08 February 2011

Bonus: A Double Dose of Spurgeon

Let the Lion Out!
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. On top of that, I get at least three queries a week (on average) from people looking for the source of a Spurgeon quote (or legend). Lots of things attributed to Spurgeon are apocryphal, but this week @bfelks Tweeted me asking for the source of one of Spurgeon's most famous quotes. Here's the exchange that ensued:

Then it occurred to me that lots of Pyro-readers might be interested in these quotes. Hence, this bonus double Dose o' Spurgeon.

The first excerpt is from "The Lover of God's Law Filled with Peace," a sermon on Psalm 199:165, preached at the Met Tab in London on 22 January 1888:

t is not mine to improve upon the character of Jehovah, but to reverence and adore him as he manifests himself, either in judgment or in grace. I, who am less than nothing and vanity, dare not scan his work, nor bring him to my bar, lest I hear a voice saying, "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?"

What am I that I should be the ultimate judge of truth, or of justice, or of wisdom? Whatever God may be, or speak, or do-that is right: it is not mine to arraign my Maker, but to adore him. Extenuations, explanations, and apologies may be produced from the best of motives; but too often they suggest to opposers that it is admitted that God's most holy Word contains something in it which is doubtful, or weak, or antiquated. It looks as though it needed to be defended by human wisdom.

Brethren, the Word of the Lord can stand alone, without the propping which many are giving it. These props come down, and then our adversaries think that the Book is down too.

The Word of God can take care of itself, and will do so if we preach it, and cease defending it. See you that lion. They have caged him for his preservation; shut him up behind iron bars to secure him from his foes! See how a band of armed men have gathered together to protect the lion. What a clatter they make with their swords and spears! These mighty men are intent upon defending a lion. O fools, and slow of heart! Open that door! Let the lord of the forest come forth free. Who will dare to encounter him? What does he want with your guardian care?

Let the pure gospel go forth in all its lion-like majesty, and it will soon clear its own way and ease itself of its adversaries. Yes, without attempting to apologize even for the severer truths of revelation, seven times a day do we praise the Lord for giving us his judgments, so righteous and so sure.

The second excerpt is from "Christ and His Co-Workers," a sermon on Mark 16:20, preached at the Met Tab in London on 10 June 1886:

he best way to spread the gospel is to spread the gospel. I believe the best way of defending the gospel is to spread the gospel.

I was addressing a number of students the other day, upon the apologies for the gospel which are so numerous just now. A great many learned men are defending the gospel; no doubt it is a very proper and right thing to do, yet I always notice that, when there are most books of that kind, it is because the gospel itself is not being preached.

Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in the cage, and here come all the soldiers of the army to fight for him. Well, I should suggest to them, if they would not object, and feel that it was humbling to them, that they should kindly stand back, and open the door, and let the lion out! I believe that would be the best way of defending him, for he would take care of himself; and the best "apology" for the gospel is to let the gospel out.

Never mind about defending Deuteronomy or the whole of the Pentateuch; preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. Let the Lion out, and see who will dare to approach him. The Lion of the tribe of Judah will soon drive away all his adversaries. This was how Christ's first disciples worked, they preached Jesus Christ wherever they went; they did not stop to apologise, but boldly bore their witness concerning him.

C. H. Spurgeon


GW said...

I was concerned that this was going to be yet another - Chase a lion into a pit on a snowy day sermon!

Phil Johnson said...


I had to Google to find out what you were talking about. I hadn't encountered that campaign before. I'll add it to the list of books I might read if the publisher sends me a freebie. Thanks for the tip.

qizhi said...

minor typos in the post -

* Psalm 119, not 199 :)
* Wrong link for sermon 2467.

Thank you for the extra Dose of Spurgeon!

GW said...

It should probably be right up there on your reading list with The Shack and The Prayer of Jabez.

~Mark said...

Oh wow...this is such an encouragement to me Phil, thank you! I spent the first year of my new life in Christ (at age 23) buried in Scripture and prayer, realizing that if this was the word of God then I had better know what is in there.

Then, in going further in my education, I encountered a great deal of frustration in attempting to remember dates and times and cities and creeds and synods, etc;

I felt guilty at times (and still get the occasional flash of guilt) for feeling like the knowledge of what the word says should take priority over knowing every historical detail of its recording, though I deeply enjoy learning these things and recognize their great value.

Still, every time The Lord blesses me with seeing Him bring someone into faith, their response hinges not on knowing the physical location of the Dead Sea scrolls, though such information has been helpful at times, but on hearing whatever follows "In the Scriptures, God said..."

Coming to Christ as an adult I didn't have the experience of developing a denominational bent, but I didn't get to learn all of the hymns and Psalms either. All I got to know was that the word of God is true and is His way of bringing life to the dead.

I won't give up drilling those important dates, translational issues, singular vs. plural pronominal issues, and so on into my head because they are certainly of great value.

Thank you though, for this reinforcement that the main thing is to preach Christ, and Him crucified.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this,Phil, they are magnificent specimens of the Prince of Preachers' words.

It was this exhortation to just "let the lion out" that encouraged me to stop arguing. To just get out of the way of the Gospel, and pray.

Karen Butler