posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following selection is from "Feeding on the Bread of Life," a sermon preached at the Met Tab in London on Sunday evening 6 November 1881. The illustration with which Spurgeon opened this sermon came to mind while we were visiting the Capuchin crypt at Savoca, near Messina, Sicily, this morning.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life."John 6:47, 48.
BSERVE carefully the order in which our Lord puts the two blessings he mentions;first, life through believing on him, and then food to sustain that life;first, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life;" and next to that, "I am that bread of life." Life comes first, and food follows afterwards. It is impossible for a dead man to feed, or to be fed; only the living can eat and drink.
I once went into the monastery of the Capuchins at Rome, and there I saw certain of the departed brotherhood dressed in their regular habits, although they had been dead, some of them a hundred years, some fifty, and one gentleman, I think, had scarcely been dead more than a year or so; but there they sat, with their breviaries in their hands, just as, if they had been alive; yet I did not see any preparations for feeding them. It would have been as ridiculous to attempt to feed them as it was to keep them there at all.
Now, when we preach the gospel, unless you have spiritual life, you cannot feed upon it; and if you were to come to the communion table, unless you were truly alive unto God, you might eat the bread, and drink the wine, but with real spiritual food, the body of Christ, and the blood of Christ, you could have nothing to do. We do not give food to people in order to make them live. That would be a useless experiment; but, because they are alive, they take food in order to sustain and nourish the life which is already in them. Always recollect, dear friends, that the best spiritual food in the world is useless to those who are spiritually dead; and one very essential part of the gospel is that truth which our Savior so plainly taught, "Ye must be born again." All attempts at feeding the soul are of no use until the new birth has been experienced; even that precious, priceless bread of life cannot be assimilated unless the soul has been quickened by the Spirit of God.
Judge, then, my hearers, whether you are alive unto God, or not. Before you can rightly know the truth, before you are qualified to learn its mysteries, pray that you may be made to live by faith in Jesus Christ; for before food comes life.
But, next, after life there must be food; for, just as surely as there will be no use for the food without the life, so will there be no continuance of the life without the food.