COLCHESTER, June 25, 1851.
MY DEAR AUNT, —
I enclose this in Uncle’s note. Is he better? I have much enjoyed my three days in London, and am no happy at home. I am very thankful that, if spared, I am going back to Cambridge. Of my progress there I am not ashamed; it should and might have been greater, but still it is somewhat. My faults I have not learned there, I had the same at Maidstone, and I am not at all fond of having blame thrown on the place where Providence has placed me. I am all fault, but what God’s grace has made right. I am content to be evil spoken of, if I can but grow in grace and serve God. Where I have most opportunity of telling sinners the way of salvation, and of preparation for a future course of labor, I trust I shall always feel most happy. Human wisdom I desire to gain, but only in subservience, and as handmaid to spiritual knowledge and Divine instruction.
Grandfather is with us now; he preached last. night on “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” A blessed thing it must be for the new born sons of God to have such a stay in the hour of trouble; and he who having left his own righteousness, trusts alone on Jesus, has a perfect right to this promise.
Mother is gone to old Mr. Merchant’s 52st Anniversary at Layer Breton. He is almost past preaching, and stands a monument of the unchanging love of God, who, having once loved a person, will always love him. The motto over his pulpit is, “We preach Christ, and Him crucified.” I am sure you need all the comforts of the gospel now, and I wish I knew enough to be able to give them faithfully and successfully; that is reserved for future lessons of experience. None who rely on Jesus Christ will ever find their troubles too heavy; for all those who take Him as their whole Savior, He is a supporter. May God deal kindly with you, and support you!
Love to self and Uncle from all.
Your affectionate nephew,
C. H. SPURGEON.
CHAPTER 2-THE GOSPEL-WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT DOES
Paul was called by the Lord to be a foreign missionary, and is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. As he lay on the ground on the Damascus road, Christ said to him, Get up, for I am sending thee to the Gentiles: “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (#Ac 26:18). After his conversion, commission, and baptism, Paul preached Christ in the synagogues of Damascus, proving Jesus to be the very Christ to the discomfiting of the Jews. Because of a plot to kill him, the Apostle goes to Arabia for a season, returning to Damascus, and three years later going to Jerusalem. For the second time, Paul is told that he is to go far hence to the Gentiles; that the people of Jerusalem will not receive his testimony. In obedience to this call, Paul blazes a trail deeper and deeper into heathen territory. He wants to preach the gospel where Christ was not named, so that he might not build upon another man’s foundation. In this spirit of a pioneer he wants to go to Rome and then to Spain. He wants converts at Rome as well as among the Gentiles. He is not ashamed to preach the Gospel anywhere, although he knew it would be met with scorn and contempt. However, he did not expect to preach in vain, and so he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ; …”(#Ro 1:16).
To understand the audacity of these words we must listen to them with the ears of a Roman. Here was a little insignificant Jew with his head full of notions about another Jew whom the Roman governor had delivered to be crucified in order to satisfy other Jews and keep order in the province. This was what the natural Roman would think about Paul and his message. But Paul knew that he had good news which would bring salvation to every one who would believe it.
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL
We are fortunate to have a direct Scriptural statement of what the gospel is, but for the sake of clarity, and by way of amplification, we shall treat the question both negatively and positively.
1. The Bible is not the gospel. This is entirely too vague and general as a definition of the gospel. The Bible does indeed contain the gospel, but it contains other truths also. All Bible truth is not gospel truth. In the Bible there is truth about law and sin and death and judgment and numerous other things that are not the gospel. One may preach the gospel. Many think the Old Testament is the law and the New Testament is the gospel. But the truth is that both law and gospel are found in both Testaments. Some of the finest gospel texts are in the Old Testament, while some of the strongest law texts are in the New Testament. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is full of the gospel; from this chapter Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch and he was saved. Paul and others had only the Old Testament from which to preach the gospel.
The law should be preached, just as all the Bible should be preached. The law, properly preached, will reveal to men that they are sinners and slay their self-righteousness. For this purpose Christ preached the law to the rich young man: “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (#Mt 19:16), and to a certain lawyer “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (#Lu 10:25). By the law is the knowledge of sin. Paul did not know that he was a lost sinner until he saw what the law required: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died” (#Ro 7:9). The law tells man what he ought to do; the gospel tells the sinner what Christ has done. The law condemns the best man; the gospel justifies the worst man. The law makes demands; the gospel bestows blessings. The law deals in justice: the gospel deals in mercy. The law belongs to the covenant of works; the gospel belongs to the covenant of grace.
2. Baptism is not the gospel. Paul clearly differentiated between baptism and the gospel when he said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (#1Co 11:17). He reminded the Corinthians of the few he had baptized, and then to the church as a whole he said, “I have begotten you through the gospel” (#1Co 4:15).
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not saving sacraments, but preaching symbols. They do not procure salvation, but proclaim salvation through Christ. They are not saving acts, but contain a saving message in symbol or picture. Baptism does indeed wash away sin symbolically or figuratively, but the blood of Christ washes it away actually. Baptism has its place in the Christian life, but it must not become a substitute for the blood of Christ as an object of faith or trust.
3. The Church is not the gospel. Joining the church is not the same as believing the gospel. One should believe the gospel before joining the church.
4. The new birth is not the gospel. The new birth is an experience- -a work wrought in us; the gospel is the good news of something done for us. The gospel is objective light (#2Co 4:4); the new birth gives subjective light so that the gospel can be savingly understood: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (#2Co 4:6); “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (#Joh 3:3). The gospel is the story of what Christ did on the cross; the new birth is what the Holy Spirit does in us when He imparts life to us. Justification is the result of Christ’s death for us “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” (#Ro 4:24); regeneration is the effect of the Holy Spirits work in us. Justification is life imputed; regeneration is life imparted.
5. Repentance is not the gospel. Repentance is what the sinner must do to be saved; the gospel is what Christ has already done for our salvation. “Repent ye and believe the gospel.” Here repentance and the gospel are differentiated. No man is saved by faith in his repentance; he is saved by faith in the gospel.
6. Faith is not the gospel. The gospel is the object of faith. Saving faith is in the gospel. Faith does not save; it is faith in the gospel that saves. We do not have a perfect faith to be saved, but there must be a perfect gospel.
1. The gospel is good news. The acid test of a gospel message: is it good news to bad men? The gospel is for sinners; it is the revelation of the righteousness God has provided through Christ for the unrighteous: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (#Ro 1:17).
2. The gospel is good news about a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. “For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (#Ac 4:12). Men are not saved by doing this and that, or going here and there; they are saved by coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has so graciously said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (#Joh 6:37). Salvation is not a matter of geography. There is not a safe spot from the wrath of God anywhere. Salvation is not in bodily flight; it is in heart trust in Him Who is our passover, sacrificed for us.
3. The gospel consists of certain historical facts with a certain and particular theory or explanation of those facts. The facts are given us in #1Co 15:3,4: “…Christ died for our sins…; was buried, and…rose again …” Or as Paul puts it in #Ro 4:25: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
The least part of a fact is the visible part of it, and has no meaning without an explanation, and so Paul not only gives the facts but also explains them. The mere fact that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified is no more the gospel than that the two criminals were crucified beside Him. It is the explanation of the facts that makes His death the gospel rather than their deaths. His death was the death of Christ, the Son of God, and it was for our sins.
Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins. What does that mean? Some claim that it merely means that Christ died on our behalf, but not our Substitute. They insist that we should have no theory of the atonement, but with a little investigation we find that such people have a theory of the atonement. Let them tell us how Christ could die on our behalf—-how His death could save us-unless He died as our Substitute to render satisfaction to Divine justice for our sins. For His death to save us, it must cancel our guilt before the law of God, and how could it cancel our guilt unless He suffered for the guilt that was ours? He suffered, the Just for the Unjust, and how could this be unless He suffered in our room and stead? Christ dying as a martyr for a good cause, or as a mere example of faithfulness unto death, or as a gesture of love to conquer the human heart, would in no sense redeem sinners from the curse of the law. Divine justice calls for Divine punishment, and the only way the sinner can escape judgment is for Christ to bear the punishment due the sinner. Those who deny blood atonement worship a god different to that of the Bible, and practice a religion different to that of the Bible.
WHAT THE GOSPEL DOES
In a word, it saves all who trust it. And the gospel to be trusted is what Christ, the Son of God, did in laying down His life for our sins and taking it up again for our justification. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (#Ro 1:16) is usually made to mean that the preaching of the gospel has power to convert sinners, that is, to make believers. But this is not what the verse says. It is the power of God to or for believers. It presupposes a believer. The gospel saves believers, but it has no power to make believers. The preaching of the gospel is the means of making believers, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We repeat, that the preaching of the gospel is the necessary means to faith, for “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” If sinners are saved, the gospel must be preached to them as the means to faith and resultant salvation. However, there is a difference between means to faith and the power for faith. The power to make believers is in the effectual call of the Holy Spirit. Paul preached Christ crucified indiscriminately to the Jew and Greek. To the natural Jew such a gospel was a stumbling block, and to the natural Greek it was foolishness; but the called, both Jews and Greeks, saw the wisdom and power of God in the plan of salvation through a crucified Christ.
The apostle is not writing about the power of his preaching, but of the power of what he preached. What he preached, Christ crucified, had power to cancel the sin-debt. We sing “There is power in the blood,” by which we mean that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin. That which is shameful and foolish to the masses is the very thing God uses to save sinners. What Christ did in death and resurrection has power to cancel the sin-debt. The gospel was provided by God; it was not a human expedient. God put His Son to death; He laid on Christ our iniquity. We are not saved because men killed Jesus: that was murder. We are saved because He was striken, smitten of God, and afflicted. God sacrificed His own Son for our safety. Amazing and sensational?— yes! But we must remember that sin is terrible in its nature and effects, and nothing but a sensational remedy will avail.
Here is a man who has committed murder for which the penalty is death by hanging. The murderer was acting as the tool of another man who, himself, was under sentence of death, with no provision for pardon. But the law allows a substitute for the murderer. The substitute is found and is hanged in the murderer’s place out of love for the doomed man. Now the death of the substitute cancels the guilt of the murderer and sets him free. It is the power of the court and also power with the court. The court is satisfied with the death of the substitute and the guilty man goes free. It is the power of the court and also power with the court that is satisfied with the death of the substitute and the guilty man goes free. To interpret this parable: man became a sinner against God as a dupe of the devil, who was already a sinner under sentence with no provision for pardon. The Divine law allowed a substitute for the human sinner. The Son of God gladly gave Himself as the sinner’s substitute, suffering, the Just for the unjust, that the sinner might not perish in his sins.
BENEFICIARIES OF THE GOSPEL
Paul says, “To every one that believeth.” The death of Christ does nobody any good who scorns it and refuses to trust it. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (#Joh 3:36).
A fuller discussion of saving faith must be reserved for a later article the Lord enabling. However, there is space for a few words here and now. There is so much that passes for faith, that we must be on our guard lest we mistake what saving faith is. Saving faith is something more than the mere assent of the mind to a proposition, however true; it is heart trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Saving faith is not being satisfied with self; it is being satisfied with what Christ did on the cross for our salvation. One who is once satisfied with Christ will never be satisfied with anything else.
The value of faith depends upon the worth of its object. If I trust an object or a person that cannot or is not willing to save me, then my faith has no value—-it is vain faith, however strong. Faith itself may be dangerous, as well as saving. It is safe to trust the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is both willing and able to save. He is able to save because He is alive. No dead person can be a real Saviour, and must not be an object of faith. It is the office of a priest to make sinners right with God. Old Testament Priests could not make sinners right with God because of two things; they could not continue as priests, and they did not have saving sacrifices to offer—-the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin. But Christ continues forever, and hath an unchangeable priesthood: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (#Heb 7:25). Here is ground for saving faith, and a challenge to strong faith. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
“HALLELUJAH! Jesus saves me;
Oh, the sweet and precious story!
I will give Him all the Glory,
And adore His love to me.
“HALLELUJAH! Jesus hears me;
When in prayer His throne addressing,
While in faith I seek His blessing,
Then His smile revealed I see.
“HALLELUJAH! Jesus leads me;
I will doubt His promise never,
But believing, followed ever
Him who gave His life for me.
“HALLELUJAH! Jesus keeps me;
In the Rock He safely hides me,
Every comfort He provides me,
Never friend so dear as He.”
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2
CAMBRIDGE, June 3, 1851.
MY DEAR AUNT, —
I have just received a note from dear father with your address, and feeling some little sorrow for past negligence, I have not put off writing to you.
I make my old complaint again — I have nothing to write about …. I hope to see the Exhibition with father and mother. I say, it will be quite a treat to see them there. We have our Missionary meeting next Sabbath. Last Sunday we had old Mr. Jay of Bath; a real wonder he is. The place was crammed everywhere. He is eighty three or eighty four, I think.
I do not know anything of my future steps. I have nothing to do with it; I have no wish but to remain here, but am perfectly contented to do as friends think best. I trust I have endeavored to improve my mind — others will best judge with what success. If I can earn my own living and manage to progress, all my wishes are attained. I have pursued Divinity with some ardor, and only wish that I could learn more of its wondrous mysteries, and feel more deeply the effects of its doctrines. In this course I find fresh and ever increasing delight. May I never go astray or leave the path the Bible prescribes.
It is a mercy Uncle is so well. You have had a rough year; you have been tried severely. No doubt you will derive benefit from it. Accept my best love and thanks, for whenever I write I must thank you for past kindnesses, but thanks are no returns.
Your affectionate nephew,
C. H. SPURGEON.
PART 2-THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION
CHAPTER 1-THE NATURE OF SALVATION
Salvation—the most important word ever uttered, and yet how meaningless to the masses whose minds are set on things on the earth!
Salvation-the greatest blessing that can possibly come to a human soul, and without which it would be better never to have been born, and yet the most neglected thing in the world!
Salvation-the blessed gift of God—without money and without price—paid for by His blessed Son, and yet that which conceited men think they can earn with their own puny hands!
Salvation presupposes the fact of sin. And sin involves a Supreme Being Whom we call God. If there is no God, there can be no sin, and if there is no sin, there can be no sinners, and if there are no sinners to be saved, there can be no salvation. Salvation means deliverance, and Bible salvation is deliverance from sin.
Sin consists of a guilty standing and a depraved state before God. Salvation is deliverance from both guilt and defilement. Salvation is to be made safe and sound in relation to the thrice-holy God. Man, as a sinner, is in danger from the wrath of a holy and just God, and is also outside the pale of Divine fellowship. Salvation is deliverance from the eternal consequences of rebellion against the government of Almighty God. Without salvation the sinner is forever excluded from the glorious presence of God and forever exposed to the terrible wrath of God.
THE NEED OF SALVATION
In the light of eternity salvation is the only need. In comparison all other needs fade into insignificance. All other needs are temporal; salvation is for eternity. All other blessings are for a season; salvation is an everlasting blessing. It is called everlasting life. The opposite of everlasting life is everlasting punishment in the lake of fire, called the second death.
Salvation covers every eternal need. It covers the housing problem, for in the Father’s house are many mansions. It covers the food problem, for Christ is the bread of life of which one may eat and never hunger. It covers the employment problem, for the saved will serve God day and night in His temple. It covers the social problem, for the saved of all the earth will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God—all language and cultural barriers will vanish. It covers the health problem, for in the new heavens and the new earth there will be no more pain, for the former things are passed away. Moreover, God Himself shall dwell with His people, and will wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Salvation is a universal need, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Every normal person has a guilt complex. A New York preacher once announced as his subject, “How to Get Rid of Guilty Feelings.” He told the audience he would pause while all who were free of guilty feelings might leave the building. To his surprise nobody left. He said he would not have been surprised if it had been a small town congregation where everybody would be known to each other, but in New York where all were more or less strangers to one another, he had not expected all of them to acknowledge they were sinners. But that New York congregation were true to their feelings in this matter-every one of them had a guilt complex. This, in itself, is proof of the existence of God. Conscience testifies loudly to the fact that there is a God with whom we have to do.
The story of religion is made up of the efforts men make to get rid of guilty feeling. This is the explanation of what is called “conscience money;” the thief is trying to get rid of his guilty feelings by returning what he had stolen. This is why the Romanist goes to confessional; he is wanting to get something off his conscience. This is the explanation of Communism; the Communist rids himself of a guilty feeling, if and when he can persuade himself to believe there is no God to Whom he must give an account. The very fact that the atheist raves against the idea of God indicates that his own conscience gives him trouble on the question. This accounts for all heathen religions; people are striving to get rid of guilty feelings. It explains the faith of God’s elect; they are trusting Christ for acceptance with God and freedom from condemnation.
Human nature is bad. The Bible does not have one good thing to say about man apart from the inwrought grace of God. The Bible says “the carnal mind is enmity against God; … and that they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (#Ro 8:7,8). Man, as a sinner, is beyond repairs; he must be born again—-there must be a new creation. Donald F. Ackland puts this truth in another way, when he says that sin has created a God-shaped vacuum in the human heart, and that the story of religion is the way men try to fill that vacuum.
We do not find human nature fully developed in countries where gospel privileges have been enjoyed over a long period of time. Christ said that His people would be the salt of the earth. Salt is a preservative, and saved people will preserve human society from utter moral corruption. Many are blessed temporarily by the gospel who are not eternally saved by it. Humanity as such is safer in a community where there are Christian people.
When Carey went to India about 165 years ago, he found human nature in the rough, human nature fully developed. Andrew Fuller tells us what Carey found in India. He found religions by which the natives were trying to get rid of guilty feelings. These religions consisted in a large part in self torment. One would hold his hand above his head until it would be so stiff he could not take it down. Another would lie on iron spikes just blunt enough not to pierce him to death. They had what was called the worship of the Juggernaut. A massive wooden god was carried on a huge carriage drawn by many men howling and shrieking, and anyone who would throw himself under its wheels to be crushed to death was counted happy. Another part of their religion was the burning of widows on the funeral pyre of their dead husbands. It was common to throw new—born infants into the river as offerings to the gods. And the baby that would not take its mother’s milk would be placed in a basket and hung in the branches of a tree to be devoured by ants and birds of prey. And that was human nature—-the same nature possessed by both writer and reader. God be praised for the grace that made us new creatures in Christ.
PREREQUISITES TO SALVATION
There must be a just basis for salvation, else God would cease to be just in forgiving sin. There can be no salvation at the expense of justice. And justice cannot be dispensed apart from the punishment of sin. There is no miscarriage of justice in heaven’s court, for every sin shall receive a just recompense of reward. Divine justice must be vindicated and the law of God must be upheld in the case of every sinner. In the death of Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son, there is a just basis for salvation. Christ died the Just for the unjust. He redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us. He was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God through faith in Him. Christ put away the guilt of sin by the sacrifice of Himself. God forgives the sinner for the sake of Christ. As our Surety He paid the sin-debt to the last farthing. As our Substitute He took our place under the law and died the very kind of death which denoted that He was accursed of God (Cf. #Ge 33:13 21:23). Terrible price to pay for our salvation, but it was what the law of God demanded and the only way in which God could be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus: “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (#Ro 3:26). “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (#Heb 2:10). Christ could not be a perfect Saviour apart from suffering the just demands of the law for His people.
VARIOUS ASPECTS OF SALVATION
We have seen in previous articles that sin has wrought awful havoc with the human race. It has ruined every man and every part of man. The consequences of sin are manifold, and there is an aspect of salvation for every aspect of sin. And there is a Bible word by which each of the several parts or aspects of salvation is described. If the sinner be viewed as in a state of death, then regeneration or the new birth is the Bible word to denote the impartation of life. If the sinner is considered as a child of the devil, then adoption is the term which expresses the judicial act of God by which he is made a son of God. If we think of the sinner from the standpoint of his body, being mortal and having in it the germs of death by which it will be turned into a dust-heap, then glorification is that aspect of salvation in which the body will be fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ. If the lost person be regarded as in a state of depravity or moral defilement, sanctification is the work making him holy and pure before God. If we think of the sinner as in a state of spiritual darkness unable to understand the gospel, then calling is the Bible term to express the act of God giving light by which the sinner can see or understand that Christ crucified is the wisdom and power of God in the plan of salvation. If the sinner be thought of as in a position of condemnation— cursed by God’s law he has violated—-then justification speaks of his perfect standing before the throne of God. If salvation be approached from the standpoint of the eternal purpose of God, according to which He graciously saves sinners, then election and predestination are the Bible terms which denote the choice and destiny of God’s people.
THE THREE TENSES OF SALVATION
Some aspects of salvation are instantaneous, while others are progressive. The deliverance from the guilt of sin is at the very instant of faith; the deliverance from the defilement of sin is a long process, in which the believer experiences pain as well as pleasure. While mourning over indwelling sin, he rejoices in-hope—the well founded expectation—-of the glory of God. The believer rejoices in Christ, has no confidence in the flesh, and painfully longs to be perfectly whole. Being poor in spirit, conscious of his lack of personal worthiness he expects God to perfect that which concerneth him. He believes that God who began the good work of grace in him will perform it until the day of Christ. The believer is perfectly justified—-no charge can be laid to his account—-but he is not yet glorified, and will not be until Christ comes and he awakes in His likeness. It is positively beyond comprehension what God has prepared for them that love Him. And may we not forget that we love Him because He first loved us, and loosed us from our sins in His own blood.
SALVATION BY GRACE
Salvation is by grace, which means that it is undeserved, and also that there is no divine obligation to save any sinner. Salvation by grace means that it is not of debt or reward, but is the free gift of God. God might have left every one of us to his fate, to perish in his sins. It was love in God and not loveableness in the sinner that accounts for salvation. “God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (#Ro 5:8). Salvation is, therefore, the gracious and sovereign work of God. All our graces are children of His grace and the fruit of His Spirit “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (#Ga 5:22,23). From foreknowledge in eternity past to glorification in eternity future, salvation is all of grace, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (#Ro 8:29). God thinks so much of His only begotten Son that He has determined to make all His sons just like Him. And there is no human merit or human strength at any stage or in any aspect of salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (#Eph 2:8-9).
“Lord, I was blind: I could not see
In Thy marred visage any grace;
But now the beauty of Thy face
In radiant vision dawns on me.
“Lord, I was dead: I could not stir
My lifeless soul to come to Thee;
But now, since thou has quickened me,
I rise from sin’s dark sepulche.
“Lord, Thou hast made the blind to see,
The deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
The dead to live; and lo, I break
The chains of my captivity.”
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2
The first part of this letter to his Aunt (Mrs. Walker) is missing.
The body of Christians, of which for some little while I have been a member, is not distinguished for high standing in the world. I trust I shall never be rich, lest I should by force of additional temptation ever bring dishonor upon the name of Him with whom I have entered into solemn league and covenant. Would that, as I have been buried with Him in baptism, I might have the inward spiritual grace, and be dead to the world, but alive unto the service of the Lord!
There has been much stir here about the late Popish Aggression,—-the clergy seem to be very anxious about it …. I hope Uncle will not write to me until he is well. He is so very kind; but he may tire himself. Tell him I am now studying Paine’s Elements of Mental Science and Porter’s Lectures on Homiletics. I cannot in Greek get further than the Testament. We have only thirteen boys.
Accept my best love and thanks to yourself and Uncle, and permit me ever to subscribe myself,
Your most affectionate nephew,
C. H. SPURGEON.
MY DEAR UNCLE,—
Dumb men make no mischief. Your silence, and my neglect, make one think of the days when letters were costly, and not of penny postage. You have doubtless heard of me as a top-tree Antinomian. I trust you know enough of me to disbelieve it. It is one object of my life to disprove the slander. I groan daily under a body of sin and corruption. Oh, for the time when I shall drop this flesh, and be free from sin! I become more and more convinced that, to attempt to be saved by a mixed covenant of works and faith is, in the words of Berridge, “To yoke a snail with an elephant.” I desire to press forward for direction to my Master in all things; but as to trusting to my own obedience and righteousness, I should be worse than a fool, and ten times worse than a madman. Poor dependent creatures, prayer had need be our constant employment, the foot of the throne our continued dwelling-place; for the Rock of Ages is our only safe Hiding place. I rejoice in an assured knowledge by faith of my interest in Christ, and of the certainty of my eternal salvation. Yet what strivings, what conflicts, what dangers, what enemies stand in my way The foes in my heart are so strong, that they would have killed me, and sent me to hell long ere this, had the Lord left me; but, blessed be His name, His electing, redeeming, and saving love has got fast hold of me; and who is able to pluck me out of my Father’s hand? On my bended knees, I have often to cry for succor; and, bless His name, He has hitherto heard my cry. Oil, if I did not know that all the Lord’s people had soul-contention, I should give up all for lost! I rejoice that the promises left on record are meant for me, as well as for every saint of His, and as such I desire to grasp them. Let the whole earth and even God’s professing people, cast out my name as evil; my Lord and Master, He will not. I glory in the distinguishing grace of God, and will not, by the grace of God, step one inch rom my principles, or think of adhering to the present fashionable sort of religion.
Oh, could I become like the holy men of past ages,—-fearless of men,—-holding sweet communion with God,—-weaned more from the world, and enabled to fix my thoughts on spiritual things entirely! But when I would serve God, I find my old deceitful heart full of the very essence of hell, rising up into my mouth, polluting all I say and all I do. What should I do if, like you, I were called to be engaged about things of time and sense? I fear I should be neither diligent in business, nor fervent in spirit. “But,” (say you,) “he keeps talking all about himself.” True, he does; he cannot help it. Self is too much his master. I am proud of my own ignorance; and, like a toad, bloated with my own venomous pride, — —-proud of what I have not got, and boasting when I should be bemoaning. I trust you have greater freedom from your own corruptions than I have; and in secret, social, and family prayer enjoy more blessed, sanctified liberty at the footstool of mercy.
Rejoice! for Heaven awaits us, and all the Lord’s family! The mansion is ready; the crown is made; the harp is strung; there are no willows there. May we be enabled to go on, brave as lions, and valiant for the truth and cause of King .Jesus, and by the help of the Spirit, vow eternal warfare with every sin, and rest not until the sword of the Spirit has destroyed all the enemies in our hearts! May we be enabled to trust the Lord, for He will help us; we must conquer; we cannot be lost. Lost? Impossible! For who is able to snatch us out of our Father’s hand?
May the Lord bless you exceedingly!
Your affectionate nephew,
C. H. SPURGEON.
Mr. Spurgeon wrote two letters to his father, recounting his first experiences in London. A considerable portion of the earlier one is missing, including the first sheet, and also the end of the epistle. Evidently, the young preacher had been relating what the deacons had told him concerning the falling-off in the congregations, for the part of his letter that has been preserved begins as follows:—- —
…me that the people would be back at the first blast of the trumpet which gives a certain sound…. The people are Calvinistic, and they could not get on with anything else. They raised £100 last week for a city missionary, so that they have the sinews of war. The deacons told me that, if I were there three Sundays, there would be no room anywhere. They say that all the London popular ministers are gospel men, and are plain, simple and original. They have had most of the good preachers of our denomination out of the country; but they have never asked one of them twice, for they gave them such philosophical, or dry, learned sermons, that once was enough. I am the only one who has been asked twice, the only one who has been heard with pleasure by all. I told them they did not know what they were doing, nor whether they were in the body or out of the body; they were so starved, that a morsel of gospel was a treat to them. The portraits of Gill and Rippon—-large as life—-hang in the vestry. Lots of them said I was Ripport over again.
It is God’s doing. I do not deserve it;—-they are mistaken. I only mention facts. I have not exaggerated; nor am I very exalted by it, for to leave my own dear people makes it a painful pleasure. God wills it.
The only thing Which pleases me is, as you will guess, that I am right about College. I told the deacons that I was not a College man, and they said, “That is to us a special recommendation, for you would not have much savor or unction if you came from College.”
As to a school, or writing to my deacons in case I do not go, I shall feel happiest if left to manage alone, for I am sure that any letter to my deacons would not do any good. A church is free to manage its own affairs. We are in loving unity now, and they will improve. But churches of the Baptist denomination would think it an infringement of their rules and liberties to be touched in the least by persons of other denominations in any matter which is their own concern. I should at once say, and you would not mind my saying so, “I had nothing to do with the note; I never asked my father to write it; and the deacons must do as they please about laying it before the church.”
I feel pleasure in the thought that it will not now be necessary, and I feel that, if it had been, I should have been equally contented. Many other ministers have schools; it is a usual thing. It is not right to say, “If you mean to be a minister;” for I am one, and have been for two years as much a minister as any man in England; and probably very much more so, since in that time I have preached more than 600 times. More soon