Tag Archives: Charles Spurgeon

“Go to sleep” Says the Sermon

In his Lectures to My Students, Spurgeon has this little ditty which has always amused me:

It is an ill case when the preacher

“Leaves his hearers perplex’d —

Twixt the two to determine:

‘Watch and pray,’ says the text,

‘Go to sleep,’ says the sermon.

I couldn’t help but think of that as I was re-reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ great classic, Preaching & Preachers.  He notes that a preacher who appears untouched by the truth he’s preaching is not really a preacher at all.  He goes on:

I came across a notable example of what I am condemning recently when I was convalescing after an illness.  I was staying in a village in a certain part of England and went to the local church just across the road from where I was staying.  I found that the preacher was preaching that evening on the prophet Jeremiah.  He told us that he was starting a series of sermons on the prophet.  So he was starting with that great text where Jeremiah said he could not refrain any longer, but that the Word of God was like a fire in his bones.  That was the text he took.  What happened?  I left the service feeling that I had witnessed something quite extraordinary, for the one big thing that was entirely missing in that service was ‘fire.’  The good man was talking about fire as if he were sitting on an iceberg.  He was actually dealing with the theme of fire in a detached and cold manner; he was a living denial of the very thing that he was saying, or perhaps I should say a dead denial.  It was a good sermon from the standpoint of construction and preparation.  He had obviously taken considerable care over this, and had obviously written out every word, because he was reading it; but that one thing that was absent was fire.  There was no zeal, no enthusiasm, no apparent concern for us as members of the congregation.  His whole attitude seemed to be detached and academic and formal.  (p.88)

Sad, no?  It reminds me of a time I visited a Presbyterian church somewhere.  This church had a seminary and their homiletics professor was on the pulpit that Sunday morning.  The poor man had just flown in the day before and was dealing with a bad case of jet lag.  He yawned his way through the whole sermon.  Maybe it was just a bad day for that brother…


Glorifying God

The last two weeks I’ve had a seminary student working with me as part of the Pastoral Training Program.  I’ve enjoyed Tim’s company and we’ve had some great discussions.  Yesterday we took a field trip to Reformed Book Services in Brantford.  One of the books that I picked up was Glorifying God: A Yearlong Collection of Classic Devotional Writings. This is a compilation of devotions from Thomas Watson’s Body of Divinity.  It’s beautiful, inside and out.  I have a deep appreciation for Watson and have learned much from him as a Christian and as a preacher.  So did Charles Spurgeon.  This is what he said about him:

Watson was one of the most concise, racy, illustrative, and suggestive of those eminent divines who made the Puritan age the Augustan period of evangelical literature.  There is a happy union of sound doctrine, heart-searching experience and practical wisdom throughout all his works…His writings are his best memorial; perhaps he needed no other, and therefore providence forbade the superfluity.

If you’re looking for an accessible introduction to the Puritans, pick up anything by Thomas Watson. All Things for Good is a great place to start.

BTW, we’re still waiting for the Acts of the last two days of Synod.  I think we’ll probably be waiting until next week for them.