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brimstone, doth kindle it. If, then, the ancient things, these old ones, death and hell, have been observed by God, and if their total history is known to him, how much more then shall he know the history of that mere animalculæ, that ephemera of an hour, that we call man? You are here to-day, and gone tomorrow; born yesterday-the next hour shall see our tomb prepared, and another minute shall hear, “ ashes to ashes, dust to dust," and the falling of the clod upon the coffin lid. We are the creatures of a day, and know nothing.
We arc scarcely here; we are only living and dead. “Gone!” is the greatest part of our history. Scarcely have we time enough to tell the story, ere it comes to its finis. Surely, then, God may easily understand the history of a beast, when he knows the history of the monarchies of death and hell.
This is the why. I need not give further arguments, though there be abundance deducible from the text. “How much more then the hearts of the children of men ?"
2. But now, how does God know the heart? I mean, to what degree and to what extent does he understand and know that which is in man? I answer, Holy Scripture in divers places gives us most precise information. God knows the heart so well that he is said to “search” it. We all understand the figure of a search. There is a search-warrant out against some man who is supposed to be harbouring a traitor in his house. The officer goes into the lower room, opens the door of every cupboard, looks into every closet, peers into every cranny, takes the key, descends into the cellar, turns over the coals, disturbs the wood, lest anyone should be hidden there. Up stairs he goes: there is an old room that has not been opened for years,—it is opened. There is a huge chest: the lock is forced and it is broken open. The very top of the house is searched, lest upon the slates or upon the tiles some one should be concealed. At last, when the search has been complete, the officer says, “It is impossible that there can be anybody here, for, from the tiles to the foundation, I have searched the house thoroughly through; I know the very spiders well, for I have seen the house completely." Now, it is just so that God knows our heart. He searches it-searches into every nook, corner, crevice and secret part; and the figure of the Lord is pushed further still. “The candle of the Lord,” we are told," searches the secret parts of the belly." As when we wish to find something, we take a candle, and look down upon the ground with great care, and turn up the dust. If it is some little piece of money we desire to find, we light a candle and sweep the house, and search diligently till we find it. Even so it is with God. He searches Jerusalem with candles, and pulls everything to daylight. No partial search, like that of Laban, when he went into Rachel's tent to look for his idols. She put them in the camel's furniture and sat upon tbem; but God looks into the camel's furniture, and all. •Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him ? saith the Lord.” His eye searches the heart, and looks into every part of it.
in another passage we are told that God tries the reins. That is even more than searching. The goldsmith when he takes gold, looks at it, and examines it carefully. “Ah!" says he, “but I don't understand this gold yet: I must try it." He thrusts it into the furnace; there coals are heaped upon it, and it is fused and melted, till he knows what there is of dross, and what there is of gold. Now, God knows to the very carat how much there is of sound gold in us, and how much of dross. There is no deceiving him. He has put our hearts into the furnace of his Omniscience: the furnace-his knowledge-tries us as completely as the goldsmith's crucible doth try the gold-how much there is of hypocrisy, how much of truthhow much of sham, how much of real-how much of ignorance, how much of knowledge-how much of devotion, how much of blasphemy-how much of carefulness, how much of carelessness. God knows the ingredients of the heart; he reduces the soul to its pristine metals; he divides it asunder—so much of quartz, so much of gold, so much of dung, of dross, of wood, of hay, of stubble, so much of gold, silver, and precious stones. The Lord trieth the hearts and searcheth the reins of the children of men."
Here is another description of God's knowledge of the heart. In one place of Sacred Writ-(it will be well if you set your children to find out these places at home)—God is said to ponder the heart. Now, you know, the Latin word ponder means weigh. The Lord weighs the heart. Old Master Quarles has got a picture of a great one putting a heart into one scale, and then putting the law, the Bible, into the other scale, to weigh it. This is what God does with men's hearts. They are
often great, puffed-up, blown out things, and people say, “What a great-hearted man that is!” But God does not judge by the appearance of a man's great heart, nor the outside appearance of a good heart; but he puts it in the scales and weighs it-puts his own Word in one scale and the heart in the other. He knows the exact weight -knows whether we have grace in the heart, which makes us good weight, or only pretence in the heart, which makes us weigh light weight when put into the scale. He searches the heart in every possible way, he puts it into the fire, and then thrusts it into the balances. Oh, might not God say of many of you, “I have searched your heart, and I have found vanity therein? Reprobate silver shall men call you; for God has put you in the furnace and rejected you.” And then he might conclude his verdict by saying, “ Mene, mene, tekel—thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.” This, then, is the answer to the question, How ?
The next question was, What? What is it that God sees in man's heart? God sees in man's heart a great deal more than we think of. God sees, and has seen in our hearts, lust, and blasphemy, and murder, and adultery, and malice, and wrath, and all uncharitableness. The heart never can be painted too black, unless you daub it with something blacker than the devil himself. It is as base as it can be. You have never committed murder, but yet you have had murder in your heart; you may never have stained your hands with lust and the aspersions of uncleanness, but still it is in the heart. Have you never imagined an evil thing? Has your soul never for a moment doted on a pleasure which you were too chaste to indulge in, but which for a moment you surveyed with at least some little complacency and delight? Has not imagination often pictured, even to the solitary monk in his cell, greater vice than men in public life have ever dreamed os? And may not even the divine in his closet be conscious that blasphemies, and murders, and lusts of the vilest class, can find a ready harbour even in the heart which he hopes is dedicated to God? Oh! beloved, it is a sight that no human eye could endure: the sight of a heart really laid bare before one's own inspection would startle us almost into insanity: but God sees the heart in all its bestial sensuousness, in all its wanderings and rebellions, in all its highmindedness and pride; God has searched and knows it altogether.
God sees all the heart's imaginations, and what they are let us not presume to tell. O children of God, these have made you cry and groan full many a time, and though the worldling groans not over them, yet he hath them. Oh, what a filthy stye of Stygian imaginations is the heart; all full of everything that is hideous, when it once begins to dance and make carnival and revelry concerning sin. But God sees the heart's imaginations.
Again, God sees the heart's devices. You perhaps, O sinner, have determined to curse God; you have nut done so, but you intend to do it. He knows your devices --reads them all. You perhaps will not be permitted to run into the excess of riotousness into which you purpose to go; but your very purpose is now undergoing the inspection of the Most Higlı. There is never a design forged in the fires of the heart, before it is beaten on the anvil of resolve, that is not known, and seen, and noted by Jehovah our God.
He knows, next, the resolves of the heart. He knows, 0 sinner, how many times you have resolved to repent, and have resolved and re-resolved, and then have continued the same. He knows, O thou that hast been sick, how thou didst resolve to seek God, but how thou didst despise thine own resolution, when good liealth had put thee beyond the temporary danger. Thy resolves have been filed in heaven, and thy broken promises, and thy vows despised, shall be brought out in their order as swift witnesses for thy condemnation. All these things are known of God. We have often had very clear proof of God's knowing what is in man's heart, even in the ministry. Some months ago, whilst standing here preaching, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said these words—* There is a man sitting there that is a shoemaker, keeps his shop open on Sunday, had his shop open last Sabbath morning, took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it. His soul is sold to Satan for fourpence.” A City Missionary when going round the West end of the town, met with a poor man of whom he asked this question“Do you know Mr. Spurgeon? ” Ile found him reading a sermon. · Yes," he said, "I have every rtason to know him; I have been to hear him, and under God's grace I have become a new man. But,” said he, “shall I tell you how it was? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the
place, and the man looked at me as if he knew me, and deliberately told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I sold shoes on a Sunday; and I did, sir. But, sir, I should not have minded that; but he said I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit; and so I did take ninepence, and fourpence was just the profit, and how he should know that I'm sure I cannot tell. It struck me it was God had spoken to my soul through him; and I shut up my shop last Sunday, and was afraid to open it and go there, lest he should split about me again.” I could tell as many as a dozen authentic stories of cases that have happened in this Hall, where I have deliberately pointed at somebody, without the slightest knowledge of the person, or ever having in the least degree any inkling or idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved thereto by the Spirit; and so striking has been the description, that the persons have gone away and said, “Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did: he was sent of God to my soul, beyond a doubt, or else he could not have painted my case so clearly.”
And not only so, but we have known cases in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge with their elbow, because they have got a smart hit, and I have heard them say, when they went out, “That is just what I said to you when I went in at the door.” Ah!" says the other, “I was thinking of the very thing he said, and he told me of it.” Now, if God thus proves his own Omniscience by helping his poor, ignorant servant, to state the very thing, thought and done, when he did not know it, then it must remain decisively proved that God does know everything that is secret, because we see he tells it to men, and enables them to tell it to others. Oh, ye may endeavour as much as ye can to hide your faults from God; but beyond a doubt he shall discover you. He discovers you this day. His Word is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” and “pierces to the dividing asunder of the joints and of the marrow;" and in that last day, when the book shall be opened, and he shall give to every man his sentence, then shall it be seen how exact, how careful, how precious, how personal, was God's knowledge of the heart of every man whom he had made.
4. And, now, the last question: When? When does God see us? The answer is, he sees us everywhere and in every place. O foolish man, who thinks to hide himself from the Most High! It is night; no human eye sees thee; the curtain is drawn, and thou art hidden. There are his eyes lowering at thee through the gloom. It is a far-off country; no one knows thee; parents and friends have been left behind, restraints are cast off. There is a Father near thee, who looks upon thee even now. It is a lone spot, and if the deed be done, no tongue shall tell it. There is a tongue in heaven that shall tell it; yea, the beam out of the wall and the stones in the field, shall raise up themselves as witnesses against thee. Canst thou hide thyself anywhere where God shall not detect thee? Is not this whole world like a glass hive, wherein we put our bees? and does not God stand and see all our motions when we think we are hidden? Ah, it is but a glass hiding place. He looketh from heaven, and through stone walls and rocks; yea, to the very centre itself, does his eye pierce, and in the thickest darkness he beholds our deeds.
Come, then, let me make a personal application of the matter, and I have done. If this be true, hypocrite, what a fool thou art! If God can read the heart, O man, what a sorry, sorry thing thy fair pretence must be! Ah! ah! ah! what a change will come over some of you! This world is a masquerade, and ye, many of you, wear the mask of religion. Ye dance your giddy hours and men think you to be the saints of God. How changed will you be, when, at the door of eternity, you must drop the vizer, and must announce the theatricals in which you live! How you will blush when the paint is washed from off your cheek-when you stand before God naked to your own shame, a hypocrite, unclean, diseased, covered up before with the gew-gaws and the trickery of pretended formality in religion, but now standing there, base, vile, and hideous! There is many a man that bears about him a cancer that would make one sick to see. Oh! how shall hypocrites look, when their cancerous hearts are laid bare! Deacon! how you will tremble when your old heart is torn open, and your vile pretences rent away! Minister! how black you will look when your surplice is off, and when your grand pretensions are cast to the dogs! How will you tremble! There will be no sermonizing others then. You yourself will be preached to, and the sermon shall be from that text, “ Depart, ye cursed.” O brethren, above all things shun hypocrisy. If ye mean to be damned, make up your minds to it, and be danned, like honest men; but do not, I beseech yon, pretend to go to heaven, while all the while you are going to hell. If ye mean to make your abodes in torment for ever, then serve the devil, and do not be ashamed of it; stand it right out, and let the world know what you are. But oh! never put on the cloak of religion. I beseech you, do not add to your eternal misery by being a wolf in sheep's clothing. Show the cloven foot; do not hide it. If you mean to go to hell, say so. “If God be God, serve him. If Baal be God, serve him." Do not serve Baal and then pretend to be serving God.
One other practical conclusion. If God sees and knows everything, how this ought to make you tremble-you that have lived in sin for many years! I have known a man who was once stopped from an act of sin by the fact of there being a cat in the room. He could not bear even the eyes of that poor creature to see him. Oh, I would ye could carry about with you the recollection of those eyes that are always on you. Swearer! could you swear if you could see God's eye looking at you! Thief! drunkard! harlot! could ye indulge in your sins, if ye saw his eyes on you? Oh, methinks they would startle you, and bid you pause, before ye did in God's own sight rebel against his law. There is a story told of the American War, that one of the prisoners taken by the Americans was subjected to a torture of the most refined character. He says, “I was put into a narrow dungeon; I was comfortably provided for with all I needed; but there was a round slit in the wall, and through that, both night and day, a soldier always looked at me.” He says, “I could not rest, I could not eat nor drink, nor do anything in comfort, because there was always that eye-an eye that seemed never to be turned away, and never shut-always following me round that little apartment. Nothing ever hidden from it.” Now take home that figure. Recollect that is your position; you are shut in by the narrow walls of time, when ye eat and when ye drink, when ye rise and when ye lie upon your beds; when ye walk the streets or when ye sit at home, that eye is always fixed upon you. Go home now and sin against God, if ye dare; go home now and break his laws to his face, and despise him, and set him at nought! Rush on your own destruction: dash yourselves against the buckler of Jehovah, and destroy yourselves upon his own sword! Nay, rather “turn ye, turn ye.” Turn ye, ye that hath followed the ways of sin, turn ye to Christ, and live; and then the same Omniscience which is now your horror, shall be your pleasure. Sinner ! if thou now dost pray, he seeth thee; if thou now dost weep he seeth thee. “When he was yet a great way off his father saw him, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him." It shall be even so with thee, if now thou turnest to God and dost believe in his Son Jesus Christ.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 5, 1857, BY THE
REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK.
“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh ?"-Galatians iii. 3.
Yes, we are just so foolish. Folly is bound up not only in the heart of a child, but in the heart of even a child of God; and though the rod may be said to bring folly out of a child, it will take many a repetition of the rod of affliction upon the shoulders of a Christian before that folly is taken out of him. I suppose we are all of us very sound as a matter of theory upon this point. If any should ask us how we hope to have our salvation worked in us, we should without the slightest hesitation aver our belief that salvation is of the Lord alone, and we should declare that, as the Holy Spirit first of all commenced our piety in us, we look alone to his might to continue and to preserve, and at last to perfect the sacred work. I say we are sound enough on that point as a matter of theory, but we are all of us very heretical and unsound as a matter of practice; for alas! you will not find a Christian who does not have to mourn over his self-righteous tendencies; you will not discover a believer who has not at certain periods in his life, to groan because the spirit of self-confidence has risen in his heart, and prevented him from feeling the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit - has led him to put his confidence in the mere strength of nature, the strength of good intentions, the strength of strong resolutions, instead of relying upon the might of God the Holy Spirit alone. This one thing I know, brethren, that whilst as a preacher I can tell you all, that the Holy Spirit must work all our works in us, and that without him we can do nothing, yet as a man I find myself tempted to deny my own preachings, not in my words, but to deny them in fact by endeavouring to do deeds without looking first to the Holy Spirit. Whilst I should never be unsound in the didactic part of it, yet in that part which concerns the working of it out, in common with all that love the Lord Jesus, but who are still subject to the infirmities of flesh and blood, I have to groan that I repeatedly find myself, having begun in the Spirit, seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. Yes, we are just as foolish as that ; and my brethren, it is well for us if we have a consciousness that we are foolish, for when a man is foolish and knows it, there is the hope that he will one day be wise: to know one's-self to be foolish is to stand upon the doorstep of the temple of wisdom; to understand the wrongness of any position is half way towards amending it; to be quite sure that our self-confidence is a heinous sin and folly, and an offence towards God, and to have that thought burned into us by God's Holy Spirit, is going a great length towards the absolute casting