The Down Grade Controversy
The "Down-grade" Controversy, from Mr. Spurgeon's Standpoint
Controversy is never a very happy element for the child of God: he would far rather be in communion with his Lord than be engaged in defending the faith, or in attacking error. But the soldier of Christ knows no choice in his Master's commands. He may feel it to be better for him to lie upon the bed of rest than to stand covered with the sweat and dust of battle; but, as a soldier, he has learned to obey, and the rule of his obedience is not his personal comfort, but his Lord's absolute command. The servant of God must endeavour to maintain all the truth which his Master has revealed to him, because, as a Christian soldier, this is part of his duty. But while he does so, he accords to others the liberty which he himself enjoys.C. H. S., in address at the Tabernacle, 1861.
A Christian minister must expect to lose his repute among men; he must be willing to suffer every reproach for Christ's sake; but, then, he may rest assured that he will never lose his real honour if it be risked for the truth's sake, and placed in the Redeemer's hand. The day shall declare the excellence of the upright, for it will reveal all that was hidden, and bring to the light that which was concealed. There will be a resurrection of characters as well as of persons. Every reputation that has been obscured by clouds of reproach, for Christ's sake, shall be rendered glorious when the righteous shall "shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."C. H. S.
Just now, the Lord Jesus is betrayed by not a few of His professed ministers. He is being crucified afresh in the perpetual attacks of scepticism against His blessed gospel; and it may be that things will wax worse and worse. This is not the first occasion when it has been so, for, at various times in the history of the Church of God, His enemies have exulted, and cried out that the gospel of past ages was exploded, and might be reckoned as dead and buried. For one, I mean to sit over against the very sepulchre of truth. I am a disciple of the old-fashioned doctrine as much when it is covered with obloquy and rebuke as when it shall again display its power, as it surely shall. Sceptics may seem to take the truth, and bind it, and scourge it, and crucify it, and say that it is dead; and they may endeavour to bury it in scorn, but the Lord has many a Joseph and a Nicodemus who will see that all due honour is done even to the body of truth, and will wrap the despised creed in sweet spices, and hide it away in their hearts. They may, perhaps, be half afraid that it is really dead, as the wise men assert; yet it is precious to their souls, and they will come forth right gladly to espouse its cause, and to confess that they are its disciples. We will sit down in sorrow, but not in despair; and watch until the stone is rolled away, and Christ in His truth shall live again, arid be openly triumphant. We shall see a Divine interposition, and shall cease to fear; while they who stand armed to prevent the resurrection of the grand old doctrine shall quake and become as dead men, because the gospel's everlasting life has been vindicated, and they are made to quail before the brightness of its glory.C. H. S., in sermon at the Tabernacle, 1878.
I protest that, if all the sages of the world were to utter one thundering sarcasm, if they concentrated all their scorn into one, universal sneer of contempt, I do not think it would now affect me the turn of a hair, so sure am I that my Lord will justify my confidence.C. H. S., in sermon at the Tabernacle, 1878.
A man may sometimes seem self-assertive when, really, he has so completely lost himself in God that he does not care what people think about him,whether they regard him as an egotist or not. Some men appear to be modest because they are proud, while others seem to be proud because they have sunk themselves, and only speak so boldly because they have their Master's authority at the back of their words.C. H. S., in exposition of 1 Kings 17:1.
As the Roman sentinel in Pompeii stood to his post even when the city was destroyed, so do I stand to the truth of the atonement though the Church is being buried beneath the boiling mud-showers of modern heresy.C. H. S., in sermon at the Tabernacle, 1887.
I might not have had such an intense loathing of the new theology if I had not seen so much of its evil effects. I could tell you of a preacher of unbelief, whom I have seen, in my own vestry, utterly broken down, driven almost to despair, and having no rest for the sole of his foot until he came back to simple trust in the atoning sacrifice. If he were speaking to you, he would say, "Cling to your faith, brethren; if you once throw away your shield, you will lay yourself open to imminent dangers and countless wounds; for nothing can protect you but the shield of faith."C. H. S., in address at College Conference, 1891.
I am well content to go shares with those who have gone before me to the skies. Some of them, as they burned to death for Christ's sake, cried aloud, "Christ is all." I am quite willing to take my part with the apostles whom the wise men of to-day count to be fools; and with those still greater fools, as many consider the Reformers who brought back into the light the great doctrine of justification by faith. I am satisfied to tread the path my sires have trod; I have an illustrious pedigree in the skies, and I will not snap that chain which links me with those who have entered the glory-land. This faith saved them in the time of poverty, and persecution, and martyrdom, and death: and it will save me. At any rate, I would sooner risk my soul on all the difficulties of the old theology, so long tried and proved, than on all the beauties of the novel doctrine taught by so many nowadays. I believe we are all of one mind upon this matter, and some of its may live to see great alterations concerning the present popular teaching. We may learn a lesson from what happened in the last century, the style of much of the preaching was such as tended to the emptying of chapels, and the multiplication of spiders. Nonconformity gradually drifted away towards Unitarianism, and true religion would have become almost extinct in England if the Lord had not raised up those two believing men, Whitefield and Wesley, and others like-minded, who were a great power for good in the land. And I believe the Lord has raised us up, together with many others who hold the same faith, that we may fight this battle, and win the victory, to the glory of His holy Name.
Whenever I have found myself represented as a fool because I cling so tenaciously to the old faith, I have thought to myself, "What mail, by proclaiming any new doctrine, has been able to draw such congregations as have filled the Tabernacle for the last quarter of a century simply to listen to the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified?" We do not set up to be anything great in ourselves; but we do claim to be servants of the great God, believers in the great Saviour, proclaimers of His great salvation, and, God helping us, we shall keep on doing this till we die; and then, unto principalities and powers in the Heavenly places, we will make known the manifold wisdom of God.C. H. S., in address to students of the Pastors' College, 1885.
The Reformed Reader Home Page
Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved