Before spring quarter began I charted a course for the next 11 weeks by writing something of a syllabus for myself. One of the things I wanted to do was to read a handful of Charles Spurgeon sermons every week amongst a couple of other things. You may ask, “But why Spurgeon?” Well even if you didn’t ask, let me tell you.
I am not sure I am well-read enough to say that I have favorite authors. Some names that come to mind are Malcolm Gladwell, C.S. Lewis, Andrew Murray, and of course, Charles Spurgeon. I started reading his sermons toward the end of high school, but I confess that I was not much of a reader back then (Darn you Maplestory!). However since then I have always been struck by his uncanny ability to unearth hoards of gems from a single passage. It is no wonder some call him the ‘prince of preachers!’
One of the primary reasons why I enjoy him so much is his mastery of the English language, which allows him to speak of Christ-exalting doctrines with unmatched imagery and clarity. Often when I read Spurgeon, I am not nearly as interested in learning new things as I am hoping to be powerfully reminded of things long forgotten. As one who aspires to think true, clear, and grand thoughts on the Gospel, I can think of few men better to read (another example I like) and I cautiously daresay, emulate.
I wanted to share with interweb readers a parable that Spurgeon composed to close his sermon entitled ‘Why are Men Saved?’ His primary text was Psalm 106:8 which reads: “Nevertheless, He saved them for His name’s sake.” My hope is that your affections for Christ would be stirred by this short story. I know mine certainly were by this Narnia-esque narrative (:
I have detained you too long. Let me close by noticing obstacles removed, in the word “nevertheless.” I shall do that in somewhat of an interesting form, by way of parable.
Once on a time, Mercy sat upon her snow-white throne, surrounded by the troops of love. A sinner was brought before her, whom Mercy designed to save. The herald blew the trumpet, and after three blasts thereof, with a loud voice, he said–“O heaven and earth, and hell, I summon you this day to come before the throne of Mercy, to tell why this sinner should not be saved.” There stood the sinner, trembling with fear; he knew that there were multitudes of opponents, who would press into the hall of Mercy, and with eyes full of wrath would say, “He must not, and he shall not escape, he must be lost!”
The trumpet was blown, and Mercy sat placidly on her throne, until there stepped in one with a fiery countenance; his head was covered with light; he spoke with a voice like thunder, and out of his eyes flashed lightning! “Who art thou?” said Mercy.
He replied, “I am Law; the law of God.”
“And what hast thou to say?”
“I have this to say,” and he lifted up a stony tablet, written on both sides; “these ten commands this wretch has broken. My demand is blood; for it is written, ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die.’ Die he, or justice must.”
The wretch trembles, his knees knock together, the marrow of his bones melts within him, as if they were ice dissolved by fire, and he shakes with very fright. Already he thought he saw the thunderbolt launched at him, he saw the lightning penetrate into his soul, hell yawned before him in imagination, and he thought himself cast away forever. But Mercy smiled, and said, “Law, I will answer thee. This wretch deserves to die; justice demands that he should perish–I award thee thy claim.”
And oh, how the sinner trembles. “But there is one yonder who has come with me to-day, my king, my Lord; his name is Jesus; he will tell you how the debt can be paid, and the sinner can go free.”
Then Jesus spake, and said, “O Mercy, I will do thy bidding. Take me Law; put me in a garden; make me sweat drops of blood; then nail me to a tree; scourge my back before you put me to death; hang me on the cross; let blood run from my hands and feet; let me descend into the grave; let me pay all the sinner oweth; I will die in his stead.”
And the Law went out and scourged the Saviour, nailed him to the cross, and coming back with his face all bright with satisfaction, stood again at the throne of Mercy, and Mercy said, “Law, what hast thou now to say?”
“Nothing,” said he, “fair angel, nothing.”
“What! not one of these commands against him?”
“No, not one. Jesus, his substitute, has kept them all–has paid the penalty for his disobedience; and now, instead of his condemnation, I demand as a debt of justice that he be acquitted.”
“Stand thou here,” said Mercy, “sit on my throne; I and thou together will now send forth another summons.”
The trumpet rang again. “Come hither, all ye who have ought to say against this sinner, why he should not be acquitted;” and up comes another–one who often troubled the sinner, one who had a voice not so loud as that of the Law, but still piercing and thrilling–a voice whose whispers were like the cuttings of a dagger. “Who art thou?” says Mercy.
“I am Conscience; this sinner must be punished; he has done so much against the law of God that he must be punished; I demand it; and I will give him no rest till he is punished, nor even then, for I will follow him even to the grave, and persecute him after death with pangs unutterable.”
“Nay,” said Mercy, “hear me,” and while he paused for a moment, she took a bunch of hyssop and sprinkled Conscience with the blood, saying, “Hear me, Conscience, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin;’ Now hast thou ought to say,?” “No,” said Conscience, “nothing. Henceforth I will not grieve him; I will be a good conscience unto him, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The trumpet rang a third time, and growling from the innermost vaults, up there came a grim black fiend, with hate in his eyes, and hellish majesty on his brows. He is asked, “Hast thou anything against that sinner?”
“Yes,” said he, “I have; he has made a league with hell, and a covenant with the grave, and here it is signed with his own hand. He asked God to destroy his soul in a drunken fit, and vowed he would never turn to God; see, here is his covenant with hell!”
“Let us look at it,” said Mercy; and it was handed up, whilst the grim fiend looked at the sinner, and pierced him through with his black looks.
“Ah! but,” said Mercy, “this man had no right to sign the deed; a man must not sign away another’s property. This man was bought and paid for long beforehand; he is not his own; the covenant with death is disannulled, and the league with hell is rent in pieces. Go thy way Satan,”
“Nay,” said he, howling again, “I have something else to say: that man was always my friend; he listened ever to my insinuations; he scoffed at the gospel; he scorned the majesty of heaven; is he to be pardoned, whilst I repair to my hellish den, for ever to bear the penalty of guilt?”
Said Mercy, “Avaunt, thou fiend; these things he did in the days of his unregeneracy; but this word ‘nevertheless’ blots them out. Go thou to thy hell; take this for another lash upon thyself–the sinner shall be pardoned, but thou–never, treacherous fiend!”
And then Mercy, smilingly turning to the sinner, said, “Sinner, the trumpet must be blown for the last time!” Again it was blown, and no one answered. Then stood the sinner up, and Mercy said, “Sinner ask thyself the question–ask thou of heaven, of earth, of hell–whether any can condemn thee?”
And the sinner stood up, and with a bold loud voice said, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” And he looked into hell, and Satan lay there, biting his iron bonds; and he looked on earth, and earth was silent; and in the majesty of faith the sinner did even climb to heaven itself, and he said, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? God?’
And the answer came, “No; he justifieth.”
Sweetly it was whispered, “No; he died.”
Then turning round, the sinner joyfully exclaimed, “Who shall separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And the once condemned sinner came back to Mercy; prostrate at her feet he lay, and vowed henceforth to be hers forever, if she would keep him to the end, and make him what she would desire him to be. Then no longer did the trumpet ring, but angels rejoiced, and heaven was glad, for the sinner was saved.
Thus, you see, I have what is called, dramatized the thing; but I don’t care what it is called; it is a way of arresting the ear, when nothing else will. “Nevertheless;” there is the obstruction taken away! Sinner, whatever be the “nevertheless,” it shall never the less abate the Saviour’s love; not the less shall it ever make it, but it shall remain the same.