This chapter is extracts taken from Spurgeon’s book The Soul Winner.
Men need to be told that, except divine grace shall bring them out of their enmity to God, they must eternally perish; and they must be reminded of the sovereignty of God, that He is not obliged to bring them out of this state, that He would be right and just if He left them in such a condition, that they have no merit to plead before Him, and no claims upon Him, but that if they are to be saved, it must be by grace, and by grace alone. The preacher’s work is to throw sinners down in utter helplessness, that the may be compelled to look to Him who alone can help them.
True conversion is in all men attended by a sense of sin, which we have spoken of under the head of conviction ; by a sorrow for sin, or holy grief at having committed it; by a hatred of sin, which proves, that its dominion is ended; and by a practical turning from sin, which shows that the life within the soul is operating upon the life without. True belief and true repentance are twins: it would be idle to attempt to say which is born first. All the spokes of a wheel moved at once when the wheel moves, and so all the graces commence action when regeneration is wrought by the Holy Ghost. Repentance, however, there must be. No sinner looks to the Saviour with a dry eye or a hard heart. Aim, therefore, at heart-breaking, at bringing home condemnation to the conscience, and weaning the mind from sin, and be not content till the whole mind is deeply and vitally changed in reference to sin.
Dear brethren, I do beg you to attach the highest importance to your own personal holiness. Do live unto God. If you do not, your Lord will not be with you; He will say of you as He said of the false prophets of old, “I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” You may preach very-fine sermons but if you are not yourselves holy, there will be no souls saved. The probability is that you will not come to the conclusion that your want of holiness is the reason for your non-success; you will blame the people, you will blame the age in which you live, you will blame anything except yourself; but there will be the root of the whole mischief.)
Read McCheyne’s memoir, read the whole of it, I cannot do you a better service than by recommending you to read it; there is no great freshness of thought, there is nothing very novel or striking in it, but as you read it you must get good out of it, for you are conscious that it is the story of the life of a man who walked with God. Moody would never have spoken with the force he did if he had not lived a life of fellowship with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ. The greatest force of the sermon lies in what has gone before the sermon. You must get ready for the whole service by private fellowship with God, and real holiness of character.
Open your mouth, brother, with a full expectation, a firm belief, and according to your faith so it be shall it be unto you.
That is the essential point, you must believe in God and in is gospel if you are to be a winner of soul; some other things may omitted but this matter of faith must never be. It is true ‘that God does not always measure His mercy by our unbelief for He has to think of other people as well as of us; but, looking at the matter in a common sense way, it does seem that the most likely instrument to do the Lord’s work is the man who expects that God will use him, and who goes forth to labour in the strength of that conviction. When success comes he not surprised, for he was looking for it. He sowed living seed, and he expected to reap a harvest from it; he cast his bread upon the waters, and he means to search and watch till he finds it again.
It may happen that some of you do preach very earnestly and well, and sermons that are likely to be blessed, and yet you do not see sinners saved. Well, do not leave off preaching; but say to yourself, ” I must try to gather around me a number of people who will be all praying with me and for me, and who will talk to their friends about the things of God: and who will so live and labour that the Lord will give a blessed shower of grace because all the surroundings are suitable thereto, and, help to make the blessing come. I have heard ministers say that, when they have
preached in the Tabernacle, there has been something in the congregation that has had a wonderfully powerful effect upon them.’ I think it is because we have good prayer meetings, because there is an earnest spirit of prayer among the people, and because so many of them are on the watch for souls.
A dying man is needed to raise dying men. I cannot believe that you will ever pluck a brand from the burning without putting your hand near enough to feel the heat of the fire. You must have, more or less, a distinct sense of the dreadful wrath of God and of the terrors of the judgment to come, or you will lack energy in your work, and so lack one of the essentials of success. I do not think the preacher ever speaks well upon such topics until he feels them pressing upon him as a personal burden from the Lord. “I did preach in chains,” said John Bunyan, “to men in chains.:’ Depend upon it, when the death that is in your children alarms, depresses, and overwhelms you, then it is that God is about to bless you