C. H. Spurgeon
Sermon Notes From Charles Spurgeon
These Notes from Spurgeon, famed for his expository preaching in England at Park St.
and Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, are well worth studying, adapting, and making
your own, for any sound preacher of the Gospel. He is deservedly known
to this day as "the Prince of Preachers," and is arguably the greatest
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21. Clinging To The Altar.

Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the Lord, and caught hold on the horns of the altar .... And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the Lord, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. 1 Kings 2:28-30

Joab's conscience pricks him when he hears that Solomon is dealing with other offenders. Joab was a remorseless warrior, yet when his own turn comes he flies from death.

Joab had little enough of religion, yet he flies to the altar when the sword pursues him. Joab refuses to quit his shelter, and falls slain at the altar.

Many are for running to the use of external religion when death threatens them. Then they go to greater lengths than Scripture prescribes; they not only go to the tabernacle of the Lord, but they must needs cling to the altar.


If a man will rest in external rites he will die there.

Sacraments, in health or in sickness, are unavailing as means of salvation. They are intended only for those saved already, and will be injurious to others (1 Cor. 11:29).

Religious observances: such as frequenting sermons, attending prayer-meetings, joining in Bible-readings, practicing family-prayer: all these put together cannot save a man from the punishment due to his sins. They are good things, but the merely formal practice of them cannot save.

Ministers. These are looked upon by some dying persons with foolish reverence. In the hour of death resort is made to their prayers at the bedside. Importance is attached to funeral sermons, and ceremonials. What superstition!

Professions. These may be correct, long, reputable, and eminent; but yet they may not be proofs of safety. Connection with the most pure of churches would be a poor ground of trust.

Orthodoxy in doctrine, ordinances, and religious practices is much thought of by some; but it is terribly insufficient.

Feelings. Dread, delight, dreaminess, despondency: these have, each in its turn, been relied upon as grounds of hope; but they are all futile.

What an awful thing to perish with your hand on the altar of God! Yet you must, unless your heart is renewed by divine grace.

The outward altar was never intended to be a sanctuary for the guilty. Read Exodus 21:14, where it is said of the criminal, "Thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die."

II. A SPIRITUAL RESORT TO THE TRUE ALTAR AVAILS FOR SALVATION. We will use Joab's case as an illustration.

1. His act: he "caught hold on the horns of the altar."

We do this spiritually by flying from the sword of Justice to the person of Jesus.

And by taking hold upon his great atoning work, and thus through faith uniting ourselves to his propitiation.

2. The fierce demand of his adversary: "Thus saith the king, Come forth!" This is the demand of:

Unbelieving Pharisees who teach salvation by works.

Accusing Conscience within the man.

Satan, quoting Holy Scripture falsely.

3. The desperate resolve of Joab, "Nay, but I will die here:"

This is a wise resolution, for we:

Must perish elsewhere.

Cannot make our case worse by clinging to Christ.

Have nowhere else to cling. No other righteousness or sacrifice.

Cannot be dragged away if we cling to Jesus.

Receive hope from the fact that none have perished here.

4. The assured security. "He that believeth on the Son hath ever lasting life" (John 3:36).

If you perished trusting in Jesus your ruin would

Defeat God.

Dishonor Christ.

Dishearten Sinners from coming to Jesus

Discourage Saints, making them doubt all the promises.

Distress the Glorified, who have rejoiced over penitents, and would now see that they were mistaken.

Come, then, at once to the Lord Jesus, and lay hold on eternal life.

You may come; he invites you.

You should come; he commands you.

You should come now; for now is the accepted time.

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