Free Will – A Slave

by C. H. Spurgeon

A sermon delivered Sunday morning, December 2, 1855, at New Park

Street Chapel, London, England.

`And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life’ (John 5:40).

This is one of the great guns of the Arminians, mounted upon

the top of their walls, and often discharged with terrible noise

against the poor Christians called Calvinists. I intend to spike

the gun this morning, or, rather, to turn it on the enemy, for it

was never theirs; it was never cast at their foundry at all, but

was intended to teach the very opposite doctrine to which they


Usually, when the text is taken, the divisions are: First,

that man has a will. Secondly, that he is entirely free.

Thirdly, that men must make themselves will to come to Christ,

otherwise they will not be saved. Now, we shall have no such

divisions; but we will endeavor to take a more calm look at the

text; and not, because there happen to be the words `will,’ or

`will not’ in it, run away with the conclusion that it teaches the

doctrine of free will.

Free Will Is Simply Ridiculous

It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free

will is nonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more than

ponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogether

different things. Free agency we may believe in, but free will is

simply ridiculous. The will is well known by all to be directed by

the understanding, to be moved by motives, to be guided by other

parts of the soul, and to be a secondary thing.

Philosophy and religion both discard at once the very thought

of free will; and I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strong

assertion of his, where he says, `If any man doth ascribe of

salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth

nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.’ It

may seem a harsh sentiment; but he who in his soul believes that

man does of his own free will turn to God, cannot have been taught

of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God

begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that he

gives both; that he is `Alpha and Omega’ in the salvation of men.


Our four points, this morning, shall be, – First, that every

man is dead, because it says, `Ye will not come unto me that ye

might have life.’ Secondly, that there is life in Jesus Christ –

`Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.’ Thirdly, that

there is life in Christ Jesus for every one that comes for it – `Ye

will not come unto me that ye might have life,’ implying that all

who go will have life. And fourthly, the gist of the text lies

here, that no man by nature ever will come to Christ, for the text

says, `Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.’ So far

from asserting that men of their own wills ever do such a thing, it

boldly and flatly denies it, and says, ‘Ye WILL NOT come unto me

that ye might have life.’ Why, beloved, I am almost ready to

exclaim, Have all free willers no knowledge that they dare to run

in the teeth of inspiration? Have all those that deny the doctrine

of grace no sense? Have they so departed from God that they wrest

this to prove free will, whereas the text says, `Ye WILL NOT come

unto me that ye might have life.’

No Life In Death

I. First, then, our text implies THAT MEN BY NATURE ARE DEAD.

No being needs to go after life if he has life in himself. The

text speaks very strongly when it says, `Ye will not come unto me,

that ye might have live.’ Though it saith it not in words yet it

doth in effect affirm that men need a life more than they have

themselves. My hearers, we are all dead unless we have been

begotten unto a lively hope.

Legal Death – Condemnation

First, we are all of us, by nature legally dead: – `In the day

that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die the death,’ said God to

Adam; and though Adam did not die in that moment naturally, he died

legally; that is to say death was recorded against him. As soon

as, at the Old Bailey, the judge puts on the black cap and

pronounces the sentence, the man is reckoned to be dead at law.

Though perhaps a month may intervene before he is brought on the

scaffold to endure the sentence of the law, yet the law looks upon

him as a dead man. It is impossible for him to transact anything.

He cannot inherit, he cannot bequeath; he is nothing – he is a dead

man. The country considers him not as being alive in it at all.

There is an election – he is not asked for his vote because he is

considered as dead. He is shut up in his condemned cell and he is

dead. Ah! and ye ungodly sinners who have never had life in

Christ, ye are alive this morning, by reprieve, but do ye know that

ye are legally dead; that God considers you as such, that in the

day when your father Adam touched the fruit, and when you

yourselves did sin, God, the Eternal Judge, put on the black cap

and condemned you? You talk mightily of your own standing, and

goodness, and morality: – where is it? Scripture saith, ye are

`condemned already.’ Ye are not to wait to be condemned at the

judgment-day – that will be the execution of the sentence: – `ye

are condemned already.’ In the moment ye sinned; your names were

all written in the black book of justice; every one was then

sentenced by God to death, unless he found a substitute, in the

person of Christ, for his sins.

What would you think if you were to go into the Old Bailey,

and see the condemned culprit sitting in his cell, laughing and

merry? You would say, `The man is a fool, for he is condemned, and

is to be executed; yet how merry he is.’ Ah! and how foolish is

the worldly man, who, while sentence is recorded against him, lives

in merriment and mirth! Do you think the sentence of God is of no

effect? Thinkest thou that thy sin which is written with an iron

pen on the rocks for ever hath no horrors in it? God hath said

thou art condemned already. If thou wouldst but feel this, it

would mingle bitters in thy sweet cups of joy; thy dances would be

stopped, thy laughter quenched in sighing, if thou wouldst

recollect that thou art condemned already. We ought all to weep,

if we lay this to our soul: that by nature we have no life in God’s

sight; we are actually, positively condemned; death is recorded

against us, and we are considered in ourselves now, in God’s sight,

as much dead as if we were actually cast into hell; we are

condemned here by sin, we do not yet suffer the penalty of it, but

it is written against us and we are legally dead, nor can we find

life unless we find legal life in the person of Christ, of which

more by and by.

Spiritual Death – A Walking Corpse

But besides being legally dead, we are also spiritually dead.

For not only did the sentence pass in the book, but it passed in

the heart; it entered the conscience; it operated on the soul, on

the judgment, on the imagination, and on everything. `In the day

thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,’ was not only fulfilled

by the sentence recorded, but by something which took place in

Adam. Just as, in a certain moment, when this body shall die, the

blood stops, the pulse ceases, the breath no longer comes from the

lungs, so in the day that Adam did eat that fruit his soul died;

his imagination lost its mighty power to climb into celestial

things and see heaven, his will lost its power always to choose

that which is good, his judgment lost all ability to judge between

right and wrong decidedly and infallibly, though something was

retained in conscience; his memory became tainted, liable to hold

evil things, and let righteous things glide away; every power of

him ceased as to its moral vitality. Goodness was the vitality of

his power – that departed. Virtue, holiness, integrity, these were

the life of man; and when these departed man became dead. And now,

every man, so far as spiritual things are concerned, is `dead in

trespasses and sins,’ spiritually. Nor is the soul less dead in a

carnal man, than the body is when committed to the grave; it is

actually and positively dead – not by a metaphor for Paul speaketh

not in metaphor, when he affirms, `You hath he quickened who were

dead in trespasses and sins.’

But my hearers, again, I would I could preach to your hearts

concerning this subject. It was bad enough when I described death

as having been recorded; but now I speak of it as having actually

taken place in your hearts. Ye are not what ye once were; ye are

not what ye were in Adam, not what ye were created. Man was made

pure and holy. Ye are not the perfect creatures of which some

boast; ye are altogether fallen, ye have gone out of the way, ye

have become corrupt and filthy. Oh! listen not to the syren song

of those who tell you of your moral dignity, and your mighty

elevation in matters of salvation. Ye are not perfect; that great

word, `ruin,’ is written on your heart; and death is stamped upon

your spirit.

Do not conceive, O moral man, that thou wilt be able to stand

before God in thy morality, for thou art nothing but a carcass

embalmed in legality, a corpse arrayed in some fine robes, but

still corrupt in God’s sight. And think not, O thou possessor of

natural religion! that thou mayest by thine own might and power

make thyself acceptable to God. Why, man! thou art dead! and

thou mayest array the dead as gloriously as thou pleasest, but

still it would be a solemn mockery. There lieth queen Cleopatra –

put the crown upon her head, deck her in royal robes, let her sit

in state; but what a cold chill runs through you when you pass by

her. She is fair now, even in her death – but how horrible it is

to stand by the side even of a dead queen, celebrated for her

majestic beauty! So you may be glorious in your beauty, fair, and

amiable, and lovely; you put the crown of honesty upon your head,

and wear about you all the garments of uprightness, but unless God

has quickened thee, O man! unless the Spirit has had dealings with

thy soul, thou art in God’s sight as obnoxious as the chilly corpse

is to thyself. Thou wouldst not choose to live with a corpse

sitting at thy table: no doth God love that thou shouldst be in

his sight. He is angry with thee every day, for thou art in sin –

thou art in death. Oh! believe this; take it to thy soul;

appropriate it, for it is most true that thou art dead, spiritually

as well as legally.

Eternal Death – Hell

The third kind of death is the consummation of the other two.

It is eternal death. It is the execution of the legal sentence; it

is the consummation of the spiritual death. Eternal death is the

death of the soul; it takes place after the body has been laid in

the grave, after the soul has departed from it. If legal doth be

terrible, it is because of its consequences; and if spiritual death

be dreadful, it is because of that which shall succeed it. The two

deaths of which we have spoken are the roots, and that death which

is to come is the flower thereof.

Oh! had I words that I might this morning attempt to depict

to you what eternal death is. The soul has come before its Maker;

the book has been opened; the sentence has been uttered; `Depart ye

cursed’ has shaken the universe, and made the very spheres dim with

the frown of the Creator; the soul has departed to the depths where

it is to dwell with others in eternal death. Oh! how horrible is

its position now. Its bed is a bed of flame; the sights it sees

are murdering ones that affright its spirit; the sounds it hears

are shrieks, and wails, and moans, and groans; all that its body

knows is the infliction of miserable pain! it has the possession

of unutterable woe, of unmitigated misery. The soul looks downward

in dread and fear; remorse hath possessed its soul. It looks on

the right hand – and the adamantine walls of fate keep it within

its limits of torture. It looks on the left – and there the

rampart of blazing fire forbids the scaling ladder of e’en a dreamy

speculation of escape. It looks within and seeks for consolation

there, but a gnawing worm hath entered into the soul. It looks

about it – it has no friends to aid, no comforters, but tormentors

in abundance. It knoweth noght of hope of deliverance; it hath

heard the everlasting key of destiny turning in its awful wards,

and it hath seen God take that key and hurl it down into the depth

of eternity never to be found again. It hopeth not; it knoweth no

escape, it guesseth not of deliverance; it pants for death, but

death is too much its foe to be there; it longs that non-existence

would swallow it up, but this eternal death is worse than

annihilation. It pants for extermination as the laborer for his

Sabbath; it longs that it might be swallowed up in nothingness just

as would the galley slave long for freedom, but it cometh not – it

is eternally dead. When eternity shall have rolled round

multitudes of its everlasting cycles it should still be dead. For-

ever knoweth no end; eternity cannot be spelled except in eternity.

Still the soul seeth written o’er its head, `Thou art damned

forever.’ It heareth howlings that are to be perpetual; it seeth

flames which are unquenchable; it knoweth pains that are

unmitigated; it hears a sentence that rolls not like the thunder of

earth which soon is hushed – but onward, onward, onward, shaking

the echoes of eternity – making thousands of years shake again with

the horrid thunder of its dreadful sound – `Depart! depart!

depart ye cursed!’ This is true eternal death.

Life in Christ

II. Secondly, IN CHRIST JESUS THERE IS LIFE, for the says, `ye

will not come unto me that ye may have life.’ There is no life in

God the Father for a sinner; there is no life in God the Spirit for

a sinner apart from Jesus. The life of a sinner is in Christ. If

you take the Father apart from the Son, though he loves his elect,

and decreed that they shall live, yet life is only in his Son. If

you take God the Spirit apart from Jesus Christ, though it is the

Spirit that gives us spiritual life, yet is is life in Christ, life

in the Son. We dare not, and cannot apply in the first place,

either to God the Father, or to God the Holy Ghost for spiritual

life. The first thing we are led to do when God brings us out of

Egypt is to eat the Passover – the very first thing. The first

means whereby we get life is by feeding upon the flesh and blood of

the Son of God; living in him, trusting on him, believing in his

grace and power.

Our second thought was – there is life in Christ. We will

show you there are three kinds of life in Christ, as there are

three kinds of death.

Legal Life – No Condemnation

First there is legal life in Christ. Just as every man by

nature considered in Adam had a sentence of condemnation passed on

him in the moment of Adam’s sin, and more especially in the moment

of his won first transgression, so I, if I be a believer, and you,

if you trust in Christ, have had a legal sentence of acquittal

passed on us through what Jesus Christ has done. O condemned

sinner! thou mayest be sitting this morning condemned like the

prisoner in Newgate; but ere this day has passed away thou mayest

be as clear from guilt as the angels above. There is such a thing

as legal life in Christ, and, blessed be God! some of us enjoy it.

We know our sins are pardoned because Christ suffered punishment

for them; we know that we never can be punished ourselves for

Christ suffered in our stead. The Passover is slain for us; the

lintel and door-post have been sprinkled, and the destroying angel

can never touch us. For us there is no hell, although it blaze

with terrible flame. Let Tophet be prepared of old, let its pile

be wood and much smoke, we never can come there – Christ died for

us, in our stead. What if there be racks of horrid torture? what

if there be a sentence producing horrible reverberations of

thundering sounds? yet neither rack, nor dungeon, nor thunder, are

for us! In Christ Jesus we are now delivered. `There is,

therefore, NOW no condemnation unto us who are in Christ Jesus, who

walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’

Sinner! art thou legally condemned this morning? Dost thou

feel that? Then, let me tell thee that faith in Christ will give

thee a knowledge of thy legal acquittal. Beloved, it is no fancy

that we are condemned for our sins, it is a reality. So, it is no

fancy we are acquitted, it is a reality. A man about to be hanged,

if he received a full pardon would feel it a great reality. He

would say, `I have a full pardon, I cannot be touched now.’ That

is just how I feel.

`Now freed from sin I walk at large,

The Saviour’s blood’s my full discharge,

At his dear feet content I lay,

A sinner saved, and homage pay.’

Brethren, we have gained legal life in Christ, and such legal

life that we cannot lose it. The sentence has gone against us once

-now it has gone out for us. It is written, `THERE IS NOW NO

CONDEMNATION,’ and that now will do as well for me in fifty years

as it does now. Whatever time we live it will still be written,

`There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in

Christ Jesus.’

Spiritual Life – A Corpse Made Alive

Then, secondly, there is spiritual life in Christ Jesus. As

the man is spiritually dead, God has spiritual life for him, for

there is not a need which is not supplied by Jesus, there is not an

emptiness in the heart which Christ cannot fill; there is not a

desolation which he cannot people, there is not a desert which he

cannot make to blossom as the rose. O ye dead sinners!

spiritually dead, there is life in Christ Jesus, for we have seen –

yes! these eyes have seen -the dead live again; we have known the

man whose views were carnal, whose lusts were mighty, whose

passions were strong, suddenly, by irresistible might from heaven,

consecrate himself to Christ, and become a child of Jesus. We know

that there is life in Christ Jesus, of a spiritual order; yea,

more, we ourselves, in our own persons, have felt that there

spiritual life. Well can we remember when we sat in the house of

prayer, as dead as the very seat on which we sat. We had listened

for a long, long while to the sound of the gospel, but no effect

followed, when suddenly, as if our ears had been opened by the

fingers of some mighty angel, a sound entered into our heart. We

thought we heard Jesus saying, `He that hath ears to hear, let him

hear.’ An irresistible hand put itself on our heart and crushed a

prayer out of it. We never had a prayer before like that. We

cried, `O God! have mercy upon me a sinner.’

Some of us for months felt a hand pressing us as if we had

been grasped in a vice, and our souls bled drops of anguish. That

misery was a sign of coming life. Persons when they are being

drowned do not feel the pain so much as while they are being

restored. Oh! we can recollect the giving of our spiritual life

as easily as could a man his restoration from the grave.

We can suppose Lazarus to have remembered his resurrection,

though not all the circumstances of it. So we, although we have

forgotten a great deal, do recollect our giving ourselves to

Christ. We can say to every sinner, however dead, there is life in

Christ Jesus, though you may be rotten and corrupt in your grave.

He who hath raised Lazarus hath raised us; and he can say, even to

you, `Lazarus! come forth.’

Eternal Life – Never Lost

In the third place, there is eternal life in Christ Jesus.

And, oh! if eternal death be terrible, eternal life is blessed;

for he has said, `Where I am there shall my people be.’ `Father,

I will, that they also, whom thou hast given unto me, be with me

where I am, that they may behold my glory.’ `I give unto my sheep

eternal life, and they shall never perish.’ Now, any Arminian that

would preach from that text must buy a pair of India rubber lips,

for I am sure he would need to stretch his mouth amazingly; he

would never be able to speak the whole truth without winding about

in a most mysterious manner. Eternal life – not a life which they

are to lose, but eternal life. If I lost life in Adam I gained it

in Christ; if I lost myself for ever I find myself for ever in

Jesus Christ. Eternal life! Oh blessed thought! Our eyes will

sparkle with joy and our souls burn with ecstasy in the thought

that my soul will live in bliss and joy. Put out thine eye O sun! –

but mine eye shall `see the king in his beauty’ when thine eye

shall no more make the green earth laugh. And moon, be thou turned

into blood! – but my blood shall ne’er be turned to nothingness;

this spirit shall exist when thou hast ceased to be. And thou great

world! thou mayest all subside, just as a moment’s’s foam subsides

upon the wave that bears it – but I shall have eternal life. O

time! thou mayest see giant mountains dead and hidden in their

graves; thou mayest see the stars like figs too ripe, falling from

the tree; but thou shalt never, never see my spirit dead.

God Saves all Who Come

III. This brings us to the third point: that ETERNAL LIFE IS GIVEN

TO ALL WHO COME FOR IT. There never was a man who came to Christ

for eternal life, for legal life, for spiritual life, who had not

already received it, in some sense, and it was manifested to him

that he had received it soon after he came. Let us take one or two

texts: – `He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto

him.’ Every man who comes to Christ will find that Christ is able

to save him – not able to save him a little, to deliver him from a

little sin, to keep him from a little trial, to carry him a little

way and then drop him -but able to save him to the uttermost extent

of his sin, unto the uttermost length of his trials, the uttermost

depths of his sorrows, unto the uttermost duration of his

existence. Christ says to every one who comes to him, `Come, poor

sinner, thou needst not ask whether I have power to save. I will

not ask thee how far thou hast gone into sin; I am able to save

thee to the uttermost.”

Only The Chosen Will Come

Now another text: `Him that cometh to me, (mark the promises

are nearly always to the coming ones) I will in no wise cast out.’

Every man that comes shall find the door of Christ’s house opened –

I say it in the broadest sense – shall find that Christ has mercy

for him. The greatest absurdity in the world is Christ has mercy

for him. The greatest absurdity in the world is to want to have a

wider gospel than that recorded in Scripture. I preach that every

man that believes shall be saved – that every man who comes shall

find mercy. People ask me, `But suppose a man should come who was

not chosen, would he be saved?’ You go and suppose nonsense and I

am not going to give you an answer. If a man is not chosen he will

never come. When he does come it is a sure proof that he was

chosen. Says one, `Suppose any one should go to Christ who had not

been called of the Spirit.’ Stop, my brother, that is a

supposition thou hast no right to make, for such a thing cannot

happen; you only say it to entangle me, and you will not do that

just yet. I say every man who comes to Christ shall be saved. I

can say it. I have no narrower gospel than you have; only my

gospel is on a solid foundation, whereas yours is built upon

nothing but sand and rottenness. `Every man that cometh shall be

saved, for no man cometh to me except the Father draw him.’

`But,’ says one, `suppose all the world should come, would Christ

receive them?’ Certainly, if all came; but then they won’t come.

I tell you all that come – aye, if they were as bad as devils,

Christ would receive them; if they had all sin and

filthiness running into their hearts as into a common sewer for the

whole world, Christ would receive them.

Universal Atonement A Lie

Another says, `I want to know about the rest of the people.

May I go out and tell them – Jesus Christ died for every one of

you? May I say – there is life for every one of you?’ No; you may

not. You may say – there is life for every man that comes. But if

you say there is life for one of those that do not believe, you

utter a dangerous lie. If you tell them Jesus Christ was punished

for their sins, and yet they will be lost, you tell a willful

falsehood. To think that God could punish Christ and then punish

them – I wonder at your daring to have the impudence to say so! A

good man was once preaching that there were harps and crowns in

heaven for all his congregation; and then he wound up in a most

solemn manner: `My dear friends, there are many for whom these

things are prepared who will not get there.’ In fact, he made such

a pitiful tale, as indeed he might do; but I tell you who he ought

to have wept for – he ought to have wept for the angels of heaven

and all the saints, because that would spoil heaven thoroughly.

You know when you meet at Christmas, if you have lost your

brother David and his seat is empty, you say: `Well, we always

enjoyed Christmas, but there is a drawback to it now – poor David

is dead and buried!’ Think of the angels saying: `Ah! this is a

beautiful heaven, but we don’t like to see all those crowns up

there with cobwebs on; we cannot endure that uninhabited street:

we cannot behold yon empty thrones.’ And then, poor souls, they

might begin talking to one another, and say, `we are none of us

safe here for the promise was – “I give unto my sheep eternal

life,” and there is a lot of them in hell that God gave eternal

life to; there is a number that Christ shed his blood for burning

in the pit, and if they may be sent there, so may we. If we cannot

trust one promise we cannot another.’ So heaven would lose its

foundation, and fall. Away with your nonsensical gospel! God

gives us a safe and solid one, built on covenant doings and

covenant relationships, on eternal purposes and sure fulfillments.

No Man Wills To Come

IV. This brings us to the fourth point, THAT BY NATURE NO MAN WILL

COME TO CHRIST, for the text says, `Ye will not come unto me, that

ye might have life.’ I assert on Scripture authority from my text,

that ye will not come unto Christ, that ye might have life. I tell

you, I might preach to you for ever, I might borrow the eloquence

of Demosthenes or of Cicero, but ye will not come unto Christ. I

might beg of you on my knees, with tears in my eyes, and show you

the horrors of hell and the joys of heaven, the sufficiency of

Christ, and your own lost condition, but you would none of you come

unto Christ of yourselves unless the Spirit that rested on Christ

should draw you. It is true of all men in their natural condition

that they will not come unto Christ.

But methinks I hear another of these babblers asking a

question: `But could they not come if they liked?’ My friend, I

will reply to thee another time. That is not the question this

morning. I am talking about whether they will, not whether they

can. You will notice whenever you talk about free will, the poor

Arminian, in two seconds begins to talk about power, and he mixes

up two subjects that should be kept apart. We will not take two

subjects at once; we decline fighting two at the same time, if you

please. Another day we will preach from this text: – `No man can

come except the Father draw him.’ But it is only the will we are

talking about now; and it is certain that men will not come unto

Christ, that they might have life.

We might prove this from many texts of Scripture, but we will

take one parable. You remember the parable where a certain king

had a feast for his son, and bade a great number to come; the oxen

and fatlings were killed, and he sent his messengers bidding many

to the supper. Did they go to the feast? Ah, no; but they all,

with one accord began to make excuse. One said he had married a

wife, and therefore he could not come, whereas he mighty have

brought her with him. Another had bought a yoke of oxen, and went

to prove them; but the feast was in the night-time, and he could

not prove his oxen in the dark. Another had bought a piece of

land, and wanted to see it; but I should not think he went to see

it with a lantern. So they all made excuses and would not come.

Well the king was determined to have the feast; so he said, `Go

into the highways and hedges, and’ invite them – stop! not invite

  • `compel them to come in,’ for even the ragged fellows in the

hedges would never have come unless they were compelled.

Take another parable: A certain man had a vineyard; at the

appointed season he sent one of his servants for his rent. What

did they do to him? They beat that servant. He sent another; and

they stoned him. He sent another and they killed him. And, at

last, he said, `I will send them my son, they will reverence him.’

But what did they do? They said, `This is the heir, let us kill

him, and cast him out of the vineyard.’ So they did. It is the

same with all men by nature. The Son of God came, yet men rejected

him. `Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.’

The Fall – How Far?

It would take too much time to mention any more Scripture

proofs. We will, however, refer to the great doctrine of the fall.

Any one who believes that man’s will is entirely free, and that he

can be saved by it, does not believe the fall. As I sometimes tell

you, few preachers of religion do believe thoroughly the doctrine

of the fall, or else they think that when Adam fell down he broke

his little finger, and did not break his neck and ruin his race.

Why, beloved, the fall broke man up entirely. It did not leave one

power unimpaired; they were all shattered, and debased, and

tarnished; like some mighty temple, the pillars might be there, the

shaft, and the column, and the pilaster might be there; but they

were all broken, though some of them retain their form and

position. The conscience of man sometimes retains much of its

tenderness – still it has fallen. The will, too, is not except.

What though it is `the Lord Mayor of Mansoul,’ as Bunyan calls it?

  • the Lord Mayor goes wrong. The Lord Will-be-will was continually

doing wrong.

Your fallen nature was put out of order; your will, amongst

other things, has clean gone astray from God. But I tell you what

will be the best proof of that; it is the great fact that you never

did meet a Christian in your life who ever said he came to Christ

without Christ coming to him.

No `Free Will’ Prayers

You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say; but

you never heard an Arminian prayer – for the saints in prayer

appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees

would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free

will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying, `Lord, I thank

thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was

born with a glorious free will; I was born with power by which I

can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody

had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have

been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are

not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not

improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much

bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the

Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as

much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us differ; I

know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of

what was given me, and others did not – that is the difference

between me and them.’

That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer

such a prayer as that. Ah! when they are preaching and talking

very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to

pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man

talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes

to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born,

slips out.

I ask you again, did you ever meet a Christian man who said `I

came to Christ without the power of the Spirit?’ If you ever did

meet such a man, you need have no hesitation in saying, `My dear

sir, I quite believe it – and I believe you went away again without

the power of the Spirit, and that you know nothing about the

matter, and are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of

iniquity.’ Do I hear one Christian man saying, `I sought Jesus

before he sought me; I went to the Spirit, and the Spirit did not

come to me’? No, beloved; we are obliged, each one of us, to put

our hands to our hearts and say –

`Grace taught my soul to pray,

And made my eyes o’erflow;

`Twas grace that kept me of this day,

And will not let me go.’

Is there one here – a solitary one – man or woman, young or old,

who can say, `I sought God before he sought me’? No; even you who

are a little Arminian, will sing –

`O yes! I do love Jesus –

Because he first loved me.’

Then, one more question. Do we not find, even after we have

come to Christ, our soul is not free, but is kept by Christ? do we

not find times, even now, when to will is not present with us.

There is a law in our members, warring against the law of our

minds. Now, if those who are spiritually alive feel that their

will is contrary to God, what shall we say of the man who is dead

in trespasses and sins? It would be a marvelous absurdity to put

the two on a level; and it would be still more absurd to put the

dead before the living. No; the text is true, experience has

branded it into our hearts, `Ye will not come unto me that ye might

have life.’

Why None Come

Now, we must tell you the reasons why men will not come unto

Christ. The first is, because no man by nature thinks he wants

Christ. By nature man conceives that he does not need Christ; he

thinks that he has a robe of righteousness of his own, that he is

well dressed, that he is not naked, that he needs not Christ’s

blood to wash him, that he is not black or crimson, and needs no

grace to purify him. No man knows his need until God shows it to

him; and until the Holy Spirit revels the necessity of pardon, no

man will seek pardon. I may preach Christ for ever, but unless you

feel you want Christ you will never come to him. A doctor may have

a good shop, but nobody will buy his medicines until he feels he

wants them.

The next reason is, because men do not like Christ’s way of

saving them. One says, `I do not like it because he makes me holy;

I cannot drink or swear if he saved me.’ Another says, `It

requires me to be so precise and puritanical, and I like a little

more licens’. Another does not like it because the ‘gate of

heaven’ is not quite high enough for his head, and he does not

like stooping. That is the chief reason ye will not come to

Christ, because ye cannot get to him with your heads straight up in

the air; for Christ makes you stoop when you come. Another does

not like it to be grace from first to last. `Oh!’ he says, `if I

might have a little honor.’ But when he hears it is all Christ or

no Christ, a whole Christ or no Christ, he says, `I shall not

come,’ and turns on his heel and turns away. Ah! proud sinners, ye

will not come to Christ. Ah! ignorant sinners, ye will not come

unto Christ, because ye know nothing of him. And that is the third


Men do not know his worth, for if they did they would come

unto him. Why did not sailors go to America before Columbus went?

Because they did not believe there was an America. Columbus had

faith, therefore he went. He who hath faith in Christ goes to him.

But you don’t know Jesus; many of you never saw his beauteous face;

you never saw how applicable his blood is to a sinner, how great is

his atonement; and how all-sufficient are his merits. Therefore,

`ye will not come unto him.’

No Excuse

And oh! my hearers, my last thought is a solemn one. I have

preached that ye will not come. But some will say, `it is their

sin that they do not come.’ It is so. You will not come, but then

your will is a sinful will. Some think that we `sew pillows to all

armholes’ when we preach this doctrine, but we don’t. We do not

set this down as being part of man’s original nature, but as

belonging to his fallen nature. It is sin that has brought you

into this condition that you will not come. If you had not fallen,

you would come to Christ the moment he was preached to you; but you

do not come because of your sinfulness and crime. People excuse

themselves because they have bad hearts. That is the most flimsy

excuse in the world. Do not robbery and thieving come from a bad

heart? Suppose a thief should say to a judge, `I could not help

it, I had a bad heart.’ What would the judge say? `You rascal!

why, if your heart is bad, I’ll make the sentence heavier, for you

are a villain indeed. Your excuse is nothing.’ The Almighty shall

`laugh at them and shall have them in derision.’ We do not preach

this doctrine to excuse you, but to humble you. The possession of

a bad nature is my fault as well as my terrible calamity.

It is a sin that will always be charged on men; when they will

not come unto Christ it is sin that keeps them away. He who does

not preach that, I fear is not faithful to God and his conscience.

Go home, then, with this thought; `I am by nature so perverse that

I will not come unto Christ, and that wicked perversity of my

nature is my sin. I deserve to be sent to hell for it.’ And if

the thought does not humble you, the Spirit using it, no other can.

This morning I have not preached human nature up, but I have

preached it down. God humble us all. Amen.

-New Park Street Pulpit

Vol. I, pp. 395-402

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