“Rest time is not waste time” by Charles Spurgeon

“As it is recorded that David, in the heat of battle, waxed faint, (2 Samuel 21:15) so may it be written of all the servants of the Lord. Fits of depression come over the most of us.

Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.

There may be here and there men of iron, to whom wear and tear work no perceptible detriment, but surely the rust frets even these; and as for ordinary men, the Lord knows, and makes them to know, that they are but dust.

Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between, I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon, that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy; and that sadder men might know that one upon whom the sun has shone right joyously did not always walk in the light.

Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression. Who can bear the weight of souls without sometimes sinking to the dust?

Passionate longings after men’s conversion, if not fully satisfied (and when are they?), consume the soul with anxiety and disappointment. To see the hopeful turn aside, the godly grow cold, professors abusing their privileges, and sinners waxing more bold in sin—are not these sights enough to crush us to the earth?

The kingdom comes not as we would, the reverend name is not hallowed as we desire, and for this we must weep. How can we be otherwise than sorrowful, while men believe not our report, and the divine arm is not revealed?

All mental work tends to weary and to depress, for much study is a weariness of the flesh; but ours is more than mental work—it is heart work, the labour of our inmost soul.

How often, on Lord’s-Day evenings, do we feel as if life were completely washed out of us! After pouring out our souls over our congregations, we feel like empty earthen pitchers which a child might break.

Probably, if we were more like Paul, and watched for souls at a nobler rate, we should know more of what it is to be eaten up by the zeal of the Lord’s house. It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus.

We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed; we are to spend and to be spent, not to lay ourselves up in lavender, and nurse our flesh.

Such soul-travail as that of a faithful minister will bring on occasional seasons of exhaustion, when heart and flesh will fail. Moses’ hands grew heavy in intercession, and Paul cried out, “Who is sufficient for these things?”

Even John the Baptist is thought to have had his fainting fits, and the apostles were once amazed, and were sore afraid.

There can be little doubt that sedentary habits have a tendency to create despondency in some constitutions. To sit long in one posture, poring over a book, or driving a quill, is in itself a taxing of nature.

But add to this a badly-ventilated chamber, a body which has long been without muscular exercise, and a heart burdened with many cares, and we have all the elements for preparing a seething cauldron of despair, especially in the dim months of fog.

Let a man be naturally as blithe as a bird, he will hardly be able to bear up year after year against such a suicidal process; he will make his study a prison and his books the wardens of a jail, while nature lies outside his window calling him to health and beckoning him to joy.

He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy.

A day’s breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours’ ramble in the beech woods’ umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive.

A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.

The ferns and the rabbits, the streams and the trouts, the fir trees and the squirrels, the primroses and the violets, the farm-yard, the new-mown hay, and the fragrant hops—these are the best medicine for hypochondriacs, the surest tonics for the declining, the best refreshments for the weary.

For lack of opportunity, or inclination, these great remedies are neglected, and the student becomes a self-immolated victim. In the midst of a long stretch of unbroken labour, the same affliction may be looked for.

The bow cannot be always bent without fear of breaking. Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body. Our Sabbaths are our days of toil, and if we do not rest upon some other day we shall break down.

Even the earth must lie fallow and have her Sabbaths, and so must we. Hence the wisdom and compassion of our Lord, when he said to his disciples, “Let us go into the desert and rest awhile.”

What! when the people are fainting? When the multitudes are like sheep upon the mountains without a shepherd? Does Jesus talk of rest?

When Scribes and Pharisees, like grievous wolves, are rending the flock, does he take his followers on an excursion into a quiet resting place?

Does some red-hot zealot denounce such atrocious forgetfulness of present and pressing demands? Let him rave in his folly. The Master knows better than to exhaust his servants and quench the light of Israel.

Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength. Look at the mower in the summer’s day, with so much to cut down ere the sun sets.

He pauses in his labour— is he a sluggard? He looks for his stone, and begins to draw it up and down his scythe, with “rink-a-tink—rink-a-tink—rink-a-tink.”

Is that idle music— is he wasting precious moments? How much he might have mown while he has been ringing out those notes on his scythe!

But he is sharpening his tool, and he will do far more when once again he gives his strength to those long sweeps which lay the grass prostrate in rows before him.

Even thus a little pause prepares the mind for greater service in the good cause. Fishermen must mend their nets, and we must every now and then repair our mental waste and set our machinery in order for future service.

To tug the oar from day to day, like a galley-slave who knows no holidays, suits not mortal men. Mill-streams go on and on for ever, but we must have our pauses and our intervals.

Who can help being out of breath when the race is continued without intermission?

Even beasts of burden must be turned out to grass occasionally; the very sea pauses at ebb and flood; earth keeps the Sabbath of the wintry months; and man, even when exalted to be God’s ambassador, must rest or faint; must trim his lamp or let it burn low; must recruit his vigour or grow prematurely old.

It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.

On, on, on for ever, without recreation, may suit spirits emancipated from this “heavy clay,” but while we are in this tabernacle, we must every now and then cry halt, and serve the Lord by holy inaction and consecrated leisure.

Let no tender conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of harness for awhile, but learn from the experience of others the necessity and duty of taking timely rest.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 179, 182, 183, 184, 186-188.

“Be sure to speak plainly” by Charles Spurgeon

“Be sure to speak plainly because, however excellent your matter, if a man does not comprehend it, it can be of no use to him.

You might as well have spoken to him in the language of Kamskatka as in your own tongue if you use phrases that are quite out of his line and modes of expression which are not suitable to his mind.

Go up to his level if he is a poor man; go down to his understanding if he is an educated person. You smile at my contorting the terms in that manner, but I think there is more going up in being plain to the illiterate than there is in being refined for the polite.

At any rate, it is the more difficult of the two, and most like the Saviour’s mode of speech. It is wise to walk in a path where your auditors can accompany you, and not to mount the high horse and ride over their heads.

Our Lord and Master was the King of preachers, and yet He never was above anybody’s comprehension, except so far as the grandeur and glory of His matter were concerned; His words and utterances were such that He spake like ‘the holy child Jesus.’

Let your hearts indite a good matter, clearly arranged and plainly put, and you are pretty sure to gain the ear, and so the heart.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle(Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 1: 141.

“Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord” by Charles Spurgeon

“The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience. Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness.

Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him.

Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not His saints. Live by the day— nay, by the hour.

Put no trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help.

Be not surprised when friends fail you: it is a failing world.  Never count upon immutability in man: inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disappointment.

The disciples of Jesus forsook Him; be not amazed if your adherents wander away to other teachers: as they were not your all when with you, all is not gone from you with their departure.

Serve God with all your might while the candle is burning, and then when it goes out for a season, you will have the less to regret. Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are.

When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord.

Set small store by present rewards; be grateful for earnests by the way, but look for the recompensing joy hereafter. Continue, with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you.

Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light: faith’s rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her Great Guide.

Between this and heaven there may be rougher weather yet, but it is all provided for by our covenant Head. In nothing let us be turned aside from the path which the divine call has urged us to pursue.

Come fair or come foul, the pulpit is our watch-tower, and the ministry our warfare; be it ours, when we cannot see the face of our God, to trust under THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 191-192.

“Use very hard arguments and very soft words” by Charles Spurgeon

“In all probability, sensible conversation will sometimes drift into controversy, and here many a good man runs upon a snag. The sensible minister will be particularly gentle in argument. He, above all men, should not make the mistake of fancying that there is force in temper, and power in speaking angrily.

A heathen who stood in a crowd in Calcutta, listening to a missionary disputing with a Brahmin, said he knew which was right though he did not understand the language—he knew that he was in the wrong who lost his temper first. For the most part, that is a very accurate way of judging.

Try to avoid debating with people. State your opinion and let them state theirs. If you see that a stick is crooked, and you want people to see how crooked it is, lay a straight rod down beside it; that will be quite enough.

But if you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words. Frequently you cannot convince a man by tugging at his reason, but you can persuade him by winning his affections.

The other day I had the misery to need a pair of new boots, and though I bade the fellow make them as large as canoes, I had to labour fearfully to get them on. With a pair of boot-hooks I toiled like the men on board the vessel with Jonah, but all in vain.

Just then my friend put in my way a little French chalk, and the work was done in a moment. Wonderfully coaxing was that French chalk.

Gentlemen, always carry a little French chalk with you into society, a neat packet of Christian persuasiveness, and you will soon discover the virtues of it.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 201-202.

“No one knows what a smile and a hearty sentence may do” by Charles Spurgeon

“It is not every preacher we would care to talk with; but there are some whom one would give a fortune to converse with for an hour.

I love a minister whose face invites me to make him my friend– a man upon whose doorstep you read, ‘Salve,’ ‘Welcome;’ and feel that there is no need of that Pompeian warning, ‘Cave Canem,’ “Beware of the dog.”

Give me the man around whom the children come, like flies around a honey-pot: they are first-class judges of a good man. You will find that children have their instincts, and discover very speedily who is their friend, and depend upon it the children’s friend is one who will be worth knowing.

Have a good word to say to each and every member of the family– the big boys, and the young ladies, and the little girls, and everybody.

No one knows what a smile and a hearty sentence may do. A man who is to do much with men must love them, and feel at home with them.

An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living.

A man must have a great heart if he would have a great congregation. His heart should be as capacious as those noble harbours along our coast, which contain sea-room for a fleet.

When a man has a large, loving heart, men go to him as ships to a haven, and feel at peace when they have anchored under the lee of his friendship. Such a man is hearty in private as well as in public; his blood is not cold and fishy, but he is warm as your own fireside.

No pride and selfishness chill you when you approach him; he has his doors all open to receive you, and you are at home with him at once. Such men I would persuade you to be, every one of you.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 196-197.

“Our whole nature must be fired with an all-consuming passion for the glory of God and the good of men” by Charles Spurgeon

“We ought to be all alive, and always alive. A pillar of light and fire should be the preacher’s fit emblem.

Our ministry must be emphatic, or it will never effect these thoughtless times.

And to this end our hearts must be habitually fervent, and our whole nature must be fired with an all-consuming passion for the glory of God and the good of men.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2008), 379.

“Preach Christ, always and evermore” by Charles Spurgeon

“Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme.

The world needs to be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach Him. Justification by faith should be far more than it is the daily testimony of Protestant pulpits; and if with this master-truth there should be more generally associated the other great doctrines of grace, the better for our church and our age.

If with the zeal of Methodists we can preach the doctrine of Puritans, a great future is before us. The fire of Wesley, and the fuel of Whitefield will cause a burning which shall set the forests of error on fire, and warm the very soul of this cold earth.

We are not called to proclaim philosophy and metaphysics, but the simple gospel. Man’s fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through an atonement, and salvation as the result of faith, these are our battle-axe and weapons of war.

We have enough to do to learn and teach these great truths, and accursed be that learning which shall divert us from our mission, or that wilful ignorance which shall cripple us in its pursuit.

More and more am I jealous lest any views upon prophecy, church government, politics, or even systematic theology, should withdraw one of us from glorying in the cross of Christ. Salvation is a theme for which I would fain enlist every holy tongue.

I am greedy after witnesses for the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Oh, that Christ crucified were the universal burden of men of God!”

–Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1875/2008), 87-88.

“The general blowing up of windbags” by Charles Spurgeon

“We should constantly preserve the holy activity of our minds. Woe unto the minister who dares to waste an hour. Read John Foster’s ‘Essay On the Improvement of Time’ and resolve never to lose a second of it.

A man who goes up and down from Monday morning till Saturday night, and indolently dreams that he is to have his text sent down by an angelic messenger in the last hour or two of the week, tempts God, and deserves to stand speechless on the Sabbath.

We have no leisure as ministers; we are never off duty, but are on our watchtowers day and night. Students, I tell you solemnly nothing will excuse you from the most rigid economy of time. It is at your peril that you trifle with it.

The leaf of your ministry will soon wither unless, like the blessed man in the first Psalm, you meditate in the law of the Lord both day and night. I am most anxious that you should not throw away time in religious dissipation, or in gossiping and frivolous talk.

Beware of running about from this meeting to that listening to mere twaddle and contributing your share to the general blowing up of windbags. A man great at tea drinkings, evening parties, and Sunday-school excursions is generally little everywhere else.

Your pulpit preparations are your first business and if you neglect these you will bring no credit upon yourself or your office. Bees are making honey from morning till night and we should be always gathering stores for our people. I have no belief in that ministry which ignores laborious preparation.”

–Charles Spurgeon, “On the Choice of a Text,” in Lectures to My Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1875/2008), 103-104.

“Preach Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme.

The world needs to be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach him. Justification by faith should be far more than it is the daily testimony of Protestant pulpits; and if with this master-truth there should be more generally associated the other great doctrines of grace, the better for our church and our age.

If with the zeal of Methodists we can preach the doctrine of Puritans, a great future is before us. The fire of Wesley, and the fuel of Whitefield will cause a burning which shall set the forests of error on fire, and warm the very soul of this cold earth.

We are not called to proclaim philosophy and metaphysics, but the simple gospel. Man’s fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through an atonement, and salvation as the result of faith, these are our battle-axe and weapons of war.

We have enough to do to learn and teach these great truths, and accursed be that learning which shall divert us from our mission, or that wilful ignorance which shall cripple us in its pursuit.

More and more am I jealous lest any views upon prophecy, church government, politics, or even systematic theology, should withdraw one of us from glorying in the cross of Christ. Salvation is a theme for which I would fain enlist every holy tongue.

I am greedy after witnesses for the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Oh, that Christ crucified were the universal burden of men of God!”

–Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1875/2008), 87-88.

“We need the help of the Holy Spirit” by Charles Spurgeon

“If we are not instructed, how can we instruct? If we have not thought, how shall we lead others to think?

It is in our study-work, in that blessed labour when we are alone with the Book before us, that we need the help of the Holy Spirit. He holds the key of the heavenly treasury, and can enrich us beyond conception.

He has the clue of the most labyrinthine doctrine, and can lead us in the way of truth. He can break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and give to us the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places.

If you study the original, consult the commentaries, and meditate deeply, yet if you neglect to cry mightily unto the Spirit of God, your study will not profit you.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Holy Spirit in Connection to Our Ministry” in Lectures to My Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875-1894/repr. 2008), 227.