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Vile Ingratitude!

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/07/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                                Vile Ingratitude! by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON                                      

              "Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her               abominations."Ezekiel 16:1-2.

          AND HOW THINK YOU did the prophet proceed in order to accomplish the solemn commission which           had been thus intrusted to him? Did he begin by reminding the people of the law which was delivered to           Moses on the top of Sinai? Did he picture to them the exceeding fearfulness and quaking of the leader of           Israel's host when he received that stony law in the midst of thunders and lightnings? Or did he, do you           think, proceed to point out to them the doom which must inevitably befall them, because they had broken the           divine law, and violated God's holy statutes? No, my brethren; if he had been about to show to the then           unprivileged gentiles their iniquity, he might have proceeded on legal grounds; he was now however about to deal           with Jerusalem, the highly-favoured city, and here he does not bring to their mind the law; he does not begin           dealing out law-thunders to them at all; he fetches obligations as his arguments to convince them of sin from the           grace of God, rather than from the law of God. And, my brethren, as I am about this evening to address you who           profess to be followers of the Son of God, and who by faith have "fled for refuge to the hope set before you in the           gospel,"as my business is to convince you of sin, I shall not begin by taking you to Sinai,I shall not attempt to           show you what the law is, and what that penalty is which devolves upon every man that breaks it; but, feeling that           you are not under the law, but under grace, I shall draw arguments from the grace of God, from his gospel, from           the favour which he has shown to youarguments more powerful than any which can be fetched from the law, to           show you the greatness of your sin, and the abomination of any iniquity which you have committed against the           Lord your God. I shall take Ezekiel's method as my model, and proceed to copy it thus:First, let us consider the           abomination of our sin, aggravated as it is by the remembrance of what we were when the Lord first looked upon           us; secondly, let us see our sins in another lightin the light of what the Lord has made us since those happy           days; and then, let us proceed to notice what our sins have themselves been; and we shall have, I think, three           great lamps which may cast a terrible light on the great wickedness of our sins.               I. First, then, let us consider our iniquitiesI mean those committed since conversion, those committed           yesterday, and the day before, and to-dayand let us see their sinfulness in the light of what we were when the           Lord first looked upon us. In the words of the prophet Ezekiel, observe what was our "birth and our nativity." He           says of us, "Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canan. Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an           Hittite." Now, Canaan, as you know, was a cursed one, and the land of Canaan here meant, refers to the cursed           people whom God utterly gave up to be destroyed with the sword, that not one of them might escape. Mark it, our           nativity and our birth were of the land of the curse. "Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite."           Though when the Lord is speaking of his people as they are in covenant with him, he tells them that their father           was Abraham, whom he did choose, and their mother was Sarah whom he loved; yet when he speaks of their           natural estate, he compares their parentage to that mixed offspring of an Amorite father and a Hittite mother. Ay,           and what was our parentage, men and brethren? Let us look back and wonder. Surely our father Adam's           wickedness was in us. Our early childhood began to discover the latent sparks of our sin. Scarcely do we           remember the time when they were sparks, so early were they fanned into a flame. When any of you look back to           your father's house, to the place from which God called you, you may be constrained to wonder, for I know there           are many members of this church here present who are the only ones out of a family who were ever called to           know the Lord. Your father, perhaps, lived and died a drunkard. You can look back to the two or three that you           remember of your ancestors, and they have been "without God and without hope, strangers to the commonwealth           of Israel." Then what was there in you or in your father's house that God should set his love on you? Indeed, as           for those of us who have been blessed with pious parents, we have nothing to boast of our ancestry, for we all           were "born in sin and shapen in iniquity."               Hath the Lord loved us, though there was nothing in our birth or parentage to invite regard or merit esteem?           Then surely every sin that we commit now, is aggravated by that sovereign choice, that infinite compassion that           doated upon us, though our birth was vile, and our original base. Didst thou take me from the dunghill, O my God,           and do I sin against thee? Didst thou take the beggar in his rags and lift him up to make him sit among thy sons           and daughters, the very blood-royal of heaven? And has that beggar afterwards become a rebel against thee? Oh           sin, thou art an accursed thing indeed! When I think of that grace which has thus honored the dishonorable,           exalted the mean things of this world, and saved creatures that were the offscouring of creation, how I blush for           the ingratitude that can forget such tender obligations, and do despite to such extraordinary unmerited goodness!               Further, the prophet goes on to say that not only their parentage was base, but their condition was dangerous           in the extreme. That which was absolutely necessary for the life of an infant had in this case been utterly           neglected. The babe had been cast away as though it were useless, and its life unworthy of preservation. Offspring           deserted, having none to tend it or care for its welfare, may perhaps awaken the lowest, the most contemptuous           kind of pity. Was not that just our condition when the Lord looked upon us? We had not been severed from the           old natural stock of Adam; there had been no water used to wash us from our natural pollution, or to make our           conscience supple, our neck pliant, or our knees bend before the power of grace. We had not been swaddled or           cared for. There was everything in our condition that would tend to destruction, but nothing in us that would tend           upwards towards God. Yet there we were, dying, nay dead, rotten, corrupted, so abominable that it might well be           said, "Bury this dead one out, of my sight," when Jehovah passed by and he said unto us, "live." Oh! some of you           can remember how you were steeped up to the very neck in lust. Pardon me, brethren, when I allude to these           things that you may be led to see your present sins in the light of the mercy which has blotted out your past           iniquities. It is not long since with some of you that oaths larded your conversation daily, you could scarcely speak           without blasphemy; as for others of us who were preserved from open sin, how base were we! The recollection of           our youthful iniquity crushes us to the very earth. When we think how we despised the training we received, could           laugh at a mother's prayers and contemn all the earnest tender exhortations which a godly parent's heart afforded           to us, we could hide ourselves in dust and ashes and never indulge another thought of self-satisfaction. Yet though           sovereign mercy has put all these sins away; though love has covered all these iniquities, and though everlasting           kindness has washed away all this filth, we have gone on to sin. We have gone on to sinthank God not to sin as           we did before, not so greedily, not as the ox drinketh down water;still we have transgressed, and that in the light           of mercy, which has "blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins. Our sins, since           redemption was revealed to our souls, are abominations indeed! If I had known, O my brethren, in that hour when           Christ took away my sinif I had known what an untoward disposition I had then to show, and what broken           vows I should have now to reflect upon, I do not think I could have borne the revelation. If some of us who are           here present, rejoicing in covenant love and mercy, could have a clear view of all the sins we have committed           since conversion, of all the sins we shall commit till we land in heaven, I question whether our senses might not           reel under the terrible discovery of what base things we are. I am sure if any man had told me that my heart would           ever grow cold, that I should ever forget my Lord and Master, and get worldlyif an angel from heaven had told           me these things, in the day when I first saw his face and looked and loved and lived, I should have said, "Is thy           servant a dog that I should do this thing?" When I sat down and viewed the flowing of his precious blood and           knew that my sins were put away, I thought I should never sin against him any more. I dreamed, and was it only a           dream, that I should spend and be spent in his service; that no toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too great. And           here we find ourselves flinching, and drawing back, and finding excuses for leaving his service; nay, worse than           that, smiting the face of our best Friend and grieving his Holy Spirit, and often causing him to hide his face from           us by reason of our sin. Well might Moses say, "I beseech thee, O Lord, show me not my wretchedness."               One thing else appears designed to represent our sins as blacker still. It appears from the fifth verse, that this           child, this Jewish nation, when God loved it had none other to love it. "None eye pitied thee, to do any of these           unto thee, to have compassion on thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field to the loathing of thy person in the           day that thou wast born." Do any of you know what it is to be cast out to the loathing of your person? We will not           say that our character had become such that we were loathed by others, but well we remember the time when we           loathed ourselves; when we could say with John Banyan that we wished we had been a dog or a toad sooner than           have been a man, because we felt ourselves so vile in having sinned against God. Oh! I can recollect the season           when my fondest wish was that I had never been born, because I so sinned against God. The sight of my iniquity           was such, that horror took hold of me and amazement of soul overwhelmed me. I was indeed cast out to my own           loathing if not to the loathing of others; and indeed it is no wonder if a man, when he has his eyes opened, loathes           himself, for there is nothing so loathsome as an unregenerate hearta heart that is like a den of unclean birds full           of all manner of filthiness and ravenousness. The greatest abomination that ever existed physically is not to be           compared with the moral abominations that dwell in the unrenewed heart. It is a miniature hell, it is pandemonium           in embryo; you have but to let it grow, and the vileness which is in the human heart by nature would soon make a           hell if there were no hell; and yet, my brethren, when we were loathed, when even our person was loathed, he           loved us. Great God I how couldst thou love that which we ourselves hated? Oh! 'tis grace, 'tis grace, 'tis grace           indeed! Where is free-will, my brethren; where is free-will? There is no such thing. "Nomen est sine re," said           Martin Luther, it is a name for nothing. When we think of what we were; the thought of merit vanishes; it at once           refutes itself the moment we look it in the face. It was gracefree, rich, unconstrained, sovereign grace which           looked on us. I am sure if there be any who think there was some good thing in them that invited God's attention,           or led him to look upon them, I can only say I know there was nothing of the sort in me; there was everything to           hate, nothing to desire; everything to detest, nothing to delight in; much that he might spend his hatred on, but           nothing which could command his affection or his love; still he loved us, still he loved us, and yetO ye heavens           be astonishedyet we have sinned against him since then, we have forgotten him, we have doubted him, we have           grown cold towards him; we have loved self at times better than we have loved our Redeemer, and have sacrificed           to our own idols and made gods of our own flesh and self-conceit, instead of giving him all the glory and the honor           for ever and for ever.               This is putting sin in a gospel light. I pray you, brethren, if my speech be feeble and I cannot make the light           shine on these things, spend a little season, as you can, in retirement when you are at home, look at your sins in           the light of the mercy which looked on you when you were thus dead, and lost, and hopelessly ruined. And surely           the blush will mantle on your cheek, and you will bow your knee with many a tear, and cry, "Lord have mercy           upon me! O, my, Father cast not away thy child! forgive a child that spurned his Father's love! forgive a wife who           has played the harlot against a divine husband! pardon a soul that has been traitorous to its own Lord,to him           who is its life, its joy, its all! "

              II. We must now pass on to another point. We have to think of what the Lord has done for us since the time           he first loved us. I have made a mistake, brethren; I have made a mistake. "The time when he first loved us," did I           say ! Why, before all time, when there was no day but the unrising unsetting day of eternity, a beginning that           knew no beginning, years that had no date. He loved his people then. I meant to refer rather to THE TIME           WHEN HE BEGAN TO MANIFEST HIS LOVE TO US PERSONALLY AND INDIVIDUALLY. Well then,           observe, that one of the chief things he did to us was to spread his skirt over us, and cover our nakedness. He           washed us with the water of regeneration, yea, and truly washed away the stain of our natural sanguinity. Oh, that           day, that day of days, as the days of heaven upon earth, when our eyes looked to Christ and were lightened, when           the burden rolled from off our back! Oh, that hour, that earliest of all our gracious remembrances, that first of all           dates, when we began to live, when we stepped down into that bath of atoning blood and came out of it fairer than           any queen, more glorious than the daughters of men, white as alabaster, pure as crystal, like the driven snow           without spot or blemish! That day we never can forget, for it always rises to our recollection the moment we begin           to speak about pardonthe day of our own pardon, of our own forgiveness. The galley-slave may forget the hour           when he ceased to tug the oar. The poor chattel of his master may forget the time when he escaped from the           accursed slave-holder's grasp, and became a freeman. The sick man may forget the day when, after being long           worn with pain till he was emaciated and at the gates of death, the blood began to leap in his veins, and the glow           of health began to invigorate his frame. The culprit who lay shivering beneath the heads-man's axe may forget the           hour when suddenly his pardon was granted and his life was spared. But if all these should consign to oblivion           their surprising joys, the pardoned soul can never, never, never forget. Unless reason should lose her seat, the           quickened soul can never cease to remember the time when, Jesus said to it, "Live." Oh! and has Jesus pardoned           all our sins and have we sinned still? Has he washed me, and have I defiled myself again? Did he shed his blood to           cleanse me and have I returned again to my natural depravity? Oh, these are abominations indeed! I have heard           some say that the sins of believers are but trifles. Ah! my brethren, I do think if there be any difference, the sins of           disciples of Christ are a thousand times worse than the sins of unbelievers, because they sin against a gospel of           love, a covenant of mercy; against sweet experience and against precious promises. The sinner may kick against           the pricks, that is bad enough; but to kick against the wounds of Christ, is worse still. Yet that is what you and I           have done. We have sinned since the dear hour that cleansed our guilt away.               Nor did the gracious things we have mentioned exhaust the lovingkindness of the Lord. When he had washed           us, according to the ninth verse, he anointed us with oil. Yes, and that has been repeated many and many a time.           "Thou hast anointed my head with oil." He gave us the oil of his grace; our faces were like priests, and we went           up to his tabernacle rejoicing. Have ye received the Spirit, my brethren? Oh, think how great an honour that God           should dwell in man. The centurion said he was not worthy that Christ should come under the roof of his house,           and yet the Holy Spirit has not merely come under your roof but has come into your heart; there he dwells and           there he reigns. Yet, my dear brethren, yet you have sinned. With God's oil on your head you have sinned. With           the Holy Ghost in your heart you have sinned. Ah! if any man carried God within him, would he go and sin? Shall           the body that is the temple of the Holy Ghost be desecrated? Yet that has been the case with us. We have had           God within us, and yet we have sinned. Marvel of marvels! He that would defile the house in which the king lived,           would certainly be guilty of high insult; but he who defiles the temple in which the Holy Ghost resideswhat shall           be said of him? This is what we have done. O Lord, have mercy upon thy people! Now we see our abomination in           this clear light, we beseech thee pardon it, for Jesu's sake!               But further, we find that he not only washed us, he not only anointed us with oil; but he clothed us, and           clothed us sumptuously. The rich man in the parable of Jesus was clothed in scarlet, but we are better robed than           he, for we are clothed in broidered-work. "Jesus spent his life to work my robe of righteousness." His sufferings           were so many stitches when he made the broidered-work of my righteousness. "I clothed thee also with broidered           work, and shod thee with badgers' skin." Our shoes have been as iron and brass, and as our day, so has our           strength been. We have had always grace hitherto sufficient for us. "And I girded thee about with fine linen,"the           righteousness of saints. He has given to us the virtues of the Holy Spirit, the robe of sanctification; and then he has           covered us with silk, even with that all-glorious robe of righteousness "woven from the top throughout without           seam," in which all his people stand arrayed. There never was any one dressed so well as God's people.           Outwardly they may wear fustian and calico; they may come up to the house of God dressed in the garb of           poverty, but they have robes which men cannot see, though such as angels can see and admire. A saint's wardrobe           would be a matchless thing to look at if we could but see it with the eyes of our understanding illuminated. Have           you ever been taken to see the wardrobes of some great personages,their multiplied garmentsthe robes which           they wore in state? You have wondered at their lavish expenditure; but see your own, see those shoes, that girding           of fine linen, and that covering of silk. Why, all the wealth of mankind could not buy an ell of that stuff; they           could not procure a hem, much less the entire robe with which the righteous are adorned and made glorious. And           yet they have turned aside and sinned. What should you think of a bishop in his lawn sleeves defiling himself with           outcasts in the street? What would think you of a king with a crown on his head going to break the laws of his           kingdom? What would you think if a monarch should invest us with all the insignia of nobility, and we should           afterwards violate the high orders conferred upon us while adorned with the robes of state? This is just what you           and I have done. We have had all these costly robes and glorious garments, and then we have gone and sinned           against our God. O ingratitude of the vilest sort! Where are there words to denounce it? What language can fully           express it?               We have but time to notice each one of these briefly; we have not only received clothing, but ornaments. "I           have decked thee also with ornaments, and put bracelets upon thy hands and a chain on thy neck, and I put a           jewel on thy forehead and earrings in thy ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head." Just like a loving husband,           not content with giving his wife an ornament, he gives her many. And the Lord, you see, gives to his Church all           the ornaments she can possibly desire. There are ornaments for her ears, a crown for her head, bracelets for her           hands, and a chain for her neck. We cannot be more glorious; Christ has given the Church so much, she could not           have more. He could not bestow upon her that which is more beautiful, more precious, or more costly. She has all           she can receive. The Lord Jesus has bestowed all his wealth, and all heaven's wealth upon his Church, and you           and I are the inheritors and wearers of these precious ornaments. He has given to us jewels in our earsa hearing           ear; he has given us the jewel in our foreheada holy courage for his name; he has given us a crown upon our           heada garland crown of lovingkindness and tender mercy; he has given us bracelets upon our hands, that           whatsoever we touch may be graced, that our conduct may be beautiful and lovely, an ornament to the profession           which we have espoused; and he has been pleased to put a chain about our necks, that we may ever be known to           be right noble personagesnoble of rank, exalted of station. Nevertheless, in the face of all these, we have sinned           against him.               Dear friends, it may seem like repetition when I go over the list of these mercies, but I cannot help it. I should           like every one of these to be as a trumpet in your ear to wake you up to look at your sins, and as a dagger in the           heart of your pride to stab it and make it die. By these mercies of God, I adjure you, do hate your sins; by these           lovingkindnesses, these favours, immense, innumerable, unsearchable, by these covenant gifts, every one of them           more precious, than a world of diamonds, I beseech you hate the sins that have grieved your gracious Lord; and           made his Spirit mourn. To see my sins in the lurid light of Sinai were bad enough, but to see them in the mellow           radiance of his countenance and in the light that is shed from the cross of my dying Master, this is to see sin in all           its blackness and all its heinousness. Never, dear brethren, tamper with sin; never have anything to do with those           who think sin is little because grace is great. Shun, I beseech you, any man who comforts his heart with the hope           that the crimes of God's children are mere trifles. No; though there be precious blood to wash it all away, yet sin is           an awful thing. Though there be covenant promises to keep the believer secure, yet sin is a damning thing. Though           there be eternal love which will not execute the divine anger upon us, yet sin is a thricecursed thing. In fact, I           would strain language to find an epithet for that sin which dares to nestle in the heart of a man whom God has           loved and chosen. I know that there is a tendency among some ministersI will not say to whom I allude; you           may readily guesswho preach a gospel which does seem as if it tolerated iniquity. Oh, come not into their secret,           I pray you. Better for you, though it were one of the worst things that could be, if you were to endorse           Arminianism, rather than Antinomianism. Of the two devils I think the white devil is the least devilish. As Rowland           Hill said,"The one is a white devil and the other a black one." They are both devils, I doubt not, but still one is           more fearful in its character than the other. Have nothing to do with that horrible spirit which has done more to           destroy sound doctrine in our churches than anyth

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