Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” Part 12-13

Today, I have some quotes from chapters 12 and 13- “The Minister’s Ordinary Conversation” and “To Workers with Slender Apparatus” respectively.  As always, my personal comments will be in italics.

Chapter 12- The Minister’s Ordinary Conversation

“Let not the ambassador of heaven be other than a son of man.  In fact, let him remember that the more simple and unaffected (genuine, without pretense) he is, the more closely he will resemble that child-man, the holy child Jesus.”

Regarding reaching the average man-“I am persuaded that one reason why our working-men so universally keep clear of ministers is because they abhor their artificial and unmanly ways.  If they saw us, in the pulpit and out of it, acting like real men, and speaking naturally, like honest men, they would come around us.”

“Still, a minister, wherever he is, is a minister, and should recollect that he is on duty.”

“Some ministers need to be told that they are of the same species as their hearers.”

On friendly demeanor- “No one knows what a smile and a hearty sentence may do.  A man who is to do much with men must love them, and feel at home with them.  An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living.”

“A man must have a great heart if he would have a great congregation…When a man has a large, loving heart, men go to him as ships to a haven, and feel at peace when they have anchored under the lee of his friendship.”

On arguments-“The sensible minister will be particularly gentle in argument.  He, above all men, should not make the mistake of fancying that there is force in temper, and power in speaking angrily.”

“But if you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words.”

Chapter 13- To Workers with Slender Apparatus

This chapter is for those who cannot afford a large library for various reasons, and it is a gold mine for quotes!

“If a man can purchase but very few books, my first advice to him would be, let him purchase the very best.”

“Forgo, then, without regret, the many books which, like poor Hodge’s razors, of famous memory, “are made to sell,” and do sell those who buy them, as well as themselves.”  Imagine his chagrin if he were to peruse a Christian bookstore today.

Regarding Matthew Henry’s Commentary- “Get it, if you sell your coat to buy it.”

“Master those books you have.  Read them thoroughly…Peruse a good book several times, and make notes and analysis of it.  A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them, as the classic proverb puts it “As the dogs drink of Nilus.”  Little learning and much pride come of hasty reading.”

“Books on the brain cause disease.  Get the book into the brain, and you will grow.”

“…a very well-deserved rebuke to those who think that possession of books will secure them learning.  A measure of that temptation happens to us all; for do we not feel wiser after we have spent an hour r two in a bookseller’s shop?  A man might as well think himself richer for having inspected the vaults of the bank of England.  In reading, let your motto be, “Much, not many.”  Think as well as read, and keep the thinking always proportionate to the reading, and your small library will not be a great misfortune.”

Great quote for book-lovers: “There is very much sound sense in the remark of a writer in the Quarterly Review many years back.  “Give us the one dear book, cheaply picked from the stall by the price of the dinner, thumbed and dog-eared, cracked in the back and broken in the corner, noted on the fly-leaf and scrawled on the margin, sullied and scorched, torn and worn, smoothed in the pocket and grimed on the hearth, damped by the grass and dusted among the cinders, over which you have dreamed in the grove and dozed before the embers, but read again, and again, and again, cover to cover.  It is by this one book, and its three of four single successors, that more real cultivation has been imparted than by all the myriads which bear down the mile-long, bulging, bending shelves of the Bodleian.”

“I would earnestly impress upon you the truth, that a man who is short of apparatus can make up for it by much thought.”

“Nowadays we are pestered with a set of fellows who must needs stand on their heads and think with their feet.  Romancing is their notion of meditation.  Instead of considering revealed truth, they excogitate a mess of their own, in which error, and nonsense, and conceit appear in about equal parts; and they call this broth “modern thought.””

“If you have no books to try your eyes, keep them open wherever you go, and you will find something worth looking at.

“A man’s own experience should be to him the laboratory in which he tests the medicines which he prescribes for others.  Even your own faults and failures will instruct you if you bring them to the Lord.”

“‘Not a novice,’ says the apostle; and it is possible to be a novice and yet a very accomplished scholar, a classic, a mathematician, and a theoretical theologian.  We should have practical familiarity with men’s souls; and if we have much of it, the fewness of our books will be a light affliction.”

“I have heard of a gentleman of whom it was said that you could never spend five minutes under an archway with him but what he would teach you something.  That was a wise man; but he would be a wiser man still who would never stop five minutes under an archway without learning somewhat from other people.”

Learning from the lost: “As for the inquirer, how much is to be gathered from him!  I have seen very much of my own stupidity while in conversation with seeking souls.”

The “Blank” Greek NT Series…

I have really enjoyed reading my new 3-volume Nestle-Aland 27 and writing notes and thoughts the past few days.  (I’ve been working through Matthew’s Gospel, now in chapter 13.)


Here’s all the posts describing my exciting (and terrifying) journey…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The “Blank” Greek New Testament- Part 3

(If you just joined us, check out part 1 and part 2 first!)

So here I was with three stacks awaiting spiral binding.  I did a final run-through to make sure the pages were aligned as well as possible on the binding side.  I also printed a front and back cover page for each volume and cut them to match the page size.  (You’ll see the cover on the finished pictures below!)  The front basically has the NA27 title info, plus the books included in the volume.  The back has my name, address, and contact information in case poor Smeagol should ever lose his Precioussss…  These I had Office Depot laminated in lieu of the covers they provide with spiral binding.  The laminated covers should offer some protection for the interior pages, and they’re shiny!

I took them into Office Depot, order the spiral-punching and binding, and then went home to worry the rest of the night.  One potential problem vexed me some.  In this initial binding cut, there was evidently a slight curvature to the pages, and as I collated, I could tell some unevenness on the binding edge of each page.  Which meant that potentially, the pages with less room between the text and binding edge could find holes going through the words of the text!  Not good!  I felt confident there was room enough, if they hole-punched straight, by the hourly employee of the local office supply store.  Goo!

Well, I returned the next day, and my books were safe and alive! (The spiral work is about 2-6 dollars, depending on who rings it up!)

Here they were…


You can see the three volumes, each one weighing in about the size of the original NA27 by itself.

IMG_0092The spiral binding is very secure.  I know some people worry about hole-punching and binding because of experience with 3-ring notebooks and the constant tearing of pages with normal use.  But in spiral-binding each hole (30 of them on these babies) supports each other and so you have much more strength.  They feel very sturdy!

What about the inside?  Were my fears confirmed or relieved?


As you can see hear to the left, the original binding cut was a little slanted.  But no words of the actual text were wiped out! You can also see the glorious blank page to the right for note-taking!

Here is another picture of a much tighter page!  IMG_0096Here the holes go right up to the words, touching a letter or two, but not obscuring them.  (Whew! Sigh of relief) So if you want to copy this project, figure out a way to cut the binding off straighter for more consistent pages!

I was a little worried that the difference in thickness between the NT pages and blank ones would be problematic.  NA27 pages are extremely thin.  But with the spiral binding, it flips pretty well, and the blank pages actually seem to support and protect the thinner ones somewhat.

So I had done it!  I started a project, and with no leftover pieces.  Maybe this was the beginning of something new, the dawn of a new era in successful projects for me.


If you recall from part 2, I originally planned on having Matthew-John in one volume, but when I had to go to 3, I moved John from the first stack to go before Acts in volume 2.  And apparently in all that switching and flipping, I put John on top backwards!

IMG_0094 You can see the outer edge on the inside by the spirals.  Essentially, John flipped from right-to-left.  If only this was Hebrew, not Greek!  Volume 2 went John 21-John 1, then Acts 1-2 Corinthians.

It turned out to be a pretty simple fix, though.  De-binding the spirals is pretty easy (You cut off the bent-end and basically uncoil it through the holes).  I then took John out, separated the NT pages from the blank (since I don’t have to recut those), and took the John pages into Office Depot to have the spiral holes punched on the opposite side.  I also went ahead and had them trim the holes off the other side.  This was partly just for aesthetic reasons, but also the holes on the outside edge could catch something and start a tear in a page.  After that, I re-collated John with the blank pages again, and then ran the coil through it.  To finish it, I twisted the end of the spiral coil to lock it off.

So I was finished.  A little snafu.  But success.  I wrote on the last page of volume 3 something like this.

“Blank New Testament completed September 22, 2009.   I hope that it will be filled before 2020!”

The “Blank” Greek New Testament- Part 2

(If you missed Part 1)

So my brand new Nestle-Aland27 arrived in the mail.  There’s nothing like the feel and smell of a new book.

So the next step was going to be the hardest of the entire project.  Cutting the binding off and launching do-or-die into this project.

Now, for those who don’t me, I’m the guy who fixes things and somehow ends up with leftover pieces, almost without fail.  Apparently, those hours of my childhood dedicated to Legos have absolutely failed me in later life.  So I could easily imagine this project ending with a pile of pages on the floor and me sobbing into them.

So I sat there at my desk staring at the new book.  Do I?  I did.  I took a pair of scissors and detached the cover.  I did lose two maps in this step, as the NA27 has a map inside each cover.  O well.  It’s not like I’m going to drive through 1st Century Palestine and need to compute mileage from Bethpage to Capernaum.

IMG_0088 There you can see the separate core of the pages from their husk.  You can also see a map inside the cover if you look closely.

The next step was to cut off the binding (the brown part on the left of the pages in the photo to the left).  Some use table saws to do this; living in a 1-bedroom apartment means I don’t have one.  I previously learned from Office Depot that their giant paper cutter can handle books up to about 1 1/4″ thick.  The NA27 is fairly thin, so no problem.

This was the next scariest step after that very first one.  I wish I could have done it myself, but my Office Depot in town wasn’t real keen on that.  So the girl behind the counter took my book, with instructions to cut as close the binding as possible (more on that below), and in about 45 seconds I received back a loose-leaf NA27 for a $.75 cutting charge.

IMG_0089 This to my left is the loose-leaf stack.  Obviously in order to make this NT “Blank”, I needed to pick up some blank pages to insert.  For that, a ream of the store-brand copy paper (20 lbs., acid-free) was all I needed.  It only cost $4-something.  Awesome.

We measured the page size of the NT and found it was 7 3/8″ by 5 1/8″.  This means that you can get two blank pages from every piece of normal copy paper.  (Actually, 4 if you’re counting both sides.)  There are about 690-something pages of NT text in the NA27, so that means I would need 345 blank pages.  (I put 2-3 in at the start of every NT book for intro notes as well.)  So I could very easily have asked for half the stack to be cut to match.  But something in my brain wasn’t clicking that I could get 2 per page, and I had them cut the whole thing. O well, 2 bucks.

I assume here that one doesn’t feel the need to “blank” the pages of the German/English introduction and the text notes at the end of the NA-27.  That would obviously require more pages, etc. Even I’m not that big a nerd.

Now for the time-consuming part…collating.  Following Tony Reinke’s advice, I simply made 2 stacks- one with the NA27 pages and one with the blank pages.  Then after putting on a disc of Seinfeld, I went to work, putting a blank page in between each page of the NA27.  These I stacked in the middle.  As I went through, I periodically would hit the middle stack like a deck of cards against the table surface to align the pages on the side where the new binding would go.  This paid off later. I also added in extra pages near the start of each book (3 for larger books, 2 for smaller) as I went.

The great thing about the NT is that while collating feels like it is starting off very slowly, because the Gospels are very long, around Galatians you’re knocking out a book every couple of pages and feeling good.  I originally set a finished stack of the Gospels to the side, as I was hoping for 2 volumes.  Then I finished Acts- Revelation.

So there I had two giant stacks that I could eyeball and tell were over the 1 1/4″ spiral binding limit at Office Depot.  I did measure them just to make sure!  So I was going to need three volumes.  I thought about putting all the text notes and introductory materials into one volume and maybe having two for the NT, but since the critical materials did not have the thicker “Blank” pages in between, their size was not of enough consequence to alleviate the need for 3 NT volumes.  So I went a Matthew-Luke Volume 1, a John- 2 Corinthians Volume 2, and a Galatians-Revelation Volume 3.  Essentially I just had to move John from the end of the first Volume 1 to the other stack.  And then split it in half, which was about Galatians.  And great for me, each of these division points was at a place where the book started a new page in the text.  So no photocopied or orphaned book ending/beginnings!

So now I had this…3 stacks waiting to be bound into 3 volumes.


The final steps in part 3…

The “Blank” Greek New Testament- Part 1

I have to start this blog by giving due credit to those who inspired this project for me.  IMG_0079First, credit would have to go to my lovely wife and our dog, who managed to combine forces a few months ago and spill some liquid drink all over our coffee table, thus turning my beloved Nestle-Aland 27 Greek New Testament into a sticky, warped phantom of its former self.

Second, I have to give huge kudos to Tony Reinke since it was from his blog that I first learned of the “Blank Bible” concept and since he actually provides a step-by-step DIY instruction guide which I largely followed on this project. For those who don’t know, a “Blank Bible” is simply a Bible with a blank page in between the Bible pages for note-taking/journaling.  Jonathan Edwards had a famous one (it’s now at Yale, I believe), and Zondervan actually is now selling a similar product available in NIV/TNIV.

Now to my actual quest…

Hearing about the concept of a “Blank Bible” struck quite a chord with me.  I struggled much with the thought of making one from an English text.  For starters, what translation does one pick for this massive understanding? For serious Bible study, there’s NASB, but the awkward sentence structures honestly makes me want to just read the actual Greek.    There’s NIV, but that’s going to be defunct by 2011 (ditto on the TNIV).  I think the HCSB is actually a pretty good and readable translation, but it also is due for a text update in 2010.  Plus, it’s seems to be having trouble shedding the Hard Core Southern Baptist (HCSB) identity.  And there’s the ESV, which has some awkward spots, but its identity with the Reformed Resurgence provides another sticky spot.  (But the pocket size edition my wife has is pretty cool for carrying around.)  Anything less literal than these versions would defeat the point of a note-taking, Bible-studying Blank Bible.  So I got stuck there.

Besides, I’ve done too much work in Seminary to get myself into the Greek to not stay in it for the rest of my life.  And with the destruction of my old NA27, the path was now open for such a possibility.

Why not just use your computer to read Greek?

I like having an actual copy of the Greek text to underline, highlight, hold in my hands (I don’t drink coffee so I don’t have the built-in IQ boost that one gets holding coffee while reading their laptop.), and of course, having space to write notes.  I also have an issue while using my Accordance software of either a) depending too much on the Instant Details box when I get stuck on a word or b) getting distracted by an email or a sudden thought to check out my RSS subscriptions since I’m on the computer already.  Sometimes this artificial intelligence we have can be death to actual thinking.

So with that, I ordered a new NA27 from Amazon, for the purpose of cutting it apart, inserting blank pages into it, and rebinding.

Part 2 Tomorrow.

Part 3 Here.

Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” Part 10-11

These chapters are titled “The Faculty of Impromptu Speech” and “The Minister’s Fainting Fits”.

(Remember any commentary by the blogger will be in italics.)

10- The Faculty of Impromptu Speech

On impromptu speech- “We would not recommend any man to attempt preaching in this style as a general rule.”

Regarding preparation- “He [God] will never do for us what we can do for ourselves.”

“Very strongly do I warn all of you against reading your sermons, but I recommend, as a most healthful exercise, and as a great aid towards attaining extemporising power, the frequent writing of them.” A little later, “The pen is the scalpel which dissects the thoughts, and never, except when you write down what you behold internally, can you succeed in clearly discerning all that is contained in a conception, or in obtaining its well-marked scope.  You then understand yourself, and make others understand you.”

Chapter 11- The Minister’s Fainting Fits

This chapter is extremely personal for Spurgeon, whose struggle with depression is well-known.

I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon, that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy; and that sadder men might know that one upon whom the sun has shone right joyously did not always walk in the light.”

“Even under the economy of redemption it is most clear that we are to endure infirmities, otherwise there were no need of the promised Spirit to help us in them.”

“Good men are promised tribulation in this world, and ministers may expect a larger share than others, that they may learn sympathy with the Lord’s suffering people, and so may be fitting shepherds of an ailing flock.”  This reminds me of the great quote- “Remember, you are preaching to hurting people.”

“Men, and men subject to human passions, the all-wise God has chosen to be vessels of grace; hence, these tears, hence these perplexities and castings down.”

“We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed; we are to spend and to be spent, not to lay ourselves up in lavender, and nurse our flesh.”

Regarding the loneliness of leadership- “The mountain-tops stand solemnly apart, and talk only with God as He visits their terrible solitudes.  Men of God who rise above their fellows into nearer communion with heavenly things, in their weaker moments feels the lack of human sympathy.”

Regarding the use of nature and recreation as an aid for the soul- “A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.”

Regarding the path to a big ministry that was laid before him at such an early age- “I dreaded the work which a gracious providence had prepared for me.”

Regarding false brothers and sisters- “Ten years of toil do not take so much life out of us as we lose in a few hours by Ahithophel the traitor, or Demas the apostate…Hard words wound some delicate minds very keenly…A kick that scarce would move a horse would kill a sound divine.”

“Instruments shall be used, but their intrinsic weakness shall be clearly manifested; there shall be no division of the glory, no diminishing the honour due to the Great Worker.  The man shall be emptied of self, and then filled with the Holy Ghost.”

“Heaven shall be all the fuller of bliss because because we have been filled with anguish here below, and earth shall be better tilled because of our training in the school of adversity.”

“Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him.  Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not His saints.”


“Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are.  When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord.”

Rest Reflects Relationship

Continuing through Matthew 12, I encountered yet another Sabbath controversy for Jesus.  He’s just claimed that he is Lord of the Sabbath, and yet the people still want to test him to see what he’ll do–this time providing a man with a withered hand to be their case study.

I was reminded today that Matthew 12 occurs directly after Matthew 11.  Have you read the end of that?  Jesus boldly declares that those who are weary, who are burdened (maybe even by overzealous Sabbath enforcement?) are invited to come to him and find rest for their souls.  The Sabbath observance had ceased to become restful in chapter 12.  Why?  Because it became divorced from the God who created Sabbath and who alone provides rest.

If true rest can only be found in relationship to the Lord of the Sabbath Himself, what does that say about us without rest?  If the stress has overwhelmed us, if the grind won’t stop, if we are burning ourselves out at both ends, the problem isn’t primarily a rest problem.  It’s a relationship problem.  Our rest reflects our relationship with God.

“Come to me; I am the Lord of true rest.”