20 September 2008

The Virtue of Candor in Preaching

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "Struggles of Conscience," a sermon delivered Sunday morning, 22 September 1860, at Exeter Hall.

it not where the preacher preaches to you in the plural number, but where he deals with you as a man alone, by yourself. Seek out a preacher like Rowland Hill, of whom it is said that if you sat in the back seat in the gallery, you always had a notion that Mr. Hill meant you; or, that if you sat in the doorway where he could not see you, yet you were quite convinced he must know you were there, and that he was preaching right at you.

I wonder indeed, if men ever could feel their sins under some ministers—genteel ministers, intellectual, respectable, who never speak to their hearers as if they did anything wrong. I say of these gentlemen what Hugh Latimer said of many ministers in his day, that they are more fit to dance a morris-dance than to deal with the souls of men. I believe there are some this day more fit to deliver smart lectures and bring out pleasing things to soothe carnal minds, than to preach the Word of God to sinners.

We want the like of John the Baptist back again, and Boanerges; we want men like Baxter to preach,
"As though they might not preach again,
As dying men to dying men."

We want men like John Berridge, who have pulled the velvet out of their mouths years ago and cannot speak fine words—men that hit hard, that draw the bow and pull the arrow to its very head, and send it right home, taking deadly aim at the heart and the conscience of men, ploughing deep, hitting at the private lusts and at the open sins, not generalizing particularising, not preaching to men in the mass but to men in the detail, not to the mob and the crowd, but to each man separately and individually.

Grow not offended with the minister if he comes home too close to you; remember that is his duty. And if the whip goes right round you, and stings you, thank God for it, be glad of it. Let me, if I sit under a ministry, sit under a man who uses the knife with me sometimes, a man who will not spare me, a man who will not flatter me. If there should be flattery anywhere, let it not be at any rate in the pulpit.

He who deals with men's souls should deal with them very plainly; the pulpit is not the place for fine words, when we have to deal with the solemnities of eternity. Take that advice, then, and listen to a personal, home-smiting ministry.
C. H. Spurgeon


John said...

We want men like Spurgeon again...

Doug McMasters said...

Thanks for this Phil. It fits perfectly with the study I am making for Sunday evening--The Marks of the Itching-ear Church.

MarieP said...

Wow, amen! I pray that my own pastors will more and more be this way. Not that they aren't, but the best of men are but men at best.

And when I pray that, I need to pray that our hearts, including my own, would be receptive!

Rick Frueh said...

Candor is nice, but it is nebulous, arbitrary, veiled, and pleasant preaching that really changes lives. Every Sunday should be a "chicken soup for the soul" moment! :)

Stefan Ewing said...

Concering all the folks who go to genteel churches on Sunday mornings and listen to genteel sermons from genteel pastors...

What's the point? it's like drinking cough syrup to eradicate a malignant tumour.

Where's the beef? Where's the fire? Where's the passion for sinners' souls?

Stefan Ewing said...

For "genteel," you can substitute "soothing," "therapeutic," "worldly," "humanistic," "man-centered," etc.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I think Spurgeon would've enjoyed the emergent-see po-motivators

Kirby L. Wallace said...


I take it that was meant to be "tongue in cheek?" Right?

Gads. How lame is that? I have to actually ASK if something is "tongue in cheek?" I'm such a dolt. ;-)