Category Archives: Preaching

“Make me also an instrument of His glory” by Jonathan Edwards

“Sir,

My request to you is that, in your intended journey through New England the next summer, you would be pleased to visit Northampton. I hope it is not wholly from curiosity that I desire to see and hear you in this place; but I apprehend, from what I have heard, that you are one that has the blessing of heaven attending you wherever you go; and I have a great desire, if it may be the will of God, that such a blessing as attends your person and labors may descend on this town, and may enter mine own house, and that I may receive it in my own soul.

Indeed I am fearful whether you will not be disappointed in New England, and will have less success here than in other places: we who have dwelt in a land that has been distinguished with light, and have long enjoyed the gospel, and have been glutted with it, and have despised it, are I fear more hardened than most of those places where you have preached hitherto.

But yet I hope in that power and mercy of God that has appeared so triumphant in the success of your labors in other places, that He will send a blessing with you even to us, though we are unworthy of it. I hope, if God preserves my life, to see something of that salvation of God in New England which He has now begun, in a benighted, wicked, and miserable world and age and in the most guilty of all nations.

It has been with refreshment of soul that I have heard of one raised up in the Church of England to revive the mysterious, spiritual, despised, and exploded doctrines of the gospel, and full of a spirit of zeal for the promotion of real vital piety, whose labors have been attended with such success. Blessed be God that hath done it! He is with you, and helps you, and makes the weapons of your warfare mighty.

We see that God is faithful, and never will forget the promises that He has made to His church; and that He will not suffer the smoking flax to be quenched, even when the floods seem to be overwhelming it; but will revive the flame again, even in the darkest times.

I hope this is the dawning of a day of God’s mighty power and glorious grace to the world of mankind. May you go on, reverend Sir! And may God be with you more and more abundantly, that the work of God may be carried on by a blessing on your labors still, with that swift progress that it has been hitherto, and rise to a greater height, and extend further and further, with an irresistible power bearing down all opposition!

And may the gates of hell never be able to prevail against you! And may God send forth more laborers into His harvest of a like spirit, until the kingdom of Satan shall shake, and his proud empire fall throughout the earth and the kingdom of Christ, that glorious kingdom of light, holiness, peace and love, shall be established from one end of the earth unto the other!

I fear it is too much for me to desire a particular remembrance in your prayers, when I consider how many thousands do doubtless desire it, who can’t all be particularly mentioned; and I am far from thinking myself worthy to be distinguished.

But pray, Sir, let your heart be lifted up to God for me among others, that God would bestow much of that blessed Spirit on me that He has bestowed on you, and make me also an instrument of His glory.

I am, reverend Sir, unworthy to be called your fellow laborer,

Jonathan Edwards”

–Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings (ed. George S. Claghorn and Harry S. Stout; vol. 16; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1998), 16: 80–81. Edwards wrote this letter to George Whitefield on February 12, 1739/40.

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“Preaching was to him no light or trifling task” by Susannah Spurgeon

“In describing a typical week’s work, a beginning can most appropriately be made with an account of the preparation for the hallowed engagements of the Sabbath.

Up to six o’clock, every Saturday evening, visitors were welcomed at ‘Westwood,’ the dear master doing the honours of the garden in such a way that many, with whom he thus walked and talked, treasure the memory of their visit as a very precious thing.

At the tea-table, the conversation was bright, witty, and always interesting; and after the meal was over, an adjournment was made to the study for family worship, and it was at these seasons that my beloved’s prayers were remarkable for their tender childlikeness, their spiritual pathos, and their intense devotion. He seemed to come as near to God as a little child to a loving father, and we were often moved to tears as he talked thus face to face with his Lord.

At six o’clock, every visitor left, for Mr. Spurgeon would often playfully say, ‘Now, dear friends, I must bid you ‘Good-bye,’ and turn you out of this study; you know what a number of chickens I have to scratch for, and I want to give them a good meal tomorrow.’

So, with a hearty ‘God bless you!’ he shook hands with them, and shut himself in to companionship with his God. The inmates of the house went quietly about their several duties, and a holy silence seemed to brood over the place.

What familiar intercourse with the Saviour he so greatly loved, was then vouchsafed to him, we can never know, for, even while I write, I hear a whisper, ‘The place whereon thou standest is holy ground.’

No human ear ever heard the mighty pleadings with God, for himself, and his people, which rose from his study on those solemn evenings; no mortal eyes ever beheld him as he wrestled with the Angel of the covenant until he prevailed, and came back from his brook Jabbok with the message he was to deliver in his Master’s Name.

His grandest and most fruitful sermons were those which cost him most soul-travail and spiritual anguish;—not in their preparation or arrangement, but in his own overwhelming sense of accountability to God for the souls to whom he had to preach the gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

Though he had the gift of utterance above many, preaching was to him no light or trifling task; his whole heart was absorbed in it, all his spiritual force was engaged in it, all the intellectual power, with which God had so richly endowed him, was pressed into this glorious service, and then laid humbly and thankfully at the feet of his Lord and Saviour, to be used and blessed by Him according to His gracious will and purpose.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary, 1878–1892 (vol. 4; Chicago; New York; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1900), 4: 64-65.

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“The true treasure of the Church” by Martin Luther

“The true treasure of the Church is the most holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 31.

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“Though He be a lion, He will only be a lion to your enemies; but He will be a lamb to you” by Jonathan Edwards

“If you are a poor distressed sinner, whose heart is ready to sink for fear that God never will have mercy on you, you need not be afraid to go to Christ, for fear that He is either unable or unwilling to help you.

Here is a strong foundation, and an inexhaustible treasure, to answer the necessities of your poor soul. And here is infinite grace and gentleness to invite and embolden a poor unworthy fearful soul to come.

If Christ accepts of you, you need not fear but that you will be safe; for He is a strong lion for your defense. And if you come, you need not fear but that you shall be accepted; for He is like a lamb to all that come to Him, and receives them with infinite grace and tenderness.

’Tis true He has awful majesty; He is the great God, and is infinitely high above you. But there is this to encourage and embolden the poor sinner: that Christ is man as well as God; He is a creature, as well as the Creator; and He is the most humble and lowly in heart of any creature in heaven or earth. This may well make the poor unworthy creature bold in coming to Him.

You need not hesitate one moment, but may run to Him, and cast yourself upon Him. You will certainly be graciously and meekly received by Him. Though He be a lion, He will only be a lion to your enemies. But He will be a lamb to you.

Any one of you that is a father or mother won’t despise one of your own children that comes to you in distress. Oh how much less danger is there of Christ despising you, if in your heart you come to Him!”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Excellency of Christ,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1734–1738 (ed. M. X. Lesser and Harry S. Stout; vol. 19; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2001), 19: 583–584. You may read this wonderful sermon in its entirety here.

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“There is not a drop of wrath in a riverful of a believer’s grief” by Charles Spurgeon

“I do not know of any reflection more consoling than this: that my sorrow is not laid on me by a judge, nor inflicted on me as the result of divine anger. There is not a drop of wrath in a riverful of a believer’s grief.

Does not that take the bitterness out of affliction and make it sweet? And then the reflection goes further. Since Christ has died for me, I am God’s dear child; and now if I suffer, all my suffering comes from my Father’s hand—nay, more, from my Father’s heart.

He loves me, and therefore makes me suffer; not because He does not love, but because He does love He does thus afflict me. In every stripe I see another token of paternal love. This it is to sweeten Marah’s waters indeed.

Then will come the next reflection—that a Father’s love is joined with infinite wisdom, and that, therefore, every ingredient in the bitter cup is measured out drop by drop, and grain by grain, and there is not one pang too many ever suffered by an heir of heaven.

The cross is not only weighed to the pound but to the ounce, ay, to the lowest conceivable grain. You shall not have one half a drop of grief more than is absolutely needful for your good and God’s glory.

And does not this also sweeten the cross, that it is laid on us by infinite wisdom, and by a Father’s hand.

Ravishing, indeed, is the reflection in the midst of all our grief and suffering, that Jesus Christ suffers with us. In all thine affliction, O member of the body, the Head is still a sharer.

Deep are the sympathies of the Redeemer, acute, certain, quick, infallible; He never forgets His saints.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Marah; Or, the Bitter Waters Sweetened,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Volume 17 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1871), 17: 236–237.

[HT: Bobby Jamieson]

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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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“Give me the cross of Christ!” by J.C. Ryle

“Let others, if they will, preach the law and morality. Let others hold forth the terrors of hell, and the joys of heaven. Let others drench their congregations with teachings about the sacraments and the church. Give me the cross of Christ!

This is the only lever which has ever turned the world upside down hitherto, and made men forsake their sins. And if this will not, nothing will. A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, but he will do little or no good among his hearers unless he knows something of the cross.

Never was there a minister who did much for the conversion of souls who did not dwell much on Christ crucified. Luther, Rutherford, Whitefield, M’Cheyne, were all most eminently preachers of the cross. This is the preaching that the Holy Ghost delights to bless. He loves to honour those who honour the cross.

The cross is the foundation of a Church’s prosperity. No Church will ever be honoured in which Christ crucified is not continually lifted up: nothing whatever can make up for the want of the cross.

Without it all things may be done decently and in order. Without it there may be splendid ceremonies, beautiful music, gorgeous churches, learned ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for the poor.

But without the cross no good will be done. Dark hearts will not be enlightened, proud hearts will not be humbled, mourning hearts will not be comforted, fainting hearts will not be cheered.

Sermons about the Catholic Church and an apostolic ministry,—sermons about baptism and the Lord’s supper,—sermons about unity and schism,—sermons about fasts and communion,—sermons about fathers and saints,—such sermons will never make up for the absence of sermons about the cross of Christ.

They may amuse some: they will feed none. A gorgeous banqueting room, and splendid gold plate on the table, will never make up to a hungry man for a lack of food.

Christ crucified is God’s ordinance for doing good to men. Whenever a Church keeps back Christ crucified, or puts anything whatever in that foremost place which Christ crucified should always have, from that moment a Church ceases to be useful.

Without Christ crucified in her pulpits, a church is little better than a cumberer of the ground, a dead carcass, a well without water, a barren fig tree, a sleeping watchman, a silent trumpet, a dumb witness, an ambassador without terms of peace, a messenger without tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block to weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for formalism, a joy to the devil, and an offence to God.”

–J.C. Ryle, Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (London: Charles J. Thynne, 1898), 257-259.

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