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Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 25th, 1860, by the
REV. Charles H. SPURGEON At Exeter Hall, Strand.

The following is an excerpt from a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon on the separation of the church from the vile. I chose the sermon for the great need that faces the church today... the decision to take a stand against the ecumenical trends of our day and the watering down of the Truth to make is palatable to the world.  May it never be said of you that you compromised the Truth.

"...My first argument is this. Whenever the Church has been thoroughly distinct from the world, she has always prospered. During the first three centuries the world hated the Church. The prison, the stake, the heels of the wild horse, these were thought too good for the followers of Christ. When a man became a Christian, he gave up father and mother, house and lands, nay, his own life also. When they met together they must meet in the catacombs, burning candles at high noon, because there was darkness in the depths of the earth. They were despised and rejected of men. "They wandered about in sheeps' skins and goats' skins, destitute, afflicted, tormented." But then was the age of heroes; that was the time of giants. Never did the Church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in blood. The ship of the Church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls upon her deck. We must suffer, and we must die, if we are ever to conquer this world for Christ. Was there ever such a surprising miracle as the spread of the gospel during the first two or three centuries? Within fifty years after Christ had ascended to heaven, the gospel was preached in every known part of the world, and there were converts to Christ in the most inhospitable regions. Further than the ships of Tarshish had the gospel flown; the pillars of Hercules had not bounded the industry of the apostles. To wild and uncivilized tribes, to Picts and Scots, and to fierce Britons, was the gospel proclaimed. Churches were founded, some of which have lasted in their purity to this day. And all this, I believe, was partly the result of that striking, that marked difference between the Church and the world. Certainly, during the period after Constantine professed to be a Christian, changing with the times, because he saw it would strengthen his empire—from the time when the Church began to be linked with the state—the Lord left her, and gave her up to barrenness, and Ichabod was written on her walls. It was a black day for Christendom when Constantine said, "I am a Christian." "By this sign I conquer," said he. Yes, it was the true reason of his pretended conversion, If he could conquer by the cross it was well enough; if he could have conquered by Jupiter he would have I liked it equally as well. From that time the Church began to degenerate. And coming down to the middle ages, when you could not tell a Christian from a worldling, where were you to find piety at all, or life or grace left in the lands Then came Luther, and with a rough grasp he rent away the Church from the world—pulled her away at the risk of rending her in pieces. He would not have her linked in affinity with the world, and then "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers took counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed;" but he that sitteth in the heavens did laugh at them; Jehovah had them in derision. The Church went forth conquering and to conquer, and her main weapon was her non-conformity to the world, her coming out from among men. Put your finger on any prosperous page in the Church's history, and I will find a little marginal note reading thus: "In this age men could readily see where the Church began and where the world ended." Never were there good times when the Church and the world were joined in marriage with one another.
    But though this were sufficient argument for keeping the Church and the world distinct, there are many others. The more the Church is distinct from the world in her acts and in her maxims, the more true is her testimony for Christ, and the more potent is her witness against sin. We are sent into this world to testify against evils; but if we dabble in them ourselves, where is our testimony? If we ourselves be found faulty, we are false witnesses; we are not sent of God, our testimony is of none effect. I do not hesitate to say there are tens of thousands of professing Christians, whose testimony before the world is rather injurious than beneficial. The world looks at them, and says, "Well, I see: you can be a Christian, and yet remain a rogue." "Ah!" says another, "you can be a Christian, I perceive; but then you will have to be doleful and miserable." "Ah!" cries another, "these Christians like to drink sin in secret behind the door. Their Christianity lies in not liking to sin openly; but they can devour a widow's house when nobody is looking on; they can be drunkards, only it must be in a very small party; they would not like to be discovered tipsy where there were a hundred eyes to look at them." Now, what is all that? It is just this,—that the world has found out that the Church visible is not the unmixed Church of Christ, since it is not true to its principles, anal does not stand up for the uprightness and integrity which are the marks of the genuine church of God. Many Christians forget that they are bearing a testimony: they do not think that anybody notices them. Ay, but they do. There are no people so much watched as Christians. The world reads us up, from the first letter of our lives to the end; and if they can find a flaw—and, God forgive us, they may find very many—they are sure to magnify the flaw as much as ever they can. Let us therefore be very watchful, that we live close to Christ, that we walk in his commandments always that the world may see that the Lord hath put a difference..
    But now I have a very sad thing to say—I wish that I could withhold it, but I cannot. Unless, brothers and sisters, you make it your daily business to see that there is a difference between you and the world, you will do more hurt than you can possibly do good. The Church of Christ is at this day accountable for many fearful sins. Let me mention one which is but the type of others. By what means think you were the fetters rivetted on the wrist of our friend who sits there, a man like ourselves, though of a black skin? It is the Church of Christ that keeps his brethren under bondage; if it were not for that Church, the system of slavery would go back to the hell from which it sprung. If there were no slave floggers but men who are fit for so degrading an office; if there were not found Christian ministers (?) who can apologize for slavery from the pulpit, and church members who sell the children of nobler beings than themselves—if it were not for this, Africa would be free. Albert Barnes spoke right truly when he said slavery could not exist for an hour if it were not for the countenance of the Christian Church. But what does the slaveholder say when you tell him that to hold our fellow-creatures in bondage is a sin, and a damnable one, inconsistent with grace? He replies "I do not believe your slanders; look at the Bishop of So-and-so, or the minister of such-and-such a place, is not he a good man, and does not he whine out 'Cursed be Canaan?' Does not he quote Philemon and Onesimus? Does he not go and talk Bible, and tell his slaves that they ought to feel very grateful for being his slaves, for God Almighty made them on purpose that they might enjoy the rare privilege of being cowhided by a Christian master. Don't tell me," he says, "if the thing were wrong, it would not have the Church on its side." And so Christ's free Church bought with his blood, must bear the shame of cursing Africa, and keeping her sons in bondage. From this evil, good Lord deliver us. If Manchester merchants and Liverpool traders have a share in this guilt, at least let the Church be free of this hell-filling crime. Men have tried hard to make the Bible support this sum of all villanies, but slavery, the thing which defiles the Great Republic such slavery is quite unknown to the Word of God, and by the laws of the Jew; it was impossible that it ever could exist. I have known men quote texts as excuses for being damned, and I do not wonder that men can find Scripture to justify them in buying and selling the souls of men.
    And what think you is it, to come home to our own land, that props up the system of trample that is carried on among us? You all know that there are businesses where it is not possible for a young man to be honest in the shop, where, if he spoke the downright truth, he would be discharged. Why is it, think you, that the system of ticketing goods in the window differently from what they are sold indoors, or exhibiting one thing and then giving another article, the system of telling white lies across the counter with the intention of getting a better price, is maintained? Why it would not stamp an hour if it were not for the professing Christians who practice it. They have not the moral courage to say once for all, "We will have nothing to do with these things." If they did, if the Church renounced these unholy customs, business could alter within the next twelve months. The props of felony, and the supports of roguery are these professing Christian men, who bend their backs to do as other men do; who, instead of stemming the torrent, give up, and swim along with it—the dead fish in our churches, that flow with the stream, unlike the living fish which always go against it, and swim upward to the river's source. I would not speak too severely of Christ's Church, for I love her; but because I love her I must therefore utter this. Our being so much like the world, our trading as the world trades, our talking as the world talks, our always insisting upon it that we must do as other people do, this is doing more mischief to the world, than all our preachers can hope to effect good. "Come ye out from among them, touch not the unclean thing, be ye separate, saith the Lord, and I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters."
    This surely, a stern rough argument, might move us to be separate from the world. But once again, how is it possible for us to honor Jesus Christ, while there is no difference between us and the world? I can imagine that a man may not profess to be a Christian, and yet he may honor his Master, that however is a matter of imagination. I do not know of an instance, but I cannot imagine a man professing to be a Christian, and then acting as the crowd acts, and yet honoring Christ.
    Methinks I see my Master now he stands before me. He has more than those five blessed wounds. I see his hands running with blood. "My Master! my Master!" I cry, where didst thou get those wounds? those are not the piercings of the nails, nor the gash of the spear-thrust; whence come those wounds" I hear him mournfully reply, "These are the wounds which I have received in the house of my friends. such-and-such a Christian fell, such-and-such a disciple followed me afar off, and at last Peter-like denied me altogether. Such an one of my children is covetous, such another of them is proud, such another has taken his neighbor by the throat, and saith, 'Pay me what thou owest,' and I have been wounded in the house of my friends." O, blessed Jesus forgive us, forgive us, and give us thy grace that we may do so no more, for we would follow thee whithersoever thou goest; thou knowest Lord we would be thine, we would honor thee and not grieve thee. O give us now then of thine own Spirit, that we may come out from the world and be like thyself,—holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
    I have but just these two things to say, and then I have done. To professors of religion this word. There are some of you professors of religion that are base coin. When you come to the Lord's table you lie, and when you say of yourself, "I am a member of such-and-such a church," you say what is a disgrace to you. Now let me remind you, sirs, that you may hold your profession here, but when you come before God's bar at last you will find it a terrible thing not to have had a reality in your profession. Tremble, sirs, at God's right hand. There hangs the scale and you must be put into it, and if you are found wanting, your portion must be among the deceivers, and you know where that is—it is in the lowest pit of hell. Tremble, Sir Deacon, tremble, Church-member, if you are not what you profess to be there is a doom awaiting you of a fiercer, a direr sort than even for the ungodly and the reprobate. From the height of your profession you shall be plucked down. You have built your nest among the stars, but you must make your bed in hell. You have decked your head with a crown, but you must wear a crown of fire, you must have those fine robes plucked off you, that tinsel and that paint must all be removed. and you, naked to your shame, the hooting-mark of devils, shall become a hissing even to the damned of hell, as they shall point to you and cry, "There goes the man who destroyed himself by deceiving others. There is the wretch who talked of God and talked of Christ, and did not think himself such an one as we are, and now he too is bound up in the bundle to be burnt."
    The last word is to those who are not professors at all. God has made a difference between you and the righteous. Oh, my dear friends, I beseech you turn that thought over in your minds! There are no three characters, no intermediate links; there is no border-land between the righteous and the wicked. To-day you are either a friend to God or an enemy to him. You are at this hour either quickened or dead, and oh! remember, when death comes it is either heaven or hell with you,—either angels or fiends must be your companions, and either the flames must be your bed and fiery coverlet, or else the glories of eternity must be your perpetual inheritance. Remember, the way to heaven is open. "He that believeth in the Lord Jesus shall be saved." Believe on him, believe on him, and live. Trust him, and you are saved. Cast your soul's confidence on Jesus, and you are now delivered. God help you to do that now, and there shall be no difference any more between you and the righteous, but you shall be of them, and with them, in the day when Jesus cometh to sit upon the throne of his father David, and to reign among men." ---CHS

 

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