TO THE THOUGHTLESS.

 

     A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S DAY MORNING,

JULY 7TH, 1872,

 

BY C. H. SPURGEON,

 

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

 

“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not

know, my people doth not consider.” — Isaiah 1:3.

 

IT IS clear from this chapter that the Lord views the sin of mankind with

intense regret. We are obliged to speak of him after the manner of men,

and in doing so we are clearly authorized to say that he does not look upon

human sin merely with the eye of a judge who condemns it, but with the

eye of a friend who, while he censures the offender, deeply laments that

there should be such faults to condemn. “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O

earth: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled

against me,” is not merely an exclamation of surprise, or an accusation of

injured justice, but it contains a note of grief, as though the Most High

represented himself to us as mourning like an ill-treated parent, and

deploring that after having dealt so well with his offspring they had made

him so base a return. God is grieved that man should sin. That thought

should encourage everyone who is conscious of having offended God to

come back to him. If thou lamentest thy transgression, the Lord laments it

too. Here is a point of sympathy. He will not meet thee upon rigid terms

and say to thee, “By thine own choice thou hast sinned, and now what

remains to thee but to bear the penalty?” No, he will rejoice when thou

dost return, even as he has sorrowed that thou didst depart from him. Let

that thought of love be the key-note of our discourse this morning.

The point immediately in hand is the inconsiderateness of mankind towards

God. Israel in this case is not so much a type of believers as a

representative of sinners in general. The accusation will lie against all

ungodly men, that they do not know, they will not consider. The greatest

difficulty in the world is to make men think; I mean, think about spiritual

things, think about their souls, think about their God. You can bring them

to any other point but this. They will listen to holy words, but they will not

lay them to heart; they will no through a round of ceremonial

performances, but to worship in spirit the God who is a Spirit is far from

them. Thoughtfully and carefully to consider their way is what they will

never do until the Spirit of the living God comes upon them and teaches

them the true wisdom.

 

I shall this morning speak about this inconsiderateness of men, first, as a

serious fault, and then as attended in many cases with most solemn

aggravations. I shall next try, if I can, to find out the secret causes of this

fault, and then we shall close with mingled expostulation and invitation.

 

I. We have to speak of A SERIOUS FAULT, common, yea, universal. “Israel

doth not know, my people doth not consider.”

 

Men are most inconsiderate towards God. One would pardon them if they

forgot many minor things, and neglected many inferior persons, but to be

inconsiderate to their Creator, to their Preserver, to him in whose hand

their everlasting destiny is placed, this is a strange folly as well as a great

sin. Whoever a courtier may neglect he is sure to consider his king. Men

when they start their sons in business will bid them mind the main chance,

and attend to the principal point, and especially take care that they stand

well with such a man, who has the power to help or to ruin them. Men, as

a general rule, are far too ready to seek the assistance of those who are in

power, and this makes it the more strange that the all-powerful God who

lifteth up and casteth down should be altogether forgotten, or where

remembered should still be dishonored by mankind. If it were only because

he is so great, and therefore we are so dependent upon him, one would

have thought that a rational man would have acquainted himself with God

and been at peace; but when we reflect that God is supremely good, kind,

tender, and gracious, as well as great, the marvel of man’s thoughtlessness

is much increased. Every good man desires to be on good terms with the

good; unusual goodness wins admiration, and an invitation to associate

with the eminently excellent is generally accepted with pleasure; yet in the

case of the thrice holy God whose name is love, it is not so. All attractions

are in the character of God, and yet man shuns his Maker. If God were a

demon man could hardly be more cold towards him. Wherefore is this?

Why should I neglect one who is superlatively glorious, who has done me

no evil, but has bestowed upon me boundless good? If I reflect upon the

way in which he provides for me day by day, if I remember how he spares

me, notwithstanding the provocations of my sin, and consider how he still

entreats me to be at peace with him, I may well hear him ask me the

question, “For which of these good things dost thou neglect me, and on

account of which of these benefits dost thou forget me?” Strange freak of

the madness of sin, that it should make a man forgetful of the everywhere

present God, and unmindful of the being whose bounties are constant and

countless as the moments of the day. Oh, grief upon grief, Israel doth not

consider her God!

 

Then, again, man is inconsiderate towards himself in reference to his best

interests. Alas, that in a matter of the greatest possible importance,

involving his all, man fails to use his thoughtful reason. Most men trifle

with their past history; they do not sit down and look it in the face and

mark with repenting eyes what sins they have committed. They are often

wantonly thoughtless with regard to the present; they waste life as though

it had no relation to eternity, as though time were only meant for pastime,

or for earthly task-work, neither its mercies nor its judgments, neither its

obligations nor its sins, will they worthily think upon, but like men in a

thick darkness they travel onward unobservant of the solemnities which

surround them. The future, too, is equally unthought upon, the bright or

the terrible future, the heaven eternal or the hell unending. ‘Tis strange, ‘tis

passing strange, ‘tis wonderful, that immortal man should press on towards

unspeakable misery with closed eyes, regardless of the wrath to come. He

will not weigh his soul in the balances of truth, and learn thereby what its

end will be. A thousand voices call to him and bid him pause and think

awhile, but he lashes still the steeds of life, and like another Phaeton drives

on, madly on, towards his own destruction. Man is inconsiderate towards

himself. When we ask men to attend to matters which do not concern

them, we are not astonished if they plead that they have little time, and no

thought to spare. If I were this morning to address you, my dear hearers,

upon a matter which affected the interests of the dwellers in the Dog Star,

or had some relation to the inhabitants of the moon, I should not marvel if

you were to say, “Go to those whom it may concern and talk to them, but,

as for us, the matter is so remote that we take no interest in it.” But how

shall we account for it that man will not know about himself, and will not

consider about his own soul? Any trifle will attract him, but he will not

consider his own immortality, or meditate upon the joy or the misery which

must be his portion. I state the fact in far too cold a manner, and you also

hear it with mournful indifference; this must surely be because we have

heard it so often, and the fact is so universal. Yet, it is in very truth a

miracle of human depravity — what if I say insanity — that man should be

unmindful of his best self.

 

Here we must add that thoughtless man is inconsiderate of the claims of

justice and of gratitude, and this makes him appear base as well as foolish.

I have known men who have said, “Let the heavens fall, but let justice be

done,” and they have scorned in their dealings with their fellow men to

take any unrighteous advantage, even though it were as little as the turning

of a hair. I believe there are such present. I have known some also who, if

they were called ungrateful, would indignantly spurn the charge. They

would count themselves to be utterly loathsome if they did not return good

to those who have done them good. They feel that the obligations of

gratitude cannot he disputed, nor do they wish to avoid them; and yet it

may be these very same persons have been throughout life unjust towards

God, and ungrateful towards him to whom they owe their being, and all

that makes it endurable. Think of it. God created you, and ought he not to

be the object of your worship? Besides creating you, he has preserved you

in being; ought he not to have some service in return for this? You have

been indulged, perhaps, with a smooth pathway, you are not to-day

amongst the poorest of the poor, you have not been deprived of the use of

your limbs, you have your reasoning faculties, you have not been smitten

down with a stroke of paralysis, you are still able to mingle with men, and

go about your business; and for all this ought not God to be thanked? His

service is a delight to those who are in it; ought you not to render service

to him? His law is the most just law that can be conceived; it contains the

essence of all honest law; yet you have not observed his commands nor

loved him with all your heart and strength. Is this right? You discharge

right willingly the obligations due to man; but will you rob God? You

would think it shameful to be dishonest to your fellow creature, and will

you be a robber to your God? Will you withhold the honor and glory which

you ought to render to him?

 

You will observe that the text says, “Israel doth not know.” Now, Israel is

a name of nobility, it signifies a prince; and there are some here whose

position in society, whose condition amongst their fellow men should

oblige them to the service of God. That motto is true “noblesse oblige,” —

nobility has its obligations; and where the Lord elevates a man into a

position of wealth and influence, he ought to feel that he is under peculiar

bonds to serve the Lord. I speak also to those who are the sons of pious

parents; I address myself to those who have been trained in the fear of

God; you have been nourished and brought up with the children of God,

you have often been looked upon as belonging to them, surely you ought

not to have been unmindful of your gracious benefactor. To you more is

given, and therefore of you more is required. Does it not disgrace you as a

man of godly lineage to be no better than the sons of Belial in the matter of

earnest consideration? You should, at this moment, feel a deep regret that

up to this present you have been false to your pedigree, and traitorous to

your God. Man is forgetful of what is due to his position and his ancestry.

One sad point about this inconsiderateness is, that man lives without

consideration upon a matter where nothing but consideration will avail.

Nothing can stand in lieu of thoughtfulness in religion. There are some who

say, “Well, I cannot think about it, but I will pay a man to do it for me; I

will find out a priest and give him so much money that he may see to my

soul, just as my doctor attends to my body.” This is an invention of a

rebellious heart to quiet conscience, but it is both idle and wicked. Personal

love of the heart the Lord demands, and he will be content with nothing

less. “But I go up to the house of God regularly; I sit with God’s people; I

give of my substance.” Just so, but God demands your heart, and if the

heart be not given, if thou dost not love him with thy soul, and mind, and

strength, thou hast done nothing whatsoever in religion. In vain your

baptism, in vain your coming to the sacramental table; true religion is not a

bodily exercise, nor a manual performance. The soul, the mind, the heart,

with all its intents and faculties, must think of God, and yield submission to

him; otherwise, though all the ceremonies ordained of God himself were

rightly performed upon thee, yet would they yield thee not one particle of

grace. Religion is a spiritual business, and if man lives and dies refusing to

consider, he has put away from him altogether all hope of being saved, for

grace comes not into us by mechanical process, but the Holy Spirit works

upon the mind and soul.

 

This inconsideration, also, it should be remarked, occurs upon a subject

where, by the testimony of tens of thousands, consideration would be

abundantly remunerative, and would yield the happiest results. We should

not marvel at men if they would not think upon topics which made them

unhappy; it would not seem strange if subjects, known to deprive men

henceforth of joy and gladness, were avoided by wise men; but albeit that

there are some who have suffered frightful depression of spirits in

connection with true religion, yet its general and ultimate fruit has ever

been peace and joy through believing in Christ Jesus, and even the

exceptions could be easily accounted for. In some melancholy spirits their

godliness is too shallow to make them happy; they breathe so little of the

heavenly air that they are distressed for want of more. In others the

sorrows occasioned by gracious reflection is but a preliminary and passing

stage of grace; there must be a ploughing before there can be a harvest;

there must be medicine for the disease before health returns, and the newly

awakened are just in the stage of ploughing and the condition of drinking

bitter medicine. This will soon be over, and the results will be most

admirable. A great cloud of witnesses, among whom we joyfully take our

place, bear testimony to the fact that the ways of the Lord are ways of

pleasantness. Our deepest joy lies now in knowing our God and

considering him. God in Christ Jesus is to us an unfailing fountain of peace,

joy, content and blessedness. O, that ye would hearken unto the Lord, for

then would your peace be as a river, and your righteousness as the waves

of the sea. Thus saith the Lord, “O that my people had hearkened unto me,

and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their

energies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. He should have fed

them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock

should I have satisfied them.” Down here below godliness hath the promise

of the life that now is, and after death its weight of glory is unspeakable. O

that you thoughtless ones knew the joy which you are losing, and were

aroused from apathy.

 

II. Thus have I spoken upon the serious fault. Let us note next,

AGGRAVATIONS WHICH ATTEND IT, in many cases. And first, remember

that some of these careless persons have had their attention earnestly

directed to the topics which still they neglect. Observe in this passage that

these people had been summoned by God to consider. The heavens and the

earth were called to bear witness that they had been nourished and brought

up by the good Father, and in the fourth verse they are rebuked, they are

earnestly chidden, because they continue to be so unmindful of their God.

Now, if a person should for awhile forget an important thing, we should

not be surprised, for the memory is not perfect; but when attention is called

to it again and again, when consideration is requested kindly, tenderly,

earnestly, and when because the warning is neglected, that attention is

demanded with authority, and possibly with a degree of sharpness, one

feels that a man who is still unmindful is altogether without excuse, and

must be negligent of set purpose and with determined design. Some of you

now present have thought of everything except your souls and your God,

and though this morning I would, even with tears, beg you to give an hour

before the sun goes down to serious reflection upon spiritual matters, the

probabilities are that you will do no such thing. Here is the aggravation of

your folly, that you have again, and again, and again been reminded of this

weighty business, and all in vain. When you were running on in childish

waywardness, parents plucked you by the sleeve, and said, “Consider your

ways.” They exhorted you when you were rejoicing in your youth, to look

forward to the day when for all this God would bring you into judgment.

Since then, if you have been a sermon-hearer, you have often and often

been called earnestly and urgently by men who spoke with all sincerity, to

amend your ways, and turn unto the Most High. Yes, and God’s voice has

come to you in the very midst of your business. When you have had a quiet

interval, and have been sitting down awhile, a voice, silent, but not

unheard, has said to you, “Will you never think? Will you plunge into

eternity without consideration? Will you never open your eyes and look

about you till you are in hell?” Your conscience by fits and starts, has

troubled you. The Bible in your house, which you have not read, has yet

from the very fact of its being there upbraided you, and the mere presence

of godly men has been a rebuke to you. When you have recollected how

family prayer used to be offered in your father’s house when you were a

child, and how it is neglected in your own house, the neglect has rebuked

you. Can you deny this? And can you doubt this also, that he who is often

reproved and hardeneth his neck, deserves that he shall be suddenly

destroyed, and that without remedy?

 

The prophet then mentions the second aggravation, namely, that in addition

to being called and admonished, these people had been chastened. They

had been chastised, indeed, so often and so severely that the Lord wearied

of it. He saw no use in smiting them any more. Their whole body was

covered with bruises, they had been so sorely smitten. The nation as a

nation had been so invaded and trodden down by its enemies that it was

utterly desolate, and the Lord says, “Why should ye be stricken any more?

Ye will revolt more and more.” Of course I cannot tell what has been the

history of all of you, but I may be addressing some one this morning whose

life of late has been a series of sorrows. You have plunged from one

calamity into another. You have sailed over every known sea of affliction.

You know what sickness means; there are in your body still the scars of old

diseases. You have known what perils mean on the waters and perils on

land. Perhaps you have been brought down from competence to poverty;

you have been deserted too by those who should have comforted you; you

know almost all the pangs which wring the human heart with anguish.

Know you not that all these are sent to wean you from the world? Will you

still cling to it? All these are calls from heaven, like the voice of hunger in

the prodigal when he could not fill his belly with the husks, and therefore

said, “I will arise and go unto my father?” Will you never say the same?

How shall God afflict you now? Is your wife dead? Would you like to lose

your child? Is one child gone? Shall death take away the other? Shall the

last darling be taken from you? What stroke would touch your hard heart?

Must the Lord strike again and again, and again and again, before you will

hear him? If he be resolved to save you depend upon it he will not spare

you; he will bring you somehow or other to himself if he means to bless

you. Be ye not as the horse and the mule which have no understanding,

whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle; but yield now to the

afflictions you have already suffered, or else you will certainly enhance

your guiltiness by despising the chastening of the Lord.

 

It was an additional piece of guiltiness that these people were all the while

that they would not consider, very zealous in an outward religion. They

would not serve God in his own way, but they were very diligent in a way

of their own. As you read the chapter you will notice how attentive they

were to burnt offerings, and new moons, and feast days, and yet they

would not consider. Certain individuals will become out-and-out Ritualists,

and yet will not think upon the Lord. They will go the whole hog with

Popery, and yet they will not turn unto the Most High and confess their sin,

and seek mercy at his hand, and yield their souls to his truth. Strange, but

yet it is so. There are persons here who seldom miss a service, and even

come to prayer-meetings, and yet are not a bit the better for it; men of bad

lives, and yet they love the preacher, ay, and would stand up for him if any

spoke against him, and yet they are regardless of that preacher’s warnings,

and what is worse, they are careless concerning God and the world to

come. They live, and I fear they will die, without Christ, and without hope.

O sirs, how can I reason with you: your inconsistency is so glaring. You

stand up to-day and sing the praises of God, yet to-morrow you will

blaspheme him. What, will you shut your eyes when we are praying, and

pretend to join with us, when you know that to-morrow you will act

wantonly or do unjustly? How can you habitually sit with the people of

God, ay, and in some measure, feel at home with them, and yet afterwards

keep company with the children of darkness, and find yourselves at home

at the bar of the alehouse, on the settle of the gin palace, in the theater, or

in other places where blasphemy is on all sides to be heard, and iniquity on

all sides to be seen? Will a man mock God and insult him to his face? I

beseech you, yea, I implore you, to think of this, for it greatly aggravates

your thoughtlessness that you still continue in the midst of the people of

God. To be in a man’s house and not to think of him, to sing a man’s

praises and not respect him, to mix up with that man’s children and yet not

care about him, why, surely this would be most provoking. Shall such

conduct be shown towards the Most High?

 

Yet, further, I want you to notice that there was an aggravation to Israel’s

forgetfulness of God, because she was most earnestly and affectionately

invited to turn to God by gracious promises. Let me read you that word,

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be

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

they shall be as wool.” A man might say, “Why should I think of God? He

is my enemy. Why should I meditate upon my sinfulness, for it cannot be

forgiven, and wherefore should I think of righteousness, when I know I can

never attain to it?” O man, you know better. You know that God is love;

you know that there is forgiveness with him that he may be feared; you

know that a change of heart is possible, and the Spirit of God can make a

new man of you. If the case were hopeless I should not wonder if you

refused to enter into such dreadful contemplations; but, when the

brightness of Jehovah’s grace invites you, how can you turn your back

upon him and still continue unmindful of him?

 

As a last aggravation, carefully note that these very people had ability

enough to consider other things, for we find that they considered how get

bribes, and were very sharp and shrewd in following after rewards; yet they

did not know and did not consider their God. Oh, how quick are some men

in the ways of evil, and yet, if you talk to them about religion they say it is

mysterious, and beyond their power of apprehension. Those same persons

will discuss with you the knottiest points of politics, or unravel the

abstrusities of science, and yet they pretend they cannot understand the

simplicities of revelation. “I am a poor man,” saith one, “I am a poor man,

and you cannot expect me to know much;” yet, if anybody were to meet

that same “poor man” in the street and tell him he was a fool, he would be

indignant at such an accusation, and would zealously prove that he was not

inferior in common sense. “I cannot,” says one, “vex my brain about such

things as these;” yet that very man wears his brain far more in pursuit of

wealth or pleasure. Oh, if men were idiots, then were they exempt from

blame; if they were physically blind they would be excused from seeing, but

when men have eyes they are to be blamed if they will not see. If a man has

an understanding, and can exercise it well upon minor matters, how shall

we apologise for his neglect of his God. I can invent no excuse for them,

though I would gladly be their advocate. I can only beseech them to repent

of this their wickedness, and no longer have it said of them that they will

not know, that they will not consider.

 

III. We shall now investigate some of THE SECRET CAUSES of human

indifference to topics so important. In the case of many thoughtless

persons we must lay the blame to the sheer frivolity of their nature. Some

individuals appear to have a brain-case which was never properly filled.

Like butterflies, they flit from flower to flower, but gather no honey. Look

at the life of many in the West End, who pass all their existence in dressing

and undressing, distributing bits of card-board, riding in carriages, bowing

and scraping, and eating and drinking. These notable do-nothings remind

me of a set of butterflies flitting about a field of poppies. Nor are the

poorer districts clear of such beings. Note the many fellows who go loafing

from public-house to public-house, lolling and dawdling about from

morning till night, as it they had nothing whatever to live for but to talk

and booze. I hope that is not the case with any of you; if so, let me remind

you that you may live in jest but you will have to die in earnest. You may

waste this life in frivolity, but you will have to spend the next in eternal

damnation. The moth may play, but the candle burns it, and then it suffers

in earnest. You will come to be earnest enough when you wake up and find

yourself condemned of God. Oh, if thou be a fool, or have been a fool up

to this moment, may God sober thee and make thee wise to number thy

days.

 

I have no doubt that in every case, however, the bottom reason is

opposition to God himself. You do not think of God because you do not

like him. Nothing will persuade you to consider, because you do not love

the subject to be considered. If you are called to consider a topic which is

pleasurable to you, you very readily turn to it, but in this case for fifty or

sixty years or more you have shunned this subject, though it has been

forced upon you in all sorts of ways. You have either huffed it off in bad

temper, or smiled it off in pleasantry; and when it has come upon the cool

of the evening, when you have been alone, you have called it “having the

blues,” and have gone off into company to get rid of it. The real reason is

that you have no love to your God. Now this argues a base mind. It is

disgraceful that you should not love one so infinitely good, noble,

generous, and just. His character engrosses the admiration of all honorable

spirits, and would commend itself to you if you were not bad at heart.

Consider how depraved you must be not to love the Perfect One.

Upon some minds the tendency to delay operates fearfully. Probably if I

went round this place I should not find a single person who intends always

to remain indifferent towards God and the world to come. Nobody here

intends to be lost. I do not suppose that anyone of you has chosen to make

his bed in hell. You have all good intentions, and you mean one of these

days to carry them out. Ah, and out of those who are now shut up in

Tophet, there are very few, if any, who resolved to be there. The most of

them meant one day to seek the Lord, but death came and found them still

sleeping, as I fear he will find many of you. Do you know that you are in

the presence of death now? He spreads his wing even now over your head;

out of this vast company some of us must soon feel his dart. One of our

city missionaries was witness to a dreadful scene, when in a poor house he

found persons playing cards, using for a table a coffin covered with a white

cloth; the coffin containing the father of the family. This was a mournful

instance of hardness of heart, but in some aspects all triflers with religion

are in much the same condition, for their souls are in jeopardy of eternal

wrath, and yet they persevere in their merriment; they enjoy their frivolities

while God’s sword is furbished and bathed in heaven, and must ere long

smite them to destruction. If they could see where they are, and what they

are, they would no more be able to enjoy themselves than a man would sit

down and feast beneath a gallows tree, or laugh with his neck bared and

fixed beneath the knife of the guillotine. O that men were wise, and that

they would consider this. Put not off reflection, for death is near, and it is

this putting off, and putting off, which is Satan’s most potent engine of

destruction.

 

Some make an excuse for themselves for not considering eternity, because

they are such eminently practical men. They are living for realities of the

nature of hard cash, and they will not be induced to indulge in fancies and

notions. For my part I feel great sympathy with them in their downright

practicalness. I, too, am a matter-of-fact man, without speculation or fancy

in me. “What I want is facts.” I only wish that those who profess to be

practical were more truly so, for a practical man always takes more care of

his body than of his coat, certainly; then should he not take more care of

his soul than of the body, which is but the garment of it? If he were truly

practical he would do that. A practical man will be sure to consider matters

in due proportion; he will not give all his mind to a cricket match and

neglect his business. And yet how often your practical man still more

greatly errs; he devotes all his time to money making, and not a minute to

the salvation of his soul and its preparation for eternity? Is this practical?

Why, sir, Bedlam itself is guilty of no worse madness than that! There is

not in all yon wards a single maniac who commits a more manifest act of

insanity than a man who spends all his force upon this fleeting life, and lets

the eternal future go by the board.

 

I have no doubt with a great many their reason for not thinking about soul

matters, is prejudice. They are prejudiced because some Christian professor

has not lived up to his profession, or they have heard something which is

said to be the doctrine of the gospel, which they cannot approve of. Now,

if this morning I stood here, and said, “Attend to me; give your souls up to

my guidance; be led by me,” I should admire you for saying, “We shall do

no such thing.” But I disclaim all idea of wishing to be a priest to any one

of you. My teaching always is, “There is God’s Bible, read it and judge for

yourselves.” You have brains, use your brains. My judgment was never

meant to excuse you from using your own. If any man ask you to let him

put a ring in your nose that he may lead you as a farmer does a bull, away

with him! What can he be but an impostor? We say search for yourselves;

come to God’s book, to God’s own revealed truth. Come to Jesus Christ,

and find salvation in him. Surely you ought not to be prejudiced against a

faith which speaks after this fashion.

 

In most cases men do not like to trouble themselves, and they have an

uncomfortable suspicion that if they were to look too narrowly into their

affairs they would find things far from healthy. They are like the bankrupt

before the court the other day who did not keep books. Not he. He did not

know how his affairs stood, and, moreover, he did not want to know; he

did not like his books, for his books did not like him. He was going to the

bad, and he therefore tried to forget it. They say of the silly ostrich that

when she hides her head in the sand and does not see her pursuers she

thinks she is safe; that is the policy of many men. They spread their sails

and get up the steam and go with double speed straight ahead. What, not

look at the chart? No, they do not want to know whether there are rocks

or breakers ahead. Arrest that captain, put him in irons, and find a sane

man to take charge of the vessel. O for grace to arrest that folly which is

the captain of your barque and put sound sense in command, or else a

spiritual shipwreck is certain.

 

IV. I am going to conclude with a few words of EXPOSTULATION. Few, I

say; for it the few words I have spoken do not reach men’s hearts by God’s

Spirit, I know that a great many cannot. My dear hearers, is not your

inconsiderateness very unjustifiable? Can you excuse it in any way?

Perhaps you think you will never die. Well, go to the cemetery and you will

soon alter your mind. Our sires and grandsires died; how then should we

expect to live? Do you hope to live to extreme old age? I have heard of

one who often boasted that he expected to be quoted at par in the life

market, but he fell thirty per cent short of the hundred. Have you imbibed

the idea that God will make a difference in dealing with you from what he

does with other people? If so, get that out of your head too, for he has not

one rule for one and another for another. If you die without Christ, you

will die without hope, and if you have never repented of sin, God is no

respecter of persons — there will be the same punishment for you as for

other impenitents. Are you so mad as to hope that after all there will be no

future? Then I can understand your thoughtlessness. If you are like a

certain poor maunderer, who calls himself a philosopher, and lately said,

the only immortality is that when the body is disintegrated; its ammonia,

carbonic acid, and lime serve to enrich the soil, and to nourish plants which

feed other generations of men.” Here the ox and the ass of my text are

outdone in stupidity. The man confesses that he is no better than a beast,

and has no soul: as it would be useless to argue with a compound of

ammonia and lime, he must not wonder if we hold no further debate with

him. Now, my hearer, if you are such an ox or ass as that your

thoughtlessness is accounted for, but if you are not so far gone I am at a

loss to make your conduct consistent. Do you think you will be able to

brazen it out with God at last? You are as wax and he is the fire; you are

stubble and he is the flame; how can you hope to fight it out with him?

There are stranger things in this world than my philosophy has dreamed of,

but I cannot invent an excuse for you, nor do I think you can yourself

devise a justification.

 

 

Let me ask you again if you do not think that many a man’s good opinion

of himself would collapse if he were to consider; his opinion of himself

would fall to zero if he would but think.

 

You spendthrift, who squanders his gold so freely, scattering with a fork

what his miserly father gathered with a rake; could he go on as he did if he

did not stupify himself into thoughtlessness? Do you think money-grubbers

who toil and slave, and starve to amass wealth, would think it worth their

while to do so if they really thought about it? For is the result worth the

trouble? merely to have people say “he died worth a plum.” Perhaps you

have not chick nor child to leave it to, and the stranger who will inherit it

every time he drinks his wine will jest about the old fellow who fretted and

steered to provide for a stranger’s son. When men think they are so good

that they will go to heaven by their works, would not that bladder burst if

they pricked it with a little thought? It looks very fine. Look at it, “I have

always been a stanch Dissenter, or an orthodox Churchman, and I have

done my duty.” Is not that boast like a beautiful bubble which a boy blows

from his pipe with a little soap? What charming colors! It is beautiful as a

rainbow! But if we touch it with a little meditation it is dissolved. The same

may be said of nominal religion; if a man thinks God will take him to

heaven because he calls himself a Christian, and has taken the sacrament,

and paid his pew rent, and sat with God’s people, he must surely have but

a scanty brain; if he would exercise what little mind he has, he would see

that his hopes do not hold water.

 

Do you want to be deceived? Do any of you really want to mislead

yourselves? If so, shut your eyes and dream yourselves into destruction;

but if in earnest, you would be right now, and right at last, then awake at

once. How is it that ye will not know, and that ye will not consider? May

the Holy Spirit save you from this desperate state.

 

Let us just consider for half a minute one or two things. If a man will

resolvedly and prayerfully turn these things over in his mind, God may help

him to come right.

 

If I consider awhile, I see that I have not lived as I ought to have fired, I

have often done wrong. That is quite clear to me, and it is equally clear

that the ruler of the world ought to punish sin. The letting off of certain

atrocious murderers of late, and the easy way in which certain criminals

have escaped, makes us all demand a little more vigorous dispensation of

justice, or else we shall have our land made a pandemonium. Even thus if

God did not punish sin, he would not be a wise and efficient moral

governor for the world. Then if God must punish sin he must punish me,

and I must expect to suffer. But when I turn to this Book I find he has

devised a way by which to save me. He has laid sin upon Christ that so I

may escape. If I am puzzled to see how the sin of one could be laid upon

another, I find in the word of truth that Christ Jesus is one with his people,

and it is right enough that he should take their sin and suffer in their stead.

I find that Christ actually did take the sins of all those who trust him, and

really suffered in their stead. That seems to me to be a glorious truth. It

meets the case of justice, and leaves a door for mercy. How can I avail

myself of what Christ has done? I find in the Word that I am commanded

to trust him. Trust him! That does not seem to be a harsh demand. He is

true, he is great, he is God. I will trust him. God help me to trust him. I

learn that whoever trusts him is saved. That is a glorious truth. I am saved

and pardoned now, for I believe in Jesus. Will not some of you turn these

things over in your minds? I pray God the Holy Spirit to lead you to do so.

I believe it is often the way of salvation to men to be made to hearken

diligently to the gospel; and to consider and meditate upon it, and with that

view I have preached to you this morning, hoping that the word may

incline you towards himself, and bring you to consider him, that you may

now enter into his salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

 

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