Spurgeon and a Bear

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Recently I read this in a sermon by John MacArthur. You might not know too much about Down Grade but his (Spurgeon’s) insight and challenge about our response to, and acceptance of, change in and outside the church is very strong and worth considering – especially if, like me, you are not too comfortable to have around at times.

You can read more about Down Grade here and here – and in lots of other places on the internet.

“At the height of the Downgrade Controversy, two weeks after he was censured by the Baptist Union, Charles Spurgeon preached a message. The title of the message was “Holding Fast the Faith.” I wish I could read you all of it, let me read you some selected portions of this message he preached after this censure in which the Baptist Union disowned him because of his cries against the downgrade.

He closed the message at least with these words, “Everybody admires Luther. Yes, yes, but you do not want anyone else to do the same today. When you go to the zoological gardens you all admire the bear. But how would you like a bear at home? Or a bear wandering loose about the street? You tell me it would be unbearable. And no doubt you’re right. So we admire a man who was firm in the faith, say 400 years ago. The past ages are a sort of bear pit or iron cage for him. But such a man today is a nuisance and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their compeers had said, `The world is out of order but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let’s go to our chambers, put on our nightcaps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’

“Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers.

“Look, you sirs,” he said, “there are ages yet to come. If the Lord does not speedily appear there will come another generation and another. And all these generations will be tainted and injured if we are not faithful to God and to His truth today. We have come to a turning point in the road. If we turn to the right, may hap our children and our grandchildren’s children will go that way. But if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and His Word. I charge you, not only by your ancestry but by your posterity that you seek to win the commendation of your master that though you dwell where Satan’s seat is you yet holdfast His name and do not deny His faith.

“God, grant us faithfulness for the sake of the souls around us. How is the world to be saved if the church is false to her Lord? How are we to lift the masses if our fulcrum is removed? If our gospel is uncertain? What remains but increasing misery and despair. Stand fast, my beloved, in the name of God. I your brother in Christ entreat you to abide in the truth, quit yourselves like men, be strong, the Lord sustain you for Jesus’ sake.””