Category Archives: C.H. Spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon:
Did you ever hear Mr. Woolf tell the story of Aleppo [a large city in Syria] being swallowed up by an earthquake? Suddenly awakened one morning, he scarcely knew how, he went outside of Aleppo. He turned his head a moment; and where that great city had been there was a vacuum, and Aleppo had all been swallowed up.
Who did that? Who but God!
Have you never heard of the earthquake at Lisbon, and of the population of that great city being sucked down and consumed? Have you never heard of whole islands disappearing, being suddenly submerged with the inhabitants, and not a wreck left behind?
Did you never hear of tornadoes, and of ships with hundreds on board being driven to the bottom of the sea by the force of the wind, by the raging of the storm, or rather, by the resistless voice of him whom winds and waves obey?
Why, such fearful calamities happen so frequently, that we are wont to read almost every day of some heart-rending disaster, now an explosion in a coal-pit, then a collision on the railway, a steamer sinks within sight of shore.
Though some of these tragedies are to be traced to human carelessness, and others are purely accidental, yet there remain those which no prescience of mortals could forestall, and we rightly call them ‘visitations,’ for they are utterly unavoidable.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes will always occur, I suppose, as long as the world continues. Still, ‘the earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.’ The God of Providence whom we adore baffles our little wisdom by the ills he permits, and the elements he lets loose, but I bow before him with a love that is not diminished by the convulsive shocks of nature, or the sorrows that taint our feeble race on land and ocean, at home and abroad, because I believe him to be good, immensely good, in the roughest tempests as well as in the clearest calm, though I cannot understand the way that he takes.
Source: C. H. Spurgeon’s Sermons Beyond Volume 63: An Authentic Supplement to the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Forty-Five Forgotten Sermons Compiled from the Baptist Messenger (Day One, 2009), 245–246.
What follows is a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of Charles Spurgeon’s brain while he preached, as he explained in Lectures to My Students [(Carter and Brothers, 1889), 2:27-28]:
The Spirit of God acts also as an anointing oil, and this relates to the entire delivery—not to the utterance merely from the mouth, but to the whole delivery of the discourse. He can make you feel your subject till it thrills you, and you become depressed by it so as to be crushed into the earth, or elevated by it so as to be borne upon its eagle wings; making you feel, besides your subject, your object, till you yearn for the conversion of men, and for the uplifting of Christians to something nobler than they have known as yet.
At the same time, another feeling is with you, namely, an intense desire that God may be glorified through the truth which you are delivering. You are conscious of a deep sympathy with the people to whom you are speaking, making you mourn over some of them because they know so little, and over others because they have known much but have rejected it.
You look into some faces, and your heart silently says, “The dew is dropping there;” and turning to others, you sorrowfully perceive that they are as Gilboa’s dewless mountain. All this will be going on during the discourse.
We cannot tell how many thoughts can traverse the mind at once. I once counted eight sets of thoughts which were going on in my brain simultaneously, or at least within the space of the same second. I was preaching the gospel with all my might, but could not help feeling for a lady who was evidently about to faint, and also looking out for our brother who opens the windows that he might give us more air. I was thinking of that illustration which I had omitted under the first head, casting the form of the second division, wondering if A felt my rebuke, and praying that B might get comfort from the consoling observation, and at the same time praising God for my own personal enjoyment of the truth I was proclaiming.
Some interpreters consider the cherubim with their four faces to be emblems of ministers, and assuredly I see no difficulty in the quadruple form, for the sacred Spirit can multiply our mental states, and make us many times the men we are by nature. How much he can make of us, and how grandly he can elevate us, I will not dare to surmise: certainly, he can do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.
Yes, and especially so if you were a genius to begin with.
From Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on the beautiful text of Isaiah 65:17–19 (#2211):
I must confess that I think it a most right and excellent thing that you and I should rejoice in the natural creation of God.
I do not think that any man is altogether beyond hope who can take delight in the nightly heavens as he watches the stars, and feel joy as he treads the meadows all bedecked with kingcups and daisies. He is not lost to better things who, on the waves, rejoices in the creeping things innumerable drawn up from the vast deep, or who, in the woods, is charmed with the sweet carols of the feathered minstrels.
The man who is altogether bad seldom delights in nature, but gets away into the artificial and the sensual. He cares little enough for the fields except he can hunt over them, little enough for lands unless he can raise rent from them, little enough for living things except for slaughter or for sale. He welcomes night only for the indulgence of his sins, but the stars are not one half so bright to him as the lights that men have kindled: for him indeed the constellations shine in vain.
One of the purest and most innocent of joys, apart from spiritual things, in which a man can indulge, is a joy in the works of God. . . . I like to see my Savior on the hills, and by the shores of the sea. I hear my Father’s voice in the thunder, and listen to the whispers of his love in the cadence of the sunlit waves. These are my Father’s works, and therefore I admire them, and I seem all the nearer to him when I am among them.
If I were a great artist, I should think it a very small compliment if my son came into my house, and said he would not notice the pictures I had painted, because he only wanted to think of me. He therein would condemn my paintings, for if they were good for anything, he would be rejoiced to see my hand in them. Oh, but surely, everything that comes from the hand of such a Master-artist as God has something in it of himself!
Charles Spurgeon, sermon 1068:
Only let a man once feel sin for half-an-hour, really feel its tortures, and I warrant you he could prefer to dwell in a pit of snakes than to live with his sins. Remember that cry of David, “My sin is ever before me” [Psalm 51:3]; he speaks as though it haunted him. He shut his eyes but he still saw its hideous shape; he sought his bed, but like a nightmare it weighed upon his breast; he rose, and it rose with him; he tried to shake it off among the haunts of men, in business and in pleasure, but like a blood-sucking vampire it clung to him. Sin was ever before him, as though it were painted on his eye-balls, the glass of his soul’s window was stained with it. He sought his closet but could not shut it out, he sat alone but it sat with him; he slept, but it cursed his dreams. His memory it burdened, his imagination it lit up with lurid flame, his judgment it armed with a ten-thonged whip, his expectations it shrouded in midnight gloom. A man needs no worse hell than his own sin, and an awakened conscience.
What is there to say after reading that quote except to sing: “Hallelujah! All I have is Christ / Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.”
As recounted by Charles Spurgeon in sermon #108:
Oh! to have heard Luther pray!
Luther, you know, when Melancthon was dying, went to his death-bed, and said, “Melancthon, you shall not die!”
“Oh,” said Melancthon, “I must die! It is a world of toil and trouble.”
“Melancthon,” said he, “I have need of thee, and God’s cause has need of thee, and as my name is Luther, thou shalt not die!”
The physician said he would.
Well, down went Luther on his knees, and began to tug at death. Old death struggled mightily for Melancthon, and he had got him well nigh on his shoulders.
“Drop him,” said Luther, “drop him, I want him.”
“Ho,” said death, “he is my prey, I will take him!”
“Down with him,” said Luther, “down with him, death, or I will wrestle with thee!”
And he seemed to take hold of the grim monster, and hurl him to the ground, and he came off victorious, like Orpheus with his wife, up from the very shades of death. He had delivered Melancthon from death by prayer!
“Oh,” say you, “that is an extraordinary case.” No, beloved, not one-half so extraordinary as you dream. I have men and women here who have done the same in other cases; that have asked a thing of God, and have had it; that have been to the throne, and showed a promise, and said they would not come away without its fulfillment, and have come back from God’s throne conquerors of the Almighty; for prayer moves the arm that moves the world.
Charles Spurgeon [sermon #2234 (1891)]:
Give yourself to the church. You that are members of the church have not found it perfect, and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.
Joe Thorn’s recent tweet reminded of this bit of advice for preachers from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon:
When you have done preaching take care of your throat by never wrapping it up tightly. From personal experience I venture with some diffidence to give this piece of advice. If any of you possess delightfully warm woollen comforters, with which there may be associated the most tender remembrances of mother or sister, treasure them — treasure them in the bottom of your trunk, but do not expose them to any vulgar use by wrapping them round your necks. If any brother wants to die of influenza let him wear a warm scarf round his neck, and then one of these nights he will forget it, and catch such a cold as will last him the rest of his natural life.
You seldom see a sailor wrap his neck up. No, he always keeps it bare and exposed, and has a turn-down collar, and if he has a tie at all, it is but a small one loosely tied, so that the wind can blow all round his neck. In this philosophy I am a firm believer, having never deviated from it for these fourteen years, and having before that time been frequently troubled with colds, but very seldom since.
If you feel that you want something else, why, then grow your beards! A habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. One of our brethren, now present, has for years found this of great service. He was compelled to leave England on account of the loss of his voice, but he has become as strong as Samson now that his locks are unshorn.
If your throats become affected consult a good physician, or if you cannot do this, give what attention you please to the following hint. Never purchase “Marsh-mallow Rock,” “Cough-no-more Lozenges,” “Pulmonic Wafers,” Horehound, Ipecacuanha, or any of the ten thousand emollient compounds. They may serve your turn for a time by removing present uneasiness, but they ruin the throat by their laxative qualities. If you wish to improve your throat take a good share of pepper — good Cayenne pepper, and other astringent substances, as much as your stomach can bear.
Source: Lectures to My Students, lecture 8: “On the Voice,” 1:133-34.
Charles Spurgeon was never afraid to call people “rats.” He once told his congregation that closet Christians, those who keep the faith to themselves to avoid opposition, are like rats in the wainscoting who feed safely on crumbs at night.
Spurgeon also called “professional” preachers rats. He wrote the following story in The Sword and Trowel (1884):
A certain country clergyman used to tell a good story of his going to a new parish, and asking a parishioner what his occupation was. “I am the village rat-catcher,” the man replied; “and what are you?” The clergyman answered that he was the village parson, whereupon the rat-catcher was good enough to observe that he supposed “we must all get a living somehow.”
If a man’s one object is to get a living, let him by all means take to rat-catching rather than to preaching. It is probably legitimate to kill vermin to earn your bread; but it would be a prostitution of the sacred ministry to pursue it with that design. It is to be feared that not a few look upon the work in that light; and in their cases it is to the loss of the church that they did not buy a ferret and a couple of dogs, and seek small game under the floors of barns and stables. They would then have cleared men’s houses of pests; but as it is, they are themselves the pests of the house of the Lord.
Preach with a single eye to the glory of God, or else hold your tongue.
One Thursday evening in late December, 1876, Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon on the comforting words of the Psalmist, “I flee unto thee to hide me” (Ps. 143:9). Near the end of his message he said this:
Suppose that twenty troubles should come to us in a day, and that we should flee unto God twenty times with them, I think that was might almost pray to God to send twenty troubles more, so that we might flee unto him forty times a day. Any reason for going to God must be a blessing to us, for going to God is going to bliss; so we may even turn our troubles into blessings by making them drive us unto him.
Have you been worrying yourself, since you have been here [in the service], about a trial that you expect to fall upon you towards the close of this year! You fear that Christmas is not likely to be “a merry Christmas” to you; there are many bills coming in, and not much hope of the money with which to meet them; well, then, flee unto God with that trouble; and whatever is burdening your heart or your mind, flee unto God about it, and leave it all in his hands, and go on your way rejoicing.
Helmut Thielicke, Encounter With Spurgeon (Fortress, 1963):
It is evidence of the substance and also of the excellence of form in Spurgeon’s sermons that — removed from the situation in which they were originally preached, and also from the magnetism of Spurgeon’s personality! — they lose very little in print. Not for a moment do they give the impression that we are reading merely historical testimonies to which we no longer have any immediate access and which come alive only in the act of reinterpretation. Even for us they are still a bubbling spring whose water needs no filtering or treatment. And I venture to ask: Of what other preacher of the nineteenth century could this be said? …
But this bush from old London still burns and shows no signs of being consumed. Here Christians dare to speak of miracle. (pp 3-4)
I am almost tempted to shout out to those who are serving the eternal Word as preachers, and to those who are preparing to do so, in what I hope will be productive hyperbole: Sell all that you have and buy Spurgeon (even if you have to grub through the second-hand bookstores). (p 45)
Thankfully that’s not necessary. Many of Spurgeon’s works can be read online for free. And his massive sermon manuscript archive is still in print thanks to the folks at Pilgrim Publications. We are blessed to have such easy access to his publishing legacy.