Spurgeon Short for January 24, 2022: A Prayerless Soul is a Christless Soul
A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the chatter of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, and the whispering of the dying saint falling asleep in Christ. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, and the honor of a Christian. If you are a child of God, you will seek your Father’s face and live in your Father’s love.
Pray that this year you will be holy, humble, zealous, and patient. Pray that you will have closer communion with Christ and enter more often into the banquet hall of His love (Song of Solomon 2:4). Pray that you will be an example and a blessing to others, and that you will live more to the glory of your Master.
The motto for this year must be: Devote yourselves to prayer.
It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God who he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in the contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise.’ But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’ No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God…. “But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind then the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…. The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and of Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. “And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Immutability of God,” NPSP 1:1 (1855)
On this day in 1850, Charles Spurgeon became a follower of Jesus. I choose to think about this alongside the day of Epiphany–this helps overshadow that dark day known as Insurrection Day that happened in my beloved United States one year ago.
God’s ways are mysterious but they are always wonderful (that is, full of wonder). Look at the means of how God saved Spurgeon.
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, when I was going to a place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a court and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there might be a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning: snowed up, I suppose.
Autobiography, Vol. 1 (Banner of Truth), 87.
God used a substitute Methodist lay preacher
At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailer, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was–
“Look to me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” [Isaiah 45:22 KJV].
He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text.
The preacher began thus: “My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” and he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by, Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, “We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.'”
Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Lool unto Me; I’m sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I’m hangin on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to heaven. Look unto me; I am sittin at their father’s right hand. Old poor sinner, look under me ! Look into Me!”
Autobiography, pp. 87-88.
The work of the Holy Spirit. The lay preacher caught Spurgeon’s eye and, from the pulpit, addressed Spurgeon personally. “Young man, you look very miserable, and you always will be miserable–miserable in life, miserable in death–if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey this moment, you will be saved. Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.”
Spurgeon responded, “I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said–I did not take much notice of it–I was so possessed with that one thought.”
Never underestimate the means by which God saves and sanctifies us and our neighbor. Have you looked? Look to Jesus Christ! It is then you will exclaim:
We ought not, as men in Christ Jesus, to be carried away by a childish love of novelty, for we worship a God who is ever the same, and of whose years there is no end. In some matters “the old is better.” There are certain things which are already so truly new, that to change them for anything else would be to lose old gold for new dross. The old, old gospel is the newest thing in the world; in its very essence it is for ever good news. In the things of God the old is ever new, and if any man brings forward that which seems to be new doctrine and new truth, it is soon perceived that the new dogma is only worn-out heresy dexterously repaired, and the discovery in theology is the digging up of a carcase of error which had better have been left to rot in oblivion. In the great matter of truth and godliness, we may safely say, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
–Spurgeon, “Sermon for New Year’s-Day,” MTP 31:1816 (1885)
“On a cold winter’s day when the snow has fallen and lies deep upon the ground you go through a village. There is a row of cottages, and you will notice that from one of the roofs the snow has nearly disappeared, while another cottage still bears a coating of snow. You do not stay to make enquiries as to the reason of the difference, for you know very well what is the cause. There is a fire burning inside the one cottage and the warmth glows through its roof, and so the snow speedily melts: in the other there is no tenant; it is a house to let, no fire bums on its hearth and no warm smoke ascends the chimney, and therefore there lies the snow. Just as the warmth is within so the melting will be without. I look at a number of churches, and where I see worldliness and formalism lying thick upon them, I am absolutely certain that there is not the warmth of Christian life within; but where the hearts of believers are warm with divine love through the Spirit of God, we are sure to see evils vanish, and beneficial consequences following therefrom. We need not look within; in such a case the exterior is index sufficient.”
Spurgeon, “Our Urgent Need of the Holy Spirit,” MTP 23:1332 (1877).
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) loved Christmas. Hear the glee from the 21-year-old Spurgeon:
I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas-days in the year; for there is work enough in the world, and a little more rest would not hurt labouring people. Christmas-day is really a boon to us; particularly as it enables us to assemble round the family hearth and meet our friends once more. Still, although we do not fall exactly in the track of other people, I see no harm in thinking of the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus.
While he loved Christmas, he also guided his congregation to discern certain aspects of Christmas from the cultural perspective and the biblical perspective. While other valuable articles are certainly found elsewhere on this site, this article focuses on how Spurgeon guided his congregation in celebrating Christmas, rejecting the “superstitions” of the Roman celebrations, embracing much of the customs of the day without forgetting about the Christ-child, the reason for the day.
“Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, 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 kindl 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.”
“The wind blew down the river with a cutting blast, as my turn came to wade into the flood, but after I had walked a few steps, and noted the people on the ferryboats, and in the boats, and on either shore, I felt as if Heaven and Earth and Hell might all gaze upon me, for I was not ashamed, then and there, to own myself a follower of the Lamb. My timidity was washed away; as if floated down the river into the sea, and must have been devoured by the fishes, for I have never felt anything of the kind since. Baptism also loosed my tongue, and from that day it has never been quiet. I lost a thousand fears in that River Lark, and found that ‘in keeping his commandments there is great reward.'”
Spurgeon, Autobiography 1:149, 150; quoted in Tom Nettles, “The Child is the Father of the Man,” p. 58.
God has made great use of women, and greatly honoured them in the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Holy women ministered to our Lord when he was upon the earth, and since that time much sacred work has been done by their patient hands. Man and woman fell together; together they must rise. After the resurrection, it was a woman who was first commissioned to carry the glad tidings of the risen Christ; and in Europe, where woman was in future days to be set free from many of the trammels of the East, it seems fitting that a woman should be the first believer.
Spurgeon, “Lydia, the First European Convert,” MTP 37:2222 (1891).