Following is the introduction to the sermon; please follow the link to read the entire sermon.
Delivered on Tuesday Evening, September 4, 1855, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
In a field, King Edward’s Road, Hackney.
“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”—Matthew 8:11-12.
This is a land where plain speaking is allowed, and where the people are willing to afford a fair hearing to any one who can tell them that which is worth their attention. To-night I am quite certain of an attentive audience, for I know you too well to suppose otherwise. This field, as you are all aware, is private property; and I would just give a suggestion to those who go out in the open air to preach—that it is far better to get into a field, or a plot of unoccupied building-ground, than to block up the roads and stop business; it is moreover, far better to be somewhat under protection, so that we can at once prevent disturbance.
To-night, I shall, I hope, encourage you to seek the road to heaven. I shall also have to utter some very sharp things concerning the end of the lost in the pit of hell. Upon both these subjects I will try and speak, as God helps me. But, I beseech you, as you love your souls, weigh right and wrong this night; see whether what I say be the truth of God. If it be not, reject it utterly, and cast it away; but if it is, at your peril disregard it; for, as you shall answer before God, the great Judge of heaven and earth, it will go ill with you if the words of his servant and of his Scripture be despised.
My text has two parts. The first is very agreeable to my mind, and gives me pleasure; the second is terrible in the extreme; but, since they are both the truth, they must be preached. The first part of my text is, “I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” The sentence which I call the black, dark, and threatening part is this: “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
I. Let us take the first part. Here is a most glorious promise. I will read it again: “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” I like that text, because it tells me what heaven is, and gives me a beautiful picture of it. It says, it is a place where I shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. O what a sweet thought that is for the working man! He often wipes the hot sweat from his face, and he wonders whether there is a land where he shall have to toil no longer. He scarcely ever eats a mouthful of bread that is not moistened with the sweat of his brow. Often he comes home weary, and flings himself upon his couch, perhaps too tired to sleep. He says, “Oh! is there no land where I can rest? Is there no place where I can sit, and for once let these weary limbs be still? Is there no land where I can be quiet? Yes, thou son of toil and labor,
“There is a happy land
Far, far away—“
where toil and labor are unknown. Beyond yon blue welkin there is a city fair and bright, its walls are jasper, and its light is brighter than the sun. There “the weary are at rest, and the wicked cease from troubling.” Immortal spirits are yonder, who never wipe sweat from their brow, for “they sow not, neither do they reap;” they have not to toil and labor.
“There, on a green and flowery mount,
Their weary souls shall sit;
And with transporting joys recount
The labors of their feet.”
To my mind, one of the best views of heaven is, that it is a land of rest—especially to the working man. Those who have not to work hard, think they will love heaven as a place of service. That is very true. But to the working man, to the man who toils with his brain or with his hands, it must ever be a sweet thought that there is a land where we shall rest. Soon, this voice will never be strained again; soon, these lungs will never have to exert themselves beyond their power; soon, this brain shall not be racked for thought; but I shall sit at the banquet-table of God; yea, I shall recline on the bosom of Abraham, and be at ease for ever. Oh! weary sons and daughters of Adam, you will not have to drive the ploughshare into the unthankful soil in heaven, you will not need to rise to daily toils before the sun hath risen, and labor still when the sun hath long ago gone to his rest; but ye shall be still, ye shall be quiet, ye shall rest yourselves, for all are rich in heaven, all are happy there, all are peaceful. Toil, trouble, travail, and labor, are words that cannot be spelled in heaven; they have no such things there, for they always rest.
And mark the good company they sit with. They are to “sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.” Some people think that in heaven we shall know nobody. But our text declares here, that we “shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.” Then I am sure that we shall be aware that they are Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. I have heard of a good woman, who asked her husband, when she was dying, “My dear, do you think you will know me when you and I get to heaven?” “Shall I know you?” he said, “why, I have always known you while I have been here, and do you think I shall be a greater fool when I get to heaven?” I think it was a very good answer. If we have known one another here, we shall know one another there. I have dear departed friends up there, and it is always a sweet thought to me, that when I shall put my foot, as I hope I may, upon the threshold of heaven, there will come my sisters and brothers to clasp me by the hand and say, “Yes, thou loved one, and thou art here.” Dear relatives that have been separated, you will meet again in heaven. One of you has lost a mother—she is gone above; and if you follow the track of Jesus, you shall meet her there. Methinks I see yet another coming to meet you at the door of Paradise; and though the ties of natural affection may be in a measure forgotten,—I may be allowed to use a figure—how blessed would she be as she turned to God, and said, “Here am I, and the children that thou hast given me.” We shall recognize our friends:—husband, you will know your wife again. Mother, you will know those dear babes of yours—you marked their features when they lay panting and gasping for breath. You know how ye hung over their graves when the cold sod was sprinkled over them, and it was said, “Earth to earth. Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes.” But ye shall hear those loved voices again: ye shall hear those sweet voices once more; ye shall yet know that those whom ye loved have been loved by God. Would not that be a dreary heaven for us to inhabit, where we should be alike unknowing and unknown? I would not care to go to such a heaven as that. I believe that heaven is a fellowship of the saints, and that we shall know one another there. I have often thought I should love to see Isaiah; and, as soon as I get to heaven, methinks, I would ask for him, because he spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest. I am sure I should want to find out good George Whitefield—he who so continually preached to the people, and wore himself out with a more than seraphic zeal. O yes! We shall have choice company in heaven when we get there. There will be no distinction of learned and unlearned, clergy and laity, but we shall walk freely one among another; we shall feel that we are brethren; we shall “sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.” I have heard of a lady who was visited by a minister on her deathbed, and she said to him, “I want to ask you one question, now I am about to die.” “Well,” said the minister, “what is it?” “Oh!” said she, in a very affected way, “I want to know if there are two places in heaven, because I could not bear that Betsy in the kitchen should be in heaven along with me, she is so unrefined?” The minister turned round and said, “O! don’t trouble yourself about that, madam. There is no fear of that; for, until you get rid of you accursed pride, you will never enter heaven at all.” We must all get rid of our pride. We must come down and stand on an equality in the sight of God, and see in every man a brother, before we can hope to be found in glory. Aye, we bless God, we thank him that there will be no separate table for one and for another. The Jew and the Gentile will sit down together. The great and the small shall feed in the same pasture, and we shall “sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”