posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "A Mighty Savior," a sermon delivered Sunday morning, January 4, 1857, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
nce a poor Irishman came to me in my vestry. He announced himself something in this way: "Your reverence, I'm come to ax you a question."
"In the first place," said I, "I am not a reverend, nor do I claim the title; and in the next place, why don't you go and ask your priest that question?"
Said he "Well, your riv—sir, I meant—I did go to him, but he did not answer me to my satisfaction exactly; so I have come to ask you, and if you will answer this you will set my mind at peace, for I am much disturbed about it."
"What is the question?" said I.
"Why this. You say, and others say too, that God is able to forgive sin. Now, I can't see how he can be just, and yet forgive sin: for," said this poor man, "I have been so greatly guilty that if God Almighty does not punish me he ought, I feel that he would not be just if he were to suffer me to go without punishment. How, then, sir, can it be true that he can forgive, and still remain the title of just?"
"Well," said I, "it is through the blood and merits of Jesus Christ."
"And" said he, "but then I do not understand what you mean by that. It is the kind of answer I got from the priest, but I wanted him to explain it to me more fully, how it was that the blood of Christ could make God just. You say it does, but I want to know how."
"Well, then," said I, "I will tell you what I think to be the whole system of atonement which I think is the sum and substance, the root, the marrow, and the essence of all the gospel. This is the way Christ is able to forgive. Suppose," said I, "you had killed some one. You were a murderer; you were condemned to die, and you deserved it."
"Faith," said he, "yes I should deserve it."
"Well, her Majesty is very desirous of saving your life, and yet at the same time universal justice demands that someone should die on account of the deed that is done. Now, how is she to manage?"
Said he, "That is the question. I cannot see how she can be inflexibly just, and yet suffer me to escape."
"Well," said I, "suppose, Pat, I should go to her and say, "Here is this poor Irishman, he deserves to be hanged, your Majesty. I don't want to quarrel with the sentence, because I think it just, but, if you please, I so love him that if you were to hang me instead of him should be very willing.
"Pat, suppose she should agree to it, and hang me instead of you, what then? would she be just in letting you go?"
"Ay" said he, "I should think she would. Would she hang two for one thing? I should say not I'd walk away, and there isn't a policeman that would touch me for it."
"Ah!" said I, "that is how Jesus saves. 'Father,' he said, 'I love these poor sinners, let me suffer instead of them!' 'Yes,' said God, 'thou shalt' and on the tree he died, and suffered the punishment which all his elect people ought to have suffered, so that now all who believe on him, thus proving themselves to be his chosen, may conclude that he was punished for them, and that therefore they never can be punished."
"Well," said he, looking me in the face once more, "I understand what you mean; but how is it, if Christ died for all men, that notwithstanding, some men are punished again? For that is unjust."
"Ah!" said I, "I never told you that. I say to you that he has died for all that believe on him, and all who repent, and that was punished for their sins so absolutely and so really, that none of them shall ever be punished again."
"Faith," said the man, clapping his hands, "that's the gospel, if it isn't, then I don't know anything, for no man could have made that up, it is so wonderful. Ah!" he said, as he went down the stairs, "Pat's safe now, with all his sins about him he'll trust in the man that died for him, and so he shall be saved."
Dear hearer, Christ is mighty to save, because God did not turn away the sword, but he sheathed it in his own Son's heart; he did not remit the debt, for it was paid in drops of precious blood, and now the great receipt is nailed to the cross, and our sins with it, so that we may go free if we are believers in him. For this reason he is "mighty to save," in the true sense of the word.