Charles H. Spurgeon
This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted ă 1999 by Tony Capoccia. All rights reserved.
‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.’—1 John 1:7
‘I will praise you every day,
Now your anger's turned away.
Comfortable thoughts arise
From the blooding sacrifice.
Jesus is become at length,
My salvation and my strength;
And his praises shall prolong,
While I live, my pleasant song.’
Let our lips pack sonnets within the scope of a word; let our voice distill hours of melody into a single syllable; let our tongue utter in one letter the essence of the harmony of ages: for we write of an hour which far excels all the days of our life as gold surpasses dross. As the night of Israel's passover was a night to be remembered, a theme for poets, and an incessant fountain of grateful song, even so is the time of which we now speak, the never to be forgotten hour of our emancipation from guilt, and of our justification in Jesus.
Other days have mingled with their fellows till, like coins worn in circulation, their image and superscription are entirely obliterated; but this day remains new, fresh, bright, as distinct in all its parts as if it were but yesterday struck from the mint of time. Memory shall drop from her palsied hand many a memento which now she cherishes, but she shall never, even when she totters to the grave, release from her heart the token of the extremely happy hour of the redemption of our spirit. The emancipated galley‑slave may forget the day which heard his broken fetters rattle to the ground; the pardoned traitor may fail to remember the moment when the axe of the headsman was averted by a pardon; and the long despairing mariner may not remember the moment when a friendly hand snatched him from the hungry deep: but O hour of forgiven sin! moment of perfect pardon! our soul shall never forget you while within her life and being she finds immortality.
Each day of our life has had its attendant angel; but on this day, like Jacob at Mahanaim, hosts of angels met us. The sun has risen every morning, but on that eventful morning he had the light of seven days. As the days of heaven on earth—as the years of immortality—as the ages of glory—as the bliss of heaven, so were the hours of that extremely happy day. Rapture divine, and inexpressible ecstasy filled our soul. Fear, distress, and grief, with all their train of woes, fled hastily away; and in their place joys came without number. Like terrors that flee before the rising sunlight, so also all our dark apprehensions vanished, and
‘As morning her rosy steps in the eastern clime,
Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl,’
so did grace fill our heart with priceless gems of joy. ‘For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!”’ (S. of S. 2:11-13)
Our buried powers, springing up from the dark earth, where corruption had buried them, budded, blossomed, and brought forth clusters of fruit. Our soul was completely awaken to gladness; conscience sang approval; judgment joyfully attested the validity of the acquittal; hope painted bright visions for the future; while imagination knew no bounds to the eagle flight of her loosened wing. The city of Mansoul [Pilgrim’s Progress] had a grand illumination, and even its most obscure lanes and alleys were hung with lamps of brilliance. The bells of our soul rang merry sounds, music and dancing filled every chamber, and every room was perfumed with flowers. Our heart was flooded with delight; like a bottle full of new wine, it needed to escape. It contained as much of heaven as the finite can hold of infinity. It was our soul’s wedding day, and we wore robes fairer than ever graced a bride. At night angels sang—‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men;’ and in the morning remembering their midnight melodies, we sang them over again. We walked in Paradise; we slept in arbors of amaranth [flowers]; we drank drops of nectar from goblets of gold, and fed on luscious fruits brought to us in baskets of silver.
‘The liquid drops of tears that we once shed
Came back again, transformed to richest pearl;’
the breath we spent in sighs returned back to us laden with fragrance; the past, the present, the future, like three fair sisters, danced around us, light of foot and joyful of heart. We had discovered the true alchymist’s stone [of seemingly magical power], which, turning all to gold, had transform everything within us into the purest metal. We were rich, immensely rich; for Christ was ours, and we were heirs with Him.
Our body, too, once the hindrance and restriction of our spirit, became the active partner of our bliss. Our eyes were windows lighted up with happiness; our feet were young deers bounding with pleasure; our lips were fountains gushing with song, and our ears were the seats of minstrels. It was hard to contain our rapture within the narrow bounds of prudence. Like the insects leaping in the sunshine, or the fish sporting in the stream, we could have danced to and fro in the convulsions of our delight. If we were, our pleasure drowned our pain; if we were feeble, our bliss renewed our strength. Each broken bone praised Him; each strained sinew blessed Him; our whole flesh extolled Him. Every sense was the inlet of joy, and the outlet of praise. As the compass needle points to the pole, so did our quivering frame rest on Him. We knew no thought beyond, no hope above, the perfect satisfaction of that hour; for Christ and his salvation had filled us to the very brim.
All nature appeared to sympathise with us. We went forth with joy, and were led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills broke forth before us into singing, and all the trees of the field clapped their hands. The fields, the floods, the sky, the air, the sun, the stars, the cattle, the birds, the fish—yes, the very stones seemed to share in our joy. They were the choir, and we the leaders of a band, who at the lifting of our hand poured forth whole floods of harmony.
Perhaps our birthday found the earth wrapped in the robes of winter, but its snowy whiteness was all in keeping with the holiday of our spirit. Each snowflake renewed the assurance of our pardon, for we were now washed whiter than snow. The burial of the earth in its grave clothes of white promised to us the covering of our sins by the righteousness of Jesus. The trees, decorated with ice drops, glittered in the sun as if they had created stars to shine on us; and even the chilling blast, as it whirled around us, appeared but an image of that power which had carried our sins away, as far as the east is from the west. Surely, winter was never less wintry than then, for in a nobler sense than the poet [Thomson] we can affirm—
‘With frequent foot,
Pleased have I, in my cheerful morning of life,
Trod the pure snows, myself as pure.’
Grace enabled us to find a song where others only murmured.
It may be we were brought to love the glorious Redeemer in the springtime of the year; and if so, our awakened spirit found all around it the counterpart of the world within. We, too, like the little flowers, were rising from our tombs; like the sweet birds, expecting brighter days, we sung the songs of promise; like the rippling brooks, unbound from our captivity, we leaped in hasty joy; and, like the woodlands, we were ‘unrestrained in harmony.’ The mountains, lifting their green heads to the sky, charged us to tell our Maker how we desired to approach his footstool; and the valleys, bleating with the Rocks, were commanded to commend us to the notice of the great Shepherd of the sheep. The falling rains we thanked as emblems of him who comes down ‘like rain upon the mown grass;’ and the smiling sun we owned as a type of his great Lord, who brings healing beneath his wings.
The sunny glade, and felt an inward bliss
Beyond the power of kings to purchase.’
Yes, and beyond the power of kings to guess if they, too, had not felt the same. As the doorways of earth were opening for the coming of the summer, so were we preparing for glorious days of happiness and fruitfulness. Everything in creation was in keeping with our condition, as if nature were but a dress made by a skilful hand, fitting our newborn soul in every part. We were supremely blessed. Our heart was like a bell dancing at bridal joys, and the world was full of bells chiming with it. We were glad, and nature cried, ‘Child, lend me your hand, and we will dance together, for I too am at ease since my great Lord has freed me from my wintry fetters; come on, favoured one, and wander where you will, for
‘“The softening air is balm;
Echo the mountains round; the forest smiles;
And every sense, and every heart is joy.”
Come on, then, and sport with me on this our mutual feast.’
If in summer we brought forth fruits fitting for repentance, and were planted in the garden of the Lord, the soil on which we trod was prolific with emblems of our own condition, and with creatures sympathising with our joy; and the sky which canopied our dwelling place was woven like a tapestry with praises of our Lord. When the rainbow bridged the sky, we hailed it as the sign of the eternal covenant made with us by Him who preserves truth to all generations; if the steaming river sent its exhalation to the clouds, we put our song upon its altar that it might ascend with it; if the dewdrops sparkled on the breast of morning, ‘the dew of our youth’ rejoiced at their kindred beauty; or if the soft winds breathed odours, we summoned them to receive another burden, while we perfumed them with the name of Jesus. Whether we walked the seaside, and thought the waves washed blessings to our feet, or found beneath the high rock a grateful shelter from the heat, or drank the stream whose waters were sweeter to our taste than ever before, we were by every object drawn upward evermore to contemplate the Lord our Redeemer, who in every scene of nature was set forth in miniature. All summers had been winters compared with this; for now we had flowers in our heart, a sun in our soul, fruits in our spirit, songs in our thoughts, and joy and warmth in our affections. Till then we never knew the glory of this mighty world, because we did not know it to be our Father’s and our own; but then we looked from the hilltop on the widespread scene with the eyes of a young heir just come to his estate, or a fresh crowned monarch whose fair dominions stretch beneath his feet as far as the eye can see. Then we felt, in fact, what we had only heard in poetry, the noble birthright of a regenerated man—
‘His are the mountains, and the valleys his;
And the resplendent rivers. His to enjoy,
With a propriety that none can feel;
But who, with filial confidence inspired,
Can lift to heaven an unpresumptuous eye,
And smiling say, ‘My Father made them all.’
Are they not his by a peculiar right,
And by an emphasis of interest his,
Whose eye they fill with tears of holy joy,
Whose heart with praise, and whose exalted mind,
With worthy thoughts of that unwearied love,
That planned, and built, and still upholds, a world
So clothed with beauty for rebellious man?’
O happy spirit! tuned correctly in unison with a fair earth, man's first inheritance, lost till by grace again we call it ours, and know it to be beautiful. Words fail to describe the Divine rapture of the spirit; and however well a poet may paint nature as he sees it, yet though he succeed to his own satisfaction, the newborn child of God, whose feelings are richer even than the wealth of poetical works, will feel that he has but poorly pencilled what his now enlightened eye beholds with raptures of delight. This world is a great music box, and he who has the key can set it playing, while others with open mouth are wondering whence the song originates. Nature is a colossal organ, and the frail fingers of man may move its keys to thunders of music; but the organist is usually unseen, and the world does not know how such majestic sounds are begotten. Summer is the earth in court dress; and if the heart be so, it will know to what court summer belongs, and will call him friend.
Need we reiterate our joys by presenting autumn for its contribution? Truly, if then we found our Lord, the ripened fruit did taste more lusciously than ever. The yellow suit in which the year was clad shone in our eyes like burnished gold. Even as old Autumn—
‘Joyed in his plenteous store,
Laden with fruits that made him laugh, full glad
That he had banished hunger,’
so did we rejoice that our hunger and thirst were satisfied with ripe fruit from the tree of life. The harvest home echoed to our heart’s glad shouts, and the vintage songs kept tune with our loud rejoicings.
All seasons of the year are alike, beautiful to those who know how to track the Creator's footsteps along the road of providence, or who have found a token of his grace, and therefore bless the hour in which it came. There is neither stick nor stone, nor insect, nor reptile, which will not teach us praise when the soul is in such a state as that whereof we now are musing:—
‘There's music in the sighing of a reed;
There's music in the gushing of a rill;
There's music in all things, if men had ears;
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres’ [Byron].
The one pardoning word of the Lord, of all absolution, has put music
into all things, even as the trump of the archangel shall breathe life into the
dead. Those drops of atoning blood have put fair colours
upon all creation, even as the sunrise paints the earth, which had been one
huge blot of darkness.
How especially dear do all our mercies become at the moment when Christ shines on us! the bread of our table is almost as holy as the bread of Eucharist; the wine we drink tastes as sacred as that of His consecrated cup; each meal is a sacrament, each sleep has its Jacob's vision; our clothes are vestments, and our house a temple. We may be sons of poverty, but when Jesus comes, for that day at least, he strews our floor with sand of gold, and plants upon the roof of the ancient house, flowers of sweet contentment, of which heaven need not be ashamed. We are made so happy in our low estate at that transporting word of grace which gives us liberty, that we do not envy princes their crowns, nor would their wealth tempt us from the happy spot where our Lord condescends to give us his company.
Oh that blessed day! again our memory rushes back to it, and rapture glows even at its mention. Many days have passed since then; but as the one drink of sweet water refreshes the camel over many a mile of desert, so does that happy hour still cheer us as we remember it. Beginning of the days of heaven! Firstborn of morning! Prophet of blessings! Funeral of fears! Birthday of hope! Day of our spirit’s betrothal! Day of God and day of mercy!—oh that we had power to sing the joy which kindles our passions to a flame while we review you! or rather, oh that we had grace to hymn His praise who made you such a day! Does the stranger inquire, What has so distinguished that day above its fellows? the answer is already knocking at the door of our lips to obtain an egress. We were released from the slavery of sin, we were delivered from the scourges of conscience, we were ransomed from the bondage of law, we were emancipated from the slavery of corruption; death vanished before the quickening of the Holy Spirit, poverty was made rich with infinite treasures of grace, and hunger felt itself satisfied with good things. Naked before, we on that day put on the robes of princes; black, we washed ourselves clean in a bath of blood; sick, we received instant healing; despairing, we rejoiced with joy unspeakable. Ask her, who has had the issue of her blood stopped by a touch; ask the healed demoniac, or his companion who throws away the crutch of his longtime stumbling, why on that day of recovery they were glad; and they will exhibit their own persons as reasons for their joy: so, O wondering gazer, look on us and solve the mystery of our enthusiastic song. We ourselves are our own answer to your inquiries.
Let us summon memory again to lead the choir, while all that is within us does bless His holy name. ‘He spoke and it was done;’ ‘He said, Let there be light, and there was light.’ He passed by, in the greatness of his love and in the abundance of his power, and commanded us live. O eyes of beauty, how you were outdone by his sweet looks! He was fairer than the sons of men, and lovelier than a dream when he manifested himself to us. Lying by the pool of mercy, we pined away with disappointment, for no one would put us into the healing water; but his love did not wait for an instant, he said, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ Ah, where shall thunders be found which will lend us voices? where are floods which can lend us uplifted hands? for we need these to utter half His praise. Angels, your sonnets and your golden songs are poor, poor things for our sweet Lord Jesus. He deserves notes which your voices cannot provide, and music which dwells not within the strings of your most melodious harps. He must be his own poet, for no one but he himself can sing. He knows, and only he, that depth of love within his bleeding heart, some drops of which we drank on that favorable morning of redemption. He can tell, and only he, the transporting sound of that sweet assurance which laid our fears to rest in his own sepulchre. He alone can testify what he has wrought; for, as for us, we were asleep on the mount of joy; ‘When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing’ (Ps. 126:1,2) He, our Light, did light a candle around us; our ‘conversation was in heaven;’ our soul made us like the chariots of Amminadab;
‘Our rapture seemed a pleasing dream,
The grace appeared so great.’
We cried out in wonder, love, and praise, ‘Why is this granted to me?’ (Luke 1:43) ‘Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that you have brought me this far?’ (2 Sam. 7:18). Our dark and loathsome prison still made our garments to smell of its mouldiness, and this quickened our gratitude for our deliverance. Like Jonah, fresh from the whale’s belly, we were willing enough for service of any kind; all too glad to have come up alive from ‘the moorings of the mountains,’ where we feared that ‘the earth with its bars closed behind us forever’ (Jonah 2:6). Never did a lark spring from his cage door to the sky with half as much speed as that which we made when we obtained our liberty from the iron bondage; no young deer ever bounded so nimbly over the hills as did our hearts when they were ‘like hinds let loose.’ ‘We could almost retrace the steps of our pilgrimage, to sing once more that song of triumph over a host of sins buried in the sea of forgetfulness, or drink again of the wells of Elim, or sit beneath those seventy palm trees’ (Exod. 15:27).
Dear spot of ground where Jesus met us! dear hour which brought us to his feet! and precious, precious lips of Jesus, which spoke us free! That hour shall lead the song, and every hour shall join the chorus of—‘TO HIM WHO LOVED US AND WASHED US FROM OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BLOOD, AND HAS MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS TO HIS GOD AND FATHER, TO HIM BE GLORY AND DOMINION FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN’ (Rev. 1:5, 6).
Had it been in our power to have handled the poet's style and measure, we might have more fully expressed our emotions; but if our pen is not that of a ready writer, at least our heart is writing good material.
We close by an interesting account of conversion, illustrating its intense darkness, and its succeeding unspeakable light. It is an extract from that valuable and interesting biography, entitled, Struggles for Life. After hearing a powerful sermon, he goes home much impressed:
‘I spoke to no one, and did not dare to lift my eyes from my feet, as I expected the earth to open and swallow me. The commotion of my soul was altogether such as language cannot describe. I crept to my room, locked the door, and fell upon my knees; but no words came. I could not pray. The perspiration was oozing from every pore. How long I lay on my knees I know not; happily, this fearful agony of mind did not last long, or I should have died. Some hours elapsed—hours like ages; in which I felt myself before the throne of righteous judgment, and while the process was going on I was dumb. Had the Salvation of my soul depended upon a word, I could not have uttered it. But he who had smitten, graciously healed. As if they had been slowly unfolded before me, there appeared these never to be forgotten words: ‘THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST CLEANSETH FROM ALL SIN.’
‘I had read and heard these wonderful words often, but now they appeared new to me. I gazed, believed, loved, and embraced them. The crisis was past. A flood of tears rushed from my eyes; my tongue was set at liberty. I prayed, and perhaps it was the first time in my life that I really did pray.
‘For three days after this I was filled with indescribable joy. I thought I saw heaven, with its blessed inhabitants, and its glorious king. I thought he was looking on me with unutterable compassion, and that I recognised Him as Jesus, my Saviour, who had laid me under eternal obligation. The world, and all its concerns, appeared utterly worthless. The conduct of ungodly men filled me with grief and pity. I saw everything in an entirely new light: a strong desire to fly to heathen lands, that I might preach the good news to idolaters, filled my heart. I longed to speak about the grand discovery I had made, and felt assured that I had but to open my lips to convince every one of the infinite grace of Christ, and the infinite value of salvation. And I thought my troubles over, and that, henceforth, the same scenes of joy and hallowed peace were to pass before my eyes, and fill my heart.’
Such feelings are not the lot of all to the same degree; but an exceedingly large proportion of the Lord's redeemed will recognise this experience as ‘the path of the just;’ (Prov. 4:18) and some who read will rejoice to see here a fair copy of their inner life at this very moment.
May the God of all grace bring each of us to this fair land of Beulah, this palace of delights, this chamber of bliss. Amen.
TO THE UNCONVERTED READER
FRIEND,—You are amazed at this, for it sounds like a wild legend or fairy tale. You know nothing of such joy; this is a spring from which you have never drawn living water. How much do you lose by your impenitence, and how poor are the things which recompense your loss! What are your delights but bubbles? what your pleasure but sweet poisons? and what is your most substantial bliss but a deceptive, illusive vision of the night? Oh that you were able to judge between genuine and counterfeit, real and fictitious! Surely one grain of right reason would teach you the superiority of spiritual joys to mere carnal excitements. You are not so far bereft of judgment as to put any one of your high carnival days in competition with the time of pardoned sin. You will not venture to compare your sweetest wine with that wine of heaven which flows into the lips of the sinner who is forgiven; nor will you bring your music into rivalry with that which welcomes the returning prodigal.
Answer these two questions, we beseech you, What does it profit you to sin against God? and, What shall it profit you, at last, if you should gain the whole world and lose your own soul? Will a few carnal merriments repay you for unnumbered woes? Will transient sunlight make amends for everlasting darkness? Will wealth, or honour, or ambition, or lust, furnish you with an easy pillow when you shall make your bed in hell? In hell you shall be, if you do not have Christ. Oh! remember God is just; and, because he will be just, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD!
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