02 January 2011

A Rebuke to Our Cold-Hearted Calvinism

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following is an excerpt from "Earnestness," an address Spurgeon gave at an Assembly of the London City Missionaries on New Year's Day, January 1861.

xcept we are in earnest, our souls can never be in sympathy with the soul of Christ.

I see him now standing on the hill. He looks down upon the city; he marks the gilded roof of the temple, and the streets, and he weeps. He foresees the total destruction of that city, "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth." In vision he marks her streets crimsoned with gore, and her temple already in flames; and what does he say?

Does he harden his heart by some ideas of divine sovereignty? Does he stand there callous and dry-eyed, feeling that this is predestinated and must be, and that therefore he need not weep? No. We believe that Christ knew the destiny of Jerusalem, but he wept over it too. Down from his eyes the torrents ran; down his cheeks they scalded furrows for themselves: but at last he bursts out in passionate grief, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not?"

Now, if your heart does not feel like that, it is not in harmony with Christ's. There must be the same weepings, the same longings, the same yearnings, or else we have not had fellowship with Christ in the great end and aim of his incarnation—the salvation of the souls of men.

Tell me not of your communings in your closets; tell me not of your raptures and your ecstasies, when your soul has been like the chariots of Amminadib. These things are blessed if they are coupled with the other; but, unless you have fellowship with Christ in labour, fellowship with him in perseverance, fellowship in suffering, I care not for your ecstasies or your reveries; they are hollow and deceitful things. . . .

Oh, let the Crucified One stand before each one of us this morning! I think I see him, and he looks at me and says, "I gave my blood to save sinners; wilt thou not give thy life too?"

And if I feel faint and weary, methinks he puts his hand upon me and he says, "Son of man, I have set thee to speak unto this multitude, for I have much people in this city; be strong and fear not; by my wounds I charge thee, be thou faithful unto death."

By the wounds of Jesus, I charge you, brethren; "by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by his precious death and burial, by his glorious resurrection and ascension,"—in his name I charge you, be ye faithful unto death, and ye shall inherit the crown of life.

C. H. Spurgeon


Robert Warren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil said...

How do you like that quote you hyper Calvinists?

donsands said...

"I gave my blood to save sinners; wilt thou not give thy life too?"

I have a grateful heart that Christ saved a chief sinner like me. I lived a very ungodly life, and even now my sins of not loving my neighbor as myself, and not loving Jesus with all my heart ever beset me.

And yet I trust in His truth; His Cross; His blood and flesh, which I eat and drink, spiritually every day, and every hour.

Thanks for such a imperative lesson from Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

May this year be a year where I weep for others, and crush my self-righteousness, and pour contempt on all my pride moreso than ever before.
And may I see the Lord add many to His church. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Methinks young master Chuck was quite the twee drama queen. Glad his folks didn't give up on him.

MarieP said...

We just read 2 Cor. 5 in our consecutive Scripture reading this morning! Romans 9 also comes to mind (the first five verses, that is). And Hosea 11, Ezekiel 18 and 33, Isaiah 55, Lamentation 3:31-36, Matthew 11:20-30, Luke 19:41-44, and Romans 2:4-5.

And Jonah 4:11- "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?"

And wonderful thoughts, Don! We would be children of wrath if it weren't for God's sovereign, saving grace. Ought we not desire that others experience that grace as well?

Phil Johnson said...


I deleted your comment because of the crass way you solicited traffic to your blog. It was the first comment I have ever seen from you, and it came across like cheap, condescending troll-spam. You don't get to do that here. See rules in right sidebar.

steve s said...

can Zippy go too?

Phil Johnson said...

The character posing as "holywrath" is just clowning around; I think Zippy may be serious.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that Zippy and Holywrath are both angry Arminians and/or wounded Derek Webb groupies.

DJP said...

Zippy has commented many times, which you have not seen. His comments have, without exception, been pure Rule Six violation, with no added content. He got himelf insta-banned by his third comment.

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

(Reposted to fix typos/grammar/homiletics)
Wow! I love Spurgeon and can't wait to meet him in Glory, but this sermonette radically misquotes scripture! Christ didn't preach Matthew 23:37 in the same passage he predicted the temple burning, and he certainly did not do so with tears.

I just finished teaching Zechariah 11 (manuscript on my blog), which is played out in Matthew 22-23. In Matthew 23:37 Spurgeon claims compassion, but in actuality Christ was fulfilling his rejection of Israel being utterly uncompassionate, leaving the land desolate, and cutting them off from salvation. (vv.38-39 are always conveniently ignored, even by this prince of preachers, along with half of v.37; I've misquoted it myself)

There is a call to rejoice in the destruction of the ungodly (Psalm 58), to claim lest you repent you shall perish (Luke 13:1-5), to be utterly angry at your audience (John 5, Matthew 23). Still though, we desire all to come to repentance, no matter the depth of their evil (Acts 26:29), for the saying is trustworthy and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (1 Timothy 1:15).

Good application, TERRIBLE exegesis.

Steve Berven said...

I'd have to go with Canyon on this one. Charlie seems to take a bit of poetic license here to make his point, (which of course, none of US have EVER done...), but the Matt 23 passage pretty clearly reads as a stinging indictment, a stern condemnation rather a tearful entreaty.

donsands said...

"And when he [Jesus] drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,.." Luke 19:41

Perhpa he had this passage in mind.

Robert Warren said...


I also noticed the conflation of the 3 passages (Mt 23, Lk 13, and Lk 19). I even commented on it briefly (it was the first comment, deleted by author), but started thinking: Hey, if Spurgeon, MacArthur, and my own Sunday School teacher have reason to connect the Lk 19 weeping part with the other two (the "O Jerusalem" passages), maybe I'm missing something; maybe there's some exegetical reason to connect the time-flow of the passages. I decided discretion was the better part of being scripturally pedantic. Besides, it might finger me as being a cold-hearted Calvinist.

I also realize that many non-Reformed use Mt 23:37 as a refutation of Irresistible Grace (it isn't) and add the tears for emotional impact. It could be that many expositors, even Reformed, have this ingrained in their tradition and assume it.

Anonymous said...

Call me a cold-hearted Calvinist, but I always took it for granted that Jesus' tears were the result of His catching the stench of reprobates as it wafted to Him from the condemned city. That, or Judas had eaten a garlic-onion-and-brimstone sandwich for breakfast. I prefer either of my versions to that put forth by good ol' bleeding heart Chaz. But whatever.

donsands said...

"I prefer either of my versions to that put forth by good ol' bleeding heart Chaz."

A statement like this just may grieve God the Holy Spirit.

Paul says: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve [lupeo] the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

Anonymous said...

Don, I don't think the Spirit is grieved by levity. My tongue is as firmly buried in my cheek as ol' Chuck's passion was conspicuously poured out in his writings.

donsands said...

Levity is hard for me to pick up with my pea brain mind sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Nah. It's just that we cold Calvinist fuddy-duddies routinely use so much brain power that we sometimes unwittingly deactivate our underdeveloped, atrophied "humor centers," no?

Phil said...

Yeah Texan, but the whole point of the Spurgeon quote seems lost on you, which is ironic given the intent of Phil J in posting it.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I don't follow you here. Please elucidate.

Tony Byrne said...

Spurgeon's use of Matt. 23:37 is fine. The text indicates a lament as well as judgment, as D. A. Carson points rightly expounds it. Furthermore, Spurgeon's take on the text is characteristic of many Calvinists/Puritans who went before him, such as Peter Martyr Vermigli, John Calvin, Augustine Marlorate, Richard Sibbes, John Howe, William Perkins, John Cotton, Stephen Lobb, John Humfrey, Theophilus Gale, Ezekiel Culverwell, Oliver Heywood, John Flavel, John Preston, Thomas Ford, Edward Leigh, John Trapp, Edward Polhill, William Burkitt, Hugh Binning, Matthew Henry and Thomas Boston. These later Calvinists interpret it as Spurgeon does as well: Jonathan Edwards, J. C. Ryle, Charles Hodge, R. L. Dabney, John Murray, Walter Chantry, Donald Dunkerley, Maurice Roberts, Paul Zylstra, Bob Sheehan, Erroll Hulse, Anthony Hoekema, Gerald Hamstra, Iain Murray, John MacArthur, Sam Waldron, David Silversides, John Frame and William Hendriksen.

Spurgeon's use of the Matt. 23:37 text is just mainstream Calvinism.

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

First we have the major issue that he misquoted it; that in itself makes it not fine. If you need to edit scripture to make your point, you've stepped away from scripture.

Second, Carson, for as much as I love him, also has to edit the Bible to make his point, saying the passage in Luke isn't even in the right spot. Ridiculous.

Majority doesn't determine truth; this passage is clearly as harsh and condemning as Christ intended for it to be; without a twinge of compassion. This is the stripping of Israel of salvation, the removal of the kingdom from her, and the giving of it to another, as Christ began doing in Matthew 21:43 and concluded in Matthew 23:38, indignation is his attitude, not weeping.

donsands said...

"..indignation is his attitude, not weeping." Canyon

What about Luke 19:41, when did Jesus weep?

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...


The context answers your question, we wept because of their great sin. This would have been a better passage for Spurgeon to try to make his point with, at least it doesn't need to be edited; but if Christ is sad that people aren't coming to him, then he is an impotent God indeed. He weeps because he came to make peace, and the Scribes sought to destroy him, precisely why he stripped them of salvation, magnifying his grace by showing it is his to give and that he can give it to whom he will.

We have to remember that disaster cannot come upon a city unless God sends it (Amos 3:6); Christ was the primary agent in the desolation of Jerusalem, just as he is the champion of the New Jerusalem which will never be conquered.

I know it is presumptuous, but I've researched this to the point that I know what it's teaching, it is Christ's utter hatred of these false teachers; I believe I presented my points fairly well on my blog, which should clear up the confusion that we have in this passage as to Christ's attitude. The Flock Sold For Slaughter.

Your friendly neighborhood hyper-Calvinist,

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

My apologies for answering a question you didn't ask...I read it as "why did Jesus weep..." The when is at least a day (probably more) before Matthew 21-23 occured, see the very last verses of Luke 19 and they correspond to Matthew 22.

donsands said...

"The when is at least a day (probably more) before Matthew"

I'll have to check that out. Seems like the same exact time.

I'll be back. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1ypn0y32Ac&feature=related

donsands said...

"He beheld the city and wept over it." Luke 19:41

"We err greatly if we suppose that Christ cares for none but His own believing people. He cares for all. His heart is wide enough to take an interest in all mankind. His compassion extends to every man, woman, and child on earth. He has love of general pity for the man who is going on still in wickedness, as well as a love of special affection for the sheep who hear His voice and follow Him. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Hardened sinners are fond of making excuses for their conduct. But they will never be able to say that Christ was not merciful, and was not ready to save.

We know little of true Christianity, if we do not feel a deep concern about the souls of unconverted people. A lazy indifference about the spiritual state of others, may doubtless save us much trouble. To care nothing whether our neighbors are going to heaven or hell, is no doubt the way of the world. But a man of this spirit is very unlike David, who said, "rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law." He is very unlike Paul, who said, "I have a great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for my brethren."
Above all, he is very unlike Christ. If Christ felt tenderly about wicked people, the disciples of Christ ought to feel likewise."-JC Ryle

I think Bishop Ryle expounds upon our Lord's sadness and weeping quite well.
May we all shed some tears this 2011 for the lost, knowing it is by grace, and grace alone we, who are also children of wrath, are forgiven and loved. Amen.