Sovereignty And Salvation
“Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else.”
SIX years ago, today, as near as possible at this very hour of the day, I was “in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity,” but had yet, by divine grace, been led to feel the bitterness of that bondage and to cry out by reason of the soreness of its slavery. Seeking rest and finding none, I stepped within the house of God and sat there–afraid to look upward–lest I should be utterly cut off and lest His fierce wrath should consume me. The minister rose in his pulpit and, as I have done this morning, read this text–“Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else.”
I looked that moment. The grace of faith was vouchsafed to me in the self-same instant and now I think I can say with truth–
“Ever since by faith I saw the stream
His flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.”
I shall never forget that day while memory holds its places, nor can I help repeating this text, whenever I remember that hour when first I knew the Lord. How strangely gracious! How wonderfully and marvelously kind, that he who heard these words so little time ago for his own soul’s profit, should now address you this morning, as his hearers, from the same text. It is my full and confident hope that some poor sinner within these walls may hear the glad tidings of salvation for himself also and may today, on this 6 th of January, be “turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satanunto God.”
If it were within the range of human capacity to conceive a time when God dwelt alone, without His creatures, we should then have one of the grandest and most stupendous ideas of God. There was a season when as yet the sun had never run his race nor commenced flinging his golden rays across space to gladden the earth. There was an era when no stars sparkled in the firmament for there was no sea of azure in which they might float. There was a time when all that we now behold of God’s great universe was yet unborn, slumbering within the mind of God–as yet uncreated and non-existent.
But there was God and He was over all blessed forever. Though no seraphs hymned His praises, though no strongwinged cherubs flashed like lightning to do His high behests. Though He was without a retinue, yet He sat as a king on His Throne, the mighty God, forever to be worshipped–the Dread Supreme, in solemn silence dwelling by Himself in vast immensity, making of the placid clouds His canopy and the light from His own countenance forming the brightness of His glory. God Was and God Is.
From the beginning God was God–before worlds had beginning, He was “from everlasting to everlasting.” Now when it pleased Him to create His creatures, does it not strike you how infinitely those creatures must have been below Himself? If you are potters and you fashion upon the wheel a vessel, shall that piece of clay arrogate to itself equality with you? No, at what distance will it be from you because you have been in part its creator! So when the Almighty formed His creatures, was it not consummate impudence that they should venture for a moment to compare themselves with Him?
Yet that arch-traitor, that leader of rebels, Satan, sought to climb to the high Throne of God, soon to find his aim too high and Hell itself not low enough wherein to escape divine vengeance. He knows that God is “God alone.” Since the world was created, man has imitated Satan–the creature of a day, the ephemera of an hour–has sought to match itself with the Eternal. Hence it has ever been one of the objects of the great Jehovah to teach mankind that He is God and beside Him there is none else.
This is the lesson He has been teaching the world since it went astray from Him. He has been busying Himself in breaking down the high places, in exalting the valleys, in casting down imaginations and lofty looks, that all the world might–
“Know that the Lord is God alone,
He can create and He destroy.”
This morning we shall attempt to show you, in the first place, how God has been teaching this great lesson to the world–that He is God and beside Him there is none else. And then, secondly, the special way in which He designs to teach it in the matter of salvation–“Look unto Me and be you saved, for I am God and there is none else.”
- First, then, HOW HAS GOD BEEN TEACHING THIS LESSON TO MANKIND? We reply He has taught it first of all, to false gods and to the idolaters who have bowed before them. Man, in his wickedness and sin has set up a block of wood and stone to be his maker and has bowed before it. He has fashioned for himself out of a goodly tree an image made unto the likeness of mortal man, or of the fishes of the sea, or of creeping things of the earth and he has prostrated his body and his soul too, before that creature of his own hands, calling it God–while it had neither eyes to see, nor hands to handle, nor ears to hear!
But how has God poured contempt on the ancient gods of the heathen! Where are they now? Are they so much as known? Where are those false deities before whom the multitudes of Nineveh prostrated themselves? Ask the moles and the bats whose companions they are, or ask the mounds beneath which they are buried. Or go where the idle gazer walks through the museum–see them there as curiosities and smile to think that men should ever bow before such gods as these. And where are the gods of Persia? Where are they? The fires are quenched and the fire-worshipper has almost ceased out of the earth.
Where are the gods of Greece? Those Gods adorned with poetry and hymned in the most sublime odes? Where are they? They are gone. Who talks of them now, but as things that were of yore? Jupiter–does anyone bow before him? And who is he that adores Saturn? They are passed away and they are forgotten. And where are the gods of Rome? Does Janus now command the temple? Or do the vestal virgins now feed their perpetual fires? Are there any now that bow before these gods? No, they have lost their thrones.
And where are the gods of the South Sea Islands–those bloody demons before whom wretched creatures prostrated their bodies? They have well-near become extinct. Ask the inhabitants of China and Polynesia where are the gods before which they bowed? Ask and echo says ask and ask again. They are cast down from their thrones. They are hurled from their pedestals, their chariots are broken, their scepters are burned in the fire, their glories are departed. God has gotten unto Himself the victory over false gods and taught their worshippers that He is God and that beside Him there is none else.
Are there gods still worshipped or idols before which the nations bow themselves? Wait but a little while and you shall see them fall. Cruel Juggernaut, whose ear still crushes in its motion the foolish ones who throw themselves before it shall yet be the object of derision. And the most noted idols, such as Buddha and Brahma and Vishnu, shall yet stoop themselves to the earth and men shall tread them down as mire in the streets. For God will teach all men that He is God and that there is none else.
Mark you, yet again, how God has taught this Truth to empires. Empires have risen up and have been the gods of the era. Their kings and princes have taken to themselves high titles and have been worshipped by the multitude. But ask the empires whether there is any besides God. Do you not think you hear the boasting soliloquy of Babylon–“I sit as a queen and am no widow. I shall see no sorrow, I am god and there is none beside me”? And think you not now, if you walk over ruined Babylon, that you will meet nothing save the solemn spirit of the Bible, standing like a Prophet gray with age and telling you that there is one God and that beside Him there is none else?
Go to Babylon, covered with its sand, the sand of its own ruins. Stand on the mounds of Nineveh and let the voice come up–“There is one God and empires sink before Him. There is only one Potentate and the princes and kings of the earth with their dynasties and thrones are shaken by the trampling of His foot.” Go, seat yourselves in the temple of Greece. Mark you there what proud words Alexander once did speak, but now where is he and where is his empire, too? Sit on the ruined arches of the bridge of Carthage. Or walk through the desolated theatres of Rome and you will hear a voice in the wild wind amid those ruins–“I am God and there is none else.”
“O city, you did call yourself eternal. I have made you melt away like dew. You said, ‘I sit on seven hills and I shall last forever.’ I have made you crumble and you are now a miserable and contemptible place, compared with what you were. You were once stone, you made yourself marble. I have made you stone again and brought you low.” Oh, how has God taught monarchs and empires that have set themselves up like new kingdoms of Heaven–that He is God and that there is none else!
Again–how has He taught this great Truth to monarchs! There are some who have been most proud that have had to learn it in a way more hard than others. Take for instance, Nebuchadnezzar. His crown is on his head, his purple robe is over his shoulders. He walks through proud Babylon and says, “Is not this great Babylon which I have built?” Do you see that creature in the field there? It is a man. “A man?” you say. Its hair has grown like eagles' feathers. And its nails like bird’s claws. It walks on all fours and eats grass, like an ox. It is driven out from men. That is the monarch who said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built?”
And now he is restored to Babylon’s palace, that he may “bless the Most High who is able to abase those that walk in pride.” I remember another monarch. Look at Herod. He sits in the midst of his people and he speaks. Hear you the impious shout? “It is the voice of God,” they cry, “and not the voice of man.” The proud monarch gives not God the glory. He accepts the title of the god and seems to shake the spheres, imagining himself divine. There is a worm that creeps into his body. And yet another and another and before that sun has set, he is eaten up of worms. Ah, monarch! You thought of being a god and worms have eaten you! You have thought of being more than man. And what are you? Less than man, for worms consume you and you are the prey of corruption.
Thus God humbles the proud, thus He abases the mighty. We might give you instances from modern history but the death of a king is all-sufficient to teach this one lesson, if men would but learn it. When kings die and in funeral pomp are carried to the grave, we are taught the lesson–“I am God and beside Me there is none else.” When we hear of revolutions and the shaking of empires–when we see old dynasties tremble and gray-haired monarchs driven from their thrones–then it is that Jehovah seems to put His foot upon land and sea and with His hand uplifted cries–“Hear, you inhabitants of the earth! You are but as grasshoppers! I am God and beside Me there is none else.”
Again–our God has had much to do to teach this lesson to the wise men of this world. For as rank, pomp and power have set themselves up in the place of God, so has wisdom. And one of the greatest enemies of Deity has always been the wisdom of man. The wisdom of man will not see God. Professing themselves to be wise, wise men have become fools. But have you not noticed, in reading history, how God has abased the pride of wisdom? In ages long gone by, He sent mighty minds into the world who devised systems of philosophy. “These systems,” they said, “will last forever.”
Their pupils thought them infallible and therefore wrote their sayings on enduring parchment, saying, “This book will last forever. Succeeding generations of men will read it and to the last man that book shall be handed down as the epitome of wisdom.” “Ah, but,” said God, “that book of yours shall be seen to be folly before another hundred years have rolled away.” And so the mighty thoughts of Socrates and the wisdom of Solon are utterly forgotten now. And could we hear them speak, the very child in our school would laugh to think that he understands more of philosophy than they.
But when man has found the vanity of one system, his eyes have sparkled at another. If Aristotle will not suffice, here is Bacon. “Now I shall know everything”–and he sets to work and says that this new philosophy is to last forever. He lays his stones with fair colors and he thinks that every truth he piles up is a precious imperishable truth. But alas! Another century comes and it is found to be “wood, hay and stubble.” A new sect of philosophers rise up who refute their predecessors.
So, too, we have wise men in this day–wise secularists and so on, who fancy they have obtained the truth. But within another fifty years–mark that word–this hair shall not be silvered over with gray before the last of that race shall have perished–and that man shall be thought a fool that was ever connected with such a race. Systems of infidelity pass away like a dewdrop before the sun. For God says, “I am God and beside Me there is none else.”
This Bible is the stone that shall break in powder philosophy. This is the mighty battering ram that shall dash all systems of philosophy in pieces. This is the stone that a woman may yet hurl upon the head of every Abimelech and he shall be utterly destroyed. O Church of God! Fear not! You shall do wonders. Wise men shall be confounded and you shall know and they too, that He is God and that beside Him there is none else.
“Surely,” says one, “the Church of God does not need to be taught this.” Yes, we answer, she does. For of all beings, those whom God has made the objects of His grace are perhaps the most apt to forget this cardinal Truth, that He is God and that beside Him there is none else. How the church in Canaan forgot it–when they bowed before other gods–He brought against them mighty kings and princes and afflicted them sorely. How did Israel forget it! And He carried them away captive into Babylon. And what Israel did in Canaan and in Babylon, that we do now. We too, too often forget that He is God and beside Him there is none else.
Does not the Christian know what I mean when I tell him this great fact? For has he not done it himself? In certain times prosperity has come upon him, soft gales have blown his boat along just where his wild will wished to steer. And he has said within himself, “Now I have peace. Now I have happiness. Now the object I wished for is within my grasp. Now I will say, ‘Sit down, my soul and take your rest. Eat, drink and be merry. These things will well content you. Make these your god, be blessed and happy.’ ”
But have we not seen our God dash the goblet to the earth, spill the sweet wine and instead thereof fill it with gall? And as He has given it to us, He has said–“Drink it, drink it–you have thought to find a God on earth, but drain the cup and know its bitterness.” When we have drunk it, nauseous the draught was and we have cried, “Ah, God, I will drink no more from these things. You are God and beside you there is none else.” And ah, how often, too, have we devised schemes for the future, without asking God’s permission. Men have said, like those foolish ones whom James mentioned, “We will do such-and-such things on the morrow, we will buy and sell and get gain.”
Whereas they knew not what was to be on the morrow, for long before the morrow came they were unable to buy and sell–death had claimed them–and a small span of earth held all their frame. God teaches His people every day by sickness, by affliction, by depression of spirits, by the forsaking of God, by the loss of the Spirit for a season, by the lacking of the joys of His countenance that He is God and that beside Him there is none else.
And we must not forget that there are some special servants of God raised up to do great works, who in a peculiar manner have to learn this lesson. Let a man for instance be called to the great work of preaching the Gospel. He is successful. God helps him–thousands wait at his feet and multitudes hang upon his lips. As truly as that man is a man he will have a tendency to be exalted above measure and too much will he begin to look to himself and too little to his God. Let men speak who know and what they know let them speak and they will say, “It is true, it is most true.”
If God gives us a special mission we generally begin to take some honor and glory to ourselves. But in the review of the eminent saints of God, have you ever observed how God has made them feel that He was God and beside Him there was none else? Poor Paul might have thought himself a god. He easily could have been puffed up above measure by reason of the greatness of his revelation–but Paul could feel that he was not a God–for he had a thorn in the flesh and gods could not have thorns in their flesh.
Sometimes God teaches the minister by denying him help on special occasions. We come up into our pulpits and say, “Oh, I wish I could have a good day today!” We begin to labor. We have been just as earnest in prayer and just as indefatigable. But it is like a blind horse turning round a mill, or like Samson with Delilah–we shake our vain limbs with vast surprise, “make feeble flight,” and win no victories. We are made to see that the Lord is God and that beside Him there is none else. Very frequently God teaches this to the minister by leading him to see his own sinful nature. He will have such an insight into his own wicked and abominable heart that he will feel as he comes up the pulpit stairs that he does not deserve so much as to sit in his pew, much less to preach to his fellows.
Although we feel always joy in the declaration of God’s Word, yet we have known what it is to totter on the pulpit steps under a sense that the chief of sinners should scarcely be allowed to preach to others. Ah, Beloved, I do not think he will be very successful as a minister, who is not taken into the depths and blackness of his own soul and made to exclaim, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”?
There is another antidote which God applies in the case of ministers. If He does not deal with them personally, He raises up a host of enemies that it may be seen that He is God and God alone. What? Will a man subject himself to the calumnies of the multitude? Will he toil and work day after day unnecessarily? Will he stand up Sabbath after Sabbath and preach the Gospel and have his name maligned and slandered if he has not the grace of God in him?
For myself, I can say that were it not that the love of Christ constrained me, this hour might be the last that I should preach, so far as the case of the thing is concerned. “Necessity is laid upon us, woe is unto us if we preach not the Gospel.” But that opposition through which God carries His servants leads them to see at once that He is God and that there is none else. If everyone applauded, if all were gratified, we should think ourselves God–but when they hiss and hoot, we turn to our God and cry–
“If on my face, for Your dear name,
Shame and reproach should be,
I’ll hail reproach and welcome shame
If You’ll remember me.”
II. This brings us to the second portion of our discourse. Salvation is God’s greatest work and therefore, in His greatest work, He specially teaches us this lesson–That He is God and that beside Him there is none else.
Our text tells us HOW HE TEACHES IT–He says, “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.” He shows us that He is God and that beside Him there is none else in three ways. First, by the Person to whom He directs us–“Look unto Me and be you saved.” Secondly, by the means He tells us to use to obtain mercy–“Look,” simply “Look.” And thirdly, by the persons whom he calls to “look”–“Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.”
First, to whom does God tell us to look for salvation? Oh, does it not lower the pride of man when we hear the Lord say, “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth”? It is not, “Look to your priest and be you saved”–if you did there would be another God and beside Him there would be someone else. It is not, “Look to yourself”–if so, then there would be a being who might arrogate some of the praise of salvation. But it is, “Look unto Me.” How frequently you who are coming to Christ look to yourselves. “Oh!” you say, “I do not repent enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I do not believe enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I am too unworthy.” That is looking to yourself.
“I cannot discover,” says another, “that I have any righteousness.” It is quite right to say that you have not any righteousness. But it is quite wrong to look for any. It is, “Look unto Me.” God will have you turn your eye off yourself and look unto Him. The hardest thing in the world is to turn a man’s eye off himself. As long as he lives, he always has a predilection to turn his eye inside and look at himself–whereas God says, “Look unto ME.” From the Cross of Calvary where the bleeding hands of Jesus drop mercy. From the Garden of Gethsemane, where the bleeding pores of the Savior sweat pardons–the cry comes–“Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.”
From Calvary’s summit, where Jesus cries, “It is finished,” I hear a shout, “Look and be saved.” But there comes a vile cry from our soul, “No, look to yourself! Look to yourself!” Ah, my Hearer, look to yourself and you will be damned. That certainly will come of it. As long as you look to yourself there is no hope for you. It is not a consideration of what you are, but a consideration of what God is and what Christ is that can save you. It is looking from yourself to Jesus. Oh, there are men that quite misunderstand the Gospel. They think that righteousness qualifies them to come to Christ–whereas sin is the only qualification for a man to come to Jesus.
Good old Crisp says, “Righteousness keeps me from Christ–the whole have no need of a physician, only they that are sick. Sin makes me come to Jesus when sin is felt. And in coming to Christ, the more sin I have, the more cause I have to hope for mercy.” David said and it was a strange thing, too, “Have mercy upon me, for mine iniquity is great.” But, David, why did you not say that it was little? Because David knew that the bigger his sins were, the better reason for asking for mercy. The more vile a man is, the more eagerly I invite him to believe in Jesus. A sense of sin is all we have to look for as ministers. We preach to sinners. And let us know that a man will take the title of sinner to himself and we then say to him, “Look unto Christ and you shall be saved.”
“Look.” This is all He demands of you and even this He gives you. If you look to yourself you are damned. You are a vile miscreant, filled with loathsomeness, corrupt and corrupting others. But look here! Do you see that Man hanging on the Cross? Do you behold His agonized head drooping meekly down upon His breast? Do you see that crown of thorns causing drops of blood to trickle down His cheeks? Do you see His hands pierced and rent and His blessed feet, supporting the weight of His own frame, rent well near in two with the cruel nails? Sinner! Do you hear Him shriek, “Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabacthani?” Do you hear Him cry, “It is finished”?
Do you see His head hang down in death? Do you see that side pierced with the spear and the body taken from the Cross? Oh, look here! Those hands were nailed for you! Those feet gushed gore for you. That side was opened wide for you. And if you want to know how you can find mercy–there it is! “Look!” “Look unto ME!” Look no longer to Moses. Look no longer to Sinai. Come here and look to Calvary, to Calvary’s Victim and to Joseph’s grave. And look yonder–to the Man who near the Throne sits with His Father, crowned with light and immortality. “Look! Sinner,” He says, this morning, to you. “Look unto ME and be you saved.” It is in this way God teaches that there is none beside Him, because He makes us look entirely to Him and utterly away from ourselves.
But the second thought is the means of salvation. It is, “Look unto Me and be you saved.” You have often observed, I am sure, that many people are fond of an intricate worship–an involved religion–one they can hardly understand. They cannot endure worship so simple as ours. They must have a man dressed in white and a man dressed in black. They must have what they call an altar and a chancel. After a little while that will not suffice and they must have flower pots and candles. The clergyman then becomes a priest and he must have a variegated dress with a cross on it.
So it goes–what is simply a plate becomes a paten. And what was once a cup becomes a chalice. And the more complicated the ceremonies are, the better they like them. They like their minister to stand like a superior being. The world likes a religion they cannot comprehend! But have you ever noticed how gloriously simple the Bible is? It will not have any of your nonsense! It speaks plain and nothing but plain things. “Look!” There is not an unconverted man who likes this, “Look unto Christ and be you saved.” No, he comes to Christ like Naaman to Elijah.
And when it is said, “Go, wash in the Jordan!” he replies “I verily thought he would come and put his hand on the place and call on the name of his God, but the idea of telling me to wash in the Jordan–what a ridiculous thing. Anybody could do that!” If the Prophet had bid him do some great thing, would he not have done it? Ah, certainly he would. And if, this morning, I could preach that anyone who walked from here to Bath without his shoes and stockings or did some impossible thing, should be saved, you would start off tomorrow morning before breakfast.
If it would take me seven years to describe the way of salvation, I am sure you would all long to hear it. If only one learned doctor could tell the way to Heaven, how would he be run after! And if it were in hard words with a few scraps of Latin and Greek, it would be all the better. But it is a simple Gospel that we have to preach. It is only “Look!” “Ah,” you say, “is that the Gospel? I shall not pay any attention to that.” Why has God ordered you to do such a simple thing? Simply to take down your pride and to show you that He is God and that beside Him there is none else.
Oh, mark how simple the way of salvation is. It is, “Look, look, look!” Four letters and two of them alike! “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.” Some divines want a week to tell you what you are to do to be saved–but God the Holy Spirit only wants four letters to do it. “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.” How simple is that way of salvation! And, oh, how instantaneous! It takes us some time to move our hand–but a look does not require a moment. So a sinner believes in a moment and in the moment the sinner believes and trusts in his crucified God for pardon–he at once receives salvation in full through His blood.
There may be one that came in here this morning unjustified in his conscience that will go out justified rather than others. There may be some here, filthy sinners one moment, pardoned the next. It is done in an instant. “Look! Look! Look!” And how universal it is! Because wherever I am, however far off–it just says “Look!” It does not say I am to see. It only says “Look!” If we look on a thing in the dark we cannot see it, but we have done what we were told. So if a sinner only looks to Jesus, Jesus will save him. For Jesus in the dark is as good as Jesus in the light–and Jesus when you cannot see Him–is as good as Jesus when you can. It is only “look!”
“Ah,” says one, “I have been trying to see Jesus this year, but I have not seen Him.” It does not say see Him, but “Look unto Him”! And it says that they who looked were lightened. If there is an obstacle before you and you only look in the right direction, it is sufficient. “Look unto Me!” It is not seeing Christ so much as looking after Him. The will after Christ, the wish after Christ, the desire after Christ, the trusting in Christ, the hanging on Christ–that is what is wanted. “Look! Look! Look!” Ah, if the man bitten by the serpent had turned his sightless eyeballs towards the brazen serpent, though he had not seen it, he would still have had his life restored. It is looking, not seeing, that saves the sinner.
We say again, how this humbles the man! There is a gentleman who says, “Well if it had been a thousand pounds that would have saved me, I would have thought nothing of it.” But your gold and silver is cankered. It is good for nothing. “Then am I to be saved just the same as my servant Betty?” Yes, just the same, there is no other way of salvation for you. That is to show man that Jehovah is God and that beside Him there is none else. The wise man says, “If it had been to work the most wonderful problem, or to solve the greatest mystery, I would have done it. May I not have some mysterious Gospel? May I not believe in some mysterious religion?”
No, it is, “Look!” “What? Am I to be saved just like that Ragged School boy, who can’t read his letters?” Yes, you must, or you will not be saved at all. Another says, “I have been very moral and upright. I have observed all the laws of the land and if there is anything else to do, I will do it. I will eat only fish on Fridays and keep all the fasts of the church, if that will save me.” No, Sir, that will not save you. Your good works are good for nothing. “What! must I be saved in the same way as a harlot or a drunkard?” Yes, Sir, there is only one way of salvation for all.
“He has concluded all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.” He has passed a sentence of condemnation on all, that the free grace of God might come upon many to salvation. “Look! Look! Look!” This is the simple method of salvation. “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.”
But, lastly, mark how God has cut down the pride of man and has exalted Himself by the persons whom He has called to look. “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.” When the Jew heard Isaiah say that, “Ah,” he exclaimed “you ought to have said, Look unto Me, O Jerusalem and be saved. That would have been right. But those Gentiles–the dogs–are they to look and be saved?” “Yes,” says God, “I will show you, Jews, that though I have given you many privileges, I will exalt others above you. I can do as I will with My own.”
Now, who are the ends of the earth? Why, there are poor heathen nations now that are very few degrees removed from brutes, uncivilized and untaught. If I might go and tread the desert and find the Bushman in his kraal, or go to the South Seas and find a cannibal, I would say to the Cannibal or the Bushman, “Look unto Jesus and be you saved all the ends of the earth.” They are some of “the ends of the earth,” and the Gospel is sent as much to them, as to the polite Grecians, the refined Romans, or the educated Britons.
But I think “the ends of the earth” imply those who have gone the farthest away from Christ. I say, drunkard, that means you! You have been staggering back till you have got right to the ends of the earth. You have almost had delirium tremens, you cannot be much worse. There is not a man breathing worse than you. Is there? Ah, but God, in order to humble your pride, says to you, “Look unto Me and be you saved.” There is another who lived a life of infamy and sin until she has ruined herself and even Satan seems to sweep her out at the back door. But God says, “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.”
Methinks I see one trembling here and saying, “Ah, I have not been one of these, Sir, but I have been something worse–for I have attended the house of God and I have stifled convictions and put off all thoughts of Jesus. And now I think He will never have mercy on me.” You are one of them. “Ends of the earth!” So long as I find any who feel like that, I can tell them that they are “the ends of the earth.” “But,” says another, “I am so peculiar. If I did not feel as I do, it would be all very well. But I feel that my case is a peculiar one.” That is all right. They are a peculiar people. You will do.
But another one says, “There is nobody in the world like me. I do not think you will find a being under the sun that has had so many calls and put them all away and so many sins on his head. Besides, I have guilt that I should not like to confess to any living creature.” One of “the ends of the earth”–therefore all I have to do is to cry out, in the Master’s name, “Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else.”
But you say sin will not let you look. I tell you, sin will be removed the moment you do look. “But I dare not. He will condemn me. I fear to look.” He will condemn you more if you do not look. Fear, then and look. But do not let your fearing keep you from looking. “But He will cast me out.” Try Him. “But I cannot see Him.” I tell you, it is not seeing, but looking. “But my eyes are so fixed on the earth, so earthly, so worldly.” Ah, but, poor Soul, He gives power to look and live. He says–“Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth.”
Take this, dear Friends, for a New Year’s text–both you who love the Lord and you who are only looking for the first time. Christian! In all your troubles through this year, look unto God and be saved. In all your trials and afflictions look unto Christ and find deliverance. In all your agony, poor Soul, in all your repentance for your guilt look unto Christ and find pardon. This year remember to put your eye heavenward and your heart heavenward, too.
Look unto Christ–fear not. There is no stumbling when a man walks with his eyes up to Jesus. He that looked at the stars fell into the ditch. But he that looks at Christ walks safely. Keep your eyes up all the year long. “Look unto HIM and be you saved,” and remember that “HE is God and beside HIM there is none else.” And you poor Trembler, what do you say? Will you begin the year by looking unto Him? You know how sinful you are this morning. You know how filthy you are and yet it is possible that before you open your pew door and get into the aisle you will be as justified as the Apostles before the Throne of God.
It is possible that before your foot treads the threshold of your door you will have lost the burden that has been on your back and you will go on your way, singing, “I am forgiven, I am forgiven. I am a miracle of grace. This day is my spiritual birthday.” Oh, that it might be such to many of you, that at last I might say, “Here am I and the children You have given me.” Hear this, convicted Sinner! “This poor man cried and the Lord delivered him out of his distresses.” Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Now believe on Him. Now cast your guilty soul upon His righteousness. Now plunge your black soul into the bath of His blood. Now put your naked soul at the door of the wardrobe of His righteousness. Now seat your famished soul at the feast of plenty! Now “LOOK!” How simple does it seem! And yet it is the hardest thing in the world to bring men to. They never will do it, till constraining grace makes them. Yet there it is, “LOOK!” Go away with that thought. “Look unto Me and be you saved all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else.” Amen