posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following selection is from "Idols Found Wanting, but Jehovah Found Faithful," a sermon preached during the midweek (Thursday Evening) service on 27 September 1888, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
f you are at all readers of the history of religious thought, you will know that systems of philosophy, and philosophical religions, have come up, and have been generally accepted as indisputable, and have done serious injury to true religion for a time; and yet they have vanished like the mirage of the desert.
When at their best, they have withered: the grass has flowered, the flower has come to its full, and has fallen beneath the scythe. The gourds have come up in a night, and have perished in a night.
Even those of us who are not aged, yet remember two or three different forms of philosophical divinity which preceded this new dreaming, which is just now so loudly cried up. Many modern thoughts have come up, and have gone down again. Bel has bowed down, and Nebo has stooped.
The boastful "thinkers" carried up their elaborate systems into their places with great labor, and then they carried them away again, and buried them with equal labor. What philosophers prove one year, philosophers disprove another year. We, old-fashioned Christians, have remained unchanged in our fidelity to revealed truth, and we have seen Bel go up and Bel go down, and Nebo go up and Nebo go down.
Yes, we have seen rubbish venerated as a precious thing, and anon the precious thing carted away as so much lumber. Like a child's merry-go-round at a fair, heresy is a revolution of the old things over and over again; yet people think it new. The present idols of the mind are just as worthless as those of former times.
The god of modern thought is a monkey. If those who believed in evolution said their prayers rightly, they would begin them with, "Our Father, which art up a tree." Did they not all come from a monkey, according to their own statement? They came by "development," from the basest of material, and they do not belie their original.
If you are not well acquainted with this new gospel, I would not advise you to be acquainted with it; it is a sheer, clear waste of time to know anything about it at all. The moderns are able to believe anything except their Bibles. They credulously receive any statement, so long as it is not in the Scriptures; but if it is founded on Scripture, they are, of course, prepared to doubt and quibble and cavil straight away.
The credulity of the new theologians is as amazing as their scepticism. But we shall see the monkey-god go down yet, and evolution will be ridiculed as it deserves to be. The philosophy of the present, whose aim is to get rid of God, has nothing to support it in fact or in nature. It will fly as chaff before the wind, and someday nobody will own that he ever thought of believing it.
The new religion will be regarded as a craze, an emanation from Bedlam; and every man will be ashamed to think that he stopped to hear or read anything about it. So idiotic is it from beginning to end, that it will become a standing jest for ages to come, a proverb and a byword to mankind. Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth already; and, as the Lord Jehovah liveth, the whole of this thing, which has been so cunningly and carefully devised to dethrone him, and cast down his gospel, shall be had in derision.
These new gods, newly come up, shall not deliver themselves, or their worshippers, any more than did the idols of Babylon.
But now, beloved, it will be just the same with us if we trust in false confidences of any sort; such, for instance, as our experiences, or our attainments, or our services, or our orthodox belief, or aught else. If we set up any confidences apart from our God, we shall soon see the end of them. Imagine that any Christian here should be so foolish as to rely upon his own works. God forbid we should! But what an airy nothing our confidence would be! Before long that Bel would bow down, and that Nebo would stoop, for the hope would be too flimsy to bear the least weight.
Or, if we should begin to rely upon our own enjoymentsif frames and feelings should become our confidenceall would come down, and our boast would become our burden, our glory our shame. "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth": sooner or later this will be the end of all false trusts.
Placing confidence in our inward feelings is like building upon a bog, or leaning upon a rush, or feeding upon wind. The idols of our feeling are like the mudgods of Indiathey are utterly worthless, and they turn to mere clay almost as soon as they are formed.
If in our daily life we look to an arm of flesh, or practice self-reliance instead of God-reliance, or if we trust to friends instead of leaning upon the one great Invisible, we shall yet learn with tears the terror of that sentence, "Cursed is he that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm."
"Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth": anything that you make your confidence, instead of God, will fail to bear your burden, and will itself become a burden to you. Instead of its carrying you, you will have to carry it. Instead of its taking your load, it will increase your load, and become at last an intolerable curse.
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." Beloved in the Lord, think not that this is an unnecessary warning even for you, for you may as easily set up an idol in your heart as other men may set up a false system of philosophy, or an idol god. Guard against setting up a rival trust to rob the Lord of even a small part of your confidence. "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him." None but Jesus is the ground of salvation: none but the Eternal God is the disposer of providence.
Trust thou wholly in him who loves to be trusted. Let us lean upon our God with all our weight, and lean nowhere else; for if we put our confidence elsewhere, our idolatry will come home to us, and we shall hear the voice of disappointment, wailing bitterly, "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together."