A Thought for Those Who Minister: The Road to Honor…

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When the Spartan king advanced against the enemy…

…he always had with him someone who had been crowned in the public games of Greece. And they tell us that when a Lacedaemonian from Sparta was offered a large sum of money on condition that he would not enter the Olympic lists, he refused the bribe.

After the final match, having with much difficulty thrown his antagonists in wrestling, one put this question to him, “Spartan, what will you get by this victory?” He answered with a smile, “I shall have the honor to fight foremost in the ranks of my prince!”

The honor which appertains to office in the church of God lies mainly in this, that the man who is set apart for such service has the privilege of being first in holiness of example, abundance of liberality, patience of long-suffering, zeal in effort, and self-sacrifice in service.

O, Thou gracious King of kings, if thou hast made me to minister in thy church, enable me to be foremost in every good word and work, shunning no sacrifice, and shrinking from no suffering. May I live always unto thee.

–Adapted from the writings of C.H. Spurgeon.

Jesus Only!

Taken and adapted from, “Around the Wicket Gate”
Written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (1834-1892)

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We cannot too often or too plainly tell the seeking soul…

…that his only hope for salvation lies in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It lies in Him completely, only, and alone. To save both from the guilt and the power of sin, Jesus is all-sufficient. His name is called Jesus, because “He shall save his people from their sins” (Mat 1:21). “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Mat 9:6). He is exalted on high “to give repentance…and forgiveness of sins” (Act 5:31). It pleased God from of old to devise a method of salvation which should be all contained in His only-begotten Son. The Lord Jesus, for the working out of this salvation, became man, and being found in fashion as a man, became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. If another way of deliverance had been possible, the cup of bitterness would have passed from Him. It stands to reason that the darling of heaven would not have died to save us if we could have been rescued at less expense. Infinite grace provided the great sacrifice; infinite love submitted to death for our sakes. How can we dream that there can be another way than the way which God has provided at such cost, and set forth in Holy Scripture so simply and so pressingly? Surely it is true that “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Act 4:12).

To suppose that the Lord Jesus has only half saved men…

…and that there is needed some work or feeling of their own to finish His work, is wicked. What is there of ours that could be added to His blood and righteousness? “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). Can these be patched on to the costly fabric of His divine righteousness? Rags and fine white linen! Our dross and His pure gold! It is an insult to the Savior to dream of such a thing. We have sinned enough, without adding this to all our other offences.

Even if we had any righteousness in which we could boast; if our fig leaves were broader than usual, and were not so utterly fading, it would be wisdom to put them away, and accept that righteousness which must be far more pleasing to God than anything of our own. The Lord must see more that is acceptable in His Son than in the best of us. The best of us! The words seem satirical, though they were not so intended. What best is there about any of us? “There is none that doeth good; no, not one” (Rom 3:12). I who write these lines, would most freely confess that I have not a thread of goodness of my own. I could not make up so much as a rag, or a piece of a rag. I am utterly destitute. But if I had the fairest suit of good works which even pride can imagine, I would tear it up that I might put on nothing but the garments of salvation, which are freely given by the Lord Jesus, out of the heavenly wardrobe of His own merits.

It is most glorifying to our Lord Jesus Christ that we should hope for every good thing from Him alone. This is to treat Him as He deserves to be treated; for as He is God, and beside Him there is none else, we are bound to look unto Him and be saved.

This is to treat Him as He loves to be treated, for He bids all those who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him, and He will give them rest. To imagine that He cannot save to the uttermost is to limit the Holy One of Israel, and put a slur upon His power; or else to slander the loving heart of the Friend of sinners, and cast a doubt upon His love. In either case, we should commit a cruel and wanton sin against the tenderest points of His honor, which are His ability and willingness to save all that come unto God by Him.

The child, in danger of the fire, just clings to the fireman, and trusts to him alone. She raises no question about the strength of his limbs to carry her, or the zeal of his heart to rescue her; but she clings. The heat is terrible, the smoke is blinding, but she clings; and her deliverer quickly bears her to safety. In the same childlike confidence cling to Jesus, who can and will bear you out of danger from the flames of sin.

The nature of the Lord Jesus should inspire us with the fullest confidence. As He is God, He is almighty to save; as He is man, He is filled with all fullness to bless; as He is God and man in one Majestic Person, He meets man in His creatureship and God in His holiness. The ladder is long enough to reach from Jacob prostrate on the earth, to Jehovah reigning in heaven. To bring another ladder would be to suppose that He failed to bridge the distance; and this would be grievously to dishonor Him. If even to add to His words is to draw a curse upon ourselves, what must it be to pretend to add to Himself? Remember that He, Himself, is the Way; and to suppose that we must, in some manner, add to the divine road, is to be arrogant enough to think of adding to Him. Away with such a notion! Loathe it as you would blasphemy; for in essence it is the worst of blasphemy against the Lord of love.

To come to Jesus with a price in our hand, would be insufferable pride…

…even if we had any price that we could bring. What does He need of us? What could we bring if He did need it? Would He sell the priceless blessings of His redemption? That which He wrought out in His heart’s blood, would He barter it with us for our tears, and vows, or for ceremonial observances, and feelings, and works? He is not reduced to make a market of Himself: He will give freely, as beseems His royal love; but He that offers a price to Him knows not with whom he is dealing, nor how grievously he vexes His free Spirit. Empty-handed sinners may have what they will. All that they can possibly need is in Jesus, and He gives it for the asking; but we must believe that He is all in all, and we must not dare to breathe a word about completing what He has finished, or fitting ourselves for what He gives to us as undeserving sinners.

The reason why we may hope for forgiveness of sin, and life eternal, by faith in the Lord Jesus, is that God has so appointed. He has pledged Himself in the gospel to save all who truly trust in the Lord Jesus, and He will never run back from His promise. He is so well pleased with His only-begotten Son, that He takes pleasure in all who lay hold upon Him as their one and only hope. The great God Himself has taken hold on him who has taken hold on His Son. He works salvation for all who look for that salvation to the once-slain Redeemer. For the honor of His Son, He will not suffer the man who trusts in Him to be ashamed. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (Joh 3:36); for the ever-living God has taken him unto Himself, and has given to him to be a partaker of His life. If Jesus only be your trust, you need not fear but what you shall effectually be saved, both now and in the day of His appearing.

When a man confides, there is a point of union between him and God, that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves us because it makes us cling to Christ Jesus, and He is one with God, and thus brings us into connection with God.

Years ago, above the Falls of Niagara, a boat was upset, and two men were being carried down by the current, when persons on the shore managed to float a rope out to them, which rope was seized by them both. One of them held fast to it, and was safely drawn to the bank; but the other, seeing a great log come floating by, unwisely let go the rope, and clung to the great piece of timber, for it was the bigger thing of the two, and apparently better to cling to. Alas! The timber, with the man on it, went right over the vast abyss, because there was no union between the wood and the shore. The size of the log was no benefit to him who grasped it; it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety. So, when a man trusts to his works, or to his prayers, or almsgivings, or to sacraments, or to anything of that sort, he will not be saved, because there is no junction between him and God through Christ Jesus; but faith, though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hand of the great God on the shore side; infinite power pulls in the connecting line, and thus draws the man from destruction. Oh, the blessedness of faith, because it unites us to God by the Savior, whom He has appointed, even Jesus Christ! O reader, is there not common sense in this matter? Think it over, and may there soon be a band of union between you and God, through your faith in Christ Jesus!

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Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Charles Haddon Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was a British Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is known as the “Prince of Preachers”. He was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition, defending the Church in agreement with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith understanding, and opposing the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies in the Church of his day.

It is estimated that in his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, Spurgeon was the pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years. He was part of several controversies with the Baptist Union of Great Britain and later had to leave the denomination. In 1857, he started a charity organization which is now called Spurgeon’s and works globally. He also founded Spurgeon’s College, which was named after him posthumously.

chspurgeon2Spurgeon was a prolific author of many types of works including sermons, an autobiography, commentaries, books on prayer, devotionals, magazines, poetry, hymns and more. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime. Spurgeon produced powerful sermons of penetrating thought and precise exposition. His oratory skills held his listeners spellbound in the Metropolitan Tabernacle and many Christians have discovered Spurgeon’s messages to be among the best in Christian literature.

The True and the False, and Why it Matters To Be, or Not To Be…. Decided

Excerpts taken from, Lectures to my students, XVI
Written by, C.H. Spurgeon,
Edited for thought and space

 

Some things are true and some things are false: I regard that as an axiom…

…but there are many persons who evidently do not believe it. The current principle of the present age seems to be, “Some things are either true or false, according to the point of view from which you look at them. Black is white, and white is black according to circumstances; and it does not particularly matter which you call it. Truth of course is true, but it would be rude to say that the opposite is a lie; we must not be bigoted, but remember the motto, ‘So many men, so many minds,’”

Our forefathers were particular about maintaining landmarks; they had strong notions about fixed points of revealed doctrine, and were very tenacious of what they believed to be scriptural; their fields were protected by hedges and ditches, but their sons have grubbed up the hedges, filled up the ditches, laid all level, and played at leap-frog with the boundary stones. The school of modern thought laughs at the ridiculous positiveness of Reformers and Puritans; it is advancing in glorious liberality, and before long will publish a grand alliance between heaven and hell, or, rather, an amalgamation of the two establishments upon terms of mutual concession, allowing falsehood and truth to lie side by side, like the lion with the lamb. Still, for all that, my firm old-fashioned belief is that some doctrines are true, and that statements which are diametrically opposite to them are not true,–that when “No” is the fact, “Yes” is out of court, and that when “Yes” can be justified, “No” must be abandoned.

We have a fixed faith to preach, my brethren…

…and we are sent forth with a definite message from God. We are not let to fabricate the message as we go along. We are not sent forth by our Master with a general commission arranged on this fashion: “As you shall think in your heart and invent in your head, so preach. Keep abreast of the times. Whatever the people want to hear, tell them that, and they shall be saved.” Verily, we read not so. There is something definite in the Bible. It is not quite a lump of wax to be shaped at our will, or a roll or cloth to be cut according to the prevailing fashion. Your great thinkers evidently look upon the Scriptures as a box of letters for them to play with, and make what they like of, or a wizard’s bottle, out of which they may pour anything they choose, from atheism up to spiritualism. I am too old-fashioned to fall down and worship this theory. There is something told me in the Bible–told me for certain–not put before me with a “but” and a “perhaps,” and an “if,” and a “may be,” and fifty thousand suspicions behind it, so that really the long and the short of it is, that it may not be so at all; but revealed to me as infallible fact, which must be believed, the opposite of which is deadly error, and comes from the father of lies.

Believing, therefore, that there is such a thing as truth, and such a thing as falsehood, that there are truths in the Bible, and that the gospel consists in something definite which is to be believed by men, it becomes us to be decided as to what we teach, and to teach it in a decided manner. We have to deal with men who will be either lost or saved, and they certainly will not be saved by erroneous doctrine.

We have to deal with God, whose servants we are, and He will not be honoured by our delivering falsehoods; neither will He give us a reward, and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast mangled the, gospel as judiciously as any man that ever lived before thee.” We stand in a very solemn position, and ours should be the spirit of old Micaiah, who said, “As the Lord my God liveth, before whom I stand, whatsoever the Lord saith unto me that will I speak.” Neither less nor more than God’s word are we called to state, but that word we are bound to declare in a spirit which convinces the sons of men that, whatever they may think of it, we believe God, and are not to be shaken in our confidence in Him.

Brethren, in what ought we to be positive? Well, there are gentlemen alive who imagine that there are no fixed principles to go upon. “Perhaps a few doctrines,” said one to me, “perhaps a few doctrines may be considered as established. It is, perhaps, ascertained that there is a God; but one ought not to dogmatize upon His personality: a great deal may be said for pantheism.” Such men creep into the ministry, but they are generally cunning enough to conceal the breadth of their minds beneath Christian phraseology, thus acting in consistency with their principles, for their fundamental rule is that truth is of no consequence.

As for us–as for me, at any rate–I am certain that there is a God, and I mean to preach it as a man does who is absolutely sure. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the Master of providence, and the Lord of grace: let His name be blessed for ever and ever! We will have no questions and debates as to Him.

We are equally certain that the book which is called “the Bible” is His word, and is inspired: not inspired in the sense in which Shakespeare, and Milton, and Dryden may be inspired, but in an infinitely higher sense; so that, provided we have the exact text, we regard the words themselves as infallible. We believe that everything stated in the book that comes to us from God is to be accepted by us as His sure testimony, and nothing less than that. God forbid we should be ensnared by those various interpretations of the modus of inspiration, which amount to little more than frittering it away. The book is a divine production; it is perfect, and is the last court of appeal–“the judge which ends the strife.”

I would as soon dream of blaspheming my Maker as of questioning the infallibility of His word.

We are also sure concerning the doctrine of the blessed Trinity. We cannot explain how the Father, Son, and Spirit can be each one distinct and perfect in himself, and yet that these three are one, so that there is but one God; yet we do verily believe it, and mean to preach it, notwithstanding Unitarian, Socinian, Sabellian, or any other error. We shall hold fast evermore the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity.

And, brethren, there will be no uncertain sound from us as to the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot leave the blood out of our ministry, or the life of it will be gone; for we may say of the gospel, “The blood is the life thereof.” The proper substitution of Christ, the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, on the behalf of His people, that they might live through Him,–this we must publish till we die.

Neither can we waver in our mind for a moment concerning the great and glorious Spirit of God–the fact of His existence, His personality, the power of His working, the necessity of His influences, the certainty that no man is regenerated except by Him; that we are born again by the Spirit of God, and that the Spirit dwells in believers, and is the author of all good in them, their sanctifier and preserver, without whom they can do no good thing whatsoever: we shall not at all hesitate as to preaching these truths.

The absolute necessity of the new birth is also a certainty. We come down with demonstration when we touch that point. We shall never poison our people with the notion that a moral reformation will suffice, but we will over and over again say to them, “Ye must be born again.” We have not got into the condition of the Scotch minister who, when old John Macdonald preached to his congregation a sermon to sinners, remarked, “Well, Mr. Macdonald, that was a very good sermon which you have preached, but it is very much out of place, for I do not know one single unregenerate person in my congregation.” Poor soul, he was in all probability unregenerate himself. No, we dare not flatter our hearers, but we must continue to tell them that they are born sinners, and must be born saints, or they will never see the face of God with acceptance.

The tremendous evil of sin–we shall not hesitate about that. We shall speak on that matter both sorrowfully and positively; and, though some very wise men raise difficult questions about hell, we shall not fail to declare the terrors of the Lord, and the fact that the Lord has said, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”

Neither will we ever give an uncertain sound as to the glorious truth that salvation is all of grace. If ever we ourselves are saved, we know that sovereign grace alone has done it, and we feel it must be the same with others. We will publish, “Grace! grace! grace!” with all our might, living and dying.

We shall be very decided, also, as to justification by faith; for salvation is “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” “Life in a look at the Crucified One” will be Our message. Trust in the Redeemer will be that saving grace which we will pray the Lord to implant in all our hearers’ hearts.

And everything else which we believe to be true in the Scriptures we shall preach with decision.

If there be questions which may be regarded as moot, or comparatively unimportant, we shall speak with such a measure of decision about them as may be comely. But points which cannot be moot, which are essential and fundamental, will be declared by us without any stammering, without any enquiring of the people, “What would you wish us to say?” Yes, and without the apology, “Those are my views, but other people’s views may be correct.” We ought to preach the gospel, not as our views at all, but as the mind of God–the testimony of Jehovah concerning His own Son, and in reference to salvation for lost men. If we had been entrusted with the making of the gospel, we might have altered it to suit the taste of this modest century, but never having been employed to originate the good news, but merely to repeat it, we dare not stir beyond the record. What we have been taught of God we teach. If we do not do this, we are not fit for our position. He that hath God’s Word, let him speak it faithfully, and he will have no need to answer gainsayers, except with a “Thus saith the Lord.” This, then, is the matter concerning which we are decided.

How are we to show this decision?

We need not be careful to answer this question; our decision will show itself in its own way. If we really believe a truth, we shall be decided about it. Certainly we are not to show our decision by that obstinate, furious, wolfish bigotry which cuts off every other body from the chance and hope of salvation and the possibility of being regenerate or even decently honest if they happen to differ from us about the colour of a scale of the great leviathan. Some individuals appear to be naturally cut on the cross; they are manufactured to be rasps, and rasp they will. Sooner than not quarrel with you they would raise a question upon the colour of invisibility, or the weight of a non-existent substance. They are up in arms with you, not because of the importance of the question under discussion, but because of the far greater importance of their being always the Pope of the party. Don’t go about the world with your fist doubled up for fighting, carrying a theological revolver in the leg of your trousers. There is no sense in being a sort of doctrinal game-cock, to be carried about to show your spirit, or a terrier of orthodoxy, ready to tackle heterodox rats by the score. Practise the suaviter in modo as well as the fortiter in re. Be prepared to fight, and always have your sword buckled on your thigh, but wear a scabbard; there can be no sense in waving your weapon about before everybody’s eyes to provoke conflict, after the manner of our beloved friends of the Emerald Isle, who are said to take their coats off at Donnybrook Fair, and drag them along the ground, crying out, while they flourish their shillelaghs, “Will any gentleman be so good as to tread on the tail of my coat?” These are theologians of such warm, generous blood, that they are never at peace till they are fully engaged in war.

If you really believe the gospel, you will be decided for it in more sensible ways. Your very tone will betray your sincerity; you will speak like a man who has something to say, which he knows to be true. Have you ever watched a rogue when he is about to tell a falsehood? Have you noticed the way in which he has to mouth it? It takes a long time to be able to tell a lie well, for the facial organs were not originally constituted and adapted for the complacent delivery of falsehood. When a man knows he is telling you the truth, everything about him corroborates his sincerity. Any accomplished cross-examining lawyer knows within a little whether a witness is genuine or a deceiver. Truth has her own air and manner, her own tone and emphasis. Yonder is a blundering, ignorant country fellow in the witness-box; the counsel tries to bamboozle and confuse him, if possible, but all the while he feels that he is an honest witness, and he says to himself, “I should like to shake this fellow’s evidence, for it will greatly damage my side of the question.” There ought to be always that same air of truth about the Christian minister; only as he is not only bearing witness to the truth, but wants other people to feel that truth and own the power of it, he ought to have more decision in his tone than a mere witness who is stating facts which may be believed or not without any serious consequences following either way. Luther was the man for decision. Nobody doubted that he believed what he spoke. He spoke with thunder, for there was lightning in his faith. The man preached all over, for his entire nature believed. You felt, “Well, he may be mad, or he may be altogether mistaken, but he assuredly believes what he says. He is the incarnation of faith; his heart is running over at his lips.”

If we would show decision for the truth, we must not only do so by our tone and manner, but by our daily actions. A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech; when men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as pounds and his words as pence. If his life and his doctrines disagree, the mass of lookers-on accept his practice and reject his preaching.  I can conceive no surer method of prejudicing men against the truth than by sounding her praises through the lips of men of suspicious character. When the devil turned preacher in our Lord’s day, the Master bade him hold his peace; He did not care for Satanic praises. It is very ridiculous to hear good truth from a bad man; it is like flour in a coal-sack.  How strange it would be to hear a man say, “I am a servant of the Most High God, and I will go wherever I can get the most salary. I am called to labour for the glory of Jesus only, and I will go nowhere unless the church is of most respectable standing. For me to live is Christ, but I cannot do it under five hundred pounds per annum.”

Brother, if the truth be in thee it will flow out of thine entire being as the perfume streams from every bough of the sandal-wood tree; it will drive thee onward as the trade-wind speeds the ships, filling all their sails; it will consume thy whole nature with its energy as the forest fire burns up all the trees of the wood. Truth has not fully given thee her friendship till all thy doings are marked with her seal.

We must show our decision for the truth by the sacrifices we are ready to make.

This is, indeed, the most efficient as well as the most trying method. We must be ready to give up anything and everything for the sake of the principles which we have espoused, and must be ready to offend our best supporters, to alienate our warmest friends, sooner than belie our consciences. We must be ready to be beggars in purse, and offscourings in reputation, rather than act treacherously. We can die, but we cannot deny the truth. The cost is already counted, and we are determined to buy the truth at any price, and sell it at no price. Too little of this spirit is abroad nowadays. Men have a saving faith, and save their own persons from trouble; they have great discernment, and know on which side their bread is buttered; they are large-hearted, and are all things to all men, if by any means they may save a sum. There are plenty of curs about, who would follow at the heel of any man who would keep them in meat. They are among the first to bark at decision, and call it obstinate dogmatism, and ignorant bigotry. Their condemnatory verdict causes us no distress; it is what we expected.

Above all we must show our zeal for the truth by continually, in season and out of season endeavouring to maintain it in the tenderest and most loving manner, but still very earnestly and firmly. We must not talk to our congregations as if we were half asleep. Our preaching must not be articulate snoring. There must be power, life, energy, vigour. We must throw our whole selves into it, and show that the zeal of God’s house has eaten us up.

My brethren, you will strengthen your decision by the recollection of the importance of these truths to your own souls. Are your sins forgiven? Have you a hope of heaven? How do the solemnities of eternity affect you? Certainly you are not saved apart from these things, and therefore you must hold them, for you feel you are a lost man if they be not true. You have to die, and, being conscious that these things alone can sustain you in the last article, you hold them with all your might. You cannot give them up. How can a man resign a truth which he feels to be vitally important to his own soul? He daily feels-“I have to live on it, I have to die on it, I am wretched now, and lost for ever apart from it, and therefore by the help of God I cannot relinquish it.”

Your own experience from day-to-day will sustain you, beloved brethren. I hope you have realised already and will experience much more the power of the truth which you preach.

I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that doctrine.

I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that there dwelleth in my flesh no good thing. I cannot help holding that there must be an atonement before there can be pardon, because my conscience demands it, and my peace depends upon it. The little court within my own heart is not satisfied unless some retribution be exacted for dishonour done to God.

They tell us sometimes that such and such statements are not true; but when we are able to reply that we have tried them and proved them, what answer is there to such reasoning? A man propounds the wonderful discovery that honey is not sweet. “But I had some for breakfast, and I found it very sweet,” say you, and your reply is conclusive. He tells you that salt is poisonous, but you point to your own health, and declare that you have eaten salt these twenty years. He says that to eat bread is a mistake–a vulgar error, an antiquated absurdity; but at each meal you make his protest the subject for a merry laugh. If you are daily and habitually experienced in the truth of God’s Word, I am not afraid of your being shaken in mind in reference to it. Those young fellows who never felt conviction of sin, but obtained their religion as they get their bath in the morning, by jumping into it–these will as readily leap out of it as they leaped in. Those who feel neither the joys nor yet the depressions of spirit which indicate spiritual life, are torpid, and their palsied hand has no firm grip of truth. Mere skimmers of the Word, who, like swallows, touch the water with their wings, are the first to fly from one land to another as personal considerations guide them. They believe this, and then believe that, for, in truth, they believe nothing intensely. If you have ever been dragged through the mire and clay of soul-despair, if you have been turned upside down, and wiped out like a dish as to all your own strength and pride, and have then been filled with the joy and peace of God, through Jesus Christ, I will trust you among fifty thousand infidels. Whenever I hear the sceptic’s stale attacks upon the Word of God, I smile within myself and think, “Why, you simpleton! how can you urge such trifling objections? I have felt, in the contentions of my own unbelief, ten times greater difficulties.” We who have contended with horses are not to be wearied by footmen. Gordon Cumming and other lion-killers are not to be scared by wild cats, nor will those who have stood foot tofoot with Satan resign the field to pretentious sceptics, or any other of the evil one’s inferior servants.

If, my brethren, we have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot be made to doubt the fundamentals of the gospel; neither can we be undecided.

A glimpse at the thorn-crowned head and pierced hands and feet is the sure cure for “modern doubt” and all its vagaries. Get into the “Rock of Ages, cleft for you,” and you will abhor the quicksand. That eminent American preacher, the seraphic Summerfield, when he lay a-dying, turned round to a friend in the room and said, “I have taken a look into eternity. Oh, if I could come back and preach again, how differently would I preach from what I have done before!” Take a look into eternity, brethren, if you want to be decided. Remember how Atheist met Christian and Hopeful on the road to the New Jerusalem, and said, “There is no celestial country. I have gone a long way, and could not find it.” Then Christian said to Hopeful, “Did we not see it from the top of Mount Clear, when we were with the shepherds?” There was an answer! So when men have said, “There is no Christ–there is no truth in religion,” we have replied to them, “Have we not sat under His shadow with great delight? Was not His fruit sweet to our taste? Go with your scepticisms to those who do not know whom they have believed. We have tasted and handled the good word of life. What we have seen and heard, that we do testify; and whether men receive our testimony or not, we cannot but speak it, for we, speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen.” That, my brethren, is the sure way to be decided.

The Sum and Substance of All Theology

The unpublished notes of a sermon given by C. H. Spurgeon. 
Delivered at Bethesda Chapel, Swansea, June 25th, 1861.
Taken and adapted from the Sword and Trowel.

 tree-of-love

Note: On Tuesday, June 25th, 1861, the beloved C. H. Spurgeon visited Swansea. The day was wet, so he services could not be held in the open-air; and, as no building in the town was large enough to hold the vast concourses of people who had come from all parts to hear the renowned preacher, he consented to deliver two discourses in the morning; first at Bethesda, and then at Trinity Chapel. At each place he preached for an hour and a quarter. The weather cleared up during the day; so, in the evening, Mr. Spurgeon addressed an immense gathering of people in the open-air.—T.W.M.

 “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me;
and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

—John 6:37.

What a difference there is between the words of Christ, and those of all mere men!

Most men speak many words, yet say but little; Christ speaks few words, yet says very much. In modern books, you may read scores of pages, and scarcely come across a new thought; but when Christ speaks, every syllable seems to tell. He hits the nail on the head each time He lifts the hammer of His Word. The Words of Christ are like ingots of solid gold; we preachers too often beat out the gold so thin, that whole acres of it would scarcely be worth a farthing. The Words of Christ are always to be distinguished from those of His creatures, not only for their absolute truthfulness, but also for their profound fullness of matter. In all His language He is “full of grace and truth.” Look at the text before us. Here we have, in two small sentences, the sum and substance of all theology. The great questions which have divided the Church in all ages, the apparently contradictory doctrines which have set one minister of Christ against his fellow, are here revealed so simply and plainly, “that he may run that reads” (Habakkuk 2:2). Even a child may understand the Words of Christ, though perhaps the loftiest human intellect cannot fathom the mystery hidden therein.

Take the first sentence of my text: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” What a weighty sentence! Here we have taught us what is called, in the present day, “High Calvinistic doctrine”—the purpose of God; the certainty that God’s purpose will stand; the invincibility of God’s will; and the absolute assurance that Christ “shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.”

Look at the second sentence of my text: “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Here we have the richness, the fullness, the unlimited extent of the power of Christ to save those who put their trust in Him. Here is a text upon which one might preach a thousand sermons. We might take these two sentences as a life-long text, and never exhaust the theme.

Mark, too, how our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the whole truth. We have many ministers who can preach well upon the first sentence: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” Just set them going upon Election, or everlasting covenant engagements, and they will be earnest and eloquent, for they are fond of dwelling upon these points, and a well-instructed child of God can hear them with delight and profit. Such preachers are often the fathers of the Church, and the very pillars thereof; but, unfortunately, many of these excellent brethren cannot preach so well upon the second sentence of my text: “And him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” When they get to that truth, they are half afraid of it; they hesitate to preach what they consider to be a too open salvation. They cannot give the gospel invitation as freely as they find it in the Word of God. They do not deny it, yet they stutter and stammer sadly, when they get upon this theme.

Then, on the other hand, we have a large number of good ministers who can preach on this second clause of the text, but they cannot preach on the first clause. How fluent is their language as they tell out the freeness of salvation! Here they are much at home in their preaching; but, we are sorry to be compelled to say that, very often, they are not much at home when they come to doctrinal matters, and they would find it rather a difficult matter to preach fluently on the first sentence of my text. They would, if they attempted to preach from it, endeavor to cut out of it all that savors of Divine Sovereignty. They do not preach the whole “truth” which “is in Jesus.”

Why is it that some of us do not see both sides of God’s revealed truth? We persist in closing one eye; we will not see all that may be seen if we open both our eyes; and, sometimes, we get angry with a brother because he can see a little more than we do. I think our text is very much like a stereoscopic picture, for it presents two views of the truth. Both views are correct, for they are both photographed by the same light. How can we bring these two truths together? We get the stereoscope of the scripture, and looking with both eyes, the two pictures melt into one. God has given us, in His Word, the two pictures of divine truth; but we have not all got the stereoscope properly adjusted to make them melt into one. When we get to heaven, we shall see how all God’s truth harmonizes. If we cannot make these two parts of truth harmonize now, at any rate we must not dare to blot out one of them, for God has given them both.

Now, as God shall help me this morning, I want to expand both sentences of my text with equal fidelity and plainness. I shall not expect to please some of you while speaking on the first sentence, and I shall not be surprised if I fail to please others of you when I come to the second sentence; but, in either case, it will be a small matter to me if I have an easy conscience because I have proclaimed what I believe to be the whole truth of God. I am sure you will be willing to give a patient hearing to that which you may not fully receive, if you believe it to be declared in all honesty. Reject what I say, if it be not true, but if it be the Word of God, receive it; and, be it known unto you that it is at your peril if you dare to reject the truthful Word of the glad tidings of God

I.     I will begin with the first sentence of the text: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” We have here, first, THE FIRM FOUNDATION UPON WHICH OUR SALVATION RESTS.

It rests, you perceive, not on something which man does, but on something which God the Father does. The Father gives certain persons to His Son, and the Son says, “All that the Father gives Me Shall come to Me.” I take it that the meaning of the text is this,—that, if any do come to Jesus Christ, it is those whom the Father gave to Christ. And the reason why they come,—if we search to the very bottom of things,—is, that the Father puts it into their hearts to come. The reason why one man is saved, and another man is lost, is to be found in God; not in anything which the saved man did, or did not do; not in anything which he felt, or did not feel; but in something altogether irrespective of himself, even in the sovereign grace of God. In the day of God’s power, the saved are made willing to give their souls to Jesus. The language of Scripture must explain this point. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John i. 12, 13). “So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy” (Romans ix. 16). If you want to see the fount of grace, you must go to the everlasting God; even as, if you want to know why that river runs in this direction, and not in that, you must trace it up to its source. In the case of every soul that is now in heaven, it was the will of God that drew it thither. In the case of every spirit that is on its way to glory now, unto God and unto Him alone must be the honor of its salvation; for He it is who makes one “differ from another” (1 Cor. 4:7).

I do not care to argue upon this point, except I put it thus: If any say, “It is man himself who makes the difference,” I reply, “You are involving yourself in a great dilemma; if man himself makes the difference, then mark—man himself must have the glory.” Now, I am certain you do not mean to give man the glory of his own salvation; you would not have men throw up their caps in heaven, and shout, “Unto ourselves be the glory, for we, ourselves, were the hinge and turning point of our own salvation.” No, you would have all the saved cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus, and give to Him alone all the honor and all the glory. This, however, cannot be, unless, in that critical point, that diamond hinge upon which man’s salvation shall turn, God shall have the control, and not the will of man. You know that those who do not believe this truth as a matter of doctrine, do believe it in their hearts as a matter of experience.

I was preaching, not very long ago, at a place in Derbyshire, to a congregation, nearly all of whom were Methodists, and as I preached, they were crying out, “Hallelujah! Glory! Bless the Lord!” They were full of excitement, until I went on to say in my sermon, “This brings me to the doctrine of Election.” There was no crying out of “Glory!” and “Hallelujah!” then. Instead, there was a great deal of shaking of the head, and a sort of telegraphing round the place, as though something dreadful was coming. Now, I thought, I must have their attention again, so I said, “You all believe in the doctrine of Election?” “No, we don’t, lad,” said one. “Yes, you do, and I am going to preach it to you, and make you cry ‘Hallelujah!’ over it.” I am certain they mistrusted my power to do that; so, turning a moment from the subject, I said, “Is there any difference between you and the ungodly world?” “Ay! Ay! Ay!” “Is there any difference between you and the drunkard, the harlot, the blasphemer?” “Ay! Ay! Ay!” Ay! There was a difference indeed. “Well, now,” I said, “there is a great difference; who made it, then?” for, whoever made the difference, should have the glory of it. “Did you make the difference?” “No, lad,” said one; and the rest all seemed to join in the chorus. “Who made the difference, then? Why, the Lord did it; and did you think it wrong for Him to make a difference between you and other men?” “No, no,” they quickly said. “Very well, then; if it was not wrong for God to make the difference, it was not wrong for Him to purpose to make it, and that is the doctrine of Election.” Then they cried, “Hallelujah!” as I said they would.

The doctrine of Election is God’s purposing in His heart that He would make some men better than other men; that He would give to some men more grace than to other men; that some should come out and receive the mercy; that others, left to their own free will, should reject it; that some should gladly accept the invitations of mercy, while others, of their own accord, stubbornly refuse the mercy to which the whole world of mankind is invited. All men, by nature, refuse the invitations of the gospel. God, in the sovereignty of His grace, makes a difference by secretly inclining the hearts of some men, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to partake of His everlasting mercy in Christ Jesus. I am certain that, whether we are Calvinists or Arminians, if our hearts are right with God, we shall all adoringly testify: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” If that be not Election, I know not what it is.

II.     Now, in the second place, note THE CERTAINTY OF THE ETERNAL SALVATION OF ALL WHO WERE GIVEN TO JESUS; “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.”

This is eternally settled, and so settled that it cannot be altered by either man or devil. All whose names are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, all whom God the Father designed to save when He gave up His well-beloved Son to die upon the cross of Calvary, shall in time be drawn by the Holy Spirit, and shall surely come to Christ, and be kept by the Spirit, through the precious blood of Christ, and be folded forever with His sheep, on the hill-tops of glory.

Mark! “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” Not one of those whom the Father hath given to Jesus shall perish. If any were lost, the text would have to read: “Almost all,” or, “All but one;” but it positively says “All,” without any exception; even though one may have been, in his unregenerate state, the very chief of sinners. Yet even that chosen one, that given one, shall come to Jesus; and when he has come, he shall be held by that strong love that at first chose him, and he shall never be let go, but shall be held fast, even unto the end. Miss Much-afraid, and Mrs. Despondency, and Mr. Feeble-mind, shall as certainly come to the arms of Christ, as Mr. Great-heart, and Mr. Faithful, and Mr. Valiant-for-Truth. If one jewel were lost from Christ’s crown, then Christ’s crown would not be all-glorious. If one member of the body of Christ were to perish, Christ’s body would not be complete. If one of those who are one with Christ should miss his way to eternal life, Christ would not be a perfect Christ.

“All that the Father gives Me Shall come to Me.” “But suppose they will not come?” I cannot suppose any such thing, for He says they “shall come.” They shall be made willing in the day of God’s power. God knows how to make a passage through the heart of man; and though man is a free agent, yet God can incline him, willingly, to come to Jesus. There are many sentences even in Wesley’s hymn-book which contain this truth. If God took away freedom from man, and then saved him, it would be but a small miracle. For God to leave man free to come to Jesus, and yet to so move him as to make him come, is a divinely-wrought miracle indeed. If we were for a moment to admit that man’s will could be more than a match for God’s will, do you not see where we should be landed? Who made man? God! Who made God? Shall we lift up man to the sovereign throne of Deity? Who shall be master, and have his way, God or man? The will of God, that says they “shall come”, knows how to make them come.

“But suppose it should be one of those who are living in the interior of Africa, and he does not hear the gospel; what then?” He shall hear the gospel; either he shall come to the gospel, or the gospel shall go to him. Even if no minister should go to such a chosen one, he would have the gospel specially revealed to him rather than that the promise of the Almighty God should be broken.

“But suppose there should be one of God’s chosen who has become so bad that there is no hope for him? He never attends a place of worship; never listens to the gospel; the voice of the preacher never reaches him; he has grown hardened in his sin, like steel that has been seven times annealed in the fire; what then?” That man shall be arrested by God’s grace, and that obdurate, hard-hearted one shall be made to see the mercy of God; the tears shall stream down his cheeks, and he shall be made willing to receive Jesus as Savior. I think that, as God could bend my will, and bring me to Christ, He can bring anybody.

“Why was I made to hear His voice,
And enter while there’s room;

When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
Twas the same love the spread the feast,
That sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perish’d in my sin.”

 Yes, “sweetly forced me in;”—there is no other word that can so accurately describe my case. Oh, how long Jesus Christ stood at the door of my heart, and knocked, and knocked, and knocked in vain! I asked: “Why should I leave the pleasures of this world?” Yet still He knocked, and there was music in every sound of His pleading voice; but I said, “Nay, let Him go elsewhere.” And though, through the window, I could see His thorn-crowned head, and the tears standing in His eyes, and the prints of the nails in His hands, as He stood and knocked, and said, “Open to Me,” yet I heeded Him not. Then He sent my mother to me, and she pleaded, “let the Savior in, Charlie;” and I replied, in action, though not in words, “Nay, I love you, my mother; but I do not love Christ, thy Savior.” Then came the black hours of sickness; but in effect I said, “Nay, I fear not sickness, nor death itself; I will still defy my Maker.” But it happened, one day, that He graciously put in His hand by the hole of the door, and I moved toward Him, and then I opened the door, and cried, “Come in! Come in!” Alas! Alas! He was gone; and for five long years I stood, with tears in mine eyes, and I sought Him weeping, but I found Him not. I cried after Him, but He answered me not. I said, “Whither is He gone? Oh, that I had never rejected Him? Oh, that He would but come again!” Surely the angels must then have said, “A great change has come over that youth; he would not let Christ in when He knocked, but now he wants Christ to come.” And when He did come, do you think my soul rejected Him? Nay, nay; but I fell down at His feet, crying, “Come in! Come in! Thou Blessed Savior. I have waited for Thy salvation, O my God!”

There is no living soul beyond the reach of hope, no chosen one whom Christ cannot bring up even from the very gates of hell. He can bare His arm, put out His hand, and pluck the brand “out of the fire” (Zechariah iii.2). In a horrible pit, in the miry clay, His jewels have been hidden; but down from the throne of light He can come, and thrusting in His arm of mercy, He can pull them out, and cause them to glitter in His crown forever. Let it be settled in our hearts, as a matter of fact, that what God has purposed to do, He will surely accomplish.

I need not dwell longer upon this point, because I think I have really brought out the essence of this first sentence of my text: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” Permit me just to remark, before I pass on, that I am sometimes sad on account of the alarm that some Christians seem to have concerning this precious and glorious doctrine. We have, in the Baptist denomination,—I am sorry to have to say it,—many ministers, excellent brethren, who, while they believe this doctrine, yet never preach it. On the other hand, we have some ministers, excellent brethren, who never preach anything else. They have a kind of barrel-organ that only plays five tunes, and they are always repeating them. It is either Election, Predestination, Particular Redemption, Effectual Calling, Final Perseverance, or something of that kind; it is always the same note. But we have also a great many others who never preach concerning these doctrines, though they admit they are doctrines taught in Sacred Scripture. The reason for their silence is, because they say these truths are not suitable to be preached from the pulpit. I hold such an utterance as that to be very wicked. Is the doctrine here—in this Bible? If it is, as God hath taught it, so are we to teach it. “But,” they say, “not in a mixed assembly.” Where can you find an unmixed assembly? God has sent the Bible into a mixed world, and the gospel is to be preached in “all the world”, and “to every creature.” “Yes,” they say, “preach the gospel, but not these special truths of the gospel; because, if you preach these doctrines, the people will become Antinomians and Hyper-Calvinists.” Not so; the reason why people become Hyper-Calvinists and Antinomians, is because some, who profess to be Calvinists, often keep back part of the truth, and do not, as Paul did, “declare all the counsel of God”; they select certain parts of Scripture, where their own particular views are taught, and pass by other aspects of God’s truth. Such preachers as John Newton, and in later times, your own Christmas Evans, were men who preached the whole truth of God; they kept back nothing that God has revealed; and, as the result of their preaching, Antinomianism could not find a foot-hold anywhere. We should have each doctrine of Scripture in its proper place, and preach it fully; and if we want to have a genuine revival of religion, we must preach these doctrines of Jehovah’s sovereign grace again and again. Do not tell me they will not bring revivals. There was but one revival that I have ever heard of, apart from Calvinistic doctrine, and that was the one in which Wesley took so great a part; but then George Whitefield was there also to preach the whole Word of God. When people are getting sleepy, if you want to arouse and wake them up thoroughly, preach the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty to them; for that will do it right speedily.

 III.    I shall now turn very briefly to the second sentence of my text: “And him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

“Now,” says somebody, “he is going to knock down all that he has been building up.” Well, I would rather be inconsistent with myself than with my Master; but I dare not alter this second sentence, and I have no desire to alter it. Let it stand as it is, all its glorious simplicity:— 

“HIM THAT COMETH TO ME I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT.”

Let the whole world come, still this promise is big enough to embrace them all in its arms. There is no mistake here, the wrong man cannot come. If any sinner come to Christ, he is sure to be the right one. Mark, too, as there is no limitation in the person coming, so there is no limitation in the manner of the coming. Says one, “Suppose I come the wrong way?” You cannot come the wrong way; it is written, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” “No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (John vi.44,65). If, then, you come to Christ in any way, you are drawn of the Father, and He cannot draw the wrong way. If you come to Christ at all, the power and will to come have been given you of the Father. If you come to Christ, He will in no wise cast you out; for no possible or conceivable reason will Jesus ever cast out any sinner who comes to Him. There is no reason in hell, or on earth, or in heaven, why Jesus should cast out the soul that comes to Him. If Satan, the foul accuser of the brethren, brings reasons why the coming sinner should not be received, Jesus will “cast down” the accuser, but He will not “cast out” the sinner. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest,” is still His invitation and His promise, too.

Let us suppose a case by the way of illustration. Here is a man in Swansea,—ragged, dirty, coal-begrimed,—who has received a message from Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria. It reads in this wise: “You are hereby commanded to come, just as you are, to our palace at Windsor, to receive great and special favors at our hand. You will stay away at your peril.” The man reads the message, and at first scarcely understands it; so he thinks, “I must wash and prepare myself.” Then, he re-reads the royal summons, and the words arrest him: “Come just as your are.” So he starts, and tells the people in the train where he is going, and they laugh at him. At length he arrives at Windsor Castle; there he is stopped by the guard, and questioned. He explains why he has come, and shows the Queen’s message; and he is allowed to pass. He next meets with a gentlemen in waiting, who, after some explanations and expressions of astonishment, allows him to enter the ante-room. When there, our friend becomes frightened on account of his begrimed and ragged appearance; he is half inclined to rush from the place with fear, when he remembers the works of the royal command: “Stay away at your peril.” Presently, the Queen herself appears, and tells him how glad she is that he has come just as he was. She says she purposes that he shall be suitably clothed, and be made one of the princes of her court. She adds, “I told you to come as you were. It seemed to be a strange command to you, but I am glad you have obeyed, and so come.”

I do think this is what Jesus Christ says to every creature under heaven. The gospel invitation runs thus: “Come, come, come to Christ, just as you are.” “But, let me feel more.” No, come just as you are. “But let me get home to my own room, and let me pray.” No, no, come to Christ just as you are. As you are, trust in Jesus, and He will save you. Oh, do dare to trust Him! If anybody shall ask, “Who are you?” answer, “I am nobody.” If anyone objects, “You are such a filthy sinner,” reply, “Yes, ’tis true, so I am; but He Himself told me to come.” If anyone shall say, “You are not fit to come,” say, “I know I am not fit; but He told me to come.” Therefore,—

“Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity join’d with power;
He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requires,
Is to feel you need of Him:
This He gives you;
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.”

 Sinner, trust in Jesus: and if you do perish trusting in Jesus, I will perish with you. I will make my bed in hell, side by side with you, sinner, if you canst perish trusting in Christ, and you shalt lie there, and taunt me to all eternity for having taught you falsely, if we perish. But that can never be; those who trust in Jesus shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand. Come to Jesus, and He will in no wise cast you out.

May the Lord bless the words I have spoken! Though hastily suggested to my mind, and feebly delivered to you, the Lord bless them, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

 

In Loving Memory of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Silver Bell” of the English Pulpit

Taken from the “British Monthly,” 1903.
Written by William Robertson Nicoll.

spurgeon

THERE is a touching passage…

…in George Eliot’s great story “Janet’s Repentance.” She tells how Janet looked on Mr. Tryan at first, little thinking that she would follow him to his grave. “That second time Janet Dempster was not looking on in scorn and merriment; her eyes were worn with grief and watching, and she was following her beloved friend and pastor to the grave.”

When Mr. Spurgeon appeared in London, this is how the most distinguished organ of the Church of England spoke about him: “We have just now an opportunity of testing the contrast. There has lately appeared in London a young man named Spurgeon. He or his friends for him, give out that he is a second Whitefield. They speak of him as a ‘concentrated embodiment of the most unusual and lovely ornaments of our pious parents, as one possessed of a capacious and elastic and telegraphic mind’; and as we hear, there can be no question of his popularity in certain so-called religious circles. He is followed by thousands. “Exeter Hall cannot nearly contain,” it is said, “the herds who throng to his preaching.”

From accounts that reach us there has been little like the excitement during the present century. All this parson’s sermons are taken down in shorthand, and are printed in more than one series. we have looked through several, and they certainly give rise to curious and serious reflections upon the state of society and the results of the march of intellect and education here in London which in the middle of the nineteenth century finds this sort of thing to its taste.”

The years went on, nearly forty years, and when Mr. Spurgeon was in his last illness archbishops and bishops vied with one another in expressing their concern. The great newspapers that support the Church of England recognized in him one of the most powerful and beneficent figures who had ever appeared in London. The West End evening papers put the latest news of him in the most prominent place on their bills. He fell like a tower, and no one was found so base as to say one word against this manly, godly, devoted life, and his unparalleled ministry.

Nearly ten years have passed since “Mr. Spurgeon’s death, and now we are left with his memory, and with the great collection of his sermons that is ever being added to. Is his influence declining? It might very well have declined, for he was almost the greatest of our orators, and an orator’s power is cut short by death. His sermons, however, were independent of his oratory. They are as great to the reader as they were to the listener.

The reader, it is true, cannot listen to that marvelous voice, clear as a silver bell, and winning as a woman’s, which held the mighty congregations enthralled. On the other hand, he has the advantage of being able to pause on passages of reading, of turning back again and yet again. We do not know more refreshing, awakening, suggestive, warning, and comforting pages in religious literature than those of the “Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit.”

For ministers and teachers they are simply indispensable. The preacher who does not possess some volumes of the “Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit” –the more the better –who does not read them to kindle his own soul, is poorly furnished for his work. It is by those who speak in the spirit of Spurgeon that England will be raised from its religious lethargy. Better part with all commentaries, German and otherwise, and be content with the Bible of Spurgeon, than neglect this signal trumpet-voice.

If we have a preference, it is for the sermons preached in the sixties, [1860’s] and for the morning sermons above the evening. One ardent admirer of Spurgeon whom we knew long ago said to us, that in the morning sermon the first page was nearly always more nobly phrased than in the evening sermon. Yet after these years we are not so sure. There is a ripe and tender humanity in the discourses of the last ten years which is very endearing. I have spent an afternoon and evening in reading through a whole volume of the sermons, and I shall set down my fresh impressions.

1.    In the first place, Mr. Spurgeon is always wooing the soul. What was said of Richard Cameron, the Lion of the Covenant, is true of him: “He had a bias towards the proposing of Christ.” All his preaching is persuading. He is always pleading, warning, wrestling; he is bent upon the soul’s salvation. There is so much preaching nowadays and in all days which completely lacks tliis element. The preacher sets himself to defend some theory or to destroy it, but there his work is done. He never gets into close contact with the hearer. “I have a message from God to thee” is the note of the true preacher. Mr. Spurgeon takes hold of his hearers, urges them, implores them, threatens them, promises them, and cannot bear to let them go until he has blessed them. Never were any sermons preached more full of that zeal for souls which should be the first characteristic of a true minister. It is very difficult to reach and maintain this height. Every one knows that before he can plead effectively they must be under the influence of strong feeling.

Pleading in the true sense is not natural to human nature. But when a man pleads for a woman’s love, when a man is face to face with his errings on and trying to draw him away from the brink of ruin, when a friend implores a friend to refrain from some madness that will wreck him, we are in the element in which the seeker for souls must move, and in that element Mr. Spurgeon lived and moved and had his being.

It is, perhaps, in this way that he will be most useful to preachers. As we have said, it is not natural for any one to plead, and in addition the preacher has temptations that draw him away from pleading. He can never plead well unless he is in deep and passionate earnestness, and he cannot be sure of the mood. On the other hand, he may argue well, he may picture well, he may expound well, in the lower, easier frame. Besides, pleading is apt to spoil the peroration or the artistic close. All care for such considerations Mr. Spurgeon had expelled from his mind. Every time he spoke he was wooing souls impressed not only by the urgency of their need, but also by the great provision for that need in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

If before going to the pulpit, preachers would read some of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons, they would find it far easier to feel and manifest that concern for souls without which the preacher cannot hope to achieve anything permanent.

2.   I am impressed also with the fact that Mr. Spurgeon above all other preachers, preached the Word. So many preach from the Gospels or the Epistles, or the New Testament, or favorite parts of the Old Testament. Take a volume of the ” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit,” or, better still, look at the exhaustive index to the sermons published by Messrs. Passmore and Alalaxter, and you will see how Mr. Spurgeon ranges over the whole Bible. I take up a volume at random, that for 1892, containing sixty sermons, and I find that they are taken from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Zechariah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Hebrews, and James.

He rightly divided the Word of Truth. Nor did he read into his texts –at least,he read no more into them than Christ and the Apostles did. He interpreted the Old Testament from their standpoint. If they were wrong, he was wrong; if they were right,he was right. At present in many pulpits the Old Testament has fallen into almost complete disuse, or at least many parts of it are neglected. There was no part of it where Mr. Spurgeon could not find the Bread of Life. For him the two Testaments interpreted one another. This gave an astonishing freshness to his preaching. For the multitude of Christians in all ages the Bible must be its own commentary. Scripture must be interpreted by Scripture. Any views that prevent such an interpretation are stamped with falsehood.

I note another characteristic, perhaps the most striking of all. Preachers nowadays as a rule avoid great subjects. They are afraid of great texts. They prefer some quaint unexpected text, and a subject which may be illustrated from literature and the common experiences of human life. I do not deny for a moment that there is a great place for such sermons. If a preacher can put himself on common ground with the thoughts of the hearer during the week, he has a much better chance of being listened to and remembered. Nevertheless, there are some preachers who do not need this, and of such was Mr. Spurgeon. He moved among the last awful secrets of the Christian redemption like a child at home. It was not merely that he was a great and trained theologian –he was that in the most eminent degree from the commencement of his London ministry. He had thoroughly mastered great theological system –mastered ‘it in all its bearings –and was never carried away by the exaggerating of separate aspects of the Faith. He saw the truth in all its breadth and in its manifold connections.

He did not, for an example, preach Christ in us apart from the truth Christ for us. Neither did he preach Christ for us and forget to speak of Christ in us. But with him theology was a matter of experience. He never taught it in dry dogmatic propositions. The greatest and profoundest faiths he had passed through the fires of life. He could sing about them as well as preach about them. Ministers may ask themselves (and this is a very good test) Can I preach from the words “Accepted in the Beloved,” or “Not having mine own righteous”? The preacher to whom those texts suggest nothing does not know the burning heart of Christianity. But if he is carried away into the depth of these texts, and is able to preach on them from living experience, he has an unction from the Holy One, and is greatest when he speaks of the stories of spiritual experiences.

When he deals with the ordinary griefs of life, especially with bereavement, he is less helpful than in other places, for he himself perhaps never quite understood the agony of loss. On the other hand, he knew as few have known what it was to be in the valley of spiritual humiliation. I wish it were possible that his expositions on the Psalms could be published separately; they are quite alone, so far as I know, in our literature. Mr. Spurgeon cast his plumbline marvelously far.

You will hear his voice, and you will know it when you hear it…

Excerpts taken and adapted from C. H. Spurgeon’s 2,900th Sermon,
“How God comes to Man.”

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He will come in the evening, brother and sister, when the day’s work is done…

…so do not fret about the burden and heat of the day. The longest and hottest day will come to an end; you will not live here for ever. You will not always have to wear your fingers to the bone in trying to earn a scanty livelihood.

You will not always have to look round upon your children, and wonder where the bread will be found with which to feed them. No; the days on earth cannot last for ever; and, with many of you, the sun has already climbed the hill, and begun to go down the other side, and “the cool of the day” will soon come. I can look upon a good many of you who have already reached that period. You have retired from active service, you have shaken off a good deal of business care, and now you are waiting for your Master to come to you. Rest assured that He will not forget you, for He has promised to come to you. You will hear His voice,before long, telling you that He is walking in the garden, and coming to you. Good old Rowland Hill, when he found himself getting very feeble, said, “I hope they have not forgotten poor old Rowley up there.” But he knew that he was not forgotten,nor will you be, beloved.

You will hear your Lord’s voice ere long; and the mercy is, that you will know it when you do hear it. Have you not often heard it before now? Many a time, in this house, you have heard His voice, and you have been glad. In the cool of many an evening, you have sat still, and communed with God. I like to see an old Christian woman, with her big Bible open, sitting by the hour together, and tracing with her finger the precious words of the Lord; eating them, digesting them, living on them, and finding them sweeter to her soul than honey or the droppings of the honeycomb to her taste.

Well, then, as you have heard your Lord’s voice, and know its tones so well, as you have been so long accustomed to hear it, you will not be astonished when you hear it in those last moments of your life’s day. You will not run to hide yourself,as Adam and Eve did. You are covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, so you have no nakedness to fear ; and you may respond,” Didst Thou ask, my Lord, ‘Where art thou?’ I answer, ‘Here am I, for Thou didst call me.’ Didst Thou ask where I am? I am hidden in Thy Son; I am ‘accepted in the Beloved.” Didst Thou say, ‘Where art thou?’ Here I stand, ready and waiting to be taken up by Him, according to His promise that, where He is, there I shall be also, that I may behold His glory.”

Why surely beloved, as this is the case, you may even long for the evening to come when you shall hear His voice, and shall be up and away from this land of shadows and chilly night dews, into that blessed place where His glory burns on for ever and ever, and the Lamb is the light thereof, and the days of your mourning shall be ended forever.

A Simple Argument for the Pardoning Love of God

Henry_the_Young_KingWhat man among you can stand against his children’s tears?

When King Henry II (of England), in the ages gone by, was provoked to take up arms against his ungrateful and rebellious son, he besieged him in one of the French towns, and the son being near to death, desired to see his father, and confess his wrong-doing; but the stern old sire refused to look the rebel in the face. The young man being sorely troubled in his conscience, said to those about him,

 “I am dying, take me from my bed, and let me lie in sackcloth and ashes, in token of my sorrow for my ingratitude to my father.”

Henry_II_of_England_croppedThus he died, and when the tidings came to the old man outside the walls, that his boy had died in ashes, repentant for his rebellion, he threw himself upon the earth, like another David, and said,

“Would to God I had died for him.”

The thought of his boy’s broken heart touched the heart of the father. If ye, being evil, are overcome by our children’s tears, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven find in your bemoanings and confessions an argument for the display of his pardoning love through Christ Jesus our Lord? This is the eloquence which God delights in, a broken heart and the contrite spirit.     –C. H. Spurgeon