An Insult to Oysters

8 09 2007

I’ve been having a bit of a Spurgeon-fest since June this year, and have been richly blessed both by reading about the great preacher’s life, and sampling some of his own writings. I’m currently working my way through ‘An All Round Ministry’, and am finding myself thoroughly blessed. A couple of passages that have been particularly rich are quoted below, both are from his address ‘Forward!’.

The first relates to the deadly tendency in all of us who are preachers to be too long winded. I love the humour in what Spurgeon says:

“I heard one say, the other day, that a certain preacher had no more gifts for the ministry than an oyster, and in my own judgment this was a slander on the oyster, for that worthy bivalve shows great discretion in his openings, and he also knows when to close”.

On a more serious note Spurgeon, at the end of the ‘Forward!’ address issues a heartfelt challenge to the ministers and students whom he was speaking to. It has blessed me, challenged me, and encouraged me in the step we are presently taking into missionary work:

“I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this? Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish? Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim upon us? We ought to put it on this footing,—not, “Can I prove that I ought to go?” but, “Can I prove that I ought not to go?” When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man. I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself. I have felt that, if some of our leading ministers would go forth, it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go. After balancing the whole thing, I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the judgment of most Christians would confirm my decision; but I hope I would readily, and willingly, and cheerfully, go abroad if I did not feel that I ought to remain at home. Brethren, put yourselves through the same process. We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of His elect among them, we must go and search for them somehow or other. Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is almost annihilated. True, we have not the Pentecostal gift of tongues; but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift. The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum. There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk. Who will go?”

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