“The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”
Many places attribute this quotation to C. H. Spurgeon, and the great preacher did say something like it, but not this exactly. The Spurgeon Center has this and five other quotations in a post on things Spurgeon did not say. What he said was that we might imagine a caged lion and soldiers who have gathered to defend him. Why are they fighting for this powerful cat when the best approach is to let him out of his cage? “And the best ‘apology’ for the gospel is to let the gospel out.”
Also, “A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes.” That’s something Spurgeon said in an 1855 sermon, describing it as an old proverb. Other men, including Jonathan Swift, said it first, and it could have been a common saying when Spurgeon got around to it.
Did he say, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages”? Did he say, “I take my text and make a beeline to the cross”? Take a look.
On March 22, a “Vigilance Committee” in Montgomery . . . burned Spurgeon’s sermons in the public square. A week later Mr. B. B. Davis, a bookstore owner, prepared “a good ore of pine sticks” before reducing about 60 volumes of Spurgeon’s sermons “to smoke and ashes.” . . .
Anti-Spurgeon bonfires illuminated jail yards, plantations, bookstores, and courthouses throughout the Southern states. In Virginia, Mr. Humphrey H. Kuber, a Baptist preacher and “highly respectable citizen” of Matthews County, burned seven calf-skinned volumes of Spurgeon’s sermons “on the head of a flour barrel.”
British newspapers quipped that America had given Spurgeon a warm welcome, “a literally brilliant reception.”
Christian George, head of the C. H. Spurgeon Library, has produced the first volume of lost sermons by the great London preacher. The dark history above comes from the preface of this volume.
Faith is a root from which may grow all that can adorn the human character. So far from being opposed to good works, it is the ever-flowing fountain from where they proceed. Take faith away from the professed Christian and you have cut the sinew of his strength. Like Samson, you have shorn him of his locks and left him with no power either to defend himself or to conquer his foes. “The just shall live by faith”—FAITH is essential to the vitality of Christianity and anything which weakens that faith weakens the very mainspring of spiritual power!
Brothers and Sisters, not only does our own experience teach us this, and the Word of God declare it, but the whole of human history goes to show the same Truth of God. Faith is force! Why, even when men have been mistaken, if they have believed the mistake, they have displayed more power than men who have known the truth, but have not heartily believed it. The force that a man has in dealing with his fellow men lies very much in the force of conviction which his beliefs have over his own soul. Teach a man the Truth of God so that his whole heart believes in it and you have given him both the fulcrum and the lever with which he may move the world.
To this very moment the whole earth is tremulous like a mass of jelly beneath the tread of Luther, and why? Because he was strong in faith! Luther was a believer in the Word of God and the schoolmen with whom he had to contend were mere disputers. The priests, cardinals and popes with whom Luther came into contact were mere traders in dead traditions! Therefore he smote them hip and thigh, with great slaughter. His whole manhood believed in what he had learned of God—and as an iron rod among potters’ vessels, so was he among the pretenders of his age! What has been true in history all along is most certainly true now. It is by believing that we become strong—that is clear enough.
Whatever supposed excellencies there may be in the much vaunted receptive condition of the mind, the equilibrium of a cultured intellect and the unsettled judgment of “honest” disbelief, I am unable to discern them. And I see no reference to them in Scripture. Holy Writ neither offers commendations of unbelief, nor presents motives nor reasons for its cultivation. Experience does not prove it to be strength in life’s battle, or wisdom for life’s labyrinth. It is near akin to credulity and, unlike true faith, it is prone to be led by the nose by any falsehood.
From this sermon on Hebrews 6:17-20, delivered May 21, 1876.
“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:12–14, ESV)
On verse fourteen, the great Charles Spurgeon writes:
The prayer is like others which came from the meek lawgiver when he boldly pleaded with God for the nation; it is Moses like. He here speaks with the Lord as a man speaketh with his friend.
O satisfy us early with thy mercy. Since they must die, and die so soon, the psalmist pleads for speedy mercy upon himself and his brethren. Good men know how to turn the darkest trials into arguments at the throne of grace. He who has but the heart to pray need never be without pleas in prayer. The only satisfying food for the Lord’s people is the favour of God; this Moses earnestly seeks for, and as the manna fell in the morning he beseeches the Lord to send at once his satisfying favour, that all through the little day of life they might be filled therewith. Are we so soon to die? Then, Lord, do not starve us while we live. Satisfy us at once, we pray thee. Our day is short and the night hastens on, O give us in the early morning of our days to be satisfied with thy favour, that all through our little day we may be happy. That we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Being filled with divine love, their brief life on earth would become a joyful festival, and would continue so as long as it lasted. When the Lord refreshes us with his presence, our joy is such that no man can take it from us. Apprehensions of speedy death are not able to distress those who enjoy the present favour of God; though they know that the night cometh they see nothing to fear in it, but continue to live while they live, triumphing in the present favour of God and leaving the future in his loving hands. Since the whole generation which came out of Egypt had been doomed to die in the wilderness, they would naturally feel despondent, and therefore their great leader seeks for them that blessing which, beyond all others, consoles the heart, namely, the presence and favour of the Lord.
Christian George is Curator of the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written about Charles H. Spurgeon’s depression in this article, “Spurgeon Almost Quit,” and talks to Charles Morris of Haven Today about the subject here.
George quotes the great preacher as saying, “I have gone to the very bottoms of the mountains, as some of you know, in a night that never can be erased from my memory . . . but, as far as my witness goes, I can say that the Lord is able to save unto the uttermost and in the last extremity, and he has been a good God to me.”