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THE MISSION OF THE SON OF MAN.
REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."-Luke xix, 10.
How fond our Master was of the sweet title, the “Son of Man!" If he had chosen, he might always have spoken of himself as the Son of God, the Everlasting Father, the Wonderful, the Counseller, the Prince of Peace. He hath a thousand gorgeous titles, resplendent as the throne of heaven; but he careth not to use them: to express his humility and let us see the lowliness of him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. He calls not himself the Son of God, but he speaks of himself evermore as the Son of Man who came down from heaven. Let us learn a lesson of humility from our Saviour; let us never court great titles nor proud degrees. What are they, after all, but beggarly distinctions whereby one worm is known from another? He that hath the most of them is a worm still, and is in nature no greater than his fellows. If Jesus called himself the Son of Man, when he had far greater names, let us learn to humble ourselves unto men of low estate, knowing that he that humbleth himself shall in due time be exalted. Methinks, however, there is a sweeter thought than this in that name, Son of Man. It seems to me that Christ loved manhood so much, that he always desired to honour it; and since it is a high honour, and indeed the greatest dignity of manhood, that Jesus Christ was the Son of Man, he is wont to display this name, that he may as it were put rich stars upon the breast of manhood, and put a crown upon its head. Son of Man--whenever he said that word he seemed to put a halo round the head of Adam's children. Yet there is perhaps a more lovely thought still. Jesus Christ called himself the Son of Man, because he loved to be a man. It was a great stoop for him to come from heaven and to be incarnate. It was a mighty stoop of condescension when he left the harps of angels and the songs of cherubims to mingle with the vulgar herd of his own creatures. But condescension though it was, he loved it. You will remember that when he became incarnate he did not become so in the dark. When he bringeth forth the only begotten into the world, he saith, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” It was told in heaven; it was not done as a dark secret which Jesus Christ would do in the night that none might know it; but all the angels of God were brought to witness the advent of a Saviour a span long, sleeping upon a Virgin's breast, and lying in a manger. And ever afterwards, and even now, he never blushed to confess that he was man; never looked back upon his incarnation with the slightest regret; but always regarded it with a joyous recollection, thinking himself thrice happy that he had ever become the Son of Man. All hail, thou blessed Jesus! we know how much thou lovest our race; we can well understand the greatness of thy mercy towards thy chosen ones, inasmuch as thou art evermore using the sweet name which acknowledges that they are bone of thy bone and flesh of thy flesh, and thou art one of them, a brother and a near kinsman.
Our text announces as a declaration of our Saviour, that he, the Son of Man, is come to seek and to save that which was lost. In addressing you this morning, I shall simply divide my discourse thus:- First, I shall lay it down as a selfevident truth, that whatever was the intention of Christ in his coming into the world, that intention most certainly shall never be frustrated. We shall then, in the second place, look into the intention of Christ, as announced in the text, viz., " to seek and to save that which was lost.” Then, in concluding, we shall derive a word of confort, and perhaps one of warning, from the intention of our Saviour in coming into the world " to seek and to save that which was lost.”
I. You are aware that there has been a very great discussion amongst all Christians about the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is one class of men who believe in what is called general redemption, affirming it to be an undoubted truth that Jesus Christ hath shed his blood for every man, and that the intention of Christ in his death was the salvation of men considered as a whole; they have, however, to overlook the fact that in this case Christ's intention would be frustrated in a measure. There are others of us who hold what is called the doctrine of particular redemption. We conceive that the blood of Christ was of an infinite value, but that the intention of the death of Christ, never was the salvation of all men; for if Christ had designed the salvation of all men, we hold that all men would have been saved. We believe that the intention of Christ's death is just equal to its effects; and therefore I start this morning by announcing what I regard to be a self-evident truth, that whatever was the intention of Jesus Christ in coming into the world, that intention most certainly shall be fulfilled.
But I shall make use of a few arguments to strengthen this doctrine, although I believe that on the very first announcment it commends itself to every thinking mind.
In the first place, it seems to be inconsistent with the very idea of God that he should ever intend anything which should not be accomplished. When I look at man I see him to be a creature so distracted with folly and so devoid of power, that I do not wonder that he often begins to build and is not able to finish; I do not marrel that full often he stops short because he hath not counted the cost: I wonder not, when I think how much there is that is above man's control, that he should sometimes propose but that God should dispose far differently from his proposition. I see man to be the insect of a day, a mere ephemera upon the bay-leaf of existence; and when I see him as a mere drop in the great sea of creation, I do not wonder that when he is ambitious he sometimes fashions in himself great designs which he is unable to accomplish, because the wheels of providence and destiny will often run quite contrary to all the frolic of his will. But when I think of God whose name is, “I am that I am," the self-existent one, in whom we live and move and have our being, who is from everlasting to everlasting, the Almighty God; when I think of him as filling immensity, having all power and strength, knowing all things, having a fullness of wisdom, I cannot associate with such an idea of God the supposition of his ever failing in any of his intentions. It would seem to me that a God who could intend a thing and fail in his intention would be no God, but be a thing like ourselves, perhaps superior in strength, but certainly not entitled to worship. I cannot anyhow think of God of a true and real God like Jehovah, except as a being who wills and it is accomplished, who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast, for ever, settled in heaven. I cannot therefore imagine, since Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that in his atonement and redemption, his real intention and desire can in any way be frustrated. If I were a Socinian an'l believed Jesus Christ to be a mere man, I could of course imagine, that the result of his rerlemption would be uncertain; but believing that Jesus Christ was very God of very God, equal and co-eternal with the Father, I dare not, lest I should be guilty of presumption and blasphemy, associate with that name of Jehovah Jesus any suspicion that the design of his death shall remain unaccomplished.
But again, we have before us the fact, that hitherto, all the works of God hare accomplished their purpose. Whenever God has uttered, by the lips of his servants, a prophecy, it has surely come to pass. The instruments of accomplishing that purpose have often been the most factious and rebellious of men: they had no intention whatever of serving God; they have run contrary to his laws; but you will observe that when they have cashed wildly along, his bit has been still in their mouth and his bridle in their jaws. A great monarch has acted like leviathan in the sea; he hath moved himself wherever he pleased; he hath seemed mighty among the sons of men; all the rest of mankind were as minnow3, while he was a huge leviathan: but we discover that God has been overruling his thought, that he has been in his council chamber, that the wildest speculations of his ambition have, after all, been but the fulfilling of Jehovah's stern decrees. Look ye abroad through all the nations of the earth, and tell me, is there one prophecy of God that hath failed? May he not still say, "Not one of them hath lost her mate?" Every word of God hath certainly been accomplished. The kings of the earth stood up and took counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, Let us break his bands asunder and cast his cords from us. But he that sitteth in the heavens did laugh at them; the Lord did have them in derision. Still he worked his own sovereign will; let them do as they pleased, God was over them all, reigning and ruling evermore. If, then, God's purpose in providence certainly never has been frustrated, am I to imagine that God's purpose in the glorious sacrifice of Jesus Christ shall be null and void? If there be any of you who have arrived at such a contortion of intellect as to conceive that a less work being accomplished, a greater one shall fail, I must leave you to yourselves; with you I could not argue; I should think you incapable of an argument. Surely, if God the Master, the Judge, the King, hath in all things done according to his own pleasure in this lower world, in the mere creation and preservation of men, it is not to be dreamed of for a moment, that when he stoops himself from the highest heaven, to give his own heart's blood for our redemption, he shall in that be foiled. No; though earth and hell be against him, every purpose of Jesus on the cross shall be consummated, and as the price was “finished,” so shall the purchase be; as the means were fully provided, so shall the end be accomplished to its utmost jot and tittle.
But again, I invite you to stand at the foot of the cross, and take a view of Jesus Christ, and then I will put it to you whether you can imagine that Jesus Christ could in any measure have died in vain. Come, believer, place thyself in the garden of Gethsemane; hide thyself among those dark olives, and listen to yonder man who is in agony. Dost hear those groans? They are the groans of an incarnate God. Dost hear those sighs? They are the sighs of the Son of Man. God over all, blessed for ever. Hearest thou those strong cries, and dost thou see those tears? They are the crying and the tears of him who is equal with his Father, but who condescended to be a man. Rise, for he has risen; Judas has betrayed him and taken him away. Look on that ground. Seest thou those gouts of gore? It is the bloody sweat of the man Christ Jesus. I conjure thee, answer this question. Standing in the garden of Gethsemane, with those blood gouts staining the white frost of that cold midnight, canst thou believe that one of those clots of blood shall fall to the ground and not effect its purpose? I challenge thee, O Christian, whatever thy doctrinal opinions, to say me “ Yes" to such a question as that. Canst thou imagine that a sweat of blood from the veins of incarnate Deity shall ever fall to the ground and fail? Why, beloved, the word of God which cometh forth out of his mouth shall not return unto him void, but it shall accomplish that which he pleases; how much more shall the Great WORD of God, which came forth from the loins of Deity, accomplish the purpose whereunto God hath sent him, and prosper in the thing for which it pleased God to ordain him!
But now come with me to the hall of judgment. See there your Master placed in mock state in the midst of a ribald band of soldiery. Do you see how they spit on those blessed cheeks, how they pluck his hair, how they buffet him? Do you see the crown of thorns with its ruby drops of gore? Hark! Can you hear the cry of the multitude, as they say, “Crucify him, crucify him?” And will you now stand there and look at this man whom Pilate has just brought forth, still bleeding from the lash of the scourge, covered with shame, and spitting and mockery; and as this “ Ecce Homo” is presented to you, will you believe that this, the incarnate Son of God, shall be made such a spectacle to men, to angels, and to devils, and yet fail of his design? Can you imagine that one lash of that whip shall have a fruitless aim? Shall Jesus Christ suffer this shame and spitting, and yet endure what were far worse--a disappointment in the fulfilment of his intentions? No; God forbid! By Gethsemane and Gabbatha, we are pledged to the strong belief that what Christ designed by his death, must certainly be accomplished.
Then again, see him hanging on his cross. The nails have pierced his hands and • feet, and there in the broiling sun he hangs-he hangs to die. The mockery has
not ceased; still they put out the tongue and wag the head at him; still they taunt him with “If thou be the Son of God come down from the cross.' And now his bodily pains increase, while his soul's anguish is terrible even unto death. Christian, canst thou believe that the blood of Christ was shed in vain? Canst thou look at one of those precious drops as it trickles from his head or his hands or his feet, and
canst thou imagine that it shall fall to the ground and perish there? True, the waters may fail from the sea, the sun may grow dim with age, but I never can imagine that the value, the merit, the power of the blood of Jesus ever shall die out, or that its purpose shall be unaccomplished. It seems to me as clear as noonday, that the design of the Saviour's death must certainly be fulfilled, be it what it may.
I might use a hundred other arguments. I might show that every attribute of Christ declares that his purpose must be accomplished. He certainly has love enough to accomplish his design of saving the lost; for he has a love that is bottomless and fathomless, even as the abyss itself. He certainly has no objection to the accomplishment of his own design, for “ As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live.” And certainly the Lord cannot fail for want of power, for where we have omnipotence there can be no deficiency of strength. Nor again, can the design be unaccomplished because it was unwise, for God's designs cannot be unwise, simply because they are of God—that is to say—they are of infinite wisdom. I cannot see anything in the character of Christ, nor anything the wide world over, that can for one moment make me imagine that Christ should die, and yet it should be said afterwards, ** This mar: died for a purpose which he never lived to see accomplished: the object of his death was only partially fulfilled; he saw of the travail of his soul, but he was not satisfied, for he did not redeem all whom he intended to redeem.”
Now, some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say it so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself, they say, to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty. I admit there is; but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might well admire in the theory of universal redemption, but let me just tell you what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on his cross intended to save every man, then he intended to save those who were damned before he died; because if the doctrine be true, that he died for all men, he died for some that were in hell before he came into this world, for doubtless there were myriads there that had been cast away. Once again, if it were Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has he been disappointed! for we have his own evidence that there is a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit must be cast some of the very persons, who according to that theory, vere bought with his blood. That seems to me a thousand times more frightful than any of those horrors, which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men in hell seems a supposition too horrible for me to imagine: that he was the substitute for the sons of men, and that God having first punished the substitute, punished men again, seems to me to conflict with any idea of justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of men, and that afterwards, those very men should be punished for the sins which Christ had already atoned for, seems to me, to be the most marvellous monstrosity that ever could have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, ay, to the god of the Thugs, or the most diabolical heathen demons. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise. If Christ has suffered in man's stead, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and save us from all unrighteousness.
II. I have thus started the first thought that the intention of Christ's death cannot be frustrated. And now methinks every one will anxiously listen, and every ear will be attentive, and the question will arise from every heart, “ WHAT THEN WAS THE INTENTION OF THE SAVIOUR'S DEATH? AND IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I CAN HAVE A PORTION IN IT?” For whom, then, did the Saviour die-and is there the slightest probability that I have some lot or portion in that great atonement which he has offered ? Beloved, my text is the answer to the question—" The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Now, our text tells us of two things—first, the subjects of the Saviour's atonement, the lost; and, secondly, the objects of it, he came to seek and save.
I must now endeavour to pick out the objects of the Saviour's atonement. He came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Some of you may turn your heads away at once, and conclude that hitherto you have given no evidence that you have any portion in the death of Christ. You are very good sort of people; you never did much that was wrong-perhaps a little now and then; but nothing,
particular ever troubles your conscience. You have a notion that you shall certainly enter into the kingdom of heaven, for you are no worse than your neighbours, and if you are not saved, God help other people! for if you do not go to heaven, who will? You are trusting in your own good works, and believing you are righteous. Now let us decide your case at once. Since you are ashamed to put yourselves among those who are lost, I have no Christ to preach to you till you are ready to come and confess that you are lost; for Christ himself tells us, that he
not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;" and inasmuch as you belong to the righteous, and trust in yourselves that you are good and excellent, you may turn upon your heel and go, for in the blood of Christ there is no portion for men who live and die trusting in their own self-righteousness.
But I may dismiss another part of you. Some of you are saying, “Well, sir, I know I am guilty, but still I am persuaded that by attention to the law of God in future, I shall certainly be able to take away the demerit of my guilt. I intend henceforward to reform, and I believe that by a consistent course of attention to religious ordinances, and by carefully regarding that which is right and wrong between God and man, and man and man, I shall, without doubt, make an atonement for the sins of the past.”. Ah, my friend, hitherto thou givest me no hope that thou had any portion in the death of Christ. Christ came not to die for men who can save themselves without him. If thou thinkest thou canst save thyself, remember the door of mercy is shut in thy face. Christ came to bring robes from heaven, but not for you who can spin for yourselves. He came to bring bread for the hungry, but he will give none of it to you who can sow and reap, and make bread for yourselves. Christ helps the helpless, but they who can help themselves and have sufficient of their own strength and merit to carry them to heaven, may fight their way there alone, if they can-they shall have no help from him. Whom then did Christ die to save? It is said, he came to save that which was lost.”
Now, you must bear with me while I run over the different ways in which a man may be lost; and then I will conclude by noticing the term as it is used in the proper sense, when we may affirm that Christ died for such. We know that all men are lost in Adam; as soon as we are born into this world, we are lost; when the tiny bark of the infant is launched upon the river of life it is lost; unless Sove reign grace shall stretch forth its hand and save it in infancy, and carry it to heaven, or save it afterwards, when it shall have grown up--that infant is lost. “Behold,” saith David, "I was born in sin and shapen in iniquity; in sin did my mother conceive me.” In Adam all die." The fall of Adam was the fall of the human race; then, you and I, and all of us fell down.
Again, we are all lost by practice. No sooner does the child become capable of knowing right and wrong, than you discover that he chooses the evil and abhors the good. Early passions soon break out, like weeds immediately after the shower of rain, speedily the hidden depravity of the heart makes itself manifest, and we grow up to sin, and so we become lost by practice. But mark, a man may be lost in Adam, and lost by practice, and yet not be saved by Christ; but Christ is able to save you; though you be twice lost, his salvation is able to redeem you from death.
Then there be some who go further still. The deadly tree of sin grows taller and taller; some become lost to the church. After having been trained up religiously in our midst, they turn aside, they give up all outward regard to the worship of God, the ministry of the gospel is neglected, the house of prayer is forsaken, and the church tolls its bell and says of such an one, “lle is lost to the church.” Some go further still; they are lost to society. I have seen many who are dead while they live. We have in the midst of us the harlot and the drunkard, who, like the leper in the camp of Israel, have to be put away, lest the contagion should spread; and those who seek after right are obliged to turn away from them, lest the evil should spread in the midst of the flock. Now there are many who are lost to society whom Jesus Christ came to save, and whom he will save. But a man may be lost to society and may be lost everlastingly; it is no proof that Christ will save him, because he is thus lost, while at the same time it is no proof that he will not save him, for Christ came to save even men who are lost like this. Again, the map may go further, and be lost to the family. We have known those who have become so vile, that even after society has shut them out, a parent has been obliged to shut them out too. That must be a hell of sin indeed which can make a father say to his son, “My son, you shall not want bread while I have any, but I must forbid