God’s Will and Man’s Will
AUTHOR: Spurgeon, C.H.
PUBLISHED ON: April 3, 2003

God’s Will and Man’s Will

A Sermon
(No. 442)
Delivered on Sunday Morning, March 30th, 1862, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth
mercy.” Romans 9:16
“Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
he great controversy which for many ages has divided the Christian Church has hinged upon the
difficult question of “the will.” I need not say of that conflict that it has done much mischief to
the Christian Church, undoubtedly it has; but I will rather say, that it has been fraught with
incalculable usefulness; for it has thrust forward before the minds of Christians, precious truths,
which but for it, might have been kept in the shade. I believe that the two great doctrines of
human responsibility and divine sovereignty have both been brought out the more prominently in
the Christian Church by the fact that there is a class of strong-minded hard-headed men who
magnify sovereignty at the expense of responsibility; and another earnest and useful class who
uphold and maintain human responsibility oftentimes at the expense of divine sovereignty. I
believe there is a needs-be for this in the finite character of the human mind, while the natural
lethargy of the Church requires a kind of healthy irritation to arouse her powers and to stimulate
her exertions. The pebbles in the living stream of truth are worn smooth and round by friction.
Who among us would wish to suspend a law of nature whose effects on the whole are good? I
glory in that which at the present day is so much spoken against sectarianism, for “sectarianism”
is the cant phrase which our enemies use for all firm religious belief. I find it applied to all sorts
of Christians; no matter what views he may hold, if a man be but earnest, he is a sectarian at
once. Success to sectarianism, let it live and flourish. When that is done with, farewell to the
power of godliness. When we cease, each of us, to maintain our own views of truth, and to
maintain those views firmly and strenuously, then truth shall fly out of hand, and error alone
shall reign: this, indeed, is the object of our foes: under the cover of attacking sects, they attack
true religion, and would drive it, if they could, from off the face of the earth. In the controversy
which has raged, a controversy which, I again say, I believe to have been really healthy, and
which has done us all a vast amount of good mistakes have arisen from two reasons. Some
brethren have altogether forgotten one order of truths, and then, in the next place, they have gone
too far with others. We all have one blind eye, and too often we are like Nelson in the battle, we
put the telescope to that blind eye, and then protest that we cannot see. I have heard of one man
who said he had read the Bible through thirty-four times on his knees, but could not see a word
about election in it; I think it very likely that he could not; kneeling is a very uncomfortable
posture for reading, and possibly the superstition which would make the poor man perform this
penance would disqualify him for using his reason: moreover, to get through the Book thirty-four
times, he probably read in such a hurry that he did not know what he was reading, and might as
well have been dreaming over “Robinson Crusoe” as the Bible. He put the telescope to the blind
eye. Many of us do that; we do not want to see a truth, and therefore we say we cannot see it. On
the other hand, there are others who push a truth too far. “This is good; oh! this is precious!” say
they, and then they think it is good for everything; that in fact it is the only truth in the world.
You know how often things are injured by over-praise; how a good medicine, which really was a
great boon for a certain disease, comes to be despised utterly by the physician, because a certain
quack has praised it up as being a universal cure; so puffery in doctrine leads to dishonor. Truth
has thus suffered on all sides; on the one hand brethren would not see the truth, and on the other
hand they magnified out of proportion that which they did see. You have seen those mirrors,
those globes that are sometimes hung in gardens; you walk up to them and you see your head ten
times as large as your body, or you walk away and put yourself in another position, a then your
feet are monstrous and the rest of your body is small; this is an ingenious toy, but I am sorry to
say that many go to work with God’s truth upon the model of this toy; they magnify one capital
truth till it becomes monstrous; they minify and speak little of another truth till it becomes
altogether forgotten. In what I shall be able say this morning you will probably detect the failing
to which I allude, the common fault of humanity, and suspect that I also am magnifying one truth
at the expense of another; but I will say this, before I proceed further, that it shall not be the case
if I can help it, but I will endeavor honestly to bring out the truth as I have learned it, and if in
ought ye see that I teach you what is contrary to the Word of God, reject it; but mark you, if it be
according to God’s Word, reject it at your peril; for when I have once delivered it to you, if ye
receive it not the responsibility lies with you.
There are two things, then, this morning I shall have to talk about. The first is, that the work of
salvation rests upon the will of God, and not upon the will of man; and secondly, the equally sure
doctrine, that the will of man has its proper position in the work of salvation, and is not to be
WILL OF MAN. So saith out text “It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of
God that sheweth mercy;” by which is clearly meant that the reason why any man is saved is not
because he wills it, but because God willed, accord to that other passage, “Ye have not chosen
me, but I have chosen you.” The whole scheme of salvation, we aver, from the first to the last,
hinges and turns, and is dependent upon the absolute will of God, and not upon the will of the creature.
This, we think, we can show in two or three ways; and first, we think that analogy furnishes us
with a rather strong argument. There is a certain likeness between all God’s works; if a painter
shall paint three pictures, there is a certain identity of style about all the three which leads you to
know that they are from the same hand. Or, if an author shall write three works upon three
different subjects, yet there are qualities running through the whole, which lead you to assert,
“That is the same man’s writing, I am certain, in the whole of the three books.” Now what we
find in the works of nature, we generally find to be correct with regard to the work of providence;
and what is true of nature and of providence, is usually true with regard to the greater work of
grace. Turn your thoughts, then, to the works of creation. There was a time when these works
had no existence; the sun was not born; the young moon had not begun to fill her horns; the stars
were not; not even the illimitable void of space was then in existence. God dwelt alone without a
creature. I ask you, with whom did he then take counsel? Who instructed him? Who had a voice
in the counsel by which the wisdom of God was directed? Did it not rest with his own will
whether he would make or not? Was not creation itself, when it lay in embryo in his thoughts
entirely, in his keeping, so that he would or would not just as he pleased? And when he willed to
create, did he not still exercise his own discretion and will as to what and how he would make? If
he hath made the stars spheres, what reason was there for this but his own will? If he hath chosen
that they should move in the circle rather than in any other orbit, is it not God’s own fiat that hath
made them do so? And when this round world, this green earth on which we dwell, leaped from
his molding hand into its sunlit track, was not this also according to the divine will? Who
ordained, save the Lord, that there the Himalayas should lift up their heads and pierce the clouds,
and that there the deep cavernous recesses of the sea should pierce earth’s bowels of rock? Who,
save himself, ordained that yon Sahara should be brown and sterile, and that yonder isle should
laugh in the midst of the sea with joy over her verdure? Who, I say, ordained this, save God?
You see running through creation, from the tiniest animalcule up to the tall archangel who stands
before the throne, this working of God’s own will. Milton was nobly right when he represents the
Eternal One as saying,
                    My goodness is most free
              To act or not: Necessity and Chance
          Approach not me, and what I will is fate.

He created as it pleased him; he made them as he chose; the potter exercised power over his clay
to make his vessels as he willed, and to make them for what purposes he pleased. Think you that
he has abdicated the throne of grace? Does he reign in creation and not in grace? Is he absolute
king over nature and not over the greater works of the new nature? Is he Lord over the things
which his hand made at first, and not King over the great regeneration, the new-making wherein
he maketh all things new?
But take the works of Providence. I suppose there will be no dispute amongst us that in
providential matters God ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will. If we
should, however, be troubled with doubts about the matter, we might hear the striking words of
Nebuchadnezzar when, taught by God, he had repented of his pride “All the inhabitants of the
earth are reputed as nothing; he doth according to his will in the armies of heaven and among the
inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou.” From the
first moment of human history even to the last, God’s will shall be done. What though it be a
catastrophe or a crime there may be the second causes and the action of human evil, but the
great first cause is in all. If we could imagine that one human action had eluded the prescience or
the predestination of God, we could suppose that the whole might have done so, and all things
might drift to sea, anchorless, rudderless, a sport to every wave, the victim of tempest and
hurricane. One leak in the ship of Providence would sink her, one hour in which Omnipotence
relaxed its grasp and she would fall to atoms. But it is the comfortable conviction of all God’s
people that “all things work together for good to them that love God;” and that God ruleth and
overruleth, and reigneth in all acts of men and in all events that transpire; from seeming evil still
producing good, and better still, and better still in infinite progression, still ordering all things
according the counsel of his will. And think you that he reigns in Providence and is King there,
and not in grace? Has he given up the blood-bought land to be ruled by man, while common
Providence is left as a lonely providence to be his only heritage? He hath not let slip the reins of
the great chariot of Providence, and think you that when Christ goeth forth in the chariot of his
grace it is with steeds unguided, or driven only by chance, or by the fickle will of man? Oh, no
brethren. As surely as God’s will is the axle of the universe, as certainly as God’s will is the great
heart of providence sending its pulsings through even the most distant limbs of human act, so in
grace let us rest assured that he is King, willing to do as he pleases, having mercy on whom he
will have mercy, calling whom he chooses to call, quickening whom he wills, and fulfilling,
despite man’s hardness of heart, despite man’s willful rejection of Christ, his own purposes, his
won decrees, without one of them falling to the ground. We think, then, that analogy helps to
strengthen us in the declaration of e text, that salvation is not left with man’s will.
2. But, secondly, we believe that the difficulties which surround the opposite theory are
tremendous. In fact, we cannot bear to look them in the face. If there be difficulties about ours,
there are ten times more about the opposite. We think that the difficulties which surround our
belief that salvation depends upon the will of God, arise from our ignorance in not understanding
enough of God to be able to judge of them; but that the difficulties in the other case do not arise
from that cause, but from certain great truths, clearly revealed, which stand in manifest
opposition to the figment which our opponents have espoused. According to their theory that
salvation depends upon our own will you have first of all this difficulty to meet, that you have
made the purpose of God in the great plan of salvation entirely contingent. You have the put an
“if” upon everything. Christ may die, but it is not certain according to that theory that he will
redeem a great multitude; nay, not certain that he will redeem any, since the efficacy of the
redemption according to that plan, rests not in its own intrinsic power, but in the will of man
accepting that redemption. Hence if man be, as we aver he always is, if he be a bond-slave as to
his will, and will not yield to the invitation of God’s grace, then in such a case the atonement of
Christ would be valueless, useless, and altogether in vain, for not a soul would be saved by it;
and even when souls are saved by it, according to that theory, the efficacy, I say, lies not in the
blood itself, but in the will of man which gives it efficacy. Redemption is therefore made
contingent; the cross shakes, the blood falls powerless on the ground, and atonement is a matter
of perhaps. There is a heaven provided, but there may no souls who will ever come there if their
coming is to be of themselves. There is a fountain filled with blood, but there may be none who
will ever wash in it unless divine purpose and power shall constrain them to come. You may look
at any one promise of grace, but you cannot say over it, “This is the sure mercy of David;” for
there is an “if,” and a “but;” a “perhaps,” and a “peradventure.” In fact, the reigns are gone out of
God’s hands; the linch-pin is taken away from the wheels of the creation; you have left the whole
economy of grace and mercy to be the gathering together of fortuitous atoms impelled by man’s
own will, and what may become of it at the end nobody can know. We cannot tell on that theory
whether God will be gloried or sin will triumph. Oh! how happy are we when come back to the
old fashioned doctrines, and cast our anchor where it can get its grip in the eternal purpose and
counsel of God, who worketh all things to the good pleasure of his will.
Then another difficulty comes in; not only is everything made contingent, but it does seem to us
as if man were thus made to be the supreme being in the universe. According to the freewill
scheme the Lord intends good, but he must win like a lackey on his own creature to know what
his intention is; God willeth good and would do it, but he cannot, because he has an unwilling
man who will not have God’s good thing carried into effect. What do ye, sirs, but drag the Eternal
from his throne, and lift up into it that fallen creature, man: for man, according to that theory
nods, and his nod is destiny. You must have a destiny somewhere; it must either be as God wills
or as man wills . If it be as God wills , then Jehovah sits as sovereign upon his throne of glory,
and all hosts obey him, and the world is safe; if not God, then you put man there, to say. “I will”
or “I will not; if I will it I will enter heaven; if I will it I will despise the grace of God; if I will it I
will conquer the Holy Sprit, for I am stronger than God, and stronger than omnipotence; if I will
it I will make the blood of Christ of no effect, for I am mightier than that blood, mightier than the
blood of the Son of God himself; though God make his purpose, yet will I laugh at his purpose; it
shall be my purpose that shall make his purpose stand, or make it fall.” Why, sirs, if this be not
Atheism, it is idolatry; it is putting man where God should be, and I shrink with solemn awe and
horror from that doctrine which makes the grandest of God’s works the salvation man to be
dependent upon the will of his creature whether it shall be accomplished or not. Glory I can and
must in my text in its fullest sense. “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of
God that sheweth mercy.”
3. We think that the known condition of man is a very strong argument against the supposition
that salvation depends upon his own will; and hence is a great confirmation of the truth that it
depends upon the will of God; that it is God that chooses, and not man, God who takes the first
step, and not the creature. Sirs, on the theory that man comes to Christ of his own will, what do
you with texts of Scripture which say that he is dead? “And you hath he quickened who were
dead in trespasses and sins;” you will say that is a figure. I grant it, but what is the meaning of it?
You say the meaning is, he is spiritually dead. Well, then I ask you, how can he perform the
spiritual act of willing that which is right? He is alive enough to will that which is evil, only evil
and that continually, but he is not alive to will that which is spiritually good. Do you not know,
to turn to another Scripture, that he cannot even discern that which is spiritual? for the natural
man knoweth not the things which be of God, seeing they are spiritual and must be spiritually
discerned. Why, he has not a “spirit” with which to discern them; he has only a soul and body,
but the third principle, implanted in regeneration, which is called in the Word of God, “the
spirit,” he knows nothing of and he is therefore incapable, seeing he is dead and is without the
vitalizing spirit, of doing what you say he does. Then again, what make you of the words of our
Saviour where he said to those who had heard even him, “Ye will not come to me that ye might
have life?” Where is free-will after such a text as that? When Christ affirms that they will not,
who dare say they will? “Ah, but,” you say, “they could if they would.” Dear sir, I am not talking
about that; I am talking about if they would, the question is “will they?” and we say “no,” they
never will by nature. Man is so depraved, so set on mischief, and the way of salvation is so
obnoxious to his pride, so hateful to his lusts, that he cannot like it, and will not like it, unless he
who ordained the plan shall change his nature, and subdue his will. Mark, this stubborn will of
man is his sin; he is not to be excused for it; he is guilty because he will not come; he is
condemned because he will not come; because he will not believe in Christ, therefore is
condemnation resting upon him, but still the fact does not alter for all that, that he will not come
by nature if left to himself. Well, then, if man will not, how shall he be saved unless God shall
make him will? unless, in some mysterious way, he who made heart shall touch its mainspring
so that it shall move in a direction opposite to that which it naturally follows.
4. But there is another argument which will come closer home to us. It is consistent with the
universal experience of all God’s people that salvation is of God’s will. You will say, “I have not
had a very long life, I have not, but I have had a very extensive acquaintance with all sections of
the Christian Church, and I solemnly protest before you, that I have never yet met with a man
professing to be a Christian, let alone his really being so, who ever said that his coming to God
was the result of his unassisted nature. Universally, I believe, without exception, the people of
God will say it was the Holy Spirit that made them what they are; that they should have refused
to come as others do unless God’s grace had sweetly influenced their wills. There are some
hymns in Mr. Wesley’s hymn-book which are stronger upon this point than I could ever venture
to be, for he puts prayer into the lips of the sinner in which God is even asked to force him to be
saved by grace. Of course I can take no objection to a term so strong, but it goes to prove this,
that among all sections of Christians, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whatever their doctrinal
sentiments may be, their experimental sentiments are the same. I do not think they would any of
them refuse to join in the verse
                  Oh! yes, I do love Jesus,
                  Because he first loved me.

Nor would they find fault with our own hymn,
          ‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
                  That sweetly forced us in;
              Else we had still refused to taste,
                    And perished in our sin.

We bring out the crown and say, “On whose head shall we put it? Who ruled at the
turning-point? Who decided this case?” and the universal Church of God, throwing away their
creeds, would say. “Crown him; crown him, put it on his head, for he is worthy; he has made us
to differ; he has done it, and unto him be the praise for ever and ever.” What staggers me is, that
men can believe dogmas contrary to their own experience, that they can hug that to their hearts
as precious to which their own inward convictions must give the lie.
5. But, lastly, in the way of argument. and to bring our great battering-ram at the last. It is not,
after all, arguments from analogy, nor reasons from the difficulties of the opposite position, nor
inferences from the know feebleness of human nature, nor even deductions from experience, that
will settle this question once for all. To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not accord to
this word, it is because there is no light in them. Do me the pleasure, then, to use your Bibles for
a moment or two, and let us see what Scripture saith on this main point. First, with regard to the
matter of God’s preparation, and his plan with regard to salvation. We turn to the apostle’s words
in the epistle to the Ephesians, and we find in the first chapter and the third verse, “Blessed be the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in
heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us
unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his
will” a double word you notice it is according to the will of his will. No expression could be
stronger in the original to show the entire absoluteness of this thing as depending on the will
God. It seems, then, that the choice of his people their adoption is according to his will. So far we
are satisfied, indeed, with the testimony of the apostle. Then in the ninth verse, “Having made
known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in
himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things
in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in him.” So, then, it seems that
the grand result of the gathering together of all the saved in Christ, as well as the primitive
purpose, is according to the counsel of his will. What stronger proof can there be that salvation
depends upon the will of God? Moreover, it says in the eleventh verse “In whom also we have
obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all
things after the counsel of his own will:” a stronger expression than “of his will” “of his own
will,” his free unbiased will, his will alone. As for redemption as well as for the eternal
purpose redemption is according to the will of God. You remember that verse in Hebrews, tenth
chapter, ninth verse: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he might
establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified.” So that the redemption offered up on
Calvary, like the election made before the foundation of the world, is the result of the divine will.
There will be little controversy here: the main point is about our new birth, and here we cannot
allow of any diversity of opinion. Turn to the Gospel according to John, the first chapter and
thirteenth verse. It is utterly impossible that human language could have put a stronger negative
on the vainglorious claims of the human will than this passage does: “Born not of blood, nor of
the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” A passage equally clear is to be found in
the Epistle of James, at the first chapter, and the eighteenth verse: “Of his own will begat he us
with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” In these
passages and they are not the only ones the new birth is peremptorily and in the strongest
language put down as being the fruit and effect of the will and purpose of God. As to the
sanctification which is the result and outgrowth of the new birth, that also is according to God’s
holy will. In the first of Thessalonians, fourteenth chapter, and third verse, we have, “This is the
will of God, even your sanctification.” One more passage I shall need you to refer to, the
sixteenth chapter, and thirty-ninth verse. Here we find that the preservation, the perseverance, the
resurrection, and the eternal glory of God’s people, rests upon his will. “And this is the Father’s
will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should
raise it up again at the last day; and this is the will of him that sent me that every one which seeth
the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
And indeed this is why the saints go to heaven at all, because in the seventeenth chapter of John,
Christ is recorded as praying, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me
where I am.” We close, then, by noticing that according to Scripture there is not a single blessing
in the new covenant which is not conferred upon us according to the will of God, and that as the
vessel hangs upon the nail, so every blessing, we receive hangs upon the absolute will and
counsel of God, who gives these mercies even as he gives the gifts of the Spirit according as he
wills. We shall now leave that point, and take the second great truth, and speak a little while
upon it.
“Whosoever will let him come and take the water of life freely.” According to this and many
other texts the Scripture where man is addressed as a being having a will, it appears clear enough
that men are not saved by compulsion. When a man receives the grace of Christ, he does not
receive it against his will. No man shall be pardoned while he abhors the though forgiveness. No
man shall have joy in the Lord if he says, “I do not wish to rejoice in the Lord.” Do not think that
anybody shall have the angels pushing them behind into the gates of heaven. They must go there
freely or else they will never go there at all. We are not saved against our will; nor again, mark
you, is the will taken away; for God does not come and convert the intelligent free-agent into a
machine. When he turns the slave into a child, it is not by plucking out of him the will which he
possesses. We are as free under grace as ever we were under sin; nay, we were slaves when we
were under sin, and when the Son makes us free we are free indeed, and we are never free before.
Erskine, in speaking of his own conversion, says he ran to Christ “with full consent against his
will,” by which he meant it was against his old will; against his will as it was till Christ came, but
when Christ came, then he came to Christ with full consent, and was as willing to be saved no,
that is a cold word as delighted, as pleased, as transported to receive Christ as if grace had not
constrained him. But we do hold and teach that though the will of man is not ignored, and men
are not saved against their wills, that the work of the Spirit, which is the effect of the will of God,
is to change the human will, and so make men willing in the day of God’s power, working in
them to will to do of his own good pleasure. The work of the Spirit is consistent with the original
laws and constitution of human nature. Ignorant men talk grossly and carnally about the work of
the Spirit in the heart as if the heart were a lump of flesh, and the Holy Spirit turned it round
mechanically. Now, brethren, how is your heart and my heart changed in any matter? Why, the
instrument generally is persuasion. A friend sets before us a truth we did not know before; pleads
with us; puts it in a new light, and then we say, “Now I see that,” and then our hearts are changed
towards the thing. Now, although no man’s heart is changed by moral suasion in itself, yet the
way in which the Spirit works in his heart, as far as we can detect it, is instrumentally by a
blessed persuasion of the mind. I say not that men are saved by moral suasion, or that this is the
first cause, but I think it is frequently the visible means. As to the secret work, who knows how
the Spirit works? “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but thou
canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit;”
but yet, as far as we can see, the Spirit makes a revelation of truth to the soul, whereby it seeth
things in a different light from what it ever did before, and then the will cheerfully bows that
neck which once was stiff as iron, and wears the yoke which once it despised, and wears it
gladly, cheerfully, and joyfully. Yet, mark, the will is not gone; the will is treated as it should be
treated; man is not acted upon as a machine, he is not polished like a piece of marble; he is not
planed and smoothed like a plank of deal; but his mind is acted upon by the Spirit of God, in a
manner quite consistent with mental laws. Man is thus made a new creature in Christ Jesus, by
the will of God, and his own will is blessedly and sweetly made to yield.
Then, mark you, and this is a point which I want to put into the thoughts of any who are
troubled about these things, this gives the renewed soul a most blessed sign of grace, insomuch
that if any man wills to be saved by Christ, if he wills to have sin forgiven through the precious
blood, if he wills to live by a holy life resting upon the atonement of Christ, and in the power of
the Spirit, that will is one of the most blessed signs of the mysterious working of the Spirit of
God in his heart; such a sign is it that if it be real willingness, I will venture to assert that that
man is not far from the kingdom. I say not that he is so saved that he himself may conclude he is,
but there is a work begun, which has the germ of salvation in it. If thou art willing, depend upon
it that God is willing. Soul, if thou art anxious after Christ, he is more anxious after thee. If thou
hast only one spark of true desire after him, that spark is a spark from the fire of his love to thee.
He has drawn thee, or else thou wouldest never run after him. If you are saying, “Come to me,
Jesus,” it is because he has come to you, though you do not know it. He has sought you as a lost
sheep, and therefore you have sought him like a returning prodigal. He has swept the house to
find you, as the woman swept for the lost piece of money, and now you seek him as a lost child
would seek a father’s face. Let your willingness to come to Christ be a hopeful sign and symptom.
But once more, and let me have the ear of the anxious yet again. It appears that when you have a
willingness to come to Christ, there is a special promise for you. You know, my dear hearers,
that we are not accustomed in this house of prayer to preach one side of truth, but we try if we
can to preach it all. There are some brethren with small heads, who, when they have heard a
strong doctrinal sermon, grow into hyper-Calvinists, and then when we preach an inviting
sermon to poor sinners, they cannot understand it, and say it is a yea and nay gospel. Believe me,
it is not yea and nay, but yea and yea. We give your yea to all truth, and our nay we give to no
doctrine of God. Can a sinner be saved when he wills to come to Christ? Yea. And if he does
come, does he come because God brings him? Yea. We have no nays in our theology for any
revealed truth. We do not shut the door on one word and open it to another. Those are the yea
and nay people who have a nay for the poor sinner, when they profess to preach the gospel. As
soon as a man has any willingness given to him, he has a special promise. Before he had the
willingness he had an invitation. Before he had any willingness, it was his duty to believe in
Christ, for it is not man’s condition that gives him a right to believe. Men are to believe in
obedience to God’s command. God commandeth all men everywhere to repent, and this is his
great command, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” “This is the
commandment, that ye believe in Jesus Christ whom he has sent.” Hense your right and your
duty to believe; but once you have got the willingness, then you have a special
promise “Whosoever will let him come.” That is a sort of extraordinary invitation. Methinks
this is the utterance of the special call. You know how John Bunyan describes the special call in
words to this effect. “The hen goes clucking about the farm-yard all day long; that is the general
call of the gospel; but she sees a hawk up in the sky, and she gives a sharp cry for her little ones
to come and hide under her wings; that is the special call; they come and are safe.” My text is a
special call to some of you. Poor soul! are you willing to be saved? “O, sir, willing, willing
indeed; I cannot use that word; I would give all I have if I might but be saved.” Do you mean you
would give it all in order to purchase it? “Oh no, sir, I do not mean that; I know I cannot purchase
it; I know it is God’s gift, but still, if I could be but saved, I would ask nothing else.
                Lord, deny me what thou wilt,
                  Only ease me of my guilt;
                  Suppliant at thy feet I lie,
                Give me Christ, or else I die.

Why, then the Lord speaks to you this morning, to you if not to any other man in the chapel, he
speaks to you and says “Whosoever will let him come.” You cannot say this does not mean you.
When we give the general invitation, you may exempt yourself perhaps in some way or other, but
you cannot now. You are willing, then come and take the water of life freely. “Had not I better
pray?” It does not say so; it says, take the water of life. “But had not I better go home and get
better?” No, take the water of life, and take the water of life now. You are standing by the
fountain outside there, and the water is flowing and you are willing to drink; you are picked out
of a crowd who are standing round about, and you are specially invited by the person who built
the fountain. He says, “Here is a special invitation for you; you are willing; come and drink.”
“Sir,” you say, “I must go home and wash my pitcher.” “No,” says he, “come and drink.” “But,
sir, I want to go home and write a petition to you.” “I do not want it,” he says, “drink now, drink
now.” What would you do? If you were dying of thirst, you would just put your lips down and
drink. Soul, do that now. Believe that Jesus Christ is able to save thee now. Trust thy soul in his
hands now. No preparation is wanted. Whosoever will let him come; let him come at once and
take the water of life freely. To take that water is simply to trust Christ; to repose on him; to take
him to be your all in all. Oh that thou wouldest do it now! Thou are willing; God has made thee
willing. When the crusaders heard the voice of Peter the hermit, as he bade them go to Jerusalem
to take it from the hands of the invaders, they cried out at once, “Deus vult; God wills it; God
wills it;” and every man plucked his sword from its scabbard, and set out to reach the holy
sepulchre, for God willed it. So come and drink, sinner; God wills it. Trust Jesus; God wills it. If
you will it, that is the sign that God wills it. “Father, thy will be done on earth even as it is in
heaven.” As sinners, humbly stoop to drink from the flowing crystal which streams from the
sacred fountain which Jesus opened for his people; let it be said in heaven, “God’s will is done;
hallelujah, hallelujah!” “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that
sheweth mercy;” yet “Whosoever will let him come and take the water of life freely.”

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