The Call Of “Today
THE Holy Spirit says, “Today.” There is a great talk about yesterday. There are some who will have it that there are none like the days that are past–“the good old times.” There are some who glory in what they did years ago. Their work was done yesterday. They have long ago retired from the business of life, but still they are accustomed to indulge in the recollections of what they did in days gone by. Yesterday is also dwelt upon in lamentation and even in despair. Yesterday! Alas, opportunities are past. “The harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Yesterday we lived in sin. Yesterday we rejected Christ. Yesterday we stifled conscience and, therefore, despair says that it is now all over. Time is gone. Closed forever are the gates of Mercy–the death warrant is signed–the gallows are erected for the execution.
Now it is noteworthy that the Holy Spirit, neither that we may take comfort in it, nor despair about it, said not, “yesterday”–He said, “ Today.” He points us not to the past–(we shall have to look at that and weep over it, or blessGod for it either with repentance or gratitude)–He points us not to the time of the Flood but to today. A very largeproportion of mankind, you will find, delight in dwelling upon the word, “tomorrow.” Oh what will they not do tomorrow! Sin shall be rejected tomorrow! The Savior shall be sought tomorrow! Clasped in the arms of faith, they will exult in the peace of Christ tomorrow! They will pray tomorrow! They will serve God tomorrow! Alas, of all the nets of Satan as a fowler for the souls of men, perhaps there is none in which he took in more that in this big net of procrastination. “I will–I will,” and there it ends! “I go, Sir,” and he went not. To resolve and re-resolve, and then to die–the same is the melancholy history of thousands of hearers who bid fair for Heaven a thousand times and yet will never enter there!
Tomorrow! Oh, you cursed word, tomorrow! How has man made you cursed! I find you not in the almanac of the wise–you are only in the calendar of fools. Tomorrow! There is no such thing except in dreamland, for when that comes which we call . There is no time but that which is. Timewas, is not–and time to come is not!
Today is the only time we have. Happily for us, the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE.” Never do I find Him saying, “tomorrow.” His servants have often been repulsed by men like Felix who have said, “Go your way for this time. When I have a more convenient season I will send for you.” And never did any Apostle say, “Repent tomorrow, or wait for some convenient season to believe.” The constant testimony of the Holy Spirit with regard to the one single part of time–which I have shown, indeed, to be all time, is–“Today if you will hear His voice, hardennot your hearts.”
Now I am trying to speak, tonight, not as though I were preaching at all. But I need to talk to you Christians, first, and then to you unconverted people very seriously–and may God the Spirit speak through the words.
- First to you that love the Lord, or profess to do so–Christian people I have to say to you tonight–THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS, “TODAY.” That is to say, that it is essential to duty that we attend to it at once. Every command of Christ bears date today. If a thing is right, it should be done at once. If it is wrong, stop it immediately! Whatever you are bound to do, you are bound to do now. There may be some duties of a later date, but for the present, that which is theduty, is the duty now. There is an immediateness about the calls of Christ. What He bids you do, you must not delay to do. The Holy Spirit says, “ Today.” And I would say this with regard to everything. Do you love the Lord? Have you everprofessed His name? Then the Holy Spirit says, “ Today.” Hesitate not to take up His Cross at once and follow Him–theCross of Him who was nailed to the Cross for you! The Cross of Him who, by His precious blood, has made you not your own, but His! Confess Him before men. Has He not said, “He that denies Me before men, him will I deny before My Father who is in Heaven”? Confess with your mouth, if you have believed with your heart.
It is the immediate duty of the Believer to be baptized. “As soon as you believe in Christ you may.” “ Today,” says theHoly Spirit. Having united yourself to the people of God, then whatever, according to your position and calling, is incumbent upon you, do it! Are you a young Christian–warm, fervent in spirit–and do your seniors call you impudent and dampen your ardor? Listen not to them! Go and do what is in your heart! I would give nothing for a man’s zeal if that zeal does not make him sometimes indiscreet. Imprudence, so far from being a sin, is often an index of the possession of the highest Grace. No, David, imprudent as you are, take the smooth stones from the brook. Wait not till you have become a king or a gray-headed monarch about to resign the crown to Solomon. While you are ruddy and a youth, hesitate not! The Holy Spirit says, "
Today.“ Or are you called in middle life? Your sun has already spent half its day. Is it
suggested to you that you should seek your children’s conversion? Plead at once that your little ones, so long neglected, may now be saved. The Holy Spirit says to you, parent, father, mother–“ Today.” Have you come into the midst of amultitude of workers of which you are the master seeking their good? Seek it today! Have you in your heart the intention to serve God when you have amassed so much wealth? What? Shall God be second? Shall mammon take the first place and Jehovah be put in the background? No! Let your gold come in second or not at all. Let your God come in now! The Holy Spirit says, “Today.” “But there are urgent things pressing.” If you can claim that they are duties, God forbid that I should bid you neglect them! But if they are covetous and lustful, put them aside and now, in the prime of your life,while yet the marrow is in your bones and your eyes are not dim, give to God what He claims of you TODAY!
Have you lingered long upon the road and has the evening come, and has the sun almost touched the horizon, and is the red light gleaming in the sky? Then the Holy Spirit says to you, “O aged Christian, serve God today.” I cannot comprehend the postponements of old age, yet do we frequently meet with them. There was an aged man who meant to devote all his substance to the Church of God, but he put it off and the thing was never done. There was another who meant to have spoken to his children. He would gather them together on a certain day and would speak to them and their children, for so had it come about that he was a grandfather, now, but he said he would do it, by-and-by–but the time nevercame.“ Give God your first and choicest thoughts! Many a man has thought over a good thing till the devil has come in with a second thought and the thing has never been done. I love that blessed thing that made Magdalene, or Mary–whichever it was–break the alabaster box over the Savior. She did not sit down to calculate, or the thing would not have been done! And this is especially incumbent upon the aged. You are not likely to be guilty of indiscretion–your blood is not hot–therefore you may fling the reins on the back of your zeal! You are not likely to exceed in your zeal–therefore go at once, I pray you!
Oh, I wish Christians were in the habit of following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Remember, there are many things He gives to us that we do not deserve at all or do not receive so as to carry them out. Be you not as the horse or mule which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle. Oh, be guided by gentler means, the softer touches of God’s hand! The Holy Spirit says, “Today.” Whatever Christian service may come across you, Christian Brothers and Sisters, let me urge you not to let the night pass away, nor tomorrow, until you have accomplished the whole of it. Get through it, dear Brothers and Sisters, get through it at once. The Lord knows when duty will be most acceptable to Him. The Lord loves fresh gathered fruit. You are not to store it up until the bloom is gone and say, “I will bring it tomorrow.” The Holy Spirit says, “ Today.” WHATEVER IS TO BE DONE FOR THE LORD, LETIT BE DONE NOW!
And then there is a second set of obligations which come upon the Christian–undoing. Now THE HOLY SPIRITSAYS TODAY.“ Have I done wrong towards my neighbor? Have I spoken an unkind word? Have I made an unjust speech? Let me make my peace with my friend. But when? "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” I heard the other day that when a wasp had stung one, the sting would go away if the wasp died before the sun went down. And perhaps there may be about each one of us some bad habit, something we cannot justify ourselves in. Let us seek to be purged from it, for “the Holy Spirit says, ‘ Today.’” Is there any sin to be conquered? There is no such time to kill sin as today.You will never kill this Amalekite as well as now. He will be off his guard if you smite him now. AT ONCE, THEN, STRIKE THE BLOW AGAINST THE SIN, WHATEVER IT MAY BE. There is no time for killing weeds in the garden of the soul like today! There is no time for throwing salt upon the field which is full of noxious poison like now. Never imagine that you will get rid of sin by degrees. I know some people have been cured of a taste for strong drink by degrees, and such things may be possible, but the Christian will find it easier to wean himself at once by a sacred total abstinence from everything that is sinful–for as long as you parley with the enemy, the enemy will still have power over you–and blessed is that man who does not begin to take off one finger of his right hand and then another and then another, but takes the axe and chops it off as one whole thing at once! “If your right hand offends you, cut it off.” [Not to be taken literally.] Some think this is enough–“If your right hand offends you, cut the nails.” It is not so. Oh, yes–for doing and for undoing–the Holy Spirit says, “ Today.”
But I cannot linger where there is so much to say. Remember, beloved Christian friends, that there are some duties which if you DON’T DO TODAY YOU WILL NEVER DO. I called upon a Christian some time ago and saw him looking very sorrowful. He was a man of earnest spirit, always trying to do good, and I was surprised to see sorrow on his face. But he said, “My dear Sir, I met with a very sad thing this morning. There is a man who has been doing certain errands around here, and I noticed him and felt a great concern about his soul. And yesterday I had resolved that when he came into the shop, I would speak to him. It has been my habit to speak to all I come in contact with. Well, I don’t know whether I can excuse myself or not, but this man came upon his usual errands, but I was busy and did not speak to him as I designed. I intended to do it this morning, but his wife has come round and said he is dead. and I cannot forgive myself, for there is nothing else I can do for him, and I feel almost as though his blood will lie at my door.”
You cannot tell but what you will be in company this evening with somebody who will never have a warning if you do not give it tonight. Never have another invitation to come to Jesus–and if you should hear tomorrow that yourfriend has suddenly dropped dead and that he was unconverted–it would cause you some regret and remorse that you had not spoken. Now, now, or never.“ If it might be, "Now or tomorrow,” there might be some reason for delay, but it is not so! It is “ now or never!” Therefore I pray you, Brothers and Sisters, (and I am speaking muchmore to myself than to you), to be instant in season and out of season. Oh, pity those poor souls who live in darkness and do not know our sweet Lord Jesus! “You are the light of the world.” Defer not the light-giving lest the night come to them wherein you cannot help them!
Notice again–WHEN WE INTEND TO DO CHRISTIAN SERVICE TOMORROW, AND DO IT FAITHFULLY AND WELL, YET WE SIN. There is a contract for certain steamers to carry her Majesty’s mails and they are bound to leave Liverpool at such a time and arrive at New York so long afterwards. Suppose they leave six hours after the time? If they make the best voyage they can, they break the contract! And an action which is done tomorrow, but should have been done today, whatever is its acceptableness in itself, is faulty. It is as an untimely fruit, out of date. If I do not do till tomorrow what I ought to do today, I cannot do tomorrow’s duties! I cannot possibly put Thursday’s work into Friday. Cannot I call in help? Yes, but I am robbing my Master of my friend’s service. I have work to do which never can be done in eternity unless it is done today. Throughout the whole of eternity I can never make up for that lost hour. The work of that hour is gone and can never be done. Eternal mercy can wipe out the sin and, blessed be God, it will–but there is the fact for all that. Therefore the Holy Spirit says, “Today.” Today’s work is to be done today–therefore let it is done.
For, beloved friends, there is one remark with regard to service for God and that is, that DUTIES PUT OFF TEND TO THE HARDENING OF THE HEART. You begin to be familiar with the neglect of them and nothing is more injurious to the mind than familiarity with sin! To be acquainted with sin is to be made sinful! When I postpone a duty, I am acquainted with the neglect of that duty. How many times–(I will put a riddle to you if I can. You will probably remember it)–how many times does a man sin in an hour who does not perform the duties of that hour? There is one act of omission, which he has committed the first minute. He ought to have done it at once. Is there a sin each minute or is there a sin each tick of the clock? I would like you to think about that. It seems to me that we do not know how many sins there may be crowded into the neglect of a duty for an hour. And some have neglected duties for a week! They have disobeyed God for a week. Have you ever seen your child sin in that way? You have said, “John, go to the door!” Has he been an obstinate child and not gone but stood still? You say again, “John, go to the door!” Still he does not go. I wonder how long you would let your child stand still? I think I know some who could not manage for five minutes to keep their hands off him–and perhaps it is well they should not stand it long.
But now God has had His hands off you, some professors, by the week together and the year together for what you know you ought to have done–and yet you have not done it. And all the while the Word of God says to you, “Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” But you have still continued to tempt the Lord and tried Him, though by the wonders of His mercy He has kept His hands off. Don’t provoke Him anymore, but go and say, “I have delayed too long. Now, Father, I will do what You bid me. Help me, by Your Grace, for I will not be a disobedient child anymore.” Delay not, for you have already provoked Him too long! I have often pitied God, to think He should be so badly treated that His children, whom He treats so well, should make Him such poor return. Let us have sympathy with our dear heavenly Father and say, “We will grieve Him no more.”
There is one more thing that I want to say to you, dear Christian. I have been putting it very strongly today, but I have felt authorized to do so because the text puts it so. THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS, “TODAY.” The Holy Spirit! Thatclothes it with deep solemnity. The Holy Spirit! That is, the Divine Person of the Godhead concerning whom we find that there is a sin against Him which will never be forgiven! If we want to keep clear of that sin, grieve not the Holy Spirit of God! Be very tender concerning all sin–be tender most of all concerning this. Remember how the Holy Spirit loves you–how He loves youthem, but the Holy Spirit lovesmen so that He comes and lives in them! I wonder which is the more admirable in condescension–the Incarnation of theSon, or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? They are both Divinely merciful and gracious. Grieve Him not, then–He is your Comforter–He is your Comforter! And have you vexed Him who dwells in you and shall be with you? The human heart never entertained so Divine a guest! Resist Him not. Yield to Him now, for that is the very point on which He laysstress. The Holy Spirit says, “ Today.” Now I have said in myself (and I pray God to help me carry it out) I will strive after more Grace and I will seek to do what good I can now. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let that not merely be a resolution, but let us practice it, for the Holy Spirit says, “ Today.”
II. Now I am going to turn away from you Christians to talk to the unconverted a little, and I pray that what is said may go to their hearts. TO YOU UNCONVERTED SINNERS, THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS, “TODAY.” I asked a Brother why he was not present on a certain occasion and he said, “I never got an invitation.” I am afraid there are some sinners that never come to Christ because they do not get an invitation. I know that is not the case with any sinner who is in the habit of coming to this house. I believe Christian ministers would do well, or, at any rate, no ill if they neverpreached anything but invitation! There is much more to preach to advanced people of God, but still there are men who all their lives have invited men to come to Christ, and I believe they do no ill to spend their whole time in that.
Now the point in the invitation is–When is it? Somebody says, “Will you come to my house to dinner?” Well, if that is all he says, I do not come. But if he says, “I dine at half-past five,” then he gives me the time of day and tells me when he wants to see me. You know if a person says, “Whenever you are going by this way I shall be glad to see you,” you never call in at all. But if a man says, “I shall be glad to see you at such-and-such a time,” you understand his invitation. And now the Holy Spirit puts a time to the invitation. I am not invited tomorrow, but this first of May–this sweet May day, the Holy Spirit says to me, “Come to Christ, today.” And He says to you tonight through these lips of mine, “Today, even now, come seek and find every good in Jesus joined.” “Look unto Him and be you saved, all you ends of the earth.” The time is fixed, and the time is fixed for today!
Why did He fix today? Well, first, it was His that mercy fixed it. Suppose He had said, “tomorrow”? It would havebeen unkind to detain you in the gall of bitterness all the night. You would have had a wretched night and have said, “I shall not live through it.” You would have wanted Christian people to come and sit with you and pray with you, while you were under condemnation, that you might reach tomorrow morning! But He has not said to you that you have got to wait until you are seventeen, or to you, yonder, that you have got to wait until you are thirty. Oh, no! He says, “ Today.” And then it is in wisdom that He says “today,” because it is wisdom to seek the Lord at once–for otherwise the thread of life may be snapped. Have you ever noticed how much more frail our life is than glass? I have seen thin Venice glass three or four hundred years old, but I never saw a man last that time! We are frail things. A moment’s touch and we are dust. The Holy Spirit therefore does not put it off unwisely, but He says, “Today.”
And the Holy Spirit does it, too, in addition to His mercy and wisdom, out of love to holiness. He would be a partaker of our sin if He excused our living an hour in sin! He never does. If I had God’s liberty to remain in sin a week, He would be a partaker in my sin. But He has bid us fly to the fountain now. Lovingly and yet with a sort of sternness doesHe bid me come today! “Today if you will hear His voice,” forsake your sin and fly for refuge.
I might mention other attributes of God which would move Him to put it, “Today,” but I will not. If you are at all affected by what I have said (and I hope you may be) don’t say, “Well, I will resolve to think about my soul.” I have noticed so many people who have felt, “I’m a good fellow after all–I have made a splendid resolution, haven’t I?” Just as I have seen men in commercial life head over heels in debt go to a loan society or raise a little money at their bankers, or perhaps do what is much the same thing without raising money at all–give a promissory note and say, “Well, I’ve paid that man!” when they have never paid him a penny, but have given him merely a bit of paper! They get on wonderfully easy because they have passed a bit of paper saying that they will pay at a certain time when they know that they never mean to do it! Resolutions are promissory notes that men give to God and nothing ever comes of them! I sometimes wish there was no “paper” in business–and certainly I wish there were no “resolutions” in religion. A resolution to repent may damn a man, but a belief would save him! A resolution to believe in Christ may only check the voice of conscience, but a belief would save! Your resolutions are of no use whatever–like draughts from Aldgate Pump–they are not worth thinking of! Oh, to have real practical obedience to Christ, for the Holy Spirit says, “ Today.”
Let me just speak further to you for a moment or two. It does seem very sweet that the Holy Spirit says, “Today.” Do you know what I would do if I were in your case and you in mine? I recollect when I sought the Lord I hoped that after some months of darkness I might get light, and it was according to my hope. Now if I had to seek Him over again, I would go and say, “Lord, You have said, ‘Today.’ Lo, I seek You today! And shall I say, ‘Today,’ and You say, ‘Tomorrow?’ Dear Savior, I trust You today! Today speak peace to my conscience! Today apply the blood of sprinkling and give my spirit rest.” I would make a plea of it if I were you–for if a man made a great feast and said to the poor, “Come today,” the poor would not expect to sit shivering there to get a meal tomorrow! But they would say, “Our invitation was today. There is food and drink today.” So, Sinner, if you will come to the Lord and say, “My Lord, my Father, You have called me today–therefore today I feel Your love to me and I pray You, today, to put my sins away as far as the east is from the west”–God will keep His word and you will find speedy rest!
Oh, some of you HAVE LIVED LONG ENOUGH WITHOUT GOD! Some of you have lived 50 years without God and long enough to be condemned! Oh, you would not like to be converted and then be of no service to your Lord at all, or only have given Him a few months of your life, would you? I pray you, think of this–the long time past which may have sufficed you to have worked the will of the flesh and the short time that is to come. Do you know how soon you are to die? Is there any man here who is certain that he will live to see another year? When the next service is held to watch the old year out and the new year in, will you be here, or where will you be? The Holy Spirit says, “ Today.” Every hourthat passes is hardening you if you are remaining out of Christ! It becomes less probable that God will meet with you. There are so many more opportunities wasted, so many more appeals thrown away. O, dear Hearers, if God made you stand on this platform and said, “I will tell you who they are that will reject your message and perish,” I would say, “Good Spirit, tell me no such thing! Conceal the secret! I do not wish to know it!” I think it would break my heart to look in some of your faces and think, “That man will be in Hell and be in anguish and ask for a drop of water to cool his tongue.” I could not bear to feel that it would be so! And yet I feel morally certain it will be so with some of you. Oh, I am staggered when I feel how souls come into this Tabernacle (and some of you are always here) and do not get the blessing. I pray tonight that some of us may get the blessing!
An incident occurred this afternoon. An aged minister, an excellent man, came into my vestry and shook my hand and said, “I have got this letter which I would like you to see.” Well, I had many things to attend to, but he was so anxious and said, “I know you will like to see it,” that I took the letter. Before I read it, he explained to me that he had a son who had made a profession of religion, but had gone aside from it, and it had pretty well broken his heart. At last, he was to go to America, and the father sent him away with a very heavy heart. The old man took off his spectacles. The letter was from his son and it said, “I went to hear Mr. Spurgeon, and I have not the slightest doubt that it has had an influence on my whole life. The text was, ‘He is as a root out of a dry ground.’ The sermon was divided into four parts.” I remember the sermon well enough–I was suffering from great pain at the time. “The point which lasted longest was that in which he said that God had made Christ to grow up like a root, like a root out of a dry ground. He went on for 25 minutes”–(then he gave an opinion of my style which I won’t read to you)–“but what surprised me most was that out of five or six thousand, he fastened his eyes on me though I was in the farthest gallery”–(the young man’s name was Thomas So-and-So, the son of the Baptist minister)–“and suddenly he shouted out these words, ‘There’s that wild, daredevil Tom! God means to save him and he will be a comfort to his father in his old age.’” The old gentleman, when I got to that, said, “And so he is.” The letter went on, “I thought he was going to say my name. I trembled lest the people should know my name was Tom!”
Well, that cheered my heart to think of that young fellow. And I thought I would have a shot at some of you tonight–and I pray that it may go right straight through your hearts!
And now, this first of May, if you meet with God tonight, if you pray and believe in Jesus tonight, this will be your spiritual birthday! You will remember the night that Believers were baptized and that, that night Christ met with you. It is now 23 years, I think, within an hour or two, since I was also baptized on the first of May, confessing Christ in my early youth. And I will close my sermon by saying that if He had been a bad master I would have run away from Him. And if He had not kept His promises, I would not believe Him. But He has been a good Master and a dear Savior! I think it is 23 years during which I can bear an earnest testimony to the goodness and love of Christ. If you knew Him you would not live a minute without Him! “Ah,” you say–“will He have me?” Will you have Him? That is the point! You won’t haveany wooing to do towards Christ. He loved sinners. He died for sinners. “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS, TODAY. Do you say, Today, too? Amen and amen!