24 January 2009

Memento Mori

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The excerpt at the end of this week's entry is from "Memento Mori," a sermon Spurgeon preached Sunday morning, 18 March 1860.

But first, the background of the sermon from which this paragraph was excerpted is described by Susannah Spurgeon in her husband's autobiography:

[Special] week-day services at the Tabernacle, Moorfields. . . were among the fixed engagements [Mr. Spurgeon devoted himself to] each year. Dr. John Campbell, who had long stood forth as the friend and advocate of the young Pastor, thus spoke of this annual visit:—"Every 365 days, Mr. Spurgeon and his dear companion and the two little Princes Imperial honour my family with their presence for a whole day. We count on it; it is a high day with us. By two sermons, on that occasion, Mr. Spurgeon almost entirely supports our City Mission at the Tabernacle."

. . . Mr. Spurgeon referred to this happy compact in the following terms:—"It was always a great pleasure to me to have been associated with good old Dr. Campbell, the Editor of The British Banner. He was a very dear friend of mine. I used to preach for him every year, and it was understood that, when I went, I must take my dear wife and our two little boys with me.

The day before we were to go, that great stern strong man, who had no mercy upon heretics, but would beat them black and blue,—I mean in a literary sense, not literally,—used to visit a toy-shop, and buy horses and carts or other playthings for the children. One time, when he sent the invitation for us all to go to his house, he wrote:—"Our cat has had some kittens on purpose that the boys may have something fresh to play with.' It showed what a kind heart the old man had when he took such pains to give pleasure to the little ones."

One of the most memorable of these annual visits was paid on Wednesday, March 14, 1860. There had been, near that time, a great many serious accidents and notable sudden deaths. A mill in America had fallen, and buried hundreds of persons in the ruins. A train had left the rails, and great numbers of the passengers were in consequence killed. The captain of the largest vessel then afloat, who had been brought safely through many a storm, had just said farewell to his family when he fell into the water, and was drowned. A judge, after delivering his charge to the grand jury with his usual wisdom, calmness, and deliberation, paused, fell back, and was carried away lifeless. Mr. Corderoy, a well-known generous Christian gentleman, was suddenly called away, leaving a whole denomination mourning for him.

Mr. Spurgeon's sermon—"Memento Mori"—at Exeter Hall, the following Lord's-day morning, contained a reference to these occurrences, and also to another which more directly affected Dr. Campbell. Preaching from the words, "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" Mr. Spurgeon said:—

It was but last Wednesday that I sat in the house of that mighty servant of God, that great defender of the faith, the Luther of his age,—Dr. Campbell; we were talking then about these sudden deaths, little thinking that the like calamity would invade his very family; but, alas! we observed, in the next day's paper, that his second son had been swept overboard while returning from one of his voyages to America. A bold brave youth has found a liquid grave.

So that here, there, everywhere, O Death! I see thy doings. At home, abroad, on the sea, and across the sea, thou art at work. O thou mower! how long ere thy scythe shall be quiet? O thou destroyer of men, wilt thou never rest, wilt thou ne'er be still? O Death! must thy Juggernaut-car go crashing on for ever, and must the skulls and blood of human beings continue to mark thy track? Yes, it must be so till He comes who is the King of life and immortality; then the saints shall die no more, but be as the angels of God.

On Death

AN IS UNWILLING to consider the subject of death. The shroud, the mattock and the grave, he labors to keep continually out of sight. He would live here always if he could; and since he cannot, he at least will put away every emblem of death as far as possible from his sight. Perhaps there is no subject so important, which is so little thought of. Our common proverb that we use is just the expression of our thoughts, "We must live." But if we were wiser we should alter it and say, "We must die." Necessity for life there is not; life is a prolonged miracle. Necessity for death there certainly is, it is the end of all things. Oh that the living would lay it to heart!

C. H. Spurgeon


Al said...

God Bless and Keep you Phil...

al sends

Unknown said...

I just recently blogged about the necessary consideration of death that must attend the thoughts of the Christian.

Please allow me to post a link here: "Beam Me Up Scotty!"

Thank you.

DJP said...

Very poignant, at this moment.

"It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth" (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4)

jeff said...

Very poignant.
It is a subject that is very rarely contemplated. But until we are ready to die, we can never truely be ready to live.
God bless.

Susan said...

Wow. I'm hearing so much of death recently. (Could the Lord be trying to tell me something...?) But I guess there's no use dwelling on it. We just have to prepare for it and not be that fool in the parable who wanted to eat, drink, and be merry, only to have his life be taken from him that very night...

(And that picture Frank posted on his Spurgeon dose--the one with the girl jumping up and her arms in the air. If I could put a caption on that, it would be, "Yippee!! I'm going to DIE!!!" Spurgeon certainly puts it beautifully when he describes the Christian "coming" to his death instead of being dragged to it. What a wonderful way of think about this very dismal subject!)