It is a very great mystery that God permits the ungodly to go on as they do. Walk down some of our streets at night, if you dare, and mark what you see. You inward- ly exclaim, “I wonder why God permits it; here is a reeking Sodom in the heart of a so-called Christian city.” Step into some of the dens of infamy, and you will feel, “God could, if He would, suppress this in a minute—why doesn’t He?” Listen for a moment to the talk of blasphemers—what atrocious insults they perpetrate upon the Majesty of Heaven; they go out of their way to imprecate curses upon them- selves, their limbs, their eyes, their souls. What are they doing? If they will not obey God, could they not at least leave Him alone, and not insult Him to His face? We have heard in these days a blasphemer stand upon a public platform and say, “There is no God, and if there is a God,” taking out his watch, “let him strike me dead in five minutes.” When he still found himself alive, he argued that there was no God. The fact was, God was much too great to be put out of patience by such an insignificant wretch as he! Had God been less than God, He would have struck him dead, but being God He passed him by with sublime indifference, as a hero would pass by the chirping of a grasshopper. Yet the Divine Forbearance is certainly very wonderful, very marvelous. I have heard say that when Mr. John Ryland was present at a certain meeting when the slave-trade question was first agitated, a story was told in that meeting of atrocities perpetrated in the middle passage between Africa and the States. And those atrocities were so enormous that John Ryland, in the exuberance of his wrath, knelt down, and said to God, “Lift up Your thunderbolt and damn these wretches, O righteous God!” I know that in sight of oppression and cruelty, I have felt a longing for speedy vengeance on the tyrant, and have been very thankful to think that I had not the handling of the thunderbolts. But God has looked on, calmly looked on, and allowed infamies which were nothing less than infernal to be perpetrated, again and again! He appears to wink at men’s sins.
And earlier in the sermon:
How came it that moral evil was allowed to come into this fair world, to spoil Eden, to pollute mankind, to fill the grave, and populate Hell? Why was it that after sin had broken out in the universe, it was permitted to remain in existence? Why not shut up the first devil as in a plague ward, build a jail in Tophet, surround it with walls of flame, and never let the demon wander forth? Why should the Evil One be permitted, like a roaring lion, to roam abroad seeking whom he may devour? When sin infected the race of men, why not destroy them all, and stamp out the disease, as we did lately when the disease came among our cattle? Why not purge it with fire till the last speck of the leprosy was burned out? What mattered the destruc- tion of a race, if sin were destroyed with them?
Inasmuch as you have many trials, remember the depth of the Divine Faithfulness. You have not been able to comprehend the reason for your trials, but I beseech you believe in the firmness and stabil- ity of the Divine Affection towards you. In proportion to your tribulations shall be your consolations! If you have shallow sorrows, you shall receive but shallow Graces, but if you have deep afflictions, you shall obtain the deeper proofs of the Faithfulness of God! I could gladly lay down and die when I think of the trials of this life, but I recover myself, and laugh at them all, even as the daughter of Zion shook her head, and laughed at her foes, when I remember that the Mighty God of Jacob is our Refuge, and that He will not fail us, nor take away His hand till He has brought about His Purpose concerning us! Great deeps of trial bring with them great deeps of Promise!
(Note: But I have cheated in a way. Gone to the back of the book. Read for yourself. And they called Spurgeon the “common man’s preacher”. How far our powers of expression have slipped since then! Nothing common about this message of April, 1869. Thanks to Anthony Gomez of Moncks Corner, S.C….Doug)