God's Will and Man's Will

March 30th, 1862



“It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.”--Romans 9:16
“Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”--Revelation 22:17


The great controversy which for many ages has divided the Christian Church has hinged on the difficult question of “the will.” Without a doubt that conflict has done much harm to the Christian Church, but I will also say, that it has been loaded with immeasurable usefulness; for it has thrust forward before the minds of Christians, precious truths, which without it, might have been kept in the shade. I believe that the two great doctrines of human responsibility and divine sovereignty have both been brought out more prominently in the Christian Church by the fact that there is a class of strong-minded, hard-headed men who magnify sovereignty at the expense of responsibility; and another earnest and useful class who uphold and maintain human responsibility oftentimes at the expense of divine sovereignty. I believe there is a need for this in the finite character of the human mind, for the natural lethargy of the Church requires a kind of healthy irritation to arouse her powers and to stimulate her actions. The pebbles in the living stream of truth are worn smooth and round by friction. Who among us would wish to suspend a law of nature whose effects on the whole are good? I glory in that which at the present day is so much spoken against-sectarianism, for “sectarianism” is the jargon phrase which our enemies use for all firm religious belief. I find it applied to all sorts of Christians; no matter what views he may hold, if a man is earnest, he is quickly labeled a sectarian. Success to sectarianism, let it live and flourish, for the day it ceases then we can say farewell to the power of godliness.

When each of us cease to maintain our own views of truth, and to maintain those views firmly and strenuously, then truth will fly away, and only error will reign: this, indeed, is the objective of our foes: under the cover of attacking sects, they attack true religion, and would drive it, if they could, off the face of the earth. In the controversy which has raged-a controversy which, I again say, I believe to have been really healthy, and which has done us all a vast amount of good-in this controversy mistakes have arisen from two reasons. Some brethren have completely forgotten one category of truths, and then, in the next place, they have gone too far with others. We all have one blind eye, and too often we are like Admiral Nelson in the battle, we put the telescope to that blind eye, and then complain that we cannot see. I have heard of one man who said he had read the Bible through thirty-four times on his knees, but could not see a word about election in it; I think it very likely that he couldn’t; kneeling is a very uncomfortable posture for reading, and possibly the superstition which would make the poor man perform this penance would disqualify him for using his reason: moreover, to go through the Bible thirty-four times, he probably read in such a hurry that he did not know what he was reading, and might as well have been dreaming over “Robinson Crusoe” as the Bible. He put the telescope to the blind eye. Many of us do that; we do not want to see a truth, and therefore we say we cannot see it.

On the other hand, there are others who push a truth too far. “This is good; oh! this is precious!” they say, and then they think it is good for everything; that in fact it is the only truth in the world. You know how often things are injured by too much praise; how a good medicine, which really was a great treatment for a certain disease, comes to be utterly despised by the physician, because a certain quack has praised it as being a universal cure; so exaggerated praise in a specific doctrine leads to dishonor. Truth has thus suffered on all sides; on the one hand brethren refuse to see the truth, and on the other hand they magnified what they do see way out of proportion. Have you seen those mirrors, which when you walk up to them, you see your head ten times as large as your body, or you walk away and put yourself in another position, and then your feet are monstrous and the rest of your body is small; this is an ingenious toy, but I am sorry to say that many approach God's truth using the model of this toy; they magnify one basic truth until it becomes monstrous; they minimize and speak little of another truth till it becomes completely forgotten. In what I say this morning you will probably detect the failing to which I allude, the common fault of humanity, and suspect that I also am magnifying one truth at the expense of another; but I will say this, before I proceed further, that it will not be the case if I can help it, for I will honestly endeavor to bring out the truth as I have learned it, and if you believe that I am teaching you what is contrary to the Word of God, reject it; but be aware, if it is according to God's Word, then reject it at your peril; for once I have delivered it to you, if you do not receive it, then the responsibility lies with you.

This morning, there are two things that I will have to talk about. The first is, that the work of salvation rests on the will of God, and not on the will of man; and secondly, the equally sure doctrine, that the will of man has its proper position in the work of salvation, and is not to be ignored.


Our text says, “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy;” which clearly means that the reason why any man is saved is not because he wills it, but because God willed it, in accordance to that other passage, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” The whole plan of salvation, from the first to the last, hinges and turns, and is dependent on the absolute will of God, and not on the will of the creature.

This, we think, we can show in two or three ways;

1. first, we think that an analogy furnishes us with a rather strong argument.

There is a certain likeness between all God's works; if a painter paints three pictures, there is a certain identity of style about all the three which leads you to know that they are from the same hand. Or, if an author writes three works on three different subjects, yet there are qualities running through the whole, which leads you to assert, “That is the same man's writing, I am certain, in all of the three books.”

Now what we find in the works of nature, we generally find to be correct with regard to the work of providence; and what is true of nature and of providence, is usually true with regard to the greater work of grace. Turn your thoughts, then, to the works of creation. There was a time when these works had no existence; the sun was not born; the young moon was not in orbit; the stars did not exist; not even the apparent endless void of space existed. God lived alone without a creature. I ask you, with whom did he take counsel? Who instructed him? Who had a voice in the counsel by which the wisdom of God was directed? Didn’t it rest with his own will whether he would create or not? Wasn’t creation itself, when it laid as an embryo in his thoughts, in his keeping, totally subjected to what he was pleased to do or not do? And when he willed to create, didn’t he still exercise his own discretion and will as to what and how he would create? If he has made the stars to be spheres, what reason was there for this but that it was his own will? If he has chosen that they would move in a circle rather than in any other orbit, is it not God's own arbitrary will that has made them do so? And when this round world, this green earth on which we live, leaped from his shaping hand into its sunlit track, wasn’t this also according to the divine will? Who ordained, except the Lord, the exact location where the Himalayas would lift up their heads and pierce the clouds, and where the deep cavernous recesses of the sea should pierce the earth's heart of rock? Who, except God himself, ordained that the Sahara Desert would be brown and sterile, and that the tropical island should laugh in the midst of the sea with joy over her greenness? Who, I say, ordained this, except God? You see running all through creation, from the tiniest molecule up to the tallest archangel who stands before the throne, this working out of God's own will. Milton was so right when he represents the Eternal One as saying,

My goodness is most free
To act or not: Necessity and Chance
Do not approach me, and what I will is fate.

He created as it pleased him; he made them as he chose; the potter exercised power over his clay to make his vessels as he willed, and to make them for whatever purposes he pleased. Do you think that he has abdicated the throne of grace? Does he reign in creation and not in grace? Is he absolute king over nature and not over the greater works of the new nature? Is he Lord over the things which his hand first made, and not King over the great regeneration, where he makes everything new?

But take the works of Providence. I suppose there will be no dispute among us that in providential matters God orders all things according to the wisdom of his own will. If we should, however, be troubled with doubts about the matter, we might hear the striking words of Nebuchadnezzar when, taught by God, he had repented of his pride- “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

From the first moment of human history even to the end, God's will shall be done. What though it be a catastrophe or a crime-there may be the second causes and the action of human evil, but the great first cause is in everything. If we could imagine that one human action had eluded the predestination of God, we could suppose that everything might have done so, and all things might drift to sea, anchorless, rudderless, controlled by every wave, the victim of a gale and a hurricane. One leak in the ship of Providence would sink her, one hour in which Omnipotence relaxed its grasp and she would break into pieces. But it is the comfortable conviction of all God's people that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him;” and that God rules and overrules, and reigns in all acts of men and in all events that transpire; still producing good from evil, and better still, and better still in infinite progression, still ordering all things according the wisdom of his will. And do you think that he reigns in Providence and is King there, and not in grace? Has he given up the blood-bought land to be ruled by man, while common Providence is left as a lonely providence to be his only heritage? He has not let loose of the reins of the great chariot of Providence, and do you think that when Christ goes forth in the chariot of his grace it is with unguided horses, or driven only by chance, or by the fickle will of man? Oh, no brethren. As surely as God's will is the axle of the universe, as certainly as God's will is the great heart of providence sending its pulses through even the most distant limbs of human actions, so in grace let us rest assured that he is King, willing to do as he pleases, having mercy on whom he will have mercy, calling whom he chooses to call, opening the heart and soul of whom he wills, and fulfilling, despite man's hardness of heart, despite man's willful rejection of Christ, his own purposes, his own decrees, without one of them falling to the ground. We think, then, that analogy helps to strengthen us in the declaration of the text, that salvation is not left to man's will.

2. But, secondly, we believe that the difficulties which surround the opposite theory are tremendous.

In fact, we cannot bear to look them in the face. If there are difficulties about ours, there are ten times more about the opposite. We think that the difficulties which surround our belief that salvation depends on the will of God, arise from our ignorance in not understanding enough of God to be able to judge them properly; but that the difficulties in the other case do not arise from that cause, but from certain great truths, clearly revealed, which stand in clear opposition to the fantasy which our opponents have espoused. According to their theory-that salvation depends on our own will-you have first of all this difficulty to meet, that you have made the purpose of God in the great plan of salvation entirely contingent. You have the put an “if” on everything. Christ may die, but it is not certain according to their theory that he will redeem a great multitude; no, not certain that he will redeem any, since the effectiveness of the redemption according to their plan, does not rests in its own intrinsic power, but in the will of man accepting that redemption. Therefore if man is, as we know he always is, if he is a slave to the will of his own wicked heart, and will not yield to the invitation of God's grace, then in such a case the atonement of Christ would be valueless, useless, and altogether in vain, for not a soul would be saved by it; and even when souls are saved by it, according to that theory, the value, I say, lies not in the blood itself, but in the will of man which gives it value. Redemption is therefore made contingent; the cross shakes, the blood falls powerless on the ground, and atonement is a matter of perhaps. There is a heaven provided, but it may be that no souls will ever come there if their coming is to be of themselves.

There is a fountain filled with blood, but no one will ever wash in it unless divine purpose and power compels them to come. You may look at any one promise of grace, but you cannot say over it, “This is the sure mercy of David;” for there is an “if,” and a “but;” a “perhaps,” and a “chance.” In fact, the reigns are taken out of God's hands; the linchpin is taken away from the wheels of the creation; you have left the whole economy of grace and mercy to be nothing but the gathering together of chance atoms impelled by man's own will, and nobody can know what will become of it in the end. We cannot tell on that theory whether

God will be gloried or sin will triumph. Oh! how happy are we when come back to the old fashioned doctrines, and cast our anchor where it can get its grip in the eternal purpose and counsel of God, who works all things to the good pleasure of his will.

Then another difficulty comes in; not only is everything made contingent, but it does seem to us as if man were thus made to be the supreme being in the universe. According to the freewill theory the Lord intends to do good, but he must subject his will to his own creature to know what his intention is; God wills good and would do it, but he cannot, because he has an unwilling man who will not have God's good thing put into effect. What do you do, you who believe in the freewill of man, but drag the Eternal from his throne, and lift up into it that fallen creature, man: for man, according to your theory nods, and his nod is destiny. You must have a destiny somewhere; it must either be as God wills or as man wills. If it is as God wills, then Jehovah sits as sovereign on his throne of glory, and all of creation obeys him, and the world is safe; if not God, then you put man there, to say. “I will” or “I will not; if I will it I will enter heaven; if I will it I will despise the grace of God; if I will it I will conquer the Holy Sprit, for I am stronger than God, and stronger than omnipotence; if I will it I will make the blood of Christ of no effect, for I am mightier than that blood, mightier than the blood of the Son of God himself; though God has his purpose, yet I will laugh at his purpose; it will be my purpose that will make his purpose stand, or make it fall.” Why, you who believe in the absolute freewill of man, if this is not Atheism, it is idolatry; it is putting man where God should be, and I shrink with solemn awe and horror from that doctrine which makes the grandest of God's works-the salvation man-to be dependent on the will of his creature whether it will be accomplished or not. I can and must glory in my text in its fullest sense. “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.”

3. We think that the known condition of man is a very strong argument against the supposition that salvation depends on his own will; and therefore is a great confirmation of the truth that it depends on the will of God; that it is God that chooses, and not man-God who takes the first step, and not the creature.

You who believe in the freewill of man, believing the theory that man comes to Christ of his own free will, what do you do with texts of Scripture which say that man is dead? Ephesians 2:1, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins;” you will say that is only a figure of speech. I grant that, but what is the meaning of it? You say the meaning is, he is spiritually dead. Well, then I ask you, how can he perform the spiritual act of willing that which is right? He is alive enough to will that which is evil, only evil and that continually, but he is not alive to will that which is spiritually good. Don’t you know, to turn to another Scripture, that he cannot even discern that which is spiritual? “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” [1Corinthians 2:14]. Why, he does not have a “spirit” with which to discern them; he only has a soul and a body, but the third principle, implanted in regeneration, which is called in the Word of God, “the spirit,” he knows nothing of and he is therefore incapable, seeing that he is dead and is without the vitalizing spirit, incapable of doing what you say he does.

Then again, what do you make of the words of our Savior where he said to those who had heard him preach, “You refuse to come to me to have life.” Where is freewill after such a text as that? When Christ affirms that they will not, who dare say they will? “Ah, but,” you say, “they could if they would.” Dear sir, I am not talking about that; I am talking about if they would, the question is “will they?” and we say “no,” they never will by nature. Man is so depraved, so set on mischief, and the way of salvation is so obnoxious to his pride, so hateful to his lusts, that he cannot like it, and will not like it, unless he who ordained the plan will change his nature, and subdue his will. Note this-this stubborn will of man is his sin; he is not to be excused for it; he is guilty because he will not come; he is condemned because he will not come; because he will not believe in Christ, therefore condemnation is resting on him, but still the fact does not change, because of all that, that he will not come by nature if left to himself. Well, then, if man will not, how will he be saved unless God will make him willing?-unless, in some mysterious way, he who created man’s heart will touch its mainspring so that it will move in a direction opposite to that which it naturally follows.

4. But there is another argument which will come closer home to us. It is consistent with the universal experience of all God's people that salvation is of God's will.

You will say, “Pastor, you are still young, you have not had a very long life.” True, I have not, but I have had a very extensive acquaintance with all sections of the Christian Church, and I solemnly protest before you, that I have never yet met with a man professing to be a Christian, let alone his really being so, who ever said that his coming to God was the result of his unassisted nature. Universally, I believe, without exception, the people of God will say it was the Holy Spirit that made them what they are; that they would have refused to come as others do unless God's grace had sweetly influenced their wills. There are some hymns in Mr. Wesley's hymnbook which are stronger on this point than I could ever venture to be, for he puts prayer into the lips of the sinner in which God is even asked to force him to be saved by grace. Of course I can take no objection to a term so strong, but it goes to prove this, that among all sections of Christians, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whatever their doctrinal sentiments may be, their experimental sentiments are the same. I do not think any of them would refuse to join in the verse-

Oh! yes, I do love Jesus,
Because he first loved me.

Nor would they find fault with our own hymn,

'Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.'

We bring out the crown and say, “On whose head will we put it? Who ruled at the moment of salvation? Who decided that the sinner would be saved?” and the universal Church of the Living God, throwing away their creeds, would say. “Crown him; crown him, put it on his head, for he is worthy; he has made us to believe; he has done it, and to him be the praise forever and ever.” What staggers my minds is, that men can believe doctrines contrary to their own experience-that they can bring near to their hearts something they consider precious despite the fact that their own inward convictions reveal it to be a lie.

5. But, lastly, in the way of argument, and to bring our greatest weapon at the end. It is not, after all, arguments from analogy, nor reasons from the difficulties of the opposite position, nor inferences from the known feebleness of human nature, nor even deductions from experience, that will settle this question once for all. “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” Do me the pleasure, then, to use your Bibles for a moment or two, and let us see what Scripture says on this main point.

First, with regard to the matter of God's preparation, and his plan with regard to salvation. We turn to the apostle's words in the epistle to the Ephesians, and we find in the first chapter and the third verse, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” You will notice-it is according to his pleasure and his will. No expression could be stronger in the original to show the entire absoluteness of this thing as depending on the will God. It seems, then, that in the choice of his people their adoption is according to his will. So far we are satisfied, indeed, with the testimony of the apostle.

Then in the ninth verse, “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” So, then, it seems that the grand result of the gathering together of all the saved in Christ, as well as the primitive purpose, is according to the counsel of his will. What stronger proof can there be that salvation depends on the will of God?

Moreover, it says in the eleventh verse-“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”-his free unbiased will, his will alone. As for redemption as well as for the eternal purpose-redemption is according to the will of God. You remember that verse in Hebrews, tenth chapter, ninth verse, where Jesus said to the Father: “‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So that the redemption offered up on Calvary, like the election made before the foundation of the world, is the result of the divine will. There will be little controversy here: the main point is about our new birth, and here we cannot allow of any diversity of opinion. Turn to the Gospel according to John, the first chapter and thirteenth verse. It is utterly impossible that human language could have put a stronger negative on the conceited claims of the human will than this passage does: “Born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, but born of God. A passage equally clear is to be found in the Epistle of James, in the first chapter, and the eighteenth verse: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

In these passages-and they are not the only ones-the new birth puts an end to all debate and in the strongest language is put down as being the fruit and effect of the will and purpose of God. As to the sanctification which is the result and outgrowth of the new birth, that also is according to God's holy will. In First Thessalonians, chapter four, and verse three, we read, “It is God's will that you should be sanctified.” And one more passage I must refer you to, the sixth chapter, and verse thirty-nine. Here we find that the preservation, the perseverance, the resurrection, and the eternal glory of God's people, rests on his will. “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” And to be sure, this is why the saints go to heaven, because in the seventeenth chapter of John, Christ is recorded as praying, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.” We close, then, by noticing that according to Scripture, every single blessing in the new covenant which is conferred on us, is according to the will of God, and that like the picture hangs on the nail, so every blessing, we receive hangs on the absolute will and counsel of God, who gives these mercies even as he gives the gifts of the Spirit according to his will. We will now leave that point, and take the second great truth, and speak a little while on it.


“Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” According to this and many other texts the Scripture where man is addressed as a being having a will, it appears clear enough that men are not saved by compulsion. When a man receives the grace of Christ, he does not receive it against his will. No man will be pardoned while he abhors the forgiveness. No man will have joy in the Lord if he says, “I do not wish to rejoice in the Lord.” Do not think that anybody will have the angels pushing them behind into the gates of heaven. They must go there freely or else they will never go there at all. We are not saved against our will; nor again, mark you, is the will taken away; for God does not come and convert the intelligent free-agent into a machine. When he turns the slave into a child, it is not by plucking out of him the will which he possesses. We are as free under grace as ever we were under sin; no, we were slaves when we were under sin, and when the Son makes us free we are free indeed, and we are never free before. Erskine, in speaking of his own conversion, says he ran to Christ “with full consent against his will,” by which he meant it was against his old will; against his will as it was till Christ came, but when Christ came, then he came to Christ with full consent, and was as willing to be saved-no, that is a cold word-as delighted, as pleased, as transported to receive Christ as if grace had not constrained him. But we do hold and teach that though the will of man is not ignored, and men are not saved against their wills, that the work of the Spirit, which is the effect of the will of God, is to change the human will, and so make men willing in the day of God's power, working in them to will to do his own good pleasure. The work of the Spirit is consistent with the original laws and constitution of human nature. Ignorant men talk grossly and carnally about the work of the Spirit in the heart as if the heart were a lump of flesh, and the Holy Spirit turned it round mechanically. Now, brethren, how is your heart and my heart changed in any matter? Why, the instrument generally used is persuasion. A friend sets before us a truth we did not know before; pleads with us; puts it in a new light, and then we say, “Now I see that,” and then our hearts are changed towards the thing. Now, although no man's heart is changed by moral persuasion in itself, yet the way in which the Spirit works in his heart, as far as we can detect it, is instrumentally by a blessed persuasion of the mind. I do not say that men are saved by moral persuasion, or that this is the first cause, but I think it is frequently the visible means. As to the secret work, who knows how the Spirit works? “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit;” but yet, as far as we can see, the Spirit makes a revelation of truth to the soul, whereby it sees things in a different light from what it ever did before, and then the will cheerfully bows that neck which once was stiff as iron, and wears the yoke which it once despised, and wears it gladly, cheerfully, and joyfully. Yet, note that the will is not gone; the will is treated as it should be treated; man is not acted on as a machine, he is not polished like a piece of marble; he is not planed and smoothed like a plank of wood; but his mind is acted on by the Spirit of God, in a manner quite consistent with mental laws. Man is thus made a new creature in Christ Jesus, by the will of God, and his own will is blessedly and sweetly made to yield.

Then, mark you-and this is a point which I want to put into the thoughts of any who are troubled about these things-this gives the renewed soul a most blessed sign of grace, insomuch that if any man wills to be saved by Christ, if he wills to have sin forgiven through the precious blood, if he wills to live by a holy life resting on the atonement of Christ, and in the power of the Spirit, that will is one of the most blessed signs of the mysterious working of the Spirit of God in his heart; if it is real willingness, I will venture to assert that that man is not far from the kingdom. I do not say that he is saved, nor that he himself may conclude he is, but there is a work begun, which has the germ of salvation in it. If you are willing, depend on it that God is willing. Soul, if you are concerned about Christ, he is more concerned about you. If you have only one spark of true desire for him, that spark is a spark from the fire of his love to you. He has drawn you, or else you would never run after him. If you are saying, “Come to me, Jesus,” it is because he has come to you, though you do not know it. He has sought you like a lost sheep, and therefore you have sought him like a returning prodigal. He has swept the house to find you, as the woman swept for the lost piece of money, and now you seek him as a lost child would seek a father's face. Let your willingness to come to Christ be a hopeful sign and indicator.

But once more, let me have the ear of the true seeker. It appears that when you have a willingness to come to Christ, there is a special promise for you. You know, my dear listeners, that we are not accustomed in this church to preach one side of truth, but we try if we can to preach it all. There are some brethren with small heads, who, when they have heard a strong doctrinal sermon, grow into hyper-Calvinists, and then when we preach an inviting sermon to poor sinners, they cannot understand it, and say it is a yes and no gospel. Believe me, it is not yes and no, but yes and yes. We give your yes to all truth, and our no we give to no doctrine of God. Can a sinner be saved when he wills to come to Christ? Yes. And if he does come, does he come because God brings him? Yes. We have no “nos” in our theology for any revealed truth. We do not shut the door on one word and open it to another. Those are the yes and no people who have a no for the poor sinner, when they profess to preach the gospel. As soon as a man has any willingness given to him, he has a special promise. Before he had the willingness he had an invitation. Before he had any willingness, it was his duty to believe in Christ, for it is not man's condition that gives him a right to believe. Men are to believe in obedience to God's command. God commands all men everywhere to repent, and this is his great command, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” “This is the commandment, that you believe in Jesus Christ whom he has sent.” Therefore, it is your right and your duty to believe; and once you have got the willingness, then you have a special promise-“Whosoever wishes, let him come.” That is a sort of extraordinary invitation. I think this is the utterance of the special call. You know how John Bunyan describes the special call in words to this effect. “The hen goes clucking about the farmyard all day long; that is the general call of the gospel; but she sees a hawk up in the sky, and she gives a sharp cry for her little ones to come and hide under her wings; that is the special call; they come and are safe.” My text is a special call to some of you. Poor soul! are you willing to be saved? “O, sir, willing, willing indeed; I cannot use that word; I would give all I have if I might but be saved.” Do you mean you would give it all in order to purchase it? “Oh no, sir, I do not mean that; I know I cannot purchase it; I know it is God's gift, but still, if I could be but saved, I would ask nothing else.

Lord, deny me what you wilt,
Only ease me of my guilt;
Pleading at Your feet I lie,
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Why, then the Lord speaks to you this morning, to you if not to any other man in the church, he speaks to you and says-”Whosoever wishes, let him come.” You cannot say this does not mean you. When we give the general invitation, you may exempt yourself perhaps in some way or other, but you cannot now. You are willing, then come and take the water of life freely. “Shouldn’t I pray first?” It does not say so; it says, take the water of life. “But hadn’t I better go home and get better first?” No, take the water of life, and take the water of life now. You are standing by the fountain, and the water is flowing and you are willing to drink; you are picked out of a crowd who are standing about, and you are especially invited by the person who built the fountain. He says, “Here is a special invitation for you; you are willing; come and drink.” “Sir,” you say, “I must go home and wash my pitcher.” “No,” says he, “come and drink.” “But, sir, I want to go home and write a petition to you.” “I do not want it,” he says, “drink now, drink now.” What would you do? If you were dying of thirst, you would just put your lips down and drink. Soul, do that now. Believe that Jesus Christ is able to save you now. Trust your soul into his hands now. No preparation is needed. Whosoever will let him come; let him come at once and take the water of life freely. To take that water is simply to trust Christ; to rest in him; to take him to be your all in all. Oh that you would do it now! You are willing; God has made you willing.

When the crusaders heard the voice of Peter the hermit, as he begged them to go to Jerusalem to take it from the hands of the invaders, they cried out at once, “Deus vult; God wills it; God wills it;” and every man took his sword from its scabbard, and set out to reach the holy city, for God willed it. So come and drink, sinner; God wills it. Trust Jesus; God wills it. If you will it, that is the sign that God wills it. “Father, your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven.” As sinners, humbly stoop to drink from the flowing crystal clear water which streams from the sacred fountain which Jesus opened for his people; let it be said in heaven, “God's will is done; hallelujah, hallelujah!” “It does not depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy;” yet “Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Amen.

Updated and added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Spurgeon Collection" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
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Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986