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The Curse and the Curse for Us
DELIVERED ON LORD'S DAY MORNING, MAY 26, 1889,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse; for itis written, Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them. But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith. Yet the law is not of faith, but, the man who does them shall live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for itis written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:10-14.
THE Apostle tells us, in the eighth verse, that the Gospel was preached to Abraham. Very briefly, very tersely but very fully was the Gospel proclaimed to him in those words, "In you shall all families of the earth be blessed." The true Gospel is no new thing, it is as old as the hills. It was heard in Eden, before man was driven from the garden and it has since been repeated in sundry ways and in many places, even to this day. Oh, that its very antiquity would lead men to venerate it and then to listen to its voice! It is "Gospel," or good news—the best of news for fallen men. Oh, that they would receive it with gladness!
The Gospel blessing which was thus preached to Abraham and to his seed, came to him by faith. He was justified by his faith, as it is written, "Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness." The blessing, which is the soul of Abraham's Gospel, must come to us in the same way as it did to him, namely, by faith. And if we expect to find it in any other way, we shall be grievously mistaken. There were some in Paul's day who were "of the works of the Law," and expected to obtain the blessing through their own doings. But they could not find it. We have many around us who are practically looking for Gospel blessings upon legal principles.
The object of our sermon is to show them their certainty of failure. And, at the same time, to make clear that way of faith by which the curse is rolled away and the blessing comes to the chosen seed.
To begin with—our first head is this—Blessedness comes not to those who are of the works of the Law. And the second head will be, Blessedness comes to those who are of faith. We shall need no other divisions but we shall greatly need the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit that by His Grace these may be plainly and powerfully set forth before our minds. I want so to speak that you shall go with me, not in hearing only, but in feeling and in believing, practically taking home and feeling the power of the Truth of God.
When a minister is studying a sermon, his best preparation comes through his feeling, himself, the power of his subject. He rehearses his discourse before the little audience of his own heart and conscience. And in observing the effect produced, he arrives at some idea of how the Word will operate upon others. He that has run the gauntlet of a Truth of God and felt all the heavy blows which it levels at his own conscience is likely to deliver that Truth to others with tender sympathy and full assurance. Such a preparation, I think, I have had—and I pray that you may be benefited by it.
I. Let us learn, at the outset, that BLESSEDNESS COMES NOT TO THOSE WHO ARE OF THE WORKS OF
First, observe the fact, as the Apostle states it very positively—"As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse." You cannot be under the curse and yet be partakers of the blessing. A man cannot be in darkness and in light at the same moment—he cannot be under the curse of the Law and under the blessing of the Gospel, too. All who are of the works of the Law are under the curse and consequently none of them are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Note well the persons spoken of—"As many as are of the works of the Law"—that is, all of you who hope, by the works of the Law, to commend yourselves to God. We are all "of the works of the Law" by nature, because it is our bounden duty, as creatures, to keep the Law of our Creator. He is our Benefactor, our King, our Lord and God, and He has claims upon us which we ought not to disown. He has set forth those claims in the Law of the Ten Commandments and these are binding upon all of us, without exception. Because we have disobeyed that Law and denied to God His just claims, our violation of the Law has brought us under its penalty, which is described as "the curse."
No man has always kept all the Law and consequently every man that is of the works of the Law has come under the curse and must remain under it unless ransomed in the one appointed fashion. If you read those Ten Commandments through, as you should do very carefully, you will have to pause at each one and say, with solemn truthfulness, "I have broken this." Especially will this be the case if you remember the truth that the Law is spiritual and deals with thoughts, desires, imaginations, motives—yes, with your nature itself.
Surely you will have to cry, "Guilty! Guilty!" Every way and "guilty" every day. This being the case, you are under the curse. You may have been moral and outwardly commendable. But the heart and intent are what the Lord looks at. And because you have not loved the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength—and have not loved your neighbor as yourself—you have come short of the demands of His righteous Law and you are under the curse.
I beseech you to remember that this is a matter which concerns you now. "As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse." Not only shall you be so in the day when, "Depart, you cursed," will be the final and hopeless doom of the wicked. But today you are under the curse if you are of the works of the Law. If the unsaved could really understand and believe this, they would hardly keep their seats. If you are not by Christ redeemed from the curse of the Law. If you have not, by faith, appropriated His great sacrifice, you are under the present curse of God.
Even the Gospel does not bless you, for, "He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed on the Son of God." O my Hearer, I could weep to think that you are under the curse. A deathbed is a dreadful place to an unpardoned sinner. But I am not speaking of a deathbed—I am now talking of the seat where you sit in health and strength. If you are of the works of the Law, that seat now holds a man under the curse. I am not talking now of thieves and murderers and such like. I am speaking of as many as are of the works of the Law and especially of those who believe that they are keeping the Law and are looking for salvation by their obedience.
Those who think that they are not to be numbered with the guilty and need not to be saved by Divine Grace—these are of the works of the Law by their own choice—and they are under the curse. If you come before God in your own self-righteousness, you are, by that very act and deed, proven to be under the curse. The brand of Cain is not on your brow but the curse is working in your heart. As this city of London seemed last night and this morning to lie under a cloud charged with tempest, so does the man who looks to the Law for life abide under a cloud of wrath which may burst upon him at any moment. Oh, that the gloom and oppression of spirit which comes of that cloud of threat would pain you greatly and drive you to Christ for shelter!
That you may no longer abide in false security, I pray that you, for a few moments, weigh those words, "under the curse." I do not feel as if I could expand them or expound them. But I must simply repeat them—"UNDER THE CURSE!" The Lord make those words to pierce your souls! This is not my language, remember. It is not even the word of the Apostle Paul as a man. For he speaks by inspiration when he says, "As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse." How shall I pronounce these words with sufficient solemnity? When the sermon is printed, in what type shall the printer set up these words, "UNDER THE CURSE"?
"The curse causeless shall not come," but this is a curse with a cause of overwhelming conclusiveness. It is a curse that was pronounced of old by the authority of the Lord and confirmed by the Amens of assembled Israel. It is, in fact, the essence of all those curses which of old were declared on Mount Ebal, the rolling thunder of threatened wrath. "As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse," even as the Shorter Catechism puts it, "They have lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse and so are made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of Hell forever."
Dare you sleep tonight under the curse? Will you wake tomorrow and go forth to your business under the curse? Can you sport and laugh and frolic under the curse? God grant we may be sufficiently sensible to be filled with anguish at the sound of these dreadful words—"under the curse"!
The Apostle goes on to give a Scriptural confirmation of this fact. He says, "For it is written." He is writing a part of the New Testament under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But he turns back to the Old and gives authority to his writing by showing that it always was the mind of the Spirit, "for it is written." If anything is written by the pen of inspiration, it is true, and we accept it as infallible. I hope you are not among those who trifle with the inspiration of any part of Holy Writ. For if so, this text has no power with you. "It is written" is a thing of omnipotent authority with many of us.
"It is written, Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them." This is the summary of the whole passage in the twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy and also of the eleventh verse of the seventh chapter of that book.
Attend to each word of the passage quoted. There is no exemption of persons. "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things that are written in the book of the Law." Every offender comes under the curse. Is it the king, the priest, the nobleman?—he is under the curse. Or is it the poorest of the land—the slave, the beggar, the fallen woman?—sin brings them under the curse. Prince or pariah, it is all the same—if the Law is not perfectly continued in, the curse follows. The sentence is sweeping. There are no exceptions to its killing force. You may have kept the Law in many points but if you have broken it in one, you are under its curse.
If you want to send a message by the telegraphic wire, it may be perfectly sound for one hundred miles but if it is only broken in one inch, no, if it is simply cut across, you cannot send the message by it. No blessing can come to a man by the Law unless the Law has been perfectly kept. But one single infraction of the Law involves the curse. The possibility of blessing on the footing ofjustice is gone when sin enters in. Thus, every man of every rank and grade and external character, since he has not continued in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them, has come under the curse.
Observe that there is no limit of time. It says, "continues not." What if a man should have kept the Law, in his own judgment, for many years? His service is not over. Men join our army for a certain number of years and then they are discharged. But a man is under the Law so long as he lives—he cannot escape from under its yoke by the mere lapse of time. And so, if we had accomplished obedience for twenty years, yet still, if in the next year we broke the Law, we should come under its curse. A thief is not excused because he was up to now honest, nor a murderer because at some prior time he had not shed blood.
He that "continues not" comes under the lash. My conscience clearly sees the utter impossibility of my ever obtaining justification by the works of the Law. If, up till now, I had never sinned, which, alas, is very, very far from being the case, yet I should still stand in jeopardy every hour. For, being tempted, I should yet fall and perish if my footing were that of the Law. Even the just could not live by legal principles. Their only hope is to live by faith. As for us defiled and polluted sinners, we are, from the beginning, out of the running, if the race is by works—no lapse of time will enable us to start. And if we did start, no time would arrive when we could say, "It is finished."
A Methuselah would be under the Law in his nine hundredth year. Still might the curse fall on him, even though, up till then, he had stood firm. Thus says the Lord, "When the righteous turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall even die thereby." On that footing none of us could hope to remain free from the curse. But the case is worse—for if we are of the works of Law—we are already under the curse.
Observe that there is no indulgence as to certain sins. "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things." What a range these words have! Yet they do not so much concern ceremonial things as the moral conduct of daily life. If you will turn to Deuteronomy 27, from which Paul is quoting, you will find that the works which are mentioned in detail as bringing the curse, are not works of worship, oblation, and ritual—but of morality or immorality—works which concern the moral law. We must continue in the keeping of the Ten Commandments and abide in the spirit of them in "all things." Or, if not, it is utterly impossible that the Law can ever save us—all it can do is to put us under its curse.
Once more, here is no narrowing of the demand. It is put, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things that are written in the book of the Law to do them." If a man does nothing wrong, yet if he fails to do that which is right, he is guilty. Omission is as truly a defect as commission. He misses the mark who shoots beyond it or falls short of it. If you
make a single omission of duty on the footing of Law you are a lost man. If you have omitted, at any time, to love the Lord your God with the whole force and intensity of your nature, if you have omitted in any degree to love your neighbor as yourself, you have committed a breach of the Law.
Not to obey is to disobey. Who can plead innocence, if this is so? How cutting is the sentence, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them"! It is an awful passage! It seems to me to shut up the gate of hope by works—yes, to nail it up tight. I bless God it does fasten this door effectually. For if there seemed to be half a chance of getting through it, we should find men still struggling for entrance.
Salvation by self is man's darling hope—salvation by doings, feelings, or something or other of their own, is the favorite delusion of sinners. We may bless God that He has rolled a great stone at the mouth of the grave of legal hope. He has dashed in pieces as with a rod of iron the earthen vessel which held the treasures of our conceit. "By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
To complete this, the Apostle gives us a piece of what I must call side evidence. He has stated the fact and confirmed it by Scripture. He now gives side evidence from other Scriptures. Some might say, "There have been just men—men have been justified in the sight of God." Yes, says Paul, turning to one passage out of very many which he might have quoted from Holy Scripture, the Lord says by His servant Habakkuk, "The just shall live by faith." The only just men that ever have existed since the Fall have been justified by faith. And that their faith was of the essence of their justification is clear, since they lived by faith.
It is not said that the just shall rejoice by faith but they shall "live by faith." Their very existence as just men hung upon their faith. They had no life before God except as they believed and lived. The Apostle argues that since the just men of the Old Covenant were justified by faith, it is clear we cannot be justified by the Law. For the Law is not of faith, since the Law says nothing of believing but speaks only of doing. The Law speaks nothing of Divine Grace, nothing of mercy, but only of justice and merit.
If anything that may be called mercy is due to men, it is clearly not mercy but justice. For all that is due is of justice. The Law speaks not of believing, it speaks only of doing—"The man that does those things shall live in them." The one teaching of the Law is—"Obey and live. Disobey and die." Inasmuch as those who did live unto God lived by their faith, it is clear it was not by the works of the Law. Thus the Apostle argues, negatively and positively, showing how men were not justified and showing how they were justified. And thus he makes it plain as a pikestaff that by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God.
My dear Hearers, let us deal faithfully and personally with the solemn Truth of God now before us. I pray that everyone may examine himself to see whether he is of the works of the Law. Are we legal in our feelings? Are we relying upon self and its doings? Does anyone among us feel that there is not in London a more deserving person than himself? Because he is attends Church or Chapel regularly, does he think himself accepted of the Lord? Because of confirmation, or Baptism, or attendance of the sacrament, does he hope to be saved? Because of his decent and respectable life, does he reckon himself just?
If such is the hope of anyone of you, you are confessedly, "of the works of the Law," and it is not my word but the Word of the Lord, that you are under the curse. Think of this, you who are so very good, so free from fault! There is nothing else for you but the curse. You are not in the same way as those men who are mentioned in the Scriptures as justified. For they lived by faith and you hope to live by works. As you are not in the same way, neither will you come to the same end. It is a thought which vexes you and possibly even makes you angry—that you should be under the curse. But it will be well for you to know the truth, however black it looks. Nothing remains but a fearful judgment. For where there is even now a curse, what else can there be but fiery indignation at the last?
We will stay no longer upon this most searching Truth of God. Alas, I cannot bring it home to the conscience! It needs a miracle of Divine Grace to get this Truth into the heart of man and to make him feel the full terror of it. It is so repugnant to our proud human nature that we incline to any error which will obscure it. Come, Holy Spirit, with Your Divine light and flash this Truth of God upon the sinner's eyes in such a way that he must see it!
II. Secondly, THIS BLESSEDNESS COMES TO THOSE WHO ARE OF FAITH, even to those who look for salvation to the Lord Jesus, in whom God declares Himself to be just and the Justifier of him that believes.
On this point I shall run on much the same lines as under the first division of the subject. Here we have a blessed fact—"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law." If the former tog, that we are under the curse, should make us sit uneasily, this blessed doctrine should make us dance for joy! The ransom is paid. We are free! "Christ has redeemed us." That is, so many as believe in Him. He has "redeemed us from the curse of the Law." "He has bought us out from under the curse." Our deliverance from the curse is by a process similar to that by which slaves are set free, namely, by their being bought with a price.
We are not merely delivered from the curse by a moral change in us but by a redemptive work for us. Christ was slain and has redeemed us to God by His blood. A ransomed captive is by the ransom justly freed and has a right to his freedom which none may question. You that believe in Jesus are freed from the curse of the Law and justly freed from it. The Law cannot curse you, though you have broken it and in your own persons incurred its penalty. Since you are in Christ Jesus, the Law has not a word to say against you. The reason we will show you directly, but the fact is so, and therein you should rejoice. "He that believes in Him is not condemned."
So far from being condemned, the Believer is, "accepted in the Beloved," and this is our happy privilege at this hour. Let us rejoice in God and rest in peace, being justified by faith.
But then the Apostle goes on to show the manner of it. The fact is clear—oh, for a grip of it! The manner of our deliverance is this—"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us." I do not understand language at all, unless this means substitution. Christ was made a curse for us. That is to say, in our place He bore our sins and the curse which came of it. The curse of the Law, which otherwise must have fallen upon us, fell upon the Anointed of the Lord, who stood Sponsor for us.
Jesus was accursed of men. Oh, how they hated and loathed Him! How clamorously the Jews cried, "Away with Him! Crucify Him, crucify Him!" The curse of men might have been of small account, though it cost our Lord many a sorrow. But His Father hid His face from Him! Do you hear that bitterest of all bitter cries, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Here is the wormwood and the gall, the quintessence of woe. He was All-blessed, yet He was made a curse. In Him was no sin, yet, "He made Him to be sin for us." He was always in Himself the Beloved of the Father. But when He stood in the sinner's place, a voice was heard, "Awake, O sword, against My shepherd and against the man that is my Fellow, says the Lord."
"The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all," and then, "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He has put Him to grief." I do not like to use a word of my own, in trying to open up this mystery—I will not even try to explain it but will bid you look down into the depths of it for yourselves. He was "made a curse for us"—he was not such by nature. It needed a special arrangement to put Him in that condition. Not only did the curse pass over Him in its results but the word says, "He was made a curse." It is wonderfully expressive. And yet more wonderfully it veils the inexpressible.
"He was made a curse." O You Divine Son of God! You ever-blessed One, you perfect One! You altogether lovely One, how can such words apply to You? Yet they do apply, for the Holy Spirit speaks of You in this wise. Here is our hope and here our joy, even in this abyss of woe—"He was made a curse for us." The penal consequences of sin were so visited upon the great Substitute that He vindicated the Law of God in the highest conceivable manner. Remember those words—"Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree."
These are the echo of that Prophetic sentence—"The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." "He bore the sin of many." "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world." He bore our sins that He might bear them away by the fact of bearing them Himself. This is the central doctrine of the Gospel. And although today it is slighted, here I stand, by God's Grace, to declare it in plain terms while my tongue can move. I know no other hope for lost men but this—that the justice of God has been vindicated by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and it is by faith in Him that men are delivered from the curse of the Law, because He was made a curse for them.
The Apostle, speaking in this second part, as it were, in the same way as in the former portion, goes on to confirm this by Scripture. He says again, "For it is written." Beloved, that is the nail on which everything must hang—"It is written," "It is written." Never let us get away from, "It is written." May we hold fast to God's Word, if we give up everything else! "It is written, Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree." Read the twenty-third verse of the twenty-first chapter of Deuteronomy. The instructed in Jewish manners and customs tell us that the usual way of putting to death by
the Jews was by stoning and a person who committed murder was stoned to death usually and he was afterwards hanged upon a tree.
He was hanged up that men might see that he was taken from the earth and that the curse of God was upon him for his crime. The Law was that he should not remain on the tree after sundown and this Law saved the Jews from that barbarity which once defaced our own country—leaving the body of the hanged in chains year after year. God's Law stipulated a man who had committed murder was to hung up till the sun went down. And then he was buried and, if I remember rightly, they usually buried the tree and the nails and the garments of the criminal, that the memory of him might be put away and the land should not be polluted.
This being the case, it was remarkable that our Lord should die by a death which was evidently intended in the Divine decree to exhibit Him as made a curse. The felon's hanging, the mode of death for slaves, was adopted by the Roman governor, who knew nothing whatever of the Divine purpose but yet carried it out. By the mode of His death our Lord was exhibited as "made a curse for us."
Oh, look you to the Crucified! While the darkness gathers around us on this murky morning, let it remind you of the gloom which gathered around your Savior. Remember the hour when the concentrated essence of darkness and of eternal night gathered about His blessed Person while He hung exposed to death upon the tree. Darkness was the most fit surrounding for the agony which racked His soul. Our Lord endured within Him a darkness greater than that without Him.
The darkness seemed to say that His griefs could not be seen or understood of men. He suffered within the sacred chamber of an impenetrable midday midnight. None could see the heights and depths of what was meant by His being "made a curse"—
"There my God bore all my guilt
This through Divine Grace can be believed. But the horrors which He felt Are too vast to be conceived."
Notice, furthermore, the consequence of all this—"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ." Our Lord Jesus Christ was made a curse for us that He might deliver us from the curse of the Law, and that in consequence we might be blessed. The flood of blessing was ready to flow along its channel but the riverbed was blocked by a huge rock. The stream was dammed up by our iniquity. What was to be done? The hindrance could only be moved by that great Lord, whose hands were pierced and whose feet were nailed to the Cross. He, by His great self-sacrificing act of love, lifted the rock from its place, cast it away and enabled the stream of blessing to flow freely down to us.
This day there is no curse for the Believer. But every blessing awaits him. All who are in Christ, the great seed of Abraham, are blessed with faithful Abraham. The Covenant may be summed up in this one word—Blessing, blessing, blessing—blessing for the Believer and blessing through him. What was the blessing of Abraham? It was, first, justification. It was "accounted to him for righteousness." God counts them righteous who believe in Jesus. He not only absolves you from sin but He justifies you, accounts you as having kept the Law. Oh, rejoice in this and be glad!
The next blessing to Abraham was the promise. God had given him a great promise of a spiritual inheritance. To us the Holy Spirit is the earnest of that future inheritance—and Christ has so worked for us, "that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Wherever the Spirit of God dwells, the covenant is fulfilled—you have in the Spirit the foretaste of the promised rest, you have the initial stages of the promised perfection—you have the dawn of the promised glory. The Spirit is the earnest of the inheritance till the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His Glory.
Beloved, see what has come to you, then, through the substitutionary work of Christ! Justification is yours as truly as it was Abraham's, and you are as assuredly justified as Abraham was. The promise also comes to you even as it did to Abraham. For you are Abraham's seed in Christ and you are blessed with faithful Abraham. You may rejoice, therefore, with joy unspeakable and full of glory. All this, you observe, is by faith—"That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
O dear Hearers, I am very sorry for some of you—for you have no faith and therefore no Grace. Why should not my sorrow be turned into joy? May God the Holy Spirit lead you to believe in Christ Jesus today! My wonder is that any believe, from one point of view. And then my next wonder is that anybody should not believe. Is it not marvelous that God
should give His own dear Son, God, like Himself? And that God should thus come among men and put on human flesh and blood—and that in His wonderfully complex Person He should bear the consequences of our sin?
It is a miracle that God should, by suffering, magnify His own Law and that the Supreme Judge should Himself bear the curse, instead of the culprit, and thus vindicate the principles of eternal rectitude. Even Hell itself could not more fully prove the displeasure of God against evil, nor make the moral government of the universe more honorable. The doctrine of Substitution must be true. It could not have been invented by human wit. Prima facie it bears the mark of the Truth of God upon it.
It is the most wonderful story that ever was told—God Himself condescends to suffer in the place of His enemies. He bears the sin of those who are rebels against His Divine authority—and without injury to His justice or taint upon His righteousness—He pardons sin and receives the sinner into favor. Herein is love, indeed! Here is justice truly vindicated and great love glorified. Love both devised the plan and carried it out and this day love makes it effectual in all who believe in Jesus.
my Hearers, I cannot be content to preach this glorious Truth of God to you. I hunger and thirst that you may receive it! Oh, that you would now look to Jesus and live! Behold Him on the Cross! Behold your God, whom you have offended, clothed in your nature and dying in your place, that you may live! The serpent of brass is on the pole—the serpent has bitten the people, they are ready to die. And lo, on the pole another serpent is uplifted. The curse destroys you. The Lord uplifts Him who was made a curse.
Those who looked to the brazen serpent found life and healing in that look. And even so, there is life from sin by looking to Him who was made sin for us. Though the serpent's poison was deadly, its bites were cured by a look at the brazen serpent. And even so, my Lord becomes a man and, as a man, bears our sin in His own body on the tree, that He might from that tree cry to guilty men, "Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else."
Oh, that you would look to Jesus by faith! I began by lamenting that we are under the curse. But if you will trust in my Lord, I shall conclude by bidding you rejoice that, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law."
1 have done when I just say these two or three practical words—Humbly let us own the great evil of sin. What a horrible thing sin must be, that it should compel God to curse His creatures! God is Love but even love curses sin. God is full of pity and compassion. But this very God must curse those who hope to be saved by His Law and yet break that Law. Child of God, do you ever trifle with sin? Cease from that fatal folly. For God does not trifle with it—He curses it.
Man, see what a polluting thing your sin must be, since there is no removing it except by the blood of the only begotten Son of God! If you have ever had faint views of your own guilt, cease from them at once. Only by the interposition of God Himself could you be saved from guilt. How great that guilt! Lie low before your Lord. Confess your sin with a broken heart. Wonder that your heart is not more broken than it is and that you have not a greater horror of its tremendous, its infinite, evil.
Next, let me say to you, heartily accept the way of salvation by faith in Christ. I cannot make out why men quarrel with justification by faith as they now do. There is an old proverb which says, "It is a pity for any man to quarrel with his bread and butter." But to quarrel with the means of your livelihood is nothing in folly compared with laughing at God's way of salvation. Why do you refuse a method so simple, so just to God, so safe to man? Why do men desire to find fault with it? I am very old-fashioned, so they say. But does their new fashion offer men anything better than the old way?
1 am not too old to learn. But I am not so young as willingly to go further and fare worse. I cannot see what there is in the new theology which even pretends to be better than the old. I suppose that eminent Divine is eminently superior to me who is so orthodox as to say that our Lord Jesus Christ by His death did something or other, he does not know what, which in some way or other, he does not quite know how, is connected with the reconciliation of man to God. This is rather a cloudy Gospel. I do not think that such a dim statement would cheer a mouse, much less a broken-hearted, dying sinner.
I do not see that his plan, or want of plan, has any glory over that which I declare to you. But he is orthodox—very many of his Brethren go far further and altogether deny the expiatory sacrifice. I cannot pretend to have fellowship with such—they take from me my hope. I was a broken-hearted sinner, crushed under guilt, crying out in despair and expect-
ing soon to be in Hell. And it was only when I learned that the Lord Jesus suffered in my place that I found peace of conscience.
Substitution is still the rock on which I build and I know of no other on which a man can wisely base his hope for eternity. Comfort in the Cross I have never lost, and I am not going to cast away my confidence in it to please the philosophers of the season. The old farmer would not change his horse, "For," he said, "I have not seen a nag that will carry me better than my own." The doctrine of the Cross has carried me so far without a stumble and I hope to enter Heaven by its means. I am glad to sing with the children—
"He knew how wicked we had been,
And knew that God must punish sin—
So, out of pity, Jesus said
He'd bear the punishment instead." Glorious atonement! Accept it, poor Soul! Do not let the devil set you laughing at your only hope. This is the available way of salvation for you, you lost one! You self-condemned one—this is a way which will suit you! If you are so very good and so very wise, I know that this gracious method will not attract you. You will kick at it. This does not make me think any the less of it. For I remember that our Lord is set to be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to those who stumble at His Word, being disobedient. If you will not have Him, do not deceive yourselves—we never thought you would.
You do but prove that the Father has hid these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them unto babes. You come not to Him because you are not of His sheep, as He said unto you. If you were brought low and felt your need of Him, then should we hope that Jesus reckoned you among His redeemed. If you would hear His voice and follow Him, then should we know that you belonged to the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep. But as you disregard Him, you will be driven away with the goats.
Further, let us now gratefully extol our Redeemer. Join all of you to magnify the Lord your Savior. We do not praise Him half as much as we ought. I might even ask, Do we say anything about Him? Six days in the week we talk about all sorts of things and say little or nothing about Him and yet He has redeemed us. The fact of His being made a curse for us ought to fill our mouths with thanksgiving and our tongues with singing all the day long. Blessed be the Redeemer's name! "He loved me and gave Himself for me." Extol Him now and evermore—if you have not done so before, begin at once. Get your music ready. "O sing unto the Lord a new song."
Then go and tell other people about your Lord's redemption. The theme will win attention if properly set forth. Let no one within fifty miles of you be without a knowledge of this great redemption by Christ's being made a curse for us. Men try to hide this Truth of God—therefore let us cause it to shine out everywhere. Vindicate the name of your great Lord by telling everybody that He has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us.
If I could set you all preaching this blessed doctrine, I should rejoice, indeed. Rest in it and rejoice in it, and then repeat it till others also know and believe it. Even now the day begins to brighten up, the murky darkness is abating—I hope our hearts will rejoice in harmony with the day. The Lord send us out into a world delivered from darkness. May we make it brighter by setting before it this great Truth of God! To our glorious Substitute be glory forever and ever! Amen.
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