Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following memorial address was given by B.H. Carroll, founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the first Sunday in February, 1892.
Hebrews 11:4Last Sunday Night at Mentone France, there died The Greatest Man of Modern Times.If every crowned head in Europe had died that night, the event would not be so momentous as the death of this one man! Nay more, if every member of every reigning dynasty had died in one night, it would not have attracted so much attention as this man's death.On earth perhaps, yes—but in the universe, no.The more thickly-peopled worlds beyond this outnumber the population of this planet as the stars and sands and forest leaves outnumber the houses of men. And these people, above and below, were more moved at Spurgeon's death, than if all kings had died. Moreover, their interest is without affectation. There is sincerity after death. With them there is no stereotyped grief or joy. No perfunctory condolence of congratulation. No official crape or festoons. No hirelings to mourn or hurrah. Napoleon's return from Elba, LaFayette's visit to America, Washington's and Jackson's tours through the States—were all thrilling pageants, but it has not entered into the heart of man to conceive the glory of Spurgeon's return to the bosom of his God, and his welcome beyond the stars. At the depot of death, God's chariot met him as a kingly guest, and a convoy of angels escorted him home. Cherubim hovered over him and Seraphim flamed before him. The bended heavens stooped to meet him."Lift up your heads, O, ye gates— and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors"— and let the child of glory come in.And who are these, like clouds of doves from the windows of heaven, that fly to greet him? These are his spiritual children, begotten unto God through his ministry, out of every nation and tribe and kindred. From the British Isles, from America, from the Australian bush, from the Islands of the sea, "from Africa's torrid climes," and "Greenland's icy mountains," "from India's coral strand," from the pine-clad mountains of Scandinavia, and bleak Nova Zembla, they had gone up before him and were waiting and watching for him.
The ends of the earth were there, not only geographically but morally. There met him the drunkard and the debauchee, there the society-banned harlot, there the "ticket-of-leave" convict and the red-handed murderer, there the children of poverty and hereditary vice, there the converts from infidelity, "that caries of the intellect," there the whilom worshipers of Moloch and ghastly Mammon, these all rescued by his instrumentality as "brands from the burning," and now whiter than snow, and absolved and shrived from sin, free, "redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled." And who can tell their welcome? And who can measure his shout of exultation: "Ye are my crown of rejoicing."See the sower. See him "that went forth weeping, bearing precious seed," now coming "with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Oh, the sheaves of golden grain, the multitude of sheaves! When before, and oh my soul, when again will the angels shout such a harvest home? How does he pluck and appropriate the promise "they that be wise shall shine as the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever"?See the builder, the wise master builder. He built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. He built thereupon gold, silver, and precious stones. His work is made manifest. The day has declared it, the day revealed by fire. The fire has tried his work. It abides unconsumed. He receives his reward.See his heavenly addition. He has added to his faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. These were in him and abounded. They made him that he should be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Christ.He was not blind. He could see afar off. He never forgot that he was purged from his old sins. He made his calling and election sure. He never fell. An so an entrance was ministered unto him abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His ship comes to the port of heaven not a storm-tossed wreck, dismantled and tattered, towed in by some harbor tug; but with every mast standing, ever sail filled and flowing, and cargoed to the water's edge. Oh, let me "die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"And what cloud is this that like incense from ten thousand burning censers rises up from the earth and follows him to heaven? Is it not the gratitude of homeless widows whom he has sheltered and clothed and fed? Is it not the blessing of the fatherless, whose orphan condition he has relieved? Is it not the tribute of poor ministers whom he has educated and supplied with books?But most rapturous and entrancing vision—see him meet the Master himself! Spurgeon and Christ—the saint and his Saviour. Meeting above clouds and sorrow and death. Meeting in that sun-bright clime undimmed by sorrow and unhurt by time, where age hath no power o'er the fadeless frame where the eye is fire and heart is flame.See the saint casting all his star-crowns and honors at the nail-pierced feet, crying out: "My Lord and my God!" and shouting: "GRACE—grace, all grace—a sinner saved by grace."YES, SPURGEON IS DEAD.Earth mourns, but heaven is glad.And how does the news affect the lost when they see him afar off—beyond the fixed, broad, and impassable gulf—sitting down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God? How do they remember the gospel he preached? How recall his tears, his melting persuasions? How he warned and plead in vain, pointing to the open door— now shut forever; pointing to the water of life, from whose cooling streams they have cut themselves off forever? How, now hopeless, they recall his sermons on hope! How bitter their wail: "We knew our duty, but did it not! However unworthy other preachers, this man is guiltless of our blood. He is a swift witness against us." So hell beneath was moved at his going, as heaven above was moved at his coming. And so Spurgeon's death attracted more attention than if all kings had died.YES, SPURGEON IS DEAD.The tallest and broadest oak in the forest of time is fallen.The sweetest, most silvery and far-reaching voice that published the glad tidings since apostolic times is hushed. The hand whose sickle cut the widest swath in the ripened grain-fields of redemption lies folded and nerveless on a pulseless breast, whose heart when beating kept time with every human joy and woe. But he was ready to be offered. He fought a good fight. He kept the faith, and while we weep, he wears the triple crown of life and joy and glory, which God the righteous judge has conferred upon him.This wonderful man was both a creation and a result. God created him to be great. His extraordinary natural endowments of mind and body were gifts of God as much as his conversion and call to the ministry. The circumstances of ancestry, training, Puritan libraries, existing contrast between the independent and the State church, together with the times in which he lived—all of which had much to do with him as a result, were providentially furnished ready to his hand.Question: "How do you account for Spurgeon?" The answer is the monosyllable: "GOD."In discussing the life and labors of such a man, the limits of this address allow us only to touch lightly, the salient points.Never since Paul died has so much work and so much success been crowded into so small a space of time.Let us glance briefly at some of this work.Mr. Spurgeon was pre-eminently a preacher. He preached more sermons, perhaps, than any other man. More people have heard him than have heard any other man. More people have read and do read his sermons than the sermons of any other man.Schaff: "The average sale of the Weekly Sermon is twenty-five thousand copies. Two have exceeded it; and one, on Baptismal Regeneration, preached in the summer of 1864, sold to the extent of one hundred and ninety-eight thousand copies." More of them have been translated into foreign tongues than any other sermons. More have appeared in the earth's great daily and weekly papers. More people have been converted by reading them, in more countries, than by, perhaps, all other published sermons. They are all simple. All easily understood. All full of meat, fire, unction, and power. Nearly all are upon the fundamental doctrines of grace. All of them make the way of life so plain that the wayfaring man though a fool, need not err therein. The common people devour them. The poor, ignorant, vile, and unfortunate, rush to them as the thirsty Israelites to the water from the rock. Intellect bows under their power, and Negroes shout over them. The great praise them, and the humble hug them to their heart. Livingstone had one of them in his hat when he died, having carried it through Africa. A widow was found half frozen on an Alpine mountain peak, reading one of them through her tears. A bush-ranger in Australia was converted by reading one, blood-stained, which he had taken from the body of a man he had murdered.No other man commencing with such large congregations, held them in ever increasing crowds for thirty-eight years, until he died. He came to the old London church where Benjamin Keach was pastor thirty-two years, John Gill fifty-six years, John Rippon sixty-three years. He found a congregation of one hundred in a house whose seating capacity was one thousand and two hundred. In three months it was crowded, and in less than a year they had to enlarge it, while Mr. Spurgeon was filling Exeter Hall. The enlarged church was too small from the first sermon. They moved into Surrey Music Hall, seating seven thousand, and filled it to overflowing.The Metropolitan Tabernacle was built, seating five thousand, with standing room for one thousand. The standing room was occupied until he died. He never found but one place that could hold his congregation: the open fields roofed by the skies.With whom among men can you compare him? He combined the preaching power of Jonathan Edwards and Whitfield with the organizing power of Wesley, and the energy, fire, and courage of Luther. In many respects he was most like Luther. In many most like Paul.His pulpit power derived no aid from adventicious circumstances. He dealt in no tricks of elocution. You cannot conceive of Mr. Spurgeon attitudinizing before a mirror to learn graceful gesticulation. Mr. Spurgeon's pulpit power consisted largely in his convictions. He spake because he believed. He realized that he carried a message from God. A message of life to the lost. It was his business to deliver the message, not vindicate it. He did not feel authorized to minify, dilute, or change it.He believed in God. He believed in the personality of the devil. He believed the Bible doctrines of heaven and hell. He believed in the eternity of future happiness or woe for every man; in the power of the Holy Ghost; in the divinity of Jesus and the reality of vicarious expiation. He believed that Jesus Christ founded the church. He believed that a Christian congregation should be as a lighthouse on a rock-bound coast, or a chandelier of grouped lights revealing the dangerous pathway to hell and illuminating the narrow way to heaven.That the mission of the church was not to amuse and entertain, but to save the world. Hence that meeting-houses were not the successors of Solomon's temple, whose antitype is the spiritual church, but were only meeting-houses, and should therefore be constructed with reference to utility and comfort. They should be good audience rooms, well lighted, heated, and ventilated, with enough entrances and exits for convenience and safety, and without steeples, chancels, altars, stained glass, images, or pictures; indeed, without everything that would divert the minds of the people from the preaching of Jesus Christ and him crucified.His pulpit power was also greatly enhanced by his character. All men felt that he was wedded to truth. He hated all lies and shams and frauds. He was neither two-faced, double-minded, nor double-tongued. He loved candor, and abhorred double-dealing, wire-pulling, indirectness, and Macchiavellianism. His own nature was simple, transparent, direct. His eye was single. If in speech he was natural, shunning the affectations of elocution, the flourishes of rhetoric and all theatrical displays, how much more did he abhor hypocrisy in life, and with what relentless scorn did he tear off the mask which covered moral turpitude, and behind which immorality rotted the souls of men.He was a real man, not a dreamer or visionary, and possessed withal as large a share of "sanctified common sense" as is ever allotted to man. Then, without being an agitator, politician, or demagogue, he was emphatically one of the people. He had more points of contact with them than any other preacher of modern times. He could play with boys, laugh with girls, and genuinely enjoy a talk with the old women in the almshouses. His sympathy for them in all their sorrows was manifestly unaffected. Except, perhaps, Martin Luther, no other man since the Master himself, so nearly touched the life of the common people all along the line of their experience. He understood them. They understood him. Witness John Ploughman.Then his nature was so cheery and sunshiny, so social. He was no misanthrope, no recluse, but a mingler in the everyday affairs of life. Moreover, his discernment of human nature was only equalled by his sturdy independence. He believed in the natural dignity of man, as man, without regard to fictitious distinctions of rank and wealth. Human patents of nobility were no more to his rugged Puritan mind than the "titular dignitaries of the chess-board."One can imagine how he would emphasize the couplet of Burns —The Rank is but the guinea's stamp, the Man's the gowd, for a' that.Such a character must have told mightily in his preaching. But Mr. Spurgeon was not only a preacher, but a teacher of preachers (The Pastor's College). That preacher whose preaching never leads others to preach, may well doubt that he is one himself.Finally, while we cannot dwell on them...Let us look for a moment at some other lessons suggested by Mr. Spurgeon's life.(1) Debt. Perhaps, more than any other man of his generation, has Mr. Spurgeon impressed the English-speaking world with the impolicy, degradation, slavery, and sin of debt. In the erection of almshouses, orphanages, colleges, churchhouses, and mission chapels—costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, he never incurred a debt. "Pay as you go" was his watchword.His publications (see "John Ploughman's Talk" & "J. P.'s Pictures") have teemed with proverbs, illustrations, and exhortations on this subject. He impressed the world that debt is folly, extravagance, bondage, shame, sin. Let us as preachers, Christians, citizens, and churches lay the lesson to heart.(2) His life and ministry have demonstrated that the doctrine of a free salvation, none of works but all of grace, promotes the highest form of practical piety. The believers of this doctrine do not "sin the more that grace may abound." His ministry and its results prove that not Arminianism but, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation ...teaches us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."(3) His ministry has demonstrated that a free salvation, none of works but all of grace, promotes and produces the most effective work. Work, not to be saved, but because saved. While his life affirms with unspeakable emphasis: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he has saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour," it also effectively exhorts: "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."(4) His ministry has demonstrated that while salvation is free, none of works but all of grace, yet the sinner must seek the Lord—must pray for forgiveness, must mourn over sins, must strive to enter in at the strait gate.(5) His ministry has demonstrated the power of a gospel which insists on man's depravity, the necessity of regeneration, the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, and the undiluted doctrine of substitutionary, vicarious expiation.(6) But perhaps, greatest of all lessons, his ministry has demonstrated and illustrated the truth of the scripture:"And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me."That the preaching of "Christ and him crucified," "the glorying only in the cross," "the knowing nothing but the cross," out-draws in attractive power all other themes. What sensationalist, relying on adventitious aids, on flaming advertisements, on slang and ribaldry, on theatrical methods and trick of elocution, ever did gather and hold—in one place—attentive thousands for nearly forty years?Like Paul, Mr. Spurgeon could say: "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."The world needed this lesson. The times were out of joint. The church was drifting from mummeries to infidelity. We needed to go back to first principles. If any man seeks popularity, he will lose it. If he loses it he will find it.
When Bonaparte died, Phillips said: "He is fallen."
When Spurgeon died, the world said: "He is risen."