Category Archives: Banner of Truth

“Use very hard arguments and very soft words” by Charles Spurgeon

“In all probability, sensible conversation will sometimes drift into controversy, and here many a good man runs upon a snag. 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.

A heathen who stood in a crowd in Calcutta, listening to a missionary disputing with a Brahmin, said he knew which was right though he did not understand the language—he knew that he was in the wrong who lost his temper first. For the most part, that is a very accurate way of judging.

Try to avoid debating with people. State your opinion and let them state theirs. If you see that a stick is crooked, and you want people to see how crooked it is, lay a straight rod down beside it; that will be quite enough.

But if you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words. Frequently you cannot convince a man by tugging at his reason, but you can persuade him by winning his affections.

The other day I had the misery to need a pair of new boots, and though I bade the fellow make them as large as canoes, I had to labour fearfully to get them on. With a pair of boot-hooks I toiled like the men on board the vessel with Jonah, but all in vain.

Just then my friend put in my way a little French chalk, and the work was done in a moment. Wonderfully coaxing was that French chalk.

Gentlemen, always carry a little French chalk with you into society, a neat packet of Christian persuasiveness, and you will soon discover the virtues of it.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 201-202.

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“A deluge of self” by Stephen Charnock

“The whole little world of man is so overflowed with a deluge of self.”

–Stephen Charnock, “On Practical Atheism,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 225.

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“One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men” by John Flavel

“The Word of God is the only support and relief to a gracious soul in the dark day of affliction (Psalm 119:50, 92; 2 Sam. 23:5). That for this very purpose it was written (Romans 15:4).

No rules of moral prudence, no sensual remedies can perform that for us which the Word can do.

And is not this a sealed truth, attested by a thousand undeniable experiences? Hence have the saints fetched their cordials when fainting under the rod.

One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men to relieve a distressed soul.”

–John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, in The Works of the John Flavel (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1820/1997), 4: 424.

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“He is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wounded” by John Flavel

“There is nothing unlovely found in Him, so all that is in Him is wholly lovely. As every ray of God is precious, so everything that is in Christ is precious: Who can weigh Christ in a pair of balances, and tell you what His worth is?

He is comprehensive of all things that are lovely: He seals up the sum of all loveliness. Things that shine as single stars with a particular glory all meet in Christ as a glorious constellation. ‘It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell,’ (Col. 1:19).

Cast your eyes among all created beings, survey the universe, observe strength in one, beauty in a second, faithfulness in a third, wisdom in a fourth; but you shall find none excelling in them all as Christ does.

He is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wounded; and whatever a soul can desire is found in Him (1 Cor. 1:30).”

–John Flavel, The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel Volume 2 (London; Edinburgh; Dublin: W. Baynes and Son; Waugh and Innes; M. Keene, 1820), 2: 216.

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“Read, study, reflect, and write” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Many—probably most—of these chapters were written in the context of busy pastoral ministry, either in Scotland or in the United States—preaching, teaching, pastoral visiting, personal meetings, crises in the lives of individuals and sometimes the whole church, administrative responsibilities, and the wide and wonderful variety of activities that make up the average ministers life.

And since virtually all the essays were written by request, their writing has been squeezed into, or out of, an occasional hiatus in the sheer busy-ness of ministry life and the constant preparation involved in preaching anywhere between three and six times in the week.

So, at some point in the writing of almost all these chapters I have heard an inner voice ask, ‘Whatever possessed you to agree to do this?’ Yet, however far short these various pieces fall, in each case the preparation of them did me good, enlarged my understanding a little, and fed into the day-to-day work of pastoral ministry.

I hope, therefore, that these pages will encourage other ministers to allow themselves to be stretched a little beyond their normal pulpit or lectern preparation. There is no doubt that the wider reflection, reading, study and stretching involved can only strengthen and enrich long-term ministry.

Such stretching produces growth. Sometimes ministers can ‘waste’ the privileged time they have by studying only in relation to their next sermon. This does produce some growth, of course; but perhaps not growth that is constantly putting down deeper roots and producing richer fruit.

Preachers need to be reading and studying more widely, and reflecting theologically if that is to be the case. For only then will our ongoing ministry be deepened and enriched.

Thus, in one sense at least, the undergirding message of these diverse chapters is: if you are a preacher, accept invitations or create opportunities to study, speak, or write on subjects outside of your usual diet of preparation.

Yes, you may find yourself under a little pressure; but pressure can produce diamonds! You will grow personally as a result, and, God-willing, Paul’s exhortation will be fulfilled in your ministry:

Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have… Practise these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:13-16).

It can be an unnerving question to ask oneself, ‘Has anyone in the congregation ever thought, far less said, about me, ‘He is making progress’?”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Some Pastors and Teachers (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2017), xii-xiii.

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“The fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God” by Stephen Charnock

“The enjoyment of God will be as fresh and glorious after many ages, as it was at first. God is eternal, and eternity knows no change. There will then be the fullest possession without any decay in the object enjoyed.

There can be nothing past, nothing future. Time neither adds to it, nor detracts from it. That infinite fulness of perfection which flourisheth in Him now, will flourish eternally, without any discoloring of it in the least, by those innumerable ages that shall run to eternity, much less any despoiling Him of them: ‘He is the same in His endless duration’ (Psalm 102:27).

As God is, so will the eternity of Him be, without succession, without division. The fulness of joy will be always present, without past to be thought of with regret for being gone, without future to be expected with tormenting desires.

When we enjoy God, we enjoy Him in His eternity without any flux: an entire possession of all together, without the passing away of pleasures that may be wished to return, or expectation of future joys which might be desired to hasten.

Time is fluid, but eternity is stable. And after many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites.

When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance.

He will be so far from ceasing to flow, that He will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of Himself in glory to the creature.

God, therefore, as sitting upon His throne of grace, and acting according to His covenant, is always vigorous and flourishing, a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire, forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction, with an infinite variety, without any change or succession.

He will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them. This will be the fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God: He is not a cistern, but a fountain, wherein water is always living.”

–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 364-365.

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“Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother” by Charles Spurgeon

“Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children.

I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother. Neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring.

A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of ‘mother’ is creation’s blot. Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother.

Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me.

How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent. Others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me.

How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, ‘Oh, that my son might live before Thee!’

Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,—that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities.

And her smiles have never faded from my recollection,—the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good things in me towards the Lord God of Israel.

My mother said to me, one day, ‘Ah, Charles! I often prayed to the Lord to make you a Christian, but I never asked that you might become a Baptist.’

I could not resist the temptation to reply, ‘Ah, mother! The Lord has answered your prayer with His usual bounty, and given you exceedingly abundantly above what you asked or thought.'”

–Charles Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography: Volume 1, The Early Years (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1898/1962), 44-45.

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