While I’m posting Spurgeon quotations, I may as well post this one, which I came across recently in an old back-issue of Credenda/Agenda:
I know there are some who say, “Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to any church.”
Now why not?
“Because I can be a Christian without it.”
Are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s commands as by being obedient? There is a brick. What is it made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It is a good-for-nothing brick. So you rolling-stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose. You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame for the injury that you do. — Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon at His Best (quoted in Credenda/Agenda 3.2).
The other day, in a discussion with a friend, I called to mind a sermon I once read by C. H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon’s eschatology was, shall we say, unusual. From various statements he made, it seems clear that he was a premillennialist of sorts, but certainly not a dispensationalist. In fact, he disagreed vigorously with Darby and you’ll spot what is surely a reference to Darby’s innovative views in the last quotation below (“new schemes and fancies and interpretations of prophecy”).
But where most premillennialists today talk as if the world is going to get worse and worse and worse until finally, at last, Jesus comes back to rescue us, Spurgeon … well, Spurgeon talks differently. The sermon is on Isaiah 52:13ff.:
The text, then, claims for Jesus Christ that the influence of His grace and the power of His work shall be extended over many nations, and shall have power not over the common people only, but over their leaders and rulers. “The kings shall shut their mouths at Him”; they shall have no word to say against Him; they shall be so subdued by the majesty of His power that they shall silently pay Him reverence, and prostrate themselves before His throne. Kings, mark you….
Kings have not shut their mouths at Him yet; they have mostly opened their mouths wide against Him, and reviled and blasphemed Him and persecuted His saints. There must be brighter days to come for this poor world yet, when even princes shall humbly obey our Lord…. Assuredly the day will come when the mightiest prince shall count it his highest honour to have his name enrolled as a member of the Church of Christ. “Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him” (“The Sure Triumph of the Crucified One,”Spurgeon’s Sovereign Grace Sermons 46-47).
Notice that Spurgeon is not talking about this happening after Jesus returns (e.g., in a millennium in which Jesus will rule on earth). He’s talking about something that will happen before Jesus returns, something that he expects in the future between the time he preached this sermon and the time of Jesus’ return. Here’s more:
The success of the gospel is in no jeopardy whatever. Jesus must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. If the devil can persuade you that Christ is goin gto give up the war, or is going to fight it out on another line, and dispense with your efforts, you will soon grow idle. You will find an excuse for laziness in some supposed conversion of the world by miracle, or some other wonderfu laffair. You will say the Lord is coming, and the war will all be over at once, and there is no need for your fighting it out now.
Do not believe it. Our Commander is able to fight it through on this line; in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, by the power of the Eternal Spirit, we are bound to keep right on till this world yields before God…. Brethren, Popery must fall, Mohommedanism must come down, and all the idol gods must be broken, and cast to the moles and to the bats. It looks a task too gigantic, but the bare arm of God — only think of that — His sleeve rolled up, Omnipotence itself made bare, — what cannot it accomplish?
Stand back, devils! when God’s bare arm comes into the fight you will all run like dogs, for you know your Master. Stand back, heresies and schisms, evils and delusions; you will all disappear, for the Christ of God is mightier than you. Oh, believe it. Do not be downhearted and dispirited, do not run to new schemes and fancies and interpretations of prophecy. Go and preach Jesus Christ unto all the nations. Go and spread abroad the Savior’s blessed name, for He is the world’s only hope. The cross is the banner of our victory. God help us to look to it ourselves, and then to hold it up before the eyes of others, till our Lord shall come upon His throne (50-51).
The last phrase (“till our Lord shall come upon His throne”), with its suggestion that Jesus is not yet enthroned (on earth, presumably), is the hint that suggests that Spurgeon was a premillennialist. I’m not. But if what Spurgeon preached was premillennialism, then we need more of it. Which is to say, would that all who fall into the premillennialist camp today shared Spurgeon’s solid hope in the “sure triumph of the Crucified One.”
C. H. Spurgeon offers some strong words to the sort of people who kick you when you’re down:
How aggravating it is when those who knocked you down, kick you for not standing up! It is not very pleasant to hear that you have been a great fool, and that there were fifty ways at least of keeping out of your difficulty, only you had not the sense to see them. You ought not to have lost the game; even Tom Fool can see where you made a bad move. “He ought to have locked the stable door“; everybody can see that, but nobody offers to buy the loser a new nag. “What a pity he went so far on the ice!“ That’s very true, but that won’t save the poor fellow from drowning. When a man’s coat is threadbare, it is an easy thing to pick a hole in it. Good advice is poor food for a hungry family….
Lend me a bit of string to tie up the traces, and find fault with my old harness when I get home. Help my old horse to a few oats, and then tell him to mend his pace. Feel for me, and I shall be much obliged to you, but mind you feel in your pocket or else a fig for your feelings. — C. H. Spurgeon, John Ploughman’s Talk, pp. 85-86.
If we loved children, we would have a few. If we had them, we would want them as children, and would love the wonder with which they behold the world, and would hope that some of it might open our own eyes a little. We would love their games, and would want to play them once in a while, stirring in ourselves those memories of play that no one regrets, and that are almost the only things an old man can look back on with complete satisfaction. We would want children tagging along after us, or if not, then only because we would understand that they had better things to do. — Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, xii.