“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” —
Matthew 5:9.

THIS is the seventh of the beatitudes. There is a mystery always connected
with the number seven. It was the number of perfection among the
Hebrews, and it seemeth as if the Savior had put the peacemaker there, as
if he was nearly approaching to the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who
would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must
labor to attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker.
There is a significance also in the position of the text, if you regard the
context. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of “the pure
in heart, for they shall see God.” It is well that we should understand this.
We are to be “first pure, then peaceable.” Our peaceableness is never to be
a compact with sin, or an alliance with that which is evil. We must set our
faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and his
holiness. That being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to
peaceableness towards men. Not less does the verse that follows my text
seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in
this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood and no
marvel, for even the Prince of peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire
upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was
“despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow a and acquainted with
grief.” Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when
they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, “Blessed are
they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the
kingdom of heaven.” Thus the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be
blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace
to climb to this seventh beatitude! Purify our minds that we may be “first
pure, then peaceable,” and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may
not lead us into surprise and despair, when for thy sake we are persecuted
among men.

Now let us endeavor to enter into the meaning of our text. Thus would we
handle it this morning, as God shall help us. First, let us describe the
peacemaker; secondly let us proclaim his blessedness; thirdly, let us set
him to work; and then, fourthly, let the preacher become a peacemaker

I. First, LET US DESCRIBE THE PEACEMAKER. The peacemaker, while
distinguished by his character, has the outward position and condition of
other men. He stands in all relations of life just as other men do.
Thus the peacemaker is a citizen, and though he be a Christian, he
remembers that Christianity does not require him to forego his citizenship,
but to use and to improve it for Christ’s glory. The peacemaker, then, as a
citizen, loveth peace. If he liveth in this land, he knows that he lives among
a people who are very sensitive of their honor, and are speedily and easily
provoked — a people who are so pugilistic in their character that the very
mention of war stirs their blood, and they feel as if they would go at it at
once with all their force. The peacemaker remembereth the war with
Russia, and he recollecteth what fools we were that we should have
meddled there, to bring to ourselves great losses both in trade and money,
and no advantage whatever that is perceptible. He knoweth that this nation
hath often been drifted into war for political purposes, and that usually the
pressure and burden of it cometh upon the poor working man, upon such
as have to earn their living by the sweat of their face. Therefore, though he,
like other men feeleth hot blood, and being an Englishman born, feeleth the
blood of the old sea kings often in his veins, yet he represseth it and saith
to himself, “I must not strive, for the servant of God must be gentle to all
men, apt to teach, patient.” So he putteth his back against the current, and
when he heareth everywhere the noise of war, and seeth many that are hot
for it, he doth his best to administer a cooling draught, and he saith, “Be
patient, let it alone, if the thing be an evil, yet war is worse than any other
evil. There was never a bad peace yet, and never a good war,” saith he,
“and whatever loss we may sustain by being too quiet, we shall certainly
lose a hundred times as much by being too fierce.” And then in the present
ease he thinketh how ill it would be for two Christian nations to go to war

— two nations sprung of the same blood, — two countries which really
have a closer relation than any other two countries upon the face of the
earth, — rivals in their liberal institutions, — coadjutors in propagating the
gospel of Christ, — two nations that have within their midst more of the
elect of God and more of the true followers of Christ than any other
nations under heaven. Yea, he thinketh within himself, it were ill that the
bones of our sons and daughters should go again to make manure for our
fields, as they have done. He remembereth that the farmers of Yorkshire
brought home the mould from Waterloo with which to manure their own
fields — the blood and bones of their own sons and daughters, and he
thinketh it not meet that the prairies of America should be enriched with
the blood and bones of his children, and on the other hand he thinketh that
he would not smite another man but would sooner be smitten of him, and
that blood would be to him an awful sight. So he saith, “What I would not
do myself, I would not have others do for me and if I would not be a killer,
neither would I have others killed for me.” He walketh in vision over a
field of battle, he heareth the shrieks of the dying and the groans of the
wounded, he knows that even conquerors themselves have said that all the
enthusiasm of victory has not been able to remove the horror of the
dreadful scene after the fight, and so he saith, “Nay, peace, peace!” If he
have any influence in the commonwealth, if he be a member of the House
of Parliament, if he be a writer in a newspaper, or if he speak from the
platform, he saith, “Let us look well to it ere we hurry into this strife. We
must preserve our country’s honor; we must maintain our right to entertain
those who flee from their oppressors, we must maintain that England shall
ever be the safe home of every rebel who flies from his king, a place from
which the oppressed shall never be dragged by force of alms; yet still,” he
saith, “cannot this be, and yet no blood?” And he biddeth the law officers
look well to it and see if they cannot find that peradventure there may have
been an oversight committed, which may be pardoned and condoned
without the shedding of blood, without the plucking of the sword from its
scabbard. Well, he saith of war that it is a monster, that at its best it is a
fiend, that of all scourges it is the worst; and he looketh upon soldiers as
the red twigs of the bloody rod, and he beggeth God not to smite a guilty
nation thus, but to put up the sword awhile, that we be not cast into
trouble, overwhelmed with sorrow, and exposed to cruelty, which may
bring thousands to the grave, and multitudes to poverty. Thus the
peacemaker acteth, and he feels that while he does so, his conscience

justifies him, and he is blessed, and men shall one day acknowledge that he
was one of the children of God.

But the peacemaker is not only a citizen, but a man, and if sometimes he
letteth general politics alone, yet as a man he thinks that the politics of his
own person must always be those of peace. There, if his honor be stained,
he standeth not up for it: he counteth that it were a greater stain to his
honor for him to be angry with his fellow than for him to bear an insult. He
heareth others say, “If you tread upon a worm it will turn,” but he saith, “I
am not a worm, but a Christian, and therefore I do not turn except to bless
the hand that smites, and to pray for those that despitefully use me.” He
hath his temper, for the peacemaker can be angry, and woe to the man who
cannot be, he is like Jacob halting on his thigh, for anger is one of the holy
feet of the soul, when it goeth in the right direction; but while he can be
angry, he learneth to “be angry and sin not,” and “he suffereth not the sun
to go down upon his wrath.” When he is at home, the peacemaker seeketh
to be quiet with his servants and with his household, he putteth up with
many things sooner than he will speak one uncomely word, and if he
rebuketh, it is ever with gentleness, saying, “Why do ye this? — why do ye
this!” — not with the severity of a judge, but with the tenderness of a
father. The peacemaker may learn a lesson perhaps, from a story which I
met with last week in reading the life of Mr. John Wesley. Going across in
a ship to America with Mr. Oglethorpe, who was to be the governor of
Savannah, he one day heard a great noise in the governor’s cabin. So Mr.
Wesley went there, and the governor said, “I dare say you want to know
what this noise is about, sir, I have good occasion for it. You know, sir,”
said he, “that the only wine I drink is Cyprus wine, and it is necessary for
me; I put it on board, and this rascal, my servant, this Grimaldi, has
drunken all of it; I will have him beaten on the deck, and the first ship of
war that comes by, he shall be taken by press, and enlisted in His Majesty’s
service, and a hard time he shall have of it, for I will let him know that I
never forgive.” “Your honor,” said Mr. Wesley, “then I hope you never
sin.” The rebuke was so well put, so pointed, and so needed, that the
governor replied in a moment, “Alas, sir, I do sin, and I have sinned in
what I have said; for your sake he shall be forgiven; I trust he will not do
the like again.” So the peacemaker always thinketh that it is best for him,
as he is a sinner himself, and responsible to his own Master, not to be too
hard a master on his servants, lest when he is provoking them he may be
also provoking his God.

The peacemaker goes abroad also, and when he is in company he
sometimes meets with slurs, and even with insults, but he learns to bear
these, for he remembereth that Christ endured much contradiction of
sinners against himself. Holy Cotton Mather, a great Puritan divine, of
America, had received a number of anonymous letters, in which he was
greatly abused; having read them and preserved them, he put a piece of
paper round them, and wrote upon the paper when he put them on a shelf,
“Libels; — Father forgive them!” So doth the peacemaker do. He saith of
all these things, “They be libels, — Father, forgive them!” and he doth not
rush to defend himself, knowing that he whom he serves will take care that
his good name will be preserved, if only he himself be careful how he
walketh among men. He goes into business, and it sometimes happens to
the peacemaker, that circumstances occur in which he is greatly tempted to
go to law; but he never doth this, unless he be straitly compelled to it, for
he knoweth that law work is playing with edged tools, and that they who
know how to use the tools yet cut their own fingers. The peacemaker
remembereth that the law is most profitable to those who carry it on, he
knows too, that where men will give sixpence to the ministry for the good
of their souls, and where they pay a guinea to their physician for the good
of their bodies, they will spend a hundred pounds, or five hundred as a
refresher to their counsel in the Court of Chancery. So he saith, “Nay
better that I be wronged by my adversary, and he get some advantage, than
that both of us should lose our all.” So he letteth some of these things go
by, and he findeth that on the whole, he is none the loser by sometimes
giving up his rights. There be times when he is constrained to defend
himself, but even then he is ready for every compromise, willing to give
way at any time and at any season. He has learned the old adage, that “an
ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” and so he taketh heed
to it, to agree with his adversary quickly while he is yet in the way, letting
strife alone ere it be meddled with, or when it be meddled with, seeking to
end it as quickly as may be, as in the sight of God.

And then the peacemaker is a neighbor and though he never seeketh to
meddle with his neighbor’s disputes, more especially if it be a dispute
between his neighbor and his wife, for well he knoweth that if they two
disagree, yet they will both agree very soon to disagree with him, if he
meddleth between them; if he be called in when there is a dispute between
two neighbors, he never exciteth them to animosity, but he saith to them,
“Ye do not well, my brethren; wherefore strive ye with one another? “And
though he taketh not the wrong side, but seeketh ever to do justice, yet he
tempereth ever his justice with mercy, and saith unto the one who is
wronged, “Canst not thou have the nobility to forgive?” And he sometimes
putteth himself between the two, when they are very angry, and taketh the
blows from both sides, for he knows that so Jesus did, who took the blows
from his Father and from us also, that so by suffering in our stead, peace
might be made between God and man. Thus the peacemaker acts whenever
he is called to do his good offices, and more especially if his station
enableth him to do it with authority. He endeavoreth, if he sits upon the
judgment seat, not to bring a case to a trial, if it can be arranged otherwise.
If he be a minister and there be a difference among his people, he entereth
not into the details, for well he knoweth that there is much idle little-tattle,
but he saith, “Peace” to the billows, and “Hush” to the Winds, and so he
biddeth men live. They have so little while, he thinketh to dwell together,
that it were meet they should live in harmony. And so he saith, “How good
and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
But once again, the peacemaker hath it for his highest title, that he is a
Christian. Being a Christian, he unites himself with some Christian Church;
and here, as a peacemaker, he is as an angel of God. Even among Churches
there be those that are bowed down with infirmities, and these infirmities
cause Christian men and Christian women to differ at times. So the
peacemaker saith, “This is unseemly, my brother; let us be at peace;” and
he remembereth what Paul saith, “I beseech Euodias, and I beseech
Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord;” and he thinketh that
if these two were thus besought by Paul to be of the same mind, unity must
be a blessed thing, and he laboreth for it. And sometimes the peacemaker,
when he sees differences likely to arise between his denomination and
others, turneth to the history of Abram, and he reads how the herdsman of
Abram did strive with the herdsman of Lot, and he noteth that in the same
verse it is said, “And the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled in the land.”
So he thinketh it was a shame that where there were Perizzites to look on,
followers of the true God should disagree. He saith to Christians, “Do not
this, for we make the devil sport; we dishonor God; we damage our own
cause; we ruin the souls of men;” and he saith, “Put up your swords into
your scabbards; be at peace, and fight not one with another.” They who be
not peacemakers, when received into a Church, will fight upon the smallest
crotchet; will differ about the minutest point, and we have known Churches
rent in pieces, and schisms committed in Christian bodies through things so
foolish, that a wise man could not perceive the occasion; things so
ridiculous, that a reasonable man must have overlooked them. The
peacemaker saith, “Follow peace with all men.” Specially he prayeth that
the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of peace, might rest upon the Church at
all times, binding believers together in one, that they being one in Christ,
the world may know that the Father hath sent his Son into the world,
heralded as his mission was with an angelic song — “Glory to God in the
highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Now, I trust in the description which I have given of the peacemaker, I
may have described some of you, but I fear the most of us would have to
say, “Well, in many things I come short.” However, this much I would add.
If there be two Christian men here present, who are at variance with each
other, I would be a peacemaker, and bid them be peacemakers too. Two
Spartans had quarreled with each other, and the Spartan king, Aris, bade
them both meet him in a temple. When they were both there he heard their
differences, and he said to the priest, “Lock the doors of the temple, these
two shall never go forth till they be at one,” and there, within the temple,
he said, “It is unmeet to differ.” So they compounded at once their
differences and went away. If this was done in an idol temple, much more
let it be done in the house of God, and if the Spartan heathen did this,
much more let the Christian, the believer in Christ do it. This very day, put
aside from you all bitterness and all malice, and say one to another, “If in
aught thou hast offended me, it is forgiven, and if in aught I have offended
thee, I confess my error, let the breach be healed, and as the children of
God, let us be in union with one another.” Blessed are they who can do
this, for “blessed are the peacemakers!”

II. Having thus described the peacemaker, I shall go on to DECLARE HIS
BLESSEDNESS. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the
children of God.” A three-fold commendation is implied.
First, he is blessed; that is, God blesseth him, and I wot that he whom God
blesseth is blessed; and he whom God curseth, is cursed. God blesseth him
from the highest heavens, God blesseth him in a god-like manner; God
blesseth him with the abundant blessings which are treasured up in Christ.
And while he is blessed of God, the blessedness is diffused through his own
soul. His conscience beareth witness that as in the sight of God through the
Holy Spirit, he hath sought to honor Christ among men. More especially is
he most blessed when he has been most assailed with curses; for then the
assurance greets him, “So persecuted they the prophets that were before
you.” And whereas he has a command to rejoice at all times, yet he finds a
special command to be exceedingly glad when he is ill-treated. Therefore,
he taketh it well, if for well-doing he be called to suffer, and he rejoiceth
thus to bear a part of the Savior’s cross. He goes to his bed, no dreams of
enmity disturb his sleep, he riseth and goeth to his business, and he feareth
not the face of any man, for he can say, “I have not in my heart anything
but friendship towards all,” or if he be attacked with slander, and his
enemies have forged a lie against him, he can nevertheless say, —

“He that forged, and he that threw the dart,
Has each a brother’s interest in my heart.”

Loving all, he is thus peaceful in his own soul, and he is blessed as one that
inherits the blessing of the Most High.

And not infrequently it cometh to pass that he is even blessed by the
wicked; for though they would withhold a good word from him, they
cannot. Overcoming evil with good, he heapeth coals of fire upon their
heads, and melteth the coldness of their enmity, till even they say, “He is a
good man.” And when he dieth, those whom he hath made at peace with
one another, say over his tomb, “‘Twere well if the world should see many
of his like, there were not half the strife, nor half the sin in it, if there were
many like to him.”

Secondly, you will observe that the text not only says he is blessed, but it
adds, that he is one of the children of God. This he is by adoption and
grace, but peacemaking is a sweet evidence of the work of the peaceful
Spirit within. As the child of God, moreover, he hath a likeness to his
Father who is in heaven. God is peaceful, longsuffering, and tender, full of
lovingkindness, pity, and compassion. So is this peacemaker. Being like to
God, he beareth his Father’s image. Thus doth he testify to men that he is
one of God’s children. As one of God’s children, the peacemaker hath
access to his Father. He goeth to him with confidence, saying, “Our Father
which art in heaven,” which he dare not say unless he could plead with a
clear conscience, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” He
feels the tie of brotherhood with man, and therefore he feels that he may
rejoice in the Fatherhood of God. He cometh with confidence and with
intense delight to his Father who is in heaven, for he is one of the children
of the Highest, who doeth good both to the unthankful and to the evil.

And still, there is a third word of commendation in the text. “They shall be
called the children of God.” They not only are so, but they shall be called
so. That is, even their enemies shall call them so, even the world shall say,
“Ah! that man is a child of God.” Perhaps, beloved, there is nothing that so
strikes the ungodly as the peaceful behavior of a Christian under insult.
There was a soldier in India, a big fellow, who had been, before he enlisted,
a prizefighter, and afterwards had performed many deeds of valor. When
he had been converted through the preaching of a missionary all his
messmates made a laughingstock of him. They counted it impossible that
such a man as he had been should become a peaceful Christian. So one day
when they were at mess, one of them wantonly threw into his face and
bosom a whole basonful of scalding soup. The poor man tore his clothes
open, to wipe away the scalding liquid and yet self-possessed amidst his
excitement, he said, “I am a Christian, I must expect this,” and smiled at
them. The one who did it said, “If I had thought you would have taken it in
that way, I would never have done it; I am very sorry I ever did so.” His
patience rebuked their malice, and they all said he was a Christian, Thus he
was called a child of God. They saw in him all evidence that was to them
the more striking, because they knew that they could not have done the
same. When Mr. Kilpin, of Exeter, was one day walking along the streets,
an evil man pushed him from the pavement into the kennel, and as he fell
into the kennel, the man said, “Lay there, John Bunyan, that is good
enough for you.” Mr. Kilpin got up and went on his way, and when
afterwards this man wanted to know how he took the insult, he was
surprised that all Mr. Kilpin said was, that he had done him more honor
than dishonor, for he thought that being called John Bunyan was worth
being rolled in the kennel a thousand times. Then he who had done this
said that he was a good man. So that they who are peacemakers are “called
the children of God.” They demonstrate to the world in such a way, that
the very blind must see and the very deaf must hear that God is in them of
a truth. O that we had grace enough to will this blessed commendation! If
God hath brought thee far enough, my hearer, to hunger and thirst after
righteousness, I pray thee never cease thy hunger till he has brought thee
so far as to be a peacemaker, that thou mayest be called a child of God.

III. But now, in the third place, I am to try and GET THE PEACEMAKER TO

Ye have much work to do I doubt not, in your own households and your
own circles of acquaintance. Go and do it. You remember well that text in
Job — “Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt? or is there any
taste in the white of an egg?” — by which Job would have us know, that
unsavory things must have something else with them, or else they will not
well be pleasant for food. Now, our religion is an unsavory thing to men:
we must put salt with it, and this salt must be our quietness and peacemaking
disposition. Then they who would have eschewed our religion
alone, will say of it, when they see the salt with it, “This is good,” and they
will find some relish in this “white of an egg.” If you would commend your
godliness to the sons of men, in your own houses make clear and clean
work, purging out the old leaven, that ye may offer sacrifices to God of a
godly and heavenly sort. If ye have any strifes among you, or any divisions,
I pray you, even as God, for Christ’s sake, forgave you, so also do ye. By
the bloody sweat of him who prayed for you, and by the agonies of him
who died for you, and in dying said, “Father, forgive them, for they know
not what they do,” forgive your enemies, “pray for them that despitefully
use you, and bless them that curse you.” Let it be always said of you, as a
Christian, “That man is meek and lowly in heart, and would sooner bear
injury himself than cause an injury to another.”

But the chief work I want to set you about is this, Jesus Christ was the
greatest of all peacemakers. “He is our Peace.” He came to make peace
with Jew and Gentile, “for he hath made both one, and hath broken down
the middle war of partition between us.” He came to make peace between
all striving nationalities, for we are “no more Greek, barbarian, Scythian,
bond nor free, but Christ is all in all.” He came to make peace between his
Father’s justice and our offending souls, and he hath made peace for us
through the blood of his cross. Now, ye who are the sons of peace,
endeavor as instruments in his hands to make peace between God and men.
For your children’s soul, let your earnest prayers go up to heaven. For the
souls of all your acquaintance and kinsfolk let your supplications never
cease. Pray for the salvation of your perishing fellow creatures. Thus will
you be peacemakers. And when you have prayed, use all the means within
your power. Preach, if God has given you the ability, preach with the Holy
Ghost sent down from heaven — the reconciling word of life. Teach, if you
cannot preach. Teach the Word. “Be instant in season and out of season.”
“Sow beside all waters;” for the gospel “speaketh better things than the
blood of Abel,” and crieth peace to the sons of men. Write to your friends
of Christ and if you cannot speak much, speak a little for him. But oh!
make it the object of your life to win others for Christ. Never be satisfied
with going to heaven alone. Ask the Lord that you may be the spiritual
father of many children, and that God may bless you to the ingathering of
much of the Redeemer’s harvest. I thank God that there are so many
among you who are alive to the love of souls. It makes my heart glad to
hear of conversions and to receive the converts, but I feel most glad when
many of you, converted by my own instrumentality, under God, are made
the means of the conversion of others. There be brethren and sisters here,
who bring me constantly those who have been brought first to this house
by them, over whom they watched and prayed, and at last have brought
them to the minister, that he may hear their confession of faith. Blessed are
such peacemakers! Ye have “saved a soul from death, and hidden a
multitude of sins.” “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the
stars for ever and ever.” They, indeed, in heaven itself “shall be called the
children of God.” The genealogy of that book, in which the names of all
the Lord’s people are written, shall record that through God the Holy
Ghost they have brought souls into the bond of peace through Jesus Christ.

IV. The minister has now, in the last place, TO PRACTICE HIS OWN TEXT,

I speak to many a score of persons this morning who know nothing of
peace; for “there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” “The wicked is
like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and
dirt.” I speak not to you with any desire of making a false peace with your
souls. Woe to the prophets who say, “Peace, peace, when there is no
peace!” Rather let me, first of all, that we may make sound work in this
matter, expose the peaceless, the warring state of your soul.
O soul! thou art this morning at war with thy conscience. Thou hast tried
to quiet it, but it will prick thee. Thou hast shut up this recorder of the
town of Mansoul in a dark place, and thou hast built a wall before his door,
but still, when his fits are on him, thy conscience will thunder at thee and
say, “This is not right; this is the path that leadeth unto hell, this is the road
of destruction.” Oh! there be some of you to whom conscience is as a
ghost, haunting you by day and night. Ye know the good, though ye
choose the evil, ye prick your fingers with the thorns of conscience when
ye try to pluck the rose of sin. To you the downward path is not an easy
one; it is hedged up and ditched up, and there be many bars and gates and
chains on the road but ye climb over them, determined to ruin your own
souls. Oh! there is war between you and conscience. Conscience says,
“Turn,” but you say, “I will not.” Conscience says, “Close your shop on
Sunday,” conscience says, “Alter this system of trade, it is cheating;”
conscience says, “Lie not one to another, for the Judge is at the door,”
conscience says, “Away with that drinking cup, it makes the man into
something worse than a brute, “conscience says, “Rend yourself from that
unchaste connection, have done with that evil, bolt thy door against lust;”
but thou sayest, “I will drink the sweet though it damn me, I will go still to
my cups and to my haunts though I perish in my sins.” There is war
between thee and thy conscience. Still thy conscience is God’s vicegerent
in thy soul. Let conscience speak a moment or two this morning. Fear him
not, he is a good friend to thee, and though he speak roughly, the day will
come when thou wilt know that there is more music in the very roarings of
conscience than in all the sweet and sryren tones which lust adopts to cheat
thee to thy ruin. Let thy conscience speak.

But more, there is war between thee and God’s law. The ten
commandments are against thee this morning. The first one comes forward
and says, “Let him be cursed, for he denies me. He has another God
besides me, his God is his belly, he yieldeth homage to his lust.” All the ten
commandments, like ten great pieces of cannon, are pointed at thee to-day,
for thou hast broken all God’s statutes, and lived in the daily neglect of all
his commands. Soul! thou wilt find it a hard thing to go to war with the
law. When the law came in peace, Sinai was altogether on a smoke, and
even Moses said, “I do exceedingly fear and quake.” What will ye do when
the law comes in terror, when the trumpet of the archangel shall tear you
from your grave, when the eyes of God shall burn their way into your
guilty soul, when the great books shall be opened, and all your sin and
shame shall be published? Can you stand against an angry law in that day?
When the officers of the law shall come forth to devour you up to the
tormentors, and cast you away for ever from peace and happiness, sinner,
what wilt thou do? Canst thou dwell with everlasting fires? Canst thou
abide the eternal burning? O man! “agree with thine adversary quickly,
whiles thou art in the way with him: lest at any time the adversary deliver
thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast
into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out
thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”

But, sinner, dost thou know that thou art this morning at war with God?
He that made thee and was thy best friend thou hast forgotten and
neglected. He has fed thee, and thou hast used thy strength against him. He
has clothed thee, — the clothes thou hast upon thy back to-day are the
livery of his goodness — yet, instead of being the servant of him whose
livery thou nearest, thou art the slave of his greatest enemy. The very
breath in thy nostrils is the loan of his charity, and yet thou usest that
breath perhaps to curse him, or at the best, in lasciviousness or loose
conversation, to do dishonor to his laws. He that made thee has become
thine enemy through thy sin, and thou art still to-day hating him and
despising his Word. You say, “I do not hate him.” Soul, I charge thee then,
“believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” “No,” sayest thou, “I cannot, I will not
do that! “Then thou hatest him. If thou lovedst him, thou wouldst keep this
his great command. “His commandment is not grievous,” it is sweet and
easy. Thou wouldst believe in his Son if thou didst love the Father, for “he
that loveth the Father loveth him also that is begotten of him.” Art thou
thus at war with God? surely this is a sorry plight for thee to be in. Canst
thou meet him that cometh against thee with ten thousand? yea, canst thou
stand against him who is Almighty, who makes heaven shake at his
reproof, and breaks the crooked serpent with a word? Dost thou hope to
hide from him? “Can any hide in secret places, that I shall not see him?
saith the Lord. Though thou dig in Carmel, yet will he pluck thee thence.
Though thou dive into the caverns of the sea, there shall he command the
crooked serpent, and it shall bite thee. If thou make thy bed in hell, he will
find thee out. If thou climb to heaven, he is there.” Creation is thy
prisonhouse, and he can find thee when he will. Or dost thou think thou
canst endure his fury? Are thy ribs of iron? are thy bones brass? If they be
so, yet shall they melt like wax before the coming of the Lord God of
hosts, for he is mighty, and as a lion shall he tear in pieces his prey, and as
a fire shall he devour his adversary, “for our God is a consuming fire.”
This, then, is the state of every unconverted man and woman in this place
this morning. You are at war with conscience, at war with God’s law, and
at war with God himself. And, now, then, as God’s ambassadors, we come
to treat of peace. I beseech you give heed. “As though God did beseech
you by me, I pray you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” “In his
stead.” Let the preacher vanish for a moment. Look and listen. It is Christ
speaking to you now. Methinks I hear him speak to some of you. This is
the way he speaks, “Soul, I love you; I love you from my heart, I would
not have you at enmity with my Father.” The tear proves the truth of what
he states, while he cries, “How often would I have gathered you, as a hen
gathereth her chickens under her wing, but ye would not.” “Yet,” saith he
“I come to treat with you of peace. Come, now, and let us reason together.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of
David. Sinner,” saith he, “thou art bidden now to hear God’s note of peace
to thy soul, for thus it runs — ‘Thou art guilty and condemned; wilt thou
confess this? Art thou willing to throw down thy weapons now, and say,
Great God, I yield, I yield, I would no longer be thy foe?’” If so, peace is
proclaimed to thee. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous
man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, for he will have mercy
upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Pardon is finely
presented to every soul that unfeignedly repents of its sin; but that pardon
must come to you through faith. So Jesus stands here this morning, points
to the wounds upon his breast, and spreads his bleeding hands, says, “Sin
or trust in me and live!” God proclaimeth to thee no longer his fiery law,
but his sweet, his simple gospel, believe and live. “He that believeth on the
Son is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of
God.” “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the
Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not
perish, but have eternal life.” O soul! does the spirit of God move in thee
this morning? Dost thou say, “Lord, I would be at peace with thee?” Are
you willing to take Christ on his own terms, and they are no terms at all —
they are simply that you should make no terms in the matter, but give
yourself up, body, soul, and spirit, to be saved of him? Now, if my Master
were here visibly, I think he would plead with you in such a way that many
of you would say, “Lord, I believe, I would be at peace with thee.” But
even Christ himself never converted a soul apart from the Holy Spirit, and
even he as a preacher won not many to him, for they were hard of heart. If
the Holy Ghost be here, he may as much bless you when I plead in Christ’s
stead as though he pleaded himself. Soul! wilt thou have Christ or not?
Young men, young women, ye may never hear this word preached in your
ears again. Will ye die at enmity against God? Ye that are sitting here, still
unconverted, your last hour may come, ere another sabbath’s sun shall
dawn. The morrow ye may never see. Would you go into eternity “enemies
to God by wicked works?” Soul! wilt thou have Christ or no? Say “No,” if
thou meanest it. Say “No, Christ, I never will be saved by thee.” Say it.
Look the matter in the face. But I pray you do not say, “I will make no
answer.” Come, give Rome answer this morning — ay, this morning.
Thank God thou canst give an answer. Thank God that thou art not in hell.

Thank God that thy sentence has not been pronounced — that thou hast
not received thy due deserts. God help thee to give the right answer! Wilt
thou have Christ or no? “I am not fit.” There is no question of fitness; it is,
wilt thou have him? “I am black.” He will come into your black heart and
clean it. “Oh, but I am hard-hearted.” He will come into your hard heart
and soften it. Wilt thou have him?, — thou canst have him if thou wilt.
When God makes a soul willing, it is a clear proof that he means to give
that soul Christ; and if thou art willing he is not unwilling; if he has made
thee willing, thou mayest have him. “Oh,” says one, “I cannot think that I
might have Christ.” Soul, thou mayest have him now. Mary, he calleth
thee! John, he calleth thee! Sinner, whoever thou mayest be out of this
great throng, if there be in thy soul this morning a holy willingness towards
Christ, ay, or if there be even a faint desire towards him, he calleth thee, he
calleth thee! O tarry not, but come thou and trust in him. Oh, if I had such
a gospel as this to preach to lost souls in hell, what an effect it would have
upon them! Surely, surely, if they could once more have the gospel
preached in their ears, methinks the tears would bedew their poor cheeks,
and they would say, “Great God, if we may but escape from thy wrath, we
will lay hold on Christ.” But here it is preached among you, preached every
day, till I fear it is listened to as an old, old story. Perhaps it is my poor
way of telling it; but God knoweth, if I knew how to tell it better, I would
do so. O my Master! send a better ambassador to these men, if that will
woo them. Send thou a more earnest pleader, and a more tender heart, if
that will bring them to thyself! But oh! bring them, bring them! Our heart
longeth to see them brought. Sinner, wilt thou have Christ or not? This
morning is the day of God’s power to some of your souls, I know. The
Holy Ghost is striving with some of you. Lord, will them, conquer them,
overcome them! Do you say, “Yes, happy day! I would be led in triumph,
captive to my Lord’s great love?” Soul, it is done, if thou believest.

Trust Christ, and thy many sins are all forgiven thee: cast thyself before his dear
cross, and say —
“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
Into thy arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all.”

And if he reject thee, tell us of it. If he refuse thee, let us hear it. There was
never such a case yet. He always has received those that come. He always
will. He is an open-handed and an open-hearted Savior. O sinner! God
bring thee to put thy trust in him once for all! Spirits above! tune your
harps anew; there is a sinner born to God this morning. Lead thou the
song, O Saul of Tarsus! and follow thou with sweetest music, O Mary, the
sinner! Let music roll up before the throne today; for there are heirs of
glory born, and prodigals have returned! To God be the glory for ever and
ever! Amen.