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).
In almost every case in Scripture where you read of a household baptism, you are distinctly informed that they were also a believing household. In the case of Lydia it may not be so; but then there are remarkable circumstances about her case which render that information needless. In this instance they were all believers, and, therefore, they were all of them baptized. First, “HE” was baptised,—the jailor; he was ready first to submit himself to the ordinance in which he declared himself to be dead to the world, and risen anew in Christ Jesus. Then “all his” followed. What a glorious baptism, amidst the glare of the torches that night! perhaps in the prison hath, or in the impluvium which was usually in the center of most oriental houses, or perhaps the stream that watered Philippi ran by the prison wall, and was used for the occasion. It matters not, but into the water they descended, one after another, mother, children, servants; and Paul and Silas stood there delighted to aid them in declaring themselves to be on the Lord’s side, “buried with him in baptism.”
While many young pastors long for an influential ministry in the population centers to increase their platform and reach more people, Spurgeon believes they should embrace rural ministries. From his upbringing to his first ministry post, Spurgeon would look back with much affection to the time he spent in these rural areas—areas that those in the cities would ignore or outright forget. Spurgeon’s ministry was laced was references to his rural upbringing.
“Prayer in the church is the steam engine which makes the wheels revolve, and really does the work, and therefore we cannot do without it. Suppose a foreman were employed by some great builder, and sent out to manage works at a distance. He has to pay the men their wages weekly, and he is very diligent in doing so; he neglects none of his duty towards the men, but he forgets to communicate with head-quarters, he neither writes to his employer, nor goes to the bank for cash to go on with. Is this wise? When the next pay-night comes round, I am afraid he will find that, however diligent he may have been towards the men, he will be in a queer position, for he will have no silver or gold to hand out, because he has forgotten to apply to head-quarters. Now, brethren, the minister does, as it were, distribute the portions to the people, but if he does not apply to his Master to get them he will have nothing to distribute. Never sunder the connection between your soul and God. Keep up a constant communication with heaven, or your communications with earth will be of little worth. To cease from prayer is to stop the vital stream upon which all your energy is dependent; you may go on preaching and teaching, and giving away tracts, and what you like, but nothing can possibly come of it when the power of Almighty God has ceased to be with you.”
–Spurgeon, “A Special Prayer-Meeting,” MTP 21:1274 (1875)
Young men, if you are diligent in tract distribution and diligent in Sunday school, you are likely men who could be ministers. But if you stop and do nothing until you can do everything, you will remain useless – an impediment to the church instead of a help.
Dear sisters in Jesus Christ, you must never think that you can do nothing at all. God could never make such a mistake. You have talent entrusted to you – something given to you to enable you to do what no one else can do. Find out what it is and settle into it. Ask God to tell you what your niche is and stand in it, doing your work until Jesus Christ comes and gives you your reward. Use what ability you have, and use it at once.
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 a New Year’s Day,” MTP 31:1816 (1885).
The spiritual meaning of all this is, that from under the power of sin, of Satan, and of the world God will certainly call his own redeemed. They shall not abide in the land of Egypt; sin shall not be pleasant to them; they shall not continue under Satan’s power, but they shall break his yoke from off their neck. The Lord will help them, and strengthen them, so that they shall clean escape from their former slavery. With a high hand and an outstretched arm brought he up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and with that same high hand and outstretched arm will he save his own elect, whom he has loved from before the foundations of the world, and whom he has purchased with his most precious blood.
Charles H. Spurgeon, “Out of Egypt,” MTP 28:1675 (1882).