Another says, `I want to know about the rest of the people. May I go out and tell them - Jesus Christ died for every one of you? May I say - there is life for every one of you?' No; you may not. You may say - there is life for every man that comes. But if you say there is life for one of those that do not believe, you utter a dangerous lie. If you tell them Jesus Christ was punished for their sins, and yet they will be lost, you tell a willful falsehood. To think that God could punish Christ and then punish them - I wonder at your daring to have the impudence to say so! A good man was once preaching that there were harps and crowns in heaven for all his congregation; and then he wound up in a most solemn manner: `My dear friends, there are many for whom these things are prepared who will not get there.' In fact, he made such a pitiful tale, as indeed he might do; but I tell you who he ought to have wept for - he ought to have wept for the angels of heaven and all the saints, because that would spoil heaven thoroughly.
You know when you meet at Christmas, if you have lost your brother David and his seat is empty, you say: `Well, we always enjoyed Christmas, but there is a drawback to it now - poor David is dead and buried!' Think of the angels saying: `Ah! this is a beautiful heaven, but we don't like to see all those crowns up there with cobwebs on; we cannot endure that uninhabited street: we cannot behold yon empty thrones.' And then, poor souls, they might begin talking to one another, and say, `we are none of us safe here for the promise was - "I give unto my sheep eternal life," and there is a lot of them in hell that God gave eternal life to; there is a number that Christ shed his blood for burning in the pit, and if they may be sent there, so may we. If we cannot trust one promise we cannot another.' So heaven would lose its foundation, and fall. Away with your nonsensical gospel! God gives us a safe and solid one, built on covenant doings and covenant relationships, on eternal purposes and sure fulfillments.
No Man Wills To Come
IV. This brings us to the fourth point, THAT BY NATURE NO MAN WILL COME TO CHRIST, for the text says, `Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.' I assert on Scripture authority from my text, that ye will not come unto Christ, that ye might have life. I tell you, I might preach to you for ever, I might borrow the eloquence of Demosthenes or of Cicero, but ye will not come unto Christ. I might beg of you on my knees, with tears in my eyes, and show you the horrors of hell and the joys of heaven, the sufficiency of Christ, and your own lost condition, but you would none of you come unto Christ of yourselves unless the Spirit that rested on Christ should draw you. It is true of all men in their natural condition that they will not come unto Christ.
But methinks I hear another of these babblers asking a question: `But could they not come if they liked?' My friend, I will reply to thee another time. That is not the question this morning. I am talking about whether they will, not whether they can. You will notice whenever you talk about free will, the poor Arminian, in two seconds begins to talk about power, and he mixes up two subjects that should be kept apart. We will not take two subjects at once; we decline fighting two at the same time, if you please. Another day we will preach from this text: - `No man can come except the Father draw him.' But it is only the will we are talking about now; and it is certain that men will not come unto Christ, that they might have life.
We might prove this from many texts of Scripture, but we will take one parable. You remember the parable where a certain king had a feast for his son, and bade a great number to come; the oxen and fatlings were killed, and he sent his messengers bidding many to the supper. Did they go to the feast? Ah, no; but they all, with one accord began to make excuse. One said he had married a wife, and therefore he could not come, whereas he mighty have brought her with him. Another had bought a yoke of oxen, and went to prove them; but the feast was in the night-time, and he could not prove his oxen in the dark. Another had bought a piece of land, and wanted to see it; but I should not think he went to see it with a lantern. So they all made excuses and would not come. Well the king was determined to have the feast; so he said, `Go into the highways and hedges, and' invite them - stop! not invite - `compel them to come in,' for even the ragged fellows in the hedges would never have come unless they were compelled.
Take another parable: A certain man had a vineyard; at the appointed season he sent one of his servants for his rent. What did they do to him? They beat that servant. He sent another; and they stoned him. He sent another and they killed him. And, at last, he said, `I will send them my son, they will reverence him.' But what did they do? They said, `This is the heir, let us kill him, and cast him out of the vineyard.' So they did. It is the same with all men by nature. The Son of God came, yet men rejected him. `Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.'
The Fall - How Far?
It would take too much time to mention any more Scripture proofs. We will, however, refer to the great doctrine of the fall. Any one who believes that man's will is entirely free, and that he can be saved by it, does not believe the fall. As I sometimes tell you, few preachers of religion do believe thoroughly the doctrine of the fall, or else they think that when Adam fell down he broke his little finger, and did not break his neck and ruin his race. Why, beloved, the fall broke man up entirely. It did not leave one power unimpaired; they were all shattered, and debased, and tarnished; like some mighty temple, the pillars might be there, the shaft, and the column, and the pilaster might be there; but they were all broken, though some of them retain their form and position. The conscience of man sometimes retains much of its tenderness - still it has fallen. The will, too, is not except. What though it is `the Lord Mayor of Mansoul,' as Bunyan calls it? - the Lord Mayor goes wrong. The Lord Will-be-will was continually doing wrong.
Your fallen nature was put out of order; your will, amongst other things, has clean gone astray from God. But I tell you what will be the best proof of that; it is the great fact that you never did meet a Christian in your life who ever said he came to Christ without Christ coming to him.
No 'Free Will' Prayers
You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say; but you never heard an Arminian prayer - for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying, `Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not - that is the difference between me and them.'
That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah! when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out.
I ask you again, did you ever meet a Christian man who said `I came to Christ without the power of the Spirit?' If you ever did meet such a man, you need have no hesitation in saying, `My dear sir, I quite believe it - and I believe you went away again without the power of the Spirit, and that you know nothing about the matter, and are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.' Do I hear one Christian man saying, `I sought Jesus before he sought me; I went to the Spirit, and the Spirit did not come to me'? No, beloved; we are obliged, each one of us, to put our hands to our hearts and say -
`Grace taught my soul to pray, And made my eyes o'erflow; `Twas grace that kept me of this day, And will not let me go.'
Is there one here - a solitary one - man or woman, young or old, who can say, `I sought God before he sought me'? No; even you who are a little Arminian, will sing -
`O yes! I do love Jesus - Because he first loved me.'
Then, one more question. Do we not find, even after we have come to Christ, our soul is not free, but is kept by Christ? do we not find times, even now, when to will is not present with us. There is a law in our members, warring against the law of our minds. Now, if those who are spiritually alive feel that their will is contrary to God, what shall we say of the man who is dead in trespasses and sins? It would be a marvelous absurdity to put the two on a level; and it would be still more absurd to put the dead before the living. No; the text is true, experience has branded it into our hearts, `Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.'
Why None Come
Now, we must tell you the reasons why men will not come unto Christ. The first is, because no man by nature thinks he wants Christ. By nature man conceives that he does not need Christ; he thinks that he has a robe of righteousness of his own, that he is well dressed, that he is not naked, that he needs not Christ's blood to wash him, that he is not black or crimson, and needs no grace to purify him. No man knows his need until God shows it to him; and until the Holy Spirit revels the necessity of pardon, no man will seek pardon. I may preach Christ for ever, but unless you feel you want Christ you will never come to him. A doctor may have a good shop, but nobody will buy his medicines until he feels he wants them.
The next reason is, because men do not like Christ's way of saving them. One says, `I do not like it because he makes me holy; I cannot drink or swear if he saved me.' Another says, `It requires me to be so precise and puritanical, and I like a little more licens'. Another does not like it because the 'gate of heaven' is not quite high enough for his head, and he does not like stooping. That is the chief reason ye will not come to Christ, because ye cannot get to him with your heads straight up in the air; for Christ makes you stoop when you come. Another does not like it to be grace from first to last. `Oh!' he says, `if I might have a little honor.' But when he hears it is all Christ or no Christ, a whole Christ or no Christ, he says, `I shall not come,' and turns on his heel and turns away. Ah! proud sinners, ye will not come to Christ. Ah! ignorant sinners, ye will not come unto Christ, because ye know nothing of him. And that is the third reason.
Men do not know his worth, for if they did they would come unto him. Why did not sailors go to America before Columbus went? Because they did not believe there was an America. Columbus had faith, therefore he went. He who hath faith in Christ goes to him. But you don't know Jesus; many of you never saw his beauteous face; you never saw how applicable his blood is to a sinner, how great is his atonement; and how all-sufficient are his merits. Therefore, `ye will not come unto him.'
And oh! my hearers, my last thought is a solemn one. I have preached that ye will not come. But some will say, `it is their sin that they do not come.' It is so. You will not come, but then your will is a sinful will. Some think that we `sew pillows to all armholes' when we preach this doctrine, but we don't. We do not set this down as being part of man's original nature, but as belonging to his fallen nature. It is sin that has brought you into this condition that you will not come. If you had not fallen, you would come to Christ the moment he was preached to you; but you do not come because of your sinfulness and crime. People excuse themselves because they have bad hearts. That is the most flimsy excuse in the world. Do not robbery and thieving come from a bad heart? Suppose a thief should say to a judge, `I could not help it, I had a bad heart.' What would the judge say? `You rascal! why, if your heart is bad, I'll make the sentence heavier, for you are a villain indeed. Your excuse is nothing.' The Almighty shall `laugh at them and shall have them in derision.' We do not preach this doctrine to excuse you, but to humble you. The possession of a bad nature is my fault as well as my terrible calamity.
It is a sin that will always be charged on men; when they will not come unto Christ it is sin that keeps them away. He who does not preach that, I fear is not faithful to God and his conscience. Go home, then, with this thought; `I am by nature so perverse that I will not come unto Christ, and that wicked perversity of my nature is my sin. I deserve to be sent to hell for it.' And if the thought does not humble you, the Spirit using it, no other can. This morning I have not preached human nature up, but I have preached it down. God humble us all. Amen. -New Park Street Pulpit Vol. I, pp. 395-402
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