DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,




                        “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” — Hosea 4:17. 


TO what purpose these vast assemblies Sabbath after Sabbath? Why crowd

ye these aisles and galleries till every seat is occupied, and every foot of

standing room is filled? Have ye all of you a zeal to worship? Do ye all

thirst to hear the word of the Lord? Ah me! I am beset with fears and

misgivings. My heart is troubled for full many of you. Many persons

entertain the evil notion that preaching sermons and hearing sermons is a

light matter. When the occasion is past, the exhortation closed, the

congregations broken up and the Sunday over, they think that all is done

and ended. The doors are shut, and what they have heard they no longer

heed any more than if they had been at the playhouse, and the curtain had

fallen, and the lights were out. To them the Sabbath is but as another day,

and the preacher but an orator who helps them to while away an hour. But

it is not so. Whether we look for a result from the proclamation of God’s

word or not, be ye sure God looks for it. No man in his senses sows a field

without looking for a harvest. No man engages in trade without expecting

profit. Oh, sirs! God is not mocked. He does not send his word that it may

return unto him void; neither does he think that it is enough when his

servants have been as those who make pleasant music, or sing a sweet

song, though the audience may repair to the sanctuary as they would go to

a theater, content to be pleased and careless about being profited. Hear ye,

then, this solemn lesson. For every Sabbath day that I occupy this place I

shall have to give an account before God. My fidelity to my congregation is

of such solemn moment that were it not for the infinite mercy of God in

Christ Jesus, I feel it had been better for me that I had never been born,

than to have to render in that account. Oh, the faults of which I am myself

personally conscious! they fill me with shame, though they are, I fear, but

few compared with what God himself beholds in the service I attempt to


render. But, then, you also will have to answer every sermon you have

heard or may yet hear. Dare any of you imagine that an opportunity of

hearing the gospel is given to you that you may tread it under foot? Oh,

what would dying men give to hear the gospel again! What would lost

souls in hell give if they could have the opportunities of grace back again!

They are priceless beyond all estimate, and, as they are so precious, a strict

account will be taken of them. The hearer who Event his way and said, “I

heard the sermon, and I formed a judgment of the preacher’s style,” and

flippantly quoted tills or that, will find that another view of the service has

been taken by Almighty God, and another form of reckoning will be carried

out before his judgment seat. Do you suppose that the preaching of the

gospel is no more than the performance of a play? Or shall men come and

listen to the truth as it is in Jesus, preached earnestly to then, with less

concern than to an orator in Parliament? Are death and judgment, heaven

and hell, to be looked upon as common themes, which awaken nothing but

a passing interest? You may judge so if you will; but neither do God’s

servants dare to think so, nor does God himself so think. The text suggests

these enquiries. It appears that the Ephraimites, or rather the whole people

of Israel, the ten tribes, had been warned again and again and again, and

because they did not turn at the warning-, but refused the message of God,

and continued in their sin, at last God was provoked with them, and he said

to his servants, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone — no longer

waste your powers on careless minds. On such a rock as that it is vain to

plough. The case is become utterly hopeless, cease your labor. Go

somewhere else where your hallowed occupation will be more

remunerative, where hearts will be touched, and ears will be opened to the

word. Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.”

Fearing lest there may be some in this congregation — nay, being

persuaded that there are some on the verge of being such, I shall try to

speak, first, upon the sin which provoked this punishment, then upon the

strange punishment itself; and thirdly, upon such practical reasoning as

arises out of the whole subject.



man alone”? The sin appeared to be, in Ephraim’s case, continuance in

idolatry. Israel had set up idols. They knew the Lord; but when they

separated from the tribe of Judah, Jeroboam, in order to keep them from

going up to Jerusalem, set up the golden calves. It was not intended that

they should worship other gods, but the theory was, that they would

worship God, the true God, through the representation of an ox, which

represented power. It was a symbol which they conceived to be

appropriate and instructive, just as they tell us now-a-days, “We do not

want people to worship idols, but they are to worship Christ through a

representation of a cross, or of a man hanging on a crucifix; this will teach

them and assist their devotions. They are not to worship the image itself,

but to worship God through this image. Now, be it never forgotten that

this method of devotion is expressly forbidden in the law, and is contrary to

one of the ten commands. “Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven

image, nor the likeness of anything which is in heaven above, or in the

earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to

them nor worship them.” This command was disregarded, and the ten

tribes became practically the representatives of the Papist or Ritualist of the

present day. They worshipped God through images, and after a while they

went further (as this kind of superstition always does go further) — they

began to set up false gods and goddesses — Baal, Ashtaroth, and the like.

Thus at length they went aside altogether from the Most High. Prophet

after prophet came and said, “If you do this you will be visited with

judgments for it. The Lord our God is a jealous God, and can only be

worshipped in the manner which He has Himself ordained. If you essay to

worship Him in these new-fangled ways, with these devices and

superstitious ordinances of your own, He will be wroth with you, and will

smite you.” They listened not to these prophets. Even Elijah, that mightiest

of God’s messengers, gained but a slender hearing from them. Elisha, his

successor, was equally disregarded. Servant after servant of God’s

household came to them and admonished them in the name of the Lord. It

was all to no purpose. They despised the message, persecuted those who

delivered it, and in the sequel put many of them to evil deaths. So at last

the Lord said, “They are bound to their idols; they cling and cleave to them

with a morbid infatuation. Their heart is callous, their purpose stubborn,

they will never give them up; let my servants, therefore, return and refrain

themselves, and go no more to them. Ephraim is joined to idols: let him

alone.” I fear the like judgment will come upon the Ritualists of our time,

but I prefer to deal rather with you who hear me this day. To you, also, this

bitter foreboding is addressed, or ever your ears are deaf to counsel and

your conscience numb to reproof. Any vice deliberately harbored, any one

sin persistently indulged, may bring about this fearful result. God will speak

of you, then, not as an erring creature whom it is possible to reclaim, but as

a wretched outcast whom it is necessary to abandon. A man may be

overtaken with a fault. If he has been guilty of drunkenness his conscience

rebukes him. Falling into that sin once or twice, he has felt (as well he may)

that he has been degraded by it. Let that man continue — and I might

especially say, “Let that woman continue” (for the common use or the

constant abuse of intoxicating drinks exerts its baneful spell over both

sexes) — let any one continue to violate the laws of sobriety, and ere long

that sin will become a rooted habit. Then conscience will cease to accuse,

and God will practically say, “Ephraim is given to his cups: let him alone!”

Or let a man begin some practice of fraud in his business. At first it will

trouble him: he will feel uneasy. By-and-by his systematic dishonesty will

bring him no compunction. He will become so familiar with crime that he

will call it custom, and wonder how ever he could have been so chickenhearted

as to feel any trouble about it at all. God will let him alone, and

leave him to eat the fruit of his own ways. He is given to his sin, and his sin

will bind him with iron chains and hold him a captive. I cannot, of course,

pick out the special sin of any here present, but whatever your sin is, you

are warned against it. Your conscience tells you it is wrong. If you

persevere in it, it may come to be your ETERNAL RUIN!   God will say, “The

man is joined unto idols: let him alone!” Continuance in sin provokes sentence;

especially when that continuance in sin is perpetrated in the teeth of many

admonitions. A person who continues in sin, unwarned, may,

comparatively, have but little fault, compared with another who is

frequently and faithfully rebuked. The child who in his early sinfulness was

affectionately admonished by a gracious mother, who felt the hot drops of

her tears fall on his brow, because his offense had grieved her, the child

who was again and again admonished, when he had grown somewhat

older, by a faithful father, but laughed to scorn paternal teaching and went

further and further astray, does not sin at all so cheaply as the Arab of the

streets, who has been poisoned by bad example from his youth up. Some of

you who have sat under the sound of the gospel, where the word is

preached in awful earnestness, will sin ten times more grievously if you

despise the exhortations of the Lord, than those whose Sabbaths were

wasted by listening to sermons which never touched their conscience, and

never were intended to do other than lull the moral sense and charm the

taste. You, young man, cannot have been warned as you have been of late

by that kind friend, you cannot have been admonished as you have been

lately by that book you have been reading, which has deeply impressed

you, you cannot have been impressed as you have recently been by the

example, and especially by the dying words, of your departed sister, and

then go on as you used to do, without incurring sevenfold guilt.

Continuance in sin after admonition is that which provokes God to say,

“He is joined to his idols: let him alone.”


Remember, too, that where a man becomes guilty of despising the

chastisements of God, and perseveres in his wickedness after having

suffered for it, there again the guilt assumes a double dye. For instance, the

sailor has been profane, a common swearer, and at whatever port he has

touched he has spent his time in riotous living. But the other day he was at

sea in a tremendous storm, and then he cried unto God. He escaped, as it

were, by the skin of his teeth, and while he was being saved from

impending death, his heart trembled on account of his guilt. Now, if that

man, after being saved from shipwreck, goes back to blasphemy and

debauchery again, there will be sharp reckoning with him. That soldier who

has been in the hospital, laid aside by sickness brought on by his own folly,

who, after his life was despaired of, has nevertheless recovered, if he shall

return like a dog to his vomit, every sin that he will commit will count for

many times as much as those sins he rebelled in before that warning. That

young man who left his father’s house in the country, where he had been

trained to virtue, and came to London, and plunged into its whirlpool of

vice, but who in the infinite mercy of God has been snatched like a brand

from the burning for a while, and is able again to come up to worship with

God’s people — if he should go back, like the sow that was washed to her

wallowing in the mire, woe be unto him! It may be that he will never have

God’s rod to make him smart again. The rod will be put up, and the axe of

justice will be used ere long. You know how the Roman lictors, as they

went through the street with the consul, carried a bundle of rods, and when

a culprit was brought before the consul, he would say sometimes, “Let him

be smitten with rods,” and they began to unbind the bundle. It was a rule

that the “fasces,” as they were called, should be tightly bound, so that it

would take a long time to unbind them. This was to give time for the

criminal to make confession, or to plead something as a mitigating

circumstance. Sometimes, where the case was one of treason, which

perhaps the culprit repented and confessed, he would be forgiven. They

would be for a while untying the knots, and the consul would look the man

in the face, to see if there were any signs of relenting, or if he were

altogether stubborn. Then when the rods were unbound, it was a good

thing for the criminal if the lictors began to smite him with the rods,

because that might be a token that he was not to die; but if the rods were

laid aside, and the axe brought forth, then it was known that he must die.

So God has smitten you in mercy. Fever and disease have been God’s

lictors that have used the rods upon you. By-and-by He will say, “Let him

alone,” because he is reserving you for the axe of future and inevitable

doom. Oh, sirs, the Lord knows all your hearts. Where are you? I may be

speaking right into the face of some of you who have endured many

afflictions, and been brought low by poverty and want, or by disease and

sickness, so that you have come to death’s door; and all this has been the

milder chastisement of God, by which he has been saying to you, “My

child, do not destroy yourself!” It has been the hand of mercy put upon the

bridle of that wild horse of yours, to draw him back, that he may not leap

with you over the precipice; but if you spur him on in defiance of the hand

of mercy, you will be permitted to take the leap to your own destruction,

for God may say, “He is joined to his idols: let him alone.”


Once again. This punishment may be brought, and generally is brought,

upon men when they have done distinct violence to their conscience.

Before sin has come to its worst, there is a great deal of struggling in

men’s minds. Conscience will not be quiet; it cries out against the

maltreatment which it suffers from ungodly lives. Many a young man,

especially if he has been well brought up, and many a young woman, too, if

she has been trained in religious ways, will have times in which they are

pulled up short, and it comes to this: “I have been wrong; if I go further in

this wrong I shall suffer for it. There is a way of grace; I see the door of

mercy open to me.” They have stood halting, as if a hand had been laid on

their shoulder, and they have felt as though they were turned from the

wrong and drawn into the right way. But they have fought against mercy,

and the evil spirit has set before them all the sparkle of fleshly lust and

worldly pleasure, and at last, with a desperate effort, they have dragged

themselves away to their sins again. Now, the next time they do that they

will not suffer half the compunction, and the next time they will have less

still, for every time conscience is violated it becomes less vigorous, and is

more easily tranquillized. I recollect an earnest Christian man telling me

how before conversion he used to spend his nights in shameful ways, and

frequently would be in the streets — though the son of a most respectable

man — in a state of half intoxication. As he stood under a lamp one night,

with his brain confused and his mind bewildered, he put his hand into his

pocket and took out a letter. By some strange impulse he was induced to

begin to read it. It was a tender appeal from a loving, pious sister.

Unwonted reflections cast their shadows across his breast. Taking counsel

with himself he thought, “Well, what is it to be? “He was sober enough

even then to feel as if he had come to a point. Revolving the matter, and

deliberating upon it, it pleased God to lead him to put that letter back into

his pocket, and say, “I will go home, and I will seek my sister’s God.” That

resolution proved to be the first step to his conversion:


“He left the hateful ways of sin,

Turned to the fold and entered in.”


Ever afterwards he came to regard this as the crisis of his soul’s history. He

said to me, “If that night I had gone elsewhere, and God’s Spirit had not

graciously led me there and then to something like decision, it may be that

it would have been the very last time my conscience ever would have

troubled me, and I should have gone headlong to destruction.” I wonder

whether such a time as that may have come to some of my hearers! If it be

so, O Eternal Spirit, throw in the weight of thine omnipotent influence to

decide the will of man for that which is good and right, and let not evil win

the day. Do you not see in the pictures I have drawn, and the descriptions I

have given, some delineation of that aggravated guilt which provokes the

withering blast of incensed mercy turned into wrath, which wails forth the

woe of my text, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone”?


II. Now, let me crave your earnest attention to THE SINGULAR

PUNISHMENT — “Let him alone.”

Is there anything in this to excite our surprise? The calamity is so dire that

we may well shudder at it; but the sentence is so just, and the issue so

reasonable, that we can only acknowledge it to be such as might have been

expected. What can be more natural? There is a piece of ground. Last year

it was manured, and it was sown with good seed, but nothing has come on

upon it. The year before the like pains were bestowed upon it. They

trenched it, and it has been thoroughly drained. There could not have been

better seed cast upon it than has been used. Yet nothing grew last year; no

harvest rewarded the labourer’s toil. Year-after year its hopeless

barrenness has vexed the husbandman’s soul. Farmer, what will you do this

year? “Do,” says he; “why, do nothing! What can be done with it? Let it

alone.” Is he not right in his verdict? Here is a man grievously sick; the

doctor called upon him, but they shut the door in his face; he called again,

and he gained access to the patient, and the patient cursed him. He called

again, and gave him a prescription, but he took up the prescription and tore

it in pieces, and flung it away. What do you mean to do, doctor? “What

can I do?” says he. “I must let him alone! What can I do? My services are

rejected. I am treated with insult! What more remains to me?” And here is

a sinner in danger of being lost. The Lord says to him, “Behold my Son! I

have anointed him to be a Savionr. If you trust him he will save you.” This

counsel is despised, it is thought nothing of, forgotten, neglected, put off,

in some cases scoffed at, made a matter of ridicule, treated with hatred;

and perhaps the deliverer of the message is made the subject of

persecution. What will God say? Why, “That is a case in which I will let

him alone! I sent his mother to him when he was a child, I sent his Sunday

School teacher to him, I sent a godly friend to him; I have sent my servant,

the minister, to him, times out of mind, I have put good books in his way

scores of times. It is all in vain! “Brethren, is there anything that can be

more reasonable or more just than for God on his part to say, “Let him

alone”? The tree never has brought forth any fruit! what need to waste any

more time upon it? It seems meet on God’s part that he should say, “Let

him alone.” Judge ye if it be not so!


Well, but what happens when a man is thus let alone? Why, he is as a great

many people would like to be. Liberty is given him; nay, let me collect

myself, he takes license to pursue his own course, he is no more “pestered

and bothered about religion; “he is no more fretted and worried in his

conscience about duties and obligations. God’s people begin to let him

alone, for, if they speak to him, he only growls at them and returns an

answer which grieves them at the heart; so they keep out of his way, or if

they do speak to him, their word, though given in earnest, is taken in jest;

like water on a slab of marble, the warning does not penetrate the surface

or affect his heart. He has got out of the way of being impressed. Now he

has no mother to trouble him; she has long slept under the green sod. He

has no poor old father now to talk to him about his sins; he has long been

carried to heaven. No minister disturbs him now, for he gives the servant of

God a wide berth and keeps clear of him. No books come in his way that

can at all alarm him; he will not open them if they do. Give him the Sunday

newspaper, that is enough for him; give him a book of science, or

something that has to do with this time state; having put his faith in

infidelity he fortifies his heart against fear, he takes care not to trouble

himself about religion. No qualms or questioning, no doubts or disputes

disturb him; no fierce temptations or fiery trials distract his peace.

Everything seems to go merrily and smoothly with him. He is the man to

make money; he is the jolly fellow that can indulge in sin with impunity, put

his hand into the fire and take it out again without being hurt, where

another would be badly burnt. He seems to wear a charmed life. God has

said, “Let him alone!” Those about him envy him: but if they knew! if they

knew! if they knew! if they knew that God had “set him in slippery places,”

(Psalm 73:18) and that “his foot will slide in due time” (Deuteronomy 32:35)

they would no more envy him his prosperity and peace than they would

envy the bullock that is fattening for the Christmas show, or the full-fleshed

sheep that is driven to the shambles.  HIS END IS DESTRUCTION!   

Perhaps I am speaking to some who are wrapping

themselves up quite complacently in the idea that the lines have fallen to

them in pleasant places, that fortune smiles on them, and their reputation is

in the ascendant; they would not wish to have their course altered, and yet

the terrible sentence has gone out against them, “Ephraim is joined to idols:

let him alone.” O men, I pity you from my Soul, but I fear you will ridicule

my sympathy. Alas! alas! I can but mourn in secret, for I see that your day

is coming.


I have shown you, then, what it is to be let alone by God. Do you ask,

now, What is the general result of it? Why, let me tell you, for the most

part it leads the man into greater sin than he had ever committed before; it

leads him to become more defiant and more boastful than aforetime. Very

frequently he becomes a scoffer and a skeptic; and not infrequently he

becomes intolerant to the poor, and a persecutor of those who fear the

Lord and observe His ordinances. Restraints are taken off from him; those

moral obligations which curbed him, and that respect for public opinion

which induced him to practice a little decency, he has renounced; they are

clean gone. Vain conceits fill the place of virtuous counsels. He violated

conscience, and conscience has left him; he wearied out those who rebuked

him, and they have ceased to reprove him, or if they rebuke him he turns a

deaf ear to their admonitions; he has become like the adder that cannot,

and will not, hear the wisest charmer. (Psalm 58:4-5)  So the man goes from

bad to worse, still with the full conceit that he is amongst the happiest and

most highly favored of mortals.


But here is the evil of it! The dreadful sound is in my ears. God has said to

all the agents that might do that man good, “Let him alone! “But wait a

while; he will not say that to the agents which can do him harm.


·         He has not said to the Devil, “Let him alone!”

·         He will not say to Death, “Let him alone!”

·         He will not say to Judgment, “Let him alone!”

·         nor will He say to the names of hell, “Let him alone!”

·         He will not say to infinite misery, “Let him alone!”


On the contrary, he will let loose all the destroying angels

against him, and the man who was let alone in sin shall not be let alone in

punishment. I cannot speak of this as I could wish. These are things to be

thought of and weighed in the soul; and I pray that you may so weigh them

that, if you have fallen into a state of indifference, you may be aroused out

of it, and resolve that it shall not be so any longer. Oh, that you would cry

out in terror, “God helping me, I will not be one of those of whom God

shall say, ‘Let him alone!’”



SUBJECT, to which I must now draw your attention.


It becomes the preacher, so long as he does not know the individual —

and this he never can know — to whom God has said, “Let him alone!” to

try and use the utmost endeavor to arouse every careless and indifferent

man within his reach. I pray the Spirit of God to help me while I try to do

so. Some of you are living in this world entirely for your own pleasure or

your own gain. I do not deny either that it is right that you should seek

gain, or that it is natural that you should desire pleasure; neither do I think

that attention to the things of God will deprive you of any gain that is

worth having, or of any pleasure that is desirable; but the sad thing is that

many of you are living as if there were no hereafter. Now, do you really

believe that there is no future in reserve for you? Because, if you are quite

persuaded that you are no better than a dog, if you are quite certain that

you are nothing but an animal, and that in due time, when you die, and the

worms eat you, there will be an end of you — why, sirs, if I were of the

same mind I should have but little to say to you. I should wish you to be as

virtuous as may be in this life, for that is the best way to be happy yourself

and to benefit the community; but I do not know that this is any particular

business of mine — I would leave that matter to the policeman and the

magistrate. But do you really suppose that you have no higher origin than

the flesh, and no further destiny than to mingle your dust with the mold of

the earth? Would you like me to speak to you as to a dog? Would you like

anybody to treat you as a dog? Being, as you say, only a dog, why should

you not be treated as such? Can you in your heart of hearts really believe

that the cemetery, and the shroud, and the sexton’s spade will be the last of

you? You do not believe it: you cannot believe it. You may try to persuade

yourself that the terrors of judgment to come are merely bugbears of the

imagination; but there is something within you, an irrepressible

consciousness of immortality, which tells you you will live after death. God

has fixed the conviction of a future state as a kind of instinct in men, so

that where the gospel has never come, a future state has been conjectured,

though for the most part but dimly inferred rather than distinctly expected.

There has scarcely been a heathen tribe so abject but they have had

glimmerings of the fact that there is another state after death. Well, my

dear sir, I cannot conceive that you have degraded yourself into the notion

that you are a beast — at any rate, I will not allow myself to think that you

are a beast. You will live somewhere or other after your present career is

closed. Does it not stand to reason that if you have lived entirely for self

there must be a reckoning with you? Somebody made you! God made you!

If you keep a horse or a cow you expect some service of it, and, if God

made you, he must expect you to render him some service. But you have

rendered him none. Though He has winked at your disobedience in this life,

do you think He will always wink at it? Well, if you do think so, you are

grossly mistaken: for, as the Lord liveth, there is a day of judgment

coming, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall descend from heaven with a

shout, and all the dead shall rise out of their graves, and all the living shall

appear before His great white throne. (God has given assurance to all men

that there will be a judgment in that Christ arose from the dead!  See Acts

17:31 – CY – 2020)  You will as certainly be there as you are here.

And when you are there, you will discover that every secret

thought of yours has been written down against you, and will be read out

and published before mankind, and there and then for every idle word you

have spoken you will be brought into judgment. Can you think of this as

possible, even though you may not admit that it is certain, and can you yet

remain callous, indifferent, unconcerned? Is there not a something in your

heart that says, “If this be so, it is terrible — it is terrible for me! What

must I do to be saved? “I am bound to answer you (and cheerfully do I

answer you), “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

Whosoever thou mayest be, however far thou mayest have gone astray,

trust Jesus, dying and bleeding for sinful men, and now gone into the

highest heavens to plead at the right hand of the infinite Majesty — trust

Jesus, and you shall live. But if you have not Christ to put away your sin,

to espouse your cause, and to plead for you in that last great day, as surely

as you live, whether you believe it or not, this is true, the Judge will say,

“Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell, prepared for the

devil and his angels.” And that may happen to you within much less time

than you dream. Not many Monday nights ago, there came a beloved

Christian sister here, who joined with us in prayer, she was taken ill, she

did not leave this house conscious, she was taken home with death upon

her, her disease proved to be past human aid, and in an hour or two she

died. I hope there will never be another death in this Tabernacle, but more

than once individuals have been thus called away from our very midst. Ere

this congregation shall have broken up, some of you may have gone to the

world of spirits. In all probability within this week, some one of you will be

summoned before the Great Judge. If it is you, sir, or if it is you, good

woman, are you ready? Are you ready? Do you feel no trouble about that

question? Then methinks you may be among those whom God has given

up. But if the question rings through your soul like a knell, and cuts like a

sharp knife, then I pray you do not think God has given you up; and do not

give yourself up, but FLY TO JESUS!  Ay, ere you lay your head upon the

pillow and fall asleep, cry mightily unto the living God to save you, so that

you may be His in the day when the earth and the heavens will be in a blaze,

and ungodly men will sink into perdition. That is the first practical

inference — it is the preacher’s duty to continue to warn men.


Another practical thought is — if any of you be aroused, do be obedient to

the voice of conscience and the calling of the Spirit. Oh, if you have any

life, do not attempt to stifle it! rather fan it to a flame! If you do but feel a

little of the pain of penitence, pray God that it may deepen into true

contrition and sincere repentance. If you feel anything, do not, I pray you,

repress the feeling, if it is anything of a spiritual kind. I knew when I was

seeking the Lord what it was to feel that. I would have given everything I

had to be able to repent; when on my knees I felt that if I could but have

shed a tear for sin, I would have been willing to be poor and blind my

whole life long. To have a hard heart is an awful thing! It is well, however,

when it can relent, and when the man can smite upon his bosom, with tears,

and sobs, and groans, and cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner! “If there is

any tenderness in you, oh, do not crush it out! do not despise it; look well

to it, and, above all, fly away to Christ at once. With many a man it is “now

or never.” Whenever you hear the clock tick, this is what it says to you,

“Now or never,” “Now or never,” “Now or never,” “Now or never.” Ah, if

some would hear that, it might be the means of driving them to the cross of

Christ at once, where they would find ETERNAL LIFE!  Dear young people

especially, do not postpone the thought of eternal things while you are

young and tender. Do not say, “When I have a more convenient season I

will send for thee.”


“’Tis easier work when we begin

To serve the Lord betimes.”


Where grace comes into the heart while the heart is yet young and tender,

there is less struggling against it in most cases, and it is a more cheerful

task for the soul to submit itself to the power of Christ. The Lord bless that

thought to you, and make it a converting power to your souls.

And, last of all, if there should be an unhappy individual here who says, “I

believe God has given me up” — let me ask thee a question, friend. Does

the suggestion of such a thing make you very sad? Then the Lord has not

given you up. Do you say, “I feel alarmed lest I am given up”? Then you

are not given up. He is more likely to be given up of God who says, “I do

not care whether I am or not! Give me my jolly companions, give me my

amusements, give me plenty of money to spend, and good health and

strength to enjoy myself, and you may have heaven if you like; I will run

the risk of the future.” Ah, sir, though you talk big, I do not believe in your

bravado, for I know that many braggadocio sinners are cowards at bottom,

and I hope, notwithstanding what you say, there is something in you that

answers to the appeals I have made. But there may be some who really

mean down deep in their souls that they have steeled themselves against

reproof (“He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly

be destroyed and that without remedy.”  Proverbs 29:1 – CY – 2020) and are

prepared to dare all consequences. They stand like oaks I

have seen shivered from top to bottom by lightning, never to send forth a

shoot again. Ghastly and grim amidst the forest they lift up their heads as

though they were huge deer with antlers, glorying in their desolation.

There are such withered souls, defiant in awful desperation. Oh I if there

are such here, if they were friends of mine I would say, “O man, be in pain

and travail like a woman with child rather than be damned! O man, better

for thee that thou shouldst from this moment begin a life of torment and

agony, and never look up to God’s sun again, and never see the fields, nor

hear the birds sing with joy, nor ever have a hopeful thought of this world

again, so that thou mayest but be saved, rather than go on with all thy

mirth and jollity, and then lift up thine eyes in that eternity to come, where

thou shalt be for ever, for ever, FOR EVER LOST; for, let those say what they

will, who are the enemies of your soul — I speak the truth before the Lord

if you are lost, you will be lost for ever; and if God once pronounces

that word, “Depart, ye cursed!” back to Him you can never come, but

departing, and departing, and departing into blacker night, and into denser

glooms you must for ever and for ever continue. This is the dread

inscription over the gate of hell:


                        “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!”


This is branded on their chains, and stamped upon their fetters; this is the

worm that never dieth, and the fire that never can be quenched. The letters

of fire that burn overhead in the dungeon of eternal despair spell out this

word, “Eternity! eternity! eternity!” O my fellow men, as I shall meet you

at the judgment seat, I implore you to fly away to Jesus, lest you perish

eternally. When your eyes and mine shall meet again in the next state, when

we have passed through the grave and the resurrection, do not say I did

not tell you of sin and of punishment, and of the Savior! You will not dare

to say it; but as I, poor guilty sinner as I am, stand there, this shall not be

one of the sins laid to my charge, that I was not in earnest with you, and

that I did not speak all that I felt to be the truth. To Jesus Christ I fly

myself on my own account, for if I be not washed in His blood, unhappiest

of mortals surely am I; for I have preached to more men for a larger

number of years than any other man, perhaps, that lives; and if I have

played with souls, I have their blood upon me, and the most accursed of

men am I. But I shelter my soul beneath the purple canopy of my Savior’s

atoning blood. My hearers, come under that same shelter, all of you. There

is room enough for you. That blessed purple covering will hang between us

and God, even though there were millions of us, and it will cover all. Nor

can there be any fear that the dart of divine vengeance shall smite any one

of us who will cower down beneath the blood-red propitiation. God save

you, sirs, who are strangers here! God save you, friends, who frequent

these courts! God save you all! for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.