There is hope in the Gospel for any man, so long as he lives.
There is infinite willingness in Christ
to pardon sin. There
is infinite power in the Holy Spirit to
There are many diseases of the body which are incurable. The
cleverest doctors cannot heal them. But, thank God! there are no
incurable diseases of soul. All manner and quantity of sins can
be washed away by Christ. The hardest and most wicked of hearts
can be changed.
Reader, I say again, while there is life there is hope. The
oldest, the vilest, the worst of sinners may be saved. Only let
him come to Christ, confess his sin, and cry to Him for
pardon,—only let him cast his soul on Christ, and he shall be
cured. The Holy Spirit shall be sent down on his heart,
according to Christ's promise, and he shall be changed by His
Almighty power into a new creature.
I never despair of any one becoming a decided Christian,
whatever he may have been in days gone by. I know how great the
change is from death to life; I know the mountains of division
that seem to stand between some men and heaven; I know the
hardness, the prejudices, the desperate sinfulness of the
natural heart; but I remember that God the Father made the
glorious world out of nothing. I remember the voice of the Lord
Jesus could reach Lazarus when four days dead, and recall him
even from the grave; I remember the amazing victories the Spirit
of God has won in every nation under heaven; I remember all
this, and feel that I never need despair. Yes! those very
persons who now seem most utterly dead in sins, may yet be
raised to a new being, and walk before God in newness of life.
Why should it not be so? the Holy Spirit is a mighty, merciful,
and loving Spirit. He turns away from no man because of his
vileness. He passes by no one because his sins are black and
There was nothing in the Corinthians that He should come down
and quicken them. Paul reports of them that they were
"fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, thieves,
covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners." "Such," he says,
"were some of you." Yet even them the Spirit made alive. "Ye are
washed," he writes, "ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the
name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor.
There was nothing in the Colossians that He should visit their
hearts. Paul tells us that they walked in "fornication,
uncleanliness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and
covetousness, which is idolatry." Yet them also the Spirit
quickened. He made them "put off the old man with his deeds, and
put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the
image of Him that created him" (Col. iii. 5-10).
There was nothing in Mary Magdalene that the Spirit should make
her soul alive. Once she had been possessed with seven devils;
time was, if report be true, she had been a woman proverbial for
vileness and iniquity: yet even her the Spirit made a new
creature,—separated her from her sins, —brought her to
Christ,—made her last at the cross, and first at the tomb.
Never, never will the Spirit turn away from a soul because of
its corruption. He never has done so;—He never will. It is His
glory that He has purified the minds of the most impure, and
made them temples for His own abode. He may yet take the worst
of those who read this tract and make him a vessel of grace.
Why indeed should it not be so? The Spirit is an Almighty
Spirit. He can change the stony heart into a heart of flesh; He
can break the strongest bad habits like tow before the fire; He
can make the most difficult things seem easy, and the mightiest
objections melt away like snow in spring; He can cut the bars of
brass, and throw the gates of prejudice wide open; He can fill
up every valley, and make every rough place smooth. He has done
it often, and He can do it again,
The Spirit can take a Jew,—the bitterest enemy of Christianity,
the fiercest persecutor of true believers, the strongest
stickler for Pharisaical notions, the most prejudiced opposer of
Gospel doctrine,—and turn that man into an earnest preacher of
the very faith he once destroyed. He has done it already.—He did
it with the Apostle Paul.
The Spirit can take a Roman Catholic monk, brought up in the
midst of Romish superstition,—trained from his infancy to
believe false doctrine, and obey the Pope, —steeped to the eyes
in error,—and make that man the clearest upholders of
justification by faith the world ever saw; He has done so
already.—He did it with Martin Luther.
The Spirit can take an English tinker, without learning,
patronage, or money,—a man at one time notorious for nothing so
much as blasphemy and swearing,—and make that man write a
religious book, which shall stand unrivalled and unequalled in
its way by any since the time of the Apostles. He has done so
already—He did it with John Bunyan, the author of "Pilgrim's
The Spirit can take a sailor, drenched in worldliness and sin,—a
profligate captain of a slave
ship,—and make that man a most
successful minister of the Gospel; a writer of letters which are
of experimental religion; and of hymns which are known and sung
wherever English is spoken. He has done it already. —He did it
with John Newton.
All this the Spirit has done, and much more, of which I cannot
speak particularly. And the arm of the Spirit is not shortened:
His power is not decayed. He is like the Lord Jesus,—the same
yesterday, today, and forever. He is still doing wonders, and
will do to the very end.
I shall not be surprised to hear, even in this life, that the
hardest man I know has become softened, and the proudest has
taken his place at the feet of Jesus as a weaned child.
I shall not be surprised to meet many on the right hand in the
day of judgment, whom I shall leave, when I die, travelling in
the broad way.
I never despair, because I believe the power of the Holy Ghost.
We ministers might well despair, when we look at our own
performances. We are often sick of ourselves. We might well
despair when we look at some who belong to our congregations;
they seem as hard and insensible as the nether mill-stone: but
we remember the Holy Ghost, and what He has done. We remember
the Holy Ghost, and consider that He has not changed. He can
come down like fire and melt the hardest hearts; He can convert
the worst man or woman among our hearers, and mould their whole
character into a new shape. And so we preach on. We hope because
of the Holy Ghost. Oh, that our hearts would understand that the
progress of true religion depends not on might or on power, but
on the Lord's Spirit! Oh, that many of them would learn to lean
less on ministers, and to pray more for the Holy Spirit! Oh,
that all would learn to expect less from schools, and tracts,
and ecclesiastical machinery; and, while using all means
diligently, would seek more earnestly for the outpouring of the
Reader, do you feel the slightest drawing towards God?—the
smallest concern about your immortal soul? Does your conscience
tell you this day that you have not yet felt the Spirit's power,
and do you want to know what to do? Listen, and I will tell you.
For one thing, you must go at once to the Lord Jesus Christ in
prayer, and beseech Him to have mercy on you, and send you the
Spirit. You must go direct to that open fountain of living
waters, the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall receive the Holy
Ghost (John vii. 39). Begin at once to pray for the Holy Spirit.
Think not you are shut up and cut off from hope: the Holy Ghost
is promised to them that ask Him. His very name is the Spirit of
Promise, and the Spirit of Life. Give Him no rest till He comes
down and makes you a new heart. Cry mightily unto the Lord,—say
unto Him, "Bless me, even me also: quicken me, and make me
I dare not, for my part, send anxious souls to any one but
Christ. I cannot hold with those who tell men to pray for the
Holy Spirit in the first place, in order that they may go to
Christ in the second place. I see no warrant of Scripture for
saying so. I only see that if men feel they are needy, perishing
sinners, they ought to apply, first and foremost, straight and
direct to Jesus Christ. I see that He himself says, "If any man
thirst, let him come unto Me and drink" (John vii. 37). I know
that it is written, "He hath received gifts for men, yea for the
rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them" (Ps.
lxviii. 18). I know it is His special office to baptize with the
Holy Ghost, and that "in Him all fulness dwells." I dare not
pretend to be more systematic than the Bible. I believe that
Christ is the meeting-place between God and the soul: and my
first advice to any one who wants the Spirit, must always be, "go
to Jesus, and tell your wants to Him."
For another thing, if you have not yet felt the converting power
of the Spirit, you must be diligent in attending those means of
grace through which the Spirit works. You must regularly hear
that Word which is His sword; you must habitually attend those
assemblies where His presence is promised; you must, in short,
be found in the
way cf the Spirit, if
you want the Spirit to do you good. Blind Bartimeus would never
have received sight had he sat lazily at home, and not come
forth to sit by the way- side. Zaccheus might never have seen
Jesus, and become a son of Abraham, if he had not ran before and
climbed up into the sycamore tree. The Spirit is a loving and
good Spirit. But
he who despises means of grace,
resists the Holy Ghost.
Reader, remember these two things. I firmly believe that no man
ever acted honestly and perseveringly on these two pieces of
advice, who did not, sooner or later, have the Spirit, and find
by experience that He is "mighty to save."