IS it not imprudent for any man to trust Christ to save him, and especially when he has no good thing whatever? Is it not an arrogant presumption for any man to trust Christ? No, sirs, it is not. It is a grand and noble work of God the Holy Spirit for a man to give the lie to all his sins, and still to believe and set to his seal that God is true, and believe in the virtue of the blood of Jesus. But why does any man dare to believe in Christ? I will ask you now. “Well,” saith one man, “I summoned faith to believe in Christ because I did feel there was a work of the Spirit in me.” You do not believe in Christ at all. “Well,” says another, “I thought that I had a right to believe in Christ, because I felt somewhat.” You had not any right to believe in Christ at all on such a warranty as that.
What is a man’s warrant then for believing in Christ? Here it is. Christ tells him to do it, that is his warrant. Christ’s word is the warrant of the sinner for believing in Christ — not what he feels nor what he is, nor what he is not, but that Christ has told him to do it. The Gospel runs thus: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth not shall be damned.”
Faith in Christ then is a commanded duty as well as a blessed privilege, and what a mercy it is that it is a duty because there never can be any question but that a man has a right to do his duty. Now on the ground that God commands me to believe, I have a right to believe, be I who I may. The gospel is sent to every creature. Well, I belong to that tribe; I am one of the every creatures, and that gospel commands me to believe, and I do it. I cannot have done wrong in doing it, for I was commanded to do so. I cannot be wrong in obeying a command of God.
Now it is a command of God given to every creature that he should believe on Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent. This is your warrant, sinner, and a blessed warrant it is, for it is one which hell cannot gainsay, and which heaven cannot withdraw. You need not be looking within to look for the misty warrants of your experience, you need not be looking to your works, and to your feelings, to get some dull and insufficient warrants for your confidence in Christ. You may believe Christ because he tells you to do so.
That is a sure ground to stand on, and one which admits of no doubt.
I will suppose that we are all starving; that the city has been besieged and shut up, and there has been a long, long famine, and we are ready to die of hunger. There comes out an invitation to us to repair at once to the palace of some great one, there to eat and drink; but we have grown foolish, and will not accept the invitation. Suppose now that some hideous madness has got hold of us, and we prefer to die, and had rather starve than come.
Suppose the king’s herald should say, “Come and feast, poor hungry souls, and because I know you are unwilling to come, I add this threat, if you come not my warriors shall be upon you; they shall make you feel the sharpness of their swords.” I think, my dear friends, we should say, “We bless the great man for that threatening, because now we need not say, ‘I may not come,’ while the fact is we may not stop away. Now I need not say I am not fit to come, for I am commanded to come, and I am threatened if I do not come; and I will even go.”
That awful sentence — “He that believeth not shall be damned,” was added not out of anger, but because the Lord knew our silly madness, and that we should refuse our own mercies unless he thundered at us to make us come to the feast. “Compel them to come in;” this was the Word of the Master of old, and that text is part of the carrying out of that exhortation, “Compel them to come in.” Sinner, you cannot be lost by trusting Christ, but you will be lost if you do not trust him, ay, and lost for not trusting him. I put it boldly now; sinner, not only may you come, but oh! I pray you, do not defy the wrath of God by refusing to come. The gate of mercy stands wide open; why will you not come? Why will you not? Why so proud? Why will you still refuse his voice and perish in your sins? Mark, if you perish, any one of you, your blood lies not at God’s door, nor Christ’s door, but at your own. He can say of you, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” Oh! poor trembler, if thou be willing to come, there is nothing in God’s Word to keep thee from coming, but there are both threatenings to drive thee, and powers to draw thee.
Still I hear you say, “I must not trust Christ.” You may, I say, for every creature under heaven is commanded to do it, and what you are commanded to do, you may do. “Ah! well,” saith one, “still I do not feel that I may.” There you are again; you say you will not do what God tells you, because of some stupid feelings of your own. You are not told to trust Christ because you feel anything, but simply because you are a sinner.
Now you know you are a sinner. “I am,” says one, “and that is my sorrow.” Why your sorrow? That is some sign that you do feel. “Ay,” saith one, “but I do not feel enough, and that is why I sorrow. I do not feel as I should.” Well, suppose you do feel, or suppose you do not, you are a sinner, and “this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” “Oh, but I am such an old sinner; I have been sixty years in sin.” Where is it written that after sixty you cannot be saved? Sir, Christ could save you at a hundred — ay, if you were a Methuselah in guilt. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” “Whosoever will let him come.” “He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him.” “Yes,” says one, “but I have been a drunkard, a swearer, or lascivious, or profane.” Then you are a sinner, you have not gone further than the uttermost, and he is able to save you still. “Ay,” saith another, “but you do not know how my guilt has been aggravated.” That only proves you to be a sinner, and that you are commanded to trust Christ and be saved. “Ay,” cries yet another, “but you do not know how often I have rejected Christ.”
Yes, but that only makes you the more a sinner. “You do not know how hard my heart is.” Just so, but that only proves you to be a sinner, and still proves you to be one whom Christ came to save. “Oh, but sir, I have not any good thing. If I had, you know, I should have something to encourage me.”‘ The fact of your not having any good thing just proves to me that you are the man I am sent to preach to. Christ came to save that which was lost, and all you have said only proves that you are lost, and therefore he came to save you. Do trust him; do trust him. “But if I am saved,” saith one, “I shall be the biggest sinner that ever was saved.” Then the greater music in heaven when you get there; the more glory to Christ, for the bigger the sinner the more honor to Christ when at last he shall be brought home. “Ay, but my sin has abounded.” His grace shall much more abound. “But my sin has reached even to heaven.” Yes, but his mercy reaches above the heavens. “Oh! but my guilt is as broad as the world.” Yes, but his righteousness is broader than a thousand worlds. “Ay, but my sin is scarlet.” Yes, but his blood is more scarlet than your sins, and can wash the scarlet out by a richer scarlet. “Ay, but I deserve to be lost, and death and hell cry for my damnation.” Yes, and so they may, but the blood of Jesus Christ can cry louder than either death or hell; and it cries today, “Father, let the sinner live.”
Oh! I wish I could get this thought out of my own mouth, and get it into your heads, that when God saves you, it is not because of anything in you, it is because of something in himself. God’s love has no reason except in his own bowels; God’s reason for pardoning a sinner is found in his own heart, and not m the sinner. And there is as much reason in you why you should be saved as why another should be saved, namely, no reason at all.
There is no reason in you why he should have mercy on you, but there, is no reason wanted, for the reason lies in God and in God alone.