15 December 2008

How "Total" Is Our Depravity?

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
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.

C. H. Spurgeon


W. Ian Hall said...

Thanks Phil. I always enjoy the Spurgeon posts. In my first year in the pastorate I devoured the New Park Street volumes of sermons. The blessing was immense and I heartily recommend them to all new pastors. Combining great knowledge, genuine godliness, immense speaking ability, and an overwhelming desire to see souls saved the sermons are in one word - Breathtaking.

Rachael Starke said...

Wow. It's always amazing how contemporary Spurgeon's thoughts are - he's like some kind of theological Shakespeare.

This one in particular is really thought provoking. I've encountered a couple folks recently who would agree wholeheartedly that this was their oldnature, but not necessarily true any longer with their new nature in Christ.

Guess how much fun they are to be around???

Anonymous said...

Well...I know myself (I think) and Mr. Spurgeon apparently know me as well.

What a great God we have, who can and will save someone like me. Like ME!!! Can you believe it??

Thanks for posting this.

James Scott Bell said...

I agree with Spurgeon that "when we shall be most advanced" we see with greater clarity the vileness of sin and all the pockets wherein it dwells in our flesh.

Correspondingly, though, "when we shall be most advanced" we should walk ever more in victory over sin by the power of the Spirit, and appreciate ever more dearly the grace that sets us free to obey our Lord.

Thanks be to God!

donsands said...

"..foulness that literally staggers him."

All the foulness in my life has been paid for with the precious blood of Christ Jesus. And when the remnant of foulness in my heart sometimes is exposed, it's because of the precious death of my Savior that I hate it so much.

Thanks for this incredible word from a true pastor of the Lord. It convicts and yet encourages.

Anonymous said...

People have not changed, so why has preaching changed?

SolaMommy said...

Thanks for this sobering post, Phil. It amazes me how many professing Christians believe people are basically "good." I wish Spurgeon could sit down with Oprah and give her the what-for.

Anonymous said...

Why all this old-world, dusty fire-and-brimstone irrelevant legalism from the past? I go to a progressive church that believes the doctrine of conditional depravity! ;)

heeheeheehee. thanks for great post. i've been struggling to articulate it to friends, having only acquired the beginnings of theology this summer and finding it difficult to describe why daily life seems so trivial now, and stupid passing drama doesn't hold my attention more.

- Charlie

nic lazz said...

its scary to look into ones heart with the sincere light of the Holy Spirit shining down over your shoulders. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

David Kyle said...

I have recently had a number of discussions with people who refuse to believe man is totally depraved and unable to come to God on his own. "Free will!" has been their sounding call. I would have to agree with Spurgeon, I have looked into my own soul and came away shuddering.

I have been saved now 14+ years and I am still utterly amazed that God would stoop so low to save me.

Stefan Ewing said...

I've found as a Christian that, not only do I still wrestle with the obvious stuff that also enslaves non-believers, but that there are also particular sins that plague Christians uniquely—like pride, righteousness, resentment, and self-reliance. These latter are all the more insidious, because they seduce the believer's mind and don't immediately repel him in their vileness. It's a different kind of vileness, but they share the same characteristic as all sins: rebellion against God.

Praise the Lord that he knew our future iniquities even before we were born, and yet still loved us and sent His only Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to bear our curse and die for our sins, and for those of anyone who entrusts his life to the Lord.

Eddie Eddings said...

There is a old, very hard to find book entitled, "Arrows of Desire". I can't remember the author but, I gave it to Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publishers at the Christian Booksellers Convention years ago in hopes he would reprint the chapter on Spurgeon. It is a short chapter that deals with a first time eyewitness (I believe it was a lady) at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Very interesting
observations. She mentions men reading the newspaper as they waited for the service to start. She goes on to say when Spurgeon walked out with his elders and deacons, she thought him to look more like an ape than a man. Even mentioned her feeling like throwing oranges his way. Then, Spurgeon started to speak and she was completely captivated as she hung on every gem-filled word that came from his mouth. The eyewitness forgot all about her surroundings and focused on the powerful message. Yes, he was God's man. No other explanation will do.

W. Ian Hall said...

Eddie thanks for that snippet of Spurgeana - Id be keen to get a hold of that book.

Kevin Stilley said...

Spurgeon looks like Santa on the coin in the post graphic.

W. Ian Hall said...
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