Free Will A Slave!

Free Will – A Slave

by C. H. Spurgeon

A sermon delivered Sunday morning, December 2, 1855, at New Park Street Chapel, London,England.

“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).

This is one of the great guns of the Arminians, mounted upon thetop of their walls, and often discharged with terrible noise againstthe poor Christians called Calvinists. I intend to spike the gun thismorning, or, rather, to turn it on the enemy, for it was never theirs;it was never cast at their foundry at all, but was intended to teachthe very opposite doctrine to which they assert.

Usually, when the text is taken, the divisions are: First, that manhas a will. Secondly, that he is entirely free. Thirdly, that men mustmake themselves will to come to Christ, otherwise they will not besaved. Now, we shall have no such divisions; but we will endeavorto take a more calm look at the text; and not, because therehappen to be the words ‘will,’ or ‘will not’ in it, run away with theconclusion that it teaches the doctrine of free will.

Free Will Is Simply Ridiculous

It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free will isnonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more thanponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogetherdifferent things. Free agency we may believe in, but free will issimply ridiculous. The will is well known by all to be directed by theunderstanding, to be moved by motives, to be guided by other partsof the soul, and to be a secondary thing.

Philosophy and religion both discard at once the very thought offree will; and I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strongassertion of his, where he says, `If any man doth ascribe ofsalvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knowethnothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.’ It mayseem a harsh sentiment; but he who in his soul believes that mandoes of his own free will turn to God, cannot have been taught ofGod, for that is one of the first principles taught us when Godbegins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that hegives both; that he is `Alpha and Omega’ in the salvation of men.


Our four points, this morning, shall be, – First, that every man isdead, because it says, `Ye will not come unto me that ye might havelife.’ Secondly, that there is life in Jesus Christ – `Ye will not comeunto me that ye might have life.’ Thirdly, that there is life in ChristJesus for every one that comes for it – `Ye will not come unto methat ye might have life,’ implying that all who go will have life. Andfourthly, the gist of the text lies here, that no man by nature everwill come to Christ, for the text says, `Ye will not come unto me thatye might have life.’ So far from asserting that men of their own willsever do such a thing, it boldly and flatly denies it, and says, ‘YeWILL NOT come unto me that ye might have life.’ Why, beloved, Iam almost ready to exclaim, Have all free willers no knowledgethat they dare to run in the teeth of inspiration? Have all those thatdeny the doctrine of grace no sense? Have they so departed fromGod that they wrest this to prove free will, whereas the text says,`Ye WILL NOT come unto me that ye might have life.’

No Life In Death

I. First, then, our text implies THAT MEN BY NATURE AREDEAD. No being needs to go after life if he has life in himself. Thetext speaks very strongly when it says, `Ye will not come unto me,that ye might have live.’ Though it saith it not in words yet it doth ineffect affirm that men need a life more than they have themselves.My hearers, we are all dead unless we have been begotten unto alively hope.

Legal Death – Condemnation

First, we are all of us, by nature legally dead: – `In the day that thoueatest thereof thou shalt die the death,’ said God to Adam; andthough Adam did not die in that moment naturally, he died legally;that is to say death was recorded against him. As soon as, at theOld Bailey, the judge puts on the black cap and pronounces thesentence, the man is reckoned to be dead at law. Though perhaps amonth may intervene before he is brought on the scaffold to endurethe sentence of the law, yet the law looks upon him as a dead man.It is impossible for him to transact anything. He cannot inherit, hecannot bequeath; he is nothing – he is a dead man. The countryconsiders him not as being alive in it at all. There is an election – heis not asked for his vote because he is considered as dead. He isshut up in his condemned cell and he is dead. Ah! and ye ungodlysinners who have never had life in Christ, ye are alive this morning,by reprieve, but do ye know that ye are legally dead; that Godconsiders you as such, that in the day when your father Adamtouched the fruit, and when you yourselves did sin, God, theEternal Judge, put on the black cap and condemned you? You talkmightily of your own standing, and goodness, and morality: – whereis it? Scripture saith, ye are `condemned already.’ Ye are not towait to be condemned at the judgment-day – that will be theexecution of the sentence: – `ye are condemned already.’ In themoment ye sinned; your names were all written in the black book ofjustice; every one was then sentenced by God to death, unless hefound a substitute, in the person of Christ, for his sins.

What would you think if you were to go into the Old Bailey, and seethe condemned culprit sitting in his cell, laughing and merry? Youwould say, `The man is a fool, for he is condemned, and is to beexecuted; yet how merry he is.’ Ah! and how foolish is the worldlyman, who, while sentence is recorded against him, lives inmerriment and mirth! Do you think the sentence of God is of noeffect? Thinkest thou that thy sin which is written with an iron penon the rocks for ever hath no horrors in it? God hath said thou artcondemned already. If thou wouldst but feel this, it would minglebitters in thy sweet cups of joy; thy dances would be stopped, thylaughter quenched in sighing, if thou wouldst recollect that thou artcondemned already. We ought all to weep, if we lay this to our soul:that by nature we have no life in God’s sight; we are actually,positively condemned; death is recorded against us, and we areconsidered in ourselves now, in God’s sight, as much dead as if wewere actually cast into hell; we are condemned here by sin, we donot yet suffer the penalty of it, but it is written against us and weare legally dead, nor can we find life unless we find legal life in theperson of Christ, of which more by and by.

Spiritual Death – A Walking Corpse

But besides being legally dead, we are also spiritually dead. For notonly did the sentence pass in the book, but it passed in the heart; itentered the conscience; it operated on the soul, on the judgment, onthe imagination, and on everything. `In the day thou eatest thereofthou shalt surely die,’ was not only fulfilled by the sentencerecorded, but by something which took place in Adam. Just as, in acertain moment, when this body shall die, the blood stops, the pulseceases, the breath no longer comes from the lungs, so in the daythat Adam did eat that fruit his soul died; his imagination lost itsmighty power to climb into celestial things and see heaven, his willlost its power always to choose that which is good, his judgment lostall ability to judge between right and wrong decidedly and infallibly,though something was retained in conscience; his memory becametainted, liable to hold evil things, and let righteous things glideaway; every power of him ceased as to its moral vitality. Goodnesswas the vitality of his power – that departed. Virtue, holiness,integrity, these were the life of man; and when these departed manbecame dead. And now, every man, so far as spiritual things areconcerned, is `dead in trespasses and sins,’ spiritually. Nor is thesoul less dead in a carnal man, than the body is when committed tothe grave; it is actually and positively dead – not by a metaphor forPaul speaketh not in metaphor, when he affirms, `You hath hequickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.’

But my hearers, again, I would I could preach to your heartsconcerning this subject. It was bad enough when I described deathas having been recorded; but now I speak of it as having actuallytaken place in your hearts. Ye are not what ye once were; ye arenot what ye were in Adam, not what ye were created. Man wasmade pure and holy. Ye are not the perfect creatures of which someboast; ye are altogether fallen, ye have gone out of the way, yehave become corrupt and filthy. Oh! listen not to the syren song ofthose who tell you of your moral dignity, and your mighty elevationin matters of salvation. Ye are not perfect; that great word, `ruin,’is written on your heart; and death is stamped upon your spirit.

Do not conceive, O moral man, that thou wilt be able to standbefore God in thy morality, for thou art nothing but a carcassembalmed in legality, a corpse arrayed in some fine robes, but stillcorrupt in God’s sight. And think not, O thou possessor of naturalreligion! that thou mayest by thine own might and power makethyself acceptable to God. Why, man! thou art dead! and thoumayest array the dead as gloriously as thou pleasest, but still itwould be a solemn mockery. There lieth queen Cleopatra – put thecrown upon her head, deck her in royal robes, let her sit in state;but what a cold chill runs through you when you pass by her. She isfair now, even in her death – but how horrible it is to stand by theside even of a dead queen, celebrated for her majestic beauty! Soyou may be glorious in your beauty, fair, and amiable, and lovely;you put the crown of honesty upon your head, and wear about youall the garments of uprightness, but unless God has quickenedthee, O man! unless the Spirit has had dealings with thy soul, thouart in God’s sight as obnoxious as the chilly corpse is to thyself.Thou wouldst not choose to live with a corpse sitting at thy table:no doth God love that thou shouldst be in his sight. He is angry withthee every day, for thou art in sin – thou art in death. Oh! believethis; take it to thy soul; appropriate it, for it is most true that thouart dead, spiritually as well as legally.

Eternal Death – Hell

The third kind of death is the consummation of the other two. It iseternal death. It is the execution of the legal sentence; it is theconsummation of the spiritual death. Eternal death is the death ofthe soul; it takes place after the body has been laid in the grave,after the soul has departed from it. If legal doth be terrible, it isbecause of its consequences; and if spiritual death be dreadful, it isbecause of that which shall succeed it. The two deaths of which wehave spoken are the roots, and that death which is to come is theflower thereof.

Oh! had I words that I might this morning attempt to depict to youwhat eternal death is. The soul has come before its Maker; thebook has been opened; the sentence has been uttered; `Depart yecursed’ has shaken the universe, and made the very spheres dimwith the frown of the Creator; the soul has departed to the depthswhere it is to dwell with others in eternal death. Oh! how horrible isits position now. Its bed is a bed of flame; the sights it sees aremurdering ones that affright its spirit; the sounds it hears areshrieks, and wails, and moans, and groans; all that its body knowsis the infliction of miserable pain! it has the possession ofunutterable woe, of unmitigated misery. The soul looks downwardin dread and fear; remorse hath possessed its soul. It looks on theright hand – and the adamantine walls of fate keep it within its limitsof torture. It looks on the left – and there the rampart of blazing fireforbids the scaling ladder of e’en a dreamy speculation of escape. Itlooks within and seeks for consolation there, but a gnawing wormhath entered into the soul. It looks about it – it has no friends to aid,no comforters, but tormentors in abundance. It knoweth noght ofhope of deliverance; it hath heard the everlasting key of destinyturning in its awful wards, and it hath seen God take that key andhurl it down into the depth of eternity never to be found again. Ithopeth not; it knoweth no escape, it guesseth not of deliverance; itpants for death, but death is too much its foe to be there; it longsthat non-existence would swallow it up, but this eternal death isworse than annihilation. It pants for extermination as the laborerfor his Sabbath; it longs that it might be swallowed up innothingness just as would the galley slave long for freedom, but itcometh not – it is eternally dead. When eternity shall have rolledround multitudes of its everlasting cycles it should still be dead.For- ever knoweth no end; eternity cannot be spelled except ineternity. Still the soul seeth written o’er its head, `Thou art damnedforever.’ It heareth howlings that are to be perpetual; it seethflames which are unquenchable; it knoweth pains that areunmitigated; it hears a sentence that rolls not like the thunder ofearth which soon is hushed – but onward, onward, onward, shakingthe echoes of eternity – making thousands of years shake againwith the horrid thunder of its dreadful sound – `Depart! depart!depart ye cursed!’ This is true eternal death.

Life in Christ

II. Secondly, IN CHRIST JESUS THERE IS LIFE, for the says,`ye will not come unto me that ye may have life.’ There is no life inGod the Father for a sinner; there is no life in God the Spirit for asinner apart from Jesus. The life of a sinner is in Christ. If you takethe Father apart from the Son, though he loves his elect, anddecreed that they shall live, yet life is only in his Son. If you takeGod the Spirit apart from Jesus Christ, though it is the Spirit thatgives us spiritual life, yet is is life in Christ, life in the Son. We darenot, and cannot apply in the first place, either to God the Father, orto God the Holy Ghost for spiritual life. The first thing we are led todo when God brings us out of Egypt is to eat the Passover – thevery first thing. The first means whereby we get life is by feedingupon the flesh and blood of the Son of God; living in him, trustingon him, believing in his grace and power.

Our second thought was – there is life in Christ. We will show youthere are three kinds of life in Christ, as there are three kinds ofdeath.

Legal Life – No Condemnation

First there is legal life in Christ. Just as every man by natureconsidered in Adam had a sentence of condemnation passed on himin the moment of Adam’s sin, and more especially in the moment ofhis won first transgression, so I, if I be a believer, and you, if youtrust in Christ, have had a legal sentence of acquittal passed on usthrough what Jesus Christ has done. O condemned sinner! thoumayest be sitting this morning condemned like the prisoner inNewgate; but ere this day has passed away thou mayest be as clearfrom guilt as the angels above. There is such a thing as legal life inChrist, and, blessed be God! some of us enjoy it. We know our sinsare pardoned because Christ suffered punishment for them; weknow that we never can be punished ourselves for Christ sufferedin our stead. The Passover is slain for us; the lintel and door-posthave been sprinkled, and the destroying angel can never touch us.For us there is no hell, although it blaze with terrible flame. LetTophet be prepared of old, let its pile be wood and much smoke, wenever can come there – Christ died for us, in our stead. What ifthere be racks of horrid torture? what if there be a sentenceproducing horrible reverberations of thundering sounds? yetneither rack, nor dungeon, nor thunder, are for us! In Christ Jesuswe are now delivered. `There is, therefore, NOW no condemnationunto us who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, butafter the Spirit.’

Sinner! art thou legally condemned this morning? Dost thou feelthat? Then, let me tell thee that faith in Christ will give thee aknowledge of thy legal acquittal. Beloved, it is no fancy that we arecondemned for our sins, it is a reality. So, it is no fancy we areacquitted, it is a reality. A man about to be hanged, if he received afull pardon would feel it a great reality. He would say, `I have a fullpardon, I cannot be touched now.’ That is just how I feel.

`Now freed from sin I walk at large, The Saviour’s blood’s my full discharge, At his dear feet content I lay, A sinner saved, and homage pay.’

Brethren, we have gained legal life in Christ, and such legal lifethat we cannot lose it. The sentence has gone against us once -nowit has gone out for us. It is written, `THERE IS NOW NOCONDEMNATION,’ and that now will do as well for me in fiftyyears as it does now. Whatever time we live it will still be written,`There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are inChrist Jesus.’

Spiritual Life – A Corpse Made Alive

Then, secondly, there is spiritual life in Christ Jesus. As the man isspiritually dead, God has spiritual life for him, for there is not aneed which is not supplied by Jesus, there is not an emptiness inthe heart which Christ cannot fill; there is not a desolation which hecannot people, there is not a desert which he cannot make toblossom as the rose. O ye dead sinners! spiritually dead, there islife in Christ Jesus, for we have seen – yes! these eyes have seen-the dead live again; we have known the man whose views werecarnal, whose lusts were mighty, whose passions were strong,suddenly, by irresistible might from heaven, consecrate himself toChrist, and become a child of Jesus. We know that there is life inChrist Jesus, of a spiritual order; yea, more, we ourselves, in ourown persons, have felt that there spiritual life. Well can weremember when we sat in the house of prayer, as dead as the veryseat on which we sat. We had listened for a long, long while to thesound of the gospel, but no effect followed, when suddenly, as if ourears had been opened by the fingers of some mighty angel, a soundentered into our heart. We thought we heard Jesus saying, `He thathath ears to hear, let him hear.’ An irresistible hand put itself onour heart and crushed a prayer out of it. We never had a prayerbefore like that. We cried, `O God! have mercy upon me a sinner.’

Some of us for months felt a hand pressing us as if we had beengrasped in a vice, and our souls bled drops of anguish. That miserywas a sign of coming life. Persons when they are being drowned donot feel the pain so much as while they are being restored. Oh! wecan recollect the giving of our spiritual life as easily as could a manhis restoration from the grave.

We can suppose Lazarus to have remembered his resurrection,though not all the circumstances of it. So we, although we haveforgotten a great deal, do recollect our giving ourselves to Christ.We can say to every sinner, however dead, there is life in ChristJesus, though you may be rotten and corrupt in your grave. He whohath raised Lazarus hath raised us; and he can say, even to you,`Lazarus! come forth.’

Eternal Life – Never Lost

In the third place, there is eternal life in Christ Jesus. And, oh! ifeternal death be terrible, eternal life is blessed; for he has said,`Where I am there shall my people be.’ `Father, I will, that theyalso, whom thou hast given unto me, be with me where I am, thatthey may behold my glory.’ `I give unto my sheep eternal life, andthey shall never perish.’ Now, any Arminian that would preach fromthat text must buy a pair of India rubber lips, for I am sure hewould need to stretch his mouth amazingly; he would never be ableto speak the whole truth without winding about in a mostmysterious manner. Eternal life – not a life which they are to lose,but eternal life. If I lost life in Adam I gained it in Christ; if I lostmyself for ever I find myself for ever in Jesus Christ. Eternal life!Oh blessed thought! Our eyes will sparkle with joy and our soulsburn with ecstasy in the thought that my soul will live in bliss andjoy. Put out thine eye O sun! – but mine eye shall `see the king inhis beauty’ when thine eye shall no more make the green earthlaugh. And moon, be thou turned into blood! – but my blood shallne’er be turned to nothingness; this spirit shall exist when thou hastceased to be. And thou great world! thou mayest all subside, just asa moment’s’s foam subsides upon the wave that bears it – but I shallhave eternal life. O time! thou mayest see giant mountains deadand hidden in their graves; thou mayest see the stars like figs tooripe, falling from the tree; but thou shalt never, never see my spiritdead.

God Saves all Who Come

III. This brings us to the third point: that ETERNAL LIFE ISGIVEN TO ALL WHO COME FOR IT. There never was a manwho came to Christ for eternal life, for legal life, for spiritual life,who had not already received it, in some sense, and it wasmanifested to him that he had received it soon after he came. Letus take one or two texts: – `He is able to save to the uttermostthem that come unto him.’ Every man who comes to Christ will findthat Christ is able to save him – not able to save him a little, todeliver him from a little sin, to keep him from a little trial, to carryhim a little way and then drop him -but able to save him to theuttermost extent of his sin, unto the uttermost length of his trials,the uttermost depths of his sorrows, unto the uttermost duration ofhis existence. Christ says to every one who comes to him, `Come,poor sinner, thou needst not ask whether I have power to save. Iwill not ask thee how far thou hast gone into sin; I am able to savethee to the uttermost.”

Only The Chosen Will Come

Now another text: `Him that cometh to me, (mark the promises arenearly always to the coming ones) I will in no wise cast out.’ Everyman that comes shall find the door of Christ’s house opened – I sayit in the broadest sense – shall find that Christ has mercy for him.The greatest absurdity in the world is Christ has mercy for him.The greatest absurdity in the world is to want to have a widergospel than that recorded in Scripture. I preach that every man thatbelieves shall be saved – that every man who comes shall findmercy. People ask me, `But suppose a man should come who wasnot chosen, would he be saved?’ You go and suppose nonsense andI am not going to give you an answer. If a man is not chosen he willnever come. When he does come it is a sure proof that he waschosen. Says one, `Suppose any one should go to Christ who hadnot been called of the Spirit.’ Stop, my brother, that is a suppositionthou hast no right to make, for such a thing cannot happen; youonly say it to entangle me, and you will not do that just yet. I sayevery man who comes to Christ shall be saved. I can say it. I haveno narrower gospel than you have; only my gospel is on a solidfoundation, whereas yours is built upon nothing but sand androttenness. `Every man that cometh shall be saved, for no mancometh to me except the Father draw him.’ `But,’ says one,`suppose all the world should come, would Christ receive them?’Certainly, if all came; but then they won’t come. I tell you all thatcome – aye, if they were as bad as devils, Christ would receivethem; if they had all sin and filthiness running into their hearts asinto a common sewer for the whole world, Christ would receivethem.

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