Our Father

Morning

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, etc.”
Matthew 6:9

This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.” This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be thy name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father,” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration–“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God–“Give us this day our daily bread.” Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent, but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:” and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts,” that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms. As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.” We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of his dominion there shall be no end. Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us thus to pray.

Evening

“But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.”
Luke 24:16

The disciples ought to have known Jesus, they had heard his voice so often, and gazed upon that marred face so frequently, that it is wonderful they did not discover him. Yet is it not so with you also? You have not seen Jesus lately. You have been to his table, and you have not met him there. You are in a dark trouble this evening, and though he plainly says, “It is I, be not afraid,” yet you cannot discern him. Alas! our eyes are holden. We know his voice; we have looked into his face; we have leaned our head upon his bosom, and yet, though Christ is very near us, we are saying “O that I knew where I might find him!” We should know Jesus, for we have the Scriptures to reflect his image, and yet how possible it is for us to open that precious book and have no glimpse of the Wellbeloved! Dear child of God, are you in that state? Jesus feedeth among the lilies of the word, and you walk among those lilies, and yet you behold him not. He is accustomed to walk through the glades of Scripture, and to commune with his people, as the Father did with Adam in the cool of the day, and yet you are in the garden of Scripture, but cannot see him, though he is always there. And why do we not see him? It must be ascribed in our case, as in the disciples’, to unbelief. They evidently did not expect to see Jesus, and therefore they did not know him. To a great extent in spiritual things we get what we expect of the Lord. Faith alone can bring us to see Jesus. Make it your prayer, “Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may see my Saviour present with me.” It is a blessed thing to want to see him; but oh! it is better far to gaze upon him. To those who seek him he is kind; but to those who find him, beyond expression is he dear!

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Distinguishing Grace

Morning

“I have chosen you out of the world.”
John 15:19

Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard; for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the shade, miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the lees well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan’s wood when but touched enlightened the eyes, this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not a surfeit; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Meat from the King’s table will hurt none of his courtiers. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.

“His oath, his covenant, his blood,

Support me in the raging flood;

When every earthly prop gives way,

This still is all my strength and stay.”

If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that he would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of his soul; then, my soul, till God himself shall be unfaithful, till Jesus shall cease to be the truth, thou art safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.

Evening

“His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.”
Song of Solomon 5:11

Comparisons all fail to set forth the Lord Jesus, but the spouse uses the best within her reach. By the head of Jesus we may understand his deity, “for the head of Christ is God” and then the ingot of purest gold is the best conceivable metaphor, but all too poor to describe one so precious, so pure, so dear, so glorious. Jesus is not a grain of gold, but a vast globe of it, a priceless mass of treasure such as earth and heaven cannot excel. The creatures are mere iron and clay, they all shall perish like wood, hay, and stubble, but the ever living Head of the creation of God shall shine on forever and ever. In him is no mixture, nor smallest taint of alloy. He is forever infinitely holy and altogether divine. The bushy locks depict his manly vigour. There is nothing effeminate in our Beloved. He is the manliest of men. Bold as a lion, laborious as an ox, swift as an eagle. Every conceivable and inconceivable beauty is to be found in him, though once he was despised and rejected of men.

“His head the finest gold;

With secret sweet perfume,

His curled locks hang all as black

As any raven’s plume.”

The glory of his head is not shorn away, he is eternally crowned with peerless majesty. The black hair indicates youthful freshness, for Jesus has the dew of his youth upon him. Others grow languid with age, but he is forever a Priest as was Melchizedek; others come and go, but he abides as God upon his throne, world without end. We will behold him tonight and adore him. Angels are gazing upon him–his redeemed must not turn away their eyes from him. Where else is there such a Beloved? O for an hour’s fellowship with him! Away, ye intruding cares! Jesus draws me, and I run after him.

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Sleep Not At Your Post!

Morning

MATTHEW 4:19

“Will ye also go away?”
John 6:67

Many have forsaken Christ, and have walked no more with him; but what reason have you to make a change? Has there been any reason for it in the past? Has not Jesus proved himself all-sufficient? He appeals to you this morning–“Have I been a wilderness unto you?” When your soul has simply trusted Jesus, have you ever been confounded? Have you not up till now found your Lord to be a compassionate and generous friend to you, and has not simple faith in him given you all the peace your spirit could desire? Can you so much as dream of a better friend than he has been to you? Then change not the old and tried for new and false. As for the present, can that compel you to leave Christ? When we are hard beset with this world, or with the severer trials within the Church, we find it a most blessed thing to pillow our head upon the bosom of our Saviour. This is the joy we have today that we are saved in him; and if this joy be satisfying, wherefore should we think of changing? Who barters gold for dross? We will not forswear the sun till we find a better light, nor leave our Lord until a brighter lover shall appear; and, since this can never be, we will hold him with a grasp immortal, and bind his name as a seal upon our arm. As for the future, can you suggest anything which can arise that shall render it necessary for you to mutiny, or desert the old flag to serve under another captain? We think not. If life be long–he changes not. If we are poor, what better than to have Christ who can make us rich? When we are sick, what more do we want than Jesus to make our bed in our sickness? When we die, is it not written that “neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” We say with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

Evening

“Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
Luke 22:46

When is the Christian most liable to sleep? Is it not when his temporal circumstances are prosperous? Have you not found it so? When you had daily troubles to take to the throne of grace, were you not more wakeful than you are now? Easy roads make sleepy travellers. Another dangerous time is when all goes pleasantly in spiritual matters. Christian went not to sleep when lions were in the way, or when he was wading through the river, or when fighting with Apollyon, but when he had climbed half way up the Hill Difficulty, and came to a delightful arbour, he sat down, and forthwith fell asleep, to his great sorrow and loss. The enchanted ground is a place of balmy breezes, laden with fragrant odours and soft influences, all tending to lull pilgrims to sleep. Remember Bunyan’s description: “Then they came to an arbour, warm, and promising much refreshing to the weary pilgrims; for it was finely wrought above head, beautified with greens, and furnished with benches and settles. It had also in it a soft couch, where the weary might lean.” “The arbour was called the Slothful’s Friend, and was made on purpose to allure, if it might be, some of the pilgrims to take up their rest there when weary.” Depend upon it, it is in easy places that men shut their eyes and wander into the dreamy land of forgetfulness. Old Erskine wisely remarked, “I like a roaring devil better than a sleeping devil.” There is no temptation half so dangerous as not being tempted. The distressed soul does not sleep; it is after we enter into peaceful confidence and full assurance that we are in danger of slumbering. The disciples fell asleep after they had seen Jesus transfigured on the mountain top. Take heed, joyous Christian, good frames are near neighbours to temptations: be as happy as you will, only be watchful.

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Do You Know Jesus?

Morning

“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Philippians 3:8

Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with him. No, I must know him myself; I must know him on my own account. It will be an intelligent knowledge–I must know him, not as the visionary dreams of him, but as the Word reveals him. I must know his natures, divine and human. I must know his offices–his attributes–his works–his shame–his glory. I must meditate upon him until I “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” It will be an affectionate knowledge of him; indeed, if I know him at all, I must love him. An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning. Our knowledge of him will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Saviour, my mind will be full to the brim–I shall feel that I have that which my spirit panted after. “This is that bread whereof if a man eat he shall never hunger.” At the same time it will be an exciting knowledge; the more I know of my Beloved, the more I shall want to know. The higher I climb the loftier will be the summits which invite my eager footsteps. I shall want the more as I get the more. Like the miser’s treasure, my gold will make me covet more. To conclude; this knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one; in fact, so elevating, that sometimes it will completely bear me up above all trials, and doubts, and sorrows; and it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than “Man that is born of woman, who is of few days, and full of trouble”; for it will fling about me the immortality of the ever living Saviour, and gird me with the golden girdle of his eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus’s feet and learn of him all this day.

Evening

PS. 24:1-2
1 The earth is the LORD’s,1 and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;2
2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

“And be not conformed to this world.”
Romans 12:2

If a Christian can by possibility be saved while he conforms to this world, at any rate it must be so as by fire. Such a bare salvation is almost as much to be dreaded as desired. Reader, would you wish to leave this world in the darkness of a desponding death bed, and enter heaven as a shipwrecked mariner climbs the rocks of his native country? then be worldly; be mixed up with Mammonites, and refuse to go without the camp bearing Christ’s reproach. But would you have a heaven below as well as a heaven above? Would you comprehend with all saints what are the heights and depths, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge? Would you receive an abundant entrance into the joy of your Lord? Then come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing. Would you attain the full assurance of faith? you cannot gain it while you commune with sinners. Would you flame with vehement love? Your love will be damped by the drenchings of godless society. You cannot become a great Christian–you may be a babe in grace, but you never can be a perfect man in Christ Jesus while you yield yourself to the worldly maxims and modes of business of men of the world. It is ill for an heir of heaven to be a great friend with the heirs of hell. It has a bad look when a courtier is too intimate with his king’s enemies. Even small inconsistencies are dangerous. Little thorns make great blisters, little moths destroy fine garments, and little frivolities and little rogueries will rob religion of a thousand joys. O professor, too little separated from sinners, you know not what you lose by your conformity to the world. It cuts the tendons of your strength, and makes you creep where you ought to run. Then, for your own comfort’s sake, and for the sake of your growth in grace, if you be a Christian, be a Christian, and be a marked and distinct one.

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Ministering Spirits (God’s) and We All are Tempted

Morning

ARE WE READY FOR HIS GLORIOUS RETURN

 

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Hebrews 1:14

Angels are the unseen attendants of the saints of God; they bear us up in their hands, lest we dash our foot against a stone. Loyalty to their Lord leads them to take a deep interest in the children of his love; they rejoice over the return of the prodigal to his father’s house below, and they welcome the advent of the believer to the King’s palace above. In olden times the sons of God were favoured with their visible appearance, and at this day, although unseen by us, heaven is still opened, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon the Son of man, that they may visit the heirs of salvation. Seraphim still fly with live coals from off the altar to touch the lips of men greatly beloved. If our eyes could be opened, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire about the servants of the Lord; for we have come to an innumerable company of angels, who are all watchers and protectors of the seed-royal. Spenser’s line is no poetic fiction, where he sings–

“How oft do they with golden pinions cleave

The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant

Against foul fiends to aid us militant!”

To what dignity are the chosen elevated when the brilliant courtiers of heaven become their willing servitors! Into what communion are we raised since we have intercourse with spotless celestials! How well are we defended since all the twenty- thousand chariots of God are armed for our deliverance! To whom do we owe all this? Let the Lord Jesus Christ be forever endeared to us, for through him we are made to sit in heavenly places far above principalities and powers. He it is whose camp is round about them that fear him; he is the true Michael whose foot is upon the dragon. All hail, Jesus! thou Angel of Jehovah’s presence, to thee this family offers its morning vows.

Evening

TEMPTATION

“He himself hath suffered being tempted.”
Hebrews 2:18

It is a common-place thought, and yet it tastes like nectar to the weary heart–Jesus was tempted as I am. You have heard that truth many times: have you grasped it? He was tempted to the very same sins into which we fall. Do not dissociate Jesus from our common manhood. It is a dark room which you are going through, but Jesus went through it before. It is a sharp fight which you are waging, but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy. Let us be of good cheer, Christ has borne the load before us, and the blood-stained footsteps of the King of glory may be seen along the road which we traverse at this hour. There is something sweeter yet–Jesus was tempted, but Jesus never sinned. Then, my soul, it is not needful for thee to sin, for Jesus was a man, and if one man endured these temptations and sinned not, then in his power his members may also cease from sin. Some beginners in the divine life think that they cannot be tempted without sinning, but they mistake; there is no sin in being tempted, but there is sin in yielding to temptation. Herein is comfort for the sorely tempted ones. There is still more to encourage them if they reflect that the Lord Jesus, though tempted, gloriously triumphed, and as he overcame, so surely shall his followers also, for Jesus is the representative man for his people; the Head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. Fears are needless, for Christ is with us, armed for our defence. Our place of safety is the bosom of the Saviour. Perhaps we are tempted just now, in order to drive us nearer to him. Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Saviour’s love! Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician. Ye tempted ones, come to your tempted Saviour, for he can be touched with a feeling of your infirmities, and will succour every tried and tempted one.

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Mystery of Trees

Morning

Sunset, Crape Myrtle, Crape, Myrtle

“The myrtle trees that were in the bottom.”
Zechariah 1:8

The vision in this chapter describes the condition of Israel in Zechariah’s day; but being interpreted in its aspect towards us, it describes the Church of God as we find it now in the world. The Church is compared to a myrtle grove flourishing in a valley. It is hidden, unobserved, secreted; courting no honour and attracting no observation from the careless gazer. The Church, like her head, has a glory, but it is concealed from carnal eyes, for the time of her breaking forth in all her splendour is not yet come. The idea of tranquil security is also suggested to us: for the myrtle grove in the valley is still and calm, while the storm sweeps over the mountain summits. Tempests spend their force upon the craggy peaks of the Alps, but down yonder where flows the stream which maketh glad the city of our God, the myrtles flourish by the still waters, all unshaken by the impetuous wind. How great is the inward tranquility of God’s Church! Even when opposed and persecuted, she has a peace which the world gives not, and which, therefore, it cannot take away: the peace of God which passeth all understanding keeps the hearts and minds of God’s people. Does not the metaphor forcibly picture the peaceful, perpetual growth of the saints? The myrtle sheds not her leaves, she is always green; and the Church in her worst time still hath a blessed verdure of grace about her; nay, she has sometimes exhibited most verdure when her winter has been sharpest. She has prospered most when her adversities have been most severe. Hence the text hints at victory. The myrtle is the emblem of peace, and a significant token of triumph. The brows of conquerors were bound with myrtle and with laurel; and is not the Church ever victorious? Is not every Christian more than a conqueror through him that loved him? Living in peace, do not the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?

Evening

Fir Tree, Tree, Nature, Fir Needle

“Howl, fir tree, for the cedar is fallen.”
Zechariah 11:2

When in the forest there is heard the crash of a falling oak, it is a sign that the woodman is abroad, and every tree in the whole company may tremble lest to-morrow the sharp edge of the axe should find it out. We are all like trees marked for the axe, and the fall of one should remind us that for every one, whether great as the cedar, or humble as the fir, the appointed hour is stealing on apace. I trust we do not, by often hearing of death, become callous to it. May we never be like the birds in the steeple, which build their nests when the bells are tolling, and sleep quietly when the solemn funeral peals are startling the air. May we regard death as the most weighty of all events, and be sobered by its approach. It ill behoves us to sport while our eternal destiny hangs on a thread. The sword is out of its scabbard–let us not trifle; it is furbished, and the edge is sharp–let us not play with it. He who does not prepare for death is more than an ordinary fool, he is a madman. When the voice of God is heard among the trees of the garden, let fig tree and sycamore, and elm and cedar, alike hear the sound thereof.

Cedar, Cedar Cone, Pine Greenhouse, Tap

Be ready, servant of Christ, for thy Master comes on a sudden, when an ungodly world least expects him. See to it that thou be faithful in his work, for the grave shall soon be digged for thee. Be ready, parents, see that your children are brought up in the fear of God, for they must soon be orphans; be ready, men of business, take care that your affairs are correct, and that you serve God with all your hearts, for the days of your terrestrial service will soon be ended, and you will be called to give account for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be evil. May we all prepare for the tribunal of the great King with a care which shall be rewarded with the gracious commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant”

EPHESIANS 6

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EFFECTUAL CALLING

Sermon #73 The New Park Street Pulpit 1
Volume 2 Tell someone today how much you love Jesus Christ. 1
EFFECTUAL CALLING (IRRESISTIBLE GRACE) NO. 73

A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, APRIL 6, 1856, BY THE REV C. H. SPURGEON, AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK.

“When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for today must I abide at your house.” Luke 19:5.

NOTWITHSTANDING our firm belief that you are, for the most part, well instructed in the doctrines of the everlasting gospel, we are continually reminded in our conversation with young converts how absolutely necessary it is to repeat our former lessons and repeatedly assert and prove over and over again those doctrines which lie at the basis of our holy religion. Our friends, therefore, who have many years ago been taught the great doctrine of effectual calling, will believe that while I preach very simply this morning, the sermon is intended for those who are young in the fear of the Lord—that they may better understand this great starting point of God in the heart—the effectual calling of men by the Holy Spirit. I shall use the case of Zaccheus as a great illustration of the doctrine of effectual calling. You remember the story. Zaccheus had a curiosity to see the wonderful man Jesus Christ, who was turning the world upside down and causing an immense excitement in the minds of men. We sometimes find fault with curiosity and say it is sinful to come to the house of God from that motive. I am not quite sure that we should hazard such an assertion. The motive is not sinful, though certainly it is not virtuous—yet it has often been proved that curiosity is one of the best allies of grace. Zaccheus, moved by this motive, desired to see Christ—but there were two obstacles in the way—first, there was such a crowd of people that he could not get near the Savior. Second, he was so exceedingly short in stature that there was no hope of his reaching over people’s heads to catch a glimpse of Him. What did he do? He did as the boys were doing—for the boys of old times were, no doubt, just like the boys of the present age—they were perched up in the branches of a tree to look at Jesus as He passed along! Elderly man though he is, Zaccheus jumps up and there he sits among the children! The boys are too much afraid of that stern old publican, whom their fathers dreaded, to push him down or cause him any inconvenience. Look at him there—with what anxiety he is peeping down to see which is Christ—for the Savior had no pompous distinction. No one is walking before Him with a silver mace. He did not hold a golden staff in His hand—He had no pontifical dress. In fact, He was dressed just like those around Him! He had a coat like that of a common peasant, made of one piece from top to bottom. Zaccheus could scarcely distinguish Him. However, before he has caught a sight of Christ, Christ has fixed His eyes upon him and, standing under the tree, He looks up and says, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for today I must abide at your house.” Down comes Zaccheus! Christ goes to his house. Zaccheus becomes Christ’s follower, and enters into the kingdom of heaven! I. Now, first, effectual calling is a very gracious truth of God. You may guess this from the fact that Zaccheus was a character whom we would suppose the last to be saved. He belonged to a bad city— Jericho—a city which had been cursed and no one would suspect that anyone would come out of Jericho to be saved! It was near Jericho that the man fell among thieves—we trust Zaccheus had no hand in it— but there are some who, while they are publicans, can be thieves, also. We might as well expect converts from St. Giles’s, or the lowest parts of London, from the worst and vilest dens of infamy, as from Jericho in those days! Ah, my brothers and sisters, it matters not where you come from—you may come from one of the dirtiest streets, one of the worst back slums in London—if effectual grace calls you, it is an effectual call which knows no distinction of place! Zaccheus also was of an exceedingly bad trade, and probably cheated the people in order to enrich himself. Indeed, when Christ went into his house, there was an universal murmur that He had gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner! But, my brothers and sisters, divine grace knows no distinction—it is no respecter of persons! God calls whom He wills and He called this worst of publicans, in the worst of cities, from the worst of trades! Besides, Zaccheus was one who was the least likely to be saved because he was rich. It is true, rich and poor are welcome— no one has the least excuse for despair because of his condition—yet it is a fact that, “not many great men” after the flesh, “not many mighty” are called, but, “God has chosen the poor of this world—rich in faith.” But even here, grace knows no distinction. The rich Zaccheus is called from the tree. Down he comes and he is saved. I have thought it one of the greatest instances of God’s condescension that He can look down on man. But I will tell you there was a greater condescension than that when Christ looked up to see Zaccheus! For God to look down on His creatures—that is mercy—but for Christ so to humble Himself that He has to look up to one of His own creatures—that becomes mercy, indeed! Ah, many of you have climbed up the tree of your own good works and perched yourselves in the branches of your holy actions and are trusting in the free will of the poor creature, or resting in some worldly maxim. Nevertheless, Christ looks up even to proud sinners, and calls them down; “Come down,” He says, “today I must abide at your house.” Had Zaccheus been a humble-minded man, sitting by the wayside, or at the feet of Christ, we would then have admired Christ’s mercy; but here he is lifted up, and Christ looks up to him and bids him come down! II. Next it was a personal call. There were boys in the tree as well as Zaccheus but there was no mistake about the person who was called. It was, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down.” There are other calls mentioned in Scripture. It is said, especially, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Now that is not the effectual call which is intended by the apostle when he said, “Whom He called, them He also justified.” That is a general call which many men, yes, all men reject, unless there comes after it the personal, particular call, which makes us Christians. You will bear me witness that it was a personal call that brought you to the Savior. It was some sermon which led you to feel that you were, no doubt, the person intended. The text, perhaps, was, “You, God, see me.” And perhaps the minister laid particular stress on the word, “me,” so that you thought God’s eyes were fixed upon you. And before the sermon was concluded, you thought you saw God open the books to condemn you and your heart whispered, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? says the Lord.” You might have been perched in the window, or stood packed in the aisle—but you had a solemn conviction that the sermon was preached to you and not to other people! God does not call His people in shoals but in units. “Jesus said unto her, Mary, and she turned and said unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master.” Jesus sees Peter and John fishing by the lake, and He says to them, “Follow Me.” He sees Matthew sitting at the table at the receipt of custom, and He says unto him, “Arise and follow Me,” and Matthew did so. When the Holy Spirit comes home to a man, God’s arrow goes into his heart—it does not graze his helmet, or make some little mark upon his armor—it penetrates between the joints of the harness, entering the marrow of the soul. Have you felt, dear friends, that personal call? Do you remember when a voice said, “Arise, He calls you.” Can you look back to when you said, “My Lord, my God”—when you knew the Spirit was striving with you and you said, “Lord, I come to You, for I know that You call me”? I might call the whole of you throughout eternity but if God calls one, there will be more effect through His personal call of one, than my general call of multitudes! III. Thirdly, it is a hastening call. “Zaccheus, make haste.” The sinner, when he is called by the ordinary ministry, replies, “Tomorrow.” He hears a telling sermon and he says, “I will turn to God, by-and-by.” The tears roll down his cheeks, but they are wiped away. Some goodness appears, but like the cloud of the morning it is dissipated by the sun of temptation. He says, “I solemnly vow from this time to be a reformed man. After I have once more indulged in my darling sin I will renounce my lusts and decide for God.” Ah, that is only a minister’s call and is good for nothing! Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. These good intentions are begotten by general calls! The road to hell is laid all over with branches of the trees whereon men are sitting, for they often pull down branches from the trees, but they do not come down, themselves. The straw laid down before a sick man’s door causes the wheels to roll more noiselessly. So there are some who strew their path with promises of repentance and so go more easily and noiselessly down to the pit of hell! But God’s call is not a call for tomorrow. “Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts: as in the provocation, when your fathers tempted Me.” God’s grace always comes with dispatch—and if you are drawn by God, you will run after God and not be talking about delays! Tomorrow—it is not written in the almanac of time. Tomorrow—it is in Satan’s calendar and nowhere else! Tomorrow—it is a rock whitened by the bones of mariners who have been wrecked upon it. Tomorrow is the wrecker’s light gleaming on the shore, luring poor ships to destruction. Tomorrow—it is the idiot’s cup which he lies at the foot of the rainbow, but which none has ever found. Tomorrow—it is the floating island of Loch Lomond, which none has ever seen. Tomorrow—it is a dream. Tomorrow—it is a delusion. Tomorrow, yes, tomorrow you may lift up your eyes in hell, being in torment. Yonder clock says, “Today.” Your pulse whispers, “Today.” I hear my heart speak as it beats and it says, “Today.” Everything cries, “Today.” And the Holy Spirit is in union with these things and says, “Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” sinners, are you inclined now to seek the Savior? Are you breathing a prayer right now? Are you saying, “Now or never! I must be saved now”? If you are, then I hope it is an effectual call, for Christ, when He gives an effectual call, says, “Zaccheus, make haste.” IV. Next, it is a humbling call. “Zaccheus, make haste and come down.” Many a time has a minister called men to repentance with a call which has made them proud, exalted them in their own esteem and led them to say, “I can turn to God when I like! I can do so without the influence of the Holy Spirit.” They have been called to go up and not to come down. God always humbles a sinner. Can I not remember when God told me to come down? One of the first steps I had to take was to go right down from my good works. And oh, what a fall was that! Then I stood upon my own self-sufficiency and Christ said, “Come down! I have pulled you down from your good works and now I will pull you down from your self-sufficiency.” Well, I had another fall and I felt sure I had gained the bottom, but Christ said, “Come down!” And He made me come down till I fell on some point at which I felt I was not savable. “Down, sir! Come down, yet.” And down I came until I had to let go of every branch of the tree of my hopes in despair. Then I said, “I can do nothing. I am ruined.” The waters were wrapped round my head and I was shut out from the light of day and thought myself a stranger from the commonwealth of Israel. “Come down lower, still, sir! You have too much pride to be saved.” Then I was brought down to see my corruption, my wickedness, my filthiness. “Come down,” says God, when He means to save! Now, proud sinners, it is of no use for you to be proud, to stick yourselves up in the trees—Christ will have you down. Oh, you that dwell with the eagle on the craggy rock, you shall come down from your elevation—you shall fall by grace, or you shall fall with a vengeance one day. He “has cast down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble and meek.” V. Next, it is an affectionate call. “Today I must abide at your house.” You can easily conceive how the faces of the multitude change! They thought Christ to be the holiest and best of men and were ready to make Him a king! But He says, “Today I must abide at your house.” There was one poor Jew who had been inside Zaccheus’ house—he had “been on the carpet,” as they say in country villages when they are taken before the justice—and he recollected what sort of a house it was. He remembered how he was taken in there and his conceptions of it were something like what a fly would have of a spider’s den after he had once escaped! There was another who had been “relieved” of nearly all his property—the idea he had of walking in there was like walking into a den of lions! “What?” they said, “Is this holy man going into such a den as that, where we poor wretches have been robbed and ill-treated? It was bad enough for Christ to speak to him up in the tree, but the idea of going into his house!” They all murmured at His going to be “a guest with a man who was a sinner.” Well, I know what some of His disciples thought— they thought it very imprudent—it might injure His Character and He might offend the people. They thought He might have gone to see this man at night, like Nicodemus, and give him an audience when nobody saw Him! To acknowledge such a man publicly was the most imprudent act He could commit! Why did Christ do as He did? Because He would give Zaccheus an affectionate call. “I will not come and stand at your threshold, or look in at your window, but I will come into your house—the same house where the cries of widows have come into your ears and you have disregarded them. I will come into your parlor, where the weeping of the orphan has never moved your compassion. I will come there where you, like a ravenous lion have devoured your prey. I will come there, where you have blackened your house and made it infamous. I will come into the place where cries have risen to high heaven, wrung from the lips of those whom you have oppressed! I will come into your house and give you a blessing.” Oh, what affection there was in that! Poor sinner, my Master is a very affectionate Master! He will come into your house. What kind of a house have you got? A house that you have made miserable with your drunkenness—a house you have defiled with your impurity—a house you have defiled with your cursing and swearing—a house where you are carrying on an illegal trade that you would be glad to get rid of? Christ says, “I will come into your house.” And I know some houses, now, that once were dens of sin where Christ comes every morning! Husband and wife, who once only could quarrel and fight, bend their knees together in prayer! Christ comes there at dinnertime, when the workman comes home for his meals. Some of my hearers can scarcely come for an hour to their meals but they must have word of prayer and reading of the Scriptures! Christ comes to them! Where the walls were plastered up with the lascivious songs and idle pictures, there is a Christian almanac in one place. There is a Bible on the chest of drawers—and though it is only one room they live in—if an angel should come in and God should
say, “What have you seen in that house?” he would say, “I have seen good furniture, for there is a Bible there—here and there a religious book—the filthy pictures are pulled down and burned; there are no cards in the man’s cupboard, now. Christ has come into his house.” Oh, what a blessing that we have our household God as well as the Romans! Our God is a household God; He comes to live with His people! He loves the tents of Jacob. Now, poor rag-muffin sinner, you who live in the filthiest den in London—if such an one is here, Jesus says to you, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for today I must abide at your house.” VI. Again, it was not only an affectionate call, but it was an abiding call. “Today I must abide at your house.” A common call is like this, “Today I shall walk into your house at one door and out at the other.” The common call which is given by the gospel to all men is a call which operates upon them for a time and then it is all over—but the saving call is an abiding call. When Christ speaks, He does not say, “Make haste, Zaccheus and come down, for I am just coming to look in.” No. He says, “I must abide at your house. I am coming to sit down to eat and drink with you. I am coming to have a meal with you. Today I must abide at your house.” “Ah,” says one, “you cannot tell how many times I have been impressed, sir. I have often had a series of solemn convictions and I thought I was really saved—but it all died away—like a dream. When one awakes, all has vanished that he dreamed. So was it with me.” Ah, but poor soul, do not despair! Do you feel the strivings of almighty grace within your heart bidding you repent today? If you do, it will be an abiding call. If it is Jesus at work in your soul, He will come and tarry in your heart and consecrate you for His own forever! He says, “I will come and dwell with you, and that forever. I will come and say— Here I will make My settled rest, No more will go and come. No more a stranger or a guest, But Master of this home.” “Oh,” you say, “that is what I want! I want an abiding call, something that will last. I do not want a religion that will wash out, but a fast-color religion.” Well, that is the kind of call Christ gives! His ministers cannot give it—but when Christ speaks, He speaks with power and says, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for today I must abide at your house.” VII. There is one thing, however, I cannot forget, and that is that it was a necessary call. Just read it over again. “Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for today I must abide at your house.” It was not a thing that He might do, or might not do—it was a necessary call! The salvation of a sinner is as much a matter of necessity with God as the fulfillment of His covenant that the rain shall no more drown the world. The salvation of every blood-bought child of God is a necessary thing for three reasons—It is necessary because it is God’s purpose. It is necessary because it is Christ’s purchase, and it is necessary because it is God’s promise. It is necessary that the child of God should be saved. Some divines think it is very wrong to lay a stress on the word, “must,” especially in that passage where it is said, “He must go through Samaria.” “Why,” they say, “He must go through Samaria because there was no other way He could go and, therefore, He was forced to go that way.” Yes, Gentlemen, we reply, no doubt. But then there might have been another way. Providence made it so that He must go through Samaria and that Samaria should lie in the route He had chosen. “He must go through Samaria.” Providence directed man to build Samaria directly in the road and grace compelled the Savior to move in that direction. It was not, “Come down, Zaccheus, because I may abide at your house,” but, “I must.” The Savior felt a strong necessity. Just as much a necessity as there is that man should die. As strong a necessity as there is that the sun should give us light by day and the moon by night—just so much a necessity is there that every blood-bought child of God shall be saved! “Today I must abide at your house.” And oh, when the Lord comes to this—that He must—then He will! What a thing it is with the poor sinner, then! At other times we ask, “Shall I let Him in at all? There is a stranger at the door. He is knocking now—He has knocked before—shall I let Him in?” But this time it is, “I must abide at your house.” There was no knocking at the door, but smash went the door into atoms! And in He walked—“I must, I shall, I will—I care not for your protecting your vileness, your unbelief. I must, I will—I must abide at your house.” “Ah,” says one, “I do not believe God would ever make me to believe as you believe, or become a Christian at all.” Ah, but if He shall but say, “Today I must abide at your house,” there will be no resistance in you. There are some of you who would scorn the very idea of being a canting Methodist—“What, sir? Do you suppose I would ever turn into one of your religious people?” No, my friend, I don’t suppose it—I know it for a certainty—if God says, “I must,” there is no standing against it! Let Him say, “must,” and it will be!

I will just tell you an anecdote proving this. “A father was about sending his son to college, but as he knew the influence to which he would be exposed, he was not without a deep and anxious solicitude for the spiritual and eternal welfare of his favorite child. Fearing lest the principles of Christian faith, which he had endeavored to instill into his mind, would be rudely assailed, but trusting in the efficacy of that word which is quick and powerful, he purchased, unknown to his son, an elegant copy of the Bible and deposited it at the bottom of his trunk. The young man entered upon his college career. The restraints of a pious education were soon broken off and he proceeded from speculation to doubts and from doubts to a denial of the reality of religion! After having become, in his own estimation, wiser than his father, he discovered one day, while rummaging his trunk, with great surprise and indignation, the sacred deposit. He took it out and while deliberating on the manner in which he would treat it, he determined that he would use it as waste paper on which to wipe his razor while shaving. Accordingly, every time he went to shave, he tore out a leaf or two of the holy book and thus used it till nearly half the volume was destroyed. But while he was committing this outrage upon the sacred book, a text now and then met his eye, and was carried like a barbed arrow to his heart! At length, he heard a sermon which discovered to him his own character, and his exposure to the wrath of God. It riveted upon his mind—the impression which he had received from the last torn leaf of the blessed, yet insulted volume. Had worlds been at his disposal, he would freely have given them all, could they have availed in enabling him to undo what he had done! At length he found forgiveness at the foot of the cross. The torn leaves of that sacred volume brought healing to his soul—for they led him to repose on the mercy of God—which is sufficient for the chief of sinners! I tell you there is not a reprobate walking the streets and defiling the air with his blasphemies. There is not a creature abandoned so as to be well-nigh as bad as Satan, himself—if he is a child of life—who is not within the reach of mercy! And if God says, “Today I must abide at your house,” He assuredly will! Do you feel, my dear hearer, just now, something in your mind which seems to say you have held out against the gospel a long while, but today you can hold out no longer? Do you feel that a strong hand has got hold of you and do you hear a voice saying, “Sinner, I must abide at your house; you have often scorned Me, you have often laughed at Me, you have often spit in the face of mercy, often blasphemed Me, but sinner, I must abide at your house! You banged the door yesterday in the missionary’s face; you burned the tract, you laughed at the minister, you have cursed God’s house, you have violated the Sabbath—but, sinner, I must abide at your house and I will”? “What? Lord,” you say, “abide at my house? Why it is covered all over with iniquity. Abide in my house? Why there is not a chair or a table but would cry out against me. Abide in my house? Why the joists and beams and flooring would all rise up and tell You that I am not worthy to kiss the hem of Your garment! What? Lord, abide at my house?” “Yes,” He says, “I must. There is a strong necessity, My powerful love compels Me, and whether you will let Me or not, I am determined to make you willing and you shall let Me in.” Does not this surprise you, poor trembler—you who thought that mercy’s day was gone and that the bell of your destruction had tolled your death-knell? Oh, does not this surprise you, that Christ not only asks you to come to Him, but invites Himself to your table and, what is more, when you would send Him away, kindly says, “I must—I will come in”? Only think of Christ going after a sinner, crying after a sinner, begging a sinner to let Him save him—and that is just what Jesus does to His chosen ones! The sinner runs away from Him, but Free grace pursues him and says, “Sinner, come to Christ.” And if our hearts are shut up, Christ puts His hand in at the door, and if we do not rise, but repulse Him coldly, He says, “I must, I will come in.” He weeps over us till His tears win us! He cries after us till His cries prevail—and at last, in His own well-determined hour, He enters into our heart and there He dwells. “I must abide at your house,” says Jesus. VIII. And now, lastly, this call was an effectual one, for we see the fruits it brought forth; open was Zaccheus’ door; his table was spread; washed were his hands; unburdened was his conscience, and joyful was his soul. He said, “Here, Lord, the half of my goods I gladly give to the poor; I dare say I have robbed them of half my property, and now I restore it; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I will restore it to him fourfold.” Away goes another portion of his property! Ah, Zaccheus, you will go to bed tonight a great deal poorer than when you got up this morning—but infinitely richer, too! Poor, very poor, in this world’s goods, compared with what you were when you first climbed that sycamore tree. But richer—infinitely richer—in heavenly treasure! sinner, we shall know whether God calls you by this—if He calls, it will be an effectual call—not a call which you hear and then forget—but one which produces good works! If God has called you this morning, down will go that drunken cup, up will go your prayers! If God has called you this morning, there will not be one shutter down today in your shop, but all and you will have a notice stuck up, “This house is closed on the Sabbath, and will not again on that day be opened.” Tomorrow there will be such-and-such worldly amusement—but if God has called you, you will not go! And if you have robbed anybody, (and who knows but I may have a thief, here), if God calls you, there will be a restoration of what you have stolen—you will give up all that you have—so that you will follow God with all your heart! We do not believe a man to be converted unless he does renounce the error of his ways—unless, practically, he is brought to know that Christ Himself is Master of his conscience, and His law is his delight! “Zaccheus, make haste and come down; I must abide at your house.” And he made haste and came down and Jesus received him joyfully. “And Zaccheus stood and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Now, one or two lessons. A lesson to the proud. Come down, proud heart, come down! Mercy runs in valleys, but it goes not to the mountaintop. Come down, come down, lofty spirit! The lofty city—He lays it low even to the ground and then He builds it up. Again, a lesson to the poor despairing soul—I am glad to see you in God’s house this morning—it is a good sign. I care not what you came for. You heard there was a strange kind of man that preached here, perhaps. Never mind about that. You are all quite as strange as he is! It is necessary that there should be strange men to gather in other strange men. Now, I have a mass of people here. And if I might use a figure, I would compare you to a great heap of ashes, mingled with which are a few steel filings. Now, my sermon, if it is attended with divine grace, will be a sort of magnet—it will not attract any of the ashes—they will stay just where they are—but it will draw out the steel filings! I have got a Zaccheus there! There is a Mary up there! A John down there, a Sarah, or a William, or a Thomas there—God’s chosen ones—they are steel filings in the congregation of ashes and my gospel, the gospel of the blessed God, like a great magnet, draws them out of the heap! There they come, there they come! Why? Because there was a magnetic power between the gospel and their hearts. Ah, poor sinner, come to Jesus, believe His love, trust His mercy. If you have a desire to come—if you are forcing your way through the ashes to get to Christ—then it is because Christ is calling you! Oh, all of you who know yourselves to be sinners—every man, woman and child of you—yes, you little children (for God has given me some of you to be my wages), do you feel yourselves sinners? Then believe on Jesus and be saved! You have come here from curiosity, many of you. Oh, that you might be met with and saved! I am distressed for you, lest you should sink into hell. Oh, listen to Christ while He speaks to you! Christ says, “Come down.” This morning go home and humble yourselves in the sight of God. Go and confess your iniquities that you have sinned against Him. Go home and tell Him that you are a wretch, undone without His sovereign grace. Then look to Him, for rest assured He has first looked to you. You say, “sir, oh, I am willing enough to be saved, but I am afraid He is not willing.” Stop! Stop! No more of that! Do you know that is part blasphemy? Not quite all. If you were not ignorant, I would tell you that it was full blasphemy! You cannot look to Christ before He has looked to you. If you are willing to be saved, He gave you that will! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized and you shall be saved. I trust the Holy Spirit is calling you. Young man up there, young man in the window, make haste! Come down! Old man, sitting in these pews, come down! Merchant in yonder aisle, make haste! Matron and youth, not knowing Christ, oh, may He look at you! Old grandmother, hear the gracious call! And you, young lad, Christ may be looking at you—I trust He is—and saying to you, “Make haste and come down, for today I must abide at your house.”

Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Version 1.0, Ages Software.

PRAY THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL USE THIS SERMON TO BRING MANY TO A SAVING KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST!

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