Delighting in God’s Creation

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!

The Hell of Sin In the Awakened Conscience

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.”

O, to pray like Luther

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.

Give Yourself to the Church

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.

Scarves, Beards, Lozenges, and Pepper: Spurgeon on the Proper Care of the Preacher’s Throat

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.

The Preacher and the Rat-Catcher

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.