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19 October, 2013

Things that accompany Salvation - Part 2

REV. C. H. Spurgeon, September 20, 1857 

"Things that accompany Salvation."—Hebrews 6:9.

    Now, my dear hearers, this advance-guard is so far ahead that you and I cannot see them. These are true doctrines, but very mysterious; they are beyond our sight, and if we wish to see Salvation, we must not stop until we see the van-guard, because they are so far off that only the eye of faith can reach them. We must have that sacred glass, that divine telescope of faith, or else we shall never have the evidence of things not seen. Let us rest certain, however, that if we have Salvation we have Election. He that believeth is elected whoever casts himself on Christ as a guilty sinner, is certainly God's chosen child. As sure as ever you believe on the Saviour, and go to him, you were predestinated to do so from all eternity, and your faith is the great mark and evidence that you are chosen of God, and precious in his esteem. 

Dost thou believe? Then Election is thine. Dost thou believe? Then Predestination is as surely thine as thou art alive. Dost thou trust alone in Jesus? Then fear not, Redemption was meant for thee. So then, we will not be struck with terror at that grand advance-guard that hath already gained the celestial hill, and have prepared the place where the elect shall for ever repose upon the bosom of their God.

    II. But mark, we are about to review THE ARMY THAT IMMEDIATELY PRECEDES SALVATION; and first, in the forefront of these, there marches one whose name we must pronounce with sacred awe. It is God, the Holy Spirit. Before anything can be done in our salvation, there must come that Third Person of the Sacred Trinity. Without him, faith, repentance, humility, love, are things quite impossible. Even the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot save until it has been applied to the heart by God the Holy Spirit. Before we notice the grand army, then, that immediately precedes Salvation, let us be cautious that we do not forget Him who is the leader of them all. 

The great King, Immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit: it is he that quickens the soul, or else it would lie dead for ever; it is he that makes it tender, or else it would never feel, it is he that imparts efficacy to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is he who breaks the heart, it is he who makes it whole: he, from first to last, is the great worker of Salvation in us just as Jesus Christ was the author of Salvation for us. O soul, by this mayest thou know whether Salvation has come to thine house—art thou a partaker of the Holy Spirit? Come now, answer thou this question—hath he ever breathed on thee? Hath he ever breathed into thee? Canst thou say that thou hast been the subject of his supernatural influence? 

For, if not, remember except a man be born of the Spirit from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Thy best exertions will be all unavailing unless the Holy Ghost shall work in thee, to will and to do of God's good pleasure. The highest efforts of the flesh can never reach higher than the flesh, just as water of itself will never run higher than its source. You may be moral, you may be strictly upright, you may be much that is commendable, but unless you be partakers of the Holy Spirit, salvation is as impossible to you as it is even to the lost. We must be born again, and born again by that divine influence, or else it is all in vain. Remember, then, that the Spirit of God always accompanies Salvation.

    And now, close in the rear of the adorable Spirit follow the Thundering Legion. No sooner does God the Holy Ghost come into the soul, than he brings with him what I have called the Thundering Legion; and those of you that have been saved will not be at a loss to understand what I mean. This Thundering Legion are clad in mail, their helmets wave with horror; their speech is rough like men that come from a far country; their faces are terrible to look upon, for they are like unto lions, and do terribly affright the timid. Some of the men in this Thundering Legion bear with them swords; with these swords they are to slay the sinner. For before he can be made whole, he must be spiritually killed, the sword must pierce him, and must slay all his selfishness before he can be brought to the Lord Jesus. 

Then another body of them carry with them axes, with which they cut down the thick trees of our pride and abase the goodly cedars of our righteousness. There are with them those that fill up the wells with stones, and break up all the cisterns of our carnal sufficiency, until we are driven to despair, having all our hopes despoiled. Then come those who, with brazen trumpets, or with trumps of ram's horns—like those who once razed Jericho level with the ground—do blow a blast, so shrill and dread, that the sinner thinks that even the yells of hell itself could not be more terrible. Then come those who with lances pierce the spirit through and through; and in the rear are the ten great guns, the artillery of the law, which, perpetually fire upon the wounded spirit till it knows not what it is, nor what it does. My friend, has this Thundering Legion ever come to your house? 

Have they ever taken up their quarters in your heart? For, rest assured, these are some of the "things that accompany Salvation." What I have said is no allegory to those who have been converted, but it may be a mystery to those who know not the Lord. Understand, then, that the first work of God the Spirit in the soul is a terrible work. Before a man can be truly converted, he must suffer great agony of spirit; all our self-righteousness must be laid level with the ground, and trampled like the miry streets. Our carnal hopes must, every one of them, be cut in pieces, and our refuges of lies must be swept away with the hail of God's anger. The law of God will appear terrible to the sinner when he is first convinced of sin. 

"What have I done?" he will say. Or rather, "What have I undone? I have undone myself." See him when God the Spirit has first convinced him of sin; you would think him mad; he is thought to be mad by his worldly companions. He weeps day and night, tears become his meat and his drink; he can scarcely sleep for the dreams of hell, and when he wakes he thinks he feels it already. "Oh, the wrath to come, the wrath to come, the wrath to come!" that seems to be ever pressing on his heart. He is like John Bunyan's pilgrim, he has a heavy burden on his back, and he knows not how to get rid of it, he wrings his hands and cries "What shall I do? I am undone

I have rebelled against God, and God is angry with me." Ah, I tell you this Thundering Legion is a terrible thing indeed. God be praised, when once they go out of the heart there is some joy; but whilst they are billited in the conscience of man, I defy him to eat or drink with any mirth or joy. The poor town of Mansoul is hung with black all the time these rough soldiers are there. Hideous threatenings and doleful forebodings are the sinner's only company in such a case. He seeks to find a little hope and comfort in his own doings; down comes the hammer of the Law, and breaks all his doings to pieces. 

He thinks, well he will rest on the couch of Indifference and Sloth; forth comes the Law, ties him to the halberts, takes its ten-thonged whip and begins to lay on to him with all his might till his heart bleeds again. Then comes Conscience with its brine, and washes him all over; and he is exceedingly tormented, for even his bed is become a bed of spikes and thorns. This Thundering Legion always precedes Salvation. More or less of terrors every man must feel before he is converted. Some have less, some have more; but there must be some measure of this terrible law work in the soul, or else Salvation is not come to a man's house.

    Oh, Thundering Legion, ye are gone; we hear their trumpets and the dying echoes still appall us. We can remember, brethren, those terrible days when they were in our house and in our heart. They are gone. What see we in the rear of them? Close in the rear there follows a broken heart. Look at it; do not despise it, God never despises it, do not thou. "A broken and a contrite heart O God thou wilt not despise." I see how this poor broken heart is broken; it is rent to its very eye and center; it is bathed in tears; it is overwhelmed with suffering. See its humility; it never talks about boasting now. Mark its repentance, the sins it loved before it hates now; it speaks not about self-salvation. Hear it, as the broken heart speaks out its broken language. 

Hear it—"Lord have mercy upon me a sinner!" Do not fear to come and look at this broken heart; how sweetly is it perfumed! The sacred smell of a sacrifice which God approves rises from it. Hear it, as again it speaks—"Lord, save, or I perish." See this poor broken heart when it is in the world and at its business; it interrupts its business with ejaculations like these—"Oh that—Ah, ah—would that!" And when it can get alone, it pours out its heart before God, and cries,

Unclean, unclean, and full of sin

From first to last, O Lord I've been;
Deceitful is my heart.

Oh wash my soul in Jesus' blood; forgive me all my guilt, and I will be thy servant for ever and ever.

    Dear hearers, has this broken heart ever come to your house? Rest assured I am speaking God's own truth, that admits of no dispute—unless this broken heart has come within your bosom you cannot be made partakers of Christ. The heart must first be pounded in the mortar of conviction, and beaten in pieces with the pestle of the law, or else it never can receive the grace of the Comforter in all its plenitude. Are you broken-hearted to-day? Are you sorrowful at this very hour? Be of good cheer, Salvation is not far behind. When there is once a broken heart there is mercy very near. The broken heart is the prelude of healing. He that kills will make whole; he that woundeth will bind up; he that smote will cure. God is looking on thee with love, and will have mercy upon thee.