posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from Chapter 23, "Reminiscences as a Village Pastor," in Spurgeon's Autobiography.
But firsttwo bonus links:
Bonus no. 1:
Here's a wonderful article giving insight into how Spurgeon was regarded in London during the early years. It includes a newspaper article from the era. If you'd like to read Spurgeon's later reflections about those difficult years, check this 1876 article from his own pen.
Bonus no. 2:
Here's a link to David Wheaton's radio broadcast last Saturday. He interviewed me regarding Arnold Dallimore's biography on Charles Spurgeon, and Spurgeon's life and ministry.
Now, to the excerpt from Spurgeon's Autobiography:
n my first pastorate, I had often to battle with Antinomians,that is, people who held that, because they believed themselves to be elect, they might live as they liked.
I hope that heresy has to a great extent died out, but it was sadly prevalent in my early ministerial days.
I knew one man, who stood on the table of a public house, and held a glass of gin in his hand, declaring all the while that he was one of the chosen people of God. They kicked him out of the public-house, and when I heard of it, I felt that it served him right. Even those ungodly men said that they did not want any such "elect" people there.
There is no one who can live in sin,drinking, swearing, lying, and so on,who can truly declare that he is one of the Lord's chosen people.
I recollect one such man,and he was a very bad fellow,yet he had the hardihood to say, "I know that I am one of God's dear people."
"So you are," said I; "dear at any price, either to be given or thrown away!" He did not like my plain speaking, but it was true; for that was the only sense in which he was one of God's dear people.
From my very soul, I detest everything that in the least savors of the Antinomianism which leads people to prate about being secure in Christ while they are living in sin. We cannot be saved by or for our good works, neither can we be saved without good works. Christ never will save any of His people in their sins; He saves His people from their sins.
If a man is not desiring to live a holy life in the sight of God, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he is still "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
I used to know a man of this class, who talked a great deal about "saving faith." He was notorious for his evil life, so I could not make out what he meant by saving faith, until the collection was taken, and I noticed how carefully he put his fingernail round a threepenny piece for fear lest it should be a fourpenny; then I understood his meaning.
But the idea of "saving faith" apart from good works, is ridiculous. The saved man is not a perfect man; but his heart's desire is to become perfect, he is always panting after perfection, and the day will come when he will be perfected, after the image of his once crucified and now glorified Savior, in knowledge and true holiness.
While I was minister at Waterbeach, I used to have a man sitting in front of the gallery, who would always nod his head when I was preaching what he considered sound doctrine, although he was about as bad an old hypocrite as ever lived. When I talked about justification, down went his head; when I preached about imputed righteousness, down it went again. I was a dear good man in his estimation, without doubt.
So I thought I would cure him of nodding, or at least make his head keep still for once; so I remarked, "There is a great deal of difference between God electing you, and your electing yourself; a vast deal of difference between God justifying you by His Spirit, and your justifying yourself by a false belief, or presumption; this is the difference," said I,and the old man at once put me down as a rank Arminian,"you who have elected yourselves, and justified yourselves, have no marks of the Spirit of God; you have no evidence of genuine piety, you are not holy men and women, you can live in sin, you can walk as sinners walk, you have the image of the devil upon you, and yet you call yourselves the children of God. One of the first evidences that anyone is a child of God is that he hates sin with a perfect hatred, and seeks to live a holy, Christlike life."
The old Antinomian did not approve of that doctrine; but I knew that I was preaching what was revealed in the Word of God.