A Sermon by the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon   The Victory of Faith - I John 5:4 (Preached at Exeter Hall, London, March 18th, 1855)   “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4, KJV)  The   epistles   of   John   are   perfumed   with   love.   The   word   is   continually   occurring, while   the   Spirit   enters   into   every   sentence.   Each   letter   is   thoroughly   soaked   and impregnated   with   this   heavenly   honey.   If   he   speaks   of   God,   his   name   must   be   love; are   the   brethren   mentioned,   he   loves   them;   and   even   of   the   world   itself,   he   writes, “God   so   loved   the   world,   that   he   gave   his   only   begotten   Son.”    From   the   opening to   the   conclusion,   love   is   the   manner,   love   the   matter,   love   the   motive,   and   love   the aim.   We   stand,   therefore,   not   a   little   astonished,   to   find   such   martial   words   in   so peaceful   a   writing;   for   I   hear   a   sound   of   war.   It   is   not   the   voice   of   love,   surely,   that says,   “He   that   is   born   of   God   overcometh   the   world.”    Lo,   here   are   strife   and   battle. The   word   “overcometh”    seems   to   have   in   it   something   of   the   sword   and   warfare;   of strife   and   contention;   of   agony   and   wrestling;   so   unlike   the   love   which   is   smooth and   gentle,   which   hath   no   harsh   words   within   its   lips;   whose   mouth   is   lined   with velvet;    whose    words    are    softer    than    butter;    whose    utterances    are    more    easily flowing   than   oil.   Here   we   have   war—war   to   the   knife;   for   I   read   “Whatsoever   is born    of    God    overcometh    the    world;”     strife    until    death;    battle    throughout    life; fighting   with   a   certainty   of   victory.   How   is   it   that   the   same   gospel   which   always speaks   of   peace,   here   proclaims   a   warfare?   How   can   it   be?   Simply   because   there   is something   in   the   world   which   is   antagonistic   to   love;   there   are   principles   abroad which   cannot   bear   light,   and,   therefore,   before   light   can   come,   it   must   chase   the darkness.   Ere   summer   reigns,   you   know,   it   has   to   do   battle   with   old   winter,   and   to send    it    howling    away    in    the    winds    of    March,    and    shedding    its    tears    in   April showers.   So   also,   before   any   great   or   good   thing   can   have   the   mastery   of   this   world, it   must   do   battle   for   it.   Satan   has   seated   himself   on   his   blood-stained   throne,   and who   shall   get   him   down,   except   by   main   force,   and   fight   and   war?   Darkness   broods o’er   the   nations;   nor   can   the   sun   establish   his   empire   of   light   until   he   has   pierced night   with   the   arrowy   sunbeams,   and   made   it   flee   away.   Hence   we   read   in   the   Bible that   Christ   did   not   come   to   send   peace   on   earth,   but   a   sword;   he   came   to   set   “the father   against   the   son,   and   the   son   against   the   father;   the   mother   against   the daughter,   and   the   daughter   against   the   mother;   the   mother-in-law   against   her daughter-in-law,     and     the     daughter-in-law     against     her     mother-in-law;”      not intentionally,   but   as   a   means   to   an   end;   because   there   must   always   be   a   struggle   ere truth   and   righteousness   can   reign. Alas!   for   that   earth   is   the   battle-field   where   good must   combat   with   evil   Angels   look   on   and   hold   their   breath,   burning   to   mingle   in the   conflict,   but   the   troops   of   the   Captain   of   Salvation   may   be   none   but   the   soldiers of    the    cross;    and    that    slender    band    must    fight    alone,    and    yet    shall    triumph gloriously.   Enough   shall   they   be   for   conquest,   and   the   motto   of   their   standard   is enough . Enough by the arm of the helping Trinity. As   God   shall   help   me,   I   shall   speak   to   you   of   three   things   to   be   found   in   the   text. First,   the   text   speaks   of   a   great   victory:   it   says,   “This   is   the   victory.”    Secondly,   it mentions   a   great   birth:   “Whatsoever   is   born   of   God.”    And,   thirdly,   it   extols   a   great grace, whereby we overcome the world, “even our faith.” I.   First,   the   text   speaks   of   a   great   victory —the   victory   of   victories—the   greatest   of all.   We   know   there   have   been   great   battles   where   nations   have   met   in   strife,   and   one has   overcome   the   other;   but   who   has   read   of   a   victory   that   overcame   the   world? Some   will   say   that   Alexander   was   its   conqueror;   but   I   answer,   nay.   He   was   himself the   vanquished   man,   even   when   all   things   were   in   his   possession.   He   fought   for   the world,    and    won    it;    and    then    mark    how    it    mastered    its    master,    conquered    its conqueror,   and   lashed   the   monarch   who   had   been   its   scourge.   See   the   royal   youth weeping,   and   stretching   out   his   hands   with   idiotic   cries,   for   another   world   which   he might   ravage.   He   seemed,   in   outward   show,   to   have   overcome   old   earth;   but,   in reality,   within   his   inmost   soul,   the   earth   had   conquered   him,   had   overwhelmed him,   had   wrapped   him   in   the   dream   of   ambition,   girdled   him   with   the   chains   of covetousness,   so   that   when   he   had   all,   he   was   still   dissatisfied;   and,   like   a   poor slave,    was    dragged    on    at    the    chariot    wheels    of    the    world,    crying,    moaning, lamenting,   because   he   could   not   win   another.   Who   is   the   man   that   ever   overcame the   world?   Let   him   stand   forward:   he   is   a   Triton   among   the   minnows;   he   shall outshine   Cæsar;   he   shall   outmatch   even   our   own   lately   departed   Wellington,   if   he can   say   he   has   overcome   the   world.   It   is   so   rare   a   thing,   a   victory   so   prodigious,   a conquest   so   tremendous,   that   he   who   can   claim   to   have   won   it   may   walk   among   his fellows,   like   Saul,   with   head   and   shoulders   far   above   them.   He   shall   command   our respect;   his   very   presence   shall   awe   us   into   reverence;   his   speech   shall   persuade   us to   obedience;   and,   yielding   honour   to   whom   honour   is   due,   we’ll   say   when   we listen to his voice, “’Tis even as if an angel shook his wings.” I   shall   now   attempt   to   expand   the   idea   I   have   suggested,   showing   you   in   what varied   senses   the   Christian   overcomes   the   world. A   tough   battle,   sirs,   I   warrant   you: not   one   which   carpet   knights   might   win:   no   easy   skirmish   that   he   might   win,   who dashed   to   battle   on   some   sunshiny   day,   looked   at   the   host,   then   turned   his   courser’s rein,   and   daintily   dismounted   at   the   door   of   his   silken   tent—not   one   which   he   shall gain,   who,   hut   a   raw   recruit   to-day,   puts   on   his   regimentals,   and   foolishly   imagines that   one   week   of   service   will   ensure   a   crown   of   glory.   Nay,   sirs,   it   is   a   life-long war—a   fight   needing   the   power   of   all   these   muscles,   and   this   strong   heart;   a   contest which   shall   want   all   our   strength,   if   we   are   to   be   triumphant;   and   if   we   do   come   off more   than   conquerors,   it   shall   be   said   of   us,   as   Hart   said   of   Jesus   Christ:   “He   had strength   enough   and   none   to   spare;”   a   battle   at   which   the   stoutest   heart   might quail;   a   fight   at   which   the   braves   might   shake,   if   he   did   not   remember   that   the   Lord is   on   his   side,   and   therefore,   whom   shall   he   fear?   He   is   the   strength   of   his   life;   of whom   shall   he   be   afraid?   This   fight   with   the   world   is   not   one   of   main   force,   or physical   might;   if   it   were,   we   might   soon   win   it;   but   it   is   all   the   more   dangerous from   the   fact   that   it   is   a   strife   of   mind,   a   contest   of   heart,   a   struggle   of   the   spirit,   a strife   of   the   soul.   When   we   overcome   the   world   in   one   fashion,   we   have   not   half done   our   work;   for   the   world   is   a   Proteus,   changing   its   shape   continually;   like   the chameleon,   it   hath   all   the   colours   of   the   rainbow;   and   when   you   have   worsted   the world   in   one   shape,   it   will   attack   you   in   another.   Until   you   die,   you   will   always have   fresh   appearances   of   the   world   to   wrestle   with.   Let   me   just   mention   some   of the forms in which the Christian overcomes the world. 1.   He   overcomes   the   world   when   it   sets   up   itself   as   a   legislator,   wishing   to   teach him   customs.   You   know   the   world   has   its   old   massive   law   book   of   customs,   and   he who   does   not   choose   to   go   according   to   the   fashion   of   the   world,   is   under   the   ban   of society.   Most   of   you   do   just   as   everybody   else   does,   and   that   is   enough   for   you.   If you   see   so-and-so   do   a   dishonest   thing   in   business,   it   is   sufficient   for   you   that everybody   does   it.   If   ye   see   that   the   majority   of   mankind   have   certain   habits,   ye succumb,   ye   yield.   Ye   think,   I   suppose,   that   to   march   to   hell   in   crowds,   will   help   to diminish     the     fierce     heat     of     the     burning     of     the     bottomless     pit,     instead     of remembering   that   the   more   faggots   the   fiercer   will   be   the   flame.   Men   usually   swim with   the   stream   like   a   dead   fish;   it   is   only   the   living   fish   that   goes   against   it.   It   is only   the   Christian   who   despises   customs,   who   does   not   care   for   conventionalisms, who   only   asks   himself   the   question,   “Is   it   right   or   is   it   wrong?   If   it   is   right,   I   will   be singular.   If   there   is   not   another   man   in   this   world   who   will   do   it,   I   will   do   it;   should a   universal   hiss   go   up   to   heaven,   I   will   do   it   still;   should   the   very   stories   of   earth   fly up,   arid   stone   me   to   death,   I   will   do   it   still;   though   they   bind   me   to   the   stake,   yet   I must   do   it;   I   will   be   singularly   right;   if   the   multitude   will   not   follow   me,   I   will   go without   them,   I   will   be   glad   if   they   will   all   go   and   do   right   as   well,   but   if   not,   I   will despise   their   customs;   I   care   not   what   others   do;   I   shall   not   be   weighed   by   other men;   to   my   own   Master   I   stand   or   fall.   Thus   I   conquer   and   overcome   the   customs   of the   world.”   Fair   world!   she   dresseth   herself   in   ermine,   she   putteth   on   the   robes   of   a judge,   and   she   solemnly   telleth   you,   “Man,   you   are   wrong.   Look   at   your   fellows; see   how   they   do.   Behold   my   laws.   For   hundreds   of   years   have   not   men   done   so? Who   are   you,   to   set   yourself   up   against   me?”   And   she   pulls   out   her   worm-eaten law-book,   and   turning   over   the   musty   pages,   says,   “See,   here   is   an   act   passed   in   the reign   of   Nebuchadnezzar,   and   here   is   another   law   enacted   in   the   days   of   Pharaoh. These   must   be   right,   because   antiquity   has   enrolled   them   among   her   standard authorities.   Do   you   mean   to   set   yourself   up   and   stand   against   the   opinions   of   the multitude?”   Yes,   we   do;   we   take   the   law-book   of   the   world,   and   we   burn   it,   as   the Ephesians   did   their   magic   rolls;   we   take   her   deeds,   and   make   them   into   waste paper;    we    rend    her    proclamation    from    the    walls;    we    care    not    what    others    do; custom   to   us   is   a   cobweb;   we   count   it   folly   to   be   singular;   but   when   to   be   singular   is to   be   right,   we   count   it   the   proudest   wisdom;   we   overcome   the   world;   we   trample on   her   customs;   we   walk   as   a   distinct   people,   a   separate   race,   a   chosen   generation,   a peculiar   people.   The   Christian   behaves   in   his   dealings   not   as   the   laughing   infidel insinuates,   when   he   sneeringly   describes   Mawworm,   as   saying,   “Boy,   have   you sanded   the   sugar?”   “Yes,   sir.”   “Have   you   put   the   sloe-leaves   in   the   tea?”   “Yes,   sir.” “Have    you    put    red    lead    in    the    pepper?”    “Yes,    sir.”    “Then    come    to    prayers.” Christians   do   not   do   so;   they   say,   “We   know   better;   we   cannot   conform   to   the customs    of    the    world.    If    we    pray,    we    will    also    act,    or    else    we    are    hypocrites, confounded   hypocrites.   If   we   go   to   the   house   of   God,   and   profess   to   love   him,   we love   him   every.   where;   we   take   our   religion   with   us   into   the   shop,   behind   the counter;   into   our   offices;   we   must   have   it   everywhere,   or   else   God   knows   it   is   not religion   at   all.”   Ye   must   stand   up,   then,   against   the   customs   of   mankind. Albeit,   this may   be   a   three-million   peopled   city,   ye   are   to   come   out   and   be   separate,   if   ye   would overcome the world. 2.   We   rebel   against   the   world’s   customs.   And   if   we   do   so,   what   is   the   conduct   of our   enemy?   She   changes   her   aspect.   “That   man   is   a   heretic;   that   man   is   a   fanatic;   he is   a   cant,   he   is   a   hypocrite,”   says   the   world   directly.   She   grasps   her   sword,   she putteth   frowns   upon   her   brow,   she   scowleth   like   a   demon,   she   girdeth   tempests round   about   her,   and   she   saith,   “The   man   dares   defy   my   government;   he   will   not do   as   others   do.   Now   I   will   persecute   him.   Slander!   come   from   the   depths   of   hell and   hiss   at   him.   Envy!   sharpen   up   thy   tooth   and   bite   him.”   She   fetches   up   all   false things,   arid   she   persecutes   the   man.   If   she   can,   she   does   it   with   the   hand;   if   not,   by the   tongue.   She   afflicts   him   wherever   he   is.   She   tries   to   ruin   him   in   business;   or,   if he    standeth    forth    as    the    champion    of    the    truth    why    then    she    laugheth,    arid mocketh,   and   scorneth.   She   lets   no   stone   be   unturned   whereby   she   may   injure   him. What   is   then   the   behaviour   of   the   Lord’s   warrior,   when   he   sees   the   world   take   up arms   against   him,   and   when   he   sees   all   earth,   like   an   army,   coming   to   chase   him, and   utterly   destroy   him?   Does   he   yield?   Does   he   yield?   Does   he   bend?   Does   he cringe?   Oh,   no!   Like   Luther,   he   writes   Cedo   nulli ”   on   his   banner—“I   yield   to   none;” and he goes to war against the world, if the world goes to war against him. “Let earth be all in arms abroad, He dwells in perfect peace.” Ah!   some   of   you,   if   you   had   a   word   spoken   against   you,   would   at   once   give   up what   religion   you   have;   but   the   true-born   child   of   God   cares   little   for   man’s   opinion. “Ah,”   says   he,   “let   my   bread   fail   me,   let   me   be   doomed   to   wander   penniless   the wide   world   o’er;   yea,   let   me   die:   each   drop   of   blood   within   these   veins   belongs   to Christ,   and   I   am   ready   to   shed   it   for   his   name’s   sake.”   He   counts   all   things   but   loss, that   he   may   win   Christ—that   he   may   be   found   in   him;   and   when   the   world’s thunders roars, he smiles at the uproar, while lie hums his pleasant tune:— “Jerusalem my happy home, Name ever dear to me; When shall my labours have an end, In joy, and peace, and thee?” When   her   sword   comes   out,   he   looketh   at   it.   “Ah,”   saith   he,   “just   as   the   lightning leapeth   from   its   thunder   lair,   splitteth   the   clouds,   and   affrighteth   the   stars,   but   is powerless   against   the   rock-covered   mountaineer,   who   smiles   at   its   grandeur,   so now   the   world   cannot   hurt   me,   for   in   the   time   of   trouble   my   Father   hides   me   in   his pavilion,   in   the   secret   of   his   tabernacle   doth   he   hide   me,   and   set   me   up   upon   a rock.” Thus, again, we conquer the world, by not caring for its frowns. 3.   “Well,”   saith   the   world,   “I   will   try   another   style,”   and   this   believe   me,   is   the most   dangerous   of   all.   A   smiling   world   is   worse   than   a   frowning   one.   She   saith,   “I cannot   smite   the   man   low   with   my   repeated   blows,   I   will   take   off   my   mailed   glove, and   showing   him   a   fair   white   hand,   I’ll   bid   him   kiss   it.   I   will   tell   him   I   love   him:   I will   flatter   him,   I   will   speak   good   words   to   him.”   John   Bunyan   well   describes   this Madam   Bubble:   she   has   a   winning   way   with   her;   she   drops   a   smile   at   the   end   of each   of   her   sentences;   she   talks   much   of   fair   things,   arid   tries   to   win   and   woo.   Oh, believe   me,   Christians   are   not   so   much   in   danger   when   they   are   persecuted   as   when they   are   admired.   When   we   stand   upon   the   pinnacle   of   popularity,   we   may   well tremble   and   fear.   It   is   not   when   we   are   hissed   at,   and   hooted,   that   we   have   any cause   to   be   alarmed;   it   is   when   we   are   dandled   on   the   lap   of   fortune,   and   nursed upon   the   knees   of   the   people;   it   is   when   all   men   speak   well   of   us,   that   woe   is   unto us.   It   is   not   in   the   cold   wintry   wind   that   I   take   off   my   coat   of   righteousness,   and throw   it   away;   it   is   when   the   sun   comes,   when   the   weather   is   warm,   and   the   air balmy,   that   I   unguardedly   strip   off   my   robes,   and   become   naked.   Good   God!   how many    a    man    has    been    made    naked    by    the    love    of    this    world!    The    world    has flattered    and    applauded    him;    he    has    drunk    the    flattery;    it    was    an    intoxicating draught;   he   has   staggered,   he   has   reeled,   he   has   sinned,   he   has   lost   his   reputation; and   as   a   comet   that   erst   flashed   across   the   sky,   doth   wander   far   into   space,   arid   is lost   in   darkness,   so   doth   he;   great   as   he   was,   he   falls;   mighty   as   he   was,   he   wanders, and   is   lost.   But   the   true   child   of   God   is   never   so;   he   is   as   safe   when   the   world smiles,   as   when   it   frowns;   he   cares   as   little   for   her   praise   as   for   her   dispraise.   If   he   is praised,   and   it   is   true,   he   says,   “My   deeds   deserves   praise,   but   I   refer   all   honor   to my   God.”   Great   souls   know   what   they   merit   from   their   critic;   to   them   it   is   nothing more   than   the   giving   of   their   daily   income.   Some   men   cannot   live   without   a   large amount   of   praise;   and   if   they   have   no   more   than   they   deserve,   let   them   have   it.   If they   are   children   of   God,   they   will   be   kept   steady;   they   will   not   be   ruined   or spoiled;   but   they   will   stand   with   feet   like   hinds’   feet   upon   high   places.— “This   is the victory that overcometh the world.” 4.   Sometimes,   again,   the   world   turns   jailer   to   a   Christian.   God   sends   affliction   and sorrow,   until   life   is   a   prison-house,   the   world   its   jailer—and   a   wretched   jailer   too. Have   you   ever   been   in   trials   and   troubles,   my   friends?   and   has   the   world   never come   to   you   and   said,   “Poor   prisoner,   I   have   a   key   that   will   let   you   out.   You   are   in pecuniary   difficulties;   I   will   tell   you   how   you   may   get   free.   Put   that   Mr.   Conscience away.   He   asks   you   whether   it   is   a   dishonest   act.   Never   mind   about   him;   let   him sleep;   think   about   the   honesty   after   you   have   got   the   money,   and   repent   at   your leisure.”   So   saith   the   world;   but   you   say,   “I   cannot   do   the   thing.”   “Well,”   says   the world,   “then   groan   and   grumble:   a   good   man   like   you   locked   up   in   this   prison!” “No,”   says   the   Christian,   “my   Father   sent   me   into   want,   and   in   his   own   time   he   will fetch   me   out;   but   if   I   die   here   I   will   not   use   wrong   means   to   escape.   My   Father   put me   here   for   my   good,   I   will   not   grumble;   if   my   bones   must   lie   here—if   my   coffin   is to     be     under     these     stones—if     my     tomb-stone     shall     be     in     the     wall     of     my dungeon—here   will   I   die,   rather   than   so   much   as   lift   a   finger   to   get   out   by   unfair means.”   “Ah,”   says   the   world,   “then   thou   art   a   fool.”   The   scorner   laughs   and   passes on,   saying,   “The   man   has   no   brain,   he   will   not   do   a   bold   thing;   he   hath   no   courage; he   will   not   launch   upon   the   sea;   he   wants   to   go   in   the   old   beaten   track   of   morality.” Ay, so he does; for thus he overcomes the world. Oh!   I   might   tell   you   of   some   battles   that   have   been   fought.   There   has   been   many   a poor   maiden,   who   has   worked,   worked,   worked,   until   her   fingers   were   worn   to   the bone,   to   earn   a   scanty   living   out   of   the   things   which   we   wear   upon   us,   knowing   not that   ofttimes   we   wear   the   blood,   and   bones,   and   sinews   of   poor   girls.   That   poor   girl has   been   tempted   a   thousand   times,   the   evil   one   has   tried   to   seduce   her,   but   she   has fought   a   valiant   battle;   stern   in   her   integrity,   in   the   midst   of   poverty   she   still   stands upright,   “Clear   as   the   sun,   fair   as   the   moon,   and   terrible   as   an   army   with   banners,” a   heroine   unconquered   by   the   temptations   and   enticements   of   vice.   In   other   cases: many   a   man   has   had   the   chance   of   being   rich   in   an   hour,   affluent   in   a   moment,   if   he would   but   clutch   something   which   he   dare   not   look   at,   because   God   within   him said,   “No.”   The   world   said,   “Be   rich,   be   rich;”   but   the   Holy   Spirit   said,   “No!   be honest;   serve   thy   God.”   Oh,   the   stern   contest.   and   the   manly   combat   carried   on within   the   heart!   But   he   said,   “No;   could   I   have   the   stars   transmuted   into   worlds   of gold,   I   would   not   for   those   globes   of   wealth   belie   my   principles,   and   damage   my soul”;   thus   he   walks   a   conqueror.   “This   is   the   victory   that   overcometh   the   world, even our faith.” II.   But   my   text   speaks   of   a   great   birth .   A   very   kind   friend   has   told   me   that   while   I was   preaching   in   Exeter   Hall   I   ought   to   pay   deference   to   the   varied   opinions   of   my hearers;   that   albeit   I   may   be   a   Calvinist   and   a   Baptist,   I   should   recollect   that   there are   a   variety   of   creeds   here.   Now,   if   I   were   to   preach   nothing   but   what   would   please the   whole   lot   of   you,   what   on   earth   should   I   do?   I   preach   what   I   believe   to   be   true; and   if   the   omission   of   a   single   truth   that   I   believe,   would   make   me   king   of   England throughout   eternity,   I   would   not   leave   it   out.   Those   who   do   not   like   what   I   say   have the   option   of   leaving   it.   They   come   here,   I   suppose,   to   please   themselves;   and   if   the truth   does   not   please   them,   they   can   leave   it.   I   will   never   be   afraid   that   an   honest British   audience   will   turn   away   from   the   man   who   does   not   stick,   and   stutter,   and stammer   in   speaking   the   truth.   Well,   now,   about   this   great   birth.   I   am   going   to   say perhaps   a   harsh   thing,   but   I   heard   it   said   by   Mr.   Jay   first   of   all.   Some   say   a   new birth   takes   place   in   an   infant   baptism,   but   I   remember   that   venerable   patriarch saying,   “Popery   is   a   lie,   Puseyism   is   a   lie,   baptismal   regeneration   is   a   lie.”   So   it   is.   It is   a   lie   so   palpable   that   I   can   scarcely   imagine   the   preachers   of   it   have   any   brains   in their   heads   at   all.   It   is   so   absurd   upon   the   very   face   of   it,   that   a   man   who   believes   it put   himself   below   the   range   of   a   common-sense   man.   Believe   that   every   child   by   a drop   of   water   is   born   again!   Then   that   man   that   you   see   in   the   ring   as   a   prize-fighter is   born   again,   because   those   sanctified   drops   once   fell   upon   his   infant   forehead! Another   man   swears—behold   him   drunk   and   reeling   about   the   streets.   He   is   born again!   A   pretty   born   again   that   is!   I   think   he   wants   to   be   born   again   another   time. Such   a   regeneration   as   that   only   fits   him   for   the   devil;   and   by   its   deluding   effect, may   even   make   him   sevenfold   more   the   child   of   hell.   But   the   men   who   curse,   and swear,   and   rob   and   steal,   and   those   poor   wretches   who   are   hanged,   have   all   been born   again,   according   to   the   fiction   of   this   beautiful   Puseyite   church.   Out   upon   it! out   upon   it!   Ah,   God   sends   something   better   than   that   into   men’s   hearts,   when   he sends them a new birth. However,    the    text    speaks    of    a    great    birth.    “Whatsoever    is    born    of    God overcometh   the   world.”    This   new   birth   is   the   mysterious   point   in   all   religion.   If   you preach   anything   else   except   the   new   birth   you   will   always   get   on   well   with   your hearers;   but   if   you   insist   that   in   order   to   enter   heaven   there   must   be   a   radical change,   though   this   is   the   doctrine   of   the   Scripture,   it   is   so   unpalatable   to   mankind in   general   that   you   will   scarcely   get   them   to   listen.   Ah!   now   ye   turn   away   if   I   begin to   tell   you,   that   “except   ye   be   born   of   water   and   of   the   Spirit,   ye   cannot   enter   the kingdom   of   heaven.”    If   I   tell   you   that   there   must   be   a   regenerating   influence exerted   upon   your   minds   by   the   power   of   the   Holy   Ghost   then   I   know   ye   will   say “it   is   enthusiasm.”   Ah!   but   it   is   the   enthusiasm   of   the   Bible.   There   I   stand;   by   this   I will   be   judged.   If   the   Bible   does   not   say   we   must   be   born   again,   then   I   give   it   up; but if it does then, sirs, do not distrust that truth on which your salvation hangs. What   is   it   to   be   born   again,   then?   Very   briefly,   to   be   born   again   is   to   undergo   a change   so   mysterious,   that   human   words   cannot   speak   of   it.   As   we   cannot   describe our   first   birth,   so   it   is   impossible   for   us   to   describe   the   second.   “The   wind   bloweth where   it   listeth,   and   thou   hearest   the   sound   thereof,   but   canst   not   tell   whence   it cometh   or   whither   it   goeth;   so   is   every   one   that   is   born   of   the   Spirit.”    But   while   it is   so   mysterious,   it   is   a   change   which   is   known   and   felt.   People   are   not   born   again when   they   are   in   bed   and   asleep,   so   that   they   do   not   know   it.   They   feel   it;   they experience   it.   Galvanism,   or   the   power   of   electricity,   may   be   mysterious;   but   they produce   a   feeling—a   sensation.   So   does   the   new   birth.   At   the   time   of   the   new   birth the   soul   is   in   great   agony—often   drowned   in   seas   of   tears.   Sometimes   it   drinks bitters,   now   and   then   mingled   with   sweet   drops   of   hope.   Whilst   we   are   passing from   death   unto   life,   there   is   an   experience   which   none   but   the   child   of   God   can really   understand.   It   is   a   mysterious   change;   but,   at   the   same   time,   it   is   a   positive one.   It   is   as   much   a   change   as   if   this   heart   were   taken   out   of   me,   and   the   black   drops of   blood   wrung   from   it,   then   washed   and   cleansed   and   put   into   my   soul   again.   It   is “a new heart and a right spirit:” a mysterious but yet an actual and real change! Let   me   tell   you,   moreover,   that   this   change   is   a   supernatural   one.   It   is   not   one   that a   man   performs   upon   himself.   It   is   not   leaving   off   drinking   and   becoming   sober;   it is   not   turning   from   a   Roman   Catholic   to   a   Protestant;   it   is   not   veering   round   from   a Dissenter   to   a   Churchman,   or   a   Churchman   to   a   Dissenter.   It   is   a   vast   deal   more than   that.   It   is   a   new   principle   infused   which   works   in   the   heart,   enters   the   very soul,   and   moves   the   entire   man.   Not   a   change   of   my   name,   but   a   renewal   of   my nature,   so   that   I   am   not   the   man   I   used   to   be,   but   a   new   man   in   Christ   Jesus.   It   is   a supernatural   change—something   which   man   cannot   do,   and   which   only   God   can effect;   which   the   Bible   itself   cannot   accomplish   without   the   attendant   Spirit   of   God; which    no    minister’s    eloquence    can    bring    about—something    so    mighty    and wondrous,   that   it   must   be   confessed   to   be   the   work   of   God,   and   God   alone.   Here   is the   place   to   observe   that   this   new   birth   is   an   enduring   change.   Arminians   tell   us that   people   are   born   again,   then   fall   into   sin,   pick   themselves   up   again,   and   become Christians   again—fall   into   sin,   lose   the   grace   of   God,   then   come   back   again—fall into   sin   a   hundred   times   in   their   lives,   and   so   keep   on   losing   grace   and   recovering it.   Well,   I   suppose   it   is   a   new   version   of   the   Scripture   where   you   read   of   that.   But   I read   in   my   Bible   that   if   true   Christians   could   fall   away,   it   would   be   impossible   to renew   them   again   unto   repentance.   I   read,   moreover,   that   wherever   God   has   begun a   good   work   he   will   carry   it   on   even   to   the   end;   and   that   whom   he   once   loves,   he loves   to   the   end.   If   I   have   simply   been   reformed,   I   may   be   a   drunkard   yet,   or   you may    see    me    acting    on    the    stage.    But    if    I    am    really    born    again,    with    that    real supernatural   change,   I   shall   never   fall   away,   I   may   fall   into   a   sin,   but   I   shall   not   fall finally;   I   shall   stand   while   life   shall   last,   constantly   secure;   and   when   I   die   it   shall   be said— “Servant of God, well done! Rest from thy blest employ; The battle’s fought, the victory’s won; Enter thy rest of joy.” Do    not    deceive    yourselves,    my    beloved.    If    you    imagine    that    you    have    been regenerated,   and   having   gone   away   from   God,   will   be   once   more   born   again,   you do   not   know   anything   about   the   matter;   for   “he   that   is   born   of   God   sinneth   not.” That   is,   he   does   not   sin   so   much   as   to   fall   away   from   grace;   “for   he   keepeth himself,   that   the   evil   one   toucheth   him   not.”    Happy   is   the   man   who   is   really   and actually regenerate, and passed from death unto life! III.   To   conclude.   There   is   a   great   grace .   Persons   who   are   born   again   really   do overcome   the   world.   How   is   this   brought   about?   The   text   says,   “This   is   the   victory that   overcometh   the   world,   even   our   faith.”    Christians   do   not   triumph   over   the world   by   reason.   Not   at   all.   Reason   is   a   very   good   thing,   and   nobody   should   find fault   with   it.   Reason   is   a   candle:   but   faith   is   a   sun.   Well,   I   prefer   the   sun,   though   I   do not   put   out   the   candle.   I   use   my   reason   as   a   Christian   man;   I   exercise   it   constantly: but   when   I   come   to   real   warfare,   reason   is   a   wooden   sword;   it   breaks,   it   snaps; while   faith,   that   sword   of   true   Jerusalem   metal,   cuts   to   the   dividing   of   soul   and body.   My   text   says,   “This   is   the   victory   which   overcometh   the   world,   even   our faith.”    Who   are   the   men   that   do   anything   in   the   world? Are   they   not   always   men   of faith?   Take   it   even   as   natural   faith.   Who   wins   the   battle?   Why,   the   man   who   knows he   will   win   it,   and   vows   that   he   will   be   victor.   Who   never   gets   on   in   the   world?   The man   who   is   always   afraid   to   do   a   thing,   for   fear   he   cannot   accomplish   it.   Who climbs   the   top   of   the Alps?   The   man   who   says,   “I   will   do   it,   or   I   will   die.”   Let   such   a man   make   up   his   mind   that   he   can   do   a   thing.   and   he   will   do   it,   if   it   is   within   the range   of   possibility.   Who   have   been   the   men   who   have   lifted   the   standard,   and grasping   it   with   firm   hand,   have   upheld   it   in   the   midst   of   stormy   strife   and   battle? Why,   men   of   faith.   Who   have   done   great   things?   Not   men   of   fear   and   trembling, men   who   are   afraid;   but   men   of   faith,   who   had   bold   fronts,   and   foreheads   made   of brass-men   who   never   shook,   and   never   trembled,   but   believing   in   God,   lifted   their eyes to the hills, whence cometh their strength. “Never   was   a   marvel   done   upon   the   earth,   but   it   had   sprung   of   faith;   nothing noble,   generous,   or   great,   but   faith   was   the   root   of   the   achievement;   nothing   comely, nothing   famous,   but   its   praise   is   faith.   Leonidas   fought   in   human   faith   as   Joshua   in divine.   Xenophon   trusted   to   his   skill,   and   the   sons   of   Matthias   to   their   cause.”   Faith is   mightiest   of   the   mighty.   It   is   the   monarch   of   the   realms   of   the   mind;   there   is   no being   superior   to   its   strength,   no   creature   which   will   not   bow   to   its   divine   prowess. The   want   of   faith   makes   a   man   despicable,   it   shrivels   him   up   so   small   that   he   might live   in   a   nutshell.   Give   him   faith,   and   he   is   a   leviathan   that   can   dive   into   the   depths of   the   sea;   he   is   a   war   horse,   that   cries,   aha!   aha!   in   the   battle;   he   is   a   giant   who   takes nations   and   crumbles   them   in   his   hand,   who   encounters   hosts,   and   at   a   sword   they vanish;   he   binds   up   sheaves   of   sceptres,   and   gathers   up   all   the   crowns   at   his   own. There   is   nothing   like   faith,   sirs.   Faith   makes   you   almost   as   omnipotent   as   God,   by the borrowed might of its divinity. Give us faith and we can do all things. I   want   to   tell   you   how   it   is   that   faith   helps   Christians   to   overcome   the   world.   It always   does   it   homeopathically.   You   say,   “That   is   a   singular   idea.”   So   it   may   be.   The principle   is   that,   “Like   cures   like.”   So   does   faith   overcome   the   world   by   curing   like with   like.   How   does   faith   trample   upon   the   fear   of   the   world?   By   the   fear   of   God. “Now,”   says   the   world,   “if   you   do   not   do   this   I   will   take   away   your   life.   If   you   do not   bow   down   before   my   false   god,   you   shall   be   put   in   yon   burning   fiery   furnace.” “But,”   says   the   man   of   faith,   “I   fear   him   who   can   destroy   both   body   and   soul   in hell.   True,   I   may   dread   you,   but   I   have   a   greater   fear   than   that,   I   fear   lest   I   should displease    God;    I    tremble    lest    I    should    offend    my    Sovereign.”    So    the    one    fear counterbalances   the   other.   How   does   faith   overthrow   the   world’s   hopes?   “There,” says   the   world,   “I   will   give   thee   this,   I   will   give   thee   that,   if   thou   wilt   be   my disciple.   There   is   a   hope   for   you;   you   shall   be   rich,   you   shall   be   great.”   But,   faith says,   “I   have   a   hope   laid   up   in   heaven;   a   hope   which   fadeth   not   away,   eternal, incorrupt,   amaranthine   hope,   a   golden   hope,   a   crown   of   life;”   and   the   hope   of   glory overcomes   all   the   hopes   of   the   world,   “Ah!”   says   the   world,   “Why   not   follow   the example   of   your   fellows?”   “Because,”   says   faith,   “I   will   follow   the   example   of Christ.”   If   the   world   puts   one   example   before   us,   faith   puts   another.   “Oh,   follow   the example   of   such   an   one;   he   is   wise,   and   great,   and   good,”   says   the   world.   Says   faith, “I   will   follow   Christ;   he   is   the   wisest,   the   greatest,   and   the   best.”   It   overcomes example   by   example,   “Well,”   says   the   world,   “since   thou   wilt   not   be   conquered   by all   this,   come,   I   will   love   thee;   thou   shalt   be   my   friend.”   Faith   says,   “He   that   is   the friend   of   this   world,   cannot   be   the   friend   of   God.   God   loves   me.”   So   he   puts   love against   love;   fear   against   fear;   hope   against   hope;   dread   against   dread;   and   so   faith overcomes the world by like curing like. In   closing   my   discourse,   men   and   brethren,   I   am   but   a   child;   I   have   spoken   to   you as   I   could   this   morning.   Another   time,   perhaps   I   might   be   able   to   launch   more thunders,   and   to   proclaim   better   the   word   of   God;   but   this   I   am   sure   of—I   tell   you all   I   know,   and   speak   right   on.   I   am   no   orator;   but   just   tell   you   what   springs   up from   my   heart.   But   before   I   have   done,   O   that   I   may   have   a   word   with   your   souls. How   many   are   there   here   who   are   born   again?   Some   turn   a   deaf   ear,   and   say,   “It   is all   nonsense;   we   go   to   our   place   of   worship   regularly;   put   our   hymn   books   and Bibles   under   our   arm!   and   we   are   very   religious   sort   of   people.”   Ah,   soul!   if   I   meet you   at   the   bar   of   judgment,   recollect   I   said—and   said   God’s   word— “Except   ye   be born   again   ye   shall   not   enter   the   kingdom   of   heaven.”    Others   of   you   say,   “We cannot   believe   that   being   born   again   is   such   a   change   as   you   speak   of,   I   am   a   great deal   better   than   I   used   to   be;   I   do   not   swear   now,   and   I   am   very   much   reformed.” Sirs,   I   tell   you   it   is   no   little   change.   It   is   not   mending   the   pitcher,   but   it   is   breaking   it up   and   having   a   new   one;   it   is   not   patching   the   heart,   it   is   having   a   new   heart   and   a right   spirit.   There   is   nothing   but   death   unto   sin,   and   life   unto   righteousness,   that will save your souls. I   am   preaching   no   new   doctrine.   Turn   to   the   articles   of   the   Church   of   England,   and read   it   there.   Church   people   come   to   me   sometimes   to   unite   with   our   church;   I show   them   our   doctrines   in   their   prayer   book,   and   they   have   said   they   never   knew they   were   there.   My   dear   hearers,   why   cannot   you   read   your   own   articles   of   faith? Why   do   you   not   know   what   is   in   your   own   prayer   book?   Men,   now-a-days,   do   not read   their   Bibles,   and   they   have   for   the   most   part   no   religion.   They   have   a   religion, which    is    all    outside    show,    but    they    do    not    think    of    searching    to    see    what    its meaning   really   is.   Sirs,   it   is   not   the   cloak   of   religion   that   will   do   for   you;   it   is   a   vital godliness   you   need;   it   is   not   a   religious   Sunday,   it   is   a   religious   Monday;   it   is   not   a pious   church,   it   is   a   pious   closet;   it   is   not   a   sacred   place   to   kneel   in,   it   is   a   holy   place to   stand   in   all   day   long.   There   must   be   a   change   of   heart,   real,   radical,   vital,   entire. And   now,   what   say   you?   Has   your   faith   overcome   the   world?   Can   you   live   above it?   or   do   you   love   the   world   and   the   things   thereof?   If   so,   sirs,   ye   must   go   on   your way   and   perish,   each   one   of   you,   unless   ye   turn   from   that,   and   give   your   hearts   to Christ.   Oh!   what   say   you,   is   Jesus   worthy   of   your   love?   Are   the   things   of   eternity and   heaven   worth   the   things   of   time?   Is   it   so   sweet   to   be   a   worldling,   that   for   that you   can   lie   down   in   torment?   Is   it   so   good   to   be   a   sinner,   that   for   this   you   can   risk your   soul’s   eternal   welfare?   O,   my   friends,   is   it   worth   your   while   to   run   the   risk   of an   eternity   of   woe   for   a   hour   of   pleasure?   Is   a   dance   worth   dancing   in   hell   with howling   fiends   for   ever?   Is   one   dream,   with   a   horrid   waking,   worth   enjoying,   when there   are   the   glories   of   heaven   for   those   who   follow   God?   Oh!   if   my   lips   would   let me   speak   to   you,   my   heart   would   run   over   at   my   eyes,   and   I   would   weep   myself away,    until    ye    had    pity    on    your    own    poor    souls.    I    know    I    am,    in    a    measure, accountable   for   your   souls,   If   the   watchmen   warn   them   not,   they   shall   perish,   but their   blood   shall   be   required   at   the   watchman’s   hands,   “Turn   ye,   turn   ye,   why   will ye   die,   O   house   of   Israel?”    thus   saith   the   Lord.   Besotted,   filled   with   your   evil   wills, inclined   to   evil;   still   the   Holy   Ghost   speaks   by   me   this   morning,   “If   ye   turn   unto   the Lord,   with   full   purpose   of   heart,   he   will   have   mercy   upon   you,   and   to   our   God,   he will   abundantly   pardon.”   I   cannot   bring   you;   I   cannot   fetch   you.   My   words   are powerless,   my   thoughts   are   weak!   Old   Adam   is   too   strong   for   this   young   child   to draw   or   drag;   but   God   speak   to   you,   dear   hearts;   God   send   the   truth   home,   and then   we   shall   rejoice   together,   both   he   that   soweth   and   he   that   reapeth,   because   God has   given   us   the   increase.   God   bless   you!   may   you   all   be   born   again,   and   have   that faith that overcometh the world! “Have I that faith which looks to Christ, O’ercomes the world and sin— Receives him Prophet, Priest, and King, And makes the conscience clean? “If I this precious grace possess, All praise is due to thee; If not, I seek it from thy hands; Now grant it, Lord, to me.”    --------   This sermon can be found in the book Spurgeon’s Sermons, Vol. I (The New Park Street Pulpit).  A PDF eBook of this volume is available free of charge at: http://www.ClassicChristianLibrary.com  
© 1994-2017, Scott Sperling
A Sermon by the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon   The Victory of Faith - I John 5:4 (Preached at Exeter Hall, London, March 18th, 1855)   “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4, KJV)  The    epistles    of    John    are    perfumed    with    love.    The word   is   continually   occurring,   while   the   Spirit   enters into   every   sentence.   Each   letter   is   thoroughly   soaked and    impregnated    with    this    heavenly    honey.    If    he speaks   of   God,   his   name   must   be   love;   are   the   brethren mentioned,   he   loves   them;   and   even   of   the   world   itself, he   writes,   “God   so   loved   the   world,   that   he   gave   his only     begotten     Son.”      From     the     opening     to     the conclusion,   love   is   the   manner,   love   the   matter,   love the   motive,   and   love   the   aim.   We   stand,   therefore,   not   a little    astonished,    to    find    such    martial    words    in    so peaceful   a   writing;   for   I   hear   a   sound   of   war.   It   is   not the   voice   of   love,   surely,   that   says,   “He   that   is   born   of God   overcometh   the   world.”    Lo,   here   are   strife   and battle.    The    word    “overcometh”     seems    to    have    in    it something    of    the    sword    and    warfare;    of    strife    and contention;   of   agony   and   wrestling;   so   unlike   the   love which    is    smooth    and    gentle,    which    hath    no    harsh words    within    its    lips;    whose    mouth    is    lined    with velvet;    whose    words    are    softer    than    butter;    whose utterances   are   more   easily   flowing   than   oil.