Nathanael and the Fig Tree
Charles H. Spurgeon
Very often we address the Gospel to the chief of sinners. We believe it to be our duty to do this with the greatest frequency. For did not our Lord, when bidding His disciples to preach the good news in every place, use the words, "beginning at Jerusalem"? Where the chief of sinners lived, there was the Gospel first to be preached. But at the same time it would show great lack of observation if we regarded all mankind as being equally gross, open offenders against God. It would not only show a want of wisdom, but it would involve a want of truthfulness. For though all have sinned and deserve the wrath of God, yet all unconverted men are not precisely in the same condition of mind in reference to the Gospel.
In the parable of the sower, we are taught that before the good seed fell upon the field at all there was a difference in the various soils. Some of it was stony ground, another part was thorny, a third was trodden hard like a highway, while another plot is described by our Lord as honest and good ground. Although in every case the carnal mind is enmity against God, yet are there influences at work that in many cases have mitigated, if not subdued, that enmity. While many took up stones to kill our Lord, there were others who heard Him gladly. While to this day thousands reject the Gospel, there are others who receive the Word with joy. These differences we ascribe to God's prevenient grace. We believe, however, that the subject of those differences is not aware that grace is at work upon him, neither is it precisely grace in the same form as saving grace, for the soul under its power has not yet learned its own need of Christ or the excellency of His salvation.
There is such a thing as a preparatory work of mercy on the soul making it ready for the yet higher work of grace, even as the plowing comes before the sowing. We read in the narrative of the Creation that before the ...
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