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Excerpt from C. H. Spurgeon's most famous sermon (in 1864) a refutation of "Baptismal Regeneration"
May God grant that the controversy which this sermon has commenced may lead to the advancement of his truth, and the enlightenment of many. - C. H. SPURGEON.
It is a most fearful fact, that in no age since the Reformation has Popery made such fearful strides in England as during the last few years. I had comfortably believed that Popery was only feeding itself upon foreign subscriptions, upon a few titled perverts, and imported monks and nuns. I dreamed that its progress was not real. In fact, I have often smiled at the alarm of many of my brethren at the progress of Popery. But, my dear friends, we have been mistaken, grievously mistaken. It really is an alarming matter to see so many of our countrymen going off to that superstition which as a nation we once rejected, and which it was supposed we should never again receive. I have but to open my eyes a little to foresee ROMANISM rampant everywhere in the future, since its germs are spreading everywhere in the present. I see this coming up everywhere - a belief in ceremony, a resting in ceremony, a veneration for alters, fonts, and Churches - a veneration so profound that we must not venture upon a remark, or straightway of sinners we are chief. Here is the essence and soul of Popery, peeping up under the garb of a decent respect for sacred things.
It is impossible but that the Church of Rome must spread, when we who are the watch-dogs of the fold are silent, and others are gently and smoothly turfing the road, and making it as soft and smooth as possible, that converts may travel down to the nethermost hell of Popery. The velvet has got into our ministers' mouths of late, but we must unrobe ourselves of soft raiment, and truth must be spoken, and nothing but truth; for of all lies which have dragged millions down to hell, I look upon this as being one of the most atrocious - that in a Protestant Church there should be found those who swear that baptism saves the soul. I come with much brevity, and I hope with much earnestness, to say that FAITH IS THE INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE TO SALVATION. This faith is the gift of God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. My hearers, if you would be saved, you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me urge you with all my heart to look nowhere but to Christ crucified for your salvation. Oh! if you rest upon any ceremony, thought it be not baptism - if you rest upon any other than Jesus Christ, you must perish, as surely as this book is true.
In the Lord's Supper my faith is assisted by the outward and visible sign. In the bread and in the wine I see no superstitious mystery, I see nothing but bread and wine, but in that bread and wine I do see to my faith an assistant. Through the sign my faith sees the thing signified. So in baptism there is no mysterious efficacy in the baptistry or in the water. We attach no reverence to the one or to the other, but we do see in the water and in the baptism such an assistance as brings home to our faith most manifestly our being buried with Christ, and our rising again in the newness of life with him. Explain baptism thus, dear friends, and there is no fear of Popery rising out of it. Explain it thus, and we cannot suppose any soul will be led to trust to it; but it takes its proper place among the ordinances of God's house. To lift it up in the other way, and say men are saved by it - ah! my friends, how much of mischief that one falsehood has done and may do, eternity alone will disclose. . Would to God another George Fox would spring up in all his quaint simplicity and rude honesty to rebuke the idol-worship of this age; to rail at their holy bricks and mortar, holy lecterns, holy alters, holy surplices, right reverend fathers, and I know not what.
These things are not holy. God is holy; his truth is holy; holiness belongs not to the carnal and the material, but to the spiritual. Oh that a trumpet- tongue would cry out against the superstition of the age. I cannot, as George Fox did, give up baptism and the Lord's Supper, but I would infinitely sooner do it, counting it the smaller mistake of the two, than perpetrate and assist in perpetrating the uplifting of baptism and the Lord's Supper out of their proper place. O my beloved friends, the comrades of my struggles and witnessings, cling to the salvation of faith, and abhor the salvation of priests. . If I am not mistaken, the day will come when we shall have to fight for a simple spiritual religion far more than we do now. We have been cultivating friendship with those who are either unscriptural in creed or else dishonest, who either believe baptismal regeneration, or profess that they do, and swear before God that they do when they do not. The time is come when there shall be no more truce or parley between God's servants and time-servers. The time is come when those who follow God must follow God, and those who try to trim and dress themselves and find out a way which is pleasing to the flesh and gentle to carnal desires, must go their way. A great winnowing time is coming to God's saints, and we shall be clearer one of these days than than we now are from union with those [the "Church of England"] who are upholding Popery, under the pretence of teaching Protestantism.
We shall be clear, I say, of those who teach salvation by baptism, instead of salvation by the blood of our blessed Master, Jesus Christ. O may the Lord gird up your loins. Believe me, it is no trifle. It may be that on this ground Armageddon shall be fought. Here shall come the great battle between Christ and his saints on the one hand, and the world, the forms, and ceremonies, on the other. If we are overcome here, there may be years of blood and persecution and tossing to and fro between darkness and light; but if we are brave and bold, and flinch not here, but stand to God's truth, the future of England may be bright and glorious. O for a truly reformed Church in England, and a godly race to maintain it! The world's future depends on it under God, for in proportion as truth is marred at home, truth is maimed abroad. . Out of any system which teaches salvation by baptism must spring infidelility, an infidelity which the false Church already seems willing to nourish and foster beneath her wing. God save this favoured land from the brood of her own established religion. Brethren, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not afraid of any sudden fear nor calamity when it cometh, for he who trusteth to the Lord, mercy shall compass him about, and he who is faithful to God and Christ shall hear it said at the last, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord." May the Lord bless this word for Christ's sake. MTP Vol 10 pgs. 322-326, 327-328
The following is a growing list (more to come) of brief Quotations from Spurgeon's complete 63-Volume sermon series. Further down, his refutation of Roman Catholicism is boldly faithful - declaring their church and ordinances as "RUBBISH." .
I question if hell can find a more fitting instrument within its infernal lake than the Church of Rome is for the cause of mischief. - MTP Vol 11 pg. 510. If your heart be not right with God, you shall perish with the sacramental bread in your mouth, and go from the baptismal waters to the fires of hell. Beware of the peace which is drawn from the stagnant pool of superstition. It will carry death into your soul. - MTP Vol 36 pg. 426.
I have seen, to my horror, a picture of God the Father represented as an old man, whereas the Lord has declared that we should make no image of him or represent him in any way. The attempt is blasphemous. (Exodus 20:4) - MTP Vol 55 pg. 526.
"Ignorance is the mother of devotion," according to the Church of Rome. "Ignorance is the mother of error," according to the Word of God. What we want our fellowmen to possess is spiritual knowledge. Especially do we desire that they may have knowledge with regard to God's righteousness, for men do not know what that righteousness is which God requires. - MTP Vol 37 pg. 387
Any church which puts in the place of justification by faith in Christ another method of salvation, is a harlot church. - MTP Vol 35 pg. 398 . The doctrine of Justification by Faith through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ is very much to my ministry what bread and salt are to the table. As often as the table is set, there are those necessary things. This is the very salt of the gospel. It is impossible to bring it forward too often. It is the soul-saving doctrine. It is the foundation-doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. - MTP Vol 61 pg. 565.
May this house be utterly consumed with fire before the day should come when here there should be given an uncertain sound about the ATONEMENT. This is not merely a doctrine of the church. It is the doctrine of the church. Leave this out, and you have no truth, no Saviour, no church. As Luther said of the doctrine of justification by faith, that it was the article of a standing or falling church, so we affirm of the atonement, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for the sins of men. - MTP Vol 61 pg. 455.
It is not possible that the man who denies the deity of Christ can be a Christian. He deliberately refuses the only way of excape from the escape from the wrath to come. I can understand a man getting to heaven as a Roman Catholic, notwithstanding all his errors, because he believes in the divinity of Christ and relies on the expiatory sacrifice of his death. But I cannot understand, nor do I believe, that any man will ever enter those pearly gates who, in doubting or discrediting the deity of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, renounces the sheet anchor of our most holy faith and dares to face his maker without a counselor, without an advocate, without a plea for mercy! It is time we said so, and spoke out plainly. This is no theme for trifling. - MTP Vol 19 pg. 104
Of all the dreams that ever deluded men, and probably of all blasphemies that ever were uttered, there has never been one which is more absurd, and which is more fruitful in all manner of mischief, than the idea that the Bishop of Rome can be the head of the church of Jesus Christ. No, these popes die, and how could the church live if its head were dead? The true Head ever lives, and the church ever lives in him. - MTP Vol 14 pg. 621.
Christ did not redeem his church with his blood that the pope might come in and steal away the glory. He never came from heaven to earth, and poured out his very heart that he might purchase his people, that a poor sinner, a mere man, should be set upon high to be admired by all the nations, and to call himself God's representative on earth. Christ has always been the Head of the church. - MTP Vol 60 pg. 592
"But some truths ought to be kept back from the people," you will say, "lest they should make an ill use thereof." That is Popish doctrine. It was upon that very theory that the priests kept back the Bible from the people. They did not give it to them lest they should misuse it. Besides all this, remember that men do read the Scriptures and think about these doctrines and often make mistakes about them. Who then, shall set them right if we who preach the Word hold our tongues about the matter? - MTP Vol 51 pg. 49
The mass is a mass of abominations, a mass of hell's own concocting, a crying insult against the Lord of glory. It is not to be spoken of in any terms but those of horror and destestation. Whenever I think of another sacrifice for sin being offered, by whomever it my be presented, I can only regard it as an infamous insult to the perfection of the Savior's work. - MTP Vol 12 pg. 561 . We do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called CHRISTMAS. First, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it. And second, because we find no scriptural warrant for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior. Consequently, its observance is a superstition. - MTP Vol 17 pg. 697
If I were a Roman Catholic, I should turn a heretic, in sheer desperation, because I would rather go to heaven than go to purgatory. - MTP Vol 18 pg. 57.
When the thief died on the cross, he had but just believed, and had never done a single good work. But where did he go? He ought to have gone to purgatory by rights if ever anybody did. But instead of that the Saviour said to him, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). Why? Because the ground of the man's admission into Paradise was perfect. - MTP Vol 12 pg. 562.
How can God's people go to purgatory? For if they go there at all, they go there for sins which God does not remember, and so he cannot give a reason for sending them there. Does God forgive and forget and yet punish? When you die you shall either go to heaven or to hell, and that immediately. Your state in either case will be fixed eternally without the possibility of change. This doctrine is the cornerstone of PROTESTANTISM. - MTP Vol 28 pg. 585.
What can there be about hell fire to change a man's heart? Surely the more the lost will suffer, the more they will hate God. When God sent plagues on the earth, men blasphemed his name (Revelation 16:8-9). Men do so now. Are they likely to turn at his rebuke then? Satan has been punished for these six thousand years - do you see any signs of repentance about him? Besides, if the gospel of Christ cannot save you, what can? If the wooings of Christ's wounds cannot make you love Christ, do you think the flames of hell will? - MTP Vol 12 pg. 177.
I heard of one, who said to the preacher, after he had been preaching the doctrine of everlasting punishment, "Sir, I believe that I shall go to hell for a season, and afterward get round to heaven." "Man," said the preacher, "even if what you say be true, when there is a straightforward road to heaven, what a fool you must be to want to go round by way of hell!" - MTP Vol 45 pg. 551
You cannot make a sinner into a saint by killing him. He who does not live as a saint here will never live as a saint hereafter. - MTP Vol 30 pg. 459
But, brethren, the text says, "baptizing them." They are to be taught, and afterwards they are to be baptized. I know not why it is that we yield to the superstitions of our Christian brethren, so much as to use the word baptize at all. It is not an English, but a Greek word. It has but one meaning, and cannot bear another. Throughout all the classics, without exception, it is not possible to translate it correctly, except with the idea of immersion; and believing this, and knowing this, if the translation is not complete, we will complete it this morning... "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." - MTP Vol 7 pg. 284
I do not think I should care to go on worshipping a Madonna even if she did wink. One cannot make much out of a wink. We want something more than that from the object of our adoration. - MTP Vol 40 pg. 505 . Galatians 2:20 - The Roman Catholic hangs the cross on his bosom; the true Christian carries the cross in his heart. And a cross inside the heart is one of the sweetest cures for a cross on the back. If you have a cross in your heart - Christ crucified in you - all the cross of this world's troubles will seem to you light enough, and you will easily be able to sustain it. - NPSP Vol 4 pg. 428-429 .
by C. H. SPURGEON . "Ask of me, and I shall give thee." [Psalms 2:8-9] Christ's Universal Kingdom, and How It Cometh
The power and grace of God will be conspicuously seen in the subjugation of this world to Christ: every heart shall know that it was wrought be the power of God in answer to the prayer of Christ and his church. I believe, brethren, that the length of time spent in the accomplishment of the divine plan has much of it been occupied with getting rid of those many forms of human power which have intruded into the place of the Spirit.
If you and I had been about in our Lord's day, and could have had everything managed to our hand, we should have converted Caesar straight away by argument or by oratory; we should then have converted all his legions by every means within our reach; and, I warrant you, with Caesar and his legions at our back we would have Christianised the world in no time: would we not? Yes, but that is not God's way at all, nor the right and effectual way to set up a spiritual kingdom.
Bribes and threats are alike unlawful, eloquence and carnal reasoning are out of court, the power of divine love is the one weapon for this campaign. Long ago the prophet wrote, "Not by might, nor by power, but by Spirit, saith the Lord." The fact is that such conversions as could be brought about by physical force, or by mere mental energy, or by the prestige of rank and pomp, are not conversions at all. The kingdom of Christ is not a kingdom of this world, else would his servants fight; it rests on a spiritual basis, and is to be advanced by spiritual means.
Yet Christ's servants gradually slipped down into the notion that his kingdom was of this world, and could be upheld by human power. A Roman emperor professed to be converted, using a deep policy to settle himself upon the throne; then Christianity became the State-patronized religion; it seemed that the world was Christianized, whereas, indeed, the church was heathenized. Hence sprang the monster of State-church, a conjunction ill-assorted, and fraught with untold ills. This incongruous thing is half human, half divine: as a theory it fascinates, as a fact it betrays; it promises to advance the truth, and is itself a negation of it.
Under its influences a system of religion was fashioned, which beyond all false religions, and beyond even Atheism itself, is the greatest hindrance to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Under its influence dark ages lowered over the world; men were not permitted to think; a Bible could scarcely be found, and a preacher of the gospel, if found, was put to death. That was the result of human power coming in with the sword in one hand and the gospel in the other, and developing its pride of ecclesiastical power into a triple crown, and Inquisition, and an infallible Pope. This parasite, this canker, this incubus of the church will be removed by the grace of God, and by his providence in due season. The kings of the earth who have loved this unchaste system will grow weary of it and destroy it. Read Revelation 17:16, and see how terrible her end will be. The death of the system will come from those who gave it life: the powers of earth created thy system, and they will in due time destroy it.
- from Christ's Universal Kingdom, and How It Cometh MTP Vol 26, Year 1880, pgs. 261-262, Psalms 2:8-9 . "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." - 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
Certain people are always talking about the "EARLY CHURCH," and very queer notions they seem to have of the aforesaid early church. Their early church was very different from anything we meet with in the Acts of the Apostles, for it was very particular in its architecture, millinery, and music. This "early church" could not worship at all unless it had a visible altar, with reredos and frontal, at which gentlemen in gorgeous attire of blue and scarlet and fine linen made postures many, and bowings not a few. The "early church," it seems, believed in baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, priestcraft, and sacramental efficacy. Well, that may be or may not be, but there was an earlier church which had no such notions, and it is for us to get right away from all such early churches to the earlier church or the earliest church, and there, I warrant you, you shall find no priestcraft, nor nonsense of sacramental efficacy; but simplicity, and truth, and the power of the Holy Ghost.
The early church so much admired by Anglicans was a degenerate vine, a field of wheat and tares, a mass leavened with antichristian error, in a word a baptised heathenism. After its own fashion, it set up again the many deities of the heathen, only calling them saints instead of gods, putting the Virgin into the place of Venus, and setting up Peter or Paul in the niches formerly occupied by Saturn or Mars. Our present "revived early church" is only Paganism with a border of crosses. We are resolved to return to the primitive church of which we read, "then they that gladly received the word were baptized, and they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine."
above from Additions to the Church MTP Vol 20, Year 1874, pg. 207, Acts 2:47
Once more, all religions that ever have been in the world of man's making teach that the gifts of God are to be purchased or merited. Draw a line, and you shall find the gospel on the one side teaches free grace, but the whole ruck of false religions, from Heathenism down through Mahomedanism to Popery, all demand a price for the promise of salvation. The Pharisee reckons that none can have it unless he shall wear a broad phylactery, and fast twice in the week. The heathen will swing with a hook in his back, or roll over and over for hundreds of miles or torture his body, or make great sacrifices at the altar of his idol. The Mahomedan has his pilgrimages and a host of meritorious prayers. As for the Papist, his religion is merit and payment from beginning to end, not only for the soul while it is yet in the body, but when it is departed; for by means of masses for the dead a tax is still exacted. Man would fain bargain with God, and make God's temple of mercy into an auction-mart, where each man bids as high as he can, and procures salvation if he can reach a certain figure: but here stands the open-handed gospel with all the treasures of infinite grace unlocked, and all the granaries of heaven with the doors taken off their hinges, and it cries, "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely;" it asks neither money nor price, nor anything of man, but magnifies the infinite grace of the all-bounteous Father, in that he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and reveals his grace to the undeserving.
above from Without Money and Without Price MTP Vol 20, Year 1874, pg. 137, Isaiah 55:1 .
"Essence of lies, and quintessence of blasphemy, as the religion of Rome IS... it nevertheless fascinates a certain order of Protestants, of whom we fear it may be truly said that 'they have received a strong delusion to believe a lie, that they may be damned.' Seeing that it is so, it becomes all who would preserve their fellow-immortals from destruction to be plain and earnest in their warnings. Not in a party-spirit, but for truth's sake, our Protestantism must protest perpetually. Dignitaries of the papal confederacy are just now very prominent in benevolent movements, and we may be sure that they have ends to serve other than those which strike the public eye. A priest lives only for his church; he may profess to have other objects, but this is a mere blind. Our ancient enemies have small belief in our common sense if they imagine that we shall ever be able to trust them, after having so often beheld the depths of Jesuitical cunning and duplicity. The sooner we let certain Archbishops and Cardinals know that we are aware of their designs, and will in nothing co-operate with them, the better for us and our country. Of course, we shall be howled at as bigots, but we can afford to smile at that cry, when it comes from the church which invented the Inquisition. 'No peace with Rome' is the motto of reason as well as of religion." [The Sword and the Trowel January 1873]
A Sermon by C. H. SPURGEON
"There is much rubbish..." - Nehemiah 4:10 - Excerpted from MTP Vol 20 Year 1874, pgs. 74-77, 79-84
The great work comprised in the building up of the church... Now, this enterprise is the work of God. He alone can build the church. "When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory," and we may build as we may, but "except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it." Still, our full and firm conviction that it is God's working does not at all interfere with the grand truth that he employs agents for the building up of his church in the world; that, in fact he has commissioned us, his chosen servants, and and sent us into the world, each one according to our ability and opportunity, to labour for him. We work because God works by us. We are hindered, however, in this service by the fact that there is much rubbish in the way. It always was so.
When Paul began to build for God, and the apostles went forth as wise master-builders, there lay before them in towering heaps the old Jewish rubbish, hard to remove, heavy to bear away, and in quantity equal to a huge hill. The foundation was there; thank God we have not to lay that; that is laid in Christ Jesus, and firmly laid, and "other foundation can no man lay;" but the Jews, with their traditions, had overlaid the foundations; they had added to the word of God, they had put glosses upon it, they had taken away its real meaning, and put to it a meaning of their own. They had invented rites and ceremonies innumerable, and traditions of the fathers dark and mysterious, so that though a man should seek to find out the truth, he could not by reason of the abundance of the confused material and traditional superstition with which they had covered it up.
The apostles had to begin their gospel labour amongst their fellow-countrymen in the midst of this much rubbish. No sooner did they begin to remove the worthless deposits than the lovers of tradition assailed them, raised a great dust, and became their violent persecutors, following them from city to city, scandalising them, and committing all manner of violence against them. You cannot remove ruins without arousing the owls and bats. The most rotten rubbish upon earth is sure to find some defender. By this rubbish many have gained their wealth, and they are full of wrath if any threaten to disturb it. The apostles soon found that they had fallen upon troublous times, yet by God's help they cleared away that rubbish, and were enabled to build their wall, till the New Jerusalem became famous in the earth.
They encountered in the wider world of the Roman empire the rubbish of old paganism; and oh, what rubbish that way! He who is acquainted with the classic writers knows how polluted were the people of their times. Their satirists ascribe to them mirthfully vices which even with tears we would not dare to mention. The superstitions of the age were grovelling to a hideous degree; their very gods were monsters of crime, and their sacred rites orgies of lust and drunkenness. The priests had successfully endeavoured to make vice into a religion, and under the pretence of mysterious worship had devised means for pandering to the basest passions of the most corrupt human nature.
It is no small mass of rubbish which the student of today sifts over as he makes researches into the Greek and Roman mythology. Men could not find out God, for gods many and lords many stood in the way. Neither could they believe in the simplicity of Jesus Christ, because their foolish heart was darkened. "God made man upright, but he hath found out many inventions;" and all these inventions helped to turn him from his uprightness, and to pervert his judgment. Yet those who went before us laboured on amidst that foul and noisome rubbish, and were so successful in their earnest, excavations, that at this day no one thinks of worshipping Jupiter, or Saturn, or Venus, or Mercury; these demon-deities have gone to the limbo from whence they came. They have been smitten - smitten by the gospel, and they have withered like grass, so that no man boweth himself before them anymore. The God of truth has come, and these bats and owls of the night have betaken themselves into obscurity and oblivion. This rubbish was cleared away, and the foundations were built upon by earnest men that went before us, though they had to lay each stone in martyr blood, and cement it with agonies and tears.
Moreover, remember that in those early days the church in her building had to encounter the very much rubbish of the various philosophies of mankind. There was a kind of "feeling after God" in the heathen mind; but this feeling after God was misdirected and proudly self-confident, and therefore it missed its way, and in the process of thought the more spiritual-minded amongst men (if I may venture to call men spiritual at all who were not renewed by grace) invented theories and imaginings, which they thought to be exceeding wise but which in fact were folly itself dressed out in the robes of vainglory. These philosophies had a great following, and exercised so subtle and powerful an influence that they were felt even in the church itself. In the writings of the apostles Paul and John you continually meet with allusions to the great Gnostic philosophy which perverted so many Christians. Ever since that day human wisdom has been a greater curse to the church than anything else.
The ignorance of Christians has never been so evil a thing, bad as it is, as the vain knowledge, the false wisdom, with which men have been puffed up in their fleshly minds. It is an ill day when men know too much to know Christ. It is a great misfortune when men are too manly to be converted and to become as little children, and sit at the feet of the great Teacher: yet there are many professors of religion who talk as if this was their condition, and as if they were proud of it. Even at this present time the outside philosophies of unchristian men infect the church, spoil her, injure her, dilute the wine of the kingdom, overturn the children's milk, and to a great extent poison the bread of life. Sad that it should be so, but the rubbish of philosophy has always been in the way of the building up of the wall of the church of God, and the story of the apostolical age may serve as a great comfort to us in these evil times. As they were hindered so are we, but as they persevered and overcame even so will we, by out great Master's aid.
After that lot of rubbish had been cleared away, the task was only begun, for soon after apostolic times, and first zeal of Christians had gone, there came the old ROMAN rubbish, which in the end proved a worse hindrance than all which had preceeded it. This Popish rubbish was found in layers - first one doctrinal error, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then another, till at this time the errors of the Church of Rome are as countless as the stars, as black as midnight, and as foul as hell. Her abominations reek in the nostrils of all good men. Her idolatries are the scorn of reason and the abhorrence of faith. The iniquities of her practice, and the enormities of her doctrine, almost surpass belief.
Popery is as much the masterpiece of Satan as the gospel is the masterpiece of God. There can scarcely be imagined anything of devilish craftiness or Satanic wickedness which could be compared with her, she is unparalleled, the queen of iniquity. Behold upon her forehead the name, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. The church of Rome and her teachings are a vast mountain of rubbish covering the truth.
For weary years good men could not get at the foundation because of this very much rubbish. Here and there a Wycliffe spied out the precious cornerstone, and leaped for joy because he could get his foot upon it, and say, "Jesus Christ himself, elect and precious, is the stone on which I build my hope." Here and there a John Huss, or a Jerome of Prague, or a Savonarola, in the thick midnight, yet nevertheless found out the foundation, and wept their very hearts out because of the much rubbish which threatened to bury even them while they were seeking the foundation.
A master excavator was MARTIN LUTHER; how grandly he laid bare the glorious foundation of justification by faith alone! An equally grand worker at this great enterprise was Master JOHN CALVIN, who laid open long stretches of the ancient foundations of the covenant of grace. Well was he supported by his brother of Zurich, Zwingle, and John Knox in Scotland, and others in this land. They cleared away for a while some of the rubbish, but there was such a mass of it that they had to throw it up in heaps on either side, and it is beginning to come crumbling down again on to the foundation, and to cover it up once more. A perfect reformation they could not work, and the remnant of the rubbish is now our plague and hindrance. Everywhere the much rubbish is being diligently cast upon the wall by the emissaries of the evil one, and we can scarcely get to the foundations to build thereon the gold and silver and precious stones which God commits to us with which to build up his own house.
Alas, there is very, very much rubbish. I saw in Rome that the waggons which took away the earth from the Forum were marked "Regia Scava." They belonged to the royal excavations; and I long to see royal excavators, employed by the King of Kings, get to work to excavate again the foundations of the wall of Jerusalem, and cart away some of the tremendous heaps of rubbish that still lie upon the walls. God grant we may see good and great work done in this direction before long.
But, beloved friends, if all this rabbinical, and pagan, and philosophical, and Roman rubbish were all gone, still the work would scarcely have begun, for there is yet very much rubbish of other kinds lying hereabout. There is much rubbish arising from the world, the flesh, and the devil, so that we are not able to build the wall. Look at human sin, how that impedes us! Oh, if there were no false systems of religion, if priest and scribe were silent, if false prophet and Antichrist were both out of the way, yet the sins of men are a vast and hideous mass of rotten rubbish, and our labours of love are hindered thereby. How hard it is to get at human ears, for the world has the first word, and often the last word, with the most of men. Eargate is choked with rubbish.
How harder still it is to get at human hearts, for there Satan reigns as in his own palace, and takes care to erect huge barricades and earthworks of the rubbish of carnal lust and pride and unbelief. Men are wrapped up in indifference to eternal things, like mummies in their bands and gums. They give all their energy to the answering of the question "What shall we eat and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" Immortal as they are, they live only for mortality. Though their grandest destiny lies in eternity, yet all their efforts are bounded by the narrow space of time. Charm, O thou charmer, never so wisely, but this adder hath no ear for thee. This people, bent on its lusts, will still follow its own devices. Though Christ beckon with his pierced hand, yet turn they their back on him; and even he from Calvary cries -
"Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by, Is it nothing to you that Jesus should die?
He is despised and rejected of men; they see no form nor comeliness in him whose countenance contains within itself all celestial beauty. They cannot be got at by love or law, by tears or terrors, by prayers or preachings; they are so absorbed in earthly things. We cannot build the wall for their much rubbish. They are wedded to their sins; they cling to their idols; they will not even think upon their soul, and their God, and their Saviour; they choose their own delusions and reject their own mercies, and it seems as if everything in the world helped them this way, for the business of life, the care and the ease, the quiet and the noise, the tumult and the turmoil thereof alike ensnare them; all these things are transformed by their alienated hearts into a mass of rubbish. With one man it is the pursuit, the arduous pursuit of learning, with another an intense greed for gold, with a third ambition, with a fourth the lust of pleasure; but in each man the heap of rubbish prevents out getting at the heart. We cannot build the wall.
Who among us has not often gone back to his God, and said, "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" And this age of competition seems to make the thing worse than ever. Some are so poor that they tell us they cannot listen, for they have to work and toil like slaves for their bread merely to keep body and soul together; and as for those who are rich - O God, help the rich! Still is it true, and perhaps truer now than ever, that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God;" for the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are a mass of rubbish, so that we cannot build the wall.
Oh, how sad is the retrospect of the pastor as he remembers the many in whom he could never reach the conscience, because of the intervening rubbish, and how mournful is the prospect that lies before him! Our only consolation is that, if we cannot build, there is One who can; and if the rubbish be so much that the strength of the bearers there is an arm which is not weary, and can perform all that is needed.
There is very much rubbish about, brethren; and therefore for the present distress, if every Christian minister were to keep to preaching Christ and him crucified, and nothing else, I think he would do well; and if every Christian man were to just keep to the plain truths of Scripture, and have them worked into his own soul by the Holy Spirit, and then speak them out with power, and live for soul-winning, and care for nothing else, he would do well.
But there is very much rubbish. Oh, the rubbish of pride, of unbelief, of evil lustings, of anger, of despondency, of self-exaltation! Brethren, it is not worth while to stir it, it is such a foul heap! I have no desire to turn cinder-sifter to it, for there is never a jewel in it that will pay for the sifting; but there it is, and the building of grace does not advance as we could wish, because of the corruption which still abideth in us, notwithstanding all that some may say.
But there are some others who have had choice seasons of fellowship with Christ, and they have been for awhile free from temptation, and there has been no great unbreaking of the great deep of corruption within them; and therefore they say, "Ah, now I am getting on: I think, somehow, I am getting up to the higher life. I should not wonder that I should be perfect one of these days." Rubbish, brother! It is all rubbish, every bit of it, it is not worthy harbouring for an instant. It may be very glittering rubbish, it looks amazing like gold, but "all is not gold that glitters." Any notion of our own attainments which could lead us for a moment to speak of what we are with any degree of complacency is only rubbish. For my own part, I desire constantly to stand at the foot of the cross, with no other testimony concerning myself than this -
"I the chief of sinners am, But Jesus died for me."
Personal holiness is to be sought for with all our hearts, and it can only be obtained by faith in Jesus Christ - by simple faith in him. He gives us power to overcome sin through his precious blood. Christ is made of God unto you "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;" in him be all your glorying, and in him alone, for if not so, the rubbish will cover up the foundation. "I know whom I have believed." None but Jesus, none but Jesus. There rests our souls' only hope, upon his precious blood and righteousness; every other hope we heartily abhor. Well, the foundation is laid. Blessed be God for that! When a man is brought to rest alone in Jesus, then there is laid for him in Zion a sure foundation-stone, and to that he is cemented by sovereign grace.
Now, let us thank God again that the building up of his temple in us is his own work. He began it. He digged out and made clear to us our own emptiness. He cast out our self-righteousness, and he laid Christ where our self had once been. The Lord did that, and he has done everything else which has been done in us that has been worth the doing. I cannot, I am sure no brother here can, look upon any step he has ever taken as a real advance in divine life, which was taken in any strength but in the strength of God. Whatever we have done of ourselves had been much better undone, for all that nature spins will have to be unravelled sooner or later. "Salvation is of the Lord." Jonah learned that in the whale's belly. It was worth while getting into the whale's belly to learn. We want to know it through and through. Salvation is of the Lord alone, and unto him must be all the praise. And there is our comfort. It is his work to save us; we are not our own saviours, partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. It is the Bridegroom, not the bride, that is to make the bride fit for her husband. So says the scripture. "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." It is he that presents the bride to himself, and he that makes her fit to be presented. Blessed by God, the work is in sure and competent hands.
Look that ye be built on on the foundation. That is the last and yet the first question. Are you on the foundation? Some build very rapidly, but they are not on the foundation. Yes, you have a fine character and you make a noble profession, but is the palatial structure based on the rocky foundation, or on the sand? Our little children at the seaside will build very fine castles with their wooden spades, but the next tide sweeps all away, because it is sand built on sand. I am afraid the religion of multitudes is just that - sand built on sand. Is that your religion, dear hearer? Does it consist of church-goings, or chapel-goings, and prayer-meetings, and sacrament-takings, and all that? Well, then, it is sand built on sand. But if you are a poor and needy sinner, and you have rested your soul on Jesus, and then, renewed in heart by his Spirit, have been zealous for good works, then is it no longer sand built on sand, but the work of the Spirit of God upon the one foundation which God laid from all eternity, in the person and the work of his only-begotten Son.
The Lord bless you, every one of you, for Jesu's sake! Amen.
Author: C. H. Spurgeon