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Sermon #1562 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
HARVEST PAST, SUMMER ENDED, AND MEN UNSAVED
DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 17, 1880,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
THIS is a very mournful chapter, especially if we include in it, as we rightly should, the first verse of the ninth chapter: “O that my head were waters.” The passage is full of lamentation and woe and yet it is somewhat amazing that the chief mourner is not one who was likely to be in trouble. Jeremiah was under the special protection of God and he escaped in the evil day. Even when Nebuchadnezzar was exercising his utmost rage, Jeremiah was in no danger, for the heart of the fierce monarch was kindly towards him. “Now Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard, saying, take him and look well to him and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto you.” The man of God who had least cause, personally, to mourn, was filled with heavy grief— while the people who were about to lose their all and to lose their lives, remained but half awakened—complaining, but not repenting—afraid, but not yet humbled before God. None of them uttered such a grievous lament as that which came from the heart and mouth of the Prophet. Their heads were full of idle dreams, while his had become waters. Their eyes were full of wantonness, while his were a fountain of tears. He loved them better than they loved themselves. Is it not strange that it should be so—that the physician should be more anxious than the sick?
Perhaps, however, it is not so amazing that the shepherd should care more for the flock than the sheep care for themselves. When the sheep are men, it is certainly an unreasonable thing! The weeping Prophet cries, “For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt!” He was more hurt than they were. A preacher whom God sends will often feel more care for the souls of men than men feel for themselves or their own salvation. Is it not sad that there should be an anxious pain in the heart of one who is himself saved, while those who are unsaved and are obliged to acknowledge it, feel little or no concern? To see a man in jeopardy of his life and all around him alarmed for his danger while he, himself, is half asleep, is a sad sight.
See yonder man, about to be condemned to die, standing at the bar? The judge putting on the black cap is scarcely able to pronounce the sentence for emotion and all around him in the court break down with distress on his account—while the condemned is bronze-faced and feels no more than the floor he stands upon! How hardened he has become! Pity is lost upon him, if pity ever can be lost. Such a sad sight we constantly see in our congregations—those who are “condemned already” on account of sin are altogether indifferent to their awful peril—while their godly parents are greatly distressed for them! Christian people are pleading with them and earnest messengers from God expostulating with them! Heaven and earth are moved for them and yet they are unaffected!
Oh that it might not be so here this morning! May none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. May God in His infinite mercy strike the rock and make the waters of penitence to gush out from it! May His transforming hand turn stone into flesh and cause a holy tenderness to banish all stubbornness and insensibility! Such is my agonizing cry to the Holy Spirit. Certainly there ought to be dismay and even terror in the heart of any who are compelled to use my text in reference to themselves. Those few words, “We are not saved!” sound like a peal of thunder!
Volume 26 www.spurgeongems.org 1 2 Harvest Past, Summer Ended, and Men Unsaved Sermon #1562 They should cut the soul as with a case of knives—“We are not saved!” What worse thing can men say of themselves? We are now under the abiding wrath of God, for “we are not saved!” We must soon stand before the Judgment Seat of God and then we shall be condemned by the great Judge, for “we are not saved!” We shall, before long, be driven from His Presence and from the glory of His power, for “we are not saved!” We shall then be shut out in outer darkness where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, for “we are not saved!” Had men but reason, or having reason would they but use it upon the most important of all subjects, surely they would cry out in the bitterness of their souls, “Oh that our heads were water and our eyes fountains of tears, that we might weep day and night till we had found our Savior and He had washed away our sins and saved us!” How saddening to see the loaded wagons of harvest bearing no real blessing to us and to watch the clusters on the vine ripen all unblessed! Alas for that summer which amid all its flowers yields us no perfume of peace or joy!
On the other hand, my Brothers and Sisters, how blessed to feel that the harvest is past and the summer is ended and, blessed be God, we are saved! Now let winter come with all its blasts—we have nothing to fear—for wrapped in our Savior’s righteousness and hidden in the cleft of His side, we shall outlive every storm! I earnestly pray the Lord to bless the words I am about to speak, that they may be rendered useful to many undecided persons to lead them to decision and induce them to give themselves up to Christ at once. May the Holy Spirit work this blessed result in thousands! I have so long been silent that I am hungering to speak with power.
Come Holy Spirit! Come!
First, I shall look at the text as a complaint—“We are not saved.” And, secondly, I shall suggest that out of it ought to come consideration—those who utter the complaint should be led, thereby, to solemn consideration.
I. First, we have before us the language of COMPLAINT. These Jews said, “The seasons are going by, the year is spending itself, the harvest is past, the vintage, also, is ended and yet we are not saved.” Some of them were captives in Babylon and they fondly expected to be brought back from the distant land, but they were disappointed. They hoped that when the produce of the Nile had been reaped, Egyptian troops would march against Nebuchadnezzar and break his power.
Others of them had fled into the defended cities and taken refuge behind the walls of Jerusalem and they, also, dreamed that the march of the Chaldeans would be stopped and the land would be delivered from their invasion as soon as the summer heat was over. The rescue did not come.
Indeed, they could hear from Jerusalem the neighing of the Babylonian horses—“The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come and have devoured the land and all that is in it; the city and those that dwell therein.” Therefore they complained that their hopes had failed. In effect they complained of God—that He had not saved them—as if He was under some obligation to have done so! They complained as if they had a kind of claim upon Him to interpose and so they spoke as if they were an ill-used people, a nation that had been neglected by their Protector. The farmers had gathered in the harvest and vinedressers had gleaned the grapes, yet they had not been cared for, but left to suffer—in spite of all their hopes, they were not saved.
Certain persons fall into the same state of mind in these days. They know that they are not saved, but they do not blame themselves for it! The fault lies—they would not like to say where it lies—but they will not admit that it lies in themselves. They are not saved and somebody should be blamed for it, or perhaps nobody, but they mention the fact, not as a confession of which they are ashamed, but as a misfortune for which they are to be pitied! This complaint was a very unjust one of the Jews, for there were many reasons why they were not saved and why God had not delivered them. The first was they had looked to the wrong quarter—they expected that the Egyptians would deliver them.
2 www.spurgeongems.org Volume 26 Sermon #1562 Harvest Past, Summer Ended, and Men Unsaved 3 You remember that in the reign of Zedekiah the Jews revolted from their subjection to the Babylonians because they hoped that the king of Egypt would come up and fight with the Babylonian power. Those who were captives hoped that the great armies of the Pharaohs might break down the might of Chaldea and so they looked to Egypt for help—an old fault with Israel and a gross folly—for why should they look to the house of bondage for succor? The same folly dwells in multitudes of men. They are not saved and they never will be while they continue to look where they look! All dependence upon ourselves is looking to Egypt for help and leaning our weight upon a broken reed.
Whether that dependence upon self takes the form of relying upon ceremonies, or depending upon prayers, or trusting in our own attempts to improve ourselves morally, it is still the same proud folly of self-dependence. Vain is all searching for legal righteousness, hoping to merit something from God, or to do something without help from on high—for the Lord, Himself, has assured us that by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified! My Friend, you may have been very earnest and serious about Divine things, but if you have looked, in any measure or degree, to what you are, or can do, or what any man can do for you, it is no wonder that you are not saved, for there is no salvation except in Christ!
I am afraid some think that it is a great thing to sit under a faithful minister—that if the Gospel is thoroughly preached they may, naturally, expect that if they take a seat at the place they will be saved. But all dependence upon ministers is only another form of superstitious confidence in priestcraft! All trust but that which is found in Jesus is a delusion and a falsehood! No man can help you. Though Noah, Samuel and Moses prayed for you, their prayers could not avail unless you believed in the blood of Jesus—there is salvation nowhere else! Though the whole Church were to unite in one protracted intercession and determine that all its ministers should preach to only you for the next seven years, there would be no more hope of your being saved, then, than now, unless you would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is the salvation of the sons of men.
The most fruitful of harvests may pass and the most genial of summers may smile upon you, but while you look to yourself, no sunshine from God shall cause you to flourish. Eternal barrenness is the portion of those who trust in man and make flesh their arm. While men go about to establish their own righteousness and will not submit themselves to the righteousness of Christ, they shall be like the woman who spent all her living upon physicians and was no better, but rather grew worse. Those people had prided themselves upon their outward privileges—they had presumed upon their favored position, for they say in the 19th verse, “Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her king in her?” Because they belonged to the chosen nation; because the Lord had entrusted them with the sacred Oracles and manifested Himself to their fathers, therefore they thought that they might sin with impunity and reckoned upon being delivered in the day of danger.
I do not know how many of you, here, may be depending upon outward religiousness, or indulging some kind of thought that apart from your personal faith in Christ, you will be saved by your pious connections and hallowed relationships. But if that is what you are depending upon, rest assured you will be deceived! Vain are the baptism or the confirmation of your youth—faith in Jesus is the one thing necessary! Vain is the fact that you were born of Christian parents—you must be born again! Vain is your sitting as God’s people sit and standing as they stand in the solemn service of the sanctuary—your heart must be changed! Vain is your observance of the Lord’s Day and vain your Bible reading and your form of night and morning prayer unless you are washed in Jesus’ blood! Vain are all things without living faith in the living Jesus!
Though you had been descended from an unbroken line of saints; though you had no unconverted relatives, your ancestry and lineage would not do you any good—the sons of God are born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God. All the external Volume 26 www.spurgeongems.org 3 4 Harvest Past, Summer Ended, and Men Unsaved Sermon #1562 privileges that can be heaped upon you, though you had sermons piled up and Gospel services heaped on them—as the giants piled mountain upon mountain, Pelion upon Ossa that they might climb to Heaven, would be useless—there is no reaching to salvation by such means. If your reliance is upon external ordinances, or professions, or privileges in any measure or degree—no wonder that the harvest is past and the summer is ended and you are not saved—you will never be saved till doomsday while you look in that direction. Look like sinners to your Savior and you shall be saved, but no other way.
Thirdly, there was another and very powerful reason why these people were not saved, for, with all their religiousness and their national boast as to God’s being among them, they had continued in provoking the Lord. He says in the 19th verse, “Why have they provoked Me to anger with their graven images and with strange vanities?” They lived in sin, disobeying God to His face! They set up new idols and imported false deities from foreign lands and yet they said, “We are not saved.” Would they have the Lord sanction their degrading idolatry by sending them deliverance? Do you know a man who goes frequently into ill company and gets intoxicated and yet comes to hear the Gospel and murmurs that he is not saved? Is he not mad? Let me speak plainly to him. Do you think that you are going to Heaven to reel about the holy streets? Shall the pure heavens be polluted by your profanities? You are dreadfully mistaken if you fancy so!