved by the buffettings of storms. So with our God. How firm hath he stood—how steadfast hath he been—though the nations have reviled him, and “the kings of the earth have taken counsel together!” By merely standing still he hath broken the ranks of the enemy, without even stretching forth his hand! With motionless grandeur like a rock he hath broken the waves, and scattered the armies of his enemies, driving them back in confusion. Look at the rock again: see how firm and unmoved it stands! It doth not stray from place to place, but it abideth fast for evermore. Other things have changed, islands have been drowned beneath the sea, and continents have been shaken; but see, the rock stands as steadfast as if it were the very foundation of the whole world, and could not move till the wreck of creation, or the loosening of the bands of nature. So with God: how faithful he is in his promises! how unalterable in his decrees! how unswerving! how unchanging!
The rock is immutable, nought hath been worn from it. Yon old granite peak hath gleamed in the sun, or worn the white veil of winter snow—it hath sometimes worshipped God with bare uncovered head, and at other times the clouds furnished it with veiling wings, that like a cherub, it might adore its Maker, but yet itself hath stood unchanged. The frosts of winter have not destroyed it, nor have the heats of summer melted it. It is the same with God. Lo, he is my rock; he is the same, and his kingdom shall have no end. Unchangeable he is in his being, firm in his own sufficiency; he keeps himself immutably the same; and “therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” The ten thousand uses of the rock, moreover, are full of ideas as to what God is. You see the fortress standing on a high rock, up which the clouds themselves can scarcely climb, and up whose precipices the assault cannot be carried, and the armed cannot travel, for the besieged laugh at them from their eminence. So is our God a sure defence; and we shall not be moved if he hath “set our feet upon a rock, and established our goings.” Many a giant rock is a source of admiration from its elevation; for on the summit we can see the world outspread below, like some small map; we mark the river or broadly spreading stream, as if it were a vein of silver inlaid in emerald. We discover the nations beneath our feet, “like drops in a bucket,” and the islands are “very little things” in the distance, while the sea itself seems but a basin of water, held in the hand of a mighty giant. The mighty God is such a rock; we stand on him, and look down on the world, counting it to be a mean thing. We have climbed to Pisgah’s top, from the summit of which we can see across this world of storms and troubles to the bright land of spirits—that world unknown to ear or eye, but which God hath revealed to us by the Holy Ghost. This mighty rock is our refuge, and it is our high observatory, from which we see the unseen, and have the evidence of things which as yet, we have not enjoyed. I need not, however, stop to tell you all about a rock, we might preach for a week upon it; but we give you that for your meditation during the week. ”He is my rock.” How glorious a thought! How safe am I, and how secure: and how may I rejoice in the fact, that when I wade through Jordan’s stream he will be my rock! I shall not walk upon a slippery foundation, but I shall tread on him who cannot betray my feet; and I may sing, when I am dying, “He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
We now leave the thought of the rock, and proceed to the subject of our discourse, which is this: that God alone is the salvation of his people.
“He ONLY is my rock and my salvation.”
We shall notice, first, the great doctrine, that God only is our salvation; secondly, the great experience, to know and to learn that “he only is my rock and my salvation”; and, thirdly, the great duty, which you may guess at, which is, to give all the glory and all the honor, and place all our faith on him who “only is our rock and our salvation.”
I. The first thing is, THE GREAT DOCTRINE—that God “only is our rock and our salvation.” If any one should ask us what we would choose for our motto, as preachers of the gospel, we think we should reply, “God only is our salvation.” The late lamented Mr. Denham has put at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, “Salvation is of the Lord>’ Now, that is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and the substance of it. If any one should ask you what you mean by a Calvinist, you may reply, “He is one who says, salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Tell me anything that departs from this and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rocky truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? and what is that heresy of Arminianism but the secret addition of something to the complete work of the Redeemer? You will find that every heresy, if rough to the touchstone, will discover itself here, it departs from this, “He only is my rock and my salvation.”
Let us now explain this doctrine fully. By the term “salvation” here, I understand not simply regeneration and conversion, but something more. I do not reckon that to be salvation which regenerates me, and then puts me in such a position that I may fall out of the covenant and be lost; I cannot call that a bridge which only goes half-way over the stream; I cannot call that salvation, which does not carry me all the way to heaven, wash me perfectly clean, and put me among the glorified who sing constant hosannahs around the throne. By salvation, then if I may divide it into parts, I understand deliverance, preservation continually through life, sustentation, and the gathering up of the whole in the perfecting of the saints in the person of Jesus Christ at last.
1. By salvation, I understand deliverance from the house of bondage, wherein by nature I am born, and being brought out into the liberty wherewith Christ makes us free, together with a putting “on a rock, and establishing my goings.” This I understand to be wholly of God. And I think I am right in that conclusion, because I find in Scripture that man is dead; and how can a dead man assist in his own resurrection? I find that man is utterly depraved, and hates the divine change. How can a man, then, work that change which he himself hates? I find man to be ignorant of what it is to be born again, and like Nicodemus, asking the foolish question, “How can a man enter again into his mother’s womb, and be born?” I cannot conceive that a man can do that which he does not understand: and if he does not know what it is to be born again, he cannot make himself to be born again. No. I believe man to be utterly powerless in the first work of his salvation. He cannot break his chains, for they be not chains of iron, but chains of his own flesh and blood; he must first break his own heart before he can break the fetters that bind him. And how should man break his own heart? What hammer is that which I can use upon my own soul to break it, or what fire can I kindle which can dissolve it? Nay, deliverance is of God alone. The doctrine is affirmed continually to Scripture; and he who doth not believe it doth not receive affirmed continually in Scripture; and he who doth not believe it doth not receive God’s truth. Deliverance is of God alone; “Salvation is of the Lord.”
2. And if we are delivered and made alive in Christ, still preservation is of the Lord alone. If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful: if I have graces, God gives me graces; if I have fruits, God gives me fruits; if I hold on in a consistent life, God holds me on in a consistent life. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed an enemy, his strength nerved my arm. Did I strike a foeman to the ground? His strength sharpened my sword and gave me courage to strike the blow. Do I preach his word? It is not I, but grace that is in me? Do I live to God a holy life? It is not I, but Christ that liveth in me? Am I sanctified? I did not sanctify myself; God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. I find in God all I want; but I find in myself nothing. “He only is my rock and my salvation.”
3. And again: sustentation also is absolutely requisite. We need sustentation in providence for our bodies, and sustentation in grace for our souls. Providential mercies are wholly from the Lord. It is true that rain falls from heaven, and waters the earth, and “maketh it bring forth and bud, that there may be seed, for the sower, and bread for the eater;” but out of whose hand cometh the rain, and from whose fingers do the dew drops distil? It is true, the sun shines, and makes the plants grow, and bud, and bring forth the blossom, and his heat ripens the fruit upon the tree; but who gives the sun his light, and who scatters the genial heat from him? It is true, I work and toil; this brow sweats; these hands are weary; I cast myself upon my bed, and there I rest, but I do not “sacrifice to mine own drag,” nor do I ascribe my preservation to my own might. Who makes these sinews strong? who makes these lungs like iron, and who makes these nerves of steel? “God only is the rock of my salvation.” He only is the salvation of my body and the salvation of my soul. Do I feed on the word? That word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna, but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink. Am I continually receiving fresh increase of might? Where do I gather my might? My salvation is of him: without him I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I except I abide in him.
4. Then if we gather the three thoughts in one. The perfection we shall soon have, when we shall stand yonder, near God’s throne, will be wholly of the Lord. That bright crown which shall sparkle on our brow, like a constellation of brilliant stars, shall have been fashioned only by our God. I go to a land, but it is a land which the plough of earth hath never upturned, though it be greener than earth’s best pastures, and though it be richer than all her harvests ever saw. I go to a building of more gorgeous architecture than man hath builded; it is not of mortal architecture; it is “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”. All I shall know in heaven, will be given by the Lord; and I shall say, when at last I appear before him,—
“Grace all the work shall crown
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.”
II. And now, beloved, we come to THE GREAT EXPERIENCE. The greatest of all experience, I take it, is to know that “he only is our rock and our salvation.” We have been insisting upon a doctrine; but doctrine is nothing unless proved in our experience. Most of God’s doctrines are only to be learned by practice—by taking them out into the world, and letting them bear the wear and tear of life. If I ask any Christian in this place whether this doctrine is true, if he has had any deep experience, he will reply, “True! ay, that it is; not one word in God’s Bible is more true than that, for indeed salvation is of God alone.” “He only is my rock and my salvation.” But, beloved, it is very hard to have such an experimental knowledge of the doctrine that we never depart from it. It is very hard to believe that “salvation is of the Lord.” There are times when we put our confidence in something else but God, and sin by linking hand-in-hand with God—something besides him. Let me now dwell a little upon the experience which will bring us to know that salvation is of God alone.
The true Christian will confess that salvation is of God alone effectively; that is, that “he works in him to will and to do of his own pleasure.” Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun; but the sun did light me. I did not commence my spiritual life—no, I rather kicked and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when he drew me, for a time, I did not run after him: there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good. Wooings were lost upon me—warnings were cast to the wind—thunders were despised; and as for the whispers of his love, they were rejected as being less than nothing and vanity. But, sure I am, I can say now, speaking on behalf of myself, and of all who know the Lord, “He only is my salvation, and your salvation too.” It was he who turned your heart, and brought you down on your knees. You can say in very deed, then—
“Grace taught my soul to pray,
Grace made my eyes o’erflow.”
And coming to this moment, you can say,—
“‘Tis grace has kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.”
I remember, when I was coming to the Lord, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of him. One day when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the man’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, ”How did you come to be a Christian?” I sought the Lord. ”But how did you come to seek the Lord?” The thought flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek him. I am sure you will not be many weeks a Christian, certainly not many months, before you will say, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.” I desire to make this my constant confession. I know there are some who preach one gospel in the morning, and another at night—who preach a good sound gospel in the morning, because they are preaching to saints, but preach falsehood in the evening, because they are preaching to sinners. But there is no necessity to preach truth at one time and falsehood at another. “The word of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” There no need to put anything else in it, in order to bring sinners to the Saviour. But, my brothers, you must confess that “Salvation is of the Lord.” When you turn back to the past, you must say, “My Lord, whatever I have, thou gavest it me. Have I the wings of faith? I was a wingless creature once. Have I the eyes of faith? I was a blind creature once; I was dead, till thou madest me alive; blind, till thou openedst my eyes; my heart was a loathsome dunghill, but thou puttest pearls there, if pearls there be, for pearls are not the produce of dunghills; thou hast given me all I have;” And so, if you look at the present, if you experience be that of a child of God, you will trace all to him; not only all you have had in the past, but all you have now. Here you are, sitting in your pew this morning; now, I just want you to review where you stand. Beloved, do you think you would be where you are now if it were not for divine grace? Only think what a strong temptation you had yesterday, they did “consult to cast you down from your excellency;” perhaps you were served like I am sometimes. The devil sometimes seems to drag me right to the edge of a precipice of sin by a kind of enchantment, making me forget the danger by the sweetness which surrounds it; and just when he would push me down, I see the yawning gulph beneath me, and some strong hang put out, and I hear a voice saying, “I will preserve him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom.” Do you not feel, that ere this sun goes down you will be damned, if grace does not keep you? Have you anything good in your heart that grace did not give you? If I thought I had a grace that did not come from God, I would trample it beneath my feet, as not being a godly virtue; I would guess it to be but a counterfeit, for it could not be right if it did not come from the mint of glory. It may look ever so much like the right thing: but it is certainly bad unless it came from God. Christian! canst thou say, of all things past and present, “He only is my rock and my salvation?”
And now look forward to the future. Man! think how many enemies thou hast; how many rivers thou hast to cross, how many mountains to climb, how many dragons to fight, how many lions’ teeth to escape, how many fires to pass through, how many floods to wade. What thinkest thou, man? Can thy salvation be of anything except of God! Oh! if I had not that everlasting arm to lean upon, I would cry, “Death! hurl me anywhere; anywhere out of the world.” If I had not that one hope, that one trust, bury me ten thousand fathoms deep beneath creation, where my being might be forgotten! Oh! put me far away, for I am miserable if I have not God to help me all my journey through. Are you strong enough to fight with one of your enemies without your God? I trow not. A little silly maid may cast a Peter down, and cast you down too, if God do not keep you. I beseech you, remember this; I hope you know it by experience in the past; but try to remember it in the future, wherever you go, “Salvation is of the Lord.” Do not get looking at your heart, do not get examining to see whether you have anything to recommend you, but remember, “Salvation is of the Lord.” “He only is my rock and my salvation.”
Effectively, it all comes of God; and I am sure we must add, meritoriously. We have experienced that salvation is wholly of him. What merits have I? If I were to scrape together all I ever had, and then come to you and beg all you have got, I should not collect the value of a farthing among you all. We have heard of some Catholic, who said that there was a balance struck in his favour between his good works and his bad ones, and therefore he went to heaven. But there is nothing of the sort here; I have seen many people, many kinds of Christians, and many odd Christians, but I never yet met with one who said he had any merits of his own when he came to close quarters. We have heard of perfect men, and we have heard of men perfectly foolish, and we have thought the characters perfectly alike. Have we any merits of our own? I am sure we have not, if we have been taught of God. Once we thought we had; but there came a man called Conviction into our house one night, and took away our gloryings. Ah! we are vile still. I don’t know whether Cowper said quite right, when he said,—
“Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot,
And cut up all my follies by the root,
I never trusted in an arm but thine—
Nor hoped but in thy righteousness divine!”
I think he made a mistake, for most Christians get trusting in self at times, but we are forced to own that “salvation is of the Lord,” if we consider it meritoriously.
My dear friends, have you experienced this in your own hearts? Can you say “amen” to that, as it goes round? Can you say, “I know that God is my helper?” I dare say you can, most of you; but you will not say it so well as you will by-and-bye, if God teach you. We believe it, when we commence the Christian life; we know it afterwards; and the longer we live, the more we find it to be the truth—“Cursed is he that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm, but blessed is he who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” In fact, the crown of Christian experience is to be delivered from all trust in self or man, and to be brought to rely wholly and simply on Jesus Christ. I say, Christian, thy highest and noblest experience is not to be groaning about thy corruption, is not to be crying about thy wanderings, but is to say—
“With all my sin, and care, and woe,
His Spirit will not let me go.”
“Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” I like what Luther says: “I would run into Christ’s arms if he had a drawn sword in his hands.” Trust is called venturesome believing; but as an old divine says, there is no such thing as venturesome believing; we cannot venture on Christ; it is no venture at all; there is no hap-hazard in the least degree. It is a holy and heavenly experience, when we can go to Christ, amid the storm, and say, “Oh! Jesus, I believe I am covered by thy blood;” when we can feel ourselves to be all over rages, and yet can say, “Lord, I believe that through Christ Jesus, ragged though I am, I am fully absolved.” A saint’s faith is little faith when he believes as a saint; but a sinner’s faith is true faith when he believes as a sinner. The faith, not of a sinless being, but the faith of a sinful creature—that is the faith which delights God. Go, then, Christian: ask that this may be thy experience, to learn each day, “He only is my rock and my salvation.”
III. And now, in the third place, we speak of THE GREAT DUTY. We have had the great experience; now we must have the great duty.
The great duty is—if God only be our rock, and we know it, are we not bound to put all our trust in God, to give all our love to God? If God be all I have, sure, all I have shall be God’s. If God alone is my hope, sure, I will put all my hope upon God; if the love of God is alone that which saves, sure, he shall have my love alone. Come, let me talk to thee, Christian, for a little while, I want to warn thee not to have two Gods, two Christs, two friends, two husbands, two great Fathers; not to have two fountains, two rivers, two suns, or two heavens, but to have only one. I want to bid thee now, as God hath put all salvation in himself, to bring all thyself unto God. Come, let me talk to thee!
In the first place, Christian, never join anything with Christ. Wouldest thou stitch thy old rags into the new garment he giveth? Wouldest thou put new wine into old bottles? Wouldst thou put Christ and self together? Thou mightest as well yoke an elephant and an emmet; they could never plough together. What! wouldst thou put an archangel in the same harness with a worm, and hope that they would drag thee through the sky! How inconsistent! how foolish! What! thyself and Christ? Sure, Christ would smile; nay, Christ would weep, to think of such a thing! Christ and man together? CHRIST AND CO? No, it never shall be; he will have nothing of the sort; he must be all. Note how inconsistent it would be to put anything else with him; and note, again, how wrong it would be. Christ will never bear to have anything else places with him. He calls them adulterers and fornicators that love anything else but him; he will have thy whole heart to trust in him, thy whole soul to love him, and thy whole life to honor him. He will not come into thy house, till thou puttest all the keys at his girdle; he will not allow thee to give him all the keys but one; he will not come till thou givest him garret, parlour, drawing-room, and cellar too. He will make thee sing—
“Yet if I might make some reserve,
And duty did not call,
I love my God with zeal so great,
That I should give him all.”
Mark thee, Christian; it is a sin to keep anything from God.
Again, Christ is very grieved if you do it. Assuredly you do not desire to grieve him who shed his blood for you. Surely there is not one child of God here who would like to vex his blessed elder Brother. There cannot be one soul redeemed by blood who would like to see those sweet blessed eyes of our best beloved bedewed with tears. I know ye will not grieve your Lord; will ye? But I tell you ye will vex his noble spirit if ye love aught but him; for he is so fond of you, that he is jealous of your love. It is said, concerning his Father, that he is “a jealous God,” and he is a jealous Christ you have to deal with; therefore, put not your trust in chariots, stay not yourselves in horses, but say, “He only is my rock and my salvation.”
I beg thee, mark also, one reason why thou shouldest not look at anything else; and that is, if thou lookest at anything else thou canst not see Christ so well. “Oh!” thou sayest, “I can see Christ in his mercies;” but thou canst not see him so well there, as if you viewed his person. No man can look at two objects at the same time, and see both distinctly. You may afford a wink for the world, and a wink for Christ; but you cannot give Christ a whole look and a whole eye, and the world half an eye too. I beseech thee, Christian, do not try it. If thou lookest on the world, it will be a speck in thine eye; if thou trustest in anything but him, betwixt two stools thou wilt come to the ground, and a fearful fall wilt thou have. Therefore, Christian, look thou only on him. “He only is my rock and my salvation.”
Mark thee, again, Christian, I would bid thee never put anything else with Christ; for as sure as ever thou dost, thou wilt have the whip for it. There never was a child of God who harboured one of the Lord’s traitors in his heart, but he always had a charge laid against him. God has sent out a search warrant against all of us; and do you know what he has told his officers to search for? He has told them to search for all our lovers, all our treasures, and all our helpers. God cares less about our sins as sins, than he does about our sins, or even our virtues, as usurpers of his throne. I tell thee, there is nothing in the world thou settest thy heart upon that shall not be hung upon a gallows higher than Haman’s. If thou lovest anything but Christ, he will make it to do penance; if thou lovest thy house better than Christ, he will make it a prison to thee; if thou lovest thy child better than Christ, he will make it an adder in thy breast to sting thee; if thou lovest thy daily provisions better than Christ, he will make thy drink bitter and thy food like gravel stones in thy mouth, till thou comest to live wholly on him. There is nothing which thou hast, which he cannot turn into a rod, if thou lovest it better than him; and rest assured he will do so, if thou makest it anything to rob thy Christ.
And, mark thee, once again, if thou lookest at anything save God, thou wilt soon go into sin. If the mariner will steer by the pole-star he shall go to the north; but if he steers sometimes by the pole-star and sometimes by another constellation, he knoweth not where he shall go. If thou dost not keep thine eye wholly on Christ, thou wilt soon be wrong. If thou ever dost give up the secret of thy strength, namely, thy trust I Christ; if thou ever dalliest with the Delilah of the world, and lovest thyself more than Christ, the Philistines will be upon thee, and shear thy locks, and take thee out to grind at the mill, till thy God give thee deliverance by means of thy hair growing once more, and bringing thee to trust wholly in the Saviour. Keep thine eye, then, fixed on Jesus; for if thou dost turn away from him, how ill wilt thou fare! I bid thee, Christian, beware of thy graces; beware of thy virtues; beware of thy experience; beware of thy prayers; beware of thy hope; beware of thy humility. There is not one of thy graces which may not damn thee, if they are left alone to themselves. Old Brooks saith, when a woman hath a husband, and that husband giveth unto her some choice rings, she putteth them on her fingers; and if she should be so foolish as to love the rings better than her husband; if she should care only for the jewels, and forget him who gave them; how angry would the husband be, and how foolish she would be herself! Christian! I warn thee, beware of thy graces; for they may prove more dangerous to thee than thy sins. I warn thee of everything in this world; for everything has this tendency, especially a high estate. If we have a comfortable maintenance, we are most likely not to look so much to God. Ah! Christian, with an independent fortune, take care of thy money; beware of thy gold and silver; it will curse thee if it comes between thee and thy God. Always keep thine eye to the cloud, and not to the rain,—to the river, and not to the ship that floateth on its bosom. Look thee not to the sunbeam, but to the sun; trace thy mercies to God, and say perpetually, “He only is my rock and my salvation.”
Lastly, I bid thee once more to keep thine eye wholly on God, and on nothing in thyself, because what art thou now, and what wast thou ever, but a poor damned sinner if thou wert out of Christ! I had been preaching the other day all the former part of the sermon, as a minister; presently I thought I was a poor sinner, and then, how differently I began to speak! The best sermons I ever preach are those I preach, not in my ministerial capacity, but as a poor sinner preaching to sinners. I find there is nothing like a minister recollecting that he is nothing but a poor sinner, after all. It is said of the peacock, that, although he has fine feathers, he is ashamed of his black feet: I am sure that we ought to be ashamed of ours. However gay our feathers may appear at times, we ought to think of what we should be if grace did not help us. Oh! Christian, keep thine eye on Christ, for out of him thou art no better than the damned in hell; there is not a demon in the pit but might put thee to the blush, if thou art out of Christ. Oh that thou wouldest be humble! Recollect what an evil heart thou hast within thee, even when grace is there. Thou hast grace—God loves thee; but recollect, thou hast a foul cancer in thy heart still. God has removed much of thy sin, but still the corruption remains. We feel that though the old man is somewhat choked, and the fire somewhat damped by the sweet waters of the Holy Spirit’s influence, yet it would blaze up worse than before, if God did not keep it under. Let us not glory in ourselves, then. The slave need not be proud of his descent: he has the brand-mark upon his hand. Out upon pride! Away with it! Let us rest wholly and solely upon Jesus Christ.
Now, just one word to the ungodly—you who do not know Christ. You have heard what I have told you, that salvation is of Christ alone. Is not that a good doctrine for you? For you have not got anything, have you? You are a poor, lost, ruined sinner. Hear this, then, sinner: thou hast nothing, and thou dost not want anything, for Christ has all. “Oh!” sayest thou, “I am a bond slave.” Ah! but he has got the redemption. “Nay,” sayest thou, “I am a black sinner.” Yes, but he has got the bath that can wash thee white. Sayest thou, “I am leprous?” Yes, but the good Physician can take thy leprosy away. Sayest thou, “I am condemned?” Ay, but he has got the acquittal warrant signed and sealed, if thou dost believe in him. Sayest thou, “But I am dead?” Ay, but Christ has life, and he can give thee life. Thou wantest nothing of thine own—nothing to rely on but Christ; and if there be a man, woman or child here, who is prepared to say solemnly after me, with his or her heart, “I take Christ to be my Saviour, with no powers and no merits of my own to trust in; I see my sins, but I see that Christ is higher than my sins; I see my guilt, but I believe that Christ is mightier than my guilt;”—I say, if any one of you can say that, you may go away and rejoice, for you are heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
I must tell you a singular story, which was related at our church meeting, because there may be some very poor people here who may understand the way of salvation by it. One of the friends had been to see a person who was about to join the church; and he said to him, “Can you tell me what you would say to a poor sinner who came to ask you the way of salvation?” “well,” said he, “I do not know—I think I can hardly tell you; but it so happened that a case of this sort did occur yesterday. A poor woman came into my shop, and I told her the way; but it was in such a homely manner that I don’t like to tell you.” “Oh, yes, tell me; I should like to hear it,” Well, she is a poor woman, who is always pawning her things, and by-and-bye she redeems them again. I did not know how to tell her better than this. I said to her:—’Look here; your soul is in pawn to the devil; Christ has paid the redemption money; you take faith for your ticket, and so you will get your soul out of pawn.’” Now, that was the most simple, but the most excellent way of imparting a knowledge of salvation to this woman. It is true our souls were pawned to Almighty vengeance; we were poor, and could not pay the redemption money; but Christ came and paid it all, and faith is the ticket which we use to get our souls out of pawn. We need not take a single penny with us; we have only to say, “Here, Lord, I believe in Jesus Christ. I have brought no money to pay for my soul, for there is the ticket; the money has been paid long ago. This is written in thy word: ‘The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.’” If thou takest that ticket, thou wilt get thy soul out of pawn; and thou wilt say, “I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven, I’m a miracle of grace.” May God bless you, my friends, for Christ’s sake.
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