The Minister’s Farewell
“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
WHEN Paul was parting from his Ephesian friends, who had come to bid him farewell at Miletus, he did not request of them a commendation of his ability. He did not request of them a recommendation for his fervid eloquence, his profound learning, his comprehensive thought, or his penetrating judgment. He knew right well that he might have credit for all these and yet be found a castaway at last. He required a witness which would be valid in the court of Heaven and of value in a dying hour. His one most solemn adjuration is–“I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
In the Apostle this utterance was no egotism. It was a fact that he had, without courting the smiles or fearing the frowns of any, preached the Truth of God, the whole Truth of God and nothing but the Truth of God, as it had been taught to him by the Holy Spirit and as he had received it in his own heart. O that all ministers of Christ could honestly challenge the like witness!
Now, this morning I propose, by the help of God’s Spirit, to do two things. The first will be to say a little upon the Apostle’s solemn declaration at parting. And then, afterwards, in a few solemn words, to take my own personal farewell.
- In the first place, THE APOSTLE’S WORD AT PARTING–“I call you to record I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” The first thing that strikes us is the declaration of the Apostle concerning the doctrines he had preached. He had preached ALL the counsel of God. By which I think we are to understand that he had given to his people the entire Gospel. He had not dwelt upon some one doctrine of it, to the exclusion of the rest. But it had been his honest endeavor to bring out every Truth of God according to the analogy of faith. He had not magnified one doctrine into a mountain and then diminished another into a molehill. He had endeavored to present all blended together, like the colors in the rainbow, as one harmonious and glorious whole.
Of course, he did not claim for himself any infallibility as a man, although as an inspired man he was without error in his writings. He had, doubtless, sins to confess in private and faults to bemoan God. He had, doubtless, sometimes failed to put a Truth of God as clearly as he could have wished, when preaching the Word. He had not always been earnest as he could desire. But at least he could claim this, that he had not willfully kept back a single part of the truth as it is in Jesus.
Now, I must bring down the Apostle’s saying to these modern times. And I take it, if anyone of us would clear our conscience by delivering the whole counsel of God, we must take care that we preach, in the first place, the doctrines of the Gospel. We ought to declare the grand doctrine of the Father’s love towards His people from before all worlds. His sovereign choice of them, His covenant purposes concerning them and His immutable promises to them, must all be uttered with trumpet tongue. Coupled with this the true Evangelist must never fail to set forth the beauties of the Person of Christ, the glory of His offices, the completeness of His work and above all, the efficacy of His blood. Whatever we omit, this must be in the most forcible manner proclaimed again and again.
That is no Gospel which has not Christ in it and the modern idea of preaching THE TRUTH instead of Christ, is a wicked device of Satan. Nor is this all, for as there are Three Persons in the Godhead, we must be careful that they all have due honor in our ministry. The Holy Spirit’s work in regeneration, in sanctification and in perseverance, must be always magnified from our pulpit. Without His power our ministry is a dead letter and we cannot expect His arm to be made bare unless we honor him day by day.
Upon all these matters we are agreed and I therefore turn to points upon which there is more dispute and consequently more need of honest avowal, because more temptation to concealment. To proceed then–I question whether we have preached the whole counsel of God, unless predestination with all its solemnity and sureness is continually declared–unless election is boldly and nakedly taught as being one of the Truths revealed of God. It is the minister’s duty, beginning from this fountain head, to trace all the other streams–dwelling on effectual calling, maintaining justification by faith–insisting upon the certain perseverance of the Believer and delighting to proclaim that gracious covenant in which all these things are contained and which is sure to all the chosen, blood-bought seed.
There is a tendency in this age to throw doctrinal truth into the shade. Too many preachers are offended with that stern truth which the Covenanters held and to which the Puritans testified in the midst of a licentious age. We are told that the times have changed. That we are to modify these old (so-called) Calvinistic doctrines and bring them down to the tone of the times. That, in fact, they need dilution, that men have become so intelligent that we must pare off the angles of our religion and make the square into a circle by rounding off the most prominent edges.
Any man who does this, so far as my judgment goes, does not declare the whole counsel of God. The faithful minister must be plain, simple, pointed, with regard to these doctrines. There must be no dispute about whether he believes them or not. He must so preach them that his hearers will know whether he preaches a scheme of free will, or a Covenant of Grace–whether he teaches salvation by works, or salvation by the power and grace of God.
But Beloved, a man might preach all these doctrines to the full and yet not declare the whole counsel of God. For here comes the labor and the battle–here it is that he who is faithful in these modern days will have to bare the full brunt of war. It is not enough to preach doctrine. We must preach duty, we must faithfully and firmly insist upon practice. So long as you will preach nothing but bare doctrine, there is a certain class of men of perverted intellect who will admire you, but once begin to preach responsibility–say outright, once and for all, that if the sinner perishes it is his own fault. That if any man sinks to Hell, his damnation will lie at his own door and at once there is a cry of “Inconsistency! How can these two things stand together?”
Even good Christian men are found who cannot endure the whole Truth of God and who will oppose the servant of the Lord who will not be content with a fragment, but will honestly present the whole Gospel of Christ. This is one of the troubles that the faithful minister has to endure. But he is not faithful to God–I say it solemnly–I do not believe that any man is even faithful to his own conscience who can preach simply the doctrine of responsibility. I do assuredly believe that every man who sinks into Hell shall have himself alone to curse for it. It shall be said of them as they pass the fiery portal–“You would not.” “You would have none of My rebukes. You were bid to the supper and you would not come. I called and you refused. I stretched out My hands and no man regarded. And now, behold, I will mock at your calamities. I will laugh when your fear comes.”
The Apostle Paul knew how to dare public opinion and on one hand to preach the duty of man and on the other the Sovereignty of God. I would borrow the wings of an eagle and fly to the utmost height of high doctrine when I am preaching Divine Sovereignty. God has absolute and unlimited power over men to do with them as De pleases, even as the potter does with the clay. Let not the creature question the Creator, for He gives no account of His matters.
But when I preach concerning man and look at the other aspect of truth, I dive to the utmost depth. I am, if you will so call me, a low-doctrine man in that, for as an honest messenger of Christ I must use his own language and cry–“He that believes not is condemned already, because he believes not on the Son of God.” I do not see that the whole counsel of God is declared unless those two apparently contradictory points are brought out and plainly taught.
To preach the whole counsel of God it is necessary to declare the promise in all its freeness, sureness and richness. When the promise makes the subject of the text the minister should never be afraid of it. If it is an unconditional promise, he should make its unconditionality one of the most prominent features of his discourse. He should go the whole way with whatever God has promised to His people. Should the command be the subject, the minister must not flinch. He must utter the precept as fully and confidently as he would the promise.
He must exhort, rebuke, command with all long-suffering. He must ever maintain the fact that the perceptive part of the Gospel is as valuable–no, as invaluable–as the promissory part. He must stand to it, that “By their fruits you shall know them.” That “Unless the tree bring forth good fruit it is hewn down and cast into the fire.” Holy living must be preached, as well as happy living. Holiness of life must be constantly insisted on, as well as that simple faith which depends for all on Christ. To declare the whole counsel of God–to gather up ten thousand things into one–I think it is needful that when a minister gets his text, he should say what that text means honestly and uprightly.
Too many preachers get a text and kill it. They wring its neck, then stuff it with some empty notions and present it upon the table for an unthinking people to feed upon. That man does not preach the whole counsel of God who does not let God’s Word speak for itself in its own pure, simple language. If he finds one day a text like this–“It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy,” the faithful minister will go all the lengths of that text. And if on the morrow the Spirit of God lays home to his conscience this–“You will not come unto Me that you might have life,” or this other–“Whosoever will, let him come,” he will be just as honest with his text on that side as he was on the other.
He will not shirk the Truth of God. He will dare to look at it straight in the face himself and then he will bring it up into the pulpit and there say to it–“O Word, speak for Yourself and be You heard alone. Suffer me not, O Lord, to pervert or misinterpret Your own Heaven-sent Truth.” Simple honesty to the pure Word of God is, I think, requisite to the man who would not shun to declare the whole counsel of God.
Moreover, this is not all. If a man would declare the whole counsel of God and not shun to do so, he must be very particular upon the crying sins of the times. The honest minister does not condemn sin in the mass. He singles out separate sins in his hearers and without drawing the bow at a venture he puts an arrow on the string and the Holy Spirit sends it right home to the individuals conscience. He who is true to his God does not look to his congregation as a great mass, but as separate individuals and he endeavors to adapt his discourse to men’s conscience, so that they will perceive he speaks of them.
It is said of Rowland Hill that he was so personal a preacher, that if a man were far away sitting in a window, or in some secret corner, he would nevertheless feel–“That man is speaking to me.” And the true preacher who declares the whole counsel of God so speaks that his hearers feel that there is something for them. A reproof for their sins, an exhortation which they ought to obey, a something which comes pointedly, pertinently and personally home. Nor do I think any man has declared the whole counsel of God, who does not do this.
If there is a vice that you should shun, if there is an error that you should avoid, if there is a duty that you ought to fulfill–if all these things are not mentioned in the discourses from the pulpit–the minister has shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. If there is one sin that is rife in the neighborhood and especially in the congregation, should the minister avoid that particular vice in order to avoid offending you, he has been untrue to his calling, dishonest to his God.
I do not know how I can describe the man who declares the whole counsel of God better than by referring you to the Epistles of St. Paul. There you have the doctrine and the precept, experience and practice. He tells of corruption within and temptation without. The whole Divine life is portrayed and the needed directions given. There you have the solemn rebuke and the gentle comfort. There you have the words that “drop as the rain and distil as the dew.” And there you have the sentences that roll like thunder and flash like lightning. There you see him at one time with his crook in his hand, gently leading his sheep into the pastures. And, another, you see him with his sword drawn, doing valiant battle against the enemies of Israel. He who would be faithful and preach the whole counsel of God must imitate the Apostle Paul and preach as he wrote.
The question, however, is suggested, is there any temptation which arises to the man who endeavors to do this? Is there anything which would tempt him from the straight path and induce him not to preach the whole counsel of God? Ah, my Brother, little do you understand the minister’s position, if you have not sometimes trembled for him. Espouse but one phase of the Truth of God and you shall be cried up to the very heavens. Become such a Calvinist that you shut your eyes to one half the Bible and cannot see the responsibility of the sinner and men will clap their hands and cry Hallelujah. And on the backs of many you shall be hoisted to a throne and become a very prince in their Israel.
On the other hand, begin to preach mere morality, practice without doctrine and you shall be elevated on other men’s shoulders. You shall, if I may use such a figure, ride upon these asses into Jerusalem. And you shall hear them cry, Hosanna! and see them wave their palm branches before you. But once preach the whole counsel of God and you shall have both parties down upon you–one crying, “The man is too high,” the other saying, “No, he is too low.” The one will say, “He’s a rank Arminian,” the other, “He’s a vile hyper-Calvinist.”
Now, a man does not like to stand between two fires. There is an inclination to please one or other of the two parties and so, if not to increase one’s adherents, at least to get a more ferociously attached people. Yes, but if we once begin to think of that, if we suffer the cry of either party on either hand to lead us from that narrow path–the path of right and truth and rectitude–it is all over with us then. How many ministers feel the influence of persons of wealth? The minister in his pulpit, perhaps, is inclined to think of the squire in his green pew. Or else he thinks–“What will deacon So-andSo say?” Or, “What will the other deacon say, who thinks the very reverse?” or, “What will Mr. A, the editor of such a newspaper, write next Monday?” or, “What will Mrs. B say next time I meet her?”
Yes, all these things cast their little weight into the scale. And they have a tendency, if a man is not kept right by God the Holy Spirit, to make him diverge a little from that narrow path in which alone he can stand if he would declare the whole counsel of God. Ah, Friends, there are honors to be had by the man who will espouse the opinion of a clique. But while there are honors, there are far more dishonors to be gained by him who will stand firm to the unstained banner of Truth, singly and alone and do battle against mischief of every shape, as well in the Church as in the world. Therefore, it was no mean testimony that the Apostle asked for himself, that he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.
But, then, let me remark further–while there is this temptation not to declare all the counsel of God, the true minister of Christ feels impelled to preach the whole Truth of God, because it, and it alone, can meet the wants of man. What evils has this world seen through a distorted, mangled, man-molded Gospel? What mischiefs have been done to the souls of men by men who have preached only one part and not all the counsel of God? My heart bleeds for many a family where Antinomian doctrine has gained the sway. I could tell many a sad story of families, dead in sin, whose consciences are seared as with a hot iron by the fatal preaching to which they listen. I have known convictions stifled and desires quenched by the soul-destroying system which takes manhood from man and makes him no more responsible than an ox.
I cannot imagine a more ready instrument in the hands of Satan for the ruin of souls than a minister who tells sinners that it is not their duty to repent of their sins or to believe in Christ. And all the while call himself a Gospel minister while he teaches that God hates some men infinitely and unchangeably for no reason whatever but simply because he chooses to do so. O my Brethren! May the Lord save you from the voice of the charmer and keep you ever deaf to the voice of error.
Even in Christian families, what evil will a distorted Gospel produce! I have seen the young Believer, just saved from sin, happy in his early Christian career and walking humbly with his God. But evil has crept in, disguised in the mantle of truth. The finger of partial blindness was laid upon their eyes and but one doctrine could be seen. Sovereignty was seen, but not responsibility. The minister once beloved was hated. He who had been honest to preach God’s Word, was accounted as the off-scouring of all things. And what became the effect? The very reverse of good and gracious. Bigotry usurped the place of love. Bitterness lived where once there had been a loveliness of character.
I could point you to innumerable instances where harping upon any one peculiar doctrine has driven men to excess of bigotry and bitterness. And when a man has once come there, he is ready enough for sin of any kind to which the devil may please to tempt him. There is a necessity that the whole Gospel should be preached, or else the spirits, even of Christians, will become marred and maimed. I have known men diligent for Christ, laboring to win souls with both hands. And on a sudden they have espoused one particular doctrine and not the whole Truth of God and they have subsided into lethargy.
On the other hand, where men have only taken the practical side of the Truth of God and left out the doctrinal, too many professors have run over into legality. They have talked as if they were to be saved by works and have almost forgotten that grace by which they were called. They are like the Galatians. They have been bewitched by what they have heard. The believer in Christ, if he is to be kept pure, simple, holy, charitable, Christ-like, is only to be kept so by a preaching of the whole Truth as it is in Jesus.
And as for the salvation of sinners, ah, my Hearers, we can never expect God to bless our ministry for the conversion of sinners unless we preach the Gospel as a whole. Let me get but one part of the Truth of God and always dwell upon it, to the exclusion of every other, and I cannot expect my Master’s blessing. If I preach as He would have me preach, He will certainly own the Word. He will never leave it without His own living witness. But let me imagine that I can improve the Gospel–that I can make it consistent, that I can dress it up and make it look finer–I shall find that my Master is departed and that Ichabod is written on the walls of the sanctuary.
How many there are kept in bondage through neglect of Gospel invitations. They are longing to be saved. They go up to the House of God, crying to be saved. And there is nothing but predestination for them. On the other hand, what multitudes are kept in darkness through practical preaching. It is do! Do! Do! And nothing but do! And the poor souls come away and say–“Of what use is that to me? I can do nothing. Oh, that I had a way shown to me available for salvation.” Of the Apostle Paul we think it may be truly said that no sinner missed a comfort from his keeping back Christ’s Cross. That no saint was bewildered in spirit from his denying the bread of Heaven and withholding precious truth. That no practical Christian became so practical as to become legal and no doctrinal Christian became so doctrinal as to become unpractical. His preaching was of so savory and consistent a kind, that they who heard him, being blessed of the Spirit, became Christians, indeed, both in life and spirit, reflecting the image of their Master.
I feel I cannot dwell very long upon this text. I have been so extremely unwell for the last two days that the thoughts which I hoped to present to you in better form, have only come tumbling out of my mouth in far from an orderly manner.
II. I must now turn away from the Apostle Paul to address you A VERY FEW EARNEST, SINCERE AND AFFECTIONATE WORDS BY WAY OF FAREWELL. “Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
I wish not to say anything in self-commendation and praise. I will not be my own witness as to my faithfulness. But I appeal unto you–I take you to witness this day–that I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Often have I come into this pulpit in great weakness and I have far more often gone away in great sorrow, because I have not preached to you as earnestly as I desired. I confess to many errors and failings and more especially to a want of earnestness when engaged in prayer for your souls. But there is one charge which my conscience acquits me of this morning and I think you will acquit me, too–I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.
If in anything I have erred, it has been an error of judgment. I may have been mistaken, but so far as I have learned the Truth of God, I can say that no fear of public opinion, nor of private opinion, has ever turned me aside from that which I hold to be the Truth of my Lord and Master. I have preached to you the precious things of the Gospel. I have endeavored to the utmost of my ability to preach grace in all its fullness. I know the preciousness of that doctrine in my own experience–God forbid that I should preach any other. If we are not saved by grace, we can never be saved at all. If from first to last the work of salvation is not in God’s hands, none of us can ever see God’s face with acceptance.
I preach this doctrine, not from choice, but from absolute necessity. If this doctrine is not true, then are we lost souls. Your faith is vain, our preaching is vain and we are still in our sins and there we must continue until the end. But, on the other hand, I can say also, I have not shunned to exhort, to invite, to entreat. I have bid the sinner come to Christ. I have been urged not to do so, but I could not resist it. With a heart yearning over perishing sinners, I could not conclude without crying–“Come to Jesus, Sinner, come.” With eyes weeping for sinners, I am compelled to bid them come to Jesus.
It is not possible for me to dwell upon doctrine without invitation. If you come not to Christ it is not for want of calling, or because I have not wept over your sins and travailed in birth for the souls of men. The one thing I have to ask of you is this–bear me witness, my Hearers, bear me witness–that in this respect I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have preached all that I know of the whole counsel of God. Have I known a single sin which I have not rebuked? Has there been a doctrine that I have believed which I have kept back? Has there been a part of the Word, doctrinal or experimental, which I have willfully concealed? I am very far from perfect, again with weeping I confess my unworthiness. I have not served God as I ought to do. I have not been so earnest with you as I could desire.
Now that my three years' ministry in the Music Hall is over, I could have wished that I might begin again, that I might fall on my knees before you and beseech you to regard the things that make for your peace. But here, again, I do repeat it, that while as to earnestness I plead guilty, yet as to truth and honesty I can challenge the bar of God. I can challenge the elect angels, I can call you all to witness that I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.
It is easy enough, if one wills to do it, to avoid preaching an objectionable doctrine by simply passing over the texts which teach it. If an unpleasant Truth of God thrusts itself on you, it is not hard to put it aside, imagining that it would disturb your previous teaching. Such concealment may, for a while, succeed, and possibly your people will not find it out for years. But if I have studied after anything, I have sought always to bring out that Truth of God which I have neglected beforehand. And if there has been any one Truth that I have kept back up to now, it shall be my earnest prayer that from this day forth it may be made more prominent, that so it may be the better understood and seen.
Well, I simply ask you this question and if I indulge in some little egotism–if on this parting day, “I am become a fool in glorying,” it is not for the sake of glorying, it is with a better motive. My Hearer, I put this question to you–there may come sad disasters to many of you. In a little time some of you may be frequenting places where the Gospel is not preached. You may embrace another and a false Gospel. I only ask this thing of you–bear me witness that it was not my fault–that I have been faithful and have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God. In a little time some here who have been restrained by the fact of having attended a place of worship, seeing the chosen minister has gone, may not go anywhere else afterwards. You may become careless.
Perhaps next Sabbath-Day you may be sitting at home, lolling about and wasting the day. But there is one thing I should like to say before you make up your mind not to attend the House of God again–bear me witness that I have been faithful with you. It may be that some here who have professedly run well for a time while they have been hearing the Word, may go back. Some of you may go right into the world again. You may become drunkards, swearers and the like. God forbid that it be so! But I charge you, if you plunge into sin, do at least say this one thing for him who desires nothing so much as to see you saved–say I have been honest with you. Say I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.
Oh, my Hearers, some of you in a little time will be on your deathbeds. When your pulse is feeble, when the terrors of grim death are round about you, if you are still unconverted to Christ, there is one thing I shall want you to add to your last will and testament. It is this–the exclusion of the poor minister who stands before you this day from any share in that desperate folly of yours which has led you to neglect your own soul. Oh, have I not cried to you to repent? Have I not bid you look to it before death surprised you? Have I not exhorted you, my Hearers, to flee for a refuge to the hope set before you? Oh, Sinner, when you are wading through the black river, cast back no taunt on me as though I were your murderer, for in this thing I can say–“I wash my hands in innocence. I am clear of your blood.”
But the day is coming when we shall all meet again. This great assembly shall be submerged into a greater, as the drop loses itself in the ocean. And I shall stand on that day to take my trial at God’s bar. If I have not warned you, I have been an unfaithful watchman and your blood will be required at my hands. If I have not preached Christ to you and bid you flee for refuge, then, though you perish, yet shall your soul be required of me. I beseech you, if you laugh at me, if you reject my message, if you despise Christ, if you hate His Gospel, if you will be damned, yet at least give me an acquittal of your blood!
I see some before me who do not often hear me. And yet I can say concerning them, they have been the subject of my private prayers. And often, too, of my tears, when I see them going on in their iniquities. Well, I do ask this one thing and as honest men you cannot deny it me. If you will have your sins, if you will be lost, if you will not come to Christ–at least–amid the thunders of the Great Day, when I stand for trial at God’s bar, acquit me of having destroyed your souls.
What more can I say? How shall I plead with you? Had I an angel’s tongue and the heart of the Savior, then would I plead. But I cannot say more than I have often done. In God’s name I beseech you flee to Christ for refuge. If all has not sufficed before, let this suffice you now. Come, guilty Soul and flee away to Him whose wide open arms are willing to receive every soul that flees to Him with penitence and faith. In a little time the preacher himself will lie stretched upon his bed. A few more days of solemn meeting, a few more sermons, a few more prayers, and I think I see myself in yon upper chamber, with friends watching around me.
He who has preached to thousands now needs consolation for himself. He who has cheered many in the article of death is now passing through the river himself. My Hearers, shall there be any of you whom I shall see upon my death bed who shall curse me with being unfaithful? Shall these eyes be haunted with the visions of men whom I have amused and interested, but into whose hearts I have never sought to plunge the Truth of God? Shall I lie there and shall these mighty congregations pass in dreary panorama before me and as they subside before my eyes, one after the other, shall each one curse me as being unfaithful?
God forbid! I trust you will do me this favor–that when I lie dying you will allow that I am clear of the blood of all men and have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. I see myself standing at the last great day a prisoner at the bar. What if this shall be read against me–“You have had many to listen to you. Thousands have crowded to hear the words which fell from your lips. But you have misled, you have deceived, you have willfully mistaught this people”? Thunders such as have been never heard before must roll over this poor head and lightning more terrific than have ever scathed the fiend shall blast this heart, if I have been unfaithful to you. My position–if I had but preached the Word to these crowds, not to speak of many thousands of times–my position were the most awful in the whole universe if I were unfaithful. Oh may God avert that worst of ills–unfaithfulness–from my head.
Now, as here I stand, I make this my last appeal–“I pray you in Christ’s stead be you reconciled to God.” But if you will not be, I ask you this single favor–and I think you will not deny it–take the blame of your own ruin, for I am pure from the blood of all men, since I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
This much by way of calling you to witness. Now, I come to put up a request. I have a favor to ask of all here present. If in anything you have been profited, if in anything you have ever had comfort, if you have found Christ in any way during the preaching of the Gospel here, I beg you, even though you should not listen to my words again, I beg you to carry me up in your heart before the Throne of God in prayer. It is by the prayers of our people that we live. God’s ministers owe more to the prayers of their people than they ever know. I love my people for their prayerfulness for me. Never minister was so much prayed for as I have been.
But will those of you who will be compelled to separate from us by reason of distance and the like, will you still carry me in your thoughts before God and let my name be unengraved on your bosoms as often as you present yourselves before the mercy seat? It is a little thing I ask. It is simply that you say–“Lord, help Your servant to win souls to Christ.” Ask that he may be made more useful than he has ever been. That if he is in anything mistaken he may be set right. If he has not comforted you, ask that he may do so in the future. But if he has been honest with you, then pray that your Master may have him in His holy keeping. And while I ask you to put up this request for me, it is for all those that preach the Truth in Jesus.
Brethren, pray for us. We would labor for you as those that must give account. Ah, it is no little thing to be a minister if we are true to our calling. As Baxter once said, when someone told him the ministry was easy work–“Sir, I wish you would take my place, if you think so and try it.” If to agonize with God in prayer, if to wrestle for the souls of men, if to be abused and not to reply, if to suffer all manner of rebukes and slanders–if this is rest–take it, Sir, for I shall be glad to get rid of it. I do ask that you would pray for all ministers of Christ, that they may be helped and upheld, maintained and supported, that their strength may be equal to their day.
And then, having put up this request for myself and therefore a selfish one, I have an entreaty to put up for others. My Hearers, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that there are still many of you who have long listened to the Word here, but who have still not given your hearts to Christ. I am glad to see you here, even though it should be for the last time. If you should never tread the hallowed courts of God’s House again, never hear His Word, never listen to hearty invitation or honest warning, I have one entreaty to put up for you. Mark, not a request, but an entreaty. And such an one, that if I were begging for my life I could not be more honest and intensely earnest about it.
Poor Sinner, stop awhile and think. If you have heard the Gospel and been profited by it, what will you think of all your lost opportunities when you are on your dying bed? What will you think when you are cast into Hell, when this thought shall come ringing in your ears–“You did hear the Gospel, but you did reject it.” Then the devils in Hell shall laugh in your face and say–“We never rejected Christ, we never despised the Word,” and they shall thrust you into a deeper Hell than ever they themselves experienced. I entreat you, stop and think of this. Are the joys that you have in this world worth living for? Is not this world a dull and dreary place? Man, turn over a fresh leaf. I tell you, there is no joy for you here and there is none hereafter while you are what you are.
Oh, may God teach you that the mischief lies in your sin. You have unforgiven sin about you. As long as your sin is unforgiven, you can neither be happy here, nor in the world to come. My entreaty is, go to your chamber. If you know yourself to be guilty, make a full confession there before God. Ask Him to have mercy upon you, for Jesus' sake. And He will not deny you. Man, He will not deny you. He will answer you. He will put all your sins away. He will accept you. He will make you His child. And as you shall be more happy here, so shall you be blessed in the world to come. Oh, Christian Brothers and Sisters, I entreat you, implore the Spirit of God to lead many in this crowd to full confession, to real prayer and humble faith. And if they have never repented before, may they now turn to Christ.
Oh, Sinner, your life is short and death is hastening. Your sins are many and if judgment has lead feet, yet has it a sure and heavy hand. Turn, turn, turn, I beseech you. May the Holy Spirit turn you. Lo, Jesus is lifted up before you now. By His five wounds, I beseech you, turn. Look to Him and live. Believe on Him and you shall be saved, for whosoever believes on the Son of Man has everlasting life and he shall never perish, neither shall the wrath of God rest upon him.
May the Spirit of God now command His own abiding blessing, even life forevermore, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
[At the commencement of the Service, Mr. SPURGEON said–“The service of this morning will partake very much of the character of a farewell discourse and a farewell meeting. However sorrowful it is to me to part with many of you whose faces I have so long seen in the throng of my hearers, yet for Christ’s sake, for the sake of consistency and the Truth of God, we are compelled to withdraw from this place and on next Sabbath morning hope to worship God in Exeter Hall. On two occasions before, as our friends are aware, it was proposed to open this place in the evening and I was then able to prevent it by the simple declaration that if so I should withdraw.
“That declaration suffices not at this time. And you can therefore perceive that I should be a coward to the Truth of God, that I should be inconsistent with my own declarations, that in fact, my name would cease to be SPURGEON, if I yielded. I neither can nor will give way in anything in which I know I am right. And in the defense of God’s holy Sabbath, the cry of this day is, ‘Arise, let us go from this place!’ ”]