13 December 2009

A Disease of Wind on the Brain

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 a sermon titled "Waters to Swim In," originally preached on a Thursday evening, 25 April 1872, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.

hese are days of "modern thought;" as you are all aware men have become wondrously wise, and have outgrown the Scriptures. Certain unhappy children's heads are too big, and there is always a fear that it is not brain, but water on the brain; and this "modern thought" is simply a disease of wind on the brain, and likely to be a deadly one, if God does not cure the church of it.

Within the compass of the orthodox faith—within the range of the simple gospel—there is room enough for the development of every faculty, however largely gifted a man may be. No matter, though the man be a Milton in poetry, though he be a master in metaphysics, and a prince in science, if he be but pure in his poesy, accurate in his metaphysics, and honest in his science, he will find that the range of his thought needs no more space than Scripture gives him.

It has been thought by some that these persons who run off to heretical opinions are persons of great mind; believe me, brethren, it is a cheap way of making yourself to be thought so, but the men are nobodies. That is the sum of the matter.

We are satisfied with the theology of the Puritans; and we assert this day that, when we take down a volume of Puritanical theology we find in a solitary page more thinking and more learning, more Scripture, more real teaching, than in whole folios of the effusions of modern thought. Modern men would be rich if they possessed even the crumbs that fallen from the table of the Puritans. They have given us nothing new after all. A few variegated bladders they have blown, and they have burst while the blowers were admiring them; but, as for anything worth knowing, which has improved the heart, benefited the understanding, or fitted men for service in the battle of life, there have been no contributions made by this "modern thought" worth recording; whereas, the old thought of the Puritans and the Reformers, which I believe to be none other than the thought of God thought out again in man's brain and heart, is constantly giving consolation to the afflicted, furnishing strength to the weak, and guiding men's minds to behave themselves aright in the house of God and in the world at large.

There are "waters to swim in," in the Scriptures. You need not think there is no room for your imaginations there. Give the coursers their reins: you shall find enough within that book to exhaust them at their highest speed. You need not think that your memory shall have nothing to remember; if you had learnt the book through and through, and knew all its texts, you would have much to remember above that, to remember its inner meaning, and its conversations with your soul, and the mysterious power it has had over your spirit, when it has touched the strings of your nature as a master harper touches his harp strings, and has brought forth music which you knew not to be sleeping there. There is no faculty but what will find room enough in the word, if we will but obediently bring it to the service of the Lord.

C. H. Spurgeon


Morris Brooks said...

"...to remember...its conversations with your soul, and the mysterious power it has had over your spirit, when it has touched the strings of your nature as a master harper touches his harp strings, and has brought forth music you knew not to be sleeping there."

With these words Spurgeon has captured the essence of experiential Calvinism, not the dry intellectual Calvinism; but the Calvinism that melds mind, heart, and spirit. No wonder he was called the Prince of Preachers.

Would that all of us be so touched and engaged and one with the Word of the Lord.

Terry Rayburn said...

I agree with Mr. Spurgeon's distaste for "modern thought".

But instead of his saying, "We are satisfied with the theology of the Puritans;", how much better off he would have been to say, "We are satisfied with the theology of the BIble."

Spurgeon suffered from bouts of depression.

In the reading of many of his sermons and several biographies of his life, I am convinced that the catalyst, if not the cause, of his depression was his immersion is the Puritans.

Whether connected physiologically to his brain chemistry or not, I'm convinced that his depression was brought on by the confusion he was subjected to by the Puritans.

1. His Bible taught him to gaze upon Christ...

...the Puritans taught him to look to himself in introspective examination of his wicked and deceitful heart.

2. His Bible taught him "It is finished"...

...the Puritans taught him that he must "persevere"...or else.

3. His Bible taught him that the New Covenant was unilateral, accomplished entirely by God...

...the Puritans dragged him over the blessing/cursing coals of the Old Covenant, never rightly dividing the Old from the New, a la Hebrews 8.

4. His Bible taught him that he was a Saint who sins...

...the Puritans taught him that he was a Sinner who was also sorta a Saint.

5. His Bible taught him that sin shall no longer be master over us because we are not under law, but under grace...

...the Puritans taught him that he might have been initially saved by grace, but he surely was now under law.

6. His Bible taught him that he had been given a new heart by God, one that loves Christ and hates sin...

...the Puritans taught him that his heart was deceitful and desperately wicked, confusing the regenerate with the unregenerate.

7. His Bible taught him that he could rejoice in the assurance of his salvation...

...the Puritans taught him, "Not so fast, Buster! Do you KNOW you're saved? 100% sure? C'mon, you know what a wretched creature you are! Will you stay till the end? That's the question! Are you properly aware of your sin, such that you daily grovel and weep and mourn for it? I didn't think so! You probably don't even weep and wail for the lost, do you? Huh?! Huh?! And you call yourself a preacher! You may fancy yourself a worker for God, but do you match US? Do you put in 18 hours a day? Do you visit the poor and needy and lost until you're exhausted? I didn't think so. Not so fast, Buster!"

8. His Bible taught him that if he would walk by the Spirit, he would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh...

...the Puritans taught him that if he would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, he MAY be able to walk by the Spirit.

9. His Bible taught him, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage..."

...the Puritans taught him that if he strived hard enough, he might rid himself of his bondage, though they weren't too sure, since they had not rid themselves of theirs.
Obviously there were exceptions to the above caricature of the Puritans. They themselves were confused many times, and so it's no surprise that they would confuse others.

But such mingling of Old Covenant and New Covenant means mingling grace and works, freedom and bondage, joy and condemnation, assurance and doubt.

And it's not just Spurgeon. Such confusion is the norm when one immerses themselves in Covenant Theology.

We don't need "modern thought".

We need ancient New Covenant thought.