May 15, 2009
Holy Violence, Pt. 4
Here's the final installment of the Spurgeon sermon delivered back on May 15th of 1859 titled, "Holy Violence."
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force,"— Matthew 11:12.
And, now I have to close, for I find my voice fails me this morning, when most I need it. I have to close abruptly by endeavouring earnestly TO EXCITE EACH OF YOU TO A VIOLENCE AFTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. In this great crowd there are surely some of the class I am about to describe. There is one man here who says, "I don't know that I have done much amiss in my life: I am about as regular a man as there is living. Don't I attend a place of worship regularly? I believe that l shall most certainly be saved. But I don't take much trouble about it, it never disquiets me particularly. I don't like"—says this man "—that intrusive kind of religion that always seems to be thrusting itself in everybody's way. I think it is quite right that people should go to their place of worship, but why take any further trouble? I just believe that I shall fare as other people fare: I am a steady unpretending sort of man, and I have no reason to doubt that I shall be saved." Ah, friend, you have never seen the gate of heaven? It is obvious that you have never seen it, or else you would know better; for at the gate of heaven multitudes are struggling, the gates of heaven are thronged, and he that would enter there must press, and elbow, and push, or he may go away certain that he can never enter. No! your easy religion will just bring you in too late. It may carry you nine miles out of ten; but what is the good of that to a man who must perish unless he is carried the whole way? It will go a good way with you when you follow the counsels of a gospel ministry with outward propriety; but at the bar of God it will utterly fail you, when you lack the inward witness of strong crying and supplications. No! an easy religion is the way to hell, for it is not the way to heaven. Let your soul alone, and you need not expect much good fruit to come of it, any more than a farmer who leaves his fields alone, need expect to reap a harvest. Your religion is vain and futile if that is all. "Ah" cries another "but I am in quite a different case. I am a sinner so vile, sir, that I know I never can be saved, therefore, what is the use? I never think about it now, except with blank despair. Have I not long rebelled against God; will he ever pardon me? No, no; don't exhort me to try. I may as well take my full swing of pleasure while I am here, for I feel I never shall enjoy the pleasures of heaven hereafter." Stop friend, "The violent take it by force." If the Lord has taught thee thy utter sinfulness, go and try—say,
"I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know
I must for ever die."
Go home, go to your closet, fall on your knees, put your trust alone in Christ and, my friend, if the Lord does not have mercy upon you, then he is not the God we have preached to you, and he has not substantiated his faithful promise: you cannot, you shall not seek in vain. But mark, you must not think that your once seeking is enough; continue in it. If God has given you his Spirit you will continue—you will never leave off praying until you get the answer. Oh! my friend, if God hath given thee this day a longing after his love; if he has caused thee to say, "I will never give it up, I will perish at the foot of the cross if I perish at all;" thou canst no more perish than the angels in Paradise. Be of good cheer; use violence again and again, and thou shalt take it by force.
And then, let each one of us as we retire, and if we have tasted that the Lord is precious, determine to love him more earnestly than before. I never leave my pulpit washout feeling ashamed of myself. I do not remember a time when I have been able to go home without being suffused with humiliation and cast down with self-reproach, because I had not been more earnest. I very seldom flog myself for using an ugly word, or anything of that sort; it is for not having been earnest enough about the salvation of men. When I sit down, I begin to think of this vast stream of people being swept along towards the gulf of eternity—bound for heaven or hell; and I wonder how it is that I do not weep all the time I am here—why it is that I do not find red-hot burning words with which to address you. I find fault with others sometimes, but far more with myself in this matter. Oh! how is it that a man can be God's ambassador, and yet have so callous, so insensitive a heart, as many of us have in this work? Oh! how is it that we tell the tale of death and life, of heaven and hell, of Christ crucified and his gospel despised, so quietly as we do? Condemn not the minister for excitement or fanaticism; condemn him because he is not half in earnest, as he ought to be. Oh my God! impress me, I beseech thee, more with the value of souls, and then impress my hearers, also, with the value of their own souls. Are you not going to-day, many of you, post-haste to perdition? Is it not the fact, that your conscience tells you that many of you are enemies to God? You are without Christ, you have never been washed in his blood; never been forgiven. Oh! my hearers, if ye continue as ye are, a few more rising suns, and then your sun must set for ever. Only a few more Sundays have you to waste, a few more sermons have you to hear, and the pit of hell must open wide its jaws, and then where are you? But a few more days, and the heavens shall be rent, and Christ shall come to judge the earth, and sinner where are you? Oh! I beseech you now by the living God, and by his Son Jesus Christ, think of your state; repent of your sins; turn you to God. Oh Spirit of God, turn, I pray thee, turn the hearts of sinners now. Remember, if you now repent, if you now confess your sins, Christ is preached to you. He came into the world to save sinners. Oh! believe on him; throw yourselves before his cross; trust in his blood; rely on his righteousness,—
"But if your ears refuse
The language of his grace,
And hearts grow hard like stubborn Jews,
That unbelieving race;
The Lord, in vengeance dress'd,
Will lift his hand and swear,
'You that despise my promised rest,
Shall have no portion there.'"
Oh! if I had the tongue of Whitfield, or the mouth of an archangel, if I could speak like the cherubim, I would pour out my heart before you, and pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. I must face you soon before God's great bar, and shall your blood be laid to my door? Shall you perish, and must I perish with you for unfaithfulness? May God forbid it! Now may he
"Let you see your lost estate,
And save you ere it be too late,
Wake you to righteousness."
Lord have mercy upon you all for Jesus' sake!