posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. This week's dose comes a bit late, but here it is. It's an excerpt from "Startling!"—a sermon originally delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, on a Sunday evening in the summer of 1861.
od only knows the vileness of the human heart. There is a depth beneath, a hidden spring, into which we cannot pry. In that lower depth, there is a still deeper abyss of positive corruption which we need not wish to fathom.
God grant that we may know enough of this to humble us, and keep us ever low before him! Yet hold, Lord, lest we should yield to despair, and absolutely lie down to die under the black thought of our alienation from righteousness, our naturalization in sin, and the deplorable tendency of our heart to rebel more and more against thee, the faithful and true God! Show us not all our wretchedness. . .
I have often been startled when I have found in my heart the possibilities of iniquity of which I thought I never could have been the subject, in reveries by day or in dreams of the night. All at once, a blasphemy foul as hell has started up in the very middle of offering a prayer so earnest that my heart never knew more fervor. I have been staggered at myself.
When God has called us into the pulpit,—we thought, at one time, we never could be proud if God so honored us,—this has seemed to quicken our step in the black march of our depraved heart. Or, when a little cast down and troubled in spirit, we have wished to leave the world altogether, and have been like Jonah, trying to flee to Tarshish that we might not go to this great Nineveh at our Lord's bidding. Little did we reckon that there was such cowardice in our soul. We have thus found out another phase in our own nature.
Does any man imagine that his heart is not vile? If he be a professing Christian, I much suspect whether he ought not to renounce his profession; for, methinks, any enlightened man, who sincerely looks to himself, and whose experience leads him somewhat to lock within, will surely find, not mere foibles, but foulness that literally staggers him. I question the Christianity of that man who doubts whether there are, in his soul, the remains of such corruption as drown the ungodly in perdition; or whether, though a quickened child of God, he hath another law in his members, warring against the law of his mind.
What! hath he no such battle within that the things he would do he often doeth not, while the things that he would not do he often doeth? Hath he no need to be in constant prayer to God to deliver him from the evil in his heart that he may be more than a conqueror over it at last? I do assert, once more, and I think the experience of God's children beareth me out, that, when we shall be most advanced, and when we come, at last, to sit down in God's kingdom above, we shall find that we have not learnt all that there is to be learnt of the foulness of our nature, and the desperateness of our soul's disease.
"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores." "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" "Cleanse thou me from secret faults." "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Perhaps, if we knew more of this terrible evil, it might imperil our reason. Hardly could it be possible for us to bear the full discovery and live. Among the wise concealments of God, is that which hides from open view the depravity of our heart, and the corruption of our nature.