Throwback Theology: Charles Spurgeon on Suffering & Trials

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) is one of the most prolific preachers in Christianity. His sermons are a great mix of theology and poetry. Spurgeon was a master of words and distinguished preacher. He also knew a great deal about facing trials and suffering. His life was just as much a testimony to the type of preaching he exposited. Consider the words of Charles Spurgeon.

“You may think, my dear brethren and sisters, that you have been tried more than others; but it is only your wspurgeonant of knowledge of the trials of others which leads you to imagine that your own are unique. There are many others, besides yourself, in the furnace, and in quite as hot a part of it as that in which you are now placed. Note what Paul says: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” It is a human temptation, not a superhuman one, which has assailed you; that is to say, one which can be withstood by men,—not one that must inevitably sweep them away. You have never been tempted with an angelic temptation. Satan has tempted you, young man, but not with the same temptation with which he allured the angels who kept not their first estate. There may be other orders of intelligence, for whom there are other forms of temptation, because their intellects are superior to yours; but God has allowed you to be assailed in a way which is suitable as a test to you as a man. The trials, that have come upon you, have been moderated to your capacity as a man. The Lord knows that you are but animated dust, so he has not permitted you to be treated as if you were made of steel or iron. He has himself dealt with you as an earthen vessel,—a thing of clay in which he has caused life to dwell. He has not broken you with his rod of iron, as he would have done if he had smitten you with it.
“But I am very sorely tempted,” saith one. Yes, perhaps you are; but the Lord has given you the history of the children of Israel in the wilderness, to let you see that you have not been tempted more than they were. “Ah!” says another, “but I find myself placed in a very peculiar position, where I am greatly tried. I have to labour hard, and I have much difficulty in earning my daily bread, and I am beset with trials of many kinds.” Well, dear friend, even though what you say is perfectly true, I am not certain that your position is any more likely to bring temptation than was that of the children of Israel in the wilderness. “Ah!” you say, “but they had not to work to earn their bread. The manna came to them every morning, and they had only to gather it, and to eat it. They were not engaged in commercial transactions, there were no markets in the desert,—no Corn Exchange, no Stock Exchange, no Smithfield, no Billingsgate,—no taking down the shutters in the morning, and putting them up again at night, and going a great part of the day without any customers. They were separated from all other nations, and were in a peculiarly advantageous position.” Yet, dear friends, you need not wish to be placed in such a position, because, advantageous as it was, in some respects, the Israelites there were evidently tempted to all sorts of sins, and fell into them very grievously. Having often read the story of their forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness, you know their sad history. With so favourable a position granted to them, under the Lord’s own special guardianship, and enriched with many choice mercies, we might have expected that they would have been free from temptation;—or, at any rate, that they would not have fallen into its snare; yet it was not so, for the devil can tempt in the wilderness quite as well as in the city, as we know from the experience of Christ himself. The devil would tempt you even if your bread was given to you every morning, instead of your having to earn it; he would tempt you if you had no business to attend to, and never had to go into the world to meet with your fellow-men. In fact, the story of the Israelites teaches me that it is best for you to work, and best for you to be poor, and best for you not to make money as fast as you would like, and best for you to be surrounded by cares of various kinds. I think I judge rightly that the people of God, the saved ones, do not fall into such gross sins as the Israelites did in the wilderness; so that the saints’ position, though it may appear worse than that of Israel, is really better.”

 

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 50, 578-579


Throwback Theology is a blogging segment of classic sermons, books and articles by some of Christianity’s greatest thinkers. I hope this will encourage you and challenge you to think more deeply about our great God.