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Spurgeon’s Comments in August 1887

In August of 1887 Charles Spurgeon wrote an article that would lead to the final debate he would have and many feel would end his life from the weight of the controversy.  Spurgeon wrote an article called, “Another Word Concerning the Down-Grade.”  The article was based on articles that his friend, Robert Shindler, though he was not stated to be the author at the time of their publication in Spurgeon’s magazine, The Sword And The Trowel.  Shindler wrote two essays both of which attacked the evangelical church in England and pointed out that the church was on a down-grade and was moving away from the gospel of Christ toward pragmatism.  The essays were a history of the Calvinistic churches in England from the time of about 1662 to the year of 1887.  The articles showed the slow, down-grade move toward liberalism.

Spurgeon wrote in his first article after Shinder’s the following:

No lover of the gospel can conceal from himself the fact that the days are evil.  We are willing to make a large discount from our apprehensions on the score of natural timidity, the caution of age, and the weakness produced by pain; but yet our solemn conviction is that things are much worse in many churches than they seem to be, and are rapidly tending downward.  Read those newspapers which represent the Broad School of Dissent, and ask yourself, how much farther could they go?  What doctrine remains to be abandoned?  What other truth to be the object of contempt?  A new religion has been initiated, which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as the old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for gospel preaching.  The Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth, and yet these enemies of our faith expect us to call them brethren, and maintain a confederacy with them!

At the back of doctrinal falsehood comes a natural decline of spiritual life, evidenced by a taste for questionable amusements, and a weariness of devotional meetings.  At a certain meeting of ministers and church officers, one after another doubted the value of prayer meetings; all confessed that they had a very small attendance, and several acknowledged without the slightest compunction that they had quite given them up.  What means this?  Are churches in a right condition when they have only one meeting for prayer in a week, and that a mere skeleton?  Churches which have prayer meetings several times on the Lord’s day, and very frequently during the week, yet feel their need of more prayer; but what can be said of those who very seldom practice united supplication?  Are there few conversions?  Do the congregations dwindle?  Who wonders that this is the case when the spirit of prayer has departed?

Spurgeon saw the prayer meeting as the evidence that the churches were struggling.  He admitted that many of the churches still had large attendance on the Lord’s day and that the churches still had preaching but the prayer meeting was the sign of her sickness.

Consider that today.  So few churches pray.  If Spurgeon were to apply this to your church, would he find a praying church?  Jesus said in Mark 11:17 that His house would be a house of prayer for all the nations.  The church, the living body of Christ, is to His ambassadors on the earth (2 Corinthians 5:20).  We are to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) and to be His intercessors for the lost (Matthew 9:37-38; Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-7).  The prayer meeting, sadly, is abandoned in far too many churches.  In her place are all types of things.  Amusement.  Various ministries such as youth, children, bus, homeless, preaching, teaching, etc.  But prayer, the Cinderella of the church, is not seen nor wanted.  Oh yes, we speak of prayer but do we pray?  We hear sermons on prayer but do we pray?  We talk of being a people of the Bible, a people who believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God but do we obey God’s Word and pray?  Do we seek Him earnestly?

Sadly, much of the emphasis on prayer seems to be coming from those who hold wayward theology.  The 24/7 prayer movement is largely made up of those who hold to strange views on end times, bizarre manifestations “of the Spirit” and other wayward practices including endorsing contemplative prayer from the likes of Catholic/Buddhist priest Thomas Merton.  Sound doctrinal churches are sadly not praying.  It should be the strong, conservative, Protestant churches that should be praying.  It should be those who hold to the core doctrines of the Reformation who should be tarrying.  It should be those faithful disciples of Christ who love Him, love His salvation, love His Church, love the lost, and who desire, more than anything else, His glory to fill the earth who should be waiting on the Lord and seeking His face.

Oh saints of God, let us cry out to the Lord to teach us to pray (Luke 11:1)!  Let us be a faithful people of God who know what it means to be earnest in prayer (Romans 12:12).  Let us be a people who know the value of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and are always found seeking His face.  Our passion is to be see Him exalted and this happens first through faithful praying (Luke 18:1).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/15/2013 at 10:32 AM

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