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A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JULY 16, 1876,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down, also, to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole: arise, and make your bed. And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt in Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord." Acts 9:32-35.
Upon the occasion of the regular hearers vacating their seats to allow strangers to fill the house.
I MAY not hope that I shall see you all again, and so, as I have the opportunity of only preaching one sermon to you, I must make it as full as I can of the essence of the Gospel, from beginning to end. We have heard of a chaplain who preached in a jail, who selected a subject which he divided into two heads. The first part was the sinner's disease. This he took for his topic on one Sabbath and closed the sermon by saying that he would preach upon the sinner's remedy upon the following Sunday. Now, there were several of the prisoners hanged on Monday, according to the custom of the bad old times, so that they did not hear that part of the discourse which it was most necessary for them to hear.
It would have been well to have told out the great news of salvation at once to men so near their end. And I think that in every sermon, if the preacher confines himself to one subject, and leaves out essential Gospel Truths under the notion that he will preach salvation by Jesus another day, he is very unwise, for some of his congregation may be dead and gone—alas, some of them lost—before he will have the opportunity of coming to the grand and all-important point, namely, the way of salvation!
By the Grace of God we will not fall into that evil tonight! We will try to shoot at the very center of our target and preach the plan of salvation as completely as we can. And may God grant that His blessing may rest on it, the Holy Spirit working with it. I shall only preach this one sermon to some of you. You will, therefore, have the greater patience with me as I shall not inflict myself upon you again. But, if we are to have only one communication with each other, let us come to real practical business and waste no time. A good deal of sermon-hearing is mere trifling—let us come to matter-of-fact preaching and hearing at this time!
I am afraid that some sermon preaching is playing, too—fine words and oratorical fireworks—but no agony for souls. We mean business tonight! My heart will not be satisfied unless many of you who came in here without Christ shall go down those steps saved by His atoning blood! Bitter will be my disappointment if many do not lay hold of Jesus and realize in their own souls, Peter's words, "Jesus Christ makes you whole." I have faith in the great Physician that many of you will go away whole tonight though you were sin-sick when you came into this House of Prayer. Much supplication has gone up to Heaven for this and the Lord hears prayer—therefore do I reckon that miracles of healing will surely be worked in this house on this occasion!
To the point, then! Peter came to Lydda and found one who bore the classic name of Aeneas. He was no mighty warrior, however, but a poor paralyzed man who had been confined to his bed for eight long years. Touched with a sight of the man's feebleness, Peter felt the impulse of the Spirit upon him and, looking at him as he lay there, he said, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole: arise, and make your bed." Touched by the same Spirit who inspired the Apostle, the man believed the message—believed that Christ had healed him—at once rose and made his bed and in an instant was perfectly restored!
Now let us hear something about this man. We are not to hear Virgil sing, "arms and the man," but we are to let Luke tell us of the man and his Savior.
I. In the first place, then, it is very clear that THE MAN WAS TRULY SICK. Had he not been really sick, the incident before us would have been all a fake—a feint and a pretence from beginning to end—but he was hopelessly infirm. He had been anxiously watched by his friends for eight years and was so completely palsied that during all those years he had not left his bed, which had grown hard as a stone beneath him. Now, as there is no room for a great cure unless there is a great sickness, so there is no room for God's great Grace unless there is great sin! Jesus Christ did not come into the world to save sham sinners, but real sinners—neither did He descend from Heaven to seek those who are not diseased with sin, for the whole have no need of a physician—but He has come to seek those who are deeply diseased and to give them real healing.
This man's sickness was no imaginary ill, for he could not move. His hands and feet were quite paralyzed. If in any limb there was a measure of motion, it was only a tremulous quiver, which rather indicated growing weakness than remaining force. He was bereaved of all strength. Are you such by nature, my Friend, in a spiritual sense? Certainly you are so—but have you found it out? Has the Spirit of God made you feel that you can do nothing aright apart from Him and that you are altogether ruined and palsied unless Jesus Christ saves you? If so, do not despair because you feel how terribly your soul is smitten!
But, on the contrary, say to yourself, "Here is room for mercy in me. If ever a soul needed healing, I do. Here is space for Divine power to operate in me, for if ever a soul was weak and palsied, I am just that soul." Be cheered with the hope that God will make your infirmity a platform upon which He will display His power! The man had been paralyzed eight years. The length of its endurance is a terrible element in a disease. Perhaps yours is no eight years' malady, but 28, or 38, or 48, or 78—perhaps 88 years you have been in bondage! Well, blessed be God, the number of years in which we have lived in sin cannot prevent the mercy of God in Christ Jesus from making us whole! You have a very long bill to discharge, while another friend has but a short one and owes comparatively little—but it is just as easy for the creditor to write, "paid," at the bottom of the large bill as the smaller one.
And now that our Lord Jesus Christ has made full Atonement, it is as easy for God to pardon the iniquities of 80 years as the sins of the child of eight. Be not despairing, then, Jesus Christ can make such as you are whole, even though your heart and your understanding have been long paralyzed with sin. The man's disease was one which was then reckoned to be, and probably is now, entirely incurable. Who can restore a palsied man? Aeneas could not restore himself and no merely human physician had skill to do anything for him. Dear Hearer, has the Spirit of God made you feel that your soul's wound is incurable? Is your heart sick? Is your understanding darkened? Do you feel your whole nature to have become paralyzed with sin and there is no physician?
Ah, I know there is none among men, for there is no balm in Gilead, there is no physician there! There never was, or else the daughter of my people would have been healed of her hurt long ago. There is no soul physician except at Calvary! No balm but in the Savior's wounds! If you feel that you are incurably soul-sick and the case is desperate unless Infinite Mercy shall interpose, then I am glad that you are here tonight. I am glad that there is such a one as Aeneas present! Do you know that the most delightful task in the world is to preach to those who consciously need the Savior? Mr. Whitfield used to say that he could wish to preach all day and all night long to those who really knew that they needed Christ.
We are bound to preach to everybody, for our Master said, "preach the Gospel to every creature" under Heaven. But, oh, when we can get at a knot of hungry souls, it is easy and pleasant work to feed them with the Bread of Heaven! And when hearts are thirsty, it is sweet work to hand out the Living Water, for they are all eager to take it! You know, the great difficulty is that you can bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink if he is not thirsty—and so you may set Jesus Christ before men, but if they do not feel their need of Him they will not have Him. You may preach in tones of thunder, or plead with accents of intense affection, but you cannot stir them to desire the Grace which is in Christ Jesus unless they feel their need of it.
Oh, I am happy tonight—thrice happy—if anywhere in this house there is an Aeneas who is sick and knows that he is sick! Who knows his disease to be incurable, laments that he is palsied and can do nothing and longs to be healed by Divine power, he is the man who will welcome the glad news of the Gospel of Free Grace! The man was really sick and so are you, my Hearer! Your sins are great, your sinfulness of nature is grievous and your case is beyond reach of human
II. In the second place, THIS MAN, AENEAS, KNEW SOMETHING ABOUT JESUS because, otherwise, when
Peter said, "Jesus Christ makes you whole," Aeneas might have earnestly enquired what he meant, and could not intelligently have acted upon what he could not comprehend. He could not have believed what Peter said because he would not have understood his meaning. Mere words, unless they appeal to the understanding, cannot be useful. They must convey light as well as sound, or they cannot breed faith. When Peter said, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole," I have no doubt that Aeneas remembered what he had heard about Jesus Christ and His wondrous life and death.
Now, lest there should be one in this congregation who does not know Jesus Christ, and does not understand how it is that He is able to heal sin-sick souls, let us briefly tell the old, old story over again. "Jesus Christ," translated into English, means, "Savior anointed." Who is He? He is the Son of the Highest, very God of very God! And when we were lost in sin, He who is called the Son of God, laid aside His most Divine array and came here to be dressed like ourselves in this poor flesh and blood! In the manger He lay as an infant, and on a woman's breast He hung a feeble Babe. The God who stretched forth the heavens like a tent to dwell in and dug the deep foundations of the earth, came down to earth to take upon Himself our nature and to be born of a woman!
Oh, matchless stoop of unbounded condescension that the Infinite should be an Infant and the Eternal God should conceal Himself within the form of a Babe! This marvel was performed that we might be saved! Being here, the Lord of angels lived some 30 years or so among men. He spent the earliest part of His life as a carpenter's son, obedient to His father and He was, throughout the whole of His earthly sojourn obedient to His Father, God. Inasmuch as we had no righteousness, for we had broken the Law, He was here to make a righteousness for us and He did so. But there was also needed an atonement, for we had sinned, and God's judgment demanded that there should be punishment for sin.
Jesus stepped in as the Surety and the Substitute for the guilty sons of men! He bared His back to the lash of Justice and opened His breast to her lance, and died that sinners might live! The Just for the unjust, He died that He might bring us to God—
"He bore, that we might never bear, His Father's righteous ire."
Now, when He had thus lived and died, they placed His body in the tomb, but He rose again on the third day and He is yet alive! And by this Man, Christ Jesus, who is risen from the dead, is preached unto the nations the remission of sins. For after 40 days this same Jesus, who had been dead and buried, rose into the heavens in the presence of His disciples, ascending till a cloud concealed Him from their sight. And He now sits at the right hand of God, even the Father, pleading, there, the merit of His blood, making intercession for sinners that they may be reconciled to God.
Now, Beloved, this is the story that we have to tell you, with the addition that this same Jesus is coming again to judge the quick and the dead, for He is Lord of all! He is, at this hour, the Mediator appointed by the infinitely glorious Jehovah, having power over all flesh that He may give eternal life to as many as Jehovah has given Him and this we beseech you to consider, lest when He comes as a Judge you should be condemned at His bar. Aeneas had heard, more or less, of these great facts. The story of the Incarnate God had come to his ears by some means or other, and Aeneas understood that though Jesus Christ was not in the room, and there was only Peter and a few friends there, and though Jesus Christ was not on earth, but was gone to Heaven, yet His power on earth was the same as ever it was.
He knew that Jesus could work miracles from Heaven as well as when He was here below. He understood that He who healed the palsy when He was here, could heal the palsy now that He has risen to His Throne. And so Aeneas believed in Jesus Christ from what he had heard, simply trusting in Him for healing. By means of that faith Aeneas was made whole! I will very earnestly dwell on that point for a second or two. I am persuaded that in this congregation all of you know the story of Jesus Christ Crucified. You have heard it on the Sabbath from the pulpit. Your children sing it when they come home from Sunday school.
You have a Bible in every house, and you read the "old, old story" in the plain but sublime language of our own noble version. But, oh, if you have heard it and know it, how is it that you have not drawn from it the same inference that this poor paralyzed man did? How is it that you have no faith? Jesus lives! He sits on Zion's hill! He still receives poor sinners! Jesus lives "exalted on high to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins." He can heal you, now, and save you, now, as well as if you met Him in the street, or saw Him standing at your door knocking for admittance. I would to God that this inference were drawn by you all!
III. We have got this far—the man was sick and the man knew something about Christ. And now came the most important point of all—THE MAN BELIEVED ON THE LORD JESUS. Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole." The man did not believe in Peter as the healer, for you notice Peter does not say anything about himself. Peter does not say, "As the head of the Church, I, by power delegated to me, make you whole." There is no allusion to any such claim! Peter preached too clear a Gospel for that! That is the purest Gospel which has the least of man in it and the most of Christ. I charge you, men and women, do not listen to that teaching which sets the priest in front of the Savior, or even by the side of the Savior, for it is false and ruinous!
Your forefathers, Englishmen—your forefathers bled and died that they might never submit to that vile superstition which is being now propagated by a considerable party in the Established Church of this once Protestant land! No man beneath the sky has more power to save your soul than you have yourself! And if any presumptuous priest tells you that he has, do not believe him, but despise his claims! An old woman asks me to cross her hand with a sixpence and says that she will tell my fortune. I am not such a fool! And if another person dressed in robes, which are not quite so becoming to him as a red cloak is to an old woman, tells me that he can regenerate my child, or forgive my sins, I treat him with the same contempt and pity as that with which I treat the wicked hag! I believe in neither the one imposter nor the other!
If ever you are saved you must be saved by Jesus Christ, alone, through your own personal belief in Him—certainly not by the intervention of any man, or set of men—hail they from whatever Church they will! May God send the Pope and the priesthood and all their detestable deceits down in this land, forever, and may His Christ be exalted! As this man had no faith in any supposed power coming from Peter, much less had he any faith in himself, neither did he look within himself for hope. He did not say to Peter, "But I do not feel strength enough to get well." Neither did he say, "I think I feel power enough to shake off this palsy."
He said neither the one nor the other! Peter's message took him off from himself. It was, "Aeneas, JESUS CHRIST makes you whole! It is not that you have stamina in your constitution and rallying points about your bodily system. No, Aeneas, you are paralyzed. You can do nothing. But Jesus Christ makes you whole." That was what the man had to believe and it is very much what you, also, my dear Hearer, must believe. With his faith Aeneas had the desires which showed that it was not mere speculation, but solid practical believing. He anxiously wished to be made whole. Oh, that sinners anxiously wished to be saved! Oh, that yonder angry man wished to be cured of his bad temper! Oh, that yonder covetous man wished to be cured of his avarice! Oh, that yonder lustful man wished to be cured of his uncleanness! Oh, that yon drunk wished to be cured of his excess! Oh, that men really wanted to get rid of their sins!
But no. I never heard of men reckoning a cancer to be a jewel, but there are many men who look upon their sins as if they were gems which they keep as hidden treasures so that they will sooner lose Heaven than part with their lustful pleasures! Aeneas wanted to be made whole and was ready to believe, when Peter spoke to him about Jesus Christ. And what did Aeneas believe? He believed—and may you believe the same!—first, that Jesus could heal him, could heal him, Aeneas. John Brown, do you believe that Jesus Christ can cure you? I do not care, John, what your faith is about your wife's case—it is about yourself that you need faith! Jesus Christ is able to save you—you, Aeneas. You, John Brown. You, Thomas. You, Sarah. You, Mary. He is able to save YOU. Can you grip that, and reply, "Yes, He is able to save ME"?
And Aeneas believed that Jesus Christ was able to save him then and there, just as he was. He had not taken a course in medicine. He had not been under hypnotism to strengthen his nerves and sinews and prepare him to be cured, but he believed that Jesus Christ could save him without any preparation, just as he was, then! Immediately with a present salvation! When you think what Christ is and what He has done, it ought not to be difficult to believe this. But truly, God's power must be revealed before your soul will believe this unto salvation. Yet it is true that Jesus Christ can heal and can heal at once. Whatever the sin is, he can cure it.
I mentioned a whole set of sins just now. The scarlet fever of pride, the loathsome leprosy of lust, the shivering ague of unbelief, the paralysis of avarice—He can heal all with a word, instantaneously, forever, completely, right now! Yes, Sinner, He can heal you NOW. Aeneas believed that. He believed and, as he believed, Jesus made him whole! Oh, I wish I could, tonight so preach the Gospel that my Lord and Master would lead many unbelievers to believe in Him! O Holy Spirit, work with the Word! Sinner, do you need forgiveness? Christ has worked it out! Every sin that you have done
shall be forgiven you for His name's sake if you trust Jesus to do it. Do you see your sins like a great army pursuing you? Do you think they will swallow you up? Jesus Christ, if you believe in Him, will make an end of them all!
You have read in Exodus how Pharaoh and his hosts pursued the tribes of Israel and the people were terribly alarmed. But early in the morning they were no more afraid, for Miriam took her timbrel and the daughters of Israel went forth with her in dance and they sang, "Sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider has He thrown into the sea." One of the most magnificent notes in that marvelous song was this. "The depths have covered them: there is not one of them left." The damsels took up the refrain, and sang, "Not one, not one, not one! The depths have covered them: there is not one of them left."
Now, if you believe in Jesus, the whole army of your sins shall sink beneath the sea of His blood and your soul shall sing, "The depths have covered them: there is not one of them left!" Such shall be your song tonight, if you are enabled to believe in Jesus Christ, God's crucified Son. But do not think that we preach about the pardon of past sins only, because if a man could get his past sins pardoned and go on as he did before, it would be so much the worse for him. Pardon of sin, without deliverance from its power, would be rather a curse than a blessing! But wherever sin is pardoned, God breaks the neck of its power in the soul.
Mind you, we do not tell you that Jesus Christ will forgive the past and then leave you to live the same life as be-fore—but we tell you this—whatever the sin is that is now a disease to you, Jesus Christ can heal you of it! He can save you from the habit and power of evil doing and thinking. I will not attempt to go into details. There are people coming into the tabernacle on ordinary occasions and so I dare say there may be tonight. How often has there come in a man to whom I might say, "Put out your tongue, Sir. Ah, I see red spots, and black spots, for you are a liar and a swearer." Can my Master heal such a diseased tongue as that? Yes, trust Him tonight and He will make you truthful and purge you from your profanity!
But here is another I dare not describe. Look at him! He has lived an unchaste life and strong are his passions! He says, "Can I ever be recovered from my vile desires?" Oh, Sir, my Lord can lay His hand on that hot heart of yours and cool it down to a sweet sobriety of chastity! And you, fallen woman, do not think that you are beyond His powers! He shows Himself mighty to save such as "the woman that was a sinner." Ah, if you are a slave to vile sins, Jesus can give perfect freedom from vicious habits. You, young man, there, you know that you have fallen into many sins which you dare not mention—they coil about your heart and poison your life like serpents writhing within your conscience.
My Lord can take them all out of the soul and deliver you from the results of their fiery venom. Yes, He can make you into a new creature and cause you to be born-again! He can make you love the things which you once hated and hate the things which you once loved! He can turn the current of your thoughts in quite another way. You see Niagara leaping down its awful height and you say, "Who can stop this?" Yes, indeed, who can stop it? My Master can! If He speaks to the Niagara of your lusts and says, "Cease your raging!" they will cease at once! Yes, if He bids the waters of desire leap up instead of down, you shall be as full of love to Christ as once you were full of love to sin!
He made the sun to stand still and caused the moon to pause upon the hill of Gibeah and He can do all things. Spoke He not the world out of nothing? And can He not create new hearts and right spirits in the souls of men who have been far off from Him by wicked works? He can do so and, blessed be His name, He will! The world of your mind is as much beneath His control as that of matter. If you believe, O man, to you I may say as Peter did to Aeneas, "Jesus Christ makes you whole."
IV. Well, now, let us pass on to notice, next, that the MAN WAS MADE WHOLE. There was no counterfeit about it. He was made whole and made whole then and there! Just fancy, for a minute, what would have been the result if he had not been made whole. What dishonor it would have been to Peter! Peter said, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole"— but there lies Aeneas as palsied as before! Everybody would say, "Peter is a false witness." Well now, I will not say that the preacher of the Gospel must see souls saved or else he is a false witness. I will not say that, but I will say that if ever my ministry, under God, does not save souls, I will give it up! For it seems to me that if we do not bring souls to Christ we preachers are just good for nothing.
What are we, if we do not turn many to righteousness? We are reapers who never reap, soldiers who never win a battle, fishermen who take no fish and lights which enlighten no one! These are sad but true comparisons. Do I address any unsuccessful minister? I would not speak harshly to him, but I would speak very severely to myself if I were in his case. I
remember the dream of a minister. He thought that he was in Hell and, being there, he was dreadfully distressed and cried out, "Is this the place where I am to be forever? I am a minister." A grim voice replied, "No, it is lower down for unfaithful ministers, much lower down than this." And then he awoke. Ah, and if we do not agonize till souls are brought to Christ, we shall have to agonize to all eternity!
I am persuaded of it—we must have men saved, or else we shall be like Peter would have been if he had said, "Jesus Christ makes you whole," and the man had not been made whole—we shall be dishonored witnesses. What dishonor would have been brought upon the name of Jesus if the man had not been made whole! Suppose, my dear fellow Sinner, you were to believe in Jesus Christ and yet were not saved—what then? Oh, I do not like to suppose it, for it is almost a blasphemy to imagine it! But yet, consider it for a moment. Believe in Jesus and not be saved? Then He has broken His word, or lost His power to save, either of which we are unwilling to tolerate for a minute! If you believe in Jesus Christ, as surely as you live, Jesus Christ has saved you!
I will tell you one thing—if you believe in Jesus Christ and you are damned, I will be damned with you! Come! I will risk my soul on that as surely as you will risk yours, for if the Lord Jesus Christ ever loses a soul that trusts Him, He will lose mine! But He never will, He never can—
"His honor is engaged to save
The meanest of His sheep.
All that His heavenly Father ga ve,
His hands securely keep."
Rest in Him and you shall be saved, else were His name dishonored! And suppose that, like Aeneas, you trusted Christ— if you were not saved, what then? Why, then the Gospel would not be true! Shut up those Churches, close those Chapels, banish those ministers, burn those Bibles—there is no truth in any of them if a soul can believe in Jesus and yet not be saved!
The Gospel is a lie and a counterfeit, if it is true that any poor sinner can put his trust in Jesus and not be healed of his sins, for thus said the Lord of old, "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out." This is His last word to His Church, "Go you into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature: he that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that believes not shall be damned." If men believing are not saved from the power of sin, then the Gospel is not true and we are sent on a fool's errand! But they are saved, blessed be the name of God, and the Gospel is the Truth of God itself!
Oh, my dear Hearer, gladly would I urge you to put your trust in Jesus Christ tonight, by the experience which I and other Believers have enjoyed. Some of us have relied on the name of the Redeemer and He has saved us. We shall never forget the day, some of us, when we left off self-righteousness and believed in Christ to the salvation of our souls. The marvel was done in a minute, but the change was so great that we can never explain it, or cease to bless the Lord for it—
"Happy day! Happy day! When Jesus washed my sins a way." I remember the morning when salvation came to me as I sat in a little Primitive Methodist chapel under the gallery and the preacher said, "That young man looks unhappy." He added, "Young man, you will never find peace except you look to Christ!" And he called out to me, "Look!" With a voice of thunder he shouted, "Young man, look! Look now!"
I did look, I turned the eye of faith to Jesus at once! My burden disappeared and my soul was merry as a bird let loose from her cage, even as it is now as often as I remember the blessed salvation of Jesus Christ! We speak what we know. Ours is no hearsay or second-hand testimony. We speak what we have felt and tasted and handled, and our anxiety is that you may know and feel the same! Remember, my dear Hearer, that the way to use the Gospel is to put it to yourselves like this. What is your name? I said, "John Brown," just now, did I not? Suppose it is John Brown, then. Well, the Gospel says, "He that believes on the Lord Jesus Christ has everlasting life."
Then it means, "If John Brown believes on Jesus he has everlasting life." "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." "Then I, John Brown, believing and being baptized, shall be saved." Lay hold of it in that way. Perhaps you say, "But may I put my name to a promise and appropriate it in that fashion?" Yes, you may, because there is nothing in the Bible to say that your name was left out from the list of those to whom the promise is made! If I were a beggar in the streets and were very hungry and I heard that there was a gentleman who was giving a good meal away and that he had advertised that any beggar might come, I do not think I should say, "Well, my name is not down on his list." I should go
immediately unless I found that he inserted an excluding clause, "Charles Spurgeon shall not have any of the food I distribute," but not till then.
Until I read in black and white that he excluded me I should run the risk and get in with the other hungry folk. Until he shuts me out, I would go. It should be his deed and not mine that kept me from the feast. Sometimes you say, "But I am not fit to go to Christ." The fittest way to go to Christ is to go just as you are! What is the best clothes to wear when you go begging? I remember a long time ago, when I lived not far from here, in the extremeness of my greenness, I gave a man who begged at the door a pair of patent leather boots. He put them on and expressed great gratitude. But I met him afterwards, and I was not at all surprised to find that he had pulled them off. They were not at all the style of things to go about begging in.
People would look at him and say, "What? You needing shoes while wearing those handsome boots? Your tale won't do." A beggar succeeds a deal better barefoot than in fine shoes! Rags are the dress of beggars! When you go and beg for mercy at the hand of God, do not put on those pretty righteousnesses of yours, but go with all your sin and misery, and emptiness and wretchedness, and say, "Lord, here I am. You have said that Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto You by Him. I am a soul that needs saving to the uttermost and here I am. I have come. Lord, save me."
Now, summing all up. This is what you have to do, Sinner, in order to be saved tonight. Simply believe in Jesus Christ. I saw a young woman from America in the vestry some little time ago who came in great concern of soul to know the way of salvation. And I said to her, "Can't you see it? If you trust Christ, you are saved." I quoted the Scriptures which teach this great Truth of God and made them plain to her, until the Holy Spirit opened her eyes! Light came on her face in a moment and she said, "I do see it! I trust Christ with all my heart! And I am to believe that I am saved because I trust Jesus and He has promised to save Believers?" "Yes," I replied, "you are getting on the Rock, now."
"I feel," she said, "a deep peace beginning in my soul, but I cannot understand how it can be, for my grandfather belonged to the old school Presbyterians and he told me he was six years before he could get peace. He had to be put into a lunatic asylum, for he was so miserable." Ah, yes, I have no doubt such cases have happened. Some will go 17,000 miles round about merely to go across a street, but there is no need for it. There it is—"The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart. If with your heart you will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and with your mouth make confession of Him, you shall be saved."
There is nothing to be done, there is nothing to be felt! There is nothing to be brought. No preparation is needed. Come just as you are and trust Christ to save you and this night you shall be saved! God's honor and Christ's Word are pledged to it!
V. This is the last thing. WHEN AENEAS WAS HEALED HE ACTED IN CONFORMITY THEREWITH. "Peter
said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole: arise, and make your bed." He did so. He rose directly and made his bed. Now, if any of you say, tonight, "I have believed in Jesus," remember you are bound to prove it. How prove it? Why, if you have believed in Jesus, you are made whole and you are to go home and show people how whole you are. This man was palsied and had been lying there prostrate eight years. He could never make his bed, but he proved he was healed by making his bed for himself!
Perhaps there is a man here who, when he has entered his house, has generally opened the door with an oath. If there is such a person here, and Christ saves you—He will wash your mouth out for you. You will have done with profane language forever! Your wife will be surprised, when you go home, to hear how differently you talk. Perhaps you have been used to mix with rough companions in your work and you have talked as they have done. If Jesus Christ has made you whole, there is an end to all filthy speaking. Now you will talk graciously, sweetly, cleanly, profitably. In years gone by you were angry and passionate. If Jesus Christ has made you whole, you will be as tender as a lamb. You will find the old lion lifting his head and giving an occasional roar and a shake of his mane, but then he will be chained by the restraints of Grace, while the meek and gentle lamb of the new nature will feed in pastures wide and green!
Ah, if the Lord has saved you, the drunk's ale bench will have no more of you, for you will need better company than the seats of scoffers can afford you. If the Lord saves you, you will want to do something for Him, to show your grateful love. I know this very night you will long to tell your children and tell your friends, that Jesus Christ has made you whole. John Bunyan says that when he was made whole, he wanted to tell the crows on the plowed land about it. I do not
wonder that he did. Tell anybody, tell everybody, "Jesus Christ has saved me." It is a sensation, the like of which no man can imagine, if he has not felt it, to be made a new creature right away, in a moment!
That surprises all who see it and as people like to tell news—strange news—so does a new-born man long to go and tell others, "I have been born-again—I have found the Savior!" Now, mark, you will have to prove that this is so by an honest, upright, consistent, holy life—not, however, by being merely sternly honest. If Christ has saved you, He will save you from being selfish. You will love your fellow men. You will desire to do them good. You will endeavor to help the poor. You will try to instruct the ignorant. He who truly becomes a Christian becomes, in that very day, a practical philanthropist. No man is a true Christian who is not Christ-like—who can live for himself alone, to hoard money or to make himself great. The true Christian lives for others. In a word, he lives for Christ. If Christ has healed you, gentle compassion will saturate your soul from this time forth and forever! O Master, You who did heal men's bodies in the days of Your flesh, heal men's hearts tonight, we pray You!
Still this word more. Somebody says, "Oh, I wish I had Christ!" Soul, why not have Him at once? "Oh, but I am not fit." You never will be fit! You cannot be fit, except in the sense in which you are fit even now. What is fitness for washing? Why, being dirty! What is fitness for alms? Why, being in distress! What is fitness for a doctor? Why, being ill! This is all the fitness that a man needs for trusting in Christ to save him! Christ's mercy is to be had for nothing! Bribe or purchase is out of the question!
I have heard of a woman whose child was in a fever and needed grapes. There was a prince who lived near, in whose hothouse there were some of the rarest grapes that had ever been grown. She scraped together the little money she could earn and went to the gardener and offered to buy a bunch of the royal fruit. Of course he repulsed her and said they were not to be sold. Did she imagine that the prince grew grapes to sell like a market gardener? And he sent her on her way, much grieved. She came again. She came several times, for a mother's importunity is great. But no offer of hers would be accepted.
At last the princess heard of it and wished to see the woman. And when she came, the princess said, "The prince does not sell the fruit of his garden," but, snipping off a bunch of grapes and dropping them into a little bag, she said, "He is always ready to give it away to the poor." Now, here is the rich cluster of Gospel salvation from the true Vine! My Lord will not sell it, but He is always ready to give it away to all who humbly ask for it! If you want it, come and take it and take it now by believing in Jesus! The Lord bless you for Christ's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—Isaiah 55. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"—100 (VER. I); 982, 992.
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