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 "Christ Lifted Up," a sermon preached on July 5, 1857, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
he question is asked in these times, "How are we to get the working-classes to listen to the word?"
The answer is, Christ is his own attraction, Christ is the only trumpet that you want to trumpet Christ. Preach the gospel, and the congregation will come of themselves. The only infallible way of getting a good congregation, is to do this.
"Oh!" said a Socinian once, to a good Christian minister, "I cannot make it out; my chapel is always empty, and yours always crammed full. And yet I am sure mine is the more rational doctrine, and you are not by any means so talented a preacher as I am."
"Well," said the other "I will tell you the reason why your chapel is empty, and mine full. The people have a conscience, and that conscience tells them that what I preach is true and that what you preach is false, so they will not hear you."
You shall look through the history of this realm ever since the commencement of the days of Protestantism, and I will dare to say it without fear of contradiction, that you will almost in every case find that the men who have attracted the greatest mass of people to hear them, have been men who were the most evangelicalwho preached the most about Christ and him crucified.
What was there in Whitefield to attract an audience, except the simple gospel preached with a vehement oratory that carried everything before it. Oh, It was not his oratory, but the gospel that drew the people. There is a something about the truth that always makes it popular.
You tell me that if a man preaches the truth his chapel wild be empty.
Sir, I defy you to prove that. Christ preached his own truth, and the common people heard him gladly, and the multitude flocked to listen to him.
My good ministering brother, have you got an empty church? Do you want to fill it? I will give you a good recipe, and if you will follow it, you will, in all probability, have your chapel full to the doors.
Burn all your manuscripts, that is No. 1. Give up your notes, that is No. 2. Read your Bible and preach it as you find it in the simplicity of its language. And give up all your Latinized English. Begin to tell the people what you have felt in your own heart, and beseech the Holy Spirit to make your heart as hot as a furnace for zeal. Then go out and talk to the people. Speak to them like their brother. Be a man amongst men. Tell them what you have felt and what you know, and tell it heartily with a good, bold face; and, my dear friend, I do not care who you are, you will get a congregation.
But if you say, "Now, to get a congregation, I must buy an organ."
That will not serve you a bit.
"But we must have a good choir."
I would not care to have a congregation that comes through a good choir.
"No," says another, "but really I must a little alter my style of preaching."
My dear friend, it is not the style of preaching, it is the style of feeling. People sometimes begin to mimic other preachers, because they are successful. Why, the worst preachers are those who mimic others, whom they look upon as standards preach naturally. Preach out of your hearts just what you feel to be true, and the old soul-stirring words of the gospel will soon draw a congregation. "Where the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
But if it ended there, what would be the good of it? If the congregation came and listened to the sound, and then went away unsaved, of what use would it be? But in the next place, Christ acts as a net to draw men unto him. The gospel ministry is, in God’s Word, compared to a fishery; God’s ministers are the fishermen, they go to catch souls, as fishermen go to catch fish.
How shall souls be caught? They shall be caught by preaching Christ. Just preach a sermon that is full of Christ, and throw it unto your congregation, as you throw a net into the seayou need not look where they are, nor try to fit your sermon to different cases; but, throw it in, and as sure as God’s Word is what it is, it shall not return to him void; it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto he hath sent it.
The gospel never was unsuccessful yet, when it was preached with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It is not fine orations upon the death of princes, or the movements of politics which will save souls. If we wish to have sinners saved and to have our churches increased; if we desire the spread of God’s kingdom, the only thing whereby we can hope to accomplish the end, is the lifting up of Christ; for, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me."