65 Is It Nothing To You?
A Sermon Preached By William Gadsby In Manchester, Aug. 2nd, 1836.
“Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.”—Lamentations 1:12
The Prophet Jeremiah here speaks of himself. The Lord had been pleased to lay upon him heavy afflictions, grievous for him to bear; but he cried to the Lord in the agony of his soul; and the Lord enabled him to stand.
The language of the text perhaps refers also to the afflictions of the children of Israel in their Babylonish captivity. They had wandered from the way of God, and committed whoredoms against him; for they had joined themselves to idols. But the Lord had melted their hearts, and afflicted them in the day of his fierce anger; therefore did they cry out in the travail of their souls, “Was there ever sorrow like unto my sorrow?”
But mainly it is also prophetically the language of Christ, who agonized under the enormous weight of guilt which his people had contracted. He bore it all. And was there ever sorrow like unto his? Was there ever sorrow so great as his? Humanity was supported by the Godhead, or he would have sunk; for he bore, as the poet says, “A thousand hells.” And that it was he, we may know from his own words, spoken in Psa. Ixix: “Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul; I sink in deep mire where there is no standing. I am come into deep waters where the floods overflow me.” There he compares his sufferings to deep waters, wherein he was immersed; for, saith he, “The waters are gone over my head; the floods overflow me.”
Was there ever sorrow like unto his sorrow? And is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? And they that passed by, spat upon him. Was it nothing to them? Ah I If they do not experience that it is something to such, they will everlastingly perish. There may be some who read this, who have been committing abominations against the Lord, and are hardening themselves in their crimes. If so, you may be sure God will make you smart for it. “Be sure your sins will find you out.” And is it nothing to you? Is it a trifling matter to sin against a holy God? Remember, trifling sinners, careless sinners, whoremongers, and adulterers, God will judge you.
There may be a covetous person present this morning, who will get riches, whether honestly or not. He may be doing his best to heat another; and if he does cheat his fellow creatures, he will make merry in his heart to think how cleverly he has done it. Sinners! Remember that covetousness is idolatry; and whoremongers and idolaters have no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. And is it nothing to you? There will come a time when you will not say it is nothing to you. For your covetousness and crimes, God will pour into your souls the burning liquid fire of his wrath. Then, O then, is it nothing to you?
There may be here a drunkard, or a profane person, who will delight in reveling, and drunkenness, and perhaps calling on God to curse them, and taking his holy name in vain. How awful is their case! Drunkard and swearer, is it nothing to you? Remember, that drunkenness is an abomination in the sight of God; and the Lord will not hold them guiltless who take his name in vain. And is this nothing to you?
There may be some who are wrapping themselves up in Pharisaical pride, and who consider they can do something towards saving themselves. They can look at the poor mourning, cast down, helpless child of God, who is crying to God for his salvation; and proudly they may say, “I thank God I am not as this man.” Deluded creature! And can you thus set at naught the sufferings of Christ? Can you thus think lightly of the atonement? Is it nothing to you? You are insulting Christ, and, so living and dying, you will be cast into the bottomless pit.
“But,” say you, “Christ made atonement for all, as well for the lost as the saved; and if men reject his atonement they will be lost.” Then it follows that this atonement was not sufficient to save a single soul; for there are two questions that here present themselves: What is it that curses the lost? And, What is it that saves the saved? It is said that Christ put away all sin by the sacrifice of himself. He hath atoned for sin once, and once for ever. His people can never perish.
Brethren, you to whom Christ’s sufferings are something, feeling you would be lost without him, I tell you, for the comfort and edification of your souls, that Christ Jesus hath cast all your sins into the depth of the sea,—the sea of his blood, never to be remembered any more. He has carried them into the land of forgetfulness, so that if they are sought for they cannot be found. He hath atoned for sin once, and once for ever.
“And payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.”
And if he atoned for your sins, then your sins are put away by that atonement. Therefore what will harm you? Not your sins; for they are put away. And is that nothing to you?
Christ’s sorrow was like unto no man’s sorrow; and he bore all for his people in his own body. And is it nothing to you?
But, perhaps, there are some among this assembly of God’s little ones, who have tasted the Lord is gracious, and enjoyed his presence and love in their hearts, who are now in a careless state. They have felt their security, but have become in a measure unconcerned, and are ready, at times, to deny their Lord before men. There was a time when it might have been said that in the congregation of the righteous there were little Benjamins and others. It might be now said, “Where is little Benjamin and Judith?” Where are you now? “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”
Remember, believer, every sin thou hast committed has sent a dagger into the heart of Christ, thy Lord. And is that nothing to you? The sins of the non-elect never touched the heart of Christ; but thy sins pierced him through and through, and made his heart to bleed. And is it nothing to you?
“The powers of hell united press’d,
And squeezed his heart and bruised his breast.
What dreadful conflicts raged within,
When sweat and blood forced through the skin.”
Is that nothing to you? O! May the Lord soften your hard hearts, and make you feel that his sufferings were entirely on your account. And is that nothing to you? Behold, look at your dying Saviour, and say, “Was there ever sorrow like unto his sorrow?” And may you feel that he sorrowed for you; that the afflictions wherewith he was grievously afflicted were for you; that he agonized,, and groaned, being burdened with your guilt and shame, for you; that he died for you; that he gave himself a ransom for you; that he rose again for you; and that now he ever liveth to make intercession for you. And is all this nothing to you? Can you look on and see this glorious scene unconcerned, unaffected?
May the Lord, in his infinite goodness and mercy, make us more and more deeply concerned to feel our interest in him; for his great name’s sake.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist. John Hazelton wrote of him—
“[Gadsby’s] labours extended to well-nigh every part of the country, and who by his sermons, hymns, and other writings, exerted a wide spiritual influence, and his interest in the poor and needy in Lancashire and elsewhere rendered his public advocacy of their cause of great value. In him we have a man of eminent public spirit, as well as of originality and spiritual force…The first time he preached was in 1798, in an upper room in a yard at Bedworth, from the words, "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious." His Hymn Book, now so widely known, was first published in 1814, his desire being "to have a selection of hymns free from Arminianism and sound in the faith, that the Church might be edified and God glorified.” He removed to Manchester in 1805, and while over the Church there he travelled over 60,000 miles and preached nearly 12,000 sermons.”