Spurgeon Sermon Notes
Following @ReadingSpurgeon programme, here are notes from Sermons No. 45-51 of the New Park Street Pulpit Vol. 1 preached by C. H. Spurgeon.
NPSP1 S45: Conversion
James 5:19-20 – “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
C. H. Spurgeon says that “next to our own salvation, I am sure, as Christians, we shall always prize the salvation of other people; we shall always desire that what has been so sweet to our own taste, may also be tasted by others.”
He has three points to make from this text concerning the conversion of the ungodly.
First, a principle involved. God in His wisdom has been pleased “to work the conversion of others by instrumentality.” Though this is not necessary with God because he could convert souls without any instruments, He usually does employ instruments. “It is a wonderful thing that any one so faulty, so imperfect, so little skilled, should yet be blessed of God to bringing forth children for the Lord Jesus.”
Now, “if God sees fit to make use of any of us for the conversion of others, we must not therefore be took sure that we are converted ourselves,” because God does make us of ungodly men as instruments. Conversely, “if God in his mercy does not make us useful to the conversion of sinners, we are not therefore to say we are sure we are not the children of God.”
Second, a general fact stated. While it is a great joy to save bodies from death, how much greater is it to save souls from death because the soul that is saved from death is saved everlastingly. There are many ways we can be instruments in this, through a conversation, a single word spoken, a letter you may write, books published, the example of those who live Christianity. But, “preaching is the ordained means for the salvation of sinners, and by this ten times as many are brought to the Saviour as by any other.”
Third, a particular application. This ought to be paid to backsliders, “for in bringing backsliders into the church there is as much honour to God as in bringing in sinners.”
NPSP1 S46: The Glorious Habitation
Psalm 90:1 – “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.”
C. H. Spurgeon aim is to explain the subject of this verse, a habitation, and then seek to improve his hearers a little by the consideration of it.
First, a habitation. Like the Israelites, we are travelling through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The wilderness is a state of great uneasiness, a place of danger, continually changing, and of weariness. So to have God for our dwelling place is to have comfort, protection, certainty, and rest. If God is our dwelling place, He is where we feel at home and speak familiarly (in prayer) and He is where our affections are centred.
“God give you to know what it is to take this house in its long lease, and ever to have God for your dwelling place!”
Second, to improve this text. This text improves us when we use it for self-examination. How do we know whether the Lord is our dwelling place, and will be throughout all generations? Here are some ways of knowing: “Have you a love towards the saints?” … “Have we ever had the Spirit of God in us?” … “The confession of our faith in the Saviour” … “Obedience to the commandments of God.” These are blessed signs of a dwelling in God.
This text improves us when we use it for congratulation. To rejoice in the blessings God has given to us if our sins are forgiven and through Christ we have been made to dwell in God. It means we have a magnificent house to dwell in, a perfect house, and one that shall last for ever.
NPSP1 S47: Christ’s Prayer for His People
John 17:15 – “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
C. H. Spurgeon says that “when we listen to the words of Christ [we] should recollect that he is praying for us.” He has four points to make.
First, the meanings of this prayer. He prays that we would not be kept entirely separate from the world, nor that we should be taken away by death. Keeping entirely separate from the world won’t keep us pure and unsullied because our hearts are still sinful.
Second, the reasons of this prayer. “Christ does not pray that we should be taken out of the world, because our abode here is for our own good, for the world’s benefit, and for his glory.”
It is for our own good to remain because time here on earth will make heaven all the sweeter and to know fellowship with the Saviour through suffering and affliction. “How sweet it is to learn the Saviour’s love when nobody else loves us!”
It is for the good of other people to remain. “Why may not saints die as soon as they are converted? For this reason: because God meant that they should be the means of the salvation of their brethren.” We should not want to enter heaven before have converted all the souls allotted to us.
It is for God’s glory to remain. “A tried saint brings more glory to God than an untried one… It honours him when his saints preserve their integrity.”
Third, the doctrinal inferences we may derive from this prayer. Death is God taking the people out of the world, and when we die we are removed by God. How we die is not as important as how we live. “He prays that they should be preserved in life, knowing that their death would assuredly follow rightly, as a matter of course.”
Fourth, the practical lesson taught by this prayer. We are not encouraged to ask God to let us die. “You may pray to be taken home out of the world, but Christ will not take up the petition.” We should not be afraid to go out into the world to do good. “Christ is keeping you in the world for the advantage of your fellow-men.”
NPSP1 S48: Chastisement
Hebrews 12:5 – “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.”
C. H. Spurgeon begins this sermon by reminding us of the good news of the gospel. “God’s people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins. God has punished them already in the person of Christ; Christ, their substitute, has endured the full penalty for all their guilt, and neither the justice nor the love of God can ever exact again that which Christ has paid. Punishment can never happen to a child of God in the judicial sense; he can never be brought before God as his Judge, as charged with guilt, because that guilt was long ago transferred to the shoulders of Christ, and the punishment was exacted at the hands of his surety.” This sets the stage for what he says next, which is that “while the sin cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned, he can be chastised.”
The chastising of a Christian is the theme of this sermon. There are two dangers a person under the chastising hand of God should be on the look out for.
First, the danger of despising the hand of God. We despise the chastening of the Lord when we murmur at it, when we say there is no use in it, when we think it is dishonourable to be chastened by God, when we do not earnestly seek to amend by it, and when we despise those that God chastens.
Second, the danger of fainting under the hand of God. We faint when we give up, when we doubt that whether we are not the children of God, when we think the trouble we are in will never end.
For the Christian there is comfort in affliction because “the Christian derives [comfort] from the fact that he is a son of God, and he knows that the affliction is for his good.”
NPSP1 S49: The God of Peace
Romans 15:33 – “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
C. H. Spurgeon has two points he wants his hearers to consider.
First, the title. The God of peace.
“He is the God of peace, for he created peace originally. He is the God of peace, for he is the restorer of it; though wars have broken out through sin. He is the God of peace, because he preserves peace when it is made; and he is the God of peace because he shall ultimately perfect and consummate peace between all his creatures and himself.”
Second, the benediction. The God of peace be with you all.
There is a great need to pray this prayer because there are enemies to peace lurking in all societies including the church. Five great enemies to peace are error in doctrine, ambition, anger, envy, and pride.
“It is sad to think how much our glorious cause has been impeded by the different fallings out among the disciples of the Lamb.”
NPSP1 S50: The Holy Ghost – The Great Teacher
John 16:13 – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he, shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
C. H. Spurgeon was concerned that among professing Christians, “the Holy Spirit is almost entirely neglected. (!!!) The subject of this sermon is the Holy Spirit, of which he had five things to say drawn from the text
First, an attainment mentioned. God has given us a strong desire to know all truth. “A true Christian is always intently reading and searching the Scriptures that he may be able to certify himself as to its main and cardinal truths.” Knowing the truth is essential for our comfort as “nothing can give a greater light on your path than a clear understanding of divine things.” It also keeps us out of danger and makes us useful in the world
Second, a difficulty suggested. Truth is not easy to discover. We need a guide because the truth is often mixed with error and is hard to distinguish it and we are prone to going astray.
Third, a person provided. “This is none other than God, and this God is none other than a person. This person is “he, the Spirit,” the “Spirit of truth;” not an influence or an emanation, but actually a person.” He is infallible which means He knows everything and cannot lead us astray. He is also ever-present. “Man can guide us to a truth, but it is only the Holy Spirit who can “guide us into a truth.”
Fourth, a method suggested. In three ways the Holy Spirit teaches us: by suggestion, direction, and illumination. He puts good thoughts into our minds. He gives direction to our thoughts. He illuminates the Scriptures when we read them.
Fifth, an evidence. How can know whether we have been enlightened by the Spirit’s influence and been led into all truth? By the constant unity of his testimony. “The Spirit never says one thing at one time and another thing at another time.” By its universality. “The Spirit will gradually lead us into all truth.”
What are the practical applications of this doctrine? If you feel your ignorance, do not despair because the Holy Spirit can teach anyone. If a fellow believer does not understand the truth on a matter, pray that the God of truth may lead them to see the true doctrine. For those who know nothing about the Spirit of truth, “may the Spirit “guide you into all truth!” For if you do not know the truth here, recollect there will be a sorrowful learning of it in the dark chambers of the pit, where the only light shall be the flames of hell!”
NPSP1 S51: Comfort for the Desponding
Job 29:2 – “Oh that I were as in months past.”
C. H. Spurgeon says that the duty of the minister is to preach to different characters. “Sometimes we admonish the confident, lest they should become presumptuous; oftentimes we stir up the slumbering, lest they should sleep the sleep of death. Frequently we comfort the desponding,” which is the focus of this sermon.
First, there is a complaint. Many Christians look back on the past with pleasure but on the present with sorrow. In past they did not doubt their salvation, but in the present find they have lost the brightness of his evidences and wonder if they are a hypocrite and have deceived themselves. In the past they had peace, but now are going through troubles and trials. In the past they enjoyed corporate worship and the means of grace, but now they are not as sweet and pleasant as they used to be. In the past they had a tender conscience, “if there were a suspicion of sin about anything, I faithfully avoided it,” but now the conscience is not what it once was, even if I have not openly sinned before men. In the past they were full of zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of men, but “now souls may be damned, and there is not a tear; sinners may sink into the scalding pit of hell, and not a groan; thousands may be swept away each day, and sink into bottomless woe, and yet not an emotion.” Oh that I were as in months past.
Second, the cause and cure. One of the causes is defect in prayer. You do not pray as you once did, which means the remedy is more prayer. Another cause might be the fault of the minister who starves you spiritually. It could be that you do not come to be fed spiritually by the preaching of God’s word. Idolatry, the setting of affections upon the things of earth can be another cause. The most common cause is becoming self-confident and self-righteous.
Third, an exhortation. To consolation by returning to the Lord and crying out to him to deliver you. To stir you up to be what ought to be. “How many there are of you who are content just to be saved, and merely enter heaven.”