THE AMAZING ST. DENNIS AND THE FIRST STEP TOWARD SALVATION
“Salvation is of the Lord” not only in the execution of it but also IN THE APPLICATION OF IT.
“No,” says the Arminian, “it is not; salvation is of the Lord, inasmuch as He does all for man that he can do; but there is something that MAN MUST DO, which if he does not do, he must perish.” THAT is the Arminian way of salvation.
Now last week I thought of this very theory of salvation, when I stood by the side of that window of Carisbrooke castle, out of which King Charles of unhappy and unrighteous memory, attempted to escape. I read in the guide book that everything was provided for his escape; his followers had means at the bottom of the wall to enable him to fly across the country, and on the coast they had their boats lying ready to take him to another land; in fact everything was ready for his escape. But here was the important circumstance: his friends had done all they could; HE was to do the rest; but that doing the rest was just the point and brunt of the battle. It was to get out of the window, out of which he was not able to escape by any means, so that all his friends did for him went for nothing, so far as he was concerned.
So with the sinner! If God had provided every means of escape, and only required him to get out of his dungeon, he would have remained there to all eternity. Why, is not the sinner by nature dead in sin? And if God requires him to make himself alive, and then afterward He will do the rest for him, then verily, my friends, we are not so much obliged to God as we had thought for; for if he require so much as that of us, and we can do it, we can do the rest without his assistance.
The Romanists have an extraordinary miracle of their own about St. Dennis, of whom they tell the lying legend that after his head was (cut) off be took it up in his hands and walked with it two thousand miles; whereupon, said a wit, “So far as the two thousand miles go, it is nothing at all; it is only THE FIRST STEP in which there is any difficulty.” So I believe, if THAT is taken, all the rest can be easily accomplished. And if God does require of the sinner—dead in sin—that he should take the FIRST STEP, then he requireth just that which renders salvation as impossible under the gospel as ever it was under the law, seeing man is as unable to believe as he is to obey, and is just as much without power to come to Christ as he is without power to go to heaven without Christ.
The power must be given to him of the Spirit. He lieth dead in sin; the Spirit must quicken him. He is bound hand and foot and fettered by transgression; the Spirit must cut his bonds, and then he will leap to liberty. God must come and dash the iron bars out of their sockets, and then he can escape from the window, and make good his escape afterward; but unless the first thing be done for him, he must perish as surely under the gospel as he would have done under the law.
I WOULD CEASE TO PREACH, IF I BELIEVED THAT GOD, IN THE MATTER OF SALVATION, REQUIRED ANYTHING WHATEVER OF MAN WHICH HE (GOD) HIMSELF HAD NOT ALSO ENGAGED TO FURNISH.
For how many have I frequently hanging upon my lips of the worst of characters—men whose lives have become so horribly bad, that the lip of morality would refuse to give a description of their character? When I enter my pulpit am I to believe that these men are to do something before God’s Spirit will operate upon them? If so, I should go there with a faint heart, feeling that I never could induce them to do the FIRST PART.
But now I come to my pulpit with a sure confidence—God the Holy Spirit will meet with these men this morning. They are as bad as they can be; he will put a new thought into their hearts; he will give them new wishes; he will give them new wills, and those who hated Christ will desire to love him; those who once loved sin will, by God’s divine Spirit, be made to hate it; and here is my confidence, that what THEY CANNOT DO, in that they are weak through the flesh, GOD SENDING HIS SPIRIT INTO THEIR HEARTS WILL DO FOR THEM, AND IN THEM, and so they SHALL BE SAVED!
[From C.H. Spurgeon’s sermon – “Salvation is of the Lord”]