MANASSEH.

 

            A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING,

                                    NOVEMBER 30, 1856,

 

                                                BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,

            AT THE MUSIC HALL, ROYAL SURREY GARDENS

 

“Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.” — 2 Chronicles 33:13.

 

MANASSEH is one of the most remarkable characters whose history is

written in the sacred pages. We are accustomed to mention his name in the

list of those who greatly sinned, and yet found great mercy. Side by side

with Saul of Tarsus, with that great sinner who washed the feet of Jesus

with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and with the

thief that died upon the cross — a forgiven sinner at the eleventh hour, we

are wont to write the name of Manasseh, who “shed innocent blood very

much,” and notwithstanding that, was forgiven and pardoned, finding

mercy through the blood of a Savior who had not then died, but whom

God foresaw should die, and the merits of whose sacrifice he therefore

imputed to so great a transgressor as Manasseh.

 

Without preface we shall enter on the history of Manasseh this morning,

and consider him in a three-fold light: first, as a sinner, then as an

unbeliever and thirdly, as a convert. It may be there shall be some

Manasseh within these walls now, and if in describing the case of this

ancient king of Israel I shall in some degree describe him, I trust he will

take to himself the same consoling truths which were the means of the

comfort of Manasseh when in the dungeon of repentance.

 

 

I. First, then, we shall consider MANASSEH IN HIS SIN.

 

1. And we note, first, that he belonged to that class of sinners who stand

first in the phalanx of evil — namely, those who sin against great light,

against a pious education and early training. Manasseh was the son of

Hezekiah, a man who had some faults, but of whom it is nevertheless said,

“He did right in the sight of the Lord.” To a great degree he walked before

God with a perfect heart, even as did David his father. We cannot suppose

that he neglected the education of his son Manasseh. He was the son of his

old age. You will remember that at a time of heavy sickness God promised

him that he should have his life prolonged fifteen years. Three years after

that event Manasseh was born, and he was, therefore, only twelve years

old when his father died; still he was old enough to remember the pious

prayer of a father and a mother, and had arrived at sufficient maturity to

understand right from wrong, and to have received those early impressions

which we believe are, in most cases, eminently useful for after-life. And yet

Manasseh pulled down what his father had built up, and built up the idol

temples which his father had pulled down. Now, it is a notorious fact, that

men who do go wrong after a good training are the worst men in the

world. You may not know, but it is a fact, that the late lamented murder of

Williams at Erromanga, was brought about by the evil doings of a trader

who had gone to the island, and who was also the son of a missionary. He

had become reckless in his habits, and treated the islanders with such

barbarity and cruelty, that they revenged his conduct upon the next white

man who put his foot on their shore; and the beloved Williams, one of the

last of the martyrs, died a victim of the guilt of those who had gone before

him. The worst of men are those who, having much light still run astray.

You shall find amongst the greatest champions of the camp of hell, men

who we’re brought up and educated in our very ranks. It is not necessary

that I should mention names; but any of you that are acquainted with those

who are the leaders of infidelity at the present time will at once recognize

the fact. And such men actually make the very worst of infidels; while the

best of Christians often come from the very worst of sinners. Our John

Bunyans have come from the pot-house and the tap-room, from the

bowling-alley, or places lower in the scale; our best of men have come

from the very worst of places, and have been the best adapted to reclaim

sinners, because they themselves had stepped into the kennel, and had

nevertheless been washed in a Savior’s cleansing blood. And so it is true

that the worst of the enemies of Christ are those who are nourished in our

midst, and like the viper of old, which the husbandman nursed in his

bosom, turned round to sting the bosom which has nurtured them. Such an

one was Manasseh.

 

2. In the next place, Manasseh as a sinner was a very bold one. He was

one of those men who do not sin covertly, but who, when they transgress,

do not seem to be at all ashamed, who are born with brazen foreheads, and

lift their faces to heaven with insolence and impudence. He was a man

who, if he would set up an idol, as you would see by reading this chapter,

did not set it up in an obscure part of the land, but put it in the very temple

of God; and when he would desecrate the name of the Most High, he did

not privily go to his chapel, where he might worship some evil deity, but he

put the deity into the very temple itself, as if to insult God to his very face.

He was a desperado in sin and went to the utmost limit of it, being very

bold, and desperately set on mischief. Now, whether it be for right or

wrong, boldness is always sure to win the day. Give me a coward — you

give me nothing give me a bold man, and you give me one that can do

something, whether for Christ’s cause or for the devil’s. Manasseh was a

man of this kind. If he cursed God, it was with a loud voice, it was not in

hole or corner, but upon his throne that he issued proclamations against the

Most High, and in the most daring manner insulted the Lord God of Israel.

And yet, dear friends, this man was saved, notwithstanding all this. This

greatest sinner, this man who had trampled on his father’s prayers, who

had wiped from his brow the tears which had been shed there by an

anxious parent, who had stifled the convictions of his conscience, and had

gone to an extremity of guilt, in bold, open, and desperate sin, yet this man

was at last, by divine grace, humbled and brought on his knees to

acknowledge that God was God alone. Let no man, therefore, despair of

his fellow. I never do, since I think and hope that God has saved me. I am

persuaded that, live as long as I may I shall never see the individual of

whom I can say, “That man is a hopeless case.” I may peradventure meet

with the person who has been so exhorted and so warned, and has so put

off all the sweet wooings of his conscience that he has become seared and

hardened, and consequently apparently hopeless; but I shall never meet a

man who has sinned so desperately that I can say of him he never can be

saved. Ah! no; that arm of mercy which was long enough to save me is

long enough to save you; and if he could redeem you from your

transgression, assuredly there are none sunk lower than you were and

therefore you may believe that his arm of mercy can reach them. Above all,

let no man despair of himself. Whilst there is life there is hope. Give not up

yourselves unto Satan’s arms. He tells you that your death-warrant is

sealed, that your doom is cast, and that you never can be saved Tell him to

his face that he is a liar, for that Jesus Christ “is able to save unto the

uttermost them that come unto God by him, seeing that he ever liveth to

make intercession for them.”

 

3. Again, Manasseh was a sinner of that peculiar caste which we suspect is

not to be found very frequently He was one of those who had the power of

leading others to a very large extent astray from the truth and religion of

God. He was a king, and had, therefore, great influence; what he

commanded was done. Among the ranks of idolators Manasseh stood first,

and it was the song and glory of the false priests that the king of Judah was

on the side of the gods of the heathen. He was the leader — the first man

in the battle. When the troops of the ungodly went to war against the God

of the whole earth, Manasseh led the vanguard, and cheered them on. He

was their great Goliath, challenging all the armies of the living God. Many

amongst the wicked stood back and feared the conflict; but he never

feared. “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast;” and

therefore he was bold and arrogant in leading others astray. There are

some such still alive — men not content with treading the broad road

themselves, but seeking to entice others into it. And O how active they are

in their efforts! They will go from house to house, and distribute those

publications which are impure and polluting; they will stand in our streets,

and endeavor to draw around them the young, ay, men and women just

fresh come from the house of God, or going to God’s sanctuary; to tell

them that dreary story that there is no God, or the dismal falsehood that

there is no future, but that we must all die like dogs and suffer annihilation.

There are some such who never seem to be happy unless they are leading

others astray. It is not enough for them to go alone against God, but they

must sin in company. Like the woman in the Proverbs, they hunt for

precious life, and like hounds thirsting for blood, they are seeking after

men to destroy them. Society now is like Prometheus it is to a great extent,

bound hand and foot by the very customs that surround us; and like

Prometheus, we have upon us the winged hound of hell perpetually tapping

at our heart and swallowing the life-blood of our spirit. I mean we have

that accursed infidelity which seeks to lead men from God and drive them

from their Maker. But, nevertheless, leaders amongst them have yet been

saved. Manasseh, the leader of those who hated God, was yet humbled,

and made to love the Most High.

 

Do you ask me whether such cases ever occur now? I answer, yes they do;

too rarely, but yet they do happen. Yesterday I received something which

cheered my heart very much, and made me bless my God, that

notwithstanding all opposition he had still made me of some little use in the

world. I received a long letter from a certain city, from one who has been

one of the leaders of the secular society in that place. The writer says, “I

purchased one of the pamphlets entitled ‘Who is this Spurgeon?’ and also

your portrait (or a portrait sold as yours) for 3d. I brought these home, and

exhibited them in my shop window. I was induced to do so from a feeling

of derisive pleasure. The title of the pamphlet is, naturally, suggestive of

caricature, and it was especially to incite that impression that I attached it

to your portrait and placed it in my window. But I also had another object

in view. I thought by its attraction to improve my trade. I am not at all in

the book or paper business, which rendered its exposure and my motive the

more conspicuous. I have taken it down now: I am taken down too. * * * I

had bought one of your sermons of an infidel a day or two previous. In that

sermon I read these words: — ’They go on, that step is safe — they take

it; the next is safe — they take it, their foot hangs over a gulf of darkness.’

I read on, but the word darkness staggered me. It was all dark with me.

“True, the way has been safe so far, but I am lost in bewilderment. No, no,

no, I will not risk it.” I left the apartment in which I had been musing, and

as I did so, the three words, ‘Who can tell?’ seemed to be whispered at my

heart. I determined not to let another Sunday pass without visiting a place

of worship. How soon my soul might be required of me I knew not, but felt

that it would be mean, base cowardly, not to give it a chance. Ay, my

associates may laugh, scoff, deride, call me coward, turncoat, I will do an

act of justice to my soul. I went to chapel; I was just stupified with awe.

What could I want there? The doorkeeper opened his eyes wider, and

involuntarily demanded, ‘It’s Mr. isn’t it?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘it is.’ He

conducted me to a seat, and afterwards brought me a hymn-book. I was fit

to burst with anguish. ‘Now’, I thought, ‘I am here if it be the House of

God, heaven grant me an audience, and I will make a full surrender. O

God, show me some token by which I may know that thou art, and that

thou wilt in no wise cast out the vile deserter who has ventured to seek thy

face and thy pardoning mercy.’ I opened the hymn-book to divert my mind

from feelings that were rending me, and the first words that caught my eyes

were

 

                        ‘Dark, dark indeed the grave would be

                        Had we no light, O God, from thee.’”

 

After giving some things which he looks upon as evidences that he is a true

convert of religion, he closes up by saying, “O sir, tell this to the poor

wretch whose pride, like mine, has made him league with hell. Tell it to the

hesitating and to the timid tell it to the cooling Christian, that God is a very

present help to all that are in need. * * * Think of the poor sinner who may

never look upon you in this world, but who will live to bless and pray for

you here, and long to meet you in the world exempt from sinful doubts,

from human pride, and backsliding hearts.” Ah, he need not ask my

forgiveness, I am happy, too happy, in the hope of calling him “brother” in

the Christian church. This letter is from a place many miles from this city,

and from a man who had no small standing among the ranks of those who

hate Christ. Ah, there have been Manassehs saved, and there shall be yet.

There have been men who hated God, who have leaped for joy, and said —

 

                        “I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven

                        I’m a miracle of grace,”

 

and have kissed the very feet which once they scorned and scoffed, and

could not bear to hear the mention of.

There is one fact concerning Manasseh which stamps him as being a very

prince of sinners, namely this: “He caused his children to pass through the

fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom,” and dedicated his sons unto

Tophet. This was a dreadful sin, for though Manasseh repented, we find

that his son Amon followed in the steps of his father in his wickedness, but

not in his righteousness. Listen! “Amon was two-and-twenty years old

when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did

that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as did Manasseh his father: for

Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his Father had

made, and served them, and humbled not himself before the Lord, as

Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and

more.” Children will imitate their fathers in their vices, seldom in their

repentance; if parents sin, their children will follow them, without much

doubt; but when they repent and turn to God, it is not so easy to lead a

child back in the way which it has once forsaken. Are there any here, who,

like that ancient Carthagenian, have dedicated their sons to the opposition

of their enemy. You remember one who dedicated his son Hannibal from

his very birth to be the everlasting enemy of the Romans. There may be

such a man here, who has dedicated his offspring to Satan, to be the

everlasting enemy of Christ’s gospel, and is trying to train up and tutor him

in a way which is contrary to the fear of the Lord. Is such a man hopeless?

His sin is dreadful, his state is dreary, his sin without repentance will

assuredly damn him; but so long as he is here, we still will preach

repentance to him, knowing that Manasseh was brought to know God, and

was forgiven all his manifold sins.

 

II. The second aspect in which we are to regard Manasseh is as an

UNBELIEVER; for it appears that Manasseh did not believe that Jehovah

was God alone, he was therefore, a believer in false gods, but an

unbeliever, so far as the truth is concerned. Now, does it not strike you at

the outset, that while Manasseh was an unbeliever in the truth, he must

have been a very credulous person to believe in the all imaginary deities of

the heathen? In fact, the most credulous persons in the world are

unbelievers. It takes ten thousand times more faith to be an unbeliever than

to be a believer in revelation. One man comes to me and tells me I am

credulous, because I believe in a great First Cause who created the heavens

and the earth, and that God became man and died for sin. - I tell him I may

be, and no doubt am very credulous, as he conceives credulity, but I

conceive that which I believe is in perfect consistency with my reason, and

I therefore receive it. “But,” saith he, “I am not credulous — not at all.”

Sir, I say, I should like to ask you one thing. You do not believe the world

was created by God. “No.” You must be amazingly credulous, then, I am

sure. Do you think this Bible exists without being made? If you should say

I am credulous because I believe it had a printer and a binder, I should say

you were infinitely more credulous, if you assured me that it was made at

all. And should you begin to tell me one of your theories about creation —

that atoms floated through space, and came to a certain shape, I should

resign the palm of credulity to you. You believe, perhaps, moreover, that

man came to be in this world through the improvement of certain

creatures. I have read that you say, that there were certain monads — that

these monads improved themselves until they came to be small animalcule

that afterwards they grew into fishes — that these fishes wanted to fly,

and then wings grew — that by-and-bye they wanted to crawl, and then

legs came, and they became lizards, and by divers steps they then became

monkies, and then the monkies became men, and you believe yourself to be

cousin-german to an ourang-outang. Now, I may be very credulous, but

really not so credulous as you are. I may believe very strange things. I may

believe that, with the jawbone of an ass, Samson slew a thousand men; I

may believe that the earth was drowned with water, and many other

strange things, as you call them; but as for your creed, your non-creed,

‘tis strange, ‘tis passing strange, ‘tis wonderful,” and it as much outvies

mine in credulity, if I be credulous, as an ocean outvies a drop. It requires

the hardest faith in the world to deny the Scriptures, because the man, in

his secret heart, knows they are true, and go where he will, something

whispers to him, “You may be wrong — perhaps you are,” and it is as

much as he can do, to say, “Lie down, conscience! down with you. I must

not let you speak, or I could not deliver my lecture to-morrow, I could not

go among my friends, I could not go to such-and-such a club; for I cannot

afford to keep a conscience, if I cannot afford to keep a God.”

 

And now let me tell you what I conceive to be the reasons why Manasseh

was an unbeliever. In the first place, I conceive that the unlimited power

which Manasseh possessed had a very great tendency to make him a

disbeliever in God. I should not wonder if an autocrat — a man with

absolute dominion, should deny God; I should think it only natural. You

remember that memorable speech of Napoleon’s. He was told that man

proposed, but that God disposed. “Ah!” said Napoleon, “I propose and

dispose too;” and therein he arrogated himself the very supremacy of God.

We do not wonder at it, because his victories had so speedily succeeded

each other, his prowess had been so complete, his fame so great, and his

power over his subject so absolute. Power always as I believe, except in

the heart which is rightly governed by grace, has a tendency to lead us to

deny God. It is that noble intellect of such-and-such a man which has led

him into discussion, he has twice, thrice, four, five, six, seven times come

off more than conqueror in the field of controversy; he looks round and

Bays, “I am, there is none beside me, let me take up whatever I please, I

can defend it, there is no man can stand against the blade of my intellect, I

can give him such a home thrust as will assuredly overcome him;” and

then, like Dr. Johnson, who often took up the side of the question he did

not believe, just because he liked to get a victory that was hard to win, so

do these men espouse what they believe to be wrong, because they

conceive it gives them the finest opportunity of displaying their abilities.

“Let me,” says some mighty intellect, “fight with a Christian I shall have

hard enough work to prove my thesis, I know I shall have a great difficulty

to undermine the bastions of truth which he opposes to bear against me, so

much the better, it were worth while to be conquered by so stout an

opposition, and if I can overcome my antagonist, if I can prove myself to

have more logic than he has, then I can say, ‘tis glorious; ‘tis glorious to

have fought against an opponent with so much on his side, and yet to have

come off more than conqueror.” I do believe, the best man in the world is

very hard to be trusted with power, he will, unless grace keeps him, make a

wrong use of it before long. Hence it is that the most influential of God’s

servants are almost invariably the most tried ones, because our heavenly

Father knows that if it were not for great trials and afflictions we should

begin to set ourselves up against him, and arrogate to ourselves a glory

which we had no right to claim.

 

But another reason why Manasseh was an unbeliever, I take it, was

because he was proud. Pride lieth at the root of infidelity, pride is the very

germ of opposition to God. The man saith, “Why should I believe?” The

Sunday-school child reads his Bible, and says it is true. Am I, a man of

intellect, to sit side by side with him, and receive a thing as true simply at

the dictum of God’s Word? No, I will not. I will find it out for myself, and

I will not believe simply because it is revealed to me, for that were to make

myself a child. And when he turns to the page of Revelation, and reads

thus, “except ye be converted and become as little children, ye can in

nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven,” he says, “Pshaw! I shall not be

converted then. I am not going to be a child. I am a man, and a man I will

be, and I would rather be lost a man than saved a child. What I am I to

surrender my judgment, and sit down tacitly to believe in God’s Word?”

“Yes,” says God’s Word, “thou art, thou art to become as a child, and

meekly to receive my Word.” “Then,” says he in his arrogance and pride,

“I will not,” and like Satan, he declares it were better to rule in hell than

serve in heaven, and he goes away an unbeliever, because to believe is too

humbling a thing.

 

But perhaps the most potent reason for Manasseh’s unbelief lies here that

he loved sin too well. When Manasseh built the altars for his false gods, he

could sin easily, and keep his conscience, but he felt Jehovah’s laws so

stringent, that if he once believed in the One God he could not sin all he

did. He read it thus; “Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy; thou shalt

not kill; thou shalt not steal;” and so on. Manasseh wanted to do all these

things, and therefore he would not believe because he could not believe

and keep his sin. The very reason why we have much unbelief is because

we have much love of sin. Men will have no God, because God interferes

with their lusts. They could not go on in their sins, if they once believed

there was an Everlasting God above them, or professed to believe it, for all

do believe it, whether they say so or no; and because the thought of God

cheeks them in their impiety and their lust, therefore they cry out, “There is

no God,” and say it with their lips as well as in their hearts. I believe it was

this that led Manasseh to persecute the saints of God; for among his sins it

is written, “he shed innocent blood very much.” It is a tradition among the

Jews that the prophet Isaiah was sawn in sunder by Manasseh, on account

of a rebuke which he gave him for his sin. Isaiah was not wont to be very

timid, and he told the king of his lusts, and therefore placing him between

two planks, he cut him in sunder from head to foot. It is just the reason

why men hate God, and hate his servants, because the truth is too hot for

them. Send you a preacher who would not tell you of your sins, and you

would hear him peaceably, but when the Gospel comes with power, then it

is that men cannot bear it, when it trenches upon that pleasure, that sin, or

that lust, then they will not believe it. Ye would believe the Gospel, if ye

could believe it and live in your sins too. Oh! how many a drunken

reprobate would be a Christian, if he might be a drunkard and a Christian

too! How many a wicked wretch would turn believer, if he might believe

and yet go on in his sins! But because faith in the Everlasting God can

never stand side by side with sin, and because the Gospel cries, “Down

with it! Down with it! Down with your sin,” therefore it is that men turn

round and say, “Down with the Gospel!” It is too hot for you, O ye sinful

generation; therefore ye turn aside from it, because it will not tolerate your

lusts, nor indulge your iniquity.

 

III. We look, then, at Manasseh as an unbeliever, and now we have our

last most pleasing task of looking at Manasseh as a convert. Hear it, O

heavens, and listen, O earth! The Lord God hath said it. Manasseh shall be

saved. He on his throne of cruelty has just appended his name to another

murderous edict against the saints of God yet he shall be humbled; he shall

ask for mercy and shall be saved. Manasseh hears the decree of God; he

laughs. “What! I play the hypocrite, and bend my knee? Never! It is not

possible and when the godly hear of it, they all say, ‘It is not possible.

What! Saul among the prophets? Manasseh regenerated? Manasseh made

to bow before the most High? The thing is impossible.” Ah! it is impossible

with man, but it is possible with God. God knows how to do it. The enemy

is at the gates of the city, a hostile king has just besieged the walls of

Jerusalem; Manasseh flees from his palace and hides himself amongst the

thorns; he is there taken, carried captive to Babylon, and shut up in prison.

And now we see what God can do. The proud king is proud no longer for

he has lost his power; the mighty man is mighty no more, for his might is

taken from him, and now in a low dungeon listen to him. It is no more the

blasphemer, no more the hater of God, but see him cold on the floor!

Manasseh bows his knee, and with the tears rolling down his cheeks, he

cries, “O God! my father’s God! an outcast comes to thee; a hell-hound

stained with blood throws himself at thy feet, I, a very demon, full of

filthiness, now prostrate myself before thee! Hear it, ye heavens! Listen yet

again. See, from the skies the angel flies with mercy in his hand. Ah!

whither speeds he? It is to the dungeon of Babylon. The proud king is on

his knee, and mercy comes and whispers in his ear — “Hope!” He starts

from his knees, and cries, “Is there hope?” And down he falls again. Once

more he pleads, and mercy whispers that sweet promise, uttered once by

the murdered Isaiah — “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy

transgressions for my name’s sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Oh!

do you see him? His very heart is running over in his eyes. Oh! how he

weeps for joy, and yet for sorrow that he ever could have sinned against a

God so kind. A moment more, and the dungeon is opened; the king of

Babylon, moved by God, bids him go free, and he returns to his kingdom

and throne, a happier and a better man than he had ever been before. I

think I see him coming into Jerusalem. There are his statesmen and

favorites they welcome him. “Come in, Manasseh; the bowl shall be filled,

and we will have a merry night to-night; we will bow before the shrine of

Ashtaroth, and thank her that she has set thee at liberty; lo, the horses of

the sun are ready; come and pay thy devotions to him that shines on the

earth, and leads the host of heaven!” Methinks I see their astonishment

when he cries, “Stand back! stand back! ye are my friends no longer, until

ye become God’s friends; I have candled ye on my knees, and, vipers, ye

have stung me with the poison of asps. I made you my friends and you

have led me down to the gulf of hell. But I know it now. Stand back till ye

are better men, and I will find others to be my courtiers.” And there the

poor saints, hidden in the back streets of the city, so frightened because the

king has come back, are holding meetings of solemn prayer, crying unto

God that no more murderous, persecuting edicts might go forth. And lo, a

messenger comes and says, “The king is returned.” and whilst they are

looking at him, wondering what the messenger is about to say, he adds,

“He has returned, not Manasseh as he went, but as a very angel. I saw him

with his own hands dash Ashtaroth in pieces; I heard him cry, ‘The horses

of the sun shall behoughed;’ sweep out the house of God; we will hold a

passover there; the morning and evening lamb shall again burn on

Jehovah’s altars, for he is God, and beside him there is none else.” Oh! can

ye conceive the joy of believers on that auspicious day? Can ye think how

they went up to God’s house with joy and thanksgiving? And on the next

Sabbath they sung, as they had never sung before, “O come let us sing unto

the Lord, let us make a joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation,” whilst

they remembered that he who had persecuted the saints of God aforetime,

now defended that very truth which once he abhorred. There was joy on

earth, ay, and there was joy in heaven too, the bells of heaven rang merry

peals the day Manasseh prayed; the angels of heaven flapped their wings

with double alacrity the day Manasseh repented; earth and heaven were

glad, and even the Almighty on his throne smiled gracious approbation,

whilst he again said, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions

for my name’s sake, and will not remember thy sins.”

 

And now are you curious to know what were the bases of the faith of

Manasseh — what were the rocks on which he built his trust in God? I

think they were two. He believed in God, first, because he had answered

his prayer; and! secondly, because he had forgiven his sin. I have

sometimes said, when I have become the prey of doubting thoughts, “Well,

now, I dare not doubt whether there be a God, for I can look back in my

Diary and say, on such a day in the depths of trouble I bent my knee to

God, and or ever I had risen from my knees the answer was given me.”

And so can many of you say, and therefore whatever others may say, you

know there is a God, because he answered your prayer. You have heard of

that holy man Mr. Muller, of Bristol. See “The doings of God with regard

to George Muller.” If you were to tell George Mźller there was not a God

he would weep over you. “Not a God?” he would say, “Why, I have seen

his hand. Whence came those answers to my prayers?” Ah! sirs, ye may

laugh at us for credulity; but there are hundreds here who could most

solemnly assert that they have asked of God for divers matters, and that

God has not failed then,, but granted their request. This was one reason

why Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God.

 

The other reason was, that Manasseh had a sense of pardoned sin. Ah!

that is a delightful proof of the existence of a God. Here comes a poor

miserable wretch: his knees are knocking together his heart is sinking

within him, he is giving himself up to despair. Bring the physicians to him!

They cry, “We fear his mind is infirm. We believe he will at last have to be

taken to some lunatic asylum,” and they apply their remedies, but he is

none the better, but rather grows worse. On a sudden this poor creature,

afflicted with a sense of sin, groaning on account of guilt, is brought within

the sound of the Sacred Word; he hears it — it increases his misery; he

hears it again — his pain becomes doubled; till at last every one says his

case is utterly hopeless. Suddenly, on a happy morning which God had

ordained, the minister is led to some sweet passage. Perhaps it is this:

“Come now, and let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they

shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as

wool.” The Spirit applies it, and the poor man goes home light as air and

says to his wife and children, “Come, rejoice with me.”

 

“Why?” say they. “Because,” says he, “my sins are forgiven.” “How do you

know that?” “Oh!’ says he, “a sense pardoning love within my heart, which

all the doubters in the world could not gainsay, and if all the earth should

rive up against me and say I should be condemned, I could say, ‘I know

there is now no condemnation for me.’” Have you ever felt pardoning

blood applied? You will never doubt God, I know, if you have. Why, dear

friends, if the poorest old woman in the world should be brought before an

infidel of the wisest order, having a mind of the greatest calibre, and he

should endeavor to pervert her, I think I see her smile at him, and say, “My

good man, it is of no use at all, for the Lord has appeared unto me of old,

saying, ‘Yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love,’ and so you may

tell me what you please: I have had a sense of blood bought pardon shed

abroad in my heart, and I know that he is God, and you can never beat it

out of me.” As good Watts says, when we have once such an assurance as

that,

 

                        “Should all the forms that men devise

                        Assault my faith with treacherous art,

                        I’d call them vanity and lies

                        And bind the gospel to my heart.”

 

Oh! If you have a sense that sin is forgiven, you can never doubt the

existence of a God, for it will be said of you, “Then he knew that the Lord

he was God.”

 

And now I gather up my strength for just one moment, to speak to those of

you who desire to know what you must do to be saved. My hearer, no

question can be more important than that; none is so requisite to ask. Alas!

there are too many who never ask it, but who go sailing down to the gulf

of black despair, listening to the syren song of procrastination and delay.

But if you have been brought to ask the question solemnly and seriously,

“What must I do to be saved?” I am happy, thrice happy to be able to tell

you God’s own word, “He that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ and is

baptized, shall be saved; he that believeth not,” the Scripture saith, “shall

be damned.” “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” “But, sir,” you

say, “I have many good works, and would trust on them.” If you do, you

are a lost man. As old Matthew Wilks most quaintly said once, speaking in

his usual tone, — “You might as well try to sail to America in a paper

boat, as to go to heaven by your own works; you will be swamped on the

passage if you attempt it.” We cannot spin a robe that is long enough to

cover us, we cannot make a righteousness that is good enough to satisfy

God. If you would be saved, it must be through what Christ did, and not

what you did. You cannot be your own Savior; Christ must save you, if

you are saved at all. How then can you be saved by Christ? Here is the plan

of salvation. It is written — “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all

acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Do you

feel that you are a sinner? Then believe that Jesus Christ came to save you,

for so sure as ever you feel you are a sinner, it is a fact that Christ died for

you; and if he died for you, you shall not perish, for I cannot conceive that

Christ would die in vain. If he did die for you, you shall most assuredly be

pardoned and saved, and shall one day sing in heaven. The only question is,

Did he die for you? He most certainly did if you are a sinner; for it is

written — I will repeat it again — “It is a faithful saying, that Christ Jesus

came to save sinners.” Poor sinner, believe! My dear friend, give me thine

hand! I wish I could put it inside Christ’s hand. Oh! embrace him! embrace

him! lest haply the clouds of night should come upon thee, and the sun

should set ere thou hast found him. Oh! lay hold on him, lest death and

destruction should overtake thee, fly to this mountain, lest thou be

consumed; and remember, once in Christ, thou art safe beyond hazard.

 

                        “Once in Christ, in Christ for ever,

                        Nothing from his love can sever.”

 

Oh! believe him! believe him, my dear, dear hearers, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

 

 

 

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