“Ye have sold yourselves
for nought; and ye shall be redeemed
without money.”—Isa. lii: 3.
The Jews had gone headlong into sin, and as a punishment they had been carried captive to Babylon. They found that iniquity did not pay. Cyrus seized Babylon, and felt so sorry for these poor captive Jews that, without a dollar of compensation, he let them go home. So that, literally, my text was fulfilled: “Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.”
There is enough Gospel in this text for fifty sermons; though I never heard of its being preached on. There are persons in this house who have, like the Jews of the text, sold out. You do not seem to belong either to yourselves or to God. The title-deeds have been passed over to “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” but the purchaser has never paid up. “Ye have sold yourselves for nought.”
When a man passes himself over to the world he expects to get some adequate compensation. He has heard the great things that the world does for a man, and he believes it. He wants two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That will be horses, and houses, and a summer-resort, and jolly companionship. To get it he parts with his physical health by overwork. He parts with his conscience. He parts with much domestic enjoyment. He parts with opportunities for literary culture. He parts with his soul. And so he makes over his entire nature to the world. He does it in four installments. He pays down the first installment, and one fourth of his nature is gone. He pays down the second installment, and one half of his nature is gone. He pays down the third installment, and three quarters of his nature are gone; and after many years have gone by he pays down the fourth installment, and, lo! his entire nature is gone. Then he comes up to the world and says: “Good-morning. I have delivered to you the goods. I have passed over to you my body, my mind, and my soul, and I have come now to collect the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.” “Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars?” says the world. “What do you mean?” “Well,” you say, “I come to collect the money you owe me, and I expect you now to fulfill your part of the contract.” “But,” says the world, “I have failed. I am bankrupt. I can not possibly pay that debt. I have not for a long while expected to pay it.” “Well,” you then say, “give me back the goods.” “Oh, no,” says the world, “they are all gone. I can not give them back to you.” And there you stand on the confines of eternity, your spiritual character gone, staggering under the consideration that “you have sold yourself for nought.”