William Gadsby Sermons (Complete)

6. Going From Jerusalem To Jericho

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves.”—Luke 10:30-35

The circumstance which led to this parable was, a certain lawyer going to Christ, and asking him what he must do to inherit eternal fife. A principle of having something to merit life is in our very nature. Thousands ask what they are to do, and promise but never fairly start. The Jews were constantly found to promise what they would do. When God was delivering them from the hands of their enemies and supplying them with food from heaven, “O,” said they, “all that the Lord hath commanded will we do;” but they never fulfilled their promise. Perhaps some of you in this congregation, when there has been some affliction in your own person or in the family, have been so alarmed that you have said, “O how good you would be in the future.” But instead of this, when the affliction was removed, you have lived more in sin than you did before.

Well; the Lord set this lawyer a job,—to keep the commandments; and, amongst the rest, told him to love his neighbour as himself. I believe if my salvation depended on my always loving my neighbour as myself I should be damned; and so would you too, by the same rule; for no mere man ever did it. “Why, then,” say you, “how can we expect to go to heaven?” You never can on that ground. But the Lord Jesus Christ did love his neighbour as himself, and this he did for his people. The poor Papist may think he will get to heaven by telling his beads and paying his priest to give him absolution; but, so dying, his will be an awful end. The Arminian may think he can get to heaven by self-mortifications, giving of his goods to the poor, and praying night and day, and striving perpetually to keep the law; but, so dying, his end will be no better than that of the Papist. Take away Christ, and there is not holiness enough in all the world to save one sinner. But give me Christ, let my soul enjoy Christ, let the love, blood, and righteousness of Christ, be graciously given to me, and there is not a law that ever God promulgated from his throne but I can solemnly face it; because Christ has magnified it and made it honourable for me. Thus I am led to know a little about the life of Christ and the death of Christ. As for human virtue, or perfection in the flesh, it is an awful delusion. As a good man once said, “Human virtue was once in the world, and the world crucified it.” “Ah, well,” perhaps some may say, “I know I am not perfect; but I have a good heart at the bottom.” Well, now; just try your heart by this touchstone: Do you love your neighbour as yourself? 0r by this: “Every evil thought is sin.” Suppose the thoughts of your good heart for even a single day were printed in large letters and put on your forehead, how many streets in Manchester would you like to walk through? Would not people say, “If that man’s heart is a good heart, what must a bad heart be?”

But the lawyer wanted to know who was his neighbour, and the Lord pointed out the parable before as.

Jericho was a city cursed of the Lord by Joshua, and is an emblem of an ungodly world. Jerusalem is a blessed type of the church of God, and the peace of God in that church. A believer, by the power of the Spirit, is brought to know what it is to have his peace in this heavenly Jerusalem. There are solemn moments when the child of God can go to his bed and say,

“I lay me down and sweetly sleep,
For I have peace with God;
And when I wake he shall me keep,
Through faith in Jesus’ blood.”

I had rather have this feeling, thus spiritually enjoyed, than be emperor of the whole world. To be here, is to be at Jerusalem.

Now Jerusalem, literally, is said to stand on an eminence, and some parts of it are higher than others; therefore, it is said, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and you know it is an easy path down hill; flesh and blood like it well. But the way from Jericho to Jerusalem is up hill; and going up is hard work, especially for poor weaklings or asthmatics, like me.

The passage we have read sets forth a poor child of God, left to turn his back upon Jerusalem, and is going towards Jericho. What a mercy God would not let him get quite there! Perhaps he started off at a good pace, as is sometimes the case. He might be running; and it is hazardous to run down hill, and especially such a hill as that from Jerusalem to Jericho; so no wonder that he fell. And when he fell, he found himself among thieves. Perhaps he fell from fright, when he saw the thieves.

[The person who took the notes of the above exposition here makes a remark in pencil: “Some of the above, and especially this part, is very meager, as Willey is very tiresome.”]

Well, at any rate, he fell among thieves. What else could he expect? If a man leaves his house, and goes into the very spot where thieves are, how can he expect other than that he shall fall amongst them? It is arrogant to expect safety, if we travel in the high road of thieves.

Well; this man fell among thieves; and they stripped him. What did they strip him of? All his peace, all his sweet enjoyment of God, and almost, but not quite, all his hope. Bless the Lord that, though, perhaps, he bled much from his wounds, all his hope did not bleed out of him. He was not quite dead.

Now what where the thieves, think you? I do not know any thief that pesters, and plagues, and tortures a child of God more than pride and self-importance, It is a thief near at hand. “O,” say you; “I must maintain my dignity. I must have my own way. I am determined not to be mastered.” O, thou cursed thief! Thon hast distressed many a child of God, and brought them into bondage.

Another thief that a child of God meets with, on his way to Jericho, is stubbornness of temper. He seems determined, though conscience speaks to him, not to give way. I have seen many instances of this kind; and more than once have we had to exclude members because of this hateful thief.

[Another remark in pencil says, “An illustrative dialogue was given here.” But it is not recorded.]

How often does the child of God find this to be the case. He stifles conscience, because he is determined not to give way.

Another thief is worldly-mindedness, an over-anxious care after the world; a thirsting for worldly honour, worldly greatness, &c. This thief comes to a child of God with such plausibility that he could almost make a man a rogue to get a little of this world’s good. Self is close at heel, and a thousand things will be presented to the mind, to lead it from the simplicity that is in Christ The great things of God appear to become secondary matters only, and they must give way to worldly circumstances. And O what deadness of soul does this lead to! I have known cases where persons have become possessed of thousands who have declared they were far happier when they had only a few shillings a week than they were in the midst of their wealth.

[The above is all that is given, as the said Willey seems to have become increasingly tiresome.]