A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 7/19/2011*7/19/2011
To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison house. (Isaiah 42:7)
1. On a former occasion we contemplated the unconverted man as being bound by the cords of his sins. (See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 915, “Sinners Bound with the Cords of Sin” 906) It was a very solemn and sorrowful topic. I trust it humbled us all, and made those of us whom the Son has made free, feel renewed gratitude for the glorious liberty of the children of God. Sad was the spectacle of the dungeon and the fetters, and the felon bound with them, a man, a brother, the image of ourselves. It is a great relief to turn to another subject akin to that, but full of cheerfulness and joy. We showed you the prisoner: now we have to speak of him who came to set the prisoners free. We described the captive’s cords and bonds; now we have to tell you about him whose mighty touch liberates the bondslaves, and signs the Magna Carta of eternal emancipation. The case of manhood bound like Prometheus to the rock, and preyed upon by the vulture of hell, appeared utterly hopeless, and the more so because the prisoner was his own fetter, and disdained to be free. After all that has been done for man, by the tenderness of God, the simplicity of the gospel, and the clear and plain command; yes, and after all the thunders of threatening, followed by the wooing notes of mercy, the captive still continues as the willing slave of sin, and his liberation appears utterly hopeless. But things impossible with men are possible with God, and where human agency fails, divine agency delights to illustrate its own extraordinary energy. We gladly survey at this time the effectual operations of Jesus the Saviour, the true Victor Emmanuel, who comes to set men free from the bondage of their sins, to whose name be honour and glory world without end.
2. I. Looking at the first verses of this chapter, we shall consider WHO IT IS THAT SENDS JESUS CHRIST TO ACCOMPLISH THE LIBERATION OF THE SONS OF MEN, because much will depend upon the liberator’s credentials, the authority by which he is warranted, and the power by which he is backed.
3. We sing for joy of heart as we see that the Infinite God himself commissioned the Lord Jesus to be the deliverer of men; and he did this, first, in his capacity as Creator. Read the fifth verse, and see the great author of the Redeemer’s commission: “Thus says Jehovah, he who created the heavens, and stretched them out; he who spread out the earth, and what comes from it.” He, then, who did not spare his own Son, but sent him out on the mission of love, is Jehovah, who has made the heavens a pavilion of azure, gilded with the sun, and bedecked with stars; the very same all sustaining One who bears up the pillars of the universe, and impels the earth in its majestic circuit. He who gave its lustre to every precious stone from the mine, its life to every blade of grass, its fruit to every tree, its motion to every beast and winged fowl — for all these may be said to come from the earth; it is he who sent the Incarnate God to open the two-leaved gates, and cut the bars of iron asunder, so that the slaves of Satan might escape from the thraldom of their sins. Jesus, the Son of God, comes armed with the power of the Creator himself. Rejoice, then, you who are lost, for surely the power which spoke all things out of nothing, can create you anew, although there is nothing of good within you to aid the godlike work. Rejoice, you who are marred and broken, like vessels spoiled upon the potter’s wheel, your great Creator puts his hand a second time to the work, and resolves to form you for himself so that you may proclaim his praise. He by whom you were made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth, is able by his mysterious working to create in you a new heart, and infuse into you a right spirit. Is there not hope for the dark chaos of your fallen nature, and that heart of yours which is now without form and void? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Is there any limit to his power? It is true your fellow creatures, no matter how highly exalted they may be by office or character, cannot regenerate you, the very idea is blasphemy against the prerogative of him who alone can create or destroy; but where the will of man, and blood, and birth all fail, the Spirit of the Lord achieves the victory. For so says the Lord, “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I create: for, behold, I create in Jerusalem a rejoicing, and in her people a joy.” What has John written in the book of his vision? Is it not to the same purpose? “He who sat upon the throne says, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ ” He who made the light can open your eyes. He who ordered the rivers to flow, can open springs of penitence within your souls. He who clothed the earth with verdure, can make your barren minds fruitful to his praise. If he piled those Alpine summits, balanced the clouds which float around them, and formed the valleys which laugh at their feet, he can still create within the little world of man thoughts that aspire to heaven, desires that ascend to the realms of purity, and good works which are the fair products of his Spirit. Has the Creator sent out a liberator to captive men? Then there is hope indeed!
4. He who sent out the Lord Jesus as his Elect One to restore our fallen race, also describes himself as the life giver; for returning to the fifth verse of the chapter before us, we read, “He who gives breath to the people upon it, and spirit to those who walk in it!” The Lord creates animal life: he puts breath into the nostrils of men and beasts; he gives also mental life — the life which thinks, imagines, doubts, fears, understands, and desires. All life comes from the central fountain of self-existence in the great I Am, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. This Eternal One, who has life in himself, has sent out his Son to give life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and he has girded him with his own power, “For just as the Father has life in himself; so he has given to the Son to have life in himself.” It is by the word of Jesus that the dead shall rise, “for the hour is coming, when all who are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come out.” Arrayed in such life giving power no case of human corruption can be beyond the Redeemer’s skill; even those who rot, like Lazarus, shall come out when he calls them, and the bonds of death and hell shall be released. Thus says the Lord of life: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes on him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.” The vision of Ezekiel’s valley has become a fact since Jesus has appeared; and it is no marvel that it should be so, since the Eternal and Everliving God has sent him. He can breathe the Holy Spirit into the dead soul, and give the heart that palpitates with penitence, and leaps with desires after God. He can give eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. All that belongs to life he can bestow — the hearing ear, the speaking tongue, the grasping hand. The great obstacle in his way is spiritual death, and since with a word he can remove it, the salvation of man is no longer a difficulty. Rejoice, you heavens; and be glad, oh earth; for among the graves of our sins, and into the very cemetery of our corruption, the Quickener has descended, and is quickening whomever he wishes.
5. Nor is this all for he who sent the Redeemer is represented in the sixth verse as the faithful God. “I the Lord have called you in righteousness”; that is to say, the God who sends Christ the Saviour is not one who plays with words, and having given a promise today, retracts it tomorrow. “He is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent.” His promises and purposes are immutable for they are founded in righteousness. He who has commissioned his chosen messenger is not unrighteous to forget his word. Has he said, and shall he not do it? Has he spoken, and shall it not come to pass? Hence, my dear brethren, every gospel promise has the stamp of the divine righteousness upon it so that you may know it to be true. Jesus assures us that, if we believe in him, we shall be delivered. God, who cannot lie, sets his seal to the promise. “He who believes and is baptised shall be saved,” is not only the declaration of Christ, but God himself confirms it. Then, “Amen, so let it be!” The vilest sinner who believes shall find life and pardon, acceptance and blessedness in Christ Jesus. You do not have to deal, oh trembler, with one who will interpret his promise at a lower value than you understand it; but you have to deal with One who means more than words can express, whose thoughts are as high above your thoughts, even when enlightened by his Word, as the heavens are above the earth. “ ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord: ‘though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ ” He who utters these words is the Lord, the faithful Promiser, who has sent Christ out, not to deceive you with specious pretences, but in very deed and truth to bring abundance of grace to those who trust him.
6. Reading further in the same verse, you will perceive that the ever blessed Sender of the Lord Jesus is omnipotent, for is it not added, “And will hold your hand, and will keep you?” by which is meant that God will give to the Mediator all his power. Christ is the power of God. Omnipotence dwells in him who once was slain, but now lives for ever, and he is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him. In the gospel of Christ there is an exertion of divine power as obvious as in the creation and in the upholding of the world. Here is our comfort under all the assaults with which the Christian faith is threatened, and under all the disappointments which the Christian church has undergone so far; Emmanuel, God with us, is still our strength. We are persuaded that the ultimate victory of the cross is absolutely certain, for “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” The creation was a work of omnipotence, and yet it was not accomplished all at once. The Lord could, if he had so willed it, have fashioned this habitable globe in one second of time, and have furnished all its places by a single word of his mouth. [Instead of this, we have reason to believe that he lingered in the first formation of it, in the beginning, when he created the heavens and the earth; and arranged and disarranged it many times before he came to the final constitution of it in the first six days of time, when he modeled it to be a suitable abode for man.] (a) Even then when he came to the final work, he did not build up chaos into the beautiful house of humanity in one day. The firmament did not divide the waters, nor the dry land appear above the seas at first. Not until the third day did the earth bring forth grass and the herb yielding seed, nor did sun and moon divide the empire of day and night until the fourth day had dawned; while the fowl that fly in the open firmament of heaven, and the living creatures that move in the waters, were created later. Everything was gradual. Step by step the Maker advanced, yet there was never anything less than omnipotence in every step of his progress. So, my brethren, the Lord might as easily have converted the whole world to Christ on the day of Pentecost as not, but his decrees had not so appointed. A step was taken in apostolic times, and the light shone forth in darkness; further on, the great division between the heavenly and the earthly became marked and clear, and the church rose like the dry land above the seas of sin, while the plants of the Lord’s right hand planting produced their seed and their fruit. Even now the appointed lights make the sky glad, and the time hastens on when the Lord shall more evidently bless his living ones, and say, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth”; but all is done by degrees as he appoints. Our impatience would gladly stand at the Eternal elbow, and say, “Master, complete your work, and let our eyes see the Second Adam in a world restored into a second Eden.” But he delays for awhile, and waits while his great appointed evenings and mornings fill up his week of glorious work. He delights in this noblest labour of his hands, and is not as the hireling who earnestly desires the evening so that his toilsome task may be ended. He lingers lovingly, and his longsuffering is salvation. The Lord’s decrees do not tarry so long by the divine reckoning, and according to the Lord’s own estimate, the end will come quickly, but to the presumptuous who dare to say, “where is the promise of his coming?” he seems to linger long. How blessed will be the grand finale of redemption work; then the morning stars shall sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy. The seventh day of redemption shall eclipse the Sabbath of nature, even as the new heavens and the new earth shall outshine the former: a river purer than Hiddekel shall water the new Eden, the tree of life of richer fruit shall grow in the midst of the garden, and then shall be fulfilled the saying which is written, “Sing, oh you heavens; for the Lord has done it: shout, you lower parts of the earth: break out into singing, you mountains, oh forest, and every tree in it: for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” As we read the promise, “I will hold your hand, and will keep you,” we see the certainty that the Saviour clothed with the all sufficiency of divine strength, will accomplish the work of human salvation. Be of good cheer, oh children of God, and comfort yourselves with the belief, “that he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” His church has no reason for fear, but every reason for confidence concerning her future. Rejoice, oh daughter of Zion; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of you.
Fear not, though many a mighty foe
Against thy walls advance;
Jehovah’s arm will lay them low
For thy deliverance.
Oh, take him at his royal word
That word which cannot lie
Thy shield and sword is Israel’s Lord,
7. I know you will tell me, “Most men say that the world will end in a few years; is it not written that the Bridegroom comes quickly?” Yes, but remember that almost two millennia ago it was written that he would come quickly, and there have been prophets in all ages who have concluded from this that the end was near, while many believers have been like the Thessalonians, to whom Paul wrote: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together to him, that you are not soon shaken in mind, or are troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as though the day of Christ is at hand.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1,2) We have been instructed by certain pretended expositors to expect the time of the end for the last seven years, and yet it is possible that it may not arrive for the next seventy thousand years. Perhaps human history, as yet written, is only the first stanza of a wondrous poem, which shall be unfolded page by page for many an age to come, and it may be possible far more rapturous strains of divine mercy and grace in the conversion of men are yet to be read by angels and glorified spirits. If it is so it will still be true that he comes quickly, for what will time be compared with eternity? Even if the time taken up by the world’s history is not a brief six thousand years, but sixty thousand times six thousand years, yet it will be only as a drop in a bucket compared with the years of the right hand of the Most High, the lifetime of the Ancient of Days. Fight on hopefully, my brethren, and do not be distressed with rumours of times and seasons, but believe this, that God is, in Christ Jesus, reconciling the world to himself, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Watch daily for the Lord’s coming, but still struggle to advance his empire, for “he shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” The Lord has not withdrawn his hand from his “elect, in whom his soul delights.” He will subdue nations before him, he will loosen the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates. With such a deliverer so gloriously upheld, there is no room for fear of failure. Our hope and faith joyfully rest in him to whom the Eternal gives his almightiness by which to subdue all things to himself.
8. II. We will now advance a little further, the Lord helping us. Having contemplated the glorious One who sent Jesus to the work of man’s emancipation, let us, in the second place, consider the SENT ONE HIMSELF.
9. We have him described in the first verse of this chapter, and the first words which we will select from the description inform us that Jesus is a chosen one. “My elect, in whom my soul delights.” God has been pleased to set apart his well beloved Son to be the Saviour of sinners, and in every way he is most suitable. As man he is supremely adapted for the work; no one else born of woman was suited for the enterprise. Born in a particular manner, without taint or blemish, he alone of mankind possessed the holy nature needed to make him God’s messenger of love. I tried to show just now that God has clothed our Lord with his omnipotence, and this ought to lead every sinner to feel that Christ can save him, for what can Omnipotence not do? We may not speak of impossibilities or even difficulties when we have almightiness before us. No sinner can be difficult to save, no bonds hard to remove, when God, the Almighty One, comes out to save. Now look at the other side of the picture, and remember that Christ Jesus was the most suitable person in whom the Father could place the fulness of his saving power. In his complex person he is adapted to stand as mediator between God and man in every way. He who laid help upon one who is mighty, and exalted one chosen from the people, was guided by infallible wisdom in his choice. No one else was as suitable as he; in fact there was no one else. “Other foundation can no man lay than what is laid.” No man can open any other door of hope except what God has opened in the person of Christ. Oh sinner, I beseech you accept what God has wisely chosen. Let God’s choice be your willing choice. At this hour, constrained by the grace of God, say, “If God has chosen the Lord Jesus to be a propitiation for sin, my heart accepts him as the atonement for my sin, feeling that he alone can save me.” If you elect the Lord’s elect One, you shall find him to be precious.
10. But we are also told in the first verse that the Lord Jesus is anointed to this work, as well as the chosen one for it. “I have put my Spirit upon him.” Now, the Holy Spirit is the greatest of all influences in the world of the mind. It is he who can illuminate, persuade, and control the spirits of men. He does as he wishes with the mind, even as in the first creation the Lord worked as he wished with matter. Now, if Jesus Christ has the fulness of the Holy Spirit resting upon him, it is not supposable that any sinner shall be so desperately enslaved that he cannot set him free. We are about to speak of blind eyes to be opened, but in the light of the Holy Spirit what eye needs to remain blind? We shall speak of captives to be liberated, but with God’s free Spirit to release him what soul needs to be bound? Bold men have taught doctrines which have emancipated the minds of their fellows from the slavery of superstition, but the Holy Spirit’s teachings deliver minds from bondage of every kind, and make men free before the living God. Trembling sinner, accept Christ as your Saviour; God appoints him; God anoints him. Are not these two reasons sufficient to make him acceptable to your soul?
11. Furthermore, the Redeemer is spoken of as being gentle and lowly of heart, which should commend him much to every lowly and contrite spirit. “He shall not break a bruised reed, and he shall not quench the smoking flax.” We need a Saviour who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and Jesus is such. Souls conscious of sin are very tender, and agitated with many fears; to cure a wounded conscience is no fool’s work, but very demanding labour for the most experienced physician. Then see how suitable Christ is. He never yet said an unkind word to a soul that desired to find mercy at his hands. In the records of his life you may find him to test, but you shall never see him repel an anxious spirit. When feeble faith could only touch the hem of his garment still power flowed from him. When the leper said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean,” it was only poor faith, but that faith saved him. Though you cannot yet believe as you wish, yet say, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief,” and he will not reject you. Look at the smoking candle wick which yields no light, but makes much offensive smoke; yet, perhaps, a living fire lingers in it, and therefore the tender Saviour will not quench it, but will even fan it to a flame. And that bruised reed, how it mars the music of the pipes; draw it out and break it. So would men do, but not so the sinner’s Friend. He makes it perfect yet again, and pours the music of his love through it. Oh you who are utterly worthless in your own esteem, only fit to be thrown away, unfit to live and unfit to die, Jesus Christ, the gentle One, will give you mercy, if you seek him, and in giving he will not upbraid you. Oh wandering child, Jesus will introduce you to his Father, who will kiss you with the kisses of his love, and take off your rags of sin, and clothe you with glorious robes of righteousness. Only come to him, for he is such a one that he cannot reject you. “How can I come?” one says. A prayer will bring you; an anxious desire will be as a chariot for you. A trust in him has brought you, and Christ is yours, if you accept him now. If your soul is truly willing to have Christ, Christ has made you willing, and has already begun to set you free. May these thoughts concerning the great Emancipator cheer you on to confidence in him.
12. One more thought on this point. The Christ who has come to save the sons of men is persevering to the last degree. “He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, until he has set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” Men are unwilling to be saved; they do not desire to be brought out of their prison houses; but Jesus Christ will not cease to teach, nor cease to seek, nor cease to save, until every one of his elect is redeemed from the ruin of the fall, and until a multitude beyond all number shall surround the Father’s throne. I tell you, soul, if Christ wills to save you, he will save you. He will track your footsteps, wherever you may wander. If you should escape time after time from the arrows of conviction, and plunge again and again into sin, still he will seek you out and find you. Oh do not delay, but yield to his power! I pray that he may stretch out his sovereign arm at this moment, and rescue you from yourself. If your heart were as adamant, or as the nether millstone, he can dissolve it with a touch. Oh that the rock breaking hammer would come down upon you now! He is mighty to save; may he prove his mightiness in you!
13. III. It is time that we expound the text itself, and review THE WORK ITSELF.
14. According to the text, the Messiah’s work of grace is divided into three parts, of which the first is, to open the blind eyes. Here is a notable work which brings much glory to our Lord. Man’s understanding is perverted from the knowledge of God, from a true sense of sin, from a realisation of divine justice, from a right estimate of salvation. The understanding, which is the eye of the soul, is darkened. But when the anointed Saviour comes, he removes the scales of our mental ophthalmia, and in the light of God we see light, and then the sinner is humbled and bowed down, for he perceives his guilt and the justice of God. Moreover, he is filled with alarm, for he sees the bleeding Saviour bearing Jehovah’s wrath, and correctly concludes that in every case sin must receive a penalty of wrath; for if sin laid on Christ was punished, how much more must personal sin involve banishment from the presence of the Most High? The sinner is then made to see that the only way in which sin can be removed is through the expiatory sufferings of a substitute. He is led to see that the atonement avails for him upon his believing. He is led to understand what believing is. He does believe; he trusts, and then in trusting he is made to see the completeness of pardon, and the glory of the justification which comes to us by faith in Jesus Christ. You may think that this is an easy thing for men to see, trained in the doctrine of it from their childhood, and hearing it incessantly from the pulpit; but, believe me, simple as it seems to be, no man receives it unless it has been given to him from heaven. We may say to each one who has seen all this, “Blessed are you, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you.” Many of us heard the gospel from our childhood, but until the Holy Spirit explained to us what it was to be a sinner, and what it was to believe in Jesus, we did not even know the rudiments of the gospel. We were in darkness ourselves, though the light shone all around us; and well might we be, for our eyes were not opened. When Jesus came we saw it all, and we understood the mystery. Our once blind eyes clearly saw ourselves as lost, and Christ suffering instead of us; we believed in him, our sins disappeared, and we were accepted in the Beloved. My dear friend, if you are seeking rest, I pray the Lord to open your eyes to see the simplicities of the gospel. One touch of his finger will make you wise to salvation. There is no need for you to study the twenty-one folio volumes of Albertus Magnus, or even the fifty-two volumes of John Calvin, for the whole secret of the gospel lies in these few words, “Believe and live”; yet you cannot open the treasure chest unless the Lord gives you the secret key. It needs an opened eye to see even through a glass window; the clear witness of the gospel is dark to blind eyes.
15. The next work of the Messiah, according to the text, is to bring out the prisoners from the prison. This, I think, relates to the bondage of a man to his sins. Habits of sin, like iron nets, surround the sinner, and he cannot escape their meshes. The man sins, and imagines that he cannot help sinning. How often do the ungodly tell us that they cannot renounce the world, cannot break off their sins by righteousness, and cannot believe in Jesus? Let all men know that the Saviour has come on purpose to remove every bond of sin from the captive, and to set him free from every chain of evil. I have known men to strive against the habit of blasphemy, others against unchaste passions, and many more against a haughty spirit, or an angry temper; and when they have striven manfully but unsuccessfully in their own strength, they have been filled with bitter chagrin that they should have been so betrayed by themselves. When a man believes in Jesus his resolve to become a freeman is to a great extent accomplished at once. Some sins die the moment we believe in Jesus, and trouble us no more; others hang on to us, and die by slow degrees, but they are overcome so as never again to get the mastery over us. Oh struggler after mental, moral, spiritual liberty, if you wish to be free, your only possible freedom is in Christ. If you wish to shake off evil habits or any other mental bondage, I shall prescribe no remedy for you except this, to commit yourself to Christ the Liberator.
The gates of brass before him burst,
The iron fetters yield.
Love him, and you shall hate sin. Trust him, and you shall no more trust yourself. Submit yourself to the sway of the incarnate God, and he will break the dragon’s head within you, and hurl Satan beneath your feet. Nothing else can do it. Christ must have the glory of your conquest of self. He can set you free from sin’s iron yoke. He never failed yet, and he never shall. I earnestly entreat any man who desires to break off his sins (and we must break them off or perish by them), to try this divine remedy, and see if it does not give him holy liberty. Ask the thousands who have already believed in Jesus, and their testimony will confirm my doctrine. Faith in the Lord Jesus is the end of bondage and the dawn of freedom.
16. The last part of this divine work is, bringing those who sit in darkness out of the prison house. We will refer this to those who are truly emancipated, and yet by reason of despondency sit down in the dark dungeon. We have in our pastoral duties constantly to console people who are free from their sins, having by divine grace gained the mastery over them, but yet they are in sadness. The door is open, the bars are broken, but with strange obstinacy of despondency they remain in the cell of fear, in which there is no necessity for them to continue for a moment. They cannot believe that these good things are true for them. Are they forgiven? They could believe everyone else to be pardoned except themselves. Are they made the children of God? No, they could hope for their sisters; they have joy in knowing that their father is a child of God, but as for themselves — can such blessings really fall to the lot of such unworthy ones? We have spoken with hundreds of such and tried to console them, but we have only learned our own unskilfulness in the art of consolation. They are rich in inventions for self-torture, ingenious in escaping comfort. But, ah! the blessed Master of our souls, whose business it has been since Adam fell to bind up broken hearts, is never foiled. When his eternal Spirit comes to anoint with the oil of joy, he soon gives beauty for ashes. The mournful sentinel of the night watches must rejoice when the day breaks and the Sun of righteousness shines forth.
17. Although I speak to you in very common place language, yet the theme is rich. This one thought alone ought to make our hearts dance for joy, to think that the Christ of God undertakes to lift up desponding and despairing spirits into hope and joy once more. I know who will rejoice to hear this. It is that good woman, who these many years has been in spiritual bondage. It is that young man, who has carried a secret burden month after month. It is that aged man, who longs to find Christ before he gathers up his feet in his deathbed, and who thinks that his hour of grace has passed. Man, it is not so. Christ is still mighty to save. Still the message runs: “He who believes on him is not condemned.” “Whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and he who has no money; come, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Prisoners of hope, your liberator is near at hand. Trust him and be free. Although it may seem to be a venturesome believing, yet venture on him. He cannot and will not reject you; he will proclaim a jubilee, and set each bondslave free.
18. See, then, how the great Redeemer blessed us: Jesus the Christ does all things well; he clears the understanding; he breaks the power of sinful habits; he removes the load of despondency; he does it all. Christ Jesus, Mary’s son and Jehovah’s son; man, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, yet God over all, blessed for ever; he who died on Calvary, whose precious blood is the panacea for all human ills, it is he, and he only, who is the Liberator of our fallen race.
19. IV. WHAT IS THE INTENTION OF GOD IN ALL THIS?
20. This question is answered in the next verse after the text: “I am the Lord: that is my name: and I will not give my glory to another.” The great purpose of God in Christ was the revelation of his own glorious attributes — a simple truth, but full of comfort, for should the sinner who has been an atrocious offender against human and divine laws conceive himself to be an improper subject for the grace of God, I would take him by the hand, and lest despair drives him to further sin, I would put this truth clearly before him. Where is mercy most glorified? Is it not in forgiving the greatest offences? You have great offences; there is room in you for mercy to be greatly displayed. Where is grace glorified? Is it not in conquering the most violent passions? You have such; grace may therefore be glorified in you. Why, great sinner, instead of not being a proper subject for grace, I will venture to say that you are in all respects one of the most suitable. There is elbow room in you for grace to work. There is room in your emptiness for God’s fulness. There is a clear stage in your sinfulness for God’s superabounding grace. But you have been a ringleader in the devil’s army. Yes, and how can God strike a more telling blow against the hosts of darkness than by capturing you? But you tell me that you are an enormous sinner. How will the Lord of love encourage other sinners to come better than by calling you? For it will be rumoured among your fellow sinners: — “Have you heard that such a one is saved?” I know they will jeer, but still, in their secret hearts, they will think it over, and they will say, “How is this?” and they will be led to enquire into the ways of God’s grace. A brother told the church, a short time ago, a little of his history, and it caused us all to rejoice in sovereign grace. He had lived in all manner of sin and iniquity; his profession had been for some years that of a public runner, (b) and in that course of life he was brought into collision with the scum of society. He was practised, also, in the art of fighting, and that, we all know, is the very opposite of having an elevating tendency. But he came to the Tabernacle, and here Jesus met him, and he now rejoices to teach to others the gospel which he once rejected. But what do you think he has been accustomed to do these last three years? Some of our brethren preach in the streets, and he goes with them, and after they have told of what the grace of God can do, he humbly and yet boldly rises and says, “I am a living witness to what grace can do; I can declare to you what God’s love has done for me.” If the sermon which precedes his little speech has not interested the people, they are quite certain to be struck with his personal testimony, for in some localities many of the street folk know him, and as they look at him they say, “Why, that is old so and so. I knew him when he was this and that, and here he is converted”; and his witness bearing works mightily among his old friends and acquaintances. I say, then, if I now speak to any other who has been a great offender, a drunkard, or whatever else, if my Master only sets you free and enlists you in his army, there will be such a shout go up in the hosts of Israel as shall make heaven ring, while the Philistines shall tremble, for their Goliath shall be slain, and a new champion raised up from his dead body to fight for the Lord of hosts. If the Lord saved men because of their merits, there would be no hope for great sinners, nor indeed for any one; but if he saves us for his own glory, so that he may magnify his grace and his mercy among the sons of men, then no one needs to despair. Up to the very gates of hell I would preach the gospel, and between the jaws of death I would proclaim it. If God sets the captives free to glorify his grace then why should not the most hell deserving sinner, whose heart is like hardened steel, still become a monument of Christ’s power to save? I remember one who used to say that if God would only have mercy on him he should never hear the end of it, and it may well be the resolve of all of us, that earth and heaven shall never hear the end of our praises if only grace shall save us. As one of our hymns puts it —
Then loudest of the crowd I’ll sing,
While heaven’s resounding mansions ring
With shouts of sovereign grace.
Yes, each of us will sing loudest, each owing most, each desiring, therefore, to bend the lowest and to praise the most heartily, the grace which has set us free.
21. Time flies with us; days are rushing past; years are hastening away. How long shall it be before Christ shall gain your hearts? How long shall you hear about him, and continue to refuse his grace? How long, you unconverted ones, will you hug your chains and kiss your fetters? “Turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, oh house of Israel?” “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isaiah 42]
(a) Bracketed text indicates that as brilliant as Spurgeon was, even he did not understand the age of the earth issue. Editor.
(b) Public Runner: A public broker responsible for the fair exchange of merchanise. This is our best guess based on an extensive internet search. Editor. See Explorer "http://www.correduriapublica4.com/en/corredorpublico.html"
(See Spurgeon_Sermons “Publications” 3566 @@ "Treasury Of David")
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