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Vol. 10, No. 6
June, 2001

C. H. Spurgeon's Gospel

by Glenn Conjurske

In October of 2000, in an article entitled “The Ancient Men on the Old Doctrine that The Terms of Discipleship are The Terms of Salvation,” I gave two lengthy quotations from C. H. Spurgeon, both of them strong, forceful, and explicit----both of them, indeed, absolutely conclusive that Spurgeon held the terms of discipleship to be the terms of salvation. I supposed these quotations would establish the matter beyond the reach of doubt or cavil. But I was surprised to receive some time afterwards some communications suggesting that I was misreading or misusing Spurgeon. But “surprised” is too weak a term. Actually I was dumbfounded. It had never entered my head that any man could read those quotations without being convinced that Spurgeon preached the necessity of discipleship to salvation. But in that I was apparently mistaken. I had evidently not sufficiently reckoned on the power of prejudice. David Otis Fuller read Spurgeon and found the modern King James Only doctrines, and can it be that the same men who will condemn Fuller for this can read Spurgeon, and find the modern antinomian gospel? I had hoped better things than this. I do so still. I labored to excuse Fuller from any intentional dishonesty in his use of Spurgeon, and I will do the same with my friends in the present case. Surely they have read Spurgeon without due attention. Surely they will acknowledge the force of the facts when they are laid plainly before their eyes. I proceed to make a further attempt.

One little paper which has been sent me is entitled, “Charles Spurgeon and Lordship Salvation.” This begins by rehearsing, in Spurgeon's own words, “the story of Spurgeon's conversion” under a sermon on “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” This is followed by ten observations, among which I note the following:

“5. Notice that the emphasis of the sermon was upon LOOKING, not DOING. ...

“7. Notice that the substitute preacher did not say anything about the terms of discipleship and the demands that are incumbent upon every saved person to follow and obey Christ.

“8. Notice that the substitute preacher did not tell Spurgeon to 'submit to Christ's Lordship' or 'fulfill the terms of discipleship' or 'turn from and forsake all sin' or 'hate father, mother, wife, children, etc.' These things are the rightful results of salvation but not the simple terms of salvation.”

And here I say calmly and solemnly, that this is certainly to misuse Spurgeon. It is of course a plain fact of history that “the substitute preacher” did not mention repentance or submission or discipleship on the occasion of Spurgeon's conversion, but it is another plain fact that Spurgeon himself preached those things often, and preached them as the terms of salvation. The title of this paper is not “The Substitute Preacher and Lordship Salvation,” but “Charles Spurgeon and Lordship Salvation.” It is no use telling us what the substitute preacher did or did not mention when Spurgeon was converted, when we know very well that Spurgeon himself often preached those things after he was converted----preached them as the conditions of salvation, and preached them to the day of his death. I myself was converted under no preaching at all, but it would be grossly to misuse the facts to claim me as an advocate for converting men without preaching. It is no use to tell me that “the substitute preacher did not say anything about the terms of discipleship and the demands that are incumbent upon every saved person to follow and obey Christ,” when it is an incontrovertible fact of history that Spurgeon himself preached the demands that are incumbent upon every unsaved person to follow and obey Christ.

But I must turn aside for a moment, to comment upon the doctrinal significance of the manner of Spurgeon's conversion. The fact is, there was no need to preach repentance to him. He was already a penitent man----
had been repenting with all his heart for weeks and months. What he needed was faith, and the sermon which he heard on “Look and live” was used to give him that faith. And for the many who hold repentance and faith to be inseparable, the seeking Spurgeon is a clear example of how far a truly penitent man may be from possessing the faith of the gospel.

But that Spurgeon himself preached nothing more than he heard in that sermon is notoriously false. It is indisputable that he preached repentance and discipleship as necessary to salvation, and preached these as forcefully as any man who has ever lived. But some who are apparently unwilling to believe this have found a sermon in which Spurgeon seems to imply a denial of it, and with a little looking we suppose they might find a few more of such also. This does not surprise us. We have remarked before in the pages of this magazine(in January of 1997, page 20)----without any aim to detract from Spurgeon, and without the slightest reference to the present controversy----that Spurgeon may often be quoted on both sides of the question, and this is particularly true on everything which touches Calvinism. I have long held it, and often stated it, that SPURGEON WAS ONE OF THE MOST INCONSISTENT THEOLOGIANS EVER TO WALK THE EARTH. And the reason for his inconsistency is as plain as the daylight to those who understand the truth. He had set himself to maintain two systems which are utterly incompatible with each other. He was set to maintain both Calvinism and Scripture, and every man who sincerely does this must necessarily involve himself in an endless maze of self-contradictions. And I believe Spurgeon did this sincerely----often professing himself that he could not reconcile the two sides of his system. He supposed that both sides were the truth, and therefore capable of reconciliation, but the task was really hopeless. He held a lie in one hand and the truth in the other----Calvinism in one hand and Scripture in the other----and these two will never be reconciled in time or eternity. But Spurgeon was a good man, and it is certain that most of the time Scripture had more weight with him than Calvinism. Consistent Calvinism he opposed with all his might, under the name of hyper-Calvinism.

But there is more. Though there may be exceptions to what I am about to affirm, yet I affirm nevertheless that in general, when Spurgeon enforces the truth of the gospel, he speaks not only forcefully, but explicitly and specifically, demanding of sinners in express terms that they forsake all sin and submit without reserve to Christ. On the other hand, when he launches forth upon a Calvinistic rhapsody concerning no terms or conditions, he speaks in general terms----and surely does not venture then to explicitly deny what he elsewhere explicitly preaches, though he may appear to deny it by implication.

These considerations may perhaps allow us to suppose that he was not quite so self-contradictory as he often appears to be. Nevertheless, he is seen at times in the same sermon denouncing the “legality” which imposes terms and conditions upon sinners, and yet insisting that if they do not forsake every sin they will be damned. Witness the following:

“Another furrow which some do not much like to plough, but which must be distinctly marked if a man is an honest ploughman for God, is that of repentance. Sinner, you and your sins must part. You have been married long, and you have had a merry time of it perhaps; but you must part. You and your sins must separate, or you and your God will never come together. Not one sin may you keep. They must all be given up: they must be brought out like the Canaanitish kings from the cave, and hanged up before the sun. Not one darling must be spared. You must forsake them, loathe them, abhor them, and ask the Lord to overcome them.”

And again, “There is the furrow of holiness, that is the next turn the ploughman takes[.] “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” We have preached salvation by grace, but we do not preach salvation to those who still continue in sin.”

And finally, “Confusion worse confounded follows upon confusing grace and law. There is the covenant of works----'This do, and thou shalt live,' but its voice is not that of the covenant of grace which says, 'Hear and your soul shall live.”You shall, for I will:' that is the covenant of grace. It is a covenant of pure promise unalloyed by terms and conditions. I have heard people put it thus----'Believers will be saved if from this time forth they are faithful to grace given.' That savours of the covenant of works. 'God will love you'----says another,----'if you----.' Ah, the moment you get an 'if' in it, it is the covenant of works, and the gospel has evaporated.”

We have little doubt that most of our modern preachers, reading this last quotation by itself, would come to the solid conclusion that Spurgeon could not have held repentance or holiness as necessary to salvation, but the plain fact is, the three quotations which I have printed above are all from the same sermon, and the latter two of them from the same page. The reader will find them in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. XXI (1875), pp. 88-89. The first two quotations are plain declarations of the truth of Scripture. The third is only the mouthing of the jargon of Calvinism, and it is confusion and falsehood. That the new covenant is “pure promise unalloyed by terms and conditions” is utterly false. “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Christ is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” These are the terms of the new covenant, as the soundest and best theologians have contended for centuries, including all the best of the Calvinists, and Spurgeon himself constantly preached these conditions, even in this same sermon. It is confusion confounded indeed, and ridiculously shallow besides, to hold that the presence of an “if” sets us on the ground of the covenant of works, and evaporates the gospel. Paul says, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you zthe gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, zIF ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” And as for “God will love you if you----,” it is Christ who says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23). But Calvinism always stands in the way of simple faith in the word of God. And yet we observe that even in the midst of his most Calvinistic rhapsodies, Spurgeon never descends so low as our modern antinomians. “You shall, for I will,” he says----that is, you shall repent and obey, for I will that you shall, whereas most of our modern antinomians would rather say, “You need not, for I have”----you need not obey, for I have obeyed in your stead. Spurgeon never descends so low.

But consider one more example. Spurgeon closes one of his sermons with “Tarry not to cleanse or mend, but now 'believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.' This night if you believe in Jesus you shall go out of these doors rejoicing that the Lord has put away your sin. To believe is to trust----simply to trust in Christ. It seems a very simple thing, but that is why it is so hard. If it were a hard thing you would more readily attend to it; but being so easy you cannot believe that it is effectual. But it is so: faith does save. Christ wants nothing of you but that you accept what he freely presents to you. Put out an empty hand, a black hand, a trembling hand; accept what Jesus gives, and salvation is yours.”

Now there is no doubt that most men, reading the above, would conclude that Spurgeon preached just such an easy-believe gospel as is commonly preached today----especially when prejudice leads them to wish this to be the case. But they must abandon that opinion, when we inform them that the subject of this sermon is repentance, and that earlier in the same sermon he says, “Ye that would faithfully serve Christ note carefully how he taught his disciples WHAT THEY WERE TO PREACH. We find different descriptions of the subject of our preaching, but on this occasion it is comprised in two things----repentance and remission of sins. I am glad to find in this verse that old-fashioned virtue called repentance. It used to be preached, but it has gone out of fashion now. Indeed, we are told that we always misunderstood the meaning of the word 'repentance'; and that it simply means a 'change of mind,' and nothing more. I wish that those who are so wise in their Greek knew a little more of that language, for they would not be so ready with their infallible statements. True, the word does signify a change of mind, but in its Scriptural connection it indicates a change of mind of an unusual character. It is not such a fitful thing as men mean when they speak of changing their minds, as some people do fifty times a day; but it is a change of mind of a deeper kind. Gospel repentance is a change of mind of the most radical sort----such a change as never was wrought in any man except by the Spirit of God. We mean to teach repentance, the old-fashioned repentance, too; and I do not know a better description of it than the child's verse:----

'Repentance is to leave
The things we loved before,
And show that we in earnest grieve
By doing so no more.'

Let every man understand that he will never have remission of sin while he is in love with sin; and that if he abides in sin he cannot obtain the pardon of sin. There must be a hatred of sin, a loathing of it, and a turning from it, or it is not blotted out. We are to preach repentance as a duty. 'The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.' He that has sinned is bound to repent of having sinned: it is the least that he can do. How can any man ask God for mercy while he abides in his sin?

“We are to preach the acceptableness of repentance. In itself considered there is nothing in repentance deserving of the favour of God; but, the Lord Jesus Christ having come, we read, 'He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall find mercy.' God accepts repentance for the sake of his dear Son. He smiles upon the penitent sinner, and puts away his iniquities. This we are to make known on all sides.”

And all this, recall, in the same sermon with the seemingly easy-believe statement quoted above.

Now to return to the little paper on “Charles Spurgeon and Lordship Salvation,” the tenth and final comment which it makes is this: “For a wonderful sermon by Spurgeon dealing with the question of what a person needs to do to be saved, see his sermon entitled 'The Warrant of Faith'...”

This, I suppose, should come as no surprise. In “The Warrant of Faith” we see Spurgeon at his worst, the nearest he comes to rank antinomianism, and the farthest from the plain truths of the gospel which he preached so forcefully at other times. It is very significant that men who dwell in the antinomian climate of the modern church should single out this sermon, and endeavor to make it representative of Spurgeon's position, but is this fair? Why does this paper not say, “For a wonderful sermon by Spurgeon dealing with the question of what a person needs to do to be saved, see his sermon entitled 'Turn or Burn”'?----why not “The Prodigal's Return”?----why not “Two Essential Things”? (repentance and faith)----why not “Christ's First and Last Subject”? (repentance)----in all of which Spurgeon preaches with great forcefulness that if men do not entirely forsake every known sin they must be damned. Obviously those sermons do not suit the writer's theology, but is it fair utterly to ignore all of Spurgeon's explicit and forceful sermons on the necessity of repentance and holiness, and hold forth one sermon on the other side, which appears to undermine them, and pose this single sermon as a proper specimen of Spurgeon's preaching?

It is no use to tell me that if Spurgeon preached this he could not have held that, when both appear in plain black and white in his books. You may tell me he was inconsistent, but it is no use to tell me that if he preached the sermon on “The Warrant of Faith,” he could not have held repentance and discipleship as necessary to salvation, when I have proved by his own words that he did. I know he was inconsistent. I have said so numerous times. He sometimes preached with great clarity the sound doctrines for which I contend, and at other times preached almost, if not quite, as though he were an antinomian. There are many who preach the grace of God in such an unguarded fashion as to make impenitent, unholy, and antinomian converts, but as soon as they are made they turn round the other way, and preach holiness, telling them they are not converted, and never will be so long as they walk in their sins. Spurgeon himself describes this kind of preaching, and its deleterious effects, as follows:

“I think I am not suspicious without reason when I express a fear that the preaching which has lately been very common, and in some respects very useful, of 'only believe and you shall be saved,' has sometimes been altogether mistaken by those who have heard it. Cases occur in which young persons go on living light, frivolous, giddy, and even wicked lives, and yet they assert that they believe in Jesus Christ. When you come to examine them a little you find that their belief in Christ means that they believe he has saved them, although everybody who knows their character can see clearly that they are not saved at all: now, what is their faith but the belief of a lie? They are living just as they did live, and hence it is clear that they are not saved from their former foolish conversation, nor from their bad tempers, nor from their old sins; and yet they try to persuade themselves that they are saved. Now, true faith never believes falsehoods: presumption lives upon lies, but faith will only feed on truth. My faith does not teach me to believe I am saved when straight before my very eyes I have the evidence that I am not saved, since I am living in the very sin I pretend to be saved from. Though we would not for a moment cast a doubt upon the doctrine of justification by faith and free salvation, we must also preach more and more that parallel truth, 'Ye must be born again.' We must bring to the front that grand old word which has been thrown into the background by some evangelists, namely, 'Repent.' Repentance is as essential to salvation as faith: indeed there is no faith without repentance except the faith which needs to be repented of.”

Now observe, “Repentance is as essential to salvation as faith.” This puts beyond doubt or cavil what sort of gospel Spurgeon preached, for in numerous places he defines repentance as the hating, renouncing, and forsaking of every sin. If repentance is no condition of salvation in Spurgeon's gospel, then neither is faith. He objects to the preaching of “only believe,” without repentance, but his objections are too mild. He admits that such preaching makes false converts, but for this he lays the blame on the wrong shoulders. The blame for these false converts lies not in their having “altogether mistaken” the purport of the preaching, but in the preaching itself, which is directly calculated to deceive them. “Only believe and you shall be saved” is not the gospel of the Bible, but a departure from it, and those false conversions which he laments are the natural fruit of such preaching. Christ and all his apostles preached “Repent ye, and believe.” So did Spurgeon, throughout his life. He contends for it in the paragraph just quoted, making repentance and faith parallel truths, and equally essential to salvation. Alas, he often preached “only believe” himself. Yet observe, he never said, “You have nothing to do but believe,” for when he preached “only believe” he meant to include repentance and obedience, not to exclude them. Witness the following, taken from a single paragraph: “Christ is the great substitute for sin. If you trust him you shall live. If you will take him this day to be your Saviour, and to be your Master and your Lord, you shall never perish, for God has pledged his word for it, that if you believe in him you shall be saved. ... Only believe in Jesus, and thou shalt live; for this is the gospel,” etc. In his preaching of “only believe,” he included submission to Christ as Lord, and he evidently assumed that others did so also----else how could he complain of sinners altogether mistaking the meaning of it? One thing is certain. When modern preachers cite Spurgeon's one-sided preaching of faith, in an attempt to exclude repentance and discipleship, it is Spurgeon's own testimony that they altogether mistake his meaning.

Elsewhere Spurgeon explains what he means by “only believe,” in the following forceful language. “Now, Jesus Christ never sent me, or any other minister, to preach to you and say, 'Only believe, and you may live as you like, and yet be saved.' Such preaching would be a lie. It is true that we say 'only believe,' but that 'only believing' must be such a believing that you do what Jesus bids you; for Jesus has not promised to save you in your sins, but from your sins, just as a physician does not pretend to heal a man while he feeds his disease and refuses the remedy, but only promises that he will benefit him if the faith which he expects him to exercise shows itself to be a practical and real faith. Beware of a liar's faith; and that is a liar's faith which you pretend to get at a revival meeting, if you then go and live just as you did before.

'Faith must obey her Maker's will,
As well as trust his grace.
A gracious God is jealous still,
For his own holiness.'

So Christ says, 'Take my yoke': that is, 'If you will be saved by me I must be your Master, and you must be my servant; you cannot have me for a Saviour if you do not accept me for a Lawgiver and Commander. If you will not do as I bid you, neither shall you find rest to your souls.”'

Henceforth, then, when men find “only believe” in the sermons of Spurgeon, let them understand that this is what he means by it, by his own explicit declaration----and he could scarcely have spoken more plainly.

But Spurgeon's preaching was never very consistent. He often enforced the necessity of repentance and obedience with great clarity and power, and at other times preached as though they did not exist. I see both sides in his works----sometimes in the same sermon----and plainly avow it. But some of my opponents wish to deny the existence of the one side, that they might maintain the other, and when I point out to them the places in which Spurgeon preached the claims of holiness for which I stand, they are not inclined to admit it. It seems they think he could not have preached these things, or could not have meant them, since elsewhere he sang the soft siren song which the present generation loves so well, of no terms or conditions----and I am accused of misinterpreting him and misusing him.

But to this I plead----not guilty. Let my readers understand, I occupy the place of the underdog. I know that every word I speak on the subject will be challenged by all the greatness and prestige and honor and position which the modern church can muster. I know that every quotation I offer will be sifted with the utmost rigor, and that if the sifting turns up nothing, prejudice will supply what is lacking. I therefore sift every word most rigorously myself, before I venture to claim it or use it or print it. I claim nothing which is not explicit and unequivocal and indisputable. I would be a fool to do otherwise. But in reality, I have no need of such motives. I have a greater and a purer. I love the truth. If I were absolutely certain that I could succeed in misusing or misinterpreting Spurgeon----that none of my opponents would ever discover the trick----I would disdain to do it. I would contemn and abhor such a proceeding. I will not so much as conceal the fact----which most of my opponents probably do not know, and doubtless would never discover----that in a four-page gospel tract on “The Brazen Serpent” Spurgeon preaches “Look and live” in as unguarded a fashion as any antinomian could wish, never mentioning anything resembling repentance, and saying, “He had nothing to do but to look. There is life in a look at Jesus; is not this simple enough?” It is nothing uncommon for Spurgeon to preach so, but then it is just as common for him to insist in the strongest and most explicit terms that no sinner can be saved until he hates, renounces, and forsakes his sins. What he fails to mention----or even seems to disallow----on some occasions cannot be used to set aside what he explicitly declares on many other occasions.

But it may be said that I misuse Spurgeon unwittingly, unconsciously, unintentionally. My bad Arminian theology misleads me. I think not. My theology does not deprive me of reason, nor of an understanding of plain English. Let my opponents show me wherein I have mistaken Spurgeon's meaning. To speak plainly, let them show me how, on any principles of truth or grammar or rectitude, the words which I have quoted from Spurgeon can be made to mean nothing at all, or to mean the direct opposite of what they say. This, and nothing less than this, is really the task before them. Spurgeon says, after rehearsing the terms of discipleship as laid down by Christ in the Gospels, “Is there any getting to heaven without this cost? No. But may we not be Christians without these sacrifices? You may be counterfeits, you may be hypocrites, you may be brethren of Judas, but you cannot be real Christians. This cost is unavoidable, it cannot be bated one solitary mite.” And in the wake of such words as these it is suggested I am misreading and misusing Spurgeon, to affirm that he held discipleship as necessary to salvation.

Nor is it any use to tell me what was preached on the occasion of Spurgeon's conversion. I have known that for many years. But I know also, as a plain matter of fact, that Spurgeon himself very often preached those very things which were not mentioned in the sermon which was used in his own conversion. And neither did he preach them merely as the results of salvation----except perhaps when he was singing the syren song of Calvinism----but as the conditions of it. He did not merely say “if you are saved, you will do these things,” (though he says that also), but “if you would be saved, you must do them.” Read again the declaration which I quoted from him last October: “Now, no man who fails in this respect can enter heaven. Christ will save you, but a part of the agreement on your part MUST be this: 'Ye are not your own, but are bought with a price.' If you would have Christ's blood to redeem you, you must give up to Christ your self,----your body, your soul, your spirit, your substance, your talents, your time, your all. ... He claims that you do now make over, if you would be saved, yourself and everything you have by an indefeasible title-deed to the great Lord of all whose you must be. If you would be saved by the blood of Jesus, you are not from this day to choose your own pleasures, nor your own ways, nor your own thoughts, nor to serve yourselves, nor live for yourselves or for your own aggrandisement. If you would be saved, you must believe what he tells you, do what he bids you, and live only to serve and honour him.”

He does not speak to those who are saved, but to those who would be, and tells them what they must do if they would be saved. He tells them what their part of the agreement with Christ must be, namely, an unreserved and unconditional surrender to him of all that they are and all that they have, and that they must do this now, if they would be saved. All this is too clear to be mistaken. If this is English, and not some exotic tongue we have never read before, then it is as plain as the shining of the sun that Spurgeon makes these terms the conditions of salvation.

But perhaps we ought not to be too hard on our Calvinistic opponents, for it is one of the peculiarities of the Genevan tongue----more correctly termed double-talk----always to reverse the cart and the horse, no matter how many legs may appear on the horse, or wheels on the cart. If the words of Christ and his apostles may be turned awry and set topsy-turvy, in order to fit the theology of the reader, why should those of Spurgeon fare any the better? The great Chillingworth, in enforcing the terms of discipleship, was obliged to lament the effects of this backwards interpretation nearly four centuries ago. Says he, “I know not how, since our divinity has been imprisoned and fettered in theses and distinctions [in Calvinism, that is], we have lost this word law; and men will by no means endure to hear that Christ came to command us any thing, or that he requires any thing at our hands: he is all taken up in promise: all those precepts which are found in the gospel are nothing, in these men's opinions, but mere promises of what God will work in us, I know not how, sine nobis [without ourselves], though indeed they be delivered in fashion, like precepts.”

Those who are accustomed to interpreting the Bible in such a manner may perhaps have some excuse if they interpret Spurgeon after the same fashion, and so turn his plain conditions into “rightful results.” But the real fact is, they have no excuse for so interpreting the Bible. We do not excuse the man who does not believe in miracles, if he so interprets the Bible as to find no miracles therein. No more ought we to excuse the man who does not believe in conditions, if he so contrives to interpret the Bible as to find no conditions there. Neither the one nor the other can deal fairly with the contents of the book. Let them now interpret Conjurske by the same rule, and they will find him as antinomian as anybody could wish.

But my readers will perceive that I am not above a little irony. 'Tis true, and my only apology for it is this, that I aim to be both interesting and convincing, and I suppose that in the present case a little irony will serve both these ends better than anything else. But I advise my readers that my irony is of the most friendly sort, for I love my opponents, though I love not the Genevan brogue, nor the antinomian accent. Yet I understand how easily and unconsciously these accents take possession of us, unless we consciously resist them, when we live among a people whose tongues are turned that way----and how difficult it is to shake them off, when once acquired. I once spoke with the same accent myself. It took five years of searching ere I understood how to shake it off, though it was my constant study in all that time to come at the plain truth of Scripture.

But we must examine this sermon on “The Warrant of Faith,” which the little paper on “Charles Spurgeon and Lordship Salvation” recommends to us. And the first thing which plainly appears is that this is one of Spurgeon's Calvinistic rhapsodies, in which he almost (not quite) denies the plain gospel truths which he so forcefully preaches elsewhere. In this sermon he condemns the best of the Puritans----Baxter, Alleine, and others----and gives the palm to the worst of the antinomians----Saltmarsh and Crisp. So far is this sermon from the Bible and the usual Spurgeon that I had not read half through it before I was fairly convinced that it was derived from some antinomian book which he had been reading, and before he is finished Spurgeon plainly avows this. He says on pages 539 & 540, “I have read with some degree of attention a book to which I owe much for this present discourse----a book, by Abraham Booth, called 'Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners.' I have never heard any one cast a suspicion upon Abraham Booth's soundness; on the contrary, he has been generally considered as one of the most orthodox of the divines of the last generation. If you want my views in full, read his book. If you need something more, let me say, among all the bad things which his revilers have laid to his door, I have never heard any one blame William Huntingdon [sic, and so throughout] for not being high enough in doctrine. Now, William Huntingdon prefaced in his lifetime a book by Saltmarsh, with which he was greatly pleased; and the marrow of its teaching is just this, in his own words, 'The only ground for any to believe is, he is faithful that hath promised, not anything in themselves, for this is the commandment, That ye believe on his Son Jesus Christ.' Now, if William Huntingdon himself printed such a book as that, I marvel how the followers of either William Huntingdon or Abraham Booth, how men calling themselves Calvinistic divines and high Calvinists, can advocate what is not free grace, but a legal, graceless system of qualifications and preparations. I might here quote Crisp, who is pat to the point and a high doctrine man too. I mention neither Booth nor Huntingdon as authorities upon the subject, to the law and to the testimony we must go; but I do mention them to show that men holding strong views on election and predestination yet did see it to be consistent to preach the gospel to sinners as sinners----nay, felt that it was inconsistent to preach the gospel in any other way.” (Italics mine.)

Now observe, first, that Spurgeon places himself in bad company here. Crisp and Saltmarsh were opposed by name as antinomians by John Flavel and others, and in 1698 an anonymous book appeared bearing the title “An Apology for Congregational Divines against the charge of Crispianism or Antinomianism,” &c. In the following century Charles Wesley wrote to John Fletcher, “I was once on the brink of Antinomianism by unwarily reading Crisp and Saltmarsh. Just then, warm in my first love, I was in the utmost danger, when Providence threw in my way BAXTER'S treatise, entitled, A Hundred Errors of Dr. Crisp demonstrated.” Huntington has been regarded as an antinomian by Calvinists from his own times to the present, whether justly I am not prepared to say. It is certain he says little enough that might guard against it. Abraham Booth was opposed during his lifetime on the very matter in which Spurgeon follows him by two prominent Calvinists, the Anglican Thomas Scott and the Baptist Andrew Fuller. It should be understood that when Spurgeon refers to the soundness of these men, he refers solely to their Calvinism----for this sermon is addressed to Calvinists as such. Three of the four of these men have been commonly regarded as antinomians, but nobody doubted they were Calvinists.

But observe in the second place Spurgeon's purpose in this sermon on “The Warrant of Faith.” That purpose was not to deny the necessity of repentance and obedience to salvation, but rather to oppose the Calvinistic notion which had been popularized by John Gill, that the gospel was not to be preached to sinners as sinners----for Calvinism has no salvation, and therefore can have no sincere gospel for most of the sinners on earth. If Christ did not die for them, there can be no salvation for them, and what right or reason have they to believe in him? But Spurgeon did not grapple with such difficulties at all, but only labored to prove that sinners have the right and responsibility to believe, because God commands them so to do.

It is Spurgeon's avowed purpose in this sermon to establish the fact that, in spite of limited atonement and unconditional election, the gospel is to be preached to sinners as sinners----and as lost and undone sinners, not as elect or regenerate sinners, whose election and regeneration have been established by previous deeds or desires in themselves. This he aims at, and so far so good, but he is ardent and immoderate; he overshoots his mark, and gives an almost fatal thrust to that repentance and holiness which he so forcefully preached himself on other occasions. But when the preacher plainly avows his purpose in the sermon, it is really unfair to use it to prove something else, even though in his immoderate zeal he comes very close to asserting something else. This much is perfectly plain:

1. He does not aim in this sermon to prove that repentance is not a condition of salvation, but aims avowedly at something else.

2. He does not say in this sermon that repentance is unnecessary to salvation, though he may seem to imply it.

3. He elsewhere, in numerous places, states most forcibly and explicitly that repentance is a necessary condition of salvation.

4. It cannot be fair to use one unguarded utterance of a man, spoken while he aims at proving something else, to disprove what he repeatedly and explicitly asserts elsewhere.

The plain fact is, Spurgeon not only constantly preached repentance as necessary to salvation, but he also preached it as necessary to faith----preached it as a necessary “qualification” both to permit and to enable a sinner to believe. In volume XXXV of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, page 128, he says, and says three times over, “THOSE WHO HAVE EVANGELICAL REPENTANCE ARE PERMITTED TO BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST. Paul says that he testified of 'repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ'; and, therefore, where there is repentance, faith is allowable. O penitent sinner, you may believe in the Saviour!” This is sound, solid, and unexceptionable, yet Spurgeon speaks it with an apology, and on the next page, in order to maintain his Calvinism, he must contradict this sound theology, and declare that he cannot tell which comes first, repentance or faith. The fact is, he never ceases contradicting himself on this theme. In a sermon entitled “Faith and Repentance Inseparable,” he says, “Many who truly repent are tempted to believe that they are too great sinners for Christ to pardon.” This is exactly the truth, and certainly indicates that faith and repentance are two things, which may be separated, and that repentance precedes faith. Yet before the preacher finishes the paragraph, he says, “That is not repentance, but a foul sin against the infinite mercy of God.” But if this is “not repentance,” how is it that he says they “truly repent”? The difficulty lies in his practically confounding faith and repentance, by making them inseparable. What he ought to have said is, “That is not faith.” He has already asserted that the man has truly repented.

And elsewhere he preached an entire sermon on “Why Men Cannot Believe in Christ,” in which he makes the lack of repentance an insuperable barrier to faith. They cannot believe because they do not repent. “Sinful pleasures,” he says, “are a great bar to faith, and must be renounced. That evil companion who has charmed you with questionable jests must be given up. Do you say that you cannot quit him? Then I see why you cannot believe in Jesus. That house of unclean amusement, which leads to vice----unbelievers know that they must forsake it if they believe in Christ, and they cannot believe because they love the place of temptation.”

Again, “Do not come whining to me about 'can't believe in Jesus Christ.' Of course you cannot while you live in filthy lusts.

“Some cannot believe, but why is it? Why, about once a fortnight, or perhaps once a month, the bottle gets the upper hand of them; they cannot believe; no, and there is another thing they cannot do, they cannot walk straight. They cannot believe, but they could if they would fling that brandy bottle out of the window.”

This is sound practical theology, and a clear echo of the pure gospel of the Son of God. As for Spurgeon's “Warrant of Faith,” this is a poor performance. He did not derive it from the Bible, but from the books of men of “high (Calvinistic) doctrine,” “men holding strong views on election and predestination,” men with strong tendencies to antinomianism----and he had read these Calvinistic and antinomian works with little discernment. Like a great multitude of Calvinists both before and since, he was simply enamored with anything which sang the glories of free grace, and which debased sinful man, though it debased him beneath the level of the beasts that perish, and deeply wounded the IMAGE OF GOD in so doing.

But this sermon calls for a few further remarks. I observe first that in several matters it stands directly against the Bible. In other matters it is simply confused, for though he speaks much against repentance as a qualification for believing, yet it almost seems that he studied to misdefine the thing every time he spoke of it, so as to avoid saying anything against that true repentance which he so often preached elsewhere. I observe finally that, full of false and evil principles as this sermon is, it is really more false in spirit than it is in substance, and will hardly answer the ends of those who seek to employ it in favor of modern antinomianism, for Spurgeon never sinks so low as to deny that repentance is necessary at all. He only affirms that it is unnecessary as a warrant for faith. But some of these things call for further elucidation.

In some matters this sermon stands directly against the Bible. He says on page 537, “I solemnly warn you, though you have been professors of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for twenty years, if your reason for believing in Christ lies in this, that you have felt the terrors of the law; that you have been alarmed, and have been convinced; if your own experience be your warrant for believing in Christ, it is a false reason, and you are really relying upon your experience and not upon Christ: and mark you, if you rely upon your frames and feelings, nay, if you rely upon your communion with Christ, in any degree whatever, you are as certainly a lost sinner as though you relied upon oaths and blasphemies; you shall not more be able to enter heaven, even by the works of the Spirit----and this is using strong language----than by your own works; for Christ, and Christ alone, is the foundation, and 'other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.' Take care of resting in your own experience.”

Here I observe that the preacher states everything in its most extreme form, that he might have a better target at which to shoot, but I aim to answer the spirit of his remarks, without holding him to the letter of what he says. Whatever may be said against relying on frames and feelings, and resting in our own experience, instead of resting in Christ, the plain doctrine of the Bible is this: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” While Spurgeon advises us to disregard our own experience, and condemns the doctrine which has us “always looking within,” the Bible says, “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” How do we know “if we keep his commandments,” without “looking within”? How do we know “if our heart condemn us not”? Certainly not by looking to Christ, entirely outside of ourselves----the very idea is ludicrous----but precisely by “looking within,” and by this means “have we confidence toward God.” What Spurgeon preaches here is blank antinomianism----as directly against the Bible as it is against what he preached himself in other places.

He has taken for his text, “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ,” and speaks throughout as though believing were the only thing ever commanded us. In this also he is against the Bible. How is it he has forgotten that God “now commandeth all men everywhere to repent”? This he preached strongly enough elsewhere, when he had not been reading antinomian books.

As to the confusion with which this sermon abounds, first, on the meaning of repentance. He nowhere defines repentance, as he does in other sermons, but seems rather to shun a plain description of it, as though he were laboring to avoid a confrontation with a betrayed friend. He treats it throughout as though it were but conviction, or sorrow, or feeling. Thus: “See, my brethren, if convictions of soul are necessary qualifications for Christ, we ought to know to an ounce how much of these qualifications are needed. If you tell a poor sinner that there is a certain amount of humblings, and tremblings, and convictions, and heart-searchings to be felt, in order that he may be warranted to come to Christ, I demand of all legal-gospellers distinct information as to the manner and exact degree of preparation required. Brethren will not agree, but will every one give a different standard, according to his own judgment. One will say the sinner must have months of law work: another, that he only needs good desires; and some will demand that he possess the graces of the Spirit----such as humility, godly sorrow, and love to holiness.”

But all this is just casting dust in the air. Spurgeon knew better than this. Only let him define repentance as he himself elsewhere defines it, as the forsaking of sin, and all these objections evaporate at once. Let Spurgeon himself extricate the reader from the confusion of this Calvinistic jargon, and set the matter straight:

He says, “And now I must notice, in the sixth place, the abundant ease of the terms of pardon. When a man says he will forgive another and does not mean it, he puts hard conditions, and says, 'I will forgive him under certain circumstances, if he does this, and if he does that.' This is not abundant pardon. It is a little niggardly spirit of forgiveness; in fact, it is no forgiveness at all. But look how God puts it. Does he say to a man, 'I will forgive you if you weep for seven years, or do penance for a lifetime'; or 'I will forgive you if you bring so much gold or silver, or promise this or promise that?' No, no, no. It is hearty forgiveness, and therefore the terms are simple and easy. When I say 'terms' I merely use the word from want of a better, for indeed the terms are no terms at all. 'Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, for he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.' That is all! No man can expect to be forgiven if he goes on with his sin. You cannot expect God to pardon that which you continue to provoke him with. That were absurd. The sin must be given up.”

Here, then, are Spurgeon's easy terms of pardon----nothing less than the forsaking of sin----and thus does the usual Spurgeon lay to rest all the dust which he had raised when his mind was fevered and his vision blurred by the books of a little coterie of antinomian Calvinists.

But the confusion of “The Warrant of Faith” does not end here. He accuses (pg. 531) some of the best of the Puritans, as Alleine and Baxter, of being “far better preachers of the law than of the gospel,” and says, (pg. 529) “O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas, but even a grain of law is enough to spoil the whole thing.” But all the confusion here is in the mind of Spurgeon himself. If the preachers of the gospel but preach the terms of the gospel, this is not mixing law and grace. The law requires perfect obedience, and what Puritan, what gospel-preacher, ever required this of any sinner? What gospel preacher ever made men “debtors to do the whole law,” as Paul describes it, and debtors to do it without lapse or omission? These are the terms of the law. To preach repentance is not preaching law, but gospel, as Spurgeon himself explicitly and forcefully contends elsewhere.

Yet here he asserts (pp. 532-533), “Secondly, to tell the sinner that he is to believe on Christ because of some warrant in himself, is legal, I dare to say it----legal. Though this method is generally adopted by the higher school of Calvinists, they are herein unsound, uncalvinistic, and legal; it is strange that they who are so bold defenders of free grace should make common cause with Baxterians and Pelagians.” “Uncalvinistic” we grant. EVERY MAN WHO PREACHES THE PLAIN TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL MUST OF NECESSITY BE UNCALVINISTIC. Spurgeon himself was very uncalvinistic in much of his own preaching. But as for unsound and legal, these charges must fall upon the Son of God as much as ever upon any Puritan. “How can ye believe,” says he, “which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” Some heart work must be done in themselves, and by themselves, ere they could believe. And once more, “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” Their believing was dependent upon their repenting.

But Spurgeon was never a deep thinker. His sermons----and obviously the one on “The Warrant of Faith”----were born rather of deep feeling than of deep thought. This may make for earnest preaching, but sometimes it makes for bad doctrine, and often for inconsistency. But be that as it may, whatever he may seem to say or imply in this sermon, the rest of his books and sermons prove indisputably that he held repentance and discipleship as necessary to salvation. He insists everywhere that both repentance and faith are necessary----”Two Essential Things”----both mandated by the gospel----both required in order to salvation, and upon this he insisted from the beginning of his ministry to the end of it. Even in the worst of his sermons, “The Warrant of Faith,” he does not deny it. The purpose of this sermon is to deny that the consciousness of penitence is necessary as the warrant for believing, but zhe never denies that REPENTANCE ITSELF is necessary to SALVATION. This he preached throughout his days. Even at his worst, even in his most unguarded speech, even in his most abandoned Calvinistic rhapsodies, he never stoops so low as modern antinomians. He never denies the necessity of repentance and holiness to salvation, never opposes the necessity of obedience and discipleship, though he may at times fail to mention them. Even where we expect him to lift up the wrong standard----even where he handles those themes and texts which are commonly abused in favor of Calvinism and antinomianism----even there he often raises his voice in favor of the truth of the gospel. Witness the following, in a sermon on “What is the Wedding Garment?”

“Now, beloved, one of the requirements of the feast is, that you with your heart believe on the Lord Jesus, and that you take his righteousness to be your righteousness. Do you refuse this? If you will not accept the Lord Jesus as your substitute, bearing your sins in his own body on the tree, you have not the wedding garment.” Thus far every antinomian will follow him, but here they will stop. Not so Spurgeon. What they will regard as the only requirement is but “one of the requirements” with him, and he proceeds, “Another zrequirement is that you should repent of sin and forsake it; and that you should follow after holiness, and endeavour to copy the example of the Lord Jesus” ----for to him “a godly and upright character” is an essential part of the wedding garment----and here he must leave the antinomians behind him.

And again, in a four-page tract on “The Everlasting Robe,” “The man who is just awakened, and finds that it is morning light, must first of all put off the garments which covered him during the night. He quits his bed, and in so doing shakes off his bed clothes and leaves them. Your friends do not come down stairs wrapped in the sheets which wrapped them at night; we should suppose they were seeking their graves if they did so. The coverlet of night is not our covering by day. There must be a putting off in the morning zbefore there can be a putting on; there is a measure of undressing zbefore we commence to dress. Simple and homely as the figure is, it conveys a lesson which I pray you to remember. Sins and follies are to be cast off when we put on the garments of light. I have known a man profess to be converted, but he has merely put religion over his old character. He has been a passionate man with bad companions, and all he has done is to carry his bad temper into a church-meeting. He has been accustomed to drink more wine than is good for him, and all the change is that he drinks it in respectable company or in secret. He has taken up the saint without casting off the sinner. The rags of his lust are rotting under the raiment of his profession. This will never do; Christ has not come to save you in your sins but from your sins. Anger and drunkenness, and such like, must be got rid of; Christ never came that you might christen your anger by the name of warmth, and your drunkenness with the name of liberty. I have heard of persons living unclean lives who have heard that faith in Jesus Christ would save them, who have misunderstood this doctrine so grievously that they have thought of believing in Christ, and continuing in their evil ways. That attempt will be their ruin. Rahab the harlot was saved by faith; but she was saved from being a harlot any longer. The rags of sin must come off if we put on the robe of Christ. There must be a taking away of the love of sin, there must be a renouncing of the practices and habits of sin, or else a man cannot be a Christian. It will be an idle attempt to try and wear religion as a sort of celestial overall over the top of old sins. The King's daughter is all glorious within, or she would never have received her clothing of wrought gold.” This tract makes the robe to be the righteousness of Christ, yet Spurgeon insists that we must put off our sins ere we can put on that robe.

That he sometimes gave an uncertain sound I am very well aware. He sometimes blew with great clarity the silver trumpet of pure gospel truth, but ever and anon the sound was marred by the discordant strains of some syren song which he attempted on the tin horn of Calvinism. This also was true from the beginning to the end of his days, though we verily believe that the blasts from the tin horn were more moderate in his later years, and we are sure they ceased altogether when he entered the courts of heaven. If, as he professed, he was humbled by his Calvinism while he walked the earth, we are sure he was humbled for it as soon as ever he set foot on the streets of gold. The repentance which he preached and practiced on earth he doubtless carried with him to heaven, and we have little doubt that one of those things of which he was most ashamed in the presence of his Lord was the whole Calvinistic scheme in general, and in particular, the misguided zeal of his sermon on “The Warrant of Faith.”

Quotations from

C. H. Spurgeon on the Terms of Salvation

In the next place, repentance to be sure must be entire. How many will say, “Sir, I will renounce this sin and the other; but there are certain darling lusts which I must keep and hold.” O sirs, in God's name let me tell you, it is not the giving up of one sin, nor fifty sins, which is true repentance; it is the solemn renunciation of every sin. If thou dost harbour one of those accursed vipers in thy heart, thy repentance is but a sham. If thou dost indulge in but one lust, and dost give up every other, that one lust, like one leak in a ship, will sink thy soul. Think it not sufficient to give up thy outward vices; fancy it not enough to cut off the more corrupt sins of thy life; it is all or none which God demands. “Repent,” says he; and when he bids you repent, he means repent for all thy sins, otherwise he never can accept thy repentance as being real and genuine. The true penitent hates sin in the race, not in the individual----in the mass, not in the particular. He says, “Gild thee as thou wilt, O sin, I abhor thee! Ay, cover thyself with pleasure, make thyself gaudy, like the snake with its azure scales----I hate thee still, for I know thy venom, and I flee from thee, even when thou comest to me in the most specious garb.” All sin must be given up, or else you shall never have Christ: all transgression must be renounced, or else the gates of heaven must be barred against you.
----”Turn or Burn,” The New Park Street Pulpit, by C. H. Spurgeon. London: Passmore & Alabaster, vol. II (1856), pp. 418-419.

Conscience tells every man that if he would be saved he must get rid of his sin. The Antinomian may possibly pretend to believe that men can be saved while they live in sin; but conscience will never allow any man to swallow so egregious a lie as that. I have not one person in this congregation who is not perfectly assured that if he is to be saved he must leave off his drunkenness and his vices. Sure there is not one here so stupified with the laudanum of hellish indifference as to imagine that he can revel in his lusts, and afterwards wear the white robe of the redeemed in Paradise. If ye imagine ye can be partakers of the blood of Christ, and yet drink the cup of Belial; if ye imagine that ye can be members of Satan and members of Christ at the same time, ye have less sense than one would give you credit for. No, you know that right arms must be cut off, and right eyes plucked out----that the most darling sins must be renounced, if ye would enter into the kingdom of God.
----”The Prodigal's Return,” ibid., vol. IV (1858), pg. 91.

When we cry, “Repent and be converted,” there are some foolish men who call us legal. Now we beg to state, at the opening of this first point, that repentance is of gospel parentage. ... It is a remarkable fact that the law itself makes no provision for repentance. It says, “This do, and thou shalt live; break my command, and thou shalt die.” There is nothing said about penitence; there is no offer of pardon made to those that repent. The law pronounces its deadly curse upon the man that sins but once, but it offers no way of escape, no door by which the man may be restored to favour. ... Read attentively the twentieth chapter of Exodus. You have the commandments there all thundered forth with trumpet voice, but there is no pause between where Mercy with her silver voice may step in and say, “But if ye break this law, God will have mercy upon you, and will shew himself gracious if ye repent.” No words of repentance, I say, were ever proclaimed by the law: no promise by it made to penitents; and no assistance is by the law ever offered to those who desire to be forgiven. Repentance is a gospel grace. Christ preached it, but not Moses.
----”Christ's First and Last Subject,” ibid., vol. VI (1860), 1892, pg. 342.

While the gospel is a command, it is a two-fold command explaining itself. “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

I know some very excellent brethren----would God there were more like them in zeal and love----who, in their zeal to preach up simple faith in Christ have felt a little difficulty about the matter of repentance; and I have known some of them who have tried to get over the difficulty by softening down the apparent hardness of the word repentance, by expounding it according to its more usual Greek equivalent, a word which occurs in the original of my text, and signifies “to change one's mind.” Apparently they interpret repentance to be a somewhat slighter thing than we usually conceive it to be, a mere change of mind, in fact. Now, allow me to suggest to these dear brethren, that the Holy Ghost never preaches repentance as a trifle; and the change of mind or understanding of which the gospel speaks is a very deep and solemn work, and must not on any account be depreciated. ... There must be sorrow for sin and hatred of it in true repentance, or else I have read my Bible to little purpose. In very truth, I think there is no necessity for any other definition than that of the children's hymn----

”Repentance is to leave
The sins we loved before,
And show that we in earnest grieve,
By doing so no more.”

To repent does mean a change of mind; but then it is a thorough change of the understanding and all that is in the mind, so that it includes an illumination, an illumination of the Holy Spirit; and I think it includes a discovery of the iniquity and hatred of it, without which there can hardly be a genuine repentance. We must not, I think, undervalue repentance. It is a blessed grace of God the Holy Spirit, and it is absolutely necessary unto salvation.
----The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, by C. H. Spurgeon. London: Passmore & Alabaster, vol. VIII, (1862), pp. 399-400.

You cannot indulge known sin, and yet enter heaven. Well soul, God says to you this morning, “Wilt thou have thy sins and go to hell, or wilt give them up, and trust in Christ and be saved.” That alternative is put before you. May you have grace to make the right choice. But your sin must be given up. I am not here to flatter you, and tell you that you can cheat in business, or indulge lasciviousness, or live in the neglect of the house of God, or be a drunkard, and yet enter into heaven. You cannot have eternal life, and yet fondle these things in your bosom. You cannot be perfect, but you must be willing to be so, and anxious to be so. No sin nurtured in the heart can be compatible with salvation; you must wish to sweep them all away, and in the Holy Spirit's strength. You must do it, too, as God shall help you; or else, if you cling to sin, you cling to destruction. Oh, but what sins can be so sweet as to be worth giving up the harps of angels, and worth the endurance of

“The flames which no abatement know,
Though briny tears for ever flow.”
----ibid., vol. XIV (1868), pg. 21.

Repent signifies, in its literal meaning, to change one's mind. It has been translated, “after-wit,” or “after-wisdom;” it is the man's finding out that he was wrong, and rectifying his judgment. But although that be the meaning of the root, the word has come in scriptural use to mean a great deal more. Perhaps there is no better definition of repentance than that which is given in our little children's hymn-book----

”Repentance is to leave
The sins we loved before,
And show that we in earnest grieve,
By doing so no more.”

Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. ----ibid., pg. 195.

What, a thief pardoned and continue to thieve! A harlot forgiven and remain unchaste! The drunkard forgiven and yet delight in his tankards! Truly, then, the gospel would be the servant of unrighteousness, and against us who preach it morality should make a law. But it is not so, impenitent sinners shall be damned, let them boast what they will about grace. My hearer, thou must hate thy sin, or God will hate thee. Thou must turn or burn. Thou canst not have thy sins and go to heaven. Which shall it be? Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or hold thy sins and go to hell? Which shall it be, for it must be one or the other; there must be a divorce between us and sin, or there cannot be a marriage between us and Christ. ----ibid., pg. 201.

In others it is not pride, but an unholy resolve to retain some favourite sin. ... In some cases we have found out that the sorrowing person indulged still in a secret vice, or kept the society of the ungodly, or was undutiful to parents, or unforgiving, or slothful, or practised that hideous sin, secret drunkenness. In any such case, if the man resolves, “I will not give up this sin,” do you wonder if he is not comforted? Would not it be an awful thing if he were? When a man carries a corroding substance within his soul, if his wound is filmed over, an internal disease will come of it and prove deadly. I pray God none of you may ever get comfort till you get rid of every known sin and are able to say----

“The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee.”

There must be a plucking out of the right eye and a losing of the right arm, if we are to inherit eternal life. ----ibid., vol. XV, (1869), pg. 66.

And then let it always be known that submission to God is absolutely necessary to salvation. A man is not saved until he bows before the supreme majesty of God. He may say, “I believe in Jesus,” but if he goes on to follow out his own desires, and to gratify his own passions, he is a mere pretender, a wolf in the clothing of a sheep. Dead faith will save no man; it is not even as good as the faith of devils, for they “believe and tremble,” and these men believe in a fashion which makes them brazen in their iniquity. No, salvation means being saved from the domination of self and sin; salvation means being made to long after likeness to God, being helped by divine grace to reach to that likeness, and living after the mind and will of the Most High. Submission to God is the salvation which we preach, not a mere deliverance from eternal burnings, but deliverance from present rebellion, deliverance from the sin which is the fuel of those flames unquenchable. There must be conformity to the eternal laws of the universe, and according to these God must be first and man must bow to him: nothing can be right till this is done. Submit is a command which in every case must be obeyed, or no peace or salvation will be found.
----ibid., vol. XXIV, (1878), pg. 208.

This is the long and the short of it: you must, as a guilty sinner, cast yourself at God's feet and say, “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, and have mercy upon me in thine own way. ... I do from my very heart give up the love of sin. ... I make no terms nor conditions; mine is an unconditional surrender. ...” ...Submission is essential to salvation, therefore bow before the Lord at once. ... If you will not submit, your faith is a lie, your hope is a delusion, your prayer is an insult, your peace is presumption, your end will be despair. ----ibid., pp. 212-213.

The next precept is, “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners.” What! does the word of God tell sinners to cleanse their hands and purify their hearts? Yes, it does. Some brother whispers, “Ah, that is Arminianism.” Who art thou that repliest against God's word? If such teaching is in this inspired book, how dare we question it? It comes with a “thus saith the Lord,”----”Cleanse your hands, ye sinners.” When a man comes to God and says, “I am willing and anxious to be saved, and I trust Christ to save me,” and yet he keeps his dirty black hands exercised in filthy actions, doing what he knows is wrong, does he expect God to hear him? Do I need spend even so many as a half-dozen words to show that this man does not believe and is not really honest before the Most High? “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners.” Can you ask God to be at peace with you while your hands grasp your sins with loving embrace and are full of bribes, or are foul with lust, or are smiting with the fist of anger and wrath? If you do the devil's work with your hands, do not expect the Lord to fill them with his blessing. It cannot be, you must break off your sins by righteousness, and as Paul shook off the viper from his hand into the fire, so must you. By the power of faith, if it be a real faith, you will be able to purge your outward life. Why, when men talk about being spiritual, and are not even decently moral, it makes us sick to hear them. How dare they talk about being Christians when they do not live as well as Mohammedans or heathens? Oh ye dogs, howling out your shame, what portion have you among the children so long as you bite and devour and love your filthiness? It is idle to talk about salvation while sin is hugged to the heart with both hands. Away with such hypocrisy!
----ibid., pp. 214-215.

Darling sins are sure destroyers. We must give up sin, or give up hope of heaven. John Bunyan, in his Holy War, describes “Sweet-sin hold” as a favourite fortress of Satan, which long held out against Prince Immanuel. Oh that we could raze it to the ground! My hearer, wilt thou have thy sin and go to hell, or wilt thou leave thy sin and go to heaven? Thou canst not take sin with thee into God's rest, neither canst thou be Satan's darling and God's favourite. ----ibid., vol. XXVI (1880), pg. 444.

Now, then, trust Jesus, so as to be obedient to him, and he will pilot you safely. Yield yourself up to follow his example, to imitate his spirit, and obey his commands, and you are a saved man. Your ship shall not be driven out to sea while Jesus steers it; but do not go away under the delusion that you have only to say, “I trust Christ,” and that you are saved directly. Nothing of the kind. You must really trust him----practically trust him, or there is no hope for you. Give yourself up to Jesus, renounce your old sins, forsake your old habits, live as Christ will enable you to live, and immediately you shall find peace to your soul. You cannot enjoy rest, and yet riot in sin. Shall the drunkard have rest, and yet drown his soul in his cups? Shall an adulterer have rest, and wallow in filthiness? Shall a man blaspheme, and have rest? Shall a man be a rogue and a liar, and have rest? Impossible. These things must be given up by coming to Jesus Christ, who will help you to give them up, and make a new man of you, and then you shall receive rest in your soul.
----ibid., vol. XXVIII, (1882), pp. 657-658.

You must enter upon God's service also for life; not to be sometimes God's servant and sometimes not----off and on. ... If you become the servant of God you must be his servant every day and all the day for ever and ever.

“'Tis done, the great transaction's done:
I am my Lord's, and he is mine,”

must be a covenant declaration which must stand true throughout the entire life. And if you become the servant of God you must cease from every known sin. You cannot give one hand to Christ and another to Satan. You must give up the dearest sins. Sweet sin must become bitter. If sins are like right hands or right eyes they must be cut off or plucked out, and you must follow Christ fully, giving him all your heart, and soul, and strength; for if it be not so, you cannot be his disciple.
----ibid., vol. XXIX, (1883), pg. 511.

And now to conclude. I want to address the seeking sinner. ...

Do I need to say that you cannot be saved by your works? Do I need to repeat it over and over that nothing you do can deserve mercy? Salvation must be the free gift of God. But this is the point. God will give pardon to a sinner, and peace to a troubled heart, on certain lines. Are you on those lines wholly? If so, you will have peace; and if you have not that peace, something or other has been omitted. To begin with, the first thing is faith. ... “I have no peace,” says one. Hast thou unfeignedly repented of sin? Is thy mind totally changed about sin, so that what thou didst once love thou dost now hate, and that which thou didst once hate thou dost now love? Is there a hearty loathing, and giving up, and forsaking of sin? Do not deceive yourself. You cannot be saved in your sins; you are to be saved from your sins. You and your sins must part, or else Christ and you will never be joined. See to this. Labour to give up every sin, and turn from every false way, else your faith is but a dead faith, and will never save you. ----ibid., vol. XXXI, (1885), pg. 178.

Let me press you with a home-question,----will you be obedient to Jesus in everything?

“For know----nor of the terms complain----
Where Jesus comes he comes to reign.”

If you would have Christ for a Saviour, you must also take him for a King. ----ibid., pg. 179.

Abraham's servant may have thought: She may refuse to make so great a change as to quit Mesopotamia for Canaan. She had been born and bred away there in a settled country, and all her associations were with her father's house; and to marry Isaac she must tear herself away. So, too, you cannot have Jesus, and have the world too; you must break with sin to be joined to Jesus. You must come away from the licentious world, the fashionable world, the scientific world, and from the (so-called) religious world. If you become a Christian, you must quit old habits, old motives, old ambitions, old pleasures, old boasts, old modes of thought. All things must become new. You must leave the things you have loved, and seek many of those things which you have hitherto despised. There must come to you as great a change as if you had died, and were made over again. You answer, “Must I endure all this for One whom I have never seen, and for an inheritance on which I have never set my foot?” It is even so. Although I am grieved that you turn away, I am not in the least surprised, for it is not given to many to see him who is invisible, or to choose the strait and narrow way which leadeth unto life.
----ibid., vol. XXXIV, (1888), pg. 558.

There are men in the world who want to go to heaven; but they want to keep on the road to hell, and yet get to heaven. They would get to the north by travelling to the south. There are some who would go home to their Father; but they would like to take the swine, and the swine-troughs, and the husks with them. A pretty sight that prodigal would have been, would he not, driving the hogs, and carrying the hog-troughs on his back, to his father's house? Such a picture is not to be imagined. It never existed in fact, and never can. John Bunyan tells us that, when he was playing at a game of “cat” one Sunday, on Elstow Green, as he was going to strike the cat with his stick, he thought he heard a voice, crying, “Wilt thou keep thy sins, and go to hell; or wilt thou give up thy sins, and go to heaven?” That question, without an angel's voice, you may hear at this moment. I put it now to some of you who would like to keep your sins, and yet go to heaven. You lament after the Lord. You would be a saint; but then you want to be a sinner, too. You would be a child of God; but then you would not like to turn out of the devil's family. You would not like to be ridiculed by the world. No, you want the crown without the cross. You want the end without the way. You want heaven without holiness, and forgiveness without repentance; and this can never be.
----ibid., vol. XXXVII, (1891), pg. 461.

Ah, you cannot keep your sin and go to heaven! Unchastity, fornication, adultery, uncleanness of body----these must be given up. God is ready to forgive the harlot and the fornicator; but they must quit their sins, once for all, and for ever. You cannot lie in the sty, and yet go home to your Father. This abominable thing must be totally given up, and never thought of again, if you would be forgiven and saved. ...

How many do I know, too, who have for an idol the god of drink! Old Bacchus sits astride not only of the wine-cask, but of many a man's heart. ... Sir, you must quit strong drink if you would be saved. No drunkard has any inheritance in the kingdom of God, and drunkenness must be given up, and chambering, and wantonness, and gluttony, and all the sins of the flesh. ----ibid., pg. 463.

My text is all about repentance; it is an exhortation from God, very brief, and sententious, but very earnest and plain: “Return ye now every one from his evil way.” ... God help you to listen to the call, and to obey it! It is a message of mercy, and it means that God would have you saved, and therefore he cries to you, “Return,” because he is willing to receive you, and to blot out all your sin.

But remember that is equally the call of a holy God, the God who knows that you cannot be saved except you turn from your evil ways. A holy God will give no salvation to the man who continues in his unrighteousness. There is no heaven for the man who will not leave his sin. Thou must quit thy sin, or renounce all hope of salvation; thou must turn or burn; thou must repent or perish. God's unsullied holiness will never alter this law, thou must be driven from his face in the day of his wrath unless thou dost turn from thy evil way in the day of his mercy. Hope not that there shall be any exception made for thee to this rule, for there shall not be. ----ibid., vol. XLIII, (1897), pg. 590.

But when you are hearing the gospel, be not content with merely hearing, but repent “straightway.” You cannot have Christ and keep your sins; therefore give up all evil at once. ----ibid., vol. XLV, (1899), pg. 187.

[Reader! is not this enough?----enough to leave no doubt in the mind of any honest man that Spurgeon held the universal forsaking of all sin and unconditional surrender to Christ to be essential to salvation----as essential as faith----and that this was his message from the beginning to the end of his days? And I have only made a selection. I have consulted but half the volumes of Spurgeon's sermons, but the messsage is the same everywhere. And I direct all cavillers to observe that the preacher does not say, “If you are saved, you will do these things”----no, but “If you would be saved, you must.”----”You must do so, or you cannot be saved.” If you have any doubt of this, review the quotations again. ----editor.]

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OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise, and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own position is to be learned from his own writings.