The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "Let Us Go Forth," a sermon preached on Sunday morning, 26 June 1861 at London's Metropolitan Tabernacle.
he reproach of Christ, in these days, takes this shape. "Oh," say they, "the man is too precise. He is right; but still, truth is not always to be spoken. The thing is wrong, no doubt, which he denounces, but still the time has not come yet; we must be lenient towards these things. The man is right in what he says, but we must not be too precise nowadays. We must give and take a little—there must be charity."
God's Word, in this age, is a small affair; some do not even believe it to be inspired; and those who profess to revere it set up other books in a sort of rivalry with it. Why, there are great Church dignitaries nowadays who write against the Bible, and yet find bishops to defend them. "Do not, for a moment, think of condemning their books or them; they are our dear brethren, and must not be fettered in thought." How many days ago is it since a bishop talked in this way in convocation?
Some believe in Popery; but here, again, the plea will be, "They are our dear brethren." Some believe in nothing at all; but still they are all safely housed in one Church, like the beasts, clean and unclean, in Noah's ark.
Those who come out with Christ get this reproach: they are too precise; in fact, they are "bigots." That is how the world brings it out at last, "bigots" "a set of bigots!"
I have heard say that the word "bigot" took its rise from this: that a certain Protestant nobleman being commanded, in order to gain his lands, to kneel down, and in some way or other commit the act of idolatry towards the host, said, when he came at last to the point, "By God, I will not;" and they called him henceforth a "By-God." If this be the meaning of the word "bigot," we cheerfully adopt the title; and were it right to swear, we would aver: "By him that lives!—by heaven!—we cannot speak a lie, and we cannot bend our knee to the shrine of Baal, bigots or no bigots."
The truth is first, and our reputation next.
Then they say, "Ah! these people are behind their time; the world has made such advances; we are in the nineteenth century; you ought to know better; the discoveries of science put your narrow views out of court."
Very well, Christian, be content to be behind the times, for the times are getting nearer to judgment and the last plagues.
"Ah!" but they say, "these people seem to us to be so self-righteous; they think themselves right and nobody else."
Very well, Christian, if you are right, think yourself right; and if everybody else should call you self-righteous, that does not make you so. The Lord knows how we cling to the cross, and as poor sinners, look up to Christ and Jesus Christ alone. Our conscience is void of offense in this matter.
"Ah!" they say, "they are not worth noticing; they are all a pack of fools."
It is very remarkable that in the judgment of their own age, good men always have been fools. Fools have been the ones who have turned the world upside down. Luther and Calvin, Wesley and Whitfield were all fools; but somehow or other God managed by these fools to get to himself a glorious victory.
And then they turn round and say, "It is only the poor—only the lower orders. Have they any of the nobility and gentry with them?"
Well, this reproach we can pretty well bear, because it is the old standard of Christ that the poor have the gospel preached unto them; and it has ever been a sweet reflection that many who have been poor in this world have been made rich in faith.
Brethren, you must expect if you follow Christ to endure reproach of some sort or another. Let me just remind you what reproach your Master had to bear. The world's Church said of Christ, "He is a deceiver: he deceives the people." Incarnate truth, and yet a deceiver! Then they said, "He stirreth up the people: he promotes rebellion. He is no friend of good order: he foments anarchy; he is a mere demagogue." That was the world's cry against Christ, and, as that was not enough, they went further, and said, "He is a blasphemer;" they put him to death on the charge that he was a blasphemer. They whispered to one another, "Did you hear? he said so-and-so last Sabbath, in his sermon. What a shocking thing he did in such a place! He is a blasphemer."
Then came the climax; they all said he had a devil, and was mad. Surely they could go no further than this, but they supplement it by saying, when he cast out devils, that he did it through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.
A sorry life your Master had, you see. All the filth in earth's kennels was thrown at him by sacrilegious hands. No epithet was thought coarse enough; no terms hard enough; he was the song of the drunkard, and they that sat in the gate spake against himn.
This was the reproach of Christ; and we are not to marvel if we bear as much.
"Well," says one, "I will not be a Christian if I am to bear that."
Skulk back, then, thou coward, to thine own damnation; but oh! men that love God, and who seek after the eternal reward, I pray you do not shrink from this cross. You must bear it. I know you may live without it if you will fawn and cringe, and keep back part of the price; but do not this, it is unworthy of your manhood, much more is unworthy of your Christianity. For God and for Christ be so holy and so truthful that you compel the world to give its best acknowledgment of your goodness by railing at you—it can do no more, it will do no less.
Be content to take this shame, for there is no heaven for you if you will not—no crown without the cross, no jewels without the mire. You must stand in the pillory if you would sit in glory; you must be spit upon, and be treated with shame if you would receive eternal honor; and if you reject the one you reject the other.