Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” Part 15

This chapter is entitled “The Necessity of Ministerial Progress.”  It is a passionate plea against stagnation in any part of the pastor’s life.

“Dear Fellow Soldiers!  We are few, and we have a desperate fight before us, therefore it is needful that every man should be made the most of, and nerved to his highest point of strength.”

On moving forward in our Bible study- “Still, our main business is to study the Scriptures.  The smith’s main business is to shoe horses; let him see that he knows how to do it, for should he be able to belt an angel with a girdle of gold he will fail as a smith if he cannot make and fix a horseshoe.”

“Nowadays we hear men tear a single sentence of Scripture from its connection, and cry “Eureka! Eureka!” as if they had found a new truth; and yet they have not discovered a diamond, but a piece of broken glass.  Had they been able to compare spiritual things with spiritual, had they understood the analogy of the faith, and had they been acquainted with the holy learning of the great Bible students of ages past, they would not have been quite so fast in vaunting their marvellous [sic] knowledge.”

“Follow the trails of knowledge, according as you have the time, the opportunity, and the peculiar faculty; and do not hesitate to do so because of any apprehension that you will educate yourselves up to too high a point.  When grace abounds, learning will not puff you up, or injure your simplicity in the gospel.”

On the vanity of chasing new philosophy…

“The fair maid of truth does not paint her cheeks and tire her head like Jezebel, following every new philosophic fashion; she is content with her own native beauty, and her aspect is in the main the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”

“Hell gapes wide, and with her open mouth swallows up myriads, and those who should spread the tidings of salvation are ‘pursuing fresh lines of thought.’  Highly cultured soul-murderers will find their boasted ‘culture’ to be no excuse in the day of judgment.”

“”You know ministers who have mistaken their calling, and evidently have no gifts for it: make sure that none think the same of you.”

“I heard one say the other day that a certain preacher had no more gifts for the ministry than an oyster, and in my own judgment, this was a slander on the oyster, for that worthy bivalve shows great discretion in his openings, and knows when to close.  If some men were sentenced to hear their own sermons it would be a righteous judgment upon them, and they would soon cry out with Cain, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.”

“An average hearer, who is unable to follow the course of thought of the preacher, ought not to worry himself, but to blame the preacher, whose business it is to make the matter plain.”

“It is not enough to be so plain that you can be understood, you must speak so that you cannot be misunderstood.”

On style-

“Nonsense does not improve by being bellowed.”

“To be burning at the lip and freezing at the soul is a mark of reprobation.”

“We are not to go about the world searching out heresies, like terrier dogs sniffing for rats; nor are we to be so confident of our own infallibility as to erect ecclesiastical stakes at which to roast all who differ from us…”

“Count nothing little which even in a small degree hinders your usefulness.”

On a policy of pleasing everyone…

“Under God I owe my position in my own church to the absence of all policy, and the habit of saying what I mean.  The plan of making all things pleasant all round is a perilous as well as a wicked one.  If you say one thing to one man, and another to another, they will one day compare notes and find you out, and then you will be despised.”

“Excel also in power, which is both mental and moral, namely, the power of concentrating all your forces upon the work to which you are called…Turn all the springs of your soul into one channel, causing it to flow onward in an undivided stream.’

“Do not be afraid of becoming too holy.  Do not be afraid of being too full of the Holy Spirit.  I would have you wise on all sides, and able to deal with man both in his conflicts and in his joys, as one familiar with both.  Know where Adam left you; know where the Spirit of God has placed you.  Do not know either of these so exclusively as to forget the other.”

“Dwell in God, brethren; do not occasionally visit Him, but abide in Him.  They say in Italy that where the sun does not enter the physician must.  Where Jesus does not shine the soul is sick.”

“There are good brethren in the world who are also impractical.  The grand doctrine of the second advent makes them stand with open mouths, peering into the skies, so that I am ready to say, “Ye men of Plymouth, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven?”  [no doubt a reference to John Darby’s Plymouth Brethren, founders of dispensationalism] The fact that Jesus Christ is to come is not a reason for star-gazing, but for working in the power of the Holy Ghost.  Be not so taken up with speculations as to prefer a Bible reading over a dark passage in the Revelation to teaching in a ragged-school or discoursing to the poor concerning Jesus.  We must have done with day-dreams, and get to work.”

Regarding missions-

“We ought to put it on this footing- not “Can I prove that I ought to go?” but “Can I prove that I ought not to go?”  When a man can prove honestly that he ought not to go then he is clear, but not else.”

“It is not enoug for us to say, ‘Those Moravians are very wonderful people!’  We ought to be wonderful people too.  Christ did not purchase the Moravians any more than He purchased us; they are under no more obligation to make sacrifices than we are.  Why then this backwardness?  When we read of heroic men who gave up all for Jesus, we are not merely to admire, but to imitate them.


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