« ZurückWeiter »
go to heaven, to set them right upon this matter. According to his theory, it must be very wrong of them, because they rejoice prematurely. According to the Arminian doctrine a man may repent, and yet he may be lost; he may have grace to repent and believe, and yet he may fall from grace and be a castaway. Now, angels, don't be too fast. Perhaps you may have to repent of this one day, if the Arminian doctrine be true, I would advise you to save your song for greater joys. Why, angels, perhaps the men that you are singing over to-day, you will have to mourn over to-morrow. I am quite sure that Arminius never taught his doctrine in heaven. I do not know whether he is there—I hope he is, but he is no longer an Arminian; but if he ever taught his doctrine there, he would be put out. The reason why angels rejoice is because they know that when a sinner repents, he is absolutely saved; or else they would rejoice prematurely, and would have good cause for retracting their merriment on some future occasion. But the angels know what Christ meant when he said, “I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand;" and therefore they rejoice over repenting sinners, because they know they are saved.
There is yet one more fact I will mention, before I leave this point. It is said that the angels “rejoice over one sinner that repenteth.”. Now, this evening it shall be my happy privilege to give the right hand of fellowship to no less than forty-eight sinners that have repented, and there will be great joy and rejoicing in our churches to-night, because these forty-eight have been immersed on a profession of their faith. But how loving are the angels to men; for they rejoice over one sinner that repenteth. There she is, in that garret where the stars look between the tiles. There is a miserable bed in that room, with but one bit of covering, and she lieth there to die! Poor creature! many a night she has walked the streets in the time of her merriment; but now her joys are over; a foul disease, like a demon, is devouring her heart! She is dying fast, and no one careth for her soul! But there, in that chamber, she turns her face to the wall, and she cries, “ O thou that savedst Magdalene, save me; Lord I repent; have mercy upon me; I beseech thee.” Did the bells ring in the street ? Was the trumpet blown? Ah! no. Did men rejoice? Was there a sound of thanksgiving in the midst of the great congregation? No; no one heard it; for she died unseen. But stay! There was one standing at her bedside, who noted well that tear; an angel, who had come down from heaven to watch over this stray sheep, and mark its return; and no sooner was her prayer uttered than he clapped his wings, and there was seen flying up to the pearly gates a spirit like a star. The heavenly guards came crowding to the gate, crying, " What news, O son of fire?” He said, “ 'Tis done.” “ And what is done?” they said, Why, she has repented.” “ What! she who was once a chief of sinners? has she turned to Christ?" "'Tis even so," said he. And then they told it through the streets, and the bells of heaven rang marriage peals, for Magdalene was saved, and she who had been the chief of sinners was turned unto the living God.
It was in another place. A poor neglected little boy in ragged clothing had run about the streets for many a-day. Tutored in crime, he was paving his path to the gallows; but one morning he passed by a humble room, where some men and women were sitting together teaching poor ragged children. He stepped in there, a wild Bedouin of the streets; they talked to him; they told him about a soul and about an eternity-things he had never heard before; they spoke of Jesus, and of good tidings of great joy to this poor friendless lad. He went another Sabbath, and another; his wild habits hanging about him, for he could not get rid of them. At last it happened that his teacher said to him one day, “Jesus Christ receiveth sinners.” That little boy ran, but not home, for it was but a mockery to call it 80—where a drunken father and a lascivious mother kept a hellish riot together. He ran, and under some dry arch, or in some wild unfrequented corner, he bent his little knees, and there he cried, that poor creature in his rags, “Lord save me, or I perish;" and the little Arab was on his knees—the little thief was saved! He said
Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly;"
And up from that old arch, from that forsaken hovel, there flew a spirit, glad to bear the newe to heaven, that another heir of glory was born to God. I might picture many such scenes; but will each of you try to picture your own? You remember the occasion when the Lord met with you. Ah! little did you think what a commotion there was in heaven. If the Queen had ordered out all her soldiers, the angels of heaven would not have stopped to notice them; if all the princes of earth had marched in pageant through the streets, with all their robes, and jewellery and crowns, and all their regalia, their chariots, and their horsemen-if the pomps of ancient monarchies had risen from the tomb-if all the might of Babylon and Tyre and Greece had been concentrated into one great parade, yet not an angel would have stopped in his course to smile at those poor tawdry things; , but over you the vilest of the vile, the poorest of the poor, the most obscure and unknown-over you angelic wings were hovering, and concerning you it was said on earth and sung in heaven, "Hallelujah, for a child is burn to God to-day.”
III. And now I must conclude with this LESSON TO THE SAINTS. I think, beloved, it will not be hard for you to learn. The angels of heaven rejoice over sinners that repent: saints of God, will not you and I do the same? I do not think the church rejoices enough. We all grumble enough and groan enough: but very few of us rejoice enough. When we take a large number into the church it is spoken of as a great mercy; but is the greatness of that mercy appreciated! I will tell you who they are that can most appreciate the conversion of sinners. They are those that are just converted themselves, or those that have been great sinners themselves. Those who have been saved themselves from bondage, when they see others coming who have so lately worn the chains, are so glad that they can well take the tabret, and the harp, and the pipe, and the psaltery, and praise God that there are other prisoners who have been emancipated by grace. But there are others who can do this better still, and they are the parents and relations of those who are saved. You have thanked God many times when you have seen a sinner saved; but, mother, did not you thank him most when you saw your son converted? Oh! those holy tears; they are not tears—they are God's diamondsthe tears of a mother's joy, when her son confesses his faith in Jesus. Oh! that glad countenance of the wife, when she sees her husband, long bestial and drunken, at last made into a man and a Christian! Oh! that look of joy which a young Christian gives, when he sees his father converted, who had long oppressed and persecuted him. I was preaching this week for a young minister, and being anxious to know his character, I spoke of him with apparent coolness to an estimable lady of his congregation. In a very few moments she began to warm in his favour. She said, “ You must not say anything against him, sir; if you do, it is because you do not know him.” “ Oh," I said, " I knew him long before you did; he is not much, is he?” “Well,” she said, “ I must speak well of him, for he has been a blessing to my servants and family.” I went out into the street, and saw some men and women standing about; so I said to them, “I must take your minister away.” “ If you do,” they said, “we will follow you all over the world, if you take away a man who has done so much good to our souls." After collecting the testimony of fifteen or sixteen witnesses, I said, “If the man gets such witnesses as these let him go on; the Lord has opened his mouth, and the devil will never be able to shut it." These are the witnesses me want-men who can sing with the angels because their own households are converted to God. I hope it may be so with all of you; and if any of you are your selves brought to Christ to-day-for he is willing to receive you-you will go out of this place singing, and the angels will sing with you. There shall be joy in earth, and joy in heaven; on earth peace, and glory to God in the highest. The Lord bless you one and all, for Jesus' sake.
Just Published, in a neat wrapper, price ld., "A CALL TO THE UNCONVERTED;" by the Rer.
C. H. SPURGEON. Also, in a neat wrapper, price 18., "THE SECOND CUMING OF CHRIST;" with a Brief Preface, by the Rev. C. H, SPURGEON.
PREACHED ON MONDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 514, 1857,
BY THE REV. W. M. PUNSHON,
At Great Queen Street Chapel, London.
“Aud I saw, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and be went forth conquering, and to conquer."—Rev. vi. 2.
How animating is the sound of war! How easily can it awaken the ardours of the unrenewed and unsanctified heart of man! There is no profession in which he can gain more renown and applause than in the profession of arms. It is the birthplace of what men call glory. Custom has baptised it honourable; it carries with it a pomp and a circumstance of which other professions are desti. tute; it has nerved the arm of the patriot, it has fired the genius of the painter, it has strung and swept the poet's lyre ; nations have bowed before its shrine, and even religion has prostituted herself to bless and consecrate its banners. Yet it must not be forgotten that for the most part human conquerors are just murderers upon a grand scale-mighty batchers of human kind. Their victories are won amidst extermination and havoc; their track is traced in ruin; there is human life upon their laurels ; and if they wish to acquire a name, they have got one; let them glory as they can in its possession-the voice of blood proclaims it from the ground, and it is vaunted from earth to heaven by the wailings of orphaned hearts, and by the deep execrations of despair. The sacred writings, however, tell us of one conqueror whose victories were peacefully achieved, whose battles were bloodlessly won; or if his onward march was discoloured by blood, it was his own. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is thus evidently set forth before us; he who “died the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” In the fulfilment of the various duties connected with the mediatorial office which he had undertaken, he is frequently represented as going out to battle against his adversaries, as routing them by the word of his mouth, and returning in exultation and triumph. Instances of this you will easily and at once remember. Thus, in the forty-fifth psalm, which we read in your hearing to-night, “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, 0 most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and ineekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.” Again, in the eleventh chapter of Luke, “ When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace : But when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” And yet, again, according to the mysterious apocalypses of the Book of Revelation, "Then shall all make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them." It matters not how numerons or how powerful his enemies may be--alike over the powers of darkness with their legioned hosts of foes--alike over the corruptions of the human heart with all its ramifications of depravity-alike over the false systems into which the corruption has retreated, as into so many garrisoned and fortified towns, crown is given unto him, and he goeth forth conquering and to conquer."
It is not my intention this evening, and time would forbid it even if we had the desire, to enter into all the details of this interesting and absorbing strife. I should just like for a moment or two to concentrate your attentiou upon one phase of the conflict-the battle of the old serpent the devil, the great origin of evil, under whose generalship the others are mustered, and to whose com. mands they submittingly bow. Behold, then, the combat beyond all others inportant-the combat between Christ and Satan for the human soul, and, as you trace the progress of the fight, remember with encouragement, and say that “He goeth forth conquering, and to conquer.” It will be necessary, order that we have the whole matter before us, that we introduce the cause of strife, the battle, and the victory.
First, as to the cause of strife. You know that when the all comprising be. nevolence of God found heaven too small for the completion of its vast desigus, this earth arose in order and in beauty from his forming hands. After by his Spirit he had garnished the heavens, and scattered upon the fair face of nature tie labour of his hand and the impress of his feet, as the fairest evidence of divine workmanship, the last and most excellent of his works below, he made man in his own image, after his own likeness. The soul, then, was the property of him by whom it was created, who imparted to it its high and noble faculties, by whom, notwithstanding its defilement, it is still sustained, and from whom proceed the retributions which shall fix its doom for ever. Man was created in possession of that moral purity, that absolute freedom from sin, which consti. tuted of itself assiinilation to his Maker's image. And so long as he retained that image, so long was he the divine property, and the divine portion alone. But the moment he sinned, the moment of the perversion of his nature, of the estrangement of his faculties, of the alienation of his heart, he came under a different tenure, and became a vassal of a different lord.
Satan himself, once an inbabitant of the high realms of glory, but hurled from that giddy height for disobedience and pride, was mysteriously permitted to tempt our first parents in the garden, with the full knowledge, on their part, that standing as they did in their representative and public character, if they fell the consequences of that one transgression were entailed upon all their posterity. With the circumstances of the original temptation you are all of course familiar, and the issue of it you have in that one verse in the book of Genesis :-“ Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” This tells us of the contravention-the direct contravention, of a known law : a law which God, as the supreme Creator, had a perfect right to institute ; a law which man, as a dependent creature, was under binding obligations to obey. It was instituted avowedly as a test of obedience; and this is all that we would condescend to answer to the laboured sarcasms of foolish ivfidelity. Any wayfaring man, though a fool, can curl his lip and de
laim against the insignificance of the act from which such mighty issues sprang; but they forget that the moment the temptation was yielded to, there was in human nature a very incarnation of the devil. Under that demoniacal possession the man was prepared for any infraction, from the eating of the forbidden fruit to to the subversion of an almighty throne; and he who under such circumstances would violate a known command, however trifling, would not, if the circumstances had been equal, have shrunk away from the endeavour to scale the battlements of heaven, and pluck the crown of divinity from the very brow of the Eternal. Hence it was, by yielding to the suggestions of the tempter, and to his infamous temptation, that the portals of the palace were flung wide open for the strong man armed to enter, and hither, alas ! he came with all his sad and fearful train, enthroning himself upon the heart, setting up his image, as Bunyan hath it, in the market-place of the town of Man-soul : fortifying every avenue, filling every chamber, corrupting every faculty, enervating every inbabitant, and announcing every moment the symbols of his
Own resolve to grasp and hold it for ever. Here then is in brief the cause of this celestial strife. The soul, a colony of heaven, had been taken, usurped possession of, by the powers of hell, and the effort to restore it to allegiance was the inain cause of this celestial war.
Still further to impress you with the weighty causes of the strise, let us remind you for a moment of the character of the government thus by daring usurpation acquired. The dominion which Satan exercises over the human soul is despotic in its character. He is not a monarch, he is an autocrat; he admits no compromise, he brooks no rival, he pours his uncleanness upon every part, and reigns supremely over every power and every faculty of man. True, the man is not always conscious of his slavery-that is one of the cunningest secrets of his power, that he persuades his vassals that they are free, and their offended language to any one who questions the fact is, “We be Abraham's children that were never in bondage to any man.” He brands them as his own, and then, content to wear his badge, they may choose their own trappings. He has no uniform. Some of his soldiers are in rags and others in purple, and his very choicest veterans have stolen the livery of heaven. There is not one within the compass of the whole human family who is not subject to bis authority, naturally led captive by the devil at bis will.
And then, this government of Satan over the human soul, is not only despotic but degrading. Slavery in any form is essentially connected with degradation, and in the case before us the connection must be regarded as the most palpable and emphatic of all. The essence and exaltation of moral dignity are assimilations to the image of God. Whatever recedes from that image must of necessity debase and degrade. Now the course of man's life, as it has been ever since the fall, a course of constant and increasing recession from God, presents a spectacle of moral degradation which is grievous to behold: the whole nature has fallen; the understanding has become darkened and is conversant only with what is contemptible and low; the affections which once soared sublimely upwards now cleave to worldly objects, objects that perish in the using; the passions have become loyal servants of the usurper, and keep their zealous patrol in the courtyard of his palace; the will which once inclined to good, is now fierce and greedy after evil; imagination revels in fondest dalliance with sin for its paramour; and conscience, intoxicated with opiate draughts, and in that intoxication smitten with paralysis, gazes hopelessly upon the desolation; or if at times stirred by the spirit within, it breaks out with a paroxysm and terrifies the man with its thunder, he is persuaded to regard it as the incoherence of some meddling drunkard, or the ravings of some frantic madman. Such is the condition to which the usurpation of the evil one has reduced the human soul. It is first earthly, scraping its affluence or its pleasure together ; and then, yet more degrading, there is the transformation that happened to Nebuchadnezzar—the heart of a man is taken out, and the heart of a beast is put in; and then as like grows to like, and as a process of assimilation is constantly going on, it grows into its master's image: the mark of the beast becomes more distinct and palpable, every feature stands confessed of Satan's obscene and loathsome likeness, and there is a living proof of the truth of the scale upon which Scripture has graduated man's increasing degeneracy-"First earthly, then sensual, then devilish.” That is a fearful picture is it not ? Ah ! you see the man, or kis bacchanalian orgies, or his midnight prowl, but you do not see the fiend that dogs his steps and goads him to destraction; you see the degradation of the nature that once bore the image of God, but you do not see the jibing mocking demon that is behind; you trace intelligibly enough the infernal brand, but you cannot hear the peals of infernal laughter as the archdevil, looking down upon the soul that he has stormed, exults in the extremity of the disgrace and glories in the pollution of the fallen.
The government of Satan over the human soul not only despotic and de. grading, but destructive. Sin and punishment are inseparably allied; the powers of darkness, although mysteriously permitted a certain amount of in. fluence, are themselves in punishment, “reserved in chains under darkness